Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Taste of the deep South

I decided to be a little daring and try this new recipe! I'm not a huge crawfish fan, but this is easy and so tastey...Adam loves spicey Cajun foods, and he really enjoyed this one, so if you're looking for a new dish, give this one a try!

Here's most of what you'll need:
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1/2 C butter divided
1/2 C chopped onions
1 chopped bell pepper
1 C chopped celery
1 lb. crawfish tails
2 C cooked rice
salt and pepper to taste
3 TBS minced garlic
1/2 C green onion tops chopped
2 TBS chopped parsley
1 Can cream of mushroom soup
1 small can of mushrooms
3 slices of moistened bread
1/2 C water
bread crumbs
Paprika

Saute onions, pepper, celery and garlic in butter for about 10 minutes.
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Add onion tops, parsley, mushrooms, mushroom soup and tails. Let cook until it slowly boils.
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Add rice, bread, water, salt and pepper. Cook 15 minutes. Pour into casserole dish. Sprinkle with 1/4 C melted butter then sprinkle bread crumbs and paprika. Cover and bake at 375 for 35 minutes. Serves 6
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Ta-Dah! Here's a toast to New Orleans...fried okra and all! It was yummy and the kids ate it too...it wasn't spicey hot, but it was full of flavor!
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Family Bike Ride

Today was a great day to be outside, so we decided to pack up all the peeps and load up not one but TWO SUV's with all the equipment and head out for an adventure! I know it sounds crazy, but we couldn't get it all in the suburban, we may need to get a bike rack that fits into the trailer hitch...seriously, when you have an adult size bike, a bike trailer for Lawson to ride in, a kids size bike for Peyton, a stroller for the baby, along with all your little friends...you begin to run out of room!

We went to a lovely part of Birmingham called Homewood, its very quaint and has a great walking/biking trail that's nice and wide and mostly flat, which is a plus! Peyton had a blast getting to ride "very fast"...he has gained a lot of confidence recently and is enjoying the freedom he has when he's riding! Lawson loved just cruisin' in the trailer, snacking on wheat thins and sipping on juice...what a life! Adam and I switched off pushing the stroller and riding the bike...we really did have a fun time just getting out and enjoying the day before it got too brutally hot!

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Picnik collage

Friday, May 20, 2011

We went strawberry picking!

Today was a lot of fun and something I've personally never done before! I took the kids and went with some friends from our playgroup to Marsh Farms to pick home-grown strawberries! It was quite a little trek out there (45 minutes in the car one way...thankfully we had the DVD player to keep us all content!)

Apparently strawberries are available all year long, but when you visit one of the pick-your-own farms north of Birmingham in the spring and pick a gallon of the fresh beauties from the ground in which they grow, the flavor - and enjoyment - reaches new heights! When you sit down to snack on a few of the brilliant berries, you appreciate what God has created. You also take a little pride knowing that you actually picked and brought home a terrific treat to enjoy, whether it's just for eating out of your hand, or enjoying in a luscious strawberry shortcake! For novice pickers, like myself, I must say, it's easily done, requiring only that you bend down to take the berries from the plants. Most farms provide you with a container for holding the berries you pick, and usually a full basket equals one gallon; one gallon for a mere $9...that's pretty good don't you think?! So if you get the chance to "pick-your-own" take advantage, it's certainly a tastey treat, and makes for a fun memory!

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Here are some pics from our adventure! Now all I need to do is decide, what am I gonna do with all these strawberries...pies, jam, or good ole strawberry shortcake, who knows...there are so many options!

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Enjoying a little treat straight from the ground...a little dirt never hurt anyone, right?!!
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rice Cereal....yummy yummy!

Well, we started rice cereal last night! As it happened with the older boys around 4 months old, Emerson has begun waking up more throughout the night seemingly STARVING! So we decided to begin doing some rice cereal before his last evening feeding to help fill that buddah belly! Of course we started with a very watery consistency and he did have a little trouble with it at first, but it didn't take him long to finish off the small amount that I'd made for him! He seems to like it pretty well now, which is no surprise since he comes from a family of good eaters!

Here, he's not too sure of what he thinks about it...
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Mom...this is pretty tastey!
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Eating like a champ...
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Friday, May 13, 2011

End of School Program

Peyton had his end of the year school program, it was so fun to get to see all the kids singing the songs they'd been learning throughout the year during music and chapel. The songs were sweet but the kids reactions up on stage were priceless, especially my sons! He was just fine til I stood up to get a better picture and he saw me...from that point on it was hands in the mouth or on his face, sheepishly standing there, not singing or participating, he just stood there seeming to be very embarrassed, oh well!

Peyton and I in front of some of his art in his classroom
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Here Peyton's acting embarrassed! He has a thing for the little red head, her name is Madelyn...
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Here's his class picture...look at his expression!
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Monday, May 9, 2011

My small house fire...Happy Mothers Day!

Well, I woke up yesterday morning to my sweet boys and husband wishing me a very Happy Mother's Day. They had made a cute recordable card and had bought a new set of pots and pans for me...(I am severely disappointed in my VERY expensive Calphalon set...NEVER AGAIN!) Anyway, I pulled the big box out of the pretty gift bag and set it up on my cooktop stove to examine my gift..it looked like a nice set of pots and pans and I thanked the boys for their thoughtfulness! I set about getting my breakfast and kept smelling this burning smell..."what is that" I kept asking myself! Well, when I turned around and saw the burner bright red and smoke coming up out of the box, I FREAKED out! Yes, it was smoking pretty strong and ashes were flying off...I thought it was out then I realized I was still seeing little flicks of fire, so I grabbed a cup and threw water all over the box, my counter and of course it ran off onto the floor! I guess I must have hit the burner's knob when I was lifting the box up out of the gift sack! Finally I had the fire completely out, but not without a complete mess in the kitchen! Black ash was all over the counter, cabinets and floor...LOVELY! To top it off we were running a bit late for church so I had to leave the mess to clean up after we got home! When we returned it still smelled like a bon fire in our house, so we had the doors and windows open for a while! It's never a dull moment here...I decided to take a few pics to document the ordeal; I'd already cleaned up the mess when I thought to take pictures. Enjoy!

My lovely new pots (stainless with no NON-STICK!)
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Glad I liked them, cause there was no taking them back in this condition!
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Here's a close up!
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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Paula Deen's Slow Cooker Spinach Manicotti

I've recently been using recipes from Paula Deen's magazine "Quick and Easy Meals". Last night I did the slow cooker spinach manicotti, and I must say it was tastey!! It's super easy to put together and the whole family loved it!

Voila!
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Here are the items you'll need:
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1 (15 oz) ricotta cheese or cottage cheese
1 (10 oz) package frozen spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 t salt
2 (14.5 oz) cans stewed tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, chopped
1 (24 oz) jar roasted garlic and herb pasta sauce, divided
1 (8 oz) package uncooked manicotti shells

Stir together ricotta, spinach, egg, 1/4 cup parmesan, mozzerella and salt
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In bottom of slow cooker, combine 1 can stewed tomatoes and 1 cup of pasta sauce. Stuff the UNCOOKED shells with the spinach mixture (just using my fingers to stuff the shells seemed to work best), then place stuffed shells in cooker
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Top shells with the second can of stewed tomatoes, arrange remaining stuffed shells over tomatoes and pour the rest of the pasta sauce evenly over the manicotti; top with 1/2 cup of parmesan, cover and cook for 3-4 hrs

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I served it with garlic french bread and salad, for dessert we had simple vanilla ice cream with crumbled mint Oreos...mmmmm tastey!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Family Game Night

Adam and I decided to put P90X on hold tonight and just put on cozy clothes and enjoy a relaxing evening with our boys! We play several games and what a fun evening we had! We pulled out Memory and High Ho Cheerios, two of Peyton's favorites! I must say that he is quite good at Memory; Adam and I were surprised at how well he was able to remember where the matches were, he was better at it then we were! Lawson enjoyed messing up all the "fruit" in Hi Ho Cheerios which totally frustrated Peyton, Lawson is quite the instigator!

Here's our little family minus Emerson
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Daddy and his boys
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Peyton and Daddy
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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Terrible Storms

As all of you know the South was hit by some terrible storms recently. This time last week it all began in Birmingham. The weather reports were saying "severe weather was coming" and that we needed to take necessary precautions...which to me means pulling out the flashlights and making sure that I have some candles and matches near by...along with pillows, blankets and a bag of toys for the boys!

The sirens began going off here in Birmingham around 4:45 in the afternoon last Wednesday...I must say I have struggled in the past about knowing when to take the tornado sirens seriously, but after last weeks episode, I think I'll always take it seriously! And I must say it did look quite ominous out there so we all tromped down to the basement bedroom to "hunker down!" and when I say "all of us" I mean Donna, Molly, Baby Joseph, Grace, Peyton, Lawson, Emerson and myself. I did get concerned when I couldn't get ahold of Adam, who was on his way home in the middle of it all so we sent up a quick arrow prayer of protection and safety, thanks Molz! About that time we heard the garage go up and Adam was home, but just in time, as soon as he walked in the door our electricity went out and his first words were "it looks like a war zone out there!" Trees, power lines, telephone poles, etc were laying across roads and intersections and had made the lengthy ride home even longer for him because he kept having to take detours! But thankfully he was home and we were safe!

