Monday, August 10, 2009

At Grandma's... (& Grandpa's)

There are a couple of acres for two boys to roam, plenty of sunshine- and an occasional rain showers hat provides ample time for wearing frog boots and splashing in mud puddles. There is great food and plenty of it! There are lots of family and friends dropping in to say, "hello," and give hugs. And there are lots of family game nights; a few of our most recent favorites: Settlers of Catan, Carcassone, and Ticket to Ride. There's also the opportunity to spend a couple of days at the lake- lots of skiing, tubing, napping, visiting, playing in the sand, swimming!

Yes, we are having an end-of-the-summer vacation and loving it! I'm enjoying our last year before I have a kiddo in school and we are tied to a school, the beauty of having preschoolers. We're on our own schedule!

Happy August, friends!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Date Night!

I have a dear sweet friend who has offered to take my boys tonight so that hubby and I can have a date! I love date nights. We sit next to each other in the restaurant and just enjoy our uninterruped conversations- and having no mess to clean up after dinner. So good. Hubby and I have been married for eight years and I have to say that we still have great conversation over dinner- I've seen plenty of couples who just eat in absolute silence watching everyone around them. I hope we're never like that. I want to always be able to connect. We don't have definite plans lined out, but who cares! We'll hold hands, talk, and just enjoy life together!

Happy 31st!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Good Morning!

I'm not much of a morning person, but this makes a morning enjoyable...The fresh blueberry muffins are thanks to the Better Homes & Gardens New Baking Book. So quick and easy- and so very delicious! And did I mention that my boys love having "cupcakes" for breakfast?

Happy Baking,

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I've never been much of a label reader... until recently. See, one of my best friends has gone gluten-free over the past two years and to be sensitive to her needs when she's in my home, I've started reading labels. Interesting, I tell you. Why are there so many ingredients in even the simplest of things? It's bizarre. And evidently of utmost importance that high fructose corn syrup be a main ingredient in almost anything. Weird. It's so refreshing during the summer months to enjoy the fresh produce that the season brings...for instance, tonight's late night snack- a bowl of fresh blueberries. The ingredients- blueberries!
Love when it's simple!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cat's Out of the Bag...

So, the reason that I've been delighting in comfort food lately? We're expecting Baby #3! Yes, this is the same reason that I fell off the face of the earth for the month of June. The all-day nausea and exhaustion landed me on the couch and not accomplishing anything in the house- much less in the kitchen. But now, I'm almost 13 weeks and things are turning around.
  • I have energy.

  • I'm not nauseated.

  • My house has been cleaned this week.

  • I'm cooking my family dinners again.

  • I even baked some banana bread today.
"Welcome to the golden trimester," I tell myself. I have about three months to be productive and get my nesting done. Then I'll be big and tired- and I'm sure the productivity will come to a screeching halt!

Happy July everyone!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Comfort Food

So, for the past few weeks we've been winging it around here. I haven't had much of a meal plan, so we've had our share of grilled cheese, pizza, peanut butter & jelly, and all things quick and easy. (More on that later.) But, tonight, I have a plan! I'm making this delicious dish of scalloped potatoes and ham. What's better, it is so incredibly simple. So simple, that there are no measurements in my friend's recipe- that usually makes me crazy, but right now, I appreciate it. Here's the plan...
  • Peel and thinly slice potatoes- lay in the bottom of a casserole dish
  • Add in chopped onion and pieces of ham (thinly sliced)
  • Top with shredded cheddar cheese, salt, and pepper
  • Repeat layers as desired
  • Add in about 1" of milk
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour

Then, enjoy the potato, ham, and cheesy goodness! I'm ready- it's going in the oven right now! Throw together a side salad, or maybe some green beans... Dinner! My family will be so happy for something different than the sandwiches lately!

I'll post pics soon!

Happy June,


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Feeding Frenzy for the Moving Help

We had some dear friends move away this week- to Chicago. It was a sad time, but a very busy time. Family and friends pitched in to help things happen quickly. Their entire 2000 square foot home was packed and loaded into a moving truck within a week and a half! It was amazing! We loved helping- because it gave us some last minute quality time together- and because they have helped us move several times (although just in-town).

On Tuesday, while the men loaded the moving truck, the ladies cleaned the house. I brought lunch over for all the help- and I must say, it was easier to feed 15-20 people than I imagined! I used a friend's pulled pork sandwich recipe which was so simply done in the crockpot overnight. Throw in some baked potato quicksides, and a big batch of brownies and fresh strawberries.... Wa Lah! I looked like a domestic goddess! Everyone raved about the food and were so grateful for a good lunch in the midst of the work. I was glad to do it- and I'll definitely tuck this secret away for next time I need to feed a big group!

And, by the way, evidently all I had to do was post about the cool weather, and it was whisked away. It's been in the 90's for several days now! The popsicles are being devoured!

Happy June- for a little longer!

Monday, June 22, 2009


It has been so unseasonably cool here this June! My boys are begging for sprinkler time and popsicles and then, can't even enjoy them without shivering. I know the ultra hot days of summer are just around the corner, and I'll be plenty tired of them by the time August arrives, but for now, we are yearning to play in a swimming pool... Remind me later that I was begging for the warm weather. In the meantime, the popsicles are waiting in the freezer!

