Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekend Happenings

Well we had another relaxing weekend! We have been working so hard at maintaining the cleaning and laundry during the week so we have more downtime during the weekend. So far, so good- we are only a few weeks into it but just a few more and we've got a habit, right? ha. 

Anna-Kate was pretty worn out on Friday so she and Thomas went to bed early. Derek and I decided to rent Inception. It was one of those mind twisting movies where you really have to pay close attention but I really liked it!

Saturday morning I decided to meet my friend Amanda and her son, Jackson, for breakfast so then Derek could have the house to himself for his studying. (He's on week two of studying for his Series 66 and Series 7 exams).

I really thought it would be more relaxing than it was! I hate to admit that but by the end I was not feeling my best and jittery from juggling the kids and our conversation. I don't think I was much fun to be around! Sorry Amanda!

When we first got there Anna-Kate decided to whine about not having a friend to play with and that she wanted this or that. All Thomas cared about was eating. I tried to go in the play place with both of them, but poor Thomas was worried I was going to just leave him in there so he clung on to me for dear life and cried.

Things were better after Amanda showed up and we got our food. Having to balance the two of them is so hard for me when they are both fussing over one thing or another. Thankfully most of the time it's just one of them. I think they were thrown off that they didn't have Derek there with them.

When we got home, we put Anna-Kate and Thomas in bed for a nap. Anna-Kate decided she didn't want to nap so we let her play outside with our neighbors little girl. She had so much fun with her!

Derek and I decided that it was a great day to start on spring cleaning! We want to tackle a different room every week so that we don't get in over our heads and can really focus on total cleaning.

 We started with our living room. It was a big task but we moved everything out and cleaned the floors really well and "shook" out our rug and then we re-arranged! I always love moving things around. It makes me feel so refreshed! I took a couple of pictures but they turned out funky so I will re-do them and post them later.

After we finally got everything in and settled Anna-Kate and I took a nap while Derek and Thomas played together.

Derek's parents came over for dinner and the girls finally got to play. Poor Anna-Kate was really missing Kristen! 

We had a normal, relaxing Sunday! I even got a nice long nap. 

What's not to love about that weekend? 

Ps. Sorry there are no photos! My camera was dead most of the weekend! :) 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

I saw this on my friend Amanda's blog and I've been inspired to switch over from my "Wordless Wednesdays" posts! I mean let's be honest... when am I ever wordless?? ha! 

I'm loving that we are halfway through the week and are so close to the weekend! It's supposed to be nice and sunny outside! Guess who's going to be spring cleaning... Derek! Just kidding, I'm going to be helping him too! 

I'm loving this smiling face... Thomas has had a rough week from teething and he's finally back to his happy self! 

I'm loving Thomas' new fishy kisses! He makes the best fish face. 

I'm loving Anna-Kate and her pink lips from drinking "lemonlade." Everything she eats leaves a ring around her mouth! 

I'm loving our home Bible study group. I feel so encouraged and strengthened every week. I think we have a great group! 

I'm loving watching making fun of the Bachelor every week with my friend Joanna! Those girls are ridiculous. Of course my favorite is when Derek jumps in with his point of view with what's going on. He's going to love me for saying this- but he is fully caught up with all of the drama and agrees that Michelle needs to go! 

I'm loving all of the new blogs I'm getting to read thanks to Jamie over at Little Daisy May, who came up with this idea! 

Hope you have/ had a great Wednesday! 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Week 3 Menu

We had another great week of easy, ready-to-go meals and it was awesome! I feel like these meals could actually reduce our monthly grocery budget which is so exciting. I know we will get better at them as we go along too! 

I'm going to try to new ways of container-ing the food so that it saves me on freezer space and dishes. I will admit that I was a bit lazy this week and I just used my pyrex dishes. I had planned on lining them with foil but it seemed like a lot of work! 

