Thursday, May 18, 2017

Breakfast Under the Oaks

Wow!  What a beautiful day it is today!  It's supposed to be another hot one and like yesterday, I'm enjoying a bit of fresh air and the shade of the oak trees in our yard.

Between attempting a little bit of gardening (more on this in a future post, along with an explanation of why I use the word attempt), I decided to grab a quick and somewhat healthy breakfast.



I'm really trying to get into the habit of eating breakfast in the morning.  Too often I'm running around in the morning, getting Gracie and I ready for school and work, with just enough time to get us out the door without being late.  Then realizing too late, that I forgot to eat (or didn't allow time for eating).  This then leads to me grabbing something very unhealthy to eat in the car on my way to work.

With my hours dwindling down to just a day or two a week and summer vacation just a couple of weeks away, I hope it will be easier to get into the habit of sitting down to a decent breakfast each morning before running off to have some summer fun!

I think breakfast under the oaks will be a great way to start our summer mornings!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Where I am today......Under the Big Oak Tree

It's a hot one today!  We don't have central air and Joe hasn't put the window units in yet since it's been really chilly up until now.



Lucky for me, our back yard is very shady thanks to our oak trees (and maple tree).

I filled the dog's pool so she can wet her feet to cool off and I'm relaxing at the picnic table under the trees.  Perfect way to relax on a hot day!


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Spending Less While Eating Healthy

Eating healthy is a constant struggle for me.  Not because I don't LOVE healthy foods.  As a foodie, I find that I LOVE food - ALL FOOD - too much!

And while I do love to eat big salads and lots of fresh fruit, I find it's so much easier to grab a bag of chips or some cookies rather than chopping up some melon or digging through the fruit drawer in the fridge.  Plus, for the most part, junk food is cheaper and has a longer shelf life.



In an effort to make grabbing a healthy snack easier, I've started keeping a bowl of fruit on the counter or kitchen table.  This also helps me to remember that we have fruit that needs to be eaten.  We have an older fridge with dark drawers, so once we put our produce in there, it's out of sight out of mind!

Also, for me, I like to eat with my eyes.  Meaning appearance is a big deal for me when it comes to food.  I love fancy packaging when shopping for food and plating my food nicely when it's time to sit down to a meal.  So, to make my fruit appealing to me, I pile it up nicely in one of my vintage milk glass bowls or in one of my favorite chippy enamelware bowls.

Where I live, I'm surrounded by little towns that set up farmers' markets during the summer weekends.  Fresh, local fruits and veggies can often be found for a very good deal.  Plus, we have a very large produce store nearby that has very low prices!

This week, I picked up a bag of very cute and equally delicious clementines or maybe they are mandarin oranges (?  the bag wasn't labeled).  They are soooo tiny and very sweet!  Plus, they were very cheap!  I found them on the discounted produce rack at the grocery store for $1.49 for 18 of these sweet, little snacks!


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day! 2017

In the past, I was never one to really get excited over Valentine's Day.  Mainly because the entire time that Joe and I were dating, I worked at a flower shop. Years of helping others celebrate the holiday was enough for me.

Besides, one year, Joe and I did attempt to celebrate Valentine's Day.  February 14 fell on a weekend (a Friday, I think) and as usual, I worked long shifts leading up to the day.  I also worked the day after, but a shorter day than the rest of the week, so we decided to celebrate a day late.  Joe picked me up from work and we went out for an early dinner.  I'm not sure if the restaurant was short-staffed or not, but it took a really long time for our food to come to the table.  After chatting about our week for a bit, I started to get really tired and by the time our food came out, I was having a tough time staying awake!

We realized then, that celebrating Valentine's Day with a date wasn't really an option for us!  So, in the years to follow, we just had a low-key dinner at home.  Sometimes we ordered take-out, sometimes Joe cooked, sometimes we just had leftovers.  Even after I stopped working at the flower shop, we really didn't make a big deal over the holiday.  Joe shows me every day how much he loves us and is committed to our family, I don't need one specific day to know how he loves us.

When Grace was about a year old, I think is when we started celebrating Valentine's day with her. She doesn't eat chocolate, so Valentine's Day for her meant pink and red cupcakes and a cute stuffed animal, a few decorations around the house and all of her shows having a Valentine theme for the day.

