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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful

Since I am sure everyone in knee deep making or anticipating eating their Thanksgiving faves, in lieu of Recipe Wednesday, I decided it would be a good time to acknowledge some of the things I am thankful for. I can't list them all, because there is not enough time or space to possibly list ALL of the blessings I have in my life. Instead, here are are few things that are immediate "Chart Toppers" along with just some day to day things I love that make my life great :)

Please don't judge me when I don't list ALLL the "serious" stuff like food, water, health, shelter, etc...yes, I get it. I thank God for those things everyday. All of those things are "givens" in my book. So here we go...

#1: Our Church: St. Dominic Church is an extremely special place to my entire family. It's amazing at what has happened, the emotions that I have felt in the pews of this church--my baptism, all of the kid's baptisms, seeing my oldest kid go to Kindergarten, our 10 year "wedding," heartache at two funerals, utter joy watching the kids perform at the Christmas program, reconciliation,...and just the sense of peace I feel (almost) every Sunday morning when I go through the doors of this place--no matter how cranky I was a half hour earlier wrestling the kids into their Sunday clothes. This church and the community has been transforming to my family and me. I am thankful for St. Dominic Church.



#2: My Family. This is one of those "givens" that top everyone's "thankful" list. However, I am taking it a step further to say that I am thankful for my ENTIRE family...including cousins, steps, in laws, aunts/uncles..and everyone in between. I have quite an extended family and although we are all flawed in our own ways, ~ the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts (or whatever it was Aristotle said). Simply put, when we are together, we're awesome and it works. I'm thankful for my family, near and far.



#3: Coffee. Yes, this is one of those "everyday" thankfuls. I wake up every morning around 5am. My days are spent either working at the kid's school or running around on a zillion and one errands, chasing Sarah, making sure laundry in done, teeth are brushed, lunches are packed, homework is done, tests are studied for, projects complete, forms filled out, Drs. appointments on time, PTA meetings attended, vacations planned, grocery lists made, dinner cooked, workouts complete. Yes. I am thankful for coffee. A lot of it.



#4: Jeans. I love all kinds of clothing items but if I had to chose, I'd live in jeans every. single. day. Couldn't live without them :)

 


#5: Pinterest: Hardly any recipe I try, activity I do or outfit I wear hasn't somehow originated back to Pinterest. LOL! It's a lifesaver. Pinterest has saved my butt many times--some random searches: "recipes to feed large groups" "best holiday cocktails", "easy Halloween crafts", "alphabet learning activities", "beige sweater outfits." The list goes on. I am thankful for Pinterest.

There is my non-complete list, but it will have to do for now because I just left CHURCH for the annual Thanksgiving prayer service, and we are heading to see my crazy FAMILY, we'll be driving for 9 hours so I'll need COFFEE, I'll be wearing JEANS on the drive and I'll be doing a PINTEREST search before I leave for "fun activities for crazy kids in the car."

Have a wonderful holiday, friends!!

XO ~ Casey



Saturday, November 22, 2014

Seven on Sunday: Week 25

It's Sunday! The day where I recap all the happenings of the week! Seven on Sunday will be late next week (maybe Seven on Monday) :) But I'm sure I'll have lots of fun Thanksgiving pics to post!! AND! My baby girl turns NINE this week. Sniff, sniff. Have a wonderful holiday!! Count your blessings. 

Day 1: Sunday--Said goodbye to my Uncle Ollie at a beautiful get-together at my aunt's house near Fresno. He passed away suddenly at the age of 75 last Monday. Scott and the kids stayed home because Brookey was sick, but I was so glad I got to spend time with my mom's side of the family that I don't see very often :(

My aunt Dayna, my mom Aunt Kim, my Grandma and me! I know, I totally ditched the "funeral black!" It wasn't a funeral, it was a memorial :) My uncle's pic was on the table--that pic was taken at our wedding! :)


Me and my Cuz (Lindsey) had to take the "Asian" pic--us and all of the food!! LOL! I miss this girl!! She was totally my "bratty little sister" growing up! :)


Day 2: Monday--It was back to business as usual on Monday--Target run, laundry and an oil change. Good times. Sarah at the oil change place, hamming it up as usual in her new skinny jeans! HA! :)

Day 2: Tuesday--This is how my day started on Tuesday. The girls were "sick" but somehow managed to pull it together. They were OK by the time school started. Just fighting off little "change of seasons" colds. :(

Day 3: Wednesday--Algebra in 4th grade. Really?? I don't remembering knowing what a "variable" was until at least 8th grade. Cray, cray.

