Friday, December 18, 2009

Yesterday Elsie was talking to Poppy on the phone and this is what she said...

Poppy: Hi there baby doll!
Elsie: I'm not baby doll. This is ELSIE!

She is so funny and smart :) At least I think so!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I love that she has her hands in her pocket, and is giving me her all star smile.
This picture makes my heart happy.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Decor at our house

Here is a little glimpse into our Christmas decor. Just a few of the special things...
The girls worked hard together on this project. It was an awesome fun mess of paint, glue, glitter, tissue paper, tinsel, and chalk. Now I display their work proudly on our dining room wall.

Elsie's first year ornament
Jenna's first year ornament
Eric and my first Christmas ornament

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Christmas 09

Decorating in 09.

Friday, December 04, 2009


The big 3-0 has come. I decided to make a bit of a memory on my blog about myself. Normally this blog is all about my kids, but I thought it would be good to have something like this so I can read it again in 10 years and remember. A few serious, a few random, and a few facts. So, here's my list of 30 things to share...

1. I am ready for 30. I like 30 already.
2. I hate soggy bread in the sink. Shoving it down the drain is the grossest thing ever.
3. I love my girls so much. Jenna and I laugh together all the time, and connect well. Elsie is so fun to get to know, she cracks me up.
4. My husband is incredible. Seriously IN-CRE-DI-BLE. I am so blessed. We have come a long way in our 6.5 years of marriage, and every step along the way has been great.
5. I don't like walking down dark hallways.
6. Someday I hope we can take the kids to Disneyland.
7. More then ever before, my hope is in God.
8. I am a smaller size than I was in high school.
9. My favorite thing about our house is the garden. And the warmth found inside. And the closeness. And the smallness. Sometimes the smallness gets to me, but mostly it is perfect.
10. Ten years ago I was in college, wondering what in the world my life would look like. Now here I am. Some things are just like I pictured, some things are better by far, some things are more challenging then I ever imagined.
11. I love Survivor and The Office. I also like New Adventures of Old Christine and Big Bang Theory. I like relaxing by laughing.
12. I'm a lot less judgmental than I used to be.
13. I worry less and less with each passing year. Not because there is less to worry about, but because I believe more and more that God loves me and has a perfect plan.
14. I am a way better cook than I used to be. But I have a lot of room to grow.
15. I changed my major in college from elementary education to Biblical exposition. But I do both skills every day for my girls and for myself.
16. I wish I could sew more than a just straight line.
17. I coupon. I am a crazy coupon lady. But I am not super insane coupon lady, just a little crazy.
18. I have changed approximately 7,300 diapers so far. Wow, did I do that math right? Wow.
19. I have/had several side jobs while staying home with the kids - house cleaning, child care, secret shopper, garden center
20. I stretch gift cards like nobodies business. Yesterday for my pre-birthday I went shopping and used a gift card that was given to me LAST birthday. I love the challenge of making money stretch
21. I take the girls to the library often. I have a book called Honey for A Child's Heart that gives suggestions of age appropriate excellent books. I put a few of those on hold, let the kids pick some, and then we are off. I hope my kids love to read.
22. I am not as patient as I used to be. But then again, I have never had my patience tested so much as I have this last year. Maybe I was always impatient but just didn't know it. Love is patient, so I will continue to pursue love and give more and more patience by the grace and strength of God who has such amazing patience with me.
23. I haven't snow skied for years, but I have kept up with water skiing.
24. When I become a mother-in-law, I want to be just like my mother-in-law. She and Poppy both support us and care for us and love us so much.
25. I have an amazing extended family that I love so much. My parents and awesome, my sister and brother in law are great friends to us, all my in-laws in California and Oklahoma are wonderful, my aunts and uncles are cousins are great, my nephews are hilarious and such good friends with my girls. I love family.
26. We hope to become foster parents in the next year. We look forward to the opportunity to help kids in need of a temporary or permanent home.
27. Being a part of a church plant has been the biggest means for growth ever.
28. My rheumatoid arthritis is not so bad. I give myself a shot of Enbrel once a week and I feel really good. I really don't like giving myself a shot, but it is worth it.
29. I pray my girls become as close of friends as my sister and I are.
30. I can't wait to see what these next 10 years hold!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A few things we have been up to...

