Friday, April 26, 2013

Breakfast, Snacks and Lunch

In continuation of the update on the food we're eating around here, today I give you...
(drum roll)
Breakfast, Snacks and Lunch
And lest you think that the fanfare means that there is anything fancy here, I'll just go ahead and clear that one up for you. There isn't. Nothing fancy and nothing all that difficult.

We often mix and match foods for breakfasts, snacks and lunches around here. You might see a muffin for any of the three or sometimes a quesadilla for breakfast even though it is a standard lunch. Here are a list of our favorites in categories, but please remember that there is quite a bit of sharing between those categories going on.

1. Eggs. We eat a lot of eggs because they are quick, filling and very easy. I mostly scramble them but occasionally I will fry them or make an omelette. We might even have a boiled egg for breakfast now and again. We have tried different egg casserole dishes, but we usually just come back to the quick scramble.
Olivia's Apple Sauce Muffins
3/4 cup oil
1/4 cup flax seed
1 1/2 (+ or -) brown sugar
1/4 cup pureed veggie (I had some pureed carrot frozen and threw it in.)
2 cups of non-sweetened apple sauce
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 t. baking soda
1 cup old fashioned oats
(You can also add in several finely chopped apples if you like)
Mix all ingredients together and scoop into greased or papered muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Makes 24 muffins.

2. Muffins. MUFFINS, and muffins! My quickest go to are the above Apple Sauce Muffins but I also turn often to the Chocolate Flax Seed Muffins and the Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins .
(Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins 
3 cups wheat flour, 2 cups pumpkin, 12 oz. chocolate chips, 4 eggs, 2 1/2 cups sugar, 1 cup oil, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 cup water, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt  Mix all ingredients. Spoon into muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.)
In case you need further inspiration here are a week of muffins for your enjoyment! Muffins are a great breakfast, lunch and snack item. Sometimes, I'll get inspired at breakfast but not have enough time to really get muffins done before breakfast, so I'll mix them up while I'm scrambling a few eggs and stick them in the oven while we eat our breakfast. Then they are done right after breakfast and ready for those mid-morning "I'm Hungry"s.
3. Breads of all kinds! Here's another list with some muffins and some breads to help you on your breakfast way.
4. We also like smoothies for breakfast. I usually mix fruit (the key is to freeze the bananas so you don't have to dilute the smoothie by adding ice) and yogurt and fruit juice, but sometimes I'll throw in some spinach or another veggie. Sometimes the leftovers get made into yummy popsicles!
5. You can use the same idea to make a kind of "ice cream" for breakfast by just blending the bananas on their own. It's very yummy with some cocoa or some chocolate chips blended in with it.
6. And then there are the breakfast cookies. Some days you just need a cookie for breakfast, you know?!

1. I have to admit that snacks and lunches are often all the same thing around here. At snack time you might have one snack, but at lunch you might have five snacks together that will give you your protein and vitamins and starch. Here are some great packable lunch ideas that use both the snacky items and the standard (or not so standard) sandwiches and roll-ups.
2. Dips are a favorite lunch around here as well. Hummus, guacamole and salsa all add nutrients as well as fun to lunch.
3. More than any other lunch, we love quesadillas! There is nothing like biting into a warm buttery quesadilla filled with mozzarella. I don't know why we've settled on that cheese for quesadillas, but there is nothing else that can compare right now. We melt the butter in our pan, butter up one tortilla and pull it out, put another tortilla down, sprinkle on a generous amount of mozzarella and then add the previously buttered tortilla to the top. After the bottom is browned, we flip to brown the top. We cut the quesadilla into triangles with a pizza cutter and enjoy as quickly as possible!
4. Magic Bread makes its way into lunches (and snacks and breakfasts) as well. We use it for sandwiches or cheese toast or just butter it and have it on the side.
5. And of course there are the trusty old leftovers. I try to include those into our lunch menu whenever I can.

