Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Menu Planning - Week 3

Because I'm not gonna get a chance to do this later ... and for Kathy - cause my menus are so amazing you'll want to make the same thing as us (ha ha ha ha!)

Saturday/Sunday - Deonne in town (i.e. he gets to figure out what to feed the children - I'm guessing grilling of some sort...)

Monday - crazy kid day
Dinner out at Tio's (which by the way - kids eat free at Tio's on Mondays - and it's right across the street from Town Theatre where Anna's acting class gets out at 7:00 - yes, you read that right, 7:00, which is why we eat out immediately following.  Local peeps - you should try it!)

Tuesday -
Pumpkin Cheddar Mac and Cheese
Salad (greens + apples + goat cheese + craisins + raspberry dressing) for the older kids and I
Frozen peas for Mr. Picky (Jack)

Wednesday -
Church programs and dinner

Thursday -
Turkey Meatloaf with Feta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Oven roasted new potatoes
Steamed zucchini

Friday - Grandma Shelby overnight to help with children
Dinner out (TBD)

Saturday -
Baked Pumpkin Donut Holes
Scrambled Eggs
Turkey Sausage

Shelby with children - sandwiches, apples, and pretzels

Dinner: Movie Night!
Turkey Sausage Calzones

Monday, October 15, 2012

Menu Planning - Week 2

Did I just commit to planning our menus?  Funny how planning to plan is now an activity on my momAgenda.  Awesome.

So this week is nutty - with lots going on and very limited time at home (not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing - less cooking for me - but getting home late with the kids is never a good thing...)  At any rate - going forward:

Saturday - (past tense) - Oktoberfest at Incarnation Lutheran

Sunday - Pumpkin Pasta, Fall Salad (because we didn't eat it last week - took a spur of the minute trip up to the NC orchards and didn't make - thank goodness I had the brains to freeze the sausage and everything else was either in the pantry or had a long expiration date)

Monday - Crazy kid activity night - dinner out at Tios

Tuesday - Grandparents Day and Early Release for Anna and James
- pick up kids at the BL Fireman Spaghetti dinner fundraiser

Wednesday - Church Programs and Dinner

Thursday -  Butterfly Pasta (Jack's never ending request)
*Modification of Kathy's Broccoli Pasta:
1 lb. bow-tie pasta (or as Jack says butterfly)
1 lb. turkey Italian sausage
1 head broccoli (cut into small pieces)
Parmesan cheese

Brown sausage in non-stick skillet and set aside.  Boil pasta according to package directions for al dente.  5 minutes prior to end of cooking time, toss in broccoli and cook until bright green and tender and pasta is al dente.  Drain.  Return to pasta pot, add sausage, stir to combine.  Toss with grated cheese.  

Friday - Family Trip to the State Fair

Maybe next week I'll actually cook.

Could happen - you just never know.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Menu Planning: Week 1

I've realized that I must get myself organized in order to face the dinnertime rush with my children.  It's hard to run in the door at 5 or 5:30 and get dinner on the table - and even moreso when I'm not sure what I'm feeding them and have to scramble through the freezer or pantry to put something together.

I used to be pretty good at meal planning - and then the Great Move of 2012 began - and I was thrown off-kilter.  And my former method of scratching out recipes and shopping lists on random scraps of paper isn't working so well anymore - when I rush out of the office and forget the list - and wander around the grocery store with my ever helpful brood of children trying to remember what it was we were going to fix.

So - in an effort to keep the plan easily accessible - with recipes and ingredients close at hand (as long as I don't lose my phone) - I'm planning to keep record here.  Boring, I know, but necessary.  At least for now.

So without further ado - here is our week - starting tonight.  Now if I can just figure out how to get to the grocery store today to get ingredients ready - I'll be all set.

