Friday, December 4, 2009

Sleep Chronicles: Day 4 Through Week 3

Day 4 thru about day 10 Little Miss decided being in her crib alone was awesome playtime...she still went to sleep, just after a lot of rearranging of her bedding, tucking in her bear, laying back down, getting up and tucking him in again & plenty of talking.

Ry & I did not interact with her once we were sitting on the floor and kept eyes closed, pretending to be (and sometimes actually) falling asleep. This was just a phase, she has needed a few "ssshhh, time for sleep" reminders, but mostly she does pretty good. No tears, just playing. But I'd take the playing over the crying any day!

After about day 10 till now we've kind of plateaued at the following...She falls asleep, usually around 15 min, on a bad night when she's not tired enough, more like an hour (but that's our fault).

Oh, and we've been sitting all the way across the room, right by her closed door. Then once she's asleep, we open the door and exit, closing it behind us. (side note: we did not move across the room gradually like planned, we just did it one night & she was fine with it, so we never went back)

Yesterday I decided we needed to move past this plateau and get to our end goal - laying her down and leaving the room completely. So, for her nap today, everything was as usual but I left the door open and sat in the doorway, didn't faze her at all.

So tonight we did the same, but this time I sat even farther out of the room, but she could still see me. After a few minutes I heard her breathing deepen, so I took a leap of faith and quietly scooted into the hall, totally out of view.

I stayed there quietly waiting & listening before I pulled the door shut. But no, not asleep. She noticed I was gone and started with "Mommy, blankie?!", but she wasn't crying, so I just listened.

I couldn't see her, but I'm pretty sure at one point she was on her feet stretching to see out the door. Then when she got quiet again I made my way to our room across the hall & waited till she was totally asleep to pull the door shut.

Our little munchkin successfully put herself to sleep in an empty room tonight!!!
Miracle of miracles. Granted I kind of sneaked out, but still - progress!

Read what happens next...

Sleep Chronicles: The Finale

Or start at the beginning...

Sleep Chronicles: and So It Begins

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Pies 2009


Frozen Cranberry (a thanksgiving staple for my family)
  • 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1 8oz cool whip, thawed
  • vanilla to taste
  • 1 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • graham cracker crust
Mix cream cheese & vanilla until lumpy. Add cool whip. Then fold in already broken up cranberry sauce. Place in crust & freeze. Remove from freezer 5-10 min before serving. The key to this pie - do not over mix! Lumps are good!

Cream Cheese Pie (another super easy & tasty pie)
  • 1 pgk cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 8 oz cool whip, thawed
Mix cream cheese and sugar with beater until smooth in consistency. Then add cool whip and mix - comes out light, smooth, and fluffy. I like putting this one in an oreo crust & topping with cherry or raspberry pie filling.

Brownie Cheesecake (new this year - and SOO rich you can only have a small slice with a large glass of milk...but oh so good)
  • 1 pie crust (when making a lot of pies I get lazy and buy the pillsbury refrigerated kind...)
  • 1 pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 pkg Brownie Mix that comes with the hot fudge packet (around 15 oz - the only one I could find was 20 oz, so I just eyed it)
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Heat oven to 350. Prep pie crust in 9" pie pan. In medium bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and 1 egg; beat until smooth. Set aside. Reserve hot fudge packet from mix for topping. In large bowl, combine brownie mix, oil, 1 Tbsp water and remaining 2 eggs; beat 50 strokes with spoon. Spread 1/2 cup brownie mixture in bottom of crust-lined pan. Spoon and carefully spread cream cheese mixture over brownie layer. Top with remaining brownie mixture (which I added a little water too because mine was too thick, it also helped this layer stay on top of the cream cheese mixture instead of sinking into it) - spread evenly. Sprinkle with pecans. Bake at 350 for 40-50 min or until center is puffed and crust is golden brown. Microwave hot fudge till runny (around 30 sec), stir in remaining Tbsp of water. Drizzle fudge over top of pie. Cool completely. Store in fridge.

Caramelized Pecan Pie (my favorite! I have to have this every year)
  • 9" unbaked pie shell
  • 1/4 cup caramel topping
  • 2 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Place nuts in bottom of shell (I usually press them down a little), cover with caramel. Mix cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Blend in eggs. Pour over topping. Bake at 325 for 45 min. Chill. Garnish with additional nuts and caramel.

