Saturday, July 31, 2010

31 Days to Build a Better Home

I'm joining the task of 31 Days to Build a Better Home at Today's Houswife. (Thanks to Amber at Half is More Than Enough for posting this and bringing it to my attention!)

The kids and I are traveling to my parents' farm tomorrow and will be gone for five days. I am looking forward to the time away from the city, the crowds, the noise, and (gasp!) even the internet (as my folks don't have internet 'em!) So I'll miss posting the first few days of August but I'm looking forward to hitting the challenge at the end of the week - refreshed, renewed and energized! (Or perhaps completely drained and cranky from traveling by myself with a toddler and carsick preschooler). Either way, see you in a few days!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What kind of cook am I?

Is this telling of the kind of cook I am (or apparent failure of a cook)?

I was wiping down the kitchen the other day when my 3-year-old daughter came into the room. She loves to help and wanted to know what she could do. So I gave her a dishrag and told her to wipe down the front of the dishwasher, which she did. Then I told her to wipe down her and her brother's chairs. Which she happily did. Then I told her to wipe down the front of the stove. She looked at me, perplexed, and asked, "What's the stove?" I said, "It's that that big white square thing where Mommy stands and does her cooking." So my daughter turns and starts wiping down the microwave.

Kids...gotta love 'em.

For more Friday Fails, please visit Myra's blog My Blessed Life.

Two more blog awards!

I was so pleasantly surprised recently when I received two more blogger awards! Thank you to those who are reading my blog (I'm up to 25 followers now...hooray!) I really enjoy blogging and find it to be a great creative outlet for this mostly-happy SAHM.

The first award was the Versatile Blogger Award from Angie at Angie's Healthy Living. Angie has a great site filled with terrific, healthy recipes and the stories of her weight loss journey are inspirational!

The rules for the Versatile Blogger Award are:
1. Share 7 things about yourself, and
2. Pass the award on to 5 fellow bloggers (with links to their blogs).

So here goes - 7 things about me:
1. I got married when I was only 21 years old and, this August, will celebrate 14 awesome years of marriage to my terrific husband;
2. My lil' cozy home is only 925 square feet on the main floor;
3. Up until I became a SAHM, I never...and I mean never...cooked. (I've always loved to bake, but the stovetop scared the heck out of me.)
4. I know it's terrible for me, but I LOVE my one can of Diet Coke each day.
5. My dream vacation would be two weeks in Germany. Not a "European Vacation", but just Germany.
6. My favorite color is purple.
7. And, perhaps coinciding with number 6, one of my favorite singers is Prince. (Hey, I'm's sort of a requirement.)

And here are 5 fellow bloggers who are very deserving of the Versatile Blogger Award:
1. Amy at The Finer Things in Life - "encourages frugal, simple, at-home living; nurturing relationships as a faith-filled mother and wife; and living well for less"
2. Heather at Frugal Reality - "Helping you pinch that penny in the real world"
3. Cynthia at What's For Dinner - "One mom's quest for meal-planning bliss" (and we all know how I love meal planning!)
4. Erin at The Journey at our House - "Living & learning with 5 kids, autism & homeschooling"
5. Messy Mommy - "Please don't feed the dust bunnies!" (my current favorite post is titled "Poop in the pool"...need I say more?) :-)

And the second wonderful award is the "Sunshine Award" from Amy at A Foodie Fairytale. This award goes to bloggers "whose positivity and creativity inspire otehrs in the blogging world." Isn't that awesome? So sweet of Amy - thanks! Please check out Amy's site for awesome recipes (I've been having dreams about these S'mores Cookie Bars) and meal planning inspiration.

Here are the rules for the Sunshine Award:
1. Post the logo on your blog
2. Pass on to 12 bloggers with links their blogs (I will only do 4 this time...sorry.)
3. Let the nominees know of the award by commenting on their blog
4. Share the love and link to the person you received the award from.

