Slow Cooker Rustic Italian Chicken

September 18, 2014

slow cooker rustic italian chicken

Guess what?!? It’s finally here!  FALL! This is my favorite time of year.  The temps are still a little warm here in Oklahoma but I can see a light at the end of the summer tunnel.  Fall means college football, crisp morning air, changing leaves, cardigans and slow cookers.  Ahhhh, the slow cooker.  

A few weeks ago my friends at Red Gold Tomatoes sent me a box of canned tomatoes with lots of slow cooker recipes.  They even sent me a Red Gold Official Blogger wooden spoon.  I really love this spoon but something about it made me giggle.  

Slow Cooker Rustic Italian Chicken

Ohhhhh….look, I’m all official now.  Better watch out or I might whack you over the head with my official blogger spoon if you get out of line.  I take my tomato blogging very seriously…cuz I’m official.

Back to the slow cooker.  All of the recipes included sound delicious; slow cooker pulled pork, black bean and pumpkin chili, slow cooker mac & cheese, sausage & sweet potato chili.  Oh yum.  I’m making the sausage & sweet potato chili this weekend but for this post I made the slow cooker rustic italian chicken.  Visit the Red Gold website for all these yummy recipes and check out their slow cooker giveaway on Facebook.  They are giving away two crockpots everyday through October 8.  I know I certainly could use one.  I think my trusty Rival crock pot was a wedding gift…14 years ago.  

Before checking out the other recipes…have a gander at this one.  

Slow Cooker Rustic Italian Chicken

Red Gold Slow Cooker Italian Chicken

 

Slow Cooker Rustic Italian Chicken
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Ingredients
  1. 12 boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 2 lbs.
  2. 2 large carrots, roughly chopped
  3. 1 medium bell pepper, chopped
  4. 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  5. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  6. 2 Tbs. Italian seasoning
  7. 1 (14.5 oz) can Red Gold diced tomatoes
  8. 1 (14.5 oz) can Red Gold crushed tomatoes
  9. 3 cups pasta of choice, cooked and drained
Instructions
  1. Spray slow cooker with cooking spray. Place chicken in slow cooker and top with remaining ingredients, except pasta.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Serve over pasta.
Hugs, Kisses and Snot http://hugskissesandsnot.com/

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Disclaimer:  I received free tomatoes and a free wooden spoon (which is super official) for this post.  All opinions, thoughts, words are my own.

Happy Anniversary

September 16, 2014

14 years ago today I was surrounded by my girlfriends, laughing and talking about whatever 20-somethings talk about.

Today I’m surrounded by little boys who like to back up against me and fart.  

Happy Anniversary

14 years ago today I was wearing duchess satin Vera Wang dress.  It was stunning.

Today I’m wrapped in a fuzzy white robe that is a little threadbare and most of my wardrobe comes from Target.

 

 

Happy Anniversary

14 years ago today I was having my makeup and hair done for me.

Today I call it a win if I make it out of the house with mascara on and get to blow dry my hair.

14 years ago today I was buckling up my Kenneth Cole Exclusive Wedding Line shoes.

Today I’m thrilled with a new pair of Toms.

Happy Anniversary

14 years ago today I was basking in the sounds of guitar and flute trio playing music from my favorite movies.

Today I have the theme songs to Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger, Teen Titans Go and Breadwinners memorized.

Happy Anniversary

14 years ago today I was dancing the night away with my friends and new husband.

Today I’m rocking it out to Lego Movie soundtrack and trying to impress kids with my sweet moves.

14 years ago I was surrounded by 300 family and friends who were cheering us on to a new life.

Today (by today I mean any given Saturday in the fall)I get to be surrounded by 85,000 people cheering for something a little different.

Happy Anniversary

14 years ago I thought I was in love and marrying the man of my dreams.

Today I realize that I knew nothing about how much in love I could be.  

14 years ago I had no idea that watching my husband play with our kids would melt my heart.  

Happy Anniversary

I had no idea that he would exceed my expectations as a husband, father, friend, confidant, and all that other mushy stuff.  14 years and still going strong.

