Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Change it Up

Yet another face lift to the blog. I simply get bored easily, and was ready for something new (again). I was just recently invited to join Joyce Paul's creative team, so I thought I would use one of her kits to create a new look for the blog. Hope you like it!

If you want to check out Joyce's stuff, you can click on the blinkie at the right side of this page. Thanks Joyce for the chance to be a part of your team!

Monday, March 29, 2010

It Worked: Crock Pot Stuffed Shells

The manicotti turned out really well! Yea for experiments gone right! So we had stuffed pasta, dinner rolls (left over from the sliders we had for lunch) and steamed green beans. Yum! And the fruit roll-ups worked well too! They're gone already. So here's the recipe I used for the manicotti (partly to share with you, and partly so I don't forget). 1 lb ground venison, browned with chopped onion, garlic powder, pepper 1 1/2 jars of spaghetti sauce (15 oz jars) 1+ cup water uncooked manicotti shells 15 oz ricotta cheese, part skim 1 cup shredded mozzarella, part skim 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese 1 egg oregano, black pepper, 1 clove garlic minced 1) brown the meat & onion; add 1 jar of spaghetti sauce & 1 cup water; combine 2) in a bowl, mix the ricotta & egg; add mozz, parmesan, oregano, black pepper, & 1 clove of garlic, minced (I'm not sure about the measurements of the herbs...I just added it until it looked well balanced and smelled good???) 3) using a butter knife, stuff the uncooked pasta shells with the cheese mixture 4) in a crock pot, add sauce mix to the bottom of the crock pot to cover the bottom (about 1 cup or so) 5) lay one layer of manicotti shells in the bottom of the crock pot, close but not touching 6) cover with a layer of sauce 7) add another layer of manicotti shells and cover with remaining sauce 8) top with about 1/2 jar of spaghetti sauce to cover noodles completely; add just a bit more water to the top of the sauce; 9) cover & cook on high for about 1 hour; reduce to low and cook about 2-3 hours, until the pasta is tender.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Night at the Improv

That pretty much describes our dinner tonight. I was completely planning on making lasagna. I got all the meat and sauce ready, made the cheese mixture, and then realized I have no lasagna noodles. I do, however, have a pantry full of various pastas, so I decided to try something. I pulled out a box of manicotti shells, and decided to try crock pot stuffed manicotti. I stuffed the cheese into the center of the uncooked manicotti shells, added some extra water to the sauce, and layered it up in my crock pot. Hopefully it will work similar to crock pot lasagna. If not, we'll get a good laugh at yet another cooking flop on my part, and we'll either make the best of it or figure something else out.

Part of the deal with our relocation is that they will move the freezer for us, but it has to be emptied out before they will move it. Uggh! That is a LOT of ground beef, steak, and venison to eat in the next month. And I'm not really much of a red meat person, so finding meals that I actually enjoy eating is going to be quite a challenge. I will either have developed quite an affection for red meat by the end of this, or I will be 100% sick of it, and we'll live on chicken & fish for a week straight! We'll see.

Lunch today was cheeseburger sliders. Love that! My mom and Mike got me a slider skillet for my birthday, and I've used it a few times now. I'm starting to get a pretty good technique! :) So easy really, and the kids eat them so much better than a big giant cheeseburger. (I know it's hard to tell in this picture, but the buns are actually dinner rolls. They sort of look like full-size sandwiches in this photo.)

I also improved on a bit of a snack for later. I used peach applesauce & strawberry applesauce in the dehydrator to make homemade fruit roll-ups. Hopefully they taste okay. We'll see. This could be a really interesting eating night. :)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Food Revolution!

I'm sure that you all have heard about this... Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. I missed the first episode on TV, but was so pumped to see that the whole episode is posted online. So I sat down tonight (after a 3-hour trip to the grocery store, ironically enough), and watched it. LOVED the concept! This has been a topic that has had my interest for some time now, and has been much of the catalyst to our Dining In endeavour. I realize that we have become way to dependent on and accustomed to fast food, processed food, and the like. And with everything in me, I am DETERMINED to make a change. I desperately want to find ways to prepare fresh, healthy meals that will work into our schedule. I want to create good habits for my kids, and for us as a family. I know that it is vital, for so many reasons, not the least of which is that we are working totally contrary to God's design and will for us when we put garbage into our amazingly designed body systems.

If you missed the first episode, here's a link to it: Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.
If you're at all interested, please take the time to watch it. I just think that it's so easy to forget how much really yucky junk is actually in the processed foods and all that is such a normal part of the every-day American way. This episode was a direct reminder and a push toward fresh whole foods. Mmm hmm. I feel inspired and ready to make up a menu!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Girls' night out!

This evening I went to a friend's house, where about 30 women were all gathered together. A local salon donated their services, and gave manicures, pedicures, facials, and all kinds of other great stuff! I got a pedicure and a scalp massage. *sigh* Soooo nice! It was just absolutely so much fun to hang out and talk and get to know new people and just relax. I love little blessings like this in life.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Egg Crazy

Okay, finally I've gotten around to Sebastian's 2009 Easter Egg Hunt layout. Can't do one for the other two and not for the third! I used a cute little mini-kit by Kaye Winiecki... isn't this little Easter bunny adorable?!
(Image is linked)
I had to laugh as I was looking through our pictures of Sebastian hunting for his eggs... a lot of the pictures are just him wandering around looking confused... that would be because "The Easter Bunny" *coughDaddycough* felt the need to be a little extra tricky with Sebastian's eggs! So the poor kid had to climb trees, climb the swing set, dig through plants, and even look around the air conditioner unit on the side of the house. Poor kid... those are the breaks when you're the oldest I guess! LOL!

Journaling: The egg hunt tradition might be "fun" for some, but to you, it's serious business! The moment we turn you loose, you are off on a mission to find those eggs! You get a bit egg crazy, but it's so much fun to watch! And of course, Daddy makes sure your eggs are in some tricky hiding spots.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Progress Report

Well, so far, we've talked with the home loan financial guy & have a pre-approval in place; we have an appointment with one of the real estate agents for selling this house; and I've talked with the real estate agent who will be helping us find a house in Ohio. All within the last 24 hours. We're still at the front end of things, but we are definitely making progress.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Not a lot of scrap time to speak of, but I was REALLY needing a battery recharge after the long week of cleaning. Solution: bust out a template! I used one of Fizzy's new So Simple templates. This page came together start to finish in about 45 minutes.

Journaling: "As I sit at a distance on this day, your fourth birthday, I pause to breathe it all in. Where has the time gone? Where is my tiny baby? I see before me a little girl with so much life in her. I see a precious gift, whom I love more than life. On this day you have taken my breath away with your beauty, and the fullness of all that you are. On this day, I pray that you will live life always with the energy and passion that is in you today."

(Click here to view full credits.)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dual DS's

Last October, we had our first round of parent-teacher conferences, at which time, we were informed by Isaac's teacher that he was doing great academically, but that he was really struggling socially. He was having outbursts, like snapping crayons and smashing others' projects. He was also not playing with others, generally speaking, and had pretty much made zero friends at his new school. I spoke at length with the teacher, both then and in subsequent conversations. We tried to find things that we could work on together to help Isaac make progress in the areas where he was struggling.

One of the things we did at home - well, pretty much, Lucas did (and I totally agreed with, but it was just really an Isaac and Daddy thing) - was to give Isaac some pretty big incentive. For those of you who know Isaac at all, you know that he is completely and totally motivated by electronics... wii, PlayStation, computer, and DS. One thing he has been wanting for quite some time is his own DS. So Lucas sat down and talked with him about his behavior. He told him that if he would work really hard through school, change his attitude, stop acting out at others, make a true effort at making friends, etc consistently for the next few months in school, then he would take him to get his very own DS.

Well... last week we had our second and final parent-teacher conferences of the school year. Again, Isaac was doing very well academically. Reading at a high second-grade / low third-grade level, doing great in math and science, and writing very well. All great! But the best part was that his behavior section had all positives! No outbursts. No tantrums. No attitude. And he has been really opening up and making friends, interacting with others, and so on. I can't even begin to tell you how happy I was, and I could just see Isaac's face light up as we were talking about it at the conference.

That night, after conferences, we went home and he got to talk to his daddy on the phone. And FINALLY, after six long months of hard work and consistent effort, Isaac earned his DS! So yesterday, amid other things (like a trip to the movie theater to watch Alice in Wonderland in IMAX 3D.... sweet), we took a trip to Wal-Mart, where Isaac got to pick out his DS. He chose a red one. He was sooooo very excited! And he should be! He definitely worked hard for that sucker! The first thing they did when they got home (after the movie) was find a game that they could play battle-style with their 2 DS's.

Friday, March 19, 2010


On the list for today: Shampoo all of the carpets and scrub the hard floors. Anything beyond that is bonus! I figured, it's supposed to be a gorgeous day - the last one for a few days, according to the weather experts - so I'll send the kids outside to play, open up the house and get to work! That's the plan in a nutshell. Off to get started so I can get done. Later!

Make a Wish

Wow, things have been non-stop around here this week! I am definitely feeling it with Lucas being out of town during the week! He gets home this afternoon... can't wait to see him!

In the midst of all the activity, I did manage to get ONE layout done this week... I guess one is better than none, right? And I am REALLY liking the way it turned out, which is always a bonus!

Here's the kit I used... Make a Wish... a collaboration by Sahlin Studio and Spotted Dog Design.

I pulled out some un-scrapped pictures from Sebastian's birthday party last year. I usually really struggle to scrap birthdays... and pretty much every major holiday. But this one came together REALLY easily. I am seriously liking this kit, and will most likely be using it for a few more un-scrapped birthday pictures. Maybe I can just get them all done (just in time for more pictures this year, right?)

Journaling: This year you wanted a monkey birthday. And of course, Grandma H. came through with amazing results. She made you your own big monkey cupcake, & smaller cupcakes for the guests. You couldn't have been happier! And yes, you just had to be a monkey!

(Click here to view full credits.)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

So Close

Well, after a long, hard weekend of packing, stacking, and rearranging, we are SO CLOSE to being able to get our house on the market! We have every bedroom, closet, the living room, the kitchen, and the basement all arranged and in order. I have only to do a bit of cleaning - appliances, the kids' bathroom, the carpets - and we should be completely set! I can't tell you how good it feels to have things in order. I just can't understand why I waited five years to get our house put together like this. ??? Oh well... gives me some ideas for how to do things differently in the next house.

Our living room...

Why am I showing you my bathroom? Because I LOVE it! LOVE, I tell you! I bought a shelf and a new shower curtain, added a few candles that I had stashed around... LOVE it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sebastian's Birthday Song for Me

I know my birthday has come and gone, but I just have to document this so I don't forget it. Sebastian rearranged the words to the 'Happy Birthday' song for me.

Happy Birthday to you.
You are 32.
You are the best mom.
And I love you.

Dining In

Last night for dinner we had some chicken & veggie stew that I had made a few weeks ago and froze. It heated up nicely in the crock pot and made for a quick & easy meal after gymnastics and before small group (about a 20-minute window to eat and clean up).

Tonight's dinner was homemade pizzas on whole wheat thin crust. One was ham, pepperoni, green peppers, black olives, and pineapple (that is my favorite pizza concoction!), and the other was plain ol' pepperoni, green peppers and 1/2 black olives. We had a friend over for dinner, so it was a nice, laid-back dinner for hanging out and chatting. Plus, easy clean-up before church.

Spring Fever!

The sun is shining! The snow is melting!! The air is warming up!!! I am definitely in the mood for spring! And it was so refreshing to see a few new spring-themed kits hitting the digi stores! I did a few layouts with the new Build-Your-Own-Collab kit (BYOC) at the Lilypad... LOVE the spring colors!

All of these pictures are from Easter 2009.

Bunny Ears: While I was trying to get NICE pictures of the three kids on Easter morning, a bunny ears battle broke out! They were seriously cracking up! It was the funniest thing ever... so much for 'good' pictures... these were even better!

(Click here to view full credits.)

Egg Hunt Layouts: So I managed to get a layout done for Isaac and for Meagan. I have every intention of doing one of Sebastian as well. I just have been rather short on scrapping time lately! I'll get to it! Will probably come right back to this kit for it... LOVE it!

(Click here to view full credits.)

(Click here to view full credits.)

I am SO ready to bust the windows wide open and send the kids outside to play (minus snow boots!). Spring fever has definitely set in!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Have I Ever Mentioned...

Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE my husband?! Seriously. For starters, remember that we're in the midst of house prep/messiness... and the basement has caught the major bulk of it, since it is, in fact, a basement. Also know that the basement is the place where all the kids go during small group (which will be held at our house tomorrow, like every Tuesday night). Well, tonight at dinner, he mentioned something about having to do something with the mess in the basement before tomorrow. My heart sank. I had totally forgotten, and I had already made plans to go to the grocery tonight (as this was the only night of the week I would be able to pull it off kid-free...bonus). Oh well, not the first time I've had to rearrange plans... no big deal. Then after we finished eating, he took my hand and drug me downstairs to the basement...

NO MESS! While Meagan, Isaac and I were at gymnastics tonight, Sebastian and Lucas completely cleaned and organized (as much as possible for the moment, anyhow) the entire basement... even swept the floor with a shop vac. LOVE. I can't tell you how happy I was!!

LOVE. That's all I can say about that! :)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In Disarray

Well, we've wiped down most of the walls that really needed it; we've taken down pictures; we've patched and sanded the walls... just waiting to go get the paint on Friday so we can do some touching up.

As of right now, our house is in total disarray. There are piles of picture frames that have been taken down but not yet packed away. There is furniture that has been pulled away from the walls and is currently sitting at random in the middle of the room. There is laundry overflowing in the boys' hamper, and clean laundry overflowing on the ground. There are boxes and bags and piles in virtually every room.

And we have people coming over for small group tonight. Hmmm... could be interesting.

I'm just taking a quick break from all of the vacuuming and wiping and organizing and throwing away. But I'm about to get back to it. Hopefully I can at least find the living room and kitchen before this evening. Not sure where to put everything. Until I get some packing boxes, it may all end up piled high in our bedroom. Oh well. Temporary, right? That's what I keep telling myself so I don't go crazy (I may not like cleaning, but I can't stand a cluttery house!).

Pray for us that we get through this with our sanity and peace still in check. Maybe if I get a chance later (on my next break, perhaps), I'll try to post some "really messy house" pictures (LOL) so that you all can laugh at us a bit and get a feel for the chaos we are currently living in!

One step at a time. Keep moving forward. :)