UKM#3’s maiden blog!

UKM#3 here.

I’ve been slow to blog, but I have a good reason. My household is going through a major overhaul. After over 12 years of being a stay at home mom, I went back to work. I don’t like to word it that way, because it sounds like I’ve been playing when in fact, I’ve been working as a stay-at-home Mom. That was a real issue when I was searching for a job. I was surprised at how many people (women in particular) thought I was sitting around doing nothing for a decade. Of course, that should have been another blog.  

I started part time a couple of months ago, and this past week was my first week as a full-time employee. I took the position knowing it would become full time in July, but that was moved up. We were not exactly ready, but we survived. 

The kids pitched in with dishes and laundry, but somehow lost the ability to pick up after themselves, or maybe I had been doing more of that than I realized. We performed a mandatory Rock-n-Roll Clean-up on Saturday, and everything (at least in the main portion of our home) is presentable. The laundry is folded and the dishes are finished. By the way, it is important to note that I do not have a working dish washer, our dishes must be washed by hand.

Before starting full time, I talked with my Mom, because she worked full time at a large company from the time I was in kindergarten. She told me, “Now is not the time to worry about recycling. Buy paper plates, bowls, cups, napkins, and whatever else will help me reduce what needs done. Now is the time to get the kids involved in managing our home.” She then gave me all the supplies she had mentioned. 

Since I stayed home, and they are busy with school and activities, and my husband worked full time and devoted his off time to the kids, I took care of most everything. That is not to say, no one was expected to help. They put away their clothes, because I fold everything on the dining table, and in order to eat, you have to clear your spot. They helped with cooking, because I wanted them to learn how, but if something else came up, it was no big deal. The thing we lack is the ability to clean up as we go, so things were already getting out of sorts after only a couple of months of me having a part-time position. 

I was, and still am, overwhelmed by the idea of working 5 days a week with a long commute, but I am also happy with my new job. It is different from any job I have had before. It is a comfortable environment with some of the nicest people I have ever met. That is not to say I did not like my previous jobs, because I did. Up until now my last job prior to staying home had been my favorite. It’s just we cannot go back. The world we understood working when we were working before is not there. It has changed. The technology has changed. Some of the people have changed. We just cannot go back. Plus, my skills have changed. They have evolved. I can squeeze a lot out of a dollar. I can make most any costume work. I can put together a meal, all be it crazy, with whatever is available in the cabinets and fridge. I can make it to three cities in one day in order to see each kid do something. Of course, I have suffered defeat trying to see everyone when it was not humanly possible. I have suffered defeat in the rush of a morning by not getting how upset one of my kids were over what seemed like nothing. I have suffered defeat when my oldest had to meet with the counselor because my alarm didn’t go off and he was late to school. I no longer dust my alarm.  

Aside from the logistics of covering the things I had been my sole responsibility, there has been a lot of emotional changes. My oldest is driving, and is happy to have added freedom and help with transportation. My middle child is helping with things that concern her, but not as happy to lose the possibility of a shopping trip any afternoon of the week. All and all, it has hit my youngest the most. I set him up with an email account, so he can send me a note when he gets home from school. He tells me how his day went, and if he has homework. I try to send an email early in the day to let him know I was thinking of him, and so he has mail when he logs into his account. I don’t always accomplish that, but he sometimes forgets to send me an email too. It is helping. I am also trying to carve out even 15 minutes a day with each of them — time just talking to me, riding bikes, taking a walk, or watching a TV show together. 

After one week of being on the job full time, things are okay. There is room for improvement, but there always is. I will succeed and I will suffer a few defeats, but I intend to remain positive about the whole experience, and I will try to share the ups and downs with you as I go.  

Until next update,

UKM#3

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Random UKM conversation in a Facebook message

I just wanted to share this conversation and hopefully it makes you giggle just as much as it made US giggle this morning!

