Sunday, January 31, 2016

Books that I read for fun in January 2016

Over the last year and a half, I started documenting the books that I read for fun (and not just for review purposes).  I have decided that I need to continue that as reading is important part of how I relax. Books that I read for fun are books that I have not been asked to review and that I have chosen to read, well because I like to read. In 2015, I read a total of 49 books! This year, 2016, I am aiming to read 52 books

So how did I do in January: 

Well, I did AWESOME!!!! Sickness, dealing with lice, a snow day, and loss of work days meant more days at home and time to escape reality. I read a TON this month. I don't expect to continue this amount all year, but this is a great start! 

FICTION:::

I picked up a couple of Susan Mallery books at the library and let me say that I am hooked. I read her Lone Star Sisters series over the course of a couple days (Under Her Skin, Lip Service, Straight from the Hip, and Hot on her Heels). Let me tell you, I could not put the series down! It was intriguing, funny, and there was a mystery throughout as to why? I would highly recommend her writing. I am currently working my way through her "Fool's Gold" series and I look forward to reading more of her books! 




NON-FICTION:::

I have a goal to expand my reading habits and to try to include at least one non-fiction book each month, to expand my mind and to get me to think about what I read and not just get lost in a good story. 

In January, I chose to read Knit Together: Discover God's Pattern for Your Life by Debbie Macomber. I will admit that it took me several readings to read the entire book. I would say I read it over the span of 2 weeks. Not that it was not good; rather, I purposely made myself read it slowly so that I could think about and reflect upon what she was writing about. I found it to be a great book that was a little bit of a memoir, a little bit of guidance on how we should live, and very inspirational without being overbearing. 




Here are the books I read for fun in:

Books from 2015
Books from 2014


                                                 Have you read any good books lately?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Stomach flu x4

You read that right. 4 of us in our house have been battling the stomach flu.

It started on Sunday, when Benjamin threw up in the morning and then had a little bit of diarhea. By Monday though he seemed to be fine, so we thought maybe it was something he ate....

Monday afternoon, after Rebecca got home, she said her stomach was hurting after lunch. Then she threw up all over the couch.....

Then about half an hour later, Bill started throwing up....

Okay, so I have one sick kid and a sick husband, I can deal with this....

THEN, about 8:30, I started throwing up....

Bill and I were up almost all night Monday night into Tuesday. Thank goodness we have 2 bathrooms. Rebecca thankfully, did not throw up once she went to sleep.

Tuesday morning, Benjamin woke up with diarhea. Only Jacob was unfazed. Sent him to school with a note to teacher to keep an eye on him.

Yesterday, as the day went on Bill started feeling much better. I was very weak and achy and had a fever. Rebecca was also achy. Benjamin kept having diarhea. It seemed to have hit me the hardest for whatever reason.

This morning, I woke up achy but feeling a little better. Kept Benjamin and Rebecca home another day. Both ate breakfast. Hoping this just goes away as fast as it came.

Apparently, it is going around Benjamin's preschool; I know of several other families who have had it. Ughh...


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Crockpot Lasagna Soup...more casserole like....

One of my many unwritten goals this year is to try more new recipes. I feel like we have gotten into a rut with our menu and the kids wanting to eat the same things over and over and over again. So I decided to try and make a new recipe at least 2 times a month. I would ideally like to make a new recipe each week, but I am also a realist and know that that may not happen.
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Well yesterday for dinner I made new recipe #2 for the year:  Crockpot Lasagna Soup. (I originally saw the recipe on Facebook, but the link will take you to the Family Fresh Meals blog that features the recipe.)


This was pretty easy to make and most of the work was done in the Crockpot. I did brown the ground beef before I put it in the Crockpot, although the original recipe said that you did not have too. I am anal about my ground beef being done though, so I had to have it browned before and that way I could drain off the excess grease.

The taste was fabulous. I served it with a little mozzarella and/or cheddar on top and with a side of garlic toast. The only downside was that it was more of a casserole texture than a soup texture. When I make it again (and I will because EVERYONE in my house liked it!), I will either use less noodles or add more liquid when I am cooking it.

