Family is everything!

Simple Easter Treats

It is so much fun to have simple treats to stick in Easter baskets besides pure candy. Don’t get me wrong, I am truly addicted to chocolate….. But I’m trying hard to not pass that on to my daughter. It is not working. At all. Together we could devour an entire bag of chocolate candies. But I’ve digressed, back to the healthier treats!


These goldfish “carrots” are inexpensive and simple to put together. Last year I even has my daughter help me assemble them for her cousins.

You need icing decorating bags. My favorite are the “Cake Boss” ones because they so not have a logo on them like these Wilton ones do. (They are available at Target, like all good things in life!) I’ve also seen these cute ones that are preprinted to look like a carrot. Of course, they cost more. You will also need some green ribbon to tie them. Then there are lots of filling options. My favorite filler is goldfish because my daughter and nieces enjoy that as a snack, but you could also use cheese puffs, orange M&M’s, or orange jelly beans.

Simply fill them up and tie them off!


The tall M&M stacks are bags I purchased from Stampin’ Up!, there are many possibilities for filling those as well! Any small candy would work.

The pre-made ‘carrot’ bags I filled with jellybeans.  They are still cute but the Goldfish bags are my favorite!

IMG_2104 IMG_2108


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Happy 16th Birthday, Meagan!!

It is so hard to believe that 16 years ago we welcomed this precious baby girl into our lives!!  She has grown up into such a beautiful young lady that we are proud to call our daughter!!  She continually amazes me!!  We have loved watching her grow in her swimming and the addition of water polo (which I LOVE to watch!!)  She has taken her love of the water and is coaching the younger swimmers and thoroughly enjoys doing it (the paycheck now helps even more!! she use to get community hours)  Her Faith amazes me at her age and how deep it is.  She serves at church regularly and does it with a smile every time!  We love you, Meagan and cannot wait to see what awaits you in life!!

MVC-010F (2)

3 days old – Easter Sunday 1998

PicMonkey Collage

Some of my favorites of Meagan

(the world was slowly transitioning to digital when she was young, so many of her are the “old fashion” way)


Julie’s flower girl




The love of water – swimming, polo, and paddle boarding


Another favorite

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Greek Inspired Rice Bowls

The back story on this recipe is probably to long and involved! It started with my love for this new chain-restaurant near us, Piada.  It is a similar concept to Chipotle, but with Italian food.  It is wonderful, fresh, and delicious – therefore I swing by way too often! It is not really in our budget for me to constantly eat there, so when I saw this recipe on Our Best Bites, it reminded me of the restaurant and I wanted to give it a try.  However, I was not impressed by the original recipe and completely overhauled it, especially the dressing.  See, I told you, the inspiration behind the recipe is not really worth it.  What is worth it, is making this delicious meal!  It is the perfect lunch or dinner, and you can swap out any of the ingredients for other items you like or dislike.


Here is what you need:

  • 1 pound flank steak
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup rice
  • chicken broth
  • 10 oz grape tomatoes
  • 6 oz artichoke hearts
  • 6 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 6 oz feta cheese

Here is what you do:

1. First, you need to marinade the meat.  Mix together in a jar, or blender the white wine vinegar, mustard, honey, olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Shake to combine.  Pour half of the mixture in a plastic bag with the steak to marinade, 4 – 6 hours.  Reserve the remaining marinade to use later, it can sit out at room temperature.

2. Prepare the rice. I like to use chicken broth rather than water in my rice, I feel it adds more flavor.

3. Prepare the meat.  I used an indoor grill pan, but an outdoor grill, or the broiler, would also do fine.  I grilled the steak about 5-6 minutes on each side, but we like our steak a little red.  allow to rest for a few minutes and then slice thinly against the grain.

4.  Prepare the veggies.  In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil.  Saute the onion and mushroom for a few minutes, until they begin to soften.  Add the drained artichokes and tomatoes and saute for a few more minutes.

