Friday, November 30, 2012

At least it's Friday

5:15 am - I am awakened by the sound of the kids bedroom door slamming.

Ugh. Silas is awake. (He's the only one that slams the door and he only does it when he wakes up during the night. Go figure)

From the hallway he starts yelling "Mommy, where are you?" I'm here... in my bed. Like normal people.

I call out to him several times but he's not listening. I realize that Graham is still in bed beside me. It must be real early. I get out of bed to retrieve the boy.

I set him on my bed and pick up my cell phone.


"Uh, Graham... it's almost 5:30." He should have been headed to work already.

I guess that's what happens when you come home from work & nap on the couch all evening and then wake up after the kids are in bed and get on the computer till 11:30.

Graham hopped up and started getting ready to go. Silas fell back asleep on Graham's pillow.

And now I am wide awake.

I lay there for a bit trying desperately to find that oh-so-sweet sleep, but no. It doesn't come.

So I get up and grabbing a mug of hot cocoa I make my way to the living room.

It's 6:15.


Thursday, November 01, 2012

I know it's a little early...

 ...for Christmas cards. But, I've been thinking about it a bit lately. For the first time in about 3 years my family will be having pictures taken (other than the one for the church directory). And just in time for holiday cards. I came across two good deals from VistaPrint and I thought I'd pass them along.

Use this address :
Get 4x8 cards:
30 for $5.00
40 for $9.99
50 for $14.99

or if you don't need too many cards

Use this address:
Get 4x8 cards:
10 for $1.99
20 for $1.99

These prices do not include shipping. You will also find some good deals on coordinating gift tags as well as customizable ornaments & stockings.

And now, I'm expecting holiday cards from all of you :) 

Photo credit:


Thursday, April 26, 2012

{Pinterest Project} Menu Board

So I've developed quite the addiction to Pinterest lately and my boards are quickly filling up with all kinds of ideas and projects I'd like to do. For my birthday a few weeks ago some sweet friends gave me a Michael's gift card and I saw the perfect opportunity to indulge in a little "Mommy time" and do something fun for the house. I had been eyeballing a few uber cute menu boards. 
 One is made by a girl who sells kits to make your own for $32 or you can purchase them out of a shop local to her. The other one is from an Etsy shop where they sell for $34 and up. Super cute but a little more than I wanted to spend. So this is what I did:


  • One Metal sign - this was on clearance at Michael's for $4. It was 12x12 but you can use any size. They also have some at Hobby Lobby & Half-Price books. I have no idea where you can get blank ones but I know you can. I figured I was going to cover it anyway so it didn't really matter what it looked like.
  • 6 sheets of scrapbook paper 12x12 - I'll use leftovers on another project in the works
  • a package of bottle caps
  • super duty magnets - got these at Wal-mart
  • 1in. clear round epoxy stickers (they were right next to the bottle caps)
I also purchased a plain white notepad but in the end I didn't have enough room so I had to nix it.

Here's a closer view of the bottle caps, magnets, & epoxy stickers - sorry it's blurry

 I decided to use the adhesives I already had on hand, Mod Podge and some wrinkle-free clear Elmers glue.

Using a foam brush I applied the Mod Podge to the metal sign a little at  a time and carefully added my base scrapbook paper, making sure to line up the edges.

I picked this paper and couldn't have been more thrilled... it's color scheme has given me a vision for the rest of my home's decor. :)

I decorated my sign like a regular scrapbook page. You can go all out with lots of embellishments or keep it simple. I downloaded a fun font from and printed out the word "Menu". I cut out around it mimicking the design on my paper. Then using a brown ink pad and cotton ball I shaded the edges to give it a little more character.

 So this is what my board looks like so far:

Next I made the meal option tags. I used the same font to make a list of meals we eat regularly and printed it out on the scrapbook paper. I cut them into uniform sized tags. I included tags for things like eating out and family meals at Grandy's house.

Then I added the pocket to hold the meal tags. I made my own and this was probably the most difficult step. I would suggest wrapping an empty crayon box or using a cute library card holder, even a matchbox. I made a pattern and folded the paper so that it had tabs on the back to glue to the board. I didn't even take pictures of this step... just trust me... wrap something.

