Menu Plan Monday 3/25/2013…


This was a quiet weekend for us. John and Josh were supposed to go camping but John came down with a mild flu on Friday and it had him down for the count. In 18 years of marriage, I bet John has only gotten sick (including a cold) only 2-3 times. It seemed weird to see him so taken down by something. He spent almost all day Friday and Saturday resting and trying to get his strength back. But luckily he was feeling better on Sunday when the next thing happened…

We added a new member to our family – a cute 3 year old Guinea Pig named Gloria. Brittany has been asking us for a Guinea Pig for months now (even leaving little brochures and notes in all kinds of places around the house), so we got her one. Gloria came from a free ad posting on Craigslist (which I think I am addicted to). We had to drive about an hour away to get her but she did come with everything she needs including food to last a month or so. Here she is…



We are also began the process of looking for another car for me. We are almost to our savings goal for the car which means that it is time to begin the process. I have mixed feelings about this. I am very attached to my car since she has been with me for 11 years (and about 185,000 miles – she has 205k but we got her at 20k). She does have a few problems that it would be nice to be rid of (doors that don’t always open, windows that roll down and then get stuck,etc) but it is almost like she is part of our family. I have a feeling that it is going to be a lengthy process for me to find just the right ride for me, especially since I don’t really want to give up Betsy.

What do you drive? Do you love it? Does it have a name?

So, here is what we are eating this week…

Sunday: Papa Johns Pizza
I was planning on having Lasagna but getting the Guinea Pig took us past dinner time and the kiddies were hungry. Guess the free Guinea Pig really cost us $20 worth of pizza!

Monday:  Chicken and Rice, Broccoli
We have Cub Scouts tonight so this will be good to pop into the oven before then.

Tuesday: Spaghetti & Meatballs, Garlic Bread, Salad

Wednesday: Ritz Baked Chicken Nuggets, Honey Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Garlic Sauteed Spinach

Thursday: Sesame Chicken, Steamed Rice, Broccoli
I’ll pick up some frozen potstickers and fortune cookies to round out this meal. Brittany has been asking for Egg Drop Soup, so I might make that too.

Friday: Chicken Parmesan, Spaghetti Noodles, Salad
John and I are taking the kids to a Good Friday Concert at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater thanks to our good friends the Ralphs! I am very excited!

Saturday: Cheeseburgers, Chips, Fruit
We are camping for Easter this year so this is something we will throw on the camping grill. I love the way food tastes outdoors!

I am linking up with, so be sure to check out that site for more Menu Plans to help you with getting dinner on the table!


Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Strudel…


Happy Pi Day! (3.14 – get it?)

So, what is the best thing about the ides of March? Pie Day!  Here is a delicious pie that I whipped up using the fresh pumpkin that I still have in multitude in the freezer. It is so delicious! Imagine if Pumpkin Pie and Pecan Pie married and had a baby and this is what you would get.  The taste of Thanksgiving but with the Spring weather. Perfect!

Go have some pie! Make this one or a cream pie or maybe a berry pie but for heaven’s sake – get yourself some pie!


Pumpkin Pie with Walnut Struesel Topping

Prep Time 
Cook Time 
Servings 8 Difficulty Easy


  • 15 ounces, weight Canned Pumpkin Puree (I used 2 cups of fresh puree)
  • 14 ounces, weight Canned Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoons Ginger
  • ½ teaspoons Nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 whole 9 Inch Unbaked Pie Crust
  • 2 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
  • ¼ cups Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter, Chilled
  • 1 cup Walnuts, Chopped (I used pecans because I ran out of walnuts)

Preparation Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Put your unbaked pie shell into a pie pan and set aside.

2. In a large bowl mix together the pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk and eggs. Add in the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Whisk until blended and smooth.

3. Pour into pie shell.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.

5. While pie is in oven, make the topping. In a small bowl, add the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon and mix to combine. Add the chilled butter and blend with a fork or pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Mix in the chopped nuts. Set aside.

6. When it’s done remove pie from oven and sprinkle with streusel topping.

7. Reduce the heat to 350 F. When oven gets to 350 F, return pie to oven and continue to bake for an additional 40 minutes.

Personalized Housewarming Gift…

Recently, I was invited to a housewarming dinner for a new friend. I wanted to bring something to welcome her and her husband to their new home but was at a loss for what. I wanted the gift to be practical but personal. My budget was limited but I wanted something that she would appreciate. She had mentioned to me earlier that her house numbers are not easily visible from the street. She was concerned that no one would be able to find her house when they came to visit. That gave me the idea for my housewarming gift….

