5 Simple Meals

Sometimes you just need a simple meal. I might even argue that more than sometimes you just need a simple meal. Don’t shy away from meal planning because you think every meal has to be extravagant. A simple meal can still be tasty and enjoyable. I hope the following ideas inspire you to add a simple meal into your weekly menu.

Note: I will not be including serving size and amounts of ingredients needed for each meal. These meals are so simple that you will be able to determine (for example) how many pita pockets your family needs to sufficiently satisfy the rumbling bellies.

  1. Pita Pocket Pizza                                                                                 Ingredients: pita pockets, pizza sauce, pizza blend shredded cheese, various toppings of your choosing (pepperoni, peppers, onions, etc).          Assemble pizzas and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
  2. Crock pot Chicken over Tortilla Chips                                               Ingredients: chicken breasts, salsa, black beans, frozen corn, tortilla chips Place all the ingredients (except for the chips) in the crock pot and cook on low for 6 hours. Spread tortilla chips on your plate and cover with a scoop of chicken from the crock pot.
  3. Cheese Quesadillas                                                                                 Ingredients: tortilla wraps, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa Place a large handful of cheese in between two tortilla wraps.  Warm/brown tortillas on griddle or in frying pan on low heat. Turn once to evenly brown both sides. Remove from griddle and cut into four triangles with a pizza cutter. Garnish with sour cream and salsa.
  4. Baked Pasta                                                                                            Ingredients: pasta of your choice, pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese            Cook pasta according to box leaving it more firm than done. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add pasta sauce to pot and mix with the pasta. Pour pasta and sauce into a 13×9 pan. Cover with mozzarella cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  5. “Snacky” dinner                                                                                              Ingredients: whatever fruit, veggies, cheese and crackers you have            Prepare ingredients and place on plate. Beyond easy!

There you have it, 5 simple meals. Maybe you can choose one tonight!

What about you? What are some of your favorite simple meals?

Until next time,

Charissa

7 Things I Do to Make My Life a Little Easier

There are plenty of difficult things (both big and small) in life, so I like to make things easier when I can. The other day I was pondering some of the things I do that make my life just a little easier. Here are 7 of them!

  1. I wash my hair just 2 times a week. I find that I can get away with washing my hair just 2 times a week. My pattern tends to be wash, wear it pulled back a day or so, straighten it, use a little dry shampoo, and then wash again. I save time and money by just shampooing and conditioning twice a week.
  2. I order my groceries online. Peapod is the service provided by Stop & Shop which allows customers to order groceries online and either pick up the ordered groceries or have them delivered. If you have a Stop & Shop in your area that provides the Peapod service you can use my link below to save $20 on your first order. http://peapod.extole.com/v2/share/6314317426887085773
  3. I use my dryer as an iron. Overall, I tend to purchase clothes that don’t wrinkle easily, but if I do need to iron something, I choose the dryer over then iron. I put my outfit in the dryer on low heat for 1o minutes or so, and the clothes come out ready to wear. I can make my breakfast, take a shower, or do a quick clean up while my dryer does the work.
  4. My kids ride the bus to and from school. There are many different reasons people choose to drop off and pick up their children at school. So far we have had positive bus experiences, so I choose to send my kids on the bus.  I don’t have to wait for long periods of time in a drop off or pick up line, and my kids enjoy being with their friends!
  5. I menu plan. Menu planning before grocery shopping makes both the shopping and meal preparations much easier. I have been menu planning for many years, and I have found it to be very helpful in so many ways.  You can find my post about reasons for menu planning here.
  6. I eat the same thing for lunch everyday. Eating the same thing for lunch everyday is a helpful way to make that time of the day much simpler.  During the school year my 3 year old eats before me, and I always serve her yogurt and fruit or a simple sandwich. I always eat a salad. I know what I’m going to have each day, and I look forward to my healthy lunch.
  7. I assign chores for my children. My two oldest children have 3 chores that they need to complete each day. (My youngest tags along helping and learning as she goes.) Some chores need to be completed in the morning and some in the evening. I appreciate the help around the house and the skills they are developing. They appreciate the weekly allowance that comes with finishing their chores.

