Sunday, July 24, 2011


We've been a pretty busy house around here....Nate made his arrival is now 5 weeks old!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Craft Hope ~ Bracelets for Russian Orphans

With the help of several friends and youth at Spring Hill First Baptist Church, we have collected 203 bracelets for Russian orphans. Some were beaded, braided, and MANY were finger knitted.
Craft Hope initiated this project and we joined, literally, the thousands of people from all over the world in this effort. The deadline is June 15th-our bracelets were stuffed (with care of course) into a small priority box and left the house today! Thanks everyone for contributing....the kids are going to L-O-V-E them!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Stacy Allee: East Texas Newborn Photographer {Riggins}

Riggins....loved this session. Was only right to have my last session before Nate is born be one of a baby boy. One whom, I'm sure Nate will play ball with one day.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

My cousin-in-law, Heather, posted on facebook that she planned to make Creamy Chicken Enchiladas for supper one night. Curious if these were actually the rolled up enchiladas or stacked, I checked back after supper and this is what she said: “Goodness! These enchiladas are AMAZING!!! Glad I found this recipe :) Will definitely be making Creamy Chicken Enchiladas again!!! Michael even LOVES them.”
I needed this recipe. I love all things Mexican food and with the word creamy in the title-who could resist? Needless to say, I wasn’t the only one requesting the recipe so she posted it. It called for a block of cream cheese, Monterey cheese, and 2 CUPS HEAVY CREAM! No wonder it’s “creamy”…I now had to make these! had to be a naptime premake!
I do all of my grocery shopping for a month and I went two weeks ago, so I had to make do with what I had. I never buy heavy cream…I just can’t bring myself to feed that to my family…yet. We also try to be somewhat healthy/low fat when we can. So I made adjustments with what we had on hand and noted them in parenthesis.
1-8oz block cream cheese (1/3 less fat kind)
1-8oz block Monterey Jack shredded (Marbled Jack)
1 medium chopped onion
1 T butter (used 1/2T in nonstick pan)
1-4oz can green chilies, diced
½ cup sour cream
3 ½ cups chopped chicken (rotisserie thighs-I have 3 rotisserie birds deboned in freezer just for recipes like this ;)
2 cups heavy cream (1 can green chili sauce+1 can cream celery+2 spoons sour cream+milk to fill to almost 3 cups)
10-12 tortillas (we used half whole wheat and half regular..the wheat is thinner)
Sauté onion in butter until translucent, add chilies and cook 1 minute more. Plop the cream cheese block in and smash and stir until melted, add sour cream and chicken. Remove from heat. In a 9x13 casserole dish, pour ½ cup of “heavy cream” mixture in the bottom and spread all around dish. Spoon chicken filling in to each tortilla, roll tightly, and place seam side down in casserole dish. Repeat until you run out of room or filling. Top with shredded cheese and then drizzle with the cream mixture. I had to use a spoon to spread it over some spots of the tortillas-I don’t like crunchy enchiladas…I want them creamy.
To up the veggies: Red bell pepper would be yummy in these, and maybe even some drained diced tomatoes inside as well-humph, shoulda tried that.
Bake 350 for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly.

There ya have it! Another naptime premake! I plan to make some Mexican fried rice to go with this as a side. The rice is left over from another meal-sautéed onion and celery with some EVOO should do the trick. YUM!
Thanks Heather, I plan on filling my plate and continuing my membership with the “Clean Your Plate” club tonight. ;)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Flats Challenge: Day 3 Help a Mama Out

