Tuesday, August 30, 2011

recipe: crock pot potato soup

Who doesn't love a good soup? It's warm and delicious. This recipe will be perfect for a cold evening but I gave it a trial run in August. It turned out soooo good, much better than I anticipated!

-3 cans of chicken broth (I used the fat free)
-1 can of cream of chicken soup (also used fat free)
-1 bag of frozen hash browns
-1/4 tsp. of ground black pepper
-1 8 oz. package of cream cheese (don't get fat free here, you need the regular kind to get the right consistency)
-bacon (I used turkey bacon)

-In your crock pot, combine the chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, hashbrowns, and pepper. Cook on low for 8 hours. When you get home (or an hour before serving) mix in the cream cheese and turn your crock pot back on low for another hour. After adding cream cheese throughly cook bacon and cut it up into small pieces. Add the bacon to the crock pot mixture and stir. An hour after cream cheese is added it's ready to eat. Add a little shredded cheese to the top and you have a soup that you'll want seconds of! Enjoy!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

thrifty: saturday morning shopping

Julianna and I got our thrifting fix this morning. After picking up groceries, we made a quick stop at the Goodwill. We were only in there for about 10 minutes because I had to get out quick (cold stuff in the car). I did a quick scan of my usual aisles. Julianna found a Veggies Tales book for 75 cents and a nice baby doll for $1.99- which is good as new after a run through the washing machine. I also found a nice shirt for Josh:

I made a quick walk down the shirts aisle for me and found this adorable sweater:
 And the last thing I purchased was my favorite. I have been looking for a nice, denim skirt that was appropriate for work. The skirt I found was exactly what I was looking for, great quality, good condition, and it was my size! It was a successful 10 minute Goodwill trip!

Friday, August 26, 2011

recipe: barbeque chicken sandwiches

Like I said yesterday, quick and convenient meals are a must in our home! Well, I tried another new recipe and it turned out delicious and it was super easy!

Barbeque Chicken Sandwiches (adapted from a recipe on Pinterest)

-4 boneless frozen chicken breasts
-1 18oz. bottle of any type of barbeque sauce
-3/4 cup of Italian dressing
-1/4 cup of brown sugar
-3 tbsp. of Worcestershire sauce

In a separate bowl, mix barbeque sauce, dressing, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Place chicken breasts in the bottom of the crock pot. Pour sauce mixture on top of chicken. Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred chicken before serving on hamburger buns.

We enjoyed ours with sweet potato fries:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

recipe: good food to eat on a good day

Today was the first day of school! I welcomed 22 new third graders to my classroom. It was an amazing day... I actually way over planned which is always a good thing. I'm looking forward to a very successful year!

And since I'm back at school in full force, I need easy meals. Really easy. Being a teacher, mommy, wife, and community group leader consumes a lot of my time. Keeping the house clean is tough and making a good meal after working a 10+ hour day is even harder. So I've been leaning on my good ole crock pot for support. Tonight's meal turned out extra tasty so I thought I'd share!

Crock Pot Chicken Chili (adapted from a recipe on Pinterest)

-4 chicken breasts
-1 can of traditional tomato sauce
-1 can of black beans
-1 can of corn (drained)
-1 can of kidney bean (I drained these too)
-1 can of Mexican diced tomatoes
-1 can of Italian diced tomatoes
-Chili powder

Combine chicken and canned items together in the crock pot. Season with chili powder and cumin to your personal taste... I love spicy food so I added quite a bit. Then put the chicken breasts on top of the mixture (they can be frozen). Cook on low for 10 hours. Shred chicken and mix again before serving. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, and tortilla chips.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

video: Hillsong United

Last night, Josh and I joined a group of friends from church for a dinner out together and a concert. We went to see Hillsong United, one of my very favorite Christian bands. It was simply amazing and life changing. Such an inspirational show!

