Monday, January 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday – 1/25

It’s a short menu this week since the kids and my hubby will be going out of town this weekend.  While they’re gone, I may try a new recipe or two.  Or, more realistically, I’ll just fend for myself from the pantry/freezer/fridge for the weekend since I don’t “have” to cook.

Monday – Asian Chicken Salad (recipe below) with breadsticks

Tuesday – Spaghetti (with sauce from the freezer), salad, and yeast rolls (I’ll make a big batch of rolls and freeze the leftovers for later meals.)

Wednesday – Chili (E has dance classes – 3 of them – on Wednesday’s so we eat from the crock pot.)  I’ll have tortilla chips and crackers on hand to be served with the chili. 


Asian Chicken Sesame Salad (originally found on Slim Fast website)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Serves: 4


  • 6 cups lettuce, romaine, chopped
  • 1 pound chicken breast, boneless/skinless, raw
  • 1/4 cup onion, green, chopped
  • 11 ounces mandarin oranges, canned in juice, drained
  • 1/4 cup almonds, roasted, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chow mein noodles
  • 1/2 cup Wishbone® Light Asian Vinaigrette


    1. Grill and thinly slice the chicken breasts. 2. Toast almonds. 3. On serving platter, arrange lettuce, then top with chicken, green onions and oranges. Sprinkle with almonds and chow mein noodles, then drizzle with Wish-Bone® Light Asian Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette Dressing.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Weekly To-Do List 1/25-1/29

To Do List


  • prep for school
  • bake bread
  • laundry
  • submit job application
  • clean game room


  • grocery shopping
  • send pics to Walmart to be printed


  • library
  • Emma’s dance class
  • socks for dance team


  • Emma’s dance class
  • laundry (again)
  • make room for new furniture
  • move our bed to Isaac’s room


  • pack for the kids to go to visit grandparents for the weekend
  • make Emma’s wreath


  • new furniture will be delivered today
  • sew initials on dance team leotards
  • make Valentine’s wreath


  • Mom’s Night Out (WOOHOO!!!)
  • pic up pictures from Walmart and put them in album
  • grocery shopping before kids come home

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Week in Review 1.10-1.16

Another week in review from the Zoo Keeper...

Sunday 1.10 Yummy!! I LOVE HOMEMADE BREAD!! I bake it several times a week. I don’t buy store-bought sandwich bread anymore. I even tried a cinnamon raisin bread this week that was fabulous! I will post my sandwich bread recipe in another post.

Monday 1.11 ~ Isaac reading ~ I love to see the kids “plop” down with a good book and read, read, read! Here he is reading The Extraordnary Adventures of Alfred Kropp.

Tuesday 1.12 ~ Emma at the library ~ Our home away from home – the library! We never have less than 50 books checked out between Isaac, Emma, myself, and our school books. We visit the library at least once a week.

Wednesday 1.13 YAY!! My Project Life scrapbook/album by Becky Higgins arrived today. This is where I will store my pictures and tell my stories this year!I have been so excited for this to arrive!

Thursday 1.14 I ALWAYS have a HUGE stack of books waiting for me on my nightstand. Some I am reviewing for various publishers, some I am previewing before I assign them to the kids, and the rest are pleasure books.

Friday 1.15 ~ The boys left tonight for a weekend of Disciple Now. They were broken into to age/gender groups and assigned a “host home”. They met at the church throughout the weekend for worship and other activities. Back at the hose home, they held Bible studies and small discussion groups. Both were very excited to go!

Saturday 1.16 ~ Day out with Emma ~ Since the boys were gone, Matt and I spent the day with Emma. Emma started her day at dance team rehearsal. Afterwards, we took her to Gymboree to pick up a couple of new outfits. Then, we headed to JoAnn fabric where I purchased fabric to make a curtain for her room (and picked up a few supplies for some dance team projects). Then, we took her to Target to get a treat out of the dollar spot (a purple cell phone) and a snack for the movies. To end our “Emma day”, we took her to the movies to see The Princess and the Frog. We all really enjoyed the movie. Instead of a picture for today, I will add her ticket stubs and a Gymboree tag to our scrapbook.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Burlap Wreath

After seeing this wreath featured on Tatertots and Jello, I decided I must make one for my house. I love it! I followed the tutorial found on her site. Here’s how mine turned out.


I wanted to display mine inside instead of outside. So, I chose fabrics that would match my decor. I chose chocolate brown burlap – which I found on sale for $1/yard!! I then chose fabrics that featured reds, browns, and creams to match my furniture/fabrics.