Overall, it was a winner in our book and will be added to our winter/cold weather rotation!

Have you made any new recipes lately? 
Where do you find new recipes to make? 

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 OTHER NEW RECIPES TRIED IN 2016:
Crockpot Orange Chicken

Monday, January 25, 2016

What are we eating this week?

One of the things that I want to do in 2016 is to plan our dinner menus weekly and post them here for accountability.Breakfasts are usually yogurt and fruit or cereal and fruit for the kids and Bill and I find whatever we are in the mood for. Lunch is usually something quick for Benjamin (chicken nuggets, corn dog, PB and J) with fruit and leftovers for Bill and I. During the school year, Rebecca and Jacob get free lunch at their school. That leaves dinner for the family....

I started menu planning at the beginning of the year and I will say that with a few exceptions, it has worked!





HOW DID WE DO LAST WEEK???

MONDAY::: Turkey, stuffing, green beans, yams, gravy---YES

TUESDAY::: Taco boats, mexican rice, corn--YES

WEDNESDAY::: Lasagna soup (new recipe) and garlic toast--NOPE-- BUT we ended up moving the Thursday meal to this day, so we had the grilled chicken, chicken rice and peas.

THURSDAY::: grilled chicken, chicken rice, peas--We had this on Wednesday night, I moved Saturdays meal of bratwurst, green beans and pineapple to this night.


FRIDAY::: pizza and fruit--YES

SATURDAY::: bratwurst, green beans and pineapple--We had this on Thursday night, so this became macaroni and cheese for the kids and Bill and I had date night.We used a gift card that one of my tutoring clients had given me...good thing because my dinner was okay at best. Reminded me why we hardly ever go to Jake's restaurant.

SUNDAY::: macaroni and cheese for the kiddos, date night for Bill and I-- We had the lasagna soup (which turned out to be more of a lasagna casserole in the crockpot), after I had to go the tomato paste that I forgot earlier in the week. I will review it later in the week. 

So overall, I will call this week a successful one. I made everything that was on our menu plan even though I had to move a few things around. That is okay. What is important to me is that we are eating better meals than convenience foods and eating fast food. So I will call this past week a successful one! Yahoo!

                    
                   So what are we having this week??

MONDAY::: Ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, carrots

TUESDAY::: Chicken patty sandwiches, waffle fries, pears

WEDNESDAY::: Hamburger helper and peas

THURSDAY::: Fish, Velveeta shells and cheese, broccoli

FRIDAY::: Pizza rolls and fruit

SATURDAY::: Chili and grilled cheese

SUNDAY::: Chicken and cheese casserole and green beans 
 
I tend to make our menus out on Sunday night to go from Monday to Sunday. I usually go to the grocery store one day during the week (usually Wednesday but sometimes another day). I have everything I need for this menu!

Hopefully, I will be able to stick to this plan and can report back success next week! 

Do you menu plan? 
Do you have a favorite dinner to share? 

 


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Just not feeling it

Source
Yeah that is me! LOL I just have been feeling off all week and just kind of meh. Not really sure what is going on. I'm not really depressed. I'm not really consciously anxious about anything. Just feeling meh! There are a lot of things that I need to be doing...laundry, organizing, working on my part-time job, etc. But I just ain't feeling it. I know, I know. I just need to get off my butt and do something but I don't have the motivation. It is cold (thankfully no snow here) and I just don't want to do anything.

Do you ever those kinds of week? 
What do you do to get out of the meh mood?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Love the Skin You're In Lock-in

Saturday night and Sunday morning, Rebecca and I attended her American Heritage Girls troop lock-in. The theme was "Love the Skin You're In." It goes along with the theme that everyone is created beautiful in God's eyes and we need to love who we are because of that. Rebecca had a lot of fun. We had 17 girls from her troop attend and it was a pretty fun evening.

There was team building games....


"I Am...." poetry writing.....


