Monday, August 31, 2009

Zesty Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

We had this for dinner last night and it is so good. I love red potatoes. This is one I had in my recipe box from a while ago. Both hubby and M&M gobbled it up.

Zesty Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 lb. small red potatoes, cut into fourths
1/3 c. mayonnaise or salad dressing
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
chopped fresh chives, if desired

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 15X10X1-inch pan with cooking spray.
2. Place chicken and potatoes in pan. In small bowl, mix remaining ingredients except chives; brush over chicken and potatoes.
3. Bake uncovered 30-35 minutes or until potatoes are tender and juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (170 degrees). Sprinkle with chives.

I had a few variations with this recipe. I only used 3 or 4 chicken breasts because that is all the people we need to feed around here and we don't eat leftovers very well. I don't know how many potatoes I used, I just guessed at how many looked like could fit in the pan. I usually use dijon mustard, but realized I only had honey mustard last night. I like the Dijon better. I'm not one to chop up garlic cloves so I used the already chopped kind in a jar. I also just used a 13x9 pan because that's what was easiest.

We also had a salad that is our favorite. There's no recipe, just ingredients that we put together that we really like.

Spring mix salad greens
feta cheese
chopped green apples
chopped green onions
poppyseed dressing

My husband doesn't like the green onions so I rarely put that in. I saw this great idea somewhere on how to chop up green onions. Instead of using a knife, use kitchen scissors! Okay, so many of you probably are like, duh, I knew that already. I'm still a budding chef so anything that makes my life and making dinner easier and faster is wonderful news!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tot School - Letter M

Tot School
M&M is currently 38 1/2 months old

We did the letter M this week for Tot School. I've gathered a lot of ideas over the past few months and I've realized that I need to scale Tot School down and simplify it for myself. With M&M being in preschool and MDO for 3 days a week I won't have as much time to actually do Tot School with her, but I will have more time to prepare! Maybe it won't be as chaotic because I will have everything set and ready to go when we do have Tot School time here at home. My goal is to at least do the whole alphabet. We've only done 7 letters. Mmm...I thought we've done a lot more than that. We have done Tot School 18 times, but I haven't been prepared with a letter each of those times. We'll see what happens.

On to our activities for the week.
M is for Monkeys. We couldn't do the letter M without doing something with monkeys. This is a mask I found at Ziggity Zoom.

We also did this Monkey M. I got the idea from here. Ours doesn't look as good because I am trying to allow M&M to do more things by herself instead of me trying to make everything look perfect.

M is for Mountain. We also did a Mountain M. This idea came from No Time for Flashcards. There are also some other good M activities on the link as well.

Oh, I just had to showcase one of M&M's lunchtime creations from the week. I just had to laugh at the broccoli on top of the toothpick. Needless to say she didn't eat a lot for that meal, but she sure had fun!

M is for Measure. I knew I had to do something with measuring because M&M is always helping daddy hold the tape measure when he measures things for projects around the house. This idea came from Walking by the Way, a more recent blog find. You can find the cards here and read about how to do the activity on the first link. I think this was too easy for M&M or she just wasn't in a good mood at the time because she didn't enjoy it as much as I thought she would.

M is for Monkey Bread. I found this easy recipe for Monkey bread so I've been saving making it just for this week. It was really good and the recipe I used can be found here.

M is for M&M's. Considering her nickname is M&M for this blog we had to do something with M&M's. This rainbow sheet came from Making Learning Fun. This page would also be good to go with a rainbow theme. This activity didn't get much done on it because the pieces kept disappearing for some reason. Mmm....

M is also for Magnet. I've been saving this activity for a long time. I printed this sheet off a while ago and so I didn't save where I got it from. I got most of the items on the list, but didn't have a few of them. M&M really got into this activity and she loved to circle the correct answer. There were a few of them that had some parts that were magnetic and others that weren't. I didn't think she would understand the concept of how some things are magnetic and other's aren't so I just used this as a fun science experiment (like Sid the Science Kid) and left it at that. She did take the magnetic wand around the house for a little bit after she was done to see what else she could find that was magnetic.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

How do you clean?

This is a question for anyone! I'm desperate. I feel like my house is always a pigsty. Stuff is everywhere, counters have caked on food, there's always dirty dishes in the sink and counter and papers everywhere on my computer desk. I've tried many things to lessen the mess, but it doesn't seem to be helping. See, I would consider myself a neat freak, but you would never know that if you walked into my house...ever.

