Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pizza Night!

Last night, we made pizza. I had decided that it would be fun to let the boys make their own. I made little crusts for them and then let them top their pizzas with whatever they wanted. They LOVED it!

At one point, I handed them some little dishes of pineapple and before I knew it, the pineapple was being devoured instead of being used as a pizza topping. :) I explained how they should use it as a pizza topping which they did but then C ate some of it off the pizza. :) I did give them some more pineapple just for eating after they finished topping their pizza.

They enjoyed watching them bake and then we had movie night – a picnic on the floor and their choice of movie. (They chose Cars - again. :)) This was sooo fun! We will definitely do it again - it was a really fun dinner which we needed since Andrew wasn't home!

*I usually reserve the pictures for the boys' blog but since it kind of had to do with menu planning etc. - I decided to post it here. :)*

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Cookbooks: The Addiction!

So I decided to giveaway some cookbooks and people, I haven't even gotten them out the door and I've replaced them with others. :) How sad is this addiction! The boys and I went to Half Price Books yesterday to have lunch with my sister (who works there) and of course, I browsed. I came away with four (4!!!) new cookbooks but I did get them all for 50% off the Half Price cost which was good and they are not like any other books in my collection.

I really did use self-control - they have an AWESOME cookbook selection and if I hadn't gotten them for 1/2 off, I would not have bought all of them. Don't you love how I justify it :) - the best measure was that Andrew was really excited about them! Anyway, here is a list of the cookbooks I couldn't resist:

Chef Bobo's Good Food Cookbook (Robert W. Surles)
Cook Organic (Ysanne Spevack)
The Healthy Kitchen (Andrew Weil, M.D. & Rosie Daley)
The Best Ever Vegetarian
They all look so yummy and like they have so many great ideas! I can't wait to read them and try new recipes! What's your favorite cookbook? I don't know if I could ever narrow it down but I definitely have a few I go to more frequently. :)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bloggy Giveaway

This Giveaway is now closed - THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO ENTERED! I will randomly select the winner later today and due to the number of entries, I will also draw a runner-up who will recieve a cookbook-related suprise gift!
***UPDATE: Thank you all for entering and feel free to continue! Just please make sure you leave a way for me to contact you...if your blogger profile is private or you don't have a blog, make sure you leave an e-mail address. If I cannot figure out a way to contact you, I will draw again. Happy giveaway week everyone! :)***

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a sucker for cookbooks! I LOVE them - I read them recreationally. :) This does translate into me trying new recipes and finding mealtime inspiration but it also translates into LOTS of cookbooks. I find them everywhere - bookstores, garage sales, secondhand stores, book get the idea. Yes, it's a bit of an addiction. :) But I am truly passionate about cooking and baking - they are my creative expressions of art!

When Shannon hosted the Dog Days of Summer Giveaway carnival this past July, I thought it was such a fun idea and even won one of them! So, I decided to actually have a giveaway this time.

In keeping with the giveaway being something that reflects me, I decided to find some great cookbooks (some of which are brand new!) from my collection for this giveaway. I'm super happy to give them to someone who will enjoy them!

The winner will receive a variety of cookbooks (some low-fat) and a few other secret gifts. :)

To enter, please leave ONE comment (no duplicates, please) and tell me your favorite thing to cook or bake! I will randomly draw a winner on Saturday, November 3. You are eligible even if you don't have a blog; just leave a valid e-mail address. I will contact the winner via their blog or e-mail. The winner will have 4 days to send me a mailing address so I can ship these fun books & goodies! This giveaway is open to U.S. and international.

Check out Bloggy Giveaways for lots more great giveaways!

This Week's Menu

Well, last week did not go as planned - I think only 3 out of 6 meals followed the menu. Andrew has been VERY busy at work (not home until nearly midnight a few nights) so the boys and I took it easy on the nights he wasn't home for dinner. I have been forewarned that this week will be no better so the menu will be pretty simple.

I'm putting the chicken curry back on the menu since we didn't get to have it last week and we really wanted it. We used last Friday's main dish yesterday (made-rights, baked sweet potato fries, baked white potato fries, peas, salad, & blueberry/raspberry cobbler w/vanilla icecream) because we ended up having 10 for dinner.