5. Build your rice bowl – start with a layer of rice, add a few slices of meat, then the veggies and top with some feta cheese.  Drizzle some of the remaining dressing and enjoy!

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The Mom’s Conference

This past weekend I executed an idea that I have had for years – The Mom’s Conference!  We had a fabulous day with old and new friends, we listened to six different speakers about topics that apply to all moms, had a delicious sit down lunch with real napkins and dishes and didn’t have to clean them up!!  It truly was an amazing day and all the feedback has been wonderful!

This is what we had as an agenda:

8:30 a.m. Doors open

9:00 a.m.  Welcome

9:10 a.m. How do busy moms fit fitness in their life

10:15 a.m. Budgeting (with a 15 minute break half way)

11:35 a.m. Common Sense Discipline

12:35 p.m. Lunch

1:15 p.m. Organizing all our papers

2:20 p.m. The importance of the husband/wife relationship

3:20 p.m. break

3:45 p.m. Saving money with coupons

All of our speakers were fabulous!!  We had Kendra Cendana owner of cXfitness talk to us about fitness and health.  We had a good friend of mine, Debi Druken, with Wells Fargo Bank talk to us about budgeting.  Dr. Paul Hauck is a child psychologist that discussed discipline.  Dawn Cannon of Finely Organized discussed how to handle all the paperwork and mail that comes into the home.  She showed us some great file systems and how to begin.  Then we had two licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Rhonda Wampler and Vickie Harmon, talk to us about our relationship with our husbands or significant others.  Last we had My Frugal Adventures, Charlene Haugsven, discuss coupons and ways to save money on groceries and household items.  Every speaker was very engaging and an hour for each speaker was not near long enough for them to dive into each of these topics!!  BUT each one got us (the attendees) thinking about things we can do to improve ourselves as moms for our families.  It was such a wonderful day!!


How do busy moms fit fitness in their life




Common Sense Discipline


Organizing all that paper!!


Relationships – I apologize to Vickie – I had lost my photographer and was left in charge – I missed her speaking.  They did a fun exercise with the silly glasses about the filter we “wear” when seeing someone else.


Saving money with coupons


One of the many small group discussions through the day.  Our presenters did a great job of engaging everyone and allowing small groups!  It really made it personal.

small groups

Our lunch was a wonderful light green salad with pasta salad with chicken.  Neither were heavy and was so much nicer than a standard conference premade sandwich and bag of chips!  Of course, we had standard muffins and fruit for the morning and Nothing Bundt Cakes bundtini for our afternoon break.

I am not quite sure how I am going to top this next year, but they are asking that I try!

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Chocolate Chipper Bars

This is my “go-to” dessert! This is that dessert where I practically have the ingredients memorized and rarely have to look them up.  This is the dessert that is fairly difficult to mess up and I could bake it half asleep.  This is the dessert for when you suddenly realize you forgot to bake something for a bake sale/school project/birthday party/any or all of the above, and you can whip this up in 30 minutes. One bowl and one pan, this is even for those “non-bakers” out there.  This is a keeper!


It is actually Missy’s recipe, but I think I make it far more often than she does ;)

Here is what you need:

  • 1 cup shortening (I like the pre-measured bars)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (or any variety)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Here is what you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream together with a hand or stand mixer: shortening, both sugards, egg and vanilla until light and fluffy.

3. Add the flour, salt and baking soda and mix on low speed until blended in.  Do not over mix.

4. Stir in the chocolate chips. Any combination or variety, even M&M’s would work.

5. Spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick spray or grease well.  Spread the batter evenly in the pan.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.  Start checking at 20 minutes for signs of doneness, the top should be evenly browned and an inserted knife should come out clean.

