Time for a check in...
It has been a long time since I've checked in. Sadly, I admit that I have dropped the ball with updates both to my blog and site. So, I believe it's time to do a series of updates. I plan to go through some of my previous projects and then hopefully can continue forward with whatever my next one is.
Since it has been a chunk of time that has passed, obviously my kids have gotten older. It really doesn't seem that long ago that my kids were little. Now, my oldest will be graduating from high school and from college with an associate's degree this spring! I can hardly believe it...I have3 teenagers! I just love them all! They make me happy and fill my heart with laughter.
Wow, it's already spring, 2015!
It's been so long since I've been jotting down things on here. Now, I realize one of my goals really should be to do that more often. Guess it's time for a little update...
My summary of life currently: A caring husband. A family pet that thinks he's a lap dog even though he's really bigger than that. Three kids and three different schools. The oldest just got her driver's license. It's kind of nerve-wracking for me, but she's a good kid and has been helping out with errands. The middle child is finishing up her last year of middle school. The youngest - it's his last year of elementary school. Which means it's my last year on the school's PTO board. In fact, I just finished my last book fair last month which was kind of bittersweet. Although, there are things I've enjoyed volunteering there, it is a really nice feeling to be "retiring" and moving on to something else (like blogging more). Still, there are things to get finished up and plans to make before school gets out. Let the three month countdown begin!
Spring cleaning at my home seems to have turned into cleaning out the old and replacing with new.
Aside from that, it feels like my house is kind of torn up right now. It's a mess with random projects going on. Paint samples, counter samples, old backsplashes ripped off, and random home improvement brochures. Of course, there are home-type magazines scattered across my coffee table, too. Looking for inspiration for my projects. I thought I was ready for change, but love some of the paint colors I already have and seem to be having a hard time letting go. Maybe I will just have to make a leap of faith that my new color scheme will turn out great, too?
My poor husband ends up dealing with my lunacy. The little projects I want to do around the house that begin to spiral into much larger ones. The one window that needed to be replaced - turned into four and some new insulation in the attic. At least it wasn't us having to do the work, just the pocketbook giving us the go ahead. Really, it's not like I start out planning to enlarge our projects. We've put new kitchen countertops on the back burner several times, in fact. We don't always "splurge" and try to do some of the work ourselves. However, now that we are moving forward with the kitchen counters...I, of course, wanted to get the bathroom ones updated, too. Hahaha!
Once each week, for the past several weeks, someone has been here to measure or install something. So, things are moving along. Insulation and a few new windows are now done. I have my cabinet color picked out to go with my future countertops. Now, it's time to settle on my paint choices for the connected rooms downstairs and the two bathrooms upstairs. Some more demo work needs to get done within the next couple weeks. It's hard to know if we really should add a few more things on our "to-do" list or not. We try to work smart and do things in a particular order so as not to have to go back and redo them later. Why have to do the same things twice if you don't have to? It's just going to cost more in the long run.
Moving forward, there's more demo work to be done, some backsplash tiles to pick out, and some painting. Ceiling and walls are first to be painted. Then, the upper cabinets. Yes, I will be painting the underside of them since it can be seen while sitting in the next room. After the counters are installed in a few weeks, we plan to tile the new backsplash and tub surround. Then I will paint the lower cabinetry. Plans, plans, plans... crossing my fingers that they go smoothly. Hoping to have a few before and after pictures to share soon, too!
Autumn Has Arrived!
During the summer baking and cooking can really add extra heat to an already warm day. However, once the weather starts to turn the warmth is nice. Baked goods and home-cooking makes me feel all cozy
Food for thought...
Yeah, I have been focusing more on making our meals lately, whether it's simply packing a healthier lunch or trying out some new recipe (or even an old one). Mostly, it's because I've been trying to mix things up for my family. Hopefully, they will end up eating a little better... that we aren't swinging by a fast-food place or calling in take-out as often as we have in the past. So far, it is going much better not eating so much fast food. No, we aren't the most healthy eaters. I will admit that, but we aren't the worst, either. We do eat things we like, but I'm working on substituting better ingredients and, of course, I read food labels and try to make better choices. I think there are plenty of us trying to find the healthier/better alternatives to some of our families' favorite (convenience) foods. There's so much information to digest (LOL). Hopefully, this will impact my family's health in the long run by making some changes (even little by little) to our food/eating habits .
Something new that I tried was a pumpkin oatmeal recipe in my crock-pot/slow-cooker. I liked it a lot. Some of the reviews I read said that is was much too sweet for their taste, so I reduced the sugar by half. Then I served it with milk and a little more brown sugar sprinkled on top. I love pumpkin…especially around autumn. If you like steel cut oats and pumpkin - give this recipe a try.
