Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tex Mex Supper Was a HIT!

So I plan to share my meal from last night, in recipe form. It was a huge hit.
Cheese enchiladas with queso sauce, spanish rice, black beans--serves with diced avocado, tortilla chips and salsa.

Earlier in the day I soaked the beans  and then set them to simmer with salt to taste and two chicken bouillon cubes. Done. Cooked, and set aside to warm later.

Enchiladas:
We used white corn tortillas and heated them in a skillet until pliable, then filled each with shredded cheddar and rolled up. Placed them seam side down in a 13 by 9 pan to make 16 enchiladas. Truth be told I would have added diced, sauteed onion if it were up to me, but the moans and rejections I would have encountered just weren't worth it, so they were minus the onions.
Next I made the sauce--which I made up as I went- from 3/4 can Las Palmas enchilada sauce (Taco Bell or Old El Paso or Gebhardt is fine too), about a cup of mexican velveeta, and a can of cream of chicken soup. I microwaved it until creamy. Poured it over the enchiladas and baked until bubbly at 350.

While that was baking I brought to a boil, 4 cups of water, 1/4 cup of the reserved enchilada sauce, 1 tbsp each of chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic, black pepper, and salt. I added 3 chicken bouillon cubes. When it was boiling I added 2 cups jasmine rice, reduced heat, covered, and simmered, stirring now and then to prevent sticking, until most liquid was absorbed.

Set table, set out avocado, chips, salsa, beans, rice and enchiladas and we dug in. It was hailed as the best cheese enchiladas and rice/beans yet.

Guess we have a keeper....

Monday, October 27, 2014

Answered prayers

I was going to post the weeks menu, but it is changing quickly. The kids ate several of the ingredients and meal choices in advance, so I am scrambling to figure out food for the week until I get to ALDI, Sam's and WinCo to restock. No one realy wants to know that todays breakfast was Halloween candy and lunch will be leftover chicken BBQ meat, some beefy rice, a few meatballs and three GF chicken strips...possibly served with the last half of a bag of GF pretzels....so I am going to post about answered prayers.

I have a 16 year old and he wants to get some filming equipment before starting to earn steady income for insurance, gas, and cell service (at which point he can get his license). Unfortunately his  efforts at employment were not fruitful. So as his mom, I prayed for something to come along that fit his schedule and activities and for it to be the right timing for him.

So about two weeks after I began praying I saw a FB post that a friend needed twice a month house cleaning. I jumped on it and employed my oldest two. All I ask is $5 gas money. Then a friend called and asked Jacob if he wanted to work on the renovations of their rent house. Sure! Opportunity to work and learn about construction. Win win.  Then he got a call to help someone move items from a storage facility to their home. Done. Then his sister got called to work a shift as a fill in at the local Christmas tree farm and offered her services when needed. She also learned they need boys to work. He is applying today. So God's timing for these odd jobs has provided cash for the teens and references for future jobs and much needed experience. We are so grateful. They may end quickly, but the Lord provided the work needed, at the right time.

I had felt that maybe this wasn't the time for him to have a regular job, given his drama performances and the prospect of doing community theater in spring. God provides. Also, the boy has decided he might just extend his high school by 6 months to a year so he can work more and finish schooling before starting to save for a car and pay for college costs. The process will be slow, but all in His hands. And he will learn the value of the dollar and hard work. Besides, these teen years only happen once and when they are gone, that is it. Adult life kicks immediately into high gear. Might as well enjoy the end.

How has God worked in your family's life lately?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Late arrival of the week's menu

I like to see posts about what people are having for meals. It gives me ideas and makes life easier to have a plan in place. So, I am going to give this a shot, myself!
Homeschooling five kids, directing a co-op, and teaching bible classes, besides being the family taxi, means I have a lot going on and need that plan. Maybe it will help someone out. I will try to post recipes, or you can request them.
I have two kids gluten free so we use gluten free pastas for everyone, and sandwich bread for them. Anything gluten free probably comes from Celeste's Best Cookbook. We buy in bulk from Sam's club for many things, and also use WinCo and ALDI a lot.

