Summer Reading List Update

Well, it’s just about the end of the summer. Sigh… I’m a little sad that I’ll be heading back to work, although to a new and exciting job (more to come on that soon!). I’m going to miss spending the days with my boys, even though there have been some days that have seemed really long. But I’ve gotten used to us being together and sharing all the moments of the day – good, bad, and everything in between. And I’m going to miss my comfy, lazy summer outfits. And I’m definitely going to miss the extra reading time I’ve gotten to enjoy this summer. 

I set what felt to me like an ambitious summer reading list, given I had been at a pathetic book a month at times before now. So attempting three books a month for the summer seemed like I would setting myself up for failure. But I decided I would go for it, post it to the world here to motivate me to stay accountable to my goals, and get reading. I discovered I can check out books on my Nook from the local library, but I also discovered they don’t have the selection I wish they had. I was super excited to use a birthday gift card to Barnes and Noble. I used the “lend me” feature on my Nook for the first time to borrow a book. And I went back to the old standby – a paper book I checked out from the library. Although I think The Coach is willing to reconsider my Nook book budget because he was not a big fan of my having to keep the lamp on in the bedroom to read at night. :)

I am super happy to report, as I write this post, I am on my last book on my list! Here’s my summer reading list (final) update:

Summer-Reading-List Update 2

  1. The Hunger Games Series. I pretty much devoured these three. I definitely liked the first two better than the third, but the series as a whole was great. And I loved the ending. I loved that the characters seemed real with their emotions, even if the story was definitely fictional. I loved the fast-paced nature of the books, although, again I thought the first two moved better than the third. Now I can’t wait to watch the movies, and do my typical, “It’s not as good as the book.” ;)
  2. Rhinestone Jesus. I loved reading the back story of how Kristen Welch started Mercy House and what led her to those choices. A lot of the information about poverty and other countries was a bit alarming to me, and certainly made me think about the excess I am a part of. The statistic that really stuck in my mind, was the fact that being able to choose to buy that book instead of food, put me in the top 14% of the world for wealth. Wow. Really put things in perspective. 
  3. The Fault in Our Stars. This was one of the books where even when I was finished, I found myself thinking about the characters. I loved the story, even though it wasn’t your typical happy-feel-good tale. The dialogue was well written and “real” and so was the story. I was intrigued by John Green as an author before reading this, and am even more so after reading my first book by him.
  4. Thrive. Huge Arianna Huffington fan. ‘Nuff said. **reading this now!
  5. A Jennifer Weiner book. I switched things up a bit and read her book of short stories, The Guy Not Taken. I loved that there were some characters from her other books, like Bruce from Good in Bed. I also loved that while there were stories with completely new characters, they felt a bit like some of the characters from her other books. Josie in three of the stories, seemed very similar to Candace from Good in Bed. And all the stories had that very real feel to them that her books usually do, including characters that are so flawed you have to like them.  
  6. A Jodi Picoult book. I read Plain Truth and loved it. There were parts that were heart breaking, and parts that were tough to read, and parts that made me laugh, and there was the typical Jodi Picoult twist at the end, that I had an idea might be coming, but wasn’t quite sure that would exactly be it. 
  7. An Emily Giffin book. I read her latest, The One & Only. I was a little nervous to spend my gift card money on this book (I get a little stingy with my Barnes and Noble gift cards!) because the reviews were fairly mixed, and maybe more on the negative side. Many said this book was not as good as her others and there was way too much football in it. (Is there such a thing as too much football? Not in my house!) But I took a chance and was so glad I did – I loved it! My timing was perfect, reading it just before football practices got in full swing. It just made me more excited for the season to start up. Yes, there was a lot of football. But there was also a really good story line with a main character I loved. While some parts were a bit predictable, I don’t mind that in a book sometimes as it makes it a lighter read. If you hate football, skip this book; otherwise, I highly recommend it!

What have you been reading this summer? Anything I should add to my list for fall? 

Fall Reading List

I had so much fun creating and working my way through a reading list this summer, I thought I’d make another one for fall! (I fully realize what a nerd that sentence makes me sound like! Oh well – that’s me!) With a new job and fall always being the busiest time for year for us, I am certainly not attempting as ambitious of a list as I did this summer. I’m hoping for two books a month. I always decided I needed to work my way through the many books I have on my shelf and in my Nook before buying any more new ones. I was slightly embarrassed to see how many unread books I have! So there’s not much new on my list, but think of it as some oldies but – hopefully – goodies!

