Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chicken and Spinach Pasta Bake

This is a great meal to make for company or to make in the morning so that it's ready to pop in the oven for dinner.  The recipe came from Saving Money Living Life, and has been a favorite in our home since I cooked it for the first time Valentine's Day 2012.

8 oz uncooked rigatoni
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 cup onions, chopped
1 (12 oz) pack frozen spinach, thawed and dried
3 cups shredded, cooked chicken
1 (14 oz) can Italian style diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (8 oz) chive and onion cream cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Prepare rigatoni according to package directions.
2. Saute onions in oil on stovetop until tender.
3.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
4.  Stir onions, spinach, chicken, tomatoes, cream cheese, salt and pepper in bowl until mixed.  Stir in rigatoni.
5.  Spoon mixture into greased 9 x 13 baking dish and sprinkle cheese on top.
6.  Bake covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 5-10 more minutes.

This is what it looks like before you add the mozzarella cheese on top and bake.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Soul Nourishment #11

1 Corinthians 13 For Moms - blog post

Seven Basic Needs of A Husband And Wife - audio and study guide from Pastor Cliff Palmer

The Purpose of Work
"Our vocations become the arena for the Christian life, where sanctification happens."

5 ways to make the most use of our time as a pastor’s wife

Biblical Femininity In Everyday Life - Nicole Whitacre
I loved every word of this!

"Faith is savoring the supreme treasure of Christ." - John Piper

A mother's smile is the child's sun -- what can grow without the warmth of grace? - Ann Voskamp

Cravings And Conflict  - with David Powlison and C.J. Mahaney

Word Based Ministry To Women - Nancy Guthrie

Reality Mothering - Nicole Whitacre 

"My hope isn’t built on my performance but on Jesus’ righteousness." -Ann Voskamp

School Week 8 and 9 - Letters I and J

We learned these letters over a two week period, but I decided to combine them on this post to save time.  I've not been good about documenting our learning experience the last few weeks.  We've had some sicknesses, Halloween parties, and things have been busy.  Now we are gearing up for Thanksgiving and Christmas so we will take a break from the letter a week curriculum until after the new year.  We still say our letter of the week verses at the breakfast table, but we are not necessarily memorizing them since we are memorizing different verses each week for the Awana program we are involved in at church.

Letter Ii:
   "In all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight." -Proverbs 3:6

Itchy the Inchworm was at the playground!

Itchy Inchworm crafts

Letter Jj:
   "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." -Hebrews 13:8

We colored Jj's and hung them in the window

The Jj books we checked out at the library

The kids enjoyed learning these nursery rhymes and coloring the pictures...

Jack and Jill video

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chocolate Chip Applesauce Cookies

I've heard of baking with applesauce for a healthier version, but I've never tried it because it didn't sound too good to me.  While reading the Sunny Side Up blog one day she was describing her chocolate chip cookies and how she made them for friends around the holidays and wanted to eat them all herself.  I had all of the ingredients on hand and decided to give them a try.  They turned out much better than expected.  In fact, I think they are my second favorite cookie behind Aunt Suzy's Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies.

1 cup Crisco
2 cups sugar
2 cups applesauce
4 eggs
4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 pkg chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Mix together the sugar and Crisco.  Add eggs.
3.  Stir the applesauce and baking soda together and add to Crisco mixture.
4.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients and bake for 15 minutes.

yield: about 60 cookies

Deviled Eggs

Everyone needs a deviled egg on their plate for a holiday meal, right?  At my Pampered Chef shower right before I was married I was given a container that held deviled eggs and kept them cold.  I used it for the first time last night.  We had a Sunday School class party at church and everyone contributed to a Thanksgiving meal.  I signed up to bring squash casserole and deviled eggs, so I found Paula Deen's Traditional Southern Deviled Eggs recipe and they turned out good, so I will keep this recipe for future parties.  I still wonder where this dish got it's name.

