Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cheesy Chicken Rice

So, I have this problem. I get stuck in a dinner rut quite often. I have started trying lots of new recipes to stay out of the rut, but then I just make those new recipes over and over and forget the old ones we loved. Pinterest has helped me keep a list of recipes we love, but there are those few that were passed down recipes that I can't pin. So I decided to start sharing them here and pinning them on Pinterest. 

I decided to start with my Cheesy Chicken Rice for my lovely sister in law who just asked for the recipe. This one is SUPER easy. 

What you need:

2 Cooked, Shredded Chicken Breasts
2 Boxes Chicken Rice-A-Roni (I use store brand pretty much everything)
1Can Mexi-corn (this will be around the corn in a smaller can...I always have to search for it a bit)
1/2 jar Cheez Whiz

What you do:

I cook the chicken breasts first. Cook the rice according to directions. While the rice is cooking, I let the chicken cool and shred it. Once the rice is done add the corn and let it cook for a couple minutes to heat up the corn. Add the chicken and the cheese. That's it! See super easy AND my kids LOVE it!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Blessings in Disguise

Sometimes I am amazed that the ways Heavenly Father blesses us. Things we see as adversities or inconveniences can shortly turn into an enormous blessing. Twice now, I feel, Heavenly Father has used problems with our van to bless in mysterious ways.

It's no secret that I'm not in love with our van. We bought it for two reasons. We needed something bigger for our soon to be family of four and we needed something with all wheel or four wheel drive. We were living in a place where snow was a certainty and plowing was not. We knew there would be times we would have to drive in snow and our car was not going to handle it. We tried so many different cars, but with Matt being so tall and car seats being so big the van was the only way to go.

That winter I loved the van. I felt safe. That winter was especially bad so there were times we definitely needed what the van had to offer. After winter, I hated and still hate the thing. I started noticing all the little things that were wrong with it. I feel like I'm driving a bus. I'm always waiting for the thing to fall apart. So, really, it's funny that Heavenly Father uses my insecurities in my van to bring us blessings.

The first time this happened. We were on our way from Texas to our home in Wyoming. We had stopped to get gas. I had pumped and took over driving. As we pulled away from the gas station, I noticed the gas gauge rapidly dropping to empty. I was panicked thinking we had a huge hole in our tank and gas was pouring out onto the road. We were 10 hours from my family in Texas and about 13 from home. This could not be happening. We didn't have the money to pay for this kind of repair or the costs associated with having to delay our trip. I pulled to the side of the road and Matt cautiously got out to investigate. We did not have a hole in our tank. There is apparently this metal flap that covers the gas tank when the cap is off and it had somehow become stuck open. Not dangerous, but our gas gauge would be off until we could get it fixed since we had nothing with us to fix it. We got back on the road concluding we would just need to be extra cautious to not go too far on a tank.

About 5 to 10 miles down the road we come to dead stop traffic. We slowly, very slowly, made our way through it. It appeared that a trailer hauling hay had burst into flames. The fire was put out by the time we went through, so I really have no idea what actually happened. A few miles we passed this, Matt noticed the gas gauge rising again. Now, I really am not one to look for "signs." I don't think a rainbow is sent as a sign of the decisions I should make in life. A rainbow appears because it just rained. That being said. We have NEVER had another problem with our gas gauge. I don't know what happened that day on that road, but I do know we weren't there when it happened. I don't know that we would have been there when it happened if we hadn't stopped. I do know that whenever I think of this event, I feel the Spirit confirming to me that Heavenly Father was indeed helping get home safely.

