Once again, I jumped on board the pinterest train when Sherry from Young House Love and Katie from Bower Power posted about the Fall Pinterest Challenge.

Rarely do I find crafty things on pinterest where I think I can actually accomplish the end result.  I am limited when it comes to using tools and testing my patience.  So when I can across this from Sweet Daisy Designs, I figured it was something I could actually do.  And guess what?  I did!

HJ and I made a trip to Hobby Lobby where I grabbed a $4 wreath and a $3 can of spray paint in the brightest color they had.  I decided against making the felt flowers…because I am lazy and not so crafty…when I saw a super cute flower on sale for $2.

I spray painted the heck out of the wreath.  It took 5 coats of paint.  And then used a glue gun to secure the flower.  And Viola!  Pinterest project done!

Under 10 dollars, under 30 minutes (it took a few days between layers of paint, but probably only 15 minutes combined!

With Halloween just around the corner, HJ and I have been enjoying all things fall.

Last week, we went to a few neighbor’s houses to “boo” them (Boo’ing is where you leave treats at someone’s door, and run away before they catch you!  We had been boo’ed and had to boo 3 more houses.)

HJ really didn’t want to leave the Frankenstein boo baskets at the doors, he wanted them all for himself.  It took some persuading, and a few tears for him to give them up.

We also made a few fall crafts.

And we made our yearly trip to the pumpkin patch.  Last year we learned about “Pumpkin Paradise” in Waverly, IA and it is such a fun place.  There are numerous activities for little ones, a cafe to enjoy lunch and hot apple cider, and the admission price is over 50% cheaper than the other local places.

We started the pumpkin patch trip in the barn.  HJ was all farmer ready in his overalls and loved petting ponies, goats, llamas, bunnies and chickens.  He also liked watching the peacocks in the rafters!  He was not a fan of the VERY large turkey that followed us around.

There was a tractor pulling this barrel train.  HJ thought it looked awesome, but when he realized I would not be joining him, he hightailed it out of there!

I think this pony was his favorite animal there.  Just his size!

HJ spent a good 15 minutes running up the hay bails to go down this slide.  He even went head first and crashed into the ground (he thought it was hysterical).

He also liked talking to the ducks, and tried to catch a baby kitty that ran out of that little red barn.

We went on a hay rack ride that brought us all around the farm.

And drove a boat filled with lots and lots of corn kernels.

After a lunch of pulled pork sandwiches and a pumpkin cookie, we grabbed a wagon and started the hunt for the perfect pumpkin!

Success!

HJ had a great time running around the farm,  Within minutes of getting back in the car, he whispered, “I not tired”, which always means he will fall asleep in a few seconds.

What fall traditions have you been doing?  Any fun ones that HJ and I should add for next year?

Guess what?  It’s my b-day today!  Which means I need to draw the winner from “My Birthday Gift to You“, sponsored by Mateo & Tobias.

Here is the random number generator:

True Random Number Generator Min: Max: Result: 8

Congrats to KG!  I will send you an email with your prize!

To help celebrate my birthday on Friday, I have a gift for one lucky reader!

A few weeks ago, you may remember I posted “pay it forward”.  I was looking at Etsy in search of the perfect gift for the people participating and came across a very cute store, Mateo & Tobias.  Go look, I will wait.

Seriously cute stuff, right?

And, she was great to work with.  I was searching for the perfect quote for this reader, but loved her style, so I asked her to custom make a print.  It turned out beautiful!  I don’t want to ruin the surprise for the person paying it forward (which I still have 1 spot open if someone else wants to join in on paying it forward!), but here are a few other prints from Mateo & Tobias.

Love them.

And guess what?  Cathy, from Mateo & Tobias, wants to give one of you a FREE 8×10 print of your choice!  Happy Birthday indeed.

The winner will be chosen via Random Number Generator on Friday, October 26th, my birthday!
All you have to do is leave a comment…maybe it would be what print you would like or what your favorite gift is!  GOOD LUCK!

HJ turns 3 on November 4th.  He is pretty excited about his birthday and getting presents.  His list was quite a bit longer than mine!  And waaaay more exciting.

