Tuesday, March 31, 2009

No Foolin!

This post may contain affiliate or advertiser links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

Tomorrow (April 1, 2009) Itty-Bitty Bookworm is going to run a “No April Fooling” promo. Anyone who visits their site and subscribes to their newsletter will receive the April curriculum absolutely FREE.

If you'd like to read a little more about Itty-Bitty Bookworm, you can read my review about their curriculum here and also enter to win a FULL YEAR of the Bo's Curriculum.

All About Mommy

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There is a question and answer meme going around Facebook where you sit down with your child to ask them some specific questions and write down their answers. Since we have 3 kids that can answer, I thought it would be fun to record what each one of them had to say. :) I did edit some of Zachary's answers because on several occasions he just kept going and going and going...and I'm sure I don't know where he gets that from!

1. What is something Mom always says to you?

L – Stop being mean!
M – I love you
Z – Zachary Jaren!

2. What makes Mom happy?

L – When I’m good
M – If I be obedient
Z – Like if I give you a hug or a kiss

3. What makes Mom sad?

L – When I’m bad to you
M – When I’m not obedient
Z – Like if I do something bad, like step on your toe

4. How does your Mom make you laugh?

L – When you tickle me
M – When I am funny
Z – by doing silly stuff (starts making faces)

5. What was your Mom like as a child?

L – happy?
M – Did you live on a farm?
Z – maybe you were like a yoyo and you could do tricks – your nick name was yoyo

6. How old is your Mom?

L – 35
M – 35
Z - 35

7. How tall is your Mom?

L – 5 feet 10 inches
M – I don’t know
Z – this tall like 31 inches, or maybe 100

8. What is her favorite thing to do?

L – hug me
M – Go on the computer
Z -. do the computer like you are doing now

9. What does your Mom do when you are not home?

L – go to Puerto Rico and do fun stuff
M – Does stuff with Kaleb
Z – you are watching swimming

10.If your Mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

L – cooking
M – The world’s biggest lego tower
Z – maybe doing school with the girls

11. What is your Mom really good at?

L – cooking
M – Baking stuff
Z – changing Kaleb’s stinky diaper

12. What is your Mom's favorite show?

L – that show you watch on tv – I love Lucy
M – Kissing shows
Z - Bones

13. What does your Mom cook best?

L – everything
M – cheese pizza
Z – quesadillas, and macaroni and cheese, and hot dogs, and hamburgers. You are good at cooking everything in the world.

Head on over to Mary's at Not Before 7 for some more Tiny Talk Tuesday!!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Town Hall for Hope

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If you are interested, Dave Ramsey will be hosting a "Town Hall for Hope"

What is Town Hall for Hope?

Town Hall for Hope is your opportunity to sit down with people in your community for a nationwide town hall meeting led by Dave Ramsey. Thousands of venues across the country will host the event, broadcasting Dave's live presentation. In the opening half hour, Dave will offer straight talk about the economy, recession, foreclosures and more. He'll carefully explain where we've come from, where we are now, and what we should be doing with our money during this time. Then, Dave will spend an hour answering your questions live!

Who is Dave Ramsey?

Dave Ramsey is a personal money-management expert, an extremely popular national radio personality and best-selling author of The Total Money Makeover. In his latest book, a follow-up of his enormously successful New York Times best-sellers Financial Peace and More Than Enough, Ramsey exemplifies his life's work of teaching others how to be financially responsible, so they can acquire enough wealth to take care of loved ones, live prosperously into old age, and give generously to others.

Here's a little video clip about the meeting:

We're hoping to host the event at our local church, but you can check out the listings to see if there is one being hosted in your area too.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Itty-Bitty Bookworm Giveaway!!

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The Itty-Bitty Bookworm

I've been blessed to be able to host several giveaways for you all, but this one is for a full year of Itty-Bitty Bookworm's preschool curriculum (a $300 value!!). Please read through this review to see how to enter to win!