Lemon Supreme Cheesecake (new this year & everyone loved it)
Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cup vanilla water crumbs (about 40 cookies)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
Filling:
  • 3 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp grated lemon peel
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Topping:
  • 1 (10 oz) jar lemon curd, chilled (this was almost a little too much for me - next time I might just use 3/4 a jar, but everyone else liked it the way it was)
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream (the real kind, not cool whip)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
Heat oven to 325. Mix crust ingredients until combined. Press crumb mix in bottom of 9" ungreased spring form pan. In mixing bowl beat cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually beat in 3/4 cup sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time beating after each addition on low. Beat in 1 cup cream, lemon peel, lemon juice and salt until smooth. Pour over crust in pan. Bake 55-60 in or until set but slightly jiggly in center. Cool in pan on a rack for 20 min. Carefully loosen the sides of the pan, but do not remove from pan. Cool another hour and 30 min, then tighten the pan and refrigerate. In small bowl stir lemon curd until softened. Spread evenly over cheesecake within 1/2 inch from edge, refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight. Carefully loosen and remove from pan. Top with 1/2 cup whipped cream. (you could also garnish this with lemon curls and it would be really pretty - I like my food to be pretty)

Irresistible Apple Pie
  • Two 9" unbaked pie shells
  • 6 cups sliced, peeled apples (the thinner the better - Pink Ladies are my fav to use, tart is best!)
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp butter or marg.
  • 1-2 tsp milk
  • 1 tsp sugar
Toss apples & orange juice in large bowl. Combine brown sugar, sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Toss with apples until coated. Spoon into pie shell. Dot with butter. Moisten edge of pastry with water. Cover with top crust (I usually use a fork to press the edges down - it looks pretty and seals the pie). Brush top with milk & sprinkle with sugar. Carve in your signature design to let your pie vent. Cover with sheet of foil to prevent over browning. Bake at 400 for 40 min - remove foil - bake 10-20 min longer. Cool to room temp.

Custard (my dad's fav - I'm not a big fan, but it was the first one to go this year...so it's worth a try if you've never had it before)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups milk, scalded
  • 9" unbaked pie shell
Whip eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and vanilla until lemon colored. While still processing, add milk until well blended. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 350 for 30 min or until knife comes out clean.

Pumpkin - just a generic recipe on a can, so I'm not posting it, but the picture is pretty! =)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sleep Chronicles: Nap 3 & Night 3

NAP 3: 6 minutes
I'm not sure if this is the same little girl - or if someone switched babies on me. Usual pre-naptime routine, but once she realized I was about to put her in the crib she ran down the hall saying "nooo".

I just waited in her room, started the music, and she came back to give me a big hug. Maybe she clung to me like a monkey too. But once she was in her crib she stayed laying down, actually let me tuck her in, and didn't cry at all! Not a peep.

I told her the usual "I love you, I'll stay right here", while pointing to a spot on the rug. Four minutes of silence and she was out cold!! No thrashing around trying to get comfy or anything. This feeling I have right now, it must be similar to how it feels to complete potty training - I am ecstatic!!!

NIGHT 3: 23 minutes
Regular routine, prayers, then while giving daddy a goodnight hug she started getting upset. Just a little fussing. He left, I gave her big loves. Pointed out she got to sleep with her big girl pillow now since she goes to sleep like a big girl (a small pillow I made for her) - laid her down, no crying/fussing, a goodnight kiss "I love you, I'll be right here". And that was it! She laid quietly stroking the ear of Spot.

The only problem, her nap was so good today, she slept longer (and woke up happier from it) - so she wasn't quite as tired as usual. So it took about 20 minutes of laying quietly till she finally dozed off. No complaints from me, sometimes I have a hard time going to sleep too!

Oh, but I did peek a couple of times to find two little eyes glowing blue from the night light staring at me in silence, that was slightly creepy. But at least she wasn't crying! Now to just slowly make our way to the door & then to leave completely. Not sure how long that part will take. I'll probably post our progress in a week.

There is hope tired moms & dads!!

Read what happens next...

Sleep Chronicles: Day 4 Through Week 3

Or start at the beginning...

Sleep Chronicles: and So It Begins

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sleep Chronicles: Nap 2 & Night 2

NAP 2: 13 minutes
Pre-nap time was all the same, lunch, bum change, pick up toys - then I picked up Little Miss to carry her to her room so we could get extra cuddles in. She gave me big squeezes around the neck.

