Love Story

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mac N Cheese with Steak and Sauteed Onions and Mushrooms

On the continued quest to use up the stockpile of Kraft Mac N Cheese I got on sale, I tried out another variation on the tired boxed pasta. Last time it was Chicken, Bacon, Ranch Mac N Cheese. This time I decided to go for steak with sauteed onions and mushrooms. Let me tell you, this was delicious! Hearty too. Throw a salad on the side and it felt like I was eating a real meal.

2 boxes Kraft Mac N Cheese
1 and 1/2 sticks butter, separated 
1/2 c milk
2 c chopped steak meat
1/2 an onion, sliced
8 oz sliced mushrooms

1. Cook macaroni according to package directions.

2. If using uncooked steak (leftovers would work well too), cook in medium pan at medium high heat. I used some flank steak we had from my in-laws cow and it cooked up quickly. Remove to a plate once fully cooked. (Mine was bland so I through it in a ziploc with some steak sauce...delicious!)

3. Put 1/2 stick of butter in warm steak pan. Once melted add onions and mushrooms and saute until soft and brown. (I used red onion since I had it on hand but whatever you prefer works). Turn the heat down to low and add steak back in to warm it up.

4. Drain and stir in 1 stick of butter, milk and cheese packets provided. Add in onion, mushroom, steak mixture and stir. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mommy Meltdown

I wish I could tell you all that I had it all together all the time. Shoot, I wish I could just pretend that about myself! But the truth is, sometimes it is hard. Sometimes things pile on top of each other until I just can't take it anymore. This leads to what I like to call a mommy meltdown.
Now meltdowns aren't something that just started happening once I had children. I have them from time to time when life becomes overwhelming. I suspect that if I were to ask my mom about it she would confirm that this has been going on since I was old enough to whine or through myself on the floor. But mommy meltdowns are a whole new level of losing it. Maybe because once you become a mom you start juggling a lot more. I can handle a lot more on my plate then I could pre-kids and be okay. But when the right circumstances hit, when you combine new baby with things piling up around the house and new responsibilities outside the house, you create the perfect storm.
I had said meltdown last night. Fortunately not taking it out on my children, which I hate to admit does happen from time to time, but instead in the form of losing it in front of my husband. The whole self-deprecating speal, with tears of course, about how I am a failure and not cutting it and can't do what other moms/wives seem to be able to do. Of course my husband being the amazing man he is and having been subjected to such tirades for the past 7 and 1/2 years, knew exactly what to do. First he tried countering my negativity by telling me all the things I DO get done and that I shouldn't compare myself to others and that I don't give myself enough credit. This didn't work to calm me down but it is always nice to hear that he feels that way. He then did the thing that always makes the biggest difference and asked, "What do you need me to do?" These seven words are always enough to bring me down from my ledge. It is like in a movie when someone is threatening to jump, and you know they don't really want to, and someone peeks their head out of the window to talk them down. Just having that support and knowing someone is there for you can be enough to change the situation.
In talking through the things that I needed help with to feel like I could get done what I wanted to and attempt to be the person I want to be, we came up with some good stuff. He has also been great at reminding me that I always feel this way when we have a baby in the house and that this too shall pass. He is right. I wish I didn't need such frequent reminders lately but that is why I am so glad he is here. I can't even begin to imagine trying to walk this road all by myself. More than being for me in that moment, as if that wasn't enough, he is forcing offering to give me some much needed "me" time on Friday morning. From getting up and getting only myself ready while he prepares the kids to having an hour to hit a coffee shop all by myself. He is going to tackle all 3 kids for the morning so that I can have some peace and hopefully regain my sanity for another week What a wonderful man!! He knows me so well and this is exactly the kind of thing that will recharge my batteries and help me to do my job as wife and mother that much better.
I wish I could say I was perfect. But I take comfort in knowing that I am not alone on this imperfect journey. Here's hoping the next mommy meltdown is miles away!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Family Game Night - We went fishing!

