October 10, 2016

Happy Homemaker Monday Oct. 10 2016

Wow, am I inconsistent with blogging lately. Well, for the past five years or so... So many big things are happening in my life right now, and yet the daily stuff is slowing down. It is a beautiful time to be living in New England now that the leaves are changing and the air is getting cooler. I love this time of year! Have already made some pumpkin bread because, what a smell in my kitchen besides its deliciousness. So I am grateful that Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom is still hosting Happy Homemaker Monday to continue to inspire all of us!

The weather is cooling off. The rain and wind we had this weekend brought cooler but welcome temperatures (58 today). Today is sunny and beautiful! We have been fortunate to have not been in the path of Hurricane Matthew. We do know people who have been affected here in the states and pray for those in Haiti who are suffering the loss of family and property.

On the breakfast plate was a gala apple, fresh this season and delicious! Also some cashews. Yum.

As I look out my window the leaves are just beginning to change to yellow. Our backyard is a wall of trees and therefore magnificent color six months out of the year.

Right now I am feeling so grateful for my blessings. Today didn't turn out like I had planned, I was going to clean my bedroom and upstairs bathrooms and instead spent all day on the computer. I know that sounds awful, but I spent it reading some really inspiring words and stories and having a very uplifting conversation with my nephew. In this case, it was time well spent. There is always tomorrow to clean the upstairs.

As I look around the house there are a few things to clean off of my kitchen counters, but I got the house pretty clean last week, so it is not yet at disaster level!

On the to do list:
Monday:  clean one bathroom? read scripture, make dinner
Tuesday: clean bathrooms, bedroom, make dinner, correspond with my missionary daughter
Wednesday: clean downstairs bathrooms, youth group
Thursday:  vacuum, dinner out with my boys, menu plan and make grocery list
Friday: grocery shopping, dinner, movie at home with my husband
Saturday: I have a very special day planned to go to our temple in Boston

Currently reading I haven't been consistent with reading lately

On the menu just scroll down to the next post for my menu!

Favorite photo of my youngest standing in front of our temple. He will be leaving in December to serve a mission in Cambodia - five months before my daughter comes home from New Caledonia. They bring so much joy to my heart!


“We should not assume … that just because something is unexplainable by us it is unexplainable.”

M. Russell Ballard quoting Neal A Maxwell in regards to trusting God 

I hope you have a great week!

October Monthly Menu 2016

08  Sat  Easy rice and beans
09  Sun  Pot Roast, mashed potatoes, green beans
10  Mon  Tortellinis with zucchini, homemade sauce
11  Tue  Tacos, corn, refried beans
12  Wed  Fend for yourself
13  Thu  something fun with kids
14  Fri  pork tenderloin, mashed sweet potatoes, peas

September 12, 2016

Monthly Menu September 2016

I was looking back at prior September menus (some were very small!) and now I am reflecting on how much our family life has changed. September was the start of tons of activities along with school and the crazy schedules between sports, scouts, seminary, and school. 

Not anymore. One sone is working full time, has a girlfriend, and is hardly ever home. My daughter is living in New Caledonia serving a mission for our church and won't be home until May or June of next year. Then she will be going away to college again in the fall. My next oldest son is away at college, he isn't far away so he breezes in and out, but usually when we are all busy with other things so we don't see him much either. And my baby, my youngest son has graduated high school and is working and trying to keep himself busy with friends (and Netflix...) until he leaves for a mission. We don't know where or when yet, but we should be finding out by tomorrow!

Anyway, life is getting simpler at the day-by-day level. There are some big things happening, but dinner is usually at home with more frequent trips to a local restaurant and less fast food (except for Chinese...). I appreciate the slower pace, but the changes are bittersweet until I get used to my new life.

