Monday, February 28, 2011

meal plan monday

seriously? it’s monday AGAIN? I have to think up a week’s worth of meals AGAIN? ugh. well, we’ll start w/ today cuz that’s easy:

  • monday: leftovers/scrounge (L & M are currently eating oatmeal)
  • tuesday: leftover spaghetti; green beans; sourdough
  • wednesday: baked chicken; rice; peas & carrots
  • thursday: pork chops; rice; salad
  • friday: pizza; green beans
  • saturday: chicken & rice casserole (thanks, holly.)
  • sunday: pancakes; sausages; oj

project life–week 8

alrighty, here we go again with another installment of my progress on project life, and my family’s progress through 2011… they go hand in hand,you know.

the start of the week is pretty typical:012

the end of the week is pretty typical too:013

on friday, I met a dear, DEAR friend of mine, margaret, and her husband for lunch. by dear, DEAR, I mean we shared a preschool classroom for 4 years, she was a bridesmaid in my wedding, and she was my upline consultant during the two years I tried to pretend I was good at selling stuff, but really just bought myself a bunch of creative memories supplies. at any rate, we haven’t seen each other in a few years (as in, she’s never met micah) and it was SO great to get together. of course, the reason we were getting together is because I somehow managed to run out of page protectors that fit the old size 12x12 creative memories pages. of course they don’t sell them anymore, so I had to crawl pathetically to her, hoping she could come through. she did, of course, and I bought 5 packages! I brought my camera and everything, knowing that a picture of her and I together was exactly what I wanted to be able to stick in the friday slot for this week. of course, I forgot to do it. oh well.

saturday, we took another trip south to visit kat and cole. as usual, it was a blast and there was much inappropriate conversation about body functions and such. I think there was a little wine involved too… so I have a collage from that for saturday. of course, there was more to be included than would functionally fit on a 4x6 print, so I decided to make a 8x10 collage of our ‘discussion of proper toilet paper protocol and wiping technique’ adventure.


I had been thinking about how to handle the ‘other’ pictures that I take throughout the week. if I take 10 pictures at the park or a party or something like that, it’s easy; I make a collage of it and use that as the POTD. but some days I take 10 pictures of completely isolated events. just stuff that happens around here.  or some days I do that AND we go to the park or a party… you get the idea.  it’s usually pretty easy to decide what the POTD should be, but what do I do with the rest? I take them. I have them. they’re here on my computer. what what should I do with them? no, not everything needs to be printed, or documented, or displayed, etc. but a lot of them are significant to our lives. or maybe they’re funny. or maybe they’re just cute. or maybe they’re just not quite as significant as the one I chose for the POTD. what then?

so I decided to go ahead and start making collages of some of those ‘other’ pictures. I’m doing 8x10’s that I can mount on scrapbooking paper and stick in 8.5x11 page protectors. (honestly, I only chose this size because I happen to have a costco box of page protectors, and costco prints 8x10 – there really wasn’t any artistically inspired decision making here.) 016

I really, really like this idea. so I went back to the beginning of the year and started making collages of the ‘other’ pictures from each week. sometimes, I would have enough pictures to make two collages – one for each side of what would be that new page. like this particular week when I had a ton of photos of the kids attacking dave on the couch. there’s no way I could have picked one, and I already had a POTD, so I just made it into a collage of all the best ones of that:020021

other weeks only had enough for one side:019023024

so, for the backs of those pages, I included some of the kids’ art work that happened to be from that week:022018

other weeks, I didn’t have art work (shocking!) and there was already other stuff added to that week, so the paper I used to mount the 8x10 was one of the 2 sided cardstock that is included in the project life kit. that way it looks pretty:027028

and one week, I put in a letter that my niece, lily, sent to layla. I am really afraid these letters will get lost somehow, and I REALLY want them to have them when they are grown up and see what sweet cousins they were when they were little kids. so this seemed like the perfect place to keep it safe, as well as include it during the week when layla received it:025026

so that’s week 8.  AND my most recent additions. I was having other thoughts about different things I could add, but mary’s recent post has me thinking I should not be too eager to pack it full!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

2011 week 8 in pictures

sunday:013an unusually nice day! took the kids to the park, including layla’s friend. dave went for a bike ride on the trail, and met us at the park.

monday:004bedtime stories. love micah’s finger position.

tuesday:006 so, we have learned that toby is fond of yogurt…

wednesday: 004layla was so proud of herself for getting her bed made without any help. so she made a sign and had me take her picture.

thursday:017more snow! this time, shane decided to take toby out to see what he thought of it…

friday:002lovely view out my back window. gorgeous blue sky, snow dusting the trees. awesome.

saturday:017this is actually another of the lost collages. we had a hilarious trip south to visit our friends. I don’t think we’ve laughed this hard in years. omg. the cork blowing game, the how to properly use toilet paper discussion, the demonstration on the dog… all hilarious.

