Sunday, September 30, 2012

BOO!

Friday evening we decorated our country home for Halloween. In case you haven't guessed, I love Halloween! And so do my littles! It was dark and chilly and rainy...perfect weather for spooky and not so spooky fun. (Although not so perfect for Madison to cheer in...not to mention for Steve to sit in!) After the kids got home from school, we carried the Halloween tubs up from storage and got to work. Here are some pictures of our  Halloween decorating evening!



A favorite decoration. It hangs near my desk.


My newest favorite...a gift from my mother...I love it!


A little sign my sister got me. She knows me well!


The reading corner in the hearth room.


Our Halloween book basket.








Our very favorite Halloween book ever!


A little surprise I got for the kids...


Another Halloween gift from a sister. He sits next to our DVD bucket.


Some of our favorite movies...Halloweentown...so fun!



Some other favorites : )


After we finished decorating, we had candy corn pizza for dinner...


And Halloween brownies for dessert!


Flynn was excited about her pumpkin cup.


And that is how we dressed up our country home for Halloween.  Hope you all have a frightfully fun October! Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Weekend Plans

The last weekend of September is a " busy in a good way " one for our family. Friday night Madison has an away football game. Steve is going to attend so Peyton, Rhett , Flynn and I will be home to do one of our favorite things...decorate for Halloween! This has always been a special day for my kids, and I am sad that Madison won't be here, but she has assured me that it is ok!  I mean, she is almost 16... ugh...how did that happen? In any case, I am excited to bring up the Halloween tubs and watch the littles dig out all the books, dvds, cds, and toys that have become traditions in our home. Dinner will be Candy Corn Pizza. It is an easy, fun pizza recipe. You can find it here. I think I will also make some orange frosted brownies for dessert.

Saturday I will have my visit with my father. After that we have a wedding to attend. My sister's daughter is getting married and we are excited to share her special day with her and my whole family! I hope she has a beautiful, warm, autumn day. We usually attend Saturday late afternoon mass, but since we are going to be at the wedding, we plan on catching the later mass. After that, it will be home sweet home!

Sunday morning will be free for a big breakfast and time with the paper and coffee. I found some fun Halloween confetti pancake mix the kids are anxious to try. Madison has her last day of work for the season, and Rhett has a soccer game. I plan on picking Madison up and then swinging around to catch the 2nd half.  After the game, weather permitting, we are heading to the pumpkin patch! The pumpkin patch is yet another of my favorite traditions!! This year Flynn is old enough to understand, so we are all excited! Once we get home from getting our pumpkins, I plan on heading in to start supper while Steve and the kids decorate outdoors with the pumpkins and cornstalks. I am planning on goulash and Italian bread for dinner. It is a quick and easy but filling meal for Sunday dinner. Well, that is the plan for our weekend. Hope yours is happy, whatever your plans may be!

              Madison and Ryan Homecoming 2012

                          All ready to dance!

                             And they're off!

                 Stopping by to see Grandpa : )

   My afternoon coffee and Halloween treat this week!

Have you tried this yet? It is perfect with a cup of tea : )

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup

We had this delicious homemade chicken noodle soup last night. I know there are many different recipes for this out there. This is mine. This is the same recipe my mother used...the same soup I came home to on chilly fall afternoons. This is the same soup that my family ate as we gathered around my kitchen table all those years ago. I have tried other recipes, but keep coming back to this one. This is my mother's. And mother knows best. : ) Enjoy!
                        Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients:    Chicken thighs
                         Chicken bouillon cubes
                         Onion
                         Carrots
                         Celery
                         Pepper, minced onion
                         1/2 bag egg noodles
                         32 oz. chicken broth
Directions:        Par boil chicken in 6 cups water with
                         4 bouillon cubes and chopped onion.
                         Take skin off  and cut chicken into
                         small pieces. Put chopped carrots
                         and celery in crockpot. Add cut up
                         chicken, broth from the par boil,
                         pepper, minced onion, and 2 more 
                         bouillon cubes. Cook on high 3 to
                         4 hours, then low for 2 more. Add 
                         1/2 bag cooked egg noodles and
                         canned chicken broth. Cook for
                         1 more hour.



And a Happy Happy Belated Birthday to my dear Blogger friend, Cindy! Hope it was happy : )

Monday, September 24, 2012

This Makes Me Happy...My Girls

Madison, Peyton and I were visiting in Peyton's room last night just before bed. We were talking about school and friends and all that typical girl stuff when Madison said, "Peyton is my best friend, Mom." And then Peyton added, "Madison is mine." That moment was one of those very special mom moments. You know the ones...the moments you just thank God for, the ones you want to wrap tightly and store in that very special place in your heart. The moments that years from now you will pull out and remember and smile with tears in your eyes. I went to bed with a smile on my face last night. My two sweet girls are each other's best friend. What more could a mother ask for? My girls make me happy.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Weekend Plans...Homecoming 2012

The big weekend is here. Madison's that is. It is Homecoming and she is excited. As a sophomore, she is cheering her first Homecoming game and attending the dance as well. I, meanwhile, am trying to figure out how I am old enough to have a child cheering at a Homecoming game. Friday night is the game, and so far the weather looks beautiful. I plan on attending at least until halftime. By then I will be cold, and tired, and ready to head home with my littles and put my jammies on. Steve and Rhett usually stick out the entire game. He is such a good dad! Before the game, I plan on a quick dinner of chicken tacos. I can put the meat in the crock pot and fix all the toppings ahead of time, so that is a perfect choice for a busy Friday night.

Saturday is also looking busy. I will have just enough time in the morning to have my weekly coffee visit with my dad before the dance preparations begin. Madison is very good with hair and makeup, so she always does her own. She always does such a beautiful job! After pictures here, she and her boyfriend Ryan are going to his house for pictures then on to mass. Father always says a few words about all the students attending mass before the dance and it is always nice to see the kids all dressed up. After mass, they are going out to dinner then on to the dance. Steve and Rhett have a Hunting dinner to attend, so Peyton, Flynn and I are on our own for dinner. I think I will leave it up to them!

Sunday morning is free. I love having that time to fix a special breakfast and relax and read the paper with my coffee. Rhett and Steve have an away soccer game in the late afternoon. Madison has a long shift of work, so Peyton, Flynn and I will be on our own to cheer on our Steelers. Dinner on Sunday will be ziti and garlic bread. Perhaps Peyton will make a special fall dessert. Well, that's how we will be spending this autumn weekend. Hope yours is happy, whatever your plans may be. Thanks for visiting!




Flynn and Teddy all ready for the Steeler game last Sunday!


           So I may have gone overboard on the seasonal treats this year...told you I loved fall!  : )

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vegetable Beef Soup

This soup is one of our favorites, especially on rainy fall evenings. I know there are many variations of this out there, and I can't quite remember exactly where I found this one. I think it was in a Gooseberry Patch autumn cookbook, as most of my fall recipes are! In any case, it is an easy and comfy soup for a chilly, rainy night. We always have biscuits and fresh fruit with it too. Enjoy!


                    Vegetable Beef Soup

Ingredients:  1 lb. ground beef
                      1 1/2 cups water
                      14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes
                      2 14 1/2 oz. cans beef broth
                      10 oz. pkg. frozen mixed vegetables
                      1Tablespoon minced onion
                      1 cup elbow macaroni
Directions:     Brown the meat and drain. Place
                       all ingredients except macaroni
                       in a slow cooker. Cover
                       and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
                       Stir in uncooked macaroni a half hour
                       before serving.
                       Top with shredded Parmesan cheese.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Routine

If you have read my blog before, you may have realized that I am a bit of a scheduled person. Shocker, I know. I was an organized child, an organized teen, and now I am proud to say, an organized adult. Sometimes I wish that were not the case, but I can't stress over things I can't control. And I can't help the fact that I thrive on routine and schedule. That is just the way my brain works. My daughter Madison is quite the opposite. I often wish I could be more like her. Nothing bothers her and nothing rushes her...we say she lives in Madison World and runs on Madison Time! What a boring place the world would be if we were all alike. I think each person should embrace whatever works to create peace in his or her own mind and heart. For me, that is routine.

Through the years, my routine and schedule have changed many times based on how many children I had at home and how many ( or few! ) activities we had. Now I have a daily and weekly routine that works quite well for our whole family. And isn't that the goal of us mothers? : )

Lucky for me, I am an earlier riser. I get up and get showered and dressed before the rest of the house. I do get the girls up shortly after and then I head downstairs to start breakfast and say hello to my friend the Keurig Coffee Maker. Once everyone is fed and dressed and happy, they are off to school. Currently, Steve and Flynn take the kids to school. They actually make two trips each morning, because the girls need to be at school earlier than Rhett. As soon as they are on their way, I am up the stairs to start my day. You can read more about this here.

In addition to making beds, I also have certain things I try to do each day during this block of time. I give my self two hours every morning to accomplish these daily tasks. This works well because Flynn likes this morning time to snuggle on the couch and watch Nick Jr. Once she gets home from "school" with Steve, she makes herself comfy with her blankie and a cup of milk. She will play by herself and keep herself  busy doing her "work", just like me. She actually does enjoy some jobs, like dusting. For real... she loves to dust!

My current schedule looks like this:

Monday       vacuum upstairs, quick clean bathrooms, dust bedrooms, empty garbage
Tuesday       vacuum downstairs, quick clean kitchen and powder room, start soup in crockpot Wednesday  dust downstairs, go over bills and mail on my desk
Thursday      make weekly menu and activity chart for next week, make grocery list
Friday          grocery shop

You may notice I don't have laundry listed. That is because I do laundry every day. With six of us and  all of the school, work and play clothes, I find it necessary to do a few loads each day. Fortunately, I love doing laundry. That is a topic for a whole different post! Once all the morning tasks are done, Flynn and I are free to enjoy our day. We take our walk first and then play a bit. She isn't a big lunch eater, but I try to get her to eat some soup or waffles before her nap. Little Bear is on at noon( is he the best or what? ) and then we go up for her nap. She has been falling asleep fairly quickly, so I usually have an hour to rest and relax. I do this every day. I need this time to recharge for the second half of the day! Here is where the "afternoon coffee" part of my blog title comes in! I sit down and have a cup of coffee around 1:30 every day. It is just a quick chance for me to take care of me. I think it is very important for the one who cares for others to make sure to care for herself as well.

Around 2:00, we leave to pick up the kids. This part of the day varies greatly based on Madison's work and all the activity schedules. Once we are home, snacks and homework come next. I am usually getting dinner ready, so the kids do homework at the kitchen table. I try very hard to have dinner at 6:00 every night. I have tried other times, but this just works for us. I like to have us all sit down together as much as possible. And we do. On the nights Steve and Rhett have soccer practice, or Madison has work, we still eat at the regular time and I make up plates for them. That way, I can still serve a good meal and have the kitchen all cleaned up and organized at a decent time.

 After dinner we spend some time outside, as long as the weather cooperates. Then it's baths and jammies. As the days grow shorter and the darkness comes sooner, you may find me in my jammies at 5:00! Ahhh thinking of that just makes me smile. : )  Most nights we do watch some television together as a family. Then Steve puts Flynn to bed . This is a special time for them every night. The older kids and I actually go to bed at the same time. I try to be in bed by 10:00 most nights. It depends on which one of our regular shows is on. Priorities, right?  And that is my current routine. That is how we spend our days here in our country home. Thanks for hanging in there! Hope it didn't put YOU to sleep! : )


Flynn doing her work while I was cleaning. And yes, those are Halloween jammies. I just couldn't wait!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Weekend Plans

It's Friday! We made it to the weekend. Hooray! Tonight Madison has her first Friday night football game. She is so excited, and so am I. When I think of high school football, I think Friday nights. I remember when I was in high school, Fridays were the most exciting days ever! I was a majorette, and we wore our pep uniforms to school. Then my friends and I would all get together and get ready. I loved the excitement, the crisp fall air, the beautiful colors of the fall leaves, and the sounds of the band playing as we marched onto the field. After the game, my mom always made a pot of hot chocolate on the stove and my sisters and I would stay up and watch Night Tracks to see the newest music videos. Now I am really dating myself! In any case, Madison is excited about her first Friday game. Her first two varsity games were Saturday afternoon games. The first was soooo hot and last weekend it was cold and rainy. Friday promises to be a perfect fall Friday.

Saturday morning I plan on taking my father and his roommate McDonald's coffee and visiting with them. I always enjoy listening to the many stories of their lives. After that I have....NOTHING! Yes, that's right, nothing. I am so excited to have a Saturday free of commitment and plan to relax and enjoy. Peyton and I may make a date with the scrapbooking box. I am way behind. Like way behind. I do enjoy scrapbooking so very much. I just have a hard time finding a block of time to set aside to do it! At least I have all the photos for each child sorted in envelopes. We will see. I may just make myself at home on the couch with the kids and a good movie... : ) After mass, I plan on a simple dinner of homemade macaroni and cheese with fruit and bread and butter. I have a wonderful recipe my mother made up for the best macaroni and cheese. It calls for a small can of tomato sauce. That's what makes it so good!

Sunday is also light on activities. Madison has work and Steve and Rhett have an away soccer game. We usually attend all the games, but this one is quite far away and I need to be home to get Madison to work. So that means Peyton, Flynn and I will have a Sunday afternoon at home. I think I will make some pasta for dinner and catch up on some odds and ends around the house. The Steelers have a late afternoon game on Sunday, so dinner may be late! At least I will be awake for the whole game this week!

Well, that's all for now. I hope you all have a wonderful September weekend, whatever your plans may be. Thanks for stopping by. : )


Steve and Rhett all ready for last week's soccer game.
It was a close loss...3 to 2.


Flynn and I went a little crazy in the produce section  this morning.


And just so you don't think we are becoming way too healthy, we are very excited about our September cupcake delivery! Yum!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

After School Snacks

My kids are always hungry after school. I suppose most little ones are. After much consideration, my children usually choose a snack based on several different factors...first, how hungry are they? Second what's for dinner, and do they like it? Also, what time is after school practice or work. In other words, how much time do they have to actually sit down and eat? And lastly, what day of the week is it? The farther away from the Friday morning shopping trip it is, the less likely they will find anything they like at all! The usual choices for after school snacks are bananas or apples with peanut butter, yogurt, cereal, or granola bars. Once a week, however, Flynn and I like to surprise our school kids with a homemade treat. I remember how excited I was as a child, ok... even as a teenager, when I got home and smelled fresh baked cookies or cake! I knew my sweet mother had made something special for us.

One of our favorite things to bake is a simple pan of brownies. I use a regular boxed brownie mix to start. I usually add something like semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips, because one can never have too much of a good thing, right? This time, I went a little crazy and chopped up some peanut butter cups and stirred them in instead. They turned out really well. I have no secret for successful brownies using a box mix except I always add the extra egg. On the box it usually calls for 2 eggs but 3 if you want cake like brownies. I have found that adding the extra egg makes them less gooey and more formed. Does that make sense? Anyway, the kids love them after school and even for dessert in a brownie sundae. Enjoy!



Dust with a little powdered sugar too, because everything is better with powdered sugar, right?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Crib Love

I was changing bedsheets the other day, and as I was smoothing the sheets in Flynn's crib, it hit me. Hard. I wouldn't be changing sheets on this beautiful crib much longer. I realized that my baby is almost three. And while I have never had a hard and fast rule about when I take a baby out of a crib, my two older girls moved to a big bed around three years old. My Rhett stayed in his crib until he was almost three and a half. I remember thinking that he couldn't start school while he was in a crib. Even if it were only three year old preschool!

I don't know what made me think about Flynn moving to a big bed sometime soon. Maybe it is her third birthday looming ahead. (Even if it is over two months away...) Maybe it is the fact that Peyton is getting ready for a room redo, and Flynn will be sleeping in her room. We ordered new bedding and got matching pillows with each girl's initials on them. When I saw the one for Flynn's bed, I almost cried. Maybe it is because my Madison is almost sixteen!!! And I remember like it were yesterday Steve and I shopping for a crib for our firstborn baby.

In any case, I realized that this piece of furniture, this beautiful crib which has been a part of my life for almost sixteen years, will most likely no longer be needed. That bothers me. I can't explain exactly why except to say that our crib signifies the baby years to me. It in itself holds so many wonderful memories. I was never one to rush a baby out of a crib into a toddler bed. I love a baby in a crib. I love seeing a baby all snuggled safe and sound and protected. I love waking up and seeing a little face peeking out at me through the rails. I love hearing a baby calling me when nap time is over, and the smile on that baby's face when I come into the room. I love the sight of a baby's outstretched arms waiting to be picked up and snuggled.

I will miss this time of my life, which seems to have passed so quickly. I remember when Rhett moved into his big boy bed. I kept the crib up in his room as long as I could in hopes that it would be needed again. Even though we eventually took it down,  I wouldn't let Steve put in downstairs in the storage area. I kept it upstairs in the small attic space off our bedroom. I just couldn't part with it . And by the Grace of God, I did get to use that beautiful crib again for my baby Flynn. I can't believe it has been almost three years since that wonderful day when we set it up again, this time in our own bedroom.

Now as the clock ticks down on my" baby years ", I enjoy every moment of dusting and changing sheets in that crib. I stand beside it while Flynn is sleeping. I run my hand over the teeth marks that my Madison made while she was teething all those years ago. I see Peyton giggling as I pretended not to be able to find her when she played hide and seek with me. I remember sooo many nights of reaching under the bed skirt of the crib to find Rhett's binky in the dark because he somehow managed to fit it through the slats. And I am sad at the thought of it all coming to an end. But I am also grateful that I had this beautiful crib in my home all these years. And who knows, maybe someday it will be used again. Although, at almost forty three years of age and with four c sections behind me, that seems unlikely. But as my sweet husband recently pointed out to me, our grandchildren will have a wonderful crib filled with many sweet memories waiting for them right here someday.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Weekend Plans

The weekend is here already! Ours is a busy one, but one filled with lots of family and fun. Friday night, Steve and Rhett are heading to camp for a quick sleepover and work session. The girls and I are staying home and having our own sleepover with my sister and my mom. We always have alot of fun during these girls nights!