This was the view from our seats before the show started:
Our seats were pretty high up but we were actually in a great spot. We could see the stage really well and the video screens were huge. Now enjoy a short video from the concert:

thrifty: back to work outfits

This week, I officially went back to work for the 2011-2012 school year. Technically, I've been back to work since August 1 for meetings and professional development but this was the first official week of teacher workdays. I'm super excited about school starting! I have soooo many fun ideas and I can't wait to meet my students! So in light of school starting, I have a few outfits to share... Monday was a t-shirt day to work in my classroom and Friday we wore our staff shirts (which are super cool, by the way) so there wasn't much thrifty-ness to show off.

And here are the outfits. Remember jewelry/watches aren't including in the jewelry total because I have no idea how much I paid for them and a lot of my jewelry was gifted to me.

Top: Charlotte Russe (I've had this top for years!), $8.00
Skirt: thrift store find, $5.00
Watch: New York & Company
Bracelet: gift
Shoes: Target, $13.00
Outfit Total: $26.00

Top: thrift store find, $3.00
Capris: thrift store find, $5.00 (Talbots)
Watch: New York & Company
Shoes: thrift store find, $4.00 
(I didn't actually end up wearing these shoes to work but I do love them!) 
Outfit Total: $12.00

Top(s): yellow, thrift store find, $2.00 (BCBG), red, $4.00 (Old Navy)
Capris: thrift store find, $5.00 (New Directions)
Shoes (not pictured): Target, $13.00
Watch: Kenneth Cole
Outfit Total: $24.00

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

happy 17 months!

Today Julianna is 17 months old! Time flies... it really does. Our Julianna has completely changed our lives in the past 17 months. She's showed us what a true, beautiful blessing children are. She's just amazing and I thank God for her every day.

Julianna is growing and learning so much! She's loves to talk to us! So far she says these words regularly: mama, dada, Josh, juice, JuJu, ni ni (night night), bye bye, hey, dog, doggie, duck, baby, and please. She says a few other words occasionally and some of her words don't quite sound like the actual word but I can tell what she's saying.

My favorite thing she does right now is give kisses, without prompting. Every night after I put her pj's home, I hold her close, and I say her prayer. The same prayer I used to say with my mom when I was a little girl.
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
Watch over me through all the night
And wake me safe by morning light
She has the same wall plaque with this prayer on her wall that I had growing up. It's very special to me. Well, every night while I was saying her praying, about mid-way through she gives me a kiss. And after I say amen, she say ni ni and gives me another kiss. I tell her I love her and she says it back in her own little way. Melts.my.heart. It's such a special time. It's most definitely a remember this moment!

Julianna is also walking everywhere. No more crawling whatsoever. When she's not walking, she's running! Right now she's still loving baby dolls. She's started rocking her babies and telling them to shhhh. It's so funny what she picks up. She's a good little mommy!

She has also been eating so much better. Meals have been quite a battle with her in the past few months. Food would be thrown on the floor before she even tried it. Now she's trying everything and even clearing her plate most nights at dinner! Fruits, veggies, meats, everything- she's eating it! I hope this lasts!

And I leave you with 2 pictures of our baby girl... one on the way to daycare this morning (I don't think she liked the song) and the other this evening (I think she was trying to escape):

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

video: JuJu!

Enjoy of video of Julianna identifying her cute reflection... (courtesy of her fabulous daycare teachers!) The smile at the end melts my heart!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

kitchen addition

We have a new addition to our kitchen as of today. Josh has been eying a pot rack at his parent's house for awhile now. They recently moved and were getting rid of some things and Josh lucked up and got it! He sprayed painted it with a textured black paint as well as the formally silver chain. It's now a great addition to our kitchen and helps us free up a lot of cabinet space. He did a great job repainting it and getting it hung up! Check it out...

lettin' my hair down

Julianna always wears her hair in what we like to call the "waterspout". It's a pony tail on top of her head; either in the middle or off to the side. If you've seen JuJu, you've seen the waterspout. Well today she had to have her bath in the morning since we were out later than usual the night before. So her hair was wet and wet hair is more difficult to put into a spout. Today was the day Julianna let her hair down (or mama left it down). She looked older and more like her mama (I think). She was adorable as always! And presenting, Julianna with her hair down...

