Friday, September 30, 2011

One Last Fashion Hurrah

My one "real" outfit for the Fall Fashion week. 


Extra fabric is the best!

Fashion and Frogs

So I got really dressed up in my pretty sweater yesterday...
(It's like wearing a big ruffle around yourself, and it will be a staple this fall and winter! And by the way it was bought at an off season sale for a song--how much is a song? Around $6!)
So I got dressed up like I said for a very important date with some...
of these critters. The oldest has been collecting them the last few days and yesterday she shared them with the youngest. I was a bit surprised to see my squeamish youngest go right to the little thing and love all over it, but I shouldn't have been. She is my social one and she just adopted those frogs as little people that needed love.
Speaking of that, I've been studying my youngest more lately. What are her learning styles? How does she go about living life? Other than the screaming--she has a slight fit problem--she is definitely the one of my children who lives for others. She can sense emotion around her (maybe that frog was feeling a bit down) and she responds to it. Is someone sad in the grocery store? She will give them a smile or a wave. Is her brother crying? She will give him an, "It's all right!" or maybe come and get the parent to give him more effective love. 
I'm having a bit harder time figuring out her style of learning. Anybody out there got a similarly affectionate child and have pointers? Her brother completely spoiled me because while I was teaching the oldest he would spend a happy hour dividing the blocks into piles according to color. No such luck with this one. 
Back to the fashion: Thanks so much to Emery Jo over at Moms Are For Everyone for hosting another great fall fashion week! I feel as if I barely participated, but I'm thankful for the inspiration it gave me to figure out what I have for fall and winter (and post a catalogue on the Of Such is the Kingdom FB page



Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall Beauty

No, not me, silly. Look down the page for the real fall beauty!
Funny how it's always the unposed pics that I like the best. Thanks to the hubby for taking a few pics of me the last few days and putting up with me saying, "Another one, please."
And yes, the chacos are for function rather than beauty--
who can resist hiking in all this fall wonderfulness?
And maybe that little corduroy number could be rated among the fall beauties. I bought it at a children's consignment sale! The one I frequent just started carrying junior's clothing and I picked this baby up for a mere $4. (Don't worry, I bought plenty of clothes for the kiddos too!)
Here are the real pics from our little walk yesterday:
More beautiful than the richest gowns
Fairies live here, I'm sure.
Old clothes left behind for our inspection
Blue sky fall beauty




Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall Fashion

And here you have one of the go-tos for fall. You know what I mean, right? It's the outfit you feel comfortable and reasonably chic in--enough so that you'd throw it on without thinking for just about anything you have to tackle in a casual way. (Though...look at those knees! I need new jeans. That just leads back to what I was saying yesterday!)
So, here's what I'm thinking. I really need to do some cleaning out, some trying on and some thinking about my fall wardrobe. So I'm going to use Of Such is the Kingdom's FB page for cataloguing some of those outfits. Over the next several weeks, I'll be posting pics of what I have in my closet already. This will be handy for me because if (hopefully when!) I'm out shopping, I'll be able to see exactly what I have on hand.
Thanks for the fall inspiration, all ye Fashion Week ladies!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ah, Fall.

So the weather is cooler and that makes me want to:
A. take a walk
B. spend money
C. bake
Care to take a guess? Why of course it's all of the above, but the one my brain is focusing on this morning is definitely B. Why? Because putting together fall outfits suddenly has become a daily challenge. (And erm, I really would love to have those boots! (Only $278 which is about 8 times my current boot allowance.)
So if I could get up and put on anything I want, the above might be my pick for the day. Tall lace up boots, feminine skirt, loose shirt, and warm sweater would make my fall day! Layered of course because the afternoons can be quite warm, but cozy and cute all day long.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Groceries

