Just a little news

So I have the ULTIMATE project going on - Baby #4 in the oven - just in time for Valentine's Day! And you all know how much I love V-Day - perfect timing! {gasp!}

So not only will winter be long, hard, miserable, and cold, I'm going to have an extra 50 pounds on my bladder and have the appearance of a wounded, beached walrus! Sweet - bring it on. Now I have an awesome excuse to make all kinds of cute baby things all for myself!! haha.

{FYI - I got this picture from this Etsy site - totally perfect}


Cooking 101 - Country Chicken Noodle Soup

For heaven's sake - it's dreary, rainy, and dark outside and ALL THREE of my kiddies are sick, sick, sick. Come on, here! It's the middle of June for crying out loud! Naturally, it was definitely a day to make some serious comfort food - homemade chicken noodle soup. {I happened to have cooked a chicken a few days ago with high hopes to make some amazing chicken salad so I already had broth AND cooked chicken on hand --- I know, GENIUS.}

And remember that heavenly stuff from Bob Evans that I crave when I get the sickies? This soup is just as good, if not better - and you can make it as thick or as soupy as you want.


4 c. broth (or water with 4 t. chicken base or 4 bullion cubes)
1 c. sliced carrots
1 c. sliced celery
1 onion, finely chopped
cooked, chopped chicken - about 2+ cups
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can evaporated milk

1 2/3 c. flour
2 eggs
dash of salt

(If you were to cook your chicken the day before or a few days before, saving the meat and broth, this process goes much quicker.)

Bring the broth to a boil, add onion, celery, and carrots; boil on low for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, make noodles.

Homemade Noodles:
In a bowl, add flour, eggs, 2 1/2 egg shells of water, and a dash of salt. With a fork, mix everything together without over mixing. Knead on floured surface until dough is smooth, careful not to over mix, which makes the noodles hard and rubbery.

Working in small pieces, roll out dough very thin, slice with a knife, and either lay them on a cookie rack or wait until you're ready to add them to the soup. They're kind of hard to manage, but they don't need to be perfect - just throw 'em in the pot!

Add cream of chicken soup, canned milk, chicken, and noodles. Cook for another 20 minutes until noodles are cooked and everything is heated through. If it's too thick for you, add more broth.

Enjoy with a hot, buttermilk biscuit!


Cooking 101 - Chocolate Fudge

Friday was the last day of school - HORRAY! - and as much as I love, love, love my kids' teachers, I just didn't feel like spending a bunch of money this go-around. So instead of my usual Barnes & Noble Gift Card, {which, btw I think is fabulous and I could spend an entire day there...} they had to settle for a huge brick of my mom's creamy, dreamy, homemade fudge. Hey - it was a compromise, okay.

And I'm TELLING YOU - I've been to a bunch of cute little towns and I buy the fudge from the cute little fudge shops, but it is my humble, honest opinion that this recipe is better than all of those. I won't even patronize fudge shops anymore because I always walk away disappointed. {The only fudge shop that has ever blown my mind was "The Fudge Factory" in Nauvoo, IL where their fudge could paralyze me!}

Anyway - this makes a great gift because I think most people {unless they're complete idiots and therefore should never receive a gift of this magnitude} understand and appreciate how much love and work goes into homemade fudge! When it's packaged all cute, it is all the more irresistable!


(this recipe doubled makes a perfect sized batch for those big jelly roll/cookie sheet pans)

1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
2 sticks butter
4 c. sugar
1/8 t. salt (plus maybe a little pinch - I think the salt brings out the flavors a little)

{before you start cooking, get a little bowl of ice water and set it next to you} Add these four ingredients to a large pot; cook and stir constantly on medium-high heat until it starts to boil. Turn the heat down to medium, and continue to stir FOREVER. You want the mixture to reach the "soft ball" stage, which is where you drop a spoonful into that bowl of ice water and if the mixture holds together in a soft ball, then you're ready to move on. However, if it dissolves quickly then you've got to keep stirring. Don't rush this part because it's what makes your fudge creamy and not grainy and runny. Even if you think it's at the "soft ball" stage but you're not sure, keep going a little longer. Read a book while you stir - that's what I do!

**ALSO, dump out your ice water and start again if you need. Don't keep using the same bowl because you won't be able to tell what's going on with your fudge.


1 package of Ghiradelli's semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 jar marshmallow cream

Stir or whisk until everything is dissolved.


1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chopped nuts of your choice

Mix everything all together until it is all incorporated. Dump into buttered 9 x 13 cake pan, let it cool for a few minutes, and cover with plastic wrap. If it's winter time, set it outside to cool faster. We usually have snow outside so I'll set it down on top of the snow, careful not to let it melt through, and the fudge sets up so beautifully and creamy!