Monday: Leftovers from Sunday
Tuesday: Take-out, Mom & Dad's, or Make-your-own pizza , Veggies & Dip, Apple Slices
Wednesday: Stew in the crock-pot, Salad, Bread
Thursday: Grilled Cheese, Tomato Soup
Friday: Chicken Curry served over sweet potatoes, Salad
Saturday: Spaghetti & Meatballs, Green Beans, Breadsticks
Sunday: Pancakes, Sausage, Yogurt, Fruit

The curry is the only new recipe this week. Maybe next week will be a little easier for family mealtime. :) I really want to try this recipe as well as make this one again from a cooking class I enjoyed awhile ago.

Check out more great menu plans hosted at I'm an Organizing Junkie. I'm also participating in the Fall Y'all Giveaway - see my giveaway here.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pad Thai

Today I was craving Pad Thai – strange, I know. So I went to the cupboard to see what I had on hands and went to to see what went into it. I quickly realized that I didn’t have all (or maybe even most) of the ingredients so I looked at a couple of recipes and came up with my own from the pantry.

Y’all, it was yummy and definitely pad thaiish (I love making up words)! Everyone had seconds and a couple even had more (not me or Patrick) and the boys loved the long noodles. Andrew was disappointed that I didn’t write the exact measurements down as I went but here’s what I found and included in the Pad-Thai-My-Way (or Pantry-Pad-Thai): Ketchup, soy sauce, creamy peanut butter, curry, lime juice, crushed red pepper, eggs, oil, butter, canned chicken, 1/2 package dry linguine, peanuts, sugar, and onion.

I sautéed the chicken in some butter to flavor it then I removed it and put some oil in the wok and cracked 4 eggs into it. I cooked it until the eggs were scrambled – I added the cooked pasta and chicken to the wok, poured my secret (even to me) sauce over it all, and threw in about 1/3 of a med. onion finely chopped and about ¼ cup coarsely chopped peanuts. Tossed it all together for a couple of minutes and served.

Okay the sauce had maybe ¼ c. soy sauce, ¼ c. ketchup, 2 Tb. Peanut butter, 2 tsp. lime juice, 2 tsp. sugar, ½ tsp. curry, and ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper (I think red pepper flakes would have been good but I didn’t have any). That’s my best guess at the proportions.

Anyway, it was good and cheap and fixed my insane craving. :) So that’s what we had for lunch on this dreary Saturday!

Friday, October 26, 2007

My Babies...

...aren't babies anymore. They are getting so big and communicating so much. They are such a joy. We have lots of fun together! I'm so thrilled I get to spend so much time with them!

Part-time Working SAHM :)

I sometimes ponder being a part-time working mom. I know God has called me first and foremost to be a wife and mom but Andrew and I also believe that He has called me to be a dental hygienist. [As an aside, people have many different views of how this all plays out and I am not here to say there is any one right way or to spark any heated discussions. This is simply my personal reflection.] :)

A friend of mine has been a huge encouragement to me in challenging me to live a balanced life fulfilling all that God desires of me. I know that I don’t always get it right but I feel blessed to have the opportunity and flexibility (hygiene is great for this!) to work some (about 30 hours/month) and still enjoy being mostly a SAHM. It seems like the best of both worlds – sometimes I wish for more of one or the other but overall it works.

In truth, I appreciate the fresh perspective on my awesome sons. I miss them and it seems that all the challenges of the week melt away when I see them after only a few hours at work. They are sweet and adorable and we are all so happy to see each other!

I’m so thankful for my loving husband who supports and encourages me in the “outside” work that is a part of my life and our lives. I'm also grateful for his commitment and desire for me to mostly be at home - I know not everyone is able to do that! I’m thankful for the childcare my family provides which gives me the peace of mind to enjoy my work and to meet the needs of my patients. And I’m thankful for the employment that helped make it possible for our two sons to become a part of our family and that continues to help provide if/where needed.

When I think about the different roles God has called me to, I am reminded that He has called me to do them all for His glory! I pray that I will continually be strengthened and challenged in each responsibility. We truly serve an amazing God who has granted each of us different gifts & talents as well as unique roles & families. But He universally calls us to glorify and enjoy Him forever within every aspect of our lives. May that truly be the desire of our hearts.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

WFMW: Garlic

I use quite a bit of fresh garlic in my cooking and always hated the smell left on my hands after chopping it and always wondered if I had minced it fine enough. No more! Last year I invested in a Pampered Chef garlic press. It’s awesome! I love, love, love it!

