The Blessed Life

The Blessed Life

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Adventures in Cooking: Cookies and Cornbread

I made a couple of new recipes last week and they were soooo delish.  Thought I would share them with you!

First, Triple Corn Squares and Bean Sauce

I'll be honest, bean sauce doesn't sound that appetizing, but don't worry, it is just black beans mixed with salsa.  You serve said bean sauce on some ah-mazing corn bread.  Jason is always trying to get me to add actual corn to my cornbread but I am not a girl who likes her food chunky, so I never do.  I have weird texture issues.  Anyway, since we are still trying to eat meat free at least 4-5 times a week I am constantly looking for great recipes that the whole family will enjoy.  I think my girls would have liked this if they would have tried it, but they refused.  Maybe next time!  Either way, I will be making this again, and again, and again.  It was super good and super easy.  My kind of dinner.

As for the newest cookie, I made PW's Oatmeal Cookies.

OHMIGOSH.  These were pretty scrumptious.  Now, I must tell you that I did not add any nuts to them.  It goes back to me being weird.  I don't like nuts in my cookies.  At all.  Or in brownies for that matter.  Or ice cream.  Come to think of it, I can't think of anything that I like to add nuts to but that is beside the point.  Anyway, these cookies were awesome.  I did find it a bit odd that there was no cinnamon in them because every other oatmeal cookie recipe I have uses cinnamon, but they were still good.  And in addition to them tasting great, they looked great.  Which I appreciate in a cookie. 

So there you go a couple of great, fall inspired recipes that taste delicious and aren't too tough to make! 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Menu Planning

I thought I would share my menu planning/grocery shopping strategy today.  It is something I have seen other blogs/people on pinterest share and I thought maybe my way could help someone out! 

First, I think it is important to have a list of meals that your family will eat.  This took a little bit of thinking on my part, but now as we try new recipes I can just keep adding to the list.  By making a list of all possible dinners we will eat I am able to quickly find dinners to add to the menu.  Some meals that we have at least once a month include tacos, spaghetti, brinner, and pizza.  Currently my list has 70 possible dinner selections.

Second, I sit down with my monthly calendar and start looking at what is going on during the month.  I plan around Jason's pay periods which means I meal plan and grocery shop every two weeks.  I know that on Wednesday's and Saturday's we go to church.  On Wednesday's we eat before church and need something quick and easy and on Saturday's my sister and her family usually come over to eat.  I also take into account anything Jason has going on at work like late or out of town meetings and any Mary Kay appointments I may have.  I also make sure to look at what I can make that will have leftovers or things that use some of the same ingredients in order to save money.  I would never put steaks, veggie pasta (which has some expensive cheeses in it),  and mexican lasagna (which has a million ingredients) in the same week.  Too expensive.

Next, I plug in my meals.  September 1st-15th looks like this:

3rd-Pizza and Salad
4th-Chicken Pot Pie
5th-Cucumber, Corn, Avocado Salad
6th-Chicken Noodle Soup
7th-Crock pot Ranch Chicken and Rice
8th-Zucchini, Rice, Black Bean casserole
9th-Broccoli Cheese Soup
10th-Out to dinner with friends
11th-Chicken and Dressing
14th-Stuffed Peppers

(Side note, this two weeks is more meat heavy than we have eaten the past two months!  Mostly due to the fact that I am making three meals that all use pretty much the exact same ingredients.)

After making the menu, I sit down and start my grocery list.  I keep my menu in front of me in order to be able to write down all of the ingredients I might need.  I try to make some similar items so I don't waste any food.  Like I mentioned, the chicken pot pie, chicken noodle soup and chicken and dressing all use the same veggies and chicken so I will be able to cook the chicken together and be sure to not have celery and carrots go bad in my fridge!

