Monday, December 31, 2012

menu plan monday & pantry challenge


I know.

It's been a while. As usual, things have been keeping my on my toes, when I'm not flat on my butt and being dragged behind a locomotive.

The time has come to refocus and get serious. It's New Year's Eve ~ that time of year when everyone gets retrospective and reevaluates their actions and goals. I'm no different. At times I want to reject the obvious and trite here, but it really is a good thing to reflect and plan. This is as a good a time as any.

Since school started in August, I have had a lackadaisical attitude towards menu planning. Sure, while making my grocery list I jotted down a few menu items and generally made those during the week. But I wasn't serious about using the list to guide my shopping in a money saving way. It was mostly so I didn't forget supplies for dinners. You know that budget I have for groceries?

Pfft! What budget?

Not a healthy attitude.

To start the new year off on the right foot, I am back on the planning-and-sticking-to-the-budget wagon.

This we are having:
  • quesadillas
  • chicken taco casserole
  • baked potato soup
  • beef stroganoff 
  • creamy jambalya pasta (new)
  • bbq chicken pizza & side salad

We have a tradition of eating out on New Year's Eve and getting home before anything crazy happens on the streets, so we will be doing that.

For the last couple of years, January has been the month of the Pantry Challenge. Yup. Doing it again. 

These are my Pantry Challenge 2013 goals (very similar to last year):

1. Use items from the pantry and freezer.

2. Stock the pantry. Our grocery store has case sales in January. While I'm going to take advantage of the case sales for some things, I'm not going crazy. We still actually have some items left over from the last case sale this past summer.

3. Save money. This goal is a two-part goal. My primary goal is to absolutely stay within my weekly budget of $140 (or $700 for the whole month of January with 5 grocery shopping trips). My secondary goal is to spend only $100 per week (or $500 for the month). I did the shopping for week one yesterday. I came in under my primary goals by $15! But, since there was not a morsel of ground beef or sliver of chicken in the freezer I had to do a little bit of stocking up on meats. There are some other meats that will be featured in meals this month, but none of our go-to staples.

What about you? Are you meal planning? Are you taking part in the Pantry Challenge?

I'm linking up with and Good Cheap Eats.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

my instagram week

Here's my week in cell phone pictures. No fancy camera, but bits of our life captured nonetheless. 

Last Sunday, Greg and I were getting all domestic.

Which is entirely different than having a domestic.

We made a fresh batch of laundry soap. And by we, I mean Greg made it while I flitted about the kitchen, took a picture, and generally got in the way.

Continuing in the domestic vein, I made Heather a new skirt since she asked so nicely. She wanted more than one skirt, but I told her to slow down, girl.

And here she is Monday morning at school wearing her new skirt.

She insisted I get a shot of the flower she wore in her hair that matches her skirt perfectly.

Lunches don't always get fully eaten at school ~ not enough time. So what better snack to have at dance while your sister is taking her class but your left over lunch?

We had picture day at school this week. Since I was due for a little hairapy, I went a little nuts and cut over six inches of hair off. I could say this was a spontaneous move, but I've been contemplating it for the last couple hair appointments.

And because I can never leave well enough alone, I will grow my hair out again someday. As soon as I get bored of this.

Today I worked on a little project Sharon is anxious to receive. Unfortunately, I didn't get much further than this because I answered the siren call of my bed for a nap, then there was grocery shopping, dinner, etc. You know, responsible adult stuff. My aim is to have them done by the end of the week.


Keep your fingers crossed, Sharon.

life rearranged

Sunday, October 7, 2012

instagram friday ~ but rarely on a friday

For Stephanie's 13th birthday party, she had five friends over for the evening. Three of them spent the night. She didn't want a big deal ~ just hanging out. The lack of a big deal made my life easier, but I have to say, I felt a little guilty not making sure they had activities to do. The main thing she wanted to do was watch The Titanic.

And hang out.

I guess this is what it's like to have a teenager.

So I made grilled chicken, baked potatoes, and salad. She has a vegetarian friend, so the baked potatoes and salad made sure she had something substantial to eat.

She requested mini cheesecakes for her birthday dessert. That's easy. I also made Rice Krispie treats. At a respectable hour, Greg and I went to bed and told the girls to stay in the house and not burn the place down. I woke up at some point in the night and smelled popcorn. When we woke up in the morning, there were no more cheese cakes and no more Rice Krispie treats.

Holy cow.

It made me remember jr. high sleepovers and our bottomless pits of stomachs.

The kids decorated for Halloween this last weekend after the sleep over. They did the whole thing themselves {with a nudge or seven two from me}. 