Craft time making an " I Am...." box with affirmations about things they like about themselves....


Team relay racing....


And free time where apparently Rebecca has become an alien! LOL


Overall, Rebecca had a blast. I didn't get very much sleep but that is how it is with lock-ins. We got home around 11:30 on Sunday morning. The boys had had fun at home. They watched football and had man's night. I did end up taking a 3 hour nap on Sunday; I must have needed it. I am glad that Rebecca had a fun time and am glad that I could be there with her.

Monday, January 18, 2016

What are we eating this week?

One of the things that I want to do in 2016 is to plan our dinner menus weekly and post them here for accountability.Breakfasts are usually yogurt and fruit or cereal and fruit for the kids and Bill and I find whatever we are in the mood for. Lunch is usually something quick for Benjamin (chicken nuggets, corn dog, PB and J) with fruit and leftovers for Bill and I. During the school year, Rebecca and Jacob get free lunch at their school. That leaves dinner for the family....

I started menu planning at the beginning of the year and I will say that with a few exceptions, it worked!





HOW DID WE DO LAST WEEK???

MONDAY::: Meatloaf, green beans, augratin potatoes-- YEP

TUESDAY::: Waffles, sausage, and fruit---YEP

WEDNESDAY::: Crockpot orange chicken (new recipe) and rice and green beans-- YEP (This new recipe was a keeper!)

THURSDAY::: Cheese quesadillas, corn, carrots-- YEP

FRIDAY::: Pizza rolls and fruit-- YEP

SATURDAY::: Chicken patties/chicken wings ??? (Bill is home with the boys, as I have a lock-in to attend with Rebecca-- so this is the plan, unless he decides to order pizza or something)--NOPE-- Bill ordered pizza and wings. I knew he would but wish he wouldn't have.

SUNDAY::: Lasagna and garlic bread-- YEP

So overall, a great week for menu planning, unless you count Saturday night as a failure. I say it is what it is, so just deal. I knew in the back of my mind that he would order pizza...like I said, it is what it is. Onward to this cold, cold, COLD week! 

So what are we having this week??

MONDAY::: Turkey, stuffing, green beans, yams, gravy

TUESDAY::: Taco boats, mexican rice, corn

WEDNESDAY::: Lasagna soup (new recipe) and garlic toast

THURSDAY::: grilled chicken, chicken rice, peas


FRIDAY::: pizza and fruit

SATURDAY::: bratwurst, green beans and pineapple

SUNDAY::: macaroni and cheese for the kiddos, date night for Bill and I
 
I tend to make our menus out on Sunday night to go from Monday to Sunday. I usually go to the grocery store one day during the week (usually Wednesday but sometimes another day). I have everything I need for this menu, except for hot dog buns for Saturday. 

Hopefully, I will be able to stick to this plan and can report back success next week! 

Do you menu plan? 
Do you have a favorite dinner to share? 

 


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Tried a new recipe: Crockpot Orange Chicken

One of my many unwritten goals this year is to try more new recipes. I feel like we have gotten into a rut with our menu and the kids wanting to eat the same things over and over and over again. So I decided to try and make a new recipe at least 2 times a month. I would ideally like to make a new recipe each week, but I am also a realist and know that that may not happen.

Well yesterday for dinner I made new recipe #1 for the year: Crockpot Orange Chicken.


I first saw the recipe on facebook, and the original recipe that I followed can be found at The Frugal Girls.com. I loved that it was only 4 ingredients. The only thing I had to buy was the marmalade.

Overall, I thought it was really good. I served it over rice and with green beans on the side. Bill had 2 helpings and said I need to add it to our repertoire of recipes. I also liked how simple it was to make.

I will definitely be making this again!

Have you tried any new recipes lately?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Fun in the snow yesterday


Yesterday the kids had a snow day off from school....so after Bill came home from work, we bundled everybody up and headed outside to enjoy the snow.


It was so cold, with wind chills in the single digits. The wind was fiercely cold, so we were only out about half an hour or so. The kids had a blast throwing snowballs and making snow angels.




