Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What's Cookin' -Chicken Avocado Feta Salsa Wraps

These were intended to be chicken tacos, but tasted a lot more like a chicken wrap. The idea was inspired by this Martha Stewart recipe, but turned out nothing like the original recipe.  The idea for the salsa came from here (with a couple changes).  I originally made the salsa because I've been searching for ways to use up the feta cheese that we have.  I also made this for my daughter and since she didn't eat the whole avocado I had some leftover  We still had some cherry tomatoes from the garden.  This is what came of the idea for chicken tacos and the salsa.

Chicken Avocado Feta Salsa Wraps
1 avocado
1 cup cherry tomatoes (I think any kind of tomato will taste good)
2 oz to 3 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 green onion, chopped (any type of onion will work)
1 clove garlic, minced or chopped
1 to 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano (1 Tbsp fresh)
1 tsp dried parsley (1 Tbsp fresh)
1 to 2 Tbsp lime or lemon (fresh is best)
1 cup leftover chicken (or roast chicken -- follow Martha's directions here)
6 tortilla shells

1. Mix all ingredients except for chicken (and tortilla shells) together.  Be sure to put the lime or lemon juice directly on the avocado to prevent browning.
2. Let sit in fridge for 1 to 2 hours.
3. Steam tortilla shells and fill with chicken and salsa.  Yummy!!

Check out more great recipes at the Grocery Cart Challenge!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Surprise Box -- Sesame Street

Sesame Street was the theme for the last surprise box that we did.  Inside we had two stuffed animals, two matching games (directions for one here) and two books.  This was a super easy box to create -- we have tons of Sesame Street items.  Remember learning should be fun, so why not do activites that peak their interest.

Skills we worked on were listening, ABCs song, following directions,reading comprehension, memory recall, matching, enjoyment, working together.

To see more surprise box ideas, go here!

Waiting for it to ripen...

I had bought some avocados last week on Monday and wanted to make a really tasty salsa (to be posted Wednesday), but they were rock hard.  I had recently read that putting them in a brown paper bag helps to ripen them.  By Thursday they were good to eat.  My husband said that that works for tomatoes, too.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

JC Penny Deal

I thought I would share my latest JCPenny deal.  If you've been a reader for a while, you know I love to get great deals at JC Penny.  Last Sunday was the Friends and Family event that gave a 20 percent off coupon off entire purchase.  I also had a 15 percent off entire purchase coupon from taking a survey.  Guess what?  I was able to use both!  First the cashier run up the 20 percent coupon; then took the total from that and ran the 15 percent coupon through.

I bought curtains for my daughter's new room and some shirts for my husband for Christmas.

Here's what I bought:
  • 2 Sheer purple curtain panels: regular price $30 each, after discounts $13.59 each ($27.18)
  • 2 Sheer purple valances: regular price $20 each, these were buy one get one for 88 cents,  after discounts $7.10 ($14.20)
  • Graphic T-Shirt, regular price $26, after discounts $4.06
  • Dress Shirt, regular price $50, this was on the sales rack, after discounts $2.70 (and he has one just like already in different color that I snagged at another sale and he loves it)
  • 2 Dress shirts, regular price $30 each, again on the sales rack, after discounts $2.70 each ($5.40)

If I had paid regular price for everything it would have been $236.  Instead I only paid $56.47.  I can't even believe those prices.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What's Cookin' -- Shrimp and Tomato Pasta

I adapted this from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Magazine.  I changed it quite a bit, even the title.  We have come into a plethora of feta cheese given to my husband from one his customers.  So, I've been trying to find recipes that use feta.  If you have one, please pass it along.  I still have more than 60 oz of feta cheese in brine!

