Friday, June 28, 2013

July Menu

I'm not going to lie, I may have had a minor panic attack when I realized that July is just around the corner!

And if July is on its way, you know what that means!



Now that it's summer, I want to have easy meals so that I'm not busy in the kitchen when we could be playing or going to the pool.  So, there's a lot of quick, easy meals!

Monday, July 1  gone
Tuesday, July 2  gone
Wednesday, July 3  gone
Thursday, July 4  Hamburgers
Friday, July 5  pizza
Saturday, July 6  The Sandwich  gone for supper
Sunday, July 7  gone

Monday, July 8  Yummy Honey Chicken Kabobs (didn't make last month)
Tuesday, July 9  Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce
Wednesday, July 10  Island Spice Pork Tenderloin
Thursday, July 11  pizza
Friday, July 12  gone
Saturday, July 13  gone
Sunday, July 14  gone

Monday, July 15  gone
Tuesday, July 16  Honey Garlic Balsamic Chicken
Wednesday, July 17  Pulled Pork (from freezer)
Thursday, July 18  pizza
Friday, July 19  gone
Saturday, July 20  gone
Sunday, July 21  gone

Monday, July 22  Hamburgers  
Tuesday, July 23  BBQ Chicken and Potatoes
Wednesday, July 24  Taco Dippers
Thursday, July 25  Hotdogs
Friday, July 26  pizza 
Saturday, July 27  Paninis  out for supper
Sunday, July 28  sandwiches  Silly Cereal Supper

Monday, July 29  Chicken with Honey Beer Sauce
Tuesday, July 30  Easiest Fish Tacos  (didn't make last month)
Wednesday, July 31  Baked French Toast Sticks

We are gone a lot in July, so don't rob our house, OK?

OK!

Here are menus from previous months in case you are interested in perusing them :)
June Menu
May Menu
April Menu
March Menu

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Things I Like

Here are a few things that I've been liking lately!

1.  Remember this picture from a couple of weeks ago?



I love it!  It's so them!  Leah is standing up straight, doing the right thing.  Maggie looks so sweet, and Gracie's all like, "Where's the party!?!?!?!?"

Then I read this article about birth order

Holy Smokes!  It's like they followed Leah around and described her to a T!  Maggie isn't quite the typical middle child (which the article said is hard to narrow down).  Gracie is a pretty darn typical baby of the family.

I think I want to read the book now.  

2.  Aaron surprised me with these last week.



New mixing bowls!  He's the greatest!

I even used every single one of them that day when I made Lemon Bundt CakeJalapeno Popper Dip, and Beer Bread.

3.  I'm loving tracing paper for the girls lately.

They all like using it, but Leah LOVES it!


I think Gracie mostly likes that she's allowed to draw in a book :)

Leah has been tracing Care Bears:


So fun!

4.  You know how you're supposed to drink green tea, because it's so good for you?  But, then you drink it and it tastes like you're sucking on a tree branch?  

Or is that just me?

Anyway, I found a green tea that I like!


I make it by the pitcher and drink it heavily iced.  You can totally taste a little bit of mint in it which helps balance out the branch-ness of the tea.

Naturally, I feel incredibly healthy when I drink it ;)

5.  You know what else I like?  Did you see the new header on the top of the page?  Our friend, Andy, made it for me!  You know, Andy of AndyandSteph :)


Anyway, I really like the new header.

But I have no idea what was going on with the side of my hair in that picture up there.

I hope your day is filled with things that you like!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Imagination Imitates Life!

Gracie was sick with a little bit of vomiting last week, so yep, you guessed it!

Maggie and Gracie pretended that their dollies were sick...with the flu, of course.


I wasn't sure whether to laugh or shake my head.


But, I laughed...and laughed and laughed!  

And took pictures so you could laugh, too :)

Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Open Faced Beef Sandwiches

Edited October 6th:  Welcome friends from Mel's Crock-tober link up!

This amazing recipe starts in the crockpot and ends in the broiler.  There are a few steps, but many of them can be done ahead of time...plus the ease of the whole crockpot thing!  It's great for only your family and fun enough for company!

