Friday, October 31, 2014

Weekly Menu

Last week was an easy, relaxing cooking week.  We ate out a little and I tried a new pasta recipe too.  (Yes, I cooked one day while the kids were gone after all!)  We are back into a normal routine again after a few busy weeks.

Saturday -We are going to a free concert (A friend from College sings in the group) so we'll grab either Red Robin or Smash burger or maybe even head to the Beltline "Bar" for our favorite Mexican food . . .it's been a LONG time!

Sunday - Cheesy Cauliflower Soup and Ham Sammies

Monday - Quesadillas, Roasted Veggies, and Chips

Tuesday -Chicken and Dumplings  . . .and Mac and Cheese for the boys.

Wednesday - Chicken Noodle soup (my favorite thing to do with leftover Chicken and Dumplings!)

Thursday -Pork Loin in the crock pot, brown rice, veggies and rolls

Friday -  Taco day! 

Thursday, October 30, 2014


This photo was taken in September of this year and it is of my dad's 5 sisters.  Little did they know that this would be the last time they would all be together again.  My Aunt JoAnn, the one on the left, passed away almost two weeks ago.  Aunt JoAnn was the youngest of my dad's 8 siblings (yes, 9 kids in all - 4 boys and 5 girls!) and it wasn't expected.  She was attending her granddaughters birthday party, walked in, sat down, felt a sharp pain in her chest and was gone.  I didn't get to see my Aunt often - but I know she appreciated the yearly Christmas letters I sent and loved seeing photos of the boys.  It saddens me to think that at the next family reunion (someone needs to get to planning that thing!) there will only be 8 siblings left.

This is such a great reminder to each of us to take time and share love with those we are closest too.  Don't like little things keep you apart (or big things for that matter) but, rather, take time to love, care, and have an interest in the lives of those who are part of your family.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What we are eating - Ranch Tacos

Ranch Tacos
adapted from Real House Moms
As you know, we love tacos in this house.  Friday night is taco night - at least that is the tradition I am working on installing into our home.  The boys even talk about it now and, if I happen to not serve them, they ask why we aren't having tacos!  This chicken taco recipe is very good.  The flavor is fabulous, the ranch dressing keeps the chicken moist and flavorful.  This would be an easy recipe to use left over chicken in or a rotisserie chicken.  I had chicken breast in the freezer so I took that out and cooked it up earlier in the day to use in the recipe.  I did actually use extra ranch dressing on top of my taco instead of sour cream and it was so yummy! 

  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • olive oil
  • 1.25 oz Ortega 40% less sodium taco seasoning mix
  • ½ cup ranch dressing
  • tortillas (or hard taco shells)
  • toppings-additional ranch dressing, tomatoes, lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese (you could also add olives, avocado, and any other taco/salad toppings you like)
  1. Heat a skillet with olive oil over medium high heat
  2. Add pieces of chicken and cook completely
  3. Drain
  4. Sprinkle the taco seasoning mix over the cooked chicken (DO NOT add water)
  5. Stir the chicken and cook for 5-7 minutes until all the chicken is coated and the powder is stuck to the chicken pieces
  6. Add ranch dressing and stir until well combined
  7. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes
  8. Fill tortillas or taco shells with chicken, a little additional ranch, and taco toppings (or make into a salad with the chicken, ranch, and toppings)
  9. Enjoy


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Teaching Tuesday - Week 9 (A Birthday and Family get-away!)

This past week was an "off week" for our homeschool.  It was Josh's birthday and we planned a much needed yet last minute family get away.  Yes, it was planned and has been planned for several months but we didn't even know if we could go until just a few days prior.  It all was dependent on how work went for my husband after being off so long for surgery.  God provided through some great work days, an anonymous gift from someone at church and turning in a years worth of change.  Our "vacation" was much needed and much enjoyed!

 This is the view from our hotel room.  We had an awesome lakeview room that did not disappoint.  Added to the excitement was the seagulls that were very well fed the whole time we were there :-)  
 Before we left home, we stopped at the grocery store and Josh got to pick out his cake.  He has been "watching" the pumpkin cake for months and was beyond excited to finally be able to pick it out!  The boys had to taste the frosting.
 After unloading and relaxing for a little bit, we went to dinner at one of the few restaurants that was still open (We kinda cut it close in going to Macakinaw City - our favorite restaurants had already closed for the season!)  After dinner, we drove across the big bridge in the dark so that the boys could see the lights and it did not disappoint.  We stopped at the state park and were able to get this awesome view of the bridge.  I think this might end up on the wall in my living room at some point. 
The boys got to experience the huge viewing telescopes at the park too.  When we returned to the city, we all got our bathing suits on and drove to the water park.  We had the whole thing to ourselves - it was awesome! 

