Blooming Too

gardening - blooms revisited

As promised earlier this year, here is the rest of my blooming garden.

A couple of years ago, Igardening-orange trumpet vine2 found several trumpet vine plants for half-price. So I bought eight plants total because I wanted them to take over my fence. I know what some of you are thinking about this aggressive growing vine, but I love the smell and the continuous summer blooms this vine gives out. I was willing to risk growing this beauty even if it took out my fence. At least I would have beautiful orange flowers. Ha! It is super hardy. It even stays alive when you forget to water it. (Don’t try this at home kids!)

 

gardening-honey suckleCWWhen I thought I was growing trumpet vine, I discovered I had bought a mismarked plant when buying the trumpet vine. Low and behold, it was honey suckle. It’s been really hot this summer and until recently, we’ve had little to no rain. So even with watering, it hasn’t bloomed nearly as well as it did last year and has threatened me several times to go belly-up. It’s a very beautiful vine and smells so good. It also attracts butterflies and bees. Each fall, I pile the base with mulch to keep moisture in and protect it from freezing.

 

gardening-beared iris peachCW

 

This pretty peachy-orange blooming bearded iris popped up after my beautiful purple iris’ bloomed. It showed up out of the blue which is always a surprise. My iris’ are my one of my favorite plants and are living up to their reputation as being a perennial.

 

 

 

gardening-climbing rose bush bloom2

One year, I bought six knock-out rose bushes at the worst time of the year, the middle of winter. However, they have surprised me. They have all lived in spite of our crazy weather of extreme heat and freezing cold weather. They have petite blooms just like this one. They require a lot of water compared to the rest of my landscape so I piled straw around them to hold in the moisture and watering them at their base keeps the leaves from turning yellow. This made a huge difference especially since we’ve had very little rain this summer. Pruning rose bushes also encourages new growth so make sure to dead-head the old blooms to ensure a full summer of beautiful blooms.

 

 

 

Now for my fingardening-pecan treeCWal surprise! I planted a pecan seed over a year ago and I have nurtured this little plant with everything in me. I have since learned that pecan seeds and plants are very fragile. I tried to replant it into a larger pot with the intention of not having to repot it for a few years. However, the seed fell apart and the plant didn’t make it. I’m blessed that my mom has pecan seeds sprouting all over her yard and flower beds. She saved me a seed plant and it is growing like crazy. I’m not about to replant my new plant until it is more mature.

 

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My First Quilt

first quilt6CR

When my husband’s grandmother passed away a few years ago, we inherited a hand full of unfinished quilt squares. They sat in our closet for years. So last year, I had a wild hair and wanted to complete it for my mother-in-law. The quilt squares were from her mother so I felt like she deserved something to remember her by.

 

first quilt2CR

Here is the design and order of the squares with coordinating fabrics for the back of the squares. Each square was hand sewn and not a perfect square. Considering this was my first quilt, I decided that using the quilt-by-the-square method would be the easiest. I have since then used the traditional method of quilting and I really like the quilt-by-the-square method the best.

 

 

first quilt5CR

I quilted each square then connected them with little pieces of sashing. Then I connected each row with a piece of sashing with quilted solid rows. It was a lengthy process and the quilt was the size of a king bed spread. It was a large project for my first quilt but after the binding was completed, I felt like I could finish any size quilt I decided to tackle. Follow my quilting board on Pinterest!

 

 

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Bennett’s Quilt

bennett quilt5CR

Recently my little sister turned the big “13.” I’m so proud of her and what she has accomplished and who she is becoming. So in celebration of her fun and vibrant personality, I wanted to make her something that she could keep forever – a quilt. I had looked at these matching prints for sometime now trying to figure out how to use them together. They each speak boldly for themselves so I knew I didn’t want to go too crazy in figuring out a quilting pattern. I call it my modern quilt. “Let the pattern speak for itself!”

Each light matching piece of fabric had an opposite matching pattern in dark. So I decided to alternate dark and light patterns on the front and a fun and loud dark pattern for the back. The sashing is a loud light pattern. All of the patterns are bold with a little sparkle!

