Monday, January 16, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - Jan 16-22, 2012

Monday: Pot roast w/ veggies
Tuesday:  "Loaded" baked potatoes w/ salads

Wednesday:  Cilantro Lime Chicken w/ rice & Southwestern-style veggies

Thursday: Butternut Squash Soup w/ Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

Friday:  Balsamic-Crusted Pork Tenderloin w/ Roasted Root Vegetables

Saturday: Tilapia Parmesean w/ Roasted Asparagus

Sunday: Bruschetta Chicken w/ Spinach & Cheese Tortellini in Marinara Sauce 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I Can't Believe My Kid Likes...

I've always thought it was cool that the rugrat eats real adult food, and have tried to help him develop varied tastes, but some of the stuff he likes weirds even me out:

  • Really spicy foods - When he was tiny, he got into some of he sauce from my chipotle chicken, then started fussing for more. Not to be outdone, he started eating jalapenos not long after starting solid foods. Now, he digs into Mexican food and will hoard all of the spicy salsa i you don't make sure only the mild is in reach.
  • Black coffee - I should have seen this coming, since he is his daddy's child, but he is crazy about coffee and will ask for it - he calls it "hot". He's also learned to get it from the coffee pot if it's not pushed way back on the counter, which scars the crap out of me. 
  • Sushi & sashimi - Including some of the rolls I won't eat. Then again, I craved sushi the whole tie I was pregnant and cheated a little by eating veggie and cooked rolls.
  • Sauerkraut - I found this out a few days ago. I wouldn't touch it as a child, and my husband still won't.
  • Hummus - He tears some hummus up, either with cut up pita or with carrots, celery, and bell pepper to dip with.
  • Veggies - He eats most veggies, although he has preferences (if they are "mixed" he eats all the carrots first), but he will go for carrots or celery over a cookie and was fussing last night because I was eating a salad and he didn't have anymore. Seriously, whose child is this?
  • Weird food - Some stuff most people think is odd, and several I won't even touch. He's liked calamari, frog legs, baby octopus, durian, kim chee, wasabi peas, miso, crawdads, oysters, lobster "butter", tofu, tempeh, morcilla, livermush, Vienna sausage, and my mother-in-law's cooking.
Then again, he's not even 2 yet, so maybe I should keep my fingers crossed and hope this continues. I'll probably keep introducing random foods to see what he does like. Who knows, between this and his penchant for helping out in the kitchen maybe I'm raising a little miniature Anthony Bourdain.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Favorite Retro Toy

I've got the perfect toy for this, mainly because the darn thing has been haunting me for years.

This is called the Kermit the Frog Aqua Antics Water  Game, and it was manufactured by Tomy in the early 1980s. The plastic case was filled with water and you pushed the big yellow button to move a plastic Kermit and his bike, which were floating around. The goal was to get Kermit on the bike. I don't think I could ever do it but, then again, I was younger than the recommended age when I was playing with it.

I remember having one as a kid and wondering where it went, but not being able to find it in my parents' attic when I got older. I had never seen one online anywhere until recently, so I had almost forgot about it and figured I was remembering something else and the toy didn't really exist. While it would be much cooler if I could find one of these for sale, it's nice seeing one again and knowing that I was really remembering it.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - Jan 9-15, 2012

Monday: Cheeseburger soup w/ potatoes

Tuesday: Grilled salmon w/ balsamic blueberry sauce & mango cous cous

Wednesday: Chicken Alfredo w/ broccoli, peas, & red bell pepper

Thursday: Orange-glazed pork chops w/ sweet potatoes & butternut-barley pilaf

Friday: Carne Asada, mexican rice w/ black beans, pico de gallo & avocado on the side

Saturday: Soft tacos w/ leftovers from Friday

Sunday: Roast chicken w/ steamed veggies

If you're having trouble coming up with your own menu ideas, this list of 60 meal ideas from Tami @  A Godly Homemaker may help:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Too Much Television

I feel like the television has stolen my marriage, and I really wish I could just throw it out the window!

Maybe that's a little strong, but it's how I really feel. I guess this is what happens when a non-TV person (but admitted internet junkie) marries a TV addict.

I watched TV growing up, but not too much. In college, my roommate and I decided against having a TV, packed it back home during the first long weekend, and filled the space with a fishtank and a series of plants that kept dying. So, I should have known better when I started dating a man who had the TV on 24/7 at home and who has literally thousands of VHS tapes with recorded television shows.