1. Nuts, edamame, fruit rubber, crackers and peanut butter--the normal quick go-to kid-friendly snacks.
2. Granola Bars: I can't believe how easy and yummy these are! 3 cups quick-cooking oats, 2 tablespoons melted butter and 1 can sweetened condensed milk. Mix in about a cup of any add-ins you'd like: dried fruits, nuts, chocolate chips, old-fashioned oats, etc. Then spread on parchment paper and smooth top and edges to make a rectangle. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes--letting the top brown means that your granola bars will by crunchy, keeping it light means that the bars will be chewy. Allow the granola rectangle to cool and then cut into bars.
3. Very occasionally I will bake a cake and then we have a nice thick slice of it for snack. My favorites are this Cinnamon Swirl Cake
or this Deep Dark Chocolate Cake from the Hershey's website. (That link is for a list of ten yummy chocolate cakes.)
4. Muffins (see above.) and more muffins (see above)
5. Pretzels, chips (rarely), crackers, hummus, etc.
6. Cheese or fruit or veggies from the fridge. When I know we'll be eating a junky or starchy kind of dinner, I often will close the pantry for snack time. "Only fridge items!" The kids know that means an apple or a cheese stick or some carrots and sweet peppers. Or I might just lead them toward the oranges or bananas on the counter.

What are your go-tos for breakfast, snack and lunch?
Happy eating!

P.S. Stay tuned for an exclusive yummy desserts post coming soon.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What We're Watching

Update time...
If our tv is on lately, then it's a safe bet one of the following will be showing:

Yep, we're still hanging out with these guys. Phineas and Ferb continues to be a clever, engaging and funny show that our whole family enjoys.
The Bible (on the History Channel) is definitely worth a watch. It does endeavor to stay faithful to the Book it describes, and no amount of taking in that book can ever be enough! The hubby and I have enjoyed watching and discussing how they chose what to show and what to skip over.
 I think we've decided not to share it with the kids now--there is nothing questionable in it, really, it's just that there are some very hard things to deal with in the Bible, and we would rather deal with through the text instead of visually right now.
The hubby is reading the kids The Lord of the Rings and I love the fact that it sparks many discussions about true heros and how Aragon or Gandalf point to Christ. But when the hubby began talking about showing the kids the movie, I balked. It's scary, right?! But the more they read and discussed and begged, the more I relented and so we are now two movies into the series. When they are done reading Return of the King, we will all watch the third movie together. And yes, there have been quite a few times when I have hidden the 5yo's eyes, but the family time and the beautiful visual to put with what they are learning through the reading outweighs the negatives, I do believe.
And if regular programming tv is on this time of year, it's probably the Cardinals! We watch whenever we can get the game. I love how happy this makes the hubby and the boy and I love that our family has a common love.

Alas, we are now done with Alias, but the hubby and I thoroughly enjoyed watching this series together. If you like the spy thriller kind of show, it's definitely for you.

When your tv is on, what's usually showing?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Yes, Let's Eat! Part 1

It's been quite a while since my last post about every day menu items. I posted a bunch of recipes in the 100 Ways to Celebrate Easter, I talked about freezing avocados, and on Valentine's I posted pics of our favorite pancakes (heart shaped, of course!) but it's been since January and growing lettuce and making soup that I've actually posted what we're sustaining ourselves with around here.
To be honest, I haven't posted much about our food because it's been mostly the same things. We eat a lot of meals that fit with the old remixing chart I made up a couple of years ago
Pick a meat, pick a starch, pick a veggie and mix and remix...
When remixing, I often use my own sauce starting with a roux (butter and flour) and adding milk and cheese and chicken stock, etc. Our favorite it pasta and creamy cheese sauce. My secret ingredient is Greek Yogurt--added at the very end like you would add in sour cream. Greek Yogurt pretty much makes everything better.
We eat stir fried veggies and/or rice and lots of Mexican, mostly from this list of 10 Easy Family Friendly Mexican foods.
And then of course there are the picnics and lazy nights where I use the magic bread to make some easy sandwiches...
Lately I've made lots of egg salads and chicken salads for those sandwich kind of nights (just another form of remixing, really--add eggs and mayo to anything and it becomes a salad!)
And then we eat a lot of yummy but mostly boring grilled meats or baked chicken, etc. 
We almost always add a couple of yummy veggies or a salad to our meal, frozen green beans or broccoli or peas. Or I saute zucchini or bake some brussel sprouts.
I know it's nothing exciting, but just looking back at what we've eaten these last few months, I am so grateful! We eat well and never have any need and don't have the least bit of a clue what hunger is like.
So, happy cooking and happy eating!
(Stay tuned for Part 2 and 3 of this post containing or favorite breakfasts and our go-tos for lunches and snacks.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Horse Show

