Thursday, January 31, 2013

So, you know it's cold outside when...

you are digging through the deep chest freezer in your garage and it actually feels warmer inside the freezer than outside.

I'm just sayin'.

(Update:  one day later, the actual temp outside is -13 degrees.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Gratituesday: A Great Babysitter

Oh my, how life can change once you find a great babysitter.  Before we moved to the suburbs, we had no one close by to watch the kids so we could sneak out for a nice date night or so I could run some errands without the kids.  I didn't trust anybody.  I saw too many insane, sad stories on the news of crazy babysitters leaving the kids home alone, dealing drugs out the kids' house, etc.  No WAY was I going to EVER leave a "stranger" to watch my kids.

But once we moved to the suburbs, I met my friend's neighbor who babysat for my friend's two kids.  She was a high schooler, had her own car, and seemed really nice.  I decided I needed some sanity in my life.  I needed to take a leap of faith and trust that not every babysitter was going to leave a bag of meth on my coffee table while she hooked up with her boyfriend in the baby's nursery.

Fast forward a year and a half - our babysitter is now a senior in high school and is at our house at least twice a month, if not sometimes 1-2 times per week depending on what is going on.  She is so very dependable, reliable and responsible.  I completely trust her and she does a great job managing a 5-year-old who wants to play board games and Barbies, a 4-year-old who wants to play video games and have a Ninja sword fight, and a 1-year-old who wants to climb up on top of the fireplace and leap down head first.

I am now able to sneak out to Target by myself (which doesn't sound all that exciting, but when you can do so while leisurely sipping a Starbucks and NOT have to go up and down the toy aisles while holding a toddler's head so she doesn't suck on the sides of the cart...well, that's a big darn deal.).  My husband and I go on a date about once a month now, which is something we NEVER were able to do in St. Paul.

We are blessed to have a great babysitter who makes our lives a bit easier and a bit more fun for the kiddos.  Now...let's pray that she goes to a college very close by!

This post is linked to Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Menu Plan - Week of 1/28/13

Back to menu planning!  I'm making sure I take some time out for myself from now on to sit down, sip a hot cup of coffee (we recently got a Keurig and loooooove it!), and make the menu plan for the week.     I haven't been doing this lately and it adds unnecessary stress, unnecessary takeout, unnecessary snacking, and unnecessary weight (yes, I'm still trying to work off those 5 additional holiday pounds!).

I bought tons of beautiful fruit at Costco this week.  We are blessed with a fridge overflowing with clementines, grapes, blackberries, strawberries, apples and blueberries.  Needless to say, there will be plenty of fresh fruit served with each meal!  I'm also looking forward to some warm wintertime comfort foods.  So, here's my plan for the week - and I'm excited to try a few new recipes for supper.

Overnight Cranberry Oatmeal in the slow cooker
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes (leftovers from Sunday's big breakfast)
cereal and toast with blueberries
Pumpkin Waffles (a new family favorite - recipe to come soon!)

Lunches (for me, the 4-year-old and 1-year-old):
Tomato soup, grilled cheese, apple slices
Homemade chicken nuggets, cottage cheese, veggie chips
Spaghettios, veggie chips, clementines
Romaine salad, cottage cheese, carrots with ranch
Ham sandwiches, veggie chips, apple slices

One Pot Spaghetti (new recipe), garlic cheese bread, romaine salad, fresh fruit salad
Broccoli Cheese Potato Soup (new recipe), herb muffins (new recipe), fresh fruit
Slow Cooker Chili, (from the freezer), cheddar corn spoon bread (new recipe), fruit

Extras and baking:
Blueberry Cream Bread (going to use up some of the Costco blueberries that got a bit soft)
Peanut Butter Granola

Please visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menu planning ideas!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Favorite Finds 1/25/13

I'm linking up to Finding Joy in my Kitchen this week for Friday Favorite Finds.  Things have been busy and I haven't been menu planning like normal, which has created some unnecessary chaos around the dinner hour each night.  I'm looking forward to things slowing down a bit so I can plan our meals, snacks and treats a bit more.

