Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday thoughts

My random Friday thoughts. . .
My weekly inspirational bathroom mirror quote.  President Monson always has the best advice!  

Summer. . .

We have been busy with swim team starting in the mornings this week and driver's ed in its 2nd week.  Miss A busy with her two jobs, and life in general.  Summer is busy, but the thing that makes it different than the school year is the evenings.  We rarely have things in the evenings in the summer which makes all the difference.  During the school year there are always things in the evenings--games, concerts, track or cross country meets, etc.  Summer isn't like that.  We don't play ball, so when it is over 100 degrees in the evenings, we can stay home in the air conditioning and not be sitting at the ball park.  I wholeheartedly admit I never, ever encouraged my kids to play softball or baseball for that exact reason :)  

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What's up Wednesday--crock pot beef stroganoff

In 2011 my mom and her two sisters decided to collect my DeeDee's (their mom's) recipes and put them into a family cookbook.  They also included some of their personal favorite recipes in the book.  It is a treasure, and I am so very grateful for my aunts and my mom who took all the time and put it together.  My DeeDee makes some amazing things, and I am so thankful we have her recipes in one place!  The picture on the cover is my DeeDee with her 3 girls--my two aunts, and my mom on the far right.  
Inside this cookbook my family found a new favorite from one of my aunts--her crock pot beef stroganoff.  It is so much a favorite that when I asked Mr J what he wanted for his birthday dinner, he requested this.  It is soooooooooo easy!  and so delicious!  I was very happy with his request, and we all enjoyed his birthday dinner.  I hope you enjoy this family favorite.

Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff

In your crock pot mix

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can French onion soup

then add 2 lbs beef stew meat. Stir to get the meat covered by the soup.

Cover and cook on low about 6-8 hours or until meet is tender and cooked through.  Serve over egg noodles, pasta, or rice topped with sour cream.

Yes, it is that easy, and so yum!  Enjoy!!

Monday, May 26, 2014

2014 Blue Jeans Week 21

First full week of summer, and we enjoyed it!  Did some shopping in the city, Mr J took a cooking class, last track meet for Miss A, and a birthday party.  It was a good week!  Take a look. . .
A perfect picture of summer--playing in a tree

Went to the big city to get some shopping done.  Everyone happy in the car--for a minute :)

A perfect summer's afternoon--reading in his tent

Mr J took a cooking class this week.  He had a lot of fun.  He made some breakfast casserole muffins which he said were "delectable!"

One of Miss O's summer projects--a scrapbook of her Bible study group from this year.

Last Track meet of the season for Miss A.  She ran her personal best and did great.  I think she is glad to be done for the year!

Miss A and her amazing track coach who is retiring after this season.  He was my coach and has been around for a long time.  He is amazing and will be greatly, greatly missed!

Mr J had his friend birthday party Saturday.  Miss O and Miss E helped decorate the cupcakes for it.  I was pretty impressed with what they did!

Mr J and some of his friends went roller staking for his birthday party.  They had fun :)

Thanks for visiting!  Hope you have a great week!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday thoughts--kids' summer plans

My random Friday thoughts. . .
My weekly inspirational bathroom mirror quote.  I should have laminated these after Ben gave them to me.  Sometimes putting things on the bathroom mirror has water hazards :)  But I love this quote.  We do need each other.

So I am a planner.  Summers are a great time to relax and enjoy each other, but we also have to get things done.  We make goals and plans for each of the kids each summer.  This year we made check lists for them too.  I just put them in a page protector so they use dry erase markers on them, and we can reuse them each week.  I got my ideas for the summer plans from the book 3 Steps to a Strong Family by Richard and Linda Eyre.  A great book. Their 3 steps were traditions, order, and economy.  Their economy gave a detailed plan of weekly 'allowances' and then summer plans to raise money.  The allowances are earned and not just given.  My kids have weekly lists to earn their allowances every two week.  If they don't work, they don't get paid.  That is the way it works--at our house in in the real world.  Their summer plans they make goals for themselves in different areas--physical (shoot 50 free throws a day, etc), spiritual (pass off a personal progress project, read a certain amount in the scriptures, etc), mental (read so many books, do math games, etc) and then we assign a money amount to each goal.  At the end of the summer we look at their goals and see how they did and adjust the amounts accordingly :)  To help them keep on track, we made these weekly check lists. 
This is 14-year-old Miss O's.  Not everything on there has to be done daily.  The first six items must be done before they can have computer or TV time, or go with a friend or anywhere.  The bottom ones are weekly projects or a few times a week things.  

