Menu Plan Monday

Essie's Blessings (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the new year, I knew I had to get some menu planning back in action.  Dan has now started cooking a few meals a week at home, and I’ve gotten lazy, making hot dogs or pancakes or mac and cheese.  That gets tiring after a while.  I wanted meals to be more creative, easy for Dan to make, but still affordable.  Emeals to the rescue!  I enrolled in the Classic Family Plan, using Aldi as a grocery store.  They give me menus a week at a time–each only totaling around $87.  That’s 7 meals.  We shop every two weeks, so that grocery bill is AWESOME.

Here’s what we’ll be eating this week:

-Creole Chicken, Sausage, and Spinach

-Mushroom Swiss Burgers

-Pepperoni Rolls

-Sloppy Joes

-Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

-Bacon Ranch Toasted Subs

-Skillet Chicken Courdon Bleu

YUM.  We’ll be eating good this week!  What’s on the menu at your house?

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Jimmy Fallon Day!

 

 

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Read With Us Wednesday Thursday

Whoops!  The whole day went by yesterday, until all of a sudden I texted Pam and said, “I forgot about Read With Us Wednesday!”  So.  Yeah.  Today it’s Read With Us Thursday.

We’re finishing up The Obituary Society by Jessica Randall!

Read With Us Wednesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last five chapters of the book!  Wow, right?  There was a hint of Asher being Lila’s brother earlier in the book, but Erica?  I didn’t see that one coming.  And Gladys with her shovel?  You go, girl!  So many secrets were revealed at the end of the book, including Juniper finding Ada’s father’s will in the old truck.  One of my favorite parts of a book is the end, when you close it, sit back, and imagine how the characters are going to continue living their lives.  The last paragraph really paints that picture:

After bringing out the tea, they sat on the wooden steps, Juniper leaning into Max’s right arm, Lila resting her head on his left shoulder.  Lila sighed as she sipped her hot tea, thinking how little she cared about what other girls her age were doing, and imagining many years of front porches and steaming tea and club meetings with miniature cakes.  And if a hint of Old Spice mingled with cinnamon wafted past her nose, she pretended not to notice.

I can see Lila and Max working on the old house, bringing it back to life.  I see siblings for Juniper, and Lila learning to bake like Ada.  I see a happy life for all of them–as long as they can take care of that pond.  How about you?  What do you imagine happening in the lives of the characters?

Since we’ve finished The Obituary Society–thanks for reading along–we’re going to start our next book!  And the next book is….

Drumroll please….

book jacket

Moms’ Night Out, by Tricia Goyer

You knew it was a movie, but did you know it was a book?  You can buy the book on Amazon if you click the link above.  You should also be able to find it at the library–I know our library system has it.  (For local friends, click here!) We will be reading four chapters a week, so for next week, read chapters 1-4.  I’ve seen the movie, and it’s hilarious, so I can wait to laugh through the book!

See you next week!

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Reading Resolutions

I’m not a big fan of making New Year’s Resolutions.  Normally, they are broken about a day after they’re made.  However, when those resolutions have to do with reading?  Count me in.

Last year I participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge.  I set a goal of 52 books, and with some fast reading at the end of the year, I made my goal:

Reading Challenge 2014

I’m doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge again this year, although I’ve made a goal of 50 books.  But that’s because I’m doing another reading challenge right along with it!

2015 Reading Challenge

My reading buddy Pam invited me to this Facebook Reading Challenge, and I thought it looked fun–and a great way to spice up my reading habits.  Right now I’m working on “A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet,” and that book is Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg.  I’ve found she’s my absolute favorite, and this book is another good one.  There’s something about Fannie Flagg’s writing that is so soothing to me.

Next up is: “A Non-Fiction Book.”  I’ll be reading 41, by George W. Bush.  Well, George will be reading it to me, via the audiobook.  I’m looking forward to it.  Also planned for reading soon is “A book by an author you’ve never read before,” (Still Life with Bread Crumbs, by Anna Quindlen) and “A funny book,” (Yes Please, by Amy Poehler).

Also, I’m keeping track of my reading in my brand new Moleskine Book Journal.  I found this beauty at Barnes and Noble on Saturday, and I’m so excited to write down all the books I read.  It will be so handy to have–to remember the books I’ve read already, and make recommendations to other people!

Also, come back tomorrow for our last post for the book The Obituary Society on Read With Us Wednesday!  We’ll be discussing the last five chapters, and I’ll be revealing what our next book will be.

