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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Books I've Read: January 2015

Confessions Of A Raging Perfectionist: Learning To Be Free by Amanda Jenkins. I really liked this book.  I got the ebook for free somewhere along the line, and finally got around to reading it.  I enjoyed the "stats" that started each chapter (kind of reminded me of how the chapters in Bridget Jones' Diary started).  The book as a whole was really relatable to me.  Not just because I am a perfectionist, but because the author was really honest, and didn't sugarcoat her mistakes and her flaws.  The Scripture passages throughout the book really helped emphasize the points from a Biblical perspective too, something I wasn't necessarily expecting but really enjoyed.

And there were a few chapters that really hit home for me, especially the one called "Diet Coke", in which the author pointed out that she has certain vices that she looks forward to every day (don't we all!), namely, Diet Coke.  For me, it's coffee.  And that's great, until she points out that if she doesn't get her fix, it throws off her day, and she gets grumpy and feels like she deserves to have that thing.  And then she doesn't ever feel that way about studying God's Word.  But she should.  Ouch.  I could have written that, and realizing that I'm putting something so stupid above God's Word, and letting it affect me so much.  It really made me think.  And I am a failure, so I'm sure it will happen again, but I'm working on it now.  So anyways, if a book can make me think like that, and affect me that much, it was a good read.

Brick by Brick: How Lego Rewrote The Rules Of Innovation And Conquered The Global Toy Industry by David C. Robertson.  (Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review)  So I picked this book because my kids are really into Legos.  For some reason, I thought it was going to be more of a biography of the creator of Legos, but it was actually a giant case study in marketing and how Lego became the huge success that it is, which is actually even better than a biography because it was a combination of something my kids are into now and my college major of marketing.  I really enjoyed digging into the concepts and ideas that I studied several years ago, and it made me feel smart when I knew what they were talking about.  It's still totally accessible to someone who doesn't have a degree in marketing, but those connections were cool to me.

One of my favorite tidbits was that there are 80 Lego pieces for every person on earth.  That's a lot of Legos.  Also, about 70 percent of the pieces in any given Lego kit are "universal" pieces, which means they're used across multiple kits.  The author didn't come out and say this, but from my experience that means there's just enough special pieces between kits that you can't create another one without buying it.  One thing I was kind of bummed about was that, because this book came out in 2013, there was no case study of Lego Friends or The Lego Movie.  After reading about several Lego iterations I was familiar with, like Ninjago and Bionicles, it would have been cool to get his take on those.  Overall, I really enjoyed this book!  It was a good mix of anecdotes and facts about an iconic brand.

Total books read this month: 2.  Total books read this year: 2.  My goal is 30 books for this year, which means I'll need to step it up a bit to reach that goal.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Weekly Goals January 25-31

The two middle kids have been best buddies lately.  Matthew was "reading" Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to Hannah one morning before breakfast.

Last Week's Goals:
  • Finish my shadow box project. Sigh. Not yet. But I think this is going to be my Iron Craft project so then I have to do it.
  • Read at least 4 chapters of Brick by Brick. Nope. I'm planning to read a bunch tonight while my boys watch the Royal Rumble (wrestling - not my fave).
  • Do yoga 4 times. Done! I had to force myself to do it, but I never regret it afterwards.
  • Figure out two new snack ideas.  The first one I tried was a gluten-free version of Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins (using all oat flour), which worked awesome, and they were gone within 2 days!

    We also tried Quinoa Oatmeal Protein Bars, which were kind of bland and not sweet on their own.  I melted some peanut butter and chocolate chips on top and then they were delicious! But I'm pretty sure that kind of defeats the purpose...

    I also gave the kids carrot sticks and ranch, something we hadn't tried for awhile, and the boys thought it was awesome! Hannah not so much. I've been writing snacks on our white board each night for the next day, trying to do one fruit/veggie snack and one grain based snack, and that's working really well.  It helps me not scramble to find something at the last minute but still not have to add another step to my menu planning.
This Week's Goals:
  • Put Elizabeth on the birthday board.
  • Do Iron Craft Challenge #2 project.
  • Finish reading Brick by Brick. That way I can post my review in my monthly wrap-up and request a new book from Blogging for Books.
  • Figure out yummy homemade Superbowl snack-y dinner. Go Seahawks!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

