Friday, April 29, 2011

A Royal Fat Friday!

 Did you catch the Royal Wedding?
It was so beautiful!
I have to agree with some friends' facebook comments:  how awesome to have a day to celebrate the marriage of one man and one woman!  Love it!

And that cake...wow!
Of course, I really don't think it's quite as beautiful as Amanda's Royal Wedding Cake over at I am Baker!  Wish I could have scored myself a piece of that beauty!
Isn't she talented?  I love those roses!

I didn't attempt a wedding cake, but this Stuffed French Toast is a little royal treat we enjoyed at our Easter brunch.  
It felt even more royal reheated with a cup of tea!

Raspberry Stuffed French Toast with Custard Sauce

4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, softened
1/2 cup  sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp.  ground cinnamon
2 whole eggs
2   egg whites
1-1/4 qt. (5 cups) fat-free milk, divided
1 loaf  French bread (16 oz.), ends trimmed, cut into 18 slices
1 pkg. (12 oz.) frozen unsweetened raspberries
1 pkg.  (3.4 oz.) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding


BEAT first 4 ingredients in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Add whole eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, mixing well after each. Gradually beat in 2 cups milk.
ARRANGE 9 bread slices on bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; cover with half the berries and remaining bread slices. Pour Neufchatel mixture over bread. Let stand 30 min.
HEAT oven to 350°F. Bake French toast 40 min. or until golden brown. Meanwhile, bring remaining milk just to boil in saucepan; gradually add dry pudding mix, whisking until well blended. Remove from heat; let stand 5 min. Meanwhile, microwave remaining raspberries in small microwaveable bowl on HIGH 15 to 20 sec. or until warmed.
SPOON pudding over individual servings of French toast; top with berries.


Make Ahead
Assemble casserole as directed. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. When ready to serve, bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 40 to 45 min. or until golden brown. Meanwhile, prepare custard sauce and raspberry mixture. Serve as directed.
 
What ROYAL treat did you enjoy today?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Late Night Lollygagging with Londa

I really need sleep, but Carson gets more pain medicine in 30 minutes...so I'll wait.

This week has been CrAzY!
Nothing terrible, just a lot of things!

Thankfully, we started out the week with a day off of school for Cloe.
Everyone slept in--Carson won!  He didn't make an appearance until 10:00!  Every Easter Sunday should be followed by a day off!

Tuesday, we started off the morning bright and early at 5:15!
Cody has had a hernia for several years, but it seemed to escalate during the winter.  He was thrilled to have this little surgery. {sarcasm}

At the surgery center, we ran into a family that we know.  The husband was asking Cloe what her daddy was having surgery for.  Cloe replied, "I don't know but it's something with his (in a whisper and pointing down) p.r.iv.a.t.e.s."  Later, I did some quick explaining about muscles and sides...you know, before she went to school and told her friends about her morning!  Thankfully she lost a tooth at school, so she was completely distracted!
I really did (and still do) feel badly for how painful this has been for Cody!  He was completely immobile on the couch for two days.  I slept on the floor beside him in case he needed anything.  Thankfully he's slowing feeling better!

Tuesday evening, my parents came into town with my brother.  He's back in the states for a few meetings.  They spent the night before his flight took off the next morning. 
I think our kids especially enjoyed time horsing around with Uncle Mark!

Wednesday night at church, I had one of those, "Phew, maybe I'm not so old and out of style" moments!
This is my friend, Julie.  She was in our youth group way back when, and now we're both expecting babies together.  AND we were wearing the same cardigan!  Julie is always oober cute and stylish...matching her just sort of made my night!  (It's the little things, you know!)

While being laid up on the couch Wednesday afternoon, Cody had posted our Jeep for sale on Craigslist.  Calls, texts, and emails came flooding in!  The kids and I rushed home Wednesday night for someone to come over and look at it.  Guess what!  It SOLD!  So now, we officially need to find that BIG car with enough room for this coming baby boy!  