HJ did recently win a lot of toys through the Fisher Price House Party, so the list is not heavy on toys, sorry.

A few things he needs:

Bath Towels.  I know, this sounds silly, but we have 2 different bathrooms and he has outgrown his hooded infant towels.  Like a year outgrown.

Laundry Hamper.  I think our laundry would be easier to do if I separated it by his clothes/my clothes.  Right now, we throw everything in at once.  I hate laundry.

Clothing, size 4T.

For the other items, I have created an amazon wish list (click to see it).  Like I mentioned, he already received so many toys, that I thought it might be fun to start adding things like the classic board games (chutes and ladders, candyland), the fun games (hungry, hungry hippo) and movies I know he would enjoy.  I also added in books, because you can never have too many books!

I thought the skip hop backpacks are cute, and I know he would love the dog one.

HJ also likes playing with play-doh, but all of his colors are currently a purple-ish/grey/brown color, so I would like to get those refreshed.

HJ also has a great imagination, so I think he would have lots of fun with this doctor kit.

And last but not least (well maybe, because I am not buying this for him), a custom-made stuffed dog.  There are apparently some places you can send  a picture of your dog and they create a stuffed animal to look like him.  The only website I have found is much, MUCH more than I would ever spend on a stuffed animal though.  Does anyone know of a cheaper place?

Oh, I wish I could buy my little monkey all of this AND take him to Disney World!

What toys are the children in your lives in love with?  HJ still loves his Imaginext castle!

HJ and I both have birthday’s coming up.  I have had family members ask what we want…and I told them.  But they must not believe me because they keep asking what we would like to get.  So, I thought I would let everyone know what we are pinning after!

The first thing I brought up is a trip to Disney World.  I know, I know, that seems like a lot to ask for.  But, I figured it could count as both of our birthday and Christmas gifts combined.  HJ loves this guy

That is our dream gift, but it seems unlikely…so I created a back up gift list.

I have been wanting 2 kitchen stools for the island in our kitchen, and I love the simple-ness of these:

Cute, huh?  It comes with 2, which is the perfect fit for our island.  i found them here.

The other thing I want is a light fixture.  When we moved into our house, I had purchased cute pendant lights above the island, but the light fixture that was installed form the contractor does not match at all!  Also, it was placed in an awkward place and hangs low, causing people to bonk their heads on it.  So I found this:

It is simple, and doesn’t hang down.  I found it here.  I also found a very nice electrician named Mohammed who said he could install it lickety-split, so I can pass along his number too!

Next, a very exciting hand-held vacuum!

I have a dog that sheds, so it would be awesome to be able to easily clean up the furniture!  Found here.

My god, my list makes me look so old and boring.  I need to throw a few fun things on there…

Gift cards are always good too!  I have mentioned before that we are trying to stick to a budget, so a giftcard to Target, where we could get our everyday things, would be great!

HJ’s list to come…

You may remember a few months back when I acknowledged my spending habits were out of control.  And I committed to making and keeping  a budget.  You can see where it all started here.

Here’s the thing, i did try.  Not overly hard, but a great attempt…er, sort of.

I figured out a budget.  Wrote it all down.  Organized my bills.  And came to the realization that I just don’t make enough money.  Seriously.  By the time I figured out all of my medical bills (which are finally paid off), house bills, car payment and daycare, I barely had money to purchase things like food, diapers, gas, etc.

I started to gamble.  Ha, no I didn’t, but I thought about it.  I did a little research on hot penny stocks and read up on some investors like timothysykes.  Which looks like a great idea if I have spare change to invest!

I realized the best move for me to make is to *gulp* start job hunting.  I make a significantly lower salary then I had when I lived in Des Moines, so I know I can do better.  The thing is, I love my job.  I love the people I work with.  And I will not be able to get better benefits anywhere.

But, I took a plunge and updated the resume, so we will see where this takes me!

Someone send me the winning powerball numbers?

HJ’s dad and I rarely communicate.  I know the type of person he is and chose to keep our conversations minimal if we have to talk.  There isn’t much that he can do that surprises or shocks me enough to warrant a phone call or send a text message.  I just don’t care anymore.

