Tuesday, May 10, 2011


As many of us who get really into blogging for a while do, I have been a little slack for the past week or so about posting! Sometimes life gets so mundane that I don't feel like I have anything to write about, but I just like reading blogs to see what is going on with people I don't get to see very often, so I will write on! Today has been a great day; Ben's friend Matti Grey came over to play in his new swimming pool...let's see, I had ladies' devotional at my house last night, so Ben and Brad went out alone for 2 hours and came back with a Little Tykes T-ball set, a new (and might I add HUGE) pool, and an electric pump. I guess that's the risk I take when I send them out on their own. Many of you can recall the enormous bear that still takes up half of my den on a daily basis. Anyway! Ben loves it, and I love to see this smiling face, so that is all that matters!
Ladies' devotional was amazing last night! I had eleven girls over, made WAY too much food, and had a great conversation based on ways that we, as Christians, can identify with Springtime! (I'm sure you can think of oodles of correlations as well!) I do love how everything is so new in Spring! The trees, once dead-looking, suddenly are covered in new leaves. Vegetables, which start as tiny seeds, flourish into healthy and beautiful foods for us to eat. There were several applicable verses, but one of my favorites is, "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." Psalm 34:8
Speaking of new beginnings and growth, I was able to get a few of my pots planted this weekend. This is only my second year having a container "garden," and I have never really had a green thumb, but I am learning! I am most excited about my edible plants like this basil and rosemary (to the left) and my porch tomato below. My porch is absolutely blazing hot in the afternoon until the early evening, so I can only really plant full sun plants in my back yard. Herbs and veggies are perfect for the porch! I, with the help of my dad, also planted 2 tomato plants with cages in the back yard. This is our first experience with tomatoes, so if it goes well, we plan on planting more vegetables next year. I envy people who can go out in their yard and have their ingredients for lunch or dinner! We want to do that too! Finally, last year I planted a large palm tree in my largest planter, and we only planted annuals (don't come back every year) in our pots. I hate to spend so much money on annuals that won't be around for long. So, this year, instead of palms, I planted 4 arborvitae bushes in my 4 larges planters and surrounded them with annuals. That way, I spent less money on annuals plus, we will have 4 beautiful shrubs to plant in front of our shed out back at the end of the summer! I got the idea from a gardening magazine ,but I will be using it every year! Hope all is well with you! Happy week!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My lazy Sunday afternoon boys:)
Hi, everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend; we definitely did. We mostly did yard work on Saturday; thanks to my parents for their help, and we rested today! This was my favorite kind of weekend! I got really busy last week, so I didn't get to post much, but this week is looking a little clearer...we'll see!
I wanted to share a couple of things/recipes with you in case you are interested. I have always been a shopper who thought it was silly to buy a whole chicken uncooked when you can buy a rotisserie chicken already cooked and delicious for $4.99ish. But after this week, I am now convinced that, although rotisseries are great for quick, last-minute meals, a small roaster chicken is such a great value due to its ability to create multiple meals that my family loves! As I said last week, I was able to buy a 4 pound all natural roaster on sale for @2.75. I must admit I was a little terrified because I had never cooked a whole chicken before, and that just seems like something a mother or grandmother is supposed to be able to do...(wait, I am a mother now:). After quizzing a few people about their cooking methods, I decided on the trusty crock pot because why slave over a stove when you can throw it in and forget it! Here is the "recipe" I used, and the chicken fell of the bone and tasted awesome!
Roasted Crock Pot Chicken
1.)I cleaned, washed, removed parts from the chicken and patted it dry.
2.)In a small bowl, I mixed 4t salt
1t cayenne pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
2tsp paprika
1t onion powder
1/2 t black pepper + anything else you want to throw in.
3.) After rubbing the chicken (over and under the skin) with olive oil, I rubbed on the spices.
4.) I made 3-4 balls of wadded aluminum foil to place in the bottom of the crock pot.
5.) I placed the chicken on top of the aluminum foil and turned the pot on low for about 61/2-7hrs...YUM. (served with a pasta/veggie side,green peas, and crescent rolls). Then...
6.) I put skin and bones back into crock pot and added 4-5 cups of water to liquid remaining.
7.) Turn crock pot on low and let it go overnight. Strain liquid to remove skin/bones and you are left with amazing homemade chicken stock. Let it sit in the fridge for a night, skim the fat off of the top, and make recipe #2 with part of the remaining chicken.
Creamy Chicken Rice Soup
I know it is a little warm outside for soup, but this is amazing! Ben gobbled it up and called for more "hoop." I served mine with cornbread, and the next day, we ate a small cup of it with a half of a chicken salad sandwich (of course made with the last of the chicken from the crock pot!)
I chopped my chicken and added chopped celery, chopped and peeled apple, chopped walnuts, a little mayo, and salt and pepper. So good.
For most of you reading this, the fact that a chicken goes a long way is common knowledge, but I guess I didn't realize just how far! I have a small family now, but you can at least probably get two meals out of it with a family of 4. Also, you can obviously use your chicken in your favorite casserole, etc. too. I am definitely going to keep my eyes peeled for great prices on chicken from now on; what a value!
Ok, one last picture for the day. Kroger is again having a "mega" event, so this is a great time to stock up on grocery, cleaning, or personal items. This is a picture of what I bought today; I am going to do my regular shopping and a little more mega shopping tomorrow, but it is easier to go on Sunday afternoon while my two boys are napping! This is $57.10 worth of groceries that I bought for $14.38 today (20 items so that's .72 each). If anyone reading this is not a coupon person but wants to be, (and I'm not talking crazy stock-pile women) I would love to help; just ask! Or check out this article on "Learn to Coupon" from southernsavers.com, which I have put on here before. Happy shopping!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Back to Life...