Happy Anniversary

 

 

How to recruit younger women to your volunteer organization

September 15, 2014

recruit younger women to your volunteer organization

This post could also be called “How in the world did you get all of those young moms to join a volunteer organization?!”

recruit younger women to your organization

(look how cute we are…learning at Assistance League National Conference)

Two weeks ago I attended the Assistance League National Conference.  (<– click to see all the fun pics from Disney World) 4 of the 6 of us attending from our chapter were “younger” women, meaning, we have school age children.  I was the baby of the group at a ripe old age of 38.  

What is interesting about national conference is that typically our chapter is the youngest one there.  Traditionally, Assistance League is made up of retired women who want to do good in their community.  Our chapter has lots of those women but it also has a large number of younger women who want to give their time and talents.  During the convention women would come up to us asking our advice on how to grow their “younger” membership.  To these more experienced members, us moms are just babies.  They love that we want to be a part of the organization but aren’t sure how to get these women to join their chapters.  

I came back home and sang the praises of attending Nation Conference to our membership.  As I looked out over the women in our chapter I noticed we had a nice balance of seasoned women, moms of high school and college age children, moms of young children and new moms.  There were even a few women there who looked significantly younger than myself.  While our ages vary we all have one thing in common, we have a heart for service, and that’s a very beautiful thing.  It got me thinking…how have we been able to recruit younger women to our chapter?  

For those 3 Assistance League members who have stumbled upon this and wonder how to get the young moms to join your chapter, here are my suggestions…in my humble opinion.

5 Tips on how to recruit younger women to your volunteer organization

1. Make your requirements more flexible.  Find volunteer opportunities for these moms on the weekends or evenings.  Some of them, like me, will use their Mother’s Day Out time to volunteer.  Some don’t have child care so you need to think of places and ways they can volunteer that will either allow them to bring the kiddos along or volunteer when dad can watch the kids.

 

2.  Ask your daughters and daughters-in-law to join and then have her bring two friends.  We stay-at-home moms like to do things in packs.  Convince  one mom to join by offering to host a wine and fondu party for her friends.  Stay-at-home moms will come out of the woodwork if you tell them there is wine and chocolate.  Allow them time to drink and socialize and then give them your elevator pitch.  Show them how much fun it can be while serving their community at the same time.  

 

3.  Let them know its okay to bring their kids to meetings.  Many moms think that they can’t join a group like Assistance League because they don’t know what to do with their kids at meetings.  If you have general meetings during the day think about providing child care for those two hours at your chapter house or meeting place.  If you tell a mom that she will get to sit still and eat adult snacks for two hours while someone else wrangles her kids…for free…she is all over that.  

 

4.  Infiltrate the PTA.  Several of our members joined because they were active on their PTA and the other PTA members were also members of Assistance League and encouraged them to join.  Find out who the PTA president is and ask if you can come and do a presentation about Operation School Bell (or your most meaningful program if you’re not an Assistance League member, preferably the one that effects school age children) at their PTA meeting.  Pull at their heart strings and show them how much you are doing for the kids in their school and you will find new members who want to do the same.

 

5.  Make sure meetings and requirements are quick and to the point.  Moms these days are busy with a capital B.  We have toddler ballet classes to attend, story time at the library, pre-school to pick up and Gymboree classes to go to.  Then we have to pick up the older kids at elementary school, shuttle kids to piano, soccer and gymnastics.  We have PTA meetings and zumba classes.  In between all of this we have to find time to do laundry, clean the house, cook dinner , take the dog for a walk and make love to our husbands.  Let’s just say we have a lot on our minds.

Now lets here from you.  What are your tips on getting younger women to join and be active in your volunteer organization?

 

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Favorite Children’s Authors

September 10, 2014

I’m back on Oklahoma LIVE this month with some of my favorite children’s authors.  I really love this segment because I feel like reading to your kids is one of the best things you can do for them.  

All of these books have been kid and mom tested by myself and my boys.   