Last night was family game night. Well, for the boys anyway. I ended up tending to an unusually fussy baby who had gotten shots earlier that morning. But it was fun nonetheless. We were going with a fish theme so we played Go Fish (with Superhero Squad cards of course!) and Let's Go Fishin'.

Boys are still learning so cards get laid out on the floor
Jordan's so talented he can play with his feet:)
"I got a 5!"
Practice for their real fishing trips one day!

I wanted to make a theme appropriate dessert to go with it so I came up with my own recipe. I made some dough ( I used the Betty Crocker recipe for 1 pie crust) and cut out some fish shapes. I then sprinkled them with sugar and baked them at 425 degrees for about 7 minutes.

Once they came out I topped one side with cream cheese and the other with strawberry jam and then sandwiched them.

Finally I put them in the refrigerator to set. Let me give you some tips if you are considering making these: Spread your cream cheese and jam on the side of the pastry that was on the pan. It is smoother and spreads better. Also, I wouldn't sandwich them next time. They were messy and crumbly. I would just spread cream cheese on a single fish and then top it with the jam.

That was our family game night! I love that the boys are getting to an age where we can do fun things together. I can't wait until they are old enough to play Monopoly:)

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wipe Off Weekly Menu Board

 As I was reading through some of my favorite blogs this week, I came across a link to this wipe off weekly menu board and knew it was just right for me. I love, love, love (did I mention love?) being crafty but it has taken a backseat since my free time is pretty much non-existent with an infant in the house. But my nights are slowly becoming my time again and I am ready to start spending them doing something more productive then watching our latest Netflix movie and snacking on whatever I can get my hands on. To ease myself in I picked this super easy project that I happened to have all the materials on hand for and that I knew could be accomplished in a short amount of time. Not to mention that I menu plan every week anyway and this cute board sure beats my crumpled piece of computer paper hanging on the fridge!

What you'll need:
*Picture frame with glass front (whatever size fits your kitchen space, I used an 8x10 but I think a 12x12 would be even better)
*Patterned scrapbook paper, cut to fit your frame if necessary
*Dry erase marker
*Vinyl letters, cut out letters or stickers (optional as you could hand write them also)

1. If using lettering on your scrapbook paper, do this first. My Cricut would have worked great for this but it was late and I didn't want to haul it out so I used my hand held cartridge letter punch. These letters turned out to be the right size for my frame. (Ignore the crookedness of the letters, it was midnight and somewhat dark in my house when I finished this...the beauty of it is I can always redo it later!). Place the finished paper inside your frame like you would a picture:

2. Use a dry erase marker to fill in your menu (again please ignore the sloppy handwriting, I was trying to finish but should have taken my time for a prettier picture):

3. Hang it where it you'll see it and use it most!

I am absolutely in love with this project because it is simple and because it takes something that I have to do every week and makes it a prettier part of my kitchen. I think this would also make an awesome gift for the meal planner in your life! It is versatile could make a weekly chore list for your kids or a to do list for yourself. I know I have tons of extra frames sitting around that are dying to be put to good use.

Friday, September 24, 2010

World Vision and My First Giveaway!!

 I was recently chosen to host a party for World Vision through House Party. If you haven't checked this out yet you should definitely take a moment and sign up. Basically you are given the opportunity to host themed parties that range from Star Wars to PS3 to Folgers or Kraft. When chosen you receive a party pack of free stuff for you and your friends to get the word out about a product. Pretty cool! This is my second party in the last 6 to 9 months and I haven't signed up for many. They email you with new opportunities and you take a 5 minute survey to see if you qualify. This particular party pack came with all of this:

If you aren't familiar with World Vision, it is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice.
Inspired by Christian values, they are dedicated to working with the world’s most vulnerable people. They serve all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. Through World Vision you can sponsor a child for a little over a dollar a day. The organization not only benefits the individual children but also works within communities to help them overcome poverty.

