Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our holiday weekend....

So we've had an interesting holiday. We spent the night of the 23rd in the hospital with Jillian. Her cold had turned into croup and she needed breathing treatments. She was sooo close to having to be admitted to the hospital for a day or two. Which REALLY would have stunk. Since the start of Tyler's issues over a year ago and not knowing if he was going to need brain surgery or if he had something that would kill him, I have turned into one of those crazy people that have to document everything. I have a picture of every time we've been in the hospital, every serious procedure we've had to do. This time it was for my little girl. She had to have two separate breathing treatments, chest x-rays (the thing that keeps little kids from moving looks like a torture device, I felt awful) and she had to be on "wet" oxygen (the hospital's version of a humidifier in her breathing mask). Here are some pictures of our late night adventure (we didn't get out of there until after 3:30 a.m.)

 She really did like the popsicles though. 

Now they're both sick, although the croup is gone, now it's just really bad coughing and lots of goop, grump and cling times 2. I hope we will all be better soon. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Eep! I actually can show you something that I've been working on!!

I know right? I haven't been able to show anything since they've all been Christmas presents. But I can finally show you something! Because they're gifts for little people who don't have internet access (aka, my children and babies). So without further ado:
 One of these is a Christmas gift for the 8 month old of our best Alaskan friends, and the other one is for a brand new baby girl, born on Monday morning.

 Kitchen accessories set for my little chefs. Mini pot holders, oven mitts and aprons (one several inches shorter)

Christmas dresses! My first experience in making clothes with no pattern. It was a learning experience and a success. 
I've been having a lot of fun! Are you all ready for Christmas?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Quick, easy Christmas gift

 Oh I'm so mad. I uploaded pictures, wrote out the whole blog, and then when I posted it, it kicked me out and the only thing it kept in the drafts was the title!! So I have to start again from scratch. Okay so a few months ago I picked up this chalboard menu vinyl set from www.pickyourplum.com I love that site, they have a new crafty deal everyday. But if you have a Silhouette or a Cricket, you can make the same thing. I bought 6 of them I think, because I was going to use them for Christmas gifts then decided to go in a different direction. Anyway so I had the vinyl, the 11x14 frame that I'd picked up for dirt cheap at Michael's, and the fabric from my stash and today in between laundry loads I decided to just put it together.

So first I took two of the main chalkboard pieces (if you're making your own, you can make yours bigger) and cut off one end of each so it could lay down evenly. Prepare your surface.
Then add your chalkboard vinyl
 Then I added the 'menu' word on top and cut apart each day letter so I could figure out where they were going.
 For the background, I just cut around the back board of the frame. Since I know I'll probably end up changing out the fabric I only used a glue stick, but you could mod podge yours.

Ta-da! A super cute and functional chalkboard menu. Maybe now the hubby will stop asking me "what's for dinner?" This would make a really cute simple gift for someone. :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Alrighty, I promised, and I deliver! ha ha! Okay, so here are some pictures for you. Enjoy!!

 My bottom heavy Christmas tree
 The reason why my tree is bottom heavy. ;)

Just kidding! This is my friend Rachel. She's due in about 2 weeks. Isn't she adorable? I took her maternity pictures, and when her little girl gets here, I'll be taking her newborn pictures too. I liked it so much, I might just have to start being an actual photographer. :)

 Seriously, one of the most beautiful pregnant ladies I've ever seen. I wish I was that cute when my belly's popped. lol! :D

 Kari all bundled up. :)
 Poor Jilly could barely move. lol! I called her my little abominable snow baby. :) 
 Ready for some ice slides!!
Okay honestly, I don't remember taking this picture........but that's Tyler and Kari getting ready to go down the medium slide. :)

Kind of update, but mostly just chatting.

