September 23, 2014

My Taco Soup Recipe

If you're looking for easy...If you're looking for a chance to use up some of the canned goods in your pantry...If you're looking for the perfect freezer meal...If you're ready for a yummy fall taco soup recipe is for you!

I make mine a little different every.single.time (because I'm exciting like that), but here's how it typically starts~

Well, the first thing I do is line my Crockpot with a Reynolds Crock Pot Liner- I pretty much refuse to use my Crock pot unless one of these lifesavers is in it. What's worse than having to clean a crockpot? Well, I can think of a few things, but you know what I'm saying.

Okay...back to the ingredients....

1-2 lbs. of ground beef (depending on how big of a batch I want to make)
2 cans of kidney beans (drained...always)
1-2 cans of diced tomatoes (depending on how I'm feeling that day)
1 can of corn
1-2 packages of taco seasoning (depending on how big of a batch I've decided to make)
1 package of dry ranch dressing mix (if I'm in the mood)
1 diced onion (if I'm feeling feisty)
I typically add a little water and let it simmer throughout the afternoon/evening.

Sometimes I will make a little batch of rice and then add it in at the very end~

My very favorite way to eat this is with tortilla chips crushed down in bowl, soup poured on top, sour cream, cheese, and green onions sprinkled (okay....dumped) on top - all depending on how healthy I'm trying to be.

This soup is also perfect to serve with cornbread...Or do you serve cornbread with soup? Well, I guess it really depends on who you ask...

Does anything scream "Fall!" louder than soup and cornbread?

Have you seen this slow cooker by Cuisinart? I have already told hubby that I don't need a whole lot for Christmas this year, buuuuut.....

Psst...It's half-price right now - You may not want to want until Christmas~

If you missed yesterday's round-up of fall recipes, check it out!
I featured all kinds of delicious yummies!

Come back tomorrow - I'm sharing my top blogging tips!

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September 22, 2014

Fall Recipe Round-Up - Cookies, Breads, and More!

If you are like me, you are ready for fall, which means loads of yummy fall recipes! 

If you've never gotten to know Teressa Jane, be sure to head over and check out these delicious pumpkin cookies of hers! I have a feeling that once you start exploring her beautiful online space, you will not want to leave!

I also recently discovered Sally's Baking Addiction, and THIS was the recipe that led me to her page: 

Do you love Pumpkin Bread? If you said, "Yes!", then I really think we could be great friends! My mother-in-law makes the.most.delicious pumpkin bread. It's a family recipe passed down from my hubby's grandparents, and it is amazing, but I realize there are loads of other yummy recipes out there as well! Like this one from my friend Georgia at Oatmeal Smiles or this one from my friend Kathryn at Singing Through the Rain or this one from The Charm of Home.

Photo Credit: alexandracooks
You've heard me rave about "Everyday Confetti", and I must tell you that there is also a delicious-looking pumpkin recipe tucked in that book (on pages 50-51 - to be exact). *smile*

I don't think anything says fall quite like a hot bowl of soup! This collection from Ellie Bean Design looks right up my alley!
Do you have a delicious soup recipe? Tomorrow, I'm sharing my super-easy Taco Soup Recipe!
I am always looking for new concoctions, so please share your favorite soup recipe in the comments below - I'd love to give it a try!

Have you tried my Nutella Cinnamon Rolls? They are super easy and perfect for a fall weekend!

So are these adorable Apple Cinnamon Rollups

These yummies as well as other great fall ideas can be found on my "Fall Is in the Air" Pinterest Board. For example, I just love this snapshot from a Stone Gable House Tour~ Do you get as excited about "Home Tours" as I do? Especially ones that feature fall/holiday decor!
Linking Up With: Life of Meg

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September 19, 2014

Friday Favorites

One. Caleb.
My number one favorite for the week would be celebrating "I'm threeeeee!" with this kid.

