We are so lucky to have my parents visit us over the Thanksgiving holidays. They are the only company we receive on a regular basis from the Maritimes. I would be so lonely without their visits. We have so much fun while they are here. My mom is the ultimate in "Grammies". While she is here...she always has a 'project' of some kind planned for the kids...whether it be making cupcakes or pancakes, or taking the dogs for a walk, or walking to Chapters with the kids....browsing at books and getting a hot chocolate before the walk home.
My Dad keeps us busy as well. He is the 'Grandfather' of grandfathers. However, his pursuits are a little different....he takes on the homework questions, plays card, and goes for walks with the grandchildren. He loves to tease us. The kids also know that an endless supply of Grammie's homemade pancakes and bacon follow Grampie wherever he goes. Usually this breakfast gets served up at around 8 am....and little people know to be at the table when Grampie sits down.
Here he is getting yummy kisses from the new little puppies. Ha! Doesn't he look so thrilled?
In my opinion, their visits always go by way too fast. We are always wishing they could stay for 'just a few more days'. But there is always the next visit to look forward to....thankfully.
I love 'Menu Plan Monday'. It's an exercise that just makes my week feel so much more oranized. My blog posts for 'MPM' were inpsired by Laura at "I'm am Organizing Junkie". She is a Canadian who writes a fabulous blog on getting your home & life organized. If you would like additional inspiration for 'Menu Plan Monday', please go visit her site to find links to more menu plans than you could ever imagine. Your head will be spinning with ideas...trust me!
Here are some of the meals that will be served at our house this week:
I spent this Saturday hanging around the house and cooking a nice dinner for my family. My menfolk had gone off to play a hockey game in a town that was one and half hours away. The junior high girl was having a friend over for an afternoon of fun. I decided to try a new recipe from this lovely cookbook, "The Pioneer Woman Cooks". I just received it on Thursday in the mail, and I spent most of the evening devouring the recipes and beautiful pictures inside. The 'Pioneer Woman' writes a blog that is a wonderful blend of photography, life stories, cooking and inspiration. If you dare to read the tale of how she met and married 'Marlboro Man'... you will be mesmorized by the story of a city gal who meets a ranch cowboy and promptly falls in love.The pictures of the working ranch she calls home with 'Marlboro Man' are breathtaking.....it makes you want to plop on a cowboy hat, saddle up old Sally and giddy off into the sunset of blissful ranch happiness.The thing I really love about her cookbook is that it is written by a homecook for homecooks. She gives step-by-step photos for each recipe, along with a healthy dose of interesting rural stories and striking photos of her life with her man and 4 young whippersnappers. (Did I mention the pictures of cowboys in wranglers with chaps?) I tried her meatloaf recipe for tonight's dinner. I followed her recipe exactly with the exception of adding mushrooms and onions into my meat mixture. The top layer of bacon and tomato gravy on the meatloaf is enough to make any cowboy happy. I made 2 loaves and 12 mini loaves in a muffin tin for the freezer. I served it with mashed taters, corn, carrots and gravy. Pure comfort food on a day when morning dawned with a wet layer of snow on the ground.
It was a yummy dinner and one meatloaf is completely gone. And my whippersnappers gave our guest a wonderful performance demonstrating sibling love....."You laugh like a donkey!" said one. "Your face is like a donkey's" shot back the other. Like I said.....I love dinnertime conversation.
Our little dog Rigley is the most passive little dog. She just lets Tyler carry her around like she is the princess of his castle. Here she is asleep in his arms while he is watching a little TV before bed. I am not really sure who loves who more.
Tyler is having so much fun with the dogs. I can't even begin to tell you how much attention he lavishes on these little girls. He is always playing with them or laying on the floor with them. He decided he should read to them in French so they could be 'bilingual'.
Adopting these 2 little dogs into our family has been a wonderful experience. The kids are learning so much about how to care for and love a pet. Hopefully this adventure in nuturing something purely for love will stay with them as they journey in life.
I find menu planning so useful for keeping me on track with our food storage and food budget. When I plan meals for the week, I often poke through the freezer to see what needs to be eaten and I avoid unnecessary purchases at the grocery store. There are a more than a few mommy bloggers that are writing great stuff on meal planning, cooking for the freezer and how to get the most out of food storage. One mom with a family of 6 to feed keeps her grocery bill to $160 a month! She is extremely frugal AND creative with her grocery budget...still her family eats very well. So my challenge this month is to keep our family grocery budget to $160 from Nov.15 to Dec. 15. So far, I am making bread since we are out of bread and I refuse to pay $2 a loaf at the grocery store. The bonus is that my kids actually prefer homemade bread over anything else.
