Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Sound of Freedom

I love our Naval Aviators and have the pleasure of hearing them roar over several times a day. 

It's a constant reminder of the men and women who are putting their lives on the line for our freedom. 

I'm not sure what was going on with this pilot today - he circled (low) over about 6 times before heading towards the hanger.

 Luckily it wasn't nap time! Our walls were shaking!

Forgive our messy backyard. Mr. G is painting our garage so it has become our temporary storage. 

Gardner Grub - Santa Fe Chicken Casserole

Casserole's are not typically a summer dish but it was a gorgeous 70 degrees yesterday. The windows were open and a cool breeze swept though the house all day. Loved it.

It has been a busy week (more on that later) so I looked for a dinner that I had all of the ingredients for and could whip up in a few minutes. The only Philadelphia Cooking Creme flavor I haven't tried is Santa Fe so I bought it last week with the intention to use it in fajitas but I went this route instead, and I'm glad I did.

To me this casserole tastes like eating a yummy, slightly spicy, burrito with a fork. Next time I will add sliced black olives to the mixture and sprinkle some on the top.

Here's the recipe (click to enlarge and print):
Recipe Source - Kraft Foods

Kid Friendly:
Noelle ate it as is - she enjoys spicy foods. If I knew she wouldn't like it I would have reserved some chopped chicken and made her a chicken quesadilla.

Monday, June 27, 2011

DIY - Summer Lavender Wreath

My husband planted two lavender plants on our walkway when we moved in three years ago. Since then they've grown (and grown) and demand to be trimmed several times a month. I like the plants, they are full and fragrant, but they aren't so nice in the summer when bees swarm around them and walking to the door requires bravery and quick feet. By the way, I'm terrified of bees. And wasps.

Moving on...

So I saw this post by Kate over at Centsational Girl and couldn't wait to make something gorgeous out of my weekly trimmings.

I braved the bees and gathered a pile of lavender along with floral wire, wire cutters, a craft ring and some new green ribbon. Then I bundled the lavender and secured it to the wreath with floral wire.

After working my way all around the ring it was finished.

She's a beauty. The day she after she adorned our door the temperature outside reached 108 degrees - for reals ya'll - one hundred and eight. The lavender dried out quickly that day so I had to add a few more bundles the next day to fill it in. It's been about a week and it's looking great.

I chose green ribbon because it matches our summer door mat (Clearance at Target for $6!).

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gardner Grub - Chopped Chicken Salad

About a year ago I posted about two of my favorite things - my Chopped Chicken Salad and getting a new Food & Family magazine in the mail. This salad is definitely my most-asked-for-recipe. Every time I make it for a get-together, the bowl comes home empty and I've promised several people that I'll e-mail the recipe to them. It really is that good. So in celebration of the dreaded heat warm weather I thought I'd share it once again.

Amanda's Chopped Chicken Salad
1 large head of cabbage - chopped
    (lately I've been cheating by using 2 packages of pre-chopped cabbage)3 bunches of green onions - finely chopped
3 stalks of celery - chopped
3 cups cooked chicken breasts - chopped into small pieces and cooled
3/4 cup slivered almonds
2 packages of Ramen noodles
About 2 tbs oil

Remove the noodles from the packages (throw out the seasoning packets), put them in a large ziplock bag and smash them into small pieces. Heat 2 Tbs oil in a skillet and add the noodles. Stir continuously until they begin to brown. 
This is a delicate process - when they start to brown it goes very fast.

Remove the noodles from the skillet and set aside to cool. 
Combine cabbage, celery, almonds and onions in a large bowl. Add chicken and noodles once cooled and mix all of the ingredients together.

Add dressing and mix just before serving.

3/4 cup of Vegetable oil
5 Tbs rice wine vinegar
5 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper


Friday, June 24, 2011

Old chair makeover

Do you ever have nothing going on then suddenly you find yourself with several unfinished projects and no time to work on them? That's me this week. The solution would be to not start another project until I've completed the one I'm already working on, but that would be too easy.

After refinishing the desk for Noelle's room I started looking for a little chair. I found a couple that worked but they were both over $30 and that's not how I roll. While visiting my parents I spotted this gold chair in my sister's old room the workout room. It's super old - definitely over 15 years old. I remember having it in our house on base which was around 1993.

