Monday, September 30, 2013

31 Days of What Is

I'm joining up with The Nester and many other blog and posting every day for 31 days on a specific topic.

31 Days of doing, living, knowing, sharing and believing WHAT IS.

This will be a truthful look at life and the many moments worth celebrating each day.

This will be a chance for me to focus on fully engage in what is really going on in our lives and not look at things with a mindset that is constantly in fast forward-planning and worrying about things to come; or in rewind- replaying memories from past experiences.

It is a challenge to myself to live more fully in the moment and open my eyes and thoughts to today's gifts.
Today's lessons.
Today's memories.

It will also be a challenge to post every day and reflect on what really is important each day.

I'm looking forward to learning more about myself, the many blessings I receive daily and living more in the moment.

I'll update this page with each day's post in the 31 Days Challenge.

Happy October. Here we go....

Day 1: What Isn't

Day 2: Home Tour, Anniversary, What our home is....

Day 3: Lizzy 18 months and what it is

Day 4: What is day by day

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Grace will be there {printable}

Thank goodness for BooMama.

In a fun rambling post tonight she shared this post from Robin.

What a precious reminder that GRACE WILL BE THERE. So often we let our minds run on and on with what-ifs and maybes that we forget to remember that God's Grace will be with us as well.

Well said, Robin.

Here's a printable for you, per BooMama's request. :)

Click here to download and print

and some other options for your liking...

click here to download and print

click here to download and print

click here to download and print

click here to download and print

Pin Away.

Menu Monday {4}

Technically, it's Tuesday.

We've been in and out of town over the last few weeks and tonight's dinner was 2 different drive thrus (2 different vehicles)....we have lots going on this week, and Lizzy is up and down tonight which makes me think we may be visiting out favorite pediatrician during walk-in hour in the moring--but I still have to sit down and figure out dinner, so here we go!

Taco Tuesday! We just need a basic taco night tonight.
Lasagna from the freezer (factoring this in just in case Liz is sick)
Big salads (chicken, egg, nuts, bacon, kitchen sink, etc.)
Arroz con Pollo (which is Chicken and Rice) this is a new one from a new cookbook I picked up a few weeks ago....if it's good I'll be sure to share. I have high hopes!

That's our week!! Time to get cooking!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five on Friday

1. I'm hosting two fun parties over the next month and have officially started gearing up! One is a baby shower for sweet Kimber and the other is a fall party that will be SO fun for the kids and a great day for moms.

Thankfully, the trees have gotten on board and started dropping some leaves this week.

2. I scheduled the kids pictures with the oh-so-talented ImagesbyNaomi just a few days after she updated her website. I am just LOVING the models she chose (click on Featured: Naomi's Favorites).

(and loving that folks I don't know have a peek inside my bathroom! Ha!!)

(Also, that photo of Jay was taken while he was laying in the floor of our garage ((IN HIS CHURCH CLOTHES!!)) refusing to have his picture made. Because she is a great photographer and never gives up, Miriam captured the essence of my boy at two-and-a-half)

3. We've started going to Wednesday night church and I am co-teaching the 3 year olds. Pray that God gives me whatever it is I need to help teach 12 or so preschoolers about His love for them. Pray that they will have fun and learn some Jesus from me!

4. There's nothing like being in charge of a room full of 3 year olds to tell you "YOUR THREE YEAR OLD IS TOTALLY NORMAL." For better or for worse this is a fun age and it seems to be universal.

5. I've been on a serious canning kick in case you missed it. I will try to post a "What-I've-Learned-So-Far" post next week, because I have learned a great many things starting this new hobby.

Thanks for stopping in for Five on Friday! This is a fun link up!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I think I can....

So, if you follow me on instagram you're aware of my new hobby.

Canning has become a creative outlet for me.

I have fallen hard for mason jars. The Ball Blue Book is a page turner for me these days.

I spent last Friday night driving to 4 grocery stores in search of a watermelon with a thick enough rind to use for watermelon rind pickles. (Who knew we have all but eliminated watermelon rind?)

