5.13.2010

Shutterfly San Francisco Album

Click here to view these pictures larger

3.23.2010

Wordless Wednesday: A tribute only family could appreciate


My husband has become somewhat of a novice home-brewer here recently... and with the passing of his father, his next batch has a new name... and a label to go with it.  Only those who knew him will appreciate the quirks of this label. ;)

Cheers!

Top Ten Tuesday: Things to be thankful for in times of grief

My blog has been silent for over a week - I had more important things to tend to.  My husband lost his father to cancer last Tuesday, I lost a wonderful father-in-law and our children lost the best grandfather they could ever ask for.  But through our stress and grief, we have found many things to be thankful for.  Better in-laws do not exist and the Seger extended family is top-notch.... they are simply the best.  Period.  How extremely lucky am I...


Thus, my top ten things to be thankful for in this time of grief.

1.  The coming of Spring.  Even with our loss, a new season and new beginnings are at hand.  To everything, there is a season.
2.  A large, strong, enveloping support system of family and friends who are always at our side.
3.  God's small miracles.  The 8th Seger grandchild was born exactly two weeks before my husband's father passed away.... and was named after him.
4.  God's great miracles.  Our family was told just before Christmas that my father-in-law's cancer had disappeared.  We enjoyed a joyful holiday season together and celebrated birthdays and new births with less stress and worry.
5.  Feeling the calm and peacefulness of prayer before and after our loved one's death.  To feel God's warmth around our hearts as we held hands and prayed together each day by passing day.
6.  The first thunderstorm of spring.  My father-in-law had hoped that it would storm or rain.... and miraculously enough it did.  We cracked a window, turned off the lights, and listened to the rolling thunder and pitter-pat of the raindrops together in silence.
7.  A new appreciation for those we take for granted.  I have the greatest husband in the world.  (sorry ladies.)  The past couple of weeks have only reinforced my belief in his outstanding character, faith and inner strength.  
8.  Reminders of how precious our family is to us. Time spent with each other is now more important than ever.  The past few weeks have given our family time to spend with one another, more time than has been possible for years.  Previous priorities now seem trivial.  "The most important thing to hold on to in life... is each other."  
9.  Reminders of how precious life is.  To live as though each day will be our last.  To hug our spouses and children a little more tightly at both the beginning and end of the day.  To say "I Love You" just because we can.  To know how great of an impact our lives have on others.
10.  Witnessing the miracle of death... the passing from one life to another...a homecoming to the glory of God.  Experiencing this miracle together has changed us...for the better.  And that in itself is something to be thankful for.

For more Top Ten Tuesday posts, visit ohamanda.com

3.10.2010

Wordless Wednesday: The Little Things

Ever since I began following Layla Grace and her family's heartbreaking story, I have begun noticing my two year old a little more each and every day.  Sure, he is right smack-dab in the middle of the "terribles" and he tends to exert most of his energy lately by throwing himself on the kitchen floor and screaming his little blond head off.  Or by hitting and kicking mommy, daddy, or sissy.  Or by whacking the dog with daddy's brewing utensils (don't ask)... well, you get the picture.  These are not the easiest years of his life... for him or for those around him.  But recently I've begun noticing the unique little quirks about this little guy that I somehow have lost sight of in the middle of all of that.  

This photo was taken a couple weeks ago at a family wedding.  Everything about it screams Jake.  His hands neatly folded behind his back.  The way he attentively studies the other children out on the dance floor, wondering - hmm.... that looks like fun, when would be the right time to join in?  It's like an open portal into his personality.

Truth is, even though he has his not-so-good moments, he is mine.  And he is healthy.  And I love with all of my heart.  And I refuse to ever again take a moment with him for granted.  

Please take a moment to pray for Layla Grace and her family.  You can also follow their harrowing journey on Facebook and Twitter.