I made it somewhat tolerable a few years ago, by convincing him to cancel or satellite package and rely on Netflix streaming instead. He spent a few months holed u in the bedroom watching reruns of 90s sitcoms on the VCR, but eventually recovered and joining me in the living room again (I wish I was only joking here). At least that cut out the commercials and gave us the option of choosing what to watch, when we wanted to watch it.

Then, we had a kid. Of course, I was gonna be the mom who had not TV on around my child until he was at least 2, and then limited it to an hour or less a day. During the day, I do keep it off but, the second my husband walks through the door, he turns it on and it stays on until we go to bed. It always was movies but, being that his tastes run toward movies with lots of violence and sexual undertones, he's finally agreeing that "Bob The Builder" is probably better to watch than "Hostel" while the toddler is playing in front of the TV.

Still, it annoys the crap out of me because it constantly distract me and makes it hard to write (my only income right now is from blogging and freelance writing), and I know it's gotta be distracting the rugrat as well. It's also annoying because it gives him a reason to park his butt on the couch the whole evening while projects and household repairs go undone. The only thing that keeps me from pushing hard to get rid of it is the fear that he'd want to cancel the internet too, and nobody's gonna pry me away from my laptop.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

My Special Place

Photo by scmikeburton 
I need to find a "special place" now, but it would need to be somewhere quiet and close to nature. The closest place I can think of is not very far away, but it's somewhere I no longer get to go because of high gas prices and the futility of seeking peace and quiet with a toddler in tow.

The photo with this post is close to me special place from college. When I needed to think, right, or just de-stress, I would get in my car and drive about 30 minutes into Tennessee. There, I had found a pull-off on the side of a mountain road that let me sit on a rock hanging out over nothingness. There was the most breathtaking view of the Smoky Mountains and, sitting there, I felt like it was just me and the trees and the open air.

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Something Lost

My husband and I get funny looks sometimes when we go out, or when we tell people we're married. This is because I only wear my wedding and engagement rings about half the time, and he never wears his. Mine are a little tight, and they are gold which is not really my style. His was lost several years ago.

We're talked about replacing them, but now that we know eachother better, we won't be going with the gold traditional style. He's letting me pick out designs, but they need to be affordable. Since the beginning, my tastes have been either engraved runic or celtic knotwork rings or something a little more industrial looking.

I'm loving some of the tungsten and titanium rings available now, and was looking at some of the options with carbon fiber inlays, but now I'm all about the ones that incorporate steel cables into the rings. It's definitely not a traditional band, but I love the look and I think the symbolism is perfect for a set of wedding rings. The rings in this post are two of my favorites right now, and we may end up ordering them if we get money back on taxes.

If so, the lost ring will be sort of a blessing. It's made a way for us to get a new set, one that is much more reflective of the both of us.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Bucket List

If you haven't heard of it before, a bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you die. It comes from the phrase "kick the bucket" and was popularized by the 2007 movie with Morgan Freeman & Jack Nicholson.

