Wednesday, March 31

Cloudy Day

We finally had a cloudy day today...I was so excited to get to the park. 

Cloudy is good for taking pictures, you know.  It provides for good lighting without the sun casting a ton of shadows.  

Spring has sprung, but the temperatures didn't suggest as much today.  It was windy, and it was cold.

Despite the chilling temps (at least to me), the Peanut still wanted to unzip her jacket.  Perhaps she thought it was balmy?

But her Daddy fixed it.

Her new request at the park is "Hand?" In Peanut-ese it sounds more like "Han?" 

She loves to walk hand in hand with Mommy and Daddy.  (Da-ee)

This is by far my favorite of today.  (She inspires me to take better pictures.  Although I am no where near  her level, it's still nice to aspire.  As the saying goes, there is always room for improvement, and in my case the only way is up!)

Peanut had lots of fun, taking a few tumbles, but never a tear.

She just dusted herself and got back up again.  She's a big girl like that.

We got to see some birds...

 and kick around the ball.


The Peanut had a blast as always.

And just plain wore herself out...

Monday, March 29

Homemade Bread Sticks

We had pizza the other night for dinner and I had some dough left over so I whipped these up.  They turned out really well so I made them again to go with the spaghetti I made for dinner tonight. 

Jackie's Bread Sticks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

For the dough, I just used the basic dough recipe from my bread maker cookbook:

1 1/8 cup warm water
1 1/2 Tbls oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 cups flour
2 tsp active dry yeast

Place the ingredients in the maker according to the manufacturers directions and use the dough setting. Once the cycle is finished, punch the dough and let rest about 5 minutes. Spread a little olive oil on your baking stone and press the dough into the stone.

Drizzle additional olive oil on the dough (about 1 Tbsp.) and then sprinkle garlic seasoning on top--I used Johnny's Garlic Seasoning and Spread, probably around 2-3 tsp.  Sprinkle about 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes.  Slice with a pizza slicer and serve.

This recipe is linked to:

Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
Blessed With Grace Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap  

Sunday, March 28

Menu Plan Monday

Those burritos finally got eaten...yay!  But...I didn't get to the seafood linguine, so that's a repeat for this week.  We got to go out last week (DH's work) so that was a special treat.  :)  I do love to cook, but a surprise night off is always nice! 

Sunday-Shepherd's Pie Stuffed Potatoes

Monday-Spaghetti, homemade bread sticks (recipe to come this week), green beans

Tuesday-Maccaroni & Cheese, green salad

Wednesday-Seafood Linguine, French Bread, Green Salad

Thursday-Asian Chicken Salad


Saturday-Enchiladas, Black beans

For other great menu ideas, visit here.

Thursday, March 25

By George, I Think I've Got It!

After some chastising encouragement from my mom, I have been making the effort to take the Peanut to the park every day.

Well, almost every day.  I figure if I get there at least five days a week, I am doing really good.  Either way, it is good advice.

So yesterday we did just that after running some errands.  Previously, I had been taking her to the park, letting her burn off energy and then we would come home, have a snack and then she would crash for 2-3 hours and then not sleep well that night.

Yesterday, however, we let her burn off energy at the park, then she had a snack when we got home, and then we let her crash--but only for about an hour.  DH got her up then from her nap and we all watched Idol together--you know some good family time.


We then put her to bed for the night and she slept for 9.5 hours straight!   

I know...this isn't rocket science.  It must be the Daddy component of waking her up...because I have tried to wake her up after a short nap in efforts to get her to sleep better that night...but it doesn't work for me.  I bring her downstairs and she just wants to snuggle and then she falls right back asleep.  I guess I need to turn on the TV or some music to wake her up completely.

She is so funny at the park when anyone walks by on the trail, rides their bike past us, or the maintainence man rides by on his big lawn name it, she wants them to know she is there.  She starts running to "keep up" with whoever it is and says "HI" and then starts jabbering away so just in case they weren't aware, now they surely can't miss her. 

And am I the only one who struggles with fixing their 18 month old girl's hair?  The Peanut does. not. want to sit still for ANY length of time.  Plus, she has also started shaking her head (this is in addition to the wiggling in general) while I try to fix her hair in efforts to get me to let go of her hair.  Pig tails are so cute, but if I can even get them in, they only last so long as her hair is still baby fine and by the end of the day it starts to slip out.  Maybe its still not quite long enough?  I was able to snap a few the other day before it all fell out...

What a blast she is!  Most of the time....

Tuesday, March 23

To The One Who I Can Always Count On

My Dad is a very special man.  Although my Mom is the one I go to for most advice, my Mom has always said that my Dad's gift is discernment.  I completely believe that God made males and females different and most men think about things with less emotion.  While my Mom has the gift of loyalty--my Dad looks at things more objectively and with less emotion.  'Cause guys can do that. 

