Friday, August 11, 2017

Swedish Meatballs Recipe and more

One of our favorite meals has become Swedish Meatballs.  Honestly…I was never a meatball person.  So I never really cooked them for my family.  But in January we joined BJ’s and I found that a big bag of meatballs was really cheap.  So I started searching Pinterest for recipes, and experimenting on my family. And I found that the kids really like meatballs!  They especially like Swedish meatballs, though I usually take the big bag and make one meal of Swedish Meatballs and one meal of Honey Garlic Meatballs.  So we have Swedish Meatballs night and it’s everyone’s favorite.  There are never any leftovers!  And we really haven’t gotten past those two recipes yet because we like them so much! 

These are the original recipes that I found:

But of course… I have tweaked them to be a little more my style.

IMG_5576Swedish Meatballs

  • 1 can cream mushroom soup
  • 1 can (15 oz.) beef broth (close enough to 2 cups, and uses the whole can so there’s no leftovers)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestshire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. steak sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • dash pepper
  • 2.5 pounds meatballs (original recipe called for 28 ounce bag…I use half of my BJ’s bag)
  • 1 cup sour cream

Place all ingredients from mushroom soup to pepper in slower cooker and stir to combine.  Add meatballs and stir to coat all meatballs with the sauce.  Cook on low for 4 hours.  Remove meatballs to a bowl.  Add sour cream to sauce in slow cooker and whisk to combine well.  You could also transfer the sour cream and the sauce to a skillet and heat on medium to thicken, but I don’t like the extra dishes.  {wink}  Pour sauce over meatballs and serve over egg noodles.  (I cook up about 3/4 a bag of egg noodles).  Watch them disappear!

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Meatballs

(I have adapted the original recipe ingredients to make a bigger portion)

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 40 ounces (2.5 pounds) frozen meatballs.  (I get the Italian style meatballs at BJs)

Place all ingredients except meatballs into slow cooker and whisk to combine.  Hint – spray the measuring cup with cooking spray before measuring the honey and it will slide right out with much less mess!  Add meatballs and stir to coat.  Cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.  Serve over rice.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Finished with School!

I was very excited to send off my last grade report today!  Nolan finished school a couple of weeks ago, and Elaine completed her last subject today.


IMG_4108    IMG_4106

Super proud of Nolan!  He’s reading very well, and he excels at math.  In fact, he’s going to do first grade math this summer so that he can bump up to second grade math!  He cried when I told him that he was on his very last math paper for the year!

Elaine's Last Day of 2nd Grade

Elaine's Last Day of 2nd Grade     Elaine's Last Day of 2nd Grade

Elaine is also doing well.  Excellent, actually.  She pulled straight A’s this year, with her lowest average for the year was a 95.  She is beyond bored with her reading program because she is reading at a much higher level than her age.  In reading she was supposed to read three chapter books.  The teacher said, “Have you ever read a whole chapter book before?”  Um, yes.  Dozens upon dozens.  She can whiz through a Boxcar Children book or a Mandie book in a day.  I really need to get back to a public library because my wallet can’t afford all these books!  Needless to say, we are going to move up to fourth grade reading next year!

Big difference from the first day of school!  Proud mama here!

First Day of School 2016

Quinoa Casserole with Homemade Enchilada Sauce

My friend Danielle passed this recipe (don’t really like the title of her blog) for a Quinoa casserole on to me.  We like it a lot!  But I’ve made a few tweaks… 

When I went to make the casserole the first time I hadn’t been able to get any enchilada sauce at Aldi.  So I looked up a recipe to make my own.  The result was this super fragrant, delicious (and easy) enchilada sauce that I now use to make the casserole each time. 

Quinoa Casserole

1 cup quinoa, prepared according to package directions
1 recipe enchilada sauce
1 can corn, drained (you could also use frozen…)
1 can black beans (or 2 cups cooked black beans.  I like to cook a whole bag at once and freeze in two cup portions so I can pull it out for recipes like this).
Cilantro (I use dried, because I don’t cook with it enough to justify buying a whole bunch)
Salt & Pepper to taste
3/4 cup shredded cheese
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese

Follow the rest of the instructions as listed at the link.
I’ve found that I don’t need the extra spices because the homemade enchilada sauce is so delicious.  I make it just as instructed, even though it’s for the kids, because the added ingredients in the casserole tone down the spice.  Also, by adding extra corn and black beans the casserole serves us for two meals.  We garnish it with sour cream, hot sauce, and dip tortilla chips into it. 
This was the first time I had ever cooked with quinoa.  I wasn’t thrilled to pay $3+ for a small bag, when I get a bigger bag of rice for $1.29.  But I got three casseroles out of the bag, so that’s still pretty frugal.  And in fact, the last time I made it, I only had 1/3 cup quinoa left, so I added some cooked rice to it.  I couldn’t tell the difference.  It’s still a frugal choice, either way.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Twinsie Four Year Portraits

Nehemiah 4 Year Portraits
Couldn’t resist this one since its a face I see multiple times a day!

