Sunday, July 31, 2011

Slow Cooker Sunday: Chicken & Rice

In my very first Slow Cooker Sunday post, I mentioned a chicken and rice dish that I made mid-week. This dish is similar, but I thought tasted much better!

Slow Cooker Chicken & Rice

1 pound of boneless chicken breasts, raw and cubed
3 cans of cream of chicken soup, undiluted
2 cups of uncooked instant rice
1 cup of water
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 cup of diced celery (OR if your hubby hates celery you can do as I did and do 1/2 teaspoon of celery salt)

1. Mix 3 cans of soup, rice, and cup of water together in the slow cooker.
2. Add chicken.
3. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika.
4. Sprinkle celery over chicken (if no one in your family has an aversion).
4. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Monday, July 25, 2011

If this don't make you laugh...

...then I don't know what will. :-)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Slow Cooker Sunday: Apricot Chicken, the Sequel

This was last week's Slow Cooker Sunday meal, and I also had made this dish a few months ago. The second time around was just as tasty! I even snapped a pic this time before it was gobbled all up! For the recipe for APRICOT CHICKEN click here.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Traveling with Kids 101

I'm in no way an "expert" on traveling with small children. But I do have to say that after traveling successfully on 4 airplanes, in a minivan for 4 hours with no mounted DVD player, in two taxis, and on a monorail, I may have a few tidbits of advice to offer you all.

So, in no particular order...
1. Invest in a portable DVD player.
2. Go to the Dollar Tree and get a cheap CD case. This is where you can store all your kiddie DVDs in one place and get rid of cases (and extra weight).
3. Replace your pocketbook and your diaper bag with one backpack for traveling.
4. Have lots of snacks in individual containers/ziploc bags already portioned out (and if they accidentally spill the bag, it's not the entire bag).
5. Bring about 5-6 take and toss plastic sippy cups with you (and make sure you hide them in your room because housekeeping will take the "toss" part seriously).
6. If flying, pack a carry-on bag with extra clothes for all of you- and plenty of diapers and wipes.
7. Also if flying, when taking off or landing encourage your child to constantly do one of the following, depending on age: suck on paci, drink juice or water from a straw or sippy cup (the flight attendants will fill up your sippy cups when you enter the plane and ask nicely), chew gum, or suck on a ring pop.
8. Keep the kids on a schedule the best you can. Kids thrive on routine and will be much better socializers if they have had their regular nap and have kept a semi-regular bedtime.
9. If changing time zones, give it one day for each hour to make the full adjustment. Try and shift one hour a day.
10. Just because it's vacation does not mean that vegetables and fruits cannot be consumed.
11. But ice cream is an acceptable dinner one evening.
12. If flying and going through security, wear shoes that slip on without socks. It is crazy enough without having to tie dozens of shoe laces.
13. Don't pack more suitcases then you can lug around yourself (and/or fit in your vehicle).
14. Keep cash in small bills on hand for tipping.
15. Wear pants with button pockets.
16. Check out if your hotel has laundry facilities and then you can pack half the clothes. (And if so, pack a roll of quarters.)
17. Reserve your porta-crib in advance.
18. Request a bathtub for your room in advance.
19. Share meals when you can. It's way more economical and also allows you to try new things when in new places.
20. When flying with a baby under 2 for free bring something to put between the seats so they can sit between you and have "their own seat." We used a memory foam bath mat from Target (see tan thing below). It basically makes it more comfortable for them and eliminates the "crack" between the seats.

Friday, July 22, 2011

After 9 days of traveling...'s always nice to come home and relax. :-)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

While we were on the West Coast....

....we drove to Las Vegas!

It was a beautiful 4 hour van ride to Las Vegas. After the wedding weekend was over, we all needed some "down time." Seeing that rooms in Vegas were $35 a night compared to the $200+ nights in Hollywood....we opted to travel a bit and see some more of the country.

