Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wonderful Wednesday

I was reading The Nester earlier. She's doing a linky party about favorite things - kind of how Oprah did her show on favorite things, but no giveaways here. The limit given is $30. I can sooo do that! I mean, I am a coupon shopper and pretty thrifty. So, I decided to join in the fun. It's my first linky party! Yippee!!!

 Here are a few of my favorite and most wonderful things I've encountered:

LOVE hot chocolate every morning while preparing for students to arrive.

So delicious. In my classroom, I have an office. One of the walls is a window. It's great and wonderful, aside from in the winter when it's freezing! So, one of my favorite things to do is grab a Nestle mini marshmallow hot chocolate packet and make a mug of hot cocoa. YUM!

 Next up, my favorite lip balm. I would never have tried this if it weren't for couponing and getting so many free. I love Nivea Lip Care- Milk and Honey. YUM! It's wonderful. So much better than Chapstick or Blistex and not as costly as others.

 So this isn't the exact throw I want. The one I want is at Pier 1, but definitely not in the $30 price range. This will work. It's the Better Homes and Garden Sherpa throw found at Walmart. I was in there the other day and had to stop myself from laying on the shelf wrapping myself in these curled up with my current book (Crossed- the second in the Matched trilogy by Ally Condie).

Early in the fall, I was visiting Target and found this sweater for $15. I fell in love with it. It was so super soft and cozy. I loved this sweater and feel great every time I wear it. It is the most comfortable thing I've worn and not too terribly thick. Love it!

Okay, so I don't have one of these yet. It's a lovely necklace from The Vintage Pearl. Hubby ordered mine for Christmas. I can't wait to get it! I know I shouldn't know this, but I do and I'm so thankful! At $25, it's definitely adorable and a GREAT gift idea.

This beautiful bird is from Fenton Glass. I stumbled upon it at Hartville Market and fell in love. I don't have it yet, but hope hubby brings it home for the holiday. I can't stop thinking about it. He was $20 and on sale for 30% off - grand total $14 (plus tax). I think that's reasonable. 100% solid glass, made in USA- factory in Ohio. :)

Another favorite thing.... Most definitely have to have one of these every year- Yankee Candle in Sugar Cookie. It makes it seem like I've baked even when I haven't turned the oven on a lick!

Another favorite thing- Scentsy scent- Honey Pear Cider. I LOVE IT!

 Hope you enjoyed seeing some of my favorite things!  Now that I've shared my favorite things, you should share yours!

Look for the next post about the great ornament making party tomorrow! I know I promised today, but I was excited about favorite things! So much fun! Friday's post will be dedicated to how to make the ornament we made at the party so you can try one on your own!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Grilled Chicken Parmesan

I'm a HUGE fan of Chicken Parmesan; however, I'm not a fan of all the fat and calories it has. I decided to make a light version one night for dinner. How hard could it be right???

I took boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cooked them in a pan with olive oil. I added a little garlic salt to the breasts while cooking. After they were finished, I put them to the side and added a can of diced tomatoes, italian seasoning and extra parsley to the pan and let that simmer a few minutes. I then added the chicken back to the pan and topped with some of the tomatoes. Last step was to put slices of mozzarella (or shredded mozz works too) and covered for about 2 minutes (long enough for the cheese to melt). Simply served on top of pasta. Wah La!

Review: Not as good as the original fried, but a great alternative. One problem I had was I added a little too much olive oil to the pasta. That was the one complaint was the olive oil was too strong. So, be careful with how much you use. The brand I had is very strong in flavor so I think that made a big difference too. However, I enjoyed it as a healthy alternative.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

Keeping it simple this week as I get ready to head back to teaching. I've got a lot of work on my plate over the next 3 weeks, so things will slow down. The good thing, I'll get to make new cookie and candy recipes to give as gifts to my teacher friends. I'm soooo excited for this! :) Until then, the meal plan will be simple.