Also, I thought this would be the perfect time to give you a little teaser for a new feature I will have on the blog. Each month I will be writing a book review, usually toward the end of the month. It may be something I recently read, or I may choose an older but favorite book. Sharing my love of reading is one of my favorite things to do, and since an actual book club just doesn’t figure into my schedule right now, I figure a review and some discussion in the comments is as close as I can get! So look for my fist book review post later in September, and later this week you can read my final update on my summer reading list!

My Fall Reading List:

Fall Reading List

  1. 10% HappierI was intrigued when I read this book was written by a news anchor who had a panic attack live on the air. Being someone who is familiar with anxiety, I wanted to know how he handled it. I know a lot of this book is about meditation, which Thrive by Arianna Huffington talks about, as well.  
  2. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
  3. The Second Summer of the SisterhoodI got the first two books in this series quite awhile ago and kind fo forgot I had them until I saw them on my shelf. Being quite into the young adult genre these days, I’m excited for these. They look like nice fun, light reads, which will be good during a stressful transition period in life!
  4. Hands Free MamaI’ve heard a lot of hype about this book, and it was a bargain book on Barnes and Noble one day. I’ll let you know if it lives up to the hype or falls short!
  5. The Ice QueenA good friend of mine recommended Alice Hoffman, and this was another great Barnes and Noble sales find. You can’t beat trying a new author for under $3!
  6. A Painted House. I’m a huge fan of John Grisham and he’s one of the authors I’d like to make my way through everything he’s written. This one was on my shelf after finding it at a used book sale one time, so i figured I might as well check it off the list! 

What are YOU reading this fall?

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Menu Ideas to Feed a Crowd

Menu Ideas to Feed a CrowdWith The Coach’s new head coaching position in town, we now have the privilege of hosting after-game parties for the coaches. I know The Coach has always been a little disappointed that we could never host before, since we lived at least 40 minutes from where he coached. So for the next nine weeks (hopefully more, if we’re in the play-offs!), we’ll have a crowd over after the games. Usually the guys are pretty hungry after a game, since they don’t eat much before and work hard on Friday nights! I’ve been thinking about what’s easy enough to throw together before we head to the game, but filling and perfect for a crowd. Here’s seven ideas to feed a crowd to start with:

  1. Hot Dog Bar. This is my plan for this week. You can easily heat hot dogs up in the crockpot, which I’ll do while we’re at the game. Then I’ll put out the traditional condiments like ketchup, mustard, and relish, but I’ll also add some diced onion, chili, and cheese sauce. Perfect for after the first game when it will likely still be warm summer weather, even though it’s football season!
  2. ChiliThis will be a later in the season offering, when we’re all in need of a warm up after the game! The chili can be prepped the day before and simply warmed up in the crockpot. Put out some diced onion, shredded cheese and sour cream, along with a few hot sauce choices for those who like it spicy, and you’ve got something for everyone!
  3. Sloppy JoesAnother one that can be cooked the day before and warmed up in the crockpot. 
  4. Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches. I’ll throw a pork loin with some BBQ sauce in my crockpot as soon as I get home from work, then I’ll just have to shred the pork before folks arrive after the game. 
  5. Sub Sandwiches. This is another good option for the warmer games early in the season. Simply grab some sub rolls, a selection of meats and cheeses, and some lettuce, tomato and onion and you’re all set! Everyone can add what they like to make this appealing to just about everyone!
  6. Taco Bar. Yet another make the day before and heat up in the crockpot option. And another option that everyone can customize how they like it with topping choices like the traditional lettuce, cheese, and tomato, as well as jalapenos, onions, hot sauce, salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. 
  7. Pizza. Yep – I’m sure at least one game I’ll simply phone it in and pick up pizza! It’s quick, easy, and who doesn’t love pizza?!