Before deciding to be a stay-at-home mom and homeschooling, I was a preschool teacher. I know how much time and effort goes into planning a week's worth, let alone a year's worth, of curriculum in both the classroom setting and at home. I wish that I would have had Itty-Bitty Bookworm YEARS ago because it would have saved me so much time and energy! I have been 100% impressed with all that has been poured into this preschool curriculum and what it offers for both teachers and children.

Itty-Bitty Bookworm is a literature-based curriculum for preschoolers ages 18 months to 5 years ~ and everything you need is provided for you! The plans would work well in any teaching setting, from homeschooling, in-home daycares, or large school settings. It was developed by several early childhood educators and is extremely well-organized. The literature used as the base for the curriculum includes great books such as The Itsy-Bitsy Spider, The Wheels on the Bus, The Best Mouse Cookie, Silly Sally, The Gingerbread Man, and Mouse Paint.

Bailey's curriculum (ages 18 to 36 months) focuses on two different books each month and Bo's curriculum (ages 3 to 5) focuses on four books each month. The activities and projects for the lessons revolve around the stories that are being read with the children.

Each month of curriculum includes:
  • 4 full weeks of lesson plans for a 5 day week
  • activity sheets/mini books
  • full-color clip art
  • learning center ideas
  • long term and short term objectives
  • morning meeting plans
  • poem pages
  • shared reading ideas
  • and so much more!
Just to give you an idea of how complete and thorough the plans are, the lesson plans for the month of February (Year 1, Bo's Curriculum) are 265 pages. The plans provide an abundance of craft ideas, games, rhymes, finger plays, printable books and activities. In addition, the curriculum provides supply lists, newsletters for parents, monthly objectives, milestones for children, daily report forms for children, and observation record sheets.

The lesson plans are laid out in a simple-to-follow format (you can see a pdf sample here) and you have the option of using as many or as few of the ideas as you want. The lessons are completely flexible. When we used them I was able to adapt different projects quickly to what we had on hand, but had the great framework that Itty-Bitty Bookworm provided.

Curriculum calendars for both levels:
If you'd like to see how we used the curriculum during our homeschool day, you can find pictures and more details in a few of my Preschool Corner posts: the letter S and the letter W.

Itty-Bitty also has Bible Story Units that can be used a supplement to your curriculum or as part of a Sunday School curriculum. The Bible units include a verse coloring sheet, mini poster and 3 days of lesson plans along with other activity ideas. Tara, the founder of Itty-Bitty Bookworm, also has a blog, Raising Itty-Bitty Bookworms along with free resources for parents.

If you are interested in ordering Itty-Bitty Curriculum, you can choose to download a month of lesson plans ($20 each month) at a time or order a CD-rom ($25) of plans. Itty-Bitty also offers a 10% discount if you purchase a subscription of 3 months. Yearly subscriptions receive a 15% discount. You will get your money's worth out of this curriculum and will not be disappointed!

The Itty-Bitty Giveaway!!

The Itty-Bitty Bookworm has kindly offered to give one of my readers Year 1 of Bo's curriculum on CD. If you would like to enter to win this great curriculum, leave a comment here letting me know what you like most about this curriculum. The giveaway is open until Thursday, April 2nd at 8pm and I will announce the winner on Friday the 3rd. Please be sure to leave a way for me to contact you, otherwise I will draw another winner.

This giveaway is now closed. Thanks so much!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Little Blogging Break...

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For the next few days I'm going to try and avoid the computer. I'm SERIOUS. I might go through withdrawals for a few moments hours days , but four days will not kill me. Consider this my proclamation for all to read:

I will not blog while on vacation.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Reading Thing 2009

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Be realistic. That is my MAIN goal this go-round of Callapidder Day's Spring Reading Thing 2009.

I can realistically say that I will not empty my nightstand. I may have high hopes, but unless I completely withdraw from life as we know it, the pile will merely decrease slightly. {grins)

I do know that I will finish at least TWO non-fiction books. Period. Since I am 'unplugging' the computer for an entire four days next week {please pick yourself up from the floor - I'm serious}, I am hoping to take a good chunk out of my pile. My reward is sitting by the pool in Puerto Rico {so help me if it is raining while we are there!}.

