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cooking & recipes

Monthly Menu Plan: January

It’s time for another month of menu planning!

Rather than planning my family dinners night by night, or week by week, I’ve taken the habit of planning out one menu for an entire month. This makes my grocery shopping much easier since I’ve already decided what dinners I’ll be making, I only have to pick up the ingredients missing for that week and the very regular cast of breakfast and lunch foods.

And the looming nightly dinners are now much less intimidating. No longer having to stand in front of the refrigerator scratching my head, trying desperately to figure out something nutritious and delicious to make for dinner? Love that. And by doing this monthly rather than weekly, it leaves more time for life in the days in between. It isn’t rocket science, and thanks goes to Simple Mom who inspired me with this idea.

So here’s my menu for the month of January:

Week One

Monday: chicken strips, sweet potato fries & sweet corn
Tuesday: Fettuccine Alfredo w/ grilled chicken and Caesar salad
Wednesday: Hamburgers w/ choose your own sides
Thursday: *BBQ Chicken Teriyaki w/ mixed veggies & basmati rice
Friday: Grilled cheese & pepperoni w/ clam chowder
Saturday: Book Club – I’ll be out for dinner
Sunday: Swedish Meatballs

Week Two

Monday: Steak & Cheese Sandwiches
Tuesday: Spaghetti and meatballs w/ Texas toast & Caesar salad
Wednesday: *Beer Battered Fish w/ mashed potatoes & veggies
Thursday: *Orange Chicken w/ mixed veggies & basmati rice
Friday: Grilled cheese & pepperoni w/ chicken noodle soup
Saturday: Still haven’t decided – any ideas?
Sunday: Homemade spinach & Alfredo pizza

Week Three

Monday: *Beef toquitos w/ blue corn chips and salsa
Tuesday: ABC pasta w/ garlic and olive oil, with Caesar salad
Wednesday: Hot Dogs & Macaroni & Cheese
Thursday: *BBQ Chicken Teriyaki w/ mixed veggies & basmati rice
Friday: Grilled cheese & pepperoni w/ beef stew
Saturday: Meatball Subs / w provolone cheese
Sunday: Enchilada style Mexican pizza

Week Four

Monday: chicken strips, mashed potatoes & corn
Tuesday: *Gnocchi w/ marinara sauce, with texas toast & caesar salad
Wednesday: Mozechilli Casserole
Thursday: *Orange Chicken w/ mixed veggies & basmati rice
Friday: Grilled cheese & pepperoni w/ tomato soup
Saturday: GAME NIGHT homemade pizzas
Sunday: Make Your Own Burritos

* Trader Joe’s Freezer Food

That’s it for January! Remember, the most important part of this process is flexibility – make a plan, but  don’t get eaten up about it if you decide to switch things up – maybe your dinners for Wednesday and Thursday need to be switched for a week or you make plans at the last minute – that’s fine – this isn’t homework, so it shouldn’t feel like it – the whole goal is to make YOUR life easier! So have fun with it!

If you’re making a menu plan for the month of January be sure to leave a comment with a link to your post in the comments section below.

Categories
family fun

Monday Morning: And The Living’s Easy

That’s right folks, it’s time for Monday Morning with Karen @ Write From Karen – and yes, I’m well aware that it’s nearly 2 pm – no I wasn’t sleeping, I’ve been doing laundry all morning! Geez! Anyway, this week is all about hair, scratches, candy and agitation. How the four things relate, I couldn’t tell you, but I can tell you it looks like a fun set of questions. Remember, if you play along, to link up at Karen’s main post.

September 8th Questions Are:

1. Are you brunette? Blonde? Auburn? And is it natural? If you could pick any type of hair you wanted, the style and color, what would it be? (Can you link us to a picture?)

I have brown hair, and yes it’s very natural. I’ve gone through the whole “dying hair” stage – you know for most of high school and college, on the hunt for the Perfect Elusive Red. And I think I even found it at one point, but after awhile I got tired of hearing guys tell me that “redheads were so hot” like I kind of wanted to punch them because deep down, I knew I was a brunette. So sometime around college graduation, I dyed my hair as close to natural as I could, let it fade naturally (although I never noticed it do so, so I must have picked well) and I haven’t dyed it since.