Be careful with the placement of your pocket. Make sure there is plenty of room at the top when your tags are in there so that the word "Menu" isn't covered up. This is when I discovered I wouldn't have enough room for the notepad :(.

Finally, I made the magnets for each day of the week. I printed each initial out on some of the scrapbook paper spacing them so I could cut each one out in a 1 inch circle. After I cut each one out I glued it inside of a bottle cap and placed an epoxy sticker on top giving it a finished look.

Then I glued the magnet on the back. I used the wrinkle-free glue for this ad it took overnight to dry. My magnets were fairly strong so I had to make sure and keep them far apart from each other while drying. 

Once they were dry I placed them on the board and added the tags. I used some of the scraps to make blank tags for meal ideas I'll write in later. This sign has hooks on the back for nails and I may tie some ribbon to it and hang on a heavy-duty magnetic hook or I have some strong 3x3 square magnets I can attach to the back to stick it to the fridge.

I'm really pleased with the way it turned out and it only took an afternoon (plus drying time for the magnets). For less than $20 I have a cute addition to my kitchen and a place to direct all those asking "What's for dinner?" :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Kids Eat Free

We eat out A LOT. Way more than we should and probably more than most families, especially with lots of kids. We are trying to eat at home more and because of the current stages of our littles we find that take-out is a better option...for now. But when we do eat out it's always great to have a deal. Helps make things a little more affordable.

All of these are found in the DFW area.  Unless specifically mentioned by location remember that participation may vary so call your location before visiting, and deals are changing all the time. In most cases a kids meal refers to a child 12 and under unless noted.  If you know of any that should be added to the list let me know…. I always love a free meal :)

Applebees -  Monday or Tuesday Nights (varies by location) -1 free kids meal per adult - additional kids are only $1.00.

Black Eyed Pea - Tuesday - 5 pm till close- 1 free kids meal with the purchase of an adult meal

Blue Mesa Grill - Sunday     9am-3pm - Free kids brunch  (6 and under) with purchase of adult brunch

Boston's The Gourmet Pizza - Tuesday, all day -  Kids eat free with adult entree purchase

Buffalo Wild Wings - Wednesday  - Dine-in only - .99 kids meals with adult meal purchase

Cafe Brazil - West Berry Street - Sunday thru Thursday, 5pm-10pm - 1 free kids meal per adult meal purchase. 

Cici’s Pizza – Kids 3 and under eat free 7 days a week.

Cowtown Diner - Mon- Thurs 5pm-close - 1 free kids meal per adult entree purchase. 5pm-close

Denny's - South Freeway (Hulen) - Tuesday & Saturday 4-10pm - Up to 2 free kids (10 and under) entrees from kids menu per 1 regularly priced adult entree purchase

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit – Sundays - 1 free kids meal w/ purchase of adult meal

Firehouse Subs – Wednesdays & Sundays - Kids 12 and under eat free from 4-9pm - 1 per purchase of medium adult combo

Fuddruckers – (not free but cheap) 12 and under can eat for .99 (drink is included) from 4-9pm on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Garden's Restaurant (in the Ft. Worth Botanic Garden) - Sunday 11am-2:30pm - Free kids (8 & under) buffet with adult brunch

Golden Corral – Kids eat free on Tuesday Nights.

Habanero's Fresh Mex - Basswood Blvd - Sunday, All day  - Free kids meal with adult entrée purchase  

IHOP – Kids eat free everyday during certain promotions. They usually have some kind of signage in the window.

Luby's Cafeteria  - Wednesday - 1 free kids meal per adult entree purchase. After 4:30pm.

Phil's Philly Grill (Hulen Mall) - Tuesday, all day - Buy any large Philly Combo and get a Kids Meal for free    

Pizza Hut – Kids eat free on Tuesday Evenings

Pizzaria UNOs - kids eat free Tuesdays. 1 free kids meal per purchase of adult meal.

Qdoba Mexican Grill – Kids eat free at Wednesdays (some locations) and Sundays (some locations) .

Simply Fondue - Sundance Square - Sunday, all day - Free kid's fondue with adult fondue purchase

Souper! Salad! – Kids 4 and under at free and kids 5-12 eat for $2.49 on  Sunday.

