Friday, July 31, 2015

Weekly Menu - It's August

So, this is the end of our self-inflicted spending freeze and it's gone very well.  I'll share details for later but, ready, we aren't stopping just because it's August.  The freeze will continue  . .  my goal is the month of August :-)  So, with that being said, this weeks Menu is B.O.R.I.N.G. because the grocery budget is near its end for the month :-)

Saturday - I've been enjoying making various homemade pizzas the last few weeks so I'll continue :-)

Sunday - Pork Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Corn and Rolls

Monday - Chicken Thighs, Amish Butter Noodles (Josh's Request), Green Beans, Homemade Bread.

Tuesday - Pork Chops on the Grill, Roasted Zucchini, Fried Rice and Rolls.

Wednesday - Chicken on the Grill, Mac and Cheese, Fried Zucchini and Rolls

Thursday -  Ham and Scalloped Potatoes in the Crock pot (I didn't end up making this last week), Applesauce, and biscuits

Friday - Tacos of course :-)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

July Goals and Accomplishments

You may remember (or probably not HA) That I had one main goal in July and that was to clean out the basement.  I am happy to report that I accomplished that goal (almost!)!  And, well, even a little more!

1) I emptied all of the containers and "junk" from the basement into the garage and set up a sorting station where I sorted stuff out to either keep it, sell it, or give it away (oh, and trash it!).  I am happy to report that I threw out about 8 bags of trash and took about 4 boxes to Good Will and have a good box worth of stuff to try and sell.  I took back into the basement about 1/4 of what went out.  The basement is clean, organized and everything has a home.  Now, I'm about 95% done but need to finish up stuff in the garage - we ended up with a 90 degree week so I focused more on the inside than stuff that was outside!

2) Thanks to a very hot week this week, I spent more of my "basement time" working on totally cleaning/organizing the "other" side of the basement too.  This allowed me to accomplish a lot more than planned.

3) I have sold a few things.  I'd like to sell more.

4) I also focused on things in other rooms too.  I cleaned out and cleaned the entire kitchen from top to bottom including cleaning out some things we didn't use/need.  I cleaned the entire bathroom too and cleaned out a lot of stuff that has been stuck back in cupboards since we moved here :-)  Plus our bedroom got a nice deep clean and I totally cleaned out the playroom and that included getting some toys the boys have truly outgrown out of the bins!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Slow Cooker Salisbury Steak

Slow Cooker Salisbury Steak
adapted from Side Tracked Sarah

I have put my crock pot to good use this summer.  It's been a great way to keep the kitchen cooler yet have some great food.  We are big comfort food eaters so this recipe for Salisbury Steak fits the bill.  It was really yummy and I will make it again . . .in the middle of winter.  HA  It's really not a summer recipe ;-) 

  • 2 Pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 Envelope of Onion Soup Mix
  • 1/2 Cup Italian Bread Crumbs (can use crushed crackers if you prefer)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 Cup milk
  •  Flour (enough to dip your patties into)
  • 2 Cans cream of mushroom soup (or use cream of chicken, like I did)
  • 1 Package Au Jus mix


  1. In a large bowl, mix together beef, onion  soup mix, bread crumbs, egg, and milk.
  2. Form beef mixture into 8 patties.
  3. Dredge the patties in flour to coat
  4. Brown the patties on both sides (You don’t have to fully cook them if you don’t want to since they’ll be cooking for 4 or more hours in the slow cooker, too)
  5. Place the browned patties into the slow cooker, layering them if you need to
  6. In a medium bowl, prepare the Au Juis mixture according to package instructions.
  7. Mix in both cans of cream soup
  8. Pour the mixture over the patties.
  9. Cook on LOW for 4 to 6 hours, or until beef is done.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Teaching Tuesdays - We're In!

I posted a few weeks ago about our change in direction for homeschool and I just wanted to post that we got into Connections Academy starting this fall.  We are now anxiously awaiting our shipment of school books and computer so I can get everything set up. 

I'm still "anxious" to see how the planning will work and how we will get our work done but I know once I figure it out it will be good.  I'm also curious to see if the boys like their work books as much as they liked what they did last year. 

