Monday, February 29, 2016

February 29

Are y'all on Facebook?  Do you ever check out your memories?  There are a couple of different apps that collect and display everything you've posted on Facebook on today's date in the past.  As you know, yesterday was leap day, February 29, and the last time there was a February 29 was in 2012.  I published a blog post that day, and it showed up in my Facebook memories yesterday.

In 2012, AKD was in 6th grade, MC was in 3rd, Bubby was in his first year of preschool, and Camp Scarlet was in full swing.

We don't have this mixing bowl anymore

On February 29, 2012, we made muffins and I told y'all about how I had completed my three item to-do list before noon, along with a bunch of other stuff.

So much has changed in those four years, and being reminded of that post yesterday made me think about where we'll be in another four years.  In four years, on the next leap day, AKD will likely be in college, MC will be in 11th grade, and Bubby will be in his first year of Middle School, and who knows what else will have changed, or what will be the same?

What did your life look like four years ago?  What will it look like four years from now?

Menu plan for the week of February 29

Happy leap day, y'all.  I kinda feel like I oughta have a leapy kind of theme this week, or at least today.  I don't.  I can't even think of anything leapy to put on the menu besides frog legs and bunny, neither of which I am willing to eat, let alone cook.  Do you think less of me now?  Can we still be friends?

Here's a little gift, since I failed so miserably on the celebrating leap day front.  It's a pun :)

hoppy leap day rebecca e. parsons
{Source}
And here's what's on the menu this week.

Supper:

  • Italian herbed chicken & mozzarella melts, grilled French bread, broccoli/cauliflower/carrots
  • Chicken taco casserole, green beans
  • BLTs (at Bubby's request, only his are going to be BBBTs--that's bacon, bacon, bacon, and toast), fresh fruit
  • Tacos, tortillas, taco toppings
  • Pizza or chicken pizza, salad
  • Grilled chicken salad, broccoli, grilled garlic bread
  • Out to eat


Other:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Chocolate Peanut Butter "Clif" Bars

Inspired by the success of my white chocolate macadamia nut "Clif" bars, I decided to try another of AKD's favorites, chocolate peanut butter.  In preparation, I tasted an actual Crunchy Peanut Butter Clif bar, and it was not good.  My best description would be that it tasted...institutional.  It certainly did not taste like peanut butter.  I'm really not sure why my boy likes these things so much, other than that they're portable and filling.  Anyway, I can definitely understand why AKD likes this version better.  It's so delicious.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bars
{Adapted from here}

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cups crisp rice, puffed millet, or puffed quinoa cereal
  • 2 c. quick oats
  • 1/4 c. ground flax seed
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter chips
  • 3/4 c. chocolate chips (divided use)
  • 1 c. honey
  • 1 c. peanut butter (I like to use crunchy, but creamy works)
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. chocolate or peanut butter chips
  • 1/2 t. butter or coconut oil

Instructions:
  1. In a large bowl, mix together crisp rice cereal, quick oats, flax seed, peanut butter chips, and 1/2 c. chocolate chips.  Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together honey, peanut butter, and 1/4 c. chocolate chips, just until melted and combined.  Stir in vanilla extract.
  3. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the cereal mixture and stir until well combined.*  Press mixture firmly and evenly into a greased or parchment lined 9x13 inch pan.**
  4. In a small microwave safe bowl or cup, melt 1/4 c. chocolate chips or peanut butter chips according to package instructions.  Add butter and stir until smooth.  Drizzle melted mixture over the top of the bars in the pan and refrigerate until firm.

* I pour the peanut butter mixture over the cereal mixture while it's still warm, which melts the white chocolate chips a bit.  If you want bigger chunks of white chocolate in your finished bars, wait until the peanut butter mixture cools to room temperature.

** I just spray my hands with cooking spray and use them to press the mixture into the pan.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hope Unfolding: A Review


Sometimes as Mamas, we just need hope.  We do our best every day, but we wonder if our best is good enough.  We feel like we've fallen woefully short.  On those days, or in those seasons, we need someone to turn our hearts to God and remind us that God has not forgotten about us.  In Hope Unfolding: Grace-Filled Truth for the Momma's Heart, author Becky Thompson of Scissortail Silk sets out to do just that.  The author uses a conversational style and personal anecdotes to point her readers to God and inspire hope in ten bite-sized chapters.

I enjoyed this book.  Sometimes all we Mamas need to is to know that we're not alone, and this book accomplishes just that.  We are not the only ones struggling with comparison, depression, or isolation, and God knows us and sees us and walks beside us.