It’s great quality (made to last) and easy to use; I don’t have to even peel the garlic anymore and it’s easy to clean. It was worth every penny and I think every cook should have one – fresh garlic is so much better than the jarred stuff (which I had often used before).

It’s also a wonderful shower gift for brides-to-be (they’ll thank you later!). And that totally works for me! Check out more great tips at Rocks in My Dryer.

*I am not a Pampered Chef consultant nor was I compensated in any way for mentioning this great product (I wish!)*

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hanging Out with Friends

We couldn't get them to all to look at the camera and smile at the same time.
Oh well, they really do like each other.

Patrick playing with trains.

Calvin driving the bulldozer (I think :)).

Cutest picture of the day...this was completely unprompted.
I wish I had captured it a little better. :)
We all had a wonderful time!

Football, Lattes, & Today

We enjoyed a fun evening at our friends' house watching the Colts game last night! The wives watched for awhile and then headed to Starbucks for coffee - most of us enjoyed the Pumpkin Spice Latte (yummy!). We made it back just in time to see the game finish and to check the fantasy football results. :) I won and so did the Colts. :) GO COLTS!!!!

I have lots of posts floating around in my head but no energy to write. The cold from last week is lingering and I'm wiped! The kids and I went to the museum with our good friends, Amy, Meredith, & Clara. We had a great time and the boys are now napping (I probably should be too)! :) Andrew will likely be working late tonight so dinner will be light and easy (not the scheduled one - I'll push that to tomorrow). I have biology assignments that need graded, clothes that need folded, and papers that need sorted so I will keep busy this evening! I'm off to rest before the hooligans get up. :) Maybe they will help me with cleaning their room!

Monday, October 22, 2007

It's What's For Dinner... :)

This week is completely a pantry week with the exception of buying eggs. My in-laws gave us some huge sweet potatoes from their garden so they will be featured in a couple of meals. I have some leftover sauerkraut from the amazing Russian soup last week and after reading several recipes (including cakes - yikes!) I decided to try an unhealthy side dish casserole (I will be adjusting the recipe some - less sugar etc.). :)

The pork chops turned out very well – the boys and Andrew all wanted seconds so I think that was a good sign. :) I would like to try using honey as the sweetener sometime instead of the brown sugar. The sesame seeds could be increased – we didn’t actually notice them very much but the fresh ginger was a great ingredient! I cut the chops up after they cooked and served them on brown rice with the sauce poured over it all. They were definitely tender! All in all, a fun experiment – it encouraged me to continue recipe development.

Monday - Corn & Potato Chowder, bread, kiwi
Tuesday - Chicken Curry served over sweet potatoes, salad
Wednesday - Meatloaf, sauerkraut casserole, lima beans
Thursday - Pizza, carrots and dip, apple slices
Friday - Made-Rights, baked sweet potato fries, salad
Saturday - Out for Couple’s Night!
Sunday - Egg Casserole, apple muffins

I continue to try and do a pizza night once a week with whatever we happen to have for toppings - this tends to be our flex night so we don't actually eat it every week. :) I also usually plan breakfast food for Sundays - it's easy and we really like it! The egg casserole is one of my favorite breakfast/brunch dishes. New recipes this week are the chowder, curry, and sauerkraut. Check out more menus here hosted by Laura! Have a great week!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

C & P

I'm really behind on updating here. :) We haven't taken very many pictures lately - I'll try to fix that this week! But here's a brief update with words. :)

Calvin LOVES music! Tonight at church he was singing at the top of his lungs with lots of expression. More than one head turned to see the exuberant singer in the back row. :) He insists that music needs turned on when we are downstairs, he wants to listen to music in the car, he dances to ANY music he hears (including wind chimes), he asks us to sing with him, and every thing that possibly can be a microphone is (forks, matchbox cars, straws, blocks... you name it!). He is also currently obsessed with transportation and we talk about it many times a day. His favorites are trains and fire trucks but he also really likes planes and trucks. Don't tell him, but he will definitely be getting some of those things for Christmas.

Patrick recently hit 2 and I mean 2 (Calvin went through this a few months ago). His sweet personality has been a little MIA and has been replaced with hitting, tantrums, talking back, and crying. It's frustrating to say the least but we are so delighted when it is exchanged for the normal, happy kiddo that he truly is! He is also really into transportation and for him, this includes riding his bike and wooden horse all the time. He has been experimenting with facial expressions which keeps us all laughing. He has become quite the clown. He is starting to become particular about what he wears and recently wore shorts over his pants. :) He is learning to sing the ABC's and we think he is counting some, too! He is so cuddly these days which we love!