Since it had been a while, a few nights ago, I made some beef stroganoff (using organic lean ground beef), seasonings (garlic, onions, etc.), reduced fat cream of mushroom soup, sour cream from our local Smith Brothers Farms (yay! for deliveries), and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese on top. This was served over egg noodles. It turned out SO good. Yum!!! My husband was super happy with his dinner.
I tried another new recipe yesterday… or maybe it's more of a regular recipe, but that I'd never made it in my crock-pot before. We had made something similar in one of our Dutch ovens, so I figured it was worth a shot. Yep, I would make this again. Basically a breakfast casserole. Hash browns/breakfast potatoes of some sort, ham (or other cooked meat of your liking), cheese, and scrambled eggs all in one dish. The basic recipe I found online is entitled Slow Cooker Western Omelet, although I don't personally think it is "western" since it doesn't have chiles or tomatoes, beans, corn, or anything that screams "western" to me. However, I did top mine with sour cream & salsa when serving it. I do love ham & cheese omelets, though, and this was like that only cooked longer…more baked like a frittata. For mine, I used potatoes O'Brien, a Mexican blend of shredded cheese, dried onion, cubed ham, egg substitute & a little milk. Layer everything but the egg & milk (starting with potatoes). Mix the egg & milk together, pour over the layers and let cook. So simple. This would be great to have for breakfast the next morning since this can cook on low for a long time. Mine cooked all day and we had it for dinner instead. Like I said, I'm trying to mix things up a bit for my family. :)
Using my favorite Betty Crocker banana bread recipe, I made some banana-nut bread for this morning. This time I threw in some fun mini chocolate chips for more sweetness. Mmm…
happy kids = happy mama.
Lunches (or breakfast)- on the go!
Breakfast for lunch - bento style
Yep, kids get tired of the same ol', same ol' real quick. This morning, I decided to make some cute shaped hard-boiled eggs using some egg molds I purchased a while back off Amazon. What's breakfast without some OJ-type beverage (my kids love the SunnyD bottles on the go) and some fruit?!? Sliced apples (I cheated & used pre-packaged), grapes, and some strawberry yogurt for dipping. Plus, I thew in a cute little wooden "fork" to help dip the fruit. French toast that I cut into "sticks" (with a pizza cutter) and maple syrup to dip them in. Thanks to the little SOLO containers & lids this wasn't a big sticky mess to pack. Of course, I aanted to make sure they had some protein in there, so you can't forget the cute hard-boiled eggs that I got going first thing. Bonus for me…all three lunches were ready to go super quick since I was making them all the same.
Of course, the best part was the thanks I got from all three of my kids. :)
Getting the kids into their new school routines feels a little rough. Three kids to going to three different schools. Plus, my husband recently changed jobs and we are trying to get used to the slightly different schedule he has. Although I am missing the freedom of summer, the school-year and routines are nice in their own way, too.
So, while they are busy at school, I am keeping busy at home. Trying to catch-up on some house-hold chores I let slide a bit during summer while also trying to make sure to have dinner ready when my husband gets home. Yep, it might seem a little traditional or old-fashioned to some, but since I am able to, I stay at home so that we can have that kind of life-style.
So for something other than the summertime cuisine of burgers, grilled dogs, and pasta salads, I thought it was time for something a little different. What I made is very similar to a recipe for "Stupid Easy Chicken" posted on Crock Pot Divas Facebook page. Basically, the same thing with a few tweaks. Spiral pasta instead of Bow-Tie and I used Lipton's Onion Soup Mix instead of the Garlic & Herb Soup Mix. Since I didn't have any Italian tomatoes, I used regular diced canned tomatoes and added Italian seasoning and extra garlic powder.
Don't forget the dessert
Since I was heading to a meeting later. I thought I would make some dessert for my family and some of my PTO friends. Tried the Petite Chocolate Cherry Cheesecakes from an older Pampered Chef Recipe Book I have. Yum! We all liked them & I would make them again.
Summer's end - catch up
The end of summer crept up on me, but I wasn't quite ready to let go. Headed up to our trailer and spent some time doing a puzzle with my sweet husband. Ahhh…it was nice to spend some time together & relax.
I sure do love my coffee! My old Keurig went "ka-poot!" So, it was time for a new Keurig machine. This is so convenient for just a cup or two. It's great! Mmm...
My "baby" turned TEN! It feels so weird to realize he was born a decade ago! Yikes! Way to make a mama feel that much older. LOL
In August, I signed up to become an Independent Scentsy Consultant! Mmm… my house smells so good all the time. If you aren't familiar with their products (wax warmers and scented wax), check out my website or let me know & I will fill you in.
I had a lovely visitor for a couple of weeks over the summer. My niece wrote me this cute note when we were up camping. She wrote it on a napkin and put it with a coffee cup for my morning brew. So sweet.
