Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Remember how I told you all I was planning to nail down our top 21 favorite meals and plug them into my Google Calendar and hope to never plan another weeknight meal again??? Well...I did it and I am really excited about it. You just save them to repeat once a month on that day then on Meal Plan Monday, you just print your calendar out that already has all your meals for the week! One thing that I really like about this method is that I can still move the meals around to make sure what we have on the menu will suit what we are doing that week. For example, we host Monday Night Football at our house and something like chili dogs is a dinner that I would do on Monday but if Greek Spaghetti pops up, I can just switch them out. Easy Peesy. Give it a shot. You will thank me :) Here is my Menu for this week. Hopefully it inspires you to get in your kitchen and cook up something yummy! Head over to Orgjunkie.com for more menu planning ideas!
Monday: Chili Dogs served with coleslaw and potato chips...football food!

Tuesday: Anniversary Dinner...we are going out for Sushi!

Wednesday: Pumpkin Ravioli served with green salad and Garlic Bread

Thursday: Happy Thanksgiving! We are Brining/smoking a 14.5 lb turkey and I am making pecan bacon dressing, creamed corn, and pecan pie bars. We are taking everything over to my husband's grandparents house.

Friday: It's a friend's birthday and we are going out!

Saturday: Soup of some sort...we are decorating for Christmas!

Sunday: Potluck dinner at church. I am bringing potato salad and cupcakes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My 21 Meals...

In lieu of posting my actual menu plan for this week (because it's a little late for that) I am posting this little nugget...

Today, while Google-ing ways to make my menu planning as effortless as possible, I ran across a really cool resource! If you are like me and live and die by your To-Do-List, this is a must have! It's a site called ListPlanIt.com and when you sign up, you gain access to loads of pre-made lists that help make managing your time super fun...that is if your idea of fun is crossing things off a list :) It's only ten dollars for 3 months and all the lists are pdf's so you can save the ones you like to a file on your desktop and print them as you need them. I still swear by the Daily Docket on SimpleMom.net as far as everyday schedules go, but these people over at ListPlanIt.com have made lists for everything under the sun which requires my brain to do less thinking and I like that! Today, I printed the list for "My 21 Meals" and filled in 21 of our favorite dinners, what cookbook they are in and what page they are on, and what side dishes go with them. I whole punched it and put it in my recipe binder so now when I go to meal plan, I can pick dinner recipes from that list knowing they are tried and true favorites instead of thumbing through my cookbooks every week trying to decide what makes it on to the weekly menu. A lot our favorite things are just random recipes I have acquired over the years, but I also use 2 cookbooks very regularly and they are "Fix it and Forget it: 5 Ingredients or Less" and Southern Livings "Easy Weeknight Favorites". I am hoping that my new favorite list will save on my grocery bill as well as my time because I won't be buying obscure ingredients for a recipe I will make once and hate. Lastly, I got another tip from SimpleMom and that is to load your favorite recipes into your Google calendar and put them on a 3-4 week rotation. I am going to try that this week so I will let you know how it goes. Happy cooking friends!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Book Club for 2009!!!

I am going to join Simple Mom's Book Club for 2009. You should too because it's going to be great fun! Click on that cute little button for more info. Happy reading :)

Menu plan Tuesday???...maybe Wednesday...

In light of all the crazy that has been my life for the past few days...sadly I still have not done my menu plan for the week. I know, I know what's the matter with me??? I LIVE for my menu plan. It is my sanity. But the fire happened and they had the nerve to cancel school for two days (really hoping they don't make it three) and now the little man is sick with a double whammy ear and tonsil infection so as soon as I nail it down I will post it for your viewing pleasure :)

It's been chaos...

Hi friends :) It's been a crazy few days in the OC. We've been on fire! On Saturday Nov. 15th we took a little jaunt down to Sea World to spend the day with Shamu and about two hours after we got there, our cell phones were ringing off the hook with worried family and friends calling to inform us that our city was on fire! We said farewell to Shamu and his buddies and high-tailed it home to pack up our valuable things and hope for the best. We packed the photos, the computer, important documents, and anything else that couldn't be replaced. Then we waited it out at our pastor's home several miles away. Luckily our neighborhood remained on voluntary evacuation and we were able to return to our home around midnight. It was smokey and ashy and gross, but we had our own beds to sleep in and for that, we were thankful :) We were very lucky and our hearts go out to all those who lost their homes.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Menu Plan Monday!!!

