Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Today, we celebrate two years.

Two babies.

Being too blessed.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Truth from the Trenches: Pre-Baby Meal Prep

I didn't prep anything before BB was born and looking back, I think that would have really taken some pressure off of me.  So with LL on the way, I decided to fill up the freezer.  I made a variety of meals and snacks. I must say, I am pretty dang proud of myself for pulling this off while 8-10 months pregnant and keeping a 1 year old alive.

Here's my list!

1. Chicken fajita soup (crock pot)  I can't believe I've never shared this recipe before.  It's one of my favorite winter go-to options.  And while the Boy from Texas doesn't really like soup, he seems to doctor this one with enough of the toppings that he doesn't complain.

2.  Kylee's Chicken pot pie   This is going to be perfect for a cold winter evening!  All I've got to do is thaw, dump the freezer bag into a pie crust, and bake until the crust is done.
3.  French toast sticks When BB was born, it was super easy for me to just grab a granola bar for breakfast and call it good.  But now that I'll have a 14 month old to feed, I knew that having some easy breakfast items handy was a must.  So, I just whipped up my favorite recipe and then cut them into strips before freezing.  I think this will be right up our alley.

4.  Pumpkin bread  In all honesty, I haven't tasted this one.  It smelled amazing baking and as soon as they were done, I cooled and froze them so as not to eat it all that night.
5.  Blueberry bread. I figure the more snack type food the better and, if I'm being honest, I caught blueberries buy one get one free at the store, so I figured this was a good option!
6.  Chocolate chip cookies  This is the only cookie recipe I make anymore.  It's easy and they are delicious.  You can't go wrong.  A while back, I doubled the batch and froze half.  I figure there may be some long nights of rocking a baby during which a chocolate chip cookie might just hit the spot!

7. Green chile stew.  I'll owe you the recipe for this one--my friend Shawna sent it to me and it was really good!  I went ahead and made a big pot and just froze our leftovers one night.

8. Tuscan chicken stew (crock pot)  Here's a stew full of fresh veggies that was actually really easy to make!  I just bought double of everything and when I put one batch into the crock pot, I made another batch in a freezer bag to save.

9.  Green chile chicken enchiladas  So for this one, I basically just turn my mom's enchiladas into a casserole by layering them in one of those disposable aluminum pans.  All we'll need to do is heat it up and dinner will be ready to go.

10.  Blueberry pancakes  This is another of our favorite breakfast items.  BB loves pancakes in general, but add in real blueberries and he goes crazy.  These just need zapped in the microwave and he'll have breakfast ready to go.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

52 Week Photo Project: Weeks 40-42

Well surprise, surprise....I'm behind again.  Here is my catch-up post of our weekly photos of BB.

Week 40

Week 41

Week 42

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Monday, October 3, 2016

Let the Chips Fall

Let the Chips Fall
By: Denton Dowell

 We have all been at shows where we don’t agree with the judge who sorts the livestock. Am I a guilty party of being mad and talking trash about the judge? Yes, I am guilty. Nobody can prove if a show is “rigged” or not.  With that said, I feel like this is something that everybody in the livestock showing industry needs to be told. So here are my suggestions on how to go to the show and feel good about what you are doing.

First thing to do is to buy the best animal you can afford. If you can afford a thirty-thousand-dollar steer and you think he is the best, then pull the trigger. If you can only afford a five-hundred-dollar sheep, go and find the best five-hundred-dollar sheep you can find. Within this part of the livestock season, we must also remember that the most expensive isn’t always the best one.

Second thing to do is to be sure to do your homework. You will never win a show by not working at the barn. In my opinion, the banner is not won at the stock show, but it is won at home. The person who is out there working hair, walking pigs, setting up show lambs before day light during the school year and on every Saturday night in the summer is the one who has the best chance to win. Also, you must feed to the best of your ability. I don’t care if you feed HighNoon, ShowTec, or Jimmy Joe’s finisher ration from the local feed mill. Here is the trick to feeding folks: Get on a program, stay on a program, understand your program. Just because the person who wins a major stock show is feeding a different brand of feed than you are don’t run out and buy that feed thinking you will win just by feeding it.

