Monday, December 29, 2014

Menu plan for the week of December 29

Merry Christmas, everyone!  The kids are on break and we're having a great time hanging out together, enjoying each other's company.  It even snowed a couple of days ago, so while our Christmas was decidedly green, our new year will begin white.

After the excesses of Christmas celebrations, it's a little hard to think about food, so we're going simple around here.  Here's what's on the menu this week:

--Spaghetti/spaghetti squash with meat sauce, green beans
--Wild rice casserole, carrots
--Turkey pot pie (using turkey leftover from Christmas, and homemade turkey stock), salad
--Grilled steak, garlic toast, salad
--Oregano chicken, rice, steamed veggies
--Nachos with veggies

Monday, December 22, 2014

How to Survive Middle School and Monster Bots: A Review

In How to Survive Middle School and Monster Bots, Howard Boward is having a rough semester in Middle School.  He's having to dodge snowballs and bullies and trying to pull off a win in an upcoming robot-building contest.  Howard realizes the only way to win is to use his secret "monster goo," with possibly terrifying results. Will Howard play by the rules, or will he unleash a robot rampage that could destroy the town, or perhaps even more devastating, ruin the school dance?

I liked this book.  It's told from Howard's nerdy, typical boy, self-centered, point of view.  It was silly and fun, sort of along the lines of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but touched on real issues facing students in middle school, and I loved the subtle moral undertones.  I found myself laughing out loud several times. 

Bottom line: this is a great series for boys and girls in 4th-7th grades, especially fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

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

Lost in Translation: A Review

I recently received a copy of Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders.  In this book, Ms. Sanders uses charming illustrations to bring to life more than 50 words that are not directly translatable to English.  In each 2 page spread, the author gives the word and its definition, along with its language of origin, and a drawing of the definition.  She also includes a brief paragraph of commentary. 

This is a cute book, and I liked it.  I found the words and their definitions interesting, for instance, in Tulu, which is spoken in parts of southwestern India, there is a word which means, "the mark left on the skin by wearing something tight."  In Indonesia, there is a word that "refers to a joke so terrible and unfunny that you cannot help but laugh."  We need that word around here.  A lot.

You can learn a lot about a culture by the words it uses.

This small volume would make a great gift for someone who loves language.  It also makes a great conversation starter.

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

Cozy Day

Feels like I haven't seen the sun in months.  In truth, it's been more like a couple of weeks.  A couple of weeks of cold, gray days.  And today is no exception.  Today is gray, and cold, and drizzly.  On days like today, all I want to do is cuddle up nice and cozy on my couch.

That is, if I could.

But alas, I have places to go, things to do, people to feed.

But if...

...if today was a lazy, snuggly, cozy day, I would need...

My fuzzy pants.  You remember about my fuzzy pants, yes?  How I would live in them if I could?  My fuzzy pants are absolutely essential to my cozy day.  And now?  I have polar bear fuzzy pants!  They match my boys' fuzzy pants!

Next, I would need a nice snuggly blanket.  Maybe something like this?  Soft and cozy and warm, but lightweight.  Ah....yes.

Striped Cashmere Throw
And yes, matching my fuzzy pants is a consideration.

I'm going to need something to do on my cozy day.  A book to read, or a fun movie to watch.  Lately I've been gobbling up anything and everything I can get my hands on by Mary Kay Andrews.  Right now I'm reading this one.

Just perfect for snuggling in.  Bonus--it's set in Savannah, Georgia in the summer, so I can feel warm vicariously.

And, of course, I'll need sustenance on my cozy day.  Something warm and hearty in the crock pot, like Taco Bean Soup or Lasagna Soup or even what I'm making today, Sunday Night Stew.

Sunday Night Stew
{From The Pioneer Woman}

And hot chocolate.  That's a must.


With Redi-Whip and shaved chocolate on top.  Mmmmm.

What else?  My comfy couch, a warm house, and a fire in the fire place.  Heaven.

On second thought, maybe those places to go and things to do can wait... If you need me, I'll be snuggled in, cozy and warm.

Your turn: What are your cozy day essentials?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Menu plan for the week of December 15 and beyond least I don't have to worry about food.  Here's what's coming up on the table for the Bluefield family.  Everything else?  Is up in the air.  It's all good, though.  Here's to another week (or two) of waiting for the King.