Day 4: Thursday--Who doesn't need a car selfie before school??! All Brookey's idea!!!

Day 5: Friday--Brooke and Buddy took an art class after school (see the purple paint on his forehead and arm)? I picked him up as usual and he was quiet in the backseat for a minute. I turned around and this is what I saw. Love my crazy little boy!!

Day 7: Saturday--Our family picture session got postponed because of the rain, so we were FREE again on Saturday!!! I felt like I was starting to get the cold the girls had, so I made Pho and put my feet up with some hot water with lemon and my new Muk Luks. I swear I'm never taking them off :) I am loving, LOVING this rainy weather!!! ( I know! Weird, right??!)

XO ~ Casey

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Recipe Wednesday: Perfect Mashed Potatoes

 
Happy Wednesday! My favorite holiday of the year is just over a week away! I'm looking forward to "tying on the feedbag" as Scott's family would say! I really can't think of a better day of the year--spending time with family, eating, drinking, and reflecting on the abundance of blessings we have in our life...well, I actually think I do this pretty much EVERY DAY, but I like having a holiday totally dedicated to this :)

Big dinners like this are not complete without mashed potatoes in my opinion! I look forward to mashed potatoes and gravy the most, I think!! One problem--I CANNOT STAND peeling, cutting, boiling and mashing the potatoes on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. It's not hard or a lot of work, but when you have 50 other dishes going and people in your house, it's not the most fun thing :)

A few years back I discovered this recipe for mashed potatoes from Pioneer Woman that you can MAKE AHEAD OF TIME!! No way! I had no idea you could even do that!! I was skeptical thinking they might be gluey or dry but honestly, they are the best mashed potatoes I've ever had!

And just so there is no mistake--there is absolutely NO calorie counting on Thanksgiving Day!!



Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
**Makes a big 4 quart baking dish of potatoes, you can easily half the recipe

5lbs Yukon Gold or regular old Russet potatoes
1 stick of butter, softened
1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
3/4 to 1 cup of heavy cream or half and half
1 teaspoon of Lawry's seasoning salt
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Plenty of black pepper

1. Spray a 4 quart baking dish with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

2. Peel potatoes and cut into large chunks and dump them (carefully) into the boiling water. Boil until fork tender-- about 20 minutes or so.

3. Drain potatoes and return them to the pan. Mash them for a minute or so WITHOUT adding any other ingredients!! This is a key step!!! Mashing them by themselves allows the steam to escape so you are not left with gluey potatoes.

4. After a minute or so of mashing, add remaining ingredients and mash until they are creamy. Check seasonings-- add more salt or pepper if needed (try not to eat the whole pan). You can also add more cream here if you like creamier potatoes.

5. Spread potatoes in the baking dish and dot with butter. (At this point you can cover the pan with foil and refrigerate overnight).

6. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until heated through.

Voila! Perfectly creamy, rich, non-gluey potatoes...and you didn't even have to break a sweat on Thanksgiving Day!  You're welcome :)

Have a GREAT holiday!! I will leave you with my favorite quote of the season: "It's not happy people who are thankful, it's thankful people who are happy." :)

Happy Turkey Day ~

XO ~ Casey





Sunday, November 16, 2014

Seven on Sunday: Week 24

It's Sunday--the day where I recap the happenings of our week. The kids had a 4 day weekend for Verteran's Day, so it was actually fairly relaxing :)

Day 1: Sunday--On Sunday after church we were FREE, so we drove to Napa, just for fun! The fall colors were AMAZING!! The kids were getting so annoyed because we kept wanting to stop and take pictures of them and the fall foliage :)


Yeah, they were having NO PART helping me get the "perfect" Fall family photo. Epic fail!!! But this pretty much sums up my family--forget the "perfect" picture! HA! And for the record, Buddy IS wearing a plain white undershirt and it IS on backward.

