Sunday, September 30, 2012

October Goals


Holy Smokes!  It's October!!!  Whoa.  Where did January-September go?  Ok, wait, June, July and most of August crawled by due to the heat melting the hands on the clock but shoot, where did September go?? 

Lets recap September: 
1. The big room switch - Guess what? It is DONE!!  I've already posted about the classroom and the master.  The post about the boys room will be coming out next week!!

2. House Projects - My goal was to mark 4 things off the list - well, we finished the master and the boys room so that marked off more than 4 items :-)

3. Scrapbooking - I have not updated my project list or done anything else except get all photos ordered through August.

4. Homeschool - we did ok in September.  I'm still working on a perfect system but we are slowly getting there.

5. Potty Training - uugg.  that's all

6. Celebrations - I've written in the things we want to do as a family and am working on making sure I/we get to the parents a little more.  I was just there last Tuesday and had a great visit.

7. Landscaping - I took photos of the outside :-)

Moving on to October

1. Celebrations - this has moved to the top because we are coming into some busy months for birthdays and Christmas.  So, this month I will focus on making sure that Josh's birthday is great, make plans for Christmas, and make plans for Nate's birthday.  I also need to get our outfits picked out for our Christmas card photo/Christmas outfits.  Of course, there is also Halloween :-)

2.  Potty Training - Here we go again - we will survive this and we will succeed!

3. Homeschool - The goal this month is to get into a routine with Homeschool and accomplish our goals each week.

4. House Projects - the goal is to accomplish 2 items on the list this month.

5. Scrapbooking - Again this month I want to update my list, work up a budget plan to get pages printed and the goal is to get all of May and June scrapbooked this month.

6.  Landscaping - This is research month.  Research various plants and flowers and trying to narrow down what I'd like to plant.

I will be honest, I've kind of lost my focus on my "Celebrate" goal this year.  I am thinking of a new theme word next year and what I would like to accomplish.  I feel like I've kind of floundered this year and didn't really plan well.  Oh well - we all have an "off" year :-)

Linking up over at :
Mission of the Month

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weekly Menu

Well, last weeks plan was a flop HA!  Well laid plans and all that stuff! First up, I had put sloppy joes in the crock pot on Tuesday so dinner would be ready when I got home after being gone all day.  Well, it was done all right - so done it was burned.  YUCK.  Then, I was thinking my husband was going to practice on Wednesday but he wasn't . .I didn't plan anything.  I had planned a sweet and sour chicken recipe and was reminded that he doesn't like sweet and sour stuff . . .. so we ended up having burgers :-)  THEN, I was going to go scrapbooking on Friday but that was cancelled . . .I had nothing planned for Friday :-)  Oh well!!

Lets try this again!  My husband and I are trying to eat a little healthier . . or something.   So, I'm going to work on switching the way we eat and focus more on Weight Watcher style meals 4 days a week.  The other three days will be other favorite recipes that I will be working on to make lighter as much as I can.  We'll see how this goes!

Monday - Baked Chicken Parmesan, Spaghetti, Salad and French Bread.  Now, I have a Chicken Parmesan recipe that we really love.  I'm anxious to see how this one, a WW version, compares.

Tuesday - Three Cheese Tortellini and Mushroom Soup with Homemade Bread.  This is another WW recipe.  I'm not really a huge fan of Mushrooms but I've been reading how they are a super food so I'm going to try and eat some :-) 

Wednesday - Asian Glazed Drumsticks, Baked Brown Rice and Steamed Broccoli.  I have other Chinese style recipes that we love but they are really high in sugar.  Again, I'm excited to see how this compares.

Thursday - Crockpot Stuffed Peppers, Smashed Potatoes, Green Beans.  This is a family favaorite recipe :-)

Friday - Beef Drip Sandwiches, Sweet Potatoes (in the crock pot) and a salad.  This is a family favorite and, instead of paring this with something higher in fat like french fries or potato salad, I decided to try and keep the sides a little healthier so we can really enjoy this wonderful French Dip like sandwich.