Thursday, we were back up bright and early again!  This time, it was Carson's turn to head to the surgery center to get his tonsils and adenoids out.  I just planned on taking Carson so Cody could rest a little more and stay with the other two.  However, McClain could not handle letting Carson go, so he tagged along.
They were so stinkin' cute together!  McClain kept holding Carson's hand patting his shoulder.  Carson told the nurse he was "Crazy Scared."  That made this overly-tired, emotional mama fight tears.
Thankfully, Carson quickly earned the affection of the whole staff at the surgery center.  (I think it was because he was the only little person there with a bunch of geriatric patients!)
The anesthesiologist really took a liking to Carson and gave him the royal treatment walking back to surgery.  Again, we're so thankful, everything went very well!
He wasn't thrilled to wake up, but once he realized his diet would consist of jello, pudding, popsicles, ice cream, Gatorade, and yogurt, life was good again!  He's such a little trooper!  Even all medicated, he just sat so wide awake.  Of course, his sleepy brother enjoyed a nice long nap this afternoon!

And lastly...this is me and my quickly disappearing feet.  Probably like my readers...disappearing quickly at the length and tediousness of reading this post.
BUT, guess what, time has passed.  It's time for little boy's medicine and time for bed. 
Wa-hoo!

I know many of you have had crazy weeks, too!  Hoping next week is CALM!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Birthday Shenanigans

It's hard to believe that we have an eight year old at our house!
However, planning the birthday party for Cloe has never been easier!

This year, Cloe came up with a COOKING theme for her party.
She was full of helpful ideas and plans!

We thought it would be fun for all the girls to have an apron to wear while they cooked.
The girls also got to take their aprons home.
 My mom came up with this super easy pattern a couple of years ago.
Just squares of fabric, buttons, velcro, and ribbon...maybe a tutorial will come later!

 Cloe picked out her cake from some options we found at different websites.
This cake is from Parenting.  
It was super easy--I even cut out one step and just baked the cake in an oval casserole dish.
 We also made a special CLOE banner!
SO easy and cute!  You can find the directions here from My Blessed Life.


Just waiting for our guests to arrive!

 We started out with pizza making!
(Thank you, Trader Joes, for having 99 cent dough!)
 There were some pretty interesting pizza creations!

 While the pizzas baked, Cloe opened her presents.
She got some of the coolest girlie gifts!
Sort of made me wish I could be eight again!

The girls were pretty satisfied eating their own pizzas!

Next, it was cookie decorating time!
 I found the adorable idea for Funny Bunnies from Munchkin Munchies.
The girls used my edible markers to draw their own bunny faces.

 They were a huge hit!

 Next we decorated cupcakes.
The girls could choose to decorate an Easter basket, a marshmallow flower (like on the cake),
or an Easter bunny.
Thankfully, all the girls' cupcakes turned out super cute.
 We tucked them in little boxes to take home.


 Then it was cake time!
Happy Birthday Sweet Cloe!
We love you so much!
You always bring sunshine to our family!

Not to be left out...
McClain and Carson jumped on board with the Funny Bunnies.
 Aren't these hilarious?
 A super whiskery bunny!



Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Weekend Recap!


Our Easter Weekend was packed full of fun and special times!

Friday afternoon, we picked up Cloe from school and headed to church to get ready for the Good Friday Service.  It was a really beautiful, yet somber candlelit service.  Because we were doing quite a few songs, the kids sat with a couple of our college girls.  Thankfully, they did a great job staying focused.  It's amazing how much they really do understand about the death of Jesus Christ as a substitution for the penalty of our sins.  
Saturday, we headed back to church for the Easter Extravaganza.  The kids all gathered to hear a great Easter story before running out to snatch up lots of eggs.  Here's a link to video that was shown--it's totally worth watching!

 It was a little chilly and super windy, so we had to layer up!
No spring clothes yet!
 I think Carson was saying, "Ah man, all the eggs are gone already!"
 McClain just tooled it up out there and hoarded a few more than his share of eggs.
It was a good lesson in generosity to look for kids who needed more eggs!
 Some super nice people helped with a lot of fun and games in the gym!
(Here's one of the nicest couples at church helping out!)