And safe in the basement we sat for over four lovely hours...as I showed in my post from last week, we did make the most of it, with games, books and lots of memory making...but for many families in this area, their lives were ripped apart and their homes destroyed in those hours! It's so very humbling to see areas just minutes from your home that have had such horrifying things occur, it's made me so grateful for God's protection on us! Though Birmingham has some very hard hit areas, nothing is like Tuscaloosa or some of the more northern areas of the state. Adam and some of the men from our Sunday School class went to Tuscaloosa a few days ago to do cleanup there. Adam said it's phenominal the destruction you see, it's so wide spread and just sheer devistation in any direction you look. The National Guard has been brought in to ward off the looters who had begun to take things, not necessarily simply to take things for the pleasure, but more because of the panic of not having anything and not knowing how they'd replace everything! He said there were Army tanks in the streets helping to protect the areas that were worst hit. In order to go into those places you had to have a piece of paper authorizing you to be there..as you'll see from the pictures, it truly makes you speechless as you see what took place. Here are some pictures that he took with his phone.
The top left photo is a house that used to back up to a forest, as you can see there aren't many trees left and the ones that are still standing look like they've been stripped down to nothing! The top right picture is a neighborhood street, looks kind of like Iraq to me! The bottom left picture is of a house that's in a cul-de-sac and it took the brunt of many trees that the tornado just tossed upon it! Can you believe that? And in the bottom right picture you'll see a 2x8 piece of wood just pierced into the roof of the home!
Picnik collage
Picnik collage

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Motherhood...the good, the bad and the ugly!

Motherhood...it's one of those things I always dreamed of doing...as a kid I enjoyed playing "house", loving on my dolls and pretending...it was to the extent that whenever my Meemaw came for a visit she would take me to the store and buy real diapers and premie clothes for me to use on my baby dolls! Well, fast forward twenty or so years and I'm living in a real house filled with a loving husband, three precious children and of course Tucker (the dog) who rounds out the picture! I have a GREAT life, it's truly been more than I could have dreamed of! Getting the priviledge to be Adam's wife has been more then a dream come true, He had (and still has) all the qualities I'd always written down on my list of "must-have's" for a husband; God truly has blessed me and I'm a better person because of him! Each of my sweet little guys, have been an answer to my prayers as well...they're perfect representations of God's fearfully and wonderfully made creations! I keep being reminded of how quickly the time with them is flying, the saying "these times are the longest days but the shortest years" pretty well sums it up!

All that said, I must admit that I never realized just how hard these days would be. As a teenager, I loved to babysit and enjoyed doing "housewife" chores, after I'd put the kids to bed I'd straighten up the house, wash dishes and make sure that everything was in its right place before the parents came back. I never realized how judgemental I was toward Mom's who's homes were in disarray when I would arrive to babysit...I always thought..."man, if I was having someone sit for me I'd at least put the dishes and dirty clothes away! And all the boxes of snackey stuff (Goldfish, CheezIts, etc) couldn't they manage to put it back in the pantry before the sitter arrived? And those kids, couldn't they have thought to put a clean t-shirt on their children and wiped their faces off?

Well, we recently had our first night out since moving to Bham and I now know why things were the way they were when I'd arrive to babysit...that poor Mama was doing her dead level best and something had to give...it sure did for me at least. All day long I seemed to pick up and re-pick up toys, sweep and re-sweep under the kitchen table all the while trying to keep the boys clean, and get myself a shower and dressed by the time Emily arrived, because we all know that time is money and if you're not dressed when the sitter arrives, you're paying her while you're there and that's no good! Anyway, I have to say that I fully comprehend and understand now, how hard it can be to "prep" for a sitter to come to your house: to have the house picked up, kids clean, pizza ordered and picked up, fresh cookies sitting out for dessert, kids pjs/diapers/blankies set out and have yourself all dressed and put together...so to all those momma's I judged, please, please forgive me!

Here are some pictures of our night out and my messy and disshelved home...I did however manage to get it all picked up, have the kids clean and myself dressed and presentable before Emily arrived...I was exhausted by the time I sat down in the car with Adam though! We did have a lovely time! We went to a Japanese restaurant (which is always fun) and then went shopping! We had a great time just being together!

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CARTI: Festival of Trees

This past week was filled with wonderful events that all benefited CARTI. CARTI, is THE cancer treatment facility that provides hope and he...