Preface:  UKM’s 1-4 discussed adding another UKM to the group because we wanted someone with a baby added into the mix, to share her trials, tribulations, and of course, giggles! 

One of our UKMs has a cellphone with the most EPIC auto-correct known to man.  And when I say EPIC, I mean EPICALLY-AWESOME.  It comes up with words that no one has ever heard of, and most conversations via text or FB messages turn into complete giggle-fests.  In addition, we’re slowly concocting a new language, purely out of auto-correct fails!

Here is our FB Message conversation this morning to UKM#5 (WARNING: young eyes may not want to see some of the language):

UKM#1:  Hey “x”!  I’ve cc’d UKM’s 2-4 on this because we’re the “Unknown Mommies”, and we’d like to add you as an Admin!  You can be UKM#5!  We think that because you are a “baby momma”, in that, you have a baby, might appeal to our audience.  Interested?

UKM#3:  Be our baby mama.  Plus, you offer some unique perspectives because you’re new to being an Ashmolean.

UKM#1:  A what?!

UKM#3:  Ashmolean means stay-at-home-mom in my phone land.  Laminate! (This is an auto-correct from UKM#1’s phone for “LOL”)

UKM#1:  L…M…A…O!!!

UKM#3:  Can’t breathe

UKM#1:  I’m begging you, don’t EVER get rid of your phone!

UKM#3:  I wonder what Ashmolean is?!?!

UKM#1:  I’m crying!  Laughing so hard!

UKM#1:  (after Googling “Ashmolean”)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashmolean_Museum

UKM#3:  Oh yeah… well I’m sure #5 is related to Elias.  My phone must know that.

UKM#1:  Your phone is so smart.

UKM#2:  OH. MY. GOD!!!!  Can’t stop laughing!!!!  Wtf?  Is your phone fucking high????  That is some funny fucking shit right there!

UKM#3:  My phone kept auto-correcting YOU to YUI yesterday.  What phone does that?!

UKM#2:  I’m going to call my mother-in-law Ashmolean because it sounds bad and she’s an ancient artifact.

UKM#1:  An Ashmolean window-licker?

UKM#2:  OMG!  Best morning laugh ever!  Loved it!  My phone is asking me what “Ashmolean” is.  It’s red-lining it.  Lol!  Your phone is way smarter than our phones, #3.

UKM#1:  Hers has passed the smart phone.  Hers is fucking BRILLIANT!

UKM#2:  Mine just denies me when I ask her to marry me.  Bitch.

UKM#5:  I just wet myself from laughing hysterically over this feed.  I would love to be your Ashmolean!

UKM#1:  Yay!  UKAshmolean!

UKM#3:  Greetings Ashmolean!

UKM#1:  I feel like when we say “Greetings, Ashmolean”, it should be followed up with “Take me to your leader.  LOL!  Sorry, that was probably funnier in my head than how it came out typed…

 

Meal Plan for March 18-22, 2013

UKM#1 here…

So ya, I kind of fell of the wagon for a week or so.  It’s not that I didn’t have a plan… I just didn’t have time to blog it!  ACK!

Here is the meal plan for the upcoming week.

Again, I only plan for Monday-Friday…  Saturdays are always a left-over day, and we go out for dinner on Sunday.    And as always, all of these recipes are geared for a 4-person family, so please tweak as needed.

MONDAY

Make-Your-Own Sub Sandwiches

TUESDAY

UKM#3’s Pasta Bake / Salad / Garlic Bread

WEDNESDAY

Sloppy Joes / Steamed Broccoli

THURSDAY

Beef Stew in the Crockpot

FRIDAY

Tacos

Recipes available for download:  Meals for March 18-22-pdf

Hoping all of you have a wonderful week!

UKM#1

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Saving $$ while shopping for groceries

UMK#1 here…

Has anyone else noticed how their money isn’t going quite as far at the grocery stores lately?  Items are getting smaller (hello, have you seen the teeny-tiny sized boxes of Triscuits lately?!), and prices are going up.  Thus resulting in the “what the hell just happened??” feeling when you get your total.