I also had been explaining to her while we picked up toys that it was almost naptime and she was going to go to sleep in her bed like a big girl & she would get to cuddle Spot (one of her favorite stuffed animals), keeping my voice light & positive.

One last hug & kiss. "I love you. Have a good nap. It's time for sleep. Cuddle Spot." I had barely started leaning over to tuck her in and she was crying and on her feet instantly. "I'll be right here (pointing to a spot on the rug). Time to sleep." I got comfy on the floor & closed my eyes.

She cried for all of 5 minutes, during which I calmly reminded her to sleep and lie down maybe 3 times. Then she gathered her cuddle items, got comfy and laid down. This needed praising - so I quietly whispered to her that she was doing so good laying down & I was very proud of her (trying to focus on the positive and not the negative).

By minute 10 she was deep breathing and asleep. Awesome!! Ten minutes to sleep! I'm loving this sleep training method! I hope it continues to work. Our ultimate goal: to be able to tuck her in, no tears, and leave the room...someday! I stayed an extra 3 minutes to ensure I wouldn't wake her while leaving.

NIGHT 2: 10 minutes
Ry was up to bat tonight & did awesome! We didn't want her to just get used to me & then have to start from square one with Ry, plus we like to rotate nights...wasn't quite sure if it was going to cause a set-back.

Usual bedtime, then she clung to Ry like a monkey as he put her in bed & tucked her in. She cried, not hysterically, for 2 minutes and that was it! She laid down & by minute 7 she was sound asleep. Minute 10 and he was out the door!

This is already leaps and bounds better than when we were rocking her. 10 minutes!? Seriously!? Umm...it's kind of a miracle. I feel like we should celebrate!

Read what happens next...

Sleep Chronicles: Nap 3 & Night 3

Or start at the beginning...

Sleep Chronicles: and So It Begins

Sleep Chronicles: Nap 1 & Night 1

NAP 1 - 75 minutes
I didn't intend to start at her naptime, but she was being super wiggly. So I calmy asked Little Miss in a nice voice if she would like to lay in her bed. She said yes. So I tucked her in and gave her bear & Spot & blankie (the essentials) to cuddle.

She loved this. I told her I loved her, I would stay there, and that it was time for sleep. I closed my eyes and didn't talk for the next 45 minutes...

During this time Little Miss would cuddle her animals, lay quietly, get up, tuck her animals in, lay down, get up, tuck them in...over and over again. Soon though, I smelled a needed bum change.

So I kept things quiet, talked little, and quickly changed her diaper. Right back into the crib she went. This time though, I couldn't stand anymore, so I sat in the rocking chair, but didn't rock. I closed my eyes, peeking every little while, but never letting her see my eyes open. She played for another 15 minutes, and every few minutes I had to tell her to lay down.

Then, she purposefully tossed her bear over the side and started with..."uh-oh, bear", and waited for my response. I did nothing.

She got increasingly concerned about her bear that she'd flung over the side and after a few minutes I opened my eyes, got bear, and before giving him back said calmy - "Do not toss him again, I will not pick him up. It's time for sleep. Lay down", gave bear back & resumed my position in the chair with eyes closed.

That was it. She had finally realized I would not be picking her up - time to sleep by herself. The crying began.

I kept my eyes closed and listened - a mother knows her child's cries. It was a, "look at me mom" tired cry, nothing serious. She wasn't hurt or scared. She just wanted to be in control. So I waited, every few minutes saying "Lay down", calmly with my eyes closed.

She would lay down angrily and look up every once in awhile, then get up and try again. This lasted all of 10 minutes before she was passed out cold in her crib, comfortably cuddling her bear.

The next trick - getting out of the old squeaky rocker without making a sound...what was I thinking!? Luckily, it didn't wake her & I was able to exit. Success!! From what I've read the first few times are the hardest...hopefully this proves true with Little Miss, she is super willful! But luckily, so is her mama!

NIGHT 1 - 20 minutes
Frantic crying/screaming...I think I'm gonna need some ear plugs, this girl's got lungs! And I think I lost any chance I had at getting the mom-of-the-year award. Luckily it was short lived.

Bedtime routine was the same - food, book, tubby, prayers, hugs & kisses...but instead of rocking her, I put her in her crib. Little Miss likes things explained to her, she handles things better that way.