6.  Allow to cool completely and enjoy!


Slow Cooker Apricot (or Peach) Chicken

IMG_4669-2Were you able to make Peach-Whiskey-Barbecue Chicken? Did you lick your plate? You will, give it a try! This recipe is the perfect follow-up, because it uses the leftover peach preserves.  I do make peanut butter and jelly quite frequently, but not with peach preserves.  I was excited when I discovered this Apricot Chicken recipe – it utilized my peach preserves and was a delicious, healthy, and easy slow cooker meal!  It is both sweet and tangy – my five-year-old gobbled it up!

Here is what you need:

  • 3/4 cup Peach or Apricot Preserves
  • 1/2 cup Catalina dressing
  • 1 envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 2 – 3 chicken breasts


Here is what you do:

Mix together the preserves, dressing and soup mix in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Add the chicken breasts and cover with the mixture.  Cook on low for 4 – 5 hours.

After cooking, cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and serve with extra sauce.  I served with broccoli and rice. Enjoy!

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Stop Hunger Now

This past weekend our church, St. Augustine Episcopal Church, had a community outreach project they sponsored.  The event was called Stop Hunger Now.  You package meals that will be sent to people all over the world that are in need of food.  This was such a wonderful experience for the whole family!  Our youngest was 5 years old – what a great way to learn how to give even at such a young age!!  It is hard to find service projects for our young children.  This is also a great event for our seniors.  Some of the stations you could sit, so many were manned by our older population.   We had raised enough to sponsor two shifts and my family participated in the morning shift.  We started out getting some information about the organization and some safety rules from the Program Manager, Chris Romero.


You can see the stations set prior to us working them.  The gong was hit every time we hit 1,000 meals!  We could all take 20 seconds and cheer, but then had to keep working.  We hit the gong 11 times!!!

So there were several steps to prepping a bag.  Each bag had a vitamin pack, soy oats, dehydrated vegetables, and rice.  You would put each item through the funnel into the bag.  Then each bag was taken to a weighing station where they would remove or add rice to be a certain weight.  All of these meals are shipped to other countries, so they have weight requirements for shipping.  Then after each bag is weighed, it goes to the sealing station where they are sealed with heat.  The next station was to the packing station.  They have a grid of 18 squares, which says Stop Hunger Now, and you fill that grid twice to have 36 bags, which are then boxed.  The boxes are then loaded onto the truck.

Meal Prep

The Lovins and the Prices serving together!!

Lovins and Prices

Our fearless leader, below on the left, Jim Quinney, arranged for this wonderful outreach project.  He LOVED to cheer when the bong was hit, but then would quickly yell (in a jokingly way) “Get back to work!!”  Maddie is working with our family friends, The Prices, at a station.  Almost entirely done by five kids ages 5 to 13 with some adult supervision.  So proud of all of them!!  Meagan helped some other younger children at the weighing station, and you can see Andrew Price above manning the counting for the boxing.  Music is playing and everyone is having a great time while doing such a great service for the world!

Quinney and Maddie

Here is one of the shirts that was available for purchase, but what just amazed me was what it says and what it costs for the shirt!!  You could spend $15 on a shirt to support a cause you believe in and that $15 would feed 60 – yes 60 people!!  How many of us spend $15 on one person at a restaurant for dinner?


This is not a meal that is going to stuff you or even make your tummy full.  This is a meal that is going to provide some nourishment to keep you alive another day!!  We take for granted what we have here and the food we have (and waste!)  It is so good to have as a reminder as an adult, but even more so for my children to learn about giving and seeing how others live and survive.  We packed over 24,000 meals in less than 4 hours between the two shifts!  That is just incredible to me!!


We learned that our meals were going to the Philippines.

This is a project our church will be sponsoring again and I hope will grow each time we do it and stretch even farther into the community than what we did this time.  I highly encourage you to participate in an event like this.  I have already had several friends tell me they would like to join us next time!!


