Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Artistic Endeavors: Week 1

The picture that will be used 
A few weeks ago, we were approached by a company who produces a well-known art curriculum asking for permission to use a photograph of Ashleigh from when we used their curriculum during a review about three years back.  In exchange for using her photograph, she was given her choice of one of the curriculum books.

The day the book came in the mail, Ashleigh was ready to go.  I had to put the breaks on and told her she could wait until this week to begin her art lessons.  Well, this week is here and trust me, she was NOT going to let me forget that she was going to do her art lesson. So with ebony pencil in hand, we began lesson 1.

For this lesson, I placed an ornamental spider that we had purchased at a renaissance faire some time back on the windowsill.  The lesson asked that the student pick a subject with nice lines and I figured the straight lines of the legs would work well.  Plus, I knew if I allowed Ash to pick her own subject,  she would draw a rat.. LOL

This was her finished piece, which I have to admit turned out very nice.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Meal Planning

I will tell you now, I have never been so glad to know that tomorrow is a grocery shopping day.  It's bad enough to plan meals for 20 days.  Add storing food so that items needed for the end of those days do not go bad before they are needed, remembering to take things out of the freezer a few days ahead of time to have time to thaw out before needed and you have a huge pain in the read end.   But I'm glad to have done it the way that I did because we all had full stomaches those entire 20 days.  Granted, I didn't have anything left in the bank for reserves, but we had food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Now, the 20 days are over and that means it's time to go grocery shopping again.  YEAH!!!   Everyone got to make suggestions, since the last 20 days they were eating what I had planned out and didn't have much say in any of those meals.. Charles requested chicken strips (from Schwans) and a repeat of baked ziti.  Ashleigh asked for cheese enchiladas since that was the one meal that we did not actually eat that was planned (I substituted greek chicken instead).  Garrett requested nachos and Alyssa asked for broccoli and chicken alfredo.  So to make everyone happy, I worked those meals into the mix.  lol

Thursday (2/1)
Chicken Strips with crinkle cut fries and fresh fruit

Friday (2/1)
Creamy Garlic Tuscan Butter Shrimp over pasta with steamed broccoli and garlic bread

Saturday (2/3)
Bacon wrapped jalapeno popper stuffed chicken breast with parmesan baked zucchini sticks

Sunday (2/4)
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo with cornbread

Monday (2/5)
Baked ziti with salad

Tuesday (2/6)
Cheese Enchiladas with Rice and beans

Wednesday (2/7)
Frikadellen, pan-fried potatoes, green beans and salad

Thursday (2/8)
Broccoli and Chicken Alfredo with fresh fruit

Friday (2/9)
Crock Pot Cheeseburger Soup

Saturday (2/10)
Brown sugar garlic chicken with Brussels Sprouts

Sunday (2/11)
Grilled sausage with onions and peppers and tater tots

Monday (2/12)
Spinach and artichoke tortellini with salad

Tuesday (2/13)
Dorito Nacho Night

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Wordless Wednesday

This past Saturday,  Mike Super, who was the winner of Phenomenon and a finalist on America's Got Talent visited the base to perform a bit of slight of hand for the base residents. While we were unable to take any photos or videos of the actual show, the kids did get to meet him and take photographs with him :) 

Even Mom and Dad took a selfie, as it's not very often we get to go out on a "date', even if the kids were with us and it was a free event on base ;)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wordless Wednesday

In an effort to start getting in shape, I've been heading out to the workout area on base and using the rowing machine while my husband gets his daily workout running the track. Today we were behind schedule and the place was packed so I decided I would do my workout after dinner instead.  I was rowing in pitch darkness but the view was pretty cool.  

Saturday, January 13, 2018

34 Weeks of Clean : The Pantry

Here we are again at week 2 of the 34 weeks of clean.  I actually did this particular challenge last year and I'll be honest, most of the changes that I made at that time have remained the same.  So, I'll repost part of last years huge cleaning job so you can see what I started with and then we'll do a bit of tidying up just to say "Hey, I accomplished the challenge". :)   If you want to join in on this week's challenge, be sure to click on the grapic below to head over to Michele's page at Family, Faith and Fridays.

 photo cleanbutton_zpsnlzebjbs.png

So, when I originally accomplished this challenge a year ago, this was the current condition of my pantry..  I'll be honest, it was pretty bad.. I honestly hate the layout of the kitchen in this house, as most of the cabinets are pretty worthless and so everything pretty much just got shoved into wherever there was room.


