Uncategorized

Root: Five Minute Friday

Happy Friday! I’ve been less present than usual as I’ve worked to settle in to a new school year. Now that August is in the rearview, I hope to return to my usual writing routines. This week I’m excited to be back with my Five Minute Friday community. Our prompt is Root.

vase with a plant inside that has a long root.

I’ve struggled the past few weeks to stay disciplined. My favorite hobbies and activities have taken a backseat to the school year as it unfolded. Much of the free time that I’m used to having for ME was spent preparing (or surviving) the beginning of a new school year. Now that the calendar says “September”, I can begin to put down roots and return to the activities that bring me joy.

-Writing/Editing

-Reading

-Bullet Journaling

-Meal Prepping

-Working out

-Art

-Organizing

August is usually spent carving up and assembling a foundation for the next nine months of the school year. Extra energy goes into planning and implementing strategies for student learning to take root. I come home exhausted each day and my vocal chords are always aching.

As for this year’s students, I am very pleased. They come to class eager to learn and ask great questions during lessons. Their roots have been planted and now is the time to return to my roots. To writing. To editing. To reading. To bullet journaling. To meal prepping. To working out. To art. To organizing.

How can you return to your roots in this new month?

The Ameri Brit Mom

Organization · Uncategorized

My Sunday Routine

A pot of coffee is brewing. My daughter is tuckered out on the couch. My husband is off at the gym with some friends. These are the moments I long for all week. Sunday afternoons have become my most productive and rewarding time slots thanks to the new rhythm my family has established this fall. I begin my time with a mug of coffee. It’s my reward for making it through another week. Once the caffeine has tapped into my bloodstream, I’m ready to conquer the week ahead. I’ve learned that the successes of the week ahead are determined by my productivity on Sunday afternoon. This is a peaceful ME TIME that leaves me feeling like Mama Warrior every weekend.

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1. Meal Plan

Across my table I spread out my planner, every cookbook I own, and a box of family recipes. I spend a twenty minutes or so scouring each of these resources in addition to my recently posted pins from Pinterest in order to create a weekly meal plan. Also, I build my grocery list as I go. I always begin with meal planning, because in our house my husband does the grocery shopping. I can send him off to the store while I continue to work on my Sunday routines.

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2. Laundry

Next, I clear out all of the hampers throughout the house and clean all of our clothes for the week. In a perfect world I’d be caught up every Sunday, but the reality is that some Sundays I have more time than others to complete the laundry. At the very least I try to be caught up with laundry every other weekend. This helps make the house seem clean and gives each of us several options when it comes to step 5.

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3. Blog Plan

My routine for blogging has adjusted a bit this year to account for several personal projects that take up substantial amounts of time. For the most part, my blog posts are written over the weekend, and scheduled to be published throughout the week. I spend most of my Saturday mornings crafting posts and writing, but on Sundays I put the final touches on posts and get them scheduled for the week ahead. I also track my weekly stats from my site in my blog planner which is something I sit down and work on every Sunday afternoon.

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4. Sunday Basket

I started this project back in April, and it has really helped to control the mass of papers that can tend to collect all over the house. Throughout the week we receive paper after paper from mail to schedules to artwork from my daughter in her pre-school class. If we get something we know we will throw away (like junk mail) we throw it away immediately, otherwise we place it in the basket to be acted upon on Sundays. On Sunday, I sort through the basket. I make three piles: file, throw away, or action required. Then, I go through and complete whatever action is needed for each piece. This really helps to control the paper madness that can so easily get out of control. This idea comes from Organize 365.

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5. Lay out clothes for the week

Another huge time saver for the week is to determine my attire for the whole week on Sunday afternoons. Generally, on Sundays I have a much more inspired attitude toward my clothes than on a late night or early morning. Clothes have been freshly cleaned and with a little extra energy from the coffee (or extra rest during the weekend) I comb through my closet and jewelry box and create my wardrobe for the week.

I know that each household looks different and we all have routines that work for us and our families. I’d love to hear how you tackle the weekly organization and scheduling for your house.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

Menu · Uncategorized

Menu Monday: Dinner Quiche

It’s been a while since I last posted a dinner recipe here on the blog. Lately, we’ve gotten in the habit of hibernating at home to avoid the nasty weather. I’ve used this bonus time as an opportunity to explore some new recipes. Thanks to motivation from Jen Hatmaker in For the Love, I’ve had several glasses of wine and new home-cooked meals over the past couple of months. Here is a great recipe that I found in an old cookbook and tweaked so that my entire family would enjoy this dish. I hope you find a way to work it into your family’s meal rotations.

Bon Apetit!

Dinner Quiche

Ingredients:

1 cup diced fully cooked ham

3/4 cup of shredded Swiss Cheese (or four slices ripped into bite-sized pieces)

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)

1 chopped green pepper

1 cup milk

1/4 cup bisquick mix

2 eggs

1/8 tsp pepper

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  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a greased, 10 in. pie plate layer ham, both cheeses, and green pepper.
  3. Place the remaining ingredients in a blender or stand mixer in the order given above. Blend for 35-40 seconds.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture over the ham, cheese, and peppers. Do not stir.
  5. Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until set and lightly brown.
  6. Let stand five minutes before cutting and consuming.

*It’s as simple as that!

  
  
The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

 

Organization

My Life Planner

I haven’t done an organization post in quite some time. The reason behind my lack of posting in this category is honestly my own lack of organization. During the springtime I did a lot of flying by the seat of my pants and every time I fall into that rut I tend to lose sight of many of my personal goals. So…with the ushering in of summer vacation I am ready to get back on track with those organization goals I set for myself back during the bleak winter time.

Where do I start?

I have jumped back into meal planning and regular grocery shopping as evidenced by my restocked pantry shelves and the mounds of dishes in need of a good rinsing . For about two weeks I’ve gotten back into the habit of planning my meals in advance which increases my chances of a home cooked meal by about 80%. When I just “wing” it and am disorganized about it I am far more likely to go to a restaurant/drive thru which starts a vicious cycle of unhealthy decisions.

I also ordered an planner on Etsy which is like the King of all organizers. I went through the Plum Paper Designs Etsy shop and custom-built a planner for every need of my family and personal organization.

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This particular planner can get pricy depending on how you want to use it. For me, I purchased an add-on to help keep my blog and household organized. I ended up paying close to $40.00, but they have basic planners that start cheaper at around $16.00.

From the moment I received my customized planner I knew I had fallen in love. The size was perfect for fitting into nearly everyone of my totes/purses. The paper was thick and durable. The colors were bright and exciting. I was enticed with the scheme and design I created and I couldn’t wait to begin planning my life, fitness, reading, and blogging in this little Book of Lauren.

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Here is a look at the monthly view of the planner. This is where I record upcoming events, birthdays, bills, and deadlines.

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I could also customize the start and end date for the planner. Mine begins in June and ends next May. I love the colorful tabs as well. (If you haven’t guessed colors are good motivation for me!)

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Lastly, here is a look at the weekly layout I chose for my planner. Plum Paper Designs has several weekly layout views to choose from. I found this particular template fit my needs best. As a writer it is imperative to have plenty of space to record ideas and plans. On the left hand side I have space for notes and on the right side there is space beside each date to plan the blog post for that day and jot down some basic ideas like photos to use or resources to reference. I have been most successful in my blogging when I plan posts a week or so in advance and spend several days cultivating each post. I don’t like being disorganized because that oftentimes leads to feeling rushed and producing a less than satisfactory product. This has helped me get ideas on paper and plan accordingly when documenting photographs and ideas.

I’ve enjoyed the entire process from selecting the theme, layouts, add-ons and using the pages I created to help keep myself on top of everything. My sister even checked out my planner and asked for one as part of her graduation gift as well so we are eagerly awaiting its arrival any day now. She preferred the Student Planner for herself and the cost was much lower than mine because she did not go with all the bells and whistles that I did. That’s what is so cool about customized planners, you get exactly what you need for your lifestyle.

I would highly recommend the purchase of a planner from Plum Paper Designs, and I don’t even get anything from that recommendation! I just love it that much 🙂

Menu · Organization

No More Fast Food!

One of our hardest obstacles since we began our journey of marriage is to remain disciplined in our spending habits. It’s sad to actually admit to this, but one of our weaknesses is to give in to the cheap, quick fast food meal when we are on the go. My husband is a high school basketball coach and so especially in the winter we spend several nights a week in a crunch to scavenge for food in the time between school and games. Needless to say that it is during basketball season that I become besties with my 4 quart- Crock Pot. However, it is still a struggle for us to maintain a healthy habit of eating at home every night. Not to mention that in my short five mile commute to work I pass four fast food restaurants. I am not claiming to have conquered this weakness, but I have learned a few tricks to skip the fatty, oily, drive-thrus so I thought I may share some of those tips. Feel free to comment and share some of your own tips for being a working mother on a budget and pressed for time when it comes to cooking healthy meals for your family.

1. Plan ahead: Looking back at the early stages of our marriage it is obvious that it was so much easier to choose a drive-thru option when I wasn’t well organized and had not planned meals ahead of time. Back then, if I was going to cook that also meant I was going to have to go to the grocery store. When pressed for time that was usually not an option and so a meal on the go was the only justifiable choice. I have luckily since caught on to some pretty easy meal planning habits. I keep a journal of the meals I plan to make and I tend to plan in two week increments so that one trip to the grocery store can replenish the necessities for at least the next two weeks and I can save the time it used to take me daily to run to the store for one or two small items.

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2. Create themed cooking nights: One fun and easy way to make meal planning go quicker is to create themes in your meal planning. An example might be our family’s “Meatless Mondays”. I have a set of recipes that I keep in my recipe box that are good Monday recipes as they lack meat. I’ve also heard about and experienced other theme nights like: Pasta night, Soup nights, Taco night, and Chinese night. Using themes on a weekly or rotating basis can make meal planning and organizing easier and makes you less likely to throw up your arms in surrender to the golden arches.

3. Crock-pot: It has been my routine over the past two years to become quite acquainted with my Crock-pot. I try to make 1-2 meals a week in the Crock-pot. When planning I always look at our family schedule to see which days will be busiest and choose to make those nights Crock-pot meal nights. Many Crock-pot recipes can be made in advance and frozen so that when the day of chaos arrives all you have to do is thaw the pre-frozen meal and put it in the pot. I am blessed to have a baby-sitter who comes to my house so we have an understanding that a couple of times a week she may need to plug in my Crock-pot and occasionally stir the contents. This works out well. It is virtually a stress-free dinner on my end. I do the prep ahead of time and I strategically plan the meal to be done at exactly the time I know we will be available to eat that night. There is no waiting for water to boil or the oven to pre-heat. Plus, so many of the Crock-pot recipes out there are healthy and delicious. It’s like a 2 for 1. I get the satisfaction of serving my family a home-cooked meal and it is generally pretty healthy and packed with vegetables and protein.

Many of my favorite Crockpot recipes come from this book. I purchased it 2 years ago on Amazon.

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4. Don’t be afraid of left overs: This option is a little easier if you have a smaller family, but one thing I usually do is I double the serving amount of most dinners so that there will be leftovers galore. My husband and I both pack our lunches at school (we are too afraid of the cafeteria food) and so I like to be sure that just about every night I will be making enough to supply our lunches for the next day. Additionally, I tend to pick one meal a week (usually a soup or a pasta because it isn’t as expensive) and I double that recipe. This way we not only have enough for lunches the next day, but that there may be extra left overs for another dinner. This idea is optimal on days where one of us is working later than the other like parent teacher conference nights…or double header basketball games 😦 It has taken me a long time and I’m still not totally sold on the idea of serving leftovers as a dinner meal, but it beats the alternative of hopping in the car to waste some money on clogged arteries and soda.

5. Know what’s for dinner: Lastly, one way I’ve stayed on top of meal planning is checking every night before I go to bed what the meal will be the following day. I don’t do this because I’m obsessed with eating (although that isn’t too much of a stretch), but that way I can plan ahead in my mind how I will accomplish meal prep and know whether or not something needs to thaw overnight. I’ve all too often been the victim of good intentions and planned my meals in advance, but once the week gets started I don’t stay on top of it. I succumb to my busy schedule and rush home after work to prepare a meal that I can’t recall until I check my journal. This is dangerous because so often I would come home to a menu that required a pre-thawed chicken or prep that I didn’t have time to complete. That’s when I ended up defeated… when I failed to know what’s for dinner. And defeat always landed me in a long drive-thru line. Every night after completing the clean-up of that meal I try to verbalize with my husband what to expect tomorrow. It’s a good reminder.

I’m still in the market for a good app for my iphone to help keep meal planning organized and streamlined. I’ve tried several apps, but nothing that I’m totally impressed with so until the day I find an app to save my sanity these are a few ways that I try to stay on top of healthy meal prep and avoid the toxicity of regular fast food habits. I am resolving to completely cut out fast food from the diet of myself and my family. I’m setting realistic goals, but my ultimate goal is to cut it out completely. But phase 1 is 6 months no fast-food. I’ll keep you updated on how we’re doing. Please feel free to share tips that work for your family!