My second event happened just the other day. Matt had been without a job for a month when he started working. We had some money saved up for bills until he started working. We had just enough money for bills through the end of the month, but that was about it. So, as much as I hate it, we have been putting things like gas, groceries, etc on our credit card. Yesterday, I got a text from Matt during his lunch saying our A/C was out in our van (our only car at the moment). My heart dropped. If you live or have ever visited Texas in the summer, you know an A/C is a necessity. Especially with kids in the car. Matt asked to see what our available balance was on our credit card. I know this is horrible, but I never look at our credit card statements. We rarely use the credit card so I just got out of the habit. While checking, I noticed the amount charged since the last statement was much more than I would expect it to be. I checked out the recent activity, and immediately spotted a $255 charge to Office Depot. Someone had used our credit card in person. We both had our credit cards so apparently there is some way for thieves to replicate credit cards. Say what?! The credit card company was very understanding. I have been with them since my college days so I guess that increased my credibility. Since the charges were in person it was considered fraud. Our account was closed and we will get new cards delivered to our house on Monday.

Now, why is this a blessing? When Matt was on his way home from work, the A/C worked! It has worked since then and will probably work from now on. If we hadn't anticipated a huge expense that needed to be put on the credit card, we would have never looked very closely at our account. I probably would have NEVER noticed those charges or more charges would have accumulated. At this point there were only 2 charges that I know were not ours.

Like I said, I'm really not big on signs, but I can't just explain these experiences away as coincidence. I know Heavenly Father was watching over us. Maybe we need to reevaluate our lives to be more perceptive to the Spirit so that we don't need threat of catastrophic events to listen. I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father who protects, guides and comforts us. I pray that we can live our lives so that these blessings continue and so that I can be more in tune with Spirit so that I may be in instrument in God's hands to protect my family and share the Gospel with others.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


It's been a while so I'll just cram the last 3 months into one post. So this will be a rambling of things we have done that I actually have photographic evidence of!

I made homemade playdough for the kids one day. Phillip loved it.

Especially when I made a snake for him!

Annaleigh decided it needed to be tasted.

Apparently, it was not tasty.

The weather has been warming up, then cooling off, then warming get the idea. We've been able to take the kids to the park a few times! 

Clearly they love the swing.

I ordered Annaleigh's Easter dress off of Zulily and made Phillip a matching bow tie and suspenders. This was actually before Easter. 

The Saturday before we went to Aunt Ashley's house to celebrate. We have 12:30 Church now so our Sundays are a little crazy. Saturday works out much better for get togethers.

The kids had a blast hunting eggs.

And hanging out with their cousins!

The "Easter Bunny" visited us Sunday. 

With lots of fun goodies.

We spent a day of Matt's spring break from work taking the kids to the Treehouse. They had so much fun and I especially loved the light table with transparent legos. So cool!

And finally, Matt graduated! I can't believe the day finally came! It technically took him 5 yrs, but he transferred schools after the first year and lost almost all his classes. Not too shabby! I can't tell you how proud I am of him. He spent the last 2 years of his college career working full time, going to school full time and he is always a great dad to our kids. He's amazing!

And we got a family-ish picture out of it!

And this is what it looks like when you try to take pictures at lunch/nap time with a 2 yr old and 1 yr old!

Yesterday, was Matt's birthday! I made red velvet cupcakes with a divine cream cheese frosting, ham, and potato salad. A little southern comfort food. 
I think that pretty much sums up the last 3 mths. Coming soon: a move, a new job and a 3rd birthday!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why life doesn't suck and it does take a village to raise a child...

You always hear people say life sucks or being an adult sucks. I have probably said this more times than I am willing to admit. It doesn't though. Is it hard? Abso-freaking-lutely! It's never fair. The right way is always the hard way. You sit back and watch people who lie, cheat and steal thrive. Sometimes only for a slight moment and sometimes you sit back and wait for what seems like forever for karma to catch up. Life is stressful. You have bills to pay, mouths to feed, never ending messes, laundry and dishes to clean, tantrums to defuse, fights to break up, and the list could go on. Amidst all the chaos if you look really hard you can find the good stuff. Those little moments every parent cherishes when your child does something new and brilliant. When your 2 yr old out of nowhere says, "mommy, I love you." When that dramatic 1 yr old sees you and comes running with that adorable nose crinkling smile. When the kids finally fall asleep at night and you get that oh-so-needed quiet moment with the love of your life and best friend. It's in those moments you realize life really doesn't suck. People suck!