Third, at the stock show, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I know people see the show jocks as cocky and stuck up. But here is a little secret, they are they to help kids and win at the end of the day. If you go up and ask someone for help my bet is that almost all of them will do what they can do to help you. With that said, think about when to ask.  If you go over and ask someone for help and you see they have seven head of sheep in the next class don’t be surprised if they tell you no. However, the night before the show is a good time to say, “Hey I need some help showing, can you help me for just a minute?”  I bet you nine times out of ten, you’ll get a yes from anyone you ask in that barn.

Fourth, show the animal to show off the best qualities and hide the worst. If you know your steer isn’t quite fat enough turn his head to you a little to make it feel like he is. If your pig is super wide chested and wide going away, then be sure you take that truck and drive it right at the judge. These little tricks are not cheating; they are knowing what you have and knowing how to show off your animal that you have spent countless hours with.

Lastly, be realistic.  We all get barn blind. It just happens. We have to be smart enough to look out at the animals in the class and say, “Hey we just got beat.” And you know what?  There is nothing wrong with that. Every single person will get beat. Whether you are in the show ring or in life. It is part of it. This is one thing all our youth needs to learn and lean fast.

I really feel if you do these five things, you will be ok in the show ring. Don’t get caught up about what certain judges want. Just haul a good one to them and let the chips fall. If you win be happy. If you get beat, then learn from it. And at the end of the day remember this is one person’s opinion on one day.  This industry doesn’t need nasty articles printed in agriculture publications or nasty text sent to judges.

Should we be happy when we get beat? No! In the words of General George S. Patton “I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughs.” But, what we can do is learn from it figure out what we need to do differently.  And let's remember, we're here to raise good kids, that's what really matters.

Truth from the Trenches: Toddler Must Haves

In case you missed them, I previously did a post on our list of "must haves" for newborns and babies. Today, we turn to toddlers.  I actually struggled a bit more with this post because it seems like BB needs less stuff now (is that possible??)  He's pretty easily entertained and doesn't need a ton of toys--give him some rocks or a cabinet that opens or mixing bowls and he's good!  Nevertheless, here are some of my thoughts.

1. Stroller.  I'd be lost without my stroller.  Particularly before BB could walk, having a good stroller was key to get him outside--which is his favorite place.  Pretty much every night we would stroll around the house to see the dogs and feed the cows and just explore.  (Now, he walks to do these things or we pull him in his wagon.)  Also, even now that he walks, most nights we still break the stroller out and get our nightly exercise--a 1 mile walk around our place.  BB seems to enjoy the sights and sounds and it helps to calm him down before we kick off the bedtime routine.  I need the fresh air and some peace and quiet myself.

What kind of stroller is best?  I think that probably depends on how you're going to use it.  We got a jogging stroller because (until I got all knocked up again) I was jogging with him, plus because we are so often off in pastures, at fair barns, and on dirt or gravel roads, so we needed the large wheels for that terrain.  I've got the Graco Fast Action Fold Click Connect Jogger.  The only downside is that this thing is big and bulky, so hauling it around to different places isn't so fun.

I also have a cheap-o umbrella stroller that I use if we are going somewhere that I know is tile or concrete.  This wouldn't last 5 minutes around our house though on the gravel and grass.

2. Shoes.  BB basically went barefoot his entire life until he learned to walk.  Now, only because his Mom is mean and makes him, he must wear shoes to go outside.  I know some people love dressing babies head to toe, but that wasn't me.  So I basically didn't buy a single shoe until he took his first steps.  And then I bought a pair of what look basically like little kids tennis shoes that BB loves.  I couldn't find the exact shoe, but they're this brand and pretty similar to these.  My advice here is to get one that does not have a super thick sole because those can cause tripping issues when the little ones are just learning to walk anyway.

3. Suction bowls.  We're working on getting BB to eat out of a bowl rather than just off his his high chair tray.  Enter suction bowls.  My mom suggested these after BB was having a hayday dumping his bowl over, filling it back up, and dumping it again.  These helps remove that issue and can make dinner time much more peaceful for everyone.  You can get them anywhere--here are the ones we have.