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Campfire Stew

This was the first recipe I had ever learned!!  I learned it as a Girl Scout and it has become a tradition in my family for camping.  My mom would make it ahead of time and it would be the first dinner we had camping.  You know how it is when you go camping – on a Friday night you try to get out early enough to get to the campground and then you have to set up everything.  When that is done – everyone looks at you and wants to know what is for dinner!!  Like you haven’t been busy or anything!  So this dinner became a tradition because all you have to do is reheat it so dinner can be done in less than 10 minutes and doesn’t make a huge mess!!  My kids are now disappointed if this is not their first meal camping!

It also makes for a quick dinner on a busy night -so they will occasionally get it even if we are not camping!  As my brother and I grew and ate more my mom needed to stretch this dinner, so she added pasta.  I like it this way better because it makes it more filling so I always add pasta now.  You really cannot screw this meal up!!  It also happens all in one pot!!

Brown 1 pound ground beef.  I like to add seasoning to it – sometimes it is salt and pepper, minced onion, Italian seasoning, Garlic pepper or whatever you feel like.  I just estimate on the seasoning – it is ok – you can totally wing this!!  Life won’t end if you do not measure it out!!  :)  Once the meat has browned, you add a can of tomato soup and two cans of vegetable soup.  My mom discovered vegetarian vegetable and says it has more veggies and stuff so that is what we use.  Mix it all together and heat through.  You can eat it just like this, which is quite tasty.  If you want to stretch it for more people or make it more filling – then cook some pasta while this is cooking and then toss it in after it is cooked and mix thoroughly.  Again – no measurements on this – I just guess.  That is all there is to it!!  (Do not dilute the soup – just straight from the can!)

Campfire stew

stew prep

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Bedroom wall make-over

Last year I had redone my family room wall, see the post HERE, and when I did that I had borrowed some items from my bedroom that I was ready to change as well.  I had temporarily put up and item above my bed that had been in my family room until I redid what I wanted.  Well, until I was ready to post this I didn’t realize that my “temporary fix” ended up being a year!!!  WOW – time really does fly!  I had seen the idea on Pinterest (surprise,surprise!) and had always remembered it!  Last week, I finally went out and got the pieces needed.  I am so happy with how it came out!!  Now what I didn’t realize is when I just looked up the pin so that I could give that blog credit for this fabulous idea that we actually used the same frames!!  When I was looking for them I just loved how rustic they looked and that worked great with the rest of my room (they were also cheaper than the other ones I was looking at – so win – win!!)  So the original post I saw came from weeklyhabit.blogspot.com.

Here is the before:


And here is the completed wall.  I am so excited about how it changes my room!!  Oh the little things that make us happy!!



Whiskey-Peach-Barbecue Chicken

Some nights you make dinner and your husband licks his plate and states “that’s a keeper!” (Yes, you read that correctly, licked his plate, he’s strange like that.) But despite his weirdness, I still felt good about myself – and grateful for the The Pioneer Woman and her wonderful whiskey-peach-barbecue recipe! She really couldn’t go wrong because those three things are just divine in my world – who knew that combining them would make you want to lick your plate?! The most notable change I made to her recipe was cutting it half, I don’t have to feed half a farm like she does ;)


Here is what you need:

  • 1 package boneless, skinless chicken thighs (It must be thighs, but you could use bone-on and skin-on)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup whiskey
  • 2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup peach preserves
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 peaches

Here is what you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Heat the butter and olive oil in a dutch oven pot (or large ovenproof pot) over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

3. Add the onions to the skillet and stir and cook over medium heat until translucent, about 3 minutes. Pour in the whisky, taking care if you are cooking over an open flame. Cook for 3 minutes or so, allowing the whisky to cook and reduce.

4. Add the barbecue sauce, peach preserves, Worcestershire sauce and 1/4 cup water to the sauce, then whisk to combine. Add the chicken back to the pan. Then throw in the peaches.

5. Cover the pot with a lid or aluminium foil, and then roast in the oven until the chicken is tender and falling off the bone the sauce is beautiful and rich and the peaches are soft (about 1  hour).

I served with mashed potatoes.  Let me know if you lick your plate!


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