A personalized potted Rosemary plant with their house numbers on it!

personalized pot


I looked on Pinterest to find examples of the kind of look I was going for. I wanted to include the kids in the gift since I think the best way to teach them to care for other people is by example. Brittany volunteered to find the stencil online and print it out for me to use. She had a lot of fun coming up with different fonts and sizes. I had the pot already in my garage and the outdoor paint was purchased months ago at a garage sale. If you don’t already have the pot, you can purchase them inexpensively at yard sales, thrift stores or even Michaels with a coupon. I cut the number stencils our using a razor to get exact lines. I then taped them onto the pot and traced them with a pencil (in case I made any mistakes). Going slowly so it would look good, I hand painted the numbers on with a teeny tiny paintbrush. All together the personalization probably took 30 minutes including finding the stencil online. I purchased a rosemary plant from Home Depot for $6 and planted it in the pot. This way my friend could have fresh rosemary to cook with year round. When I wrote a card to go with the plant, I explained the rosemary was to give their new home flavor and I included a recipe for a family favorite – Rosemary Bread.

This gift turned out great! It came out exactly as I had envisioned it would and now I am thinking of stenciling a pot on my front porch in a similar fashion – maybe even adding our last name or family initial to it. If you are looking for a fun, creative, personalized gift that doesn’t cost much, try making a personalized pot!

Monday Menu Plan on Tuesday 3/12/13…


Yesterday got away from me and I didn’t take the time to post my Monday menu plan. So, here it is, only it is on Tuesday. Well, better late than never…

Our weekend was wonderfully warm and beautiful! John and I got in a long run on Saturday and then proceeded to accidentally sleep through church get up time on Sunday. We had forgotten to reset the bedroom clocks before bed on Saturday night, so when the alarm went off on Sunday morning, it was really an hour behind. The good thing about our church is that it is broadcast online so we didn’t miss out on the sermon but it still wasn’t the same as being there. I especially like to make sure the kids get into their small groups on Sunday and they can’t do that if we are at home in our pjs. But things like that happen and at least we have a backup plan.

What did you do this weekend? Did you remember to set your clocks?

Here is what we are eating this week…

Sunday: Chicken & Dressing Casserole, Steamed Broccoli, Mashed Potatoes
I made an extra one of these and took it to a friend who has a busy week this week. Friendships that include food are always the best kind!

Monday: Frozen Pizza, Salad, Apple Slices
I have a dinner with my ladies bible study group so John and kids ate a quick frozen pizza before Cub Scouts.  

Tuesday: (Crockpot) Salsa Chicken Hard Tacos, Rice, Greenbeans
This is a quick and easy meal for a busy night. We have to go out tonight and find both kids new running shoes. Not fun.

Wednesday: Chicken Penne Bake, Salad, Garlic Bread

Thursday: Sesame Chicken, Steamed Rice, Broccoli
I’ll pick up some frozen potstickers and fortune cookies to round out this meal. Brittany has been asking for Egg Drop Soup, so I might make that too.

Friday: Fried Catfish, Roasted Potatoes, Fried Okra
I didn’t get to buying fish last week so I will try again this week. I’ll buy whatever fish is on sale this week, so it may not be catfish.

Saturday: Unbelievable Grilled Chicken, Roasted Honey Rosemary Sweet Potatoes, Asparagus
We will also grill enough chicken to have it for lunch on salad for the next few days.


I am linking up with, so be sure to check out that site for more Menu Plans to help you with getting dinner on the table!


Shelf Life of Food…

I try to clean out the refrigerator on Sunday night, since the garbage comes on Monday morning, and Wednesday night, since Thursday is grocery shopping day. In between these times, I am always trying to use up what we have so that we throw away a minimum of food. I recently read that 25% of groceries are thrown away and not eaten. That is a huge number! For every $100 you spend at the grocery store, you are throwing away $25? No thanks! So, in an effort to get everything that is purchased eaten before it goes bad, here is a handy dandy chart that my brother recently sent to me on the Shelf Life of Food. I was surprised by some things and maybe you will be too. What do you have in your pantry or fridge that needs to be eaten or thrown out?

Kids and Excercise…

skate park

How much exercise do your kids get? Childhood obesity is on the rise in the United States and although I think there are several societal factors that are contributing to this fact, one of the big problems is that kids just aren’t moving. If you really stop and think about it,  most kids are not getting nearly as much exercise as we did when we were kids. I read recently that children should get at least 1 hours of active exercise per day. And that does not include exercising their thumbs on Minecraft. With budget cuts and the increase emphasis on test scores, public schools have cut gym classes to just twice a week, unlike when I was in elementary school and we went to gym every day. And with most family budgets being cut back too, parents cannot afford to put their kids in the same amount of activities that they once did. So, what is a family to do? Get creative!

First and foremost, use what you have. We spend time with the kids outside on most sunny days. We take trips to the local parks and make use of what they have there. A park near us has a skatepark that we take Josh to a few times each week. He spends an hour or two riding his bike or scooter through jumps and bowls. He is having so much fun that he doesn’t realize that he is getting exercise. There is also a track located next to the skatepark where Brittany and I walk while Josh is riding. Most of the time, we will walk about 1 1/2-2 miles while Josh is riding. That is extra movement that Brittany and I are both getting that we wouldn’t be if we had stayed at home. This park also has a gymnasium with a basketball court and indoor track for those rainy days when we can’t get outside.

