and there you have it…


May 2015

week 2 menu plans

Skipped Monday’s blog to celebrate the holiday. Figured you all were too, but I’m back. I’ve got another week of menu’s down below. Enjoy!

8) Black bean sweet potato burgers – I’ve had people really get upset when I call these burgers and there’s no meat in them, so if it makes you feel better feel free to call them patties instead! They are not a meat burger substitute, they are they’re own thing entirely and they are yummy. If you can make up the mix and leave it for a bit they are a little easier to handle, but I’ve done them either way (I’m not always thinking ahead!). When cooking them once you put them on the skillet don’t touch them, check them, or move them AT ALL until you’re ready to flip them. Premature checking or flipping or poking may or may not cause them to crumble into pieces, which I totally don’t know from experience, but I read it, somewhere, yep, that’s it. Also they taste really good with avocado (or pepper jack cheese if you can have it!)

9) Vegan mac n cheese – So how’d you like to eat a whole bunch of healthy things and it feels like you’re eating mac n cheese? You’re in luck! It’s got onions and shallots and carrots and lemon juice and cashews and just trust me you’ll still like it.

I have to be upfront, this one is a bit labor intensive the first time. It’s worth it, I can make it in my sleep now we’ve had it so much. By the 5 or 6 time we had it all the kids would even eat it! I don’t typically put the bread crumbs on top, I don’t feel it’s needed and it’s just extra work. Also I always always at least double the sauce, I freeze whatever’s left for other recipes. If you don’t want to have so much potato in there we’ve successfully subbed it out for eggplant (I know, but it really works) or half cauliflower half potato (more than 50/50 for this alters the taste too much for me). I’ve also halved the salt and ‘butter’ with no complaints (just don’t leave it all out! left out the salt once on accident, I will NEVER do that again, blech). Also I stopped telling people it’s vegan, they give you weird looks and don’t try it. If you don’t tell them, they love it! Adults are really just little kids when it comes to food sometimes.

10) Corn chowder – This is the basic recipe I use. I like this one with coconut milk best, but I’ll use whatever non-dairy milk I have on hand. A special trip to the store for a preferred ingredient does NOT happen over here, instead, I get creative, it usually works out. I leave out the red peppers, I really like them, but the family not so much. I like turkey bacon sprinkled on top vs. the canadian bacon inside. I’ve used half n half fresh corn and canned or frozen and I think it still tastes good. I don’t think I’d do all frozen, but you can do whatever you want.

11) Huevos rancheros – This is here for the no brainer nights, so so easy. As long as I make sure each of my kids gets an egg, they will eat it.

12) Pad Thai – We had this last night! That comment on the beginning of the blog about doubling the sauce, that was from me! I changed the description on my original pin and as it got repinned and repinned no one changed the description and whamo it was all over pinterest! My one claim to fame. I do like it saucier, although these days I mostly just add more soy sauce (we use bragg’s liquid amminos) and lime juice and keep the sugar the same.

13) Homemade Pizza – no recipe here, everyone likes their pizza different. We have however stumbled on Mama Mary’s crust for the gluten free option and it’s been a big hit, we like their regular too. Over here our cheese pizza has olives, green pepper, onions, and mushrooms (Jena is still picking these off) and pepperoni. For the no cheese the boys mostly just do pepperoni, sometimes one of the other veggies, if I’m in the mood to force the issue.

14) Fish and veggies – another no recipe. We eat mostly white fish (though the kids have recently decided to like salmon too!) and I just put some olive oil and salt and pepper on it and put it on the electric skillet 3-4 minutes a side. The kids don’t like the fancy stuff so much and this one is one I make for an easy dinner win. I will put some cajun seasoning and mine and Bycemasters, yum yum. We usually eat it with broccoli or green beans.

So there you have it, week 2! Click here if you missed week 1!

week 1 meal plans

So I posted on facebook earlier that I’ve finally got a list of 30 dinner meals for the family, and there was a request for the meals. Since I honor requests (shhh don’t tell my kids), here you have it.

The hope of this list is that I can just pull from this list each week when menu planning and it will make menu planning less of a brain drain and more of a breeze! I doubt I will just rotate this list straight, certain things (like homemade pizza and quesadillas) will get used more than once a month, I can already tell you that. Also I enjoy trying something new, even if my family does not always appreciate my efforts, but its one of the few advantages of being the cook, I can cook what I want, occasionally.

