Friday, August 30

30 by 30- August

Blog Related:::
1. Host a blog give away DONE. I held 1 in early June to celebrate my 250th post. Yay!
2. Host a guest post. DONE. For World Breast Feeding week I "interviewed" a friend, Ruth Nelson. Read about it here.
3. Keep up on blog series I have started (Happy Homemaker Monday, 2 on 2 & Pinterest Projects) So Far, So Good!

Home Related:::
4. Organize & de-clutter every room in the house month by month (Ex: May= our master bedroom, June= Cora's room, July= Living room etc.) The rooms are coming along and it feels great to be decluttering & organizing.
5. Make several different household products. I tested several ways to clean w vinegar here is Part 1 and Part 2 & made Foaming Hand Soap.
6. Cook something for my freezer at least once a week. This month: Peaches, cookie dough, 6 dinners, 11 individual burritos, &  PB&J
7. Have a garage sale. DONE. Happened in April. I made about $70
8. Add 'curb appeal' to our home (shrubs,grass, flowers, stone work etc.)
9. Plant something I've never planted in my garden. DONE.We planted strawberries!
10. Hang an outside clothes line

Family Related:::
11. Go on a few dates w/ Kenny. Anniversary dinner, Dish in July
12. Plan a Shipshewana, IN trip. We went mid-August when I was home for a week! So much fun!
13. Plan something special for Ken's 30th birthday (September)
14. Document the year through pictures/Be more intentional w/ new camera
15. Take girls to the zoo. DONE.We went for Father's day.
16. Teach Cora the the letters of the alphabet
17. Open saving accounts for girls
18. Get back on track using coupons, price matching, staying w/i our weekly grocery budget So Far, So Good
19. Go on a family vacation DONE. WE WENT TO FLORIDA FOR 11 DAYS IN MARCH!

For Me:::
20. Lose baby weight (I'll do this slowly b/c I'm nursing. I will not start a crazy diet plan. My plan is simple: eat healthy, walk & give it time!) Work in Progress- 4 lbs. to my pre-pregnancy weight!
21. Treat myself to a manicure OR pedicure. DONE. Went w/ some friends in May
22. Do something totally different with my hair
23. Do something special for my 30th birthday
24. Create & implement a daily cleaning schedule (I have seen tons of these online but none work for me. I need a personalized one)
25. Start journaling my bible reading time. Started in May w/ 1 John, worked by way through 1,2,3 John & now I am in 1 Peter. I am following Priscilla Shirer's 5 Ps of bible study.

For Others:::
26. Do something neighborly for at least 2 of my neighbors. We took Key Lime Cookies to our neighbors Jim & Rose & we also delivered a dozen sweet corn to another neighbor.
27. Get more involved in our Preschool program at church Work in Progress
28. Teach at least 1 friend how to pressure and/or water bath can (Who wants this to be them?!?!) During my Indiana Trip I pressure canned beans w/ my mom.  But I think she may need another lesson!
29. Be a bell ringer for Salvation Army during the Christmas season (I wanted to do this this past Christmas but thought of it too late & couldn't get it scheduled)
30. Act out at least 3 random acts of kindness (No plan for this- I will wait for the Holy Spirit to guide me)

Thursday, August 29

Why I am Anti-Aldi... least during this phase of life!

I don't like to blog my complaints. But I thought this post might be helpful and/or maybe you might have comments/tips that could change my mind? So leave me a comment if you disagree w my opinions of Aldi!
On Monday, I decided to give Aldi another try. Oy, just as I thought, I have determined the store designed to simplify grocery shopping only gives me headaches.