Now here's the thing....we don't necessarily eat what is on each day.  I like to take into consideration what sounds good on a given day.  So, basically what I am planning is 15 or so different meals, but they aren't always eaten on the day where they are written.  Some people say meal planning isn't for them because, "what if what I have planned doesn't sound good?"  This plan is for that type of person!  We are never locked into a certain meal if it ends up not sounding good (unless of course it is the last day and we don't have any other groceries!!!).  I also keep ingredients on hand that I know could come in handy for a quick dinner in case I find I don't have time to cook one night.  I always have black beans and tortillas ready for black bean tacos or quesadillas and we always have plenty of sandwich stuff available. 

Final step is grocery shopping.  This is the part I hate the most.  I have switched where I shop and then switched again, and then again and despite my loathing of them, Target is where I now do my grocery shopping.  They have a good amount of organics, aren't too far from my house, do price matching, and since I use my redcard I get 5% off.  I still find that I have to go to Walmart and Whole Foods to pick up odds and ends (though Jenks just got a new organic grocery store..whoo hoo!!!) but usually Jas does those shorter trips for me!!  Shopping for two weeks at a time helps me save money because I am not going to the store everyday or every other day.

So there you go, my menu planning/grocery shopping strategy.  I know it is dorky, but I love this kind of thing.  I enjoy planning and organizing and knowing what I am having for dinner in the next two weeks.  I am weird and I know it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lawson at Seven Months

My little man is seven months old.  I can very clearly see why Isabelle and Molly are only 16 months apart.  I think seven months old is such a great age. 

For example,

Lawson smiles, coos, and makes lots of fun baby noises but doesn't talk back or yell.

Lawson is of course still in diapers, but really, baby poop isn't that big of a deal.

Lawson can scoot, get up on all fours and manage to get to toys that he wants, but for the most part, he stays where I put him.

Lawson sleeps through the night (mostly) but doesn't put up a fight at bedtime.

Honestly, most days I would tell you that four doesn't seem crazy at all.

Moving on....

Here is some info about Lawson at seven months old!

Some facts about Lawson:

Height: No idea!
Weight:  No idea!

We did not have any doctor's visits this month...hooray!  I am going to try to remember to weigh him and get a length on my own this week!  However, he is still the smallest kid in the nursery at church.

Eating:  Lawson has started on solids.  He has had sweet potatoes, avocado, rice cereal, bananas, apples, pears and squash.  So far his only dislike was the squash.  He is also still nursing about every three hours except at night.

Sleeping:  Same as last month.  Lots of naps during the day with at least two long naps of two or more hours.  Then sleeps 8-9 hours at night, wakes up to eat and back to sleep for another hour or two.  And yes, still "helping" him to sleep at least one time a day.

Likes:  talking, rolling all over the living room, playing peek-a-boo, giving mom lots of kisses.

Dislikes:  Being hungry, hot or ignored.  Same as ever.

Lawson has gotten pretty close to sitting up on his own as you can see above, but he isn't totally there yet.  He is also almost crawling.  I predict mastery of both before he turns eight months old!  Still no teeth either.  I don't think any of my kids had teeth at seven months so no big surprise there!  And he is still easy.  Like crazy easy.  This month should be the month where I get rid of the pacifier, but we shall see.  Those things are so darn handy.  I think Belle had hers until eight months, Molly maybe a little longer so who knows.  I will keep you posted!

Happy seven months, Lawson!  Mommy loves you so, so, so much.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Five: Things to Remember

It is important to me that this blog serve mainly as a way to keep memories of my family and kiddos so that when they are older I will have a way to remember all of the wonderful and funny and scary and all the other kinds of moments that happened over the years.  

With that in mind, I bring you five of the things my kids are doing that I want to remember.  (though right now it seems unlikely I would forget any of these things)

1.  Isabelle and her fireworks song.

Isabelle has been singing the national anthem every night.  Every. night.  We started singing "the fireworks song" to her on the Fourth of July.  It has been her bedtime song every night since then and now she can pretty much sing it on her own.  Also hilarious is the fact that at the end of the song she adds, "play ball."
2.  Isabelle's love of shoes.

