Monday, October 29, 2012

mmmmm, mondays: crockpot creamy turkey and rice stoup

i am always looking for good crockpot recipes. i couldn't find any that i liked for turkey and rice soup so this is what was created. it ended up chunkier than i first i stole rachel ray's "stoup" category and am posting it here. the kiddos loved it and it was perfect for a cold, stormy day. enjoy!

crockpot turkey and rice stoup.

3 cups chopped onions (one 12 oz. bag frozen chopped onions)

4 cups chicken stock (one box)

4 cups chicken broth (one box)

2 cups chopped carrots

2 cups chopped celery

1/2 cup white wine

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 cups dried wild rice mix

4 cups turkey (chopped into bite sized pieces)

2 cups milk

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup flour

add onions, chicken stock, chicken broth, carrots, celery, wine, bay leaves, garlic, and wild rice to crockpot.  cook on low for four hours. add turkey. melt butter in a pan. add flour and mix until smooth. whisk in milk and cook until creamy. add creamy mixture to crockpot. turn crockpot to high and cook for another four hours. season with salt and pepper. serve with fresh baked bread (recipe coming next week). enjoy!

Friday, October 26, 2012

friday fun finds: decisions, decisions....creating the best halloween costume.

It’s almost halloween and if you haven’t already found your costume, the stores are starting to appear picked over. whether you have decided to coordinate your entire family in matching themed outfits or are going for the slutty fairy tale look (please. i beg of you. i don’t care if you have a never-had-a-baby-body or not, don’t do it. fairy tale characters were not meant to be slutty. )

i have searched high and low (aka pinterest) for the most creative/cutest costumes that i could find. i personally love it when people think outside the box and get creative with their costume choices ….even though i'm not going that route this year. (my kids will be stuck with hand-me–down costumes. don’t judge. it’s only for one night, people. i am super impressed with those mommies that can do it all….i am just not one of them at the moment). 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

no more mean girls

i'm always shocked at how mean kids can be. for my daughter, it started in her three year old preschool class. you read that right, it started when she was three. kids started to say that they didn't like each other anymore. one girl refused to play with her. an older girl down the street called her a baby because she still loved to play with disney princesses.

for my oldest son, mean kids have come in all shapes and sizes. some have picked on him because he is younger than they are. some pick on him if they think they are better at sports than he is. i see it more often than i want to and it always spurs in me my "mama bear" protective mode. if i was being honest, i would just tell you that i want to tear those mean kids to pieces.

then i remember that once upon a time at different stages of my life, i have been less than kind. i don't remember being one of those people who go out of their way to exclude people, to bully, to leave people out. i have too much of a people pleasing nature (and excellent parents who taught me better) to do that. i do, however, remember laughing at people behind their backs. i remember my girlfriends and i in college using phrases like "there's your boyfriend" to draw our attention to a guy whose appearance didn't meet our oh-so-lofty standards. i may not have been a bully, but i was certainly a bit of a snob and i can look back at my younger self and feel ashamed of how much i judged people i didn't know.

the sad thing is, i still know adults who act this same way. mean girls still exist, well into adulthood. i've heard unkind words about how people dress, how they parent, how much they weigh, what their make-up looks like (how shallow can we be?). i've heard mother's criticized if they have kids who are misbehaving. i've heard people's unkind words based on nothing other than outward appearances. mean girls are alive and well. i'm starting to wonder when it will end.

when my own kids come home crying, i am reminded yet again the power of our words. i don't fight back. i don't post horrible things about the offending child on facebook. i don't encourage my kids to fight back. i certainly don't encourage my kids to use unkind words in retribution. i look my kids straight in the face. i tell them how wonderful they are. i pour compliments over them. i tell them ways they excel. i tell them how their unique gifts and talents were designed just for them and that they were created the way they were for a purpose. i tell them that it doesn't matter what someone else might say. i tell them that, whether they believe it or not, no one is exempt from mean girls. most importantly, i ask them to describe how they feel to me. when they share what is inside them, the hurt, the disappointment, the insecurities, i tell them to remember what that feels like so that if they are ever in a place when they have a chance to be unkind, they will chose the high road. if they can recall how bad it feels, i have found that they are less likely to inflict that pain on someone else and more likely to come to the aid of someone being picked on.

kids can be mean. i'm pretty sure i can't stop it from happening. i may just be one of those crazy people who hope that it happens to my kids at least once. i want them to learn compassion, empathy, and forgiveness. i want them to learn from any pain they are caused. i want them to learn that their worth is not dependent on the words of others. most importantly, i want to lead by example. i want them to find me being kind, appreciating people for what they are like inside, and recognizing that someone who makes me laugh is way more important than someone who wears designer clothing. i'm putting an end to whatever version of a mean girl once existed in me...and teaching my kids they can do the same.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

filling up the bucket

a few days ago, my one and only girl was home sick from her first grade class. as i was trying to rush her and her brother to get dressed so we could head to the doctor, she kept asking for me to "hold on" for just a minute more. i could see she was coloring something and was busy getting the two little boys ready to head out the door so i gave her a couple of extra moments. as i was about to get after her again, she ran over, put a paper on the counter and then ran up to her room to get her clothes on. 

