Food Challenge

I’m going to try this food challenge! I have not tried it before, but we do have a lot of food on the shelves and in the freezer that should be used up. Hoping to save some money in the process, too! I’ll try to remember to keep track and post our results on here. I’m curious to see where we’ll be in 2 weeks’ time! I may attempt it for the entire month of July.

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Will you join me in this challenge? If so, please let me know how you do!

Happy Birthday to My Baby Boy!

Hard to believe, but my son is 6 years old today. He came into the world 3 weeks early, on my grandma’s birthday. He’s kept me on my toes from the beginning ☺

The day started at 7 a.m. He came into my room, and jumped up and down and said, “Happy Birthday to meeeeeeeeee!” I gave him a hug, told him he was silly.

happy birthday to me

Came downstairs, and gave him and his sister a cupcake for breakfast, complete with a candle and the singing of “Happy Birthday”.

cupcake for breakfast!

Gave him his presents (the HUGE Switch ‘n Go Dino, and a DS game), then got dressed and packed lunch. He requested the zoo today, so we wanted to get there first thing, since it’s a holiday weekend. We usually go during the week! The zoo recently started opening its doors up at 9 for members, and for the public at 10, which is nice! Got to the zoo around 9:00, and headed first to the giraffe exhibit, so we could see the new baby. Then we went to the train, to ride it before it got too crowded! That’s when we got silly and took these pictures:

selfie with jacob

selfie with jillian

family selfie

Walked around, having fun.

both on alligator

He told me to name this one "Birthday boy on alligator"

He told me to name this one “Birthday boy on alligator”

Left around 11:15 to head for the car to eat our lunch.

From there we went to the toy store, because my husband didn’t think I had bought enough gifts for his birthday, so he let him pick out some toys of his own. Another Switch ‘n Go Dino (I swear, he owns almost every one now!), a couple of Skylanders for the WiiU, and a TMNT turtle shell for him to wear.

Came home so he could play with his new toys. Next we packed up and went to grandma’s so he could have more fun in their big yard. Ordered hoagies and pizza for dinner, which we ate outside. Then we had more cupcakes, another singing of “Happy Birthday”, and he got his gift from grandma and grandpa.

Finally got him and his sister in bed after 9, since he needed to play with his new toys more after we got home.

He said a few times today that it was the best birthday ever, and I’m glad he thought so!

Fun, Full Weekend!

This past weekend was a busy one, but it was laid back! Saturday just involved sitting on the couch until mid-afternoon, when we decided to go to Bass Pro Shops to have my bow finally fitted to me (only took 10 years or more!), then a trip the Kroger. The kids and I were both feeling kind of stuffy and yucky for a few days, so a relaxed day was nice.

Sunday was a different story! The day started with Mass at 8:30 a.m. We had to be there by 8, because I was a Eucharistic Minister, and was doing the first reading. So I had to make sure everything was in order, and had to sign in. I got through that (my first time reading – everyone said I did fine!), and after leaving church Dan was talking with his parents. They asked if I would want to go up to the lake to help paint the deck. We had nothing else planned, so I said why not? We came home, changed clothes, packed lunch, and headed for the lake.

Took about 2 hours to get everything finished. My mother in law, Jillian, and I did the painting. It was the first time she painted something other than a picture. Jacob helped from time to time, but he mostly kept himself busy with toys, and throwing rocks in the lake. Dan and his dad were working on the tractor, fixing the front door, and washing off the other side of the cottage, which will be painted last.

Jillian painting

jacob painting

After we finished painting, we stopped at Dairy Queen for ice cream. I said it was to pay the kids for helping us ☺ Came back home, emptied the cooler, put leftovers in it, picked up the dog, and went over to my in-laws house to hang out.

I shot my bow (first time shooting it – apparently I’m a pretty good shot with anything you put in my hands!), the kids drove their battery-operated cars, the dogs played. We had dinner, then finally made our way home again.

first bow shots

jacob in tree

jillian in tree

So basically we were outside all day long. Just inside to eat and change. It was a lot of fun!

I’m Still Alive!!!

Oh my gosh, I haven’t posted in so long! I am still alive, and it’s one of my goals this year to post more frequently! So much has happened in the last few months. I hope I can remember it all to share it with you!