Day 2: Monday--We had a relaxing day hanging out and sleeping in! That evening Brookey had soccer practice for the Coach's Invitational at a local park we had really never explored. There was a hill behind her practice field so Buddy, Sarah and I climbed to the top while we were waiting for Brooke. Wow--we discovered Lake Herman and and a beautiful sunset!!

Day 3: Tuesday--Another school-free day. The kids discovered Chick-Fil-A...omg, I think Buddy is hooked. He said it was the most delicious meal of his life. LOL!! I do like me a little Chick-Fil-A, I have to admit. I'm so happy we finally have one nearby :)

Day 4: Wednesday--My sweet baby--growing up too fast :)

Day 5: Thursday--Brookey played her first night soccer game for the Coach's Invitational! What a great   experience for her to play against the best girls in the league!! Her team rocked--they won, 3-0!

Day 6: Friday--So last Friday it was the Fish Fry with the elderly folk of the church. This Friday was Bingo. Don't judge :) LOL! It was a fundraiser for the school and so much fun!! Me and my girlies gettin our Bingo on! (we didn't win anything, BTW)

We  even went out afterwards! Umm...check out the Dad-i-Form....i swear they called each other to coordinate outfits. To make it worse, they had no idea why we kept laughing at them!!

Day 7: Saturday--The first Saturday in FOREVER we didn't have soccer or an activity of some sort. The kids celebrated by spending the ENTIRE day in their PJs!!!! This pic was taken at 6pm--still in their PJs!! Crazy people, I'm telling you!!!

See you guys back here next Sunday!!!

XO ~ Casey

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Friday Funday: Favorites!!

Momfessionals
FRIDAY!! Woo Hoo!!!! This weekend our calendar is CLEAR, for the first time in forever...yeah, I've watched the movie WAY too many times!!!

I was going to do an all-beauty faves, but I couldn't get it together so it's just gonna be more random fun stuff...because "random" is my middle name! Here we go....

#1: EBATES ~ Have you heard of EBATES??! Neither had I until a few weeks ago!  If you do any kind of online shopping (I practically did ALL of my Christmas shopping online), you NEED to sign up for this!!! It's FREE MONEY. It's super easy--just go to the EBATES SITE and sign up for an account. Whenever you want to buy something online, just go to the EBATES site FIRST, seach for the store you want (i.e. Nordstrom to buy the coziest fleece wrap ever...keep reading...!), click on the link to the store and start shopping! You just have to be sure you START your shopping at the EBATES site and don't go directly to the store site. Other than that, you just shop like you normally would.

Most stores offer 3-6% cash back. They will always email you special deals--for instance, yesterday Nordstrom was 10% cash back! Pretty much EVERY store is on eBates...from Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, Crate and Barrel and even small boutique retailers. Check it out. Even if you earn $10-15, that's more than you had before :) And it's NO TROUBLE....Super easy :)

EBATES


Ebates Coupons and Cash Back


#2: The Clarsonic ~ Scott got me this last Mother's Day (after some very not-so-subtle hints) and I've been in love ever since. Not one day has gone by when I have not used this. I take it overnight, camping, everywhere. I cannot imagine washing my face without it.  It gets my face SO CLEAN and does not leave a trace of makeup. You don't have to use any fancy cleanser with it, either. I just use either Cetaphil or a moisturizing soap--whatever you normally wash your face with.  It has almost 600 near-perfect reviews on Nordstorm.com!!

Clarsonic Mia "Pink"


#3: This dress ~  I love a good deal, people. And this might be one of my best finds EVER. I found it trolling through the clearance rack at Target. It was $7.58. I spend more on shampoo! I have been looking for a casual striped dress so I grabbed it. When I came home I was shocked at how many ways I could wear it! It going to be on heavy rotation this fall/winter!!

It's online (in black/white, too!!) for $24.99, and I'd even pay full price for it! But if you can find it for $7.58, it's a MAJOR MAJOR score!

Merona Women's Knit Shift Dress

6 ways I know I'll wear it...I'm sure there are many other ways, too!! When/IF it gets colder, I'll wear navy tights or leggings and tall boots. Right now, I'm loving it with booties.

#4: Wine ~ And speaking of a deal...what's better than a wine deal?? Wine--something I know a little and a lot about. Meaning, I can't talk "wine talk" very well, but I do know a good wine when I taste it!! A few weeks ago, I was at Safeway and one of the employees was stocking the wine shelf saying he couldn't keep this particular wine on the shelves, it kept selling out. Note--he was sitting  on the FLOOR stocking the BOTTOM shelf. Not typically where I look for wine. Just sayin'.

It was on sale for about $8, and he urged me to try it and put it in my cart. When I got home, I noticed it was a screw cap. GOOD LORD!!! But of course, I opened it that night and had to try it--if it didn't work out, I'd throw it in pasta sauce.

Well, let's just say it worked out because I immediately went back to the store the next day and bought 6 more bottles. Best $8 bottle of wine I have had (and let's just say I've had a lot). It's a perfect "everyday" wine--just bold enough to make it non-"cheap wine" and smooth enough to be perfectly drinkable.  I could try to describe it in fancy wine terms, but I think I'd risk sounding like an idiot. The company (Rosenblum Cellers) describes it as "Crazy good wine." Enough said :)

Stark Raving Red Blend



#5: This sweater-wrap thingy ~  This might be one of the coziest items I own!!! It's fleece lined and sooo comfy--the perfect, classy alternative to a sweatshirt. You can wear it around the house or dress it up--it's SO versatile! I have the beige/camel color ("mink") for Fall, but I will definitely be adding a stripe and a bright colored one..maybe colbalt :)

Bobeau Fleece Wrapped Cardigan


And stop the presses!! They now have it in plaid! Ahhhhhh....#plaidlove

Plaid Fleece Cardigan


And THIS ONE is less than $20 (but they don't have my size! argh!!)

Striped Fleece Cardigan (Super Sale!!)


Have a great weekend!!!

XO ~ Casey

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Recipe Wednesday: Soccer Party Potatoes

Last weekend, we had Brooke's soccer end of the year potluck at the park after her last game. Since it was an early morning game, the coach organized a breakfast and he cooked up bacon and eggs and had everyone bring something as a side. One mom brought THIS casserole and it was UH-MAZING! There weren't many of us, but the ENTIRE 13x9 inch pan was licked clean. It was so. darn. good.

Of course, I immediately got the recipe and plan to make it for any potluck anyone wants to invite me to!! It would be PERFECT for Easter dinner alongside ham, it was wonderful as a breakfast dish with bacon and eggs..I think it would really go with any type of meat-and-potatoes-type meal. This casserole, steak on the grill and a nice side salad--heaven. This would also be perfect if you are having some sort of Thanksgiving pot luck at work or with friends.

You can make it the night before and bake it right before you are ready to serve.  I promise you will enjoy this and so will all of your guests :)



Soccer Party Potatoes
2 lbs frozen hash browns (Ore-Ida Southern Style, but any diced hash browns are fine)
1 can cream of chicken soup (mushroom works, too)
12 oz. sour cream
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup scallions (whites and greens)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
2 cups crushed Corn Flakes cereal (Ritz crackers work too! Yum!)
1/2 stick butter (or less)
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 325.

2. Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

3. In a large bowl, mix first 6 ingredients together until combined. Season with salt and pepper and pour into baking dish.

4. Melt butter and pour over crushed Corn Flakes. Spread Corn Flake topping evenly over potato mixture.

5. Bake for 50-60 minutes until bubbly and the top is golden brown and crunchy.

Have a great Wednesday!!

