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Friday, May 22, 2015

Garden Update: Little Plants Are Growing!

Little plants are growing!  Vines are growing!  Trees are blooming!  Flowers are pretty!

One of the cool things about moving to this new house has been seeing all the things that were already planted that we get to enjoy now.  The previous pastor and his family did a lot of landscaping and planting, and I feel a bit spoiled that we get to just come take over.  We're trying to add to it and make it even better.

Let's start with the purely pretty things.  Last month the tulips were in full bloom.  They're mostly gone now, but now these have popped up.
There's still a few purple and yellow tulips on the other side of the front porch (there were also pink and orange a few weeks ago). 
They're just gorgeous!
On the side of the house are some other flowers, so we've been learning what they are as well.


In the backyard, the apple trees (2 different kinds) are flowering, which gives me hope for lots of apples for applesauce this fall.

We also inherited both a grape vine
and several raspberry bushes. Sorry for the weird picture angle, but the neighbors were out and I didn't want them to feel weird about me taking pictures.

So.

Everything up to this point in the blog post has been stuff that was already here.  Aren't we spoiled?

I showed you our tilled up garden plot a few weeks ago, and here's what it looks like today:

We bought several more plants at the garden center, so we now have the potential for watermelon, pumpkins, broccoli, peas, beans, onions, and tomatoes.  Some are doing better than others.  This is the year of trying a bunch of stuff and learning what works.

(broccoli)
(tomatoes in cages)

My favorite part is the strawberry plants.  We planted six of them, and while they're tiny right now, they're supposed to come back each year, so we are hoping to help them get nice and big!

Inside, we still have butternut squash, dill weed, some kind of lettuce, and a few more pepper, jalapeno, and tomato plants.  Those will be planted outside in the next week or so.  We still have some extra onion bulbs, which will probably get planted one per cup and take over the table in the window.  Might as well grow them, since we know we'll eat them!

We also got a parsley plant and a cilantro plant for me to keep inside.  The parsley is thriving!

The cilantro is not.

Most of the stalks wilted, so I picked them off to salvage the cilantro and dry it.  I'm trying to revive the remaining plant but I'm not too hopeful there.  At least we only paid about what I would have for one bunch of cilantro at the grocery store?

And finally, our bucket potatoes.
(Matthew's, mine, Jonah's, Jesse's)
We each picked a seed potato to plant.  We're having an unofficial competition to see who picked the best one.  Jesse's looks the biggest so far, but since we can't actually see the potatoes, we'll have to wait until fall to find out who picked the winner.

So that's our garden right now.  Honestly, growing things from little tiny seeds intimidates me, which is why I've let Jesse do pretty much everything so far.  I'm more comfortable with plants that are sturdy and close to harvesting, and then preserving everything afterwards.   Still, I'm really excited with the potential for all this yummy food!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Menu Plan May 18 - June 1

Hannah's birthday brownies from last week

I don't think I posted the menu plan for the beginning of May, and I'm a few days late with this one.  Better late than never!

Monday, May 18
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Sandwiches, Fruit
Dinner: Crockpot Jambalaya
Snack #1: Energy Bites
Snack #2: Apples

Tuesday, May 19
Breakfast: Eggs and Sweet Potatoes
Lunch: Cobb Salads
Dinner: Leftover Jambalaya
Snack #1: Bananas
Snack #2: Ice Cream

Wednesday, May 20
Breakfast: Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Oatmeal Muffins from the freezer
Lunch: Cobb Salads
Dinner: Chicken Butternut Quinoa
Snack #1: Yogurt
Snack #2: Pears

Thursday, May 21
Breakfast: Yogurt and Homemade Granola
Lunch: BLTs, Apples, Peanut Butter Dip
Dinner: Leftover Chicken Butternut Quinoa
Snack #1: Pears
Snack #2: Popcorn

