linkups · Margin Mom · monday

What Weekends are Really For

It’s Monday morning and my to-do list looks the same as it did Friday afternoon.  We’re still in the midst of this project, just today did I rescue the hall from the overflowing hamper, and I really should bake some bread for these carb-ivore kids who are always, always hungry.  I suppose I could have gotten ahead of the game this weekend.  We could have hung that next closet shelf and organized the craft supplies and rolled the dough for the best cinnamon bread ever.

But we didn’t.  We played bananagrams and had a sleepover and snuggled under blankets on the couch while the fake fireplace tried in vain to warm the house in this arctic weather that Southerners don’t have the bones for. I fell asleep watching Avatar and read the January and February issues of Southern Living which inspired me to fall in love with my beloved casseroles all over again.  The kids made big messes I complained about and on Saturday night we scrapped the menu plans and got Chinese takeout.

Amelia told me how good she was at Candy Crush while I tried to take a nap with her tucked in next to  me on Sunday afternoon after I took the big girls to the annual GA Tea at church and ate way more finger sandwiches and tiny cookies than can possibly be good for my waistline. I tried to think about all the things I should have been doing but gave up and gave in to the simpleness of quiet rest.

There’s always a list.  We never get to the end of it.

But sometimes weekends aren’t for crossing off the to-do’s but for embracing the to-don’ts. Sometimes I get driven by that little voice that tells me I could be working more and accomplishing much and living well but enjoying less. Sometimes that voice is good motivation, reminding me that I shouldn’t always just waste this precious time, but more often, it’s a distraction that keeps me from just becoming quiet and seeking fulfillment in the life that’s pulsing all around me.

We have to be full before we can pour out.  So maybe weekends, often, are for that.  For sitting still and filling up and resting well before Monday comes around again.

So, maybe, next weekend, you let go of the guilt that list brings and instead do something you don’t think you should.  Hike instead of organize.  Watch a movie instead of folding laundry.  Eat takeout instead of making a meal. Give yourself a respite and let the goodness of grace fill you back up.

What did your weekend look like? 

Sharing with the Multitudes on Monday community at A Holy Experience. 

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gus · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · monday · reflections

Monday Catch-Up

Joshua finally found a use for all the baby food jars.  Seed starters.  Squash and zucchini and cucumbers.  Except he forgot to label the jars and can’t remember which is which.  
Oh, well.  The girls and I planted these this weekend.  In the rain. He tried to recover from the stomach bug (yeah, that’s still lingering around) and went to a community theater board retreat.
I went to the grocery store with all four (again, in the rain) because I’m evidently an eternal optimist who really believes each time will be better than the last.  Four doughnuts, $75, and one inappropriate response to the lady who thought I was pregnant later, I decided to stop letting my menu plan control my life.
Speaking of menu planning, I’m trying to get an even tighter grasp on our even tighter grocery budget by planning for two weeks worth of meals at a time.  Any tips?  I’ve found endless planners on Pinterest, but I have yet to really be able to make this work for me.  Primarily because I actually like to grocery shop, hence the eternal optimism.  
But I like to cook and I like to plan and so menus work well for us.  I also like to coupon and watch sales cycles and I’m coming around to price matching, and since the grocery store is the ONLY retail therapy I get these days, I’m try to work it to my advantage.
I found this today the moment I clicked into Pinterest for the first time in a couple weeks.  I love it when everything I’m looking for is in one place.

The planning served us well last week when we were busy helping with the annual spring musical at my old school.  For me, right now, the best part of theater is that it’s a family affair.  I helped direct, Joshua set up lights, and the big girls danced in the show.  
It was also Gus’s first birthday last week.  Unfortunately for him, we spent it in dress rehearsal.  But that was probably best.  It’s been a difficult milestone for me to wrap my mind around. 

He’s happy.  He’s beautiful.  He’s a precious gift, a  realization that is all the more foremost in my mind as of late.
Many of us are sharing heavy hearts right now, and right now, I am only finding comfort in the precious words of the Lord.  I will never understand His ways, but I will choose to trust His hand.

amelia · birthdays · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · monday · pinterest

A Monday Menu & A Saturday Party

So last week my post about what’s been cooking for dinner around here was pretty lame.  It was actually more about snow than food.  But that’s what we were loving last weekend, so that’s what got written.  I did post a picture of my roasted chicken, so this week I give you the source of that deliciousness.  And what is clearly a superior food photo.

