Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Maddie and I love to watch cooking shows together.  Last night, Maddie was a bit hesitant to go to bed so I turned on Everyday Italian with Giada DeLaurentiis. The entire time while we were snuggling, Maddie was critiquing Giada's recipes and suggesting we try a few at home.

This morning for breakfast we tried her blueberry ricotta pancakes recipe minus the blueberries. We decided to add some lemon zest instead and they were DELICIOUS as you can tell by Maddie's thumbs up.

I love cooking with Maddie. She is always eager to try new things when she has helped make it.  Last night, she said she wanted to make Roman Style Chicken. She said she wasn't sure if she would like it, but she would try it.

I'm so grateful to have a child who is willing to try new things and help me in the kitchen.

Should I be planning a face lift?

Sunday at church Pastor Jeff asked the congregation to introduce them self to someone you don’t know and tell that person what you are grateful for today? I enjoy this exercise; I get to meet someone new and have a quick conversation.
During today's meet and greet; I told this lovely lady I was grateful my daughter put her coat on by herself and was ready and waiting for me to get my act together to leave for church. Her response was to turn to my friend, who is a few years older than me, and ask her if she was my daughter! I don't think I look old enough to have a daughter in their thirties, do I?  This either means, I had a children at age 13 or I look like I’m in my sixties. I don’t know which is worse.

Best yet, is this is not the first time that this has happened! Another friend, was told it nice to be able to have lunch with her mom, meaning ME!!!!

So please be honest, do I need some work done?

Disclaimer: I know I don’t need work done except maybe a nose job, tummy tuck, and butt implants. JUST KIDDING!!! I'm fine the way I am, but should I be investing in the really expensive anti-wrinkle cream?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Meal Plan 1/29/12

I just got done clipping, sorting, getting my coupons together, and making my list for the upcoming week. I should be focusing more on these tasks, but Pinterest has the majority of my attention, as it has for weeks. I have pinned so many food ideas for the upcoming weeks, but since I've already meal planned into March, I think I have to move some things around.

I really would like to try to make this Skinny Chicken Rollatini and this crispy-southwest-chicken-wraps. They both look yummy and healthy. There are some desserts I would like to make too, but I would rather waste my extra calories on a yummy dinner. I'm still nursing this ankle injury, making exercising difficult. I have been doing some light weight lifting at home and lots and lots of ab exercises, but I'm getting bored.

This weeks menu is 
Sun Jan 29
Mon Jan 30
Eggplant parm
Tue Jan 31
Wed Feb 1
Orecchiette with sweet sausage with baby spinach
Thu Feb 2
Fri Feb 3
Sheppard s pie
Sat Feb 4
Eggs, bacon for Saturday family breakfast

leftovers for Saturday dinner 
Sun Feb 5
Shrimp dumplings with sunomono and rice

There are a few deals this week at Shop Rite head over to Living Rich with Coupons for the match-ups.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Birdhouse craft

Over the holidays, Maddie and I made gifts for everyone. She has a love for crafting. One of my favorite crafts we did, was make a bird seed covered birdhouse.

Somehow, we had a HUGE bag of leftover birdseed and I saw in a catalog a beautiful birdhouse covered in seed for $50.00. It was the prefect gift for my Grand-mom, but she would kill me for buying a 50.00 birdhouse. I Googled ways to affix birdseed and learned that since Elmer's glue is non-toxic it was safe for birds.  And so it started.

We went to A.C Moore armed with 50% off coupons. Maddie picked a lovely wooden birdhouse. I sifted the birdseed in a colander into light seed and dark sunflower seeds. 


Maddie painted the birdhouse pink and purple. We then painted Elmer's glue onto the roof of the house and put the seed on the roof and let the glue dry. 

Then we painted the front and side of the house with glue and put the light seed on.

This was an easy craft, albeit messy, for Maddie to do and so much more visually pleasing than a pine cone dipped in peanut butter.

Joining the 21st century

At the beginning of September, Rob and I decided to merge into a Google calendar instead of the traditional wall, desk, and planner varieties. Previously, I had a calendar for my meal planning, one for our appointments, one on my phone, and one was on Rob's phone. With all the different calendars, we would "occasionally" forget that the other had made plans, inform them at all that plans had been made, or even writing any of it down causing some discord. Now everything is at fingertips on our smartphones. 

We did have a few SNAFU’s when we switched over to the digital world, like a missed dentist appointment and Rob has forgotten a few times to update or even look at his calendar. However, over all it has been amazing to have all of the meal plans, appointments, MOPS info, Rob's lodge meeting schedule, and the kids school stuff in one place that syncs automatically

If you have a Gmail account and a smartphone I would highly recommend upgrading to Google paperless calendar variety. 

