Monday, October 31, 2011

Tad Cooks Biscuits and Gravy!!

Thursday is National Men Make Dinner Day!! Luckily, I have a husband who can whip up a few things, and biscuits and gravy is one of his specialties! I didn't grow up in the south, and I had never even had biscuits and gravy before I met him! It is his family's Christmas morning breakfast tradition, and one year he learned how to make it via a phone conversation with his sister, Anna. Now, he has perfected it, and it is requested by me from time to time! It is one of my all-time favorite meals!
I think the first time I tried biscuits and gravy, it was either Tad's or his family's, and ever since then I have tried it at different restaurants and such, and have never had any that compares!! We like to make a batch with spicy sausage if we are making a lot, and make a pan with the regular sausage for the kids or other people who don't like the spice. But both are equally flavorful and yummy!

Okay. I will give you the Tad, not-so-exact recipe because I didn't even know how he made it until I wrote this post! First, you put the bacon on a cookie sheet and bake until it is crispy. He never sets a timer for anything, so he just waits awhile and then checks on it! Drives me crazy!

He then browns a whole package of sausage in a pan, and removes it, leaving the grease. To the grease, he slowly adds a little flour and a little milk, whisking it until it is thick and combined, and then keeps adding milk and flour to make a nice, thick gravy. Once you have the gravy at the consistency you want, add the crumbled bacon and sausage into the gravy.
The other man in my life had to help too! He was actually being really fussy and wanted Tad to hold him just then, so he got to "help!"

Make whatever biscuits you have on hand, or make them from scratch if you prefer. We always just buy the ones in the can! We like to break them up into pieces first, or you can just split them and top with gravy! Delicious!!!

Seriously one of my favorite meals! And such a treat to not have to cook! Thanks, babe!
Isn't he cute???

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I am beginning to really love Saturdays. Our weeks are so packed with schooling, swim lessons, church, MOPS, a homeschooling group/field trips, OB appointments, homeschool classes, and other random things that come up, that Saturdays are a nice break from it all! Somehow, I rarely have anything planned on Saturdays, and Tad usually works in the afternoon, so it's kind of a chill day for us around here. I love it. Because of my recent reading of Large Family Logistics, which I have mentioned lately, I have dubbed my Saturdays my kitchen day. I have not begun to master this, but my intention is to do my baking, extra cooking, and kitchen cleaning on this day. It seems like I never am in the kitchen as much as I mean to be, but with a toddler who constantly wants my attention and a 5 year old with lots of energy, it is hard to spend that much time in there!
This morning was glorious. Wake up with the husband. Have homemade waffles for breakfast. Eat leisurely at the table while the kids play. Have fresh-squeezed orange juice. Drink some pumpkin spice coffee. Then it got a little crazy as we were playing catch-up with school for Maddy since we had such a crazy week. But we got it all done this morning, so this afternoon the kids could just play and we could meander around and play, clean, and cook. We have yet to get our cookies baking in the oven, but it's nice to have nowhere to go tonight, no plans for today, and time to just relax a little!

Saturdays are a joy in my week. What are your little moments of joy during the week that keep you sane? Something you look forward to every week?

Thank you, Lord, for Saturdays. You know this mama needs rest. Thank you for providing it!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Outdoor Fall Decor

I am so excited this year to decorate outside for the Fall season!! It might sound really silly, but living in Chicago all those years in a little apartment didn't allow for us to decorate outside!! We had a tiny little balcony that I could put a small table and a plant on, but other than that, not even a front porch!!
We were glad to see that the people who previously lived here had planted mums all across the front of the flower bed, which stayed green all through the cold and hot months. We trimmed them once or twice, and now they are in full bloom! They are mostly a deep red/maroon color and one of them is getting some burnt orange flowers too! There is also another mum (or other plant) that is getting buds and I'm wondering what they will look like!!

I also bought a few mums and pumpkins to put out on our porch since it is pretty big. When we first moved in, the porch seemed pretty empty with nothing on it, and it took us awhile to figure out what we wanted on there and to find stuff for it! But with the mums and pumpkins, it is looking more full! We got the chairs for about $20 from a thrift store, and the baskets that the mums are in and the little rocking chair are from a garage sale!!

Here is my little man watering the yard. Well, the driveway. Okay, he is just playing with the hose!!
Pretty soon, the little pumpkins will come inside, since they are pie pumpkins and I will have to put them to good use!! We will carve our pumpkins this weekend, toast the seeds, and then I might have to figure out what to do with the porch again!! I will also probably have to plant the mums I got from the store in the side part of the flower beds.
Any ideas for another bare porch once the flowers/pumpkins are removed??
Happy Fall!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Apple Galette

This looks beautiful and is seriously the easiest thing to make!! I had a lot of apples, and was in the mood for an apple pie. So I was looking at one of my favorite websites, Pinch My Salt, for a recipe for apple pie. I found this delectable looking thing, called a Galette, which I had never heard of, and she called it the No Fear Apple Pie. Sounds good to me! I was prepared to make a pie crust from scratch, but this is even easier!!
Since she posted it in blog style, and not a formal recipe, I will try to break it down for you, but here is her site if you just want to read her rendition!! With pretty pictures!!