Over the weekend, we needed a power breakfast.  You know, something more than cereal because it requires a bit of protein to keep up with a passel of toddlers at a three-year old’s birthday party.  An early Saturday morning Pinterest search revealed this.
Crescent rolls, scrambled eggs, bacon, and cheese.  Yes, please.  Except bacon isn’t a staple in my house unless it’s on sale, so I opted for lining my crescents with deli ham.  Highly recommended.
So here’s a menu idea for you this week.  We’re having leftover soup, church dinner, and a special Valentine’s feast that will include homemade rice-a-roni and brussel sprouts because that’s what they requested.
I know.  My kids are weird.
But you could have this.
My husband gets a kick out of how often I take pictures of the food I’m making.  Sometimes, though, he gets really into it and decides to arrange his supper like he’s in a fancy restaurant.  I made my balsamic pork roast (which is actually a Boston Butt) in the crockpot.  That’s brown rice drizzled with the sauce and these green beans.  Looks more impressive than it probably was.
Okay, that’s a lie.  It was really, really good.  I have only great love for balsamic vinegar.
Party time!  Amelia’s birthday is still a week away, but for various reasons, we had her party this past weekend.  We had gorgeous weather, sweet friends, and only a couple of meltdowns (me and the birthday girl).  Seriously, these parties are really too much work.
Except that morning, she crawled up in my lap and said, “Mama!  Today is my birfday party?”  When I said yes, she flung those arms that are still baby-chubby around my neck and squeezed.
So, the meltdown was worth it after all.

Yes, those are balloons in that horse corral.  She wanted both.  Don’t argue with the birthday girl.  Or the mama who forgot to order the cake and had to buy one off the shelf.
The fence is pretzel sticks.  The horses were borrowed from a game of big sister’s.
I’m not a treat bag fan.  I think party favors should be simple and creative.  We had a horse theme, so this is horse food, i.e. candy corn and dinner mints to represent sugar cubes.
Yes, at the Dollar Tree in Buford you can buy candy corn in February.  Who knew?
These are upcycled baby food jars with tags assembled by the birthday girl’s daddy.
My cowboy.
Opening presents with Sam.  He’s two days older, so he was the helper. He also has one of the sweetest mamas in the world.
Mary Lynn gave her legos.  I think she’s trying to  convince Amelia that it’s okay for her to move far, far away, but we aren’t falling for it.

Linking up with
Miscellany Monday
A Mama’s Story

amelia · gus · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · joshua · madelynne · monday

And Then It Snowed….

We had no idea it was coming.  In fact, we didn’t alter our plans to attend the UGA Gym Dog meet just because the white stuff was falling because we really didn’t think it would amount to anything.

I’m sure to all those folks who think it’s warm when we’re freezing at 34 degrees don’t think this amounts to much.

But we’re in Georgia, baby.  This is as good as it gets.

And then it was gone.

And it was Monday.  I roasted a chicken.

cooking · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · monday

A Monday Menu: Broccoli-Beef Wellington

I like to make plans.  Unfortunately, plans don’t always work the way we hope.  So, lately instead of trying to make grand, sweeping plans for the big picture, I’m taking things one day at a time.

By far the best plans I make these days involve food.  Although I worked full-time for the past eight years, I never really embraced menu-planning until my first year at home.  Now it would be one of my top recommendations to any overwhelmed mom who is working outside the home.  If that’s you, I wish you simple prep, easy cleanup, and hearty dinners that provide enough for lunch leftovers.  That’s why, I’m going to start featuring some of our weeknight favorites here.

Since I’m home full-time, I have gotten a bit more into cooking completely from scratch.  I rarely buy condensed soups anymore, I bake homemade bread, I canned my first batch of apple butter this past October.  But when I was working, some nights I barely had time to open canned soup, so feel free to adjust any recipe to meet your family’s needs and schedule.

Here’s a sample of one of our latest favorite meals that’s quick, one-dish, and simple, yet looks impressive.

Simple Broccoli-Beef Wellington
1 lb ground beef
9 oz package frozen broccoli, thawed (or cheat like me and buy a steamer bag)
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
2 8 oz cans of crescent rolls

Season to taste and brown ground beef with onion.  Drain. Add the sour cream and cheese and mix well.  Add the broccoli (should be slightly tender).  Cover and let simmer while you prepare the dish.  Spray a 13×9 glass dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Open one can of crescents.  Spread them across bottom of the dish.

  

I have no idea how I lucked out and this worked out so perfectly.  That never ever happens.  Note: You can use the crescent sheets, but I find that it only takes about a can and a half, so then you still have to find something to do with the extra dough.  Next, spread the ground beef mixture.  If it seems a little dry, you can always add more another tablespoon of sour cream or milk.  Then, top with the remaining cresents.

Like I said, you might have extra crescent dough.  For this one, I got a little fancy (translation: making it blog worthy) and cut the remaining dough to fill in extra space and then made a B on top for our last name.  Usually I just roll the extra into their regular shape and bake separately.  But tonight I didn’t want to dirty another pan or listen to the whining since I barely had two rolls left, and I’m feeding four other people.  Now that’s done, you can brush the top with a beaten egg if you want.  Bake 18-20 minutes at 375.