Another reason for a simple meal plan this week- use up some of what we have as the grocers in this area are not having any good sales/deals. That will allow me time to clean out the freezer and cupboards, which is much needed!

Monday: Spaghetti
Tuesday: Potato soup
Wednesday: leftovers
Thursday: Calzones
Friday: tacos
Saturday: Chicken tortilla soup (or maybe chicken chili- I have to decide)
Sunday: grilled cheese and tomato soup (mmmmmm!!!! Can't wait for this! silly I know).

New recipes: if I make anything new this week, it will be homemade bread in the dutch oven on Monday night for Tuesday's soup.

Enjoy your week!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Home" sick

It's been a great yet crazy day today. I spent some time running errands prior to the craft party. Okay.... a lot of time (2 1/2 hours). Most of it was in traffic or lines- or choosing the wrong store (due to the line being wrapped forever and getting checkout line confused with fabric cutting counter line, etc).

Lots of chaos of cleaning and cooking, guests arriving, messes made and now clean up again. Isn't that the joy of hosting an event? You clean and prep only to do it again immediately after.

Now, I sit alone (aside from my 2 dogs) in my old home. Lil man went with grandma for the night. Hubby is playing poker with friends. I sit here on the couch, tired and lonely.  Usually, I LOVE being alone and beg for time to myself (to read, crochet, watch TV, whatever). Tonight, I want my family back.This house isn't feeling like home without them. I want company to come over (even though it's 10 PM). I want to be hosting more people.  Surrounded by something other than silence- complete silence, aside from my dog who is now starting to snore a little and my fingers on the keyboard).

 Why do good things come to an end? Only to make us appreciate them when they happen again.

Why is it so sad to see your little one go spend the night with grandma sometimes and other times it's welcome? For that I'm not sure. It's bittersweet, his leaving to be with grandma. Part of me is terribly sad because I don't sleep well when E's not home. Part of me is super excited for when he comes home tomorrow. He'll see me and smile this great, glorious smile with eyes beaming, arms outstretched, saying "Momma's home!".  Oh glorious day when God gave me this child to care for and protect and love.

Times like these... the lonely times make me realize a few things:
1. God is always with me and willing to talk to me.
2. Appreciate the time you have with loved ones.
3. Children are full of unconditional love for their parents (I'll believe this even when E is a teen and can't stand us).
4. It's a short lived time, so try to occupy your time in the best way possible or reflect on the fun you had and devise a way to do it again. (Did I mention I organized a drawer???)
5. Reflect on all you have for you have been blessed.
6. Think about those serving our country who have been removed from their families. Talk about sacrifice. Pray for them while you're at it.

While I wait for my family to return, I'll get caught up with organizing, praying, or reading.... or maybe sleeping.......


So, it's the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Usually by now, my tree is up but not fully decorated. The tradition is it goes up the Friday after Thanksgiving; however, this weekend, I have some family coming over for a craft party. We're going to make our own snowflake ornaments to adorn the tree or windows or whereever in the house. :) I just love these and can't wait to see my mom's sisters and cousins.

Every year, during the week of Thanksgiving, we take our little guy to the John S. Knight Center and Holiday Festival of Lights. It's free admission, but there are raffles and craft shows that benefit Akron Children's Hospital. The place is stunning to say the least. Hundreds of trees aglow, live music, Santa and Mrs. Claus, just a great time.

Here are some pics from this year's Holiday of Lights Festival. I'll post some of last year tomorrow. Hopefully, it inspires you for your own tree decorations! Enjoy this beautiful holiday season and the time you get to spend with your loved ones!
What about making one of these for the movie lover in your house? Adorn the present with this bow - or hang it on the tree!

Teddy Bear Lover tree

I always love the elf trees. Don't know why.

so pretty

easy to make lolipops- styrofoam with skewer and glitter glue.

Tropical lovers unite!

cute for train lovers

Wizard of Oz fans

cool idea for the cook in your family

It took us a few minutes to get little guy away from this tree. He wasn't the only one! Hot wheels tracks on a tree!