Rebecca tried to make a snow fort but Benjamin kept taking all her snow.


I didn't get a picture of it, but Benjamin kept trying to make a snow angel, but instead of having his legs and arms on the ground, he would put them up in the air. Silly boy! When all was said and done, we came in and I made hot chocolate, with marshmallows, for everyone. It was a fun distraction for a bit!

Do you have snow where you are? 
What is your favorite "snow" activity?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Snow day today and lice


Last night I went to bed with the knowledge that they were calling for snow overnight and that I might have  tricky commute to get Ben to school this morning. Well I woke up around 3 and didn't see much snow on the ground so I thought maybe they were wrong. Around 5:30 I was awoken by my cell phone going off with a message that the schools were on a 2 hour delay. Okay so I reset my alarm and went back to sleep. Around 7am, just as Bill was getting ready to leave for work, I got another message saying that schools were closed for the day. Which means a SNOW DAY today! (Figures absolutely no snow and warm temperatures over Christmas and now we get freezing weather and snow!).


I will admit that the snow is pretty to look at. We got several inches and it is still snowing off and on as I type this up. The temperature is supposed to drop later today so am not sure if the kids will be able to go out and play or not.


The birds on the porch are happy that I refilled the bird feeder yesterday!


IN OTHER NEWS....

Source


.... we have been dealing with lice at our house. I discovered lice on Rebecca's hair on Friday and we have been dealing with it since then. After using the over the counter stuff (NIX), I was still finding live lice. She can't go back to school until there are no more live lice. I called her doctor yesterday and they called her in a topical prescription, because apparently lice have become resistant to over the counter meds. I put it on her hair this morning and it has to stay on her hair for 10-12 hours before we can wash it out. All I have been doing the last few days is nit-picking, laundry, nit picking, laundry, nit picking, laundry, etc. Thankfully (and fingers-crossed) no one else has any. I really hope and pray no one else gets any. This has been a nightmare. I keep telling Rebecca that I am not upset with her, just frustrated at the annoyance. We think she have have picked it up either at school or at a lock-in that she attended at the YMCA where the girls were doing each other hair and sharing hair bows, etc. Uggh...I so hope this medicine works, because I am at my wits end.

Well I need to go and do more laundry and cleaning.

What fun stuff are you up to today? 
What's the weather like where you are?

Monday, January 11, 2016

What are we eating this week?



One of the things that I want to do in 2016 is to plan our dinner menus weekly and post them here for accountability.Breakfasts are usually yogurt and fruit or cereal and fruit for the kids and Bill and I find whatever we are in the mood for. Lunch is usually something quick for Benjamin (chicken nuggets, corn dog, PB and J) with fruit and leftovers for Bill and I. During the school year, Rebecca and Jacob get free lunch at their school. That leaves dinner for the family....

I started menu planning last week and I will say that with a few exceptions, it worked!

Here is how we did last week:

MONDAY:::  Chili and grilled cheese sandwiches-- We ended up having the fish, rice and broccoli, that was planned for Tuesday, this night as I had to tutor late.

TUESDAY::: Fish, rice and broccoli-- We had the chili and grilled cheese from Monday. I wasn't feeling all that well, but hubby helped make the grilled cheese.

WEDNESDAY::: Hot dogs on buns with chili sauce and baked beans-- YEP (minus the chili sauce)

THURSDAY::: Hamburger helper and peas-- YES

FRIDAY::: Frozen pizza and fruit salad-- YES (the fruit salad ended up being blueberries that were on sale at our store)

SATURDAY::: BBQ Chicken (in the crockpot) sandwiches, green beans, and corn-- This ended up being bbq pork sandwiches as I didn't get up in time to put the chicken in the crockpot. The pork came from the freezer though so it is still a win in my book.

SUNDAY::: Macaroni and cheese for the kids. Date night for hubby and I.--kids had mac and cheese and applesauce. Hubby and I were going to use a gift card for Jake's restaurant, but the snowy weather meant neither of us wanted to drive to get food, so we ordered subs from the pizza place across the street and Bill went to get them! 

