Monday, April 29, 2013

Let's talk food

 Oh I so wish a stocked fridge would last around here. I have no idea how some of these moms shop on such tight food budgets. I have read the pins from Pinterest, read blogs, made calendars, cut coupons and In the last few years have never saved tons and tons. Prices have gone up on everything and my kids eat all the time so I never can get ahead. I shop and three days later they have ate everything!!  Couponing used to be a lot easier for me but it just isn't anymore. I simply don't have enough hrs in the day to do it the right way. Just today I went to Target to get some things for the kids lunch, I wasn't even in the door and the boys had ripped into everything I bought. One had a bowl full of crackers, the other a bowl full of cereal. I feel like I live at the store and I don't even have teenagers yet. We eat healthy most of the time.  I try and cook most things from fresh ingredients, I don't do box meals or frozen. Occasionally we have a frozen pizza and chicken nuggets, gasp.. ha ha. I think if you eat rather healthy everything in moderation is fine. Recently I came across a blog about eating healthy the girl was so so tiny. She seemed obsessed with her organic, gluten free, no sugar, caffeine free, low meat, no dairy diet.  This was simply out of the reasons of staying fit and healthy, oh my. I do believe in a thing called moderation and I want my kids to have a healthy relationship with food. It is so hard to eat normal and enjoy food with snacks everywhere from every athletic event to school parties there is junk everywhere. I try my best to buy lots of fruit and vegetables. We eat lots of chicken, and not much fried foods at all. I shop mostly at Sam's club, Walmart/Target and recently Aldi for some things. I try and write down what sounds good for the week and buy all my ingredients. I try to stretch meals the best I can. For example I will buy a whole chicken and then use the leftovers for enchiladas or soup the next day. I don't know how some people get by eating so little food. I think my whole family must eat a lot. My kids are hungry all the time.  I really wish I could get them to eat more at dinner but many times they do eat, but they get full quick. They love snacks that must be our downfall.  Lauren will eat 4 oranges in one day along with a banana and apple. Drew loves breakfast and will eat 3 bowls of cereal in the morning.. I am kind of the same way. I probably eat 5 smaller meals a day but I feel better this way.  Speaking of good junk food (fruit and anything with chocolate) I bought this chocolate at Sam's Club. Best stuff ever. It is like having fondue without the mess. You just put the chocolate in the microwave and dip your fruit.

  It's strawberry season at the store, we love them!! I even make kid friendly smoothies out of them.  I didn't have any Orange juice so I used fruit punch Gatorade. I only put a tiny bit in, ice, yogurt and a few strawberries.  It makes a great shake.

 I adore fancy salads.  I consider fancy any salad that has lots of ingredients.. I love balsamic dressing with feta and strawberries.  I could probably eat this everyday.
 I really do try to get my kids to be healthy eaters.  This is as close as I think I'm going to get.  Lauren loves hot dogs, seriously loves hot dogs!!  Not my favorite but I buy her turkey dogs. So now she always asks "Can I have my turkey hot dogs, they are healthy"  I don't think they are that healthy but better then regular at least.
 My kids are some of the pickiest eaters ever! I blame my husband for that, apparently as a kid he was the same way, ha ha. They are getting better as time goes on. They will eat any kid foods no problem it is things like sweet potatoes and vegetables. They do like fruit and spinach, so that is good. If I make fish it better be the best non fishy seasoned thing you can make or they won't touch it.  It has driven me nuts for years.... but I don't make different food for my family anymore that catering is long gone. We make them try everything at dinner. If they hate it then we don't force it. They like chicken, rice,beans and we eat a lot of Mexican. We all love fresh Mexican,think Chipotle.  That is the best place on earth as far as I'm concerned. 
I have a Aldi right down the road from my house.  It is always busy, clean and has fast service. I go usually 2x a month and get some things we like.  First of all their produce is so much cheaper then anywhere else.  Most of the time it is excellent and they even have some organic selections. I also love these Popsicle's.  They have them in strawberry, lime, and some other fruit flavor.  I love the Pina Colada ones. They have a creamy texture and have pieces of pineapple in them.  They are low calorie and actually satisfy as a late night snack. Oh my downfall, I love a good TV snack.  Go try them, and check out Aldi's.  I would not say it is a glamorous grocery store by any means.  IF you go in you need to get Giant Eagle Market District out of your mind..It is nothing like that but with the amount of money I spend at the store it helps my family eat more produce. If you have any tips, family friendly receipts, or money saving tips that don't involve a million coupons I would love to hear them. I just love blogging and all the wonderful tips, tricks and friendly people I have met.  Nothing is better then moms helping each other!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

