29 October 2014

Easy Felt Halloween Shirts

I told them I'd give them candy if they smiled for the camera. It worked! ;)
Here's a quick, adorable Halloween (or really, any day, any holiday) craft that is simple enough kids can help. Individualize basic silhouettes with puff paint, ribbon, contrasting thread, etc. And when Halloween's over, you can rip out the seam, save the decorations and re-sew them onto a larger shirt next year!
Kate's girly ghost.
You'll Need:

1 plain t-shirt
Hot glue, puff paint, craft crystals, ribbon, etc to decorate
 1. Freehand or trace desired shape on the back of the felt.
 2. Cut out and arrange felt on shirt. Pin before sewing.
3. Sew around perimeter of felt.
4. Decorate with crystals, beads, puff paint, ribbon, etc.
Claire's adorable bat.
5. Wear proudly!
Happy Halloween!

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26 October 2014

Cheddar and Pepper Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Chicken

Built in veggies!
Long name, but it's delicious and deceptively easy to make!

4 chicken breasts
1/4 cup Italian dressing
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
About 6 strips bacon
Salt and pepper to taste

Marinate the chicken in the Italian dressing overnight (or at least two hours). Preheat the oven to 350F. Butterfly cut the chicken (cut in half but not all the way through). Season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Lay pepper strips flat on chicken then cover with cheese. Fold chicken over and wrap with a piece of bacon or two. Secure with toothpicks if needed. Bake for thirty minutes or until cooked through. For the last two to five minutes, set the oven on broil to make the bacon crisp. Serve immediately.
Thanks to Sweet C's Designs for the recipe inspiration!
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25 October 2014

White Chicken Chili

Yesterday was our church's annual Chili Cook Off. While I love my mom's chili recipe (with a side of pay-the-dentist cinnamon rolls, of course), I decided to try something different this year. A friend shared a white chicken chili recipe and I used it and ended up with the 2nd best chili (first place was also a white chicken chili--I'll have to ask what her secret is!)! While I won't claim this as a particularly healthy soup, it's delicious and perfect for crisp autumn evenings.


1 pound chicken, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cans Great Northern beans, undrained
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream

In a large stockpot, brown chicken in vegetable oil. When almost finished, add the onions and garlic, sauteing until soft. Add the beans, broth and seasonings. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, simmering for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in sour cream and whipping cream. Serve immediately.
Thanks for the recipe inspiration Liz!

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24 October 2014

DIY Sparkly Witch Broom

It's no secret that the girls and I love Halloween and since we outnumber Jack four to one, every decoration we make has to have a little flare. My sister sent some cute signs which I proudly displayed outside. That night, we made our very own witch broom to park in between. They're really simple to make and with a few beads or crystals glued on to add a little sparkle, any witch would love to be seen riding one. Kids can help if you're cautious and most of the materials are easy to find (it was a good reason to go out and weed the pasture a bit, haha), making it a quick, cost-effective Halloween decoration!
You'll need:

1 stick or dowel of desired size
Straw, dried weeds, sticks--anything long and broom bristle-like
Twine or string
Hot glue and hot glue gun
Crystals or beads
I've always got plenty of weeds and sticks lying around...
1. After selecting a broomstick and the bristles, cut the bristle material into similar lengths. While you can cut the bristles so they're smooth, I think a messy broom looks a little more witch-like. If there is such a thing.
If you're going to have a bushy broom, lay everything the same direction.
2. With the broomstick in the middle and near the bottom of the bristles (to help steady the broom while standing), wrap twine or string around the bristle material. It was helpful to have an extra set of hands and to tie a knot around the material to hold it in place before wrapping. Glue ends when finished wrapping.
3. Repeat step two once or twice more.

4. Glue crystals/beads to broomstick and bristles.
5. Display proudly!
Happy Halloween!

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22 October 2014


The (mostly) finished product.  Best $20 we've ever spent!
My parents visited over the weekend and though they're here on vacation, it's always a working vacation. This time we removed the old, cloudy, cracked windows and put in a beautiful sliding glass door and windows on either side. The best part (other than it's a crystal clear view outside and the set up is GORGEOUS) is that it cost us about a total of $20 to purchase and install everything (I'd say even more awesome than our $25 window in our Iowa home). The sliding glass door was removed from my sister's house and we nabbed the windows from a house salvage. The only real cost was spray foam to seal cracks, some screws, a piece of drywall and some plywood, some of which we already had on hand from other projects.
Here are the windows before we got started--the windows had a great view but they were old, cracked, cloudy and not sealed well. That problem's been taken care of!
How's that for thrifty?
We're making real progress on the house! Here's what it looked like before we got started.

