Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Salted Caramel Brownies Recipe

I really love salted caramel. I also really love chocolate. So it was kind of a given that I needed to try and combine the two. Last week I saw this recipe for brownies on Money Saving Mom, and knew I had to try it. As I was pulling out the ingredients I thought to myself,"I should add some salted caramel to this and see how it turns out!" I was definitely not disappointed! And, neither was anyone else in my family, as they were gone within 24 hours. :)

Brownies(slightly modified from this recipe)

3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup butter divided
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups sugar(original recipe calls for two cups, but the caramel makes them a little too sweet with that amount)
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

In large bowl combine baking soda and cocoa. Stir the first 1/3 cup melted butter. Add boiling water and blend.

Stir in sugar, remaining butter, and eggs. Add vanilla, salt, and flour. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour in greased 8x8 pan and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

Salted Caramel( modified from this recipe)

4 T butter
3 T brown sugar
3 T white sugar
1 tsp salt
1- 2 T half & half
1 T Powdered Sugar

Heat butter, brown and white sugar, half & half, and salt until boiling. Remove from heat and stir for 30 more seconds. Add a tablespoon of Powdered sugar, and stir until it's thick. If you want the glaze a little thicker add another tablespoon  of powdered sugar.

Pour over brownies fresh out of the oven, and enjoy! :)

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Menu Plans, etc.

Practicing writing letters in shaving cream got a little out of control. :)

This week is looking pretty busy, with a trunk or treat on Wednesday and a parade on Thursday, so that always throws our menu plans off a little bit. I foresee many peanut butter & honey sandwiches in our future in order to make it to places on time. :) At any rate here is what I have planned for the next week food wise:

Breakfast- Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls, Baked oatmeal x2, Granola cereal x2(hopefully...), cinnamon toast, and eggs with blueberry muffins.

Lunch- Leftover Soup, Peanut butter & honey sandwiches, and salads

Dinner- Biscuits&gravy(husband's request;), leftovers, Tomato &Parmesan Soup, Candy Soup, Beef Stew, and pizza. Yes we like our soup, in case you couldn't tell. :)

Clean one room/day

Love my family

Start reading Women Living Well


What's on everyone else's menu this week? Anyone else taking their kids to trunk or treats/trick or treating, or some sort of fall celebration this week?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Brothers & Babies

Erik and I have brought home new babies almost every year since 2007. And ever since 2008, each new baby has been happily welcomed by an older brother or sister. I still remember how proud I felt when Jack told someone how much he loved Lily. Or that sweet moment when Lily and Anna both wanted to hold Max at the same time. Luke has basically been no exception to this rule. Jack, Anna, and Lily absolutely adore him. They are always playing with him and trying to make him laugh. They love to hold him, and feel so proud of themselves when they do something helpful for him.

But did you notice I only mentioned three of the older siblings were thrilled to have a baby in the house to play with?

Yes, Mr. Max, isn't exactly what you'd call an adoring older brother.

For a long time he basically ignored Luke.

And then when it became a little more difficult to deny Luke's presence in our family, Max started referring to him as the "baby."

And that was fine. Luke is a baby after all, and Max is only two, so perhaps he was having a hard time saying Luke's name(never mind the fact that he says everyone else's name just fine.)

But the other day Luke was laying on the floor, and Max comes up to me and says,"Move it, Mama."

Move it? Move what? So I asked him what he wanted me to move.

He walked over to where Luke was laying on the floor, looked at me with great seriousness and pointed to Luke, and says to me,"Move IT, Mama."

And that's probably where we need to draw the line. 

You know Max has the honor of being the baby the longest in this house(a whopping 20 months), maybe that was just a little bit too long of a time and it spoiled him. :)

Friday, October 25, 2013


So I have this little girl. She's sweet and cute and cuddly. She's a ball of energy, and full of spunk.

She can also be stubborn and mischievous. She does things at three that never crossed Jack or Anna's minds when they were her age.

I'm crazy about my girl, but there are times when I feel like she's going to drive me absolutely crazy.

She says some of the funniest things though, and she has an adorable little voice to boot. Here are some of the recent "Lilyisms."

