Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My new "go to" meal

My sister made these crockpot chicken & dumplings when we were at her house for Christmas.  They are delicious, super-easy to make and my kids loved it!  This is definitely going to go in the regular menu rotation and be made for many families with new babies!

Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T. butter
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 onion, finely chopped (or 1/4c. dried minced onions)
bag frozen mixed vegetables (optional)
2 (10oz.) cans refrigerated biscuits, torn into pieces

Place all ingredients except biscuits in crockpot.  Cover with water.  Cook 5-6 hours on high.  30-45 minutes before serving, shred chicken and add torn biscuits.  Cook remaining 30-45 minutes or until biscuits are no longer raw in middle.  Feeds a crowd!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Project Life Tuesday: Week 3

The Mom Creative
{Click on the icon above to visit Jessica's blog and see other Project Life inspiration.}

Another week and I am still behind.  I planned on getting my pictures for the week off my camera and working on these layouts on Sunday afternoon, but life got busy and it just didn't happen (and I watched the last 4 episodes of "Friday Night Lights" on Netflix to finish the series.  So good!).
Here is my layout for week 2 (January 8-15).  I don't have time to do it this week, but next week I am going to put the photos and journaling separate below the spreads so you can actually read it (for all the grandparents reading).

2 down, 50 more to go.

P.S. Thanks for all the input about the background.  Looks like everyone thinks the light gray background works. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: January 23

I actually stuck the menu plan this week and got around to making everything on the list! 

The two new recipes I tried this week were big hits.  One was the Italian tortellini soup which came from one of my favorite all-purpose blogs, Make It Do.  (All-purpose meaning she has great recipes, cleaning tips, activities for kids and sewing ideas, using stuff you already have.)  The second recipe I found on Pinterest: shrimp pasta with pesto cream sauce.  I used fresh shrimp I purchased from Whole Foods when they had shrimp on sale a while back (from our freezer) and homemade basil pesto that I made last summer (also from our freezer).  It was DELISH!

Here is the menu plan for this coming week:

Monday: Baked Pizza Roll & salad for Will and the kids (I have bookclub)

Tuesday: Slow-cooker black bean soup, guacamole/salsa & chips

Wednesday: Leftovers (we have a lot of random things to choose from, but not enough for a meal for everyone ... so, every man, woman and child for themselves!)

Thursday: Pecan crusted salmon, brown/wild rice, steamed broccoli

Friday: Chili night at friend's house

Saturday: dinner out with Will's parents

Sunday: Lunch out with Will's parents, dinner: leftovers again!

Check out Laura's blog for more Menu Plan Monday.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Project Life Tuesday: Week 2

The Mom Creative
{Click on the icon above to visit Jessica's blog and see other Project Life inspiration.}

Here is my layout for week 1.  It took me a little while to get back in the groove of using PSE.  I do love how much easier (and less messy) digital scrapbooking is for me.     

I can't decide what to do about the background color for my layouts. Obviously, if you are doing a traditional album, this is just clear space on your page protector. I am going with this light gray for now because when I put a color on the background, it seems like a little too much. What do you think?

I was hoping to have spreads from week 1 and week 2 finished in time to post, but it just didn't happen.  I will catch up before next week.  

1 down, 51 more to go.

Happy scrapping!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Preschool Corner: Letter F

 Welcome to Letter F week where we learned all about Firemen and Fish!
{David is 3 years, 9 months old}
David hard at work on our Firemen lapbook.  We made the lapbook on the first day and then reviewed it throughout the week.  He really enjoyed it!
Firemen colors.
Firemen shadow matching.
Firemen puzzle (we glued this to the back of our lapbook).
Firemen patterning (and a good view of the entire lapbook).
Watching "Fireman Sam" on Netflix.  Claire (age almost 6) actually liked these videos much better the David did.
The finished product.  I thought this turned out so cute.  He did an excellent job coloring.  I did most of the cutting and helped him with the pasting.
Our shape fire truck turned out really cute too.
I found a tube of plastic firemen at Target for $4.99.  Both of the kids had fun playing with these!
Love this sweet face!  Runny nose and all!
Our F bible verse was John 3:16.  David had absolutely no interest in learning this long verse.  I think he was a little overwhelmed!  We did the activities anyway, so hopefully something stuck!
Bible verse coloring page and other activities below from RRSP.

