Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Tour of Homes

A friendly little snowman waits by our front door to welcome you into our home, all decorated for the holiday season!

Won't you come in and have some fresh, hot coffee? We have some oh-so-good Eggnog creamer. Grab some white chocolate dipped pretzels too! My lil' princess's job is to sprinkle the pretzels as soon as I dip them in the white chocolate! The lil' prince holds the job of 'quality control' and tastes them for us to make sure we did a good job! ;-)

Here is our staircase all aglow! Along with our candy cane tree in the foyer, the 'formal' tree in the dining room, and our memory tree in our family room. (Notice that this year they are all decorated only about two-thirds the way down...we have a toddler this year!)

Below is a close up of under our tree in the family room...the children's nativity along with some favoriate ornaments...ornaments the children can play with, an ornament of Santa kneeling beside the Baby Jesus - I love this one because I bought it with a book about St. Nicholas and it weaves together nicely Santa Claus and Jesus, the real reason we celebrate Christmas! Oh and we can't forget mommy's ornament...a cup of Starbuck's Coffee of course ;-)

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

A close up on our wreath on the mantle:

The Princess' tree in her room and the Prince's tree in his room:

And finally, our 'countdown to Christmas'. This year I filled this cute little metal stocking with 25 candy canes and we have been keeping track of the days until Christmas every night by taking out one of the candy canes and hanging it on our tree in the foyer, then we change the number on the chalkboard. The little Princess loves this and the little Prince does too, but for other reasons...he was VERY quiet one day and I caught him eating one of the candy canes off the foyer tree wrapper and all!!!! So since then, I found some fake candy canes to hang on the tree but we put the real ones in back and so far he just thinks they are all fake now ;-)

As you leave our home, let me impart a favorite quote by Linus (straight from Luke 2:8-14 King James Version) in answer to Charlie Brown's question of the true meaning of Christmas in A Charlie Brown Christmas:

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will
toward men."

Jesus is the reason that our family celebrates CHRISTmas!
Our family wishes you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!!!
Now head on over to BooMama's to tour some other great homes!

Monday, October 8, 2007


Okay folks...I am taking up a new if raising the two little ones, working my transcription business from home, serving on the board at the preschool, AND remodeling our kitchen at the moment was not enough...I am trying to teach myself to knit!

Sarah, over at In the Midst of It, inspired me! She taught herself to knit this past year and has made some adorable hats for her little one. I can do this! I have mastered casting on and the knit I am going to tackle purling and then the cast off or binding off...
If anyone out there reading this knits, I welcome ANY advice! I am starting small and trying to work myself a scarf, then my little princess will get a scarf (see that lovely pink, green, and white yarn pictured above!), and then I want to make my little prince some cutsie little hats from the book, Itty-Bitty Hats, by Susan B. Anderson. The book is absolutely darling. If nothing else it is just fun to browse these sweet little creations. However, I do hope to master the art and make some of these myself!

One question for you knitters out there: The picture at the very top shows my practice swatch of what I hope to one day be a scarf for first knitting project. I am doing a basic knit stitch for this so far, but the edges are going from small (at my cast on stitches) to wider as I this a common problem and if so, what am I doing wrong???
Thanks for any advice.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Autumn Dancin'

Last weekend, in order to more officially welcome in Autumn and October, we pulled out the yard art for Fall. I was placing a little girl scarecrow and a little boy scarecrow I had found at the nursery in the flower bed along with a few pumpkins. The little girl scarecrow is just a bit bigger than the little boy so it is a perfect "big sister/little brother" look to match our family right now.

My little girl was helping me place them. I tied the two scarecrow's hands together so they would be holding hands and the little girl scarecrow kept turning in the wind some. I told my daughter, "Well, I can't keep her from spinning," to which she replied, "Oh no mommy, it is okay, see, she is dancing!"

My little girl is always looking on the bright side. She really seems to have a great outlook on life, even at such a young age. I pray she will retain that and that her father and I can nurture that in her. She is such a joy and a happy little girl. What a blessing she is to us.

Menu Plan Monday

Another Monday is upon us! The 1st of certainly does not feel like autumn in Texas...still quite warm and humid, but it will change, it most certainly always does. Last night we put out the little girl and little boy scarecrows in the flower beds - holding hands - along with a few pumpkins and mums. The Princess and little Prince squealed with delight at the sight of these!

