Monday, August 22, 2011

Meal Planning Monday - Aug 22


I made this tilapia recipe a couple of weeks ago and it was really good! I'm not a huge fish person, but I like it occasionally. This recipe has a dill sauce that goes over the top of the fish. I wasn't sure how it would be with the spices of the fish, so I didn't serve it on top of the fish. I did add it on mine to see how it was and I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor combination! I will definitely be trying this recipe again!

This week:

Monday: Smothered chicken (search for "smothered chicken" at bottom of page), rice, broccoli

Roast, potatoes, carrots

Stuffed peppers, salad

Skillet tacos

Friday: Grilled chicken, grilled potatoes, salad

Saturday: Chili dogs or turkey club

Sunday: church - taco salad, vegetable; supper - to be decided

Find more great menu ideas here!

Friday, August 19, 2011

DIY Laundry Detergent

Thanks to my obsession with Pinterest, I recently discovered a tutorial for making your own liquid laundry detergent. I'm all about trying homemade recipes, learning new skills, and saving a penny, so I wanted to give this a shot. We go through tons of laundry detergent and the price always kills me. This gave me extra momentum to try this.

After checking out the tutorial, I set out to gather my supplies. Here's what I needed:

I had the bar of soap on hand, so all I had to buy was the Borax and Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soap. Those were easily procured at Wal-mart, for less than $6. (Just a note here: I detest going to Wal-mart. However, this particular experience was evidence of a miracle. I was able to get from my car, pick up 3 items, through the check-out, and back to my car in 6 minutes!!! 6 minutes, folks! I'm telling you, if they still had that Supermarket Sweep show, I would definitely win!)

Anyway, back to making the laundry detergent. I decided that since I only had 2 small containers saved up, I would make 1/2 the batch that the tutorial makes. It was super easy. It took me about 25 minutes, not including letting the detergent cool before putting it in the bottles.

Detergent mixture cooling and waiting to go into the bottles.

All finished and ready to be used! (I had a blonde moment while making the detergent. The directions called for adding 2 gallons of water to the mixture to make 2 gallons of detergent. Well, I was only making 1/2 the batch, but my containers weren't 1/2 gallon each. Not thinking, I added 1 gallon of water anyway, thus it wouldn't all fit into the bottles. Duh!)

I used my detergent today to do 3 loads of laundry: towels, sheets, and a vintage tablecloth. I am quite impressed with how well it cleaned. The vintage tablecloth had some set-in coffee stains on it, but when it came out of the wash it was spotless! It took me a while to get over the fact that it doesn't have a strong scent. I loved the scent of the store-bought laundry detergent I usually use, so it was a bit of a shock when I pulled the clothes out of the wash and they didn't have that scent. They definitely smelled clean though!

Since I only used 1/2 cup each of the Borax and washing soap, I have plenty to make more batches. I'm going to keep track of how many loads this current batch does, so I can better gauge the savings. I think I'm definitely sold on it and can't wait to use it more!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Photography Challenge: Week 4

Dinner is the subject for this week's Photography Challenge. At first, I was really excited about this assignment. I love cooking and I love taking pictures. So, what better than taking pictures of what I've cooked!?!? Come to find out, we have HORRIBLE lighting in our kitchen and I didn't want to fool around with trying to get a good picture when I'm starving! So, I took pictures of the food I took to a church fellowship supper Wednesday night. I carted everything into the laundry room, which has the best natural light, and went to town snapping away!

Mixed greens, strawberries, pecans

Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Stuffed Jalapeno Pepper Dip

Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries
(Half of the strawberries were left after church and I ate all of them today!)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Photography Challenge: Week 3

The assignment for the Photography Challenge this week is BOLD colors! This one was a bit challenging for me to think creatively. There aren't many bold colors this time of year in west Texas. Everything is brown, brown, brown!

1/750, F4.0

This is a lap quilt that a dear friend from church made when we got married. I love so many things about it. It's just the perfect size, I love the bright colors, some of the squares have Bible verses, and just thinking about the sweet sister who made it always brings a smile to my face.

Just another note about this's hard to tell, but the quilt is blowing in the breeze just a bit. At the time I was taking this picture, a little cold front was blowing through! The temperature dropped from about 102 to 97!! I could hear thunder in the distance! We're praying hard for some rain and cooler temperatures.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Crouse Family Vacation 2011

We went to the Metroplex this weekend to celebrate Chris' birthday and our 2nd annual Crouse Family Vacation. It was a busy, busy weekend and so much fun!

We arrived in Arlington around 4:30 Friday afternoon, got settled in our hotel room, and headed out to supper with the family. We enjoyed a nice steak dinner at Trail Dust Steakhouse and did some catching up with the family.

After supper we headed to the Ranger's game. Now, I am a Cardinals fan at heart and always will be, but the Rangers are pretty high up there. I just love baseball and especially love going to games. I love the fans, the excitement of seeing and hearing the game first hand, and the smell of stadium food. We had amazing seats for the game and really had a good time.

The game was intense and exciting! The Rangers won in extra innings! Woohoo!

That's a winner! Rangers win!

We watched the firework show as we walked back to our hotel after the game.

Saturday morning we headed out to Hurricane Harbor. It was a good way to enjoy the 100+ degree temperatures we've been so thoroughly loving this summer! We all had a blast swimming and going on the water slides. I was excited that the whitest person in Texas didn't become the reddest person in Texas! I was diligent to apply lots of sunscreen throughout the day!

After spending most of the day at Hurricane Harbor, we all worked up an appetite and were ready for some good food before heading to the Ranger's game again. This time we enjoyed a seafood supper at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen. I tried fried calamari, frog legs, and fried alligator bites. I loved the calamari and alligator, but wasn't such a fan of the frog legs. The taste wasn't so bad, but when I picked it up off the plate it just dangled there. It was just like when I would pick up frogs as a kid, except the body and the rest of the legs weren't there. It totally weirded me out!

It was at Pappadeaux that I experienced one of the best meals I've ever eaten. I ordered the Jumbo Shrimp Brochette. It was jumbo shrimp stuffed with Monterrey jack cheese and jalapeno, then wrapped in bacon and grilled. Oh. my. heavens. We all know how much I love jalapenos, but cheese and bacon are two of my other favorite foods. I also had a loaded baked potato, which I love. I wasn't able to eat everything and it killed me! I wanted to keep stuffing my face, but knew I would face serious consequences. We were getting ready to sit out in the 104 degree weather watching a baseball game after all. Please do yourself a favor and find the nearest Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen and order the Jumbo Shrimp Brochette. It will change your life. Seriously.

My amazing meal....yummmmmmm!

After our lovely supper, we headed out to the game. We enjoyed the same seats that we had Friday night. Chris' dad and sister wanted shirts to celebrate our family vacation and I was assigned the job of shirt designer. I think some of the guys thought it was ridiculous, but I thought it was so much fun! There was no denying that we were together.

A Dad and his sons.

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington

At one point in the game, most of the family left to go get drinks or do some shopping. Chris' niece, Katelynn, and I were left to have fun together!

Katelynn and her foam finger.

Showing off the back of our shirts!

Showing my enthusiasm for Josh Hamilton!

Katelynn told me to have a serious face.

C+L=love (I know, I'm cheesy!)

Me and the Birthday Boy!

The game was exciting, but sadly the Rangers lost. It could have been a better ending to our weekend, but it was still a lot of fun!

Meal Planning Monday - Aug 8


Well, I didn't exactly follow our meal plan for last week. Not at all actually. I only made 2 of the meals I planned, and only 1 of those was on the right day. That's just how some weeks go!

Skillet chicken - - I still haven't found exactly where I got the recipe, but it's super easy. It was basically sauteeing vegetables (I used carrots, onion, green and red pepper), adding in chicken chunks and cooking until done, then dump in a can of crushed tomatoes and spices. I used garlic, basil, oregano, salt and pepper, but you could change the spices around to whatever flavors you would like.

We had a great time in the Metroplex for Chris' birthday and I ate one of the best meals of my life this weekend. But that will be another post.

This week's plan:

Monday: Crock-pot Lemon Chicken and noodles, carrots

Tilapia, rice, broccoli

Taco salad/tacos, guacamole

Chicken tortellini, green beans

Friday: Spaghetti

Brats, potatoes, vegetable

Sunday: Church - Chicken spaghetti, Oatmeal Butter Tart Squares; Supper - leftovers from church or burgers

***Check this page out for more meal ideas!***

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Photography Challenge: Week 2

The topic for this week of the Photography Challenge over at A Step in the Journey is what makes you smile.

I'm thankful for many opportunities to smile throughout the day. I captured a few things that have made me smile throughout the week:

Fresh strawberries for breakfast

1/500, F5.6
Pottery Barn eye candy!

1/180, F5.6
Laundry blowing in the breeze

1/10, F4.5
Beating my brother at Words with Friends :)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Crafty Weekend

Chris was out of town this weekend, which means I tried to stay busy working on a craft project. I've been wanting to make a new wreath for the front door for quite some time. I have a bit of an obsession with wreaths and would have a new one each week if I could! I knew I wanted this one to be summery, but also that could work for any time of the year. After getting some ideas from Pinterest, I set out to Hobby Lobby to gather my supplies.


Hanging on the door! (My sister informed me that I need a few more small rosettes on the top portion of the flower section.)
I am fully aware that the "C" is crooked. I haven't decided if that bothers me or not. I kind of like it, but them sometimes it really drives me crazy. I might pull it off and glue it back on there straight.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Meal Planning Monday - Aug 1


Drunken Rosemary Chicken
- - This was pretty good. It wasn't very bold in flavor, but that might be because I didn't measure my spices. I like a lot of flavor in my food, so I will probably add more spices next time I make it. I threw some frozen broccoli in at the same time I put the rice in, then let it cook on HIGH for about 25 minutes. One dish meal!

Creamy Bacon and Avocado Pasta Salad - - I really enjoyed this pasta salad. It was refreshing, different, and fairly easy to put together. If I make it again, I will probably add in some dry ranch mix.

Cake Batter Rice Crispy Treats
- - First, let me say that I HATE making rice crispy treats. They're so hard to stir, they're sticky, and they often turn out hard. I was excited to make this recipe, because I love all things cake batter flavored! The recipe only calls for 1/4 cup of dry cake mix, but I added about 1/3 cup. Still, I couldn't taste the cake flavor. They still turned out pretty good and the sprinkles add a nice little crunch!

I did have one little incident while making the rice crispy treats:

This week's plan:

Monday: Skillet chicken (I have a recipe, but I can't figure out where I got it from to link it up.), carrots, salad

Tuesday: Tilapia, rice, broccoli

Wednesday: Smothered Chicken, egg noodles, green beans

Thursday: Chris' Birthday Supper!!!! - - Ribeyes, baked potatoes, salad

Friday: Out of town - - Ranger's game!

Saturday: Out of town to celebrate Chris' birthday - - Hurricane Harbor and Ranger's game!

Sunday: Not taking anything to church because we will be going there straight from Dallas; Supper - - Chicken tortellini

Find more menu ideas here!