Happy June,

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Green Envy

Both my grandfathers were avid gardners. I'm not talking a few plants to keep up with, I'm talking about row after tilled row of perfectly spaced vegetables. I didn't understand the passion for growing things when I was a kid, but I still helped out from time to time. And of course, I enjoyed the fresh vegetables every summer- you just can't beat a garden fresh tomato with a little salt and pepper.

A couple of years after we were married, hubby and I tried our hand at gardening. We built an above-ground bed and crammed as many different kinds of vegetables in it as we could think of. My grandfathers just laughed at how much we put into such a small plot...

But our little garden grew. And no one was laughing at our harvest. A pretty good return for such a small spot. I loved it. It was so exciting to cultivate- and to harvest- and to send pictures back home bragging about what we were able to grow in our amateur garden.

It's been a few years since we've grown anything around here- apart from a few pretty flowers- we've just been busy raising boys. I have several friends who have beautiful "square foot gardens" and I'm so envious. I really want to have some green growing around here again, so we're ready to try again. This time, though, we're trying container gardens. We don't have the space to put anything in the ground, and we may be moving, so this keeps our garden mobile! We'll see how it goes... but honestly, I'd be happy with just one garden fresh tomato- I have my salt and pepper ready!

Happy Summer,


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Meal Plan- with all those new recipes!

I finally have a chance to post our meal plan while my mom was here. We had a great visit and it was fun to try out some new recipes. I can't believe May is over- bring on summer!Monday- grilled hamburgers and baked potato quicksides (This was my mom's first time to try the quicksides and she really liked them. They're so easy!)

Tuesday- pork chops with avocado salsa and mexican rice (So zesty and delicious!)

Wednesday- parmesan chicken (with fresh greens and lemon vinaigrette) and spaghetti (Love the fresh greens with the chicken- a nice combination)

Thursday- fusilli with sausage, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes (This is a dish a friend introduced me to a couple of years ago and is a family favorite)

Friday- wild mushroom and vegetable gnocchi (We weren't a fan of this dish- we ate it, but no one enjoyed it. We won't be making it again!)

Saturday- chicken and sausage gumbo with french bread (My mom's specialty...always yummy!)

Sunday- grilled cheese sandwiches! (We needed a break after being in the kitchen all week!)
Now that our home life is settling down a bit, I'm going to try to get a container garden going. I think the kids will enjoy watching things grow- and hopefully it will "grow" a fondness for eating vegetables, too.
Let me know if you try any of these recipes- and what you think!
Happy Summer,

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Trying out some new meals...

I'm back! I had a great trip visiting my brother and sister-in-law and my new (oh so kissable) nephew. My hubby and kids did just fine without me; I knew they would. They even went on a camping trip while I was away! And I came home to a clean car, a clean house, and all the laundry done- thanks, hon!

My mom is visiting this week and as usual, she came loaded with recent magazines that tout new recipes. So, we have a fun meal plan this week! Last night we tried these pork chops with avocado salsa...Delicious!

I'm also in the process of setting up several of my recipes on and .... should be a nice way to stay organized and share meal ideas!

More to come soon,


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Packing up... and making sure the family is ready!

Tomorrow I get to fly to Texas (all by myself!) to meet my new nephew. He's a precious five weeks old and I cannot wait to hug and cuddle that baby boy.

In the meantime, since Mommy will be gone for almost five days, I need to leave my boys (Daddy included) with a home that is sane. So today was laundry day. Yes, I'm leaving the house with every once of laundry done. I'm sure I'll come home to a huge mound of it, but that's ok- I should have some work to do after having a nice break!
I also made a list of all the meal options that are ready in the freezer...
  • Lasagna- made some last week and doubled the recipe, so there's a pan in the freezer!
  • Orange chicken and rice- a quick meal, thanks to Costco
  • Pizza- crust, sauce, and all the fixins are in the freezer
  • Sloppy joes- made a double batch of the meat and froze half earlier in the week; Dad just needs to pair it with quickside potatoes, and dinner is done!

Of course, my hubby always does a great job taking care of the kids, even if I don't have freezer meals ready, but maybe this will make it easier. However, if he takes the boys camping like he says he is, I'll have several easy meals for when I get back home!

I'm going to miss my little family, but eager for this mini-vacation... now on to packing!

See you next week,


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Creative Ways to Include Veggies

So here are a few suggestions I've recently read about to help get more vegetables in my children's diets...
  • Make vegetables interesting by serving them shredded or julienned. Mix shredded carrots into applesauce for young children, or put them on a peanut butter sandwich - with or without raisins - for older kids.

  • Start a vegetable garden so that kids can eat the veggies they grow! We'll be trying this with container gardening soon...
  • Add pureed vegetables into soups, spaghetti sauce, and casseroles. You'll get extra vegetable servings in their diet, and they won't even know!

  • In order to cool down soups that are too hot for young ones, add frozen mixed veggies. They will begin to think of veggies as a way of making their food ready to eat quickly!

