Wednesday, September 28, 2011

No, I Don't Have It All Together! . . . And Neither Should You.

It is 11:30pm. I just finished most of the dishes (not all because the dishwasher was full and there was not enough room on the drying rack for the rest), picked up some toys that did not get cleaned up earlier, packed my diaper bag for tomorrow, changed into pj's and will probably be up for at least another hour since I decided to write this post. I occasionally have people comment to me "You have it all together." or "You're so organized" or my personal favorite "How do you do it all?!" (I really roll my eyes at that one!) The fact is I do not have it all together, I am not as organized as you'd think I would be or as much as I desire to be, and I do not do it all. "But you're the Neat Doctor!" you may be thinking. Yes, I do love organization & simplification. But I am human, and have a life and 2 little kids. If you walked in my house at any given moment you are bound to find something to question my organization skills. I do have many things that are clean, organized, and streamlined in my home & routines, but I am not where I want to be. Notice I used the word "want" and not "need." I think I am exactly where I "need" to be. Although, it has taken some times of prayer & reflection to realize that.

Tonight I am taking some time to highlight things I am not on top of. I think it is healthy for us to admit places in our lives where we are weak, need some work, and highlight our ducks that have fallen out of line. Highlighting our strengths comes naturally. Many of us post on Facebook what an awesome dinner we just made, how we lost 5lbs this week, or post pictures of our fun adventures. I would like to challenge you to share some things you need some polishing on. It is good for us to know & acknowledge that we are not perfect, we're all in this together, and to laugh together at the areas where we often stumble.

So here goes. I'll even post some pictures!

1) My laundry piles are really rediculously high right now. I'm trying to do at least one load a day, but somehow it got out of hand. I even had to break into my small underwear pile from before my pregnancy because I ran out. I still have 17lbs to lose to fit in those again. Nothing like tight underwear to make your day a little less comfortable!

2) My dining table is a pile of paperwork & clutter. This is a picture from 2 weeks ago, but it's not much different now. In fact, I think it's a little worse. I keep saying that one of these nights I'll tackle it - especially all the coupons & paperwork I need to purge. But, somehow it becomes late again & I'm stuck in a big whirlwind of life circling the table all day & just adding to the pile. I am hoping my little efforts will dwindle it down soon. Usually when something starts to bug me enough, I just have to block some extra time out to just finish it.

3. I have a few more clutter hot spots in my home. My desk has paperwork I need to go through and some empty wipes wrappers with codes to be entered. Our hallway still as stuff from our office (which we moved there over a year ago when we turned our office into our son's room) that has yet to be gone through & organized. My hall is filled with stuff I am in the process of getting rid of. In the corner of my bedroom is a pile of Christmas gifts covered with towels so my kids don't see them. My plan is to wrap them and store them in the garage. But somehow they have been sitting there since July.

4. My Kitchen often looks like this, with it only being clean for about 8 hours as I sleep.

5. I make mistakes with my scheduling. The other day I thought it was odd that the class I take with my son was not on my calendar. So I typed it back in. Thank goodness someone mentioned today that Thursday is a holiday & there would be no class. Oops. Yeah, I would have showed up wondering where everyone was.

6. As much as I try to keep things clean & sanitized, my shower has sadly taken a downward plunge. I cleaned it a little the other day, but it needs more than a little cleaning. It's just a task I hate doing, so it goes undone until I cannot stand it!

I am soooo tired right now. In fact, I have nodded off about 5 times while proofing this! But, I think this has been really therapeutic writing this. There are many more things I am not on top of right now. Will I ever get those things done? Yes, eventually one day they will be done. Although not at the same time like I so desire. And that's the way it's gotta be.

Monday, September 26, 2011

9/26/11 Menu Plan Monday: Underwood Farms CSA Small Box

Here's the menu plan for next week. I will be taking a break from menu planning for a few weeks, as we have some family events coming up that will get us out of our routine for a few weeks. I will resume posting these towards the end of October or beginning of November. Enjoy!