So after daddy left the room I said very calmly, "You get to lay in your bed so you can learn to go to sleep like a big girl. Mommy will stay right here. I love you. Cuddle dolly. Time to sleep." And tucked her in. Instantly she knew what was up - she was on her feet and screaming, ticked. This girl was not about to let this happen again.

For 10 minutes she was hysterical, then slowed down around minute 12. During the first 10 minutes I would tell her "It's okay. Mommy's here. Time to sleep" - intermittently, but I think it only made her more mad.

By minute 14 she was laying quietly cuddling her bear and blankie. Minute 17 she was deep breathing and asleep. I stayed till minute 20 just to make sure she was in a deep sleep & I wouldn't wake her by leaving. Success! And in a shorter time! But I am worried that it was only that easy because she was tired (it was later than usual). We'll see tomorrow.

Also, I really do miss our cuddle time at night. It was hard to hear her cry like that and not get up to give her loves. It almost made me cry...but I said a silent prayer & kept reminding myself it was for her own good.

Just hope each time keeps getting better & I'll just have to give her extra cuddles during the day.

Read what happens next...

Sleep Chronicles: Nap 2 & Night 2

Or start at the beginning...

Sleep Chronicles: and So It Begins

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sleep Chronicles: and So It Begins

Little Miss is now 18 months old & we desperately NEED her to be able to put herself to sleep...yes, we still rock her to sleep for naps & night time. Ugh...so many hours of rocking her to sleep, I don't even want to think about it. Here's a little background as to how we got here...

Little Miss was colicky from week 2 to month 4, really bad colicky. And she had acid reflux, so to get the little one to stop screaming we let her fall asleep in her swing quite often.

At month 4 we moved, and with all the transition didn't think it was a good time to change her sleep routine either. Plus, we maybe didn't have a crib for a little while.

Finally around month 5 or so we moved her to the crib, but she would only go to sleep after being rocked (same motion as the swing) and sometimes only on her tummy. Then we would carefully put her in her crib & leave. She was still waking up every 2 hours (thanks to the jaundice she had from day 1-day 14 or her little life, we had to wake her every 2 hours to eat, so she got used to that).

For our sanity & to get some sleep ourselves, and not really knowing how to fix things - we'd take turns going in to rock her back to sleep. At month 9 enough was enough. With a little advice & motivating story of success from my friend Shauna, we got her to sleep through the night. Hallelujah!

We continued the rocking because it worked - she'd usually be asleep within 5 minutes & we didn't mind so much. If only I knew then what I know now...we trained her to need us to fall asleep, she cannot do it on her own.

For healthy development, she needs to know how. And for our sanity, we need her to know how. So...that brings us to where we are. The rocking isn't working anymore. Last night it took Ry 90 minutes to get the bug to bed, she just wouldn't relax, very wiggly.

Now it's time for the change, more sleep training, and I think we can do it.

We've read everything we possibly can & have come up with a solution that hopefully will work for us & our willful child - thanks Super Nanny (for writing about it in your book) and thanks dadjam.com for reading the book, implementing the technique, and then writing about the success.

So here we go, tonight's the night - wish us luck!

Have you had similar sleep issues with your toddler? Have any great tips to share?

Read what happens next...

Sleep Chronicles: Nap 1 & Night 1

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Apple & Pear Pork Roast

LOVE this new recipe!! So tasty and so easy - I love you crockpot. Thanks to my guinea pigs, who all approved! Ry really liked it...I think he ate half the roast himself!
Apple & Pear Pork Roast
  • 1 pork roast (3-4 lb)
  • 2 apples - peeled & sliced
  • 2 pears - peeled & sliced
  • 1/2 onion - chopped
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • salt/pepper to taste
Place roast in crockpot. Pour apple juice over the top. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Surround roast with sliced apples & pears & diced onions. Cook on low 6-8 hours, or high 4-6 hours.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger

It doesn't matter how perfect your marriage is - or how good a wife you are. You need to read this book at least once!! (or listen to the audio book because you drive a lot - like me) There is always room for improvement!

I really agreed with...pretty much everything. I loved it. I think Ry & I have a great marriage, but it did help me to realize some things I could do as his wife to make it better. Way to go Dr. Laura - she hits the nail on the head time and again in this book.

