Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Four Week Menu Plan

I totally didn't keep up with my Elf on the Shelf blog posts. (Don't worry, I did have a successful elf season. Clyde and Ginger had a great time this year!) I will get all caught up eventually, but today I have something extra for whoever is interested.

Who is sooooo tired of trying to figure out what to make for dinner each night? ME! ME! ME!

Are you raising your hand right now? I know you are. It can become such a tired chore! Then some days you forget entirely and end up going out or ordering in and totally throw your monthly budget off. Well, that's what ends up happening to us now and then. So I decided to do something about it. I made a menu plan!

I've done it before. And it worked. But I also made a few mistakes. I tried to add too many "new, fun recipes" that the kids totally hated or that took 3 hours of prep and 57 ingredients to make. My new plan has eliminated most of those. I say most, because there are definitely still dinners that take some prep time. But if you are prepared then it's not hard. And they taste delicious!

In order to be prepared, I went a step further and created shopping lists for each week. I print out the list for the selected week, "shop" my pantry first and check off all the things I already have, then head to the store and get the rest. Each day I can just look at the schedule and know what's for dinner. If there is any major prep, I can get it done earlier in the day, (when I actually have the energy to do it!), or earlier in the week and stick it in the fridge or freezer.

But don't worry! Some days are easy! I mixed in things like fish sticks, pizza, and mac & cheese. Sometimes chili will be homemade, sometimes it will come out of a can. Anyways...

Here it is! Print it out. Use it. Don't stress over dinner. :)

PS I have Diet Coke, milk, and orange juice on every shopping list. Those are just things we go through every week at our house. :)

Weekly Menu Plan (2 pages)

Week One Shopping List

Week Two Shopping List

Week Three Shopping List

Week Four Shopping List

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Day 11 - Bath time.

After yesterday's snowball fight, the elves needed to clean up. This one was a bit tricky. I wasn't sure if I should do it with just Clyde. But I knew the kids would be full of questions: "Where is Ginger? Why didn't she come today?" Then I remembered that the kids had those little bathtubs! It is a bit like a Cialis commercial, but the elves both had towels on, so I think I definitely stayed in the G rated arena.

I actually forgot to add the little hair wraps, but I did them really quick for the photo, then threw them away. Only took 3 squares of t.p. each. Don't rip them apart. Three connected squares of t.p. made the perfect hair wraps for the elves.

Their towels are just felt. I'm so glad I bought so many colors. Pink for Ginger and blue for Clyde. :)

Day 10 - Snow forts.

What a mess! Ginger was teaching Clyde how to build a snow fort, but then they ended up getting into a snow ball fight.

They made quite a mess on the kitchen counter! :D

Clyde hit Ginger's hat, but Ginger got Clyde in the face!

The kids wanted to eat the marshmallows! I bought one bag of the Jumbo marshmallows, but I probably should have bought two bags. One bag of minis was plenty, though. I had more than half a bag left over of the minis after dumping a bunch all over the counter and in their snow forts.

The one stuck on Clyde's face and the one stuck on Ginger's hat are both half marshmallows. I bit it in half, licked the inside to make it even stickier, and stuck it on. Just a warning though, the one on Ginger's hat was hard to remove and clean up. The marshmallow stuck to the felt really well! The one on Clyde's face came off easily and any extra bits washed right off with a wet paper towel. So, my recommendation is "yes" for the face or any part of the plastic head, but  "no" on the felt hat or body. The "dust" from the marshmallows came off really easy, so don't worry about that. :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Day 9 - Sack Race

Matthew was very worried this morning! He couldn't find Clyde! Dan got up and helped him look all around to find our little elf. They slowly worked their way through the house and checked under and over and around each little thing. Then... Yay!!! Matthew found him! And a few other friends. :)

I didn't think he was too hidden, but I guess Matthew didn't think to look behind the couch. We have a nice walkway space between the couch and the wall and I thought it would be a good spot to have a sack race, because it would be out of the way. But I also thought it would be pretty easy to spot. He was quite relieved to see that Clyde hadn't abandoned us.

The sack race was fun and easy. I got the idea here. She weighed down her sacks with candy canes, but I didn't need to weigh mine down. I guess it depends on the toys you use.

