Monthly Archives: December 2011

Menu Plan for the Week: 12/26 – 12/31

Potato Souffle (mashed potato casserole)

How last week’s menu went:

Well I know I didn’t totally stick to the menu last week, but ’tis the season for that, I think. I can’t even remember exactly what happened, but I know I didn’t make the chicken, and we ate frozen pizzas one night. So there ya go.

Favorite meal from last week:

Oh I think the Christmas Eve dinner was the favorite. All 5 of us enjoyed the ham, 4/5 of us liked the Potato Souffle (no parsley), and all 5 of us liked the broccoli. By the way, that potato dish is also really good with a steak dinner if you are looking for a special side dish, and it makes quite a bit. It is a big favorite and a Christmas tradition that came from my husband’s side of the family. The recipe we have calls it a souffle, but it’s really more of a casserole.

Spinach salad

This Week’s Menu Plan

Sunday: Snacky dinner

  • leftover ham
  • Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip Yummy! (I used a small jar of artichoke hearts and about half the red pepper flakes)
  • crackers
  • whatever else various people were grabbing and munching on


  • Pizza (from a friend I’m house/cat sitting for)
  • spinach salad


  • Navy bean & ham soup (also from the friend I’m house/cat sitting for –  Yay!)
  • Italian bread
  • Clementines


  • Dinner at my parents’ house


  • Leftover Tuscany Pot Roast – I make it in the crock pot, and serve over egg noodles mixed with sauteed mushrooms (no poppy seeds)
  • Green beans


  • Baked chicken pieces (baked with olive oil and McCormick’s Montreal Chicken Seasoning) Using up some chicken from the freezer (Will I finally make this? I need to remember to pull the chicken out of the freezer!)
  • sweet potatoes
  • cooked veggies

Saturday: New Year’s Eve

  • I’m not sure yet, but my mom offered to babysit! Thanks, Mom!

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday, where you can find many more meal plans to check out!

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A Belated Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! A little late, yes, but that’s just where I am right now. I still want to wish you a merry Christmas! I actually like it when I get Christmas cards in the mail after Christmas. It helps me to know that I’m not the only one who doesn’t have it all together and it makes the Christmas season last longer! Here are some pictures of Christmas around our house.

Gabe and Daddy made this gingerbread house at school. The top of an orange carton is in there as a base.

Gingerbread cookies and silly faces. Find the gingerbread snowman named “Mr. Bones.”

Our Christmas tree.


Lots of hang out and play time. Lots of PJ time, too. I loved this idea from Small Notebook to put Christmas books under the tree leading up to Christmas. I love getting Christmas books from the library.

Simple centerpiece with pine cones the kids collected while on a walk.

Making Daddy’s favorite Christmas cookie: Cranberry Cookies.


Making sugar cookies! We still haven’t decorated these, but I’m not giving up hope that it will happen this week.

Miss Anna turned 2! How does that happen? She’s trying to make her fingers show “2” here…

I dug out a few things  to make the table special.

Real fun. Real life. Real mess. Really need to clean this up!

Our celebration isn’t done yet. We’ll be celebrating Christmas with extended family on Sunday. More fun, more mess, but not at my house! I’m looking forward to more family time and traditions like my dad reading the Christmas story from the Bible.

We will also celebrate my grandfather’s 98th birthday! He still drives himself to the gym 5 days a week. He’s a blessing to us in many ways.

Merry Christmas!


Filed under Life, Simple Fun

Menu Plan for the week: 12/19 – 12/24

How last week’s menu went:

A couple of things changed last week. Good changes! One night, my mom treated us to a subs at Subway, and on Saturday, some friends invited us over for dinner (I just brought a salad). Love that! So the Chicken Divan, Lightened Up didn’t happen and the Spaghetti Squash moved to this week.

Chicken Tortilla Soup - Remember to add the crushed tortilla chips, too!

Favorite meal from last week:

Of the things we made at home last week, the favorite was the Chicken Tortilla Soup. We love this. And it was perfect for using up a leftover chicken breast. I also used up the crumbs from 4 mostly-empty bags of tortilla chips.  Like most soups, it’s really versatile, too. Use different beans, add or leave some things out, and it still turns out great. I often just use what I have on hand. I like to double the beans and add more broth to stretch the soup a bit. The leftovers are great and it freezes well, too!

