Ingredient of the month: Cream of Chicken Soup

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is so easy, and very yummy. You can easily adapt it to what your family likes, but here's my favorite mix:

2-3 cans petite diced tomatoes - with the juice
2 cans chicken broth
about 1 cup salsa
about 3/4 cup white sweet corn
about 3/4 cup black beans
about 1-1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (cook it before adding it to the crockpot)
garlic powder, dried cilantro, and minced onion - all to tast (I just sprinkle it in until I think it is enough, probably about 2 teaspoons of the cilantro and garlic powder, and maybe a tablespoon or 2 of the dried onion).

Cook it on low 6-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Top it with cheese, crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, green onion, guacamole, or whatever else you want!

This is a great recipe when you are feeding lots of people because you can easily double or triple it. Enjoy!

Crock-Pot Stew

I love this recipe! But since I've been in Minnesota I have had bad luck buying stew meat. I can always find it but it's not the same as what I used to buy in Utah, it's way more fatty and hard to chew. So if it doesn't look like nice big chunks of cut up beef I would either find something that is just chunks of cut up beef instead of the "stew meat" or get a round roast and cut it up yourself. It really makes a difference.

Crock-Pot Stew

1lb stew meat
4 potatoes – cut into bite size chunks
4 carrots - bite size chunks
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can tomato soup
1 pkg dry Lipton onion soup mix

Mix together and slow cook in crock pot until meat and potatoes are tender. About 6-8 hours on Low.



Something I have been struggling with lately is finding time to exercise. And especially after having a 3rd baby I really want to start doing better. But I keep trying different things and nothing seems to stick. So I was wondering what you guys do to keep in shape? And how do you find time to do it? I know you must have some secrets to it since you ALL look so great!


Girls Night

Hey girls! I'm just wondering if you would like to have a girls night (or day, or whatever)?? (If you out-of-staters would like to fly in, the more the merrier!) I have a bunch of karaoke revolution games for the playstation 2, and I think it would be fun to get together. We could do it at my apartment sometime this week, or after I get back from Wisconsin (sometime in the week before Christmas), or we could even do it in January. Don't worry, it doesn't require opera singers, just a bunch of girls that like to have fun! Let me know what you think!


Perfect Mashed Potatoes

These are the best Mashed Potatoes I have ever had. It is Martha Stewarts recipe, it it easy and yummy. I'm taking these to Thanksgiving tomorrow. These are in my own words. If you do a search at type in perfect mashed pototoes.

2 lbs russet potatoes
1 Tbsp. salt plus more for taste
1 cup milk or cream
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Rinse, peel and cut potatoes. Place potatoes in pot and cover with cold water one inch above potatoes, stir in salt. Simmer until soft, or until a fork goes in and out smoothly. Drain potatoes. In small saucepan heat milk until low boil. Place potatoes in Bosch (that is what i have) or other mixer. Mix until smooth, then add the butter, add hot milk in slow stream while mixing. Add pepper and nutmeg.


Homemade ginger ale and pumpkin butter

I know, I know...I have not posted my welcome profile posting yet....but I will soon, I promise!

I made two recipes this evening for our gathering tomorrow and they are so tasty that I had to quickly share them!


2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 lb fresh ginger, cut into 1/4 inch thick "coins"
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of cayenne pepper
sparkling water

1. Bring sugar, ginger, cinnamon stick, and 2 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. SImmer 5 minutes, then remove from heat, and stir in cayenne pepper. Let cool.
2. Strain liquid into small pitcher, and discard ginger and cinnamon (I kept the ginger, cut off the outside peel and made it into candied ginger instead of throwing it away). COver, and refrigerate until ready to use.
3. To serve, ladle 1/4 cup ginger syrup into tumbler filled with ice. Top with 3/4 cup sparkling water (6oz), and stir.


2 1/2 cups pumpkin, cooked and mashed (or 1 can)
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 cup Apple cider, orange juice, or apple juice concentrate
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Cover and chill. Makes 3 cups.




Hey everyone, I just wanted to give a little shout out to Chalece! I made her Marvelous Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes today for our dinner tomorrow. I had to double the recipe so I made 10 pounds of mashed potatoes! My sink was FULL of peels, it was crazy. But I had heard this great idea to use your bosch to mash them, so I tried it and it worked beautifully, it did all 10 pounds like it was nothing, and then I added all the stuff from Chalece's recipe and they are SO good. I was licking the beaters and laughing at myself.
I took a picture of my bosch FULL of potatoes, if you want to see it, visit my blog:



Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes

We are not big pie fans and the only time I actually made a pie, the process was so long that it was definitely not worth it. So I can't wait to try out some of these non-pie recipes that have been posted!! And here is another one that I found on foodnetwork. I thought it looked pretty good and not too hard so I hope it tastes good too!