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

Monday, February 22, 2016

Menu plan for the week of February 22

I'm not really in the mood for witty banter today.  I've been sick all week, and having everyone home on the weekend really wore me out.  And now Bubby's sick, too.  I had been planning on grocery shopping today, but I'm thinking that's not going to happen.  Luckily, we happen to have everything we need for pretty much everything that's on the menu this week, so if I don't get to the grocery store for a few days, I still won't have to change anything.

Of course, there's a very real possibility that I won't feel like cooking, but, for now, let's be optimistic.  Here's what's on the menu this week.

Supper:



Other:



Thursday, February 18, 2016

Homemade "Clif" Bars--White Chocolate Macadamia Nut

AKD is a teenage boy.  As you may or may not be aware, teenage boys are always hungry.  At least this one is.  So AKD takes snacks to school to tide him over between meals.  He likes Clif Bars, which we've been buying at Sam's Club.  But it's the same old story.  Store bought is expensive; I'd rather make my own.  AKD's favorite is white chocolate macadamia nut, and I've developed a recipe that doesn't quite taste like Clif bars--I think my homemade bars taste better; AKD doesn't think one is better than the other.  But they're delicious, and they're definitely cheaper.


White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Energy Bars
{Adapted from here}
{Click here to print this recipe}
Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cups crisp rice, puffed millet, or puffed quinoa cereal
  • 2 c. quick oats
  • 1/4 c. ground flax seed
  • 1/2 c. macadamia nuts or cashews, finely chopped
  • 1 c. white chocolate chips (divided use)
  • 1 c. honey or brown rice syrup
  • 1 c. peanut butter or almond butter
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t. coconut oil or butter
Instructions:
  1. In a large bowl, mix together crisp rice cereal, quick oats, flax seed, nuts, and 1/2 c. white chocolate chips.  Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together honey, peanut butter, and 1/4 c. white chocolate chips, just until melted and combined.  Stir in vanilla extract.
  3. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the cereal mixture and stir until well combined.*  Press mixture firmly and evenly into a greased or parchment lined 9x13 inch pan.**
  4. In a small microwave safe bowl or cup, melt remaining 1/4 c. white chocolate chips according to package instructions.  Add coconut oil and stir until smooth.  Drizzle white chocolate mixture over the top of the bars in the pan and refrigerate until firm.

* I pour the peanut butter mixture over the cereal mixture while it's still warm, which melts the white chocolate chips a bit.  If you want bigger chunks of white chocolate in your finished bars, wait until the peanut butter mixture cools to room temperature.

** I just spray my hands with cooking spray and use them to press the mixture into the pan.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Menu plan for the week of February 15

Did y'all know I have a recipe for Buckeyes on my blog?  Yes!  It's true!  My sis called the other day to ask me a question about it, and I was like, really?  I have a Buckeyes recipe on my blog?  Sure enough, I do.

(Do y'all know what Buckeyes are?  Like, I totally did not until I had been hanging out with my in-laws for a while, so it's OK if you don't know about Buckeyes.  I mean, most of you don't even know the Bluefields, let alone hang out with them.  If you don't know what Buckeyes are, though, you should find out, because they are so very delicious.)

I've been blogging since 2008, and apparently, the grasshoppers and turkeys made me do it.  I had no idea.  I thought my blog was an attempt at keeping far-flung family up to date about what's going on over here.  But no.  Grasshoppers and turkeys.  This post is my 1262nd published post.  So I guess it's OK that I've forgotten about one or two along the way.  Wow.  Just think about all the things you wouldn't know if I hadn't started blogging.

For instance, if I wasn't a blogger, you wouldn't know what's on the menu this week:

Supper:



Other:

Monday, February 8, 2016

40 Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Chole: A Review


As I mentioned a few days ago, I requested 40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast by Alicia Britt Chold for review.  It's the perfect book to work through Lent, so I'm excited it arrived in time for the beginning of Lent on Wednesday, and I would love it if you would join me for these 40 days.  

If you happen to have Amazon Prime, you could order it now and have it by Wednesday.  If not, the book is available in a Kindle edition--but here's the secret--you don't have to have a Kindle to read books intended for Kindle!  You can read them on your device or computer using the free Kindle app.

