Thursday, May 31, 2012

A day full of... Fish.

There is a new fish place is town that Chris has been wanting to go to. Ironically, I don't eat seafood. I'm weird, it's okay. I kinda got burned out on it as a kid, and now my taste has changed.

Thankfully, the restaurant does have chicken. They also had this sign:
I started cracking up and ran over to take a picture of it, while getting strange looks from the other people who were in there eating!

This was the kids meal. How cute is that?
Afterwards, we went to our cabin for the rest of the day. We decided to do some fishing, and I caught my very first catfish! Chris is holding it...not only do I not eat fish, but I don't touch them either, ha!
And Brayden caught a perch!
I ended up catching 2 catfish before calling it quits. Chris caught three and Brayden caught two perch!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How some blue soap saved my dress.

Remember how I hosted a baby shower last week? What you didn't know was that I ended up a large grease splatter on my brand new dress and had to go change halfway through the shower!

I had read on Pinterest that you could remove a grease stain with chalk. My verdict? You CANNOT remove a grease stain with chalk! If anything, it lightened it slightly.

So, I thought I was stuck. I had just bought that dress and it was the first time I was getting to wear it so I was bummed. Then I remembered that what Pinterest doesn't know, Twitter does. So I asked there! I probably had 15 or 20 people tell me to try using the blue Dawn soap.

IT WORKS!

So the stain was already set in, because after using the chalk, I washed the dress. So what I did was put some blue Dawn on it, rub it in well, and let it sit for about 15 minutes. No one told me to let it sit, so maybe you don't need to, but anytime I stain treat something, I have a 15 minute rule!

Next I washed the dress and now it is as good as new! You can't see any part of the stain at all! So, I thought I'd pass that little tidbit on in case you have something that you think it ruined!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Our Vacation

Last week Chris and I took the kids to Branson for a little vacation. Boy oh boy, was this vacation better than last years.

We stayed in a 2 bedroom cabin at a resort that we like visiting up there. We had a very full schedule, and I had to be back for my sister in law's baby shower, and then my mom had a very important doctor appointment that I wanted to be at, so we bumped up our return by one more day. We managed to get everything done that we wanted to!

There were lots of firsts going on...I might save some of Brody's for another post. But here's one that both boys shared - their very first s'more! I make mine with peanut butter. De-licious!
Brody loved playing on the jungle gym near our cabin.
We also went to Silver Dollar City for the first time with both boys. I had a few people tweet me and ask if there are any rides for kids so young - yes, there are! If your kids are over 36" (like Brayden is) there are probably 10 rides they can go on. Brody was able to go on a few as well! If you are thinking about going, visit their website - they have all the height information for each ride there.

Both boys enjoying the frog ride with Daddy!
Another thing we thought would be fun is the Dixie Stampede. If you've never been, it's a dinner show full of horse riding. You eat dinner with your hands - a cornish hen, pork loin, corn, baked potato, cheesy roll (similar to this), soup...I don't remember what else. Lots of great food!

Before we went in, we walked around the stables and saw the horses. The kids LOVED the show! We were the first to our row, so we were able to get the end seat and put Brody's high chair where he could see. He was mesmerized! So was Brayden! It's a great thing to do if you're visiting Branson!

It was such a fun vacation! We can't wait to go again!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mom's Pasta Salad

I've actually posted this one before, but I re-did my photograph. This is my families favorite pasta salad; it's a recipe my mom came up with a really long time ago. My parents were over for dinner last night and I made this as a side dish! If you like pasta salad you have to give this one a try! It is SO flavorful!

Here's what you'll need:

1 box of tri colored rotini pasta (be sure NOT to get the vegetable pasta. Some tri colored rotini is flavored like spinach and peppers - you do NOT want that one).
1 - 2 bottles of Kraft Italian dressing
1 red onion
2 green bell peppers
1 package of hard salami
1 can of artichoke hearts (packed in water; drained)
2 small cans of sliced black olives (drained)
1 block of mild cheddar cheese
1 block of montery jack cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Do not under-cook. Drain pasta and let it cool.