-Shopping carts: Since Evie was sleeping in her seat, I had to carry her seat & hold Cora's hand, across the parking lot to even get to the carts. Then put the everything on the ground to do the quarter deposit. (I had thought ahead & had Cora hold the quarter before we unloaded from the van. Thankfully, she didn't drop it in the parking lot)  I loaded both girls in the cart & in we went.
-Limited variety: So, I still had to go another store. (In the winter months or rainy days loading & unloading the girls is a chore in itself let alone more than one time)
-Prices weren't much cheaper: With the exception of milk being .61 cheaper than what I normally pay. I did buy a few other items: lettuce @ .99, bananas @ .44lb, cinnamon bread @ 1.99, English muffins @ .99, & toilet paper @ 4.99. (But w coupons and/or sales I can get these prices at any store)
-Public bathrooms?: I don't think they do but I'm not sure. Cora had to potty but we were almost finished & instead of asking/going on a search I made her wait until we got to Walmart.
-Cash or debit only!: Not a deal breaker but we pay w everything on our credit card bc we have an excellent rewards program.
-Bring your own bags: I actually like to use my own bags. Saves on waste & they hold more. But when you have to walk a good distance to get to your grocery cart, bags are just 1 more thing to carry. And if you forget bags you have to purchase them.
-Pack my own groceries. Again, not a deal breaker just more of a pain. Bc I had 2 kids in the cart the cashier had to stuff my groceries anywhere they would fit. So, when I went to pack them I had to reach under Evie's seat & lift her seat to reach the items.
-Returning the cart: First, I always return my cart. No matter the store, quarter deposit or not- But to do that I normally park a close distance to the cart corral. But at Aldi I had to load girls in van, then load groceries & bc I am a super paranoid mom, LOCK the van, walk across the lot, return my cart & get back my *prized* quarter!

This list might seem silly. Each bullet point is minor & none would cause me to stop shopping at a store. But all of these together is what make my experience at Aldi not worth it! Sure there are things at Walmart, Target & Kroger that annoy me. But maybe just 1 thing at each store.
 Keep in mind, I do my grocery shopping during the week, taking the girls w me & I acknowledge that this is a big part factor in my opinions.

After all that; let me say:
The store was clean
The aisles were big to fit their fantastically large carts
The cashier was friendly & fast

Wednesday, August 28

Pinterest Projects- Cinnamon Swirl pancakes & Bath paints

I tried 2 "pins" from Pinterest this week. 1 a flop 1 a success!
Have you seen that perfect picture floating around Facebook of cinnamon swirl pancakes? Looks so so yummy! Well I made them Saturday morning. They were a FLOP! (Pun intended ;)
  1. The recipe would feed an army, which is NOT what my family is
  2. Wayyyy too sweet & I even left off the "cream cheese icing"
  3. The recipe says to add the cinnamon filling then to flip the pancake. When I did that the cinnamon filling seeped out & burned all over the pan.
Although Cora love them, I will not be making these again!
The second idea I got from Pinterest was bath paints! Cora absolutely loved these. As she was helping me mix up the paints she said "Mommy, I just LOVE you!" about 5 times :) It took no time to make 3 colors & well worth her excitement. She had a great time using them during bath time & to my surprise they weren't as messy as I expected. This batch will last us awhile but when they are out I will defiantly make these again for lil Miss MaeMae!
1/4 c. corn starch
1-2 tbsp water
food coloring, a few drops
1/4 c. shampoo or body wash
-Mix in order given. Store in a baby food jar or a container similar in size. (The recipe makes about 3/4c. total)

Monday, August 26

Happy Homemaker Monday

The weather::: Ewww, its too hot!

On my reading pile::: Being a Great Moms Raising Great Kids by Sharon Jaynes

On the menu for this week:::
Monday - Hamburgers & grilled veggies
Tuesday - BBQ chicken pizza- Grilled
Wednesday - Mexican Lasagna
Thursday - Hot dogs at a baseball game :)

Today's To Do list:::
  • Grocery store
  • Phone calls
  • Some Pampered Chef stuff
My "project" of the week Month::: Get ready for garage sale!!!

What I plan to cook for my freezer::: Maybe some baby food but not much this week bc I added several items last week!

