Betty Crocker Wannabe has MOVED! I am now blogging solely at A Simply Klassic Home. I am still sharing printables, party ideas, and other inspiration. It's much more streamlined and clean. I hope you will stop by and say follow along there! I have lots of ideas for new printables coming this holiday season!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Because I'm really THAT Interesting...

So I log on to Blogger today and I'm greeted by this:

Seems I have just hit 200 followers. I. Am. Floored. Am I really that interesting?

I mean, I've always got lots to say, but it amazes me that you show up every day to read it.

I just want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for sharing in my adventures. I have loved reading all of your comments, and I try to get back to as many as I can, but between working full time and my family, I don't have a lot of free time.

If you are reading this, know that I appreciate you!!!

Blogging has been a great way for me, like so may others, to get a little free therapy. It's nice to know there are people out there who have shared similar experiences, who I can learn from, and people who are willing to hear what I have to say, and learn from me.

I know there are many readers who don't always leave comments, but I hope you will leave one on this post.  But whether you are a serial commenter, or a lurker, I'm curious, what keeps you coming back?

I have lots planned for this little 'ol blog...stay tuned to see what adventures I'm up to next!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Looking For the Great Pumpkin

My favorite thing about this time of year is visiting the pumpkin patch. I think it has to do with one of my favorite movies of all time "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown." One of my earliest memories is of watching it when I was little. I tried to get Cooper to sit and watch it with me, but ten minutes in and that was it. I guess Linus and Sally aren't as exciting as Shrek and Fiona.

Last week Cooper's preschool class went to a local Pumpkin Patch. What I love about this patch is that it's completely run by a local high school and is located on their campus. We got to go out into the patch and pick our own pumpkin for just three dollars, no matter the size or type. Very cool.

Here's my boy with his very own pumpkin.


They also had some livestock. Cooper made friends with a goat.

I mentioned you could choose a pumpkin of any size AND type. This is what I was talking about:

I tried to talk him into one of those, but he preferred this one. I guess it fits better in his lap anyway.

Hope you enjoyed our trip to the pumpkin patch as much as we did. We're carving pumpkins on Thursday evening, so come back on Friday and see how they turned out!

(Make sure to visit Supermom and I Should Be Folding Laundry for more great photos. )

Monday, October 25, 2010

Super Simple Frozen Breakfast Burritos

I love breakfast, and I believe in eating a good breakfast as a way to start your day right, but just don't have the time during the week to cook a meal in the morning. I'd like to, but with a three year old to get ready, most days it just doesn't happen. And picking up a coffee and a pastry at Starbucks was getting costly. I don't know about you, but $7 for a muffin and a latte is a bit extreme! It's time to start cutting back, and I decided eating out (or rather, NOT) would be the easiest place to start.

I got the idea from Mom's Plans to make Breakfast Burritos and freeze them, to use throughout the week. I thought it would be great to grab and go when there's no time to cook breakfast, as I'm tiring of the ritual cereal and toast. I figured it would be easy to just cook extra eggs and meat on the weekend, fold them into a tortilla and freeze them. Well, guess what - it was!!

Super Simple Frozen Breakfast Burritos
To make 16 Burritos:
1 dozen eggs
1 package bulk Sausage or Bacon (cooked and diced or crumbled)
16 Flour Tortillas (I use the soft taco size)

Optional Add-Ons
Shredded Cheese
Green Peppers

Crumble or dice your meat, then cook in a large skillet. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Leave a small amount of the grease in the pan and cook your veggies (add a little bit of Olive Oil if needed) and cook until tender. Add your meat, egg mixture, and shredded cheese to the cooked veggies.Cook until eggs are done.

Warm some flour tortillas in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute so they are easier to work with. Place a small amount of your egg mixture, add salsa and top with cheese.

Fold sides of the tortillas in and roll to make your burrito.

Wrap each burrito tightly with foil, place in a Ziploc bag and freeze! When you're ready to eat, just wrap one in a paper towel, microwave on defrost for 2 minutes, then on full power for 30 seconds. Super simple!