Have I mentioned that we have been crazy-busy lately?

On Sunday our busy-ness took us to a farm, lovely even in the light rain and the chilly air, where we watched the oldest compete in her first horse show.

She won a second and a fourth place ribbon. We are so proud of her!

Two of her "classes" had patterns of movement that she had to memorize.
Yay, oldest! Great job!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Wizard of Oz Week

This week Monday went very much as usual: Horseback riding, running errands and teaching ballet.
And woven in with that the kids put their Monday work on their clipboards, carried it around with them, and pretty much finished it up.
But when I woke up on Tuesday and looked over the coming week, I realized something was going to have to change!
There was no way we could do our clip board work and lessons for each day as well as get everything else done.

Tuesday Eat breakfast, have Daddy read history while kids color history coloring sheets, get the youngest out the door with Daddy and the friend we take over to Mother's Day Out. Make sure the youngest and the Daddy have lunches. Pack lunches for the rest of us and get us out the door to The Wizard of Oz play put on by a local theater.
(Very awesome.)
Realize that we have time to eat lunch at home, so take lunch home, inviting friends who need a place to eat lunch to join us. Then go with those friends to the boy's first batting practice.
(Also very fun.)
Return home to meet the youngest as she is being brought home by another friend from her Mother's Day Out program. Invite that friend and her daughter in for play time and tea.
When she leaves to pick her oldest up from school, answer e-mails and prep dinner, slap hands with the hubby as he comes home from work and head off to an Acupuncture appointment. Return home with just enough time to finish up dinner, serve dinner and eat dinner before the hubby leaves for a meeting.
Get kids into bed.
See? No time for lessons or written work!
Wednesday:  Skip history so that breakfast is leisurely and hubby can leave for work early. Rush around getting all supplies and lunch packed up, and then head off to pick up friends and meet more friends at the Aquarium for a little class on turtles.
(I taught it.)
Then off to the Y for a walk with a friend and home again in just enough time to rush off to a dentist appointment for all three kids. They all read to me or to themselves while the other ones had their appointment.
Then they had about a thirty minute rest before choir, church dinner and Kids Clubs at church. Momma and Daddy have choir during that time as well.
Home again and happily, to bed.
Thursday: Breakfast, history with Daddy, and off to MDO for the youngest. Then a good little table learning time mostly focused around The Wizard of Oz. Review our memory verses, catechism questions and geography songs (Kathy Troxel), answer discussion questions about the play, read about the Frank Baum and discuss the character. Have each child pick a character and write a short essay about him.
Have a friend for tea,
go to speech class for the big kids/play date for the youngest,
take dinner (made in the crockpot) to a friend who had a baby and hold their baby and love it and talk about babies and spend way too much time just relaxing with that baby in my arms...
home for dinner (because baseball practice got rained out)
and bedtime.
Friday: glorious Friday! We usually have a wonderful art class at 12 with neighbor-home schoolers, but it is cancelled today so we are FREE!
So I drew this Wizard of Oz Math Board Game
(we roll 2 dice and then answer a math fact card that corresponds with the kind of problem indicated on the square. The youngest won btw.)
And we played school.
--pattern blocks
and lots of enjoying the cool but beautiful weather.