The fun never ends! I am always making something for school. This week we reviewed odd and even numbers with an Around the Room activity. The kids love this because they don't keep still. They move around the room for the whole deal. 

Thus the name ~ 

Around the Room.

Choices. Choices.

Do I read while the kids are at dance or grade papers? I am always so behind at work that I feel compelled to grade the papers. After all, I did drag them all the way across town with me. 


I read my book.

Those papers will still be there later.

Not sure what happened to the rest of the week that flew by so fast!

For other instagram photos, check out Jeanett's blog.

life rearranged

Sunday, September 30, 2012

zombie apocolypse?

A few weeks ago, the kids asked me if they could cut up some old clothes {holding said clothes up for me to see}. Fun Mom said, "Sure, go ahead."

So they took their clothes, scissors, markers, and finger nail polish outside and got to work. They decorated & cut. Then I hear the hose.


Well, of course, they need to get the clothes wet before they drag them through the dirt. 

Um. Ok.

Then they asked to use my make up, because Stephanie's make up bag didn't have enough variety. Fun Mom answered them again. They spent the better part of the next hour in my bathroom transforming themselves...

...into zombies. All this effort was intended for a zombie movie. Of course Fun Mom handed over her little flip camera for this.

Fun Mom did have to draw the line when they sprayed hot sauce on the block wall for "blood."

How can they be scary when they're so cute?

They didn't want to smile for this photo shoot. I did finally get them to smile for a picture, but it turned out blurry ~ maybe because I was laughing.

I love that they spent the afternoon getting along and being creative!

Watch out for zombies at your house!


Saturday, September 1, 2012

time for school

This was our first week back to school. Whew! Let me tell you that every girl in this house is T I R E D!

Well, not after a nice little nap today.

But all week we were wiped out!

A couple of the days I caught people taking naps after school. One night I was so exhausted I thought I might fall asleep in my dinner like a toddler. So tell me how that was the night I ended up staying up until eleven watching America's Got Talent? That's not even a show we watch on a normal basis. There is no reasonable explanation.

Even though we fully prepared for the first day of school by ironing the night before and making sure back packs were set to go, we ended up running almost late. We had to rush these pictures.

Stephanie is beyond excited that the dress code at her school was changed a bit and now she can wear any color collared shirt instead of the few certain colors she was limited to last year. She could not wait to wear her pink shirt.

Heather is in 5th grade this year. She loves her class! She loves that her BFF is in her class for the first time since 2nd grade. Heather had a little bit of a rough year that included some bullying aimed in her direction last year, which was an emotional drain on both of us. This year has been so refreshing. She is excited about school again, which makes this teacher mama's heart happy

Stephanie is in 8th grade. She's loving her year too. Even though she spent five weeks this summer going to an enrichment "school," she was ready to start the year. She has a couple of classes with her BFF and likes all her teachers, even the ones that seem a little scary. She is excited to join a club after school. 

After dropping Stephanie off, Heather and I headed to our school for our last first day that we will have at the same school together.

Heather helped me get a few last minute things ready before the little kiddos arrived. This included test shots of the first day photos I planned on taking of my students. In the end, I took the kids outside and took their pictures in front of a tree.

I am thrilled to be back in 2nd grade. My class is sweet. There are a couple of boys who will be learning some self-control this year and what it feels like to keep their thoughts in their head. Other than that, we'll be having a great time. I've already busted out the paints. They handled that pretty well ~ I think I was the only one who got paint on a shirt ~ so we'll be able to do lots of fun stuff. FYI ~ Flowy shirts and bending over tables with paint and paint covered paper do not mix.

See you on the playground!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

the last day

Even though I reported back to work on Wednesday, today is officially the last day of summer break. Greg had off work this week so he entertained the kids when I had to go back for teacher work days. 

One day he took the girls and our neighbor buddy, Austin, to breakfast with the grandmas and the papas then hiking in the mountains. They had a great time!

The air was cooler. It was reported that they climbed all over everything. (Not bad for a phone pic, huh?)

They went up to an area we've been before that has a "slide" that over time water has carved into a rock. The last time we were there it was dry and the kids slid down it several times. This time, there was water flowing over it from recent rains in our area.


You guessed it.

They slid down nature's water slide.

In their clothes.

Over and over again.

Apparently it was the pinnacle of the day.

Greg texted me this photo with the caption, "The party is obviously over!" They were tuckered out!

Heather and Stephanie have both given out their back-to-school Starburst treats to their teachers. 

Their backpacks are packed. 

First day outfits are decided upon, but not yet ironed. 

They are ready and excited and nervous.