i was so busy getting everyone in the car that i didn't take the time to look at what she had drawn. after snapping everyone in, i ran back inside to grab some food for the baby and stopped on my way back outside. the paper i found was addressed to me. as i opened it, this is what i found inside.

my heart melted. i walked back outside, got her attention in the car and told her how much i loved her note. i told her how much i loved her and that the words she had written made my day. she looked at me and her face lit up. she then said something that i had to process for a minute. with a big smile on her face she said, "i'm filling up your bucket."

now, i'm the first to admit genius when i see or hear it and this was child rearing genius. apparently the school psychologist had been into her classroom. using the bucket analogy, she talked about how kind words fill up a person's heart bucket. in the same way, unkind words dump people's bucket out. the word picture resonated with my six year old and so she has been working to "fill up my bucket."

i've heard other people use the same concept saying that kind words and actions and quick obedience gives mommies energy while the opposite makes mommy energy run out. i've seen this work but i personally love the bucket. it is ageless, goes beyond childhood, fits every walk of life and every human interaction. from this moment on, every person my kids encounter will be seen as someone with a bucket that can be filled. my goal is to try to teach them ways to fill those buckets no matter who the person may be.

so, thank you, school psychologist, for your simple brilliance. i will take your idea, steal it and make it my own. and today, i will read this card again and walk around with a very full bucket.

Monday, October 8, 2012

mmmmm, mondays: white chocolate, raspberry muffins

at this point, you can pretty much host a fantastic brunch with all of the breakfast recipes we've had lately. here is one of my newest favorites. i'm a sucker for raspberries and i will take white chocolate over dark chocolate any day of the week. these muffins don't fall into the "healthy" category...but they are pretty delicious. make them for a special occasion and enjoy a few yourself. you can get on the treadmill tomorrow.

white chocolate, raspberry muffins

3/4 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs

3 cups milk

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 tablespoons baking powder

6 cups flour

2 bags of white chocolate chips

3 cups fresh raspberries (washed and patted dry)

preheat the oven to 400 degrees. spray three-12 count muffin pans with non-stick spray (i use canola oil spray and my pans from surlatable.)

using and electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until it is smooth. add the eggs, milk and vanilla and blend on a low speed. add the baking powder and chocolate and mix on low speed until incorporated. add white chocolate chips and blend on low to combine. pour in raspberries and fold in using a spoon or spatula. fill each muffin tin 3/4 full. dust lightly with sugar. bake 20 minutes or until an inserted knife is clean. enjoy! makes 3 dozen muffins (cut recipe unless you are feeding the masses!)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

diy: spooky, creepy halloween bug wreath

this creepy, crawly bug wreath (inspired by one i saw that martha did) is my favorite decoration this halloween. it is simple to make, but a little time consuming (sort of like the balloon wreath). it completely freaks my kids out and i love that it is spooky and just the right amount of scary.


•18" grapevine wreath
•lots and lots of plastic snakes, spiders and bugs
•glue gun
•floral wire (optional)
•can of glossy, black spray paint
•ribbon of choice to hang your wreath with

this is my loot of spiders, snakes and bugs that i found at my local craft store and through oriental trading company.

i started with a simple and inexpensive 18" grapevine wreath that i purchased from my local crafts store

get your glue gun plugged in and have *lots* of glue handy. start gluing on all of your critters. (i found that it worked best for me to put the glue on the back of the critter and then place it on the wreath).

some larger items may not be easy to glue (like my large spiders) and you might have to use some thin floral wire to attach them. (don't worry about being able to see the wire because the paint will cover it nicely *or* a smartly placed bug fixed onto the spiders back).

just layer and continue to add more and more bugs until not much of the grapevine wreath shows.

here is a close up of about how closely i placed all of the critters.

once all glued and attached lay out newspaper outside and get to work spraying.
(i almost wanted to leave it as it looked so cool and colorful! wouldn't it be fun to leave it "as-is" for a insect birthday party?!)

here is the spray paint that i choose to use. it was a glossy black and it gave me just the look that i was going for. i think matte black might look great too. take your time with the spray paint. it took me 4-5 coats to cover. spray one coat and then let it dry 45 minutes or so in between.

loop through your ribbon of choice and hang.
the finished product looks *fantastic* don't you think?


Monday, October 1, 2012

mmmmm, mondays: french toast casserole

this breakfast (or dinner) recipe is a new favorite of mine. it is delicious and the kiddos will go crazy. it is so easy and it makes french toast do-able any night of the week. the prep time is about 10 minutes...tops...and you make it the night before so it's ready in the morning. could it get any better?

french toast casserole

1/2 cup melted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 large loaf of french bread 

6 eggs

1 1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla


mix melted butter and brown sugar and spread in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. slice french bread into 1 inch slices. place the bread on top of the butter and brown sugar. combine the eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon and pour over the bread. cover and refrigerate overnight. before baking, sprinkle with brown sugar. bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. serve with syrup. enjoy!