3.08.2010

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Signs of Spring

There's something thrilling in the air in our neck of the woods... and it smells like S.P.R.I.N.G.!  Temperatures that are at or above 50 degrees are a triumph here my friends.  Thus - my top 10 favorite signs that spring is on its way!  I'm so giddy I can hardly type..... it's been a long, cold, snowy Ohio winter people... let me have my moment :)

1.  Cincinnati Reds spring training has begun!
2.  My husband begins whining that he really, really wants to go disc golfing.
3.  Our enclosed porch is warm enough from the sun shining in that I can relax in a patio chair while sipping some   coffee on Saturday mornings! = Heaven.
4.  CYFAR conference planning begins for my hubby and I!  What do to in San Francisco this year?.....
5.  The Children's Place begins sending me tempting e-mails with too-cute-for-their-own-good spring outfits for the kiddos... must...control....myself.
6.  Spring Hill Nursery catalogs begin arriving in my mailbox and can start dreaming about gardening.  I have some great gardening adventures for this spring dreamed up in my head already!
7.  My husband and I once again become motivated to keep checking things off of our home-renovation to-do list.  Next up - painting and decorating our dim dark dungeon-like hallway.
8.  The wonderfully fresh smell that lingers in the air after the first warm-weather rain of the season.
9.  That glorious few days in March when the temperature warms up just enough for me to throw up all of the windows and relish the fresh, spring air that coaxes it's way into the house.
10. The kiddos are able to once again frolick in the yard each evening when we arrive home = bye bye cabin fever.... need I say more?





For more Top Ten Tuesday posts, visit ohamanda.com

3.07.2010

Menu Plan Monday: Week of March 8th


This week's menu plan features just a couple of the recipes from my February Once A Month Cooking menu for two reasons: 1) we've almost come to the point of trying each recipe once (too soon to begin eating the same recipe the second time) and 2) I have been craving Chili Dogs and Cheesy Potato Soup for a while now!  Maybe it's a spring thing?  Spring is definitely in the air in our neck of the woods... and I'm lovin' it!

This Week's Menu Plan:
Monday - OAMC Easy Taco Bake
Tuesday - Chili Dogs & French Fries
Wednesday - OAMC Curried Chicken Tidbits & Veggies (didn't get to these last week)
Thursday - Math & Science Night at Marissa's school = Pizza for the family!
Friday - Fish fry at St. John's
Saturday:
Lunch - Grilled Cheese Sandwiches & tomato soup
Dinner - OAMM's Chicken Parmigiana
Sunday:
Lunch - Tacquitos & tortilla chips/salsa
Dinner - Cheesy Potato Soup

For more menu plans, visit orgjunkie.com.

3.01.2010

February OAMC Day Recap

Man, did it feel great to be back in the Once A Month Cooking saddle again!  After a few months of waiting for my sister to get an extra freezer, she and I planned another large cooking day to cook breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the majority of February/March.  Compared to our first two tries at bulk cooking, this third go-round went incredibly smoothly.  Below is a short list of things we did differently or changed up a bit:

 - We made sure to chop most of the vegetables/potatoes the night before our big cooking day.  This really helped to cut down time spent in the kitchen.  Trust me, if you save all of the chopping for your cooking day, you will have to allow at least two hours for that.
 -  We called in reinforcements.  Our mom and grandma volunteered to come by for a bit to help lighten our dirty dish load and actually ended up getting into the 'cooking spirit' so much they assembled a few meals for us before they left.  We estimated that the 2 hours they were there saved us the same amount of cooking time.
 -  We changed the menu a bit to suit our needs and our families' needs.  My sister really, really.... REALLY liked the Blueberry/Banana smoothies from a previous OAMM menu, so we added those in, as well as Mom's Enchiladas.  In return, we omited  the recipes for Crystal's Lazy Granola and Mexican Style Beef & Lentil Stew. 
 -  We made sure that we took opportunities throughout the day to feed ourselves and sit down and rest.  I cannot tell you how important this is to avoid getting burnt out and too drained. :)  I even took 5 minutes at the beginning of the day to make myself a delicious caramel macciato - it really jump started me and put me in the right frame of mind.
 -  I borrowed my husband's apron to avoid coming home not only smelling like everything that I cooked in the kitchen that day... but also looking like it.  Yes, I am well aware that I might need to fix this no-apron issue. 

