Thursday, April 30, 2015

Homemade Cinnamon Swirl Bagels

I made bagels yesterday.  I know, I know, they weren't on the list, but when the inspiration strikes, I just gotta bake.  Does it make you feel any better to know that I also made granola and granola bars yesterday, which were on the list?

A few days ago, MC discovered that we had cinnamon raisin bagels.  Apparently, he didn't know, and it's my fault for not telling him.  Silly me.  I thought he could tell that we had bagels by the presence of bagels in our kitchen.  Concurrent with MC's discovery of the bagels was Bubby's discovery of the bagels.  But Bubby doesn't like raisins, so he wondered why I never buy bagels that are just plain cinnamon.

First of all, I don't never buy bagels that are just plain cinnamon--it's just rare.  Second of all, Aldi does not carry bagels that are just plain cinnamon.  Third of all, the regular grocery store charges too much for rings of flour and yeast that have been boiled and then baked.

So that's why I decided to make cinnamon swirl bagels yesterday.

Bagels are actually pretty easy to make, and just a little more time consuming than regular bread.  It does make me wonder why someone decided it would be a good idea to boil this particular bread before baking it.  Was it a happy accident?  The bagels fell into a pot of boiling water, and the baker decided to go ahead and bake them anyway?  Or was it a planned occurrence?  And if it was planned, why would they think to do such a thing?

In any case, they're easy to make--don't let the extra step intimidate you--and they taste good, too (better than store-bought, according to independent taster AKD).  And, of course, there's the added benefit of no preservatives or unpronounceable ingredients, and the price can't be beat.

I used this recipe from A Kitchen Addiction, with a few modifications*.  The addition of cinnamon to the dough made it smell heavenly as I was kneading, and the cinnamon sugar adds a dash of sweetness swirled throughout.


The children have already eaten the best looking ones, but these taste just as good!

Your turn: have you ever made bagels?  How'd they turn out?

* My modifications:

  • I didn't have bread flour, so I used white whole wheat flour with vital wheat gluten mixed in--1 teaspoon gluten to 1 c. flour
  • I don't have a stand mixer, so I used a hand mixer for the initial mixing, stirred in the additional flour by hand, and kneaded by hand--it smelled so good!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bubby's going on a field trip to the zoo.

I remember when 7 year old MC went on this field trip to the zoo.  The zoo had a butterfly pavilion at the time, with hundreds of butterflies flitting about, which the kids were planning to walk through.  I wasn't able to go along on the trip, but I remember warning Mrs. W that MC was extremely likely to freak out.  I knew this, because we had been to the zoo a few weeks prior, and MC flat-out refused to go inside the butterfly pavilion.  She promised to keep him close, and I think she said he did fine, but I wonder if she was just saying that to make me feel better about not being able to be there.  She's considerate like that (love her.  I really do).

In November, I went with 11 year old MC and his 6th grade classmates to the science museum, where there was another butterfly exhibit.  Turns out my kid is not the only one who freaks out in the presence of hundreds of winged insects flitting about in an enclosed space.

This morning Bubby was telling me about the upcoming field trip, and he mentioned that they were going to see walking sticks, if they could find any.

Now, in case you're thinking to yourself, "walking sticks?  Why would they go to a zoo to see walking sticks?  Wouldn't a hiking trail be a better location for that?  And why do they want to see walking sticks, anyway?  What's educational about walking sticks?"

Let me reassure you that he was talking about the 6-legged, 3 body-parted creature that looks a little something like this:

Walking Stick Photo
{Walking Stick courtesy of 10 Degrees Above}
The field trip includes a class about insects.

I asked Bubby if he had ever seen a walking stick, and he replied that yes, he had, in books. It makes me sad that Bubby has never seen an actual walking stick, because they're really pretty cool.  When we lived in West Virginia, they were everywhere.  "Like, you were surrounded?" he asked.  Yes, that about covers it. 

