Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Menu Plan Monday- March 28th

To say last week was alittle crazy would be an understatement. And this week isn't starting out much better. Poor Aiden is teething his canine teeth. So far one has broken through the gums (the top right) and the top left is very, very close. I hate teething. They are always so cranky, clingy and needing to nurse constantly. I want to comfort him, but my poor body can only take so much. And sleeping has been minimal. Add to that the fact that Cai and Ian have been waking up more during the night and Mark and I are very very tired parents. You would think we would be use to no sleep by now.
We did go register Ian for Kindergarten. But since he is after the August 1st cut off he is put on a waiting list for early enrollment. We won't find out till June or July is they have space for early enrollment kids. :( It makes things difficult on our end. We're looking into our options. Mostly I'm just frustrated. I'll acknowledge that the majority of my frustration comes from growing up in a system where Ian's mid-August birthday would not be a problem with the school system. In Kansas the cut off for enrollment September 1st. Thus I always thought the question of when to send Ian to kindergarten would be simply a debate Mark and I would have ourselves. Something we would have to evaluate (with the help of Preschool teachers) as to whether Ian was ready at the age of 5 or not. Not until moving to Indiana did jumping through school hurdles even cross my mind. All and all it's frustrating. I'm trying to remind myself that in the grand scheme of things it probably doesn't matter much. Sure he is ready for kindergarten. Sure I would like him to go. But as long as he is in some program next year, even preschool, he will grow. And for many summer birth kids, waiting a year even has benefits. So now we wait.
Ok, now that I have rambled on about our life, on to my menu.

Monday: lasagna rolls (from freezer) and peas
Tuesday: spinach squares and roasted potatoes (we didn't get to these last week)
Wednesday: soup and bread supper at church
Thursday: Veggie Burrito Bake
Friday:  homemade pizza using this no rise pizza crust
Saturday: Spaghetti with meat sauce 
Sunday:  Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos

For more menus be sure to visit Organizing Junkie.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday- March 21st

Last's weeks menu was written. And for the most part we stuck to it.  Just getting it posted seemed to slip through my fingers. But today I'm on top of things. Of course I'm attempting to write this while at our local coffee shop The Electric Brew. And that alone can be a feet, due to trying to keep an eye on boys. But the fact we are out of the house is nice. Hopefully it's a sign of a good week. So for the next week or more you might see alot of spinach on our menu. I picked up a 5lb bag at the farmers market cause that's the size Ian wanted. The fresh greens make me hopeful for the coming of spring veggies. I'm welcoming spring with open arms. Goodbye winter. We had fun, but it's time for something new. In some ways the changing of seasons makes me happy I live in the Midwest. I get variety. And new beauty in the different seasons around me.

Ok here's our menu

Monday: Spinach and ham quiche
Tuesday: Dinner with in-laws (And going to Kindergarten Registration for Ian!)
Wednesday: Lenten prayer and meal (I'm going to be participating in a day long fast with others from 8th Street Mennonite)
Thursday: Coconut milk curry over rice
Friday: Squash and sausage pasta from freezer, with spinach salad
Saturday: Spinach and Kale egg squares with potato side
Sunday: Soup

What are you cooking this week? For more menus check out Organizing Junkie.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First of Spring

Birds chirp, sun shines
We search the dirt and mud
for bits of new green
Waiting and watching for new growth
A welcomed sight of Spring

Friday, March 18, 2011

Soaking up the Sun

 When we first told our friends in Kansas that we were moving to Indiana, many (who are either from the area or have lived in the area) would jokingly tell me to say goodbye to the sun. I would laugh and think ya there is more clouds but surely it won't be TOO bad. Of course I had never spend more than 10 days here, even in the winter. Going weeks sometimes a month without actually seeing sunshine has changed my opinion. I never knew how much I depending on sunlight until now. 
And now that spring is approaching and the sun is slowly deciding to grace us with his presence I want to spend as much time in those rays as possible. Vitamin D how I need you. Thankfully the sunny weather has also been paired with warmer temperatures. Yesterday we got up in the 60s. Currently, as I'm writing this, weather.com says it is 70 degrees in Goshen. It's so nice to be outside without a coat. My boys are going crazy with excitement. Ian especially  since he would love to wear short sleeves all year round if I would let him. Crazy kid. Anyhoo, the sun, the warmth and the dry ground have allowed us to go outside. We run, 
we play ball,
 find sticks,
 slide down the slide,
and just soak up sunlight.
 It's amazing how alittle sunshine can brighten the day. Now I long for a backyard with a fence. Chasing three little boys around is tiring enough as it is. Keeping them out of the street is worse. We'll find the right place someday. And with any luck it will be sooner rather than later.
 Right now I can be grateful we have a backyard. And even more grateful for our wonderful swing set. I'm in constant amazement at the hours of fun that can come from a swing set and alittle imagination. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lent is NOT Clean