To our delight, our third time participating in a OAMC day ended before dinner time.  Yup, we were finished by 6:00pm!  It is so true that the more experience you gain with once a month cooking, the more efficiently and smoothly your big cooking day gets.  It was such a relief to be able to load all of my goodies into the car and prop my aching sore feet up on the couch before the kids were in bed!  My sister and I spent $128 per person and now have a ton of breakfasts, lunches and dinners to show for it - such a great feeling knowing that will save time and money in March food-wise.... and that is what always attracts me to once a month cooking.

Below are a few more pictures from this month's big cooking day.

If you would like to view more February Once A Month cooking stories, visit OnceAMonthMom.com.





Most of the ingredients - Hollie (sis) always does a great job of laying them out on the table the night before so they're ready to go.








Items I brought to get us through the big day - caramel macciatos, gummi worms and chocolate





Hollie peeled most of the pears with a potato peeler; it actually worked really well!
Black Bean Salsa Chicken assembled, labeled and ready for the freezer.  (My family had this recipe for Sunday's lunch by the way... and it was amazing!)

Ahhhh...... a freezer full of meals. :)

2.28.2010

Menu Plan Monday: Week of March 1st

It was wonderful last week being able to pull prepared meals out of the freezer and pop them in the oven on weeknights!  It saves me so much time.  I'm able to spend more time with the kids and not have to feel like I have to head right to the kitchen the minute I get home from work!  This week's menu plan also features quite a bit of OAMM meals from the February menu.  I can't wait to try them all out!


This Weeks Menu Plan:
Monday -  Leftovers - we have too many in the fridge and need to eat them up!
Tuesday - OAMC Sue Sue's Casserole
Wednesday - Miami County 4-H Recruitment Night for mommy, hubby and kiddos on their own.
Thursday -Spaghetti with garlic bread and salad
Friday - Fish Fry for local Rugby team fundraiser.... mmmm........ :)
Saturday -
Lunch: OAMC Curried Chicken Tidbits & veggies (although mommy probably won't be eating lunch.... she has an afternoon time slot for the Dayton Dragon's national anthem tryouts and might be a little nauseous nervous because of it....)
Dinner:  OAMC Pork Roast w/Apples & Pears and baked potatoes
Sunday -
Lunch: OAMC Sloppy Joes with french fries or chips
Dinner: Mommy has Wicked tickets with the girls! = hubby and Jakey on their own.