4.  Crib.  We moved BB from his bassinet in the Pack and Play to his crib at about 4-5 months old.  He had just gotten too tall for the bassinet and needed more room.  It was a fairly easy transition, and now, good nights come and go.  Sometimes, he sleeps all night long.  Sometimes, he's up twice.  I can't really figure out the pattern.  Anyway, choosing a crib---I have no idea.  We got this big monster one because I liked the changing table and extra drawers and because The Boy from Texas said it was the sturdiest one he found.  (He knows this because he shook the crap out of every model in the stores.)  We've never used the changing table--we use the one on the pack and play.  The drawers are nice.  But it's big and does take up quite a bit of room.  So pros and cons....good luck.

5.  Convertible carseat.  When BB was about 11 months old, we decided to transition him into a convertible carseat.  He seems MUCH more comfortable than he did in the infant one.  Plus, he can see out the window now, which has really improved his attitude during our daily commute.  We got this carseat and really like it.  I think it's easy to get in and out when we have to move it (which is not very often) and BB loves the cupholder for things like binkies and snacks.  I've gone back and forth about whether I should have just gotten this in the first place and never had an infant carseat, but honestly, the ability to click the infant one in and out to carry a sleeping baby was probably worth it, at least for those first couple of months.  Again, I'm not sure there is a right or wrong with that.

6. High chair.  Trying to wrangle a toddler and maintain to keep food off of everything is next to impossible.  A  good high chair is a must.  I don't know that it matters what kind, so long as you have one.  We have this wooden one, but we actually don't even use the padding that goes with it.  Just got messy and I was having to wash it all the time.  BB doesn't seem to mind just sitting right on the wooden chair, which I can easily wipe right down.

7.  Balloons.  Buy your kid balloons.  It will be the best $5 you'll spend.  BB strutted through the house dragging these along for days when we got them for his birthday.  It's hilarious watching him play with them.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Barn Building

I always wanted to marry someone handy.  Not that I'm completely helpless or anything, but I feel like men should just have this innate knowledge of how to build and fix things.  I think I outkicked my coverage on this item when I landed The Boy from Texas.  He recently built a barn.  A BARN.  By himself (well, our friend Chaz helped two days and I held posts once or twice while he poured cement).  

I took it upon myself to document the progress as he worked.

Open area before construction began.

Framing gates in the very beginning.

Frame for the roof was done here.

Added in fences.

BB assisted when it was time to start with the tin.

Tin going up.

Gates in place.

Final product

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Newlywed in the Kitchen {2016} Recipe #14: Kylee's Chicken Pot Pie

**Quick reminder:  This is your LAST DAY to enter the Pink Blush Giveaway!**

In an attempt to keep the family fed after LL arrives, I have decided to start making some meals I can freeze. The Boy from Texas' cousin, Kylee, suggested chicken pot pie and gave me her recipe.  I modified slightly to fit my spice cabinet and it turned out delicious!  I just doubled the recipe and froze half of the filling.  All I will have to do is thaw it and put it in a pie crust and we'll have dinner.

I thought it turned out really tasty and honestly can't wait to have the batch in the freezer! BB liked the chicken and the crust but picked out the veggies.  The Boy from Texas was grumpy so I think he ate cereal that night.  Ha!

Kylee's Chicken Pot Pie

Olive oil
1 pound chicken
3 stalks celery
4 carrots
Minced onion (she uses real onion)
1C frozen peas 
1C frozen green beans
Seasoning (His cousin uses thyme, salt, pepper. I used celery salt, parsley, bay leaves, Rosemary, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic powder.)
1 can cream of chicken soup (she uses cream of mushroom)
Frozen crust (She uses a Pillsbury one that is square. I could not find that so I just used a generic brand deep dish crust.  You want the one with two crusts so you have one for the top.)

Cook chicken in olive oil until browned. Put aside in large bowl. 

Sauté chopped carrots, celery, onion covered in olive oil until soft.  Add frozen veggies and sauté until thawed.  Add seasoning.  Put all veggies into bowl with chicken.

Add soup to bowl and mix well. 

Place filling into pie crust.  Cover with other pie crust.  Bake as instructed.

{To make this freezer friendly, all I did was prep the filling as listed above and then put it into a freezer bag instead of into the crust.  When I'm ready to use it, I'll just need to thaw, pour the filling into a pie crust, and bake.}

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