12 large eggs, hard boiled and peeled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp sweet pickle relish
2 tsp mustard
salt and pepper, for taste
Paprika, for garnishing

1.  Halve 12 eggs lengthwise.  Remove yolks and place in bowl.
2.  Mash yolks with fork and stir in mayonnaise, pickle relish, and mustard.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
3.  Fill egg whites evenly with yolk mixture.  Garnish with paprika.  Store covered in refrigerator.

yield: 24 deviled eggs

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Number The Days

Making messes is what children do best.  A friend and I recently commented to one another about how we clean our homes and turn around and they are dirty again.  I have a 2 and 4 year old - she has 3 year old twins.  I know the popular quote, "Good moms have sticky floors, messy kitchens, laundry piles, dirty ovens, and happy kids," and I try to keep this in mind, but a dirty house stresses me out!  

Monday is my main cleaning day around here.  I do laundry, straighten, do the dishes, and things like that every day, but on Mondays I do things like clean the bathrooms, dust and vacuum, mop the floors, etc...  Why Monday?  The house is usually a wreck from the weekend and this is the only day that my 4 year old still takes a nap, so I know I can get a lot done.

Today is a Monday.  My plan was to get some Christmas decorating done, but that hasn't happened yet. (The day is not over).  I woke up at 6am (latest I've slept in a while) to the sound of little children begging for Halloween candy and a movie.  You would seriously think we deprive them of these things if you heard their pleas.  When I stumbled out of my room as my husband headed for the shower I found that the kids had helped themselves to some pumpkin muffins my MIL made for us, and had gotten some cups and filled them with water from the fridge button.  I soon realized one of them (I suspected my 2 year old) had stuffed half of his muffin in between two of the couch cushions.  So, after I ate breakfast myself and packed a lunch for my husband, the first chore marked off the list for cleaning today was taking the cushions off of our two couches and assisting my 2 year old in the process of vacuuming the crumbs.  This was a good excuse to do something that needs to be done occasionally anyway, I told myself, and Weston enjoyed feeling helpful.  I took the opportunity for positive reinforcement and let him know that he was a great helper and cleaner.  He was super proud of himself!

I then gave the kids a bath.  They like to play in there for a little while, so I started a load of laundry and swept the kitchen floor while going back and forth a few times to break up fights and remind them not to splash all of the water in the floor.

Shortly after getting them out and putting clean clothes on them for the day Weston urinated in a puddle in the kitchen floor.  I should back up and say that he is potty trained when wearing a pull-up, but for some reason when I put underwear on him he forgets to go use the potty (I know the purpose of this is for my sanctification, because I went through this same ordeal when Alivia was 2, so I have all the patience I need for these kinds of things now - ha!)  He normally doesn't wear underwear for this reason, but today when he asked me if he could, with his sweet little dimply face, I agreed (against my better judgement) because we weren't planning on going anywhere today.  I was thankful it happened on the tile kitchen floor (before I mopped) and not the carpet, and quickly cleaned it up, cleaned him up, and got him some fresh clothes to wear.

It was time for a snack.  Alivia had asked me for some V8 splash juice before her bath and I had forgotten.  I fixed both of them some juice, Alivia some spiderman cheezits, and Weston a couple of fig newtons.  Alivia finished first and was tickling Weston as he finished his juice, when all of a sudden his lid came off and juice went all over him and the floor.  Thank goodness, once again, it was on the tile floor and I had not mopped yet.  I tried to remain calm as I cleaned up he and the floor and picked out his 3rd outfit of the morning...

I let the children play together while I did the dishes, mopped the kitchen floor, wiped down the kitchen table chairs, and did another load of laundry.