This is at what my eyes have been looking the last week...ahhhhhh. But now, it's back to real life and being a real mom. Our cruise was even better than I could have imagined. Cruising is one of those things that people either love or hate; everyone has an opinion on it. After this past week, I can say that I am definitely a cruise fan. Granted we had beautiful weather all week, and the entire ship was filled with friends from State Farm, but the fact that cruises force you to leave cell phones, computers, and work at home is one of the main reasons we will be back again. We were aboard the Holland America ship The Noordam, and I loved everything about it; the people, the rooms, the food, the employees were all top notch. Thanks to our awesome parents, who kept Ben all week, I feel totally rested and am ready to get back into our normal routine at home.
Today, we grocery shopped, got printer ink, (yuck) and bought my large fern for the front porch urn. For you Lawrenceburg folks, the Weakley Creek Nursery has the best ferns in my opinion, but you have to get them before they are gone. Other than that, Ben and I are pretty much just enjoying each others company after a week of absence. I just wanted to share our meal plan for this week; I am looking forward to getting outside and grilling more as the weather warms up!
Monday: Tonight, I am going to be making an Unstuffed Pepper Bake. Brad and I both grew up eating stuffed peppers, but Brad doesn't love when the pepper doesn't get completely soft, so this is the perfect solution, and it should ensure that the bell peppers get cooked all the way through.
Tuesday: Tuesday night Brad has his first church softball game (defending champs!), so I am going to make a Slow Cooker Whole Chicken. I am not following the recipe shown here, but I liked how this blogger showed how you can use the broth for additional meals. I have never cooked a whole chicken, but I bought one on sale a couple of weeks ago, so I am going to give it a try (thanks Sammi Hughes for sharing your recipe with me). I'll let you know how it turns out!
Wednesday: Leftovers night:)
Thursday: Thursday night, I am hoping the weather cooperates, so we can grill outside instead of using the Griddler, but we will do what we have to do. I found this recipe for Grilled Chicken Tacos in, where else, but my Southern Living. I love warm, fresh tacos, so I think this will be awesome with the salsa and black beans on the side.
Friday: I never plan to cook on Friday nights, but we always have enough food in the house in case we decide to stay in. I hope everyone had an awesome Easter with your families. Ben was very excited about his Easter basket this year, which made the day even better. He loves it so much that you may see us hunting eggs outside throughout the summer; whatever makes them happy and keeps them busy:)
Happy Belated Easter!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Organization Bug

Today started off like any other day. I woke up, opened the blinds, started the coffee, potted two arborvitae bushes, (what? like that's not a normal morning activity?) made Ben's breakfast, started a load of towels, but as I walked to the back of the house to collect the rest of the laundry, my eyes beheld the mess that is (Brad's) the back bedroom. Then it bit me...the organization bug. You know that feeling that comes over you once in a blue moon that makes you want to show every piece of junk in your house who is boss and put it in its place; yeah, that feeling. I figured my best tactic would be to wait patiently until Ben went down for his morning nap; ( I can't believe he still takes one; lucky me!) I played and worked puzzles with him, so the junk wouldn't suspect that I was onto it. After about an hour, Ben finally got that sleepy look in his eyes; it was go time...I attacked the back bedroom closet with an indescribable fury! Stack, fold, hang, toss, repeat; I was an organizational hurricane leaving nothing but clean and straight in my path. The closet, while proving itself to be a formidable foe, was no match for the organization bug.
Once the first battle was over, I realized I simply couldn't stop there; there were other areas of the house losing ground to clutter, and I couldn't just sit back and watch, so I continued in my quest for cleanliness. Here are just a few of my conquests:

The Fridge: Dominated
The Spice Cabinet: OwnedHad to stop for nourishment; made this bbq chicken pizza: dominated it too.