Friday, May 22
Breakfast: Eggs with Ham and Cheese
Lunch: Black Bean Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries
Dinner: Pizza with Spinach, Mushrooms, Black Olives, and Pepperoni
Snack #1: Apples
Snack #2: Yogurt

Saturday, May 23
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Pears
Lunch: Chicken Fried Rice
Dinner: Gluten Free Lasagna Casserole
Snack #1: Bananas
Snack #2: Homemade Granola

Sunday, May 24
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftovers/Sandwiches
Dinner: Crockpot Beef and Broccoli
Snack #1: Mom's Lazy Trail Mix
Snack #2: Canned Mixed Fruit

Monday, May 25
Breakfast: Squash Hash and Eggs
Lunch: Italian Sausage and Rice
Dinner: Ground Turkey and Pinto Bean Salads
Snack #1: Energy Bites
Snack #2: Pears

Tuesday, May 26
Breakfast: Squash Hash and Eggs
Lunch: Leftover Italian Sausage and Rice
Dinner: Ground Turkey and Pinto Bean Salads
Snack #1: Pears
Snack #2: Popcorn

Wednesday, May 27
Breakfast: Yogurt and Homemade Granola
Lunch: Mini Pepper Nachos with Pinto Beans
Dinner: Chicken Pepper Bake
Snack #1: Bananas
Snack #2: Oranges

Thursday, May 28
Breakfast: Gluten-Free Chocolate Banana Muffins
Lunch: Baked Potatoes with Ham and Broccoli
Dinner: Oatmeal Pancakes, Cinnamon Apples
Snack #1: Oranges
Snack #2: Energy Bites

Friday, May 29
Breakfast: Leftover Muffins
Lunch: Black Bean Taco Soup
Dinner: Grill Out Hot Dogs and Brats, Fruit
Snack #1: Popcorn
Snack #2: 4-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

Saturday, May 30
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Peaches
Lunch: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Tomato Soup
Dinner: Mexican Chicken Soup with Navy Beans
Snack #1: Canned Mixed Fruit
Snack #2: 4-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

Sunday, May 31
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover Mexican Chicken Soup
Dinner: Roast with Potatoes, Onions, and Carrots
Snack #1: Mom's Lazy Trail Mix
Snack #2: Apples

Monday, June 1
Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Chicken Fajitas
Snack #1: Imitation Starbucks Lemon Loaf
Snack #2: TBD 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Weekly Goals: May 17-23

This little princess turned 2 this week.  She thoroughly enjoyed her gluten-free brownies with peanut butter frosting and loads of sprinkles.  She's such an awesome little person right now, and 2 is a mostly fun age!

Last Week's Goals:
  • Clean the kitchen garbage can (done!) and mop the downstairs floors. (not done)
  • Move my craft stuff into the room upstairs after vacuuming the rug and moving it to the girls' room. I vacuumed and moved the rug, but I didn't get my stuff up there yet.
  • Take pictures of our mostly planted garden and write an update blog post. Not done.
  • Start reading a new book! Not done.
This Week's Goals:
  • Catch up on everything from last week that I didn't get done!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Here's another recipe that I switched from whole wheat flour to oat flour with success!  This is quickly becoming another morning favorite for breakfasts and snacking.  I don't remember where I got the original recipe, but I think it was from my mom, because these are one of my dad's favorites!
First, make your oat flour.  You need 3 cups of this (measured before grinding).  I've found it easiest to do this 1 cup at a time in my blender, but if you have a fancier blender or use a food processor, you could probably do more at a time.
Add the remaining ingredients (except chocolate chips) and mix just until combined.  If your butter is still warm, mix everything a little bit first and then add it in, so you don't end up scrambling your eggs (ask me how I know that one). Fold in chocolate chips.
Scoop into greased muffin tin, filling until almost full (because they don't have gluten to help them rise), and bake at 400°F for 18-22 minutes.  Let cool completely before removing from pans.  If you take them out while they're still warm, they're a crumbly mess, but if you let them cool, they're moist and delicious baked goods.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
(makes 24 muffins)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats, ground into flour, plus additional 1/2 cup oats (unground)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 16 oz. pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (can replace 1/4 cup with applesauce)
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
Directions:
Grind oats using a blender or food processor.  Mix with remaining ingredients (except chocolate chips) until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Scoop into greased muffin tins, filling until almost full, and bake at 400°F for 18-22 minutes. Let cool completely before removing from pans.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Big Picture, Little Picture