This is 12-year-old Miss E's check list. Again top 6 are daily requirements.

And this is 9-year-old Mr J's check list.  Same thing--top 6 are required.  Their "Project" changes day to day.  I choose it.  It usually involves their section of the garden (our garden is divided into 4 sections and each kid is in charge of their own--planting, weeding, watering, etc), cleaning out different parts of their rooms--shelves, dresser, closets, or it can be a project they choose and check with me.  The kids did a bunch of puzzles one day, Miss O made a school scrapbook.  

My 16-year-old Miss A also has a check list, but she also has 2 different jobs--babysitting and working at a local ice cream shop, so with working those 2 jobs, she has less free time than the others and less need to get money from me :)  But she still has her goals she works on for the summer--ACT prep, reading, etc.

The kids were scared when they saw this and thought they would never have free time, but they are finding out it works well.  They have plenty of time to do other things, and they have their most important things done also.

Yeah, I am a crazy, planner mother like that :)  but it keeps our summers sane, productive, active, and fun.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What's up Wednesday--Amish Sugar Cookies

I got this recipe from my Grandma DeeDee who if you don't know is the Queen of Cookies.  (Capitol letters very necessary.)  This is a different kind of cookie than I normally make.  These are very light and melt-in-your-mouth yum.  Something different to make from our regular chocolate chip cookies variety which is a staple here.  Enjoy!
Amish Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter, soft
1 cup oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

Combine butter, oil, and sugars in large mixing bowl or electric mixer.  Mix well.  Add eggs and beat 1 minute until well blended.  Add vanilla and mix well.  Add dry ingredients and mix well.  Drop by teaspoonfuls (I always use the Pampered Chef medium cookie scoop) on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 375 for 8-10 minutes.


Monday, May 19, 2014

2014 Blue Jeans Week 20

School is out for the summer!!!!  Yeah!  Can't tell you how happy that makes us here!  It was a full last few days--track meet, band concerts, awards assemblies, but it is all done!  Yeah!  Here is a look at our week...
Since Miss E had a birthday and turned 12 this Sunday was her first time in Young Women's.  Here she is with all the YW and leaders in our ward--and yes 2 of them are her sisters :) and her mom is the president, but she is taking the picture :)

Band concert number 1 of the week.  We love our school bands here!  Miss O playing the French horn and Miss E playing the trombone are in this somewhere.

Middle school jazz band concert.  Miss O is rocking out on the piano on the left.

Awards assemblies--all the kids had all A's all year, and Miss O got a special award for breaking the school record in the 1600.  Way to go kids!!!

Miss A had a track meet this week.  She did awesome!!!  First in 1600 and 3200.  Way to go!!!

Our traditional end of the school year Toyota jump--school's out for the summer!!!!

Had a missionary serving in our ward the last few months and he got moved--is actually going to Brazil to serve, and had to get a good-bye picture.

Saturday--Ben decided Miss O can learn to use the riding lawn mower.  He had to walk along side for a while to make sure she was doing it right :)

Thanks for visiting!  Hope you have a great week!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday thoughts

My random Friday thoughts and some more pictures of flowers.
This is my weekly bathroom mirror inspirational quote.  So true.  There is no room in marriage for selfishness.

Wanted to share some flower color I have going on right now.  

Peonies and yellow iris.  Gorgeous together.

This is what the small purple alliums I planted last fall look like now.  Cool spike balls that can just stay there all summer.

This is a different kind of purple allium--these are way bigger than the other ones.  They look so cool!  Some more of the over 100 bulbs I planted last fall.

Some of my many irises.  White, purple, yellow, and some mixed in there.

Iris are so pretty!  Isn't nature amazing?