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes
1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
3 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.
Serve with fresh whipped cream.

**Also, I'm changing the labels a little so that the recipes are easier to find. So now we'll still be using the label "recipes", and then either "main dish", "side dish" or "dessert". Then hopefully you won't have to sift through all of them when you're trying to find something.

Pumpkin Crunch

This recipe is the best!!! This is a family favorite!!!!

1-29oz can pumpkin
3 eggs
1-12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice -OR- (1/2 tsp cloves, 1 tsp nutmeg, 3 cinnamon)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick melted butter
1 yellow cake mix

Mix all ingredients exept buter and cake. Pour into well greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle cake mix on top and then drizzle butter over that. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

I really like pumpkin cookies and pumpkin bread. So, I think these cookies are a great, kid-friendly Thanksgiving dessert. Especially with vanilla ice cream! These are also nice because they don't use eggs (I often go to make cookies and don't have enough eggs)

2 cups white sugar
1 cup shortening
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2. Cream the sugar, shortening, pumpkin and vanilla together. Mix until light and well combined.
3. Mix the flour, baking soda and ground cinnamon. Stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture. Mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Drop by teaspoons onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 12 to 15 minutes or until set. Let cookies cool on a rack.


Can you see me now??

Yay the background is fixed! It's a little different than the original but hopefully now everyone will be able to see it! Let me know if you can see it this time (and still like it)! I hope everyone can!
This girl has a lot of really cute backgrounds that are super easy to install (and they don't mess up your sidebar). And they should all be working right this week (some are sized a little wrong so she's been fixing them).


Marvelous Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

I have gotten so many compliments on these potatoes. They are my personal dish to take to Thanksgiving dinner!

You can make them ahead of time so that on Thanksgiving all you have to worry about is putting them in the oven. Also, as this was a big hit, I have doubled the recipe and they've still been eaten!

5 lbs potatoes, cooked and mashed
1 (8 0z) pkg cream cheese
1 c sour cream
1/2 c milk
2 t garlic salt (you may want to add more, depending on how much you like the garlic taste!)
Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients. Mix well and place in a large, greased casserole dish. If making ahead, refrigerate. Otherwise, cover and bake 325 degrees for 45 minutes (If refrigerated, let stand 30 minutes at room temp. then bake as directed.)
Makes 6-8 servings.

Fun Turkeys

MIke and I are the Nursery Leaders in our ward. We are in charge of the Sr. Nursery too. These are the snacks I made for Nursery tomorrow. The kids will love them. Its fudge striped shortbread cookies, mini reeses pieces, candy corn, graham crackers and chocolate frosting to glue it together. You may think it looks like a lot and it is, there are 15 turkeys, we actually have 18 names on the roll (for sr. nursery alone). We generally have between 10 and 12 show up, but just in case there's more I'm prepared.


Pink Fluff

I've never actually had this as a Thanksgiving side dish, but it is yummy and I'm taking it this year to Thanksgiving.

1 small pkg. strawberry jello
1 small pkg. cook and serve vanilla pudding
1 small pkg. cook and serve tapioca pudding
fresh cut strawberries (i'm using frozen)
12-16 oz. cool whip

Mix jello and puddings with 3 cups boiling water. Let cool until firm. Beat jello mixture, add cool whip and strawberries.


If you're wondering why in the world I changed the blog colors from pinks and blues to boring browns and blues that probably means you can't see the really cute background I put on a couple days ago. This is because the creator of the background is redoing some things and so she took some of her backgrounds down. For some reason you can still see this one on some computers... I can see it on Brian's laptop but not on my home computer... I have no idea why. So if you don't mind, let me know if you can see the background or if it's just white.
And it should be fixed soon.

Sausage Cranberry Stuffing

I make this yummy sweet-savory stuffing every year. I got it from Allrecipes, but adapted it to fit my family's tastes.