Here are my "Sunshine Award" nominees!

1. Myra at My Blessed Life - "inspiring peaceful hearts and beautiful homes" - a very popular blog and I love her "Friday Fails" posts and frugal design ideas!
2. Laura at Heavenly Homemakers - "Making our homes heavenly, striving toward heavenly homes" - again, a very popular blog but I get a lot of inspiration from Laura's site!
3. Amanda at Savings in VA - she has terrific frugal shopping and budgeting tips.
4. Krystal at Recipes of a Cheapskate - the "ultimate cookbook!"

Happy blogging everyone and thanks for the support!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

I'm not even going to pretend like I've ever made these pancakes, because I haven't. This recipe is from my mother-in-law and my husband has perfected it. He makes these pancakes nearly every weekend and my kids (and their mommy!) love them. They are hearty, healthy, and delicious. Not to mention they freeze beautifully for an easy breakfast throughout the week.

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

2 eggs, beaten
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 T. sugar
1 T. vegetable oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder

Mix eggs and buttermilk in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Stir the egg/milk mixture into the dry ingredients and let the mixture rest for a few minutes. Cook pancakes in pan over medium heat or on an electric griddle set to approximately 375 degrees. Flip the pancakes when little bubbles apprear. Enjoy!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Menu Plan: Week of 7/26/10

I went grocery shopping yesterday afternoon (by myself while hubby stayed home with the kiddos during naptime...bliss!) and was proud to come home and say that I only spent $60 on groceries for us for the week. I'm trying to use up a lot of what I already have in the pantry and freezer. Here is what our menu looks like for the week:

cold cereal (since my son will only eat Rice Krispies for breakfast!) and toast
Honey Crunch Granola with blueberries and yogurt
Raisin Bran Muffins

Grilled ham and cheese, tomato soup
Picnic lunches (sandwiches, cheese, fruit) outside on nice days

Monday: Cheese Tortellini with slow-cooker marinara sauce, kiwi fruit, lettuce salad

Tuesday: Vegetable Beef Skillet (new recipe), lettuce salad, orange and apple slices

Wednesday: leftover buffet

Thursday: Taco Soup (recipe to come soon), tortilla chips and salsa, pineapple

Friday: Baked Spinach Pasta (freezer - this poor lil' guy has been on my menu for weeks and keeps getting carried over...), lettuce salad

Saturday: Clean out the fridge night

Sunday: hubby's on his own - the kids and I are heading out of town to Nana and Papa's farm for the week

For more menu planning ideas, please check out I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Marinated Teryaki Pork Tenderloin

I save most of my go-to recipes in Word documents on my computer and this marinated pork tenderloin recipe is saved under a document called "Family Favorite Recipes" because this is definitely a family favorite.

A few times a year, Cub Foods has a "mix and match" meat sale where you can pick four or five selected meat products for $20. Hormel pork tenderloin (original and unseasoned) are almost always included in this sale so I make sure to stock up my freezer with a few pork tenderloins whenever this sale hits. My husband and three-year-old daughter love this pork. It is easy and it meets my SAHM-cook criteria that I can prepare it in the morning before the kids get up. Last week, I served this with homemade hash browns, green beans and lettuce salad. Perfect!

Teryaki Pork Tenderloin

1-2 lb. pork tenderloin (unseasoned)
5 T. soy sauce (I use low-sodium)
2 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger (I use freshly grated ginger)
1 tsp. black pepper

Mix the sauce and spices in a large plastic resealable bag. Trim any fat off the pork and add the pork to the bag. Marinate in the fridge for at least 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 425. Drain and discard the marinade. Place the pork in a baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake uncovered for about 25-35 minutes or until meat reaches 160 degrees. (My oven took 40 minutes to get as done as I like it, but the recipe says 25-35). Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
(My family ate this up before I had a chance to take a picture so here is a photo of what was left!)

Slice the leftover cold pork into thin slices the next day for an awesome pork sandwich!