We love them so much and we are really enjoying watching their personalities constantly develop. What fun little boys they are!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, Andrew!

Today is Andrew’s birthday! I’m so thankful God brought him into my life. He is my best friend, confidante, and lover. He completes me. We are different and we come from very different upbringings but God in His wisdom knew that we needed each other.

This year has been one of the most exciting as our roles as husband and wife expanded to include being parents (we had only been home for 5 days on his birthday last year). It is with joy that I have watched Andrew excel in this new role. Our boys are so excited for Daddy to get home and the weekends are our favorite because he usually gets to be home with us for two whole days!

Throughout our journey to becoming a family, he was my rock and encourager. I’ll never forget the look on his face when we first laid eyes on our children. A father’s heart is so incredible!

Andrew is a sweet, generous, caring person. His love is constant and his patience is amazing. He challenges me to be a better person, a stronger believer, and a true football fan. :) He makes me feel important. He assures me that everything I make is wonderful – I’m sure it’s not. :) He tells me I’m pretty and creative even when I tell him repeatedly that I don’t believe him. :) He does the dishes many nights because he knows I dislike doing them. He is a handyman and does many home projects. He supports me in my roles as wife and mother and my work as a hygienist. He loves me for who I am - crazy ideas, slight OCD and all.

I’m thankful to God for the gift of my husband. I’m thankful for the man God is constantly molding him to be. I pray that God will give us many years together and that we will continually serve God better together than we ever could have a part. I love you, honey.

Happy Birthday to the greatest guy ever!

Friday, October 19, 2007


I'm ready to stay at home this weekend. Today has been crazy and full. After work this morning, I went to pick up the boys and then stopped briefly at home. We then headed up to W. Lafayette to pick up my sister and her boyfriend from school to bring them home for the weekend (neither of them have cars at school). We arrived up there in enough time to have a tour of Margaret's house before going to pick up Philip. We dropped them off at a church conference and came home. The boys are tucked in bed and quite possibly already asleep. They missed their naps with all the travel. Andrew is still working and will be for several more hours, so I'm going to have a quiet evening by myself. I'll be on the go some tomorrow but hopefully we won't be quite so busy. I'm going to block off a weekend soon were we can just stay at home. :) We need to do our fall cleaning and maybe relax! :)

Lifted Up

My good friend Monica of Shine Again graciously awarded me my first blog award. I am honored and humbled. If I could give her the award again, I would! She is one of those rare people that constantly challenges, encourages, and loves you just by you being around her. I am so blessed to have her as my friend and even more than that as one of my mentors. She is a veteran mom with 7 kids and she is also a nurse – she has helped me out numerous times with medical questions. :) I was so excited when she started a blog and I love reading it! So thank you, Monica.

It is my privilege to pass this award on to some others who have blessed me through their blogging. Of the many blogs I enjoy, these blogs regularly (and lately) bless and encourage me to be the woman God wants me to be through my walk with Him, my family, my creativity, my reading, and my involvement in the lives of others. So without further ado, I award them to these 4 ladies:

Jen of Just Passing Through – Jen and I have been friends for about 11 years. She stood up with me when I got married and has been with me through thick and thin. God took her out of state a couple of years ago and I miss her! Her blog is one of the ways we stay in touch and I’m challenged by her vulnerability in sharing her heart. She shares the joys, the triumphs, the trials, and the tears with unfaltering sincerity. She has a passion to be involved in her community that is so refreshing.

Catherine of Catherine Wheels – Catherine has been my friend for a few years and I feel I’ve gotten to know her even better through reading her blog. We have many similar interests but I especially enjoy our shared interest in healthy living. She seems to have endless energy as the mom of 2 under 2 and I’m challenged by her creative talents, reading lists, frugality, humor, and her walk with the Lord.

Maryanne of Happy Helms – Maryanne was a friend of mine in high school and we were recently reacquainted through the world of blogs. She is transparent and her transparency always encourages me to look at my own life in light of God’s Word. She honors her husband and family and that comes through in her writing. She is also very creative and frugal and is even starting her own business making adorable bibs!

