I haven’t shared my menu plan here in two months. I wish I could say that’s because I’ve had a professional chef taking care of the cooking (and cleanup!) for me, but that hasn’t been the case. My menu planning has been a little less organized, and when I was packing for our big Christmas cross-country trip I even relied on Dream Dinners to make some of our meals. I like easy meals, but I really do enjoy preparing meals myself, and trying new things.
I’ve also been making a lot of these lately thanks to my new braces.
Last week I tried some new recipes courtesy of my sweet neighbor and her new blog, Veggies Don’t Bite. I’m a gluten loving carnivore, but AM trying to eat more veggies and am not opposed to them. Besides, a recipe doesn’t have to have meat or gluten to be delicious! We tried her Vegan Veggie & Bean Burgers and Oven Fries (these are FABULOUS btw!!! The recipe made 15 for our family, which was enough for 2 dinners. We ate half, and then I froze the rest. The kids gobbled them up). I also made her Cashew Walnut Cream Sauce (which I probably could have eaten straight out of the bowl with a spoon it was so yummy!) to use in the Broccoli and Artichoke Casserole. Much to my surprise there were NO leftovers?!
This Week’s Menu:
- Chicken Sausage, Kale and Sweet Potato Quiche, fruit salad
- Chicken Enchiladas, Spanish Rice, corn
- Lentil & Sweet Potato Tacos with Cilantro Lime Sauce
- Broccoli & Cheddar Pasta Bake
- BBQ Chicken Avocado Quesadillas
- Eggplant Parmigiana Pasta Casserole
I’m sharing my menu this week at I’m an Organizing Junkie!
If you have an elementary school aged child your home is probably like mine and been taken over by hundreds of multi-colored rubber bands. Or it’s about to be!
I first heard about Rainbow Loom a little over a month ago and didn’t understand what the big deal was. I had friendship bracelets as a kid, but it was mostly girls who made them, and we made them out of thread, and sometimes even gum wrappers or soda tabs.
The Rainbow Loom is a plastic loom that can be used to make bracelets, necklaces, rings, pencil grips, little animals and many, many other things out of small rubber bands. And it is HUGE with kids right now, girls AND boys. My 7-year-old son is the “Loomer” in our house. Last week when I picked him up from school he was surrounded by a group of boys asking about all of his bracelets, ewwing and awwing over them, saying how “cool” they were and wondering how long it took him to make each one. (Apparently the more complex a bracelet is, the more “cool” it is). I’ve seen kids wearing so many bracelets they almost reach their elbow.
My son will spend hours working on his creations, even getting up at 6 am on the weekend to get started.
Above: Sailor’s Pinstripes, Starburst and Triple Single.
What You Need
These are $16.95 at Michael’s. My local Michael’s does NOT allow coupons to be used on the Rainbow Loom or supplies. Bummer, but I don’t think they are that expensive in relation to the many hours of fun my son has gotten out of it. I’ve spent more money on toys that end up collecting dust on the shelf after just a couple of hours of play.
- Bands & C-clips
These run $3.99 a pack at Michael’s for 600 bands and 25 C-Clips. They are $3.19 plus shipping at Rainbow Loom’s official website.
- Instruction Book
The Rainbow Loom kit comes with instructions, but the above book we picked up at Michael’s has large pictures and more patterns to choose from.
A search of Rainbow Loom on YouTube reveals over 592,000 results! Want to make a shark? Candy Cane ornament? Hello Kitty, Thor, or Ninja turtle? You can find an instructional video for it and just about anything else on YouTube.
A few favorite patterns:
We’ve had a few “Loomer” play dates so far with my son’s friends. The kids bring their own looms and bands and share ideas and create together. I love that it encourages their creativity, fosters independence (my 7-year-old makes them all himself) and is an indoor activity that does not involve sitting on the couch watching TV.
What about other brands?
I honestly have no idea. All I know is what I’ve heard in talking to other mom’s, and not from personal experience. The only bands and loom we use is the Rainbow Loom. I also love that it was invented by a dad who wanted to impress his daughters.
I ran into a mom at Michael’s who was buying the Rainbow Loom because the knock-off brand loom she bought was not deep enough and hard for her child to use. There are other brands that make bands (they usually come with S-clips instead of C-Clips) that can be used, but I’ve “heard” they break more often.
If you have used the other brands please share whether the bands are good or bad! I’d also love to hear what stores you shop at for your bands. Michael’s is the only one I know of so far and their selection of colors is hit and miss.
p.s. If you have an elementary school aged child on your Christmas list, these make excellent gifts! But shop early, every time I’ve been in Michael’s the kits and bands have been flying off the shelves.
It’s an easy week around here.
But first lets talk chocolate. Gluten free and brownies are three words that I would have never thought could go together well. But on a whim I grabbed some King Arthur Gluten free brownie mix today to go with tonight’s gluten-free dinner.
My sister-in-law eats gluten-free and often joins us for dinner. Since one of our meals tends to be naturally gluten-free anyway we’ve decided to experiment with more gluten-free meals for when she eats with us.
