Menu Plan Monday

In attempts to live a more stress-free life… I’m obviously instituting more rules and regimens…. Makes perfect sense right?

Okay, that doesn’t always work…

But something that does reduce my stress daily is to use menu planning.  This allows me to make a grocer’s list that actually stays in budget and all the items on said grocer’s list are actually utilized.  Brilliant, right?!!?  And most importantly, it helps me not stress out about inventing meals on the fly.  Meals on the fly when you’re embracing a whole new way of cooking/eating adds a lot of unneeded anxiety… If you’re the anxious sort like me. 🙂

Without further ado… Here’s this week’s menu…

Whew… I feel more relaxed already. 🙂

Hubs came home and started a fire for me; to keep the furnace at bay.  So I’m off to iron clothes in front of a roaring fire.  🙂

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World’s Worst Blogger????

I had a fabulous weekend…
Hubs’ employer let him out early Friday, and my evening massage rescheduled, so we had the whole afternoon ahead of us… and promptly wasted it at Kroger.  The highlight was our evening though…We went to Dickens of a Christmas, watched 2.5 numbing hours of a parade, enjoyed wonderful Indian fare at Nawab, and of course… Forgot the camera….
Pretend this was my picture…

Source

Saturday was another great day….  We got up and did some yoga, and had some breakfast.  Then we braved the cold to start Theron (and ourselves) running.  Theron did pretty well, but we had to stop a little sooner than we wanted due to his hip issues.  We enjoyed the rest of the day… Cleaning for her, splitting wood and decorating the outside of the house for him.  And then Hubs took point with cooking dinner.  We had some wonderful dinner guests… and were wowed with tales of espionage, and boogers.  Again, I forgot that I owned a camera… Camera Fail #2.

Eggs?????

Sunday we made breakfast (and i got a picture of it!!! WIN FOR ME!) and headed off to Chateau Morrisette for the Holiday Open House.. 30% off a case is enough to motivate anyone!  The drive was gorgeous as it was crisp and clear… and Hubs enjoyed having me drive because usually he gets that job!  It was fun to do the barrel tasting (they open a barrel so you can taste the wine in process) and the “Library” wines.  Plus, we both adore the guy that was at the Library table pouring out the reds.  He’s exceedingly knowledgeable about all the science behind stuff.  We made plans to attend the spring open house he is working at. 🙂  They had some good eats…  Most of it with bacon for flavoring, including some really yummy lima beans.  I know this will come as a surprise, but we totally forgot the camera… again!  CAMERA FAIL #3 of the weekend!  Hubs took his turn reading out loud from The Fellowship of the Ring, for a couple chapters last night.  It’s really getting good, so I think he should skip basketball and stay home to read tonight!!

I think that I am on the ballot for The World’s Worst Blogger 2011.  I always intend to actually write about the weekend as it happens, but then get so caught up in it, I push it aside.  PLUS I stink at using the camera lately.  I’m sure you all agree… Can I count on your vote?  🙂

Hot (Mint) Chocolate!

Last night we went to St. Andrew’s Parish Dinner.  Since we recently joined the parish they asked us to be guests at the event… After almost wimping out, we decided to go.  And it was really fun!!

When we walked in, we showed them our special invitation…  and the lady at the table popped up and said “Let me go get Muriel for you”.  Muriel ended up being super sweet and nice.  She even had us sit with her and her crew.  It was really made us feel more comfortable and included that they had a hostess set aside to make us feel that way.  I am not shy and usually can find someone to talk to, and love to spend time with my husband, so even if we had just spent the time the two of us there I still would have enjoyed myself.  But I can imagine someone less extroverted would really have had a better time based on having a hostess to greet them.
So we sat with a table full of 65+ year olds… and even they called me an old lady.  I don’t know if I shared this with you or not, but I really am like an old lady sometimes… I fret a lot, I like to get to bed early… I just don’t carry hard candies in my purse… yet
Once we settled in, and met our meal partners, they showed us where to go to get our dinners.  It was pulled pork with beans and coleslaw.  Not really the kind of thing I’m into these days… but I just decided to bend a little and enjoy the fellowship and to partake in a little of the pork… the beans… and some of the coleslaw… and of course my decaf coffee (more evidence I am secretly 80 years old).  The dinner was served in two lines.  While in line for our eats, I was in front of this super chatty, super friendly woman named Julie who reminded me of my Aunt Sherry… She cracked me up!!!  She even asked us to sit with her, but we already had seats of honor with the welcoming committee, so we had to pass.  I did tell her we’d stop by after.  Sometimes I say that, and I don’t end up following through because I worry someone was just “being nice” and “taking pity” and didn’t really want me to stop over… but I mustered up my courage (again) and we sauntered over after our dining companions all left (they left by 6:30… the meal started at 5:30… they do not mess around at meal time!)  I’m glad we did!!!  At her table sat the homebrewing neighbor from the Hokie Tailgate Party from this past Saturday!  Random right???  It was funny; he kept being so proud of himself for remembering things… Like me being gluten free… and his lady friend kept being like “Yes, Harry, I remember… I wasn’t the drunk one…”  Hil-arious!!!!