I always hated the expression it takes a village to raise a child. Mostly because when you get pregnant it apparently gives people the right to tell you exactly what they think you need to know. You get all kinds of unwanted and sometimes crazy advice. When you have a child you realize that for the most part you really don't need all that advice. You know what your baby needs. You find your own way to make things work out best for you. Every baby and every family is different. What worked for my mom may not work for me and my children. Even though my cousin's best friend's sister fed her baby a certain way that doesn't mean my kids need to be fed that way to grow up well adjusted.

You may not need all that advice, but you do need a village worth of support to raise a child. As much of a blessing children are they are that much work. It's harder than you ever imagine. You need a break occasionally. You need date nights with your husband. Once you've had kids and it's been a while since you had a night out. You realize how important this is. You start bickering with one another over the stupidest little things. It sucks. Especially when your 2 yr old has decided to not acknowledge bedtime no matter how many different things you try. Now I realize how important a village is in raising kids. We don't have a village where we live (half our village is in Texas). We do have an amazing sister-in-law here. I can't tell you how wonderful it is when we are stretched to our limit, we've tried every other option to get our much needed break with no luck, we call her and she rearranges her day on a moment's notice to give us that break. Just in the nick of time! Words can't express how truly grateful I am for those few hours alone with my husband. So, as it is with most things, I have realized, in the absence of a true working village, just how important it is. We need a fully functioning village and this my friends is how I came to the conclusion that it really isn't life that sucks, it's people (not all people of course)!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What A Year!

You're probably expecting a New Year post. Nope! Today is my baby's 1st birthday! Is it possible to feel like time has moved too quickly and too slowly at the same time? That is totally how I feel about a year having passed since Annaleigh was born. On one hand, I can't believe she's already 1! On the flip side, it feels like this year has been several with all the things that happened. Seriously, this girl has been through a lot in her first year of life. She's had jaundice, her first period (yeah, crazy, I know..apparently, it's one of those medical things that are common enough for drs to know about it, but not common enough that the general population knows about happens to some baby girl's as the mom's hormone are leaving their was just the one when she was like a week old), RSV (hospital stay & on oxygen when we went home), acid reflux, 2 falls down the stairs, um i think that's all.  She's already been to Texas twice. She's walking. She can say "uh-oh" and "this." Those are pretty much the only words she uses appropriately in context. She blows kisses, is obsessed with food, and just yesterday she started trying to spin in circles while dancing (seriously, so cute.) She's super crazy, but she is oh so sweet and adorable!

So it really has been quite a year since she was born! We were in Texas a week ago so we had an early birthday party for her there! I loved how it turned out! All of my family were such a help with getting things all set up. Can I just say my husband has some mad decorating skills! He was my lifesaver. He hung streamers while I decorated the cake and came up with a pretty impressive design all on his own. He's pretty amazing!

I love how the cake turned out!

Isn't the inside of the bottom layer awesome! I was trying to get the zebra print effect.

Her cake ended up looking crazy. The cake was still hot, but it couldn't wait any longer to ice it. So it crumbled.

I think she liked it!

I don't know what was up with the face, but it's cute and this was the best picture of her dress that night. I bought a plain zebra print tank dress from Hobby Lobby and added to it!

She got lots of cute presents, but I didn't want to go overboard with the picture bomb!

I just can't believe she's already 1! Here's to hoping she mellows out as she gets older :)!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Turtleneck Refashion

It's been a while! October was a crazy month and I was in a bit of a funk in November. It snowed Halloween night and it has stuck around. I was totally NOT feeling fall this year.

Anyway, I just finished a dress for Annaleigh and had to share! I'm not 100% loving how it turned out. There are a few things I would have changed about it, but it works. Plus, I'm sure no one else can see all the flaws I see.

