5 on Friday!

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Happy Friday! I’m still getting back into the routine of working all week. It’s been hard, so I’m looking forward to a three day weekend with my family! I’m linking up with Darci from The Good Life Blog again for Five on Friday, one of my favorite link-ups!

{1} Now that I’m back at work, I’m trying to find as many easy dinners as I can. I’ve made several different skillet pasta recipes that only use one pan. You cook the pasta and bake it all in the same dish. That’s what I call a quick meal with not much clean up! I made this yummy three cheese skillet lasagna from Iowa Girl Eats a few weeks ago and a skillet dish from Serious Eats this week (pictured below). Another favorite, super easy recipe is a chicken parmesan bake that uses croutons instead of breading the chicken. So, so easy and very yummy! We love chicken fajitas, so I tried an oven baked chicken fajita dish recently. It wasn’t quite as good as fajitas made on the stove, but it was darn close! And so much easier!

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{2} One thing on our summer fun list was to visit our local farmer’s market several times. We hadn’t been since back in July, but we finally went again last weekend. It’s a small but fun market with lots of great fresh vegetables, live music, and kiddos and dogs running around. After purchasing some local produce for the week, we walked up by the train station and across an old bridge that overlooks the city. The kids shared a homemade scone from the farmer’s market, then it was off to our favorite toy store downtown. Good times! We even got to catch a train coming through the station! We hope to visit the farmer’s market a few more times before it ends in November.

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{3} I have three coupons for free 8×8 Shutterfly photo books that need to be used up soon. I plan on creating a summer 2013 photo book of all our fun activities as well as a baby book for Harper and Will. I have created a photo book for each kiddo for each year so far, but those books have simply been a compilation of photos, no journaling. I’m liking the more digital scrapbook feel of the Shutterfly books. I created one the other day (well, it took me several evenings to finish) and I’m excited about seeing the final product!

{4} I checked out a few books on CD the other week from the library but had forgotten about them until yesterday. I started listening to The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, which is quite entertaining and interesting. I haven’t gotten that far yet, but it’s good and the drive to and from work passes quickly! I love her recipes! She’s coming out with a holiday cookbook in October, and while I’m not big on buying cookbooks (they tend to sit on my shelf and collect dust-I prefer to pin new recipes on Pinterest), I might reconsider. Speaking of the Pioneer Woman, how cool would it be to have a Pioneer Woman potluck where all the guests bring one of her recipes? Such a cool idea that I found on the blog, The Larson Lingo. Click on the link for the specific blog post. Too bad I don’t know this blogger! Ha!

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{5} This girl loves to play outside and get dirty! Any time we mention the word, “outside,” she goes running for the mudroom and grabs her shoes. She throws a fit when we head inside for the evening. Miss H. loves swinging, digging in the dirt and rocks, running up and down our driveway, blowing bubbles, and riding her little Pooh car outside. Love her! Will loves it outside, too. Lately, our routine has been to go outside to play after dinner while my husband cleans up. He joins us after dishes and we play outside until it’s time for baths and bed.

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Weekly Pinterest Project-Week 3: Peaches, Peaches, and More Peaches!

As I mentioned in a previous post, we recently picked peaches at a local peach orchard. After picking the peaches, I got on Pinterest in search of a yummy peach dessert and came across this slow cooker peach cobbler recipe. It was the perfect recipe since it was quick, easy, and I had all the ingredients on hand.
 
Below are my peach pickers!

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The recipe turned out well but I think I’ll make a different peach dessert next time. It was quite easy-just slice the peaches and put all of the ingredients in the crock pot. However, it turned out kind of mushy. The topping was all mixed in throughout the peaches. I liked that it was a combination of peach cobbler but had oats in as well, so it was kind of peach crisp-y (but a little mushy, ha!). The recipe didn’t call for butter, which would have made it better. I’ll stick with a good ole peach pie next time!

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Weekly Pinterest Project-Week 2: Freezing Zucchini

Note-I thought this post had been published last Monday…oops! i set it up to automatically post but not sure what happens. I’m still learning about this whole blogging/posting thing and have been switching back and forth between my iPhone and laptop to write posts, which has been confusing. Anyway, here was last week’s project. Check back tomorrow for this week’s post. Thanks!

