Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What happens when Mom decides to have a play day

I was gone all day today playing tourist. We have a visitor staying with us all this week and I wanted to take her to my favorite "day-trip" city ..... Segovia. We got in around 8pm or so (the hubby was off today so he took care of the kids after school) and princess was needing to "confess" what she had been up to today to Mommy. The picture is posted as a "wordless Wednesday post" here. Hmmm. I remembered another similar event back a few years ago and I found the old post and photo from my other blog. I think I am seeing a pattern here ... when Mom's away ....

I came home from the monthly ladies’ meeting at church
and discovered that little Miss Picasso had been busy.
There was black marker scribbled all over the hallway walls
in four places. Tim called her over and pointed to the wall
and asked, “What’s this?”
“Marker.” (It’s one of her favorite words although it sounds
more like mar-care.”
They walked to the second spot. “Princess, what’s this?”
Repeat scene at spot 3 and 4. Then Tim firmly pointed
to the last and largest spot and said “Princess, NO!” at which
point her big smile at being able to use her new favorite word
melted into big crocodile tears. Mommy and the budding artist went to work
cleaning up the mess (not TOO big a job thanks to Mr. Clean
Magic Eraser and the fact that we only allow washable markers
in this household.)

WW: X marks the spot

Guess who will be mixing a little elbow grease and giving a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser a work out tomorrow afternoon after she gets home from school?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Thanksgiving Spread

Head on over to Looking Toward Heaven to see what others have on their menu and pick up a few new recipes to try too.

We sat down as a family and set the menu for Thursday. We still don´t know for sure how many guests are coming so if all 9 decide to come we will add the ham to the menu to help stretch the turkey.

Turkey and gravy
mashed potatoes
sweet potatoes
Broccoli casserole
Cauliflower with hollandaise sauce
corn (still up in the air)
cranberry sauce
jello salad
Oatmeal dinner rolls or fresh hot bread from the Shell station around the corner
pumpkin bread

Beverages: apple juice, cranberry juice, grape juice, Sprite, water, KoolAid

Dessert: chocolate pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie or apple crisp, whipped cream

Here is the recipe for the rolls. I love them but the consensus was to pass on them if I didn´t have the time to do them this year.

Oatmeal dinner rolls

2 cups water
1 cup quick cooking oats
3 Tablespoons butter
2 (1/4 oz) envelopes active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
4 cups flour
1 ¾ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in saucepan. Stir in the oats and butter. Boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool to 110 degrees. Stir together yeast, ½ cup warm water, and 1 tsp. sugar in a 2 cup measuring cup. Let stand 5 minutes to proof the yeast.
Beat oat mixture, yeast mixture, flour, salt and brown sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (aprox. 5 minutes). Place in a well greased bowl turning to grease top Cover and let rise in a warm place free form drafts aprox 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch down the dough, divide in half and shape each portion into 16 balls. Place evenly into 2 lightly greased 9 inch round cake pans. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Yield 32 rolls.

Monday Meanderings: November19-25

Last week was quite profitable, at least in regards to the Must Do list. Health forms still need to be mailed but the expense reports did get mailed in and reimbursed. Did the exercising once but changed my route and plan a bit and I think the new plan will work better. Family fun was changed to letting one son have a friend for a sleepover Friday. I also set my oldest son up with his own blog. That is something he has been wanting for a while.

Thanks to Tiany's idea to post our goals and plans for the week.

Bible Study/Devotional plan: I´m still enjoying this study on Thanksgiving and there is so much there I am just going to work my way through it until Thanksgiving Day .. and if I'm not finished I will stay with it through the end of November.

Must Do:

1. Financial-- Mail health insurance claim forms.
2. School -- Find out Tuesday if I am doing the Thanksgiving presentation. Help the "PTA" Moms roast chestnuts for the elementary open house Friday.
3. Exercise -- Go walking at least 2 times.
4. FUN- Thanksgiving Dinner, hopefully with some good friends over to share it with us.