I could go on and on but really it is something that you should check out for yourself. Realize that other than the goodies for my party, I get nothing for talking about World Vision. I just wanted to pass on this worthy cause to those of you who may have a heart for those in need. If you would like to know more you can check out the info here. Now some of you are thinking, okay already, I read this far so where is that giveaway? I would like to pass on to one of my readers a goody pack similar to what my guests will be getting. Actually, it will be better as it also contains an apron! Here is what you are trying for:

Apron, tote, spatula, bracelet, $10 off Woman of Faith (including 2011 dates), info on Sponsoring a child

So what do you have to do to get it you ask? Check out the link I listed above (this for those of you who don't want to scroll up) and then leave a comment answering this question: How many children die each day, mostly from preventable causes? I will take responses until Thursday September 30, 2010 at 8:00 PM PST. Using a random number generator I will plug in the number of comments and allow it to pick a number from that. If the first number chosen is a comment containing a wrong answer, I will chose a new number until a winner is found. Good luck!!

** Want extra chances to win?
-Mention this on Facebook, Twitter or in your blog. Leave an additional comment saying you did so for an extra chance to win.
-If you decide to sponsor a child, give a donation or purchase a gift based on what you see after visiting the World Vision website, leave another comment letting me know. (Use my host code 129014700 if asked when checking out and they may send you a copy of best-selling book "The Hole in Our Gospel") 

***This giveaway has ended***


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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

These are the sounds of my house

I remember a day pre-kids when 5:45 am was an awakening time saved for the rarest occasion. A fishing trip, an opening shift at McDonalds, or a procrastinated project to finish in college. And I can probably count all of these times on one hand. But ever since Nathan was born, 5:45 has become an all too familiar wake-up time. I have never been a big fan of extra sleep as there is just too much to do and there is so much  I might miss out on if I am sleeping. I think that this is one of the many ways Nathan is just like me. Now over the last year or two it has gotten better. Depending on whether or not he napped and what time he went to bed he will stretch out his wake-up time until 6:30 or 7:00. This may seem early to most but it feels like sleeping in around here. Of course now that Isaiah is here he presents a whole new factor in when we wake-up.

Last night Jeremy worked night shift so in typical fashion I didn't get to bed until around midnight. For those of you who have to spend evenings alone for whatever reason, do you find it as hard as I do to crawl into bed without your spouse? Maybe it will get easier over time but since he is on rotating shifts I go through this every two weeks and it doesn't seem to get better. Anyway, Isaiah started fussing shortly after 1:00 so I sleepily dragged myself to his room and brought him back into my bed where I could nurse him and drift off to sleep. Fast forward to 5:30 and I can tell that nursing and snuggling is no longer going to cut it to keep him asleep. Jeremy must have gotten off work early because when I stretched out I found him passed out on his side of the bed. As I laid there trying to soak up every last minute that Isaiah would give me before it was absolutely necessary to get up with him, I heard stirrings from Thing 1 and Thing 2. Sure enough within 5 minutes half the lights in the house were on and they were on a mission to find something fun to play with. I knew I needed to track down a binky but was dreading leaving my dark warm room for the colder and way too brightly lit living room. Nonetheless I drug myself out of bed and fumbled into the living room grabbing for a binky in the last spot I remembered putting it. I found the boys at the living room table playing their new Go Fish game and reminded them to do so quietly so that the rest of us could get a little more sleep.

At this point I went back into my room and as I was wrapping Isaiah up tightly in his blanket I happened to glance up at the clock. 5:45 was staring back at me. I don't know what it is about that number but it just must be my fate. I began rocking and shushing my fussy baby and the sounds of the house became ever noticeable. Jeremy was snoring as so often is the case after his first night shift and being up for almost 24 hours straight. Grace, our clingy cat who is only comforted by my presence in a room, must have heard me stirring and was planted firmly outside my door crying for me to come out and keep her safe. The soundtrack began to play in a somewhat cohesive rhythm of snore, snore, rock, rock, shush, shush, MEEEOOOWW, "Brother, I got a 4!". This combination of noise could drive a sane person crazy at this hour in the morning, but for me, these are the sounds of my house. And while I would never turn down some extra sleep, I wouldn't trade in these noises for the silence we used to know.   