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21 October 2014

Buttery Caramel Sauce

Here's a quick, delicious caramel sauce recipe that goes great with everything. Literally. Everything we drizzled it on automatically turned into a treat.


3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup whipping cream

In a saucepan, combine sugars, syrup and butter.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a full boil in about five minutes.  Remove from heat and cool five minutes.  Stir in whipping cream. Use over fruit, crepes, pancakes, etc. Store in refrigerator--will thicken upon cooling.
We got some really good apples off our tree this year. Yum!
Thanks to How Does She for the recipe inspiration!

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19 October 2014


Jack made us one of his favorite Mexican breakfasts.
Letting the horses out.
Here's a typical Saturday for us.
Helping make breakfast.
Finishing up the siding gap.
If I have to be teetering at the top of a ladder, I at least want the view to be awesome.
Mowing paths into the leaves.
Sliding down into leaves.
Wearing out the adults.
Taking out old, foggy, cracked windows...
...and putting in new windows and a sliding door...
...and some broken glass (at least this time it was intentional!).
Putting away the animals.
And ended with a date to (where else?) Menards.
What do you do on Saturdays?

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14 October 2014

Lasagna Soup

Quicker than lasagna but just as delicious.
This is a great substitute if you're craving lasagna but don't have the time to make and bake a traditional lasagna. Serve with garlic bread and a salad and you've got a complete meal!


2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound sausage
3 cups onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 tomatoes, chopped OR 1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped or 1/4 dried basil
6 cups chicken stock
8 ounces pasta (try rotini, bowtie, etc)
Salt and pepper to taste
8 ounce ricotta OR cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage and chop into small pieces, browning for about five minutes. Add the onions for another five minutes. Add garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes (if using) and stir for a minute. Add tomato paste and cook for three minutes. Add tomatoes, bay leaves and chicken stock. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Add pasta and cook until al dente (about 12 to 20 minutes, depending on the type of pasta). Before serving, add basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

While the soup is simmering, stir together ricotta or cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt. When the soup is ready to be served, portion into bowls and top with a dollop of cheese mixture and sprinkle mozzarella over the top.
Thanks to A Farmgirl's Dabbles for the recipe inspiration!
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12 October 2014

Puppy Love

These two barely ever sit still.
Raven's had a friend over for a week and he's just her type: active, fun-loving, loves chew treats. I think it's puppy love.
They could run like this alllllll day.

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11 October 2014

The Great Pumpkin Run

Finished fifty-fifth overall, seventh in my age group--ran the course in 26:37 (not bad for lots of hilly, slippery mud!)
It's been a few months since my last race (the half marathon back in June, to be exact) so I decided to do something fun to get back into it. I found The Great Pumpkin Race and decided to sign up.
This sweet little goat just laid around on the platform, waiting for people to bring her handfuls of oats. That's the life...
We got up a little earlier than we normally do on the weekends and went to the sprawling orchard where the even was being held. I was shocked how many people participated or were there to cheer for people running.
After parking miles and miles away (at least that's what it felt like trying to drag three little kids all the way back to the packet pick up), I got my stuff and anxiously waited for the race to commence. We visited the play area for a while then headed to the startline.
Mile three!
The course was really fun--through fields, around lakes, into a corn maze, through a forest and over bridges. If the hills weren't challenging enough, most of them were covered in slick, wet, Indiana clay that made me slip and slide in a few spots.
I want a pony!
I waved to Jack and the girls near the end then kicked it in for the finish. It wasn't a PR, but I was happy with my time, given the terrain. And I managed to finish seventh in my age group, fifty-fifth overall--not bad out of about eight hundred runners.
Got our cider!
We got our free cider and pumpkin, visited the petting zoo and played a little more before heading home. It was a beautiful morning for a race and a fun one at that!
Got our pumpkin!

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