Zone: I need to do crisis cleaning this week to get the house ready for Thanksgiving guests and then houseguests that come in on Saturday. Will set the timer for 15 minutes and go from room to room doing general pickup and clearing out hotspots.

Train Them Up: We're going to continue to work on memorizing Psalm 100. We read it together each night before dinner. The goal is to do it all from memory on Thanksgiving day.

Menu Planning:

Breakfast- cereal
School Snack- apple slices and/or pepper slices and cheese
Mid-day meal- spaghetti
Evening meal- leftover broccoli soup or lentils from last week

Breakfast- bran muffins
School Snack- bran muffin/ bocadillo
Mid-day meal- Arroz con 3 delicias (from frozen section)with chicken and scrambled eggs added in
Evening meal- Something quick and easy from a can plus whatever I can clear out of the fridge to make room for Thanksgiving food items

Breakfast- Maria cookies with hot chocolate
School Snack- apple/ muffin or croissant
Mid-day meal- French bread pizza
Evening meal- omelettes

Breakfast- cold cereal
School Snack- croissant sandwich for Princess, fruit for boys (apple or clementina)
Mid-day meal- The full Thanksgiving spread
Evening meal- pick at leftovers

Breakfast- oatmeal
School Snack- kids' choice
Mid-day meal- Turkey leftovers
Evening meal- probably more leftovers unless the kids catch me in a good mood to make pizza again.

Lunch/dinner: macaroni and cheese with ham slices, broccoli

Sunday We have houseguests arriving Saturday night. Don´t know if they will want to stay in town after church to do any sightseeing. (The Prado art museum is free on Sundays). If so, we´ll probably hit McDonald´s or Burger King for lunch and then see the sights before heading home.

Don´t forget to head on over to Laura´s for more menu plans.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Overheard at the dinner table

No names will be used to protect the "innocent".

Tonight at the dinner table one of my children turns to his Dad and says,"Daddy, look! I just popped the button on my pants."

With hardly a pause for a breath, he follows up with "Can I have 3rd helping of mashed potatoes?"

Monday, November 12, 2007

Another favorite recipe : Cream of zucchini soup

Here's one of our family favorites that I learned how to make from a Spanish lady in our church. The key to this being an easy soup to make is an immersion (stick) blender. I tried making this for my parents once when I went home to Massachusetts for a visit and had to blend the soup in small batches in their blender and it was kind of a pain and time consuming. But with the stick blender I have here it is done in a flash.

Cream of Zucchini soup (I think it sounds better in Spanish -- Crema de Calabazin)

Start with these ingredients. I use greater quantities to feed my hungry crowd and hopefully have a little leftover for another day.

2 or 3 large zucchini
1 or 2 large potatoes
1/2 medium onion
olive oil
salt and pepper
ground nutmeg

Peel zucchini and slice into thin slices. Chop onions. In a medium to large pot cover bottom with olive oil and heat oil. Add zucchini and onion and stir well to coat veggies with oil. Saute and then add a pinch of salt and cover the pot to cause the veggies to "weep" and cook until soft, stirring often so the onions don't burn. Add a splash of water if needed but usually there is enough water in the squash to keep it from burning. Just keep the cover on.

Peel potatoes and cut into cubes. In a seperate pot cover potatoes with water and boil over medium heat. Sprinkle top of the water with nutmeg. Cook until potatoes are tender (as if you were going to mash them).

When zucchini is tender, remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, add the potatoes to the zucchini and onion. Blend well using a stick blender or transfer the veggies in batches to your blender, adding some of the potato water to thin it down. Once the veggies are well blended and smooth, thin to soup consistency with the cooking water from the potatoes and milk. I once made this for my lactose intolerant brother in law and used no milk and it was still good, but I like to go at least half and half water/milk when I make it for our family. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish if desired with chives or bacon bits.

End up with this .... a creamy bowl of hot soup to take the chill away.

