Monday, January 30, 2017

Meal Plan Monday - January 30

Only a few more days until February! What are you guys eating this week?

We're trying to keep it simple (and keep costs down), so here's what we've got:

Sunday: 10-year anniversary take-out dinner (It's been 10 years since my husband and I first met!)

Monday: gluten-free lasagna with Chebe Brazilian Cheese Buns

Tuesday: pasta and salad

Wednesday: turkey tacos

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: turkey burgers and fries

Saturday: on our own

Friday, January 27, 2017

Before the Fall - January Book Club

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley was my book club's January pick.

Well, it was actually our November book club pick, but the book was in such high demand that nobody was able to get it from the library in time! I was on this book's reserve list from September 2016 to January 2017!

I'm not sure why there was so much hype. Apparently, Hawley is a writer for some pretty popular TV shows, but I've never watched them, so I was not familiar with him prior to this book.

The premise of the book is that there's a plane crash. The only survivors are a 4-year-old boy named JJ and a painter named Scott. Why did these two survive? Why was Scott even on the plane in the first place? Why did the plane crash?

What did I think? I really liked the book. I liked the way the story was told. You get a little bit at a time, and then you're brought back to the present in between. It sort of leaves you guessing and presents a few possible scenarios as to how/why the plane crashed, and then you get to the real reason, and you go, "Wow. It was THAT?" It kind of makes you realize that when certain things happen in this day and age, everyone is so quick to jump to the most outrageous conclusion, forgetting that random stuff happens all the time for the stupidest reasons. (Sorry if that sounds vague, but I'm trying to not give anything away here.) There is a definite commentary in this book on the news media (very anti-Fox News) and how, simply because they have to fill air-time, they just keep talking and talking and talking about the same story over and over again even if there is nothing new to report. And then they start speculating and putting ideas into viewer's minds, and it's like, "Just stop! Go to something else or go off the air until you have something NEW and factual to tell us!"

What did my book club think? Well, out of six who attended, four read the book. Two people said they were disappointed in the ending, and just disappointed in the book overall because it didn't live up to expectations. Someone said she cared more about JJ and Scott and wanted to read more about them as opposed to the other characters. She also wasn't a fan of the writing style, but she could see it working as a TV show script (which, of course, is what Noah Hawley is famous for). The other person said she liked the pacing of the book, but I don't think she liked the book as much as I did. 

We talked about the author's perception of women and the meaning of certain parts of the book. I don't want to give too much away, but we thought that perhaps the book was also commenting on how things that are cute in rom-coms may actually come across as creepy in real life, but guys think that they can get away with that stuff because girls justify it by going to see those movies. 

The discussion for this book went really well, and I would definitely recommend it for other book clubs, as long as you can get your hands on the book!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Gluten-Free ANZAC Cookies

Many years ago, I went to Australia and New Zealand on vacation. And while there, I discovered ANZAC cookies. These are deliciously sweet concoctions made with coconut, maple syrup, and oats. Plus a few other ingredients, of course.

Mom and me in Australia with a koala. Still wearing my hair in the same half-up style, but I've evolved from puka shell
necklaces and Blink-182 sweatshirts.
ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, and ANZAC Day, which happens in April, is a day of remembrance, kind of like America's Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

April is a far way off, but there is something that justified me making this delicious down under treat in the month of January. Tomorrow is Australia Day, the National Day of Australia! I made some gluten-free ANZAC cookies following this recipe by Healthy Blender Recipes.

I pretty much followed the recipe exactly. I had Bob's Red Mill Quick Cooking Gluten-Free Oats, and those seemed to work just fine instead of rolled oats. And yes, my grocery store did carry coconut sugar! Who knew that coconut sugar was a thing???

You'll notice that because the author of the Healthy Blender Recipes blog is Aussie, the measurements for the butter are in grams and ounces. My American brain had no idea what to do with that, and apparently, there have been no other Americans making and blogging about ANZAC cookies to tell me what to do. So I turned to my trusty pal Google who led me to a conversion website where I discovered that 4.4 ounces of butter was equivalent to 8.8 tablespoons of butter. Still not totally helpful, so I just did 8.5 tablespoons and a little extra for good measure. I know baking is supposed to be exact, but my cookies still turned out fine.

