Back-to-School Menu

Back-to-School Menu Planning

Back-to-School Menu Planning

With school starting in a week and both my husband and I working full-time and I’ll be attending online college classes part-time, we are trying to simplify our evening routine. One area we can all agree with is that dinner planning needs a change. Most of the summer, we’ve eaten whatever we have in the house or we’ve gone out to eat. So we sat down and thought of our favorite recipes along with adding a few other recipes we might enjoy. Every week, we will sit down and choose from this list of yummy food then make a grocery list based on the recipes we’ve chosen.

Most of the recipes below are gluten and dairy free. However, some will need a little adjustment to make them into recipes my family can eat.

Ravioli Casserole

Maple Dijon Chicken Thighs

Tator Tot Casserole – Duggar Style

Meatballs with Mashed Potatoes

Chicken Fried Rice

Chicken Casserole

Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken

Lemon and Garlic Chicken

Baked Chicken with vegetables and potatoes

Stuffed Bell Pepper with left over Hamburger Casserole

Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork with wild rice


Beef n Bean Burritos

Meat Loaf with peas

Beans and Cornbread

Pollo Asado with Mexican Rice

Out to Eat


Chicken Nuggets

Hamburger Casserole

Hamburger’s with chips


Mac n Cheese with noodles and packaged cheese sauce with hotdog

Noodles with parmesan cheese and vegetables

Lasagna with leftover spaghetti sauce garlic bread

Spaghetti with garlic bread

Taco Mac n Cheese


Laundry Room Renovation

Laundry Room Renovation

A few months ago, my husband and I were looking at a house for sale. The house was listed for too much money for the lengthy list of renovations it needed including a major foundation overhaul. We decided to forgo the thought of selling our house and made a list of wants to update our house. We started with my closet. Let me explain this closet. We have lived in our “temporary” home for 14 years, and it is a small house. With four people living in a two bedroom house, every room, including closets, have to be multi-purposed. Even though my closet is separate from my husband’s closet, it is my main clothes closet, utility closet, laundry closet, and coat closet. To say the least, this is the definition of a multi-functional closet to the nth degree.

Before layout2CW

We decided to start here because it was a mess. You can tell by the before pictures that the walls were sponge painted green. Don’t judge. I had a wild hair many years ago and painted it this horrible color. What was I thinking!?!? Then a few years ago my laundry soap fell off the shelf and stained the carpet blue. Needless to say, this is by far the worst room in the house. That was all about to change. I had a vision. Thanks to Pinterest’s many ideas for closet renovations. I’ve fallen in love with the grey and white color scheme. To me, it says, “fresh and clean” and I was running with it.

My husband has a lot of connections in the contractor’s world, which plays well in our favor. He asked his flooring contact the cost on installing a scrap piece of carpet in the closet. The beautiful thing is that the flooring guy did not charge us the scarp piece of carpet and only charged us for the install. With the carpet install scheduled a week out, we stripped the closet of everything. First step was to cut out some old pipe. Then we patched and replaced pieces of the drywall, filled in holes, and floated the drywall with mud. After the mud was dry, we painted the walls a Sherwin Williams color called useful gray, and the ceiling and trim were painted white. It was starting to look ten times better and we were excited about seeing progress. After the carpet was installed and the washer and dryer were reinstalled, we repurposed a shelf to fit above the washer. We also decided to cull through our coats and place them in our respective closets therefore eliminating the need for a coat closet.

After layout2CW

Even though the whole process took us a couple of days, the pay off has inspired us to continue our vision with the rest of the house. I now go into my closet and stand there in awe. I love my new organized and clean closet!

Here was the budget break down for the closet: Grand total: $210

-carpet install: $125 (contractor’s price)

-bifold doors: $50

-shelf hardware: $10

-grey paint: $25 (contractor’s price)

-white paint: $0 (previously owned)

Vacation Packing Tips: Step 2 of 3

vacation packing tips step 2of3 cover pic

Just in case you missed it, here is Vacation Packing Tips: Step 1.

Let’s review what we have so far. In Step 1, we covered the step-by-step process of a vacation packing list working for you. Today, in Step 2, we are going to start putting action to the packing list.

Step 2:

First-things-first. Do all the laundry. This guarantees clean clothes to choose from for packing.

Now that the laundry is folded, grab your Packing Lists.

You will need the following:

  1. One piece of luggage per person. Make sure the luggage is big enough to include all shoes    (page 1 of the packing list).
  2. One large bag for toiletries (page 2 of the packing list).
  3. Cooler for perishable groceries (page 3 of the packing list).
  4. Bags or collapsible crates like these for non-perishable groceries (page 3 of the packing list).
  5. Bags for additional items on the “Other” list (page 4 of the packing list).
  6. Bags for pets (page 4 of the packing list).

Now decide what piece of luggage each person is taking. In our house, we all have our own piece of luggage. Sometimes, I share with Booger but it all depends on where we are headed and how many outfits we need to take. I will show you how to pack as if you are traveling by car.

If traveling by air, check out the TSA website for specific guidelines on what you can and can not travel with on an airplane.

Let’s put everything together!


Page 1 of the Packing List:

  • Open each one piece of luggage for each person.
  • Kid’s luggage: Since you’ve followed the directions on how to pack kids clothes for vacation, we will start with packing them first. This will be the easiest. Place filled gallon bags and shoes in luggage and zip shut. How easy is that!
  • Adult luggage: If you followed the how to pack adult clothes for vacation, you have simplified this process as well. Lay shoes flat in the bottom of the luggage. Now place rolled clothes on top. Don’t forget to add the under-garments too. Zip the bag and you are finished! Again how easy is that!