So far I've made
4 pints of Fig Preserves (Our very own figs from our very own tree in our very own yard!)
11 pints of Apple Butter (with apples from the Oswalt's farm)
9 half-pints of Muscadine Jelly (with Miuscadines from Dede and Papa's)
5 pints of Watermelon Rind Pickles

I just LOVE it. and last weekend when I was a Target I noticed this...., I must not be the only one who has rediscovered canning and preserving and am trying it out.

Everything about it reminds me of my grandparents. I can remember sitting on Grandmommy and Grandaddy's patio helping to shuck and silk corn to put up and breaking bags and bags and bags of beans with my mom, aunts and cousins.

I remember Gaga sharing preserves and jellies on his famous Gaga bread that folks would like up for. I can remember sharing biscuits and jelly with Nanny and Gaga on their deck the morning of my wedding because I just stopped by before going to the church.

Inside those jars are sweet memories.

I understand now why they didn't seem to mind all of the work that went into making jars of jellies, pints of corn, loaves of bread. The satisfaction that comes with taking one thing and creating something that you can keep or share is wonderful. I can only imagine that it's simlar for artists or crafters, this medium is just a delicious one and the studio starts in the field and ends in the kitchen.

and let me say this- I am NOT what you would ever describe as a perfectionist. I am have ZERO OCD-tendencies. I sometimes wish I did, but oh well.

But I can do this and you can, too! I thought it would be too hard or tedious or impossible to do with toddlers, but I was wrong.

I'm learning as I go and careful to follow instructions, but I love it.

Here's to sweet memories and many, many delicious biscuits for breakfast.

Weekend Breakfast: Chocolate Monkey Bread

A few Saturdays ago, I baked up a treat for breakfast and I am so glad I did!

We had several "drop in" visitors that day and it was so great to have some of the leftovers from this sweet treat to snack on all day long.

I also made it Labor Day weekend and it was another all day hit.

I came up with my Monkey Bread on the fly. I guess I should explain my methodology here. I read recipes all the time, but very rarely actually follow a recipe while cooking. I'll come across something that sounds good, read the recipe then store it on a mental shelf.

Then I usually pick up some needed ingredients along the way, and throw together my version. It's always based off of an actual recipe, but not terribly scientific. It works for me 99% of the time. I will refer directly to a recipe if it's a technique I've never tried before and of course when baking, because that's like science.

All of that to say, I read a few Chocolate Monkey Bread recipes. If you're looking for one, this looks like a good one and Shay's recipes seem to be easy to follow.

I read this one, among others....but what I actually did was

Preheated to 350 and sprayed my bundt pan.
Opened 3 cans of fridge biscuits, cut each biscuit into quarters. (I used Grands Flaky Layers Original) (why there are so many types of canned biscuits just boggles my mind)
Metled 2 sticks of better
Dipped each is biscuit piece in butter
Then dredged it in one large box of chocolate pudding powder (not prepared)
Randomly stacked the pieces and added a few layers of milk chocolate chips
Poured the remaining melted butter over that bad boy and baked for 28-30 minutes.

Y'all it was awesome for breakfast. Again at 10, 12, and 2...and for a midnight snack, too.

I would definitely take this to a tailgate, or any sort of all day function.

Saturdays may officially become Monkey Bread Monings at our house!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Menu Monday {3}

There's a special day on my calendar this week!
Not a birthday or an anniversary or anything sweet like that...

That's what we're having Wednesday night. Cheddar Cheese and ketchup for the kiddies and Bacon and Bleu Cheese for mom and dad.

So, there's my tip for the week. Don't make burger night a boring's and easy meal so it's easy to let yourself get stuck.Dress up those burgers just like you'd order them out and picky eaters of all kinds can be pleased on burger night.

The rest of the week will look like this...

Lasagna (I used my regular recipe, but made it in three 8x8 pans and froze two)
Salmon, Veggies, Salad
Chili cups, Salad
Bleu Cheese BT's (that's just like a BLT, minus the "L", plus bleu cheese, and a dash of balsamic vinagrette--regular grilled cheese for the kids)

and that's our week!

What's cooking at your house?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Labor Day at the Farm

We had another fun weekend with the family at the Hunting Club over Labor Day weekend.

We drove down on Saturday and spent the night with the Oswalt Family at their farm at the Hunting Club.

Clearly the kids were having fun. I think this was a dance party followed by some air mattress belly flop (which I am sure Lizzy perfected over the weekend)?