What about you? What do you do to make your life a little easier?

Until next time,

Charissa

Make It Work

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I just returned from a quick 1 mile walk with my 3 year old who sat nicely in her stroller. This is my second walk of the day. My first happened earlier this morning without my 3 year old (while my husband was home). Later this evening I hope to walk while I push my 3 year old in the stroller and my two older children ride their bikes. This is called “making it work”.

I would be very happy to walk 3 miles by myself in the morning while my older two are at school and my husband is home with the 3 year old. Right now, though, this is not the best option. I don’t want to spend a lot of the extra time I might have with my husband choosing to exercise alone. Also, my 3 year old is just now tolerating the stroller after about an 18 month stretch of pretty much refusing to ride calmly. These and a couple other smaller reasons keep me from taking that daily 3 mile walk in one stretch. 3 shorter walks is not my ideal, but I am making it work.

3 walks a day does have its benefits. It is nice to get out and move 3 different times a day. I do enjoy walking alone. I also enjoy the extra calorie burn that pushing a stroller provides. I treasure the time I get to spend with my two older children during our post-dinner walks.

There are so many areas in our lives where we just might have to “make it work”. Perhaps you are hoping to get more sleep each night, but your new baby is making that difficult. Make it work by going to bed a little earlier than normal or taking a 20 minute afternoon power nap. Maybe you want to read more books this month but can’t seem to find the time to sit down. Consider borrowing audio books from the library and listening while cleaning or driving to work. Perhaps you want to have a “clean the whole house day”, but your 4 young ones make a cleaning day impossible.  Instead, choose a room a day to clean; or maybe just set the timer for 20 minutes each day and do what you can. Make it work! Don’t become discouraged by your inability to accomplish these things as thoroughly or completely as desired. Sometimes you just have to make it work!

What about you? How are you “making it work”?

Until next time,

Charissa

5 Reasons to “Write it Down”!

I have lists in various places around my home. My to-do list hangs on the front of my fridge. My meal plan hangs on the side of it. I have notebooks and journals filled with lists and ideas. I have a wide variety of lists in the “notes app” on my phone. Where would I be without my lists and my notes?  LOST!

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I am a big fan of “writing it down” and here is why….

1) I need to remember. I can’t trust my memory. I am really good at remembering names. (I think that’s the teacher in me.) Remembering  details is not a strength of mine. Remembering that “thing” I was thinking about 5 minutes ago that I was hoping not to forget and looking to accomplish tomorrow…. well, that is definitely a weakness. My solution? Write it down!! I write down appointments the moment I make them. I write down books I am hoping to read. I write down names of people I need to call. I write down prayer requests. I write down goals I hope to achieve. All these things are written down in the name of “remembering”!

2) I need to stay organized. I have a husband, 3 children, household responsibilities, a part-time seasonal job, ministry activities, and ordinary life events. I need to stay organized. Writing things down helps me stay organized. I plot out my week on my calendar. I put my to-dos on here as well. I keep track of what I need to do, should do, and want to do.

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3) I need to be held accountable. I find that if I write something down I am more likely to accomplish it. Accountability partners are a great way to follow through on that which you hope to do.  My lists become a sort of accountability partner. Most recently I have been writing down my exercise “to dos” for the day. If I write “go for a run” or “arms”, I am more likely to do these exercises on that given day.

4) I need to be motivated. I am a stay-at-home mom. Referring to my lists keeps me motivated and helps me stay on track as I look at the day before me. I don’t want to be running around as crazy as crazy can be, but I also don’t want to waste moments and hours and days. Writing things down motivates me and helps me keep a healthy balance between those two extremes.

5)  I need peace of mind. If am wishing to keep every thought, idea, hope, and dream in my head throughout the course of a day or a week, well, we know that is just not going to happen. I never like that feeling of, “Who did I want to call?” or “What was I thinking I should buy for my daughter’s birthday?” That kind of mindset distracts, interrupts, and creates anxiety in my day to day life. Writing things down brings peace of mind as I unload my thoughts, ideas, hopes, and dreams onto paper. I can have a clear and calm mind knowing I don’t have to mentally hold onto it all.