Then I told him that once, I saw a praying mantis eating a walking stick.  In my flower pot.  By the way, is it praying, because they look like they're praying, or preying because they use those modified front legs to prey on their food?  It's a clever little play on words, there.  Mantises were much less common, but also very cool to see.
{Praying mantis courtesy of Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo}
From there, we went off to predator and prey relationships, and since we were in West Virginia with the walking sticks, I told Bubby about the time I saw a rattle snake eating a frog in our back yard.  Yeah.  About 20 feet from the back door.  At the time, it was traumatizing because the snake had captured one leg and the back end of the frog, so his head and 3 legs were sticking out and the poor little guy was croaking despairingly, and trying to hop away.  And yes, I did spend a few minutes trying to think of a way to rescue the frog before I realized, um, that's a poisonous snake there, and if you mess with her food, she's not going to be happy.  Also, the frog was going to die, either way.

This morning, as I was recounting the story to Bubby, it struck me just how close that poisonous snake was to our house, and how not freaked out I was by having poisonous snakes near my children.  What?  How was I able to maintain calm in an environment that contained poisonous rattle snakes and copperheads?  Like seriously.  I'm not exactly sure how I was ever able to let my children out of my sight.  Maybe I didn't.  Maybe that's why I was (and still am) so tired.

{Itty bitty AKD sitting, oh, about 5 feet from where the snake eats frog incident occurred.
Not at the same time.}
This morning, Bubby informed me that the snake should have eaten that frog head first, so the frog couldn't see what was coming.  It's, like, the first rule of predation or something.  Every predator should know that.

In conclusion, there is no conclusion, just a pleasant walk down memory lane that includes life and death and poison.  You know, the usual :)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Menu plan for the week of April 27

Soccer has started up for our middlest kiddo.  As I was planning meals for this week, I realized we're going to have to start getting creative with our meal times and methods again: eating in shifts, portable meals, having meals ready when we're ready for them without a lot of prep time.  It's all good.  I'm remaining calm.  That is, until next week, when sports start up for the other two (soccer for one, mountain biking for the other).

In the meantime, here's what's on the menu this week:

chicken-fajita-quesadillas-4
{Chicken Fajita Quesadillas, courtesy of Jo Cooks}
Supper:
  • Slow Cooker Hawaiian Chicken *(yes, this is a carry-over from last week), brown rice, mixed veggies
  • Crock Pot Lasagna Soup, salad
  • Chicken fajita quesadillas ** (not sure how I'm going to hold these together for my cheese-haters, so theirs might be just plain fajitas instead of quesadillas), raw veggies
  • Wild rice/beef burgers (haven't decided yet if I want to make these separately, or mix them--I'm thinking mix, because I will only have 1 pound of ground beef to devote to this meal (more coming next week, courtesy of Zaycon Fresh).  Given the choice, everyone would choose beef over wild rice, and 1 pound of beef is not enough for 2 adults, 1 teenage boy, 1 tween boy, and 1 boy), buns or greens, caramel apple salad, corn
  • Grilled French bread pizza or chicken pizza (also a carry-over from last week.  I took Sawblock on a date, and the kids decided to have nachos instead), salad
  • Grilled marinated pork chops, grilled green veggie, grilled potato planks
  • Grilled bone-in chicken breasts, mashed potatoes, grilled green veggie
Next Monday Supper:

Snacks, breakfast, other:

{Better than store bought chewy granola bars in any flavor,
courtesy of My Humble Kitchen}
What are you eating this week?

* Easily eaten in shifts
** Portable

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The No More Excuses Diet: A Review



Uh huh.  Another diet book.  Weight loss is a huge industry in the United States.  According to the Boston Medical Center, approximately 45 million Americans diet each year and spend $33 billion on weight-loss products.  So why should you spend your money on yet another diet book?

Here's the deal.  We all know how to lose weight.  To lose weight, you need to eat reasonable amounts of real food, and move more.  That's it.  You do that, and you will lose weight and be healthier.  The trouble most of us have is in finding and keeping our motivation long enough to see results.

