Right now I'm feeling very love/hate towards Back to School.  I love the rhythms of routine that go along with the school year - my walk with Mr. Darcy in the morning, off to school for Emma, work for Mike and me, then to the grocery store with Emma when I pick her up in the early afternoon, we take a walk around the neighborhood, then we make dinner.  I love that little routine of ours.

What I'm hating right now was dropping her off at her first day in the big kid classroom.  She was so brave and sweet with a little hint of timidness when we dropped her off this morning.  I am so proud of the brave, big girl she has become, but heartbroken at the same time.  She seems so grown up as she showed off her new backpack to her teachers and then held their hand as she set off to explore the new classroom.

In her old room (the "Two's & Toddlers" room) she had gotten so comfortable and would bounce around the second she entered.  This day felt different.  She was so putting on such a strong, brave face even though I could feel her little nerves as she entered.  She was in control of her fears, and she was calm.  When did my little girl transform into this lovely little tiny lady? 

Like all working Mom's I struggle with the decision to work.  I'm very fortunate that I get to be a little of both - I work from home for 20 hours a week divided over a couple of days, then get to be a stay-at-home mom the rest of the time. I love having Emma here at home with me while we keep the house, piddle in the kitchen, run our errands and go exploring outside.  But there is a part of me that needs to work, too.  I'm a worker bee - it is the way I'm built.

I've come to terms with the fact that I'm best as a Mom and Wife when I have that couple of days a week to work, let my brain focus and be creative.  Of course, there is always a part of me that feels a bit guilty for loving what I do so much, but at the end of the day, I hope Emma finds a passion that can be as fulfilling for her, too.  I'm so grateful that I have the best of both worlds, but I'm very much missing my Emma this morning.

Our summer break has given me a chance to reflect on what I do here and given me some new perspective and inspiration.  I'm attempting to be more organized in all aspects of my life - on here and at home.  One thing that is always a priority for us as a family is dinner time every night.  Every single night we sit down together as a family and eat at the dinner table.

Because I've never been very organized about meal planning, we go to the store almost every day.  It is my goal to be more efficient with our errands, so I'm going to try to shop for a couple of days at a time so our afternoons are more open.  I'm also planning to incorporate one night of leftovers transformed into a new dinner.  I think this is a really smart way to be efficient with our time and money... after all, each night that I don't have to buy something for dinner is about a savings of $25-30, adding up to more than $100 a month with really no sacrifice at all.

I also am conscious that we have leftover options for lunches the next day for Mike and me.  Mike likes to workout over lunch, so if he can take something with him to the office, he earns an extra 30 minutes in his day if he doesn't have to stop for lunch. 

I'm going to focus on sharing more recipes and home projects here this Fall.  You can expect to see at least 2 recipes each week, along with a home project (mostly inspiration boards and construction updates... slated to start in 1 month!).  Once a week I'll share a product update for the Store - the new Fall Collection is coming out this Thursday.

I'm also planning to share our weekly meal plans here every Sunday so you can use our plan as inspiration for your own (of course, I'm already a day late this week!).  I'd love to hear more about how you organize your family's meal planning, too.  Right now I'm looking for lots of inspiration for make-ahead meals and ways to reuse leftovers.  Please share your favorites!

This Week's Menu :

Sunday : "The" Spaghetti Sauce & Homemade Meatballs with Italian Restaurant Salad and Easy "Homemade" Garlic Bread

Last week I shared our new favorite tomato sauce - the best, and simplest sauce you'll ever try.  This is a Sunday night staple at our house (or something equally as comforting like Pot Roast or Roasted Chicken).  I also love making this on a Sunday because leftover meatballs + garlic bread turn into meatball sandwiches for Mike's lunch. 

Monday : Meyer Lemon Chicken with Basil Mashed Potatoes

This is one of my all time favorites.  You can grill the chicken and serve with veggies if you're in the mood for a lighter/fresher dinner, too.  I make sure to prepare extra chicken to use for the Bacon & Chicken Panini's the next night.

Tuesday : Leftovers Night : Tomato Bisque and Bacon Chicken Panini's

Recipe to come tomorrow!  I use the left over Tomato Sauce to make tomato bisque by adding chicken stock and cream, then bringing it to a simmer.  We always have bacon and cheese, so this is something that I can make almost any night of the week.

Wednesday :  Mike's Favorite Meatloaf, Chive Mashed Potatoes & Roasted Carrots with Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Wednesday is one of my days home with Emma so we like to make a big meal and dessert that we can work on all day.  We use the Barefoot Contessa's Meatloaf recipe as a base, but I've made a couple of revisions that make it easier.  I'll share our version later this week... and that Apple Pie!

Thursday : Tessa's Tacos

We've always loved shredded beef tacos at our house, but now we have a new favorite that Tessa shared a couple of weeks ago.  It is called Korean Beef Tacos with a Mango & Cilantro Slaw.  Sooo good. 

Friday : Pizza Night

We go out almost every Friday night - usually to the pool for dinner, or something easy and family friendly. 

Saturday : Parade & Carnival in Lexington

This weekend we're headed back home to Lexington for the Heritage Days Festival!  Emma can't wait to see her cousins and go to Moo-Moo's Carnival.

Just writing this post and planning our week has eased my heartache just a little from this morning.  I'm planning to spend the rest of the morning finishing packaging products for the big unveiling of the new Fall Collection and organizing the new craft station I made out of cabinetry this weekend - can't wait to share photos later this week. 

Happy Monday,