Monday, January 31, 2011

Imagine A Flower


Imagine, for a moment, will you?

Imagine you find out that a flower is being created just for you. Now, perhaps you didn't particularly want or need a flower. You might not even really feel like taking on the responsibility of watering and caring for it, but, nonetheless, this flower is unique. It is special. It will be created as a reflection of you. It will bear traits and characteristics that you display. Even more amazing, you'll be given the opportunity to shape and influence how the flower grows and turns out. Generations will look upon this flower and those bloomed from its seeds and remember you.

It is empowering. It is exciting. There is something breathtakingly wonderful about knowing that you are about to have an impact on an incredible new creation.

Before you can get your hands on this amazing flower, however, someone else must tend it first. She'll be in charge of making sure it gets adequate light and nutrients, that it is well cared for. It's still your flower, at least in part, and still reflects part of you. But, for now, you must simply wait in the wings until the precious new growth gets bigger.

It's a little scary, really, to have such a vested interest in this little flower and to have to just sit and watch someone else care for it. But it's okay. After all, she is someone you've been close to, someone you've shared with before. Surely she'll do a good job. And, really, you have no choice but to trust her.

As time passes, you realize just how much you want to see that amazing flower designed by our Creator just for you. How much you want to have a role in helping it flourish. How the inconvenience pales next to the beauty. You eagerly await the day you can play a role in the nurturing too.

As long as she lets that day come. Because it is her choice. Never yours. Because you are not the one called to care for it first, you don't count. It matters not that you CAN'T do the tending; you don't count.

This is why I believe in fathers' rights. This is why it's not just "her body, her choice" to me. This is why, as a woman, I feel compelled to stand up for a man.

This is why.

linked to WFMW

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Menu Plan: 1/30-I Am Tired


I. Am. Tired.

After hosting a couple of birthday parties yesterday, I'm ready to take it a bit easy! This past week was a whirlwind of preparations. We're battling steady leaks into our home and we spent many late nights priming and painting the main living area. Let's just say hubby and I are a yawning duo on this Sunday night. Fortunately, there's no reason I shouldn't get a good night's rest tonight and then I'll be fresh and ready to go!

So, here's what's hittin' our table this week:

Sunday:

B-Cereal, Applesauce, Milk
L-A's Friend Party- He wanted a baseball theme, so I served up hot dogs, soft pretzels, cracker jack, sliced apples, Gatorade, and baseball cupcakes.
D-A's Family Party- Chicken Lasagna, Broccoli, Baguette

Monday:

B-Vanilla Buttered Pecan Oatmeal, Milk
L-P,B,&J, Apples, Water
D-Homemade Beefaroni, Carrots & Peas

Tuesday:

B-Yogurt Coffee Cake Muffins, Grapes, Milk
L-Beefaroni, Yogurt, Juice

Wednesday:

L-Hot Dog, Rice, Juice
D-Stuffed Meatball Subs, Green Beans

Thursday:

B-Granola, Raisins, Milk
L-Buttered Macaroni, Peas, Water

Friday:

B-Smoothies, Toast
L-Cheesy Beans & Rice, Water
D-Salsa Chicken Pizza

Saturday:

B-Migas, Juice
L-BBQ Hot Dogs, Corn Bread, Leftover Fruit
D-Ravioli/Meatball Lasagna, Broccoli

There's not a single supper on that menu that I won't thoroughly enjoy! And that Vanilla Buttered Pecan Oatmeal is sounding like just the thing to start our day tomorrow... mmm.

What's your favorite thing you're serving up this week?

This post is linked to Menu Plan Menu.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

I feel silly even posting a recipe for this. Because, really? You don't need a recipe to make chicken noodle soup! And this particular one isn't even a fancy, spiced up, zesty, exciting one. It is just about as plain jane as it gets. Still, it makes for a tummy-pleasing warm lunch on a cold day and it was a nice bonus after having already gotten five dinners out of those five chicken breasts!


For this simple lunch, I used:

  • about 4 cups of stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chicken bits
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • approx. 1/4 lb spaghetti noodles, cooked separately so it didn't absorb all the stock (Spaghetti is NOT the traditional type of noodle used in soup but it works just fine. And I had it on hand.)
  • juice from half a lemon (I had this on hand and it really brightens the flavor of the soup... totally not necessary though.)

I brought my stock and salt to a low boil, added the carrots, then reduced to a simmer. About 15 minutes later, I added the chicken bits. Once they were warmed through, about 5 minutes, I squeezed in the juice of half a lemon and added the noodles.

And that was that.

Our family of five happily ate this for a weekend lunch. The one year old really only ate the carrots out, though, so I would have to say this yielded four servings, not five. Nonetheless, I'd say I got more than money's worth out of five bone-in chicken breasts!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chicken, Broccoli, & Garlic White Pizza


Oh, my friends...

