Sunday, June 30, 2019

Cheesy Chicken Potato Casserole

frozen cubed potatoes

 I added chopped cauliflower in with the cubed potatoes to give my family a little more vegetables with dinner.  If you do this, chop the cauliflower smaller than the potatoes as it takes longer to soften.

 Stir the potatoes into the chicken, onion, cheese, seasonings, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), and cream soup mixture that's been warmed on the stove.

 Divide into greased pans.

Top with more cheese.

Bake for 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
 If you have an aluminum pan, you might want to poke your finger in the middle of the casserole to be sure it's heated through. 

Feed your hungry tribe! 

Cheesy Chicken Potato Casserole

  • 2 lbs. frozen cubed hashbrowns
  • 1 pint plain Greek yogurt or sour cream 
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup (or mushroom or celery)
  • 1 small onion finely chopped (or 1/4 cup dried minced onion)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese plus 1/2 cup to sprinkle on top if desired
  • 1 can 12.5 ounce chicken including the water/broth
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic or 1/4 tsp. garlic powder 
  • 1/4 tsp. celery seed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 9x13 pan.

In a 3 qt. saucepan on medium heat, warm together everything EXCEPT the cheese and potatoes.  Combine sauce mixture with potatoes and cheese.  Pour into 9x13 pan.  Sprinkle with additional 1/2 cup cheese if desired.

Bake for 30-40 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

This makes one 9x13 pan.  If you have a mega-sized family like us, you might want to double the recipe and make 2 9x13 pans.  Even if you don't have a large family, it's always nice to have easy yummy leftovers. 

Sunday, June 09, 2019

After 12 years, the Mommy Store continues!

I started a Mommy Store when I only had 3 kids and now it's still going strong with 8.  You can type in Mommy Store in the search bar of my blog and you'll see past posts about it. 

It was started as a motivation to behave.  We didn't know at the time that my oldest, Pookie, has Aspergers (High-Functioning Autism).  We were on the lookout for a disclipine system that he would respond to.

They get rewarded for good behavior with tokens or tickets or money that they can then use to buy treats and whatnot at The Mommy Store.  We currently use money. 

For about a year, The Mommy Store reward system had been converted into a tool to teach money to the little kids.  We weren't consistently using it anymore as a way of discipline, but we weren't ready for it to go away.  Everyone still enjoyed it. 

Every couple of months or so, all the children would get a dollar in play money. They got to shop from The Mommy Store for the sole purpose of figuring out what's a good deal, how many things they can buy, that money isn't limitless, etc.

These regular attempts at teaching money management seemed to help as I see some of them carefully save every penny.  Of course, I also still see some eager to spend every single coin they have as if it's burning a hole in their pocket.

I realized that my kids could still learn about money without me just handing money over to them.  So we went back to our original reason for having the store.  

 For a while I did away with it when my kids were not willing to do things to help unless something was in it for them.  If this kind of behavior increases, I don't let them visit the store for a while.  It's a delicate balance between handing over rewards for good behavior and letting them understand the heavenly rewards for obedience and service.  
We are back to using it again to encourage good behavior.  Sometimes, no one wants to help with particularly heinous jobs, and I say, "Whoever helps with X will be rewarded with Mommy Money."  That usually does the trick and I get volunteers.

 Our card table was our wrapping station at Christmas time except when I set up the store on it.

Some friends have asked me, "Why does a teenager have interest in The Mommy Store?"  

I asked Gabbers, 15 1/2, a few questions.

Me:  How do you earn money for The Mommy Store?
G:  When we do an extra chore or do something really nicely without complaint, we get Mommy Store money.   
Me:  Why would a teenager want to shop at The Mommy Store?

G:  It's cool to see what options there are.  It's always fun to see if there's new stuff and neat when you see things that you didn't know was there.  I like it because it's an easy way to earn money and you don't have to wait for an allowance and wait to go to The Dollar Tree or something.  
Me:  How often do we have The Mommy Store?
G:  It's always on a Friday but not every week.  It's about every 2-3 weeks.  
Me:  Do you like going to The Mommy Store?  
G:  Yeah, why wouldn't I??  There are treats, stickers, pencils, fun stuff!

whistles I bought for the store

The rules:  Go above and beyond helping out and you get Mommy Money.  The store is sometimes every Friday, but more often it's every other Friday.  I keep track on my phone how much Mommy Money they have.  They can ask me at any time how much their balance it.  

They use that money to shop when I open the store.  Sometimes they choose not to use it all.  A couple kids like to keep a positive balance in their account-- even if it's 5 cents.    

They can never lose what's in their mommy store money account.  We do not discipline bad behavior that way.  However, sometimes we wait to have the Mommy Store until morale improves.  

