Archive for November, 2011

  • A quick ruffle scarf

    Date: 2011.11.28 | Category: crafts | Response: 1

    Need a cute handmade (and cheap) gift for someone this year?  How about a scarf?

    My brother recently lost more than 100 pounds (ya, he’s totally awesome).  This meant he needed a new wardrobe.  Well guess who raided his donation pile before it was picked up?  That’s right… me!  I grabbed all of his tee shirts that were in good shape and I have several ideas percolating for them.  Thanks to Pinterest I have some cool projects that I can make for free with his old shirts.

    First up- a ruffled scarf for me!  Using this tutorial I cut as many  10 inch circles out of the tee shirt as I could.  I got 9 circles from a 2XL shirt.  Then I cut each circle into a spiral shape and lightly tugged on the ends to stretch it out.  I sewed the lengths end to end (I have 4 on one side and 5 on the other, but it doesn’t matter) and covered the stitching with a little tube of leftover tee shirt.

    And that’s it!  1 ruffle scarf in less than half an hour.

    I like that it’s extra long for lots of options when wearing it.  I played with tying it several ways throughout the day-

    And it’s nice and cool to wear, perfect for days that aren’t too cold!

    The only thing I can think to add is that this scarf would turn out even better if you started with a tee shirt with lots of stretch.  This shirt doesn’t have a lot of spandex or lycra or whatever it is that gives girl’s tees a lot of spring and stretch.  It still ruffles nicely, but doesn’t have a lot of bounce.  I also think this would be great using two different colored tees- I think I’m going to try one of those next!

    So that’s it!  Start cutting up those old shirts!

  • Menu Plan

    Date: 2011.11.26 | Category: meal plan | Response: 0

    What are we having for dinner this week?

    Sunday- (leftover) stuffing and chicken bake

    Monday- shepherd’s pie (leftover potatoes)

    Tuesday- Mexican (leftover turkey) soup

    Wednesday- fried rice

    Thursday- leftovers

    Friday- easy chicken parm

    Saturday- lasagna soup

    Did you all have a great Thanksgiving?  We had such a great day with friends here at our house.  As you can see we have lots of leftovers that I’m trying to use creatively this week.  Plus I made a ton of turkey stock yesterday from the turkey remnants.  I won’t need to buy chicken broth for ages!

  • Three quick tree decorating tips!

    Date: 2011.11.25 | Category: Christmas, homemaking | Response: 0

    We’re a two tree house.  We buy a 6-7 foot real tree for the front room and decorate it with colored lights and all of our handmade ornaments.  Then we put up the 13 foot fake tree in the family room for the store bought ornaments and that one is pre-lit with white lights.  Call me crazy- I know it’s true.  I love Christmas!

    Last year we bought a fake tree from Target  for the front room during the after Christmas sales.  (I think it was 90% off, but I can’t remember how much we paid for it.)  We hated to do it, but our tree last year looked dead and dropped half of it’s needles well before Christmas.  It was pathetic.  And we’ve had years where our tree fell over.  And years where we had bug infestations.  And it’s a hassle.  And it was just time.  This new tree is really nice, it’s one of those ones with a lot of details that help it look more real.  But it has white lights.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love white lights, but we already have the big tree with white lights and I like the tree in the front room to have colored lights.  So guess what we did.  Oh yes, that’s right.  We added colored lights right on top of the white lights!  And it looks great!  Both the white and colored lights are LED so they blend in nicely together.

    So tip number one is don’t feel tied to white lights if you want colored- there is no reason you can’t add some.  And really, it’s not like you can have too many lights on the tree!

    My second tip is even easier.  Fluffing fake trees and garland is a pain.  Literally.  My hands always end up scratched and cut and dried out after primping the tree.  So I throw on my gardening gloves.  It makes the job so much more pleasant!

    My third tip is going to be hard to believe, but don’t be afraid to enlist the help of your kids!  We were totally surprised, but JT LOVED decorating the tree this year and stuck with it through to the end.  He did a great job too!  If only he were a little taller…

    There will be more and more Christmas coming in the next few days and weeks, so stay tuned!

  • Happy Thanksgiving!

    Date: 2011.11.24 | Category: just blabbing | Response: 0

    Just a quick hello to tell you that I am thankful for you and for the opportunity I have to share a little piece of my life with you through this blog.  I’m in the lull before the storm right now- the turkey is in the oven, the bathroom is sparkling clean, the kids are napping, and our guests don’t arrive for a few more hours.  It’s the perfect chance to thank you for reading my blog!  I wish you and your family a day full of giving thanks, for no matter what, we are all truly blessed.

    Here are a few quotes to remind you of what Thanksgiving is really about-

    “The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.
    No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.” -H. U. Westermayer

    ‎”Praise God even when you don’t understand what He is doing.” -Henry Jacobsen

    Humility precedes gratitude. You can’t properly be thankful until you realize you deserve nothing.

    Psalm 136:1-3
    Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
    His love endures forever.
    Give thanks to the God of gods.
    His love endures forever.
    Give thanks to the Lord of lords.
    His love endures forever.

    “We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.”  -Harry A. Ironside

    We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.  -Thornton Wilder

    “If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to happiness and all perfection,
    he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you.
    For it is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it,
    you turn it into a blessing.”  -William Law

    I Thessalonians 5:16
    Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  -John Fitzgerald Kennedy

    Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal.  It’s a way to live.  Attributed to Jacqueline Winspear

    Enjoy your holiday and don’t forget to give thanks!

  • Menu Plan 11-20-26

    Date: 2011.11.19 | Category: meal plan | Response: 0

    What are we having for dinner this week?

    Sunday- cheesy chicken ranch lasagna

    Monday- leftovers and date night- we got free tickets to see Third Day!

    Tuesday- burritos

    Wednesday- easy chicken parm

    Thursday- Thanksgiving!  I’m cooking turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and green beans!

    Friday- turkey popovers

    Saturday- shepherd’s pie

  • Chicken Corn Chowder

    Date: 2011.11.17 | Category: recipes | Response: 1

    I consider myself a lucky woman that my husband likes soups and stews and chowders.  I know a lot of men don’t consider a soup hearty enough for dinner. This chicken corn chowder is one of Chris’ favorites, especially when the weather starts to get chilly!

    1 pound chicken breasts (I throw mine in still frozen!)
    1 can creamed corn
    1 cup frozen corn
    1 can cream of potato soup
    2 cans chicken broth
    1/2 cup bacon pieces (I use the ones from Costco)
    2 cups diced potato (I sometimes skip these if I don’t have any on hand)

    1 jar queso cheese (we use the store brand sold near their salsa)
    8 oz sour cream (we use light)

    Add first 7 ingredients to the crock pot and cook on low 10 hours or so (I’m sure the recipe says something reasonable like 6-7 hours, but I’m always at work!).  Shred chicken and stir in queso and sour cream 15 minutes before serving.  If soup is too thin, thicken with instant mashed potatoes.  Serve in large bowls and top with shredded cheddar and bacon bits.


  • My little graduate!

    Date: 2011.11.13 | Category: parenting | Response: 2

    When Katie was 11 months old we took her in to the doctor for the croup.  While at the office she was weighed and we discovered that since her 6 month exam she had completely fallen off the growth charts.  The urgent care doctor was actually far more concerned about her weight than about her croup and started throwing around terms like “failure to thrive”; she urged us to see our pediatrician ASAP.  Our pediatrician was much more reassuring, and with her advice (and that of the dietician she referred us to) we started a regimen designed to put some weight on our girl.  And we did have some success.  Kate put on enough weight that she crept onto the growth charts and has stayed there (even if just barely!).  Unfortunately, Kate spent so much of her awake time in the high chair that we started to see her lag behind in some of her developmental milestones.  One of the key things that I noticed was that Kate wouldn’t usually respond to her own name.  She also was not pointing to familiar objects in books, following even the simplest of commands, making any animal sounds, etc.  She was still very babyish in her behavior.  At 16 months we were referred to our local Child Find / Developmental Pathways for a comprehensive evaluation of Kate.  They determined that she did not have global delays (delays across every area of development) as I feared, but she did have significant delays in receptive language (she tested at 9-12 months in this area) and slight delays in gross motor skills (she was only a few months behind, but should have been walking on her own).

    Fortunately we live in an area where were are eligible for services through the county at no cost to us.  They offered us 3 sessions of speech therapy a month and we decided to give Kate another month or so to see if she would catch up on her gross motor skills and then re-evaluate her need for services with a physical therapist.  When it came to her gross motor skills, Kate took care of that problem on her own.  At 17 months Katie decided that she was ready to walk and she just took off.  When that girl finally took her first steps she literally walked from one end of the house to the other!  By the time we saw the physical therapist for her re-evaluation she had caught up to her peers and showed no sign of slowing down.

    Her speech problems were not solved quite as easily, and thus started a new Tuesday morning routine.  Each week we met with a therapist who taught us tricks to engage Kate’s attention and teach her joint attention.  Things like clapping while calling her name and then tapping her near the eye to get her to look at us, physically helping her point to the objects in the books we were reading, playing lots of games like Patty Cake and Ring Around the Rosie.  We worked to make sure that we would stop and catch her attention while giving a command and then give her a chance to respond appropriately or physically help her to complete the task.  We started forcing Kate to use her words or sign language to request what she wanted rather than responding to her cues.  We started narrating her every move to increase her familiarity with the words that go with her actions.

    Right around 20 months I felt like Katie’s “lightbulb” went on.  All of a sudden she doubled and then tripled her vocabulary.  She started responding to commands and to the events going on around her appropriately.  She started requesting books by name and pointing to the pictures in them.  I would hear her singing the alphabet tune or Jesus Loves Me.  She started identifying people by name and interacting with us conversationally.  I mentioned the changes I was noticing to our therapist and she agreed that Kate had all of a sudden jumped into the land of “age appropriate behavior”.  I asked for her opinion regarding continuing therapy and we decided to run Kate through the battery of tests to evaluate her again.  (I say this jokingly- most of the questions were directed at me or were answered by the therapist herself through observation.)  We decided that it seemed Kate’s language skills had reached or surpassed expected levels.  Our therapist then brought in a specialist who interacted with Kate and did a formal re-evaluation and she discovered that Kate was testing at 24 months for her expressive and receptive language skills-an increase of more than 12 months in her development in only 5 months!  Way to go Katie Mae!

    This prompted a meeting with our regular therapist and our service coordinator to officially “graduate” Kate from her services.  And here is where I realized just how blessed (fortunate, favored, etc) we really are.  Both ladies told me that in all of their combined years of experience this was the first time that either of them had graduated a child from speech therapy after only five months.  Ever.  They both said that most children end up in therapy for several years at least, requiring intervention from multiple specialists and often continuing to receive help well into their school years.  Both women were amazed at Kate’s rapid progress and delightful response to early intervention.

    So here is where I thank God for our sweet Kate.  I praise Him for our little girl and for getting us just the right help at just the right time to give Kate the kick start she needed.  I consider it nothing short of a miracle.

    Kate Talking 11-12-11

    (click on the link for a video of Kate showing off her stuff)

    Thanks for walking through this short, but challenging journey with us.  I am so thankful to have you with me along the way!

  • Menu Plan Nov 13-19

    Date: 2011.11.13 | Category: meal plan | Response: 2

    Um, am I the only one who hasn’t noticed until just now that Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK!  Holy cow, that snuck up on me quickly!  I guess it’s time to menu plan and get a shopping list started.  Yikes!

    Yesterday Chris’ roommate from way back before we got married was in town and came to dinner, so I ended up making pulled pork and roasted potatoes with roasted asparagus for dinner.  Have I mentioned before how simple and YUMMY this potato recipe is?  Well, it’s simple AND yummy.  So good that we ended up making it twice in two weeks!  It’s a keeper!  In fact the whole dinner was easy to prep before our guest arrived and quick to get on the table.  That makes it a winner in my book!

    What are we having for dinner this week?

    Sunday- Heavenly chicken

    Monday- parmesan crusted tilapia

    Tuesday- crescent roll quiche

    Wednesday- chicken corn chowder

    Thursday- leftovers

    Friday- Shepherd’s pie

    Saturday- cheesy ranch lasagna

  • Blooming Artichoke Bread

    Date: 2011.11.07 | Category: recipes | Response: 0

    Last weekend I was in charge of an appetizer for dinner with friends.  I planned on making this awesome looking blooming pepperoni pizza bread


    Then I found out that we were having pizza for dinner.  Well, I thought, it would be silly to make a pizza appetizer before we ate pizza, but I had already purchased the ingredients for it.  Then I remembered this yummy looking recipe for artichoke bread


    and thought that perhaps I could combine the two recipes into one new creation with ingredients I had on hand.

    I’m pleased to report that it was a hit- and super easy to do!

    Melody’s Blooming Artichoke Bread

    1 sourdough round loaf
    1/3 cup olive oil
    3 TBS diced garlic
    2 tsp Italian seasonings
    2 tsp cheesy garlic seasoning
    1 can (14 oz) artichoke heart quarters, diced
    1 1/2 cups shredded Italian blend cheese
    Pizza sauce for dipping

    Preheat the oven to 350°.  Make lengthwise and crosswise cuts through most of the thickness of the bread.  Mix the olive oil and seasonings before drizzling the bread liberally.  Stuff the entire can of diced artichoke hearts between the cuts and then do the same with the cheese.  Cover the loaf with foil and bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.  Serve with warmed pizza sauce for dipping.

    I’m a terrible blogger and didn’t take a single picture of my own creation.  Sorry!  Just trust me, it blooms just like it should, so it’s pretty and yummy!

  • Menu Plan Oct 6-12

    Date: 2011.11.05 | Category: meal plan | Response: 0

    What are we having for dinner this week?

    Sunday- orange beef

    Monday- Italian wedding soup

    Tuesday- honey lime chicken enchiladas

    Wednesday- French dip

    Thursday- leftover night

    Friday- easy beef stroganoff

    Saturday- mushroom garlic chicken with artichokes

    Wow- I actually made the creamy chicken piccata which turned out yummy last week.  I thought the homemade bean and bacon soup was ok, but nothing special.  I didn’t make the orange beef or the heavenly chicken.  Sheesh.  Life sure is busy!

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