Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Charity Fundraiser with Usborne Books and More

One of my very best friends, Tonia is having a Usborn Book open house and donating all the proceeds to a wonderful charity called Common Bonds. I know they are wonderful, because they did wonderful things for Tonia when she lost her baby 4 1/2 years ago. This group means a lot to her and so they mean a lot to me. Here's a link to her blog for more information:

Charity Fundraiser with Usborne Books and More

Even if you don't live in the area (she's in Utah) there's a link to her website where you can order and the proceeds still go to the charity. And the books are fabulous - so you can't go wrong. Hope you'll check it out.

Monday, March 23, 2009

So.... How are you all doing on your meal list? I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at just how many meals I came up with - considering that I feel like we're always eating the same thing over and over. In fact I came up with 19 just by sitting down and writing. Then I went through my recipe binder and asked the kids what they liked. And of course in the process I thought of a few more that I didn't have down yet. Seriously - I ended up with 33! And that's not counting Chicken Nuggets and Hot Dogs, which I am putting on my list as "don't have time to cook today" alternates. I'm excited to be able to put together 5 weeks of menus, even if I don't find a couple more - we have pizza every Friday. So here's what I came up with, separated into categories of meats:

Santa Fe Chicken
Hawaiian Haystacks (which curiously actual Hawaiians have usually not heard of)
Blacken Chicken Alfredo
Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
Crispy Onion Chicken
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Chicken Divan Casserole
Chile Verde Soup
Chicken Bombs
Chicken Salad Sandwiches (dinner tonight)
Chicken Pot Pie

Taco Soup
Chili (and rice)
Pot Roast
Tater Tot Casserole

Kalua Pork
Chinese Noodles
Ham (I just found a FABULOUS and SUPER EASY crock pot recipe for this)
Pork Chops
BBQ Pork Sandwiches

Breakfast Casserole
Tuna Melts
Potato Cheese Soup
Sub (deli) Sandwiches

So I want to hear what you came up with. Leave it in the comments, if you want, or leave a link to your blog and put it there - whatever works for you. But I want to hear some ideas. I'm all for making 6 weeks of menus! So, please share.

This week's assignment:
Read the next step's directions, pages 8-16. Basically we're taking all those recipes and putting them into weekly menus. It mentions in the booklet to be conscious of varying your meat, but I would also caution you to look at your starches as well. We eat a lot of stuff with rice, and I don't like having it day after day after day, so I will need to vary rice, pasta, potatoes, etc, too. And there are certain meals that we will gladly eat more often than once a month (or longer), so I will need to take that into consideration as well.

Well, I think that's it for now. Remember that if you want to participate in the drawing for the recipe binder you need to leave a comment letting me know that you're playing along. Comments need to be done by this Saturday, at midnight (Hawaii time). And next week I'll announce the winner!

If anyone cares...

I just wanted to let you all know that I was successful in my planning ahead endeavors. I have just completed my (HUGE) assignment that is due tomorrow (well, today) morning and it is only 2:30am! I'm so excited that I get to sleep tonight. And that I won't be a zombie tomorrow, because I have class all day, oh and did I mention that it's also the first day of Spring Break for the kids, so they will ALL be home ALL day!
And the best part is that now my next big assignment that is due on Friday is at least 80% done - I combined the 2 so I wouldn't have to do more work than necessary. How smart am I?

OK, off to bed with me!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Simply Monday.....on Thursday: What's for Dinner?

What to eat for dinner? Seriously, I hate even thinking about this question. Are you with me? I know you are - I heard all those mental moans out there when you read that first line. I try to plan ahead. And actually I've been doing pretty good this last week or so, but there's still got to be a better way. And I think I may have stumbled upon it. I'm not even sure when or where it happened, but I found this:

Sounds perfect, don't you think. And it is. The best part is that ITS FREE!!!! OK, so you have to sign up for a free newsletter, but I figure I can always go unsubscribe later if want to. So far the one issue I've gotten was pretty good. So go here to sign up and get your free copy. As a quick side note - there are other little booklets of a similar nature that look good from that same website.

Now - I have to tell you why I liked this booklet so much. First of all - it's a downloadable PDF, so it's instant gratification. But I love that it goes through planning your menus step by step. I'm mean, seriously, we all know how do plan menus. I think my biggest problem is that it seems a bit overwhelming. But this booklet breaks it down into doable, logical, steps that makes it seem, well, easy. And I think I've figured out a way to also incorporate my frozen dinners from my Big Cook in too. But we'll get to that part down the road a ways.