Saturday - Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin, Mac and Cheese, a canned veggie and French Bread.   Another favorite - this is SOOOO good!

Sunday - Roast, Carrots, and Beefy Noodles.  For dinner tonight we'll have either Leftovers or get a pizza.

Enjoy !

Friday, September 28, 2012

Food Friday - Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars
adapted from Brandy's Baking

Yes, you read that right.  Chocolate Chips.  Cookie Dough. Cheesecake.  All in a fantastically good bar like cookie.  Cheesecake at its finest (and easiest!)  This is one of those "get up in the middle of the night and eat cheesecake" kind of desserts.  Yum! I actually made mine in a 9x9 pan instead of an 8x8 pan and they worked out fine.

ngredients (9-12 servings)
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips
Cheesecake Filling:
  • 10 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line an 8" square baking pan with parchment paper or foil allowing a little overhang and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Mix the melted butter and graham cracker crumbs until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes. Remove pan to a cooling rack. Leave your oven on while you prepare the dough.
3. While the crust is cooling, prepare the chocolate chip cookie dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth and thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Mix in the flour on low speed, and mix until just incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips. Set aside. (*Note: This mixture is going to be dry...that’s okay. It’s rather like a crumble topping. You’re going to crumble it on top of the cheesecake layer.)
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla on low speed just until incorporated. Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared crust. Use your hands to form "clumps" of the cookie dough, smoosh it together and flatten it out.  Distribute the cookie dough onto the top of the cheesecake batter in teaspoon-sized clumps. Be sure to use all of the dough.
5. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top feels dry and firm (the cookie dough) and the entire pan looks set if given a gentle shake. Move bars to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Chill in refrigerator overnight or for at least a couple hours.
6. Lift the bars out by the overhang and cut into squares for serving.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Home Organization Challenge 101


This weeks Challenge space was the home office.  Now, I don't have a "home office" but more of a home . . desk . .in the corner of the living room . . where everyone can see it, kind of space.  It is a true bear to keep clean and organized because everything gets dropped on my desk.  Not to mention that my husband uses it and my kids have gotten naughty and get in the drawers when I'm not looking. (I used to have them all taped shut but it about drove me insane so we are working on them learning to respect other peoples stuff!!)

A little history.  I love my roll top desk.  I challenged my dad when I was in high school that I would save up half the money for a roll top desk kit that we could built together if he would pay the other half.  Of course, he said SURE!!!  Well, I was only half way there in my saving up of money when I saw what looked like a nice roll top desk on sale at a local furniture store so my dad agreed to split the cost and buy it.  He went to get it, discovered it was kinda junky, and then MORE than split the cost and bought me this desk.  Wow, I just realized it is an antique - this desk is 25 years old!!)  It has moved many places and let me tell you, that thing is a bear to move!  Three moves ago, my dad finally took the thing apart to move it, which helps, the downside is that it never quite goes together the same so now it is impossible to move without taking it apart.  (For the record, I have taken it apart, moved it, and put it back together by myself HA!)  So, even though, really, it isn't the most practical space anymore, there is no way I'm getting rid of it.  Instead I try to be as creative as I can with the space to keep it uncluttered and useful.

Here are a few photos that I took at the beginning of this week - this is probably one of the worst days for my desk HA!  I had it all cleaned and organized but being sick last week kinda put everything on hold.

Now, it is all cleaned up again and ready to be used.  This is more what it looks like all of the time.  I'm getting to the point that I may start pulling the cover down to keep little hands out of my stuff . .. but then I might actually have to lock it and that just becomes not fun! 

