Feb 23, 2012

As I set at the computer this morning wondering what to type, I had floods of information come. Yet in those floods, nothing made enough sense for me to try to put into words.

My new years resolution Make it Count is working, not always as good as I would like it to, but I am doing much better. Part of my goal was to make time with my children count, spending more time together. Hailey and I have started going to a local book club once a month, she starts volleyball next week and we have been practicing together and I have been letting her help in the kitchen more. Alyssa is my trial. She seems to zone out and not care about anything except for them wizzards on the disney channel. I still go to her class once a week as a volunteer, but I needed to let her know I care. This is why we did the valentine cookies last week... I still need help with her. Abby has become my little side kick. We play together during the day, I take her to story time at the library each week and she is getting to be a good little reader, reading to me daily. And Macey, well she gets lots of time each day, as does most two year olds.

Another part of making it count dealt with the way I spent my time. While reading through an old acquaintances blog a few weeks ago I found this chores chart from www.my3monsters.com/2011/09/housekeeping.html. I decided to give it a try and it's really working. I had to change up a few things, like it doesn't take me 30 minutes to do the daily chores (it's more like an hour) and I have a few more rooms to clean then she did. It's really helping me organize my schedule better each day and keeping my house clean is really easy.

So, to keep myself organized I have to first clean house daily, second workout, third keep a weekly menu so I only shop once a week and last remember that Macey is growing up quick and needs my time! As long as I stick to this and not to my computer I have plenty of time, I actually have had enough time to have made about 40 scrapbook pages this year already.

As for the second 1/2 of my resolution, it's good and I can really feel the effects with the spirit in our home.

Last night I tried a new recipe from this awesome blog: http://www.homesicktexan.blogspot.com/, she has lots of great recipes. It was easy and really good. My kids even loved it, so I thought I would share this with you.

Tex-Mex sloppy Joe sandwiches
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce (I cut in half and removed seeds)
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 ounces canned tomato sauce
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of cayenne
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
12 ounces chicken broth
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup cilantro, divided (optional)
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
4-6 warm buns for serving

In a large skillet cook the meat until browned, about 10 minutes. (If you like, you can drain the extra fat once the meet is browned.) Add the onions and diced bell pepper and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.

Meanwhile, in a blender mix the tomato sauce, chipotle chile, oregano, ground cumin, paprika, allspice, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce. Pour tomato sauce into the skillet along with the broth, ketchup and half of the cilantro (I didn't use this) . Stir until well combined.

Cook on medium-low heat uncovered for 15 minutes and then stir in the remaining cilantro and lime juice. Adjust seasonings and add salt and black pepper to taste.

Serve on warm buns with guacamole

Now I'm off to make pretzel bites (thanks Shauna for the pinterest link)with Alyssa.

Feb 16, 2012

They're home!!!

I want to say how excited my little girls have been anticipating the homecoming of their grandparents. Grandpa and grandma Giles went on a 1 year mission to the Nauvoo church history mission one month after we moved in with them last year. After living across the ocean for 4 years, these girls were so excited to live near some family again. Macey is to young, but she caught some of the excitement that the others were sharing with her.

Jennifer and Rebecca made a welcome home sign, Abby and me got the house all ready and Hailey must have practiced her piano for an hour just waiting for them to get home. Let me say that getting Hailey to practice at all is becoming quite the task, anyone have suggestions on what to do with a 10 year old that doesn't want to play anymore?

All Wednesday afternoon Alyssa and Hailey ran back and forth to grandma's hoping that they would be the first one to see their car pull up. For those of you that don't know, we built our house on the lot directly behind theirs and we put in a connecting gate between our lots. When we could see that they had pulled up, Abby and Macey were ready to go. We had to run over quickly and give them lots of hugs. The girls even helped grandpa unload their vehicle, but I don't know if Macey helping really helped at all :)

I really think that out of all the girls, Alyssa has been the most excited. I can say this because she has really been wanting grandpa to come home so he could collect the eggs from our chickens. The chicken feeding/egg collecting has been Alyssa's job and while she started out really liking it, time has marked it's path and it's no longer fun! I help her a lot, but we have a few family members afraid of chickens, I won't mention names but HE shouldn't be and she being the oldest child shouldn't be either. It's not like they are going to attack you, Alyssa even pets the chickens.