Since a whole 30 days would be a monstrosity of a post, I’m gonna do it a week at a time. I try to follow the 80/20 rule with food. Meaning if we can keep 80% of what we eat in a week where I would like it, the other 20% is a wash. Breakfast and lunch are usually pretty standard and healthy around here so I took a few of the cheats with dinners (hence the hot dogs, gotta have some easy wins) and the rest will cover parties, eating out and other peoples houses (always a wild card). I need some grace in my life.

So here it is, in absolutely no premeditated order whatsoever!

Week 1 of 30 days of dinner meals

1) Black bean quesadillas – This is one of the few all over wins for the family. I use whole wheat or corn tortillas, smash up the black beans a bit to make a paste, spread bean paste on one half and avocado on the other half, sprinkle with black olives, fold in half and grill in coconut oil on a skillet. We also add onions, tomatoes, and cheese per request. Serve with salsa and sour cream. So yummy!

2) Re-fried bean tacos – I use this recipe for re-fried beans in the crock-pot, they smell like heaven when they are cooking. I make the whole recipe and freeze the rest for easy dinners later! This recipe was the first way we ever got the littlest to actually eat tacos.

3) Split pea soup – This one was a favorite for Bycemaster and myself, the kids were very much not fans. There may or may not have been incidents of actual gagging at the table the first few times we had this. They have been slowly won over and now all of them will actually eat it and 2 of them are actually excited about it! I use the recipe on the back of the Publix split pea package. We use a few pieces of bacon instead of ham unless it’s the holidays and we need to use up a bunch of leftover ham.

4) One Pan Mexican Skillet Meal – recipe here, we use exactly as stated, so so easy, love this one.

5) Potato Soup – this is the baseline recipe I use, we sub the cow’s milk for unsweetened almond milk and the flour for whatever gluten free flour I happen to have at the moment. It’s loaded with veggies and not super heavy like a lot of potato soups, have seconds with no guilt 🙂 It can be fun with toppings too, we usually pick some green onions and add cheese for those that can have it.

6) Hot Dogs – Some nights you need a no brainer. If I’m lucky Bycemaster will grill them, if not, I’ll microwave them. I usually buy the ones safe for our family when they’re on sale and hide them in my special hidey hole in the freezer to pull out on nights when I cannot adult.

7) Black bean soup – another super easy one (are you sensing a theme here). Two cans of black beans (rinsed and drained), 1 can of broth (veggie or chicken), and 1 cup of salsa. Set aside one can of beans and blend the rest, then pour in a pan to heat and add the other can of beans and a little cumin and chili powder. This one is so easy it was one of the first to teach the oldest to make. Sometimes we mix in corn or rice if I have some leftover that needed to get used. We always serve it with chips, pretty sure that’s why it’s a kid favorite.

Side note: I used to think making dried beans required magical powers. I tried and failed miserably so many different times and then stumbled on a blogger that said she made them in the crock pot, EUREKA! 4-5 hours on high, no soaking or magical powers required. I now cook dried ones and freeze them in roughly can sized containers for easy use later.

Good luck and happy cooking!

why I’m boycotting mother’s day

That title is shameless click bait, I admit. But hey if you’re reading this, it worked! And it is true, mostly.

Here’s why, most mother’s days for myself, and more people than I’d like to admit (and probably more than admit to me!) are just days set up for disappointment on the I am a mother end and endless amounts of guilt on the I have a mother end. I am very enmeshed in the raising small people phase of parenting. We are for the moment, out of the high intensity completely dependent phase, but fully into the mentally and emotionally exhausting raising small people phase. What I honest to goodness want at this stage (and what I hear from most of my ‘co-workers’) is a break! Sleep, alone time, a clean house for more than the evening hours they are sleeping (that didn’t require most of said hours to get there)! And according to this info graphic, apparently a small percentage of us also want a lumberjack.

mother's day infographic

I already have me one of them these days. He just trades the flannel button down for a professional one for work. Just this weekend he even promised me I’d get to watch him chop wood. True story.

professional lumberjack

But I digress, it’s the rest of that elusive stuff I want, and I’m clearly not alone. But that’s not generally the experience we get. In this phase of parenting, it’s not really very feasible, you know minus the lumberjack part (’cause you know, nailed it!) So when I woke up on Mother’s day to my same messy house, stinky litter box, not alone, even the sleeping in and breakfast I didn’t have to cook didn’t stave off the disappointment. Which to be honest, is a bit ridiculous. Any other day I wake up to the same circumstances and I’m happy and content with my life. Any other day my house feels loved and lived in, not messy. Any other day I appreciate and smile at the laughter and happy screams of my children. Any other day I honestly enjoy my life.

