26 August 2010

Silhouette...I want to WIN!!

A while ago on HowDoesShe?, I saw them mention a Silhouette. Do you know what a Silhouette is? It's like my dream crafting machine! It does the exact same things as a Cricut (probably more), but without any cartridges! You can use fonts from your computer and you can download their designs directly from the Silhouette website, many for less than $1.00. Then you can use it over & over & over again. How great!

The Shabby Nest, Under the Table & Dreaming, Grosgrain, and Kara's Party Ideas are all giving one away on their blogs and I'll be honest, I want to win! I'm entering all ways that are possible. However, now that you see this, I'm sure you're going to run over and enter too, which will even further decrease my chance of winning. Just promise me this, if you are a friend of mine in real life and you win, will you please let me come over to play???

This is the third round of Silhouette giveaways that I'm entering...hoping third time's a charm!

25 August 2010

Your Dream Home

UPDATE: Go check out what she did with that kitchen. It is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I think a lot about our dream house. I don't mean some enormous mansion with maids quarters or anything like that. I think about our attainable dream house. The house we'll (hopefully) build next...out in the country, one county over in my school district of choice. I often put off things in the house we're living in now because I'm thinking about our dream house. 

Then I read this post from The Nester. It made me think. We're in no real hurry to move out of our current house. It's plenty big, fits all our needs (and most of our wants), in a great neighborhood with a pool. So, why am I always thinking about our dream house? I need to make this house, our current home, into what we want it to be. Hopefully whatever changes we make (as we can afford them) will help our home to sell quickly in the future, but mostly I hope it will make us fall even more in love with our house.

Speaking of making your current house your dream home, check out Rare & Beautiful Treasures. She's up for quite the challenge over the next year. She recently went from this kitchen...

to this kitchen... 

They recently sold their true dream home and moved into someone else's home to house sit (& rent) for a year. I'm sure God has a great plan for their lives as they go on this "against the grain" adventure.

24 August 2010

Quilt productivity!

I know that fall is on its way...not only because the long-range forecast has zero days with highs in the 90s (praise God!!), but because I'm getting the urge to quilt. I pretty much only get the urge to quilt or sew when it's getting (or has already gotten) cold. Now, make no mistake. It won't be COLD here for a very long time, but my mind likes to jump there after a brutally hot summer. I've caught myself wearing jeans just because I want to (definitely no need with the heat), smelling pumpkin candles at the store, and constantly squelching the urge to put out my fall decor (I have to wait until Labor Day weekend - then it's on!). Oh I'm longing for cool fall days, a trip to the pumpkin patch, and FOOTBALL! OK, I'm digressing...

Anyway, about my productive day... I decided this weekend that it was time to start a new quilt, but I didn't want to spend much money (hopefully no money) on it. So I searched through my mother-in-law's fabric stash, as well as my own. I found lots of fabrics that would be fun and coordinate well. I even found a piece in my own stash large enough for a backing. After pulling together lots of fabric remnants, washing, drying, and finally ironing, I got to cutting. You see, I want to make my own version of this quilt.

I instantly fell in love with this quilt and I bookmarked the blog post on the spot. I just thought the raw-edge appliqué was so neat and I loved the randomness of the fabrics. This afternoon and evening, I cut all my squares...48 8-inch square and 48 6.5-in squares (which now have to have circles cut out of them). With a two-year old, a dog, and a hungry husband, this certainly didn't happen without interruption, yet I still managed to get so much done. I even managed to finish the book on CD from our trip this weekend. 

I'd call all that quilt prep a very productive day. Now let's hope I didn't spend all my productiveness on the first day of the week!

23 August 2010

Meal Plan Monday

We're home from a long weekend at the beach with 6 adults and 5 children. Did I mention those kids were all between 1.5 and 3.5 years old? And that 4 of the 5 kids were BOYS!

We had a loud, crazy, and fun weekend, but here's where I'm enjoying all the hard work of my freezer cooking. I won't be cooking much this week so I can catch up with laundry, housework, attend MOPS meetings to prepare for the upcoming year, appointments, finishing two great books (one paperback & one audio from our beach trip), and start a new quilt!

Here's our menu for the week...
Monday: Stuffed Shells (freezer) with Homemade Pasta Sauce (canned last summer)
Tuesday: Chicken Pie & Green Beans (canned this summer)
Wednesday: Cookout with my in-laws
Thursday: Stuffed Buffalo Chicken (freezer)
Friday: Pizza Night! I'm going to attempt homemade using these tips, which include a recipe for you bread machine!

Maybe I'll get back to some sort of regular blogging as well...then again, maybe not! :)

As always, check out OrgJunkie for lots of other meal plans.

16 August 2010

Meal Plan Monday & August Freezer Cooking Wrap-Up

I'm all done with my freezer cooking! I ended up ditching two recipes (Monster Cookies & Breakfast Scones...we have plenty of breakfast items & I don't need any more cookies!), but I still have plenty of food for us to eat. 