Breakfast choices:
  1. toast-cheese and cinnamon
  2. homemade GF muffins
  3. baked oatmeal
  4. GF pancakes
  5. eggs and hashbrowns
Lunches:
  1. GF chicken strips (frozen Perdue brand) with rice and fruit
  2. Mozzarella sticks (frozen) , asparagus , chips
  3. refried bean and cheese tostadas (blended pintos from supper)
  4. fish stix (frozen) with GF pasta (possibly mac and cheese)
  5. sandwiches and chips
Suppers:
  1. Creamy chicken noodle soup and homemade biscuits (recipe of your choice)
  2. sausage and rice casserole with frozen steamed veggies
  3. pinto beans and rice
  4. beef noodle asian bowls
  5. knockoff Chick fil a nuggets and potatoes and beans
Recipes:
Creamy chicken Noodle Soup

3 cups cooked chopped chicken
1 package pasta
8 cups water
8 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
Combine first five ingredients and cook until pasta is done. Add an extra  cup of water if needed. When pasta is done add sour cream and stir until combined.

Sausage and Rice casserole

1 lb breakfast sausage
2 cups dry rice
4 cups water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
Brown the sausage. Put the rice in a 13 by 9 dish and sprinkle with salt/pepper/onion powder. Tope with cooked sausage (you can also add sliced onions and carrots if you want). In the skillet you used, add the water and cubes until dissolved. Pour over rice mix and cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Beef Noodle Asian Bowl

1 lb round steak -not tenderized
1 head broccoli
2 large carrots
1.5 lb fettucine or long pasta
teriyaki sauce
zesty italian dressing

Cook pasta according to directions. Slice beef into finger size thin strips and stir fry in 2 tbsp olive oil until browned and done. Add veggies and 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce and 3/4  cup italian dressing. Let veggies cook a few minutes-still should be mostly crisp. Drain pasta and place in serving dish. Pour meat mixture on top and toss. Serve.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Early Rise Challenge

Earlier this year...like maybe two months ago....a friend challenged some of us at church to rise early and accomplish the day more efficiently for 10 days.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

Ten days went by and we were all very encouraging as we tried to tidy the house before bed, rise early to exercise and pray and get a jump on the day. It was so great that we decided to continue as a group through the school year. We have our own social media group to post and keep up. It has been great! BUT...I have been noticing some things about our group.
1. not everyone is wired to wake early.
2. most of us need to nap if we wake early--or hit the caffeine by 2pm
3. early rising means early bedtimes, which aren't always possible
4. time changes make a huge difference for some of us

My personal obstacle is the sun.  I can't get going if the sun isn't almost up. I refuse to walk the dog or jog in the dark, and don't want to wait around an hour before doing that. I also don't want to disturb the kids...they have to accomplish school. And I don't want to "need" a nap or caffeine in the afternoon. So for me, getting up more than 20 minutes before sunrise is not happening. But luckily the autumn time change is coming! Early light is wonderful to me...early dark - not so much. But it happens.

When the time changes I will gladly rise earlier. Until then I am going to sleep in the darkness of the morning hours. And I will continue to post and enjoy my group as we encourage each other each week of the "school year". For that reason alone, it is worthwhile.

No photos???

If you have read this blog for any length of time you probably noticed that I rarely if ever, add photos. I have a very good reason.

I blog from the desktop computer which happens to be Vista operating system--probably the worst OS ever. It won't load itunes songs properly onto devices or store pictures well without crashing or run most educational software without major glitching. But it is what we have so it is what I use. My sons laptop is used for his schoolwork and movie editing and has no photos on it. The Lenovo laptop is (was) an excellent option until it was dropped, the screen broke and a few keys fell off. It has pictures, but being slow to load from the drop and having missing keys, it is difficult to type on. My phone could do it, but seriously---who wants to do a blog post from an iphone??? Not me. Thumb typing is hard enough on texts.