They are a little sad summer is over. 

Tomorrow they will start 8th grade and 5th grade. How did this happen?

This will be a year of lasts for us. This is the last year Heather will be at my school ~ the last year any kid will tag along with me in the mornings and be forced to occupy themselves while I work. The is the last year Mommy will be just down the hall if she needs something. This is the last year Stephanie will be in middle school. 


Take a look at my teaching blog to see what this is all about.

And this one too.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

bursting with excitement

When Stephanie started 6th grade, Greg had the idea to take a little gift when she went around the school following her schedule to get an idea of where her classes were located. Great idea! Why didn't I think of that?!

So she walked her schedule and introduced herself to the teachers that happened to be working in their rooms. I'm using the word introduce loosely here. I think Greg had to initiate some of the talking there. 

In 6th grade, she gave popcorn since she was "poppin' in to meet them." Last year, she gave her teachers candy bars in hopes of a "sweet year." We have to change it up every year because she has the same band teacher each year. Can't have repeats, now, can we?

This year, she is "bursting with excitement" and giving her teachers Starbursts.

I wrapped the candy with patterned paper, backed the printed tag with scalloped card stock, and tied it with baker's twine. I used yellow and blue because those are her school colors. We kept the patterns/colors gender neutral because we didn't know whether her teachers are male or female until we got her schedule while we were at school.

This is a cute, easy, and inexpensive way to make a teacher's day. What teacher wouldn't like to get candy in the days before school while they are busy planning and room rearranging?

Heather will bring her teacher a treat at the meet the teacher day next week.

Want to make your child's teacher's day? Click on the picture above to download the printable.

Punch the circles out with a 2.5" punch or cut them out freehand. Your child's name can go in the space towards the bottom.  If you don't have a large scallop punch, you can adhere the printed circle to a piece of card stock and cut around it leaving a border. Wrap the Starburst with fun patterned paper (I cut mine 5" by 3 3/4") and attach your tag.

P.S. If you are someone who knows Heather's teacher this year, she has requested you keep this information to yourself so she can surprise him. Thanks. :)


Friday, August 3, 2012

rite of passage

The year was 1978 and I wanted to see a movie real bad. I imagine I begged and begged. At that time we didn't go to too many movies cuz my parents were working hard to make ends meet.

My dad took me to see the movie that my little girl heart could not live without and I was oh so happy. Just the two of us went to go see Grease!

Oh how I love this movie! I wanted to be Sandy and dance with Danny Zuko.

I'm not sure if he realized what he was getting himself into. Looking back, I just have to laugh. My dad is quiet and shy ~ most painfully shy. If he can get by in life without saying much, he does. (Side note: when he does talk, he's stinking hilarious.)

I was a pretty naive child. Even though I was regularly exposed to racy English humor watching Benny Hill and other such shows on PBS, I was still naive.

I know my dad must have been dying and shrinking in his seat to sit next to his 10-year old daughter during a movie with so many innuendos! Ha!  Thankfully for his sake, I'm quite certain his little girl didn't understand many of the lines. I know for sure I loved the singing, dancing, and Danny Zuko.

I have been telling Greg that it's time to let the kids watch this movie. It's time for them to experience all the delightfulness that is Grease.

Last weekend we rented it and had family movie time. I snickered to myself at all the lines I knew they didn't really understand. I sang along. I even did some of the dance moves during Greased Lightening. I swooned over Danny Z. all over again.

The kids? Well, they liked it alright.

But I don't think anyone enjoyed it nearly as much as I did.

One day when they are older they will watch the movie again and look back on the first time they watched it and turn a little pink knowing they watched this movie with their parents!


Friday, July 27, 2012

new in the shop ~ ipad pouches

Today I added a new item to my shop ~ iPad pouches/sleeves. 

There are a few different looks ~ some with pockets on the outside, some without. Which do you like the best?

Except for the one with the cycles, these pouches/sleeves are big enough to fit iPads that have the covers like Snugg or Case Crown. Even though you might have one of these covers that conveniently puts the the iPad to sleep when it closes, doesn't mean you can't have something pretty (& padded) for your iPad. Right?

The one with the cycles is a bit smaller and is best for just the iPad alone.

As always, the inside is just as interesting as the outside with a different, coordinating fabric.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

a day at the dentist

Yesterday was dentist day.

I didn't realize when I scheduled Heather's appointment that Greg had a cleaning the same morning ~ different dentists, different sides of town. Maybe I should have looked at my calendar, huh?

Nevertheless, the timing worked out fine.

Greg has to have two fillings replaced next week. Good grief.