This year is a true trial.  If I don't love this system or don't think it is working for the boys, I will go back to planning our own curriculum and do our own thing.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Make It Monday - A Wrap Station

I have a love/hate relationship with gift wrapping.  I have tried various ways to have a "gift wrap" station but through the years have learned that the one place I wrap gifts is in our bedroom.  We have a high bed that is the perfect height for wrapping plus it gives me plenty of room.  I came across this great idea on pinterest from A Casarella and actually had the supplies I needed to create it.

This was my old storage idea:
This actually has worked well - it's just a laundry basket that I kept in the basement and it held all of the gift bags, ribbons, bows and tissue paper.  It just wasn't convenient. Plus, I really needed the basket to use to put Josh's stuffed animals in so they weren't always strewn all over his bedroom floor. :-)

This is the new idea:
The whole cart idea is awesome.  The top drawer holds wrapping supplies like scissors and tape.  Drawer two holds tissue paper; drawer three is ribbons, bows and tags and the bottom drawer holds gift bags. This cart rolls nicely into my closet for perfect, easy storage.  I had already stored wrapping paper in the bedroom behind a nightstand where it fit perfectly so this just completes the whole concept.

A note on gift bags.  Years ago, gift bags cost so much money so we all saved them forever.  Shoot, I had gift bags that were from our wedding 14 years ago!  Now, though, gift bags can be purchased at the Dollar Store for, well, $1.00.  I kept the really big ones and a few really cute ones but otherwise, I plan on keeping my gift bag collection to a minimum. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Things My Kids Say

* Nate is very much into snakes.  It's caused from seeing a snake while camping but still.  He was watching U-Tube videos and asked if he could get snake.  He promised to find one that was perfectly trained.  I informed him that as long as he lived in this house, he would not own a snake.  He then asked if he could get one when he moved out some days.  I told him yes.  Then, thoughtfully, he asked, "Mom, will you come visit me if I have a snake?"  I told him I would as long as it was in a cage.  Then he said, matter-of-factly, "Well, I had better buy a wife who likes snakes!"  I have no idea where he got the idea that you "buy" a wife.  :-)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Family Fun - Camping Trip #3

We headed out on our third camping trip just a couple of weeks ago and it was not without adventure . . .even before we left. 

On Sunday morning we were working on finishing up loading; the boys were playing on the back porch; I walked out the back door so the boys moved out of the way and, at that moment I heard the neighbors mower (the neighbor across the road, mind you) hit a rock and then out of the corner of my eye I saw something flying through the air seconds before I was nailed in the jaw by a rock.  Darryl said he had never heard me scream like I did and knew something was wrong. 
Can you see it?  The bruise and abrasion?  Not the best picture, I know, but wow, did that thing hurt.  Thankfully nothing was broken, it was just really sore, I had a slightly lose/tender tooth for a few days and the bruise got worse before it got better.  This delayed our department a bit as I had to lay down on the couch with a bag of ice on my face for about 30 minutes. 

We finally arrived at our camp site and got everything set up.  The site was awesome because it was right next to a creek that the boys could play in!

 Our homemade sidewalk paint was a huge hit once again but this time it turned into more.  The boys took the cornstarch and baking soda and made pies on the ground before adding water and food coloring. 

 This photo.  We had a mouse in the next campsite over and Darryl was attempting to get rid of it with our little broom.  Honestly, the mouse was sick - probably poisoned - but I still didn't want the thing near our campsite!

My creek loving boys!  They played in this creek all week long.  They found tadpoles, minnows (which Josh caught), and "Lobsters" (crawfish) and . .. lost one shoe.  Oops. 

I didn't take many photos.  So here are some other highlights:

1) Swimming- this campground had a fabulous pool.  The boys and I loved it - they both would swim to the deep end (10 feet deep) with their life jackets (and me not far from them). 
2) Bike Rides and Playgrounds - The boys love having a little freedom to ride their bikes and they loved riding to the pool.  They amazed me because the ride to the pool is up a big hill.  They road it like it was flat.  Crazy kids.  There were awesome play grounds to play at too!
3) The Dam . .. and the Snake - For months before we went, Nate had studied the map of the campground so he knew there was a Dam /Dead end road.  We took a drive and were able to walk out on the dam where, at one point, I screamed as a snake slithered away as Nate just about stepped on him! 
4) The Rain . . and Storms.  Oh my.  The daytime was great; we had very little rain during the day but the night time . . holy smokes.  The first night a storm rolled through with such intense rain that Darryl and I got up and were outside making sure our awning kept draining.  The second night a storm rolled through with lots of thunder and lightening and tons more rain.  Even though we woke up to a slightly flooded campsite each morning and ate a simple breakfast of cereal both mornings while waiting for the rain to stop, as soon as the sun came out, everything dried up! 
5) The Parents!  On Tuesday, my parents drove over to "take over" for the rest of the week and camp with the boys.  It was great getting to have lunch with them and hang out by the campfire for a bit before we had to leave.  The boys then had an absolute blast with them the rest of the week.

