Thursday, February 27, 2014

This Week's Dinner Line-up....Fantastic!

This was a week for comfort food.  Something nice and hot to warm up from all of this frigid weather.  I must say, I nailed this week's menu...almost.  We started off this weekend with a new recipe, Lasagna Soup, and it was delicious (and kid-approved!).  Sunday I tried a new crockpot recipe, Chicken Santa Fe, but it was not delicious.  Pinterest fail.  

Next up?  A whole chicken in the crockpot.  I've always been intimidated by the idea of cooking a whole chicken.  Not anymore!  It was quick and easy to prep and it was a crockpot meal, so no fuss.  The end result?  Delicious, tender chicken.  I'll share the recipe at the end of this post.  You can get a great price on a whole chicken if you keep your eye out for one.  The bonus for the one I had in the freezer?  No giblets!  I'm a little squeamish when it comes to meat, so this was a pleasant surprise.

To round out our week, I made Goulash and we will have our traditional Friday night pizza tomorrow.  We ate well this week and as silly as it sounds, it felt like quite an accomplishment.  All of the recipes I made did not take a lot of time in the kitchen and made plenty of leftovers for the lunch box, a quick dinner, or lunch.    

Crockpot Chicken

1 whole chicken
1 lemon
Olive Oil
Italian Seasoning

Rinse chicken and pat dry.  Slice lemon into quarters and stuff into cavity.  Roll up three balls of tin foil and place the chicken on top of them.  Rub olive oil on the chicken.  Sprinkle Italian Seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste on the top.  Turn on to low and cook for 6-7 hours.  It releases so much juice!  I made some gravy from scratch using it to complete our dinner:  chicken, mashed potatoes, and gravy.  Some serious comfort food.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Last week I felt discouraged.  I was disappointed that my dream wasn't going to become a reality...yet.  After the announcement,  I received positive and encouraging messages from friends and family that helped bring me out of my funk.  As we all know, life doesn't always go the way we think it should.  More times than not, there's a good reason for it.  Something bigger lies ahead, you're not quite on the right path, or the timing just isn't right.  There are countless reasons why we hit a bump in the road on our journey, but I truly believe it's how we handle those bumps that matters.

My time had been stretched thin while creating the preliminary plans for the preschool.  Had it come to fruition, a lot more of my time would have been diverted to that project and perhaps it would have taken away time that I was meant to spend elsewhere.  It didn't take long for me to realize that my time was indeed needed elsewhere.  I had a meeting with the service learning coordinator at a local high school for From Cover to Cover last week.  It has opened doors (and my eyes) to opportunities that I had not thought of before.  From that meeting, many more ideas have evolved and we are excitedly exploring these opportunities to involve older kids in our community in our project and creating a program that will reach far more children than we currently serve.  A blessing in disguise?  I think so!

Today I have had the rare opportunity to be at home with just the baby for a few hours.  With two of the kiddos at school and one at Grandma's this is a little glimpse of how some of my days will be next year.  Though it's almost eerily quiet around here, it is so calm.  I've had time to snuggle and play with the baby without anyone else needing me.  Could I use a year with a calming break now and then?  Will it be good for my soul?  These are questions that I've considered this morning.  Instead of speeding up even more, I may just have the opportunity to pull back the throttle a bit and have some time to focus on activities I enjoy:  writing, reading, exercise, baking...possibilities abound!

As the old saying goes, "When one door closes, another opens."  I am a believer in this statement and I look forward to seeing where this next year will take me.  I'm not giving up on my dream, but I'm also not going to force it to become a reality.  "Good things come to those who wait."  Patience is not always my strength, but I'm going to do my best to be patient, take advantage of the opportunities that are presently available, and enjoy the "extra" time that I've been given.  

A few friends shared this with me last week and it hit the nail right on the head.  Enjoy!


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Back At It: Souper Sunday!

I've had so much on my plate for the last several months that my blog was put on the back-burner.  I am a bit excited to be able to get back at it again.  I have found that I really enjoy writing and this is a great tool to share everything from recipes to the difficult choices in life.  I have several recipes and home projects to share in the upcoming month, as well as some new kid projects.  Throw in a few thoughts on parenting and some ways for "mommy time" and that will keep the posts a-flowin'.