So this past weekend, when I found out some news about him, it wasn’t the “news” that bothered me.  He is having another baby.  His gf and him have 1 daughter, that is 5 months younger than HJ, and now will have another daughter sometime this month.  I actually was relived it is a girl.  He deserves a house full of girls.  Hopefully, trampy girls (yup, I went there).  I actually laughed at this a little.  Yes, a house full of girls.  I hope he never knows the amazing-ness of a son.  He missed that chance.  He gave it up willingly.

My thoughts went to, “wow, I feel bad for his gf.  She has put up with a lot.  Dating him on and off for years, now living with him for 3 straight years, with 2 kids and no ring?  what is she thinking?”

And I thought about it some more…you know what she is thinking?  If they get married, she stops getting alimony from her ex-husband.  And then I realized she is just as class-less as him.

Then I got to thinking about WAYYY back in May when Nate told me he was going to file for a child support modification.  I kept thinking he was being lazy and just not filling it out.  But you know what he is actually thinking?  He is probably thinking that you can only request a modification every 2 years.  So he is waiting for kid #3 to be born so he can pay me even less money.  With him currently being on unemployment and having numerous kids, he could owe me less then $10/month.

Told you they were class acts.

Does it bother me that he is father to other children and actually accepts them? Sure, how could it not.

But none of these things really “got” to me…I am use to those faults.   There was nothing that was keeping me from falling asleep.  Like I said, nothing surprises me.

UNTIL THIS…

I was shopping online at Babies R Us for a friend’s shower gift.  In stalker like fashion, I thought, “huh, I wonder if they have a registry?”.  Thinking there wouldn’t be…because who the hell has registries for 2nd babies?  Correction, 3rd!

But they do.

I skimmed through it, not caring until I saw this.  They had registered for and received many numerous expensive gifts.  These people, who have not been able to afford a dime in child support since April can afford to get a $500 crib?  And a dresser?  When they should already have things like a crib from having a previous baby?  He can buy things like this but can’t afford $100 in back owed child support?  WHAT. THE. FUCK.

How is this okay?  How can people get away with this? AND WHY THE FUCK IS IT BOTHERING ME SO MUCH THAT THEY GOT A NEW CRIB?

There had to be something to make me break down.

But how messed up is our system that someone who the child support office can not track down is so easily found via Babies R US?  I mean come on, they even list their address on there in case you want to send them a frikken gift!

Seriously.

I work full-time.  By the time I get off work, and pick up HJ, it is close to 5:30.  HJ needs food by 6pm or the world will come to an end.

Therefore, I have started to make meals ahead of time (on the weekends).  Usually it makes enough for double batches and I freeze most of them.

Thank you pinterest for helping me with this, but here is what is currently in my freezer:

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

The recipe makes 4 separate casseroles!  HJ likes broccoli.  Perfect.  The one difference…I used brown rice.  The first time I made it, it seemed a little dry.  The second one I made, I threw on half a can of cream of chicken soup on top before baking it and the dryness problem was solved.

Another one that no longer has a working link is Orange Chicken

Orange chicken in the crock pot

Ingredients:

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced about 1/2-inch thick

2 large red or green bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds)

2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

8 ounces orange juice concentrate

2 cans Mandarin orange segments, undrained

2 green onions, chopped (whites and greens)

2 cups hot cooked rice

Directions:

Put carrots, bell peppers, garlic, then the chicken, ginger, salt, pepper and frozen orange juice in crock pot. Cover and cook on LOW 4 to 6 hours. Serve chicken on hot cooked rice on platter. Top with orange segments and green onions. Serve chicken liquid in gravy boat, if desired.

Even HJ liked it a lot!

I got a Teriyaki Chicken recipe from Ring Around the Rosies.  I split it into 2 bags, and made one with chicken and one with pork (because I had pork in the freezer).  Both were delicious.

One that we thought was okay…

BBQ Chicken from Mama and Baby Love.  This made 2 meals and we have only had one.  I think with the next one, I will add in a yummy BBQ sauce to give it a bit more flavor.  Then I hope it is better!