Barbie of Moments, Memories, Milestones – Barbie is a new blog friend. I found her through Menu Plan Monday (I think) and I love reading her blog and seeing her pictures! She is the mom of 5 and her youngest two are adopted. One of her sons also had a cleft. We share a passion for adoption. Her love for the Lord and her family are obvious as well as her love for children all over the world.

Thank you, ladies, for challenging the way I think and live, encouraging me to be creative and frugal, and for blessing my life through your lives and blogs!

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Unfortunately (like Amy's family this week), we're sick today. I went to bed early last night not feeling well and woke up feeling awful. It's a cold accompanied by a bad headache and sinus pressure. Patrick is coughing today and has a runny nose and Calvin also has a runny nose. Both are sneezing. So we are laying low (my mom is graciously sub teaching my biology class). Somehow they still manage to have energy when all I want to do is sleep. We had a really fun play date with our friends the Sawyers yesterday - we hope we didn't share with them. :(

Hope you are well and enjoying your week! I threw my pork chops in the crock pot this morning - we'll see how they turn out. My wonderful husband will probably finish putting dinner together. He is picking up snacks for Bible Study tonight since I usually make them (I'll be staying upstairs). What a great guy!

That's it from this house - we're headed for naps. I hope to be back to blogging tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Best $1

So, I braved the exhaustion and took the boys to run errands. Our last stop was the grocery store and quite frankly, I was dreading it. We had already had one attitude/discipline issue and I was not excited to have any more.

We went in the store and I started loading the kids in the cart when I noticed the "fun carts" and thought it was definitely worth a try. These tv carts had a choice of Barney or Bob the Builder so I chose the latter, paid my dollar, buckled the kids in, made sure the show started, closed the doors and locked them, and started shopping. They loved it! They were obedient, quiet, and most of all they got along. They couldn't get out and run around, I didn't have any "extra" things in my cart, and we made it through without any meltdowns.
This was a dollar well spent and I will definitely consider using it again when I need to shop with both boys. We all came out of the store with smiles (even with it being way past lunch time)!
*This picture is of a similar cart - we did not do Barney!*


I'm working up the energy to take two active toddlers to Meijer and Target on this rainy, gray day. I've been putting it off and I really can't any longer. I keep wondering if it's really worth it. Maybe if I just go it won't be so bad....allright, I'm almost resolved....okay, we're going now.

Monday, October 15, 2007

This Week in Meals

Andrew worked many hours last week so a few meals didn't really happen as planned. Oh well. :) This week is going to be a pretty easy week. I only need to pick up a couple of things from the store so it’s also mostly a pantry week. I am trying two new recipes – one on Tuesday & one on Thursday. It's also Andrew's birthday this week so we will be having a fun date night. He will be picking a dessert but he hasn't let me know what he wants yet.

Monday – Casserole from the freezer, steamed broccoli, homemade blueberry muffins
Tuesday – Russian Bean and Potato Soup, homemade bread
Wednesday – Baked Potato Bar (w/chili, cheese, sour cream), applesauce
Thursday – Crock Pot Sesame Pork Chops (from farmer’s market), brown rice, salad w/pears & pecans
Friday – Pizza w/chicken, carrot sticks, apple slices
Saturday – Out for Andrew’s birthday!
Sunday – Cinnamon Swirl French toast w/apple topping, & bacon (from farmer’s market)

Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menu plans. And as always, feel free to ask for recipes not posted, share your menu ideas, or to visit my recipe blog.
Happy cooking everyone!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Nigh, Nigh?

Calvin pointed to the bed in the room he was taking a nap in today and said, "Mama, nigh, nigh?" (Translation: Mama, will you take a nap, too?) I said, "yes" and he laughed, smiled, and settled down for his rest. Who could resist that?

20 Things I Love

I think it's time for one of my "just-because-mushy-mom" posts (yep, that's a technical, copyrighted phrase :)). My children constantly amaze me and I pray that I don't take these years for granted. I want to enjoy every day and every moment with them. They have brought so much joy to my (well our) life. I thank God for them daily!