5 cups bread cubes
1 pound ground sausage
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
2 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
3/4 cup turkey stock
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degree F (175 degree C). Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes in the preheated oven, or until evenly toasted. Transfer toasted bread cubes to a large bowl.
In a large skillet, cook the sausage and onions over medium heat, stirring and breaking up the lumps until evenly browned. Add the celery, sage, rosemary, and thyme; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes to blend flavors.
Pour sausage mixture over bread in bowl. Mix in dried cranberries and parsley. Drizzle with turkey stock and melted butter, and mix lightly. Spoon into turkey to loosely fill or bake in a 9x13 inch pan for more crunchy stuffing.


Sinfully Rich Sweet Potatoes

This is my favorite Thanksgiving side dish. My aunt used to make this every year and ever since we stopped having dinner with them I've made sure someone else or myself was making the sweet potatoes this way. If you like sweet potatoes you'll love this, if you don't like sweet potatoes maybe this will change your mind! :)

Sinfully Rich Sweet Potatoes

Potato Mixture:
3 c mashed sweet potatoes (use fresh sweet potatoes and boil or microwave)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c butter
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 c sugar

Mix together and put into greased casserole dish.

1 c coconut
1 c brown sugar
1 c pecans, chopped
1/3 c butter

Mix together and spread over potato mixture. Bake at 375 until browned (maybe 20-30 min).

Some of our favorite Indoor activities

This is in regard to the Cabin Fever post. One of our favorite indoor things to do is to build a fort with lots of blankets then we bring in books and toys and a flashlight and read and play. Sometimes we'll even watch a movie and eat popcorn. Another favorite is to have a picnic in the family room, of course on a blanket. We'll also turn up the music and have a dance!! Both the girls love it.


Cabin Fever?

With many of us dreading the impending arrival of the long winter, I thought we could talk about our favorite indoor activities for kids. Since there are only so many times you can pull out the coloring, what do you like to do with your kids to keep them from being bored when they have stay inside?

Google Reader

I know you girls are hipper than me when it comes to blogs, but I just found out about Google Reader and I thought I'd share how much easier it is to check out blogs. It's nice, because you list the blogs you're interested in and then it works like gmail to show you which ones have new entries. This way you don't have to click through each blog you like to see if there are any new postings. There are a few drawbacks, however, you don't get to see everyones' cute pages (it just lists text, videos, and pictures) and it doesn't work for private blogs. But, despite these negatives, I think it will make my blog addiction a little easier to manage!t



So I would just like to say that Brielle is a wonderful baby!  I am sitting here in my bed, waiting for her to get up.  (Normally I would still be sleeping, but I am at my in-laws' house taking care of my two sisters-in-law and they have to get up early for school!)  Anyway, this is the 3rd night that Brielle has gone 12 hours at night!!!! Woo hoo!!  She goes to bed between 7:30-8:00 and hasn't woken up until about 7:30 am.  It's wonderful.  Now if only I could find a way to be able to go to sleep when she does...


Fudgy Bonbons

Ok I already posted a recipe for the week but I made these for an activity today and got a few requests to put up the recipe. So here it is.

Fudgy Bonbons-
12 oz pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
2 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla
60 Hershey hugs or kisses

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan combine chocolate chips and butter. Stir over very low heat until chips are melted and smooth. Add milk. Mix well. Combine flour, chocolate mixture, and vanilla. Cover hugs/kisses completely with the dough. Place one inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Back at 350 degrees for 7-10 min. Best when served right out of the oven.
You can also melt some white baking bar with shortening and drizzle it over the cookies to add a pretty touch.

* You can experiment with the inside candy. I think hugs are the best but I experimented with carmel kisses today and they were good but a lot of the carmel seeped out while they were in the oven. Bridget gave me a good idea though and next time I'm going to try them with Reese's peanut butter cup miniatures!


Countertops part 2

As requested here is a picture. It might look intimidating to go around the sink but it really wasn't that hard. I just stuck down the strip and then took a razor blade and trimmed along the edges of the countertop and sink. I thought this project was easier than any wallpapering I've ever done.

Undercover Countertops

I got this idea from someone in my student ward at BYU and I did it when we moved here and so far it's lasted so I thought I'd pass along the idea since a lot of us on this blog are in apartments where replacing your countertops isn't an option.