Looking around the house::: Evie is still sleeping. Cora is watching cartoons (what else is new?). Folded laundry on the couch that needs to be put away.

Highlight of the past weekend::: Cookout w/ friends on Saturday evening

Looking forward to this week::: A trip to IN :)

Bible verse, Devotional::: This coming weekend is when I am shaving me head! This verse is perfect!!!
"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight." -1 Peter 3:3-4
 From the camera:::
Looking so big these days
MM doing craft time w her prized GLUE!

Friday, August 23

Friday's Freezer Friendly- PB &J?!?!

Yes, I am posting about freezing PB &J!
Have you seen these "Uncrustables" in the store? Seems so silly to me to BUY premade Pb&j!
But I did think that making ahead & freezing pb&j might work great for this household. See, it takes me awhile to use a whole loaf of bread before it goes bad. So, I got out Pampered Chef's Cut N Seal & decided to give "Uncrustables" a try!
Sidenote: Originally, I did not want to cave to Cora's level & remove the crust. But then I decided, "I don't care if she doesn't eat the crust. What's the big deal? It's what 3 year olds do. Plus, she eats A LOT of things other kids won't touch. If cutting the crust off makes her feel special, I'm happy to do it!"

Aren't these cute? I wrapped each one in a sandwhich bag & then put them all in a gallon freezer bag.
(If you need the recipe, you're in trouble! HAHA!)

Thursday, August 22

A Garden of Joy

I recently found this in a book I am reading. I thought it was perfectly-cute. (I like to make up my own words)
I hope you planted several of these, if not all, in your garden this year & I hope you are tending to it. Happy "Gardening"!

For a Garden of Joy:
First, plant 5 rows of Peas;
Promptness and

Plant 3 rows of Squash:
Squash Gossip
Squash Criticism
Squash indifference

5 rows of Lettuce:
Let us be faithful to duty
Let us be unselfish
Let us be truthful
Let us follow Christ
Let us love one another

No garden is complete w/o Turnips:
Turn up for church
Turn up w a smile
Turn up w new ideas
Turn up w determination to make everything count as good and worthwhile.
-Author Unknown


Wednesday, August 21

Pizza on the GRILL

Quick & easy recipe to use tomatoes & basil from your garden. Also, great that it can be made quickly & all outside on the GRILL!

Chicken Pesto Pizza
1 chicken breast, cooked & chopped (I grill mine)
1 pizza crust (Ex: Pilsbury refrigerated, Boboli, or homemade)
1- 1 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 1/2 c. fresh basil
1/4 c. nuts, toasted (Ex: walnuts, pecans, pine nuts)
1/4- 1/3 c. olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Roma tomatoes

-Add basil, nuts, olive oil, garlic & salt to a food processor a pulse until finely chopped.
-Brush 1 tbsp olive oil on bottom of crust. Then place crust on Pampered Chef's BBQ pizza pan. 
-Sprinkle a small amount of the cheese on the crust. 
-Add the Pesto & chicken to a bowl & toss until chicken is coated. Add to the pizza crust
-Top w tomatoes & remaining cheese
-Grill on low-medium heat about 10 minutes or until cheese is melty! Be sure to check the bottom of the crust to make sure it isn't scorching.
-Garnish w additional fresh basil.

Tuesday, August 20

Spooky Stories

In June, I helped my mom clean & organize her attic. I came across a tote of children's books that I read as a kid. Funny, how a book I had forgotten all about can bring back memories...

Mom said I should take them for Cora instead of packing them back in the attic. I made a disclaimer that the 25+ yr old books might not survive long in my house. I brought about 10 books home but knew the 2 "SPOOKY" Berenstain Bears books would be the biggest hit w Cora. For several months prior she had been wanting me to tell her "Spooky" stories. Since we didn't have any books, I just made stories up.

