Friday, May 31, 2013

Corndog Casserole #Recipe

My mom took on a mighty task tending to the pickiest of appetites over the years. Looking back on our many demands, I find myself shaking my head. 

No wonder she instructed us to eat what she made or go without! 

Her Corndog Casserole was one dish I never turned down, though. In fact, I remember making it promptly to dinner each and every time it hit the table. This recipe, my friends, is a comfort meal at it's finest.


Corndog Casserole #recipe

The key to this recipe? Do not over-bake. I repeat: Do Not Over Bake. That's the hardest part. Which means? Yet another quick meal to add to your menu plans!

Enjoy!

Corndog Casserole:

Ingredients
1 package hotdogs
2 (8 1/2 oz.) packages Jiffy Cornbread Mix
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut the hotdogs into quarters and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Set aside.
2. Mix cornbread according to package. Mix in cheese and sautéed hotdogs.
3. Pour into 9x13 dish and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden on top.

Linking up with Home Stories A to Z, I Heart Naptime, Tatertots and Jello, A Night Owl Blog, Chef in Training

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Fool's Vacation

For over a year, per my in-laws request, I've had my family's beach house reserved for what would ultimately be Jackson's first trip to the beach. And, for obvious reasons, I've been absolutely giddy about this trip over the entire year. That is, until it all began to slowly but surely fall apart at my fingertips.

It all began earlier this month when my SIL said she'd not be able to come. That then trickled to my MIL who also said she'd not be coming. Or well, she never confirmed that for us nor has she called us in two weeks to follow up as such. But all this was ok because Brandon, Jackson, myself and my mom would all still be able to hit the beach.

I had an intense week of deadlines at work leading up to the long Memorial Weekend. Truly, I have not powered us through that type of deadline schedule since the Fall. I was so proud to leave the office Thursday afternoon knowing all I needed to do Friday was show my sweet face, make sure the boss-men were prepared for their meeting and I could hit the road!

Then it happened...the final bits of our trip unraveled.

My mom called just an hour before we planned to meet, informing me my brother was likely headed into the operating room for emergency surgery to remove his appendix. She'd know more within the hour though. I kept my chin held high, sort of, as we finished cramming every last thing into our car.

Ringing only a millisecond before I jumped to answer her call, she in fact would be headed to GA for my brother's surgery rather than our weekend at Edisto. Womp. Womp. It was a sad change of plans for all.

Brandon and I looked at each other wondering if we should even still go. No extra helping hands were headed to the beach, just us, a wild toddler and his trusty sidekicks aka the dogs.

But we decided to finish packing and head to the beach. Brandon went inside for one last sweep of the house as I loaded dogs into the car. Somehow, the next thing I know, the car has shifted into neutral, closed my leg in the door and is dragging me down the driveway headed straight for the neighbors house.

Horror. Absolute horror.

I screamed for Brandon and in the seconds it took him to run from the house to the car, we'd already collided with the neighbor's tree. Shock is just the beginning of describing how I felt in that moment.

Yet, despite all the signs, we still left for our weekend at the beach because dammit we needed this!



A smooth drive to Edisto lead us to naivley believe that perhaps, just maybe, we were sailing towards calmer seas. We arrived to the beach just in time to provide this toddler his first seaside sunset. It was a true Kodak I mean InstaGram moment.

We returned to the house for a little running around, unpacking and snuggling into bed a la Monsters Inc. on the iPad or as now referred to in our house "Jackson's Puter." I managed to snuggle that kid to sleep and slip out to grab a beer and some couch time with the husband.

Bliss, I tell you.



And then the clock struck 1:30 a.m. and our toddler awoke screaming and kicking. Attempts to woo him back to sleep failed until both mom, dad, dogs and toddler were in the living room bunked up on the couches. The blur of our disparity makes the ending to this night a bit fuzzy, but whatever it is that happened everyone slept for three hours. Just three. 



Again debates of canceling this beach fiasco and making a mad dash for the confines of our home were tossed about. But Brandon pressed on. This was all I had talked about for so long! He did everything in his power to get our little family to the beach that day, and I'm so thankful for his perseverance. 