A lot of you have been to my apartment and seen our countertops. What you might not have noticed is that the blue gray pattern is not what my countertops actually look like. When we moved in they were an ugly faded yellow color. Rather than stare at those for the next 5+ years I covered them up with contact paper! It cost me probably $10 and a couple hours sticking it down and I then had countertops that I really like and that match the kitchen decorations I already had. It is a lot easier if you find a pattern that you can overlap without it being obvious on the seams but if you find a good one then it's really not that hard, and so worth it! We've lived here for over 3 years and I think it still looks good!


We have a WHAT in the house?

Okay, I'm admittedly a little hysterical about this, but there is a definitely possibility that we have a mouse in our house! AHHHH! For some reason I can handle any kind of bug, spider, even snakes (to touch, not in the house), but mice seem so gross to me! I went into our storage room in our basement yesterday and almost a whole large bag of kissables was eaten, half a bag of chocolate chips, and a bag of tortilla chips was ripped open on top. Yes, we have healthy food in our storage room too, but evidently this critter likes the junk. Does anyone have expertise in this area? I've never had an infestation problem since we've been married and am hoping that it's not actually a mouse. Could it be something else? Justin is going to set traps over Thanksgiving, but now I just don't want to go get anything out of our storage room - yuck!

Nature Walk

One of Mikelle's favorite things to do right now is go on nature walks. We walk around our complex and she finds leaves of different colors and sizes, pine needles along with pine cones. Then she loves to glue them on construction paper and hang them on the fridge and show them off to Dad when he gets home. It was so fun and kept her occupied while I made dinner.


Chicken Shredding

Okay, here's the scoop. I had a couple people ask me about when I cook chicken in my crockpot so here's what I do:

I buy a HUGE bag of frozen chicken breasts at Costco, and I hate getting the big bag out of the freezer where it is tucked so nicely every time we have chicken. Plus, cooking frozen chicken is a long process and I'm all about simplicity.

Then, I put like 5 or 6 breasts in my crockpot and pour like 1/4 c. of water over it, just to moisten the tops. Then sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and a little dehydrated onion.

Cook it until it is done, it usually takes about 5-6 hours on low in my crockpot, but I know everyone's may be different. When it is done, it is so moist and juicy that most of the time, I have to scoop it out of my crockpot because it won't stay on a fork.... so, scoop it out and just shred away with a knive and a fork. My sister has a friend who swears the best way to shred chicken from the crockpot, like this, is to use your (electric) hand mixer - just stick it in the crockpot and turn it on and it does all the shredding for you. I've never tried this, so if you do, let us know how it works out.

Once it is all shredded, I just put it in small snack or sandwich size ziplocs and freeze it again. Then.... I use it for EVERYTHING and it is quick! My favorite things to use it for are: pizza topping, enchilada filling (just add it to the sauce), chicken stir fry, Cassi's chicken roll-ups, etc.... you get the picture. So, how was that for a LONG wordy post on the simplest thing ever?

PS - I also buy a huge thing of hamburger from Costco and cook all that before I freeze it- it honestly saves me a ton of time. Plus, all you have to do when you want to use it, is dump it into whatever you are doing, or season it for tacos or whatever. I LOVE it - it makes great quick meals

Quick and Easy!

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

2 packages (18-1/4 oz each) devil's food cake mix
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs

1 packages (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

In mixing bowl, combine the cake mixes, oil and eggs; mix well. Roll into 1-in. balls. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Do not flatten. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks (cookies will flatten as they cool). In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth. Spread on the bottom of half of the cookies; top with remaining cookies. Store in the refrigerator. They also freeze well!

These cookies are so good! I normally cut the recipe in half and don't even make the filling. I then break them over ice cream, add some caramel and it is the best dessert ever!

Graham Gems

This is one of my most favorite desserts! I've never met anyone who didn't love them. And they're pretty easy too. They do stick to the pan though so make sure you really grease and flour it!

Graham Gems
18 graham cracker squares (9 of the full rectangles) or 1 1/2 C crumbs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
6oz pkg chocolate chips
nuts (optional)

Crush crackers into crumbs. Add milk, vanilla and chocolate chips and stir together. Bake in greased and floured 9" square pan for 30 min at 325 degrees. Cute while hot. Chill before eating.


Gobble Gobble Gobble

We made this turkey with Kara the other night and it was really fun! I love that it uses both her hands and her feet. I have never been good at crafts like this but this one was really fun!

Snicker Apple Salad

I love this simple salad, it is perfect for taking to pot lucks and church outings. I like the sweet from the chocolate and the tart from the apples. Not real heavy.