Unexpected Amusement Park Day!

A couple of Sunday’s ago, after a really busy week, I was looking forward to going to Church, then just sitting on my butt and doing nothing all day long (or I wanted to get some cleaning and organizing done, but I can’t remember that far back now).

On the way out the door to Church, we got a call from a neighbor. They had tickets to Kings Island for the day (it was a day where the park was only open for people that worked for a specific, large company in the area), but one of their boys had a fever, so they couldn’t go. The tickets were only good for that weekend, so they asked if we wanted to go. We decided sure, why not? Free tickets, and when else would we get the chance to go there?

So we picked up the tickets, went to Church, came home to eat lunch, then hurried out the door. Takes us almost an hour to get to Kings Island from home. We got there around 1:45. Kids had lots of fun! The day was perfect – the sun was out, but it wasn’t really hot.

Jacob is daring, of course. So he didn’t have to think hard about riding rides. I, on the other hand (along with my daughter), am not a ride person. Especially if I’ve never seen the whole ride, and don’t know what it will do. I think it’s the fact that I’ve discovered I have control issues. And if I’m not controlling it, I don’t like it! The first thing we all rode on (Dan and I were together) was the Woodstock Whirly-birds. A helicopter-shaped pod that was on a track in the air. Kind of tame.

Then the kids went on the little kid bumper cars, which they enjoyed. Next Jacob spotted the mini roller-coaster, which he insisted on waiting in line for. Dan and he sat in the back car. He enjoyed it!

Starting out on his first coaster ride (that's them in the back)

Starting out on his first coaster ride (that’s them in the back)

Heading up the first hill!

Heading up the first hill!

Nothing but grins!

Nothing but grins!

They also went on the Scrambler together. Too much spinning for me!

Running to his first Scrambler ride!

Running to his first Scrambler ride!

Waiting to get strapped in

Waiting to get strapped in

This was his 2nd ride - you can just see his arms up!

This was his 2nd ride – you can just see his arms up!

After his first ride - he loved it!

After his first ride – he loved it!

Next they headed back to the little kid coaster, and I almost refused. But I decided that I’m brave, I could do it (the theme around Tastefully Simple’s national conference this year was “How big is your brave?”). So Jillian and I got on it together. Of course I have no photos of us on it, since there was no one to take pictures. But we were in one of the middle cars. At first Jillian said, “I can’t believe I’m doing this!”, and I was just telling myself “You’ve been on an airplane, this is nothing.” But after we went down that first hill, Jillian was saying, “This is so much fun!” And she was giggling. It really wasn’t so bad, and was over in about 10 seconds. Even going around twice!

Then before we left (after watching all the crazy people on the big coasters), we decided to get on the log flume ride. I’ve never done one before. At first I wasn’t going to because I didn’t want to get wet, but then decided to just go for it. We all sat in the same “log” – Jillian in the front, then Dan, Jacob and me. We kept our feet up so we wouldn’t get too wet at the end. But it was fun! I know I screamed. And we didn’t even get all that wet!

The kids rode on a couple more rides alone, and I think they had fun. Jacob and Dan went on the Scrambler again, too. Personally I don’t think that KI is nearly as fun as Disney World, but at least it’s closer!

Waiting to get on the Red Baron ride - last one for the day!

Waiting to get on the Red Baron ride – last one for the day!

We ended up heading for home around 6:30 – stopped at Steak ‘n Shake for dinner, that way we could have dinner and dessert at the same time – yum!

Taco Seasoning and Baked Chimichangas

I have decided to start making some of my own things around the house, instead of buying them. Cleaners, laundry detergent, sanitizers. I came across a recipe for taco seasoning from a friend at www.HomemakerGoneNatural.com. It looked so good, and so easy to make! I “Tastefully Simplified” it, and it’s even BETTER than I thought it would be!

I made a double recipe so I wouldn’t have to mix up more for a while. taco seasoning

Taco Seasoning
• 2 Tbsp Wahoo! Chili Seasoning
• 1 Tbsp Cumin
• 1 tsp Salt
• 1 tsp Pepper
• 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
• 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
• 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
• 1/2 tsp Paprika
• 1/4 tsp Fiesta Party Dip Mix

Mix everything together. Store in an airtight container. When a recipe calls for a packet of taco seasoning, use 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of this mix.