We still have one more planned camping trip at the end of August and are tentatively planning one trip near the end of September. Then, it will be time to clean it up in October and "pack it away" for winter. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Weekly Menu - Another Simple Week

We are still taking part in our self-imposed spending freeze so we are eating at home.  One thing I was reminded of as we've gone through this for just one week so far is how easy it was to say "lets grab something to eat" prior to this challenge.  Last Saturday, for example, temps were in the 90's and I really did not want to cook.  I fought a war in my head and finally stuck to my guns and made a simple stove top dinner.  Doing this breaks the eat-out habit that is easy to fall into, that's for sure.

So, here's our plan for the coming week

Saturday - We are planning to go to the big Free Fair today with the boys.  So, in order to avoid buying fair food (which I LOVE but is SO expensive!) we will have a late brunch and I'm going to carry over a recipe from last week and make Sausage Crescent Squares, Hashbrowns, and Fruit.  Then, I plan on making french bread pizzas for dinner - I saw the idea on Pioneer Woman this past week with lots of different topping ideas :-)

Sunday - Crock pot Stuffed Meatballs with Spaghetti, Salad and Garlic bread. Super easy and it will be ready after church.  For dinner?  Honestly, we might have pizza again since I'm sure there will be leftover "stuff".  Or, corn dogs and chicken nuggets :-)

Monday - An easy meal since Darryl has Physical Therapy on Mondays and gets home late - BBQ Cups and Fries

Tuesday - I "found" a ham in the freezer (ok, I just forgot it was there) so I'm going to cook that up in the crock pot and make some cheesy potatoes despite having to turn the oven on to make them!  Then we'll have baked Parmesan mushrooms (Darryl and Josh love them) and Rolls.  I might have a salad too since I'm not a fan of mushrooms.

Wednesday - Another crock-pot meal - Crock pot Ham and Scalloped potatoes.  I saw the recipe on Pinterest and it happens to be from which I have had good success with when it comes eto recipes.  Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Bread. 

Thursday - Darryl always has a Dr's appointment and PT on Thursdays so I'm going to make something I like :-)  Mongolian Beef and Fried Rice.  I'll probably make Mac and Cheese for the boys :-)

Friday - Shrimp Tacos.  I had a Shrimp recipe planned a few weeks ago that I never made so I figured this would be a good time to make them. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What We're Eating Wednesday - Deep Dish Pizza

Deep Dish Pizza
adapted from 
 We I love pizza and could eat it for almost every meal.  Because of that, I'm always on the look out for new pizza recipes/variations to try.  This one caught my eye because it is made in a 9x13 pan (thus the "deep dish" concept).  This was a hit and was very easy to make too! The toppings that we used were 1/2 Onion and Canadian bacon and 1/2 Mushroom and Canadian bacon.



1 (13 ounce) Pillsbury™ refrigerated pizza crust
1 1/2 cups pizza sauce
2 1/2 cups of your favorite cheese (I like using a mix of provolone, mozzarella and cheddar)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
12 whole pepperoni (optional)
1/2 pound cooked ground spicy Italian sausage (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray or olive oil.
  • Unroll the pizza dough, and press it into the bottom and halfway up sides of prepared baking dish.
  • Spread the dough with some pizza sauce and, if using, sprinkle the cooked spicy Italian sausage over the top. Cover the pizza with cheese and then top with pepperoni (if using). Sprinkle the Parmesan over top.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with more Parmesan if desired. Serve immediately.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Make It Monday - Red, White and Blue Cupcakes

Several weeks ago I did a Make It Monday   post showing several Fourth of July ideas that I hope to make. I really had great intentions but, only one of the items happened:

These were so easy to make!  I went the total "cheater" way.  I used a box cake mix and canned frosting.  Once frosted, I just added the toppings.  Blueberries and Raspberries and then dipped in coconut to add texture to the white "stripes". 

