Monday, February 28, 2011

On the Decluttering Road

I wanted the month of February to be the month that I decluttered my house - completely. I set my goal high, but due to sickness in my family (viruses) and helping out at my parents' house, I did not complete this goal. However, I started!

From what I can remember, I decluttered the following things from my house:

3 bags filled with clothes
1 cardboard box filled with various "things"
1 HUGE TV (we bought a flat screen last December)
1 toddler bed (that we gave to a friend)
we recycled at least 15 cardboard boxes that were in our garage
1 glider - we brought this to my mom's house for her to use (it is on "loan" for now!)


Tomorrow, my MIL is going to watch Smiles while Brady is at preschool (thank you!!!)...and I am going to do some returns that have been sitting around my house since December! My Mom got seriously ill the day after Christmas, so this got put on hold for a while...I have been a little busy!!! I am so excited to finally get this "stuff" out of my house!!

Yes, I get excited about the little things...but to me, it is a pretty big thing! :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Soup, Soup, and more...(Chicken) Soup!

Lately, I have been on a soup kick - making soup, eating soup, and giving soup away too - mainly to my parents!

It all started about 3 or 4 weeks ago (give or take). I decided to make a few freezer meals on a weekend and when I went to put it away in our garage freezer, I realized that I really needed to start making some more room in there. There were 2 whole turkeys in there and about 4 whole chickens that needed to be cooked and then made into a variety of meals. So, I began planning, defrosting (one at a time - I did not get through all of them yet!), and then the cooking began.

Initially, when the bird was done cooking, we would have the chicken or turkey for dinner that night along with a few sides. The bird would then be stripped of the rest of its meat, and then I used the bones to make broth for my turkey or chicken soup! I believe that the first soup that I made was the basic, delicious chicken (or turkey) soup recipe that I adapted from my mom's recipe - so delicious! Then I made some other meals - like a chicken and broccoli quiche - which is SOOOO delicious! I used the recipe found in one of my favorite cookbooks, Don't Panic, More Dinner is in the Freezer. It is a hearty quiche, filled with onions (which I saute), broccoli, chicken, cheese and the egg mixture. I also made it with chopped spinach, instead of broccoli!). Then...more soup...other types, which I will get to at another time! Today, I will share my mom's recipe with you! Enjoy!

Mom's Chicken (or Turkey) Soup

3 1/2 lb. stewing chicken (if I already have cooked chicken - I just use the leftover bones)
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1 bay leaf
1 T. finely chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 lb. carrots, chopped (can use 1 bag of baby carrots)
1 large onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped

1 cup fine noodles (optional) - (do not freeze soup with noodles in it - add them later)

1. Wash chicken. Place in a large dutch oven and cover with 5 cups of water. Add seasonings.
2. Simmer covered 1 1/2 hours, or until chicken is tender.
3. While chicken is cooking, prepare vegetables...carrots, celery, and onions
4. When chicken is done, remove it, along with bay leaf from the stock. Skim off as much fat as possible from stock. Pour stock through a strainer/colander and into another pot. Be sure there are no little bits of bone left in the stock!
5. Bring stock back to boiling. Add carrots, onions, and celery. Simmer 45 minutes.
6. While vegetable are cooking, remove skin and bones from chicken, leaving chicken in large pieces.
7. When vegetable are soft, blend/puree at least half of them. This will thicken the broth! You can blend as much or as little as you would like to.
8. Cook noodles and add to stock, along with chicken pieces (you decide how much you want to add). Cook 10 minutes longer.

You can double or even triple this recipe - which is what I usually do! You can freeze some of what you made for a future cold day, or share some with a friend!

Getting ready to freeze some of the soup!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It Started When I Pulled Into My Driveway...

It started when I pulled into my driveway...after we dropped off my 5 year old at preschool.

I looked around our minivan and saw some wrappers, papers, toys, etc. that did not belong in our van, and needed to be relocated.

My 3 year old wanted to shovel the snow.

So, we went inside for a moment, put on gloves and boots on my 3 year old, and we headed back outside in two point two (as my husband would say).

Smiles got busy shoveling the snow from one side of the lawn to the other, riding in his toy car, pulling his wagon around, playing with toys that we are going to get rid of, riding his big wheel, and helping me out too. He was so cute on the big wheel - he pedaled up the driveway (or is it down...well, towards the road) and then took his feet off of the pedals and let himself go flying backwards into the pile of snow - so cute!

I played with Smiles a little bit, but I was focused on cleaning out the minivan...which did not take too long, since Dawson cleaned out some things the other day. In the process of cleaning out the van (and no, I did not vacuum it today!), I opened the garage and saw the 3 bags of clothes and one box of "things" that were ready to go to good, I loaded the van up with those items. It was nice to empty that little area of my garage, so I decided to continue on with my little cleaning/decluttering spree...which led me to boxes.

Boxes. Cardboard ones. We had loads of them in our garage. Most were from things that I ordered for Christmas. Online shopping was awesome this year! But with shopping online, you are left with cardboard boxes. One was turned into a plane; another into, well, I am not sure what it was - maybe another plane. I was forbidden to recycle those, per my 3 year old. However, there were probably about 15 other boxes, of various sizes that needed to be recycled. So, I broke them down and loaded them up in my minivan. You see, today was trash day, and our trash and recyclables were already picked up...and I really did not want those boxes in our garage anymore.