7 1 2 3 4 5

I started out with a 14” straw wreath that I found at JoAnn’s for $2. For the brads, I used pewter mini-squares that were on sale at Hobby Lobby. I had the mini clothespins on hand as well as the ribbon. I inked the clothespins and paper with brown ink. The wreath cost less than $10 total to make. Even better than the cost is the fact that this project took about 4 hours from start to finish! Now, I’m thinking Emma needs a pink one in her room with polka dots, stripes, and lots of tulle!!

I linked this with Making the World Cuter.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Project life (my 365 album)

Well, I'm still patiently waiting for my Project Life album to arrive. The shipment was pushed back. It should have arrived Saturday, and it is now scheduled to be delivered tomorrow.

While I wait, I've been checking out ideas to use in my album. Jessica, at Mom Creative, has started a weekly link-up where others participating in Project Life 2010 are posting their "week in review" pictures/stories. (Please note, you do not have to use your album as a 365 album. I've blogged about other ways I intend to use this in the future. Check out that info here.)

I like this idea of linking to Jessica's blog, though. It keeps me accountable - no, I'm not obligated - but it keeps me motivated to stay on top of my photos and allows me a chance to document my stories (in case I don't have time to journal in my album during a particular week.) I'm hoping this will deter burn-out by keeping me excited to look for everyday opportunites to document. I'm also hoping it will inspire me to think outside the box in some of my photos. For instance, I photographed my homemade bread yesterday (which will show up in next week's review post). While this is something I do several times a week, it's not something I've ever deemed important enough to photograph or blog about. However, it really is a part of our "every day" life.

Since my family lives cross-country, they don't see our "daily life". And, since they visit us here in TX just a few time a year, I thought this would be a good motivation for staying on top of the "week in review" blog posts. This way, our families can know what goes on in our everyday life. It also serves as conversation starters when the grandparents call. When there is a lull in the conversation, they can talk about something they've seen on the blog. It sure beats the "I don't know" they will likely encounter when they ask "So, what have you been up to this week?" I've begun posting our seeks in review such as our 12.27.09 week in review or our 1.3.10 week in review. **Just a note, I plan to document our weeks from Sunday through Saturday. Because the first week of the new year actually started with the end of 2009, my first few pics are from the last week of 09.**

Can you tell I'm a bit excited about my year-long project?

To see what others photographed this week visit The Mom Creative here.

Week in Review 1.3-1.9

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1.3.10 ~ Isaac and Emma love to pop some popcorn, grab the pillows off my bed, and watch a movie on my bedroom floor in the evenings.  I love that they get along so well!  She really looks up to him, and he really takes care of her.

1.4.10 ~ The treadmill – Isaac and Emma both wanted to learn to use the treadmill.  So, I decided to make it a regular part of their school day.  Wonder how long the “wonder” will last?  Not long if they’re anything like their momma!!

1.5.10 ~ I took Isaac and Emma to the Dallas Museum of Art.  It was the first time any of us had been to an art museum.  You can read more about our visit here. 

1.7.10 ~ I got my new camera lens in the mail today.  Somewhere between Gulf Shores, AL and home back in June, I broke the lens on my Nikon camera.  I have used a crummy point and shoot since then.  After Christmas, I decided I’d gone long enough with mediocre pictures.  It finally arrived!!

1.8.10 ~ Logan got the “hard copy” of his driver’s license in the mail.  He’s had a paper copy since his birthday last month.  Can you see how excited he is?!?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Menu Planning Monday

Meal Plan Monday

Here’s what we’ll be eating this week…

Monday:  Chicken Noodle Casserole

Tuesday:  Pulled BBQ sandwiches w/ chips

Wednesday:  Bean burritos (using this refried bean recipe), chips/salsa

Thursday: Sloppy joes, homemade fries

Friday:  left overs

Saturday: Hubby is cooking something???

Sunday: Chicken Noodle Soup (new)

For more menu planning ideas, check out I’m an Organizing Junkie

Week in Review 12/27-1/2

As part of my goal to FOCUS on my family, I set a goal to photograph my family every day of this year. I’ve done pretty good about taking a picture about 6 days a week so far. I’m hoping to do better throughout the year. What a great way for me to chronicle our everyday life!

Here’s a look at the last week of 2009 and the beginning of 2010…

If you click "play" this will open in another screen. You will then be able to enlarge each individual picture to see it better.

Click to play this Smilebox collage: 12.27.09-1.2.10
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12.27.09 ~ Matt refinished a desk we had in the living room. All of our furniture is black/white. He brought in a brown desk with the promise of painting it black – last summer. Better late than never, huh?

