Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gratituesday - Summer

Like much of the country, we had nearly unbearable heat and humidity here in Minnesota last week. With temps near the 100 degree mark and dew points in the 80s, the heat index was around 115 degrees for nearly four days. It was even too hot for us to go to the pool. The kids just wanted to stay inside in the air conditioning. (On a side note, this Gratituesday post should also be about showing my gratitude for our central a/c and the ability to pay our electric bill this month!)

Yes, it was hot. Apparently people were baking cookies on the dashboards of their car while at work during the day. BUT - I forced myself NOT to complain. I am extremely thankful for a warm, sunny Minnesota summer because, before you know it, we will be faced with a cold, snowy, LONG Minnesota winter. Below zero temps. 15 inches of snow at a time. Coats, hats, mittens, snowsuits. Unfortunately, we have that for about six months, too.

So I will not complain about the heat. Instead, I will enjoy this very brief time we have with running with sprinklers, shorts and flip flops, and Popsicles.

For more Gratituesday posts, please visit Heavenlyhomemakers.com.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Menu Plan - Week of 7-25-11

What a crazy summer! Husband working terribly long hours, house guests in and out of our home for the past two weeks, and some crazy hot and humid weather haven't really allowed me to follow much of a menu plan the last couple of weeks. I still have carryovers on this week's menu so nothing too new or exciting. However, I am thrilled that we are blessed with a houseful of food this week. My husband took both kids to a Twins baseball game on Saturday (by himself...a brave man!) which allowed me an entire afternoon of do-whatever-I-wanted-to-do-by-myself. Being the crazy gal I am, I headed to Costco (where I've never been without the kids) and enjoyed roaming the aisles at my leisure and picking up LOTS of great deals. I spent a pretty penny but we are completely stocked up for months to come (plus I got some great deals on fresh produce, cheese, milk and eggs - I cannot believe Costco's great prices on organic items!)

Anyway, despite my Costco excitement...here's what we have planned for the week:

Cold cereal and toast
Blueberry muffins
Whole Wheat Pancakes (leftovers from Sunday)
Fruit and yogurt

PB&J, chips, carrot sticks
Fruit salad and cottage cheese
Egg sandwiches, carrots and dip, fruit
Creamy Mac and Cheese, fruit

Monday: Slow cooker Chicken Tacos (carryover), chips and salsa

Tuesday: Dijon chicken breasts (new recipe + carryover), lettuce salad, sweet potato fries

Wednesday: T-Ball night so probably out to eat afterwards

Thursday: Homemade pizza, Caeser salad, fruit

Friday: leftover buffet

(I'm not planning anything for the weekends this summer - who knows what our plans will be!)

Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menu planning fun!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - First T-Ball Game

My 4-year-old daughter Alison had her first T-Ball game last week. How can she be this big already?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gratituesday - My Husband

What a crazy past few days. As I said in my last post, I started feeling ill on Friday which, unfortunately, coincided with my husband's five-day long terrible stretch at work while he was working on a big brief. Not only was I sick, weak, and achey, but I had the kids to myself 24 hours a day for five days straight. My husband's brief was due yesterday so I was so thankful when Monday finally rolled around.

I started to feel quite a bit better yesterday. Later in the afternoon, Christopher was still napping and Alison was up from rest time. I finally had enough energy to sit with my daughter and do some preschool workbook pages with her. We were having a really nice time and I was enjoying having some energy back that allowed me to do something my kids other lay on the couch watching Nick Jr. with them. Then the phone rang. It was about 5:10 p.m. It was my husband. I could tell from caller ID that he was on his cell phone. He asked, "Would you mind if I came home early today?". I shouted happily, "Yes, please!" to which he responded, "Then come to the front door and let me in!". WHAT?! I cannot remember the last time my husband was home so early! It was such a sweet surprise to see him home and I was so thankful that he made it home safely, given the fact that he had slept about seven hours total in the last five days.

Today I am extra thankful for my husband. All too often I get in one of my martyr moods when I think that I do everything around the house and with the kids. It's when my darling husband is away that I realize how much he really does help me out and how much I depend on him. And how much the kids and I love him and enjoy when he's home.

I am also thankful for his job. While I wish he didn't have to work so hard, he is an awesome provider for our family and gives 110 percent to his work to make sure it's done right. During this economy, I know so many people who are looking for work and I am extra grateful for my husband's job and his work ethic.

Thank you honey!! I love you!