I did this on a whim last weekend, so I didn't add many of the optional things I listed above. I used what I had on hand - eggs, cheese, sausage, onion and salsa. And the best part ~ each burrito costs about $0.65!

Where are you cutting back these days?

My Carnival Party Featured!!

Cooper's Carnival Birthday Party is a couple months behind me now, but I'm still hearing about how much fun everyone had! Click here to read more...

I've also been getting rave reviews from around the blogosphere ~ check out my feature at The Birthday Blog today!!! Click here to check out the Birthday Blog. Stacy offers a ton of great ideas for all kinds of parties for all ages.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wendy's Halloween Adoption Program

Did you know that Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's, was adopted?

Nearly 20 years ago, Dave Thomas started the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

From their website: 114,550 U.S. children are in foster care, waiting to be adopted. They have been removed from their homes as victims of child abuse, neglect or abandonment and are left without a family. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption works on behalf of these children, because we believe every child deserves a permanent home and loving family.

Obviously, adoption awareness is a topic that is dear to my heart. You can help by purchasing some of Wendy's Trick or Treat Frosty coupon books for just $1. I plan on picking some up and including the Frosty coupons in the treat bags for Cooper's school.

"Not only does the coupon program generate national awareness for the Foundation, but the support it provides has been extraordinary,” said Rita Soronen, executive director of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. “Initiatives like the Halloween program provide the resources for the Foundation to continue to ensure that every child has the opportunity to grow and thrive in a loving and permanent home.”

Click here to visit the Foundation's website to learn more.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Fall Mantle and Fall Scripture & Subway Art Printables

I'm not big on Halloween decorating. There are no skulls, spiders, witches or ghosts around my house. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing other's homes all decked, but we're never home on Halloween, so it seems like a bit of a waste to me. I have, however, found that I really enjoy decorating for FALL. Now I don't call myself a "decorator" by any means. I usually leave that to this lovely lady. But alas, she can't do everything for me, so I hope I've done her proud with my newly decorated Fall mantle.

Don't ya just totally dig the mirror? It was a beautiful old wondow that my personal decorator gave to me, and I just had a mirror put in it. (Please ignore the ugly red brick fireplace. I haven't yet worked up the guts to paint it white. I just can't decide if I'm ready to make that kind of commitment...what do you think? To paint, or not to paint???)

I decided not to buy anything new this year, so everything you see was from shopping the house and pulling out things I used last year.

I created a couple of printables in Photoshop, and put them in frames that I already had. The handprint turkey came with the frame. Just kidding! It's my son's from last year. I love to personalize this space with photos or other kid-made items.

If you would like them, I've included the digital files. Just click on the image to enlarge, right click and save. Print size is 5" x 7" for the scripture, and 8" x 10" for the subway art.

If you're new here, welcome! I'm glad you're here!! Feel free to take a look around and let me know if you like what you see. I've had a couple of requests, so I've added a place for you to subscribe to my blog. Hope to see you back real soon!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Love You Mama

We were on our way home from preschool today, and Cooper was buckled in his carseat, reading the new borrowed books he had just received as part of their "Raising a Reader" Program. He was telling tales of the pictures he saw, and gently pushing my seat with his feet.

As we were pulling into the driveway, he looked up and said "I love you Mama," and went back to talking about his book.

That moment took my breath away.

My son has a very tender heart inside his very active body. He is stubborn and willful and loud. He runs from me at bath time, then screams that he doesn't want to get out. He climbs out of bed five times before finally settling down for the night. He refuses to eat his dinner and deliberately throws playdough on the floor. 

The past several weeks have been rough with this little boy. He is struggling with independence, and I am struggling for control. Through it all I have moments when I question the sanity of my choice.

But at that moment, all of that melted away and my heart swelled as a wave of joy washed over me. I was reminded of why I am a mother. 

I looked at my son in the rearview mirror and was taken back for a moment at just how big he is getting. He used to look so small in that carseat, his toes barely reaching the edge. Now his blonde curls are peaking out over the top and his legs are kicking my seat. The little baby sounds he used to make have been replaced with tales of dinosaurs and dragons. I realize that he is growing up and soon enough he won't be there, and that awareness makes me cherish these moments even more.

