Friday, April 30, 2010

Chasing Zs

I can't understand why I slept just fine as a child, even when I did nothing all day but read (who does that sound like?), but as an adult who is busy all day with many things, I can't sleep!  Last night I tossed and turned, finally waking up for good at 5:00 AM.  I don't like this.  I was lonely.  So, I go ask if anyone wants to have some early quiet time with Mommy:
Curlyjo, do you want to get up and keep Mommy company?  I couldn't sleep and I don't have anyone to talk to.

I see how it is. 
The kids can wake me up when they can't sleep and get lonely, but this behavior is not to be reciprocated. 
I guess I will just go see what Brother is up to.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Wrath of Kitty

Look at this lovely little friend:
She is crazy.
She is absolutely repulsed by her own litter box, especially when she has recently used it but no one took note and emptied it.  Tiny Love's chore is to clean the litter box every morning, and as she occasionally has trouble remembering her chores (which costs her BIG TIME), Kitty Friend is sometimes inconvenienced.  When this happens, Kitty Friend pees in the floor. 

So, as the litter box did not meet the required standards for usage, Kitty Friend left notice in the floor this morning.  Who cleaned it up?

What a way to start the day.  Someday Tiny will begin to see the value in completed chores.  Until then, I will smile while receiving her allowance, and she will clean up Kitty Friend's indignation while making this face:

Whatever works, sister. 
Where is Curlyjo in all this?  Where she always is these days:

Reading.  What is breakfast without The Boxcar Children
Now, if you will excuse me, Kitty Friend likes her food bowl filled about this time of day.  And we like to comply with her wishes.

I Can Make That!

I love my coupons, but I never clip the following:
  • kitchen cleaners (like 409, Lysol, etc.)
  • laundry boosters (like stain releasers,etc.)
  • glass cleaner
  • bleach spray cleaner
Why?  Because I can make these for a fraction of the cost and in very little time.  My favorite is "all purpose cleaner."  It works on so many things (thus the name?):  carpet spills, kitchen counters, sinks, toys, varnished wood surfaces, etc.  And you can make it too.

All Purpose Cleaner

Materials needed:
  • Dish soap (any kind)
  • white vinegar
  • borax (this stuff is awesome--so many uses!)
  • an empty plastic spray bottle
  • warm water
  • Optional:  a few drops of tea tree oil (for scent and disinfection purposes)
Into the spray bottle, pour 2 tbs. dish soap, 2 tbs. white vinegar, and 1 tsp. borax.  Add the tea tree oil if you are using it (it can be found in the supplement section at Walmart).  Swirl gently to mix.  Fill the bottle the rest of the way with warm water.  Put the spray lid on and close tightly.  Turn the bottle several times to mix.  It is ready!

I actually wrote the recipe in marker on the outside of my spray bottle, so I never have to search for it when I need to make more.  It works great and doesn't have a strong chemical smell, which I appreciate. 

Give it a try!  Let me know what you think.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Another week has begun!  I sat down yesterday afternoon to get a few things organized for the week ahead:

  1. Clipped coupons from the Sunday papers.

  2. Checked the sale adds.

  3. Started a grocery list.

  4. Made a menu for the week.

  5. Filled in my calendar for the week with appointments, etc.
Doing these things on Sunday helps me get an idea of what we have to look forward to in the coming week, and it gives me a sense of control in a world full of chaos :)

Last week I didn't end up making the Garlic-Lime Grilled chicken, so that is making a reappearance this week.  I made the quiche, but it wasn't the best, so I will make another and share the recipe next time.  This week:

Monday:  Vegetable soup, bread machine bread
Tuesday:  Crock pot Pork Chops, Baked potatoes (crock pot), frozen vegetables (I will have a homemade veggie burger.)
Wednesday:  Breakfast!  Eggs, Pancakes, Sausage, fruit
Thursday:  Grilled Garlic-Lime Chicken, Salad, Brown Rice
Friday:  Burgers (veggie for me), vegetarian baked beans, Salad
Saturday:  Fried Fish (hubby's stockpile), Oven fries, slaw
Sunday:  Easy Chicken and Noodles (lunch is our big meal)

I will post other recipes through the week.  On days when there isn't a vegan option, I will just have the side items, leftovers, or use it as an excuse to eat more Ezekiel bread with almond butter.  :)

What are you having this week?  Do you menu plan?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Avocado Wasabi Dressing

I am in the process of changing my diet a little.  (Why?  Read this.  Don't like it?  Listen to this.)  I know these changes will be a process, and if it doesn't seem to be working for me, I will change it up.  My family will not be making the same dietary choices, so I will continue to cook for them in the healthiest way I can while still pleasing them.  But, that is for another post... 
One of the changes I am making is to eat a large, fresh salad every day.  But salad gets boring, right?  Maybe not.