Small Box

1 Artichoke
1 French Morning Melon
1 Cherokee Tomato
2 Jalapenos
1 bunch Yellow Carrots
1 pound Yellow Wax Beans
1 bunch French Radish
6 Bi-color Corn
1 Romaine Lettuce
1 pound Summer Squash

*Melon will be balled & prepared to eat with breakfasts & lunch. Lettuce, carrots, corn & Tomato used for lunch salads & sandwiches.

Tuesday, September 27
I have never cooked an artichoke before. Luckily I found this:
Baked Fish

Wednesday, September 28
Fish Tacos (Made with some leftover fish from Tues.)
Black Bean & Corn relish (I'll throw in a tiny bit of Jalepeno)

Thursday, September 29
Burger Night!
Make it whatever kind of burger you want - we're trying to eat less meat, so we'll be opting for some Morningstar Farms burgers.
Corn on the cob
Sweet Potato Fries

Friday, September 30
Yellow Beans & Potatoes
I'll be doing the crock pot version of this:
Grilled Lemon Chicken

Saturday, October 1
Eat Out!

Sunday, October 2
Gyros with Radish Tzatziki
Yes, I know this is a repeat from last week but we loved it! I'll be using vegetarian sausages instead of lamb meat.

Monday, October 3
Summer Squash Casserole
Corn Bread with Jalepenos - I will just use a corn bread mix & add the jalepenos

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Greek Night! Opa! Plus a great way to disguise radishes!

Happy Sunday! Tonight I fixed Bobby Flay's recipe Gyros with Radish Tzatziki. This was highlighted on my menu plan as Thursday's dinner, but we ended up doing it tonight. It turned out wonderful! I absolutely hate radishes. I just cannot stand the taste. When I throw them in a salad, I end up picking them all out. They are a beautiful vegetable though & we've gotten them a few times in our CSA box. I figure we are bound to get more, so I really was on the hunt for some way to incorporate them into our meals in a tasty way. The radish tzatziki was so delicious! So much so that I think I may fix this every time we get radishes. The greek yogurt, onions, garlic, lemon zest & other spices really work together to add a certain zip to the rest of the dish. Instead of lamb meat, I fixed a Tofurkey Italian Sausage & just cut up fresh pineapple tomatoes with a tiny dash of salt to serve on the side. Lesson learned: if there is a produce item you do not like, keep hunting for a recipe that will transform it into something delectable. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall is in the Air! Fall Traditions, Savings & Tips

Happy first day of Fall! I love Fall. Although we do not get a "real" fall here in California, the winds do kick up, days get a little more overcast, & there's definitely a fall feeling in the air. This is my favorite season. It means there are only 3 months left in the year to celebrate, and the holidays are right around the corner. I'd like to share some things I've done to make fall fun, frugal & a little simpler in my household.

Fall Tree
First, I consider the first day of Fall in my house September 1st. Our new family tradition is to put up our Christmas tree on that day. Yes, I said Christmas tree! It's a small fake tree I purchased back in my single days about 10 years ago probably for around $50. It has definitely gotten some great use! We decorate it with orange lights, spiders, jack-o-lanterns, gourds, and some garland of autumn leaves. When November hits, I take off the spiders and turn around the jack-o-lanterns so they look like plain pumpkins for Thanksgiving. Then, the weekend after Thanksgiving all we have to do is swap out the decorations. Being a small tree it's a fairly easy task for our busy family. It's also super frugal since we do not have to spend money on a tree & it lasts a lot longer than a real one. It's a really green option too. We may decide to one day opt for a bigger or even real tree (hopefully a live one that can be replanted), but for now this fits our budget wonderfully and is fun! If you are considering starting a Fall Tree tradition, you might want to mark the day after Halloween on your calendars to hit the craft stores & score some great deals on decorations. Don't forget your coupons! Joann's usually has some wonderful coupons in the Sunday paper.