Steak n’ Shake – Saturday & Sunday, all day - Kids can eat free (12 & under) with a purchase of an adult entree valued at $8 or more.

Sweet Tomatoes-Kids under 2 eat free

Texas Roadhouse – Mondays or Tuesdays (check your location) kids 12 and under eat free.

Texas Land & Cattle – Kids 12 and under eat free on Saturdays from 11am – 4pm. 2 free kid’s meals for each adult entree.

Tres Jose’s - Sunday - 1 free kids meal with the purchase of an adult meal

For deals in other areas check out: . They also have an app for Apple & Android devices which would be great for when you’re traveling or just out and about and need to eat :). One of our favorites from the list is Tres Jose’s but I can‘t wait to add Café Brazil and Qdoba to the rotation!

We've also found some great deals on Sometimes they, or deal sites like Groupon, will run a special where you can get a $25 gift certificate for only $2-$3. Last time I did this I purchased a $25 gc for $2 and at checkout they offered an additional $50 gift certificate for only $5 more. So for $7 I got $75 in gift certificates. Now, most of these are amounts off of a purchase. For example, I got 2 Yucatan Taco Stand gc where we will get $25 off a purchase of $40. We love this place and would eat there anyway and with our large crowd it not hard to spend $40 especially if everyone gets a beverage. So essentially $15 for a $40 meal. Not bad in my book.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Food Journey

A friend recently commented to me that we were on similar 'food journeys'. I like that term because that's exactly what it feels like, a journey. The more I learn the more I want to change what we do. Some times we travel down one path and realize it's not the right path for us. So we travel down another. I always liked the idea that you 'eat to live', not 'live to eat' but I'm such a foodie it's really hard to make that statement true for myself. Until now.

I'm so thankful to be surrounded by Godly women who encourage me and also speak the Truth in love. During our ladies bible study last week one sweet friend did just that. She probably didn't even know she was doing it. Just in the course of our conversation about vaccines she said some things that convicted me about my ambitious food endeavors.

The gist was this: What is the MOST important thing? We can aggressively pursue knowledge on any given subject, (vaccines, nutrition, educational theories) but in the end what is the most important? Pastor Dan reminded us recently that we ARE to be responsible but that doesn't mean we can't take calculated risks, especially for the Gospel's sake.

How does food fit into this? Well, I've been spending a LOT of time trying to figure out what to feed my family. This thing causes cancer, that thing makes you fat, this thing tastes like cardboard. Instead of focusing my energy on trying to find out "What's the VERY best?" I should be focusing on the eternal best for my family. And I'm pretty certain I've been failing miserable in this, especially in the last 6 months.

I've been walking through some trials and my response has been to distract myself with 'projects' like couponing and diets when what I needed to be doing was bathing myself in the Word. Ouch. 

Where do we go from here? While all of the different things I've read tend to disagree about many things there are a few they do agree on and they seem a little common sense. 1.Sugar, in any form, is not good for you, so limit your intake and 2. Veggies ARE good for you, so eat lots of those. And for everything else: Moderation. God created taste buds and food with flavor for us to enjoy, but not idolize.So these should be my standards, not "Is it vegan, or paleo, organic or grass-fed?" or whatever. God has been so gracious in His provisions for my family and instead of thanking Him, I'm too busy trying to nit-pic every bite.

So, What is the MOST important thing? Pursue God, not {food} (insert anything that's not God). And set that example for my children. It's a hard lesson learned, and one I'll probably need to relearn for the rest of my days on Earth.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

{Simple Supper} Pasta Piccata

With all of the energy I spend trying to figure out "What's for Dinner?" I often find myself beat down. I don't want to think about it, I don't want to stand in the kitchen for an hour, I don't want to clean up afterwards. Which is probably why we eat out more than we should. Some times I get busy with my day and realize it's time for dinner and I don't have anything in the works. That's when these little gems have come in handy... A Simple Supper.

This one is my own {lazy} adaptation of a Rachael Ray recipe and these are all things I have on hand regularly. I don't have to think to much about it or spend lots of time chopping or measuring. And my taste buds and tummy love me for it.

