Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January is almost outta here!

Wow.  What a quick month it has been!  Basketball season has certainly kept this family hopping.  Between Amelia's practices and games, and Madison's games, our schedule is pretty full.  I won't know what to do with myself once the season ends.  Well, I take that back.  Madison's travel softball season will be getting in full force, and Amelia is wanting to play soccer or softball.  I think we have one day to decide and get signed up.  Cari is thinking about gymnastics, and Matthew wants to play baseball, but I'm not sure if he's old enough yet.  My head is spinning - but what's new? :)

Basketball has not been too kind to Madison this year.  She left one game and headed to ER for CT scan for a possible concussion (thankfully, there wasn't) after two hard hits to the floor, and on two separate occasions, we've visited the orthopedist to make sure ankles were not broken.  No breaks but two sprained ankles.  She did get her picture on the front page of the local newspaper - an exciting moment for the year.

Amelia is having a lot of fun with her first season.  She is a little beast on the defense!  The offense is a little harder for her since the majority of girls are a head taller than her.  I had no idea she was so small for her age!

In other news.......

***January brought a huge answer to a prayer, and I can't praise God enough for it!

***I'm still trying to keep all of my 2013 goals in mind, and I've seen some improvements in these "works in progress."

***We have a warm-blooded creature who has joined our family via the local animal shelter.  I don't really want to say "new member of the family" because I'm really not sure how long she's going to be here.  She's perfectly house trained, which is a huge plus, but she appears to be having some personality conflicts with certain members of the family.  She would make a great companion for someone who lives alone, and I hope we can eventually find her someone like that.  (Her eyes really aren't blue.  I guess animals get blue eyes as opposed to the red eyes that humans get in pictures??  LOL)

***We had one snow day!

***Brad made a quick trip to Texas to honor his Great Aunt Marie at her memorial service after she passed away back in December.  We got to see her fairly often in our early years of marriage, but as her health failed, it became harder for her to travel.  Two years ago, we were finally able to get to Houston, Texas, and she was able to meet the whole family.  I am so glad we were able to do that.  She was a generous lady with a quick wit like I've never seen.  She will be missed.

***That same weekend, Madison and Cari got to attend a youth conference in Tennessee with our church's youth group.  It was perfect timing as it coincided with some other issues that just made it that way - perfect timing that is.  I'm very thankful they got to go.

So, there you have it - January at a glance.  The highlights.  :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

It's been a while since I've participated in Menu Plan Monday, so I think it's about time to get involved again.  Here's my plan for this week:

Sunday - Spaghetti, crescent rolls >> I tried to pep up my sauce a bit with some fresh vegs, so as I was browning the meat, I added in chopped fresh mushrooms, red bell pepper, and onions along with a variety of spices from my spice cabinet.  For the sauce, I used Harvest Farms Organic sauce, which is one of the cheaper brands at Ingles, usually around $2/jar, and I think that's a great deal for anything organic.  I opened up a can of Immaculate crescent rolls to serve with the main course.  If you have not tried the Immaculate products, you do not know what you are missing!  These are "non-GMO, overall good ingredients" kind of products.  (I've also tried the cinnamon rolls, and they are amazing and HUGE!  There's five in a can, but they're about twice the size of a regular canned cinnamon roll.  They also have ready-to-bake cookies that are a big hit around here as well.)

Monday  - Crockpot chicken fajitas >> Place 1.5 to 2 lbs. of chicken (beef may be used as well) in slow cooker.  Top with thinly sliced onion and bell pepper (I usually use green, but this week I'm trying it with red and yellow).  In a small bowl, combine one clove of garlic, 2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 c. olive oil,  and 1 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice.  Pour mixture over chicken, peppers, and onions.  Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours or until meat is tender.  Serve in warmed tortillas and top with freshly grated sharp cheddar, sour cream, and homemade guacamole. Yum! - one of my favorite meals.

Tuesday  - Beans and Rice. >> Johnsonville sausage was on sale last week, and I had a coupon!, so that's what led to this being on the menu.  When cooking beans and rice on a night when I don't have time to start from scratch, which will be the case tonight, I like to use:  Nueva Cocina Red Beans & Rice mix.  It's 100% natural and has no MSG.  I usually cook a cup of brown rice and add it to the mixture so there will be enough for this crew.  I slice up the sausage - using Andouille this time - and throw it in while the mixture is cooking.

Wednesday  - Chicken legs, baked sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, black-eyed peas.  Except for the black-eyed peas, this will be an organic meal since Ingles had organic chicken legs on sale, as well as sweet potatoes, last week!

Thursday - French toast and scrambled eggs.  French bread sliced and dipped in a mixture of one can of evaporated milk and two eggs and then cooked in butter on griddle until slightly brown on both sides - served with Agave nectar as a syrup and scrambled eggs on the side. 

Fridays and Saturdays tend to be crazy days around here, so I don't usually plan for anything official for those days.

Thanks for looking!  For more meal plans, visit The Organizing Junkie!

Friday, January 4, 2013

What to do with 2013

Last Saturday (just in time!), I received my 2013 Timekeeper/Household Planner and have begun putting it to good use.  I used the 2012 planner last year, and it fit my needs so well that I knew I had to get another one for this year.  The front cover says "The Time Keeper, Finding Joy in a Well-Kept Life."  I like the sound of that ~ "well-kept life."  While I don't think I'll ever reach perfection in this area, a product such as this surely helps.