Funny story.  I had made two batches - one to take to the family party on Fourth of July and one to take to our church picnic the following day.  I put the family batch in my cupcake holder.  Darryl grabbed the handle, walked outside and the bottom fell out.  Cupcakes everywhere covered in dirt and ants. Oops!  We threw the whole thing (cupcake holder included - since this had happened before) - right into the garbage!  I frosted the second batch quickly and took them those to the family party.  The church picnic was "stuck" with marinaded cucumbers and a bag of Doritos HA!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Things My Kids Say

* This past week while camping, there were crawfish in the creek that ran behind our site . . .when Josh saw them, he pointed out the "Lobsters" in the water.  :-) 

* I asked the boys what their favorite part of camping was this past week.  Josh stated that his favorite part was staying with Papa and Nana at the campground.  Nate stated that he didn't get to do his favorite part - to do glow in the dark bubbles (because Josh accidentally spilled the whole bottle all over the Hershey bars) so he didn't have a favorite.  That little stinker HA! 

I wish I could bottle up all of Nate's facial expressions when he tells us stuff - he is hilarious. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Family Fun - Fourth of July

We had a lot of fun for the Fourth of July this year.  Between our own family fun and heading to my Mother-In-Laws for the actual Fourth - it was just a fun time all the way around.

For the first time ever, we purchased some Fireworks for the boys.  I went with some of my all time favorites that I remember as a kid - Pop-its, Smoke Bombs, Snakes and Sparklers.  

 I'm not sure who had more fun with the fireworks - the boys or Darryl!  We ended up doing fireworks for the entire week after the Fourth of July too.  The boys love them and may or may not have a new interest in Fire :-/ 
 As is our tradition, we went to sit outside on our front deck to watch the fireworks.  Well, the mosquitoes had a different idea - they were awful!  So bad in fact . . . . . 
That Darryl got the truck, parked in the front yard and we all sat inside the truck watching the fireworks! 

On Saturday, the Fourth, we loaded up and spent the day at my Mother-in-Laws house at the lake.  The boys had the opportunity to play with their cousins on that side of the family including several that they had never met.  (Technically they are "step" cousins but they are still cousins!)

 One of the best part of the day for the boys was the swimming.  My in-laws live on a lake so the boys spent a good portion of the day in the lake enjoying their life jackets :-)  They also had multiple rides on the boat and got to go with their Uncle and Cousins to feed their pigs, twice. 
We ended the night taking the boat out on the lake to watch the fireworks.  They were amazing.  About 4-5 residents set off their own fireworks and put on quite the show.  Probably the best firework show I've ever seen!

The boys were sound asleep within about 2 minutes of heading home so that means . . .it was a great day!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Weekly Menu - A Normal Week

What is normal?  I'm not sure but we will call this a normal week.  We are home from camping; have no plans; and will just be home for the most part.  I actually cooked more last week than planned in order to keep our eating out budget from eating up our "need to pay bills" money HA! Along with that, we are on a self imposed "spending freeze" in order to get caught up and, maybe slightly ahead before August hits.  I've tried to budget out a few things like a trip to the huge Ionia Free Fair so there will be much more eating at home over the next two weeks!

So here is the plan for this coming week:

Saturday -Homemade Chicken Alfredo Pizza and Salad

Sunday - Crock Pot Smothered Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Broccoli and Rolls

Monday - Honey Shrimp, Rice, Veggies, and Rolls.  We didn't end up eating this last week so we'll have it this week!

Tuesday -Baked Rigatoni, Salad and Garlic Bread. 

Wednesday : Burgers and Fries

Thursday - Darryl has a doctors appointment and Physical Therapy so he gets home late. The Boys and I will have breakfast for dinner - I want to try a new recipe for Sausage Crescent Bites but will also have Frozen Waffles for the boys, Hashbrowns, and maybe some fruit.