BIG WARNING! If you are planning to do this one, please, please, please, get your sacks ready when the kids aren't home! The sound the bags make when you fold them is ridiculously loud! Thankfully, my kids are really deep sleepers, but I was worried with every crinkle! Also, it's kinda hard to do. The bags will rip a little, but that's no big deal. The rips will get rolled under and not show when you are done rolling. Each bag was rolled to a slightly different height to accommodate the size of the "person" inside it. You can't see him from this angle, but there is a tiny Bigfoot in the back and his bag had to be rolled down quite a bit.

The sock monkeys made another appearance. I knew they'd be a great addition to this year. :) I love how Clyde's position seems to show a bit of desperation! But Ginger is just breezing to the end.

Day 8 - Ginger!

This morning, there was quite a surprise in our house! Clyde showed up with a friend! A girl elf!

His note said, "My friend Ginger wanted to visit your new house. I thought this car was perfect for a tour." 

When we packed up in Flagstaff, I specifically labeled the box with the Barbie car in it. Yesterday, I hunted it down and opened it. It had the kids slippers in it too, so there was a legitimate reason to open it. ;) Katie found her Barbie car and placed it nicely in her room. After she fell asleep, I tiptoed in there and stole it. :D

The kids have been hoping that we could get a girl elf, too. I secretly bought her last year after Christmas when all the Elf on the Shelf stuff was on clearance at Barnes & Noble. I haven't decided yet what kind of shenanigans these two will get into together, but it definitely won't be "Wrecking Ball" style! I love all the fun, naughty elf scenes that other bloggers put together, (especially at Lil Blue Boo, so, SO funny!), but ours will stay G rated. Back to Lil Blue Boo, she even used felt to make him a little outfit! I told you felt could be useful! ;) 

I decided to name the girl elf myself. I wanted her to have a Christmas-y name. I went back and forth on a few, but settled on Ginger. It's a real name, a spice that is associated with Christmas, and not a word I would use a lot, e.g. Cookie or Peppermint. I think it suits her quite well!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Day 7 - Ornaments

Last year, I started, I mean CLYDE started, the tradition of making Christmas ornaments with the kids' Christmas lists on them. It's a really cute way of preserving the memory of what they liked each year. I think they will be especially cute when the kids are grown.

He leaves all the supplies for kids to make the ornaments and a little note telling them what to do. He actually leaves a note everyday, but I don't always post them on here. The ribbon he left to string the ornaments with happens to match the sweater he was wearing the other day. ;) What a wonderful little coincidence!

The best part about these ornaments is that it finally got my kids to sit down and write out their Christmas lists. I had been nagging them to do it for days! Then Clyde asks them to and they sit right down and do it!

Here is a pic of last year's ornament next to this year's ornament on the tree.

Merry Christmas!

Day 6 - Monkeying Around

Clyde showed up this morning with some friends! He and these monkeys were hanging out on my banana stand. Little stinkers! ;)

Back in Flagstaff, I found these adorable Christmas Sock Monkeys and I knew I had to use them somehow in this year's Elf on the Shelf adventures. They actually worked out perfectly, because Katie and Matthew had been asking Clyde if he could bring them plush versions of Elf on the Shelf so they would have something to snuggle with at night. And those things are like $13 a piece, when I got these guys for $6 or $7 a piece.

The kids were excited! They were dying to get their hands on them, but didn't want to ruin Clyde's magic by taking them. He left them at their bedroom doors when he went back to the North Pole.  ;)

If you'll notice, Clyde has some cute, little monkey ears of his own. When stocking up on Christmas craft supplies at Michael's before we moved, (there isn't a Michael's here! SOB!), I got a bunch of felt sheets.

I don't know what I'll use it all for yet, but I realized that I could potentially make all sorts of accessories for the elf with just felt! For the ears, I chose a few shades of brown that seemed most monkey-ish to me. 

Then I just free-hand cut out an outer ear and inner ear shape for each side of Clyde's head. I glued them together with felt glue, but I'm sure any liquid glue would work. I just happened to have felt glue from a Halloween craft. 

And I simply taped them on to Clyde with a small loop of scotch tape. If you are worried about the tape sticking, you could probably hot glue them on and then just pop the glue off the next day.

I tried it out in Flagstaff first. :) 

I have to say, it's much easier to take decent pictures here. The lighting is so much better! I think there are a few factors at play. #1 The sun isn't as harsh at sea level as it is at 7,000 ft. #2 This house has many more windows and white walls, which allows for a more diffuse, softer light. I can take pictures of the elf in place, where he shows up and they turn out great! Not so much last year. I had to wait for the right time of day and try several different angles. Or move lamps around. It was a huge pain!