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Oh, Sweet Honey Iced Tea

Freitag, 29. November 2013

A Very Pinteresting Christmas: Day One

So, did you have a great Thanksgiving? All filled up on turkey and sides and desserts? Are you heading out for Black Friday sales today?

We had a lovely meal together, just the four of us. We didn't do turkey or ham. Instead, we opted for just the favorites: our French meat pie, macaroni and cheese, corn casserole, cornbread stuffing with bacon and onions, sweet potatoes, and pie: pumpkin and pecan. Good stuff. 

Now, it's time to move on to Christmas. It's my favorite holiday. It just makes me feel happy. I love decorating. I love the festivities. And I want to share it all with you!

For the entire time between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, I'll be sharing ideas for decorating, cooking, and gift-giving that I've found on Pinterest. 

I'll be sharing only the doable ideas, with certain criteria:

  1. Ingredients and/or supplies must be easy to find. 
  2. Projects must be low cost. Upcycling is a plus. 
  3. They can only take up to three hours to complete. No one has time for lengthy projects this time of year!

So leave it to me. I'll be your guinea pig, weeding through all the promising ideas on Pinterest and bringing you only the ones that are quick, easy, and worthwhile. Follow me throughout the season for ideas to stock your Christmas crafting list. Right up through Christmas Eve, I'll show you it's never too late for some holiday crafting. 

First craft of the season: This bad boy's been on my Pinterest "to-do" list for only a month, making it one of my newest "to-do" items. 

here's how mine turned out. I like him. 

total time spent: less than three Doctor Who episodes
total cost to me: about $3.00: hat and tulle from the thrift shop, and wreath base from a local store. already had glue gun. 
craftiness level: beginner -- just know how to tie a knot and use a glue gun. 

You'll need some tulle, a foam wreath base, a Santa hat, and a bit of ribbon and a hot glue gun. Full instructions found at the link above. 

One note: You'll want to trim the tulle up a bit to give Santa's beard an even cut once you're done. Oh, and double knot the tulle. 

I'm quite happy with the way mine turned out, and would be happy to give this as a gift, though he's destined to decorate my door this season, instead. 

See you tomorrow for another Pintastic holiday idea!

Montag, 25. November 2013

What's Cookin' at My House #4

First of all, I won NaNoWriMo 2013!

..which feels like a very, very big deal, because, in less than thirty days (in 23, precisely), I wrote over 50,000 chronological words. A story. I wrote a story. And it's nearly done. My heroine is about to meet her final challenge before the ending. I'll revise and edit the crap out of this thing, then I'll seek out publishing. My pal Wendy Callahan, author and NaNo Winner, has offered her assistance. And not everyone gets help from a published author! I can't wait. Some day, I, too, will be a published author. 

The novel's name is PARTS, but that's subject to change, and it's about an alternate reality in which human body parts are assigned based on your unique abilities and what your country needs from you. My main characters, Piper, Finn, and Blaize (all subject to change), uncover an ugliness being hidden by the entity overseeing this process, and they work to bring it to the public's attention. They meet every possible obstacle, right up until the last moments. 

My name is Piper Grey. I was born in a woman's ward in Sector Eight, on April 14th, 2033. I was Made fourteen years later. This is my story. 

Anyway, back to the mundane tasks of keeping a home: feeding the clan, to be specific. Clan's a good word here, because we're dabbling in Paleo eating. In the past, low-carb has made us all feel better (with special care to disclude our baby girl, who has the beginnings of kidney disease, and has since birth, so she ate all the grains and veg and fruit the whole time, as too much protein is bad for the kidney she has remaining -- long story for another day) but we all miss the carbie things. Paleo is a nice mix, because it's not low carb -- it's low carbs that make us feel like crap. Plus, it'll help us get over dairy consumption. Dairy does none of us any good. We all have sensitive tummies. 

So we're trying this new thing. Yes, with Thanksgiving stuffed right inbetween. Pun totally intended. Living with the 80/20 mentality which allows for copious chocolate consumption once a month, Thanksgiving will be left as-is. 

Even if you're not Paleo (and we're not Paleo, just dabbling), this is a damn fine menu plan, I think. Anyone would enjoy it. Just add grainy stuff if you need to. 