From the introduction:
40 Days of Decrease guides readers through a study of Jesus' uncommon and uncomfortable call to abandon the world's illusions, embrace His kingdom's realities, and journey cross-ward and beyond.  Designed to prepare our hearts for Easter ... each day of 40 Days of Decrease features a devotional based upon Jesus' life, guidance for reflection, suggested (and occasionally surprising) daily fasts, an inspiring quote for prayerful meditation, an optional ... sidebar chronicling the historical development, practices, and images of Lent, and a suggested Scripture reading with journaling space.

I've enjoyed flipping through the devotionals as Lent approaches.  There are 40 chapters, each with a devotion, question for reflection, suggested fast, scripture, and journaling space.  The fasts are varied and interesting.  Usually when I hear about people fasting during Lent, they will give up something for the entire 6 week time period.  Some of my friends add spiritual disciplines like prayer or meditation during Lent, but I've never heard of fasting from something different each day.  The author suggests fasting from such things as discontentment, leavened bread, isolation, tidy faith, fixing it, and even, on the last day, fasting from fasting.

The devotions and reflections are well written and thought provoking, and the historical facts are interesting.  Each chapter is artfully crafted to illuminate the scriptures and bring our hearts closer to Jesus.

Bottom line: This is a well written and thoughtful book designed to prepare its reader to experience the awe of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.

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

Menu plan for the week of February 8

Wanna know what surprised me last week?  It surprised me that the family liked chicken fajita pasta.  I mean, they like the flavors, but I was expecting them to not like the combination, because, well, they're weird like that.  Although, I suppose it's not that weird.  For instance, I like peanut butter, and I like coconut, but I do not like the combination of peanut butter and coconut.

Anyway, they liked it, even the ones who went into the meal fully expecting not to.  MC even had seconds, my friends, which is some kind of miracle.

If my recipe success makes you want to try it, you should know that I thought it was pretty mild, but AKD thought the chicken fajita pasta was spicy.  If your family is not a fan of spicy, you could always just use regular tomatoes instead of ro-tel, and use less (or less spicy) taco seasoning.

I'm not expecting any surprises this week.  But then again, if I was expecting them, they wouldn't be surprises, would they?  Here's what's on the menu this week:

Supper:



Other:

Friday, February 5, 2016

Things that happened

 Did I ever tell you about the time my sister in law and my favorite brother in law and their kids drove 500 miles to see us and we abandoned them in the company of our kids for several days?

That's love, right there.

The other day Chip was taking photos off her phone and sent me these couple of pictures taken while they were here.  And we were not.

Poor Chip.  She was probably overwhelmed with trying to keep an eye on 5 boys at once, especially since 60% of those boys tend to want to hang out in caves and behind waterfalls and climb up rock faces.  The other 40% are heavily influenced by their cousins' daring feats.  Which, in some ways, is a good thing.


We did come home, Sawblock, and I.  Eventually.  The boys and I started hanging out with astronauts.  Really.  Big.  Astronauts.


Then there was the time Sawblock and AKD kayaked, mountain biked, and trail ran, all in the same day, with about 500 of their closest ... competitors?  And AKD came home with hardware.


And then there was the time a Red Coat showed up on our doorstep, wielding his sword.


Shortly thereafter, there was the time when MC got ... a little ... muddy.


I made puffy bread.


And then this happened.



I'm not quite sure what's going on there or what to say about this.  I mean, they're eating pie, obviously, but ... yeah.

That happened.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Next reviews

Speaking of books, I'll be reviewing this book next:

40 Days of Decrease:
A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast.
I'm hoping it'll arrive before Lent begins, since it's intended to be used during Lent... 

Here's the blurb:
We ache deep within to meaningfully honor Christ’s resurrection. Yet, in practice, this focal point in the liturgical calendar is often a celebration of public holiday more than it is of humanity’s hope. At day’s end, we fall asleep well-fed and perhaps even grateful, yet still somehow something short of awed. Enduring awe is rarely the fruit of a morning’s celebration. Enduring awe is the fruit of daily participation with Jesus, our resurrected Love. 40 Days of Decrease invites readers to walk with Jesus through the holy decrease of less and loss that led Him cross-ward and beyond. Each day offers a meaningful consideration of Jesus’ journey through reading and reflection and then issues a challenging daily fast. Instead of social media, chocolate, and designer coffee, 40 Days of Decrease calls communities to a Lenten fasting of apathy, injustice, resentment, hypocrisy, and more for the love of God. After all, in the same way self cannot satisfy self no matter how long it feasts, self cannot starve self no matter how long it fasts. Decrease is only holy when its destination is love. We thin our lives to thicken our communion with God.
Care to join me in a different kind of fast this Lenten season?

