Sunday, August 31, 2014

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This soup is amazing.  Everyone always loves it.  It reminds me of cool fall nights and since it is almost fall it seemed like the perfect day to make it.  Almost fall is almost as good as fall.  Almost!  
I have been enjoying going through my fall stash and slowly decorating the house with it.  I am looking forward to days getting dark sooner and cool nights.  
I love watching the leaves change colors.  I snapped a picture last year of leaves that have fallen on the ground and the colors were beautiful.  It didn't seem real.  I had never seen such beauty.  Hues of pinks and reds were mesmerizing.  
I was at the store today and the cashier actually said she hates fall!  She used the word hate!  I felt sorry for her.
I hope you enjoy this soup....maybe I should bring that cashier some??

Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • 4-5 uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 (15 oz) can Rotel with green chile, undrained
  • 1 (10 oz) can red enchilada sauce
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 corn tortillas, cut into strips (tortillas will dissolve into soup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup frozen corn or 2-3 fresh corn off the cob
  • 1 box chicken broth (or use water you poached chicken in)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder or taco seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, black beans, onion, green chiles, corn and garlic into pot. Pour in chicken broth and add corn tortillas. Season with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil and then turn heat down to a low simmer for 1 hour.  Stirring occasionally.
  2. When fully cooked, pull chicken out and shred. Place back inside pot. 
Toppings for soup:

  1. slice corn tortilla into strips and shallow fry in oil. Sprinkle with seasoning salt.
  2. shredded jack cheese
  3. diced avocado
  4. diced green onions 
  5. chopped cilantro
  6. lime juice
  7. sour cream

Here is that picture I was telling you about!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Oreo Cookie Cupcakes

My kids really enjoy Oreo cookie anything.  I rarely buy Oreos, so it is a big deal to them when I do.
Oreo cookie cupcakes is one of their favorite ways to eat cupcakes.  This time we were baking with a purpose.  In the same week we had a close friend of ours lose their sister to cancer, another friend's husband had surgery and a friend moved away, so we decided to make something special to show our love.  It is a small thing in comparison.  However, bringing the cupcakes over to the friend who lost his sister gave us a chance to talk and more importantly just to listen.  This small gesture of an idea that my kids had brought a little happiness to others.

Oreo Cookie Cupcakes
  • 1 box chocolate pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup sour cream 
  • Oreo cookie of your choice (I used chocolate creme filled Oreos).
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. 
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, pudding mix and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add sour cream. Add the eggs one at a time, stir in the vanilla. 
  5. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk; beat well. 
  6. Place one Oreo on bottom of cupcake liner.  Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full.
  7. Bake for 15  minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. 
  8. Frost with your favorite frosting (or try mine) when cool.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 package of cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Mix until light and fluffy.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 package of cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
Mix until light and fluffy.

Crush Oreos in baggie and sprinkle on top of frosted cupcakes.
~store in fridge~

After frosting cupcakes, crush Oreos and use as topping on frosted cupcakes.

Sprinkle cookie crumbs on frosted cupcake.

Place cookie in cup cake liner before adding cake batter.

Add cake batter. 

Bake at 350 for 15 mins.

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Secrets of Sloane House {Giveaway and 30% off coupon}

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To win your very own copy of Secrets of Sloane House follow me on Twitter.

Shelley Gray is a best selling author of Sisters of the Heart, Seasons of Sugarcreek, and Families of Honor series and has written over 40 books.    
Secrets of Sloane House debuted on July 29, 2014.  She is well known for writing about the Amish. 
" I wanted to write stories about regular. likable people in extraordinary situations-and who just happened to be Amish." Shelley states in describing her writing preference. 

Secrets of Sloan House is a historical fiction book about the 1893 World’s Fair.  A young woman finds employment with an illustrious Chicago family—a family who may guard the secret of her sister’s disappearance.  What I find most interesting in historical books is the language and how much it has changed.  These words become practically obsolete today such as a shepherdesses and lapel as written in her book.

Family Christian  carries a wide variety of Shelley Gray books including 

This post contains affiliate links and I may receive compensation.  However, these are my own honest opinions.

