Monday, January 26, 2015

Meal Planning in Reverse.3

Pei Wei Chicken Fried Rice
{Winston and I visited Benjamin at work and headed to grab fried rice at WAC's request!}

Shepherd's Mac & Cheese with rolls
{Y'all.  I got The Mac + Cheese Cookbook for Christmas and it's awesome!  I highly recommend it!  In fact, I like it so much I'm giving two copies away!  Click here for the deets!}

Trader Joe's Mini Chicken Pot Pies, broccoli and rolls
{If you have a TJ's nearby, you have to try these delicious morsels!  There are 12 in a box and they are great for a lighter dinner or as appetizers for a party.}

The Boys: Pancakes
Me: Tamales

The Golden Arches

Chicken Alfredo Ravioli Bake, broccoli, garlic bread
{This meal got thumbs up by both Benjamin and my Mom as being a tasty dish!  I did cut the amount of alfredo sauce used by 1 cup as I prefer a ton of sauce.  I'd think it was the perfect amount even if you did like sauce.  Also, I sprinkled some mozzarella cheese on the top before putting it in the oven.}


Sunday, January 25, 2015

An ordinary weekend in January

I don't know about you but I love a weekend when we don't have anything scheduled.  An ordinary weekend.  Don't get me wrong.  We enjoy the weekends with adventures and fun to be had but there is something refreshing and good for the soul when we get to be at home together.

Friday Winston was under the weather so we were low key all day.  Our normal evening involves us all eating together at the table.  We are teaching Winston how to answer questions when he is asked and then in turn, ask the person about their day.  It's fun to see what Winston tells Benjamin about his day.  Sometimes it is what he ate that day and sometimes it is about the crafts he made.  Growing up my parents made it a priority for all of us to eat dinner together at the table.  It still is one of my favorite things - to gather everyone around the table to talk about just whatever.  Eating at the table has been something that Benjamin and I have done since we dated.  It's good to be able to look at each other and talk about the day.  When we were first married he had loads of studying to do so eating together guaranteed we would have uninterrupted time with just the two of us.  It has been such an important part of our routine, Winston fit into it with no problems.  It is sweet to see and hear him bless our food and as his vocabulary grows, participate in the conversations!  
Winston tried for the first time {and LOVED} Sour Gummy Hearts.  Kid after my own heart!  I enjoyed lounging around the house in my new favorite comfy pants from J. Crew!

Benjamin finished up the window treatments for the play room upstairs.  Winston was a big helper passing him the tape measure.  It is amazing to me how window treatments always add that finishing touch that rooms need to make them feel homey.  

We normally try to eat at home a few times during the weekend.  We almost always have donuts on Saturday mornings.  Winston "wakes up" Benjamin and promptly tells him to "Get dressed for donuts, Daddy!"  On Saturday for dinner I tried a new recipe and Mom came over to eat with us since Dad was out of town.  The dish was quite yummy!!  

This Sunday Benjamin and I volunteered in the Children's ministry.  He was with the 4 year olds and I was with the threes.  We joined them in their Elevate church and were able to Winston participate in worship and listening to the Bible story.  
After church we grubbed down on Wing Stop.  Our family of three can split the 10 piece chicken strips.  It's right at $20 and is a good option to break up the normal routine of places we eat!  Once home, Winston crashed for a good nap allowing Benjamin and I some time to piddle around on this and that.  Him outside in the garage enjoying the beautiful day, me with open windows in our bedroom.  

When Winston woke up, we started playing with trains and blocks.  Then a break to eat some gummies and finish up our jellyfish craft!  
He got a kick out of smashing up the tissue paper to stuff the jellyfish.  We used a paper bag, Crayola paints, glitter pens, googly eyes, tissue paper and string.  We both think he turned out pretty cute!    
The rest of the evening will be normal routine for us as we prepare for the new week.  I am thankful for this weekend and the time we have had together.  It was an ordinary weekend.  Nothing special.  Nothing outrageous or crazy.  ...Well, maybe a dash of crazy.  :)  A weekend that I am sure we will have more like in the future.  And I am happy about that!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Mac + Cheese Cookbook {Give-a-way!}