So that is why I am sans photos at this point. I hope this changes in the next 6 months---searching for a Windows 7 laptop for school and basic use.

Until then I will just have to run my mouth. And I hate that because pictures add so much!

It is what it is.....


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Healthy...but not a Trim Healthy Mama

Some of you read my post about my healthy journey. I know a healthy lifestyle is all about eating well and exercising (and getting enough rest). But still, I have some problems with both eating and exercising.

The exercising is about finding things I like to do, and know I will do. I know I will walk and jog in my neighborhood. I know I will do pinterest workouts in my home and with my kids. I also know I will swim with the kids in summer. What I will not do is a workout dvd, go to a gym or anyplace I have to drive to workout, or anything that requires me to leave home/pay money/get up early. I know, it sounds very lazy and cheap. It probably is to some extent. But I know what I am and am not willing to do. So I do what works for me...and honestly i exercise quite a bit. I walk about 15-17 miles a week give or take--(sometimes with leg weights, sometimes jogging a little), and do about 5-6 pinterest workouts.

Food is my other huge challenge. I love to cook. I love baking and making traditional meals. I LOVE it. I also like to eat. However, eating has never been a big draw for me, like it is for some people. My appetite isn't huge and when I am done, I refuse to eat more. I can't, really. Food becomes gross to me. And I also don't care that much for sweets. Seriously. Odd, I know. A couple of bites and I am done....like, for days. One cupcake will hold me for a week if I can finish it. Soda is not something I like either. But I love casseroles, hearty soups, veggies, fruit that is tropical (or berries), salads, and all the mainstream foods, especially if it is salty. Cheeses are iffy for me, as is all dairy. I have an internal monitor that tells me if I can eat dairy on any given day. "Lactose levels are strong in this one" (read that in a Jedi voice). Some days I can't even be around the smell of dairy products.
So what is my problem???

It's that blasted Trim Healthy Mama book I keep hearing about, and the results I see on other people. I get the premise. Don't ever mix fats and carbs in a meal because you can't tandem burn them, so you store the one you don't burn. Unfortunately, most foods we eat are a combo of fat and carb. Think bread and butter, grilled cheese, burgers, lasagne, potato soup, tortilla soup, salad with cheese and a side of crackers, cake with frosting, quesadillas.....and on it goes. SO along comes THM with its own recipes and substitutions that work to burn fat while you eat your faves. That is great news for many people. The 600 page book has been a wonderful thing for so many, and I waffle about whether I should buy it and try it. I could actually burn the last bit of fat I have hanging around the torso. That would be awesome. But here are reasons I don't do it. Won't do it. Can't do it. Oh, and did I mention I am also a bit stubborn??

First, I am on a food budget for this family of 7, a budget I had to increase this summer even though it really wasn't financially feasible, in order to accommodate the new gluten free status of two kids. That stuff is costly to keep and I have to make food separately for them most of the time. Also it was a new way of cooking that I had to learn. And most of us in my house don't want to or need to eat GF so to keep costs down it becomes more labor intensive for me. If I added THM to my life it would be more costly to buy the new products (they are pricey) and time/labor intensive to learn how to combine and cook all the new recipes. And it would be just for me.  I just don't have the desire to carve out the time and energy to do it. Or the extra grocery money to do it. Some days I struggle just to remember what needs to be done and get everyone their specific food and medicines. I mentally cannot add more to my cooking life right now. It seems very overwhelming to even consider it. And there is the crux of why I cannot bring myself to do THM ...yet.

So, for now I will hang on to those last few pounds. I am going to refer to them as curves :). And maybe, just maybe, one day when the kids are bigger and I am not cooking for a whole family and the money is available I might try THM, because clearly, the results are real. Right now it is too overwhelming. I am just going to do my best to eat well rounded meals made at home and keep exercising. Because right now, if the whole family can't eat it, it won't get made. I am just not up for running a home restaurant at this point in my life.