For more menu plans, visit orgjunkie.com

2.24.2010

Things I Love Thursday: Life Lessons

My daughter received her first life lesson this week.... in kindergarten.  I honestly did not think I would have to worry about Marissa getting in trouble in school until, well, maybe never.  She's always been such a brown-noser people pleaser and teacher's pet. While Marissa can be a challenging kid, she's a good kid.  Well, this week we both received a reality check.  Her teacher e-mailed me and mentioned that another girl in the class returned after school had dismissed with of all things, Marissa's lunch money.  And get this... Marissa had given it to her, as well as two other girls.... all $20 of the money that was to go into her lunch account.  Ugh.  What's worse, when I questioned her about the incident, she denied it.  She's not a good liar.  Double ugh.  It was at that moment when she started stammering about God-knows-what-story she was making up at the time and looking back at me with pleading eyes that I thought to myself... "What do I do now?"
I knew that she was lying, it was obvious.  She knew better than to give away $20 of money that was not hers to give.  I had never had to deal with such a large situation like this one with her and I was kind of at a loss as to what to do.  I started to panic... What would my mother do?  Would I handle it the same way?  What would a good mom do?   Then I gave up and channeled my momma-instinct and went with my gut.  I told her that I was sorry, but didn't believe her story and that I knew she was lying. I told her that it was wrong to give things away without asking permission. Then I told her that she could spend the night in her room with the light off until she was ready to tell the truth.  Then..... all hell broke loose.
According to her, I was a horrible mom for not believing her and she wasn't afraid to scream this at the top of her lungs.. for quite a while.  Then came more made up stories, and more time in her dark room.  After three (or maybe four??) hours had passed she finally came around.  Yes, I am well aware she gets her stubbornness from me...  She cried big crocodile tears when she told me she was sorry and that she did indeed give the money away.  She was sorry that she had lied and she knew that it was wrong to give her lunch money to friends.  In a way I was very proud of her.  She had learned her first major life lesson and understood the mistakes she had made.  I had learned a lesson too.... I think once we "grow up" (heh) we forget about all of the mistakes we had to make along the way to get to where we are, to be the people we have become, to learn from those mistakes and to not repeat them.
So after the confession, it was time to come up with a punishment.  This has equaled out to be a packed lunch for two weeks - she is not allowed to purchase lunch because she gave the money away... (she was allowed to purchase lunch at school twice a week before the incident), no TV or computer use for one week and an apology to her teacher and friends at school today.  Of course, I am second guessing myself with how I handled the entire situation, like I always do.

What do you think?  How have you handled similar situations with your children?  Anything you would have done differently?  I am all ears...




For more Things I Love Thursday posts, visit thediaperdiaries.net

2.23.2010

Visitation Schedule Cards


Last week, I was fortunate enough to come across the livinglocurto blogsite.  I am always fascinated by graphic designers... the endless talent and creativity that they possess and that I want mostly.  Amy didn't disappoint.  While browsing her blog, I came across her wonderful morning routine cards.  These cute little cards are sure to be a time saver for me as I get myself and two whiny sleepy children ready and out the door by myself each morning!  I can't wait to try them out this week!

Amy inspired me to create some handy cards for myself.  Marissa (daughter) has been asking for a copy of her visitation schedule that she could read (she's only in kindergarten... and I don't ask much of her obviously.. hehe) for some time now.  So, what easier way would there be than to create cards modeled after Amy's templates that were color coded, picture coded and easily readable?  I'm really happy with the way they have turned out and most importantly of all, so was Marissa.  She loved the purple and pink theme - as well as the picture on the "mommy" cards.

Because I know that resources such as this one for blended families are hard to come by, I'm making them available for anyone and everyone who wishes to have a copy of their own for their children.  Just open the link, print, cut out the cards and put them in the order needed for your child's schedule.  This post will contain a link for the purple and pink cards, while more boy-friendly color-coded cards will be posted soon!

My hope is that these cards will help make you and your child's life seem a little less hectic.  :)  Click on the link below to view and print - it's FREE.

Visitation Schedule Cards (for girls)

2.21.2010

Menu Plan Monday: Week of February 22nd


Surprisingly enough, I was able to stick to my menu plan last week - it worked out wonderfully!  Now that I have another month's worth of meals stocked in my freezer, I'm going to take advantage of some of the yummy new recipes, as you can see below. :)  I love trying new food (can't say the same for the kiddos, but they at least will try anything.)  The February OAMC recap will come later this week; it was interesting this month because my sister and I altered the OAMM menu a bit, but it was worth it and we finished in record time!


