Category Archives: Single Parenting

Root Beer Slow Cooker Pork

This is a new recipe to our menu planning. I hate shredding meat with a fork so I usually put the cooked meat into my bowl for the stand mixer and use the paddle attachment. I will put it on low and let the mixer ‘shred’ the meat for me. This works well for chicken breast also.

Root Beer Slow Cooker Pork (original post)

Ingredients

2 lbs of pork tenderloin

1 can or bottle of root beer

1- 18oz bottle of barbecue sauce

8 hamburger buns, split and toasted if desired

Directions

Place pork tenderloin in a crockpot and pour root beer over meat. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until pork shreds easily with a fork.

Once cooked, drain and discard liquid. Shred pork and place back into the slow cooker. Toss with barbecue sauce and serve immediately, or keep warm in slow cooker until ready to serve. Serve on hamburger buns.

Enjoy!

Crockpot Tortellini Soup

This is a fairly new recipe that we have added to our rotating menu plan. My DD17 made this one day when I was out of town and it turned out beautifully even though she didn’t add the sausage.

I believe I had seen this posted on a FB page and jotted down the ingredients on a scrap piece of paper.

Crockpot Tortellini Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of cheese tortellini
  • 1 bag of fresh spinach, i think frozen would work in this too
  • 2 cans of italian-style diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 block cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1 lb. of ground sausage, cooked and broken into small pieces
  • 4 c. of chicken broth

Directions:

Put all ingredients in crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Uncover, stir, and cook for 1 more hour. It’s that easy! The kids ate it with buttered bread.

Goulash

This meal looks amazing and smells so good when it is cooking. Sometimes I will add a little leftover spaghetti sauce to it too, if I happen to have some sitting in the fridge.

1 lb. hamburger (can use other ground meats, if desired)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup bell pepper, chopped (use whatever kind you hav)
2 cups uncooked elbow noodles
1- 15 oz. can of stewed tomatoes
1- 15 oz. can tomato sauce
5 cups of water
1 T. sugar
1 T. Italian seasoning
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 t. salt
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
dash of hot sauce, optional
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded

Brown meat with the onion and the bell pepper. Add the everything else except the hot sauce and cheeses. Bring to a boil then set on low. Cover and simmer, about 15-20 minutes, until the macaroni is tender and most of the water is absorbed. Be sure to stir occasionally to keep the noodles from sticking. Add more water if it seems too dry or leave the lid off to get rid of excess water.
Sprinkle with cheeses before serving.

Bacon Grits/Cheesy Grits

My kids love grits, buttered grits, cheesy grits, and especially bacon grits! This is a super simple way to prepare them when you are short on time. My kids usually eat these served over their scrambled eggs with some jelly toast on the side.

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. grits, prepared according to package
  • 4 T butter or margarine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8-10 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

Add the butter to the prepared grits and stir until completely melted. Season to taste. Save a few bacon crumbles for sprinkling on top and stir the rest into the grits. Serve.

For cheese grits:

  • 2 c. grits, prepared according to package
  • 4 T butter or margarine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 T. garlic powder, more or less depending on your taste
  • 1 c. cheese, sliced, shredded, cubed or whatever you have on hand

Add the butter to the prepared grits and stir until completely melted. Season to taste.Add garlic powder and cheese. Stir until melted. Serve.

 

 

Help! There’s a snake in my boot!

Help! There’s a snake in my boot, actually it was in the closet but it could’ve been in my boot as some point. The cover photo for this post was taken just last month. My 14-year-old had said he spotted a snake in the heat vent. Many people would think that he was just imagining things. But I know that this could have been a real possibility. So I prepared myself with a pair of kitchen tongs and my brother helped me to close off all the heat vents.

Last month appeared to be a false alarm. No snake ever emerged from the heat vents or anywhere else in the house that we saw. However we have had some not so false alarms in the past year.

The picture below is a snake that we found in our kitchen last November. Yes, those are the kitchen tongs. This was not the only snake we found though.

I was actually pretty calm this time around as this has been the second snake we had found in the house within a few months.

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This is what my bedroom looked like after my daughter had called me last May. She had saw a snake in the playroom. Imagine her surprise when she bent down to pick up the toy snake so she could vacuum and it moved.

