Thursday, January 31, 2013

crockpot freezer cooking

At the beginning of the year I decided that I truly needed to make a commitment to feed my family well.  Over the past fifteen plus months I have been flyinh by the seat of my pants.  Making something if I feel like it, eating leftovers or cereal for supper, getting take out or going out to eat.  This is problematic for two reasons.

First is that it is unhealthy.  Serving sizes are huge when you eat out.  There is a ton of butter, oil and salt added to so many things that is completely unnecessary.  And, cereal for supper?  I don't think a heaping bowl of Apple Jacks is considered a well-rounded dinner.  I have always made it a priority for the boys to eat well, but now they are really able to eat table food consistently.  They are no longer only surviving on black beans, sweet potatoes and homemade baby food!  So, if they are going to start eating what Jordan and I eat every night, it's going to have to be something other than cereal and japanese.

Secondly, it is super expensive to eat out or run in the grocery store every other night to grab just a few things and walk out with twelve impulse buys!  We try to convince ourselves that it's not expensive.  But, when you get right down to it, you can cook a nice meal for $6-7 for a family of four (we'll talk about that in a few minutes :)) or you spend at least $15 to eat (and that's fast food - it's more anywhere else)!  And see, I also mentioned family of four.  Because we have these two little monsters that inhale food!  Seriously, they eat more than I do some meals.  They are tiny but I'm telling you, they both have crazy appetites.  And, from what I hear, with two boys, it's only going to get worse! 

So, I've decided to get serious about having a plan.  I have actually kept this going for like three weeks, so that's a good start.  The theme of my life lately has been start something, get super pumped about it, and then fall off the bandwagon.  But, three weeks is a good start!  So, I've started choosing the meals I want to cook at the beginning of the week.  Putting all the recipes in the front of my recipe binder, buying the ingredients that I need for those recipes and then choosing each day which one I feel like making.  It gives me enough flexibility to stick with it.  Also, I found a bunch of new recipes which helps because I'm excited to try something new instead of cooking my same old things.  A ton of the recipes have been crockpot meals because I've realized that it may just be the key to my success for the next twenty years.  4:30/5:00 pm is a difficult time.  The boys are up from their nap, Jordan may call and say he's going to be a little late, the boys are under my feet as I try to pull something together and I get frustrated and it quickly becomes an equation for a difficult night.  So, now I cook supper at 9:30 am.  When the boys go down for their morning nap.  Then, I don't think anything else of it until 6 pm when it's go time.  It's fabulous.  I decided maybe I could take it one step further and look into crockpot freezer cooking.

With crockpot freezer cooking you throw all of your ingredients in a gallon ziplock bag (with instructions written on the bag) and freeze.  Then, you just dump the contents of the bag into the crockpot and bam, you're done.  I found my recipes here and here and convinced my girlfriends that they needed to do it too so that I could actually enjoy the process of making my bags.  So, on Tuesday night we got together and went to get our groceries.  Then, came back to The Taj and spent a few hours dealing with more raw chicken than we could have ever wanted to in our entire life.

We were able to make all of these meals!

And, get this, the total for my seven meals was $44.  So, $6.28 per meal for a family of four.  It's awesome.

The only catch?

If the meal isn't good.

We had the first one tonight and it was a total bust.  It was the honey rosemary chicken.  It will not be making the list for round two.  That's for sure!

But, at least we were quick on our feet and found a good backup plan. 

 How's that for sticking to my plan?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

project 52.40


It's so crazy how quickly time has flown by.  I have absolutely loved y'all being little. And, with you being preemies, I got to enjoy you being itty bitty for a little longer than most.    But now, y'all are starting to get big!  So, big that we had to finally get rid of the mullets {oh my gosh, why did we wait so long?}.  

It's hard to believe.  I didn't think it would be as bittersweet for me as it has been.  I have truly loved every second of both of your sweet little lives.  And it's so hard to fathom that the next stage of life could be any better than the one we are currently in.  Then, I am blown away when I am even more in love with you the next day.  I can't wait to continue being blown away by how much more I can love and enjoy y'all than I ever thought possible.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

thursday hodgepodge.

Hey y'all.  Happy Thursday!  How about a list of the random things on my mind this afternoon?

1.  I have written a bajillion blog posts in my mind.  Sadly, I don't make the time to actually sit down and type them out.

