Monday, January 24, 2011

New Recipe - Week 4: Layered Cheesy Salsa Enchiladas

I made Layerd Cheesy Salsa Enchiladas from Heavenly Homemakers at the end of a crazy-busy Saturday this weekend. They were fast, easy and tasty. Two big and 3 1/2 small thumbs up - good review! Totally Aldi-friendly and inexpensive. And did I mention fast?
Just a few notes:

  • The 9x13 pan the recipe called for was just way too big - I used a 7x11 Pyrex I have.

  • The original recipe says it makes 6 - 8 servings. Just barely, and four of us are on the small side. Next time, I'll double it and heat any leftovers for lunches.

  • I might even make two and freeze one! Always looking for good recipes to freeze!

Simple Woman's Daybook - January 24th

Outside my window... cold, grey, damp.

I am thinking... through plans for some upcoming events here, including Rachel's Gotcha Day party and Abbie's birthday party.

I am thankful for... the wonderful, lifelong friends we made each time we traveled to China to adopt.

I am wearing... old jeans, bulky socks, navy turtleneck, LL Bean fishermen's sweater

I am going... to have to start making more lists so things don't fall through the cracks.

I am creating... a list of dinner ideas, since I always draw a blank when it comes time to plan my weekly menu.

I am currently reading... The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis.

I am hoping... that we all continue to stay healthy this winter. So far, so good...

I am hearing... total silence. David had a meltdown on the living room floor and cried and fussed himself to sleep!

In the kitchen... chaos. Dishwasher full of clean dishes, sink full of dirty ones, bags of groceries everywhere, waiting to be put away, remnants of the Sunday Tribune, tiny paper scraps from a school project, magnetic refrigerator letters... You get the idea!

Around the house... laundry, toys, projects piling up everywhere. I really need to stay home and get more done!

One of my favorite things... how David runs to me with a huge smile and hug when I pick him up from school.

A few plans for the rest of the week... morning visit with a friend, Tupperware party Thursday night, David's China group here on Saturday.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing...

(David's first taste of lobster; Maine, November 2010)

Friday, January 21, 2011

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. Hosted by Soulemama.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Winters in northern Illinois are long. And cold. And dark. The stretch between Christmas and Spring Break can seem endless. And yet, I try to take a moment now and then to appreciate the beauty right outside my window...

David Goes To School

David turned 3 in November and "aged out" of the Early Intervention program, which was providing speech therapy for him. He qualified for the Early Childhood program at our elementary school. I was happy to hear that he would be getting services from such a qualified, caring team, but was apprehensive about sending him off to school four mornings a week. It seemed like a lot for such a little guy.

I needn't have worried. He loves school, loves his teachers, is making great friendships, learning how to work and play with other children, learning to follow directions. Best of all, after just a few weeks, we are seeing (hearing) a marked improvement in his speech. It's so great to hear what he's thinking!

So, David had his very own First Day of School. He insisted on wearing "stripes!", so I found him a handsome shirt for his special day. He loves wearing "Daddy shirts" (undershirts like Daddy's) under his special clothes. And he had a brand new red backpack from LL Bean that, even though it is "Junior sized", is still almost as big as he is!

"Don't I look handsome!"

"And check out my great new backpack!"

"Here we are at school!"

"What a great day!"

"I'm gonna have so much fun in school!"

"OK, teachers, I'm ready to come in now!"

"Pleeeeeeease let me in..."

"Off I go with Miss Kim!"

"Better wave 'Goodbye' to my poor Mama as she stands there crying behind her camera..."

Every afternoon during his first week of school, David fell asleep on the couch wearing his backpack!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Recipe - Week 3: Potato Bacon Chowder

I can't believe it - we have another winner!

For some reason, I got it in my head that I wanted to make some sort of hearty "chowder" for these cold winter nights. I started cruising around and stumbled upon this recipe for Potato Bacon Chowder. It fit all my criteria: Aldi-friendly, inexpensive, quick to make. Tonight was the perfect night to fix it as the temperature is already down to 13 degrees outside, and it's not even 7:00 yet. Brrrrrrr.

Al is on his way home from St. Louis tonight, so he didn't get to try it, but it got a big thumbs up from me and 3 little thumbs up. Rachel is not a fan of potatoes, so she didn't give it a thumbs up, but she "didn't totally hate it", and did eat a pretty full serving. The children sprinkled shredded sharp cheddar cheese on it because, as we all know, life is just better with cheese!

With second helpings, we scraped the pot clean, and Al wasn't even here to eat any. Next time, I will make a double recipe so we can all have as much as we want, and the girls can take some to school in their Thermoses for lunch.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window... still very dark and very cold.

I am thinking... of how many "crafty" projects the kids have due at school in the next couple of weeks and how many trips to Michael's it's going to take to get them done.

I am thankful for... this three-day weekend and time with friends today.

I am wearing... Green Bay Packers flannel plaid pants (Al bought them for me many years ago in a moment of great selflessness), grey long-sleeve tee shirt

I am going... to a Tupperware party and am unusually excited at the prospect of not only meeting some new local moms, but also about new containers.

