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Seeking a little simplicity

28 Feb

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Had a nice little time on our back deck with my little sweetie this afternoon. We snuggled under a blanket and felt the breeze on our faces. It was mostly cloudy (my fave) but the sun broke through occasionally to give a nice, soft glow to the yard.

He wanted to get some books and read, which we love to do, but I thought might be nice to just sit and be quiet. We listened to many different bird songs. We watched our cardinal family (they have been in our yard for at least five years) fly back and forth, letting out their “chit chit chits.” The doves shared their coos and mourning songs. A little sparrow nibbled on seed in one of our feeders.

We just get so busy doing and doing and doing. When I actually stop and listen and watch, I’m overwhelmed by the peace of simplicity.

We are working on simplifying our house. Even though we have purged so much over the last few years, I am amazed at what it still left! So we whittle down even more. And with every box and pile of things that leave our house, so does stress and anxiety.

In our modern society, I think true, complete simplicity is near impossible. And certainly pretty impractical. But I know there are places in our lives that we have allowed to become so cluttered, and when we clear those spaces, whether tangible or intangible, there is so much relief to be gained.

I have a 10 year old. o_0

31 Oct

My baby boy, the one who made me a mama (after 25 hours of labor), turned 10 today. I can hardly believe it. It’s frighteningly true how quick the time goes by. Those days that seem endless really do fly by and days turn into months turn into years. I am so thankful for the gift of being a mother. Yes, it’s completely exhausting and exasperating sometimes. But it really is a gift, and I find joy in it more than in any other thing.

To you moms of young toddlers, enjoy the little silly things they do, enjoy the thousand questions, enjoy that they almost always want to be right where you are, and enjoy any snuggles you can get. That will not last forever. Yes, the older ones still do those things occasionally, but, not often, though I try to savor it when it does.

Certainly, I am glad they don’t stay toddlers forever, even though they are adorable, because they are also so demanding. It’s nice that my older boys can do so much for themselves, and we can interact on a more mature level. I am looking forward to seeing my boys grow into young men, and enjoying their company in a different way. But there’s nothing like that toddler voice and face and sloppy kisses…

As promised to my 2 loyal followers, a meal plan post…

17 May

I have finally given in to meal planning, and I wish I had done it a long time ago! I have always hated late afternoons/early evenings, because it meant that it was time to figure out something for dinner. It was stressful and exhausting, and often ended up with a run to the grocery, which wasted time and money. I have read for a couple of years how much time and money a meal plan saves, and I can say that after just a few weeks of doing it that it definitely will save us lots of time, money, and my sanity! I might even say that I am starting to enjoy cooking again…

So I told some friends on Facebook that I would share my meal plan, along with links to those you can find online, and if anyone is interested in recipes for those with no link, I will post those too.

Monday: Sour Cream Noodle Bake

Tuesday: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks using this as the dough

Wednesday: Date Night!

Thursday: Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Friday: Baked Potato Soup     This recipe looks good, and doesn’t have gross stuff added in like celery. *shudder*

Saturday: Cowboy Quesadillas  These seem like a nice change from our normal, plain (but good, of course) cheese and chicken version.

Sunday: Pot Roast for lunch (have to plan a good lunch or the kids revolt since they really want to have fast food)            Chicken and Dumplings for dinner

Monday (23rd): BBQ Biscuits  I love these, they are super easy, and always a hit with my picky kids I will post the recipe soon.

Tuesday (24th): Chicken Spaghetti    But no little pimentos because that would make my boys flip out–or Anna, you could share your recipe with me…

Wednesday (25th): Date night!

Thursday (26th): Pasta with meat sauce and homemade bread (see bread dough recipe link above)

Friday (27th): Beef Empanadas  I haven’t found the right recipe yet, and a friend is supposed to share it with me, but I am still planning on making these

As for sides, I usually just serve a side salad, or steamed broccoli or green beans. Very simple. I am planning on making this fresh corn casserole one night, maybe to go with the BBQ Biscuits, but I need to find the corn on sale first.

I came up with this plan last Friday night, made out my grocery list according to what I did not have, and shopped on Saturday. I bought all my groceries for these meals, plus stuff for breakfast and lunches, for $150. That is a HUGE difference in what I had been spending bi-weekly on groceries, and it was all from about an hour of planning. The return on investment for the one hour is definitely worth it. I was easily spending double that amount biweekly, plus we were eating out too often because I didn’t have a solid plan in place. I am excited about what a difference this will make for us, and I know John is excited that I finally am saving us more money and cooking more!

If you don’t meal plan, I really think you should try it for a couple of weeks, and see if it doesn’t help you out too!

2 Ingredient Dinner

27 Jan

We have discovered a yummy, filling dinner that only requires 2 ingredients. Yes, you can add other things, but our family is just as happy with this dish at its simplest. It’s just chicken thighs and lentils. It is so tasty on a cold, rainy night like tonight. I don’t have exact directions since we’ve done it slightly different every time, but it’s so easy that general directions should do for most people. So here goes:

Chicken Thighs and Lentils
5-6 boneless/skinless chicken thighs (can use bone-in but takes longer to cook)
2 cups lentils
salt and pepper, to taste

Put the chicken in a 3 qt. pot with about 3 cups of water and heat to boiling, then turn heat down to medium.

In another 3 qt. pot, bring 4 cups of water to boiling. Put the 2 cups of lentils in and let boil for 1 minute, stir, then remove from heat and cover for about 10 minutes, till saturated.

Check the chicken, and cook till the internal temperature is 165 F. It should start to fall apart at this point. Take two forks and pull apart the chicken into shreds. If there is a little extra water, just leave it. If there’s standing water, you might drain some out. Then mix the two together, season with salt and pepper, and you have a great cold-night dish!

Now, we did this in 2 pots, but originally it was for one pot, we just found it made our lentils too squishy. If you want to do it in only one pot, don’t add the lentils till after at least 5 or maybe 10 minutes, since they’ll be in simmering water, not off of the stove’s heat. Anyway, it’s very yummy, and very easy!

We ate it with a nice, crusty bread, which I make using the technique from this fabulous book, which I suggest everyone buy. You will not regret it!!!