What’s your reading goal this year?

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Ringing in the New Year

Originally posted on 12-31-13

Eleven (now TWELVE!) years ago, I woke up around midnight on the 31st.  I was pregnant with my first child, two days overdue.  Contractions were strong, strong enough to wake me up.  I had a false alarm a couple weeks prior, and ended up being sent home from the hospital.  I didn’t want that to happen again, so I walked around the basement for a while, hoping the walking would make the contractions stop.  It didn’t.  The contractions were strong.

After about an hour, I decided to go wake Dan up.  I was nervous.  I woke up and told him what was going on. He, too, wanted to avoid being sent home from the hospital, so he suggested I go take a warm shower.  I agreed, and went in to the bathroom.  As I was getting ready for the shower, I discovered my panties were wet.  I turned off the shower, put on dry panties, and went to watch TV.  My panties were immediately wet again.  I knew what that meant.  I woke Dan back up, and told him to get ready to go to the hospital.  My water had broken.

It was a 45 minute drive to the hospital.  I was nervous and excited.  Dan made me sit on a towel, because he was afraid I’d mess up the car seat.  While getting ready to get going, I realized I had used up the last of the camera film at our family Christmas celebration two days prior.  We stopped at Walmart, and  Dan headed in to get film. I stayed in the car, counting contractions.

When we got to the hospital, I was checked, and did the usual things to get ready.  They did a test to make sure I was leaking amniotic fluid, and I was.  We settled in.  I remember working through contractions all morning.  We watched TV, and I remember the “year in review” shows that were on that morning.  I had back labor, and it HURT SO BAD.  It hurt like nothing had ever hurt before.

It was a long morning.  They had given me pitocin to get things going, because of my water breaking.  The pitocin made the contractions strong, and practically one after another.  I made Dan rub my back until his hands hurt.  Finally around noon I got an epidural.  The relief was so instant and wonderful I told the anesthesiologist that I loved him.

By three in the afternoon I was checked, and I was only 3 centimeters dilated.  They had made sure my water was completely broken, and had found meconium in the fluid.  The doctor was concerned, and came in and told me he wanted to do a c-section.  I remember being relieved.  I wasn’t scared of the c-section.  I was scared of pushing the baby out.  It had been such a long day, and I just wanted the baby out, and for everything to be over.  Preparations for the surgery went quickly, even with the searching for scrubs that would fit my husband.

At 3:59 pm, our Ethan Richard was born.  He weighed in at 9 pounds, 13 ounces, and measured 21 inches.

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I was blissfully happy.

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We rang in the New Year that year with our new baby.  We didn’t stay up until midnight.  I’m pretty sure we were asleep by nine.  It will remain my favorite New Year’s Eve celebration forever- the year I became a mommy.

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Blessings

This past Christmas weekend, I couldn’t help but reflect on my blessings.  Christmas Day was the first–EVER–that Dan has been home to see the kids open their stockings.  He even made us Christmas morning breakfast.  (Unusual for a Pastor’s family!) I left for church that morning all aglow, reveling in my little family.  

As we opened our gifts after church, each smile and gasp of surprise made my smile bigger.

See Dan in the corner there?  See that smile?  I love that man.

Then there were the little moments after opening presents.  Listening to the kids play together.  Watching them enjoy our Christmas appetizers.  Seeing my moody pre-teen love on his sister:

Watching Dan eat some Easy Bake Oven cookies, all the while pronouncing them delicious, even though they were SO NOT.

And Sunday, getting to hug my big brother, just like my daughter hugged her big brother on Christmas Day.

I.  AM. BLESSED.

So, after this Christmas, I feel a contentment that I haven’t felt for a long time.  I fully expect 2015 to be the best ever for our little family.  Hope it is for yours, too.

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Merry Christmas from the Burns Family!

Family

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Not just at Christmas

It has undoubtedly been a different Christmas season for me.  Not just with my mom being in Heaven, but with my dad being in his Assisted Living home.  This is his first holiday season in his new home, and it’s been interesting to experience this with him.

One of the highlights of this Christmas season has been the visits from local schools to the home.  Dad has called me a couple times, all excited, telling me about the wonderful music the children share with them.  One of them, a homeschool group, even played the piano and violins.  Dad was thrilled.  

I’ve seen many people on my Facebook page, too, posting how they’ve been visiting the local nursing and assisted living homes, caroling and bringing gifts to the residents.  Don’t get me wrong, I think this is WONDERFUL, and I know first hand how much cheer this brings the residents.