My little Lauren Gracie is growing up

I am so thankful for coffee.  It is amazing how much more I can get done when I'm having a sluggish day.  I never drank coffee until little Lauren Grace came along.  Magic Number 3 has taught me a lot about being a mommy. There is never a dull moment with her, seriously.  She is smart, loud, funny, busy, and strong willed, Oh my!! She was my child that colored all over the walls, smeared poop on the wall, and threw the mother of all fits in about every store in town.  Humility anyone?  Those days are over except for the sassy mean fits that she has about once a week, other then that she is changing everyday. These days she is my easy one most of the time, besides shopping.  I need to get this girl to like to shop ): She loves to cook, clean and help me with folding laundry.  She is also sensitive to my stress level.  Either she uses it to get her way or feels sorry for me and gets her makeup kit out and starts rubbing my feet and saying I need a break.  Next comes the make-up application that she feels would help me feel and look my best.  She told me the other day "Mommy, you need to count to twenty starting with one.... then you will feel more calm and make good choices"  She is darling, really!!  I can't believe she is starting school school in a few months, what am I'm going to do with myself?   
 She is into playing store lately this is her shop.  She also is really into puppies.  She made dog beds for all her puppies, and put her clothes on them to make blankets.
 Being strong willed can be a good thing.  Her front tooth was a little loose, in her mind it was coming out that day.  She pulls out the chair, gets a napkin and works it out so the tooth fairy comes.

 She is growing up that is for sure, she still keeps me going
 I love her joy for life...Rolling down the hill giggling all the way.
I love you Lauren!!!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spring flowers and great finds

I love these purple flowers! My whole yard has daffodils and other little flowers in the ivy right now. I could not ask for a more beautiful setting that is for sure.
I found these two great finds recently. Two blue/gray down Pottery Barn pillows, Jackpot.  I love terrariums and found this one at the antique mall already filled, only $10!!  It is heavy nice glass too. TJMaxx has terrariums right now that are really big and inexpensive. They aren't heavy glass but very cute.  I wish I had a sun room because a lot of their stuff is adorable but not meant for outdoors.  I love outdoor garden items. I could buy a million little bunnies, terrariums, wicker furniture...

 I added this older rug I already had, and placed it under my table. It adds a little interest. I ordered carpet today for our bedrooms and living area. I don't love carpet but our house is pretty big and hardwood would have been twice as much. I cringed when they told me the price for my average carpet and wished I could have used the money for something more fun. When we first looked at the house I don't even remember thinking about how bad the carpet was.  It was really bad, I guess I had blinders on. I probably did notice but the Realtor probably said something like "Oh that is cosmetic and  very inexpensive."  ha.. ha ...very good line!! The only good thing about carpet is that it's warm in the winter. Living up north is beautiful in the summer and fall. It is so lush with so many trees and ivy but the winters are very cold so carpet is nice.  
 I painted these little pots and added these topiaries that I found ages ago. I don't even remember where I got them but they are cute ones.  Do you ever move arrangements out of pots and put them in new containers?  It's amazing what a difference scale and painting can do. These urns used to be tan with speckles, really ugly. They had the weirdest topiaries in them that were to big for the urns. They were made of grapevines and little flecks of green that feel out all over the floor.  From a distance they were cute but close up, fakey green. I love natural colors in fake plants.  I love real but for some reason I forget to water them or Lauren's over waters them. Have a nice night (:

Monday, April 15, 2013

Jewelry and friends

Hi friends!!  We had a great weekend.  The weather is really warming up and the kids finally have been able to play outside. Rob bought me this watch last year for Mother's Day. I went into a blog drought for a while with Drew's health issues so I missed posting little things here and there. It is a very special gift because I received it while staying at the Children's hospital on Mother's Day.  It was a sad Mothers Day but it made me realize what Mothers Day really is about. Being a mom is not always fun, sometimes you have to be brave for you child and boy is that hard. Life is all about the ride good and bad. I don't want to cry but I'm privileged to be a mother in so many ways!! On the fun side I really love this watch because it goes with just about everything I wear.
 When I moved to Pittsburgh Drew's teacher and I became friends.  She is one of the best teachers ever and I love her!! The first thing I noticed about her other then her kind personality was her jewelry called Sabika. She actually stated selling it recently because she loved it so much, so naturally I bought some.  It is so beautiful!!  It is a pittsburgh based company that probably will be growing rapidly. Anyway, I just thought I would post it because I have worn this necklace more then anything I have ever bought. You can mix it from jeans to a fancy dresses.  I love that!!  A little prep with glam, just my style (:  
 Last weekend I went to Sarah (Drew's teacher) baby shower.  It was so beautiful!!  I had so much fun making her baby gift.  Hair bows are so fun to make. I can thank Lauren's southern roots for creating a hair bow monster in me.  The little girls in the south dress so cute!!  Lauren started her bow collection as a newborn and she still wears her bows.  I started trying to make them a couple years ago and they turned out cute.  I don't have much more bow time left with Lauren so I thought I would start on Sarah's new baby.