Maria Kang has had a life-long struggle with unhealthy habits, and is the woman behind noexcusemom.com.  Having overcome her struggles, now she's sharing her wisdom in The No More Excuses Diet, published in March.

Ms. Kang says it takes 3 days of concerted effort to bust through an excuse, 3 weeks to form new habits, and 3 months to make a lasting change in your life, so she suggests setting healthy goals in 3 week increments.

What I liked about The No More Excuses Diet is that the author admits right up front that weight loss is not a one size fits all proposition.  Ms. Kang says that what worked for her might not work for you.  She gives sample meal plans and some example workouts, but says you should do what works for you.  She emphasizes setting goals and then constantly reevaluating what's working and not working.  This is not a rigid set of rules to follow, but a method to bust through the excuses that are holding you back from reaching your goals and dreams.

I also liked that Ms. Kang acknowleges there will be setbacks, and encourages her readers to accept the mistake or failure and then learn from that mistake moving forward, rather than dwelling on it and allowing on little mistake to derail your entire journey.  It's not about perfection--it's about constantly moving forward, a little better today than yesterday.

I found this book to be incredibly inspiring, and while it's about getting healthy, the no excuses concept can work in any area of your life.

Here's what the book jacket has to say about Ms. Kang's motivation:
The No More Excuses Diet is not about making you feel guilty for how you look, or ashamed of the choices you've made; it is about getting you to a place where you feel in control of your life, love your body, and prioritize your health.
I think, in this book, Ms. Kang has accomplished her mission.

I received this book for free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review.

The Second Step

I have heard, many, many, many times, that the first step in recovery from addiction is to admit that you have a problem.  In other words, you need to be honest with yourself.

But I don't know that I've ever heard what the 2nd step is.  Why is that?  Why do we never hear about the second step?

Is it because the first step is too hard?  We never get to the second step because we never actually make it past the first?  Is it because we don't care?  Is it because we don't want to go there?  I don't know, but I thought it was time to correct this glaring oversight, because we can admit that we have a problem until we're blue in the face, but we still have a problem.  The first step is just that, the first step.  In order to move forward, we have to take more than one step.

The Alcoholics Anonymous second step, which many other addiction recovery groups have adopted, is this: 
We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

In other words, the second step is hope.  We must have hope that we can be delivered from the prison of our addiction.

I love this graphic (click for free printable), that shows the 12 steps of recovery, boiled down to its essence.
{Source}

The Story For Kids: A Review


I recently received a copy of The Story For Kids: Discover the Bible From Beginning to End.  This book has actual Bible text taken from the New International Reader's Version (NIrV), and arranged in chronological order, with transitions that were written to help link parts of the Bible together so it's easier to understand.  The NIrV is an easy to understand translation of the Bible, and The Story for Kids is appropriate for children aged 8-12, as well as older kids and adults who have a hard time following the narrative of the Bible and understanding its meaning.

I'm really liking this book.  It is easy to understand, and covers all of the major stories and themes of the Bible, while engaging the reader and holding the reader's interest.  The Story for Kids reads like a novel.

There are 31 chapters, beginning with "The Beginning of Life as We Know It," and concluding with "Revelation."  The longest chapter is 12 pages, and the shortest is 3, but most of the chapters are in the 7-9 page range.  At the end of each chapter are a few discussion questions.

I've been reading The Story for Kids out loud for our family's after supper devotions.  The discussion questions have been helpful for starting conversations with my children, and drawing connections between our lives and the text, and we are often finding ourselves lingering a bit longer after our meal to talk, something that did not happen with the previous devotional book we'd been using.  I like that the transitions are written in italics, so I can easily tell what is actual text from the Bible, and what is additional material.

I wish that the chapters were much shorter, more like Bible chapters, so that we could read one chapter after supper each day, instead of trying to find a good stopping point each day and taking a week or so to finish each chapter.  The Story for Kids is not intended to be a devotional book, though, so I really can't complain.

