Thursday, January 28, 2010

Snow Cream

We are watching the weather outside, patiently waiting for the sleet falling to turn to snow for a pretty good snow storm headed our way. We may get up to a foot of snow - major for Arkansas. Only a couple times in my life have we had that much snow here. Schools are already closed and I bought a sled yesterday. When it snows here, the one thing we have to have is snow cream. So I thought it would be a great time to post the recipe. (This picture is from a couple years ago). This exact time last year we were experiencing a catastrophic ice storm - and that is no exaggeration. Read my post below about that great experience!

1 large bowl snow
1 egg (we use pasteurized egg product for safety)
1 cup sugar
dash vanilla

Mix and eat. It's really yummy!

One year ago...

One year ago, we woke to this...
We experienced a major ice storm unlike I had ever seen before. Living in the south, ice storms are not unusual. In fact, I would say we tend to get ice more than snow. But this storm was nothing but freezing rain. No sleet, no snow, everything you see is frozen rain. It rained HARD for about 35 hours with lightning and thunder with the temps between 30-32, just enough to freeze. Even The Weather Channel was here in our small city.

Our corner of the state experienced a near total blackout. Only little pockets of our city remained with power. Some surrounding cities lost nearly their entire infrastructure. When we woke the next morning and began calling all our friends who we discovered were also in the dark, we found ourselves trying to figure out what to do. It became very clear from the radio that it was going to be days before we got power back. We packed and headed to my in-laws an hour away who had missed the storm. Luckily, the roads remained clear, the problem was literally up in the air. You can read my post from that day HERE.

At our house, we were without power for about 70 hours, just short of 3 days. It was very stressful not knowing what was going to happen. You can read more HERE. Both of our works were closed because they too were without power, so at least we didn't have to worry about going to work. Even the following week, my husbands work ran on generators for days until his city was restored. And it was the middle of Feb. before we were able to distribute magazines (I write/photograph for a local magazine) because the city where our magazine is printed was down for 2 weeks.
This picture was taken a couple weeks later when we finally got a little snow. Piles of debris lined our streets for weeks. As you can see, this pile is nearly as high as the roof lines and this is right in the middle of the city. The further out you went the higher the piles got.
Our city had to hire a company to come in and clean the debris up and it was a major operation. I had to go to the burn site for a story I was working on and shot some pics of the trucks coming in. I couldn't believe the amount of debris the storm created. That post: Ice Storm Cleanup
So, as I write this, we await another winter storm moving in tonight. This one promises snow, not ice in our part of the state, but it's pretty strange to be talking about another winter storm exactly a year after our last. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be posting pics of us playing with our new sled, not loading up the coolers with food from our fridge and taking refuge somewhere else!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Removing Gum

Today's One Tip Wednesday is totally based on experience - today! My 6 year old got a spot of gum on my couch about the size of a half dollar. Momma was not happy when I found it later because he didn't bother to tell me. I first tried just a wet rag which of course did nothing. So I thought - What removes gum? I've heard ice and I've heard peanut butter. I decided against the peanut butter because that to me just seemed to add to the problem - I mean, what would get the peanut butter out? So I layed a piece of ice on the couch and then scrubbed it with my fingernails. I repeated it over and over and it's gone! And my son is still alive!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Blogging Waggon

I feel off the Blogging Waggon this week. My youngest has had croop which required steroids, so I've had a coughing wild animal in my house this week. If you've never seen a 2-year-old boy on steroids, well, it is a sight like no other! The second and third days were the worse. He was literally another child. Today was not as bad and tomorrow is his last day on the meds. His cough is better, although it's still there, so I'm hopeful we do have to do another round. But he no longer sounds like a 50 year smoker.

But I learned something interesting about croop. The doctor pretty much had his diagnosed before he entered the room just by looking at his chart. We were one of his first patients after lunch and he had already seen 10 cases of croop that day - and that doesn't include the other 3 doctors in that clinic. He said when the fog rolls in, so does the croop. We had 10 days solid without going above freezing - I live in Arkansas - that doesn't happen here! Two weeks ago, the kids were out of school because it was too cold to go! No joke - it's Arkansas! Then once it broke, the temps went up and up over the next 3-4 days. By Saturday, it was in the 50s and the humidity was quickly coming back. Sunday he woke up with that barky cough. It was so warm we didn't even wear jackets to church. Monday morning there was a very thick fog in the morning and it was in the mid-60s. He said that when you have cold, dry air that quickly changes to warm, moist air, many kids get croop. I thought that was interesting. Oh, and there is snow in our forcast for next week. In Arkansas we have a saying, if you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes, it will change. It was so warm here today, my friend wore a sleeveless shirt to work. You never know around here!

But the good new is - I did still get a little scrapbooking done! I finally finished my pages for Christmas - 2008...yes 8, not 9! Hey, I'm getting there!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Crispy Herb Baked Chicken

This recipe is so easy and yummy! It makes me hungry just typing up the recipe. I'm always looking for new recipes to use for chicken breast, and this is one that we really like.