Anyone else out there having a little bit of a problem with inflation? I mean the price of eggs, people! Sometimes I just have to close my eyes, reach blindly out and pluck the groceries off the shelf. It's really getting to be painful to see how much the basics have gone up lately.
Last month I had a monthly menu plan to try to help with the absurd spending for groceries. It worked all right, but the problem was, in order to make what I had planned to make extra grocery trips and therefor spent extra money.
This month, I was determined to avoid that problem. So I made a huge shopping trip on September first. Instead of shopping the sales and using coupons, I went to Aldi. I still had to close my eyes as I picked up eggs (used to be $.50!! at Aldi and now is more like $1.75) and cheese (used to be something like $1.25 at Aldi and is now $1.99!) but for the most part, everything is cheaper there. I bought enough meat for the whole month (mostly chicken and ground turkey, which would definitely get boring if we ate like this every month) and enough snacks for the kids to last most of the month.
And it worked. We've eaten really well, and other than sending the hubby to the store to buy ingredients for chili when we were having guests, we've only bought milk and eggs. So instead of spending the $100+ a week, I spent $200 once and maybe $20-30 a week since then. We even threw a party and stockpiled some Mexican meat.
So what's the conclusion in all this? If we had to, we probably could make it through a month with one grocery trip. This is good to know! Will I try this again? Yes! Maybe not every month but possibly every other or every third month. It is certainly a good feeling to escape the stress of seeing all those awfully inflated prices so often during the month.
What do you do to save money at the grocery store?
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Six Word Saturday

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reality Check

Have you ever read the Anne of Green Gables books
They are some of my favorites.
Who can help loving a red head who makes the most wonderful, original mistakes?
The only thing I don't like about the series (and maybe I've said this before) is that after Anne grows up, she never makes any more of those ridiculous mistakes!
I always felt a lot like Anne while growing up. Somehow I managed to get myself into some amazing scrapes (not nearly as wonderful and original as Anne, though!). But guess what? 
I still do it. 
I don't  magically do everything perfectly now that I'm "all grown up." It's not that I'm clumsy or thoughtless, it really isn't! But somehow that knife on the counter does tend to flip off and land upright in my foot (sorry for the graphic example)!
Of course, that isn't life for me all the time. Sometimes I'm able to put out a meal that looks like this:
Beautiful, right? The perfect meal for two. My mom had the kids, the hubby grilled steaks and I made salad and twice baked broccoli potatoes. Yum! I even picked flowers from the garden and put on a table cloth.
But then again, sometimes my cooking looks like this:
Yes. That is broken glass and pork grease on my wood floor. And yes, I did try to put some water on a pork roast that was looking a bit dry. And yes, as I picked up the hot dish to put it back in the open oven it did indeed explode into a million shards all over my kitchen. And yes it took weeks to find them all. And no, I'm not going to tell you what I did with the large, scrumptious-smelling pork roast. 
So there you have it. Just a little reality check for the writer and readers of Of Such is the Kingdom.
When you see a scrupulously clean room or some pretty paper flowers or a creative wedding gift  please know that I am completely, unquestionably human through and through. 
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Cor. 12:9
Please like  Of Such is the Kingdom on FB! When we reach 100 likes, we're giving away 9 dates! (You can like it  here on the blog in the right-hand column. Oh the genius of technology!)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Beautiful Vistas

Just wanted to share a bit of the beauty has blessed us lately.
and p.s. I'm really, really glad to be able to post pics again!
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Monday, September 19, 2011

10 Family Friendly Mexican Foods

The other evening when I was mixing up some meat for chimichangas, a heavenly ray of evening sun entered the kitchen, struck my brain, and gave me the most wonderful idea. What if I made enough meat for several meals at one time? Astounding, I know. Probably no one has ever thought of that before! So I decided to make a huge pot of "Mexican Meat" and use it for the following dishes in the coming weeks. Then a second ray of light found its way into my musty head and another great idea followed--why not pack this "Mexican Meat" full of hidden veggies so that even if I'm a horrible Momma and don't take the time to make a veggie on the side, the fam still gets those vitamins and minerals? And so this Mexi-Meat was born:
5 pounds ground turkey/ground beef
5 packets taco seasoning
5 carrots, grated
2 onions, chopped fine
2 green peppers chopped fine
2 zucchini, grated