1. Start by peeling, coring, and slicing about 4 apples. My apples were really small so I used about 6, and I probably could have used even more since there was so much crust!! Mix the apple slices in a bowl with about a 1/4 cup of sugar, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a tablespoon of flour.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
3. For the Galette pastry:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into pieces (one stick)
3 Tbs. ice water

Pulse flour and salt in a food processor to combine. Add in the butter and pulse until the largest pieces are about the size of peas. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, and pulse to mix. If you don't have a food processor, you can use a whisk, your fingers, or a pastry cutter.
4. Dump the flour and butter mixture on a floured surface and press into a disc shape. You can wrap this up and refrigerate for a couple of days, or continue on to use it immediately. Roll the dough into a large circle, using flour on the rolling pin and on top of the dough to prevent sticking. Roll it to about 1/8 inch thick, patching any holes.
5. Wrap the dough around your rolling pin and transfer it to your cookie sheet. It's fine if it overlaps the cookie sheet, it is suppose to!!
6. Add the apple mixture into the center, and drop a few small pieces of butter over them, if desired. Now, fold the pastry over the apples in a circle formation, leaving the center uncovered. Patch any holes so that the apple filling doesn't run out during cooking.
7. Beat one egg with a splash of water and brush over the top of the pastry. Sprinkle some sugar over the whole thing if desired.
8. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes!

It seriously does not take much time, and it is as good as an apple pie!! Great with vanilla ice cream!! I know I'm apple-ing everyone out. Don't worry, it's almost over!!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Book List

Not that I have a lot of free time these days, but I have been spending a little bit more time reading. It's hard for me to just sit and read a mass amount of a book, because I usually have so many "chores" or household things to take care of, or school lessons for prepare, or laundry to fold that I have a hard time just sitting and not doing something else. But I currently have 3 books that I read on different occasions, so I thought I would tell you my thoughts on them thus far, and hopefully someday, I will finish them!!
Don't mind the "click to look inside" on these books; that's how they saved from Amazon. But if you go to you can find these books for great prices! The first book I will reference is Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp. This is the book I have read the least of so far, so I don't have much to write about. It does seem like a great book on parenting, and I wanted to read it because I had several people recommend it and Moody Church was actually doing a parenting bible study on this book. So I had wanted to read it for awhile!! Every once in awhile I feel like I just need a new, fresh perspective on parenting, and I'm excited to get more into this book!
I ordered this book at our church's mini-women's retreat. I read this book as my little devotional, so I just read a few pages at a time. I had read Choosing Forgiveness by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and it was excellent, so I already knew that format and what the book would be like. There is also a 30 day devotional at the end of the book, which I like for some added guidance through the book and time to meditate on the concepts and work them into your own life. I only have a couple chapters left in this book, and it is very encouraging. There are encouraging stories about people who have displayed gratitude despite some major life hurdles, and it is humbling and helps you get some perspective on your own life. We are commanded to "do everything without grumbling or complaining" and "in everything to give thanks." It's not just for the super self-disciplined, it is a command to every believer!!
This last book has saved me lately!! It is called Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman and it is not just for those who have a large family!! Lately, because I had been so sick all summer, have had a lot to catch up on, and was totally out of sync with my normal, household chores, I was getting really overwhelmed with everything I needed to do. And everything seemed like it was caving in around me. To the average eye, it might not have looked that bad. But I knew the deep cleaning that needed to get done, and just the surface cleaning and regular, daily chores were enough that I was getting bogged down. In my last post, I said that I had talked to my mother-in-law and she helped me with some practical advice. She also lent me this book, and it has been my household guide lately!! I had such a better week this past week just by incorporating some of the principles from this book!! This morning I woke up relaxed and happy because the laundry was all done and folded, the sink was clean and the dishes were done, and I actually took a bath last night and got to relax!! All I needed were a few ways to organize and prioritize what needed to be done, and I felt like I could accomplish so much more!!
This book is amazing as it highlights the role of the homemaker as well as practical steps to get everything done in an organized fashion! And I mean everything!!!! And for me it was practical in that it referenced homeschooling and ways to get things done while homeschooling!! What I love about this book is that each chapter is only a few pages. So if you are struggling with one particular area, you can flip to that specific chapter, get some ideas, and get working on it!! You don't have to read the book cover to cover to understand what she is talking about!! So it's totally practical for the busy, overwhelmed, stay-at-home mom!
So anyways, that's what's on my stack of books to read write now and like I said hopefully one day, I will finish a book!! If you have read any of these books, please feel free to leave a comment of what you thought!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Retreat. Really, a word that every mom can resonate with, or at least hope for quite frequently. I was not planning on taking a retreat at any time in the near future, but God knew I was ready for one. I was feeling overwhelmed, overloaded, busy, and like I didn't have the energy to keep up with it all. First of all, I talked to my mother-in-law, and she helped me with some of the practical aspects of getting all of the important things done, and getting my priorities in order. The words of encouragement were much appreciated!!
Second of all, there was a Women's Retreat coming up for our church ladies. The sign-ups had been up for months and months. I had never been on a Women's Retreat, and I never thought I would be able to go since Tad would have to work. So I never gave it a second thought. Ironically (but not really), Tad's work schedule got changed about 3 days before they were suppose to leave, and he got the whole weekend off. His boss put a notice in his box that changed all of his days off, giving him that specific weekend off. Coincidence? I think not! God knew where I was. He heard my cries. I believe He planned the entire situation!
So Tad talked to the Pastor's wife and signed me up, at the very last possible time, and I got to experience a wonderful time away from home! Not that I don't love my family, but this was only the 3rd time I have been away from being a mom since Maddy was born! The retreat was just what I needed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The food was amazing, the free time was much needed, and the sessions we went to spoke to my heart and challenged me right where I was at. It was about cultivating the fruits of the Spirit in our lives. But I have a tendency to focus on what I need to be doing, and what I'm not doing right. The biggest thing that stuck out to me for the weekend was, "You don't grow by trying, you grow by abiding." (John 15) That was exactly what I needed to hear. The most important thing right now for me is to be with God daily. Whether that's for a half hour, praying while I'm going about my day, meditating on Scripture, or being still to listen to Him, I need to just be with Him. That's where the fruit comes from. The fake fruit comes by me trying with all my might to please Him. It usually doesn't last long. It's when He is doing the work in my heart that the fruit naturally pours out. And that's where I want to be.
So, thanks God. You knew I needed those 2 days to rest, relax, be refreshed, and take a break. I came back with a new perspective, and with gratitude that my husband took care of the kids for the weekend!
God is so good!