So school is out for the summer here.  Today is our first day of summer break, and we had to cover our tomatoes last night because of a chance of frost!  Crazy!  We had to turn the heater on last night.  Not your typical summer weather.  Looking forward to summer and all that it brings!  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What's up Wednesday--cookie pie crust

So normal pie crusts, I don't do very well.  This pie crust, I personally admit, I rock at because it is so easy.  I love easy.  This is a pre-baked pie crust for all your cream pie types.  It won't work for pies you have to cook in the oven like most fruit pies or pumpkin.  It is slightly sweet, almost like a sugar cookie crust for your pies.  Our favorite that I make with these is banana cream and coconut cream.  to.die.for.  The hardest part about this is being sure to get it as far up the pie pan as you can because it tends to slip down when you cook it--but if it does, that is okay.  This pie plate below had an edge that I put the dough over and that seemed to help it not shrink or slip down.  Even if it does shrink or slip down, you are covering it up with some yummy cream filling, and it will still taste good.  Enjoy!

Cookie Pie Crust (makes 1 9" pie, double for 2)
Preheat oven to 350

In a mixing bowl of an electric mixer (a kitchenaid) add
1 cup flour
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
3 1/2 Tab powdered sugar

Mix until it comes together unto a ball like below.

Put into a pie pan

Use your fingers and the palm of your and to mold the crust into the pie pan.  Be sure and put crust up as high on the pie plate and over the edges as possible because it likes to puff in the middle and shrink down on the sides.

Bake 350 for 10 and be careful not to burn.  

Let cool completely and then fill with whatever yummy cream pie you want.  Super easy.  No rolling out or kneading.  It turns out great every time.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 12, 2014

2014 Blue Jeans Week 19

2nd to last week of school, 2 field trips, choir concert, band concert, a birthday, a track meet, and life in general made for a very busy week.  4 days of school left and counting!  I am ready for a break!!!  Here is a look at our week. . .
Sunday afternoon the girls were working on their Mother's Day cards for grandma's and great grandma's.  These girls are extremely creative (and messy :) when making cards, and I love to see what they come up with.

Got to go on Mr J's field trip today to a science/space museum.  It was lots of fun!

High school choir concert.  Miss A sang her solo which she got a "1" at State vocal solo competition.  It was awesome!  

Happy Birthday to Miss E!  For her birthday present she wanted to get her ears pierced, so we went right after school on her birthday.  She was one brave girl!  So exciting :)

Happy Birthday to Miss E who we love so much and makes our family great!!!  She works harder than anyone I know on that trombone of hers and made first trombone in the top Jazz band for next year!!!

Amidst all the crazy of end of school activities and such, I got away with my girlfriends for lunch and some flower shopping.  So enjoyed that break!!  Thank heavens for great friends!!

High school band concert.  Miss A and Miss O playing their French horns.  The concert was amazing!

Ahh!  My 2nd one can legally drive now.  Heaven help me!  Driver's Ed this summer here we come!

On Saturday the weather cooperated and (almost--missing Miss O) everyone's schedules worked out that we finally got our garden planted.  Now we just hope it will grow and bring us lots of yummy food!

Thanks for visiting!  Have a great week!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday thoughts

My random Friday thoughts. . .
This is my weekly bathroom mirror inspirational quote.  I think the observe part is important.  I just saw a video called "Look Up" talking about how we spend so much time looking down at whatever technology we have--phone, tablet, computer, etc that we miss so much of the world.  You can't serve if you don't know what the situation is and where help is needed, and you can't see where help is needed if you don't get out of your "virtual, social, digital, network"  and look up and actually see what is happening in the world around you.  Now I would be the first one to admit that technology is amazing, and I love it, but so is chocolate, and I can't eat it constantly, nonstop, exclusively or there would be serious consequences.  It is the same with technology.  Moderation in all things--chocolate, technology, anything.  When we practice moderation in all things it allows us the opportunity to observe and the time to serve.