Halloween Costume Savings

Some people are just now starting to think about what Halloween costumes their kids, or even themselves are going to wear. I want to encourage you to think differently & plan way ahead next year. You could try to estimate what size your kids will be next year, and shop the stores & online for deals after Halloween. I found my kids costumes on a few months ago. Each box listed is only $5 plus shipping, usually totaling $15. They may still have a deal going where your first box is free. I was able to score 3 Halloween costumes for a total of $25. One box had 2 costumes. So, I sold one costume at a local consignment sale ( for, if memory serves me correctly around $8. I also sold another costume we used from last year there. It does take a little estimating to figure out what size growing kids will be. Estimate on the generous side! If you're lucky enough to have hand-me-downs from family & friends that can be a great way to save too! Last year we borrowed a costume from a friend. I also received a costume as a hand-me-down which will most likely fit my daughter next year. I will also be saving my son's costume in hopes that it will fit my daughter the following year. Goodwill is also an excellent place to shop for costumes. Also, if you are handy with the sewing machine, you will have a lot more variety at your fingertips for not too much cash!

Slow Cooker & Freezer Meals
I'd like to highlight 2 websites I recently discovered and absolutely love!
With the cool & busy days upon us, I would like to implement more Crock Pot Meals.
Also, I know a lot of people in colder climates do freezer cooking for the winter. I hope to do some of that too. Passionate Homemaking has what they are calling their "Nutritious Freezer Meal Carnival":
This is where I will be turning to stock my freezer soon!

Pumpkin Spice Lattes
Ahh yes, it's that time of year where you can once again enjoy Pumpkin Spice Lattes (PSL's) at Starbuck's again. I have successfully not bought a Starbuck's Latte in a long, long time! Instead, I have been turning in Starbuck's coffee grounds packages for free cups of regular coffee (You can get it iced too). But, I got to thinking, what if I could create my own at home & stumbled upon this at home recipe. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

9/19/11 Menu Plan Monday: Underwood Farms CSA Small Box

Every week I want to blog on topics other than just my meal planning. Somehow time is just eaten up and my efforts to simplify life so I would have time to blog about my other adventures just don't pan out. I am hoping this will change soon and I will figure balance & my routines out a little better. In the mean time, my family has to eat, so here goes. :)

We watched the documentary "Forks Over Knives" the other day. It is amazing. I highly recommend this film which is available on streaming Netflix. This will affect the recipes I am choosing, as I will focus more on the veggies and less on the meat & dairy. I am also going to do 1-2 leftover nights. Even when eating leftovers for lunch, I'm finding we just can't eat it all!

Small Box

1 Red Leaf Lettuce
1 Red Bell Pepper
2 White Bell Pepper
1 Brandywine Tomato
1 Pineapple Tomato
1 Green Cabbage
1 Green Kale
1 bunch Easter Radish
1 Galia Melon
1 bunch Round Carrots
1 basket Raspberries

*Lettuce used for salad & sandwiches. Tomatoes, Bell Pepper & some radishes also used for salad. Raspberries eaten with breakfasts, Melon cut up & eaten throughout the day. I gotta admit, I am not too fond of radishes. Blech! If anyone knows any great things to do to them to make them more tasty, please post!

Tuesday September 20

Turkey Sandwiches on whole wheat buns with lettuce & tomato
Kale Chips

Wednesday September 21

Chinese Chicken Salad

Thursday, September 22
I was looking for something different to do with the radishes & came across this yummy looking recipe. Great thing is, you can adapt this according to your needs. If you don't like the lamb, just make the tzatziki to go with another protein or even to use as a bread or veggie dip. He also highlights how to do the grilled tomatoes. So versatile!

Friday, September 23

Round Carrots, Salad & Baked Fish
(A fast food night!)

Saturday, September 24

Eat Out!

Sunday, September 25
Leftover night - chances are we'll have leftovers from our eating out dinner, or even from other dinners & lunches.