Here's what probably was suppose to be the pantry
And here's what we actually use for a food pantry

After cleaning out all the can goods and packages from the shelves and throwing out anything that was out of date, this was how the food pantry ended up looking.

So, granted, it wasn't a HUGE difference, but it was more organized..   Charles said cleaning it out and rearranging it seemed to open up more space, I don't know about that but at least it's clean inside.

Then it was time to attack the other "pantry".. It was my hopes to maybe find a way to permanently eliminate some of the stuff in this cabinet.

Sooooo, I boxed all the car cleaning stuff into a plastic container and handed it over to my husband..

Here's starting to empty out the shelves and get them vacuumed and wiped down with some LA Awesome..  Remember when I was talking about cheap material?? This entire unit is partical Wood /Pedboard and is glued to the wall.. lol 

And since my husband said I was "husband-shaming" him by showing all the car cleaning stuff,  have to be fair and post my own picture of shame..

I call this photograph "I Have A Drinking Problem"..  Yup, it's true.. I can't help it..  All of these boxes are tea bags.. Lots and lots of tea bags of all sorts of warm tea goodness..   I have teas for any mood I might be in.. Can I just say, I love tea???

I had a drawer that I don't use for anything other than to keep the spindle for my food processor in.. The draw isn't wide enough to do anything else with except maybe dish rags and I have another area for those... Soooooooooo....

So after some more thinking about why the heck were things organized the way they were, I decided to do some more changes.. One thing that had always bugged the heck out of me was the fact the cabinets we kept our plates and cups in, while convenient to the stove and counters for meal preps, stunk otherwise.. In order to unload the dishwasher, we had to put the plates on the counter or stove, load the dishwasher with the dirty dishes, then close the dishwasher to access the cabinet. It was also a hard reach for me in all honest and many times I have to use a step stool to get to the plates.. Again, why I never thought to put them in the pantry before (maybe because it had ALL of my husband's car cleaning supplies in it??) but as I eliminated stuff, I realized there was more than enough space for the dishes..

BTW, see this roasting pan??  My husband and I searched high and low for this roasting pan two Thanksgiving's back..  I had checked all the places I could think of where I might have put it, all the logical spots such as where I keep bakeware and pots..  Guess where it was?? Hidden behind all those car cleaning supplies ;) 

Since we have a zoo full of pets, I have to have a designated area for pet supplies.. Foods, substrates, bird feeders, ect.. So the Third shelf is now the dedicated pet shelf..


A full year has gone by since the overhaul of the kitchen and for the most part, while most of the things have stayed the same, some of the clutter has returned.   Maybe making a yearly cleaning is a good thing..   While not overwhelming, the shelves could benefit from having everything pulled out again, the surfaces wiped down, and everything reorganized. 

This is what the main food pantry looks like right before I go grocery shopping.  Yeah, it still looks pretty empty overall, since we don't use a whole lot of canned goods - mostly just tomatoes and beans..

And yes, the tea drawer is still being used..  I've sworn off buying any more tea until I finished drinking a majority of what I already have and in te year, I have put a serious dent in my stash, but I still have a long way to go  lol

Well, there's the reorganized food pantry.. I wouldn't exactly say there's much different. I have to laugh, the canned pumpkin puree and the corned beef hash are the same cans from last year.  They're still good, so I guess I should use them.. LOL  I just don't cook out of this pantry that often as we typically use fresh ingredients every week 

And here's what it looks like after being stocked full following grocery shopping..  We had to buy groceries for 20 days so now there' s a pretty decent amount of groceries in there.. LOL 

However, not everything can fit in this little space, so I had to have an overflow for bread, chips and broths.. LOL

The other pantry (where I keep plates and cups) got a good wipe down and reorganization (where I discovered I have WAY too many bags of dog treats!!!) . 

And the cabinet doors got a good wipe down both inside and out.  I couldn't believe how nasty the inside was as I never look at this area.  I guess I'l be adding them to my monthly rotation. 

I guess next week we'll be tackling the other cabinets and drawers, so you'll get to see that area then :)  But for now, I'm pretty happy what we've done so far :) 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Meal Planning - 20 Day Stretch

Being a military family, payday is always the 1st and the 15th.  However, if those dates fall on a weekend or a holiday, then the paydates shift to the weekday prior...  If you bank with a few of the different military banks, then your money goes into the bank the day before payday.  Normally, this isn't a problem.. but there's always a few months out of the year where this results in an extremely long stretch between two paydates..  The month of January is one of those months. Because of the MLK Day holiday on Monday (the 15th), payday moves up to the 12th.. Which means the banks paid everyone on the 11th, resulting in everyone making that paycheck stretch for 20 days, when we get finally get paid again.