Okay so I've been ignoring you all shamelessly. :( I really have been trying to get everything done, and I have to pick and choose, which stinketh. And I don't even have any pictures for you because my camera is in the car (oops) but we've been having fun. Last Saturday the Christmas in Ice park opened up. It's one of my favorite things about Alaska. So we bundled (although, we really didn't need to so much, it was 30 some odd degrees, I ended up taking off my outer coat) and it was really dark so I didn't get any pictures, flash ruins the look, and I don't have nor did I want to cart around a tripod to get good night pictures, next time we go, we'll go when it's light outside (all three hours of it). Anyway, we slid for a couple hours, the girls had a ton of fun, so did mom and dad. We were all a bit sore the next day though. Speaking of the next day, it warmed up to a whopping 47 degrees! I know what you're thinking, "Awesome, enjoy the warm weather!" well let me tell you a little something about Alaska, if everything melts, it WILL all freeze again, this time as solid ice instead of mostly harmless snow, and that ice will stay coated on my driveway, the roads, the sidewalks, the parking lots, ect, until everything melts finally in MAY. We had something similar last year and let me tell you, it was terrifying every time we got in the car. I had hoped that last year was a fluke, but two years in a row equals major suck. I can honestly say that I will be very happy when we finally move. Speaking of, our future is kind of in flux right now. We're trying to decide between re-enlisting for 4 years and going overseas (REAL overseas this time) which would be so awesome to live somewhere in Europe and get to go see all the incredible stuff over there, the Roman coliseum, the Louvre, the Neuschwanstien castle, all the wonderful things that I loved learning about. Another option is dropping into the reserves and going to law school, there's also this Law Clerk program in Washington that is basically you're an apprentice for 4 years with an experienced lawyer and then you can take the bar exam, law license without a degree, which would be limiting, if Tyler wanted to practice anywhere but Washington, he'd have to go to school when he's already a lawyer =suck. BUT it would let us live in the Tri-Cities, Tyler have a full time good paying job with benefits instead of being a starving student family for three years. Another option that just opened up is a reserve opening in a small post in Salt Lake, they want him now though so he's thinking about the "Palace Chase" program (don't ask me why it's called that, I have no idea) and getting out of here as soon as May, but the downside to that would be that he wouldn't have his degree yet and most schools won't accept his military credits so not only would it set him back in his bachelor's degree about 18 months but he wouldn't have a degree to be working as a paralegal, which means he'd be in some stupid menial job doing who knows what for a year and a half. I vote that we DON'T do that one. I'm trying to "go with the flow" but it goes against my personality and I'm having a hard time not being worried/frustrated/terrified/annoyed with having absolutely NO idea where we will be even 18 months from now but I'm preparing as well as I can and putting my faith in the Lord that he will help us know what the right decision is and that we'll be okay no matter what happens. Anyway, when Tyler gets home from lunch, I'll put up a couple pictures, until then, I'll be working on Christmas presents (as usual). I'm hoping to get my packages out by the end of this week though so I really have to pick things up. Later everyone! Miss you all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tasty Tuesday- Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli and Rice casserole

Okay, this meal honestly took me about 13 minutes, and it was delish!
1 can of Chicken broth
2 cans of chicken
1 bag of broccoli cuts, thawed
2 cups minute rice
6 oz Velveeta cheese, cut up into cubes

Okay, so this part is super hard, are you ready? Boil the chicken broth. When it's boiling throw in your rice, mix. Then throw in everything else. Cover, take off heat. Let it sit covered for 10 minutes, then stir until all the cheese is melted. Voila'! You're done. It's yummy, and both my husband and my kids loved it. I call that a win! Although it wasn't as saucy as I would like. I think next time I'll throw in a can of cream of chicken soup.

And for all you who don't give a rip about recipes or projects, here's a couple pictures of my kiddos doing their favorite activity :)

Don't you just love the concentration on their faces? :D

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A mini update while I'm in Christmas present making mode. :)

I have been ignoring this blog shamelessly. It's because I've been busy. I finally finished one whole Christmas present last night at about 9 p.m. (it had a lot of parts I'd been working on it for awhile) and so today instead of barreling into the next project, I decided to deep clean my house. When I'm working on a project, a lot of things slide. I still do the dishes that need to be done in order to eat, wash the clothes that need to be washed so we can all be decent, but I don't fold and put away any of it, in fact, most of mine and Tyler's is currently in a pile at the foot of the bed, and I don't scrub counters (and you can tell) so today I'll be cleaning all day, then I'll watch my episode of bones while I make the pattern for my next project and get back in the grind tomorrow. I feel bad for neglecting this blog so much, but I absolutely have to get out my packages by the first weekend in December or else they won't get to the recipients on time. I also just ordered my Christmas cards and I'm working on my Christmas letter, I'd like to get them out by December 1. I like to enjoy my holiday, not be stressed about cards and presents and such. Can you believe that Thanksgiving is in a week? What are you thankful for?
 I'm thankful for my little girls and their daddy.

