Sunday, March 29, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Monday Morning! We’re ready for April but no more showers! It feels like it’s rained for the last month around here. This week baseball season starts for Jared and for the rest of us too. I am NOT a sports fan, unless my kids are playing. I truly enjoy watching them excel in things I could only dream of doing :0). Truly, not an athletic bone in my body, now if there was a competition for reading, tv watching, cookie baking, or blog reading (snort--notice I said reading NOT writing).

Here’s the proposed menu for the Messy Manor this week:

Monday – Hubby’s out of town – Hoagie Night!
Tuesday – Gymnastics and baseball….guess we’re skipping prayer meeting again this week…another sandwich night!
Wednesday – Taco Pockets and first baseball game of season!
Thursday – Crispy Orange Chicken (if I’m feeling bold)
Friday – Pizza …Second ballgame of the season!
Saturday – Children’s Board Meeting--Guests for dinner!
Chicken Strips (my favorite recipe, I’ll post it this week), baked potato and salad bar

For more great meal ideas, go HERE.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Messy Wordless Wednesday

Yum Fudgesicles!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

The kids are out of school for teacher workday so nothing is getting done around here! I 'lost' the oldest for the night, but gained four more, no, wait we're up to five extras and there's another due any moment. So there will be as many as 10 children running around this house...craziness. Thank God it's not raining...

There's a chicken in the crockpot and I'm trying to figure out the snacks for the week. I'd really like to skip my grocery trip this week considering I am WAY, WAY over budget. I couldn't believe it when I logged the numbers in. I spent what? But as usual with a house overflowing with children we're out of almost everything!

So here's what our menu for the week:

Monday - Crockpot Chicken (you'll see this a lot more often, everybody loves it and I scored 8 chicks @ .66/lb--boo-yah!)

Tuesday - This is up in the air...

Wednesday - Pigs in Blanket & Tots!

Thursday - Chicken Casserole (oldest's fave meal)

Friday - Pizza (probably) before hitting the road--our kids ministry is participating in a state wide 'talent showcase' times!

If you'd like to see more great menu plans, check out Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

It's finally looking more like spring in Central Virginia. I hope it stays that way! Have a great week!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Cookie Jar Recipe

Mmm…chocolate and peanut butter cookies, hot and gooey from the oven, a nice cold glass of milk, are you drooling yet? To loosely quote Yo Gabba Gabba this definitely causes a party in my tummy!

This is my favorite basic cookie recipe. “The Cookie Jar Recipe” comes from a state-wide cookbook our church published back in ’96. As you can see from the pic, this recipe has been used and abused many times in my household. So today, Nellie Garrett of Big Stone Gap, Virginia, I salute you! Your cookies totally rock!

1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 c. (2 sticks) butter/margarine
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Variation Ingedients:
½ c. creamy peanut butter
2 c. chocolate chips

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy, add eggs, vanilla, peanut butter. Mix flour, soda and salt, add to butter mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes.

Our other favorite variation is to add ½ c. cocoa powder to the flour mixture and then use 2 cups of peanut butter chips.

Happy Cookie Baking! Check out The Grocery Cart Challenge’s Recipe Swap.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Golf Cart Fun

We have been saving/searching for a golf cart for about a year now, and this weekend we found 'the one.' We set a budget, researched, revised budget, researched, waited, looked, test drove, and finally made the purchase.

The Messes are ecstatic, we've never had anything simliar so its pretty exciting. We're hoping it will help the two older messes in their all-too-quickly-coming journey to becoming licensed drivers. It also will save a lot of wear and tear on the 'burban this summer. We make LOTs of short trips to the bus stop, the grandparents, to take trash, and possibly the most important--my brother-in-law's pool!

So here's a picture of hubby, girls, and niece enjoying the sunny afternoon with a leisurely ride around the yard. I title this "Golf Cart Fun."

Let's fast forward a bit to the boys and their dad taking the cart for a joyride over to the grandparents. Jared is driving with dad right beside him. Josh is on the backseat. Josh (remember he's 13 and his brain doesn't really work) decides to stand up and 'let go.' Hubby said he heard a funny noise,turned around, and Josh is HANGING ON to the golf cart being drug down the dirt road. Did I mention his brain doesn't work?