We are still under construction in the kitchen. We have completed the powder room and the floors. The counters are due to go in this week and then the back splash and then the painting and DONE! It has been a lot to coordinate, but it will be worth it in the end. This week, I am without all appliances save the refrigerator and microwave and a little toaster oven! I am relying on the grill, crock pot, and left-overs for our meals.

Monday: Grilled salmon and veggies (squash, asparagus, onions, and peppers)...(chicken nuggets for the kiddos)

Tuesday: Pineapple Chicken in the slow cooker (I am borrowing this right from Laura at Organizing Junkie! Thanks!!!)

Wednesday: Crock Pot Roast and potatoes, along with green beans

Thursday: Soup and sandwiches

Friday: Bar-b-que sandwiches made with the left-over roast with baked beans.

I should have some before and after pictures up soon. Have a great week and head on over to Laura's for more great recipe ideas!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole and green salad

Tuesday: Low Carb Beef Enchilada Bake Casserole

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Autumn Pot Roast, green beans, and rolls

Thursday: Santa Fe Chicken Casserole

Friday: Sandwiches or left-overs

We are remodeling our kitchen...and it will be dysfunctional for a while starting sometime next week! Soooo, that is why you see all the casserole dishes above. A casserole in a 13 x 9 dish will feed my family for two meals, so I am making a full casserole and we will eat half for our meal and then freeze the other half so as to have some meals to "nuke" when our kitchen is not functional over the course of the next few weeks! I already have some meals frozen like this from the previous week. I am figuring if we rotate left over casseroles, grilling our meals, sandwiches, and some take-out then we should be covered for about two weeks or so while we wait for our "dream kitchen!"

Have a great Monday and head on over to Organizing Junkie for other great meal plans!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bed-Time Deep Thoughts...

Last night, this is the conversation I had with my little princess right before bed. To preface, our little Prince has had the sniffles and we had just discussed whether he might be coming down sick or if it was just allergies...

Princess: Mommy, can you catch being well like you catch getting sick?

Me: (They are so precious) No honey, unfortunately we cannot catch being well, as being well is the normal, or what you hope is the normal for your body. Being sick means we were exposed to microscopic, teenie-weenie things that invade our body and make us feel bad.

Princess: Oh, that is too would be nice to catch being well.

Me: (Wow, don't kids just blow you away sometimes) Yes honey, it would be grand for so many ill people if we could just be around them and they could "catch" wellness.

What a great thought that left me to mull over as I drifted to sleep last night...No, we cannot "catch well" as in catch bodily wellness, but positive affect can be passed on to others. I am often drawn to the thought of how our behavior can influence others and especially our children we are raising. If we are not modeling what we are teaching or what our words are saying, then truly, we are teaching something all together different. It is the same thing as "actions speak louder than words."

I adore that commercial out right now about how one person sees another person help someone out. The person doing the helping helped because they were there and in the position to and the person watching just catches a glimpse of it and then it shows that person helping out another later on, and so on...paying it forward...I LOVE that commercial. It just reinforces that truly we never may know who or how many we make a positive impact on by our actions, so it is important to always strive to be the best "me" I can be. Yes, I will have a bad day, we all do, but perhaps that is the day I might "catch well" from another soul out there modeling their positive behavior.

I LOVE that my little girl already has these sparks of reason floating around in her consciousness!

Just For Fun...

I came across this neat little "Internet gadget" on Rocks In My Dryer's Blog...It is very fun...and she is right, it is hard to pull your self away from it! You can enter text and the program finds pretty letters for you! Go try it! Here is my name all prettied up.

V A L A R R letter i E

I just love pretty things that make me smile! ;-)

It has been far too long since I posted but I have been so busy getting back into the "school routine" as our little princess started the FIRST GRADE three weeks ago! Also, we are in the midst of a kitchen remodel so that has kept me busy as well. And since the evenings have become so pleasant out, when I am finished with work, I just cannot bear to sit in front of the computer when instead I can take my two little ones out to play.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Fall Is Just Around the Corner!!!

Now that school is back in session and our summer fun has been had, I am gearing up for Fall! I can feel it, a change is on the horizon!

I am dusting off some old and new recipes for autumn. Here is one I am going to try that I just found. It is for a dutch oven, but I think I may try this in the crock pot!