2 cans refried beans
2 cans black beans

2 cans chopped tomatoes
Prepare ground meat in a large dutch oven per taco seasoning directions, adding all veggies before letting the seasoning and water simmer. Add refried and black beans and tomatoes after the meat and veggie mixture has simmered.
Cool and separate into quart baggies for 7 to 10 meal sized servings.
(Again I wish I could show you a pic of this magic meat, but my pic uploader is still broken. I'm working on it and will share the goods as soon as I can.)
So here are ten ways you can use your wonderful Mexi-Meat:
1. Burritos--I've always wondered what to call my meat-bean-cheese-tortilla creations, so once and for all, with this list, I'm going to get them straight (with lots of help from ye good ol' internet). For a burrito, warm your flour tortillas and then fill with Mexi-Meat, lettuce and cheese. Top with sour cream, salsa and guacamole.
2. Chimichangas--Wrap tortillas around a small amount of Mexi-Meat and cheese. Most recipes say to deep fry these, but I get hung up with all that grease, so I usually just put butter in my pan and grille them. Feel free to do the deep fry method if that makes you and yours happy!
3. Empanadas--What could be better than the words "fried," "Mexican" and "pastry" in the same phrase??? Use this recipe for an easy pastry. Wrap that around your Mexi-Meat and either deep fry or pour about an inch of oil into your pan and just fry on one side and flip. Drain your pastries and serve with sour cream, cheese and salsa.
4. Tamales--Wrap some Mexi-Meat in a corn tortilla, wrap that in a softened corn husk, and steam for an hour. Serve with the normal salsa, cheese, and sour cream.
5. Taco--Use soft corn or flour tortillas or crisped corn tortillas for your own version of a standard taco. Stuff with Mexi-Meat, Mexican rice, lettuce, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and cheese.
6. Mexican Rice--Serve Mexi-Meat over hot rice and garnish with cheese and sour cream. Easy cheesy as my oldest likes to say.
7. Enchiladas--Fold your Mexi-Meat and cheese into your flour tortillas, tuck into a pan and spread with enchilada sauce and more cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and filling is warmed.
8. Easy Mexican layered casserole--spread flour tortillas in the bottom of a casserole dish. Layer Mexi-Meat and cheese and more tortillas to fill your dish until you end with a cheese layer. Bake at 350 degrees until all is warmed and cheese is melted.
9. Taco Salad--Use Mexi-Meat, lettuce, salsa, cheese, sour cream and guacamole with tortilla chips to create a lovely Mexican salad.
10. Gorditas--Like a lovely Mexican pita pocket, you can make these up and stuff them with your Mexi-Meat, cheese, salsa, lettuce, and guacamole.
So there you have it! 10 Mexican dishes and I only had to cook meat once! Hurrah!




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Friday, September 16, 2011

How Does A Family Slow Down?

Have you ever noticed that life can get a bit, um, HECTIC without you even having to try?
About six weeks ago, I was beginning to pull my hair out over this very thing.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 
Matthew 11:27-29
And I did something I should do whenever I face a problem.
I prayed.
And it was small and quiet and seemingly inconsequential. 
But guess what?
It worked.
(smile)
Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. Mk. 11:23-25

It was kind of unexpected, but this is how He did it: he took away my transportation. 
That'll slow you down, sure enough! 
The hubby and I are down to one vehicle right now, and it has made getting him to work and the kids to school about all that happens around here.
And that has been oh, so good!
Be still, and know that I am God;I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:9-11

We're dropping our Y membership, we did one mega-grocery shopping trip at the beginning of this month (and we still have plenty of food!), and the little one and I ride bikes, take walks, and have play dates with friends who are close by. (Instead of galavanting around doing very necessary--I thought they were anyway--errands.)
A friend texted this a.m. to say that (since the hubby has the car today) she could take me anywhere I needed to go because she had the time.
That was a beautiful gift.
But I couldn't think of anywhere I needed to go!
And that too was a beautiful gift.
...it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. Luke 6:37-39

This season won't last forever. We'll eventually get another vehicle. We'll eventually go fast again. But I have learned something about our busy-ness cycle. It's not near as unbreakable as I thought it was. In fact, all I have to do is stay home.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Of Such is the Kingdom is now...

