Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Monthly Menu: October 2015

Here are my dinner plans for 31 days of October.
*We keep breakfast and lunch simple. Cereal or toast for breakfast. My kids have been loving fruit & veggie smoothies for lunch.

*We usually only eat-out once a week. The rest of my meals are homemade, mostly from scratch.

**These are recipes I plan on doubling and freezing the extras for days I don't feel like cooking in the next few months, since we are expecting a new baby around Christmas.

 Week 1 Menu
Baked "Fried" Chicken with Carrots, Mac & Cheese
2. Tater Tot Casserole**
3. Eat Out: Pizza
Snacks: peaches, apples, yogurt

Week 2 Menu:

4. Chicken Fried Rice**
5. Chicken Caesar Salad
6. Chili**
7. Chili Frito Pies
8.Chili Stuffed Baked Potatoes
9. Spaghetti with Meatballs
10. Eat out: Mexican
Snacks: apples, peaches, pumpkin bread, trail mix

Week 3 Menu:

11. Shrimp & Mashed Potatoes
12. Shepherd's Pie**
13. Eat Out: Burgers & Fries
14. White Chicken Chili**
15. Taco Night
16. Homemade Enchiladas**
17. Leftovers
Snacks: cheese & crackers, peaches, bananas, carrot sticks

Week 4 Menu:

18. Breakfast for dinner: Bacon & Cheese Omelets 
19. Beef Stroganoff and corn
20. Beef Stew**
21. Eat Out: Pizza
22. Grilled Chicken with mixed veggies
23. Sesame Chicken with veggies over rice
24. Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato sandwiches
Snacks: yogurt, berries, cereal trail mix

Week 5:
25. Sausage & Sauerkraut
26. Cheese-steak Sandwiches
27. Beef & Peppers** over rice
28. Meatloaf & Mashed potatoes
29. Homemade Lasagna**
30. Cheesy Baked Ziti
31. Chicken Quesos (chicken, onions, cheese cooked inside a tortilla)
Snacks: no-bake cookies, bananas, chips & salsa

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Book Review: M is for Autism

M is for Autism is a book about a teenage girl with Autism written by teenage girls with Autism. The concept of this book is brilliant and the story is bravely and beautifully written.

If you've ever wondered about the struggle many kids experience when dealing with Autism, take a peek into the thoughts of M.  With complete honesty, she narrates the daily trials of desiring to be normal, feeling overwhelmed and anxious about unexpected situations, and trying to figure out who she is.

This book is appropriate for older children, teens, and adults - I highly recommend it to all three groups. It may be a quick read, but will have a deep impact on how the reader views those who struggle with Autism.

Congratulations to the students of Limpsfield Grange School and Vicky Martin for a job well done in writing this book. May your message and cause see great success and recognition!

 *Special thanks to Jessica Kingsley Publishers through Netgalley.com for sharing this book with me in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Muffin Madness

It's been a long time since I've spent all day in the kitchen baking for fun! Today has been a blast! I had a pantry and fridge full of random ingredients to use up and four hungry kids that are always begging for a snack. So I pulled out my favorite Better Homes and Garden Cookbook (circa 1996) and got creative with the basic muffin recipe to make healthy and delicious muffins. I tried four different interesting flavor combinations, outside my comfort zone, and to my pleasant surprise my kids loved them:
Banana Coconut, Cherry Cheese, Lemon Fig, and Orange Coconut Plum

Here's my revised basic muffin recipe:
1 Tablespoon flaxseed meal with 3 Tablespoons water (this replaces the egg in the recipe)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup cooking oil
Add fruits/flavors (see my list below)

Add to wet mixture:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons wheat germ

Mix well. Spoon into paper baking cups (or greased muffin tins). Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Remove from pan, let cool at least 5 minutes. Enjoy!!

Flavor combinations that I tried today:
Banana Coconut: 1 mashed banana, 1/4 cup shredded coconut
Cherry Cheese: 3/4 cup chopped cherries (I used thawed frozen cherries), 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (next time I will probably use shredded cheddar)
Lemon Fig: 2 drops Lemon Essential Oil (or 1 teaspoon lemon extract), 1/4 cup fig jam
Orange Coconut Plum: 2 drops Orange Essential Oil (or 1 teaspoon orange extract), 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/4 cup plum jelly

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Book Review: Since You've Been Gone

Since You've Been Gone is a  fast-paced, intense story,  where author Mary Jennifer Payne deals with hard teen issues like bullying and abuse in a realistic way. Fifteen year old Edie moves with her mother to London to escape an abusive father.  Her mother promises that this move will be different, a place they can be safe, but that dream is shattered when Edie's mother disappears. Too scared to go to the police, Edie and her unlikely friend are determine to solve the mystery of her mother's disappearance.

