February 13, 2016

Tips for Menu Planning

Channel 8 news recently emailed me about doing a story on my weekly menu plans. I ignored the first request and thought there is no way I can be on the news....I would be too nervous. Well they were persistent and I stepped out of my comfort zone and decided to do it! Click here for a link to the article.

I have been creating a weekly menu plan for close to 12 years now. I have always been a planner and like feeling organized. I am not the type of person who can buy a bunch of ingredients at the start of the week and then throw dinner together every night.  Here are some of my tips for menu planning...

1. On Saturday or Sunday, I sit down in the morning with my coffee and look at my calendar for the week. If I have a client meeting or an evening activity, I plan my meals based on that event. Maybe I select something that can go in the crock-pot or a soup from the freezer that was leftover from a previous week's menu plan.

2. I have three binders with recipes that I have collected over the years. I try to only store the recipes that we have tried and would make again into these binders so it isn't too overwhelming. One of the binders is divided into categories which I love! To find new recipes, I use Pinterest, magazines, and cookbooks checked out from the library.

3. I have a dinner diary that I started in 2012. This is where I record my menus for the week.

4. As a select a recipe, I record the necessary ingredients in the Our Groceries app on my phone. I love this app because it organizes the items into categories as you add them.

5. For the most part, I only go to the grocery store once a week. I do find it saves money because on those extra trips even when are popping in for just one item I usually spend at least $20.

6. Sometimes I switch up which dinner I am going to serve on a particular night. After going to the grocery store, I try to think about how quickly something needs to be cooked. For instance, maybe the avocados were really ripe on Sunday for Thursday's steak tacos then I will serve that on Monday instead. Check the dates on your meat as well.

7. I check my menu plan every morning just in case something needs to be defrosted or started in the crock-pot. Nothing can delay getting dinner on the table like discovering you have frozen chicken for that night's enchiladas.

8. Because we cook dinner at home at least six nights out of the week, I have a lot of pantry staples and spices so I am not buying a new spice or special ingredient each week and incurring an additional cost.

9. I try to freeze leftovers if I don't think we will eat them that week for lunch. Most soups and casseroles freeze well and are a great break from cooking on a later week. I use Ziploc freezer bags to store most things.

My next challenge is to stop being a short order cook and get my kid's eating these meals as well. I do think it helps that they see us cooking and eating many different things. Camille just discovered she likes tacos and she loves Parmesan risotto which she may not have tried if we hadn't been eating it.

Here goes with this week's menu planner....
Valentine's Day- Black Pepper Crusted Filets w/ Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Salsa,
Potatoes & Mixed Green Salad
Monday - Hamburger Soup, Grilled Cheeses
Wednesday - Simple Homemade Meatball Subs, French Fries
Thursday - Chicken & Gnocchi

February 8, 2016

Weekend Recap & Menu Planner

We visited the Libbie Mill library for the first time over the weekend. I am so excited about that development. The Southern Seasons is great and they are going to start contracting on new condominiums and townhouses early this year. I sold my first house in the West Broad Village development almost 7 years ago and that area has been wildly successful. It was be nice to have a similar development a little closer into the city.

All blue reading room at the Libary.
The library is great and very state of the art! It is definitely worth checking out if you haven't visited.

Saturday night, we got together with friends for dinner. We went to Tarrant's Cafe in the city. I wasn't horribly impressed with it but it may have been what I ordered. Michael said he couldn't wait to come back.

Here goes with this week's menu planner....

Monday...Chopped Mexican Salad

Tuesday....Slow-Cooker Chicken Gumbo

Wednesday...Honey Sriracha Chicken, Roasted Broccoli

Thursday...Cheddar Turkey Burgers with Mashed Avocado, French Fries

Friday...Sausage and Spinach Risotto

February 1, 2016

Weekend Recap & Menu Planner

We enjoyed some warmer temperatures this weekend in Richmond and it was a nice break from the cold and snow!

Friday, I planned to take C, C and my niece and nephew to a movie but some how they talked me into Jumpology instead! I was actually more impressed with the place than expected. They LOVED it!

Saturday, we were back in the area because Clyde attended a birthday party there. Camille, Michael and I had dinner at the nearby Chili's while Clyde was at the party. Chili's has tablets at your table now where you can play games, order another drink and pay your bill! It was interesting and somewhat convenient.

Last night for dinner, Michael made Angela's Awesome Enchiladas. We found this recipe on Allrecipes so many years ago and it is pretty labor intensive but so yummy! We bought a rotisserie chicken this time to save a step or two. Looking forward to my leftovers for lunch!

Here goes with the rest of our menu planner...

Monday....Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs with Yellow, Orange Peppers & Red Onion, Parmesan Risotto 

Tuesday....Gnocchi with Pomodoro Sauce

Wednesday.... Turkey Cutlets, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Broccoli

Thursday...Crockpot Zuppa Toscana

January 29, 2016

Half Bath Before & After

A few weekends ago, on a whim, Michael and I decided to tear down the wallpaper in our half bath and give it a mini update. We were on a budget and I would have loved a new vanity or to have changed out the counter but we were trying to keep costs low. Maybe that is phase two!

