Menu Plan Monday November 2-8


Its been a while since I menu planned, so I figured it was time to get back in the swing of things.

Monday: Ham & Roast Chicken (half the family doesn’t like ham), mashed potatoes, corn, salad

Tuesday: Pepper Steak with Rice, Veggie Stir Fry

Wednesday: Bean Soup & Chicken Noodle Soup

Thursday & Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Fried Chicken, Salad, Mashed Potatoes

Sunday: Panko Crusted Fish & Chips 

I’m doing a meat order with the butcher this week, and have been getting a lot of requests for fried chicken, so I figured I would do a big batch on Saturday, and then since the fryer will be out, I’ll make fish & chips on Sunday before tossing the oil.  I don’t usually do fried food two days in a row, but figured since I’ll have it all set up anyway, I might as well this time, and besides, home fried foods are healthier that the processed fried greasy crap you get as take out because I’m starting with better ingredients, so there’s my justification.

What’s on your menu plan for this week?

For more meal time inspiration check out Menu Plan Monday over on OrgJunkie.

30 Day Fall Decluttering & Cleaning Challenge


30 Day Fall Decluttering & Cleaning Challenge

Every fall, I hire a cleaning service to come out and deep clean the house before my son’s birthday in November. This usually covers me for company in November, and gives me a head start on keeping house with Christmas.

This year, I want to pay myself that money for something fun, and I’m going to start the deep cleaning & decluttering process TODAY!

Thanksgiving is 35 days from today, so I’m giving myself 30 days to get the house in order. Not everything is decluttering and getting stuff out of the house, some of it is cleaning carpets, dusting, putting a hutch back together, putting Mt. St. Laundry away, and getting my consignment stuff binned up for VIP drop off.

Who wants to join me on this 30 Day Challenge?

I’ll be sharing on here, but you can join the discussion over at the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge on Facebook.

Sinfully Rich Chocolate Cake

*Sponsored Post.  I received free Community Coffee in exchange for my post.  Post contains affiliate links.

sinfully rich chocolate cakeFor many, coffee is the nectar of the Gods.  It is what they wake up for in the morning, and don’t even attempt to talk to them until they have finished the first cup.  My husband is one of these people.  I love him, but he can not even attempt to function until he has finished his first cup of coffee.  Me on the other hand, I can’t stand the stuff!  Love the smell, hate the taste.  

I do use coffee a lot when I bake, especially if I’m making anything that includes chocolate.  Coffee makes chocolate taste richer, more decadent, and more like itself.  When you mix coffee into your chocolate desserts you get just a mild hint of coffee flavor, but the chocolate really sings!

However, like cooking with wine, you don’t want to use a coffee that you wouldn’t drink in your baking.  We received several bags of Community Coffee to sample, and my husband’s favorite was the Breakfast Blend, made by the cup using his Aeropress every morning.  

community coffee  

He says that the Breakfast Blend is a perfect cup of coffee, so that was enough validation for me to use it in my baking.

This Sinfully Rich Chocolate Cake can be made into a layer cake for birthdays, but with how rich it is, we prefer it without frosting and just a chocolate glaze drizzled across the top.  The addition of brewed Communtity Coffee Breakfast Blend to both the cake batter and the glaze intensify the richness of the chocolate, and leave just a light perfume of coffee behind.

Sinfully Rich Chocolate Cake
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  1. 2 c sugar
  2. 1 1/34 c AP flour
  3. 3/4 c Hershey's Cocoa Powder
  4. 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  5. 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  6. 1 tsp kosher salt
  7. 2 large eggs
  8. 1 c milk
  9. 1/2 c canola/vegetable oil
  10. 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  11. 1 c hot coffee (yes, it must be hot)
  1. Heat oven to 350. Grease and dust your pans with cocoa powder.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in hot coffee. Your cake batter will be thin.
  4. Pour cake batter into your prepared pan, and bake for 35-40 min, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
  5. Allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan, before removing to cool on a rack.
  6. Cool completely before topping with Chocolate Glaze.
Raising a Family on a Budget
Chocolate Glaze
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  1. 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  2. 1 cup powdered sugar
  3. 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  4. pinch sale
  5. 3-4 Tbsp hot coffee
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cake.
Raising a Family on a Budget

Review: Red’s Burrito Bowls

*Sponsored Post.  I received free Red’s Burrito Bowls in exchange for my post.  

Red's Chicken Burrito Bowl

Tonight, I finally found the elusive Red’s Burrito Bowls!  Several weeks back, I was offered an opportunity to review Red’s Burrito Bowls, but I had yet to see them in my stores.  However, I knew the Red’s All Natural brand because of their tasty burritos.  

My problem in finding the burrito bowls wasn’t that my store didn’t carry them, the store finder even said that my Giant had them, however they weren’t with the regular frozen dinners – they are in the All Natural section of the store, which I didn’t know had its own freezer case.  Maybe if I had asked someone at the store if they carried the burrito bowls I could have enjoyed them sooner, but for some reason, whenever I would think to ask an employee, I couldn’t find one.

