After School Snack...Pumpkin Chip Muffins

I have written before about how Flynn and I like to have a homemade snack once a week for our hungry school kids. This is an all time favorite of us all. I found the recipe at Taste of Home. Enjoy!

                   Pumpkin Chip Muffins

Ingredients: 4 eggs
                     2 cups sugar
                     1 15 oz. can pumpkin
                     1 1/2 cups oil
                     3 cups flour
                     2 teaspoons baking soda
                     1 teaspoon baking powder
                     1 teaspoon cinnamon
                     1 teaspoon salt
                     12 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
Directions:    Combine flour, baking soda,
                      baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
                      Set aside.
                      Beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and oil
                      until smooth. Gradually add flour
                      mixture and mix well. Fold in
                      chocolate chips. Fill muffin cups.
                      Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 18
                     ( I had to bake mine a bit longer.)
                      Cool in pan 10 minutes.
                      Makes 2 dozen muffins.

This Makes Me Happy...My Afternoon Coffee

I have been sitting down for my cup of hazelnut coffee every afternoon since Madison was a baby. I began setting aside that special little time for myself when she was old enough to take a regularly scheduled nap every afternoon. Even though it has been almost 16 years ago,  I remember covering her up in her crib and patting her back and tiptoeing out of her room and thinking of all the things I could accomplish while she was asleep... running the laundry, picking up the tv room, writing out bills...and then I remember, just as if it were yesterday, thinking... what if I took a break? What if I let all those things go for a few moments and relaxed with a cup of coffee? Wouldn't all those tasks still be there waiting for me? And wouldn't it be nice if I were rested and refreshed just like she was after her nap?

And after 16 years and 3 more sweet babies later, I have the same answer. Yes. I feel better when I take care of myself. I need a few moments in the day to take care of me. How can I be there for them if I am not caring for myself first? Now... thanks to my OCD mindset...this is not always an easy task. There are days when my mind races with things that could be done, but fortunately the thought of my steaming cup of coffee wins out. Sometimes I sit and look at magazines that I have saved up or read a chapter in my book, or even just look out the window and think. Simple, I know. My afternoon coffee makes me happy.

Weekend Plans

Our weekend starts out on Friday with beautiful weather. They are calling for sun and a high of 70. That is great because Madison is cheering at her final home football game this year. I really want to attend. The good mother in me is planning on it. The wimpy, old mommy who is in her jammies most nights now by 6:00, is not looking forward to sitting in the cold! So far, things look good!

Saturday morning, I visit with my father in what has become a special time I look forward to each week. Sitting and visiting with him in that setting allows more time to really talk without everyday distractions. Before I go, I am planning on putting a beef roast in the crock pot with some onions and carrots. The weather promises to become chilly and damp... perfect weather for a comforting meal of beef roast and mashed potatoes. We have Mass in the late afternoon, so after that it will be dinner and maybe some Halloween movies. I love Saturday nights with no plans!

Sunday is our pumpkin carving day! This is (yet another) one of our favorite fall traditions. In the early morning I am planning on starting a big pot of spaghetti sauce on the stove...ahhh my favorite! I don't make spaghetti and meatballs as much as my own mother did, or as much as my family would like, but when I do it is a great day! The Steelers play in the early afternoon, so after that we will carve our pumpkins! I always put on the same cd of not so spooky Halloween music and cover the kitchen floor with newspaper. Steve is our carver, while I am in charge of helping scoop out the yuck! The kids are older now, so with the exception of Flynn, they pretty much do it themselves. After we are all done, we turn out the lights and check them out before we set them outside for Halloween. Well, that is a peek at our weekend plans. Hope your weekend is happy and not too spooky, whatever your plans may be!

Madison brought home this beautiful watercolor she painted in art class this week.

Peyton made some yummy cupcakes for a special treat.

Flynn was excited to visit Grandma Flo last weekend.

Monkey Bread

There are countless recipes for this out there, and through the years I have tried many. But this is THE ONE. Period. I will never use another recipe for this. Ever. I got this recipe from my sister in law just a few years ago. She used canned cream cheese icing, and that is fine...but if you have a few extra minutes and some extra cream cheese sitting around, make it from scratch. You will be glad you did. I promise! Enjoy!