I've already penciled in scheduled events, appointments, etc., began writing down this week's grocery list in the shopping list section, and in the "Notes" section in the back, I've written down a few personal goals for the coming year.  Here's what I've come up with:

The first would be "save more to give more."  Written from a Biblical point of view, two books really grabbed my heart last year.  Radical and Crazy Love.  I was ready to hop on a plane for a mission trip after reading these!  I would still love to go on a mission trip, but after many months of discussion, for several different reasons - main one being childcare for my little ones - I just don't think that can happen right now. 

So, after I read those books, I found myself at sort of a standstill - I didn't know what to do next!  I started feeling guilty about certain purchases and would think about starving children that don't know Jesus, and I would just end up doing nothing in either direction.  There had to be an answer.  And there is.  If I can save more and be a better steward of what God has blessed me with, then I should be able to bless others AND meet the needs of myself and my family without feeling guilty about it.  So many are in need - sometimes friends, sometimes acquaintances, and sometimes strangers.  I just have to be out of "selfish mode" to be able to see these needs - to follow where God is leading.  Be a servant ~ whether to MY FAMILY or those outside my family ~ and do it in such a way that God gets the glory and people see Jesus - NOT ME!  Doesn't sound easy, but it's definitely something I need to, want to prayerfully work on.

One important way I've come up with so far to help save more is to get back to more consistent couponing.  While I use few food coupons (healthy/organic coupons are hard to come by, although there are some!), I can still definitely use the toiletries, paper products, detergent, etc., coupons.  It would seem that when I'm not getting things extra cheap and stocking up, I'm not restocking until I've run out of what I'm using, and generally things are not on sale at the time I need them.  I tried to tell myself last year that I just didn't have time, but I think if I stayed off of Facebook for one evening, I could use that time to get my coupons clipped and organized.

Another way is to get back to CVS and their Extrabucks!!  On my old blog, I used to update my CVS purchases regularly, and it was so much fun - not to mention the awesome stash I had under my bathroom sink!  I tried it again this week for the first time in a LONG time and did so well that I had to go back for a second time!  Here's what I purchased for around $13 (forgot to place some shaving cream that I purchased in the picture):

My plan is to update regularly on ways I'm saving money, as well as my CVS expeditions - great way to hold myself accountable.

Number two on the list would be more consistent Bible study.  Since I work at night and sometimes in the mornings, it has been hard to come up with a set time, but I'm hoping to get this figured out.  Getting up earlier? Hmmm....  And of course, I hope to fill up my Thankful Journal in the coming year, and although I plan to do this throughout the day as needed, a consistent time each day would be great.

Number three >  consistent exercise.  This was a goal last year, and I made it to sometime in the summer.  Trying to get further this year.

Number four > continue to simplify my home but beautify it in the process.  This is an area I've been quite lax in for the past few years - the beautifying part.  I'm thinking Pinterest is going to be a big help!

Number five > better planning in my home school.  My plan is to get up early tomorrow morning and spend as much time possible planning/scheduling the rest of the year.  I want to add more fun and make it less like a classroom.  I've always wanted to give my children a bit of a classroom feel, as in the back of my mind I've always thought I would want them to be well-prepared if they had to suddenly attend a regular classroom for some reason, but I think I've gone way too far over to that side the first half of this school year.  I need to bring back the fun that leads to excitement about learning.

Sounds like a lot, and if you've read all of this, you're probably thinking, "did I really need to know all this?"  My answer would be "probably not."  LOL  But, as I've mentioned before, I do this blog for myself more than anybody.  I find the accountability that comes with it to be huge.  Like several weeks ago when I blogged about doing a food detox cleanse (never updated about that), I contemplated not doing it but since I had it on the blog, I followed through (and I'm so glad I did!).

So there you go ~ a few of my thoughts for the New Year, and I better get going as there is time to get started right now!

Many blessings to you in this New Year!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas 2012

Matthew getting the dining room table ready for our Christmas Eve meal.

Amelia working on the other table.

Dessert!  I didn't take a picture of the main course since it looked the same as last year.

Time for presents!

Then it was time to clean up and get ready for bed. 

Now for the Christmas Day pics.

I love my new Christmas tree! Brad woke up at 4 a.m. on Black Friday to get to Home Depot for this.  It is pre-lit and with a touch of a button can be colored or clear lights!

I caught Amelia in her room listening to Cari's new iPod dock.  She was dancing like crazy to Jingle Bells!

Matthew jumped on the bed and joined in!

Cari sporting her new Christmas clothes and clip-in pink highlights.

Pawpaw and the kiddos.

Pooh Bear has been with us for a long time.  I had taken this same shot with Madison when she was about 2 years old.  I told her it needed updating, and she obliged.

My mom goes a little crazy at Christmas!

"The Grandfathers"

My sister and brother-in-law

Madison and Nana

Aunt Jane with nieces and nephew

Christmas was so much fun this year.  I really wasn't ready for it be over, but time didn't stop, so here I am already on January 3rd.  I guess the next post will have to be about my goals for the New Year.  I find that kind of exciting and motivating, and that always helps me get over the fact that my favorite time of year has once again come and gone.  But of course, as quickly as time is passing by, it will be back soon!


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