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Friday, December 3, 2010

Living Life With Less Reviews: Old El Paso Family Taco Night

My friend Julie is giving away an Old El Paso Family Taco Night prize package on her blog!! Check it out by clicking on the link below. The prize pack includes a package of taco seasoning, a chip & dip set, a set of 3 chili pepper swerving dishes, and $10 to purchase the taco fixings for your Taco Night!! There is also a link to a printable coupon!!

Living Life With Less Reviews: Old El Paso Family Taco Night: "During this busy time of year it is so easy to get lost in the busyness and forget to spend quality time with your family. Old El Paso is e..."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Leftovers

It is Monday.  The Monday after Thanksgiving.  Do you still have a fridge full of leftovers??  I do!  I did a little searching to figure out something to do with those leftovers.  Here are a few recipes I thought I would share.

Chicken Casserole
10 oz. pkg Stove Top Stuffing
4 cooked chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 Tblsp mayonnaise 
2 Tblsp sour cream
2 eggs
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350°.  Make stuffing according to directions.  Put 1/2 stuffing in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Shred or chop chicken into 1 inch pieces & place over stuffing layer.  Mix soup, mayo, & sour cream together & spread over chicken.  Spread remaining stuffing over the soup.  Beat the two eggs with the 1 cup milk & pour over all.  Bake 1 hour.

I substituted Thanksgiving leftovers for the fresh stuffing and 2 cups leftover turkey for the chicken.   I needed to made several other adaptations to this recipe to make it dairy-free for my family (almond milk, no sour cream, and a cream soup substitute recipe), but it turned out really good!

For those leftover mashed potatoes, try searching for these recipes:
Leftover Mashed Potato Soup
Potato Pancakes
Potato Bread

Do you have any other recipes you like that help use up those Thanksgiving leftovers?? 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Week of Thanksgiving - part 4 & 5

Friday - I am so thankful for days off!  Especially the days my husband has off work.  Traditionally, we always decorate for Christmas the Friday after Thanksgiving, but we decided not to this year.  We just bummed around at home, and played with the boys.  We played a lot of Wii, which the boys loved!  No stress, no trying to make sure all the decorating was finished, no crazy Black Friday shopping, just time together as a family.  I think we might make this "Lazy Friday" a new tradition at our house!
Saturday - I am thankful for health.  My husband and boys are all very healthy, and I am SO thankful for that.  I am usually also very healthy, but lately have been having more issues than normal.  The days I feel really rotten remind me to be thankful on the good days.  (It also reminds me to be thankful for insurance and health savings accounts!)  I am thankful for what we have, because even when I am not feeling good, I know there are others out there who still feel worse than I do.  There is always someone out there who is worse off than you are.  Remember that.  It will help you keep things in perspective.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Week of Thanksgiving - part 2 & 3

Tuesday the 23rd - My Birthday!  

Today I am thankful for my family.  My family is very fortunate.  For the most part, we all live close together.  We live within 15-20 minutes of my mom, my husband's parents, and all my grandparents.   My boys are so lucky to have their Grandparents (and even Great-Grandparents!) close, and so involved in their lives.  So many kids do not have that.  I don't think my kids have any idea how blessed they really are.  And I am blessed to have my boys.  Yes, at times, they drive me crazy, but I love them.  They are good kids, and I have lots to be thankful for!
Wednesday the 24th - I am thankful for freedom - all kinds of freedom.  The freedom that we have as Americans.  Freedom in Christ.  The freedom to publicly worship God.  Freedom from worry.  Financial freedom.  All of these freedoms are ones that we enjoy, and far too often take for granted. What are you free from?

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Week of Thanksgiving

Happy Week of Thanksgiving!  I have decided to celebrate the week with a post each day this week featuring a Thank You card (or two) and one of the many things I am thankful for.

