July Meal Plan

meal plan
Meal plan hanging on my fridge. 

Wow!  It has been a long time.

These past few months have been crazy with a first birthday party, 5th wedding anniversary, family visits, and general life busyness.  With all of these fun, yet chaotic events,  I decided I really needed to get my life schedule in order.

I’ve been a working mom for almost a year now and still have no idea what I’m doing.  Does it get any better?  Moms of multiple children–HOW DO YOU DO IT?  Our laundry room is filled with mountains of dirty clothes, there is dust an inch thick on the bookcases, the floors get the spot mop treatment instead of a soak down, and we are lucky if dinner is more than a steamed bag of vegetables and grilled chicken.

Enter the monthly meal plan.  I’ve tried meal planning so many times during our marriage and have always failed.  My sisters are the master meal planners and have gourmet dinners 6 nights a week.  This month I decided to make a monthly meal plan and stick to it.  I also took inventory of my pantry and did a big grocery haul at the beginning of the month.  So far so good!  I made a Pinterest board “July Meal Plan” and printed off a freebie July calendar and got to work.  I scoured numerous trusted Pinterest boards and websites to come up with an array of recipes.  I really scored big using Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.  If you haven’t checked out her site, you definitely should!  She has so, so many awesome dishes.

Here is what I’ve made so far:

Crock pot Creamy Ranch Chicken–This was an easy throw together crock pot dish that made plenty of leftovers for us!

Chicken Gyros with Soft Wrap Bread–Make the bread!  I know it seems like extra work, but it was delicious.

Buttermilk Waffles — These waffles were easy to make.  I substituted half of the white flour for whole wheat and I couldn’t even tell.  We had some leftovers and I put them in the freezer for later.

Crock Pot Beef Stew and Soft Pretzels–This has been one of my favorite meals so far.  The beef stew is a little bit of work up front (waking up 30 minutes earlier to get it done), but it was so worth it.  There are no words to describe these soft pretzels.  Buttery, chewy, deliciousness–make them.

Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce–This is a staple in our house.  The Pioneer Woman knows what she is doing!

PIZZA!–I’ve declared every Friday night to be pizza night.  This month I’m trying out this whole wheat recipe.  It was pretty good.  Next time I think I will roll it out thinner and pre-bake it to get a crisper crust.

Korean Beef with Rice–I make this fairly often but usually use a different recipe.  This dish had a thinner sauce and was pretty spicy.  We enjoyed it.

I’ve also made my mom’s lasagna recipe and we had a few leftover nights.

I must say, it has been really nice to go home, know exactly what we are having for dinner and that all of the ingredients are in my pantry.  I’ve already started planning for August.  You can check out my August Meal Plan board for some inspiration.

If you have any suggestions for recipe ideas, please pass them along!

Working mamas–if you have any tips and tricks on maintaining a household while working, I’d love to hear them.


First Birthday Party Planning

birthday party 3
Everly almost 1.
I can’t believe I am already starting to think about my baby’s first birthday!  Whew, time flies.  I might still have a month and a half to finish birthday party plans, but it seems that I am behind according to most of my friends, family and online resources.

Whenever I am in party planning mode, I think about my grandma. In her hay day, my grandma was the master party planner.  In fact she still has the notebook documenting all of the parties she planned.  This well-loved book is stuffed full of  lists upon lists with neat little check marks noting completion of each to-do entry.  I can remember some of those lists from the major holiday dinners she hosted at her house each year.  She planned out each and every minute of the days leading up to the event.  I laughed at the the fact that she would write 10:53AM, turn on oven.  10:57AM, put ham in oven.  She was so precise and so intentional about every minute of her preparation that during the party she was able to be present and enjoy everyone’s company and what was happening around her.

But the best part of my grandma’s planning was that she was not fussy about the overall state of her home.  She definitely followed a strict cleaning schedule each week, and her floors were immaculate, but she didn’t get upset if something was too out of order.  When I spent my spring breaks with my dearest cousin with my grandparents at their Florida condo, she was always insistent on celebrating our birthdays with a party with their friends.  She would invite them over for cake and coffee and we would always be talked into showing off our recent shopping trip purchases.  In the 15 minutes before everyone arrived, my grandma shuffled around the condo fluffing a few pillows and happened to notice a few miscellaneous papers and items on the counter top.  She looked at my cousin and me and said, “Girls, watch how to pick up quickly.”  She scooped up all of the items and shoved them in the washing machine.  I loved her stress-free attitude about life’s daily clutter.

birthday party 2
Grandma’s decluttering
Birthday Party 1
A birthday celebration in Florida with my grandma in the background.

As I plan out my daughter’s party, I see myself looking back to my grandma’s expertise. I hope to be organized enough that I can watch my baby light up when she sees her first candle on her first cake and watch those who love her light up when they see her smash her little hands into the icing.  But, I hope to be relaxed enough to not worry about small details and willingly shove them in the washing machine out of sight.

As a Christian, aren’t we called to open our homes and tables and fellowship with others? I want to presently participate in those times of deep conversation and joy.  I don’t want to miss those life-changing moments by worrying about the perfect linens or centerpieces or that there are toys all over my floor.

Will you join me in shoving life’s distractions and clutter in the washing machine?
Be present.  signature