Wednesday, September 30, 2009


On October 11th, my baby sister (the one who got married this summer) and I are going to Wicked in Des Moines. We're really excited as we both enjoyed watching The Wizard of Oz when we were growing up. She even had a little witch voice and said, "I'll get you my pretty...and your little dawg, too." So funny. Hopefully, this will be a chance to make some new memories with my baby sister. ;)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Slow Cooker Lasagna

It's crock pot season in Iowa. The evenings are nice and cool and during the day there is a crisp breeze but the sun can get warm. We don't want to turn on the AC so I try not to use the oven unless it's early in the morning. So, I've come to rely on my crock pot during the first few fall months. Time to get your crock pot going with this great recipe from my husband's Gramma. I added a little more garlic powder and some spice to give the sauce a little more kick.

Slow Cooker Lasagna

1 lb ground beef (or turkey)
1 tbsp dried minced onion
1 tsp garlic powder
2 (15-oz) cans tomato sauce
1 cup water 1 (6-oz) can tomato paste
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1 pkg (8-oz) lasagna noodles
4 cups shredded mozerella
1 1/2 cups (12-oz) small curd cottage cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Cook beef, onion and garlic; drain fat. Add tomato sauce, water, tomato paste and seasoning; mix well. In another large bowl, mix the cheeses together. In a 5-quart slow cooker spread 2 cups meat mixture, 1/3 of noodles (breaking if necessary), 2 cups cheese mixture. Repeat twice ending with meat sauce. Cook on low for 4 to 4 1/2 hours. (Don't go longer than that or your noodles will be mushy.)

We served some garlic bread and a side salad with this lasagna. Be prepared, it makes a lot but is great as left overs. Maybe invite some friends/family over to share this meal with you. ;) Enjoy!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hearts at Home North Central Conference

In November I (along with several other women from my church) will be heading to Rochester, MN to Hearts at Home. I'm really excited to spend time with my dear friend, Emily, during this weekend of refreshment and learning.

This conference was started by Jill Savage. She's written some great books on motherhood and the Christian woman. I really enjoy reading her blog and am excited to hear her speak at the conference. I can't wait to hear Dr. Kevin Leman, as he's one of my favorite authors for parenting and marriage/sex. But he's mainly known for his books on Birth Order. It's all very interesting and I can't wait to hear more.

There's also breakouts in the afternoon and there are a lot to choose from. This conference is for all stages of motherhood and the breakouts help you get info for your stage of motherhood.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that the Friday night of the conference is girls night out. Sounds wonderful to me!! Go Fish will be there with all their musical talent (funny to think I saw them at a park in Sioux Center, IA when they were first getting started). If you get a chance to go, it's a great conference and I'm really looking forward to it!!

Some of my favorite books by Dr. Kevin Leman:

Sheet Music - "This book will expand and challenge your thinking, help you start your marriage off right, or go from humdrum to exciting if you’re already married."

First Time Mom - "He describes the traits that characterize firstborn children and educates new moms (and dads!) on the essentials of parenting, offering practical tips on what to expect and how to adjust in your new role."

The Birth Order Book - "Dr. Leman will offer readers a fascinating look at how birth order affects personality, marriage and relationships, parenting style, career, and children."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pumpkin Yogurt

I told you that I was on a pumpkin kick. ;) Anyway, I had more canned pumpkin in the fridge and I didn't want to waste it (since there's a pumpkin shortage and all) so I decided to mix up some pumpkin yogurt and it's surprisingly good.

Pumpkin Yogurt

3/4 cup pumpkin
1 1/2 cups vanilla yogurt
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix and enjoy.

You can adjust the brown sugar and cinnamon to your liking. I didn't even really measure when I added so I hope the measurements are correct. You can also add some allspice and nutmeg to make more of a pumpkin pie yogurt. Have fun mixing!