Heather's was the big appointment of the day. The dentist has been talking about this for a couple of years now, but kept telling us to wait and see if the situation resolved itself. Which I guess sometimes it does. In December we were told it was time, but we wanted to wait until summer. Heather needed a frenectomy. She had too much tissue connecting her upper lip to her gums.

Find a mirror and check yours out. I'll wait.

She also had extra tissue between her two front teeth at the gum line. This has caused her to have a significant gap between her two front teeth and could cause future adult teeth to be crowded.

Since she is a child, the dentist begged for recommended a conscious sedation. Stephanie had this once when she was about 3 when she had to have some silver caps done. The experience at the dentist's office was not bad, but she wigged out on me at home. Bad. It was a good thing I had taken Heather to the sitter that day.

Because of my previous experience, I scheduled it for a Tuesday and made Greg go with me. Heather was a little anxious about the procedure and she was hungry because of the required fast. But when she got the sleepy shot, she was drowsy within seconds and giggly. That made it much easier for her to go into the procedure room without me ~ we weren't allowed to watch.

Probably a good thing.

The procedure didn't take long & the dentist brought her into the recovery room to begin our wait for her to fully wake up and be ready for the ride home. Let me tell you, it was a good thing Greg was there. It was a strange sight to see her eyes open at about half mast, but she was not seeing, not awake really.

But then.

She started screaming as she was coming to. Unconsolable screaming. She had double vision still and was unable to make her mouth say what her mind wanted. This scared her even more I think. She made strange noises and did strange things with her mouth. Greg wanted me to video her. I gave him a dirty look and found some of her favorite "sweet music" on his phone to help calm her down. To be honest, for a brief moment I was scared silly that something went wrong and this behavior was permanent.

As she became more conscious, it alternately heart-breaking and hilarious. She said some really funny things. She was pretty l~o~o~p~y still. She asked numerous times how she got there. She asked why we were in my brother's living room. Then she wanted to know how that was possible when he lives in a different state. She wanted to know why we were in our neighbor's living room, then the library. She wanted to know who gave her the "lame-o" toy that came out of the procedure room with her. She tried to play with said lame-o toy. She wanted to know if she cried during the procedure. She told us that she didn't feel anything during the procedure. She demanded to get up and walk many times. She demanded to go home many times. She would be calm, then she'd freak out all over again. She told us she loved us frequently and wanted many kisses. It was serious work calming this child down.

During all of this, she still bled in her mouth quite a bit and her lips became a wet/caked dry bloody mess ~ which made the kisses she wanted pretty tricky. When she was much more awake and very calm we asked her if we could clean her up. She wouldn't let us do it until she saw what her lips looked like. The front office lady obliged her with a hand mirror and a giggle. I told her we do our best to be entertaining to those around us (trying to make up for that screaming).

She also told us that she wished she was more awake during the procedure so she could see it. That's Heather ~ interested in the procedure even if it's a little gross. She was not happy that I put a kibosh on Greg's suggestion of videoing her earlier antics. Later when Stephanie got home, she was not happy about the lack of video evidence. I told Greg maybe we should have shot some footage so when she is a teenager we can show it to her to scare her out of drugs for sure. So maybe the veto of the video was not the smartest idea.

We spent the rest of the afternoon with a more normal child, pampering her with chicken noodle soup and ice cream, taking naps, and watching t.v.

Today she reports her pain as a zero (on a 1 - 10 scale) unless she laughs (which pulls at the incision) in which case it's a half or 1. We are trying really hard not to make her laugh, but with comedian parents she's sorta doomed. Her lip is puffy. She is still enjoying some indulgent ice cream, pudding, and soup. We just made some jello. We are taking it easy today. No need to get out of our jammies.

She will probably go with Greg to the dentist next week and hold his hand during his procedures. She's supportive like that.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

pin this ~ avocado tomato salad


Do you?

I avoided it for a long time. Then, I couldn't hide from it any longer. At first I used it to simply pin things that I was seeing on other peoples' blogs or along the interwebs.  Then I started looking at other peoples' pins and repinning. Now that I'm on summer break I spend all day hours many minutes a day perusing pins, pinning and repinning. I follow my friends and see what they are pinning.

I think it is such a valuable {and fun} tool to be able to get ideas and save ideas in one place for later use. I have pinned recipes, ideas for the classroom, ideas for our home, etc. The problem is that there is  not enough time to do all of the projects I have pinned, especially when I keep finding more. But they are there for me when I need them.

Let's talk about recipes. Just because it's on Pinterest doesn't mean it is tasty. The picture might look tasty. The mix of ingredients might seem like a good idea. But it could be a total fail.

