Monday Happy List

What I'm Happy for Today:

Time to be at home all day today to organize the family room. One room down, whole house to go! How fabulous it feels to have at least one room {pretty much} organized!

A husband who gladly hangs curtains for me, and patiently moves the curtain rod "down more, over more, the other way" for the gazillionth time because he loves me.

A Christmas craft that gave me special one on one time with Grant while his sister was napping. How meticulous he was putting the "decorates" on the foam trees!

A day of {for-the-most-part} happy play and sharing between the kiddos! How I love having kids close together!

And lastly, I'm so happy for a Baby Girl who loves being held, and who loves her momma. :heart:

Sunday evening

We kind of played hooky from church this morning.

Yes, I'm a pastor's wife.


Really, we (the kids and I) just stayed home this morning - DH was preaching at another church, and though I was planning on going with him, the past week of traveling finally caught up with us and we needed to!

So, I cooked!

I came across The Pioneer Woman's Pot Roast Recipe.

{it's a big hunk of meat. I kinda get intimidated by them!}

But, I followed her step-by-step directions, and it came out fabulously. Tender, rich, juicy...the kids were almost shoveling it in. You need to try it! It's not at all dry or tough - it is excellent!

{carrots and onions on top of the hunk-o-beef}.

The littlest kept herself occupied in the pantry while I was browning the beef.

(sorry for the blur. it happens with a fast toddler and a too-slow shutter speed!)

And I loved that dinner was already to go, so we could spend some time outside this evening, and just come in and immediately eat!

pointing at an AIRPLANE!
kicking a ball!
throwing it HIGHER HIGHER!
Intent on finding something in the grass!

Baked Potato Soup, Trial 1

Grant had a rough couple of days last week - I think the 4 staples-in-the-head finally caught up with him!

Tuesday morning he was kind of out-of-sorts, so I thought a quick trip outside would help us all feel better. And, I had heard RAVE reviews about a certain potato soup recipe.

So, we went to a local grocery store Grant LOVES.

{who wouldn't love riding in a race car cart? and,they got free slushies from the cafe clerk!!}

I stocked up on potato soup ingredients - potatoes, onions, chicken stock, green onions, milk.

I got the Baby Girl settled into her nap, and Grant was settled into CARS {the greatest preschooler movie of all time}, resting on our bed, with his blankie and some Tylenol.

And then I started the Potato Soup!

The recipe was kinda involved, and start to finish it took me 1 1/2 hours! I l-o-v-e cooking, but 1 1/2 hours was a bit much, even for me.

So, after all this prep, I was excepting excellence, but...

My old stand-by potato soup recipe -

my mom's recipe! -

is absolutely, positively, better.

no question.

So, I'll make my mom's recipe this upcoming week and share it with you! Here's the bummer potato soup - it was okay, but definitely not worth sharing! So, all of you potato soup lovers, stay tuned!

{and, yes, the kiddos are in their jammies - mismatched jammies at that! I figured 4 staples in the head is an allowable reason for jammies in public}.

Perfect Pancakes and Waffles!

Our little guy had a rather traumatic weekend {ending with 4 staples in his head}, so I wanted to make him one of his favorite meals tonight - waffles! He l-o-v-e-s them!

So, here's my favorite recipe that I use for both pancakes and waffles! For our family, this makes enough for leftovers - which I freeze and then just pop out of the freezer, microwave or toast briefly, and then my favorite little guy has his favorite breakfast in a flash!

{and, fyi, on the menu for supper tomorrow - my FAVE tortilla soup!}

Perfect Pancakes and Waffles:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Mix together dry ingredients.
2. Add wet ingredients.
3. Stir.
4. Make pancakes or waffles. I have to spray my waffle maker to keep them from sticking!


Birthday Bliss

I know this is a food blog, but my 30th birthday was Thursday. The entire day was just, well, delicious, so I had to share it with you.

sleeping in.
a wonderful gift card to a gorgeous spa!
delicious lunch with my husband and children.
a gorgeous, crisp fall day.
walk through the park with the family.

It was a beatiful way to enter a new decade - with my sweet family.


I almost feel like a real grown-up now.

New Recipe for the week

I'm thinking that this recipe is going to be a must-try for this week's menu.


I think those are sure-fire ingredients for a stellar side-dish!

What's on your menu for the week? anything new? or anything fun for fall?

I'm going through my soup favorites to see what I want for this week. So excited for fall, and for fall cooking!

Sweet Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I was looking for a snack to take to Bible Study last night {no one told me that my Bible Study friends had planned to bring cake for my 30th!} when I came across this pumpkin recipe. It's just the hint of fall here - is it cool for you? Fall is just my {absolutely!} favorite season.

baked potato soup.
sweaters with leggings and boots.
cool mornings at the park.
red and golden leaves.
apple crisp.
brisk weather to run outside.
pumpkin spice coffee.
pumpkin pie.
Pottery Barn's fall catalog.