Breakfast: Cinnamon Raisin Quinoa (this is really, really good)
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Crock Pot Balsamic Roast, Sweet Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts
Snack: Kale Chips


Breakfast: Scrambled Veggie Eggs and Sausage
Lunch: Out to eat -- probably not Paleo, to be honest
Dinner: Paleo Chicken Pot Pie
Snack: Fruit and Nuts


Breakfast: Meatsa Omlets -- salami, pepperoni, sausage, and ham bits in an omlet with peppers, tomatoes, and onions, too. 
Lunch: Veggie Soup
Dinner Almond Butter Chicken (we loved this so much last week that we're having it again this week!) with Broccoli and Carrots
Snack: Roasted Root Veggies



Brunch: Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Dinner: French Meet Pies, Yams Hawaiian Style (recipe below), Cornbread Stuffing made with Bacon and Onions, Corn Casserole, and Macaroni and Cheese. Pecan and Pumpkin Pies for dessert. No turkey. No ham. We're just not that into it. 


Black Friday

Breakfast: Kids will be home and will have leftover pie. Healthy, right? We will be shopping and will have something from the local bakery (equally healthy). 
Lunch: Kids: leftovers. We'll be having once-in-a-European-tour authentic Tex-Mex at a restaurant. 
Dinner: More leftovers. 
Snack: Probably not. 


Breakfast: Primal Scotch Eggs
Lunch: Paleo Orange Chicken and Stir-fried veggies
Dinner Sweet Pulled Pork Waffle Sliders & Sweet Potato Fries
Snack: Honey-Cinnamon Roasted Chick Peas


Breakfast: Paleo Pancakes and Scrambled Eggs
Lunch: Green Vegetable Minestrone Soup
Dinner Paleo Pan-Fried Chicken, Cole Slaw, and Roasted Root Veggies
Snack: Bacon Jalapeno Deviled Eggs

Yams Hawaiian Style


  • 2 large cans yams, mashed
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 15 oz can crushed pineapple with juice
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and cook and stir until heated through. Couldn't be simpler. 

In other news, beginning Friday and extending through Christmas Eve, I will have daily posts detailing homemade gifts, decorations, and other fun stuff you can make for the holidays. It's a Very Pinteresting Christmas, by Yours Truly. I hope you'll come back then. 

Montag, 18. November 2013

What's Cookin' at My House #3

Going on this week:

  • My oldest daughter turns fifteen! You know --- that year when you get your LEARNER'S PERMIT and begin -gulp- driving. 
  • We have homeschool gym class and a Zumba class (kill me now) on the same day
  • We have a get-together on Tuesday
  • My husband is out of the house all week
  • Still working on my novel
  • Homeschool. 
  • I've committed to exercising on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week. I have accountability partners. So, you know, I have to get it done. 
  • Snow is in the forecast, finally!
Here is my weekly menu plan. If you notice it's quite similar to last week's (and the week before's), well, yay! because that means you're a returning reader! And shh--- things went a little wacky the last couple of weeks and we skipped home cooking too much. 

It is all completely gluten-free. It's not a fad with me. Gluten really does make me sick: it gives me headaches, makes me irritable, wrecks my gut, makes me phlegm-y, bloats me, makes me crave more gluten, causes me to have seasonal allergy symptoms (and take Benedryl), wrecks my teeth, and a list of other symptoms. The wheat of today is not the wheat our ancestors thrived on, and gluten intolerance and gluten allergies are more and more common. Gluten-free is not a weight loss program, although it does help shed the pounds I carry from bloat. Gluten-free is a health program. Because who wants to feel sick all the time? If you're not gluten free, you can still make these meals. Just replace any specialty flour with your own all-purpose and thank the gods you get to buy cheap flour. Also feel free to add pasta, skip rice, whatever. It's your life. I won't tell you how to live it. I will tell you, though, that even if you're not gluten-free, this is a kickass menu plan anyone can enjoy. 

Aside from that, my menu is also mainly clean and slightly paleo. I adhere to neither of those plans but I find their recipes fit in with my particular way of eating nicely. Plus, they're healthy. Well, except for the Nutella Brownies. But, you know, Nutella. Brownies. 