Family Christian has great deals all the time and right now you can use this promo code SUNSHINE for 30% off regularly-priced items.

30% off entire purchase of regularly-priced items with coupon code SUNSHINE

I was not monetarily compensated for this post. Family Christian Stores sent me this book in exchange for my review. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

So You Think You Can Homeschool?

The quick answer is no.  You thought I was going to say yes, every mom should, every mom can, only good moms do, it is trending to homeschool.  You want to be trendy.  You want to be a good mom.  You want to be like all the other moms...right??  Well...guess what???  You already are a good mom!  And you are not trying to win a popularity contest. You are trying to raise your babies into functioning adults in this crazy world on this wild ride.

Recently I have had several friends take the plunge to homeschool.  Some are old friends from back home and some are new friends in my new home and I have to admit I get excited. 
Planning to homeschool is just that, a plan, a calling...really.  Sometimes the Lord calls you to homeschool before you even have kids and other times your child is in high school.  You may not be called to homeschool your children at all.  Listening to the Holy Spirit and following His plan for your family is what makes homeschooling right for your family.  

As moms we are so passionate about our babies.  It does not matter if they are in kindergarten  or a senior in college...they are our babies!  We moms need to stick together and support each other.  We can not put our convictions on other people.  I learned that early on in my walk with God.  I tried to fit all these "mom molds" I saw around me.  I wanted to be a good mom so I tried to live with other people's convictions.  Well, you can imagine how that went?? 

I prayed and asked God what he wanted for my family.  And surprise!!  It was not the same as your family. I found peace in that knowing God has a plan for my family, a specific plan.  

I have had it on my heart to homeschool since I was pregnant with my first baby.  However, we have experienced traditional school for a couple years.  It only proved that my family's plan did not include public/private school.

So....that's nice for you but what about me??  I say PRAY!  PRAY!!  PRAY!!  

Planning to homeschool can be overwhelming but if you build a support system around you and take it day by day, it can be done.  Having a plan is great, however, be ready for plans to change and to know that it will be ok.  I am a planner.  I like to know what I am going to teach my kids, field trips on the calendar and  to-do lists with daily chores and errands made out.  Does that mean it all gets done???  HA!  I laugh at the idea!!

Sneak peak...

I'll stop there.  You get the point.  It is not picture perfect.  It all gets done.  The kids help and the husband does all the hard chores and then some.  My point is don't think only your house looks like that.  Having a clean house is great and necessary to function properly but the real precious gems live in your house, it is not the house itself.

Planning can sound painful to some moms.  For some moms this is a nightmare.  The thought of planning and getting curriculum (if you use one) can feel daunting. You might even wait until the last minute to get things together.  For others who love to organize (that's me), we thrive off the excitement a new book brings and a new beginning.  It is these moms who need to learn to go with the flow when all that planning flies out the window as the weeks of school progress and life has a way of changing plans.

Whether or not the planning process is enjoyable to you, let's go over a few things to get started.

Remember when I said pray??  That is the first step to planning.  Ask God what he wants from you and how to use you this school year.  God knows you, your husband and children more than anyone SO pray!  Pray for wisdom and patience (you'll need it).

You can only do so much!!  I'm going to be blunt!  You can not do it all.  Your kids can not do it all.  Your husband can not do it all.  Say no!  Yes....say no!  I have learned this the hard way.  There is freedom and power in saying no.  Yes, feelings will get hurt and maybe friends will pull away but you know what?  O'well!!  True friends and I mean true friends who love you know matter what will still love you after saying no. You will be a better mom and your family will appreciate it.  

Say no!!  This is not a typo.  You need to hear it again.  I know you want to join 42 co-ops and have the kids play 28 instruments and be in the play and be in sports and have a job (phew).......I am that way.  I get excited and I want my kids to have a rich and full life.  I want them to have a good time but you can't do it all and you sure can't have it all.  It is much better for us to teach our kids contentment and independence than it is to have every minute of every day accounted for.  Let them be bored.  Let them figure out how to entertain themselves.  They won't die. I promise.

