Monday, September 29, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

This week's menu plan is all about quick, easy and healthy eating. This time of year is so busy it seems! Each one of us is going in a million different directions, but one thing I will not compromise on is sitting down together as a family and having dinner. This week is particularly hectic as there is something scheduled for each night (and most days) of the week....I'm tired just thinking about it!

Monday: Easy Quiche and Fruit. Doug can easily assemble this recipe and pop it in the oven while I'm at work. It's one of those great one dish go-to meals! We'll make this version with spinach, parm cheese and sun dried tomatoes.

Tuesday: Beef Stew with Cornbread. I'll put this in the crockpot the night before and Doug can put on to cook in the morning.

Wednesday: Vegetable Paninis on Spinach Bread with a Sprout Salad. I put some mung beans on to sprout Sunday night and will dress them with the "Basic Dressing" from Nourishing Traditions.

Thursday: Scrambled Eggs with Homemade Biscuits and Sausage Gravy. My kids think it's so cool having breakfast for dinner. Thanks Linda for the biscuit recipe!

Friday: Going out of town for a family gathering. I'm sure we'll have a potluck supper and I think I'll make a pan of spinach enchiladas verde (layered instead of rolled individually) and jalapeno poppers to take (we don't eat meat on Fridays).

Saturday: No cooking tonight! We're ordering pizza for the kids and Doug and I are attending the Foundation for Life Gala in Sugarland. Looking forward to a "date night" with my husband...even if he will be working!

Sunday: Tilapia Filets and Bok Choi cooked in parchment paper.

Check out hundreds of other great menu plans at

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Regency dress - a preview

I sewed most of the afternoon on Saturday and basically finished my regency dress (it still needs hemming and buttons). The pattern was easy to sew and it went together very well....but it's way too big on me! I need to take in the sleeve cuff and waistline, both are pretty easy alterations, it's just finding the time to do it!
I need opinions! Do I just take it in as it is pinned on the dress form? Do I add a waist sash (in that teal/olive green you see in the paisley) that ties in the back? Or do I put in the apron with the sash? I'm also going to shorten the length...I don't need to do housework in a full on gown!
Leave me a comment on how to fix this dress!

I think I'll make another one from one of my vintage sheets. It really is a simple, lovely little dress!

Adding a new button!

Adding this great little site to my sidebar! I really enjoy her frugality and the site offers some really good, nutritionally sound recipes. There are always ways to tweak those pre-packaged items (like making one's own tortellini-it's really pretty easy!) and it's a good boost to those meal planning slumps! Thanks $5 Dinners!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sheet skirt

Made a 5-Minute Skirt from my thrift store sheets:
It's soft, light and super comfortable!

Feeding my addiction...

Hello, my name is JoAnn and I'm a thrift store addict!
Ryan, John Paul and I went out Friday afternoon and hit the local thrift stores. I was in a serious withdrawal and needed a quick fix ~ I was not disappointed! Right off the bat I found this awesome vintage serving set. Doug thinks it's hideous but I think it is fabulous beyond words!

Next Ryan stumbled upon some designer shirts for $2.50 a piece! Two Lacoste and one Abercrombie & Fitch (this score would have cost at least $120 retail!)

I found some vintage sheets to make several of these "5 Minutes Skirts". These will be so nice to wear when spring rolls around again (yeah, like I'm going to wait that long to wear them!)

And of course we hit the book piles! I found this pristine 1961 book entitled, "The Art of Fine Baking" and cannot wait to read every single page!

I also found some great little reproducible science supplements for our homeschooling.