Front                                                                                                            Back/Sashing

bennett quilt1CR bennett quilt2CR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bacon Jalapeno Popper Quiche

bacon jalapeno popper quiche2

How many of you love bacon wrapped jalapeno wrapped poppers stuffed with cream cheese? Me! Me! Me! Well guess what I found the other day? I found this delicious recipe from Real House Moms. It has everything you would find in a popper but in quiche form. I took it to a party a couple of weeks ago and it was incredible. There wasn’t a crumb left to take home. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients
  • 9 inch frozen pie crust
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 jalapenos, diced (deseed for less heat)
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced into rounds (for top)
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked crisp and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • optional-light sour cream
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Thaw the frozen crust for 10 minutes, then prick the crust all over the bottom and sides with a fork to make tiny holes
  3. Bake it for 10 minutes
  4. Remove the crust and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees
  5. While the crust is hot, spread the cream cheese all over the bottom as evenly as possible
  6. Sprinkle the diced jalapenos over the cream cheese (the rounds are for garnish later on)
  7. Put the cream and half-and-half into a small pot and put it over medium heat about 5 minutes or until tiny bubbles appear around the edges. Scald (where you bring it to just under the boiling point) until very hot, but not boiling
  8. Beat the eggs together in a bowl
  9. Add the hot cream mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly to combine
  10. Add the paprika, salt and bacon
  11. Pour into the crust and bake for 30 minutes
  12. Remove from oven, arrange the jalapeno slices on top, sprinkle with cheese and bake until the cheese has melted and turned golden brown, about 15-20 minutes (the original recipe said 12-15 minutes, but I did closer to 20. Check at 12 minutes, every couple of minutes)
  13. Cool slightly before serving
  14. Optional-serve with light sour cream

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Back-to-School Menu

Back-to-School Menu Planning

Back-to-School Menu Planning

With school starting in a week and both my husband and I working full-time and I’ll be attending online college classes part-time, we are trying to simplify our evening routine. One area we can all agree with is that dinner planning needs a change. Most of the summer, we’ve eaten whatever we have in the house or we’ve gone out to eat. So we sat down and thought of our favorite recipes along with adding a few other recipes we might enjoy. Every week, we will sit down and choose from this list of yummy food then make a grocery list based on the recipes we’ve chosen.

Most of the recipes below are gluten and dairy free. However, some will need a little adjustment to make them into recipes my family can eat.

Ravioli Casserole

Maple Dijon Chicken Thighs

Tator Tot Casserole – Duggar Style

Meatballs with Mashed Potatoes

Chicken Fried Rice

Chicken Casserole

Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken

Lemon and Garlic Chicken

Baked Chicken with vegetables and potatoes

Stuffed Bell Pepper with left over Hamburger Casserole

Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork with wild rice

Quesadillas

Beef n Bean Burritos

Meat Loaf with peas

Beans and Cornbread

Pollo Asado with Mexican Rice

Out to Eat

Pizza

Chicken Nuggets

Hamburger Casserole

Hamburger’s with chips

Breakfast

Mac n Cheese with noodles and packaged cheese sauce with hotdog

Noodles with parmesan cheese and vegetables

Lasagna with leftover spaghetti sauce garlic bread

Spaghetti with garlic bread

Taco Mac n Cheese

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Food Allergies

Allergies2

We have many food allergies in our family. It has taken us many years to figure out what they are and what we can do about them. Any one who has been diagnosed with any type of allergy knows good and well that it is a constant battle to stay clear of the allergens that trigger a nasty allergic response. After my kids were diagnosed, our first thoughts were of defeat.

My mind was flooded with questions like:

  1. What are food allergies
  2. What are the signs and symptoms of food allergies?
  3. How to test for food allergies?
  4. How to cope with food allergies?
  5. How do I cook and feed my family with food allergies?
  6. How do I send my kids places with their food allergies?

 

Let me preface this by saying that these are my discoveries and opinions. I am not a medical professional. I am a concerned mother who has and is still finding ways to improve her family’s well being.

 

Our story…

When Junior started solids at six months old, I noticed she was unable to poop as well as normal. (Just being real here.) She had been breastfed up to this point and we never saw any obvious signs of food allergies. When she was weaned at thirteen months, the pediatrician really pushed us to give her cow’s milk. Being a first time mom, I had no idea what I was doing and followed doctor’s orders. After a year of constant constipation and complaints of her stomach aching, I decided to experiment with different types of milk – almond, soy, dairy without hormones, rice, etc. Junior loved her milk so we went dairy without hormones. It fixed the constipation but not the stomach aches. As any mom knows, you have to decide what is habitual complaining and what to really be concerned about. This was where I was at because I was tired of hearing the complaining.

At this point, Junior is four years old. I decided to experiment with a gluten free diet just to see what would happen. Within the six weeks of experimentation, she stopped complaining of stomachaches. But it was summer time and with a slower change of pace, I thought she had broken the habit of complaining. In the fall, she started mother’s day out, and for convenience sake, we started eating gluten again. Then the complaining started again and having days on end with asthma attacks, I seriously was at a loss. I was due with Booger any day and I really did not have the patience for the complaining or illness any more. (I promise that I’m not a cold mother. LOL!)