Isabelle is a lover of shoes.  The moment she wakes up, shoes go on her feet.  They are the last thing to come off before bed or nap and she gets mega frustrated if she can't find the pair she wants.  It is crazy to me because I would rather be barefoot all the time.

3.  Molly's daredevil approach to life.

Molly is fearless.  It makes me slightly crazy.  She is a jumper, a climber and a runner and she does it all without an ounce of fear.  I hope that remembering this about her will help me when she is older.  I don't know that she will ever be afraid of anything, but if by chance there is something, some risk, some decision, some choice that scares her, I hope to remind her of her inner daredevil!

4.  Molly and her similarities to Jason.

Molly is her dad's girl, for sure.  From toe curling to her ticklish feet, her and Jason share many of the same traits.  People say Molly looks more like me and Isabelle more like J, but actually the baby pictures tell a different story.  Other ways Molly is just like Jason include her willingness to share her food (Isabelle and I are much more stingy when it comes to sharing our dinner or dessert), her ability to quote movie lines (the only movie she has seen all the way through is UP and she quotes it!!!), and her love of cuddling.  Jason is a touchy kind of guy, I am a pretty hands off kind of girl.  Molly is for sure more like Jason in that area.  She loves hugs and kisses. 

5.  Lawson.  Everything about Lawson.  Every. single. thing.

It is hard to say one thing I want to remember about Lawson at this point in his life.  Other than being the cutest, most adorable, sweetest, most snuggle-ly, best smelling, smiley, precious, amazing baby boy, I don't know where to start.  Having a boy is different.  I didn't think it would be and honestly until now I didn't really think there was a difference.  But as he starts to get a personality and spends more time awake than asleep I see the difference.  I guess I want to remember how different a third is, how different a boy is, and how different I am.  I want to remember the precious moments we have alone when his sisters are sleeping, the moments when he is nursing and stops to smile at me, and the way that I seem to be a more relaxed and calm mom this time around.  I love that little guy!

So there you go, five (okay, more than five) things I want to remember.  What memories do you need to write down?  Keep track, mommas! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Embrace The Camera: Instagram Edition

I love instagram.  I love that I can take a mediocre photo and make it look slightly less crappy.  I love capturing snapshots of our day.  I don't know why exactly, but ever since I downloaded that silly app, I have been more intentional about capturing moments of our day.  (if you want to find me I am @tracyd53)

I also love embrace the camera.  If you haven't checked it out before, you should.  Go HERE.  Emily has a great post today about getting in the photos you are taking.  Your family will thank you for making the effort.

Here are some recent embracing the camera photos courtesy of instagram!

mom and isabelle (or melanie, the name she has been asking me to call her!)

dad with the girls in a great fort (hard to see it's awesomeness in this photo)
mom and laws.....who refused to take a nap.  and yes, i have taken a very similar photo before and posted it!
Dad with Molly and her crazy after bath hair!

So, if you haven't started embracing yet, get out your phone and get started!  You won't regret it!  You can also check out my very first embrace post here if you'd like!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Adventures in Cooking: Enchiladas and Cookies

You know what?  Vegetarian eating isn't that difficult.  And it is yummy.  I won't lie and say I haven't eaten meat recently, but I will tell you that most nights at our house you will find our dinner table meat free.  I am liking the change, and the challenge that comes with finding and making new recipes. 

Here's two recipes I have made recently that I think you should know about!

First, Stacked Enchilada Bake.

This is a very easy, very tasty dish.  It will take you like five minutes to put together and stick in the oven.  And while I feel I should tell you that it might be a little spicy for kiddos (due to the enchilada sauce), I will also tell you that the husband loved it.  On nights where I make this I just have the kids eat leftovers or I make them something different.  I am trying hard to get away from the two dinner thing, but truthfully, sometimes J and I want spicy and so I know those nights I will be fixing two things. 