So I wouldn’t really want a new color again but if I could have like amazing hair that listens and looks sleek and put together, that would be pretty terrific, although I would be less than willing to actually style it every morning so if that’s part of the package, then no thanks, but if for minimal effort I could look like this every day:

You know, I wouldn’t complain.

2. How did your car get that little scratch/dent? (Because let’s face it, we ALL have car stories, right? If, for some reason you don’t, tell us about how someone else’s car got that scratch/dent).

Most of my dents are from “Adventures in Parallel Parking,” and most happened in college, where I suspect nobody else knew how to Parallel Park either. I actually am unsure if I put the dents in or someone else did, but you can always find my car because the front and back license plates both look like someone tried to make my car a sandwich.

3. In your opinion, what is the worst-tasting candy? Now, what is the best-tasting candy? How often do you eat candy? Do you keep it around your house? Do you allow your children to eat very much candy?

Well those Harry Potter jelly beans that taste like vomit and pepper, I’d be all set without those. I also dislike black licorice and probably wouldn’t touch a chocolate covered bug of any kind with a ten foot poll. Candies that I do like often involve chocolate and peanut butter. I also really love cookie dough bites (chocolate covered cookie dough – my husband hates it but I’m in LOVE with them) and Jelly Belly jelly beans. I don’t eat candy very often, mostly just at the movies and once in awhile when we decide to try and play “going to the movies at home” and eat popcorn and candy and the like instead of our usual suspects. I almost never give my son candy because he’s two. But it’s happened, we just try to limit it as much as possible. No need to unleash his sweet tooth prematurely (more so anyway).

4. Are you easily agitated? What really makes your temper soar? Do you stay angry for a long time? Or do you get over it pretty fast?

Sometimes yes. When I’m feeling irritable it seems anything will set me off – you can ask my son and his little bestie, on a bad day I will yell at them for just about anything. But other times you know you just hit that stride where everything just sort of rolls off your back. Those days are nice. Things that really upset me – anyone doing anything that could hurt my child, ignorance, people being unaccepting of other people. I try very hard not to stay angry for long – sometimes I stew for awhile and feel kind of awkward like “how can I go back to being happy after such a big fit?” That’s the hardest part is the transition really.

Alrighty, that’s all for now folks. Hope you enjoyed it. 🙂

Categories
family fun

A Month of Menu Planning: September

So not only is it Monday, the start of the week, but it’s also September 1, the start of the month. That means a few things: Rent is due, vacation is in FOUR days, and it’s time to put up my menu plan for the month of September.

I’ve made a few revisions since my first attempt at this whole menu planning thing, deciding some things were too heavy or time consuming to plan to do every week, and other things needed a whole night of their own. All of my “themes” are totally just a starting point, and not set in stone – because this is supposed to make planning my dinners easier not mundane, boring and restrictive.

So here’s my menu plan for September:

The Themes

Mondays: freezer food-ish
Tuesdays: italian night
Wednesdays: all american meal
Thursdays: stir fry / skillet meal
Fridays: soup & sandwich
Saturdays: pizza night / mexican night
Sundays: something easy & preferably light

Week One

Monday: LABOR DAY Brie wrapped in filo dough w/ cherry preserves and fresh fruit
Tuesday: Spaghetti & Meatballs
Wednesday: Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup sounds heavenly
Thursday: Orange Chicken w/ basmati rice & Asian veggies
Friday: We’ll be on Vacation until…

Week Two

Monday: Beer-battered fish, French Fries & Caesar Salad
Tuesday: Gnocchi, Red Sauce w/ Ground Beef, Garlic Bread
Wednesday: Chicken Strips, mashed potatoes & corn on the cob
Thursday: Trader Joes Chicken BBQ Teriyaki, Asian Veggies, Basmati Rice
Friday: grilled cheese & chili
Saturday: Build Your Own Soft Taco / Burrito Night
Sunday: Chicken Pot Pie (Mrs Budds)