#MinsGame Update 3

I'm still going strong with the MinsGame, although it's definitely been getting harder to find things twenty-some at a time.  It's good motivation to keep decluttering though!  You can see more in update #1 and update #2.  Here's what we got rid of this week:
Day 18: More kids books, plus expired medicines and extra medicine cups.
Day 19: A few books I'm done with (I'm thinking of trying out Paperback Swap, but I haven't had a chance to look into it yet), breastmilk storage bags that are extra, package of straws and sandwich bags we don't use, and a bunch of bathroom items, most of which were in the cupboard when we moved here.
Day 20: Random items from the junk drawer of "house stuff" that was in the kitchen, which is now organized with only the useful things in it, and more pens. Before I started this challenge, I saw several people posting pens as some of their items and I confess, I thought that was a cop-out post.  But seriously.  There's a ton of them, and some days you need something you can grab easily to get rid of to keep up with the challenge.
Day 21: All the papers to the right of the cereal box came from cleaning out the craft cupboard.
Days 22 and 23: 45 little boy clothing items that are too small.  We are on our last batch of hand me down clothes from friends and family, and we have been spoiled having way too many clothes.  It makes buying new ones hard!

Friday, January 23, 2015

What's in the Garbage?

Who wants to talk about garbage?  I don't see any hands raised. Hopefully you'll stick with me anyways.

Garbage pick-up at our new place is a little different than what I've been used to.  Instead of paying a set fee to a sanitation company, we pay $2 per big yellow bag (with a 50 pound limit), and set those out on the curb each week.  I like this, because it means that those who create less waste pay less, while those who have a lot of garbage pay more. (Plus we don't have to buy any regular garbage bags!) can also add up quickly if we're not careful.  When we first got here, we were filling up 1-1/2 to 2 bags per week.  We knew right away we wanted to get that down to 1 bag a week, if not less.  In order to lessen our garbage, first we need to know what's in the garbage?

After keeping a closer eye on our garbage for the past few weeks, here's what's inside:
  • Diapers.  Easily our biggest offender, with Elizabeth and Hannah still in diapers, and Matthew in overnights.
  • Food scraps.  The kids scrape their plates after dinner (Hannah is going through an "I hate carrots" phase), the veggie scraps after I've made broth, crumbs from plates, etc. plus the occasional yucky leftovers, although I'm trying really hard to catch those things before they go bad.
  • Food packaging that can't be recycled.  Meat packages are the biggest offender here, although there are some other things.
  • Plastics, mail, receipts etc. that can't be recycled.
  • Broken toys, random junk I find as I declutter.
We do recycle plastic, glass, and cans, so that helps.  We also have a member who takes all of our cardboard/paper recycling for his burn pile, so that helps too.  But still, the garbage adds up quickly.  

Our biggest focus, then, is going to be reducing the garbage from our top two offenders: diapers and food scraps.  Stay tuned for an update in a few weeks to see how we're doing!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Iron Craft Challenge #1: 4th Anniversary

Time for the first Iron Craft challenge of the year!  Last year I did 14 challenges, so my goal this year is to do at least that many.  The first theme is the 4th anniversary present ideas: fruit, flowers, and appliances.  Now's the time to paint polka dots on your washer and dryer!  I didn't do that...

Instead, I went for a project that used up some of my stash and also replenished something that we had almost used up: thank you notes.

So about two kids ago, I decided making cards could be fun.  Maybe it's because I found this huge stack of various sizes of envelopes on clearance for $0.50.  Maybe it's because my sister makes awesome cards.  (Way better than mine.)  Maybe Pinterest is to blame.  At any rate, I've had a pile of cardstock and a drawer full of envelopes for two years? Three years? A long time.

Since we just got done with thank you notes for Christmas, we only have a few left.  Perfect timing!  So to Pinterest I went, to my long-neglected Cards board.  Inspiration found.

I got as far as cutting half the card bases and the baby woke up, so I finished cutting the rest while holding her.  There was also Lego sorting by Jonah, Matthew was playing with our old license plates, and I think Hannah was throwing things around the room.

Crafting with four kids is not for the faint of heart.  So that was as far as I got initially.

