Sunday, August 26, 2012

Monthly Meal Plan

In the midst of the craziness that is my life, I have found that I MUST plan for meals ahead of time so my family is saved from my go to frozen pizza or mac and cheese meals every single night. I started out using this meal planning organization which I love from Bold Turquoise. She has organized an entire binder of months and shopping lists and recipe sheets with tabs and labels and everything (so right up my ally!). I even gave my a copy of my monthly plan and recipes to a friend one time. I still love the idea, but I don't have the time at this point to find recipes, create large shopping lists, write down my recipes, and plan meals for every single day. When I have more time I'd like to re-vamp her ideas to make them more workable for my family. I'd even love to plan a year long recipe binder like she does. If I do a year at a time, I wouldn't have to change too much. AND, if I take good care of it, I could just reuse it year after year. That'd be nice!

But, for my now, I found this great monthly meal plan on Pinterest that already has the meals included from Confessions of a Homeschooler. Bonus for me... no sea food. :) This one is for the month of August, but I figured I'd just start at the beginning and work my way through no matter what day it really is. She also has other months for you to choose from. I will only be using the dinners as I am rushed for time in the mornings-so cereal and fruit here we come.

The downloadable calendar includes links to some of her recipes. To save time each day for me, I copied and pasted those recipes into one document. The recipes are in order of when they will be used. I included a link for those who would like it: Recipe List. Please remember that these are not my recipes, and I give full credit to Confessions of a Homeschooler. Again, I only have the dinners in this list.

Lastly, I wanted to make shopping as easy as possible so I created a weekly Shopping List to go with the monthly plan. Many items are staples that I try to keep on hand so I didn't include those in the shopping lists. If you utilize these, be sure to double check that you have all the items needed before trying to make something. Remember: dinner ingredients only are on these lists.

For those who are thinking that if you start this you have to stick with the plan-you don't. When I started mine from Bold Turquoise I was pretty lenient on when I cooked each meal. Some nights you really won't feel like cooking and that's okay. This is just a way to prepare ahead of time for something to eat. When I get home from school, I have about an hour or two before it is supper time. The last thing I want to do when I get home is try to figure out what to make and try to see if we have all the ingredients only to find that we don't. These meal plans help me know what is coming so I know that we have the ingredients needed, and I don't have to feed my kids junk all the time. Besides, if you don't like something, it is so easy to add in your own family favorite recipes.

Happy Eating!

Thursday, August 23, 2012


This year summer flew by way too fast. I was not ready to return back to school. I feel like most of my summer was spent recuperating... oh wait, it was! No wonder school came too quickly for me this year. However, for my little girls it was a completely different story. The very first week of summer they were asking if it was time to go back to school. Well, after a long summer for them this is what back-to-school brought for them...

Something this summer happened to me, and I began looking at my children as little people that were not going to stay little for long. I realized I wanted to create memories for them that would last them a lifetime. With that, I came across this blog thanks to the help of Pinterest. I decided I wanted to begin some new traditions that would help light the spark of childhood and could even be carried out by my children if they wish.

The first tradition I started was the back-to-school fairy. This sweet little fairy brings the kids a few little gifts for the beginning of school. My intentions were to have the fairy ring the bell sometime during the evening right before the first day of school. It didn't quite work out that way as my two little curious girls found the packages outside the door before the bell rang. But, that's okay, there was still excitement and wonder as to where the bags came from. Each bag had a letter on it for each girl and a few things inside.

The second tradition I wanted to try out was making a gift for each teacher at the beginning of the year (in addition to the small gifts I created in previous years for Christmas and end of the year). Each gift had a tag that said the teacher's name and I hope you have a colorful year. The girls gave them the gifts on the first day of school.

This was the before shot.
Here is the after shot minus the tag.

Again, the before shot.

And, the after shot minus the tag.

The final tradition I wanted to start for back-to-school was a special breakfast for them. Because they started on different days, it worked out perfectly this year to have their own special breakfast on the morning they started school. They got to sit in mom's seat and have some fun things around them. 

The sign I made for my kindergartener. We took pictures with it the next day before school. The overall view of what she saw the next morning when she went to eat breakfast.
The fun framed sign I made for decoration. I used it for both girls.

 This is what my preschooler saw the morning she got up along with the what I want to be sign for her. I wrote each "what I want to be" in the girls' favorite color. The oldest was pink and the youngest was purple.

