Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Zucchini Bake

We've been so blessed this summer with garden goodies.  The best part?  Someone else did all the work!  Our friends have supplied us with deliciousness from their gardens and we have enjoyed every single bite of their generosity.

Most recently a neighbor gave us some zucchini.  I usually make zucchini bread but I was kind of in the mood to do something else.  I googled some zucchini casserole recipes and ended up making a variation of my own by combining several of the things from the different recipes.  I'm calling it Zucchini Bake.  I made it for dinner Monday night and it was really, really good.  The whole family liked it - everyone asked for seconds.  You must give this a try!

Ingredients:

2 large zucchini or maybe 4 small/med ones.

I used these.



2 (or more) tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 (or more) tablespoons sliced green onion
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese 
2 (or more) cups Mozzarella cheese + 1/2 cup
salt and pepper to taste


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 9 x 13 with non-stick spray.  Wash and cut up zucchini.  




Chop up basil and slice onions.




Combine the zucchini, basil, green onions, bread crumbs, and both kinds of cheese.  Stir together until zucchini is well coated.  Season with salt and pepper.
Put in baking dish and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.  Take the casserole dish out of oven and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.  Put dish back into oven and bake for additional 10 - 15 minutes until hot and bubbly.



This could certainly be a main dish but I served it as a side dish with fried chicken, okra, and biscuits.  I also went a little overboard with cheese.  My family loves cheese.  :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Menu Plan Monday

  Do you like to make a menu plan on Mondays?  I do.  I don't always have one but when I do, what a difference it makes in my week!  

Here's a recent one of mine.  I hope you find something helpful.   

MONDAY:  Chicken and Dumplings, baked carrots
     I cook boneless, skinless, chicken breasts in chicken broth in the crock pot all day.  About 30 minutes before serving I use the recipe on the back of the Bisquick box to make dumplings.  I plop the dumplings right into the crock-pot and they always turn out great.  For the carrots just pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees, cover a cookie sheet with carrots and drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Bake until soft (approximately 45 minutes - or less, you just have to check them).  

TUESDAY:  Steak, pasta, peas
     This is one of my short-cut meals.  I serve this when I'm limited on time.  I use frozen fajita steak strips and a couple of envelopes of Knorr pasta and a bag of frozen peas. 
  It makes a yummy meal and is quick.

WEDNESDAY:  Homemade pizza 
     Anyway you want to do it - here's one of our favorites.  

THURSDAY:  Pork chops, cheesy potatoes, corn, green beans, and yeast rolls
     I usually marinate my pork chops in Italian dressing overnight and then cook them on the grill.  If you want my recipe for Cheesy Potatoes you can find it here.  Cheesy Potatoes rank in our family's top 5 all time favorite recipes.  

FRIDAY:  Spaghetti and meatballs, salad, garlic bread
     Another short-cut meal if you don't have time to make homemade meatballs.  (You may find several short-cut meals on my menu plans in the weeks to come.  With a little infant nursing every few hours my time for cooking has been temporarily altered.)  There are several varieties of frozen meatballs at the grocery store.  We like Armour.



     I put my spaghetti sauce in the crock-pot in the morning and add the meatballs to that.  After cooking all day they are simply delicious.  All that's left to do is cut up a salad and boil some pasta.  

SATURDAY:  Breakfast for dinner- eggs, bacon, and biscuits
     Easy peasy and the whole family loves it!

SUNDAY:  Chicken salad croissants, crackers, and fruit
     Everyone makes chicken salad their own way.  Here's mine.  I like to get the croissants from SAMS or COSTCO.  

MONDAY:  Sloppy Joes, tater tots, carrot sticks
     This is an easy meal.  Just throw your Sloppy Joe ingredients in the crock-pot in the morning and let it cook throughout the day.  When dinner time comes you can simply scoop it onto hamburger buns and serve.  Need a good Sloppy Joe recipe?  Here ya go!

