Monday, April 29, 2013

mmmmm, mondays: breakfast sandwiches

i am not a morning person. i don't love getting up early. i walk around in a bit of a coma until i get some caffeine coursing through my veins. my children are very accustomed to cereal in the mornings. any special breakfast food comes during a breakfast for dinner night. the only exception to that rule are these breakfast sandwiches. they are one of the kids' favorite dinners and the leftovers make breakfasts just as amazing. they are a snap to prepare and they are deliciously simple. 

breakfast sandwiches

one package refrigerated or frozen biscuits (i like "immaculate" biscuits)

one package breakfast sausage, bacon, or ham (enough for 8 sandwiches)

6 eggs, beaten with 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese added to the egg mixture

8 slices cheddar cheese


bake the biscuits per the package directions. while the biscuits are baking, cook the breakfast meats (i microwave the bacon or cook the sausage on the stove. ham can be warmed either way.) using an extremely large skillet or saute pan, make two very large omelettes. loosen the omelette around the edges and flip in the same pan to make sure each side is cooked well. when the omelette is cooked, cut it into quarters and set aside. when the biscuits are baked, cut them in half. butter each side of the biscuit. layer one slice of cheese, 1/4 of the one omelette, and your choice of breakfast meat and sandwich in each biscuit. enjoy!

the best part of these little sammies is that they are easy to store and easy to heat up again in the morning. i double the recipe each time i make these and save the extras for breakfast in the mornings. make up the extra sandwiches. store each one in its own plastic container or plastic storage bag. reheat each one individually in the morning in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until cooked through. enjoy yet again!

Friday, April 26, 2013

friday fun finds: trader joe's green plant juice

sometimes it is super hard to get my kids to get enough green goodies into their daily diet. do you have that problem? 

i looked into juicing and am crazy impressed with you mommies that do it--you rock--but it just isn't for me right now. 

low and behold, when i was at my favorite place on the planet, trader joes i came across this "green plant juice". it wasn't expensive and is just was just what i was looking for so i though i would give it a try. it looked a little intimidating to me and i wasn't sure the kids would go for it but they LOVE it! 

my favorite use for it is in smoothies. put frozen strawberries, frozen pineapple, a banana or two, a handful of baby spinach and a bunch of this green juice, give it a whirl in the blender (i use the ninja) and it turns into an awesome smoothie! i am not even a big veggie connoisseur and i LOVE this smoothie. you can't even taste the greens! it's fantastic! 

you might want to do yourself a favor and give trader joe's green plant juice a try.....who knows, maybe your kids will beg for it too!? 

Monday, April 22, 2013

mmmmm, mondays: easy cinnamon buns

a few weeks ago, i was making breakfast for a saturday meeting i was hosting. i wanted something simple and easy that would be a crowd pleaser. my good friend sent me this recipe to prepare and i gave it a try. i'm usually not one to test drive a recipe for a crowd of people but i decided to take a risk and give this one a whirl. i am so glad i did. this recipe is amazing! it is so easy and so, so delicious. i have made it two times since then. it has now become one of my all time favorite cinnamon breakfast recipes. the very best part? it's totally prepared the night before and just baked in the morning. for this non-morning is a recipe match made in heaven.

easy cinnamon buns

1/4 cup butter (1/2 bar), melted

1 cup walnuts, shelled and halved

1/2 cup of cinnamon

24 dough balls (in frozen section of grocery store)

i found these in the freezer section of the grocery store...
perfect for this recipe!

3 oz vanilla "cook and serve" pudding

3/4 brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

melt 1/4 cup butter in a 13x9 inch pan. sprinkle nuts on the bottom of the pan. coat each of the dough balls with cinnamon by placing the cinnamon in a small bowl and rolling each ball in the cinnamon. place cinnamon balls 4 rows across and 6 down in the baking. sprinkle the dry pudding mix and the brown sugar on top of the balls. melt the 1/2 cup of butter and drizzle over top of the balls. cover the pan with wax paper and a towel overnight. bake at 350 for 25 minutes. run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the buns from the baking dish. place a serving dish upside-down on top of the baked balls. flip the serving dish and the baking dish together over and shake gently to let all the buns fall onto the serving dish. enjoy!!!

ready to cover and let rise overnight...

fresh from the oven and so, so good!