Although I felt like the story had an abrupt ending and wrapped up too quickly, it was entertaining and kept my interest throughout the entire plot line. The main characters were well developed - I didn't always understand why Edie acted the way she did, but her background explains a lot of her irrational decisions. I also appreciate how the author dealt with difficult teen issues without being overly graphic or inappropriate for teen readers. This would be a good book for high school students who like thriller/mystery fiction.

*Special thanks to Dundurn through Netgalley.com for sharing this book in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Book Review: Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down

I have known many people who struggled with the balance between social justice and theological understanding for the Christian life. There are churches and Christians that only focus on good deeds toward those in need and still others whose main focus is gaining intellectual knowledge of the Bible.

Tony Merida answers this dilemma in his book Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down. By using gospel-centered, sound doctrine, Merida motivates his readers to pursue "mercy ministry" as a way of life for every believer.

Merida argues that loving our neighbors like the "Good Samaritan" is not just for the "Super-Christians," but should be a regular part of every Christian's life. "Most gospel ministry involves ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality." (p. 52)

With a right and deep understanding of the gospel - our salvation, our adoption, and our advocate, Jesus - we should be motivated to follow our Savior's example of mercy ministry to love, show hospitality, and care for the orphans, widows and vulnerable people around us.

Merida does a wonderful job of making the truth of Scripture on this subject very practical with many options of involvement. He doesn't call everyone to adopt an orphan or volunteer at a shelter, but he does challenge every reader to prayerfully consider these and many other options of being involved in gospel-ministry by serving those in need.

It is easy, after reading a book like this, to want to be involved in everything to change the word. But as Merida suggests to his readers, I will prayerfully consider which specific mercy ministry I can focus on to incorporate in my daily life to love others like Christ has loved me.

P.S. Lifeway currently has this book on sale for $5
Buy Me Now

*Special thanks to B&H Publishing through Cross Focused Reviews for providing this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

#20minute Challenge

I always have high hopes when a new year rolls around. I like to pick a theme for each year to grow and mature in my walk with Christ. I like to set goals and resolutions to improve my quality of life. I want to share these things with you, knowing only by the grace of God and hopefully with the accountability of others, will I resolve to actually do these things! So I hope you will encourage me to not give up and keep going on these things and share what your goals are so I can encourage you!

2015 Theme: Kindness to Others Leaves Little Room for Selfishness
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness,and to walk humbly with your God?      Micah 6:8 (ESV)

2015 Personal Goals & Resolutions:
1. More Healthy Eating (I would say lose weight, exercise more, cut out sugar - which are also in the plans, but let's be honest, my eating habits are really the most important point here.  I plan to post menus again - healthier ones.)

2. Declutter!! (This is always an on-going project - somehow we keep getting more stuff - but I plan to be more intentional about it - more on that later.)

3. Write Daily (If I really want a presence in the blog world and to be a published author - I have to make my writing a higher priority and not just when I find time to do it.)

4. Make time for Hobbies (One of my favorites is scrapbooking/card making - I have a corner full of supplies begging me to come play. I plan to share how I use my hobbies to bless others.)

5.  More Reading (Some may say it goes under hobbies, but for me, reading is it's own category. My reading list is forever long and those books are also calling my name. Besides, several books currently on my reading list help me learn to accomplish these other goals...so it's a win, win.)

6. Play with my Kids (When you're a homeschool mom and you are with your kids all day, everyday, it's easy to get wrapped up in the business of being teacher-mom and forgetting to just spend time listening and playing and going at their speed - we all need more playtime.)

How to I plan to accomplish these goals? I'm calling it T Time's  #20minute Challenge.

I will spend 20 minutes every day on each of these 6 goals - that's only 2 hours of my day - focused, purposeful, intentional - on accomplishing the things that always end up at the bottom of the to-do list labeled "When I have time".

What goals or plans do you have for 2015? Will you pledge to spend 20 minutes a day working on it with me? Share with me what your #20minute Challenge is and we can encourage one another!