(Please visit Joy In My Kitchen for more great healthy recipes!)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Menu Plan: Week of 7/19/10

Here it is, Sunday evening, and I haven't done a stitch of grocery shopping for the week. We are expecting my in-laws to come for a visit this Thursday through Sunday, so I expect I will be doing some grocery shopping mid-week. For now, though, the first part of this week's menu is based solely on what I already have in the house.

Raisin Bran Muffins (will post recipe soon)
Buttermilk pancakes (will post recipe soon - from the freezer)
cereal and toast

Picnic lunches (PB&J, fruit slices, chips)
chicken strips, cottage cheese and fruit

Monday: Spaghetti with slow-cooker marinara sauce, frozen green beans, apple slices

Tuesday: leftover spaghetti and/or Poor Man's Pizza made with leftover sauce

Thursday: Chicken Tacos (made in the slow cooker and ready whenever the in-laws arrive in town), chips, refried beans

Friday: BBQ Chicken Wings on the grill, corn on the cob, pasta salad

Saturday: grilling out - hamburgers, hot dogs and all the fixins'

Sunday: ??? my vote is out to eat! :-)

Extras and baking:
Cupcakes (for my daughter's "Princess Pool Party" on Thursday)

For menu planning ideas, please visit I'm An Organizing Junkie.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sweet Blog Award!

I was honored by April at Angel Foods Kitchen with the Sweet Blog Award. Please check out April's great blog with some very yummy recipes. I admire her for traveling the non-processed-food path!

Here are the Sweet Blog Award rules:
- Give this award to 10 sweet bloggers.
- Make a post about the award including the picture and mention the person who gave it to you.
- Put the award on your blog.
- Let your nominated 10 know you’ve awarded them by leaving a comment.

Here are 10 great, sweet blogs you should all check out! These women put a lot of time and consideration into their blogs and I really enjoy and appreciate the ideas and encouragement I receive from them.

1. Moderate Means ("Living Green. Living Frugally. Living with Diabetes.")
2. A Quest for a Balanced Life (great decorating ideas and recipes!)
3. My Life as a Domestic Nerd (Doesn't the title say it all? Love it!)
4. Encouraging Mom (a great new blog re: striving to be domestic goddess!)
5. Half is More Than Enough (recipes and family fun ideas!)
6. Clay in His Hands ("Family, Frugality & Faith")
7. Clipping, Sipping and Beautiful Chaos ("Encouraging women in their service to the Lord, fulfilling the roles He has designed for us!")
8. Angie's Healthy Living Blog (again, the name says it all!)
9. Mommy's Blessings (loving the current tips for surviving motherhood...)
10. A Foodie Fairytale ("Making magic in the kitchen!")

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Menu Plan: Week of 7/12/10

Last week’s menu plan was thrown a little off-kilter by a last-minute, but much-welcomed, visit from my parents for an evening followed by an unexpected and AWESOME fried catfish and chicken wing dinner from our neighbors. As such, I am carrying over a meal or two that didn’t get made last week. This week’s menu isn’t real inspired, but it provides a new favorite meal for my family (the salsa skillet!) and a couple of easy freezer meals for me! A pretty low-key, and low-grocery-shopping, week for me.

Here’s what I have planned:

Cereal and toast
Breakfast cookies and fruit
Buttermilk pancakes (freezer)

Picnic lunches outside on the nice days (PB&J, crackers, fruit)
Grilled cheese and tomato soup

Monday: Black Bean, Beef and Salsa Skillet, chips and salsa, fruit

Tuesday: Marinated pork tenderloin (one of these days I'll actually get this easy and excellent recipe posted...), hash browns, green beans with almonds

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Baked Spinach Pasta (freezer - carryover from last week), romaine salad

Friday: Lentil Soup (freezer – carryover from last week), frozen mixed vegetables, honey wheat biscuits, honey mustard salad

