Monday, June 28, 2010

Menu Plan Monday- June 28th

Last week was crazy. And I'm so glad it's over. We've had lots of strong storms blow through. Which has meant alot of yard clean up with fallen branches as well as busy days for Mark at work. Seems like the storms keep knocking out internet, power surges taking down computers that sort of thing on top of normal calls. In fact Mark had to replace our battery backup on our computer because of a surge. At least that's easier than replacing the whole computer. And it meant we didn't lose any of our data. :) Needless to say we didn't get to everything on the menu last week. I never did get to grill like I was hoping. Early softball games also caused me to change around meals in order to have food ready by the time Mark got home so that he could be at 6pm games. This week games are at 8pm, so hopefully I won't feel as rushed. But with later games it means that I will be home by myself in the evenings b/c it's too late to go with the boys. Oh well it just means Mark will owe me another night out. :) Friday last week I left Mark to feed the boys while I went out with Rachel and some of her friends from college. It was a great night out. I didn't realize how much I was needing a girls night out till I was out with them. I felts very refreshed after. :) Ok I'll stop rambling now. Here is the menu for this week. I'm getting excited about all the summer veggies at the farmer's market so I'm trying to find new ways to use fresh veggies.

Monday: Pasta with Sugar Snap Peas and bacon
Wednesday: Chicken, roasted potatoes and summer veggies
Thursday: Great Green Vegetable Pasta
Friday: Burrito Bowl
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Tomato basil mozzarella pasta

As always be sure to make a stop over at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Night at the Softball Field

Softball and baseball have quite quickly come a big part of the our lives this summer. Mark and Uncle Tex play in a church softball league for Uncle Tex's church. The boys all love going to watch the game when we can.
In addition to watching softball, we have been playing alot of baseball at home and at grandparent's house. Last summer Grandma Cindy brought back a soft baseball bat and ball from a Toledo Mudhens game (my uncle lives in Toledo). While it got played with some last summer, this summer it has been the most popular of our outside toys. After several nights of constant baseball we decided to get Ian his own mitt, along with a baseball tee. Both have been great additions. The boys love them, and I'm sorta kicking myself for not getting Cai a mitt as well. Even more fun is watching Ian and his cousin Josiah play ball. Currently Ian likes to pitch and Josiah likes to bat. This works well and the boys will spend hours playing together this way. In fact last night they did just that. Last night we went to watch Mark play ball. Aunt Rachel (Mark's sister) and I sat on blankets while the boys played ball almost the entire time, which was two hours. To be honest I think it was more fun to watch the boys play ball than to watch Mark. :) Either way it was a great summer evening of ball.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Menu Plan Monday- June 21st

Monday again? Gosh the weekend seemed to fly past. Even so it was a great weekend. Saturday we had a cookout out at Mark's folks house. Mark's great aunt was visiting so we were all getting together to hang out with her. My father-in-law grilled hamburgers and hotdogs and the rest of us brought side dishes. I brought this wonderful pesto potato salad I read about on Maya Made's blog. In my haste to make it I forgot to add the dill, but no one seemed to mind. We all really enjoyed it. Yesterday I made crepes with fresh fruit toppings for Mark for Father's Day. Cai helped me cut strawberries and apples, although I think he ate more than he helped. :) We also had crushed mulberries.
It was a great brunch. We than went out to eat to celebrate as well for supper. So this week I have lots of fresh veggies from the Farmer's Market to use. Here is the menu.

Monday: Spaghetti with zucchini
Tuesday: Confetti Meatloaf, bake potatoes and peas
Wednesday: Grilled chicken legs and veggies
Friday: leftovers for the family, I'm going out with my sister-in-law Rach :)
Saturday: Salmon Quesadillas
Sunday: Sausage Asparagus Skillet

Organizing Junkie has more menu to browse for more ideas. Go check it out!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hair Cut!!!