Then school started and we were celebrating Valentine's Day in a bigger way!  Special Valentine t-shirts, dresses with hearts, parties at school and Valentine cards with candy for the class!  How exciting!

For the past couple of years, I wanted to do personalized photo Valentines but never got around to taking a picture in order to create the cards.  So, when I saw that my friend Kristen (who also happens to be a photographer) was offering an amazing deal on a quick Valentine photo session, I knew I wanted to book a session!

Here's the card I designed for Grace's classmates:



Since our family is obsessed with all things Boston Terrier, we were super excited to find this awesome Valentine t-shirt at Walmart!  It was the last one and a size too big, but that's okay!  She'll be able to wear it again next year!


Speaking of being Boston Terrier obsessed, Grace wanted to include our Boston Terrier in the photo session!  Kristen is a great friend.  She adores Grace and also knows how much we love our dog, Remmy!  So she included Remmy in the next shot!


Look at that face!  Isn't it the cutest?!  Oh, yeah!  The kid is cute, too!



Local readers, if you are looking for a professional photographer at an affordable price, check out KDW Photography & Designs.  Here's another photo session of Grace taken by KDW Photography & Designs.



Disclaimer:  I was not compensated in any way for sharing the link above.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 2017 ~ Week of February 13th




Monday


Breakfast for Dinner

Eggs are on sale at Aldi this week, which means I'll be buying a few dozen.
It also means that I'll be eating eggs at least once a day
(most likely for breakfast or lunch) for the next week or two.
I seem to do better on my diet when I eat eggs for a meal or two each day,
so it's a win-win situation.  Budget friendly and calorie friendly!



Tuesday

Valentine's Day 

I wish I could say that we are planning a meal of heart-shaped foods
to impress our cute, 7 year old Valentine, but she's super picky.
While I'm sure she'd get a kick out of seeing a heart-shaped pizza
or red pancakes, I know she won't eat them.
So, at the moment, Valentine's Day dinner is undecided.  


Wednesday


Slow Cooker Chicken Corn Chowder with Bacon

Wednesdays are hectic in our house,
so it will be great to come home to this soup ready to eat
at the end of our work day.  


Thursday

Hearty Black Bean Quesadillas
Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Click the link to see the picture of these amazing Black Bean Quesadillas!
I really cannot wait to try this recipe! 




Saturday and Sunday

This is a busy weekend for us, 
so dinners haven't been planned out yet.  
Although take-out is usually the direction we go on busy weekends, 
I'd like to try to keep away from the drive-thru.  
Grilled cheese sandwiches or even some eggs 
could make for a quick dinner for these busy days.  





Now that you know what we're eating this week, let us know in the comments what's for dinner at your house this week! Or, if you need more menu planning inspiration, you can check out my past menu plans.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Dollar Store DIY ~ Boston Terrier Valentine Mail Box

Ever since Gracie started school, I was excited to help her make a Valentine Box for her classmates to drop in their cute little Valentine cards.  I didn't realize that her classes didn't make Valentine boxes for Kindergarten or First Grade.  I was bummed.

I cannot even begin to describe how happy I was that Grace and I could work on designing a Valentine Box for her to take in to her 2nd grade classroom.

One afternoon, last week, Grace and I sat down and browsed Pinterest for some cute Valentine Box ideas.  We saw lots of creative boxes and Grace decided she wanted us to create a Boston Terrier Valentine Box.  Since, you know, we're obsessed with Boston Terriers.



I'll admit, I was really proud that Gracie chose our favorite breed as the theme, but I was a bit nervous about designing a Boston Terrier Valentine box.  I really didn't have any idea on how I was going to go about putting that together.

We started by choosing a box that fit into the size specifications given by her teacher.  After that, the only idea I had was to cover the box with wrapping paper.  I figured either black or white paper would work.



I stopped at Dollar Tree to see if they had plain white or black paper and I was thrilled when I saw a super-glittery Boston Terrier gift bag!  I suspected it might be the perfect size to cover her box, so I grabbed three!  Just in case we messed up and needed a spare!




So after gathering our supplies, Grace and I got to work on assembling her box.

  • empty box
  • wrapping paper
  • card stock
  • Boston Terrier gift bag
  • marker
  • glue stick
  • clear tape
  • glitter tape
  • paper doilies 
  • stickers
  • scissors

We were both very pleased with how it turned out.  The only thing we didn't do, was make a trap door for removing her Valentines either at her social at school or after she comes home.  We did make the slot a bit on the big side, so Grace should be able to slip her hand inside and get her cards out.  I'll have to remind her to reach in carefully so not to ruin the box, since I have a feeling she will want to add this to our Valentine decor for years to come! 



