Sunday, December 29, 2013

Menu Plan December 30 - January 5

January already???

As I say every year, this year has flown by! It's hard to believe this is the last menu plan of 2013. But it is. We're hosting a game night on New Year's evening with some friends. We'll play board games and card games and share some great finger foods and snacks. It will be a great way to start off the New Year!

So, what are your New Year's plans? Are you trying out any new recipes this week?

Now, here's what I've got planned:

Pizza with friends

Ham and white bean soup, pretzel bread

Wednesday - Happy New Year!
I'm trying this recipe for BLT roll-ups and this one for a blue cheese ball for our game night. And maybe these stuffed mini peppers, too.

Crockpot cowboy casserole

Crockpot chicken and rice soup


Roast beef and potatoes

Hope y'all have a great week and a very happy New Year!

Fore more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas! We're going to spend the day with friends, then come home and pack to go visit my husband's family for a couple of days. I hope you enjoy your time with family and friends, too.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

December Update

December is always a busy month. And in past years, I've made it even more busy by adding tons of activities - advent calendars with daily doings, our Elf on the Shelf alternative, and plenty of crafts.

But circumstances this year have dictated that we scale back on our holiday activities and focus on our family instead. We were vacationing at Disney the first week of December, and now we've traveled to visit my family. The day after Christmas we're traveling again to visit my husband's family. We just realized that every weekend in December, we have been or will be on the road.

I've set aside the twinges of guilt I've let creep in because we missed our church Christmas cantata. We've also missed two church-related Christmas gatherings. My yearly baking, one of my favorite parts of the holidays, has been virtually non-existent. My "usual" holiday preparations have been put aside.

I've come to the conclusion that none of that matters in the grand scheme of things. Are Christmas parties nice? Sure. Is it fun to countdown to Christmas with an advent calendar? Absolutely. But that's not what Christmas is about. Those are just superfluous events our society has added to this season. To make it more fun? More stressful, trying to do too many things in a short time?

 So this year will be our simple Christmas. And while at first I felt guilty and stressed about not participating in all the extras, now I feel liberated. It's okay to focus on family. And most importantly, it's freed me up to spend more time reflecting on the greatest gift of Christmas, God's Son. His birth gives hope to all mankind. That's what I'm celebrating this Christmas, more than I ever have.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Our Disney Trip December 2013

This is why I've always wanted to visit Disney World at Christmas. The castle is spectacular!

We took our fourth family trip to Disney last week and had an amazing time. We stayed at the Port Orleans Riverside resort and enjoyed it immensely. We paid a little extra for a Royal Guest Room with a princess theme, and even my guys said they'd stay there again.

The resort offered boat transportation to Downtown Disney, which was a nice way to get around. We didn't take advantage of the extras, but the resort also had surrey bikes for rent and horse-drawn carriage rides. We've already decided we'll do those things the next time.

Even though historically the week after Thanksgiving has been a low-crowd week, we found the crowds to be higher than we expected. Thanksgiving was late this year, so that may be part of the reason. But the taping of the Disney Christmas parade took place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. All of the choirs, dance troupes and bands along with their families and sponsors descended on the place and it was packed! Not as bad as summertime, but we waited a little longer for attractions, bus rides, even meals, than we were used to.

But we didn't let that stop us from having a blast! The weather was fantastic. We were thinking it might be in the 70's. Nope, it got up to 80+ degrees every day. We never even got our rain ponchos out the entire trip, which is a first for us.

We ate at some amazing restaurants, too. My favorite was Be Our Guest in the new Fantasyland. Since it's the newest restaurant in the Magic Kingdom, it's pretty crowded. But it's based on the film Beauty and the Beast, my favorite Disney movie. I could have stayed in there all day.
Disney has been testing out a new feature called Magic Bands. You're given a plastic band embedded with an RFID chip to wear instead of being given tickets. If you make your trip reservations in advance, you can order them and choose what colors you'd like. They'll be delivered to you before your trip. If you don't order them in advance, you'll get gray bands upon your arrival. Your Magic Band is your ticket to the parks and it contains all of your reservation information, including meals and fast passes. You can also use them to charge purchases to your room. You can choose what members of your party have the authorization to make purchases.

We weren't sure if we'd like the bands. They were definitely more convenient than having to pull out four key cards every time we entered a park. And the bands were so comfortable that we hardly noticed we had to them on. The thing I liked most about them was that the kids could use them to get into our resort room, meaning we didn't have to be with them every second of the day. Every once in awhile there was a glitch - someone's band wouldn't work for park entrance or a fastpass - but the cast members were extremely helpful and solved each problem quickly.

 As much as we enjoyed being there during this time of year, we all decided we'd rather go back in February (not this coming February, of course) due to the low crowds. But I'm so, so happy that we got to experience Disney at Christmas.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Menu Plan December 9-15

After a fun-filled week at Disney World, I'm back in what is known as the Real World. Which means that instead of enjoying the many fabulous restaurants at Disney, I have to plan and prepare meals myself. This will be a short week, though, because on Saturday we're headed to West Virginia to spend some time with my family.

I'll do a more detailed post about our Disney trip later this week, so be sure to come by for that.

Now on to this week's menu plan.

Pollo fundido, Mexican rice

Beef stew, pretzel bread

Baked spaghetti, garlic bread

Quesadillas, refried beans

Steak bites, twice baked potatoes

Heading to WV, making some pepperoni rolls to take with us

For some more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.