TUESDAY:  Taco Soup
     We love Taco Soup!  Do you?  I love to use my crock-pot for dinner as often as possible, especially during the summertime.  There's something so relaxing about knowing that dinner is cooking away in the crock-pot while I am doing my daily work.  Taco Soup is easy and tasty.  I normally serve it with chips and salsa but most recently we ate it with cornbread my girls made.  It was super delicious and I was super excited that my girls wanted to make it.  They love to cook and bake and are becoming quite a big help in the kitchen.  Yay! 




WEDNESDAY:  Grilled Chicken, green beans, Cheesy potatoes
     I know, Cheesy Potatoes again.  Honestly, my family would eat them every night of the week.  For this meal I marinate boneless, skinless chicken breasts in Italian dressing all day.  When my husband gets home from work he throws them on the grill.  It doesn't get any easier than that!

THURSDAY:  Pork Barbecue Sandwiches, coleslaw, potato chips, carrot sticks
     Another quick and easy meal you can do in the crock-pot.  I'm not turning my oven on much this summer.  :)

FRIDAY:  Ranch Chicken Tacos corn, chips and salsa
     This recipe makes my family so happy.  Recipe credit goes to my sister.  She served this to us once when we visited and my whole family loved it.  Everything you've seen so far on this menu plan is super simple and this meal is no different.  I have to keep things simple during this season of life.  I've got a busy family with people coming and going in different directions plus a new little one.  I can't be fussing with difficult or time consuming recipes.  You're probably busy too.  Hopefully this menu plan will help you out. 

     I sometimes get into a recipe rut.  Does that ever happen to you?  This coming week I've got something fun planned.  I've saved many years worth of Taste of Home magazines and I'm planning to go through them and find new recipes to try.  My husband loves to do this too so I'm going to give him a stack to look at as well.  It will be fun to see what he picks out.  If I find something particularly wonderful I will be sure to pass it on to you!  Many of my favorite recipes have come from Taste of Home and I'm excited about finding new ones in these old magazines.   

Have a great week!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

For those of you reading outside the Chattanooga area...

     As you know, horrific events recently occurred in our city.  It's been a terribly scary time.  Things are heavy and dark and sad.  The families of the victims are continually on my mind and my heart aches for them.  The pain of this tragedy is felt by every member of our community.  One of our sons has spent a lot of time in the military recruitment office lately.  The doors of a place he has frequented regularly for the last couple of months are now riddled with bullet holes.  That makes me mad, and sad, and scared.  My husband's office in the train terminal is near the location of Thursday's killings.  For a short period of time that day I could not get in contact with him.  I only knew there was a shooter at the RiverPark and that Amnicola Hwy and been closed.  That's very close to where my husband works and I just wanted to hear from him.  When he finally called he said they had put the train terminal on lock-down.  I feel physically sick to think about what could have happened if the Chattanooga police had not responded with such bravery.  I'm thankful to God that no more lives were lost Thursday.  The men and women of the Chattanooga Police Department are heroes and our family is blessed to know some of those heroes.  A friend of mine from church just left our area and moved to Camp Lejeune.  Her husband is a Marine.   I spoke with her on Friday.  She told me that one of the fallen Marines was a very close friend of her husband's and one of the other victims was the one who took over her husband's position.  It hurts.  There is much anguish and grief.  I ask you to pray for our city.  Pray that God would help the victims' families.  Pray for the killer's family.  Please pray that God would do a mighty work and hearts would be changed.  I know long after the nation has moved on there will be much heartache and pain here.  People need the Lord.



  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

All About the Bathroom



I figured I was just the person to write a post all about cleaning the bathroom since I recently spent several days cleaning mine.  Well, not really several days.  A couple of hours each day for several days. 


As most of you know, I had a baby six (almost seven) weeks ago.  My bathroom wasn't perfectly clean when I left for the hospital and had not been touched since I came home.  I mean, I picked the wet towels up out of the floor and threw them in the wash and the trash can was emptied regularly, but that was about it.  

Who has time to do anything in the bathroom when you bring home a new baby?  I consider my time in the bathroom a success if I'm able to shower and brush my teeth.  It's a bonus day if there's time to shave my legs.  (If it were any other season than summer I probably wouldn't bother.)  

I've been busy.  Not my typical busy - new baby busy - and if you are a mom you know what I mean.  My priority has been nursing an infant, a hungry little infant I might add, and taking care of the rest of our 9 member family.  It hasn't been having a clean bathroom, or a clean anything for that matter.  