But this is tasty, I promise!

This Avocado Tomato Salad is dreamy ~ that is, if you like avocados and tomatoes. If you don't, well, never mind.

Avocado Tomato Salad

2 ripe avocados
2 large tomatoes (beefsteak)
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs chopped, fresh cilantro
salt & pepper to taste

Chop avocados, tomatoes, and cilantro. Mix together and add lemon juice, salt, & pepper.

Now, I used one roma tomato and half an avocado (but I should have used the whole thing). I didn't have fresh lemon juice, so I used bottled stuff. Cilantro has become a refrigerator staple in our house lately so I certainly had that. This made enough for a little side "salad" for me. Oh my! I wished that I had made more. I will be making this again soon and often.

What have you pinned and tried lately?


Monday, July 9, 2012

menu plan monday ~ july 9

Last week all the meals I planned were new. I've been including new recipes in our meal plan since I have extra time, but an entire week of them was a total accident. Here are my reviews of the recipes:

honey-rosemary pork chops ~ Yum. We will definitely have this again. And what else can I slather honey on to barbecue?

crock pot chicken cacciatore ~ Gross. There wasn't a lot of liquid and it tasted burnt. This dinner left me digging in the fridge for something else to eat. What a waste of food and money! I have fond memories of chicken cacciatore from my childhood. I'll have to find another recipe and try again.

three packet roast ~ Delicious. We will do this one again.

taco pizza ~ This was a hit. Easy.

This week we are having:
  • bbq chicken pizza
  • steak & twice baked potatoes
  • chicken pot pie
  • bowtie skillet lasagna
  • bbq ribs
  • garlic parmesan crusted chicken

Not as many new recipes this week, but I'll be sure to let you know how the new ones turn out.

What's for dinner at your house? I'm linking up with


Friday, July 6, 2012

between the pages

How do you choose a book to read? Do you rely on recommendations? Do you read the synopsis? Do you choose a book by its cover? Do you have favorite authors? Do you see a movie preview, then rush to read the book before you see the movie? All of the above?

I'm an all of the above kind of girl.

For those of you who like book recommendations, I'm going to help you out a little bit here and there.

Today I'll talk about two books.

The first is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Just recently, we saw trailer for the movie coming in out in December. When Greg and I watch trailers at the movies we tell each other whether we want to see the movie, not see the movie, or wait for the video. This was a must see for me. However, even though I'd almost finished an English degree before I changed my major to elementary education, I had never read this book. This book became a must read for me for more than one reason.

It's not a terribly long book. It did take me a while to get into the groove of his style of writing. It was certainly not a writing style that I am used to reading. I had to use a dictionary a few times, not that I mind that. In the end, I'm not too sure how I feel about it. While I liked the book, I somehow felt unsettled about it. The ending was tragically ironic.

I know there is another earlier movie made from this book, but I have not seen it. I still want to see the one coming up.

You should read the book before you see the movie ~ but that's what I always think.

I read about the next book on a blog (don't remember which one). It's 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny by Philip Done.  This is a book of vignettes that gives the reader a glimpse into Mr. Done's teaching life. As a teacher, I laughed and nodded my head frequently. Teaching is not glamourous and he tells it how it is.

I recommend this book whether you are a teacher or not. Teachers will identify with the book, but I think everyone will appreciate the humor and realistic tales of the classroom. It's very easy to read and will take no time at all.

Philip Done wrote a second book, Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind: Thoughts on Teacherhood that I hope to read soon.

Pick up a book and read!


Thursday, July 5, 2012

3 packet roast

I've been seeing this recipe on Pinterest, so I thought I'd try it. I followed the recipe here.


roast (one you like & fits in the crock pot)
1 packet brown gravy mix
1 packet Italian dressing mix
1 packet Ranch dressing mix
1 1/2 cups water (see note below)

The roast was a beef chuck roast. We are using the last cuts of the quarter of beef we bought two years ago & this is what we had.

Put the roast in the crock pot and season with salt & pepper.

Mix the three packets with the water. Pour over roast. Cook for 8 - 10 hours.

Tada! This is after 10ish hours, maybe more. The great thing about roasts in the crock pot is you can leave them a little longer and they get a little bit better.

I used the juices to make gravy, but there wasn't as much liquid as I like & I had to add water to get 2 cups of liquid. I'm glad I didn't use the recipe I found that called for only a half cup of water. Next time I make a roast this way, I will use more water ~ probably 3 cups.


Greg, the kids, and our little neighbor buddy loved the roast.

We will repeat.

Try it with your next roast.