Saturday, December 31, 2011



Whew, that was cra-aaazy.  We did four days straight of family Christmas celebrations, plus several more days of being out of town and driving.  We loved it, but it is a lot for the kids.  And their parents, ha.  Very glad to be home and settled now.

Here are the girls on my in-law's gorgeous new porch:

Christmas at my parents':

Indira, 7:

Making Gingerbread houses before we left our own house:

 Mama Jo always has special ball ornaments with family names written in glitter on her tree.  Olivia wanted to make some for our tree this year.  Easy project.  I glitter-ified about ten more things while I was at it, and it was awesome.  I highly suggest a little Christmas glitter.  I leave out all my non-Christmas-y metallics and glitter through January for New Years decoration.

I hope you all had beautiful holidays with your family, and I'll see back here in 2012 with new recipes, my system of freezer cooking, a trip to New Orleans, and lots more pictures (of course).

Happy New Year Friends!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Card Picture Attempts

For the past several years it has been getting progressively harder to get good shots of our whole family for our Christmas cards.  Last year (when I was very, very postpartum-y) I even set up a little photo shoot day with each kid.  Do I need to describe to you the epic fail that attempt was?  Yes?  Perhaps if you've had a baby in the past week, maybe you should not attempt to squeeze into non-maternity pants and make four dressed up children sit for pictures using your camera timer.  Just saying.

Anyway, this year I finally gave up on idea of having one big family shot and did everyone individually.  And that worked out much, much better.

(If you don't know my kids, let me tell you that I did not suggest ANY of these poses.  And yes, I am scared for when they're teenagers).


 Hide your sons.  
Just kidding.  We're not letting her out of the house after she turns 12.

The winner





Poor Baby Henry fell over and hit his head about five seconds into his session, so this is his best shot:

Seth and Shannon
I LOVED taking pictures of just the two of us this year.  It was so much better than trying to get all six of us looking good in one picture.  And now we have some couple pictures, which we almost literally never have. (Seriously.  I take almost 12k pictures a year.  And maybe...MAYBE two have both of us in them.  Thank you to my brother-in-law Jon for giving me a tripod for Christmas last year!  It was awesome).

Running for the timer in heels wasn't working out here.

My cutie husband thinks I am trying to get the focus right, or I would have never got him to take this alone.


I mentioned on FB that I designed our Christmas cards using Picasa this year, and several of you guys have asked me how to do it.  It is really easy.  If you know how to make a collage in Picasa, then you know how to design cards.  (Even if you don't know how, it is quick to learn).  I got more specific instructions from Sarah at Clover Lane.  (Her whole blog is excellent, by the way.  Do you remember the post I shared on FB a long time ago about raising girls?  She wrote that).

I had them printed at Persnickety Prints, and they did an excellent job.  I wasn't happy with the cardstock they were printed on the first time, so she reprinted them for me.  Excellent, excellent customer service.

And ta-da!  The finished product: 

Anyone with two seconds of graphic design experience could do a much better job than this, but it doesn't have to be perfect to be done!  (Low standards are the secret to finishing any project with a houseful of kids).

Merry Christmas Friends!  I hope you are enjoying a peaceful and joyful season!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Kitchen Tip

Do you know that the very fastest way to shred cooked chicken is in your KitchenAid Mixer?  I used to hate spending all that time shredding chicken with two forks or cutting into cubes for recipes and soup.  Now I just throw my chicken into the mixer and voila!  I keep tons of roasted, shredded chicken in the freezer, and it is a lifesaver.  Seriously.

(I am thinking that you may have some leftover turkey that you'll want to use up later this week.  This tip would absolutely work for that turkey breast as well.)

Here's my exact method:

Preheat your oven to 450.  Place your chicken breasts on sheet pan with olive oil and good amount of salt.  Don't crowd them too much, or they'll steam, not roast.  I usually can fit five or six on one pan.  Roast them at 450 for about 35-40 minutes.  (You can do this with chicken that you've boiled too I suppose.  I just think roasting tastes the best!)  Let cool to room temp.

Post-cooking,  Not looking that delish, but they are.

Put several whole chicken breasts in your mixer with the paddle attachment (I have the professional size mixer, and I can safely do five breasts at a time without overflow), and mix on the lowest speed until the chicken breaks up.  As the chicken shreds itself, I turn the mixer up a little bit to get it as shredded as I'd like.  Put the shredded chicken into containers and use immediately in any recipe that calls for cooked chicken, or freeze.

Awful picture, but you get the idea.  Just toss them in there.

I use this chicken for an untold number of things, including easy lunches, chicken salad, quesadillas, enchiladas, casseroles, soup, tacos, fajitas, pasta dishes....the list goes on and on.  Basically, having shredded chicken in the freezer means you can throw together a real meal in less time than it takes to cook a frozen pizza.  Hallelujah!

Finished product.  Amazing, no?!

Go visit Tammy's Recipes for a link-up of Kitchen Tips every Tuesday!  (And some really good tried and true recipes as well).