Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Change of Plans, In More Ways Than ONE!

I have a confession.  I'm embarrassed to tell.  So, in an effort to keep myself calm, I'm not doing much of anything but watching Netflix and playing a few games of Yahtzee on my phone.  Here is the run down of all that has happened.... 1) The other day I bumped my tablet off of the coffee table in my living room and now the touch screen is broken.  I've dropped it on the carpet a few dozen times before, but that day finally did it for me.  My dad will take a look at it in the next few days and let me know if he thinks its worth fixing or if I will have find a way to buy a new one in the coming months.  2) The other day Lexi and I were coming home from my doctor's appointment and I ran a red light.  I'm not talking about going through a yellow light that turns red as you go through the intersection.  I'm talking the light was full blown RED!  As we moved through the intersection in slow motion I could see our lives flash before my eyes.  I never should have gone out because I wasn't feeling well and I had no business being out on the road.  3) I woke up this morning itchy and when I went to the mirror in the bathroom I found that I was covered in hives again.  This time my lips were swollen.  So, I called work and then I called the doctor.  I'm not doing much of anything because not only do I have these blotches all over my body, but my stomach is upset.  Not fun!

Thankfully, with a ton of Benadryl and a quick phone call to my doctor this morning and now another appointment scheduled, a tolerant husband, daughter, and sons, I'm feeling a bit better tonight, my stomach isn't as bad and sitting up feels better.  In a day or two, I'll be full speed ahead again....only hopefully a little more cautious!  These kinds of things always come around in threes.  I just wish I could pin point the trigger.  This is just another reminder of why it's so important to consider our every action and choice because they will effect us and those around us in multiple ways.  

I'm always telling my children, "You choose.  They choose their outcome by each and every decision they make...from the important ones to the simple ones.  Every decision we make determines the outcome of things around us.  From the big ones, like when Danielle and Chance got married.  That decision changed not only their lives but the lives of each person in our families.  I'm sure that never crossed their minds when they made that decision, but in the grand scheme of things it did and this is a good thing of course!  Now, just think about those people who make decisions that have lasting effects on their entire families in a bad way?  Everything has a rippling effect.  You may think your decisions only effect you, but that is never true.  Then there are the simple decisions like, I think I'll let the doctor put me on steroids one more time because he convinced me that I needed them.  Making things rough on everyone who has had to pick up the slack in my household, to letting something as small as spilled milk ruin an entire family dinner (I promise, that doesn't happen here!  After all, It's only spilled milk!)  Our choices make a difference.

And on that note, I'm choosing to take it easy for a day or two more, watching a few movies and playing a few rounds of Yahtzee on my phone.  Besides, that's about all I'm good for right now with all this Benadryl on board.  Enough said.
Image result for i believe that we are solely responsible for our choices

Monday, August 14, 2017

Baked Potato Bar, It's What's For Dinner!


Image result for baked potato bar

Every once in a while we switch things up and do a meatless dinner like baked potatoes with all the toppings.  It's a super simple and inexpensive meal that fills everyone up and we always have plenty of left overs for those late night munchers or for the next day.  We love baked potatoes and it's always a fun meal when we have a variety of toppings to suit everyones tastes.

Here's a fun tip if you are serving baked potatoes to a large group of people.  Washing potatoes can be quite the chore, but here is a quick and easy method that will save you from having to scrub them all yourself and in the long run is a time saver too.  Have you ever washed your potatoes in the dishwasher?  I know!!  Pretty smart idea, isn't it??!!!  I've seen this idea several different places but I've never been in a situation where I've needed to wash and bake more than ten pounds at a time.  However, I'll certainly keep this in mind for future reference.  You never know when this might come in handy.  Most everyone that has washed their potatoes in the dishwasher suggest using the quick rinse cycle, but sometimes potatoes need a longer washing so you can also use the regular rinse cycle as well.  Then when the cycle is done you just open the dishwasher door and let the potatoes air dry right there in the rack.  