I love to hear my kids' say Mama (or Mony :)).
I love the spontaneous hugs that never cease to amaze me.
I love the way my boys' make me feel like the most important person in the world.
I love how they engage me in their games, make believe, songs, and books.
I love the wonderful smiles they throw my way.
I love the delighted giggles that escape.
I love their beautiful, expressive, brown eyes.
I love the way they wholeheartedly trust.
I love surprising them.
I love to teach them.
I love to see them learn.
I love to watch them peacefully sleep.
I love to see their imaginations at work.
I love to hear them pray.
I love their singing.
I love the way they live life to the fullest.
I love their boundless energy.
I love the sloppy, open-mouth kisses.
I love my boys.
I love being a Mom.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Today, I'm just struggling with some things (FYI: it has nothing to do with my husband and children). Sometimes demonstrating love and tolerance to others is the hardest thing in the world. Instead I want to point out hurts and wrongs in a very unkind way.

I spent a 1/2 hour on the phone with one of my wisest counselors (my dad :)) and vented. I needed to talk and he was the right person for the unpleasant job. He wisely advised me to really consider how far to take things and how to address a current issue as well as just listening and understanding. In the grand scheme of things, I know that this is really nothing but it doesn't feel that way today. And it probably won't tomorrow either.

Sometimes life is so unbelievably hard and frustrating. Sometimes I just want to push the "easy" button displayed in all those commercials. But I know in my heart that God uses the challenges to convict me and to further sanctify me. Why does it have to be so painful?!

So friends, pray for me if you will. I'm having a bad day and I need to fix my attitude. The problem is that I really don't want to. There I said it. I'm not ready to let go of this issue. I want to think about it, to justify my feelings, to feel mad, and to complain. I want everyone to see my side of things and agree with me. Yeah, it's a pretty ugly reality and I'm ashamed.

I pray that God may be glorified in me despite me. May He challenge me and give me grace and strength in difficult circumstances. And may He change my heart and fill it with understanding and love for others.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

And Maybe Fall is Here...

Is anybody else as glad as I am to see fall make an appearance?! Fall is my favorite season and quite frankly, I'm a little tired of the summer clothes. It's time for that crisp chill that necessitates long sleeves and hoodies. There is really nothing like a sweater and jeans.

And I love the food that accompanies fall - stews, soups, apples, pumpkin, hot bread, cider etc. I have the constant urge to bake and fill the house with fantastic smells. [Side note: for the sake of our health, I seriously limit this and burn pumpkin or apple candles instead. :)]

Really, the only bad thing about fall is that it's the preamble to cold, damp, dark winter. But then I guess that means Christmas (my favorite holiday of all time!) is right around the corner so I guess I really can't dislike fall leading to winter too much... :)

Anyway, Happy Fall Everyone! Hope it's here to stay!

**In honor of fall, I have given the blog a bit of a color facelift.**

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

WFMW: Taco Seasoning

The week before last when I was menu planning, I thought to myself, “Self, there is no need to buy a packet of taco seasoning which probably has additives; you can make your own.” The problem was that I had no idea what proportions or even what all would be included in an equivalent taco seasoning mix. So, to the internet I turned and specifically to (one of my favorite go-to sites for new recipes). I quickly found a taco seasoning recipe that got some great reviews! We tried it in our Taco Soup last week and it was great! I’m sold…not only is it cheaper and healthy but it’s made of things that I mostly keep on hand and it only took a couple of minutes to make. And that’s what works for me! Check out Rocks in My Dryer for lots more ideas.

1 Tb. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (I decreased the amount & substituted what I had on hand: cayenne pepper)
1/4 tsp. oregano
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Combine and use in place of 1 taco seasoning packet.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Wonders of Costco

I cannot sing the praises of Costco enough! This store has been awesome for our family. Not only do many things cost less but they also sell many organic products. Every single time I go there (every 2-4 weeks), I’m amazed at the new, healthy things that they are now offering. This week, I was so pleased to find organic bread, 100% fruit leathers (basically dried fruit rectangles), and organic granola bars. I often purchase organic eggs, organic peanut butter, organic diced tomatoes, organic yogurt, and organic chicken stock there as well as diapers, water and other non-organic things. Their produce is also very nice – though not always a good deal. We have bought their cakes and other baked goods for special events and they are not only very affordable but the flavor is fantastic!

The downsides are that I usually spend more than I intend :) and that it probably doesn't support local farmers so much. But I have been so pleased at the way I’ve been able to feed our family nutritious food without breaking the budget. Next year, we’ll sign up for the executive membership and actually get money back at the end of the year. If you have a Costco in your area, I highly recommend it! One and half years in and I’m still sold on the benefits of belonging to this wholesale buying club and I’m always excited about the things I’ve found. Kudos to Costco for constantly increasing their healthy offerings!
If you shop there, what are your favorite finds?