Tuesday was the big day and we took the boys to Mackinaw Island - their current favorite place on earth.
 When Josh opened our hotel curtains Tuesday morning he exclaimed, "Wow!  Look at that view!" and he was right!  It was incredible!
 We loaded unto the (empty) boat at about noon on Tuesday.  Because we were just about the only people on the boat, we got a special invitation . . ..
 We were invited up to the Pilot House and Josh got to drive the boat all the way across the channel. 
The Captain was great.  He explained exactly what Josh needed to do and let him drive, giving him pointers along the way.  We learned that the Captains 5 younger siblings are all homeschool and his family (and where he grew up) is all of about 30 minutes from us in a small neighboring town.
  For the record, Nate did NOT want to drive - he preferred to watch.
We might have a future Captain on our hands!
 Once on the island, we went to get lunch and check out the pool at this hotel where we ate lunch.  The boys loved the stairs. 

Then, we explored the island.  One of our first stops was this rocky beach that the boys loved.  We brought home a lot of "pretty" rocks, sticks and "flowers."
 The boys!  Yes, we have hats and gloves on but the weather was fabulous.  The sun was shining and there was very little wind so we were never cold.  Really, we couldn't have asked for a nicer day in late October.
 One of the special things we did was brought the boys bikes.  They loved being able to ride their bikes through town without any worries. Darryl and I chose to walk but the boys . . ..they loved their freedom! 

 On the return trip home, one of the crew members had Josh help him get all of the ropes ready for landing.  Josh loved it and Nate loved watching.  So, maybe we did have "school" - the boys learned about driving the boat and curling the ropes.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a new resturant for hot dogs and waffles fries.  The boys loved it, and the chili cheese fries were pretty good.  The hot dogs . .. well, they were just hot dogs :-)   After dinner, we once again headed back to the water park where we enjoyed the pool, the slides, and yes, I even enjoyed the hot tub for a bit too.  And yes, we had it all to ourselves once again!

 Wednesday was Josh's actually birthday - yep, he's six!  Once we checked out of our hotel, we drove back across the bridge (because it is one of Josh's favorite things to do!) and drove along the lakeshore in the UP for a bit.  We pulled off at this awesome park where we could view the Lake and the bridge.
 Josh loves maps so seeing this huge map of Michigan was a treat.  He was able to see where we live and where the bridge was as well as where Papa and Nana live.  He loved it. 
 Nathan!  We told the boys we wanted to build a house where the park was located and they loved the idea.  We talked about it a lot on the way home :-)  Before we headed back across the bridge we stopped at Big Boy for lunch and then headed to meet Papa and Nana for dinner.  The boys had no idea!  When we pulled in the parking lot of the resturant we parked next to Papa's truck and the boys both said, "That looks like Papa's truck but why would he be here?" - they were so shocked when we walked in and saw them HA! 

 Josh LOVED getting his presents - lots and lots of Legos!  So many that he could build a tower! 
 This was Nate when we got home - sound asleep!  The poor kid was exhausted.
 Josh still had more gifts to open though, and was very excited to do so!

 Harley loved the paper :-)

We ended a very fun few days with pictures with the birthday boy.  Josh loved turning six! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Make it Monday - Pumpkin and Apple

I recently went on a baking frenzy because, 1) It is finally cold enough outside to actually want to have my oven on for a few hours and 2) I love all of the fall recipes!

Two of the above recipes were a huge hit and one of them hit the garbage can after one bite.

So which one went in the garbage?  The Apple Cake .  It sounded so good and the photo on the blog looked great but when I made it, there was nothing great about it.  It was very dense, dry, and tasteless.  Plus the "frosting" never set up and was just a gooey mess.  Ironically, as I was making it, I remembered making a similar cake a year ago with the same outcome.  No more apple cakes for me ;-)

Now, on the other end of the spectrum, the Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins were fabulous.  I made them into 12 regular size muffins instead of mini-muffins and they were fabulous.  That is a recipe I'll make again without a doubt! 

Finally, coming in at a close second to the muffins was the Pumpkin Bread.  Darryl said it was the best he ever tasted.  I thought it was great bread but wasn't quite as "pumpkiny" as I was expecting. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Things My Kids Say

* This past week we were out of town.  The boys loved staying at our "Otel"  Also known as our "home".