It was a really good afternoon and the boys and I had fun digging through all the thrift. I think I've satisfied my addiction for now....or at least until next week!;-p

Friday, September 26, 2008

School ID's

I made the kids some "school" ID's this morning. We do go out and about when we are done with homework and folks always comment about the kids not being in school. Last week Ryan got harassed by the superintendent at the high school football game when he found out he was homeschooled. In Houston we never, ever were questioned. Homeschooling was very common in our area. Since moving to a small town, it seems like EVERYONE notices and wants to comment on the subject.
I read this article from the Homeschool Classroom and it sealed the deal on making some form of ID for the kids. On the back are Texas state laws regarding home education and the phone number to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. I'm thinking of also adding some snarky little remark in case the kids get hassled!
I made these cards from free scrapbooking downloads from Peppermint Creative!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Regency test run

I've been waiting for a trip to Houston to go fabric shopping for my regency dress pattern, but then I thought maybe I should make "test" version to see if I really like it! I went to the Walmart $2 bin and got this pretty fall paisley and a solid for a waistband and apron liner. I figure that it would be better to do it this way instead of ruining more expensive fabric.

I have grand plans this weekend to sew and watch hours and hours of Project Runway reruns!
And oh how I loves me some Project Runway! It's made sewing your own It's also brought back that lost art form.
When I was picking out this fabric I noticed lots of women looking through pattern books and browsing the fabric. There were several young mothers there with their little ones picking out costume patterns. It was very communal as we were waiting in line to get our fabric cut. Women commenting color combinations or asking questions about notions and such....makes me long for the days when quilting bees were a social occasion for women. I can just imagine lots of ladies sitting around a quilt sewing, talking, and drinking tea while their little ones played underfoot....Now it's Bunco, Pampered Chef, and gossip while the kids are at baseball and soccer practice! It leaves much to be desired.
Well, I'm off to cut my fabric and in the words of the super fabulous Tim Gunn, "Make it work!"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My new favorite blog!

Please pardon me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard...

Monday, September 22, 2008

40 Days for Life

40 Days for Life is a community-based campaign that draws attention to the evil of abortion through the use of a three-point program:

  • Prayer and fasting
  • Constant vigil
  • Community outreach

40 Days for Life takes a determined, peaceful approach to showing local communities the consequences of abortion in their own neighborhoods, for their own friends and families. It puts into action a desire to cooperate with God in the carrying out of His plan for the end of abortion in America.

The 40-day campaign tracks Biblical history, where God used 40-day periods to transform individuals, communities ... and the entire world. From Noah in the flood to Moses on the mountain to the disciples after Christ's resurrection, it is clear that God sees the transformative value of His people accepting and meeting a 40-day challenge.



Tea Time

Now that the mornings are getting cooler outside, I'm going back to enjoying a cup of hot tea in the mornings. I try to sneak in a little "tea time" in the mornings before the kids get up. I enjoy savoring that fragrant cup while watching my little cardinals at the feeder or catching up on my favorite blogs. The house is quiet...and the time is mine to relax and gather my thoughts and plans for the day.
I was looking in the pantry for my tea stash and found some lotus tea that Ryan picked up from Hong Kong Market in Chinatown. I've never tasted it but thought it would be a nice change from my regular oolong. I've got to remember to thank Ryan for picking up this little gem! Lotus tea is a mild green tea with the fragrance of the lotus flower (as opposed to the flower itself.) I imagine it tastes exactly what a lotus flower smells like! It is very delicate and lovely and I'm going to be sure to pick more of this up on our next trip to Chinatown!

To brew your own perfect cup of green tea, place your loose leaves (a heaping teaspoon for each cup) in a strainer or mesh bag. I found this awesome little tea pot at an estate sale. It makes exactly two cups.

Heat your filtered water to simmering hot. DO NOT boil the water! If the water is too hot, it will make your tea bitter.

Let your tea leaves steep for 3 minutes, not a minute longer. I actually set my timer for this! If the tea steeps too long then you will loose the health benefits of the green tea and it becomes very bitter. When your time is up, pour into a warmed cup with a teaspoon of raw honey. This tea didn't even need the sweetness of the honey!

So, ummm...does anyone know how to read tea leaves?

Is there a tall dark stranger in my future? Lottery winnings? Anything?

Oh well, be sure to toss the leaves from your strainer into your houseplants or compost pile. Plants LOVE this stuff!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I am so glad to be back to menu planning. Last week we were in a tizzy from the storm and then had house guests. I hate to admit that we were living off of pre-packaged and fast food there for a while...and our stomachs let us know it!!!
So it's time to get back to eating healthier. Here is my plan and I will be subbing fresh veggies and dried beans for the canned ingredients and hopefully we'll be on the road to feeling better soon.

