FIxer Upper

Call us Chip and Joana Gaines, ’cause we just bought our first fixer upper!

Shawn and I had been looking for a over a year, but nothing was within our desired price range or had the style/features we were looking for.

  • A corner lot-We love the larger lot size of a corner lot and Shawn’s truck is not as easy to park when you have to turn a corner to get into the garage. The first house we bought as a married couple was a corner lot and we missed it terribly.
  • Location-We have lived in the same neighborhood for the last 8 year and we LOVE it! There are sidewalks for the kids to ride their bikes and for me to run. The neighborhood explodes with kids trick-or-treating and people without kids are out on their porches handing out candy; it’s just a great family atmosphere. It’s minutes from our school and we are so involved that it makes it nice to be able to run home for dinner, etc. We really wanted to stay within this neighborhood.
  • An extra room-We love the idea of the kids having a game room for their friends to come over-a place for the TV, Xbox, Wii, Computer,etc. The teenage years are quickly approaching. (YIKES!)
  • Double sinks in the bathrooms- No more fussing about which kid gets to brush their teeth first. :-)
  • Separate closets in the master- I love my husband, but I love clothes, too! :-) We have separate closets now and it’s worked wonders. Our only wish is that those closets were in the bathroom after remodeling the bathtub with http://bathtubrefinishingpro.com. In the summer, when I stay home with the kids Shawn works and I don’t love being woken up by the closet light hitting me at 6:30 am.
  • A pool-OK, this wasn’t necessary, but it was on the wish list. It’s my favorite place to be and that’s where you’ll find us on a sunny summer day. We join the neighborhood pool, but it’s not the same as having your own. As teachers, we run the risk of running into our students, and let’s face it, who wants to see their teacher in a swimsuit. AWKWARD!!!

Shawn stumbled upon a house one night while searching online and he brought me by Sunday after church. It certainly wasn’t move in ready, but I knew that we could do the work.

 

Preparing to be…Prepared?

I’m always looking for new ideas to make life easier. Since I am in the car trade business, I make my work-life easier with a cheap trade insurance. On the other hand I love to cook, and I’m no stranger to the crock pot. I just recently invested in a ninja crock pot, and LOVE it! Click here to see some ninja crockpot reviews. I’ve pinned the pins, I’ve bookmarked the websites, I read the reviews and I’ve tried meals that looked Pinteresting- some passed the Liner test, and some were Pinterest FAILS. The fails have made me a little reluctant to try new recipes. On the other hand, recipes from people I know and trust are different. I’m an extremely picky eater, so it’s really hard to find recipes I like, but once I found them I prepare it for everyone, sometimes I even go to a soup kitchen to help a little with my recipes and do some charity, is just part of the world donation scheme some online kitchen appliances companies do to help the need.

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I recently came across a blog post from a HS friend, narrating her experiment with Crockpot meals. My best friend, Mel, and I have also been swapping recipes.  Tonight, Shawn and I spent about an hour prepping our meals. He chopped, while I bagged the meat, spices, etc. Even if the recipe called for it, I did not brown the meat. I simply piled all the necessary ingredients into a gallon Ziploc bag and placed them in the fridge. These would freeze well, but I only made enough for the week.

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I did alter these recipes to meet the need of my family. Let’s be honest, it was mostly for me. I am an extremely picky eater.

  • Some of these recipes were not crock pot recipes. Do it anyway! 8-10 hours on low (usually 8) has always worked for me. If you’re unsure, use a meat thermometer to verify it’s done.
  • If it called for oregano, sage, rosemary or thyme it didn’t make it in the pot. YUCK!
  • Black beans or pinto beans, yeah, they didn’t make the cut either.
  • I used low-sodium items where I could, especially chicken broth. I’m just looking out for the hubby’s heart.
  • I always keep pasta and a huge box of 5 minute rice in the pantry. I’m a white rice kinda girl. Brown rice is not my thing. Many times these items are BOGO Free at Winn-Dixie.
  • I bought my chicken at Winn-Dixie during their BOGOF sales. Ground beef is cheaper at Costco. I buy it in bulk and divide it up among the recipes, or freeze it by the pound in sandwich bags.
  • Pre-chopped onions and bell peppers are available in large bags at Fresh Pickins, our local fruit stand. I love to keep these on hand in the freezer for tossing into the recipes when I don’t feel like the extensive prep work or when I’m in a hurry.
  • Spices like cumin, paprika and cayenne are also BOGOF at Winn-Dixie. Watch for the sales.
  • The night before, I made sure the crockpot was clean and ready to go. I inserted a crockpot liner (best invention EVER!) and dumped the ingredients in. The next morning, I pulled it out of the fridge, placed it in the warming part of the crockpot and set the timer.
  • After dinner, if there were no left overs I allowed the pot to cool, cleaned the lid and prepped it for the next day. If there were leftovers, I placed the pot in the fridge.