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Psalm 23

As another year of Journey Together (my woman's bible study) begins, I am excited to not only get back into relationship with some amazing ladies but also to get back into the word. I hate to admit it but when summer hits and my focused studies end I tend to let my personal reading time drop as well. So this morning when Isaiah was not wanting to settle at 4:45 am I decided to pull out my bible and my current study and dive in. This year I am leading the group so I find it even more important to stay committed to my reading. We are beginning an 8 week study on trust and starting with Psalm 23. Even those of you who don't know any or many bible verses from memory, you will likely know this one as it is one of the most famous passages in the bible. I actually think the more you think you know it, the more you need to spend time really reading it. I know that I have heard this verse more times than I can count but it wasn't until this morning when I read over it several times and began to break it down that it was really able to speak to me about what it means to have God as my shepherd.

I love verse two when David talks about how, "He makes me lie down in green pastures," referring to the Lord giving him rest. Not just any old rest but contented and secure rest. Boy does that sound good to this tired mama! The passage continues on describing how like a shepherd does with his sheep God leads, guides and restores us. Then verse 4 says, "your rod and your staff, they comfort me." This made me stop and think. How does a shepherd use a rod? It is used for counting, guiding, rescuing and protecting. No wonder it is comforting to the sheep. If one of them wanders off, the shepherd will know because he keeps count of each sheep. Not only will he know, but he will seek after that one sheep if it is lost. Just as Jesus seeks after us when we are lost. No matter how big the herd, just one of us straying is worthy of his time to bring us back. What an amazing thought! A shepherd will also use the rod to keep away any predators after his sheep. I like to think of Jesus swinging a big stick right at Satan every time he tries to go after one of his sheep. I know that it helps me to trust my Heavenly Father when I know that not only am I important to him but that He is always there to protect me and guide me and that even when I stray He will never stop seeking after me.

I think that being a mother is if not my main role, one of my most important roles at this point in my life. So I often take whatever I am learning and think of how it applies to motherhood. Written in my leaders guide as a note to this passage is a line that really made me think. It says, "God has called us to be shepherds of others but we cannot BE shepherds if we don't have a shepherd." If our purpose in life is to live like Jesus how can we do that if we don't know Him? Our children first experience God's love through our love. In the same way they first learn how to shepherd others by the experience of having us be their shepherd. Think about is our job to guide them, lead them down the right path. We assure that they get rest and that they are safe from harms way. When we become mothers we instantly become shepherds! I am always humbled by what God uses us women for. What a gift that we can be that kind of example to our children and that they can first experience God through us. Looking at it in that light and realizing that I am capable of shepherding others I feel challenged to be a shepherd outside of my own home. This is how I want to come across to the world so that when they are in my presence they can't help but see Jesus through me.

Sorry to get so long winded on you. I blame it partly on my dad who is notoriously long-winded, especially now that he preaches for a living! But it also speaks to the amount of truth this passage has revealed to me. I love when you can come away from time spent in the word changed by what you read. I hope that those of you who read this take some time to dive into this passage and let it truly wash over you and impact the way you think and live. I promise you won't regret it! And who knows, you might be the long-winded one unable to keep yourself from passing this on to others.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Family Movie Night

I have been talking lately about how we have been trying to be more intentional with our time as a family. While on one hand we are trying to be more disciplined financially and organizationally, we also want to be intentional in taking time to have fun with our kids. So one of the things we discuss every week as we sit down and discuss our upcoming weeks plans is Family Night. This week we decided on movie and pizza. We decided to let the kids make their own pizzas. This was not just the cheaper way to go but more importantly it makes for great memories. I really love spending time in the kitchen with the boys, it is such a great way to bond with them and they always have so much fun. Here is what our night looked like (the boys are a little hard to separate as grandma had just given them the same colored shirt and they have matching buzz cuts:) :

The movie
The food
Lots of cheese!
Jordan liked the pepperoni

Heavy on the olives
He's a one on the pizza two in my mouth kind of kid:)
Excited about his microwavable smore
Yum, Yum!