Monday, October 18, 2010

How We Got Through a Rainy Weekend

It's been a dreary few days here in the OC. What is usually a warmer time of the year, has turned wet and cold. We spent our Sunday indoors (much to the kid's disappointment). Usually on a day like this, I would be tying on my apron (ok, so I don't actually have an apron, but I'm sure I would look damn cute if I did). Anyway, I would probably be baking BUT since my oven is BROKEN, that didn't happen. Sooo, to combat the running around the house and jumping on the couch, I announced that we were going to make playdough. My son cheered and I was THE BEST MOM EVER. (Ok, so he didn't actually say that, but it IS true).

Since the You Capture challenge for the week is "ORANGE" I knew this was a perfect opportunity to create my subject.

Yellow and red make ORANGE.

"Children's games are hardly games.
Children are never more serious than when they play."

Photography 101 was taught by this guy (shown here with his ORANGE drink):

I'm slowly learning the buttons on the camera, and how and why to use them. My photos are a little grainy, but apparently that's because the ISO was set too high and the aperture too low. Or something like that.

And for those of you who have never made the easiest "toy" in the world, here's the recipe.

Homemade Playdough

3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups salt
3 cups water
1 Tblsp cooking oil
1 Tblsp cream of tarter
Your desired coloring (Food coloring, Kool-Aid packet, even Tempera paint will work)

Pour all ingredients into a pot and cook until the sides start to pull away from the pan, stirring intermittently. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes, them transfer to wax paper, or a large cutting board to cool (you don't have to wait for it to cool to start playing with it).

I didn't have any on hand, but I love using Kool-Aid packets, because it not only adds a beautifully vibrant color, but a great scent as well. You can also add different extracts to create your own scent (peppermint, lemon, vanilla, etc). Throw in plastic knives, rolling pins and cookie cutters and this is a great rainy day activity to keep your kids busy for hours!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Meal Planning Week of Oct 17

I really need to get back on track with my menu planning. I've found it to be easier when I use a basic plan, rather than try to stick to a meal set for each day. I put together a list of meals based on what I have on hand that can be served anytime during the week, depending on how much energy I have!

I must point out that I have no oven. I do not know when I will have an oven, as the part that is needed is on backorder.

AND my microwave cooker is cracked. I won't have a new one for at least two weeks.

AND the starter on my BBQ won't ignite so "someone else" has to start it with a lighter. Not me 'cause fire freaks me out.

AND we are trying to reduce the amount of times we eat out, especially fast food. Gah!

So, I have had to be a little more creative and employ stovetop and crockpot cooking a little more than usual. Eventually, I would like to do that whole 30 meals/1 day thing, but right now it just ain't happenin'!

Here's this week's menu:
1. Grilled Lemon Garlic Pork Tenderloin, Mashed Potatoes, Veggies (Take note: Even the picky princess likes this meal!)
2. Skillet Herbed Chicken with Pan Gravy, Rice, Veggies
3. Grilled Asian Style Chicken , Pineapple and Mandarin Oranges, Salad
4. Crockpot Tri Tip Strogonoff
5. Beef Stew
6. Chicken Fried Rice

Day 7 will be leftovers.

So this is my plan for the week. What's on your menu?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Skillet Herbed Chicken with Lemon Cream Sauce (aka I Totally Rock)

I earned my "Betty Crocker Wannabe" title last night.

Before I even tasted it, I looked at my plate and told Rick, I have to take a picture of this so I can post it on my blog if it's good. I got "the look." But I did it anyway.

It's really nothing fancy, or too exciting, but the man sure thought it was. He must have told me five times how good it was, at least during his first helping, and a few times during his second. I'm not sure if it was out of sheer pleasure for the meal, or surprise that I could come up with something this tasty. The boy who hardly eats anything had THREE HELPINGS of chicken, and was swiping leftovers off the plate in the kitchen as he walked by.