Now enters Booger into our lives. She also was breastfed. I noticed on multiple occasions that if I ate dairy, she would projectile vomit, break out in a rash, run a low-grade fever, have multiple frothy, green, poopy diapers, and end up with bleeding blisters on her bum. I was alarmed because I knew this type of reaction was not normal. So I asked the pediatrician. They showed no concern and said that if I didn’t see any blood in her poop then there’s nothing wrong and to keep trying dairy. Long story short, we no longer see that pediatrician. So I started researching symptoms of dairy allergy and new pediatricians. Low and behold, Booger was exhibiting most of the symptoms, barring anaphylaxis and bloody poop. So at this point, I figured out that it wasn’t the lactose she was reacting to but the protein in the milk. Here is an article to help you understand what I’m talking about. I wasn’t about to give up on nursing so I went dairy, soy, chocolate, and tomato free until she was weaned at eleven months.

Fast forward three years, Junior is still complaining of stomachaches and as long as Booger doesn’t ingest dairy, she has no episodes. But Booger now starts complaining of her stomach hurting also. Around this same time, Junior became ill for four weeks. With having found a new pediatrician, he suggested a battery of tests, but everything came back normal. We logged everything she ate including gum. After trial and error, we figured out that something she was eating triggered severe headaches, severe lethargy, severe stomachaches, low-grade fever, and severe nausea. We did the elimination diet to finally rule out certain types of food. Low and behold my suspicions of a gluten allergy reared its ugly head. After this episode, I was determined to find answers. I thought to myself “enough is enough!” He had recommended allergy testing multiple times, but I just couldn’t bring myself to subject my kids to the testing.

Many people are probably wondering why I waited so long to do allergy testing. Here’s why. First, our old pediatrician stripped away the confidence of my mothering intuition to figure out the root of the problem. She left me feeling like I was crazy for thinking something was wrong with my kids even though something was not right. Second, I wanted a pediatrician who would help me figure out what was wrong with my kids and give me direction on how to fix it. Third, before our new pediatrician had an allergy diagnostic and treatment clinic, our only option for testing was two hours away in a different town and our insurance wouldn’t cover testing.

After our pediatrician included an allergy specialist in his practice, I signed Junior and Booger up for allergy testing. The tests confirmed two things for me. One, I’m not crazy and to trust my intuition. Two, both my girls have several seasonal and food allergies. As a result, we are now gluten and dairy free.

 

Now that you’ve read our story, let’s explore the questions above.

 

1.What are food allergies?

Food allergies can range from something slightly agitating and unnoticeable to more severe and life threatening. According to this article, some of the most common food allergies are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. In our house we deal mainly with dairy and gluten allergies.

 

2.What are the signs and symptoms of food allergies?

At the beginning of our journey, the signs were not obvious. As any parent knows, a random stomachache is not uncommon. However, a few years after starting solids, Junior started having constant stomachaches and constipation. It became obvious to me that her allergies had become worse. She showed signs like lethargy, nausea, low-grade fever, and constantly had allergic shiners under her eyes. Allergic shiners are purple and grey looking bags under your eyes. This is your body’s way of trying to tell you that you are allergic to something. Check out this article to help you understand.

Booger has always thrown up after consuming dairy and would develop extreme eczema. These are obvious signs that something is wrong. To back my theory up, please visit this website. She also had frothy, green, and mucus filled poopy diapers and was extremely snotty in her eyes and nose. When she started solids, she complained of her stomach hurting. So having dealt with a gluten allergy with Junior, I decided to take her off gluten and it made a huge difference.

 

3.How to test for food allergies?

To help answer this question, my suggestion is to find a trustworthy pediatrician who either has a certified allergist or can refer you to a specialist. Our pediatrician felt skin testing would be more reliable than blood testing and less traumatic. Plus with blood testing, if you have not consumed the food within a window of time, the blood reflects no allergy to that product. So logic said to me that blood testing would require my kids to consume a suspected allergen just to get a positive blood test and potentially make them ill. We opted for the skin testing because the results were immediate and my kids did not have to go through the trauma of having blood drawn. They also did not get ill because they did not have to consume food that would cause an allergic reaction. To learn more about the different types of allergy testing try exploring this website.

 

4.How to cope with food allergies?