You will fail, you will succeed.    God is in control and cares about every aspect of your life. There is so much information out there.  The internet alone has it all.  The library, conferences and talking with friends provides a wealth of information and that is a good thing.  You will build lesson plans and buy books and some will work and some will flop.  There will be school days where everything feels right, euphoria oozing from the walls and then there will be other days where if a bomb hit your house that would have made it a good day.  

Set goals.  What is important to you and your husband when it comes to your child's character and technical abilities and academics?   Talk with your husband. Ask your kids.  Write them down.  It can and will change as your kids grow up, so revisit it from time to time.  Make lists, write in journals and use a calendar.  It will help clear your mind and you will rest better at the end of the day.

Here are a few things that are important to my family:
  • character
  • personal hygiene
  • life skills
  • problem solvers 
  • ability to self teach
  • reading, writing, leadership, etc
  • independence
  • hard working
  • selfless heart
God takes care of all of the details and He will takes care of yours as you dedicate them to His care.  The dividends you will reap in homeschooling cannot be measured. 

Bible verses to get you through your day, week, life...

Romans 8:28 - And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Matthew 19:26 - But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Deuteronomy 31:8 It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Thursday, August 21, 2014

(Not From a Can) Refried Beans

Because Mexican food is my absolute favorite food in the whole wide world, I make it a lot at home.  We eat Mexican food a few times a week.  I make refried beans often.  I use to be intimidated by the thought of preparing refried beans but once I made it, I realized how easy it was. I make a big batch and leave it in the fridge.  The kids like to make themselves nachos or burritos for lunch.  I like having fresh food on hand for them to help themselves.  When we buy processed foods from the store, we don't always know what we are getting.  This recipe has only a few simple ingredients and you know what's in it because you made it!  It cost less too!!

(Not From a Can) Refried Beans
  • 2 cups uncooked pinto beans
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup bacon drippings 
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2-3 jalapenos or serrano chiles, sliced 
  • salt to taste


~Rinse beans and check for debris. 
~Place beans in a large pot and fill with water. 
~Add bay leaves. 
~Bring beans to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 2 hours. 
  If water level gets low, replace with more hot water. 
~When beans are soft, remove bay leaves and heat a large pan with    bacon drippings. 
~Cook the jalapenos or serrano chiles until browned. 
~Using a slotted spoon, add in 1/2 cup of beans and mash with a potato masher or use your food processor (if you have one).
~If the mixture seems thick, add a tablespoon of the cooking liquid   from the beans.
~Continue to add beans and mash them together, adding liquid if    needed. 
~Add garlic powder and salt to taste. 


S'mores Marshmallow Pops

I made S'mores Marshmallow Pops for my homeschool group recently.  Since the kids were going to be busy with different projects, I wanted them to have a treat they could just grab and go! 

We planned a planting party/potluck to kick-off our new school year.  One of the families in our group has a small farm that includes chickens and bees and a garden. We let the kids hold the baby chicks and get eggs from the coop. We took a short walk to where the bee's homes were and had a short lesson on the life of bees.  We planted carrots, beets and sweet potatoes.  In a few months we will plan another party, only this time we will be harvesting what we planted.

These treats were perfect for the kids to snack on while the dad's were grilling! 

S'mores Marshmallow Pops


  • Regular Marshmallows
  • 1 package chocolate melting Candy Wafers
  • Crushed graham crackers 
  • Lollipop Sticks or if you ran out like I did, use wooden skewers.


~Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.

~Dip the very tip of the lollipop stick into the melted chocolate, then stick that end of the stick into the marshmallow. 

~Dip the marshmallow in the chocolate to coat it. 

~Sprinkle the crushed graham cracker over the chocolate. 

~Stick them into that green, foamy, florist stuff or poke holes in a box (like I did).

Quick tip~~Dipping the stick in chocolate and then marshmallow will keep the marshmallow from slipping off.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

G-free Cereal Peanut Butter Bars

In 3 easy steps you can make these G-free Cereal Peanut Butter Bars for a quick snack or dessert.  I substituted corn syrup for brown rice syrup and puffed rice cereal for the traditional Rice Krispy cereal. My favorite cereal to use for this recipe is the puffed rice or rice flakes.  I like the texture and crunch is gives these extremely chewy bars.  I eat peanut butter almost every day one way or another and this is a great recipe for a quick peanut butter fix.