Then...we ran home, quickly pulled our house together and hosted a birthday party for one special 8 year old and seven of her little friends...details to come in another post!  


 SUNDAY!
We just recently started having two services, so Cody and I were off to church by 6:45 am for practice.
Grandma and Grandpa helped get the kids all gussied up and brought them later.
After two awesome celebration services, we snapped a few quick pictures.

I know I'm totally biased...but I can't get enough of the cuteness and sweetness...
 Cloe and her new puppy
 Cloe and McClain
 Cloe and Carson

 All three kids!
 So many options on how to wear the hat!

 Should have savored the moment of Carson sitting still before the Easter candy appeared!

 Our Whole Family!

 We finished off the day with one more little Easter Egg Hunt in the backyard.



It was a completely exhausting but wonderful weekend!
Hope you were able to truly celebrate JESUS!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Thrifty Forum

So, it's Thrifty Thursday.
It's also the beginning of garage sale season!
Should be a very good thing, correct?
Bargains, treasures, free boxes:  what could be wrong here?

Well, I'm in need of your wisdom this week.  I'd love to have you share any opinions and advice on the following issues:

*Gas is currently quite expensive.  Is it worth the cost of driving around to find the good sales?  What limits will you set on how far you drive?  How will you choose what garage sales to visit?

*The news stations have been reporting that bedbugs are becoming quite the problem.  They warned people against buying things at garage sales because it could transfer bedbugs into your home.  Will this stop you from going to garage sales?  Will you take any precautions?

Thanks in advance for responding!  I'll try to repost some of your comments for everyone to see!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rachael Ray's Pizza Pasta Salad

There's nothing like a good, hearty pasta salad to feed a crowd!

My good friend, Liz, brought this salad to church awhile back.

It was so unique and flavorful compared to other pasta salads I've made.

We made it for our small group from church, and it passed with flying colors!

Try it the next time you need enough food for a small army!

Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad
(recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray)



2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
8 fresh white button mushrooms, sliced
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 stick pepperoni, casing removed and cut into a small dice
1 pound ball fresh mozzarella or fresh smoked mozzarella, diced
20 leaves fresh basil, torn or thinly sliced
1 pound wagon wheel pasta, cooked to al dente and cooled under cold water, then drained

Dressing:
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves or Italian dried seasoning
1 rounded tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (eyeball it)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation
Combine tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, peppers, pepperoni, mozzarella, basil and pasta in a big bowl.
Whisk garlic salt, oregano or Italian seasoning, tomato paste and vinegar together in a small bowl. Stream in EVOO (eyeball it) while continuing to whisk dressing. When EVOO is incorporated, pour dressing over pasta salad, add a few grinds of black pepper to the bowl, then toss salad to coat evenly. Adjust your seasonings to taste and serve salad. Leftovers make a great lunch or snack the next day!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

We're back!

 Some couples plan relaxing, tropical vacations for a "Babymoon".

Cody and I?
We just seem to be hitting up every cool conference we can find!

This last week we were in Chicago for this amazing conference.

 The music was led by Keith and Kristyn Getty--more cool Irish people.
Sandra McCracken, Sojourn, and Kevin Twitt were also there!
  
We also got to hear awesome preaching from D A Carson, Matt Chandler, Tim Keller, James MacDonald and other oober smart guys!

Other fun highlights from the week included...
amazing buildings, riding in taxis, trying out new restaurants, speed shopping with my good friend Liz, and lots and lots of laughing!

 This is my favorite picture from the trip.
Although the thought and smell of coffee still makes me completely nauseous (thank you, baby #4),
this little barista was so fun to watch.  
Everyone else raved at the coffee from Intelligentsia.  If you get to Chicago, check it out!
So there you go...
...we're back home and ready to hit the road running with preparations for Easter and a special little girl's 8th birthday party!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thrifty Thursday!

Thrifty Tip #63:  Check out these FREE online educational resources for children!