Then I played with the stamps and kind of figured out where I wanted to go with things.  This first one is not perfectly aligned because I was still testing different ideas, but I came up with something I liked.
So then I started stamping them all/  First the blue, then the red and the lines.
And then I had to take another break, because kids.  They like to eat or something.
I finally finished making flowers and gluing them on yesterday while watching Downton Abbey and drinking coffee.  Luckily, it only took me a few minutes, because that was the amount of time that all 4 kids were napping/having quiet time in their rooms.  And then Elizabeth woke up and wanted a bottle.
Still, they got done, and they're ready for the next time we need a thank you note.  And I'm really happy with how they turned out!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Weekly Goals: January 18-24

A lot of this past week focused on food.  The boys played "kitchen", mixing together all sorts of random ingredients from the pantry.  This kept them occupied for an hour!
I baked a loaf of imitation Starbucks Lemon Cake, which was delicious and gone within two days.
I spent one morning doing all of the food prep for the next two weeks.  I do this twice a month, and it makes the rest of the meal prep really simple.  Most times I don't finish it all in one morning, but the kids were super well behaved that day!
And finally, we found a new yummy sandwich bread recipe! Jonah told me, "Mommy, now you don't ever have to buy bread again!" so I think it's a hit.

Last Week's Goals:
  • Start working on my shadow box project. I think if I don't make time for this next week it might be time to let this one go.
  • Do Iron Craft Challenge #1 project.  Almost done!  Look for a post on Tuesday.
  • Start reading Brick by Brick.  I read the introduction and the first chapter.
  • Do yoga 4 times.  I did yoga 2 times.
This Week's Goals:
  • Finish my shadow box project.
  • Read at least 4 more chapters of Brick by Brick.
  • Do yoga 4 times.  I'm really hoping that if I keep setting this goal I'll eventually hit it.
  • Figure out 2 new snack ideas.  We've been defaulting to fruit, "Mom's lazy trail mix" aka whatever random bits I throw together in a bowl, and cookies.  I need some new good easy things.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

#MinsGame Update 2

Round 2 of the MinsGame (read my first post here if you don't know what that means...)
Day 10: Winter hats and mittens, which keep multiplying, a ripped ninja costume, and a small reusable bag.
Day 11: A few bigger kitchen items, a pile of pictures to be mailed back to our old church, and several things to finish cleaning out a drawer.
Day 12: 12 undies that no longer fit right post-babies.
Day 13: I kept the 13 gift wrapping items on the right and got rid of the pile on the left.  I always try to involve the number of the day somehow, but sometimes I get rid of extra things.
Day 14: More pens.
Day 15: Shirts and my nursing cape.  I also turned my hangers around to see what I actually wear, so I'm sure I'll have more to add to this pile.
Days 16 and 17: Kids books we don't love or have doubles of, two kitchen spoons, and old coffee.  I had a few bags last year from couponing, and then kept getting and using kcups instead, and all of a sudden this coffee was best by last April.

I'm almost through the "easy" stuff, which means the next two weeks might be a little harder.  I know we have tons of stuff we could get rid of but sometimes in the moment of finding x number of things I draw a blank.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Menu Plan January 16-31

Last week's Crockpot Orange Chicken was probably my favorite meal of the entire meal plan.  We liked it so much we're having it again this time around!  We're still doing the 100 Days of Real Food mini pledges, and I have to say, I was anticipating Week 3 being one of the more challenging ones.  But my husband pointed out that if we cooked one of the half chickens we got from a church member, we could spread that meat over our 3-4 meals, and just eat vegetarian for the rest of the time.  Problem solved!

To start out with, we're still on Week 2: Real beverages, with only honey or maple syrup as sweeteners.  I've discovered that coffee with whole milk and a spoonful of honey is pretty good, which is saying a lot, considering I used to be a sugar and fat-free vanilla creamer girl.

Friday, January 16
Breakfast: Leftover Southwest Frittata
Lunch: Cobb Salads
Dinner: Stuffed Peppers

Saturday, January 17
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Frozen Blueberries and Peaches
Lunch: Hot Dogs, Macaroni and Cheese (the kids chose this one, and even though it's not real food at all, I like them to be a part of the meal plan too)
Dinner: Black Bean Taco Salads

Week 3 Challenge: Meat.  Only local, only eat it 3-4 times in the entire week.  Make it not the star of the meal.  The starred meals will be made using chicken cooked in the crockpot at the beginning of the week.