Dice onions and peppers. Slice salami into strips. Cube cheese. Quarter artichoke hearts.

Mix everything together. You don't want the pasta too hot or it will melt the cheese Sometimes I cube the cheese and put it in a tupperware container until I'm sure the pasta is cool enough. Start with one bottle of dressing and then taste. As the pasta sits it will absorb the dressing and I usually end up adding more at least once. This is best if you let it sit at least 5 hours or so.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

I recently posted about my SIL's baby shower, and showed you some pictures of the amazing food that our family friend Teresa created. One of her other creations was this delectable, bite sized dessert that I asked her if I could share with all of you. This is the PERFECT creation for family get togethers, holidays, showers...Saturdays...Tuesdays...you name it. Everyday is a perfect day for this bite sized treat!

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries
Source: Jenna's Journey Blog, family friend Teresa.

1 package cheesecake instant pudding
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
Heavy whipping cream (just enough to make the mixture pipe-able)
Graham cracker crumbs (about 3 crackers)
Almond bark or Chocolate

Mix ingredients together using a hand mixer. Use a knife or melon baller to hull out strawberries. Using a piping bag or ziplock bag with the end cut off, pipe mixture into the strawberry and then top with graham cracker crumbs.

Melt almond bark in the microwave OR melt chocolate with a little bit of cream over a double boiler. Dip strawberries, then let cool on wax paper. To speed up the cooling process, place them in the fridge or freezer.

Serve chilled.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Baby Shower for my SIL & Niece!

Today I hosted a baby shower for my sister in law, Stephanie! She is having a baby girl in July. I had pink ALL OVER my house! It was such a fun change!

My mom bought this adorable owl for the front door!

I made a blessing tree. Basically, you spray paint twigs, put them in a container with moss, then cut out leaf shapes. Each guest can write a scripture, encouraging word or some parenting advice on a leaf, then hang it back on the tree. Fun!

Adorable cookies made to match the invitations! I ordered the cookies from my friend Robin who does awesome sugar cookie designs.
Our dear family friend, Teresa is an AMAZING chef. You may have seen me post about her before here - she made the food for my first shower with Brayden, and is the woman behind the Famous Parmesan Chicken Salad recipe.
Cute cupcakes that I ordered from a local bakery.
Some of Teresa's awesome creations. Sour cream coffee cake french toast, with a lemon, lavender, honey sauce and fresh sweetened whip cream, gorgonzola salad, a watermelon baby basket fruit display and my personal favorite, applewood smoked sausage, stuffed with cheese and topped with bacon!
Me, Steph, my mom and Mrs. Teresa!

Steph got some wonderful things for my niece Evie (Evelyn), including her stroller, bouncy seat, gym, tons of cloths, diapers, wipes and cute personalized things! For a personalized gift, I ordered her a growth chart from Zulily. I love those! Now all we have to do is wait for her arrival!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Light(er) Cajun Chicken Pasta

In our house, we LOVE cajun chicken pasta. I had been making the same recipe for awhile but it was made with heavy cream and it was just ... unpredictable. Sometimes the sauce was super thin and almost watery, and sometimes it congealed. So, I decided to make my same recipe using low fat cream cheese instead, and we had a winner!

This recipe is a staple in our house and I hope that you will enjoy it too!


