Jessica's Jottings:

On faith, food, family and frugality

Menu Plan for the rest of the year – because I can. :D

Menu Plan for the rest of the year

How often do you get to say that? ūüôā

Not often enough, I think.

Thursday,¬†¬†December¬†18 – Nathan’s work Christmas party

Breakfast:  Pumpkin Spice Dutch Baby, Oatmeal, and Nathan will make a fresh batch of biscuits 
Lunch: Leftover chicken soup with the rest of the biscuits
Tilapia, Pumpkin Pie Casserole, and slaw

Tasks: Pack N’s lunch. Make a new batch of tea for the kombucha. Start soaking oats for the baked oatmeal. Make a double batch of sweet onion poppyseed dressing. Soak black beans overnight.

Friday,  December 19

Breakfast: Baked oatmeal
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Sandwiches, Black Bean and Avocado Salad, and lettuce salad

Tasks: Make the waffle mix found in “Against All Grain.”¬†Pull stew meat out of the freezer before bed. Crock pot cook the black beans.

Saturday,  December 20 Рlast music lesson for the year

Breakfast: Waffles
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Beef Stew with corn, okra, tomatoes, beans, and beer – totally making this up as I go, based on the faint recollection of a really good (similar) stew from Cracker Barrel.

Tasks: Pack lunches for girls to eat while driving to violin lessons.

Sunday,  December 21 РNo cooking on Sundays! Serving in WL this evening. 

Breakfast: Leftover waffles
Lunch: Leftovers and sandwiches
Dinner: Leftovers

Tasks: Pack N’s lunch.

Monday, December 22

Breakfast: Cherry muffins and THM cinnamon muffins
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Baked chicken legs, lettuce salad, green beans 

Tasks:  Start a batch of sourdough bread early a.m. Bake bread in the afternoon. Start soaking sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil to get ready for pasta salad.

Tuesday, December 23

Breakfast: Lemon Berry Coffeecake
Lunch: Leftovers
Salmon patties with lemon sour cream and broccoli

Tasks:  Start a double batch of sourdough pancakes.

Wednesday,  December 24 РN working from home, Family (part 1) arriving

Breakfast: Sourdough pancakes Рif any batter left over, work on the savory pancake recipe again.
Lunch: Leftovers
Whiting with lemon cream sauce, baked potato/sweet potato bar 

Tasks: Make pasta salad for tomorrow. Use the crock pot to bake potatoes and sweet potatoes during the day.

Thursday,  December 25 РChristmas, Family (part 2) arriving, Family (part 1) leaving

Breakfast: Fried eggs, biscuits, and Low Carb Cheese Danish
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Steak, Savory sweet potatoes with bacon and swiss, pasta salad (Add ins = swiss cheese, red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and mushrooms)

Tasks: Thaw out steaks and bacon.

Friday,  December 26  РN off РFamily (part 2) leaving, along with 2-3 kids

Breakfast: Waffles
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Chickpeas with dill*, marathi rice* and Grain-free flat bread to wrap them both.

Tasks: Thaw out chick peas.

Saturday,  December 27 Рdown 2-3 kids

Breakfast: Autoimmune Paleo Apple Crisp
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Meatballs and leftover sides.

Tasks: Pull meatballs from freezer. Make BBQ sauce for the meatballs.

Sunday, December 28 РNo cooking on Sundays! down 2-3 kids

Breakfast: Leftovers
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Leftovers


Monday,¬†December¬†29¬† – N off – Rafe’s birthday. Usually, we let the birthday kid plan the menu for the day, but he may not be here.

Breakfast: French toast with berries
Lunch: Leftovers
“Cheesy” Chicken Casserole¬†(doubled) and salad


Tuesday, December 30 РN off, down 2-3 kids

Breakfast: Pumpkin Spice Dutch Baby¬†(and oatmeal, if there are kids around who don’t like it)
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Simple Chicken and Spinach Enchilada Casserole

Tasks:  Check on kombucha.

Wednesday, December 31 РN working from home, down 2-3 kids

Breakfast: Spinach & Sausage Egg Muffins Рdouble batch
Lunch: Leftovers



*From the amazing Indian cookbook, “5 Spices, 50 Dishes.” If you love Indian food, but don’t have all day to spend in the kitchen, you will love this book.

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“Mama? Mama, tell me a story.”

“Mama? Mama, tell me a story.”

Oh, child of mine.
My story well has run dry
I’m plumb out of imagination.

There are clothes to wash
And dishes to do
And the constant, constant draining needs
Don’t allow for rumination.

My brain is tired.
My heart beats slow.
With promises to keep
And miles to go

Before I sleep,
Before I sleep.
The words of others
Must suffice for stories for you,
my little love.