They may spend their own money (in addition to what they've earned specifically for the store) but they must get back in line to spend it.  This allows everyone a chance to shop before one person buys out everything.  

  This pic was from last Christmastime.  They were eager to buy tiny ornaments and Christmas lights to decorate their rooms.

I don't see The Mommy Store going away anytime soon. We all like it too much. 

 Sometimes it's hard to decide when there are sooooo many goodies.

 Our most recent line at The Mommy Store just a few days ago.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Resurrection Rolls - a simple Easter lesson and treat

I'm making these tonight with my Activity Girls (8-11 year olds) at church.  We made them in homeschool today so I could time how long it takes.  Everyone 6-17 years enjoyed making (and eating) them. 
 The butter represents the oils of embalming.  
The cinnamon and sugar represent the spices used to anoint the body. 
 All wrapped up in the crescent roll dough and ready to go in the oven (the tomb).
 Tater felt the need to roll his after pinching the dough closed.  Maybe that's why his didn't split open.
 Some were not sealed well and the marshmallow leaked out.  
This is our first pan.  We did two pans.
 This one was perfectly sealed!
 The tomb is empty!
Another perfect one!

  • 1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls (8 count)
  • 8 large marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1- 1 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • paper cupcake liners

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.
  3. Separate crescent rolls into triangles and give each person one. The crescent roll represents the cloth that Jesus was wrapped in after he died.
  4. Give each person a large marshmallow. The marshmallow represents Jesus’ body. 
  5. Have each person dip their marshmallow into the melted butter. The melted butter represents the oils of embalming. 
  6. Then dip the buttered the marshmallow into the cinnamon sugar. The cinnamon sugar represents the spices used to anoint the body. 
  7. Wrap the coated marshmallow tightly into the crescent roll. Pinch the sides to make a good seal.  Don’t roll up like a regular crescent rollThis represents the wrapping of Jesus’ body after death.
  8. When they're done forming their roll, place inside a paper cupcake liner and on a jelly roll pan (a baking sheet with edges).  
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes.  The oven represents the tomb Jesus was buried in. 
  10. When the rolls have cooled slightly, everyone can open their rolls (cloth) and discover that Jesus is no longer there, for HE IS RISEN!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Pizzas, Planets, and Learning

 We're focusing on 13 and 15 today in homeschool with Biscuit.  Biscuit regular switches these two numbers when counting.  I'm not sure if it's because she can't pronounce 13 very clearly.  

So I set out to make sure she understood how much each was-- even if she can't say thirteen clearly.


First I ordered one 15 button pepperoni pizza.

Then I ordered a 13 button pepperoni pizza.  
(She decided it needed extra sauce.  😬)

Then she was showing signs of hangriness.

So we made Planet 15 and found 15 aliens to live on it.

And then she promptly abducted them.  

There were many giggles during math this morning.  This girl finds much joy in hands-on and sensory learning.  I find much joy in her finding much joy in learning.  

Thursday, August 02, 2018

A favorite snack to keep our family regular without meds

Homemade air-popped popcorn is a great way to stay regular without costly or nasty tasting medicines.  

This is our favorite recipe.

1/2 cup unpopped kernels, popped = approx. 12-14 cups popcorn
1/4-1/3 cup unflavored coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2-3 tbsp. nutritional yeast 

Pour the melted oil onto the popped popcorn.  Sprinkle the salt, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast over the popcorn.  Stir & serve!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Chatty Chocolate Addict

This afternoon I picked up a few treats to add to this weekend's conference kits. #ldsconf
I got chocolate covered Craisins as well as Dove Milk Chocolate Coconut Créme eggs.
I was filling tiny ziploc bags with chocolate Craisins and this girl appeared in front of me out of nowhere. Poof!

She has a sensor for chocolate!
"Mommy, what are you doing?"
"Are you making me one?"
"Who are those for?"
"Are you using ALL the treats?"
Realizing there was no hiding the little scale and treat bags and the crinkly sounds, I answered her questions.
"I'm making sure each bag weighs the same. Yes, you'll get a bag -- on Saturday. Each kid gets one. They're for conference kits."
"Ohh!" her grin widened. "I remember conference. I love conference! I can't wait!" she squealed.
Then she watched me put the Dove eggs in little bags too.
"Those look like chocolate too. Are they chocolates?" she asked.
"How astute you are. They sure are chocolates. You'll get two of these on Saturday or Sunday in your conference kit."
"But there are 8 bags and chocolate not in bags. Who are the extras for?" she asked.
"They're for me of course. I'm going to gobble them up!" I said. And I meant it.
"Right now?" she asked.
"Yep," I answered and opened one.
"Ohh. I wish I knew what they tasted like," she hinted heavily.
"They taste like guts," I told her. "Guts and bad feelings," I added.
She didn't believe me for a millisecond.
"Mommy! This wrapper smells like it tastes good," she said.
So I shared the other one with her. And if you thought she was chatty BEFORE the chocolate, you should've heard her AFTER.
She talked for 5 minutes straight at top speed about it and how cool the wrapper was and how shiny and how she can make the wrapper look neat pressed against things like my allergy medication bottle lid and one wrapper being a puppy and one being a kitten and it could hold snacks and be a butterfly on and on and on.
I love my little chocolate addict.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Today my first born turned 15.