I love how Dr. L isn't afraid to bring religion into the picture. Morals, values, the necessity of traditional marriage between a man and woman.

Need help with communication? Read this book!

Need help understanding where your husband is coming from? Read this book! Okay, I'll stop. I love this book.

Thanks Mel for the recommendation!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cake Balls

Thanks Heidi for sharing this recipe with me! So delicious. I made them Sunday & my in-laws approved. Now I will pass on the goodness...
  • 1 chocolate cake mix
  • 1 container chocolate frosting
  • dipping chocolate
Mix frosting & cake mix till combined. This is a little tough - I had to get in there with my hands and knead it like dough. Then roll into small balls, place on wax paper. Dip immediately in melted chocolate.

I used 4 different kinds because I was trying to get rid of leftover dipping chocolate I've had for awhile. Hands down - Western Family Almond Bark was by far the best texture, melting consistency, smoothness when cooled, and best tasting. So, there you go! Enjoy! Just make sure you have a glass of milk handy!

Oh - and I also think it would be fun to do Red Velvet cake mix with white & milk chocolate coating...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kelty Kids Hiking Backpack

Ry & I love to be outdoors, especially in the summertime. Our weekends are filled with hiking, camping, fly-fishing (mostly I watch), river rafting - all the good stuff. This summer we have a new challenge - a one year old. And we found the perfect solution - a Kelty Kids pack.
Much to our delight our picky little girl, who usually wants to walk everywhere now that she found her legs, loved the pack!

As long as Ry kept moving she was loving it! So much that he took her hiking again on Monday morning! He said on Monday she was singing while in her pack (her happy noises), then the singing got a little quieter - soon he looked back and realized she was singing in her sleep while hiking. Silly girl!

The packs are usually pretty expensive - we found ours used online & would highly recommend it to anyone! Well worth it!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Penne Pesto Chicken

Last week we had some friends over for Guinea Pig Thursday (on Wednesday). I really had a hankering for pesto, which I love, but had never actually used at home before.

I was all geared up to make the pesto - but after collecting all of the ingredients at the store and realizing just how ridiculously priced pine nuts are - I went for the jar of pesto and called it good.

This recipe was super easy & delicious! It says 8 servings...but I'd say it's easily 10-12. We ate it for leftovers a few times. Wouldn't change a thing!

Click Here For the Recipe

Monday, May 18, 2009

Gender Based Abortion

Sweden rules 'gender-based' abortion legal

Swedish health authorities have ruled that gender-based abortion is not illegal according to current law and can not therefore be stopped, according to a report by Sveriges Television.

The Local reported in February that a woman from Eskilstuna in southern Sweden had twice had abortions after finding out the gender of the child.

The woman, who already had two daughters, requested an amniocentesis in order to allay concerns about possible chromosome abnormalities. At the same time, she also asked to know the foetus's gender.

Doctors at Mälaren Hospital expressed concern and asked Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) to draw up guidelines on how to handle requests in the future in which they "feel pressured to examine the foetus’s gender" without having a medically compelling reason to do so.

The board has now responded that such requests and thus abortions can not be refused and that it is not possible to deny a woman an abortion up to the 18th week of pregnancy, even if the foetus's gender is the basis for the request.

What?! This world is getting so crazy...I am pro-life all the way - adoption people, not murder. That said, I also get pretty frustrated when people are upset they're having a certain gender. Oh, a boy again - nuts. Not another girl! Curse.

I really believe the Lord is in charge here - he sends people to specific families for a reason & we as parents need to be appreciative and grateful that He trusts us enough to send us these special spirits to raise. Whether it's 10 girls and no boys - or children that all have huge medical problems. We have been blessed with certain gifts that will help raise these children - and in turn they have been blessed with certain gifts that will help enrich our family.

And a last rant - instead of being upset you're having another boy/girl - just be grateful you can get pregnant at all!! Some people don't have that opportunity...okay. I'll stop. I'm just getting more upset.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Potty Training Your Baby by Katie Van Pelt

Loved, loved, loved this book. It is super short & a quick read. Not only does it cover potty training, but it has little tidbits of great advice on better parenting skills throughout.

It covers potty training early, starting before the 1st birthday, and potty training late, after 2 years old. It is so informative.