2.  It gets on my nerves when people say that they didn't have time for something.  Really, you have time for lots of things.  You just choose your priorities.  I don't know why it irritates me so much.  I guess I just want people to own up to the fact that they choose to do certain things and if they don't "have time", it just means that it's not as important as something else.  Wow - don't know where all that came from?  Haha.

3.  I've got January goals that I'm working on.  I didn't actually post them but, I'm working on them :) I also need to make a more concrete list of my 2013 goals.  I have a few of those too, but I need them posted somewhere.  It holds me more accountable.  And, with staying at home, days can run into days can run into days.  I've gotta make sure to be super intentional about prioritizing my days and making each minute count.  Even if it's rest, just making sure that I allot times for certain things and get them done! 

4.  I'm trying to cook every night.   For a couple of different reasons.  To save money - eating out (especially with two little monsters) is expensive!  And to be healthier - it's crazy how much butter and oil and other junk is added when you eat out.  At home I can control more of that!  It's gone well so far - it just takes planning!   Well, that and a lot of crockpot meals.

5.  I have been trying to do a little "soul searching" (if you want to call it that :)).  I'm trying to figure out if I want to truly pursue some kind of business opportunity (photography or an etsy shop or something else?).  I love staying at home.  I truly love it.  It's so crazy to be living my dream at the age of 26.  People spend their whole lives searching for their dream job.  I get to live mine.  Every day.  It's such a blessing.  But, I also know that I would love to work for my self one day - I just have to figure out what I want to be doing and start somewhere.  Starting something and then knowing that I'll have the option to pursue a passion of mine and make some money once our kids are in school.  I know it will be a while but I can't just wait until they are in school and then try to build a business. I want to pursue something now.  Work hard at it and become successful.  It will take time.  But, I have a few years to figure it out.  Praying a lot about this.

6.  Speaking of photography - I really want a new camera.  I've been looking for months and months and drooling over a couple of different ones.  It's a big investment and mine works just fine - I would just love some features of the big boy!  I guess I'm going to hold off a little longer.  But I'll keep drooling, that's for sure!

7.  I've been doing this workout video.  Y'all it is good.  No cardio - just sculpting and breathing.  Similar to pilates.  And I love it.  You should look into it.  I looks like they sell it at lots of places.
8.  I want to redesign my blog.  I see all kinds of pretty ones out there.  Sheesh - I have too many hobbies.  I need some focus.  I want to learn how to do all kinds of fun stuff.  But, I don't make time to get super good at any of my hobbies because I spread myself so thin!  But, I guess that goes along with being intentional with my time and making time to do the things I'm excited about.  Instead of wasting time reading facebook statuses of "friends" that I haven't seen in 10 years :)

Okay, that's my brain dump for this afternoon.  I've gotta get the kitchen cleaned up and the playroom picked up for the 18th time before the boys wake up from their nap.  My college girlfriends are coming for supper!  So excitedddddd!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

sneak peek - marion family.

This weekend I got the chance to photograph a beautiful family.  It was a gorgeous afternoon to take pictures and a perfect location.  I had such a blast.  Couldn't wait to get a little sneak peek up on the blog!  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

project 52.39


Y'all love your mama. 
And, I'd be lying if I said I didn't love it.  

Your Uncle Colby was the same way with your MiMi.  He was attached to her hip.  Like constantly.  In fact, she directed an entire VBS one summer with him on her hip.  Papa (my dad's dad) always told my mom that it was better for her to love us too much than not enough.

My mama, your MiMi, has reminded me of that often.  As I am holding both of you - one on each hip - while there are tons of other people around to help me but you only want to be with me.  She mentions quietly, as others comment about the two of you being mama's boys, that it's okay.  She'll lean over and say, "you know what PaPa says...".  

And she's right.  He's right.  
I will enjoy this time.  Because it won't last forever.  I will be okay when sometimes supper doesn't get cooked or the bathrooms don't get cleaned because you need me.  I'm so thankful to be needed.  One day you won't be as attached to me (although I secretly hope you're always mama's boys).  So, I will cherish every second of it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

the children's museum.

I'm not going to lie, I'm a little protective about this secret I'm about to let you in on. 
But, it's so good, it's hard to stay quiet about it!

A children's museum just opened in downtown Graham and so far it is the best kept secret in town.  

For Christmas this year we gave the twins a membership for the year.  To be honest, I'm not sure who it is more of a gift for.  The boys or me!  