I’ll admit, I’m hot & cold when it comes to coupons, and a lot of the time, the coupons are for things that I normally wouldn’t buy.  That being said, I try to find other ways to save my family money.

I have been guilty for convenience shopping, as we all have, and still do for necessary reasons.  However, because I was comfortable with my “convenience”, I neglected other stores that could really save me money.  I was just too lazy to put forth the effort to do a little extra work.  And sometimes, I just didn’t have the extra time.  However, I’m MAKING the time now.  I tend to shop 3 different stores… Kroger, Super Wal-Mart, and Aldi.  Kroger is literally 5 minutes from my house.  How convenient is that?  It’s wonderful, really.  Wal-Mart is just a few more minutes away, and again, wonderful.  Aldi is about 20 minutes away… not convenient, but holy moly… wonderful in more ways than I can even express!!

Aldi has gotten a bad rap over the years, and for the life of me, I can’t understand why.  I had not shopped there because it really wasn’t convenient, and I never needed to be on that side of town.  However, now that I’m watching our budget like a hawk, I find myself there once a week!  Did you know that Aldi is owned by the same company as Trader Joe’s?  Well, it is!  

ImageAldi is not like most grocery stores.  To me, it’s kind of bare-bones.  But for me, that’s actually pretty great.  Why?  Because they don’t have “shiny objects”.  Shiny objects?!  They don’t seem to have the “C’mon, you know you want this” end caps, and the “If you don’t buy 10 of these, you won’t get THIS price” deals.  Those are shiny objects to me.  Aldi is a straight-forward, this-is-what-we’ve-got kind of store.  And you know what?  I love it.  If you have an Aldi near you, please try it.  I’ve included a link to their weekly flyers:  http://aldi.us/index_ENU_HTML.htm

I’m constantly combing Pinterest for new recipes, and ways to save money.  While doing that today, I came across this blog: Gimme Some Oven, which spurred my reason to blog about grocery shopping.  This woman has really taken the time to get people fully educated about shopping at Aldi, and I wanted to share it!  Please check out these links if you have one near you.  Remember the Feb. 11th post on our Facebook page (TheUnknownMommies) about the great deal I got on avocados?  That’s right, they came from ALDI!  

ALDI 101 (courtesy of Gimme Some Oven)

Why I shop at Aldi

How to shop at Aldi

What to buy at Aldi

My favorites to buy at Aldi?

Beer Bread mix (no more home-party ordering for me!), cake mixes, Kettle chips, spices, coffee creamer, Silk soymilk/coconut milk, bacon, half & half, honey-nut Cheerios (their version), marinara sauce, tortellini, gnocchi, chicken broth, Ramen noodles, shredded cheese, produce, canned veggies/fruit, frozen tilapia fillets, frozen fruit, Hawaiian rolls, and at Halloween time, their pumpkins were huge & only $2 a piece!!!  I know I’m forgetting items that I normally buy, but this was a list just off the top of my head.  

I go to Aldi first, get what I can off of my list, and either finish up at Super Wal-Mart or Kroger.  I get about 75% of my groceries at Aldi, and I am spending about half of what I normally do on groceries, NO JOKE!   

My philosophy on shopping is this… I ALWAYS try the store brands.  Most of the time, you can’t tell the difference, but there are those times where it’s a total bomb.  I suggest you do the same at Aldi.  Why pay full price just for a name if you don’t have to?  I have no shame in buying generic anything!  

I know I’m not reinventing the wheel here, I’m just sharing a way that I found to save my family some money!  My family & I sat down & discussed ways we could save money.  We came up with a plan (and it was great involving the kids because they need to buy-in to the idea as well!).  We will only go out to eat one time/week, and we have a set budget for that.  If we come in under budget, that extra $$ goes into a vacation fund.  We are also putting the extra money we’d normally spend on groceries into that same vacation fund.  So therefore, I’m working extra hard at saving, because who doesn’t want to go on a fabulous vacation??!  😉  

Happy Shopping!