 

On to my menu! Wow – this week! The Coach and I head back to work, including evening games and a school open house in the evening. The boys have flag football practice. We’ll just be trying to stay afloat to the weekend! It will take us a little bit to get used to this new schedule, so meals for the next month or so will probably not be exactly stellar. But, we do what we gotta do! :) I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! I also often link up at Feeding Big. Or check out and follow my Yummy dinners board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my first post on meal planning, or my recent Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning. Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Breakfasts (we don’t plan for each day – see here for why – but these are our choices along with a fruit)

• Cereal
• Granola bars and yogurt
• Pancakes
• Cream of Wheat or oatmeal
• Toast or English Muffins
• Breakfast sliders
• Banana smoothies
• Breakfast bites 

Lunches (since we’re all home for lunch much of this summer, we’re not really planning a menu and eating leftovers or whatever we’re in the mood for!)

Dinners

• Monday  – Baked Spaghetti, salad, garlic bread
• Tuesday – Chicken sandwiches, fries, broccoli
• Wednesday – Boys at a friend’s, Coach at his JV game, Me at school open house! Who knows when or what everyone will eat! ;)
• Thursday – Game night! Coach’s first game tonight!!
• Friday – Pizza
• Saturday – Steak, roasted potatoes, green beans
• Sunday – Burgers, pasta salad, berries

What are you eating this week? Leave a comment and feel free to link back to your blog if you have your plan posted!

Like the recipe or feature this week? Please consider sending it to a friend, sharing it on Facebook or Twitter, or pinning it to Pinterest. Thanks so much!

Summer To-Do List Update

At the beginning of summer, we sat down as a family and made a list of the fun summer things we wanted to do this year. We kept it pretty simple and fairly inexpensive, actually without even having to mention to the kids to reign it in at all. Which just reminded me that it isn’t always the big and expensive that they remember the most, but rather the quality time and togetherness. 

Here’s an update to our Summer To-Do list:

Summer to do List 2014 UPDATE

We’ve managed to do most of our summer fun list! The few items we have left include going to a drive in movie, which we have been waiting for a kid-appropriate movie to be playing at a time we can go. This has proved to be a challenge because they are only open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights and have the same movie choices all three nights. And there have not many many kid friendly movies playing there (I think only one!). We also have grow an herb garden, but I’m going to be really honest and say it is highly unlikely this one will get crossed off this year. We made two attempts at growing some herbs from seeds, neither of which was successful. Then I kind of gave up. I am a little embarrassed to see we still have blow bubbles on the list! We have bubbles, but I guess just haven’t pulled them out! And finally we have golfing left. This summer’s weather has been less than ideal, with a lot of cool days and a fair amount of rainy ones. Which makes it tough to find a good time to go golfing, either with the kiddos or just The Coach and I. In fact, I haven’t even golfed once this summer, and The Coach has only golfed twice in outings!

With a couple weeks left, I’m sure we can sneak in some bubbles and golf, and maybe even the drive in movie. We did do a few things that were not included on our list, like going to our local festivals, Roo and I ran a 5K, and we’ve hung out in our back yard with our newly screened in porch and larger blow-up pool we bought this year. And we’ve gone camping three times instead of just one this year. 

What have you done this summer? Do you have a list you’ve been checking off?

Bloggers’ Back to School Basics

Am I the only mom really ready for school to start up again? I’ve had a lot of time with my kiddos this summer, and as the fun got rolling, the structure and routine got abandoned, and the last week or so has just been a hot mess around our house! Patience has worn a bit thin (the boys’ and mine!) and tempers have flared, usually in direct correlation to bedtime the night before! So at my house, we’re all looking forward to that first glorious day that we all return to school!

I have come across many different theories on the best way to prepare for back to school time. Some folks are firm believers in starting to prepare kids weeks ahead of time with a gradual shift in bedtime and wake up calls. Others slide into the school year on the tails of a mad, crazy, free-for-all last ditch effort to soak up summer. Whatever approach you take, there are certain changes that come with the beginning of school – routines, timing, meal prep, schedules, and more. 

Bloggers Back to School Basics

This month, I asked some of my blogger pals to offer their tips for back to school time. Here’s our collection of…

 

Back to School Basics!

Yours truly at Structure in an Unstructured Life

A couple of years ago, I did a back to school series of posts highlighting some tips in various different areas, including tips for school shoppingdeveloping routines, weathering the emotions a new school year brings, and how to develop a good relationship with your child’s teacher.