Image result for washing potatoes in the dishwasher

Then when you are ready to prepare the potatoes for baking just poke a few holes in each potato, rub them down with oil and then salt the skins, and wrap them in aluminum foil.  

When using a crock pot full of potatoes I add a small amount of water to the bottom of the crock pot and then cook the potatoes on low all day.  This is a great method for cooking potatoes, especially here in Arizona.  (The microwave is another method, but for some reason they just don't turn out the same as the oven or crock pot method.)  Crock pots are also a great way to transport all of the potatoes if you need to cook them for a large crowd. 

You can also do hot dogs in the crock pot as well.  I learned how to do it at Crockpot 365.  Did you know you can fit 60 short hot dogs in a 6 quart crock pot?  What another great idea for feeding a crowd.  This is an awesome site to check out with all kinds of ideas for cooking with your crock pot.  Then you just cook them on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.  Pretty cool!  I haven't tried the hot dogs in the crock pot yet myself, but I'm sure this idea will come in handy soon enough.

With our family baked potato bar a nice veggie tray always rounds out the meal.  This way you can do as much prep work the day or night before and give yourself time to do other things.  I love doing baked potatoes on Sundays when we don't want a big meal, but want a nice dinner.  Plus it's another way for us to do a meatless meal and we always like that option. 

So, here is the recap our baked potato bar...

Easy Baked Potato Bar
1. Wash the potatoes in the dishwasher on the rinse cycle. Do not use detergent.
2. Open the dishwasher door and allow the potatoes to air dry.
3. Poke holes in the potatoes with a fork.
4. Rub oil on the skins and salt them.
5. Wrap each potato in aluminum foil.
6. Put a small amount of water in the bottom of the crock pot.
7. Place the potatoes in the crock pot.
8. Cook on low for at least 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
9. Consider unwrapping the potatoes for your guests because they will be very hot.
10. Provide a variety of toppings (see the list below) for your guests to choose from.

Baked Potato Topping Ideas
Butter
Sour Cream
Chives
Green Onion
Shredded Cheese (use a variety of different kinds)
Chopped Ham
Crumbled Bacon
Cheese Sauce
Chili
Salsa
Chopped Broccoli (cooked)
Ranch Dressing
Chopped Tomatoes

For those watching their weight:
Try a Butter Substitute or Plain Non-Fat yogurt instead of sour cream.

Bacon Cooking Tip:  I have been cooking bacon in the oven now for a couple of years and you couldn't pay me to fry bacon now.  Well, maybe if the price was right, but I am getting off track.  Anyway.....

Place sliced bacon on a baking sheet with sides or in a casserole dish.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25+ minutes or until desired crispiness is reached.  

Last night we baked up 10 pounds of potatoes.  We got a bag of extra large potatoes and as it turned out there were only 11 potatoes in the bag.  Since it was just 4 of us here last night, we ended up having lots left over.  The four of us ate six potatoes.  I was shocked when Kevin ate two!  That is huge for him especially since his appetite has not been what it normally is lately.  All in all, it was a stress free meal for me which is always appreciated.  

Have you ever served a crowd with a baked potato bar?  If so, tell us about it.  Especially if you have a few tips and tricks I was not aware of.  I'd love to hear your ideas.  Please leave a comment. 

In Other News:

As many of you already know I've been sick off and on for several months now.  I get some kind of upper respiratory stuff and it just lingers and I am miserable for at least two weeks until the doctor gives me all kinds of antibiotics, steroids, inhalers, cough medicine, and anything else they want to throw at me to try and get me over it.  Well, I ended up with bronchitis recently so they referred me to a pulmonologist and decided to do a CT Scan.  Well, today I had the CT Scan and another appointment with my doctor.  They had the results of the scan and I guess I have a nodule on my lungs.  I, of course, asked a few questions.  The doctor said with my history we will just check it again in six months.  He gave me all the options of what this could be. He said it could be Pneumonia, Valley Fever, or the "C" word....you know, cancer.  Arg!  Frankly, I am a bit relieved that something showed up because at least it explains why I keep getting sick.  Now to just get better and stay better.  I have faith that everything will turn out for the best.  I honestly do not feel like this is cancer.  I think it's one of the other two options.  So, we'll see.  I see the pulmonologist in the next couple of weeks and I'm sure if he thinks we need to pursue this further we will.  I'm optimistic all will be well and we just need to watch this.  Nothing more.  Time will tell.