We all had a good time, got a little dirty and enjoyed the fresh air.

Jay and Daddy rode around on the Ranger doing hunting chores and Lizzy and I hung around the house. Sunday we went for a little walk with Leigh Ann and Alleigh and sweet Lizzy was so tired she fell asleep while sitting up on my shoulders.

We made s'mores Saturday night after the Alabama game and Jay pretty much talks about them every single day.

We picked lots of apples, and our little family worked together on Monday and made 22 jars of apple butter!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Gulf Coast Getaway

Oh, how we love the Gulf Coast in the fall!

We took a quick trip this weekend with the kids had so much fun!

(AND I remembered to take pictures!)

Fun in the pool, the first boat ride for both kids (Thanks Brad, Ashley and Lacy!!), some sand-castling and even a few touristy moments!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Menu Monday {2}

Week 2 of Menu Monday has arrived!

If you missed week 1 or are wondering why I am doing this click here.

I guess I should also mention how I menu plan. Every week I try to:

1. Prepare 5-7 dinners at home that my family (me, the hubby a 3 year old and perhaps the pickiest 17 month old on the planet) will enjoy
2. Balance a variety of protein (chicken, beef, venison, fish, pork) entrees throughout the week
3. Introduce new recipes/techniques/foods for the kids' benefit
4. Cook relatively quick meals, simply, in order to maintain my sanity
5. Remain flexible to the fact that "life happens" and sometimes we abandon the plan and go out, drive thru or do whatever is needed to feed everyone at dinnertime. 

I'll be sharing my menu plans here every Monday and will try to include recipes here as well. From time to time I'll try new things that don't work for our family and I will be sure to share that as well.

Now, on to the menu-

Traditional Tacos (Taco Kit prepared with Ground Chicken)
Pepper Steak
Pork Chops, Roasted Cabbage, Biscuits and Apple Butter
Salmon and Salad
Burgers, Baby
Apple BBQ Chicken (Mix N Match Mama)
Stuffed Peppers

This week's Stuffed Pepper night is super simple because the last time I made stuffed peppers, I froze half of the filling. The filling I make is just like my Mom's and could probably fill 12-15 peppers. Here's the scoop--

Stuffed Peppers
1 pound ground beef
1 grated onion
1/2-1 tsp garlic salt (or to taste)
2 T Worcestershire
1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can sweet corn partially drained
1 pkg Yellow Rice prepared according to package directions
Velveeta to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
Bell Peppers (any color) 

In a large (8-10 quart) pot, brown beef (I use lean), add onion, garlic salt, Worcestershire. Cook over medium heat to soften onion and crumble meat. Add tomatoes, corn, rice, simmer on medium-low 30 minutes or more, stirring often. While simmering and stirring use wooden spoon or spatula to burst tomatoes and mash them up a bit. Add Velveeta, salt and pepper to taste. Heat through.

Cut bell peppers in half and remove stem and seeds. You'll want to remove most of the inner membrane too, as it will be in your way while stuffing.

Place pepper halves in a casserole or baking dish, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes while filling cools.

Remove peppers from oven and spoon filling onto pepper halves. (I would leave them in the casserole dish and not try to handle them). Top with a thin slice of Velveeta and 1-2 tablespoons of tomato sauce or Dressed Up Ketchup (recipe follows) bake uncovered at 350 for 30-45 minutes.

Dressed Up Ketchup
I use this as the "sauce" for my stuffed peppers, topping for meatloaf and base for cocktail sauce.

Ketchup (approx. 1/2 cup)
Worcestershire (approx. 2 tsp)
Garlic Salt (approx. 1/2 tsp)
Black Pepper (A few grinds)

Whisk the above ingredients in a bowl. Tinker with it until you get the taste that pleases you. For cocktail sauce squeeze half a lemon over the bowl and spoon in ground horseradish to taste.

That's what we're having this week. Share with us what's on your menu by commenting below, we couls all use all of the inspiration we can get!

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Thursday, September 5, 2013


I was recently asked what gift I gave to the kids Sunday School teachers when I shared this teacher gift tag.


I'm not sure how I forgot to share this, because it is SO awesome. Thankfully, the folks at Duncan Hines remembered when they printed it on the side of the box, which is where I stumbled across this little gem.

If you need to give happiness or comfort to someone in the form of CAKE. This is it.

(I also said the same about this Mocha Cake a few months ago, both are stellar.)

(A girl can never have too many easy, knock-your-socks-off cakes in her arsenal, right?)

Okay, the recipe....1 pkg Duncan Hines Signature Strawberry Supreme Cake Mix
1 (3.4 oz) vanilla instant pudding
4 large eggs
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat to 350, grease and flour 10 inch bundt pan.***

Combine cake mix, pudding, eggs, water and oil. Beat at low speed until moistened, switch to medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in chips, pour into prepped pan.

Bake 55-60 minutes or until a toothipick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 25 minutes then transfer to wire cooling rack. Cool completely.

***I made this in small loaf pans for gift for our Sunday School teachers. I baked them for about 30 minutes, just keeping an eye on them. They make perfect gifts when baked this size!***

(I attached the printable teacher gift tags I posted in this post.)

For the frosting- I used ready made cream cheese frosting, heated for 20 seconds per label instructions and drizzled over the tops of my small cakes and the larger bundt when I've made that size. The original recipe calls for ready made butter cream, which I am sure is also tasty.


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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Happy Heart

A happy heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. -Proverbs 17:22

Because meditating on a few ancient words from the lips of God will do more for me, today, than any parenting book ever written.

Teaching and learning is the constant cycle at our house. All day I'm teaching, teaching, teaching these little ones.

Don't run around with a mouthful of Skittles, you'll get choked. 

It's easier to take your socks off if you are sitting down.

We don't touch the garbage can. 

Don't drink bath water.

Say you're sorry.

Let's pray.

In this role as parent its easy to see yourself as a teacher, perhaps even one who knows everything and has all of the answers. Then your child turns 2 or becomes more independent or refuses to say sorry or just can't help himself from hurting others no matter what you have tried to teach him.

You realize you don't have all of the answers, in fact, by the time bedtime finally draws near you feel like you have no answers. Everything is a challenge, a battle, a test, a problem.

Then Hallelujah!
Its bedtime, he sleeps and you can prepare to get up and do it all again tomorrow.

We're in an interesting time with Jay. He is so sweet and loving, so thoughtful and well spoken. But then, out of nowhere some of the darnedest things come out of his sweet mouth and Joseph and I just look at each other, stunned.

I know we aren't the only parents who are going through this phase. I pray it is short lived for us and that he only acts out in this way in front of us and not in front of others.

We have been thinking that he simply does it for the reaction he gets, so we're being proactive by trying to give him lots of positive attention in the hopes that he will not seek out negative attention. But, he is in fact three and logic does not necessarily apply when you are three.

God showed me these words in Proverbs one recent morning and with all 5 members of this household being sick (yes, even the dog kept us up the night before) this verse stuck with me as I managed to pray and read a bit while following Lizzy toddle around the house and cooking breakfast.

I'm so thankful God speaks to us the words we need to hear.

I'm thankful that I could share these words with Jay that morning and Joseph and I can think about this message as we combat some of the surprises, challenges and frustrations life can throw at us.

A happy heart is good medicine.


We have much to be happy about. Its our job to reflect God's love and the joy that comes with it to others.

Even when it's hard. Even when I don't have any of the answers. Even when my job so clearly is not teaching, but learning.

A happy heart is good medicine.

I've been using this verse for weeks now. Repeating to myself. Speaking it to Jay. Explaining that happy words come from happy hearts. Happy hearts like to make others' hearts happy. Happy hearts make smiles and fun.

The night before his first day back at school I dug a heart shaped foam sticker out of our craft supplies and sharpi-ed a happy face onto it. Before bed, I showed that "happy heart" to Jay and together we put it on the inside of his lunchbox. We talked about it again in the morning in carpool .

Just this evening Joseph told me that he heard Jay telling his grandmother about his happy heart in his lunchbox. It was so good to hear that he was talking about it.

Today's Build 'Em Up topic is Creative Correction. At our house we use time-out for Jay and set a timer. It is effective in that it gives him a chance to think and us a chance to calmly discuss inappropriate behavior and sincere apologies. It isn't creative, but it gets the job done.

My only other "tactic" is what I've referred to as "filling in the blanks with Jesus". If we have time throughout the day where the kids are just playing around the house-I press play on their kids' worship cd. If we're reading books or just pulling them all off of the shelf, I will pick our Bible or one of our new prayer or devotional books or the Jesus Calling Storybook version and read a short story from it.

A happy heart is good medicine.

If we are having a particularly grumpy, ill-tempered, testing-the-boundaries kind of day I am reminded of this verse and try to turn it around by making sure my joy is visible and tangible. I will openly discuss things we are happy about and thankful for. A distraction of attitude if you will. What I'm learning is that this type of distraction is what we are called to do daily-whether we are adults or little adults in training. 



It doesn't always keep bad behavior at bay, but it's been a simple way to remind a three year old (and thirty three year old) about being the person God has called us to be and changing our hearts to reflect love and joy rather than becoming mired in frustration and what isn't going our way.

A happy heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. 

I've linked up with the Build 'Em Up Series today and want to say thank you for stopping by and sharing your stories. I'm praying you are encouraged and lifted up daily by the wonderful work of raising little people. While we know it isn't easy it is important to show our children the joy we want them to know through Christ. Its vital that we change our hearts when necessary to reflect God's love, joy and peace to our children. I'm praying for you and that your love, joy and peace shine brightly, in all ways, at all times. 

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Menu Monday {1}

I have a bit of a weekly routine.

Every Sunday night, after everyone is asleep I sit at my kitchen island/table/counter with a notebook, my calendar, iPad and a few cookbooks and start my weekly grocery list.

Then I usually hold my forehead in my hands and say, "what do we eat..what do we eat" over and over. Its like I get some sort of meal-planning amnesia. 

So, I'm going to start sharing my weekly meal plans here for easy reference. Maybe by sharing them I'll be inspired to keep it lively and avoid the fall dinner rut of chili, spaghetti, tacos, repeat.

I do think its important to sit down and think about what you're planning to cook. Hopefully it makes grocery shopping more efficient. It will not guarantee that you don't have to go back to the store three times this week for forgotten ingredients like sesame seeds or failing to realize that you're down to your last drop of dishwashing detergent.

I also don't plan according to sale ads. I know some people do, but I don't. My sanity can only carry me so far and coupon clipping and planning around BOGO items is simply too much to ask at this point.

(I will say that I will stock up on things we use regularly when I notice them on sale at the store, but it always a coinkydink when that happens.)

Okay, on to the menu--

Dinners this week-
Crock Pot Chicken (recipe follows)
Stuffed Peppers
Crock Pot Sesame Chicken
Salisbury Steak

I talked dinners and menus and all things family food with a friend over the weekend and shared with her my "Crock Pot Chicken Recipe". I say this because Karla taught it to me long ago and I don't actually have a recipe nor do I know the actual name of this dish. I do know that everyone in my house eats it and Joseph knows what I mean when I tell him we're having "Crock Pot Chicken" for dinner.

Here's what you do-

Crock Pot Chicken
Place 1-2 pounds of chicken breast (boneless-skinless) in the crock pot on low. Add one packet of dry Italian seasoning and maybe 1/4 cup of water. Cook on low 6-8 hours. I flip the chicken after a few hours if I am home. 

30 minutes before dinner add a block (8 ounce package) of cream cheese (regular or 1/3 less fat whichever you prefer) and let cook for 10-15 more minutes. Then stir contents of Crock Pot to mix the cream cheese and juices together and break apart your chicken. Switch Crock Pot to Low. Meanwhile, cook 1/2 to full package of egg noodles depending on the size of your family. (I cook half for 2 adults and 2 toddlers.) Drain noodles. Plate noodles and spoon chicken and sauce from crock pot over noodles. Serve with a green salad, fruit, or your family's favorite veggies. 

Its a winner. Also while talking with my friend I attempted to compare meatloafing techniques and she informed me she'd never made a meatloaf. My jaw dropped. 

She then suggested that I start sharing our weekly dinners since we could all benefit from sharing ideas and inspiration with each other. So, here we go...Menu Monday Week #1 in the books!

What's on your menu this week? Share what you're bringing to the table by leaving a comment below.

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