Avocado Wasabi Dressing
1 ripe avocado, halved and pit removed
1 Tbs. Wasabi paste* (or more, to taste)
3 Tbs. seasoned rice vinegar
the juice of one lemon or lime
salt and pepper, to taste
Water to thin, if desired

Scoop the flesh of the avocado into a food processor.  Add other ingredients and process until smooth.  Let sit in the fridge for at least one hour to let the flavors blend. 
*Wasabi paste is in a green tube and is found in the Asian foods section of the grocery store.  It is the spicy green stuff you get with Japanese food/sushi.

I didn't thin my dressing with water, and it was creamy and delicious.  My salad contained romaine lettuce, carrots, red cabbage, scallions, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, cilantro, and chickpeas. 

It is like butter :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hunting the Elusive Mushroom

I love how, once a year, everyone in our area becomes a "hunter and gatherer" for a day. 

People who normally exist on a diet of Yoo-hoo and Cheez-Its ("not that there's anything wrong with that,") make a mad dash for the countryside, foraging for these beauties:
Then take them home and promptly fry them in Crisco, to make them fit into the afore mentioned diet.  Onlookers eagerly await:

Yes, my family is eco-responsible and tries to eat a local, organic diet. 
At least once a year.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Aliens Stole My Brother

Today a very eerie and unsettling thing happened in our house.  After breakfast, I went into the bathroom to wash my hair.  I heard a strange sound coming from the kitchen:  the sound of dishes leaving the dishwasher and entering the cabinets.  How could that be?  I am not in the kitchen!
Take a good look, Mom.  You may not ever see this again. 
MY BROTHER DID THE DISHES.  He then proceeded to sweep the floors and wipe the counters and table.  I don't know what to think. 

He knew where the dishes went.  Really?
I was grateful, truly grateful.
I bet he knows how to clean toilets, too. 
There is always tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Baked Spaghetti Casserole

We had a pretty typical day. 
History lesson:

Yes, paper dolls count--as long as they are historical figures.

Economics lesson:

"Girls, come and see all the things mommy got free at Walgreens (all of that x2).  Never throw away coupons."

Yogurt Bowl (to keep bellies full until dinner)
1/2 c. Greek yogurt
1/2 c. frozen fruit (cherries + blueberries)
drizzle of honey
1/3 c. Kashi Go Lean Crunch

Art class:

Where is the table?


Because it is always an experiment to find a vegetarian recipe that the whole family likes. 
But I did.

Baked Spaghetti Casserole
1 box whole wheat spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 pkg. reduced fat cream cheese
3 tbs. milk
3 tbs. Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. dried parsley
28 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Put the cream cheese in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds or so to soften it.  Add milk. Parmesan, and parsley.  Stir to combine, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Pour cooked spaghetti into the cheese mixture and stir to coat noodles.  Spray a 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray.  Pat spaghetti into the pan, pour sauce over top (do not mix).  Top with mozzarella cheese.  Bake covered for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes.  Serve!

Of course there were other highlights, but no one wants to see pictures of me folding mounds of laundry while Curlyjo reads Matchlock Gun aloud.  And the kids singing "The Pirates Who Don't do Anything" isn't as funny in still pictures. But you get the idea. 

Get to Know Tiny Love

Tiny Love: 
Second born, baby of the family, smart, brave, sweet, and lovable.
Impulsive, intemperate, and possessing a real ear for a curse word.

Her FAVORITE things:
Yellow Blankey.  Stay smells awful.

Baby Elyse.  The first word she learned to spell was the doll's name.

Lincoln Logs and Legos.  In that order.

Her cat, Chins Monroe.  She loves him so much she baptized him in his water bowl to make sure he would go to heaven. 

Candy.  Lots of candy.  Big candy.

Tea parties with Mom when Curlyjo gets to go somewhere and she doesn't. 

Bringing me gifts, not the least of which is her love.