{Back to the pumpkin cupcakes}.

They turned out SO FABULOUSLY. I think they're more of a sweet muffin than a "cupcake" - the texture is a bit dense for a cupcake. Semantics aside, they're just fabulous. I think they'd be perfect for a fall brunch. They bake so beautifully - one friend at Bible study thought I had bought them.

Recipe: (I halved this recipe and got exactly 24 mini muffins).

2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, room temp
3/4 cup milk
1 cup pumpkin


1. Preheat oven to 375*. Line 24 mini muffins with paper liners.
2. Mix flour, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda together. Set aside.
3. Beat 1/2 cup butter, the white sugar and brown sugar together until mixture is light and fluffy (it will be noticeably lighter in color). Add the room temp eggs one at a time, letting each blend well before adding the next one.
4. Stir in the milk and the pumpkin.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups. (for mini muffins, I fill mine almost full).
6. Bake in the preheated oven for about 11-13 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched.
7. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:

I halved this recipe, too, since I halved the muffin recipe.

{this stuff is GOOD. so good}.

1 8-ounce package reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Beat in the powdered sugar a little at a time until smooth, then add the vanilla and cinnamon and beat until fluffy! Frost the cupcakes when cool!

Think you'll like them? Let me know what you've been baking for the start of fall!

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

So, do you see the {most-of-the-time} disclaimer in the description of the title? That's where this recipe falls! Sooo yummy, but not entirely healthy. But, hey, everything in moderation, right? {although I'm not so sure how much *moderation* we all practiced when eating these last night! :P}

This what the first time G1 has liked any mashed potatoes - so, actually, this recipe got made 2x within the past week! {more than I've made mashed potatoes in the past 3 months!}

The Process:

1. Dice about 6-8 smallish red potatoes. G1 absolutely loved helping me with this process! I had to score the potato sections for him, and then with his kid-friendly knife he could "cut" the rest.

2. Place in a small stock pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil.

3. Boil for about 7-8 minutes, until the potatoes are fall apart when you pierce them with a fork.

4. Drain and then dump them back in the same pot.

5. Sprinkle the top with garlic powder.

6. Add about 1/4 cup milk, 4 tablespoons butter, and about 1/4 cup sour cream. (see, I told ya about the {not-so-healthy} disclaimer! :P

7. Sprinkle with kosher salt {about 1 teaspoon} and pepper.

8. Using a large serving fork, mash them in the pan. I just stir and stir and stir and press the back of the fork into the potatoes - depending how smooth you like them. We like this style of potatoes kinda lumpy!

Enjoy! My husband, myself, and both Gs ate ALL of these!

Caramelized Butternut Squash

Thanks to Ina Garten for this fabulous recipe!! It was a little prep-time-intensive (probably took me 30 minutes to get it in the oven), but it was SOOO worth it. Our whole family ate it, and G2 was using *both* of her cute, chubby little hands to get it in her mouth as fast as she possibly could! {seriously - shoveling in squash! who woulda thought?}

So, cut the ends off of and peel a medium-sized butternut squash. A veggie peeler is super easy! Spoon the seeds out, and dice into about 1" - 1 1/2" cubes.

Line a 9 x13 pan with aluminum foil (easy clean-up!) and spray with cooking spray. spread the squash cubes out on the pan.

Mix 3 tablespoons unsalted melted butter, 1/8 cup brown sugar, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Withe clean hands, mix together the butter mixture onto the squash. Spread the squash out on a single layer on the pan again.

Bake at 400* for about 45-50 minutes, or until squash is fork tender and the sauce begins to caramelize.

Enjoy! {we ate it with green beans and brown rice!}

Can't find Steel Cut Oats?

I've had a few people say they can't find steel cut oats for my crockpot oatmeal recipe. In Meijer they're in the speciality flour/grains section - in the baking aisle.

In Target they're by the regular oatmeal, just way up on the top shelf. Hope this helps some - it's a fabulous recipe, and I'd love to hear if you like it! :D I'm making this again tonight for the Preschooler's first day of school tomorrow! :D

Incredibly Easy Fresh Green Beans

These are easy and yummy! I told The Preschooler that they'd make him strong like Mr. Incredible, and he actually ate them! ;P SO much better {so much!} than frozen green beans!

The Recipe:

(everything can be adjusted to your taste!)

1/2 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Boil green beans 6-7 minutes. Drain.
Add lemon juice, zest, and olive oil.
Sprinkle with kosher salt!

Hints: Take 10 minutes during naptime, or the night before, or during your Sunday veggie prep, or whenever you get 10 free minutes (between 2-4 in the morning? :P), and clean the green beans and put them in the fridge. I usually mix the lemon juice, olive oil, and lemon zest together ahead of time, too!

Then during supper prep you can just boil the water, toss the green beans in, drain them, and then mix in the lemon juice mixture! Easy and fast!