We had some pretty serious weather last night. The tornado warning didn’t expire until 3am making me one nervous mama to leave my Little Man asleep in his room when I finally retired around midnight. Before I turned in, I stocked the bathroom with blankets, pillows, radio, and yes, my flats and Flip cover. While getting all that piled into a laundry basket that sat on the sink, I seriously debated whether or not to take my entire stash of cloth diapers. I love my stash. I’m a very proud owner of some Sloom Sustainable Babyish wool covers and longies, Kissaluv woolies, GroVia soakers and covers, Flip inserts and covers, bamboo fitteds, hemp inserts, and last but not least my beloved bamboo Kawaii pocket diapers. I know, all they do is hold pee and poo, but a lot of research and trial and error went into these. (I am secretly hoping to grow my stash with some of these in a yellow stitch to hold Little Man Deuce’s newborn poo inside one of my Sustainable Babyish woolies….shh…) I love my diapers. I will be very sad when both my boys are out of them. It is a very relaxing and motherly thing for me to sit and fold each diaper in preparation to cover my boys’ bums. It has been fun for me to test different diaper “recipes” for night time and to really test their leakproofness (is that a word?). Notice I’ve said “me” each time, I know cloth diapering isn’t for everyone. Some do it out of financial necessity, love for the planet, or love for tender bums, and some just because.
In trying to make the decision last night, I left it all in the bedroom and took only my flats and a Flip cover. Why? Bare necessities for emergencies. It’s like deciding between your leopard print heels or your Nike tennis shoes when a tornado could devastate the area-you’d love both, but think practically. I know that my bamboo fitteds take FOREVER to dry in the dryer, same with GroVia soakers. My hemp and bamboo inserts take a bit to dry and the pockets, I can only use them once and they need a wash (unlike a cover). The Flats and Handwashing Challenge has taugh me a lot this week. Flats are only one layer thick so getting pee and poo out in a hand wash is fairly easy. And living in East Texas, I’ll have sun or heat for atleast an hour of the day so those things will line dry in a jiffy. Flats are THE emergency diaper of choice.
When waking up this morning and our world was just a bit (ok, a TON) humid, I was very thankful that my “leopard print heels” stash was still here. But I learned something-I ALWAYS need to keep flats around for an emergency AND what better thing to send to a disaster stricken area! The tornado that devastated the Joplin area really has hit home with me since my husband lived there a while and almost all of his family lives in the state. I have wanted to do so much more than pray for them. Monday I learned about Craft Hope’s security blanket project that benefits the area and today I found the Joplin Relief Facebook page. I posted that I had cloth diapers to send but needed to know where. I was quickly given this website. That settled it-my cloth diaper outreach/ministry that God has given me a vision and heart for a while back was suddenly sprung into action. My flats stash was cut in half and I lovingly surrendered a Flip cover as well. I also picked up some plastic panties at the consignment shop, and some fun play kits for kids at Wal-Mart. In this care package I’m also sending an instruction sheet on how to fold flats as well as how to hand wash and machine wash the flats and covers.
I do have to admit that after I got off the phone with the organization I plan to donate to, I cried. I’m certain it is not because I’m sad about giving up diapers, but because the God-given desire to help others in such a practical way was actually happening.
Here is everything that is going into my medium sized priority box.

By the way, as I type this up, my husband is trying to take the washer apart to fix it-it’s in the middle of a rinse cycle full of baby clothes for Little Man Deuce. Glad I know how to hand wash some flats!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Flats Challenge: Day 2 Experiments

The overnight diaper was a success-I had my doubts but there were no leaks and the poopie stayed in place. We’ll give that a “go” again tonight.

Experiment #1: Hand Washing-totally dreaded it!
According to the Rules, no machine washing! I originally planned to do all washing at night every two days and hang dry over night. Apparently I forgot how huge these flats are and we would have diapers hanging from every door, curtain rod and ceiling fan blade. I washed this morning. I tried to stay as close to my normal routine for washing diapers as possible so the process actually started last night. After two rinses, I loaded our bathroom sink with a lil baking soda, a single drop of Dawn, and hot water and let them soak overnight. This morning (with a little help form Little Man) they were transferred to the tub for an all out washing. Rinsed x2 and then back in the sink with cold water and a splash of vinegar. I let them sit like this until it was Little Man’s breakfast and Diego time. They then got rung out and hung on the line to dry outside.
I didn’t really enjoy this part of the Challenge-I’m scared I’ve not gotten them super clean and sanitized. Honestly, I was so tempted to cheat. Really, who would know? BUT I didn’t! I want the full experience here!