So, I drove them over to my parents house. Their trash day is tomorrow, and the boxes will be gone...along with 3 little trash bags of packing peanuts. Then, our journey continued.

Smiles and I picked up Brady from preschool, stopped by the house to have some late lunch, and we were off...we had one brief stop before I headed to Sal's. I made my first donation there with my kids in the car, watching what I was doing. My 5 year old asked what we were doing there, so I explained to him what donating items was all about. It felt good to let go of those things, and to lighten the "load" that is in my house.

I still have a long way to go...but I have resolved to declutter my house. I have begun, and I don't plan on stopping!

It started when I pulled into my driveway...

...or was it when I asked my husband to wake me up early this morning...

Time For Change...

All of the rooms in our house can really use some sprucing up and making it "our own." Decorating, choosing paint or any other "accessories" is really not something that I know a lot about, but we finally mustered up some courage to branch out and try our hand at this...first up - our family room!

Back in December, Dawson and I decided that we would start our project after Christmas, however those plans have been put on hold, due to illness in our, for now, we can think about it, dream some more, and do some more research - and actually choose the color that we want for the paint! :)

One item that we did purchase is a new LCD TV. It took us a while to decide which TV to purchase, but I believe that we are happy with the one that we chose. Now, we will have to decide whether we are going to mount it on the wall, or purchase some type of LCD TV stand. There are so many options to choose from, and I have a friend who refinished a dresser to use as a TV stand, you can check it out on her blog! I am not sure what we will do, but for now, our TV is on a little stand - it works!

I am really excited about our future projects, but I know that I need to find some ideas and inspiration for each of the rooms in our house. So, where do you find your inspiration? Any particular books, magazines, blogs, websites???? Help a girl out...give me some suggestions! I need to stretch and grow in this area...and I hope to eventually share future projects with you!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WINNER for the Campbell's AdDress Your Heart Giveaway

Thank you to everyone who stopped by my blog and entered the Campbell's AdDress Your Heart giveaway!

To choose the winner, I used to generate the winning number/comment. The number generated was #10!

Congratulations to EMILY! I will be contacting you today!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Giveaway: Campbell's AdDress Your Heart!

I was asked to help spread the word about the “AdDress Your Heart” campaign. I was given a gift basket with a few samples of Campbell's healthy food options to try out. Some of them I already use – such as the healthy request soups and others were nice to try, such as their Swanson's canned chicken, which is a nice change from a tuna sandwich! You have a chance to win this nice gift basket too, but before we get to that, let me just tell you a little more about the “AdDress Your Heart” campaign.

For the fifth consecutive year Campbell’s Soup Company has partnered with the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement, and is mobilizing moms and people across the country to raise awareness for the fight against heart disease with their “AdDress Your Heart” campaign. This Year NBC’s Parenthood star Monica Potter and NFL mom Deborah Johnson have partnered with Campbell’s to spread the word about the importance of heart health. You can read more about it here: Campbell's AdDress Your Heart Campaign.

As moms, we are (usually) the ones that have a huge impact on what our family members eat. I believe that it is important to read the labels of the foods that we are allowing into out houses and into our families bodies, as well as our own. We should be the ones that are educating our children in making good choices in their lives, and especially in what they are eating. This could help to lower childhood obesity and in turn, lower the percentage of those that end up with heart disease. I try to avoid foods that contain MSG, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and artificial sweeteners. I am sure that there are other ingredients to avoid, but those are the main ones that I look for.

Now, for the giveaway! You will win everything that is seen in this photo, which includes:

A custom made fleece

An apron to wear while you cook your favorite meals – I like how it is easily adjustable to fit any size person

An assortment of Campbell’s “heart healthy” products

What do you need to do to win this giveaway??? (**you can get up to 3 entries!!!**)

1. Entry #1: Leave a comment – AND tell me if you are a label reader, and what ingredient(s) do you try to avoid

2. Entry #2: Share this on facebook

3. Entry #3: Follow my blog (and if you are already a follower, tell me that in a separate comment)

***Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry!!! AND Be sure that I am able to get in touch with you***

This giveaway will be open through Monday, February 21. Comments will be closed at 9pm (or there about!). I will randomly choose the winner on Monday night and will do my best to post the winner on Tuesday, February 22nd. The winner will need to pass along their mailing address in order to be awarded the prize (please do not give that information in the comments!).

Friday, February 4, 2011

It's Been Awhile...

It's been over a month since I have blogged, because it has been pretty busy in our family. I thought that the past month would have been full of planning birthday parties for my sons and having lots of little kids in the house, however that has not happened...yet.

To make a long (month+) story short...I have spent many days and hours in the hospital visiting my mom who was sick with pneumonia and a staph infection in her blood - she was a very "sick woman", as her doctor stated. She went from her doctor's office to ICU for 12 days and then to a rehab hospital for over 2 weeks, and now she is finally home. She is going to outpatient PT and OT and has made tremendous progress since the beginning of this sickness. We are so thankful to God for all of the healing that has taken place in my mom's body and are looking forward to her complete healing (and my Dad's too!)! My sister and I are still very busy helping my parents out around their house and taking them to their doctor's appointments, but we are so thankful that their bodies are healing and that we live so close to them, so that we can easily help them out. I love my parents so much!

So, I hope to make the time to plan my sons' "friend" birthday parties soon and to blog more and tell you how I have begun to do some of the things that I have wanted to do! :)