Light(er) Cajun Chicken Pasta

Jenna’s Journey Recipes

Ingredients:

1 pound linguini, spaghetti or angel hair pasta

1 pound chicken breast, cut into strips or bite sized pieces

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup 2% milk

2 tbsp corn starch

4 ounces (half a block) 1/3 less fat cream cheese

2 tbsp Cajun seasoning

2 tbsp olive oil plus more for pasta water

1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 medium yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

2 red onions, sliced

5 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:

Heat a large stock pot with water over high heat to cook pasta in. While waiting for that to boil, slice vegetables, set aside. Slice chicken, set aside. Add pasta to boiling, salted and oiled water.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, and put onions and peppers in. Add about 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning. Saute over high heat for about 4-5 minutes, tossing well. Remove cooked veggies from skillet, add 1 tbsp olive oil, and put chicken in the pan. Add about 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning. Cook until just done – chicken should be brown. Remove from pan.

Using a food processor, combine cream cheese, cornstarch and milk. Pulse until there are no lumps.

With skillet over medium heat, add chicken stock stirring and scraping to work the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil over medium, then reduce to medium low and add your cream cheese mixture. Cook until the sauce begins to thicken, about 4 minutes. Add in veggies and chicken, mixing well.

Serve over cooked pasta.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bruschetta Chicken


I've been waiting to share this recipe with you - I keep getting asked for more healthy chicken dishes and this is my absolute favorite. I made it twice this week, that's how much I love it! I hope you will to!

The bruschetta is great alone - serve it with whole wheat pita chips or veggie chips or french bread. Or eat it with a spoon like I do!



Bruschetta Chicken

Source: Jenna's Journey Recipes


For the Bruschetta:

5-6 roma tomatos, diced
4 tbs minced red onion
1 tsp minced jarred garlic (I don't use fresh garlic in this-the taste of the jarred is actually better!)
3 tbs sliced basil leaves
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Sprinkle of salt

In a bowl, combine diced tomatos, minced onion, garlic, basil, balsamic, oil and salt. Mix well, cover and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour (or longer!) to let the flavors come together.

For the Chicken:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup light house Italian dressing (I use Kraft)
4 thin slices of mozzarella cheese
Balsamic dressing

Put chicken in a ziplock bag with Italian dressing. Let marinade in the fridge for up to 6 hours. Grill chicken and just when it is cooked all the way through, melt 2 slices of thin cheese over the top. Remove to plate and drizzle with good balsamic dressing.

Serve with a generous portion of bruschetta over the top!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Summer Staples



Summer is (almost) here! If you live in the South like I do, then it may already be blazing hot for you! When it comes to summer, I have a few staples that I can't live without.

1.) Sandals and Flats!

I know, duh, right? First of all, I'm already tall so I'm a fan of flats to begin with. When it comes to summer outfits, sometimes I feel a little plain Jane and wearing a cute pair of sandals can really dress an outfit up. My favorite pair of sandals are by Steve Madden and they are super sparkly and fun! I also love my espadrille wedges! In fact I did a post on some cute spring/summer shoes here!

Image via this post

2.) Dresses!

If you know me, you might be shocked that I said this. I'm a jeans girl, hands down. This spring I ended up buying some great, fun dresses at Old Navy. They were all pretty inexpensive, and I figured it I didn't get that much use out of them, it wasn't a big loss. I was so pleasantly surprised! I've been wearing them all the time. They are comfortable and cute, and easy to dress up or down! In fact, the dress I have on in this post is one of my Old Navy finds.

3.) Sunglasses!

Okay, another Duh! I'm sure. But a cute pair of sunglasses can really make a statement. I have one pair that I wear pretty much all the time and then I have a pair of aviators that I wear when I want to look "cool." Ha! There are some great sunglasses 70% off on this site today.

4.) Tops with Interest!

Sometimes I fall into the cotton trap in the summer. You know what I mean? I end up wearing plain cotton tees or tanks because it's so blasted hot outside and I don't even want to think about wearing something that might end up making me uncomfortably hot. That said, there are lots of great, lightweight, CUTE options out there. The top I had on in this post is a great example. The color and cut are interesting but that top couldn't be lighter!


5.) Hair!

As you might know, I am not a expert at hair. That said, I get up and wash and style my hair every single day, it just makes me feel better about myself. There are some great summer styles though - cute, bumped up ponytails, sock buns and more. I've got some wonderful ideas pinned on my Pinterest boards. Check those out here!