On a whim, I put The Mac + Cheese Cookbook on my wish list for Christmas.  Benjamin and Winston both like a good macaroni and cheese.  Well, really who am I kidding?  I love a really good macaroni and cheese!  It was one of the gifts I opened on Christmas morning and as I read through the recipes got really excited about trying to make {almost} all of them! 
All of the recipes call for making the cheese sauces from scratch.  I hardly ever cook anything from scratch so this was a new adventure for me.  And I had a lot of fun doing it!  The book teaches you how to make b├ęchamel sauce, or Mac sauce as the authors call it.  I will promise you this - you will use lots of pans, it will be an arm workout and it will be awesome!
The first recipe I made was as a side for our New Year's Day meal.  The Trailer Mac.  It was macaroni and cheese with hotdogs and smashed up potato chips.  I mean.  It was delicious!  And it warmed up well, which is always a bonus!

The second recipe I made was the Shepherd Mac.  Now, I really like Shepherd's Pie.  My mom made it quite a bit when I was younger.  The idea of using macaroni instead of potatoes just made sense to me!  Stepping out of my norm again, I purchased Aged English Sharp Cheddar because that's what the book told me to do.  Who knew Kroger carried that kind of stuff?!  I served it as a main dish and it was a delight to the tastebuds!  Even though it took a while, it is a repeater for sure!

The book has other gems I am looking forward to try such as Chili Mac, Smoky Bacon Mac, Breakfast Mac, Mexican Mac, Mac and Blue, Mac-Cakes.  The book also contains recipes to side dishes and desserts.  

So, why did I just go on about this cook book and how yummy the recipes are?  Because I'd like to give you, friends, the opportunity to win one of your very own!  We will be giving away two cookbooks to two lucky readers!  Follow the instructions below on how to enter to win.  Be sure to use the Rafflecopter to let me know you have participated.  Good luck!  Winner will be announced on January 31st!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 19, 2015

Meal Planning in Reverse.2

Last week was a different week for our family.  It started out on track and then little Bug got sick foiling our plans to travel to Dallas.  While we were super bummed to have to cancel our fun plans, it was the best thing to do for Little.  Nothing too adventurous last week, although I am making something on Tuesday of this week that I am pretty pumped about!

Dinner out with friends at Grimaldi's
{We love their pizza and if you sign up on their mailing list, they send you a coupon for a free pizza during your birthday week!}

Beef Stroganoff with noodles, cracker crumbed green beans and garlic bread
{A favorite of mine from growing up and a hearty cold weather meal.}

Sunday School Social

{The Day of The Sick}

Baked Chicken, egg noodles, mashed potatoes, broccoli

Pork chops, cous cous, baked zucchini and rolls

Do you ever make cous cous as a side dish?  A few months back I picked up a box and both Winston and Benjamin really enjoyed it.  It has become one of our go to side dishes!  I have found four or five different flavors.  I can say all of them are tasty sans the pine nut one... we have never tried it.  It is super quick to make {once the water boils, 5-10 mins for fluffing} and adds variety to our meals.  What side dishes are regulars in your  family?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Easy Valentine's Crafts for Toddlers

One of my goals for 2015 is to have at least two intentional crafts a week for Winston and I to make together since he loved having bags to open with crafts inside during December.  And because the kid loves to be in the craft room!  

When I was shopping for supplies at JoAnn Fabrics, I came across these foam cut-out hearts already listed at 40% off.  
The package in the bottom of the picture has hearts that pop out of the middle of them too.  I knew that they would be perfect for making a Valentine's wreath!
Winston helped layout which heart he wanted to go where and was great at helping me push them together while I used the glue gun.  I had also purchased some candy heart stickers that he used to decorate the wreath.  
Then using some ribbon, I made a hanger and it looks precious hanging on our craft room door!

We have an unusually large collection of googly eyes in our craft room, from teensy weeny to BIG!  They are perfect for making Googly-Eyed Heart Monsters!  Using Elmer's glue and his own creative genius, Winston enjoyed crafting these little guys.  It was also his idea to use the pipe cleaners as arms, legs and antenna!  And who doesn't love a few pom-poms for added flair!

