Monthly Archives: January 2014

2014 Goals

Everyone likes to make resolutions on December 31st and start them first thing January 1st; however, most end up losing focus come mid-January. I like to take my time and think about what it is I have up my sleeve for the coming year.

2013 was a HUGE year in terms of major life events. We moved and had a baby, within two weeks of each other – meaning, we moved with a two-week old … on Halloween. Enough said. 🙂

My goal for 2014 is to simply settle in. I want our family to settle together in our new home and just enjoy each season as it comes. In addition to settling in, it is Wesley’s year of firsts, and this excites me greatly. We will have first words, first steps, and crawling. Adventures in baby food making will be a blast, and of course, his first birthday. We have Easter, spring, summer, the beach … oh, the potential. I love the first year. 🙂

With the above in mind, I also set some smaller goals and tasks for 2014. There are so many things we want to complete with the house. We need to paint the dining room, and clean the garage. I want to get rid of A LOT of stuff. 2014 is a year of purging stuff we no longer use. The attic needs reorganization (much stuff was put up there during the move) and we are going to have a few yard sales this summer.

I also have educational goals in mind, but really, I just want Jack to have a year of freedom to explore. He is starting to grasp reading and we have plans to work on encouraging that path. I would like to find a table top easel for the classroom and work on art projects. He loves to create, whether he is drawing, or building. We are going to run with that creative streak.

So, the above are our main goals and areas we would like to focus on. Below is our list. 🙂

2014 Goals

Family

  • Settle in.
  • Hike more.
  • Beach more.
  • Garden together
  • A summer family photo session with Jessica Boyd

House

  • Sell, donate, or re-purpose unused items, clothing, toys, books, furniture, and household items no longer in use.
  • Organize three or four solid yard sales for the spring.
  • Plant vegetable garden and flower gardens.
  • Put up window boxes.
  • Paint outside of house.
  • Fully clean and organize garage.
  • Fully clean and organize the attic.
  • Set up bird feeders and houses.
  • Paint dining room.
  • Paint hallway.
  • Frame and hang photography in the hallway.

I am sure there are more house related things … 🙂

Educational

  • Form co-op for SECT.
  • Work on meet-ups.
  • Jack – library classes, DPNC classes, a summer camp.

Financial

  • Work to pay off medical bills.
  • Work on building emergency fund.
  • Save enough money to renew our Mystic Aquarium membership, probably in early summer.

Personal

  • Work heavily on my blog.
  • Do more yoga.
  • Read more.

Stayed tuned for many blog posts about the above goals. Do you have any goals for 2014? What direction do you want to take this year?

Happy 2014,

The Joyful Homemaker

Post 15 of 365 Real Foods Series: Tomato, Feta, and Kale Omelet

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Scrambled eggs with kale and bacon were on our menu plan for this morning, and of course I made the bacon, BUT I woke and wanted to upgrade the scrambled eggs to an omelet. I decided on a tomato, feta, and kale omelet. This one is easy, healthy, and delicious. It takes no time to whip up this breakfast.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 egg
  • 1 Roma tomato (or a few grape tomatoes diced)
  • A handful of kale (I used frozen)
  • As much crumbled feta as desired. I LOVE Mt. Vikos (IMO, it is the best)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil, butter, or Ghee for the pan

Directions:

  • Put pan with desired oil on stove.
  • Whisk egg and pour into warm pan.
  • Once it starts to become less runny, put in tomatoes, feta, and kale (you can use spinach as well)
  • Once it starts to firm up nicely, flip one and fold in half.
  • Cook and then flip once. Continue to cook until done.

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This omelet is basically a healthy, restaurant quality omelet. Pair with whatever fruits you like. We choose mango and blueberries.

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Enjoy.

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

Post 14 of 365 Real Foods Series: Easy Breezy Chicken Tacos

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Tonight is Taco Thursday; however, earlier this morning I thought I might make chicken pot pie instead. I decided to go the easy route and make my Easy Breezy Chicken Tacos. The boys and I have spent all day relaxing and catching up BIG TIME on play time. 🙂 I didn’t feel like getting elbow deep into making a pie crust on a lazy day.

