Thursday, April 30, 2009

Side Recipes

Every once in a while I ask a bunch of friends to send me their recipes so that I can get some new ones. I only had two respond this time but between the three of us there are some pretty good recipes. If you have a different one I would love to have it! You do not have to be a member of blogger to leave a comment. Anyone can.

TACO SALAD (from Autumn)
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
2 cups cheddar cheese
1 head iceberg lettuce, washed, drained and shredded
1 pound lean ground beef, browned, crumbled drained and cooled
1 cup Italian salad dressing
1 cup creamy french salad dressing
1 bag Doritos (crushed in bag)
1 taco seasoning pack

Directions
Combine the ground beef, taco seasoning and cheese together in large bowl. Ad the lettuce and tomatoes. Just before serving mix with the salad dressing and crushed chips. Ad additional dressing to taste.



CRUNCHY ASIAN SALAD (from Autumn)
1 env. GOOD SEASONS Italian Dressing Mix
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 pkg. (3 oz. each) ramen noodle soup mix
2 pkg. (16 oz. each) coleslaw blend
4 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup Dry Roasted Sunflower Kernels
1/2 cup Sliced Almonds, toasted

Directions:
PREPARE dressing mix in small bowl as directed on envelope. Stir in sugar and soy sauce.
BREAK apart Noodles; place in large bowl. Discard Seasoning Packet or reserve for another use. Add coleslaw blend, onions, sunflower kernels and almonds to noodles; mix lightly.
ADD dressing; toss to coat. Serve immediately.

I have a really similar salad to the one above….
1 bag broccoli slaw
2 packs Ramen noodle soup (chicken) broken up
½ cup sunflower seeds
2-3oz cashew halves smashed
½ a bunch of green onions
Dressing:
¼ cup oil
¼ cup vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
Chicken flavoring from soup
Mix all the salad ingredients together.
Mix all the dressing ingredients together.
Put dressing on just before serving.


GREEK PASTA SALAD (from Autumn)
3 cups farfalle (bow-tie pasta),
uncooked 2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup KRAFT Natural Mediterranean Style Cheese Crumbles
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup drained canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed
1/2 cup KRAFT Greek Vinaigrette Dressing

Directions
COOK pasta as directed on package; drain. Place in large bowl.
ADD remaining ingredients; mix lightly.
SERVE immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.



HOLIDAY SALAD
Salad: Romaine lettuce, baby spinach, cashews, craisins (one bag), 2-3 granny smith apples

Dressing: Mix 1/3 cup sugar, 1 cup canola oil, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp celery salt, 1 tsp garlic salt

Add dressing just before serving. Serves 4-6


This is from my friend Felchia
1cup water
1cup light veg oil. (i think its called canola oil) its thinner than reg veggie oil
1cup apple cyder vinigar
1cup sugar
(put all ingredients into a jar and shake really well then add some sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and thinly sliced red onion and let the veggies set in the dressing for a few hours before serving.)


GRAPE SALAD
2 pounds red grapes
2 pounds green grapes
8oz cream cheese, softened
8oz sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Brown sugar
Chopped pecans

Mix together sour cream, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Stir in grapes. Chill. Just before serving sprinkle with brown sugar and chopped pecans for topping.


RANCH CHEX MIX
8 cups Kellogg’s Crispix cereal
1 ½ cups cheez-its
1 cup small twist pretzels or rings
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 packet of hidden valley original ranch dips mix

In 2-gallon zipper-type storage bag, combine crispix cereal, cheez-its and pretzels. Pour oil over mixture. Close bag and gently toss until evenly coated. Add packet of ranch dips mix and close bag. Gently toss until evenly coated. Store in airtight container.