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This is another picture of my closet when we were looking for the snake. Needless to say this prompted me to do a major decluttering.

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This is a picture of the play room after the snake was spotted.

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After a second, more thorough, search of the house the snake was eventually found in my closet. If you look closely in the corner there is a tiny hole in the wall and that’s where he was.

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This is the snake that was found in the closet the first time. He was let loose only to be found in the chicken house a couple weeks later.

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Below was the second snake that we found near the house. He was curled up under the hood of my truck. I could not believe my eyes when my son sent me this picture. He had borrowed my truck to jumpstart his early in the morning. I bet he was shocked to find this under the hood.

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After asking Google and many of my Facebook friends no one had a good solution for getting the snake out of my truck. My truck sat in the hot sun for three whole days trying to bake him out. I tried to throw mothballs under the truck and various other suggestions to no avail.

You can see him playing peekaboo in the grill. I was paranoid that the snake would pop out while I was driving down the road or something. That’s when I found out that kitchen tongs work well for grabbing hold of snakes.

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Remember that if you ever happen to find a snake in your house, or your vehicle, just try to stay calm. If you’re unsure of how to remove the snake or if you cannot positively identify the snake then don’t touch it. Call the professionals, if needed.

This was just a quick little post to show you that it that it always pays to be prepared for anything.

Egg carton snow man craft

These are fairly simple to make. They are also very easy for kids of all ages. 

You will need:

  • one egg carton 
  • Glue 
  • pipe cleaners 
  • sequins 
  • sharpies 
  • construction paper 
  • other craft supplies, as desired

Cut each egg carton into four pieces. Turn over add eyes and mouth with marker. Make hats from construction paper. Use pipe cleaners as hanger. Allow kids to decorate with sequins and other supplies as their imagination guides them.

Popsicle snowflake crafts

This is another easy craft for kids of all ages. Adults will need to use the hot glue gun to assemble the basic snowflake and to attach the ribbon but after that let the kids have use own imaginations.


You will need:

  • Popsicle sticks, 3 per snowflake
  • Hot glue gun
  • Ribbon or yarn to make hanger
  • Sequins
  • Glitter
  • Glue
  • Other decorations, as desired


First glue the three popsicle sticks together to form a snowflake.


Next add the ribbon to the back to form a hanger.


Finally, let the kids decorate as desired. Let dry and hang on tree.


Surviving the nasty bugs

Now is the time of year when all the stomach bugs are floating around. When you have a large family like we have it can get very stressful. So how do we handle the stomach bug or nasty bug as my little ones call it?

First, I try to keep the bathrooms and kitchen cleaned every day to prevent the nasty bugs from declaring war on us. This includes sanitizing the doorknobs and light switches. I think this helps cut down on the number of germs that are passed back-and-forth.

Second, when someone starts to show signs of being sick they are quarantined. This doesn’t mean that they have no contact at all with anyone I just try to limit the contact as much as possible.

Third, we have a puke bucket and old beach towels. The puke bucket is just an old sand bucket that is lined with a grocery bag for easy clean up. This bag also has a couple of scrunched up paper towels in the bottom of it to help absorb anything that gets deposited. The bucket is small enough that even the little ones can keep a hold of it. (Old ice cream pails work as well.)

I keep some old beach towels on hand also. Sometimes the The Littles can’t be or don’t want to be left in their bedrooms so we let them sit on a beach towel to help with the cleanup.

Fourth, we keep plenty of Gatorade on hand. The green Lemon-lime Gatorade seems to work best here. Of course we try to keep plenty of crackers and ginger ale also.

When the kids are sick, whether they are vomiting or have diarrhea, we try to keep to a simple diet. They can have bananas, toast, crackers, applesauce, or other bland foods. We also keep Jell-O on hand for when they feel up to it.

As their strength and appetite comes back they will start to eat more soups and other foods. We generally try to stay away from dairy products when they’re sick.

Lastly, it is important to keep up with the cleanliness of the house. Sometimes it is possible to catch the nasty bug early enough that it doesn’t go through the whole family.

We try to keep the laundry done up. Sometimes that is easier said than done when you have Littles that are sick. We also try to make sure we disinfect and clean up any accidents that may occur.