I am creating... a little gift for a friend.

I am currently reading... Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn

I am hoping... to finally get my desk cleaned up this week!

I am hearing... the early morning silence before kids begin to wake up. And Charlotte is puttering around in her cage.

In the kitchen... Magic Cookie Bars and homemade mac and cheese for lunch with a friend from Rachel's China group.

Around the house... a liiiiiiiitle less stuff as I continue my New Year's goal to purge and organize.

One of my favorite things... early-morning knitting while drinking my coffee and watching the early news.

A few plans for the rest of the week... Al's birthday Friday, working with kids on their projects for school (EC winter banner, 3rd grade author biography, Girl Scout dream bedroom plans), more cleaning/organizing, a Chinese New Year program on Friday, a haircut for me on Saturday, a preschool music program with David on Saturday.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing...

(Christmas jammies - Christmas Eve 2010)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Recipe - Week 2: Crockpot Cowboy Stew

My friend Jamie (Annie's mom from David's China group) and I frequently share meal and recipe ideas with each other. The other night, she mentioned Crockpot Cowboy Stew, found on the blog A Year of Slow Cooking. I checked out the recipe and it looked like it might be a winner with my family, so I gave it a try Tuesday night.

The stew was very quick and easy to prepare - just some browning ground beef and a lot of opening cans (and we desperately need a new can opener!). The recipe is 100% Aldi-friendly. I did end up substituting a can of regular baked beans for the ranch-style beans, as Jamie had said she'd looked everywhere and had never seen them. I don't think it affected the stew at all. The Rotel gave it just a little kick - we skipped the jalapenos!

This dish got two big and three small thumbs up. I was correct in predicting that Rachel wouldn't like it as she does not care for tomatoes. But she was a good sport, ate a small helping, and looked forward to the chicken pot pie I had scheduled for the next night!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window... pale sunrise, streak-y clouds, bitter cold.

I am thinking... I'm not quite ready to jump into another busy week - I enjoyed our quiet weekend.

I am thankful for... Al being home this past week to help me out while I recover from a crazy laundry-related back injury.

I am wearing... coffee cup print flannel pajama pants, black long-sleeve tee shirt, grey fleece cardigan, LL Bean ragg wool socks (belonged to my Dad), LL Bean Wicked Good clog slippers - the height of Mommy Morning Fashion!

I am going... to stop "going" so much and stay home more!

I am creating... a stack of new knitted dishcloths for me (I always end up gifting the ones I make).

I am currently reading... Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne.

I am hoping... that the children continue to stay healthy in the midst of all the germs that surround them.

I am hearing... my girls slowly, quietly getting ready for school.

In the kitchen... searching cookbooks and websites for new recipes to try for the family.

Around the house... Christmas nearly all put away, just lots of bins for Al to drag to the basement for me.

One of my favorite things... the quiet, late-night sewing I did last night while watching a favorite movie, "Field of Dreams".

A few plans for the rest of the week... Rachel's spelling bee on Thursday, a date night with Hannah on Friday, general cleaning and organizing around the house.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing...
(Found on my old memory stick as I was setting up my new computer. Taken Fall 2004, just before traveling to adopt Abbie. Hannah is 5, Rachel is 2.)

New Recipe - Week 1: Playgroup Granola Bars

Like many busy moms, I don't make New Year's resolutions. Instead, I try to set attainable goals. One of the top goals on my list is to come up with some new recipes for my family. I think that, with a little planning, one new recipe a week should be manageable.

Note: In addition to revealing how many "thumbs up" a recipe gets, I will also let my thrifty, Aldi-shopping friends know if it is an "Aldi-friendly recipe" - that is, can all ingredients be purchased from Aldi's regular stock. For those of you who are not familiar with Aldi, it is a chain of small, discount grocery stores. Basic foods and staples at really great, low prices. In my effort to simplify life, I try to do all my weekly shopping at this one store, with maybe a once-a-month trip to either Woodman's or Jewel for more unique ingredients.

So here's our first new recipe of the year...

I found the link for this recipe for
Playgroup Granola Bars on the Simplicity Parenting blog (more on them in the future). I like baking treats for the kids, and this one sounded healthy and tasty - a winning combo! When I mentioned to the girls I would be making them and that they contained raisins, I heard a lot of groaning. Not everyone likes raisins baked into their food, myself included. I decided that, instead of scrapping the whole idea, I'd just substitute mini chocolate chips for the raisins. Maybe not quite as healthy, but still better than the bars in a box. They were a hit!

This recipe received two big and four little thumbs up - a sweep! This was not an Aldi-friendly recipe because of the mini chocolate chips and the wheat germ, but those are things I can easily keep on hand. They were fairly quick and easy to make and well worth the effort!

And We're Back!

Yes, it's been a while, hasn't it? Well, my laptop was doing scary things, threatening to die on me at any moment, and the kids' computer was crazy slow, so blogging had to, once again, take a back seat. I now have a lovely, powerful desktop and am ready to roll again! I have hundreds of photos to download from my camera and lots of stories to tell of the last couple of months, so this may take a while! Here's hoping the entertainment value will make the long wait worth it!