Hi friends :) Here is what I have on my dinner menu for this week. If you are interested in any of the recipes, just let me know. Wow, we are eating a lot of chicken this week...

Monday: Baked Ziti, Garlic Bread, Salad

Tuesday: Creamy Chicken Casserole (great for leftover chicken), Fried Potatoes, Green Beans

Wednesday: Chinese Lemon Chicken (Crock Pot), Brown Rice, Broccoli

Thursday: Pesto Chicken Pasta, Garlic Bread

Friday: Chicken Enchiladas (freezer meal I prepped last week), Rice, Mandarin Salad

Saturday: Kitchen is closed...we're going to Sea World!

Sunday: Chicken Pot Pie (another freezer meal prepped last week), Spinach Apple Salad

Saturday, November 8, 2008

By George, I think she's got it!

Well, it's only taken me 4 years, but I think I have finally mastered the whole SAHM (stat at home mom) thing. It has not been an easy road for me . I had visions of this going a lot smoother, but I don't think I actually realized how stinkin' hard this job really is. I am the cook, the housekeeper, the driver, the errand runner, the mommy, the wife, AND I have two actual jobs. I am very blessed to be able to work at home. I can contribute to our income and be here for my family and that is HUGE for me. My husband and I started a tutoring business in June of 2007. In a nutshell, Brian had been tutoring privately since summer of 2005 and was bringing in some fabulous extra cash to pay the bills and buy diapers. He did this for a few years but then, it actually got to where he was tutoring too much and couldn't take on anymore clients. At that point we decided instead of turning clients away, let's hire some tutors and make this official. So thus was born Beacon Tutoring...we got a business license, hired a few tutors and here we are! Our tutors worked 102 hours this month! Owning a business has been great for us since I can do the work from home when Carter is at school. In addition to Beacon, I also work part-time for our FABULOUS church The Warehouse (thewarehouseoc.com). I am the secretary which involves a lot of little things. I really enjoy it :) Because I have so many things on my plate, I really have to be good at time management. I am not a morning person. I am not a night person either. Catch me between 8am and 8pm and we're good! About a week ago, I was super stressed because I was behind in my work for both jobs and I hated feeling like people are counting on me and I couldn't get my act together get the job done. I really wanted to believe that there just weren't enough hours in my day, but as much as I hate to admit it, I was being REALLY lazy. I was taking my sweet time getting ready in the morning, drinking my coffee in bed until like 9am while my super rad husband took care of Carter. Then I would do my house chores and shower and get Carter off to preschool, run a couple of errands, eat lunch, and then it was time to go pick Carter up. When we get home it's homework time then I need to start dinner and by the time that's done, Brian's home, and we eat...I don't want to do anything else. I am off the clock and just want to spend time with my family. So needless to say, when I was keeping that schedule there was no time in my day to go into my office and get any work done. Something had to give. I am a crazy list maker so I set out in search of the perfect time management tool for mom's. I wanted to find some type of realistic schedule that mom's who work at home can actually follow and I didn't want to have to get all creative and do it myself...that's the lazy talking again. And you know what happened during my google search??? I actually found EXACTLY what I was looking for. Shocking, I know! I came across a blog called SimpleMom.net and on there is a Daily Docket that she designed to help her manage her day as she works from home and cares for her two small kids. Here is the link http://simplemom.net/downloads/ It's changed my life. I prayed that the Lord would show me how to make this all work and he brought me SimpleMom. I've painfully realized that I have to get my butt out of bed by 6:30 and shower first thing. I grab my coffee and go into the office to have my Bible time and seek the Lord's plan for my day. Then I print out my fabulous new list and fill in all the little boxes, it's SO fun! Then I check my email (and my facebook of course!). It's usually about 8:30 by then so I finish getting ready, eat some bfast, then start my chores...dishes, laundry, picking up the house. I am in the office by 9:30 and I can work until 11 until I have to get Carter off to school. I get so much done in that hour and a half, it's shocking! It's totally Jesus multiplying my minutes, I just know it! The rest of my day is errands, homework, dinner, and family time. I am tired of course, but I think that comes with the mommy territory. I am just so thrilled to know that with the right tools, I totally ROCK at being a SAHM :) Some other things I've found over the years that I can't live without are my Queen of the Castle book. It's a yearly devotional geared towards teaching you how to be a fabulous SAHM while keeping your focus on the Lord. Here is the link for Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Queen-Castle-Encouragement-Uninspired-Domestically/dp/1591454743/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226202978&sr=1-1Another thing that has saved my sanity is orgjunkie.com. She does this thing called Menu Plan Monday where you plan your menu for the week and do all the shopping and your done! No guessing about what's for dinner, you already know! I am going to start posting my menu on here for your viewing pleasure. One last thing I can not live without is my crock pot. I live and die by that thing. I can put dinner in at 10am when I still have some energy and don't have to stress at 5:30 about what to throw together or what kind of take out we want. The best crock pot recipe book I have found is Fix it and Forget it: 5 Ingredients or less http://www.amazon.com/Forget-5-ingredient-Favorites-Phyllis-Pellman/dp/1561485292/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226203332&sr=1-1 The Lord has been gracious in revealing to me how to make my life a little easier. I hope some of these things will work for you too! Have a blessed day and check back Monday for my first Menu Plan!