On Facebook! Come on over and check it out! (see link on the right)
And remember this post about a "Nine Dates Wedding Gift"?
Well, I've decided to give away these same nine dates to my lovely readers! So, when the Of Such is the Kingdom FB page reaches 100 followers, nine of those followers who are also GFC followers, will receive one of these dates!!
So hop over to the FB page, friend it, and then come leave me a comment that you have done so and are a GFC follower. I'll be looking forward to mailing out some fun, encouraging dates!
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Happy Birthday (adult style)

Last week I threw a surprise party for the hubby's birthday. In my mind it was just going to be a small affair--a few couples, kids playing in the yard, beers and barbecue. I invited all the hubby's best friends and wives thinking that most would be busy on a Wednesday night. Well, the hubby is a popular person! Almost everyone invited decided to come, and all-told, we had somewhere around 40 people here! Thankfully I had arranged with a friend to smoke a large pork butt, so I wasn't afraid about the meat feeding everyone. Here's what I added to that excellent smoked meat:
1. hotdogs and buns for the kids--I thought after smelling the smoked pork, most of the kids would opt for that, but I was wrong. The hotdogs went fast!
2. barbecue sauce choices--The hubby loves taste testing different kinds of barbecue sauces, so we had five or six different choices at the party.
3. chips and cheese dip--I know it is probably mostly just salt (and horrible for us!), but the hubby and I love Tostitos Monerey Jack Queso Dip. I served it with tortilla chips as a side. There is never any of that left after a party!
4. buns--nothing exciting here, just a yummy bread to pile all that barbecue on
5. baked beans--A friend made these and they were excellent!
6. cole slaw--My friends, barbecue is better with cole slaw! I've never been a sweet cole slaw kind of person. Here's what I put in mine for the party:

Cole Slaw for a Crowd
2 bags of shredded slaw with carrots
4 extra carrots, grated
1/2 cup mayonnaise +/-
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup chopped pickles
2 T sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together and chill for at least an hour.

7. Cookie tray--I made chocolate drop cookies and my chocolate chip cookies in very tiny sizes. I did it because I was afraid the cheese cakes wouldn't turn out and I would need to feed all 40 people with just the cookies, but it worked out well because they were snacky instead of a huge commitment. Women had an easier time committing to a tiny cookie. : )
8. mini cheese cakes-- I wish I could show you a pic of these beauties, but blogger is being fussy about the pics today. You'll just have to head over to my Recipes and Food page on pinterest and take a look. About halfway down the page, you'll see where I got the idea, though I didn't add the baileys, just the cheeses and the confectioner's sugar (who knew cheese cake could be so easy??). I poured the cream cheese mixture on the "Soft Brown Sugar Cookies" just a little bit farther down the page. Yum! I placed a raspberry or strawberry on each one. They too were a party hit.
9. soda, water, and Capri Suns for the kids--it was a chilly evening, and we had the party on the patio, but the kids were still very thirsty! I'm glad I had so many drinks. I just bought everything bottled or canned so that I could ice it and not have to worry about cups.
10. beer--(and more beer) If anyone asked, "What can I bring?" to the party, I told them to bring their favorite kind(s) of beer. The hubby does not drink tons of beer at a time, but he loves to taste new kinds and figure out his current favorites. We had a lot of different choices at the party. Instead of wrapped gifts, he came away from the party with enough beer to last us a long time.