While my niece was here, we also did some nail painting. Stripes for her. Watermelon for me! My girls had some fun with the polish, too. We just didn't get any pics of theirs. That's ok - we are always painting nails, it seems. :)
I bought this book and this "cupcakes and butterflies" kit at JoAnn's Crafts a while back. They had other kit options and plenty of bulk perler beads, too.
You could also buy a large container of "perler" beads at IKEA. When I bought them there they were listed at $5.99, I believe. That seemed like a good price to me.
So, the kids made their patterns and then I used my iron to fuse the beads together. Easy-peasy! Afterwards, I had some magnets that I wanted to add on the backside. Just glue-gunned them on.
After they were finished, I hung the magnets on the side of my fridge. Cute and handy creations!
Summer is great, but sometimes lunchtime seems a little boring. Just as I get tired of the same old thing...so do my kids. So, I decided to try something a little different. I only wish I'd tried out and learned a few tips sooner. Time for a fun bento inspired meal...at home. So, I skipped the "box" and served it on square plates to give it a more "boxed" feel Can't forget the chopsticks, either! Of course, I packed the extras into a bento box for my husband to enjoy when he got home.
Of course the easiest way to make lunch more fun is with some cookie-cutters. I love my old Pampered Chef Kids Cutters set. I've used it so many times! The flower is big enough that it doesn't waste much from a standard sandwich bread slice...so it's perfect for a cute sandwich minus the crust. Of course, I cut out the lunchmeat and cheese to match. I also use the Pampered Chef Creative Cutters Set, too....for things like meat/cheese for crackers or to cut shapes in slices of fruits/veggies.
My kids do like hard-boiled eggs, so I thought I would make them a little more fun. So, I bought some egg molds. I boiled my eggs and following some recommendations, then I began getting the egg molds wet. As I peeled each of the warm eggs, I placed them each in a mold, locking the mold, and placing it directly in a bowl of ice water to cool. I left them in the ice-water for a bit to ensure they would hold their shape.
I ordered a "sushezi" to make some sushi-type rolls and thought I'd give it a try. Worked great. Next time I will wrap my roll(s) in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a while before serving, though.
I wasn't so sure about this... I have to say that it turned out better than I thought. Sliced into thin strips, pan-fried and placed in the center of the "sushi" roll. It was yum.
Thanks to Costco, you can get small sheets of seaweed easily! It's a nice and salty snack even on its own, too. I just used these little sheets to wrap my "sushi" roll. They worked out pretty well.
One of the tricks I learned was to make "sticky rice" you need to soak the short-grain rice for at least 30 minutes prior to turning on the rice cooker. I have to tell you that it really worked great. I used rice molds on some of the extra rice, too! They held up great! Mmm...I got to enjoy some sweet sticky rice later with sweetened coconut milk.
Friday was fun! I took my kids to see the movie Despicable Me 2. We ate a bunch of popcorn, while we were there. Afterwards, we walked around looking at booths during Cornucopia Days. When we were through...we went to McD's drive-thru to get some ice cream cones. When we got home, we had a dvd to watch together, too. It really was a good day.
Saturday was simple. We all watched some tv, did some chores around the house and yard, and I reorganized a few kitchen cabinets, too!
Sunday dinner - my husband grilled some teriyaki chicken and baked potatoes for us. Yum!!!
Did I mention he cooked us eggs & turkey-bacon for breakfast, too? Lucky me - no cooking for me today!
Monday, I started the morning off with happy kids. Thanks to my son's request, I made them some chocolate-peanut butter pancakes with bananas (my idea to add some fruit, not my son's - LOL), mini chocolate chips, syrup and some whip cream to top it off! Afterwards, I enjoyed my coffee along with a lovely cool breeze that was coming in through all the windows.
Being in such a summery mood, I decided to make some jell-o for after dinner dessert. So after I made that, we made and all enjoyed some shaved ice. Later we munched on some chilled watermelon. Mmm... Then, I decided to make some sort of pasta salad for our dinner. Rotini, cherry tomatoes, olives, summer sausage, yellow bell pepper, cucumber, and bits of carrots were thrown together and chilled with some Italian dressing. When I served it, I sprinkled some shredded Italian cheese blend on the top. Ahhh.... gotta love those easy going summer days.
It's been a warm day, although overcast. Tonight, as I sit here typing this, it's time for a cool drink. So, I'm sipping on a mixture of a non-alcoholic "mocktail" I made from TGI Friday's® Hard Lemonade Mix, Sierra Mist and sliced lemons.
We are kind of 'home-bodies" at times and it's nice to be home with my kids. AND I'm grateful that I can be. I'm thankful for the time I have with them.
Now, I'm gonna go watch a show with my husband. He's patiently waiting for me. I hope you all enjoy the rest of the week!
My name is Candie. Many labels describe me including wife, mom, friend, and independent consultant. However, alone, none of them capture all that I am or love and there are too many to list. Some of my likes include cooking, crafting, and creating. Reading, camping, and spending time with my family also bring me joy. I love my life...