So tonight, as I was wondering through the “All Natural” side of the store, I spotted the Red’s All Natural chicken and steak Burrito Bowls.  I grabbed one of each, planning to have one of them for my dinner since we were just doing random leftovers tonight.

All Red’s Burritos and Red’s Burrito Bowls are made with antibiotic and hormone-free meat; and the grains, vegetables and oils are non-GMO.  This is convenience food you can feel good about.

Once I was home, a quick 3 min in the microwave and my dinner was ready – Chicken Burrito Bowl with Cilantro-Lime Rice, Roasted Corn, Black Beans, and Tomatillo Salsa.  It smelled amazing!  All of the great tex-mex spices and aromas were coming through.  When I sat down to eat, Tiny decided that my dinner looked my more appetizing than his, so I decided to share.  He gobbled it right up!  Toddler approved!

Next time I am at Giant, I plan on picking up several more Burrito Bowls to have on hand for quick lunches and dinners.  

Have you tried Red’s Burrito Bowls yet?  What flavor is your favorite?

To find out more about Red’s All Natural, check them out on Facebook.

30-Second Homemade Mayo

*Sponsored Post.  I received free Davidson’s Safest Choice Eggs in exchange for my post.  Post contains affiliate links.

I have always been a firm believer in homemade tastes better than store bought – cookies, bread, jam, and yes even homemade mayo!  

davidson's safest choice pasteurized eggsThere have been a few things that have kept me from making homemade mayo in the past, the first being that it contains raw egg.  Enter Davidson’s Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs.  This isn’t pasteurized “egg product” in a carton, but rather real, in-shell large eggs that have been pasteurized to eliminate the risk of Salmonella in eggs before you even bring them home to your kitchen.  And you know what that means?  When you use Davidson’s Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs you can eat your raw cookie dough, homemade mayo, homemade Caesar salad dressing, and even your sunny-side up fried eggs without fear – even if you are pregnant or a young child!  

Once the egg hurdle was taken care of, my next issue was how long it can take to build your emulsion and s-l-o-w-l-y add in the oil.  This process could easily take 15-20 min or more, depending on the strength of your whisking arm.  Here’s where my stick-blender saved the day.  I have a Braun Hand Blender that’s about 12 years old, so here is the link to the “new model”.  

Davidson’s Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs + Braun Hand Blender = 30 Second Homemade Mayo [Read more…]

New Homeschooling & Cyber Schooling Families: Give Yourself Grace


To all of the new homeschooling/cyber schooling parents:

Give yourself grace. Homeschooling your child(ren), even with a cyber school, is a challenge. There is a lot of work for them, and for you. There is a learning curve as you get used to the technology, courses, and teachers. It takes a while to get your feet under you, and to feel completely confident in what you are doing. Its normal.

Last year was our first year, and the best advice I was given was if the shit hits the fans in any way shape or form, call it a day, and start over tomorrow. You have plenty of time to play catch up academically and be “on task” but don’t jeopardize your sanity or your relationship with your children to do it.

Accept that the house won’t be as clean as you like. Meals might not be when you want them to be. You may not get done everything you want to do during a given day, week, or even month. Remember, that its ok. Everything will eventually get done, and before you know it, you will be talking to a new family telling them that it will be ok.

Think back to when you first had your child(ren) and apply those strategies to getting things done now. Have family help on evenings/weekends so you can do the things you want/need to do. Order carry out, plan freezer meals, and use your crockpot since the days may be longer than you anticipated. Take advantage of the local grocery delivery services so that’s one thing you can cross off your list. Use paper plates so you don’t have to do dishes, etc. You get the idea.

This is only one season of your life, and in each season we have different things we are to learn – in this season its to give yourself grace.

Have a great school year!

Review: Mindprint Learning

*Sponsored PostmindprintI recently was offered an opportunity to have my son evaluated by Mindprint Learning in Princeton.  I am fascinated by how people learn and retain information, it comes from my years of teaching and doing whatever I could to reach all of my students.  The online evaluation took about an hour, and David was able to complete it with minimal assistance from me – not bad for an almost 8 year old.

Over the course of the evaluation, David answered questions a series of questions and completed various tasks to measure his motor skills, flexible thinking, abstract reasoning, processing speed, verbal memory, and more.  

As a teacher, I had administered similar assessments in the past, but never on the computer, and never for an hour straight.  There were little breaks that you could take, but there was no easy way to complete a section of the assessment and then walk away and come back later.  This frustrated my son, and me, as there were a few sections that were particularly challenging and we would have rather taken a break and came back to the whole thing the next day.  Instead, we persevered and completed the assessment.

Once he finished, it was about a week before we received an email stating that our results were now ready.  I read over them quickly, but with the amount of detail provided, the Unique Learning Profile really needed some time and attention so I could process everything that was outlined in it.

Since we homeschool, I have seen first hand what my son is capable of accomplishing and the various ways he goes about completing a task.  What was amazing to me was that a 1hr assessment came to the same conclusions.  “David is a very capable visual learner, but he has more difficulty with verbal tasks” – completely accurate.  I also appreciated how the report took into consideration his age when discussing the results of the assessment, because lets be honest, not many 7/8 year olds take this kind of assessment.