You ask for memories of my youth.
I can’t remember half the time
(and that’s the truth)
unless something specific throws up a flare
And highlights a memory hiding there
in the recesses of my cranial space.

Then, words pour forth
Like water from the rock
And you soak up your heritage
Like a sponge…

Oh, little one, little one,
Eldest fruit, carried full length minus two weeks
The story of your passage to this world
Draws you in again and again.

So hungry for your history.

Oh, God, Most High, help me love her well.

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Peanut Butter Freezer Fudge – A sugar-free recipe modification

When I was invited to a Women’s Bible Study, I knew I wanted to bring a treat if it was okay with the hostess.

It was. So, I made this Slab Apple Pie. I was already making one to take to a lady who’d just had a baby, so it wasn’t a problem to make another one. I did, however, want to bring something that I, attempting a sugar-free lifestyle, would be able to eat.*

I’d been eyeballing this Peanut Butter Freezer Fudge, even though it has maple syrup in it. Also, I don’t have any chocolate chips or chocolate bars, so I’d have to add my own DIY chocolate. So, while it doesn’t look like the originally pictured fudge, it’s still very tasty – tasty enough that I knew I’d want to make it again.

Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Fudge

1 c. crunchy natural peanut butter
1/2 c. coconut oil
1/2 tsp. salt
3/8 tsp. maple flavoring (I use the Frontier Naturals brand.) (This is 1/4 tsp. plus another half of a 1/4 tsp.)
1/4 c. cocoa powder
2 T. powdered Truvia (ground up in coffee grinder) (DON’T skip this step or it will taste grainy!)

Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Pour into a freezer safe container. (The original directions state to line the bowl with foil – no doubt that would make extraction much easier. I did not do that and extraction was, ahem, challenging.) Put the bowl into the freezer until the fudge is solid.

Once frozen, extract and enjoy! ūüėÄ


*For what it’s worth, I didn’t throw this together in time to let it set in the freezer at all. Thus, on the curvy backroads I took to get there, a lot sloshed over the side. I didn’t bother taking it out until I got back home. Oy, what a mess. I gotta say though, there are worse things for the van to smell like than chocolate. ūüôā

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Grain Free Baked Whiting with Lemon Cream Sauce – a recipe modification

Whiting? Whiting? What on earth is whiting?

It’s a fish…one of the few fish I could find at Wal-Mart that was relatively inexpensive and didn’t have sodium tripolyphosphate (spelling?) added. While not quite as innocuous in its fishiness as tilapia, when this was baked up and had the cream sauce applied, it was delicious and not fishy tasting at all.

I modified this recipe from the back of the package to be grain-free.


Grain Free Baked Whiting with Lemon Cream Sauce 

4 whiting filets, thawed

1/8 c. (2 T.) of finely ground almond meal (I used a coffee grinder to grind it finer)
1/2 tsp. of Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
ground pepper to taste

1 c. heavy cream
2 T. butter
zest of one lemon


  1. Preheat oven to 350*.
  2. Place whiting filets in a 9″ x 13″ pan.
  3. Mix breading ingredients together and stir well.
  4. Sprinkle the breading mixture on both sides of each of the whiting filets.
  5. Bake it for 15- 20 minutes until flaky.
  6. While the whiting is baking, mix the sauce ingredients into a small saucepan over medium to medium low heat.
  7. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for three minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat.
  8. Serve whiting drizzled with liberal quantities of sauce. Enjoy!

Also, might I suggest serving this with Jessika’s Roasted Vegetables?¬†They’re delicious together!!! ūüėÄ

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Bison Black Bean Burgers

I scribbled down a quick recipe that sounded like it would taste good, before I ran out the door to serve at our evening church service. It was also made of stuff that we had in the deep freezer and that Nathan could quickly throw together to make dinner for the kids after getting off of his work call.

He put them together, serving them with green beans. The kids devoured almost all of it. Thankfully, there were about five left over when I got home…YUM!

Bison Black Bean Burgers

1 lb ground bison
1 1/2 c. cooked black beans (or 1 can)
1/2 – 2/3 c. chopped onionSalt and pepper

Combine ingredients and mix thoroughly. Form into patties and cook.

Nathan fried these in the cast iron skillet with a bit of bacon grease. They were absolutely AMAZING!


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The Breakfast Post

Hello, Friends!

This is the post where I brainstorm breakfast ideas – you know, so that I have them all (ideas and links, if applicable) in one place while I’m doing meal planning. Which I’m a tad behind on. Again. :p

If you have other ideas/recipes/etc., *please* share!

Here goes:

That’s what I’ve got so far. Please chime in with some of your favorite breakfast recipes.