Sunday, January 18
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover Black Bean Taco Salads
Dinner: Creamy Mushroom Barley Soup

Monday, January 19
Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Mexi Rice and Bean Bowl
Dinner: Chicken Pepper Bake*

Tuesday, January 20
Breakfast: Baked Blueberry Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftover Rice and Bean Bowls
Dinner: Homemade Tomato Soup, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Wednesday, January 21
Breakfast: Yogurt and Homemade Granola
Lunch: Veggie Pizza (Red Peppers, Spinach, Black Olives, and Mushrooms) on this crust
Dinner: Black Bean Fajita Casserole

Thursday, January 22
Breakfast: Squash Hash (no bacon) and Eggs
Lunch: Pumpkin Chicken Chili*
Dinner: Leftover Black Bean Fajita Casserole

Friday, January 23
Breakfast: Leftover Squash Hash and Eggs
Lunch: Leftover Pumpkin Chicken Chili
Dinner: Mushroom and Spinach Pasta

Saturday, January 24
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Frozen Blueberries and Pears
Lunch: Chicken Apple Peanut Butter Wraps*, Sweet Potato Fries
Dinner: Chicken and Pinto Bean Tacos*, Homemade Tortillas

Week 5 Challenge: No fast food and no deep fried foods.

Sunday, January 25
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover Chicken and Pinto Bean Tacos
Dinner: Ham and Bean Soup

Monday, January 26
Breakfast: Eggs and Sweet Potatoes
Lunch: Chicken Salads
Dinner: Leftover Ham and Bean Soup

Tuesday, January 27
Breakfast: Yogurt and Homemade Granola
Lunch: Baked Potatoes with Ham, Broccoli, and Cheese
Dinner: Leftover Chicken Salads

Wednesday, January 28
Breakfast: Chocolate Chip Monkey Muffins
Lunch: Out to eat at local diner (eating healthy options, so I don't consider that fast food)
Dinner: Mini Meat Loaves, Mashed Potatoes

Thursday, January 29
Breakfast: Leftover Monkey Muffins
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Crockpot Orange Chicken (doubled) and Rice

Friday, January 30
Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Black Bean Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries
Dinner: Leftover Orange Chicken and Rice

Saturday, January 31
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Frozen Blueberries and Peaches
Lunch: Italian Sausage with Peppers, Onions, and Mushrooms over Rice
Dinner: Pancakes, Baked Apples

Sunday, February 1 (because we won't be shopping until Monday)
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover Italian Sausage
Dinner: Chicken Fajitas, Homemade Tortillas

Monday, January 12, 2015

Homeschooling Update

We went on an extended homeschooling break around the middle of last October.  Between being uncomfortably pregnant, getting ready for Thanksgiving, having a baby, packing and moving, celebrating Christmas, traveling, and settling in, we've had a busy couple of months.  But then things settled down, and we didn't really get back to homeschooling.  In fact, the only thing we've done is we painted nativity scenes and the letter K one day in December.

Now that things have really slowed down, and we're back to just "normal everyday" life, we should be getting back into homeschooling.  Picking up where we left off, around K and L, the number 12, somewhere in the middle of Abraham and Isaac.  But we haven't.  And can I confess something?  I don't want to.

I'm tired.  I feel like I'm constantly behind.  That's not so much to do with school as it is with having four kids five and under, one of which is a newborn.

There's a big part of me that says, "Well, if you would spend your free time getting things ready, instead of on Facebook, or reading, or watching mindless tv, you could do school."  And I could.
But I think, right now, raising four little kids is enough.  I just need the mental break sometimes.  Which means that come fall, Jonah will probably be going to the local public school.  If I can manage it, I'd still like to do some letter activities to get us through the rest of the alphabet before then (although he can recognize most of the letters by sight and some sounds).

We might revisit homeschooling in a few years, when the younger kids are more capable of entertaining themselves for awhile at a time.  When I don't have to be constantly feeding a baby.  When I don't have to spend so much time in the kitchen because I'm delegating some of the prep work to the bigger kids (I can dream, right?).  When life is easier.

I still really like the idea of homeschooling.  I like preparing lessons and finding projects.  I just think now may have been the wrong time to start.  And I know some people say to just push through, to find your own rhythm, to let the kids do more on their own.  But for me, I'd rather supplement someone else's work right now, and take over later, rather than add another stress to my life.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Weekly Goals: January 11-17

Hannah holding her "new" Cabbage Patch Kid doll, a 1985 doll named Jud.  My mom brought one back for each of her granddaughters from her aunt, who has given all the little girls in our family lots of dolls over the years.  She likes having her own baby to take care of while I take care of Elizabeth.