So for weeks now I have been reading the following 2 books to her every night! Over n over n over n over.....Yea, her & I both know them by heart.  Although, I am getting bored w these 2 books I Wouldn't trade these moments w her.

Monday, August 19

Happy Homemaker Monday

The weather::: HOT. 90s. I'm not ready for those kinds of temps again!

On my reading pile::: Nothing on top of my bible reading

On the menu for this week:::
Monday - Mac N Cheese
Tuesday - Chicken Pesto pizza on the grill
Wednesday - Not sure. I'll probably just swipe from freezer cooking meals that I'll be doing all day. (See below)
Thursday - Shredded Chicken tacos
Friday - Penne Marinara & Fried Green Tomatoes
Saturday - Family cookout at a friend's
Sunday - Chicken w/ Veggies & Cous Cous

Today's To Do list:::
  • Not too much today. I have an additional toddler here today!
  • Finish Laundry
  • Pay Verizon bill
  • Call for window estimates
My "project" of the week Month::: I have another garage sale on my calendar for mid- September. So I am planning on quickly going through the house, room by room for items to sell! :)

What I plan to cook for my freezer::: I am getting together w a friend on Wednesday to do some freezer cooking. We are preparing several meals w/ ground beef: Burritos, Swedish meatballs, Stuffed green peppers, Shepard's pie filling & possibly beef barley soup.

Looking around the house::: Girls in pjs watching cartoons.

Highlight of the past weekend::: Getting caught up on things since being on vacation. Evie sleeping better. Our bike ride. Ah, it was a good weekend :)

Looking forward to this week::: Freezer cooking w/ my friend, Stacy & a cookout on Saturday!

Bible verse, Devotional::: I can think of several of my friends that this verse applies to!
"Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you." - 3 John 1:5

From the camera:::
Now that is Precious cargo! In the bike cart, ready to GO!

Evie thinking she is big stuff bc she now sits in the grocery cart

Friday, August 16

Indiana Trip

I am back from my Indiana trip! Phew- I was busy! 2 years ago I posted here about an Indiana trip consisting of canning & preserving. I think I was even more busy this year....maybe the fussy 7 mo old had something to do with that?!?!?
The trip started off w a BANG at the Indiana State Fair! Ken's sister graciously offered us to stay at her house for 2 nights & we visited the fair all day Saturday, August 3rd. The kids had so much fun! The Indiana State fair has become a tradition for the Stoner family :)
Sunday Jackie, me & the girls loaded up in our van & headed to Valpo while Ken went back to Peoria for work.
Monday I took my friend, Jenna, to her first chemo treatment. She is fighting her battle against breast cancer like a warrior. (This is why there is a "Donate to Jenna" tab at the top right of the page)
Tuesday & Wednesday I processed 3 bushels (yes, 6 half bushels) of Peaches! Ah, my absolute favorite thing to preserve! Visit this post on how to freeze peaches. I froze a bunch, canned halves, canned peach salsa & peach butter. I also put up 20lbs of blueberries & approximately 20 qts of sweet corn.
Thursday my mom, sister-in-law, her girls & me & my girls spent the day in Shipshewana, IN aka Amish Country! I love going- we never  seem to have enough time though! We spent about 2 hours in a bulk food store. And honestly I could have stayed longer ;)
Friday & Saturday I prepared for a Pampered Chef show!
All & All it was a great week! Looking forward to next year!
In front of the beloved Dairy Barn

Cora's favorite, the carousel

So glad they had each other

Cora's 1st elephant ear! She loved it!

Watching the sheep show w Daddy

On the trolley that took us all around the fairgrounds

Evie had dinner at Grandma Stoner's aka Gma Evie :) This picture is priceless to me!

Beautiful peaches

Cora had a blast w all of her IN cousins. Maybe too much fun "cleaning" the brownie pan?!?!

Shipshewana. Rise N Roll bakery! YUM!