Week Three

Monday: chicken strips, mashed potatoes & corn on the cob
Tuesday: Multi-Colored Spiral Pasta (w/ garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese), Caesar salad & a peasant bread
Wednesday: Hot Dogs, Mac’N’Cheese, Baked Beans (the magical fruit)
Thursday: Orange Chicken w/ basmati rice & Asian veggies
Friday: grilled cheese & Italian Wedding soup
Saturday: Spinach and Feta Pizza perhaps?
Sunday: Mexican Pizza Enchilada Style

Week Four

Monday: Frozen Pizzas w/ frozen apps
Tuesday: fettuccine Alfredo, broccoli, grilled chicken
Wednesday: Hamburgers w/ build your own sides
Thursday: Trader Joes BBQ Teriyaki chicken, Asian veggies, basmati rice
Friday: Grilled Cheese & clam chowder
Saturday: It’s Game Night at Chez Momma, so we’ll do a cheese pizza, pepperoni pizza and two spinach feta pizzas and maybe some homemade breadsticks, too? I might even make a dessert (maybe)
Sunday: Brie wrapped in filo dough w/ cherry preserves and fresh fruit

Week Five

Monday: steak and cheese sandwiches, Caesar salads
Tuesday: Swedish meatballs & pasta
Wednesday: FIRST DAY OF OCTOBER, beer battered fish, mased potatoes & crinkle cut carrots
Thursday: Orange Chicken, Asian veggies, and basmati rice
Friday: Grilled Cheese & chicken noodle soup
Saturday: fried chicken, potato wedges & corn on the cob
Sunday: Build Your Own Burritos

Huge thanks to Simple Mom who inspired me with this whole menu planning idea in the first place!

What’s on your menu plan this month?

Categories
family fun

Monday Morning in the Afternoon

Well, since PackRat has decided it hates me and doesn’t WANT to hook a sister up with some swim fins or sandals, I thought I’d post Karen @ Write From Karen‘s Monday Morning meme – it looks to be a good one. I didn’t think I’d have time to post again today but we decided to nix going out again and just relax for a bit, and now MM is napping and PackRat is being a jerk, so let’s get this party started, shall we?

September 1st Questions:

1. If you mixed up the letters in the name of your blog, what new name would you come up with? (Anagram fun website – http://wordsmith.org/anagram/) Now take your favorite anagram and tell us what sort of blog it might be based on that title.

There were quite a few good ones, like Bag Slam Tool Mom, Mama Mobs Go Toll, Atlas Mob Log Mom (this one is my favorite), Llama Sob Got Mom, Saga Mob Toll Mom… and yes I’m noticing a theme – I’m guessing anyway you go I become a Mob Mom perhaps in an Atlas Mob – like they steal atlases maybe? or sob over llamas. It’s an ugly world out there in anagram land.

2. What three sounds do you love? Okay, now tell us WHY you love these sounds.

I love the sound of my son’s laughter, really his voice in general. It’s amazing to think that little man, who is so funny and smart and absolutely heart wrenchingly loveable, came from me – that I made that. That was me.

I also love opera music, like in Phantom of the Opera – just that deep dramatic echoing of feeling that you hear in a lot of those songs, it’s like they are daring you to try not to feel what they are feeling – and know you will fail if you try. I love any song that just immediately sucks you into their emotions like that. It’s amazing.

I love the sound of a cat purring – you know it means they are oh so happy and content. Growing up we always had a cat in the house (I didn’t know I was allergic then) so I’ve always loved cats and obviously prefer they be happy than not. 🙂

3. What is it about you that makes everyone want to know you? Wait, you’re not done yet. Now tell us WHY that one particular thing? What makes that element of yourself so special? (Come on, don’t be shy. This is your opportunity to write about something positive about yourself).