Teriyaki Chicken Lo Mein

I love Cook's Country Magazine. It's my all-time favorite cooking magazine. It's from America's Test Kitchen (on PBS) and I love that because they go through all the trial and error to get the "just-right" recipe so I don't have to. In the center of the magazine they have 30-minute meal recipe cards. I wanted an extra vegetable with our Teriyaki Chicken Lo Mein so I tried making garlic green beans and they were delicious! I also bought some wonton skins (wrappers for egg rolls) and cut them into strips and fried them. They gave the dish some extra crunch. Yumm! Makes great leftovers, too!

Teriyaki Chicken Lo Mein
(from Cook's Country February/March 2009)

3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar (I just used white vinegar since I didn't have rice)
1 1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger (I used ground ginger and taste-tested as I added)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
3 1/2 cups water
4 (3-oz) pkgs ramen noodles, broken into large pieces, seasoning packet discarded
1 (16-oz) bag cole slaw mix
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut crosswise into 1/4-in-thick slices
1 tbsp vegetable oil

  1. Simmer soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, sugar, and cornstarch (whisk in the cornstarch so you don't get lumps) in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking often, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Tranfer half of soy sauce mixture to large bowl and reserve. Add water to saucepan with remaining soy sauce mixture and return to boil. Add ramen and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes (maybe a little less than 4 minutes because they'll soften as they set). Off heat, stir in cole slaw and mix. Cover and keep warm.
  2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels (season with salt and pepper). Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 1 minute per side. Transfer chicken to bowl with reserved soy sauce mixture and toss to coat. Transfer noddles to platter and top with chicken. Serve.

Garlic Green Beans

1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
1/4 cup water
large bunch of green beans

Use the same skillet you cooked the chicken in and add vegetable oil. Heat on meiumm-high until smoking then add the garlic and sautee until fragrent, about 1 minute. Pour in water and add green beans, mix to coat. Cover for 2 minutes, toss, and cook uncovered another 2 minutes. Serve.

That's it. And it was delicious! As good as any Chinese take out, I think. And it only took 30 minutes!! Fry up some wontons to give this meal an extra crunch. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Almond Bars

I make these bars often because I always have these things in my pantry, fridge and freezer. It also makes me feel really Dutch in this non-Dutch city I live in (even though it's almond extract and not almond paste). ;)

Almond Bars

4 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
dash of salt
2 cups flour
1 cup melted butter or margarine
2 tsp almond extract (I usually add a little more)

Cream together the eggs and sugar; add salt. Blend in flour, butter and almond. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Bake 25-30 minutes at 325 degrees. Do NOT overbake. Sprinkle with sugar before serving.

That's it. That's why I make them a lot. They're almost like cake but better. ;) Enjoy!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday Weigh-In 9/23

Pathetic. That's all I can say. I've gained a total of 6lbs which puts me at a loss for words. I've been tired lately and that's my trigger to snacking and not making healthy choices. It's just pathetic.

Ok, enough pitty-partying. I'm making a commitment to post a short report to let you all know that I have been Shredding daily and not slacking off. In fact, I haven't had a chance to Shred today (or since last Wednesday) so I will be doing that first thing after the boys are in bed.

We are going on Rebound in November, and I'd like to be a little more in shape than I am right now. I just want to feel good...because I was really starting to. Now, I'm feeling more jiggly and I can tell I've gained some weight back because my face is the first place I see it.

So, here are the stats and they will be much improved next week! Help hold me accountable to that. ;) Oh, and I'm not giving up my 10# button because I will be back at my 10# loss next week!

starting weight: 155.2
current weight: 160.2
loss: +5 lb
original starting weight: 166.4
cumulative weight loss: 6.2 lb

My Thoughts on The Biggest Loser
*spoiler alert*

Not much to say except the Losers did a great job this week. They defied the week 2 odds and lost 155lb together. We'll see how they do next week when they're bodies really hit survival-mode.

