Monday, August 29, 2011

Crock Pot Roast With A Twist...and A "Side"

Ok, so I would not normally do something like this but I think this is going to be best for searching the recipes down the road.  Here is what I have done; please forgive me if you are a creature of me.  I feel your pain.  I am going to insert the recipes into the main blog page.  Then I will create a hyperlink for each recipe on the Home Cookin' Page, or you will be able to use the search function on the main page from here forward.  This will be better in the long run, I promise.  :) 

Crock Pot Roast With A Twist...and A "Side"

Recipe from Southern Living
...but slightly altered so it can cook all day in my house

Ingredients for the Roast:
1 (4 lb.) boneless top chuck roast 
(Make sure to buy chuck roast if you want it to pull apart easy.)
2 tsp. fajita seasoning
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 (14.5 oz) cans Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
2 cups water
 Directions for the Roast:
1. Rub both sides of the roast evenly with fajita seasoning.
2. Cook roast in hot oil in a large dutch oven (or skillet) over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until brown on all sides.
     Here is where I veer off course...a little.  I throw mine in the crock pot.  I want it to cook for 8 hours.  Perfect so that I am not trying to do this halfway through a day and all you "outside of the home" working ladies can do it in the a.m. and dinner is done when you get home.  Or you could do the frying part at night, throw it in the crock pot, stick it in the fridge, add the tomato mixture in the morning and be done with 7 a.m....woohoo!  
3. Combine stewed tomatoes and 2 cups of water.  Pour over the roast.
4. Cover and set your crock pot on low for 8 hours.  If your crock pot doesn't have an automatic off, go buy one that does.  Best.Thing.Ever.
5. Pull your roast out and place it in a large dish.  Shred the roast using two forks.  Now, you can smother the roast with the tomatoes or put them in a side dish and let everyone get what they want.
**The secret to get my kids to eat them you wonder?  I make their plate at the stove and cut the tomatoes up in the meat.  Works every time!**

6.  I like to serve mine over rice.  If you have "kicked" the will still love it anyway...forget you saw that juice seeping out from under the rice in my picture ;)

Seasoned Green Bean "Side"

Recipe from Southern Living

Ingredients for Green Beans:
6 cups water
1 Tbsp. Greek seasoning
1.5 lbs. thin fresh green beans, trimmed
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. Greek seasoning

Directions for Green Beans:
1. Cut tips off of each end of the green beans.
2. Bring 6 cups water and 1 Tbsp. Greek seasoning to a boil in a Dutch oven (or as we simple people use...a pot) over high heat.

3.  Add the prepared green beans.  Cook 6 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender.

4.  Remove the cooked beans, draining well.  Wipe the dutch oven dry with a paper towel.

5. Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add green beans and 1/2 tsp. Greek seasoning, tossing to coat; cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until heated through.

I hope your family enjoys this dish as much as mine does...and it's ok to let them think you cooked all day!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

4 Nights, 3 a car...with 2 KIDS

So here's the thing.  I flew home with my two lovely children last Thanksgiving...ALONE.  I got off that plane and swore to my mother that I loved her but that I would not be doing that again...ever.  Honestly, I have to say it really had more to do with everyone else, not my children, but I am not going to even get worked up about that now.  So, when it was time to go for our summer visit Mom offered to help drive us on one leg of the trip.  So I enlisted her on the first leg to get us to NC.  I told you all about that adventure here.

Well, 6 weeks flew by and it was Man's turn to ride with the three girls back to Texas.  I have to tell you that I was worried about this...a little.  You see, Man, he loves us, but we are girls.  We have to stop and potty, we need snacks, entertainment, you get the point.  He is generally calm and laid back but he works with men.  They don't potty much, they don't get snack breaks, they listen the first time he tells them, and let's just say their idea of entertainment is not the same as ours.  So, I put Man behind the wheel.  He drove, and drove, and drove....four hours the first day.  Oh yes, I planned some stops.  And oh yes, he was calculating that we could be home by "X" if we just traveled so much further each day.  But, as I explained to him, we would have missed the greatest adventures.

Our first stop, just four hours from my mom's, was Pigeon Forge, TN.  We arrived right after lunch and got straight to the fun...DOLLYWOOD!
Oh they were so excited!  We were so excited to surprise them!  We got right to business...having FUN of course!

Here is my youngest...not a care in the world.  Yes, that is Addison.
And here is studious Olivia...she doesn't hear me calling her AT.ALL. from twenty feet away.
Oh yes...she was finally able to ride the BIG KID rides.
While Addison rode her rides...
And then there were the rides they could ride together...Now that was a hoot!

