Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Links I Liked - Newly Discovered Blogs

A last glimpse of summer.....bittersweet

I spent a little bit of my downtime last night perusing the Menu Plan Monday links at I’m an Organizing Junkie and found a few new to me blogs that were interesting. Of course this was no small undertaking as there are 277 links up while I am currently writing this at 7:44pm Eastern Time.

I thought it would be nice to share them with you. Here’s what I enjoyed and am planning to continue checking out in the weeks to come:

A Life in Progress
Gia has a great blog with a variety of things to offer.   She's pregnant with a new baby, stepmom to two teen girls, a teacher, a homeowner with a lot of desire to decorate and a cook who shares recipes and links.   I enjoyed Gia's site and will be visiting her again.

Golden Reflections
I liked this blog.  Heather is an occupational therapist who shares child development related OT tips that are great.  I plan to follow up on a few for my four year old who is just learning to use scissors (ahhhh!!!).  She also shares a lot about her interests which include cooking, decorating, photography and scrapbooking.

Creative Cents
Mandy has created an adorable site full of great craft and learning ideas for kids as well as home decor, seasonal crafts, scrapbooking, coupons, sales and deals.  This looks like a great place to get some crafty ideas to work on over the winter.

Check these out and leave me a comment with your own blog link or any others you think my readers and I would enjoy.

Have a great day!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - September 27

I'm trying to avoid the grocery store until Friday - which is the first day of the new month and payday.   The checkbook is a bit tight and most of our bills are due end of month.  October happens to be a three paycheck month so hopefully we can work on getting a little ahead of ourselves before plunging into the holiday season.

My husband has been away since Thursday and my daughter and I attended our local Girl Scout Council's Camporee Camp Out over the weekend.   I neglected to menu plan last week and it was HORRIBLE.   I had a hard time coming up with ideas and felt that all I did was rush and not feed my family very well.   Needless to say we are back on track this week.

Here's what I'm planning for dinner at our house this week:

Sunday - Breakfast for Supper

Monday - (Hubby is still away) - Corn Dog Muffins, Baked Beans, Carrots and Celery w/Ranch Dressing

Tuesday - (Soccer) - Thyme Pork Cutlets, Ritz Cracker Eggplant Casserole, Buttered Noodles, Green Beans

Wednesday - (Dance) - Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie, Salad

Thursday - London Broil with Bobby Flay's Fra Diavolo Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli

Friday - Spaghetti and Meatballs w/Homemade Sauce, Eggplant Parmesean, Bread, Salad

Saturday - Dinner at my Aunt's house

Additionally I'd like to make the following items for snacks and for the freezer:  Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, Zucchini Bread, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and of course Spaghetti Sauce. 

For more great menu ideas and links to recipes check out Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.  Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Wonders of Nature

I've been swamped around the house so I decided for today's post I would join Wordless Wednesday.   I've gotten some great nature shots over the summer and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share them.

For more great photos check out the links at Wordless Wednesday

Monday, September 13, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - September 13th

I was able to stick to last week’s menu plan pretty well. The only meal I didn’t make was the Asian Pork Chops as we were running errands that evening and decided to eat out. The Cinnamon Chicken went over very well – I wasn’t sure as the combination of cinnamon and tomatoes was a little odd to me. I personally liked the Creamy Beef Over Noodles – although we had it over mashed potatoes as we had noodles the night before. The big hit with the kids were the Corn Dog Muffins. I made them mini sized and they were snacking on them all weekend.

We have a pretty active week ahead – soccer, curriculum night at school, dance class as well as a math project that my daughter needs to get finished. I tried to put together a relatively easy menu plan that utilizes what I have in the freezer and has some variety. Here’s what I came up with for our dinner table this week:

Monday – Skillet BBQ Cubed Steak, Roasted Cauliflower, Oven Roasted Potatoes, Broccoli

Tuesday (Soccer and Curriculum Night) - Kitchen Scavenge Night

Wednesday (Dance) – Crazy Slow Cooker Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans

Thursday - Brown Sugar Chicken (crockpot), Rice, Corn

FridayHot Dog Casserole, Cheesy Bread, Salad

Saturday (Soccer and birthday party) – Fried Rice (use up leftovers) Chicken Strips, Vegetable Medley

For more great menu ideas and links to recipes check out this week’s Menu Plan Monday at I’m an Organizing Junkie.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Preserving the Garden - Day One

My pretty garden earlier this summer - by now it's looking rather ratty but still producing

I'm working on putting up tomatoes for the freezer today.   I already have some roasting and have just started boiling water to skin the remainder.   I also hope to get some zucchini shredded for baking and some sliced, blanched and frozen for frying.   There are some cucumbers in the fridge as well as a few more in the garden that are going to turn into freezer pickles.