My Dad is the one who convinced me to major in what I was passionate about while I was in college.  In addition, I owe all my political leanings to my father. And with great appreciation, no less. Although he and I tend to agree on nearly all issues, he that taught me to think for myself.  He also taught me the value of trickle down economics and compound interest

My Dad is a really handy guy.  He can fix or remodel absolutely anything.  When I lived at home, he always maintained my cars--checking my oil, checking my tire pressure and fluid levels--and he still continued to do so even after I moved out.  He's replaced the brakes on my cars, made sure my wheels were in alignment and replaced my tires when I didn't have the money to do so. 

He owns a duplex that he let me live in while finishing college--for half the market value of the rent and he let me paint and make the place my own.  He didn't let other other tenants do that.  He even built my first kitchen table--made to order, just how I wanted it. 

When DH and I bought our first house, we made sure to get his input (and my mom's too) about the kind of house we should purchase.  He was there for the first showing of the house we ended up buying, as his opinion is always trusted. 

DH and I  had a huge list of things that we wanted to improve in our new home.  While DH was willing to learn and tackle these new projects, he didn't always know where to start.  My Dad was there each step of the way, showing DH how to install new doors, crown molding, granite tile, laminate flooring, run speaker wires, hang cabinets...the list goes on and on. 

During the time that DH and I were struggling about what to do with his job situation, I knew I could always turn to my Dad for advice.  And even though he looked for every opportunity for us not to move, calling each day with some new job opening he suggested DH pursue, in the end he reassured me that DH and I had made the right choice.  The night we moved here, my Dad assured me, while fighting back tears, that it was evident that God's hand was in our choices, as everything had fallen into place.

When we had problems with our former renters and had to find new renters, and with DH and I hundreds of miles away from our house,  my Dad took care of nearly everything.  He made repairs, painted walls, and hauled off garbage.  He showed the house to prospective new renters at a moments notice and spent too many hours to count getting our house rent ready.  He and my mom also cleaned the house from top to bottom. Simply put--we wouldn't have been able to pull it off without him.

He has also become a wonderful Grandfather.  The Peanuts absolutely ADORES her Grandpa, or "Pop" as she affectionately calls him.  It's a mutual admiration between the two.  They are like Peanut Butter & Jelly, Salt & Pepper, the Skipper and his Little Buddy.  They were meant for each other.  When I was little I called my Grandpa "Papa"  and it's no coincidence that Peanut's name for her Grandpa is "Pop."  It is so sweet.  

(Yes, this picture was cropped--how sad that the most recent picture I have of the two of us together is from nearly two years ago.  If you can't tell {ha, ha} I am pregnant with the Peanut)

Thank you Dad, for who you are and for what you have taught me to be.  Thank you for loving me, even when I was unlovable.  

 What a blessing my Dad is.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Monday, March 22

The Best Ever Muffins

Shortly after the Peanut was born, one of the gals from my Bunco group brought over a meal for my family for dinner.  (Sidenote--I never realized what a blessing that is, of course until I had my own Peanut.  I just did not feel like cooking, so to all those that helped in that way...thank you again.  I have made sure to pay it forward.  :)  In addition to the dinner, she also brought us this wonderful breakfast bread.  At least we ate it for breakfast.  Anyhow, it was so good.  I called her up shortly after to get the recipe.  And I have made it again and again.  And now I am sharing with you so you can make it again and again too. 

The only thing about it is that if making a loaf, it takes nearly an hour to bake and I am not like the pioneer women who in their day, got up at o'dark thirty to prepare the morning meal.  So I bake these as muffins instead.  And they are just as tasty. 

Oatmeal Tea Bread (or Muffins)

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  You will need:

1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup oats (quick or old fashioned, it doesn't matter)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (I usually do more)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup flour

Mix together the wet indgredients.  Sift together dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Mix both together until just moistened.  Pour into sprayed loaf pan or muffin tins.


2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp chopped pecans
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix together and sprinkle over loaf or muffins prior to baking.  Bake loaf for approximately one hour or bake muffins for about 20 minutes. 

Slather in butter (me--I never do that) and enjoy! 

This recipe is linked to:

Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
Blessed With Grace Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap  

Finding Joy in My Kitchen's Countdown to 2011: Breakfasts

Sunday, March 21

Menu Plan Monday

Things went better this last week than the week before, but those poor burritos keep getting bumped.  *Sigh*  So they will make a reappearance once again this week.  I also found a new recipe for Mexican Chicken from the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap that I am going to try.  It sounds a lot like the Chicken Parmesan  I make, but with a Mexican twist instead, so I am excited about that one.  :) 

Sunday-Chicken Dijon over Rice, green beans

Monday-Baked Potato Bar with chili, broccoli, sour cream, cheese, green onions (I buy the big baker potatoes at Costco because you can't beat the price, so you know I have a big bag waiting to be used when this appears frequently on the menu plan  :)

Tuesday-Mexican Chicken, Black Beans

Wednesday-Seafood Linguine, Broccoli, Crusty Bread

Thursday-Burritos with taco meat, black beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa, Spanish rice

Friday-Pizza with homemade crust & sauce, green salad


For other great menu ideas, visit the Organizing Junkie

Friday, March 19

A Day at the Park

So those shadowy days I talked about before are just few and far between in these parts.   