I’m stepping up on my soapbox today, though.  You know how the food shelf is always reminding people to give ALL year long–not just at the holidays?  It’s the same for the people in these homes.  Life can get very lonely for these people.  My dad is lucky–my sisters and I all call him every day to catch up.  But there’s people there who never hear from their relatives, if they even have any.  For some people, those visits by school children at Christmas are the only visits they get all year long.  

Some of my happiest moments lately, friends, have been the quiet ones with my dad.  Sitting next to him in his room, crocheting and chatting.  I even enjoy the even quieter moments when he takes a nap.  Just being there beside him.  And when I leave, I know he thinks about those visits, remembering the conversations, looking forward to the next visit.  Can you imagine how lonely it gets when no one visits?  Can you imagine how it would feel to never get a single phone call?  It breaks my heart.

Please, everyone, don’t stop your visits to the nursing and assisted care homes after Christmas.  It doesn’t take much–even a half hour visit is a lovely thing for the residents to think about.  Stop by for a quick visit and bring a treat, send them mail, find out which residents don’t get visitors and stop by their rooms.  You will never realize the enormous joy it brings them.    And when you leave, you’ll realize that it brings you joy, too.

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Five Friday Favorites

1. Christmas Crack

Christmas Crack
Print
Ingredients
  1. 35-40 Saltine Crackers
  2. 2 sticks butter
  3. 1 cup brown sugar
  4. 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Line 1 large or 2 small jelly-roll pans with aluminum foil, spray with nonstick spray and arrange the saltines salt-side down in a single layer. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together and boil until it turns a caramel color, a few minutes. Remove from the heat and pour over the crackers, covering them evenly.
  3. Put the jelly-roll pan into the oven and bake for 3 to 5 minutes, or until just bubbly, watching carefully. Remove from the oven and pour the chocolate chips over the crackers. When the chips melt a bit, spread them over the crackers with a knife.
  4. Transfer the pan to the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until completely cold. They will form one big sheet. Break up into pieces. Store in an airtight container.
essiesblessings.com http://essiesblessings.com/
I love this stuff. I always have to make a double recipe- one to give away and one for ME.

2. My new Erin Condren planner

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I needed something this year to keep track of my family schedule, my work schedule, and also my Thirty One schedule. That called for a GREAT planner. I’m a sucker for a nice paper planner–and these are AWESOME. I’ve used my phone in the past few years, but something about having everything in my hand makes it easier for me. Use this link to check it out yourself–https://www.erincondren.com/referral/invite/estherburns0414 Watch out–you’ll fall in love!

3.  Fannie Flagg

book jacket

I’m reading A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg right now–she’s one of my favorite authors.  Her characters are so wonderful-you just want to climb in the book and live with all of them.

4.  These babies.

I can hardly stand the cuteness.

5.  Christmas Lights

Is there anything better than sitting in the evening with only the light of the Christmas tree?  I don’t think so.

What’s your favorite this Friday?

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Read With Us Wednesday

Read With Us Wednesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re back!  Sorry about my absence last week–four out of five of us in the house had Strep–including me.  Nothing like getting it all done at once, right?

This week we’re discussing chapters 21-15 of The Obituary Society, by Jessica Randall.  The end of Chapter 25 has me hanging on the edge of my seat–how about you?  

Poor Lila has gone through so much, and now she has made the decision to sell her grandfather’s house and move on.  She feels so defeated–and for good reason!  She saw so much promise in that house, and in the whole town.  She finds herself saying her goodbyes at the Fall Festival.

This quote said so much to me:

Fall was an elderly person who noticed every detail, every childish laugh, and relished in every delight, aware that her life cycle would soon come to an end.

Oh, how true that is.  Not only of the season of fall, but for life in general.  I see that so much in my own children.  They are growing so very fast, and I feel myself trying to enjoy every moment–relishing the fact that Emma still believes in Santa; saving her papers with inventive spelling; even savoring every hug Ethan gives me, as few and far between as those are for my preteen.  So many moments in our lives pass us so quickly, but do we notice every detail?

How about you?  What details do you try to remember?  Are you in a time in your life that you know is coming to an end?  

Next week we’ll be closing up discussion on The Obituary Society with the last five chapters–26-30!  Let me know if you have any suggestions for our next book! And remember to stop by Dakotapam.com and join in the discussion there!

 

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