When I look at my kids, it's easy to see how much they've learned.  What they've picked up on, what I've purposely taught them, and the things they don't quite grasp yet.  Big picture, we're doing pretty well.

But.  The day to day is hard.  The days where I feel like all I've done is cook food that no one liked, and wiped butts, and swept sand off the floor for the fifteenth time.  Little picture, I sometimes (often) get frustrated.

One of the qualities I've been working on in my life is trying not to complain so much.  I used to complain all the time.  Some days I still do.

When I can take a step back, realize all the blessings I have, take a moment to pray and give thanks, the big picture comes into focus.  When I'm right in the middle of what can sometimes feel like thankless work, the little picture barges back in.

Big picture, little picture.  Which one is the focus today?

Monday, May 11, 2015

It's Okay To Want A Day Off

What I'm about to say might be a bit controversial.  Maybe that's why I'm posting it the day after Mother's Day and not on Mother's Day itself.  

It's okay to want a day off.  

It's also okay to think that's crazy.
All last week, I saw various posts being shared about "the perfect gift for Mother's Day".  There were a few different options, but one that I kept seeing is that "Mom just wants a day off" or "time to herself".  The comments are divided here, but they're pretty much both extremes with very few in the middle.  Either you agree and think a day off would be awesome, or you can't see how someone could possibly want time away from her precious blessings, and if you say you do, you're a terrible person.
Mothering is hard, guys.  Why are we making this a battle?  
Kids are a lot of work, and for introverted people who fill their tanks from moments of peace and quiet alone, a day off sounds like a perfect reward for all those times you've had to inwardly sigh as another kid climbed on top of you and the baby woke up from her nap and you really just wanted five minutes to read a book and drink your coffee while it's still warm.  (Can you tell I tend toward that side?)
But kids are also amazing blessings.  You see the things they've picked up on and learned without you even meaning to teach them.  You get compliments from other people about their behavior, or how cute they are, or anything else, and you feel like you're awesome at this job and how could you ever want to leave them?

Maybe your tank gets full from seeing the awesome things your kids do and being around them.  Maybe you'd love for them to do some extra chores on Mother's Day, or  to make you food, or bring you dandelions from the yard.  Or chocolate.  That's pretty much always a winner.  And you know what?  Those are also really awesome Mother's Day gifts.

We're blessed to be mothers.  Let's not battle over our differences.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Weekly Goals: May 10-16

Being a mom often means being literally covered in children.  At least in my house it does.  I love these four little people, and the one we never got to meet.  They make me a better person, and I hope to do the same for them.

Last Week's Goals:

  • Move my craft stuff into the extra room upstairs.  Didn't happen.  For a stupid reason (I want to vacuum the rug that's up there and put it in the girls' room, and I didn't vacuum upstairs this week).
  • Work my way through my spring cleaning checklist.  I got about half of the items done.  Which is actually better than I expected.  The most important ones for next week are the kitchen garbage can (it's gross) and steam mopping the floors downstairs.
  • Figure out an Iron Craft project for the current challenge.  I still have no ideas.  I'll probably be skipping this one.
Next Week's Goals:
  • Clean the kitchen garbage can and mop the downstairs floors.
  • Move my craft stuff into the extra room upstairs after vacuuming the rug and moving it to the girls' room.
  • Take pictures of our mostly planted garden and write an update blog post.
  • Start reading a new book!