I have a longer, more detailed list over on 43 Things, which is a goal tracking site that is perfect for keeping up with your own bucket list, but these are my top ten lifetime goals right now:
  1. Get my home organized. - I have a feeling this will be an ongoing goal, but it's constantly getting better. I made a huge amount of progress with the help of FlyLady, starting about 2 years ago, and now my husband is on board and helping out, too. I just started using the Motivated Moms planner and chore lists this year, but I'm loving them and noticing even more of an improvement already. 
  2. Become debt free. - This is another on of those things I started working on several years ago, mostly following advice from Dave Ramsey, but I got off track due to my husband going through 2 layoffs and me having 2 car accidents, 2 week-long hospital stays, and then losing my job and having a baby. Money is even tighter right now, but we're working on budgeting, saving, and cutting corners wherever we can, which should help us save even more when my husband's job situation improves.
  3. Compete in an Ironman triathlon. - This is defiantly a long-term goal, but one I want really badly. At this point, I'm working my way back up to running a 5k. Then I'll start on sprint triathlons (the shortest distance) and increase the distance and training until I'm ready for an Ironman. For now, I'm back on the C25K program and will be building from there.
  4. Stop biting my nails. - Yeah, I still do it. I've tried to quit, other people have tried to get me to quit. Still working on it, but maybe once I get into an exercise routine again and can better deal with stress, I won't be as tempted to bite them.
  5. Learn a new language. - Here's another I've started and failed a bunch of times. I have resources available for learning American Sign Language, Russian, German, and Irish Gaelic - now I need to pick one and follow through with it. 
  6. Learn to play an instrument. - Same here. I can play guitar a little and pick out notes on a keyboard, but I really need to learn how to play both correctly and take the time to practice so I don't sound horrible. 
  7. Finish my college degree. - I'm looking at going back to do this in the fall, if I can get a Pell grant. It irritates the heck out of me that I spent so much time in school and don't have anything to show for it, other than student loan debt. Plus, I really enjoyed college. Internet classes will be easier for me with the baby, but I would love to take real classroom classes if I could.
  8. Write a book and have it published. - I have a few ideas floating around, and one partial manuscript, but I spend so much time writing for pay with my freelance jobs that I haven't done much work on this. I'm probably just being too picky, because I feel like I have to be in the mood to write for it to be any good.
  9. Make more friends. - I'm sort of shy, and I spent a lot of time over the past several years pretty isolated because of depression, working night shift, and having a house too cluttered for company. I'm trying to get out of the house more often and be friendly to people I meet, and getting the house straight means I can invite people over without being embarrassed about it. 
  10. Be on Jeopardy! - This sounds sort of lame, but I've wanted to do it since I was a kid. I tried of for the teen version of the show when I was younger and passed the tests, but was never called (only something like 10% of people get called to be on the show). I'm registered to take the online test for this year in a few days, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. 

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - Jan 2-8, 2012

Monday: Sausage & Bean Soup with cornbread

Tuesday: Venison Roast with veggies

Wednesday: Cheeseburger Soup w/ hasselback potatoes

Thursday: Spaghetti w/ garlic bread & green salad

Friday: Roast pork & apples w/ wild rice

Saturday: Pepperoni pizza w/ side salads 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Chore Lists & Planners

Many people, myself included, make goals and plans for the new yer that include getting more organized, de-cluttering, or otherwise making their home neater and easier to live in.

If you're a list person like me, then you've probably tried this and used several different lists, plans, and organizers over the years trying to find on that works for you. I'm going to try to make the process easier for you this year, by listing the 3 chore list systems that have worked the best for me.

The first place I turned to try to get organized was FlyLady. While she doesn't publish a whole year's worth of tasks at once - probably because she knows some of us would try to do them all at once or "play catch-up" and get overwhelmed and burned out - she does send out daily reminders by email. For those who find the emails to be too much "inbox clutter", you can visit the website at instead. If you click on the "Launch Pad", you'll find lists of cleaning tasks for each day, detailed cleaning lists for the more advanced, and a "Sneak Peek" with the whole week's worth of tasks.

Another system that I've found helpful is the Declutter & Organize Calendar from MySimplerLife. This is a free, printable calendar that comes as a PDF file. It has one task listed for each day, with Sundays being given over to tasks that help you take care of yourself, similar to FlyLady's "Pamper Missions". I enjoyed using it as a sort of "Extra" or alternate "Zone Mission" combined with FlyLady, but it will also be good for those who have a handle on their everyday cleaning routines and would like to add just one more thing a day to contribute to their overall home organization.

The best of both worlds seem to be the printable chore lists & printable day planners from Motivated Moms. They combine the calendar format, and convenience of being able to print a month or year ahead in advance, of the Declutter & Organize Calendar with the routines and daily checklists of FlyLady's system. Each day has a daily checklist down one side and a few organizational tasks and chores listed for the day. The day planner checklists add hourly appointment slots to the schedule. Motivated Moms' planners and chore lists are available as a printable PDF file and come in full size (8.5 x11") or half size (5.5x9.5") options,  with or without a checklist for Bible reading, and with the options of either a weekly chore list only checklist or a daily planner with the chores and hourly appointment slots for each day. The "half size" planners can be punched to fit inside of Franklin Covey or Day Timer planners. Samples of each type of planner and chore list are viewable on the Motivated Moms order page. These chore lists normally cost $8 for the whole year, but you can order them now for only $7 by entering the code 1OFF at checkout.
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