Saturday I was talking to my Mom briefly about a few things and while we were talking she asked if she could stop by for a little bit.  She came over and handed me $100 and then offered to fill up my gas tank.  My parents said they just felt that it was the right thing to do.  I was floored because it couldn't have come at a better time and I didn't even ask.  
I'll be honest, I've been stressing over the bills for some time now.  We are getting things taken care of but we are behind and I just can't seem to get us up over the hump.  There just isn't enough to go around.  I could use a second job, but I can't get one without prior approval from my current one.  Plus, I don't see them ever approving that since I can't seem to stay healthy enough to get to the first one.  So, do you see my dilemma?  I honestly don't think I could handle a second job right now.  I've got to much on my plate right now as it is.  I need to come up some way to get us over this hump.  The part that has been the hardest is having to make most of the decisions when it comes to our money.  Sure, Kevin would help, but right now he is just hurting to much.  I always go over things with him so he knows.  I also don't want him to start canceling appointments because he doesn't want to stress out the budget.  That man.  I love him, but sometimes he can be pretty stubborn.  So, I'm holding off on telling him until he gets the next pain specialist appointment out of the way.  Then I'll tell him.  
I think the one thing that is the hardest for me is tithing.  Not because I don't want to pay it because I do and we've been really good at making sure that gets done and it's been great, but we are still struggling and behind on things that need to get current.  I have prayed about it and prayed about it and the Lord knows I really want to make sure that gets taken care of.  At the same time, I can't let these other things go either.  There just isn't enough room in the budget.

I firmly believe that the Lords knows when you are doing the very best you can and He finds a way to help make up the difference.  I believe this past Saturday He prompted my parents to step in and do what they did to help us out.  I cannot tell you how grateful I am.  I'm humbled by this and relieved all at the same time.  We still aren't out of the woods yet, but this sure did help us make to a brand new week and I am laying this burden at the Lord's feet and I know He will work it all out for us.  Maybe not in the exact way we had hoped, but He will make it happen.  I am very grateful.

Well, that's about all I have for you.  Take care and we will talk again soon.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Welcome!

They say you can't go back home again or teach old dogs new tricks, but that is exactly what we are hoping for here.  To teach this "old dog" a few new "tricks".  I've been blogging in one form or another most of my life, but officially in the blogsphere since 2013.  During the last four years (time flies, doesn't it?!) I've moved through a phase or two in my life and just as many blogs, I write about those phases.  Some of my posts were fairly popular, some not so much, but each had a loyal group of followers.  That has all changed over the past few months and I've struggled to find my voice somewhat.  And I just felt it was time to change things up a bit too. 


Before I have tried to write more serious, faith based posts and sometimes found success, but for the most part it was a struggle to consistently write something of that nature.  I took that as a sign that it was not meant to be during those moments.  Whereas, other times faith based posts flowed easily in the past and I felt inspired to say the things I said.  I love when my posts are received through divine inspiration and not my own idea.  

Journal-type posts found their way onto the pages of my previous blog more times than not.  You know the type, ramblings about daily life with little substance.  My heart just wasn't in it and I could tell these posts were not resonating with my readers either.  I was also falling into the meme or survey trap.  Sure, they can be fun and serve as a great way to get to know and meet other people, but they can quickly become a crutch replacing posts with real value.

Truth be told I seriously thought about pulling the plug on this whole blogging thing once and for all.  But then it happened!!  I was struck, out of the blue, with an idea and inspiration.  It was as if someone was standing right next to me saying, "write what you know!"

