Monday, January 31, 2011

Siloam Weekend and Super Easy Crock Pot Pork Chops

This weekend we went to Siloam Springs to see Ellen and Luke and my Mom and her fiance Wes. They got their engagement pictures taken by Luke, and we had Lily's two year and Bella's 3 month pictures taken. Next time I go for pictures, I am going to have someone take pictures of us trying to get a 3 month old and two year old to cooperate and look pleasant. Good thing Uncle Luke is awesome with children - can't wait to see the pics. We had a great time hanging out with Nana and Papa as well, and it again makes me wish that I had family closer.

When we get together we often play lots of games. The game of choice this weekend was Blokus, which only got old when Luke kept winning. Seriously, almost every game. Good thing he is nice. If you have never played this game, it is worth a shot. Good times.


While we were there we also made Crock Pot Pork Chops with a recipe courtesy of our step-father-to-be himself, Wes. These are super easy, and while not a gourmet treat by any means, it makes a serviceable, filling, yummy dinner that is ready quickly with few ingredients. Sounds perfect when you have a lot of other things you want to do. (like start a new blog.) (Disclaimer- I am just learning how to blog and take pictures of stuff for a blog, so anyone reading this will have to bear with me through the learning process.)

Start with 2-3 butterfly pork chops and trim the fat off of them. We also chose to cut them in half to save time when they were done.


Mix 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder and 1/2 teaspoon of dried mustard.


Do not be surprised when your daughter who is sitting precariously on the counter stacks all of the ingredients.



Coat your pork chops in the flour mixture and brown in olive oil over medium high heat. It takes just a couple of minutes per side.


Put your pork chops into your crock pot and pour two cans of Chicken and Rice soup over them.



Turn crackpot to low and cook for 7 hours. Or, we did them on high for 3 1/2 hours, which also worked well. Such an easy meal when served with a salad and bread and the delicious chocolate chip pound cake that Ellen made. This is where I should insert the picture of the finished product that I didn't take. Instead, I will insert a picture of Bella, because I think she is darling.


As we were leaving this morning, escaping the impending snow doom, I tried to get a picture of the girls with Luke and Ellen. This is how it went. Me: "Lily, let's take a picture with Ellen and Uncle Luke!" (said excitedly) Lily: "No, no, no, no, no." (said whinedly).


So I settled for a cute one of Uncle Luke and Aunt Ellen holding Bella. Thanks for a great weekend, family who are like friends!


Friday, January 28, 2011

Things I Find

I have small children. That is the stage of life that I am in with all of the joys and all of the craziness that it entails. I do find myself laughing a lot. A lot. Lily is great at playing independently (note: I just misspelled this word and it auto-corrected to "indecently," so I am glad I caught that.), and I am great at letting her. This does mean that I often find surprises around our home to indicate what she has been up to.

For a while I was always finding my shoes rearranged. I put an end to this, as my closet and bathroom stayed perpetually disastrous.


Yes, it is a good idea to eat the doors to your mini-cozy coupe car.


And, here is the star herself, setting up some of the surprises that I often find.

Having her morning tea.

She may have tendencies toward hoarding. She likes to drag around the laundry basket and fill it with goodies.

Lily likes to drag around a basket full of stuff.

Currently, Bella is in training to learn the ways of putting random stuff in random places. And she likes her tea with cream and sugar, thanks.


One of my highlight moments. I am realizing that Lily might be a bit of an "arranger."


What should I do with the rest of my cheese? This is definitely a good option.


It will take Mom a while to find these, since I am hiding them behind a curtain. Thanks, Lily. Sadly, I didn't get a picture of a petrified Chick-fil-A nugget that I found under the curtain in the dining room. Gross.


All the little magnets. I was less than thrilled to knock some of these into the freezer. Still not sure I got them all out.


Things I find make me laugh. A lot.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow Melts. So do Two Year Olds.

We had a snow day a couple of weeks back. I decided that though I was not excited about getting everyone ready to go outside, I should give it a hearty go and see if Lily would enjoy it and if we could keep Bella warm enough. So I got my first little snow-bunny dressed.


