Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween and a quick update...

Peter Pan and Tink are ready to Trick or Treat!

I'm glad we got to do some trick or treating while at Disney because the weather was perfect. Tonight the weather will not be perfect and the kids will be bundled up. (Our low is projected to be 30 this evening the last time I checked.) The latest plan is to do a few houses on our street and then make our way to GrandMary's house like we do every Halloween to see her and Jack.

And I'm sorry for my lack of updating since last week. It's been nutty this last's a quick recap:

~Thursday night Girls Night with my college girls...dessert and tv time.
~Friday AG had a Trike-Athon at school. (Post and pictures coming up), AG had his last soccer practice of the fall, and we hosted our annual pumpkin carving Family Dinner with all of our college students. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed a low key evening with lots of faces around the dinning room.
~Saturday was dedicated to regrouping from Family Dinner and work around the house. We also spent the afternoon watching the Dawgs knock off the Gators. It was an intense game and Andy was pacing all over the house.
~Sunday was church and I had to do hospitality set up. We also both did long runs that afternoon for half marathon training.
~Monday and Tuesday were filled with school, errands, and normal weekly chores. In addition, last night we had family movie night and watched 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!' together before the kids went to bed.

I have lots to do today around the house. Originally, I was planning to meet a friend downtown to do Trick or Treat on Broad Street but AG has a cough that kept him up most of the night so we are laying low today. I kept him home from school today so that he can rest in hopes he can trick or treat this evening for a bit. I'm hoping to blog some today and tomorrow but we'll see if it happens. We are headed to the farm for the weekend to see Andy's mom and extended family. Saturday will be spent in Athens cheering on the Dawgs against Ole Miss. (If they win this weekend and next weekend at Auburn they'll be headed to the SEC championship in ATL in a month!) Lots going on these next few days but I promise to get things up to speed and soon. I have lots to post. I made a fabulous fall wreath and have pictures to share with a How-To. Plus, tomorrow we start our annual thankful tree activity with the kids and I need to share the holiday plans we have already lined up. (And a sneak peek of my holiday planner if I can get it finished the moment it's a jumble of paper, magazines, post-its, and bits all thrown in a binder.) I feel like I say it every month but I can't believe this month has come and gone. We are heading in to my favorite time of the year. Happy Wednesday and I hope everyone has a good Halloween. I'll be back soon. I hope. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Words for Wednesday...6 under the age of 4...

One of my good friends in college was Evan. She was a year ahead of me and we were both Early Childhood majors. Since college we have kept up with each other via fb, our blogs, texts/calls, and when we can get our crazy schedules to overlap the occasional day together. Evan and I also share a love for Disney and it just so happens that they were there the week leading in to our trip. Well, the day before we left I received a text asking me how long our trip was because she was considering extending their trip by a few days. We both got really excited about the possibility and our husbands just smiled/laughed at the two of us so excited to be at Disney together with all of our kids. So, their last full day in the parks was our first full day and we got to spend the whole day together. We had a great day at Animal Kingdom, shopping the outlets, and closing down the Magic Kingdom. The kids had a blast riding rides, playing, and eating together. And the adults enjoyed plenty of sweet moments with our kids and great conversation. I hope at some point in our future we can plan a full trip with the Hopkins crew to Disney because this one day, while perfect, just wasn't enough for me. :)

Plus, it was fun to tote around 6 kids under the age of four...which is quite fitting...Evan and Stephen get countless questions about their triplets the way we get countless questions about our kids red hair.

TONS of Disney pictures and posts coming up next...

Friday, October 19, 2012

A little of this and a little of that...

We're back! We had a fabulous trip filled with happy memories, time with sweet friends, fabulous weather, and even a sneak peek in to the New Fantasyland. I took hundreds of photos but once again the computer is having issues letting me upload to facebook and the blog. Andy will, hopefully, get it straightened out this weekend so I can share our pictures. In the mean time I'm getting back in to the swing of things and trying to play catch up. I'm also looking ahead to activities/plans for the kids as we head in to the holiday season which will be here before we know it.

Today I was cleaning out the abyss that is AG's room while he was at school. Every few weeks it needs a deep cleaning/reorganization. I was straightening all the books on the bookshelves and thinking about in another two weeks or so I can pull out Thanksgiving themed books. My goal this year is to really start to collect books around themes/seasons. I have a pretty substantial Christmas collection but all the other seasons/themes could use some work. Thankfully, now that AG is in school we can add to our library by ordering from Scholastic book flyers that help his classroom purchase materials.