20 days is a LONG time to have to plan meals out and I admit, if I was better at budgeting, I probably wouldn't need to plan that far out.  But when it comes to these long stretches, there never seems to as much money as days and so I like to make sure I have food in my house for each and every date, just in case.

This also means that I need to create 20 meals pretty frugally as well as pay the bills, keep gas in the cars, ect with the same amount of money we typically go 12-14 days with.  I'll be completely honest ...  Healthy goes completely out the door and instead I worry about getting cheap foods that can fill everyone up. LOL

You'll notice that there's many dinners where rice is on the menu.. That's almost always  my go-to staple for long stretches - a bag of rice will feed an army I tell ya.  Also, meals with "salsa and chips" means that I'm buying a huge package of corn small tortillas (which I can get 40 for about 2 bucks), slicing them into triangles and baking them in the oven.

Our breakfasts and lunches tend to be a bit more on the cheap side as well - I'll be making lots of oatmeal, hot rice cereal (told you that rice goes a long way), porridge, and bannocks for breakfast for example.  Lunches will consist of things like omelets,  mac and cheese, homemade "lunchables" and canned pasta.  (Sorry kids, no clams this pay check lol)

We are having one splurge and going out to eat tonight to Red Robin.  This month is my birthday and so we get a free burger LOL     There are a few "copycat" recipes on my list such as the McRib sandwiches and Jack in the Box Tacos - these are homemade versions of these fast food items.  For example, the McRib is just cheap Banquet frozen pork riblets on a french style roll with extra BBQ sauce, onions and pickles.

Friday (1/12) - Red Robin - YUM!!

Saturday (1/13) - Skillet Pineapple BBQ chicken with Rice and Steamed Broccoli

Sunday (1/14) - Cheddar Cheese Soup with Pretzel Bread

Monday (1/15) -  Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells 

Tuesday (1/16) - Cheese Enchiladas with Chili Gravy, Refried Beans and Rice, Chips and Salsa

Wednesday (1/17)  - Pancit Bihon with Lumpia

Thursday (1/18)  McRib Sandwiches with French Fries and Salad

Friday (1/19)  - Greek Marinaded Chicken with Lemon Couscous Salad

Saturday (1/20) - Burgers with Mac and Cheese

Sunday (1/21) - Broccoli Cheddar Chicken with Green Beans, Fried Apples and Outback Rolls

Monday (1/22) - Grilled Cheese with Tomato/Basil soup

Tuesday (1/23) - Picadillo with Flour Tortillas

Wednesday (1/24) -  Chili Dogs with Potato Salad and Chips

Thursday (1/25) -  Baked potatoes with BBQ pulled pork and Field Peas

Friday  (1/26) - Pork Ramen with Egg Roll

Saturday (1/27) - Meatball Sandwiches with Tots and Salad

Sunday (1/28) - Oven "Fried" chicken strips with sauce, potato salad, steamed broccoli and Texas toast. 

Monday (1/29) - Chickpea Tikka Masala with Rice

Tuesday (1/30) - Jack in the Box Style Tacos with Steamed broccoli, chips and Salsa

Wednesday (1/31) - Orange Chicken with Rice and green beans

Well at least at the end of the 20 days, we'll still have eaten well ;) 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Truth and Training Thursday

It's Thursday and the girls headed back to AWANA this weekend following the holiday break. 

This week, Ashleigh worked hard to be able to complete the second section of her book this week.  This meant memorizing Revelations 1:1-2  as well as the previous 6 verses that she has memorized prior to the winter break.

Ashleigh reciting her verses
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to His servants the things that must soon take place.  He made it known by sending His angel to His servant John.

Who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all he saw.  
-- Revelations 1:1-2 

Now the Lord said to Abram, " Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. 

And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing."    Genesis 12: 1-2

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.  -- Proverbs 1:7

I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brothers.  And I will put My words in his mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command him. 

And whoever will not listen to My words that he shall speak in My name, I myself will require it of him.    --Deuteronomy 18:18-19

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received:  That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. 

That He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures  
                                                                                                           -- 1 Corinthians 15: 3-4

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord,  and as many were appointed to eternal life believed. 

And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.   --  Acts 13:  48-49

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.   -- 2 Thessalonians 2:1

In addition to the seven verses, Ashleigh was also required to recite the 66 books of the Bible in its entirety. 