Can I just say that after the hubby's party last Wednesday and the boy's birthday party yesterday, I am slightly done with parties for a while! My legs are looking for a little rest! It seems that no matter how much I plan, the day of a party is completely full of party prep. It was all worth it, though. The hubby was surprised and everyone had lots of fun.
Happy partying!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Highly Recommend...Staycating

A few weeks ago my husband had a week off, and...(drum roll please)...we stayed home. Gasp! Yes! You read right: a whole week at home and we didn't go anywhere. This has happened exactly twice in our nearly ten years together (stay tuned for an anniversary post next week). The first time it happened, we had a newborn and Christmas fell during our week at home. We did a lot of cozy days by the fire. This time we hit the town!
We hiked at a nearby tourist attraction.

















We canoed at a nearby nature center.

















We rode the Ducks through downtown and splashed into our city's river (and a few of us even got to drive it in the water!)

















We biked as a family beside the same river--10 miles!
We ate out as a family a few times.
We swam at a friend's pool and played at some fun parks.
And what about the price of our little staycation?
Well, we paid $70 for the local tourist attraction, but since we're locals, that $70 didn't just buy us a one day pass, it bought us a three year pass! So I consider that $70 well spent!
We are members at the nature center, so the canoeing was FREE!
We participated in a library program and as a result got a lot of bogos for around town. The Ducks was one of those. We paid $45 for our family of 5. (Still kinda pricey, but it was worth it.)
Biking was free (well, by "free" I mean it didn't cost us anything after all the bikes and helmets and new tires and accessories that we've bought in the past years. You know how it works.)
Everywhere we ate we either used free kids' meals coupons from that library program or email promotions. We spent about $60 eating out three times.
And of course, swimming at a friend's pool and playing at neighborhood parks were both free as well.
So our grand total for our vacay? $175 Pretty cool for a great week of relaxation and fun!
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Clean Room

This is a real and unadulterated picture of the kids' room. All three of them share a room that contains both beds and toys for all the children. This can get a bit, erm, messy at times. This is not a picture of the room after play time, though. This is a picture of what we sometimes do in desperation to create some order in the room. We take every bucket, every shelf, and the closet and pull everything onto the floor. If you look hard in this picture, you might see a child or two hiding underneath the toys. It is exhausting, but the kids see the point of organizing if everything is on the floor.
My mom introduced this version of room cleaning to me when I was a child and I hated it. I swore I would never, ever do this to my children. But what can I say? There comes a time when the buckets of mixed toys never get played with because who knows what could be lurking in their depths!
From this chaos we made sure that all the Polly Pockets were in one bucket, all the legos in another. All the army men went in one bucket and all the kitchen supplies when in the kitchen, and so on.
Here's what we ended up with:
As you can see, we're not looking for perfection here. Just a bit more organization.
And now when the youngest wants to doctor daddy, all the doctor supplies are right there in a nice pink bucket. And (this is the best part!) when we have a house full of kids who will pull out millions of toys, we know where they go and we can easily return them to the appropriate buckets. 
(On a completely different subject, happy birthday to my beloved. I'm loving every passing year more and more!)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Paper Flowers

The oldest and I had a lot of fun creating paper flowers for Grandma last week. We drew shapes of petals on paper (triangles for lilies, ovals for daisies, and scallops for roses), cut them out, and poked a wire through the petals to fasten to a button on the front. We covered the wire with rolled green paper and hot glued anything that was loose. Since we were having to mail Grandma's package (before she goes into the hospital for knee replacements this week), we needed flowers that didn't need water, and these fit the bill. Next time I'd like to try a bouquet of roses, but we were pretty pleased with our cheerful flowers!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

9 Dates Wedding Gift

Give dates as a wedding gift!
Give all nine or break them up for smaller gifts. 
(Or perhaps just go out and buy some of this stuff for yourself!)
From the top:
1. Mix-it-up Drink Date
2. Movie and Popcorn Date
3. Play a Game Date
4. S'more Lovin' Date
5. It's in the Cards Date
6. Candlelit Dinner Date
7. You're My Sugar Rush Date
8. Spa Date
9. Let's Go to the Park Date
I wrapped all of mine and plopped them in one of those large plastic (ice) bins. 
At $3-10 a date, this made a nice gift for some close friends. Any combination of these dates could be used depending on how much you would like to spend.
Happy gift-giving!