Recently there's been a post floating around Facebook for Lasagna Soup.  It looked delicious, so we gave it a try for dinner last night.  Yum!  I made some adaptations and kept it dairy-free and the result was a hit and approved by the pickies!  Eating as much organic as we can is very important to us.  Thanks to Target stocking so many organic products now, I was also able to make the soup using nearly all organic products:  tomatoes, chicken broth, and spices.  Awesome result!

Lasagna Soup

Adapted from Cooking Classy

2 T. Olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 yellow onion, diced (calls for 1)
1 t. garlic from the jar (calls for 3-5 garlic cloves, minced, to taste)
4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes (I used regular)
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes (calls for 14.5 oz.)
2 1/2 T. tomato paste
2 t. dried basil
3/4 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. dried rosemary, crushed (I left out)
1/2 t. fennel seeds, crushed (I left out)
1 t. granulated sugar
3 t. dried parsley (calls for 1 1/2 T. fresh parsley)
salt and pepper to taste
8 lasagna noodles broken into bite-sized pieces
1 1/4 c. shredded mozzarella (I left out)
1/2 c. finely shredded parmesan cheese (I left out)
8 oz. ricotta cheese (I left out)

Brown ground beef and drain.  Heat olive oil in a deep soup pot.  Saute onions until they begin to soften.  Add in garlic and cook another minute.  Add in tomatoes, ground beef, paste, broth, sugar, seasonings, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  In a separate pan, cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.  Add 1 c. of pasta water to the soup and drain the rest.  Add noodles to the soup and simmer five minutes longer.  If using the cheese, mix all three together with a fork.

Ladle the soup into bowls and add cheese mixture to the top if desired.  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A God-Sized Dream

If you've followed my journey at all, you know that it's my dream to open a preschool in my little community.  It was nearly a year ago that I decided to stop saying, "This would be a great idea" and transitioned to, "Let's do this!"  When I was in college, I dreamt of opening up my own early childhood center.  I wanted to include children with special needs that we could accommodate and create a high-quality program that was challenging and fun.  Fast-forward a little over a decade and I thought, "Now is the time!"  

I've spent countless hours looking at building space, creating my vision, preparing a business plan, jotting down ideas, and on and on.  The excitement was brewing!  A few months ago it seemed that my prayers had been answered and we had found an affordable a church no less!  This seemed like a great fit and I began to really get to work.  It was all smooth sailing until a few weeks ago.  The building code report was in and it was not good.  There were many updates that were noted and before I knew it, the cost and scope of work to be done was too much.  Disappointment.  Discouragement.  Sadness.  

Back to the drawing board it was.  I held out hope for one more space that I had looked at before, but it offered no outdoor space.  Something in the DHS manual caught my eye one day, "Outside space may be waived if the program is three hours or less."  What?!  I had never seen that before.  The space would be great, not perfect, but great.  I met an agent, looked at it, and got excited again.  I am a dreamer and I so badly want to make this happen!  Once again, though, it has ended in disappointment.  After long and thoughtful consideration, it's too much risk this late in the game.  Preschool registrations begin in January.  It's nearly March and while I may have found a space that could work, I still have to be state-approved.  It takes time and it's time I don't have.  Ugh.

This has been a difficult decision to make.  It is a big let down and I feel like I've disappointed a lot of other people as well.  I think it's time to take a little break and revisit the dream in a few months.  I don't want to give up on it altogether, but it seems like now is simply just not the right time.  Failure is not something I am fond of, but I am hoping to look at some of the lessons I've learned and move forward with a better plan.  Perhaps there is something even bigger out there that I just can't envision yet.

The other day I came across a book called, "You're Made for a God-Sized Dream" by Holley Gerth.  Without hesitation I clicked the little one-click button and a few minutes later it was delivered to my Kindle.  I'm going to read this book, thoughtfully answer the questions, and continue to pursue my dream.  I have a fire in my belly that continues to burn.  I just know there's something out there that is going to trigger an "Aha!" moment and I will understand the journey.  Until then...