Mine were chewier than what I remember the cookies in Australia being, but I actually like chewy cookies.

Aside from the weird butter measurement, these are super easy to make, and I will definitely be making them again. My husband really enjoyed them, so I think these need to make an appearance more often than just January and April. (Also because I need to use up the rest of that coconut sugar...)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Meal Plan Monday - January

I'm trying to keep things simple this week because it's middle school basketball tournament week, and my husband is a coach! So that means he's not going to be around much for dinner. Here's what we're having:

Sunday: rotisserie chicken with mashed potatoes and corn

Monday: eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns

Tuesday: hot dogs and fries

Wednesday: on our own (I'm having chicken sausage and rice)

Thursday: gluten-free macaroni and cheese with ground beef

Friday: on our own (TBD for me)

Saturday: on our own (I'm thinking homemade egg mcmuffins for me.)

Friday, January 20, 2017

1st Father's Day Scrapbook Page

I did my first Mother's Day layout a long time ago, but I'm just now getting around to making one for my husband's first Father's Day. This page uses Crate Paper patterned papers from a paper pad that I have. The music notes embellishment is also Crate Paper but from a different collection.

I made the title using October Afternoon mini letters and some old black sticker letters that have been hidden in my stash. I found them just in time to create this page!

The "I Love Dad" card was made by my mother-in-law as a card from the baby. I also made a separate page with card holder to keep all of the other Father's Day cards together in the scrapbook.

And here's another one of those clearance embellishments with the rogue button. The banner embellishment came from my stash.

This was a very simple layout to get done. I am trying to get caught up in my personal album (not the baby's), and so I needed to just get this picture scrapped and done with so that I could move on!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Big Girl Scrapbook Page

The baby was able to sit up on her own at 6 months, and we had one of those milestone stickers to put on her for a picture. Or in my case, many pictures!

I used some Echo Park baby-themed banner stickers to create the banner at the top of the page. (And yes, my child likes to eat stickers.)

And the glittery letter stickers are old American Crafts Thickers that I've had for awhile. I think that sheet of stickers is just about done.

I also used some Me & My Big Ideas sticker embellishments on this page to give some dimension. The patterned papers are all from an old paper pad that my mom actually gave me years ago (can't remember the manufacturer) mixed in with some other papers from a 6x6 paper pad that my mother-in-law gave me last year for Christmas. All of the colors went together, thankfully!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Meal Plan Monday - January 16

Wish I could say that I'm enjoying a three-day weekend, but every weekend is a three-day weekend for me, so this one is just another of the same.

And here's another meal plan!

Sunday: Turkey and Vegetable Meatloaf (We had to postpone this on Saturday because we ran out of milk and it was snowing so we couldn't go out!)

Monday: Tacos

Tuesday: leftovers

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: on our own

Saturday: Tuna Sandwiches and Fries

Friday, January 13, 2017

Chebe Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Mix Review

I wrote about Chebe's gluten-free Brazilian cheese buns after attending the Gluten-Free & Allergen Friendly Expo last year. (Read that post here.) And the kind folks at Chebe sent me two boxes of the cheese buns mix and two boxes of their pizza crust mix for me to try out!

Making the pizza is pretty straightforward. You have the option to have shredded cheese if you want. Both times I made this, that's what I did because who doesn't like more cheese? You can also bake the crust for a few minutes before adding the toppings and then bake it, or just add the toppings and bake for one longer time. Because I had two boxes of the mix, I experimented and did both baking methods.

I think I prefer baking the crust without the toppings first, and then baking a second time with the toppings. But either way, this came out really well. My parents and my husband were fans of this pizza. I didn't get my crust looking super perfect,and it certainly didn't come out looking like the crust on the box, but it was crispy around the edges, and the inclusion of the extra cheese made it a little chewy and gooey in the center.

