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!

May 7, 2016

Monthly Menu May 2016

01 Sun:  Hubby's birthday  The Juiciest, Most Tender Chicken I Have Ever Had, buttered noodles,                     peas, steamed brussel sprouts. *note* use about half the salt next time
02  Mon: 
03  Tue:  
04  Wed:
05  Thu:
06  Fri: dinner out with hubby
07  Sat:  pizza with the boys
08  Sun:  hamburgers, macaroni salad, watermelon/fruit
09  Mon: Missionary dinner: pasta with meat sauce, salad, bread
10  Tue:  bring J to WestConn: slow cooked pork roast, egg noodles, mixed veggies
11  Wed:  youth group: veggies, beans, & rice
12  Thu:  kielbasa, homemade baked beans, coleslaw
13  Fri:  Father/Son campout: whatever
14  Sat:  grilled steak/chicken broccoli, baked potatoes
15  Sun:  breakfast: blueberry pancakes, eggs, bacon, turkey sausage
16  Mon: pasta with lentil sauce, salad
17  Tue: chicken tacos, rice, corn
18  Wed: quesadillas, rice and beans
19  Thu: pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes, broccoli
20  Fri:  Upperclassmen Showcase: leftovers
21  Sat:  burgers out
22  Sun: grilled chicken, salad, rice
23  Mon: Missionary dinner: hot dogs, potato salad, beans
24  Tue:  grilled salmon, rice, green beans
25  Wed:  leftovers/fend for yourself
26  Thu:  
27  Fri:
28  Sat:
29  Sun:
30  Mon:
31  Tue: 

March 19, 2016

Monthly Menu March 2016

20  Sun  corned beef and cabbage
21  Mon  pasta
22  Tue  pork, egg noodles, broccoli
23  Wed fend for yourself
24  Thu  from the freezer; chicken, rice, veggies

February 29, 2016

Monthly Menu February 2016

01  Mon  chicken and rice, cauliflower
02  Tue  Pasta:missionary dinner: pasta with turkey sausage, salad, bread
03  Wed  Quick:sandwiches, tomato soup  leftovers
04  Thu  leftovers
05  Fri  hot turkey sandwiches, peas, broccoli
06  Sat  
07  Sun
08  Mon
09  Tue
10  Wed
11  Thu
12  Fri
13  Sat  Split Pea and Ham soup, biscuits
14  Sun  Valentine's Day: pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans
15  Mon  taco dip with chips, corn, broccoli salad
16  Tue  pasta: no leftover baked ziti, salad
17  Wed  fend for yourself (rice and beans for hubby and I)
18  Thu  chicken soup, rolls
19  Fri  Vegetarian:Kitchen Sink Quesadillas, cheesy rice, broccoli salad
20  Sat  Temple trip: dinner out
21  Sun  pork roast, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas
22  Mon  pasta, slow cooker sauce, salad
23  Tue  rice, freezer leftovers, green beans
24  Wed  fend for yourself
25  Thu  Vegetarian Bean Soup, grilled cheese/quesadillas
26  Fri
27  Sat
28  Sun
29  Mon

January 31, 2016

Monthly Menu January 2016

01  Fri  
02  Sat  Salmon, scalloped potatoes, salad
03  Sun  baked stuffed shells, salad, bread
04  Mon  
05  Tue
06  Wed  
07  Thu  
08  Fri  
09  Sat  Hoppin John, rice
10  Sun  Pot roast, mashed potatoes, peas
11  Mon  Creamy Chicken soup, rolls
12  Tue  Lifeskills Graduation dinner
13  Wed  Grilled cheese, tomato soup
14  Thu  Tacos, corn, cheesy rice
15  Fri  Senor Panchos
16  Sat  Chili, rice, broccoli salad
17  Sun  lasagna, salad
18  Mon fried chicken (KFC), mashed potatoes, corn
19  Tue  Missionary dinner? Tomato Baked Chicken, pasta, salad, bread
20  Wed Youth Night:  Cheesy Vegetable Soup, roast beef sandwiches
21  Thu
22  Fri
23  Sat
24  Sun  hot turkey sandwiches, veggies
25  Mon  pasta
26  Tue  Pantry Taco Soup, quesadillas, broccoli salad
27  Wed  fast food
28  Thu  Turkey Barley Vegetable Soup, rolls
29  Fri  pork roast, mashed potatoes, green beans
30  Sat  veggie pizza
31  Sun  Beef Stew, rolls

January 30, 2016

Turkey Vegetable Soup

I don't think this is the most appetizing photo - the colors are washed out - but this was really, really GOOD. And everyone liked it (although my youngest picked out the spinach until I made him try it). The recipe comes from RealSimple.com (their photo looks better). I doubled it and increased the veggies even more. Must have with rolls to fill out the dinner.

