Monday, March 31, 2014

Organizing my Pinterest & Group Boards

Last week I decided to try to bring a little more organization to my Pinterest boards. I had one board for recipes (only one!) and I've been meaning to break that board out into categories. I created a couple of new boards (Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Party Food, Desserts and Appetizers) and I'm slowly moving things to the appropriate boards.

How do you like to see Pinterest boards organized? Usually I find myself looking for something very specific...a cleaning tip, a certain type of craft, a particular article of clothing etc. I find it helpful to search boards that are specific like that.

At the same time, sometimes the number of boards one keeps can be overwhelming to me. If I know that so and so might have what I'm looking for, I can just search that persons name and look through their boards. But on occasion, I'll be looking through their boards and there will be like 50 of them! That's just too much for me.

So, how many Pinterest boards do you have and how do you like to organize them?

Also, I'm a fan of group boards. I've been invited to pin on several group boards and I just love it! It's a great way to see content that might not show up in your feed normally (sometimes I see the same stuff over and over). Do you participate in group boards? I'm thinking of starting one (I've never done that!).

Also, a tip that you may not have known...if you go to your main page (log in to Pinterest and then click under your picture and select your profile and pins) you can move your boards around by clicking and dragging them into place. I put my post pinned to boards at the top and then graduate them down to the least used boards.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sweetened Passion Tea Lemonade {Copycat Starbucks Recipe}

My favorite spring/summer drink is Starbucks passion tea lemonade (sweetened, of course). I LOVE that stuff. It's so great. I'm usually a drive through kind of gal, but once I went in and watched them assemble my drink. It has to be one of the easiest things the baristas make because it's just three ingredients: Lemonade, passion tea and if you want it sweetened, simple syrup.

I decided to make my own at home, but instead of making the simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar, boiled until the sugar dissolves and then cooled) I just used sugar and dissolved it in the hot tea.

And it was FABULOUS.

You must make this at home! Your wallet will thank you!

{Copycat Starbucks} Passion Tea Lemonade

2 Tazo Passion Tea bags
Lemonade (I use Simply Lemonade)
1 cup white sugar

Fill a small pot with 5 cups of water. Bring water to a boil. Turn heat off, add teabags, cover with lid. Let steep for 10 minutes.

While the tea is steeping, add 1 cup sugar to a large pitcher. Once tea is steeped, pour into pitcher and stir to dissolve sugar. Add lemonade until the pitcher is full. Stir to combine, store in the fridge.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Stuffed Chicken Meatballs

My kids love meatballs and Chris and I do as well. I make Spicy Turkey Meatballs  fairly often (and tip: they freeze really well - I often double or triple the batch and freeze them) but I wanted to come up with a chicken recipe. Our favorite chicken dish - okay, one of our favorite chicken dishes, is Chicken Parmesan. A couple of weeks ago it dawned on me to turn chicken parmesan into a meat ball, and thus, this dish was born. I hope you love it as much as we do!

Stuffed Chicken Meatballs
Yield: about 15 large meatballs

1 1/3 lbs all white meat ground chicken
1 fresh ball of mozzarella
3/4 cup bread crumbs (panko, italian, freshly made sourdough)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan (not pre grated, store bought)
1/4 cup Romano cheese
2 eggs
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Pinch of dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine eggs, bread crumbs, parmesan, Romano, red pepper, black pepper, salt, oregano and basil together. Once well combined, add chicken and mix until just combined. Cube mozzarella. 

Roll meatballs and place a piece of mozzarella in the center, making sure to cover the mozzarella well so it stays sealed in the center of each ball.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add enough EVOO to just barely coat the bottom. Once hot, add meatballs, browning them on all sides. Once browned, place skillet in the oven to finish cooking the meatballs all the way through (make sure your skillet is oven proof).

Serve over linguini with your sauce of choice (I used a garlic marinara).

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Our Weekend (A Little Late)

It's been awhile since I've just blogged about us and what we've been up to. We're pretty boring people during the winter. This past weekend, we decided to drive over to Tulsa and let the kids spend some of their money at the Disney Store. 

First though, we ate at one of my favorite places, The Cheesecake Factory. I could eat my weight in brown bread.

We don't eat at The Cheesecake Factory often, since it's about 2 hours away, but when we do, we order tapas (small plates) to share. It's generally fairly unhealthy, but every once in a blue moon, that's okay.

This time we had the cuban sandwich rolls (I can't think of the name of those), fried zucchini (my favorite), chicken potstickers and southwestern egg rolls. I'm working on a recipe for those. They are so yummy!

After lunch, we headed over to the mall to let the kids spend their money (they bought Woody and Buzz Lightyear dolls) and then took a couple of spins on the carousel. 

On our way out, we passed a booth of girl scouts. Would you believe we haven't bought girl scout cookies in at least 6 years? Probably closer to 8, to be honest! We decided to get some this time. My favorites have always been Tagalongs and Chris loves Thin Mints.

What's your favorite girl scout cookie?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Prayer and Your Children

Recently, our family was out to eat and, as usual, Brayden led us in prayer before our meal. I say “as usual” because Brayden likes to pray over all of our meals, and if there is more than a minute long break between dinner and dessert, then dessert gets a new prayer. Sometimes, he will let Chris do it, and now Brody wants to lead the charge on occasion, but for the most part, Brayden prays before our meals right now.