I adore pizza. I really do. Like, really really. If pizza were a boy and we were in junior high, I would LIKE LIKE it. I have strong feelings about pizza.

The only way I don't enjoy pizza? The same way over and over again. No offense to those of you who have an "old stand-by" but, around these parts, I serve up different styles and toppings constantly. And, while I love a traditional red pizza sauce, I also enjoy the variety of a white pizza now and again.

Ready? Here's how I made this one:

  • One batch of pizza dough (I made this the night before and just stuck it, covered, in the fridge. It was perfectly ready for me the next day.)
  • approx. 1 1/2 cups ricotta or cottage cheese (Ricotta is better. Cottage is cheaper and readily available. This time, I had cottage. Either yields good results.)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, finely shredded
  • 1 cup chicken bits (I used the ones I prepped here. Are you counting? This is meal number five that we've made out of five chicken breasts!)
  • 1/2 bag frozen broccoli florets (Mine were partially thawed, which was helpful for the larger chunks that I wanted to cut smaller. It's not really necessary though.)

Preheat oven to 450. (Back up a bit when you first open that hot oven or you might just feel your eyelashes curl. Ask me how I know...) Roll or stretch dough to cover pizza pan. Spread cottage cheese (ricotta) like a sauce over the crust. Sprinkle minced garlic evenly over the surface. Top with half of shredded mozzarella. Scatter broccoli and chicken evenly over the mozzarella, then top with remaining mozz. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cheese gets how you like it- I like it just a bit golden.

~*~*~*~

I use a large pizza pan- 16" diameter- and this pizza fed my family of five. There were NO leftovers and, truth be told, I probably would have eaten another piece if there'd been more. But we were all full enough and content. On the bright side, we had room for the homemade brownies I'd baked. :)

Tomorrow will feature the LAST meal I made from those five chicken breasts- simple chicken soup.

I hope these recipes are encouraging to you! I have a real passion for creating delicious meals that aren't heavy on any pricey ingredients.

linked to:

Sick Of It


This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
-Psalm 118:24


I'm not preaching to you all. I'm just reminding myself.

Because I'm sick of the snow. Sick of the ice. Sick of making children teary-eyed when they learn they can't see their friends at school. Sick of the drip, drip, drip as the water leaks into my house from all the thick frozen build-up on the roof.

"This is an impressive storm!"

"... another Nor'Easter on Tuesday!"

"Record breaking totals across the state!"

I hear the chipper meteorologists, so excited because they are clearly the main feature of the news shows as of late, and I sigh.

Deeply.

Audibly.

And it's easy for me to find an audience. Those around me are sick of it too.

But then the weak winter sunlight glints of the icicles hanging from my eaves... and in that bright, glorious explosion of light I am reminded that this is a day I've been given... a gift! A gift that our amazing Lord has made.

And I will rejoice and be glad.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mexican Chicken Frittata



Oh, how I love frittatas! Or baked omelets, I guess. I think true frittatas start with potatoes on the bottom but I, complete rebel that I am, slap any starch I want on the bottom and still call it a frittata. I think I like to sound fancy schmancy.
Anyway, to create this yummy family pleaser, I used my bag of 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken pieces that I picked off of the bone/meat remains I had from prepping my chicken for five meals.

I also used:

2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
6 eggs
approx. 2 cups old bread, cut or torn in small cubes
1 cup milk
1/2 cup salsa (I make Jessica's recipe.)
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375. Toss your chicken bits, taco seasoning, and water in a small saucepan and let simmer until water is reduced by at least half. Remove chicken from pan and let it cool down a bit. Grease an 8" square pan. Do NOT skip greasing your pan. I use cooking spray because butter does NOT work for me but, if you have a better method, please let me know! I'm thinking of trying bacon grease next. Anyhow, scatter the bread around the bottom of the greased pan. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, salsa, and cheese. (**At this point, you could absolutely add any or all of the following: diced onion, diced peppers, diced fresh tomato, corn, fresh chopped cilantro, etc. It was karate night around here which meant I wanted NO arguments and quick eating. So I kept it super basic. I don't always.**) Dump egg mixture on top of bread cubes. Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes until set up and very lightly browned on top.

~*~*~*~*~

This recipe also fed all five of us and, since I was a light eater that night, there was enough left for my husband's lunch the next day.

When I'm Having A Bad Day, I Lie.

It's true.

And I don't even feel all that bad about it.

When I'm having a bad day, I lie...

to my treadmill.


Yes, indeedy, I program that workout and, where it says "enter weight", I push that button until it settles on "250".

That's right, 250.

My reward for adding 100+ pounds on to my actual weight?

An easier workout, friends.

And, yes, I totally realize that I am NOT burning 500 calories in a half hour doing that workout. The fact that the screen says it doesn't make it so.