After closing down the park we got a good night of rest and headed out early the next morning.  We drove to Memphis...a familiar stopping point for us.  How could we stop here and not see our favorite ducks?  Oh we couldn' here we are at the Peabody Hotel...YOU MUST GO THERE IF YOU HAVE THE CHANCE!
This is where the ducks that magnificent fountain.  And when they are told they march down a set of steps, a red carpet, and onto the elevator.  They have an apartment on the top of the hotel.  The kids get front row seats for this and they all love it!

The man of the hour rolling out the red carpet!
 Here they come!
There they go...onto the elevator!
It's over in a flash but you have to get there early to get a good seat!

The next morning we headed to our final stop on the way to Texas...after Nate reminded me that we could be home that night by 6pm (we had two days left on my itinerary).  I gave him the sweetest smile and told him what a great time we were going to have in the Ozarks!

We landed in Eureka Springs, Arkansas...after the tire pressure light wouldn't go off and the gas gauge stopped working.  That is why we have Man.  He has no fear.  This Mama would not have continued into nowhere with those problems.  But, we forged ahead and I am so glad we did...after I made him call Nissan and verify I wouldn't be walking this pregnant body up any hills.   We got into town and had some dinner.  Then we stopped off at the location for the Passion Play that we would go to the next night.   We got to see this...Christ of the Ozarks...This picture captures their amazement when they "topped" the hill.
The next morning we planned an adventure to some caverns.  This was a hit!  First we had to Olivia took our picture.  Only a Big Sister could get that great laugh!
Then we toured the caverns.  I highly suggest this experience!  My kids loved it and praise the Lord that my belly was no bigger at that time.  I might not have fit through some of the tight spots.

Then we went back to town and walked around.  It is truly a quaint and very welcoming place with cute shops and winding roads.  We bought the inspiration for Baby Girl's room there.  Our first purchase for her room.

Here we let the girls eat fudge ice cream cones.  Not sure what I was thinking.  Nate thought I lost my mind.
Oh yeah, that was solid fudge and it filled the cone!  Maybe I was just planning ahead for the long night we had ahead of us.  Nate was worried about wearing off that sugar induced energy.  So, he had us climb this...
There were more steps, I promise.  I should have counted.  Then you could feel sorry for me.  After we I took a rest we went to the main reason we took this detour....The Christ Passion Play.  What a magnificent location settled down in the mountains and a wonderful performance.

The set...
And our final view of daylight...
All-in-all I would say we had an awesome adventure with lots of great memories for our family.  

And that is what it is all about.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


What a major milestone we have experienced this week!  Our sweet Olivia has anxiously anticipated this new chapter in her life for years now.  We had a very special visitor, Meme, come to town for this big occasion.  I think she has been just as, or more, excited then Olivia about this special event in her life.  She told me at least 9 months ago she planned to make this trip and be there on this momentous day with her.  I was a little surprised, but not really.  I remembered that this was the same woman who threatened to quit her job and go with me to class...when I was in college.  So, she arrived very late Thursday night and the festivities began bright and early Friday morning.

After a lot of playing...for three solid days, Sunday night was upon us.  I planned a special "do it yourself" dinner, that is sure to be a tradition!  It started with everyone making their own pizzas.  First, we decorated them with whatever we wanted!
 They were...
 a HIT!!!
 Then we followed up with decorate your own brownie bites.  They were definitely excited about getting 2 bites each!

I can't say there were too many nerves, mostly excitement...or maybe it was the brownies?  Olivia was still awake doing somersaults at 10:00 that night...two hours after we put her in the bed.  She likes to learn the hard way.... 
We started off to school....after a few pictures...of course!  The best part was that there was FULL cooperation on this particular morning.  I will not hold my breath for any future photo ops...

And then we arrived!
 That smile says everything about how she was feeling!
We had to take a few more pictures...there was a little less cooperation...

until it was Meme's turn...please note the difference in the smiles before and then with Meme...
I took as many as she would let me because I was not ready for this.  I thought I was, but the closer we got to the front door the more my mind started playing back on me.  It.was.awful.  We entered the school and I was there, but this is the image that came to my mind.
Yes, this exact image. 
I had to dig deep but I wanted you to see it how I did.  

And then all I could think was "Where has the time gone?"
   What happened?  There is no turning back.  I couldn't open my mouth because I knew I would have that awful voice that tells the world I was about to lose it.  We arrived to her room and she bound in there like it was day 100 not day 1.  I held back for a minute, what was I supposed to do?  After a minute, and realizing she might need my help, I went in the room.  She was getting her backpack ready for her cubbie.  When I realized that she had one of the taller cubbies, I reached down for her lunchbox to help her and she very sweetly looked up at me and said, "It's ok Mom, I can do it."  Well, that was it...the tears started flowing, I looked up, there stood Man holding Addison, and watching us.  As soon as he saw my face, he walked back into the hallway.  I hugged her and told her I loved her, in that awful voice, and walked out of her room.  Meme was trying not to cry, but it didn't work great for her either.  So, we all just stood there and watched from the door.  And this is what we saw...
Pure joy!

And then Meme says. "Where has the time gone?"  And.I.just.cried.  And Man couldn't stand to look either one of us in the face.  We turned, walked out, and it was

Next we were off to take Addison to her first day.  Not nearly as traumatic...a lot more fun for both of us.  Addison was excited too! 

No crying...just happy!
Then of course, the moment that we waited for all day.  Pick-up time for Olivia.  We rolled through the pick-up line and she came running when they called her name.  What was the verdict?  She had a blast!  The highlights were the fun stuff so Meme asked her, "What did you learn today?"  Her reply, "Nothing."  Then she explains that they showed them around their pod and the school.  We had to drop Meme at the airport and get back home so I could fill out the mounds of paperwork they had promised would arrive on the first day.


I pick Olivia up.  Taking a cue from my mom, after hearing about the "fun" stuff, I ask her, "Well, what did you learn today?"  After a very short pause..."That they don't teach me anything about Jesus and God, and I want to know why?"  I promise I tried to suppress the giggles, but the tone of her voice was so matter-of-fact and well, I can't do it justice.  So, I think.  How do I explain this?  Then I say, "Well honey, some kids and their families don't believe in Jesus...."  she interrupts, "WHAT??!!!!!!"  Yes, a somewhat sheltered life...but I couldn't think of a better shelter for her first 5 years.  

Then, she remembers that the teacher read about Jack and Annie.  If you don't know them and you have a 5 year old, you should.  The books are about a Magic Treehouse and she loves them.  She tells me that the teacher was reading book #1, the same one she gave Bryce (her little cowboy friend) when he was sick in the hospital.  I replied with understanding.  Then I said, "Well, aren't you glad it wasn't one we have read yet?"  She says, "Yes Mom, because you know I would have been BORED if we had already read that one."  I just chuckled...and drove...because that is soooo Olivia.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Crafty Idea

Ok, so I have been so excited about getting Olivia ready for Kindergarten.  A little more then a week ago I planned to take her on a school supply shopping trip, just the two of us.  As much as she enjoyed picking out her backpack and lunchbox, I thought this would be a hit.  The one thing I forgot, I was dealing with Olivia.  When she realized that I set up Man and Addison to make cake for our cake bites, she did not want to go.  What?  Just when I thought I had this motherhood thing figured out...  So, off I went to Target alone.  But I must say, it was fun and my wallet I was actually glad she didn't go.  Once I saw all of the things that she would have picked out that were at least two and three times what I wanted to spend, I knew there was a God.  He was watching over me.  But...then I realized I really wanted her to have "cute" stuff and that is when I formulated my plan.

An art project is something Miss Priss just can't resist, so (after not letting her see any of her school items) I decided today to let her decorate her notebooks.  This was quick, fun and FREE!  Don't we love FREE?  Here is how we did it.

1.) Start with some extra scrap paper you have on hand.  Let the 5 year old decide...try to keep your opinion to yourself...This might just be the hardest part of the project.  :)

2.) Lay your scrap paper over the notebook and mark the spots for three holes that already exist with the notebook.  Then, punch the three holes with a hole puncher.

3.) Next, spray the back of the paper with spray adhesive glue.  This comes in an aerosol can.  Pick it up at any craft store.  **It is messy and sticks to everything.  I hold mine outside when I spray.**

Line the holes up and press from left to right.  You will now have "extra" paper over the edges.  We need to trim this off.

4.) This part is best with a good straight edge and an exacto knife like we show you here.

5.) Taadaa!  

6.)  And just when you think you are done, you are reminded that you are working with a 5 year old when she wants to "decorate" the decoration.  So, a few steps later....we had REALLY decorated notebooks.

We grabbed some sticker letters and some of her favorite things right now. 

And this is what we got...for FREE!

Most importantly, we had fun together and Miss Priss is back to being excited!
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