Bottom line: This is an easy to read resource that will get kids (and adults) interested and engaged in the overarching story of the Bible.

I received this book for free from the publisher through Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Recipes to Share

I love trying new recipes.  You must know this about me, if you've been reading for any length of time, especially since I started my weekly menu posts.  I mean, we have tried and true favorites that show up time and again, but there is usually at least one new recipe each week.  Sometimes, I try a new recipe every day in a week.

I've been thinking, the last few days, about why I like trying new recipes so much.  Is it because I get bored easily?  Is it because I enjoy change, but only "safe" change, over which I have control?  Is it because I'm worried that there's something better out there?  That I'm missing out on something incredible?  Is it because I want to expose my kids to a variety of healthy foods?  Maybe all of the above.

In the past week, I've tried a few new recipes that I have absolutely loved, so I wanted to share them with you.

First up, Pizza-Stuffed Pasta Shells from Pillsbury.  What I liked about this recipe was that it was a stuffed pasta that didn't include cheese in the filling.  I love stuffed pasta, and my very favorite, which I haven't had in, oh...10 years or so...is manicotti, stuffed with ground beef and mozarella, parmasan, and cottage cheeses.  Y'all know how my family feels about cheese.  Two of those weirdos claim to not like it.

Anyway, these shells are stuffed with a mixture of ground beef, chopped pepperoni, and pizza sauce, with the cheese on top.  Perfect.  I loved it, and 3/4 of the boys liked it, too.  AKD told me he likes this better than pizza casserole, and I think I probably do, too.

To cut down on the prep time a bit, use medium or small shells instead of the jumbo shells, and just mix everything together instead of stuffing.  To make this a bit healthier, use whole wheat pasta, ground turkey, turkey pepperoni, and homemade pizza sauce (my recipe below).

Next, I tried Herbed Chicken with Wild Rice from Taste of Home.  I love chicken.  I love wild rice.  I love herbs.  Put 'em together and cook 'em in the slow cooker, and I'm there.  I loved the mixture of flavors and this dish's hearty, stick-to-the-ribs consistency.  So good, and the leftovers were great, too.

To make this dish a little less preservative-y, make your own rice mixture, perhaps using the copycat recipe here for inspiration.  I would put the long grain (or brown) and wild rice in the bottom of the cooker, then stir the spices in to the soup mixture.  You could also make your own cream of chicken soup using this recipe.

Finally, yesterday I tried this Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad, and it tasted amazing.  Ah. Maze. Zing.   Seriously, where has this deliciousness been all my life?  I am in love.  I used chicken that I had previously cooked in the slow cooker, shredded, and frozen in 2 cup portions, and I mashed the avocado instead of dicing it.  Next time, and there will be a next time, I'm planning to use all Greek yogurt instead of half mayo, half yogurt.  I don't think it'll affect the taste all that much, but it will significantly cut down on the fat content.

That's it for now.  Let me know if you try any of these!


Scarlet's Homemade Pizza Sauce

  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 t. oregano
  • 1 t. basil
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. marjoram
  • 1/4 t. black pepper
  • 1 t. granulated sugar
  • 1-2 shakes of crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a non-reactive bowl.
  2. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, to allow the seasonings to mingle--the longer it sits, the better it tastes.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Menu plan for the week of April 20

KIND bars are on sale at Target this week.  They cost $4.99 for a package of 4.  KIND bars do taste all kinds of amazing, but that's a little steep for my budget (you can get a pack of 5 KIND Healthy Grains bars for $2.99--but those have more than nuts, fruits, and honey in them.  Grains are, in general, less expensive than nuts and fruits).  So yup, I'm making my own this week.  I'm making other stuff this week, too.  Here's what's on the menu this week:


Supper:
--Pot luck supper
--Slow cooked taco meatloaf (from this book), corn, salad
--Coconut lime chicken, rice, broccoli/cauliflower/carrots
--Taco pasta bake, salad, green beans
--French bread pizza/ chicken-crust pizza, salad
--Slow cooker Hawaiian chicken, rice, carrots, peppers
--Baked bone-in chicken breasts, baked potatoes, mixed veggies

Next Monday:
--Hot dogs, brats, buns, raw veggies (snap peas, carrots, peppers, celery), caramel apple salad

Other:
--Best ever chocolate oatmeal no bake bars
--Mock KIND bars
--Ezekiel bread
--Healthy avocado chicken salad
--Snickerdoodles

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Individual serving no-bake quiche


Y'all know that I eat oatmeal for breakfast pretty much every day.  What y'all might not know is that I used to not like oatmeal.  It started as an experiment to see if I could replicate the flavor of my son's favorite variety of instant oatmeal.  I developed my recipe through rigorous scientific testing over a period of weeks, and by the time I was done, I had developed a taste for oatmeal.  It's easy, fast, tastes good, and is good for me--it's the perfect breakfast.

Lately, though, I've been having eggs for breakfast.  That started when I was caring for a friend's chickens for a couple of weeks.  I was having eggs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I still couldn't keep up with production.

Eggs have more protein than oatmeal, and they way I prepare them, less fat, too.  So I'm alternating.  If I feel like a high-quality carb breakfast, it's oatmeal.  If I feel like a high-quality protein breakfast, it's eggs.

I wanted to add even more high-quality protein to my eggs, so I started eating them with cottage cheese.  It was delicious.  Then, one fateful day, I decided to mix plain Greek yogurt into my eggs, before scrambling them, with my usual mushrooms, onions, and peppers.  It tasted just like quiche!  So creamy and delicous!  And quiche is ... so much better ... than scrambled eggs.

Here's how I make my own individual serving of no-bake "quiche."

Indivdual Serving No-Bake "Quiche"



Ingredients:
2 eggs or 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites
1/4 c. plain no-fat Greek yogurt
mix-ins, about 1/2 cup--my standards are mushrooms, bell peppers, and green onions, but I've added other veggies, like broccoli, zucchini, spinach, and tomatoes, and meats, like crumbled bacon or bulk turkey breakfast sausage.  You could also add a bit of cheese if you like.

Method:
  • Scramble the eggs.  Add Greek yogurt and whisk until well combined.
  • In a small pan, saute any veggies you'd like to be softer.  I saute my mushrooms and bell peppers, but not the green onions.
  • Mix veggies, meats, and cheese into the egg mixture.
  • In a non-stick pan, cook egg mixture as you would scrambled eggs until no longer runny.  Alternately, pour egg mixture into a greased mug.  Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or until set.
I enjoy mine with a piece of whole grain toast.

Nutrition information courtesy of  www.caloriecount.com/

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Swoop

I got a text message this morning from AKD, informing me that he had forgotten something, and asking if I could bring it to him at school.

How would you respond?

I don't remember this being a thing when I was in high school.  Asking a parent to bring a forgotten something to school required a trip to the office to make a phone call.  Most students I knew avoided the office at all costs, and furthermore, didn't want to bother, so we either remembered it, whatever it was, or we did without.  I don't recall ever calling my parents to bring a forgotten something to school.  If they remember differently, they can chime in.

These days, though, everybody, and their brother, has a cell phone.  Well, except for AKD, that is.  I'm pretty sure he's the only one in his entire school who doesn't.  My words--not his.  He's also one of only 3 high schoolers who still have to ride the bus (unless he wants to ride his bike, which we have told him he is welcome to do), but that's another post.

And because everybody has a cell phone, they can call or text a parent to bring a forgotten item to school.  Most of the moms I know will drop everything, at a moment's notice, to do so.  I have a little harder time doing that.

It's not that I mind, necessarily.  I am a stay at home mom specifically so that I can be available for my kids if they need me.  I wouldn't think twice to come running in an emergency situation, or even in some non-emergency situations.