G-Free Cereal Peanut Butter Bars
  1. Melt 1 cup all natural peanut butter (crunchy), 1/2 brown rice syrup (or corn syrup), 1/2 sugar, 1/2 package large marshmallows.
  2. Mix in 4 cups puffed rice cereal (or any rice cereal such as Chex, Rice Krispies or Rice Flakes).  Mix thoroughly.  Spread into a 8x12 pan.
  3. Melt 6oz of chocolate and with an off set spatula spread chocolate over cooled bars.
~ This is a g-free recipe.
~ Add chopped nuts like pecans and walnuts.
~ Sprinkle with chocolate chips, M & M's or sprinkles.

I replaced corn syrup with brown rice syrup and puffed rice cereal in place of Rice Krispies.

My daughter and I wanted to celebrate fall a little early by decorating these treats with fall colored sprinkles.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Double Layer Banana Cream Pie

I had all these ingredients on hand and needed a dessert for my daughter and her friend who were planning a girl's evening together.
My daughter's all time favorite dessert is banana cream pie.  I have made it so many different ways but never like this before....using both a traditional crust and vanilla wafers together.  So many desserts are being combined lately like the cookie-brownie, so I wanted to join in on the trend.


1 prepared pie crust or homemade (I used pre-made)

2 1/2 cups  cold milk
1 pkg. (large box) Jello-O Banana Flavor Instant Pudding
20 vanilla wafers
2 bananas, sliced
1 tub  Cool Whip Whipped Topping, thawed

  • Bake pie crust until golden brown, cool.
  • Prepare pudding mix according to box directions.
  • Add 1 sliced bananas and  10 wafers to bottom of pie crust.
  • Spread half of pudding over bananas and wafers.
  • Add the second sliced banana and the last 10 wafers over pudding.
  • In a small bowl, mix 1/2 the Cool Whip with the other 1/2 of  pudding, then spread over second layer of sliced bananas and wafers.
  • Spread remaining Cool Whip over pudding mixture.
  • Refrigerate for 2 hours.
~~optional~~ crush about 5-6 wafers and sprinkle on top with a few slices of bananas

Creamy deliciousness !!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Family Christian Bookstore: Back to School Sale~Promo code

30% off entire purchase of regularly-priced items at Family Christian with coupon code SCHOOL.
Expires August 17, 2014

It's tradition in our house to start the new school year with new school supplies and small gifts.  This year I will be taking advantage of the coupon at Family Christian.


This post contains affiliate links and I may receive compensation.  However, these are my own honest opinions.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

MOM'S NIGHT OUT : We All Need One Every Once in a While

Mom's Night Out was the perfect movie to watch with friends. We laughed and we cried as we identified ourselves with the characters in the movie.

This is a  faith-based message and hysterically funny comedy that your whole family will enjoy! All Allyson and her friends want is a peaceful, grown-up evening of dinner and conversation—a long-needed moms' night out. But in order to enjoy high heels, adult conversation and food not served in a paper bag, they need their husbands to watch the kids for three hours—what could go wrong?

 You can order Mom's Night Out from Family Christian bookstore now!

click here

This post contains affiliate links and I may receive compensation.  However, these are my own honest opinions.

This is my day ....I wake up, I pray or at least I try to pray and then my mind says "Don't forget today you need to do this." and then I pray again and then my mind says "Oh...and this and this and this, too".  

I wrap up my prayer and as my feet hit the ground I wonder if my feet and my eyes and my brain will be in agreement with each other??  They rarely are and today is no different.  

Here is how this looks...
My eyes told me there is a pile of clean laundry that needs to be folded so I head that way. As I am folding towels...millions of brain reminds me that my oldest needs to be woken up as I have not seen him this morning, yet (we need to get some school done before he goes to work).  I run upstairs to wake him up and to my surprise he is up and making his bed (insert proud mommy moment).  