Friday - Tacos! 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Getting Back on the Wagon - Scrapbooking

I am busily working on the basement clean out and making great progress, if I say so myself.  As is always the case, it is never as bad as the walkway into the basement makes it look.  In other words, stuff tends to pile up right at the entrance - I cleaned that out first and thought, "wow, I'm almost done!".  I'm still taking the time to clean out every single bin, though, in order to cut down on what is really being stored, and setting it up in a way that it will function well.

The other huge project that I'm very behind on is our family memories or, scrapbooking.  When the original Creative Memories closed two years ago, I lost all momentum because all of my supplies were form Creative Memories.  I love their albums and pages.  I have tried to find a new source - an easier and less expensive source to work with and because of that, my photos have just sat.  Money is really, always a tough thing to budget when it comes to this hobby so I'm having to find a way to catch up without spending much. 

I would really like to be back to the point of working on the previous months photos in the current month and yes, I was there once - for almost a whole year I was at that point!  To do that, I have to work two ways.  One, I have to start in August with working on this months photos.  The best way to get current is to work on current stuff.  I know it sounds odd but it is true.  The second thing, is to do what I've started to do 100 times before, go back to the beginning and make sure that scrapbooks are complete; finish up pages; and move to the next album.  I have a couple of years, yes, years, worth of digital pages that are done and ready to print.  I have to start printing or print the photos and make regular photos - it might actually be less expensive to recreate each page then to print the hundreds of pages I have to print.

Here's my overall goals by December:
1) By the end of December I will have July-November 2015 pages completed. 
2) By the end of December I will have gone through and completed every album that is currently on the shelf.  This includes page protectors (which I can get from Hobby Lobby for next to nothing when they are on sale)
3) By the end of December I will have started the process of getting those two years of digital pages into books.  Ultimately, I'd like to do one month . . a month.  Printing or recreating - but that would mean by December I would have 5 months done. 
4) By the end of December I will decide how to conquer 2016 photos - I'm throwing around the idea of trying Snapfish books.  I could then sit at night at the computer and create pages each time I have photos.  Then print the book every . . .3 months or 4 months?  I've even considered this idea for those digital pages - plugging them into a book and printing. 

So, time to get moving on this project!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What We Are Eating - Slow Cooker Salisbury Steak

Slow Cooker Salisbury Steak
 adapted from Sidetracked Sarah 
At the beginning of the summer I mentioned that I wanted my crock pot to become my best friend this summer to help keep the kitchen cooler.  I've also wanted to try a recipe for a Salisbury Steak for awhile so this seemed the perfect fit and, guess what?  It was!  Talk about comfort food at its finest.  The flavor was perfect and the gravy was rich.  I think if I were to do one thing differently next time it would be to go with ground sirloin instead of ground chuck just to cut down the grease in the gravy.  In reality because of all of the seasoning in the meat itself, I might even try ground pork since it is super lean.  This would also be a fabulous Sunday-after-church meal because it only needs to cook for about 5 hours so I can throw it in the crock when I get up in the morning and it would be done by the time we got home and made biscuits ;-)  

  • 2 Pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 Envelope of Onion Soup Mix
  • 1/2 Cup Italian Bread Crumbs (can use crushed crackers if you prefer)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 Cup milk
  •  Flour (enough to dip your patties into)
  • 2 Cans cream of mushroom soup (or use cream of chicken, like I did)
  • 1 Package Au Jus mix


  1. In a large bowl, mix together beef, onion  soup mix, bread crumbs, egg, and milk.
  2. Form beef mixture into 8 patties.
  3. Dredge the patties in flour to coat
  4. Brown the patties on both sides (You don’t have to fully cook them if you don’t want to since they’ll be cooking for 4 or more hours in the slow cooker, too)
  5. Place the browned patties into the slow cooker, layering them if you need to
  6. In a medium bowl, prepare the Au Juis mixture according to package instructions.
  7. Mix in both cans of cream soup
  8. Pour the mixture over the patties.
  9. Cook on LOW for 4 to 6 hours, or until beef is done.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Teaching Tuesdays - Making a Change

Over the past two weeks we've made some decisions that will impact how we will do school this fall.  Yes, we are still homeschooling but, I've done some chatting with a few friends about another option.