                          Monkey Bread

Ingredients:  1 stick butter
                      1 1/2 cups brown sugar
                      5 tablespoons cinnamon
                      2 loaves frozen bread dough
                      3 oz. cream cheese
                      2 cups powdered sugar
                      1 stick butter
                      1 tsp. vanilla
Directions:    Thaw 2 loaves frozen bread dough.
                      Melt butter. Mix brown sugar
                      and cinnamon together.
                      Roll bread dough into small
                      balls. Dip into butter, then
                      roll in cinnamon sugar mixture.
                      Place into greased bundt pan.
                      Pour any extra over top.
                      Let rise to top of pan. Bake at
                      350 degrees for 35 minutes.
                      Cool for 15 minutes.Turn onto plate.
                      Mix icing ingredients together
                      until smooth. Frost while still warm.


Weekly And Monthly Planning

One of the things I like to do to keep my family organized is make a weekly menu and activity schedule. Although it sounds complicated, it really just involves me, the school calendar, the sports calendar, Madison's work schedule (during the months she is working), my desk calendar, my recipe book, and some markers and stickers. Those last two are optional, by the way. Just the former teacher in me! : )

Every Thursday morning, I sit down with these items and make the schedule for the upcoming week. I simply write down the activities and appointments for each day and then, based on that, I plan the meal accordingly. If we are very busy on a certain night, I know to plan a simple supper. Once that is done, I make my grocery list for the week based on the meals we will be having. Then I am all set for my shopping trip on Friday morning.

Here is what this week's schedule/menu plan looks like. Fancy, I know.


Once I am all done with the activity list and menu, I put it in the basket on my desk until I hang it on the bulletin board in the kitchen Sunday night. The kids always enjoy seeing what is on the menu for the week! Every morning, I write the day's dinner menu on the chalk board in the kitchen. If I ever forget, they are sure to remind me!

Here is our bulletin board. It hangs behind the kitchen table.

And this is our chalkboard. It hangs behind the table too.

Here is the basket I keep on my desk in the kitchen.

I have a folder for each month, and I keep several things inside. I have a simple, handwritten list of things to do each month. For example, the October list has things like look for costumes, clean furnace filters, and wash Halloween clothing. I keep special recipes tucked inside as well. This is where I keep our candy corn pizza and pumpkin coffee cake recipes! These folders help me to remember all the fun food, activities, and plans that are specific to each month. They make my life much easier!  Well, that is a quick look at how I organize my weeks and months. Happy planning!

Here is a look at what I keep inside the folders.

Weekend Plans

Ahhhh... late October weekends...things are winding down and the wonderful chaos that is Thanksgiving and Christmas is still a turn or two of the calendar page away.  This time of year is our time to regroup, relax, and rest up for the excitement and activity ahead. Soccer is over, and it was fun. Madison is done with work at Dairy Queen, and she is glad. She does miss it, but is enjoying the slower pace of her days. Cheerleading is winding down with just a few games left. Unless we make the playoffs! Things slow down and we begin to come together and snuggle up in our country home. I love it. Our weekend reflects this new pace, and I am glad. Friday evening Madison has a" far away" game. Steve and Rhett are attending, and Madion is thankful. That way, she can ride home with them instead of on the bus! Peyton, Flynn and I will remain at home for a quiet evening in, which will probably involve a Max and Ruby marathon!

Saturday morning, Flynn and I will visit with my father at his  nursing home. He and his roommate love when she comes. I think it is seeing a younger person that just makes their day. After that, we are free. Steve is debating about giving the lawn one last trim before winter. I am planning on putting some chicken in the crockpot for dinner before mass. We are attending late mass this week because Rhett is serving. That is something he just loves to do!

Sunday is our first soccer free Sunday in quite some time. We are planning on visiting Steve's mother. She lives in a beautiful assisted living home in a nearby town, and we don't get to see her as often as we would like. After our visit , the kids have requested  a late lunch at Red Lobster. Sounds good to me! Then Sunday evening our Steelers are on. Peyton and I are thinking about making some monkey bread to enjoy while we watch the game. Well, friends...that is our weekend. I hope yours is restful and fun, whatever yours plans may be!

Another favorite fall scent...Autumn Wreath : )

Guess who is getting a manicure just in time for Halloween? Hint: not me

Found this at the store, and thought it would be perfect for Halloween morning since it falls on a school day this year.

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

If you are like me and have a soft spot for all things pumpkin, you will love this coffee cake. It is like combining two of my favorite things...good streusel coffee cake and pumpkin. It is perfect with a cup of tea or coffee on a cool, crisp autumn day. I originally found this on a website called nancysrecipes several years ago. Enjoy!