Another little trick I read about is to put a container in the freezer that we put our leftover veggies in until it is full. Then those veggies can be used for vegetable beef soup! I think this is a really neat idea! I got it out of one of my Paula Deen cookbooks. 

I made a sauce in my slow cooker to use for lasagna and spaghetti and hopefully a 3-cheese baked ziti. Then whatever sauce I have left over can be containered up for later! Easy, easy! All I did was pour two large cans of plain tomato sauce and added lots of different spices and herbs. Then I browned some hamburger meat with minced garlic and drained that. Then I added my meant and chopped onion. It is delicious! 

I guess I should tell you my menu plan, huh? You can click on a couple of the meals for the recipe if I used one as a guideline! I actually altered all of them though. 

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole (I meant to have chicken in this but I forgot it!)
Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken Noodle Soup
3 Cheese Baked Ziti
Chicken and Tortilla Casserole

We had the lasagna on Sunday. Oh my was it good! I wish I had paid more attention to what I did on that because I'm not sure if I can do that again!

For the chicken and dumplings and the chicken noodle soup I just decided to make the "base." I bought bullion cubes instead of broth because I wasn't sure how much I needed. I ended up buying the bullion cubes that had herb seasoning mixed in them. Then I added a couple of large cans of cream of chicken soup to about 4 cups of the broth and I boiled that with some celery and pepper. You don't really need a lot of salt with bullion cubes. I felt like it was a bit too creamy but there was no room in my pot to dilute it with broth so I decided to go on and divide it and just planned to add more broth when I cooked it. I added chicken that had been boiled and shred into larger pieces too.

So tonight we decided that's what we would eat. We had a guest so we decided at 5 this was the best thing to make. Of course it took a lot longer because it had to be thawed. I like to use the Pilsbury biscuits for my dumplings. Their buttermilk biscuits taste more homemade than any other biscuit I've tried. All I did was add about 3 more cups of broth to what I already had and I felt like that was perfect. Then I brought it up to a boil and added my dumplings. I let those cook for about 15-20 minutes until they're not too doughy! I like to lean on the doughier side of things but Derek prefers them cooked all the way!

It was probably a lot easier than I just made it seem! My dumplings tasted great too! Anna-Kate and I went back for seconds and thirds!

So that's what we are eating this week and probably next week too! I'm going to work on a few breakfast ideas for our next cooking day. I think that would be really fun! 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekend Happenings

We had a really great weekend! We didn't have any obligations, so it was nice to just relax and make our own schedule! 

Friday night we went over to Derek's parent's house and visited with everyone. Anna-Kate heard that Chick-fil-a was open so she worked really hard to get everyone to go get some ice cream. She absolutely loves going there! So we all gave in and went to check it out. We had so much fun! The girls played in the play place and then ate their ice cream and went back to playing! They did really good and it was nice to get out and relax! 

Saturday morning we got up and ate at Chick-fil-a again... yes... we went back! I am proud of it too! ha. Anna-Kate ran into several little friends from school and church so she played really well. Thomas was happy because he got to finish her food while she was playing! After we ate we got our groceries and then went home and put the kids in bed. After they went to bed Derek and I got to work on our meals for the next week or two. I'll post that menu soon! We always enjoy cooking together and this time we got to experiment a little bit more. A few of the "recipes" we used weren't really recipes, so that was fun. I am excited to eat everything- ha!

Anna-Kate waving to us! 

I looked over and noticed that Thomas was mimicking Derek! He mimics us all the time! So funny! 

Thomas likes to hold his dvd player. On our way home from the store I turned around and saw that he was out! So sweet!

After the kids woke up we played and waited on Kristen to come over and play! The girls played really well. I was excited they didn't really fight like they have been. Once they went to bed Derek and I watched a few of our shows and that was that. Not extravagant or exciting but so nice! 

Thomas testing out his cooking skills! 

I am serious, the poor boy needs some of his own toys! ;) Or at least a momma who can take some pictures of him playing with boy things instead of Anna-Kate's pink toys! 