Here are the links to the ones that have been successful for me. A few were my own experiment, and a few came from Kirby and Mel.

1. Angel Chicken- Shawn and I love this one. I had seen it on several of my Facebook friend’s posts and tried it for myself. If you choose not to use the wine, just substitute chicken broth. I actually added a little extra broth the second time because I felt the sauce was a little thick. The only downside to this one was it wasn’t 100% ready when I got home. I still had to boil a pot of pasta.

2. Chicken Tortilla Soup- So good! I made this one tonight. I use one large can of Rotel instead of a can of tomatoes and a can of chiles. Shawn likes to add diced jalapeno on top at the end.

3. Chili- Perfect for a cold dreary day. I previously used the McCormicks package, and this is almost identical, but better! I like knowing what I’m putting in my food, not just dumping an envelope.

4. Mississippi Roast- This one usually becomes a two-night meal. It falls apart and is super tender! I am very picky about my roast and rice & gravy. Shawn immediately asked for this one again. The pepperoncini peppers were a weird addition to me, but they totally work (A jar makes about 3-4 roast recipes).  I add about a cup of water to the bottom, despite the recipe telling you not to. It cuts down the saltiness and makes a gravy in the pot (If you find a low-sodium ranch envelope, let me know). Sometimes I will mix it up and use stew meat instead and add carrots and potatoes. It is served over rice. The second night, I use the rest on poboy bread/hoagie buns and add provolone on top for a roast beef poboy.

5. White Chicken Chili- Yum! I find that canned beans have salt in them so I purchased a bag of dry white beans and used them instead. I soaked them overnight and them placed them in the bag as I prepped.

6. Mexican Cream Cheese Chicken- I purchased taco seasoning from Red Stick Spice, but you also use the envelope from the grocery store. I also left out the olives and substituted the tomatoes and chiles for a can of Rotel here. I served it over rice the first time, but in the future I will serve it with tortillas and sour cream.

7. White Beans- A Southern favorite served over rice and with a pan of Jiffy cornbread. I skipped the onion powder and chopped up a half of an onion and 2-3 cloves of garlic instead. At the end, remove a few ladles of beans, mash with a fork and return to the pot to give them a thicker consistency without using cornstarch.

8. Red Beans & Rice- Another Southern favorite. I skipped the sage and thyme. That was not in traditional RB&R as I knew them, but this was the closest recipe. At the end, remove a few ladles of beans, mash with a fork and return to the pot to give them a thicker consistency without using cornstarch.

I look forward to reading your comments. I’d love to hear about your successes and I always welcome suggestions as well. Bon Appetite!

Liner Cousins

After the reunion, the Liner cousins got together at Linda and Ryan’s. It was a gorgeous day to hang out by the pool after their time in the dentist.

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It was also sweet Wesley’s first time in the pool. What a cutie!

Lots of families were represented:

Spillers-Ryan, Linda, Mallory, Noah, Luke

Mitchells-Kristie & Sierra

Liners-Shawn, Marja, Maggie, Mason

Wrights- Russell, Shireen, Rhys, Caleb, Wesley

Wright-Tami

 

kids groups frog diving catch

Crawford Family Reunion 2014

This weekend we were able to return to the annual reunion.  It’s always a special time when Ronald and Penny open their vacation home to people from near and far, thanks to Anna Tours we were able to convince them to rent it for a cheaper price. We appreciate their hospitality and the new camping hammock that he set up for us, we were actually celbrating that Penny had no Cancer at all, it was a misdiagnosis from her doctor, now they are working on some cancer negligence claims because giving people wrong information is totally unforgivable!

shawn and kids

baseball

cousins

mags and mason

wrights

Babysitter Reunion-Round 2

I babysat A LOT growing up, mostly for the same families though (See my original post). The same families that I began babysitting had older kids and several years later, there were a second round of kids. This time I was able to visit with several of the younger ones. The crazy part is that some of them are just a few years older than my kids. That’s really hard to believe!