I obviously made substitutions with the Wahoo! Chili Seasoning and Fiesta Party Dip Mix. You can find the organic recipe here: http://www.homemakergonenatural.com/2013/04/homemade-taco-seasoning.html

We made some yummy baked chicken chimichangas that I found on Facebook. It was the first recipe we made using the taco seasoning. It was definitely a thumbs up meal!

Baked Chicken Chimichangas
• 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
• 8 oz. Mexican shredded cheese
• 1 1/2 tablespoons taco seasoning
• 1 lb cooked chicken, shredded
• 8 flour tortillas
• cooking spray
• shredded cheddar cheese
• sour cream
• salsa

Place 1 lb. chicken breasts in slow cooker with some Fiesta Party Dip Mix sprinkled on top. Cook on high for 3 hours (or low for 6-8 hours). Shred with 2 forks when cooked completely.

Stir together cream cheese, Mexican cheese and taco seasoning.

Fold in chicken.

Divide amoung tortillas.

Tuck in sides and roll up each tortilla.

Lay seam side down in a sprayed 9″ X 13″ baking dish.

Spray tops of tortillas with cooking spray.

Bake @ 350 for 15 minutes.

Turn Chimi’s over and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Serve with cheddar cheese, sour cream and salsa.

chimichanga

These were delicious! My son and I ate them for lunch for 2 days after we had them for dinner!

Television Time

I’ve decided to make the leap (again) into a world without satellite television. I discovered that most shows I watch could be found on the internet anyway! I’m tired of paying the monthly fee for so many channels when I only watched a couple. I’m not even a channel surfer, like my husband is. I pretty much picked either HGTV or Food Network to watch when there was nothing on. There is only 1 show on the satellite that I insist on watching, and that can be seen online too. We watch some things on network, so we already had that without the satellite!

Most of the shows the kids watched on satellite they are already watching on Netflix, too. We have had the streaming for a while, now we’ve decided to get the DVD’s as well. More options, and there is always something to watch!

I don’t even watch any television myself until nighttime when the kids are in bed. So paying the fee is kind of pointless. Plus I can use that time to get some work done, maybe read more books (I used to read ALL the time). Spend more quality time with my husband. Maybe talking instead of just staring at the tv!

We haven’t actually “pulled the plug” yet, but my husband did re-hook the antenna up to the tv’s, make sure it was still working. But I think I’m ready. Not like 2 years ago when we were without satellite for 2 weeks (and 9 days of that we were out of town!). We can do it. Plus the extra money will be nice. And the kids have already found some old favorites on the channels through the antenna. It’s nice hearing something different for a change!

How do you watch television? Stay tuned to see if I can do it this time, or if I go bonkers!

New Team Leader

I realized I haven’t spoken much about my Tastefully Simple business. Since starting on this journey more than 3 years ago, I have gained so much. More kitchen knowledge than I had before; learning how simple it can be to prepare delicious meals; earning some money; having time for my family, including homeschooling my 2 kids.

And the friendships. I never even gave thought to that when I first started. But I have met some amazing people. I have clients that have become friends, and my fellow consultants. My fellow “Tastebuds” are some awesome people. Since I’ve started my business, I have been “bumped up” to a consultant that isn’t even in my state. So I never get to go to meetings with them. And I’m a person that needs to be held accountable, and I need to hang with some motors to get me to where I want to be.

I was “adopted” by a team on the East Side of town. I met Beth when I shadowed one of her parties (sat at her party to see how she worked it). She immediately took me under her wing, and now she says that I am on her team. Her telling me this means so much to me. I love feeling included. I am invited to their meetings, their private training, their leadership weekend. I have met so many great people through Beth. People that I’m sure I would not have met if not for her. She has been an amazing friend, and has helped me in my business tremendously.