  • A child may need to be exposed to a certain food 10-15 times before he'll actually eat it. Continue to offer a variety of vegetables even if your child refuses to eat them.

Hang in there!


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco de Mayo!

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, we made these Mexican Bean Bracelets . It was a fun, easy project; I used some of my old Creative Memories scrapbook supplies as added decoration.

For tonight's meal, we're having Mexican, of course. Well, not authentic, but tacos at least- a really easy meal! And to try to interest my kids in expanding their tolerance for vegetables, I'm going to mix together black beans and corn. They really love beans, but aren't fans of corn- hopefully by combining the two they'll be more open to it. After dinner, hubby and I'll enjoy a margarita in honor of Mexican independence!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!


Monday, May 4, 2009

Fruits & Veggies

In an effort to get my kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, this afternoon we had smoothies for snack time and it was a hit...

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

2 bananas (peeled)
2 c. strawberries (fresh- washed and tops removed or frozen)
1 c. plain yogurt
1 c. milk

Combine fruit into the blender with yogurt and milk and blend. Serve and enjoy!

I love that there's good protein, and no added sugar. Now, to work on getting those veggies in them...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Meal Planning- Week 3 (more or less!)

So the meal planning is going pretty well. I'm not quite in the regimen of it the way I'd like, but we're getting there. Here's the meal plan for yet another week- I realize I'm late getting it posted. Once I get several weeks orchestrated, I should just be able to implement a rotation to keep it easy!

Monday- apricot glazed pork chops, baked potatoes, and asparagus

Tuesday- turkey soup, salad, and bread

Wednesday- taco salad with queso

Thursday- chili and cornbread

Friday- grilled hotdogs, chips, and applesauce (kids' choice night)

Thursday, April 23, 2009


The potato soup was great- tasted delicious and was so incredibly easy! I'll be trying some more recipes with these potatoes, too.

Get coupons here for the baked potato quicksides.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Trip to the Dentist and Potato Soup

I had a visit to the dentist today. Not one of the easy, cleaning and x-ray visits, either. The kind of visit where they use a drill and you come home with an achy mouth and a crown. A little ibuprofren is helping... in the meantime, I'm feeling the need to take it easy on my meals- think soft foods! So, tomorrow I'm going to try this potato soup recipe- sounds yummy and looks easy, so it meets the criteria!

Potato and Cheddar Bacon Soup
Prep and cook time: 23 minutes

Serving size: 2 cups
Numbers of serving: 4

1 tablespoon butter
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
½ cup green onion, chopped (optional)
1 (26 oz.) bag of frozen chopped baked potatoes with cheddar bacon sauce
3 ½ cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped chives

1- In a medium pot, cook onion in butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soften (about 5 minutes)
2- Add milk and a bag of potatoes with cheddar bacon sauce to onion
3- Cover and cook over medium heat until cheese is melted (about 8-10 minutes), stirring occasionally
4- Add salt, ground black pepper, and chives
5- Simmer 1 minutes and serve

I'll let you know how it turns out!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Reviving Leftovers

My husband is not a fan of leftovers. For years, I was the "leftover martyr" in our house- I would eat leftovers for lunches for days in a row to keep from wasting the food. I finally realized that if I would combine the leftovers with a "new" side item, it would seem like a different meal to the family. For instance, use the leftover ham from our Easter dinner, add a broccoli and cheese baked potato quickside, and a fresh salad- waalaa! A new meal!

If you're looking for a coupon for saving on these potatoes, click here!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Meal Plan Monday- Week 2

I can't believe how fast a week goes by. In keeping with my "new leaf," here's the meal plan for this week...

Monday- hamburgers and corn-on-the-cob (it's grilling weather here!)

Tuesday- lasagna, salad, and french bread

Wednesday- pulled pork sandwiches, sour cream & chive baked potatoes

Thursday- honey dijon chicken, rice, and green beans (yummy recipe- I'll try to post later!)

Friday- soft tacos and black beans (love keeping Friday nights easy, so we can enjoy our family time)

It's a pretty simple plan this week, but my boys will be full and happy! If anyone else has favorite dishes they put into their meal plans, I'd love to hear about them.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Meal Planning Monday

OK, here's my start to trying to get my meal plans in order. This is what I have on the menu for this week...

Monday- Turkey tortilla soup with cheesey biscuits (a family favorite)

Tuesday- Sloppy joes with broccoli and cheese baked potatoes (quick & easy side dish I found)

Wednesday- Chicken thai wraps with coconut rice (new recipe from a good friend)

Thursday- Elk steaks, sauteed mushrooms, baked potatoes

Friday- Pizza & salad (plus family movie night!)

Happy eating!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Leaf

Well, since Spring is here, it's the perfect time to turn over a new leaf. I'm going to get things in order around here- try to establish a meal plan, a daily schedule for the kiddos- just get a little more focused on home life. I've implemented meal plans before, but not stuck with it over the long haul. Our home is just a little more peaceful for everyone when mom has things under control (as much as she can with two young boys underfoot). Here goes!