* We stopped at a park in the UP of Michigan and pretended we were going to build our home there.  It didn't long for the boys to grasp onto that idea and they had it all figured out from the fact that we did not need to bring Darryl's grill because there were grills there to the fact that Papa would need to help us tear our house apart, carry it across the bridge, and then rebuild it for us HA!

* Legos have taken over our home.  That's it.  Seriously.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Family Fun - Cars and Trees

These first photos just  made me laugh. We were getting ready to go to the hospital with Darryl for his Cat scan several weeks ago.  The boys wanted to take some cars so they were filling their pockets.

 Super cute Nate :-)
 Josh loves to dance and move and be silly!
 He found places to put cars in every single pocket in his pants.  I did convince them to use a bag though :-)
Josh has LOVED our new piano.  This was a gift and it is a gift that gets used every single day but at least one person in our house (Usually by all of us though!)

Finally, we had some HUGE excitement at our house one Friday.  Our neighbors across the street had a HUGE tree that needed to come down.  We had a front row seat out on our front porch.

 Gotta love that sweet face of Nate's.  He's losing that "baby face" but every once in awhile I still catch that sweet little face in a perfect shot!
 Yes, we even had snacks on the porch while we watched. 
 Going . . . .
 Going . . ..

This tree literally came within inches of taking out the corner of their house.  The neighbors came over to stand by our porch to watch it - fully expecting to land on top of their house HA!  

Friday, October 24, 2014

Weekly Menu - The One with Halloween

What a great week we had last week for Josh's birthday.  My favorite part was the simple cooking and then well, not cooking! HA!  Josh loved getting his favorite foods too!  This week we get blessed with the kids going to their Grandma's and some Halloween fun!

Saturday - There are two options for this day - either, I'm going scrapbooking all day and Darryl is staying home for the day.  OR, Darryl will work which means I will get up early and drive him to work, come home and go back to bed (HA!) and then go scrapbooking all day.  When he is done working, I will pack up and go pick him up and we'll go to dinner somewhere.  Either way, I'm not cooking!

Sunday - No Kids=No cooking.  I'm thinking we'll just grab some KFC after church so we can go home and watch football. 

Monday - No Kids = No Cooking :-) I'm thinking we may go to Big Boy for their fabulous fish dinner or to Applebees.  Something close and fairly inexpensive.

Tuesday - My kids come home today so it is back to cooking :-)  I'm not sure what time they are coming home so I think I'm going to take the easy way out and just plan hot dogs and chips. 

Wednesday - Breakfast for dinner is an easy thing to do on AWANA nights.  Pancakes, Sausage and fruit is always a great plan!

Thursday - Beef Tips and Noodles,  Rolls, and Green Beans

Friday - My brother and sister-in-law are coming to our house for Halloween.  My brother loves my boys and loves being able to do stuff with them while he is home on furlough.  He has been waiting for two years to be able to go trick-or-treating with them so it should be fun!  I think I'll do Slow Cooker Honey Ginger Pork , with Baked brown Rice, Ken's Fruit Salad. and Marinated Veggie Salad  It is all stuff I can make earlier in the day and then serve just before we head out to get all the candy! 

It is really difficult to believe that it is the end of October and we are entering into the Holiday Season - Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It is really my favorite time of year and I try each year to make it fun, festive, and full of fun traditions for our family!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Making Your Home a Haven and a few other things

One of the first blogs I read that focused on being a Christ Centered Woman within your home was Women Living Well .  I've enjoyed Courtney's writing and that she often does monthly challenges that encourage growth spiritually as well as growth within the home  The past couple of years, I've participated in her Making your home a haven challenge but, some how, missed the beginning of it this year!  I love her focus each week on things like burning a candle as a reminder to pray for your family or to have soft, relaxing music playing all day every day (one I'm working on more!).  If you are looking for encouragement in how to make your home a haven, check out Courtney's posts!

Courtney has already announced the next challenge which will be a book challenge based on the book Messy Beautiful Love.  I know that I plan to participate in this book "club" and encourage you to do so as well! 

One last thing, Courtney is doing a daily Bible Reading program hosted on her site as well.  You can find the latest study on the side of her blog  or you can also click HERE and read about it as well.  I'm currently in the middle of a study on Esther but plan to jump into the Women Living Well Bible Reading program once the study is finished up.