This Week's Menu Plan
Monday - OAMC Mom's Enchiladas
Tuesday -  OAMC Tuna Noodle Casserole
WednesdayOAMM's Hamburger Soup
Thursday - OAMC Chicken Ranch Pizzas
Friday - Lemon Pepper Tilapia packets w/broccoli
Saturday - lunch: OAMC Beef Empanadas w/corn
                  dinner: Hubby's award banquet for work = steak dinner without the kiddos :)
Sunday - lunch: OAMC Black Bean Salsa Chicken w/Tortilla Chips
               dinner: Beer Battered Chicken w/rice and veggies

For more menu plans, visit orgjunkie.com

Savory Seger Sunday: Cheesy Potato Soup



A wintertime favorite of mine... I really do not think I make this soup enough!  Partially because my children are turns up their noses at the site of anything with too many "things" in it... and partially because well, honestly sometimes I just do not feel like chopping up potatoes!  Seriously.... I have issues with peeling and cutting up potatoes... don't ask me why.  Anyway - this soup is so good that I crave it.  And when I do, I call on my hubby to chop me some potatoes. ;)


Cheesy Potato Soup
Ingredients


6 cups chopped potatoes or frozen potatoes
1 cup celery slices
1/2 cup chopped onion
Dash of pepper
4 Tbsp flour
6 cups water
1 cup carrot slices
2 tsp parsley flakes
1 tsp salt
3 cups milk
1 lb Velveeta cheese, cubed




Directions

Boil water in a large stock pot over medium-high heat.  Cook potatoes, celery, carrots and flour until tender.  Then add rest of ingredients.  Cook until cheese has melted.

Makes 6 servings.  Leftovers reheat wonderfully. *kid-friendly (for most!)

2.17.2010

Things I Love Thursday: my annual winter virtual vacation

In February or March every year, I found myself having to tackle the "task" of doing some family travel planning for the summer.  More often than not, this should have been started earlier, but mommy is somewhat of a procrastinator likes to take her time and do some research before committing to such things.  For the past few years, the number one item on the list has been the CYFAR conference that I attend for my Extension work. This takes place in May and God willing, my husband travels with me and we make a little hallelujah no kids for a week getaway out of it.  We love our children, but we also savor our time alone together as it is almost nonexistent.  At any rate, planning for the conference always involves booking flights, a hotel, and scouting out fun things to do while we're there.  This is where my love for Google Earth and Google Maps come in.  I could lost in my computer for hours "walking" down the streets of downtown San Antonio, or across the Golden Gate bridge.  The technology transports you to that foreign but gorgeous location that you just can't wait to get to!  I know that I seem like a nerd (because, well... I am!) and that these gadgets have been around for a while and aren't anything new.  But I can't help but to still allow them to transport me on a virtual vaca when I need it the most.... like now.... when there's 2 ft of snow taunting me outside my window.

Well, the summer trip planning has begun and it's starting with San Francisco.  This is the location for CYFAR 2010 and I couldn't be more excited!  I have never been to California (my husband has and no, I am not bitter).  After the conference will come a family trip that our entire family is going to try to survive taking with my parents, sister and her family to Marblehead along the Lake Erie shoreline in June.  I have been a browsing, searching, and virtually walking fool over the past few weeks trying to scout out places to stay and things to do on the Lake.  Our family's wallet is pretty thin this year, so I'm trying to be creative in planning the trip (hence the multi-family vacation to the beach by the lake versus by the ocean).  Our daughter is old enough to understand that we're going on a trip, but she could care less where the location is as long as there is a beach involved somehow, somewhere.  So, when I first sat down to virtually check out the Marblehead area, I invited her to "walk" around with me.  She was amazed... and so I think I'm going to include her in this little tradition of mine from now on.  Why not?  She obviously just as much of a nerd as her mommy is. ;)

Ways to Have Your Own Virtual Family Vacation:
 -  Pull up Google Earth and let your kids pick a location (it can be anywhere in the world).
 -  Notice landmarks in the area and "walk" around the areas they are located.  This is a cool way to virtually visit Washington D.C.
 -  Do a Google search for resorts that offer live-action video shots of their surroundings.  These can sometimes include anything from a view of the beach or ocean to a view of a mountain range.
 -  Visit the Travel Channel's homepage for an interactive world map tour.  The Caribbean looks especially tempting today... but my favorite spot on this map is Europe/Greece.
 -  Don't forget to use this fun family activity as an opportunity to teach your children about other cultures. The National Geographic Kids website has some great games and pages for viewing on your computer and printing out.