Autumn Chicken and Apple Stew

1 chicken, cut in parts (I am going to just use chicken breasts)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
6 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 carrots, peeled, sliced
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 apples, peeled, sliced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth, warm
1 cup applesauce

Spray large Dutch oven with vegetable cooking spray and heat over medium high temperature. Add chicken and cook, turning to brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Spread mustard over chicken pieces; add warm broth, vinegar, cloves and carrots; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes. Add apples and cook 5 minutes. Add cabbage, stirring into liquid. Cook, covered, about 10 minutes more or until fork can be inserted in chicken with ease. With slotted spoon, remove chicken and vegetables to warm serving bowl and keep warm. Into liquid, stir applesauce; boil on high temperature 5 minutes and pour over chicken and vegetables. Serve with brown rice, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.
Per Serving: 159 calories; 19.8 g protein; 2.2 g total fat; 0.6 g saturated fat; 14.8 g carbohydrates; 49 mg cholesterol; 574 mg sodium.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Meditation Monday

Quote for the day:
"Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away."
~ George Eliott

Monday mornings are a good time to meditate, be quiet, breathe deep, and think...A new week is upon us and it always helps me to take a little time, especially in the early mornings before the little ones wake, to just breathe and think.

The prose above is a great thought to meditate on for this week, for later in the week I will be visiting with a dear college friend of mine - a friend I have not seen for almost five years now, but I know we will pick right up where we left off. See, she is the best sort of friend. The type of friend I think of when I read that quote above. I can truly be ME with her. We were very close in college and spent many days know, attending class, studying, and planning our classes around The Young and the Restless so we could sure to watch it back at the apartment while having and dad would have been so proud of our time management skills!

Anyway, she is not a person I ever felt I had to sensor my thoughts around, for she would not judge or hold against me something said in anger, sadness, or stress, but instead was always a friend. I never remember us even being cross...I am sure we were at times, but what I remember, what made our friendship so enduring is that she knew the human, real me, and loved me despite any flaws.

After graduation, I moved away, but then moved back, and then she moved away, and has stayed. We now live a few states apart, and don't talk near as much as I would like to, but she is still one of my best and dearest friends - and always will be. I love her as much as a sister! Later this week, I will stand up for her, as she is getting married!!! She stood up for me when my dear husband and I were married 10 years ago, and now I am honored to return the favor.

I am so fortunate to count her in my circle of friends, and she is one of my here is to you my dear friend! I look forward to seeing you later this week, sharing some nice chats, and meeting your new has been way to long...I love you!

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Grilled pork chops, grilled potatoes, fresh green salad.

Tuesday: Moroccan grilled chicken, couscous, green beans.

Wednesday: Chef salad or sub sandwiches on whole wheat roll.

Thursday: Take-out.

Friday: Seafood at a rehearsal dinner for a wedding!

Laura over at Organizing Junkie has some links to other great menu planning posts! Happy Monday everyone!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thankful Thursday

It's more day to go until the weekend! Today is a good day to be thankful...
I am thankful for...
-Sugar-free, fat-free, vanilla iced latte on a warm day
-Air conditioning
-A peaceful shower while baby-man napped
-MOST of the things to be done/picked up/bought/packed before our trip to Florida checked off the list!
-Play dates for the Princess, a nap for the baby-man, and a good book and lounge chair in the sun for me! (That was yesterday, but I am still thankful for it today;-)
-NO RAIN here in my part of Texas for the past week!
-Leftover roast to be made into Bar-b-Que sandwiches tonight for dinner!
-Snuggling with the Princess for an afternoon read and smelling her freshly shampooed hair
-A book I have been waiting for finally on hold for me at the library
-The opportunity for our first "family of four" vacation upcoming
-The sound of the baby-man playing in his crib and "talking" to his stuffed buddies after just waking from his nap
-My children and husband, safe and healthy
-Most of all for Him, our God, holding us in the palm of His hand...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Daily Joy

Quote for the day:
"....every moment of our life does not have to be perfect to be of value. Too often, I realize, we fail to see the glorious reality of the simple joy that abounds in the seemingly mundane routine of day-to-day living. Instead, we tend to idolize the past, idealize the future & devaluate the present...What better way to show our appreciation to God for what we have than to embrace our lives, albeit 'ordinary' & 'unexciting' with joy?"~Winnie Dalley

My children are a great source of my daily joy. Since becoming a mommy, I have never felt closer to God, more appreciative of my body, or better a wife/daughter/friend. Being a mother has opened my eyes to more of the "important" things in has opened my eyes to really "embrace the mundane."