Here are some yummy things I've found on the web and plan on making soon:

One Pot Spaghetti by Stacy Makes Cents - how yummy and EASY is this??

Slow Cooker Chocolate Mud Cake from Spoonful  - my daughter and I will be mixing this up tonight when she gets home from school and it should be ready in time for tonight's dessert!

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls by Laura at Heavenly Homemakers.  These are a little out of my comfort zone (rarely do I make anything bread-related that doesn't come out of a bread machine!) but these look delicious and I am going to try to make them early next week for a surprise breakfast.  

All of the above photos are courtesy of the original recipe source.

Check out Finding Joy in My Kitchen for more great (and healthy!) recipes!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Trying hard to love winter.

This picture shows a great day.  We took this picture in our backyard after we received over a foot of snow one day in early December.  It was my youngest daughter Kate's first time playing out in the snow.  All bundled up and unable to move!  The big kids pulled her around on the little toddler sled we bought for her (complete with a seatbelt!) and she lasted about 15 minutes.  Alison and Christopher lasted much longer, sledding down a little slope in our backyard for about an hour with Daddy and then making a Ninja Princess Snowman.  (In case you're wondering, it was holding a stick "sword" while wearing a tiara.  This is the compromise reached between a 5-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy).  It was a fun, beautiful, fantastic winter day - topped off with hot cocoa and marshmallows.

Fast forward nearly two months later.  Here in Minnesota we are enduring days where the temperature never even reaches zero.  (I laughed this morning while watching the Today show and the reporter was in Times Square in New York City holding a thermometer showing how "freezing cold" it was in NYC...a whopping 16 degrees.  Amateurs.)  Our hands and lips are chapped beyond recognition.  My children are slippery from so much lotion and chapstick.  It is too cold to play outside.  We are getting tired of outings to Target, Costco, Perkins and the library.  We just want to ride our bikes, swing, and breathe some fresh air.

But that is all at least three months away.  This is the "hard" time of a Minnesota winter.  Christmas has past.  The joy and delight of the first big beautiful snowfall is gone.  And now you are left with cold, hard, dirty snow and much-too-cold temperatures.  But through all of this, I look at this picture.  The fun and joy of Minnesota's winter beauty.  Snow angels.  Cocoa.  I'm trying really hard to remember this!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Tomorrow I am going to exercise. Really.

I'll put it right out there:

1.  I have gained five pounds since Christmas.
2.  I am completely lethargic.  I have zero energy.  I find it hard to keep my eyes open past 6 pm.
3.  My back hurts.  I feel old.
4.  My underarms have developed that old-lady flabby thing.
5.  From the side, I look like I have a cute little baby bump thing going on.  Without the "baby" part.
6.  In the past two days, I have totally cleaned out every remaining chocolate item from my kids' leftover Halloween stash.  With the exception of the Tootsie Rolls, because those are just hard and icky by now.  I have eaten more Peanut M&Ms and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups in the last two days than I have in the last two years.
7.  My kids are having a blast catching me eating ice cream out the carton while standing in front of the open freezer.  Because this means that they get to grab a spoon too and help me out.

So, tomorrow I am actually going out.  I seriously have not worked out since 1996.  No joke.  I am not kidding.  We have a family membership to the health club near our house.  I have gone there to take my kids to the pool and get my hair done at the salon.  I have never ventured "upstairs" where the actual exercise equipment is.

The people there scare me.  They are all very tan (even in January in Minnesota) and seem to own spandex and sports bras in every color.  The woman look beautiful even when they sweat and wear their diamonds and make-up to work out.  I am amazed how they don't break a beautifully manicured nail while lifting weights.  Everyone shows off their perfectly toned abs and arms, all while smiling and looking cute.

Tomorrow, I am going to put on my sweatpants and t-shirt and tie my too-short hair back into a half-hazard ponytail.  I will not wear make-up but I will likely brush my teeth.  I will try to walk on a treadmill while staring at my bitten-down non-manicured nails.

And I will do my best to ignore everyone else around me.

Because I'm sick and tired of being so tired.  I need more energy.  I need to feel better.

Oh yeah, and I need that flabby old-lady arm thing to go away, too.