Monday -   First and foremost, I am so thankful for my husband.  I do not say it enough; to him, or to others.  He is truly a remarkable man.  He is very diplomatic and even tempered.  If you know me well, then you know I am neither of those things, so he balances me out I guess.  :) He is an excellent father - very involved in our boys' lives every single day. He has an uncanny knack for finding those "teachable moments" and making the most of them. He is a faithful man of God, and is teaching our boys to become men of God. He is a good provider.  He is a hard worker, and does a wonderful job at work, and at the same time, he is not a work-aholic.  With his line of work, he easily could be, but he chooses to make his family top priority, and I appreciate that.  He is trustworthy and dependable.  I have no fear or worry whatsoever regarding our future or our marriage.   He loves me, and I know it.  I often don't deserve it, but even when I am completely unlovable, he loves me unconditionally.   Every day I thank God for bringing him into my life.  The Lord has blessed me in so many ways, and I know that my husband is one of the greatest of those blessings. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Roaring River 2010

Wow.... I remember going to Roaring River as a kid with our church. It was an annual "family weekend" event at South Haven, and it is still going strong! Having recently returned to South Haven, we decided to take the boys this year. AJ kept talking about it & saying he wanted to go fishing. I am so glad we decided to go. They had a BLAST!!! They reserved the upper pool area where they hold fishing clinics for the kids from our group. It was a great opportunity to teach the kids how to fish in a reserved spot.

Both of my boys caught their first fish!

We had a good time, made lots of memories, & can't wait to go back soon!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Tooth Fairy and Friends

My friend Shelley posted on her blog about her 9 year old daughter losing another tooth, and asking "the big question." Someone commented that when kids find out the tooth fairy & santa clause aren't exactly who they thought they were, it is the end of an era. How true. But that prompted me to want to write about the topic as well. Just because one era is coming to an end doesn't mean it has to be all sad.

AJ asked when he was 6. He had just pulled his 3rd tooth. He came in & handed it to me as he was getting ready for bed. I said something to the effect of "aren't you going to put it under your pillow for the tooth fairy?" He told me he knew it was me & daddy who took the tooth & left the money. He said "I know the tooth fairy is not real. Just like I know Santa Clause is not real." We'd had the Santa discussion when he was 4. FOUR! So early in life for a kid to be so serious, and at the same time, so smart. I took the opportunity to make a special memory - with the tooth, by pulling out his baby book & showing him the tooth chart where I had written in the dates when his teeth came in. I had also saved all of the teeth he has lost in tiny baggies & attached them to that same page with the dates he lost them. He thought that was pretty cool. Now when he loses a tooth, he wants to put it in the baby book. A new special memory. :)

With Santa, we talked about how the story of Santa came about. We talked about St. Nicholas, and about giving toys to kids who don't have new toys for Christmas. We talked about the opportunity we have to be Santa for someone else. We have done that every year since... He wraps presents for other little boys who are in need, and we deliver them to the porch, ring the bell, then hide to watch the family find the gifts, complete with tags saying "From Santa". He loves this tradition. Sometimes he wraps up his own toys he no longer plays with, sometimes we go to the store & shop for our special family of the year. One year we actually ended up delivering toys to a family who lived next door to my grandmother. Sometimes we do it by ourselves, sometimes we do it with another family. Each time, we make a special memory.

The truth finding phase is indeed the end of an era, but it is also a chance to make other memories that can be just as special.

Monday, August 30, 2010

FREE Memo Pad from Artscow!

Click here to get a free small memo pad from
Even the shipping is FREE!
Limited to the first 2000 people who order.
I ordered mine this morning!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

1st day of 1st grade

Yesterday was AJ's first day of FIRST GRADE!! ack! I have no idea how he grew up so fast... Hunter will be starting preschool at Carpenter's Kids this year too. Oh, how time flies....

But I have to say, this is one of the many reasons why I am so grateful to be a stay-at-home-mom. I can be there to take them to school, pick them up from school, or walk with them to & from the bus stop. I have the freedom to be involved in PTA, book fairs, and other special activities at school, and to take them lunch on random "just because" days. Thankfully they are still young enough to think it is cool when Mom is at school... I am sure those days are short lived!! ha!