So thankful for these ladies!! Women from our Calvary Chapel!

Head on over to Alicia's Homemaking to read other women's new adventures! Just click on the button!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ham and Potato Soup

You know you want this soup!! It is warm, cozy, fall-time goodness! I have been making a corn chowder for a few years and have kind of gotten sick of it, but I wanted to make some kind of potato soup. When I was looking up recipes, this ham and potato soup had over 5,000 reviews and over 193,000 people had saved it!! That's when you know a recipe is worth trying!!
On, I always try to pick recipes that have lots of reviews, a high number of stars (for the rating), and that a lot of people have saved. This sure fit the bill!
You could easily double this recipe, as I did, and we still didn't have leftovers for more than a couple days. It was delicious!! I had guests over the night I served this and they loved it as well! My sister-in-law said it was nice that the base wasn't bacon grease, like the corn chowder we have all been making! I actually made this soup in the afternoon while the kids took their naps, and then stuck it in the crockpot. It kept it warm and as it sat in there (on auto, I didn't cook it anymore), it actually thickened up quite a bit. It's delicious! You need to try it!!

Ham and Potato Soup

3 1/2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup diced cooked ham
3 1/4 cups water
2 Tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 tsp. ground white or black pepper, or to taste
5 Tbs. butter
5 Tbs. all-purpose flour
2 cups milk

1. Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham, and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium-heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt, and pepper.
2. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and a cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot and cook soup until heated through. Serve immediately.

In hindsight, I would use less chicken bouillon and less pepper, or switch from white pepper to black pepper. I really liked mine, but it was a little spicy for the kids, and all that white pepper was a lot.
Once the soup was done, I just grated some cheddar cheese, picked and chopped some scallions from the garden, and fried up some bacon to go with it. Add some yummy bread alongside, and you have yourself an amazing, cozy fall meal!! Take it from me, it will be a hit! And a great meal for entertaining!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Apple Butter and a Pregnant Pic!

I have made this amazing apple butter recipe for at least the last couple of years and it is amazing! The best part about it is that it is delightfully easy! It makes a lot and is a crockpot recipe so the house smells of warm apples all day long! I actually plan to make it when I'm going to be home so I can smell it cooking! This time, I used half-pint mason jars and it made 8 jars of apple butter. I put one in the fridge and the rest in the freezer and pull one out when we need one!
The great thing is my kids love apple butter, especially Maddy, so I think we will go through it pretty fast! Would you believe we used more than half of the first jar in the first day after I made it? I might need to put restraints on Maddy!