Ooops, sorry Evie, just now realizing I cut you out of this picture!

My E & S goodies!

Thursday, August 15

Stuffed Green Peppers

Mexican Inspired Stuffed Green Peppers
3 medium-large green bell peppers, cut lengthways
1lb. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 c. black beans, rinsed
3/4 c. corn
1/2 c. uncooked rice
2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce, divided 
1 clove of garlic, smashed
Salt & pepper
Pepper Jack cheese

1. In a large stock pot bring aprox. 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the cut green peppers & simmer for about 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, brown ground beef & onion in a saute pan.
3. Add black beans, corn, rice, 1/2 c. water, 1 can of tomato sauce, garlic, cilantro, cumin, salt & pepper. Bring it to a boil, cover & simmer about 7 minutes.
5. Pour the 2nd can of tomato sauce in the bottom of the Deep Covered Baker. Sprinkle in salt & pepper to taste. Lay blanched green peppers in. Fill with the meat/rice mixture. Top w/ Pepper Jack cheese (Not pictured). Put lid on baker.
6. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes or until green peppers & rice are tender & cheese is melted! OR place in a crock pot & cook on high for 2 hours.

Tuesday, August 6

World Breastfeeding Week- I Support You

Thursday started World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) & the entire month of August is National Breastfeeding Month. Wohoo! B/c I am in the breastfeeding phase right now, I thought I should do at least 1 post on the subject!
I read this post from Mama by the Bay, did some research and now feel strongly about the message that this year's theme is portraying"I Support You". One mom to another, know that "I Support You" and will not judge you whatever your feeding choice/situation is: bottle feed, breastfeed, extended breastfeeding etc. To support this movement "Mama by the Bay" was asking for bloggers to interview another mom who fed differently than themselves. I loved the idea!

That being said I would like to introduce you to Ruth Nelson. She is a wife,  a SAHM to 5 children (with a set of twins), she has a successful Etsy shop where she does adorable work  & she blogs over at Addy Lou Creates.
I am inspired by Ruth & I knew she would have much to say about her experience feeding her babes. I was thankful she abolished to be my interviewee. Read about her experiences below:

1) Please share a brief summary of your feeding experience.
Each of my babies has brought a different experience. I am going to try and keep this short, but with five kids, I have had five completely different experiences with breastfeeding. I have breastfed at home, weddings, in the car, at restaurants, at church, tailgates, family events and even in Ross Aid Stadium at a Purdue football game. I am a person who keeps to themselves, but if my baby needed to be fed I was going to do it.
With my first child, Lucas, everything was new. First time mom, first time breastfeeding, first time EVERYTHING! He was difficult. He didn't latch on right, he wanted to eat all the time, he didn't sleep at night. I cried the first day my husband went back to work. Lucas had been up every hour on the hour wanting to eat all night long. After a couple weeks though, everything worked itself out and it was a fairly enjoyable experience until his teeth started coming in. I even managed to read all seven 'Harry Potter" books along with many others while nursing. He self weaned himself at 8 months. Lucas was the only child I exclusively breastfed. Although hindsight, I don't think I produced enough at night and that may have been the reason that kid never slept.
When my second baby, Emma, was born there were things I swore I was going to do differently. First being I was not going to use the nipple shield as I had with Lucas. It was a pain to deal with. Well that lasted all of a week, when I ended up with sores so bad that wearing a bra or showering was painful. I finally got that figured out just in time for us to move to Alabama when Emma was six weeks old. That adventure threw a whole new challenge in my way. Because of all the stress, I realized I was not producing enough. I could make it nursing all day, but would have nothing come the dinner and night time feedings. So I had to supplement. It worked, and it gave dad a little bonding time at night while I made dinner. She completely self weaned herself at six months.
When Dylan, our third baby came along sixteen months later, I again was all gung-ho on nursing. Unlike the other kids this pregnancy/birth had a little more stress involved with it. We had moved back to Indiana after a whirlwind year in Alabama, moved into a new house and my brother had just got married the week before Dylan made his grand entrance at 35 weeks. He was taken by an emergency c-section after 20 hours of labor, but had breathing issues and was taken to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) before I could even hold him. I tried pumping while in the hospital, and they gave him what I had pumped. His stay in the NICU lasted eight days. That was enough to screw up my nursing plans right there. I pumped at home and would bring it in, but it was not the same. When he did come home, he would nurse but still be crying for more right after. So again had to supplement. I made it to three months before I dried up on my own, while still nursing. Going completely to formula was hard decision to make but it saved me from worrying that he wasn't getting enough.
Now my fourth pregnancy brought a completely different experience. At 7 weeks we found out we were expecting TWINS. I was excited, scared and everything else in between. Not to mention I could not wrap my head around the idea of even attempting to breastfeed two babies. Once again these babies were born early, 34 weeks 5 days, but we had two healthy baby girls, Anna & Audrey. I tried nursing right after the c-section and both of them did pretty well. Anna developed some breathing and eating issues from being slightly early, and was sent to the NICU while Audrey stayed with me at the hospital. They both were tiny and the pediatrician was concerned about their weights. He wanted to know exactly how much they both were eating and when. So I set out to make breastfeeding work. I would switch every other feeding - giving one baby a bottle and nursing the other. But for Anna, since she wasn't gaining, the doctor wanted me to pump and add formula to make it a higher caloric value so she would gain a little faster, And then he wanted me to do it for Audrey after a while too. Pumping, breastfeeding and bottle feeding got old really quick. I felt like I wasn't leaving the chair. After about 2 months of desperately trying to make nursing work, things dried up on their own again. There just wasn't enough milk for two babies. So to the formula we went.

2) What was your original plan for feeding your child, and how did that compare to what you ultimately ended up doing?
See question 1

3) What was the best part about how you fed your child? What was the worst?
I liked nursing my kids. I loved the cuddles and the close bond that was formed. Now saying that, I did cuddle with my bottle fed babies too, it was a different type of cuddle though. I found that breastfeeding was very relaxing and slow. Where bottle feeding seemed fast sometimes. As our family grew, it was nice to be able to give a bottle and move around if I needed to. And with the twins, the older kids were able to feel like they had an important job helping Mommy feed the girls. Either way has had it hardships - issues nursing and not producing enough, problems with finding the right formula.

 4) What would help you (or would have helped you) to feel supported/understood in your choices?
My family played a big part in my decisions. I was very lucky to have a wonderful support system between my mom, sisters and aunts when it came to breastfeeding. I don't recall having any negative feelings from people about how I fed my babies. They needed to eat. And if my body was not doing what it needed, then really the only other choice was to supplement. And all my family has enjoyed be able to partake in the feedings.

5) Think ten, twenty years into the future. If you could give your grown child one message about how you chose to feed him/her, what would it be?
If I could successfully breastfeed I was going to do it. If I tried and couldn't then I wasn't going to beat myself up about it. I needed to feed my babies and help them grow. I love them and would do anything to help them grow and flourish!

Friday, August 2

2 on 2~ August

My little Miss Evelyn is 6.5 month old! I've started her on rice cereal, squash, carrots & green beans. She is sleeping horrible theses days; up at least 3x at night. She is proving to be just like her big sister & having a hard time with teething. {This too shall pass} She weighs an even 14lbs (8oz. smaller than Cora at this age). She is almost crawling, gets up on all fours & rocks but not on the move yet...

Cora Mae is my "big helper girl", as she likes to call herself! She has been enjoying the summer & all the trips to Indiana that we've been taking. She just loves her cousins. She likes to get herself ready in the morning as I wrote about in this post. I am not enrolling her in preschool this year b/c I am having too much fun w/ her being home w/ me. She's got the rest of her life to be in school, right? :)