Back to the King Arthur mix. We use and love King Arthur flour, and thought they might actually have created a decent (non bean flavored) brownie mix. The ingredients were simple (rice flour instead of regular flour), not a bunch of hydrogenated unpronounceable things.
They were fantastic! If I hadn’t of known they were gluten-free I would have NEVER guessed. And I’m saying that as a die-hard brownie fan. I love my brownies. And it shows folks. That’s why I run. So I know a good brownie when I see one. I mean eat one. Or two. Or three.
And yes, I would buy this mix again even though I have no problem eating gluten. Because it’s that good. I just found a recipe on the King Arthur website, might have to try it and see how it compares to their mix!
Two of our menu items are from last weeks meal plan because of some schedule changes that happened last week (easier dinners were substituted on some hectic days and my husband made a homemade pasta sauce another night).
Thanksgiving dinner we are going to spend with my husband’s large extended family (I’m not hosting so I’ll just be responsible for a dish, not the whole meal).
And the rest of the week we are camping. Yes, many Americans think of Christmas shopping Thanksgiving weekend, and what do we do? Go camping!
I’m not crazy about camping, but it’s growing on me. I do love to see the joy it brings my children, and that alone makes it worth it to me. But I am looking forward to getting away from the consumer driven weekend of Black Friday and everything that it entails. Instead I’ll b e watching my boys play outside from sun up to sun down and then sitting around the fire roasting s’mores. Does that make me a lover of camping? Eh…probably not, since I get to do it in the comfort of my toy-hauler.
- Gluten Free Night: Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas and King Arthur Brownies (We all know the brownies were good, but the enchiladas were delicious! My husband wished they had chicken, but I kind of liked that there wasn’t any meat. Just sweet potatoes, black beans, green chiles, lots of garlic and other yumminess. This is a KEEPER!)
- Cheesy Crock Pot Cowboy Casserole
- Thanksgiving dinner
- Chicken Divan & rice
See, didn’t I say the week was going to be easy?
I’m sharing my menu at I’m an Organizing Junkie!
At the end of September we celebrated my youngest son’s 5th birthday. I’ve gone over the top for other birthday parties, but I wanted to keep this one smallish and easy to do. I figure he’ll be in Kindergarten next year and we can have a larger party then. Yes, I allowed myself a break!
But there was one non-negotiable. It HAD to be a shark party. That’s all my son talked about for months before his birthday. He wanted it to be a shark party. Shark, shark, shark. So shark it was!
One of my favorite “decorations” thanks to VG Bakery in Cardiff.
98% of the rest of the party I copied from ideas found on Pinterest. So thankful for Pinterest and all the creative people who share their ideas!
The Cricut came in handy for this party. (Idea from Parrish Platz) I bought my Cricut very gently used and for a great price from a friend who wanted a larger one. We have gotten a TON of use out of it for parties, crafts, and school projects.
I used plastic tablecloths torn in half to create ocean waves. White streamers were added to the blue paper lanterns to create jellyfish. (idea from CupKate’s and Parties)
Twisted green streamers were added to the wall to make seaweed. (Idea from Love the Day)
Poster board was used to make a large shark on the table. (Idea from Parrish Platz)
Tortilla chips = Shark Fins. Red Salsa = Slow Swimmers. Get it? Haha! (Idea from Renee’s Soirees)
A Lesson Learned
I learned a big lesson preparing for this party. Namely, that it’s a little hard finding shark decorations during the month of September in most stores. Maybe it’s easier during the summer when beach/summer themed items are popular, but I found nothing. I went to Michael’s, Target, and Party City. I found a few sheets of ocean animal stickers that had a shark and a small plastic shark at Michael’s. That is it.
So what SHOULD I have done? Well, I should have shopped more than a month in advance and looked for items online. I just assumed a shark themed party would be easy to shop for in local stores. So, take it from me, never assume.
Thankfully, since we kept it simple, the few homemade decorations I had were fine, because all a bunch of 5-year-old boys care about at a party is the food and playing together!
Last week we tried some ridiculously good recipes. First off, this salad. Definitely a keeper, and the leftovers made a great lunch. And what you see below is a Goat Cheese Spaghetti Squash Pasta Boat. Wow. I don’t know if I’ve ever had spaghetti squash, at least I can’t remember it. This was amazing. The recipe called for mushrooms which I substituted with red bell peppers (although I did add the sautéed mushrooms in the “boats” for my sister-in-law and I).
The picture does not do it justice (sorry from my iPhone again!). If you are looking for a gluten-free, meat free dish this is a must try. Or if you are looking for a way to get a TON of veggies in, this is it! Even my fairly picky 13-year-old liked it and thought the spaghetti squash did taste a lot like pasta.
What’s For Dinner?
- Breakfast dinner – Waffles, scrambled eggs and sliced oranges
- *Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas (Gluten Free)
- Baked Potato bar (basically baked potatoes with a large selection of toppings so everyone can customize their own. thanks to my 15-year-old for this idea!) & salad
- Crock Pot Cashew Chicken, rice & steamed broccoli
- *Cheesy Crock Pot Cowboy Casserole
- Homemade Pizza night
*next to a recipe denotes a recipe we are trying for the first time.
I’m sharing my menu at I’m an Organizing Junkie!