I knew I loved him before he was born. When he was just a lima bean making me throw up multiple times a day, he had my heart.

I will never forget that direct connection to my Heavenly Father I felt that first evening with my newborn son. The love I felt for him witnessed to me of the love my Heavenly Father feels for us. I would love this child eternally no matter what. I sang him to sleep that night after feeding him and just felt so grateful for that glimpse into heaven.

Happy Birthday Pookie!

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Homemade Christmas

At the beginning of November, I approached my children with the idea of homemade gifts for the sibling they chose for the Christmas gift exchange.  Being of the rarely employed variety of children, they liked this idea.

When they chose a name out of the bowl, I wrote it down in case they forgot or in case they needed ideas.  Only two came to me for ideas:  Bun and Pookie.  

Honestly not sure if the littles even did it, but I figured that was up to them.  I offered a couple times for them to run an idea past me.  So we'll see if the younger kids did anything...

Bun had Hammy's name for the exchange.  He decided to make a padded binder. 

Hammy's favorite color is yellow, so that's what Bun went with.  

Gabbers bought an inexpensive plain magenta shirt (Peach's favorite color) and then decorated it for Peach.

Pookie thought that this would be a fun shirt for Biscuit since she likes stars.  I think it looks like it says, "Easter," but he thought she'd like it since her name starts with an "E."

I love seeing my kids' creativity grow!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Crafty Home will have tutorials soon!

I have thoroughly been enjoying the launch of my new business, A Crafty Home.  I had no idea it would take off so quickly, but I'm super grateful as it's helped provide for our Christmas.

You can currently find its page on Facebook and it will soon have its own website.

I'm prepping to add tutorials; so stay tuned!

Thanks for joining me and encouraging me in my journey!

For one of the most common asked about tutorials, visit my friend, Connie's blog where she posted my Glittered and Personalized Ornament How-To.  I'm so grateful since blogger has been on the fritz for me these past couple months.  I think I've figured it out!

Friday, September 02, 2016

Mom's Granola and Nikki's variation of Mom's Granola (and it's gluten free)

Mom's Granola
This is how my mom's original recipe reads in her published recipe book.  I've loved this recipe since I was a child.

Makes about 7 1/4 cups cereal.
Preparation time:  7 minutes
Baking time:  40 minutes

4 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup blanched slivered almonds
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 cube) butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar (dissolved in melted butter)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (high-altitude 350 degrees).
2.  Mix, oats, wheat germ, almonds, coconut, and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
3.  In a small saucepan, or in a glass bowl in the microwave, metl butter with salt and brown sugar, until sugar dissolves.  Add vanilla to dissoled sugar mixture; pour over mixture and stir until well coated.
4.  Lightly grease 9-by-13-inch and spread mixture in pan.
5.  Bake for approximately 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until mixture begins to turn golden.
6.  Cool completely; store in an air-tight container.
7.  Serve cold with milk.

VARIATIONS:  (1) Substitute vegetable oil for butter; and honey for sugar.  (2) Omit any ingredient you dislike (with the exception of the oats!).

TIP:  If you like raisins, currants, or chopped dates, stir 1/2 cup to 1 cup of one or more after baking so they won't dry out.

These are the ingredients and amounts we use for really yummy gluten-free granola-- and we usually quadruple it.

Nikki's variation of Mom's Granola

4 1/2 cups GF rolled oats
2/3 - 3/4 cup ground flax (instead of wheat germ)
1 cup chopped raw almonds and sometimes chopped walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, or cashews
1/2 cup flaked coconut
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup (1 cube) real butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dark brown sugar or raw honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup of raisins (added after baking)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (high-altitude 350 degrees).
2.  Mix, oats, wheat germ, almonds, coconut, and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
3.  In a small saucepan, or in a glass bowl in the microwave, metl butter with salt and brown sugar, until sugar dissolves.  Add vanilla to dissoled sugar mixture; pour over mixture and stir until well coated.
4.  Lightly grease 9-by-13-inch and spread mixture in pan.
5.  Bake for approximately 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until mixture begins to turn golden.
6.  Cool completely; add raisins and store in an air-tight container.
7.  Serve cold with milk.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Behold, our anniversary celebration by numbers.