We spent a good seven hours on the beach that day. We dug. We sang. We laughed. We pointed to birds and sea shells. We ran from the water. We buried our toddler. We chased seagulls. We watched as our son experienced the beach for the very first time. I watched as my son made his first memories on the shores of a beach that hold so many memories in my life. 

This experience was really what I'd been dreaming of over the last year. And thanks to my husband I was able to see that through this weekend despite every last will of the world going against us. 




And upon returning from our joyful day of sea and sand, our terrible-two-year-old reappeared. Just as quickly as he'd thrown himself on the floor, Brandon had packed all our things for us to return home.

Four hours later, we transferred that toddler to his crib and crashed into our own beds. Ten hours after that, Jackson's G-pa picked him up to give us a 48-hour regrouping period. We reeled in our white flag as they exited the driveway dancing for joy at the opportunity to get life back together without a flailing, screaming toddler.

Two entire days to recuperate from our terrible-two-year-old and we spent 70% of the time crafting for his big boy room and the other 30% watching the Netflix special season release of Arrested Development.

Now, it's Wednesday. The wild toddler has returned home. The house only got semi-clean. The Vacation we'd been hoping for was not at all what unfolded over the course of our weekend.

And quite frankly, I'm still not certain if the takeaway here is to push forward in future moments like this or just cancel the damn vacation and put the sprinkler in the front yard with a six-pack for mama.

Either way, shout out to the Husband for holding the weekend together {as much as humanly possible}.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ch.Ch.Checking in.

Am I the only mama struggling to believe it's just Wednesday?
I mean, for real? How is it not Friday already?!

Ahem, no glass half-full business today.


In case you were wondering, we're still drowning in Terrible Two tantrums.


The View From 510


Dear mamas who've survived to tell about this season of life: does it last all year? 

Lord, I hope not.

My insane self will be packing up this unruly toddler, my handy husband, both dogs and half our house for our first family trip to Edisto in two days. Just!Two!More!Sleeps!

The View From 510

I'm vowing not to stress.
I'm praying for toddler happiness.
And I'm making sure there is a babysitter and a fresh drink ready upon arrival.

What are your Memorial Day plans? Getting away for the long weekend?


One last thing on this mishmash of a Wednesday....

Are you following The View From 510 on Bloglovin' or another RSS feed, Google Reader will be closing their doors this Summer! It's as easy as clicking the icon below! 
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Linking up with Shannon for So What Wednesday

Monday, May 20, 2013

Toddlerhood Will Tear You Down

Flailing himself around the room post-nap, it resembled a scene from the exorcist. But no, just our toddler raging from what was clearly a far too early wake-up from nap-time.

Our attempts to tame the beast went unsuccessful time and time again. Tension began to run high as both parents held only a small threshold of patience due to the toddler's enraged attitude for five days straight. Five. Days. Straight. Even a night with Sulli (Grandma) hadn't helped. 

The emotions in our home fluctuate more frequently than those of a full-term mama-to-be. And the effects of Jackson's emotions have reached into the minds of both mom and dad. 


Man your battle stations, people. 
Stock the caffeine, creamer and sauvignon blanc. 
We are officially at a state of war in the 510 residence. 

I believe this war is typically referenced as The Terrible Two's

Well, news flash: we are in the trenches.

I'm trying my best to keep calm, carry on and all that bull-nanny. But really?


I've had to physically wrestle my child out of his pj's, into a diaper, a new shirt, shorts and shoes each day. I've had to pin him down to brush his teeth in fear they're getting cavities due to his ongoing refusal to brush. I've repeated 'no, sweety not everything is yours' and 'we're going to share' more times than I can mentally handle in this moment. 

I have researched. I have prayed. And I have broken down. 

Unfortunately, we're no where near seeing the light.


Jackson is determined, independent and searches for the technicalities in every action. All qualities he's pulled from his mom and dad. In the throws of toddlerhood, I'm desperate to mold these characteristsics into shining qualities rather than potential faults. 

There will be days his attitude will win though, but that's just the battle. That's one single day amongst a sea of others. We will win this war. 

Toddlerhood may tear us down, but we will not be defeated. And years from now, I hope to look back on this salted season seeing the toddler he was and the gentleman he's become.

Don't forget to send the wine.

***
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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Spicy Baked Ziti

Spicy Baked Ziti #Recipe

The original pin read: Olive Garden's Baked Ziti Copycat Recipe. 