It was a productive week around here.   I managed to get my desk aka 'command center' under control as well as getting the kids outgrown clothes removed from their dressers and closets.   Now I need to pull out the nicer items and take them to consignment.   I do still have mountains of clean laundry to put away and more to wash as well.  

Next week I'll share my results of preserving the garden.   Wish me luck!!

Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad

I used these gorgeous vegetables as inspiration for my Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad.

Clean and slice vegetables for grilling. I used eggplant, zucchini, onion, red pepper, green pepper.  Salt the sliced eggplant and let it rest in a colander to drain away any bitterness. Rinse off salt and pat dry.

Ready for the grill.

Grill Veggies with a bit of olive oil brushed on ntil they get soft and achieve some of those nice grill marks.

My grill didn't seem to get quite hot enough so I don't have as many grill marks as I would have liked

Prepare your choice of pasta according to directions in an amount you think is reasonable.  I cooked half of a 13oz box.   I prefer using tricolor rotini but all I had in the pantry was penne. Cook al dente so it doesn’t get too mushy. Rinse in cold water.

Toss pasta with grilled veggies, a little garlic, parsley, basil and your choice of dressing – I used a Balsamic Vinaigrette. Add parmesan if desired. I had some leftover crumbled Italian sausage and some fresh diced tomatoes that I added in as well.

Serve chilled as a side dish.

I think this dish would also work very well hot.   If I made it hot I would probably not use the Balsamic Dressing but would instead toss with just olive oil, parmesean and cook the tomatoes instead of using them fresh and cold.  My husband enjoyed this as a side in his lunchbox.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lunch Box Ideas for My Picky Eater

Packing lunches for my 7 year old Picky Petunia can be quite a challenge. I’ll admit she isn’t the healthiest of eaters and is definitely not adventurous when it comes to food. I spent the other day searching for ideas on how to inject a little more nutrition into her lunchbox while still giving her things I know will get eaten and hopefully even enjoyed.

Generally she takes either a turkey or ham and cheese sandwich on a wrap or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We look at the school lunch menu every month and she circles the days she would like to buy school lunch. Our school lunch program is $2.25 a day and looks to have a very well rounded selection – of course most of them she isn’t interested in so she only buys lunch perhaps 4 times a month.

I visited quite a few web sites as well as did a brain search to put together a list of things I think she will eat. I thought I would share this with my readers. Hopefully at least some of you are able to get your kids to eat more exciting and even healthier foods but here’s my Picky Petunia Lunch Box Idea List:
  • Use “Green” aka Spinach Wraps instead of Flour Tortillas (she actually asks for these)
  • PB&J or Cream Cheese and Jelly on Cinnamon Raisin Bread or Cornbread Muffins
  • Sandwich Shapes – I have some cute mini cutters in seasonal shapes
  • Cheese and Crackers with Grapes and Veggie Sticks
  • Ants on a Log – Celery, Peanut Butter and Raisins
  • Ants on a Raft – Graham Crackers, Peanut Butter and Raisins – maybe throw on banana slices too?
  • Pretzel Kabobs – Meat and Cheese rolled up and skewered with a pretzel
  • Trail Mix – Chex Cereal, Peanuts, Raisins, Pretzels, Mini Chocolate Chips (in today’s lunchbox)
  • Mini Muffins – blueberry, banana mini choc chip
  • Yogurt
  • Carrots, Celery and Peanut Butter
  • Popcorn
  • Fruit – Bananas, Strawberries, Grapes

On Saturday I have these Corn Dog Muffins planned for dinner. If the kids like them then I might include them on the lunch list.

I got some of my ideas from these links:

Save $400 a Year on School Lunches
Living on a Dime’s frugal tips to providing school lunches – has some great comments and additional ideas from their readers as well.

School Days: Fun Brown Bag Lunches for Kids at eSSORTMENT
35 complete lunches including snacks and drinks. I found some very different kid friendly ideas here including apple and banana chips; Ants on a Raft; Peanut Butter, honey and raisin sandwich; and fruit kabobs.

School Lunch Ideas
I didn’t get to spend much time on this site as it is huge! It also includes lunch ideas for peanut free classrooms as well as food safety in packing lunches.