We like the pre-made gluten-free pizza crusts, but this is actually so easy to make that you won't mind the extra five minutes it takes to put the ingredients together and roll out onto your baking sheet!

I received free product from Chebe in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

All Fall Down - Scrapbook Page

The baby is officially 10 months old today! But let's take a look back at when she was 6 months!

This is what happened after our six-month photo shoot. The baby discovered the panda, and kind of fell over trying to eat the panda's foot.

I used Crate Paper patterned paper for this layout, with some coordinating embellishments that I found on clearance a few weeks ago. They were on clearance because the little buttons in the middle had fallen off, but all I needed to do was adhere the buttons back on with Glue Dots!

I also got to use up some old Basic Grey letter stickers to create the title. I think this was the last usage I could get out of these two letter sticker sheets.

The little bear sticker was on an Echo Park sticker sheet that my mom gave me. It's not a panda bear, but it's still a bear, so I thought it would be cute to add.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Meal Plan Monday - January 9

doing my HHHM workout
while the baby naps
I'm participating in a Healthy Habits Happy Moms January #screwresolutions challenge, and every Sunday, we are supposed to meal prep. As you already know, I do meal planning, so this was not really that difficult of a challenge for me. I always try to incorporate something healthy for us to eat during the week, but it doesn't always happen because of budgeting issues. But I guess this month I'm going to have to make more of an effort. So, here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday: Chebe pepperoni pizza

Monday: Italian Sausage and Potato Roast

Tuesday: Manwich Sloppy Joe's and fries

Wednesday: on our own

Thursday: Jennie-O Turkey Burgers and fries

Friday: Grilled Chicken Penne Alfredo

Saturday: Turkey & Vegetable Meatloaf (new recipe from Eating Well magazine)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Strange Bird Scrapbook Page

I swear that NOW I am done with all the paper in my Basic Grey stash. I really wish this company was still in the business of making scrapbook paper. I really loved their collections. This scrapbook layout is a collection of silly photos of the baby.

I thought the bird patterned paper went really well with my title of "Strange Bird". I don't know about any of your babies, but my baby loves sleeping with her butt in the air, and I always think it's funny when I find her with her little legs sticking out of the crib.

Along with the Basic Grey papers, I used an October Afternoon button embellishment and a little bird sticker from a collection of K & Company baby stickers.

The letters for the title are also old Basic Grey (used up that letter sheet), and then I threw in one of my orange hearts because I just love them so much! The frames are also Basic Grey, and I like the layered look that I accomplished on this layout with the embellishments.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

That Face Scrapbook Page

Yes, it's been almost 10 months since I had this baby and I am still scrapbooking that baby's 5 month pictures. But I'm making progress! Here's another single-page layout I did over the holiday break featuring Basic Grey products.

I actually thought I had used up all of my Basic Grey stash, but I was wrong. I simply used up all of the coordinating Basic Grey stuff that I had in my stash. There was still random papers and stickers in my Basic Grey drawer. So that's what I used on this layout.

You don't even want to know how long those Basic Grey letter stickers have been in my stash. I think I purchased those as part of a Basic Grey paper pack from back in 2007...

The only thing that isn't Basic Grey is the "sassy girl" embellishment. That's from Me & My Big Ideas. (Pardon the box fan in this picture...)

Oh, and I used some random brand cardstock that I bought a few years ago at Walmart to back the pictures.

Thanks for looking!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Meal Plan Monday - January 2

Happy new year! Welcome to 2017! We are starting off the year with a couple new recipes that I'm really excited about. Here's what's on the menu:

Sunday: Rocco DiSpirito's Grilled Cheese and Ham sandwiches with tomato soup

Monday: Pasta Carbonara

Tuesday: Eggs, Bacon, and Waffles

Wednesday: Bow-Tie Pasta with Hot Sausage Sauce (Ours is going to use gluten-free elbow pasta and sweet sausage...)

Thursday: Perdue Simply Smart Gluten-Free Chicken Strips, Fries, and Corn

Friday: Tuna Sandwiches and Chips

Saturday: Pepperoni Pizza using Chebe gluten-free pizza crust mix (More on that later!)