Pastor Brenda Sawatzky Paetkau began Sunday School last Sunday with the words "Lent is NOT clean." Those simple words have stayed with me all week. They have resonated a truth that I have in past years acknowledge without words and yet see fully with Brenda's statement. 
Lent is NOT clean. It's messy, just as our lives our messy. It's a time when we examine and reflect upon our own shortcomings with the hope that we might turn towards God's amazing grace. I like the season of Lent. Don't know why. I don't have the words to express my fondness of this season that often focuses on our sins. And I should note that I tend to dislike that word: sins. Maybe its due to the fact that we never are lefts with the confession of our sins, but are always give words of assurance, words telling us of God's unending love. Maybe its because as a perfectionist its a time to acknowledge that I am human with limits; I can't do everything. But whatever the reasons, I like Lent.

 And I think I like it because it is NOT clean. Lent is messy. And it falls during a time when our lives are messy. Spring is coming. Snow is melting. Mud and dirt cover the ground, our homes, our cars, our feet. The sun makes its appearance known, illuminating the dirt and mud in our lives. Yet among all that dirt and mess, new growth happens. Little green stems being to pop up with the promise of beautiful flowers soon to come. Isn't from the mess in our lives that we learn the hardest lessons in which we grown the most? I think this might be why I like Lent. Its a time to not only examine ourselves but to better ourselves. There is a structured time within the community of the church that we can turn back toward God. A time every year to strengthen our relationship with God and her people. 
So here is my confession. For all my perfectionist tendencies, I am a horrible housekeeper. My house is a constant state of disarray. Yes I realize I'm a mother of 3 small children, but somehow that fact does not diminish my guilt over my bad housekeeping skills. And yet my boys are healthy, happy and well loves. 
Despite my strong faith, my personal spiritual practices often feel rushed and unfulfilled.  And yet I still feel a deep connection to the divine through church services such as the Ash Wednesday service this week. So where does that leave me? It leaves me room to grow, to change. 
This Lent I'm choosing to do three things. 
        First I'm limiting my caffeine intake. No more soda. And less caffeinated coffee. Instead of making 2/3 caffeinated to 1/3 decaffeinated coffee in the mornings, I'm making 1/3 caffeinated to 2/3 decaffeinated. My hope is that with less caffeine in my system I'll feel better, less anxious, more alive. And then I can more fully interact with my family and community. 
        Second, I am taking 5 minutes out of each day to mediate and pray.  That might not seem like alot, but when you life is a constant go, go, go, even 5 minutes can feel like a lifetime. :) 
        Thirdly, and finally, I'm telling myself that the chaos in my life is OK. This is a stage in our life. I need to enjoy the now and not worry constantly about the mess in the kitchen or the toys on the floor. For as the ashes remind us, "From dust you came and to dust you shall return." I am limited, human, mortal. This life is all I know. So I should make the best of it and enjoy it in this very moment. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday Feast

