Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Second to last

I have a friend whose oldest child is heading off to college for the first time this fall.  During the school year, I see this friend just about every week, so I was well informed on the senior year happenings for this family.  I heard about all of the lasts.  Last first day of school.  Last homecoming.  Last spring break.  Last AP exam.  Last prom.  Last day of school.  Last parade as royalty.  Last summer before college.

My friend lived by the words "soak it in," this past year.  She didn't want to live this past year just thinking about how it would be to launch her daughter out into the world, how much her daughter would be missed in the day to day life of their family.  She wanted to live in the moment, each moment.  She wanted to soak it all in and create memories to savor.

Because I was living through these experiences with my friend, I've noticed a trend in my own thinking.  My oldest child is a junior this year.  He has two years of school left at home with us, and then his plan is to go...away...to college.  And I have caught myself thinking, second to last registration day.  Second to last bike season.  Second to last spring break.  Second to last summer at home before college.

I don't know how to do this.  I am keenly aware of the passage of time.  I just want to grab hold and drag my feet.  Slow it down.  Two more years, I have until this man-child is an adult.  Two more years until he is authorized and expected to make all of his own decisions.  It's not enough time.  I am going to miss him so much.

I wish I could go back and tell my young mama self, the one who slept when her baby slept because she was exhausted, and didn't have time to eat on some days, that the time would go by so quickly she wouldn't even believe it.  It is so true what they say--the days are long but the years are short.  The sad truth is, though, I wouldn't have believed myself.

My friend is dropping off her oldest daughter today.  I asked her how she was doing, and she said a wonderful thing.  She said, "as much as I love her, I know God loves her more."  And that is the truth.  God loves our kiddos so much more than we can even imagine, and so much better than we ever could.

God has great plans for them.

Today, I encourage you to remember this truth, no matter what your stage in life, whether you're in the long days or the short years or both at the same time.  God loves them more.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Menu plan for the week of August 29

I've been lucky this year--my kids' sports tapered in, with staggered starts.  AKD has been practicing with his bike team since the beginning of July, Bubby began football last week, and football starts for MC today.  Wasn't that nice of them to ease me into this busy season?  I thought that was very considerate.

What this means, practically speaking, is we have two super busy evenings a week for the next two months.  Like, crazy busy.  I won't go into details, but it's physically impossible for one mama to get all of these kids to where they need to be when they need to be there and back again.  This is why we have two parents in this household.

What this also means is I will be working my way through my slow cooker pinterest board over the next two months.  I've already been gauging some of the recipes' suitability for use on those busy days, and it's kind of shocking to me how many of these supposedly set-it-and-forget-it recipes require additional steps before serving.  Like, you have to cook and add pasta, or you have to add a cornstarch slurry to thicken something.  That kind of recipe is not going to work.  Not to worry.  We'll figure it out.

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

What are you eating this week?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Menu plan for the week of August 15

Two more weeks of August.  We got this, friends.  The hot is almost over.  There is at least one upside to the hot--I continue to harvest about one zucchini per day.  In fact, I have five of them sitting on my kitchen counter right now.  It always amazes me how much a zucchini can grow in a day.  I'll go out to the garden, and say...hmmm...this zucchini needs one more day.  And I'll go out the next day, and it'll be bigger than I thought it would be.  What's even more surprising is how I can find fully grown, ready-to-harvest zucchinis in my garden that I had never noticed before.  How does that happen?  Those zucchinis have some powerful camouflage mojo going on.

In response to this stellar zucchini harvest, I've been putting zucchini in and on pretty much everything, and I will continue to do so this week.  If it's shredded and cooked down a bit, no one even notices.  So, yup, there will be zucchini in every evening meal this week.  I think I might also add to the 22 cups of shredded zucchini in the freezer this week.



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

My Wildtree Freezer Meal Workshop Experience

As I mentioned several weeks ago, I attended a Wildtree workshop in June.

And I knew I should have written this post right away, while it was fresh in my mind, instead of waiting until I had actually tried some of the meals I prepared at the workshop.

Oh well.  I think I can do an adequate job, even lo, these many weeks, later.
So Wildtree is a direct marketing company, with home parties, kind of like Tupperware or Pampered Chef, but instead of selling stuff, Wildtree offers food.  They offer two types of parties: tasting parties and the kind I attended--freezer meal workshops.  From the website:
Wildtree was founded on the premise that food should be natural, nutritious, delicious and easy to prepare - all at the same time. [Their] products are made with the finest ingredients available and contain no preservatives, additives, MSGs or dyes. 
Here's how it worked.  First, I got an email inviting me to attend a freezer meal workshop.  The email contained a list of the meals that would be prepared, and a link to sign up and pay for my freezer meal bundle.  Wildtree has about six different freezer meal workshops available at any given time--I did "Get Your Grill On."  The $86 fee paid for the Wildtree products I would need to put together 10 recipes at the workshop.  I was responsible for buying proteins and veggies on my own, which I estimate cost another $80, purchasing most of my proteins on sale.  A couple of weeks before the workshop, I got a shopping list, and then about a week before the workshop, I got a set of instructions for prep-work to be done at home, and a list of equipment (like measuring spoons) to bring along.

The day of the workshop, I prepped my bags according to the instructions, put everything into a cooler and set off to the workshop.  When I arrived, all of my Wildtree products were set up at a work station for me.  There were a few community supplies on the table, like salt and pepper, that were provided by the hostess.  After a brief introduction by the Wildtree representative, who was well organized, very professional, and helpful throughout, we set to work assembling our meals.