Final Freezer Cooking Count:
Granola - gallons size bag
Granola Bars - 20 bars (diminishing quickly!)
Cinnamon Rolls (tons!)
Cheesy Sausage English Muffins - 21
Buffalo Chicken Wraps - 12
French Dip Sandwiches - 2 meals
Blue Cheese Stuffed Chicken - 16
Stuffed Shells - gallon size bag full!
Lasagna - 3
Chicken Divan - 2

I'm going to start making use of these meals in our Meal Plan this week!
Monday - Lasagna & Salad
Tuesday - Chicken Divan
Wednesday - Roast Beef Sandwiches
No need to plan for more than that, because we're off to a mini-vacation with some friends. 
5 kids under 3.5 years old. Should be loud & fun!

Of course we'll be eating out of the freezer for breakfasts and leftover for lunch. Yay for less cooking! 

Two tips that really worked well for me during this freezer cooking frenzy:
1) Break up your cooking. I ended up spreading out my freezer cooking over 4 days, when it was convenient for me. I'd cook until I got tired and then I stopped. I got it all done without getting burned out.

2) Make portions work for your family. In my family, we have my hubby, Little Man (who's two), and myself. Little Man sometimes doesn't eat what we eat at dinner (due to pickiness or time of our dinner), so I generally plan for two servings + lunch leftovers. Many recipes are too big for just what we need, so I flash froze a ton of food so now I can just take out a few servings. 
I use the Pioneer Woman's recipe for Lasagna. She has 4 older kids plus cowboys to feed. That recipe is simply too much for us to eat at once, so I split the lasagna recipe into 3 smaller containers. This is the PERFECT amount for us, plus I'm saving money by spreading this recipe out into three meals + leftovers. Wahoo for saving money!

My Little Man was AWESOME at self-entertaining while I cooked away. Thank you God!

And obviously my multi-tasking skills were lacking when I made yet another sink of dishwater. Caught this just in time!

Be sure to check out lots of other meal plans at OrgJunkie!

Recipe Review: Cheesy Sausage English Mufflins

This is a recipe my mom has been making for us since we were kids. We loved it then and still love it to this day (she made them last weekend when we were visiting...yummy!). They are perfect to make ahead of time, keep in the fridge or even freeze (which is what I did). Here's the recipe.

Breakfast Sausage (hot or regular...your preference)
Cream Cheese
English Muffins
Shredded Cheese

1. Brown sausage and drain fat.
2. Return sausage to pan, then add Velveeta & cream cheese to your liking (For 2lbs of sausage, I used about 1/3 big block of Velveeta and 1/3 block of cream cheese - both cut into small chunks). Melt cheeses in pan with sausage until completely combined. Remove from heat.
3. Split English Muffins in half, then spoon sausage mixture on top.
4. Top with shredded cheese.

ready to be baked or frozen - your choice!

To bake now: put in oven at 350 until cheese is melted and slightly brown.

To freeze: flash freeze, then transfer to freeze bag or freezer safe Tupperware. To eat one, take out and microwave for about 30 seconds, then put in oven/toaster oven to crisp up. To eat many, let sit out for a few minutes, then bake in 350 oven until cheese is melted and slightly brown.

You can really kick this recipe up a notch by adding some Rotel...YUMMO!

Recipe Review: Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes

I frequently make up a big batch of pancakes, flash freeze, then we'll eat them for breakfast. This is a favorite of both mine and Little Man's. I was trying to think of a way to make them a little healthier, so I tried out this Whole Wheat Pancake recipe and added blueberries. Verdict: Little Man LOVED them and I did not. Glad he likes healthy things...I'll stick to my regular pancakes, thank you very much!

12 August 2010

Freezer Cooking: Thursday Night Update

First, let's take a moment to enjoy a clean kitchen...it happens so infrequently!

OK, now that we've basked in the cleanliness, let's review what I got done in less than an hour:

(1) chicken slowly cooking (decided to do that overnight so I can get finished a littler earlier tomorrow)

(2) made homemade granola bars (btw...chopping dried cherries is gross)

Update: I just cut into these and they are YUMMY! My sweet hubby even gave his approval.

(3) homemade granola in the oven (it will be done in the morning)

I took pictures of all my ingredients as I was going along. I wasn't going to post them, but as I looked at them I started to die laughing! Notice a common theme? I think Walmart should pay me for free advertising of their Great Value brand. What can I say, it is a great value (read: it's cheap!).

Now my kitchen is clean again, the chicken is slowly cooking, the house smells like delicious cinnamony goodness, and I'm enjoying an amazing glass of wine while watching the Panthers pre-season game. 
What a great way to end the evening!

Freezer Cooking Plan

It's Thursday night. We've eaten dinner. The kitchen is clean & organized. I'm no longer afraid to open my Tupperware cabinet. I just sat down to make a "plan of attack" for my August freezer cooking. Here's what I've come up with.