We get to talking about breakfast and I go back downstairs and there is my husband, hungry husband, so I begin to make breakfast.  
While making breakfast, my feet interrupt me and take me into the sun room, also known as the school room.  I find myself in front of my computer because my brain reminds me I have to take the kids to the dentist and I have no idea where this place is.  I start googling the address.  As I am getting the address, I decide to answer some emails and FB messages.

My nose reminds me that I am cooking breakfast and my feet take me back to the kitchen and my ears hear my kids asking school questions..."Do I have to do (insert school assignment)?"  "Can I just do this instead?"  "Can we go here or there?"

My oldest says "I am ready for work now."  So, I hop in the car and drop him off.  After dropping of my oldest, my other children remind me that the library books are due, so we make a quick stop at the library.

I'm back home now.
It's 10:23am.
I'm hungry (Yes, I made breakfast. No, I didn't eat breakfast).
It's gonna be a long day.

This might sound like complaining, but it's not!  

I wouldn't change a thing...well...maybe a few things. 

This is why we need a mom's night out.  This organized chaos we call family is the main reason we moms need each other! 

Some days are crazier than others but in the end all is well.  Mom's need a break.  We need girlfriends to love us even when we are unlovable.  Our kids aren't perfect, our marriages aren't perfect and we are not perfect, 
but we want to be accepted and appreciated 
and we want a mom's night out!!!! 

Here is another very real response from my friend regarding Mom's Night Out.

Grasping For the Wind — A Response to “Mom’s Night Out”

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I recently became a Family Christian bookstore blogger and I am excited to promote these books sold at Family Christian.  I am a long time customer and have practically made field trips out of shopping there with my kids.  
There is an affordable variety of products to choose from such as books, Bibles, DVDs, music, gifts and children's items as well.  

These books are available online for purchase and they are on sale!

This post contains affiliate links and I may receive compensation. However, these are my own honest opinions.

In LIVING COURAGEOUSLY, Joyce Meyer explains how, as Christians, we can overcome the paralyzing power of fear by calling upon the Lord. "Fear not" is written throughout the Bible. God knows His children will be confronted with fear, but He can help us resist it. 

In YOU CAN, YOU WILL, Joel Osteen identifies the eight irrefutable traits and attributes of highly successful people. These personal qualities are tested through the ages and all types of circumstances. 

click here
Pre-Buy You Can You Will by Joel Osteen

Based on the major themes found on the most active Facebook page in history, Jesus Daily is a 365-day interactive devotional that goes beyond even the fan page to create a deeper experience and cultural movement that celebrates your redemption in Christ.

click here
Pre-Buy Jesus Daily: 365 Interactive Devotions by Aaron Tabor

A sweeping epic set in the harsh deserts of Arabia and ancient Palestine.
A war that rages between kingdoms on the earth and in the heart.
The harrowing journey of the woman at the center of it all.
Step back in time to the year of our Lord...A.D. 30.

click here
Pre-Buy AD 30 by Ted Dekker

 ~Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Swiffer Wet Jet Refills – You Can Save Money By Making Your Own Cleaning Solution.

  I use my Swiffer Wet Jet mop everyday! In my opinion it is one of the best inventions...EVER!  What I don't like is the cost and the chemicals used in the cleaning solution. I saw that a friend of mine pinned the idea of refilling the bottle  and I wondered if it would work, so I put it to the test.  I was skeptical at first, but to my delight it worked!  

If you want to reuse your Swiffer Wet Jet bottle and refill it with your favorite floor cleaner, YOU CAN!  After the bottle was empty, I refilled it with equal parts water and vinegar.  Vinegar is my #1 cleaning solution.  Refilling your Swiffer bottle will help save money and if you use vinegar, you are not cleaning with any harsh chemicals.  I try not to use chemicals as much as possible when cleaning my house.

Here is how I did it....

Boil water.  Submerge cap for about 20 seconds or so.

Twist cap off.

Make and add solution.

1/2 water

1/2 white distilled vinegar
 few drop of your favorite essential oil (optional)

Tightly twist cap back on bottle.

I am currently working on some ideas on how to use reusable clothes for the Swiffer mop. I am going to try using  old socks next time.  Any other ideas?

Check out all the wonderful uses of vinegar from one of my favorite sites.