Friday, September 30, 2016

Rewind Friday: Comfort Food

The high today is forecasted to be 69 glorious degrees. Can I get a Fall lovin' AMEN?! This entire week has been fairly amazing weather wise. We've hand some intense thunderstorms but that's par for the Ohio weather course this time of year. If I'm being totally honest, I actually love storms. Rain doesn't bother me one bit. But with raining days and cool evenings there is only one thing on my mind: comfort foods. For this month's Rewind Friday post, I want to share 5 Wife Mommy Me recipes that are so comforting you may want to change out of any and all pants that include zippers and buttons. So basically either stay in your pajamas or change into a fresh set and enjoy these meals.

As much as I'd like to pretend every meal I serve my family is a healthy good-for-you meal that's just not the truth. I do ATTEMPT to make things better for us but I would say at least 2-3 times a week we have true comfort foods. From breakfast and lunch to dinner and a sweet treat, I try to blend chicken, rice and veggies in with foods that remind you of being home with family during the Fall and Winter. Something about being tucked cozy indoors with your family enjoying a homemade meal full of calories makes me wish for cool evenings now. What can I say? I love to eat. Here are 5 meals that we love and enjoy on a regular basis. Omit or change ingredients as you'd like to fit your dietary needs.

Sausage Hash Brown Casserole
This serves a crowd and makes for a great breakfast to enjoy on Thanksgiving or Christmas morning. I don't think it heats up well but others enjoy it. I'm weird about eggs being reheated so I'd make this when you have 5-7 people you plan to feed.

Blueberry Muffins
These are a favorite of ours. They are perfect for when you have a busy morning with little time to have breakfast. Connor likes them which says a lot since he is such a picky eater (he gets that from me). You can switch the blueberries for strawberries and banana, too. It's a basic recipe that works well with many fruits.

Grown Up Grilled Cheese
Moment of truth: I could live off of grilled cheese and soup. I actually had it last evening for dinner. James was out and Connor asked for chicken fries so dinner was SIMPLE but delicious. The key to this grilled cheese is the garlic used. If garlic isn't your thing that's (sort of) okay. You can get the same result with the EVOO. Give it a try; it's amazing.

Taco Soup
Do you partake in Taco Tuesday? If so switch things up and make this soup. It's so filling and everyone loves it, husband included. This is a crock pot meal so you know how easy it is to throw together. The only thing you need to cook is the meat (I like using turkey). If you happen to have any leftover it makes for great leftovers for lunch the next day.

When cookie meets brownie you get this amazing thing called a brookie. Toss in some peanut butter and you've got yourself a buckeye brookie. In Ohio buckeyes are the go to treat during football season. This cookies are deliciously soft and hit the spot. They are simple to make but you'll want to make multiple batches as they go fast. 

So are you now starving?
Grab a recipe and start cooking or baking, whatever is your pleasure! 

Now it's your turn. The link up is change for your to share your best content, your favorite post from this week or just your weekly Friday Favorites. Anything goes! You can link as many posts as you'd like; no limit! Be sure to use hashtag #RewindFridayParty when sharing on social media so we can give you some INSTANT LOVE.

Last month's most clicked was 5 Ways to a Great Home Environment from Life Breath Present. The guest writer shared simple creative ways to make everyone in your home feel safe to to be themselves. I love that this post is strees-free home life. Be sure to check it out.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Our Hilton Head Vacation

Earlier this month we took our first family vacation that didn't involve going somewhere to visit family. While leaving in Austin we traveled to Ohio often but since being home we haven't went on vacation. We've focused much of our attention to spending time with family and friends we missed while living South. So when planning our vacation we had a few rules: a) we wanted to Connor to experience the ocean/beach for the first time b) we wanted to go somewhere we've never been before and c) it needed to be within driving distance. James spent a ton of time scooping out possibilities and after much back and forth, we landed Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island. It was the 3 of us plus my Mom going and the anticipation of our trip pushed us through the dog days of August. I snapped far too many photos to include here so I'm going to share a my favorites along with small details of our trip.

It felt like we the entire South Carolina coast to our disposal and we took full advantage of that. We visited 3 different beaches and spent afternoons at the pool. We soaked up every bit of sunshine we could before coming home since sunny days are limited here in Ohio in the Fall and Winter.

We were about 45 minutes east of Savannah so we took a day trip and visit the historic town. A TV show was being filmed there, Underground, so that was a fun surprise we stumbled on. We visited a 1800's schoolhouse which gave way to some really fun photo opps. We traveled the city via trolley and that was a first for Connor, which is loved. The downtown area has tons of shops and restaurants and we visited pretty impressive candy shop.

Our resort had a playground and Connor loved visiting it. The were stables nearby as well with the friendliest of horses. We were able to get so close to them to pet and talk with them. Dining at the Salty Dog Cafe was a must and we did that when picking up souvenirs from family and friends.

Connor loved the ocean, the boy just loves being in water. We had a blast and memories were made that we will forever cherish. Connor is already planning our next vacation to... Legoland. I'd much rather have the sand and the sun but maybe he'll get his wish. After all we do have plans to head to Florida in the Spring!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What's Up Wednesday V1

I've seen other bloggers share a "What Up Wednesday" post at the end of each month for a while now. You are given particular prompts to answer and it makes for a really great "this is life" kind of post. I've been wanting to join in the fun and finally my blogging schedule gave me an the last Wednesday of the month open so I instantly jumped to share my first ever "What Up Wednesday" post. Think of them as a currently style post, which is often hard for me to write but thanks to the prompts given this post all but wrote it's self.

What we are eating this week...
All things pumpkin and pumpkin spice. I'm sure this comes at no surprise to you or anyone else. I've made muffins and a cake and found seasonal snacks that give me even more pumpkin to enjoy. I found Pumpkin Spice Think Thin bar and boy are they tasty! I usually have one with coffee for breakfast on busy mornings.

What I'm reminiscing about...
When Connor was a baby and not a sassy (almost) 4 year old. I don't get how in a little over 30 days we will be parents to a 4 year old.

What I'm loving...
The cooler temps we are having. Finally it feels like Fall. Rain included. Rain and snow doesn't bother me. Humid, sweaty days piss me off on a deep deep level. I would take rain and snow over humidity. For those of you who've never experienced an Ohio summer this may sound all too extreme but when you've spent Summer after Summer "walking through soup" you come to hate the heat.

What we've been up to...
We've been taking it easy this week. September has been BUSY so a few days of easy days and low-key nights were in order. James is home for a bit, allowing us to have family nights so we've been doing more of that. Connor is busy with school 3 days a week plus swim lessons twice a week so he is pretty worn out by Thursday (praise and thanks!).

What I'm dreading...
The days when it's dark at 5. While I am a total cold weather gal, I need some sunshine from time to time too. I am thinking we will just have to get all the vitamin D we can between 1-5 when C is out of school. We may have to bundle up but those precious daylight hours are so very worth it.

What I'm working on...
Can I say all.the.things. and that be enough of an answer? I need to write my Dayton Moms Blog posts and submit those. I'd like to get some posts scheduled here too so I have a bit more downtime in the evenings. I would love to spend an afternoon cleaning the basement and another day working on the garage. Do a bit of purging before the weather gets bad and we can't be outside for long.

What I'm excited about... 
October 24 to December 31. I just love this time of year. I specifically said October 24th because that's James's birthday. From that day forward it's a lot of celebration in our household. From birthdays (3 in 8 days) to the holidays and friends and family birthdays, it's one big party. Christmas this year should be a lot of fun because I really feel like Connor gets it more and more with each passing season. He says he is going to ask Santa for Legoland tickets. Say what?!

What I'm watching/reading...
I am struggling to get through reading Truly Madly Guilty. I wish I could get into this book but it's not happening. But with any luck, I'll finish it this weekend and move onto something else. Tis the season for all my favorite shows to return to TV so when I'm not going 100 MPH I've been watching "my stories" as the grannies call them. I mentioned my love of This is Us and well, it continues after last night's episode. WOW!

What I'm listening to...
The sound of silence. While C is at school I turn off anything that might make a noise and just work. I do have a ceiling fan on but other than that it's silent. I don't know why but holy smokes Connor has been LOUD lately so when he isn't home, I try to soak up all the quiet I can. If I were to share one song that I have on repeat often it would be this one:

What I'm wearing...
Lots of black, white and gray with stripes and legging tossed in. I've also scored some pieces from Pearl and Monroe and love the pieces. The weather is a bit cooler so I can start layering and wearing some of my favorite heavier pieces.

What I'm doing this weekend...
James has a work conference in Columbus so Connor and I are tagging along, which gives us a chance to see friends while we are there. We are having a kid-free night with another couple then we will spend some time around Columbus before heading home. I am hoping to find a new to us park to visit.

What I'm looking forward to next month...
James and Connor's birthday, Fall festivities, cooler weather, slower days.

What else is new...
James is home for a while, with no travel plans for an entire month. Which gives me hope for more time with him (i.e. date nights). Connor just wrapped up soccer and has two weeks left of swim. I'm thinking we will continue swim lessons through the winter to really build his confidence and skill. I am going to lead a Bible study start in November so I'm going to prep for that over the next month or so to really prepare myself for the role and experience.

Happy Hump Day, friends! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

All Things Pumpkin {Announcement}

I'm sure by now you've caught on to the fact at I'm a bit pumpkin crazy. I blame it on my November birthday. I much prefer a pumpkin pie to a cake when celebrating my day. Give me all the pie but only pumpkin. With my love of pumpkin in it's prime this time of year, I reached out to some blogging friends to see if they would join me in a 4 week pumpkin themed link-up. After some brainstorming our All Things Pumpkin party was born.

Our party couldn't be any easier to join. Each week - October 4, 11, 18 and 25 - visit on of the hosts and link-up a pumpkin themed post. This can be a recipe, a craft, a DIY, your home decor, etc. As long as there is a pumpkin included you are welcome to add it to our party.

Meghan, Beth, Crystal and I are really excited for this link-up. I'm looking forward to seeing what you share with us. Grab our button below and come back next week, October 4 and share with us your All Things Pumpkin post.

Monday, September 26, 2016

How to Cook a Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot {Recipe}

Dinner has been hit or miss since we got back from vacation. Somehow between the travel, sand and sun, I lost my cooking mojo. We've been having dinner at home nonetheless but the meals themselves have been less than impressive. This past week I decided to pull myself from the cooking rut I've got myself into and start making new dishes. First up, I wanted to tackle cooking a whole chicken. Sounds simple enough, right? Well it is and today I'm going to share with you how to do so. This recipe will replace the rotisserie chickens you get from wholesale stores.

Ingredients for your Crock Pot Chicken
  • 1 Whole Chicken, thawed (mine was roughly 3 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp. Paprika
  • 1 tbsp. Seasoning Salt
  • 1 tbsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Thyme
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Onion
Prep and Cooking Instructions

In a small bowl combine the seasoning salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, cayenne and thyme, mixing well. Set to the side. Before you start seasoning your chicken, make sure you remove the neck and giblets from the cavity and pat it dry before putting it in the crock pot. Place four golf ball sized, aluminum balls in the bottom of the crock pot. This helps keep the chicken elevated out of the juices, so that it can evenly brown and cook thoroughly. Cut the onion in half and place in the cavity. Now place the chicken, breast side up, on top of the aluminum foil balls in the crock potDrizzle with extra virgin olive oil and rub it all over the chicken. Now sprinkle your seasoning mixture over your chicken. Using your hands, rub the mix under the wings, from top to bottom of your chicken, covering the chicken completely. Place your lid on your pot, turn your setting to low and cook for 8 hours. 

As seen here, the chicken is really coated with the seasoning. This is what will give your chicken the flavor you are used to when you purchase from Sam's and Costco. I won't lie I had high expectations for this chicken. I planned our meals based on this chicken so I needed it to turn out. We went about our day and 8 hours later I attempted to remove the chicken so I could shred it and this is what happened: 

Not the most appealing photo I know but this chicken was so tender it fell off the bone without any assistance on my end. This was a good sign. I picked the meat from the pile using two forks, shredding it as I went. The end result was about 6 cups of chicken, which gives us about 3 meals. 

This shredded chicken was tender, juicy, and had amazing flavor. I've never cooked with thyme or cayenne pepper before and it made a huge impact on the taste. Goodbye are the days of me purchasing chickens from wholesale stores. This recipe cooks itself and the end results is a chicken that's sugar free (unlike those at Sam's and Costco) and per serving is cheaper than buying chicken breast. Give it a try and I promise you will be sending me your praises! 

Are you in a dinner rut? This one chicken provided inspiration for 3 new to us meals: Chicken Verde Mac & Cheese, Chicken and Cream Cheese Taquitos and Chicken Enchilada Rice Bake. Looking for more meal ideas? Be sure to visit Whitney, Kate and Whitney to see what meals they made this month. 

Happy Monday, friends! 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse! - Craft, Printable & Reading List

It's safe to say we've finally entered that stage of parenting where crafting and completing projects is more fun than work. I remember when CJ was little I would get so stressed out during craft time because things weren't going so well. Well the years have come and gone and I'm must more go with the flow and my OCD checks itself at the door during craft hour. Last week in an attempt to survive the witching hour Connor and I gathered some (new to us) craft supplies and created our very first suncatcher. The best part? It's a pumpkin! We let the children's book "It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse!" be our guide and we had a fun hour of reading, counting and crafting.

When we have "school" as Connor calls it, I try to stick with a theme. It's easy to find pumpkin inspiration this time of year. One thing Connor and I wanted to try for the first time was working with contact paper and tissue paper. Our crafts typically involve paint so this was a new adventure to us. I used the pumpkin template found HERE to get the base of our pumpkin and then provided Connor with multiple colored squarest to fill in the pumpkin. Within minutes we created our first sun catcher and we both are hooked on using contact paper for crafting #nerdalert.

I wanted to include some learning in our craft hour so I thought the candy corn number sheets were perfect. The only downfall was that Connor wanted to eat more than learn. Candy corn is a favorite of his and for every row he completed, I allowed him one piece.

This task was a great way for Connor to work on number recognition along with counting. He has no problems with either on must occasions but like his colors, shapes and letters I like to continually practice those skills in new fun ways.

Once Connor finished his craft and his counting, we moved onto reading new-to-us books. This month's theme was based on the book "Happy Pumpkin Day, Mouse!" so I wanted to find more books that included both pumpkins and mice. I was pleasantly surprised to discover 4 more books that included both!

Connor's love of all things Halloween, pumpkin and Fall runs deep so this lesson worked really well for us. It kept his attention and he was interested from start to finish. Speaking of finish... to end the hour of teaching we watched this year's first screening of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown". All in all it was a great way to usher in Fall. Now... if only Mother Nature would get her act together. 

Find more "It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse!" activities, recipes, crafts and more over at Raising Fairies and Knights.