When I first started researching how to deal with food allergies, I felt so overwhelmed and inadequate. I did not know where to start. So I turned to the internet and typed in “how to deal with food allergies.” Some things popped up but it wasn’t very satisfying. In further searching, Pinterest proved to be a wealth of information. Join the boards and learn more about food allergies.

Even with a wealth of information online and from friends and family, coping with food allergies is a daily and constant struggle. For example: when we go to parties or someone’s house, most often the food is not gluten free. So with a little preparation, I bring a comparable gluten free food for the kids. Some would say that it was not worth it. But when you have struggled for years of not knowing what is wrong with your children then all of the sudden a simple solution like a diet change fixes the problem, you then know it is all worth it so my kids are healthy and happy.

 

5.How do I cook and feed my family?

The longer we are gluten and dairy free, the more items I see added the shelves at the grocery stores. Most of the stuff I cook, we ate before but with gluten. Now I customize each recipe to be gluten and dairy free. Trail and error are the best and easiest ways to learn. For example: We love Velveeta shells and cheese, but the gluten free boxes of shells and cheese are nasty tasting to us. I found Velveeta sells the cheese sauce separately from noodles. So I buy Tinkyada gluten free shell noodles and add the Velveeta sauce. It tastes just like the regular Velveeta shells and cheese. Yummy! Check out my GF/DF board on Pinterest for more ideas.

Gluten Free Shells and Cheese

2 cups of Tinkyada gluten free shell noodles

1 package of Velveeta original cheese sauce

*cook noodles according to package; drain

*mix together noodles and cheese sauce

*serve hot with hotdogs or chicken and peas

Side note: I’m not sure why but neither of my kids react to the ingredients in Velveeta cheese so that’s why we can eat it. Again trial and error are the best teacher.

 

6.How do I send my kids to places with food allergies?

Most people are very respectful and understanding of our food allergies. I’m blessed to work at my children’s school and to have great co-workers. I cannot thank my kid’s teachers enough for working with me to make sure my kids are well cared for. Thank you! Thank you!

Communication! Communication! I’m very up front with my kid’s teachers and office staff about my kid’s allergies. If possible, I try to make it very easy on them. If one of my kids has a special event and food will be involved, I try to make some thing similar in gluten free form and send it with them the next day. I never want to make a teacher feel it is their responsibility to make sure they provide gluten free items. If they want to provide these as an option, I consider it a blessing.

If my kids go places without us, we either send gluten and dairy free food with them or whomever they stay with are accommodating and will purchase what they can eat. Again, we are very blessed to have friends and family that understand food allergies.

 

 

As the kids are getting older, they are learning what they can and cannot eat. It will get easier, but for now, this momma will be a protective bulldog for her babies. The complaint of a stomachache becomes less and less. I’ve also noticed their immune systems fight off infections quicker and they do not “catch” every little virus floating around. Our household is definitely healthier than it’s been in a long time.

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Laundry Room Renovation

Laundry Room Renovation

A few months ago, my husband and I were looking at a house for sale. The house was listed for too much money for the lengthy list of renovations it needed including a major foundation overhaul. We decided to forgo the thought of selling our house and made a list of wants to update our house. We started with my closet. Let me explain this closet. We have lived in our “temporary” home for 14 years, and it is a small house. With four people living in a two bedroom house, every room, including closets, have to be multi-purposed. Even though my closet is separate from my husband’s closet, it is my main clothes closet, utility closet, laundry closet, and coat closet. To say the least, this is the definition of a multi-functional closet to the nth degree.

Before layout2CW

We decided to start here because it was a mess. You can tell by the before pictures that the walls were sponge painted green. Don’t judge. I had a wild hair many years ago and painted it this horrible color. What was I thinking!?!? Then a few years ago my laundry soap fell off the shelf and stained the carpet blue. Needless to say, this is by far the worst room in the house. That was all about to change. I had a vision. Thanks to Pinterest’s many ideas for closet renovations. I’ve fallen in love with the grey and white color scheme. To me, it says, “fresh and clean” and I was running with it.

My husband has a lot of connections in the contractor’s world, which plays well in our favor. He asked his flooring contact the cost on installing a scrap piece of carpet in the closet. The beautiful thing is that the flooring guy did not charge us the scarp piece of carpet and only charged us for the install. With the carpet install scheduled a week out, we stripped the closet of everything. First step was to cut out some old pipe. Then we patched and replaced pieces of the drywall, filled in holes, and floated the drywall with mud. After the mud was dry, we painted the walls a Sherwin Williams color called useful gray, and the ceiling and trim were painted white. It was starting to look ten times better and we were excited about seeing progress. After the carpet was installed and the washer and dryer were reinstalled, we repurposed a shelf to fit above the washer. We also decided to cull through our coats and place them in our respective closets therefore eliminating the need for a coat closet.