Clearly, no more persuasions were needed to send this recipe straight to the top of my menu plan! After a few rounds through our weekly plans, we decided the recipe was missing something though. 

So enters spicy sausage. And now? This is one our our family favorites! Toddler approved. Husband Approved. And with just a handful of ingredients, Mom approved. 

Spicy Baked Ziti

Ingredients:
1 lb spicy sausage
1 box Penne pasta
1 (24 oz) jar marinara sauce 
1 (15 oz) jar alfredo sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. Boil pasta, set aside. Then brown the sausage and drain. 
3. Mix together the pasta, sausage, marinara sauce, alfredo sauce and mozzarella cheese. Pour into 9x13 inch baking dish and Bake for 20-25 minutes. 
4. Remove from oven and top with parmesan cheese; return to oven for 5 minutes.  


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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May 15. Eight Years

My fingers tapped away at the keyboard working away on my latest recipe post. That is until photoshop presented me with this old photo of me with my G-Pa and a cousin.


This is one of the few remaining baby photos of me after our house burned down a few years ago. Thankful to find this gem from family on Facebook {of all places}. And while I've had this photo hanging on my desktop for a few weeks now as I debated where its home should be, last night was different. Something struck a chord with my heart.

I realized in that moment, it's May. The month he passed. And wouldn't you know, today marks eight years since our family lost a great man.

Eight years.

My Dad told me he'd passed as I was leaving the house to meet friends one afternoon. It was eight days before my high school graduation. I briskly walked to my car breathing deeper in every step. Thankful for sunglasses. I made it 6 of the 12 minute drive before losing the dam of tears. I had in fact just driven by my best friends who were hanging out the windows honking and waving to me. All that joy they had! It released my sadness.

Tears drowned the last six minutes of the drive to my friends house to which I got out of the car and collapsed in her driveway. His loss was the first I'd ever known so personally. Seventeen years old, eight days before high school graduation. I will always be indebted to that friend for her support that day. And even more so to the handful of amazing friends who appeared at his memorial mass later that week.

I'm thankful each day that I've not lost the memory of him, the way I remember him. He taught me to play Majong and Shanghai. He had a little medal we played "hide the medal" with for years. At one point that medal even fell off its spindle it'd passed through so many grandchildren (or one of us broke it, whatever). He loved Braves baseball and earned a Purple Heart in the Battle of the Bulge. He had eight children, 14 grandchildren and was happily married for 57 years.

He's always been a bit of a hero to me. Always will be. Today and fifty years from today.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Motherhood is Messy

It's been clear to me that Jackson needs more structured activities during the weekend. So, I've taken to my Pinterest boards to actually use some of the items I've pinned.

Seeing as Mother's Day was approaching and my go-to gift for Grandparents has been a handprint craft, I knew exactly what we'd do. My nerves run wild when talking myself into letting Jackson purposefully plant his hands into puddles of paint. But? He loves it. Every. Single. Time. 

So?


We crafted. 

At this point we've pretty much perfected the Grandparents line-up. And as the holidays pass, each Grandparent expands their collection of Jackson prints. Ok, so maybe I do these crafts just a little bit for my collection too :)

Printable via The Crafting Chicks
Mother's Day this year was a bit different. We spent the day driving back home from our weekend visiting family in Middle Tennessee. To say that the weekend presented many challenges would be an understatement. 

Many times over the last 72 hours I caught myself whining over, well, a plethora of unimportant things. Jackson's lack of sleep, our lack of schedule, the overall lack of intelligent drivers on the road. This was supposed to be Mother's Day weekend for goodness sake?! I should've been walking on rainbows while tossing glitter or something as equally cheery.

That was not the reality of {most} of my Mother's Day weekend. 

But as we mothers know, motherhood is not all rainbows. In fact, many days are scattered with showers. It's those moments of sunshine though that keep up moving in motherhood. 

For these moments I am grateful. 

Motherhood may be messy, but it's worth every rainbow and every shower. 

linking up for Wordless Wednesday here: That Suburban Momma, My Organized Chaos
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Monday, May 13, 2013

Choosing a 'Good Enough' Life

Yet another wave of feminist leaders are taking a public stance on the current status of American women in and out of the work force. I've seen #leanin appear in my twitter feed more than not in the last months, as women nationwide are analyzing how much they should be 'leaning in' and what that may mean for our individual lives.