We took ones of the open hearts, glued it onto a canvas, picked out Valentine's colors and voila! A piece of art to display in the kitchen!  I love Crayola paints!  They come in a plethora of colors, glitter and metallic too!  They wash right off of little {and big} hands as well as clothes!  

Another item that we can never get enough of are the sparklies!  We have a jumbo tub of rhinestones and we pretty much glue them on everything.  It's a fun, simple craft that allows Winston to use creativity while working on those fine motor skills to pick up tiny sparkles.  It also helps with his ability to work a glue bottle!  

What fun crafts have you been doing with your littles lately?  I'd love to know, February is just around the corner and I need to start planning!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Meal Planning in Reverse.1

I made a meal plan for our family last week and stuck to it fairly well - minus the evening that McDonald's was calling our name!  Benjamin and I agreed that taking the time to make a plan helps us to eat better and gives leftovers for him to eat during the week for lunch.  

I'm going to try something new this week and see how it goes!  Instead of sharing what we are going to eat for the week ahead, I am going to share the meals we made for the previous week and let you know what we thought about any new dishes we tried!  I like to use Pinterest as a resource for new recipes but I also like to know a) if people actually make this stuff and 2) how it really turned out!  

Pei Wei
{Winston loves him some fried rice!}

Seasoned chicken, fettuccine alfredo {from Trader Joe's}, and broccoli
{If you have a Trader Joe's nearby and you like fettuccine, I highly recommend theirs!  It is quick and scrumptious!}

Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork, baked potatoes, corn and rolls
{This was the first time to make this Pinterest recipe and to be honest, I'd give it about a 2 out of 5 stars.  As I expected the flavor was on the sweeter side, but it wasn't outstandingly fabulous.  We ate ours on King Hawaiian rolls with swiss cheese and pickles.  I'm glad I tried it but it won't be a repeat meal.}


Benjamin: Taquitos and Cheese Dip
Sara: Boss Burger at Zelko Bistro

Homemade Quesadillas and Yellow Rice

Cereal and toast

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2015: Intentional Gratitude

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, as you sing psalms, humans and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  
Colossians 3:11

As we look to a new year, I can't help but look back at 2014 with a heart of gratitude.  It was a good year for our family.  I was able to "retire" from my job to be a full time stay at home mom, Benjamin continued to enjoy his job while being able to teach, Winston grew into a terrific two year old and Luli remained in good health.  Our families are all doing well and we even gained a niece!  We joined a church and are leading the newlywed class.  Winston is enjoying school two days a week and I have had fun being room mom!  

It's amazing how fast a year goes by.  Three hundred and sixty five days.  You'd think it takes a little longer than it actually does.  This was Winston last year.  And this is him now.
Winston is energetic, vibrant, a character, lovable, and full of joy.  I have never met a kid who enjoys life as much as this little guy.  He loves adventures, trains, the zoo, playing make believe and crafts.  Man, oh man can this kid craft!  He is sensitive.  He loves to give hugs and encourage others.  He is a high-five, fist bumping, "good job!" giving little guy.  Winston enjoys McDonald's, broccoli, green beans, and goldfish.  Also those squeezie packs.  Those are fantastic!  Favorite animal these days are giraffes and when you ask him what they eat his promptly replies, "Salad."  Winston continues to be an all around great eater and sleeper.   My hope for this year is that he will continue to be sensitive to the Bible stories that we read, that as his little personality continues to develop I can find ways to nurture his curiosity and equip him to love others well.  

Instead of creating a list of goals for the year, which to be honest is always frightening to me, I have decided to do things a little differently.  Before the beginning of each new month I want to take some time to write out a wish list of activities or projects that I would like to get accomplished during that month.  I have set up a few categories: Social, Winston, Family, Dating, Personal.  Social includes attending Sunday School outings, being intentional on doing lunch with other moms or dinner with friends.  Winston's category are crafts that would be fun, outings for us to take or books that I'd like to start reading.  Family would include zoo day, monster truck rally, bike ride and picnic (when it is warmer!).  Dating would be to make sure that Benjamin and I have one evening that we do something together.  Personal - well that's for me.  It's where I want to stretch myself to complete projects I need to finish, clean out closets, learn something new.  I think this new way will be more manageable for me and both Benjamin and Winston can participate in contributing ideas!
But more than any of that, my hope this year is that we would continue to savor each moment together.  That we would be mindful of the wonderful word of God, that it will fill our home and our hearts.  I pray that this year I would be more intentional and brave in loving others.  And above all, that thankfulness to the Lord would cover everything.  