The premise of my blog is that I would share tips on how to run a household and raise kids, etc. to help mother's out there in my same situation. But right now I need advice. I've tried to set up a schedule where I would do one big chore a day, vacuum on Tuesday, sweep on Wed. etc. The problem is I can't seem to get to those chores because I spend all of my cleaning time just trying to get everything back to the places and rooms they are suppose to be in. I run around the house like a madman getting my exercise for the day because I take something to one room, come back and realize I forgot something else. *sigh*

I try to get my 3 year old involved and she loves to help, but after a while she gets bored and wants me to play, but the task isn't finished yet. My husband helps as much as he can after he gets home from work, but he also likes to play with the kids and then we have to give them baths and get them ready for bed. By the time the kids are in bed we don't want to clean we want a couple of hours to ourselves to spend together or do projects of our own.

Growing up, Saturday mornings were always reserved for deep cleaning. I've tried to implement that in my own family, but the kids, 3 years and 8 months, get really bored after a couple of hours of this. We also like to do something fun as a family on Saturday or have other commitments as well. (As a side note: as part of our religion we try not to work on Sundays as we believe this is a day of rest. We like to reserve it for church meetings, scripture study, family time in the home/visiting other family in the area, etc. That is why we'd like to get it all done on Saturday.)

Anyway this is a long explanation of my little problem. Do I have too high of expectations or am I stressing out way too much like my husband thinks? This is kind of embarrassing to admit, but I'm desperate for ideas.

My question is: How do you get cleaning done in your home?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tackle it Tuesday

I did half or some of many projects this week. One thing that I started on (and could have finished) this week was putting labels on the canisters in the pantry. My husband brought home an older label maker from work and I started to get the labels printed out, but then it ran out of paper. So I couldn't finish. It was a good start though. Starting is always the hardest part right? Hopefully I will get a bigger project done for next week. I might just have to buy a label maker, too.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tot School

Tot School
M&M is currently 38 months old

M&M did a lot of things on her own this week using her imagination. Everyday her imagination is building and I love to see the things she comes up with. First of all she made a boat out of a laundry basket and stocked it full of toys.

Then she made her own picnic.

Our first activity was this styrofoam and toothpick shape/fine motor skill activity. I got this idea from Chasing Cheerios.

She did most of each of the shapes, but then it ended up like this because she was playing mommy, daddy and baby with them and they needed to lay down because they were going to sleep. Anything small turns into people these days.

I've been meaning to do this one for a while now, but had a hard time finding the suction cup things for a good price until I went to the dollar store. It is a Montessori activity using tongs to put the marbles onto the suction cups. This one came from My Montessori Journey. M&M really liked this activity and asked to do it again after using the tongs to put them back in the bowl. This is great because usually once she finishes something, if she finishes it, she will be all done and won't want to do it again.

For a treat this week we made pink popcorn balls. This would have been a great treat to make last week for P week, but alas I did not find it until later on. I saw it on The Frugal Family Fun blog and I knew it was something we had to make. The recipe is on the link. Ours didn't pour very well and so not all of the popcorn was covered in it. It made it a lot less sweet though which is a good thing! (If you haven't noticed I'm not really good at doing how-to's, tutorials, etc. but I'm good about linking to places that do have them!)

Nice action shot of the popcorn, eh?

M&M had renewed interest in her musical instruments this week. Here she is using her rhythm sticks as drumsticks. We made a drum out of an oat canister since we didn't have one. We'll probably decorate it sometime. You can't see it very well, but she has a microphone in between her legs that she is singing into. She wanted to sing and drum at the same time so that's the solution she came up with!
I thought M&M might like this next activity because it involves water. I found this idea here. I cut the top off of a cleaned out milk carton and a hole in the side. She was suppose to scoop the water out from the hole on the side and put it it the funnel on top. Most of it ended up on the ground. She didn't stick with this very long. I think I cut too much off of the side hole so not a lot of water could fit into it.