John Lenon coined that great quote, "Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans." I see that, I live that (or at least try very hard to) now that I am a mommy. Oh yes, there are times of despair, there are times of not having showered days! There are times when I cannot remember if I brushed me teeth, but really, when I am having "one of those days" I try to take a deep breath and then tell myself to look at the big picture - my kiddos will not remember that I did not wear makeup for most of the summer of 2007, but they will remember how it felt to get up early and have a special treat from the doughnut shop, or take a picnic to the pool, or to lay around and play board games on a rainy afternoon.

Now, don't get the idea that it is always "daisies and sunshine" around the Bugzmommy home on a daily basis...quite the contrary...there are days when the kids yell all day, there are toys strewn throughout the house, the dishes are piled up, and I feel as if I will blow my top...but then I overhear this:

Lil Princess to Baby Brother: Brother, when we get older and get married, not to each other because we cannot do that, but to someone else and we move out of mommy and daddy’s house but live next door, we can all get together at night and go out for ice cream!”

*sigh* That just reinforces the value of the "little things" in my life and how they impact my children. The "little", "mundane", "every day" things are so huge to a child. Knowing that my choice to "see the joy in the simple things" makes such an impact on my children...that is my daily joy.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Meatballs with marinara sauce, whole wheat pasta, green salad
Tuesday: Crock-pot roast, mashed potatoes, green beans
Wednesday: Chicken Caesar salad and sliced tomatoes for adults and chicken nuggets, mac-n-cheese , and left-over green beans for kiddos
Thursday: Bar-B-Que sandwiches made from the leftover roast, pinto beans, deviled eggs
Friday: Left-over buffet

Head on over to visit Laura at Organizing Junkie for more great menu plans!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sunsets and Moonglow

My brain was just jogged, kicked into gear, and thoughts have been running rampant, all inspired by a blog entry I read just a bit ago written by Adrienne. I have followed this site for many months. I visited and prayed through their heartache over a sick baby. I visited and prayed through the time the family made the decision to release their child from the pain of this life and back into the arms of our Savior. I have continued to visit and pray through the months following as they work through life without their baby boy with them physically, but still ever present spiritually and as they continuing living their life with their daughter. The dear mother wrote a piece today and it referred to explaining to her 5-year-old daughter what a shot glass was. She did not expect to have to explain this, but the question came up, so she did!

Bravo for her! Teachable moments...yes, I too believe wholeheartedly in those, for if we continually gloss over the moments that are God-led, when children are really listening, we may not be there to answer their questions when they are knee-deep in a situation, and they may get the wrong information from a peer.

Teachable moments aren't always in the form of direct question and answer sessions, but instead, many times, they come in sharing of the quiet moments. In my opinion, these are by far the best way we learn, and most times are God-led. I have always shared openly my love, or awe is a better description, of nature with my children. I feel so centered and balanced when I breathe deeply the evening air, or witness the majesty of the sunset, the summer bugs at night, the glow of the moon as my daughter and I swing late on summer evenings, the wind through the leaves, the smell of rain, etc.. Since my daughter was a baby and now with my little baby-man, I am sure to point out when a thought, a sight, a sound, etc. evokes a deep feeling in me. I want those kiddos to appreciate and take notice of what matters in life - the small things, the miracles in the every day that we so often gloss over as we go about our daily "chores."

A few nights ago, I had one of those moments. I saw the most beautiful crescent moon hanging high above the night sky with the air deep and rich with a day fading away - the summer night smells of grass and summer bugs beginning their night serenade. I noticed the moon while leaving the gym and when I arrived home, my little girl (who was up later than she should have been!) said, "Oh mommy, did you see the moon?!?" She was lying on the couch in the family room looking out the window seeing that same moon I had taken notice of!

I see how meaningful it is to share with our children - share with them our visions - share with them all the little and big, obvious and not so obvious "teachable moments." I have done that with them from the beginning - shared all the wonders of God in our human world, and now at the ripe old age of 6 years old, my daughter is sharing with me and is noticing them on her own!

Monday, July 16, 2007

My First Post

I am in the process of switching over from my Xanga-blog! This is my first post on Blogger, so please be patient.