Thank God for tiny things. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Almond Butter Cereal Bars

I am experimenting with a recipe to take to the bake sale at my gym tomorrow.  (A bake sale at the gym?)  We are having the sale to raise money for the FitClub Relay for Life team.  I looked around at several recipes on the internet and finally came up with one of my own.  It is lovely, because it includes my beloved:

No-Bake Almond Butter Cereal Bars

2 c. puffed brown rice
1 1/2 c. quick cooking oats
1/2 c. brown sugar, loose
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. almond butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. coconut extract
1/2 c. flaked coconut
1/3 c. mini chocolate chips

Spray an 11 x 7 pan with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, mix the puffed brown rice, oats and coconut.  In a small saucepan, heat the brown sugar and honey until just to a boil.  Remove from heat and stir in the almond butter and extracts.  Pour over rice mixture and stir FAST.  It gets sticky.  Press into the pan and scatter mini chips on the top, pressing them into the surface.  Your hands will get chocolate all over them, which is nice because you have to lick it off.  Unless you are taking them to a bake sale.  Then don't do the licking part.  Let cool and cut into bars.  Makes 12-16 bars.

They are really good.  
Let me know if you give them a try!

Books, Books, Books

On Sunday I helped my sister get ready for a yard sale, which is a fund raising event for the amazing organization she and her husband started.  In return for my labors (which were plentiful, I assure you), I got a preview of the cases of books she had donated for the yard sale.  And I did buy.  I brought home a tub of books for Curlyjo and Tiny Love.  Someone might be as big a junkie as her mother.
She can't be bothered to put them away!  She sat there for two hours and devoured one after another. 
The trail leading to the junkie: 

Oh, she does make her mommy proud. 
Later I headed to a friend's house for Book Club meeting. 

They were a little shy and used our first book to hide from me.  Jane Austen would be proud of their modesty. 
Our hostess was so sweet to feed my love of books of another kind.

I see lists in its future. 
Now I must go.  I have books to read today:  first Jesus, then Henry David Thoreau.  Hmmm.  That would be an interesting dinner party...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I am participating in Menu Plan Monday at the above website. 

I love planning ahead for dinners for the week.  It keeps me from freaking out at the end of the day about what to feed everyone, and I save lots of time and money by planning ahead!  Here is our menu for the week:

Monday:  Zuppa Toscana soup, bread (Aldi), and a green salad
Tuesday:  Crock pot Chicken, Brown Rice, Roasted asparagus
Wednesday:  Garden Quiche, Bread Machine bread
Thursday:  Baked Spaghetti, Salad
Friday:  Garlic Lime Grilled Chicken, Frozen Vegetable, Sweet Potato Fries
Saturday:  Out?
Sunday:  Leftovers

I will post all recipes next week, as I haven't tried some of them. 

What are you making??

Taming the Desk Pile

I had on my desk an unorganized pile of various notebooks, calendars and journals to help make my life more "organized."  This is a self-defeating phenomenon.  You see, the problem is that I had a calendar for scheduling, a homeschool planner, a notebook for daily "to do" lists and another notebook for menu planning.  Then I stumbled across this little beauty on the internet:
I purchased the Women's Day Planner from  It is very simple, multi-functional, and charming. 
Each month has a two page planning section in which to list expenses and income, goals for several categories (me, family, household, and finances), notes and thoughts on the month, and special dates.
In the calendar part, the monthly view is on the top of the page, while weekly calendar view is at the bottom. 
When you flip to a new week, the bottom half of the page turns and you still have the monthly calendar right above!  So smart.
Each day has room for my daily to do list, and it has a box labeled "supper plan."  Love it.  So, I am now down to two notebooks: my Women's Day Planner and my homeschool plan book. 
Now, if only my coupon organizer were more organized...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Different is Good.

Sometimes when the whole world is purple,

I just want to be PINK.

What have you always wanted to do, or try, or be that just doesn't go along with everyone else, so you don't do it...out of FEAR of being "pink" in a world of purple? 

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I am not very good with horses.  Okay, I am terrified of horses.  I grew up on a farm that was home to some of the most ill-behaved ponies the Lord ever created, so my opinion of these animals is much skewed.  My sister, the First Born, loves her "sweet" babies.
Foxy, practicing his "I didn't do it" look.

Cammie Jo, practicing her "I did it, so what?" look.

So, when my in laws informed me that they were getting a horse, I thought "Okay, a horse.  Well, that is scary."  Oh, little did I know...

Meet Charlie: part horse, part woolly mammoth.

Does this give you a better idea of his size?  Some of us aren't scared at all.  Some of us use the zoom on our cameras and keep our distance.  Some of us even RIDE Charlie.

Meet my wonderful, fearless (though tiny) mother-in-law.  It scares me that she rides Charlie, though I am sure she has no problem letting him know who is the boss.  Sometimes I wish I could borrow her bravery...and her energy.

That's it, Charlie.  Head down, eyes on the grass. 
Oh, no.  I think he's looking at me. 
*Insert scream.  Run for the house.*