But one day....just maybe, I too will be a THM! Until then I will be cheering on my friends as they become Trim Healthy Mamas! You go girls!


Friday, September 26, 2014

How Do You Do It???

Ahh, the old question some of us moms get from new moms...especially if our kids are older or we have more than two. Well, I am here to dispel the myth. I am here to reveal the truth of how we do it all and get it all done and maintain such well behaved kids and look so fabulous.

Ready???
We don't. That is it. We just don't.
You see a miniscule glimpse into our life when we are out and about. You cannot imagine what it might have taken to get out of the house. There were compromises, probably arguments, almost certainly frustrations and delays...and DO NOT under any circumstances, ask to see what the house or inside of our van looks like now that we have made it out of the house. Because they both look like the whole family has been actually living there. You also assume that the smile on our face or the well behaved kids mean we are perfect and have all the answers. Nope. Not even close. What goes on inside us is doubt and anger and joy and thinking and pride and frustration and second guessing and strategies for getting through the rest of the day and night. The kids might have been manipulated and groomed for what they were heading into. They may have been bribed. They may or may not have underwear on. Just saying...They may have some medication in them, or maybe just coffee. Who knows. Some days go better than others. Some are a surreal dream. Some are a surreal nightmare.

The point is--regardless of appearances, we all live our life. We have kids that obey, and disobey. We lose our temper, and are kind. We wonder why our day is going poorly. We struggle to find time to read the bible and pray. We wonder why we have no energy. We forget to set food to thaw for supper. We have lists everywhere. We forget to write things on the list because we moved from one room to another and lost the thought. The kids fight. The kids leave things all over the house. We have messes. Laundry piles up. Dishes are always dirty. Someone is always hungry. Kids have to be constantly reminded to pick up and put things away. They argue. We argue. We discipline. We break away for a few moments alone. We sweep and mop probably 20 times a day. Sometimes we let it all go because someone is sick, or its really nice outside. Sometimes home is clean and sometimes it is not. Sometimes we all get along and sometimes we don't. Mostly you see the product of daily habits of picking up at regular intervals through the day, spending time on good character and relationships (things that matter in the grand scheme of life) rather than lots of academics and sports, and a hearty work ethic in the form of chores (aka life skills). When we have an event (think party) you see the product of a few hours of serious cleaning. Some of us are more OCD with cleaning than others. Some are more relaxed. Pop in randomly some day and you will see.

"I want to come watch you and shadow you for a day to find out how you do it"....Ummm, nope. Not going to happen. Know why? Because the moment anyone steps into the house (besides those who live there) the entire dynamic changes. It isn't real. We now have "company". The kids know it. I know it. And besides, every single day is different. You need to be a fly on the wall. You would see life as it is. And it would make you feel really good because you'd instantly realize you are actually doing a pretty great job. You are surviving the way everyone else does...by finding your own path.

So the bottom line is this--we are all struggling, because marriage is hard, parenting is hard, life is hard. But it is also very, very joyful.  Joy and happiness are choices. Life takes hard work. It is not for wimps or lazy people. There are no manuals anywhere for your exact situation. You just have to keep walking your path, seeking wisdom, applying what you learn, and praying for a good outcome. If you don't like what is going on, examine the circumstances and start thinking about ways to make work it better for you and your family. That takes work and time. No one can, or wants to, do it for you. But it is certain that little effort will yield little results. You are not a tree. If you don't like where you are, move. And remember this line from Its A Wonderful Life--It is better to want what you get, than to get what you want. Bloom where you are planted. Tend to that garden you were given.

You may not see it but your influence is great. Sure, your life and your kids aren't like other people's. Theirs aren't like yours either, you know. Somewhere there is a mom or two who looks at YOU and wonders how YOU do it all. Did you know that?

You are capable of being enough for your family. They love you deeply. Love them in return. That is the secret. But if it makes you feel better, wear a cape. That's cool too.