Now, if you go back to the source and see HER office . .. well, you will be as amazed as I was . . .wow.  I think her office is bigger than my house HA!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Growth Chart

Over a year ago, I posted a link to a great post over at Family EverAfter in a Too Cute To Toot for this:
Yes, a growth chart :-)  It was something that I had been wanting to make for my boys so guess what, I did!  Now, here's the deal.  I made this LAST summer.  Yes, as in August of 2011.  We hung it up sometime in like January of 2012, and I finally did the last pieces in, yes, September of 2012. Here is my version:

Now, way back when I started this project, I did take photos but I can't find them now.  The process was simple.  We happened to have this board left over from a roofing project a few years ago.  I sanded it down and then painted it with left over paint from the bathroom.  Then, I used a sewing measuring tape and modge podged it onto the front, using a staple gun to secure it tightly around the back of the chart.  Then I cut out the boys names and modge podged those on as well.  This is were my perfectionism got in the way - I wanted to make these cute little signs that showed the date, their age, and their height.  Well, after about 9 months of not getting it down, I just wrote the info on the chart with a sharpie.  So much easier and so much more real life!!!  For the record, the boys have even tried to measure themselves so there are extra lines drawn by them - it adds character and I love it! 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Too Cute Not To Toot!

The first idea this week is just that, an idea.  Who would have thought to hang a "command hook" upside down?  Well, the blog author over at Lemonade did and it's a great way to hang wreaths.  Read her whole post to find out how she made some cute wreaths but REALLY pay attention to how she hung them :-)
I love a good party and I love party games so when  I saw this idea for a punch box from Acasarella I had to share.  It does look like it is a little bit of work but I think if you made it sturdy enough you could use it over and over again.
Ok, so I still need to do a coat rack in my kitchen for our every day coats.  Especially with winter around the corner.  I really like this idea from The Sweet Survival using faucets - well it is too cute to pass up!
This next idea, from Family Love Home, is fantastic.  I've been searching for some creative way to keep the books I want the kids reading off the shelf for the week but also off the floor (because they will have a home).  I can't wait to make this!
I know I shared this idea before (Probably about this time last year) but it is too much fun not to share again.  The idea comes from Burton Avenue and I also know that I said I wanted to make it to use this year for decoration but, lets keep it real, that never happened.  This year?  Shoot, it is almost October and I haven't even cracked open my box of fall decor yet!
That's all for this week.  Hope you are enjoying your fall and getting lots of crafting done! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Homeschool Happenings Week 5

After going through last week, I figured out what worked or didn't work, changed my lesson plan set up, and felt much more prepared to face the week.

 When I started this process a year ago, I created lesson plan sheets that looked very similiar to what I used then I taught elementary school back in the dark ages.  I quickly figured out that it was way over done for what we needed so I took my plans and streamlined them by only giving myself three squares.  One square represents  the time slot of 10-11 AM.  This is the time frame when we do our calander time as well as our basic teaching.  (RRSP, All about Reading, and other learning activities).  One square represents the time slot of 1-2 PM and the third one, 2-3 PM.  The activity we do will determine the time slot.  It tends to be random.

Here are a few photos from our week:

What we did this week:

1) We finished up the Letter "L" unit from 1+1+1=1 Rising Rock Stars Preschool Unit.  Josh loved drawing "L's", learning how to use scissors, and learning his memory verse.
2) We did our All About Reading lesson, focusing on the letter "L".  On a side note, I did a lot of reading, thinking, and reading again trying to figure out if it would work to go out of order in this series (the book starts with .. "A" ) so that it would coincide with what we are doing with our RRSP and decided that it would be ok :-) I find this to be less confusing to my almost 4 year old at this point.
3) We did some activities from an Apple Unit created by Oopsey Daisy.  A favorite of the week was the apple counting game shown in the photos above.  We used Chocolate Chips to cover up the "Seeds" on the apples.  Both boys asked to play the apple game every single day (I think it was more for the Chocolate chips than for the math, though!)
4) We played with the Wedgits building set and loved it.  Right now, the boys just like to stack them.  The book that comes with this set is too advanced for them but I have a small additions set on my wish list that comes with a book that is more their age level so that they can learn to build. 