12.28.09 ~ Logan got his braces off after 39 months!!

12.29.09 ~ We got enough snow for Isaac and Emma to build a snow blob snowman.

12.30.09 ~ We spent a our two-week Christmas break RELAXING!! It was so nice. This was the first year we didn’t travel to visit family, and we missed them. But, we really enjoyed the down time.

12.31.09 ~ We went to the neighbors’ house for a New Year’s Eve party. Emma loved being able to stay up late, but it took her a few days to get “right” with her sleep again.

1.1.10 ~ Matt and Logan spent many long hours putting together 2 big puzzles over Christmas break.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

FOCUS ~ Family Time Coupons

After reading Candace’s post about creating coupons for her family, I was inspired to create my own.  I made a book for each child.  In their coupon books the have coupons they can redeem for the following:

  • date w/ mom x2
  • date w/ dad x2
  • baking w/ mom
  • baking w/ dad
  • pick out movie for family movie night x2
  • Family Fun Day outing the month of their birthday
  • a day of Christmas shopping w/ Daddy or myself
  • choosing the craft for family craft night x2

They were very excited to receive these.  In order to make sure they actually get their “days”, we sat down at the table with my planner and wrote everything down for January. 

So, for this month, Isaac has a date with me.  We are going out for lunch at a local Mexican restaurant.  He has talked about this for days.  It almost makes me sad that I didn’t place a greater emphasis on this sooner.  But, it’s what we are doing now that counts.  Logan and Matt are going to see Avatar at some point this month (they both balked at writing a date on the calendar).  And, Emma is choosing this month’s craft. 

I bought the kids a Christmas tree after Christmas this year.  It will go in their playroom next Christmas.  I picked up ornaments in lots of fun bright colors for their tree.  And, I also thought it would be neat to have them make ornaments to put on the tree.  So, 6 times this year the kids will take turns picking an ornament to make.  I have saved TONS of pictures and tutorials from the blogs I read.  I will print these out and put them in a folder.  The week before “craft night” this month’s “chooser” will pick which one we will make.  I will then gather supplies and have them ready for craft night.  My plan is for each of the five of us to make at least two ornaments each each month.  That will be 10 each month.  I hope that we can use these for gifts next Christmas for their friends and cousins.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Baby Love Letter 112

Love Letter 112 *******************************************************************

What are your child’s favorite things?

Logan has had many “favorites” over the years.  Some bring back such fond memories.

Pooh Bear ~ Logan used to carry Pooh Bear wherever he went.  He would carry him upside down by one leg.  As he sucked his thumb, he would tickle his face with the tag.  Oh, the memories that conjures up.

  Pooh Bear

Hot Wheels ~ Oh, the hours I spent playing Hot Wheels with Logan when he was younger.  He would “drive” his cars around his car rug for HOURS!!

Hot Wheels

Ipod/Cell Phone ~ At 16, these are Logan’s favorite “toys”!  Not so many fond memories of these toys, unless being ignored by a teenager with ear buds in and his thumbs moving 90 mph across a cell phone keyboard can be considered “fond” moments.  LOL!!

Isaac’s favorite toys

Rescue Heroes ~ These were a HUGE favorite when he was younger.  He had the action figures, vehicles, and movies!  It was a sad day when he sold all of his RH in our yard sale.

Rescue Heroes

Legos ~ These are a current favorite.  He particularly enjoys the building sets, not the “plain” Legos.  He loves the Star Wars Legos, cityscape Legos.  He just bought himself this pirate ship with Christmas money…

Lego Pirate Ship

Star Wars ~ Another current favorite of Isaac’s.  He usually brings these with him to the dance studio to play with his friends while Emma is in class. 

Emma’s favorite toys;

Littlest Pet Shops ~ Oh, I’ve never seen such a collection!!  It grows and grows and grows.  She spends most of her allowance on Pet Shops.  She asks for them for birthdays and Christmas.  If I would let her, she would prefer to have a Pet Shop bedroom.  (She asked, I answered – NO!!)

Pet Shops

American Girl dolls ~ I bought her the Bitty Twins for her 4th birthday, and she has collected them ever since.  She currently has four, and has circled most of the dolls in the catalog as ones she wants.  I love watching her play with her dolls.  She has recently gotten interested in reading the stories that come with each doll, as well.


BOOKS ~ She can’t read enough.  She can never have enough books.  Emma’s always got her nose buried in a book!  She reads like – well, like her momma.  She always has two or three books that she’s reading at a time.  She sleeps with books like most kids sleep with stuffed animals - I mean with piles of books around her as she sleeps. 