UKM#1

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Choose Your Words Wisely

Choose Your Words Wisely

As I picked up the class catalog for planning my oldest’s HS Freshman schedule, it instantly took me back to high school.  Those awkward, stress-free, fun days.  It just reminded me of how unsure of myself I was at that time in my life.  High school is stressful enough, let alone trying to find yourself amidst the hundreds of others trying to find themselves as well.  I’m not gonna lie, I had a small panic attack thinking about my son possibly experiencing the same thing!    

As I was reliving those high school days, I think what hit home the most was how influential several teachers were to me and how UN-influential a few were.  At that moment, I focused more on the ones who crushed my dreams, rather than the ones who encouraged them.  Why?  Because I don’t want my own kids to be discouraged!  One teacher in particular that was discouraging to me, was my art teacher, Mrs. M. (The initial has been changed to keep her anonymity.)  

{Back story:  My entire life, I’ve always loved to draw.  To make crafts.  To color.  Really, to do anything that involved art supplies.  I’m slightly OCD when it comes to my art supplies.  You know how some people collect figurines?  I collect art supplies.  A big honkin’ box of Crayola crayons is like my version of a Hummel or a Fabergé egg.}

Mrs. M, my high school art teacher, was (in my head) the epitome of cool.  She was a free spirit.  Hippy-esque, if you will.  She was everything that I wasn’t.  What was I?  I was a perky, run-of-the-mill cheerleader with really big hair.  I’m sure I was a walking stereotype to her, and because of that, I feel she unfairly judged me.  (disclaimer: this is purely my opinion)

She was not a fan of mine.  She critiqued my work to death.  I know I was not her most talented student, but it’s not like I was drawing stick figures, either!  She told me I was afraid of color and that I wasn’t applying myself.  She seemed to come up with everything she could to devastate me.  The last & final blow was when she told me “You need to re-do this, this is trash.  Y’know what, don’t bother.  You have no business being in this class.”  (to this day, those words still ring loudly in my ears)  So, because I had like, ZERO self-confidence, I let her win.  I enrolled in Graphic Design the next semester.  Lo & behold, I was told that I had great talent & should really think about pursuing this as a career.  Wait.  What?!  This new teacher had faith in me, and encouraged me.  Really?!  My work did nothing but improve.  Isn’t it amazing what a little encouragement and kind words can do?

I’m not saying that if Mrs. M. would’ve given me encouraging words that my work would’ve improved enough to her standards, but she didn’t care enough to try.  Why?  I’ve always wondered.  All of these years, I’ve sort of stewed over this, but I guess it’s because I’m now looking at it from a parental point of view.  Would I ever do something like that to my kids or want my kids’ teachers or other adults in their lives to do that to them?  HELL NO!  But as a student, you’re taught to respect your teachers.  How could I say anything to her when she held my grade in her hands?  I was a weenie!  {Disclaimer:  I don’t want any of my teacher friends to think I’m in any way bashing all teachers – I’m not!  In all my years of schooling, I’ve only had 2 teachers who have really discouraged me… one in HS, and one in college… and I rolled over & let both of them win – a decision I regret fully to this day.}

So, flash-forward 20-something years… my entire life, I had always wanted a really nice camera.  I had a point & shoot, and while it took decent pictures, I wasn’t seeing the pictures that I saw in my head.  The point & shoot brought everything into focus, but what I really wanted was just to bring certain things into focus.  And for that, I needed a lens.  

I took a leap of faith by taking pictures for one of my best friends & her family.  Long story short, a small photography career was born.  I bought the nice camera (learned how it worked – man, those things can be confusing!), and started seeing those pictures I’d always seen in my head.  I’m not a professional.  I’m self-taught, and am always learning new things.  My style has evolved over the past couple of years, and I imagine it will continue to do so in the years to come.  New techniques & styles are always being discovered, right?  I digress.  I have fun taking pictures & I love meeting new people.  I love capturing moments that may otherwise go unnoticed.  

I have to say that while I can see everything in color, much like everyone else, my favorite photos are black & white.  Why?  It’s simple.  They tell more of a story.  They’re real.  Sometimes they’re harsh & unflattering, and sometimes they’re soft & beautiful.  But they’re always real.  

All of these years, Mrs. M’s voice has been in the back of my mind, making me doubt myself.  Making me think that I didn’t have any talent.  But you know what?  I’ve discovered that while maybe I’m not the mural-painting artiste that she is, I’m an artist in my own field.  And afraid of color?  I’m not.  I just like to be real.  And sometimes being real means being exposed in a harsh light… not a tutti-frutti color wheel where things can be hidden.  I don’t think I need to paint something in a vivid color to prove my self-worth.

So to Mrs. M, I only have these words of advice… choose your words wisely.  While you crushed my dreams of ever thinking I had talent in your eyes (and honestly, how many other students dreams did you crush??), you pushed me to do something I never thought I’d do.  To be an artist.  And you know what?  I do have talent.  And you know what else?  It doesn’t have to be in color.  But thank you, Mrs. M, for making me doubt myself all of these years.  It is a wonderful feeling when my clients tell me that I’ve captured their sons/daughters/families in their true form.  Those moments captured in time tell a beautiful story.  Real stories.  Their stories.

Clearly, I still have issues with Mrs. M’s discouraging words, and this helped to get it out.  But I’m looking ahead to what my kids will experience in high school, and I have to pray that they will hear encouraging words, and not discouraging words.  It also reminds me, that as a parent, my children hear my words & these words (at least the ones they actually hear & not the ones that sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher) will stay with them for their entire lives.  Same goes for my friends and family.  It’s hard to take back those words that fall out of our mouths without chewing on them for a while.  And clearly, people will always remember “those” words.  I just keep going back to the saying that my parents tried to pound into my head while I was growing up (and of course, I’m sure I rolled my eyes & scoffed)…  “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  So this reminder goes to me as well… choose your words wisely.  Make sure they’re kind.  Make sure they’re encouraging.  Make sure that if you say them, make them have meaning.  I’m not going to lie & say I’ve never said mean things, or that things haven’t come out the way I had intended… but over the past couple of years & events in my life that have taken place, I have taken a great amount of time to taste the words that are rolling around on my tongue.  I’m doing my best to keep the “not nice” thoughts to myself. 

The moral to this gouge your eyes out long post is this: encourage, don’t discourage; build up, don’t tear down.  It reaps WAY bigger benefits, and y’know what?  It’s physically impossible to be down when you’re seeing someone else smile!  

Meal Plan for the week of Feb. 18-22, 2013

UKM#1 here…

This is a pretty low-key meal week.   None of the meals require much time to either assemble ahead of time, or the day of.  I’m using 2 of the packages of ground beef that I browned last week, so that saves me a lot of time!

**Notes:  All of my meals are for a family of 4, please tweak the recipes as necessary to accommodate your family.  Also, anytime I use pasta, I try to use a mix of regular & whole grain when I can.

Recipes available for download: Meals for Feb. 18-22-pdf

MONDAY:

Baked Ziti

Green Beans

TUESDAY:

Cincinnati Chili (aka: Skyline Chili®)

Salad

WEDNESDAY:

Make-Your-Own Chef Salads

THURSDAY:

Sloppy Joe’s

Steamed Broccoli

Mac ‘n Cheese?

FRIDAY:

No cooking for me because of the Cub Scout Blue & Gold Banquet!  Woo Hoo!!

SATURDAY:

Leftovers

SUNDAY:

Out to eat!

 

Have a great week, friends!

Cooking Ahead / Meal Planning 101

Does dinnertime roll around & you panic because you have no idea what you’re fixing?  Have you heard about cooking ahead & you’re not sure what it is or what it entails?  Not sure where to start with planning your meals?  Seems a little overwhelming, right?  Fear not, friends!  Seriously, if I can tackle this, you can too.

I started doing this because I was famous for waiting until the last minute to decide what I was making for dinner.  I’d go to the grocery store each week, wandering around, buying random things, only to realize, I didn’t have what I needed to make certain things.  I didn’t have a plan.  I was just buying random things, hoping that I’d be inspired to make something.  Turns out, I wasn’t and therefore, we went out to eat a lot more than we should’ve!  My youngest would ask each morning at breakfast “what’s for dinner?”, and my normal response was “I don’t know“.  By planning out meals, it alleviates stress for me.  I know what I’m cooking & when, it saves us moolah, and my youngest no longer has to ask me what’s for dinner – he can now look at the fridge & either delight in that it’s something he loves, or grumble because yes, I’m making him eat asparagus.

There are so many ways to do this, but what has worked for my family is this…

  1. Print out a blank calendar for each month of the year (templates can be found online:  Free Calendar Template , or on MS Publisher), or use an extra calendar that you have laying around.
  2. On the calendar, write in kids’ sports events, appointments, meetings, or any event that would affect mealtime/preparing meals, etc… (this helps me determine what meals to have on what night)
  3. Get your family involved!  Make a list of all of your family “favorites”, your standard “go-to” meals.  This helps you determine easy meals -v- meals that take more time to prepare.  Open up those dusty cookbooks, surf Pinterest… look for new things to try to break up any rut you may be in meal-wise!
  4. Of the above lists, are there meats that you use a lot of?  Say, chicken or ground beef?  Could you benefit from cooking ahead?
  5. If you answered “yes” to #4, then do it!  When you’re baking chicken/browning burger for one meal, why not do it for 2 or 3?  This is such a time-saver!!
  6. When I look ahead at my meals, if I know I’ll be using chicken for several meals, or meals that will use burger, I buy up extra of those meats, and cook them all at once.  How?  I throw chicken breasts in the crock pot with chicken broth, and when finished, they can either stay whole, or it can be shredded.  When I buy extra burger, I usually buy the big 5-lb tube, and brown it all at once with chopped onion & garlic.  I usually don’t salt it.  Why?  If I heat it up later for say, tacos, I season it with taco seasoning.  Then the meat doesn’t end up too salty.
  7.   Take stock of what is already in your pantry/freezer/cabinets/fridge.  Sometimes this helps me plan meals — if you use what you already have, think of the $$ you’re saving at the grocery store!
  8. If you get a newspaper, comb the grocery ads.  If there’s a great deal on veggies that you eat a lot (and can be frozen), stock up, and portion out for future meals.  Your freezer will be your friend!
  9. If you’re willing to take some extra time, cooking ahead is a great time-saver for the future.  Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?  Take time on one day to save it on another?  I guess it’s a trade-off.  But if you’re like me, sometimes at dinnertime (or as I like to refer to it, “The Witching Hour”, it’s crazy… and anything I can do to make the process faster & less complicated, the better!  Knowing that there’s a pound of ground beef already browned in the freezer, and all I have to do is heat it up, boil some pasta, throw some marinara over it, and make a salad?  That’s easy!
  10. When making out your meal plan, write each recipe down with the meal… this makes your grocery shopping easier so you can see exactly what & how much of it you’ll need.  I saw a version of this on Pinterest, but made my own (very simple) template:  Meal Planner Template – pdf
  11. If you know your family will only eat certain things (and trying new things is out of the question), when you make one meal, why not make 2, and put one in the freezer for the next week?  If you’re going to make the mess, make it once & be done with it!  Actually, this is a good idea even if your family isn’t picky!

Okay, I know that list was long (sorry, it’s just a brain dump for me!), but really, the things on the list are just basic things to think about.  Meal planning doesn’t work for everyone, and it’s hard to stay focused some weeks.  I’m not going to lie & say that each week is perfectly planned out.  Of course, there are those surprise evening meetings, kids getting sick, or just the fact that you’re too damned tired to cook, and going out to eat is not only necessary, it’s MANDATORY!  😉  Life happens.  But, the more I try to plan things out, the less stressed I am and the more money we save.

Meal Plan for the week of Feb. 11-15, 2013

J here!

Just a precursor… I do not plan meals for the weekends.  Why?  Well, due to kid sports, family events, and/or random spontaneity, dinnertime is usually the first thing to go on a schedule.  That being said, leftovers are a key player during the weekend, and we usually go out to eat at least once a week… and, we tend to do it on the weekends.  

I tend to range from one extreme to the other as far as my meals.  Some take a lot of effort, some take none.  My hubs is gone at least 2 evenings each week, so therefore, I don’t go “all out” on meals when it’s just the kids & I.  Sorry kids, it’s not that mommy doesn’t love you… but I also realize you’d be just as happy with PB&J when daddy is gone!  

I do a lot of cooking ahead, so I don’t spend a ton of time each day in the kitchen, because really, who has time for that?!  So, some of these items below are already hanging out in my freezer.  

We eat a lot of chicken, so I tend to cook chicken each Monday in my crockpot.  It can either be kept whole (breasts), or it can be shredded.  Either way, I portion it out, and put it in freezer bags.  Easy peasy!

MONDAY

Tilapia with Orzo Salad

What you’ll need for the Tilapia:

Tilapia fillets

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 tomatoes, chopped

1/8 cup White cooking wine

3 dashes lemon juice

salt

pepper

 *If your fish fillets are frozen, be sure to thaw them.

*In a large frying pan on medium heat, go around the pan twice with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil.

*Add in garlic.

*Put your fillets on top of the garlic.  Season with salt/pepper.

*Add in cooking wine.

*Add in lemon juice.

*Add in tomatoes.

*Cook fillets until they are turn white in color.  

What you’ll need for the Orzo Salad:

1 bag/box Orzo

4 cloves garlic, minced

3-4 Tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1 lemon, juiced

1 bunch asparagus, chopped into 1” pieces

1-2 tomatoes, chopped (you can substitute cherry tomatoes, if you like)

Salt

Pepper

*In a large pot, bring water to a boil & cook orzo according to the directions on the package.  The last few minutes when orzo is cooking, blanch the asparagus in the water along with the orzo.  (this will save you dirtying another pot!)

*Drain orzo/asparagus, and put into a large bowl.  (I use my largest stainless steel mixing bowl!)  Add in tomatoes.

*In a smaller bowl, combine lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper (to taste), and whisk together until blended. [You will want this to be a bit saltier than usual — it will be spread out amongst a lot of pasta.]

*Pour lemon juice/olive oil mixture over the pasta/asparagus/tomatoes.  Mix well.

*This salad can be served warm OR cold.  It’s yummy!!

TUESDAY

Pizza on Garlic Bread & Salad

What you’ll need for the Pizza:

1-2 long loaves of Garlic Bread (depending upon the size of your family)

Marinara Sauce

Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

*Any other pizza toppings you enjoy (Pepperoni, mushrooms, sausage…)

*Preheat oven to what the package of Garlic Bread calls for.

*Assemble your “pizza” on each half of the garlic bread.  Once done, cook according to the package.  Instant pizza!  

What you’ll need for the Salad:

1 bag of salad mix (or head of shredded lettuce)

veggies of your choice

WEDNESDAY

Carnitas/Tacos

What you’ll need for the Carnitas: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2010/03/mexican-slow-cooked-pork-carnitas.html /Tacos:

Tortillas

Guacamole*

Lettuce

Tomatoes, chopped (or, salsa)

Cilantro

1 can refried beans

1 can green enchilada sauce

2.5 lb pork shoulder blade roast, lean, all fat removed (I had a 6 lb. roast, and just doubled this recipe, so I’d have some to put in the freezer!)