Experiment #2: T-shirt as a diaper
I was pretty excited about doing this one. I had it all planned out in my head during our morning errands (of which was an experiment in itself to see just how much a towel flat would hold-no leaks!). I first folded it all out in his bed and was very happy with how neat it looked. Not neat like ‘cool’ neat like clean, trim.
Once on him, I loved it and wanted a good picture of the rearview since I folded precisely to show off the t-shirt (gotta look good at nap too ;). After I got him out of his bed and grabbed the camera, I turned around to hear him say, “uh-oh” and my very neatly folded I HK shirt was down around his ankles.
Originally, I was concerned that the back would spread out a bit and be pretty loose. So I pulled the arms all the way out and folded them in again so they wouldn’t be too long. This then made it too wide in the rear so I had to roll a bit in once I got it on him.

the top picture is supposed to say SLEEVES not SLEVES
Experiment #3: Flannel Flat
Little Man honestly doesn’t go through many diapers a day, so I’ll be doing good to test a flannel blanket and one made out of a t-shirt. We’ll see how it goes!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Flats Challenge: Day 1 The non-Challenge

Today wasn’t too much of a challenge in the Flats Challenge. We mostly folded the flats pad style and used them like an insert into the covers. I was initially concerned with too much bulk, but this provided a trim enough look for me.  Right outta the shoot this morning during breakfast, Little Man dumps his bowl of cereal all in his lap while trying to slurp out the milk-the first attempt was successful but Diego distracted him too much for the second slurp and it all landed in his lap. My first thought was, “Well, there goes one of my allowed covers!” But it wasn’t as huge a loss as I had thought. I changed the cover and flat immediately and flat was dry and cover was only a little damp. I got after the cover with a wipe and allowed it to dry.

I tried doing a new fold for nap time (the boy fold) but had too hard of a time getting it folded to fit him so I used my flat like a prefold by folding it in thirds and fanning out the back to catch any poop (he usually poopies at nap). I added a pad folded Wal-Mart towel and then Snappied it all under the wool cover. He slept almost 4 hours and no leaks (or poopie) but was pretty wet and he obviously tried pulling it all off – it was basically hanging to his knees.

Overall, the day went well and I was happy with absorption and lack of leaks. I’m not happy with our bedtime “recipe” though-pretty bulky up front. The Challenge encourages us to use flats somehow at night and since we could use our normal night recipe I chose to combine flats with our usual. So he’s got a flat and Wal-Mart towel pad folded into a bamboo fitted under the wool cover. Again, I do not like the bulk for night-it has taken him forever to go to sleep tonight so I’m taking that as he’s not a fan either. I have a feeling that the poopie will happen before morning so that bulk is going to be replaced with our much loved bamboo pockets at some point tonight…I’ll probably add a pad folded flat though.

I’d like to make tomorrow a little more challenging. I may use the no cut/no sew t-shirt idea for absorption, but that may be too much for this 35 week pregnant mama…...we’ll see….

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Flats Challenge: Day 1

Morning starts the Flats Challenge by Dirty Diaper Laundry. I’m ashamed to say I’ve been anticipating this day for quite a while. It’s honestly a bit sad that I have become obsessed with cloth diapering. The past couple of days Little Man has been in disposables due to a diaper rash and I have missed his fluffy booty.

The rules are detailed but here are the basic supplies we can have: 5 covers and flats (birdseye, kitchen towels, old t-shirts). NO machine washing or drying-only hand wash and line dry. This is our stash for the week:
2 GroVia AI2 shells (in Airplanes snaps & Mandarin aplix)
2 Flip AI2 shells (in Moonbeam & Ribbit)
9 Walmart Flour Sack Towels
An occasional old T-shirt and flannel receiving blanket thrown in for testing fun

We are trying out the pad fold for the majority of the day and an origami fold to contain messes for nap and night.

Here’s my Little Man telling me the colors of his goldfish. (By the way, I chose diaper covers based on colors that he knows: green, blue, and orange.) Think he’s as excited as I am for this challenge?!