Old Testament:
Genesis     Exodus     Leviticus     Numbers     Deuteronomy     Joshua     Judges     Ruth
1 Samuel     2 Samuel     1 Kings     2 Kings     1 Chronicles     2 Chronicles     Ezra
Nehemiah     Ester     Job     Psalms     Proverbs     Ecclesiastes     Song of Solomon
Isaiah     Jeremiah     Lamentations     Ezekiel     Daniel     Hosea     Joel     Amos     Obadiah
Jonah     Micah     Nahum     Habakkuk     Zephaniah     Haggai     Zechariah     Malachi

New Testament:
Matthew     Mark     Luke     John     Acts     Romans     1 Corinthians     2 Corinthians
Galatians     Ephesians     Philippians     Colossians     1 Thessalonians     2 Thessalonians
1 Timothy     2 Timothy     Titus     Philemon     Hebrew     James     1 Peter     2 Peter
1 John     2 John     3 John     Jude     Revelations

My hat is off to the little toot - she busted her rear and memorized all if it and recited everything with no problem.  

Alyssa and her Sparks enjoyed a High Flyers party to celebrate all the hard work that they have done for the first half of the AWANA year.  To be part of the High Flyers, kids must have finished their entrance booklet and the rank for a total of 14 sections.  Their lesson this week was from Luke 2: 41-52 and focused on what it means to be lost in sin and saved by the Grace of God.

Heading into Section 3 of her book, Ashleigh will be working on Genesis 1:26, Genesis 3:1, Genesis 3:6, Romans 5:12, Romans 5:19, 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17 and Psalms 102: 25-27. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

34 Weeks of Clean - Week 1: Christmas Decorations

Well, the saying goes "Third Time is a Charm" so let's see how much truth there is to that..  This is my third attempt to participate in the 34 Weeks of Clean Challenge hosted by my friend Michele at Family, Faith and Fridays.  But, for this time around, I'm actually starting at the beginning - Week 1.  For whatever reason, I always get off track early on, either a particular challenge doesn't apply for me one week and then I totally forget to come back the following week or something else leads to me completely forgetting.. Or, sometimes, I admit, I just get discouraged and throw my hands up in the air.  I am determined that this time, I will NOT give up, I will make it 34 weeks.. Fingers crossed!!

For the first week, participants were asked to go ahead and bring down the Christmas decorations.

In case you don't know, we LOVE Christmas decorations, so there were lots of decorations to rid the house of.. LOL  With double strands of lights completely around the house, Christmas trees and lighted decorations throughout the yard,  and lighted garland and decorations inside as well, the dismantling of the holiday season in our home is a time-consuming process.



The first strand taken down and coiled up and secured with a twist tie.  All bundles are then placed into a storage box that gets put on the shelf in our garage until next year. 

Charles gets to take care of the lights on the house, as I am way too short to reach them, even when standing on a chair. 

However, him being as tall as he is, he can just reach up and pull them off the hooks..

While Dad takes care of the lights, I get the fun of cleaning the trees that are outside and getting them packaged back up for next year.  One thing  is to go through and get all the pine needles and leaves and other debris off the tree and shake them out really week before boxing them back up. 

My poor box has seen better days.. Packaging tape for now, but I do believe next year I may buy a plastic storage box for this tree.  Everything then went to their designated spaces in the garage which I'm not taking a picture of because I am truly embarrassed by the state of my garage right now!!  I'f I make it to week 29, I'll allow you to see it ;)  lol 

And now the outside of the house is back to normal.   Looks too plain now!!! 

Now it was time to attack the inside..  Sadly, that meant it was time to box up the Christmas Tree. 

Three quarters of our Christmas ornaments are shatterproof so I'll be honestly, we just place them inside a huge plastic bin.  However, the bin we were using was a long flat bin, the type used to go underneath your bed.  And it never did work properly for holding all the ornaments. The lid wouldn't fit on it, and so it just stayed in our utility room collecting dust throughout the year as I wouldn't put them in the garage without a lid.  This year, I repurposed one of my husbands plastic bins to use for the ornaments because this one the lid could close AND it could fit on the shelf where the rest of the Christmas decorations go in the garage. 

 Getting all filed up.. (You can see the flat bin we previously used in the top corner). 

Once again, Charlie's height came in handy as he took down the lighted garland that we use on top of our entertainment center. 

And putting away the train that goes under the tree. 

And it's all gone :(   Well, except for that one red ball hanging above the crystal spider.. We made an agreement with Ashleigh that she could pick one ornament to leave out to hold on to the holiday during the winter season.   LOL  After a quick vacuum and a wipe down of the windowsills and the entertainment center, everything is back to pre-holiday status. 

 But my cat is not happy that the tree is gone. 


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