This looks like it would be pretty and easy to make for an ornament gift.

great ornament for a sewer- easy to make!

pretty butterflies

plain ribbon with sharpie writing- good idea for customizing your tree.

lil man loved the crayola tree.

cool for kids to make: glued crayons with pieces of candy and little trinkets on top - pipe cleaners are the steering system

Cute bird ornament made of felt- easy craft idea

cool paper ornament to make.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An addition to the list!

Oh! How could I forget this beautiful bluebird I fell in love with at Hartville Market 3 weeks ago. This is the closest picture I could find. I was only able to grab the link and not the pic. Click and see. It's soooo beautiful in person.

Wishful Wednesday: Christmas wish list for mommy!

It's that time- time to think about what you want or need to get for Christmas. Every year, I hear how hard it is to buy for me. I really don't think so. You'll find a few things I would like on this post. It's not a complete list of things that would work for me but I will post more soon!

 If there's something you like, send your hubby here to get ideas! I know one friend who is planning on doing that and really, this post is for her! :) Love you, Cara!


The Vintage Pearl


Old Navy infinity scarf

From etsy: wool handmade knit mittens :)

Also on the list, but not shown: Old Navy perfect fit crew neck and v-neck t's! :)

Happy holidays and enjoy shopping this season!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Sausage Hash recipe review

Last week I tried a recipe from the Taste of Home Five Ingredient Cookbook.  The recipe I chose was based on what I had available at the time- Sausage Hash. The ingredients were staples I usually always have:  bulk sausage, carrots, potatoes, onions, salt, and green pepper.

Overall, it was decent. I wouldn't say fantastic. However, the next morning I added it to my breakfast sandwich I eat every day (scrambled egg with cheese on wheat). That was great. I then used it again on Wednesday as a spur of the moment left over day. I simply added eggs to it and then sprinkled cheese on top. This time, it received rave reviews from hubby. E, well, he just wants hot dogs right now. I think Mickey Mouse Clubhouse might have something to do with that!

  Here's the recipe and a photo:


  • 1 pound bulk pork sausage
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 3 cups diced cooked potatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  • In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add the onion, carrots and green pepper; cook until tender. Stir in the potatoes, salt and pepper. Reduce heat; cook and stir for 20 minutes or until lightly browned and heated through. Yield: 6 servings.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

This week is a short week for me cooking. On Thanksgiving I usually go to my mom's then visit my grandma and head out and about wherever to visit all our loved ones. We're so blessed to be near so many. We will miss those farther away, but we'll be thinking of you and praying you are happy, healthy, safe and blessed this week!

Sunday: Peach Whiskey BBQ chicken from Pioneer Woman with mashed potatoes and green beans.
image via:  Does that not look SCRUMPTIOUS????

Monday: Speedy Jambalaya (bump from last week).
Tuesday: left overs or grilled cheese night which ever.
Wednesday: Spicy fish bake with quinoa, shredded carrots and peas.
Thursday: Thanksgiving. I'm making the candied yams since E can't have dairy but I have the butter substitute for the recipes.
Friday: Left overs with Mom.
Saturday: First annual family craft day: ham and potato soup AND cheesy veggie soup with salad and crusty bread (cuz that's how I roll).
Sunday: Left over soup.

Enjoy your holiday week with your family.

Meal Plan Monday

Going for an easy week this week. I want to use up a lot of what I have in the house, so I'm keeping it simple. Honestly, I'm just tooo lazy to go to the grocery store, especially since there aren't any good deals or savings at local grocery stores. :(

Monday: spaghetti
Tuesday: potato soup (I just bought a 10 pound bag last Sunday and it's already sprouting!)
Wednesday: leftovers
Thursday: Calzones
Friday: tacos
Saturday: Chicken tortilla soup.
Sunday: grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Hope you have a great week!