Friday, August 12, 2011

thrifty: outfits and favorite finds

As promised in one of my last thrifty post, I have outfit pictures to share. I'm going to get a rough breakdown of the cost of each outfit and some of the details of the pieces. I have no idea how much the jewelry costs, I just don't remember so we'll leave jewelry out of the total cost.

 Top: thrift store find, $2.00 (Liz Claiborne)
Shorts: Wal-Mart, $8.00
Necklace: Latasia Jewelry
Shoes (not pictured): Wal-Mart, $4.00 
Outfit Total: $14.00

Top: thrift store find, $4.00 
Shorts: Target, $5.00
Necklace: Latasia Jewelry
Shoes: Target, $13.00
Outfit Total:  $22.00

Top: Belk (Madison) $8.00
Capris: thrift store find, $4.00 (New York & Company)
Belt: Down East Basics, $5.00
Shoes: Nine West, free from mom's closet
Outfit Total: $17.00

Top: Wal-Mart, $4.00
Shorts: Wal-Mart, $8.00
Necklace: Old Navy
Shoes: thrift store find, $4.50 (Liz Claiborne)
Outfit Total: $16.50

Today I had to go to the doctor and my favorite thrift shop is just about 5 minutes down the road so I had to make a quick pit stop to see if there was anything good. Thrifting is so much fun to me. You never know what you might find! It's so exciting! Well, today was a jackpot in the clothing department for me! I did find a cute dress for Julianna:
I don't think this picture does it justice though. It's soooo adorable! Perfect for fall and I'll add some leggings for her when it gets cooler outside. I bought this pretty dress for $3.00 and it looks good as new. I found a lot of stuff for myself. Normally, I'm usually hunting for Julianna but I spent more time on myself today. I spent $38.00 and walked away with... one dress for Julianna, 2 pairs of capris for me, 1 dress for me, 2 skirts for me, and 3 shirts for me. My favorite find of the day for myself was a lovely skirt. They hadn't even put it on the racks yet but I saw it on the stocking rack and grabbed it up. It was a $5.00 well spent and I can't wait to put it together in an outfit:

Overall, it was a fabulous day of thrift store shopping! Can't wait for my next thrifting adventure! :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I saw this church sign today and it totally inspired me:

What a great motto to live by!

guest post: baby sign language

Baby Sign Language as a Family Experience
Who says Baby Sign Language is just for babies? We know many families who have incorporated sign language for babies into their family’s routine and here are a few activities; methods and lessons learned that we’d like to share from those experiences.

Sibling teaching sibling
Just because this is your second or third baby doesn’t mean you can’t start now. Just like it is never too early to start teaching baby to sign, it is also never too late. Older siblings can have loads of fun learning to sign along with baby and you. They can help by picking out a new sign of the week or day, by playing teacher and demonstrating the signs on the baby sign language flashcards, or even helping read storybooks and incorporate the signs. And just like baby sign language has been shown to bond babies and parents, the same applies for siblings. While they won’t always agree on which movie to watch or which board game to play, you’ll marvel at the moments when you catch those kiddos playing sign that animal. 

Teaching numerous children
While a little competition is encouraging for some children, make sure you cheer on all the children and babies you are teaching. It is tempting to get excited when baby starts to sign, but don’t forget the toddlers and older siblings who have been learning and doing the signs right alongside you. Make sure they know that they have contributed to baby’s success too!

Also keep in mind that there is no cookie cutter method to learning sign language. Just like every child is unique, you will find that one child may need a different approach than another. Babies will learn at their own pace, too. Just because your first baby was signing at 7 months, doesn’t mean you should give up when baby number two is 9 months old and still not showing interest. She may suddenly surprise you and sign her way to asking for fruit instead of veggies for dinner one evening.