After layout2CW

Even though the whole process took us a couple of days, the pay off has inspired us to continue our vision with the rest of the house. I now go into my closet and stand there in awe. I love my new organized and clean closet!

Here was the budget break down for the closet: Grand total: $210

-carpet install: $125 (contractor’s price)

-bifold doors: $50

-shelf hardware: $10

-grey paint: $25 (contractor’s price)

-white paint: $0 (previously owned)

Vacation Packing Tips: Step 2 of 3

vacation packing tips step 2of3 cover pic

Just in case you missed it, here is Vacation Packing Tips: Step 1.

Let’s review what we have so far. In Step 1, we covered the step-by-step process of a vacation packing list working for you. Today, in Step 2, we are going to start putting action to the packing list.

Step 2:

First-things-first. Do all the laundry. This guarantees clean clothes to choose from for packing.

Now that the laundry is folded, grab your Packing Lists.

You will need the following:

  1. One piece of luggage per person. Make sure the luggage is big enough to include all shoes    (page 1 of the packing list).
  2. One large bag for toiletries (page 2 of the packing list).
  3. Cooler for perishable groceries (page 3 of the packing list).
  4. Bags or collapsible crates like these for non-perishable groceries (page 3 of the packing list).
  5. Bags for additional items on the “Other” list (page 4 of the packing list).
  6. Bags for pets (page 4 of the packing list).

Now decide what piece of luggage each person is taking. In our house, we all have our own piece of luggage. Sometimes, I share with Booger but it all depends on where we are headed and how many outfits we need to take. I will show you how to pack as if you are traveling by car.

If traveling by air, check out the TSA website for specific guidelines on what you can and can not travel with on an airplane.

Let’s put everything together!

 

Page 1 of the Packing List:

  • Open each one piece of luggage for each person.
  • Kid’s luggage: Since you’ve followed the directions on how to pack kids clothes for vacation, we will start with packing them first. This will be the easiest. Place filled gallon bags and shoes in luggage and zip shut. How easy is that!
  • Adult luggage: If you followed the how to pack adult clothes for vacation, you have simplified this process as well. Lay shoes flat in the bottom of the luggage. Now place rolled clothes on top. Don’t forget to add the under-garments too. Zip the bag and you are finished! Again how easy is that!

 

Page 2 of the Packing List:

You will need a large bag for toiletries. We bag all of our toiletries individually in zip-lock-type bags because of the potential for exploding bottles. From experience, having to clean up an entire bottle of shampoo or lotion when you get to your destination is not a fun way to start the trip. So grab a box of quart size bags and a box of gallon size bags. Start going down your packing list and add to the bag. Add all the bagged toiletries to the large toiletry bag and you are finished. If you need to wait to pack a few last minute toiletries until the day you leave, make sure to add it to the “Day Of…” list so you don’t forget them.

 

Page 3 of the Packing List:

We are going to need coolers and bags or collapsible crates. We will wait to pack the perishable items until the day of departure. So grab the crates. Place the heaviest items in first then place lighter items on top. Because you made a list ahead of time, you cut your packing time down to a few minutes. Make sure to add recipe cards and menu to the crate as well.

On the day of departure, you will pack the coolers. Before you throw it all in there, place all packages of food in gallon bags like fruits, cheese, packaged meats, etc. This prevents any water or ice from ruining your food. After everything is bagged, place bagged ice or ice packs on bottom. Then on top of that place largest and heaviest items on the ice. On top of heavy items, place the more light weight items. Add this to your “Day Of…” list so you don’t forget them.

 

Page 4 of the Packing List:

You will need two bags. One for Other and one for Pets.

  • Other bag: Some of the items on this list will not be bagged for obvious reasons like lawn chairs, coolers, a flat of bottled water, pet kennels, etc. So bag what you can and gather everything else into one place.
  • Pet bag: We have a large dog and a small dog. Both dogs are kenneled. We break down the large dog’s kennel and he rides in the seat of the car like a person. It’s quite comical! He is like having a third kid in the backseat. The small dog rides in her kennel because she is nervous by nature. The pet bag we use is the large dog’s food container. I add in the little dog’s food, bowls, medicines, etc.

 

Now that you are almost completely packed, you are ready to tackle the Day of Departure!

Here is Vacation Packing Tips: Step 1 in case you missed it!

Vacation Packing Tips: Step 3