Friday, April 19, 2013

friday fun finds: orange blossoms, la costa resort & spa and happy memories

i am in love. yes, it's true......with the most amazing scent, orange blossom. 

about a year ago i was able to have a wonderful escape with a very dear girlfriend for the weekend to la costa resort and spa, just outside of san diego. it is a dreamy place and it was filled with the smell of orange blossoms that clung to the breeze from the multitude of orange trees on the property. the spa day was divine, the food was wonderful, but the best part about the weekend was allowing myself to take the time to make this important friendship a priority. 

i came across orange blossom colone by jo malone and it brought an instant smile to my face. the sent envelops me with love and support and on top of *all* of that, i get complements all the time on smelling good (an added bonus). 

what scents bring an instant smile to *your* face?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

faith in humanity

i don't like to admit that i am getting older. still, as i think back to my childhood, i can't help but remember it as a completely different era. things were different back then. life was simpler. people trusted one another. there was still evil in the world but it was less popular than it is today. the horrible did not take center stage.

when i was five years old, i received a new pair of roller skates. i'm one of those strange people who can remember her childhood vividly. i remember the excitement of sitting on the front porch and strapping on my skates. i can remember the joy that came in wearing them and the frustration that followed when i couldn't figure out how to keep myself upright while learning how to use them. as i was struggling and sitting on the porch sulking, our neighborhood mailman was making his rounds. back in the late 70's and early 80's, our mailman parked his mail truck, grabbed his bag of mail and walked door to door to deliver our mail. this sweet man had been delivering mail for most of his life and was nearing retirement as he approached my house and me, sulking on the front porch. 

after assessing the situation, he offered to help me learn how to skate. he asked my mother if he could help and there we began our journey together. every day i would sit on the front porch with my skate laces tied up, waiting for him to arrive. as he walked from door to door, he held my hand and steadied me around the neighborhood, helping me get my bearings in the wonderful world of rollerskating. he would carefully deliver me back to my mother each day before he moved on to the next neighborhood. i looked forward to him daily and remember those moments with pure joy. i had to have slowed him down considerably, made his route longer, his back more sore and his day longer but you never would have known it. he arrived each day with a smile, talked with me endlessly and taught me that skill with the patience of a saint. i wondered if something like that would ever happen for my children in today's society. it was a different era. and yet...

this week, i sat on my front porch and waited for the school bus to arrive. the day before, bombs had exploded at the boston marathon. earlier that morning, a facebook post had been circulating about a nearby failed child abduction. the signs of evil were everywhere. it was overwhelming to ponder. in the midst of those thoughts, three of my kids came bounding off the bus, all smiles. the two oldest went indoors but my sweet kindergartener, stayed behind. a landscaping business was busy mowing the neighbor's lawns and he was fascinated by the huge, ride-on lawnmower and the edger they were using. we sat there and stared at the workers for a half an hour. my sweet boy would venture closer and closer to see what they were doing. he braved a wave and a smile a couple of times and the gentleman mowing smiled and waved back. 

it took some time for the lawns to get mowed. the men had been working on four houses on our street and had been there for hours. still, as the last bit of grass was cut, the man mowing slowed down and motioned for my little one to come over. my son was hesitant at first but with my encouraging, he walked over to the man. the landscaper didn't speak much english but he motioned for my son to climb up and for the next ten minutes, the two of them drove up and down the street in front of my house. he taught my son how to steer, to speed up and slow down and let him drive the mower on his own, watching and helping carefully. you would have thought my six year old had won the lottery. the smile on his face lit up the sky. 

steering on his own...

just like that, my faith in humanity was restored. we do live in a different era...but not that different. there will always be evil in the world but good people outnumber the bad 100 fold. there will still be those who go out of their way to bring joy to someone else for no personal gain. there will still be lovers of kindness and mercy and goodness. there will still be those who choose to bring unbridled joy to someone else. i'm choosing to celebrate those people today. i'm passing on the joy in the hopes we can all keep those stories going...and that good will always shine brightest.

happiest boy ever!