It was time for lunch.  The kids and I ate sandwiches, peanut butter crackers, apples, and water, while watching Calilou - Monday is about the only day we get to watch this show and they really like it!  While I was cleaning up the kitchen from lunch I noticed Alivia crouched behind the couch and obviously doing something she knew she wasn't supposed to be doing, so I walked over there and asked her what was going on.  She didn't want to tell me, but I saw the wet spot on the rug.  Not wanting to miss her show, she had an accident.  Really!?! I thought to myself.  This hasn't happened in over a year with her.  Twice in one day?  And on a Monday?  As I sprayed and scrubbed the rug, and cleaned my daughter, and got her some clean clothes to wear I prayed aloud for patience (I do this often) and said things to myself like... stay calm, gentle and quiet spirit, children are a blessing, kind words, grace...

Monday is also when sheets get changed, so after changing the sheets on the kids beds, we read a bedtime story and went down for a nap.  Alivia and I have this new deal where she stays in her bed and is quiet for one hour of rest time and after an hour I will come and check on her.  If she is asleep I let her sleep and if she is awake I let her come out and do a box activity (explanation of that coming in a later post).  She got up to use the bathroom once while I was in the shower, but then went back down and ended up falling asleep.

I was checking my facebook messages and emails, when I came across this post a sweet friend emailed me today about parenting entitled Are You Ready To Have Kids? While reading it I was laughing so hard I cried and had to share it because it was the inspiration for this post.

Weston woke up and we went to wake Alivia up since she had been asleep for 2 hours.  They get a snack of fruit when they wake up and they both wanted apple again even though we had that for lunch.  Then they wanted a banana.  They got to watch "Jake" while I got dinner going.  This is proof that I'm not making all this up...

I write all of this out in hopes that you will find some humor in the delight of homemaking and parenting.  The funny thing is, I consider today a really good day.  The kids were both in good moods, they played pretty well together, and I got a lot accomplished.  What's for dinner tonight?  I just texted the husband and asked him to get a Rotisserie chicken from Kroger on the way home and I am making green beans and frozen sweet potato fries.  Something quick and easy - we've got some Christmas decorating to do! :)

And because I think it's so wonderful, here's a link to a free printable from Ann Voskamp - 10 Points of Joyful Parenting

Momentary Motherhood - a great blog post by Carolyn Mahaney

Sunday, November 4, 2012


It's that time of year again when I start making things in the kitchen that the holiday season just wouldn't be complete without.  Toffee candy is one of those things.  Thanks to the Gaines' family traditions I make this every November and December and we make ourselves sick off of it's goodness.   I snapped a photo of some the other night and wanted to share it for other families to enjoy. 

2 sticks of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 stack saltine crackers

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place a single layer of saltine crackers on foil.
3.  Combine butter and brown sugar in pan on stove and boil, stirring constantly for 5 minutes.
4.  Pour butter and brown sugar mixture over crackers and put in oven for 5 minutes.
5.  Take out of oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips, after 3 minutes (allowing chocolate to melt a bit) spread chocolate over crackers with butter knife.
6.  Sprinkle with pecans and place in freezer for one hour.
7.  Remove foil.  Break into pieces. Store in covered container.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Home Project: Walls

When we moved into our home 16 months ago, the previous owners had left us some not so pretty holes in the walls from their pictures and other hangings.  The goal is to repaint most of the house, but until then I've been working creatively to cover up some of those holes.  In Weston's room I decided to paint stripes to cover the random holes at different heights.  I used paint that I had left over from painting animals on his nursery walls in our previous home.  I used red, navy, and brown since those colors are pretty basic and can hopefully go with new bedding colors as he gets older.

