Monday, August 27, 2012

MIA. . . . . The Queen is Back!

It's been a long time since my last post. . .. .

Too long. . . .

So long that I kind of got out of the blogging groove.

It's time to get back into the groove.

Let me catch you up on a few things that have been happening around here, no particular order of significance. Just a few things as they pop into my head, and the 3 year old is playing Polly Pockets quietly in the family room.

1. Summer was great!
I so enjoyed having the girls at home all day, despite the bickering that 3 girls can do. We made many fun memories, saw lots of friends and family, and tried our best to stay cool during the hot, dry days!  We loved the pool, VBS, vacations, movies, crossing items off our Summer Buckets Lists, playdates, and eating popsicles daily.

2. My freezer is well stocked with summer produce!
Despite the drought and the heat, I managed to take advantage of lots of summer produce at the farmers' markets. I froze lots of strawberries, peaches, blueberries, blackberries, zucchini, beans, and corn. I love having these items to use throughout the cold weather months.

3. I read a lot of books this summer!
My bookshelf was full all summer long with a wide variety of titles. I tried to squeeze in lots of reading while we were on vacation and in the evenings. While I prefer to read outside in the warm weather, it was so stinkin' hot this year, I spent most of my evenings in the AC on the couch. I was quite inspired by The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. I realized how many women (and men) really want to become better cooks, but they just don't know how or where to start. It got me to thinking about how I might be able to inspire others to take baby steps to becoming more confident in their own kitchens. I also read up on food blogging, food photography, Facebook, and Twitter trying to decide what direction this blog might take in the future.

4. I joined the Pampered Chef Team as a Consultant!
I have attended many Pampered Chef parties over the years and feel they do make quality products. After much prayer and discernment, I was inspired to join the team in late July.  I have had lots of fun learning more about PC products and trying out lots of PC recipes. I'm specializing in Cooking Shows that feature budget friendly, easy to fix, family favorite meals. I'm using many PC recipes, but also some of my own. I've had 4 parties so far, and I hope to continue to do 4 parties a month. I may be blogging a bit about these experiences, too.

5. The girls are back in school!
Three girls, three schools, three schedules. It's going to be a challenge this year! Menu planning and easy meals are key to keeping my sanity!  I can't believe how quickly they have grown up. My oldest is 6th grade, the middle one 3rd grade, the baby is in preschool! Seriously. .. where did the time go? I'm often reminded of the wisdom of a mentor mom many years ago, "These days are long, but the years are short." I'm grateful for these exhausting days. Cooking helps me stay focused and is a creative outlet for me.

6. My pantry is organized and inventoried!
My first task of the school year was to clean out my kitchen junk drawer. Too many times over the summer the kitchen island got cluttered, so I did the ol' "dump it all in the junk drawer before the doorbell rings" a few too many times. I found all kinds of odds and ends. That inspired me to then move on from the junk drawer to our other cabinets, kitchen pantry, and mudroom pantry. I am proud to say I didn't find anything too out of date, but I did find a couple of things I had forgotten about. I also made a list of the items I need to restock in my pantry so that I can put together meals easily on busy nights (boxes of pasta, etc). We did a good job of eating up what we had over the summer, so it's time for a couple of big stock up trips in the next few weeks.

7. I've been experimenting with some different bread recipes.
I still have not perfected bread the way I had hoped to. I read just last week on another blog that it's possible to make the Artisan Bread in the crock pot! I tried it last week; not completely satisfied with the results, so I'll keep testing and keep you posted. I still want to learn how to make good, easy sandwich bread.

8. Our goal for the coming school year is to sit down for dinner nightly as a family.
I've plugged in all the dates on the calendar for the upcoming school year, and it looks like we'll still be able to manage having dinner together nightly. We have a couple evenings where we may only 4 of us around the table (my middle daughter will be at gymnastics over the dinner hour), but I have a few ideas in mind so that she can eat what we're eating either before or after practice.

9. Our goal is to spend around $100 a week for groceries for the 5 of us.
We went to an all cash grocery budget in January, and most weeks it's very doable to get us all well fed for under $100 if I watch the in store specials and use coupons. I still put very processed foods into our cart, although those potato chips and ice cream seem to make their way into our cart every week! Having a well stocked freezer and pantry helps. This could not be possible without a weekly/monthly menu plan. I don't always stick to it 100%. Flexibility is key, but having a plan helps immensely.

10. I have organized many of my recipes.
One of the goals to starting this blog in January was for me to organize my recipes. I have done that. I have only posted a handful of the recipes that I have typed into my computer and placed in my recipe binders. I like to include pictures because I know that inspires readers, but finding time to photograph every item I make is time consuming and became a bit stressful when my photo didn't turn out the way I wanted it to. I had to keep reminding myself that one of my goals was to just get the recipes organized. And that I did.

So, that's been my last several weeks of random thoughts and projects.  What about you?

What's been filling your days?

What goals do you have for the upcoming school year?

How can I help you make mealtimes/snack times/family times more enjoyable?

1 comment:

  1. Jill! So glad you're back!! I need help with menu planning...I don't know how/where to start and we're on a limited budget as well. Can you share how you plan?