Thursday, December 30, 2010

Baked Ziti, Using Cards as Scrapbook Embellishments, Bare Minimum Cleaning

Got home after midnight last night, but had a wonderful time catching up with my DH's mom, sister and brother.  Drove DS to spend the night with his best friend who moved 150 miles away last summer.  This is their third time to have a sleepover since they moved in August.  I am so glad that his mom is as committed as I am that our boys maintain their friendship.  She is one of my favorite cropping buddies and a great friend, and a few miles is not too far to go for friends like that!  On the way home, DD and I had some time to enjoy music together, talk, and go out for lunch.  We did a little shopping when we got back in town, rented some DVD's, and called DH to bring home some takeout.  I hardly hit a lick of housework today, but the connections I made and helped my children make are far more important than having a clean house!  (Note:  I am not suggesting you should never clean house again, or cook a meal; but sometimes, it's okay to make other things a priority.  Sometimes, you have to make other things a priority, or those connections will be lost.)  I am guessing only minimal housework will be done tomorrow, too, because I will be again driving 3 hours to pick up DS, plus spending an hour or so catching up with his friend's mom, then we will be spending New Year's Eve with an old friend from high school days and her family.  The housework will still be there Saturday morning!  I hope you are taking time to maintain connections with family and friends this week.  It's all about balance!  The recipe below is what I took to my mother-in-law's house for dinner last night.
Recipe:  Baked Ziti  Cook a 16 oz. pkg of ziti, penne or rigatoni according to package directions.  Drain, but do not rinse.  While pasta is still hot, add a 15 oz. carton low fat ricotta cheese, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, 1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and  1 tsp. Mrs. Dash Garlic Herb Seasoning (you can substitute garlic powder, salt, pepper and dried basil.  Stir until cheeses are throroughly mixed into pasta.  This will look melty and delicious, but we're not done!  Pour 1/4 of a large jar of pasta sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.  Spread pasta and cheese mixture in pan, cover with remaining pasta sauce.  Top with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, and sprinkle on 1/8 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.  Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and continue baking for another ten minutes or until bubbly.  Feeds 6-8 if served with salad and bread.
Scrapbooking Tip:  Recycling handmade cards  If you make handmade cards (or if you have a talented sister who does, like I do!) they make wonderful scrapbook page accents.  I save all the cards my dear sis sends us, cut off the front and coordinate my paper and other embellishments to her design.  I often use the inside message as well to make the page even more personal.  Instant pizzazz, and a piece of Aunt Ginny on our pages, too!
Homemaking Tip:  Bare minimum cleaning  On those days when work, family, friends or just plain LIFE keeps you too busy to do much around the house, just do a twenty or thirty minute sweep through your house.  Make your bed, pick up dirty clothes and put in hamper, unload and reload the dishwasher, start a load of laundry. A little maintenance goes a long way.  You can do the rest tomorrow (or the next day). 
I hope you had time for some meaningful connections with people you love today!  Lisa

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