Maybe it should have been...  :)

I started cleaning my bathroom on Saturday.  Those of you with me on facebook probably thought I was kidding when I said I was going to post a picture when I was finished.  I wasn't.  I literally had to give myself that push to make me get moving on it.  The bathroom had gotten so bad I just couldn't get excited about cleaning.  (Crazy as it sounds!) 

So...here's the finished job.  I'm pretty proud!  The after pictures would mean more if there were before ones as well.  I thought about taking those but I just couldn't.  

I worked on this bathroom Saturday, and Monday, and Tuesday.  For your enjoyment I'm including a bathroom check-list as this really helped me.  

One thing I've learned is to break tasks up into smaller tasks.  It really is the only way to get big jobs done.  I knew it was going to take several hours to clean that bathroom so I kept waiting until I had a day with several hours to clean.  That day never came, and probably won't for a long time.  I finally decided to try to spend an hour or two here and there until I got it all done.  That worked.  I found little chunks of time when I could work while baby napped and everyone else was situated for a bit.  Try breaking your bigger tasks up into smaller ones and see if that helps you.  It did me!

Bathroom Cleaning

  • Pick up clutter
  • Take dirty towels to laundry area
  • Put rugs in the washing machine
  • Scrub tile and grout
Here's one of the reasons my chore took so long.  This shower! 
It's a monster if you let it get out of control.  I will never do that again. I use Crown Cleaner in here, (and bleach when necessary), and a vinegar/water mix on the glass doors.  Had I taken a before picture you wouldn't have been able to see anything.  The soap scum on those doors had made for plenty of privacy.  



  • Swiffer/vacuum floors
  • Spray and wipe mirrors (I do love vinegar for this.  I mix one part vinegar with two parts water in a spray bottle.)  
  • Clean sink
  • Clean tub
  • Pour bleach in toilet bowl and swish around, wipe outside of bowl
  • Wipe off windowsills and scale

  • Empty trashcan
  • Clean inside of medicine cabinet or drawers (I took everything out of the drawers and used a vacuum cleaner attachment and then a damp cloth to wipe down the inside of the drawer.  It had been a long time since I had done this and oh, what a difference it makes.)

  • Wash shower curtain and/or liner if you have one
  • Mop floor (I always leave the mopping for last and back my way out of the room with a damp mop.)
I cannot end this post without introducing you to my new cleaning companion.  Maybe you two have already met but if not, you need to!




This is Scrub Daddy.  If you don't have one you might want to get one.  I love my Scrub Daddy!  I'm even thinking about doing a giveaway here on the blog.  I have a lemon scented yellow one I'm using in my kitchen and this green one is for my bathrooms.  If you want to know more go to scrubdaddy.com.   

And one more picture, just because...


He's the reason I fall behind on my cleaning duties and he's the most wonderful reason in the whole world!!  If you have one of these at your house know that the time with your tiny baby will pass very quickly but the cleaning will stick around.  Enjoy the baby snuggles while you can.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sort of, kind of, return to blogging

I can't believe it's been almost three months since I've posted here.  

I've been on a blogging break of sorts...one I didn't plan to take, it just sort of happened

 A lot has happened since I last posted.

We finished up the Spring semester of co-op, finished up another year of homeschooling, celebrated a sweet little four year old girl's birthday, attended our son's final soccer games and his senior soccer banquet, celebrated Mother's Day and Father's Day, our older kids helped with and our younger kids attended Vacation Bible School, sent our youngest boy to a week long soccer camp and...



on May 28th we welcomed our seventh child into the family!

  








This is our little son, Ezekiel Bane  "Zeke".
8 lbs 10 oz
20.5 inches long

We are thrilled to have him here.  He is such a sweet little fella and brings so much joy to our family!

I was pretty quiet about the pregnancy and chose not to share it here on the blog for a number of reasons (perhaps we will chat about those later).  My husband and I decided to wait until he was here to share our news.  It has taken me 6 weeks to do that, but here he is!  





Zeke has very happy and thankful parents and proud siblings.