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These tacos are a favorite among the family AND I always plan for them when I know I have leftover chicken. 🙂

Ingredients:

  • About 1 lb of shredded, cooked chicken
  • 1 1/2 cups of Salsa
  • 1 – 15 oz can of small white beans
  • 1/2 tablespoon of taco seasoning (I use Penzey’s)
  • 1 cup rice
  • 3 cups liquid (water of stock will do) – reserve 1 cup on side
  • Taco shells (hard or soft), or eat directly out of a bowl, I often put over salad greens for a delicious salad.
  • Shredded cheese (optional)
  • Sour cream (optional)

Directions:

  • Cook rice on stove according to ingredients – 1 cup of rice, 2 cups of liquid
  • Shred cooked chicken in food processor
  • When rice is done, toss in shredded chicken, salsa, beans, taco seasoning, and 1 cup of liquid into pan with cooked rice. Cook over medium high heat until liquid is absorbed
  • Remove from heat and serve as desired

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🙂 Well, that’s it; easy breezy chicken tacos. There’s practically nothing to them. If you can cook chicken and rice, you’re good to go with these. They are delicious!

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Enjoy!

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

Post 13 of 365 Real Foods Series: Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies

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I bet you weren’t expecting peanut butter fudge brownies in my real food series, but these are as healthy a brownie as one can eat, plus everyone in the house thinks they are amazing.  My favorite part is how fast and easy they are to prepare.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, can use only 1/2 cup but it is a DARK chocolate with a little bitter undertone
  • 1 T green grass powder, optional but a great healthful addition
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup good chocolate chips
  • if you want them cake-like instead of fudgey add 1/2 tsp baking soda with the other ingredients

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease 8×8 inch pan, I use coconut oil.
  3. Throw all ingredients through the vanilla into Vitamix, or other blender.  Add in 1 tablespoon chocolate chips reserving the rest for the top.
  4. Blend thoroughly.  Scrape down, blend again.
  5. Pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with reserved chocolate chips.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, cool in pan on a rack.
  7. Cut and enjoy.

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I am going to leave you with a picture of a great treat.

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Happy Brownie-Making,

The Joyful Homemaker

Post 12 of 365 Real Food Series: Snicky Snacky Dinners

Last night and tonight have been what my best friend calls, “snicky snacky dinner.” We had veggies, fruits, and pretty much just a healthy free-for-all in the kitchen. We looked in the fridge and grabbed some healthy stuff.

Last night, John arrived home late from a work meeting, where they devoured bacon pizza (yup – jealous), so I had one of my favorite salads, bacon, tomato, cucumber, goat feta on romaine lettuce with Penzey’s Caesar dressing, (recipe at bottom of post). Jack decided he didn’t want a salad, so he had a peanut butter and jelly on gluten free bread, some raw broccoli, and an organic blueberry apple sauce cup.

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Tonight’s dinner for the kiddos was anything and everything healthy from the fridge. There was far more food on each plate but the kids devoured their food before we could get pictures.
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The kids enjoyed blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, cucumbers, chicken, cheese, and carrots. We enjoyed chicken wings and gluten-free hard cider.
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Every once in a while we have a dinner of basically whatever we can find in the kitchen. Do you have snicky snacky dinner you love?
Happy Homemaking,
The Joyful Homemaker

Our Creative Learning Space

When we looked at our house in July, we knew immediately it was the perfect house for us, with the perfect amount of living space. We also knew exactly where our creative learning space would be. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this space.

Upon moving in this area became known as the play area. It housed kiddos, toys, and unfolded laundry (our laundry room is right there, too). It wasn’t much of a creative learning space, but more of a overstimulating mess.