And in case you are interested, be sure to check out the spring reading chart that I made for my kids (a chart to track reading over the next few months).


In no particular order, here are the books that I will force myself would like to read this spring:

My non-fiction list: (yes, some of these have carried over from my fall reading list)

Finding Favor with the King by Tommy Tenney. I confess that I have already read a few chapters, which is why I KNOW that I will complete it this spring. Add to that that a friend and I are reading it together and that should help. I really love the book so far and it's one that I will re-read when I am done picking it apart because there is so much to process in it.

Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp. I hoping to read this one in the afternoons and also watch the DVD series that go along with it. Life has been too crazy, so even if my hubby can't do it along with me, perhaps I can glean some things from it.

Rivers of Grace by Mark and Patti Virkler. Another book recommended to me by a friend. Sadly, it's been sitting on my nightstand for over a year. The main premise of the book is raising your kids by the Spirit rather than the law.

Have a New Kid by Friday by Dr. Kevin Lehman. Well, the title certainly sounds lovely some days!

Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel. I'm thinking the title just sounds lovely.

The Mentoring Mom: 11 Ways to Model Christ for Your Child by Jackie Kendall. A friend recommended this book to me and said she loved it - so here's hoping that I do to.

Bringing up Boys by Dr. James Dobson. Seeing as how I have two of them, this might hold some good inside information.

My fiction list:

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks. Only a few more of his books to read and these should be great for the plane and the pool!

A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks. More plane/pool reading.

The Choice by Nicholas Sparks. Are you getting the 'mind candy' theme going here?....

Blue Shoes and Happiness and The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith. These are the last two (I think) that I need to read to catch up in this series. I don't know what it is about these books that I love, but somehow it gets lost in the translation when I try to explain it. The humor just cracks me up. {And yes, Erin, I will soon return the books!}

The Butterfly Farm by Diane Noble. I'm not sure where this book came from but I found it in my nightstand (don't worry, I checked for a library barcode - I'm safe). Since it's fiction, I'm sure I'll find the time to read it!

Twilight series by Stephanie Meyers. People keep telling me these books are great, so I have the first one to at least read...and more than likely get hooked on.

Kiss by Ted Dekker. It's been awhile since I've read a really good suspenseful book, now I'm just waiting on the library to get the book in for me.

Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth. I've heard some great things about this book (ok, mainly from Katrina) and requested the library order it - hopefully they will.


I'm sure that there will be other books to that I pick up along the way too, but this is my list as it stands right now. I'm assuming that there will be one or two great books in the above lot that I'll have to share about with you all. I'm off to sort my piles and start packing some books for my trip!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring Reading Chart for Kids

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The first day of spring is tomorrow (March 20th) so our winter reading challenge with the kids is wraps up today. The last week has been so sweet watching the kids cram in those last minute books with each other. They cuddle up on the couch and systematically check off their number list they created to let me know how many they've read together..

Truthfully, they have probably read more than enough books and it's probably due to my lack of recording their reading - but I'm not complaining! They are happy and content - and quiet in general, and that is always a blessing!

They reminded me last week that I needed to make a spring one for them and it's posted below in case you are interested in using it with your kids.

I also have charts that I posted previously for the other three seasons too - you can check them out here.


Spring Reading Challenge

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The (almost always) Perfect Looking Loaf

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I'm often asked how I get our bread to look 'pretty' and not just a lumpy mass of dough. I finally remembered to take pictures of the easy steps that I use. It doesn't matter what size loaf I make, this works great for all my yeast bread recipes.

It all starts with your basic ball of dough (the whole wheat recipe I use is here) - and I LOVE my Tupperware rolling mat!

Roll the ball of dough flat into the shape of a rectangle that slightly longer than the length of your bread pan.

Tightly roll the dough up (cinnamon roll style).

The ends will look a little yucky, so I tuck the end under the loaf.