Monday: Brown Rice and Veggie Stir Fry

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

Wednesday: Chicken Gumbo (but plan to fry my okra until crunchy and put on the top - I saw that on "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" and it looked so good!)

Thursday: Black Bean Burritos on homemade whole wheat tortillas

Friday: Lasagna with Spinach and Peppers

Saturday: Focaccia Pizza Sandwiches (now I need to find a good focaccia recipe!)

Sunday: 15 Bean Soup with Cornbread

Easy like Sunday morning...

...with the addition of buckwheat pancakes.

and a little help with the dishes.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hey Danny...

That's one big black eye you have there!

"It's NOT black!"

"It's green and purple.....duh!"

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Danny fought the TV stand won.

It necessitated a trip to the ER about 9pm last night and required some stitches. If you're the squeamish type, stop reading NOW.
Dan severed that little piece of skin that holds your upper lip to your gums along with the gum tissue that covered the roots of his right front and side teeth. He also has a large hematoma covering the upper right gums in his mouth. The doc put the stitches in without any lidocaine and Dan DIDN'T EVEN CRY...NOT ONCE!
Poor baby is super swollen today, but is running around like normal. He's eaten about fourteen popsicles this morning for breakfast and Doug and I feel so horrible that we'll probably let him eat 14 more for lunch!
Hey Dan, right now would probably be a good time to ask for a new bike...or a pony.

The nurse that took care of Danny couldn't believe he didn't cry and gave him a whole roll of stickers out of their stash!

"Mom....quit taking pictures of me....seriously, and get me another popsicle!"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ninja cat comes closer without moving!

I hate cats, but this is pretty funny!

Scenes from a storm...

You've got to see these amazing hurricane photos.

House guests

My niece and nephew and their family were without power in Houston so they came down to stay with us until it was restored. I was able to finally get my hands on this little angel...

The boys played non stop with their cousins, Sal and Cassandra were totally exhausted from their ordeal, and Doug and I were in Heaven holding Miss Avalea!
Please continue to pray for all of those in Ike's path.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

This sums it up...

We weathered the storm and are doing just fine. Our town just saw some minor wind gusts and about an inch or two of rain. We are feeling so very blessed right now! A few limbs are down, but our house was spared and we have power and water. Thank you merciful Lord!

I've tried calling our family and friends in Houston, some I can get, some I can't. Trying to persuade them to come on down this way is difficult! I understand not wanting to leave your home, but I don't see how they can go 2-3 weeks without power! Please say a prayer for all of those in Houston/Galveston and the surrounding's really bad right now, and will take quite some time to get up and running again.

If any of you need a place to stay, our doors are open!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The last 24 hours...

Packing up cherished memories.

Filing important documents.

Boarding up doors and windows.

Making a list for the store.
Taking apart the trampoline and putting patio furniture and flower pots in the garage...
Cleaning out the fridge because we're sure to be without power for several days...
Saving our pictures.
We've decided NOT to leave. The storm is going further up the coast and while we'll still get hurricane force winds, we will not bear the brunt of the "eye." We are going to Doug's parents' home during the storm. Their home is strong and not surrounded by huge trees like ours is. Before we go, Doug will bless our home with holy water and blessed salt and we will recite prayers of protection against storms. It will then all be in God's hands...

Praying for all of us in Ike's path...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Please pray!

It looks like we are going to take a direct hit from Ike. We are only 30 minutes from Matagorda Bay and the forcast track takes it right over our town. I am so frightened right now. We had planned to stay no matter what, but since now it looks like it might hit as a category 4 storm, we cannot risk our safety and stay. I fear so much for our home. I have prayed 13 years for a home of our own, and it is only by the grace of God that we live here. I know what God gives He can also take away...and that thought is bringing tears to my eyes right now. Please pray that God will give us the strength and grace to endure whatever happens.
I really fear we may lose our home...
Please, please, PLEASE pray for all in Ike's path!

Please, God, have mercy on us...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

More aprons!