Pasta Piccata

What you need:
  • a box (approx. 16 oz depending on your crowd) of any pasta. I like penne.
  • some olive oil or butter
  • a lemon - or 2 depending on your taste
  • some capers
  • chicken stock or white wine if you like (optional)
What you do:

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Now you can either do one of two things, 

  1. Toss the pasta in olive oil, squeeze the lemon juice over pasta, spoon in some capers, & toss, OR 
  2.  in a small sauce pan melt a little butter or olive oil, squeeze in lemon juice and add a little chicken stock or white wine and let it heat through. You don't want the pasta to be soupy so it doesn't take much liquid. When it's hot stir in a spoonful or two (we like capers so we use at least half a jar) of capers and then pour over the pasta. Toss.
 If you have some leftover grilled chicken, throw that in. If you like parmesan cheese, put some of that on it. Whatever you like. Then enjoy a big bowlful... or 2.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Christmas dinner - I know.... I'm a little behind

We love family gatherings. If there is a birthday, graduation, hair cut to be celebrated we'll do it. Well, maybe not the hair cuts but you get the point. My mom almost always hosts these and having to constantly plan and prepare can get overwhelming. So we decided that in order to lighten the load we would simplify and get together once a month and celebrate all the birthdays/holidays for that month. We would also take turns planning/hosting. My sister Cathy asked to host our Adult Christmas dinner at her house.

She went above and beyond to host a very memorable meal. Every detail was well thought out and executed to a T. I wish I would have taken more pictures to share. Her house was decorated beautifully with another Pinterest project around every corner. It was gorgeous. The meal, even though we were celebrating her birthday, was filled with dishes she knew would be favorites for the rest of us. A cheese tray with like 6 different types of cheese, yummy salad & sides, and a steak that my brother-in-law seasoned and cooked to perfection, so many special touches.

But my favorite part was in the dining room...

At first it looked simple. A photo tree on the wall. But upon closer inspection we saw photos of cherished memories...


My Wedding, My Dad's promotion, our beloved dog Berkley, the group at the Coney Island hot dog joint after my Grandfather's funeral, past Christmas gatherings, my Grandma, and so many more.

The photo tree included this photo, one of my absolute favorites, that my Dad recently took of a chair in my grandparents kitchen where my Grandfather would set his jacket and hat. It's been left untouched just as he placed them the very last time he wore them. And he was magnificent :)

Cathy spent hours gathering and printing photos and then sharing them in this special way with the rest of us. Her desire was for us to enjoy and celebrate the things most precious to her.... the family. I was blessed and she did an amazing job. 

Thank you Cathy for making another cherished memory!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Town Talk

Now I'm what you might call 'particular' about food. I can be weird about texture, or if I have the memory associated with a particular food it affect me tremendously. I remember 12 years ago a guy told me about the FDA guidelines concerning insect parts in cereal. I didn't eat the drop of cereal for almost 8 years after that. And thanks to Food, Inc I haven't set foot inside a McDonald's for over a year and a half.

I am also weird about sell by dates and brand names I've never heard of. So when I first learned about Town Talk I was extremely skeptical that it would be a place for me.

A while back my mother-in-law asked me if I would meet her there so she could take some of my kiddos for the day. It's a good halfway point between my house and hers. So I wandered inside and meandered through the aisles. It definitely has a warehouse kind of feel with it's cement floors and industrial shelves. It's not the bright inviting Central Market experience. But I was a little surprised at some of the things I found inside. Yes, there were the obscure brands I'd never heard of and the strange items that appeared to be a failed 'new product' attempt, but there were also some items and brands I recognized. And not only were they things I recognized but some of them were actually really good items, some even the pricey stuff I'd previously purchased at Whole Foods or Central Market. Now granted, some of the frozen foods were past date, some WAY past and some of the dairy items were very close to their date, but I was intrigued. I purchased an item or two and decided I wasn't ready to completely discount this establishment yet.

I'd been back a time or two to meet her again and each time I've found an item or let the kids pick out a snack but that's been about it. While having a playdate at my friend Stephanie's a few weeks back she had some Hummus from Town Talk that was really good. So last week I decided to go there first before hitting up the regular supermarket to see what I might find. Boy, am I glad I did. I took my time and looked through EVERYTHING. My objective going in was to find some inexpensive munchies for the kids. They have been going through snacks like crazy lately and I found a lot of good deals. The end result was 2 bags FULL of good, quality, in date stuff for only $20. What did I find? Some of items I know off hand have the regular retail price in ( ).