In the master bedroom there was a large area on the wall adjacent to the door that has been glaring at us for a while now and I wasn't sure how to cover such a large area. . . . until recently.  I've been seeing the "Always Kiss Me Goodnight" phrase all over Pinterest and in many stores and decided to use some more of that leftover paint and some stencils I bought a few years ago (to stencil a Bible verse in our kitchen) to paint this phrase over the holes.  My Pawpaw taught me how to putty holes a few years ago and then sand them down and paint over them.  I'm pretty pleased with the outcome and it only took me a couple of weeks of working on it a few minutes here and there when I found the time.  AND it's a good reminder. :)




Saturday, October 20, 2012

School Week 8 - Letter H

Our new routine is to go to the library on Tuesdays when we leave Parents Day Out.  My children know that they are supposed to whisper in the library and there is a rug and couch that they are told to sit on and read a book quietly while I get books for our letter of the week.  Otherwise, we disturb everyone, or they pull several books off the shelves, or roll around on the plastic colored tube pillows (why are they even in there?), or better yet stand on top of the tube pillows (for lack of a better description) and jump off of them.  It's all in little kid fun, but for the library, siting still and being quiet are the rules.  I told the kids this Tuesday that if they behaved in the library we could go get a slushy at Sonic when we left.  This was also to reward Weston (2 yr old) for not biting anyone at school that day. . . . major accomplishment!  And it just so happened to be Happy Hour at Sonic - 1/2 price.  One child got one, the other did not.  I think this is a great new tradition.

The same sweet lady at church that gave us worksheets for "G" week gave us these worksheets for "H" week.  The kids loved them and it took out a lot of preparation time for me.  Alivia has really enjoyed thinking of words that start with "H" this week.  We recognize the letter "H" everywhere we go and say the sound that it makes.  These worksheets are great for teaching Alivia how to write and Weston traces the letters with his finger each week.

I also took the opportunity to start the "forced sibling Hug" last week.  I read about it on a blog somewhere and thought I pinned it, but now I can't find it to share the link.  The blog suggested forcing siblings to hug for a minute if they fight with one another.  This is like taking the, "Tell your sister you're sorry" scenario to a whole new level. :)  Instead of setting a timer, I learned that my kiddos did better if I counted out loud to 60.  They have to embrace with two hands or I start over, and after the minute is up, they have to say, "I love you ____" to one another and kiss each other.  They end up giggling and completely forget about the argument.

Memory verse: "Hear O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one." -Deuteronomy 6:4

I told Grant that one of the things I wanted to teach the kids this year was the books of the Bible, so he found (on iTunes) the Old Testament song from Wee Sing that he learned when he was a kid.  After a few weeks of singing it in the evenings, Alivia knows it and sings it all day and Weston is pretty close to knowing them all.  Now they can learn the New Testament after the new year.  Here's Alivia singing it a few nights ago. . . .

We also enjoyed singing this song this week:

Ho, ho, ho, ho-sannah
Ha, ha, ha-llelujah
He, he, he, he saved me
I've got the joy of the Lord

Sausage and Cream Cheese Casserole

This recipe is so easy and really good.  I made it last Saturday night for our Sunday morning breakfast and it was just as good reheated the next day.  Only 4 ingredients are needed and not much time.

1 lb sausage (I used Jimmy Dean Sage)
1 cup frozen, chopped onions
2 packages of crescent rolls
8 oz cream cheese, softened

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9x13 baking dish.
2.  Cook sausage and onions on stovetop over medium high heat.  Do not drain.
3.  Stir cream cheese into sausage and onions.
4.  Roll out 1 package of crescents in bottom of dish and pinch separations together.
5.  Spread cream cheese and sausage mixture over crescents in dish.
6.  Spread the other package of crescents over the top, pinching separations.
7.  Bake for about 25 minutes.


recipe from Rochelle

Cleaning Around The Oven

One of the things on my home projects to-do list was marked off yesterday.  Clean around the oven.  This hasn't been done since we moved into our current home 16 months ago, and after completing the project I think I'm safe to say it hasn't been done since the house was built in 2006.  Yuck!  The gunk building up between the counter and the oven is one of those things that you notice while you are cooking dinner every night, but it never seems to be the right time to tackle the job.  Friday morning was the right time.  The hubby was preparing a lecture and grading papers for a college course he teaches, so I set each of the kids up with an educational iPhone game and got out my supplies.  I did ask Grant to move the oven out of its spot, but when I was finished, it was light enough to push back into place myself.  Here's the before and after photos and some helpful hints along the way. . . .