First up is one of Addison’s favorite series, The Origami Yoda Series by Tom Angleberger.  This series is so witty and has sparked so much creativity from him.  The series is told from 6th grader’s point of view and incorporates their love of Star Wars.  The kids have created origami Star Wars characters that help them out in tight spots.  Addison and his friends have even created their own Origami Yoda work book from the inspiration they gleaned from this series.  When I showed him the newest installment, Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus (Origami Yoda),  I saw that little grin and suppressed excitement as he hurried off to see what the characters were up to in this book.

 

Since I’m in Oklahoma I have to include an Oklahoma author.  When I asked around about a really legit Oklahoma children’s author Tammi Sauer’s name came up.  When I looked her up I realized that I already loved her book Mostly Monsterly because it had been one of those little free books in the Cheerios box.  I am loving these books because the main characters are a little bit different from all of their friends.  They could become outcasts but they embrace what is unique and special about them and celebrate it and in turn their friends appreciate them too.

I’m really excited about this author.  Justin Roberts is a popular children’s musician and rocks the house.  Dear Husband and I love his music because it’s not annoying or sappy.  Remember how you felt standing out in the outfield all by yourself, or when you got lost at the mall, or the excitement you felt when the P.E. teacher pulled out the big parachute?  Justin’s lyrics are just what you were feeling way back when but witty and set to cool music.
The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade is the first children’s book for Justin Roberts.  Its based on his song Billy the Bully.  Margaret is the smallest girl in the smallest grade and she is super observant.  She sees the bullies being mean and the injustices that all the other kids over look and one day she just can’t take it anymore and stands up for what she knows is right.  Love.

If you saw today’s show and are here because of that, bless you.  If you loved it, set your DVR for the 2nd Wednesday of every month at 4:00 p.m. on KSBI.  If you are over the moon about seeing me on the show, send Oklahoma LIVE an email and tell them how much you love my segments and how your life is exponentially better because of it and how you just can’t live without it.

 

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Assistance League and Walt Disney World

September 9, 2014

Disney World

(Assistance League delegate at the final night of National Conference)

This past weekend I was able to take a trip to Orlando.  You may be thinking, oh, you got to take a family vacation to Disney World!  Nope.  This trip was big girls only.  I went with 5 other women from my Assistance League chapter to attend the national convention.  I was lucky enough to attend and even more lucky that it was just down the road from the happiest place on earth.

 

Assistance League is an amazing organization with chapters all over the US.  3.2 million volunteer hours helping to provide new school clothes to hundreds of thousands of children.  Did you see that?  3.2 MILLION volunteer hours.  That’s a crap ton of volunteers doing good in our country.  Providing new school clothes is on top of all of the additional philanthropic programs that each chapter autonomously chooses to provide for their communities.  These women are making a big difference in a big way.

But today’s post isn’t about Assistance League National Conference (that is coming up later this week).  Today’s post is about the Happiest Place On Earth.  Going to Disney World is just as fun without kids, if you’re a kid at heart.  In between meetings and networking we were able to find time to visit a few of the parks.  I wasn’t about to fly all the way to Orlando and stay in a hotel just a mile from Disney and not go.  Nope, not me.

Turns out that September is the prefect time to visit Disney World.  The crowds weren’t bad at all and there was hardly a wait for any of the rides.  We walked right on to Tower of Terror, Pirates and Small World (and everything else had a 5-10 minute wait.  That’s nothing in Disney terms).  I think the longest we waited for any of the attractions was 45 minutes and even that flew by.

Visiting the parks at Disney World can be just as fun without kids.  All you need are some friends who are just as excited about the magic of Disney as you are.  It also helps if they like riding the scary rides and don’t mind waiting with you for 45 minutes to see Ariel.

Disney World

Disney World

Everyone needs a hug from Minnie.  It will cure what ails ya.

Disney World  

Disney should have a “princess for a day” for grownups who are still giggly and in awe when they see these beauties.  I’d be all over that.  Did you hear that Disney?  I just gave you an incredible idea to make even more money.  You can thank me by allowing me to be your test subject.

Disney World

 Other than getting a hug from Minnie and hanging with Ariel the best part were the scary rides.  Tower of Terror, Space Mountain and Rock ‘N Roller Coaster were the bomb.  I think I lost my voice on T of T.

Disney World

 

It’s been at least 25 years since the last time I was in Disney World.  It’s just as fun (maybe more) as an adult.  Now that I’ve had a taste for a Disney World vacation, Dear Husband and I are saving up.  It’s going to take a lot of pinching pennies to take the whole family for a week but I’m bound and determined.  Anybody want to drop $5000 in my lap?

 

 

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End of Summer Recap

September 1, 2014

There is something about August 30th that feels so final.  I know that we have at least another month (maybe more) of really warm weather but now that we’re on the eve of September it all seems like a down hill slide toward Christmas.  Right now I’m sitting outside and it’s pretty hot but the wind is blowing and I can see just a few yellow leaves on the vines covering our pergola.  Feeling and hearing the wind blow around me is like summer is telling me good bye, that the wind is blowing it to the southern hemisphere and making room for fall and winter.  

When I was a kid it seemed like my mom always bought me new clothes right before school started.  They were always fall colors and styles and signaled the end of summer and start of a new school year.  I haven’t been very good about buying new school clothes for my boys before school starts because it’s just too difficult to think about long pants and hoodies when it’s 98 degrees out.  The new school clothes will come soon enough but I think because I put it off all that comes with the start of a new school year has snuck up on me.  

Yesterday was the first football game for our beloved university.  That snuck up on me and one week ago I found myself scrambling to find a sitter.  I kept thinking I have tons of time only to realize that I was out of time.  Thankfully I found someone and we were able to make it through the heat only to leave early because my head cold made me want to curl up on the concrete and take a nap.  We won, by the way, handily.

summer recap

Just a few days before college football snuck up on me, Harry started preschool.  I had been thinking about this all summer, excited about the new school he was going to, excited about his new back pack and water bottle, excited that he picked out a new Batman shirt to wear.  Then we went to drop him off and I had that mixture of excitement and sorrow.  Up until this year he had been attending Mother’s Day Out at our church.  This didn’t seem like a big deal to me because between the two boys we had been going there for six years.  It was at our church and all the teachers were so familiar that it felt like a second home to us, not school.  Now we took him to a new preschool and I walked away and felt that tightening in my chest that all moms feel when they realize things are moving way too fast and why can’t he just stay this age forever.  I know he can’t stay 4 but I desperately want him to.  I watch his little face, listen to his little laugh, cherish his little voice and try to imprint these things in my mind so I never forget just how precious he is.

summer recap

Just a few days before Harry went to preschool, Addison started 4th grade.  This year hasn’t been as bitter sweet as past years because we’re still an entire year away from 5th grade and I don’t think about 5th grade.  Last year was tough because 3rd grade is on the “older kid” side of the school.  Instead of turning left each time we passed through the doors, we had to turn right.  It was a big deal for me.  This year it was the same routine.  We had this “big kid” side of the school down and my throat didn’t tighten up with I turned right this time.  Plus, we’re an entire year away from 5th grade and we won’t talk about 5th grade.

 

summer recap

In just a few days it as all snuck up on me.  Before I know it I’ll be preparing for Addison’s birthday, buying Halloween costumes, roasting turkey and dragging out Christmas decorations.  Can it please slow down, just a little?

Easy Fig Preserves

August 25, 2014

Easy Fig Preserves

 

The weekend before school started I took the boys to visit my parents for one last hoora.  My mom had a few pounds of figs from her tree that needed something done with them.  Fig tarts, jam and spreads are delish but the easiest thing to do is make fig preserves.  This recipe is so simple and easy anybody can do this.  These easy fig preserves are the perfect place to start for someone who is wanting to get started with canning and learning how to make jam.

Easy Fig Preserves

There are only 3 ingredients in these fig preserves.  Figs, sugar and lemon.  The ratio to fig and sugar is 1 to 1.  Yes, it is a lot of sugar but it is so delicious.  The end result it almost like candied figs.  We also had a lot of juice left over so we canned that to use as fig syrup.  How awesome will that be on ice cream or pancakes?!  