2/3 cup potato flakes
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp parsley flakes
3/4-1 tsp garlic salt
2-4 chicken breast, boneless, skinless
1/3 cup margarine or butter, melted

Grease or line with foil a 13x9 inch baking dish or place on stoneware (I prefer the later).

Combine potato flakes, Parmesan cheese, parsley flakes and garlic salt in shallow dish; stir until well blended. Dip chicken in margarine, roll in potato flake mixture to coat. Place in greased pan or on stoneware. Do NOT cover.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes until chicken is fork-tender and juices run clear.

For more great recipes, visit Foodie Friday and Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

One Tip Wednesday

Before I had kids, I was always on top of my scrapbooking. In fact, I would make up things to scrapbook just so I would have something to work on. When I was the mother of one, I always had plenty to scrapbook and would sometimes get a month or two behind. Now as a mother of two, I'm a full year behind doing both of their books. I make a book for each of my boys for each year of their life. I have two pages left to finish Tyler's first book and a page left to finish out Samuel's 4 year book.

To help me get started on their 1st and 5 year books, I spent an afternoon outlining all of the pages I would need to do for their books. I always do their books in date order through their birthday party. I created an Excell spread sheet with a column for Samuel and one for Tyler. I have the date of the pictures in the far left column. Then under each name, I put the name of that spread. Where you see blanks, that means that he doesn't have a spread for that particular set of pictures. As you can see, Samuel has far more in his book than Tyler, but I think that just has to do with their ages. Samuel is involved in more activities, but I'm also going to make more of an effort this year to get some extra pictures of Tyler.

Other than the obvious organziation of having the chart, it should be a big time saver for me. I will be able to work through both of the boys books together. So rather than doing Tyler's Christmas pages and then having to later drag all of the Christmas paper and embellishments back out later, I will do them both at the same time when I have all of those things already out. It will also help me not to miss anything as I finish up their books. As I finish those pages, I will gray out the column so I'll know I've done that page. Now - back to scrapbooking!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Angels & Monkeys

We had our first (and maybe only) snowfall of the season this past week. We were hoping for 2-4 inches, but only got about an inch. But here in the south, that's good enough for a snow day! Yes my friends to the north, that's enough to close the schools! Actually, the little bit of sleet that fell just before the snow was part of that too. The roads were pretty slick and we get such little winter weather here, most people just aren't experienced snow/ice drivers! Not only that, we were out the next day too because it was too cold to go to school! The temps were in the single digits in the morning with below 0 windchills. Again, I know that's crazy to you in the north, but honestly - it was cold! LOL All kidding aside, our buildings and heating systems here aren't made the same way of those in the north. Our school buses are also not made the same and many of the school districts said they would have had to run the buses 3-4 hours prior to starting routes to make sure they were warm enough for students. But to those laughing at us here in the south, come join me in early August when it's 98 with about 90% humidity and we'll see how long you'll last!

Although we didn't get enough snow to build a snowman, it was still good angel making snow. My 6 year old made this one.
And his friend from school made this one. When he layed down to make it, his momma said, "Make sure it doesn't have horns!" When he stood up, look what also appeared! We were cracking up about it.
And this is my little monkey playing in the snow.

See more great Ourdoor shots at Outdoor Wednesday!

My Double Life

Editorial by Shaila Creekmore, Illustration by Brittney Guest as printed in the January 2010 issue of Jonesboro Occasions Magazine.   

   I lead a double life. Maybe I’m not even who you think I am.
   To some, I’m the photographer from Occasions. That girl who catches you in the middle of a conversation or with a mouth full of food and asks, “Could I get a picture of you guys?”

   To others, I’m Samuel and Tyler’s mom: The mom in car line, helping at the school class party or on a play date at Chick-fil-A.

   Occasionally these two lives cross, but only on rare occurrence.

   Three days a week, I’m your typical stay at home mom. I drop off and pick-up Samuel from school, clean house and watch Sesame Street with Tyler. I often attend a Bible study with a group of other stay-at-home moms and then go with our brood of children to lunch. Twice a month I attend MOPS, Mothers of Preschoolers, enjoying time of fellowship, learning from each other and sympathizing with the struggles of being a mother. I put on jeans and a T-shirt or my mommy suit (those comfortable two-piece outfits that every stay at home mom has) and run errands, buy groceries or meet friends for a play date.

   The other two days, I’m your typical working mom. I rush around the house to get myself and the boys dressed and drop them off at school and make my way to the office. I answer e-mails, return phone calls, mark off items from my to-do list and run to meetings. I often meet friends or business associates for lunch, or use the hour to run quick errands without children in toe. I end the day by picking the boys up from school and quickly getting home to prepare dinner.

   On many nights, I quickly eat with the family and then rush to cover one of the countless social or philanthropic events around town. Although I am often invited to eat at events, you’ll rarely see me do so because our family rule is that we eat together as a family every night. Upon return to home, I give baths, brush teeth and tuck boys in bed. I also slip out of my mommy role most weekends for a couple of hours to cover large formal events or benefits for one of the many Jonesboro non-profits.

   I love my mommy days at home. It gives me time to watch my boys grow and share in their lives. But at least twice a week, I get to be something other than Samuel and Tyler’s mom. I am able to continue working in my degree field and building my portfolio, work on projects, meet and talk with interesting people and have adult conversations.