This year will be far different for us. This past summer is the first I’ve spent home with my kids every day, so we will all need to adjust to seeing each other less. The Coach will be working in the high school that is right next to their elementary school. In addition, I’m starting a new job teaching at their school! Well, half the time will be at their school, and the other half will be at the other elementary school. So nothing about our routine and the changes we encounter will be familiar to us. Our routine both before and after school will be completely new to all of us. Whew! Talk about a recipe for stress and meltdowns! Here’s what we’re doing to prepare for this school year:

  1. The kids have been going to football activities at the high school with their dad and will be coming in and helping me get my classroom set up so they are familiar with these new areas that will become part of their routine. We haven’t worked all of the logistics out yet, but we know the kids will be spending time in both places at least some. 
  2. I’ve never been very good at slowly adjusting my kids to changes in bedtime and morning wake up, but this year has been especially bad. With football in full swing for The Coach and me scrambling to get everything together for my new position before school starts, our routine has been a complete mess the last week or so. However, with teachers starting back to work a week before the kiddos do, we almost have a built in week to get the kids used to the new schedule without throwing them into the classroom yet. So we’re using next week as a “practice week” for the school year. 
  3. Finally, we’ve been honest that we’re all adjusting to new classrooms/jobs and it might be a little rough for the first few weeks. There’s no way around the fact that all four of us will be experiencing stressful situations those first few weeks, whether it is new jobs, new schools, new classrooms, new friends, new routines, or a combination of those and more. We’ve told the kids there will most likely be times that are tough, but we will figure it out together and everything will be ok. 

 

Jenny at Express Bus Mama 

Year after year I find that money is always a little tight at the beginning of the school year. It’s probably a result of camp costs and fun vacations but it makes back to school shopping a stress instead of a delight. A couple of years ago I discovered a little trick to get around this issue.

We always buy school supplies, a new outfit and a couple pairs of shoes before school starts. However, I save most of our clothing purchases for late September or early October. My son still wears summer clothes for the first few weeks of school so there’s no need to stock up on sweaters and pants that he could grow out of by the time he’s ready to wear them. Another advantage is that by the time we go shopping, all the fall clothes are on sale. While this method may fall flat when he’s older and possibly more fashion conscience, it’s helping me save money now!

 

Rea at REAlity Bites

My son doesn’t go to school yet and classes in the Philippines start in June. I’m always thankful for the summer because I get a little breather from so much traffic caused by students and parents alike who are out and about early when school starts. As a working mom, these are the things I usually do:

1. Wake up an hour earlier than my usual wake-up time so that I can prepare, have some time alone for myself, and get ready for work without running late.

2. Prepare everything I need the night before like the clothes I’ll wear, the things I’ll bring, and make sure everything is complete before I go to bed.

3. Have the right mindset. I always think that transportation is going to be tough since I’ll be sharing the roads with students and parents. Having this mindset ahead of time motivates me to adjust my routine accordingly. 

 

Michelle at A Dish of Daily Life

When the kids head back to school, weeknights immediately become more hectic thanks to all the sports practices and games. What I find helps me the most is planning our meals for the week ahead of time, and doing as much meal prep as possible on Sunday afternoon and evening. We try to cook one or two of our meals for the week, so all we have to do is heat them up, and we often double our recipes so we can put a meal in the freezer as well for those nights that we are really strapped for time. We also rely heavily on easy meals like White Bean Chicken ChiliCreamy Citrus Black Bean Soup, and Lemon Pesto Grilled Shrimp. 

 

Dean at Mrs. AOK A Work in Progress

My kids started school Monday, but before they went to school we did some school planning.  It was hard to plan for school when we still were gripping hard to cling on to every last second of summer, but we did it.
 
Make-ahead 
 
We went to Costco and Whole Foods to purchase ample amounts of veggies, meats, cheese, fruits, and snacks to make freezer meals and lunches.  Then we got to work!
We have a snack bin in our pantry, this is where we store snacks for the kiddos’ lunches and snack time; we are fully loaded for at least two months.  We made sure to buy a variety, therefore we do not have snack-burnout (it’s totally a thing). 
 
I personally think make-ahead freezer meals are a must for my family, especially during the school year with all the various events and sports. We pick a Sunday to all get in the kitchen and cook meals for at least 2 to 3 weeks.  The kids enjoy adding things into the freezer bags, rolling meatballs, and making their own individual lasagnas. 
 
Meatballs are such a great make-ahead for lunches! We pack the meatballs with veggies (bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots), fruit, and occasionally a sauce to correspond with that particular meat ball.  Meatballs DO NOT have to be Italian.  You can make them Asian, Mexican, Thanksgivingish, Hawaiian, well…just about anything you can think of. May I propose making an array of meatballs because I’m sure you don’t want meatball-burnout (it’s another thing).
 
When packing lunches I suggest doing it the night before.  We use bento-style boxes; we can usually put all of their lunch in those and have room for a water bottle and freezer pack in their lunch boxes.
 
Thanks to my blogging buddies for contributing their fabulous ideas! How do YOU get ready for back to school time?

 

 

THIS Coach’s Wife’s Chicken Marinade

THIS Coachs Wifes Chicken MarinadeAs I’ve written many times before, we grill a lot in the summer. And with beef being more expensive than chicken these days and some awesome sales on chicken, we’ve been eating a fair amount of grilled chicken this summer. Since grilling can sometimes dry chicken out a little, I find it best to marinate it first. I used to buy the marinades in a jar found in the condiment aisle, but I’ve discovered it is actually super easy, less expensive, and more tasty to just whip up my own. Anything with oil in it seems to work best at keeping the chicken more moist. About a year ago, I came across a recipe on Pinterest that I figured was perfect for me – it was from a blog called The Coach’s Wife’s Kitchen. Yep, that’s absolutely perfect for me. This recipe for chicken marinade is adapted from her original one. 

 

Chicken Marinade
Serves 4
A simple marinade perfect for using when grilling chicken.
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Print
208 calories
4 g
32 g
16 g
11 g
3 g
72 g
36 g
3 g
0 g
13 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
72g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 208
Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 16g
25%
Saturated Fat 3g
13%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 11g
Cholesterol 32mg
11%
Sodium 36mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 4g
1%
Dietary Fiber 0g
1%
Sugars 3g
Protein 11g
Vitamin A
1%
Vitamin C
1%
Calcium
2%
Iron
5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  2. 1/4 cup olive oil
  3. 1 clove minced garlic
  4. 2 Tablespoons diced onion (or 1/2 teaspoon onion powder)
  5. 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  6. 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  7. 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  8. 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  9. Chicken (this amount of marinade works for 4 chicken breasts, or 6-8 chicken thighs or drumsticks)
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients in a ziplock bag with the chicken. Refrigerate at least three hours, but overnight is even better!
beta
calories
208
fat
16g
protein
11g
carbs
4g
more
Adapted from The Coach's Wife's Kitchen
Structure in an Unstructured Life http://www.structureinanunstructuredlife.com/
 

On to my menu!  This week is the start of the craziness! Flag football practices start, Varsity football scrimmages commence, and we’re trying to get a last few summer fun things squeezed in. You’ll see I still have one meal this week that keeps getting moved on my meal plan – eventually we’ll eat those ribs! :) I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! I also often link up at Feeding Big. Or check out and follow my Yummy dinners board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my first post on meal planning, or my recent Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning. Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Breakfasts (we don’t plan for each day – see here for why – but these are our choices along with a fruit)

• Cereal
• Granola bars and yogurt
• Pancakes
• Cream of Wheat or oatmeal
• Toast or English Muffins
• Breakfast sliders
• Banana smoothies
• Breakfast bites 

Lunches (since we’re all home for lunch much of this summer, we’re not really planning a menu and eating leftovers or whatever we’re in the mood for!)

Dinners

• Monday  – Ribs, corn-on-the-cob, green beans
• Tuesday – Rotisserie Chicken, mashed potatoes, broccoli
• Wednesday – Hot Dogs, chips, berries
• Thursday - Chicken Pot Pie, salad
• Friday – Pizza
• Saturday – Steak, roasted potatoes, asparagus
• Sunday – Baked Spaghetti, garlic bread, salad

What are you eating this week? Leave a comment and feel free to link back to your blog if you have your plan posted!

Like the recipe or feature this week? Please consider sending it to a friend, sharing it on Facebook or Twitter, or pinning it to Pinterest. Thanks so much!

Camping Checklist {Printable!}

We finally bought our own tent this summer. For the past two summer’s we borrowed one from family for our annual camping trip with The Coach’s family. And for two summers we said we should get our own so we could go more often. This summer, we found a great deal on one and have gone camping three times now! Since I was hand-writing the same checklist over and over to pack up for our trips, I figured I would create a printable list to save myself some time next summer! I created a camping checklist and a camping food checklist. They are nothing fancy, just Excel spreadsheets that I added some color to. I didn’t want to make them too fancy because I will be editing/adding to them each trip and printing them, so the simpler the better for those reasons.

Below is my basic camping supplies checklist. I divided it up into categories to make it easier to put together, and also because that helps me determine what needs to go together in bags or bins. 

Camping Checklist

For my food list, there are some things we take every time, and then other things I add based on what we’re planning to eat. So my list contains the basics we always take, and room to add the meal specific items each trip.

Camping Food Checklist

What to print these lists out just the way they are? You can print a pdf of the basic camping checklist here. You can print a pdf of the camping food checklist here

Want to be able to edit the list? You can download the Excel version with both right here

What things would you add? Tell me in the comments so I can update my list! :)

 

Things I’m Loving – Summer Outfits

This summer I have loved being home with my boys for a number of reasons. I have to admit, one of the reasons I love not going to work is that I get to wear comfy clothes every. single. day. I am truly not a fan of work clothes, even when they are in the business casual category. So for this edition of my Things I’m Loving series, I’m focusing on the comfy attire my days the last couple months have been lived in. Here are the summer outfits I’m loving…

Things Im Loving Summer Outfits

 

Cool Days We have had more cool days this summer than I would have liked. With only a few days hitting into the 90s and probably less than a dozen in the 80s, I have had a lot of cooler weather outfit days. I looked for a really long time for a pair of denim capris that I liked. Since I could never find any, I took an old pair of GAP Curvy jeans I had on my shelf and cut them. Then I add a little roll at the hem and I’m good to go. I love them. I usually pair them with a looser t-shirt, often a football one (go figure). And when I leave the house I add my favorite flip flops. 

Hot Days The few glorious hot days we’ve had, and the ones that are just in the warmer range, I usually opt for shorts and a racerback tank. My favorite shorts are a pair I’ve had forever from Old Navy – camo pattern with a drawstring waist. If I am feeling like a pop of color I pair them with a bright pink tank; if I’d rather be, well, camouflaged, then I pair them with a gray tank. Once again, I grab my trusty flip flops when I head out. 

Beach Days We live in a beach town, so I’ve been a bit bummed that we haven’t had more beach weather. But the days when we do pack up a bag and head for the lake and the sand, I throw on a simple suit with a loose tank and comfy shorts. Because when I’ve got sand in all the wrong places, the last thing I want is tight buttons or straps rubbing my sun-dried skin.

What are you wearing this summer? 

Foil Packet Fish Dinner

Foil Packet Fish DinnerI am lucky to have kids who eat fish, even when it is not in stick form! My kids especially like tilapia, and I’ve discovered a few easy and delicious ways to prepare it. In the winter, I often opt for either Parmesan Crusted Tilapia, Honey Lime Tilapia, or pan seared Tilapia with Pesto and Tomatoes. But it’s summer time, and who wants to be in a hot kitchen with the pan or the oven, right? Since we love to grill, I figured I’d try our favorite fish prepared on the grill.

I know they make a handy tool for the grill especially for fish so the flaky meat doesn’t fall through the grates of the grill. But since I didn’t have one of those, I opted to use foil  packets on the grill, instead. This is a super easy way to make fish on the grill, and the bonus is you can throw a veggie in there, too. Even easier!

Foil Packet Fish

4 sheets of aluminum foil (I usually unroll about 12-14 inches)

4 Tilapia fillets

Fresh lemon juice

Old Bay Seasoning

Place your Tilapia fillet in the center of the foil. Squeeze some juice from the lemon over the fillet, then sprinkle Old Bay Seasoning on. I’m fairly generous with the Old Bay Seasoning, but I really like it! You can also place a veggie in the packet if desired, such as green beans, broccoli, or zucchini. Fold the ends of the packet in, then the sides up. Fold the sides down so it makes a tightly closed packet. Repeat with your other three fillets. Grill the packet, turning every five minutes of so, for about 15 minutes. Fish doesn’t take long. Just open a packet and make sure the fish is white and flakey, and you know it’s done! 

On to my menu! Last week, our menu plan was pretty much abandoned as plans changed and things got crazy busy! The kids ended up spending a couple days with The Coach’s folks, we had a big lunch with my folks one day, and didn’t want a big dinner, too. And working the football fundraising booth at our local Blueberry Festival was like a full time job. While this week is still fairly busy, I’m hoping to be able to stick to our meal plan a little better! You’ll see a few meals from last week just got moved to this week, which made meal planning this week a little bit easier! I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! I also often link up at Feeding Big. Or check out and follow my Yummy dinners board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my first post on meal planning, or my recent Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning. Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Breakfasts (we don’t plan for each day – see here for why – but these are our choices along with a fruit)

• Cereal
• Granola bars and yogurt
• Pancakes
• Cream of Wheat or oatmeal
• Toast or English Muffins
• Breakfast sliders
• Banana smoothies
• Breakfast bites 

Lunches (since we’re all home for lunch much of this summer, we’re not really planning a menu and eating leftovers or whatever we’re in the mood for!)

Dinners

• Monday  – Chicken Sandwiches, fries, broccoli
• Tuesday – Breakfast for dinner
• Wednesday – Picnic Supper at church event
• Thursday – Ribs, corn-on-the-cob, green beans
• Friday – Hot dogs, chips, fruit
• Saturday – Grilled Chicken, pasta salad, zucchini
• Sunday – Steak, mushrooms, roasted potatoes, asparagus

What are you eating this week? Leave a comment and feel free to link back to your blog if you have your plan posted!

Like the recipe or feature this week? Please consider sending it to a friend, sharing it on Facebook or Twitter, or pinning it to Pinterest. Thanks so much!

Bravery, Creativity, and More!

It’s #AskAwayFriday time, readers! What is Ask Away Friday? 

#AskAwayFriday was created by Penny from Real Housewife of Caroline County as a way to connect with other bloggers with a great Q & A session of 10 questions and 10 answers! By offering a wonderful opportunity to get to know others while allowing others to get to know you and of course there is also the added bonus of making great friends along the way which is one of the best parts of this online world! Our wonderful #AskAwayFriday hosts are Tamara from Tamara Like Camera, Tiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter, Christy from Uplifting Families, Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings, and Amber from Bold Fit Mom.

This week I am swapping questions with the very talented and artistic Bev from Linkouture. Her handmade jewelry is beautiful and her blog compliments her jewelry business so well! I loved reading through it and getting to know the person behind the artist creating those amazing pieces. She has an adorable daughter who is not yet one and just moved into a house in the Boston area. I have to give her credit for moving with a baby and still being sane! Make sure you click over to her site and read her answers to my questions!

Ask Away Friday Bev

1. My house is a complete and utter disaster right now since I just moved, and I could really use some organizing assistance. When is your number one tip for creating order in a disorganized home? Start small! You are bound to get overwhelmed if you think in terms of the entire house. Start with the room you spend the most time in, and just work on getting that unpacked and organized. Once that room is done, then think about the next room. As you unpack, when you find things that belong in another room, just dump them in that room if you haven’t tackled it yet, but if you’ve already unpacked and organized that space, put the things where they go. It’s easy to start out with the intent to deliver something to another room, then see the mess in that room, and get sidetracked into starting to organize that room. But then you end up with every room half done and nothing feeling put together! Go one room at a time, and keep your focus on the room!

 
2. I think one of the hardest parts about blogging is being open and honest with your readers and knowing where to draw the line about keeping some things private. In your writing, how do you achieve this balance? I agree, this is a challenge for me, as well! I have written before about some pretty personal topics – feeling like a crappy mom, my struggles with depression and with anxiety, and feeling bullied by someone. The rule I try to follow is to ask myself if sharing those feelings will help someone else. If the answer is yes, then I feel it should be out there. Sometimes we all need to know that someone else struggles in the same ways we do, so by sharing my own feelings and struggles, I hope others can feel like they are not alone. And sometimes I do find the answer is no, and I realize it is more venting than encouraging. Those things I leave out of this space. 
 