And last night, we had this:

  • 2 medium onions, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced carrot (3 medium)
  • 1 small red sweet pepper, cut into bite-size strips
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lime peel
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 4 garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1cup frozen peas
  • Hot cooked rice
  • Chopped peanuts (optional)
  • Snipped fresh cilantro (optional)

Directions

1. In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker, place onions, carrot, and sweet pepper. Top with chicken. In a medium bowl, whisk together broth, peanut butter, lime peel, lime juice, soy sauce, tapioca, ginger, curry paste, and garlic until smooth. Pour over all in cooker.

2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours or on high-heat setting for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Stir in coconut milk and peas. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

3. Serve chicken mixture over hot cooked rice. If desired, sprinkle each serving with chopped peanuts and cilantro. Makes 6 servings.

I left out the red curry paste so it wouldn’t be spicy.  HJ loved this…seriously the kid ate all of his vegetables.
Also, I split this in half and put into 2 separate freezer bags, it was huge.

I write the directions on the freezer bag and the date I froze it.

Although most recipes say to freeze the raw meat with everything else, I am afraid of cross contamination and put the meat in a separate bag, marked with which recipe it goes to.  i would hate to give anyone food poisoning!

Anyone else have good recipes that you can make ahead?

 

*I misspelled recipes about 8 times in this post

** #fisherpriceplaydate giveaway winner!!

True Random Number Generator Min: Max: Result: 5 Powered by RANDOM.ORG
Winner: Lindsey who said:

This is so cute! What fun :) I’m excited to read your other posts too. I bet my little nephew would love a party favor!

Congrats!  You will be receiving an email from me!
And now to Paying It Forward…

Lisha at One House One Couple recently posted about Pay It Forward.

It is an awesome idea she got from another blogger and I would love to continue it.

Want to know how it works?  Lisha said that she is going to give something special to 3 people who commented first on the Pay It Forward post.  I left a comment letting her know I would love to continue it on.

Here are the rules:

-Be one of the first 3 to comment on this post.

-You need to have a blog and be willing to continue to Pay It Forward.  You will need to write a similar post, inviting your readers to play along within 1 week of commenting on my blog.

-Once all of those things are complete, I will be checking out your blog to send you a small  gift I think you will enjoy!

Go ahead and comment even if there are already 3 comments just in case the first 3 can’t follow through in time.

Can’t wait to help spread some love!

One of my bestest friends is having a baby soon.  A sweet baby boy.

We met right when we started college, lived together for a few years, moved to Des Moines, lived together a little longer and here we are today.  You might remember hearing about her from here (she was the first to know I was prego) and here.  We’ve been through a lot together.  So naturally, I wanted to throw her a shower…with a few other of my besties.

And thank you to pinterest, we could easily plan the shower from the multiple cities we are all scattered in (we used a group board).

We decided on a cute bee theme.  We found sweet invites on etsy at the store InspiredByMaddie.  The invites were done in less than 24 hours, and look at their adorable-ness…

We planned  a few games (you have to play a game at a baby shower….).  One was a new game to me, but I liked it!  We set out a bumblebee piggy bank, and when guests arrived they put any spare change they had into the bank.  Then everyone guessed how much would be in it.  The person with the closest guest won it all….actually they won “all” detergent…Becky got to take the $14 in change home (I had no idea people carried around so much change!).

We also picked up some honey bears from a local farmer’s market and gave those out as favors.

Here is the Mommy to Bee:

And some yummy food

We had a light lunch and beverages

Had cute decorations

Played with babies

Opened gifts

HJ was a great help.

Spilled a lot of drinks

And made pregnant girls take pictures together

(the one on the right gave birth less than 48 hours later)

Becky got lots of fun gifts…well the baby did.  The best part?  Hanging out with my lovely ladies that I don’t get to see nearly enough!  It is always bittersweet for me to go to Des Moines because I had such a great time living there.

Becky is due close to HJ’s birthday, so who knows, they might share a birthday!