Spending time with neighbors
Bonding as sisters
(They are so cute together... 80% of the time)
Bringing out the beans for Elsie
(She loves making a mess with the beans. Loves it.)
Ridding the house of mice
(Ew, gross)
Sorting out mail fraud
(this was suppose to be shoes for Eric and clothes for the girls)
Trying to spend some time outside on these beautiful but cold days

And honestly, forgetting to take out the camera much.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another Thanksgiving craft

Her first two lines under I am so thankful says Haley (neighbor). Actually, she started writing the "I" of "I am so thankful" but then I told her she could skip that part.
I thought this one up all by myself :) I put an X where she should glue the legs, and a O where she should glue the body, then she glued on the feathers, and lastly the head and beak and details. It was fun and cute. Oh, and I pulled the feathers off of a dress up boa that we have.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving craft

Here is a quick and easy Thanksgiving craft. I got the idea from one of my favorite craft websites, Danielle's Place. They trace (or you trace) their hands and color and decorate. The saying at the bottom is: "I made this little turkey so everyone can see that I am very thankful that God's been so good to me."

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I haven't posted pictures in a while, so I thought I would do that today to give a little update on what's going on around here...

Jenna's creativity has been increasing at a rapid pace. She is learning and exploring and enjoying all kids of new things. It's always amazing to watch her mind grow.
She enjoys playing playdoh with her sis, and coloring and writing and is really starting to read. She spends more and more time imagining and pretending during her rest time. She and Eric have been reading through the Jesus Storybook Bible again and they are both loving every moment of this daddy/daughter special time.
They aren't perfect, but they are becoming good little friends. Sure there are arguments and hair pulling and screaming on occasion, but for the most part they enjoy playing together! I wasn't sure the day would ever come :) I am doing my best to encourage a long lasting relationship for these two sisters.

We have been babysitting our buddies Josh and Caleb a little bit this month. It has been so much fun having them here. We do some pre-school that even the little ones enjoy, we learn a verse and do art projects and they have free play time. It has been so much fun. I love how they are all playing together here...
And this picture cracks me up! Elsie is giving a funny face while playing the guitar, Josh has made the vacuum into the rockin-ist guitar you have ever seen, and Caleb is mid summersault flip!
We moved Elsie into a big girl bed! Honetly I wasn't sure we would ever move her out of the crib! But since she started climbing out of her crib around 30 times every bedtime, we thought we may as well make the transition! And by God's grace, things are going quite well.
So, this summer I was mowing the lawn and I ran over a rock. Well that rock went shooting out of the mower, straight through our window. So, replacing the windows in our house has begun. One window at a time. Or maybe just this one window :)
It is so beautiful. Our friend Greg came over and helped/taught Eric how to replace windows so when it is time for the next one, we are ready to go!
And that pretty much catches you up on life around here!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Main Dish Recipes!

Last week I hosted a Facebook recipe exchange, and it was awesome! So many fantastic recipes were gathered, and so I wanted to share them here for anyone else interested. (I had to do two separate email groups, so if you were in the facebook exchange, there will still be recipes here that you haven't seen yet.)

From Jenna: Cashew Chicken
The recipe I am going to share has quickly become one of my favorite dishes to cook. It's fairly easy and only takes about a 1/2 hour to prepare and about 10 minutes to actually get everything cooked. It's a Martha Stewart recipe (love her recipes) and here's the link.

Cashew Chicken

From Amanda: Chicken Enchiladas
These are my favorite enchiladas. They taste delicious and you make your own sauce (very simple). I think the sauce and the cilantro really make this stand out from other enchiladas.