And the bathrooms may get cleaned several times a day during periods of illness. I do recommend that you keep disinfecting wipes on hand for these emergencies.

Being prepared goes a long way as the nasty bug can hit at any time without warning. If you find your house under siege from nasty bugs just remember that this too shall pass.

 

December 12, 2016

Good morning! I had intended to write this post about the peaceful mornings but plans changed. I started my day as usual and the kids actually slept in a bit so I was not being hurried to get breakfast ready and on the table.

I sat down with my coffee and reflected on a few things. One of which was yesterday’s sermon about clinging to grace. We need to remember that when times are hard and nothing seems to be going right that we still have grace to carry us through. We need to keep holding fast to the promises that God has given us. He has a plan for us and He knows what we need even we don’t really have a clue.

I have had many a day when I have felt so discouraged and sad. Part of this is due to the fact that I don’t have someone to walk alongside of. Someone to share my little joys with or someone to hold me when I am down. I do miss having someone to hold my hand or the feeling of someone coming up behind me and wrapping their arms around me and holding me tight. I sometimes long to have someone to talk to about my day or being able to listen to someone tell me about their day. I miss having someone to snuggle close to when the nights are cold or when I don’t want to get up in the morning.

I try my best not to dwell on these feelings as I know that God is in control. I know that right now my focus needs to be on Him and the rest will fall into place. He is always there and will never leave me. He knows the innermost thoughts of my heart and all of my desires. He will comfort me like no one else can. I know that if it is in His will for me to have someone beside me He will allow our paths to cross.

So for now I will continue to pray for His wisdom and guidance, not only for myself, but for the one He has chosen for me. I pray that God will bless Him beyond measure and supply all his needs. I pray that  He will guide him and protect him and that He will surround Him with people who will encourage him. I pray that God will continue to mold him and shape him into the man God intends him to be.

I don’t know God’s will or His plans for my life but I know that He loves me and only wants the best for me. I also know that a lot of my problems have been because I wasn’t patient enough and didn’t wait for Him to reveal His plan to me. I tried to do things my own way and they didn’t turn out the way I had planned. I’ve made so many mistakes and suffered so many failures.

I pray that God will continue to work in my life and mold me and shape me into the person He wants me to be. I know that He can turn mistakes into miracles and that God has not forgotten about me. I pray that if it is not His will for me to have someone to walk with that He will fill my heart with joy and help me to be content where I am right now.

Right now, I will keep my focus on Him and on the job He has blessed me with as a mother and a keeper of my home. This is an important job that He has placed on me and it is full of responsibilities. My attitude and behavior will influence everyone around me especially my children. God calls us to show His love to all of those around us and I pray that everyone I meet can see how His love overflows from my heart. I pray that everyone around me will always feel loved, welcomed, safe, and comforted when they enter into our home.

Yes, it would be so much easier if I had someone to help me shoulder the many burdens of raising a family and keeping a home but God will give me the strength I need. I don’t really look at my role as a burden as I try to do everything with a servant’s heart because I love my family. So I will try not to be discouraged and I will keep singing His praises because God is so good to me! He has blessed me, an unworthy sinner, and He has loved me and shown me His grace and mercy. So for now I will indeed continue to cling to that grace and allow it to carry me through this difficult part of my journey.

December 11-17, 2016 meal plan

This is our basic meal plan for the week. Sometimes we will switch the days around if I forget to set something out or put something in the crock pot. Please feel free to use this or change it around to suit your family’s needs.

Sunday

Breakfast:

Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole

Lunch:

PB & J w/fruit

Dinner:

Oven Fried Chicken, Baked sweet potatoes, slaw

Snacks:

cupcakes


Monday

Breakfast:

Cereal/Oatmeal

Lunch:

Leftovers

Dinner:

Pintos, hoe cakes, greens

Snacks:

Popcorn


Tuesday

Breakfast:

French Toast

Lunch:

Bean Quesadillas w/leftovers

Dinner:

Tater Tot Casserole, Veggies

Snacks:

PB Toast


Wednesday

Breakfast:

Muffins

Lunch:

Scrambled Egg Sandwiches

Dinner:

Chili Dog Casserole, salad, chips

Snacks:

Muffins


Thursday

Breakfast:

Pancakes

Lunch:

Leftovers

Dinner:

Salmon Patties, Mashed Potatoes, Creamed Peas

Snacks:

Fruit


Friday

Breakfast:

Cereal/Oatmeal

Lunch:

ramen noodles, grilled cheese

Dinner:

Sweet N Sour Meatballs, Mac N Cheese, Veggies

Snacks:

Boiled Eggs


Saturday

Breakfast:

Bagels w/cream cheese, fresh fruit

Lunch:

tuna salad sandwiches, fresh veggies

Dinner:

Broiled Parmesan Tilapia, Steamed Asparagus, Steamed Red Potatoes

Snacks:

Russian Tea Cakes

Just a twinge

Last night I was reading over some things on my computer when I happened upon a very nice comment left for someone regarding something they had written. There was nothing wrong with the comment, nothing wrong with the person who wrote the comment, and nothing wrong with the person it was directed to. When I read it though I felt an instant twinge of jealousy. Why? I really wasn’t sure.

I admire the life she has. She seems to have everything going for her. The profile picture shows a happy family with a handsome, smiling husband and two kids right beside her. She has many accomplishments listed in her profile and she has traveled the world. So many things that I had planned on doing when I was younger.

When I felt the twinge I knew why, well at least partly. Then I thought about my family and all the things that I have done. If I had been in school or working I might’ve missed out on some of the opportunities that I have had. I instantly knew that I am where God would have me to be at this moment in time and I felt a sense of peace. I asked God to forgive me. Then I also asked him to bless her and her family as I know that they are right where He would have them to be.

 

The key to overcoming this feeling is to be aware of it. Don’t let it grow or it will overwhelm your emotions. I realized it immediately when I felt it but sometimes it is an emotion that comes on more subtly. It creeps into our minds and our hearts without us noticing it. We may start to feel discontent and not know why.

We may admire something someone has or something someone else’s husband has done for them. These feelings may trigger other feelings of insecurity and doubt about ourselves, our marriages, our families, and our lives. These feelings can grow and manifest themselves into bigger uglier problems like resentment, distrust, and anger.

 

Maybe you know or admire someone but you feel anxious or resentful towards them. Maybe you compare yourself to them and you feel like you are never enough or that you just can’t measure up to them. Maybe you wonder why they always seem to have all the luck. Maybe you wonder what they ever did to have or to earn the things they have.

You need to recognize that these feelings can come from being jealous. I know, I know, we don’t want to admit that we could possibly be jealous over someone else but it happens. We might laugh at someone if they suggest that we could possibly be jealous of a certain person.

You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? – 1 Corinthians 3:3

The truth is that we are human and we have emotions. We feel things like no other creature on earth. We also have the ability to control these feelings. What do we do about this?

First, you need to recognize the feeling. Let yourself acknowledge it but don’t let it over take you. You can’t let it control your emotions, your actions, or your life. Accept responsibility for the emotions.

Second, take a look at why you feel the way you do. Take a step back and really look at the situation. Are you jealous of someone’s relationship? Are you jealous of someone’s appearance? Are you jealous of the recognition someone else gets from their job or other accomplishments?

Third, remember that you have the power to change the way you feel. The root of the problem lies within yourself and your own heart. Think about things you can do to improve yourself. Look at your own strengths and build on them.

Fourth, stop comparing yourself to other people. I mean it! Stop! You need to remember that what you perceive to be true is not always as it seems. Look at everything you have been blessed with and be thankful for what you have. Remember that if it is in God’s will for you to have something then He will give it to you in His time. I know how hard it can be to watch things fall in place for others when it might feel like your own life is falling apart. Just remember that everything is working together for the good.

Fifth, pray about it! Admit the feelings you have and ask God to forgive you for feeling that way. Ask God to help you develop a more positive outlook on life and to help you make positive changes in your life. When you recognize your faults and weaknesses you can ask for specific changes. God hears your prayers and He knows the innermost thoughts of your heart.

If you are struggling with jealousy God can and will help you. He can take away those feelings and He can create a new heart in you. He can help you overcome these feelings. Jealousy is a tool that Satan uses to get to you and he will use it to destroy you.