To remind you...here are the before pictures.

Looking at these pictures, I can't believe we made it a year and half like this! We did all the work ourselves. I did most of the wallpaper removal and painting and thankfully Michael can install light fixtures, remove toilets and install new faucets.

Here are the afters....

I used my phone for all the pictures because the space is so tiny...it captured the most area but the quality isn't awesome.

Here are some details about the space.

Color...Benjamin Moore North Sea Green
Light Fixture....Shades of Light Basket Ceiling Light
Light Bulb....Half Gold Light Bulb
Towel Rack
Toilet Paper Holder
Faucet....Double Handle Bathroom Faucet

My mom had leftover cabinet knobs from a project at her house so we used those for the vanity which I painted black. (Note...there are a couple places on the vanity that we still need to touch up). The rug is a leftover remnant from our front steps runner. The mirror, artwork, towels, and trashcan are all from HomeGoods. 

I think it is a huge improvement and it didn't break the bank! I have a lot of buyer clients who get turned off by room after room of dated wallpaper. If you are listing your house, it may be worth removing it or hiring someone to do before putting your home on the market. I had sellers last year who made these changes before listing. They quickly got multiple offers on their home. I am not sure it would have been the same situation if they had not done the prep work.

January 25, 2016

RVA Snow Days

I haven't left the house except to go sledding or to shovel the driveway since Friday am. I am not going stir crazy yet but I may be close. Storm Jonas dropped at least 12 inches of snow on us. I have lived in Richmond for most of my life, and this is the most snow I have seen in many, many years.

Photo Cred: Camille or Clyde. I have about 100 of these on my phone so I had to include at least one!

I never posted my menu planner from last week so I am including that below. Our neighborhood roads are not great but I am hoping to get out tomorrow to go to the store! We are getting creative and pulling out soups from the freezer and tonight I think we will be have Chicken Parmesan.

Monday....Thai Peanut Chicken, Thai Coconut Rice 

Tuesday....Olive Garden Minestrone

Wednesday...Spicy Sausage Pasta

Thursday....Kickin Mini Meatloaves, Cheesy Pinto Beans, Baked Apples

Friday...Chicken Fajitas

Oh and we are almost finished with our half bathroom project. We ran into a road block when the new faucet didn't fit and we had to order another one. That should arrive tomorrow and then I will post pictures once Michael has installed.

January 10, 2016

Weekend Recap & Menu Planner

I have had a very productive weekend! Last Friday, on a whim, Michael and I decided to update our downstairs half bath. One quick call to Anne Hunter, my interior designer sister, and I had a plan. Yesterday afternoon, I took down all the wall paper. It wasn't terrible however I couldn't imagine doing a huge space.

Here are a few before pictures...I am sure this wallpaper was a beauty in her day. 

So far, I have primed the walls and put two coats of primer on the vanity. A new faucet, light fixture, towel and TP bar are on order. Anne Hunter sent me a bunch of paint colors and I just selected one without buying a sample or swatch. Fingers crossed that works out okay! I will know shortly.

But for now...here is this week's menu planner...

Sunday....Turkey Burgers with Mashed Avocado, French Fries

Monday.....Chicken & Chorizo Stew, Corn Muffins

Tuesday....Skinny Chicken Enchiladas

Wednesday....Barber Chicken Breast (new flavor), Roasted Potatoes, Brocoli (I have a work appointment this night so I need something quick and easy. Kroger sells frozen red skin potatoes already cut that I get to simply dinner prep.)

Thursday....Great White Pizza (I used this pizza crust mix from Kroger over the break and liked it), Mixed Green Salad

Back to painting....I plan to do a full post on the changes once I get everything complete!  Happy Sunday!

January 4, 2016

Christmas 2015!

It was a chilly and dark start this morning when my alarm rang at 6:30 am! Back to realty....

We had a fabulous, relaxing and fun Christmas break. Here are some of the highlights...

Christmas Dinner at the Delks
Tinsel showing off!

Remembering my dad

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve before my mom's party!
Santa came through with a Kindle...we've hardly spoken to Clyde since he received it. ;)

Santa left clues for C & C's big gift

One involved running to the mailbox. Notice how dark it was...5:45 am!

It was hiding under the kitchen sink!

Giant stuffed animals were on their lists.

A selfie stick was on mine!
She makes this looks effortless...I tried it...it's not!

Tacky Sweaters for Christmas Night!

My mom couldn't pass these up for her son-in-laws! Purchased with love at Walmart! 
We made a rainy but fun trip to Sandbridge!

We celebrated the New Year!

And surprised my Grandma on her 88th birthday!
It was fun! I have enjoyed some peace and quiet today. And I have already started gearing up for the spring real estate market!

Oh and last but not least I also organized my recipes over the break...so here goes with this week's menu planner

Monday....Hanger Steak, Potatoes, Sauteed Spinach

Tuesday....Crockpot Zuppa Toscana, Bread

Wednesday....Teriyaki Salmon Bowl

Thursday...Super Sloppy Joes and Fries