Truth be told, I hadn't thought much of Sandberg's 'lean in' theory or the rest of the current feminist movement until coming across Elsa Walsh's article "Why women should embrace a 'good enough' life."

Walsh's elongated view of a woman's life hit close to home, as her ambitions much resembled those that I've had for myself at one point or another.

Before meeting my husband I was all "who needs marriage or kids so long as I love my career?!" This "I am woman, hear me roar" perspective was instilled many years ago as I sat reading letters from the editor in the pages of any glossy magazine my mom would let into the house. These women, these editors? This was the career path I wanted for myself come hell or high water.

And then I became a mother and priorities shifted, they had to. Ready or not, life was changing.

I'd not yet had time to earn my masters degree, obtain that editorial position or get a foot in any sort of door at the time I became pregnant. My plans had yet again been trampled by the Big Guy. This sliver of reality ate me alive during my first trimester, but I trusted in Him and forged on.

I (almost) didn't skip a beat in redirecting my career path after embracing the idea of our new reality (parenting). But to this day, I battle to balance following professional ambitions, finding the flexibility needed in mothering and maintaining a minimum level of 'mom guilt' along the way.

As Walsh says, "there is no real safety net for working mothers."

This, friends, is the reality of my every single day. There is no safety net.

You see, even if I really wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, that's not in the cards for my family. I work not just to pursue personal goals, but to ensure we can put food on the table, pay our student loans and still have some spare change to get Jackson to the children's museum every now and then.

I work in the hopes of being able to give myself, my family and my community all that they deserve.

But now? Now we're being told we're not doing enough, that we (American women) need to lean in more, that men are still running the show and women need to step up their game. Simultaneously, others are proclaiming that as women we can't have it all, end of story.

We're being openly judged by feminist leaders whom in all respects have made it to the top positions within their niche. They've seemingly managed to have it all in their professional and personal life. As a working mom often overcome with 'mom guilt', these women have me questioning everything I hold true.

Walsh advises, "search for work you love that allows flexibility if you want to have children." I'm blessed to have had this flexibility in both of my jobs since becoming a mom. My bosses hardly blink an eye when I postpone our deadlines because daycare has called with the dreaded sick child report. We make it work because at the end of the day, we each know it's family not professions that make our world go round.

But while I've made it work, I have certainly been tempted to drop it all and stay home with Jackson. And then I wonder, what will I do I five years when I'm ready to re-join the work force. How will I ever explain that the last job on my résumé was ages ago, that I chose my children over following a mentorship with the best attorneys in our state?

This doubt nagged my spirit for some time as I contemplated staying home to which Walsh says, "...don’t quit completely because, as wonderful as parenthood is, it cannot and will not be your whole life. Learn how to manage conflict, because the greater the level you can tolerate, the more freedom you will retain."

With this statement, Walsh shifts my view of being a working mom and I can delve back into the confidence I held in being a working mom.

Goals I once had are mere memories. They've morphed into a blend of education, parenting, marriage and all around personal growth. Rather than the dreams of my 16, 20, or even 23-year-old self, I'm learning to find comfort in knowing plans change and career paths will present themselves so long as I keep working on myself and my family.

Days are hectic. Drop-off at daycare comes far too early, the kitchen is typically hit by Tornado Erin every morning, I require 2-3 cups of coffee a day, some weeks dinner comes from the freezer every night, sometimes holiday-specific crafts are done far after the holiday has come and gone, Jackson does not get baths every night, my hardwood floors have needed to be steamed for weeks and my dogs both need baths.

But at the end of the day, when I step back I see all I've accomplished: a college degree, a beautiful home, a loving husband and child, a job with bosses whom I adore learning from and friends who keep us laughing. In these moments of reflection I can see that I our ordinary life is good. In fact, it's a great.

And in that emotion, I dare these feminist leaders to tell any woman they need to lean in more, or that they can't have it all because I'm not buying it.

Thanks to Elsa Walsh for reminding me that a 'good enough' life is precisely what I'm blessed to experience each day.

Read Walsh's article "Why women should embrace a 'good enough' life" for yourself.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sorry, Mom Brain.

