6 Ways to Help a Sick Friend


How do you help a sick friend or a friend that’s overwhelmed with life?  When I’m deciding what kind of posts to write, I usually try to get them upbeat.  After all, who really wants to hear me whine about my problems?  However, my mother has been dealing with a pretty serious health issue for the last couple of months and it’s been a little stressful and at times quite emotional for me.  My current situation got me thinking about the stress that a family is under when someone is going through a health crisis and what we can do to help a sick friend or family member.

help a sick friend

Long term I’m sure my mother will be fine.  However, the process has been pretty overwhelming as there have been many hospital stays, multiple doctor appointments every week (sometimes daily) and just a lot to do in general. 

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

Can you believe we are already in the home stretch of June? Where is the summer going? It seems like it’s barely started and it’s already half over.

You wouldn’t believe how much I accomplished this weekend. Well, at least on Saturday. Sunday I was a bit of a slug 🙂  I found a great sale at one of my favorite stores (Chico’s) and ended up buying 5 pieces for $93 (that included shipping and tax).  That was a GREAT deal.  Of course, since I bought everything online we’ll have to see how it fits.  One of the benefits of keeping to one store though is you have a pretty good idea as to their sizing.

In addition to mega shopping, I also tried a few new recipes.  It’s been a while since I’ve done a new dessert recipe and I have to say.  I LOVE bread  pudding.  I can’t wait to share that recipe with you guys.

As part of my mega shopping, a while ago I saw an idea for organizing the pantry that I absolutely loved. This weekend I decided to implement it and I have to say that although I’m not 100% complete (Hobby Lobby didn’t have enough of the supplies that I needed) it looks totally awesome! Mike isn’t totally digging it (yet) but Belle really likes it. I can’t wait to finish it up and share it with you. It’s the simple things in life that make me happy!

I also splurged on some new dishes this weekend. My current dishes are/were over 10 years old, and quite frankly, neither Mike nor I really liked them. Mike bought them for me for Christmas one year ( I know – dishes for Christmas!) and he was so pleased with them I didn’t have the heart to tell him I didn’t love them. Fast forward all these years and Mike admitted his didn’t like our dishes because of all the grooves in them. Hmmm, sounds like a perfect excuse to spend money! These are the plates I bought; they were on sale at Shopko. I absolutely love them and they match our kitchen perfectly. An (almost) organized pantry and new dishes. I’m in heaven!



Gibson Soho Lounge Stoneware Square 16 Piece Red Dinnerware Set

This past weekend I spend $221 on groceries, which was under budget. The total would have actually been smaller except that this was re-fill week on household essentials. I needed to buy dog food, laundry stuff, body wash for both Mike and I and the list continues. Conservatively,  $50 of the total amount went to non-food. Oh well, toilet paper is definitely an essential!

The menu was put together based on what we had in the house. When trying to keep our budget under control, I find that putting together meals based on what’s in the freezer/pantry is one of the easiest ways to do so.

Pineapple Strawberry Basil Chiffonade

I recently tried my hand at making Pineapple Strawberry Basil Chiffonade.  When I first saw the name of this “recipe” (it’s in quotes because it’s so easy I don’t know that I can really classify this as a recipe) I thought it would be something fluffy or creamy due to the word chiffonade. I really didn’t know what a “chiffonade” was so I guess my mind went along the lines of chiffon. You know, that soft fluffy fabric. Yeah, I was way off!

Pineapple Strawberry Basil Chiffonade

It turns out that chiffonade is a French word for a chopping technique (thanks Wikipedia!). Basically you stack a bunch of basil leaves on top of each other, roll them up and then cut them so that you have ribbons of basil. Who knew?

So, they served this in our cafeteria at work and it was so yummy (an easy!) that I decided that this would make a good snack or side dish for the summer.

Weekly Menu – Week of June 19, 2016

weekly menu planning

Welcome to another week!  I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and got to spend it with the most important men in your life. Mike worked so we are putting off our celebration for him until later this week.

My weekend went way to fast!  We had a graduation party on Saturday and I had my dad over for a cook-out on Sunday.  My mom has been pretty sick lately the last coupe of months and is currently in the hospital so I thought a low-key dinner on the patio would be good for him.

Last week I mentioned that I was going to start sharing my grocery budget info with you, that may have been a mistake!  When I decided to do that, I had been doing a pretty good job coming in under budget.  Not so the last coupe of weeks!

To help control our spend (and because that menu choices haven’t been that fantastic) I haven’t been ordering from Plated.com.  However, this week the menu had some things I wanted to try so we are getting a box.  To help put us over budget, I broke down and bought one of the “chef” items which is always more expensive and dessert.  But hey, who can fault me for caving over Nutella Brioche Bread Pudding?

When I decided to order from Plated.com, I didn’t realize that Michael’s present to his dad would be New York Strips from his favorite meat market.  Normally we don’t do two steaks in a row but no one in the family is complaining!

Grocery Budget Details

  • Plated.com – $100
  • Main Grocery Trip – $136
  • Odds and Ends – $61
  • Total – $297

We are obviously over our budget of $250, however we won’t be eating out at all this week (that’s the plan at least) and we will have quite a bit of food left over that I can use when I’m planning next week’s meal.  There were two things that contributed to my going over.  1) I did a quick inventory but not a very thorough one.  I bought a number of things we had and 2) I didn’t insist that Mike give me a list.  I bought a few things he didn’t need and I didn’t buy a few things he did (that would be the odds and ends).  Next week I’ll have to do better about following my Rules for Grocery Shopping.