The before photo makes you appreciate the after photo 

After sweeping and mopping the floor area under the oven, I used antibacterial all-purpose cleaner and a rag to wipe away any remaining dirtiness.

This is an SOS pad used to clean off the rust spots

I then wiped down the outside of the oven and every nook and cranny I could find

I used a rag and knife to clean the vent openings
This area is what always leads me to this cleaning project
The after photo

Not sure how long this will last

Just like brand new, almost

I would like to add that I was married 4 years before I even knew this project needed to be on my to-do list.  Oh yes, I saw the gunk between the counter and oven building up, but had never bought an oven before and didn't realize I could move it in order to clean around it.  While growing up I lived in a house that had a stovetop built into a kitchen cabinet and a double oven built into a separate kitchen cabinet.  So, there was no oven to move and clean around and I was never taught this homemaking task.  After 4 years of marriage, my husband and I were moving out of our on campus apartment at Seminary and we received a list of things we were supposed to clean before leaving.  One of those things was to move the oven away from the wall and clean around it.  Who knew?  I had lived and learned.  I now have a self-cleaning oven (my mom has raved about hers my whole life, and now I know why) which means I push a button and come back a few hours later to a clean oven on the inside. . . . going to push the button now.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

School Week 7 - Letter G

I usually spend some time on Sundays gathering ideas for the upcoming week for my kids.  When I find an activity or worksheet I would like us to do I go ahead and start a blog post and put all of the links for that week in there and then at the end of the week I fill in the pictures and descriptions.  It's a good way to keep it all in one place and then share it with others.

This week while memorizing our verse we discussed all the places we could Go to preach the Good news.  And then we talked about what the Good news is and how we can tell our neighbors and friends at school.

A sweet lady at our church gave us these worksheets and Gummy worms for this week since she knew we were on Gg week.

These are the "G" books we enjoyed reading this week.

Letter Gg for grasshopper handwriting practice - first school (4 yr old)

Guitar math - no time for flashcards (2 and 4 yr old)

Guess How Much I Love You - if you don't have this book you can have it read to you for free here

Counting Gumballs in the Gumball machine - teach preschool (2 and 4 yr old)

This is a fun website to make sure my 4 year old is skilled :) . . . .
Pre-K skills

* We fasted from t.v. and movies last week and it was wonderful!  I usually let my kids watch a cartoon while I take a shower in the morning and sometimes while I'm cooking supper.  My kids beg to watch t.v. all the time and I tell them it won't make them very smart.  I enjoyed seeing their creative minds at work more and how they played with one another instead of staring at the tube. :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Butter Biscuit Muffins

     One of the many blessings in my life was the opportunity I had to attend seminary wives classes when my husband and I lived in Louisville, KY for him to attend seminary.  These classes were taught mainly by seminary professors' wives and some by the professors.  One of my favorite classes was The Ministry of Hospitality, taught by the seminary President's wife, Mary Mohler.  This is a recipe Mrs. Mohler shared with our class and it is super easy and very yummy.

2 cups All Purpose Baking Mix
1 stick butter
1 cup sour cream

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2.  Grease mini muffin tins.
3.  Combine all ingredients just until blended, and fill muffin tins about 1/2 full.
4.  Bake for about 12 minutes.

Lasagna Soup

     I got this recipe from Family Fun magazine back in February 2009 and we have been enjoying it ever since.  I tweaked it a little, of course, and this is what I have come up with.