And I'm grateful for the simple things in life. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wednesday whatever-Giving back

Wednesday Whatever, HA! Funny right? Anyway, I wanted to share something with you all that happened to me last night.
So it's been snowing up here, a lot. And the base housing office will give you a "ticket" if you don't clear the snow off your driveway and the sidewalk within 24 hours of snowfall. More often if necessary. So Monday night I went out and shoveled 4 inches of snow off the driveway (btw, did you know that an hour of snow shoveling equals 700 calories burned?) and my neighbor across the street was shoveling with one of those all plastic crappy little shovels. I always cringe when I see one of those, sure it costs much less than a good shovel but it takes you at least 5 times as long and it doesn't really get all the snow off anyway. And if any of it is packed down, say from your car driving in and out of your garage, forget about it. It just can't get it off. Anyway, so after I finished mine, I walked across the street and offered to help the guy with the crappy plastic shovel. He said no thanks, about 3 different times. Then I offered to let him borrow my shovel, "no thanks, I'm buying one of those tomorrow" Okie-dokie dude. If you want to do everything the hard way, who am I to stand in the way of your happiness? :P So it's the next night (Tuesday) and it had snowed a little bit, not a lot so it wouldn't take that long. I get all bundled up, start up my ipod and start scraping the tire tracks (I do the hard stuff first, makes your lines easier) so as I'm going along I notice a little lady (meaning short and petite) scraping a driveway two doors down from mine...and she had one of those crappy plastic shovels (honestly people, it's Alaska, you'd think we'd all know better by now right?) so I finish up the tire tracks and I look back over at the lady and I just get one of those impulsive feelings. So I stop doing what I'm doing and walk over to where she is chipping away at over a week's worth of driven on snow. She looks up and asks, "Can I help you?" I said, "Actually I was wondering if I could help you." She says yes. I was happy because I like to help people. And we are both scraping away and I find out that she doesn't actually live there, she is the supervisor of the guy that lives there. He is deployed and his mother lives there with his kids. She's got chronic back arthritis and I met her a little later, she was also bald, which usually equals chemo and cancer in my head. I was floored. Here was my neighbor, I had no idea that she needed help, and I followed a feeling and it ended up being a blessing for this lady. So I helped the supervisor. We scraped that darn driveway in negative 10 degree weather for over an hour. I brought over my shovel and my heavy duty ice scraper. I was thanked several times by both Mary (the lady who is living there) and Dana (the supervisor) and it was nice. I like helping people but it's really nice when it's someone that really needs the help. When I was done doing that driveway I said my goodbyes and walked back to my house and finished shoveling my driveway. I was on such a high. Helping each other is what we're all here for. We're all in this together. I told Mary when she said thank you "tis the season" and it really is. November means being Thankful. For me, when I'm focusing on what I'm thankful for, I want to bless others too. Charity means more than giving money to the Salvation Army, it's being willing to be out scraping for an hour extra when I could have had mine finished and back inside in 15 minutes. I'm not trying to toot my own horn because I am far from perfect but I just wanted to say that sometimes what someone needs is so simple and easy to give, you just have to be paying attention and be willing to listen to that feeling. I hope during this season to help many more people. :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tasty Tuesday- Lasagna casserole

Okay so this is pretty darn quick, tasty, and since I use bow-tie pasta, the kids love it. SCORE! First I wanted to show you something funny. :)

Apparently this is what happens when I boil water during the winter. That'll get old fast. :P Anyway, back on topic. The recipe. Ta-da!!
1 box Farfelle (bow tie) pasta
1 lb ground turkey (the lower in fat the better)
1 26 oz can spaghetti sauce ( I used the kind that comes with meat in it, because that's the kind that I have a million of for my food storage)
Freshly grated Parmesan, you'll need the whole wedge
2 cups Mozzarella
2 cups frozen mixed veggies (because anytime I can sneak more veggies into my kiddos and hubby is a GOOD thing lol!)
2 Eggs
1 lb cottage cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Okay, cook up your meat, if you used ground turkey you shouldn't have to drain, if you used ground beef than you definitely will have to. While your meat is cooking, get your water heating up for your pasta, while you're waiting for the meat to cook and the water to boil, mix most of your grated Parmesan (I'm really wishing that I measured this but one of those little wedges you get in the refrigerated section grates down to two cups or so. I leave out about a third of it for later but throw the rest in the mix) sorry, so mix 2/3rds of your Parmesan, your cottage cheese, 2 eggs and salt and pepper. Mix well. By this time your water should be boiling so throw in your pasta. When your meat is done add it to your cottage cheese mix, then add your veggies and pasta sauce. When your pasta is done, throw it in there too (I'm sure you've figured out that you need a large bowl for this. ;D)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spray a 9x13 with cooking spray. Throw about half of your pasta mix on there. Toss 1 cup of your mozzarella  and half of your remaining Parmesan on top, even it out. Then put the other half of the mixture on, even out, then top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Throw in the oven for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

p.s. Funny little thing about Parmesan. It took me a lot of years before I realized that the dusty stuff in the green sprinkling can is NOT real Parmesan. It's so much yummier and stringier when you use the real stuff. Especially if you're making an Alfredo sauce, mmmmmmm....yummy.
Yes, this picture was taken after hubby had already dug in. Oh well, at least he liked it! :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thoughts of the day, being Thankful

I've been a little MIA on the ol' B-LOG, but I have a good excuse, I've been working my little behind off getting Christmas presents done. It sucks because that means I can't put them up until after Christmas since most of the people I'm making stuff for read my blog, that would be lame to ruin the surprise SO I'm going to change gears for a bit, I'll still be putting stuff up but I'd like to focus on Thanksgiving. I've noticed myself kind of skipping over Thanksgiving and just treating it like a dress rehearsal for Christmas dinner, but this year I want to focus on Thanksgiving as it's own holiday, the traditions, the meanings and especially focusing on what I am thankful for in my life. Today I am grateful for my little girls. They are always giving me kisses and cuddles and I just love being a mom and I think that I have the most adorable little girls on the planet, (of course I am not biased in any way, shape or form hee hee!) I am very happy and content in this life that I have chosen, sure there are difficult days, but the rewards completely outweigh the hard things.

During my Thanksgiving research I came across this little tidbit: did you know that the original Thanksgiving meal not only had turkey but also waterfowl, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin and squash? Most of those have continued on in Thanksgiving tradition except the seafood. I never would have guessed except it would make sense, Plymouth colony was on the coast, it would make a lot of sense to serve seafood. I'm thinking about having crab (because I don't like lobster) on the table this year, in honor of the first Thanksgiving. :) Have a wonderful day everyone. Recipe tomorrow!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tasty Tuesday- Creamy Caramel Fruit Dip

Oh dear heavens, thank goodness that it's November!! Yay! I'm so excited. My favorite t.v. show (Bones) is coming back on Thursday, people don't look at me like I'm crazy when I listen to Christmas music. Woo hoo! BUT it also means that there's only a few weeks before everything has to be shipped out from up here or else risk it being late. I guess it's time to get presents cranked out. I've got a lot of cool things on my list this year, I'll be taking pictures as I get them done but won't be able to share them with you until after Christmas, wouldn't want to ruin surprises. Anyway, so I threw my first Halloween party yesterday (although really, there wasn't much Halloween about it) and it was great. But can you believe that I didn't take a single picture?? Lots of yummy food and good company and zero pictures. Oh well. One of my favorite recipes is my mother-in-law's Creamy Caramel Fruit Dip, despite the name, there is no caramel in this recipe.

Creamy Caramel Dip 
1 Pkg (8oz) cream cheese 
3/4 C packed brown sugar 
1 cup (8oz) sour cream 
2 tsp vanilla extract 
2 tsp lemon juice 
1 C cold milk 
1 pkg (3.4oz) instant vanilla pudding mix 
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and brown sugar until smooth. Add the sour cream, vanilla, lemon juice, milk and pudding mix, beating well after each addition. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. Serve with fruit.
Oh my YUM. This is one of those dips that you put a ton on and people say, "Hey, you want some fruit with your dip?" ha ha! I love it and it's perfect for any party. Apples and this dip is pretty much what I ate for breakfast. lol! Enjoy! I know I did. ;)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Inspirational Sunday-Jenni James

Okay, I realize that it is currently Monday morning, but I had a friend over last night so I didn't get to my blog BUT Mrs. Jenni James is pretty incredible so I still have to talk about her. You'll remember from Saturday's post how I came across her from my friend Kari. Anyway so I start following her on Facebook, because I like to keep up with when books will be released, book signings, ect, ect. and I tell you what, this lady is Superwoman. She has 7 kids and fosters 3 more! And on top of that, she also cans food like crazy, not to mention coming up with healthy, yummy alternative recipes (her latest one was caramel yum!) not to mention that she writes books, as if she didn't already have plenty on her plate. ha ha! I had the opportunity to do a mini interview with her.
1. What got you into writing?
I was never going to be a writer… ever. I sort of thought it’d be boring. So imagine my surprise when the book Pride & Popularity would not leave me alone? Every free second I had this book would hound me until finally I was like—Okay! Okay! You win. I’ll write. I sat down and began writing… as you say, the rest was history.

2. How do you juggle everything (canning, mothering, writing, general supermom-ing)?
Erm… juggle? Lol! I don’t think I’d make a good juggler. I just do it. I have to be doing something or I’ll go mad. So I have a bunch of kids (5 at home/5 at school) always around my legs and feet. To guarantee they don’t make huge messes somewhere, I tend to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. If I’m in there, I might as well be baking or canning. When they’re asleep is my best writing time. It’s when I finally have a moment to myself and can just write. As to the supermom comment… er, I’ll let you know when I get to that status! Lol!