This post is linked to Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of 7/18/11

Last week's menu plan was a bust. I didn't make a SINGLE thing for supper that was on my menu plan. For two reasons: hubby has been working his butt off and has been home just to sleep for an hour or two each night for the past FIVE nights - so no reason to make a big meal for me and the little ones when he's gone. Plus, I've been sick the last few days with aches, fever and sore throat so I haven't been up to cooking either. With the husband being at work and no family around to help out, it has been a challenge caring for a toddler and preschooler day and night while sick as a dog AND 7 months pregnant. But we survived - I'm feeling a bit better today - and my husband's brief is due today and his schedule will hopefully return to some normalcy tonight!

That being said, this week's menu plan is just a repeat of last week's menu plan - pretty much the same of everything. We are having the Angel Chicken with broccoli tonight, and then filling in the rest of the week with chicken tacos, veggie burgers, and dijon chicken breasts.

The good news is - very little grocery shopping for me this week!

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie and Finding Joy in My Kitchen.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Little Kitchen Helpers

I admit it - I am NOT one of those moms who really enjoys cooking with her kids. I feel terrible for saying it, but they slow things down, make a huge mess, waste ingredients, and in the long run, just make a lot more work for me. But I'm trying to get better. Trying to be more patient. Trying to just enjoy their little minds' curiosities about what goes on in the kitchen. And for that I am truly grateful. My son and daughter LOVE to help out in the kitchen, and I'm hoping that continues on for many years when I will need...and actually want...their help.

Here are my two little budding chefs:

Alison, age 4: who says a princess can't cook?
Christopher, age 2: All dressed up and ready to cook!

This post is linked to Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tomato Tortellini Soup

This is one of my 4-year-old daughter's favorite meals. I adapted this recipe from one I saw in Taste of Home a couple of years ago. It combines two of her favorite foods: cheese-stuffed noodles and tomato soup (or as my kids call it, "red soup"). It is easy and packed with flavor. I envy those who are able to can their own homemade tomato soup because that would be delicious in this dish (and make it a bit healthier)! My family of four will easily go through one pot of this soup, and if you'd like lots of leftovers you can double to make a nice big batch!

Tomato Tortellini Soup

9 oz. package cheese tortellini
2 cans condensed tomato soup (I use the Campbell's Healthy Request brand for less sodium)
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup half and half
3 cups low fat milk
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

Cook the tortellini according to package directions. While the noodles are boiling away, combine the rest of the ingredients in a large soup pot over low-medium heat. Drain the tortellini and add to the rest of the soup ingredients. Cook until heated through. Serve as is, or it's also really good topped with a little shredded parmesean cheese.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Menu Plan: Week of 7/11/11

Back to "formal" menu planning - hooray! Pretty simple menu plan for us this week, as hubby will have a busy week at work and may be working late some evenings. Plus, I'm trying not to use the oven much to keep the house a bit cooler. Here is what we have planned:

Cereal and fruit
Scrambled eggs and toast
Whole Wheat Muffins and fruit

PB&J, carrot sticks, yogurt
Mac and Cheese, grapes
Pita chips and hummus, fruit
Poor Man's Pizza, carrot sticks, fruit

Monday: Veggie/Black Bean Burgers (from the freezer), pasta salad, fruit salad
Tuesday: Slow Cooker Angel Chicken, lettuce salad, green beans
Wednesday: Daughter's first night of T-Ball so we'll be eating out afterwards or home for leftovers
Thursday: Dijon Chicken Breasts (new recipe), sweet potato fries, lettuce salad
Friday: Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos, fruit salad
Sat and Sun: ?? (I'm not really planning much on the weekends anymore during summertime!)

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Settled in.

Yes, it's really a month between posts now. We are settled in to our new home and, thank God, we are now the proud owners of only ONE home as we closed on the sale of our beloved little St. Paul home on June 30th. We adore our new neighborhood, larger house, spacious backyard, and all of the niceties of suburban living. Who knew that having an attached garage and a driveway would make a girl so happy? While I loved living in the heart of a large city for nearly ten years, I do not miss the city bus barreling by my house starting at 5am every day or the near-hourly police/ambulance/fire sirens. Out here, it is quiet. It is peaceful. I have turkeys meandering through my backyard. My children have a quiet and safe street to play on. Our neighbors actually come out of their homes to talk to us. All of this is new to us - and we love it!

I am also a bit more settled in in the kitchen, too. Tonight I made a family favorite that I hadn't made in ages - Tomato Tortellini Soup with a
Caesar salad. I'll post the soup recipe soon! We are going to try do some painting this weekend, too, if my hubby has the time. My daughter has requested a light pink room, we will paint one wall in my son's room a dark blue, and then paint the baby's room a very light blue (no, we don't know the gender of the baby but I think a light blue will be pretty and calming either way!)

I started menu planning again a couple of weeks ago, too, so I will begin posting those on Mondays again, too. Blogging life will be back to normal - at least for two months until baby #3 arrives!