1 T olive oil
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 large white onion, chopped
4 carrots, sliced
4 celery stalks, chopped
12 C chicken broth
1 C pearl barley or rice
salt and pepper
6 C baby spinach

brown turkey in oil, remove from pot
saute onion, carrot, & celery 3-5 minutes
return turkey to pot, add broth and barley/rice
bring to boil and then simmer until starch is cooked (30-40 minutes)
salt and pepper to taste
stir in spinach

January 11, 2016

Creamy Chicken Soup

I make chicken soup a lot. As a matter of fact, it is probably my most used recipe (other than pasta with a jar of Ragu, ahem). But every once in awhile, I change it up and make this recipe. And every time I make it, I wonder why I don't make it more often! Everyone liked it, woot!

This comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Remedies For The "I Don't Cook" Syndrome by Janet Peterson. The only change I made was cutting back on the pepper and garlic powder. The amounts I list here are the amounts that I used.

Hearty Cream of Chicken Soup

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used thighs because that is what I had on hand)
3 celery stalks, chopped
4 carrots, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp sage
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp salt
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (I used cream of chicken)
2 C cooked noodles (I used a whole 12 oz. package)

Place chicken, celery, carrots, onion, herbs, and seasonings in a large soup pot. 
Cover with about 2 quarts water, bring to a boil, then cook over medium-low heat until chicken is tender (1-2 hours). My chicken was frozen so it cooked for 2 hours. I cooked the chicken alone for the first hour, then added the other ingredients so the vegetables wouldn't be too mushy.
Remove chicken and dice, then add back to the pot.
Stir in cream soup, stir until smooth.
Add cooked noodles.

It says it serves 10-12, but it fed the five of us with no leftovers, so I would cut that number in half.

Happy Homemaker Monday January 11 2016

Good morning and happy Monday! I actually like Mondays, believe it or not. I guess I like fresh starts. We have a whole week ahead of us, full of possibilities. And Sandra has put up her Happy Homemaker Monday post, so I think I will start right here!

The weather
is a little cold, but considering it is January, it could be worse. Right now it is 28 degrees and has actually dropped since early this morning. I think today's high is 35. We haven't had any snow yet, but the next two weekends are supposed to be a wintry mix, as they like to call it, of snow, sleet, and freezing rain. Nothing to accumulate but a good reason to stay home with a fire in the fireplace!

Right now I am
laughing at what I wrote above, that I will be starting my day with this post. I have been up for 4 1/2 hours already. I have already taught a scripture study class at my church which is 12.5 miles from my house and brought my son to school. I am watching my other high schooler, who is getting ready to leave the house (he has first period study hall and since he is a senior, he can skip it and go in late). He is such a good kid; I am very blessed.

about New Year resolutions and getting healthier. My sister has gone eleven days without sugar. I think I need to join her. Will let you know if I succeed.

On my reading pile
The Old Testament. We are studying Joshua and getting into Judges this week.

On my tv
Downton Abbey started and we missed the first episode! Hopefully we can get it on Roku still. My son has been watching The Office, so I get sucked into that sometimes.

On the menu
Yesterday we had pot roast, (oh, so good!) cooked in the slow cooker so it was easy. Tonight is creamy chicken soup with rolls, we have a graduation dinner Tuesday (for a class my foster son had to take), and the rest of the week will be grilled cheese sandwiches and soup and tacos. I only have up until Thursday planned so far, but I really want to try Sandra's Portuguese Chicken and Rice that she has planned this week. It sounds delicious! My monthly menu (however incomplete) can be found here.

On my to-do list
Today: clean the upstairs bathrooms, update my bookkeeping, and clean my washing machine.
Tuesday: vacuum main floor, clean litter box, wash towels.
Wednesday: pack up stuff to go in attic, continue organizing basement, wash colors
Thursday: dust, wash whites, menu plan
Friday: grocery shop

Looking around the house
I get frustrated. Our toaster oven went, so the old one is sitting on the kitchen island and the box for the new one is sitting on the floor. There are various things sitting around that need to be put away. The rest of the main floor is in good shape, but the kitchen needs attention. My bedroom and the basement are disasters because we have been in the process of purging and rearranging our storage and I STILL have stuff of my daughters that needs to be packed up and put in the attic.

From the camera
I finally made Hoppin John and there is nothing more beautiful in the food world than chopped peppers and onions there is ham in there too).

Joshua 24:15  "...choose you this day whom ye will serve...but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Have a great week!