Thursday, April 28, 2011

We're Ready for Summer!

Grace and I spend a lot of time outside during the summer.  The past couple of days, we've been getting the yard ready.  Joe mowed the grass (the part that isn't swampy) and put together Grace's sandbox.  We still need to fill it!  I put together her picnic table today and brought out some of her toys from last year. 

Most of Grace's big yard toys have been birthday gifts from last year and this year.  We're really lucky to have such generous friends and family.  All of this might seem a bit much for just one 2 year old girl, but this allows us to keep busy at home during the summer instead of spending a lot of money on other summer activities.

Bring on the summer!  I'm pretty sure we're ready for it!   
Sippy Cup Mom

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Takeya Glass Tea Pitchers at Zulily ~ Join today!

I just ordered myself a wonderful Mother's Day gift and thought I'd share the details with you now, since the sale is only running for a short time. 

Have you heard about zulily?  If not, you have to check it out!  Zulily is a super-fabulous, online shopping site that offers daily sales on items for babies/toddlers, kids and moms.  They also offer house hold items, like the items I purchased today.  (More about that in a bit.)

Zulily also has an awesome referral program!  For every person that signs up (and makes a purchase) from your referral code, you earn a $15 credit.  Can you believe it?  A $15 credit just for sharing these great deals with your friends and family! 

So, with that in mind, I invite you to follow the links above and join zulily today! 

Now, to show you what I bought! 

Brew the tea in this pitcher

then, pour the tea into this pitcher over ice. 

I love fresh brewed sweet tea and I drink a lot of it during the summer!  I usually use and electric iced tea brewer to make my sweet tea, but I hate the plastic pitcher that you need to use with it.  I think the combination of these two glass Takeya tea pitchers will work great together to help me make the perfect pitcher or sweet tea! 

What makes this even better?  The price!  Zulily is offering them at very low prices!  The hot tea pitcher is on sale for $12.99 (reg. $20) and the Flash Chill iced tea pitcher is on sale for $18.49 (reg. $30).  Great deals, right?  And to top it off, I had a $15 refer-a-friend credit making the deal even sweeter! 

Note:  After shipping was added and my refer-a-friend discount was deducted, my order came to $24.43!  Not bad for products that would regularly sell for $50! 

Wordless Wednesday ~ Take time to smell the flowers

Grace doesn't have a whole lot to say yet.  Joe and I are both pretty quiet, so maybe that has something to do with it.  She's recently become a lot more vocal (she loves to "sing"), but not too many real words yet. 

Seeing her grow over the past two years (almost), I've realized that Grace is a bit of a perfectionist.  She doesn't just try something and do it part way.  She watches and analyzes something until she KNOWS she can do it without failing. 

She was like that with walking.  She didn't start off with a step or two here and there.  Her first attempt at walking was something like 16 steps at 11 months old.  She didn't walk again until the day before her first birthday and hasn't stopped since! 

If she handles talking the same way as she did walking, she'll be hitting me with a full sentence one of these days! 

Really, though, she has said a few words.  Daddy.  Remmy.  Pretty.  Ready.  Cookie.  

It's a toss up between Daddy and Remmy as to which was her official first word, but if you notice "mommy" is not on the list! 

I was shocked a couple of weeks ago when I took Grace out in the yard on a beautiful sunny day.  A couple of tulips had bloomed and she spotted them right away!  She was so excited and yelled:  "Flower!" and took off across the yard.  I was telling her "no, no!" and "be nice" not wanting her to tear it out of the ground!  I'm not sure if she was even paying attention to me or not, but she bent over and sniffed the tulip!  I was really stunned, since we haven't been around any flowers since last summer and I wouldn't think she would remember to sniff the flowers from that far back. 

Also, I love the fact that *Flower* is included in the list of her first words, since I worked in the floral industry for over 15 years! 

She likes the grape hyacinths, too!  She picks off each little flower and hands them to me! 

I'll be linking this post to the following carnivals and linky parties: 


Monday, April 25, 2011

Menu Plan Monday ~ Week of April 25th

Good Morning, everyone! 

I hope you all had a wonderful week!  It seems like forever since I posted (aside from yesterday's quick post).  Grace is playing nicely while watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, so I figured I'd share this week's menu plan with you.  This is a busy week for us, so I'm keeping dinners really simple: 

  • Monday:  grilled steak, baked potatoes, steamed veggies

  • Tuesday:  wraps (using leftover pepper steak for the filling), salad

  • Wednesday:  cheese steaks, fries, salad

  • Thursday:  spaghetti with meat sauce

  • Friday:  Leftover Buffet.

  • Saturday & Sunday:  undecided

See?!  I told you I was keeping it simple!  Next month, I hope to try a few new recipes that I've seen online.  I'm in a cooking rut, anyway.  I'm getting tired of the same old meals week after week.  Now that it's finally feeling a bit like spring (felt like summer yesterday), I'll have to find some recipes to replace the soups and stews that we ate all winter long! What's your favorite summer recipe? 