So, that's what I'm going to do.  I'm going to write about my life and the things I enjoy and I'll share it all with you, my readers.  We will talk about crafts, DIY projects, antiques, decorating, cooking, children, my faith and believes, family, the places I go, the things I do, the people I meet, and life.  I am on a quest here to learn, grow, and live in the moment and enjoy this faze of life to the fullest and I want to invite you to come along this journey with me.  I'm not sure exactly how things will take shape, but that's okay.  "So often we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to enjoy the journey."  Here's to trying to do just that.  Enjoying the ride!  



Saturday, August 12, 2017

Yummy Tuna Salad Croissants

Hi there!  It's that time again when all the kiddos are headed back to school and Mom's all have lunch on the brain.  I mean packing lunches for school, that is.  I'm embarrassed to say that I've never been super creative when it came to my kids' lunch boxes.  I think there was one year, maybe two, when my kids are the same thing every single day.  I wish I was kidding!  What can I say, it was just easier with my picky eaters and less stressful for everyone involved.  Now that my kids are older and they prefer their diets to be a little more, shall we say, diverse....I find that, with a little creativity, we can make some super delicious lunches with only minimal effort.  One of my favorite cold lunch options are Tuna Salad Croissants and I found a new recipe I want to try.  

Tuna is always such an easy option and tuna salad mixes up in minutes, which is just slightly longer than it takes to spread peanut butter and jelly, and it's chocked full of great nutrition too.  There's also a secret ingredient in this recipe that takes the flavor up a notch or two.

Tuna Salad Croissants

2 (5 oz.) pouches {or cans} of Bumble Bee® Premium Albacore or Light Tuna
1/2 C. seedless grapes, halved
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
2 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/2 C. french onion chip dip

croissants, lettuce, and sliced tomato for serving

In a mixing bowl combine tuna, grapes, celery, green onions, relish, celery salt, and french onion dip.  Stir to combine.  Serve on sliced croissants with lettuce and tomato, if desired.  

If I am packing this in lunch boxes, I usually put the tuna into a small container by itself and then the croissant and lettuce into a separate plastic bag so the sandwich can be assembled immediately before eating it to avoid it getting soggy.  You could also serve this tuna salad on crackers if croissants are not readily available.  (It's great for parties too.)  Serve it with a side of fruit and/or carrot sticks and you've got a pretty nutritious lunch.

Tuna hasn't always been my "go-to" lunch item.  I have flashbacks or nightmares of when I was in school (eons ago!) and everyone always knew when someone brought a tuna sandwich for lunch because you could smell it a mile away.  Thanks to huge strides in lunchbox technology, (is that really a thing??) that's no longer an issue and tuna is perfectly delightful as a lunch options today.

Do you have a favorite meal that you make with tuna?  Leave me a comment because I am always looking to branch out and try something new.  
 
Thanks for stopping by.  Talk to you again soon.

Friday, August 11, 2017

A cool website, Rambling Thoughts, and a Recipe

I feel absolutely terrible. The kids are better, except for an occasional cough here and there.  Now Kevin has it too.  (Not good). Thanks for all your kind comments and helpful tips for next time (heaven help us, please no!) this happens.  We've had so much going on around here but not much worthy of posting.  You all know I've been sick.  Like, sooooo sick.  I'm not even kidding, not even a little.  I've been in bed, asleep, coughing to the point of literally passing out, runny nose, running a fever for most of the past seven plus days.  Except when I've been to the doctor.  That's when the fever disappears every single time.  I think sitting and waiting in their nice cool waiting room before my appointments drops my internal temperature or something.

Remember this????

  I did feel well enough to sit on our front porch and watch the rain come pouring down the other night.  It was actually nice outside that evening.  But then I felt like crud yesterday and today.  So much that I couldn't take it anymore, and went out and tried a new Urgent Care first thing yesterday morning.  I found one that was awesome and is open from 7am to 10pm every day of the week and they treat you very well there.  In fact, they had no one in their waiting room when I got there, but when I was done they had several people there.  The other place never had anyone waiting and was always empty.  I'm starting to see why.  They are mean there.  I cannot say enough about how this Dignity Health facility treated me!  They were awesome!  I was given a new antibiotic called Levofloxacin (or at least, new to me) that will work on all my issues.  I have bronchitis and on top of that I have a bladder/kidney infection now too.  Arg!  But Mom's aren't really allowed to be sick, are we?  I've got so much to do. (Like get back to work!) I wish I could just pass on this whole sickness thing and get on with things, but it won't let me be.  