Shrimp and Tomato Pasta
Sauce (this makes double what is needed -- easily double the shrimp and pasta and you'll use the sauce up)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp oregano
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes

2 cups pasta (used shells, but any pasta will work)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 to 3 cups shrimp (depending on size you use)
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

1. Heat oil in pan.  Add onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat or until soft.
2. Add tomato paste and oregano.  Cook for 1 minute longer.
3. Add diced and crushed tomatoes. Cook to thicken for about 10 minutes
4. Heat water in separate pot and make pasta. Drain.
5. When sauce is thicken set 1/2 aside and use for future meal or freeze.
6. Add pasta to tomato sauce.
7. Heat oil in pan on medium heat.  Cook shrimp for 2 to 3 minutes until pink.
8. Mix shrimp with pasta and sauce.
9. Put crumbled feta cheese on top.

Check out more recipes at the Grocery Cart Challenge!

Book Recommendation

My daughter loves the moon and recently she saw hot air balloon flying by a pink moon.  Well, needless to say, she is obsessed with seeing more.  We live in Wisconsin and the average highs have been in the high 40s lately, so no more for quite a few months.  I did a library search for hot air balloon and then limited it to children's books.  I found many and put them on hold for her.  Yesterday, I picked up "The Man in the Moon and the Hot Air Balloon," by David Delamare.  I knew the title alone would be enough.  We read it last night (actually I read it to her first and then my husband read it to her before bedtime-- she's slightly obsessed with stories, too).  It is a beautifully written poetic story.  The pictures are interesting.  Overall, I was quite impressed with the story.  We might just have to purchase that one.

Tip:  If your child loves something (even if it's for the moment), go with it.  The library makes it so easy to search for books and put them on hold from the comfort of your home.  You might really be surprised what is out there once you start looking.  We read another hot air balloon story with Curious George and it talked about Mt. Rushmore.  That opened up a very simple discussion about presidents.

Monday, October 19, 2009


We are moving the end of the month.  We are at that phase where majority of things are boxed up.  Every day I pack a little more and I toss out a little more.  But I am so antsy to move.  It is our first home together and we designed a kitchen that I just can't wait to cook and bake in.  We get the appliances today.  Can't wait to see how they look in my new kitchen.  With the move we are rearranging a couple things in our life.  We are going to get rid of our cable and are joining this really great health club.  It has drop-in daycare (where there is no food, so this mommy doesn't need to worry about our daughter's food allergies as much), three pools, lots of open gym time, classes for my daughter and exercise classes for me.  Plus there's tons of equipment and my husband is looking forward to using the track in the morning.  Seems like a good way to a fresh start in a new city, and in a new house.  I'm excited about us having somewhere to go during these cold winter months ahead.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

And the Winner is...

Kerrie is the winner of the $5/1 Luvs coupon.  I've sent her an e-mail and am waiting for her response.  Thanks to everyone who entered.  Stay tuned for more giveaways.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's Cookin' -- Pork Shoulder Roast

I made this last week to use up the last pork roast we had (from last year's meat buying).  It was a shoulder cut, which is pretty tough.  I didn't have any port wine for my favorite roast recipe, so I tried this recipe.  It was really good, and the leftovers worked great for Pork Fried Rice!!

Pork Shoulder Roast -- Crockpot
(I found this recipe from a couple different sources and adjusted as noted)

1 roast (4 to 5 pounds)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 medium onions (I used just one and it was fine)
2 bay leaves
1 whole clove (I used 1/8 tsp ground cloves)
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp soy sauce

1. Rub roast with salt and pepper.
2. Make small slits in roast and put garlic inside.
3. Brown roast on medium on stovetop for 7 to 10 minutes.  (One recipe roasted in the oven for 20 minutes).
4. Put half onion on bottom of crockpot.
5. Add roast and remaining ingredients over the roast.
6. Cover and cook on high for 5 to 6 hours.  Or low for 10 to 12 hours.

For more great recipes, check out the Grocery Cart Challenge!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Quiet time

I'm all for incorporating music into our day.  And my daughter will watch a little TV spaced out throughout the day.  But I've decided in this stimulated (and often over stimulated) world that sometimes we need a quiet house.  No music, no TV, nothing to distract for an hour or more.  I sometimes have to force it, but other times it just happens.  The result is that my daughter will find herself playing and imagining all sorts of new ideas (I know because she never stops talking -- never).  I find that it is valuable time and necessary.