The Pantry: Is that all you've got, house?
Clutter: 0, Me: 1. Hopefully the next time you get bit this Spring or Summer, it is by the organization bug. :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Off to an Early Start

Happy Sunday everyone! Somebody is excited it's Spring! Ben looks pretty pumped about this precious House of Hatten outfit that I got for him at the Little Sprouts sale this past February. For those of you who love to dress your babies like babies (at least on Sundays) like me, this sale is for you! If you have not heard of it, the Little Sprouts sale is held twice a year in Franklin (location changes), and it prides itself on being a "boutique only" sale. I love to volunteer at this sale, and I am usually one of the people checking in clothing items; we make sure that there are no holes, stains, missing buttons, or just general icki-ness. Clothes must be certain brands as well, which ensures nice clothing items at a very fair price. I highly recommend your checking this out for the fall! I was able to purchase all of Ben's nicer wardrobe (Sunday clothes, Easter, etc.) at the Spring sale.
On another note, this weekend was a great one; we were able to spend time with my parents Friday night as they were kind enough to come and entertain Ben while "we" packed for our trip. By "we," I mean I packed MY stuff for the cruise and Brad stayed up until some wee hour of the morning playing Tiger Woods golf on Wii with my dad. Oh well, he'll be stressing, and I'll be ready to go!:) Speaking of my dad, he is awesome, and he let me use his phone upgrade (since I used mine already on a terrible phone) to get an iphone; I suddenly feel so modern! I don't really use the internet much, or at least I haven't yet, but it is cool to be able to check email, etc. wherever I am...can't wait to try out "facetime" calls; let me know if you have an iphone too!
After the great iphone purchase of '11, we headed up to Pump it Up at Cool Springs for a birthday party. I have literally never seen a child have so much fun as Ben has there. He is so independent and loves to climb, slide, run, fall on his face, and he never once fusses! That's my big boy! After that, Brad and I headed up to Cool Springs for a little shopping (aka, walking around and really buying nothing). It was fun, however, and Ben was the best boy in the world as always; as sleepy as he must have been with no afternoon nap, he rode in the mall stroller (bless his heart; we forgot his) for 2-3 hours and never complained...we are truly blessed!
Today, we had a great worship time at church, we watched a little golf, Brad got busy outside, so I went ahead and did my couponing/shopping for the week! If you have a Kroger nearby and like to coupon, you should go this week. I only got things we really use, and since we are going out of town, I didn't have to buy produce, etc. Pictured right are the food items I got on my trip today and below that are the baby/cleaning items I got. As you can see, the food items are all great brands, and I got some really yummy stuff (Blue Bell ice cream, sister shubert rolls, nestle toll house cookies, streamfresh veggies, etc). Also, as you can see, I stocked up on diapers, which I am still pretty excited about! I had several Huggies coupons that were about to expire during our trip because they haven't been on sale lately; I figured I would make sure they didn't go on sale this week before giving them away...They did!!! Go figure! I used all 5 of my coupons combined with the store sale to get $55.66 (before tax) worth of diapers/wipes for $41.95 (saved $13.71). I am starting to buy a pack of Pull-Ups here and there since that time is getting close! Kroger also has a General Mills cereal promotion going on where you instantly get a $5 Kroger gift card when you buy 4 participating cereal/bar items (on sale for $2.79), so I checked out with those first, used coupons, spent $8.42, got a $5 gift card (which I then used on the rest of my groceries), so each of the 4 cereal items came out to about .85 a piece (regularly about $4 a piece). So...if I add up the large chunk of money that was spent on diapers (Spent $91.47 total; about $60 (if they were regular priced) diapers; that means everything else averages about .95 a piece). A good week since I would have to buy the diapers regardless of price. This past week, I read "Learn to Coupon" on the Southern Savers website. This was so helpful (ie, I will no longer simply cut out all my coupons on Sunday; I will leave them in their inserts and file them in order. That way, there is no huge mass of coupons to sort/look through). This website gives me all of the sale/promotion items and the location or link to the coupon; you can't beat that! I am learning so much, and really only use this website; my feelings are "the simpler, the better." If I can do this every week, so can you. Give this info a read, and start saving a little more each week; it's quite fun. Happy and blessed week to all!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Park with Friends