                      Ribbon of Pumpkin Coffee Cake

                           1(16 oz.) can pumpkin
                           1 egg
                           1/3 cup sugar
                           1 tsp. cinnamon
                           1/2 tsp ginger
                           1/2 tsp nutmeg
                           1/4 tsp allspice
                           1/4 tsp cloves
                           Streusel Topping                  
                            1 cup packed brown
                            2 tbsps flour
                            2 tsps cinnamon
                            1/3 cup butter diced
                            1/2 cup butter soft
                            3/4 cup sugar
                            1 tsp vanilla
                            3 eggs
                            2 cups flour
                            1 tsp baking powder
                            1 tsp baking soda
                            1 cup sour cream

Directions:          Combine all filling
                            and set aside.
                            Combine all streusel
                            topping ingredients,
                            except butter and mix
                            well. Then cut butter
                            into mixture until crumbly.
                            Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla.
                            Add eggs, one at a time,
                            and beat well. In separate
                            bowl, sift flour,
                            baking powder and baking
                            soda. Add flour mixture to
                            butter mixture alternately
                            with sour cream. Mix well.
                            Pour half cake batter into
                            greased  13x9 pan. Sprinkle
                            with half the streusel.
                            Spread all filling mixture
                            over streusel.
                            Top with remaining cake batter.
                            Sprinkle rest of streusel on top.
                            Bake at 325 degrees for 50

Fall Family Fun Day 2012

Last Monday the kids had off school, so we headed out for our annual Fall Family Fun Day at the park. This is another of our favorite traditions. We have been doing this since Madison was little and the kids always look forward to it. Most years we are blessed with beautiful weather. This year was no different, except it was quite chilly! Usually we eat our pizza at the park, but because it was only 50 degrees, we opted to eat at camp. This actually worked out well, because our camp has been recently remodeled, and is really quite nice and cozy. My mom even brought my dad up for our pizza party! After that we headed out over the mountain for a leaf ride. Steve takes me every year and tries to find the best spot for us to view the beautiful leaves! We ended up at the park and my sister and her husband met us there. The kids all had fun and played until their fingers were too cold! It was a beautiful day! Here are some pictures of our day!

Flynn loved "driving" at the park.

Peyton proving you are never to old to climb up a silde backwards!

Madison and Ryan had fun too!

Rhett always looks out for his Flynn. : )

Flynn Grace...almost 3 years old.

Ryan helped Rhett with the monkey bars.

Fall Family Fun Day Photo 2012

Weekend Plans

The weekend already? These weeks are flying right by! Our weekend is busy, but starts out quietly. Friday night we are free! No games, no practices, nothing! I have a nice dinner planned of enchiladas and corn. After that, we are planning a Halloweentown marathon. The kids love those movies!

Saturday I will visit with my father at the nursing home. He and his roommate always look forward to my visit. Either that or the good McDonalds coffee! On Saturday afternoon, we have another niece's wedding to attend. She is Flynn's Godmother and I am so excited and happy for her. After the wedding, we need to make a quick trip home because Madison has a game at 7:00. Depending on the weather, Flynn and I will either go or opt to stay home. I am leaning on staying home, but we will wait and see.

Sunday morning we will attend mass. We usually go Saturday afternoon, but this week we will be at the wedding, so Sunday morning it is! After mass, we will have just enough time to get home and grab a quick bite to eat before heading out to Rhett's soccer game. I am thinking about having a pumpkin coffee cake (that I can make Saturday night)  and cutting up some fresh fruit.  After the game, we will hopefully head home for some rest! I am putting some beef tips in the crockpot on Sunday morning for some Beef tips and gravy with steamed carrots for Sunday dinner and then it will be baths and showers and television time to end the weekend! Well, that is our little plan for the weekend. I hope yours is happy too, whatever your plans may be!

Flynn enjoying the beautiful autumn weather.

Good thing, because a few days later, I was getting the flannel sheets out! Brrr!

Rhett and Flynn in a sweet moment after dinner. (And Rhett does NOT wear those with shorts...those are his soccer socks!) : )

Our weekend sweet treat...our monthly cupcake delivery!

Flynn all ready for mass at Peyton's school. Me..."Flynn, thank you for getting ready so quickly!" Flynn..."My pleasure!" : )

Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes

This is one of my very favorite go to meals. I make it alot on Sunday evenings for dinner because it comes together very quickly, yet is still a real meal. It works best with fresh garden tomatoes, but is great with whatever you can find! I like to serve it with a salad and garlic bread. Enjoy!