XO ~ Casey

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Seven on Sunday: Week 23

Day 1: Sunday--Buddy's soccer season came to an end with a fun team pizza party. The season started off a little rocky for him, but ended up being GREAT! He turned into a goal-scoring machine! So proud of our 'lil Buddy!

Day 2: Monday--Brookey completed her book report after many hours of reading, drawing, crafting and summary writing. She read a book that took place at the White House during Christmas time, so she recreated the scene. She had lots of fun with this one!


Day 3: Tuesday--With my kids wearing a uniform Monday-Friday, it's not really until the weekends or a free dress day when I realize their pants are high waters or their really have nothing presentable to wear. Brookey put on her jeans last week and they were about 3 inches too short and she had nothing else to wear but shorts and tank tops. So with her "guidelines," I did a little shopping for her: "Graphic tees, colored jeans, plaid and a leopard scarf." I think I did pretty well! I only had to return one thing! Score! Here are a few of the items I got her, along with a paid of leopard flats and sparkly moccasins. She's set :)

Day 4: Wednesday--Apparently Sarah has my taste for stripes and leopard :) I swear I didn't tell her to do that face! LOL!

Day 5: Thursday--Fun Stella & Dot party with wine and jewels :) I copied Sarah's stripes and leopard :)


Day 6: Friday--Funniest, most worthless pic ever...but I had to get a shot of everyone at the Knights of Columbus Fish Fry at church! Hilarious! Notice the kids and their Coke :) This is how we spend Friday nights, people. Try not to die from the excitement.

Day 7: Saturday--Brooke's last regular-season soccer game (HARD fought game--they tied). It was a GREAT season for her. She really gave it her all and her coach had very nice things to say about her. It was a gorgeous 75 degree fall morning for the end of the season pot luck, too! As much as I complain about how much time soccer season requires, Saturday mornings with the family on the field will definitely be missed. Like a friend said, "There are a lot worse ways you could be spending your weekends." Very true. Although, my heart and blood pressure will be happy to get a break--some of the games were intense!!

Next stop will be the Coach's Invitational next Thursday!!!! We could not be prouder of this girl!



Obligatory family pic...Scott, Sarah and I all sported our Manchester United "Rooney" jerseys :)
Happy Sunday! See ya'll back here next week!!!

XO ~ Casey

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Recipe Wednesday: Easiest Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Let me be perfectly clear about one thing: I LOATHE baking. I just simply DO NOT like it, Sam I Am! I've tried it in a car, on a plane, in a boat, I've tried it here, I've tried it there....whoops, can you tell I have little ones and I'm a teacher?! :) There is just something about the exact-ness, the measuring, the flour-everywhere thing that makes me shy away from baking. This precise art is better left to my better half, Scott :)

That being said, I CAN throw together a pretty mean semi-homemade Bundt Cake and I'm a hero whenever I decide I'm brave enough to make my Oatmeal Cookies from scratch. This recipe for  Banana Bread was originally given to me by my friend's mom, I just modified it a little. I knew I would survive baking this because although it's not from a premade mix, you can just throw everything in a bowl and stir!! No mixers, no rolling gooey dough into balls, none of that! Just dump, mix and bake :)

The result is piece of awesomeness that never lasts longer than 24 hours in my house. My kids eat it for breakfast, for dessert and request a slice for lunch. You can also pour the mix into a cupcake tin and make muffins as well (just cut down on the baking time, obviously). It's great with nuts, too, if you're a nut kind of person :)


Easiest Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
3-4 very ripe bananas, the riper the better!
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of white sugar
2 eggs
1/4 to 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons of milk
1 cup of chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325; spray a standard loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. Mash bananas in the bottom of a large bowl.

3. Add the next 7 ingredients and stir together with a wooden spoon until well combined.

4. Fold in chocolate chips.

5. Pour batter into the loaf pan and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes with foil on, then remove foil and continue cooking another 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

6. Let cool, slice and serve!!

**Just a note, this recipe is VERY forgiving. So if you accidentally put in FOUR tablespoons of milk or a little more brown sugar, it will all turn out fine :) My kind of baking :)

XO ~ Casey


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