And once the other friend saw a picture being taken, she wanted to join in.


Then, I got her dressed, and there was some melting.


Once I managed to get us outside, there was a little bit of fun to be had, though not with hat or mittens. I picked a happy child over a warm child, since I had a slight premonition that this would all be short-lived anyway. Bella did a great job holding the aforementioned unused hat and mittens.


A few of my favorite things. Snowflakes that stay on her nose and eyelashes. Especially when her eyelashes look like this.


Once I realized that she didn't want to get her feet "dirty," by walking in the snow - her words, not mine - I decided to relocate onto the back deck where there was plenty of snow and Bella could stay inside and I could just enjoy the view.


There was fun with the bucket and blocks for about 7-10 minutes.



At this point, I ran inside to get the video camera to capture sweet Lily's first moments in the snow. However, by the time I got back outside, which took about two minutes, sweet Lily was gone, sadly replaced by sour, melted Lily. Snow day fun was dead. In the house we went, and we enjoyed the snow through the window from then on. And it was a beautiful snow.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lily turns Two

Our precious Lily turned two at the beginning of January. And after the holidays, it was nice/stressful to have something to be planning for. I chose a theme based on a cake that I saw on One Charming Party. That cake stuck in my head, and since I knew Lily LOVES colors/crayons, away I went planning the big day. First I downloaded a party plan from the website that I mentioned above for only $6! What a deal! It came with invitations that I customized.

Lily Invite

Then I made the cake that I fell in love with. All eight layers of it. It really didn't take as long as you might imagine, because each layer cooked for about 7 minutes, and I have two pans. It is a white cake mix dyed with food coloring to get the colors I wanted. Here it is pre-frosting.

Cake Pre-Frosting

I made the Wilton recipe for a yummy buttercream frosting, and here is the result.



We decorated and prepared for our party guests to arrive.


I made Lily's birthday shirt using felt that I appliqued onto the shirt, and I made a color-wheel tutu to match the theme. It did make my day when she walked into the room, saw the tutu and said, "Pretty. Pretty colors." Then I had the idea to make a Crayola tiara. It ended up tipped over for most of the party, but it was still so cute. (in my, maybe not so unbiased, opinion)
Here she is waiting for people to come while watching "Tales."

Birthday girl waiting for the party to start by watching "Tales."

After people arrived, we enjoyed breakfast and then headed downstairs for coloring activities. I knew we needed to keep them simple with lots o kiddos under the age of 4. I cut out the initial of each child attending from sandpaper, and then had them color them. We then baked them in the oven, which melts all the crayon together nicely. Funny thing is, we forgot to give them to the kids. Sorry kids. (I bet the parents aren't that sorry to not have another random thing around the house.)

We had lots of coloring activities set up in the basement.

The little friends left birthday "messages" for Lily.

Birthday messages from Lily's friends.

Then it was time to eat the cake with the surprise - I must admit, I giggled with glee as I cut it open when people started to realize what was inside. Yes, I giggled a lot, and my husband really enjoyed watching all of this play out.



This year, birthday girl enjoyed the cake, though it seemed to put her into a cake daze.


While enjoying cake, I hosted a little Crayola trivia contest with fun facts off of their website. (The little label cards were part of the downloadable party pack, as was the idea to put it over a crayon.) My favorite fact: after 37 years of working as Crayola's most senior crayon maker and molding a record 1.4 billion crayons, he revealed a secret. He was color blind! Amazing.

It was Crayola/Rainbow themed, with trivia for the adults.

I forgot to get a picture of the party favors, which were large crayons in the shape of cute animal faces that I found from this Etsy Shop. Fun shop. I sent out Thank You notes that came with the downloadable party pack that I printed and cut, like the invitations. Here I included a pic of the envelopes and color wheel stickers. I have fun going overboard on the details.

Lily 2 TYs

All in all, we had a great day, and Lily seemed to really enjoy all the coloring and "friends." She also now regularly asks to see "Pictures. Birthday Cake. Pictures. Birthday Cake." I usually capitulate, because, well, I like the pictures of the birthday cake too. Really, I did it all, because I like colors.