Monday, August 19, 2013

Grade 2

You know what's insane?
That this little baby....

looks like this now...and....

she is starting Second Grade. To think that my baby girl, born at 35 weeks, and declared a miracle from God is now 7 and in 2nd blows my mind. I am truly blessed. God is gracious and He gives more than we deserve.
(2nd Grade pictures coming up. I haven't taken them yet)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Lessons Learned the Hard Way: On Modesty

Have you ever looked at a picture of yourself and positively cringed? I sure have. Have you ever looked at a picture and said "Why did I wear that?" Guilty! I was sitting down the other day, going through my pictures and saw a few that I know I won't be thrilled with my daughter looking at.
See that? If you look super close, you will see that I am indeed wearing a top. (see the halter string?) Classy, huh? I swear, that picture makes me cringe. I wish I could say I was 15 or 16 when this was taken. Nope. Not so. 21, going on 22. Argh. There's something to be said for modesty, trust me. I had a guy ask me out once. I turned him down. He said, "Well, I figured you'd be up for a good time. I've seen the way you dress." Ugh!!!!!! I wish I could tell you that I stopped making bad fashion choices when I had children. Um....

Not so much. My daughter here is graciously covering up my way, way, way too low neckline. Are there more horribly embarrassing and cringeworthy pics? You betcha. Am I going to post them? Not on your life, buddy. This may beg the question of: what were you thinking when you wore those particular outfits? I wanted to be attractive. I wanted attention. I didn't know I would get THAT kind of attention. I was raised by a well-meaning mother, who would critique my fashion choices harshly. I don't hold that against her now, but at the time I rebelled. (hence the way too low necklines and cringeworthy nearly-naked tops) This brings us to now....

Yes. That is a skirt. Yes. It reaches my ankles. No. I don't wear ankle-length skirts every day. As a matter of fact, most of the time I'm in jeans and a t-shirt. I've learned a few things. One, long skirts and dressing modestly is not only for crazy, Bible-thumping  Baptists (the fact that I am a crazy, Bible-thumping Baptist means nothing here...hehe). Two, I was born to be curvy and will never apologize for that. God made me this way. BUUUUT...nobody except my husband needs to see THAT much of me. I know the curves are there, he knows they are there, they don't need to be on display for everyone and their brother to see. I still have a shape, I promise.

Yes, I probably weigh more than I did in my pre-kids days. But you know what? I respect me more. My husband respects me more. And you know what else? I have a daughter now. She SO doesn't need to see her Mama running around town in low-riders and a crop top. (Can you imagine? Yikes...) If you can do that, more power to you. That's just not who I am anymore. I've taught my daughter to "dress for Jesus", and have caught tons of backlash for it. In the end, she is my daughter. She's made her choice.

Reading the Bible has everything to do with my choice to "tone it down." God created me to glorify Him, and I can promise you, wearing short-shorts and a bikini top to the grocery store with my kid in tow doesn't glorify my Savior. But that's just my point of view :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

As Promised, Country Club Chicken

The other day, I was going through my blogs, and on one of my all-time favorites, Full Bellies, I found a dish called Country Club Chicken, and I decided to try it. Because, c'mon, it's chicken. And cheese. And bacon. And I'm trying to get out of my cooking rut. And stalking Sandra's blog has given me so many great recipes...and this was one of them.

So, here goes. Country Club Chicken, adapted from Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom.

Ingredients: 3 chicken breasts
1  onion
1 can concentrated cream of mushroom soup
1 can mushrooms (the original recipe didn't call for this, but I love me some mushrooms)
4 or 5 slices bacon
1/4 cup chicken stock
2/3 cup sharp cheddar
butter or oil
salt and pepper
I just realized I forgot to mention the egg noodles. My chicken stock is in that green bowl (I make my own)....Yes, I know my salt shakers are Santas. Don't judge!
**Season your chicken with salt and pepper
**Fry your bacon, and drain on paper towels

I love bacon. Seriously. Love. I also love taking pictures. Especially of food.

**Set your bacon aside. Add butter to your pan and brown your chicken, then put the chicken in a casserole
**Saute your onion and mushrooms in the pan together

**Add in your chicken stock, cream of mushroom soup, and your cheddar cheese...

When it melts, it becomes this amazing gravy that I swear you could eat with a spoon and be happy with that for dinner. Seriously.

I'm not kidding when I say you could just eat that for dinner. I'm not. Ask my daughter.

**Pour this gravy (if you haven't eaten it) over your chicken and top with crumbled bacon

**Bake the whole delicious mess in a 350 oven for 25-30 minutes. Serve with egg noodles, rice or potatoes. It doesn't matter. It's amazing!
There ya'll go. As easy as this was, it tastes awesome. Ella said it was "one hundred times better than restaurant food." Gabe scraped the casserole clean to get the rest of the sauce.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

One of the greats

My father is one of the greatest people I have ever met. I have almost no memories of him before I turned 8 though. He was in the U.S. working, while my siblings and I were in Poland with our mother. I do remember him sending gorgeous postcards to me. It blows me away that at he would think so much of a three and four year old to send me postcards on a regular basis.

There are pictures somewhere, of a little girl in a polka-dotted dress and a man with a mustache. The man looks thrilled, the girl does not. Sometimes I wish I could go back and tell that little girl "Cherish the time you have with this wonderful man. One day, you are going to be many, many miles apart and he will get sick."

When I was the stressed Mom of a 3-year old with a stomach bug, who had found out that she wasn't going to get paid on payday, and therefore wouldn't make her rent or even buy toilet paper, I went to my Dad's house to cry my eyes out. He swept Ella up and entertained her until she fell asleep. He and I had a long talk about how hard it is to be the only one working in a household (this is before God changed my husband and made him the wonderful provider he is today). I never mentioned the rent. Or the toilet paper. I drank a peach Snapple and ate a few pretzels, then loaded Ella up in the stroller and went to head home.

My father gave me a grocery bag with dinner leftovers and a big hug. He offered to take us home, but I said I needed the walk. I cried the whole way home, while Ella slept in her stroller. When I arrived at my house, my then-boss was waiting for me with my pay. Whew. I paid my rent and unloaded the bag my father had given me. Besides the foil-wrapped plate and another Snapple, there was a four-pack of Angel Soft. I laughed for a good five minutes. How did he know? I had never mentioned it. Still laughing, I felt something shifting in my coat pocket. I reached in, and pulled out the amount I would have needed to cover my rent...and a hundred dollars extra. My father doesn't have money just laying around, so I called him right away to tell him that I didn't need it.

He laughed and said "I have no idea what you are talking about. That's found money. Go enjoy yourself." So I did.

When faced with his cancer diagnosis, my father showed bravery like I had never seen before. When I call and get upset, he is the one to reassure me. He is my picture of self-sacrifice and selflessness. He tells me lame jokes just to make me laugh. When my older sister told me I was "plain", he told me "you are beautiful in ways she can't understand."

Being 700 miles away, my heart breaks that I can't see him right now. We are slowly, ever so slowly, taking steps to move home permanently.

God gave me the most wonderful father. I hope I can make him proud one day.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Dessert Recipe: Crack sticks (drug free)

A while ago, my awesome sister Christina (who really needs a blog about her daily life, but you can find her food blog right here), told me she had made crack sticks for dessert. I thought "what?" but didn't pursue it, as life gets busy around here. Yesterday, they came up in conversation and I actually asked about them. She gave me the recipe (it came from Here, so you'll have to look it up to make sure my measurements were right), and I ended up making it yesterday.

If I'm not mistaken (and I totally could be), the recipe calls for:
One loaf of white bread, crusts removed (I didn't remove crusts, I'm a rebel)
one brick (8 oz) of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 to 1 and a half teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, melted.'s what you do...
Throw together your cream cheese and powdered sugar. Have your kid mix it together.

When you realize that maybe your cream cheese wasn't softened enough, whip out your grandmother's ancient mixer and use that.

Much better!!!! Now, mix your cinnamon and sugar together. You may be asking yourself, are these steps out of order? Probably. I told you before, I'm a rebel. :)

Then, have your kid use a rolling pin to flatten your slice of bread.

After all that is done, you take a slice of bread, spread the cream cheese and sugar mixture on it, roll it up and....

... dip it into the melted butter and the cinnamon sugar. There are no pictures of this, as my hands were sticky from all the cinnamon sugar. When your bread is all rolled and dipped, it should look like this.

If it doesn't, don't worry, I'm sure it'll taste fine.

Put a whole bunch of them on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. I would have had pictures of them after they baked...if my husband and child hadn't eaten every.last.bite. Seriously, they are that good!!!!! Thanks to my awesome sister for a dessert I wouldn't have thought to make. And as promised, these Crack Sticks are 100% drug free.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Shopping Trip Post! How we saved 63%!

I've had a lot of people ask me how I can save so much. The answer is, lots of planning and lots of stores., I didn't plan a ton and I only went to one store, whoops! I guess I would just say watch the sales, and keep a whole lotta coupons on your person...just in case :)

Ella and I went to Lowe's Foods, where they blessedly double coupons.
This is my increasingly tomboyish kid, loitering
Some people hate shopping with their children. I am not one of these people. After all, eventually they get old enough to help!

We saw London Broil on sale, buy one get one free. Um, yeah! You better believe I got some of those!

I bought other meat, too. If a meal doesn't have meat in it, Gabe will look at me weird. Unless it's potato soup. Then, we're good. Ella asked for pork chops this week, and we were able to get those. Yay for meat sales! I'd be done for if not for them. We took time to look through our coupons.

I'm going to need to upgrade to one of those huge coupon binders, I can feel it. Blah. In total I think I only used three coupons: a 75 cent one for the string cheese (it doubled to 1.50), a 50 cent one for the yogurt (which was on sale for 50 cents each, and the coupon doubled to 1.00, so I got two yogurts free!), and a 1.00 one for the cereal which was on sale anyway. I also gave away about 3 dollars worth of coupons to different people around the store. Not a lot of people coupon in North Carolina, and I try my best to teach them when I can.
At Lowe's Foods, you get a 5 cent discount for every reusable shopping bag you use. It may not seem like much, but it adds up!

I only brought 62 dollars with me to the store. I bought almost 80 dollars worth of stuff for only 48.76, with a savings of $30.80, which for a shopping trip with almost no previous planning and very little actual couponing is pretty darn good!

This is our haul! Everything from meat to cheese to spaghetti sauce.

And here is Ella with my receipt! All in all, like I said, we didn't plan much and there wasn't a terrible lot of couponing done, but it was still pretty awesome! Happy Couponing!!!!