After such a fun day welcoming home their grandparents, this little Macey was super tired and ready for bed.... but that doesn't mean she wouldn't smile for the camera!

Feb 15, 2012

My Valentine's Fun!

I read about what these awesome mom's do for their families on Valentine's Day and am always thinking to myself "Why can't I do that?". I see their creativity and have convinced myself that I just have just lost mine. I thought about doing things early in the month, but never had the time or put much thought into a valentine surprise. I bought valentines for my kids for school and signed up to help with Hailey's 4th grade class party. That was all I had planned.

While setting in sacrament meeting Sunday, I looked around at how many widows and widowers our ward has and I thought about how Valentines Day must be such a lonely holiday for them. It then donged on me that we could have some fun, I had Hailey and Alyssa each invite a few friends over for after school on Monday and decided we could make sugar cookies and take to those members of our ward, letting them know that we cared. What was I thinking, sugar cookies are not fun to roll out and make, let alone with two-9 year olds, six- 7 year olds, plus my two side kicks! We did make the cookies which turned out awesome, I used two recipes and my favorite came from http://www.ourbestbites.com/. We did a butter cream frosting and a glaze trying a few different things, but the butter cream is definately the best! If you need a good frosting recipe this is awesome.

Sugar Cookies (our best bites)

2 C Butter
2 C Sugar
2 Extra large eggs
1 tsp Almond extract
1 tsp Vanilla
6 C Sifted Flour (don't pack it in the measuring cup
3 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and extract and mix in. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until completley combined.
Chill the dough in the fridge for an hour
Flour surface, roll out, and press with molds.

Bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes, depending on thickness of dough and how you like your cookies.

Butter Cream frosting(my recipe)

12 oz. butter (1 1/2 cups), softened
1 lb 6 oz Powdered Sugar (about 6 cups, unpacked
2 oz Cream
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract (or Almond)

Cream butter this fluffy and add the powdered sugar slowly while mixing. Beat until fluffy on High, then add vanilla & cream until mixed well.

It was a little hectic but we delivered 10 plates of cookies around the neighborhood. All of those little giggly girls had lots of excitement bursting out of them, but we did crush it a little when we had to forgo delivering the 11th plate due to Alyssa getting the door slammed on her hand. Yes, I did it and didn't know it until I climbed in and heard everyone screaming. Screaming is normal with little girls so I ignored it until they started screaming about Alyssa's hand being stuck in the door. We got it out and while there was many tears, nothing was broken and she was good.

Preparing that was more than I had done the prior years and so I felt that was enough for me this year, and then I woke up! My little girls won't be little forever and definately won't want to be my valentine forever. So, I decided to have a fun day of surprises for these little girls. They started out the day with heart shaped pancakes for breakfast.

Abby and I had a little shopping to do in town before the 4th grade valentine party and so while at the grocery store we bought items to make each girls a surprise box with some of their favorite treats (chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate covered pretzels (shaped as hearts), valentine candy corn, and cinnamon lips). Abby put them in cute little containers and put bows on each of them, which Macey removed.

John was coming home from work so I could go over the Hailey's class party at 1pm and so I wanted to be creative for lunch. Papa Murphey's pizza is one of our favorites and during valentine season, they change their pepporoni pizza's into a heart shape. I picked up a pizza and decided to pick up my girls from school for a fun lunch with mom, plus they needed their little box of surprise treats too!

I live next to the school so I put the pizza in, set the timer for 12 minutes, and ran out the door to the school to pick my girls up. They were so surprised and excited that within a minute of us getting home the oven started beeping and our pizza was ready.

I don't have any pictures with John, but he surprised us by coming home a little early and joining us all for the pizza. I will say that it is wonderful to live next door to the school. Alyssa ran outside and hopped the fence to join her friends playing a recess after lunch and I took Hailey back to the school to check her in for her fun class party. And, let me say 4th graders are crazy!

It was a wonderful day and we had so much fun together!!! Happy Valenines Day!