Yesterday was the perfect day for a play date at the park with some great church friends! I must say that I was totally shocked and so proud of how Ben navigated all of the playground equipment! We have only been to the park a couple of times since he has been old enough to really play. He just took off in true boy fashion, and before I knew it, I looked over and he was half way up the climbing wall! Who is this kid, and where did he come from? Ben used to be very timid, so he has really come out of his shell, and I LOVE it! Soon after this picture, however, he proceeded to skid all
the way down, but he dusted himself off and tried again! Go Ben! The kids played until they were all sweaty and exhausted, and we had a great time! The other mothers (who are obviously smarter than I) packed lunches for their kids, so my kid walked around and grazed off of everyone else's plate. Those of you who know Ben know that my boy likes to eat..and eat..and eat.
So, when we got home, I made one of his favorite lunches, peanut butter and jelly sushi...just a cutsie name and a different way of making lunch fun. I saw this "recipe" in a magazine years ago before I had a child, and I always thought about making it for my kids.
Here are some pics and simple instructions, and you could obviously change up the type of sandwich too.
Step 1: Cut the edges from 2 slices of wheat bread; roll the bread until completely flat using a drinking glass or a rolling pin.
Step 2:Add whatever yummy ingredients your child likes. These two are obviously peanut butter and homemade strawberry freezer jam and peanut butter and banana. I have also added a little honey before.
Step 3: Roll them up tightly; if you overfill, the good stuff will ooze out.
Step 4: Cut into slices like slice and bake cookies. I do smaller bites, but when he gets older, about 4 slices from each sandwich will work.
Step 5: Watch them eat and enjoy!
I am finally finished with all of the paintings due before our cruise, so now it is time to get the house cleaned from top to bottom and get all of my clothes (and Ben's clothes) ready to go. Packing is one of my least favorite things, but I am blessed to be able to go somewhere cool, so I think I can handle it! If you have time, let me know of some fun lunch ideas you use with your kids; I'm always looking for new things to make, so any advice is welcome! Happy Friday, friends!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sticky Fingers?

Chocolate, Marshmallows, and Golden Grahams; what could possibly go wrong? Nothing! Yesterday, Ben and I prepared a little treat for (ourselves) our van ride to the Predators game with friends. I had a coupon a while ago for Golden Grahams; I can't say I have ever really eaten them, and I have two boxes, so I thought I'd look up a recipe for something sweet. Boy, did we find one. I can't keep my hands off of these things! Ben was a great help in the kitchen as we made these S'mores Bars yesterday. As you can see, he is quite the little chef:) Pictured are all of the ingredients needed to make these awesome treats (I didn't have any choc. chips, so I chopped up the giant Hershey's kiss Brad gave me for Valentine's Day:). The only tough part is the stirring, but they are worth the effort! Ben's school bake sale, here I come! (O.k., maybe getting a little ahead of myself:)
I wanted to share a couple of other food items today. This one is a no-brainer, but if you have a picky eater, you know it can be tough to get them to consider new foods. Ben is not so much a picky eater, but I always think it is tough to fit in all the needed fruits/veggies needed in a day. I definitely have a pizza lover! He will scarf (is that a word?) the stuff at any opportunity, so for an easy lunch idea, I came up with "Sneaky Pizza." I start with a Natures Own bagel thin (I had a coupon one time, and they are great!) I take apart the halves and spread about a tablespoon of pizza sauce on each. Then, I layer fresh spinach leaves, grated carrots, and any other veggies I may have handy that won't alter the flavor too much. Then, I hide it all under a small layer of yummy cheese! Ben eats both of the mini pizzas and has no clue what is in them. You could obviously use those sandwich flats or English muffins; whatever you can come up with is fine.
This morning, I poached my chicken for the chicken and spinach lasagna (recipe on yesterday's blog) I am going to make Friday night. I wanted to make my FAVORITE soup to eat on the rest of the week. It calls for chicken broth, and instead of buying the (loaded with salt) canned/boxed version, I thought I would use the broth from poaching my chicken. All I do is strain the veggies/fat from the cooking broth and then season it a little more (add a little salt/pepper or whatever else you like). This Spinach Tortellini Tomato soup is perfect for any day, and it makes a large amount, so you can eat it for days. It is definitely a husband-pleaser in my house as well (that is a difficult feat for a soup). Ok, I better get busy because I know my boy is ready to get outside and play! May break out the new water table today; I'll post pics soon! Have a blessed day!