Anna-Kate played with us too. She had a bowl of fruit to feed her babies. Apparently she decided that the babies didn't want to eat their fruit so she had to eat it. And by eat I mean lick the whole fruit. It was gross! I didn't even realize she had done this until she was on the last piece of fruit! Whoops!

After Thomas eats he signs and says "Ah du" which means 'all done'. It's pretty cute! I think this was after he did it the first time, so he wasn't very happy I got out the camera instead of letting him out of the highchair! 

The best thing about our weekends lately is the simplicity of them. We miss our Lepanto family but it is nice not to have the drive take out such a big chunk of our Sunday. 

After church today Derek's family came over for some nice homemade lasagna and Mississippi mud cake! It was so good! I've never made Mississippi Mud Cake but I had some marshmallow cream and I thought it would be fun to find a recipe that incorporated that into it. I actually wound up using Paula Deen's recipe but instead of mini marshmallows I used a 7 ounce jar of the cream. You bake the cake and then we heated the marshmallow cream for about 20 seconds in the microwave and spread it on and then poured icing with chopped pecans on the top. WOW- so good! 

After lunch I headed over to the church and got to help some of the ladies make meals for someone. It was so much fun. I'm so glad I went! I love any chance we get to spend time with church family!

Tonight we had Derek's family back over to help us eat all our left overs! We still had some things in our freezer so we pulled them out yesterday but I knew there was no way we could eat all of it! So they helped us out. It was fun just having a little bit of everything! 

After everyone left Anna-Kate picked up all of her toys without our help! She even put them up in the right places! I was so proud! She was so sweet and funny this weekend!!

Tomorrow is the first Monday in two weeks to have school and work! I am definitely looking forward to a more normal week than what we have been having!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Snow Day

Last week we had the first snow day of 2011! We all got to be home and enjoy it too! 

It started on Sunday night while we were in church. We were nervous about the "long commute" home, but we made it across the street just fine! ha! 

Anna-Kate taking it all in! 

We woke up to about 3" on Monday morning. I love the snow. Everything is just so beautiful! 

We played around here and then Anna-Kate was dying to play with Kristen so we ran a few errands and headed over to their house. I was so excited because Anna-Kate was really into the snow! 

Anna-Kate had to wear her sunglasses, she's such a mess! 

This is behind Derek's parents house. So beautiful! 

Kristen made a snow angel

This is Bella, Derek's parent's dog. She had snow on her nose! So cute! 

Derek's mom watched Thomas while we took the girls out and helped them build a snow man. They were so funny about  all of it!  When he was built, they danced around and sang "Frosty the snowman!" haha! Such a difference from the crying last year! :) 

At one point I told Kristen that our snowman needed mittens on his hands. She said "um... they're just sticks." Too funny! 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Week 2 Menu!

This is going to sound terrible...

and possibly even gross to some...

Our meals made so much extra that I decided to go on and just eat the left overs this week! 

(that means I saved on an entire week's worth of groceries and I didn't have to brave the grocery store wahoo!) 

I'm actually super excited. Last week's meals turned out awesome! Derek and I both enjoyed having a meal already prepared. There are so many nights when we get home right at dinner time and the thought of having to fix a meal is just draining, so we usually wind up just eating out. Even those times we have plenty of things at home. 

It was such a great feeling to come home to a meal already prepared! 

I made the alfredo pasta last night and tonight we had chili, on top of baked potatoes. Anna-Kate was resistant, but she wound up scraping the potato out! 

On the menu for the rest of the week: 
Ritz Chicken (didn't make that last week) 
Vegetable Beef Soup
Chicken and Dressing
Chicken Spaghetti

Everything froze and thawed really well last week too. 

I've already made a list of recipes for next week too! Can't wait to share! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Week 1 Menu!

I mentioned that one of my resolutions was to simplify by preparing recipes for the week and freezing them. I thought it would be fun to share my menus each week! (Since these aren't really creative meals, I'll skip the recipes for now. If you'd like one just let me know!) 