We closed the place out with my new friend Julie, her personable boys and Harry and Lynn.  Very nice time. I was fully expecting it to be 8:30 when we got out… So imagine my surprise and delight when it was only 7:15!!!!  Since we rolled into the driveway at 7:30, we excitedly started planning out a few hours of fun.  We realllly didn’t want to turn the TV on… so reading The Lord of the Rings out loud, snuggled up in the living room, on the couch with the tree a-lit and the fur-babies surrounding us seemed just right!!

Does anyone else read out loud with their spouse/family?  We really enjoy this… It’s so nice to be at the same place in a book and to be able to share little jokes about it.  But I mentioned it in front of some friends of ours, and the husband, who’s in mental health, asked if I was “re-parenting” Hubs.  That kinda left a funny taste in my mouth about the whole thing.  I always thought it was normal to read aloud as a family and didn’t see why I couldn’t/wouldn’t do it if it was just Hubs and I… Thoughts?

Anyway… as we discussed our plans, Hubs filled the dishwasher, and I prepared a dessert for Saturday…  We’re having some friends over that evening for dinner, and I had decided to go kinda low key on the desserts…. So I made a quick batch of peppermint bark…  That totally got me in the mood for some hot (mint) chocolate!!!  I have a very very big weakness for chocolate and mint… I used to eat a peppermint patty and an apple for lunch when I worked at SuperValu in high school…. and a Pepsi…  The only survivor of that part of my life to now is the apple! 🙂

We had a some silk mint chocolate soy milk in the fridge, some peppermint syrup in the coffee area and some extra candy canes…  So I created…  And it was so delicious….  And because I’m nice like that… I’m sharing the recipe!!

Hot (Mint) Chocolate
1 1/2 cups Mint Chocolate Soy Milk*
1/2 cup coconut milk*
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/8 cup peppermint syrup
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp maple syrup

Candy canes & Mint Chocolate Marshmallow for garnish

On Low-Medium heat, whisk soy milk through maple syrup until thoroughly combined and heated through.

Pour into mugs, garnish!

Easy.  Simple.  Delicious.

* You could easily substitute any kind of milks for these milks.  I don’t honestly think the silk mint chocolate one really added much mint or chocolate flair to the beverage.

Random Musings…

I have a whole mess of stuff to share, and I’m so tired from item # 3, that I am too brain-stupid to put it all together pretty.  So I give you, Random Musings…
  1. Funny story… With this whole going vegan thing… I sorta enjoy teasing my mom… The biggest reason for that is she says things like “I don’t know why you’d want to make your life more difficult.” or “Oh no, what am I going to feed you”, that sorta  thing.  Today we were on the phone and she was sharing her dinner plans… Here’s the convo, paraphrased for your convenience.
    Mom:  I’m having a salmon burger tonight… They are supposed to be so good and they are only 170 calories… That’s a lot more bang for your buck than those little puny hamburgers I’ve been eating (She’s been eating 1/2 cup portions of the beef) and Kimmie (her best friend) has been raving about the salmon burgers, she eats them all the time!
    Mindy:  That’s so funny!  We’re having black bean burgers for dinner tonight!
    Mom: You mean “pretend” hamburgers… (See she loves to pick at my food choices)
    Mindy:  Yes, kinda like salmon burgers are pretend hamburgers.

    🙂  Makes me laugh!

  2. I might have finally gotten the hang of the whole Pinterest thing…  And found this…

    I would fully expect a (well, another) post on this topic soon… But I definitely have this problem more than I want to!
  3. I literally worked myself exhausted today…  Here’s the list…
    1. Laundry (This was actually quite a job since I hadn’t taken down the hang dry stuff for a while!)
    2. Changed sheets in guest rooms
    3. Ironed
    4. Reorganized mug cupboard
    5. Reorganized drawer with plastic wrap, plastic bags, etc.
    6. Made bread
    7. Completed most of my mending
    8. Made “pretend” burgers for dinner
  4. Theron has NOT I repeat, NOT actually learned to stop barking at the mailman.  I believe he was just lulling me into a sense of accomplishment only to have the element of surprise on his side when the lunged (almost) through the glass door at poor Jon the Mailman today.  No wonder we always end up giving him more and more for Christmas each year! (Jon the Mailman, no Theron).
  5. We decided to give TV a rest at night for a while.  Since it keeps us up so late we dont’ get up on time.  It’s clearly the TV’s fault… not ours. I’m already plotting how to entrap Hubs into watching NCIS and NCIS:LA tonight.  Shhh… Don’t tell.  He never reads the blog, so my secret is safe on here!
  6. Hubs just got home from grocering, so I have to go make dinner.  I hate making dinner when I’m tired… anyone else???  I keep trying to talk myself into the silver linings of it… (Like AliMc) such as… How lucky I am to have all these dollar tree colanders, they don’t have handles so I scald my hands on the steam but they do drain.  It’s not working yo!  But here’s the attempt…I’m lucky to be able to make dinner, we have food to make things with and I’m a good little cook.
That is alls I got for you folks!