I’d love to hear any of your kid’s lunch favorites – especially those with picky eaters like mine.




Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Links I Liked - Organization

A peaceful summer sunset at the beach

After the extremely busy but fun summer we’ve had things are starting to settle into the school year routine. Of course as I look around my house I realize that everything else here is still chaos. I have laundry all over the place, financial and school papers to deal with as well as the kid’s clothes to start switching out. Feeling totally overwhelmed by all the de-cluttering, cleaning and re-organizing I have to do I searched the web for some inspiration to push me along.

FlyLady got me started on getting rid of the chaos in my home – known by her as the Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome. Whenever I get that overwhelmed feeling I resort back to her teachings – shine my sink, set the timer and accomplish as much as I can in fifteen minute bursts. You can also check Marla Cilley’s (aka FlyLady) book Sink Reflections.  I highly recommend FlyLady for those of you that can’t seem to get out from the clutter in their lives.

Homemaking Organized is a very resourceful site for homemakers. It includes a blog full of interesting topics as well as some great printable checklists. I just recently printed out the September 2010 Home Organizing Checklist. Check it out for tips on organizing your home, kids, schooling and family life.

For those of you who are gung ho on organizing check out Laura’s Organizing Junkie Challenge. I’m not quite sure if I’m game for it but I do love Laura’s blog I’m an Organizing Junkie. There are great posts on home organizing ideas, products and processes. For me the best part of I’m an Organizing Junkie has to be Menu Plan Monday. By contributing to this weekly post I find myself keeping on track two ways – one as a blogger and most importantly as a mom who has to feed her family healthy, interesting meals on a budget. Menu planning has definitely helped me in that last respect.

Organizing Mommy blogs on this conversational and fun site about her trials at keeping her home and family organized. She has some great tips on physical space organization and time management as well as information on homeschooling. She also happens to be one of the followers of my own blog so a little extra shout out to her for that.  Check out Organized Everyday for tips and smiles.

Now that I’ve perused a few of my favorite organizing and homemaking sites I’m ready to tackle things here. If you need a little inspiration and maybe even some education on how to get your home and life a little more organized the information in these links will help set you on the right path.

Laundry, dishes and my dirty sink are awaiting me….so off I go! Have a great day.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - Labor Day Monday

I'm starting my menu this week on Sunday.   We actually have a picnic to attend Sunday afternoon so I'm not sure if we'll really be eating dinner when we get home.   If not the chicken is already cooked and I'll use it for my husband's lunches throughout the week (chicken sandwiches, chicken salad, etc, etc).  I'm trying to use up a few things from the freezer - kielbasa, stew beef, pork chops and hot dogs.   Also trying a few new recipes so I'm rather excited about that - dinners have been a bit boring around here.   

Here's what will be on our table this week:

Sunday – Chicken and Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas

Monday – Mom’s Skillet Kielbasa, Salad

Tuesday – Cinnamon Chicken ($5 Dollar Dinner Mom Cookbook), Vermicelli, Broccoli

Wednesday – Creamy Beef over Noodles, Salad

Thursday – Asian Pork Chops ($5 Dollar Dinner Mom Cookbook), Green Beans and Carrots, Brown Rice

Friday – Make Your Own Taco Night – Taco meat, lettuce, tomato, salsa, sour cream, refried beans, shredded cheese and corn

Saturday – Corn Dog Muffins, Baked Beans, Carrots and Celery with Dip

Lunches for DH this week will consist of chicken sandwiches, Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad, Bisquick Quiche, and of course - leftovers.

For more great menu ideas and recipes check out Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The End of Summer Vacation

Well it's over....the last days of summer and school is now back in session.   My daughter started the 2nd grade this past Monday and my son starts preschool in another week.   I wanted to share a few more pictoral memories of our summer.   These are from the last month of summer and include my daughters 7th birthday through the first day of school.  

Hope you enjoy these photos:

My 7 Year Old's birthday at Chuck E.Cheese

Amazing view from Rosecliff Mansion in Newport RI

On the cliffs at Beavertail Lighthouse, Jamestown RI

The "Birthday Boys" enjoying birthday beverages in front of the bonfire

First day of 2nd Grade

Trying out their birthday golf clubs.

I'll be back next week with a new MPM Menu, a recipe for Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad, an update on my garden and the steps I'm taking to preserve our harvest as well as links to great topics and chit chat.

Have a great weekend!