Random Stuff-Babysitting Buzzy

So it was my 28th birthday {again} and look at what I {I mean my adorable hubster} got me!!! It's one of those UH-MAZING cast iron enamel pots that can do just about anything except clip your toenails! {cause...gross} How nerdy is that?! I get excited about cast iron! These are very expensive, though, and I've been wanting one forever so my dreams have come true! {too bad I don't feel like cooking...}

And also - check out my cute little apron holder hookie!!! *I found it half off at Hobby Lobby - aak!* It fits SO perfectly on that teeny tiny space and it doesn't look all "in-your-face-I-have-cuter-aprons-than-you." So I guess I'm going to have to make a bunch more cute aprons to hang on the hook since I now have somewhere to discreetly display them.

Oh, and I found the most scrumptious yarn (at Hobby Lobby once again) and I couldn't resist making another baby nestie blankie! I can't say who it's for yet because it's a surprise - and I know she's on here like every single day - so I better keep it quiet. {just kidding - I don't even think she knows I have a blog...}

Anyway-I borrowed the preciously treasured "Buzzy" from my daughter this morning {I took good care of her, honey} to model the blankie. Buzzy has been my 7-year-old daughter's best friend since she was 6 months old and I'm not kidding.

So I had a fun photoshoot with Buzzy. She was a little hard because she wouldn't give me any eye contact, but I guess there were a lot of exciting things going on around us.

You don't even KNOW how hard it was to keep her from eating the vegetation...


Summer Recipe Contest!

Hey all you foodies out there! So here's something a little fun - my girl, Shelly, (a.k.a. Shellz Babe) is having this recipe contest HERE on her blog and I am SO excited because I have like a BAZILLION recipes I'm going to send her! {okay, five - but they're really good} So hurry and get her your recipes because the deadline is June 11th! **I'm just putting the word out - make sure you go to her site for all the details and her email address.**


Cooking 101 - Italian Sausage & Lentil Soup

It's been a while since I posted, so here's a little sumthin' yummy for ya. Even though it's summer, you can still have soup - paired with a delishy cold-cut sandwich full of avocado, sprouts, fresh veggies, and such, you've got an AMAZING dinner! Eat it outside and you'll almost feel like you're in Tuscany! {gasp!!!} (unless you have junky stinky neighbors)

I found this recipe on the Sisters' Cafe site {love it} and, of course, I tweaked it just a little.

Italian Sausage & Lentil Soup

1 pound green lentils, rinsed
7 cups chicken broth (I use water and chicken base)
1 bay leaf
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
8 oz spinach, chopped
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
1 lb. ground Italian sausage
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, combine the lentils, broth and bay leaf. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, for approximately 30 minutes. **The way I usually do broth is I'll add the water to the pot, and then use that "Better than Bullion" chicken base (from any grocery store), and follow the directions on amounts. It makes a great broth.

In the meantime: In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the garlic, onion, carrot and celery. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until vegetables are tender, but not browned.

Add the sauteed vegetables, spinach, tomatoes (with juice), and parsley to the lentils. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often. Add more broth as needed.

Using the same skillet from the vegetables, brown the sausage until it's no longer pink. Add to the soup. Simmer everything for about 20 minutes on low heat, until all veggies are tender and the flavors blend to the point of ecstasy.

Season with the salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf. Ladle in bowls, and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Eat it and see if you can keep your eyes from rolling back into your head...



First, congratulations to ALL OF YOU who participated and tried hard to make and keep fitness goals! THE CHALLENGE ISN'T OVER YET - keep going with those goals!

AND NOW...the winner of the $400 jackpot goes to the amazing Joanna Brittain! She lost a whopping 23 pounds!!!!! That was over 13%! UH-MAZING! Joanna worked so hard, too - I can't believe it! As soon as I get all of the information gathered, I'll give you Joanna's blog link, photo, and maybe she'll tell us what she's doing with her winnings!!!

A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who participated! Also, a big, wet kiss to Joshua and Tamara Schroeder for hooking us up with a ULTRA COOL website!!! Thanks a million! You guys are SO cool!

Now get back out there and keep workin' hard!



It's so exciting I can't even STAND it! Today is the final weigh-in for our Fitness Challenge participants and by the end of today we'll have a WINNER!!!

I think it's fairly safe to say that I'm not even close - but I still had fun watching everyone else make progress. I hope everyone had fun and will continue the health kick. And if you're a complete slacker like me, it's never too late to start making healthier choices. Every day is a new day, right?!

'Kay, well stay tuned and we'll have pics of our winner!!!