I am thankful that my Longaberger business has allowed me the freedom to be my own boss... to work when I want, and not when I don't, and still make money to help pay family expenses, and also afford the extras. It started out as a way to support my own love for Baskets & Pottery, but has become so much more. It has helped my family reach our goal of financial freedom. It has helped me stay home when my boys needed me. It has provided a way for me to support my Basket & Scrapbook addiction without draining family funds. It provides a way for me to get out & make friends that I would not have met otherwise. I feel good about representing an American owned company that offers quality, handcrafted products that are Made in America. Thanks Longaberger! If you want to be a part of my team, let me know!

Our Busy End to Summer

After having an awesome time at the Bee in Columbus, Ohio, we came home for a grand total of 8 days, we were on the road again. This time to Chicago for family vacation!

None of us had ever been to the Windy City, and needless to say, there was WAY more to do there than what we had time for!! Here is how our trip broke down:

Aug 4:
Travel Day. 8.5 hours from Nixa, MO to Chicago, IL. Actually, we stayed in Schaumburg, a suburb to the NorthWest of Chicago, because it was closer to LegoLand. We arrived in time to hit the mall next to our hotel to find something for dinner. Woodfield Mall turned out to be an awesome place! Great play area for the kids, and when we walked in, we walked right into a Rainforest Cafe! Great place for a fun dinner after being on the road all day.

Aug 5:
LegoLand Discovery Center!! Where as most people can get through this in 3 hours or so, we devoted a whole day to it for our crew. AJ is so obsessed with Legos we wanted to give him as much time as possible.

Aug 6:
Shedd Aquarium. Again, almost an all day thing, for us to see it all! The kids loved the Fantasea show where we got to see Pacific Dolphins, Penguins, and Beluga Whales. They also loved the different play areas for the kids; exploring in a submarine, dressing up like penguins, and touching real starfish!

Aug 7:
Field Museum, Adler Planetarium & the Skydeck. Sue the T-Rex was definitely the highlight of the Field Museum for all of us!! This is the 10th anniversary of Sue, and extra special for us because James' college roommate got to help work on Sue when he was working at the Field Museum after college. They were also doing a large Lego mural, which of course we all took part in. The Planetarium was very cool too - especially the kids area where they could drive lunar rovers, walk through "space" and wear a Mission flight jacket! After that we went downtown & ate dinner at Giordano's, then went up to the SkyDeck of the Willis Tower, more popularly known as Sears Tower. The photo of this is actually a large Lego version of the tower that was in the lobby. :)

Aug 8:
Museum of Science & Industry and Kohl Children's Museum. S&I was amazing - way more than what I expected. An interactive periodic table was one of my personal favorites. The boys loved the lightning show and the 40-foot tornado in the weather exhibit. It was also very cool to see the U-505 exhibit. The Kohl Children's Museum was so much fun. It was great for the boys to have a museum where they could touch and play with everything!

Aug 9:
LegoLand, part 2. We took the boys back to the Lego store at Woodfield Mall and LegoLand again until noon, then headed for home. All in all, it was a very memorable vacation, and I think everybody had a GREAT time!!

There are so many things we wanted to do but didn't have time for. We didn't do anything on Navy Pier, there is another Children's Museum we would like to go to sometime, and we did not see Millineum Park or Grant Park. Obviously, there were many, many more photos than this see all the photos, check out my facebook page. Now... all I have to do is start SCRAPPIN'!!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Please Excuse Me While I Rant...