For now I just need to make the time to do it. So, I was thinking that maybe some of you would want to join me. It would be fun to do it all together. We can motivate each other and share ideas along the way. So, if you want to join me, here's what we're going to work on this week:

  1. First of course, you need to go here and sign up. They will email you the link to download the booklet. Download it! (You will need a PDF reader for this. Go here if you need one.)

  2. Read over the booklet - or if you want, just the first 7 pages. That's what we're going to work on this week - just step one.

  3. Decide where you're going to keep all this menu info. Personally I have a recipe binder (so do a few other gals in my family - I know - I made them) that I'm going to use. Most of my recipes are already in there, so I think that will work well for me.

  4. Print off page 7, or just make your list on any piece of paper.

  5. Make your list baby. I'm going to concentrate on just dinners for now. My older 3 kids eat breakfast and lunch at school (nice) so I really only have to plan those meals for the weekends - oh and Spring Break (the next 2 weeks! I have a love/hate relationship with year-round school).

That's it. Oh, but you only have until Monday to do it. Well, you can take longer than that, but that's when I'm planning on moving to the next step. I think that's doable. Make you're list on Sunday after church if you need to. And don't forget to include the whole family - you don't have to do this formally (though it might make a good FHE activity), but do ask everyone what their favorite meals are, etc.... And be prepared to share with the rest of us. I would love to hear what everyone else comes up with, too. Aim for about 28 meals (like the booklet says), but if you don't make it, no worries, that's what the sharing is for. We can remind you of meals you've forgotten, inspire you to try new ones, good stuff like that.

So who's with me? Let me know - leave me a comment so that I don't blabber on about this each week if no one is playing along. Invite you're friends, share the love. In fact - to get you just as excited about planning your menus as I am, I will host my very first give away. (I mean, come on, you deserve something just for reading this far.) I will make cute recipe/menu planning binder for one lucky winner. It will look something like this one:

Though, obviously I would put your name on it - not mine.

Here's what you need to do to enter
  • Leave a comment saying that you're going to play along and plan your menu with me.
  • If you want a second entry, post about this on your blog (facebook, whatever) with a link to get your readers back here (so they can enter if they want to also). If you choose to do this, make sure to tell me in a comment about that, too (the same one a different one, doesn't matter).
Got it? I'll give you until Saturday, March 28th at midnight (Hawaii time - you should all be sounds asleep by then anyway) to leave all your comments. Then I'll announce the winner (chosen at random) in Simply Monday on the 30th. And if I get enough comments that I think it warrants it, I'll make another binder and chose 2 winners.

So, you feeling lucky? Well, I can't wait to see who's going to play along. And I am seriously excited to do some menu planning. Even if the actual menu planning part is boring - at least this part is fun

PS - yes, I know that it says I posted this on Wednesday - but it's late and it's already Thursday for most of you. Besides I had the new picture already done and I didn't want to change it even though I ended up posting it a little early.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Don't worry, I'm not getting rid of Simply Monday, too. I just simply forgot this week. I've been busy working on some big assignments - trying to get them done earlier like I talked about last week. It actually seems to be working.....
I did actually have something planned for this week's Simply Monday, so I'll see if I can't find the time to post it in the next couple of days.

Until then:)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Weigh-In Wednesday?

So my Weigh-In Wednesdays don't seem to be going like I'd hoped, and I just don't have the time to put into it right now. So in the spirit of Simply Monday - I'm giving it up. I'm simplifying. I'm enjoying Simply Monday much more - Weigh-in Wednesday just makes me feel guilty. Oh well. I am still going to try to work on eating better and exercising, but at least now I won't have to feel bad if it just doesn't happen during the week.

So here are my goals in the health department - I'll try to update you now and again, but no longer weekly.
1. I am working on my menu planning, trying to plan healthier meals, as well as just planning in general so that we're not just eating whatever I can come up with at the last minute.
2. I am still trying to find a good time to get moving everyday....I just can't seem to get myself up earlier in the morning and after that I get wrapped up in daily life. I have been trying to walk more when I can, so hopefully that will keep me going for now.
3. Have healthier things around to snack on. Too bad I don't stop eating when I'm stressed - then I'd be losing no problem, though not really the healthiest way to go.

Alright, back to homework I go. I'm doing pretty good with this planning ahead thing so far.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Simply Monday #3

Well, I'm back - did you miss me? I missed all your lovely comments to keep me motivated. But it was a terribly busy week - and just a forewarning, the next couple of weeks will probably be just as busy. "They" shortened the length of the semesters here at BYU-Hawaii from 16 weeks to 12 weeks (this is the first short semester) and so we're at this weird, it's mid-semester, but there's only 5 weeks left, so that's end of the semester.... I'm just not feeling it at the moment, but it's all good. Hopefully I can plan ahead a little more.... wait - now I'm just getting ahead of myself! We'll come back to that thought in a minute (or 2 or 3).