I'm always looking for fun projects and supplemental educational material for our kids.
Rather than having to spend a lot of money on educational materials at Barnes & Noble or The Learning Post, use these free resources to teach your children--all while having fun!

Printable Resources:

Progressive Phonics (This is probably my favorite website at the moment.  You have to register, but it's totally free.  They provide great packets for teaching your children to read with phonics.)

Garden Preschool Pack  (This link provides incredibly cute worksheets on gardening for preschoolers.  It goes along perfectly with the little starter seeds we are growing right now!)

Homeschool Creations 

Easy Fun School Unit Studies

Scripture Memory Coloring Sheets

Confessions of a Homeschooler



Coloring Sheets


Christian Preschool Printables


Interactive Websites:

Starfall

Brookview's Technology Website--Full of Grade Level Links (This website is provided by our very own elementary school!)

ABCya

I know there are zillions of educational websites out there, 
so please share your favorites!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pass the trees, please!

We LOVE broccoli at our house!

raw or steamed

cheesy or saucy

It's always eaten!

This recipe was the perfect comfort food for a chilly, rainy spring day.
It's a very easy, quick cooking recipe, too!

(So quick it was done before Cody got home from work and and had to stay warm in the oven while the rest of us drooled over the yummy, bubbly, cheesy goodness!)

Macaroni and Trees 

(A recipe from Whole Foods...where else!)


Salt for pasta water, plus 1/2 teaspoon more for cheese sauce
4 cups broccoli florets
8 ounces dry fusilli pasta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups low-fat milk
Pinch black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional--but I used a BIG pinch!)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese*
Preheat the broiler. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.  
Add broccoli, return to a boil and cook, uncovered, until al dente, about 4 minutes. Remove broccoli with a slotted spoon, leaving the water in the pot. (I did not cook the broccoli like suggested.  We like our broccoli more "firm" so I just added it with the cheese sauce in the baking dish.) 
Boil the pasta in the water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook gently for about a minute. Whisk in the milk, salt, pepper and cayenne. Bring milk mixture to a simmer, reduce the heat, and cook for about 5 minutes until mixture thickens. Stir in two thirds of the cheese until it has melted. Remove saucepan from heat and set aside.

In 2-quart oven-proof dish, combine the pasta with 2/3 of the cheese sauce. Add the broccoli to the remaining cheese sauce in the saucepan.

Encircle the pasta in the dish with the broccoli. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top and broil for about 3 minutes, until cheese begins to bubble.  (or keep warm at 170 degrees until your husband finally gets home from work...)


YUM!

What's your favorite way to eat broccoli?
(You do eat your broccoli, right?  
Your mom would want you to!)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fat Friday!

We're having a baby!
April Foo...oh wait, that's for real this year!

Speaking of baby, Little Mister is making me feel quite large.
I've been a bit freaked out to get on the scale at the doctor's office.

You know, when your stomach suddenly protrudes like a basketball it makes you wonder just how much weight could be packed in there.  Thankfully, my weight stayed the same this month, but Little Mister doubled in size and grew a whole pound!  So yes, bigger but not fatter!
(Glad I just shared way too much information with all of you!)


Oh yes, so speaking of FAT...
Here are some Fat Friday Cookies!

Breakfast Fig and Nut Cookies


3/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped dried figs
1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (about 2 1/3 ounces)
1/2 cup unprocessed bran (about 1 ounce)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in chopped figs, cranberries, and vanilla.

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, bran, baking soda, cinnamon, and allspice, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, stirring just until moist. Gently fold in almonds.

Drop by level 1/4 cup measures 4 inches apart on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle evenly with granulated sugar. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until almost set. Cool 2 minutes on pans. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

"These over-sized cookies are more like muffin tops, but calling them cookies makes them seem a bit more indulgent. They're chock-full of exercise-friendly ingredients like dried fruit and nuts. They're ideal with a glass of skim milk for breakfast after a morning workout."

What?  
You say those are not Fat Cookies?

APRIL FOOLS!

They are still super delicious, and you should try them!