Friday, January 8, 2010

Book 2 – 52 in 52

The second book I read for the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge was The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya SisterhoodI know it’s been around for a while, and it’s one I’ve been meaning to read for a while.  I found a copy for sale at the library and picked it up.  I enjoyed it, and I may rent the movie one of these days.  Not sure.  I’m really not a movie person.

I’m currently reading Hole in Our Gospel (another review for Thomas Nelson Publishers) and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (from the top 25 Book Blogger suggestions list). 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Isaac’s Book 1 – 52 in 52

Isaac decided to join me in my reading challenge.  I bet he can read 52 books this year!  His first book was Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw. Every time we would go to the library, he would try to find this book series.  It was always checked out.  So, we bought him the first two books for Christmas.  He got the third in the series Monday at the library, and he finished it last night (Tuesday).  He’s currently waiting on book four to come in at the library. 

Book 1 – 52 in 52 Challenge

I read (and reviewed for Thomas Nelson Publishers) The Sweet By and By. You can read what I thought of it here. This is book one of my 52 books in 52 weeks challenge.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Field Trip – Dallas Museum of Art

Today I took the kids to the DMA. I’ve never been to an art museum before.  We really enjoyed ourselves.  We were able to recognize some art from our artist studies, and we were able to view some art from artists we will study later in the year.  It’s amazing the wide variety of “art” out there.  Emma and Isaac are total opposites on their “likes” in art.  Emma (like her momma) likes “realistic” art.  She loved the Degas ballerinas (no surprise there).  She liked the pieces where she could “tell” what the artist was trying to “say”.  Isaac, on the other hand, liked all the “outside the box” art.  He loved the abstract stuff.  His quote of the day was “I like to look at art (meaning paintings) but not make it myself". He much prefers to create sculptures and build with Legos.  I assured him that Lego sculptures could certainly be considered art.  When you use your imagination to create something it’s art. 

My favorite part of the day, by far, was watching Emma.  She is the resident “artist” (as she puts it) in the house.  She is constantly drawing, painting, sketching, etc.  All.the.time!!  She took her sketch pad to the museum today in case she was “inspired”  And, she was.  There were a few pieces she sketched to look like the original (like a Degas ballerina).  Other times she just got an “idea” and had to put it on paper.  After walking through a few rooms of antique furniture, for example, she sat down to draw a desk with a quill and an ink jar on it.  It was just precious watching her.  And, I must say that Isaac was a very patient big brother today as we indulged Emma in her need to draw.


My shopping bag.  Didn’t see a sign with the name on it (and it was cold so I didn’t look too hard).  So, I took a pic of my bag…


Yep, she just plopped herself down on the floor to draw when she was “inspired”. 


This is where she’s sketching a desk with a vase of flowers on it (after the quill/ink).


My sweeties!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

365 Photography Goal

FOCUS.  Remember that word?  It’s my word of the year.  One of the things I want to focus on is my family.  Sounds like a “duh”, huh?  Well, obviously, as a homeschool mom I do focus on my family, right?  Well, kind of.  I focus on what needs to be done.  I don’t always focus on my family as a unit.  What’s that mean?  It means I get the chores done, errands run, and food cooked.  I get school work done and kids to classes/practices.  But, sometimes I get so focused on those parts of “family” life that I forget to FOCUS on us. 

In an effort to focus more on “us”, I have set a goal to create a “365 Album” this year.  My goal is to photograph my family – events, moments, and everyday stuff – every day this year.  I found this awesome scrapbook/photo album to help me organize all these photos.  If you knew me years ago, you know how “into” scrapping I was.  That, however, was before Emma was born, and I learned to sew.  Then, I found a new passion.  I didn’t lose my desire to photograph everything, I just lost my desire to scrap those pics.  So, where are they?  On CD’s!!!  I don’t print them, because I don’t scrap them. 

That’s about to change, though.  My goal is (as soon as my album arrives) to edit and print my photos once a week.  Then, I’ll sit down one evening each week and journal the photos from the previous week and put them in my album.  As I edit my photos, I’ll also upload them to my blog in a “week in review” post so my friends and family can keep up-to-date with our family fun.  I’m excited to see this come to fruition over the course of the year. I’m excited to FOCUS on my everyday, ordinary, “just mine” family!!