Monday, September 26
"Meatless Monday"
I'll be cooking up some Tofu & we'll eat any remaining salad & toss in whatever veggies we have left.
Red Pepper Hummus with Toasted Pita Triangles - I'm just substituting with the peppers that came in the Box.

Monday, September 12, 2011

9/12/11 Menu Plan Monday: Underwood Farms CSA Small Box

It's time to plan some wonderful meals again! I am finding that the small box is plenty enough for our family. In fact, we're about a day behind on my planning because we had so many leftovers! So, I will be starting the menu plan on Wednesday instead of Tuesday and opt out of an eating out day to save some cash. Enjoy!

Small Box

1 pound Sugar Snap Peas
1 Tub Orange Gem Tomatoes
1 pound Summer Squash
3 Bi-Color Corn
1 pound Blue Lake Beans
1 bunch Japanese Turnips
2 Green Bell Peppers
1 Green Leaf Lettuce
1 bunch Yellow Carrots

*Salad made with lettuce, carrots, 1 bell pepper, tomatoes, & some leftover corn. I will also be cooking some of the carrots for my baby & toddler and saving a few for the Sloppy Joe recipe.

Wednesday, September 14th

This turnip recipe was so delicious the other week we'll be doing it again!
Marinated Salmon

Thursday, September 15th
Corn on the cob

Friday, September 16th
Chicken with Creamy Mushrooms & Snap Peas

Saturday, September 17th

Summer Squash Sloppy Joe's

Sunday, September 18th
Baked Fish (variety TBD on trip to market)
Using the Blue Lake Beans here instead of the canned beans. I'll need to add a little water - hopefully this will turn out good!

Monday, September 19th
Sunset Patio Pasta using the Bell Pepper & any other appropriate leftover veggies.

Monday, September 5, 2011

9/5/11 Menu Plan Monday: Underwood Farms CSA SMALL Box

I hope everyone is having an amazing Labor Day Weekend! We decided to give the small box a try because we were finding the large box to be just a bit too much. It was a great variety & good amount of stuff, but we found ourselves not being able to quite eat up all of it. So, we'll give the small box a try for the next 4 weeks. The past few weeks I have found the need to flip flop a few recipes. Be flexible with your meal planning. The great thing about planning ahead is that you have a plan and can adapt it as the week goes on. At least you will already have shopped and have the ingredients at home all ready to go no matter what meal you decide on that night. I am also trying out some recipes from a great new website I discovered, With the busy Fall Schedule coming up, I will most likely be doing quite a few of these recipes!

Small Box

1 basket Blackberries
1 Romaine Lettuce
1 bunch Orange Carrots
1 Cherokee Tomato
1 Green Bell Pepper
1 Purple Bell Pepper
1 pound Yellow Wax Beans
1 pound Zucchini
1 Classic Eggplant
3 Bi-Color Corn
4 Roma Tomatoes

The raspberries will be eaten with breakfast. Lettuce, once again will be used for both salad & with sandwiches.

Tuesday September 6th
*If you haven't noticed by now, Tuesday is usually our "fast food" night.
Corn on the Cob
French Onion Chicken

Wednesday September 7th
*I have something going on this evening too! Another quickie meal!
We will have leftover chicken from the night before.
Salad using the lettuce, 1-2 tomatoes, leftover corn, 1 Bell Pepper

Thursday September 8th
Sweet & Spicy Yellow Beans
Grilled Steak

Friday September 9th
Cherry Coke Pulled Pork
Carrots (I am boiling the carrots & adding a little butter or spices as needed and per each individuals taste. I need to make them tender enough for my 10 month old to eat.

Saturday September 10th
Eat Out!

Sunday September 11th
Black Bean & Butternut Squash Chilli (Using a Bell Pepper from the box. I am not 100% sure butternut squash is in season, so I will use whatever squash I find.)
Corn Bread

Monday September 12th
"Meatless Monday"
Middle Eastern Eggplant Dish - using eggplant, tomatoes & zucchini
Brown Rice