We made the long haul from South Carolina to Tennessee last night with a toddler who refused to sleep and in fact is somehow still going. How he is managing off only 4 hours of sleep I have no idea. This mama? Already has one venti mocha down and is seriously contemplating another.

So, as we wave the white flag of parenthood, I'd like to introduce you to a dear blog friend of mine, Sarah. She's kind of the best, so be sure to show her some loving!
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Hey y'all! I'm Sarah and I'm the sometimes sweet, but mostly sarcastic, author and owner of It's a Vol! a blog dedicated to our life raising up our little Southern belle, Evie. I'm a tiny bit hippie and a tiny bit not (I love cloth diapers, but if you try to take my hair products away and go no 'poo then you'd best be a 8th degree ninja black belt because that isn't going to work). I'm passionate about every thing I do. If I'm not passionate about it I don't do it (see also: crafting of any kind). I enjoy baking, cooking and loving on the handsomest guy in the world. You'll rarely find me without my Nikon in hand. I love photography which is convenient because I just happen to be in possession of the world's cutest little girl. I am a front line fighter in the war against the momma wars, a passionate advocate for women suffering from post-partum mental illness and refuse to define myself as any type of parent other than good. I hope you will stop on by and say hi! I love making new friends!

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You know that time before you had kids when you'd look at a harried mother juggling a shopping cart, a whining toddler, purse and diaper bag and thought to yourself, "If I ever have kids, that won't be. I'll keep my shizz together!"? Come on admit it. We've ALL been there. Then we had kids and at some point looked back at our smug self with her pre-baby body and wanted to smack her upside the head.

Because y'all, mom brain is a real thing, caused by juggling 873,654 things in our brains all at the same time.

Coffee sounds nice, wait, when are school picture dates again?, creative play ideas moon sand, play kitchen, sensory bins, mystery matter, toy dinosaurs and trains, I wonder if I can demonstrate the three states of being, science is so important, what were the three states of being again?, Solids, liquids and gas, OH! must remember: car needs gas, I wonder how many cents off we have on the kroger card, hmmm time to check the grocery and pantry status (must NOT run out of avocados), PINTEREST, I really need a hair cut, does Evie need more bows?, I want some coffee, those dishes really need to be washed, are we out of olive oil again?, ugh must get oil changed in car, I wonder if Chris can pick Evie up from school so I can go to the gym, wait. when is the next swimming lesson?, REMINDER TO SELF: buy new bathing suits before going to Destin, oh crap also order samples of soft rock, call the kennel and reserve spots for the dogs, is it raining again?, what should we have for dinner tonight?, Ok now I need coffee!, why the heck is the Xbox remote in the kitchen? why did I come in here again? was I hungry? ::opens refrigerator::, nope not hungry but what is the cereal doing in here?, am I going insane?, did Evie's teacher tell me today that she needed wipes or was that last week?, have I already done that?, guess I'll send some just in case, the laundry needs washing and folding, dog! why are you ALWAYS in my way, the dogs need a bath, wait, is bath night tonight or tomorrow? let's see we gave her a bath on Sunday so that means Tuesday and yep tonight is bath night, I'd really like to take a bath, it would be so relaxing and I'm so so ::yawn:: dang tired today, oh! now I remember why I went in the kitchen! coffee!


That? That's about a minute of my day, and it's like that all.day.long. I bet yours is much the same, and that's only the inner monologue never mind that I might have been dressing myself or Evie, feeding the dogs/cats, planning a meal, cooking a meal or cleaning all at the same time.

No wonder I put the cereal in the fridge, forgot to make the coffee and fed the cat dog food.

{What about you? Do you suffer from mom brain too?}

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

She Believed She Could, So She Did {Printable}

My sister-in-law graduates from college this weekend. So, we're packing up and headed out of here Thursday night. Few things are worth the seven-hour drive to Tennessee, but this must be one of the most worthy road trips of all.

There are some students who go to school and leave still naive to the real world. She is not that student.  I could not be prouder of the person she's proven to be during her college years. I know all too well the bleak economy she's entering, especially in her profession, but I know she'll persevere.

She's a believer and a doer, through and through. The goals she has for her career are deserving of admiration, and the efforts she's put forth to earn this degree are worthy of so much celebration this weekend.