We did end up with a couple of days "off".  Our family got hit hard with colds this past week.  By Thursday the boys were worn down and so was I so we took a break and just played the Apple Game.  We missed Friday school because I couldn't talk without coughing!!  We watched a lot of cartoons together while I overdosed took cough medicine every hour few hours.  Thankfully, we all seem to be on the tail end of this stuff and are on the mend!

Linking up with:

Tot School

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Bedroom Redo - The Master

I'm been talking about the big room switch for months and we are almost done. I already showed the classroom a few weeks ago and now, it is time to show off the master.  I spent several hours this past Saturday going around the room and finishing up all the little things that needed to be done so that I can actually the room is complete.

First up are some before shots.  We moved into what had been Josh's room.  It is actually the middle sized room and it is right next to the bathroom.  It was kind of bittersweet moving Josh out because it has always been just his room.  You'll have to excuse the mess in these photos - my husband started moving stuff before I had a chance to take photos plus Josh had been sleeping in Nates room for weeks due to the heat - we had put a window AC unit in Nate's window to help cool off the living area and for the boys to use at night.

Now for the finished room!!
 We did not repaint this room - we love the color and the striped wall plus it matches my bedding perfectly.  I also did not buy the bedding recently - I bought it about 6 years ago, used it for year, got new stuff that I then used for 6 years and finally replaced again with this set. 
 This is the view from the doorway.  The artwork on the far wall is something that used to hang in my dining room that I purchased probably 9 years ago and the candle holder used to hang in my bedroom . .. well it used to be a set but one broke :-)  I think both items really work well in this room. If you look closely you will see stuff under the bed . . yes, I store things under there.  Everything from my candles to our suitcases.  It works out perfectly and keeps things out of the way that I need often enough to want them close!
 This is the view from the closet in the back corner.  Don't you love the wall with stripes?  I'm not sure I can ever paint over that!! 
 I tried to purchase very little for this room but, I did purchase this one piece of vinyl from Simply Said Designs and I love it.  Not only do I love how it looks, I also love the fact that it went up on the wall so easily!!  I've ordered from other places and have found vinyl to be difficult to work with until now.  I will only order Vinyl from this company from now on!
 A close up of the wall and the top of our dresser :-) 
 The view from the foot of the bed.  The air conditioner will be coming out of the window soon :-)
 Can you guess what this is? HA  It is our HUGE closet ;-)  I know it might be hard to believe but everything is in this closet except for our shoes.  We left our seldom used shoes in the shoe cubby in the boys room for now.  Everything in our room has a place from the few books I keep in there to swimming stuff, to our slippers.  Since the room is so small, it has to be that way or it will get cluttered quickly!  Oh, yes, we did remove the closet doors - they took up too much room and I'm really not a fan of doors on a small closet. 

Just another view of the dresser.  The lamp on the dresser was in our bedroom before and now has a perfect new home.  We also took the TV out of our room.  You will see where we put it and I'll explain why in a future post :-)

So, that is the new room.  We both love it.  It is only our room - not a storage room, treadmill room, sleeping room for kids, nothing.  (Oh, we gave the treadmill to my mom  - she's able to use it and right now, we truly do not have room in our house for it).  We are also working at keeping the boys out of our room and teaching them it is not a room to play in - they have their own room plus the classroom AND the living room to play in currently and eventually will also have a playroom in the basement.  They don't need to play in our room too!

A couple of side notes.  As I mentioned earlier I tried really hard to use what we already had to put together our room.  I even managed to find homes for everything I thought I needed command hooks or coat racks on the door for . .. plus it keeps things neater with nothing hanging on the back of the door.  Second, this room is 100% complete as is but with that said, there are two things I'd like to do someday if I feel like it ;-)  I'd like to add a second "bed skirt" that goes to the floor and covers our "storage".  I'm thinking just some simple chocolate brown fabric held to the wood frame with Velcro - who knows, maybe I can even make it this winter.  I would also like to change out the light fixture.  I already have the new one picked out - I might even put it on my Christmas list (and save the old one so if we sell the house some day, I can switch them out and keep my special light!)  Lastly, the "nightstand "that is on the closet side of the room doesn't really fit.  (Our night stands are really end tables that worked great in our old room).  If I see the perfect end table some day, I'll replace the one that doesn't quite fit HA! Those three items are not needed but, if I happen to come across the items, they would make great additions to the room! 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Weekly Menu

I must confess, I made some fantastic meals this past week.  I posted one recipe yesterday and have more to come in the coming weeks.  I love when recipes work out and they are something we want to eat again. 