12  Mon  turkey, gravy, egg noodles, peas and corn
13  Tue  steak from freezer, yams, asparagus
14  Wed  
15  Thu  pasta, salad
16  Fri  Missionary dinner: hot dogs, hamburgers, macaroni salad, corn on the cob
17  Sat  dinner out
18  Sun  chicken taco soup
19  Mon  pork tenderloin, mashed sweet potatoes, green beans, apple cider
20  Tue  chicken soup, rolls
21  Wed  fast food
22  Thu  pasta, salad
23  Fri  dinner with the ladies?
24  Sat fasting
25  Sun  pot roast, mashed potatoes, carrots

August 15, 2016

Happy Homemaker Monday August 15 2016

Good morning! Thank you, Sandra, for continuing to host your Happy Homemaker Monday event. I love the opportunity to reflect on my life as a mom and homemaker and share it with others. The times that I forget, I am tempted to post on another day of the week and link up ;)

The weather Just a couple of weeks ago I decided that August was my favorite summer month because it tended to be cooler and less humid than July. Then it got hot and humid on me! Today's high is 88 degrees. At least the humidity is down to 58%. It looks like we have a hot week and then next week we'll have cooler temperatures. I hope their predictions are accurate!

Right now I am sitting at my kitchen table, as usual. I consider it my desk, lol. I have my two kindles and phone beside me, as well as my grocery list and paperwork that needs to be filed downstairs.

Thinking about the adjustments in my life at this time. My kids are all out of school. My oldest is working, my daughter is on a mission, my youngest son is preparing to go on a mission, so he is putting college on hold, and my foster son is currently in Marine recruit training and then will be attending college. My kids are adults and making adult decisions. Up until now, every year at this time we were in school preparation mode. Clothes shopping, school supply shopping. I love school supplies. I love brand new notebooks and planners - clean slates waiting for your life to be written. I am in heaven in any kitchen store, office supply store, or book store. I don't care about clothes, jewelry (all I ever wear is my wedding ring), or makeup. Now I get a pang of sadness every time I go by the school supplies at Walmart. I do not even have to shop for seminary anymore. My kids are out of school (for now) and I am no longer teaching. Now I have to find my new normal. The one nice thing is that I am saving money!

On my reading pile Currently reading A Man Called Ove (reminds me of my husband, lol) and Go Forward With Faith: the biography of Gordon B Hinckley. And the New Testament (currently in Hebrews!).

On my tv Still re-watching Friday Night Lights with my husband.

On the menu Tonight we are having a farewell dinner for one of our missionaries who will be going home in a couple of weeks. So we are having four missionaries, three of my former seminary students, and another young man from our church for pasta and ice cream sundaes. This is my happy place!

Monday - Penne with 25 year sauce, salad, bread, ice cream sundaes
Tuesday - grilled chicken, salad, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes
Wednesday - fend for yourself (which usually means Chinese food, but salad for me)
Thursday - grilled swordfish, rice, green beans
Friday - ??? maybe hot dogs and macaroni salad
Saturday - dinner out for my MIL's birthday
Sunday - pork roast with gravy, egg noodles, peas and carrots

On my to do list
Today - pick up kitchen area, vacuum (have my son home to do this), grocery shop, cook, two loads laundry

Tuesday - clean bathrooms, laundry
Wednesday - clean basement, laundry
Thursday - continue basement cleaning (includes purging), laundry
Friday - laundry, take it easy!

Looking forward to my daughter's email, my son's letter (always these two!), reading, weighing myself and seeing the the scale go down.

Looking around the house There is definitely some cleaning up that needs to take place. My son was in the play Our Town last spring. They took these old fashioned photos and made poster size prints of them and hung them in the theater. We were given some to take home, and they have been sitting on my dining room table since! We still don't know what to do with them. He doesn't want to hang them in his room. (They are pictures of his "wedding" and his "family". I really don't want to hang them in our family room. There would be too much explaining to to!

From the camera My daughter and her new missionary companion


Have a great week!