Play Date

Today, we enjoyed a fun play date with my good friend, Catherine and her cute kiddos. (Well, Calvin and I had a good time – Patrick woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. :)) I met Catherine shortly after she moved here with her husband, Josh. We used to go to church together and now we have to work a little harder to schedule time to visit. :) We have quite a lot in common and I especially enjoy chatting about the latest in good deals, organic products, and child rearing. Anyway, it was great and I can’t wait for us to do it again! Next time, I’ll have to take some pictures!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Children's Museum with Friends!

Last week, we went to the Children's Museum with our friends and neighbors, Angie & Sarah Grace. It was so much fun!

Calvin & Sarah Grace checking out a computer game.

Calvin & Patrick enjoying the race car!

Patrick (and Aunt Liz) & Calvin on the Carousel!

Dinner Party

We hosted a fall dinner party on Saturday night for 4 of my siblings and their significant others. Despite the fact that it was like 90 degrees outside, it was a great success and I had a wonderful time planning it! Lately, the creativity bug has bitten and I'm enjoying it!

The Menu:

Appetizers: Brie w/pecans (baked in sourdough) w/fruit,bread cubes, and crackers & Roasted Red Pepper Humous w/pita

1st Course: Romaine Salad tossed w/balsamic vinaigrette and topped w/sauted pears & apples, and toasted walnuts

2nd course: Chili, Cornbread w/honey butter, Cucumber Onion Salad

3rd course (dessert): Pumpkin White Chocolate Cheesecake, Autumn Cheesecake, & Coffee

We used our good china with leaf napkins. I did a fall centerpiece using a smaller pumpkin we had picked from the patch, a variety of gourds, and some craft things that were 60% off at Jo-Ann Fabric. The place card/favors were inspired by fall cookie cutters I found at Target 4/$1. I filled the mini bags with chocolate (a favorite of my family :)), used tags I already had in my scrapbook stuff, & purchased the ribbon at 50% off. They were fun to put together and the boys loved helping to fill the sacks.

What's For Dinner This Week...

Here's my plan for this week! No new recipes - just old faithfuls. :) Next week I hope to try this recipe. I've started a new blog dedicated solely to recipes, so the links will lead you to the recipes posted there. Hopefully I can stay up with it and continue to add recipes regularly.

You might notice that lasagna is on the list again...we didn't have it last week since Andrew worked late that night. We're still looking forward to having it!

MONDAY – Oven Stew (in the crock-pot) & Bread (in bread maker)
TUESDAY – Moroccan Chicken Stew, Couscous, Fruit
WEDNESDAY – Sausage Lasagna (sausage from Farmer’s Market), Garlic Bread, Salad or Steamed Vegetables
THURSDAY – Homemade Pizza (vegetarian), Carrot Sticks & Fruit
FRIDAY – Chili cook-off @ church! I will be taking Chili and Dessert
SATURDAY – (dinner for company!) Roast, Garlic Smashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Mixed Green Salad, Rolls, & Apple Pie a la mode
SUNDAY – Egg Casserole, Bagels, & Fruit

Check out other menu plans at I'm an Organizational Junkie and as always, feel free to leave your menu ideas for the week in the comments!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Please rejoice with us in God's work in bringing our family together! Today was the day the boys were placed in our care. You can see pictures from our Gotcha Day here.

Also, Happy Birthday Stephanie & Margaret! I'm so glad you are both my sisters!


Yesterday was a monumental day for us - like an anniversary or birthday. It is a day we had thought about and anticipated for months! We celebrated kind of "American" since the boys are still young. We went to the pumpkin patch and we went to Pizza King for dinner (they have a train that brings your drinks & a little tv in your booth that you put quarters in to watch). We ended the day by going to Hilligoss bakery for cookies. We enjoyed being a family and feel so blessed. We hope that you will rejoice with us in God's work in bringing our family together. Here are some pictures from our day.

My Week...