I bought a bunch of disposable freezer containers so that I can freeze my leftovers for busy day meals. Tis the season for busy days, after all. 

Oh, by the way. I have something super fun planned for this blog starting the day after Thanksgiving and running through Christmas Eve. More details to follow soon. 

Click on the meal each day to open the recipe on other sites. And enjoy. :)

Breakfast Paleo Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies (make ahead of time)
Lunch Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs (start before breakfast)
Dinner Almond Butter Chicken with Stir-Fry Veggies and Brown Rice

Breakfast Almond Joy Oatmeal
Lunch Stuffed Mexican Sweet Potatoes
Dinner Rosemary Chicken with Green Beans and Red Potatoes (start after breakfast)

Wednesday *Bay's Birthday!*
Breakfast Warm Cinnamon Raisin Quinoa Breakfast
Lunch Slow Cooker Lentil Soup (leftovers)
Dinner Mac & Cheese (homemade, gluten free) and a delicious (homemade, gluten free) cookies and cream cheesecake for dessert -- Birthday Girls' request. I will post a recipe later this week.

Breakfast Apple Pie Bites (make ahead of time)
Lunch Refried Bean Soup (start before breakfast)
Dinner Chicken from the chicken truck and salad (There is a delicious food truck in my village and they sell roasted chicken. It is fabulous)

Breakfast Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash
Lunch leftovers
Dinner Quick & Easy Chicken Curry

Breakfast Almond Flour Yogurt Waffles
Lunch leftovers
Dinner Crock Pot Pork & Green Chili Stew (start after breakfast)

Breakfast eggs and toast
Lunch veggie fried (brown) rice and egg drop soup
Dinner Crock Pot balsamic roast (start after breakfast)

Snacks throughout the week

Roasted Chick Peas
Guacamole Deviled Eggs
Coconut Cinnamon Apples

Sweet Treat to End the Week (All work and no play makes Jane a dull girl, so the saying goes.)

Nutella Brownies

Samstag, 16. November 2013

Where did my courage go?

Yesterday, I went to my very first Painting with Friends (aka Sips & Strokes). It was terrifying. I mean that. I sat in the back of the room, away from all the people, waiting for my friend to arrive. I was way, way outside of my comfort zone. 

I've never painted before, ever. Well, except for water color paint by numbers, and to quote Luna Lovegood, "how different are they, really?"

Very different, of course. 

To further add to my terror, the directions given by the instructor were vague at best. "Paint a curvy shadow in midnight blue in your upper right corner."

Now, I'm a literal girl. I want to know the dimensions of the freaking shadow. How far down? How do I make this midnight blue? Alas, Painting with Friends is meant to evoke a different painting of the same scene from twenty-five people in the same room. And it does. 

Somehow, through all the chaos, I managed to eke out a decent painting. I really love it:

I think it's pretty darn amazing that I painted that scene with no painting experience whatsoever. 

But last night, while I was there, I was genuinely afraid. Afraid of the new people. Afraid to mess up my painting. Afraid of not knowing the next step. In the end, it turned out great. At the end of class, I volunteered (got sucked into?) to go to Zumba class on Monday. Oh. My. God. Zumba. With people. People who look better than me. People who don't have two left feet. People who are, like, half my body weight. People who won't be covered in buckets of sweat. 

See how my mind works?

On the way home, I got to thinking. Where did my courage go? Why am I so afraid of everything now? My fear holds me back from doing so much. I wasn't always afraid. So where did it come from?

When did I turn from this:

image credit Disney this?

image credit mgm
I'm not sure when it happened. But I'm over it. It's time for me to be brave again. I am not a coward. I'm not a wimp. But somewhere, along my journey, I lost my courage. I'm taking it back. 

I can even see my inner cowardly lion surfacing in my writing. I'm 2/3 done with my NaNoWriMo novel and I've had to stop myself from turning my main character into a wimp several times already. 

No more. 

I'm taking back my courage. 

Dienstag, 12. November 2013

Five (nonessential) Things I Don't Know What I'd Do Without

These are five things that save me time, money, and frustration, or make me otherwise feel happy. Of course they aren't essential items, but that's beside the point. I hope you'll find them useful.

  1. Stephanie O'Dea at Totally Together. I've followed this blogger since she began her Crock Pot cooking journey, vowing to use her slow cooker every single day for a full year. She went well beyond that goal and is a successful cookbook author now. Her little blogspot blog is now a well-organized, multi-faceted website with great tips to streamlining life.

    Why I can't live without it: Her slow cooker recipes are gluten-free and affordable, tested, and true. The recipes are easy to follow and don't include a zillion ingredients I can't find at my local stores. I use my slow cookers at least three or four times a week. Now, during NaNoWriMo, I've used it almost every day this month so far. In my Crock Pot right now: Creamy Beef.
  2. Birchbox. I've been a loyal subscriber to Birchbox's montly delivery for several years, and I have never, not once, been disappointed with the contents of my box. Each month, I get five or six sample-sized premium beauty and lifestyle products. These are not tiny magazine-insert samples. They are frequently enough for multiple applications, and several times a year, they're full sized samples. Some of my favorites to receive are full-sized eye liners, fancy shampoos, and nail polish.

    Why I can't live without it: For $10 a month, I get almost all the beauty products I need. I get to try new things every month. The latest polish colors, the newest hair serum technology, the trendiest lipsticks, high-end perfumes. They all arrive neatly packaged in girly pink paper. It's like Christmas every month. Also, taking super speedy surveys on the items I receive gets me free points to spend in the Birchbox shop. The points program is very generous. Points add up fast.
  3. My Keurig brewing system. I bought it during holiday sales last year for about 1/3 the retail price. There are many models. I bought the simple, no frills Mini, and I love it. I use it daily. I like the variety of the k-cups, but I also keep a reuseable k-cup for economical brewing.

    Why I can't live without it: I lack the ability to make a decent cup of coffee in a regular coffee maker without wasting three other cups. I always end up brewing four cups and drinking only one. Any less than four, and the coffee doesn't taste right. With my Keurig, I can brew just one cup, just what I need. PS Their online store sends out great ecoupons. It's a good place to stock up on k-cups!
  4. threadUP. It's an online consignment shop. I know I'm a rare breed, but I can't stand going shopping. I'm all for shopping from home. And I'm all for consignment shops. threadUP is both. You can also sell them your gently used clothing. Score!

    Why I can't live without it: threadUP combines two awesome shopping strategies: Buying second-hand, which saves cash, and shopping online, which saves gas (more cash) and sanity (well, therapy isn't free either, so there you go, more cash savings).
  5. Pinterest. Stay with me here. A lot of people see Pinterest as a timesuck. Not me. It is my one, yes one, organizing station. I pin all my meal plans, recipes, craft plans, party ideas, home decor ideas, things to do at our next duty station, holiday ideas, and more. I also keep track of those Pinterest ideas that fail hardcore, and which ones we loved as a family (so we can come back for seconds).

    Why I can't live without it: Because without Pinterest, I would be less productive. I need visual reminders of things I plan to do. Pinterest is great for that.
What can't you live without?

Montag, 11. November 2013

Self-Imposed Busyness

I have been so busy lately I scarcely have time to think, let alone blog. Here I've gone and started this lovely little blog and have been just about ignoring it ever since. 


I've been busy writing a novel. I'm at 30,000 words exactly, as of last night. It's consuming my month. Last night snuck up on me, and I realized at bedtime that I was without a weekly menu plan. And when you're spending three to five hours a day writing, plus homeschooling, plus trying to maintain a home and three relationships, a menu plan is pretty much a requirement, don't you think? Oh, what, you wouldn't know? You think I'm insane? Yeah, you're likely spot-on there. 

Still, it's fun! I'm writing the story about two strangers who come together to change their destinies, and to awaken the world to some pretty awful things happening behind everyone's backs. It's really a metaphor to reality, but that's not how I intended it to come across. 

Actually, to be honest, if there's one thing I've learned writing this novel so far, it's that the novel is writing itself, and rewriting me. The words that come out of my fingertips often surprise me, as though they didn't really come out of my own mind, but out of the minds of characters I'm still getting to know. 