Our menu plan for the week will include using up all of our fresh fruits and vegetables so nothing goes to waste.
Monday-Pulled pork sandwiches with a veggies tray & dip. Fresh fruits parfaits for dessert.
Tuesday-Lobster stuffed salmon with wild rice, carrots and steamed asparagus.
Wednesday-Chicken & vegetable stir fry with rice.
Thursday-Meatloaf with baked potatoes, carrots and green beans.
Friday-Casserole. Undecided as to which casserole, but it will be made on Thursday to eat on Friday.
Sunday-Homemade soup with sausages and lentils.
The Party Dress has done it again with a wonderful take on an "Apple-Picking and Fireside Dinner Party". Her photo collages are such a feast for the eyes...doesn't the party below just look divine?
I have been scrapbooking for 10 years now and I am super excited about this scrapbooking project. It's called 'Project Life' and it's designed by the fantabulous Becky Higgins. This amazing kit contains all the components for a year of scrapbooking: album, page protectors, 12x12 paper, journalling cards and other decorative pieces. Becky designed a similar kit last year for Creating Keepsakes called 'Project 365'... but it sold out in no time. I regretted not purchasing that kit, so I was so happy when she announced that she was designing a new kit for 2010. Have you met Becky Higgins? I first became a fan of hers through her work with Creating Keepsakes Magazine in 1999 when I was a new scrapbooker. Becky was, at first, a page designer, then a columnist, book author and creative editor for Creating Keepsakes. I have always admired her page designs and her inspirational theme album projects. I have watched her grow from a young married woman to a mother of 3 adorable children. And I have had the opportunity to meet her in person 3 times and take a class from her at Creating Keepsakes University in Boston in 2003.
She is lovely....both inside and out.
Becky wrote this book a few years ago and I really love all of the projects revealed inside. Becky has amazing ideas about how to organize your theme albums and her projects are always very beautifully put together with amazing colors, photos and journalling.
She also wrote this book for the scrapbooker who would like to tackle projects from the family historian point of view. Inside you will find interview questions for gaining more information and anecdotal stories from family members and ideas on how to scrapbook this info.
I last saw Becky in 2007 when she came to my city for a convention. I had her autograph both of these books. I really treasure these and the inspirational ideas inside.
preparing for Christmas and December is for enjoying Christmas. I read this amazing piece of advice last year on one of my favorite blogs...Restyled Home. That lovely Linda is chock full of great advice and creative energy!
So far I have finished Christmas shopping for the children. Yes...I said finished. I visited the largest local mall two weeks ago (when it was still October) and hit a home run with my list.
I picked up Santa gifts and stocking stuffers and the whole, darn SHE-bang. What a wonderful feeling! This means I can afford killer-shark traffic, over-full parking lots and slow check out lanes when December comes! Yee-ha!
Over the last month, I have picked up new Christmas wrapping paper, new tags, Christmas cards, and carry-out containers for homemade goodies. Tonight I picked up several rolls of scotch tape for a planned 'wrapping day' next week.
I am also having so much fun visiting some of my favorite blogs to see what ideas for Christmas other people are sharing. I love this photo from "The Party Dress" for an idea of a "Cocktail and Cookies" party. Makes you want to invite all your girlfriends over, doesn't it?
Here is our meal plan for this week...even though it's Wednesday already!
I love cooking dinner for my family. Often, dinner is the only meal of the day where we all eat together and I really treasure this family time. Some of our best family laughs arrive at the dinner table with the food as we hear about someone's day. A meal plan, which is a simple task, makes each day go so much better....no fretting at 4 pm about what's for dinner. One thing that really helps is if I do all the dinner prep in the morning so that later in the day I am just turning on the stove and/or oven and mixing a salad.
Monday-I had to work a Bingo for the skating club at 5pm and left the house at 4:15 pm. Hunter made pasta for herself and Ron made mini-pizzas for himself & Tyler. I had a cold salad plate at Bingo.
Tuesday- maple balsamic marinated chicken with rice, oven roasted sweet potato and steamed asparagus.
Wednesday-I made homemade waffles with an sliced apple topping for lunch. Ron and Tyler had hockey in the late afternoon and Hunter and I went to the movie....so we had tuna melts as people arrived home.
Thursday- seafood stuffed salmon with rice, green beans and carrots.
Friday-pork loin with baked potatoes, asparagus and carrots.
Sunday- shrimp and wild rice casserole with an apple pecan salad.
I also have a rule where I try a new recipe for dinner once a week. This keeps us from getting tired of the same meals and lends variety to our eating habits.