It's Sunday now and I'm feeling a little bit better than I did yesterday.  I'm hoping I will continue to improve and will be back to work by sometime this week.  I've got several appointments lined up.  My doctor wants me to see a Pulmonologist, but I can't get in to see them until the end of August.   I tried calling them twice to get a better date, they had nothing.  That's not gonna work.  I can't be out that long.  I've also got another appointment with my allergist and my yearly appointment with my cardiologist coming up soon too.  I'm covering all my basis, can u tell?

I did want to share something really cool with you today.  Something I personally just discovered myself to help with meal planning.  No, I don't get compensated to promote this site.  I just think this site is so great I'm just shouting it from the rooftops for free!  Okay.  I've said it before that I do really well planning and cooking meals at home when I have a plan, but I HATE making the plans and the accompanying grocery lists, and checking all the store sales because I'm on a budget.  It takes FOREVER!  

But then I found Food on the Table.  It's a meal planning website based on the stores you shop at.  You can sign up, in less than a minute, choose the exact stores you want to shop, and then they provide you with a bunch of recipes that can be made with the items on sale at your store.  Once you've selected your menu for the week, you can print out a shopping list and you're ready to go.  My family loved the chicken fajitas I made from the recipes on this site.  And it was so simple I could make it even though I didn't feel good!  It's an easy way to save a little money if you don't have time or the desire to use coupons.  I have to admit, I only use coupon if they are really good.  Most of the time I am faithful about using my Savings Catcher App from Walmart, but I'm told that only captures sale prices on the major competitors and not some of the smaller grocery store chains in our area.  Although, I've saved $413.25 so far this year just using that free app.  Anyway, this website won't save you tons of money like CouponSense (not a free site) or other similar sites will, but those sites don't help you with meal planning and grocery lists either.  It would be awesome to use Food on the Table, Savings Catcher, and CouponSense together.....you could save really big that way.  Food on the Table has a limited version you can use for free to plan up to three meals a week or there is an option to upgrade for unlimited use of the site.  When I signed up there was a promo code for free lifetime upgrade that looks like it is no longer working.  (I bet if you Google it you could find another great deal in the coming weeks.)

Anyway.....that's my little plug for my newest favorite thing.  I'm always on the lookout for new, budget-friendly recipes and this site really fits the bill.  

In other news......

* The other day Curtis had Lexi take a few photos of him quick like on our front porch.  They turned out so well I just had to share one of them.  I don't know why he doesn't smile though.  He has such a great smile too.  He looks so serious in this photo.


He looks really good, if I do say so myself, doesn't he?  And Lexi is becoming quite the little photographer too!  I can't get over it.  I also can't get over the fact that my babies ( I can't let them hear me refer to them as babies.  I'll never hear the end of it.) will be off to college in a couple weeks too.  

* Since Lexi is on a roll with taking everyone's picture I've decided to use some of the shots she takes to get some new photos of my kids.  I want to hang them in our family room eventually.  Like I mentioned before, I want a new family photo, but Kevin isn't up for it yet.  So, I'm making due with the last family photo we had taken just before Kyle left on his mission.  Yes, it's been that long.  I've got a whole bin full of picture frames I've been going through to find the right ones for my wall.  They've been sitting in a bin in my family room and now my living room for months.


I know, I could have a huge garage sale just with picture frames and these aren't even all that I have.  I have a few more stashed away in totes and some in a closet.  These are just the ones I've been mulling over recently.  I want to paint a few of them, but I'm not up for that just yet.  At this rate my kids will all be grandparents themselves if I don't get a move on.

So far I've decided on two photos and two frames.  Here's what I have so far.