We visited Vegas once before with an almost 4 year old. It was a bit different with a 6 year old and a 1.5 year old, but we still had a great time in "our castle."

We found ourselves across the street often in the MGM Grand visiting the fish at the Rainforest Cafe gift shop and the lions.

And sometimes we ate a light dinner so we could indulge in dessert.

And we even spent an afternoon out at the SEVEN Excalibur pools. Beautiful Nevada weather- hot, but no humidity and a light breeze.

And my children won all of these...

While Daddy played "his games," Brooklyn and Jake played some games of their own. The Excalibur has a Fun Dungeon with carnival games and arcade games.

It was a great way to end the vacation! We made it home with no bumps or hiccups late Wednesday night. It was 11pm NC time but since our bodies were still on West Coast time, we were not even tired! We also came home to a washed and detailed van courtesy of Aunt Patty and Uncle Bill. Thanks to their jet lag, they had some free time that afternoon. What a sweet surprise and MUCH appreciated!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Saturday, July 9: LET THE PARTY BEGIN!

Oh, where to begin?! There were so many sweet, sweet details of the reception that I just don't want to forget. This wedding was a perfect reflection of Eric and Caroline- classic, creative, simple, and yet goofy.

Eric and Caroline did all the table arrangements, down to the flowers in the vase, the cactus, the mason jar candle holders, the napkin rings made of brown paper and twine with a variety of jewels, and the individually designed and wrapped disposable cameras.

The one pic of me and Chad, courtesy of Brooklyn. :-)

The reception area (immediately adjacent to the wedding area) had these cool book shelves. At first glance it just appears to be a collection of fake knick knacks and pictures, but a closer look reveals baby and kid pictures of the bride and groom (who are now neither a dancer nor a baseball player).
Our sweet grandparents made the looooong trip across the country for their eldest grandson's wedding.
And our fourth grandparent- who is gone but not ever forgotten. We love you and miss you, Grandpa!

More cute details. Caroline did needlepoint and/or cross stitch for all these signs. This one says C A K E over the cake table.

And C A R D S

And their "guest book." It was a thin piece of plywood that Caroline had stitched with their names, wedding date, and location. Each guest signed the board with a gold paint pen. Brooklyn wrote her name and "Good Job." Very cute!

Enjoying their wedding dinner- ribs, chicken, BBQ, mac and cheese, baked beans, mashed potatoes, salad, and fried okra! This wedding food probably tied best dinner with Loryn and Lee's Thanksgiving dinner wedding meal.

Their first dance to Hoppipola by Sigur Ros. Never heard of it? Me either! But youtube it or iTunes it. It was so beautiful and so THEM.

Daddy and Bride- they danced to a Bruce Springsteen song (Randy's favorite artist). Here was another sweet detail: Eric and Caroline did not tell their parents what their songs would be. It was a complete surprise to EVERYONE. So emotional!

The Mom and Pookie dance- They danced to Elton John's "Your Song."

To those of you who don't know the personal history of this song...My parents danced to this song at their wedding, and 25 years later, Chad and I had our friend, Brendan, sing it during our wedding, It was so special for all of us to hear- and definitely evoked some emotion in us all. Oh, Eric, you always surprise us! :-)

Dessert time! They had a small cake and many different cupcakes from Sprinkles bakery. OMG! These were the absolute BEST cupcakes that I have ever eaten! There were brown sugar and cinnamon, red velvet, carrot cake, and my most favorite ever- PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP with chocolate icing and chocolate sprinkles.

The cake topper was perhaps the best detail ever. The story: Eric and Caroline decided to each make the other's figurine, so Caroline made the groom and Eric made the bride. Neither knew what the other had done until right before the wedding. It was soooooo cute- and again, so them.

More fun reception pictures...

As the night wore on, the kids grew tired. We pulled out the old DVD player for back up.

And finally, two more pics of the sweet newlyweds.

Love you both soooooo much, and I hope you had a fabulous honeymoon in HAWAII!


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