So overall, a great week of menu planning. We moved 2 dinners around and I did switch up the meat for one meal with something else from the freezer, but I still had a plan! Made our otherwise crazy week, go a little smoother.

NOW ON TO THIS WEEK::::

What will we be eating???

MONDAY::: Meatloaf, green beans, augratin potatoes

TUESDAY::: Waffles, sausage, and fruit

WEDNESDAY::: Crockpot orange chicken (new recipe) and rice and green beans

THURSDAY::: Cheese quesadillas, corn, carrots

FRIDAY::: Pizza rolls and fruit

SATURDAY::: Chicken patties/chicken wings ??? (Bill is home with the boys, as I have a lock-in to attend with Rebecca-- so this is the plan, unless he decides to order pizza or something)

SUNDAY::: Lasagna and garlic bread

I tend to make our menus out on Sunday night to go from Monday to Sunday. I usually go to the grocery store one day during the week (usually Wednesday but sometimes another day). I have everything I need for this menu, except for garlic bread for Sunday. 

Hopefully, I will be able to stick to this plan and can report back success next week! 

Do you menu plan? 
Do you have a favorite dinner to share? 

 


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Thankful Sunday

Source
Today is Sunday and I have decided that today is the day that I will be taking advantage of being present with my family and not being online. (I am writing this on Saturday night to be posted on Sunday morning.) With that being said, I would like to also take this opportunity to be thankful for all the blessings in my life.

I am thankful that my husband stepped up to the plate this week and helped out a lot when I wasn't feeling good. He made dinner a couple nights and cleaned up late Friday night for me. 

I am thankful that my kids get a kick out of watching birds on my bird feeder that they painted for me last Mother's Day. There are times we have 25+ birds on our front porch. 

I am thankful that we have a working washer and dryer and hot water.

I am thankful for my dad. He gave Bill and I a gift this week that we were totally not expecting. 

So on this Sunday, I have so much to be thankful for and have many blessings in my life. So I am going to go and enjoy those blessings and be PRESENT to my family! 

Have a great Sunday everyone!  
What are you thankful for today?  

Thursday, January 7, 2016

I need to get stuff done


Source

The last few days I have not felt well--coughing, low energy, Aunt Flo showed up for the week, etc. I have gotten the necessities done (with Bill's help!), but things are starting to pile up and annoy me. Today is the day I NEED to get stuff done...if only for my sanity.

These are the things that I want to get done:
  • Laundry--- We have at least 4 loads to do, probably more. 
  • Clean up mud room/ pantry-- need to figure out new system for coats, gloves, etc. 
  • Straighten up kitchen-- put dishes away, sweep, wipe down counters
  • Empty all trash from upstairs and downstairs bathrooms
  • Go through newspapers and pull extras aside for Mom
  • Finish putting away Christmas decorations-- need to pack up kids' trees from their bedrooms
I am sure there are more things to do, but this will at least keep me busy for a while.... Now if I could just find the energy to get started :)

What do you have on your to-do list today? 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

I really need to expand my travels

Earlier today I was on facebook and I saw that several of my friends had posted maps of all the states in the USA that they had visited. I have one friend who only needs to visit 4 states to have visited them all. I know that I am in the minority in that I have not visited very many states at all. Growing up we never really went on vacations until I was a teenager. Then we could only go places where we could drive, as my mother refuses to fly in an airplane.

So after seeing where others have been, I decided to see what my map looked like.....



Create Your Own Visited States Map


My map is definitely a lot smaller than others. But that is okay. I do hope to expand my travel area in the future; I have several places that I would like to visit on my bucket list that would add states to my map. These include the Baseball Hall of Fame (New York), the Georgia Aquarium (Georgia), the Grand Canyon (Arizona), Lambeau Field (Wisconsin), whale watching in Alaska, among other places. This year we are hoping to take a vacation to one of the states that we have already been to but love, so it doesn't look like I will be adding any new states to the list this year.