Image result for connections academy                                                                                                  Connections Academy is a homeschool option that allows the parent to be the lead at home but the curriculum is planned and provided by the academy.  Each family also has the opportunity to get a desktop computer to use along with a few other benefits as well.  I've been busy over the past week gathering the required documentation and filling out the on-line application. 

This was a slightly difficult decision for me because I was excited about the curriculum that I had picked out for the boys this fall and was looking forward to planning out our year as well as executing all of our activities.  I also was concerned about losing the control, and therefore freedom, to plan our "year" and our weekly schedule.  I was concerned that I would be tied into a regiment that would be difficult to follow.  Darryl, on the other hand, loved this idea from the beginning because it is all planned out; grades are kept and testing is required each year.  He viewed it as the perfect blend of both worlds - teaching at home but with everything else planned for us. 

So, why the change?  One main reason.  The Cost.  The cost is totally 100% free.  Everything is provided from that computer to the textbooks and work books.  Due to some unplanned financial things this year such as a root canal for Darryl, car repairs and more, I have been unable to put away the funds I had planned to purchase books for the fall and was starting to feel the "stress" of needing to get things ordered.  I was praying about what we would do when I heard a commercial for the Academy and remembered two friends who used this option.  I spent a few days asking them lots of questions via messages and they calmed every single concern I had and, on top of that, raved about the program, the teachers, and the overall layout. 

What Now?  I'm waiting for our paperwork to be approved and to hear that we got in - the academy takes a certain number of students each year so I'm hopeful that we will get in since we are applying fairly early for the fall.  I'm 100% on board with this idea despite my initial concerns and am actually excited to NOT have to do all of the extensive planning for K-5 and 1st grade.  I was also encouraged when Josh took the placement test for first grade and got 100% on the math portion and 96% on the Language Arts which proved to me (not that I needed it) that he is where he needs to be at this point.  This commitment is for one year.  We'll try it this year and see how it goes.  If I don't love it; if the boys don't excel with it then we will evaluate what to do next year.  Ultimalty though, we are still homeschooling - just using a different format. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Make It Monday - Tornados

My boys have become enthralled with tornado's over the last few weeks.  They actually got to see the aftermath of a tornado that struck not far from our house which has heightened their interest.  We get all kinds of questions from "Where do we go if there is a tornado on the "big road"?" to "Where do you go if a house doesn't have a basement or a bathroom or a middle of the house?"  We've talked alot about how a tornado is formed and watched videos on You Tube about all kinds of storms.  So, this past weekend we also made this:

Yep, the classic "Tornado in a bottle".  All it takes is a couple of two liter bottles and some duct tape.  I added blue food coloring to the water for the effect but it isn't needed. 

To be honest, the boys were not that impressed.  It took about two times of making the "tornado" before they walked away.  Oh well, at least we tried!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Things My Kids Say

It's been awhile - maybe my kids have been quite lately or maybe they just aren't as funny (or maybe I forget to write things down!).  What ever it is  - here's a few gems from recent weeks.

* Recently, the boys and I were driving into town and it was raining.  Nate says, "I wish we lived with Papa and Nana that way Papa could drive."  I asked him why and he said, "Because Papa can drive in anything and never stops even when it is raining hard.".  This stems from one time several years ago when, on the way home from my parents, I had to stop on the expressway due to severe weather.  Well, I was tired of hearing that "Mom can't drive in the rain" so I told them the truth - the reason I had to stop was because we were actually in the middle of a tornado so all of the cars had stopped on the expressway - I had no choice but to stop.  (For real - the tornado went above us and touched down on the other side of the expressway)  I figured this would nip that story in the bud.  NOPE!  Josh states, "Well, if Papa had been driving, he would have just driven right out of that tornado!!". 

* The boys were discussing their future jobs.  Josh wants to be a State Police and has stated that he will tell his boss that he cannot work Saturday and Sundays.  Nate is going to be a City Police and said he will never work Sundays because he loves church too much AND he will tell his boss that he won't work on rainy days.  They won't be as busy anyway and won't need as many people.  HA!

* Nate has decided that he also wants to be a storm chaser; and on days he isn't working, he'll be a father.  hahaha

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Family Fun - Camping Trip #2!

In the middle of June, we took off for our second camping trip; this time to one of our favorite places, Muskegon. 