Monday, April 15, 2013

mmmmm, mondays: lemon-pepper & parmesan tilapia

some days i am prepared for dinner time. other's a mystery what will show up when dinner is finally served. i have managed to stock my freezer with some helpful items but who knows if i'll get them thawed in time or will have other ingredients to finish off a meal.

last week the stars aligned and i was able to pull some fish out of the freezer and make dinner happen in less than 20 minutes. it was nothing short of miraculous.

here's the quick and easy breakdown so you can have a miraculous moment too.

i had these in my pantry/fridge

these were in my them! they are individually wrapped and ready to eat. perfect for a quick meal!

lemon pepper & parmesan tilapia

1 package (or 2 and a half pounds) of fresh or frozen tilapia loins

1 box of lemon pepper panko bread crumbs

1 bag (about a cup and a half) of parmesan cheese

2 eggs - beaten 

extra virgin olive oil

heat about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. mix the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese in a large, flat dish or plate. coat each tilapia loin in the beaten eggs and then in the breadcrumb mixture. immediately place in the hot pan and cook for about 5 minutes before carefully turning to cook for five minutes on the other side. (i cover the pan with foil to keep anything from splattering).


Friday, April 12, 2013

friday fun finds: creeping jenny

yesterday chach shared her new adventures in gardening. i started gardening a couple of years ago and am officially an addict. it is so therapeutic, so relaxing and it gives you a feeling of accomplishment almost instantly. i also love that in the world of motherhood, where most days are not full of huge successes, gardening gives you produce within weeks. it's miraculous and such a refreshingly gratifying hobby...and you get "free" food. it's a win.

still, with five kids, my time is limited in my garden. i pick hearty, easy to grow plants in my garden that will produce food my kids will eat. i don't have a ton of time to weed. i don't have a ton of time to re-mulch. i want to care for my plants and just enjoy the rest of the yard.

that's where my favorite little plant comes in. i absolutely love "creeping jenny". a creeping jenny is a ground covering plant. they are cheap. i can get them for just about two dollars. here's what makes them so wonderful. jennies spread rapidly. as they grow, they drop down new roots and just keep going. one little container will start as about 4 inches around when planted. after one season, it will be about two feet around. after that, watch out. these sweet little plants will completely cover a barren area. they do not need much sunlight. they can survive in a ton of sunlight. they do not need much water. they do great in a ton of water (even a water garden). they do not need much care. they are nearly indestructible. they are amazing!

our patio couldn't even stop the growth.

the best thing about jennies? what is absent from the pictures above? no guesses? that's weeds! where jennies are, weeds don't seem to grow. i've had one or two try to fight their way through the jenny covered grown but they are pulled up in a snap. there won't be weeds all summer long and the area won't need any mulch to keep it maintained. right there the sweet little plant has eliminated two time consuming gardening tasks. i think jenny deserves a medal. 

what about you? do you have a favorite plant for your garden? for me it's jenny...the helper of mommy gardeners everywhere.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

operation green thumb: gardening in raised planter beds

my thumb is not even close to green. they are in fact both a very deep, dark black. my sweet grandmommie had the greenest of green thumbs......i did not inherit that gardening gene. in all truth, i have trouble keeping alive the plants that people insist i will be unable to kill and are described as "low maintenance" or "hearty". so, when my amazing landlords built raided planter beds in our backyard i was excited.....but scared. mostly scared.  

