Ingredient of the month: Cream of Chicken Soup

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Well this is a REALLY late "about us" question for March! But with Easter this weekend I thought it would be fun to hear how everyone celebrates Easter. So what do you do to make the day special?


The joke is on...

I need some help! In 9 1/2 years of marriage I have rarely pulled off a good April Fools prank on my husband and I would love to actually surprise him. However, part of the problem is my lack of creativity in this department. Does anyone have some great ideas to get your hubbies on April Fools?

Tricks of the Trade.... How do you.....?

Get your kids to pick up after themselves???? Maybe this question has already been asked, but we are seriously struggling with the masses of toys around our house. I thought that having a bigger home (when I say bigger, I mean bigger than my 900 sq. foot apt. of 3 years) with a basement would keep all the toys and mess a little more out of the way. However, if I had a dollar for every time I've stepped on a little toy and wanted to throw it away, I'd be a rich woman. We just have toys everywhere and I've tried and tried to get my 4 year old to pick up after himself. He refuses to do so, even when I take toys away, or THROW them away, which I've done, several times. Now when I ask him to pick up he just says "It's okay mom, you can just throw it away." I know he loves his toys, but I want him to know he has to pick them up when he's done. Our basement looks like a tornado came through and emptied every box of toys we own. When it comes to cleaning the basement, he'll help, only if my hubby or me are doing it with him. Which is fine to a point, but he's the one who made the mess so I feel like he should be cleaning it up.

What do I do?..... hire a maid? throw out all the toys? be the mean mom who only lets him play with ONE thing at a time? no allow the toys upstairs? give him some sort of reward for cleaning up the toys? I HAVE NO IDEA.


March Craft - Gel Stain/furniture repurpose

This month's craft is kind of a cheater craft. I don't even know if it fits into the "craft" category, but it is a new technique that I just learned and have been playing around with a lot! And.... it's FUN! When my dad was here visiting for several weeks, he built me a table. This cute little table sits in our breakfast nook, and is just what I wanted. We got the wood from the lumber yard and before I painted it, it was just regular wood, nothing fancy or expensive. We were thinking about using our table with a cute black bench that I have, but ended up moving the bench. I tell you that because that was the whole reason I learned how to use Gel Stain.

Gel Stain can be found at home depot, by the paint and stain section. It comes in a variety of colors (or shades). We chose a cherry/mahogany stain, in order to match our other piece of furniture.

So.... here's what you do with gel stain:

1. take any piece of wood furniture, sand it to it's original wood. This is my least favorite part, but sometimes you have to do it. Or if you're lucky, whatever you are dealing with might already be in just the wood form (like unfinished frames, letters, boxes, etc.)

2. Paint your piece, whatever color you like. I did my table with black, semi-gloss paint. I also used gel stain and paint, with a shelf and magnet board for my boy's room. The shelf and magnet board I painted a light turquoise color (pics coming soon, but babies are sleeping at the moment, and I forgot to snap a couple while they were awake). So you can do any color of paint you'd like, just think about how it will look with the stain over top.
3. After you paint it, let it dry completely. Once it is dry, take a little sanding pad or block, or electric sander ( I highly recommend owning one of these, we have used ours A LOT, it was 30$), and start sanding in spots. I like to do the edges and the places where you would see natural wear and tear.

4. After you are done sanding, clean off your surface, and get ready to do the gel stain! To do the gel stain, you just follow the directions on the can.... but here's my two cents.
*wear gloves if you have some, I didn't and I had to go to church with brown stained fingers and finger nails
*use a "non" porous rag, not a washcloth, it will just soak up the stain.
*start staining! You are going to "rub" stain over the ENTIRE piece of furniture, paying close attention to the sanded spots. Once you stain the whole piece, you're DONE! Just let it dry well!

I can't wait to experiment a little more with gel stain. It was so simple and really adds another dimension to your furniture or project. We found a 10$ dresser on craigslist that I painted turquoise for the boy's room and I'm planning on antiquing it a little with our gel stain. It comes in a white-ish color that I think would look really pretty under some blue, green, or yellow paint. It gives your furniture an antique or weathered look. Our mahogany stain looks REALLY pretty and vintage looking with our blue shelf in the boy's room. I'll put up some pictures, pronto!

Enjoy, have fun, and PLEASE share if you do a craft or project with gel stain!!


Product Review: Pendants and more

Occasionally on Mommy Diaries we test products or review websites to see if it is something worth your time or money. Coincidentally we've been asked to review a jewelry site which fits nicely with this weeks Tricks of the Trade Question! If you would like us to review your product please email

It really is amazing how jewelry can make us feel and look prettier outside of our normal mommy wear and tear. We were contacted by LuShae Jewelry and received a very generous pair of dangly (and fancy!) earrings. I received several comments from people throughout the day of how pretty they were. That's the best review if you ask me. I was surprised that people went out of their way to comment on my earrings.

The LuShae site is very easy to maneuver and has many different styles to meet every one's needs. The earrings I ordered arrived very quickly after I ordered them in a very classy case. They are a great quality as well. I also enjoyed reading through the Jewelry guides on their site and found the information very helpful.

However, when it comes to jewelry I am a cheapskate and I found their prices to be higher than I would be willing to pay. It would be a good site to pass along to your husbands for those special occasions (anniversaries, birthdays, etc.) I was also disappointed that some of their jewelry was not currently in stock.

It's definitely worth taking a peek at their site to see if there is anything that you like! We'll link to them on our sidebar with the label "Pendants."


Tricks of the Trade: Up-Keep

It's not my week I don't think, but since we haven't had a new Tricks of the Trade for awhile I'm not feeling to guilty about stepping up.


I'm a mom of four now. Life is busy around my house and I rarely get five minutes to myself (outside of the shower). So, as you can imagine, my appearance has taken a turn for the worst.

What are some quick easy tricks you ladies use to keep yourself looking tip top?

Scrumdiddley :)

Every So often, my family gets together to have family dinner... we kids are all in the area of mom and dad so it isn't too far to drive to get there. We usually plan what we want to have and then decide who is going to bring what! This week we are having poppy seed chicken and I was put in charge of dessert. My mom told me to do something fancy and so I love recipe blogs and heart this one so I went there and found this Turtle Cheesecake...... and I just have to say that it was AMAZING!!!! I have never made homemade cheesecake and it is SUPER easy to make! DO IT!!! you will love it! yummy!


Easy Peasy Craft

What is needed?

-Blocks from your child's toy box.

-Scrap-booking letters. The big kind. (I got mine in this big book of paper letters at Wal-Mart... I use them for everything, totally worth buying)

-Some thick wire.

-Some ribbon, it can be the ugliest ribbon on earth, no one's going to see it.

-Oh, and Mod-Podge.


1.Mod-podge the letters to the blocks. Then sand edges if you want to have that rougher look.

2. Take the drill and put some holes into the tops of some of the blocks... use the size just smaller than the size of you wire.

3. Twist the wire around, making sure the end is sort of a flat spiral (like you would draw on paper). The spiral is what will hold the photo, so maybe have a picture you don't care about around to test it on.

4. When the Mod-Podge is dry take your hot glue gun and glue the ribbon to the back of the blocks (making sure they are all at the same level so they'll stand... and leaving a little room between each block so you can move them around).

5. Stick the wires into the tops of the blocks and add pictures.

6. Move to an approved location and enjoy.

It's so easy you'll be up and running for your crafts as soon as you're done reading. Mwahahaha.


Honey Chicken

I got this recipe a few weeks ago and have already made this chicken 3 times!  My kids LOVE it and it's SO easy!

Honey Chicken
1/2 C honey
1/2 C melted butter
1/4 C mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
Mix together and pout over an 8x8in pan full of chicken breasts.  Bake on 350 for 50-60 min or until chicken is cooked through.  Serve on rice.

I have to double this for my family and use a 9x13 pan of chicken, and I use chicken tenders instead of chicken breasts.

What's that "Curry" taste?

Girls- I am NOT good with curry! The one and only time I was brave enough to use it, it was a DISASTER! And that was in 2008. Help a girl out! I am desperately afraid to cook with curry but I really really like the flavor.

So, what's good with curry these days?


New Button!

Mommy Diaries

Some of you might have noticed our new button!!
Thanks to one of our creative mommies, Chalece, we now have a super cute brand new button. And if it breaks again we'll be able to fix it right away!
So everyone go change your codes to the new one on the left sidebar!


Sweet and Sour Chicken

I love this recipe. It is easily one of my favorite dinners and it is pretty easy to make. The first time you make it, you might want some help just because they are so many things going on at once. After one time of needing help while I made it, I was ready to make it by myself. It has a great taste but be careful about breathing in the sauce while it is cooking on the stove. It is pretty pungent stuff.

This dinner also reheats pretty well, so I make extras and my husband takes it to work the next day for lunch.

This meal is easiest made in an electric skillet.

Chicken Ingredients :
2- 3 lbs of chicken
3 eggs
Cut chicken into pieces. Make a bowl of cornstarch and add a little bit of garlic salt. Make a bowl of the eggs whisked. Dips the chicken into the eggs and then into the cornstarch. Put in at pan at 375 , pretty hot with oil. Brown in sections, set aside on paper towel. Add oil each time each time you add a new batch.

Sauce –

3 cups of sugar

1 ½ c. vinegar

1 ½ c. chicken broth (or water and a bouillon cube)

3 tbs ketchup

3 tbs soy sauce

3 teaspoons garlic salt

Simmer 5-10 minutes

Turn down electric to 240

Pour liquid in pan

Stir in thickening of 2-3 tablespoons cornstarch with water, then stir in pan.(in a thickening all you do is add the right amount of cornstarch and then add enough water to make a small paste. This will help thicken your sauce up.)


Books and More Books

We love reading in our family and one of my personal favorite things for my oldest daughter (5 years) is audio books. She loves to listen to them during nap time for the other siblings, and lets just say this makes for a much happier family! So, when I was trying to find some new ones for her to listen to I stumbled on this find... at first I wasn't sure she would enjoy it, but it has been a really fun read for everyone in our family. It has cute, short stories teaching great skills like making your own fun or making a plan and then has good ideas for parents at the end of each lesson to reinforce the principles. I am planning on using some of the stories for FHE lessons, so I thought that I'd just pass it along if any of you are looking for a really good book for your family.

And on another note, I have an amazing friend, Allyson Condie, who is an author and has just released the novel Being Sixteen.
Since I never will be famous, I have to live vicariously - so keep your eyes on this one because her novel that is coming out this fall, Matched, is being said to be the next big phenomena and is being compared to Twilight. Anyone else have any good reading finds?


Tomato and Spinach Pasta Toss

I know that this one doesn't have chicken in it, but I've been meaning to put this up. This is currently my husband's FAVORITE meal. It has been a hit with everyone we've shared it with. You have to try this.

Tomato and Spinach Pasta Toss

12 oz Italian Sausage
6 oz baby spinach leaves
2 1/2 c rotini pasta
2 T Parmesan cheese, grated
1 c mozzarella cheese, grated
14-20 oz diced tomatoes, Italian style

Brown sausage in large nonstick skillet. Drain grease, lower heat, then add tomatoes and spinach to the meat. Heat until spinach is wilted.

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain water.

Add meat mixture and pasta together. Stir, and add both cheeses just before serving. Toss just until mixed through.

Be prepared to be wowed. This stuff is so good. And it's really yummy as leftovers because the noodles absorb the sauce. Oh man, good!!

Szechuan Chicken Noodle Toss

I just made this for my family a couple days ago and we all loved it. Plus it was really easy, so I loved it even more.

Szechuan Chicken Noodle Toss

4 quarts of water
6 oz thin spaghetti
1 pkg (16 oz) frozen oriental vegetables
1 T margarine
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 T canola oil
1/3 c stir fry sauce
3 green onions, chopped

Bring water to a boil, add spaghetti; cook for 4 minutes, then add veggies; cook 3-4 min longer until spaghetti and veggies are tender. Drain. Toss with margarine; set aside and keep warm.

In nonstick skillet, stir-fry the chicken, garlic and red pepper flakes in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add stir fry sauce; heat through. Add onions and spaghetti mixture; toss to coat.

Yield: 4 servings


The Gift of an Ordinary Day

Probably some of you have watched this already, but I finally got around to it yesterday lets just say there was some crying involved. I love things that make me appreciate even more being a mom, so check it out...

The Gift of an Ordinary Day


Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe

This has been one very long winter, made longer by my energetic 4 year old being stuck at home all day every day. I am now convinced of at least this benefits of preschool: playtime with peers away from home. So, now that I am seriously considering looking for a preschool for the fall, how have you all gone about finding and selecting a preschool? What do you look for in a program and staff? What is a reasonable tuition? Will someone just do all of the work for me? And who wants to entertain my son until Spring?