I'm glad I purchased this instead of checking it out at the library because I will definitely be referring back to it time and time again! I highly recommend this book for all parents!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Poppyseed Chicken

For Guinea Pig Thursday (Wednesday rather) - we had Poppyseed Chicken. I'd had this before, but never made it myself. I have a really bad habit of changing things in a recipe before I've even made/tried the dish - and it took all my will power not to change this recipe. As I was making it I kept thinking - holy crap, this is a lot of butter!! And it was. But it sure did taste great!! =) Our guinea pig was Jordan, Ry's brother.

Poppyseed Chicken
  • 4 large chicken breasts, cooked & diced
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted (could be less)
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 12 oz sour cream
  • 1 1/2 rolls Ritz crackers (could be reduced fat, but not reduced sodium)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice (could be more, even doubled)
Cook the rice & put in bottom of greased 9x13 pan. Mix chicken, 3/4 c. melted butter, chicken soup, & sour cream. Pour over rice. Crush & mix together crackers, 1/2 cup melted butter, & poppy seeds. Sprinkle over the casserole. Bake for 30 min at 350 degrees.

*Do not substitute butter for margarine - my sis-in-law who gave me this recipe tried that once & said it turned out weird.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Crockpot Lasagna

This one's for you Lisa! I wanted to try something other than a roast in my crockpot & I've never made lasagna - so here ya go.

The guinea pigs were a few of my in-laws. Minimal preperation, which rocks. I think next time I would do 1/2 lb ground beef & 1/2 lb italian sausage to give it more spice. I also would cut back on the cheese a little.

It just was a little too much cheese for me. Or maybe leave the cheese as is, but do another 1/2 lb meat to compensate. Oh, and the recipe also says cook on low for 4-6 hours - 4.5 was plenty. It was starting to burn on the bottom.

Click here for the recipe (and other great crockpot recipes)!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Creamy White Chicken Chili

For Guinea Pig Thursday we had Creamy White Chicken Chili in soup bowls...yum! I had a taste of this at a local grocery store try-out a few months back and loved it! Of course, it tasted different when I made it, even though I followed the recipe exactly.

Our guinea pigs were the in-laws. Everyone seemed to really like it, but agreed it was a little on the salty side. I thought it was ridiculously salty! Next time I will be skipping the salt all together.

It definitely is a hearty soup - Ry thought a little less chicken might be good. So with a couple of changes I think it'll be great next time. It was super easy & cheap to make - feeds a lot of people!

So I can't find my recipe card...but I'm pretty sure I can remember all of it...
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cans (4 oz.) diced green chilies
  • 6 cans great white northern beans
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 2-3 cans (14.5 oz) chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
I think that was it. Cook/brown chicken in large pan with oil - then add onions & chilies, cook until onion is soft. Add everything else & cook on med/high 20 minutes until thickened.

I thought it would be really tasty to throw in some cooked rice as well for added texture and heartiness. So - no salt, little less chicken, and rice. The end. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gettin' Saucy in The Kitchen

For Guinea Pig Thursday we made breaded pan fried chicken fingers - which turned out more like chicken nuggets - little bread crumbs, olive oil, and lemon pepper - yum.

Then we went crazy making sauces to dip them in! I've really wanted to learn more about basic sauces - you can get so creative once you have the simple stuff down.

So I made a marinara sauce and a cheese sauce for dipping. We also had ranch & bbq for fun. Ry & I were just the guinea pigs this time - but we both approved.

Basic Sauce Recipes

Oh & the next night I added a little water to the marinara to thin it out & we had it on spaghetti for leftovers.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Stuffed Zucchini

Tonight we had Stuffed Zucchini - yum! It definitely passed with flying colors. I only changed the recipe a little by adding cheese (asiago & parmesan) to the top & it was super good.

There was enough filling leftover that I even made a small meatloaf for leftovers tomorrow.

Two dinners in one - it doesn't get any better than that! The guinea pigs - us, & Ry's sister & her husband. Served with mashed potatoes, very filling.

I give this one an A++ & I'm excited to have another way to use our zucchini this summer! Forgot to take pictures - so I stole this one from the recipe site. Enjoy!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Lucky Lime Pie

Ry wanted to try a new dessert. The guinea pigs - us, Ry's parents, and sister. Everyone enjoyed it. Ry & Teresa gave a thumbs up.

I think it's the best lime pie recipe I've ever tried - light and fluffy, and super easy. I'll definitely be making it again.

Happy St. Patricks Day!