Saturday was so much fun! We got up and made pancakes. Anna-Kate told me that I made the best pancakes because I made her baby pancakes! haha. (Basically one day she was helping me make pancakes and she noticed that I dripped batter and she thought I had done it on purpose to make her itty bitty pancakes. So now we have to do that every time!)  

After breakfast we got ready and did our weekly grocery shopping. It was a little crazy but we got done just in time for the kids to take naps! 

That was the perfect time for us to make our meals. It took around 2- 2 1/2 hours to make 6 meals. Here's what we made: 

Shepherd's Pie
Cheesy Tuna Noodle Bake
Ritz Chicken
Vegetable Beef Soup 
Pot Roast (Assembled everything together so we just have to throw into the crock pot and season) 
Bowtie Pasta Alfredo (I was worried the alfredo sauce wouldn't freeze well so I decided to just make this one the night of. It's a very simple recipe- the alfredo sauce takes about 10 minutes to make.) 

We are loving having our meals prepared!  We have an expensive habit of eating out a few nights a week, so having a meal that I don't have to prepare is a lot of help.  Yesterday was a snow day so we chose chili. It was so good! We had Shepherd's Pie. I made the mistake of pulling it out of the freezer a little late, so it was still frozen when we got home. We wound up heating it at a lower temperature for a longer time. It worked but I will definitely remember to pull out dinner the night before! 

The only bad thing that I've noticed is that our meals are just too large. We have about half the meal left over. I even cut the chili recipe in half! We are considering making two weeks worth of recipes and just dividing all of the them in half so we have a month's worth of food. Obviously that would mean we wouldn't have too much variety that month and I'm a girl who loves I'm still just thinking about it! We are just trying to figure things out! 

Anyone have any recipes, suggestions or tips? I'm pretty new to all of this and would love to hear some ideas! 

New Year's Resolutions!

This year I have a few resolutions I want to share here so maybe we can stick to them! ha. They're really not all that big. 

First, I want to simplify. Derek is starting a new job, Thomas just started daycare (yes, sad but true. more on that later) and we are no longer preaching in Lepanto. I just feel like there are so many changes going on. I have a tendency to want to do everything I can and be busy but this year I'm trying to say no to myself! ha. I really love being super involved. Along the same lines of being simple around here I want to keep our routine simple and easy.

I'm going to try to cook our meals for the week on Saturdays and then just freeze them. Then we don't have to worry about rushing around and trying to cook dinner while the kids are under our feet. I want to work on getting everything laid out the night before so that our morning routine goes smoothly. 

My second resolution is to fully commit to paying off our debt. Keeping my first resolution in mind, I just want to have the first step done. That is saving a certain amount as quick as we can. Derek and I are already working towards that and I am so excited! 

I just have one more resolution. That is to figure out what I want. ha. Sometimes I feel so lost and I know it's normal but I feel like it's time to do something about it. I want to make progress towards finding myself. 

That's that. I'm not really one to make and share my resolutions but here's to a New Year! 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Christmas in Franklin Part 3

Hey guess what... 

this is my final Christmas 2010 post! ha! 

Thursday morning we had a girls breakfast with my sister, Sara, before she went to work. After that my Grandmother, Anna-Kate and I went shopping! We needed a few things for our family gift exchange that night. 

We had a lot of fun shopping but poor Anna-Kate was worn out and she got drug from grown up store to grown up store! I decided to give her a special treat and let her visit the candy store. It's one of those grab a bag and scoop and fill places. Anna-Kate's eyes were huge when she realized that she could get any candy she wanted and as much as she wanted. I think she had a lot of fun scooping out the candy and it helped redirect her. Of course I watched how much she ate and she never really ate very much but it was the whole experience that she really enjoyed. Sometimes I think that's important. I worry so much about making sure they eat healthy and so I hold back on things. But I do like to let go every so often and just let her be a kid. 