6 cloves garlic, cut into sliver

cumin

dry adobo seasoning (I used Goya)

garlic powder

3/4 cup 99% fat free chicken broth

2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (to taste)

2 bay leaves

Directions:

(I might suggest that you prepare the meat the day before your meal… it takes a while to cook in the crockpot.  However, it can be done on the stovetop as well — still takes a bit though)

Season pork with salt and pepper. In a medium sauté pan on medium-high heat, brown pork on all sides for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Using a sharp knife, insert blade into pork, cutting small holes and insert garlic slivers. Season pork generously with cumin, adobo and garlic powder all over.

Pour chicken broth in the crockpot, add bay leaves and chipotle peppers. Place pork in crock pot and cover. Cook low for 8 hours. After 8 hours, shred pork using two forks and combine well with the juices that accumulated at the bottom. Remove bay leaves and adjust salt and cumin (you will probably need to add more). Let it cook another 15-30 minutes.

*For Guacamole:

4 avocados

garlic salt

lime juice

*Mash 4 avocados in a bowl

*Add garlic salt, to taste

*Add 3-4 dashes of lime juice

*Mix together

*To make a bean mixture, heat the can of refried beans & green enchilada sauce together.

*To assemble carnitas/tacos, in a tortilla, put some of the bean mixture, meat, lettuce, tomato, cilantro, guacamole… however you like!

THURSDAY

Jenni’s “Wicked Good Clam Chowdah”  http://hokefamily.blogspot.com/2012/02/jennis-wicked-good-clam-chowdah-and-yes.html

 What you’ll need for the “chowdah”:

4 cans minced clams

6 strips bacon, chopped

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cups clam liquor (liquid in the can) + 1-2 cups water

2 cups diced potatoes

1 tsp salt

dash of pepper

2 cups milk

2 cups half & half

*instant potatoes (if you wish to thicken soup afterwards)

 FRIDAY

Chicken Spaghetti  http://cookinupnorth.blogspot.com/2010/09/easy-chicken-spaghetti-recipe.html?m=1

What you’ll need for the Chicken Spaghetti:

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

3 cups cooked spaghetti (I just used the whole box)

4 oz. Velveeta, melted

1 can Cream of Chicken soup

1 can Tomatoes & Green Chilies

1/2 tsp garlic powder

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Obviously some of these recipes may not work for your family, so feel free to substitute whatever you like.  

I started meal planning because my youngest constantly asks “what’s for dinner???“, and I usually have no idea.  This way, he can look at the calendar on the fridge and either jump for joy or sulk because it’s something he doesn’t like.  ha!  

Have a great week, my friends!  

J

Here we go!

Image

Hello to anyone who is reading this and welcome to our blog!

We’re just some Midwest moms who have all but lost our identities to our children and their various activities.  Instead of

our actual names, we’re simply “so & so’s mom”…  Can anyone relate?  No?  Well then, this probably isn’t the blog for you.  Anyone that can, HELLLLOOOOO!!!

A little about us?  We are a tight group of friends, all from varying backgrounds.  We own home-based businesses.  We do carpool.  We run around, eat meals & live in our vehicles to get our kids to various sports & activities.  Some of us are super crafty, some are not.  Some of us love to cook, some of us don’t.  Some of us are handy DIY’ers, some of us aren’t.  We’re all about saving money.  We’re all organizational-wannabes.  We’re fiercely passionate about our kids.  We love to laugh, and have fun making each other crack up.  We’re all pretty sarcastic.  In a nutshell, we’re all works in progress, much like anyone else, but we’re trying to be the best people we can be, and always striving to learn new things.

Come along on our adventures with new recipes, home improvement projects, organizational projects, trials & tribulations of being a parent, spouse, sister… you name it!  We’ll celebrate our achievements as well as our disasters!

Until then,

The Unknown Mommies