I'm thinking I will write a separate post about Zeke's birth story.  I will just say for now that we are overjoyed with the end result - our precious baby - but the process was a disaster.  I did not dream my seventh delivery could go so horribly wrong.  We have not stopped praising God for His protection and for the gift of this sweet boy.  

My husband took a picture of me during labor, so later I returned the favor.  We each "labored" in our own way.  hahaha!  Having a baby is so exhausting for dads.  :)







Here is one of the few pictures I have of me pregnant.  I was seriously so busy we hardly remembered to take any pictures - and sick - I was seriously so sick I hardly ever felt like taking pictures.  It is sooo nice not to be sick anymore.




Unless it's your first baby life doesn't really slow down at all when you have a baby.  

The day I had Zeke one of our son's had a guitar recital.  All of our kids stayed at the hospital until the last possible minute and then headed out with our in-house guitarist to his recital.  

As soon as we were home from the hospital life picked right back up with all the activity that a house full of people can produce.  At first I thought I would not be able to get my feet under me.  I was pretty overwhelmed and more than a little tired.  My husband took a week off of work but wow, did that week go quick!  All of the children were super helpful and our dear church family brought in meals.  

Bit by bit I'm figuring out how to be the mom of seven - how to get the laundry washed (just not always put away), how to get dinner on the table (just not exactly on time) how to nurse an infant and read to a little gal while answering a text message, how to run errands and clean house (just not how I used to) how to get a shower before noon, how to get the checkbook balanced and the bills paid and the groceries bought in the two hours between feedings, how to survive on almost no sleep, and so on.  

These have been the best weeks of my whole entire life, even if the previous paragraph doesn't make it sound as such.  I have enjoyed watching our family pull together.  I've laughed as my teens have grocery shopped at the way they interpret my list.  I've smiled as I've watched my husband cry every. single. time. he holds this boy.  I've been proud of the girls as they have taken on the role of little mommies and I've teared up every time I hear the kids bragging about their brother.  God is so good to me and I certainly don't deserve it.  

Life has sort of, kind of, returned to normal so I plan to sort of, kind of, return to blogging.  I'm so glad you've stuck around!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

WIN in Survival Mode

I was trying to determine why I don't write like I used to.  I can remember posting almost daily and now I barely make it by here.  I was thinking about that and wondering what happened exactly.

I figured it out.

I'm in survival mode.  

You know the mode you go into when there's more for you to do than you could possibly get done, when there are a lot of people depending on you for lots of different things, when emotional pain grips your heart and tries to take over, when you are overwhelmed, under-nourished, and sleep deprived?  That's the one.

I wonder if I should share or spare the details of how I got here?  I wonder if you are here (or ever have been) too.  

Maybe today's topic won't be as cozy as some but I want to chat anyway.  

It's not unusual for moms to go through difficult times.  Who said everything would always be peachy??  That nonsense about "God won't put more on you than you can handle" - not true.  All of life is way more than we can handle.  We need Him and His grace!  How would we recognize our own depravity if we "handled" life just fine on our own?

My husband has this little acronym he brought home from work and uses often.  It has become a huge help to me.  He's been saying it for a while (I think it's on his desk somewhere) but it has proven to be very helpful to me recently.  Maybe it will help you as well.  

W.I.N. - What's important now.

Have I shared this with you before?  If so, it means more to me now than it ever has.  

Allow me to explain...

You can't do everything.  You can't do a million things and do them all well.  Right now if you are feeling like things are spiraling out of control, stop and determine what is important and focus only on that.  Can you do it?  {Yes!}

I've had to determine the most important things and put my focus on them.  I've had to let some other things go for a little while.  This is not easy for me but it is what had to be done.  There is a relationship that is painful and drags me down.  I finally had to let it go.  There were a jillion household projects I wanted to accomplish.  I had to put them aside for now.  There were a lot of things vying for my attention and I had to decide what's important now and take care of it.  You won't be able to get things under control until you decide what's important right now and focus on that.  

If you are dealing with a child's sinful behavior and trying to homeschool - quit the homeschooling, work on the behavior, then resume teaching.  What's important now?  Math or the child's heart?  Learning to spell or learning to obey?  W.I.N.