Enjoy!  I served this last week with a side of glazed carrots.  It also goes well with salad.  If you don’t care about carbs or are stretching it, maybe some mashed potatoes would be yummy, too!

One of the great things about this dish, is it’s also very budget friendly.  I buy the crescents on sale with coupons, always buy the beef on sale in large quantities that I can divide and freeze, coupons again for the broccoli and sour cream.

Hope it makes your Monday!

For some of our other family favorites, go here.  I am slowly building this page so check back often!

cooking · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · monday

Some Monday Magic

Today is gray.   That steely misty kind of gray that makes you think it’s only about 40 degrees outside and the day is demanding scarves and hot lattes.  Except it’s 65 and humid.  That’s just a yucky kind of gray.

So liven up your Monday with this.  Those muffins are magical with a caramel latte, I promise.

I had some of my fellow MOPS moms over the other morning to drink coffee and sample new recipes and delay the laundry just a little longer.  There’s nothing like spending the morning in the company of others who know the woes of cloth diapering, potty training, nursing, and bribing toddlers.  I have a friend who told the funniest story about how she tells her son she’ll give him a dollar if he goes potty.  So he does and she does, but then he sets that dollar down and runs off to play.  So she picks up the dollar and uses it for the next time.  Isn’t it great three year olds are so easily fooled?

Anyway, here’s what you really need to know.  Those muffins?  Cranberry-Orange Coffee Cakes with an Orange Glaze adapted from this month’s Better Homes and Gardens.  I think they might be my favorite muffins ever.   At least until I make the Pumpkin Cream Cheese muffin recipe I found the other day.

Cranberry-Orange Coffee Cakes

2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 c butter, softened
1/2 c each packed brown and granulated sugars
1 c plain yogurt (original uses ricotta cheese)
1 egg
1 Tbsp. finely shredded orange peel
1 Tbsp. orange juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped (about half a bag and don’t use dried)
1/2 tsp ground ginger (original uses 2 Tbsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger but I can’t afford that)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease muffin tins (I made 12 regular muffins and 12 mini muffins, orignal calls for 15 2-inch muffin cups).  Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and 1/4 tsp salt.  In a large bowl beat butter and sugars with electric mixer until fluffy.  Beat in yogurt, egg, orange peel, orange juice, and vanilla.  (Note: I zested my orange and then squeezed it for the juice.) Stir in flour mixture until just combined.  Fold in cranberries and ginger.

2.  Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.  Bake 20-25 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove and cool slightly.  Place on plate and glaze.  If you want, you can add some chopped walnuts or pecans, but I kind of abhor nuts in my bread, so that’s your call.

Orange Glaze: Combine 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp. orange juice, and 1/2 tsp vanilla.  Stir in 2 Tbsp. melted butter and 1/2 tsp. shredded orange peel.  If too thin, add more sugar.  I like to pour it over the warm muffins.  Store leftovers in fridge and reheat for ten seconds in the microwave.

If you don’t want muffins, let me recommend the Caramel-Apple Coffee Cake from Southern Living.  It’s on page 112 if you still get pages you actually turn like I do.  It’s incredible.  You can also click here for the recipe.  Just know it makes way more than enough streusel and caramel toppings, so plan another use for those leftovers!

So here’s a picture of one thing we did today.  Gus is a really good junk sorter.  Pretty much everything behind him except that riding toy whose tail is sticking out and our hiking backpack will be donated somewhere soon.  And by “junk” I really mean perfectly useful items others will want and use but I don’t need.
   

Linked up with Carissa today.

miscellany monday at lowercase letters
31 Days to Embracing Motherhood · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · monday · ramblings

31 Days Embracing Motherhood: the good, the bad, the ugly…

motherhood moments I embraced this weekend….and moments when Jesus embraced me and met our momentary needs….
knowing the ER doc at one in the morning on a friday night
impromptu alone time (well, just one baby) with my husband all weekend

when my mama buys my daughter shoes i really can’t afford right now
 and calls it early christmas
three half-pecks of apples waiting for apple butter, apple pie, apple cake and girls’ lunches
who knew they could go so far?
all the ingredients for dinner in the freezer or the pantry 
when the baby finally takes a nap that lasts longer than 45 minutes
homemade buttermilk biscuits and pear preserves

ibuprofen/tylenol/ibuprofen/tylenol every.4.hours.for.two.days
but it worked.
accidents in amelia’s panties…but at least she’s wearing panties

maybe someday i will be as cool as my mama and take my grandchildren
backpacking on the AT

so many g-diapers and i didn’t spend a dime (thanks Amy!)
the guilty feeling when i realize that i have elderly relatives right here who need me
and children who love to visit their greats so we will go more often

Leave a comment and tell me some moments you’ve embraced lately; let me know my words aren’t just going into the abyss 🙂

Linking up with  lowercase letters.
this post is part of my 31 Days series.  For all the other posts, go here.