Don't forget that Zulily and RueLaLa are great resources for finding fashionable clothing and accessories (as well as gifts!) for up to 70% off!

What are some of your favorite summer staples?



Enter the Life Well Lived Sweepstakes here!




Visit BlogHer.com to read more summer style tips!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

I forgot to share a picture of all the beautiful flowers I received on Mothers Day, so WW was the perfect way to share them!



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Healthy Peach Cobbler


My mom makes a killer peach cobbler. I love it! But a couple of weeks ago I decided to make it a much healthier peach cobbler. The result was fantastic, so I thought I'd share it with you!

Healthy Peach Cobbler
Source: Jenna's Journey Recipes

1.5 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup splenda (or other sugar substitute)
1 large can of slices peaches - no sugar or syrup, just natural peaches in their own juice
1.5 cups nonfat or 2% milk
3/4 stick of margarine
3 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put margarine in a 9*13 pan, pop it in the oven just until it melts.

Meanwhile, mix flour, splenda and baking powder in a bowl. Add milk and mix well. Once margarine has melted, pull it out of the oven and pour the flour mixture into the pan. Next pour your fruit and natural juices into the pan, and mix around until they are evenly dispersed.

Bake about 30 minutes or until just done.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My 4th Mother's Day

I can't believe that yesterday was my fourth mother's day! Crazy! We spent the day with my parents at our cabin. My great-grandmother who had just turned 100 passed away last week, so my parents had been gone for her funeral, but made it back in time for mother's day.

Me and my three boys:

Brode-ster!
My parents with the kids:
Bray-Bray:
My family knows me so well. All my mothers day gifts came from Williams-Sonoma! Ha! I received a huge belgium waffle maker and a food mill (I have really been wanting both of those!). I got my mom signed Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) cookbooks and some new oven mitts. She has probably had her oven mitts for 30 years and the last time I was helping cook at her house I burned my hand on her oven, hence the new mitts!

Last night I found out that my Spicy Tomato Soup was featured on the front page of Food Gawker which was a nice surprise!

I hope everyone had a wonderful mothers day. For those who are still waiting for their miracles, know that you were prayed for often yesterday!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spicy Tomato Soup in 30 min's

I love tomato soup - especially when it's a little spicy. The other day I was really in the mood for it for lunch so I came up with this recipe. It took me less than 30 minutes to throw it together and it was really tasty! If you want to let it simmer longer you can - just add more chicken stock to thin it out as needed.

Don't forget you can vote for me as your favorite mom/food blogger! Just click here! I'm on page 2, and to vote, you just have to click the thumbs up (no registering or anything)! Thanks to all of you who have voted!


Spicy Tomato Soup - In 30 minutes!
Source: Jenna's Journey Recipes

Ingredients:
2 29oz cans of tomato sauce
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you want this to be vegetarian)
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 - 1 teaspoon red chili/pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
Olive oil

Directions:
Heat oil over medium heat, an add onions and garlic. Saute for a few minutes. Add sauce, stock, pepper, red pepper, basil and parsley. Stir well. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer and cover. Let simmer for about 15 minutes, minimum. You can let this simmer longer, but you may need to add more stock. Add cream. Stir well to combine.

For a smooth soup, ladle carefully into a blender. Cover the lid with a towel just in case. Pulse until smooth. Serve hot.

Makes soup for 4-6 people.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Date Knight

I'm sure you all know how much I looooove ChickFila, so when I saw a sign outside that they were having a mommy/son date "knight" I was so excited. I thought it would be a great opportunity to spend a little one on one time with Brayden (and for Chris to spend some one on one time with Brody!).

Last night was the big date. He was SO exited - he told me before we left that he wanted to drive the car and pick out what I was going to eat. I have no idea where he got that, it's not like Chris orders for me! I'd never go for that! But still, so adorable.