But, when I'm having a bad day, I'd rather lie to my treadmill than wallow in a vat of cookie dough.

I'd even suggest you try it if you happen to have a bad day too...

Our Favorite Batter-Dipped Chicken


(Recipe originally posted in April '10)

I had made those bread crumb coated chicken nuggets or patties for years. They're good, don't get me wrong, but they weren't what I wanted. I wanted that BATTER-dipped kind of chicken. And I didn't want to soak it in buttermilk overnight. Or use shortening. So I had to scavenge and combine and tweak until I arrived at...



For these, I used the "butterflied portions" of two whole chicken breasts that were prepped here.


Batter-Dipped Chicken Sandwiches

  • chicken breasts, cut or pounded thin
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • buns, lettuce, tomato, cheese, mayo... anything you want to top your yummy chicken sandwich!

Butterfly each piece of breast meat. Place between sheets of waxed paper and whack the heck out of it with a heavy skillet. You want it as thin as you can get it without tearing holes in it. Now isn't that scientific? Melt your butter and mix in remaining ingredients until you have a pale, orange-ish looking batter. Meanwhile, heat about 1/8" oil in that heavy skillet you used earlier over med-high heat. When it gets up to temp (about 5-7 minutes), you can start adding the chicken. Dip each half-breast into the batter until fully coated. Lay gently in pan of hot oil and cook until nicely golden brown, about 4-5 minutes each side. Drain on a paper-towel- or cloth- lined plate. Serve on buns with desired toppings.



**To make the Italian Chicken Sandwiches I posted in my Menu Plan , just top with your favorite red sauce and some melted mozzarella or provolone... yum!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Asian Chicken Stir-Fry With Mixed Veggies

(This pic is overly bright and orange-y... stupid flash. :( )

For this meal, I used a bag of frozen "broccoli, carrot, cauliflower" mix (is that called California Medley or some such thing?), a can of mushrooms, and the chopped up "two boneless breast" portions I packaged up the other day:


Truth? I used a Lawry's marinade for this. I hadn't intended to, but then I saw the bottle rolling around my fridge door and it was perilously close to expiring. I don't like to waste, people, so I used it. What this means is I marinated the chicken, cooked it up, added the veggies, and served it over cooked rice. It was that easy.

However...

Had I NOT found that bottle rolling around, I would have used this recipe for an equally tasty and still very simple meal:

In small bowl (well, really, I use a medium bowl because I like lots of room to work), combine:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sherry
2 teaspoons minced garlic

This can be used as a marinade or simply as a sauce to simmer your chicken in. If you like a thicker sauce, you can add a bit of corn starch.

~*~*~*~*~*~

This recipe, along with 1 1/2 cups of rice (before cooking) fed all five of us abundantly, with leftovers for my husband's lunch the next day.

Isn't this fun? I get a kick out of seeing how I can make ingredients s-t-r-e-t-c-h ! I'd love for you to come back tomorrow when I dish up my signature batter-dipped chicken sandwiches!

Menu Plan: 1/23- Six and Salmon


So, all this week, you'll get read my recipes from LAST WEEK... a whole slew of chicken dishes prepared from five bone-in chicken breasts. One of my very favorite tips for keeping the grocery budget down (and, quite frankly, adhering more closely to "serving size" guidelines) is to really stretch meat. I simply don't put whole chunks of meat on a plate. With the exception of a great steak, it's not my favorite way to see meat served, to be honest. Anyway, those recipes will be popping up all week long, but the truth of it is that we ate all that last week.

Here's what's hittin' our table this week:

Sunday:

B-Cereal, Applesauce, Milk
L-Pepperoni Macaroni, Sliced Tomatoes (I almost ALWAYS serve up brunch after our 8:30 am church each Sunday but I arrived home with starving troops... our dinner plan cooked up faster than our lunch plan, so there you go!)
D-Eggs in a Nest, Strawberries, Oranges

Monday:

B-Maple Raisin Oatmeal, Milk
L-P,B,&J, Apples, Water
D-Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti, Carrots & Peas

Tuesday:

B-Yogurt Coffee Cake Muffins, Grapes, Milk
L-Red Beans & Rice, Juice (This recipe comes to me from Tara and I cannot wait to try it! My hubby won't touch beans, though, so it's showing up in our lunch rotation rather than dinner.)
D-Hot & Sour Peanut Noodles w/ Mushrooms and Peanuts

Wednesday:

L-Peanut Noodles, Grapes, Water
D-Pizza Omelets, Toast

Thursday: (My oldest turns SIX!!!! All meals are at his request...)

B-Rice Krispies, Apples, Juice
L-PB & Cheese Sandwiches, Jello, Milk (Yes, indeed. Peanut butter and cheese. I have no idea...)
D-Creamy Dill Salmon, French Fries, Broccoli

Friday:

B-Smoothies, Fruit
L-Cheesy Beans & Rice, Water
D-Sausage & Mushroom Pizza (Hubby's pick- and the same combo I made when his mother stayed with us and she declared it the only pizza she ate more than one piece of!)