I pray every morning that God will help me to take away any feelings of jealousy, lust, envy, anger, unforgiveness, bitterness or discontentment that may be hiding in me. I may not see these until its too late and I have done or said something that I will regret later.

I ask Him to give me strength to prevent these emotions from creeping into my relationships with others. I ask him to help me remember that I was beautifully created by His own hand and that He loves me even when I don’t love myself. I also ask Him to prepare me for the changes He is making in my life and to help me accept the things that I can not change.

I trust in God and His plan for my life. He only wants the best for us and He has a plan for each and every one of us. So when you are dealing with jealousy or anything else you need to hand it over to God. He will help you just as He has helped me.

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. -Song of Solomon 8:6

Polar Express Party

This our annual family Christmas get together. It is based on ‘The Polar Express’ movie. We have so much fun with this every year and it just gets better and better. It has become a fun family tradition here that everyone looks forward too!

Unfortunately we are not having a party this year but the following pics are from previous parties. I also have a Polar Express board and a Polar Express ‘Fish Fry’ 2015 board on Pinterest.

I will continue to update this page as I can. I may be able to add menu ideas as well. Last year we had a Fish Fry as the weather was really nice. Just have fun with it and build on it year by year.

Here is an example of the Facebook invitation I send out:

‘All Aboard! Our annual trip on the Polar Express Train is scheduled and plans are being made. We hope to see everyone there. Make sure you wear your PJs and get your tickets to board the train! We’ll have lots of food, hot chocolate, crafts, games, and of course a viewing of ‘The Polar Express’. I’m still trying to get through to the North Pole to see if maybe we can arrange a visit from Santa too!’

We always have lots of food and special treats which include chocolate covered marshmallows. Use sprinkles to decorate them and small stirring straws as handles. We also dipped pretzel sticks in chocolate and decorated those as well:

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We also have a ‘gingerbread’ decorating activity, among other activities, and each child gets to decorate a house or in this case a train. I used graham crackers and Homemade Buttercream Icing to make the trains. I make them a few hours before the party so the icing has time to set up a little before the kids try to add decorations.

I usually fill several small pastry bags with icing (no tips just a small angled cut at the end) and have an assortment of candies for them to decorate with.

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These were some of our party favors one year. Small pastry bags, red pom poms, hot cocoa mix, mini marshmallows, and brown pipe cleaners for the antlers. Use a black marker to make the faces. So cute!

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Paper conductor hats. The black conductor’s hat is worn by our ‘conductor’ when he comes through to punch the tickets for all of our ‘passengers’. I bought the hat at Dollar Tree one year. I used scissors, some sparkly ribbon, a couple of buttons, and a hot glue gun to transform it into a conductor type hat.

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Of course a visit from Santa will make any party extra special. I bought a Santa Outfit from Oriental Trading a few years back and it was well worth the investment. This unhappy child is the same one who has been begging to see Santa this year! (This picture is hard to see but we also had a couple of elves who joined us for the festivities as well. Those outfits were also bought from Oriental Trading.)

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You can also have a cookie exchange, a ‘Guess how many candies are in the jar?’, a gift exchange, or anything else your heart desires. These are just a few of the ideas that we have done. I was trying to locate some pictures from last year’s party but my phone died around Christmas last year so those pics may have been lost.

I try to have some small gifts as party favors. For the kids it might include train whistles, wind up trains, small games, coloring books, or a small stocking of treats. For the adults I usually have a variety of pocket calendars, small bottles of Bath & Body works products (that I find on sale), small games, or hand made items like jars of hot cocoa mix.

There are some more pics of some of the decor that we used from Oriental Trading on the Polar Express ‘Fish Fry’ 2015 . We went with a ‘Winter Wonderland theme’ and I plan on building on that theme through the years to come. It doesn’t have to be big or fancy. Just do what works for you.

After showing some of these pics to a friend last night I got so excited that I am thinking of doing a low key party for the kids this weekend. Just seeing the smiles on their faces is motivation enough for me to pull something together really quick. I’ll be sure to do another post on that. Now where can I find a Santa on such short notice?