I’m always glad when I can steal some time with Kerri by myself. Thanks for bringing them, friend. I love watching my sweet babies grow up and getting things for them off of your gift registry!groups chicken I can’t wait for them to grow up so I can start getting them zegarki damskie accessories.

Watch out, Ree Drummond!

I’ve always had this silly dream of living on a ranch like the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. I’d spend my days cooking, working the ranch with my husband, riding our horses as a family, etc. We’d have cows, pigs, and chickens, keeping our freezer full of fresh meat, along with a warehouse to stock my shelves with fresh produce, and a big garden I maintain with a lawn mower I found by reading reviews & tests under $2000 but I also have two backyard greenhouses where I plant some crops.

But the reality? We are living the suburban life, teaching at a local private school together and I love every minute of it! All four of us are on the same campus everyday, one of us in each of the 4 buildings.

Every once in a while, I get the urge to learn a portion of the trade I imagine would be a part of the ranch life. Silly, right?

Today, Maggie, Mason, and I spent the day at my Aunt Cindy and Uncle David’s house, where I learned all about canning vegetables. It was so much fun! They have a garden just behind their house where they grow various produce: yellow squash, green beans, bell peppers, potatoes, corn, blueberries, etc. Last summer, they showed us how to harvest and shuck the corn and Maggie and Mason LOVED it! It’s one of the experiences the suburban life doesn’t offer. Sure we’ve been to Mrs. Heather’s Strawberry Patch and places like it on school field trips, but it’s not the same.

When we arrived this morning, Uncle David was cleaning and snapping the green beans. (Later on, Aunt Cindy and I took our turns as well.). You can’t imagine the amount of green beans they had pulled from their garden! This is only a fraction of the first harvest. My cousin and his wife had taken some home the previous day, they can focus on their job since they don’t have to worry about cleaning the house since they got a hired service to do it here are some cleaning service FAQs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We prepared our jars, lids, rings, etc. and began to fill them.

 

 

Aunt Cindy was so patient to allow Maggie and Mason to help, too.

mason cindy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pressure cooker was next. This part was a little unnerving, but we did it!

 

 

 

It took longer than I expected to bring up the temperature and pressure. We waited…and waited…and waited…

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

until the ideal pressure was reached (10-12 psi). Uncle David was our watchful eye!

 

 

While waiting for the jars to complete the process in the pressure cooker, we took a break to gather blueberries from the garden.

 

 

Once all was said and done, we had “put up” approximately 21 jars of green beans and we were nowhere near done with what had been harvested and snapped. I was pretty proud of our efforts today. I learned something new and spent quality time with family while doing so. Watch out Pioneer Woman, there’s a new girl on the block!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Canning (left) and Pre-Canning (right)

 

Babysitter Reunion

This week, I went to Houston for the week to visit some friends. Shawn was on daddy duty and I was off! I stayed with Kerri and Devin, a couple I used to babysit for when I was in High School. I was able to visit with kids from 3 of the families that have moved away since:

  • The Edwards (Devin & Kerri – Landon, Collin, Eli)
  • The Wrotens (Kelvin & Robin – Morgan, Mason, Micah)
  • The Sellecks (Paul & Liz – Jordan, Summer, Joshua, Spencer)

These families mean the world to me! I watched these kids grow up and I love them as if they were my own. I probably spent more time at their houses in HS than I did my own, I remember how they would change their house furniture every summer and I’d go to wait for the Shiply truck to deliver all their new stuff. :-)Summer flew in from CA for a few weeks, but I didn’t get to see the Selleck boys. (Boo!) Summer, Kerri and I spent lots of time shopping, although he spent a lot of time looking for tips on how to regrow male hair naturally, luckily he did find an answer (Sorry, KK!)