 Once we uploaded, set-up, and unpacked, we headed to our favorite Pizza Place for dinner - Bernie O's . . .only to discover that it was closed on Sundays!!  So, we drove a little farther to a Chicken place and got dinner.  We headed back to camp and stopped at the beach.  It was amazing - totally covered in Fog.  I've never seen it like that - even standing by the water, you couldn't see further than an arm length in front of you.

 Nice.  Darryl is crazy.
 The boys love bubbles so we set up a full-out bubble station this time. 

Of course, the fire is always a favorite activity for all of us.

 On Monday, we enjoyed the park all day long.  The boys had seen a trail going up to a sand dune so we had to check it out.  Josh climbed the dune and walked around the entire "bowl top". 

 We then rode bikes out to the pier.  We all love the water and the pier. 
Plus, if you look in the distance, we were able to see the Lake Express leave the channel heading to Wisconsin.

We headed to the beach again because it was clear but, by the time we got to the beach, it was totally encased in fog again.  It was so odd to sit on the beach in the fog HA!  The boys had a blast though. 

Despite a little rain we had another great trip and are looking forward to heading out on our third camping adventure . . .tomorrow! 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Weekly Menu - A weekend of Camping and then no kids!

Do you have any idea how quickly picnics empty your fridge?  Trying going to two in two days!  Whew!  Chips, drinks, salads and sweets are all quickly eaten up thanks to lots of people sharing!  It's always fun but the rest of the week brought some slim pickings :-)

Now, we are heading out camping and then leaving the kids with my parents at the camp ground for the rest of the week.  Should be a great week!

Saturday - Pizza.  Again, we've found our local pizza place has a great price on a 3 topping large pizza ($10.00).  We'll be spending the day getting ready for camping and attending a wedding reception in the afternoon followed by getting the dog to the kennel so I know that even if I planned something - we'd end up grabbing dinner anyway.

Sunday - And we are off!  We will eat sandwiches for lunch just before we leave for the campground.  Dinner tonight will be marinated steak, potato salad, baked beans and rolls (store bought).

Monday - Breakfast - Pancakes and bacon.  Last time we camped Nate asked for pancakes so I'm going to make sure it happens.  Lunch - Sloppy Joes, Salads, and Chips.  Dinner - Marinated Pork Chops, Loaded Baked potatoes, Mac and Cheese (for real) and Rolls

Tuesday - Breakfast - Sausage McMuffins and Cereal.  Lunch - My parents are arriving in time for lunch so we will have Brat's and Hot dogs, salads, and chips  Darryl and I will be heading home so for dinner - I'm not sure - we'll either eat something we didn't cook up while camping or we will grab Taco Bell.

Wednesday and Thursday - It will just be Darryl and I.

Friday - Tacos, of course. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

"Confessions of a De-Cluttering Junkie" - A Book Report

I recently picked up a book that caught my attention solely based on the title "Confessions of a De-Cluttering Junkie".  I found it just a few days prior to starting my big basement clean out so the timing was perfect.

This story is a great "real life" story of how one woman conquered the clutter in her home despite dealing with the negitive attitudes of those around her about her new hobby.  She addressed getting her family on board, dealing with the fact that her "hobby" consumed her life and made her cause her family heartache, to the huge garage sale they had that funded their summer activities.  I loved all of the tips that the character gave throughout the book and the account of how hard it is to get rid of things at times.  

This book would not appeal to everyone - if you have a perfectly organized, non-cluttered house, you might think this lady is crazy.  But if you are in the midst of trying to simplify your life - you would enjoy the humor throughout the book. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What We Are Eating - Monkey Bread Muffins

Monkey Bread Muffins
adapted from Brooklyn Farm Girl

Josh reminded me of a tradition we started a few years ago on fireworks night in our town - we have Monkey Bread.  I had forgotten because last year, Darryl was just recovering from major back surgery so the boys were with their grandparents so I had forgotten about this little piece of goodness.  This year, I wanted to try a little something different because I've found that cooking a big pan of Monkey Bread is not always successful.  I had seen some recipes posted with the muffin idea so I found this recipe and it was . . .fantastic.  The muffins were perfectly sticky and yummy!  To make it better, they warm up perfectly the next day and taste almost better!  