Have a great day, everyone!  Don't forget to check out Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menu planning inspiration! 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Hello, Friends! 

I'm so sorry I've been slacking on getting any blogging done, I've been super busy!  But I'll be back to blogging regularly very soon!  For now, I'm just stopping by to wish everyone a Happy Easter!  We just got home from visiting our family and after posting this, I'll be starting dinner for the three of us.  After dinner, I'll be getting some more work done around the house.  Enjoy the rest of your holiday, everyone! 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Parents Magazine Cute Kid Contest: Please vote for Chloe

I've told you all before how much I love Facebook!  It helps me keep connected with our large extended family and has also helped me find some friends from high school that I've lost touch with over the years. 

One of my high school pals entered her daughter in the Parents Magazine Cute Kid Contest and I'm hoping that the Under the Big Oak Tree readers could show some love and vote for this cute little cupid

Meet Chloe.  Isn't she so cute???!!!
So happy and always smiling! 
Chloe is about to turn one this week! 

Voting is easy!  There's no registration required.  Just click on vote and then enter a little code to show that you're a real person voting!  It just takes a couple of seconds!  (You can vote daily, too, if you like!) 



Monday, April 11, 2011

Menu Plan Monday ~ Week of April 11th

Last week was a good week.  I had to make a couple of changes to last week's plan due to being an un-organized mess!  I kept forgetting to take the chicken out of the freezer, so we skipped the Spanish Chicken that was planned for last week.  I ended up making some spaghetti with meat sauce, using the last of the meat sauce from the freezer.  Then, I couldn't find my bag of dried black beans in the pantry (Joe rearranged the stuff in the pantry.  Grrr!).  I was all out of canned black beans, too.  So, again, we skipped the Spicy Black Bean Soup on Friday.  That was okay, since we really had plans to go to my niece's talent show that night, so we really just had to grab something quick and go! 

I've been in the mood to do some freezer cooking, but I really just want to wait until the freezer is completely empty so it can be defrosted and cleaned.  Each week, I've been trying to use something from the freezer.  We're almost out of frozen meat and I can tell we've used up most of our pre-cooked frozen meals since I cannot shut my tupperware cabinet!  The cabinet was looking pretty bare for a while there, since a lot of the containers were used to freeze soups, stews, sauces, etc.  Now, those containers are empty and clean and shoved into the cabinet.  I think it's time to go through and check for cracks, missing lids or things we just don't use and start tossing/donating.  Sounds like a project I can work on while Grace naps today! 

Dinners are going to be easy this week.  I'm trying to keep the kitchen mess to a minimum (I'm a messy cook).  I usually clean up the kitchen after Grace goes to bed for the night, but this week, I want to focus on some projects around the house after Grace is asleep. 

  • Tuesday:  (leftovers) Pulled Pork Sandwiches, pierogies, corn.   Over the weekend, I heated up a tub of pulled pork that our friends sent over for our freezer.  They made a huge batch of pulled pork after the guys all went boar hunting last month.  Tonight, we're finishing up the last of the 2 quarts they sent over.  Between their freezer and ours, we have plenty of pork, so pulled pork will be seen in many of my menu plans this summer! 

  • Wednesday:  Chicken, buttered noodles, vegetables.  I have a 4 lb. pack of bone-in chicken breasts thawing in the fridge.  (What I forgot to thaw last week.)  I haven't decided how to prepare it yet.  I figure I'll either bake it or throw it in the slowcooker.  Or maybe I'll make the Spanish Chicken we should have had last week. 

  • Thursday:  Pepper Steak, rice, egg rolls.  I found a box of frozen egg rolls in the back of my freezer.  I forgot they were in there!  Seems like the perfect excuse to make homemade pepper steak! 

  • Friday:  Undecided.  Something meatless for Lent. 

  • Saturday:  Leftover Buffet. 

  • Sunday:  Hamburgers, Fries, salad. 
Well, there's my plan for the week!  I'll be linking up to Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

DiGiorno Pizza and Hoops House Party!

A couple of weeks ago, Joe and I hosted a DiGiorno Pizza and Hoops House Party.  We thought it would be a good idea to invite our friends and family that are the parents of teenagers!  I don't know about you, but I know for a fact that my nephews eat A LOT of frozen pizza! 

Today, I want to share some photos from that party.  I didn't take many, since I kept checking the oven to make sure I didn't burn the pizza!  Take a look at my ancient oven and you'll see why I had to diligently check the pizza! 

We picked up several of the DiGiorno Pizza kits with sides using the coupons that were included in the DiGiorno Pizza & Hoops House Party Kit.  Until registering for this event through House Party, I had no idea that this particular DiGiorno product was on the market.  In my defense, Joe does most of the food shopping.  And, quite honestly, I was never a huge fan of frozen pizza.  Until now!  This pizza was GREAT! 

For our party, we prepared about 6 pizzas and 5 of the side dishes.  We chose a variety of different pizza combinations:  cheese, pepperoni and supreme.  One of the pepperoni pizzas was slightly over-done, but no one seemed to mind!  We made 2 of the breadstick side dishes and 3 of the wyngz side dishes.  Grace really loved the cheesey breadsticks and gobbled up 2 of them.  I'm glad, since I didn't have her lunch heated up yet.  (She refuses to try pizza!)  As for the wyngz, they went really fast!  So fast, I didn't get a chance to take a picture! 

See the one that got a little over done? 
Even with the cute little kitchen timer that came in my party pack,
I still managed to over cook the first one. 
Tempermental oven!!!  It was still tasty, though! 

This was my first House Party experience and it was lots of fun!  Was a great excuse to invite some family and friends over to try some new products!  If you haven't joined House Party yet, you should!  And if you haven't tried DiGiorno Pizza (with sides or without), you should do that too!  Since the event we've picked up 2 more DiGiorno Pizzas to keep in the freezer for a quick meal or snack! 

Disclaimer:  I was not compensated in any way for this post.  House Party provided the party kit that included coupons for me and my guests as well as some other great items to assist in throwing a great party!  All comments and thoughts are truthful and my own. 


Monday, April 4, 2011

Etsy Love: the Pickled Pumpkin moving sale!

The Pickled Pumpkin is one of my favorite Etsy shops!  I love all of the adorable felt hair clips!  I can always find something perfect to match her outfits! 

Right now, there is a moving sale going on over at the Pickled Pumpkin!  They are selling off some inventory to make the move out of state a bit easier.  So, if you head over to the shop and enter the code MOVINGSALE2 when you check out, you'll save 15% off of your total Pickled Pumpkin purchase!  Including the Easter hair clips that are currently on sale for just $2.  Awesome deal, right? 

The Pickled Pumpkin offers a flat rate shipping price of $2.50 for US customers and $2.70 for customers in Canada!  Take advantage of that low shipping price and order many items at once! 

Disclosure:  I was not compensated in any way for this post!  Just wanted to share this awesome shop and sale! 

Menu Plan Monday ~ Week of April 4th

I skipped menu planning last week.  Honestly, I was bored with food and cooking.  We ate leftovers, frozen pizza and grilled cheese all week.  I even resorted to cooking a package of Chicken Helper (you know, like Hamburger Helper but with Chicken) last night.  We don't eat a lot of Hamburger/Chicken Helper, but I do like to buy a couple of boxes when they are on sale (50 cents or less) to keep in the pantry for "emergencies".  I like to add extra vegetables to the pan while it's cooking, though! 

The menu plan from two weeks (week of March 21st) went well.  There were only a couple of changes that week:  the pasta and scallops ended up being a pasta with vegetables instead and we skipped the BBQ Chicken Enchiladas (they'll be part of this week's menu).

That was also the week that I hosted the DiGiorno Pizza and Hoops House Party!  It went well.  I'll be sharing a few details of the party this week! 

After a week of being bored with food and cooking, I'm having a difficult time narrowing down my ideas for this week.  Too many ideas and not enough days in the week!  As it is, I really can't schedule more than 5 meals for the week, since I need to allow for leftovers (unless I decide to freeze the leftovers). 

Here's what we're eating this week: 

  • Monday:  Chipotle Turkey Chili.  I feel like we just had this recently, but we really like it a lot.  I found some pre-cooked ground turkey in the freezer so I thought I'd use it to throw together a pot of this wonderful chili. 

  • Tuesday:  Spanish Chicken, served with rice and steamed vegetables.  Grace really enjoyed this the last time I made it, so I have a feeling we'll be seeing this dish a lot more often. 

  • Thursday:  Leftovers

  • Friday:  Black Bean Soup.  I've been wanting to try Alli's recipe for Spicy Black Bean Soup for a while, I just haven't gotten to it yet.  I'll serve this with some quesadillas and salsa, making this the perfect meal for Lent.

  • Saturday:  This will be our day to run errands and do some work around the house.  So, we'll either have some fast-food while we're out and about or heat up some leftovers when we get home. 

  • Sunday:  Undecided.  I'd like to make a nice "Sunday Dinner" but I have no idea how far along we'll be on our projects around the house.  It may just end up being leftovers or take-out, depending on which option we choose on Saturday. 

This week, I'd like to make some chicken broth and vegetable broth for the freezer.  I have a bag of chicken scraps and a bag of vegetable scraps in the freezer and I'm pretty sure I'm completely out of homemade chicken broth!  We ate a lot of soup this winter! 

Also, I've been dreaming about this cake since Ellen posted it last week on her blog, A Season for All Things.  It looks so easy and gooey and yummy, too!  Also, I'm pretty sure I have all of the ingredients to whip this together!  I love that it's made in a 9x13" pan, those are my favorite pans for baking!  I'm hoping to get this popped into the oven after I get tonight's dinner started. 

So, that's my plan for this week.  How about you?  What will your family be eating this week?  Share in the comments or join in the Menu Planning fun over at I'm and Organizing Junkie
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