Sticky Surface - use this!

We had a keyboard that somehow got all sticky on the bottom.  It almost seemed like the rubber melted and felt like tar.  I used my favorite sticky remover Goo Gone on it, but it didn't work.  My husband got this crazy idea to use WD 40 and it cleaned the surface no problem.  His testimony "WD 40 works better than Goo Gone." He even used it to get some old duct tape residue off the freezer from the last move.  Be sure to test the surface before using, as with any product.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Love and Logic

Love and Logic is a parenting/teaching technique that I've seen be very successful. There are many articles on the site that are short and easy to comprehend. Love and Logic basically is all about giving kids choices and teaching them to be responsible for their actions.

From the Love and Logic website:

"Our quality Love and Logic products provide parents and teachers with easy-to-use, practical techniques that help adults achieve respectful and healthy relationships with children. Our products teach the unique Love and Logic approach to raising children that puts teachers and parents in control, teaches children to be responsible and prepares them for the real world. We will help you raise children who are honest, caring, and ethical. Children who are prepared to make positive contributions."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Giveaway -- $5 Diaper Coupon "CLOSED"

I haven't had a giveaway for a while. I received a $5/1 coupon for Luvs in the mail and we don't use Luvs. But it's too good to just throw away. It expires on 12/31/09.

To enter leave a comment that you want to win (please include e-mail or link back to your blog). Get a bonus entry for blogging on your blog about it (just leave an extra comment to let me know).

I will select a winner next Thursday, Oct. 15 using random.org. Good luck!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What's Cookin' -- Pumpkin pancakes

Okay, I confess. I use Aunt Jemima pancake mix. Here's my reasoning. When I first tried pancakes on my daughter (who has a milk allergy), it was what I had in the pantry. She was able to tolerate them. When you have a child with a food allergy, you tend to only use products you know won't cause a reaction. Also, with coupons, I've found that it really is cheaper than making from scratch. At least for us, because my daughter is the only one who eats pancakes. I make a batch and freeze the rest. Works great, too.

So this week's recipe uses pre-made pancake mix, but you could simply add the extras into your own homemade recipe. We had a couple cooking pumpkins from the garden. We followed these directions and we had one cup left over. I made some whole-wheat pumpkin rolls from Stolen Moment's Menu Planning service and the following pumpkin pancakes.

Pumpkin Pancakes
1 cup pancake mix
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup pumpkin puree

1. Make mix as usual with milk and egg or water depending on directions.
2. Add applesauce, cinnamon and pumpkin.
3. Make pancakes on griddle.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lucky Ducks

I recently picked up Lucky Ducks at a thrift store for $2. It's an easy game to clean and sanitize. I'm so happy I got, too. My 2-year-old loves to play with us. The age recommended on the box is 3 years old. But I couldn't find any small pieces, and we play with her to monitor her using the on/off button. I don't see anything dangerous for a 2-year-old.

Skills the game enhances:
  • Turn taking
  • Shape recognition
  • Memory
  • Color recognition
  • Enjoyment
  • Clean-up
  • Following directions
  • Patience
  • Understanding that it gets put away when done playing
  • Being gentle
  • Sharing
  • Pretending
  • Language: on, off, your turn, ducks, quack, blue, diamond, red, circle, orange, triangle, purple, square, wait, push, button, show, water

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Splash Award

Candice over at
Wolf's on Safari gave me a Splash award. Thanks Candice! This is the first award I've ever gotten.

The Splash Award is given to alluring, amusing, bewitching, impressive and inspiring blogs.

When you get this award you must:
  • Put the logo on your blog
  • Nominate & link up to 9 blogs that allure, amuse, bewitch, impress or inspire you.
  • Let them know they have been splashed by commenting on their blog
  • Remember to link to the person from whom you received your Splash Award.
The following blogs impress and inspire me every day:


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