  1. 2 cans of 7.5 oz Pillsbury refrigerated biscuits (or other brand)
  2. 1/2 cup butter - melted
  3. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  4. 1/2 cup white sugar
  5. 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a dozen muffin cup sheet with nonstick spray. Spray it good - on the bottom and sides.
  3. Mix melted butter and brown sugar together in small bowl, spoon 1 tablespoon into each muffin cup.
  4. Mix white sugar and cinnamon in a plastic bag.
  5. Take each biscuit and rip it up into 6 pieces. Put the biscuit pieces in bag and shake to coat evenly.
  6. Place 8-10 pieces of biscuits into each muffin cup to evenly fill them up. If you have any sugar left in the bag, sprinkle on top of the muffins.
  7. Bake for 12-14 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool for 1 minute.
  9. Turn upside down, the muffins should fall right out.
  10. Serve warm, enjoy!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Teach It Tuesdays - Having Some Fun

My camera has not made it out of the case too often lately but I can still tell you what we are doing!

Last week there was lots of playing and swimming and even a little bike riding.  (Bikes don't come out as often in the summer!).  We also worked on . .. chores.  After I worked on organizing all of the toys (again) the kids all got tired of me saying, "Put it away where it belongs".  But, it was all worth it when I saw the boys all playing with  some toys, then when done, Josh says, "Ok, guys, lets put everything away." and they did it! 

Here's a run down of what fun we have been having:

Last Friday - The Munchkin and Princess are gone for a few days so the boys and I had some fun.  We went out to breakfast at McDonald's and ate outside on the patio.  The boys had fun playing in the "McDonalds grass".  From there, we went to the fireworks place to get sparklers and then we headed to the grocery store.  Once home they watched moves (they are JUST getting into wanting to watch movies!) Finally, we went to the skate park so they could ride bikes and got ice cream!

Saturday - The family headed to my in-laws for the day.  My mother-in-law lives on a lake so there is natural fun.  The boys played with their cousins in the lake, went on boat rides, fed their cousins pigs, and loved seeing fireworks. 

Sunday - Church!  Followed by a picnic in the park with our church family .

Monday -Today is our quietest day.  We may go to a park for a bit or just hang out at home.  It's supposed to be hot (almost 90!) and humid so staying in the air sounds kinda nice. 

Tuesday - Today we are heading into town to see "Home" - it is showing at the theatre for free this week so I had planned to take the boys weeks ago.  We will then have lunch before heading home.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Make It Monday - Broken Glass Jell-O

I found this really awesome looking Jell-O recipe and, considering the fact that Josh loves Jell-O I decided to try it.  I also thought it might be a great Pot-Luck Recipe. 

It does look pretty but it wasn't a huge hit.  The white layer is made from Sweetened Condensed Milk so I thought it would be sweet and tasty but it really lacked flavor.  Which in a way, I guess is good because then, the Jell-O flavor comes through!

The recipe can be found over at The Food Librarian and it really does look pretty and would be a great addition to a holiday menu! 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Family Fun - A Trip to the Farm

We had the chance to visit a HUGE dairy farm recently.  The farm hosted a "Farm Days" event and offered so many wonderful opportunities for families not to mention free lunch and free ice cream!  I took the boys - not expecting much.  I figured we'd be there an hour at the most . . .4 1/2 hours later we didn't do everything!  Crazy! 

 One of the very first stops was the HUGE cow barn.  Yes, Josh is plugging his nose HA!  Nate loved the place and had tons of questions.  Josh looked at me and said, "Mom, this place makes me want to puke, I'll wait for you outside." 

 The boys got to make homemade butter and than try it on some crackers.  Well, Nate just ate crackers but Josh liked trying his "own" butter.
 Another barn - this one had calves.  Notice who's missing from the photo? 
 Josh loved the big cow.  Nate, not so much.
 Making some crafts.

 My piglets - the boys loved these cut outs and had to get photos in every single one.
 Watching the milking process.  The boys favorite part?  When the cows were released and walked past them. 

 Tractor pulls - these boys are tough!

 Feeding the calves.
 Tractors, Tractors, and More tractors and yes, the boys had to get in every. single. one.  Bless my heart. 
 More Cutouts . . ..

 More Tractors . ..

And yes, more cut outs!

This was a HUGE hit and the perfect activity for our weekend.  I love free stuff!