No travel for me this  (knock on wood) this should be a relatively quiet week for us.

Summer Salads – An Easy Dinner Idea

This is a guest post from my friend Jenny:  Summer is full upon us and fresh summer salads are great to prepare in advance to have for an easy go-to side dish for several meals.  I usually make several at a time to give some variety, including broccoli salad, potato salad,shrimp salad, and macaroni salad.  When visiting my parents a few weeks ago, my mom made this fruit salad – it reminds me of a combination of apple salad and broccoli salad – and it’s wonderful.  It didn’t last even two days!

Summer Salads



Weekly Menu – Week of June 12, 2016

weekly menu planning

Welcome to another week!  We enjoyed beautiful (although incredibly hot) weather here in Wisconsin.  It’s this time  every year that I realize that I might have made a mistake in my career choice.  All my teacher friends are talking about pool time and all the fabulous things they are going to do this summer while I……work.  Is it to late to change careers 🙂

The last few weeks I’ve been working hard to cut our grocery bill, most weeks with success.  Saturday we hosted a Thanksgiving dinner so I maxed out my budget.  I thought I’d add a new feature to my weekly menu where I share how well I do against budget.  Let me know if you guys like this or not.

Here are some of the things that I’ve been doing to keep my bill under budget.  You’ll notice, this week I’m way over budget (I probably should have picked a different week to start!) which normally would frustrate me quite a bit.  However, we did host a big dinner plus part of the odds and ends were picking up fried chicken from the deli last night which was cheaper than eating out.  We also have quite a bit of meat in our freezer so I should be able to make up some of the budget next week.

Unexpected Company? Try the 10 Minute Clean Up

10 minute clean up

A guest post from my friend Wanda:  I know that ideally your house should always be company ready, but I have two boys and this is not always easy to do. I want to acknowledge that right up front. To compensate we use what I like to call the 10 minute clean up.  Here is the situation–a friend or family member calls and asks if okay that they stop by for a visit. They will be there in 10 minutes. You frantically look around your house while saying over the phone, “sure we are home and would love to see you.” You end your call and go into freak mode. otherwise known as the 10 minute clean up mode.  10 minutes may not seem like a lot, but trust me, you can do a lot in that time. The pure adrenaline will push you through.

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

Welcome to the start of another week.  Last week was fairly uneventful for us.  This week is shaping up to be the same.  With the exception that Belle is starting a summer job at the company I work for.  She’s going to be working in the mill which is a big change for her.  To say she’s nervous is an understatement!  We spent this weekend getting her safety shoes and some clothes for her to wear.  I’m really hoping it goes well for her and that she gets a shift that will enable us to car pool together

I’ll be traveling two days this week so Mike and Belle will be on their own those nights.  I will cook up the brats and the chicken before I go so that they have some food while I’m gone.  Aren’t they lucky to have me?  🙂

This week I added a new item into our rotation.  Last year in our Plated.com box we had Portobello mushrooms.  I used to make them when the kids were small but they hated them and it got to be more of a hassle than it was worth.  Since they are so easy, and yummy, I’ve decided to add them back into our summer rotation.  It’s a nice change from hamburgers.

On Saturday we’ll be having our annual Thanksgiving of Friendship with our good friend John and Amy.  All the kids join in and we have a big traditional turkey dinner.  Typically we like to do this in January or February, but with everyone’s schedules it just got to be to hectic this year.  I’m actually looking forward to having it in summer as we’ll be able to (weather permitting) sit outside and enjoy a fire.

Maple-Soy Portobello Mushroom Burgers

One of my tricks for cooking at home more is to find recipes that are not only tasty, but incredibly easy.  These Portobello Mushroom Burgers check both of those boxes.

When the kids were younger, we used to cook these up fairly frequently.  Since those meals were met with groans and refusals to eat them, I ended up taking them out of the rotation.

Portobello Mushroom Burgers

Since it had been a while since I cooked them, I was pretty pleased when I received them in my Plated.com box.  Now that the kids aren’t around, I really don’t need to worry about their tastes 🙂 This is a little different than what I used to do with them, I didn’t use the maple syrup or the guacamole, but I find the to be quite tasty.

I’m not a big hamburger bun fan so I actually buy French rolls, warm them up in the oven and use those instead.

Fresh Squeezed Strawberry Lemonade

Fresh Squeezed Strawberry Lemonade, for our family, is a sure sign of summer.  It’s one of those drinks that is so refreshing on a hot summer day, and it’s so easy to make!

strawberry lemonade

One of my tips would be to stock up when strawberries are in season (it’s a great family activity to go out and pick them yourself!), cut them up and freeze them.  You’ll then be able to have delicious, summer ripened strawberries all year long.  If picking and freezing your own strawberries for strawberry lemonade isn’t in the cards, frozen works just fine.  Of course, you can always pick up fresh strawberries in the produce section but anyone who lives in cold climate knows that winter strawberries aren’t quite as yummy as those summer ones!