::finding joy

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The holidays can be so overwhelming–so much to pack into already full days and nights. So, I am going to look for little things this month that make me happy. I want to let the busyness go and enjoy Chrismastime. The month leading up to Christmas is really the best part, in my opinion.

I’ve been so inspired by being part of the sewing/quilting community on Instagram. I have enjoyed looking at all the wonderful creativity is out there. I am usually a pattern follower, but I see people whipping up simple, little designs on their own, so I decided to play around a bit in the sewing room the other night.

I was inspired by a mug rug I saw posted, but beyond the applique Christmas tree, the rest of this (very) simple design is mine. I did a bit of hand stitching, and tried out the wavy line stitch on my sewing machine for the quilting. It was fun and quick and I think I might make a few more variations on it. And maybe some Christmas tree coasters. Who knows–no pressure.

Where are you finding joy?

dia de los muertos

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My oldest son is an awesome musician and his high school puts on a Halloween show every year called Spooktacular. It has a different theme each year and this one was one of the best I’ve ever seen–Dia de los Meuertos, or Day of the Dead.

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The show ran for two days, so he had different make-up each day. I can’t take any credit for the make-up job, but it was awesome. I confess to not really knowing anything about the history of Dia de los Meuertos, but it’s kind of interesting, and I think I prefer it to Halloween, which is not my favorite holiday.IMG_7652

This boy of mine played guitar with the Jazz Band, double-bass with the orchestra and a trash can with the Trash Can Band (which may have been my favorite). He sure didn’t get his musical talent from me, but I am thrilled that he got it from somewhere, so that I can enjoy it.

 

yarn along

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I cast on a new lap blanket for the Prayer Shawl ministry at church. This is the Ted’s pattern from Alice’s Embrace. I’m really a quilter, so the patchwork design appeals to me. I’m hoping it will be a nice project as we read through Hatchet in the evenings as a family. I just got Big Magic from the library. Hmmm. Not sure how I feel about this one yet. I love the encouraging tone, but it’s a little “out there” for me in some parts. (see: Ann Patchett story). It’s early days yet, but I’m interested in how it will unfold.

meal plan monday

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When I sat down with the calendar on Sunday to create a meal plan for the week, I realized that this is a very busy week: soccer, music, play rehearsals and performances. Still, we need to get dinner on the table every night, busy or not. Here is what I came up with for the week, which is built around a single theme: EASY

Monday: Rotisserie chicken (Costco), roasted vegetables (peppers, onions, mushrooms, sweet potatoes), Harvest Grain Blend (Trader Joe’s)

Tuesday: Crockpot chicken tacos, rice, beans, corn

Wednesday: Tri tip, baked potatoes, green beans

Thursday: Chicken Tortilla Soup (from the leftover taco chicken) , quesadillas

Friday: Stirfry (flank steak, veggies, and rice)

I love that crockpot chicken taco recipe–mostly because it makes absolutely delicious chicken tortilla soup later in the week. Total win in my book. I also bought the rotisserie chicken on Sunday and will just reheat it on Monday.

I also spent a bit of time in the kitchen on Sunday and made up a batch of chai concentrate, hard boiled eggs, and chocolate chip cookies. That should give us a good headstart on the week. I’d like to experiment with a big Meal Prep Sunday, but so far I’m a bit intimidated. I just discovered a YouTube channel called Mind Over Munch, and she does a big meal prep. I need to do a little more research.

What are you cooking this week?

Linking up with I’m an Organizing Junkie.

teapot mini

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A few fun little finishes this week. Ever since Erin’s book Sweet Tweets came out a month or so ago, I’ve been itching to dig into these adorable projects. I’m a sucker for patchwork + linen, so there are so many adorable choices. I landed on the patchwork tablerunner (though I’ll use it as a mini quilt). I pieced the patchwork border with a mini charm pack of Hello Darling from Bonnie and Camille. I need more of this line, I adore it.

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Creating the little birds had me a little nervous, since Erin’s technique is to use a darning foot and free-motion the outlines. This is a technique that is very similar to my good friend Minki, only she uses an applique foot for more control. I tried it both ways on some practice pieces (both turned into coasters) and personally found I like the applique foot method best, though I had a lot of fun creating that tree!

Ultimately, Minki drew some teapots for me for the center of the mini, and I can never resist a teapot. I’m thrilled with how it turned out, though I admit to debating whether or not to quilt the linen around the teapots. I decided not to, but I’m still not sure. I can always go back and add it in later, but I’m always afraid I won’t like my quilting in such a visible area (read: chicken).

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Check out both Minki’s and Erin’s websites if you haven’t already–they are full of gorgeous projects!

meal plan monday

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I’m not sure how everyone else gets dinner on the table every night, but for me it wouldn’t happen without meal planning. I would be a wreck at 4pm every day if I didn’t know in advance what we were eating and that we had the ingredients to make it.

To make this happen every week, I sit down for an hour (or less) on Saturday or Sunday and make a plan. I get down the binder of recipes , maybe a cookbook or two for inspiration and the calendar. Some weeks are built on easy favorites because our schedule is full. Other weeks have a bit more space and time to try something new, or something that takes a bit more prep. But having the calendar in front of me to make sure that the ambition of the meal matches the activity level for the day is key.

I don’t have formula for the week, as I’ve heard others do: Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, etc. But I do sketch out a rough idea this way:

  • beef
  • chicken
  • main dish salad /soup (depending on the season)
  • pasta
  • vegetarian

Then I feel like I have some kind of framework to build on. I also call out to anyone who is around and ask, “Give me one thing you’d to have for dinner this week.” That usually gets me started. It’s important to me that at least one day a week no one is unhappy about dinner, so I aim to please on Friday. One other consideration is to not have too many meals in a row that one child doesn’t like. I’ve got one kid who hates rice and anything Asian (the rest of us love it) and another who despises anything involving cheese. So, dinner can be somewhat of a diplomatic endeavor.

I also only need to plan out five dinners because the Husband cooks on Saturday and the kids cook on Sunday–and they don’t plan ahead. And though I plan and shop for them, the Husband actually cooks dinner on Monday and Wednesday as well, since Boy #2 and I don’t get back from soccer practice until 6:45 pm. I’m sounding a little spoiled, don’t you think? Still, the plan is key to making it all happen.

I thought I’d start to share some of our meal plans here, since I love getting a glimpse into other people’s ordinary days.

Monday: Panko-crusted pork chops, rice with gravy, green beans and salad. We don’t have a “recipe” for this, but here is a similar one.

Tuesday: Apple chicken sausages with rolls, tater tots, broccoli

Wednesday: Heuvos Rancheros

Thursday: We will be at a school performance, so dinner will be from a Taco Truck

Friday: Spaghetti Carbonara and salad

In addition to those dinners I’ve got apple crisp and some pumpkin muffins on the list to make as well.

What are you making for dinner this week? Check out I’m an Organizing Junkie for some more inspiration.