This next week, my kids are going to my parents house for part of the week so I'll be planning meals for just my husband and I.  Originally, this week was going to be a vacation for Darryl and I but due to financial restraints, that didn't happen (trust me, we planned a total of 4 different little trips!)  Instead, we are using it to get some things done.  Darryl will be working most of the week and I will be working on a bunch of projects since I will have NO kids!!  On Friday, I'm going scrapbooking all day and Darryl is getting the house to himself - which he never, ever gets.  We are taking off on Saturday for the day and will spend Sunday enjoying some football. 

Here's the plan for this week!

Monday - Million Dollar Spaghetti, Garlic Bread and Salad

Tuesday - Amish Breakfast Casserole, Bacon Potatoes in the Crock Pot, Easy Cheese Danishes

Wednesday - I'm not sure . . .Darryl has practice and I'm not sure if I will go with him so we'll grab a bite to eat between me picking him up and practice or if I'll stay home and just grab some tacos from our new taco place in town.

Thursday - Hot and Crunchy Chicken Cones, crash potatoes.

Friday - Well . . I'm not sure yet :-)  I'm going scrapbooking and I'm not sure if I will come home at dinner time or if Darryl will have to fend for himself HA

Saturday - We'll be out today - tentatively planning to go to our favorite pizza place in Muskegon for lunch; and we haven't decided on dinner yet.

Sunday - Lasagna, Homemade Garlic Bread and Salad for after church.  Later in the day we will have Caprese Dip, Arancini (Rice Balls), Asparagus Phyllo Appetizer

Friday, September 21, 2012

Food Friday - Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup
adapted from Skinny Taste

I made this soup yesterday and it is so wonderful!!  We love meatballs and orzo is so easy to work with that it makes this soup a quick fix for dinner or even for lunch.  A couple of things I did differently than the recipe below.  One, I could not find escarole in my grocery store so I picked up spinach instead and it worked wonderfully well in the soup.  I read the comments on the blog post and a lot of people used Kale - I'm not a fan of Kale at all but if you like it, it would go well in this soup also.  The other thing - do you see any orzo in that bowl of soup?  Me neither and I even know it is in there HA!  Once we were done eating, I went to put the left overs in the fridge and guess what?  The orzo was all floating on the top - I guess I should have cooked it a little longer so the orzo would have been completely done :-)  

For the Meatballs:
1.3 pounds of ground turkey breast
1/4 cup seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 large egg
1/4 cup onoin, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Soup:
8 cups fat-free low sodium chicken broth
1 (16-oz) head escarole, chopped
fresh cracked pepper to taste
3 oz (1/2 cup uncooked orzo

IN a large pot, heat the chicken broth over medium heat, covered. 

While the broth is heating up, in a large bowl, combine ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, onion, garlic, salt and cheese.  Using your hands, gently mix all the ingredients well until everyething is combined.  Form small meatballs, about 1 tablespoon each, you'll get about 40.

When the broth comes to a boil, drop the meatballs in, add the orzo and chopped escarole. Add fresh pepper, adjust salt as needed and cook about 10 minutes or until orzo is done.

Makes 12 cups

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Home Organization 101 Challenge

Welcome Back!!!  This weeks challenge was to organize your pantry and I have to tell you, boy do I have pantry envy HA!  The host of this challenge has an incredible pantry with tons of baskets and totes to hold everything.  Well, as nice as that would be . . or even to have a small pantry in my kitchen . . .I'm thankful for the pantry area in my basement (or, as my kids call it, the "extra kitchen" HA!) 