Is it just me….

Or do days in December secretly have less hours in them????

I swear we did a ton this weekend, but it never felt like we had enough time to do it all!

Friday night we went to our financial advisor’s holiday party.  We’ve been invited each year since 2008, but this is the first time we didn’t go to Dickens of a Christmas to go to his party.  It was nice because we got to meet his new admin, who was amazing.  Funny, sweet and just our type of person.  We adore her and her husband.  We were also the youngest people there by a decade I think!!  I chose to look at that as us just being proactive in our young age. 🙂  We also scored free coupons for coffee at Cups (a cute little coffee/tea place in the Grandin area) so we enjoyed a cup of decaf and a treat after the party (An everything bagel for him; a vegan, gluten free chocolate covered pb bar for her).  🙂

Saturday morning we took a very nice long walk to the Grandin, and then around the neighborhoods snaking our way back home.

Before racing off to our next exciting adventure, we were able to “winterize” the yard…  Yaks away, tables/chairs stacked and covered… Ready for the snow I don’t think we will see this season…  It was so cute though… Hubs set things up in preparation for snow… “I put the table on it’s side so it doesn’t bend under a big snow”… Can you tell we’re northern transplants??? 🙂  However, the whole winterizing process went much quicker than i expected, thanks to having cleaned out the shed… so we had time to get our Christmas tree!

And we spent the evening watching the Hokies lose. 😦  But it was super nice.. we went to a friend’s house who was having an outdoor tailgate…. complete with grilled foods, a tailgate tent, a blow up Hokie bird, a fire pit, an outdoor TV and access to his neighbors three keg kegerator (and SCORE for me, he also had a bottle of GF homebrew!)  It was the best possible way to see the worst possible game. 🙂

Sunday was a little later starting than we hoped… With the game being a late starter (8:00 pm), we were out too late to hit up the 7:30 am mass on Sunday morning… but we did make it to 9:00 am.  Since it’s Advent, it’s extra busy at church so we were lucky to sit together for how close to the wire we made it there!  One of the cool things about St. Andrews is they have a suspended Advent wreath… It hovers and is so cool.  I’ll try to get a picture when we’re there next week for the St. Lucia Festival.  We also were able to find a St. Francis tag for Theron.  We looked in Italy with no luck, so it was nice to find it close to home. 🙂
We took Theron for his walk, and ate a quick lunch… Then we were off again!
Virginia Mountain Vineyards had their holiday open house… They are a smaller winery out in Fincastle, VA.  They have a fun holiday spice wine we like though!  We got to taste their wines, see the facility and….. make grapevine wreaths!!!!  So much more difficult than it looks.  We added bells to Hubs’ and it made a home for itself over the mantle.  We ended up at Alejandros (for the salsa bar) for dinner.  I will admit that it tasted pretty good, but I had huge regret about spending the money and being lazy.  I just am so frustrated with coming up with dinner ideas and cooking.  I have a little touch of a sinus thing happening, so I’m blaming the lazy-factor on that!
We also were able to hit up the Goodwill next to Alejandros and scored a few pairs of scrubs.  With all this business image and networking and such, the SBA guy and I discussed what I had for a uniform or similar and I settled on scrubs…  I’m taking votes on if that’s good or bad???
Then we finally got down to decorating the house…  We decided not to go overboard this year and are pretty content with the results!  I love the mantle, with Hubs’ wreath!!!

Smores has made a nest in our new wreaths…

Hubs always has light duty

Decorating fuel…  Coconut Egg Nog… TO DIE FOR.

Today’s been a little bit of a bust, I slept in late because i think my lack of sleep is part of why I have that sinus thing goin on…  Back to laundry duty… and to make some meal plans… I think not having a plan is what is making me kinda frustrated with going plant-based and being gluten free…

You can’t believe everything you read…

But you totally can believe this.

Watching episodes of shows totally makes running:
a) go by so quickly
b) so much easier to do because it’s so distracting
c) totally easy to want to continue doing

There you have it.

This is thee one time you will ever hear me full on condone TV.

We don’t have cable so TV’s not a big part of our life… but wow… watching Castle on Hulu today made three miles feel like three-quarters that much.  Hoooray!!  (Send distracting show ideas my way please!  I’m up to date now on The New Girl, 2 Broke Girls, NCIS, NCIS:LA, and Bones)