Tomorrow being Ash Wednesday and the start of lent I wanted to make a big meal tonight. Not that we fast in this house, but still it felt right to acknowledge the day with good food. One of these days I'm going to get my mom's Carnival cookie recipe. As kids (and teenagers) she would make them almost every year for Fat Tuesday. She says it reminds her of her year in Switzerland.
Anyhoo, if you look at my menu plan I was going to roast a chicken in the crock pot. That plan quickly got  swapped. Yesterday without thinking I picked up Cai while already holding Aiden. And I wasn't careful about it. Cai had banged his head on the floor of the coffee shop we were in and I just wanted to confort him. Of course I ended up hurt my back in the process. So I have been hobbling around ever since. Today has been alittle better as I stretch and take pain meds. But still I'm not at my normal speed. Thus my morning got started late. And putting the chicken in the crock pot didn't happen. So wanted to still have chicken (cause chicken and mashed potatoes sounds soooo good), I started looking for a roasted chicken recipe. Mennonite Girls Can Cook saved the day! My friend Sarah in Kansas showed me this site before we moved. She loves it and I can see why. They have great recipes for home-style cooking. The recipe for Roasted Chicken isn't fancy. But it was easy to follow and I didn't get bogged down with other entries like I might have if i was looking in a big cookbook such as my Joy of Cooking (which I should mention I do use for things such as this). It turned out wonderful. I'm sad to say I didn't take any pictures. :( I served garlic mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and egg bread with it.
Have I mentioned I love my kitchen aid? It's it pretty!
I love my bread hook, and just the ability to make bread without having to knead it myself. Sure I'll admit that there is a peace in kneading bread. But on days like today when I can have my kitchen aid to the work it mean I get homemade bread when I might have not done it otherwise. Because with todays back pain there was no way.
 Boy I do appreciate this little appliance. And the bread, it turned out great. The perfect addition to our feast of food. Everyone ate their fill.
 And after picking up some toys, the boys enjoyed brownies with ice cream. It was a good way to celebrate day.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Boyne Highlands- 2011

Boyne Highlands Ski Trip has been an annual Saner tradition for the last 14 years. I believe there has only been one year where no one went up. Mark's folks,along with at least one of his siblings and some close friends go up and rent a townhouse for a weekend of skiing, swimming, games and fun. I have had the privilege of going three times now. My first Boyne trip was my sophomore year of college.
2005- Mark and Me on the slopes
 Mark and I had know each other for about a year and a half and had been dating for most of that time. 
2005- Me teaching myself to knit
My second Boyne trip was in 2008. Ian was just under 18 months old and I was in my second month of pregnancy with Cai
2008- Grandpa Saner reading to Ian and Josiah
Both trips were filled with fun. Skiing during the day. An evening in the heated pool. Playing games by the fireplace and lots of good food. This years trip was no different. Expect this trip I could drink :), and Ian joined in the skiing.
 We put Ian in ski school on Friday. He started at 9:45am with Ski lessons, had lunch, watched a movie and then was back out with more lessons at 2:30 till 4pm. By the end of the day he could make a "pizza" or wedge to slow down. He was pretty excited to share his day with us when we picked him up. I was relieved, cause I had run into him in the restroom that morning and he would hardly look at me. Even though I hugged him and helped him get his hat and sunglasses back on he did not say one word.  So I had been alittle worried about how he was doing. We swam in the outdoor heated pool after and then had dinner back at our townhouse. He was asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow. :) Saturday morning Mark and I took Ian out to the bunny hill (also know as Camelot). He did great! 
We went down the hill three times and by that third time he got 3/4 down before falling. I was so proud of him. And he had a constant smile on his face. I was sad to leave our little getaway. It's so nice to spend time up there. I soaked in the companionship I found with everyone who went.
 Enjoyed playing games such as Dutch Blitz, Speed Rummy, Imagine If, and My First Uno.
I got to watch the older kids on the trip play with the younger kids. I sat and knitted by the fire while someone else read a book. I ate and drank and just enjoyed. I'm looking forward to next year.

Check out the video of Ian skiing. And if you want a few more pictures view the February Album on Picasa Web. Cause I was busy enjoying myself, I didn't end up taking as many pictures as I would have liked.

Menu Plan Monday- March 7th

So we didn't eat the Pizza Braid, but I did make homemade pizza using a no rise crust recipe my sister-in-law shared with me. Mark's vote was that it was the best pizza crust I have made yet. I keep trying new crust recipes to try and find one we love. We might have a winner! With our squash I ended up making black bean and squash quesadillas. They turned out really well. I used the sweet potato quesadilla recipe in Simply in Season and substituted the potato with squash and added the beans. Yummy! So here is this weeks menu. Everyone is fighting colds again. Which is no fun. And Wednesday is Ash Wednesday so I'm trying to keep all this in mind with my menu. Hopefully it will all work.