Here goes round two of my weekly Pinterest project. Not too bad, but again, we will see how this goes as I get even busier with school and life this fall. Anyway, for this week’s project, I decided to freeze some zucchini from our garden. We have a little garden out back with some tomato, pepper, squash, and zucchini plants, along with some basil and mint. The garden isn’t looking too great this year, but it has been producing LOTS of zucchini. This summer, I have made roasted zucchini, zucchini brownies, and chocolate zucchini bread on numerous occasions, but I’m kind of burnt out on zucchini now. However, I didn’t want all of our zucchini to go to waste. Plus, we have some huge baseball bat sized zucchini that are not good to eat as a side dish, so they have to be shredded and added to muffins or bread. So I went in search of how to freeze zucchini. It was VERY EASY! All you do is shred the zucchini and put it in ziplock bags. I measured out two cups per bag and labeled them with the amount and date. This fall and winter, I’ll be able to pull out a bag of frozen zucchini and make zucchini bread. YUM! Click here for the blog where I found the idea.

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One recipe I would like to try is this lemon poppy seed zucchini bread. Oh my, I love lemon poppy seed bread but never would have thought to combine it with zucchini. It sounds delicious! This chocolate chip zucchini banana bread also looks tasty. Check back later this year to see what I decide to make!

5 on Friday!!

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Hello, Friday! It’s been a LONG week! It was my second week back at school (first week with kids). The week went well, but it was just long and stressful. I’m linking up with Darci from The Good Life Blog for Five on Friday. It’s such a fun blog link up!

~1~ I bought a chalkboard sign on Etsy from Delight Designs Vinyl to document Will’s first and last day of preschool. I found several on Etsy but liked this one since it was double sided with the first day and last day of school. I’d love to take a first day and last day of picture of Will and Harper from preschool through high school! We’ll see if this happens! I will be starting on September 5th when WIll starts preschool (yikes!).

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~2~My kids love to do artwork! Miss H. will play with markers for hours! She recently started playing with play dough (without eating it!). I need to find more crafty activities to do with my kids. This is one area that I don’t feel I do enough with-all the cute, crafty ideas I see on other blogs. I’d like to start doing more art projects with them. Any good preschool/toddler art activity suggestions?

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~3~I’m in search of fall outfits for our fall mini photo session in October. I tend to buy several outfits, keep the tags on, and then decide closer to the session what to wear, especially for Harper and Will. I found some really cute clothes at Target but I’m not sure which outfit I like best for Miss H. I always get their outfits selected first, then look in the closet for what my husband and I will wear. For the past several sessions, I’ve worn neutral colors with a bright scarf. I might find a purple scarf to go with the outfits I picked out for Will and Harper.

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~4~I’m really loving the color plum for this fall. Isn’t this skirt cute? Maybe I will have Miss H. wear this instead of the outfits I picked out above.  Hmm…decisions, decisions.

~5~I’ve been pinning yummy pumpkin recipes on Pinterest.  I might have to try this Starbucks copycat pumpkin pound cake recipe!  The only recipe that I made for dinner that my husband and I did not like was a pumpkin pasta recipe by Rachael Ray.  Never again will I make any savory dish using canned pumpkin.  It was disgusting!  So bad that we threw it out (this has never happened before).  Sometimes I will make a dish that’s only ok, but not to the point where we don’t even eat it.  It was quite gross.  I will be sticking to pumpkin dessert recipes, thank you!

 

Peaches and Planes!

This past weekend, we had all sorts of fun! On Saturday morning, we went to a local peach orchard. We had been to this orchard back in 2011 when Will was around 16 months (close to Harper’s age now).

Here he is at 16 months at the peach orchard:

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Here he is at three, picking peaches! Such a big boy!

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Here is Miss H. at the peach orchard. She loved running through the orchard, picking up peaches and poking her finger in them! Ha!

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After peach picking, we headed home with our fruit and had lunch. My husband’s work had reserved 200 seats at a theater to see the movie, Planes. So, since it was free, we decided to take WIll and Harper to the movies! This was their first time at the movies, and we probably won’t go for another year or so. It was fun, but Will was distracted throughout. Harper was very tired but fought sleep. She finally fell asleep about ten minutes before the movie was over. It was quite amusing being in a theater full of airplane mechanics and pilots! Ha! Food kept Will and Harper occupied-lots of goldfish and cheerios! I tried to get a picture of Will after the movie, but he wasn’t too thrilled.

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On Sunday afternoon, a friend of ours visited us before she headed off to college. We topped off the fun weekend by going out for ice cream. My mom had given us several coupons for this local ice cream place, so we were able to get ice cream for two dollars! I love a good deal! We can’t wait for more fun late summer/fall weekends! I’m already planning my fall fun “bucket” list!
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Five on Friday

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Hello, Friday, I’m so glad you are here! It’s been a very long first week back to school. I’m linking up with Darci from The Good Life Blog for Five on Friday.

