Sunday, October 13, 2013

Seasonal Changes & Lots of Learning Opportunities

Autumn is my favorite season.  I love the change of the leaves, pulling out the sweaters and scarves, and all the wonderful seasonal favorites -- apples, pumpkins, cardamom, and cinnamon.  

Here are a few of my favorite fall images.  

One of the first trees to turn.

I love the crunch of the leaves, the smell of the trees and the sounds of the forest animals.  Having returned to teaching, there is also the opportunity to teach the children to appreciate these things.  Our entire month has been full of tree related learning and I am loving every minute!  

Our 3-D model of the parts of a tree.

"Why we love trees" list.

A display on the wall of the math center.

Sorting, counting, and patterns with acorns and leaves on the
light table.

Graphing our favorite types of trees.  

Menu Planning October Week 4 & the Importance of Drinking Water

I have never been a water drinker.  I think that my distaste for it occurred when the suburbs gained access to "Chicago water" from Lake Michigan which from my research started around 1985.

I have found; however, that I feel better when I drink water.  Pinterest and food blogs all over the internet are full of "fruit water" recipes some with sugar some without.  Experimentation has lead to my own favorite concoction of lemon, orange, and cucumber.  I even freeze some in the bottom of my water bottles so that I can enjoy cold water all morning at work.  Preparing it on a large scale in mason jars ensures I always have some on hand.

Here is my menu for the week:

Monday breakfast:  homemade muffins, fruit water
Monday lunch:  Meeting at work - lunch served
Monday dinner: beef sandwiches with peppers, homemade sweet potato fries

Tuesday breakfast:  cold cereal, almond milk & banana
Tuesday lunch:  leftover chicken and noodle bake from Sunday, green salad
Tuesday dinner:  chicken enchiladas verde, rice, ff refried beans

Wednesday breakfast:  apples with peanut butter, fruit water
Wednesday lunch:  eat at work
Wednesday dinner:  shrimp fettuccine, minted peas

Thursday breakfast:  homemade muffins, fresh fruit
Thursday lunch:  eat at work
Thursday dinner:  ham steak, baked apples, scalloped carrots

Friday breakfast:  oatmeal, fresh fruit, fruit water
Friday lunch:  eat at work
Friday dinner:  Mexican Potato Casserole  from the website Mennonite Girls Can Cook.  It is my "testing" recipe for the week and I promise to have a review for you next week.

Saturday breakfast:  eggs & bacon
Saturday lunch:  BLT sandwiches, potato salad
Saturday dinner:  spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, and green salad

Sunday breakfast:  hashbrown casserole, fruit salad
Sunday lunch:  beef and vegetable soup
Sunday dinner:  beef fajitas with peppers and onions, fresh tortillas, sour cream and avocado

Friday, October 11, 2013

Thursday Photo Challenge: Monochrome

The theme for this week is monochrome.  I have some photographs I have changed to black and white or sepia but I think this one (which is actually untouched) is a better photograph.

 Our trip to St. Louis, Missouri.  The day was dreary but it stopped raining long enough for my husband and I to walk across the street from our hotel to visit the arch.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Menu Planning October Week 3 & Pantry Cooking

This past week was pretty smooth despite not having finalized my menu here.  I have to say that the corned beef hash from two weeks ago was hubby's favorite meal - he was disappointed to hear it was gone.

Since purchasing our new car, we've been trying to economize and grocery shopping seems a natural place to start.  Continuing with that theme, my menu plans for the next few weeks will focus on using up what we have in the freezer and pantry.

In addition, I am craving some traditional autumn dishes and did purchase some canned pumpkin, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and apples.  More on those in the next post.

Here is my menu for the week:

Monday breakfast:  blueberry muffins, lemon water
Monday lunch:  bean and cheese quesadillas, green salad, lemon water
Monday dinner:  chicken noodle soup, crusty bread

Tuesday breakfast:  cottage cheese, fresh plums, buckwheat tea
Tuesday lunch:  leftover soup, lemon water
Tuesday dinner:  meatloaf, mashed sweet potatoes, green peas

Wednesday breakfast:  oatmeal, almond milk
Wednesday lunch:  leftover meatloaf, sweet potatoes, green salad, green tea
Wednesday dinner:  BLT sandwiches, homemade potato chips

Thursday breakfast:  cottage cheese, fresh apples, lemon water
Thursday lunch:  bean and cheese quesadillas, green salad, lemon water
Thursday dinner:  mini pepperoni pizzas, green salad

Friday breakfast:  toast with peanut butter, fresh apples, lemon water
Friday lunch:  bean and cheese quesadillas, green salad, green tea
Friday dinner:  garlic pasta with chicken, tomatoes, and spinach, crusty bread (I love the recipe from the Pioneer Woman.)