Now here's a picture of dirt road rash, I title this "Not Golf Cart Fun":

Sigh...boys. He's fine and, yes, we're thankful it wasn't worse, and he now has a new appreciation for sitting down while riding a golf cart.

Lesson learned? Considering he's a 13-year-old boy..I seriously doubt it. He spent the entire night at church bragging about his 'battle scars' and showing everyone, the goofball was so proud.

PS - I definitely am obsessed with blogging, I had to have a pic before we even cleaned him up and he was like 'you're going blog this aren't you?' 'What? Me expose your goofiness to the whole world? Of course I am!'

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday

In my ever-evolving quest to lower my grocery budget, I have begun baking almost all of our snack foods. The easiest and yummiest is definitely cookies! We like ours soft and gooey. The Messes current favorite is a peanut buttery cookie w/ chocolate chips (I’ll try and post that on Friday).

So in order to save my aching and sticky hands I decided I MUST have a cookie scoop. I searched my Target high and low, no cookie scoop! I searched my grocery stores, no cookie scoop! I almost broke down and bought one from Amazon but then I remembered our Tuesday Morning. Do you have one of these near you? Our store has a great selection of kitchen gadgets. I’m thankful I made it out of there for under $20. It was dicey for a while I almost lost control quite a few times. Many items were picked up, thoughtfully considered, and painfully put back on the shelf. I will be back for you lovely Calphalon loaf pans. I dream of perfect loaves of crusty fresh bread. (Why is crusty okay to describe bread but otherwise evokes disgust? Just a thought.)

And there she was. There were several colors but oh turquoise-y beauty, you had me at $4.99.

And so on Monday I scooped out perfect little balls of yummy goodness in no time flat. It took me a few tries to figure out how she liked to be handled, but once I did we made dozens of cookies together and it was beautiful!

So my cookie scoop works for me!

For more great Works for Me Wednesday posts, head over to We Are That Family.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Monday! We had a very fun weekend here at the Messy Manor House. We’ve been saving up for a golf cart and this weekend we found a good deal! The kids are so excited and will be even more so when hubby brings it home today. I’ll try and post some pics this week. Hopefully they won’t be of the damage I inflict on the trees in our driveway. I’m praying I don’t embarrass myself driving around the ‘hood. I ain’t even joking...

So here’s our menu for this week:

Monday – Pork Tenderloin
(still debating between Honey-Hosin recipe and old fashioned roasted w/ veggies)

Tuesday – Leftovers J (gymnastics and baseball practice)

Wednesday – Homemade pizza

Thursday – Lasagna

Friday – Birthday Party/Dinner @ Church Yay!

Here’s the goals for today’s Bake-O-Rama:
Fill up the cookie jar
Rice krispy treats
Granola bars
Refrigerator rolls

Hope you all have a fabulous and blessed week!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I Love Indestructible Dishes

I have a split personality. My brain and pocketbook encourage me in my frugalness however my inner shopaholic screams for me to spend limitlessly. I balance a life of couponing and ‘reduce and reuse’ with strong desires for clothes for my kids and household items of any kind.

We’ve been in our house for almost 16 years now and a lot has changed and even more has stayed the same. Our kitchen had one paint job seven years ago—that’s it. We still eat off the same Corelle dishes we were given when we married--hope you can see below the pizza. Yep... peach and green hearts y’all. Can you say 90s? So my heart’s desire is to redecorate the kitchen and my bedroom (which has not even received a paint job during that time). My budget’s desire is to save to pay cash for a summer beach vacation and a golf cart (l’ll share why we *need* this some other day—we’re not golfers).

So today I spent too much time gazing adoringly at new Corelle patterns. Corelle is almost indestructible, in 17 years I think we’ve lost one bowl and one saucer. Do you know how often my children have ‘tossed’ their plates in the sink? It’s nothing short of a miracle really. Over at Corelle they have a feature called “What’s your Plate-O-Scope”? You choose a plate ‘sign’ and it gives you a description. I picked the red paisley..oh be still my heart! I have a secret passion for red (okay considering the boys’ bathroom walls maybe it’s not a secret). The paisley reminds me of the damask print I’m coveting for my bedroom.