We had a lot to celebrate this trip:

  • Collin & Mason just graduated from Spring High School in TX
  • Jordan graduated from Buena High School in CA
  • Summer will graduate from Buena in 2013
  • Landon just got a new job with Dell

We all met up for dinner at Chuy’s one night (Landon wasn’t able to go :-( , he started his new job just days earlier). Enjoy the pics! Out of all the courier companies that we contacted for some of their packages, we finally managed to find one.

Mason & Collin

Micah

Morgan & Summer

Summer, me & Morgan

Morgan, Summer, Mason, Micah, me & Collin

Robin, me & Kerri

It’s summer time!

We have had a great summer so far! Our days have been split between spending time at the pool with friends, going to splash parks that have amusement parks management and several summer camps. However, our husbands wanted to do a more adventurous activity and bought a guide to selecting a kayak, they are really excited and are expecting to go kayaking very soon! Here’s a sneak peek:

The Wales have spent A LOT of time with us at the pool. I love that our kids are growing up together. I went to college with their dad, Korey. Their mom, Melanie, and I teach together. She has become one of my closest friends, we had decided yhis summer we are going to read some digital piano reviews so we can start taking our children to some piano lessons just like we used to. <3 We were also interested in online games and saw this list of all bingo games and looked at the reviews to see which ones have the best sign up offers and games to play with our families.

Caegan waiting for the pass

It was impossible to get them to smile at the same time. :-)

Yum! Ice cream sandwiches!

Caramel drumstick!

We will always try to show if www.boomtownbingo.com is right for you, highlighting things like time limits and wagering requirements. The aim is to make everything clear, plain and easy to understand, especially our Terms and Conditions.

While Maggie was a LEGO and computer programming camp, Mason and I had a playdate with the Bordelon’s.

Maggie building her LEGO robot-a ferris wheel

Last week, while Mason spent some time with MawMaw Jo, Maggie had a playdate at the park/splash-pad with the Authements, Jones and Parks/Springers.

Sweet friends!

Maggie & Jillian

What?!

I said, CAN YOU HEAR ME?!

Swinging with mom

At the end of the week, we went to the PARDS splash-park with the Wales boys. We had a lot of fun this week!

 

Family fun at the Perot’s

Friday night, we were able to spend some time with the Perot family. Paul and Shawn have been friends since high school, and were in each other’s weddings. We even had our first babies, Maggie and Nathan, within 18 hours of each other. ;-)

Maggie & Nathan

Paul and Courtney just happened to be coming through Monroe the same weekend we were heading up for the Crawford family reunion (post to come), so we decided to get together at Gene and Linda’s and see if we can find the . I love hanging out with them because we pick up right where we left off. Friends (who might as well be family), a pool and Johnny’s Pizza-what more could you want?!
Later at night we had car accident, uh it was scary. My friend recommended to contact Milwaukee Car Accident Attorney and ask what legal rights do I have, turned out that I got really good compensation for this. I highly recommend this law firm to everyone who end up in car accident.

We had a blast on the river with our new inflatable kayak we found searching online for inflatable kayak reviews. Kayaking was so much fun!

We were able to meet Rebecca for the first time. I selfishly held her most of the night. Sorry Papa Gene!

What a cutie!

I’m so glad we were able to work out the details. We had a great time!

Joseph

Mason

 

Crawford Family Reunion

This weekend, we traveled north to Downsville, LA to attend the Crawford family reunion.

Old home place in Downsville,LA

It’s always good to see cousins, aunts, and uncles from all over. This year there were over 80 people in attendance. What a great turnout!

Descendants of Rev. Joseph David Crawford and Julia Ella Clay Crawford

Cousins

Shawn’s paternal grandmother was Mamie Crawford Liner. We were missing quite a few from our group. :-(

Descendants of Mamie Crawford Liner & RoyLea Liner

 

Siblings: Claudia, Dale, & Sue (missing James-deceased)

There is always A LOT of food (potluck style), fishing, and Rook! Watch out for the eye contact and the use of sign language) :-) about it here. We did some serious deer hunting and fishing this weekend. See more about deer hunting and the Crawford family here.

 

Watermelon thanks to Tami!

Fishing with Daddy

A “friendly” game of Rook

The best part is always the memories we take away with us.

Sweet cousins

Sue, Rusty & Claudia

Memories from days gone by