Ingredients:
  • 1 package (3 oz) lime flavored Jello
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (2-3 fresh limes)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime zest
  • 1 can (14 oz) fat-free sweetened cond. milk (not evaporated)
  • 1 package (8 oz) fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 9-inch graham cracker crust*
Method:

Dissolve Jello in 1/2 cup boiling water; stir until sugar is completely dissolved in Jello. Add 1/2 cup cold water to Jello, then remove 3/4 cup and set aside. Stir lime juice and zest into remaining Jello and set aside to cool and thicken, but do not allow it to set.

Pour the 3/4 cup reserved Jello into a flat, non-stick 9-inch cake pan, cover and refrigerate. This Jello may be used as a garnish later.

Beat softened cream cheese until smooth; add sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk) and stir to blend.

Whip cream until stiff peaks form.

Beat together cream cheese mixture and Jello-lime-juice-zest mixture (product should be thick and light - but not setup). Fold in whipped cream; spoon filling into prepared graham cracker crust. Refrigerate until set (2-3 hours).

Cut pie into 10 pieces. To garnish, use a small cookie cutter to cut shamrock or other fun shapes from set Jello and carefully place shapes on each slice of pie. If desired, add curls of lime zest or thin slices of lime.

Notes: This is a delicious lime dessert to help bring the luck of the Irish to St. Patrick's Day. Makes 10 rich servings

Optional garnish: whip additional cream and pipe swirls of cream on each slice, add thin slices of lime.

Optional crust variation: (not included in nutrition analysis)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread approximately 2 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut out in a shallow baking pan. Toast coconut in oven, stirring every 30 seconds, until lightly browned (about 2-4 minutes). Cool coconut and mix with 1/3 cup softened butter. Press coconut into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Refrigerate until crust is firm.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Spicy Baked Macaroni

I saw this recipe on the food network, because I'm a nerd and sometimes (always) watch it. Don't judge me. =)

We had Ryan's sister Teresa over. As I was serving up the dish I realized I had the two pickiest people to be my guinea pigs for something with...uh-hum...spinach and mushrooms in it!!!! What was I thinking?!

To my surprise they ate it and didn't even complain much. They even both admitted they thought it was pretty good and of course pointed out that they weren't even picking things out.

Teresa even said she wasn't having to wash it down with her drink like she would most things with vegetables in them.

If I were to make it again I would cut back on the mushrooms to about half and add some bite-size chicken. The recipe says 8-10 servings...you could easily feed 15-20 people from it, especially as a side dish at a potluck. Served with garlic bread. Yum.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Research




Sunday, March 1, 2009

Baby's First Steps

Little Miss has been walking all over the place for awhile now, but she's always holding onto something - furniture, her walker, our hands...yesterday she took her first solo steps. Then we pulled out the camera and made her do it again. Such a big girl!

And yes, she still doesn't crawl...we tried to have a crawling session a few days ago and it ended in tears. She just does things on her own time & hates to be forced into things. So, oh well with the crawling! At least she's a happy walker.



*Update (1/19/10): People kept telling us walking before crawling would inhibit proper development...not true!! Little Miss is a very smart little girl, who knows how to crawl, gets around great, and is right on track with her motor skills and her language development is off the charts.

So don't worry if you have a walker who doesn't crawl - it'll come.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sleep = Happy

The last time I recall getting a good night's sleep was...before I was pregnant. No joke. Once I was pregnant my morning to-do list consisted of not vomiting while getting out of bed & moving to the couch.

Then the acid reflux came, in which a bottle of tums was my best friend & sleeping companion, sorry husband.

Then the pressure on the bladder and the bathroom trips every hour. Then Little Miss arrived. And sleeping is not her forte. So every 3 hours (on average) I wake up, feed the little one, and rock her back to sleep.

I don't even remember the last time I had dreams. Eight and a half months of little, broken up sleep...until last night.

I've been asking everyone for months how they got their babies to finally sleep. I've been reading everything I can on the subject, and finally after listening to my friend Shauna, again, tell me her success story - Ry & I decided to dive in head first last night to sleep training our little one.

We didn't swaddle, we didn't go pop binky back in when it fell out & woke her up - we let her figure that out. She actually will find it in the dark and put it back in herself...ha!