We just had conference last weekend in Minneapolis, MN. I decided to fly with Pam, who is someone I met through Beth. I had not flown for 16 years, and was nervous. Pam held my hand when I needed her to, and I’m so grateful for that! She took me under her wing too ☺

While at conference (Party Palooza) last year, I decided I wanted to promote so I could do the Team Leader March. Well, I promoted in June, which is why I knew I had to go to conference! I named it and claimed it! The March was on Friday morning. While waiting to march across stage, at least 4 people came over to take my picture. It was an exciting time anyway, but the fact that they did this for me really touched me.

I finally got to meet my “upline” while at Party Palooza, which was exciting, too! Now I have faces to put with the names, and people that I know are also there to help me out.

Can you say that you have new family members that you met through your job?

team leader pic

Making Dinnertime Easier!

I am so absolutely thrilled that I discovered Tastefully Simple 3 years ago. It has changed my life for the better. We have extra money to do fun things. I get out of the house for a bit a few times a month (which is nice considering the 4 of us are home all day, every day). I have met some AMAZING people. I also get to go out and meet some great clients that have become friends. And I get to help people with that age-old question “What’s for dinner?”

In the last year I have started doing freezer meal workshops. There are menus that other consultants share, so I pick one of those, and invite people to come to my house to assemble them. Most workshops we assemble 10-20 meals, which feed 4-6 adults. So if someone has fewer mouths to feed, they can split the meals and get extras! I have had no complaints yet about the recipes. Everyone loves them. And they love the fact that we can get together, and 2 hours later they can take their meals home and fill their freezers!

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I have also done these as “parties” for other clients, in place of traditional tasting parties. They get friends together and we assemble the meals at their home. The person that is hosting the event gets the host rewards, so they can pick products for free!

When people RSVP they send me the money for the Tastefully Simple products 2 weeks in advance of the workshop. That way I can get the products ordered. Then I email to all the attendees the grocery list and prep list (there usually isn’t much prep work). They bring their groceries to my house the night of the workshop, and we assemble the meals! I also print out the labels for them to put on their completed meals, so they know how to prepare them when they want to fix them for dinner.

If someone wants to put together the meals but can’t be at my home, I will ship the products to their house, and then mail them the assembly instructions and labels, so they can assemble them at their leisure.

The pictures in this post were taken at my last workshop on July 9th. These ladies had so much fun! One of them is even coming to my next workshop on July 30th!

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Freezer meals have been a lifesaver for us some days. When we get really busy (or spend a lot of time in the pool, as we have lately), I can just pull something out of the freezer and either grill it, put it in the oven, or stick it in the crock pot in the morning.

This was a meal I put together last week and put it in the freezer until we needed it: bone-in pork chops marinaded in olive oil, soy sauce, and Tastefully Simple’s Ultimate Steak Seasoning. They were delicious!

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What do you do to simplify dinnertime?

Our Gatlinburg Vacation ~ Part 5

Sunday morning we got up and packed all of our belongings. We had to be out of the chalet by 11. We were hoping to leave by 9:30 or so, but someone decided to sleep in ☺

After turning in our keys to the chalet company (we used Mtn. Laurel Chalets – I highly recommend them!), we headed back to the park. My mom wanted to visit Newfound Gap, and since we were there we took the kids about a mile up the trail for Charlie’s Bunion that we did on Friday:

kids on CB trail

Here are the kids with their “customary” bears at Newfound Gap:

customary bears

We also stopped along the road to play in the river for a few minutes, so the kids could climb on some rocks in the water.

We had both of our kids with us for the drive home, and my brother was with mom and dad. We finally got on the road for home around 2:30. Made much better time than on the way down, since it didn’t rain (well, not until we hit just north of Lexington, KY anyway, but it wasn’t for long). Got home in just under 4.5 hours. Since it was dinnertime, we stopped at Skyline Chili for some food. We had omelets for breakfast that morning, but didn’t really have lunch – just snacked – so we were hungry!

It was nice to be back home, but I’m missing the mountains already.

Having my brother with us just made the vacation that much nicer – it’s been a long time since we’ve gotten to hang out with him so much on a visit. Hopefully we will get to see him again this year, and it won’t be longer!

I would love to go on more family vacations, and hopefully we can make that work! I think all of us at Disney World would be so much fun! One can dream, and hopefully make it a reality in the future ☺

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