Although it was a little rushed in the morning and filled with anxious jitters, it was a good way for each girl to know that they were special and enjoy the thrill of going back to school. I wonder how long the desire to return to school each year will last? :)

 Annual "by the door" photo. I didn't take a picture of her with the "what I want to be" with my phone, so it's not on here, sorry.

Sentimental mom moment: walking my big girl to school. I'm allowed a few of those, right?

Sitting at her table. Excited and ready for the first day. 

Annual "by the door" photo.

Found her cubby. 

Found a friend she knows.

And so begins another year full of learning and fun. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back to School for the YW

For those who don't know, I work with teenage girls at church in a program called Young Women (YW for short). This year, the other leaders and I wanted to get them really excited for a new school year because everyone knows how excited teens are about returning to school! I found this idea on Pinterest which linked me here. This is how some of the items in the back-to-school kit we made turned out and what they looked like when we gave them to the girls today.

I used most of the original sayings, again found here, which were: 

Be a M&M Magnificently Marvelous Example: M&M (This one I changed a bit)
You are writing the story of you life... What does your story tell?: Pen
The decisions you make will effect you now and later: Now and Later 
Sometimes you will make mistakes...: Eraser
just remember the cleansing power of repentance: Almond joy
Be a smartie study hard: Smarties
Stick to you Values even when things get hard: Gum
Remember your great worth: 100 grand
It's important to Laugh: Snickers
Remember you are a daughter of God: Picture of Christ
Love your young women leaders: Kisses

I like to find amazing ideas online and recreate them sometimes making changes to make them my own. This idea came from this Pinterest link and I pretty much used it just how they did it. Please don't credit me for this idea because it was not my own. But they did turn out very cute, so thanks for the idea Holly Davis.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Baby Oil Cleaning

My hubby and I cleaned out our bathroom the other day. We had so many things shoved all over the place that if we wanted to do something like cut hair, we'd have to get the clippers from this spot and the scissors from there and a comb from way over that way. Additionally, we had so many baby items and sadly for me we have no more babies. :( 

As we were cleaning cupboards, we came across several containers of baby oil. I hardly ever used it when my babies were actual babies so we had quite a bit. Not wanting to waste it, I scoured Pinterest for ideas for baby oil. I came across this pin and decided I would try to clean my very scummy bathtub with it. 

To my surprise, it worked! I also read somewhere that used dryer sheets make excellent cleaning clothes so I tried those with the baby oil. It was fine, but a regular towel worked good too. 

Before: UGH!!!

After: YAY!!!

Bubble baths here I come! :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pickled Beets

Remember how I said I liked getting back to the basics of life? Well, for me part of that is being able to provide food and such for my family without having to run to the store every other day. Granted, the closest actual grocery store is about half an hour away so making a trip to town a few times during the week is just not a plausible thing for our family.

Throughout the past few years I have been learning how to and practicing my canning skills. I have done a variety of jams, pickles, tomato products, meat, and pie filling. Yesterday, with the much-appreciated help of little hands, I made 24 pints of pickled beets. That is quite a bit for those who don’t know. It took us 5 hours, but it was fun. I used a recipe from my great grandmother that was passed down to my grandpa and then down to me through a cherished family cookbook. I love the thought of knowing that I am doing and teaching my children the same things my ancestors did. I feel like I can be connected with those loved ones who are angels on the other side in some way.

Though canning is most definitely not a simple process, it is part of my simple lifestyle that I love. If you want to give it a try the recipe is included below. This recipe is probably more special to me because my grandpa grew up on a farm but relocated to Las Vegas. Although he lived in the middle of a city he still held onto his country roots and used this recipe many times to create these sweet pickled beets. Enjoy!

So, I have a great farmer friend who loves pickled beets. A few years ago, he told me that his mom was going to stop canning and thus ending his supply of pickled beets. It just so happened that I was planning on attempting this recipe for my very first time that fall when my beets were done. Ever since then my beet crop has been very small, but I do still try to get him a can or two each year. Well, this year we happened to be out on the farm when he had just picked tons of beets. With my previous offer still out there, I was given a big box and another bag full of beets to can. I still had a bag full of beets in my fridge from my own garden that I was able to add to the mix.

Step 1: Get helping hands! My oldest was such a good helper, and I could not have gotten it done in the 5-hour time span without her help.

 We filled up four pots and still had ½ a box of beets left to wash. I think I need a bigger stove, oh and more pots—ran out of those too. My farmer friend (aka Papa Bruce) said next year he’ll be sure to buy me bigger pots. Thanks for the support Papa Bruce!