In honor of this milestone, I whipped up this printable to frame along with her graduation gift.


Download your own copy of the printable (5x7) here or email me for more details on getting this with custom coloring (erin@theviewfromfiveten.com)!

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Community: It's Why I Blog

Maternity leave is a funny season of life. The days that filled the ten weeks following Jackson's arrival were like nothing I could've imagined. The range of emotions experienced during those first postpartum weeks are only comprehensible through first-person experience.

Feed. Play. Sleep. Repeat. 
Feed Play. Sleep. Repeat. 

In the midst of our three hour routine, I found myself on my macbook discovering mom blogs. Day after day, naptime after naptime, I settled in for my hour of blog reading before Jackson's next feeding. The more blogs I found, the more posts I felt compelled to comment on, the more I began to wonder if they (the bloggers) knew I was commenting. If they (these awesome bloggers) ever checked my Google Profile that blogger comments link to.

At the time, this was actually how I found many bloggers: through the comments and Google Profiles. But clicking my profile wouldn't lead you anywhere because I didn't have it linked to a blog.

The journalist in me already created a little blog to keep family updated and while that was fun, the writer in me needed a place for unsupervised documentation of our days. No old friends peeking in to read, no mother-in-law hearing my latest rant, no one to consider in censoring my writing. It would, in fact, be a place to just write and share our story from my heart.

And these bloggers? They seemed so in tune to my every thought.
In those weeks, I needed to be a part of this community.

Two years ago, I created this blog. I opened my heart, and I began to weave my story within this community May 2011.

I sit here today a stronger woman, a better mother, a more confident writer. I return to this space each week to share my life with the women who cheer me through my happiest of happy and my lowest of low.

The mommy wars wage on; however, the majority of this community continues to finds solace in friendship. I attempt to keep my attention from any of the mommy war hoopla because I know. I get it.

I'm seeing this revolution in mom blogging from this inside and let me tell you: it's beautiful. Not one day passes that I am not encouraging or encouraged by a member of this blog community. In the trenches of modern parenting, life is a mess of gadgets, smart phones, social media and one over-crowded fast lane.

Often society forgets that mothers are also women. Let me say again: mothers are also women. We are not just the person wiping snot from noses, menu planning and attempting to keep our family from drowning in laundry. We are also aspiring to be the individuals we were before adding mom to the resume.

Generations of women have attempted to find balance in the titles of woman and mother. In pursuing this balance for my life, I found blogging. I found a community to lift me up, laugh with me, guide me and pray with me. And I contribute just the same to this community.

So, I'll let the mommy wars continue to wage as I bask in the grace of my mom blog community. I, for one, would not trade this season in blogging and motherhood for anything.

Linking up with Neely and Samantha in their Why Did You Start Blogging linkup!

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Monday, May 6, 2013

Menu Planning How To's

As a newly-wed, I had what seemed all the time in the world. I was still a student at the time while Brandon had just graduated and was working full time. On any given day, I had far more spare time than him and in turn tended to most of the house upkeep, including the cooking and shopping.

I was such a newbie to grocery shopping when we first married. Honestly, Brandon was much more efficient at getting in and out of the grocery back in the day. But I managed to find my own confidence in the aisle of the grocery and soon had my trip running like clock-work. One hour in and out of the door to our house and the budget under $100 every week.

In challenging myself each week to stay on budget and get through the doors of the grocery quickly, I've found that menu planning makes all the difference. The weeks I waiver from menu planning prior to grocery shopping, I'm not only over budget but also looking at a good hour and half wandering through the aisles. Ain't nobody got time for that, mama or otherwise.

For many months, menu planning seemed a bit silly to me. Why take that extra step? I used to be able to plan as I shopped, but things change, mama brain takes over and now I rely on lists and plans.

Attempted menu planning before? Fell off the wagon? Yeah, I've been there.

Here are my best tips to getting your menu planning routine set:

1. Be consistent in planning. Find the day, time, and routine that fit your schedule. For me, menu planning happens Sunday mornings. You'll want at least 30 minutes to plan your meals.