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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Wordless Wednesday ~ A Date with Daddy

Since Joe works a lot of weekends, Grace and I tend to have a lot of Mommy-Grace Dates.  When Joe is off on the weekends, we tend to do things as a family.  Rarely, do the two of them get to spend time together, one on one.



Girl Scouts hosted a He and Me Dance over the weekend, so this was the perfect opportunity for the two of them to have a Daddy-Grace Date.  Time together without Mommy getting in the way!



Monday, February 6, 2017

Dollar Store DIY ~ Kid's Valentine Door

I'm sure you've all seen this idea done before.  It's been all over Facebook and Pinterest for a while now.  I came across the idea several weeks ago and completely forgot about it, so I was glad when Grace's aunt sent me this link:  Valentine Heart Attack by Skip to My Lou.

Right away, I loved the idea of posting little love notes on Grace's door telling her all the reasons that we love her.   Just like Cindy at Skip to My Lou, suggests, I planned on taping a new heart to Grace's door each day from February 1st until Valentine's Day.

So, when I spotted these great, heart-shaped doilies at Dollar Tree I knew they would be perfect for the little, positive, love notes for Grace to wake up to every day!  What's even better is that they are only a dollar for a pack of 30.  One package would have been plenty, but I knew that Gracie would like the combination of pink and red.  Plus, for the price, the leftovers will be a great addition to the craft supplies stash!


I grabbed a piece of pink card stock from my craft supplies, attached a doily to it with some tape and wrote "We love you because..." with a black marker.  Then I taped it to her door.  The best placement ended up being over a Princess decal that was already stuck to her door.


After that was done, it was time to start adding a new heart each night after bedtime.

(don't mind the stickers that Grace has started adding to her door as well)

Since we still have some time until Valentine's Day, this is still a work in progress.  I'll come back and add another photo or two as we add more hearts to her door!

  
Grace loves waking up to see her new love note attached to her door each morning.  I love that this is such an inexpensive and easy way to make her feel special and surprised.

What better way is there to start the day than to be reminded that you are loved?


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Monday, January 2, 2017

Week of January 1st ~ Meal Planning 2017

Happy New Year, my friends!

I don't know about you, but I am incredibly excited to begin this new year and try to keep looking toward the positive rather than dwell on the negative.  I guess you can say that is my biggest resolution for the year, among several others!

Meal Planning is something that I plan to use to get myself organized this year.  (Yes, another resolution!) It's a tool I've used successfully in the past and really need to get into the habit again.  Not only does meal planning help keep me organized, it also helps us financially.  When I have a plan set for the week, we deal with less waste and don't end up relying on take out as often.  I'll share more updates on how meal planning works for us in future posts.  For now, I'll just get to sharing our meal plan for the week.

Sunday  ~ Birthday Celebration with friends.

Monday ~ Crock Pot Potato and  Ham Chowder I love this recipe for using up holiday leftovers!  A few slices of spiral ham and some veggies leftover from party trays go a long way in this hearty soup!

Tuesday ~ Venison Fajitas.  I'm using this recipe and using venison steak instead of beef.  This meal is a great way to get in your veggie servings.

Wednesday ~ Leftover Night.  This is the busiest night of the week for us, so we'll be fending for ourselves for dinner.  This is a great way to use up smaller portions of leftovers in the fridge.

Thursday ~ Pasta with Vegetables.  I have a lot of vegetables in the fridge to use up.  Spinach, carrots, peppers, etc.  I'll cook them in a little garlic and olive oil and toss with some pasta.

Friday ~ Kielbasa Sandwiches.  We were gifted with some Kielbasa after Grace's aunt visited Philly for the day.  This will be a real treat for dinner and I'll have to come up with something light to serve on the side.  Maybe just a garden salad for me and some potato salad for Joe.

Saturday ~ I'm sure this will be another leftover night for us.  This would be a night that I'd want to get take-out, but I'm really determined to cut back on take-out and fast food.


Sorry for the lack of photos in this post...I may come back and edit later to add them in.  I'm just a bit behind schedule today and really wanted to get this plan posted!



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