FRUIT SALSA WITH CINNAMON CRISPS
Cinnamon crisps
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 Old El Paso flour tortillas for burritos (8 in)
1 tablespoon water

Salsa
1 small orange
2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped (2 cups)
½ cup finely chopped fresh strawberries
1 medium peach, peeled, pitted and finely chopped (2/3 cup)
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple jelly

1. Heat oven to 400. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. In small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon.
2. .Lightly brush both sides of each tortilla with water. Lightly sprinkle about 1.2 teaspoon sugar-cinnamon mixture over each side of each torilla. Cut each totilla into 8 wedges; place on cookie sheet.
3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet; place on wire rack. Cool completely, about 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile grate peel from orange; squeeze orange to make about ¼ cup juice. In medium bowl, mix orange peel, orange juice and remaining ingredients.
5. Serve salsa with cinnamon chips.

Peek-a-boo





Jason has been playing peek-a-boo for a while now. Usually he would hide behind a curtain or chair or something and stick his head in and out and just laugh. After a while he started to actually say "peek-a-boo" and now he is finally figuring out that he can play using his hands.... but he is a little confused.

He was playing peek-a-boo by covering just about any part of his face but his eyes.









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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Project 365

April 25, 2009

Liza is one cool girl! She loves her sunglasses and she actually leaves the bandana on. I use it because it keeps her head and ears from getting a sunburn.

April 26, 2009

Jason woke up this morning with a fever and he was just so sad all day. Look how sad his cute little face is. (And look how big he is!) I really hate when he is sick but I have been getting a ton of hugs from him... that's kind of nice.

April 27, 2009

I know it's not a very good picture but Liza was just soooo excited that she could "make ten". I love when she learns something new.

April 28, 2009

We played outside for a little while today and the kids really love it. It's a little blurry but Liza is holding a small flower she found and she is smelling it... this is the face she ALWAYS makes when smelling a flower. And Jason just likes to get his trucks and boats and hang out on the step. He pushes his truck around while saying "vrrooom vrooom". My kids are awesome.

April 29, 2009

Now that Mike is back to work I have had to rework my mornings a bit to make them work for me and the kids. When I hear Liza wake up I go in and change her and then give her a bunch of books to read in her bed while I shower. After I am done she brings her books in and sits on my bed and reads. It's really cute.

Not so smart?

Forget all those genius comments I make about my daughter.

Yesterday we were outside and she was playing in the sandbox. I heard her say "I hafta put it in my eye." And then she threw a handful of sand in her face.

Perhaps she has book smarts but is lacking in common sense haha.

Monday, April 27, 2009

She's full of surprises

Liza is smart. She picks things up real quick. Always has. Today we were talking about school because Mike takes classes at a Bible school on Monday nights. Liza was all curious about what school is all about and I told her it is where she learns about letters and numbers and colors and stuff like that.

So when Daddy went to school... Liza wanted to go to school too. After we got dinner all cleaned up I got out some of the wooden puzzles we have. Shapes for Jason (which he doesn't quite get yet) and numbers for Liza. We have been working on 1-10 and she has been able to recognize them for quite a while now. However the puzzle we have goes from 0-9. A few days ago I just showed her how to make a ten with the 1 and the 0. She has never showed me that she recognized that number before. But today when we sat down with the puzzle the first thing she did was say "I have to make a ten" and she put the 1 and 0 together.

I find so much value and purpose in being a stay at home mom. It works for me.

It made a difference.

The other night I was woke up by Liza crying. This happens only once in a great while so when she does cry I go to her. I don't know what wakes her up but usually she just needs to know things are ok and a good hug. This night was the usual thing.... except for that she had peed through her diaper and her bed and clothes were soaked.

I really hate being disturbed from a good sleep but kids are kids and they need me. So I did the whole mom thing... changed her, hugged her, cleaned the bed and got her all settled again. I wouldn't say it was fun and I would have rather not had to do it but someone had to... and usually the middle of the night stuff falls on me... which is ok because Mike has to get up to work. It's just really easy when you are tired to get in the habit of thinking things like "why can't HE get out of bed at night for once and take care of the kids! Why does it always have to be ME!?"

But this night was different... when I got back in bed Mike gave me a hug and said "You're a good mommy." And that made all the difference. I fell back asleep with a smile on my face.

I have a good husband.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hair Cuts

I really hate the idea of having to pay someone to cut my kids hair when they are so young. So we do it ourselves. Liza and Jason both needed a haircut so last night we got out the clippers and scissors and got it done.

We put on a movie and gave them some snacks and drinks to get them to sit still. It kind of worked haha. We got the job finished though and I think their hair looks nicer.

This was Jason's third haircut. I think the clippers were tickling him a little. He kept trying to get away.



This was actually Liza's first hair cut ever. Her hair grew in nice enough that it just never really needed done. And then it kept getting longer and longer and I just couldn't cut it. But I realized that the ends really needed to go so I did it... finally. She sat really well... until she turned around and saw some hair on the floor and I told her it was hers. Then she kind of freaked out a little bit haha and wouldn't let me at her hair anymore. So I had to trick her. I showed her the scissors and told her I was putting them away and then set them behind me. Then I told her I just wanted to comb her hair some more. Once she settled down and got back in to the movie I brought the scissors out to finish. I don't think it is super even... but for not really knowing what I am doing I think I did a fine job. :)




Sandbox

Last summer it was hard to get outside a lot because Jason was so small and Liza was learning to listen and stay in boundaries. It was disastrous most days because Liza would be running off in one direction and Jason would be rolling away in the other.

But this years things are a lot easier. Liza knows her boundaries and listens most of the time and Jason is learning too. I decided we needed something fun for the backyard. We have a slide and a little lawn mower and bubbles but I wanted something different. I walked around Toys-r-Us trying to find something that I thought both Liza and Jason could enjoy and something that could be used for a few more years. I decided on this sandbox.


The kids really love it.



It's half water and half sand and neither space is huge... perfect for small kids. It comes with some boats and a shovel and a few other toys and Liza could stand at it and play for a loooong time. Last night her little friend Ava came over to play with us too.



Jason isn't too sure about the sand side but he loooves the water. He just stood in the same spot splashing away until his whole front was soaked. It was so cute to watch. He would splash and then get water on his face and he would make these cute little funny faces. Then he would bust out this great big smile and laugh and do it all over again.



I am sure we will be spending quite a bit of time this summer at the sandbox.

And here are some pictures of the faces that I love to love.

Family Day

The weather has been AWESOME lately! 80 degrees and sunny. It feels soooo good to get outside with the kids after the long winter. Liza and Jason look so cute in shorts!

There was a little festival in Slippery Rock so we ate and early lunch and headed over. We are borrowing this awesome double jogging stroller from my brother and his wife since they don't need it yet and it is seriously the best thing ever. The kids like it and it is sooo much easier to push around than the other double stroller that I have. Plus... with putting them both in one stroller instead of each one in their own means that Mike gets to do all the work and I get to walk around taking pictures. :)



The kids always end up leaning on each other and I think it is super cute.



After we walked around the festival for a little bit and I bought a cool necklace from my friend Octavia we stopped to run around for a little bit in a field on campus. The kids love having the freedom to run around in a safe place. And Mike and I really enjoy watching them. They are seriously the cutest kids ever and I have no idea how my heart ever managed to have enough room to love three people so much.





We really enjoy getting out to do things as a family and we are really looking forward to all the fun we will have this summer.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Project 365

April 18, 2009

Jason has learned how to climb and he is doing it a lot.

April 19, 2009
I've really been slacking this month. I think that is three days already that I already forgot to use my camera. Sad. I think part of it was that I was doing a ton of editing and saving and ordering photos... so since I worked with pictures all day I didn't realize that I didn't take any.

April 20, 2009I ordered over 650 pictures from yorkphoto.com and they came in the mail today. I love getting my pictures through this website. They always have great deals... I got free shipping on this order and saved a TON... and they have great quality and customer service.

April 21, 2009

Jason has learned where his belly is. He also knows head, ears and feet.

April 22, 2009

Liza's buddy Ava came over to play today. It was kind of crazy... usually they play extremely well together but they were kind of bossy and pushy this time... both of them. Maybe something has leaked in to the water.

April 23, 2009

We always pray at dinner time and we fold our hands. I try to teach Liza things like that not because I believe God only hears us if we fold our hands... but because it keeps her hands of the food while we pray haha. The other day I noticed Jason had caught on and folded his hands too. And now when you ask him about praying he folds his hand. I'm a happy mommy.

April 24, 2009
I just realized that this post is mostly Jason. But it makes sense since he seems to be doing something new every day. He has figured out how to turn the tv on and off. Poor Liza just wants to watch a movie and all Jason wants to do is play with the buttons.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

100 Ways to Simplify Your Life

My book group is reading 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life by Joyce Meyer. I've only read 16 of the 100 ways so far but I have to say that I am really enjoying the book. It is giving me a nice list of things that I can tackle, one at a time, and end up with a much simpler life. Some of the suggestions are things that I am already good at... like saying no and getting rid of clutter and staying out of debt... but some will definitely take me some time to work out. Habits are hard to change!

There are two things that have already been put on my list of things to work on about myself...

1. Let go of what lies behind.
The past isn't something that I always dwell on but I do from time to time look back and see all the things I could have done differently. Meyer put a quote from Johnny Cash in the book that I really like... "You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time or any of your space." Sounds good to me. Don't dwell on it. Don't give it your energy or your time. It's done and can't be changed. Learn from it and move on.

2. Be yourself.
I'm usually pretty good at this but from time to time I question who I am. I'm different. I always have been. I know what I think and believe and I'm not afraid to speak up. A lot of the time I am going against the flow. I'm not afraid to rock the boat so to speak. I'm not afraid to think big and do big. But I have found that a lot of people have a problem with this... with the way I am. Soooo from time to time I get a bit down and start thinking that maybe I should try to be different. Maybe stop sharing the "real me". I know this is stupid thinking. But we all lose a little confidence in who we are once in a while. Of course I know that I am not perfect and there are always things about me and my character that can use some work... but at the core I am what God made me to be.

With this struggle going on in my head lately because of some things that have happened in different relationships this point on being yourself was really encouraging to me. Ralph Waldo Emerson said "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." And Joyce Meyer says in the book, "Learn how to just relax with others and be yourself. If they reject you, they reject what God created, not what you have created."

I look forward to reading the next 84 things that can help me simplify my life. :)

I love that she can talk!

Now that Liza can talk quite well she is constantly amusing me with the things she says. A lot of it she repeats from what she hears me say. Like when I always tell her she is ridiculous when she does something funny... the other day she did something and said "I redicus".

Last night at dinner she was eating her applesauce with her hands... slurping it right off her fingers. I told her it was disgusting.

Just a few minutes ago I was changing Jason's diaper. Of course I had to tell Jason my thoughts and said "nice fart stains Jason"... after which Liza sang out "fart staain. fart staaain. Disgusting." hahaha.

It's a house full of humor.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Frustrated!

I have a coupon for a free photo book from Ritz Camera store. It expires at the end of May so I decided I better get working on it and started a photo book of my vacation in Florida. After making quite a bit of progress I checked out the coupon and realized that I might not be able to us it online... which would mean I would have to make it at the kiosk in the store. So I called and asked... and the girl said I had to do it in the store.

I was bummed.... first the store in my town closed about two weeks ago so the closest one is 40 minutes away... although I would have had to go there to pick it up anyways. And second.... there is no way that I can sit in a store and work this whole thing out... it would just take way too long.

So... I built it all on the computer and then wrote down what I had put on each page so that I could make it exactly the same in the store. The problem was that when I got to the store they didn't have all the same options.... you couldn't even tilt a picture and that is a big must for me and scrapping. I hate when everything is straight the whole way through. Just not my style.

After talking to the guy working for a minute about how the internet is better I found out that I actually could use my coupon online... there is just a small trick to it. Ugh. And I didn't take my computer with me... so now I have to order it from home and drive down there again someday to pick it up.

I was soooo frustrated. I did enjoy my day shopping and all that but the whole reason for the trip in the first place was to get the stupid photo book!

Monday, April 20, 2009

I think I could cry.

The past two weeks I have been having a hard time with Liza at nap time. Some days she just won't sleep. I can't make her. I will make her stay in her bed for a REALLY long time. I don't give in easily. But what do you do when it turns in to dinner time and she still hasn't fallen asleep and it doesn't appear that she will.

It's frustrating. It wasn't too long ago that I finally got Jason and Liza on the exact same routine and I ALWAYS look forward to getting 2-3 hours in my day alone while the kids sleep. It's a necessary time for me to get things done or to just relax.

But I'm afraid that Liza is weaning herself off of naps. :( I remembered how it went when she went from two naps down to one. Some days she would need those two naps and then some days she wouldn't. It was a process that happened over two or three months. The past two weeks... some days she needs the nap and some days she doesn't.

I don't know what I will do if she just stops with the naps. That will mean that I have no time to myself... ever. And I have ALWAYS needed time to myself. But without naps from the time I wake up till the time I go to bed someone will be wanting my attention, needing me to do something for them, sharing my space.

I really might just cry. And if I go insane this might be the reason why.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rachel and Greg

A few weeks ago Mike's sister got engaged. I've never done engagement pictures for anyone before but I told her I would give it a try if she would like to save some money. And who doesn't want to save money! So I got my chance....

I started looking online to see what other people do for engagement pictures. I saw a lot of really great ones but they were on the beach, or at some cool place in a some cool city, or at a beautiful park with amazing trees and I kind of freaked out. For lots of reasons.

1. I don't live by water and beautiful beaches.
2. I don't live in a city with lots of cool places that are fun for photographs.
3. It's just the beginning of spring and there are no leaves on the trees, therefore everything looks dead.
4. We don't have any beautiful parks.

I had to drive around town to find some buildings that would do well for a nice background. Thankfully there were some gorgeous churches and this nice little wall with a graffiti advertisement... which is where I got the heart... which I love (and don't care if you don't.)

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the shoot...







I had a really great time doing this. I love taking pictures and capturing memories for people and I am pleased with how these pictures turned out. They have asked me to do their wedding as well (because who doesn't like free!) and that totally freaks me out... because doing a wedding is completely different.

By the way... I think Rachel is beautiful!

Project 365

April 10, 2009

My friends got married today! YAY! They didn't want to pay a photographer so they asked me to do it for them. I wasn't real pleased with most of the pictures though... of course it didn't help that it rained all day and we couldn't go outside for pictures. I need to learn more about lighting. But I did get them a few good ones and lots of fun snapshots. This is one of my favorites.

April 11, 2009

Liza has taught Jason how to scream. They will go back and forth as loud as they can. Jason always cracks me up though because he screws his whole face up just to get that big scream out. He's amusing.

April 12, 2009
We visited with Mike's family on Easter. The kids love spending time with their grandparents and aunts. And I am pretty sure that Grandpa has just as much fun as they do.

April 13, 2009

I found some cute and cozy pajama pants for Jason at the thrift store. I would like a pair in my size please.

April 14, 2009

Jason was playing with the ball and Liza would steal it from him. I told her she had to share and play nice and then she gave the ball back to Jason. A few seconds later I looked and up didn't see Jason. I found him hiding with the ball behind the chair haha. He's too cute!

April 15, 2009
I completely forgot about using my camera today.

April 16, 2009
It was a beautiful day so we went to the park. Liza loves picking the "flowers". And of course if you look closely at the photo you will see that she also loves to put her sunglasses on by herself.

April 17, 2009
Mike's sister got engaged a few weeks ago. I offered to try to get some engagement pictures for her to save her some money. This is one of my favorites.

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