Monday, November 30, 2009

Prepare the Way

"In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God." ~Isaiah 40:3

As we enter the season of Advent, I wait eagerly for the celebration of Christmas. My heart has been convicted over the past several years to return my focus to the real reason we celebrate. Not the gifts, not the food, not even the time with our own family and friends. We are celebrating the birth of a sweet baby boy who grew into the man who wants to bring us all into a relationship with Him and with God Almighty. I have heard the verse above from the book of Isaiah for several years and every year I find deeper meaning in the words of the prophet. How often have I let my heart become like the desolate wilderness - barren, inhospitable, and uncomfortable? Why would Jesus want to hang out there? My challenge this year is to yield to the Holy Spirit and lay down a highway for Jesus to enter in on. Having grown up in Southern California, I am thinking about a huge, 20 lane highway - not just a little 2 lane road.

Jesus and His abundant love for me is the reason I want to clear out all the nasty stuff in my heart. His love for me is also the method to accomplish the task. I cannot change my heart on my own. I have proven that time and time again. The softening of my heart that has happened over the past 15 years has happened only through the incredible grace of God. That gives me plenty of reason to celebrate.

This post is linked to: Homemaker's Haven at A High and Noble Calling

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Menu Plan - Week of November 29

Whew! The whirlwind weekend is drawing to a close. We have had a wonderful weekend with our families and are eager to enjoy the rest of the holiday season. We're back to a normal schedule this week, which mean 2-3 nights away from home. Dinners will be quick, easy, and often in the slow cooker.

Sunday, November 29: We'll be at church all but 3 hours today, so I"ll have both slow cookers running!
B: oatmeal with raisins or cranberries
L: *Lasagna, Cheesy Garlic Swirls, and salad (carryover from last week)
D: *Ranch Chicken, rice, and green beans

Weeknight Dinners:
Head over and see Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie for hundreds more menu plan each week!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Menu

One of the most wonderful things about living close to our families is that we get to see both sets of parents over the holidays. Years ago, my parents decided to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas on the day after each official holiday since my in laws have a larger family. We've been doing 2 day celebrations for almost 10 years and it's been wonderful.

On Thanksgiving day, we will be at my in laws home and my mom in law will serve all the traditional Southern Thanksgiving foods - turkey, creamed potatoes, pinto beans, cornbread, and an assortment of veggies. On Friday, we'll be at my parent's house trying something new - a variety of appetizers throughout the day rather than another large meal. The menu includes:

Wishing you and your family a Thanksgiving richly blessed with laughter, hugs, and full of opportunities to make new memories - Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Vegetable Beef Soup

Well, it's just Monday evening and I've already deviated from my menu plan this week. But - it's okay since I had all the ingredients on hand. Mom and I decided I would bring dinner tonight during our normal Monday night visit and dad does not like lasagna. So, I started thinking about what else I had on hand and came up with veggie beef soup. This meal is a true testimony that with a well stocked freezer and pantry, you can pull off yummy, homemade meals in no time. And, the bonus for me was this required no additional grocery shopping.

Vegetable Beef Soup:
  • 1.5 lb ground beef (I had this in the freezer already browned with garlic and chopped onions)
  • 2 c tomato sauce (I had some of mom's homemade marinara in the freezer that I used)
  • 6 c water
  • 1 small box green peas, frozen
  • 1 - 16 oz bag corn, frozen
  • 1 c lima beans or butter beans, frozen
  • 2 small cans tomato paste
  • beef bouillon, 3-4 T
  • Mrs. Dash seasoning mix, original - 3-4 t
  • black pepper, 2-3 t
  1. Heat the ground beef in a large stock pot with about 2 T olive oil. If not pre-cooked, cook until beef is no longer pink.
  2. Add the tomato sauce, water, and bouillon
  3. Add frozen veggies and tomato paste
  4. Add 3-4 generous shakes of Mrs. Dash and approx 2 teaspoons black pepper
  5. Cook until everything is well mixed
  6. I did this on the stovetop, but you could easily do this in the slow cooker - just dump it all in and cook for 6-7 hours on low.
I served this with Cheesy Garlic Bread Swirls and a tray of Pillsbury simply Chocolate Chip Cookies.

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Sunday, November 22, 2009

30 Day Giving Challenge Update - week 2

What an amazing week we have had of giving! Many of you know I am an avid baker and it has been a pleasure to share some homemade goodies this week. I also turned back to a favorite hobby - writing cards to my dear friends. We have definitely been blessed over the past 2 weeks. However, I am not a believer at all in the philosophy of giving to receive. So ... I will gladly share ways we have given to other people, but will refrain from any sort of discussion about things received.
  • Continued our donations to the Salvation Army at our local Wal Mart. We probably should visit less so this does not show up on my weekly digest. Although, we did not spend much on this week's visit. I have been letting our 4 year old son put the donations in and it has been wonderful to see his smile.
  • Made a batch of Chewy Granola Bars for a dear friend and her son.
  • Made a batch of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins to share with the music minister at church and one of little man's preschool teachers.
  • Wrote a note of encouragement to a girlfriend from college who is going through a divorce.
Visit Kingdom First Mom to see how other bloggers are giving this month and to join in!

Menu Plan - Thanksgiving Week!

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." This passage from 1 Thessalonians is one of my favorites and is particularly inspirational at Thanksgiving is upon us. There will, of course, be food in abundance this week. There will also be many opportunities to model and share what we have to be thankful for - our families, friends, and the amazing grace of God. I pray you all experience joy and thankfulness in the small things this week.