August 2, 2016

25 Year Tomato Sauce

Why didn't I snap a picture?! I am calling it 25 year because I've been married for almost 25 years and therefore cooking for almost 25 years and it has taken me until this day to make a sauce that's good enough for me to think THIS IS IT! I will still make meat sauce from time to time, and my aunt's pasta sauce with meatballs is to die for, but it takes all day, so this is now my go-to sauce, now I can stop buying jarred sauce!

To give credit where credit is due, I started with Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce, which I have made a couple of times and was really, really good. But when I went to make it a third time, I decided to add some stuff. I live in the northeast, surrounded by people with Italian heritage, and people around here, whether of Italian heritage or not, HAVE THEIR OPINIONS ABOUT TOMATO SAUCE. So I am not claiming that this will be everyone's favorite, but it is MY favorite, and my family loved it. (Can't wait to try it on my extended family to see what they think.)

I love the taste of tomato paste. I think it deepens the flavor of the tomatoes and makes the taste less sharp. I didn't have an onion, so I used onion powder, next time I may use an onion; I don't think that is a deal breaker on the sauce. Lastly, I did not have anymore San Marzano tomatoes, which are $4/can around here! I used organic canned tomatoes and tomato paste from my local warehouse store and it was still delicious.

So here it is (this made more than enough for a pound of pasta).

1 (28 oz) can tomatoes
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
7 Tbs butter  Yes, that is right, you may be able to cut back a bit, but the butter makes this amazing.
 2 - 3 tsp Italian seasoning
@ 1 tsp salt
@ 1 tsp sugar
@ 1 tsp onion powder or chopped onion or a whole onion removed, whatever floats your boat

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil on medium heat, then turn down to a simmer for about one hour, partially covering pot to cut down on splatters. Stir frequently, breaking up the large tomatoes with a spoon as you stir. You can always blend the tomatoes before putting them in the pot if you don't want to have to break them up while stirring, just make sure stir anyway. I included the diced tomatoes because I like the little bit of substance they contribute to the sauce.

Since I am trying to lose weight, I bought a vegetable spiral cutter and had my sauce over spiral cut zucchini. Yum! I really didn't miss the pasta because the sauce was so good. And no mozzarella cheese like the rest of my family had.

By the way, I lost nine pounds in my first week and yes, a lot of that is water, but I have edema so losing water is a very good thing! It's still nine pounds that I am no longer carrying around!

August 1, 2016

Happy Homemaker Monday August 1 2016

Good morning everyone! Oops, it's almost noon here. If you have commented on my blog and I have not responded, please forgive me. I rarely get comments and stopped getting notification for them because of spammers, so I hadn't even noticed the comments that were left. But THANK YOU for stopping by and leaving a comment. I will try to be better about checking and responding! Thank you to Sandra at Diary of a Stay At Home Mom for hosting Happy Homemaker Monday. Stop by and see her!

The weather is beautiful! We finally had a good rain last night, which we desperately needed, and today is is cool (74 degrees) and comfortable. We are due for some more rain over the next couple of days, but I am not complaining, we still need more. The rest of the week will have lower temperatures - in the low eighties. I love August!

On my reading pile (Kindle) I am still reading the New Testament this summer, currently on 2 Corinthians. Does anyone else struggle with the epistles of Paul? Oh, I tell you, he gets my head spinning in circles, but I am always able to pull out a nugget or two of wisdom, so I keep reading. Still working on the biography of Thomas S. Monson too. In between I snuck in The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. I started reading it a few years ago and got about halfway through, this time I read the whole thing and really liked it. He is very thorough and it was interesting. Now I need to find another book to read.

ON my tv Still re-watching Friday Night Lights with my husband. That's it. 

On the menu: I haven't updated my monthly menu so I will share it here. I have finally been able to lose some weight and want to keep going. My strategy is first, to take it to the Lord and prayerfully ponder what is best for me. This is what I have been led to so far:

Breakfast: usually a big bowl of fruit with almonds, eggs with veggies a couple of times per week, sometimes a little cereal with lots of fruit

Lunch: usually a salad with some protein, occasionally rice and veggies or a sandwich on whole grain bread, fruit.