Benjamin continues to work as a real orthodontist.  I am proud to say that he does a wonderful job each day providing for our family.  He not only straightens people's teeth, he encourages the staff, takes on all responsibilities that are asked of him at work and comes home full of love for Winston and me.  My heart swells each evening that Winston runs to the door, Lulu at his heels, welcoming Benjamin home.  I love that Winston asks each night to go to the garage so that he can help Daddy with projects.  Benjamin is patient to teach Winston about tools and being safe.  Benjamin continues to teach at the school and he enjoys every moment of it.  This year we will continue to do projects around the house which means opportunities for Benjamin to be out in his garage creating!

Lulu continues to do well.  She loves that we are home more during the day and is never far away from us.  We take her once a month for laser treatments to keep any inflammation in her back a bay.  She gets lots of pets and hugs from Winston and is really looking forward to pool weather!

And as for me, I love being at home with Winston.  There are days when it is exhausting but always rewarding.  I know that there are books to read, meals to cook, new fads to try but mostly this year I just want to be more intentional in everything - in Bible study, in being present when I play with Winston, in loving and encouraging Benjamin, in connecting with others - and to do it with gratitude to the One to has given so much.  

From the bottom of my heart, may you be able to find gratitude in the minute to minute and day to day.  And when you do, rejoice!  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Monster Jam 2015

Two years ago we went to Monster Jam for the first time and brought a baby Winston with us!  As I wrote out things that I wanted to accomplish in January "look up dates and purchase tickets to Monster Jam" was one of the items!  I spoke to Benjamin about it and he was on board!  The first set of dates worked the best for our January schedule and we decided that this would be our Valentine's adventure.  I was most excited about Winston coming with us again!
The last time we went to Monster Jam we used our Ergo Baby carrier and WAC did splendidly in it.  We also used the carrier when we went overseas for the exploring terrain that wasn't stroller friendly. The morning of our Adventure, I remembered that the carrier held a child up to 45 pounds, so we gave it a test run.  That night Benjamin hooked Winston to his back and we were able to walk from the parking lot to our seats at NRG Stadium without any problem!  Winston was happy for the ride and we were happy that we weren't wrangling a very excited toddler!  I foresee more use of the Ergo Baby in our future! 
We sat in the Club Level seats again.  It's just a good place to sit with little people because of the couches and tables if they get a little restless.  Plus they have bathrooms close by, food and souvenirs available!  We used the same hearing protection as last time for Winston and he did a great job at leaving them on to protect his little ears.

Winston shared an icecream cone with Benjamin although I'm not really sure how much of it Benjamin got to eat!  He enjoyed watching the big trucks race around the track, do tricks and crash!  This age is truly a great age!
As we were leaving the arena to head home, Winston kept chanting, "Monster truck, again!  Monster truck, again!"  We are even a few days past and he is still talking about the big, loud Monster Trucks. I can say without a doubt that we will be going again!  

Monday, December 29, 2014

Preparing for New Years!

It's crazy to think that New Year's is just a few days away.  2015 will be here and a whole new list of goals, dreams, and aspirations will start fresh and new.  Here are two things that we have made in the past to add something a little different to New Years Day!

First up is the Rice Crispie Champagne Bottle dessert.  Inspired by PS I Made This {on the left}, ours didn't turn out too horrible {on the right}!  It sure did taste yummy!  
In 2013 we celebrated by baking homemade fortune cookies and writing personalized fortunes for inside them!  The whole process was easier than I was expected, they were delicious and super cute!

We will be staying in this year munching on Chex Mix and little smokies wrapped in crescent rolls!  Hope your New Year's is fun, safe and spent with the ones you love!  
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