4 years ago today, my Daddy was murdered. By a drunk. Please, people, if you don't have sense enough to know when to stop, then don't start. And for Heaven's sake, whatever you do, don't drive. Seriously. I try not to be angry. But some days it just doesn't work. Today is one of those days. I am angry, and I have every right to be angry. 4 years ago today, a woman stole my father's life by being stupid. By drinking so much, her blood alcohol level should have killed her. By getting in a truck and driving so fast, the cops couldn't catch up with her. By being so drunk, she didn't know she was driving the wrong direction on a divided highway. By driving when she didn't have a driver's license to begin with. (Yes, it had already been revoked for her having multiple DWI's.) She took his life. She took my Daddy, and my boys' Papaw. And she lived. Fair? Hardly. So yes, I am angry. But I am also sad. Sad because the world lost an amazingly creative and talented man 4 years ago. Sad for what my youngest son has never known. (I was pregnant with him at the time.) Sad for what my oldest son knew and has had taken away from him. Sad because no matter how old I get, I will always be my Daddy's girl, I will always miss him, and I will never get him back as long as I remain on this earth.

So today, like every other day, I have to pull myself up. Draw my strength from the One who knows why. Put on a smile. Teach my boys how to persevere. Find a way to give thanks. Remember how to praise in the midst of the storm.

I was sure by now,God, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone how can I carry on
if I can't find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away


I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth


by: Casting Crowns

Friday, July 23, 2010

Attn: Chocolate Lovers

For quite some time, Longaberger pottery lovers have requested Chocolate Brown pottery. Last December, an 8x8 baking dish was offered in Chocolate to go along with the Hershey's Kiss basket, and customers fell in LOVE! From then on, the requests grew louder and more frequent... we want MORE CHOCOLATE!! Well, CHOCOLATE POTTERY IS HERE!! You can begin placing orders for the Chocolate Pottery on September 1st, 2010. Until then, here are a few photos from the BEE to get your tastebuds going...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bee Product Reveal!!!

Here is a sneak peak at some of the NEW products revealed today at the Bee!

Longaberger Bee News!!

Here I am in Columbus Ohio!! We are on a lunch break right now, so I thought I would update on some of the NEW products you can expect to see this fall!!

Revealed this morning:

For Collector's Club Members:
Candy Apple Basket
Family Together Series Giving Thanks Basket
Cornucopia Basket

A whole new line of wrought iron!

New Pottery:
Small Oval Casserole dish with matching Basket
Large Oval Casserole dish with matching basket

and... several have requested, and Longaberger listened....

***drum roll please***


photos to come later since I don't have an iphone :(

Monday, July 19, 2010

What I did this weekend

We finally did it! The boys (especially AJ) have been wanting to share a bedroom for a while now, and we finally got them moved in to their "new rooms" this weekend. Both boys are now in the smaller room with bunk-beds and sharing the big dresser my Daddy made. We bought another shelf and installed it in the closet so all of their clothes hang in there together.

The other room is now the Play Room. They LOVE it!! we have toys & stuffed animals in the toy box my Daddy made right next to the rocking horse my Papaw made. The Lego Table from Aunt Rose is sitting in the corner. The fish tank, Legos, Coloring books & art supplies are on the bookcase PoPo made.

The GeoTrax and other large toys are under the big table. So far it has been a Rokenbok table, a Train table, and a Zhu Zhu World table. The little chair in this picture has been through 3 generations of McNeal boys now... first PoPo, then James, and now AJ & Hunter.

There is a ton of open floor space in the middle of the room... perfect for Lego building and train tracks.

In the Play Room closet we added a half-shelf for extra storage. We hung all of their play costumes in the closet. Pirates, Kings, Knights, Dragons and Doctors come to life in that closet. They have already been 3 or 4 different things today, now that their costumes are so much easier to get to.

All in all, I think we had a very productive and successful weekend!

On to the next adventure...
tomorrow, I leave for the LONGABERGER BEE!!!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bad bad blogger....

Ok, so here are the scrapbook layout pictures I should have posted over a month ago. The photos are not great, and I apologize. I tried editing them, and never was happy with the results, so I decided to just forget it & post them "as is". I took these on my kitchen table at night, so you will have to forgive me for some weird lighting issues.