3. What made you want to modernize Jane Austen?

 It was my mom, actually. We were hashing out what to call this book, when I told her it was a lot like Pride and Prejudice. She instantly said, “well, why don’t you call it Pride & Popularity?” I LOVED the idea. We were both huge Jane Austen fans and it would be something super easy for me to tweak and work the storyline into Pride and Prejudice. After I went back to working on the book, I realized I had several other characters already in the first one to inspire the others. It was a no brainer after that to rewrite the whole series.

4. Who inspires you?

 My mom! She’s amazing! No, really. Like, crazy awesome! She can run circles around what I do every day. One day I hope to be just like her.  Thank you for having me!

When I grow up I want to be as cool as Jenni. :D She inspires me, and makes me want to accomplish more in my life. If she can do everything she does with 10 kids, I should be able to do a whole lot with my 2 right? ;) Thanks so much Jenni for letting me feature you and keep being amazing! :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Something that I love Saturdays-Pride and Popularity

Ahhh, I LOVE this book. Mostly because I adore Jane Austen, good clean books, and a whitty author, all of which is in this book. I discovered Jenni through my friend Kari. They are sisters. So about a year or so back I get an e-mail from my friend Kari saying something to the effect of, "Hey, my sister is rewriting the Jane Austen books and she'd like some people to read what she's got and give feedback," well I'm never one to say no to THAT. lol! So I read her book, which was Northanger Alibi (coming out in November by the way) and it was FUN. I've read a couple other stories written by her and loved them all. So Pride and Popularity comes out, and I buy it, in fact I bought the kindle version too because it would take too long to get here. And it was great. Pride and Prejudice is my favorite Austen book, so I had high hopes. I wasn't disappointed. I will say, if you're looking for heavy cuss filled, naked scenes, ect, ect, LOOK ELSEWHERE. This book is about as squeeky clean as you can get. It IS written for teenagers, it takes place in a high school. However it doesn't make the writing sloppy, it is very well written, and when my girls get a bit older, I'm sure I'll be reading this series to them. If you love Jane Austen, and a quick, fun read, give this one a try. :)
Book Description:
Chloe Elizabeth Hart despises the conceited antics of the popular crowd, or more importantly, one very annoying self-possessed guy, Taylor Anderson, who seems determined to make her the president of his fan club! As if! Every girl in the whole city of Farmington, New Mexico, is in love with him, but he seems to be only interested in Chloe. This modern high school adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is a battle of wits as Chloe desperately tries to remain the only girl who can avoid the inevitable falling for Taylor.

About the Author

Jenni James is a busy mom of seven children who is married to a totally hot Air Force recruiter. When she isn't busy chasing her kids around the house, she's dreaming of new romantic books to write. Pride & Popularity is the first book in Jenni's series, The Jane Austen Diaries. The second book in the series, Northanger Alibi, will be released by Inkberry Press in November 2011.

To find out more about The Jane Austen Diaries or Jenni's other projects, please visit her website, authorjennijames.com, or her Facebook page, The Jane Austen Diaries. Jenni loves to hear from her readers and may be contacted at jenni@authorjennijames.com.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tutu dresses

Okay, so I've made a bunch of tutus in my life as mother of girls, these I made much the same way except I measured the length from right under their armpits. Jill was 21 inches long. I added an extra 2 inches because as it poofs it raises a bit, plus you need to compensate about an inch for your knot. Kari's ended up being about 32 inches or so.. I used a whole 50 yrd spool of 6 inch tulle plus a little bit for each because I doubled my layers to add volume. Also for the final result they wore their regular tutus under the dresses. Remember that really cool trick to make tutu making easier from this post? Well thanks to Pinterest, I discovered another trick that made making these a breeze! 

 Find a piece of cardboard (or a book, foam board, ect) that is the right size that you're looking for in this case, about 23 inches.
 Start your tulle on one end (I folded down the corner of this side so I knew which side I started on.)
 Wrap, and wrap, keep going!

 I used the whole roll.

 Then make ONE cut on the side that you started on.
Viola! You've got strips that are all exactly the same length. Now continue on with my other little trick with a jug or vase.

I should note in here, that for a tutu that goes around the waist I only take about three inches off the elastic, but since I needed it to stay nice and tight on their chests, I took about 5 inches off the measurement. Then I took an extra strip, folded it in half, then looped it through and tied at the back for the shoulder strap. Then do another one. then I took a satin ribbon and just tied it a couple inches down when they were wearing the dresses so that it had a little bit of a shape. And you're done! :)