Snicker Apple Salad

10 granny smith apples
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 bag snack sized snickers plus 2 king sized snicker bars
1 large container of whipped topping

1. Chop apples into bite sized chunks. Pour lemon juice over them so they do not brown.
2. Chop snickers bars up into similar sized pieces.
3. Combine apples, snickers and whipped topping into a large bowl. Mix to coat well.

Makes one large salad

Crushed pineapple may be added to this salad

Better late than never!

Okay, I'm trying to redeem myself. I never got around to posting a recipe for last week's ingredient, so I'm going to do both last week's and this weeks. Too bad you can't really put chicken and chocolate together!


Lately, my favorite thing to do with shredded chicken is make pizza. I cook a bunch of chicken in my crockpot, shred it, and then freeze it. So when I do pizza, I just make the crust (or use store bought), and then spread it with BBQ sauce, shredded chicken, cheese, green onions, black beans, corn, and usually more cheese. Then bake it and enjoy - my whole family LOVES this pizza and it's good for you!!

Chocolate Pudding Cake - this is to die for!
(It looks intense, but it is very easy. The recipe is from Family Fun, so it is written so kids could easily follow it. Also, I'm not a soggy food fan, and I know at first glance you think this will be a soggy cake, but it really does take the shape of pudding... not sog - if you know what I mean. It really is a hit!)

1 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups boiling water

1. Generously grease a 9-inch square cake pan with butter. (You can also use a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan, provided that the sides measure at least 2 inches high.) Heat the oven to 350° F.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, 2 tablespoons of the cocoa powder, the baking powder, and the salt.
3. In a medium-size bowl, stir the remaining 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder into the brown sugar. Rub the mixture with your fingers, breaking up any sugar lumps, until evenly combined. Set the bowl aside.
4. Make a well in the flour mixture. Add the egg, milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Whisk the liquids to blend them, then briskly stir the entire mixture, pulling the dry ingredients in from the sides to make a uniform batter. 5. Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and spread it evenly with a spoon. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the batter. Then spread all of the brown sugar mixture evenly over the top.
6. Slowly pour the boiling water over the batter. Place the pan on the center rack and bake the cake for 30 minutes. When it's done, the cake will be baked through, but there will be a thick layer of chocolate pudding at the bottom. Because this is difficult to check with a toothpick, it's best to rely on time to determine when the cake is finished.
7. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let it cool for about 10 minutes before serving. You can cut the cake into squares or slices, or simply spoon it out of the baking dish. Serve topped with whipped cream or ice cream. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Christine Archibald

Hi, I am probably the last one to introduce myself! I am Christine Archibald am married to Kent and we have an adorable 22 mo old named Ian. We used to live in chilly Minnesota but moved about 6 months ago to Charlottesville Virginia after Kent graduated from the University of Minnesota Dental School.

We have really enjoyed Virginia so far but there are many things and people that we miss in Minnesota. I think Kent is having Hockey withdrawals!

I grew up in San Jose, CA, got an Industrial Design degree from BYU, served a Spanish speaking mission in New York City and eventually found myself working in Minnesota where I met Kent in the singles ward. We were married in the Salt Lake Temple and settled in Minnesota. I worked at Target Corporate Headquarters for 3 years designing products for the Target stores. It was a blast to work for them! I mostly worked on their kids bedding and furniture aisles along with bath furniture and accessories. After having Ian I decided to quit and become a freelance designer from home. Thanks to you girls who watched Ian for me while I worked! Freelancing has been great and was easy to move. I haven't done too many projects since we have moved because I have become consumed with my house.

We bought a house here in Charlottesville that needed a lot of work. Here is how the house looks now after some exterior love. We have officially painted every inch of this house: ceilings, doors, trim, walls, everything. I think before the seller put the house on the market they came in with cheap yellow paint and sprayed the entire interior yellow. I like yellow but with beige trim and doors and cream ceilings it looked hot, dirty, and outdated! It is amazing how you can improve a room with fresh paint. We have also laid some tile, replaced light fixtures, and updated some things in the kitchen and baths. We are done for awhile, thank goodness! I felt like I couldn't really move in fully with the house torn up.

Ian is the best little boy ever! He is really shy sometimes and quiet. He is starting to say words but sometimes they are hard to understand. He loved Thomas the train and has a train table that we bought from our neighbor. His latest thing is wanting to help with everything, painting, sweeping, unloading the dishwasher, etc. He is very sweet natured, I am a lucky girl.
I love being a mom too but I definitely struggle at times. I appreciate all of your posts and enthusiasm! At this point the thought of having a second is overwhelming, not that I am announcing anything! I look forward to posting more things and learning from all of you experienced moms!


Crayon in the Dryer!

Ok, so I was going to wait to do the first "tricks of the trade" post until next week when I had a list of people and knew if anyone even wanted to do it but that was before I dried 2 loads of laundry in my dryer with a green crayon!!!! So I'm going to go ahead and do the first one now in hopes that someone will give me a good idea. So keep letting me know if you want to be on the list to ask questions and in the meantime...

How do you get crayon out of clothes?


Sorry, getting to this a little late! My name is Erika and I am a stay at home mother of four kids: Tanner -5, Taylor -5, Raylee -2, Brendan -5 months.
Things are always crazy here, and that's partly due to my overachieving personality! I have been married to my love Trent for over 6 years now and we live in Mesa, AZ. Trent just finished up his Civil Engineering degree last year and now I am going back to school for my nursing degree. I hope to someday, when my kids are all much older, be a Labor & Delivery nurse. For now, I just enjoy the challenge of learning something new. We should always be trying to learn something. I have lots of hobbies that I don't have time for, like scrapbooking, sewing, crafting, tennis and decorating. Cassi and I were friends during high school, Go Tigers, until she ditched me for Brian and snowy winters! (That's ok, I found a new best friend right around that same time and he's not going anywhere!)
My biggest challenges are being patient with my kids, taking time out for me, and keeping up with my homework. I may not get to the blog as often as I'd like, but I'm glad I could participate with other young mommies. That's it for me!

Tricks of the Trade

Wow, thanks for all the great intros! Almost everyone posted one already!

We also had a good idea suggested to us about having some sort of advice giving posts. I've been trying to think of a crafty way to do this since I think it's a great idea too. So here's what I thought of but if anyone has a better suggestion to make it work let me know.
I thought we could have a weekly "Tricks of the Trade" post. This will be a short post just asking any kind of parenting question. Then anyone who wants to can answer the question with your tips, tricks, or advice in the comments (or feel free to do a post if you have more than just a comment). Since I'm sure everyone has questions I thought this might work out best if we take turns with the posts, but I don't want anyone to feel like they have to do it either. So, if you want to have a turn let me know in the comments to this post and I'll take those names and we'll just rotate.
Does that sound like something you would be interested in? Is weekly too often? We could do it biweekly or even monthly instead. If you have any better suggestions let me know.

Also, we've been putting links to our personal blogs/websites on the side. If you want yours linked let me know. Thanks everyone!


What we are in for!

This is the best description of what we are in for. My Mother-in-law sent in to me and I loved it!

Salsa Chicken

Hi, this is my first post. I am new to the blog world so bare with me. Thanks for all of the great recipes and ideas! You moms are amazing.

Here is the easiest chicken recipe ever! The best part of it is that it is cooked in one skillet. It is a new family favorite thanks to Molly and Geoff.

1 lb Chicken cubed
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black pepper
1 14.5oz Can chicken broth
1 8oz Jar salsa
2 Cups Instant rice
8oz Shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet over Med. High heat, brown the cubed chicken in oil, salt, and pepper. Cook until juices run clear. Add broth and salsa and bring to a boil. Once liquids are boiling, turn heat off, and stir in instant rice. Sprinkle top with cheese. Cover and let sit for 5 min. Serve!


Herbed Chicken Fettuccine

This is SO good! I love pretty much all pasta, but this is probably my favorite thing that I cook. It looks harder than it is, so definitely give it a try!

1 to 2 t. seasoned salt
1 t. poultry seasoning (I've never actually used this ingredient)
1 lb. diced chicken breasts
2 t. olive oil
4 T. butter (divided)
2/3 c. water
2 T teriyaki sauce
2 T onion soup mix
1 envelope Savory Herb with Garlic Soup Mix (Lipton)(divided)
8-12 oz. fettuccine
2 T Parmesan cheese
1 T worchestire sauce

Combine seasoned salt and poultry seasoning, sprinkle over chicken. Saute chicken in oil and 2 T butter for 5 minutes. Add water, teriyaki sauce, onion soup mix and 2 T herb and garlic soup mix. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer (covered) for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook fettuccine and drain. Add pasta to chicken mixture. Add cheese, worchestire sauce, remaining butter, and remaining herb and garlic soup mix. Toss to coat.