Saturday:

B-Sausage, Egg, & Cheese Biscuit Sandwiches, Fruit
L-Vegetable Soup (CANNED, people... I know, I know, but I'm taking it easy in preparation for a birthday party tomorrow jam-packed with kindergarteners!), Cheese Bread

And that's that! While I STILL don't care for salmon, I'm utterly delighted that it was my son's choice for his birthday supper. Truth be told, he initially requested salmon sandwiches for lunch too... but Mama vetoed it. ;)

What's your favorite thing you're serving up this week?

This post is linked to Menu Plan Menu.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Creamy Chicken Marsala With Noodles

I don't mind saying that I LOVE this dish. I make it close to once a month- far more often than I make chicken marsala- because it's so very quick and frugal to put together. (I also make a meatless version sometimes, which is particularly handy during Lent!)

Here's all you need to throw this dish together...


You will also need:

1 bag egg noodles, cooked according to package directions
8 oz. sliced, fresh mushrooms (or 2 cans)
2 tablespoons butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup (or approx. 1 cup of your own homemade)
1/3 cup marsala wine (if you choose to use cooking wine, please omit the salt listed later!)
1/4 cup water (you can add a little more if you like a thinner sauce, but I'd start here)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon parsley

parmesan, for sprinkling

While your noodles are cooking, melt the butter in a med-large skillet over medium heat. Cook your chicken bites until opaque. Since I recommend fairly small bites, this should only take a couple minutes. Remove the cooked chicken and toss the mushrooms in there to brown. If you're using canned, this process will be faster. Remove the mushrooms- you can just put them with the chicken. Add soup, wine, water, salt, and rosemary to the skillet and bring to a quick boil. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Add the chicken and mushrooms back into the sauce and stir. Add the parsley. Dump all the yummy sauce over your drained egg noodles and mix gently to coat. Dish it up and sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired.

~*~*~*~*~*~

You can see from the picture that you end up with a noticeable amount of chicken on your plate. Is it a ton? No. But it's enough. And it's darn tasty. The above recipe- prepared just exactly as I described- fed my family of five just fine.

Tomorrow, I'll be serving a tasty Asian Chicken Stir-Fry with Mixed Veggies. We've still got a ton of food to prepare using those five chicken breasts! Come on back!

Linked to:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Prepping Five Meals From Five Chicken Breasts

To create five very distinctive meals for my family of five out of five chicken breasts, a little prep work goes a long way. Just a little time spent at the beginning of the week makes the rest of the days come together quickly and easily.

To make these five dinners (plus a bonus lunch!), I started with five bone-IN chicken breasts. To really stretch your chicken, I find bone-in breasts to be the way to go. (They can often be found for less than a dollar a pound too!)

Five of them:

One at a time, I toss a breast on the cutting board:

And trim away the skin with a sharp knife. This process goes quickly.


Once that's completed, I cut the fat "meaty part" off the front of the breast. It doesn't have to be perfect. Just do your best to cut pretty close to the bone and you should end up with what looks like a "boneless, skinless chicken breast"- five of them, actually:


The remaining parts will look like this:

Go ahead and toss those in a pot of boiling water. I'm convinced you can't really mess this part up. Boil them on high for 20 minutes or 45 minutes on med-low or anywhere in between. I've done it all and it always works out for me. Just get it cooked.

Meanwhile, choose the two fattest boneless breasts and butterfly them, resulting in four breast portions. (These are for your batter-dipped sandwiches.) You can package them up at this point.


Take another boneless breast and cut it into bite-sized pieces. That, too, can be packaged. (This is for your Creamy Chicken Marsala w/ Noodles.)


Take the two remaining boneless breasts and cut them into bite-sized pieces too. Package them separately as they're for a different meal (the stir-fry).


Once your bone/meat remains are done cooking, remove them to the cutting board (<--- the CLEANED AND DRIED cutting board, my friends... I am not Miss FussyPants in the kitchen, but you just gotta wash up after raw chicken) and let them cool until you can easily handle them.

Pick the chicken bits off. Use a fork, a knife, your hands... whatever works for you. I like to use my fingers, but maybe that's just me. I ended up with about 3 cups of chicken bits and a bowl of bones.


The bits get bagged as follows: 1 1/2 cups (for a frittata), 1 cup (for on pizza), and 1/2 cup (for in soup).:
(Sorry I failed to rotate this pic!)

It took me about 45 minutes, start to finish, to get all that done. And that includes getting those bones in a pot with veggie scraps to make stock- don't toss those bones!!

All this week, I'll be sharing the recipes to make with all that beautifully prepped chicken. Here's the rundown:

What Would You LOVE to Review?