Saturday has us going in different directions during the day. Madison cheers at an away game during the afternoon. Steve and Rhett are planning on attending. I am going to enjoy my weekly coffee visit with my dad in the morning. After that, I will be helping Peyton prepare for my sweet husband's birthday! Yes, Saturday is Steve's special day. He asked Peyton to make his favorite cake, and she is more than excited. He requested a simple Texas sheet cake. Peyton puts a thin layer peanut butter on top of the cake under the chocolate icing. We are all about chocolate peanut butter here!

We usually attend late afternoon mass on the weekend, but Rhett is serving the late mass Saturday night. We are so excited that he is serving on his dad's birthday! For dinner before mass, I am having a simple supper of sloppy joes, cheesy potatoes, and the last of our zucchini.  After mass we are having a small cake and ice cream party for Steve. My mom and sister and her husband are joining us.

Sunday is Rhett's first soccer game of the season. Steve is his coach, and they are excited! The game is in the afternoon, so we have Sunday morning free to relax.  I am thinking about making some homemade pumpkin spice waffles with fresh fruit for brunch. After the soccer game we plan on a simple supper, baths and jammies and then...our beloved Steelers are back! Yes, they have a night game on Sunday. I love night games because everyone is home and settled and we can just relax and  enjoy. I don't love night games because I am usually asleep by halftime. : ) Well, thanks for stopping by.  I hope you all have a fun family weekend yourselves, whatever your plans may be!








Happy Birthday to the best husband and father I know!



And one more...Flynn's favorite toy this week! She hasn't let go of it!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Welcome Fall


Welcome fall. How I've missed you! Come inside and stay awhile!

We decorated our home for fall on Tuesday. Yes, the day after Labor Day. Every year I find it harder and harder to wait! First we gave the house a good dusting. I know it seems strange, but I like to do that before I put up seasonal decorations. Flynn loves to dust! Really. And she does a good job, too! After we dusted, we brought up the autumn totes from the storage area and got busy. I leave these decorations up until the end of November. At the beginning of October I add in the Halloween decorations, and then in early November I change the Halloween things out for Thanksgiving ones.

I'd like to give you a little tour of our country home all decked out for fall. Before I do, however, I would like to apologize for the picture quality. A photographer I am not. For those of you who are, thanks for sticking with me!



This is the table in our mudroom. The bowls are for keys . And the basket holds Kirby's leashes.


Here is our fall candy dish. It sits on the kitchen table. I don't keep a candy dish out all year, but there is something about those cute fall wrappers! They get me every time!



Oh...Spiced Pumpkin Candle...how we've missed you!!!!



This is the fall mantle. 2005 was the year we built our home.



This is our hearth room. It is also the view from my kitchen sink! This room gets used sooo much. Steve reads the paper in here, the girls like to study here, and I eat my cereal here every morning.



Can't forget the dining room table. (Even though it rarely gets used...)



And our front porch. Can't wait to sit and see those beautiful fall leaves!

Thanks for visiting! Have a wonderful fall!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fall Harvest Cake

September is here! And in honor of this wonderful month I am sharing one of our very favorite fall recipes. This cake will make your house smell sooo good, I promise! This recipe is adapted from one I found in a Gooseberry Patch cookbook. Enjoy!

                     Fall Harvest Cake

Ingredients: 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
                     1/2 cup brown sugar
                     2 tsp. baking soda
                     1/2 tsp. salt
                     2 tsp. cinnamon
                     1/4 tsp. nutmeg
                     1/4 tsp. ground ginger
                     1 cup Crisco oil
                     1/2 tsp. vanilla
                     4 eggs
                     2 cups flour
                     1 can pumpkin, 15 oz.
                     1 apple, cored, peeled, and chopped
 Directions:  Combine sugar, brown sugar,
                     baking soda, salt, and spices.
                     Mix well. Stir in oil, vanilla and eggs.
                     Add flour, a little at a time beating
                     after each addition.
                     Mix in pumpkin. Stir in apple.
                     Pour into greased and floured
                     Bundt pan.
                     Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
                     Let cool. Spread with icing.
                     (recipe below).
                     Keep refrigerated.  

                      Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients: 3 oz. cream cheese
                     2 cups powdered sugar
                     1 stick butter
                     1 tsp. vanilla
Directions:   Mix all ingredients together. Beat until
                     creamy.