Overall, I am happy with the results of the assessment from Mindprint Learning, and I believe the information in the Unique Learning Profile report will be a great asset to me in the coming year when we are working of various lessons and projects, but also for when I’m expecting David to do things around the house.

For more information on Mindpring Learning, or to have your student evaluated, please visit their website. 

Review: Goldfish Swim School – Fort Washington

goldfish swim schoolWhen I was approached about partnering with Goldfish Swim School in Fort Washington, I was initially skeptical because of my past experiences.  Would they be able to accommodate all three children without having me come out for 3 different lesson times?  Could the lesson times be flexible around homeschooling lessons and Tiny’s nap time?  Would the swim instructors be caring and compassionate enough with my son who is afraid of the water, and still make him feel like a success?

The answer to each and every concern was a resounding yes!

All three children had lessons at the exact same time.  David & Emily were in the BEGINNER class at one end of the pool, while Tiny & I were in the MINI 2 class at the opposite end of the pool.  This was the first major sigh of relief.  We only had to attend 1 lesson time slot per week to get everyone into their lessons!  Goldfish Swim School has many well qualified instructors, so it is possible to offer classes at various levels all at the same time.

They were flexible too!  We had our choice of day and time.  Classes are offered Monday to Sunday, with classes as early as 9am or as late as 7:30pm.  Lessons run every half hour through out the day, and with multiple levels being taught at each time slot, there is a lesson time that could work for every family.

As for the compassionate instructors … they were phenomenal!  My children got so comfortable with their instructors over the 6 weeks, and the level of trust and respect that they had blew my mind.  My son, who was petrified of the water, was putting his head under in only 5 weeks time!  My daughter who had no fear, but couldn’t swim, was swimming unassisted in 6 weeks (yes it was awkward, and yes it was only short distances, but she was swimming).  Then there was Tiny, during our first class he held on to me for dear life, but by week 6 he was jumping into the pool, doing the crab walk holding the side and climbing out with minimal assistance, and he was putting his face in the water.  I don’t think this would have happened so quickly with other swim lessons.

We are taking the fall off from swimming to get used to homeschooling and scouts again, but we plan on enrolling in Goldfish Swim School again after Christmas.

But you don’t have to wait – Goldfish Swim School in Fort Washington has openings now!  Whether your child has ZERO experience in the water, or you are looking for 1 on 1 lessons to strengthen your child’s skills for the swim team,  you really need to check out Goldfish Swim School!

Goldfish Swim School – Fort Washington
185 Commerce Drive
Fort Washington, PA 19034
(215) 220-3828


Reading Eggs: Free 4 Week Trial

*Post contains affiliate links.

Reading Eggs - Free Trial


My biggest anxiety about homeschooling was teaching my children how to read.  Even though I was a public school teacher and have taught English for years, I’ve always taught upper elementary and middle school.  Teaching beginning reading was completely new to me, so I was looking for a wide variety of resources to help my children be successful.

One of those tools that I used to help my children was Reading Eggs.  

Reading Eggs makes learning to read easy and fun by combining books with online reading games and activities. The program is a great way for your child to prepare for school, or help them catch up with their classmates if they are struggling with reading.  

My children showed remarkable improvements while using Reading Eggs over the last year, and I can’t wait to do the next assessment to see how far they have come.  

Take advantage of the FREE 4 week trial and see how your child’s reading improves with Reading Eggs!

What’s In Your Children’s Food?

*Sponsored post.

sprout organic pouch

If you buy a baby food product with a name like Quinoa & Leeks with Chicken and expect those three foods to be the primary ingredients, you would be wrong. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, none of the three are in the top five ingredients, and one is ninth. The same problem applies to many other baby food products, according to CPSI.

This issue has concerned local company Sprout Organic for a long time, leading the company last year to launch a “real, honest and pure” campaign for its own baby foods: “real” because all Sprout products contain whole foods (no concentrates); “honest” because the product names precisely match the top three or four ingredients in the package in descending order (unlike products that list things like kale first even if it’s only a trace ingredient), and “Pure” their product is organic and GMO-free. It is the only brand that is unadulterated by sugar, salt, preservatives, acids, artificial colors or flavors, or thickeners like guar gum. 

As a mom, the best part is that their products taste great, are nutritious, and my children enjoy them.  My children have been enjoying Sprout Organic pouches since they first came on the market in 2008, around the time my oldest was first being introduced to baby food.  I loved that Sprout Organic offered a wide variety of flavors and combinations, similar to what I would mix together at home, and not just the basic orange and green veggies (don’t worry – they have those too).  

Today, my youngest still enjoys the Sprout Organic pouches for breakfast or a snack, and my older children like the fruit & veggie cereal snacks as well as the Morning Smoothie pouches.

You can buy Sprout Organic products at your local grocery stores, as well as at Buy Buy Baby,,, Walgreens, and Amazon.