Monday, September 27, 2010

Life's Ups and Downs

I have had so many things I 've wanted to post in the past 2 weeks but a.) have not had a moment to do so and b.) we fried our, 8 month old mac book with a bowl of soup!  Last week was an emotional, crazy week!  We had great friends leave for Colorado over the weekend.  They were some of Gabe's best guy friends.  It was such a bitter-sweet time.  We will miss them so much!

We had our second Moms meeting which was just what I needed.  A fun, game time to act crazy doing Minute to Win it games!  Although it added some stress & worry to my life...okay and a little frustration I realized one weak I am when I am in need.  I believe with ALL my heart that God will PROVIDE and He is FAITHFUL in EVERYTHING.  But often times I assume He knows my struggles which He does but He is waiting for me to vocalize them to Him.  So, I am working on my prayer life.

"God is deeply concerned when his children are burdened by anxiety, in much the way parents are concerned about their children.  It is tragic that we often worry ourselves to death when God's supernatural peace is only a prayer away."-Cymbala

We had to make a decision to not go back to NY at Thanksgiving which was EXTREMELY hard for us.  We had already told Gabe that we were going and let's be honest I can't wait to squeeze little Hailey and Ella!  I miss them dearly.  Gabe only gets 3 days off from school so we were going to pull him for the other 2 and by the time we paid for all that we needed to pay for it just didn't balance out.  I felt like we would of been unwise with the money God has given us...we could use it better if we just wait.  Which is just so hard to do sometimes!   I know God has a plan in all this.  Sometimes it just stinks!

One of Bill's close neighbors died last week.  He has been ill his whole life and so it was a bitter-sweet moment.  We really wanted to be able to be there with family & friends to share our condolences.

Olson, Robert J. ROTTERDAM Robert "Rob" J. Olson, 50, of Rotterdam, died Tuesday afternoon, September 21, 2010 after a long illness. Born in Niskayuna, Rob was the son of Harold and Barbara (Mooney) Olson of Rotterdam. A 1977 graduate of Linton High School, Rob was member of Cobble-stone Reformed Church, attended the Cloverpatch Camp in Glenville, was an avid Boston Red Sox Fan and season ticket holder of the Tri City Valley Cats. He loved drawing and traveling, Rob was known as the Mayor of Groveland (Schoowee) and an inspiration to all who knew him. (Alb. TU)

Friday Gabe woke up with the poops so he couldn't go to school.  That kind of put a kink in my schedule but it was alright with me!  We got to be in our jammies all day!  We had date night planned for Friday night and we were so excited for that but then we had a miscommunication with our sitters and so we had no one to babysit.  So, we called Bill's Mom and she watched the kids for us.  After a long and crazy week we were able to get out and escape to dinner & the community theater with some friends.

Then this weekend was truly a family weekend.  Movies, crafts, a messy house, pajama's, pizza, popcorn, laughter, love, memories...

and of course pumpkins!  They each had to get one at the grocery store.  These will hold them over until we go to the pumpkin patch!

Oh yeah & I forgot to mention we got a new computer...yay!  We got an imac and a new desk!  We came to the conclusion that we just might not be a laptop kind of family....not right now anyways, lol!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wishing For Fall

Okay so I have to be house is all decorated for fall.  I just wish it would get cooler already.  I am ready for sweatshirt wearing weather.  I have been itching to start cooking "fall menu" things like beef stew, soups, pot roast, butternut squash, apple crisp....but I need the weather to go with the meal, haha I already know I am crazy!  You just can't eat beef stew when it is hot out.

I have been really interested in freezing meals.  If I can cook once and eat one/freeze one for later that would be fantastic!  Do y'all freeze any good dishes?  Now that Gabe is in school I feel like some night's it's so crazy to get a meal on the table before we need to be out again.  When I was grocery shopping last week I picked up one of those tiny, over-priced little cookbooks by the register that was by taste of home, fall freezer meals.  I thumbed through it and debated wether or not there were enough good things in it but I got it.

Today I had my great friend, Shawna Hicks and her sweet kids over for lunch today and I decided to whip up one of those recipes from my cookbook.  I decided to make the Hearty Ministrone soup thinking it would kind of be fallish but not too fallish since it was still warm out after all.  :-)  It was SO yummy and it made such a big pot that we had enough to eat it for lunch, dinner, and have enough to freeze for another meal.  Woohoo!  It was SO good and pretty easy to make.  Also, it was quite cheap.  I had most of the ingredients in my pantry.

I also served a yummy "fall" salad.  It's kind of similar to the one Cracker Barrel makes, the Autumn Harvest I think it's called.  I might of just made that up I am not really sure but it sounds good.  I ate this same meal for lunch & dinner but it was SO good & healthy!

I thought I would share the recipe with you!  I hope you give it a try too!

Hearty Minestrone Soup
(by: Taste of Home)

         1 pound ground pork
         1/2 cup chopped celery
         1/2 cup chopped onion
         1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
         1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
         1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
         1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
         2 cups tomato juice
         1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
         1 can (14-1/2 ounces) beef broth
         3 medium carrots, chopped
         1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
         1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
         1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
         1/2 teaspoon sugar, optional
         1/8 teaspoon pepper
         1/2 cup water
         1 cup uncooked ziti or small tube pasta
         In a Dutch oven, cook the pork, celery and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain.
         Stir in the tomatoes, beans, tomato juice, tomato sauce, broth, carrots, zucchini, Italian seasoning, salt, sugar if desired and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes or until carrots are tender.
         Transfer 6 cups of soup to a freezer container; freeze for up to 3 months. Add water and pasta to remaining soup; bring to a boil. Cover and cook until pasta is tender.
         To use frozen soup: Thaw in the refrigerator; transfer to a large saucepan. Stir in water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Add pasta; cover and cook until tender. Yield: 2 batches (6 servings each)

I did not use any pasta in mine and it was delicious!  I wanted to keep it gluten-free in case we have company.  :-)  Not to mention the extra calories...every little bit helps, right?

Apple Autumn Salad

Baby Spinach
Dried Cranberries
Cinnamon Pecans
Blue Cheese Crumbles
Fresh Apple Chunks

1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 Grated Apple
Small dollop of dijon mustard
Dash of garlic powder
Dash of salt
Dash of dry mustard
Medium squeeze of honey
1/2 tablespoon sugar

whisk all ingredients together a drizzle a little over salad right before serving!


Friday, September 10, 2010

Grandparent's Day at Pease

Today we celebrated Grandparent's Day at Gabe's school today.  It was a lot of fun.  Nanny, Poppie, Lily & I all went up to Gabe's school to have lunch with him.  I picked up some Chick-Fil-A so we could have something special to eat.
Gabe & Nanny
Gabe & Lily
Gabe & Poppie

After we finished eating Gabe got to have his picture taken at school with each grandparent.  How fun!  Now, I am home Lily is napping & I am working on some apple butter!  Hope y'all have a great afternoon!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Apple Picking

We spent our labor day together with friends.  We decided to take off, leave Midland and head 2 hours to Lubbock.  Normally we just go to Lubbock to go shopping, eat some place different & head home.  This time we decided to go apple picking at Apple Country Orchards.  It sounded like a fun thing to do!  We used to go apple picking every fall in NY.  It is something we have always missed doing here in TX.  We tried this place out one time before but in October I think it was and it was dead.  There were no apples left it was barely even open.  So, we thought it was just a flop of a place.  I decided to give them a call and see if they still had apples left.  Come to find out there peak season in at the end of July the beginning of August.  Seriously?  Who wants to go pick apples in the blazing hot sun?  I want it to be cool, crisp air, sipping hot cocoa or hot apple cider just like it used to be in NY.

Well, we went and it wasn't quite like NY apple picking.  It was still 85, quite warm, slightly breezy and we had to fight stickers and dragonflies.  But we all had fun, laughing, pulling our kids in the wagon, tasting & picking apples.  Great times with great friends.

We finished up our day with the chinese buffet and headed home.  It was a great time spent together as family.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Kindergarten Update

Gabe had a fabulous second week at school.  It was such a relief.  Granted several mornings he didn't want to get out of bed or want to go but once he got there he did better.  His teacher even went above and beyond and sent a picture of Gabe's tall block tower he made with some friends at school.    

We finished up his week strong and successful!  He has impressed me with all the sight words he recognizes as we practice them at home.  We have filled up his book list and he got to pick a prize out of the prize bag.  So far so good.  We are loving having today, Labor Day off!  We are going to pick apples up in Lubbock today with some friends!  We are all really excited about doing that!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Slow Cooker Recipes

I am searching for some slow cooker recipes because with Gabe getting out of school at 5 some nights, a.s.k cbs one night, Bill's practice...we need dinner done quick.  The slow cooker is perfect for that!  I came across this website Slow and Simple and it has a bunch of GREAT slow cooker recipes on it.  They cover everything!  I think I am going to add this one on our menu for next week to try out!

Autumn Chicken

2 large or 4 small chicken breasts
2 parsnips - 2 carrots
1 acorn squash
1 14.5 oz. can of chicken broth

Peel and chop carrots and parsnips and place them in the bottom of the crockpot. Sprinkle with garlic (I used a teaspoon of pre-chopped garlic. I'm not sure how many cloves of fresh garlic that would be. ) Place chicken on top. Pour in broth. Cut squash into chunks and slice off the skin. Place on top of chicken. Sprinkle desired amounts of salt, pepper and nutmeg on top of squash and drizzle enough honey on top to lightly cover the squash. Cook on low 8-10 hours.

Do you have any good slow cooker recipes?  If so please share them!!!  

Just Ducky

We recently took the kids to the duck pond and it was a HUGE hit!  We used to take Gabe all the time when we were broke & couldn't afford to do anything else.  We realized we had never taken Lily...well since she was big enough to actually understand what we were doing.  So, after going last week we decided to have a picnic at the duck pond Sunday night before Elements.  Here is what we did...

Picked up some Mcalister's Deli (Gabe brought a bologna sandwich from home, yuck!) and put out our blanket and had a picnic.

Playing around after we finished eating...

Then we fed all of our stale hot dog buns to the ducks...and the fish!

This will definitely be one of our regular spots to visit.  We can get exercise...the first time we brought Gabe's bike and pulled Lily in the wagon...and we can feed the ducks which both kids seemed to really enjoy!