Here we were before we left the house:
When we got there the manager was dressed up like a court jester, and the cow had a knight in armor leading him around. There was also a live sax player and all the tables had black tablecloths and bouquets of flowers on them. Each son got to give his mom a fresh carnation, and this is the one B picked out for me.

Here we are!

He had a super fun time, and loved getting play in the indoor play place! I can't wait to go on another date with my little big man!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Touch a Truck - Year 2

Last year was our first year going to the Touch A Truck event in our area. It was so much fun and we knew that we wanted to take the boys again this year.

Right after we got there, we looked across the freeway and spotted the Angel One helicopter that Brayden rode on as a newborn down to ACH. Chris and I both got a little choked up and we took a few pictures with it in the background. I pray that the baby that was being transported is doing well.

Brayden was super excited that the Home Depot was there giving out kid sized orange aprons. Brody got one to but it's bigger than he is!


Brayden loves huge equipment and the perk of this event is that the kids get to go inside everything, honk the horns and pretend they are driving!

Both my boys with a firetruck - a foreshadow of what was going to happen later that day (Ambulance ride #2!):
Last but not least was the mail truck. Some kids skipped right past it but B loves the Bubble Guppies and he had just watched their mail episode so he was super excited about this!
We already can't wait for next year!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Brayden's 2nd Ambulance Ride

This happened to be one of those super busy weekends where I can't fit everything into one post. So I'm going to cover the most important thing first - Brayden's second ride in an ambulance.

Let's start at the beginning...

Saturday evening Chris and I had a charity gala to go to. It was a Kentucky Derby theme, hence the ridiculous hat I have on. In all fairness I had like three days to pull an outfit together so this is just as good as I got. Some women really got into it - I saw fresh flowers on hats, fake sunflowers that were 12" in diameter and even a black witches hat decorated with a boa.

You all know the Famous Parmesan Chicken Salad recipe? The creator of that recipe is my moms friend (and mine as well!) Teresa, and this is her (in the green dress) with my mom and I:

Here is Chris and I at the gala with the horse race in the background. Or maybe that was the warm up. I don't really know. Ha!
So, we had just sat down for the dinner portion of the gala, when my phone started to ring. You all know that I don't leave my kids, like ever, unless they are with my family. This was the second time we've ever used a sitter and I was a little nervous but I really like and trust Hannah (our new sitter) so I was cool with it.

Let me say before I get into what happened that it was a complete fluke of an accident that could have happened whether or not I was here and it is in no way, shape or form our sitters fault - we adore her and will continue to use her as our sitter unless we scared her off! She's an amazing girl and I feel terrible that this happened while she was watching my boys.

So, back to my phone ringing. It was Hannah and I knew something was wrong. Unfortunately, we were surrounded by 500 people and I couldn't hear anything other than "Brayden" and "paramedics were called."

I immediately jumped up to leave and then Hannah put the paramedics on the line. All I could understand was that he fell and hit his head, needed stitches and to be evaluated for a concussion.

What ended up happening was the boys were playing in the playroom and Brayden tripped over a lego and fell into the play table. Hannah immediately called the paramedics and then me. I am so impressed with her quick thinking and how she handled the situation.

Chris and I raced home (the police actually gave us an escort part of the way which was incredibly kind of them) and I was able to ride in the ambulance while Chris followed behind. My parents left the gala to and they snapped this picture of the ambulance with B and I, followed by my car with Chris and Brody in it.
Once we got there, we got right in and they began to evaluate Brayden. He ended up going back for an Xray and it took Chris and to technicians to hold him down. Poor little guy - he was so confused and just kept screaming "I want to go home!"