October 5 - October 12 (dinners)

Friday - Family Movie Night
Fruit (grapes + apples)

Saturday -
Fall salad (greens + apples + goat cheese + pecans)

Sunday -

Monday - 
Eat out - crazy kid activity day

Tuesday -

Wednesday -
Church dinner

Thursday -

Friday - Family Movie Night

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Scarecrows in the Garden (and a shameless plug)

Our kids love the scarecrow exhibit that happens each October at the Historic Columbia Foundation's Hampton-Preston mansion.  It's fun to wander around the historic gardens and see the cool scarecrows that local businesses and proprietors create.  In fact, the kids love it SO much that they're prone to ask when they can go back and see the scarecrows every time we happen to drive by the location.  Every.  Time.  Even in February. 

In an effort to keep my sanity and not go crazy with three kids all day long on weekends the kids busy while we're going through this separation from Deonne, I've been scouring local events to figure out what we can do that's manageable and cheap/free with the kids.  When I happened to see that families could participate in the making of a scarecrow for the annual exhibit for a nominal fee - I knew we were on to something.  Turns out the scarecrow-construction workshop was the same weekend as Anna's birthday - which meant Deonne would be in town.  Even better.  

Next came determining a good theme for our family scarecrow.  We first thought a superhero of some sort would be good - but that was nixed because I couldn't come up with anything creative or catchy - I mean what sort of superpower could a scarecrow have?  (As Nici pointed out - warding off bird poop?)  When that failed - I turned to classic literature - and landed on Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins is a favorite in our house - the kids love the movie - sing the songs on a regular basis - and when I started imagining a Mary Poppins scarecrow - it started to come together - and thus, "Scary Poppins" was born.

A trip to Goodwill for a hat, shoes, dress, handbag and overcoat, Hobby Lobby for some fake daisies, cherries, and black spray paint (to cover the hat), and Target for an umbrella, gloves, and scarf - and we were set.

Oh, the kids were excited.  They had a great time stuffing her innards with hay - and Anna loved being the artist to draw her face on the pillowcase.  She looked adorable.  

After she was all put together and looking lovely, Deonne asked me - now what - how do we put her up?  To which I replied - that's your job.  I came up with the creative part - you're the engineer - you figure out how to hang her from the tree.

You can't really see it in the photographs, but that big piece of paper sticking out of her bag is the 'letter' that Jane and Michael wrote at the beginning of the film when they knew they needed a new nanny - you know - the one that Mr. Banks ripped up - tossed in the fireplace - that Mary Poppins magically pulled out and reassembled on her cloud above London.  Yeah - so I typed and printed the lyrics to that song out, ripped it up, and then laminated it back together so it looked like the one in the film (yet protected from weather.)  Am I a genius or what?  (sarcasm)

And at her feet is another sign '17 Cherry Tree Lane' - the Banks' address.  I wanted to do more with the address - but we sort of ran out of time.  In fact, I was spray painting and hot gluing daisies and cherries on her hat the morning of Anna's birthday party - right before we headed to Crepes and Croissants!

So following the creation and installation of Scary Poppins, Historic Columbia had the official exhibit opening last Sunday.  A fun little afternoon with crafts and snacks for the kids, a chance to see the scarecrows up close (all of them), a scavenger hunt, that sort of thing.  And, judging.  Now, in the car ride to the opening - Anna asked 'what do we get if we win?' to which I went into this long diatribe of how winning isn't important - that we had fun together with their daddy was the most important thing - and there is no prize for winning, rather the satisfaction of knowing that you created a great scarecrow.

I don't think she was convinced.  

Especially when they announced the winners - and the Long Family Scary Poppins was announced as the First Place Family Entry.  Woot! Woot!  The kids were SOOOOOOOO excited!!!  They proudly marched up the steps to receive their 'trophy' - a cool ornament that looks like a scarecrow - and a cash prize (that I had no idea existed - until I took the envelope James was carrying around away from him - because he was spilling green goblin juice all over it - and discovered the prize.)

Anna said 'this is my first trophy ever!  The first time I've ever won first place in anything!'  And you know what?  I think it's mine too.  