At the end of last winter our Wal-Mart had turtlenecks clearanced out at $1 and a few days they were doing 50% off all clearance. I ended up grabbing a 5T in the hopes I'd one day be able to do something with it. I'm not a huge fan of turtlenecks so it was a refashion from the beginning. I decided a few days ago to make Annaleigh a new dress with it.

I started out deconstructing it. I took the neck and sleevess off. Obviously, a 5T was going to need to be resized to fit my almost 1 year old (holy heck how did that happen?). Here is what it looked like....

I grabbed a dress in her size to use as a size guide. With the dress laying on top of the turtleneck, I pinned where I needed to sew my new seem.

I wish I hadn't done the next step. I folded the flair of the dress in thinking I wouldn't need the flair once the ruffles were added.

In hindsight, I think this would have helped the dress have a better fit than it does. Oh well, It still turned out decent. While I had the dress laying there I also trimmed down the arm neck and shoulder area of the shirt. Here is what I had at the end.

I didn't take pictures of this step, but I then cut out 3 strips of my skirt fabric. The strips were 4 3/4 in wide (I wish I had made them longer) and the length was long enough to wrap around the shirt twice. I folded the fabric in half and ruffled it. This took a little trial and error. There are tons of tutorials on how to ruffle fabric, but it still took me a while to get the hang of it. My machine doesn't have a straight stitch that doesn't automatically backstitch when you start sewing so I had to start sewing without my fabric under the needle. I should have taken pictures of this, but I got caught up in the moment. I also set my tension to the highest it would go and the stitch length to the longest setting. My machine still didn't really ruffle at that much so I held the thread where it comes off the spool to create a little extra tension. Once the strips were sewn, I pulled the threads to create an even more dramatic ruffle.

To sew on the ruffles, I first pinned and sewed them to the shirt upside down.

Once it is sewn in place you want to fold it down, pin and sew again. This creates a finished look. I definately recommend pinning this and not just trying to wing it. It helps insure you are staying straight and that the ruffle lays nicely. I tried not pinning it and it was a pain. I  repeated this for each layer of ruffle.

I again used a shirt in her size to figure out where to sew a new seem for the sleeves and how long they needed to be. Again, I  got way into it and didn't take pictures. Reattach them to the shirt. I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do with the collar. In the end, I opted for a cowl, type look. I cut one side of the original turtleneck, finished the raw edges and reattached the collar to the shirt. And there you have it...

I know, I cut off her head. It is insane trying to get a decent picture of this girl!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Infinity Scarf

Or cowl, or whatever else you want to call it. The second I saw Rachel of Maybe Matilda was doing a crochet along I knew I had to do it! When I saw it was a cowl/infinity scarf I was beyond thrilled. I had been wanting to make one, but just hadn't set aside the time, and I wasn't really sure it was for me. I must admit I'm not the best at figuring out what is going to work with my body type by just looking at it. I have to try it on. Then, I have to stare at myself in the mirror from several different angles for like ten minutes. I finally call my husband in to give me his opinion, or if he isn't there I take a picture and text it to him or my mom or sister. And stare at myself in the mirror some more while I wait for a response. Yeah, I am pretty much terrified of buyer's remorse. You should have seen me in the yarn aisle. I spent like 5 minutes staring at the yarn. I'm sure my poor sister-in-law was bored out of her mind, and I know her kids were! I wanted a neutral color so I could wear it with anything. So I chose a Charcoal. We used the Lion Brand Time Out Cowl pattern. I twisted the cowl before I connected the end so it would have a twist in it. So here is how it turned out....

I love how incredibly versatile this can be!

My husband was the camera man. It was a nasty day so we decided to just take pictures on the back porch. He felt a little awkward taking pictures of an adult on our back porch. Understandably so!

I have naturally wavy/curly hair. I love that when it starts snowing I can just pull this thing over my head and hopefully not have the crazy frizz going on!

The little dude wanted in on the action, too!