So I took it home and sprayed it with a new coat of paint (Heirloom White) and made a seat cushion.

Seat cushions are easy to make. I used:
Scrap piece of wood
Scrap piece of a foam mattress pad
Scrap piece of fabric
Staple Gun

Cut the wood to fit just inside the space and cut the foam about an inch bigger than that. 
Fold the fabric over and staple.

While I was outside to take a picture of the chair, Princess Noelle demanded asked to be in a picture which of course turned into a photo shoot. 

The chair finally made it in her room. She and Ariel are having a good time playing in there.

Total cost for her new chair - $0

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bullseye Bargains

There are tons of coupons stacks available right now for Target. If you're new to this a "stack" is using a manufacturer coupon and target coupon together for one item. I put the stacks together that I might want to use - if the price is right - and headed off to Target. 

$2 total stack for A1

$3 total stack/2 lunchables with fruit

$2 total stack Snackwell's popcorn (dying to try these!)

$2 total stack for Newtons Fruit Thins 

$3 total stack/2 Ritz Crackerfuls

$5 total stack for Nivea Lotion

$6 total stack for Nivea Cellulite Lotion

$4.50 total stack/2 Pantene

$3 total stack for Nivea lotion

$1 off Shout = Free travel shout wipes

So here is what I came home with.             


Ritz Crackerfuls 
$2.40 each
$3 stack = $1.80 for 2

$2 stack = .79

Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce
$1 MQ = .25

Charmin Wipes (we were out)
$1 MQ = $1.99

Bertolli pasta sauce (all out - how did that happen?)
$1.99 each
$1/2 TQ = $2.98 for 2

Shout Wipes
$1 MQ = Free

Up&Up Liners (adding to stockpile)
.75 TQ = .14

Retail cost = $17.67
Total cost after coupons = $7.95

There are several other great deals using the stacks that I have but I like to wait until the product is on sale for maximum savings. If it doesn't go on sale and the coupon is going to expire I have to decide if it is worth it or if I should let it pass. For example, the $4.50 Pantene stack is a great deal if you use Pantene but I already have a full stockpile of shampoo/conditioner so I'm not going to use it. If you want them just let me know, I'll send them your way. 

Daddy's Hands

I wasn't able to share this last week because Mr. G occasionally reads my blog and I didn't want him to have a sneak peak at his Father's Day gift from the kids.

"Daddy's Hands will always be Bigger"

The easy part was making the page on my computer - the hard part was getting Noah's hand print. This is the 3rd try and it actually came out good. Noelle and I make hand prints almost every day so she's a pro.

The trick with getting a 4 month olds hand print is patience. I put a small drop of the non-toxic washable finger paint on his palm then swirled it around a bit. Then I waited and waited until he opened his hand naturally and quickly stuck it on the paper and pulled up. The two other times I tried to pry his hand open myself and the result was a blue blob.

On another note - I've been seeing pictures of a giraffe on almost every baby blog I visit so I finally inquired about it. Heather over at Us Doing Things let me know that it is Sophie the Giraffe - supposedly the best teething toy ever. At first I thought it was just an expensive dog chew toy but Noah loves her! He happily slobbers all over her - which is better than slobbering all over mommy's hand.


I got Sophie at Babies R Us for $22. Thanks, Heather!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Homeschool - Week 2

Last week Noelle completed the Letter E curriculum. We have so much fun every morning "at school." I love watching her learn. She gets so excited about the activities and hates when our time is up - which is usually when baby brother wakes up. 
A few of her favorite Letter E activities were:

Sorting Big E's and little e's.

Simple math.

Gluing, of course. She really enjoyed finding the letters to spell Elephant.

Tracing and writing big and little E's.

We took a trip on Friday to the zoo to hang out with the elephants.
"E is for Elephants!"

We are very lucky to have a beautiful zoo just 30 minutes from our house. It's one of Noelle's favorite places to go.

Noah wasn't too impressed.


Yep, we need a double stroller!

Letter E memory verse:
"Even a child is known by his doings." Proverbs 20:11

Letter of the Week from Confessions of a Homeschooler