1 lb ground beef
1 lb sausage 
1 1/2 cups frozen, chopped onions
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
28 oz can diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
12 oz Rotini pasta
1 Tbsp basil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella

1.  Brown the ground beef and sausage in a large pot over medium high heat.  Drain fat.
2.  Add the onions and saute until softened.
3.  Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and saute for 1 minute.
4.  Add the tomato paste and saute for 5 minutes.
5.  Add the tomatoes with their juice, the broth, and the bay leaves and bring the soup to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
6.  Add the pasta, then increase the heat to medium high and boil the soup until the pasta is tender, following the time recommendation on the package.  
7.  Discard the bay leaves, then stir in the basil.  
8.  Stir in salt, black pepper, and Parmesan cheese.
9.  To serve, place soup in a bowl and sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Soul Nourishment #10

"Remember, parenting is a huge imposition in life that should be received as a calling from God to deny self." - Andy Savage

First Time Obedience - blog post
"I tend to look at my children through this lens, 'It is the kindness and mercy of the Lord that leads to repentance.' Romans" -Sally Clarkson
"Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife...the beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out." -Proverbs 17:1,14

"Reading is the exposure to Scripture, but meditation is the absorption of Scripture.  And it's the absorption of Scripture that leads to the transformation of our lives. . . . It's not so much what we read in the Bible that changes us, but what we remember." - Donald Whitney

"But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does." -James 1:25

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." -Joshua 1:8

"A Wise Woman realizes that what she meditates upon will emerge in her speech." -Pat Ennis

Titus 2:3-5 - "In these Scriptures, Paul is saying that when a wife and mother fulfills her God-given duty, she acts as a barrier against that family's dishonoring God and His Word.  While the woman in the home is not the leader, she is the dominant influencer." - John MacArthur

1 Timothy 6:6-8:  Godliness + Contentment = great gain!

"A Wise Woman builds a financial reserve for financial challenges and a spiritual reserve for emotional challenges." - Pat Ennis 

"If you must become over involved - become over involved in your role as a character builder in your home." - Charles Swindoll

"Couples need to schedule time to communicate, since it rarely happens spontaneously in the midst of busy routines." - Pat Ennis

"Marriage used to be about us, now it's about me." - Tim Keller

How To Cultivate Fresh Faith In The Gospel - blog post by Jonathan Dodson
"Prayerful communion with the Spirit can lead to grace-based transformation of our hearts."

"However diligently we may impart to them (our kids) a knowledge of God and his works, if we do not appear to think highly of him, to love his character, to admire his works, and to prefer him to every other object, our instructions will have but very little effect. . . . To speak God's praises to the rising generation is then, if possible, even more important than to impart to them a knowledge of his works.  Both, however, are necessary and should never be separated." -Edward Payson

Sunday, September 30, 2012

School Week 6 - Letter F

Our memory verse this week: John 3:16

     We didn't get around to doing any worksheets this week, but we had a lot of Fun.  And since it was "Ff" week I figured that was okay.  We go to Parents Day Out on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are our school at home days.  Monday we had fun with Play-doh and made these Faces that I printed and laminated from Sparkle box - Make playdough faces . . . . 

     I told the kids that "a glad heart makes a cheerful Face" (Proverbs 15:13).  Then we talked about how our Faces show how we are Feeling on the inside and we took turns deciding how each of these monkeys were Feeling.  I printed and laminated these from Kiz Club - How Do You Feel? 

     On Monday we also went to the library to return our "E" books and find some "F" books.

     Then on Wednesday we learned that "F" was for Fall and we talked about the seasons and how the leaves are Falling off the trees.  We took a picnic lunch to the school where daddy teaches so we could eat with him and enjoyed Finding the leaves, acorns, etc...  There was a cool rope swing in a tree and a ladder to climb up to a tree house and so much nature to explore.

     We also decorated pumpkins . . . .

     Friday was our day to do worksheets and sing our "F" song and learn all about firemen and fire safety, but we never got around to that.  However, my in-laws came to take me out to eat for my birthday and my MIL just so happened to give Weston a Fireman costume.  And we went to a Fireman birthday party the weekend before, so learning is taking place all the time even if it's not official. :)

She's making the sound of a siren

     We decided to Fast from tv and movies this week, so I'll let you know how that goes.  We are three days in and I'm really liking it so far.