We started yesterday with naps & she really is getting the hang of self-soothing. And it's not taking all the "cry it out" that people talk about. We just make sure she's sleepy enough, rock her a little (but not to sleep) and then put her in her crib. And she puts herself to sleep! Awesome. I can't even tell you how excited I am!

She slept last night from 10pm-2am, ate briefly, then from 2:15am-9am! What!? Nearly 7 hours straight!! I actually went and checked on her a few times to make sure she was still breathing...so my dear friend Shauna - I owe you my life! Or at least an ice cream outing. Thanks for giving me the confidence to finally sleep train.

I woke up happier, refreshed, and a better mom because of it. And I actually had dreams last night! Albeit, weird ones, dreams nonetheless! Yeah for sleep training!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Homemade Baby Food

I have made all of Little Miss's baby food - except the cereal, and I love it!

I found this great website - wholesomebabyfood.com - and it has saved us a ton of money, plus it's fresh and super healthy, and way easier than you'd think.

The website has info on food safety, age to introduce certain foods, best ways to cook it to keep the most nutrition in, food storage, recipes, and allergy information. I love it!

To date I've made - sweet potato, peas, carrots, prunes, apples, bananas, zuchini, butternut squash, peaches, avocado, pears, and green beans.

Most of them get steamed, pureed, and then I just freeze them in cubes in an ice cube tray for storage. Then in freezer bags with labels & dates.
I love being able to make Little Miss healthy fresh food & knowing exactly what is in there. Plus, I've done a little taste testing - homemade tastes way better!

And as if I couldn't be more OCD about the process - I keep all the ziplocs in a new pull-out shoe organizer - this way the little bags don't get lost in our all-too-small freezer.

Little Miss always helps me - by watching - and loves to know what's going on in the kitchen. She is always up for tasting while making too!
A couple of bonuses....
  • Frozen food cubes help soothe teething gums
  • Cooking healthy for Little Miss makes us automatically eat better too
  • When steaming apples, our house smells delicious!
I would recommend this to everyone - especially in this economy. Gotta penny-pinch where we can!

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Projects







Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Recipes

*indicates extra healthy factor - usually sneaky...

Appetizers

Breakfast


Entrees


Crockpot


Side Dishes

Dessert {the most important part!}


Drinks
Baby Food


Food Storage


Misc

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Daily Homeschool

Think homeschooling is hard? It terrifies me. One day my husband said...

"What would be different? You've been teaching our kids everyday since they were born! You are their teacher." Huh, never thought of that before!

Coming soon is a collection of quick links to learning activities, books to read, field trip ideas, and worksheets. All kindergarten prep worthy!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Reviews


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Easiest Cheesecake Ever!

I love to bake, especially pie, and especially cheesecake. But if you don't want to wait around for the oven timer to ding before you can dive in...this is the recipe for you! It is super easy, and cheap - kudos to my mother-in-law, it is her recipe.

- 1 graham crust (or oreo)
- 1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, room temperature (or microwave for 20 seconds...out of wrapper of course)
- 1 (8 oz) cool whip, room temperature
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Whip cream cheese & powdered sugar with electric beater till fluffy - then beat in cool whip. Scoop into crust, lick beaters, and refrigerate until ready to serve! That's it!

You can top with cherry, blueberry, raspberry, or whatever pie filling you want. Maybe not apple though, that'd be a little weird. I also thought it would be fun to top with a crushed heath bar or something.

And to get fancier you could take the same recipe - do a thin layer of cherry pie filling on the crust, underneath the cheese cake mixture - then top with crushed oreos...and the ideas keep flowing! Super easy, and you can get creative too! Enjoy!

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

The author, Randy Pausch, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, retiring from teaching, asked to give his 'last lecture' as all professors are - and then was told he had lost his fight and had only 3-6 months to live.

What resulted was this book & an amazing lecture - he doesn't focus on dying and how to cope - it's all about how to live. Tidbits of wisdom that everyone can benefit from!

The story is truly touching - he was only in his 40's, father to 3 young children, and the legacy that he left for them is incredible.

I saw him interviewed on TV & part of his lecture given, and ever since I've wanted to read this book - thanks to my in-laws for giving it to us for Christmas!

A must read for everyone! Very uplifting, even though I did tear up a few times...

Favorite Quote: "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity" - as quoted by Randy Pausch from Seneca, the Roman philosopher.

Read More At The Official Site

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Mom's Anthem

What a clever lady...

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