The instructions were straight-forward and easy to follow, and all of us (even the ones who were a bit chatty-er than I) put together 10 freezer meals, each serving 4-6 people, within an hour and a half.  Some of the ladies at my table split their meals, so they ended up with 20 meals, each serving 2-3 people.  Along with our meals, we took home our leftover products, cooking instructions and serving suggestions, a freezer inventory list, and all of the recipes for the meals we prepared as well as a few bonus recipes that can be made with the Wildtree products we had purchased.   As each of us finished, we got to sit with the Wildtree consultant for a few minutes while she tried to sell us more stuff, get us to sign up to host our own party, and in my case, flatter me into becoming a Wildtree consultant.  She did not succeed, well, in my case, anyway.

In the weeks since, we've tried seven of the ten meals I made that night.  They've been good, but not spectacular.  Which is, considering my family's...aversions...actually quite high praise.  Everyone has been willing to eat every one of the meals.  High praise indeed.   Two meals, the Asian Ginger Beef Tips, and the Agave BBQ Country Ribs, my family wants me to make again, and I will, with pleasure.

Here's what I liked most about the workshop:
I didn't have to think.  Someone else told me what to buy and how to put it together, and I knew it was good-for-me food with no preservatives, additives, MSGs or dyes.  I went home with 10 different meals for my freezer.  Without having to think about it.  As my family's only meal planner and grocery procurer, that's huge.

Was it worth the cost?
Well, I'm not sure.  This is certainly more than I would have spent on meals that I put together myself, but on the other hand, it felt so good to have someone else telling me what to make instead of having to figure it out for myself, and it's been an amazing feeling to be able to just pull something out of the freezer to feed my family with minimal prep time.  How much is that peace of mind worth?  All I can say is I do not regret attending this workshop.

Would I do it again?
You know, I think I might.  I hear Wildtree has a Crock Pot freezer meal workshop.  Y'all want to do it with me?

Want more information about Wildtree?  Start with my consultant (she's fabulous) or find a consultant near you.  Or you can take a peek at their 2016 catalog.

This is not a sponsored post (although I would be willing to do one *hint*hint*), just my honest assessment of my experience with Wildtree.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Happy Zucchini Day!

Hey y'all!  Today is the day!  Happy sneak some zucchini onto your neighbor's porch day!  I told you it was a thing--did you not believe me?

As promised, I have something extra special for you today!  In honor of this very special day, which anyone who's ever grown zucchini will completely understand, I've got some fun zucchini recipes for you.  You know, for all that zucchini your neighbors will be sneaking onto your porch.

As you can see, zucchini is a pretty versatile ingredient.  What's your favorite way to eat zucchini?

Main Dishes: 
Turkey Zucchini Meatballs from Kendra's Treats

Zucchini Nachos from Betsy Life

Spinach Zucchini Ravioli from Las Vegas Food Photographer

Low Carb Beef and Zucchini Lasagna from The Fit Blog

Chicken Enchilada Zucchini Boats from Cooking Classy

Tex Mex Stuffed Zucchini  and Zucchini and Ground Turkey Pizza Boats from Slender Kitchen

Zucchini Pizza Casserole from Kendra's Treats

Chicken Zoodle Soup from Damn Delicious

Side Dishes:
Roasted Zucchini and Red Potatoes from CookPad

Zucchini Tots from Old House to New Home

Zucchini Chips from Mostly Food & Crafts

Cheesy Zucchini Breadsticks from Smile Sandwich (you can also use this recipe to make pizza crust)

Zucchini Potato Pancakes from The Prudent Homemaker

Breakfast, breads, and muffins:
Golden Sweet Zucchini Pancakes from Super Healthy Kids

Blueberry Banana Zucchini Bread from Made to be a Momma

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Bread from Cooking Classy

Chocolate and Yogurt Zucchini Bread from Give Recipe

(The BEST ever) Zucchini Nut Muffins from me!

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread Breakfast Cookies from Kristine's Kitchen


Mmmm.  So much deliciousness!  I think I'm going to try the Chicken Zoodle Soup--which one of these are you going to make first?

Friday, August 5, 2016

Yet another Friday menu post

I know you love 'em, the Friday menu posts, that is.  But that's not why I'm posting this one.  I'm posting this one on Friday because I have something extra special for you on Monday.  Something extra special that has something to do with ... well, you'll just have to wait and see.

Can y'all believe how fast this summer has flown by?  We have not had all members of our family home for more than 5 days in a row so far this summer.  Usually it's been less than 5.  I think someone's planning on going somewhere next weekend, too.  Maybe all of us?  Not sure.

Zucchini oat chocolate chip cookies
As much as I love these lazy days of summer, I must say I'm looking forward to the routine of the school year.  Who am I kidding?  These days have not been lazy, and I do not love them.  Much too hot.  Much too much packing and unpacking.  Much too many "there's nothing to do"s.  But it is a little sad to think about another year passing.  Happy, too.

Mixed feelings, y'all.  That's what is happening in my head right now.

What I don't have mixed feelings about is eating.

OK, that's not true either.  Sheesh.  On to the menu.

Zucchini Nachos | Betsylife.com
Zucchini Nachos

Grilled Chicken Legs Recipe | addapinch.com
Grilled Chicken Legs
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