BTW, I'm not sure about trying a new recipe... If I do, it's to make homemade bread on Monday night for Tuesdays dinner. I'm also considering baking a new cookie, but I'm not sure what my energy level will be like as I'm swamped with stuff at school over the next 2-3 weeks.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Book Review: Room

I don't know where to start with this extremely well-written yet somewhat disturbing book. I have to tell you that I really enjoyed reading it. In my opinion, it's one of the best books I've read this year- along with "The Book Thief".

  This book is told from the perspective of 5-year old Jack. He and his mom are stuck in a room that is his whole world. Things happen and you discover the true story behind Jack, his Ma, and Room. I felt every emotion imaginable while reading this book. There were shocking parts that made you cry for the sadness of the situation. Parts filled with fear and hope. Another part gave a sense of renewal and hope. Yet another with uncertainty, anger, frustration, and ultimately, your heart is touched with the end. You get definite closure upon finishing the book. I want to share so much more, but my purpose for book reviews is not to spoil it for anyone who wants to read it!

   Room is filled with excellent quotes that will stick with you. It's as one reviewer on the cover states "darkly beautiful". I couldn't have put it better myself.

Image via
   The love found in this book is amazing. I loved how Emma Donoghue showed the truly unconditional love a child has for his/her parent. The language used is definitely that of a child. At first, it was my stumbling block. I wasn't quite comfortable with it but then started to see why she wrote it like this. If the book was written from any other viewpoint, it wouldn't be as poignant.     

     Excellent book, even though I feel like I'm a sadistic person for saying that! I recommend giving it a shot. I found it to be one I couldn't put down- hence the reason I didn't blog much this week! 

How I wish I could share more with you, but I don't want to read it. If you have read it and want to discuss, feel free to email me or leave a comment. So- to those of you who haven't, please be careful in reading any comments as they may spoil it for you!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Spur of the moment hike leads to creative fun!

    On Friday, despite the chill in the air, lil man and I went on a walk through our neighborhood. It was fun. He chased the leaves as they blew across the sidewalk and grass. He would pick some up. We gathered 4 different types of leaves. I told him to carry them home and we would color them.
   It was great in concept. He didn't really want to do crayon rubbings of the leaves, but I did! I just was having a moment where I wanted to do something creative. I actually wanted to sew, but that's hard to do when a 2 year old just wants you to hold him. Instead, I created a piece of "art"- art is anything right?
    Here it is....

You can do this and it's no cost - pending you have everything at home (crayons, leaves, and paper). Just keep placing leaves all over and rub away with different colors. I have another idea for these leaves. I'm gonna work on that tonight....
   Anyway, back to crayons:  Hubby liked it, I loved it and Everett helped pick out colors. I think I may just frame it and hang it to fill some empty space until I find things I want to put up on the walls.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Recipe Review

There is nothing better than a hearty soup on a cool fall day! I love to eat soup this time of year. You can bet you'll see it on our meal plan at least 1-2 times a week. Soups are a great way to use up what you have and to sneak in more veggies.

This past Saturday, I made one of my favorite soups that I stumbled upon a few years ago. I hadn't made it in a while and this was the best time to make it. Creamy chicken and wild rice soup. OOOOO sooooo yummy!

This soup is AMAZING to say the least. It's super simple and takes a total of 25 minutes to make. Yep, under 30 minutes to a delicious filling soup. I seem to have misplaced my camera with the picture on it.... hopefully I'll find it to update this post with the pic. So sorry.

The best thing to do with this soup- serve it with biscuits. It's great for dipping.
Image Credit:

Enough with the talk. Here's the recipe (from here):

4 cups chicken broth

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cooked, boneless chicken breast halves, shredded
  • 1 (4.5 ounce) package quick cooking long grain and wild rice with seasoning packet
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups heavy cream

  • Directions

    1. In a large pot over medium heat, combine broth, water and chicken. Bring just to boiling, then stir in rice, reserving seasoning packet. Cover and remove from heat.
    2. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper and flour. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in contents of seasoning packet until mixture is bubbly. Reduce heat to low, then stir in flour mixture by tablespoons, to form a roux. Whisk in cream, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Cook until thickened, 5 minutes.
    3. Stir cream mixture into broth and rice. Cook over medium heat until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes.               