Saturday breakfast:  pumpkin pancakes, hash-brown casserole
Saturday lunch:  macaroni and cheese with bacon and peas
Saturday dinner:  chicken lettuce wraps

Sunday breakfast:  scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, leftover casserole
Sunday lunch:  rice cake soup
Sunday dinner:  ham steak, baked potato with broccoli and cheese


Thursday Photo Challenge: Shadows

In honor of this month's spooky holiday (I assume), we are playing with shadows this week.  Here are my submissions:

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Thursday Photo Challenge Blue II

This week's challenge is blue.  I shared a number of photos a few weeks ago so I searched my archives and found another that I had not included.  This photographs is of the Chicago Public Library on State Street in Chicago, Illinois.  When I was a consultant, I often traveled past it on my way to the DuPaul Building to visit the Chicago Health Department.  I love architecture and this is one of my favorite structures in the city!


Menu Planning September Week 3 & The Importance of Menu Planning

Trying to stay organized has always been a struggle for me.  Without a meal plan, I tend to forget what I have, over purchase, or forget a key ingredient necessary for a meal (can't make tacos without tortillas).  A late summer cold and a broken toe provided the excuse for failing to create a plan last week.  Given how difficult it was at work, meal preparation was even more difficult.  One day, I had to run out for buns, another day I worked until 6:45 - didn't start dinner until 7:30, Wednesday we ate from a box, Thursday I hit the drive through and Friday I gave up and called for take-out.

No excuses this week!  I am jumping back on track and made a mini grocery shopping trip at 6:30 a.m. just to get a few necessities (almond milk, eggs, fresh fruit and veggies).  While there, I happened upon a wonderful find!  Fresh, all natural chicken leg quarters marked down for clearance to $.74 a lb.  I picked up two packages, along with my other items and headed home.  

I separated the legs from the thighs.  I do not like chicken legs but my husband does.  I also prefer white meat to dark but I'll suck it up for the sake of savings.  We also differ on skin (I don't like it).  

For him, I made an Asian inspired cooking liquid with soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and ketchup.  I know this sounds weird but its part of the list of ingredients used in my version of PF Chang's lettuce wraps so I know it is good!  When finished, these should have a caramelized sauce.  

For the thighs, I removed the skin and placed them on a rack over a baking dish, sprinkling them with Weber Grill's Roasted Garlic and Herb seasoning plus a few shakes of taco seasoning!  The house smells so good!  I'll shred the thighs (perhaps I can trick myself into thinking it is breast meat) and serve in tortillas with sour cream and salsa.  Hubby will enjoy the legs with a baked potato.  Because we differ so greatly on our food choices and since it is just the two of us, I often make two different meals but that is another post for another time.  

Here is my menu for the week:

Sunday breakfast:  sausage gravy with biscuits for him, scrambled eggs and biscuits for me, fresh fruit 
Sunday lunch:  chicken quesadilla for him, bean and cheese quesadillas for me, fresh fruit and broccoli slaw
Sunday dinner:  Leftovers from the freezer  - corned beef hash (I love Elise Bauer's recipe on Simply Recipes), fresh salad, and fresh fruit

Monday breakfast:  fresh fruit smoothie
Monday lunch:  leftover chicken tacos, fresh fruit
Monday dinner:  sausage and pepper sandwiches, fresh fruit

Tuesday breakfast:  toast with homemade jam
Tuesday lunch:  leftover sausage and peppers, fresh fruit
Tuesday dinner:  chicken lettuce wraps, fresh fruit

Wednesday breakfast:  oatmeal with pecans and bananas
Wednesday lunch:  leftover lettuce wraps, apple
Wednesday dinner: fettuccine alfredo with shrimp for him, no shrimp for me, garlic toast, spinach salad

Thursday breakfast:  cereal with almond milk, fresh fruit
Thursday lunch:  leftover pasta, fresh fruit
Thursday dinner:  homemade mini pizzas (using refrigerator biscuits as crust), 

Friday breakfast:  Treat - JAMBA juice smoothie (I have a coupon for this!!!)
Friday lunch:  eat at work (my favorite school lunch is being served)
Friday dinner: EAT OUT