Chicken Enchiladas (serves 6)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon canola oil
Kosher salt
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons sugar
28-ounce can tomato sauce
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Freshly ground black pepper
10 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (4-ounce) can green chilies
½ cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
Vegetable oil spray
1 lime, cut into wedges and sour cream (for serving)
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil over medium heat,9 add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt in a large saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onion has softened, eight to ten minutes.
Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin and sugar and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and green chilies and bring to a simmer. Cook until the sauce has slightly thickened, about five minutes.
Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and the thickest part registers 160 degrees on the instant read thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate to cool. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
If you are in a hurry, I am all the time it seems, shred the chicken with two forks into bite-sized pieces. If not wait until it is cool enough to handle then shred with your hands. Toss together the shredded chicken, ½ cup of the enchilada sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Stack the tortillas on a microwave-safe plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high until warm and pliable, 45 seconds. Spread the warm tortillas out over a clean work surface. Place the chicken mixture, cheese and cilantro evenly down the center of each tortilla. Tightly roll each tortilla around the filling and lay them seam-side down in a 13×9-inch baking dish.
Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with vegetable oil spray. Pour one cup of the remaining sauce over the enchiladas to cover them thoroughly. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar over the enchiladas. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until the enchiladas are heated through, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese browns, about five minutes longer. Place extra sauce, lime wedges and sour cream on table along with the piping hot enchiladas and devour!

From Faith: PF Chang's Lettuce Wraps
They claim it's the real thing, even if they are lying, I don't care because they taste like the real thing. They are amazing. Just prepare yourself for a lot of grunt work. There are like 15 steps but it's so worth it. The only tip I would add is that next time I make them I am going to add a bit of a thickening agent to the sauce because they are so runny and messy (which is good cause you can lick the plate. HA!) Also, I couldn't find garlic and red chile paste so I used sweet chile sauce and it works great. here is the link

Also from Faith: Soy Sauce Chicken...
This is easy and so yummy. I serve this over a bed of steaming hot white rice with lots of the sauce all over. This really is best if marinated over night and if you have an oven that is off a little on temperature (like mine) make sure you aren't cooking over 350 degrees or the chicken can get chewy. It's best when the chicken is tender and falls apart!

Soy Sauce Chicken
1/2 c soy sauce
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c orange juice or pineapple juice
1/4 c oil
1 t ginger
1 t garlic powder
4-6 chicken breasts, whole or cut in slices

Mix all ingredients and pour over raw chicken. Marinate overnight or for several hours. Bake in sauce for 1 hour at 350. Serves 6-8

Megan's Recipe: A's Chicken
This is my grandma's recipe. It has very few ingredients, all of which I almost always have on hand. So if we have last minute dinner guests, this is a winner!

A's Chicken
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 T minced parsley
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cut chicken (or 4 boneless chicken breasts)

Melt butter with garlic, dip chicken in garlic butter. Then roll in crumb mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for about one hour (or bake at 350 for around 45 minutes for boneless chicken).

Also from Megan: Ginger Steak Salad
Second is a recipe from my favorite site, The Pioneer Woman. It is a ginger steak salad. Here is the link...
Ginger Steak Salad

From Emily M: Creamy Italian Chicken
k, I know we're gonna do crock pot recipies later on, but I feel like that's all I'm doing these days...I love my crockpot! :) I have lots more recipies for when we do more slow cooker stuff.
Creamy Italian Chicken
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix
1/3 cup water
1 package (8 ozs.) cream cheese, softened
1 can (10 3/4 ozs.) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 can (4 ozs.) mushroom stems and pieces, drained
Hot cooked rice or noodles

Place the chicken breast halves in a slow cooker.
Combine salad dressing mix and water; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on LOW for 3 hours. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together cream cheese and soup until blended. Stir in mushrooms. Pour cream cheese mixture over chicken. Cook 1 to 3 hours longer or until chicken juices run clear. Serve Italian chicken with rice or hot cooked noodles.
Serves 4.