It has been over a year and half since I have had a hair cut. And thus as you can imagine it was getting long, especially since it was long to begin with. Top that with the fact that my hair normally grows fast and it was almost to the small of my back. So today I went and got my hair cut. I had decided a while back that not only did I need a trim but since it was so long I should donate it. Knowing that I needed to cut at least 10 inches to donate, and not knowing exactly how long that is, I had decided to cut it shoulder length. I figured this would be short enough to provide enough hair to donate, long enough to allow me to still wear it in a ponytail and short enough to provide some relief in the hot summer weather. When I got in and the stylist was measuring it she told me that 10 inches was just above the middle of my back. However, having already planned on a shoulder length hair style I decided to go ahead and cut it more than the required 10 inches.
I didn't measure the strains nor did I think to get a picture of my hair prior to cutting. But my guess would be I cut off around 12 to 13 inches at least. It feels weird to have shorter hair. But I already like the new look. Plus it's just so much lighter :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Menu Plan Monday- June 14th

Another Monday already? In my attempts to finally get organized I seemed to have lost track of time. Oh well. Here we go. Last weeks meals all works out well. The Mushroom, Mozzarella and Spinach Pasta was a huge success with the boys. Mark missed out because he had evening training for work. But I think he'll like it as well. Although I might decrease the spinach or puree it or something because Ian was not too found it. In fact he told me that he liked fresh spinach but not cooked. The new chicken recipe was pretty good. But I never made it to the farmers market so we didn't get to enjoy the three pea stir-fry. It's going to make an appearance on this weeks menu. Finally yesterday Mark invited an old high school buddy over for dinner. He moved back to town a few month before us. It was fun watching the two catch up. I think it'll be good for Mark to reestablish their friendship. I made Rhubarb Soda for the first time this season. I've been kicking myself for weeks not for not making it sooner. It turned out really well. Last spring I think I was too light on syrup and they were lacking alittle in taste. But last night I got it perfect and all three of us adults got to enjoy the refreshing drink. :) I want to try SouleMama's Ruby June but I don't have any tequilla. It will probably have to wait till next season. Something tells me I'm just not going to get around to it this year. Ok enough rambling. Here is what I'm planning on cooking this week.

Monday: Peanut butter noodles (requested by Ian)
Wednesday: Lemon baked chicken, 3 Pea stir fry, potato salad
Thursday: quiche
Friday: Hamburger Helper
Saturday: leftovers

So what's on your menu this week? As always go over to Organizing Junkie for more menus to browse.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Garage sale finds!!!

I'm so excited, I just had to share. Yesterday we spend the morning garage saleing. And while I didn't stumble upon alot of great finds, I did get 1 Great one. Check it out. A fire house with all it's accessories. Bunk beds, kitchen, bathroom, dispatch center, living room, firetruck, warning cones, fire hydrant and 4 firefighters to live and work among it all. And here is the great part, I paid $10. Yep! Did I say I was excited? Because I am. And so is Ian. He loves it, and spend about half the world cup game yesterday afternoon playing. And now that we're home from church he is playing again. Putting out fires and such. It's wonderful to watch. Makes my heart smile. My other finds were the Game of Life. The same old version I play when I visit my Dad's folks. A couple of books: a search and find and a removable sticker digger book. Both have made their way to the center box of the van between the boys. (sorry no pic, I'm too lazy to go out to the garage to get one) And a cloth doll that I'm going to fix up for Aiden. There are already fits over the doll I got Ian when Cai was born. So I figure it's time to get another one. Hopefully less fights will accrue with more than one to play with. Than again, it didn't work with me and my brother. He just want to annoy me by taken mine. And I'm well aware the same could be true of my children. :) But I'm hoping for the best. I hope everyone is enjoying this garage sale season. Any great finds?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Establishing routines- The Dishes