About a month ago after Erik and I put the kids to bed, we went outside to enjoy the beautiful weather and sit by the fire pit. After we got back inside I noticed some cookies were gone from the kitchen. I had a hunch I knew who had taken them, and sure enough Lily was hiding underneath her blankets eating chocolate chip cookies.

Putting my hands on hips(yes this child has caused me to do just about every cliche mom thing there is:) I say, "Lily, did you take the cookies out of the kitchen?"

Lily (who has chocolate all over her face) says,"No, mommy."

Me-"Well how did the cookies get in your bed then?"

Lily(in complete seriousness) "It was windy."

Yes, apparently the wind now carries cookies directly to little girls beds. Obviously we dealt with the seriousness of lying with her, but it was hard to keep a straight face about it!


This Lilyism shows Lily's much sweeter side. We were at a doctor's appointment awhile back and we had been in the waiting room a long time. Another woman was sitting next to me, and was enjoying talking with the kids. 

Lily started talking to her, and asked the woman where her mommy was. The woman replied, "My mommy is in Heaven."

To which Lily says genuinely surprised,"That's where Jesus lives!" :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Learning to be Intentional

I write it every single week on my goals list.

Be more intentional in loving Erik and the children.

I don't think I'll  ever learn to do this perfectly, but even so, what does it even look like for me to love my family with intention? Is it giving them constant attention and never being able to get anything else done? Is it never having any time to myself?

Obviously I don't think that(and the introvert in me sighs a deep sigh of relief.) But I am aware of my tendency to get overwhelmed by all of the laundry, all of the dishes, all of the just meeting basic needs, that I'm not always very good at just being with my family. That's where my intentional goal comes in.

 My first priority in being intentional(and I already feel like I've used that word far too much for this one blog post. What other words could I try here..thoughtful? Considerate? Prioritize? Moving on..) is reflecting the gospel to my family. Pointing the children to Jesus and praying with them about the issues they are having. Praying for Erik and with him.

But what else?

Some things that I've found to be helpful is easing my work load around the house. I buy paper plates and plastic cups, that way I'm not cleaning up the kitchen and then immediately getting the kids ready for bed. I have a little more time in the evenings to spend with them. Getting rid of stuff is another thing I've found that's helpful. Limiting the kids clothing so that the laundry beast is kept somewhat under control. I've also found that limiting outside commitments, so we aren't constantly on the run, is very helpful. All of this is helping me live with more intention,er, focus(hey, another word!)

But even with that there's still only so much you can do. Dishes still need washed, and some outside commitments really are important enough to stick with. So, with that in mind, here are some practical ways I've been trying to be more intentional with my family.

1. Give them lots of encouragement.

2. Shower them with physical affection. I like what Ann Voskamp says about giving her children at least as many kisses as there are meals every day. And I don't think Erik would complain if I made that my goal for him either ;).

3. Laugh, play, get them involved in what I'm doing, and look them in the eyes. Even if it's just a 30 second game of This Little Piggy with Max, reading a story with Anna,  looking at a pretty flower Lily found in the back yard, or looking at something Jack has created out of legos  are all little ways that let your children know they are important to you.

4. Get off the i phone and the internet. Trust me I know how easy it is to get sucked into the internet. I'm certainly not immune to it's allure. For me personally, though , I really try not to be on my phone or the computer(unless I really have to like for bill paying or something) while the kids are up. And I try not to jump on it as soon as the kids go to bed at night so that I can spend some time actually talking with Erik. I'm definitely a work in progress in this area, and there's definitely grace, but this is just another simple way to live with intention.

Learning to be intentional with my family is probably one of the greatest gifts I can give them. It's not always an easy decision to make, but I know it will be worth it.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Weekend, Menu, Goals, & She Reads

Whew. After a crazy busy last few weekends, we finally had one that was relatively calm. It was very much appreciated! Saturday morning I got up a little early and met a friend at Panera for breakfast. It was a lot of fun being able to catch up, and I was so thankful that Erik took care of breakfast for the kids and the usual morning routine so I could have a little time away.