Nehemiah 4 year Portraits   Nehemiah 4 year Portraits

Nehemiah loves all things boy and sports.  He is a very fast runner and gets easily discouraged when he doesn’t win!  He always wants his hair buzzed because he doesn’t like me to comb it.  He is almost OCD about a lot of things…which makes him fairly neat and organized.  He gets dressed and makes his bed first thing upon waking up every morning.  Nehemiah loves Bill Peet books and “Are You My Mother.”  His favorite movie (along with all of my kids) is Wild Kratts, and his favorite animal is wild horse.  (But if you ask him tomorrow the answer may be different!)  Nehemiah loves tacos and anything served with sour cream.  He can usually be easily located because he is always singing.  He tends to be monochromatic but is learning to add more color to his pictures.

Twins 4 Year Portraits  Twins 4 Year Portraits

Twins 4 Year Portraits   Twins 4 Year Portraits
These two play well together, although we are already hearing “I’m taller” from Nehemiah and “Yeah, but I’m the oldest” from Liberty!

Liberty 4 Year Portraits

Liberty 4 Year Portraits    Liberty 4 Year Portraits

Liberty is half girly-girl and half tomboy! She loves her purses and lip balm and baby dolls but gets right in there with whatever Nehemiah and Nolan are doing too.  On walks she can usually be found on her hands and knees digging in the dirt looking for bugs and rocks. Sometimes we call her the “bug whisperer”.  She is still a water baby and is in her happy place whenever water play is involved. She also loves anything served with sour cream, and is a sweet tea drinker!  Liberty loves Wild Kratts and “Horton Hatches the Egg” (along with any Bill Peet books).  She still has curly red hair and a fiery attitude to go with it.  She’s a pretty good helper around the house and can’t wait to start school like Elaine.  One of her favorite activities is feeding the sheep and goats at the zoo.  She loves stickers and coloring and all things art.

Double the Trouble!

Double the Fun!

I love my twinsies!

Friday, May 12, 2017

These are a few of my favorite things…


I don’t always feel it in each moment on my mommyhood journey, but these kiddos are right at the top of my “favorite things” list.  Henry is a constant terror these days, but the others are growing up fast and becoming more independent, and even more helpful around the house on most days.

After my hubs and my kids, here are some more favorites.

/// Blogs ///

I love the Every Bitter Thing is Sweet Blog by Sara Hagerty, and I can’t wait for her new book to be released in August.  These three recent articles have challenged and blessed me:

Club 31 Women is another favorite with a smattering of articles on a wide range of subjects.  I don’t agree with her position of “separation” on everything, but most articles are very good!  (She has a lot of contributors, so some writers I have learned to just not read).

/// Chatbooks ///

I’m still in love with my Chatbooks subscription and it has given me a shelf full of scrapbooks of our daily life from the last four years with no more effort that pushing “share” on my Instagram posts.  Automatic shipping and billing and a flat fee of $8 a book is a no-brainer!

/// Kid Safe Essential Oils ///

I do not think EO’s are the solution to every ailment, but I do have several applications for them.  I always check out the Learning About Essential Oils website and the Using Essential Oils Safely facebook page, as I believe many people use and apply EO’s incorrectly (especially as regards children).  I bought the “Ban the Bugs” bug repellent blend which is made of only child safe oils.  I diluted it with Witch Hazel Hydrosol and water, and added Geranium Egyptian for ticks.  (Interesting…Ben confirmed this addition when he said the ancient Egyptians used to place Geraniums as pest control).

We have a plethora of ticks on the property where we are living, and even when my kids don’t go in the grass, they come inside with ticks on them.  We used this blend and playing IN the grass and had no ticks!  Also, Nehemiah is allergic to bug bites, so we use a lot of bug spray.  I don’t care for the smell of most store-bought sprays, but I can tolerate the sweet smell of essential oils!  Next time I am going to make my own blend using Lea’s Bug Off! Tick Off! recipe and try that for effectiveness.  I also love the Bug Bite Soother in a roller bottle as an itch relief application.