I just found this site with tons of other folds-will investigate and maybe throw in one for nap.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Man-Pleaser Premake Meal

I love all things premade. With that being said, I also love making and creating things on my own. The best thing of all is when I can create something to premake during naptime. My premake of choice has to be food, supper in particular. Around this house, when it comes time to start making supper my Little Man is suddenly hungry-but he’s not, he just snacked. Sometimes, though when it is the right meal, I can cook with him on my hip and he LOVES it and I do too because he’s learning his mama’s cookin’, it’s good “mommy&me” time, and he gets samples (when he samples it as it cooks-he’s more willing to eat it). Most meals however require both my hands and while my Ergo baby carrier (that I stole from five Elise!) helps sometimes, most of the time he stands barefoot on my barefeet begging for me to pick him up. I have to make supper at naptime! (Ok, I don't HAVE to but I'd much rather spend my Little Man's awake time playing, not slaving at the stove.)

This dish is a definite favorite-I have made and remade this and then switched things up a bit. Any noodle you can stuff or roll (lasagna) can be used.  It’s a favorite, it’s versatile, it’s a man-pleaser, it’s a naptime premake!
4 Meat Stuffed Shells
Get a large pot of water boiling for your noodles.

1 jar traditional pasta sauce+1 can stewed tomatoes
¼ lb browned hamburger
¼ C chopped pepperoni
1 lb link sausage (like Eckrich) chopped
10 slices thin bacon cooked and crumbled (save some for topping)
1 C  each onion & bell pepper (I used frozen chopped)
Minced garlic (whatever pleases your palate)
Mix everything but sauce together in skillet and cook about 10-15 min (add garlic the last 5 minutes so it won’t burn). Then add sauce and tomatoes. Simmer for 30 min while you prepare the rest. Remember to scrape as you stir in the sauce getting all the yummies off the bottom.
*You can so make this easier on yourself by just making or buying regular ole meat sauce, but I love creating things and this is my attempt at copying a restaurant’s meat sauce that my hub loved.
 **up your veggies by adding baby food carrots to sauce...makes it sweeter too!
The water should be boiling by now, salt your water and add your large shells. I always undercook these by a few minutes to where they are al dente (10-12 min). Keep an eye on these, they like to huddle in groups and snuggle up inside each other making the cooking uneven…yuck.

1 tub of ricotta cheese
1 8 oz. package of Italian blend cheeses (I get the preshredded Walmart brand)
½ C sour cream
Italian seasoning and garlic powder-I’ve never really measured I just give a few good shakes of each.
Red pepper flakes-optional and how much depends on your taste…I add maybe ½ t to give it a little flair.
Mix it all together. I usually will make this the night before so it’s ready for me…one less thing to do during nap (so maybe I can get one too;).
**up your veggies by finely chopping some spinach and adding it to the mix....adds color and no one will notice...the hubs sure didn't!

Drain noodles and spread some sauce in the bottom on a 9x13 pan. Place the noodles seam side up in the pan the best you can…careful…they are HOT. I never can get all my noodles to fit in the pan but then again, I never get a full box of perfect shells either. Use a cereal spoon full of the cheese filling for each shell and then kind of squeeze them so they’ll close well-this also makes more room in the pan. When they are all filled, top with meat sauce and more cheese if ya want.

Let it all cool, cover with foil, and pop it in the FRIDGE until you’re ready to “cook” supper.

Bake uncovered at 350 until bubbly.

This will easily feed 4 pasta loving people when served with bread and salad (you gotta balance the meat with veggies!). Upon serving, garnish with a bit of cheese and crumbled bacon…yes, bacon. Bacon is a very good thing when paired with pasta……………and onions, and lettuce, and tomatoes……………and chocolate ;)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mess Makers

I got on a cleaning streak today. I'm not quite sure what causes these other than pregnancy, but I do wish they came more frequently but with much less "get it ALL done" attitude. On these days, I tend to overwhelm myself with all that needs to be done and want it all done before nap time. Other more common days, I underwhelm my slef and do nothing....I live a life of balance. :)

So while M ate breakfast and between my breakfast bites, I managed to straighten the living and dining areas. My trips to the kitchen for a quick bite often distracted my living room task and I'd start trying to do the dishes as well. I can get so side tracked while cleaning, especially if I'm cleaning out a closet or a box of old items I that recall the "good ole' days."