Bring on the Halloween baking and crafts! I'm ready for action in this funky little apron!

Then there is this apron made from an old pair of jeans...

I got my regency dress pattern in the mail today and am sooo excited to get started, but she's going to have to wait until we see where IKE is going to hit....
I'm putting my sewing machine away and battening down the hatches. Say a prayer for all of us on the Texas Gulf Coast!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I've been scouring the internet for interesting meals for this week. I'm slowly trying to introduce new foods to the kids and broaden their pallets beyond simple mac & cheese! We are trying to stay away from processed foods and are still making most things from scratch...and the kids are getting better at not begging me bags of Funions or Doritos every time we go to the store. They just know it's not going to happen! I haven't had a Dr. Pepper (or ANY caffeine) in three months...I've even forgotten what they taste like! I know we are all the better for it! So we'll see how they react to this week's meal plan (last week's plan was a real success!)

Monday: Black Bean Burgers. I thought it was interesting and I'm sure the kids will get a kick out of them (they've never had a "veggie" burger before!) I'll put a bag of black beans on to soak Sunday night and cook them Monday morning. We'll use whole wheat buns from the store and I'll make a corn relish with bagged frozen corn.

Tuesday: Rosemary Hash Browns with Scrambled Eggs. We'll make our own hash browns from shredded potatoes (a good job for the kids!) and use yard eggs from our local butcher.

Wednesday: Blackened Chicken with Avocado Salad.

Thursday: Fennel and Chicken Flatbread served with a salad. I'll make some whole wheat pitas that morning. Fennel will be a new flavor around here, not sure how Doug and the kids will like it!

Friday: Fish Tacos with homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas. Doug will grill up some marinated tilapia and I'll serve it with a fresh pico de gallo. The kids really love these!

Saturday: Tomato & Olive Stuffed Portobello Caps. Will serve with whole wheat couscous. I'm hoping Doug won't mind grilling these, they sound really good! I think I'll top them with goat cheese instead of the mozzarella.

Sunday: 10 Grain Pancakes with scrambled eggs.

For hundreds (literally!) of awesome meal plans, check out

...and if you're up for a little "food for thought" check out this interesting table by the NYT on how our diets have changed from the 1970's until now!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Boo-Nana Bread

My little Danny never says 'banana," he says 'boo-nana.' It's so cute and he WILL correct you if you say it the proper way! I had a bunch of very ripe boo-nanas sitting on my counter last night and made a double batch of this simple bread for our breakfast this morning.

Daniel's BOO-Nana Bread:
(makes one loaf)

3-4 ripe boo-nanas, smashed
1/3 C. butter, melted
1 C. sugar (I use brown sugar)
1 egg, beaten
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 C. flour (I use one cup of unbleached all purp. and 1/2 cup whole wheat)

I usually add 2 TBS. of ground flax seeds and 1/3 cup wheat germ to sneak in added nutrition.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter into mashed boo-nanas. Add rest of the ingredients, stir, and then add flour in last. Pour into loaf pan and bake 50 minutes to one hour. Cool in pan.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Oh just PUKE!

Ask yourself...biased liberal media?

Feel free to drop the wonderfully fair and unbiased "journalists" at US magazine an email: CLICK HERE.

Broc & Carrot Slaw

I was looking for a healthy snack to keep in the fridge for when we get the munchies. I had gone to the local grocery store and saw a bag of "broccoli slaw" and thought, hey, I can make that! So I bought two huge stalks of organic broccoli and a bag of organic carrots and shredded them in the food processor. The color was just gorgeous! I then quadrupled the "basic dressing" recipe in Nourishing Traditions (substituted red wine vinegar for the raw vinegar and added a tablespoon of honey)and poured it over the top.
This stuff is seriously good...seriously!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Signs of Fall

The fact that it is 95 degrees outside is NOT deterring me from breaking out the fall decorations...heck, it's September. If I waited for cooler weather, I may not be decorating until January!

I even bought an inexpensive coat hanger and made Doug put it up by our side door!

Ohhhh...I can just imagine that first cold front! I'll be waiting with my thrift store afghans and a cup of hot tea!