Sunday, January 26, 2014

This week in the kitchen :)

My menu plan is a little late this week. We usually do our planning/grocery shopping on Saturday, but we were out of town. Better late than never, I suppose! I'm hoping that the cold and snow doesn't keep me from getting out tomorrow to get the groceries---I guess if it does, Joel will have to stop and get them for me. He's done that several times already this winter----he's awesome :)

1. Easy noodle stir fry ---This meal was Cosette's request, she really likes it. You can add chicken if you don't want it to be vegetarian, but we like it both ways.

2. Chicken and Black bean Enchilada casserole--We use flour tortillas for this, but just because none of us really care for corn tortillas. We'll have some kind of frozen veggie with this.

3. Omelette's and Rye Bread and fresh fruit. I don't have a link, sorry. One of the elders made this for us at the elder's retreat this past weekend, and I wanted to try to recreate it. I'll probably fail miserably, haha :) I DO know it was a bunch of veggies--peppers, onions, mushrooms, potatos, garlic---all stir-fryed, and then worked into the omelette. I'm probably missing some spices and stuff---I'll have to find out for sure some time :)

4. Lentils and Rice.  Yep, this again :) We loved it so much last week I decided to make it again. We'll have a garden salad and rolls with apple butter with this meal.

5. Salmon cakes, roasted ranch potatoes, creamed peas.

What are YOU eating this week? Leave me a comment---I always welcome new ideas!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My thoughts on Social Media :)

I have an incredibly busy end of the week coming up and probably won't have another chance to post, so since my younger kids are all still sleeping, I thought I'd take this quick opportunity to post a few things that have been on my mind about.......Facebook! :)

The other night, at a family dinner, we were all sitting around talking about Facebook--privacy settings, common courtesy, etc. It got me to thinking about several things that have been on my mind lately about Facebook!

Now, several years ago, I did not have a facebook account. My mom was constantly warning me about 'the evils of facebook', and to 'stay away from it', haha :) I did, for a long time.....but then, I was pregnant with Noah......and on bed rest......for weeks on end........and OH, so terribly bored! I read endless books, I tried to learn how to knit (complete failure!!!), I directed my household from my bed....and finally, one day, out of sheer boredom, I broke down and opened up a facebook account.

That was six years ago. Since then, I have been mostly glad that I did.....mostly ;) Facebook has it's benefits....but also it's negative sides!

On the positive side of Facebook?

1. Being able to keep up with relatives and friends.....far and near! My dad and his wife live....well, a very far way away! It's nice to be able to post pictures and videos of the kids for them to see. It makes us feel more a 'part' of each others lives. Even for relatives and loved ones who live close by that we don't get to see as often as we'd like, it's a great way to keep in touch!

2. The comic relief of it! Let's face it----life can get stressful! A whole day of not seeing another adult human being, teaching school to three kids, caring for FIVE kids, working through adoption applications and paper work, budgets to balance, bills to pay, laundry to do.......facebook can just be a welcome source of 'fun' :) I love posting hilarious things my kids have said or done, reading other peoples funny posts....seeing other peoples ways of finding beauty in their can be a real source of encouragement and fun.

3. The convenience of it. I really, really, really hate talking on the phone. I always have. I think I've probably mentioned that before ;)  It's probably mostly due to my ears----hearing aids work best in real life, NOT on the phone! It's hard for me to hear on the phone, and the aids whistle in my facebook is just a really great way of getting messages to people quickly and communicating in more 'comfortable' ways for me.

HOWEVER, even with those positive, there are a few things that concern me about facebook. Will you hear me out on them?

1. Inappropriate material. From pictures to 'facebook posters' to links to quotes to can all get pretty ugly out there folks! I made the mistake of leaving facebook open on my laptop the other day, and came back into the room to see Eli standing in front of the computer staring at a completely inappapropriate picture one of my friends had posted. *sigh* I generally use a simple rule of thumb when posting something. I ask myself this-----Would I be 'okay' with my Pastor seeing this? What about if my mom could still it? What about Joel's sweet Mennonite grandparents who I so loved and respected? Would I feel comfortable with these people seeing this? If the answer is NO......then I don't post it!!! Get some people whom you highly respect....and then use them as your 'rule of thumb' in deciding whether or not to post or not. I cringe when I see a fellow believer who just yesterday posted a 'Glory, Hallelujah' kind of post putting up something today about how much they hate their fellow man and really wish they would just bug off. REALLY?? Is that the best you can do to 'reflect Christ'? Use some common sense, folks, and remember that even on Facebook, your light is shining!! I'm not saying that we can't share concerns, prayer requests, or even just 'I had a really bad day' venting kind of things on Facebook. I'm just trying to encourage you to use discretion and care about what you post.