 On a side note we made our smores using then new Dark Chocolate Granola Thins from Nature Valley. I liked it! The granola was kind of sweet and the chocolate was already on there so you didn't have to buy it separately. The peanut butter ones would be good as well with a piece of chocolate on top, for those of you crazy people who actually like peanut butter;)

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Big Boy Capes

 I finally finished them!! The capes that were originally intended to be big brother gifts for the boys once Isaiah came. The ones I had all but finished the night before I was scheduled to go into the hospital and couldn't bring my 38 week pregnant, super swollen ankled, stressed out mama self to finish. So three and a half months later they are finally done. I didn't quite get the enthusiastic response I expected from the boys. Actually, that's not entirely true. Nathan was super excited and Jordan was passed out on the couch due to his cold. Nathan kept trying to wake him so they could play "Super Nathan" and shoved Jordan's cape in his face the minute he woke up. So needless to say, my cape crazy middle child did not respond too enthusiastically. But a few hours later when he had rested and spunked up some he got really excited about his Super Jordan cape.

I pretty much did this off the cuff, as has been the case with the majority of my sewing ventures. I did follow a measurement guideline I found here, but pretty much went from my heart. They aren't perfect but they are made with love for my two favorite superheroes:)

Nathan's cape  

The lining of Nathan's cape (robots)
Jordan's cape
The lining of Jordan's cape (dinosaurs)
Nathan's first reaction
Super Nathan
And he's off!
Super Jordan (and his sidekick Baby!)
So cute!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Leftover Oatmeal Muffins

Hope you all don't mind all these food posts!! Our schedule is picking up around here and I am feeling a little frazzled. Cooking is something that calms me. So is eating actually, so it is no surprise that I don't do so well in the weight department. Anyway, thought I would share this recipe that used the leftover oatmeal from the Peaches N Cream Oatmeal I posted yesterday. I am trying to do a better job of not being so wasteful and while we could eat the leftover oatmeal, it doesn't always actually happen. So I started looking for some recipes that included leftover oatmeal and found this one for muffins. I thought the peaches and cream would add an extra special touch and it did. The bonus was I also got to use my new Kitchen Aid that my in-laws gave me for my birthday. Let me just say I have a new love!! And it gave me the opportunity to spend some time in the kitchen with my two older boys. They like to help whenever I bake and did a great job helping make this muffins. I am excited to try this recipe with some of the other variations of oatmeal I am planning to make.

* 1 cup leftover, cooked oatmeal
* 3/4 cup milk
* 2 Tbsp melted butter
* 2 Tbsp syrup or honey
* 1 1/2 cups flour (I used white, the original recipe called for wheat pastry flour)
* 1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, combine leftover oatmeal and milk; using a wire whisk if needed to get lumps out of oatmeal. Add egg and mix well. Add melted butter and syrup or honey, mix well.
3. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add milk/oatmeal mixture and mix until combined, making sure not to over mix. Dived batter in muffin pan sprayed with non-stick spray. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.
4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool on cooling rack.

**In using my mixer I just did all of step two and then mixed dry ingredients in separate bowl. I then added dry ingredients into the wet ones already in the mixing bowl and finished mixing.

Don't they just look delicious? They are, trust me. They smelled and tasted like cake! I am so excited to not only found a recipe that will help me use up that extra oatmeal but also one that tastes so delicious. Planning to make a couple dozen tomorrow with the remaining oatmeal and then freezing them to have later for snacks/lunches/sides.

Okay, I wrote this right after eating them warm out of the oven. Once they cooled they weren't as good. Not horrible, but not good. The kids still liked eating them but Jeremy and I weren't too impressed. I think they need something more than honey or 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Also I think I would add in more of what was in the oatmeal, like peaches. Just to give it some more flavor. I am going to mess with this recipe and if I find something better I will repost. Let me know if you try something that works.

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