 She is one of the best friends I have met here so far.  I also love my other friend on the left Tami. Sarah is such a shinning star of a teacher.  She cares so deeply for her students. I can imagine she will go on to win some teacher of the year awards..She is so fun and organized. You know all that fun teacher stuff you see on Pinterest? Yep, she does with her kids. She sat with Drew when he first got sick at school and didn't leave his side till I came. She came and saw him in the hospital which is not super close and had a life size balloon sent to him. I wish all teachers were like her (:  I can't imagine life without the friends we have made along our journey. One of the positive things about moving is that I have met so many nice friends. It's been a gift!  

Friday, April 12, 2013

The hardest job ever, parenting

 While eating dinner the other night, I had Lauren whining, Jaden complaining and Drew cracking jokes only to annoy the others. Rob said,"I feel like we are living in a nursing home with all this bickering and complaining." They were all feeding off each other and it was so loud. I looked at Rob and said, "I don't know if I was cut out for this. I am in serious need of a vacation BY MYSELF!!" The night before I was working with Jaden for 3 hrs on his spelling words.  Nothing like waiting till the night before to learn 25 hard words. Jaden is so smart but spelling is hard for him. He got mad at me and was so frustrated he was crying by the nights end. ( He ended up getting a "A" on his test) Meanwhile during our studying I hear cereal spill all over the floor and about break my ankle over the two loads of laundry laying on the floor to see what happened. Oh my gosh!! If I could write one of those yearly braggy type Christmas cards on a day like this it would not be pretty. It would read "The kids have not had a shower in 3 days, they destroyed every room in the house, and for their biggest accomplishment they threw their wrappers on the floor because clearly they think our house is a garbage dump." This is not typical everyday but some weeks are worse then others. We have to lay down the law when the kids get this way, or I might go check myself into the asylum for a vacation. They are such great kids most of the time and people tell me how polite and sweet they are. They all have good hearts, and that is what matters to us and God most. They are kind, smart, and funny but when they don't get their sleep or try disrespecting us all goes south. I'm guilty, and have fallen into catering to them and they sometimes expect it. I don't do it on purpose but like most moms want their children to be happy and not be upset. I have really stepped back and tried to let them learn to fail more this year. I hate it but, I'm seeing it become a wonderful gift to let children fail sometimes. My husband has made me realize that they need to figure out problems on their own. Or even basic cause and effect. It really isn't my responsibility for Jaden to study his spelling list. Even though it would pain me to see a bad grade he needs to learn responsibility. I of course can always be there to help but I shouldn't have to remind him to study all the time.  If he gets a bad grade then he has to deal with the consequences. I want my kids to never miss out on fun, or lose privileges but as they are growing I can see that if you give in and make life easy they take advantage of you and become what most people call a "bratty spoiled kid." So we are really working on responsibilities, chores and respect. Not just chores to be done to make money but some things they should do because keeping your room clean should be expected.  If they want to go above and beyond to help then we will gladly pay them with spending money. So like most parents we have learned a lot in the last decade and have gone through a lot of trial and error on raising children. It really does sadden me the lack of work ethic and responsibility in young adults today. So many have affluenza and expect everything to be easy and free.  Sooner or later reality will hit and I wonder how they will cope when they don't get a great job promotion, or newest designer purse when food is more important. I really don't want my kids to be self indulgent, so we are trying our best to stop it now. In no way do I have this parenting thing figured out. It has been a ongoing work in progress since day one. It is the hardest job ever!! Lauren is starting Kindergarten next year and I will no longer have little kids. It seems like yesterday we were the young family with the little kids, not anymore. It went so fast, now we are the family with the school age kids and pre-teens.  Speaking of that...The moods are starting with Jaden.  Oh it is so amazing that at the age of 10 1/2 how he thinks he knows more then I do about some things.  So I listen and try and help and he gets frustrated and thinks I don't understand.  So like Rob said it this morning your going from slave to psychologist.  I thought it was pretty funny because with all these different personalities and drama it sure feels like it.  Have you seen this pin off Pinterest? Story of my life....

Most of the time we have lots of fun. I think kids really do like discipline and know that you do care for them deeply when we you correct them.  Drew is a dancing machine.  He dances just about everyday including break dancing. 

Video games, we put a break on those too. They play a little each day and some days we have technology free days... best decision ever!!
At last count, there were about 75 Lego kits in the basement. I had one of my mental break downs when I decided to clean it all and sort them.  I kept stepping on Lego's and the pile kept getting bigger and bigger.  Each day the boys would tell me they were working on a project.  I finally told them it needs to be put away.  Soon after mom we spent an entire day sorting the Lego's.  My OCD had been set off when they starting mixing the sets and I couldn't help myself!!  I want them to be creative but when the sets were mixed permanently I finally could not take it. The kids know they don't want me to get in my garbage bag mood. You know the one where you pitch anything not picked up within  6" of your foot. (I know most of you know what I'm talking about)  When I pull out the garbage bags my kids know I am not messing around.