I've been meaning to do a review for CSN Stores for months now. Alas, somehow, I deleted an important email (oops!) and then it's Christmas and birthday central around these parts. But, I finally have my act together and I'm excited to get moving on it.

The hardest part of this whole gig? Deciding what to try! CSN Stores has over 200 sites with products ranging from furniture to shoes to swing sets. (And aren't those some nifty swing sets? We were so lucky to inherit a playscape like that from my sister!)

I'll look forward to sharing with you whatever I choose and about my experience! But, how about you? What would you LOVE to review, given the chance?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Gary

Once again this week, I'm participating in the Gypsy Mama's five minute Friday writing challenge this week, so this is a departure from what I usually post on here. It's been really good for me, though, and has helped remind me of how I used to write way back when I was 13 and the poetry seemed to pour out of me. (What happened to that me?)

In case you don't feel like clicking through that link (though, really, you should because Lisa-Jo's writing is completely mesmerizing), the gist is that I set a timer for five minutes and just free-wrote. I did NO editing or revamping after that time.

The suggested prompt this week is: "Think of the most unique person you encountered while you were out and about this week, and write them into life for us."

Start:

It's ridiculous, really, the amount of snow that's piled up out there. Storm after storm- blizzard, Nor' Easter, you name it- has dropped tons of the white stuff, plus ice, on our little corner of the world. The blinding whiteness forms massive humps and hills up by the roadside and, no matter how many times we dig our mailbox out, the plows just continue to form new heaps in front of it.

Gary doesn't seem to mind.

He whistles as he drives, two tires tipped up over that mini-mountain, and, when he still can't reach, he happily scales the slick mass on foot to ensure his delivery gets where it needs to be. I wave from the porch, making my way to meet the kids' bus, and he tips his hat.

Gary is not old.

But it is so sweetly old-fashioned, this way in which he always greets me. That hat-tip. His willingness to wait patiently at my door when he has a package. He knows it takes me a bit sometimes to juggle the kids around.

Down, down, down he slides from what would probably make an awesome snow fort. With a wave he is off... to repeat the process again and again for the neighbors.

A ray of sunshine on a snowy day.

Stop.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stretching Meat to Feed Your Crew


We've all heard this tip, right?

To save on groceries, be sure to serve one (or more) meatless meals each week.

It's good advice. And, truth be told, going meatless doesn't really bother me a bit. My family's game for just about anything too but, let's face it, I have guys under my roof. And you know what most guys like?

Meat.

Our budget doesn't lend itself to serving up a big slab of meat and then little piles of side dishes. So, that's not how I tend to cook. The way I cook enables us to eat lots of "meaty" meals without buying a whole ton of meat.

Next week, I'll be sharing how I feed five people five nights' worth of dinners made with a grand total of five chicken breasts. You can check out the meals and read more about that right here. Now, lest you think I'm just tossing together a handful of casseroles, let me assure you that that's not the case! The following are all excellent ways to make your meat go that extra mile:

Cut in smaller bites. Lots of recipes call for 1" - 1 1/2" cubes of meat as "bite-sized". Go ahead and knock that down to 1/2" - 3/4". You'll still get noticeable bites of meat to chew on... but you'll get a lot more of them out of your piece of meat!

Butterfly. Slicing your slab o' meat into two thinner slabs obviously doesn't magically create more meat... but it creates twice the surface area and that goes a long way to "fooling" the eye and tummy!

Stir-fry. Small pieces of meat tossed with tons of veggies in a flavorful sauce can be super fulfilling!

Make soup! It's a no-brainer, but soup doesn't require much meat and the piece you add can be relatively tiny. Especially if you're using stock, you'll have plenty of authentic meat flavor without using much meat.

Vary your starches. Egg noodles, rice, pizza crust, various pastas, potatoes... they can all be mixed and layered and laced throughout your meat dish, making it go just that much farther.

I'll be using all of the above methods to feed my family of five off those five chicken breasts for the whole week... and you know what? We won't be suffering a bit and I guarantee my husband won't ever have to grumble, "Where's the meat?"

Linked to Frugal Friday.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Micropreemie's Five-Year Old Well-Child Visit

C. is five now.


I watch this little skinny-mini who adores all things pink and princess and remember when I wondered if she'd ever be able to see, let alone distinguish colors.

I listen to her thunder across the floor with utterly graceless dance steps and recall the developmental pediatricians' cautioning words, "She may never walk..."

I hear her belt out, "Allelujah... allelujah... thanks to the frizzen Lord!" and I step back in time to the weeks upon weeks that I never heard her voice or cry.

My little girl. Truly, little. She still only falls in the 10th percentile for height. Weighing in just under 34 pounds fully-dressed, she's in the 3rd percentile for girls her age. Delicate-boned with a tiny little face, she comes across as even more fragile than she is. The best way I can describe her is that she's the kind of girl that people instinctively want to look out for, to take care of...

My little sprite.

Low muscle tone. Some unclear speech patterns. Severe vision impairment.

These words are all scrawled across the paperwork I will need for when she enters kindergarten next year.

I imagine they would cause some parents great distress.

They don't even faze me...

Dance on, my miraculous princess, and sing your shouts of joy.

Allelujah, indeed.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Menu Plan: 1/16-Five, Five, Five


I am SO. DARN. EXCITED, my friends! Pay special attention to this week's Monday through Friday suppers... oh, and Saturday's lunch. Do you see all that yumminess? Well, NEXT week, I'm going to walk you through prepping and preparing those five dinners (and a bonus lunch) using five chicken breasts. That's right, I'm feeding FIVE people for FIVE nights on FIVE chicken breasts. So many people have asked me how I keep my grocery budget low and one of my favorite methods for doing so (AND pleasing those with a Y chromosome!) is to stretch meat. It's going to be fun and I sure hope you'll come along for the ride!

Sunday:

B-Cereal, Applesauce, Milk
L-Egg "McMuffin" Sandwiches w/ cheese & bacon, Juice
D-Sunday Supper at Bama & Papa's (Seafood Crepes- delish!)

Monday:

B-Peanut Butter Chip Oatmeal, Milk
L-Grilled Cheese w/ Jelly, Pretzels, Water
D-Creamy Chicken Marsala w/ Noodles

Tuesday:

B-PB English Muffins, Yogurt, Juice
L-Buttered Noodles, Apples, Milk
D-Asian Chicken Stir-Fry w/ mixed veggies

Wednesday:

B-Blueberry Muffins, Eggs, Milk
L-Rice, Cheese, Juice (Does this meal sound lame? Perhaps, but my kiddos love it!)
D-Batter-Dipped Chicken Sandwiches, Corn

Thursday:

B-Blueberry Muffins, Cheese, Juice
L-PB&J on buns, Apples, Milk
D-Mexican Chicken Frittata

Friday:

B-Smoothies, Toast
L-Cheesy Beans & Rice, Water
D-Chicken, Broccoli, & Garlic White Pizza (LOVE white pizza!!)

Saturday:

B-French Toast, Apples, Hot Cocoa
L-Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, Fruit

We don't normally eat chicken that many nights in a row but, to be honest, there are so many different styles of food going on, I don't think any of us will be a bit bothered by it!

This post is linked to Menu Plan Menu.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I Don't Like to Comment


I know I've mentioned before that I'm Catholic and, also, for those people who somehow miss this fact... Christian. (And conservative and pro-life and all that stuff too, but that's not so important right now.)

I am a Christian woman. My faith and my prayer life are deeply important to me. They are at the core of, well, who I am.

So it should come as no surprise that I love to visit and read the writing of other Christian women. I am so inspired by the passionate words of so many of you... your strong beliefs and devotion to Christ make my days richer.

But I don't like to comment.

I hesitate- again and again- to add my two cents even when I feel so very moved to do so. I want, so badly, to share what it has meant to me, to say that I thought your words were amazing. But I do not.

I do not because I'm realizing that I don't measure up when it comes to knowing how to "talk the talk."

I'm not super handy at quoting scripture on the fly and I don't have a lot of uplifting pulpit-worthy language in my repertoire. If I were to write, it would say something like this:

"Wow, this is powerful stuff. I think we all need to think about these things when we look at how we treat each other."

Or something like that. Simple, everyday language. I just don't know how to reference religious chapters and elements with the ease that some seem to demonstrate. When I try, it sounds forced. And false.

And so I feel like less. I feel like what I have to say won't sound as devout... as, well, Christian.

I don't know what to make of all that or even what I should do about it.

I certainly have tons of respect, and sometimes even envy, for these ladies who know how to "talk the talk". So, I guess the question is this...

Is it more important that I learn how to "talk the talk" or that I continue in that never-ending daily struggle of trying to "walk the walk"?

And, just know, that just because I may not be commenting... it doesn't mean you haven't stirred something in my heart.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Icicles

I'm participating in the Gypsy Mama's five minute Friday writing challenge this week, so this is a departure from what I usually post on here. Humor me, will you?

In case you don't feel like clicking through that link (though, really, you should because Lisa-Jo's writing is completely mesmerizing), the gist is that I set a timer for five minutes and just free-wrote. I did NO editing or revamping after that time. The suggestion was to use a photo on your camera as inspiration. And that's what I did:

5 minute writing
Prompt: photo of icicles hanging from the roof outside my window

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Start:

I am blinded.

Mesmerized.

I'm also contorted in an incredibly unnatural pose in my former dining room, now dubbed the "art room" because it is the hub of all sorts of creative wonderment in our home... more crafts than formal dinners happen in that room.