2. Have reliable recipe sources. A few months back, I decided to dedicate a routine to our menu planning and a big part of this has been creating a menu planning pin board. This space holds only items that we'd eat on a week-day basis, quick snacks for the toddler, 30-minute meals and crockpot recipes. 80% of my grocery list will come from choosing our weekly meals from this board.

3. Reference your grocery store's website. We shop either at BiLo or Kroger; each of these stores keep updated discounts listed on their sites. Coordinating these sales and your menu will inevitably keep your bill smaller. Who doesn't want that?

4. Keep track of your recipes. If you buy a bunch of meals but can't remember what they were when 5:00 p.m. rolls around then all your work was for nothing. So, keep the list of your meals in a couple of places each week. Once making my grocery list, I transfer the meal plan over to my life planner. I also, try to keep hold of my grocery list as a second reference throughout the week. Hint, hint: keeping every week creates a go-by menu plan!!

5. Take advantage of printables. Every Sunday I sit down and use my Clean Mama Printables Weekly Menu Plan & Shopping List printable. Of Becky's entire Menu Planning set, this Weekly Menu Plan list has been my favorite! Pinterest is painted with its fair share of menu planning printables and lists as well. And because I couldn't pass up the chance to share my favorites...
meal plan #printables



Menu planning doesn't have to be complicated, it just has to be done! The five (+) dollars you'll have to spare is begging to be spent at Starbucks on the way home.

Do you menu plan? What keeps you on track?

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Baked Tacos: A Cinco de Mayo Recipe!

Our household tends to love a good Taco Tuesday. In fact, we love almost any Mexican dish you want to serve up. But tacos and guac? Well, they hold a special place in our hearts. You should see how much guacamole Jackson gets down. It's embarrassing, really.

That being said, tacos are a meal I can count on actually being consumed by my toddler. So, it's a go-to. However, a few weeks of any good recipe will also bring need to mix it up a bit.

Now enters oven baked tacos.

Baked Tacos #recipe

Simple. Quick. Delicious. Oh, yes, the motto of my kitchen.

It's a simple twist on a taco. By adding refried beans to your taco meat mixture, topping with cheese and popping these bad boys in the oven to bake your usual Taco Tuesday, ahem Cinco de Mayo, is morphed into something much tastier.


Baked Tacos
recipe adapted from Mommy? I'm Hungry!

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef
1 taco seasoning packet
1 8 oz. Rotel tomato and green chili sauce
2 cups shredded cheese {colby-jack or Mexican mix}
lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, tomatoes for topping

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Brown the beef and add in taco seasoning as directed on packet.
3. Add rotel chili sauce and refried beans to beef mixture and let simmer.*
4. Spoon taco meat into shells, top with cheese and line in 9x13 baking dish. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until shells begin to brown.

*It's important to make sure your meat simmers down so that there is little to no liquid. Leaving too much liquid in the meat will create soggy tacos, and no one wants that!

Do you have a favorite Cinco de Mayo recipe? I'd love to check it out, share a link in the comments!

*linking up with Tatertots & Jello, A Night Owl, This Gal Cooks, Uncommon Designs

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mother's Day Gift Guide


Mother's Day Gift Ideas via theviewfromfiveten.com


1. Better Life Bags. I've been admiring this brand for months now. And? The more I learn about creator Rebecca, her cause and her business, the more I love these bags!

2. Coffee mug. Because fancy coffee makes the house feel cleaner. Trust me.

3. Lisa Leonard Stamped Jewelry. I've been smitten over the Teenie Tiny Initials Necklace and the You are Loved Necklace for some time now, and they're quite fitting for this holiday and so timeless!

4. Shari's Berries. Yes, for real. Brandon got be a dozen of these yummies for Valentine's Day and, well, life will never be the same.

5. Target & Starbucks. To say you wouldn't give just about anything for an hour {or two} at Target sans Toddler, would be a lie. Your husband gets it. Your child, will one day, get it. Take advantage.

6. Jack Rogers. Summer is all of a few weeks away. I know we could all use a new pair of sandals; now is not the time to be bashful about needing to restock your closets ladies!

I can't be the only one scheming these and other gifts for this Mother's Day. And, I know you all deserve this day more than any gift could ever say. But, the gifts don't hurt. Right?!

Go now and share this post with your kids and spouses. Or hey, go ahead and order that special something you've been wanting for yourself! Time is ticking!
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