I was surprised that Shay was so judgmental towards Julio. He actually did a great job during the last chance workout. They all did a great job. Cheers to no one going home and what a great job on the balance beams!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Homeschooling is going pretty well. It's hard not having a designated school area besides the kitchen table. We have a little area in the "dining room" but some day it would be nice to have a more permanent place to learn - less distraction for the students and for me. ;) We're still working on the flow of the day, but I'm sure it will get better and better. It's all a learning curve because I don't really feel like I know what I'm doing. But we're having fun and I think we're all learning something. ;)

A few week ago our theme for the week was airplanes so we read lots of books about airplanes, "flew" around the room to "airplane music," and on Friday the boys painted airplanes. Wal-mart has little wooden planes/cars/trucks in their craft aisle. They worked great for this and my 22-month-old loved the project too.

On Thursday we went to the local municipal airport to watch planes land and take-off. My boys loved it. My husband has taken them before and every time they have a ball. Another reason it's great to live in a smaller town.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday Weigh-In 9/16

After watching The Biggest Loser last night I was inspired to fight against my self-will and get out of bed to Shred. I didn't want to, but my 22-month-old kept wandering in our room at 6am until I got out of bed at 6:30am. ;) That's some great accountability. Thanks, son!

Here are my stats and next week I expect some results from my week of Shredding!

starting weight: 155.2
current weight: 155.4
loss: +.2 lb
original starting weight: 166.4
cumulative weight loss: 11 lb

My Thoughts on The Biggest Loser
*spoiler alert*

First of all, I was surprised at all the swearing. And not just swearing but swearing at people. I didn't like that at.all. If I was on the show, I would tell them that I don't mind the yelling, but I would appreciate it if they didn't use horrible language. It just sounded abusive.

There are some heavy people on this episode but for the most part they seemed ready to work. And it's pretty cool to see Bob and Jillian work together. We'll have to see if there are any major arguments between them as the season rolls along. They have different strategies, although last night there was a lot of yelling from both of them.

Daniel - It's great to have him back. I hope he can be an inspiration to all the contestants of what you can do with hard work.

Shay - That girl just makes me sad. And mad. I was disappointed to see her walk out of the gym but I think it was a huge mental/emotional breakthrough for her when she walked back in without being coaxed. Good call, Jillian.

Julio - If he keeps flopping on the ground like a fish, he will not be my favorite contestant. I couldn't believe Jillian calling him "dead father" when he'd fall on the ground. But he said he appreciated her honesty and needs that reality check.

Alexandra - I thought she was such a cute girl and I was sad to see her go. I thought she worked pretty hard and most of all, she had a great attitude. Seems like she's done well at home with a 60lb loss!! And I can't wait to see who her crush is!! Oh, the drama. ;)

Abby - Nothing made me cry more than hearing Abby's story. And then when she was weighing in and she said she had to do it for herself because there was no one else to do it for. It just broke my heart. I pray for her.

Final Thoughts:
  • I can't believe that two people were already in the hospital after the first challenge. And Tracy is still there! I hope she's ok, they didn't really talk about what was wrong with her or if they thought she'd even make it to the show.
  • I could never do this job. I wouldn't be a great motivator because I'd get caught up in all the feelings. I can't yell at people when they're sad and crying. I know that both Bob and Jillian have a heart for these people and the time to talk and work through their hurts will come. It was just really hard to watch.
  • I will not be watching this with my little people because of the language. Yes, there were some bleeps - well, a lot of bleeps, but some words weren't bleeped and they should have been. I thought it sounded more like verbal abuse than encouraging, inspirational words. I understand that there needs to be some yelling because people were quitting, but they need to cut the swearing.
  • I will remember my tissues next week and try not to use my sleeve for my snotty nose and watery eyes.

Advice from a 3-Year Old

My husband and I were discussing discipline at the dinner table one evening. It's been rough with our 3-year-old constantly pushing the the limits. The biggest problem is that he doesn't want to go to bed. Nap-time is ok, but at bedtime (when I'm completely exhausted from the day) he just will not stay in bed and rest.