This is how yummy they are - when I was snapping the picture, The Preschooler grabbed a few more. :P

I'm a glass-half-full, eternal optimist kind of mom. I'm a laid-back, easy-going kinda mom - not a lot ruffles me. I try to CHERISH my time with my kids, because they grow oh so fast. I dumped a bag of rice out on the kitchen floor for Grant to play with his dumptrucks and bulldozers this morning...and I let Grace empty a container of wipes because she was having SO MUCH FUN doing it.

I let Grant play in the kitchen sink and get the counter a little wet. He can sometimes eat a popsicle before dinner. He's allowed to jump from the couch his beloved Pottery Barn chair and tumble over it laughing. He's only 3, and full of so much energy and enthusiasm...that all-too-soon will be grown and gone.

I stopped doing the dishes and held my tired baby girl this morning. I played peek-a-book with her and danced around the living room as she was full of giggles.

I am NOT a perfect mother...far from it. I just SO desire to be *intentional* with my kids...cherishing each moment, because my heart LOVES these days. I feel like in 30 years Matt and I will look back on these days and feel like they were some of the best days of our life.

I try to speak gently, love fully. I want JOY in this journey of raising little kids into adults that love God passionately - never do I want to wish away these little kid days. I love them. I love them so very much. Even when I'm tired, I want to make it a point to stop, pause, pray, and love on my wonderful kids...they're such treasures. Treasures!

Time Savor Tip!

Overall, I'd say my kids eat well.

Well, minus the random drive-through lanes where my son immediately starts asking for a hamburger with cheese when we're barely in the parking lot.

everything in moderation, right?

Anyway, I'd say that they really do eat well - the Boy is not {that} picky (for a 3 1/2 year old!), and the Baby Girl, well, she eats *everything* (except bananas and nuts, the first for taste and the second for allergies).

I love feeding them fresh fruits and veggies (don't all of us moms?), but sometimes the prep work is just too much in the middle of the day. Because, my kids get hungry right.this.instant. and don't want to wait the 2 minutes to wash and clean some strawberries.

So, on Sunday afternoons, I spend about an hour in the kitchen cleaning and cutting fresh fruits and veggies for the week. I put on some peppy music and just clean and cut and store! (My OCD organization freak gets a tad too excited at all of the matching tupperware containers in the fridge! :P)

That way, when they're hungry for lunch during the week, I can easily portion out "light saber sticks" (a.k.a. carrot sticks), strawberries, and grapes.

They eat SO much better when I do this, and it keeps our produce from going bad, too! Try it, and let me know if it helps you!

Crockpot Oatmeal

I am not a morning person. At all. Seriously, So, when I came across a recipe for crockpot oatmeal, I decided it was definitely for me.

So, at 10 o'clock on a Sunday night I haul out our crockpot, steel cut oats, water, an apple, and some half-and-half. SO EASY.

Results? It isfor sure going into our recipe rotation. and I am now on a mad hunt for more breakfast crockpot recipes! Our preschooler is starting, well, pre-school, in the fall for the first time and I so want to give him a nutritious, delicious breakfast (that he'll actually eat, ya know?)...he LOVED this oatmeal, and the Baby Girl ate her fair share, too.

Crockpot Oatmeal

3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 cup steel cut oats
1 diced apple

Mix everything together. Place in crockpot on WARM for 8-10 hours. Serves about 4.

Recipe hints: You can replace the half and half for non-fat milk for a lighter option. It serves about 4, depending - for our family my preschooler at a good-sized bowl, the Baby Girl had a bowl, and the husband had a generous portion...AND we still had what was left for the picture.

Definitely put it on WARM on the crockpot, or it would have started to stick. I did turn it to low for about an hour when I got up this morning to help it thicken - and, it was definitely thick! Depending on how you like your oatmeal, you can add more milk to your bowl and just stir it up to thin it a tad.


Sweet Boy

A very sleepy Grant just called me into his room. He was sitting up in his bed, covered with his blanket, and told me that he wanted me to raise the blinds in his room so he could see "daddy ride home on the airplane".


oh the cute!

Vacation Day #2

Spent at home, playing. :)

Vacation Day 3

At the Splash Park! Grant LOVES it. LOVES.IT.SO.MUCH. He just runs around laughing and squealing, weaving in and out of the different water structures. The splash park is FREE, and has TWO playgrounds, too! So one water area and two huge playgrounds - it's so fun! Plus about a dozen tables with under the shelter, so Grace and I sat in the shade for a majority of the morning watching Grant play.

pictures, of course!








Matt got a tad wet, too! lol! Next time we'll both wear better clothes so we can really play with Grant! :)


Snack time!



This is how Grace spent the morning...and drank all of her brother's drink!



and then tonight Grace showed us how she can CLIMB into her brother's PBK chair! (she did this pose ALL herself!)


She just might climb out of her crib before her brother does! lol!


We have a beaver

So, she's a gnawer!

This girl....

is doing this to her crib!

with 2.5 teeth!