It's not that I had other things planned for today (which I did).  It's not that I couldn't get to the school.  It's not that it costs about $2 and half an hour of my time to drop off something at the high school.

It's that I want him to be responsible for his own stuff, and to accept the consequences for his mistakes.  I feel like this is an important lesson for all kids, but it's especially crucial for young teens.  AKD has 3 more years of school and then he will be an adult: an adult who can vote, join the army, live on his own, get married, sign a legal contract.

Today, it was paper clips for a school project (what?  They don't have any paper clips over there that he can use?  The school's budget must be worse-off than I thought).  But in a few years, it could be forgetting to pay the electric bill or digging into debt.

I need my boys to know that mommy is not always going to be around to clean their bathroom, pick up their dirty clothes, and bail them out of trouble.  Mommy is not always going to be able to swoop in to the rescue.

Today, I decided to swoop.  Because I can.  And because I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times AKD has forgotten something he needed for school.  It's not a habit, and I don't expect it to become one.  I did, however, inform him that he would need to compensate me for my time by performing an extra chore.  Can't decide if I want him to mop or fold laundry.  Maybe I'll let him decide.

I don't even know if he got the darn paper clips, because I haven't heard from him since that first text this morning (he's texting on an old iPod, and it's spotty at best).  The class he needed them for started 35 minutes ago, so I hope so.

How do you respond when your kids forget something?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How to wake up to a clean kitchen

I'd like to be able to tell you that I'm blogging today via our newly installed fiber optic internet connection, but I can't.  Because I'm not.  The guy's here, so that's at least something, but I'm telling you, there have got to be more hoops.

For months, we have been waiting for this day, hoping and pining.  It's a little like the if onlys.  If only we had more income.  If only we had a bigger house (and a maid to clean the bigger house).  If only we had a newer vehicle.  If only Hubby didn't travel so much.  If only there was more time in a day.  If only I wasn't so darn tired all the time.  If only we had family nearby.  If only we had high speed unlimited internet.  Then, we would be happy.

The truth is, if we're not happy before any of those things, we won't be happy after.  With each passing day, week, month, our hopes for the internet have grown, until it's taken on almost mythic status.  The internet will save us!  If only.

I am afraid, my friends, that the internet won't be the be-all end-all that some of us around here are expecting it to be.  Sure, we'll be able to download music, games, and programs at home instead of waiting until the next trip to the library.  Sure, we'll be able to facetime with Daddy when he's out of town.  Sure we'll be able to watch YouTube videos at home.  But.  Always but.  Those things won't make us happy.

Speaking of but, that's not really what I wanted to talk about today.  I got an email this morning from Carisa of 1+1+1=1 inviting me to take part in a FREE 4-part mini-ecourse titled 4 Simple Steps to Stress-Free Homemaking.

I want to believe.  I really do.  Stress-Free homemaking?  Yes, please.  Sign me up.

(You can sign up, too.  Just click this link.  Did I mention it's free?  So why not?)

Here's what Carisa said about the course:


In this eCourse, you will learn:

▪ how to never get behind on laundry again, 
▪ how to wake up each day to a sparkling clean kitchen
▪ how to avoid the 5 ‘o’clock scramble with a super simple meal planning method, and 
▪ how to set yourself up for success with a quick nighttime routine

OK, here's the deal.  I signed up for the course, because it's free, and because I want to know what they're going to say.  But I already know how to never get behind on laundry.  I know how to wake up each day to a clean kitchen.  I know how to plan meals, and I know how to set myself up for success with a quick nighttime routine.

Here, I'll let you in on my homemaking secrets.  To never get behind on laundry, keep up with it.  To avoid the 5 o'clock scramble, plan ahead.  To set yourself up for success with a quick nighttime routine, follow your nighttime routine and set up the stuff you need for the following day.

Here's the big one.  The one you've been waiting for all your life.  The one that made you find this post and click on it.