Reviewing our F vocab words and making our alphabet book page.
Working on the preschool firemen printables from Homeschool Creations.

Somehow, this ended up being the only picture I took of our Fish activities from LOTW.  He always does a great job with the uppercase/lowercase letter sort.
Another photo of the lapbook in action.
Our F board for the week.  My favorite crafts are on the board ... the handprint fishbowl and the handprint firefighters.  How cute are they.  Click on the links for my inspiration (and instructions).

This post is linked up to these great homeschool blogs:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: January 16

The recipes we used from Make 5 Dinners in 1 Hour turned out good last week.  One thing I really like about this meal plan service is that you get 4 menu plans for each month at the beginning of the month.  So you can pull from other weeks if you don't like something one week or another.  Or mix up the weeks if that is your fancy.

Just as an FYI ... if you see a repeat from the previous week it is most likely that I never made it and I'm just moving to the next week.  I say this because I've had ham & cheese quiche on our menu plan for the last 3 weeks and I've just never gotten around to making it for one reason or another. (I just didn't want anyone to think we eat the same thing every week.)

Monday: Kids' Night at Moe's.  (Will and Claire had a bet to stop biting their nails and Claire won ... so we are eating at Moe's.)

Tuesday: leftover slow cooked baked potato soup, salad

Wednesday: ham & cheese quiche, pumpkin bread [I made the pumpkin bread over the weekend to take with a meal to a family with a new baby (it makes 3 loaves) and it is excellent!]

Thursday: crockpot chicken & dumplings

Saturday: breakfast - chocolate chip pancakes (I add 1/2c. chocolate chips to this recipe) and pumpkin pancakes (we did not eat these last week); dinner - shrimp pasta with pesto cream sauce, garlic bread

Sunday: Leftovers!!

Check out Laura's blog for more Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sew What? Edition: it's been a while ...

Will granted me a reprieve from the house one Saturday and I was able to get some "sewing" done on my mom's embroidery machine.  I'll be sharing some good clothing bargain ideas too in this post.

This outfit came from Lolly Wolly Doodle.  They are a flash sale site on Facebook.  I think this outfit was $34.  That is a steal for this high quality tee and cute ruffle pants.  Even though I could easily make these pants, nice fabric would probably cost $12-$15, plus my time to make them (which doesn't come cheap).  This was a Christmas gift for my niece.  

A close up of the stitching on the "e".  This applique came from here.  Lolly Wolly Doodle will add monogramming to their shirts for $5, but I wanted to let my sister choose this one so I did it myself.  (Plus, I didn't want to spend $5 for a single letter ... but for a name or applique, it is totally worth it.)

Here is my cute niece wearing her outfit to school for "red" day.

I did a similar "c" on a shirt for Claire.  This is a nice thick tee that I purchased wholesale from a friend ($4) and a pair of Castles & Crowns pants that I purchased at Zulily (another flash deal site) for $15.  (These would normally run $30.)  You can sign-up for daily emails from Zulily by clicking on this link (and I will receive a $15 credit).  

{On a side note, Zulily has tons of great products from kids and moms ... everything from books, games, clothing, educational products, maternity clothing, shoes, etc..} 

I purchased these two rompers from a friend for $8 each.  They are lined corduroy from Castles & Crowns.  She had her son's initials monogrammed on them.  I covered the monograms with a patch and put Luke's initials on them.  (Also, the brown and green paired with a red turtleneck was a super-cute Christmas outfit for him.) 

I love cute playclothes!  I bought these pants for Claire on clearance at Target for $2.50 each.  The tees were on sale at Target for $5 each.  I added the monograms/initials.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Super Simple Side

I made these yummy roasted sweet potatoes tonight for dinner.  Will had seconds and thirds.  And he does not really like sweet potatoes (unless they are mixed with lots of sugar and butter in casserole form). 
Here is the recipe.

5-6 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 pkg. onion dip mix
1/3c. olive oil

Mix all ingredients until potatoes are well coated.  Spread on baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 40-50 minutes.

2011 Reading List

I started my booklist for 2011 here.  This is the rest of my reading list for the year. I read a lot more this year than I did last year.

I think that is due to my Kindle. (It could also be that I am really tired and like to get in bed early just to "chill" and end up reading a lot.) I also think it is because I've found some good stuff to read this year. Last year I was kind of on a bad roll of reading several long, slow, boring books and kind of lost interest.

Maximum Faith by George Barna: We read this book in our class at church.  While the book itself is not an exciting read, the premise, the ten steps along our lifelong faith journey, is a very interesting one (and accurate I believe).

Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews:  This book is still in progress.  I lost interest about half-way through.  I'm usually a big fan of Andrews and quickly read her funny books, but this one just didn't do it for me.  I like it enough to try and finish it but I'll certainly put it down to read something else.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand:  It literally took me all year to read this book, but it was totally worth it.  I started it in January upon the recommendation of my sunday school teacher and many others.  It is a long book and after prison camp, after prison camp, after prison camp, I kind of got bogged down.  When I picked it back up to finish in November, it did not disappoint!  An excellent read for sure.

The Hunger Games, Girl on Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins:  This trilogy was a fun easy read.  And I'm not sure how I am going to make it until March to see the first movie.  The trailer looks excellent.  We read the first book for bookclub and then I very quickly read the next two books.  My hubby read them too.  The third book was a little slow for me and the ending of the series was a little disappointing and unbelievable, but overall, I give the series a big thumbs-up.

Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell:  I picked this book up on a whim and read it quickly.  It is an interesting tale ... realistic but somewhat gory.  Maybe you saw the movie last year?  I did not.  (On a side note, this is the first Kindle library book I checked out.)

Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo: Another bookclub pick.  I read this book in about 2 hours on the way to an Alabama football game.  Very good.  If you ever doubt that heaven is a real, physical place, you should read this book.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett: I have several of Patchett's books on my "to read" shelf thanks to  This is her newest release so I had to purchase it on my Kindle.  Totally worth it though.  Think big pharmaceutical company, crazy researcher/doctor among natives in Amazon rainforest, and secret drugs.  Interested?  I look forward to reading more of books.

The Paris Wife: A Novel by Paula McLain: I have about 50 pages left of this book.  I checked it out from the library and couldn't get it finished before I had to return it.  (I haven't figured out how to renew Kindle books from the library.  I am back on the waitlist to get it again.)  I love this book.  The period in which it is set (the roaring twenties) and the characters Hemingway and his wife encounter are very interesting.  Although this book is fiction, the lifestyle portrayel is accurate I think for writers and artists in Europe during that time period.  I have picked up other Hemingway books to read, including A Farewell to Arms and The Sun Also Rises.

Vision in White (Book 1 of The Bride Quartet) by Nora Roberts: This book was a easy read.  I've never read Roberts before but she writes a lot.  This book is about 4 BFFs who run a wedding business, each one doing a different part of the business (photography, flowers, etc.).  Each book in the quartet is about how each girl finds their own wedded bliss.  I liked it enough that I want to read the rest of the series, but not enough to run out and buy them, so I am waiting for my turn at the library.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Project Life Tuesday: Week 1

The Mom Creative
One of my goals for this year is to get back to scrapbooking.  I do a decent job of memory-keeping here on the blog, but I love to have books to hold in my hand and look at in person and not on a computer screen.  Plus, I don't necessarily blog about everything I would scrapbook about. 
One of my favorite blogger is Jessica over at The Mom Creative.  I am going to try Project Life this year.  (Project Life is a 365/daily photo project created by Becky Higgins.  You can read all about it here.)  Jessica has a weekly post where she displays her weekly PL layouts and has a linky where other people can do the same.  Accountability works ... or so I like to believe.  I do think this is a good way to stay on top of my scrapbooking for each year. 
I decided to do digital project life and then I will print my 52 spreads (one for each week of the year) in a bound photo book at Shutterfly or Snapfish when they have a good deal going.  I just purchased my digital kit TODAY and got Photoshop Elements loaded onto my laptop.  (It runs super-slow on our desktop, which is why I avoid using it very often.)
Here is my cover page for the album. (I have blurred out our last name.)   

Although I hate to be behind already, since I just started today, I will try to post my layout for week 1 and week 2 next Tuesday. 

We are the Champions!

We had a fun time watching the Crimson Tide bring home another National Championship title last night. 

We were all decked out in our Alabama gear. 

We grilled burgers and dogs before the game.  And had our favorite gameday snack ... buffalo chicken dip with Alabama chips.  (That is what Claire calls Fritos scoops.) 

Game watching would not be complete without tattoos! 

The kids also needed the hats and shakers.   

David and Will watching the game. 

My big kids and me.  Luke went to bed before the game started but we let the big kids stay up as long as they wanted.  They started fading around 9:30 and we put them to bed.   

I'll spare you any commentary on the game.  I've heard enough to last me a lifetime.  The important thing is that Alabama brought home a WIN!  ROLL TIDE!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: January 9

Well, it was so nice to be back to a regular routine this week.  I even stayed on our meal-plan schedule.  The quiche and pumpkin bread will carry over from last week because we had a ton of leftovers so we ate those on Friday night.  (We ate 4 meals off the enchiladas.  I highly recommend splitting them into two pans and freezing one for later.) 

Most of my recipes this week come from Make 5 Dinners in 1 Hour.  This is a meal planning service that I joined several months ago.  I've used a few recipes here and there, but I haven't really stuck to the plan and the whole premise of the meal plan, which is to make 5 meals at one time and then just pull them out and cook them each night (with all of the prep work already done).  I did do this for one week using Michelle's sample menu before I joined and I liked it a lot.  I just never could get my act together to both shop and prepare the meals on Sunday and then have them to use for the rest of the week.  I hope to be better at this now that we are done with the holidays!  Even if you don't prep the meals ahead of time, the recipes are still fairly simple to prepare if you just want to cook as you go through the week.  (The cost of the service is $5/month and includes a grocery list and ideas to lighten the dishes if you so desire.)

Monday: Hamburgers, hot dogs, tater tots and sweet potato fries.  We are having game day food in honor of the big game on Monday night.

Tuesday: slow cooker fiesta chicken bowls, Spanish rice

Wednesday: leftovers from Monday night (we have to eat quick due to church)

Thursday: Teriyaki beef, rice, snap peas

Friday: slow cooked baked potato soup, salad

Saturday: breakfast - chocolate chip pancakes (I add 1/2c. chocolate chips to this recipe) and pumpkin pancakes; dinner - glazed pork chops, broccoli, roasted red potatoes

Sunday: lunch-ham & cheese quiche, pumpkin bread; dinner - leftovers

Check out Laura's blog for more Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Preschool Corner: Letter D (Dinosaurs and Dora the Explorer)

Our Letter D week revolved around Dinosaurs and Dora the Explorer.  Fantastico!  (Let's just say I've seen a few too many Dora episodes.)

{David is 3 years, 8 months old.}

We did a dinosaur on our Melissa & Doug sort/snap color match puzzle.

We made a Dora Tot Book at the beginning of the week and used it to review our colors, shapes and numbers throughout the week.

We also worked on our bible verse from RRSP.  Our D verse was "Do all things without complaining or disputing."  (My 5 year old really needs to learn this too!)

Our cut & tape bible verse activity.  It wraps around his head!

Our bible craft ... learning how to respond without complaining or disputing.  (I'm hopeful it sticks!)

Reviewing our letter D vocabulary words.  We are finally holding our pencil sort of correctly.  (In his defense, this is exactly how I hold a pencil with 2 fingers on top.)

A close up of the pencil grip. 

Working on some of our Dinosaur activities from our LOTW curriculum.

We tried out a new alphabet maze you can find here.  We used beads to mark our path through the maze (on the letter D).  And then we colored the letter D boxes.  

Donut and duck dot painting from here.

We made these shape dinosaurs that I found here and then decorated their background.


More dinosaur activities from LOTW.

Making a playdough D ... and being silly with the playdough.  Playdough pages came from here.

Dinosaur dot-to-dot that I found here.

Dinosaur coloring page from LOTW.

David's coloring is SO MUCH IMPROVED.  I have to document his first time really staying in the lines.

He loves reading his easy reader from RRSP

The dinosaur dig was a hit!  I added dried pasta, beans and some small plastic dinosaurs they sell in a tube at Target for $4.99.  He played with this for a long time!

Dinosaur fossil craft.  I got the idea here.  And happened to have all the appropriate pasta pieces in our pantry.  Yeah me!!

Letter D poke page.

Dinosaur magnet page.

Dinosaur puzzle.

Dinosaur pattern activity.

We love these alphabet coloring pages.  D is for Dog.

Our project board for the week.

Linked up here: