Saturday, January 18, 2014

Salsa Couscous Chicken

This is one of the recipes I am asked for the most and one of our families favorites. I love how you can use just two pots and one bowl - super easy to make and clean up!!

Salsa Couscous Chicken
From: Pillsbury Bake-off

3 cups cooked couscous (I have also substituted rice, but couscous is very yummy!)
1 T. olive oil
¼ cup coarsely chopped almonds
2 cloves minced garlic
8 skinless chicken thighs (I have used all sorts of different chicken cuts – just make sure they cook all way through)
1 cup (I just use one jar) salsa (I like the bean and corn kind)
¼ cup water
2 T. dried cranberries
1 T. honey
¾ t. cumin
½ t. cinnamon

While couscous is cooking, heat oil in large skillet over med heat until hot. Add almonds; cook 1-2 min or until golden brown. Remove almonds from skillet with slotted spoon; set aside. Add garlic to skillet; cook and stir for 30 sec. Add chicken; cook 4-5 min or until browned, turning once. In medium bowl combine salsa and remaining ingredients; mix well. Add to chicken; mix. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook 20 min or until chicken is fork tender and juices run clear, stirring occasionally. Serve over couscous and garnish with almonds.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rinse and Repeat

Make breakfast, clean up from breakfast
Do laundry
Make lunch, clean up from lunch
Do more laundry
Pick up toys
Make dinner, clean up from dinner
Do more laundry
Clean bathrooms
Rinse and Repeat

Does this sound like your day too?

There are days that I get stuck. Stuck in this mindset that I am accomplishing nothing. Every task that I do gets undone within 24 hours.

The laundry is never done.
The bed I made in the morning gets unmade at night.
The dishwasher is never empty and all the dishes clean.
There is always dirty clothes somewhere.

It is never ending!

When I get stuck in this woe-is-me pity party, I have to find something - anything - to accomplish!

I know that these monotonous tasks are important to the care of my family. We have to eat, we need clean clothes, we can not live in filth. I am integral to the well-oiled machine of family life. And I know that my value is more than just the tasks that I perform. But as a mom, because so much of my work gets undone so quickly, I need to finish something.

A walk outside to get some fresh air is always a great option, but the kids and the weather don't always cooperate. Here are a few indoor suggestions:

  • organize one drawer - not the entire cabinet or dresser, just one drawer!
  • clean off the refrigerator door of everything outdated
  • write a Thinking of You card and actually snail mail it
  • try a new cookie recipe - yes it makes more kitchen mess, but there is going to be a mess there anyway
  • clean out my purse
  • sanitize my cell phone, ipad, home phone, computer keyboard, etc

I'm sure there are lots of ideas, but finding something that takes just 15 minutes and is something I can look at when I feel overwhelmed again with the monotony of my day. Just a little thing can help break the woe-is-me cycle!

All hard work brings a profit. Proverbs 14:23

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  Colossians 3:23-34

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dents in my Pride

I drive a huge van...think church van...think day care van...yup, that's me. We call it The Ivybus. And one child, who shall remain nameless, even took a rock to the sides, spelling out "Ivybus". I pride myself on being able to drive such a beast. I can park that thing in tight spots. I can parallel park. I can make u-turns.

A couple of months ago, someone rear-ended me and I ended up with a new bumper and the back doors being completely repainted. From behind, it was a beautiful van. Until today...

Today I was so proud of myself for squeezing into the last spot in a parking lot. I was squished between a cute Rav4 and a Mustang. I had to do a seven point turn to get in there, but I was in the parking spot, between the lines and I could still exit my vehicle without banging the vehicle beside me. Secretly I was hoping that by the time I was leaving one of those vehicle would have left. But of course they were still there when I was leaving. Trying to be so mindful of not hitting either vehicle I started the 45 point turn to get out of that spot.  I was watching my front bumper when a brick post sprouted up behind me! Never mind that it is attached to a building that is over 100 years appeared out of nowhere!

I am happy to report the post is fine - not a dent or chip. I did get out of the parking spot.

However, my brand new bumper now has a tiny dent in it...and so does my pride!

"Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall." Proverbs 16:18

I am thankful that I have a God who cares for me enough to correct me. I am even more thankful He corrects me in the little things so that I hopefully don't make the same mistake in the big things.  It seems just when I think I get this parenting thing down, I am dealt a blow to my ego and another problem arises  Only my dependence on God will keep me in check.

"Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful." Proverbs 16:20

Monday, May 14, 2012

Starting over...again...

Weight loss is my mountain I can not seem to get to the other side of. It has been eight years since I have been at the weight that I was pleased with. Life situations took over. Major job change and move. Two unexpected but happy pregnancies that resulted in wonderful children! Tack in a stressful job, and another move and a dash of apathy and you get today.

Years ago, back when I was young, stupid and naive, I told my hubby that if I ever reached a certain weight he needed to get me help and if I reached another weight he should just shoot me.  Stupid comment that was very selfish. However, sobering that I am closing in on the second weight.

This weekend, my family treated me to a wonderful weekend in Baltimore.  We shopped at IKEA and walked the inner harbor and ate dinner at Bubba Gump.  It was a fabulous, but I was very reflective on the fact that I was going to be happy sitting on a park bench rather that walking around the harbor.  Part of that is personality, but most of that was energy. I didn't want to "play" with my kiddos. I wanted to sit and watch them play.  And my hubby insisted on taking pictures of my kiddos and me. I purposefully positioned children in front of me and I have no desire to see how those pictures turned out. I am just thankful that he has not yet posted them to Facebook!  My clothing is not fitting and I do not want to purchase clothes in a bigger size.