So please have patience with me, as I learn to fit this new part of me, the writer part, into my delicately balanced existance. I love writing, and NaNoWriMo has awakened the beast. I don't intend to stop on November 30th. I don't intend to stop ever. I have to find a way to fit writing into my daily life, and I think three hours a day is a good amount of time to do it. I just have to learn to schedule myself. Not a strong suit with me. 

Oh, also, I'm writing a U.S. History curriculum for my fifth grader, because nothing on the market is quite right for her. That is a lot of work. We're going to focus the first half of 2014 on U.S. History from Roanoke until just before World War I. It's a lot of ground to cover in six months, but I'm putting books, movies, video clips, hands-on activities, and more together to make it work. 

I'm in the middle of several crafts. 

And I've got a move that spans two continents coming this summer. 

And I've got this blog. :)

Without further adeu, my menu for the week:

Breakfast: Egg White Bites
Lunch:Fried (brown) rice with vegetables
Dinner: Black Bean Soup in the slow cooker (throw a bag of black beans in the crock pot and soak overnight. drain, return to crock, add a diced onion, a diced bell pepper and some vegetable broth, cook all day, puree half of the soup. top with green onion, sour cream, and/or cheese. easy!)

Breakfast: Cinnamon-Raisin Quinoa Breakfast
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Slow Cooker Creamy Beef over Rice & oven-roasted Brussels Sprouts

Breakfast: Egg White Bites
Lunch: (out)
Dinner: Mexican Quinoa and Black Beans

Breakfast: Apple Pie Bites
Lunch: (out)
Dinner: Chicken from the food truck and Greek salad

Breakfast: Paleo Sweet Potato Hash & Eggs
Lunch: Refried Bean Soup
Dinner: Crock Pot Creamy Italian Chicken Tomato Soup

Breakfast: Almond Flour Yogurt Waffles
Lunch: Stuffed Mexican Sweet Potatoes
Dinner: Pork and Green Chili Stew

Breakfast: Yogurt with fruit and Paleo Pumpkin Granola
Lunch: Paleo Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
Dinner: Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

Snacks throughout the week

Baked Herb Veggie Quinoa Bites
Coconut Cinnamon Apples
Zucchini Chips

Sweet Treat to End the Week

Gluten-Free Nutella Brownies (omg!!)

As you can see, I'm relying heavily on my slow cookers. I can't imagine getting through this month without them. Which reminds me: Thanksgiving is coming up, too. I have to do that shopping this week. Sigh. 

PS Any recommendations on alleviating screen-related headaches? 

this post is linked to the following: 

menu plan monday
manic monday

Dienstag, 5. November 2013

What's Cookin' at My House

I'm so busy this month, with NaNoWriMo taking up a lot of my time, plus all of my normal day-to-day stuff, that I need to rely on my slow cookers and other kitchen gadgets to make my days easier. This week's menu is heavy on grab-and-go items, leftovers, and slow cooker recipe. I don't know what I'd do without my three Crock Pots. Honestly. 

I'm at 10,008 words out of 50,000 required to win NaNoWriMo, byt the way. Anyone else writing a novel this month? I'd love to link up with NaNo Buddies!

Here's our menu for the week:


Grab & Go Egg White Bites
Egg & Avocado Toast (tried and true)
Oats with berries and honey
Greek yogurt with fresh fruit
Cereal (Gluten-free) with almond milk and berries


 Tuna (homeschooled, fifth grade) & I eat lunch at home. Bay (public schooled, ninth grade) & Hubs take lunch boxes to school & work. Listed are just weekend lunches and lunch items I make to last the week for Tuna & me. 

Greek Salad
Sandwiches with lots of fresh veggies


Monday: Tuscan Chicken Soup (tried and true) and crusty, gluten-free bread

Tuesday: Creamy Beef (tried and true) over rice, with salad

Wednesday: "Candy" Chicken, (tried and true) rice, and steamed veggies

Thursday: Buy a rotisserie chicken from the chicken truck, salad, and crusty bread

Friday: frozen meals

Saturday: BBQ Beef & Bean Sandwiches, (tried and true) fries, and sliced fresh veggies

Sunday: Pumpkin Black Bean Soup with Sausage (new recipe)

This post is linked to Manic MondayMenu Plan Monday, Manic Monday