From Kristen: S*xy Joes (I made this blog appropriate so that adsense doesn't give me any weird ads)
For my recipes, I am going to post two. One is healthy but so good, and the other is unhealthy but SO SO GOOD.

S*xy Joes :)
1 lb extra lean ground chicken (I use ground turkey)
1 T white vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
2 t. Worcestershire
1 1/2 t. honey
1/2 t. hot pepper sauce
2/3 c. chopped onion
1/3 c. chopped green pepper
3/4 c. low sodium tomato sauce
3/4 c. chili sauce
1/4 t. chili pwd
4 whole-grain or whole wheat hamburger buns

Cook chicken or turkey until no longer pink. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the vinegar, worcestershire, honey, and hot pepper sauce. Whisk to combine and set aside.
Drain off any liquid from the cooked meat. Add the onion, green pepper, tomato sauce, chili sauce, chili powder and the reserved vinegar mixture to the pan. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 mins or until thickened. Spoon onto buns and serve with french fries to balance out the healthyness :)
PS-I usually double this recipe so we can have leftovers for lunch the next day

Also from Kristen: Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich
My second recipe is from The Pioneer Woman....if any of you have ever eaten at Grant's Philly Cheesesteaks, I alter this recipe to be like his...adding sweet and hot peppers and I personally like cream cheese schmeared on both sides of my roll in place of any other kind of cheese. And for those of you who like Philly Cheesesteaks and haven't eaten at Grants (153rd/Sandy), that is a sin and you NEED to go try their sandwiches AND fries! :)
Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich

From Janna: Lasagna
My kids are older (23,20,17,15) and all love this recipe! I love that you don't have to boil the noodles first, that just takes away an extra step since I am always rushing! I hope you will enjoy it!

1 lb hamburger
32 oz Prego spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 c. water
1 pkg wide lasagna noodels
16 oz. cottage cheese
16 oz. Mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese

Brown meat and season with salt, pepper, and garlic salt. Add sauce and water, heat.

In 9 X 13 dish, spread thin layer of sauce. Then layer 4 times: uncooked (hard and dry) noodels, thin layer of cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, sauce mix and mozzarella cheese.

Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hr. Let stand 20 minutes before serving.

From Kara: Silverspoon Chicken
Here's a good one from my friend Heidi that many of you know:) It's called Silverspoon chicken. I like it because it's pretty easy and fast and good for a meat-loving husband.
Silverspoon Chicken
about 4 chicken breasts
8 oz cream cheese
3 Tbl chopped parsley
2 Tbl lemon juice
3 Tbl chopped chives
salt and pepper
3 slices of thick cut pepper bacon (cut in thirds)
cooked, hot rice to go with dish.
Preheat oven to 400. Pound chicken breasts to 1/2 inch thick. Combine softened cream cheese, parsley, lemon juice and chives. spread thickly on center of underside of chicken breast. Roll breasts loosely, turn ends under and place in lightly greased pan, seam side down. Sprinkle chicken rolls with salt, pepper, paprika. Place bacon slice on top of each. Bake for 30-35 minutes. cheese filling melts and forms a sauce, serve over rice. Broil 3-5 minutes if bacon needs crisping.

From Alex: Stoup Lasagna
I am horrible at making Lasagna and I found this in one of my Rachael Ray Magazines and it was delish :) Hope you guys enjoy :) Here is the link.
Lasagna Stoup

From Ginger: Chicken Squares
This is so much fun! Here's my go-to recipe. Looks and seems fancy, but really not hard at all, and most of the ingredients are on hand. - this is from Brenda Abelein's cook book. The first few times I made this Eric asked incredulously, "YOU made this?" That says a lot, huh? ;)

Chicken Squares
• 2 cups chicken, or turkey, or… cooked, and cut up
• 6 ounces low fat cream cheese, softened
• 2 Tbs. milk
• 1 Tbs. parsley
• Salt and Pepper to taste

• 2 Tbs. butter, melted
• ¼ cup bread crumbs
• 2 pkgs. Pillsbury crescent rolls


1. Preheat oven to 350°
2. Mix first 5 ingredients in mixing bowl.
3. Grease baking sheet
4. Melt Butter in small dish
5. Put bread crumbs in small dish next to melted butter
6. Open crescent rolls and separate each can into 4 rectangles by pressing together triangles at the seams. Each rectangle is mad from 2 triangles. Press seams together well so that the filling will not leak out during cooking.
7. Divide filling onto all 8 rectangles.
8. Pull up corners and pinch side seams together, sealing well.
9. Dip the top of each square first into melted butter, then bread crumbs.
10. Place square onto baking sheet ‘dipped’ side up.
11. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

*This recipe is an excellent way to use holiday leftovers. Serve with a salad.

From Lynsey: Taco Bake
This is one of my favorite meals. Usually all I need to buy for it is the crescent roll dough. It's yummy and pretty quick to make!!

Taco Bake
1 lb. Hamburger
8 oz. Tomato Sauce
1/2 package Taco Seasoning
1 tube Crescent Roll Dough
8 oz. Sour Cream
1-2 cups Shredded Cheese ( a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar usually works well, although just cheddar works too)

Brown and drain the hamburger. Add the tomato sauce and taco seasoning.
Press 4 crescent roll triangles (half of the tube) into the bottom of a 9x9 baking dish. Spread the hamburger mixture on top. Cover with sour cream and shredded cheese. Top with remaining crescent rolls.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

*If you're feeling adventurous, you can trade out the tomato sauce and taco seasoning for some nice, chunky salsa!*

From Emily P: Italian Bean Soup
I just discovered this bean soup on Every Day Italian...but I can't leave a recipe alone, so I added my own "twists". I think I made it heartier and pry a little healthier too. :) Perfect for these cold nights we've been having. Enjoy!
Italian Bean Soup
1/3 lb panchetta, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cans canallini beans (I use low sodium)
6 cups chicken stock (I use about 4 cans, which is more like 7 cups, but makes a nice big pot of soup)
4 cloves garlic, halved
sprig or two of rosemary (leave whole)
S/P to taste

2 cans Canalini Beans
1 can pinto beans
2 medium carrots, chopped fine
1/2 cup milk

In a large soup pot put drizzle a splash of olive oil. Brown panchetta until golden brown, remove from pan and put on paper towels to drain. Add onions, carrots and celery and season with salt and pepper. Brown veggies until onion is slightly translucent. If bottom of pan begins to darken, deglaze with about 1/4 cup chicken stock. Add beans, chicken stock, garlic and rosemary. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. If you have an imersion (or stick) blender, use to puree the soup right in the pot. If you don't, then spoon soup into a blender (only fill up half way, it's hot!) and blend soup. Return to pot. Add remaining cans of beans, carrots and cooked panchetta. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until carrots are tender. Just be fore serving, stir in milk. Serve it up with some hot crusty bread for dipping!
It's SO delicious. I've done it without the milk and it is just as delicious. (the original calls for cream.)
Have fun!

From Jessica: Parmesan Crusted Chicken
I usually make some buttered noodles and a veggie with this. It is simple and fast.
Parmesan Crusted Chicken
½ cup Real Mayo
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
4 boneless chicken breast
4 tsp. Italian seasoned dry breadcrumbs

Combine mayo and cheese. Spread on chicken, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake at 425; 20 mins or until thoroughly cooked through.

From Kimberly: Turkey Pasta Bake
We cook using a diabetic diet in my home, so here is one of our favorite post thanksgiving ones! Here is the link.

From Judie: Crunchy cheesy Casserole
This is The Busch family's favorite leftover turkey casserole, (chicken can also be used) so with Thanksgiving and Christmas nearing you might give it a try. It is quick and easy.
A friend of ours would call it "kid bait". These are all approximate measurements.

Crunchy Cheesy Casserole
Cube 2 C. leftover turkey or chicken
Add 1 C. chopped celery (finely chopped and the kiddies won't know it's in there)
Stir in 1/4 C. mayo and 1 T lemon juice
Place in a baking dish.
Grate 1 1/2 C. cheddar cheese over the top
Place enough crushed potato chips on top to cover the cheese. We like Kettle Brand Fresh Ground Salt and Pepper Chips. Kids tend to love cheese or sour cream and onion chips. All are good and make it interestingly different.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes.

From Ang: Mexican Chicken Lasagna
I found it in one of those little recipe books you find at the checkstand at the grocery store. I wish I had a scanner to show you how marvelous this looks.
Mexican Chicken Lasagna
12 lasagna noodles
2 cans (10 3/4 oz each) cream of chicken soup
8 oz sour cream
1/4 cup milk
3 cups cooked cubed chicken
1 can (4 oz) green chilies
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 can (2 1/4 oz) sliced black olives
1 cup (8-10) green onions, chopped
3 cups Mexican cheese blend (cheddar and jack)
1 cup crushed nacho cheese tortilla chips

Heat oven to 350. Cook lasagna noodles and drain. While noodles are cooking, mix next 7 ingredients (soup to garlic powder) in large bowl. In a greased 9x13 pan, layer chicken mixture, olives, green onions and cheese like you would a lasagna, starting with a small amount of the chicken mixture at the bottom before adding noodles. Save largest layer of cheese for the top. Bake uncovered for 35-45 minutes or until bubbly and hot in center. Add crushed chips and cook another 5 minutes until chips get slightly brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Also from Ang: Nacho Pie

From Mandy: Turkey dinner!
For the past couple of years my in-laws have come up to Oregon from Salinas for Thanksgiving. Meaning I was the one cooking dinner for everyone, which was not too bad since it is only a total of 5 people. The first year I did the whole big Turkey and Ham and all the fixings for a big Thanksgiving dinner only to have no one really eat and a ton of left over. The next year (and every year since) I have done a modified version of Rachael Rays Thanksgiving in 60 minutes and it has worked great. Less prep work, less cook time, and less leftover's to deal with but not less taste. You even still have pan drippings in you want to make gravy. While this might not work for those who have really big gatherings for Thanksgiving since it says it serves 8, you could add more turkey breast. Also this is even good for those who like the taste of thanksgiving through out the year without as much work. She has done a couple of version of this but I modified it to include what I like so feel free to add in any of your family favs!
Cheater Stuffin’ Muffins
So I make this quicker and easier cheater stuffing using Stove top and this chopped celery and onion with herb mix that they usually sell at Safeway before Thanksgiving. It already has the veggies chopping and mixed with the herbs that would go into stuffing.
• Stove top Stuffing and Ingredients to make
• Stuffing veggie mix with herbs
I sauté the Stuffing veggie mix with the butter that goes with the stuffing (sometimes I add a little more depending on if it looks like enough) Cook 5-6 minutes to begin to soften the vegetables. Then add in the rest of the stuffing ingredients until well mixed and moistened. You may need to moisten the stuffing with chicken broth until all of the bread is soft but not wet. Butter 12 muffin cups (two muffin tins or mini muffin tins) liberally with butter or spray. Use an ice cream scoop to fill and mound up the stuffing in muffin tins. Bake until set and crisp on top, about 10-15 minutes. Remove Stuffin' Muffins to a platter and serve hot or at room temperature.

From Krista: Cheesy Sausage Penne
This casserole is so easy, and is liked by everyone. It freezes great, so I'll often make 2, 1 for now and 1 for later, or to pull out if I need to bring a meal to someone.

Cheesy sausage Penne
1 lb. bulk italian sausage
1 minced garlic clove
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 lb. package penne pasta
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
4 green onions, sliced
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, cook the sausage and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce; bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 min. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain and add to sauce mixture. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream and onions.

In a greased 3-qt. baking dish, layer half of the pasta and sausage mixture. Dollop with half of the cream cheese mixture; sprinkle with half of the cheddar cheese. Repeat layers. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

From Tiff: Taco Pasta Shells
ok of course I am so simple and not by any means a "cook" so here is our fave recipe right now.
a couple things i do differently are i make the meat actual taco meat with the seasoning then add the cream cheese and of course I use fat free or reduced fat whenever possible! Pofta Buna!

From Leah: Caramelized Onion Chicken Recipe
Here is a really YUMMY recipe that our family is now totally in love with. We've made it 4 times now- and feel it's a keeper. I use boneless skinless chicken thighs and a whole onion instead, then let the onions caramelize up a bit longer than they say. It looks like a lame recipe, but in the end it's easy, dirties only one pan, uses things I almost always have on hand (because of this recipe our raspberry jam no longer gets used for PB &J!) and you get really sweet onions to plop on top of your chix! Here is the link.

From Holly: BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad
This dinner salad is so easy, delicious and is great if you have leftover chicken to use!
4 Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 Head of Iceberg Lettuce
1 can of corn
1 can of black beans
1 c. diced tomatoes
1/2 c. diced red onion
1/2 c. shredded cheese (I usually use cheddar or monterey jack)
1 c. diced jicama (optional) I don't usually have this on hand :)
1/2c. diced peppers, whatever color you have on hand (optional)

Dressing: Equal Parts of Ranch and BBQ Sauce

Cook and slice chicken. Top lettuce with chicken and all other ingredients. Serve and Enjoy!

From Noel: Chili Pie
This one is super easy and I keep the ingredients on hand so I can make it last minute if I need to. And it's even better the next day!

Chili Pie

1lb ground beef
1 onion chopped
1/2 c. salsa
2 - 15 oz. can kidney beans, undrained
1 Tbl chili powder
1 - 8.5 oz box corn bread mix (including the milk and egg) I use the Jiffy box
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook meat and onion over medium heat in an oven safe skillet. Drain the fat. Add the chili powder and cook stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add the beans and salsa. Heat to boiling and boil one minute. Prepare the corn bread according to package directions. Stir in cheddar cheese. Remove the chili from the heat and spoon the corn bread batter over top. Place in the oven and cook for 15 - 20 min. until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving. (If you don't have an oven safe skillet you can always cook it on the stove and transfer the chili to a 9x13 pan, and then spoon the cornbread over top to bake it.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Jenna quote

In the car Jenna said, "Mom, I can't believe how small Zacheus was! On my new Bible CD it says, 'Zacheus had to take a FLYING LEAF to get up into his chair!" A flying leaf? Oh, a flying leap! Her version of the story makes Zacheus very very small!


Sometimes in the midst of parenting, I loose my focus. I forget my purpose. I get discouraged. I just survive. But in the low times, I fall to God for help and for wisdom and for patience. Praise God who gives these to us freely! The Lord encouraged me and guided me this morning through a wonderful woman named Joy. She spoke at Mom to Mom (a great ministry at Good Shepherd Community Church - if you are a young mom needing encouragement, you should consider checking it out!) this morning and my heart was encouraged, my burden was lightened, my focus was made clear once again. I am so thankful that God takes good care of my heart and my soul. I am back on track, running the race full speed ahead. I LOVE the high calling of following God as a wife and mom!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

quote, elsie's vocab, and pics

Just wanted to write down a few things so I don't forget them!

Elsie has a pretty cute way of talking right now. She doesn't say her "Js" or her "Th" or "Gs" and a few others too. So, here is a glimpse of how she speaks...