**And, because I am always one step ahead of myself like to plan ahead … I’m already thinking about other ways I could use this album.  Of course, I would have to order more, but that’s OK.  I’m thinking I want one to put all of our Disney pictures in one.  This way, I can tell all of my stories, but I don’t have to embellish or cut any paper!  I’m also thinking about doing one for Emma’s dance years.  I’m thinking about a 2-page spread for each recital (so far she’s been in three) and a 2-page spread for each competitive dance season (this is our first).  As I said, I am getting way ahead of myself here just thinking aloud…**

Monday, January 4, 2010

Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge

In conjunction with the 52 Books challenge, I decided to try out the Book Blogger Recommendation challenge as well. 33 bloggers came together to compile a list of over 200 of their favorite books. Here is a list of the top 25 (borrowed from Reading with Tequila):

The following information I borrowed from Tequila's blog:

The Top 25
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling
City of Bones - Cassandra Clare
Twilight - Stephenie Meyer
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Graceling - Kristin Cashore
Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
Eragon - Christopher Paolini
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
The Host - Stephenie Meyer
The Thorn Birds - Colleen McCullough
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
The Clan of the Cave Bear - Jean M. Auel
The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
11 Minutes - Paulo Coelho
Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer

Of these, I've read 4 (all the Stephenie Meyer books and The Book Thief). The complete list can be found here.

The first ten I plan to read follow:

  1. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
  2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling (Isaac will be so happy!)
  3. Graceling - Kristin Cashore
  4. Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
  5. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
  6. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
  7. Eragon - Christopher Paolini
  8. The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley
  9. Sloppy Firsts - Megan McCafferty
  10. The Red Tent - Anita Diamant
You can read the challenge rules and sign up here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks...

So, last year I set a goal to read 100 books. I didn't accomplish that goal. I read about 50 books. However, if I had counted books I read aloud to the kids, I would have met it. I saw a post about this challenge, and I decided it was much more reasonable for this busy mom. So, basically it boils down to reading a book a week for the year. If you're interested in this challenge, sign up here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Book Review - The Sweet By and By

What a fabulous read! I have listened to Sara Evans for years as a country music artist. I had never heard of Rachel Hauck until this book. I will definitely be looking for more reads by these authors.

Jade is looking for "real" love. As she works through relationships with her soon-to-be mother-in-law, her fiance, her estranged parents, and a past love, she is surprised when she meets the One who shows her what relationships are really about.

Soon after starting this book, I was captivated. I didn't want to put it down. As a matter of fact, I put away the other book I was reading so I could read this one. The characters come to life in this story of love, honesty, and redemption - from God and the ones we love! The trials the characters faced in this story are so real. This story could easily be about you and me. If you are looking for a quick, light read with a good message be sure to pick this one up!

I received this book from the publisher at no cost with the purpose of providing a review. I am a member of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program. For more information follow this link:

NaBloPoMo – January 2


Ok, so as usual, I’m a late. I’m here, though, and that’s what counts. Right? What is NaBloPoMo? It stands for National Blog Posting Month. The goal is to post everyday on your blog for the entire month. Not sure I have that many interesting things to talk about, but I thought I’d give it a try. This month’s official theme is BEST. However, you don’t have to stick to the theme in your posts. Which is a good thing for me. How many BESTS can there be? Or, as my word of the year has me FOCUS on different areas in my life, maybe BEST is what I should blog about. Hmmm… Lots to think about as I endeavor to write a post each day this month…

Friday, January 1, 2010

Word for 2010

Clip Art Graphic of a Red Love Heart Cartoon Character

My word for the year 2010 is FOCUS. Last year was a tough year for me. After our move from Cinci to Texas, I turned into a “turtle”. I climbed in my shell and hung out there by myself for the better part of the year. I lost focus, and couldn’t focus on anything.

In short, I feel God is calling me to focus on the following things:

  • HIM – I plan to do this in a few ways. I plan to attend the membership class at church with Matt, and we will join the church we have attended since moving to TX. I also plan to read through my One Year Bible this year.
  • FAMILY – I plan to do this by utilizing our coupon books (more on these later) which entitle the kids to choose an activity each week or a “date” with Matt or myself. I’m also going to work on a “365” scrapbook which will help me focus on my family in an “everyday” way – not just focusing on events.
  • ME – I am clearing off the treadmill, and I’m planning to run a 5K each month this year with my aunt, sister, and two boys. I am also looking into some “work” related things. One is getting my sewing business back to where it was when we moved. Also this year, I will train to become a Disney travel agent. If you have any future plans to travel to Disney, let me know!!

I’m open to anything the Lord calls me to focus on. For now, he’s got me hard at work on the list above.