   I have the rare opportunity to be a mom in both worlds. Those two worlds, however, often hold a lot of animosity for each other. The first time I became aware of these negative feelings was before I became a mother. On an early episode of the Dr. Phil show, a studio full of moms verbally attacked each other. I watched in amazement as these women yelled and screamed at each other from across the studio. The working moms accused the stay-at-home moms of being lazy, having no initiative and being selfish for keeping their children at home instead of giving them the best early education possible. Stay-at-home moms called the working moms self-seeking and questioned why they even had children if they were going to let other people raise them.

   While I’ve not been around women in real life as opinionated as these women, there are little snide comments and disapproving looks that you occasionally see in conversations among women. But as a mom who lives in both worlds, I can easily say neither life is easy, both have their negatives and positives and moms on both sides are doing their best to provide the best life for their children in the best way they know how.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup

It is COLD here! I mean seriously cold for the south. We got nearly an inch of snow last night - pretty good for Arkansas and schools were out for a snow day. They also cancelled school for tomorrow due to "extreme cold temperatures and below freezing wind chills." Okay - northerners stop laughing! I'm serious - we are not bred in the south for such cold. But you can't stand with us when it's 96 with 90% humidity! LOL

So it seemed like a perfect night for chicken noodle soup! I don't really have exact measurements for this recipe. I just kind of throw everything in, but I'll give as close as I can.
3-4 cups, cooked chicken cut into bite size pieces
3 cups carrots, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 large container chicken broth
basil, dried or use whole dried bay leaves and remove before eating
parsley, dried
salt and pepper
extra wide egg noodles

Boil chicken (I used 3 chicken breast this time. It's a great recipe when you have left over chicken too). Remove chicken to cut up and add in carrots, celery and onion. Pour in chicken broth. Add chicken back in. Add about 4 cups water (more or less depending on the size of your pot). Season to taste with basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Bring back to a boil. Add in egg noodles. Add more water if you like and let cook until heated through and noodles and vegetables are tender.

Basically - it's a can't go wrong recipe. You can add more or less of anything and it still taste warm and yummy!

For more great recipes, visit Foodie Friday and Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

One Tip Wednesday

One Tip Wednesday is back! Life has finally slowed down and I will be once again posting some of the ways I organize my life and my home. And I would love to read about how you organize as well!

Last year, I posted about this pile of papers that was disrupting my life. Seriously! I couldn't keep track of anything coming or going out of the house. I missed paying a couple of bills and this stack kept growing and I had to do something! This was about a years worth of filing that had overtaken the mail slots built into my cabinet over my desk. So first I started by getting it all filed away into my filing cabinet or to the shredder.
Then I came up with a system for organzing all of the mail coming in and out of the house. You can read about how that works HERE.

So at the end of the year, I had three very full folders with everything from the year. I kept them in the very front of my filing cabinet so they were easy to access. But the real question is, how would it work for me at the end of the year? It worked great all through the year to help me keep track of things. I would even clip appointment cards for Dr visits and such on the front of that months folder to help me remember. Anything that I needed for that month, I just slid into the folder. But would I have to spend all afternoon filing anyway?
I pulled out the papers for each month and made piles across my table, light bill in one, phone bill, insurance statements, and so on. In my filing cabinet, I file oldest to newest, so I just started in January and started stacking them on top of each month. Anything that I didn't need to save, I put in the shred pile.

In about 30 minutes it was all sorted across my table.

And my folders were empty and ready to use again.

I then filed the papers into my file cabinet. In about an hour, I was finished. So for me, this system is a total success!

For many of you, you likely don't save each of your monthly bills, but my husband likes to keep 3 years of most of our bills. Our entergy bills for lights, water and gas we keep. I like to be able to go back and reference what we paid in the same months in different years and it will be helpful when we prepare to sell our home to be able to give an average of our entergy cost. Any medical or insurance cost, you usually should keep for 7 years if you have used it on your taxes. If you work from home of course, the tax rules are very different. My understanding is that anything you file on your taxes should be kept for 7 years.

If you have an organizational tip, old or new, that you would like to share - add your link below!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

All Things Loved in December

It's December - What's not to love!! Here are a few of our favorites from this past month.
1. Christmas Decorations - It takes forever to get it all done, but it's worth it in the end and the house is so pretty and sparkly all month!
2. Samuel's role as a Wise man in our church's Christmas Program.

3. Christmas Parties! 4. The boys were able to spend 4 1/2 days with my parents at the beginning of their Christmas break. They couldn't wait to go and had a great time. I had to work while they were gone, but it also gave me a chance to finish up shopping and wrapping and to get the house clean while they were gone so that I could focus on them when they got back.
5. More time with my boys - and a week and a half off work!
6. Presents and all the fun on Christmas morning!

7. Santa Came!
8. Samuel's first sleep over. We invited his best friend from school to sleep over during Christmas break. They had so much fun! I am so glad that he found such a good friend!
9. A day at Chuck E. Cheese. No pictures! I decided to focus on playing and not on pictures for this trip! It as a nice way to end the year!
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