Monday Meanderings: Nov. 12-18

We managed to stick to the menu plan pretty well last week and went for a whole week without a visit to the clinic. That streak ended this morning with a trip to urgent care with my 10 year old who has a double ear infection. This week's plan is still heavy on things I already have in my pantry. We may even be able to skip or pare down the purchases at the weekly fruit and veggie market and then shop heavier the day before Thanksgiving. We'll see.
My son and I were sick and stayed home from church yesterday morning. He put me to shame as I was up helping the rest of the family get ready and then was thinking about going back to bed. He knew he should stay home because he felt bad and also to keep from infecting the rest of the church but he wanted to make sure we had some kind of Bible study and preaching time. So, I found a Bible study online on Thanksgiving and we took a half hour or so and just looked up all the verses that were on one little section of the outline. Then we found a sermon on cd from our sending church and listened to one of Dr. Doran's messages from July. It was a little over my son's head but concluded with a very practical and easy to understand application so all in all it was a very profitable time together.

Thanks to Tiany's idea to post our goals and plans for the week.

Bible Study/Devotional plan: Taking a break from my regular reading plan. Found this study on Thanksgiving and there is so much there I am just going to work my way through it until Thanksgiving Day .. and if I'm not finished I will stay with it through the end of November.

Must Do: I'm so glad to say that last week's must do's got done (except for the exercise one). Shooting for success again this week.
1. Financial-- Mail health insurance claim forms for today's Dr. visit, send in expense report by tonight's deadline
2. School -- Teacher conference today, still working on trying to get into the school to present Thanksgiving sometime this month.
3. Exercise -- Go walking at least 2 times (5km route)
4. FUN- help the kids finish their mini movies and burn them to DVD's to share with their friends. Begin working on a photo cd or family movie to share with family back home at Christmas.

Zone: Do Flylady´s challenges for the MAIN BATHROOM and the OFFICE this week .

Train Them Up: We're going to continue to work on memorizing Psalm 100. We read it together each night before dinner. This week we need to start covering up sections to see how much we can say without looking. The goal is to do it all from memory on Thanksgiving day.

Menu Planning:

Breakfast- cereal & toast
School Snack- crackers and cheese
Mid-day meal- cream of zucchini soup, pizza topped chicken patties, coleslaw
Evening meal- leftovers

Breakfast- bran muffins
School Snack- bran muffin or pumpkin cookies/ bocadillo
Mid-day meal- tuna sandwhiches
Evening meal- baked pork chops, fresh green beans, rice

Breakfast- oatmeal
School Snack- apple/ croissant with Nocilla
Mid-day meal- homemade lentils with chorizo over rice
Evening meal- something light or use up last week's market veggies to make fridge space

Breakfast- cold cereal
School Snack- croissant sandwich for Princess, fruit for boys (apple or clementina)
Mid-day meal- landlubbers paella or chicken/rice stir fry (still haven't decided between the two)
Evening meal- chicken noodle soup and crackers

Breakfast- Maria cookies with hot chocolate
School Snack- kids' choice
Mid-day meal- egg salad sandwiches, raw veggies (cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, pepper strips)
Evening meal- homemade pizza or pepperoni stromboli

Lunch/dinner: leftovers

Sunday spaghetti and meatsauce
Don´t forget to head on over to Laura´s for more menu plans.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Works for me Wednesday: November Backwards day

Today is the first Wednesday of the month and so instead of sharing something that works for me, I get to ask my readers for help in an area I am floundering in. Thanks to all of you that left comments the last time we did this.