Anyway, my Plate-O-Scope says I am practical (mostly) but a romantic at heart (um, maybe, sometimes). You’re as comfortable in jeans as a crepe skirt (wrong-o, jeans all the way). But the dead-on phrase: You believe Scarlett did end up with Rhett. Oh I so do! I totally heart that movie, it brings back memories of all night movie fests with my best friend in high school. This is odd considering I have a strong aversion to movies that don’t end well. I like them to tie up any loose ends AND give me a happily ever after last scene.

Back to the dishes, I have 3 sets of my country hearts, so a comparative amount of the paisley would be a grand total of $210. Oh be still my heart again but this time not in joy. My Corelle is in excellent shape. It has not faded, it has not chipped, it’s still so wonderfully useable, I bet the stuff could have another 20 years of life in it! Actually I know it would because my mom is still using her 1970’s “Gold Butterfly” set. Even though I believe Corelle is and would be worth every single penny I would spend on it, I’m not buying today.

Today my frugal, beach-loving backside has won! Don’t worry kids, mama isn’t spending your vacation money, not today anyway.

This post is linked to Things I Love Thursday.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What Works For Me Today

What worked for me yesterday? Will it work again today or tomorrow or next year? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But one trick that always, always works for me: going with the flow. Or as I like to say: ‘be fluid.’ One year at church camp the director continually used that phrase--be fluid. And yeah, it is a little gross if you take it there, but I’m NOT taking it there. If you did, shame on you, get back to the point of this post.

In the world of youth camp being fluid could mean many things. If it rained or activities weren’t running on a perfectly tight schedule, we needed to be fluid. We—as staff—needed to be fluid, change, adapt, rework the situation. If a child pooped their pants we were hoping it wasn’t…sorry I said I wouldn’t take it there.

Ahh like to add some wave action every now and then don’t you? Some days we’re ready to Hang 10 on anything that comes our way. Other days we’re at the beach, picking up a sea shell one minute and knocked flat on our tushies by the big Kahuna the next. I don't know about you but I'm a planner and when my best laid plans go awry (no matter how small) I sometimes like to throw a hissy fit or even a pout party. But I know the best thing to do is to become more fluid.

So I say to you today….be fluid! Like water, baby, ebb and flow, be changeable, adapt, even if you can’t love the moment, you still wanna live it!

I (God) am with you and will keep you wherever you go.

Genesis 28:15

For more great tips, make sure you head over to Works For Me Wednesday.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Here’s what we’re dishing up at the Messy Manor House this week. Our Tuesdays have gotten even busier with the addition of baseball practice. So our Tuesdays will be leftovers, if they’re lucky, or just sandwiches or, all right, I’ll admit it, we may even eat cereal or frozen food on these nights!

Monday – Tacos/Bean Burritos (I’ve started making my own refried beans and hubby absolutely LOVES ‘em!)
Tuesday – Leftovers
Wednesday – Homemade Pizza
Thursday - Teriyaki Chicken/Oriental Chicken Wraps
Friday - Hubby’s working late so another potluck night (yay me!)

For TONS of awesome menu plan ideas, check out Org Junkie’s Meal Plan Monday.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Ungrateful Cinnamon Rolls

Strange title? It was born out of my bitter experience. This is the second time I’ve made these unbelievably soft, sweet, yummy, gooey buns of perfection. Seriously they are all that and a bag of chips (cheddar and sour cream Lays, please).

I thought since we were just having pizza (the lack of a menu plan has so kicked my butt this week), I would actually make dessert/evening snack. I then thought about how my family absolutely demolished the last batch of these cinnamon rolls. So I began the process expecting my adoring family to fall at my feet and adoringly lavish their praise on the culinary gift I was bestowing upon them. The children were excited and couldn’t wait for them to be done and, yes, they fell upon them like wild beasts who hadn’t eaten in weeks. Satisfying to the cook’s ego? Oh yeah.