Okay THIS is a hard question and I’m feeling all chicken shit, like I don’t want people to be like, “Actually Jen, I’ve never thought that about you.” Or, “Gosh, Jen, could you be more conceited.” Yes. I could be a lot more conceited, btw. But, um, I have noticed that people seem to find me funny and a lot of people never expect me to be as funny as I am (I’m not like saying I’m ape shit funny or anything, just that my level of funniness often seems to surprise people. I think I come across as awfully sweet and unassuming, but I have a very snarky sense of humor, often, and when I’m comfortable around people I often let that show, in addition to my stellar self deprecating humor and you know all that other funny shit I say.

Am I wrong?

4. What is the oldest thing you own? What is the newest?

The newest thing I own (this is easier to remember as I just bought it about 2 hours ago) is a brand spanking new CD player for my car. Our old one broke yesterday, much to our dismay since we’re going on vacation in FOUR days, but after getting nervous and complaining, we went to Circuit City, and realized a basic CD player is not as much as I would have guessed and that they have come a long way since 2003, when I last bought one. We got this amazing little Sony that has a cable hooked up for my iPod as well as an auxilary jack thing for any other kind of MP3 player and you know all that other cool stuff. It’s way nicer than the old one and the process of getting it was nearly painless, apart from that sudden lack of $200 once all was said and done. Good thing we’ve been cutting down our spending!

Let’s see, the oldest thing though?  Gosh, I’m not sure… Most of our furniture is very old, like at least as old as me, ditto with a lot of our plates and glasses, etc. A lot of those things we inherited from our parents, and since they are at least as old as we are, they must be the oldest things we own…

Hey, look at that, I finished! And while I was in the middle of picking my 3rd favorite sound, I found a swim fin over at PackRat and managed to vault a set! And you probably have no idea what that means, but trust me, it was exciting. 🙂 Don’t forget to link up at Write From Karen if you fill out this meme, too!

Categories
family fun

Monday Morning: Oh The Laziness Of Me

Welcome to the August 18th edition of Monday Morning by the formidable Karen of Write From Karen. You can expect to learn the fascinating secret revelations to such scintillating topics as: procrastination and me, a match made in heaven? ; just how clean is clean jen’s home ; unbelievable mad lib fun ; and just how late can a tired wife sleep? I know inquiring minds want to know, so let’s get to it!

August 18th Questions:

1. You have a huge final project that is due in six weeks. When will you actually begin it? In other words, are you the sort of person who gets things done right away, or do you wait until the last minute? Why is this?

I will start it like that night, but then get all cocky about my abilities and somehow blow it off until at least a week before it’s due, then scramble and embark in lots of late nights or one VERY late night and them grumble and mutter to myself a lot. But I’ll still do it remarkably well, cause I rock. Why? Because I thrive on deadlines and unknown levels of stress.

2. How often do you clean your house? (Be honest!) Do you think you’re a good housekeeper? Does your significant other think you’re a good housekeeper? Does your significant other ever thank you for cleaning house? No one likes to clean, but what is the one thing you don’t mind cleaning?

I do varying levels of cleaning on varying levels of time. On a daily basis I do the basics- dishes, picking up toys, organizing random things. Once a week I do laundry. Once in a blue moon I vacuum, mop or do a big overhaul of some kind. Anything I haven’t mentioned, I hope my husband is doing or that it doesn’t matter much. I’m a terrible housekeeper in most eyes I’d imagine, but we do fine. I think everything at least LOOKS clean… My husband never really complains so I must be doing okay. One chore I don’t mind doing – the laundry really as long as my son isn’t hanging by my ankles while I do it.

3. Fill in the blank: I can’t believe you all haven’t commented about the Shoop by Salt’n’Peppa video that I posted on my blog recently! Now tell us the story behind this sentence (WHY did you fill it in the way you did?)

Um because the video was awesome and everyone should think so! (total cop out, I had NOTHING clever to say for this one!)

4. Be honest, how many times do you hit the snooze button? What time do you get up during week days? What time do you typically get up on the weekends? Are you a good sleeper? If so, why? If not, why not?

(as stated on twitter this morning) i don’t use an alarm clock – just an annoying persistent husband. i’m up between 6:30-7:30 usually depending on the day…

Oh yeah, if you want to participate in the Monday Morning meme, don’t forget to link up over at Write From Karen.