This has been a busy week for me, between a funeral on Monday, working on decluttering, and even coming up with a new recipe!  Here's how I did on my goals:

  • Start working on my shadow box project. Materials are gathered, but that's it so far.
  • Move garage sale items from the extra room to the basement. My husband suggested I just leave them there for the moment, since we're not using the room.
  • Write Christmas thank you notes. Done!
  • Do yoga 4 times. I did it 2 times.
  • Make a double batch of tortillas and freeze the extras. 34 tortillas done! That's enough for 4 meals.
  • Finish reading Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist. Done! And wow, did some of the chapters just cut me right to the core.

Goals for this week:

  • Work on my shadow box project. I want to at least get my frames painted, if not more.
  • Do my Iron Craft 2015 Challenge #1 project.
  • Start reading Brick by Brick, a book about the Lego creator that I've had for awhile but haven't read yet.
  • Do yoga 4 times.

Friday, January 9, 2015

#MinsGame Update

This month I have been participating in the MinsGame.  Basically, each day you get rid of the number of items of that date, so 1 on the 1st, 2 on the 2nd, and so on.  Some days I've actually had more than the required number, just because I finished the area I was working on.  If you want to watch the day-by-day, you can search #katysminsgame on Instagram (or follow me), but I plan on doing a weekly wrap-up post here to keep myself accountable as well.
Day 1: 1 broken sippy cup (recycled)
Day 2: 2x2 dvd cases (recycled). We keep movies in plastic sleeves because they take up less space.
 Day 3: Random lid (recycled), broken sunglasses (trashed), holiday spatula (garage sale pile)
Day 4: Broken kids plate (recycled), cupcake corer, mug, and train cake decorations (garage sale pile)
Day 5: 4 kids bowls and a water bottle (garage sale pile)
Day 6: 5 kids cds (garage sale pile) and Luke 2 copy (recycled)
Day 7: 2 rolls of tape and a water filter refill (garage sale pile), reusable kcup directions and pregnancy medications list (recycled), faucet adapters and old work nametag (trashed). Also a pile of papers from the past 3 months that I scanned and later shredded.
Day 8: 10 of these 14 dolls from a bin that has been at my parents' house (garage sale pile)
Day 9: Pile of random papers (top left, recycled), more kitchen appliance directions (bottom left, recycled), calculator and oven thermometer (bottom left, garage sale pile), pile of safety pins (bottom left, garage sale pile), magnets and snowmen ornaments (right, garage sale pile)

So. I've been busy.  And that doesn't even scratch the surface of all the extra stuff to get rid of.  But I am enjoying the purging so far, and it's easy!  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Crockpot Orange Chicken Recipe (Plus Bonus Easy Orange Marmalade!)

A few weeks ago, I made a small batch of orange marmalade with some extra oranges.  The problem with that is that even a small batch made 4 containers, and we don't eat something like orange marmalade often enough to use that up quickly.  (I didn't have any canning jars to can it and save it long-term).  So I wanted to find a recipe for orange chicken, ideally in the crockpot, and using the orange marmalade.
(Apologies for the not-so-stellar picture, but I almost forgot to even take one! Hopefully I'll remember next time and update)

The majority of the recipes I found on Pinterest using orange marmalade were chicken, marmalade, and a bottle of barbecue sauce.  I could have made homemade barbecue sauce and then done that one, but I wanted something easier with what I had on hand.  So I searched some more and combined a few common ingredients from other recipes. And if I do say so myself, it turned out really good!  Since we have two containers of marmalade left, it's safe to say we'll be having this again soon.


  • 20oz. chicken breast, cut up into small pieces
  • 1 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (I thought this was just the right amount of kick, but the kids thought it was too spicy, so next time I'll use 1/4 tsp. instead)
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
Combine all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low 6-8 hours, until chicken is cooked through and veggies are soft.  Serve over rice.

Easy Orange Marmalade 
(makes about 1 cup per orange)

Directions: Thoroughly wash all oranges.  Cut off any yucky spots.  Puree oranges, peel and all, in a blender.  (My blender is pretty low-powered, so I had to halve mine and do one orange at a time).  Measure the amount of orange pulp you get.  Mix an equal amount of white sugar with the orange pulp in a medium size pot.  Heat over medium heat until bubbling, then lower heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring often.  Lower the heat more if necessary (my first batch burned because it was too high of a heat and I didn't stir it often enough).  Cool and refrigerate.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Defining Normal

Last month we moved to a new house.  The house is huge, and so we have a room dedicated solely to toys.  I don't know how I feel about that.  I posted the picture above to Facebook, with the caption "This is normal when you have a toy room, right?" and got several responses agreeing that this is indeed normal for a toy room.