 Next came cutting the tops and bottoms off, pealing, and slicing. Yes, that is beet juice all over my counter with another shot of my helper. You’ll see how much fun she had within the next few pictures. She had never tried beets before so she and I ate a couple quite a few of these amazing things. Peeling is quite fun too actually. If they are cooked completely, the skins just slip right off. But it is a messy job…

See, fun stuff, right?

After filling 24 pints worth of jars with beets we added the rest of the ingredients. Then processed them, and this was our end result. That’s a ton of beets! Papa Bruce should be able to make these last a week or two. J

 I’ve been canning for about 4 years and have never had a jar break in the water bath (first picture for those non-canners out there). Imagine my surprise when I lifted the canner lid to find bright red bubbling water with beets floating around. Luckily the break was clean and it was only the bottom that busted without shards of broken glass everywhere. Couldn’t save the beets though. L

Okay, ready to give it a try?

My family recipe for Pickled Beets

3 qts. Beets (enough to fill a three quart pot)
2 c. Vinegar
2 tsp. Salt
1 c. Sugar
2 c. Beet juice
¼ tsp. Mustard seed (in each pint)
2 Cloves (in each pint)

Cut beet tops off, leaving about 1½ inches of the beet top on. Boil the beets about 50 minutes. In a separate pan, place the vinegar, salt, sugar, and beet juice and bring to a boil. Once it begins to boil, turn down the heat. In each pint jar place cut, booked beets and the mustard seeds and cloves. Pour the liquid ingredients into each bottle. Place the flat lid for the pint jars in a pan with a little water. Bring to a boil then turn down. Do not let lids boil! Place the lids onto the pint jars and screw on the metal tops (rings). Place pint jars into pan with rack (so the bottles will not touch the bottom of the pan) and boil for 15 minutes. 


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Beginning

I'll be honest, this is not my first attempt at blogging. I tried once and failed miserably with only 3 posts.  Don't go look for it though; I completely deleted it and decided to try again. I am the type of person who needs to get things out of my head and on paper. The problem is that I usually loose my paper and I have to start over with no clue what used to be on my previous list. Thus, enter this blog. Hopefully I can organize my thoughts for crafting, church, gifts, family, ideas, and anything else I need to keep track of somewhere I cannot loose it. I hope it works!

Title: I love Chris Ledoux's music all thanks to my hubby who is a cowboy through and through. If he had his way we would live on land that is surrounded by more land with no one around. We would farm, ranch, and use horses for transportation. I love his desires to get back to a simple life, but we all know that modern amenities far outweigh any outhouse no matter how many cute Pinterest ideas I could use to spruce it up :) The title of my blog is from a song of Chris Ledoux's that reminds me no matter what I'm doing or going through, sit tall in the saddle and enjoy the ride.

My Job: I come from a line of educators so it is no surprise that I should finally follow my destiny and become an educator despite my stubborn reluctance to ever being a teacher when I was a kid growing up with a teacher mother. I just was not going to put my kids through the pain and agony of being a teacher's kid. Ha! I should have just given in a long time ago, but better late than never. I will be student teach this fall to complete my elementary education degree. After that, I will continue to sub at the local school until a position becomes available. 

My Hobbies: I love to craft. I like finding ideas on Pinterest and making them my own for everything from jewelry to scrapbooking to making my own repurposed clothing and everything in between. I really like making things for others to enjoy especially my kids and my extended family. More recently, I have been able to spend time playing the piano, teaching my kids how to play the piano, and setting up all kinds of fun things for them to do this summer. 

My Family: I have 3 children, 1 husband, and 1 dog. Its a full house for us, but I love it. I would love to add more to the many times chaotic dynamic of my family. But, my hubby thinks we are done. Please note the very clear THINKS in the last sentence... For some reason, I think it will be interesting to see who wins that battle throughout the next few years. 

My Style: I am a city girl who fell in love with a country boy. I love the ideals and traditions of a country lifestyle. The slow pace of rural living (did I really just say my life is slow paced-so not true with 3 small kids, but you know what I mean, right?) really intrigues me. I find that out in the middle of nowhere we can teach our kids to enjoy the roots of what life is all about. We don't have to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a life where there is little time to enjoy the small things in life.

That's me. I hope you enjoy my blog and maybe it will help others who seem to loose their papers full of great ideas and lists of wonderful things to come.