/// Coffee ///

I have taken to drinking half-caff coffee (so that I can drink more cups during the day…sometimes this is true!), but I really like buying plain coffee and sprinkling a little bit of cinnamon and nutmeg over the grounds before I brew it.  Makes for a delicious flavor!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Twins Turn Four!

Four years ago we doubled our kiddos in one shot with the arrival of Liberty & Nehemiah.  I made it to 37 weeks and a day, but I was desperate for them to come long before 36 week (full term for twins!).  It was about 4 a.m. on Tuesday, April 30th (my only pregnancy which did not end on a Thursday) when my water broke and we started preparing to head to the hospital.  As soon as they had me checked into a room and an epidural in place, Liberty was born.  Nehemiah was pretty comfortable where he was, so it was 35 minutes before he arrived.  And yes, Liberty has already started telling him that she is older!

The twins wanted macaroni and cheese for dinner (big surprise there!) and a trip to the Bronx Zoo.  It was also the Little League season opener so we went to the zoo after that.  Grandma and Grandpa came down from Massachusetts to go with us!  We rode the monorail for the first time to see the Wild Asian animals, and enjoyed several other exhibits as well.

On the Monorail to Wild Asia!


Twins 4th Birthday

Bronx Zoo for Twins 4th Birthday
The tiger decided to take a swim right as we rounded his corner!

Bronx Zoo for Twins 4th Birthday

IMG_3922  IMG_3928
We decided to have Beauty and the Beast on the cake this year!

IMG_3942  IMG_3943
I love their delight over the simplest things!

Twins 4th Birthday   Twins 4th Birthday
The birthday twins – matching piggy banks!  I was thrilled to find some that were plastic instead of glass!  And it was perfect that several people gave them money to add to their banks!  (Though we are now struggling to put money in the offering plate at church because they want to add it to their piggy banks)

Twins 4th Birthday
Painting books from Grandma & Grandpa Hamilton

Bill Peet books from Grandma & Grandpa Godby

Twins 4th Birthday
Puppet stage from Mom & Dad…and new puppets from the grandmas and grandpas!  Elaine and Nolan also colored fairy tale story pictures and laminated them to make popsicle stick puppets.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Little League!

Ben has always wanted to play baseball with his kids.  We’ve had a few opportunities, but not as many as he would like since we were on deputation.  This year we enrolled the kids in T-Ball.  It’s a great way to meet friends in our new neighborhood, and its also very exciting for Ben to see his kids playing in Little League!  Yesterday we had our “season opener” – aka, first practice.  The kids were all so cute in their new uniforms and tiny gloves. 

Nolan is on the Cubs, and he is #1.  He is the only kid with his shirt untucked.  He made a  new friend with “V” – the only girl on his team. 

Little League First Practice

Little League First Practice
Working on grounders

Little League First Practice
throwing overhand…very challenging for some of these kids!

Little League First Practice

Little League First Practice

Little League First Practice
Base running.  They had to learn which one was first base!

Elaine is on the Mariners with other 6-7 year olds.  She is #5, and is the only girl on her team.  She’s a little disappointed about that, but managed to make a new friend anyway.  Jayden is quite the runner!  Elaine is also the only one with her shirt untucked.

Little League First Practice
She’s on the far right of the lineup!

Little League First Practice

Little League First Practice
Fielding during batting practice.  Her cleats were pinching, so she couldn’t stay standing up.  We traded them for Nolan’s and she did much better!

Little League First Practice

Little League First Practice
Hit that ball!

Little League First Practice
Lining up to run the bases!

IMG_3892   IMG_3910
The cheering squad // Badge of honor

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

Ben and Elaine Big Ears
Bronx Zoo  (He’s such a good dad!)

Bronx Zoo

Elaine reading to Henry
Love this!

Henry's Play Station
He was causing trouble.  Getting into school.  So Elaine made him a play station.  Lasted five minutes.  First and last play station ever.

First one awake gets to watch Blues Clues!  Wait…it was Henry?!?!

Elaine’s Cursive

IMG_3872  IMG_3873
Rib Fingers!  (They want to know when I’m going to make Grandpa’s ribs.  Um…never).

Little League!   Little League!
Little Leaguers!