  • a bag of Frontera (Rick Bayless) tortilla Chips   79¢ ($3.50)
  • a bag of Boulder Canyon potato chips   59¢  ($1 is a good sale price)
  • a box of Uncle Sam cereal   $1.59  (around $3)
  • a qt of Oregon Chai Vegan Tea Latte mix   59¢ ($4 a box)
  • 2 boxes of Cheez-its (I know, not healthy)   $1.50 each ($2.50 @ Walmart)
  • 2 bags of elderberry & zinc lozenges   99¢ each
  • Pure vanilla extract   $2.50
  • A bag of Stacy's pita chips 59¢
  • 2 boxes of Annie's white cheddar Mac-n-cheese $1 each ($2 something @ WF)
  • 4 boxes of Near East Roasted Garlic & Olive Oil Couscous 79¢ each ($1.50 @ Walmart)
  • a box of Back to Nature fudge rounds $1.59
  • a bottle of Bragg's (the ACV people) organic Hawaiian Marinade & Dressing $1.59 
I know I'm missing a few items and I wrote down a list that has mysteriously disappeared but you get the idea. As I was checking out they were starting to shelve some Muir Glen organic canned diced tomatoes for 79¢. That's a good price! Everything I purchased was half-price or better. Who could argue with that. And then of course I turned around and spent $40 bucks on two bags not nearly as full at the regular grocery store.
Town Talk's inventory changes daily so you never know what you're going to find but I'm definitely adding this stop to my regular grocery rotation. If you haven't already then you should check it out. 
Town Talk Foods
121 North Beach Street  
Fort Worth, TX 76111-7054

Saturday, January 07, 2012

12 Days of Holiday Recipes - How the Wheels Fell Off

I don't know what I was thinking. Lately every plan I've made has fallen apart. I think it's just the season of life I'm in. Our days got super busy, the baby became super needy, and lots of things succumbed to neglect. I had purposed to make some goodie baskets for our neighbors and then some for my kiddos to give to my siblings for Christmas. I figured the best way to attack this was to just do it all on one day. One LONG, stressful, messy day, and then it would be done. I should have known better.

My first clue should have been when I turned on the oven to preheat. After a few minutes I smelled a horribly familiar smell and opened the door to find this:

When my brother was little he used to stick all kinds of things in the oven too, like my Dad's tape measure. So while this was a frustrating start, the memory of childhood made me smile.... and we trudged forward.

See... everyone was so happy... er...uh...well, almost everyone. See Black-Eyed Bart there? It was nap time. Shortly after I took this he went down and things went much smoother. 

We used some of this....

And some of this....

to make our goodies. 
The girls helped make some dark chocolate and peppermint cake balls and some peanut butter thumb print cookies for the baskets.

We also made a batch of butterscotch goodness to take to Grandy's house for our celebration with them.
I love Izzie's face here. Totally captures her little goof-ball personality.
I had mixed up the hot chocolate mix a few days before so we bagged everything up in cute holiday sacks. And while we were baking away we enjoyed a wonderful holiday fragrance filling the air from this... A simmer pot recipe I got on Pinterest. My mom made it a few days before and it made her house smell so welcoming for our church's Mother/Daughter Christmas Party. So simple, it was just an orange, quartered, a few sticks of cinnamon, a few whole cloves, and a good handful of cranberries. Cover it with water and simmer on low making sure not to burst the berries. You can leave this on your stove for a week or two. Seriously. Just add a little water to it occasionally. You'll know when it's time to throw it out because everything starts to look extra mushy and turns the same brownish/gray color. It smells AMAZING! In fact, I have a few cranberries left in the fridge so I picked up an orange at the store to make one last batch of this. 

So I didn't complete the full 12 days. I'm not going to sweat it. Heck, I just took my Christmas decorations down today.... almost 2 weeks later. I'm not going to lose sleep over it. Memories were made and lessons were learned (i.e. check the oven before turning it on). Maybe we'll try again next year. :)