**We also love this pasta with the Lipton's Onion and Mushroom Soup Mix instead of the Herb and Garlic. Both are delicious! I also love these soup mixes to cook mixed vegetables (tossed with olive oil) in the oven for 30 minutes at 350. Yummm!


Chicken Taco Soup

Here is my chicken recipe. This is one of Brian's favorite meals and that means a lot because he usually does not like soup at all. Plus it's really easy, you just throw everything in the pot!

Chicken Taco Soup

4 boneless cooked chicken breast diced or shredded
1 small chopped onion
1 small can chopped green chili
2 cloves of garlic
2 T vegetable oil
1 quart canned tomato juice
1 can beef broth
1 ½ C water
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin

Combine and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Then add pkg of frozen corn. Serve with tortilla chips and grated cheese

Cookies, cookies, cookies!

Okay, I told Cassi I wasn't going to post for a while (so it didn't turn into a Bridget blog!), but someone just sent this to me and I thought it was definitely fun. It might especially come in handy for all of the holiday baking ahead and all of the pounds I plan on gaining! Yummm, Christmas food!

Just click on the name of the cookie and the recipe is there.
1-2-3 Cookies 7 Layer Cookies Allie Nelson's Famous Snickerdoodle Cookies Almond Crescent Shortbread Amish Sugar Cookies Andies Candies Cookies Angel Crisps Angenets Applesauce Cookies Apricot Fold-Overs Aunt Edy's Molasses Crinkles Auntie Linda's Ginger Gems Bakeless Dream Cookies Banana Drop Cookies Best Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World Biscotti Biscotti Blueberry Cookies Boiled Chocolate Oatmeal Drop Cookies Bronwnies Brown Sugar Shortbread Brownie Cookies Brownie Delight Brownies Buccaneer Snowballs Buried Cherry Cookies Butter Cookies Butter Nut Balls Butterballs Butterscotch Haystacks C.O.P. Cookies Candy Cane Cookies Candy CookiesCaramel Shortbread Cheesecake Brownies Cherry Buns Cherry Crowns Cherry Winks Chewies Chewy Noels Chinese Chews/Haystacks Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars Chocolate Chip Cookies Chocolate Chip Meltaways Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies Chocolate Christmas Trees Chocolate Cream Cheese Squares Chocolate Crinkles Chocolate Mint Snow-Top Cookies Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (no bake) Chocolate Snowball Cookies Chocolate Streusel BarsChocolate Sundae Cookies Chocolate Walnut Crumb Bars Choco-Scotch Crunchies Choose A Cookie Dough RecipeChristmas Crackers Christmas Crunch Bars Christmas Ginger Snaps Christmas Macaroons Christmas Mice CookiesChristmas Shaped Cookies Church Window Cookies Coconut Cookies Congo Squares Cookie in a Jar Corn Flakes Cookies Cornflake Christmas Wreaths Cowboy Cookies (oatmeal) Cream Cheese Cookies with Apricot Filling Cr??me De Menthe Chocolate Squares Cr??me Wafers Crescent Cookies Crispy Crunchies Date Nut Balls Date-nut Pinwheel Cookies Diabetic Peanut Butter Cookies Disgustingly Rich Brownies Doodles Double chocolate chip cookies Double-Chocolate Crinkles Eatmore Cookies Eggnog Cookies Elizabeth's Sugar Cookies Elves Quick Fudge Brownies Emily Dickinson's Gingerbread Cookie Recipe Emily's Best Brownies Famous Oatmeal Cookies Firemen Cookies Fluffy Shortbread Cookies Forgotten Cookies Frosted Peanut Butter Brownies Fruit Cake Cookies Fruitcake Squares Fry Pan Cookies Gems Ginger Cookies Ginger Crinkles Gingerbread Baby Gingerbread Cookies with Butter Cream IcingGingerbread Men Gingerbread Men Ginny's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies Glory's Golden Graham SquaresGlory's Sugar Cookies Gramma Chapman's chocolate coconut drops Grandma Elsie's Zimt (cinnamon) CookiesGrandma J's Butter Cookies Grandma Olson's Parkay Cookies Great Grandmothers Sugar Cookies Gum Drop CookiesGumdrop Gems Haystack Cookies Ho-Ho Bars Holiday