I knew that anything that won that much approval from my family must be shared.

Skillet Herbed Chicken with Lemon Cream Sauce

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground pepper
butter or olive oil

1 can Healthy Choice Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup lemon juice

Slice chicken breasts into 1/2 thick pieces. Combine flour and seasonings in a Ziploc bag and add the chicken, shaking to coat. Heat butter or oil in a large saute pan. Add the chicken and saute until no longer pink. Remove chicken from the pan and stir in soup and lemon juice, scraping the drippings from the bottom of the pan. Simmer about five minutes.

Serve over buttered noodles or rice. Makes about six servings.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

You Capture - Animals

I have been seriously neglecting one of my passions - photography. My boyfriend is a photographer, and we work together on his business. But when you start making money doing something you love, it's not always a good thing. The business side of it takes a lot of effort, and I haven't picked up my camera (ok, his camera) just to shoot for fun in quite a while. It's just not as fun when you have to work at it.

I have also gone from using my Canon Rebel DSLR to Rick's Canon 30D DSLR, since he now has a 40D and a 7D which are used for our business. We reserve the 30D for personal use. So, I am now under pressure to learn how to use it. I love photography, and really don't "want" to learn all the buttons and stuff, but it does make for a better photo. I'm also using an external flash.

Are you bored yet?

My plan (I always have a plan - doesn't mean I follow through with it, but at least I have a plan) is to start back up with the You Capture challenges at I Should Be Folding Laundry. I really enjoyed participating and checking out the creativity others would capture through the lens.

This week's topic was "animals."


I have a lot to learn when it comes to photography. I still love just taking pictures, but I'm excited to get to know what all those buttons mean too. Thankfully, I have an excellent teacher.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Pumpkins

At Cooper's preschool, the parent's are asked to bring treats for their Halloween parties, and the children go to the different classroom doors "trick or treating." I decided on chocolate covered marshmallows, since this is one of MY favorite treats!

Here's what I came up with:

These are super simple to make, and always a huge hit.

What You Need
Large marshmallows (I usually buy the Jet Puffed brand - the store brand ones seem to stick together more)
Melting Chocolate in your desired color (chocolate chips work well too)
Lollipop sticks
Your decorations of choice (ie. sprinkles, ribbon, etc.)

1. Stick the lollipop sticks into as many of the marshmallows as you are using, and set out on wax paper.

2. Melt your chocolate. You can use a double boiler on the stove, stirring constantly, or do it the easy way and use the microwave. Either way, the key is to stir, and not let it get too hot, as it will get thick and unmanagable. If microwaving, do so in 30 second intervals, sitrring every 30 seconds.

3. Dip your marshmallows in the chocolate, coating the marshmallow. Use a spoon to smooth, or run the sides along the side of your bowl to remove any excess.

4. If desired add sprinkes after each dip, because the chocolate hardens fairly quickly (if using chocolate chips, it takes a little longer).

That's it!

I added a green ribbon for the stem. I really like how they turned out, but I felt like they still needed something. I checked my pantry and came up with chocolate chips and toothpicks.

Adding the jack-o-lantern faces was not as easy as I thought it would be, but I'm pleased with the results. I hope the kids like them too!

Happy (almost) Halloween!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Amazing Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin - Two Meals in One

I love cooking meals that can do double time. This Pork Tenderloin recipe is not only amazing and tasty and wonderful, but you can keep the leftovers, and have a whole other meal!

Amazing Pork Tenderloin

2 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
1 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix
1 cup water
3/4 cup apple juice
3 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons soy sauce
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place pork tenderloin in a slow cooker with the contents of the soup packet. Pour water, juice, and soy sauce over the top, turning the pork to coat. Carefully spread garlic over the pork, leaving as much on top of the roast during cooking as possible. Sprinkle with pepper, cover, and cook on low setting for 4-5 hours. Serve with cooking liquid on the side as au jus.

Doesn't this look yummy??