Not so much so the hubby. “You’re making what? Why?” “Um, I thought you liked them?” “I do, way too much! I thought we were eating better.” So I explained I was planning to freeze some and send a few to his brother (next door neighbor). This seemed to mollify him somewhat, I think it was all a pretense anyway.

So I sent over four giant gorgeous cinnamon rolls, still warm from the oven, to my sister-in-law. Within five minutes, my phone rings. My sister-in-law is not happy. “How dare you send over homemade rolls still hot from the oven? Don’t you know I’m on a diet? Do you know that’s the first bite of real sugar I’ve had in two months? You have caused me to fall off the wagon.” Sigh… I was so upset by all the anger I had to eat another roll to make myself feel better. (I may have taken some artistic license with this conversation, she actually did say those things but she was only mildly irritated at me and she still loves me so we’re okay.)

I have done my job and warned you about the dangerousness of this recipe, please undertake this at your own risk and with the knowledge you could single-handedly crush diet plans everywhere (but they are SO worth it). You MUST try them. The recipe is a little long but it's really not complicated.

For more great recipes, visit The Grocery Cart's Recipe Swap!

The Ungrateful Cinnamon Rolls

½ c water
2 Tbsp yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
1 - (3 ½ oz) package vanilla pudding
½ c unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
7-8 cups bread flour

1 c. unsalted butter, softened
4 tsp cinnamon
2 cups brown sugar

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING (I omit the cream cheese)
8 oz cream cheese
½ c. butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 c. confectioners sugar
1 Tbsp milk

1. In a small bowl, hand whisk the water and the yeast and let stand 2 to 3 minutes. Add sugar.
2. In the mixing bowl of an electric mixer, prepare pudding according to package directions.
3. Add butter, eggs, salt and mix well.
4. Add yeast mixture.
5. Blend and gradually add the flour, kneading on slowest speed of mixer, until dough is smooth (8 to 10 minutes).
6. Insert the bowl into a large plastic bag and let dough rise until doubled (45-60 minutes).
7. Gentle deflate dough in the bowl and shape into a ball, and let rise again.
8. Gently turn out onto a lightly floured board.
9. Then roll out on floured board to approximately 30" x 20".
10. Take 1 cup soft butter and spread over surface.
11. In bowl, mix 2 cups brown sugar and the cinnamon.
12. Sprinkle over top.
13. Roll up very tightly.
14. With knife, put a notch every 2".
15. Cut rolls with dental floss or a sharp knife. (knife works fine!)
16. Place rolls on a lightly greased cookie sheet (2 inches apart).
17. Lightly press down on each roll.
18. Cover and let rise until doubled.
19. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
20. Remove rolls when they start to turn golden.
21. For Cream Cheese Frosting, combine all ingredients with a whisk, in a medium bowl, until smooth and soft. Frost buns while they are still warm.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Summer Memories

I love winter, I really love me some snow and have spent many an hour whining about our lack of white fluffy powder this year and last year get the point.

But today I put my belly-aching behind me and instead look ahead to the warmth and outdoor fun only summer can bring to us. In the spirit of summer, I give you one of my favorite day's from Summer '08...the Messes at Sherando Lake. This was one of those last minute, fill-in trips. We basically went to kill time between two baseball games. I think my family would agree, it easily makes it into our Top 10 day could even be a contender for first.

What summer activity are you and your family looking forward to the most?

Monday, March 2, 2009

One of Those Days...

Today we had this:

Which meant no school for the Messes.

So by late afternoon, I needed this:

Due to much frenzied hunting for snow boots, gloves, and hats and then repeated clean-up of same items, I have not yet made a menu plan this week. Maybe I'll get to it tomorrow but I know it'll be too late to add to the fun at Menu Plan Monday. So instead here's the recipe for the aforementioned much-loved drink of choice.
(Note the pic is of a previous cup of yummy goodness and it's sitting on an old menu plan...isn't it ironic, don't ya think, a little too ironic...)

It's complicated and involved but so worth it. Just kidding! Plain old hot chocolate with a liberal dose of vanilla caramel creamer and a heaping dollop of cool whip on top!

Actually the microwave just dinged and I like my hot chocolate hot...go check out some actual menu plans at Org Junkies Menu Plan Monday.