How many states have you been to? 
What state would you most like to visit but haven't? 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Day of rest update, chest cold, tutoring update and CT results

Source

On Sundays I have decided to take a day of rest from social media (for the most part). This includes facebook, blogs, pinterest, etc. I might check my email once Sunday night due to my tutoring business, but I will do so from my phone so there is no temptation to hop on facebook or other sites.

Sunday was the first one of the new year and let me say, I think I am addicted way more than I thought!

Sunday morning, I took the kids to their PSR class (Religion class at our church) and after I dropped them off, I decided to check facebook. I know that I said that I wouldn't at all, but the goal is to be more present with my family and friends, and the kids were in class and no one that I knew was in the gym where I was sitting and waiting. Well I was on there for about 10 minutes or so and a friend showed up. So I turned my phone off and we sat and chatted for the rest of the time. After we came home, there were several many  times during the day that I was like I should check facebook or I felt like I was missing something. But you know what, I wasn't. If there is an emergency and someone needs to get a hold of me, they can call or text. If there is something that I need to see online, well my Dear Hubby can tell me about it.

So what did I do instead? Well... I took a 4 hour nap in the afternoon. I am developing a chest cold thing, so I really did need to rest. I watched some football with Bill and the kids. I colored in my adult coloring book a little. I went to bed early because I had an awful headache. I really didn't do much of anything significant. Bill did some laundry and he fed the kiddos dinner.

I am hoping that this chest cold just goes away and doesn't get any worse. I am back to tutoring this week and the kids are back in school, so I really don't need to be sick. Speaking of tutoring, I worked myself out of a job with one client. She has asked that we take a break from tutoring for her son until Summer as he is doing well right now. That is my goal, ultimately, when I start working with each client, but it still means that I am down a client (until Summer). I am thankful she is still interested in Summer tutoring.

In other really good news....Jacob's CT scan came back as normal!! I am relieved that at least we have crossed anything physical off as to the reasons he is falling. So we see his doctor again in 2 weeks and we are going to pursue genetic testing and seeing if he is on the ASD spectrum. I am just thankful today that his scan came back as normal!

Do you feel like you have to constantly be connected online or to facebook? 
How do you maintain a balance with your online needs and your real-life needs?

Monday, January 4, 2016

What are we going to eat this week?



In the past, I have tried to follow different menu planning themes only to lose interest in following their format after a couple of weeks. Well, this past year, I have menu planned off and on. The weeks that I menu planned, our lives seemed to run much smoother. The weeks that I didn't menu plan, we ate out more, spent more money and I felt discombobulated. So one of the things that I want to do in 2016 is to plan our menus weekly and post them here for accountability.

Breakfasts are usually yogurt and fruit or cereal and fruit for the kids and Bill and I find whatever we are in the mood for. Lunch is usually something quick for Benjamin (chicken nuggets, corn dog, PB and J) with fruit and leftovers for Bill and I. That leaves dinner....

So the question is: What's for dinner this coming week??

MONDAY:::  Chili and grilled cheese sandwiches

TUESDAY::: Fish, rice and broccoli

WEDNESDAY::: Hot dogs on buns with chili sauce and baked beans

THURSDAY::: Hamburger helper and peas

FRIDAY::: Frozen pizza and fruit salad

SATURDAY::: BBQ Chicken (in the crockpot) sandwiches, green beans, and corn

SUNDAY::: Macaroni and cheese for the kids. Date night for hubby and I. 

I tend to make our menus out on Sunday night to go from Monday to Sunday. I usually go to the grocery store one day during the week (usually Wednesday but sometimes another day). I have everything I need for this menu, except for hamburger buns for Saturday. 

Hopefully, I will be able to stick to this plan and can report back success next week! 

Do you menu plan? 
Do you have a favorite dinner to share? 

 


F. A. Seiberling Nature Realm

After a great night's sleep at our hotel, we headed down to their free breakfast. The standard fare was offered... cereal, toast, eggs, ...