Please.  Try this.  It's worth the little extra work!

Who are we kidding, I rarely make up a recipe.  I'm really good at picking recipes, but I'm not going to say that I'm much of a recipe developer at this point.

This recipe, though, I did develop!  It's very loosely inspired by something I had at a restaurant, but most of it came up from my noggin :)

Along with the Island Spice Pork Tenderloin with Mango Avocado Salsa, this is one of my favorites!  

Let me introduce you...


The long name is Open Faced Beef Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions and Sauteed Balsamic Glazed Mushrooms with Melted Provolone Cheese.

Yeah, that's really long, so we'll stick with Open Faced Beef Sandwiches!

There are a few steps to this recipe, but none of them are complicated and they can all be done ahead of time.

Let's start with the beef.  

Where's the beef?

Here's the beef!


Just plop a pot roast into your slow cooker.  Add some salt and pepper and between 1/2 cup and 1 cup of water.  Cover and cook until done.  You can do it on high or low, depending on how much time you have on your hands and how big your roast is.  

Next, you're going to make the caramelized onions.  There are about one million recipes about how to make caramelized onions, but I mostly followed this one.

I used 3 red onions.  That's not what people usually use for caramelized onions, but that's what I had.  


I cut them in half through the root.


Peel them and slice.


See how I sliced them there?  Apparently that's the "authentic" way, but I really don't think it matters.

Next, melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter with 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add all of your onions.  Toss with a little salt and pepper.


Let them cook for a few minutes over medium until they start to cook down.  After the first few minutes, turn the heat down to medium low.

This is the long part.  You are going to stir them every few minutes until they are all brown.  This will take anywhere from 30-60 minutes.  This isn't active time by any means.  This is wash a few dishes, stir the onions.  Flip a load of laundry, stir the onions.  

You get the picture :)

They are done when they look like this:


They really shrink down a lot.  If there seems like there's a lot of excess grease, you can put them on a paper towel lined.

Now that they are done, you can pop them in the fridge until you are ready to fix supper.

Next up, we have the mushrooms.

Wash and slice the mushrooms.  You can buy sliced mushrooms, but I like to slice my own.  I find that the pre-sliced ones are sliced thicker than I like, but that's a personal preference. 

Heat up about a tablespoon of oil over medium and add the sliced mushrooms. 


Sautee until browned.  This takes like 5 minutes.

Once they are browned, then add salt and pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar (about a tablespoon) and the same amount of water (about a tablespoon).  It'll steam when you add the vinegar and water.  Stir until coated...about a minute.

Here's what it looks like when they're done.


They shrink a lot, too!  Set aside until you're ready to serve.

Once the pot roast is cooked, shred it, and put it back into the slow cooker to keep it warm.


See, your sandwiches are pretty much done now.  You just have to put them together when it's time to eat!

I use the ciabatta rolls from Walmart for this.  They are perfect!

Split your ciabatta rolls and toast.

You know, in your toaster.  That may seem obvious, but I felt it was worth mentioning :)

Top the bread with meat, onions, mushrooms, and provolone cheese.  If the meat, onions, and mushrooms have been in the fridge, reheat them in the microwave first.

Broil until the cheese is melted.


I love serving this to a group (probably not more than 8 adults, though).  All of the elements can be made ahead of time and the sandwiches are easily customize-able.

They would be great with Miss Felicia's Potato Casserole.  I even like serving them with a bag of chips and a salad.

Give these a try...I bet they'll be one of your favorites, too!

If you want to pin this recipe, you can just put your mouse on a picture and a little "pin it" button will appear.  Click it and you can pin it!

I'm linking up with Mel from The Larson Lingo for Crock-tober!


Crocktober 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

We Went to Some of Our Favorite Places

We went to my parent' house this weekend, and as a result, we went to some of our favorite places!

Gracie wasn't feeling the best, so she elected not to go to the grocery store with the big girls and Papa.

But, Leah and Maggie sure had fun!

What isn't fun about using a cart just your size?

Nothing...I tell you!  Nothing is more fun than a kid sized cart.



There is something so very classically "Leah" about her face in this picture with the ice cream...kind of a playful skepticism.



Ice cream and cookies, too! 



Maggie got to put stuff up on the conveyor belt thing.  She loves to do that; I think it makes her feel grown up ;)



So, yeah, the one of the girls' favorite places is the grocery store by my parents' house.

One of my favorite places:  Target!  (duh)



I overheard a few interesting things:

1.  A guy wearing very obviously mismatched striped shirt and plaid shorts saying to his female companion, "See I just like to think smart!"  I'm sure he's very smart but could just use a little nudge in the fashion department.

2.  I walked passed the hair care products and this guy probably in his 40s or 50s was talking really loudly into his cell phone, "SHOULD I GET THE FRIZZ CONTROL OR THE SHINE BOOSTER OR THE EXTRA HOLD?"  I feel like it's hard to just buy plain hair spray these days...poor guy :)

3.  A woman, who I've decided is my Target kindred spirit, was talking to her husband, and she said, "This is dangerous, Gary, aimlessly walking around Target."  It is indeed, new friend!

But, the best interesting thing came out of Aaron's mouth (everything but the "hey girl," I just couldn't resist the meme)!


Swoon...

I was glad not to hurry...gotta keep my husband happy ;)




linking up with blair at wild and precious.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Oh, a Children's Book

I love children's books!  

But, let's be honest, for every great children's book, there are probably 1 or 2 disasters.

Here is one of my favorite "disasters."


Now, I do realize that this is a My First Reader.  So, obviously there will be a lot of repeated words.  And, I mean no disrespect to Alyssa Satin Capucilli, because I have not hated enjoyed other Biscuit books.  That lift a flap trick or treat one is adorable!


More barking and hopping.


Well, would you look at that!  Even more woof-ing and, you guessed it, hopping!


That's 6 pages where the only words are woof and hop.  

8 woofs and 7 hops, in case you were counting :)

Let me tell you, it's a good thing that I have a very endearing and adorable "woof," or else I think Gracie would cause an uprising or revolt due to the plethora of dog sounds.


Either way, she sure enjoyed blowing Nana and Papa's whistle :)

Praise the Lord, that's an outside toy!

Anyway, have a happy weekend!

woof, woof!

hop...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Yay for Swimming Lessons!

Now, I'm not going to lie...I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with swimming lessons.

I love that the girls get to learn how to be more comfortable in the water and learn how to swim!

I love the chance to meet other people in town!

I love bumping into friends at the pool!

I love seeing the girls be brave!

I love the half hour that Leah and Maggie are in swimming lessons, and Gracie is home with Aaron.  I sit by the pool.  By myself.  And I cheer when the girls do something hard for them!

I do not love constantly changing people's clothes.

I do not love dealing with wet things.

I do not love that a swimming lesson that lasts a half an hour really takes up over an hour of our time with getting ready and getting settled back at home.

I do not love feeling like a slave to our pool schedule (Leah and Maggie from 11:30-noon and Gracie from 5:00-5:30).

It really is worth it, though! 

Because, just look at them!

Leah practicing her form for "diving" into the water.


A year ago she never ever would have done this!  Let's just say that nobody would ever claim that Leah is a risk taker.


She was so happy!


I was SO proud of her for being brave!  Last year she didn't even want to go down the water slide with a life jacket on.  It's so cool to see her grow in confidence.

And this girl...if folding yourself in half was a skill that needed to be checked off a list, she'd have a big ol' check mark by her name!


I wasn't sure how well Maggie would do with swimming lessons.  The last 2 years she's been in the parent/child class, so this was her first year without Aaron or me in the water with her.  She has only been confident and brave...


and happy!  She gives me a big thumbs up after completing a skill and tells me, "Mom, it's your chance to relax...you should read a book!"

I did bring a book, but it's way more fun to watch her!

Maggie's swimming teacher is amazing!  There have been swimming teachers that I was fairly certain didn't actually like children, but that's not the case with Anna.  She is amazing!


And as you can see, Maggie is great at the noodle assisted kicking and arm scooping business :)

Gracie is in swimming lessons, too, but I am in the water with her, hence the lack of pictures.

Her favorite things?  Jumping in, picking toys up from the bottom of the pool (shallow end, of course), and singing.

Less than awesome things?  Floating...front or back.  Ain't nobody got time for that...especially not Gracie!

So, I'll take the minor monkey wrenches that swimming lessons throw into our life, because the results have been really exciting!

A big thumbs up from Maggie, too <3

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mommy's Jesus Catechism

One of my desires for the summer is to help the girls memorize Scripture.

I also want to be intentional about teaching them certain things about Jesus that are based in Scripture.  

I stumbled upon New City Catechism (from Tim Keller and Sam Shammas) and really liked the question and answer format.  I realize that this isn't unique to catechisms, but it's not something I know a lot about.  

While I really appreciate the thoroughness of the children's version of New City Catechism, it's still too much for the girls.  I think Leah might be able to handle it, but she'd really have to work at it.  I'd like summer to be a little bit more laid back.

So, I made up my own :)


Just so you know, this is not comprehensive, but it's a good start!

I have 8 weeks of questions, answers, and verses.  We started this week!  

I start off by writing the question, answer, and verse on our chalkboard in the kitchen.


I ask the girls the question and they say the answer. 

I had Leah make up actions to the verse which helps her be more invested in the process.  We repeat it a couple of times a day.

I'd love to have a craft or a coloring page to go along with each verse and maybe I'll find something like that.  But, I'm learning that I don't have to go ALL OUT when I do something.

I have to realize that it is better to have our girls start hiding God's word in their hearts now than to wait until I have an activity/craft/song/perfect thing to go with it.  I can't be paralyzed by unrealistic, perfectionist ideas.

Edited:  My mom (I think she is VBS personified) came up with some for me!  Check out the first one here!

Here are all 8 weeks!  (Oh, I abridge the verses to make them easier to memorize, especially for Maggie...Gracie kind of tags along :))

Week 1:
Question:  How do I know God loves me?
Answer:  He sent Jesus!
Verse:  I John 4:9 (Romans 5:8 would be a good choice, too.  We memorized that last summer and Seeds Family Worship has the verse as a song)

Week 2:
Question:  Why did God send Jesus?
Answer:  To save us!
Verse:  I John 4:14

The next 4 weeks cover some of Jesus' I AM statements and are more responsive in nature:

Week 3:
Jesus is...the Light of the World

Week 4:
Jesus is...the Bread of Life

Week 5:
Jesus is...the Good Shepherd

Week 6:
Jesus is...the Only Way

The last 2 weeks focus on grace:

Week 7:
Question:  How am I saved"
Answer: By grace through faith.

Week 8:
Question:  Can I earn salvation?
Answer:  No, it's a gift.

I know that the girls being able to memorize a verse or an answer to a question doesn't mean that Jesus has their heart.  Obviously, obviously, obviously it's our deepest desire and prayer that that would be the case.  But, I do believe that God's Word doesn't return empty...it accomplishes the purpose He has.  

So, I'll write it on our chalkboard, and listen to it in the kitchen, and put it on our walls, and talk about it in the car.  

We'll plant all the seeds we can and trust God to make them grow!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Miss Felicia's Potato Casserole

Sometimes I wish I was Southern.

You know, when I watch a movie set down South (because that's so very realistic ;)), or drink sweet tea, or make a recipe by Paula Deen, or hang out with our friends, Jeff and Felicia.

We went over to Jeff and Felicia's house for supper last week, and it was wonderful!  They are so fun and easy to be around.  

Felicia is the quintessential Southern hostess.  She's so warm, and chatty, and welcoming.  I suppose there's nothing exclusively southern about that, but when you have that little southern twang, everything sounds just that much warmer and more lovely.

It was also one of those evenings that the girls were almost perfectly behaved!  I'm sure it helped that Jeff and Felicia had a bin of toys from when their daughters were little.  There's nothing quite like fresh toys to keep a kid happy!

Felicia made a delicious supper which included this delicious potato casserole.




Now, I know we've all had potato casserole before, but I really think you should make this one!  It's not quite as heavy as the one I usually make (which is also incredibly delicious).

I'm not saying this is health food by any means, but there's a little bit less of the high calorie ingredients that make it oh so good.

And it's still oh.so.good!



You need:
1 bag frozen hash browns
1 can cream of chicken soup (I bet you could use cream of mushroom soup, too)
3/4 cup sour cream (I used light)
1 cup milk
1 and 1/2 cups of shredded cheese

In a small bowl, mix the soup, sour cream, and milk.  Open the bag of frozen hash browns and put them in a large bowl.  Pour the soup mixture on top of the potatoes.  Add about 1 and 1/2 cups of shredded cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and stir well to combine.

Pour into a greased 9x13 inch dish and bake at 375 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until brown and bubbly.  You can even add come cooked and crumbled bacon for an extra tasty punch!

I served it with some Barbecued Chicken (Aaron made it and it was perfect) and grilled veggies.  The rest of my people had carrots instead of the grilled veggies :)  We had watermelon agua fresca to drink.  (I'd been looking for something to do with the watermelon I had, seeing as Leah has decided she's not that into watermelon right now and Maggie won't touch it).



Be sure to scoop out the crunchy bits on the side.  It's the best part!

You need to know that everyone in my family ate this meal which naturally resulted in some yes, Yes, YES-ing on my part.  Maggie even asked for seconds on chicken which is unheard of around here! 

Aaron isn't a leftovers guy, but he had the potato casserole and chicken for lunch the next day!

You know what that means:  you have to make this.

And y'all should probably serve it with some sweet tea...

Enjoy!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

It was Father's Day...and it was Good!

Father's Day was a great one!

Aaron got to start out the day with these 3!



We didn't end up going to the Dollar Store for Aaron's gifts, because Leah saw some EZ Cheese (one of his old school favorite snacks) and wanted to get it for Aaron.  Naturally we got him some Wheat Thins to go with it!

We also got Aaron a couple of Frisbee Golf discs, because it's turned into a new hobby!  Leah even went with him.  Apparently she complained about the gnats pretty much the whole time she was out there, but to hear her talk about it, you'd think she was in paradise!

The girls and I made Aaron a card, too!




Yeah, that's not showing up on pinterest any time soon ;)

I had Maggie and Gracie dictate to me what to write in the card.  There's some pretty funny stuff!




My personal favorite parts are when Gracie tells Maggie to stop (although the bit about the fridge is rather delightful), and when Maggie tells Aaron that his heart sounds like birds!  She is so sweet and earnest!

The girls and I also made Aaron breakfast in bed!



Leah made the scrambled eggs, Maggie made the toast, Gracie carried the coffee to him, and I made the doughnut.  

Oh, the doughnuts!



My brother and sister-in-law got me a doughnut pan for my birthday, so I've kept my eye out for some doughnut recipes.  

These doughnuts are definitely a "sometimes" food, because they are pretty much a cupcake in a ring shape.  They are so delicious and were really easy to make!

After church and before lunch, Aaron and the girls played "Tooth Fairy" which is a daddy classic game!

Also a daddy classic game?  The girls pretending to be turtles and answering questions that Aaron asks them!



Yep, they're being turtles up there!  Gracie had the doll pack-n-play on as her shell, and Maggie and Leah are obviously using their blankets as shells.  They love being able to use a laundry basket as their shell...more authentic, I think ;)

They each have turtle names: Lurtle (Leah), Murtle (Maggie), and Gurtle (Gracie).

They talk in funny, deep voices and say that their favorite thing to eat is popcorn or answer other silly questions.

What a fun Dad...

...and what silly girls!

Anyway, after Silly Cereal Supper and shakes and popcorn (while watching The Electric Company on Netflix), Aaron and I are ending the day with the other (big) 3:



There's nothing like ending Father's Day with a little NBA playoff action.

And for the record, Aaron is obviously a WAY better dad than any of those guys.

You know, in my opinion, anyway ;)




linking up with Blair at wild and precious!