The other day, I posted this picture on Instagram. I love connecting with you guys over there!
I love connecting on Facebook as well! I've had such a great time doing the flash giveaways! 
I'm sure there's more to come - I've been feeling extra generous know, with the holidays coming and all..

Caleb's black, red, and white bowling party was a hit! So much fun! If you missed the post, be sure to go check it out. Definitely a favorite from this week!

Two. Mamas.
This past week, I also shared a little bit of my heart with you mamas out there! I talked about finding a balance with technology, and I also talked about my choice to be a full-time mom. What an incredibly kind and respectful community you are. Thank you - You're another favorite of mine! 

Three. Books.
Do you love children's books? I have been filling my Children's Book Pinterest Board with some of my favorite kid's books, and I'm sure many of them are also your favorites as well!
Around here, we are crazy over truck books for sure!

I also have a board where I recommend books for the grownups - great things I am reading. 

Four. Organization. 
Early in the week, our last birthday guests left town, and we are gearing up for more special company this weekend. In between, I've been working to get organized. Not the fun organization that I with closets and drawers...but the mind-numbing kind that takes place on a laptop...You know what I'm talking about....old In the process, I've come across some of my favorite posts from the past. 

Have you ever taken a Planning Day?
Have things been different with you second, third, or fourth child?
Have you ever thought about swapping babysitting with a friend?

Five. Zulily.
Do you shop Zulily? I have to admit - I've been scared to death to spend too much time on their site. It sounds dangerous - like there are so many good deals! This year, I'm thinking of spending some extra time there doing a little holiday shopping. Have you scored any great deals through them? 
I'd love to hear about your experience!

Gals, I hope you have a great week! Our temps here have been a little cooler, and we are enjoying a little break from the heat! We're hoping to start having more and more fall adventures outsides! 
I hope you have a great weekend with the ones you love~

Today, I am joining Andrea for "Friday Favorites"!

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September 18, 2014

Caleb's Birthday Celebration - A Black, Red, & White Bowling Party

My oldest is now three, and we recently had a bowling party to celebrate his special day! 

I went with a black, red, and white theme, and here are the invites~
 Making invitations that have a little depth to them usually requires a little extra postage, but because I don't send very many, it's no problem~ 

The night before Caleb's birthday, his G.G. and I helped him make his cake. I'm not sure I've ever seen him so excited about anything in his entire life. When the oven beeped - indicating that the cake was done - he cheered as if the Hokies had just won in overtime.
Thanks to Hobby Lobby and some great thrifting finds, this party was super easy and super fun to put together! 
 On the menu: 
We did a nacho bar! I set out a variety of toppings - with taco meat in a large crock-pot over on my island. My mother-in-law is not one for this kind of food, so I also had another option for those who were interested: grilled chicken salad with vegetables, etc. All super easy to prepare ahead of time, and our guests seemed to enjoy building their creations. 
 When my boys turned one, I gifted them with a photo album that included pictures of them with each of their close relatives. With our family living out-of-town, this has been a great way for them to feel connected with their family, learn each of their names, etc. On this birthday, I put together a little album for Caleb that included pictures of him from over the past few years - focusing less on those first baby pictures and more on recent events, trips, etc. that he actually remembers. This was nothing fancy - just snapshots placed in a simple album. I knew he would love it, and he sat there and soaked in each of the pictures. 
 After dinner, we headed to the bowling alley! Having the actual party there sounded like my worst nightmare, sooooo.....we just waltzed in, played a couple of games....
 ...and headed back to the house for birthday cake...
 ...and presents...
The next morning, I was able to get a picture with my cutie. 
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September 17, 2014