Here's what we have out for fall:

--Folk Art Counting Book
--Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf
--Fall Pumpkins Orange and Plump
--Fall Leaves Colorful and Crunchy
--Fall Weather Cooler Temperatures
--Animals in Fall Preparing for Winter
--Fall Harvests Bringing in Food
--Fall Apples Crisp and Juicy
--The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night
--The Busy Little Squirrel
--The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
--The Berenstain Bears Prize Pumpkin
--The Berenstain Bears Trick or Treat
--Ten Little Pumpkins (Avi-Kate's ABSOLUTE favorite!)
--If You Give a Moose a Muffin
--It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse!

I really should go to the library to pick up a few more titles that I don't have to round things out but it's coming along. What I really should do is go ahead and pull the books for Thanksgiving so that I can see what I need to request at the library...we'll see if I can get my act together to be ahead of schedule. :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

My how they've grown...

Today is the today! We're off to the happiest place on earth for a few days of much needed family time. In the spring I took pictures of each child in a spot in the Magic Kingdom so that we could take their picture there each trip to watch them grow. Looking back at these photos today it amazes me how much they've changed since March. Avi-Kate being the biggest change since she is now walking, talking, and in to everything. (And has since developed a very girly-girl side that loves anything that she can dress up with...I think this last trip was the start of that because she became obsessed with shoes that week.)  AG is taller, slimmer, and has started school. Time sure does fly. I'm planning to take a new set pictures this weekend and will post when we get back. I'm off to finish last minute packing and getting the house in order. Have a great weekend...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It's a holiday-ish kind of day...

...really, it is. I found my mind focused on the upcoming holiday season today as I went about my day.

I was finally able to book the kids visit with Santa. You have to pre-register in the summer and then in the fall they start sending out special links so that you can sign up for your time slot. Well, it's done randomly and this year I was at the bottom of the list to get my link. My friend, Evan, got her link a week and a half ago! Anyways, most of the times were booked up but I made do and was able to get it set up. I'll take AG out of school for the day and we'll take a day trip down to ATL. We'll go see Santa at Phipps Plaza and then hop next door to Lenox for lunch. After that if we are still good on time we'll take a quick spin on the Pink Pig at Macy's. An Atlanta tradition since the end of WWII and one that I can remember doing each year growing up. 

This evening we took family pictures at Berry to use for our Christmas card and to update the family photos in the house. I have a huge frame that sits on the mantle in the living room that I would like to update with either a shot of all four of us or a picture of the kids. Our photographer is amazing...phenomenal, really. She got some great shots tonight and I can't wait to see the end result. The kids were troopers and we were able to take pictures in two locations. The first was Old Opportunity Drive aka the original entrance to the school. It's one of my favorite spots on Main Campus and has been since high school. The second spot was out on Mountain Campus and we ended up at the WinShape Retreat Center. (Which is where we were married 6.5 years ago!) There was a herd of cows in the pasture next to Old Opportunity and Avi-Kate kept pointing the ENTIRE. TIME. at the cows. (And mooing, of course.) I'm hopeful we were able to get at least one picture of her looking at the camera and not the cows. Which by the way AG properly identified as angus cows due to their black coats. Can you tell we have cattle farmers for relatives? :)

October is zipping by and the holidays will be upon us soon! Have you started thinking about the next few months as we round out 2012? 

Wordless (instagram) Wednesday...Pumpkins and Pan Edition.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Welcoming Fall with some Chicken Noodle Soup

Nothing says 'FALL' like a good soup and there is just something about eating a hearty chicken noodle soup on a cold day that I just love. When I began freezing meals and using them in rotation with my weekly dinners I began to search for a good chicken noodle soup recipe. I wanted a recipe that would be easily assembled, taste great, was thick, and could be frozen. After much searching I came across this recipe from Freezer Friendz two years ago and it has become my go to chicken noodle soup recipe. I do tweak it a bit for my own liking. If you want the original recipe click on the link above. Here we go:

2 C of shredded or diced chicken 
1 can of cream of chicken soup
2 cups of chicken stock
2 cups of veggies (I eye ball it and I use celery, carrots, and onions.)
2 cups of cooked noodles
2 bay leafs
Pat of butter
Generous sprinkling of poultry seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste

It should be noted that I pretty much eye ball this whole recipe...I'm very much a Rachel Ray type cook don't get precise unless I'm baking. This recipe doubles and triples beautifully. On this particular day I doubled my recipe. 

Start by boiling water for the noodles and chopping your veggies. I used my food processor to slice my carrots and celery and then chop my onion. Heat a deep pot with a pat of butter or two depending on the volume of veggies you need to soften at medium high heat. Add the veggies and let them begin to cook. After a few minutes add the bay leaf and the poultry seasoning. 

When your water is boiling add your pasta and again gauge it on how much soup you are producing. I will say that if you want to freeze some I would only cook noodles for what you plan to consume then. It's easier to freeze the soup base and then when you pull it out of the freezer cook noodles that particular night. So, I cooked enough for what we were going eat and didn't worry about what I was planning to freeze.

