Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

I'm loving . . .that football is back!  Yes, it is only preseason but it won't be long and it will be real!

I'm loving . . . That the Detroit Lions look great AND that all of the announcers/commentators are actually throwing around the "P" word (Playoff). 

I'm Loving . . . this fantastic weather.  The nights are cool, the days are sunny and comfortable. 

I'm loving  . . . that I found my truck key :-)  I had lost it about 2 weeks ago and was sure it was gone.  Than, on Saturday, when we were driving to the Zoo, I was digging through my purse looking for my sunglasses and there was the key! 

I'm loving . . . that we discovered on Saturday, after owning my husbands old Grand Am (I think it is like a '92 . . or maybe older LOL), since March . . .that it has an automatic starter. Seriously.  It doesn't have Air but he can start it from the house! HA!  Josh was playing with the keys on the table when I heard the car start.  I was SURE someone was stealing our vehicle - talk about being confused!

I'm loving . . . my little family.  We had a fabulous weekend and just enjoyed some wonderful family time. 

What are you loving today?

Setting Goals for your Kids

If you know me at all, you know that I love to set goals.  I take time at the end of every year to think about the following year and write out goals that I hope to accomplish.  I than take time each month to review those goals and make monthly goals in order to accomplish those year goals.  Not to mention my daily to do list that breaks those goals down into bite size pieces.  It is just how I work! 

I recently read a great post over at The Better Mom, a blog I've just recently run across and really am enjoying.  The concept is to set New School Year Resolutions for your kids.  Like the author, I am a back to school junkie too!  I wonder through the aisles of all of the school supplies and wish I could buy it all.  I am always picking up a three ring binder, paper, note books, and PENS!  I love pens and pencils :-)   When I taught school years ago, I loved the feeling of freshness that came with a new year.  All of the new plans, ideas, students - it was so much fun!  The post over at The Better Mom, though, really changed my focus from all of that fun stuff to really focusing on where I want my kids to be by the end of the "school" year.  We are at the very beginning stages of school - Preschool; for 1 (Josh).  Nate will be along for the ride but he really won't start until next year.  Considering the fact that his birthday is so late, I could even push him off one more year. 

Here are our "Back to School Goals" (adapted from The Better Mom)

*SPIRITUAL - How do they need to grow in their Spiritual Life?
This is something that has weighed heavy on my heart and mind for awhile.  Because we attend a smaller church, the kids are in the nursery until they are 4, at least.  They aren't getting any Bible Teacher at church so it is up to us as the parents to ingrain them with Truths.  Our Spiritual goal for our kids this year is to teach them Bible.  Through our weekly Bible lessons, they will be introduced to Bible Verses, Bible Songs, and Bible Stories.  This is some of the basic ground work for future years.

*ACADEMIC - What do they need to learn academically?
Our goal for Josh this year, as he enters preschool, is that by the end of the school year he will know all of his ABC's and 123's.  He will also know how to spell his name.  We would like him to be able to write out his letters as well. He should also know the days of the week and the months of the year by the time we are done in May.   We haven't really set an academic goal for Nate yet - as I said before, he is tagging along on some lessons but I really don't expect him to pick anything up.  He'll get the same lessons next year :-)

LIFE SKILLS - What life skills do they need to develop?
Over the course of this next school year, we would like to see both boys potty trained.  Isn't that a great life skill to have? :-)

RESPONSIBILITIES  - How do they need to grow in responsibility?
Darryl and I have been talking a lot about "chores" and how to set this up for the boys.  Ironically, I recently won a chore chart (I'll show it once I get it :-) ).  Our goal for this next year is to have each of the boys learn specific chores they must do on a daily basis.  Their chores will be fairly simple since they are so young but we want to start instilling this trait more and more. 

SOCIAL - How do they need to develop socially?
One key area that we want both boys to grow in this year is in manners and obedience.  They are at prime ages for both of these concepts.  We know they are starting to get it but we want them to understand it. 

ACTIVITIES - What activities should they do to develop their talents?
Our goals this year are to start Josh with some basic piano introduction lessons in January.  This is something I will teach at this point.  We also want to introduce basic sports skills such as hitting a softball, kicking a soccer ball, and throwing a football.  They are still too young for organized league sports so we will be focusing on all of these areas as a family, at home.

In all honesty, my boys are pretty young for these types of goals but, even at their age, a way for us to focus on where we want them to be 9 months from now is great.  As they get older, the goals will be bigger and more complex.  At that point, we will have long term goals for the year; we will also take those and break them down into short term goals so that we can get everything accomplished. 

Just a little planning can really hope your children (and you!) succeed as you enter a new school year.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Crafty Crafty - Spaghetti Dogs and Rag Quilt Letters

I know it is very hard to believe but I actually accomplished two crafty things!  A "food" craft and a "real" craft!
With Preschool starting here this week, I've started making our Rag Letters.  The inspiration for this idea came from Artsy-Fartsy Mama and is an idea I posted back on May 10, 2011 in a Too Cute Not To Toot post.

Fabric - scraps are fine
Quilt Batting
Template for letters (Check out Artsy-Fartsy Mama - she gives a great template!)

Step 1:  Cut out your template, two fabric squares and one square of batting.  I chose to use the same fabric on front and back of my letter - you could do a pattern on the front/solid on the back also. 

Step 2:  Make a fabric sandwich with the batting in the middle. 
Step 3:  I pined the pattern through all three layers so I could cut all three at once.  It is really important that you have some good fabric scissors.  I thought about using my rotary cutter but, sometimes I cut more than I mean too with that thing!  You could also use pinking shears but I did not have any!

Step 4: As I removed the template, I pinned the letter together to keep it from slipping while I sewed it.

Step 5: Sew!  I did not get any pictures of the actual sewing - it was hard enough to sew with someone trying to "help" me with the foot pedal and thinking it was funny to turn the machine off and on.  HA!  Because these are "rag" letters, I just sewed around the entire letter with about 1/4" seam allowance.  Don't judge my sewing abilities - I'm a novice :-) 

I also made the Letter "A".  I have not washed this yet which will fluff them and give them more of a rag look but for now they will do.  There are two - one for each boy :-)   We will eventually have the entire alphabet but I'm making about a letter a week right now.

Thanks to my mom and a small stash of my own, I have lots of fabric to use so this project is relatively inexpensive. 

This would also make a great "Search and Find" game too - give the kids a list of items to find and they can search through all of the letters to find them (like a blue train, a football, a red ball, etc"

Now, my second attempt this last week was with food.  You may remember a Too Cute Not To Toot from July 26th when I shared an idea from Simply Designing for Hot Dog Pasta.  Well, I tried it this week.  It is actually a very simple kids lunch idea.

First, cut up a hot dog (I used two) into small rounds.  Grab a handful of spaghetti noodles.  I actually broke mine in half so they would fit in my cooking pot :-)

Spear the hot dogs with the noodles.  For the most part, I put 3-5 noddles through each hot dog.  Once the water is boiling for the pasta, throw everything into the pot.  I did put all of those extra noodles in too to make sure there was enough for all the boys.  Cook - I would actually cook these a little longer than normal.  I discovered that the pasta going through the hot dog was still a little undone when the boys started eating.

This is the finished product.  Doesn't it look cool? 

Now, I was a little worried about this because my 2 year old believes that hot dogs are sacred perfect the way they are . . and I was right!  He did NOT like noodles coming out of his hot dog.  Much to my surprise, neither did my 1 year old!  When I put this on the table I was greeted with things "Mama, tot dog stuck, tot dog stuck"  and "Out, get it out! Out, get it out!" So I actually had to break the hot dog pieces apart and pull out all of the noodles HA!  They both ate all of the noodles and dogs - just not together :-)  Oh well, it was fun to try! 

Too Cute Not To Toot!

Hello and Welcome to another week of Too Cute Not To Toot!  I really do enjoy searching through blogs and "Linky Parties" to find great ideas for crafts and recipes.  If you see an idea you like, please take time to click the link and check out the blog it came from AND while you are there, check out other posts from the blog as well.  It is a great way to find another blog to follow :-)

Lets start out with a snack.  An after school snack to be specific.  When I saw this idea over at Dukes and Duchesses, I thought it was the cutest idea.  We are studying the ABC's this year, so I'm thinking I need to get some of those sprinkles and we'll have to do this for snack some time this year.
Sometimes it is really good that I am so slow at making projects because I just found a much easier and less time consuming idea to make a growth chart AND it looks super cute.  Check out the tutorial over at Family Every After. 

Personally I think that even a laundry room should be cute.  After wall, we do spend a lot of time in that area getting clothes in and out of the hamper . . .washer . . .dryer.  I saw this cute sign over at A Fish Who Likes Flowers and wanted to post it so I would remember it!  (Disclaimer - she does use some colorful language in her post . . just warning you . . .)
This bowl made by Elisabeth andree is truly amazing.  Not sure I would ever make this but it was just too unique not to share.
Ok, I'll be honest, when I first saw the picture of this item, I thought "I have to post that because it looks gross" LOL  THAN I opened the post and read it and thought "Wow, that is such a good idea - it is going on my snack list for next summer (when my kids are both old enough to hold the wedge of fruit/Jell-O themselves!) Don't judge by the picture, make sure and check out Green Acres Hobby Farm.
Here's a great recipe for Kool-Aid Play dough from No Ordinary Moments.  Such an easy idea that gives so many hours of play!
This Indoor No-Sew Hopscotch mat would make a great activity to use on a rainy day or a snow day!  Super easy to make too! See the full tutorial over at Sewing Dork.
I love these Alphabet Action cards from Stay and Play - I think might have to print them and add them to our weekly lessons.  :-)
I think I just found a new site to add to my teaching sites!  I love this Letter Pattern Idea also form Stay and Play!
Check out this cool Marble Maze from Shyness and Bloom.  I think we are a few years away from this idea but it is still pretty awesome!

I know I posted this idea many months ago but with Grandparents day coming in September, I thought I would post another version in case you were looking for ideas.  I will admit that I am not good with all of the "Halmark Holidays" but, this would make a great gift to do at school even and send home :-) Check out the full post at Boy oh Boy oh Boy oh Boy.

I know, I know . .say it isn't so!  Here it is, are you ready?  The first Halloween Craft post!  It was too cute (and easy) to pass up!  Check out this "block head" idea from Craftomaniac.
Ok, back to "this" time of year - how about a great idea for a going away gift for a college student?  I have a friend who took her oldest off to college recently - I thought of her and how sad she is when I saw this idea.  Creation Corner also provided up close pictures of the little notes so you can see the creativity (and not have to write your own!)

Personally, I love big old picture walls because, well, I love pictures!  When I saw this idea for a Family Tree wall over at Digital Scrapbooking Made Easy I had to share!  Not only does she share a great idea for a picture wall, she also shares how to use Contact Paper like Vinyl.  So it is like getting two ideas for one!

This idea for a Popcorn Party from Better Together is so great!  Not only do you get a fun idea but also a few recipes for popcorn too :-) 

That's all for this week!  So many fantastic ideas out there :-)  Now that kids are back in school (or almost back) and the seemingly favorite holidays of many are coming quickly - I'm sure that I will find more and more ideas to share! 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday

It's been awhile since I've actually participated in Muffin Tin Monday.  Not that we haven't been using Muffin Tins on Monday for lunch - we have - but I never get any pictures!  I actually managed to get one so I thought I would link up over at Muffin Tin Mom today!

Today we had Cheese Quesadilla's, Canned Peaches, Chips, Salsa, and a 1/2 of Twinkie.  Both boys get the same thing and it is always fun to see what they go for.  That little hand belongs to Josh - he ate an entire Quesadilla and two servings of Peaches with only one little piece of the Twinkie.  Nate ate all of the salsa (using his finger LOL) a few bites of chips and Quesadilla and all of his Twinkie :-)

I haven't gotten into the little cups and sprinkles but I just read today over at Meet The Dubien's about all of her supplies - what she uses and where she gets it all.  It made me excited to start picking up some fun things to use for lunches . She does "Fun with Food Fridays"  and I kinda like that . .it would be fun to try and tie it in with our preschool lessons each week :-)

I won't promise this post every week but I hope to start participating more for no other reason that I get ideas from the links that are posted!


What to Expect from this Blog

I've mentioned before that as September draws closer, I start to feel like it is the start of a new year.  It is those teaching roots in me that run deep!  This summer, with lots of busy times, I've slacked off a little on creativity with this blog.  At one point during the winter, I had my posts written three weeks in advance which is really nice because it gives time to get pictures and research done.  This summer . . well, some days, I'm writing today's post .. yesterday.  Or so it seems ;-) 

I'm been thinking about what I want to post more about as we enter the fall so I thought I would share what you could expect.  Will this always be set in stone?  Nope.  If I feel the urge to write about something else I will - but at least you have an idea!

Sunday: Mommy Time Posts - I decided to move my Tot Time posts to Sunday so I have time to write about our week, upload pictures and give links through Amazon to anything that we used throughout the week. 

Monday:  I will focus on cleaning, budgeting, parenting, marriage - those tougher (yet often fun) topics.  I tend to have more time on the weekends to write which means I have more time to research for these great topics.

Tuesday:  This is my craft day - I will continue to post my "Too Cute Not to Toot!" posts because, well, I love them.  I will also post any crafts/projects I do myself. 

Wednesday:  "What I'm Loving Wednesdays" will still make a showing.  I find that by mid-week, sometimes, it is easier to look at a class as half empty but focusing on those things I love, it fills that glass right back up!  There will be a second post on Wednesdays - I want to share a devotional post which will normally be based on what God has taught me through the past week in my quiet time. 

Thursday: "What I'm Reading" will move to Thursdays now.  I like to share my latest books that I'm reading so that maybe it will inspire you to read too.  :-)  This will also be my "Series" day.  Sometimes, another blog hosts a series and encourages other bloggers to link up - I will posts these on Thursday (unless the blog requires something different but most of the time the link is open for a week) I will also do any of my own series - for example, I've talked about Flylady before - I'd like to write a series of post more specifically talking about her baby steps for getting organized. 

Friday:  Recipes!  I've been posting my weekly menu as a blog post and I plan to continue that so I would like to post all of the new and fantastic recipes on Friday.  Some weeks there may only be one but other weeks I may have 2 or 3.  They will all appear as separate posts :-)  On the weeks I can, I will also post our weekly Happenings in this House post on Friday.

Saturday:  As long as I'm in Weight Watchers - I will post my weekly WW post which often includes a recipe or snack idea.  I also plan to move my weekly Menu posting to Saturday since our menu week starts on Saturday night. 

My disclaimer is . . .this is not set in stone.  Sometimes I miss days and sometimes I just have a random post, a giveaway post, creative memories, whatever.  Those I'll throw in when I have them :-)


Sunday, August 28, 2011

New Reading Goal

Ok, in July I wrote THIS with my 3rd quarter book goal.  I had decided that I would use the library to get books and guess what?  That did not work for me!  Not having the books sitting by the bed or on the shelf meant that I didn't read anything.  Well, I've read a lot, just not any books related to helping me grow!  Therefore, I'm regrouping and I've picked out a list of books I want to get and read by the end of the year. 

I went in search of some new titles - well at least new to me.  I have a long list of books I'd like to read but these really stood out to me as I searched through a couple of differant sites.  A couple of the books have come recommended by others so I wanted to read them while they are "fresh". 

This is actually a book I started last year when I joined a book club.  I misunderstood the book club schedule and ended up about 6 sessions behind before I realized I was behind (I know, I'm a little slow sometimes!).  It is a thinking book so I need to just put it down and come back to it and that's what I'm doing now.
This book interested me when I first saw it and therefore I want to read it and see what the author's point of view is on the topic of satisifying your deepest desire with God.  Not with food.  This is not a new topic, but a new view on the topic.
This is a brand new book - not even released yet but I am so excited that another blog I follow shared it.  Angie Smith, the author, is married to one of the members of Selah.  I've read her blog previously and she has some great things to say.  I'm looking forward to reading what she has to say.
Have you ever heard of this book?  I hadn't until a friend invited me to a book study.  I was unable to go because they met at a local park - the kids were to play on the playground.  Well, with three little ones 2 and under, I just had to decide not to go - trying to keep track of them all while trying to listen and talk about the book was just not a good fit for me :-(  BUT the book looks awesome.  That same friend did a study on the book for girls and she said it was great.  Many of the conversations I won't need for years but to read about them and prepare is the best, is it not?
I love the theme of this book.  My husband and I feel strongly about raising our childrenr with "vintage values"  I am bothered by how far Christianity has come in the world and I want to raise my boys to respect and understand what God whats of them, even when it is hard to accept.  I'm so looking forward to reading this book!
This is a huge read right now.  So many people I know have read it or are in the middle of it!  I wanted to conquer it now so that I can start the "Happiness Project" in 2012 :-)
Remember this one?  I started it in my summer devotions but had to return it to the library.  I want to pick it back up.  I feel that as I start working on preschool with the kids, that I need to look at my ministry with my boys. 
I don't know anything about either of these books except they were the last two selections in the book club I'm in trying to follow.  (I keep missing the posts about the new books and don't read them until it is weeks later.!)  I'm sure they are good though!
This book, The List, is another one I don't know alot about but, when I read the synopsis on line it struck me as something I would enjoy.  It talks about excepting the things in life and enjoying the beauty that is around us.  I'm such a planner that when things don't go well, I often can't see what was good . .. so I'm hoping this gives me a good perspective!
So this is one I saw, and I don't remember anything about it so you will just have to wait until I read it HA!
FInally, this book, Conversation Peace, deals with how to make better conversation.  I am not a great conversationist and, since getting married, I've gotten worse because my husband IS good at conversation soI rely on him !!  I'm hoping that this book will give me some direction and help me be better in communicating with others!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Weight Watchers Saturday

Well, Hello there :-)  I didn't post last week because I didn't have time and I'm almost out of time today too :-)  I really worked this past week at Tracking.  Everything.  And I mean every single bite.  I did it 100% until Wednesday.  Wednesdays are really long days here - my husband has to go to Chicago every Wednesday so he leaves home at 2:00 AM and gets home around 6:00 PM.  There is always a chance he won't make it home and will have to stay the night so we are kinda always unsure of the day so that it sets it off kilter.  It is amazing how much that little schedule possibility messes with my day and impacts what I do.  I worked to track on Thursday and Friday but didn't get into it 100%.  I'm still struggling to get exercise in daily but at this point, I decided to focus on one main thing and that is tracking. 

So this weeks stats are: (Drum roll please . .. )
I lost . . .5.4 pounds last week :-)  Yep.  That is not a typo.  I know I should just take it and run but there is a disclaimer.  I gained a few pounds when I weighed in last week but considering the fact that the night before I had gone scrapbooking . .. and ate tons of wonderful tasting food (like fried Cauliflower, Frozen Cokes and Peanut M and M's) I wasn't surprised.  So in reality, I was just catching up from last week LOL  It does motivate me, though, to keep tracking!

I'm adding one goal this week - to drink all of the required "water" each day.  As you know if you have read my past posts, I'm not a huge fan of just plain water but I love Crystal Light.  I'd like to drink 16 ounces (that is 2 cups) of water and have the rest be Crystal light.  I feel like if I do that, it will help with some of my little bite snacking during the day.  I even have something to work for . .. my husband misplaced my Flylady Water Bottle several months ago (in his work truck which is now traded in for something new so the bottle is gone . .) so if I can drink the required liqued amount for the next two weeks, every day, I will order a new water bottle.  The water bottles are fabulous because they not only keep your drink ice cold for hours even without ice, they do not sweat.  Not one little bit.  I found I drank a lot more water when I could drink it out of there and it was always cold. 

I will continue to work on Tracking Sun-Fri.  I keep Saturday as my no tracking/free day in order to have a break.  Eventually, when I reach a plateau, I know I'll have to change that but, for now, I'm going to enjoy that freedom!

I found this new snack idea that I tried last week and I loved it - Check This Out:

Find the Jiffy Popcorn at your store that shows the WW points.  I will say that the one I have says 3 points per serving (a serving is 5 cups - at least on the box I have).  Pop your popcorn like normal.  I than emptied out about half of the bag because I was the only one eating it and pour in one package of the SnackWells Chocolate Drizzled Caramel Popcorn. Hold the bag closed and shake.  Alot.  The heat from the popcorn will melt a lot of the chocolate off of the Caramel Popcorn and add more flavor to the other popcorn so you get that sweet/salty combo.  You get just over 5 cups of popcorn (in this case) for 4 points.  Not bad at all!  If you could find the individual serving size popcorn, than you wouldn't have to throw any away :-)


Weekly Menu

Saturday: We are going on a picnic and to the zoo with my in-laws.  I did some searching this week and came up with some great looking picnic foods!  Fresh Mozzarella BLT and Pesto Sandwich, Deviled Eggs, Potato Salad, Fresh Fruit,  Smoked Mozzarella and Penne Salad,  and Congo Bars .  Doesn't that all sound yummy?  (Ummmm . .I'll probably take some cheese and crackers for my kids just in case!)   Once we get home from the zoo - my kids will probably have Mac and Cheese . .. my husband enjoy waiting until they go to bed and than we order subs . . .it's a fun little tradition we are starting and is a great date night :-)

Sunday: Chicken Fried Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Parsley Gravy and Fried Corn.  I also have Crock Pot Pork chops with Stuffing and 4th of July Salad planned for Dinner.

Monday: Baked Penne with Chicken Broccoli and Smoked Mozzarella, Homemade Garlic Bread and Salad

Tuesday: Meatballs with Cream Sauce, Brown Sugar Carrots and Layered Salad

Wednesday: Mini Sausage Quiches, Lemon Poppyseed Bread and Strawberry Cream Puff Cake

Thursday: Left overs or Beef Tips and Noodles

Friday: Dinner out :-)

** Next Friday I'll post any recipes that I find are good enough to share. . .but I also noticed that are several here that I haven't shared that I already KNOW are great so I'll share those too!

Amazon Associate

Recently I became and Amaon Associate.  Doesn't that sound impressive?  All it really means is that I can now link through them and, basically, advertise for them.  I decided to add this feature after reading other homeschooling blogs and seeing the amazon "widget" at the end of their posts featuring various items.  I decided that it would be a great way to share the items we use for preschool and a way to share the books I talk about in my (mostly) weekly "what I'm reading" posts.  One main advertising tool you will start seeing is the "Carousal".  I placed one at the bottom of this post so you can see what it looks like.  Basically, if you see something you are interested in, click on the picture.  You will be re-directed to Amazon.  If you buy it through that link, I will receive credit for that purchase and yes, I will earn some money. 

I am also posting a "My Favorites" Amazon link that appears in the right hand side of the blog.  It is just another way for you to see what I love and maybe, you do to!  Again, if you click through that link and make a purchase, it helps me out.

For now, those are the two key items I've added to the blog.  You may see more items added/taken away as I figure out what is the best way to make this work for everyone.  Personally, I have shopped through Amazon for years and have always been happy with their service so I have no problem becoming an Associate!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Baked Brown Rice and Peas

This meal has become a true family favorite!  One of my favorite recipe blogs is Mel's Kitchen Cafe and she did not let me down!

This recipe is truly the prefect combination of flavors - my husband said it reminded him more of the Bourbon chicken flavor than a true sweet and sour (which made him like it even more!)  The leftovers are even better!  I used peas as the veggie because it was quick and easy but afterwards realized how will it went with the rice - it made it more like a fried rice :-)  As the recipe states - I did actually double the sauce and I was very glad that I did otherwise I wouldn' t have had any sauce to use with my leftover meatballs and rice.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Serves 4-6
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef (you don’t want the beef to be too high in fat because the fat will all pool at the bottom of the baking dish after baking – big time grody-ness in my book)
3/4 cup quick oats
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Form into about 12 balls, each about 2 inches in diameter. Place in a casserole dish. Cover with sauce (below). Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Serve over rice.

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard
1/4 cup barbeque sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Combine ingredients and blend thoroughly. Heat in a small saucepan until combined and sugar is dissolved and pour over meatballs. (This dish is not overly abundant on sauce so if you enjoy things a bit saucier, double the sauce ingredients.)
*Freezable Meal: After covering the meatballs with sauce, cover the pan with two layers of aluminum foil and freeze. To bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake covered without thawing for 1 hour. Uncover and bake 20-30 minutes more, until meatballs are cooked through.

Baked Brown Rice  (sorry, I can't get the italics to turn off!!)
*Note: This recipe doubles beautifully for a 9X13-inch pan.
*Makes about 3 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water (if using water, add 1 teaspoon salt)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8X8-inch or 9X9-inch baking pan. Place the rice in the prepared pan and pour in the liquid. Stir to equally distribute the rice. Cover tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for five minutes before removing the aluminum foil and fluffing with a fork. If your rice still has a bit of liquid on the bottom or conversely, if it is dried out, adjust the baking time up or down to make changes.


Before baking, slice one small yellow onion into dices or half moons and caramelize and brown in 1 teaspoon of olive oil until golden and soft (about 10 minutes in a nonstick skillet). Stir onion into rice and broth mixture and bake according to recipe.
After removing rice from the oven and letting it sit for five minutes, remove aluminum foil and stir in the zest and juice from 1 lemon, 1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 apple, finely diced

If you try this recipe out - let me know what you think!

Show Us Your Life - Baby Shower Ideas

Kelly at Kelly's Korner is hosting her weekly "Show Us Your Life" series and today's topic is Baby Shower Ideas.  Just like wedding showers, I love baby showers.  I just think they are so much fun!  Mine were a little unique . . .the first one was held in the hospital because I was on bed rest in the hospital.  I had hoped to go home but when we found out the day before that I couldn't, my husband worked with the nurses and set it up in a great room at the hospital.  My others all had to be after so that I would be out of the hospital :-) 

Like I did for Wedding Showers, I thought I would share some ideas I've seen floating around on-line. 

I've seen this idea several times on blogland but found it over at Joy Ever After.  Basically, each guest creates/decorates a onsie for the new baby.  What a cute idea for the new mom to have as a memory of those at her shower.
I just love this Duck Punch Idea from Tidy Mom
Like so many people, I love the idea of the Milk and Cookie Theme for a baby shower - it just seems to fit.  Our Daily Obsessions shares lots of pictures and info to use!
Baby Shower has some super adorable paper products!  Made me want to order some just for fun :-)
These egg timers would be great party favors and can be found over at Wedding Favorites.Com.

What would a shower be without games?  Lil Luna offers this game up as a free download!  I'm saving this one so I have it for future use.
She  also shares this creative idea for a game based on the Price is Right.

I love the idea of brunch for showers and The Kitchen shows some really great food ideas for just such a shower!

And another Milk and Cookie Shower idea from Maddy Cakes Muse.

One last idea from The Cake Blog.  I love the colors and the turtle theme!

Make sure and check out Kelly's site for all of the link-ups!  I'm sure there are just tons of ideas out there!