    **** Substitutions/additions:
    I do not use heavy cream. I try to cut back a little on the calories and fat by using half and half.
    If I added veggies to this, it would be shredded carrots and maybe mushrooms - if I liked them. Onions would be good too and possibly celery. I don't know many soups that aren't good without onion and celery!

    If you're in the mood for serious comfort food soup, this is the one for you!

    It is important to note that leftovers are thicker the next day. I usually eat my soup served over toast or biscuits when it's like this. Delish!

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Meal Plan Monday!

    Here's what we're eating. There is 1 new recipe and 1 adjusted recipe.

    Sunday: leftovers.
    Monday: Sausage hash (to use up bulk sausage I need to cook)- The new recipe for the week.
    Tuesday: Grilled chicken parmesan with broccoli (adjusted from traditional fried chicken)
    Wednesday: speedy jambalaya
    Thursday: left overs
    Friday: Mexi-meatzza pizza (bumped from a few weeks ago, but I have yet to make it)
    Saturday: out
    Sunday: BLTs (possibly grilled)

    Hope you're enjoying this warmer fall weather!

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Couponing.... pros and cons...

    Yes, I said it. There are cons to couponing.... But the pros are more worth it.

    Most of you know that I coupon regularly. I don't really ever pay full price for anything (except some of the organic/nonallergenic foods I need for Everett). I've been couponing for over 2 years now. I've learned a lot over the way.

    -never having to pay for deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine products, paper towels, and lots of groceries can end up free if the store doubles coupons,
    -knowing when to buy something vs. buying out of necessity and spending too much,
    -learning to be organized.
    -trying products you normally wouldn't try

    -you collect a lot of stuff which leads to a semi-hoarding lifestyle,
    -it does take organization and time as well as shopping strategy which means taking time.

    Image via
    We have saved thousands of dollars the past 2 years using coupons.

    My warning to you: know what you're getting yourself into! Have a place to store things, carve out time in your day for clipping, organizing and shopping. Be aware that you will never want to pay for the above listed items again....

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    The certainty of uncertainty

    I'm learning that in this world, the only thing certain (aside from Christ) is uncertainty. I'm surrounded by it more and more as each day passes.

    There is word about layoffs in just about every field. Foreclosures and bankruptcies at an all-time high. There are so many things that are uncertain right now in our society. It's easy to become downhearted and focus on the negative.

    I just received a text from a dear friend about a resignation and how she feels about this uncertain new life.When at first I read it, I was sad at first that I wouldn't see her (aside from Facebook) as regularly as I once did; however, I honestly think she made the perfect choice for her and think it's so exciting for her to start fresh and new. While it can be scary to move another state and get another job because of the uncertainty of everything, it's a time of renewal and reflection- a fresh start.

    Ahhhh!!!  It doesn't sound so bad when it's said that way. Of course, yes, you have to build and develop relationships and find where you are/who you are in this new life, but stagnancy is boring. Change is a good thing. Scary, but good. It helps you grow and develop as a person, builds character and faith.

    Uncertainty isn't all bad. The certainty of it shows that we can make it through uncertain times relying on God's grace, goodness and strength.  Choose to rely on God. Grow and develop during uncertain times because you never know what will happen next! That's the beauty of uncertainty!

    Image Credit

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Boots 2....

    Remember this post about boots? I said I was hitting up the Macy's boot sale, however, I didn't make it there. I did make it to TJ Maxx though. Look what I found!

    Original price $120... My price $50! Since I had made extra cash the week before, I spent 0 from our budget which is even better! Aren't they lovely?

    Oh... and yes, I do love them paired with a denim skirt and purple tights. LOVED IT!