Within a few weeks of moving in, Jack stopped picking up his toys completely. When asked to pick up, he would sit on the ground and cry. It became clear he was simply overwhelmed with the sheer volume of stuff we had accumulated. I moved all of his toys to the garage and something miraculous happened; zero tantrums and to this day, he is content with very little. We also established our, “one thing at a time” rule

Two days ago I finally tackled the toys in the garage. I organized everything we wanted to keep and set up donation boxes for the rest. I removed our train table from the play area and quickly put together a functional, peaceful environment for Jack, Wesley, and their friends to play and learn.

Take a look at our finished creative learning space. 🙂

Before … 

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After …

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We want our creative learning space to offer a lot of stimulating books, a few creative toys, some of Wesley’s toys, and space to play.

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We added in some inspirational art work as well. 🙂

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All of our toys are now organized and have a home in our wicker wardrobe.

  • Mega Blocks
  • Lego Duplo blocks
  • Thomas case
  • Leap Letter Learning Case
  • Animal, bug, and dinosaurs figurines
  • Play-mobile ark and zoo set
  • Lincoln Log sets
  • Play food and tools
  • Matchbox cars
  • Musical instrument bin

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Jack’s Trackmaster train tracks are in the top drawer.

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Dress up clothes are in the bottom drawer.

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All of our arts, crafts, games, and educational materials are housed in the laundry room. Jack also has a bin of wooden train tracks and trains that stay out because he plays trains every day.

Jack has zero toys in his room other than his stuffed animals, books, and his camera. When looking at houses, we knew we wanted a place with a designated play/learning area. I am thrilled Jack has no toys in his bedroom. His tablet stays in the kitchen on top of the fridge. He uses the tablet when it is provided to him.

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I hope you enjoyed the tour of our creative learning space and Jack’s room. Do you have a designated play or learning space? Do you have a specific organizational system that works for you? <3

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

Post 11 of 365 Real Foods Series: Winter Soup

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Yesterday and today were very productive days. I managed to completely remodel the play area into our creative learning zone (aka classroom), clean the garage up a bit, finish laundry, and today was spring-like, so I took both the boys outside for some D. Jack played in the dirt, threw rocks, rode his “bike”, and raced around like a maniac. Wesley slept in his seat next to me. We spent some needed time outdoors and it was glorious!

In spite of all the accomplishing, and wonderful weather, I haven’t felt quite right for most of the day, and last night’s sleep was very staggered (even more so than normal with a nursing baby).

Time to break out some powerhouse soup. This soup is enough to bring down an army of illnesses. I make this soup many times during the winter to stave off viruses and during the spring to help with allergies. I am hoping tonight’s batch will take down whatever it is I am carrying around.

Ingredients:

  • Handful of cooked, diced chicken
  • Handful of kale (I happen to have frozen for this batch)
  • Handful of chopped carrots and celery
  • Small handful of chopped onion
  • Two cups bone broth of chicken stock
  • One cup of water
  • Garlic powder
  • Turmeric
  • Chili powder
  • Pink Himalayan Salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Can or pre-cooked, white beans
  • Optional – rice or quinoa
  • Optional – shitake mushrooms (my husband hates mushrooms BUT these will add some serious illness fighting properties to the soup)

Directions:

  • Pour bone broth and water into stock pot on stove. Set on high.
  • Add chicken to pot.
  • Saute onion in olive oil
  • Microwave carrots and celery for two minutes in a small amount of water (this is not a necessary step – I find it make them slightly soft)
  • Dump onion and olive oil directly into pot.
  • Dump carrots, celery, and water directly into pot.
  • Dump in kale and beans.
  • Add turmeric, garlic, chili, and salt (use as much as you like)
  • Once at a boil, turn down to medium heat.
  • Cook until everything is soft.
  • Pull off heat and enjoy!

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This soup is versatile and easy to make. I often toss in some cauliflower and cabbage ; however, a nursing baby often doesn’t tolerate either, and mine is no exception.

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Do you have any soup remedies you swear by during the winter cold season?