Anyhow, I'm on the floor, one leg bent behind me and my neck twisted so I can see the roofline outside the window.

From it, they hang.

Glistening. Glorious. Glassy perfection.

I've not been so enchanted by sparkles since I got my diamond professionally cleaned several months back.

But this- THIS!- is so much more. Surely this is what they tried to emulate when they carved and faceted this icy stone on my hand. I can only imagine that this explosion of pure clear light is what they tried to capture when they put that flashy stone in the hot white of platinum.

God has adorned my eaves with gemstones... row upon row of shining glory in the sunlight.

Stop.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
also linked to Finer Things Friday

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The A-to-Z of Where My Time Goes...


So I got to wondering...

Where do I spend most of my time online? Where do I go? What websites come up, again and again? If I type just ONE letter into my browser-addressy-thingy (oh, I am SO tech-y), what sites will come up? Are you just a teensy bit curious? It might tell you a lot about me! So, from A-to-Z, here are my most commonly typed sites:

A: The Finer Things In Life - Sweet Amy was one of my very, very first "bloggy friends". Turns out she and I started our blogs on the very same day! Since that day, we've both birthed babies and grown closer. I am so determined to get to chat with her IRL some day!!

B: Benza Bulletin - Heather and I became fast friends as we went through our last pregnancies at pretty much the exact same time. We were both facing the worry of a pregnancy following a very premature delivery and it was nice to have each other... it's still nice! (By the way, we both had full-term babies in June of '09... God is good!)

C: CT Energy Info - It's snow storm season here in New England (more than 30" currently on the ground, friends!) and, when the wind blows, the power can go. Here's where I check out our status.

D: DaySpring - Oh, how I covet that Ever Grateful collection...

E: Etsy - I am not a full-fledged Etsy addict, but I definitely like checking out the cuteness... and indulging now and then!

F: Farmhouse Love - The aforementioned Amy pointed me in this direction just recently and it managed to secure my "F" spot.

G: Google - Yeah, well, it's hard to beat Google. If your site starts with "G", I may still love you, but it's going to take a lot to overtake Google...

H: Home Depot Rents - We're looking into renting a steamer to hopefully remove the ridiculous wallpaper that refuses to part ways with our walls...

I: Intense Debate - This is who I use for my comments. I'm pretty happy with them- they're the best I've found for Blogger, anyway, and I've thus been too chicken to go over to WordPress.

J: Joyful Adorations - Kelly is such a delight! And she just had a baby so, I confess, I visit her site even more frequently to read updates on precious little Levi.

K: Keeping the Kingdom First - Though we've never met in real life or even spoken on the phone, many Twitter convos have me convinced that Alyssa and I would get along just splendidly in real life. I'd love to join her for a cup of coffee and leave the sweet tea to the rest of y'all. *blech*

L: Life as MOM - Ah, Jessica, my twin. Another one of my very first bloggy friends. I am honored to be a regular contributor over at her site and I read her words just about every day. Love her.

M: Money Saving Mom - I am determined to meet Crystal one of these years! She, Alyssa, and I all went through our last pregnancies at the same time, which was fun. On top of that, she is younger and wiser than I and just a lovely soul. Perhaps Relevant '11 will be the time?

N: NW CT Craigslist - I'm on the lookout for a free/super cheap dresser than I can fix up with some hard work and love for my baby girl's room...

O: Oh Amanda - Amanda has a certain, well, sparkle to her that's just fun to be around... her blog bubbles with fun and wisdom and inspiration. And it's pretty. And she throws cool parties.

P: my own blog - Oh yes, I hold the coveted "P" spot. ;)

Q: um, these Zucchini Quesadillas come up (by the way, they're very good!)

R: Raising Homemakers - I love the message and mission here. I wish I could have directed Mrs. Johnson, my 9th grade English teacher, here when she told me I was "too smart to be just a mom."

S: Simply Rebekah - Rebekah is a delight! And she is doing a phenomenal "Day in the Life" project that I think we should all be a part of... sounds fascinating!

T: The VanVleet Family - I'm willing to bet lots of money you've never been to this site, now have you? The VanVleets are a lovely family we got to know in the NICU at Riley Hospital. Their older daughter, Macy, is just about the same age as our C. She is an incredible, incredible little girl who has been through so much! (Full disclosure: If I didn't use TweetDeck, I have no doubt that "Twitter" would have topped my T's... *ahem*)

U: Union 28 - Oh, how I love their tees! I wear my "my husband rocks" shirt with pride and hubby has one that says "I love my Wife". (I may or may not have bought that for him...)

V: Vanderbilt Wife - Jessie is just so charming and real to me. I love her. She and I like to gripe about the lousy grammar out there! She also just had a darling baby boy. I SO want to snuggle him...

W: We Are THAT Family - Kristin's heart for giving is so inspiring to me. Her faith, conviction, and determination make me want to DO SOMETHING. And I think she'd be glad to know that.