Happy virtual travels everyone!          




For more Things I Love Thursday posts, visit thediaperdiaries.net

2.16.2010

Works for Me Wednesday: Paper Plates


..... and..... cue the ducking motion by me!  I know I'm going to get some slack for writing this post.  However, I do not care.  Why?  Because I am a working wife and mother that works on average 50 -60 hrs per week and I do not own a dishwasher.  My kitchen doesn't have the space for a dishwasher even if I could afford one, depressingly enough.  Yes, I understand that when my family consumes food off of 30 paper plates per week it seems... well, a tad wasteful... but I also understand that I cannot commit to washing umpteen dishes every single night.  I simply to not have the time, and anyone who knows my schedule also knows this.  So, I'll apologize to the insane passionate environmentalists and the garbage man (who has to haul all of our bulging bags away!) before I say "I Love My Paper Plates!"  There, I said it, but I'll also throw in that I do not subject my children and husband to a life filled with paper plate blandness 24/7 either.  There are many weekend-nights during which I serve dinner on actual dinner plates... and then I feel redeemed... until it comes time to wash all of those dirty dishes.

For more Works For Me Wednesday posts, visit wearethatfamily.com

Recipe List Page Up & Running!

I have been able to put together a list of recipes that have been featured on the blog so far.  They are categorized  under "Appetizers, Side, and Dinners" so far on the Recipes page.  Find them by clicking the "Recipes" page along the top toolbar, or by clicking here.

I plan to continue organizing future recipes on this page.  If there is a recipe that you do not see and are trying to find - please let me know!

Happy cooking. :)

2.14.2010

Menu Plan Monday

Well, I have a confession to make.  "Life" happened over the weekend and sis and I did not finish our OAMC day.... in fact, we didn't even start. *gasp*! (Don't tell Once A Month Mom ;)  Honestly - it just wasn't meant to be.  My cooking partner wasn't feeling up to the task this weekend and I was a bit relieved when she brought up putting the big cooking day off until next weekend... we already had a jam-packed schedule without cooking.  Not having to cook on  Sunday also meant not having to spend a couple hours prepping on Saturday evening.  So Alan (hubby) and I were able to sneak in a nice, quiet (cheap) steak dinner after the kids were asleep.  It really was a breath of fresh air being able to eat a meal by ourselves at our own dining room table; I honestly cannot remember the last time that had happened.  It truly was the best Valentine's dinner I could have asked for this year. :) Anywhoo..... my menu plan for this week needed a bit of tweaking, since I had hoped for a freezer-full of meals to choose from that are now nonexistent... oh well.  I have found that life goes on even when plans change... and menu planning must go on as well!

Oh, and just for kicks, I thought I would include a wedding pic in honor of V-Day.  Because sharing a quiet, candlelit dinner in the comfort of my own home with my husband only reinforces how much I truly love him.  I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's weekend!

Monday - Stuffed Baked Potatoes
Tuesday - Baked Ziti
Wednesday - Mommy's teaching a night class, hubby & kiddos on their own = Leftovers
Thursday - Lemon Pepper Chicken and veggies
Friday - Dinner w/friends
Saturday - Family wedding = free meal (nope, I'm not afraid to say it :)
Sunday - OAMM Big Cooking Day (rescheduled) = scarfing food down when I have 5 seconds to spare! Hubby & Jakey might be on their own.

Savory Seger Sunday: Homemade Maid-Rite Sandwiches


There is a little city in Darke County, Ohio that is home to a restaurant that makes some of the greatest sandwiches!  It's the original Maid-Rite sandwich shop, and boy, these sandwiches are some of the best around.  Ask anyone from western Ohio.... they know!  Because Greenville (home of  the famous Maid-Rites) is a little bit of a drive from my town, I have tried to replicate the recipe at the request of my hubby.  Now, I'm not sure how exact this is to the original recipe - but they sure do taste the same. They win the approval of the whole family... which rarely  happens and they are oh-so-simple to make!