Today I'd like to ask for suggestions and links to Thanksgiving related classroom ideas. I am meeting with the elementary English teacher (hopefully) next week and am going to ask if I may be allowed to come into the classrooms to present and explain the American holiday of Thanksgiving Day. They are jumping all over the whole Halloween thing here in Spain, and I would sure love to see a presentation of a bit more "wholesome" holiday from our side of the Atlantic. I plan to offer a short presentation of the history of the holiday, explanation of a typical modern-day Thanksgiving celebration, and if time allows have a time where each student comes up with something they are thankful for and I translate into English to give them some new vocabulary (like: family, pet, toys, health, etc.) I could also bring various coloring papers with various Thanksgiving related scenes. I would love to bring an item or two of food for tasting. I was thinking of cranberry juice (I have found it here and could give each child a teeny amount in a dixie cup).
This is what I need:
1. Any links to free printable coloring pages.
2. Ideas of other food items that I could make and then cut or divide into bitesize tastes.
3. Any other ideas you have that I may not have thought of yet.

Thank you in advance.

Oh, and if you're feeling especially helpful, head on over to Shannon's Works-for-me-Wednesday page and see what others are asking about.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tackling the Living Room for Fall

The first week of November is almost gone. The pumpkins were carved and discarded already. Well intentioned plans from 3 weeks ago to pull out the fall decorations for the house have not yet materialized. But TODAY IS THE DAY! Over the weekend I rearranged the furniture in the living room. It was just a matter of swapping the couch and TV/VCR bookcase but it took a bit of doing because of the mess of cords and speaker wires and all. As I looked at the living room arrangement the way it was, there was no place to put our Christmas tree come December. Might as well take care of that now when I had some time on my hands. There is still a bunch of clutter to deal with and then I will pull out my favorite decorations and enjoy some autumn beauty for a few weeks. Since I don't get any dramatic color change in the leaves outside, I'll have to settle for the silk leaf garlands and other fall reminders of home. Here are some before pictures (to shame me into making sure I finish this job today so I can post the after pictures before I head to bed tonight.)
Of course the whole thing will lack the special touch my sisters-in-law have for decorating .... but it will be a whole lot better than it is now.

Come back later for the after shots. And head on over to 5 Minutes for Mom to see what others are tackling this week.

This hutch is just crying to be decluttered to become the home for my autumn village.

The TV has moved over to a corner but the clutter, especially by the desk still needs to be addressed today.

I forgot to take a picture of the couch area when I took the other shots last week. This was an old picture but it shows the old furniture arrangement we had with the couch in front of the doors to the balcony.

THE AFTER SHOTS -- Actually the room is still a work in process. I know I have a box or two of other fall decorations, figurines, etc. but I can't get to the box right now. So this is as far as I can go and it may be all I do. Except, there are some serving dishes and table decorations in the boxes that I will probably want for Thanksgiving day. I am pleased with the changes and motivated to attack a few other areas in our home, to see if I can get them ready for the holidays as well.

This set of houses (that have lights inside them) are just inexpensive ones from a local drug store back in Michigan but they always make me smile when I see them. I love how they look all lit up with the room lights turned off.

I came home from an errand and my dear hubby had moved the table (rotated it 90 degrees) and I love how much nicer the dining area feels now. He also set the table and had dinner ready to go. (Of course, it helped immensely that I had the stew in the crockpot.)

I have more fall decorations in a box somewhere and I may even dig out some of my fall Boyd's figurines to put on my new shelf that we bought this past summer on my anniversary trip. For now, at least the shelf and desktop are uncluttered.

The new location of the couch has not changed it's comfort level in the least.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Monday Meanderings: November 5-11

Last week I had every intention of blogging and posting my menu plan for the week and everything. I planned out the menu and posted it on the fridge but needed to get some things done around the house on Monday and told myself that I wasn't allowed to get on the computer until things were done. (I have a real tendency to get sidetracked and stay on for hours before realizing it.) By the time I was "allowed" to get on the computer, it was too late. Then Tuesday I started getting sick and the rest of the week was spent dealing with sickness in the family. 4 visits to the clinic, 3 people on antibiotic (myself included), 1 on cough medicine, way way way too many euros spent at the clinic and the pharmacy (my antibiotic alone was 40 euros!)and let's just say that I never got around to blogging. Fortunately I went shopping for meat Tuesday morning and stocked the freezer up a little. Unfortunately all those medical bills put a serious dent in the monthly budget so I will be doing some serious frugal ingredients-from-the-pantry type meals in the menu this week (and most likely for as long as I can get away with it).