Lauren's favorite new activity is doing my makeup. So here I am at at night, with my beautiful eye-shadow. I actually enjoy when my kids act like kids and the video games and TV are shut off.  It seems like something magical happens, they actually listen better and their imagination starts working again.
Jaden made his own bank. He set up a glass jar with his money, calculator, pens etc... Drew made a deposit in his bank account.
A fun new game

It's seriously amazing what games they come up with when the TV is not on.

Me at the end of the day, just keeping it real friends. I actually feel asleep after Lauren's makeup session. Being a mom is the hardest job ever.  I feel like I am constantly cleaning, disciplining, answering a million questions, driving, cooking you name it.. The funny thing is like most mom's I would not change it for the world!!!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

More trash to treasure

 Not very cute at first glance anyway. I found this on Craigslist for $30. I needed a new small coffee table for downstairs where we watch TV.  My new couch is really big and I didn't want a huge table so this fit perfect.  My basement is mostly classic baseball and defiantly more masculine so this looked perfect. I love the vintage metal casters, and get this it has a white marble top. I love white marble!!  Such a easy project, all I did was paint it white and clean the top real good.  This thing is so heavy and it looks really good. We have already enjoyed a family movie and pizza with it. Oh how I love finding cheap decor that is not only purposeful but decorative and great quality.
 I Found this cute bird print at Tuesday Morning.  I hope one day I can paint something like this. 
 This cabinet used to have doors on it but I got kind of sick of the doors. The bottom was also starting to peel.  I removed the molding on the bottom and just replaced it with a new piece. Now it is a open shelf which I like. See that candle thing on top. I absolutely love using these warmers. I use the end of all my candles, you know when the wick suddenly gets covered with wax or you have a little at the end that won't burn.  I just put it on the candle heater and turn it on.  It smells so good and I don't worry about fires when the kids are downstairs playing.  The melted wax freshener lasts forever it seems. 
 This wood thing used to be a end table that I decoupaged and stained a few years ago. The table was a $1 farm sale find that was to good to leave. I never found a place for it so I threw it in the basement with a pile of things I have no use for but for some reason can't part with. A few weeks ago I was doing some spring cleaning and though I might just donate it but then I saw my small electrical saw. thing I know I'm cutting the legs off.  I figured I could use the table for storage, and I love it.  It is a perfect spot for storing cards, puzzles and small trinkets for the kids to play with. I also added vintage metal label pulls.
 I'm loving my chair, I added this pillow that I already had. 

 Spring wreath, so glad spring seems to be here now. It's so nice to have nights playing outside and baseball practice in warm weather.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Chili Recipe, and breakfast muffins

 I have been making this chili recipe for years that my aunt gave me. I want to share recipes that are easy, good, healthy and kid friendly. How many times have you slaved away in the kitchen and your kids didn't like it? I don't want my kids to be picky but they are unfortunately. Although the food might be great kids have weird taste buds. In fairness to them I think I read that taste buds take time to acquire tastes and they improving with age. Saying this I want to feed my family as healthy as possible without being to extreme. I know that sounds weird but lately everything I read is about eliminating certain food groups and I just don't think it is attainable long term for us. Not to say if it it was a necessity for health I would defiantly do it because we do have some diet restrictions. Mostly everything I share will be foods that most kids like. I have three kids so the consensus will be good that your kids will like what I share as well. I have made this chili soup for parties, birthdays etc.. and it is a crowd favorite. It is so simple, are you ready?
1. Brown 1# of lean hamburger with a chopped up sweet onion, drain
2. Place in crock pot with can of crushed tomatoes (big 28oz), black beans, corn, kidney beans, pinto beans, pack of ranch seasoning, pack of taco seasoning.  Do not drain anything!  
3. Cook about 6 hrs on low
You can also add hot sauce, tortilla chips, and sour cream as toppings
Enjoy!! It makes enough to serve about 8-10
One of my friends recently told me about this, and I'm here to say it is wonderful. This is so easy and actually it is not to unhealthy for even breakfast. Pumpkin is so good for you and when you add Flaxseed to the mix it adds even more benefits.  
1. Take a box of spice cake mix, and a can of pumpkin and mix them together.  You add no oil or eggs, just the mix. If you wish you can add a tablespoon or two of flaxseeds. Put in muffin pan, and cook as directed on cake box.
2. Let cool and add a little cream cheese frosting. You can do it without but I'm telling you the cream cheese frosting makes a difference.

 Lauren is my little cooker as she calls herself.  The kids loved these, so did Rob and I. 
Hope you enjoy these two family favorites.  I will have more to come. Please stop by and let me know if you liked the recipes.
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