Monthly Archives: August 2009

Menu Plan Monday

PhotobucketThis is it! The last week of summer. Here in Michigan it feels very October-y and there’s no getting around it – it’s strange.  I’m sad that the loosey-goosey schedule we’ve enjoyed for the past three months is coming to an end, but I’m so excited for my kids to start school.  They both have fantastic teachers this year, and we just found out Maybelle’s “boyfriend” will be in her class with her.  They’re both thrilled; but cannot physically be near each other without making some sort of contact. I’m hoping they behave themselves in class.  It’s a Christian school, after all.

Here’s what’s on the menu for this week.  I have been very fortunate lately with people giving me produce from their bountiful gardens, so I will be making good use of it. Our garden; not so bountiful.  And considering there is a frost warning tonight, I am not sure how this harvest season is going to turn out.

For more Menu Plan Monday, check out I’m An Organizing Junkie.


Maybelle’s birthday was Sunday, but we’re having her favorite dinner today instead.  She has requested “pasketti”. Pasketti it is. 


This is A.P.’s birthday, so we’re having baked fish and broccoli slaw for dinner.  Seriously.  At least he’s normal enough to want cake; but he wants a “pineapple upside down cake, with strawberries instead of cherries”.


Grilled chicken and grilled zucchini.  On the side, I’ll make tabouli. I have some heirloom tomatoes I don’t really know how to use, so I figure this will be a good way to really get the taste of them. And since it feels like fall, we’re also having Apple Crisp


Homemade pizza with bacon, banana peppers, and cherry tomatoes.   For a side dish, I’m going to try and make Broccoli Salad, but since this is my first attempt I’m just using a random recipe and will give it a shot (except not with the sugar subsitute – yuck).  Anyone have a recipe for Broccoli Salad they like?

On a side note; my husband and I are having our, ahem, “Budget Meeting” later in the evening so I will probably be enjoying one or three glasses of wine with dinner in preparation for the loving, uplifting discussion I’m certain will occur.


Red beans and rice with saugsage. I am thinking I will have some side dishes left over by this point in the week so I’ll just set those back out.



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Museum Pass

This is sweet – did anyone take advantage of this last year? The free museum day pass  is back, and the date is September 26.  There are participating museums all over the country, but for those of us in West Michigan the two biggies are the Air Zoo and the Kalamzoo Nature Center.  I vote for KNC because the Air Zoo has been free all summer and is until August 30. Click here for the website, and follow the instructions from there – you do have to print a pass to get in. Have fun!

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Things I Love Thursday

tiltWe’ve kind of been around the block with memberships.  We did the Children’s Museum one year, the Zoo one year, and now are up for renewal on our most recent membership, Meijer Gardens.  We have gotten so much use out of it, I don’t even have to think twice about renewing.  It’s a big place with many different events all throughout the year, so it’s worth it for us to have a family membership.

Last fall, the kids and I did a Kids Tram tour and absolutely loved it – you can read about that adventure here.  During one of our Tuesday Night concerts at the Gardens, we noticed that there was a Kids Tram running this summer too, so we went back yesterday to check it out.  There were three tram tours running that day, so I felt confident we would be able to take a ride.  When I went to get tickets, I was really disappointed to find out that all of the Kids Tram tours had been booked for the day.  A combination of a not easily deterred mom and very cooperative Gardens employees allowed us to squish onto one of the trams with the group that had booked them for the day; and in a front row seat at that.

We had a blast.   During the tour they played “I Spy”, and the kids had to find sculptures the tour guide described – they loved it.  There is a backpack on each seat, and she tells the kids what to take out of the bags, and when.  There were several stops during the 45 minute-ish tour, so the kids didn’t get too wiggly. At the end, the tram drove to the amphitheater and the kids got to get up on stage and do a ‘performance’ for the grown ups of the sculptures.  We talked about sculptures ALL DAY so I know that the learning really sunk in. 

Meijer Gardens is world class, and I take that for granted sometimes because it’s so close.  I love having a membership there and not getting bored with it.  I have searched high and low for some coupon, discount, or special on membership but haven’t found one.  There are two ways to visit the Gardens for free though.  First, if you hold a Grand Rapids Public Library (isn’t it remarkable that I find a way to work the library into every single post I write?) card you can ‘check out’ a pass for Meijer Gardens.  Get the deets on that here.  Or, GRKids is having a contest right now to win a pass for 4 to Meijer Gardens during Colorfall so go enter that here.

For more Things I Love Thursday, have a visit with The Diaper Diaries.


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Hobby Hump Day

It’s not too often that I can participate in Hobby Hump Day as the part of my brain that does crafts shriveled up and died immediately after I received my Brownie Craft Badge.  As usual, this post is something of a stretch, but since there isn’t actually a Hobby Hump Day carnival today I don’t feel too bad. 

There are some opportunities for kids to be involved with art coming up this fall.  I’m excited because it involves some of my favorite things:  the Grand Rapids Public Library, Spectrum Health, and the Red Cross.  The first event comes from the Maranda website.  If you live around town you probably already know that  the new Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital opening in 2011. If you are planning on attending Celebration on the Grand on September 12 (and you totally should), check out the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital booth located in Ah-Nab-Awen-Park between 11am and 3 pm. Kids will have the chance to paint an 8×8 wooden tile that will be used to make up a large piece of art in the new hospital. Plus, there will be free t-shirts for the first 1,000 kids to participate. 

The second one gives your kids a chance to be a part of the American Red Cross of Greater Grand Rapids 2010 calendar.  The theme is “helping hands”. The top nine submissions will be displayed at the Main branch of the Grand Rapids Public Library.  Check out this link for specific rules and deadlines.

Go forth and be crafty!