This Week’s Menu Plan



  • Pizza night (I use this crust recipe, with part whole wheat flour and I knead the dough after mixing.)
  • Raw veggies


  • Tuscany Pot Roast – I make it in the crock pot, and serve over egg noodles mixed with sautéed mushrooms (no poppy seeds)
  • Peas
  • Maybe a salad, too


Thursday: Going Caroling, I think


  • Leftover night!

Saturday: Christmas Eve!

  • Baked ham with pineapple
  • Potato Souffle – This is a Christmas tradition from Mr. RSS’s side of the family. I couldn’t find the exact recipe online, but this is pretty close. No parsley needed. You can also use instant potatoes (make 12 servings). These are great leftover for breakfast, too.
  • Green beans and/or salad

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday, where you can find many more meal plans to check out!


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Cleaning the Kids’ Room | Before and After

Two signs it’s time to clean the kids’ room:

1. Everywhere you look is a jumbled mess.

2. You can’t even get to the closet.

The Process:

I started by simply sending the kids (ages 7 and 5)  upstairs to clean their room on their own.  They worked on it for a while and made some good progress, but to really finish the job well, they needed my help and direction. It was a lot of work (because not cleaning it for many months will do that), but we worked together and made great progress! Take a look!

Before – Dare we enter? What is up with the trash all over the floor?

After – The box you see there is for toys.

Before – This rocker-glider was never supposed to be there for more than a week or so. I moved it in there when Mr. RSS was out of town and I was on my own with an infant plus the other 2 and it just made it easier at that time. That was almost 2 years ago… and here sits that chair.

After – The chair is back in the nursery, but really I think it just needs to leave the house soon…

The closet doors can even close. What a concept!

Here are some clothes that are getting donated:



Did you notice that Gabe’s bed grew? He finally has a big boy bed, thanks to my sister. He’s super thrilled!

Books before – No, no, no.

Books after – Yes!

 What we’ve learned:

  • Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance. Keeping it clean or cleaning it when it’s just a little messy are much easier than waiting for it to be a big stinkin’ mess. Easier said than done. I think I’ll try a Saturday morning room inspection each week.


Other Updates:
  • We finally put up a Christmas tree and started decorating! Christmas music is playing and there is a fire in the fireplace. Bunches of boxes are out of the living room (but just moved to the basement). I’m loving the peaceful atmosphere. I took some before pics. Maybe I’ll take some after shots to show you this week for fun.
  • The kitchen is a mess. I need to tackle that tomorrow.


Filed under Before and After, Cleaning, Declutter, Kids

Menu Plan for the Week: 12/11 – 12/17 | Fun with food

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

How last week’s menu went:

I stuck to last week’s menu plan quite well.

The night we had the Bean and Rice Burritos, I had dinner all ready, but Mr. RSS had something to finish before coming to the table. When I was putting Gabe’s burrito on his rocket plate, I realized that it fit perfectly on the rocket. Then I started to have some fun while I waited.

So I did this:

Rocket Burrito

And then I worked on Ella’s plate:

Hula Girl Burrito

Since I still had more time, I went ahead and worked on the grown up plates. Little Anna just shared my burrito.

Silly Face Burritos

Eventually I stopped playing with everyone’s food, and we ate dinner.

Favorite meal from last week:

I’m going  with the Lentil Shepherd’s Pie. I was really wondering how the family would like this, since they love a different shepherd’s pie recipe I make with ground beef, but 4 out of 5 of us really liked it. One child only liked the mashed potato topping. I like that the recipe is both inexpensive and healthy.

This Week’s Menu Plan



  • My sweet sister brought dinner over – pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, cole slaw, green beans. Yum!



Thursday: Christmas Concert = easy dinner

  • Quick spaghetti and meat sauce: 1 box of spaghetti + 1 pound of cooked ground beef (from my freezer) + 2 jars of spaghetti sauce = happy tummies in a hurry
  • salad or green beans



I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday, where you can find many more meal plans to check out!


Filed under Menu Plans, Simple Fun

Hot Spot Check Up: The Entryway – Week 2 | Shoe bins

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. This week, we’re continuing to work on the entryway. 

Well, hello there! Wow, it’s been quite a week around here. We had a stomach bug hit us and now I am just trying to catch up on everything. Thankfully, we are all better now, and back to our regular activities. So let’s take a quick look at the entryway, shall we?