{1} I’m loving Miss H’s rompers and am getting kind of sad that this will probably be her last year wearing them:( Next year, she’ll more than likely be too big for this style. They are just so cute! I am looking forward to fall outfits and colors, though. So many pretty colors out there for the fall. It’s feeling like fall already in Virginia…the past few mornings, the temps have been in the 50s. Speaking of fall, I need to start searching for outfits for our fall pictures!

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{2}I love seeing my husband read to our kids:) Miss H. often goes up to daddy with a book and plops herself down on his lap. We are participating in a 1,000 books by kindergarten program at our local library, so we’ve been trying to keep track of all the books we read. It is apparent that we have some favorites in our household. It tends to go through phases, though. For a while, it was the Gossie books (some of our favorites!). Then it was Brown Bear, Brown Bear and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Now we’re reading lots of Dr. Seuss. I’ve been rotating books from our living room up to Will’s room so that we have more variety. It seems to help!

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{3} Now that I’m back at work, I’m starting to wear necklaces more often. Over the summer, I didn’t wear them at all. I tend to forget about putting jewelry on, but I’m trying to make more of an effort now that I’m at school. My mom got me an Origami Owl necklace for my birthday (see below), which is cute. Some of my favorite necklaces are by Lisa Leonard Designs. Below is the “mama” necklace I have of hers. I rarely wear bracelets or earrings, but I do like necklaces:)

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{4} I recently got prints of our summer pictures in the mail (mpix is the way to go-you get nice, high quality prints). I swapped out last year’s pics with this year’s summery ones. I love it! I would love to get several nice canvases for a wall display but they are expensive. Any suggestions?

20130813-202231.jpg{5} I don’t really like oatmeal, but I came across some yummy tasting recipes that I just might have to try from Chocolate Covered Kate. Chocolate chip cookie dough oatmeal (I love all things chocolate chip cookie dough!), sugar dough oatmeal, frappuccino oatmeal!! They sound delicious! This might have to be my next Pinterest project.

Midweek Randoms

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Happy Wednesday! I’m linking up with Megan from In This Wonderful Life for a mid-week brain dump! Ha! Below are some random thoughts/happenings.

  • Yum-have you tried this cookie butter from Trader Joe’s? It has the most interesting taste but is absolutely delicious! I have made several desserts with cookie butter but I prefer to just eat it on a spoon! It is a good substitute for peanut butter when making desserts. I found another type of cookie butter spread at our local grocery store, but it’s not nearly as good as Trader Joe’s (but I am slightly addicted to that store!).

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  • This is my first week back to school. Ugh. My least favorite part of preparing for the work day is packing lunches. I loved summertime when I didn’t have to pack my lunch and breakfast and lunch for my kids. To save time, I always pack our breakfasts and lunches the night before. I like to sleep in as much as possible during the school year. Unfortunately, that still means I have to wake up around 5:45am to be out the door by 6:50 in order to drop the kids off and make it to school between 7:30-40.
  • Hopefully we will get more into a routine as the school year goes on. Since it’s only day three of back to school, it’s been difficult adjusting to not sleeping in, not spending all day with the kiddos, etc. I really miss my time with my kids. By the time I get home from school and pick them up, it’s time for dinner, a little play time, then baths, story time, and bed. Ideally, I would like to work part-time, but that’s not feasible. I do LOVE that I have the summers off. I can’t imagine having a job where I worked year round. One big advantage to being a teacher!
  • Fall consignment sale #2 is coming up in about a month, so I need to start re-tagging the items that I didn’t sell at the first sale. I sold about 125 out of 200 items at the first sale and made a good amount of money. This second sale is much smaller but is still worth it. I plan on discounting most of the items so they will sell. If they don’t, I might donate some of the items and hang onto some of the nicer items. In the spring, both consignment sales are the same weekend, which doesn’t work well for those of us who sell at both sales. Last year, I sold at both sales but am probably just going to do the bigger sale this time.

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  • Still soaking up as much summer/outdoor time as we can. Here’s Will attempting to blow bubbles last night.

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  • I have been searching for a chalkboard picture or printable to use for Will’s first day/last day of preschool. I found a neat chalkboard sign on Etsy (one of my favorite sites!) that I might get. Yes, I’m going to be one of those parents who gets a picture of their first day of/last day of school until they’ve graduated high school, ha!
  • Speaking of pictures, I’m trying to go through and delete some of the thousands (literally) of photos I have on our computer. Every once in a while we will get a message saying that our hard drive is almost full, so I go and delete some pics. I’m really bad about not deleting not good pics off my camera. I tend to just upload everything onto the computer and go through the pictures at a later point. I really need to find a better way to organize/sort through all my pictures.
  • Shutterfly recently had a coupon code for a free 8×8 photo book (you just pay shipping). I need to get started on the photo book before it expires! It’s just hard to find the time, especially now that I’m back to work!