These are horrible, dark shots but it was late and after it had been cooking all day, I wasn't going to wait to take the pictures! I wish I could say I had some fancy canning apparatus or something, but honestly, when I have made jams and butters I have actually just put them into jars and popped them into the freezer and fridge. I should look into actually "canning" stuff, but up until now, I just haven't.
Here's the super easy recipe:

All Day Apple Butter

5 1/2 pounds of apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
4 cups of white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Place the apples in a slow cooker. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Pour the mixture over the apples in the slow cooker and mix well.
2. Cover and cook on high 1 hour.
3. Reduce heat to low and cook 9 to 11 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.
4. Uncover and continue cooking on low 1 hour. Stir with a wire whisk, if desired, to increase smoothness.
5. Spoon the mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate, or freeze.

I also did some research and 1 pound of apples is approximately 3 cups. So I used about 15 to 16 cups of apples. It did take some time to peel, core, and chop that many apples, but in the end it was worth it! I think you will love it!

And, since I haven't posted a pregnant pic anywhere yet, here is the latest, at about 20 weeks along. Halfway!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Try New Adventures Thursday...Cake Reveal

We had our mid-pregnancy ultrasound the other day! We decided instead of opting to find out the sex of the baby right there on the spot, we would wait a little bit! We saw a special on "Good Morning America" about a cake reveal party. This is where you have the ultrasound technician write down the sex of the baby on a piece of paper and you bring that piece of paper to a bakery! They make you a cake with white icing or something plain, and then the inside of your cake is either pink of blue, depending on the sex. So when you cut into it, you find out what you are having! It did sound a little dorky at first, but when they showed different couples' home videos of finding out this way, with family and friends, it sounded fun! And since my sister-in-law works at a bakery in town, it was perfect! She actually made our cake! Didn't she do a great job?
In our case, with our 2 other kids, we thought this would be a creative idea. Especially since we live near family now! Judah didn't really get it, but Maddy definitely did! We prepped Maddy about what we were doing, and made sure that she understood what the colors meant. She refused to accept the fact that it might be a boy, but we tried to get her ready!
So, without further ado, It's a....

Needless to say, Maddy is ecstatic about this! And so are we. I did have a hunch this whole time since I was very sick with Maddy and not with Judah, but the ultrasound tech threw me for a loop! She didn't tell us the sex, but she did say that she wrote one thing down, and then changed her mind and crossed it out! So that made me think it was a boy! So I was actually surprised!!
We are thrilled, and on the train to choose the name! We are getting there! Hope you are as excited as we are!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

10 Random Joys

Sometimes it's really easy to get bogged down with all the work that needs to be done around the house, the ill-behaviors of the kids, or my husband working overtime and being gone more. I can easily get depressed about being away from my good friends and family in Chicago and Ohio, not keeping up with the house as much as I'd like, and the fact that I'm only about halfway through my pregnancy!!
But what I really need to do is to stop and thank God for all the many blessings He has given to me and my family. We didn't even know if we would be able to get pregnant with our second and here we are with a third on the way! God is so good. I'm always reminding Maddy that "every good and perfect gift is from above..." So I thought it would be a good time to remind myself and encourage you to remind yourself of all the blessings that you are being showered with right now, be it big or small, and to not let Satan surround your heart with the negative.

  1. I love this time of year, when the leaves are falling, school and schedules are in full swing, and the weather is finally cooler!
  2. Yummy, fresh omelets!
    Adding different, fresh vegetables adds such variety and taste!

  3. Two special kids who love to play together and do things together!

  4. Fun, random day trips with the family!

  5. Our fun, new dog that everyone loves playing with! Well, except when she is biting, nipping, and scratching. But that's besides the point!
  6. Being part of small town fun! We got to go to a local Frontier Festival where Maddy rode a pony and we watched a parade that ended with a herd of cattle walking down the street!

  7. Swim lessons for Maddy! She has really enjoyed her little class and learning new things in the water!
  8. Homeschool fun! I have learned how creative and smart Maddy is as she works on her lessons, learns more about her letters/numbers, and remembers the things she is learning!

  9. I'm so glad that I am feeling better and have so much more energy than before! It's helping me to get more things done that I need to get accomplished!
  10. Special family times! I love when we get to get out as a family and do things together! It looks different now than it did in Chicago, but that makes it fun! We are finding new things to do together on Tad's days off, and really having fun!

    My special big boy who really is almost done taking a bottle!! But isn't he cute???
Well, this sure brightens my mood! No matter what is going on in our lives, we can always find the good, and dwell on that! And not to mention that I have the most amazing, loving husband who I just can't get enough of! I still, after 6 years of marriage, hate when he goes to work, and treasure every hour of his days off! And surprise dates don't hurt, either! Love him!