Anyway, I took time this week to reorganize my pantry.  Just recently my mother-in-law surprised us with cases of canned goods that needed to be put on my shelves so this was the perfect excuse! 

 This is a shot of the full pantry.  Originally, this was a closet - the previous owner was a hunter and hung all of his gear in this closet.  We didn't really need it as a closet - or I should say we didn't use it since it was downstairs - not convenient at all.  So one day my husband built some great shelves for me and I've used it as a pantry space every since! 

Some up close shots of the 4 main shelves :-)  I have to confess, I don't like baskets or other storage containers on pantry shelves, in cupboards or in the fridge.  They hide what you have and make it more work to look for things.  At least for myself, what I have an abundance of changes so to have certain baskets for various food items would mean at times I would have empty baskets!  Instead, I like to stack like things together and use my space that way. 

Nothing to exciting but my kids sure do love it - they often bring up some random can and tell me that they brought dinner up for me HA! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I wanted to share a great way to study our Bible that is simple but so effective.  It is what I do now and have used over the past several years.  I love it because you really only need your Bible and a notebook. 

Chose a book or chapter to study and break it up into small sections - only 1-4 verses at a time.  

S - Scripture
--Write out the scripture for the day.  Right now I am studying Colossians through Good Morning Girls and wrote out verses 5-8 of chapter one on Tuesday morning.  By writing out the verses it helps you focus on them more and also, by the time you finish your study, you will have written out an entire book! 

O - Observations
-- Write down one or two observations from the reading. I look for simple things that the author points out through the verses.  

A - Application
--This is where the rubber meets the road.  How does it apply to you! I like to look at my observations, since I obviously thought they were important, and then turn those into applications for my life, today. 

P - Prayer
--Take time to pray and ask God to help you, lead you, and guide you through those applications that you wrote down.  It is suggested that you write down your prayer . . I don't always write it down because sometimes prayers are a private matter between just God and I. 

Personally, I usually keep one other book with my study materials and that is J. Vernon McGee Study Book that pertains to the Book of the Bible I'm reading.  If I get stumped or just need some inspiration, I will read the section from his sermons that apply to what I'm reading.  It's a great way to get another view on the passage. 

If you are looking for an a simple but effective way to study your Bible - try this method, you may find it is the perfect way to study for you! This is also a great way to get older elementary students and above studying their Bible. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Too Cute Not To Toot

Hello!  Lets get ready for some ideas!

With changing rooms, I'm using under our bed to store some things (since we have a smaller room) like candles, our overnight bags, and even some shoes (most of our shoes are still in the boys room) so I'd like to make a second bed skirt that will hang to the floor and cover up all of that stuff.  I love this idea from Emmy Lizzy for a ruffled skirt.  It might be a little beyond my sewing skills but sometimes I just need an idea :-)
Halloween is coming!!  (I need to get my fall decor out soon!) This cute idea for a pumpkin is from The Swell Life and is a take on the whole melted crayon art.  I actually like it and think the boys would enjoy being part of this craft.
This is a great Thanksgiving craft idea from Toddler Approved. Such a simple craft with a big impact.

I actually printed this idea to do this summer but never got around to it.  The Stuff Of Success shares this great Pool Noodle Obstacle course.
My husband loves T-shirts.  He also hates to give them up and yes, I even have a few that I would hate to see go because they are great memories :-)  So when I saw this idea from a.steed' I had to share.  I'd love to do this idea in the basement to add a little life to the room.
My boys love spiders - we even have a spider friend who hangs out in one of our living room windows (he hangs outside) so they would really love this little spider craft from Crafty Journal.
That's it for ideas this week! :-)

I do have to share this though - on Sunday I needed to find an idea I knew I had posted awhile ago so I started back tracking through old Too Cute posts and I must say, WOW there are some awesome ideas out there!  I need to take time to go back through and start printing some of my favorites and file them in the correct folder for use in the future.