--Pizza, salad
--Grilled chicken, grilled garlic bread, salad, leftover veggies
--Spaghetti, carrots
--Sesame chicken strips, green beans, peaches
--Calzones, salad
--Grilled pork chops, parmesan potatoes, grilled broccoli
--Baked bone-in chicken, mashed potatoes, mixed veggies

And beyond...
--Sunday night stew (on Monday! Scandalous!), cream cheese mashed potatoes, salad
--Beef stroganoff, corn, salad
--Grandpa R's chicken rice soup, crackers, salad
--Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, salad, Brussels sprouts
--Dr. Pepper pork, 30 minute rolls, broccoli/carrot/cauliflower medley
--Shepherd's pie, whole wheat bread, applesauce

--Taco bean soup
--Turkey stock for canning
--Apple crisp
--Brownie pecan pie
--And more cookies

What are you eating this week?

Friday, December 12, 2014

This week in review

Some stuff happened this week.

Ok, well, a lot of stuff happened this week, including my husband telling me that it was a hardship for him to go to Mexico because the high temps were only (only!) supposed to be in the mid-sixties.  And rain!

And then, you know, there was the afternoon/evening I moonlighted as a taxi driver.  Driving, pretty much constantly, picking people up and dropping people off from 3:30 to 8:30 pm.  Those people are poor tippers.

And then, there were my girls.  Love them to pieces.

Followed by our group's reservation for volunteering at the Operation Christmas Child shoebox processing facility being canceled because they're FIVE DAYS ahead of schedule. So disappointed.

And now today I'm doing a favor for a friend in the morning, followed by this in the afternoon (love this Christmas tradition).

But none of that stuff matters because I GOT MY NEW FUZZY PANTS in the mail!  I looooove them.

That's MC on the left, followed by AKD, Me, and Bubby.
Our fuzzy pants all match!  This makes me happy.
Hubby is not pictured, because 1) poor guy was suffering through mid-sixties and rain in Mexico, and 2) if we took a picture of him in his jammies, it would not be suitable for posting on this family-friendly blog.

How was your week?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My Holiday Survival Kit

Y'all!  This is a tough time of year for lots of people, for lots of reasons.  It's just like us humans to take something holy and wonderful and turn it into...well, all of this.  The compulsive shopping, the perfect decorations, the crazy!  The loneliness, the depression, the failed expectations...

I was recently introduced to Man Crates, and their awesome gifts for men.  Looking at all of their crates got me thinking about what I would include in a holiday survival kit to make it through the tough stuff.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I just don't stress out at this time of year the way many of my mommy friends do, and so maybe I don't really need a holiday survival kit.

I don't do anything at this time of year just because someone else expects me to.  If it brings me joy, I'll make it a priority.  If not, well, it's just not worth it.  

And yes, I'm in a fairly unique situation is this regard.  We don't have family, or a whole lot of friends, nearby, at least not friends who want to get together for Christmas celebrations.  So we don't have any parties to attend or any family obligations.  And over the past year I've gotten really good at saying no.

Which is not to say that I'm not super busy at this time of year, I am.  There are lots of things I would like to do before Christmas.  If I get to them, great.  If not, that's OK.

With that said, here's what's in my holiday survival kit:

Dove Promises--Mama's gotta have her chocolate.
If it has a little crunch, so much the better.  My favorites (you know, just in case...) are dark chocolate hazelnut and peppermint bark.

Lots of fresh veggies, lean protein, and water AND exercise--because when you're treating your body right, it'll treat you right.
Good-for-you food and exercise are the ultimate stress-buster.  This month, I'm doing this Countdown to Christmas challenge from Piper's Run.

My lists--oh, my lists!
If I don't write it down, I will forget it.  I need to make a list of my lists :)  It's on one of my lists, somewhere, to make this printable weekly agenda available to all of you...

Fuzzy pants--because it's all about comfort.
As soon as I have made it to the point of my day when I am no longer going to need to appear in public, my fuzzy pants are on. It's like my little reward for making it that far.  Sometimes? I get up in the morning, take a shower, and put my pajamas right back on.  Those are the very best kinds of days.

Inexpensive, easy, go-to gift--one thing that brings me joy is giving to others.
But breaking the budget on giving gifts to every.single.person to whom I would like to give gifts is a little bit of a joy-stealer.  And having to think about gifts for every.single.person?  Huge joy-stealer.  So I like to come up with a thoughtful, but inexpensive gift to give to everyone.  This year, it's these Hot Cocoa Gift Jars from the Magical Slow Cooker.  I love this, because if the recipient doesn't want it, it's easy to regift.

A good devotional--to keep me grounded in joy.
This year I'm reading The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas, and Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas, both by Ann Voskamp.  I am loving this trip through God's love story.  These devotionals offer great suggestions for unwrapping God's love in the world, and keep me thinking about others.