The museum is only a couple of miles from our house and it's right off Main Street.  So, we go for a run and stop at the museum when we're done.  Or, we go for an hour before nap time.  It's a change of scenery for the boys.  They can play and I can take pictures or read or just sit for a few minutes.  It makes for a wonderful break, believe me!

The under two section is my favorite.  It's enclosed so the boys can explore without me having to constantly redirect them.  Also, there's only one way in and out so I know we're completely safe when it's just us in there.  I'm not on constant edge about making sure I can see both boys at all times.  

I'm actually pretty territorial over our little under two section.  When someone else comes in I kinda stare them down in hopes that they'll feel super uncomfortable and leave us alone.  Just kidding.  Kinda.

Except when it's their daddy who shows up at the gate.  He stopped by while we were there today and spent a few minutes playing.  

He's such a good daddy.  I hope Crews and Tate come to understand just how blessed they are.

Anywhoo, back to the museum.  Like I mentioned, it's a nice little secret.  We live in a small town and the museum is new.  We were talking last week about how we were hoping that it would do well.  And truly, I do hope it does well.  But, I have to say, I was also glad when school started back around here so that we could have a quiet random mornings or afternoons there.

Okay, enough talking and a few more pictures from this afternoon:

Monday, January 7, 2013

boot camp.

Y'all, it's getting crazy here in The Taj!  
We've got a baby boot camp going on this week.  

Really, I'm exaggerating but I am reading Pre-Toddler Wise.  I know there are lots of Baby-Wise-haters out there and I totally stand by "to each his own".  But, for us, it has worked beautifully!  We have definitely chosen to adapt parts of it and used what worked for us.  Overall, it has been wonderful.  

So, I realized the other day that I was probably a little behind on starting the next book.  This realization came after Tate got mad a few times and tried to roll out the lip and let the alligator tears flow.  As soon as nap time started, I found the next book in Baby Wise and realized that the second book I have is Baby Wise Part II.  It's for 5-12 months.  So yes, I definitely had some catching up to do!  

I finished that book and got Pre-Toddler Wise to read this week.   It has been great.  I love a more concrete plan.  And let's be honest, most of the time I'm just winging it.  So, I've really enjoyed having a goal in mind of how to handle different aspects of raising mobile, independent little 14 month olds!  There are some really great recommendations on how to teach them, structure their days and work on behavior.  

I am excited to try some new tricks and see how it goes.
I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

let's do this!

Y'all, I am excited about 2013!

There's something about a fresh start that makes my heart beat a little faster.  Like even faster than it does when I buy a new planner or check all the items off my to do list.  I spent the first few days at my parent's house.  Now I am home and feeling like the new year is just starting! Just a few days late :)

So, to start off the year, I figured I would fill you all in on my goal for the year.  


When people have asked me about what my resolution is for the year, I feel like there has to be a lengthy explanation.  It is love.  But there is so much behind that word.  So much that I haven't always understood or meant when I said that word.

Over the last 14 months of staying at home I have asked the same question over and over.  "What is the purpose of life?"  Like, the basic reason for life.  Taking away all the extras and all the complicated answers {I know, I know...roll up your pants...we're gettin' deep up in here}.  I think the reason I have asked this question so often over the past year is that wiping highchairs and hineys and cleaning bathrooms and babies sometimes doesn't seem super significant in comparison to what others do with their days.  

But, the more I have asked, the more assured I have become of the answer:

Love God.  Love people.

That is what we are here for.  I want my life to have worth.  True worth.  To live every single day with a purpose.  And that purpose should be love.  

So, what does that look like?

The world has a view of productivity that doesn't seem to offer a lot of room for love.  Sometimes, in fact often, love doesn't look like worldly productivity at all.  To love, you spend time with people.  Not just enough time to check "a visit with grandma" off the list or a quick phone call to make you feel better about not visiting lately.  But real, time consuming love.  Being willing to put a to do list on the back burner to make someone feel loved.  Putting in the time.  Looking for the opportunity.  Putting relationships above time, money, a clean house, perfectly dressed kids.  

I want to know that my days are productive.  So, when someone asks me what I've done that day, I can confidently answer.  Not feeling guilty or like my day is less important because I've not attended four meetings, gained three new customers or presented information to a group of directors.  But instead, knowing that my main goal in this life is love.  And that if I have loved and taken care of my kids well, found opportunities to serve my friends and family, and worked hard to love...then I have been productive.

Love is messy.  Not to-do list oriented.  Not punctual and pulled together.  
But required.  
It's what we are here for. 

So I'm starting with 2013.  

let's do this!