So there you have it. All my excuses for not doing regular home school this week.
But that is the beauty of home school.
All of that crazy running around was teaching us many things.
And that, I do believe, is the definition of school.
Happy Schooling!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Women's Retreat

On Friday I made two loaves of bread, chocolate drop cookies and salad for twelve people. I took a walk with a friend, went swimming at the Y with the kids, packed my bags and showered and made myself presentable. I washed and folded two loads of clothes and picked up the house. Oh, and I spent about an hour cleaning out the van. 
And I did all of that before 3:00. 
And the reward for my labors?
A weekend retreat with the women of our church at a state park about 3 hours away.

Amid quiet times and beautiful views, I got to fellowship with some wonderful amazing women from our church--some of whom shared their stories during the weekend meetings.
Like a woman who has been a PE teacher for 30 years, and was diagnosed with MS 25 years ago just before her husband left her with 2 little girls to care for. 
And can I just tell you that, though her left arm doesn't work and she has to "turn on her leg" so that electric shocks can help her move it to walk with her walker,
she is the happiest and most beautiful woman I have ever met.
And yes, she is still joyfully teaching young children how to stay active and play for God.
And before and after hiking and climbing stairs around an amazing waterfall (you can only see a tiny part of it here) we heard heart-changing messages about discovering life-lies and taking off the clothes of the old man and putting on the grace-given clothes of a new creation in Christ.
I'm still slowly working through all that I learned.

And I came home tired and weepy and incredible refreshed.
Praise the Lord for truth spoken and fellowship enjoyed.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

How to Make a Sailboat

Remembering last year about this time...
It was all about sailboats!
Since I'm on the sailboat theme this week, I figured I would just stick with that.
(See yesterday's post for my plan for sailboat cupcakes)
Today's sailboaty theme is building one!
Again, taking much inspiration from my pinterest Sailboat Board--
Building a paper boat is easy, but what really made this work was using the maps. This is a great use for old atlases (poor unused things).
Ours have a mast made out of a skewer. After making the boat, add a bit of hot glue about 2 inches from the flat end of the skewer. Stick the skewer up through the center of the bottom of the boat and pull through until the glue catches on the paper hole--Hold steady for a few seconds while the hot glue hardens.
My blue sails are doubled and I made them by cutting blue copy paper twice the size of what you see--it's easiest to cut out a straight triangle, then fold in half and cut the curved bottom. The blue sail is wrapped around the skewer and glued using a little hot glue near the skewer and elmer's stick glue over the sail.
The red sail is secured using a thin line of hot glue.
The small red flag is doubled and wrapped around the point of the skewer. Secure it to the skewer with a tiny bit of hot glue and add a little elmer's stick glue to the flag to hold it together.
The hot glue makes the boats pretty sturdy.
Our fleet of boats will serve as decoration for a sailboat baby shower I'm helping with on Saturday AND they will make perfect little party favors.
Again, stealing ideas from pinterest pins, I filled my boats with candy lifesavers and added in some peppermints to stick with the color theme.
originally posted Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Last week our family traveled to south FL to camp and visit friends. Our first campsite was in O'Leno State Park. We were scheduled to go for two nights, but we opted out of the thunderstorm that was coming through the first night and left a day later. We loved hiking at O'Leno and setting up our campsite. We didn't love the fact that I forgot matches and starter for our fire. : )
A borrowed lighter and some newspaper later, we warmed our spaghetti and ate our first round of campfire s'ghetti. It was easy (warm up frozen ground beef, jarred spaghetti sauce and already cooked noodles in cast iron dutch oven) and this will be a meal I'll do again while camping.
See the large gator on that log?
This is the "end" of the Sante Fe River--it disappears under ground here in the park and reappears 3 miles later.
On the way to visit friends, we stopped at a small park right before the beautiful Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
While visiting friends, we explored some of the beaches nearby.

And yes, it was quite cold (especially on the beach) in South FL at the end of March. We told our friends if they ever got tired of warm weather, just have us down to FL to camp. The cold weather seems to follow us when we camp.
The cold (50s) weather did not keep us from enjoying every part of trip, though!

Second Campsite in Jonathan Dickenson State Park

Cardinals Spring Training
Beach in Jupiter, FL