Making BSL a family affair
We’ve heard much success about the ease of getting the siblings on board, but what about when the grandparents are skeptics, or only one parent wants to commit to learning and teaching BSL? Our advice – Don’t be discourage, but also don’t push. Select your few starting signs and practice, practice, practice. Let baby start signing back and that will be all the convincing the rest of the family, caregivers and friends need. And when they ask where they can learn more, send them to babysignlanguage.com!

Mey Lau

Saturday, August 6, 2011

thrifty: toddler activity center

Today's fantastic find wasn't at a thrift shop. It was from a yard sale. Before Julianna, I went to tons of yard sales on Saturday mornings. I could stop here and there, no problem. Now that I have a little one, it's harder to make those quick, impromptu stops at a yard sale because I have to get Julianna out of her car seat, tote her around, try to keep her happy, and search for good deals. It's just too much work. The benefit to thrift stores is that the ones I visit have shopping carts so Julianna can ride around the store without me having to get the stroller out.

I had to make a quick trip out this morning and I passed about 5 yard sales in less than 4 miles. I drove slowly by them to see if there was anything that caught my eye. I saw a little easel thing at one that looked interesting. I've been looking for an easel for Julianna but I didn't want to pay much for it. I called Josh and he left work for just a few minutes to go check it out for me. He told the people that he would pay $5 for it and they said okay! Turns out, the easel is more than just an easel. This is what it looks like on one side:

On this side of the board, you can clip on paper to draw or paint and it also functions as a whiteboard. Then you flip this board over and you get the other side:
And on this side, you can move the objects around and they stick to the little pegs. Julianna has already had a blast playing with this side of the activity center. I'd say this was $5 well spent! YAY for being thrifty!

she's growing up so fast

Julianna is growing up to be such a big girl and it's happening way too fast! It seems like yesterday, she was this little tiny newborn and now she's a toddler!

She had 2 pretty big moments this week. First of all, she's been eating much better. Actually trying her food before throwing it. She even stopped throwing her plate as often too. She's started to use utensils on her own. I bought her these:
She ate her entire meal and even licked her plate on Thursday night. She was successfully eating with her new utensils too. Go JuJu!

And our other big moment this week involved the potty. I bought her this potty on Tuesday:
This potty seemed like a great choice but it's also a step stool and you can take the potty seat off and put it on an adult toilet. I sat her on it naked before bathtime every night this week since Tuesday. Tuesday and Wednesday she just kind of sat there but on Thursday, she peed in the potty for the first time! I was so excited for her! Well, she did it again on Friday night! Mommy was proud but so was she was JuJu because she smiled and clapped after she peed. I think we're on the right track. YAY!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

remind me

I absolutely love this song. Brad and Carrie sound so good together!

Monday, August 1, 2011

thrifty: fun shoes and great finds

Did yall know I'm a thrift store junkie? I seriously can't get enough of thrift store shopping. The majority of my wardrobe, as well as Josh and Julianna's is from thrift/consignment stores. If I buy something in a "normal" store, it has to be at least 75% off and we rarely splurge on any items. We're thrifty and it's fun. I have no shame in wear 2nd hand clothes or shoes, that's what washing machines are for. I often find brand-new or hardly used items. So chances are if you like my outfit, it's been thrifted.

So my little family went out yesterday to check out a new thrift store that we haven't been to yet and our old favorite one. We spent $71 but got: 1 pair of shoes for me, 2 tops for me, 1 dress for me, 1 sweater for me, 3 dress shirts for Josh, 3 pairs of dress pants for Josh, 1 pair of work out pants for Josh, 6 shirts for Julianna, 1 bathing suit coverup for Julianna, 3 pairs of pj's for Julianna, 1 complete outfit for Julianna, and 1 dress for Julianna. One of the shirts for Josh was brand-new with tags, Chaps brand and my sweater was a cute black cardigan from Talbot's with tags. I'd say we got our monies worth!

Here are the fabulous Liz Claiborne flats I got for 4 dollars:

Now that you all know how stinkin' thrifty we are... I plan to start posting pictures of our thrifted outfits and other awesome finds! :)