Drop the loaf into your bread pan (I use Norpro Nonstick Bread Pans).


Just wanted to pass along a little something that is Working for Me!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

His 'Trouble' Name

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Zachary tagged along with me when I dropped Kaleb off in nursery Sunday and while I signed Kaleb in, I heard Zachary giving the nursery workers important information.

Standing with one hand on his hip and the other hand, finger pointing and shaking he said, "Now if Kaleb gets in trouble you need to call him 'Kaleb Nathaniel'. That's his trouble name."


Kaleb isn't quite at the point where he is ready to claim responsibility for certain 'downloads' he makes every day ~ despite the fact that he is the obvious contributor.

My mom asked him the other day, "Are you poopy?"

K: "No. You poopy."

Head on over to Mary's at Not Before 7 for some more Tiny Talk Tuesday!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Schleich Action Figures

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I've walked past Schleich Action Figures while perusing Target, but didn't have any personal experience with the company until recently when a little box showed up on my doorstep with a variety of animal figures inside: a tortoise, cow, pig, chicken, bear, and more!

Then my children started squealing, grabbed them all, and left me with nothing. But ever since they arrived one of our kids has been walking around with them every day. Now the animals go to bed with one child while another carry them around in her purse. Or the animals sit on the table and stare at me during meal times. I can say that I am becoming much more acquainted with the company.

"The design of our products is as realistic and naturalistic as possible. This enables children to experience the large variety of nature - from domestic animals on a farm to wild animals in the jungle."

If you haven't seen their figures before, let me just tell you they are beautiful and quality products! The ones that we received have even brought about some fun questions from our kids since they are {ahem}anatomically correct. Each piece that Schleich creates:
  • comes with the Schleich tag featuring the company's logo
  • is in compliance with all relevant safety regulations
  • is meticulously hand painted
  • features true-to-life modeling
Schleich carries a large variety of figures: humans, farm, jungle, wild and domestic animals and also imaginative play such as knights, smurfs, elves, American frontier and dinosaurs. We are so impressed with their products that we ordered this great piece for our boys. There will be some excited little boys in this house! {And a little p.s. to any grandparents reading this...we'll need some knights to go along with the castle!}.

Schleich's products are available from online retailers such as Amazon and locally at Target, Tractor Supply and smaller toy stores. Prices for the figures start under $2 and go up, depending on the item. Start making your lists - your kids will love them!

Click on the Homeschool Crew banner to read other reviews about this product.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Think It Ink It Winner...

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Congratulations to Sarah at Growing for Christ! She was the winner of the Think It Ink It giveaway!

An All-New Kind of Diaper

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This just made me laugh so hard!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches

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I've pulled out a bunch of new recipes to try this month and one was for Pork BBQ sandwiches. It was simmering most of the day in the crock pot and I sneaked a little taste and then did a little tweaking, 'til I thought it was just right.

Overall, it is really easy...and that makes it one that I will use again in the future. Just throw everything in the crockpot and get ready for a tasty dinner! Looking at the picture below is making me think lunch tomorrow is going to be lovely too.


~ 8 ounces of tomato sauce
~ 1 cup of chopped onion
~ 1 cup of barbecue sauce
~ 3 teaspoons chili powder
~ 1 teaspoon cumin
~ 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
~ 1/3 cup brown sugar
~ 2 pounds boneless pork roast
~ hamburger buns


1. Mix first seven ingredients and pour over pork in crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

2. Remove meat when tender and shred with forks. Put the meat back in the crock pot and mix with sauce.

3. Allow it to heat through and serve 1/3 - 1/2 cup on hamburger buns.

Coleslaw is optional...but highly recommended (especially if you can convince your husband to pick up some KFC coleslaw on the way home).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Honoring Each Little Life

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~ To give you a little heads-up, this post topic is not one that you might expect from me. And it is one that might make you cry. It has been 'brewing' for quite some time and after a conversation with a friend today, I felt it was the time to share. ~

A little over five years ago, Rick and I lost a precious little member of our family, Aaron Matthew. We found out when I was 18 weeks pregnant that he had died in-utero and the next day I delivered him at the hospital. The rest of that day was spent holding him, grieving our loss and introducing him to the many friends who visited us and helped us in one of the most difficult times of our life.