If you have run yourself completely out of energy and you are experiencing health issues - stop everything, get yourself healthy, then add back the important things one at a time.  (Notice I said important things!)  What's important now?  Right now? 

If your husband is feeling neglected fix that right away.  If you're yelling at your children - stop and re-focus.  What's important now?  Clean windows or a happy marriage?  Gourmet meals or children eating grilled cheese sandwiches knowing they are loved - a lot!  

I hope this is helping you because the WIN idea has really helped me.  

Knowing what's most important right now and focusing on that has saved me from almost losing my sanity.

Trim away the extra, let go of some perfectionism, re-write the to-do list, simplify, cancel, let go, whatever you have to do, and focus on what's important now.

Start here:

(1) Your relationship with God - spiritual, emotional, and physical health.
(2) Your husband
(3) Your children

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Weekend Re-cap (and a Wife's Prayer for Her Husband)

Hi, everybody!  How was your weekend?

Ours was marvelous. (and I survived all the work!)  I'm so thankful to be able to celebrate our Risen Savior, and to celebrate with the ones I love.

Here's a little re-cap of our weekend, although there are a lot of parts I just didn't get pictures of.  I can't do it all.  ~smile~


Friday night we attended our church's Good Friday Communion Service.  It was a very special time.  

Saturday morning we enjoyed an egg hunt with our neighbors we dearly love.  








We colored some eggs Saturday night.  







This was after the kids had gotten their baths which is why you see them pictured in their pajamas.  







When the coloring eggstravaganza was over I got to work on our Sunday meal.  I cooked and cooked and cooked until around midnight when I started stuffing Easter baskets. 

Sunday morning we went to church for a beautiful Resurrection Service.  It was a wonderful day.  Jesus is risen!!




After we got home from church we snapped a few pictures.  It's always a challenge to get a good shot of everybody.  We do what we can.  Haha!







While I put the finishing touches on our lunch our oldest son showed the Resurrection eggs to the younger kids.  This made my heart smile.  It doesn't seem like that long ago I was sitting with him talking about those same things.



We enjoyed a big meal, and yes, I wish I had a picture of our Easter table I decorated, but like I said earlier I just didn't get all the pictures I wanted.  It's really okay.  

 After the (group effort) clean-up we took a short little rest and then met friends at the park and spent the evening playing.  It was so much fun. 

 {{Here's a funny story about stuffing my baskets - I was tired and a little foggy brained Saturday night when I was putting together the baskets.  This is one job I really can't do ahead of time.  The kids would surely see their baskets before Easter.  After all, it's not like I would need a place to hide two or three baskets.  I made seven.  I did one for each child and then fixed up one for my honey.  I used to make him one every Easter but I had not done that in several years so I decided to do one this year and surprise him. 

 I kept thinking as I was stuffing each child's basket that there had to be more.  I knew I had bought more.  But...there was everything spread out in front of me - that was it.  I blamed the sparse look of their baskets on the fact that I had no Easter grass (there was a shortage of Easter grass in the Chattanooga area - no joke - I went to seven or eight different stores over the course of several days and every. single. place. was sold out of Easter grass).  

Wouldn't you know it, Sunday night my honey finds a big bag of Easter stuff in my closet!  Ah!  There are the goodies I knew I had.  I'd been picking things up for baskets for weeks and hiding it all away in my closet.  There were bubbles, and tubes of chapstick, and candy, and more.  So -  the kids had round two of their Easter baskets.  I just handed them the stuff straight out of the bag this time.}}

I went to bed exhausted and happy and thankful for God's love.


*There's one more thing I wanted to show you before I let you go.  I've been hanging on to this link for weeks meaning to add it to a post but the timing never seemed right.  Perhaps this post isn't a great fit either but before I forget I want to share this with you.  I don't even remember how I came across this prayer but I think it's great.  If there's one area I need to improve most on in my marriage it is praying for my husband.  Read this prayer and see what you think.
  
http://unveiledwife.com/a-wifes-prayer-for-her-husband/

Happy Monday, friends!  Here's hoping you're enjoying a cozy day.  :)

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