1.  Use a heavy stock pot.  For every pound of figs one pound of sugar.  We had 4 pounds of figs and 4 pounds of sugar.      

Do NOT add water

2.  Cook on low heat until sugar melts and figs create their own juice.  Gently stir to combine.  

3.  Thinly slice a lemon (discard seeds) and add to the pot.  Simmer on low for 45 minutes to one hour.

4.  While the figs are simmering, wash your jars and lids in the dishwasher (no soap) just to heat them up and sanitize them.  Keep them hot until you are ready to assemble.  

5.  Also, while the figs are simmering, fill your canning pot with water and put it on the oven to boil.  This is a crap ton of water and will take a long time to get going so it’s fine to start it while the figs are cooking.  

6.  When ready to fill your jars, assemble all of your supplies:  hot jars/lids, wide mouth funnel, ladle, wet dish cloth, dry dishcloth.     Fill your jar with figs and syrup.  Use the wet dish cloth to wipe off the top of the jar and clean off any sticky syrup.  Put on the lid and tighten. These jars are hot, the kind of hot that will make you swear so you’re going to want to protect that manicure (that’s where the dry dish cloth comes in.)  

7.  Time for a water bath.  Place the jars in your canning pot and boil for 15 minutes.  Make sure the water comes up to the bottom of the lid.  Don’t completely submerge.    

If you are new to canning you must have a canning rack inside of your pot.  If you’ve been doing this a while you can skip these instructions and move on to step 8.  

A canning rack will hold your jars while they are taking their bath.  You CAN NOT place your jars directly on the bottom of the pot.  I’m not exactly sure what will happen if you try this with out the rack.  My guess is it will set of a chain reaction of events that will lead to the apocalypse.  This theory is unfounded…but I wouldn’t test it if I were you.

8.  Remove the jars and set aside to cool.  When you hear the pop you’ll know your jar is sealed.

easy fig preserves

easy fig preserves

 

easy fig preserves

 

easy fig preserves

These figs were just a small part of our trip.  The rest of the time was spent at the water park, playing in the sprinkler, swinging on the swings, petting the cat and general frivolity.

easy fig preserves

easy fig preserves

easy fig preserves

easy fig preserves

easy fig preserves

easy fig preserves

easy fig preserves

 

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Easy Laundry Room Makeover

August 22, 2014

easy laundry room makeover

Earlier this summer I was forced to take stock of my laundry room.  Our washer kicked the bucket and we had to buy a new one.  Since I had to clean off the clutter around the old washer to make way for the new washer I thought this would be a good opportunity to give my laundry room a makeover.  

I have plans to make my laundry room a little bigger but those plans involve a contractor and money so who knows if those plans will ever come to fruition.  In the meantime I discovered a way to have a very cost effective and easy laundry room makeover.

Step One:

Admit that your laundry room is a complete wreck and is need of serious attention. Continue reading

An Open Letter To Moms Sending Their Kid to School For The First Time

August 15, 2014

letter to moms sending their kid to school

Dear Overly Excited Mom With A Child About To Enter Public School For The First Time - 

This is an exciting time.  You and your precious child are about to take the leap into the unknown…public education.  Since you’re a reader of ‘mom blogs’ you probably also have Pinterest boards of back to school organizational ideas, new teacher gift ideas, fall class party ideas and any number of uber-crafty ways to impress your new teacher. Continue reading

Back to School Essentials Giveaway

August 13, 2014

Back to School Essentials

I’m excited to announce that I’m going to have a regular, monthly segment on Oklahoma LIVE.  I’ve tricked them into thinking I know what I’m talking about when it comes to parenting and all the fun stuff you can get for your kids.  So, if you’re in Oklahoma, set your DVRs for the 2nd Wednesday of every month on KSBI, 4:00 p.m.

This month the topic is Back to School Essentials.  Check it out…

Continue reading