Cereal Snaps Holiday Chocolate Butter Cookies Holiday Raisin Walnut Bars Holly Cookies Hungarian Cookies (Little Nut Rolls) Ice Box Cookies Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies Italian Cookies Jacob's Peppermint Snowballs Jam Bars Jessica's Famous Brownies Jessie's Chocolate Chip Cookies Jubilee Jumbles Juliet's Peanut Butter Blossoms Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies Kentucky Colonels Kiefle (cream cheese cookies with jam filling) Kifflings Kiss Cookies Lacy Swedish Almond Wafers Lemon Angel Bar Cookies Lemon Bars Lemon Cake Cookies Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies Lemon Squares Linzer Tarts Log Cabin Cookies Luscious Lemon Squares M&M Cookies Magic Cookie Bars Melt in Your Mouth Cutout Sugar Cookies Melting Shortbread Meme's Cream Cheese Cookies Milk Chocolate Florentine Cookies Mincemeat Cookies Mincemeat GoodiesMolasses Cookies Molasses Forest Cookies Molasses Sugar Cookies Mom Mom's Crescent Cookies Mom-Mom's Ginger Cookies Mom's Nutmeg Sugar Cookies Mom's Old Fashion "Puffy" Sugar Cookies Monster Cookies Moravian Christmas Cookies Nana's Famous Soft Southern Cookies Nitey Nite Cookies No Bake Chocolate Cookies No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies No Bake Cookies No Bake Cookies No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies No-Bake Cookies Norwegian Sugar Cookies Nut Balls Oatmeal Bars Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Nut Cookies Oatmeal Coconut Crisps Oatmeal Cookies Oatmeal Scotchies Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies Ooey Gooey Caramel Chocolate Dunk Ooey Gooey Squares Orange Slice Cookies Parking Lot Cookies Peanut Blossoms Peanut Butter Bars Peanut Butter Blossoms Peanut Butter Cereal Cookies Peanut Butter Chewies Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars Peanut Butter Cookies Peanut Butter Cookies Peanut butter fingers Peanut Butter Reindeer Peanut Butter Surprises Peanut Marshmallow Cookies Pecan Puff Cookies Peppermint Snowballs Peppernuts Persimmon CookiesPersimmon Cookies Petey's Yummy Spicy Almond Thins Pfeffernuesse Pffefferneuse Cookies Pineapple Filled Cookies Pizzelles Potato Chip Cookies Potato Flake Cookies Praline Cookies Praline Strips Pterodactyl Nests Pumpkin Bars Pumpkin Bars Pumpkin Chip Cookies Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies Pumpkin Cookies Queen BiscuitsQuick Cookies Raised Sugar Cookies Raisin Filled Oatmeal Bars Raspberry Meringue Bars Really Peanutty Butter Cookies Reese`s Brownies Reese's Peanut Butter Bars Rich Flavor Christmas Cookies Rich Lemon Bars Ricotta Cheese Cookies Royal Almond Christmas Bars Rudolph Cinnamon Cookies Russian Tea Cookies Russian TeacakesSamantha & Kelsey's Chocolate Chip Cookies Sand Art Brownies Santa Claus Cookie Pops Santa Claus Cookies Santa's Butterscotch Melts Santa's Shorts Santa's Special Squares Scotch Cakes Scotch Shortbread Scotcharoos ScotcheroosSeven Layer Cookies Short Bread Cookies Shortbread Skor Squares Snicker Doodle Cookies SnickerdoodlesSnickerdoodles Snow Balls Sour Cream Apple Squares Sour Cream Christmas Cookies Special K Cookies Spice Cookies Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Spritz Cookies Stained Glass Window Cookies Stir & Drop Sugar Cookies Sugar Cookies Sugar Cookies Sugar Cookies Swedish Pepparkakor (Pepper Cake) Cookies Swedish Sugar Cookies Sweet Marie's Swiss Treats Taralle (Italian Cookies) Tea Time Tassies Texas Brownies The Best Shortbread in The WorldThumbprint Cookies Thumbprint Cookies Toffee Squares Traditional Christmas Sugar Cookies Traditional Gingerbread Men Cookies Triple-Chocolate Chip Cookies Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies Vanilla Waffer BallsWalnut Butter Cookies Walnut Crumb Bars White Chip Chocolate Cookies Wild Oatmeal Cookies Will's Famous Apple Jack Cookies Yummy Yummy Peanut Butter Blossoms