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A Litany for Today

I woke up with these lines beginning to form in my head. Here, I will attempt to give them voice.


Oh God of the wind and the rain,

Help me overcome my unbelief.*

Oh God of mountain-moving fame,

Help me overcome my unbelief.

Oh God who really knows my name,

Help me overcome my unbelief.


Oh God who sent His Son to die,

Help me overcome my unbelief.

Oh God who breathed my soul to life,

Help me overcome my unbelief.

Oh God who gives me strength to try,

Help me overcome my unbelief.


Oh God who tidal waves my sin,

Help me overcome my unbelief.

Oh God whose strength I can rest in,

Help me overcome my unbelief.

Oh God, please help me once again,

Help me overcome my unbelief.




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Family Meal Plan and getting ready for Walking Wisely weekend, 2/2-2/8

It’s here! The week leading up to our hosting of N’s middle school boys group: 15 6th graders, 2 adult leaders, and 1 high school leader. Since I will be doing a lot of extra food prep, our meals are going to be pretty basic – lots of low tech sandwiches, etc.

Sunday, February 2

Breakfast: Fried eggs and bread
Lunch: Leftovers and sandwiches
Dinner: Leftovers

Tasks: Pack N’s lunch.  Tend to milk kefir grains, water kefir grains, and sourdough. Make more washing soda and dishwasher detergent.

Monday, February 3 – cello lesson night, hit grocery store for flour and milk

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and toast
Lunch: Sandwiches
Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches

Tasks:  Pack N’s lunch. Tend to milk and water kefir grains and sourdough. Soak oats for breakfast. Start sourdough bread. Make  chocolate chip cookies freeze.

Tuesday, February 4 – Mom’s Meeting night

Breakfast: Baked Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner:¬†PB&J’s, carrot sticks and apple slices with chocolate rice pudding for dessert

Tasks:  Tend to milk and water kefir grains and sourdough. Check on kombucha. Bake bread. Make oatmeal raisin cookies.

Wednesday, February 5

Breakfast: Grapefruit and yogurt, sausage and eggs
Lunch: Leftovers
Salmon patties and broccoli

Tasks: Pack N’s lunch. Tend to milk and water kefir grains and sourdough. Make slab apple pies and cinnamon rolls and put them in the freezer. Start sourdough pancakes.

Thursday,¬†February 6 ‚Äst p.m. Small Group, Grammie whisking oldest two away for sleepovers. Go to grocery store for any last minute WWW items.

Breakfast: Sourdough pancakes
Lunch: Leftovers
Tilapia and Jessika’s Roasted Vegetables

Tasks: Pack N’s lunch.  Tend to milk and water kefir grains and sourdough. Make double batch of BBQ sauce. Make more cinnamon rolls and freeze them. Pull breakfast links from the freezer.

Friday, February 7 – Walking Wisely begins tonight!

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, breakfast links, and freezer biscuits
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Sandwiches and salads

Tasks: Tend to milk and water kefir grains and sourdough. Make loads of sandwich rolls. Cook pork shoulder in crockpot for BBQ sandwiches for boys. Bake the apple pies.

Saturday, February 8 – Serving breakfast and lunch to the boys

Breakfast: Cinnamon rolls, eggs, bacon, sausage, apple pie
Lunch: Deli meat, cheese, BBQ pork, toppings,
Dinner: Leftovers (boys are having pizza at church)

Tasks: Tend to milk and water kefir grains and sourdough. Start oats for baked oatmeal.

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How do you feed 15 middle school boys?

This coming weekend, we are hosting 15 Middle School boys for their Walking Wisely Weekend through Browns Bridge Community Church. Wow! I am going to be in extreme food prep mode all week.

These are kids that are used to eating and drinking LOTS of processed food and drinks…which I try REALLY hard not to serve any more. I’ve already made the concession to buy soda ( ūüė¶ ), but I want them to have lots of other options too. So I’m going to be making sweet tea concentrate and lemonade, and have lots of water bottles available. That way, they at least have healthier options around – which could make all the difference. ūüôā

For the food…well, I could really, really use an infusion of ideas. We will be serving a post-session large snack on Friday night, Saturday morning breakfast, Saturday lunch, snacks all throughout, and Sunday morning breakfast. Here are the recipes I’ve compiled thus far, most of which have some component that I can get ready days in advance and throw into the freezer.

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls

Slab Apple Pie

Homemade Sandwich Rolls (I figured I’d also buy some different kinds of deli meats and cheeses).