Time for help!!!  I have started (again) tracking my food on and I have joined a group centered around the Max Capacity app. It is a strength training app for three days a week. it is available for the Android and they are working on an Apple one. I like the accountability...I need the accountability.  I have a starting goal of six weeks.  I am going to do this for six weeks! And I am getting my family on board. They may not be happy, but I don't care about happiness anymore!

So today, we start!  I have completed my strength training and walked for 20 min on the treadmill. And I am tracking my food...praying this is a change that sticks!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Get a Second Opinion

Y'all, sometimes it is very important to ask someone to check your work, and to get different perspectives.  Otherwise, you might approve a project like this:

...and you would become the laughing stock of the pool float community!

People! Someone actually approved this pool float to be put into production!  Why??? Was a woman not on the design team? As my good friend, Chris, speculated, "What a great idea! I'm sure there are thousands of people who want to float around in a pool on a giant maxi pad!"

Friday, April 27, 2012


We have been in our new home for three months now and by my own standards I feel like I should be more settled.  We have unpacked the absolutely necessary, but every room in unfinished and most still have boxes that are unpacked or piles of things that have been unpacked but have not found a home.  There are a few things hung on the walls, but hardly anything.  I feel like I still need to apologize to everyone that walks into the house, explaining that we are still unpacking.  That is if anyone over the age of 12 walked into my house.  That is the key right now...this is still just a house to me, not a home.  Like I said, those are my standards.  I know feelings lie and I know in my head I don't have to have the house all together yet.  However, I "feel" like I should have made more progress.

I have tried the finish-one-room-at-a-time method.  I worked on my master bedroom, attempting to make a retreat from the rest of the mess. 

I have this sitting room attached to my bedroom.  We don't have furniture for that room.  Therefore, it has become a holding place for the bins of next size clothes for my kids until I get the storage room unpacked and organized and make room for the clothes bins. So if I can just overlook the area right inside the door, my bedroom is calming...but not finished. 

At night I stare at the bare walls wondering what to hang on them to make the room feel less sterile.

I do not have small preschoolers demanding my attention at home anymore. I do not work a second job that takes me away from my home. I am a stay-at-home mom of all school age children that are gone for six hours of the day. And yet, I can't seem to make progress in those six hours.  Why does it take me six hours to shower, clean up the kitchen, do laundry, clean bathrooms, collect garbage, make the bed, prepare an afternoon snack, create dinner, shop for supplies, go through paperwork, ask telemarketers not to call anymore...

...and there is where my condemnation of myself steps in. "You should be accomplishing more. You don't have the excuse of work or small children. What exactly do you do all day?" This is the recording that plays in my head. This is what makes me grumpy when my children come home and mess up the house that I just seemed to spend six hours straightening up. What is the purpose in my job when six hours of work get undone in a matter of mere minutes and the complaining starts.  Their complaining. My complaining. And they feed off each other.

Today, April 27th, 2012 is the day that we break this cycle.  I don't know the exact "how", but I know I need to stop the unrealistic expectations of myself.  I need to stop "feeling" like I should be doing it all because I do not have preschoolers at home or a job that I leave home for.  I need to pick one project and finish it and stay focused on it.  Will it kill my family to eat peanut butter and jelly for dinner one night because I was focused on finishing painting the dining room? (Okay it might kill Jarrett, but he can have peanut butter and honey)  Today I give myself permission to let/make the children do chores.  Today I give myself permission to take a catnap in the afternoon so I am not exhausted when the kids walk in the door.  Today I will remind myself that my home is meant to be a home, not a showroom house. And today I will ENJOY my family!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Teachers Gifts

I think it is very important to let my kids teachers know that I appreciate them.  However with six kids, that can get expensive. I have some very creative friends that do amazing things for their teachers. I know many families stop giving teacher's gifts once their kids head to middle school because the number of teachers increases. When Mike was a high school teacher, he didn't receive anything from his kids or their families. I also know that teachers sometimes receive a bunch of, well...junk.  So here is my solution - and so far I have received rave reviews from the teachers.

ALL teachers and some special support staff receive the following:

Before school or first day of school: mini survival kit that includes things like, gum, bottle of water, "mix-in" for water bottle, granola bar, pencils, hand sanitizer, sticky notes, and business card with our info and the offer to help in some way. All wrapped in a paper lunch sack.

Thanksgiving: Party favor bag of caramel popcorn.

Valentines Day: Killer Blonde Brownie wrapped in chinese take-out box

Spring Break: Lemon Bar wrapped in chinese take-out box

Last Day of School: Pint Jar of BBQ sauce

Elementary School Teachers Only: Chili and Cornbread Dinner when we attend Parent-Teacher Conferences.

I have done different things for Christmas and am still searching for the "perfect" thing.  I can tweak this and change or add things, but I like the consistency.  And I have a few teachers that look forward to receiving their goodies.  If there are teachers that don't like it, I haven't heard yet...maybe they just pass their goodies along.  I did have one teacher this past year that said she was so exciting to have my child because it meant she would get goodies.

I am not one to keep my recipes a secret, so if you click on the name of the item, you can see the recipe.