Saturday: Pizza Pasta Salad (new recipe), carrot sticks and hummus

Sunday: Clean out the fridge night

For more menu planning inspiration, please visit I’m an Organizing Junkie.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Roasted Red Peppers

A few weeks ago, Cub Foods had red, yellow and orange bell peppers on sale for 99 cents each. Often an unheard-of price here in Minnesota, and my husband and I LOVE red peppers. So I bought a couple of (HUGE and BEAUTIFUL) red peppers. But what to do with them? I already had some chopped up and frozen in the freezer. And I didn't have any dishes planned using fresh red peppers. So I decided to roast them. For the first time ever. And they turned out soooo yummy and perfect. Here's how I did it:

Start with these awesome, beautiful peppers:

Preheat your broiler on the low setting. Cover a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cut your peppers into good-sized chunks but make sure the pieces are cut so that the peppers can lay mostly flat on your baking sheet:

Place your peppers into the preheated broiler and let them get happy. They will get beautifully browned/blackened and almost sizzling. Don't be afraid of the blackness because you'll peel off the skins. In my oven, the peppers took about 10 minutes to get softened and blackened under the broiler.

Remove from the oven and place in a resealable bag or container with a lid. I don't like putting hot things in plastic, so I used my Pyrex dish with a cover. The peppers will get nice and steamy and soften some more in the covered dish. I let mine rest about 20 minutes.

Once cooled, peel off the skins. This sounds monotonous but it went very quickly and I thought it was quite fun!

I placed my beautiful, peeled peppers in a jar and covered with olive oil. Store the peppers in your fridge and use for any dish that calls for roasted peppers. I recently used them in a Red Peppers Hummus and thought it was better than anything you buy in the store!


Monday, July 5, 2010

Menu Plan: Week of 7/5/10

We are coming off of a fabulous Independence Day weekend filled with fun and lots...and lots...and lots of FOOD. And although the food was extra tasty, it wasn't necessarily so good for us. Cheeseburgers, hot dogs, brats, homemade mac 'n' cheese, potato salad, cupcakes, popcorn, and ice cream. Not a vegetable in sight the whole weekend. We had such a fun time (and the kids loved it all!) but I can definitely feel that we haven't been eating the greatest and it's time to get back on track. Here is what I have planned for the week:

Buttermilk pancakes (freezer)
cold cereal and fruit
Blueberry muffins (freezer)

Lots of picnic lunches planned this week with crackers, cheese, fruit, raisins, and pretzels

Monday: we ate out as a grand finale to our fun (but unhealthy) weekend

Tuesday: Chalupas (new recipe!), romaine salad, fresh melon

Wednesday: Angel Chicken, broccoli, melon and/or pineapple

Thursday: Lentil soup (from the freezer), honey wheat biscuits, fruit

Friday: clean out the fridge leftover buffet

Saturday: Honey Mustard Lime Chicken Drummies, brown rice, mixed vegetables

Sunday: homemade pizza, romaine salad

For more menu planning ideas, please visit I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Things I Love Thursday - Dry Erase Calendar

I'm in love with my new calendar. I've always been wary of the calendars/dayplanners where you have to write in the date yourself. Really, it's just more work for me and I knew I would never keep up with it.

Until I saw these adorable dry-erase weekly calendars at Target.

It came with double-sided sticky tape AND magnets so you can hang it on a wall or your fridge. I opted for the fridge. It forced me to clear off the messy front of my fridge, arrange/take down some pictures of my adorable children, nieces and nephews, and make room for the new calendar. It is the perfect size to fill in various playdates and park visits we have scheduled this summer, and there is also space to fill in my menu plan for the week (which looks better than the scribbled-on Post-It notes I used to have hanging on the fridge with my menu plans). And perhaps the best was only $5! They came in plenty of cute colors (I opted for the turquoise blue). Love it!

One more step closer to being less cluttered and more organized.

For more "Things I Love" this Thursday, please visit The Diaper Diaries.