First up - update on the microwave area. I've had 2 week to work on it, and I think it's actually worse right now. See for yourself.

I just want you to know that I did nothing to this area before the pic, obviously, or I would have moved that laundry basket full of - DIRTY DISHES! Shhhhh! Don't tell anyone! OK, so I really don't care that you all know. I was trying to clean up in a hurry last week (or was it the week before....) and I happened to have an empty laundry basket around (weird, I know) and so I used that to clear the clutter and just haven't managed to get around to finishing them off. I take things out of it as I need them. Maybe I should just get rid of all of it..... like the whole laundry thing. There's a thought. But I do want to point out that I finally took the Christmas cards down off the wall - OK, so I did that just today, but still, it's done.
Here is what I DID get done this week. I got the kids room totally clean - I fixed the dresser rails (we've had the parts for a while) so the kids can actually open and close them - nice. And I did weed out a little more laundry. Their room is so hard to take a picture of but I think you get the idea - the fact that you can see the floor is enough to make me shout for joy.
Behind the door there along the wall is a plastic shelf that holds the toys and the dresser that is now functional. They take up all the room from the door to the wall.

If you turn immediately left in the door this is what you see. And then just to the left of the big wheel is the cupboard under the stairs. Not too bad for a Monday night - and they've been inside most of the day since it's been cold (ok, like 60 degrees, but that's cold when you live in paradise) and rainy.

As for my future endeavours, well this week I'm hoping to work on organizing my school work. I'm always saving it for the last minute. And while I work really well under pressure, I'm just getting too old, and have too many responsibilities during the day-time to pull all-nighters. I did one last week and it just about killed me. Luckily Cameron took pity on me and let me crash right after I turned my assignment (and forced myself to stay at least in a delirious stupor during class - you should see my notes!) and let me sleep for a good 5 hours. He woke me up so that I would be able to get back to sleep that night, because I had to wake up the next morning for jogging class to make up the 5k I missed. OK, totally getting off track here. I'm going to try to work on the big projects (I have at least 3 more I can think of...) as I go so that I don't have to go through that again. Though I'll probably still have to stay up late the night before it's due, but I can handle that. Along those organizing lines - Cameron and I just upgraded our cell phones. We got a fabulous deal and both chose to get a PDA-type dealio. I'm sure I'll never use all the features on it, and it will take a little adjusting to get used to it in my pocket, but I think it will really help me to keep everything in one place. And the ones that we are getting run off a windows OS so it's easy to sync up with the computer. I'm excited. Though we have to be patient, it will be a couple of weeks until they get in.

Alright, I should go - oh wait, one last pic. Last week (or was it the week before?) Abby and I made soft pretzels for a school project she had to do on her ancestors. It was fun, though not as much as when the family is all together and grandpa does all the work! BUT I decided to skip the controversial lye step - my bro-in-law should appreciate this. The reasons are 3 fold: 1. I've always thought it was a little weird, and dangerous, to be dipping food in a caustic substance, no matter how diluted (but them I do drink Coke occasionally....hm), 2. I really didn't want to have to do this laborious step, I had enough on my plate for that day, and 3. my hardware store doesn't carry lye, so.... Well, I did a little research online and found that most pretzel recipes now-a-days (we were working off the old family recipe here) call for a bath in boiling water or baking soda and water - and some didn't even do the boiling part - so that's what I chose. And it worked great, as you can see. I think they look exactly like my dad's and I got to skip the whole bees wax on the pan thing - which I didn't really want to get into anyway (see reason #2 above).

(Sorry, I forgot to take the pic before I packed them all up.) I had some rising issues - mostly me being impatient and not wanting to have to roll out all the pretzels myself and then bake them in the middle of the night. But they still tasted so good. Made me wish I had a gallon of good apple cider to go with them. And though we rolled as many as we needed for Abby's class (I think we made 32 all together), we still had a little less than half the dough left, so I stuck it in the fridge and a couple days later used it for pizza dough. It was yummy that way, too.

OK, now I have to get the kiddos to bed and then re-read this to make sure it sounds alright and that I didn't use any horrible grammar, spell check it, you know the drill.....

Monday, March 2, 2009

Simply Monday

This week's episode of Simply Monday will not be appearing due to a rather large and imporant assignment that is due on Wednesday. We do however fully expect this feature to be back up and running by next Monday, March 9th, so please tune in then - same bat-time, same bat-channel.

Sorry for any inconvenience, or disappointment, this may have caused.

Thank You