Categories
family fun

Just Another Manic Monday

Got to be to work by nine
And if I had an air-o-plane
I still couldn’t make it on time
Just another Manic Monday

How would your friend describe you to someone who has never seen you? She’s that girl, you know the one – with shortish brown hair, glasses – looks a bit like a Daria, until she starts talking – okay, maybe even when she’s still talking – she’s that short girl married to that tall guy, the mother of that short cute two year old boy with the ridiculously blue eyes – no her eyes are brown I think – come on, I know you know who I mean – that girl!! (I think I’m memorable when you get to know me, but based solely on appearance I am the epitome of forgettable – it’s true)

Do you trust anyone to protect you? Who, and why? My husband and my father … and a good deal of my family and friends – I must rock because I can think of quite a few people who’d probably rush to protect me given the need. You guys rock!!!

If you died or went missing, who would miss you? Um well my son and husband, and all those people I mentioned in question two – gosh depressing much – and you, dear bloggy friends, will you miss me when I’m gone? Will you miss reading all of my memes and those one or two occasional posts of quality? You will, won’t you?

This meme was stolen from Fond of Snape, but apparently originated at Manic Monday the Blog – I know I already did a “Monday Meme” today, but this one looked fun, too, and is equally short, so I think you all can deal right? Besides – fun!!

Categories
reviews

Favorite Moments from Father’s Day Weekend

This weekend was a large, hectic, busy blur that left me more exhausted than the Friday I woke up to it. It began with a long overdue date night in which my husband and I went to see the new Indiana Jones movie and ended with me snuggled on the comfiest chair in the apartment watching the latest disc of Bones that we received via Netflix the day prior. Sounds pretty relaxed and cozy huh? Yeah I haven’t mentioned the whirlwind in the middle – a wedding in RI, the fastest grocery shopping trip of our lives, and the strangest Fathers Day I’ve ever had.

But I won’t bore you with my whining about things that went bad, no for this blog, I will focus on the really really good – my favorite moments from the weekend – I bet there were more than I realize as I type this.

These are in no particular order, at least not intentionally:

1. The yummiest salad I’ve ever had was enjoyed at Uno’s Chicago Grill – behold the GORGONZOLA WALNUT SIDE SALAD: Mixed lettuces, tomato, red onion,  cucumber, walnuts,  Gorgonzola and croutons with a blueberry pomegranate  vinaigrette drizzled on top. You know it’s a good meal when the entree comes and I don’t immediately abandon the salad that I was somehow possessed to order in spite of previous good judgment. This salad was delicious!

2. Finding that there were movies on this planet that my husband has seen and I have not. A serious strange anomaly that rarely occurs. I took dh to see the new Indiana Jones movie, in spite of never having seen the others (didn’t even know for sure how many there were) and found I loved it, and my husband demanded that I find a chance to watch the first three movies with him. I happily agreed and look forward to it. A lovely 40 % off coupon from Borders then magically gave us the perfect excuse to buy the box set for a steal of a price that very night. The coupon was one I’d read about a week before and forgotten about until 1 hour before it expired – what are the odds?

3. Chasing two adorable toddlers around the Fort Wetherill State Park in RI as one of my long time besties exchanged the vows of marriage on one of the most gorgeous days of the month. Perfect.

4. Seeing my father perform on stage for the first time (at least that I’m aware of) on Father’s Day – I was so proud of him and as a fringe benefit got to see an amazing musical and later meet the cast and crew of the Central Mass Onstage – a group my dad’s been doing behind the scenes work with for a while now and finally decided to take the plunge and audition for a show – and not just any show, but Seussical the Musical. I watched with my aunt (his big sister) and her family and we had a great time catching up and sharing in my dad’s big moment together. Again, way more on this later.

And that’s it. For once I won’t try to think up a 5th favorite moment just to make it an even list – these were the top of the crust for this weekend which will go down in history as a good one, an exhausting one, and a first in many ways.