                    Pasta With Fresh Tomatoes

Ingredients:  1 pound thin spaghetti
                     3 or 4 large tomatoes,quartered
                     olive oil
                     fresh garlic, minced
                     shredded Parmesan cheese
Directions:    Boil pasta until tender.
                     Meanwhile, cook garlic in olive oil
                     on low heat.
                     Add tomatoes and cook down.
                     Drain pasta and add to garlic
                     and tomatoes.
                     Sprinkle with parsley and
                     shredded cheese.

Pumpkin Patch 2012

We made our annual trip to our little pumpkin patch last weekend. The weather held off and although it was cool, it was the perfect afternoon for choosing perfect pumpkins. We have been doing this since Madison was little, and back in the day I had all my littles decked out in matching Halloween shirts and everything. Now...not so much. Now they are not quite so little, but I am thankful that they still want to come and still really enjoy it! I am also thankful that the older ones make sure that Flynn enjoys it as well. Here are some pictures of our pumpkin patch visit!

All ready to go...

                         Soo many choices!

And she found the perfect one, but it was a bit too heavy!

My Rhett loves this day! And I love that haircuts are scheduled! : )

Flynn was thrilled when the nice "pumpkin man" gave her a little one for her very own!

Flynn and my Peyton, her second Mommy! 

This is what happens when I ask Madison to hold the camera...: )

Steve does a great job with outside decorating!

This is where I sit and watch my littles play.

Happy October!

(Long) Weekend Plans

It is a three day weekend for us! Hooray! The kids have Monday off and they are excited. Our weekend starts with Madison traveling to an away game Friday night. Steve and Rhett usually attend the games, and Peyton, Flynn and I remain here at home. Madison needs to be back at school by 4:30 to leave for the game, so I think a super easy supper is in order on Friday. Like McDonald's drive thru easy. Busy nights call for desperate measures, I guess! I am also planning on making a special Halloween treat that the kids all love. It is called Spiderweb Munch and you can find the recipe here.

Saturday morning I will be having my weekly coffee visit with my father, and at the same time Rhett will be alter serving at a funeral mass. Father asked him if he would be interested in serving the funeral masses this year. Rhett does a wonderful job. He is very serious about it and I am thankful Father asked him to assist him in these special masses. Saturday afternoon is blissfully empty. I am seriously considering scheduling a nap! Or making my monthly trip to Walmart. Hmmmmm, tough call. : ) After mass on Saturday evening, I am planning Crock pot BBQ sandwiches. They are very easy and very good! Then it will probably be jammies, the television, and my ironing board!

Sunday Rhett has an away soccer match in the early afternoon. We all plan on attending and then getting pizza at this cute little place on the way home. They have the best pizza there! I am excited just thinking about it! Sunday night will be a quiet evening at home. Madison may have some friends over. They are a nice, fun group of girls, and I am happy they like to "hang out" here.

Monday is our annual Family Fun Day! Weather permitting, we plan on spending the day at a local State Park. We have been doing this since Madison was little and it has become a favorite family tradition. We keep it simple, just order a pizza and make cupcakes or brownies to take along. The kids play on the big playground and we always take a long walk. Then we take a ride through the mountain and look at the beautiful leaves. It is a fun, quiet family day that we have come to love. So that is what we have planned for this October weekend. Hope you have a wonderful weekend as well, whatever your plans may be!

Flynn and I at the wedding last weekend. Clearly she is more interested in her cookie than getting a picture with me.

How happy am I to have Little People back in my life again?

The beautiful autumn view from my side porch.

Some beautiful trees near Peyton's school.

And some more...Did I mention how much I love fall? : )

Potato Soup

This easy recipe is a family favorite. My sister-in-law made it for me when I had one of the babies. We have enjoyed it ever since. I hope you do too!

                            Potato Soup

Ingredients:   2 cans (14.5 oz.) chicken broth
                       1 can cream of chicken soup
                       1 can cream of celery soup
                       32 oz. pkg. frozen hash browns
                       8 oz. Velveeta cheese, cubed
                       (slices work best)
                       Onion flakes

Directions:     Combine all ingredients in
                       crockpot and cook on low
                       for 7 to 8 hours.

                    Told you it was easy! : )