These aren't my favorite photos but they will do for now.  Like I said, I have plans to get new ones taken as soon as possible.  This way they will include Chance too, since he's a part of our family.  Our family is growing and that's a good thing.

I found a yummy recipe I want to try sometime.  You know, once I'm better and won't get everyone sick.   


Oreo Cheesecake Cookies
Ingredients
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
10 Oreo cookies, broken into pieces

Directions


  • In the body of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed.
  • Add the sugar and beat well.
  • Add in flour, a small bit at a time, beating in on low speed, just until incorporated. Fold in oreos until evenly distributed.
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes, and up to 2 hours.
  • 30 minutes prior to baking, preheat oven to 350 degrees .
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Using a cookie scoop, scoop out 2 tablespoon sized balls of dough, roll them into rounds, and place them on the cookie sheet. Lightly press down on each cookie.
  • Place pan in the oven to bake for 10-11 minutes, or until just golden at the edges. They will still be very soft when you remove them from the oven - that's a good thing!
  • Cool on the baking sheet for 10 full minutes, then very carefully transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.


  • That's about all I have for you today.  Wish me luck at the doctor this week.  Hope you have a great week.  Take care and we'll talk again soon.  Life is good.  Even with being sick.  It's good.


    Thursday, August 10, 2017

    Sometimes....

    Sometimes you learn or hear of things you wish you could un-know.  Things happen to your friends or family that are so unspeakable that you find yourself at a loss for what to do, say, or even how to help.  You wish you could just wave a magic wand or twitch your nose and make everything right in the world again.  But you can't.  You try to find things that will take your mind off of it but that doesn't work.  So you take to your bed with its big, warm comforter and close your eyes for a while because from that vantage point you can almost kind of pretend that things aren't so rough on the outside.  That the truth is what you thought you knew before today.  That the people you love are happy and care-free.  And that we're all safe from the corruption and evil in the world.  Even though we're not.  And at some point you know you'll have no choice but to put your big-girl pants back on and face facts and realize that even though you have seemingly little to offer by way of help, you must try to offer something.  And be grateful for what you do have because you just can't take anything for granted.  

    And so.  Yeah.  That was today.   

    This is the kind of day that makes you realize that even though life has thrown you a few curve balls several times over, you still have so very much to be grateful for.  It's times like these that remind of of the things that are most important.  It is times like these that remind you that there is always someone else suffering and struggling with something much bigger than the struggles and trials you personally are facing.  It is times likes these that remind you to never take anything for granted and be grateful for everything you have and for everyone in your life.  It is times like these that remind me to whom I can always rely on for comfort, support, help, guidance, a listening ear, and most of all reassurance and forgiveness.  It is times likes these that make me most grateful for the blessings of the Atonement and the blessings that come through repentance.  I feel so very blessed to have a loving Heavenly Father who has provided me with a Savior to show me the way.

    There are times in your life when those who you look up to make mistakes and experience some very difficult things sometimes brought on by their own bad choices.  I have found that as those I admire and love work through some of the biggest trials of their lives, just trying to do the best they can, that you see the biggest examples of strength, faith, and an example of what is most important that will effect you for the rest of your life.  Sometimes seeing those around you handle their most difficult struggles become the biggest examples in your life.  I have witnessed this first hand and it has left a lasting impression on my life forever.  One I will certainly NEVER forget and will always remember the strength and determination of these individuals.  What a blessing it is to have these examples in my life.  It is by remembering this individuals determination and will to achieve their goal that has impressed upon me that I too can endure hard things, even though my trials have been completely different.  

    It is my hope that I can learn to endure my own trials in this life a little better and hopefully become an example to those around me of strength, determination, and to be remembered as someone who never gave up and keep trying even when things didn't work out the way you had hoped or planned.  I want to be an example to my children and be a source of strength, faith, and comfort in their lives.  I know I have some work to do and I need to try a little harder than I have in the past.  I need to strive a little more to be a littler better.  Life truly is a journey and even though life can be rough and tough sometimes, life is indeed very good.  

    Enough said.


    Take care and we'll talk again soon.

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