How to wake up to a sparkling clean kitchen every day (in two easy steps):
Step 1: Clean the kitchen before you go to bed.  Every day.
Step 2: Wake up before everyone else so they don't have time to mess it up.

I know.  It's revolutionary, isn't it?  And it really works.  Try it.

Yup, I know it all.  I could make an eCourse.  What I don't know, however, is how to stay motivated in doing these things consistently, every day.  Because no matter how many times I do laundry, clean the kitchen, plan meals, or get ready for tomorrow today, I'm going to have to do it again.  And again.  And again.  And again.  Forever.  And that, my friends, is what I'm hoping will be the magic ingredient in this eCourse.  Because if only my house was consistently clean, then...

The first session's on laundry, by the way.  I haven't watched the video, because, hello, no watching videos at home--it takes too much data--but I have seen the worksheet.  And the secret to stress-free laundry is ... well, sign up and see :)

*****

Disclaimer: that is a referral link up there.  If a certain number of you sign up for this eCourse (available for free through April 23) through that link, I will get a discount on some other thing.  If even more of you sign up, I'll get something for free.  If a humungous number of you sign up through that link, I'll get something even more fabulous for free.  But I really don't care.  So sign up if you want, or don't if you don't want.  Could be fun.  Could even change your life.  Or not.  Did I mention that it's free?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Menu plan for the week of April 13

Tomorrow, we will be getting fiber optic internet.  At least that's what they tell us.  We find it a little hard to believe that Tuesday is actually the day.  I honestly won't believe it until I see it.

It's been a long process.  We've been waiting for a long time, since Mr. Obama took office.  Because, you know, he promised that he would get us high speed internet.  Yes, us specifically.  More recently, we've been waiting for almost a year, since the cable people told us they were coming to our area.  The cable's been in the ground from the road to our house since August.  August, people.  When that happened, we thought we were a week away.  We were wrong.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I was sitting on my bed, reading something, when I heard what sounded like a person on our roof.  Has that ever happened to you?  All of a sudden there's a random stranger on your roof?  Yeah.  Freaked me out, even though he wasn't really on the roof.

Last week, I was hopping into the shower, when I saw a man walk past the bathroom window.  Honestly, it would have been nice to get a little warning.  Like ring the doorbell, maybe?  Of course, since I was about to jump in the shower, I wouldn't have answered, but at least I would have known there was someone besides the squirrels and deer and me on the property.  Unless the deer have figured out how to ring the doorbell?

So yeah.  Supposedly, the hook-up to the inside of the house will happen on Tuesday.  And then there will probably be more hoops to jump through because after all this waiting, it can't really be that easy.  The wait can't really be over, without more pomp and circumstance.

For months, we have been saying, "when we get internet..."  It can't just be ... over.

I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, we will eat.  Here's what's on the menu this week.

Supper:

--Beef stroganoff, grean beans, corn, pear sauce
--Chicken bundles, salad, carrots
--Nachos, guacamole
--Pizza stuffed pasta shells, salad, broccoli/cauliflower/carrots
--Herbed chicken with wild rice, green beans
--Peppered steak with portobello mushrooms, grilled broccoli or asparagus, garlic toast
--Baked bone-in chicken breasts, baked potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots

Supper next Monday:

--Cub Scout dinner, for which I will make Italian bowtie pasta bake, chicken taco casserole, chocolate chip cookies, or cupcakes.

Other:

--Got any suggestions for me?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Dirty Floor Blessing

I may have mentioned a time or two that I really, really, (really) dislike sweeping.  Mostly because sweeping is a never-ending chore.  I feel like I'm never able to actually get everything when I sweep.  I do my best, but there's always some little something left behind, even, it seems, if I vacuum up my pile.  And then you know what happens.  The children.

Our floor is always dirty.  Even if I just swept.  Even if I just mopped.  Still dirty.

It bothers me.  I want to be able to sweep and mop and then look around and say, "there.  That's done."  And have it stay done, at least for a little while.  I want to be able to take pride in a job well done.