So we were on our way to my mother’s to have lunch with my parents and sister. We made our previously scheduled stop at Publix to pick up some of their awesome fresh flowers for my mom. As I walk in I’m thinking I need something, sugar, caffeine, something! I’m tired, I have a headache, I just want to be alone, this day is for me too, I AM A MOTHER TOO DANG IT!

I stand in front of the dessert cups for forever trying to pick if I want a cheesecake cup or a strawberry cup, can’t decide what I want, so I go pick flowers for my mom. Immediately find ones filled with purple flowers and grab those, then I see Oreo cups on sale for a dollar (one of Jacob’s favorites) and then I think I’d need something for Grant and there’s nothing in this section he could eat. So off I go for some bars, then I find granola and Grant and I had just been talking about granola the night before. There’s a new chex mix granola! He loves chex, double win! It’s starting to turn into a give a mouse a cookie story…drop a mom at a grocery store for one thing and…

One thing leads to another and I end up leaving with a dessert to share with my daughter, stuff for my mom (original mission) and something for each of my boys. The cashier wishes me happy mother’s day and I joke about the fact that I came in for one thing for my mom and ended up with something for all my kids, on mother’s day, typical. We laugh and I realize this was just what I needed, to think about someone else.

That’s what mother’s do best. We all have different perspectives and even different way of carrying out the same perspective, but ultimately we are thinking about other and namely our kids, most of the time. We may be thinking about their short term happiness or their long term success. It might be how we can help them get into the best college or how we can help them be who they were made to be. Maybe it’s trying to get them everything we never had or trying to teach them stuff won’t make them happy. But the point is, the focus is not on us, it’s not on me. (Disclaimer: I am completely for taking care of yourself and try to do and model this to my children. You need to treat yourself and teach your children to treat you with the same amount of respect you treat your kids, but that’s for another post).

So having a day where the cultural expectation is to think about myself and what I want and what I deserve for all this hard ‘work’ I do. This is not a day of happiness. Watching a kid smile at you when you finally get to be the one buying them a treat (instead of it always being a grandparent), sharing dessert with your daughter, getting to see/hear when someone receives your gift, those things bring joy. ‘Cause it’s not about me.

I’m all for teaching children to think about other people, it’s a lesson that will serve them and their future happiness well in life, and it’s one most of us (read me) could also do well to remember. Joy doesn’t come from being focused on me and what I ‘deserve.’ I certainly don’t need a whole day telling me it’s all about me. So next year, if I don’t get the coveted weekend by myself, I’ll be ok. I’ll just content myself with my lumberjack and ride along like it’s any other day. And if I do get anything else off that info-graphic, well, BONUS!

best monday ever

Today we took a day, just took it and ran with it all the way to the beach. It’d been a while, it was much needed. I’ve been in that place where there’s just enough to make it the next step and no more. No margin, no extra. The beach takes me back to fuller again. It was a good choice. I left the weekend frustrated that our home study still wasn’t approved and the person responsible was leaving on vacation. I know they work hard, I do. But that doesn’t really lessen my frustration with how much waiting we are doing before we are even officially waiting. I left the weekend feeling like it was once again too short and to full of work. But oh Monday. Monday has been good to me. Monday was full of the good stuff.

Like a little girl finally finding the magic mix of wet and dry sand for her castle to work this trip!


And make believe birthday cakes and candles and wishes too!


And the most awesomest construction team ever and their giant pool!


Complete with an underground basement, can you see it under there? They started tunneling under ground. It was impressive, they were proud.


When we got home I jumped on the wifi and checked my email. First I saw we have a renter! I don’t even remember if we posted that our renter that was going to renew decided to leave instead, because you know when you’re fund raising having a refill fee and empty rental is what you’re going for, clearly. But we have a new renter and we were able to get more rent than last year and they move in Friday! Very exciting, but not the most exciting email. The best email was the next one.


So pumped, I may just set up the pack n play and hang up the baby quilt tonight. AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH. Happy dance (in my head, maybe).

Best Monday ever.

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