Weekly Meal Plan #12: Attention Elsewhere

I woke up this morning to a filthy house, gargantuan laundry pile, and empty fridge. It was one of those moments where you look around and wonder, “When did my life start needing triage assessment?” The answer in my case: when Sweet Pea spiked a fever and we got to deal with a sick, snot-nosed toddler for five days in a row. Yes, while grading 90+ essays in the span of several days. Fun, fun, fun!

Happily, we are all still alive and Sweet Pea seems to be on the mend–though she still has a cough that would make a chronic smoker blush. Poor baby.

My goal this week is to keep up with housework and life stuff. Throw Halloween into the mix and you’ve got a very limited amount of effort from me re: meal planning.

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The Random: The Holy Yum chicken I honestly have yet to make with some sort of as-yet-to-be-determined side dish.

Vegetarian: Veggie Burgers (thank you, Trader Joe’s discovery in my freezer)

Pantry Challenge: BLTs (planning for laziness. What can I say?)

The Big Easy: Cabbage Beef Soup

Crockpot/Freezer: chicken quinoa casserole and some sort of roasted veggie side

Pizza/Pasta: My mom’s amazing chicken noodle soup (also good with turkey leftovers, especially if you add gravy to the broth). Yeah, so it’s not quite pasta… oops… remember, people, we’re sucking earthworms here.

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Weekly Meal Plan #11: Fatiguing Finale

Peanut Butter Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies with Carob/Chocolate ChipsWhat have we got going on this week? The last set of swim lessons! Family visits! College classes! Work! And an all-day Saturday professional development opportunity that requires commuting!

I’m already exhausted.

Meanwhile, Sweet Pea has grown obsessively fond of her morning snack cup filled with Cheerios and raisins. I’m beginning to think we need to break up her routine a little.

So while I won’t be cooking much during this hectic week, I do want to try out some breakfast cookies I pinned quite awhile ago. Hurray! New smells and crumbs for my husband’s car (he does the A.M. drop off). Poor man. He always kept a spotless automobile before we had Sweet Pea. Now, he’s convinced there’s a flock of birds that follow him in the morning to pick up the stray bits of breakfast that fall out of the car alongside Sweet Pea.

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Autumn Treat: Nanny Becky’s pumpkin muffins (mix together a can of pumpkin puree with a package of spice cake mix. Bake according to spice cake mix instructions. The end. Heck yeah!)

Breakfast-on-the-Go: Peanut Butter Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies

Pantry Challenge: Asian Pork, Mushroom, and Noodle Stir Fry

Vegetarian: Vegetarian Cowboy Beans with Corn Bread (I usually make my own buttermilk)

Crockpot/Freezer: slow cooker salsa chicken

Pizza/Pasta: loaded baked potato pizza from Clean Eating magazine (but I make my own crust)

Dream: What’s Yours?

Katie on GCB lamp post

May 2002: graduating from Brown University

“We have felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top. In our youth our hearts were touched with fire.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Okay, so Holmes was referencing the impact of the Civil War on an entire generation of Americans (as any good Ken Burns fan no doubt already knows).

Surprise, surprise: that’s not exactly where I’m going with this post. Instead, I’d like to start with the positive side of adolescence. And then let’s see where we go from there.

Too many people knock teenagers because they’re… well, not adults yet. True, they’re often irresponsible. And yeah, they often lack a crucial awareness of life’s practicalities. But you know what? That’s kind of the beauty of that age. Adolescents are dreamers. They’re idealists. They’re so energetic and excited about all the opportunities they’re sure life’s going to throw their way. As a high school teacher, I see this all the time. It’s one of the best parts of the job.

Frankly, I miss that spirit inside myself.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not some creep-o-saurus who wants to relive and/or improve upon her high school “glory days.” You could not pay me to relive the bumps of adolescence over again. Also, I’ve enjoyed every stage of my life and continue to grow, believing that the best is yet to come.

However.

That I’m-an-adult-now awareness of things like health insurance costs? It tends to have a dampening effect on one’s starry-eyed optimism. Who has time to dream about next year–or even next week–when there are papers to grade and towels to fold? I can’t dream big! I have to pay the phone bill.

And yet… I was a pretty ballsy seventeen-year-old. I willfully upset my parents and took on some pretty hefty debt to attend a college cross-country… on a campus, mind you, I had never seen until I got on a plane with two suitcases and a whole bunch of faith. I just had a gut feeling and a strong conviction that I should “go with it.” And you know what? It’s still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

That girl is still living inside me somewhere. Perhaps it’s time we became reacquainted.

Tsh over at Simple Mom wrote a post earlier this week reminding us all to dream big. So, yeah. Tonight I’m going to listen to some blues music, have a bit of cocoa, and dust off a few of my old dreams. Where is my gut actually telling me to go with my life? And how do I actually get there?

A question I haven’t asked myself in far too long. A question I’d like to ask all of my dear readers, as well! Do share, please.

Weekly Meal Plan #10: Pantry Challenge

Sweet Pea supervises her father's baking process

Sweet Pea supervises her father’s baking process

Recent career changes in our home forced my husband and I to take a good long look at our finances. We decided to modify our monthly budget… and by that, I mean we decided to start keeping one. This is still a fairly new concept for us (we always used to “guestimate” where our money meant, by which I mean we were well-intentioned but hadn’t a darn clue).

I anticipate an influx of new posts wholly devoted to budgeting. The relevant news for this particular post is that I’ve got big priorities in the kitchen: to reign in our grocery bill while (a) providing tasty, healthy food that (b) doesn’t take a year and a day to prepare.

And since this is a five-week month and I need to make a Costco trip to replenish staples, I’m trying to pinch every penny until it screams in supplication. Which doesn’t mean I’m willing to give up our autumnal treat! (Especially since we already purchased the sugar pie pumpkins…)

Behold, a week of attempting to eat what we already have around the house.

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Pumpkin/Apple Treat: pumpkin pie bread pudding and apple pie (Sweet Pea’s been begging to go to Grandma’s and make pie. Today’s the day!)

October $$$ Saver: making my own bread this week! (I promise to post the full recipe later. Really.)  

The Random: Holy Yum Chicken with beet roesti

Vegetarian: Mark Bittman’s lentil soup

Pantry Challenge: easy cheesy zucchini bake with pork chops and Seeds of Change quinoa (I plan to fry the pork chops with a bit of South African smoke seasoning)

The Big Easy: crockpot lasagna with garlicky beet greens on the side (just chop up the beet greens and sauté them with garlic. So good!)  

Crockpot/Freezer: chicken enchilada soup

Pizza/Pasta: Traci’s macaroni and cheese