It is so discouraging to me that so much of my work is so easily undone.  I wonder, often, why I even bother.  Why do I even bother to clean the bathroom, make my bed, sweep the floor, wash the windows?  Oh wait, I don't wash the windows.  But I do think about washing the windows, and I do intend to wash the windows at some point in the unspecified future.  I even wrote it down once, so, you know, there's that.

It's hard to muster up enthusiasm for performing repetitive tasks without lasting effect.  So it was with a less than cheerful attitude that I set out to uncrunchify our floors this afternoon.  I wouldn't say I was grumpy or resentful, more like resigned to the inevitable and discouraged.  I don't think the cold gray sky was helping any, either.

My dirty floor is discouraging, but it is also a blessing.  That's what I kept telling myself as I was sweeping this afternoon, making wagers with myself about how long it'll be before I'm needing to sweep again (let's see--the first wave of kidlets will be home in about 20 minutes, so I predict ... about 21 minutes until new crumbs grace the floor).  It is so hard to see a dirty floor as a blessing, but here goes.

I am blessed to have a floor.  I am blessed to have a place to live that is warm and secure.
I am blessed to have food to nourish myself and my family.  In fact, we are extravagantly blessed with so much food that some of us are unconcerned about letting crumbs of all sizes fall to the floor.
I am blessed to live where I do, surrounded by trees and dirt.
I am blessed to have children who are active and love to be outside and also love to track in dirt and pine needles.

I have a choice.  I can choose to consider my challenges as a burden or a blessing.  Today, truthfully, they are both.  I'm working on it.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Menu plan for the week of April 6

Good morning, everyone!  It's April now.  I know how you all depend on me to tell you these things, 'cause it's not like you can look at a calendar or anything and know that.  So it's a good thing I'm here and getting this post up.  I'm all about service, to you, my readers, over here.

We're got a bit of excitement coming up this week.  First, there's the little matter of a national championship to settle (go Wisconsin).  We're making red popcorn in honor of the Badgers.  Sorry, Duke fans--I don't have any blue candy melts.  Also?  My almost-12-year-old would go just short of apoplectic if I showed up tonight with anything suggesting I might be ok with Duke winning.

Never heard of colored popcorn?  It's so easy.  Just pop some popcorn (I do mine like this--so easy), then melt candy melts in the color of your choice and pour the molten candy on top of the popcorn.  Toss to coat, spread on wax paper to cool, and sprinkle with decors if desired.  You can also mix in other fun stuff like rice or corn cereal squares (Chex, people!), pretzels, or m&ms, either before or after pouring the molten candy melts...whatever you have on hand and feel like mixing in.

Speaking of our almost 12-year-old, we'll be celebrating a birthday this week!  The birthday boy will be camping with his Scout buddies, so the cake will be appropriately camp-y.

Did I tell y'all I ordered ground beef from Zaycon Foods?  Yeah.  So I need to find space in my cute little freezer, which my favorite brother in law affectionately refers to as a "starter" freezer, for 40 pounds of 93/7 ground beef by May 9.  That's why I'm using several of our freezer meals this week (it has nothing at all to do with the fact that I really, really don't feel like cooking.  Nothing).

Here's what's on the menu this week:

Supper:
--Beef stroganoff, green beans, pear sauce
--Chicken bundles (from the freezer), salad, carrots
--Pizza casserole (from the freezer), broccoli/cauliflower/carrots
--Chicken casserole with mashed potato topping, applesauce
--Baked ziti (from the freezer), salad, green beans
--Camp meal
--Ring bologna, scalloped potatoes, corn, applesauce (Hubby's in charge of this one)

Next week supper:
--Spaghetti or zucchini noodles with meat sauce (from the freezer), garlic toast, broccoli/cauliflower/carrots

Other:
--Cupcakes
--Red popcorn
--Senate bean soup
--Greek yogurt
--Birthday cake

What's on your menu this week?
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