Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sesame Street confusion

So we started a "no television" rule for the children almost a year ago that, for our family, has worked out really well. We have relaxed a little bit over time---they are allowed to watch movies occasionally, and we allow a little bit of television when they are sick, but for the most part Grayson and EC don't watch tv, and Whitt has never watched it.

When they did watch tv, they really only watched Disney Channel, so Sesame Street isn't a show they have ever seen. Today, they received Valentine's Day cards in the mail from their Gee Gee, which included stickers for each of them. Grayson's card had Batman stickers, EC's had Dora stickers, and Whitt's had Sesame Street stickers. I passed out the stickers and they went to work decorating their cards with the stickers, happily chatting about the stickers, the cards, and life in general. I was cleaning up the kitchen and half-listening to their chatter when I suddenly realized what Grayson and Emma Claire were saying....they had no clue who the Sesame Street characters were, so they had named them themselves.


Stinky Garbage Can Guy:

Cookie Man:

and, The Duck:

Ha ha ha!!!! What sheltered lives they lead!!! :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Menu Monday (on Tuesday)

As I said in the last post, I fell asleep at 8:30 last night, so even though I had every intention of doing menu Monday on an actual Monday, that didn't happen. Sorry! :)

I spent more time on the couch cuddling sick little ones last week instead of in the kitchen cooking, so not as much on the menu as usual. Here you go!

Monday: Pioneer Woman's Chicken Pot Pie. It's in her Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook, and like I said last week, it's the BEST BEST BEST chicken pot pie recipe I have ever had. I promise. The recipe I found online is from a blog that copied it from the cookbook (I'm not sure that's legal so I'm not going to do it), but you really need to buy the cookbook because she has pictures of every step and shows exactly what to do. It's not the easiest recipe, especially making the crust, but the effort is so worth it.

Tuesday: chicken pot pie leftovers

Wednesday: Chicken Thighs with Artichoke Hearts and Feta Cheese. I don't know why I've never made this before! Christie has told me about it enough times that I should have, and after the reaction my family had, I certainly will make it again. This was so incredibly easy to make, plus chicken thighs are always a favorite of mine anyway. I was planning on having some left over for the next night but there wasn't a single bit left after we finished.

Thursday: I can't remember!! Couldn't have been anything exciting if I can't remember!

Friday: we went out for sushi with friends and kiddos had macaroni with a babysitter

Saturday: we went out for dinner again with some more friends and kiddos had macaroni (again! their choice!) with a sitter

Sunday: Avocado Pasta with Tomato and Bacon. WOW. That pretty much sums it up. Beth is a friend from college and has this awesome cooking blog, which is where I found the recipe. It takes almost no time at all---I started boiling the water for the noodles, and by the time the noodles were ready, I was finished with everything else. How easy is that? It was so good that I intended to make it for the entire family, and when I tasted it, I ended up making peanut butter and jelly for the kids and saving the the real dinner for just us adults. Selfish, yeah, but can you blame me? :) I did double the bacon, and next time I might even triple it---we love bacon around here! This will most definitely join the regular rotation of dinners in our household. Thanks, Beth!!

Wood you be mine?

I meant to post this before Valentine's Day, but I'm reading the best book and every bit of free time I have, I spend with this book. I'm seriously obsessed, and I'm losing sleep because I can't put it down. Last night I fell asleep on the couch at 8:30 because I'd stayed up so late the night before reading it. I love Francine Rivers, and if y'all haven't read any of her books, I highly recommend reading them---any of them---but if you don't know where to start since there are so many, begin with Redeeming Love. It was the first one of her books that I read, and I have been hooked ever since. The one I'm reading now (A Voice in the Wind) is the first in a trilogy, and it has strengthened my walk with the Lord---all of Francine Rivers' books do that....I could go on, and I will in future post, but now I will continue with the post I started out writing! :)

Okay, onto what we did for Valentine's Day this year. Last year, we did one a little bit simpler, but they are older and have longer attention spans now (love it!!) so this totally worked well for us. Disclaimer: this was not my idea---I found it on this adorable blog!

We started out with circles of wood, cut from a branch at my inlaws' house. My father-in-law cut these for us, and because he had the right equipment, it took him all of ten minutes to cut forty four (twenty two each for Grayson and Emma Claire). Ben drilled a hole in each piece.

Next, I used a red colored pencil to draw hearts on each piece of wood.

Then, the easy part began. I handed each child a paintbrush, put some pink paint on a paper plate for EC, some red paint on a plate for Grayson, and they got to work.

They had a really good time and it was actually pretty mess-free. The paint dried overnight and the following day we repeated this step on the other side.

Next, we made the tags.

And ended up with an original product for the kiddos to put in their friends' Valentine boxes at school yesterday!

This messy little dude ate crackers while he watched his siblings hard at work. Next year, we might let him participate in the fun. :)

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Menu Monday

Last week was a week of hits---everything was really good!!! Here you go....

Monday: Roasted Portobello Mushroom Sandwiches with Parmesan Mayonnaise (from Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast). These were super-easy to make, delicious, and will join our permanent rotation. I think next time I'll try grilling them because the mushrooms weren't cooked all the way and made the bread pretty soggy, but they were still awesome. They parmesan mayo was awesome and would be great on a hamburger as well!

Tuesday: Turkey Sausage-Gnocchi Soup (from Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast). I couldn't find any hot turkey Italian sausage like the recipe called for, so I used Aidells Italian Style with Mozzarella cheese smoked chicken and turkey sausage (found at Publix) and it worked perfectly in this recipe. So perfectly, in fact, that Ben declared it "the best meal you've ever fixed." I laughed when he said that, because it was so incredibly easy and I didn't agree with him (it was too spicy for me, but it made him happy so I'll make it again). Seriously, y'all, this is really easy, and if you like gnocchi (who doesn't???) and spicy sausage, then you'll LOVE this. And it's healthy! How can you beat that???

Wednesday: We had a busy day and I didn't feel like cooking, so Ben picked up sushi on his way home from work.

Thursday: Melt in Your Mouth Chicken Pie---this is a recipe that I combined from two different recipes several years ago from a church cookbook and is a go-to comfort food on a cold, rainy day. It's not very healthy but we almost always have all the ingredients in the house besides buttermilk, so it's an easy last-minute meal to make. Here you go....

whole chicken
4 eggs
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup self-rising flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 c reserved chicken broth
1/2 tsp pepper
1 stick butter, melted

Cook chicken until tender, save broth. Cut or shred chicken into small pieces and place in 9x13 pan. Boil eggs, dice, and place over chicken in pan. In saucepan, bring to boil the broth and soup. In another bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper, buttermilk, and butter. Mix batter. Pour broth mixture over chicken. Spoon batter mix over top. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 to 30 min. (Until breaded topping is light brown). YUM!!!!!

Friday: Oven Chicken Risotto. My friend, Sarah, told me about this recipe when Whitt and I were at her house for a play date Friday morning and it sounded so good that I had to make it that night for my in-laws while we were at their house. Y'all, I can't tell you how EASY of a risotto recipe this is!!! If you like risotto, mozzarella, and basil, then you must make this today! I'm not a huge fan of the pre-roasted chickens from the grocery store, so next time I'll boil my own, but besides that, I won't make any changes. This was deeeeeeeelicious!!!!

Saturday: My MIL made hamburgers. Night off from cooking for me! :)

Sunday: Panko Crusted Salmon (from Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? cookbook). The only copy of this recipe I could find online is an adaptation of the real recipe (in the cookbook--get the cookbook if you can, it's full of great recipes that aren't available online), and it's actually pretty close to what I did. I also used the zest of the entire lemon instead of just a tsp, and I used olive oil instead of vegetable oil. However, I didn't use canola oil, and I used dried parsley instead of fresh. This is one of our favorite recipes and has become a Sunday night staple for us.

And just because I can't wait another week to tell you about it, I made the BEST BEST BEST chicken pot pie EVER today. I'm serious, y'all. It's from the Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook, and I found a blog that posted the recipe. I think I might dream about it tonight, it was that good. And worth every second it took to make. I even made the crust. I made the crust!! Now stop reading, click on the link, and make a chicken pot pie---then come back and tell me what you think!! :)

Monster trucks, makeovers, and sickness

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind! Here are a few highlights:

We took Grayson and Emma Claire to the Monster Jam in Columbia with our sweet friends Erin and Eric and their two oldest kiddos, Wyatt and Caroline. My totally awesome friend, Laura, watched Whitt and E & E's youngest, Anna Kate, while we were at the Jam so we could enjoy ourselves sans babies.

I swear, they had more fun than it looks like they did...

The Grave Digger totally stole the show

Even though we were at the very top of the stadium (I'm talking the very last row there was), it was LOUD. We brought ear plugs but they didn't do much good. Grayson has a sensory disorder and is very sensitive to loud noises---we anticipated this, which is why we were seated at the top and brought ear plugs (I promise, I didn't plan to torture him--he loves monster trucks and I thought he would love it), but he was terrified for the first fifteen minutes or so until Ben went and purchased a $20 pair of headphones that they were selling. They were worth every bit of the $20 he paid---we will be taking them to every parade and loud event Grayson attends in the future! :)

Moving on to the makeover portion of this of the kitchen floor! Pictures don't really do it justice, but you can kind of see in this one how ugly and old the previous tile floor was. The tiles in the middle of the floor hadn't been glued down very well and several were cracked and the grout was coming out every time I vacuumed or when Whitt picked at lovely....

Now....much better!!! I love it! We are also in the process of painting the walls so I'll post pictures of that once it's complete.

Another little makeover was our shelves in the den. I should have taken the "before" picture with everything on the shelves, but I took this one after I had taken most of the things off and started to tape so I could paint. Anyway, you can see how boring and white it was...

Now, after!! I can't believe what a difference a little can of paint can do! I love the contrast of the dark behind the books---it totally warms up the room. I have a decorator helping me with some things around the house right now, so she put everything back on the shelves the "right" way, and I love, love, love how it turned out.

Lastly, and sadly, we've had some sickies in our house lately. Last week it was Grayson, yesterday it was Whitt, and today it's Emma Claire. Grayson and Whitt thankfully recovered quickly, but Emma Claire has strep throat (and no tonsils--they were removed last May) so she may have a little longer of a recovery, poor baby. I'm not feeling so hot myself, either. We are ready for this cold, rainy weather to go away and for Spring to hurry up and get here!