Not that I am complaining.  It's just the Photoshop can only do so much to edit sunny face photos.  :)

Anyhow, we had some really nice days over DH's "weekend" and we were able to get out and go to the park to enjoy some of this beautiful weather. 


I learned some walking trail etiquette as well.  I've stated many times I am not an outdoorsy or sportsy kind of gal.  Let's just say I avoid perspiring altogether and I am not "in the know" of all those outdoorsy/sportsy "rules."

As we were walking along the paved trail, with DH pushing Peanut in the stroller and I walking beside him, we hear this Lance Armstrong wannabe bicycler yell out behind us, "ON YOUR LEFT!" telling us to move over. Apparently this is standard for those moving faster than others on the trails.  To me though, I just thought it was really rude. 

I quickly learned the ropes though.


We walked down towards the river away from all the jungle gym structures so Peanut could roam without playing on any germ infested toys any interruptions.  I know, I know.  I am paranoid.  I fully admit it.  I just don't want her getting sick.  Everything still goes in her mouth.  (Her eyeteeth just cut through.)  Toddlers don't think about the fact that "I just touched a surface that probably a 1000 other children have and now I going to suck on my fingers and rub my eyes and nose", but I do.  Have I mentioned I don't want her getting sick?  I know I can't control everything, but if I can prevent her from encountering needless amounts of germs, I will.  And you know what?  The Peanut still had a wonderful time.  So it's okay. 

I'll get off my soap box. 

All that said, I did let her touch and play with a leashed dog ("daw" as the Peanut would say) a woman was walking on the trail.  But not before the owner assured us her dog was harmless and wouldn't maul our little girl. 

Peanut thought that was grand fun.  I still sterilized her hands afterword

It was good for all of us to get outside and enjoy each other and the sunny day.  And when it was time to go, the Peanut let us know under no uncertain terms that she was NOT happy about it~

...such a sad face.

But she was tired to point of tripping over her little self as she walked and it was time to go.

She had so much fun that she was "out" before we even got out of the parking lot and she slept the whole way home and for about 2 hours thereafter...

...I guess we just wore her out. 

Monday, March 15

Slow Cooker Roast Pork and Black Bean Chili

I was inspired by Rachael Ray's recipe for her Roast Pork and Black Bean Chili.  This recipe is intended to use leftover roast pork and gravy from another one of her recipes, but I thought this soup sounded so good and I am always on the look out for a yummy pork recipe.  I actually made my own version of this in the slow cooker several months ago, and although I was really happy with how it turned out, I forgot to take a picture.  Go figure!  Well, I remembered this time and it was just as tasty!  And it's super easy, so what's not to like?

Slow Cooker Roast Pork and Black Bean Chili   (Jackie's version)

1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, diced
2 tablespoons chili pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
2 cups chicken stock
2 cans black beans, drained
2 pork steaks, about 3/4-1 pound (total)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Spray slow cooker pot with cooking spray and mix all ingredients together.  Set slow cooker to medium low or allow for about 6-8 hours to cook through.  Pork should be very tender.  Remove pork steaks and shred with two forks.  Mix the shredded pork back in the soup.  Season with additional salt or pepper if necessary.  Serve with cilantro, sour cream, and chipotle hot sauce for garnish.  I also served this with homemade cornbread on the side.  Yum!

This recipe is linked to:

Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
Blessed With Grace Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap  

Life as Mom Ultimate Recipe Swap 
We Are THAT Family's Works For Me Wednesday  

All Dressed Up

I was able to get some pictures on our unexpected trip to HomeTown this week.  Because I am cheap frugal, I didn't want to go out and buy a black dress for the Peanut to wear.  Plus, I think a black dress on an 18 month old is a little inappropriate.  I don't know if inappropriate is necessarily the right word, but they grow up fast enough, so I see no need to speed up the attire, you know?

Grandma of course is always way ahead of the game and got her an Easter dress several weeks ago.  Grandma also bought her this wonderful pink coat for her birthday for this last winter, so the Peanut also was able to wear that for the second time.  Although it's darling, the coat is not that practical.  But that's what Grandma's are for, right?  To indulge.  To top it off, the shoes were hand me downs from my cousin's little girl.  White shoes would have been perfect, but being um...frugal, I didn't want to spend the money on shoes that would be worn once.  Or twice in this case.  So black shoes it was.

Plus the Peanut was enthralled with the little heel on the shoes.  Again though, why does an 18 month old need a heel? was still cute to watch her looking down at her shoes.

As I look at these pictures, I also find it funny that the Easter dress manufacturers make these little flimsy, often times sleeveless, dresses for spring.  It is spring.  Not summer.  And where we live, and I suspect probably more than 75 % of where the nation lives, the climate does not warrant the type of weather to wear such dresses.  Silly, isn't it?


And the Peanut was definitely all worn out on the drive home, as she looked like this for about three quarters of the way...

Can't hardly believe she's ours.


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