(Before I go any farther, I am not trying to judge anyone for their toy room or the amount of stuff they have.  I'm just trying to figure out what might work for our family)

Fast forward several days.  Every day I would look into the toy room and sigh.  Every night we would ask the boys to pick up and get screaming and tantrums and whining.  This is not the normal I want to get used to.

I thought maybe it would get better as we got fully unpacked and found a place for everything.  The art supplies moved to a cabinet in the living room, accessible to the boys but out of Hannah's reach.  The puzzles moved to a closet off of the kitchen.  The toys with little parts were put on the top shelf.

But still things were messy.  By the end of the day, bins were dumped out, cars were everywhere, and toys were still all over the living room and dining room.

I even got so frustrated that I grabbed a garbage bag and shoved toys in it.  Whatever was in my path, whatever I got to before the kids picked up, in it went.  And over the next few days, they asked for three things.  Three things from the entire bag of stuff.  I made them do an extra chore to earn each one back.  I hoped this would help, having to work for the things they wanted.  It really only proved yet again that they don't even want all of their stuff.

We packed up most of the Legos.  I let Jonah and Matthew each pick 5 of their favorite sets, plus the big bin of extra pieces, and the rest are in a box upstairs.

These things helped, kind of.

I'm still in this odd mental place, stuck between "normal for a toy room", which I don't like, feeling bad for taking toys away from my kids, and the desire for less stuff, less whining, less mess.  Visual clutter is one of those things that just gets on my nerves.  And fighting with the kids to pick stuff up every day isn't helping.

I don't necessarily have a solution, other than to continue to get rid of the things that they don't like, that are just extras that get dumped out and then forgotten until clean-up time.  I feel like I've gotten rid of so much already.  But then I peek in this room and see so much still there.

With a huge house comes the temptation to expand.  I'm trying really hard not to.  When unpacking our bedroom, we were trying to figure out where to put our clothes, between the dresser, the master bedroom closet, and the hall closet just outside our door.  We started to talk about getting a dresser to fit the rest of them.  We have the space, and that would be the normal thing to do, to have a his and hers dresser to go with our his and hers closets.

But then I stepped back.  Do we really need all of these clothes, that we can't fit what we truly wear in a dresser and TWO closets?  That motivated me to clean out a drawer of the dresser that I had been using for t-shirts that I rarely wear, to make space for Jesse's undershirts that he does wear.  I kept a few in a stack in the closet that I think that I want.  If they actually make it through a wear and wash, they'll get hung up.  If not, well there's my answer.

I already know we're not a normal family.  We don't eat typical food, we homeschool (for the moment - more about that later this month!), and we keep trying to get rid of stuff.  I know what we're not. But now I have to figure out what our "normal" is.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Weekly Goals: January 4-10

Welcome to weekly goals!  Instead of doing monthly goals, and weekly "what I'm reading" posts, I'm going to post 3-6 goals each Sunday.  Doing monthly goals was okay, but I'd usually forget them by the time I got to the end of the month (or look at my list on the 26th or so and realize I hadn't done half of them).  So, to please my short term memory, here are my goals for this week:

  • Start working on my shadow box project that I've had in mind for two years.
  • Move garage sale items from the extra bedroom to the basement.
  • Write Christmas thank you notes.
  • Do yoga 4 times.
  • Make a double batch of tortillas and freeze the extras.
  • Finish reading Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist.
And that's it!  It's kind of a to do list, but kind of a way to include more projects and extras in my week besides the daily grind of cooking and dishes and whatnot.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Menu Plan January 1-15

I have been keeping up on menu planning for the most part, but now I get to share again!  Starting next week, I am going to be trying the 100 Days of Real Food Mini-Pledges, where you get one real food challenge each week.  Some will be pretty easy for our family, like this first one to have at least 2 fruits/veggies with each meal, and some will be harder, like eating something local with every meal.  Should be an interesting challenge at any rate.  The first couple days this month are working on using up some of the leftover stuff in our house.  Here's the plan:

Thursday, January 1
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Chicken Fajitas

Friday, January 2
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Out with Family
Dinner: 7 Layer Casserole (I now use 2 cups cooked brown rice instead of the instant, and frozen corn instead of canned.  And I actually have the bacon and green pepper this time!)