I'm also reviewing these:
Hope Unfolding: Grace-Filled Truth for the Momma's Heart
The blurb:
God’s love, plans, and promises for you are forever unfolding. I get it, Momma. I totally get it. Every day you wake up and try your very best. You love, give, and pour out your life for the ones who call you Momma. But no matter how much you offer, there are still days you feel as though you come up short. You worry, Am I loving these babies enough? Is this ever going to get easier? Why does it seem like I am the only one who cannot balance it all?
Sometimes, we just need hope (and maybe a long uninterrupted nap). We need someone to help tune our hearts to the voice of the Father and to remind us that He has not forgotten about us.In Hope Unfolding, Becky Thompson is a friend who reminds you that you aren’t alone, and that God is still writing your story. She guides you to encounter the Truth of God’s presence that not only fuels you with strength, but also a fresh confidence. And beyond gaining faith that tomorrow could be different, you find hope and purpose where you are standing today.
And:
Jesus Today: Devotions for Kids
Blurb:
Jesus is the Friend who is always with you. Jesus Today®: Devotions for Kids will pour this powerful truth into your children’s hearts as they learn that He knows everything about them and loves them more than they can imagine.

Each devotion is based on Scripture and is written as though Jesus is speaking, assuring that He is in control, that He is good, and that an amazing future awaits all who put their hope in Him.

Adapted from ECPA Gold Medallion–winner Jesus Today®, this devotional has the same themes as the adult version, as well as written-out scriptures. It is a great choice for families to read and discuss during devotional time together.
Spend time with Jesus today . . .

I've shied away from Sarah Young's devotionals in the past because I think it's a little weird/presumptuous that she writes from the perspective of Jesus, as if Jesus were speaking (we can read the Bible if we want to know what Jesus has to say), but I have some good friends who highly recommend Sarah's stuff, we've reached the end of our current family devotional book, and it's free, so I thought I should try it.

I'm pretty excited about this crop of books :)  Feel free to read along!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Library Emergency

Did you catch what I said in my menu post yesterday?  The part about making an emergency run to the library?  Yeah.  I'm willing to make a special trip for books, but not for food.  In my world, running out of Boxcar Children books, which absolutely drive me bonkers when I have to read them out loud, is considered an emergency, while not having the ingredients to make a certain planned meal is not.

What does that tell you about my priorities?

This surprises me, because I certainly talk about food more often than I talk about books.

The reason I'm not willing to make a special trip for food is because we do have food in the house.  Plenty of food.  Food that would last us at least a month if we needed it to.  Well, maybe not quite that long...  When we lived in West Virginia, I was a 45 minute drive away from the closest grocery store.  I shopped once every 2 weeks and that was it.  Hubby brought home the occasional gallon of milk, but for the most part, if we didn't have it, we didn't eat it.

We also have plenty of books.  Sure, we've read them all before, but we could definitely wait until the next scheduled library trip to get more books.  We don't even necessarily need to go to the library anymore, since we've discovered e-books.  Yes, I know.  We didn't discover them.  I guess I should say, since we've started using e-books.


Have I told you that Bubby talks about the Alden children as if they're friends of his?  More than once he's said, "that sounds like something Henry would say," or "I think Benny would like this."  He's on book number 23 of approximately 237 gazillion.  I guess it's a good thing that we will not run out of Boxcar Children books before Bubby outgrows the series.  Makes it easier to find books for him, for sure.

Anyway, I just thought that was kind of funny, the whole library emergency, and I was wondering if anyone else caught it and thought it was funny too.  Or maybe you didn't think anything of it, because you feel the same way?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Menu plan for the week of February 1

Today we're supposed to have ancho chicken & black bean salad with cilantro lime dressing for supper.  It is really yummy.  And quite filling, but we haven't had it in a while.  I'm not sure why.  Anyway, it would have been helpful for me to have looked ahead to this week last week when I went grocery shopping, or even on Friday when I had to make an emergency run to the library (Bubby was out of Boxcar Children books), because I used the last of the chicken on Wednesday, I used the last of the Greek yogurt on Friday, I used the last of the romaine lettuce on Saturday, and I don't have a red pepper, a lime, or cilantro.  In fact, pretty much the only thing for this recipe that we do have is black beans.  And I'm not going grocery shopping until tomorrow.

Humph.

So, whatever, this whole post is a lie.  We are not having ancho chicken & black bean salad with cilantro lime dressing for supper tonight.

But that doesn't mean you can't.  Go for it, friends.  It's so good.

Here's the rest of the menu:

Supper:



Other:

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