"I take-a my bammies off" (I took my pajamas off) (the rest of the sentence should be, 'and now I am standing here naked, but don't worry I put my diaper in the garbage')

"Watch....dis....mama" (this phrase is said with big pauses between each word)

"A boo-boo bunny doh?" (where did the boo-boo bunny go?) "Aah, in da house? it wite der" (is it in the house? It's right there?!)

"da pinedess" a princess
"appo-dase" applesauce
"pinedess you-e-you" (princess ariel)
"de-uh" (jenna)

"" (one, two, three, four, five)

Jenna Quote:
I needed the computer for a moment (Jenna was using it at the time) and so I said, "I'll be done in just a second and then you can play again." And she responded just like this, "Then you will go back to pbs kids dot org slash read?"

One of my favorite things is that Jenna can understand and translate for Elsie. It is so cute and sweet. If I can't figure out what Elsie is saying, I just ask Jenna and 95% of the time she can translate!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Snow White x 2

We had a fun evening getting treats and visiting Eric at work. Both the girls dressed up as Snow White...

Visiting Bob the Builder at work... the girls LOVED it that Eric and I both dressed up
Down town Gresham, Elsie covered in blue sucker
In our neighborhood
My parents came over to spend the evening with us, which was so helpful and fun! It was also really fun to see all the creative costumes come to the door. We gave away tons of candy, and filled our own candy jar to the rim!

Friday, October 30, 2009

His Love

Jenna and I have been doing some home-school pre-school this fall. It is a curriculum that I borrowed from a friend, along with some supplimental material that I find on the internet from sites like this and this. Anyways, yesterday we were learning about the letter D and the word "delight". Our verse was, "God will take great delight in you" from Zepheniah 3. Anyways, I had her go get her blankie, her very very special blankie (the curriculum asked the children to get a special doll, but Jenna cares more for her blankie) and two other blankies from the house. We talked about the differences in the blankets, how some are big and some are small etc etc. Then I asked her which was her favorite. She quickly lunged at her special blankie. I then asked why it was her favorite since it wasn't the most colorful or the biggest or the softest. She said, "Because it is MINE". Exactly. God takes great delight in us because we are His children. My oh my this totally hit home with Jenna. The look on her face was priceless - she truly had a deeper understanding of God's love, and so did I.

To think that God delights in me the way that Jenna delights in her blankie, or the way that I delight in my daughters... well, it's a life changing love.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Disney on Ice

Here is a little video from our time at Disney on Ice! As you can see, the girls loved it! And so did Eric :) It was really fun.

Elsie's birthday party

We had a little birthday party for Elsie while we were at the beach. She LOVED being sung to, she LOVED opening presents, and she LOVED eating cake. She is a party girl!

She clapped after we sang to her
And she really blew out the candles!
Jenna was pretty excited about the gifts too :)
This was a gift from her Aunt Jenne (and family). She loves her! She named the dolly "Julia" and she takes good care of her all the time. She always wants to know where Julia is. Her favorite thing to do is put her in a little traveling (play) suit case and wheel her around.
Opening more special gifts
It was a really fun party, and it was great to do it on vacation!

Beach Weekend

We spent this past weekend in Long Beach, WA with my side of the family playing at the beach and having a wonderful time. Here are some of my favorite moments and pictures...

I love this picture of my mom and I with the girls. My mom had two girls, and now I have two girls. She raised Jenne and I really well, helping us to be friend for life. I hope I can do the same for my girls.

Elsie loved the beach and the water and the sand. She loved it.
Jenna had a great time playing in the sand. She could have spent hours, had it not been so chilly!
After dinner one evening, we all got super bundled up and headed to the beach for a walk. It was SO windy, but so fun too!
Cute pic
I set the camera on my shoe and did a timer shot. I am not sure what that flying saucer in the sky is, and it looks like Weston is a glowing angel. But for a dark shoe shot, it's pretty decent!
Elsie was sleepy and cuddled with my dad the whole walk home. I think he enjoyed the cuddles!