Saturday, March 31, 2012

My life in pictures

Randomness seems to be the theme as of late, but pictures help me remember what I want to share:

Cody and I got to celebrate my in-law's anniversary with them again this year (last year we were in Hershey, PA on their anniversary aka St. Paddy's day) . Went to Fleming's for some yummy steaks! I cannot express how grateful we are for the example of marriage that has been set for us in our parents and grandparents!

That same weekend, we saw Alan Jackson at the Rodeo with Cody's parents, sister and brother-in-law. Alan Jackson was not a super-energetic entertainer like Miranda Lambert was (we had gone with Cody's sister and b-i-l to see Miranda earlier in the week), but you knew every song that he played, so he was fun to sing along with. I am always amazed at the sheer number of people who go to the rodeo & carnival each many people! We also saw a lot of children going to the rodeo/carnival as we were leaving around 7:30 on the last night of Spring Break..really parents?

Last Friday right after school, a group of teacher's went to see the Hunger Games. Now I am a not usually a big follower of fad books/movies. I have not seen Harry Potter or the Twilight series and will not do so unless I feel so inclined to read the books before (which I have not been thus far). Cody's cousin got me to read the first game of the Hunger Games and I got hooked. So we were the crazy people last week who bought tickets earlier in the week and were at an afternoon showing of the movie. It was for the most part very true to the book and of course a fun experience when you have that many teachers in a confined space : )

We also went to Dallas last weekend for my cousin, Kara's wedding. Although I do not have a picture of the busy bride, know that she was gorgeous.

We stayed with our friends Warren and Danee and on Sunday, Danee and I got up early enough for her to bike and for me to run White Rock lake. It was so peaceful!! I wish that I had gotten a picture of the rowing crew, but just picture them in the middle of the lake. If we lived in Dallas, I would run here frequently.

Ellie had to have a spot removed on her face and now she had stitches. Of course she seems unaffected, but it makes me hurt for her. Poor pup. I am in so much trouble when we have kids....

Friday, March 30, 2012


My brother is basically a technological genius. I cannot think of a time that I have had a problem with my computer, phone, etc that he was not able to fix.

It looks like others are recognizing this too. Here's a blog post done over on The Crossing of Marketing and IT where he was interviewed.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

And I think to myself what a wonderful world

Yesterday, and today for that matter, God gave us such beautiful days! I was outside doing some school work and decided to snap a few pictures of my scenery. I LOVE the way the trees in our backyard look against a blue sky.

I also snapped a pic of each of the girls:
Ellie's is a little more artistic

and Chloe's just cracks me up..she posed perfectly for me
Hope you are outside enjoying the beautiful weather as well!

Monday, March 19, 2012

I'm freezing...

..meals that is. School + grad school + running keeps me on my toes. I've been struggling to get everything done and one thing that I will not compromise on is cooking dinner. I would much prefer cook dinner to picking something up and I see cooking as a way that I can serve my husband. Think cooking = love language. Since I had last week off, I thought I would get ahead on some of my cooking by preparing freezer meals. After asking and a little searching, I made all of these meals that will end up being 14 meals and it really only took about 3-4 hours! Woohoo!

I used the freezer meals post from Ring Around the Rosies to make 8 of the meals.

She prepared crockpot meals into baggies and wrote the directions on the outside. Each of the recipes listed was divided into two separate gallon size bags(which is the appropriate size for a small family such as ours). I made:

Teriyaki Chicken

Medium – Large bag of carrots
Red Onion into Large Chunks
2 large cans pineapple (undrained)
4 Garlic Cloves
4 Chicken Breasts
1 cup teriyaki sauce

Follow directions above, and split everything into two gallon freezer bags. shake it up, seal, label and put in the freezer. Instructions for Bag: Add 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce to crock pot, Cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours. Serve over hot rice

Savory Chicken

4-6 chicken breasts
2 cans stewed tomatoes
4 Tbs white wine
2 bay leafs
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion (I put one small in each bag)
1 cup chicken broth (see how I make mine below, or choose one w/ no msg or bpa)
2 tsp salt
4 cups broccoli

Follow directions above, and put everything (except broccoli) into two gallon freezer bags. shake it up, seal, label and put in the freezer. Instructions for Bag: Cook on low 8 hours, add broccoli during the last 30 minutes.

Sweet & Tangy Meatballs

One large bag of meatballs (I used a pound of ground venison and made my own meatballs loosely using this recipe from Pioneer Woman: Meatballs: 1 lb beef/venison, 3 cloves Garlic, Minced, 3/4 cups Fine Bread Crumbs, 2 whole Eggs, 3/4 cups Freshly Grated Parmesan, 1/4 cup Flat-leaf Parsley, Minced, 1/4 teaspoon Salt, Freshly Ground Black Pepper, Splash Of Milk, 1/2 cup Olive Oil. To make the meatballs, combine meat, garlic, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, eggs, salt, pepper, parsley, and a splash of milk in a mixing bowl. Mix together well with hands. Roll into 25 1 1/2-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet into the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up.)
2 jar grape jelly
20 oz bbq sauce

Put everything into two gallon freezer bags, shake it up, seal, label and put in freezer. Instructions for Bag: Cook on low for 2-4 hours ‘til warmed completely. Serve over hot rice w/ a side of veggies.

Sausage and Peppers

6 Italian Sausage (I used venison..)
2 green peppers
1 red pepper
1 large red onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans italian diced tomatoes
drizzle olive oil
1 Tbs Italian seasoning

Follow directions above, and put everything into two gallon freezer bags, shake it up, seal, label and put in the freezer. Instructions for Bag: Cook on low 8 hours, or grill. After cooking, serve over hot pasta or on hollowed out, buttered crusty bread.