i hate failing (and there has been a lot of failing in my life lately). it wasn't about me two sweet boys were *so* very excited about the idea of planting and growing their favorite fruits and veggies so i decided to get over my mental hurdle and go for it. i did a little research (and called a dear friend for a TON of advice) and headed off to the land of orange shopping carts. i loaded up the car with a bunch of goodies and headed home to plant. (notice i picked plants and not seeds. i think they already have a fighting chance, right? they have already started to grow! no seeds for me this time. i am not that stupid brave. here's to hoping and praying that my theory is correct). 

it actually was pretty easy. I added a ton of soil to the beds and went to work planting. the kids had so much fun and so did i! it was a beautiful day outside, the sun was shining and it felt good to dig my hands into the soil and dream about the bounty of fruits and veggies it will (hopefully) someday produce in abundance.

tomatoes, basil and blueberries, oh my!

if you look really close you will see a tiny green tomato growing!


the *best* part was buying a 10 lb bag of worms and letting them lose in the soil. i was told it is really good for the plants and soil but the most wonderful part was spending time with the boys and seeing the wonder and excitement on their faces as we watched the worms dig their way into the soil and disappear. it was awesome! (and i forgot to take pictures, of course! ugh.)

will the plants grow? will they bear fruit or veggies? the truth is......i am really not sure. one thing i have learned is that there are no guarantees in life. what i do know is this; i took a risk. i conquered my fears and i tried. i tried!!!  i may's a very real possibility.....*but* i didn't let my fear of that failure get in the way of trying. and, for today.....well, that is a really, really big thing.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

two. long. weeks.

these last two weeks have not been what we expected. what was supposed to be a (somewhat) calm spring break (as much as a "break" with five kids home can be) turned into an avalanche of events that took us on a different type of adventure. one friend's husband ended up with an unexpected triple bypass surgery during spring break and two of her five babies spent some fun filled days with my five. another friend had an emergency appendectomy and i had the pleasure of watching her sweet daughters for one day of her recovery. two friends had marriages fall apart over the last two weeks and needed lots of time talking and crying combined with lots of wise counsel. that combined with my three year old on steroids (literally) and it has truly been a long couple of weeks. i'm not complaining. my weeks were a piece of cake compared to all my friends have been through. still, as i look back at it all, here's what comes to mind.

  • everything can wait. the house can be dirty. the blog can fall behind. clothes can wait to be washed for one more day. meetings can be postponed. all the details of our lives can wait when someone needs us. people are the most important part of our lives. when our worlds get shaken, the weighty things settle into place and we can recalibrate our lives to remember what we're really doing here...and those who are most important.
  • family is all relative (no pun intended). don't get me wrong. i love my sweet parents and my siblings. still, while they are in california and i'm in south carolina, i have a different kind of family. i have a family that i do life with. i have friends i can call on for anything, anywhere, anytime. and they can call on me. so many of us live away from our own families or have imperfect relationships with blood relatives. i've been reminded how important it is to invest in the families of our own making...those amazing people who come into our lives and fill so many holes we didn't even know existed.
  • imperfection is totally okay. i may not have showered. the kids may have eaten fast food two days in a row. i may not have answered the phone when it rang. i may have forgotten school lunch money. i may have forgotten the baby could climb the stairs and panicked for a few minutes thinking i had lost him. all of that is okay. the wall hanging pictured above is in my kitchen. it's my new mantra. grace is so much more important than perfection.
  • blessing others means that they can bless someone else. this has been my theme song to my kids these last two weeks. it's a song i'm hoping to repeat when these weeks are over. my kids finally came to understand that when they help me (around the house, with the baby, by being kind to one another) they are blessing me. when they bless me, i have more time and energy to be a blessing to others. they got to see this first hand these weeks as we had other kids in our house whose parents needed help. learning the positive repercussions of blessing others and the snowball effect it creates is a powerful lesson for our kids. i showed them the video below to drive it all home. well done, "liberty mutual"...i truly think this is advertising (and life lesson) genius. 

  • lastly, this week reminded me that easter eggs should only be filled with chocolate....lots and lots of chocolate. 
we've missed you all. we are happy to be back. we hope you have had two weeks full of blessings, family, chocolate, and grace.