Next up, Citrus Butter Cookies from none other than PW!

I made these yesterday for a friend that had a baby.  I felt slightly embarrassed to take them to her since my cookie icing skills are sorely lacking.  Mine looked nothing like what you see pictured above.  Think massive blobs of icing and you will get a more accurate idea of what the ones I made looked like.  I also ran out of zest so I didn't have any to decorate the tops of the cookies with...oops. 

If you like butter cookies, you will love these.  If you like citrus, you will love these.  If you like chocolate cookies, you probably will not love these, but you may like them.  I don't know that I've ever hated a cookie.  Well, maybe pecan sandies, but other than that I don't think so.  I liked them, Jason said they were great.  Perhaps a little more work than your regular chocolate chip, but great for a new mom or a baby shower or really any lunch type event.  You should know that the recipe makes more cookies than it says in the cookbook, like twice as many.  I find that is usually true of PW's recipes.  It will say, makes 12 muffins and I get 30, or serves 8 and is closer to 12.  Maybe those cowboys eat twice as big of servings...who knows?????

So there you go, two great recipes.  What have you been cooking?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Embrace The Camera August 9th

Two weekends ago we went to OKC for a little family get together at my mother in law's house.

I can't believe that I was smart enough to get a picture of all of us together. 

my instagram can find me @tracyd53

Of course, it wouldn't be one of my pictures if it wasn't slightly blurry.  Oh, and Lawson has devil eyes.  I am determined to learn photoshop so that maybe I can figure out how to fix some of these things.  I have a book I am checking out from the library.  We shall see if I can learn it from a book!

Again, I will emphasize that when my kids look back I think they will be happy to see pictures of any kind, even the imperfect ones.  That is why I try to Embrace the Camera every week.  Haven't hopped on the bandwagon yet?  You should.  Check it out here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Dentist

Apparently kids who have teeth need to go to the dentist.  So, today I took Isabelle and Molly to go for their first ever dental check up.  It was very uneventful.

Both girls had x-rays taken and had their teeth cleaned.  Isabelle chose chocolate flavored toothpaste, Molly chose bubble gum.  Both did very well with the dental hygienist, but Isabelle did NOT like the actual dentist looking in her mouth.  Maybe she was just tired of being there, maybe she doesn't like male doctors, who knows.  Whatever the case she was NOT a fan of Dr. Roberts.

Here they are in the chair!

Good news is they both have clean teeth.  Bad news is they will both need braces.  Of course I already could have guessed that, but now I know for sure.  Molly has a pretty severe overbite.  Both girls have a lot of crowding.  Fun stuff.  I guess I will start saving now. 

I am curious if other parents take their kids to the dentist at two and three years old? 

PS.  My dad has asked when Lawson gets to be in the photo on the blog....the answer is sometime in October.  We haven't had pics done in almost two years.  Luckily we have some scheduled for October.  So sometime after that I will update the pic!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Embracing Lawson

I had a different picture I was going to post today, but then last night happened.

Last night Lawson took a bit of a his changing table.  I thought he was fine, he seemed fine.  We went to church, came home, and he didn't seem as fine.  Not eating super well, pretty lethargic, not responding to me, so we called the doctor.  She advised going to the ER and well, I didn't want to go.  I am embarrassed to tell you I didn't want to go because I worried about how to pay for yet another deductible this year.  And then Lawson threw a lot.  I don't think I have ever moved faster.  We were in the car and on the way to the ER in record time.  He threw up on the way there and was super groggy when we arrived.

Long story short, he had a CT scan and everything is normal.  He is still not 100% as I am pretty sure he did suffer a concussion.  Turns out you can't tell if someone has had a concussion with a CT, only if they have bleeding or fractures. 

Anywho, I will tell you that it is strictly because of Jesus that I didn't freak out completely.  And because of Jesus that Lawson is okay.  Thank you to those that prayed.

I love this little man.

Do you embrace?  You should.  Check out Emily here.