Mark and I have never been good at keeping up with dishes. The sad part is we have a dishwasher. And yet in the past we weren't always good at getting it unloaded and loaded back up in a timely manner. And thus dishes would be stacked on top so high that we did finailly start loading there wasn't room for them all. :( It's sad but true. And hand wash dishes are worse. However, my new kitchen is very small in comparison to the one in KS. My dishwasher has to either sit in my laundry room or my dining room b/c there is no place for it in the kitchen when it's not running (it's a portable dishwasher). Currently I've got it in the dining room, which I think is where it will stay. But I don't want to have to look at dirty dishes on top all day long. So in attempting to organize my house and my life and establish new routines in our new place, I have started making dish duty a regular part of life. Every morning I unload the dishwasher.
Cai has been really excited about helping with this job. He pulls out silverware and plates and brings them to me to put away. Things like plastic containers I let him put up in the cupboards b/c they are stored in the lower ones. Ian helps too on occasion. But I haven't started making this a requirement. YET I'm thinking in the new future it might be. I'm wanting to start some basic chores for the kids. Things that I know they are capable of and such. Simply having them help starts the idea.
Anyway, so after we get the dishwasher unloaded, I roll it into the dining room so we can load dishes through-out the day. Here I also get the boys help. After snack, lunch and dinner I have them load up their plates and silverware. Things such as bowls and cups that go in the top rack I load b/c it's harder for them to reach and I don't want things to drop and break. But after about four days of this I think it's working. It's becoming ingrained in my memory and routine. And I feel much better about the dishes. I've also started cleaning as I go while cooking. And making sure to run the dishwasher every evening after supper. What are your kitchen cleaning routines? My next goal is establishing toy clean up. Wish me luck. :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Kitchen, My Center

Just moments ago I was catching up on reading some of the blogs I follow. And I came across SouleMama's post Miss Mae's Coffee Crisp. She starts the post talking about how her kitchen is not only the center of her home but the center of her Self. And I was struck with the truth of this notion. The kitchen in my family is the heart of any and all matters. People congregate in the kitchen, despite more comfortable seating in other rooms. We chat, we laugh, we cry, we eat, we create, we pray, we share, we bear our hearts and souls to one another. I've long known the importance of a kitchen. It doesn't matter the location, be it my mother's, father's, grandmother's or uncle's house I gravitate to the kitchen. Yet until recently I haven't realized the depth in which my own self blossoms from my own kitchen.
Growing up my mother's kitchen was always a welcomed place. My mother is an extraordinary cook, who not only loves to cook but loves to feed. In my knowledge no one is excluded from my mother's table or my mother's kitchen. There is always room for a friend, even a stranger. Always enough food, despite her worries otherwise. And the love that flows out of her kitchen and out of her manifest in my own desire to feed those I love and more. While I never thought I would experience the joy my mother does while cooking, I always wanted my kitchen to be a place of joy and love. What I didn't expect was to find exactly that joy in which I watch my mother possess. I think I finally understand my mother's love and joy surrounding her kitchen. In my kitchen I cook and bake in order to feed those I love. I talk and laugh, deeply communicating with those around me. But more than all that, the daily rhythm of creating food, to nourish and nurture, connects me with the human race as a whole. Through my kitchen I am connected to my mother, my father, my grandmothers, and their mothers, to women and men both here and gone who too have stood in front of a stove or mixing bowl preparing to feed those around them. I find my center, my self, both as an individual and part of a community. I find peace. Most importantly, in the process of feeding others I feed me.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my kitchen. It's alot smaller than my old one and I'm still getting use to it. But slowly I'm growing more and more comfortable within this small space that I consider so important.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Morning Art

This morning Ian decided he wanted to paint. And by chance, I found the water colors (they have been missing, cause I couldn't remember where I had stored them). So morning painting was in order. I got out some paper, put the water colors between Ian and Cai and let them create to their little hearts content. It was fun watching them. And even more fun hearing Ian try and explain how to use the water colors and how to paint with his figures. :) And the great part about it was: it was so simple to clean up the mess. I think water colors have become my favorite type of paint. Easy for them to use and easy for me to clean. Now I feel a deep desire to go out and get some frames so I can hang their creations on the wall in a more permanent manor.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Menu Plan Monday- June 7th

Well last weeks meals were a hit. Or at least what was made was. Things got thrown off early on when we got an invite to dinner with family. Which was lovely. Asparagus pasta, salad and strawberry pie for dessert. It was great. The Salmon Quesadillas turned out really good. Mark, who isn't a big fish eater, told me that I could make them again. And that he enjoyed them. They will will be making a second appearance really soon I think. :) So here is this weeks menu. What's your plan for the week?

Monday: Strawberry Souffle, Crepes and muffins
Wednesday: Roasted chicken, salad, three pea stir-fry
Thursday: Pizza Braid
Friday: Sweet Potato Quesadillas
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Spaghetti and meat sauce

For more menus visit Organizing Junkie's website

Fresh Picked Strawberries

This morning I got up early to go pick strawberries at one of the local strawberry patches. My sister in-law was going to go with me, but sadly her son was up every 2 hours last night and she didn't want to wake him. However, I still had a great time picking myself. In some ways it was really nice just to be me. No kids, no one else to make conversation with. Just me, my thoughts, the early morning sun and dew and beautiful strawberries at my fingertips. Once I got Aiden down for his morning nap, the older boys and me cleaned and cut up my finds. We set up an assembly line of sorts. Ian cleaned and put into a clean bowl. Cai handed me strawberries and I cut. Of course Cai continued to steal bite out of them. So the boys swapped places. I put water in a bowl for Cai to place the strawberries in. And then Ian handed me the ones from the water. It was slow moving with lots of stops for tasting. But I did get them all washed and cut. And the boys each got a small bowl of fresh strawberries to enjoy for snack. I think I might attempt to take them soon to pick. Although I won't get as many they will enjoy it enough to make it worth it. But for now we'll enjoy the ones we have. :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

DeFries Gardens- Calendar Garden

Today we went with my in-laws to DeFries Gardens Calendar Garden. It is a beautiful place. I was taken away with the beauty of the gardens. And the overall layout of it.
The circular garden is sectioned off into the four seasons. And each season is planted according to month. The brick path has the days of the month written along it and there are posts indicating the start of each month. A beautiful pond lays at the center of the garden. Lily pads float in the pond. And we spotted two green frogs resting in the water among them. There is a deck you can sit up on and look out over the garden. We were all amazed at the stark difference between the June section compared to May and July. The colorful flowers stand out among the bright greens of the rest. Garden is laid out so that you enter into the garden in Spring. We then followed the path counter clockwise towards Autumn. In addition to the frogs in the pond, we saw a small garden snake. Cai was fasinated by the snake and even decided to hand over the side of the garden house in order to see him closer. I so wish we could have stayed longer. There were several corners I would have liked to just sit and breath in the air. As a little girl one of my favorite books was the secret garden. And while I've seen many lovely gardens, there are only a hand full that life up to my imagined place. I think this one makes the list. There was something very peaceful about not only the flowers and plants but the circular movement itself. Almost like a labyrinth. As we climbed back in the car I told Mark we must go back. I want to see what it looks like next month. And in the fall and winter. Plus Ian had fallen asleep on the way and we let him sleep in the car. My mother and father in-law took turns saying with him so we could go enjoy the garden together. :) I hope he will enjoy it as much as the rest of us did.

First Fridays

First Fridays is a monthly affair in Goshen. And all year round too. Businesses open stay open late, stores have specials, churches and other organizations have food and people flock downtown for the evening. My first time going to First Fridays was actually back in January. It was the second annual ice sculpture contest. And although it was snowing pretty heavily it was so fun to walk up and down the streets. Plus the fire station had opened up for the public to come in and see the fire engines. There was a demonstration on how to correctly use a fire extinguisher and you could even sit in one of the big engines. :) Lots of fun for our boys.

Anyway, this last Friday was June's First Friday. It started off the summer music series. Which we didn't get to hear any of because they had moved the groups inside due to light rain and we didn't know the indoor location. However we did have fun. Maple City Market was grilling hamburgers made from local beef. Which Ian, Cai and I enjoyed. We stopped in Ten Thousand Villages
The boys tried out the obstacle course they had created for their push toys And then we ended up on the court house lawn, eating popcorn, Nathan's hotdogs from the hotdog stand and watching people learn to juggle. Finally we stood in line for balloon animals for Cai and Ian. Ian got a dog and Cai got a caterpillar. While it sprinkled for a few minutes in the beginning, it turned out to be a lovely night. I plan on enjoying the July one come next month. Although I think I would like for June to be lazy in its passing. I'm hoping to really enjoy the summer months.