The ENT's in the ambulance were AWESOME. Seriously, they were so great with Brayden. One of them gave him a stuffed duck which he named Willie (Duck Dynasty, anyone?).
This was the fastest ER experience I've ever had. We got right in, a doctor evaluated him, sent him off for an x-ray, concluded that he didn't have a concussion, and then another doctor came in and together they decided that his laceration could be glued instead of stitched, which I was thankful for. I don't think he would have been to excited to have a needle coming towards his face, especially that close to his eye.

We were discharged shortly after he was glued and he asked for a milkshake, so we took him to Chickfila for a kids chocolate shake.
Today he has a black eye and it's also a little swollen, but you would never know he got hurt. He completely ignores it and insists that he feels fine. Seriously, I have never met a kid as strong as he is! My little man is a trooper! For those of you who follow me on Twitter, thank you so much for your prayers while he was in the ER and when I didn't know what was going on! I really appreciate it!

Sidenote:
I know you might be confused about why this is his "2nd" ambulance ride. When Brayden was a newborn he was transported from the hospital he was born at, to another nearby hospital that had a NICU before being flown to Arkansas Children's Hospital. Earlier that day, we saw the helicopter that flew him to ACH (that's for another post, this one is long enough!) and we were telling him the story, so he was pointing out to me that this was his second ride in the ambulance while I was in the back of it with him.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Low(er) Fat Chocolate Cake

You all know how much I adore chocolate. Love, love, love it. I really do a lot of healthy cooking (even though you might not always guess it by some of my recipes!) and this is my version of a lower fat chocolate cake. The recipe calls for unsweetened applesauce, and I make my own. You can find that super simple recipe here.

Also, I've been nominated for Best Mom/Food blogger on Babble! Last time I checked, I was about halfway down page 3, and all you have to do is click the "thumbs up!"

Low(er) Fat Chocolate Cake
Jenna's Journey Recipes

Note: On all of my recipes, a lowercase "t" equals teaspoon and an uppercase "T" equals tablespoon.

Ingredients:

1.5 cups cake flour
1 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup white sugar or sugar substitute
2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
2 t vanilla
1/4 unsweetened applesauce (I make my own)
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs OR 4 egg whites
1/2 cup water (or you could use coffee if you prefer)

Powdered Sugar for topping.


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, soda, baking powder & salt.

In a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), combine vanilla, applesauce, buttermilk, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs and water. Pour into a lightly greased 9*13 glass pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or just until a toothpick comes out clean. Don't over bake! Let cool then top with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Read.Watch.Use.

First, a big, huge, thank you to everyone who has voted for me for best Food/Mom blog on Babble! I so appreciate it! Last time I looked, I was on page 3!

Last year, I told you about an awesome book I read called Divergent. I think I was the first on that bandwagon - usually I'm one of the last, ha! I found it right after it had been released and the site that I bought it from (Amazon) had put the first 100 pages out for free. I read them and was hooked! So naturally, when the second book was going to be released, I pre-ordered it for my Kindle, and I'm reading it now. You should to! This will be a trilogy, so we only have to wait for one more book. I can't wait! Supposedly, they are turning them into movies as well - if you've read it, who do you think should play Tris and Four?


Image Via Amazon

Another bandwagon I jumped on early was for this show, called Duck Dynasty. I mentioned it on Twitter awhile back, and it seems like everyone started watching it! I love this show. Seriously. Chris gets a total kick out of me, his California girl, shopaholic, hair and nails fanatic wife, watching a bunch of self proclaimed hillbillies make duck calls and shoot squirrels. You have to DVR this one though, it's hilarious!

Image via AETV

The last thing on my little list is this awesome new hair product I'm using. A year or two ago, I talked about another product and I still love that, but I think this one is easier to use. It's by Pureology and it's called Pure Volume.

I have super fine hair and it gets staticy. Like I look like I rubbed a balloon on my hair or something. This stuff stops that and it gives me great volume! I buy mine at Ulta but I'm sure lots of stores sell it. If you have hair like mine you should give it a try. I use a dime sized about through my hair before blow-drying and it works like a charm.

Image via HQhair.com
 
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