Saturday, January 3
Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Turkey Bacon Wraps
Dinner: Pinto Bean and Ground Beef Taco Salads

Sunday, January 4
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: BLTs
Dinner: Pinto Bean and Ground Beef Taco Salads

Week 1 Challenge: Eat 2 different fruits or veggies with each meal

Monday, January 5
Breakfast: Eggs with Sweet Potatoes, Bacon, and Mushrooms
Lunch: Chicken Quesadillas with Pinto Beans and Tomatoes
Dinner: Stuffed Peppers, Fruit

Tuesday, January 6
Breakfast: Eggs, Toast with Peanut Butter and Sliced Bananas, Apples
Lunch: Italian Sausage with Peppers/Onions/Mushrooms, served over Rice
Dinner: Chicken Pepper Bake

Wednesday, January 7 - this day may change as we are having work done on our basement and we might have to be away from home for at least lunch
Breakfast: Apple Zucchini Oat Muffins
Lunch: Leftover Italian Sausage with Peppers/Onions/Mushrooms, Rice
Dinner: Crockpot Orange Chicken (an experiment based on this recipe and another one I can't find any more, but if it turns out I'll share the recipe next menu plan! All because I made orange marmalade and it needs to get eaten...)

Thursday, January 8
Breakfast: Apple Zucchini Oat Muffins
Lunch: Baked Sweet Potatoes with Bacon, Yellow Peppers, Onions, and Mozzarella
Dinner: Crockpot Maple Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Carrots

Friday, January 9
Breakfast: Winter Squash Hash (butternut squash, mushrooms, onions, and bacon) and Eggs
Lunch: Cobb Salads
Dinner: Southern Chicken Stew, Biscuits

Saturday, January 10
Breakfast: Winter Squash Hash and Eggs
Lunch: Cobb Salads
Dinner: Crockpot Turkey Tomato Soup

Sunday, January 11
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Blueberries and Pears
Lunch: Leftovers from Friday/Saturday dinners
Dinner: Pinto Bean and Ground Beef Tacos, Homemade Tortillas

Week 2 Challenge: Real beverages, with only honey or maple syrup as sweeteners.  I misread this challenge as no added sweeteners in ANYTHING, so bonus for me?  The hardest part might be figuring out how to sweeten my coffee, but I'm hoping that my palate is retrained enough that honey or syrup will work.

Monday, January 12
Breakfast: Plain Yogurt and Homemade Granola (I'll omit the brown sugar and maybe add a bit of extra honey)
Lunch: Leftover Tacos
Dinner: Crockpot Mexican Chicken Soup with added navy beans

Tuesday, January 13
Breakfast: Eggs and Sweet Potatoes
Lunch: Easy Chili with Ground Beef
Dinner: Leftover Mexican Chicken Soup

Wednesday, January 14
Breakfast: Southwest Frittata with doubled veggies
Lunch: Leftover Chili
Dinner: Gluten-Free Oatmeal Pancakes, Bacon

Thursday, January 15
Breakfast: Leftover Southwest Frittata
Lunch: Ham Sandwiches, Homemade Pickles, Apples
Dinner: Black Bean Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Welcome Back!

Happy New Year!  And welcome back to the blog!  I'm really excited to start a new year and fill it with all sorts of fun things.

But first, here's a bit of what we've been doing over the past month and a half or so...
A few days after Elizabeth was born, I crossed something off my bucket list: donating my hair to Locks of Love.  The current cut is a bit shorter than I would normally go, but that's what I needed to do to get to the length requirement for Locks of Love, and I was ready to be done having long hair.  I liked how it looked, but it was more high maintenance than I want at this point in my life.
We moved!  Here's our new house.  It's huge.  It has definitely been an adjustment from living in tiny apartments, but it's kind of nice to find the best place for everything instead of struggling to make things fit.
We had a baby!  Elizabeth Irene was born November 19 at 7:37pm.  She tied Hannah for being my biggest baby at 8lbs. 2oz.  She's a very peaceful kid, but likes to be awake in the middle of the night, which has resulted in more co-sleeping than I was planning on, because mama needs her rest, however she can get it!  I have definitely noticed that I'm able to have more of a "go with the flow" mindset this time around than I have in the past.  Parenting stretches me as a person, and that's a good thing.
Life is finally slowing down for our family, and I get to hang out with these four crazy kids every day.  They all have such unique personalities, and I love seeing that shine through!