We enjoyed a laid back day and then went to spend time with family. 

This is one of my favorite family gatherings... I really love them all but I always get one of my favorite things at this one. Boiled custard!! My grandfather's sister probably makes the best boiled custard! I'm still craving it. One glass was just not enough! ;) 

Of course I love getting to spend time with that side of the family too! 

Thomas decided to kick his legs up after dinner! haha! We all thought it was pretty funny! 

Greer is one of Anna-Kate's idols... this night she passed her love for shoes to Anna-Kate... 

monkey see, monkey do... :) I love this! 

She did have tights on but decided she was too big for them- after all Greer wasn't wearing any! You'd be amazed by how much Greer motivates Anna-Kate to wear a certain outfit or a certain night gown... even 6 hours away! 

We had so much fun! Plus we got to take home the cutest little basket. I'm going to put this in our playroom and put the kids toys in! The basket also had several Tennessee goodies, including the neatest little Franklin plate! 

We packed the car that night and headed out Friday morning. 

Anna-Kate does so good watching movies!! We had the best ride back! :) 

The entire back of the car was stuffed full! It was crazy! 

We stopped in Lepanto before heading home, but that's a whole other post! :) 

It is always so nice to go and visit my family. I love seeing everyone. I especially enjoy getting to share my children with so many members of my family. I hope that Anna-Kate and Thomas will share the same love for Franklin as I do when they get older. 

But as good of a trip as it was, there's no place like home! 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas in Franklin Part 2

 Tuesday afternoon we went to my Dad's to celebrate Christmas with him. 

We watched Despicable Me... it was pretty cute!

Then we exchanged gifts! 

Anna-Kate loves play dough!! 

Thomas finally got into unwrapping presents only he decided to practice that on Anna-Kate's gifts! 

I think this was when she was doing her girly squeal :) 

It's true...

We stayed and played at my Dad's for a while.

Wednesday morning my grandmother had a special treat for breakfast. Krispy Kreme snowmen doughnuts! They were so cute!

Thomas loved them! Anna-Kate eventually left hers and Thomas didn't waste any time taking over the rest of hers! He kind of likes to have something in each hand when he eats. 

Anna-Kate and I met my very dear friend, Stephanie and her son Jeff for lunch at Chick-fil-a. Anna-Kate absolutely LOVES going there! She always asks if we can go to "chicker-way". When we were on our way she helped me find it and when she finally saw it she let out the biggest, girliest squeal!

We had so much fun visiting and playing. After they lost interest, we decided to take a stroll around Target and pick up a few things.

Jeff will be 4 in just a couple of weeks! He's so big!

Jeff helping Anna-Kate unbuckle... it was so sweet!

When we got back Thomas woke up just in time for a snack while I got dinner ready! He loves eating apples. I have to watch him because he will just pick one up and bite into it but he doesn't have enough teeth to really chew the peel well.

Anna-Kate is my clementine girl. She could eat her weight in clementines if I let her! (Don't worry, I don't!)

My mom and sisters came over for dinner. I made poppy seed chicken. It was really good! 

Thomas was a little curious about the girls in the bathroom... 

Aunt Sara was painting Anna-Kate's nails and then Anna-Kate got to paint Aunt Sara's! :)

So cute!

Lukey Luke playing!

My mom got Thomas the cutest set of wooden blocks! I think they are beautiful! I probably spent a little too much time playing with them... haha!

Anna-Kate got this CUTE little cooking bag with the wooden utensils and a box of white chocolate cupcake mix with raspberry frosting! I might be "playing" with this gift too... ;) 

Thomas finally discovered just how cool the tree was! Thank goodness it was towards the end of our Christmas so we didn't have to fight him too bad. He kept pulling the ornaments off the tree and bringing them to me- he was so proud of himself! 

I'm telling you, we are so richly blessed to be surrounded with such wonderful family! :) 

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