Next, add your cream of chicken soup and your chicken stock. Depending on your preferences you can add more of less stock depending on how thick/creamy you like your soup. I make my own chicken stock these days because it's cheaper but you can use store bought stock easily. At this point you can add your can cook raw chicken in your base. I do this all the time in my chicken-n-dumplings recipe and have never had a problem. If you do this bring your soup mixture to a boil and add your chicken and then knock the heat back down. If you have precooked chicken then just lower the heat to a simmer and add your chicken. This particular time I had precooked chicken on hand from earlier in the week. Once it was warmed I did salt and pepper to taste. At this point I went ahead and pulled out what I was planning to freeze. What was left then received a generous helping of noodles. And then it was time to eat. Super easy and really tasty. We ate our soup with grilled cheese sandwiches this particular night. I've been eating the leftovers over the course of this last week. Enjoy!

Veggies sweating it out.
 Noodles cooling  off and waiting to go in the pot.
 Cream of chicken added along with the stock.
 Chicken chopped and ready to go.
 Everybody in the pot.
 Mmmmmm! So, so, so good!

 Ready for the freezer.

Freezing tips:

-I love to freeze in these Ziploc containers because they are made for the freezer, heavy duty, and washable. 
-Label everything! I like the Ziploc containers because I can write on the lid with a dry erase marker and then wipe/rub it off when I get ready to wash the container. They also have a spot for the date which comes in handy.
-For this particular recipe you could thaw it in the croc pot and then add your cooked noodles before serving. You can also add some more stock or a little milk to thin it out a help stretch it even further. 

-Last Thanksgiving I used left over turkey and used it instead of the chicken and it was really good. I plan to do that again this year since we'll be hosting Thanksgiving for the college family and Christmas for Andy's family this year. I'm sure at some point we'll have some extra turkey that needs to be used up and this is a great way to change it up.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Words for Wednesday...Looks like a bumper crop of...

acorns this year! We live in an old neighborhood with lots of trees. We have a 100+ year old oak in our front yard so acorns are to be expected. Some years we have more than others...these two pictures are from four years ago and I'm betting this year will be on par with 2008. Eventually, Andy will blow them all in to big piles so he can begin to shovel them in to a yard waste container. The reality is that we won't be able to get up half of what will fall. The rest will sprout and we'll be pulling them up next spring. When they fall it sounds like artillery fire. Thankfully, over the years Samson has gotten use to it and doesn't bark ballistically anymore every time one hits the house. A sign of the changing seasons for sure. :)  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

If you find... lone right pink Croc, size 4-5, brand new feel free to hold on to it for me. We ordered Avi-Kate her first pair of Crocs a few weeks ago so that she could break them in before Disney. Well, our plan was going along swimmingly until she decided to hide the right one. Yep, we have turned the house upside down and Andy searched the trash last week and so far we have yet to find it. I'm still hoping it turns up before we leave next week.

Such is life with a sweet toddler who is learning all about the world around her. :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Welcome October! I'm so happy to see you...

October is always a fun month because we have so many things to look forward to and then we slip right in to the holiday season which is my favorite time of the year. AG is now at the age where he really understands holidays and gets excited about what is to come. Andy and I are both really excited to see him this Christmas season...we are really looking forward to it.

So, what do we have to look forward to this month?

Braves in the post-season! Hopefully, they'll be playing long in to October. 

Mountain Day Weekend! Lots of quality time spend with friends and family celebrating Martha Berry.

Fall pictures with pumpkins. Look how much Avi-Kate has grown in a year and look at how much AG has grown in three years! It amazes me how quickly time flies.

Fall break at Disney! We are so excited and so ready. The packing has started and there are lots of things to get done between now and next week when we leave. We'll be there before we know it.
 Fleecy pjs and fun holiday prints. We've already had a few cool nights and have had to use them. By the end of the month it will be the only pjs the kids wear till the spring.  
 Family Dinner fun...carving pumpkins together and eating chili. This is one of my favorite meals every year. 

 Birthday celebrations! Clint is my cousin and he's a sophomore this year at Berry. Our birthdays are right next to each other...I'm the 21st and he's the 23rd. We'll celebrate together at Family Dinner I'm sure.
 Halloween! This year is going to be way different from last year because this year Avi-Kate can walk and trick-or-treat. Last year, we strolled her around the neighborhood but I have no doubt she will want to participate this year. She has to be doing whatever AG is doing, all. the. time.
 To end the month and a night of trick-or-treating we'll wind up at GrandMary's to visit with her and Jack. She loves to ooh and aah over the kids.

There you have it...a quick preview of what is to come. What are you looking forward to this month?