Their presence and acknowledgment of his little life, no matter how brief it was, helped bring healing to our hearts in the days and weeks to come.

{Aaron's hand on Rick's fingertip}

With all that was on our minds at that time I'm not sure how the camera made it into our bag, but our brief time with Aaron was marked with many precious pictures to help us remember him. Over the years those pictures have come to mean so much to us, because even though we don't have our son with us we do have tangible proof of his life.

Recently I heard of a network of photographers (local and international) called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep that exists to assist families suffering an early infant loss or who have children in hospice situations.

"Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation gently provides a helping hand and a healing heart. For families overcome by grief and pain, the idea of photographing their baby may not immediately occur to them. Offering gentle and beautiful photography services in a compassionate and sensitive manner is the heart of this organization. The soft, gentle heirloom photographs of these beautiful babies are an important part of the healing process. They allow families to honor and cherish their babies, and share the spirits of their lives."
To give you a little glimpse into how Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation works with families, here is a clip from the Today show:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Morning Coffee

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~ Just a quick note - the links to this add-on are included in the body of this post.
Click on the word and it will take you there!~

I've been using Mozilla's Firefox browser for a few months now and have to say that I am loving it. My web browser has quit crashing every 15 minutes and on the occasion that it does shut down, I am able to open up every little window that I had been browsing without digging through my internet history.

But there is one feature that I am LOVING from Firefox. It's a great little add-on called "Morning Coffee". I do follow blogs with Google reader but don't get on too often to check anymore using that because this is so much more convenient!

Morning Coffee allows me to:
  • Keep track of daily routine websites and opens them in separate tabs
  • Organize which websites I want to open on what days - really handy to remember to check certain sites on certain days (like Works for Me Wednesday, Wordless Wednesday, Tiny Talk Tuesday, etc...)
  • Opt on which day to add a site: MWF, TTh, every day, weekends only, etc...
All I have to do is click on the little coffee cup logo on my browser toolbar and the sites for that day automatically open up - each in their own little window. I don't have to dig through my bookmarks and I can easily/quickly add any new links that I find.

Just wanted to pass along a little something that is Working for Me!

Jesus is an Adorable Superhero

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Kaleb is starting to string all sorts of words together...more than likely in an attempt to keep up with his talkative siblings and have his voice heard. The first few words he says might be understandable, but it can go downhill rather quickly, and then we sit there trying to figure out what he means.

Yesterday he sat at the table singing "Twinkle, Twinkle", but the words were running off on their own course, and any mom that has been forced blessed to listen to Dora a million times more than once might recall this little line that just cracks him up every time he sings it:

"Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder....what you ate for breakfast."

{this is where he gets the cutest little grin, scrunched up nose and just laughs at his own silliness}


Zachary was waxing philosophical on the way home last night....

Z: Did you know Jesus is pretty smart? He put mud on a man's eyes and washed it off and he wasn't blind any more.

Me: How is that smart?

Z: Well, it was smart. He's just adorable. He's like a superhero - but without a cape. And He lives in Heaven.

{I agree}

Head on over to Mary's at Not Before 7 for some more Tiny Talk Tuesday!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Think It Ink It Publishing Giveaway!!

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Think It Ink It Publishing provides story kits for children to write their own stories to professionally illustrated pictures. Their books provide only pictures that give a 'framework' for children to get their creative juices flowing and create a story that only they can tell using their imaginations. Each story is unique!

Our girls were thrilled beyond belief to get a creative story kit in the mail from Think It Ink It Publishing. Thrilled! After the package was ripped open (literally) we had to sit down immediately to look through the books and write their stories.

