Saturday, July 6, 2013

Menu Plan July 7/6


...ahem... Saturday

Not a whole lot of activities planned for this week so the meal plan is pretty standard. Kids seem to be eating us out of house and home so we're trying to plan heartier meals. I know we're going to have to up the food budget soon, which I'm not looking forward to!  Lots of leftovers planned so we'll be eating those for lunches.

DIY pizzas
Sausage rigatoni 
Kase Spatzle with Sausage
Soup and Salad
Sweet and spicy grilled pork chops with baked potatoes and seasoned rice
Apricot chicken with asparagus and broccoli
Patty melts with mixed vegetables and french fries

Coming up soon... zucchini.  Lots and lots of zucchini. :)

I'm linking up over at, you can check out other people's menu plans and share yours there as well. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

....errr Friday ;)

The kids are both out of school for the summer, so lots of fun activities are planned! This weekend we've scheduled a camping trip (looks like rain though, fingers crossed the system breaks up) so we've planned out meals to be cooked outside over a fire or on our camping stove. I'm posting our camping menu along with the regular lunch and dinner menus for the week.

I'm linking up over at, you can check out other people's menu plans and share yours there as well!

Sub sandwiches
Burgers and Hot Dogs
Pancakes, Bacon and Eggs
Sandwiches, pasta salad
Chicken and veggies roasted in foil packets
Cereal and Oatmeal

Chicken Nuggets with fruit and carrot sticks
Pasta salad
Fish sticks with veggies
PB+J with yogurt and fruit
Sandwiches (camping)
Sub sandwiches (camping)

Lentil tacos with refried beans and Spanish rice (didn't end up making this last week)
DIY pizza
Breakfast for Dinner
Asian Pork Tenderloin w/rice and veggies
Cuban sandwiches
Burgers and Hot Dogs (camping)
Chicken and Veggie packets (camping)

What is your family loving for dinner lately? I'm always looking for new ideas!

Note: I've learned that planning meals for specific days doesn't work for our family, unless there is activity planned for that day. It's definitely best to plan the meals and then choose what to make day by day. :)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Meal Plan Thursday

Getting back on track with....
....errr Thursday ;)

Two days in a row! Better than my previous streak of one day... in over a year lol. Anyway, I've been really good at menu planning over the last 12-14 months. In April of 2012, Trent and I began working Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover plan in order to pay off all of our debt. There will definitely be a series of posts relating to that topic alone, but the point for today is that meal planning is crucial to sticking to our budget.

Without planning our meals for the week, it is so easy to end up at the store 4+ times a week, which causes excess spending. Meal planning also prevents the "what's for dinner panic" that was previously common in our household. Before we started the TMMO, I had done intermittent meal planning (I was about as consistent with doing that I was with blogging, ahem). There are many blogs that have link-ups every week, typically on Monday, for readers to share their menus. It's a great way to get new ideas for meals, as well as have some sort of accountability to sticking to your plan. Pinterest is also a great place to search for meals and organize your weekly menu (assuming you don't get sucked into the vortex and end up looking at how to build furniture out of popsicle sticks instead of coming up with dinner ideas!).

I do most of our weekly grocery shopping on Friday or Saturday. This gives me most of the week to look through ads for deals and come up with a plan. If there is one thing I hate, it's meal planning and shopping all in one day. I try to have my meal plan done on or by Thursday, then do the shopping on Friday for the following week (Saturday-Friday). I always look at the calendar to see what events we have to work around, as well as how many days I'm working the following week. This allows me to plan "dad-proof" meals that even my non-cooking husband can make. :)  They are usually things I can make ahead (in the crock pot, or have ready to bake such as meatloaf, lasagna) or that he can prepare (grilled burgers, pasta, make your own pizza, etc). I usually plan 6 lunch and 6 dinner meals, assuming that one day we will have leftovers, or breakfast or be eating over with family or friends. So, with all that being said, here is the menu plan for the week of 5/25/13!

I'm linking up over at, you can check out other people's menu plans and share yours there as well!

Chicken Nuggets with fruit and carrot sticks
Pasta salad
Turkey Cranberry Havarti paninis with salad
Strawberry spinach quinoa salad
Fish sticks with veggies
PB+J with yogurt and fruit
English muffin pizzas with fruit salad

Mastaciolli with salad
Grilled burgers with corn and rice pilaf
Schnitzle with German potato salad
Capellini with spicy garden marinara and shrimp
Lentil tacos with refried beans and Spanish rice
Apple Kielbasa with smashed sweet potatoes

What is your family loving for dinner lately? I'm always looking for new ideas!

Note: I've learned that planning meals for specific days doesn't work for our family, unless there is activity planned for that day. It's definitely best to plan the meals and then choose what to make day by day. :)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What's new?

How embarrassing! Over a year without a post! Oh well, here's to new beginnings. Funny how quickly life passes us by. A year later, I find myself in a totally different lifestyle than before. The boys are growing quickly and becoming more independent. Not that life's a vacation or anything, but it's nice that they don't need constant supervision, and I do tend to get a little bit more done these days.

The garden is (mostly) in, though things are a little smaller than I'd like them at this point. I guess it's time to break out the fish emulsion. Have you heard of it? It's stinky as all get-out but works wonders for the plants! Four out of six of my broccoli plants were eaten by rabbits (as usual), but I replanted with squash since I'm never that impressed with the amount of broccoli I end up with for the amount of space the plants occupy. I cut back on the variety of things planted and am focusing on greater yield of the produce we tend to actually eat. The veggies this year consist of:

Buttercrunch lettuce
Red and sweet yellow onions
Eggplant- white, purple, and pink
Tomatoes- Roma, Mortgage lifter and Gold Medal
Cucumbers- patio snacker
Kale- curly leaf
Swiss Chard- rainbow lights
Yellow squash
Peppers- Hungarian Hot Wax (for making the famous pepper butter!), Marconi, and Sweet bell if I buy some plants.
and the measly 3 sugar peas that popped up.