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Menu Plan Monday

Wellll…. my husband is laid off again this week.  He has already created a list of things to do and hopefully, taking the kids camping again is on it.  He kind of has to create his own “Honey Do” list – if I make one for him, it just sits there, not getting done.  We have a leak in our roof, so the immediacy fixing that has kept him pretty busy, although he inexplicably began another project in the middle of the roof-fixing one.  Our window sills and fireplace have about 8 coats of paint on them – some lead, some not – and he is sanding that all off. 

The week has certainly gotten off to a good start.  Yesterday in church, my kids were so well behaved that a nice old Italian lady in the pew in front of us gave them each a quarter for being so good.  I think they were graded on somewhat of a curve, as other kids were being pretty rambunctions, but I’ll take it.  She also told me I had “a lot of patience”.  This is not a compliment I get often (for good reason), so that was worth more to me than the shiny quarter she gave my kids.

I’m not sure what else we’ll do this week.  I took the kids to the Zoo on Friday for the first time in forever.  I have to say, John Ball Park, you’re still not exactly Binder Park but you’ve come a long way in a couple of years.  My favorite part was after the minnniature goat petting section (is that the PC word? Minniature? Little? What do tiny goats prefer to be called?), Maybelle immediately looked for the Purel dispenser, as her hands were “very goaty”. 

So here’s what’s on the menu for this week:


I hate it when I do this; but I made a meal, froze it, and can’t remember the recipe because I was making it up as I went along.  It was sort of a potato chowder with corn and chorizo.  It involved my food processor, that’s all I recall.  The sad part is that it was only a few weeks ago.  I also remember that I served it with salad and corn on the cob, so I’ll do that again too.


Ham salad sandwiches, home-made bread, fresh vegetables and dip, and some sort of desert that fits in a cooler well.

We’re heading out to Meijer Gardens for the Tuesday Night concerts.  Each week my kids spend less time listening to the music though, and more and more time rolling down the big hill.  Either way, it’s good clean fun. 


We’re cashing in our birthday freebies  and should be thoroughly stuffed after we head over to Red Robin (yummm).


If it’s above 50 degrees, we’ll throw some chicken on the grill and use up one of the many marinade packages I have laying around.  I am trying to clean our the freezer before I start stocking up for my work season, so any bagged frozen vegetables that remain will be combined, smothered in butter, and served.  I also have some garlic bread in the freezer so I’ll make that too.


Our garden is having a hard time this year, and the jalapenos are just now popping up.  Finally! Time to make salsa and serve it up with chips, and easy tacos – ground beef, taco seasoning, tomato sauce, and flour tortillas.  I don’t have a link to my salsa recipe because it really depends on how many tomatos and peppers are ripe that day but I use tomatoes, peppers, diced onion, fresh cilantro, the juice from fresh limes, and sea salt.

For more Menu Plan Monday, check out I’m An Organizing Junkie.


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What I’ve Been Winning Lately

It’s true.  I’ve been really lucky in the past couple of months.  My smallest prize was a rather strange children’s book about the environment, and my biggest was a $500 mountain bike.  The book was from some blog, and the bike was from a local bike association.  In between, I’ve won gift certificates to a few restaurants, a Target gift card, and a month of classes at Gymco. Being the generous person that I am, I will share my ‘sources’. 

  • First, the blog contests are from Prizey.  I just check it out once in a while and enter if a contest looks interesting to me.  You could spend all day there – but don’t.
  • I also won a restaurant gift certificate from Revue, which is a great resource for GR ‘haps not geared toward the younger members of our fair city. 
  • And although it’s been a while since I’ve checked the contests there, I have previously won a few goodies from GR Now
  • Most recently I have won from Moms Like Me, which is a local forum but they also have sites in other cities my friends up and move to such as Dallas and St. Louis – but sadly, nothing for my friend in Quincy.
  • I signed up for Swagbucks and promptly forgot about it.  Something triggered my memory and I went back to check it out – and so far have won 49 Swagbucks which is about enough for a small gift card.  It’s just a search engine, and you use it instead of Google or whatever.  Easy to win but hard to remember.
  • I would not recommend this route to winning, although it is my biggest prize.  As you know, my husband is very involved in biking.  We have 9 bikes in our garage.  Five are his.  Some guys golf; my guy bikes.  I signed him up and paid for a membership in a local biking organization (again with my extreme generosity), and was entered into a contest to win guess what – a bike.  I WON! Therefore, the bike is mine and not his.  Would anyone like to buy a bike?
  • In addition to feeling nice and involved, my attendance in the Great Start Parent Coalition has netted me not only free dinner and babysitting while I am at the meeting, they have on-time drawings most months.  I won a Target gift card! Next month is an orientation meeting and is a perfect time to jump in.  The meeting will be September 20 from 6:00 – 8:30. I am trying to bring the most new members.  If you are from Kent County (anywhere in the county – not just Grand Rapids) and are interested in advocating for young children, I’d love for you to attend.  You’ll hear more about this as the time comes closer.


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Pooh’s Corner

I have an addition to the “Grand Rapids Roundup” post  I did last week.  Pooh’s Cornerwas one of the summer reading clubs we signed up for and had a mediocre participation level in.  The program culminates this Saturday August 22 at 10:30AM with a “Super Saturday Storytime” event.  This is a souped up Story Time and some of the other stores in Breton Village are getting involved with things like face painting and popcorn. Pooh’s Corner will have drawings for prizes and t-shirts, and you can turn in your final reading list if you have them. 

To participate, please bring a donation for Kids Food Basket.  They need 100% juice boxes the most, but can also make great use of plastic spoons, pudding cups, fruit cups, single serving size raisin boxes, self-lock sandwich bags, self-lock snack size baggies, cracker packs, and jars of peanut butter.

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