Sunday, November 22:
  • Sunday School brunch for the adults, little man had a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin
  • Chicken and cheese quesadillas
  • Spanish style chicken and rice skillet
Weeknight Dinners:
I will post our Thanksgiving menu a bit later in the week. We are trying something new this year with my family. We'll be having an assortment of appetizers throughout the day. There are lots of yummy sounding recipes that I will link up on Tuesday. Also, no baking this week - we have plenty of muffins in the freezer and bagels for breakfast.

Head over and visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for hundreds more menu plans each week.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Morning Routine

I thought I would share what I *TRY* to get done each morning to make our house run a bit smoother. Remember, little man is in preschool each day and I work outside the home while he's there. Your routine may certainly be different depending on your circumstances.

  • Prayer time
  • Shower, clothes, make up, etc
  • Pick up bathrooms after little man and I get ready - wipe counters, re-hang towels, etc.
  • Make beds - little man does his and I do the master
  • Unload the dishwasher and start loading it back up
  • Make lunches for DH, little man, and me
  • Check email and Facebook (sometimes spending far too much time online!)
  • Start a load of laundry (usually every other day)
  • Breakfast for me and little man - I am trying very hard to consistently be reading God's word while we settle in over Cheerios.
  • Help little man get ready - clothes, brush teeth, hair, etc.
  • Out the door by 8:50!
What works for you in the wee hours of the morning??? This post is linked to:

30 Day Giving Challenge Update - week 1

I started the 30 Day Giving Challenge a week late, but I am so enjoying being a part of it! We had many opportunities to give of our time and resources this past week, including:
  • Donated 3 complete Operation Christmas Child boxes and filled one half full for little man's preschool
  • Took lunch one day to my boss - we had 3 days of cold, rainy weather and Toscano Soup really hit the spot mid-day
  • Took the last of my maternity clothes to our local church run thrift store
  • Made Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins and gave them to preschool teachers and the administrative staff at our church
  • Donated to the first Salvation Army donation site we've seen this year at our local Wal Mart
It's been a great week and I look forward to finding more creative ways to give next week. Want to join in? Head over to Kingdom First Mom and sign up!

Menu Plan - Week of November 15

Is it really less than 2 weeks until Thanksgiving? WOW!!! The next 2 weeks - and the 4 afterward leading to Christmas - will be busy for us, as I am sure they will be for many families. I am planning to double up on certain foods this week and freeze them. It's so great to have dinner in the freezer as the holidays approach and our days get busier.

Weeknight Dinners:
Head over and visit I'm An Organizing Junkie for over 300 menu plans each week.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Baking Day - the "plan"

I am feeling the urge to have a baking day where I will precook and bake - duh! - several things to stock the freezer. This method of bulk cooking has been a wonderful thing for us. I will either get complete meals ready to do the majority of prep work so putting dinner together is a snap on busy days - or tired days. Here are some recipes I am considering for an upcoming day. I am hoping to fit in at least a half day session this week.
  • Brown 10 lb ground beef with garlic and onions; portion into meal size bags and freeze
  • Roast 10 lb split chicken with butter, salt, and pepper; shred and freeze in meal size portions
  • I have about 5 lbs of baby peppers that MUST be dealt with before a good deal goes dreadfully wrong
  • Oh, and some baby carrots too - probably should chop those up so as not to let another good deal get away from me
Breakfast and Snack Options:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

30 Day Giving Challenge

I am sitting here on our back porch while little man and DH sleep and am overwhelmed by how good God has been to me. I have an a amazing husband, wonderful friends, a supportive family, and the sweetest little man a mom could pray for. I was catching up on some of my favorite recipe blogs and saw the 30-Day Giving Challenge at The Finer Things in Life. I am going to join in this, even though it is now day 8. I'll do 30 days from today! The general idea is that every day for the next 30 days, I will give something to someone. I write down each day in a journal what I have given and also record things that come our way. I think this will be a great way to stay focused on doing God's work during this time of year and staying out of focus on the advertisements, decorations, and "must haves" of the approaching Christmas season. Want to join in?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Menu Plan - Week of November 8

Sunday, November 8:
Weeknight Dinners:
Baking, Breakfast, Snacks:
Need more inspiration? Go visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for over 300 menu plans each week!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Menu Plan - Week of November 2

I said to DH tonight over dinner ... "Sometime this week we need to talk about Christmas." YIKES!!! It's the first of November - this year has flown by for us (well, for me at least). We are finally having a consistent week of cooler weather here in the south also, so I will be pulling out some slow cooker and casserole meals. There is just something about a daytime high in the 50s that make the slow cooker very appealing! We are looking forward this week to an early Christmas present for ourselves - we're going to the Casting Crowns and Matt Redman concert - fun!!

Visit I'm An Organizing Junkie for over 200 menu plans each week!

  • Taco Casserole (use chicken instead of ground beef), green salad
  • *Toscano soup in slow cooker (see recipe below), French bread
  • Aussie Chicken, yellow rice, and roasted butternut squash
  • Homemade pizza with green salad
Baking, Breakfast, Snacks:
Slow Cooker Toscano Soup
adapted from Fix-It and Forget-It 5-Ingredient Favorites
  • 1 lb Italian sausage links (I use Johnsonville brand) - sweet or hot depending on your taste
  • 4-15 oz cans Great Northern Beans, do not drain or rinse
  • 1 large bunch of kale - remove tough stalks and tear into bite size pieces
  • approx 6 cups chicken broth, or water with boullion or base
  • pepper to taste - black or red flake are great
1. Slice sausage into disks approx 1/2 inch thick
2. Brown sausage in non stick skillet just to get a bit of color - they will finish cooking thoroughly in slow cooker
3. Place browned sausage, beans, broth, and prepared kale in a LARGE (5-6 quart) slow cooker
4. Cook 6-8 hours on low
5. Taste and add pepper if needed. It should not need salt with the chicken broth, but adjust the seasonings as needed.