I am a mommy to 2 little ones so too often my blog gets neglected while I am in the midst of being a SAHM to the 2 lil bugs while also working my home-based business. Since my work is in front of the computer, many times, when work is finished, I just don't want to sit in front of it any more to blog! I will try to transition smoothly and slowly to this blog and see how it goes!

Today I joined in with Menu Plan Mondays at my Xanga blog...perhaps I will start the transition by posting it here as well!

Okay, I have been following along with "Organizing Junkie" and her Menu Plan Mondays for quite some time now! I even incorporated her ideas on sitting down and writing a menu for the week and going to the store to only buy the items to complete my menu, and guess what?...It works AND saves us money on our grocery bill!

I find as my littlest one is getting bigger... ...too quickly I might add...that I find more time to add to my blog. I get around to a few really great blogs, but between my at-home business and taking care of the monkeys, I neglect my blog many times. Well today, I am going to join in with Menu Planning. That should motivate me to really stick to my working out our week's menu and keep saving us the $$$ on our grocery bill!

I tend to stick to a lower carb lifestyle, not just as a fad, but for the long-term health of my family and me. It has worked for us for the last few years now and so most of my menu will incorporate lean meats, veggies, and whole grains.
So here goes!

MONDAY: Cheese Topped Chicken & Mashed Cauliflower
(Calories 334) (Carbs 12g)5 oz (140g) (raw weight) boneless, skinless chicken breast (162)2 tbsp (1 oz/28g) shredded/grated low-fat cheese (70)1 medium tomato, sliced (35)1/4 tsp black pepper; 1 tsp olive or canola oil (45)4 oz (110g) cauliflower flowerets (florets) (25)1 tsp (5g) light butter (17)

Recipe Instructions
1. Beat the chicken breast to flatten, place in oven dish and drizzle oil over.2. Cook, covered in foil, in oven preheated to 180 degrees, for 20 minutes.3. Remove chicken from oven, top with sliced tomato, cheese, grill until cheese melts.4. Boil or microwave cauliflower until soft, mash with butter and pepper.
My family is somewhat finicky...although I will try anything once, so for them, I will bake the chicken and let everyone top with the other ingredients as we serve.

TUESDAY: Pinto beans and Low-Fat Smoked Sausages with taco seasoning, cornbread

WEDNESDAY: Salmon Fantasia with grilled asparagus/mushrooms/onions over brown rice. (Fish sticks for the kiddos)
Recipe Instructions:
1 pound Salmon Fillets 8 Tbsp. Honey 3 Tbsp. Soy Sauce 3 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger, grated 8 Tbsp. Olive Oil 3 Tbsp. Mustard 3 Tbsp. Chopped Chives 3 Tbsp. Lemon Juice 4 Tbsp. Butter
Mix first 5 ingredients (after the salmon) in a shallow bowl. Add salmon fillets and turn several times to coat well. Transfer salmon and marinade to a plastic zipper bag. Squeeze the air out of the bag before sealing. Marinate for 30 minutes (or longer). Remove from bag. Grill 3-4 minutes per side, or until the salmon is flaky.
In a saucepan, melt the butter over high heat. Add lemon juice and chives. Pour over the cooked salmon and serve.

THURSDAY: Hubby's birthday!!! Grilled steak, baked sweet potatoes, salad, whole wheat rolls and a homemade Snickerdoodle cake to celebrate!

Recipe Instructions:
Snickerdoodle Cake
1 pck plain white cake mix1 cup whole milk8 T (1 stick) butter, melted3 large eggs1 t vanilla extract2 t ground cinnamonCinnamon Buttercream frosting (recipe follows)Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.Generously grease 2 round 9 inch cake pans with solid shortening and then duct with flour. Shake out the excess flour and set pans aside. Place the cake mix, milk, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute.Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look well combined. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven side by side. Bake the cakes until they are golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger 27-29 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each layer and invert each onto a rack, then invert them again so that the cakes are right side up. Allow them to cool completely, 30 minutes more.

Meanwhile, prepare the Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting. Place one cake layer, right side up, on a serving platter. Spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer, right side up, on top of the first layer and frost the top and sides of the cake with clean, smooth strokes.

Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting
8 T (1 stick) butter; at room temperature3-3/4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted3-4 T milk1 t vanilla extract1 t ground cinnamon Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the confectioner's sugar, 3 T milk, and vanilla. Then add cinnamon. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more. Blend in up to 1 T milk if the frosting seems too stiff.

FRIDAY: Leftovers or Sandwiches