I serve this with sticky rice and veggies. I cook twice the amount of sticky rice we need, and save the leftover rice and pork for later in the week.
A couple of days later, I took out the leftover rice and pork and threw it in a skillet with a little oil, some salt & pepper, onion & garlic powders, soy sauce and egg and voila! Pork Fried Rice!

I realize that it would look much prettier with some colorful veggies, but then my family wouldn't eat it and that would kind of defeat the purpose. So, I serve a salad on the side.

Two meals, one great recipe!

What do you do with your leftovers?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Grandma-To-Be Party Planning

A good friend of mine is about to become a grandma for the first time. She has been an amazing grandma/mom figure to so many, including my son, and has helped me in more ways than I can count. Another friend and I decided that since she has done so much for us, and for our kids, that we should do something for her. Hence, the Grandma-To-Be Party!

Thing is, there's not a lot of party planning ideas for this kind of party out there in cyber space. It's a shame because I would have loved if someone had thrown a party like this for my mom. After all, the role of Grandma is second only to the role of parent, and should be celebrated!

I thought I'd share with you what we have come up with so far...

The Theme: "To Grandmother's House We Go..." (Little Red Riding Hood)

Decor: red & white gingham with touches of aqua and a little bit of burlap, Greens and twigs in vases

The Invitation (designed by me):
I'm also designing cupcake toppers, banners and more.

The Food: Lots of baked goods (pies, cookies, cupcakes). My co-host is starting a cake/cupcake business, so we'll be set! Other goodies will include sandwiches, fruit and salads.

Party Favors: Little baskets with chocolates or homemade cookies like this:

I'll share more of the details as the party gets closer.

So what do you think? Do you have any other ideas?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Disney Days Guest Post at Someday Crafts

You can find me over at Someday Crafts today. I'm guest posting for Michelle's Disney Days, as she prepares for her families first trip to Disneyland.

Stop by and check it out. There are a lot of great ladies posting wonderful tidbits about all things Disney!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Winnie the Pooh Life Lesson No. 2

"And by and by Christopher Robin came to an end of things, and was silent, and he sat there, looking out over the world, just wishing it wouldn't stop."
-A. A. Milne

The Winnie the Pooh series by A. A. Milne is such an amazing collection of life lessons that are relatable to people of all ages. This particular quote talks of change, of moving on, of growing up. Christopher Robin had Pooh as a child, and when he gew up and went off to school, he outgrew Pooh.

When I watched my son walk off to preschool for the first time, I couldn't believe it was really THAT time. That he had grown up to be a strong, independent, tender, loving three year old. Time just seems to go by faster when you have children.

Sometimes, I wish he was still the sweet little infant I used to rock to sleep with "Baby Mine." But now he sings it to me.

Sometimes I wish I could have held him just a little bit longer. But those grip your neck, knock you down hugs sure are pretty sweet.

Sometimes I wish it was easier, because that independent three year old can sure push my buttons. But he can sure make my heart swell too.

Sometimes I long for the spontaneous trips I used to take. But then I remember, that for the last three years, home is my favorite place to be.

Change is a part of life. It's almost always hard. But sometimes, change is good.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Comfort Food - Hamburger Soup & A Meal for a Friend

There's nothing that warms the heart and soul like good 'ole comfort food. 

I recently took a meal to a friend who is having some health issues. She is pregnant with baby number four, and her other three children are under age seven. So I put together a meal of my famous (ok, not so famous) Hamburger Soup, a green salad, and some rustic Italian bread. I also made them a loaf of Microwave Banana Bread (since my oven is still broken).

I found the base for this recipe on (my favorite go-to cooking site) but I actually tweaked it quite a bit.

Hamburger Soup
(All measurements are approximate)
1 Tbls Olive Oil
1/2 a med sized onion, chopped
2 Tbls minced garlic
1 lb ground beef
1 can condensed tomato soup, plus 1 can water
2-14 oz. cans beef broth
1 small can of corn
1 cup cooked macaroni, wagon wheel, or small shell pasta, (or any small noodle you choose, but kids love the wheels)

Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add onion and garlic until the onions are just soft. Add ground beef, season with salt and cook until meat is longer pink.