Well, we were talking about what to do. And how we need to be good at communicating to him the bedtime routine and just stick to our guns. We need to be consistent. This is what our 3-year-old had to say:

"Mom, if you put your guns down, they won't get sticky."

Just had to make us laugh, even though we will not be putting our guns down and he's the only one to make sure they don't get sticky. ;)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Apple Crisp

This is the easiest recipe for Apple Crisp and I have been using it since I graduated from nursing school and moved into my first apartment. It was my "fancy" dessert when I had people over. And it's so good. Nothing really fancy about it, just yummy!

Apple Crisp
from Betty Crocker's Cooking Basics

4 medium tart cooking apples, such as Granny Smith
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats or old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup margarine or butter at room temperature
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg (I like mine fresh)
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8x8-in pan.
  2. Peel apples and cut apples into slices, removing the seeds. You will need about 4 cups of apples. Spread apples in the greased pan.
  3. Mix brown sugar, flour, oats, margarine, cinnamon and nutmeg with a fork (I usually use my hands). The mixture will be crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the apples.
  4. Bake 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and the apples are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve warm.

Creative Lunches

I thought Funky Lunch was the neatest site, but I don't think I have time for all the little details when my little boys are hungry! ;)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Greek Turkey Burgers

It's been a while since I've posted a recipe. I've been cooking a lot, but with babysitting and starting home school, it's been a little hectic around here and blogging has taken a backseat. I'll hopefully schedule some posts this afternoon for your reading enjoyment. ;)

So, here's something I made recently. My family really enjoyed it for something a little different.

Greek Turkey Burgers
from Pampered Chef Main Dishes

1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp onion, finely chopped, divided
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 (8 oz) container nonfat plain yogurt, divided
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg white
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 tsp dried oregano leaves, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
2/3 cup cucumber, thinly sliced
6 pita bread rounds
6 lettuce leaves

  1. For burgers, combine 1/4 cup onion, ground turkey, 1/4 cup of yogurt, bread crumbs, egg white, garlic, 3/4 tsp of oregano, salt and pepper; mix lightly but thoroughly.
  2. For sauce, stir remaining 2 tbsp onion and 1/4 tsp oregano into remaining yogurt; set aside.
  3. Form turkey mixture into 6 oval patties, 1/2-inch thick. Lightly spray skillet with Pam or brush with olive oil; heat over medium heat until hot. Cook patties 10-12 minutes or until meat is no longer pink in center, turning once.
  4. Cut one third off top of each pita bread to form a pocket. Fill each pita with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and turkey burger. Top with reserved yogurt sauce.

You can substitute dill or mint for the oregano. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wednesday Weigh-In 9/9

Stats for the week:

starting weight: 155.4
current weight: 155.2
loss: .2 lb
original starting weight: 166.4
cumulative weight loss: 11.2 lb

I haven't been working out because I haven't been getting to bed on time. Therefore my goal for this week will be going to bed on time. I think it will be easier since we're back at home from a trip to visit family. Not disappointed at all. I'm just glad I've been able to maintain through the busyness.

I Shred with the Sisterhood!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Wednesday Weigh-In 9/2

Forgot to post my weight for the week:

starting weight: 154.2
current weight: 155.4
loss: + 1.2 lb
original starting weight: 166.4
cumulative weight loss: 11 lb

Really, that's not such a bad gain considering the PMS and feeling like I could eat the entire house. ;) Hopefully I won't gain again next week but rather, maintain.

Thanks for all the encouraging words. I'm hoping to start the Shred again soon...still feel so busy and overwhelmed. Also, I have no self-discipline for going to bed on time. It's horrible. And then I don't want to get up in the morning and workout. Yuck. So, that's a HUGE September goal, to go to bed on time. ;)

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!!