X: Expedia - I don't know what to tell you about this. I'm guessing it's from my husband helping his mom find a flight out here this past December? Maybe? I have no clue. I'm not going anywhere. ;)

Y: Yahoo - My personal email is through Yahoo. So there you go.

Z: those Zucchini Quesadillas came up again-- what a clever recipe using both a "Z" and a "Q"! If only you could find a way to make it on Scrabble... ;)

And there you go! Find anything interesting? Anything surprise you? How about YOU? It's such a fun experiment... if you try it on yourself, please let me know your findings! If you blog it, leave your link in the comments, would you please?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

So I Stepped In Cat Vomit...


And that's how my day started.

I stepped in cat vomit.

Then my one-year old spilled an entire jar of glitter around the kitchen.

I discovered that we somehow owed library fines.

I cut the base of my thumb knuckle with my chef's knife... and bled into the spinach I was rough-chopping, rendering it useless for our supper.

My five-year old had an accident. And not just a wet one. (Ewww....)

And, yet, as I type this at NOT YET NOON, I can say it hasn't been a bad day.

Really, JessieLeigh?
Really.

I'm not entirely sure why, but I think it might have something to do with how I really started my day... back before I stepped out of my cozy bed and smack into cat vomit...

With a steaming cup of coffee in my hand, delivered to me in bed by my husband (yes, indeed, he is a keeper- thanks for noticing), I read these words:

Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. --Isaiah 40:31

We cannot always choose the circumstances of our days, but we most certainly can choose how we respond. There was not one single thing that happened this morning that was a big deal. Truth be told, each situation was resolved in less than five minutes- hardly worthy of being deemed a catastrophe.

How lovely is it that all we really need to do it keep on walking and trust?

May we all recognize that today's stumbling blocks are just part of the adventure...

And keep on walking.

Linked to WFMW

Monday, January 10, 2011

Broccoli, Tomato, Red Onion and Bleu Cheese Pizza

Oh, the deliciousness...


All my lovelies, in one convenient package.

One of my favorite lunches to throw together is a small pizza. I mix up a quick third of a batch of this dough and go from there....

For this particular gem, I pressed the dough into a 9" round pan and then added the following flavorful toppers:

2 tablespoons prepared Italian dressing, spread evenly directly on dough
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup chopped broccoli
1/4 cup bleu cheese crumbles


Baked at 450 for about eight minutes, it makes a phenomenal, quick, gourmet-tasting lunch! It'll feed me for two days, as long as I don't have any little mooches clinging to me. Some people could probably stretch it three days, but, me? I'm a pizza lover.


And this is my kind of pizza.

Linked to:

Go Packers!

... That is all.

(By the way, that's actually C. back when she was only one year old... I'm amazed that her face almost looks a little chubby!)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Menu Plan: 1/9- Peanut Butter and Banana??



I went grocery shopping- woo hoo! But not before making it through last week with our one measly pound of ground beef and a single chicken breast. Oh, and one stick of butter. But we made it, obviously, and no one is any worse for wear. Still, I always say there are two states I love to be in when menu-planning- either desperation or abundance. I don't why I'm like that, but it is what it is. Abundance it is this week! Here we go:

Sunday:

B-Cereal, Applesauce, Milk
L-Pancakes, Bacon, Orange Slices, Water
D-Sunday Supper at Bama & Papa's (Since we had a ham feast instead of our usual Italian fare on Christmas Eve, we dined on a delicious Italian spread this night instead... YUM!)

Monday:

B-Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal, Milk
L-Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwiches (my kids requested these- we've never tried them!), Raisins, Water

Tuesday:

B-PB Toast, Yogurt, Juice
L-Cheese Quesadilla, Applesauce, Milk

Wednesday:

B-Blueberry Muffins, Eggs, Milk
L-Beef Sandwiches, Spinach Salad, Water
D-Pigs in Blankets, Baked Beans, Pickles

Thursday:

B-Blueberry Muffins, Cheese, Juice
L-Pigs in Blankets, Apples, Milk
D-Jalapeno Havarti Mac Cups, Veggie Medley (original recipe calls for PepperJack, but I have Havarti... I'm thinking it will still be delish)

Friday:

B-Smoothies, Fruit
L-Cheesy Beans & Rice, Water
D-Pizza- 1/2 Pepperoni, 1/2 Cheese (Kid Pick-- they were boring this time!)

Saturday:

B-Cinnamon Rolls, Sausage Links
L-Ham & Cheese Sandwiches, Apples
D-Beef & Rice Enchiladas

So there you go! Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday's suppers are all new recipes to us. I cannot even IMAGINE not liking them... they sound so tasty! Oh, and have you ever had a peanut butter and banana sandwich before? Did you like it?

This post is linked to Menu Plan Menu.