2. Young kids on facebook. I'm not talking about teenagers who have facebook accounts. I'm talking about younger children who are allowed to sit around and scroll through their parents facebook accounts on their phones or other devices. Even if all the material on Facebook WERE 'adult appropriate' and acceptable (which it is not!) stands to reason that even some things fine for adult eyes are NOT fine for children's eyes. I DO occassionally show my kids things on that I post of them, pictures of people I know they would appreciate seeing, etc.....but as a general rule, none of my kids are allowed to 'be on' facebook or look at things on there, and especially not without my supervision.....and probably won't be for several more years. Please use care how much you allow your younger children to be on this social media!

3. My third concern? Just the general time waster that it can be! And I am guilty of this one myself. You hop on facebook for 'just ten minutes' to check a few things, and before you know it, much more time has floated by! LIFE is happening, folks.........all around you! Nothing bugs me more than sitting at a table with someone having a conversation, and they pull out their phone to check Facebook. Really? Right now? Seriously? Be in the moment, folks....the REAL moment......and let Facebook wait until later :)

And that's my morning thoughts about Facebook! It can be a great tool----a tool of encouragement, ministry, outreach.......let's remember to use it as such! "Let your light so shine before men......." :)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

For the love of food :)

Here is this week's menu plan. It's a bit more simple than I sometimes put together. We have more than usual going on next week, and we won't be home a couple of evenings, so I needed fewer and easier meals than usual. But I try to still keep things healthy, even with a hot dog meal ;)

1. Oven baked lentils and brown rice. This was actually lunch for today. I added some cooked spinach and sliced baby carrots before baking, and then added  some cheese to the top of it at the end of baking time and it was nice and gooey. I would suggest a 350 oven temp. This was delicious! 

2. Crock pot turkey bolognese over whole wheat pasta, Olive Garden style salad, homemade garlic bread.

3. Cereal with fresh fruit. Yes, this is a DINNER for this week :) Joel and I have to be out the door a little after five one evening to go do a three hour foster/adopt class, so he suggested this quick and easy 'meal',  and I loved the idea. We got a big box of cheerios  and a big box of cinnamon crunch oat squares---we're gonna top it with strawberries, blueberries and bananas and call it dinner ;)

4. Loaded sweet potatoes---essentially, it's baked sweet potatoes topped with seasoned black beans, tomatoes, and cheese. It's quick and easy, and my family loves it. I'll probably serve some grapes and yogurt along with these.

5. Hot dogs (the nitrate free kind served on whole wheat rolls), creamed peas and cranberry sauce. I grew up in a house where cranberry sauce was a common side item; however, Joel usually only had it around Thanksgiving, so it's taken him a while to adjust to the idea of having it with meals like hot dogs ;)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ode to the Sandwich

Oh sandwich, sandwich, what a friend art thou,
As a tired mother sighs and wipes her brow
"There's no left-overs, no soup, no burritos to serve up"
So she turns to a sandwich, fruit, and milk in a cup

Two slices of bread filled with endless ways to please,
Will it be PB&J, turkey, hummus or cheese?

Slap on some Mayo and put it on a plate,
Add some veggies and dip and your lunch is just great!

But Wait! you may say, as the thought turns to dread,
What is the proper way to eat this lunch upon bread?

Well, you may pick it up and take bites, that is clear
But that is most boring and plain, I do fear

For a change one day, IF you're feeling brave,
Eat your crust FIRST, and the best part do save.

This next way of eating is popular among the small---
Take your sandwich apart, but don't smear it on the wall!
Instead, eat the insides and THEN eat the bread,
You'll look most intelligent and very well read :)

So next time you find a sandwich is packed in your lunch,
Eat the meat and cheese first---you'll like it a bunch! ;)

(Hey, a girl needs to let out her creativity SOME how ;)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

This week's menu

As promised, here is my weekly menu plan. Maybe this will become an every Saturday type of thing, since that's when I do my menu planning and grocery shopping. I'm dedicated to serving good, whole, 'real' food to my family----and on a budget too!------maybe I can do more posts on that in the future as well :) In the mean time, here's some new ideas for you!

1. BBQ chicken and cheese quesadillas, roasted broccoli, apple sauce. (We use whole wheat tortillas)
2. Inside out stuffed pepper casserole, salad, bread with homemade apple butter. (I recommend cooking the rice first for this recipe, mixing everything together and THEN baking it. If you put the rice in raw, it won't cook all the way)
3. Mexican veggies on corn bread, Baked beans.
4. Spinach Quiche, Turkey sausage, Fresh fruit, Orange Juice. (You can make your own whole wheat crust for this if you want)
5. Hot turkey ham and cheese sandwiches, Green beans, Cranberry sauce. We use whole wheat buns for this recipe and it turns out great.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

3 1/2 Days!

Years ago, when Cosette was a tiny baby, I would get Cabin Fever SO bad and SO quickly in the winter time. If I had to be home more than a day or two at a time, I would cry for mercy and head to my parents house for a change of scenery!