We received two creative writing story kits that each included 13 pages of wonderful illustrations for the girls to use as a launching pad for writing their own stories. Each kit also included:
  • a pencil
  • sticky note pad for rough drafts
  • creative writing tips
  • suggested vocabulary
Both of our girls jumped right into creating their own personal story. Words were flying so fast I had to pull out the laptop so I could type and keep up with all that they were saying. The illustrations gave them so many different options and choices on how to write their stories. They couldn't wait for me to copy what they wrote into their books. I was amazed at how much they wrote ~ and trust me, I have the hand cramps to prove how much they had to say!

Each story kit ($9.95) from Think It Ink It provides ample lines and room for your child (or you) to copy their story. They can first write it on the sticky notes provided with the kit and then write their final work onto the actual pages of the book. If you fall in love your child's masterpiece, you have the option of having the book made into a custom hardcover book ($29.95). It includes your child's name as the author, the story title, his/her photo, and a biography. You can also create a hardcover book online instead of using the initial story kit.

I am amazed at what these story kits brought out in our girls. They noticed details in the illustrations and weaved them into their stories. Several times they had to re-work their story lines because they realized things 'didn't make sense'. The story kits were almost as much for me as they were for them ~ watching the creativity flow was great! Most importantly though, they are so PROUD of what they created. They have been reading their stories over and over ~ and if you are interested in hearing them, there are several clips below of the girls reading their stories.

Think It Ink It has been generous in offering a FREE Creative Writing Story Kit for one lucky reader! All you need to do is check out their story kits and leave a comment here about which one you would choose for your child. The giveaway is open until Friday, March 13th at 8pm and I will announce the winner on Sunday the 15th. Please be sure to leave a way for me to contact you, otherwise I will draw another winner. If over 50 people enter, I will add an extra winner and two kits will be given away!

Their site also has some other great resources too: grade-level writing guidelines, links to favorite websites, writing tips for kids, and real stories that other children have written. Be sure to check out their great products ~ you won't be disappointed!

Here's a clip (about 5 minutes) of McKenna reading her book.

Here's a clip (about 4 minutes) of Laurianna reading the story she wrote.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

How to Toast a Pop Tart

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For the record, I actually went into our pantry and looked at one of the boxes and it does say "3 seconds".

But here's a good laugh for your morning.

{this is Brian Regan}

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Yummy Beef Stew

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I like a beef stew that is pretty thick and hearty. It's an added bonus that it is easy to pull together and makes the house smell oh.so.wonderful too! I've found that the crock pot is the best way to make the meat super tender and get full flavor from everything. And the 'secret' ingredient seems surprising, but it adds all the seasoning you need to make it very yummy.

Download a printable 4x6 Beef Stew recipe card for your file here.

Ingredients needed:
  • 2 pounds of stew meat, cubed (I put this in the crock pot fully frozen)
  • 8 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 can (15 oz.) petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) whole potatoes, drained and cubed
  • 2 tsp. beef bouillon or 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 3 - 4 cups sliced carrots
1. Place the meat at the bottom of the crock pot and pour the Italian dressing over the beef. Mix the beef bouillon in the water and add to the crock pot.

2. Add in the bacon, diced tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and sliced carrots.

3. Turn the crock pot on low and cook for 7-9 hours.

I do have a few other shortcuts: frozen chopped onions (because chopping real ones makes me cry like a baby) and the canned potatoes, which do not get mushy at all ~ they stay just right. The majority of the time I just pull the meat right out of the freezer and cook it from frozen. The hardest part is peeling and cutting the carrots!

Even the Fish are Strange Here

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We've been fish-sitting for the last week and my biggest fear has been that we would somehow, someway manage to kill the fish.

And that would forever be on my conscious, thank.you.very.much.

Because with two little boys who have a lack of common sense, it is entirely possible that he could be floating belly up before long.

I about lost it last night when I looked at the fish bowl and saw a most horrible sight.

How was I going to break this to the kids I was watching him for? Would a fishy-cpr intervention be necessary?

But he blinked. And continued to float around aimlessly belly-up around his bowl, a little flip of his fin here and there.

Perhaps odd characteristics are just rampant in our household and can even rub off on fish, eh?

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