We also take advantage of the local Greenway for bike riding and running. Typically John and I will run the Greenway 3 times each week and at least one of those, we take the kids on their bikes. If the weather is nice, it is not uncommon for us to be out there with them for 2 hours or more.

Fun exercise is also season dependent.  In the Spring, we spend more time on bicycles and the trampoline but in the summer you will also find the kids swimming for a few hours each day. In the Fall, hiking is fun for our family. The winter is the hardest time to get exercise in for the kids but I have found the best way is to look for pockets in each day where the weather is warm enough to go out and then schedule exercise in that time. Sometimes this might be directly after school or after dinner. Even if it is just a walk after dinner, everything counts.

The key to getting more movement in your child’s day is to make it a priority and schedule it. Make it fun for them and become a participant too. If it is done right, exercise shouldn’t be burden but a fun family activity. Now, go out there and get moving!

Funnel Cakes…

funnel cake

Funnel cakes are not just for the county fair! When I was younger, I remember my mom making us funnel cakes at home. I didn’t realize until I got much older that other families didn’t crank out funnel cakes at home. Really? We were always cooking up creative unusual items at our house. Egg Rolls. Egg Foo Yung. Homemade Corn dogs  The list goes on and on. My mom might not have been a trained chef but she sure had a sense of adventure and wasn’t afraid to try anything in the kitchen. That is probably where I get my culinary adventuresome attitude from! Thanks, Mom!

So, when the kids thought they saw funnel cakes for sell at the circus a few weeks ago, I told them that we could make them at home. Their eyes lit up with excitement. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Here is the recipe and it is super simple.

Funnel Cakes (makes 4)

1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (divided)
1 egg
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil for frying (or as needed)
Confectioners sugar as needed

Mix salt, baking powder, and half the flour in a bowl. Set aside.

Mix egg, sugar and milk in a large bowl. Add flour mixture and beat until smooth. Continue to add remaining flour but use only enough to achieve desired consistency. Batter will be thin enough to run through a funner.

Heat oil to 375 degrees in an 8″ skillet.


Put your finer over the bottom opening of the funnel, and fill the funnel with a generous 1/2 cup of batter. Hold the funnel close to the surface of the oil, and release the batter into the oil while making a circular motion. Fry until golden brown. Use tongs and a wide spatula to turn the cake over carefully. Fry the second side one minute. Drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar.


Menu Plan Monday 3/4/2013…


This past weekend was an unusual one for us. John and Josh headed off to Space Camp with the Cub Scouts, so that left Brittany and I home alone. Since we had known this event was coming, I had asked Brittany a few weeks ago what she wanted to do. Her request was simple – she wanted me to sit down with her all day long and watch the Harry Potter movies. Now, the idea of sitting for hours watching movies was both appealing and appalling. I knew I would love spending time with Brittany and it being just the two of us cuddled up in pjs. I also knew that sitting and doing nothing for 12 hours straight would be hard on me since I tend to not just be a doer but a multi-tasker.  But if this is what Brittany wanted to do, how coud I say no? I have a theory that if your kids ever request to spend time with you, you say “yes” because the day will come that they will rather be with their friends.

So, how what the weekend? It was wonderful. We did exactly what she asked and didn’t leave the house for anything. Just parked ourselves in front of the television and watched the Harry Potter movies 4-8 (we had already watched 1-3 since we knew we physically couldn’t watch them for 20 hours!). We talked, cuddled, ate whatever we wanted and just enjoyed being together. And Josh and John had an equally great but exhausting weekend with the Cub Scouts.

Here is what we are eating this week:

Sunday: Quesadillas, leftover rice, carrots, applesauce, salad
It was just Brittany and I for dinner since John and Josh were headed back from Space Camp.

Monday: Chicken Fingers, Tater Tots, Apple slices, carrots
John won’t be at dinner tonight so I wanted an easy kid friendly dinner but still had some nutritional value. 

Tuesday: Almost Waffle House Waffles, Bacon, fruit
Another easy kid friendly dinner that will also provide breakfast for the kids for the rest of the week.

Wednesday: Chicken and Dumplings, Green Beans
A warm meal for a cold night.

Thursday: PF Changs Mongolian Chicken, Potstickers, Rice, Broccoli
It’s Asian Thursday! I found some great tasting potstickers in the frozen food section at Publix (brand: Ling Ling) and I’ll be serving these with dinner tonight. 

Friday: Fried Catfish, Roasted Potatoes, Fried Okra
The kids have been wanting fish for a few weeks now, so I will accomodate. I’ll buy whatever fish is on sale this week, so it may not be catfish.

Saturday: (Crockpot) Roasted Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Sautéed Spinach
I will save the leftover chicken for Sunday’s meal of Chicken and Dressing Casserole.

I am linking up with, so be sure to check out that site for more Menu Plans to help you with getting dinner on the table!


Friday Motivation – Dreamers and Doers…


I saw this on Pinterest and thought it was very true. Who you decide to surround yourself with is so very important.

Proverbs 13:20 (NASB) says “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” and Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) states “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

Who will you choose to spend your time with?

dreamers and doers