Not a lot this week, but we are doing the letter M this week. To check out what others have done in Tot School click here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday

M&M has always been a momma's girl. She wants to be anywhere I am, doing anything I am doing. Having a shadow all day can get a little bit old at times even though I love my daughter immensely! I just need some breathing room and space every once in a while. I saw a great idea on the Let's Explore blog. She got a little bucket and small pieces of paper where she wrote down all of the toys and craft supplies that they had. Then when the kids get bored they pick out a piece of paper and play with whatever they pick out! She calls them Idea Cards. I gave this a try this past week and it worked out so well. I actually have two buckets. One bucket is for things that M&M has to do alone and the other one is "mommy and me" activities. M&M asks to pick things out now. Examples of some of the things that I put on the cards are:

Color in coloring books, playdough, doll house, blocks, stuffed animals, foam stickers, puzzles, etc. These are all things that are not messy and she can do on her own. It's so funny because if I just suggest these things when she gets bored she says, no! But when she picks it out of the bucket she gets excited and plays by herself for a good amount of time. This has worked really well for us!

(This is another blog carnival that I really like, but I probably won't do it every week.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tackle It Tuesday

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

This is my very first Tackle It Tuesday post and I'm so excited because it means that I actually got something organized in my house. My pantry needed major re-organization. It is way too small for my needs so we decided to turn our coat closet into a makeshift food storage area. As I was sick a few weeks ago my hubby cleaned out the closet and set up shelves for me to put extra food on that didn't necessarily need to be in the pantry. (Maybe I should be sick more often because my husband hates to stay at home all day and get nothing done so he usually tackles some sort of project. ) :)

The before:

I started taking things off the shelf before I took a picture so just imagine the stuff in the pictures below on that third shelf from the bottom.
What I did: I bought some organizational containers at The Container Store (love that place!) to put packaged snacks in so that I wouldn't have a bunch of boxes. I also got the 3-tiered shelf there to put bottles and jars on. The most important and most effective thing that I got was the can roller shelf. I still need to get one more for the other cans. I also put my rice and pasta stuff in plastic containers. Doing this actually took up more room, but I like it a lot better still. The first two pictures are my pantry shelves, the third picture is the coat closet turned food storage and the last picture is the floor of the pantry where I bought some bins, at The Container Store where I put unopened flour and sugar bags, potatoes and onions and the third is for bags of chips because those are really annoying to store on the shelf because they take up too much room.

The after:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

This is my first time joining up with Menu Plan Monday. I'm really excited about doing this and getting better at doing it and following through on making the meals I plan. For right now I will just be putting main dishes down for dinner because I have a really hard time putting together side dishes beforehand...*sigh*. I will get better though, that's why I'm doing this. (Recipes to follow.)

Monday: Cheese-filled Jumbo Shells

Tuesday: Orange Chicken with bacon

Wednesday: Baked potatoes

Thursday: Tater Tot Casserole

Friday: Pizza

Cheese-filled Jumbo Shells
12 oz. Jumbo Shells
4 cups ricotta or cottage cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
3 eggs
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
3/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce

Cook jumbo shells according to pkg. directions for about 10 minutes; drain well. Cool in a single layer on wax paper to prevent sticking together. Mix together cheeses, eggs, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Fill each shell with about 2 Tbsp. of cheese mixture. Spread thin layer of sauce on bottom of 9x13-inch baking pan. Place the shells, open side down, in a single layer in the pan; over with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese, if desired. Cover with aluminum foil; bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Fills about 36 shells.

Orange Chicken with bacon
8 unskinned chicken breasts
Grated rind of 1 orange
3 Tbsp. white vinegar
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
1/3 c. fresh orange juice
1 finely chopped onion
16 slices of bacon

Marinate chicken in all ingredients except for the bacon overnight. Before cooking wrap two slices of bacon around each breast and secure with a toothpick. Grill over medium hot coals for approximately 35 minutes or until moist but firm. Chicken can also be baked in the oven at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

Tater Tot Casserole
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 can of cream of mushroom (or celery) soup
1/4 cup sour cream or 1/4 cup milk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 bag of frozen tater tots

In a skillet, brown ground beef. When beef is nearly done, toss in diced onion and cook until meat is done. Remove from heat, stir in soup and sour cream/milk. Taste, and add salt and pepper if needed. Spread in square (8 or 9-inch) casserole dish. Top with grated cheese and as many tater tots as can possibly fit (in one layer). Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, until bubbly and hot in the center.

Muffin Tin Monday

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

This is my first time joining up with Muffin Tin Monday. There is no theme this week so I just put together a quick lunch with what I had on hand.