1 - 20 oz. glass of water spilled on the carpet, table, & books.
5 spots on the carpet where the dog got sick.
2 pizza lunches smeared on the highchair tray and used as hair mousse.
1 cup of milk spilled on the carpet.
100 crayons or so broken, peeled, and some possibly ingested during "nap" time (they were non-toxic).
1 dirty diaper smeared in the pack 'n play.
2 bowls of soggy cheerios poured in drinking cups, on the tray, and on the floor.
1 cup lemonade spilled at a restaurant.
2 boys full of mischief.
1 dog happily eating twice her weight in food and snacks bestowed on her by said boys behind mommy's back.
1 tired Mommy.

Good thing they're cute! :)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Family Picture

Well, here's a picture of us on this our celebration day as a family! We have had such a fun day and we'll blog more about it tomorrow! Happy Birthday into our family, Calvin & Patrick! We love you! We also want to wish Toby (the boys' cousin) a happy 1st birthday! And happy Gotcha Day to Susan, Kyle, & Sultan and Tamas, Marie, & Ben.

Gotcha Day!

We'll be posting here from last year, later. In the mean time...check out our other blog which is a tribute of sorts to the birth of our family (with children) and the women who made it possible. We are so thankful to God for His plan which was (and is) certainly higher than our plans!

Gotcha Day!


We added to our family tree,
A stronger one to make,
A child from another plant
Has become our new namesake.
Just as a limb is grafted
From one tree to another,
It alters and improves the plant,
Making it unique like no other.
Our family tree has been improved,
Adoption has made this so.
For love much more than bloodlines
Is what makes us thrive and grow.
We chose to share our life and love
And all the joys to come.
Our family tree has blossomed
With the arrival of our cherished ones.
-Author Unknown

Today, 1 year ago, a judge in Kazakhstan made me the happiest mommy around! October 4, 2006 was the court date that officially finalized the adoption of our sons. We had been through a lot for a long time leading up to that day but in that moment, we knew that God was blessing us more than we EVER could have imagined.
We knew when we got married that we wanted to adopt some day. We have always had a heart for children all of over the world who did not choose to be parentless and did not choose to grow up in (and possibly age out of) an orphanage or foster care. Can you imagine never knowing the unconditional love of a family, never having a family to get together with, never having parents to call with exciting news or to help you through the difficult times? Our hearts grieve for these children and we wish we could give them all a home!
We are so thankful for the 2 children God has chosen to give us. It is truly His work! We cannot imagine our lives without them! It seem like they have been with us forever - we could not love them more if they were biologically related to us. They are OUR SONS! God just chose for someone else to carry them for us - He knew (and planned!) from the foundation of the world that Calvin and Patrick would be our children.
We are so thankful for the birthmoms God used to give us these wonderful gifts and pray that they know that the boys are cared for and loved; that they are learning about the Lord and growing and changing daily. If I had a chance to write them a letter, it would go something like this:

Dear Calvin's birthmom & Patrick's birthmom,
Tears fill my eyes when I think of you. You probably don't even realize the great gift you have given me. I longed for children and through both of you, I have the most beautiful boys in the whole world. You carried them and gave them life so I could show them how to live life. We will never let them forget you.
My heart is overwhelmed with love for these two children who miraculously came into our family. I watch them grow and develop and wish that you could see them, too and know that they are doing great! Calvin had surgery to repair his lip and palate - he was so brave and he looks so handsome. He was so proud to have it done! Patrick is tall, handsome and strong - just yesterday he was pulling a wagon and being such a big boy. The boys love each other; they are brothers in the truest sense of the word. We are so glad they have each other.
We love the country of Kazakhstan and look forward to teaching them about the traditions and culture of their birthplace. We love you. In some way, you are a part of our family, you have made our family stronger and more beautiful, you have given us more of an appreciation for life, you have unknowingly changed our view of the world, and you have challenged us to think beyond ourselves.
We are forever grateful to you for relinquishing the boys you carried so they could be a part of our family. We commit to give them every opportunity we can, to care for their health, to teach them about life and more importantly about the Lord, and to love them unconditionally. Thank you. They are well. We are well. We are blessed.

With love and gratitude,
Calvin & Patrick's Mom

**We don't have a picture from today yet...we'll work on that. :)**

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

And Now for a Short Intermission...

I'm pausing in our re-publishing of last years posts since the October 3 post was a little boring and didn't have much to do with the boys. :) You can read it here if you really want to. Instead, I'm posting adorable pictures of the boys in their Kazakh hats and vests which fit this year! We bought them from a local woman in Almaty - they are made of boiled wool and they are super cute although not as cute as the boys wearing them! :)