I have given my husband exactly ONE haircut ever and one day I'll tell you about it.  But today is not that day.

I knew I loved him for TWO years before I told him.

THREE days after we were engaged we had our first kiss.  

We were engaged FOUR months.

We have owned FIVE vehicles.

We were married SIX months when we took our second honeymoon thanks to a job interview.

Our (first) honeymoon lasted SEVEN days.

We have EIGHT kids.

I had NINE bridesmaids at my wedding reception-- his 6 sisters and my 3 sisters (and 2 maids of honor).  

We have been on maybe TEN dates alone since having children.

I have had ELEVEN pregnancies.

I told him shortly after we were engaged that I want TWELVE kids and he was okay with that.

We have lived in THIRTEEN different houses.

The average age of our babies was FOURTEEN months when we found out we were expecting the next.

The first fridge we bought was FIFTEEN years old when we bought it.  (We didn't know that at the time.)

I was SIXTEEN weeks pregnant with our last baby when he first deployed.

I was SEVENTEEN years old when I first met him.

Danny gave my dad EIGHTEEN cows for my hand in marriage.  

Happy 18th Anniversary to my sweetheart Danny!  I love you more and more every year we spend together.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The 2nd tire and a Pokemon GO! birthday party

Wednesday (the day after we got to Grandma and Papa's house) we contacted the Les Schwab in town and told them about our first tire and how the shaking started again with the van after it was replaced.  Upon inspection they discovered the rear left tire was bulging and about to blow out and said we were VERY fortunate to notice the shaking and have it seen before it did.  

So before we could head to a totally awesome Pokemon birthday party for my nephew, we hung out in the Les Schwab lobby while they put a new tire on it.

The good people at Les Schwab checked the remaining two tires (that weren't purchased from them) and said they looked fine but it's possible we had a bad batch of tires and they could have the same problems.

Then we ventured on to my nephew's birthday party where my creative sister put together an amazing Pokemon bash with more than 25 kids, a handful of rare live Pokemon running through the neighborhood (in colorful leggings) and kids chasing them down with a giant pokeball.

It was so much fun that the van troubles faded away.

A very rare Pokemon card ;)
Cute birthday nephew as Ash Ketchum
Cute niece as Pikachu 

For a YouTube video from the party, you can click this link. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

The first tire and a possessed rest stop toilet

A week ago today we left on our vacation.
(Hammy was trying to sleep so time would pass quickly to get to Grandma and Papa's faster.)

The van started shaking about 30 minutes from home.

We called the company that did our brakes three days prior and asked if they thought it was brake related.  

After asking several questions, they determined it to be a bad tire and asked us to look at it and see if it was visibly uneven.  

Their shop was closing right then but they invited us to come back in the morning and they'd take a look.  He also said we could switch out the tire for the spare, drive to Utah, and get a new one there.

We stopped at the Oriental marketplace half an hour later to pick up a few important things for our trip like seaweed, rice crackers, dried ice cream, and kimchi for Papa.

Danny got out while I shopped and checked out the tire.  It was definitely bulging.   He was able to locate a little tire place that was just about to close. They promised to wait for us to get there.

The tire shop guys watched in amazement, their eyes getting bigger, as I unloaded the kids from the van.  

They replaced the tire saying it would've blown out at any moment and we were really lucky to notice the shaking in time.

We loaded up the kids and continued on our trip.  

***The remaining post may cause unsettling feelings and disturbing images in your head.  Proceed with caution.***

The van started shaking again around 2 a.m.  It wasn't as bad as before and we half-wished it was just wind or the bumpy road causing it.

We finally stopped at a rest stop to use the bathroom.   I noticed a dozen mature termites on the floor of the rest stop bathroom as I walked in and dead flies around the toilet.  {{icky shiver}}

I was SO thankful to see there were toilet seat covers available.

While doing my business, the toilet automatically flushed grabbing my toilet seat cover.  Fearing I'd get splattered with the toilet water, and not thinking things through, I stood up a little mid-stream.

The toilet continued to flush and in the process, apparently, I peed my britches.

So I removed my undergarments and tried to exit the stall. 

No.  such.  luck.  I was locked in.  The toilet eerily continued to flush over and over again.  

I smacked the door.  The toilet flushed.  I yelled out for help.  The toilet flushed.

I recalled every vampire flick I'd ever seen and found myself wondering if rest stops were an ideal hunting place.

Finally, with a desperate plea in my heart, I got the stall door to let me out and I bolted out of there commando.