Also growing are strawberries, blueberries, cilantro, basil, oregano, mint, and an assortment of flowers.
Cucumbers are planted in a large tub with trellis and covered with tulle in hopes to avoid cucumber beetle infestation. Last year I only got a few cukes before they were totally dessimated by the pests. I almost didn't plant any, but I love cucumber salad, and hopefully the covering will work.

In other news....

I've started a small home business selling vinyl decals, wall art, customized gifts and the like. It's going pretty well considering I've only started, and I would say that the amount of work I put in is reflected in the amount of business I get.  It's slow at the moment due to end of the school year hubub, but hopefully summer will bring opportunity for more work. If you want to check it out, you can find my shop online at First Impressions Decals.

Isaac graduated preschool! Friday will be his last day of school for the year, and he is so excited for Kindergarten in the fall. I have mixed feelings about closing this chapter of our lives, but it's so fun watching him grow. Riley is finishing second grade next week, unbelievable! Both of the kids are so smart and funny (wonder where they get that from, hehe).

We have lots of fun things planned for summer. Camping, fishing, canoeing, swimming lessons, summer reading program, ice cream and popsicle making, hopefully lots of this... kids movies at the theater, and extended stays at Grandma's are on the agenda. I hope these activities will translate to blog posts and fun things to share with you  all. I'm also planning to do a bit of summer homeschooling to keep the kids sharp and ready to continue learning in the fall. There will be a post with my home-developed curriculum coming, as well as updates on what is working and not working for us.

Well, that's the short of it all. Thanks for sticking with me. I really hope I can get this blog back up and running, don't be afraid to poke me if I forget to post. :)


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Friday, July 1, 2011

Birds and Rabbits...

I battled rabbits nibbling my spinach, beans and broccoli when the garden was first planted, and then they ate my broccoli a second time before I got smart and put netting up over the whole shebang.  Now things are big and lush and I took the netting off because I figured the garden could survive a little nibbling at it's current size.  The first night I removed the cover, my spinach plants disappeared.  I wasn't all that suprised. The plants were small and it had already gotten too hot to expect much to come of the spinach plants.  I'll just plant more in a few weeks for a fall crop.

This morning I stepped out to water my plants and everything looked fine until I got to my yellow bush beans.  There was a hole in the middle of the spot where they were planted.  Several of the plants looked like they were just ripped out.  I saw a tuft of hair in the bottom of the hole and discovered some rabbits had decided to build a nest right in the middle of my beans.  Luckily what looked like a baby rabbit was just a ball of hair so there wasn't any damage except for the few plants that got ripped out.  Hopefully the plants around it will be okay, but I have more beans in my other beds anyhow.  Now I just need to find a way to keep the bunnies out, and I prefer not to cover my beds up again, it makes it a little hard to water and we're getting closer to harvest time so I don't want to uncover every time I need to pick the beans or peppers.  I don't want to hurt the rabbits, I just don't want them in my garden!

As for the birds... My blueberry plants have been doing great.  The fruit is bulging and has turned a pinkish color, on it's way to purple and then blue.  A few of the berries on my Toro variety bush actually looked like they were only a few days away from being blue!  I was so excited to taste the first berries.  Well, the birds got the first taste instead of me.  They only took the ones on the verge of being doing, so there are still plenty left for me.  I didn't want to take any chances with my precious berries though, so I was quick to cover them with some netting.  Looks like I'll have a handful of berries any day now!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What I'm Growing - Physalis Pruinosa (Aunt Molly Ground Cherry)

Here's a new series that will hopefully get me posting a little more regularly.  Each week or so I'll feature one of the plants growing in this years garden.  The list keeps getting longer and longer, so it guarantees me plenty of material!

This weeks' featured plant is called the Aunt Molly Ground Cherry, Latin name Physalis Pruinosa.  Ground Cherries are totally new to me.  I stumbled upon them while reading garden blogs about tomatillos and when I learned that they were sort of a berry, and they were annuals, I was intrigued. Most of the berries I know of are perennials and you don't usually get much or any fruit the first year.  I've been wanting to try blackberries or raspberries, but they take a few years to start producing and they require a more permanent home than I'm willing to give them at this point.

Ground cherries, on the other hand, grow from seed and produce fruit all in one year.  They are a member of the nightshade family, similar to a tomato.  The fruits grow in a husk which hangs from the plant and looks a bit like a Chinese lantern.  The plant blooms, and the calyx (green leafy part at the base of the bloom) grows and closes up to form a little pouch of sorts which grows to be the husk. The fruit grows into a little marble sized berry inside of the husk and falls to the ground when ripe, thus the name. When ripe, the fruits are a golden color and have many tiny seeds inside.

The plants are known by many names (with slight variances between varieties, although I get conflicting information as to what the differences in taste are) such a Cape Gooseberry, Pahoa, Inca Berry, and Golden Berry.  Anyone who is asked what the fruit tastes like will likely give a different answer.  I've heard of them being compared to pineapple, strawberry, mango, vanilla, custard, lime (sounds like this person's weren't ripe enough), with a hint of tomato flavor.  I can't really imagine any of these flavors being bad, so I'm ridiculously excited to try them out!  The three plants that I am growing this year have a particularly interesting/pathetic story behind them, but I'll save that for another post. :)