Page 2 of the Packing List:

You will need a large bag for toiletries. We bag all of our toiletries individually in zip-lock-type bags because of the potential for exploding bottles. From experience, having to clean up an entire bottle of shampoo or lotion when you get to your destination is not a fun way to start the trip. So grab a box of quart size bags and a box of gallon size bags. Start going down your packing list and add to the bag. Add all the bagged toiletries to the large toiletry bag and you are finished. If you need to wait to pack a few last minute toiletries until the day you leave, make sure to add it to the “Day Of…” list so you don’t forget them.


Page 3 of the Packing List:

We are going to need coolers and bags or collapsible crates. We will wait to pack the perishable items until the day of departure. So grab the crates. Place the heaviest items in first then place lighter items on top. Because you made a list ahead of time, you cut your packing time down to a few minutes. Make sure to add recipe cards and menu to the crate as well.

On the day of departure, you will pack the coolers. Before you throw it all in there, place all packages of food in gallon bags like fruits, cheese, packaged meats, etc. This prevents any water or ice from ruining your food. After everything is bagged, place bagged ice or ice packs on bottom. Then on top of that place largest and heaviest items on the ice. On top of heavy items, place the more light weight items. Add this to your “Day Of…” list so you don’t forget them.


Page 4 of the Packing List:

You will need two bags. One for Other and one for Pets.

  • Other bag: Some of the items on this list will not be bagged for obvious reasons like lawn chairs, coolers, a flat of bottled water, pet kennels, etc. So bag what you can and gather everything else into one place.
  • Pet bag: We have a large dog and a small dog. Both dogs are kenneled. We break down the large dog’s kennel and he rides in the seat of the car like a person. It’s quite comical! He is like having a third kid in the backseat. The small dog rides in her kennel because she is nervous by nature. The pet bag we use is the large dog’s food container. I add in the little dog’s food, bowls, medicines, etc.


Now that you are almost completely packed, you are ready to tackle the Day of Departure!

Here is Vacation Packing Tips: Step 1 in case you missed it!

Vacation Packing Tips: Step 3

How to Pack Kids Clothes for Vacation


After you figure out the numbers, put together each outfit including undergarments and socks. Also include girl hair accessories if needed. Set aside the outfits. Remove one outfit for travel so you will know what to wear the first day.

What you will need:

  • One gallon bags
  • Permanent marker

Grab the gallon bags and label them with a permanent marker with the day of the week the child will need to wear them. Label one bag “pjs”. These will be reusable if you only write the day of the week on the bag like this.kidsclothing2-2



After ink is dry on the bags, load each bag with the whole outfit according to the activity they will be involved in. Bag the pjs together or separate. Example: If the child will be swimming, then make sure to include a cover up and swimsuit and a change of clothes. One outfit down and many more to go.



This way of packing can also be used for camping trips, beach trips, or anywhere that is sandy and dirty. Bagging clothes will help keep your organized and the clothes clean.

How to Pack Adult Clothes for Vacation

After you figure out the numbers, put together each outfit including undergarments and socks. Set aside the outfits. Remove one outfit for travel so you will know what to wear the first day.

There are a couple of options for packing adult clothes.adultclothing2

  • gallon bags
  • rolling the clothes


Now for packing. We are going to roll each set together. For example: fold pants in half then in half again. Then place a half-folded shirt on top of the pants. Then place all undergarments on top of the shirt towards one end. Starting at the undergarment end, roll until you can’t roll anymore. adultclothing3Now place in a gallon bag or leave them rolled. One outfit down and many more to go. Roll the pjs together or separate.


This way of packing can also be used for camping trips, beach trips, or anywhere that is sandy and dirty. Bagging clothes will help keep your organized and the clothes clean.


Top 10 Evening Routines

Top 10 Evening Routines

The best way to daily organization is to simplify the morning craziness. In my house, Earl and I both work full-time jobs so it is critical we stay organized. Here is what we do every night before we go to bed. Free printable here!

  1. After school, craziness!! Junior and Booger both have compartments for their backpacks. Thanks to IKEA for this organizational white Kallax shelving unit and white Lekman boxes . If its winter, they hang their jackets and coats on the provided hooks. Then they place their school papers on my desk and their lunch boxes on the kitchen counter.
  1. Prepare dinner while children start homework.
  1. After dinner, lunches are made and placed in lunch boxes and put in the refrigerator, if necessary. Think about the next day’s breakfast and dinner. Ask yourself – do you need to defrost anything for dinner? Clean up kitchen including washing the dishes and sweeping the floor.
  1. Bathtub time! After everyone is squeaking clean, wipe down the bathroom, hang towels, and put dirty clothes in the basket.
  1. Start a load of laundry.
  1. Set clothes out for the next day including under-garments and shoes. Words of wisdom: finding shoes the night before will save a headache and a few tears from trying to find them during the mad rush in the mornings.
  1. Spend intentional time reading to your kids. According to the Children’s Reading Foundation, reading 20 minutes a day with your kids creates a proficient reader by the third grade. All the more reason to read, read, read! This is a good time to help them study and go over the papers from school. (link to Children’s Reading Found)
  1. Pick up hotspots. These are places where items collect over time and pile up making your house look cluttered.
  1. Switch laundry from washer to dryer. Fold as soon as it comes out of dryer.
  1. Relax by taking a long hot bath or reading before bed. Jump in bed at a reasonable hour.

Bonus: Always! Always! Take the opportunity to hug and kiss your loved-ones. You will miss them when they are gone from this world.