Snack: two dark chocolate granola bars

Dinner: a big salad with a little of what I make for my family

Monday: pasta with homemade sauce, salad, garlic bread
Tuesday: Taco Tuesday! Ground beef tacos, taco soup, corn on the cob (we are feeding a crowd)
Wednesday: fend for yourselves, I'm having a salad! (I have youth group at church)
Thursday: grilled chicken, zucchini, rice-a-roni
Friday: maybe grilled fish...that's as far as I've gotten.

Basically, I am trying to listen to my body and pay attention to how I feel after eating and stick with the foods that give me energy. After a day or two of a lot of salad, I am ready for a sandwich or something a little more substantial, and it's okay. It seems to be working so far. Will have to tweak as I go. I am trying to avoid white flour and sugar. Have not given them up completely, but am working on it, and the cravings haven't been bad, so I am happy and GRATEFUL.

On my to-do list: washing sheets today, clean and vacuum uncarpeted area of the main floor (kitchen, bathroom, mudroom, foyer).

Looking around the house: my youngest (17) son is off from work and it looks like he is making a quesadilla (he makes really good quesadillas). The cat and dog are both outside. My husband and oldest son (22) are working, my 20 year old daughter is sleeping because it is 3:33 am in New Caledonia right now, and my 19 year old son is recruit training for the US Marines. Actually, he may be getting his wisdom teeth out right now, poor thing.

From the camera: breakfast


I hope your week is full of love!

July 18, 2016

Happy Homemaker Monday July 18 2016

Welcome Monday! I am feeling the love today because I have been having problems with my knee and it is finally feeling better and I can get things done! Haven't been feeling the happy homemaker while it's been hard to move around. Thanks to Sandra at Diary of a Stay At Home Mom for hosting! Go see her for more HHM posts!

The weather is a bit uncomfortable, but that is typical for July around here. Right now it's about 90 degrees, but the air is heavy (pressure?) and we are due to get some severe thunderstorms this afternoon (which I admit, I absolutely love - as long as we don't lose power, lol). My son who works outside is off today so I don't have to worry about him for which I am grateful.

On My Reading Pile (which is mostly on my Kindle) are tons of unread books, lol. I have a goal to read the New Testament over the summer and am on schedule! Today I finish Acts. I am also reading To The Rescue, a biography of Thomas S Monson, and I once again started Anna Karenina but haven't touched it in awhile.

On My TV we are rewatching Friday Night Lights but that's about it. I need a good series to watch on my kindle at night when I can't go to sleep, which is often in the summer.

On the Menu tonight is pasta with meat sauce I had in the freezer and salad. The rest of the week will be mostly grilling and salad, with a baked potato thrown in here and there. It's too hot to do anything else.

On My To Do List I have my whites soaking in Oxyclean in my washer, so I will have to finish them tonight. Clean up the kitchen and vacuum, make a grocery list, do some bookkeeping, and watch the thunderstorms and make dinner. Oh, and videotape our family singing happy birthday to my daughter and load it on YouTube (will explain below).

What I am Creating What I NEED to create is a big pile of donations or garbage. Need to continue purging my house to simplify my life!

Looking Around the House for the most part the stuff that is out is manageable, but it desperately needs to be dusted and vacuumed. 

From the Camera I am going to cheat a little here - this picture was not taken by me but sent to me from my daughter, who is serving a mission in New Caledonia in the South Pacific. It's also a few weeks old, but I wanted to share one that showed the beauty of the island. We communicate via email, and today is her birthday, so I can send her the youtube link of our singing to her, thus why I need to create the video.

On my prayer list the world. My missionary daughter, my son who is in Marine recruit training this summer, my husband - his work is very stressful right now.

Inspiration a friend shared this on Facebook and it really hit home.

I hope your week is full of the things you really need, including joy!