Thanks to Tiany's idea to post our goals and plans for the week.

Bible Study/Devotional plan: Sticking with the same reading plan. Now on week 45.
Must Do:
1. Financial-- Fill out, copy and mail health insurance claim forms
2. School -- Meet with English teacher to see if she will let me come into the classrooms and present American Thanksgiving to the students.
3. Exercise -- Go walking at least 2 times (5km route)
4. FUN- Get out autumn decorations and decorate the living room with fall beauty. (Yes, I am still working on this one! I rearranged the furniture and tomorrow's tackle is to finish the job of straightening up and decorating for fall).

Zone: Do Flylady´s challenges for the KITCHEN this week and finish up with the living room.

Train Them Up: I think we need to ALL work on the concept of being thankful. When my two oldest were in kindergarten/First grade they memorized Psalm 100. I just found the page I typed up to help one of them learn it. It is now posted on the dining room door. I think we will work on this as a family memorization project and shoot to be able to quote it together on Thanksgiving day.

Menu Planning:

Breakfast- cereal
School Snack- leftover pizza from last night (proof positive that the gang is still not 100% healthy as we NEVER have leftovers when I make homemade pizza.)
Mid-day meal- egg salad sandwiches
Evening meal- Crockpot split pea soup with Kielbasa New recipe which turned out to be delicious!

Breakfast- oatmeal
School Snack- Great pumpkin cookies/ bocadillo with salami and cheese
Mid-day meal- grilled cheese sandwiches
Evening meal- beef stew and biscuits

Breakfast- cold cereal
School Snack- apple/ peanut butter crackers
Mid-day meal- chicken and gravy over rice
Evening meal- omelettes

Breakfast- bran muffins
School Snack- croissant sandwich for Princess, fruit for boys
Mid-day meal- baked burritos
Evening meal- broccoli casserole (with ham cubes?)

Breakfast- cold cereal
School Snack- tortilla rollups
Mid-day meal- tuna sandwiches
Evening meal- homemade pizza (usually not that frugal but we stocked up on pepperoni and mozzarella at the wholesale club so we have the ingredients on hand)

Lunch/dinner: leftovers
Sunday spaghetti and meatballs
Don´t forget to head on over to Laura´s for more menu plans.

recipes: broccoli casserole and homemade pizza

Here are a couple of the recipes on this week's menu.

Broccoli Casserole (I have to double this for my family of 6)

10 oz. pkg frozen broccoli thawed and chopped. (It is easier to chop when slightly frozen … thaw by running warm water over the broccoli in a strainer, then squeeze out excess water.

1 containers (8 oz) cottage cheese

3 eggs, slightly beaten

4 tsp flour

¼ cup margarine (I just put pats of butter in the mix … It can be too greasy if you use the full amount)

optional: grated cheese

Chop broccoli. Place in large casserole dish. Add cottage cheese, eggs, flour and butter. Stir well to combine ingredients.

Bake at 350 (180 C) for one hour. Top with grated cheese, if desired, and return to oven for 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

Homemade pizza dough (thanks again to my friend Karen who shared this with me many years ago)

2 to 2.5 cups flour
1 pkg rapid rise yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup warm water (approx 120 degrees F)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon honey

Mix together 2 cups flour, yeast and salt in large mixing bowl. Add oil and honey to warm water in measuring cup and stir well. Add to flour mixture and mix well. (Or if using regular yeast, sprinkle yeast over water and let stand 5 minutes. Then add oil and honey and add to the flour.)
Mix and knead on lightly floured board until elastic.
Wash, dry and oil bowl. Let dough rise in bowl until doubled in size (40-60 minutes depending on what kind of yeast you use.)
Shape and bake with your favorite toppings. 10 to 15 minutes at 450 degrees.