Thursday night:
  1. Make Granola Bars & freeze
  2. Make Granola (leave in oven overnight)

  1. Start Cinnamon Roll Dough in bread machine
  2. Cook Chicken in Crockpot for Chicken Divan & Buffalo Chick Roll-ups
  3. Make Blueberry Pancakes, flash freeze, & eat for breakfast. 
  4. Roll out, slice, & flash freeze cinnamon rolls.
  5. Assemble Stuffed Buffalo Chicken & freeze
  6. Assemble Chicken Divan & freeze
  7. Assemble Buff Chick Roll-ups & freeze
Excited to NOT cook dinner after all that time in the kitchen...celebrating our nephew's 13th birthday with PIZZA!! :)

  1. Make Oatmeal Raspberry Scones – eat for breakfast & flash freeze the rest.
  2. Brown sausage & assemble Cheesy Sausage English Muffins (I'm sure my guys will choose to eat these immediately. It's a crowd pleaser!)
  3. Cook beef in crockpot for French Dip sandwiches
  4. Make lasagna & freeze (this makes a HUGE 9x13, so I'm going to make 2 smaller 8x8 pans) 
  5. Make stuffed shells & freeze
  6. Assemble French Dip Sandwiches for freezer
  7. Make monster cookies & freeze
After all that, I'll be wiped out but we'll have plenty of easy meals and I won't have to cook for quite some time! :)

11 August 2010

Child-free day!

I never thought I'd enjoy a day of mundane errands so much, but making 8 stops in less than 4 hours without a child in 100-degree temperatures actually relaxed me!

Here's how my day went: Drop off Little Man at Nana's and begin errand mania:
1) Drop load at Goodwill
2) Make deposits at bank
3) Take load to Consignment Store (wait for them to sort through and find adorable Kelly's Kids shirt for $6!!)
4) Mall to pick up a)new cable remote & b)ProActiv (because my face hasn't figured out I'm in my late 20s!)
5) Run through Chic-Fil-A and enjoy lunch all by myself parked in the shade listening to what I want to on the radio without Nemo and toddler-noise in the background.
6) Sam's Club (stocking up for freezer cooking this weekend)
7) Walmart (finished up my freezer cooking shopping)
8) Library to return overdue books (oops!)

That doesn't sound very relaxing, but seriously I enjoyed every second! There was no in & out of the car seat, snack cups, toddler-meltdown from being drug all over kingdom come, gotta be back in time for nap, blah blah blah! I'm sure that's a sign that I just needed some time to myself. This past week has been a tough one and it was good to just enjoy some solitude (even in the midst of lots of people).

Best of all, after I got home and everything unpacked, I still had a little over 2 hours before I needed to pick my Little Man up so my DVR and I got reacquainted. Wahoo!!!

10 August 2010

August Freezer Cooking: Recipes to Try

I seem to have lost some all of my cooking mojo this summer. I'm not sure if it's the heat, laziness, or what, but I just don't have much desire to cook. Our food budget has definitely shown my kitchen slack and it's time to get everything back in check.

My plan is to do a big round of freezer cooking this weekend to help us get back on track. I've been perusing lots of food blogs to pull together some new recipes, as well as some of our favorites to freeze this weekend. Here are the recipes I plan to make. If you have any other suggestions for meals that freeze well, please share them!

Blueberry Pancakes
Oatmeal Raspberry Scones
Cheesy Sausage English Muffins
Cinnamon Rolls

French Dip Sandwiches
Buffalo Chicken Wraps
Chicken Divan
Stuffed Buffalo Chicken
Stuffed Shells

Monster Cookies
Granola Bars

I should add that many of these recipes stemmed from Once A Month Mom. Love to adapt her cooking plans to work for our tastes!

09 August 2010

Meal Plan Monday: Back to Life, Back to Reality...

I've taken a break this summer...from routines, blogging, cooking, working out regularly, cleaning, and anything else that typically resembles my life. This summer has had some ups and downs, but it's time to get back to normal. I love routine...thrive on routine! So, here's my first attempt to getting back to normal: Meal Plan Monday!

Trying to finish up some food we have on hand this week, then do a big batch of freezer cooking this weekend in hopes to (1) avoid cooking daily in this heat and (2) going out because I don't want to cook/forgot to pull something out/just too lazy.

Monday: Cheeseburger Mac-n-Cheese (already had cooked elbows & browned hamburger in the freezer - easy meal!)
Tuesday: Baked Chicken, Broccoli, & Rice
Wednesday: Beef Stew (have a huge bag of leftover frozen roast & veggies...add some beef stock and we'll have a deliciously easy meal)
Thursday: Sausage, Peppers, & Pasta (finishing up half a box of pasta & using Italian sausage from the freezer)
Friday: PIZZA! :)

Weekend: YOYO (You're On Your Own) while I freezer cook

Check out other Meal Plans at OrgJunkie.