Meanwhile, in a 5 quart soup pot, pour in beef broth, tomato soup and water. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer. In another pot, cook pasta to package directions, or cook directly in tomato/beef broth (I've done it both ways, but prefer to cook pasta in plain water).

When meat is cooked through, add to beef soup mixture. Add corn and pasta and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

This is one of my favorite recipes because not only is it simple, but even my pickiest eaters (that would be all of them) will eat it! It's great fresh out of the pot, as leftovers two days later, and it also freezes well.

What's your favorite type of comfort food?

Friday, October 1, 2010

October 2 - A Tribute to Family

Tomorrow is October 2, 2010.

Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of Cooper legally becoming a part of our family.

It would also be my dad's 72nd birthday.

I thought I would share with you a couple of posts I wrote back in April & May. A special tribute to the history of this day in our family.

October 2  (Repost)

My Cooper came home in November of 2007. Thanksgiving that year was amazing, full of family, love and joy at this new arrival. My dad, who had been very sick for several years, had a great day, and was so excited to meet his grandson, who was just ten weeks old. My dad died just five weeks later.

Cooper with Grandpa & Gram on Day 1

Fast forward to September of 2008. I was preparing to sign adoption papers, to finalize Cooper's adoption. The attorney called me to set up a time for the court finalization. The day it would all be official. No more court dates. No more Social Worker visits. No more sitting on pins and needles waiting, hoping, praying. She told me I could request a date that would work for us, or that was significant to me. Her exact words were, "If you wanted, say, October 2, we could ask for that." My heart skipped a beat, and I felt my face get hot, as tears filled my eyes.

October 2 was my dad's birthday.

My dad and me on his birthday10 years ago.

I slowly asked her why she mentioned that date. She told me it was her son's birthday. I said, "That's the day I want. That was my dad's birthday and he died shortly after meeting Cooper."

The Attorney was quiet for a moment, then said, "I'll do everything I can to request that date."

Grandpa & Cooper watching Ducks Hockey

A few weeks later, I received a letter in the mail, stating that our court date was indeed scheduled for October 2. I couldn't stop the tears from flowing. This would be the first birthday since he died, and what could have been a day to mourn, became a day to dance. I couldn't think of a more perfect way to honor my dad.

On October 2, I cried again, as the judge said that he was mine. Forever mine. I cried happy tears for us, and for my dad, who I know was with us that day. We'll celebrate that day every year, and it will not only be about how we became a family, but about sharing with Cooper about his Grandpa, and how much he loved him.

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven: 
a time to be born and a time to die...
a time to mourn and a time to dance..." Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Signed, Sealed, Finalized!  (Repost)

There are many important dates in an adoption:

"Gotcha" Day (as some refer to the day you bring your child home)
The .26 Hearing (the day parental rights of the natural parents are terminated)
The Signing (the day legal papers are signed before the adoption can be finalized)
The Finalization (The final court hearing when the child is legally yours) 

These are the most memorable for me, although every adoptive parent has their own. I've shared before about the importance of the date I chose for our finalization, but today I'm going to talk a little bit about the day itself.

I don't remember what time we got to the courthouse, or how long it took to get inside. I don't remember much of what the judge or the attorney said. It was an overwhelming day; I was overwhelmed with the feelings and emotions of exactly what that day meant.

I had heard stories about adoptive parents getting emotional during their finalization hearing, and I was determined to keep myself together. The judge asked if I agreed to “bestow upon him all the rights of a natural-born child?” With a lump in my throat, I nodded, yes. Then he told me we were bound together forever as parent and child, and the tears came. Nearly seven years of agony were over. I was a mother in every sense of the word.

This is the only picture I have of us with the judge. Sorry, the lighting was terrible...

There is something inherently different about adoption - with childbirth, no one asks you if you promise to love and keep your child, but with adoption, you make a verbal and legally binding commitment to the child whom you have chosen to parent.  You stand before a judge, and numerous other county employees, and make a conscious decision to take on the responsibility of the life another human being.

It was the greatest, most selfless thing I have ever done.