Happy Soup Making,

The Joyful Homemaker

 

Post 10 of 365 Real Foods Series: Digestion Cookie Dough

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My friend Alicia of, Peace, Love, Laundry, and Food, makes amazing “cookies”that help aid in digestion. They are really tasty and really easy to make.  She uses simple ingredients and they have quite a bit of healthy fats and protein. I love these SO much I just had to feature them as my Day 10 recipe.

Check them out on her blog, http://peacelovelaundryandfood.blogspot.com/

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http://peacelovelaundryandfood.blogspot.com/2014/01/cookie-dough-truffles-aka-digestion.html

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Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

Post 10 of 365 Real Foods Series: Gluten-Free Pizza Bites

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We typically eat pizza once or twice a month and I have pretty much gotten gluten-free pizza crust down to a science. The chewy, rich texture of traditional pizza dough is obviously lacking in gluten-free pizza crust; however, it is still quite tasty.

I distinctly remember nights of binge eating frozen junk food in college, and of course, pizza bites were among my favorites. I thought it would be fun to create our own pizza bites at home using gluten-free pizza dough.

Ingredients: 

  • Pre-packaged pizza dough mix (or flours of choice)
  • My dough called for 2 eggs, water, and olive oil
  • Pizza or pasta sauce
  • Seasoning
  • Cheese (I used cow mozzarella and goat cheddar)

Directions

  • Prep dough according to directions or recipe.
  • Pre-heat oven to 425.
  • Once dough is ready, split in half and roll both into two thin crusts.
  • When preparing gluten-free crust, make sure you rub hands with olive oil. Gluten free dough is not as stretchy and can be a bit sticky. I find olive oil fixes this.
  • Bake dough for about 5 minutes before putting on sauce and cheese.
  • Remove dough and put sauce and cheese on one dough.
  • Place second dough on top of dough with cheese and sauce.
  • Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and cool.
  • Cut into squares with knife or pizza cutter.

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Our bites turned out really tasty. I made an easy dipping sauce with pizza sauce, goat yogurt, and some Italian spices. These were a big hit with Jack and John.

Do you have any healthy, creative recreations of junk food?

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

Post 9 of 365 Real Foods Series: Chicken Garden Goulash

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By the time Friday rolls around, I am done in the kitchen. I need a quick, healthy meal to put on my menu plan that everyone enjoys. This week I knew we were having chicken, so we had plenty of leftovers after today’s chicken salad wrap (I will post tomorrow). My mom hit a good sale at Village Market and brought me a bunch of mark down summer squash, so naturally I wanted to use them up.

I have made Chicken Garden Goulash for years now, and it never fails to please. Below is my recipe for this healthy, one-pot meal. I make it using gluten-free pasta; however, it can be made using whole wheat, or any other form of pasta. Though we don’t typically eat corn pasta, I do prefer it for this recipe. I find brown rice pasta doesn’t hold up as well. It can also be made using rice.

Ingredients:

  • A handful of cooked chicken
  • 1 summer squash
  • A handful of kale (I used frozen)
  • A handful of baby carrots (or diced carrots)
  • A small amount of diced onion
  • Pasta sauce
  • About a cup and 1/2 of corn pasta (or any pasta of choice)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Italian spices
  • Garlic powder

You can use any veggie of choice in this dish, I often use zucchini and I typically throw in some broccoli; however, the baby doesn’t tolerate broccoli. Jack had a bit of raw broccoli with his dinner.

Directions:

  • Boil water, toss in pasta and cook according to directions.
  • Toss olive oil, garlic powder, and chopped onion into pan. Cook until soft.
  • Put carrots, squash, and kale in a steamer, or microwave, and cook until soft.
  • Heat pasta sauce until hot. Add Italian seasoning if needed.
  • Remove veggies from steam and toss into Vitamix or blender with chicken and onions for a quick chop.
  • Remove pasta from stove. Drain, and put back into pan.
  • Add veggie and chicken mix to pasta.
  • Add hot pasta sauce and stir.

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I do hope you put this dish into your meal lineup. It is super easy and it’s a great all-in-one meal. 🙂

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker