Saturday, March 31, 2012

Weekly Menu - March 31st

So this week, I made sugar free no bake cookies.  A friend of Darryl's is a diabetic and his favorite cookie is the wonderful no-bake so, I had coupons for something called "Real" which is in the same family as Splenda, and tried it out.  The cookies turned out almost like the real thing - they are a little softer and not quite as chocolaty-sweet; almost like the sweetener doesn't make the unsweetened cocoa sweet enough to taste like chocolate.  Other than that, they are great - no after taste - we'll see if Ernie likes them :-) 

My kids are leaving today to go to Papa and Nana's for the week.  Yep.  The whole week!  We try to have them go to their house for a long weekend at about every 6-8 weeks.  It's good for the kids, the grandparents love it and it is GREAT for me - I love the break and I'm able to tackle some projects that are hard to do with extra hands :-)  Usually they keep them Thursday afternoon through Tuesday afternoon but since we'll be traveling to their house for Easter weekend, we shifted it slightly and they get them for an extra day.  I'm excited about a few days off and have a long list of things to get done!

With the kids gone, our menu is a little different this week:

Saturday: One of the reasons the kids are going to my parents this weekend is because Darryl and I have a wedding to attend.  A good friend of mine is getting married and we get to attend and go to the reception which at "The Top of the Bob" - some place I've always wanted to go to but have never had the chance ! I'm so excited :-)

Sunday: Darryl and I are eating out.  The plan is to go to the next town over and eat at a favorite restaurant but, if we are two tired, we'll just order in instead :-)

Monday: This is "my" day!  I'm going shopping for some clothes as well as getting stuff for a bridal shower for my niece.  Therefore Darryl and I are meeting for dinner somewhere - shoot we may just go to Checkers - there is nothing better then a good burger from there!!

Tuesday: As much  as it was my goal to not cook all week - I gave in and I'm cooking tonight.  I'm going to make Teryiaki Chicken Wings and Bacon dip.  Two food Darryl and I love which makes it more fun to eat while they are hot ;-)

Wednesday: We'll either get a pizza or, if Darryl is going to practice, I'm going to meet him in town and go to practice with him - I seldom get to go anymore due to the kids and I really enjoy it.  Before kids, I probably went at least twice a month.  :-)

Thursday: The plan tonight is to grill steaks on the grill along with Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Green Beans.  If the weather doesn't cooperate, I'll do something inside.

Friday: We are heading to my parents so we will grab McDonald's on the way out!

As far as baking this week - I'm not.  Well, I plan on making a Snickers Pie on Sunday because we love it so much and it feels like a special treat.  Otherwise, it is store bought cookies this week!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Food Friday - Sunday Roast, Potatoes, and Carrots

I think everyone has the "perfect" roast recipe that their mom made growing up.  Well, I wanted to share mine because I truly think it is by far the best ever.

Sunday Roast with Potatoes and Carrots
Adapted from My Mom


Onion Soup Mix


Place your roast, carrots, and potatoes in a roasting pan.  Sprinkle a packet of Onion Soup Mix (Any brand is fine) over the top and then add enough water to come just under covering the roast.  Cover and cook on 325 for approx. 3-4 hours.  Use the liquid left in the pan to make gravy if you so desire!

Variation:  Instead of potatoes, just add carrots to the roast.  Once done, remove the roast and carrots to a separate platter and keep warm.  Place the roaster on a burner and add enough water to be able to cook noodles.  Bring to a boil and then add as many egg noodles as you feel you can eat :-)  Once they are cooked, add cornstarch (mixed with a little water to avoid lumps) to thicken the broth, dump into a bowl and serve.  They are SOOO yummy!!

We love this meal on a Sunday in the winter - walking in the door from church to this meal is just so yummy!  Plus, my kids LOVE the veggies that come with the roast!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What I'm Reading

I've been busy reading free books this week :-)  It is the end of the month, I've spent my $10.00 max on books and also used up a couple of amazon gift cards thanks to Swag Bucks.  I didn't want to turn in any more Swagbucks so I could save some for next month. 

This is the book I just finished yesterday.  I had picked it up for free quite awhile ago because it looked like it might be humorous and I wasn't disappointed.  The story is based around a women who works for a Ladies Magazine as the craft writer.  Her life has just fallen apart thanks to her dead husband and she is not a prime suspect in a murder.  Yes, it is a mystery  book but it is a funny mystery book.  I chuckled quite a few times throughout the book.  The one disappointment?  The language - totally 100% unnecessary.  It was kinda thrown in for shock effect I think (and it worked, geesh).  This is the first book in a series - I've added the others to my wish list so I don't forget about them. 

This was a great book.  I picked this one fairly recently for free and found that I didn't want to put it down.  The basis of the story is that a bride, who left her groom at the alter, returns to her hometown to talk to him and make things right before leaving town again.  She quickly learns how much she needs the town and the town needs her.  When I started reading this book, I did not realize that it is actually a reprint of the original version.  The author stated that she added more "sensuality" to make it more relevant.  Then it made sense because there were a few things that just didn't fit with the rest of the book.  It is more just innuendo's and well-written phrases than anything but it really wasn't need to make it a good book. 

One thing that is a little disappointing in the search for free books is the lack of Christian Books that are free.  (or even reduced prices).  I've been watching Inspired Reads almost daily to make sure I don't miss any.  I should clarify that - specifically the lack of Christian FICTION books.  I have gotten several devotionals and non-fiction books for free.  I did pick up a couple this past week and that's what I'm reading now.

I have literally just started this book - read the first chapter so far.  I'm hoping for a well-written book that has a Christian base to it.  We'll see how it goes! 

I have finished the entire Stephanie Plum series as far as the numbered books but I discovered that are books "between the numbers" - I think three of them.  From what I've read on them, they have Stephanie Plum in them but also include another set of Characters who eventually get their own "spin off" series.  Not sure yet if I'll read those - they don't really flow with the others so we'll see!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pinterest Challenge

This past week we have been really focused on trying to wrap up all of the little projects in the kitchen that have been hanging over us since we started the small makeover.  I have quite a few ideas posted in Pinterest in my kitchen folder but right now this is the one that made the cut!  This idea is a cute frame that holds keys - you can find the post in my Pinterest board HERE but it is only a photo.  The link takes you back to a photo site, not an instructional post.  Here is a photo of the inspiration:
It is such a simple, but creative idea to hang keys.  Prior to painting, I had hung up some command hooks in the place where this frame will hang to make sure that we liked hanging our keys. It was perfect.  Such a great way to get them off the counter so we know where they are and they don't get buried!

Framed Key Holder:

1 frame - whatever size words for you just make sure it is big enough to hold your keys
Hanging hooks - again whatever size and color match your frame
Ribbon - optional

1. Hot glue ribbon along the top and bottom of your frame.  (Depending on your frame, you may choose not to use ribbon - I purchased an inexpensive black frame that needed some help!)
2. Hot glue ribbon along the sides of your frame.
3. Add your hooks - I hot glued mine onto the back of the frame.  If you use a solid wood frame, you may be able to actually screw them into the wood.
4. Add hangers to the back.  I cut apart the piece of backing that came in the frame to remove the hangers from the original frame .
That's it!  Easy Peasy :-)  You'll have to check back to see it hung in the kitchen when I post the finished photos this coming weekend !!

Thanks for stopping by!

Linking up over at:
Oopsey Daisy

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Too Cute Not To Toot!

I have not picked out my Easter Decor . . .and I'm leaning more toward trying to make my decor "Springy" with an Easter Egg twist since Easter falls so early this year.  Well, I saw this idea from Home Spun with Love I knew this was perfect.  The colors fit the Easter theme yet it is also so springy!  I plan on making this for my table soon!
This next idea a friend of mine made so when I saw the idea posted elsewhere, I had to share it.  This idea comes from Our Life in a Click  and is the perfect spring wreath.  I thought it was made with Easter Grass but it is actually that fun furry yarn.  And yes, THIS is my wreath I'm going to make for April!
Since we are talking about wreaths, I also have seen this one several places and want to make this one to hang on my door for May - it is just so fresh looking.  Check out the great tutorial over at How Does She?
I haven't shared a whole lot about my new camera yet but I will soon - so when I saw this great tutorial for a lens cap "hook" from Mom 4 Real, I had to save it.  This is one of those "must" things to make . . .I keep losing my lens cap!

Mom 4 Real  also shared a tutorial for the camera strap cover too.  I really love it but, considering the fact that this camera is our "Family" camera and my husband will also be using it . . I'm not sure he will go for the hot pink ruffles :-)
I love this idea from Little Lucy Lu for the perfect "Create Crate".  We are working on an idea for setting up a great desk area for the boys for school and I'm looking for fun ways to store things.  This is perfect!
The carrots from Clares Craftroom are just too cute.  I think they would look great sitting in a basket on the table.
I love this idea from Makoodle because it is different.  I'm linking back to her post but she also gives credit to the original post she found on Pinterest so you can check that out as well.
Ok, these little Pom Pom people from A Girl and her Needle are so cute that I want to make one right now.  Seriously.  My kids would love them.  I'll give you a little "tickler" - I'm in the process of making my boys Vacation bags - bags full of fun stuff to do while in the car traveling on vacation. I'm thinking a few of these would be perfect additions to the bags!
This is such a simple idea from Wait Till Your Father Gets Home but I'm posting it because it is so simple I tend to forget it!  Painting mason jars and using them to hold things like flower !  I love the color the author chose too!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Photo Class 101

I'm talked a little bit about my new camera but today I wanted to share a little more!  For about two years I've been saving my pennies to get a Canon Rebel T2i camera.  Yep, one of those "fancy" cameras with lenses and even extra flashes.  I love to take photos because photos are memories.  You may not always have those special outfits or birthday banners but you can remember the moment through photos.  I was beyond thrilled to finally be able to order my camera at the beginning of February.  I was not so thrilled with this camera when I got it - I could not get it to focus for anything, the pictures were over exposed - it was not pretty.  About the time I bought it, a photographer friend of mine sent out an e-mail about upcoming classes she was offering on photography.  It was perfect so I signed up and hoped she could figure out what was wrong with my camera!  The fist class was about a week and half ago - she handed my camera to her assistant and said "figure it out" . . .and guess what?  She did!  At first even she thought the camera was broken and I would have to return it but then, she took the lens off and put it back on and then. . .it worked!  Apparently, when I put the lens on, I didn't turn it quite far enough to click and therefore it didn't work right.  WHEW!!!!  Then, I LOVED my camera.  The class was awesome - I learned more in that first class then I have learned my entire life about taking photos.  What a true thrill! 

Our first assignment was to set the camera on "P", use natural light, get close (and then closer) and take 100+ photos to learn how our camera reacts to light.  What fun!  Here are some of my favorite photos that I've taken over the last week or so and are the photos I plan on taking to class this coming Thursday.

 This is my cat Misty taken in our kitchen with a ton of sunlight - by far one of the best photos I've ever taken of her in the 15 years I've had her!

I loved playing with the light - the animals were almost better subjects because they don't move but my kids did pretty well too :-) 

I'm so excited about class on Thursday - I know I will learn more that I can use in our every day life.  One of the best things about this class?  The last of the 4 sessions is the week before my niece's wedding . .. and my boys are her ring bearer's . .. . I am confident I'll get some awesome shots!!! 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Homeschool Haven

Just as clarification with this post - sometimes ideas may seem "old" due to being associated with a Holiday but I add to this post over several weeks until I have enough ideas to make it worthwhile to publish so . . like with the first item I am posting, it is just an idea to remember for the future even though the holiday has already passed us by!

This first idea is from Mom to 2 posh lil divas and is a perfect idea to do along with President's day - it is a penny experiment.  Considering how much my kids love pennies, I know they would enjoy this idea.

Sometimes I just like to save a post because I like the ideas and don't want to have to search for it (because, lets be real, if you think you can actually find a post you want to find 3 months later, you are dreamin'!)  So this idea is for Tot Boxes and comes from Confessions of a Homeschooler.

I know I've shared an idea from this series from Spell Out Loud before but this Humpty Dumpty idea is just too cute not to share. 

I think this book is so adorable and Totally Tots shares some cute ideas to go right along with it.

I really do love the idea of sensory tubs and have made a few of my own over the past year or so.  I want to do more to go with our homeschool plans this fall so I love finding cute new ideas like this Bee Tube from Counting Coconuts.  (As a reminder to myself - March would be a great month to do a butterlfy theme since the Butterflys are blooming at "The Garden" . . .it's a great place to visit!)

One of the favorite books in our house is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom - the boys can "read" it out loud they love it so much.  When I saw this great idea over at Thats What Che Said, well I had to post it here both for my sake and for yours!!

I really like this idea for a journal, even for a child who can't write yet, from The Princess and the Tot.  I think that I might add this idea to our curriculum for this fall.

You may remember that last summer we planted a small garden so when I saw this idea from A Pumpkin and a Princess, it struck me as something perfect to get before the beginning of summer.  What a great project for the boys to work on!

I'm not really sure how this fits into teaching but it would be just a fun activity to do with the boys . . maybe Art? HA!  A little while ago I came across this great blog called All for the Boys - she offers up some great all boy ideas; this one included - smash 'em up cars!

One of the problems I haven't solved until now is how to store printables especially since I want to start preparing them soon for the start of preschool this fall.  1+1+1=1 has come through again with this perfect solution.  No more trial and error for me - I'm going to be picking up supplies soon!

One final idea for this post comes from Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers and it is really just some great ideas for homeschooling.  She gives a list of 10 great helps for beginner homeschoolers as well as many links to other resources. 

I didn't realize that I haven't posted this since February so there are some "old" ideas on here to use for next year! 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Our Weekly Menu - March 24th

Last week did not go quite as planned - it was hot.  I'm talking July hot - 80 degree days and humid.  Therefore one evening, my husband brought home a pizza, another night we made hamburgers on the grill.  This week made me remember how hot it gets in my kitchen and also reminded me of why, every year, I saw to my husband, "The house will be clean again in September" HA! 

The past few weeks/months our grocery bill has slowly crept upwards.  I'd like to blame it on prices but I know that a big part of the problem is me :-)  I enjoy cooking and finding recipes so as the weeks go by, my meals get more elaborate and therefore cost more.  This week I'm trying to cut way back and also try to plan meals that can be cooked in the oven or cooked on the grill if it is a warm day.  We'll see how this plan goes :-)

Saturday: We are gathering at my Mother-In-Law's house for the afternoon for a cook out.  It's always nice to gather with family and I don't have to cook!  (Just have to bring some hot dogs - someone else will cook them :-) )

Sunday:  My husband has an afternoon concert so we'll eat an early lunch - I'm going to do the little crescent wrapped sausages, Ro-tel dip and chips.  Then, I'm planning on him making it home for dinner (or at least a late dinner) so I'm just going to cook up some pork chops, make rice and veggies and throw in some biscuits :-) 

Monday: One of our favorites - Root Beer Pulled Pork,  oven roasted green beans, and, I'm going to cheat . . I'm going to pick up some Amish Macaroni Salad from Walmart.  We love the salad and it is really inexpensive!!

Tuesday: Another family favorite - we are going to have Teryaki Chicken Thighs, Rosemary Potatoes, Corn and Biscuits

Wednesday: I think Darryl is going to practice so the boys and I will get a treat. . .if Darryl is home well, we'll probably still get a pizza or something :-)

Thursday: Stuffed Shells, Asparagus, and garlic Bread.  This is a carry over from a few weeks ago that I need to make so I don't waste some of the ingredients!

Friday: Taco Soup and Beefy Roll-ups . .. this was on the plan for last week but, who wants soup when it is 80 out?  Not me!! 

After that heavy cake I made this past week, I'm going to go lighter for our dessert of the week and make a pie.  I haven't decided whether to try a Lemon Meringue Recipe I found or go back to the Lemon Blueberry or Raspberry Ribbon Pie that we love.  We'll see when I go to the store :-)

That's all :-)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Food Friday - Bacon Double Cheese Burger Dip

If you have followed this blog for long, you have learned that we enjoy little appetizer parties therefore I am always looking for new recipes.  I've tried a lot over the past year and only a couple have made the cut.  When I came across this recipe - well it looked hopeful, and it did not disappoint.

Bacon Double Cheese Burger Dip
adapted from Closet Cooking

I have to apologize - I took this photo on the second helping of the dip.  So yes, it is THAT good!  Wow.  I am a huge fan of worcestershire sauce so when I saw that as an ingredient I knew it had to be good and I was not disappointed at all.  My husband and I ate this for dinner one night after church - it was just as it promised, a burger in a dip!

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 6 strips bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoon ketchup
  1. Cook the ground beef in a pan over medium heat, set it aside and drain the grease from the pan.
  2. Cook the bacon in the pan until crispy, about 6-10 minutes, set aside and drain all but a tablespoon of the grease.
  3. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  5. Mix the ground beef, bacon, onions and garlic, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, mozzarella, cheddar, worcestershire sauce and ketchup and pour it into a baking dish.
  6. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the top starts turning a light golden brown and then sides are bubbling, about 20-30 minutes

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What I'm Reading!

You may remember that last week, I mentioned this book but I hadn't finished it.  This was a great book - the story was fun yet left you guessing.  The one downside is there was one thing that didn't get resolved in this book, book one, but I'm assuming that the author did this to carry her readers into the next book, which I will have to pick up soon!

This is book that I picked up for free through The Literature Lady on facebook.  I tend to forget that her page is not a Christian page but, rather, it includes all books.  So I'm torn on this one because, I though it was a great story but, honestly, it is a little "Rated R".  It starts out really rough on that front . . .I almost stopped reading but by the end of the 2nd chapter I was hooked and read the whole book in a day.  It gets less offensive the deeper in the book you go and the story really keeps you guessing.  I find this author a great writer - just wish she was a Christian writer :-) 

Normally I try to read the synopsis of a book before I read it (just like I used to read the back of the book I could hold in my hand) but I didn't on this one or some odd reason.  This is a true story of Kenneth Tingle, written by Kenneth Tingle.  He grew up in a rough area, in a tough home, and fought his way through his childhood and teenage years.  This is a true story of hope and what hope really means.  I would recommend this book for reading.  It does have language throughout the book but it is too be expected considering where and how the author grew up. 

Of course, I know you are all wondering if I read anymore Stephanie Plum books and the answer is . . YES!  I picked up a couple more Amazon gift cards from Swag Bucks I had earned plus there was on offer on my kindle and I was able to get a $10.00 card for $5.00 (Leaving me an additional $5.00 to use this month in cash!!)  So I actually picked up two of her books.  I finished one and just started another one.