Friday, February 25, 2011

just a few days around here…

002what day would be complete without a couple loads of laundry folded on my bed… hey, at least it’s folded! (the putting away part – that’s another story.) and notice that it’s not a load of whites… I HATE folding whites. HATE IT. in fact, one of my favorite ways that my wonderful, handsome, irreplaceable husband demonstrates his love for me is when he sees the basket of whites (that’s been sitting there for 3 days) and folds it for me! (nevermind the fact that he’s out of socks…)

sophie desperately needed a bath. I hate bathing her. she desperately needed to be brushed. I hate brushing her. but I had procrastinated long enough and she wasn’t getting clean OR brushed by herself, so I admitted defeat and decided to do something about it. on saturday morning, while shane and I were out for our weekly coffee date, we stopped by petsmart to inquire how much a proper grooming would cost. I got impatient waiting in line, and I decided to go see what kind of really good de-shedding shampoo products they sold. I saw that the furminator shampoo and conditioner were on sale, the frugal/practical side of me took over, and I walked out of the store without ever knowing how much it would cost to have her professionally groomed.006so I went home and put her in my shower, to give her a good scrubbing. she looks SO pathetic when she’s getting washed. I told dave to grab the camera and take a picture. so sad. but then I noticed that he was still taking pictures…

dave! are you taking pictures of my butt!?!




after that, I wanted to take advantage of the sunny, not-quite-frigid day and do some yard work. dave was going to fix the brakes on the toyota, and was heading out to the auto parts store to get some new pads. on the way out the door, I shouted at him, “how much do wheelbarrows cost?”008apparently, not too much. he returned with a shiny red wheelbarrow for me, and after doing the brakes, put it together. micah helped…  what a star of a husband I have! LOVE HIM!003

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening raking leaves, picking up the 4 million fir branches littering our yard, cutting out all of last year’s dead raspberry bushes, building a fire in our backyard fire pit, and burning them... this was a very good thing, because at this point in the day, it was FREEZING out, so it kept me warm. besides, the yard waste bin was full…004finished off the day in the usual way… apparently dave found this to be a cute moment and grabbed the camera. with impeccable timing, micah inserted a finger into his nose… oh well, I still think it’s cute, and such is life, right?

sunday, I was going to do some more yard work, but we wound up at the park instead.

019013dave took micah on a bike ride, and I met him, with layla and her friend, at a park that is along the trail.

and a few other random shots…001layla had a sucker in her valentine box that had white writing on it… I have no idea how she manages to do this, but it’s a physical impossibility for her to eat a sucker (or anything else, for that matter) without sliming it ALL OVER her mouth.

004and in a more shining moment, one morning, layla managed to get her bed made, entirely by herself. if you’ve ever made a top bunk, you know what an accomplishment this is… especially if you’re 5! so she, of course, wanted to make a sign and have me take her picture. this is what you do if you are layla. you make a sign, and you take a picture. for everything.

and then we had some snow…017

shane was super excited to get to take his cat out in the snow… especially since it was deep. as usual, toby tolerated it with little resistance, but it was apparent that this was NOT his favorite thing.

020he then spent the rest of the day making a HUGE pile of snow in the middle of the yard, and hollowing it out from the inside to make an igloo. it also has a back door, a window, a skylight, and room inside for two children.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

project life–week 7

nothing overly exciting this week – although we have appearances by shane! shocking.


on thursday, my mom and I went to the showing of RISE at bella botega in redmond. I had brought my camera along, and thought I might get someone to take a picture of us at the theatre by a poster or something. but there were no posters and we were almost late, so that didn’t really happen. but on the way in, the ticket girl handed us each a little post card sized card with the infamous picture of the u.s. figure skating team, posing by the plane. it annoys me that I have to put it in sideways because of the way it’s oriented, but it was the perfect thing to go in the book for that day.006

and that is week 7!

Monday, February 21, 2011

meal plan monday

  • monday: leftover tacos
  • tuesday: tater tot casserole
  • wednesday: shane has an early soccer game, so likely OUT.
  • thursday: spaghetti; salad; sourdough
  • friday: pizza; green beans
  • saturday: gone to rochester
  • sunday: breakfast burritos

I would post my spaghetti sauce recipe, but I don’t know if I’m allowed to. it’s dave’s family recipe and I feel like I’m barely allowed to MAKE it, let alone, share it! LOL!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

2011 week 7 in pictures

sunday:051before heading back to the airport in oakland, we went to church and then had lunch with gramma jackie at olive garden.

monday:003shane, practicing his trumpet. gotta be comfortable.

tuesday:005shane demonstrating “the cocoon” method of watching tv.

wednesday:002just a few loads of laundry…


no picture, but my mom and I went to see the showing of ‘rise’ in the theatre, so I have the little postcard thing they gave out in the slot.

friday:006poor sophie hates getting a bath.

saturday:003dave bought me a shiny new wheelbarrow! micah wanted to help him assemble it.

that’s it. nothing extra this time.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

white wine marinated pork chops recipe

this recipe comes from the weber’s REAL GRILLING cookbook and is my family’s recent favorite way to have pork chops. shane thinks these are the best food he’s ever eaten, and will generally eat 2!  i think layla asked for seconds as well, and micah pretended they weren’t on his plate… which is typical.  we’ve made them on the grill, or broiling in the oven, and both are equally good.

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh thyme (I have used dried as well, and it works fine)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic (think I used a clove, maybe two)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt (this was a little much. I think the second time I made them I reduced it to 1.5 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • pork chops (4 or 5)

whisk ingredients together in a bowl. place pork chops in a large ziplock and pour in marinade. seal and turn several times. refrigerate for 2 hours, turning once or twice.  allow chops to stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before grilling. remove from bag, wipe off most of marinade with paper towels and discard marinade. grill over direct high heat until barely pink in center of meat. (the time on each side will vary depending on the thickness of your chops and if they are boneless or bone-in.)

there’s a grilled red pepper salsa recipe that is supposed to go with this, but I’ve never made it. I think the chops stand alone pretty darn well. we usually just have them with salad or a rice side dish.


light n’ crisp waffles recipe - everyone's favorite!

i got this recipe from my dad. i have no idea where he got it, but these are the waffles i’ve been eating as long as i can remember. they are so delicious, easy, and HEALTHY! OHMYGOODNESS, i cannot help but go on and on about them because they are so incredibly fabulous! if you want to see my picky eaters eat, come on waffle night! i think last time I made these, layla (all 33 pounds of her) put away 4 quarters of a waffle. that’s one WHOLE 10 square inch waffle. (and yes, i did just pull out my waffle iron and measured it!)

anyway, here it is, without further ado…

  • 1 cup flour (I usually do 1/2 white, 1/2 whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp baking powder*
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3 cups buttermilk

put all dry ingredients into a bowl, break in the eggs, add oil, then stir in the buttermilk.

*the amount of baking powder is not an error, but is the secret of the crisp, tender result!

let the batter stand for a short time (15-30 minutes) to allow the baking powder to work. it should be of a bubbly-thick pouring consistency. bake waffles until they are a light golden brown.

if you have leftovers (i often double the recipe to ensure that i do), refrigerate or freeze them. they reheat wonderfully in the toaster.

we top them with butter and syrup – either maple or boysenberry (my personal favorite), but they’re good with jam as well, or fresh fruit, or plain even! enjoy! (how could you not?) Winking smile

whole wheat buttermilk pancake recipe

this is a recipe I’ve adapted from my better homes and gardens cookbook, and makes a healthier alternative to bisquick pancakes (my personal fave). add fresh or frozen blueberries and i’m in heaven!

  • 1 3/4 cups flour (you can make them as w/w as you want here. I usually do the 1 cup w/w and the 3/4 cup AP.)
  • 2 tbsp white or brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (as i recall, this isn’t enough liquid… probably closer to 2 cups – depending on how dense you like your batter.)
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil

in a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. in another bowl, use a fork to combine egg, buttermilk and oil. add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. mix. cook on a hot griddle until golden brown.

beef stew recipe

another taken from the betty crocker cookbook, but i mess with this one so refer to the disclaimer

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, pressed (or some good shakes of garlic powder)
  • 1 lb. stew beef
  • 3 cups of hot water (I probably use closer to 3.5 or 4)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 3 medium carrots, cut in thick coins
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1-2 medium potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • *optional: 1/2 bell pepper of your choice; 1 turnip; 1/2 tsp browning sauce (whatever that is)
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  1. heat oil in large pot. cook beef and garlic in oil about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown. add hot water, 1/2 tsp salt and the pepper. heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. cover and simmer 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until beef is almost tender.
  2. stir in remaining ingredients except cold water and flour. cover and simmer about 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. (put the potatoes in last – otherwise, by the time the carrots are done, the potatoes have disintegrated.) remove bay leaf.
  3. stir flour into cold water; gradually stir into beef mixture.  heat to boiling, stirring constantly. boil and stir 1 minute; reduce heat to low.
  4. enjoy with bread, biscuits, or even dumplings!

creamy ‘italian’ chicken recipe

i don’t use my crock pot nearly as often as i should… probably because I don’t have a lot of slow cooker recipes that i really like. but this one is a winner (winner chicken dinner – literally)! i don’t know the original source of this recipe, since my aunt sent it to my mom and my mom sent it to me…

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (squeeze more in if you can)
  • 1 envelope italian salad dressing mix
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened (this is important, or it will be chunky!)
  • 1 can cream of something soup
  • 1 can mushroom stems and pieces, drained (yuck! I never do this, but it’s in the recipe, so I thought I’d include it for the fungus lovers out there.)
  • hot cooked rice or noodles
  1. place chicken in slow cooker. combine salad dressing mix and water; pour over chicken. cover and cook on LOW for 3 hours.
  2. in a small mixing bowl, whisk together cream cheese and soup until blended. stir in mushrooms. pour cream cheese mixture over chicken. cook 1 to 3 hours longer until chicken juices run clear.
  3. serve over rice or cooked noodles.

obviously, this is not a low calorie dish! Winking smile i use low fat cream cheese to help with that a little, and serve with whole wheat noodles or brown rice to up the healthy factor…


chicken parmesan recipe

i’m not sure where my dad got this recipe… i think it was in a magazine or newspaper back in the early 70’s. no matter. i’ve always loved it, AND, big news, you don’t even have to refer to my recipe disclaimer on this one, because it’s so wonderful the way it is, that i actually FOLLOW the recipe!

  • 6 chicken breasts
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 8 oz. cans tomato sauce (Actually, I do deviate a bit here, because I buy my tomato sauce in 15 oz. cans, so I use 2 of those. It makes a little more sauce, but that’s okay because we like to serve this dish over pasta and more sauce is better than less)
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 6 slices mozzarella cheese

beat egg with water in a shallow dish. dip chicken in egg mixture and then coat with bread crumbs.

in a large skillet, heat oil; add chicken and brown on both sides.

mix tomato sauce, basil, oregano, and thyme. spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish. place chicken over sauce, overlapping slightly. cover with remainder of sauce. sprinkle with parmesan.

bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 30 minutes (or until chicken is done). place a slice of mozzarella on each piece of chicken and return to oven until cheese melts – about 5 minutes. serve at once.

as i mentioned, we like to have this over pasta… usually some whole wheat fettuccini or linguini.


homemade pizza dough (+ toppings) recipe

so, we’ve always been devoted papa murphy’s pizza eaters. a number of things drove me to the point i’m at now, of making our own, from scratch pizza. yes, it’s a little more work, but it’s healthier, cheaper, more convenient (no, really, friday afternoons are C.R.A.Z.Y. during the school year and picking up a pizza wasn’t the easiest thing to do with kids in tow), and we like it better.

the base for this recipe came from the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (a book that is interesting and useful, but I can’t really recommend it since I didn’t finish it after having my intelligence insulted a few too many times for not believing in macro-evolution, but that’s another story).  but, of course, i messed with it, pared it down a little, added some stuff, etc. to get it to the right amount of dough and the way we like it. 

here is MY recipe:

2 tsp. yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp. olive oil
2/3 tsp. salt
2 cups AP flour
1 cup w/w flour
several good shakes of garlic powder and italian seasoning (or the spices that are included in it that you like – basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, sage – or whatever of that you like/have).

dissolve the yeast in the warm water, mix in olive oil and salt. Pour into a large bowl. in a separate bowl, combine AP flour, w/w flour and spices, then pour into the bowl w/ the water mixture. mix well with spoon/hands until everything is combined and dough is smooth and of a good (not too sticky, not to dry) consistency. i sometimes find that I have to add a little extra water at this point. if you are new to making bread dough, it will take a little while to get this part down just right until you know when the dough is how you want it to be. if it’s too sticky, add some flour. too dry, add some water. just a tiny bit at a time.

when the dough is right, form a ball, place in a bowl, cover with a cloth and place someplace warm to rise (40-60 minutes). turn out on a lightly floured surface, knead some, stretch out and roll into whatever shape you will be making your pizza in.  i use either my pampered chef stoneware bar pan, or my round pizza pan.

top however you like. i really like trader joe’s pizza sauce, but would love to find a good recipe to make my own, for canning or freezing. anyone have one they love?

when your pizza is all assembled, bake at 425* for 15 minutes or a little longer. watch for when the cheese is melted and the crust is starting to look golden brown.  slice up and enjoy!



homemade mac&cheese recipe

this was one of my FAVORITE dinners as a kid, although my mom now claims that she made it differently than the recipe she gave to me… I’ll try my best to make this recipe ‘usable’, but you’ll probably have to refer to my recipe disclaimer and accept my apologies, once again, for ambiguous measurements!


in case that won’t actually cut it for you, allow me to try and translate.

  1. cook 2 cups of macaroni according to package directions. drain. put in 2.5 quart casserole dish or 9x13 pyrex dish. (I only use whole wheat pasta and actual elbow macaroni can be hard to find – although a friend recently alerted me that whole foods sells it. i use shells, rotini, bow ties, whatever the kids choose.)
  2. in a separate bowl, combine 1 can of cream of something soup (I usually use celery), 1 can of milk (meaning you measure your milk in the soup can you just emptied), and several good shakes of the following spices: parsley, celery seed, onion powder, garlic powder, and basil. mix WELL with a whisk.
  3. pour over cooked noodles.
  4. cube cheese (I do this while the noodles are cooking). the amount of cheese is kind of hard to specify. i’ve been making this for years and I just kind of eyeball it. maybe about a cup? maybe a little more?
  5. stir in cheese, making sure to get it well distributed throughout. this is also where I like to add some diced ham, if we’ve had it recently and have leftovers, but it’s just as good without it too.
  6. sprinkle parmesan cheese and paprika over the top.
  7. cover and bake at 350* for 30-40 minutes, until bubbly and all cheese is melted. remove cover for the last 5 minutes of baking.
  8. allow to set for a few minutes before serving.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

project life–week 6

okay, this is my most non-traditional week yet. I had some stuff that I really wanted to go in and I was trying to figure out how to make it all work.

but first, the beginning of the week is pretty normal:025 (2)-1

my tuesday shot is of layla’s messy desk, as is. I have one from november or december of last year as well. it’s just kinda fun to see what she was busy with at the time.

on friday of last week, dave and I went to california for a wedding and a visit. we left the kids with my parents, and I left a detailed ‘itinerary’ for them. yes, it’s even color-coded! LOL. I can be excessively organized when I want to be. after we got back, I was going to recycle this, but then I thought it would be kinda funny to put it in the album. so into a page protector it went:026-1

yes, it was two sided.

my next dilemma had to do with friday. I had a LOT of pictures from that day. pictures from the plane, pictures from breakfast with grandpa dick, pictures with nana, and of course, pictures from the wedding. I knew what I wanted for a POTD. I didn’t want to do a collage for it, because there were so many, and they were all from different, and unrelated stuff. 027

so I decided to do 2 big collages for the day. one from oakland in the morning:028

and one from the wedding that evening:029

costco doesn’t print 8.5x11 pictures, so I did 2 8x10’s. then I took a page of the 12x12 cardstock included in the kit, cut it down, and mounted one of the collages on each side of it. I put this in a second page protector, behind the itinerary.

and then went on with the week:030

LOVE it. can’t wait to do more of this kind of thing!

and that’s week 6. Done! I’ll see you next week for another installment!


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