I also made lasagna from this post and the Chicken Spaghetti from this post. When putting them together, I just split each recipe into two different containers and wrapped both with a couple of layers of foil. On the outside I wrote the cooking instructions.

The last main course meal made, Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells, was from What's Cooking Chicago.

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

original Joelen recipe

12-16 jumbo pasta shells
water for boiling pasta
4oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese + 1/4 cup for topping
3 tablespoons prepared pesto (homemade or store bought)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot over high heat, boil water and prepare pasta shells as directed on package. Cook pasta shells only until al dente. The pasta will finish cooking when the dish is baked. Drain the pasta shells and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients, except the 1/4 cup of cheese for the topping. Fill the pasta shells with the filling and place in a baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over filled shells.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake shells uncovered for 30 minutes or until shells are bubbling hot and cheese melts.

· To make ahead/freezer meals - Prepare as directed but place filled shells in an oven- and freezer-proof baking dish. Top with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over filled shells, cover and freeze. When ready to prepare, defrost. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake shells uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until shells are bubbling hot and cheese

There were so many other recipes to choose from, but this seemed like a good place to start.

I also made a double recipe of the Vegan Oat Bars which gives me about a month's worth of
school day breakfasts and some more of the Peanut Butter Oatmeal squares for quick breakfasts.

After making some chocolate chip cookie dough,
I went ahead and scooped it into balls, placed them in a bag and threw it in the freezer so I can make homemade cookies quickly.

You should try it. Right now I am sitting comfy on the couch knowing that we will eat homemade chicken spaghetti for dinner : )

Friday, March 16, 2012

Laundry Room Update

My least favorite chore is ironing...putting away laundry is a close second. Now with that being said, look at my laundry "room."

It functioned just fine, but lacked any appeal to make me actually want to go visit, so I decided to make it a little more fun and organized. (The picture shown is actually post a little clean up. The cabinet doors did not stay shut, I had my ironing pile on top of the dryer and everything in the cabinets was a mess.)

I started off by doing a little cleaning and placing things where they belonged. I got a basket for all of the clothing waiting to be ironed from Marshall's. After completely clearing out the cabinets, I sanded them down and cleaned them off. I applied a coat or 2 of my favorite Sherwin Williams green, Garden Sage, and added polka dot cabinet knobs from Hobby Lobby.

I had been looking for wall paper that was grey quatrefoil, but with not adieu, so I was very excited to come across this scrapbooking paper from Hobby Lobby that I attached with Glue Dots to break up the green.

I found these great big 9" clothespins from amazon and these cute little irons from an antique store in Gruene.
I wanted something else also to fill the shelves and also seeing how expensive ceramic letters were, I dug into our wood pile in the garage and found a 2x4. Cody cut it down for me and I painted it white. I let that paint dry overnight and then applied scrapbooking letters to say "Laundry, Loads of fun" and painted over the entire piece of wood with black paint. After it dried, I peeled off the scrapbooking letters and did a little touch up where needed.

I found some great metal buckets at Target in the dollar section and hot glued on a piece of the quatrefoil paper and added scrapbooking letters to label my buckets so that they were labeled.

The last thing that I added was this grey striped rug from Crate and Barrel.

Easy, inexpensive makeover and now I love my laundry room!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Break: Gruene

After a long day of shopping in San Marcos, we headed onto Gruene and checked at the Gruene Mansion Inn
and put on our cowboy boots.

We ate at the Gristmill

looked in a few shops and headed over to Gruene Hall for a while.

On Tuesday, Beth and I ran around the town, by the river

and ended up at this cute little coffee shop called Gruene Coffee Haus.

I also found my great new coffee mug there. (It says: I like Gruene Beans)

We ate breakfast at the B&B before heading around town to all of the cute little shops and then headed out our separate ways.

What a perfect break from reality! Now on to relaxing at home and getting a few around the house things done that I normally don't have time for : )

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Break: San Antonio

This year for Spring Break, it worked out to take a quick trip to two Texas towns with my mom, Beth and her mom. We started out our trip in San Antonio.
We stayed at the Ruckman Haus that I had read about on Lynn's blog and were absolutely in love with it!

The decor was wonderful and it was so peaceful, but my favorite part was the balcony that we shared between our two rooms.

Once we arrived on Sunday and checked in, we headed to a very north, uncrowded part of the riverwalk which was the old Pearl Brewery. It had a few shops and resturants. We grabbed a quick snack (a chocolate chip cookie the size of my head and a vanilla latte) at the Culinary Institute of America's bakery. YUM!

Afterwards, following a friend's suggestion, we hopped on a river taxi and rode all the way down to the main part of the riverwalk near the Alamo and the mall. If you are going to San Antonio and want to ride on the river, I suggest the taxis over the cruises/tours. We saw tons of people waiting in line to get on one of the tour boats. We were able to hop on and off the taxi when we wanted to. It was much easier.

While riding, we had to go through a lock, which released water to let us down to river level on the way into downtown and added water to raise us up to the level of the new part of the river on the way back. I have never been on one of those before, it was very interesting.

Once downtown, we snatched up some good deals at the GAP sale before heading to Rita's on the River for dinner and heading back.

Beth and I got up Monday morning and ran the park a few blocks from our B&B before being greeted with an amazing breakfast on the patio.

Afterwards, we packed up and drove on to San Marcos for a very successful day of shopping at the outlets.