Perhaps you find that you are forgetting things that you so desperately were hoping to remember. Maybe you need some organization in your sometimes frazzled life. Maybe you’re needing accountability or motivation. Peace of mind might be your strong desire. If you’re seeking any of these things consider the practice of “writing it down”; you may just find it a help!

How about you? Do you “write it down”? What types of things do you write down throughout the week? Share with me in the comments!

Until next time,

Charissa

Continue reading “5 Reasons to “Write it Down”!”

End the day well

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Sometimes I get to the end of the day, and I am disappointed. I am disappointed in my children’s lack of obedience. I am disappointed in the condition of my home. (Could the laundry pile be any taller??) I am disappointed in the thoughts that went through my head and the words that came out of my mouth. Some days are really ugly. Some days are just sort of alright. Some days are like something out of a feel-good fiction book. The reality is life is full of ups and downs, and each day is different.

I pray and strive for days that are productive and peaceful and full of lots of smiles, but that certainly can’t be (and isn’t) the reality. There is one thing, though, that I try to do no matter the kind of day we’ve had and especially when the day hasn’t gone particularly well. My goal at the close of each day is to end it well.

What does ending a day well look like? It looks like tucking my children into bed and giving them extra squeezes. It looks like speaking words of praise and love to them. It looks like singing a song. It looks like praying and confessing to God and to my children the ways I messed up. It looks like a deep conversation about sacrificial love. It looks like a silly joke that makes them giggle.

In those last few moments after our normal bedtime routine (which may or may not have gone well), I move past all the yuck and hard things of the day and end it well.

What about you? What does “ending the day well” look like for you?

Until next time,

Charissa

5 Benefits of Living in a Small Home

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For the last 10 years my family has lived in what most would consider a small house. Our 900 sq foot ranch house has 3 bedrooms and 1 (gasp!) bathroom. We do not have a garage or a full basement. We love our darling house. We brought our first baby home to this space, and we now enjoy life as a family of 5 inside these walls. There are moments when I want to knock down some walls and gain a little more breathing room, but overall, we are quite content in our home. I have also come to realize that there are some wonderful benefits to living in a small house.

1) It’s easy to clean. I love the fact that my home can be ready for drop-in guests in 20 minutes. If we are hosting a dinner or party it might take an hour or so to clean. I don’t have to go up and down stairs. I only have one toilet to scrub. Toys and clothes can be put away in a matter of minutes. Counters can be wiped down without much hassle.

2) We have less stuff. If you have less room to store things then you have less stuff. Every inch of our house has to be used appropriately, so we can’t be holding onto things unnecessarily. For example, we don’t have a garage or a full basement, so our outdoor toys and gear must be limited. We don’t have lots of extra closets so we can’t buy numerous amounts of bedding or towels. We do have an attic that stores items that we feel are worth keeping (but not keeping in our main space), but we have tried to become more careful about evaluating an item before we put it upstairs.

3) It’s easy to heat. We only need to heat one floor, and we are able to do it for almost no money because of our wood stove. When we first bought our home we received a free wood stove from a friend. My husband spends the spring and summer collecting firewood from family and friends who lose trees in storms or want them removed from their yard. He chops and stacks, too. Free wood=free heat. We love our wood stove. We are always toasty warm, and the stove creates such a lovely ambience.

4) You have to learn to share and put others first. Two of my children have to share a room. That’s not always easy, but they have learned how to share a space. We only have one bathroom, so we often have to “wait our turn”. Yes, it would be nice if my children could each have their own space; yes, sometimes I wish my husband and I had our own bathroom, but we can appreciate the character-building that occurs in a small space.

5) It brings you together. There really is no hiding in our home. Our lives have to be lived in front of one another, so this makes for a lot of togetherness. Yes, we can shut a door (and maybe even lock it), but when it comes down to it, someone is always right there. We have learned how to do life together and have bonded in ways that might not happen if we had more square footage and two (or 3 floors).

We might not always live in this home, but it truly is a gift that we love and appreciate. We are thankful for the years we have had here, and we do acknowledge the sweet benefits of living in a small house.

What about you? Do you live in a small space? What benefits do you find from living in a smaller home?

Until next time,

Charissa