In the cups: whipped yogurt with sprinkles, sliced cheese stick, ham roll-ups, broken up granola bar, ranch dressing, carrot sticks.

The ham roll-ups are a slice of ham with cream cheese spread on them, rolled-up and then cut with a toothpick in them. M&M loved these! She wouldn't eat the yogurt. The first year and a half of M&M's life she had a milk allergy so the only "dairy" she got was from soy milk. She grew out of this allergy, but will not drink milk or eat yogurt. I've tried different ways to present it to her to entice her to eat and drink them, but nothing has worked. I've tried giving her chocolate milk, different kinds of yogurt (whipped, yogurt sticks, etc.). The good thing is she does like cheese. She didn't like the granola bar either, but gobbled up the carrot sticks as usual.

Having the food in little pieces and in a muffin tin made it fun for M&M so I will definitely be continuing with Muffin Tin Monday!

Head on over to Her Cup Overfloweth for more fun ideas!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tot School - Letter P week

Tot School
M&M is currently 38 months old

We finally had a week of organized Tot School, well at least as organized as I can be. We did the letter P this week and I had a lot of fun things planned.

P is for Playdough. We couldn't have a letter P week without playing with playdough. M&M loves playdough. I used some ideas from a post I found called, "What can we do with playdough?"
I'll probably get this out a lot more because it's a good thing for M&M to do at the table while I am making dinner. Now that she's older she can do it by herself and be creative with what she does.

P is for Puzzle. We made a puzzle P using construction paper. I got this idea from here. We also did a P princess paper craft as well that I don't have a picture of, but I got the idea from here that has pictures of the process.

P is for Peanut Butter. I wanted to make Peanut Butter cookies, but when I told M&M we were making cookies she wouldn't get the idea out of her head that we were going to do Chocolate chip cookies. Toddlers can be pretty convincing so that's what we did. We actually ended up doing the letter P for two weeks and so we did end up making Peanut Butter cookies using this recipe.

While we made the peanut butter cookies M&M was in charge of turning the mixer on. Well she was doing great at turning it on just a little bit up until the point that I put the flour on. That's when the mixer got to speed #10 and poof! there was white everywhere. I thought it was really funny, but M&M was embarrassed and kept saying, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." I told her it was okay and once she saw me laughing she was fine.
P is for Pasta. I've been re-organizing our pantry (more on that in my Tackle it Tuesday post). While I was putting some pasta from boxes into plastic containers M&M wanted to help. It went along great with our letter P! Later on in the week I mixed a handful of different pastas (rotini, fiori, penne, macaroni, etc.) into a bowl and had M&M sort them. She loved this activity. Even though it's so easy for her she stayed with it until it was all done. That is a rarity for her.

P is for Princess. I got this miniature princess set for M&M for a $1 and she has played with it all week long. I can give her any little animal or figurine of any sort and she will sit there and play and talk for a long tim.
She also loves the wild animal figure set that I got for her at Target for $10. It came with a bunch of animals and trees. (I love our new Target that they built just down the street, Yay!)

P is for Puppets. I got these puppets on clearance from the Martha Stewart Craft section at Walmart. I really wanted to have get the puppet theater made that I have been planning on doing all summer long. I made progress, but didn't get it all done. I got the idea from here for those that would be interested in making one. I got my cardboard display board at Michaels for like $6.00.

P is for Pom Pom. I got these little mini silicone muffin tin things fro IKEA and M&M used tongs to put the pom poms into each of the cups. I got this idea from here.

More playdough fun. This is M&M's crocodile (I think). I love how she's starting to try and "sculpt" things out of playdough now. I love to see her creations.

P is for Puffy Paint. A few weeks ago Puffy paint was going around the mommy blog world like wildfire and I'm on the slow side of things so we just did it this last week. I've seen this on many blogs, but I used the recipe from here. I can't find the exact post, but the recipe I used is: 1 cup flour, 1 cup salt, 1 cup water. Basically equal parts of all three ingredients. We used Purple and Pink colors. And green, but for some reason that bottle wouldn't squeeze so we didn't use it. When we do projects like this M&M always wants me to do it too so our creations are pictured below.

I got these grow on your own princess and castle things. M&M likes to watch these grow, but I think they feel too slimey.

More ideas:
Popsicle Stick picture frames
Princess castle
Eat pudding, popcorn, pizza, pancakes.
Have a pillow fight
Put pennies in a piggy bank
Have a pajama party


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