But now? Oh no. I relish multiple days at a time with nowhere to go. Maybe it's all the jackets and shoes and diaper bags that go along with going out anywhere. Maybe it's ALL the carseat buckles and booster seats that have to be fastened and unfastened every time you get out of the car. Although, these past couple of days, I'm pretty sure it was the -38 degree wind chill factor that was keeping me at home ;) 

So what do you do at home for 3 1/2 days with five little ones? Well, lots and lots of school work. We're getting back into the routine after Christmas break. Eli is working on conquering his Times Tables, Cosette is diving into fractions and decimals, and Noah is getting better at his reading every day.

We've also managed to squeeze in a few games of Dutch Blitz and Stare. Never heard of Stare? Google it---it's a fun game!

We've also had fun wearing new Christmas clothes
from Pappy Shaun and Suzanne.

And Noah, having discovered that he can actually READ
some of the words in books all by himself, is suddenly
very interested in curling up with his younger siblings
and reading to them. See? Melts my heart every time!

And this morning, when the older kids finished their
school work, I made a point of asking Leanna what
SHE would like to do with mommy. PAINT!!
She so sweetly sat out paper and paintbrushes and
water and paints for both of us, and we had SO
much fun sitting there and painting together. :)

Oh, and another great thing to do when stuck inside is EAT GOOD FOOD!!! And this brings me to my next point. I'm thinking of re-instating my weekly meal plans on here and sharing them with you all. Would anybody be interested in seeing them? Mention it in a comment if you are! I thought if nothing else, it might help to spark some ideas for you all. I know sometimes I just wish that somebody would tell me WHAT to cook :) So here are a few of the meals that we've been eating this week:

1. Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas.

2. Orange Teriyaki Salmon. This is a new one I'm anxious to try, but Our Best Bites very rarely fails to offer delicious recipes, so I bet it will be tasty!

4. Lazy Day Stew. Another one of our favorites that is so easy to throw in the crock pot and smell cooking all afternoon. I skip the lima beans and add a bag of frozen peas toward the end instead. Oh, and a few drops of Worcestershire sauce :)

Hope those give you some good ideas to throw into your meal rotations :) I hear the weather is supposed to be a little warmer tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to going out----anywhere!---probably the library :)

Monday, January 06, 2014

Something Beautiful

It's 5:30 a.m. My alarm goes off. (And by my alarm, I mean my husband gently nudging me and saying 'Time to get up'! He is SUCH a more gentle alarm than the traditional one going 'EEE EEE EEE' right in your ear!)

I groan and roll over. I haven't woken up this early since....well, early December, before Christmas break started.

However, today is the first day starting back to home-school for us, and I am determined to give it a good start! My goal is to eat my breakfast, have my Bible reading time, exercise, fix Joel's lunch and send him off to work, and take my shower----all before Cosette's alarm goes off at 7:00.

And as I stand in the shower at exactly 6:53 shampooing my hair, I congratulate myself on a good first morning. "A New Year....a fresh Start.....lots to anticipate.....''

And then, without warning, I hear my Mom's voice from several years ago. "Jaime, you've been going on 'high speed' now for about five years. College applications....finishing college in three an awesome guy.....engagement and a beautiful December wedding....and now you're expecting your first baby. Jaime, I really fear that some time, real life...plain, old, nasty, boring, real life, is going to slap you in the face, and it's going to deflate your balloon. I'm not trying to depress you....just prepare you for the inevitable to happen"

And as I rolled her words over in my mind, I wondered if she was right. But it's been almost ten years since that conversation, and my 'balloon' hasn't deflated yet. Life has had it's mundane, plain, boring times....but I don't feel like it's lost it's flavor.

But maybe you're not at that point right now. Maybe you're working a dead end job, surviving day to day....maybe your marriage lost it's beauty long ago....maybe you've been praying for that baby that just hasn't happened yet.....maybe you're trying to survive financially day to day. And you could God ever make anything new out of this? A fresh start? Hmmph....I stopped waiting for that a long time ago. Flavor in my life? It's been plain old vanilla for way too long......

But as I wondered about this too in my mind, I couldn't help but remember the words to one of my favorite songs:

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

The our lives....the everyday, plain, boring, 'real' life that my mom was talking about. And HE.....God....wants to make something beautiful out of it. He wants to take your deflated, popped balloon and breathe new life into it. Because that's how God works. He takes something that seems so mundane, so boring, so maybe your life?.....and He longs to make something beautiful out of it. And I think, taking my Mom's warning and adding caution and lot's of prayer.....maybe I've found the way to find beauty in the day to the dirty diapers, the clogged toilets, and yes, even the occasional baby throw up. 

So no matter WHERE you are starting this New Year, be on the God of all Hope, of all change, of ALL things beautiful......and give Him your life to make something beautiful :) 

A New Year....a fresh life breathed into my neglected blog? I hope so :) 


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