Monday: Homemade chicken noodle soup and bread
Tuesday: Crock-pot chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, broccoli and some yummy dessert. (You got to each heavy on Fat Tuesday)
Wednesday: Autumn Vegetable Soup (I have some in my freezer!)
Thursday: Pizza Braid
Friday: Snap Pea Stir-Fry over spaghetti
Saturday: leftovers
Sunday: Chili

What's on your menu? Be sure to check out Organizing junkie's list of menus too.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lasagna Rolls

So I will get to our ski trip, but first I wanted to share about making lasagna rolls. These were a favorite meal growing up in my house, especially by my little brother. And they have come to be loved by my boys as well. To top off the fun, they are pretty simple to make. So when thinking about what meal to take and what to cook for said meal during our ski trip with family and friends they immediately came to mind. Knowing I could make them ahead of time meant less to worry about once we got to our cabin. Less work for me there meant more time to enjoy being on "vacation" and away from home. :) So I quickly volunteered to make dinner Thursday night and said I would bring lasagna rolls. It was a hit. Mark sauted broccoli, we made a salad and I brought up Parmesan, onion bread I baked the night before. Yummy! Anyway, I thought I would share the simple process of making them here. Hopefully my mother will forgive me for giving away her secrets. :) 

Lasagna Rolls

You'll need:
         box lasagna noodles- cooked
         1lb ground beef- browned
         28oz can of spaghetti sauce (or equal to)
         8-16oz (2-4cups) mozzarella cheese- shredded
         grease 9x13 casserole dish
        *see notes at end

I set everything within reach so I can easily assemble. I rinse my noodles in cold water and hang them over a bowl or pan to avoid sticking and allow for handling without burning my fingers. 
First I lay out my noodle on the counter or other clean surface. 
Than I spoon on the spaghetti sauce. 
Next spend on the meat and top with cheese. I tend to use alot of cheese. Which is why I tend to go through closer to 16oz rather than 8. 
After everything is on, you roll up the noodle and place in the pan. I can get three rolls across and 5 rolls down in a 9x13 pan. You could probably get 6 down depending on how tight you roll you noodles. But I tend to loose noodles in the cooking process and don't have enough complete cooked noodles to do 6 rows. I than add the rest of the sauce and cheese to the top of the rolls at the end. 
You place in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes. The great part about this recipe is that you can assemble and then freeze. My mom is always filling my freezer with pans of lasagna rolls for us. I have to say I love it. For our trip I made three 9x13 pans, put them in the freezer over night and then let them thaw on our 6 hour trip up to the mountain. It was great. 

*Some notes you should know. 
         1) Feel free to substitute a vegetable for the ground beef. I have used cook spinach several times now. In fact one of the pan for our trip had spinach instead of beef.  
         2) While when cooking for a big group I use store bought spaghetti sauce, I often will use a can of tomato sauce and spice it up with herbs and diced veggies such as carrots and pepper instead. 
         3) 8 oz of cheese really should work for you. I just like cheese and tend to go over board. Luckily my family doesn't complain. :)   

Menu Plan Monday: Feb 28th

Happy March everyone! I apologies for my silence. Between sickness and getting ready for our ski trip (which we just returned from) I was busy with life. And while I missed being away from this space, I felt it was worth focusing my energy elsewhere. So I'm going to make this post quick and move on to the next about our trip. We had a great time and it deserves a post of its own to explain the glory of our time. This weeks menu is sorta plain, but that's what it needed as we attempt to get back in the swing of things. My hope is that we can all stay healthy enough to resemble some semblance of normal around here. Really I could use a little predictability in the chaos that is our house. So here's hoping.

The Menu:

Monday: Chicken and rice casserole from freezer (Thank you Mom!) served with biscuits and peas
Tuesday: Cauliflower and lentil Curry, leftover onion bread, side veggie (maybe more peas, they are the boys' favorite)
Wednesday: Pizza Braid (Cai asked for pizza and this just sounds better to me. Hopefully it will count)
Thursday: Something with butternut squash.  Haven't decided yet, just know I have one that needs used
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: Freezer meal
Sunday: Breakfast

What's on your menu this week. Need help? Go check out Organizing Junkie for more menus and recipe links.