After I got home, Erik took Anna and Lily on some errands, and the boys and I tried to catch up on some things.  The rest of the day was spent doing housework, running errands, and trying to rest.

Sunday morning Erik had to leave early for praise band. The kids weren't up for more than ten minutes when one of my children came up to me and says,"Mommy there's a bead in my nose." And yes sure enough there was. Thankfully I was able to get it out with some tweezers, but there really never is a dull moment around here! :)


In other events, a friend of mine was telling me about an app you can use on your phone called She Reads. If you have the You Version app on your phone it'll be on there. I just started using it this week, but I've really been enjoying it. You basically read a portion of scripture and then you get a little devotion that goes with it. A lot of times it's hard for me to concentrate on a big portion of scripture, so I like that it breaks it up a little!



Figure out a better budget& stick with it(that's where the goal comes in!:)

Work on a better schedule for home schooling & house keeping routine


Be intentional with my family.


Breakfast-pancakes&eggs, Granola Cereal, Oatmeal, Blueberry muffins&eggs/bacon, and Apple Crumble with scrambled eggs

Lunch-Pb&Apple butter(we made this recipe last week) sandwiches, grilled cheese, leftovers

Dinner- Mexican Chicken & rice bowls, Beef Stew with Sweet Potato Biscuits(I'm curious how these turn out), Cauliflower pizza, Taco Soup, Meatballs with Acorn Squash & broccoli, chicken tacos in crock pot, and pumpkin pancakes& eggs.

Yes, in case you can't tell how much it shows up on our menu, we really like Mexican food. :)

How was everyone else's weekend? Any one have any new fall recipes they're trying this week?

Friday, October 11, 2013

My Neck of the Woods

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Kendra Thornton, wanting to know if I'd be willing to write a post about some of my favorite things to do where I live, and if I would share her post about her favorite things to do in her hometown of Chicago. I thought it sounded like a fun post to write, so here are some of my favorite things to do in my "neck of the woods." :)

Photo: Hanging out at the cardinal game:)

We live about 20 minutes outside of St. Louis, so going to see a Cardinals game would be a must. :)

In the area that I live, some of my absolute favorite things to do are walk the nature trails or the many bike trails around here. Our family also really loves visiting the SIUE gardens. It's absolutely beautiful, and they even have a pond full of turtles with a bridge overlooking that the kids get a huge kick out of.

This time of year there's also a ton of pumpkin patches and apple orchards that pop up that are great for taking kids to also.

Of course one of my favorite things to do is going out to eat(as much as I enjoy cooking, it's always nice to get a break, right?!) We have some really great local restaurants like the Oriental Spoon and Cleveland Heath.

One of the coolest things about St. Louis is that they have a lot of fun things you can do for free. The art museum, the zoo, and Grant's Farm are all basically free. And of course if you wanted to spend a little money there's always the magic house and the children's museum.

I really love living here, and it sounds like Kendra really loves Chicago, here are some of her favorite things to do up there!

Chicago is my city, and I say this with pride. Chicago is a smorgasbord of activity for tourists and residents alike. It’s big as well as diverse, and it attracts all types of people and businesses. Since Chicago is my home, I have some of my own special favorite places. Take it from me, you won’t want to miss these attractions.
1. Grant Park: Impressive for a Front Yard

Grant Park is sometimes referred to as “Chicago’s Front Yard,” and for good reason. Included within Grant Park are Millennium Park, the Buckingham Fountain, the

and the Museum Campus. The scenery here is absolutely beautiful. You can spend an entire day wandering around, and it is a fun way to introduce your kids to art. And even though it's called Chicago's Front Yard, don't worry; there's no old man demanding that kids stay off his lawn!

2. Lou Mitchell’s: Get Your Milk Duds Here!

A good, old-fashioned diner is the perfect place to grab a meal. Lou Mitchell’s is a historically rich diner with some seriously delicious food. Perhaps more importantly, it’s completely affordable. Eating out in the city can really cost you, but stopping by a diner is a good way to avoid that. To add to it's charm, Lou Mitchell's gives ladies and children Milk Duds to munch on. (Is it any surprise my kids love this place?) Why? Did you know Milk Duds were created in Chicago? The owner of Milk Duds was a friend of “Uncle Lou, and he chose Lou Mitchell’s as a place to eat on many occasions. The Milk Duds tradition honors Lou Mitchell’s unique history.

3. Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park: I Like My Art Outdoors

Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park will give you your fill of contemporary art
. Two miles of walkways are lined with inventive, original sculptures. You can simply stroll around, or you can stop and truly admire the culture. It’s on the east side of McCormick Boulevard, by the north channel of the Chicago River. Stop by on a beautiful day to exercise your body--and your mind!

4. Hotels: Unlike Some Cities, Chicago Does Sleep

Chicago’s skyline is breathtaking, and downtown Chicago has enough to offer something for everyone. The city is gorgeous and full of life, and the glowing city lights at night create a fairytale-like atmosphere. Even if you prefer country scenery, Chicago will delight you. When you’re in Chicago, staying at a hotel in the city really is the best way to go. Gogobot is a site that stays on top of deals offered by Chicago city hotels, in addition to giving you information about where the best hotels are in the city. Make sure you are able to enjoy Chicago and all it has to offer.

Have any of you ever visited St. Louis or Chicago? What were some of your favorite things to do?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Weekend, Goals, Menu, & Leggings

This weekend has been a whirlwind! On Friday Erik and I went to a Lumineers concert over in St Louis. It has been a long time since we've gone to a concert together(probably the last time was when we were dating), and it was a lot of fun.

Saturday morning, Erik went with some guys from church on a camping trip. Originally Jack was going to come with him, but a few days before the trip we decided he might still be a little too young for it. This turned out to be a good decision on our part, because it rained most of the trip. The kids and I headed to my parents house for the weekend. I'm not really a fan of staying the night alone in my house. I'll do it if I have to, but I was definitely happy to be able to spend some time with my family this weekend. And the kids always have a blast visiting Papa and Nana. :)

Monday evening we got back home. We were so glad to be back all together, but oh my goodness, we had a mountain of laundry waiting for us. Being gone for basically four days when you have a family of seven definitely equates to a ton of laundry.


So this past weekend I also attempted clothes shopping. And I have to say I'm a fan of the current style of wearing leggings with baggy shirts. At first I wasn't sure if it'd look right, but once I tried some stuff on I realized that this trend could certainly work in a woman who has had five kids in five years favor. I'm definitely a fan of not showing off my mommy tummy. :)



Last week got really busy, and I hardly accomplished anything I had planned. This week is looking pretty busy too, so I'm hoping to make more realistic goals.

1. Exercise 3 x this week
2. Continue to be more intentional loving my husband and children.
3. Take kids to library.


Chicken in the Crockpot with carrots & homemade bread, Chicken Enchilada casserole(using leftover chicken from night before), Roast lamb(I've never had lamb before, so this might be interesting) with sweet potatoes & broccoli, Tortellini Soup, Chicken Tacos in the crock pot(with salsa & cream cheese), pancakes & eggs, chicken in a biscuit with green beans & carrots.

What's on everyone else's menu this week? Anyone have an awesome recipe for lamb?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Boys and Their...Argyle Sweaters?

We're pretty laid back around here when it comes to the clothes the kids wear. As long as it's clean, and we're not going somewhere like Church, then anything basically goes.

I will admit though that sometimes I absolutely cringe when I see Anna walking around in polka dot pants and striped dresses, and roll my eyes over Lily wearing yet another Easter or Christmas dress around the house. 


Oh boy, however, it's really not anything compared to my dear sweet six year old and his strange love of "diamond shirts."-That's what Jack call them, anyways. :)

Yes, even in the summer he will insist on wearing the sweater vest without a shirt on under it, because he just really likes wearing it.

Recently a friend gave us a bunch of boys clothes, and despite there being a lot of Super hero shirts, and handsome button up shirts, he was over joyed to discover that there was yet another diamond shirt in the pile. :)

Oh well at least he enjoys dressing up! :)

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