Faith, Family, Friends, Fellowship, Food, and Fun

Friday, February 29, 2008

Favorite Ingredients Friday

Overwhelmed With Joy is hosting Favorite Ingredients Friday, stop by her site to see what others are cookin'. I'm trying to get all my meatless meals posted so I'll add another one today. This is my absolute favorite. I used to make it for guests and they always asked for the recipe before they left. I don't get to eat it very often any more because my DH doesn't like artichokes. For more meatless meals, just click on the label "meatless meals" at the bottom of this post.

Parmesan, Pasta, & Artichoke Bake by
8 oz pasta shells (I use small)
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 -13 3/4 oz cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 c grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 c whipping cream
1/2 t salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Preheat oven to 375. Spray 8" pan.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium high. Add oil & saute garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Add artichokes & saute until light golden, about 3 minutes. Add 1 c Parmesan, cream, salt & pepper.
5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, & simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.
5. Mix pasta with sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake 20 minutes.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I stole it

No, I didn't really steal it but it seems like I did. This Brighton purse retails for $240 and I just got it for $40. It's in almost brand new condition. Funny thing is I was walking into my classroom after lunch today and I thought about the brown shoes I was wearing as I carried the same black purse I've had since before Lauren was born. I thought I wish I could find a reasonably priced purse that has black and brown. Then I thought about the brown purse my mom bought for me last year and how I've used it only once because who has time to change purses? Okay, so that thought happened at exactly 1:00 today. At 2:51 a friend at work posted this purse for sale on our district "swap shop". At 2:56 I read the message and called her. It was mine by 3:00. Yippee for me! And as I was walking out with my new purchase, Vanessa's email was filling up with other interested buyers. It's mine all mine. What a great day!


Baked Penne with Mushrooms and Cheese

This recipe has been moved to my recipe blog.

A Clean House- me?

Elizabeth asked me to explain how I got my house looking so clean with 3 children. She is also trying to move to a 4 bedroom house because she too had her 3rd baby last year. Oh Elizabeth, did you hear me laughing all the way at your house? Thank you so much, no one has ever told me I had a clean house- well, Julia asked how I kept my kitchen so clean once and she didn't believe me when I told her we had crammed all the clutter in closets because we knew she was coming. Whenever I go visit friends' with houses where everything is in it's place, I start thinking about how I need to rush home and clean, clean, clean. My friend Mandy has helped me...whenever we get the rare opportunity to go to each other's house, we do NOT clean up for each other. We don't want to get that overwhelmed feeling of making the house look perfect before a guest arrives. We are close enough to know we do not judge each other's home, we are just happy to have the time to see each other, which requires travelling 3 hours. Also Elizabeth once said that she tells her guests something like, 'This is our house, excuse the mess but we LIVE here.' Hope I got that right. It's true though.

I would love to tell you that my house always looks the way it does in the post below but I would be striken down with lightning. Elizabeth, you saw my house when you dropped off the meal, right? Well, that's the way it normally looks. I long for the secret to a clean house. I have tried to take hints from my friend Mrs. Clean but up until last week, it was impossible. It seemed like I'd put one thing away only to turn around and find 3 more things had been left out of place- not just by my children, but also by my husband. For my new readers, I am a working mom. My husband stays home with the kids which is a total blessing but on top of the normal responsibilities of parenting, he has his own business so housework is not a priority to him. As a matter of fact, the only thing Stephen and I ever argue about is cleaning up the house, really!

So I have to give him the credit because he has worked so hard getting the house ready to put on the market. Here's how we did it:
We had a realtor come out in October to tell us how to "stage" the house. We had our own list of things to do but she added to the list. Boy did she add to the list. At the time, we wanted to list on November 1. What were we thinking? We knew the holidays were coming. So we did a few things in December. That was hard, Stephen had 8 or 9 shows in December, we had holiday chores to get done, and Abby was born. In January he started painting. He painted when the kids were asleep, often staying up until 3 on weekends. It seems like we didn't get much done until 2 weeks ago when it was crunch time. One thing that really helps is packing up almost all the kids' books and toys. You can keep the boxes of toys in the garage and rotate them out if you want to. We also packed all our pictures and most of our knick-knacks. We sold our outdated, over-sized entertainment center and spent $40 on a temporary one. That made the living room look huge! I try to pick things up when I go home for lunch. I made a plan for what has to be done if someone wants to come look at the house and we try to do that list every night at 8:00. The whole family stops what we are doing and 1) take all toys out of the living room and into the proper rooms; 2) get the toys out of our room and into the proper rooms; 3) check the bathrooms for things that were out of place; 4) each parent takes one child's room and picks up all the toys/books/clothes; 5) pick up things in our room and bathroom. I can send you the list if you'd like.

After a few nights, it got easier and less and less made it out to the living room. The kids know that shoes go in their closets and are pretty good about that. We have told Lauren the house has to look pretty so people will want to buy it. Sometimes I go in her room when it's messy and tell her that if people come they will ask why it is so messy. Once the kitchen was decluttered (and some things packed), it seems it is easier for Stephen to maintain. He comes in from work at 7 am and does what little dishes may be in the sink. I am just amazed at how it has stayed clean every night and I hope we can keep this routine up in the new house. I hope that helps!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fireplace Fun

I found this neat idea in a Gooseberry Patch book I just got. It saddens me because most of the houses we are looking at to buy don't have fireplaces. I have had a fireplace all my life and have such fond memories of cozy nights by the fireplace.

Christmas Pinecones
Soak pinecones in any of the following solutions. When the pinecones are thrown into your fireplace fire, they will burn different colors.

1/2 lb soda to 1/2 gallon water OR
1/2 lb borax to 1/2 gallon water OR
1/2 lb salt to 1/2 gallon water

After soaking pinecones overnight, remove from solution and place in mesh bags to dry thoroughly.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Why does she keep doing this?

Lauren has been fully potty-trained for over a year now. It was rare that she'd need to get out of bed to go to the bathroom but lately, she has been getting up 4 times in an hour. She stops getting juice one hour before bedtime so we don't think she's drinking too much. We take her to the bathroom right before bed and as soon as we say prayers, give kisses, and close the door, she crawls out of bed and heads to the bathroom again. At first we thought she was doing it just because she could, but now we're not sure. After several nights of her getting up 6 times in an hour, we put a potty chair in her room and told her if she really needed to go, she could use the potty chair. Sure enough the next day there was tee-tee and toilet paper in the potty. Guess who got to it before Daddy? Yep, you must have guessed Caleb. And he poured it over onto the freshly steam-cleaned carpets. Gross! Stephen said no more potty chair. The next night when the games began, we threatened that if nothing "came out" we would take all her friends out of her bed. Well, she got up, nothing came out, and we took her friends. She didn't get up again that night. We wondered if there could truly be a problem so last week Stephen took her to the doctor. They ran tests and all the tests came back clear. The doctor did say that it could be a "tickle" where she thinks she needs to go. That made sense, there was a time that she went to the bathroom, we loaded up the van, and as soon as we pulled out of the driveway she said she had to go potty. Last night we were at our wits' end. It was already after 10 which meant Stephen would get less than 5 hours of sleep and after all the work he's done (see post below), he is physically and mentally exhausted. I was nursing Abby and Lauren got up even after Stephen took all her friends AND threatened to take her Piggy the next time. Piggy is her BEST friend. He has been with her her whole life. She has never had to sleep without Piggy. We didn't want to do it, but she got up again. And there was no tee-tee. So Stephen took Piggy. I've never heard her scream and cry and yell like that before. We were lucky Caleb had not woken up in the adjacent room. Stephen looked at me and told me that is like taking away someone's baby. We felt horrible and tried to come up with an alternative. Pull-ups? Stephen went in to trade Piggy for Pull-ups and Lauren didn't want to do that. He tried to talk to her and she said she wanted to talk to me, that's funny, does she think that her daddy just doesn't understand? So she got up on the bed with me and talked it out like a 15 year old, "Mommy, I don't want Pull-ups, I'm not a baby." So I told Stephen that I didn't like the psychology involved and wanted to try something else. After a long talk, I asked Stephen if we should try the potty chair just one more time. At least she would not be bothering us. So we agreed and Lauren did not leave her room again. As a matter of fact, before Stephen fell asleep, we heard the lid of the potty chair go up.....and this morning there was potty with a neatly folded -into a square- piece of toilet paper in the bottom (she's OCD earlier post). So, anyone else experience this sort of thing?

House For Sale (finally)

I never thought it would happen. Our "honey-do" list to get the house ready to sell was so long and it seemed like every time one thing was crossed off, two more things would get added. Stephen did almost all the work. He painted every room except the kids' rooms. He weeded our very overgrown flowerbeds, trimmed the bushes, and planted flowers in the front. Our yard guy came to the rescue to do the back flowerbed. Stephen powerwashed the windows, took out very heavy furniture, and packed what seemed like 100's of boxes to take to storage. It's hard work and then you add a 3 year old, an almost 2 year old (boy who gets into everything), and a 2 month old who nurses for an hour, every 3 hours.
Saturday was such a beautiful day that I took Lauren and Caleb out to play while I planted lots and lots of flowers for hanging baskets. We have a very nice swingset that should have kept the kids' attention but NO...our darling Caleb ate the dirt, tried to eat sticks, and crawled under our deck from one side to the other. (Edited) How could I forget when he dunked his head into a pot of dirt and whirled it around and around. It really seemed gross to me but then I told myself, 'he's a boy and let him do boy things.' Man, it's a wonder that no one got sick or hurt!
After you get it all done, it makes it hard to want to go. If we didn't need a 4th bedroom, we'd stay. It's a wonderful house. It's our first home as a married couple and it's the home we have brought all 3 kids to's just a structure, right? It's family that makes the house a home. So, do you know anyone who wants to buy a much loved home in Aggieland?
And thanks honey for all your hard work. It's just about over.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Favorite Ingredients Friday

Overwhelmed With Joy is hosting Favorite Ingredients Friday side dishes edition. I haven't posted all my side dishes yet but I have to say my Lemon-Chive potatoes are one of my favorites.

It's also Freezer Food Friday. I call my freezer food "make ahead meals". Check out What A Crock for other make ahead meals.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Slow Cooker Thursday

Sandra is hosting Slow Cooker Thursday. Click here for my slow cooker recipes, they are really great as well as quick and easy. We're having a few of them this week if I can remember to thaw the chicken!

My name is Stephanie and I'm a Shlumpadinka

Did you watch Oprah yesterday? Well, I was so happy to find out I am not the only Shlumpadinka out there. Yes, I love my jammies and any clothes that feel like jammies and I miss my old college days where I could get away with running to Target in my jammies! I still live in my college town....over 47,000 shlumpin college students around me here, but I am a teacher now so I hesitate to shlump in public. Besides, my shlumpin butt is getting bigger. No really! I was so proud to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight by the time Abby was 4 weeks old but her doc said she isn't getting enough calories from my milk and he all but told me to switch to formula. So I opted to just eat more. And more. AND MORE. I eat more eggs, chicken, steak, cheese, yogurt, and I drink more milk and a beer once in awhile. Yes, I said beer. A darling friend whose religious beliefs do not allow drinking told me that beer will help increase the calories in my milk. It helped her daughter. So... every couple of days, I'll indulge in a frosty adult beverage. So all that extra eating had better be helping Abby because I have gained 10 pounds back. 10 pounds! And I have a thyroid problem and weight loss has always been next to impossible for me. Thank God Stephen loves me the way I am and I don't have to worry about the extra weight. There is a point here...all this extra weight means my regular clothes are too small and my maternity clothes are toooo big so the few clothes I fit in are some shlumplin clothes. Are you a Shlumpadinka?

My name is Stephanie and I'm a Shlumpadinka

March is quickly approaching

It seems that with each child we have, it gets harder and harder to keep up with what the date is and decorating for each holiday. Every year I start making lists of ideas for the next year but I haven't been successful at keeping all my lists in a good place. We do have a major clutter problem and 3 kids plus my husband's office all in our 3 bedroom home does not help. This is my attempt at getting organized for March, ha! I've decided to try to declutter my home of all the lists I make and fail to get into my organizing binder and instead keep one list here for each month. I'm way OCD about that (read earlier post). See, I can come back and add information any time..from home or work.

1 Decorate for St. Patty's Day buy plates, etc... Print activities for kids
3 Caleb's birthday (2006)
9 Caitlyn's birthday (1999)
11 Aidan's birthday (2004)
17 St. Patrick's Day - have green clover pancakes for breakfast; grasshopper pie
22 Owen's b-day (2007)
25 Lexi's b-day (2003)
26 Ashton's b-day (2005) & the day I met Stephen
31 Mom's birthday

St. Patrick's Day activity websites-

Monday, February 18, 2008


I know this is a little bit obsessive compulsive but hey...OCD runs in my mom's family. I am a compulsive list maker. Don't you catch yourself saying, "That was a great idea, I'll have to remember that next year?" Well, I make lists by month 'for next year'. I even had to start a binder to keep up with my lists, a GIANT, 3" binder. I have lists of party planning ideas, addresses, menu ideas, grocery planners, our family budget, chores (that I sure as heck don't do but hope to one day), etc...

Now I have this great idea that maybe if I keep my thoughts here, I will always know where they are and I won't have to carry a big, heavy binder around anymore. So...basically this post has no other purpose than organizing my life in February. I can add to it as ideas arise. Now I hear you saying, "Stephanie, that's what calendars are for" but who has time to write this stuff on a calendar every year? Not me.

2 Wade's birthday
6 My birthday!
9 Kids make and mail Valentine's cards to family
13 Make a cake or cookies
14 Valentine's Day

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Have you visited Laura's Organizing Junkie site yet? She is the host of Menu Plan Monday, if you're looking for some good recipes, go check out her site- after you read mine of course!

Here's what we're having this week in no particular order:

CREAMY AND CHEESY- all my meals this week are creamy and cheesy, yum yum!

Thanks for stopping by, please leave a comment so I can have a link to visit your blog.

Creamy Chicken & Ham Medley

This fabulous recipe has been moved to Aggieland Mommy Cooks.

Cheesy Rosemary Turkey (or chicken) Bake

Moved to Aggieland Mommy Cooks.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Where have I been, you ask?

Oh my goodness, this has been the busiest week I can remember since planning our wedding as we moved to Aggieland and started new jobs while looking for a house.

Sunday night we made it out for dinner with our church supper club at a new Japanese Hibachi grill. It was a wonderful evening and as usual Stephen and I left wanting more fellowship with the other couples. There's never enough time to talk to everyone.
Monday is a blur but I do remember going to baptism classes with kids in tow from 7:30 until 9 (bedtime). We were crammed into a tiny classroom and I just knew that Caleb wouldn't last long but he was amazingly quiet- it's hard to talk while eating 5 bags of fruit bites.
Tuesday we ran errands and that night Stephen had a show at a school in the neighboring town (a whole 10 minutes away). I somehow managed to make dinner and get it on the table for the kids to eat!
Wednesday morning. Oh, Wednesday morning! A day that will not be forgotten. As I was feeding Abby at 7:10, Stephen got home and told me that we had forgotten about the carpet cleaner coming at 7:50! Oh my goodness. Within 45 minutes, the entire living room was in the kitchen (see pictures), most of our bedroom items were in our bathroom and the kids were woken up so Stephen could get their floors cleared out as well. The kids had a ball eating so close to the TV and I sat on the couches in the kitchen to finish feeding Abby. After breakfast, we got dressed and ran to about 8 places like the bank, the party store, Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart, etc.. and looked for party supplies for Caleb's birthday as well as Abby's baptism. We have been trying to have the events together up in the Fort Worth area where our friends and family live. Getting ahold of the church was an ordeal and getting them to return my emails was even harder for some reason. I really don't like the feeling I got so I called my old home church and was surprised to find that a great friend is now in charge of baptisms there so I really felt like having Abby's baptism there is the right thing to do. This is the church where I received my first pennance and communion and where I was confirmed. I attended school there and was not only active as a youth, but also as an adult. The only catch is there will be no baptisms during Lent. Maybe that's a blessing. I don't have time to get invitations completed and mailed while getting the house ready to stick a sign in the yard. After we put Caleb down for a nap, Stephen painted some more and I tried to catch up on housework, is that ever possible? We worked our fingers to the bone right up to bedtime.
Bet your kitchen has never looked like this!

Wow, who knew that behind all those toys, a baby swing, a pack and play, and some furniture was a nice, big living room?

Thursday (yesterday) I had to return to work. Luckily, I had a meeting all morning and got to take Abby with me. Last night I managed to throw together some dinner and we worked on the house a little more. We want to get the for sale sign in the yard no later than next Saturday.

Last night I fed Abby for bed as I always do but this time she didn't fall asleep. I sure did! She kept losing her pacifier and fussing so for 2 hours, yes, 2 HOURS, I kept dozing off and waking to give her that darn paci. Then, she woke up at 3:45 and we played the paci game again until 4:45. I fed her until 5:45 and set my clock for 6:45. That's when I started marking things off my morning routine list like make-up. I don't care what people think if I look like....well, you know.

That didn't work, Abby wasn't happy so I thought I'd just feed her some more from 5:15 until 6:20 and I set my alarm for 7:20. Yes, I am supposed to be at work at 7:30 but I know the first teacher understands if I'm a little late picking up her kids. Love ya Erin! I did get Abby to sleep on my chest and Stephen walked in at 7:10 so I got up and started my day. I have a list of about 15 things to get done here at work and feel like they all need to be done today. Why then am I blogging? Withdrawls.....stress relief too.

Tonight I suppose we will pack up more of the house and make it more presentable to potential buyers. We are expecting threatening weather tomorrow, I've never heard the local meteorologist warn us so much, this is the same kind of system that hit Tennessee last week so please pray for us down here in Aggieland!

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday is the Daytona baby! The start of NASCAR season, the Super Bowl of NASCAR! I am pumped, can't wait- go Tony!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Aggie's price was right

Did anyone see The Price is Right Today? An Aggie won the Showcase Showdown and even whooped as she got into her new car- made me proud! Congratulations Patricia!

I'm in love with Moby

and my husband knows all about it. I wish I was introduced to Moby 4 years ago.

When I was taking Abby to the doctor last week, a girl on the elevator introduced me to Moby. What is Moby? A Moby wrap. She had her baby all wrapped up and snuggled against her chest and she was basically hands-free while I was struggling to carry little ol' Abby in her carrier. The girl told me to buy 6 yards of fabric and go to for instructions on how to use it. Last Saturday we all went to the grocery store. You can't fit 3 kids and groceries into a grocery cart so I was carrying Abby as Stephen pushed the kids in the cart and there she was again, the girl from the elevator. She must not have recognized me because she again told me to go to and I confirmed that she was the girl from the elevator. The next day we went to the website and found that the starting price to buy one is $40.00. I printed the instructions and we headed to Wal-Mart where the stretchy cotton fabric was on the remnant table for $1/yard! I finally washed it and followed the instructions and realized the width of this 6 yard fabric is WAY too wide. The dimensions are not on the website so I sent out an S.O.S. email to the moms' group at church and I could not believe the response. Apparently another blogging friend just found out about them too because all the moms in her playgroup have one. Here I am cutting down the material with my little helpers. The actual dimensions are 5 yards by 24 inches. You can get 2 Mobys out of one purchase. I think I'll give the other one as a gift.

I got lucky, this fabric just happened to have lines on it so it was so easy to cut the width that I needed.

Voila! I don't want to take it off. Abby is sleeping on my chest and I have 2 hands to type.
There is one thing I don't like about it frees up my hands for housework too!


If you could see me this morning, I was doing the happy dance because Abby slept from 11 last night until 6:45 this morning! Of course I woke up a few times to check on her but no feedings. I finally got some much needed sleep.

Also, we just got back from the doctor. There had been some concern about her weight because last week she was still a teeny tiny 5 pounds 12 ounces. I'm happy to say she is up to 6 pounds, 6 ounces.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Sweet Spicy Roasted Salmon

This recipe was moved to Aggieland Mommy Cooks

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Bacon Lovers' Menu

I always look forward to Laura's Menu Plan Mondays. To see other great menus, visit her site.

I made BLT dip, sausage in a blanket, and our spicy Chex for the Super Bowl and the BLT dip set the theme for the week.

Wouldn't Paula Deen be proud?

Dinner 1:Paula's Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf with Rachel Ray's Smashed Potatoes
Dinner 2: Paula's BLT Soup
Dinner 3: Kentucky Hot Browns (with bacon of course)
Dinner 4: Quiche...bacon, bacon, bacon
Dinner 5: Impossibly Easy Ham and Cheddar Pie (might just add bacon)

Another Recipe for fun with your kids

Goop (not edible)
1 part cornstarch
1 part water
food coloring, optional

Is it a liquid or a solid? Put this on a cookie sheet or wax paper and have fun.
Do you have a recipe to share? I'd love to add it to my collection.
For more fun recipes for kids, click on "fun stuff for kids" at the bottom of this post.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Recent Pictures

We finally made it to the photographer this week. We had the "naked" pose done with Lauren and Caleb and we wanted to have it done with Abby as well. As I was undressing her I realized what a bad idea this truly was because Abby absolutely hates being naked! That being said, I think the picture turned out fine. We couldn't get Lauren and Caleb to smile at the same time so we'll try again next month when we have Caleb's 2 year pictures made.

We've picked Abby's Godparents: my cousins Megan and Ryan!

Ice Cream in a Ziplock

Ice Cream in a Ziplock

1/2 c mik
1 T sugar
1/4 t vanilla

Put ingredients in a pint size ziplock. Place this in a quart size ziplock. Fill half full with ice & 3 T salt. Zip and shake 5 minutes.

Open carefully so none of the salt water gets into ice cream.

Cracked and bleeding

If you are a man (like one of my uncles or cousins), this won't interest you, believe me! Just scroll down until you see pictures and no one will get embarrased.

Abby got thrush and I didn't notice it in time. In case you don't know, thrush is when babies get the white bumps on their tongue. It has affected my nipples. I left a message on the pediatrician's nurse's voice mail. His male nurse returned the call and told me to put Lamisil on my nipples and areola, that was a fun conversation. Caleb had thrush too but I caught it earlier and it didn't affect me like it has this time. My nipples are cracked and bleeding. Ohhhhh they hurt and where one crack is healing, it is oozing with puss. I don't think my DH gets a kick out of me telling him to look at the cracks, blood, and puss if ya know what I mean. It's not too romantic. Maybe that will work in my favor since I am too tired for romance anyway..... he he.

So you experienced Moms out there, do you know of anything that would make me heal faster?