It’s not unusual, even in the Bible Belt where we live, to get lots of looks from strangers when we bow our heads over our meal, hold hands and pray in public. Occasionally, someone will make a “that’s so cute” comment. The other day, however, someone asked me how we got Brayden to do that.

I found this question really interesting, because we didn’t get Brayden to do anything. Chris and I always prayed before our meals and at night, we would pray with him and Brody before bed. We often talk to both of our kids about what prayer is and why we pray. Over time, Brayden started asking to lead the prayers and we let him.

At night, the kids recite their memory verses and then they both pray. We encourage them to talk to God about everything; their day, their worries and concerns, their friends, their sins and of course what they are thankful for.

The question I received the other day has been weighing on my mind. Do you ever do things subconsciously? I think we all do, on one level or another. When I was a kid, there was a Pastor at our church who told me I “prayed wrong.” I remember being so upset and embarrassed because he said it in front of a group of kids. I told my parents and I think my Dad had a talk with him about it. Because, really, how can you pray wrong?

After that I had no desire to pray publically, out loud, for all to hear. When Chris and I got married, he always prayed for us before our meals. It wasn’t until Brayden was born and was in the NICU at Arkansas Children’s Hospital that all of this changed for me.

Brayden was incredibly ill, and when he first arrived at ACH, his neonatologists told us there was maybe a 70% chance we would ever be taking him home. When we arrived at our hotel (the hospital is about 4 hours from our house) we decided to pray out loud together. We continued that tradition the whole time Brayden was at ACH and after he came home.

I realized something through that. I now had a son that I wanted to set an example for. Sometimes, our actions speak louder than our words, and Chris and I both wanted him to see prayers being said unashamedly, publically, out loud. So, that is what we do.

So, how do you teach your child to pray? How about teaching them to pray out loud, in public without a second thought?

You set the example.

Jeremiah 29:12 says this:
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

Call on God. Tell Him about your day. Share your heart, your desires, your hopes, your dreams, your fears and your sins with Him. Ask Him for guidance and forgiveness and help.

And when possible, do this in front of your kids.

Because, really, there is no better way to teach them.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Corn Succotash

A few weeks ago, I ate at one of my favvvvorite restaurants, The Cheesecake Factory. Whatever it was that I ordered (is it sad that I don't remember the main dish?) came with a corn succotash. It was soooo good and I knew I would be recreating it at home.

I forgot to take a picture (apparently I gobbled it down too quickly) so I can't say that this is exactly like The Cheesecake Factory's recipe, but in any case, it is really, really good and fresh.

When you're making this, you want to cook everything over almost high heat, so that the natural sugars develop into a golden brown color. Not everything will cook for the same amount of time, so I cook my corn and onion together:

And then I cook the zucchini and red bell pepper, which will take less time:

Simple Succotash
Serves 4

6-8 ears of fresh yellow corn
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1.5 Tablespoons butter, divided
1.5 Tablespoons EVOO, divided
Salt and Pepper

Cut corn off the cob and prepare other vegetables. Heat a skillet over high heat. Melt 1 Tablespoon of your butter with 1 Tablespoon of EVOO. Add onion and corn, salt and pepper well. Stir often, continuing to cook over high heat until corn and onions are browned. Remove from skillet.

Add remaining half Tablespoon of butter and EVOO to empty skillet, over high heat. Add bell pepper and zucchini, salt and pepper well. Once lightly browned, add garlic, cook one minute.  

Add corn mixture back into the hot skillet, stir for 1 minute until everything is warmed through. Serve hot.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Favorite BuzzFeed Quizzes

If you have a Facebook account, then you've undoubtedly seen the BuzzFeed quizzes making the rounds. I LOVE THEM. I think they're kind of hilarious yet, oddly accurate. How do they know?!

Anyway, I've pulled together a few of my favorite quizzes for you. Take them and let me know your results!

I got Professor...which is sort of funny, because growing up, I always said "I want to be a stay at home mom" but most of my teachers wouldn't accept that as an answer. So instead, I would tell them I wanted to be a teacher. English would be my subject of choice, and I could see myself lecturing on the classics.

There are two quizzes like this, one that only pulls US cities and one that pulls cities from all over the world. For the US only one, I got Portland and for the global one, I got London. Both are dead on. I love the rainy, dreary places.

What classic author is your soulmate?
Well, duh. Jane Austen. Because, of course.

Which Disney princess are you?

I didn't know what to expect from this one. Rapunzel from Tangled is my favorite, but I actually got Ariel from The Little Mermaid. We had a family movie night last night and I picked Tangled...if you haven't seen it, you MUST WATCH IT. Best Disney movie ever.

What period in history do you belong in?

Again, this one came as no surprise: I got Elizabethan England.

Who didn't love the Baby-Sitter's Club? I know I did! I even wrote a post about it! This one surprised me - I got Mallory. Dawn was hands-down my favorite character, though I liked Mary Ann and Kristy as well.  

So, did you take any of these quizzes? What were your results? Do you have a favorite quiz I missed?

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