With the living and dining rooms done and M's breakfast all done too (can you see him signing "all done"?), I trapped us both in his room, opened the window, and drug all the toys from the closet.

M loved this! He loves for Mommy and/or Daddy to get in the floor and play-whether he plays with us or not, he loves the company. So needless to say with me crawling all over the floor and toys everywhere, he was in heaven. He also found a paci in the old box we pulled out. It was a teething paci, so no bulb to really suck on-just flat. He sure hung on to it but didn't ask about it again after I had very sly-like slid  it under my leg while we read a book.

Two hours later, during M's lunch, I finished up the room. I swapped out old toys for "new, old " toys and packed away several of the toys that he's just kind of tired of. With the weather warming up and longer nights ahead of us (daylight savings this weekend!), I packed up more than I normally do because we'll be outside more. I also made a box of things he's outgrown playwise for baby bro N. I also made a book nook. It's really a diaper changing area in disguise. He's gotten to be quite the squirmer while having his diaper changed so books, toys, and most loved balls are handy (we have over 17 balls by the way ;)

Over all, I think it was a great success. As I write this at midnight tonight, I notice a few balls have wandered off the tower in the bedroom and into the hall and living room.  Now how does that happen?!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Enchiladas & Taquitos

I love Mexican food and will go out of my way to recreate some of my favorite menu items at home. One such example: enchiladas and taquitos.

While putting up last night's tortilla soup leftovers, I noticed a few things that needed to be used: Mexican cheese, refrigerated tortillas, boiled chicken. Okay, so the Mexican cheese didn't exacly have to be used but I fell in love with it and needed to create a supper around it-love it...melts beautifully and not too strong...a perfectly stringy cheese....Ahh.....yum.

I thought the cheese would be great in enchiladas, but I hate the whole process of making them. I once took the easy way out had bought frozen taquitos and poured some leftover enchilada soup on them. They were a real crowd pleaser too. This got me to thinking-I can make taquitos and enchiladas at the same time...but...easier.

What you'll need:
2-3 chicken breasts, shredded
1/2 to 1 cup Kraft Authentic Mexican cheese blend, preshreded ;)
1t each ground cumin, garlic powder, dried cilantro
salt, pepper to taste
Enough sour cream to make the above ingredients stick together
12 refrigerated tortillas
Leftover tortilla soup (or a can of tortilla soup'll do)
additional cheese

Mix the first 5 ingredients. Depending on how much you like cheese, use anywhere from a half to a whole cup of the yummy stuff here.

While mixing the chicken mixture, start cooking your refrigerated tortillas as directed on the package. My LaAbuela brand says one minute per side over medium heat. I undercooked them slightly since they were getting cooked again in the oven. This helped them not to get too dry while rolling.

Spread 1-2T of chicken mixture in the tortillas and roll tightly. Place seam side down on a greased, foil lined pan. Generously spray the tops of each taquito with cooking spray. I was only able to get 8 taquitos on my pan so the rest went into a casserole dish for enchiladas. Spray this dish as well, then spread a little tortilla soup in the bottom of it. Place rolled taquitos in the casserole dish and cover with soup and more cheese.

Bake at 300 for about 25-30 minutes. Flip taquitos half way through cooking time. These will brown easily toward the end so watch closely.

I used two small chicken breasts in my mixture because that's what was left over. I ran out of mixture for the last few so I made the same mixture without the chichen...cheese enchiladas/taquitos. They were great as well-may do half of each next time.

My husband and 18 month old son loved these. The lil man only had the enchiladas and had to dip them in a little sour cream...we are dippers around here....another reason why I love Mexican food-so many things you can dip, dunk, or drowned in hot sauce....YUM!