A healthy dose of GRACE-- because I can't do it all, and I really don't have to.

Your turn: what's in your Holiday Survival Kit?

If you're still looking for a gift for a man in your life, check out Man Crates--the gift you open with a crowbar.  Not kidding.  I can think of some guys (and girls, hint, hint) who would love to receive one of these :)  They're not giving me anything to say that--I just think they're cool.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Menu plan for the week of December 8

We have another busy week ahead of us, my friends.  Not sure why all these medical and dental appointments are happening right now, and then we've got extra holiday celebratory stuff going on.  What it all means is I have to be very intentional in how I organize my time.  I'm scheduling all of my time this week, right down to when to do the laundry.  Deep we go.

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

--Dr. Pepper Pork, 30 minute rolls, broccoli/cauliflower/carrots, mixed greens
--Slow Cooker Pepperoni & Chicken, oven roasted Brussels sprouts
--Out to eat
--Pizza casserole, green beans, salad
--Nachos with guacamole and taco toppings
--Grilled chicken, garlic bread, salad, mixed vegetables
--Grilled pork chops, smashed potatoes, grilled broccoli

Christmas Tree Meringues

--Taco bean soup
--30 minute rolls
--Meringue trees
--Christmas Vanilla Cake Roll
--Giant Monster Cookie

A simple vanilla roll cake with red and green dots and spirals of creamy buttercream. Recipe from

What are you eating this week?

Friday, December 5, 2014

This week in review

Y'all!  This was a busy week.  Made it through, though.  Here's what happened.

We started by returning from our Thanksgiving trip to find that none of our gas appliances, including the furnace, was working.  Thankfully, the gas guy was able to come out and bang on some things and we were good to go.

On Monday morning we had Bubby's surgery follow-up appointment.  The surgeon is pleased with how his scar looks, and is hopeful that the dent in his face will fill back in on its own.  Bubby's face is now, for the first time in almost 2 months, band-aide free, and we are thrilled to be putting this whole thing behind us.

Later in the day, I took AKD in to get his braces off, 3 months early.

On Tuesday, I headed off on a field trip to the science museum with MC.  It was all going well...until I lost 2 kids.  Oops.  Turns out they were on the bus?  While I was scouring the museum for them and trying to hold on to my other 4 kids?

On Wednesday, my first day actually home in more than a week, I made a list.  My list had 17 items on it.  I actually managed to cross 8 things off of it.  I was so impressed.  And then I added another 5, bringing me to a net 3 to-do items crossed off my list.  Whoo hoo!  Later in the evening I did a mystery shop.

Thursday morning I got together with my girls.  Love them.  That afternoon MC had a dentist appointment.

Friday (that's today!) I knocked another few items off my list, and took my Hubby on a mystery shopping date.  Now I'm watching a fun chick flick all by my lonesome, and telling y'all about my week.

How was your week?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Menu Plan for the Week of December 1

Hey y'all!  It's a new week, and a new month!  We just returned home from our Thanksgiving trip (great time was had by all), and found that none of our gas appliances (including the furnace) were working.  We're still not exactly sure what the problem was, but the gas guy came out and banged on some things, and now we're back in business.  However, the temperature in our house was down to 49 degrees, so it'll be a little while before it warms back up (even with the furnace and gas fireplace going).  So I'm sitting here all bundled up, typing in my gloves.  If you notice any weird typos, that's probably why.

So...December.  Can you believe it?  I need to figure out which Christmas treats we'll be making this year.  And by we, I mean me.  This weekend, I asked MC if there was anything in particular he wanted to do in December.  You know, like family fun activities.  He didn't have a whole lot of ideas, but he did say he wanted to make cookies.  When I pressed him on it, he admitted that what he really wanted was for me to make the cookies, and him to eat them.  So much for family fun activities.  *Sigh*  Good thing I love to bake.

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

--Pizza casserole, green beans, salad
--Spaghetti/zucchini noodles with meat sauce, garlic bread, mixed vegetables, salad
--Fend for yourself/ramen/corn dogs, carrots
--Pizza or chicken pizza, salad
--Baked bone-in chicken, mashed potatoes, broccoli/cauliflower/carrots
--Tacos, taco fixings, including guacamole
--Dr. Pepper Pork, rolls, mixed veggies, salad

--Greek yogurt (I have to use a new starter, 'cause I ate all my homemade yogurt last week--it was so, so yummy!)
--Peanut butter granola bars
--100% whole wheat 30 minute rolls

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