This is what a week in the life of the Graham family looks like:

Sun Jan 22
Dinner - Chicken gyros and salad
Church @ 9am
Mon Jan 23
Dinner Ratatouille Panini
12:30pm – 2:30pm Play date with Maddie’s friends from school 
7:00pm – 9:00pm Officer's Rehearsal - Lodge 
Tue Jan 24
Dinner-Fried eggs, potatoes, sausage
10:00am – 12:00pm Maddie’s field trip to aquarium 
1:30pm – 2:30pm DANCE CLASS  
7:00pm – 7:30pm Trash / Recycling out 
Wed Jan 25
Dinner-Bulgogi, rice, peas
7:00am – 8:00am Mail check for Cape May rental
9:00am – 11:30am Bible study  
10:15am – 11:15am Lil’s Dr. appt
Thu Jan 26
Dinner- Beefaroni
10:00am – 11:00am Lil’s Eye dr. appt
10:30am – 11:30am Maddie eye appt
6:30pm – 9:30pm Dinner out with the MOPS ladies
Fri Jan 27
Dinner-Italian sausage and tortellini soup
no school Alec 
Sat Jan 28
Breakfast- Breakfast pizza
8:00am – 9:00am Morning mission @ urban promise
Dinner- leftovers

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Meal Plan 1/16/12

This week seems to be a fairly mellow week. I don't have much planned. Weird!!! I'll have to fill the time crafting and cleaning.  Maddie has off from school on Monday so we will head to store together. Maybe even pick up some sushi for lunch, Maddie's favorite. 

Mon Jan 16

Roast beef sandwiches, salad, broccoli
Tue Jan 17

Vietnamese beef soup (Pho)
Wed Jan 18

Clams casino pasta
Thu Jan 19

Ham steaks, Mac and cheee, broccoli
Fri Jan 20

Chicken and dumplings 
Sat Jan 21

Egg sandwiches

leftovers This recurring event is part of a series.
Sun Jan 22
Chicken gyros and salad  

saving a buck?

Over two years ago, a friend held a couponing class at my house for our playgroup.  It was great; she opened my eyes to saving at least 50% of my grocery bill every week.  She suggested a few websites that helped her start saving a buck, like Living Rich with Coupons and For the Mommas, which have also proved to be very helpful in me saving money.

First, I personally feel the key to saving lots of money at the grocery store, is understanding a stock-up price. For example, I only buy razors when they cost me 1.99 or less and toothpaste when it's free. I have slowly built a stock pile of these items and more when they cost me next to nothing. The website "For the Mommas" has a wonderful Stockpile-Price-List.pdf available to get an idea of what you should be spending on certain items.

Second, there are many places to find coupons. I focus on the Sunday paper circulars and multiple online sources to print out coupons. If you follow Living Rich with Coupons on Facebook, throughout the day she tends to post high value coupons to print.

Lastly as frustrating a menu planning is. It can really help save you money. If know that you are going to need a round roast for dinner in a few weeks and it goes on sale for 1.29 a pound you pick it up when it's on sale and freeze it. You just saved 4 bucks, by shopping a sale and planning ahead.

Saving money can almost be a game when you get started. Set a goal of just saving on cereal and branch out from there. Once you realize you can get a box of cereal for $1.00 you'll be hooked and have 21 boxes of cereal in your basement. Just like me!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dear 16 year old me,

Last week a friend posted a PSA on Facebook about melanoma entitled “Dear 16 year old me”, it was informative and emotionally moving. Later in the week, on The Rachael Ray show, Rachael asked Marcia Cross what advice she would tell her 16 year old self. The actress was quiet for a moment and said the question had made her quite emotional.  Her answer was, “I would probably say what I’m still saying to myself which is ‘you’re OK’ because at 16 I was wracked with insecurity.”

Since last week I have been thinking about what I would say to my 16 year old self, and then today I read an email that stated that a girl's self-esteem peaks at age 9 and only 2% of women describe themselves as beautiful. I’m sure there are more self-esteem statistics that were left out of the email, but those two are pretty sad.  

When I was 16, I acted confident. I had trouble letting people see me for who I am. Guess what? I still do. I prefer to hide my feelings and letting people in is really hard.  So opening myself to answer this question, in a blog post, is hard for me.  I decided I would because I have a daughter whose formative years of her self-esteem depend on me.  Plus I am on a journey to be a better person.

Looking back to when I was 16 is hard. I made TONS of mistakes. I was making decisions based on my poor self-esteem. I wanted to fit in, yet stand out. I had a boyfriend who took advantage of my crappy self-image. He made me feel horrible about myself. He was controlling, manipulative, and just an awful person. He isolated me from my friends, told me I was too stupid to go to college and that no one but him would ever love me. He hurt me! I’m still recovering from issues due to that relationship.  

In looking back, if I had a stronger self-esteem, I wouldn’t have been in that relationship. I wouldn’t have been in any relationship. I would have been having fun with my friends. On that note, I would have made better choices in regards to my friends. I wouldn’t have been hanging out with the “bad” crowd.