Another random thought for the week. . .I had the opportunity to go on Mr J's field trip this week.  It was to an amazing museum about space.  It was a long ways away--almost 6 hours round trip on a school bus, a 12 hour day with about 40 8-year-olds.  Oh. my.  But it really was fun and great to be with Mr J.  One things in the museum that took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes was this room.  These are parts of the actual Berlin Wall.  It brings tears to my eyes even now as I look at them.  Freedom is something so dear.  We take it for granted way too much.  I am so grateful I live in a country where there are no walls.  There are no check points or papers needed to go from city to city, state to state.  I can run, walk, jump, state my opinion, shop where and when I want, go to whatever school I want, study whatever I want.  It is my choice.  I have that great responsibility and privilege of making that choice.  So many people--so very many people--throughout the history of the world, and even the very recent history and even current times do not have that privilege.  What a blessing!  What an amazing blessing!!  I honor those who lived and live in those very difficult circumstances that don't have a choice.  That have a wall they couldn't cross.  My little boy is smiling in this picture, but I hope to be able to convey to him the seriousness of the picture.  Of all it says about the world we live in and all it says about the great freedoms he has.  We are so blessed, and with that blessing comes great responsibilities to share those blessings and to try to bring the walls down for others so they can also share in our blessings.

Appreciate what you have.  Look up.  Observe and then serve.  Life is a gift.  Treasure and enjoy it!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What's up Wednesday--Angel Biscuits

My mom found this recipe somewhere several years ago, and it is really heavenly--thus the name Angel Biscuits.  They are so soft and yummy!  My 14-year-old made this batch last week, and they were devoured!  I was lucky to get a shot before they all disappeared. This biscuit recipe has yeast in it, and it does say to let them rise for 1 hour.  They really don't get a lot bigger in that time, but they are so soft and fluffy when done so don't skip the "let rise" step.  Perfect for butter, honey, or jam.
Angel Biscuits

1 Tab yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups buttermilk or 2 cups milk plus 2 tsp vinegar mixed in
5 cups flour (we used half whole wheat, half white in these)
1 Tab baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
3 Tab sugar plus 1 tsp sugar
3/4 cup butter

Combine yeast, water and 1 tsp sugar.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Add lukewarm buttermilk (I usually microwave it for 1 minute to get it lukewarm) to yeast mixture and set a side.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 3 Tab sugar. 
Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles course meal

Add buttermilk mixture to flour and stir until dry ingredients are all moistened.

Turn dough out onto floured surface--it will be very sticky--and kneed 4-5 times.

Roll to 1/2 inch thickness and cut with a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter.  Place on greased baking sheet barely touching. Cover and rise 1 hour.

Bake 425 for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

2014 Blue Jeans Week 18

Hello fun and busy week--Ben had work meetings, and I got to go (thanks Nana and Grandpa!), piano recital, National Honor Society, 3 track meets, a birthday and lots of band stuff.  Take a look at our week. . .
Ben had meetings for work for 3 days in downtown Omaha, NE, and my parents very graciously offered to watch the kids so I could go along. We stayed right downtown, and downtown Omaha is a fun place!  They had this beautiful river walk right there, and we sure enjoyed our time there.  He had meetings, I shopped, he had meetings, I scrapbooked and read in the hotel, and then we met up in the evenings.  It was very nice.

Enjoying our time together walking downtown Omaha one afternoon.

The kids had a piano recital.  They all did awesome!!!  They each played a solo and then Mr J and Miss A did a duet.

Track meet #1 of the week.  Miss A did awesome!

Miss A and her best friend were inducted into the National Honor Society this week.  Way to go girls!

Miss O had a birthday during all the crazy of the week.  Sure love that girl!

Miss O had her last 2 track meets this week--one Thursday and one Friday.  She did awesome and finished the season strong.  Way to go Miss O!

Had a band banquet and Miss O played the piano with the jazz band.  They were awesome!

Had a band practice fundraiser--the kids got donations for playing so many hours.  They started at 9 a.m.

And this was the 4 left at 11 p.m.  Miss O and Miss E quit about 6 p.m, but Miss A kept going until after 11 p.m.--over 13 hours of non-stop practicing.  Bless her heart!  But she raised a lot of money for their fall band trip.  Way to go Miss A!

Thanks for visiting!  Hope you have a great week!  Come back often!

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