My GFCF Carter...

Hey guys :) Yeah, it's my first official post! Meg will be so proud. I am still not convinced I have much to offer the blog world, but I'll give it a shot! If you know us well, you know that our son Carter has been struggling with a few developmental delays since age 18 months. We think it's due to his anaphylactic peanut allergy at that age, but we will likely never know. He is language delayed which causes problems all across the board. Anyhow after 2 years of speech, OT, and oodles of coveted prayers, we've decided to try dietary intervention to see if it would help him. He is only 4 now, but has been dealing with some ADHD type "behaviors" for the last 6 months or so. We just thought he was being a boy. He was becoming very hyperactive, struggling to hold his attention to do tasks he's more than capable of, and he started to hit as an attention seeking behavior. He would hit a wall/table if someone didn't understand him, if we told him "no" he would hit us, if he wanted to play with another child he hit as a way of saying "hey, let's play" but kids interpret that as "Carter hit me!" It was a mess. We didn't know what to do. His teacher mentioned that she suspected ADHD and hinted at medicating and I about FREAKED OUT! There was no way I would even think to sedate my child. After talking to his doctor, we all agreed that medicating a 4 year old is ridiculous. However, the fact remained that he needed help, his teachers needed help, his parents needed help! That's when I really started to research a more natural approach for the treatment of ADHD and came across what is commonly know as "the diet". It's the removal of gluten (wheat), casein (dairy), and other potentially offensive substances like preservatives and food dyes. I am not a scientist or nutritionist, but after doing a ton of Google research, reading countless stories of how "the diet" has helped so many kids like Carter, and fervently seeking the Lord's will, I thought, hey why not try it! If there is something in my power (other than sedation) that I can do to help my little boy, I am going to do it! So we decided on Thursday, October 9th, 2008 to go cold turkey on all the potentially yucky food. It's not recommended to eliminate everything on the same day because occasionally a child will spaz out with weird withdrawal symptoms, but we took our chances with that and he was fine :) In fact, after 4 days when all the casein was out of his system, we had a new kid! It was shocking. The increase in his language was the most noticeable. He and I had our first back and fourth conversation...about laundry, but whatever, he was talking!!! That following Monday at school his teachers didn't know what to say. They were not seeing the same out of control little boy they had been struggling with since the first day of school, they were beginning to see the real Carter who we always new was in there somewhere! They were amazed at how fast he was changing. Since we started the diet a month ago, Carter has done amazing. He hasn't hit anyone in a month. He still hits things when he is frustrated, but we are working on that. He is keeping his focus in class and seeking the attention of his peers in appropriate ways. And he is speaking so well! I talked with his doctor to let him know that we decided to do this and he is fully on board. He wants us to stick with it for 6 months to a year and keep him updated along the way. Carter has no idea he is on a special diet and still eats "kid food". I am one of those bad parents who always cooks a separate meal for my kid so as to avoid the meal time tantrum, so cooking two meals is not an issue for me. It works for us, alright! It's been fairly easy to find substitutions for his favorite things. It can be a challenge to pack and take his food everywhere we go, but the key is to plan ahead and we've gotten pretty good at that. I am not going to lie, it isn't cheap and I have had to get very creative in meal planning for Brian and I to try and save some money, but it's working great and seeing the changes in Carter makes us want to keep going. I have found a couple of good resources so far...the GFCF Kids yahoo group, The Kid Friendly ADHD/Autism cookbook has a killer chicken nugget recipe, and Trader Joe's has a list on their website that you can print out containing all their GF items. Well, I guess I had more to say than I thought :) I will keep everyone updated on Carter's progress and if I we find any GFCF gems along the way, I will let you know!
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