The only thing that would have made receiving the award sweeter would have been for Deonne to be with us (seeing as he's the one who had to figure out how to string her from the tree and all...)  

So are you interested in seeing our competition? Thought you might.  If you're local - I encourage you to go see the exhibit in person - it's free - just drive over to Hampton-Preston, check in at the gift shop at the Robert Mills house, and wander away (and don't forget to cast your vote for your favorite scarecrow - whoever that might be....)

And if you're not a local reader - visit the Historic Columbia facebook page - and 'like' your favorite one for the people's choice award.  I won't be checking or anything....

Monday, October 1, 2012

Joyeaux Anniversaire

Ever since Anna started taking French classes as a wee kindergartner, she's become a total Francophile.  She loves all things French, gasps at the sight of any French item (Eiffel Tower, mention of the word Paris, etc...) and is convinced that she will one day live along the streets of Paris as a famous artist.

Who knows - the kid just might.

When her birthday rolled around - she requested a big Hawaiian Luau - complete with grass skirts, lei's, and hula dancing with all of her friends.  I said 'no.  We're keeping it small this year.  You can have five friends over for a sleepover.'  She was disappointed - but agreed (reluctantly) - and perked up considerably when I showed her the invitation I created for her Parisian Themed party.

 As part of her French obsession - she adores Crepes and Croissants - a new restaurant that opened in downtown Columbia.  The proprietor is actually French - and employees the same - so not only is the food authentic but so are the people working there.  In fact, when I took Anna by for the first time, she immediately recognized the girl behind the counter as one of her French substitute teachers.  How is it that my kid knows more people in Columbia than I do?

At any rate, I figured to make things easy - we'd do a sleepover on Friday night - a few sweet treats, some French Fashion paper dolls, a Barbie French Fashion movie - and then the next morning, have the big activity - a special trip to C&C where Laurent (chef and owner) would demonstrate the art of crepes and the girls could have their fill.

I made things REALLY easy.  As in - cashed in a gift certificate to Cupcake to have Anna's birthday 'cake' made.  Red velvet mini cupcakes with cream cheese icing + vanilla mini cupcakes with chocolate icing = happy girl + not-overtired mama.  Win - Win.

I have to admit - I did feel a little bit guilty that I didn't make any baked goods for this girl's birthday...

Thankfully I have amazing friends like Nici - who made the most amazing Eiffel Tower sugar cookies.  Not only were they delicious - but beautiful - and worth every single bad word she said sweet thought she uttered when she made them for Anna.

The morning after the sleepover (which is a bit of a misnomer - I discovered this year that five little girls nearing age eight don't really sleep - rather - they squeal and scream a lot...) the girls got their goody-bags ... a red beret, red shorts, and t-shirt with the same logo as the invite (thank you Photoshop.)  And then it was off to C&C.

I couldn't help thinking 'In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines, the youngest one was Madeleine...'  or in our case, six little girls in one zig-zag line...

Laurent and Amandine made things really special.  I think they were excited to have a little girl's birthday party at their restaurant.  The girls had their own table reserved for them, that they had decorated in balloons, and where they placed flowers that Deonne had sent in advance for Anna.

 I was a bit nervous about how the girls would react to the crepes - some aren't the most adventurous eaters - and notoriously picky.  However, each little girl carefully chose her crepe - ranging from ham and cheese to nutella to just cheese - and after watching Laurent make them on the big crepe irons - enjoyed every single bite.  (Emma said 'it looks really gross but it tastes really yummy' in reference to her nutella crepe.)

And then it was time for 'joyeaux anniversaire' - and Amandine came out with a homemade cake for Anna - and sang her 'happy birthday' in French.

It was a really great time - and I think Anna thoroughly enjoyed it.  She got to have the company of her bestest buddies, to savor one of her favorite treats, and the best part (as she says) had her Daddy home for the weekend to celebrate together.

 Happy Happy Birthday my Sweet Anna.  I love you more than I can ever say.