3. What is something people might not know about you? I have family living on almost every continent. My mom was from Ireland, so I have family there. I have some relatives of my mom’s living in Australia. I have an uncle in Canada. My mom had a cousin, I believe, living in South Africa. If only I knew all of them better, I could have one heck of an around the world trip! :) 
 
4. I am always interested to learn how other moms of young children find time to infuse creativity into their lives, whether it being pursuing a project they are really passionate about, learning a new skill, or doing projects with their children. What advice would you offer to other moms for finding time for creativity? My creativity has had to change as my life has. That’s probably the first piece of advice – let go of what creativity used to look like, and embrace that it looks different now. I do less scrapbooking and DIY projects now, but I do more writing and creating images for my blog. Next, try to use the challenges in life as opportunities to be creative. Instead of getting upset about the times in my day that were crazy and chaotic, I took it as a challenge to find a creative solution for those times in the day. I came up with some great ideas for routines and ways to manage the issues during those times. Finally, I realize that the creativity, parenting, and working pie pieces are never going to be in perfect balance all the time. Sometimes I spend a whole evening writing and working on my blog. Other evenings I don’t touch any of it because I’m being a mom. And that’s ok.  
 
Sometimes, creativity starts out looking like this...

Sometimes, creativity starts out looking like this…

 
5. Like you, I have a background in education, though I am really impressed that you have worked with all ages up through high school. What was your favorite grade to work with and why? What grade did you find to be the most challenging? My favorite age group is that middle elementary age – second, third, and fourth grade. They are still so excited to learn new things, they still love their teacher, but they are more independent. You can write directions on the board and they can read and follow them. Also, they are really fun to talk to at this age because they are developing their own interests and are so excited to talk about them. High school was definitely the most challenging. They often think they are “too cool for school” and they have an attitude. They think they are adults, but often act like children. A lot of them are good kids, but they all seem to have those “teenager moments” that drive me crazy! 
 
6. What is the most daring or bravest thing you have ever done? I don’t think of myself as a very big risk taker, but one time I read something about brave being facing anything that scares you – no matter how big or small it might seem to someone else. So the first thing that came to my mind was starting this blog. While it may not seem like a big deal to some, it was really scary for me to put my writing out there and open myself to a world full of strangers. 
 
Sometimes, bravery looks like this...

Sometimes, bravery looks like this…

 
7. I see that you are married to a high school football coach. Are you a football fan yourself? Has being married to a coach had any impact on your attitude toward the sport? I am a huge football fan! Right now I’m reading the book The One & Only by Emily Giffin. Before I bought it I was reading the reviews and many people rated it low because it had so much football in it. That is exactly why I’m giving it a solid five star rating so far! Haha! Being married to a coach has certainly helped me to learn the game better – you can’t watch football film almost every night for three to four months of the year and not learn more about the game! And while I sometimes get frustrated with how much time the sport takes up in our family, I definitely think I still love the game more rather than less being married to a coach. 
 
8. What is your favorite meal to cook? I had to think about what I love to cook, versus what I love to eat! Some of my favorite meals to eat aren’t necessarily my favorite to cook, because I don’t love chopping and dicing. So I’d have to say fettuccine alfredo. It’s simple to prepare, delicious to eat, and my whole family loves when I make it! 
 
For some reason, my son always calls this "Confettio" - no idea where that came from!

For some reason, my son always calls this “Confettio” – no idea where that came from!

 
9. I know that you just came back from a camping trip with your family. Is this a trip you have taken previously or was it your first time? What tips do you have for taking young children camping? This year was the third annual camping trip we have taken with my husband’s extended family. We all do a long weekend and get camp sites together in a group. This year we bought a tent so we went on two more shorter trips, as well. What we love about camping with our kids is that it is an opportunity to say “yes” more. So often at home we have to say “no” because of safety or schedules or time constraints. But when we’re camping, we can allow them more freedom to ride their bikes on their own, go over to another camp site, or do whatever activity they want to do, because we have no set schedule. So my number one tip is to take advantage of that freedom you can allow kids. It’s exactly why we come back from a camping trip feeling relaxed and more bonded as a family. 
 
10. My previous job was working in a family support program, and one of the biggest things that I learned from working there was the importance of having a support network, regardless of a family’s background or current situation.  I love that you created your blog as a way to provide support for other moms. What and/or who has helped you to feel supported as a mom? I think first is my husband. He is great about telling me what a good mom I am, and also about recognizing when I need some time to not be a mom. I also have a great “village” in my group of friends. Everyone is always willing to help when you need someone to help with transportation or childcare or just time to get out and do something. And finally, I really feel I have found a great support system in my network of fellow bloggers. So many of us are also moms, and we are all sharing and writing about this journey. It’s easy to see how some of the challenges I face are ones they do as well. It definitely makes me feel less alone, and so many of them have great ideas I can learn from and use to grow as a mom.