In my senior year of high school, I did have some good friends, who are still around. They helped me more than they will ever know. I was able to dump that loser boyfriend, I went off to community college, and I eventually met my best friend and husband who really helped me deal with my self-esteem issues.

So, what I would tell my 16 year old self is: you are beautiful, you are kind, you are smart, and you are loved for who you are, you are more than the choices that you've made, you are more than the sum of your past mistakes, you are more than the problems you create and listen to your parents sometimes, they may know something about growing up, they did it once! 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rafflecopter Launch Party Giveaway: Win an iPad & a Kindle Fire

Few weeks ago I used Rafflecopter, which is great app available, to randomly select a winner for a calendar giveaway. Rafflecopter enables a blogger to set up a giveaway with ease. They are so amazing that they're offering a great giveaway themselves!

Please enter to win and GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Meal Plan 1/9/12

With life back to normal and kids on their regular schedule, this week is business as usual. 
  • Monday - I have an orthopedic doctors' appointment to see how badly I have torn my Achilles heel.  Then I am helping my close friend make her daughters 1st birthday outfit. 
  • Tuesday - Maddie and I are heading to the Discovery Museum and then Maddie has dance class. 
  • Wednesday - I am going to New York City to see the Rachael Ray show.  I'm super excited about going, just concerned if I'm going to be walking the city in a boot or cast... I know it's magical, right?
  • Thursday and Friday seem to be calm and relaxing days, but hey anything is possible.
This weeks menu plan is:
Mon Jan 9
Basil tomato grilled cheese with tomato soup
Tue Jan 10
Roast chicken, stuffing, asparagus
Wed Jan 11
Steak and peppers tacos, rice, and broccoli
Thu Jan 12
Sausage and lentil soup
Fri Jan 13
Rigatoni D (using the leftover chicken) and salad
Sat Jan 14
French toast casserole

leftovers This recurring event is part of a series.
Sun Jan 15
Chicken Caesar salad

Try Peeled Snacks, for FREE!

She Speaks is giving individuals who join the She Speaks program an opportunity to sample and review peeled snacks, as long as you live in an area accepting the peeled snack free product coupon valued at $4.99. In New Jersey you can get them through ShopRite and in Pennsylvania through Price Chopper among others. You can share this post on your Facebook page so other friends can participate. If you have any issues, please e mail me since I can contact their person running this campaign.

Japanese food, conquered?

On Thursday, Maddie and I went to one of our local Asian food markets. I needed to pick up Sriracha sauce, some noodles and some other stuff. I love going to the Asian market. I am always intrigued by everything in the store. I just wish I knew what most of the food was. I feel there is a definite language barrier when in the store.

Maddie loves Asian food! Her favorites are Gyoza, Makizushi, Mei fun, Bulgogi, and Moo Shu. While at the market, she asked me to get a few things like daisy shaped pasta and all the stuff to make gyoza. When we go out for sushi, she can eat at least two orders of these tasty dumplings plus some other stuff. I love and appreciate that I have little girl who will eat almost anything!

Maddie with the salted Napa cabbage

This morning we set out to make to make enough to feed all of us in the house. The recipe was fairly simple, just time consuming.  We had so much fun making the dumplings. It took us around an hour and half from start to finish, but it was so worth it.

Filling the dumplings, the time consuming step!

You can't see Maddie's but she is a pro!

She only ate 9 today.

I love cooking with Maddie. She is so eager to learn and use knives, graters, and taste everything. She is going to be an amazing cook!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Meal Plan 1/1/2012

Having a week off with the kids has been great. Maddie and I were able to visit a few friends we don't see often and my best friend, Alec, and I were able to go do some outlet shopping, and I read the entire Hunger Games series. Today is the first day we are back to our schedules as normal. I will miss late nights with a good book and lazy mornings in pj's.

This week's meal plan is:

Monday-Deviled Crab Risotto
Tuesday-Shrimp Stir Fry
Wednesday- Ranch Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, peas
Thursday- Spaghetti and Meatballs
Saturday- Omelets for breakfast and leftovers for dinner
Sunday- Raviolis in a butternut squash sauce

Yesterday I made the "risotto" with lots of changes to the recipe. First I didn't add the Fresno chili. Second I didn't use arborio rice. We aren't fans of the texture of risotto, so I used acini de pepe 
and made it like you would risotto. Third I added some mushrooms. It was delicious. It tasted like clams casino. YUM!!!

Running a few days late in 2012

I'm a few days late wishing you a Happy New Years. As in years past Maddie and I were in the Mummers Parade. Typically I don't really enjoy being in the parade, but I do it for my Dad. He loves being in the parade and dancing to "Golden Slippers".

However, this year was fun! Our group had booked a DJ who played some great music for us to dance too. My dad was even doing the "Cupid Shuffle" better than people by age. We aren't a family of drinkers, so we leave the city right after we are done walking and go to my Grandma's house for a delicious pork, knockwurst, kielbasa, and sauerkraut dinner.

Here is wishing you a great year.