"Hands-Free Mama" - Finding Balance with Technology

At the beginning of the summer, I showed you this stack of books - my stack of summer reads! I am happy to tell you that I finished them...all of them. I would love to go grab coffee with you so I could tell you all the things I learned and all the ways I was challenged! If you missed my comments on the Melanie Shankle books and "Everyday Confetti", check them out! If you missed my post about the Sally Clarkson books, I hope you'll visit that post as well. Today, I want to chat a little bit about "Hands Free Mama".
Let me begin by saying, I think technology - as a whole - oftentimes gets a bad rap! Mothers are given a hard time for being on their phones...but I'm not so sure all of this guilt is fair. Years ago, our mothers and grandmothers spent time looking through their recipe books, sitting on the porch chatting with a friend, reading their Bible, writing letters, flipping through catalogs, making phone calls, etc. They were never given a hard time about these things. They weren't made to feel guilty for spending their time doing things that enhanced the beauty/organization/flow of their homes.

So when I'm on Pinterest searching for healthy recipes. Or when I'm e-mailing an out-of-town relative. Or when I'm reading my devotional e-mails from Proverbs 31. Or when I'm shooting a message to my boys' pediatrician. Or when I'm on Amazon ordering baby wipes. Or when I'm reading a blog post that is encouraging me to be a better wife and mom....Can I ask what on earth the problem is?

I get it....We are all guilty of wasting time. I realize that not all of our interactions with technology are quite so profitable. However, the reality is that my cookbook, my calendar, my reading material, my grocery list, and often times my Bible is all present in one place...on my phone. I think that's pretty incredible. So why the constant guilt trip?

With that being said, I could see where some might feel that the Hands-Free Revolution leads them to feel guilty every time they pick up their phone. However, I do not necessarily think that is the intention. Overall, I think the book's purpose is to encourage readers to be present in the day-to-day moments that are oftentimes taken for granted, and I love that - because even though the advances in technology are pretty great, an obsession with it can cause us to miss out the small moments that make life so special.

Here are a few steps I have taken to find balance in this area:

Phone Volume - 99.9% of the time, my phone is in silent mode. The only exception is when I'm away from my children. If my little guys are with a babysitter, I want to be immediately accessible. Other than that, I do not want to be distracted by phone calls, social media notifications, etc. This allows me to check my phone when I can and respond when I am able.

Voicemail - I reached a point where I felt like I was wasting too much time checking my voicemail. It would take me forever to get to a new message, and the caller would say something along the lines of: "Hey, it's me! Call me when you get a chance." Uh...could they not have just sent me a text? Seriously, it was driving me nuts. So, I gave up on using voicemail altogether. If someone needs to reach me, there are multiple other ways to do so - Send me an e-mail; text me; shoot me a Facebook message, but when it comes to voicemail, I'm done. I will sometimes receive e-mails from individuals trying to reach me. They are in a panic and feel that it is urgent that I know my voicemail box is full and that they were unable to leave me a message. This cracks me up as most of the time I have already told them (multiple times) that "E-mail is my preferred method of contact." Eventually, they get the hint...

Family Time - Phones, tablets, etc. do  not join us for mealtimes. No exceptions. They are not welcome on family walks, trips to the parks, etc. If they come along (in case of emergency), they stay tucked away in a zippered pocket in the stroller. When we're at the pool, phones stay in the pool bag...unless I need to snap a picture, of course.

Internet Access - If I'm needing to be especially productive or if I need to really disconnect, I will turn the Internet access off on my phone. I love the feeling of being truly alone...even if it's just for a few minutes.

Be prepared - Establishing boundaries in this area will frustrate some your friends and family, but make no apologies about being protective of your time and space. It is completely healthy, and I promise you will reap many, many benefits from a few healthy perimeters.

For more on how we approach Screen-Time at our House, check out:

If you are a blogger, here are a few ways I've found balance in that area:
Warning to Mommy Bloggers

To wrap things up with my summer books, I want to mention One Thousand Gifts.
While the author's style of writing is not necessarily my personal favorite, she is most definitely a gifted and expressive writer who really challenges you to savor the moments that God has gifted you with each day, and that is definitely a great reminder for all of us!

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