This before picture was actually taken on Tuesday or Wednesday:

I admit it! I’m the one with too many shoes here.

I wanted to try the container idea that at few people have suggested, so I went on a little hunt around the house and found these:

I really should have put prettier shoes on the top there. Oh well. It's the real deal here.

Now we are going to skip along to Sunday for a new before picture:

Those shoe bins have been working well so far. I have one for grown up shoes and one for kid shoes.

I only needed to work on things for about 5 minutes to get it looking like this:

I’m happy with that! I do have more ideas for that closet, though. And my lovely readers shared some great ideas in the comments last week. We’ll check back in on this clutter hot spot next week.

Other Updates:

  • I’m still planning to show you some fun before and after pictures from the kids’ room. Hopefully this week!
  • I hope to get the menu plan for the week up tonight. I need to decide what to make with one cooked chicken breast…
I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing.


Filed under Before and After, Hot Spot Check Up, Organization

Menu Plan for the Week: 12/4 – 12/10

Vegetarian Taco Salad

How last week’s menu went:

I stuck to the menu last week except for moving things around just a little. The Beef and Bean Chili recipe that I tried was spicier than I thought it would be, but we liked it (it was a bit too spicy for the kids). I’ll make a milder version next time and just put hot sauce on the table.

Favorite meal from last week:

I think it’s a toss up between homemade pizza night  (I use this crust recipe, with part whole wheat flour and I knead the dough after mixing.)  and the Vegetarian taco salad.

Homemade Pizza Night

This Week’s Menu Plan


  • Pork Fried Rice using a leftover pork chop from last week and some leftover brown rice. I usually look at these 2 recipes: House Fried Rice/Pork Fried Rice and kind of wing it from there based on what I have on hand.



  • We’ve been invited to a dinner party where we’ll get to see friends who are visiting from out of town and meet some new friends. Sweet!




  • Not quite sure what will happen with dinner yet, but we will be with friends.  🙂


  • Pizza Penne Bake I’ll double the recipe to bring one to a potluck on Sunday. What is with all of this thinking ahead/planning ahead this week?! I don’t know, but I like it! I think my blog is a good influence on me. 
  • raw veggies and/or fruit


Other Updates:
  • I have some fun before and after pictures to show you from the kids’ room later this week…
  • My 7-year-old daughter cleaned up the living room this morning before any adults were even out of bed. What a blessing!

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday, where you can find many more meal plans to check out!


Filed under Menu Plans

Hot Spot Check Up: The Entryway | Week 1

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. This week I’m looking at the entryway. Actually, I needed to do more than just look at it. 

Isn’t it so nice to come home, take of your coat, and kick off your shoes? That’s what we like to do.


It’s just so nice to have your coat and shoes right by the door so that you can just put them on as you walk out the door.

What’s not nice is that there are 5 of us doing this in a rather small space, and with more than one pair of shoes each. They do start to accumulate, don’t they?

I picked the entryway this week because it was just driving me crazy and causing us to waste time as people tried to dig through a pile of shoes and coats before leaving the house. It was driving us all crazy I suppose, so I knew it would bless my family if I could work on fixing it up.

I started out setting the timer for 15 min, just to see how far I could get. I was able to pretty much get everything sorted in 15 min.

These are all of the shoes that were in and around that closet.

Here’s the laundry pile, kitchen, and trash/recycling.

And these were the things heading upstairs.

This is a large pile of give away/sell/return-type stuff. Some of it is leftovers from the yard sale. It’s all still there right now, but maybe we can deal with it this weekend.

The next step was removing items that didn’t belong there or that we don’t need/want at all, and organizing what was left. Gee, seems so simple sometimes. Our current rule is that each person can keep 1 or 2 pairs of shoes in that closet. So, we’re back to that maintenance problem again, because we obviously haven’t been following that rule very well.  The kids helped deliver all of the extra shoes and things to their proper places.

And here’s the after picture!

And here’s a peek into the closet.

Much better! I’m thinking I’ll stick with this hot spot for at least a couple more weeks to see how things are going. Plus I have some ideas that might help that coat closet.

Is your entryway a clutter hot spot, too? If you have any tips or ideas to share, I’m all ears!

I’m linking up at OrgJunkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing!

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Filed under Before and After, Declutter, Hot Spot Check Up, Organization