Homemade Maid-Rite Sandwiches
Ingredients:


1 lb. ground beef
1/3 cup mustard
1/3 cup beer
1/2 cup diced onions
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Salt & pepper

Directions:
Brown ground beef in skillet over medium heat with onions.  When done, spoon into a colander and drain well.  Place beef  & onion mixture back in skillet and stir in mustard, beer,  and spices to taste.  Cook for 5 minutes, or until beer has soaked into mixture well.

Spoon onto hamburger buns or bread and serve as a sandwich.  I like to add extra mustard to mine, too. :)

Makes 4 servings. Leftovers reheat wonderfully.
*kid friendly!

2.12.2010

Changes to My OAMC Routine...Plus Loads of OAMM Giveaways!

My sister and I have been waiting months to get back into the Once A Month Cooking saddle... and the wait is finally almost over!  We're going to be cooking the February Once A Month Mom menu this Sunday (yeah, I know, I just now realized it will be Valentine's Day...boo me...), and we've decided to make a few changes in our usual OAMC day routine.  In the past, I have taken a day off of work in order to match my sister's schedule (she works 3rd shift in a sleep lab) and we have cooked on a Monday.  Not a great way to begin the week due to sore muscles, feet, and exhaustion, but it did help that the freezer was stocked at the beginning of the week and we had the weekend to prepare ahead of time (i.e. purchasing groceries, menu planning, etc).

This month, we're doing it a bit differently because, well, quite frankly, we're just getting too busy during the week!  We've decided to use one of our coveted weekend-days (Sunday) to cook.  I am going to take my daughter to my sister's house with me in the hopes that she and my niece will occupy themselves watching TV all day playing with their Liv dolls all day while the grown-up girls cook.  Sounds like it should work in theory... but we shall see. ;)  This is also a change from my sis and I being used to cooking in a quiet house all by ourselves... free to talk about whatever we choose and drink as many cups of coffee that we please!  This is going to take some getting used to....

We always buy our groceries together in one fell swoop the day before we cook.  So this weekend, we will be grocery shopping on Saturday afternoon... ugh.  Not my favorite time of the week to go to the grocery store.  Long lines will abound... but we can handle it!  Oh-yes-we-can!

I cannot wait for Sunday to get here - by the end of the day I will have a freezer full of ready-to-heat up meals and I will gain at least an hour back each night during the work week and a few extra dollars in my wallet!

In case you haven't heard, Once A Month Mom is hosting some GREAT giveaways and contests this month!  It's like Christmas all over again!  Check them out below and click on the links to see details:


Sassy Black Flirty Apron







oamm-menu-contest-3-700




OAMM & DOLE Menu Contest (I'm participating!)



Once A Month Mom Cook Off

OAMM Cook-off (I'm participating!)






2.10.2010

Things I Love Thursday: Good wine, good steak, & good times with friends

For those who know me personally, they know that I enjoy a nice glass of wine every now and then... preferably a fruity red or blush... please.  :)  So it goes without saying that I also love enjoying my wine with a nice slab of steak and conversation with good friends.  The best place to have all of this fabulous stuff in one spot?  Valley Vineyards in Morrow, Ohio has to be hands down one of the loves of my life.  I. Am. Not. Kidding.  I fell head over heels for the family-owned vineyard and winery the very first time I visited over seven years ago.  VV is not just a winery, but the family also hosts Friday and Saturday night cookouts, complete with cooking your own steaks on one of two open fire pits!  This, people, is what won me over.  Not to mention the oh-so-delicious side dishes, salad with homemade dressings, and dessert buffet.... If you're ever at VV look for me... I will be the crazy lady trying to sneak five different desserts off of the buffet table without anyone judging seeing me....  The setting of the restaurant portion of the winery gives off a  very romantic aura, so is perfect for a Valentine's getaway dinner for two.  However, my husband and I have found that we enjoy our trip their best when we are in the company of friends.  Nothing says good conversation like wine and steak... okay, so maybe the wine has more to do with it. ;)

Almost every year since my husband and I began dating, we have traveled to Valley Vineyards sometime in February to jointly celebrate Valentine's Day and my birthday.  Of course, this isn't always the best idea, as we tend to have to fight lovely Ohio February weather in order to make it there.  But in the end it is always worth the hassle.  This year, my husband and I are foregoing our annual VV trip.  Partially for financial reasons and partially for scheduling reasons... and it does sort of tug at my heart a little bit.  I remain hopeful that we will make back down to this wonderful hidden gem-of-a-place sometime during the summer.... and in the meantime, perhaps hubby and I can pick up a bottle of VV wine at the store and have a little steak & wine dinner in the comfort of our home this February.  I could always use a little at-home intimacy just as much as Valley Vineyards togetherness.

For more Things I Love Thursday Posts, visit thediaperdiaries.net

Wordless Wednesday


This is the time of year when my husband begins yearning for warmer weather and.... disc golfing.  He is an avid disc golfer - like so many others he began in college and has never looked back since! During the short period of time that we lived in the city between my workplace and his, we made frequent trips to Buck Creek State Park with the kiddos.  It was an expansive and welcoming green space that was a major saving grace for a 4-person family cramped in a little apartment.

One can only imagine my husband's joy when he discovered that the park was installing a disc golf course on the outskirts of the premises!  He anxiously waited until the first opportunity of the year (we had to bundle the kids up in order to go, but hey, it was for a good cause).  And during that first trip out discing at Buck Creek, daddy couldn't resist setting up this photo op.  Our youngest, Jake, was about 7 months old when this photo was taken... daddy couldn't have been more proud.

2.07.2010

Savory Seger Sunday: Al's Easy Beef-Veggie Soup




I have to tell you... my husband is a great cook. Not in the sense that he makes delicacies or anything, but in the sense that even if we only have three items left in the pantry, he can whip up something delicious out of them! He's very resourceful. I thought I would share the following soup recipe with you that I request for him to make QUITE OFTEN in the winter months - it's great on a cold, snowy day and is oh-so-simple to make!


Al's Crock Pot Beef-Veggie Soup

Ingredients
1 -2 lbs beef or 1 large can shredded beef (amount depends upon how much meat you like in your soup)
1 family-sized bag (or 2 small bags) frozen mixed vegetables
1 large jug or large can of V8 juice

The following to taste:
- pepper
- salt
- parsley
- onion powder
- garlic powder

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a medium-large sized crock pot and set on low for 6-8 hours. Stir occasionally and shred or separate beef (if desired) before serving. Makes enough for 8+ servings and leftovers are fantastic!


2.04.2010

Things I Love Thursday: February


Wow, it has been a while since I've blogged! I guess the first of the year is always insanely busy for our family... this year was no exception. I thought I would get back in the blogging saddle by writing up a Things I Love Thursday post, and this one will be on..... the month of February. Why in the world would anyone love the month of February, you ask? I'm am not unaware of the vast majority of midwestern Americans who absolutely despise this month - we are all sick and tired of winter by this point and it seems never ending. But there are so many reasons to celebrate February in my book. Valentine's Day (while a funny holiday, I admit) is always a nice transition between the cold of winter and the warm promises of spring. My birthday is also in February, which usually means it will be cold and snowing (or sleeting) on the day of... but that's okay, because it is still a reason to celebrate something with my husband and with our family. And that is a great gift in the middle of a cold, wet, and bleak winter.




For more Things I Live Thursday posts, visit www.thediaperdiaries.net

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