Freezer Biscuits

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Baked Oatmeal

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Veggie tray with Homemade Ranch Dressing (again, they need non-sweet, non-junk options, people!) ūüėČ

BUT, I still need some lunch ideas. Here’s where you come in. If you could PLEASE share some tasty, healthy options that will appeal to 6th grade boys, I would be most grateful! Also, if you have any other easy, tasty snack ideas, please share those, too.¬† Comment below with your ideas, your web sites, or your Pinterest pins.




Goals Update #1

On Saturday, January 18, I typed up the following list of goals for 2014:

  • Read through the entire Bible. (Already started this and using this plan:
  • Participate in the T-Tapp 60 Day Challenge, starting January 25 and running through March 25.
  • Incorporate regular guitar practice into my week.
  • Complete the Couch to 5K program. (Yup, trying this one again.)
  • Organize our house and downsize our stuff, one room at a time. (I’m currently working on our great room and it looks GREAT! heh…you see what I did there, yes?)
  • Get the hang of and follow the Trim Healthy Mama program while working with my food sensitivities.
  • Keep in touch with my NC friends via letters, cards, and postcards.
  • Start and maintain a home management system such as the one outlined here: Motivated Moms Chore Planner.
  • Continue to home school our children and interface with our home school support group on a regular basis.
  • Participate in the Scripture Memory Project for this year.

I just wanted to give an update and hold myself to a quasi-form of accountability. (Even if no one else reads this, at least the process of putting together a post helps refresh the goals in my brain!) ūüôā

I’ve gotten a little behind, but I’m still plugging away.

Due to some rules that I don’t have time/energy to accomplish, I am unofficially participating in this. I did the Instructional 1 workout last night and plan to continue for the next 13 days, for a full 14 day boot camp. At the end of the 14 days, I will determine whether or not to continue on every day or every other day.

  • Incorporate regular guitar practice into my week.

This one I still need to work on. I had a guitar lesson yesterday which involved more talking than playing. I hadn’t been able to find any of my music that I was supposed to be working on and assumed that the kids had been rifling through my case. I found them last night in a pile of papers. /sigh

I have been walking on the treadmill four times in the last ten days. Not awesome, but it beats zero! hehe…and I still need to print the treadmill program out and tape it to the whiteboard where N and I are currently engaged in a friendly walking competition. I reactivated my NikePlus account and have been uploading my walks there.

  • Organize our house and downsize our stuff, one room at a time. (I’m currently working on our great room and it looks GREAT! heh…you see what I did there, yes?)

I’m still working on the Great Room. I’ve been able to move a lot of stuff out of there – but now I need to organize it where it is. (And seriously…I would LOVE to finally, 12 years later, get a wedding album done!)

  • Get the hang of and follow the Trim Healthy Mama program while working with my food sensitivities.

This has been a work in progress. I’ve been following the program to the best of my understanding, but I’ve been including some different grains and dairy products that are affecting me in negative ways. My right foot is swelling again on a semi-regular basis and my digestion is not exactly awesome. Must do more research!

  • Keep in touch with my NC friends via letters, cards, and postcards.

I’ve got about ten different postcards started. I need to finish and address them.

I purchased this last week and printed out the month of January. It’s been great to read through for ideas, but I’ve absolutely not fully implemented it yet.

I’ve started printing out daily To Do lists for our oldest two children. This has been a huge help to me as I can continually refer them back to the list instead of having to try to figure things out on the fly. I’m all for some spontaneity, but this was starting to choke me a bit. Due to illness, we had to cancel a playdate on Monday, miss Clover Buds (a Jr. 4-H program) on Tuesday, and were unable to attend the regularly scheduled co-op on Thursday.

I have memorized the first two verses for this, but have not yet connected with either of my Facebook ladies via Skype to recite them to each other.

Oh! And a goal that didn’t make it on to the list was to participate in Jon Acuff‘s Empty Shelf Challenge. I’ve already read my first book for it, “How Do You Kill 11 Million People?” by Andy Andrews. It was, without a doubt, a book that I think *everyone* should read.

One more thing: I’m going to set a goal of finding a local mentor. I’ve been struggling emotionally in some areas and I know that is not where God has for me to stay. I also know that God moved us for a reason and that I need to find contentment in the knowledge that He is good and that His plans are good – even when I can’t see it. I need to look to the future instead of grieving for the past. It’s hard. Some days, it’s really, really hard. I need someone here who can look me in my tear-stained eyes and tell me, in love, to get over it.

So, there we are. I imagine that I’ll be using this as a template for the rest of the updates. You know…those updates that I’ll be writing into my new Motivated Moms Planner so I don’t forget them like I did last year. ūüėČ

Instead of a “Peace out!”, let’s shoot for this:

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23, NIV)

Have a great week, y’all!