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Friday, December 30, 2011

Dorito Chicken

I'm sorry, I don't have an finished dinner shots, LOL. The kids were *hungry* and it was time to eat, so the camera was quickly forgotten. But, I can tell you how to make it, although I do not have exact measurements - if you like doritoes and you like chicken, you will love this!

We usually make about a pound of chicken breasts. For that, you'll need almost a bag (not the big family size, just a regular size) of doritoes. Crush them up as small as possible - I do it right in the bag (of course, after we've pulled out the top 1/4 or so to eat! LOL). You'll also need an undisclosed amount of mayo (seriously, I have no idea how much - enough to coat all the chicken?) and italian seasoning. You can see that I've separated the doritoes and mayo into two pans - you'll need to add the italian seasoning to the mayo (again, no clue on the amount) - enough to make it look like the bottom picture?

Before I start coating the chicken, I set the oven to 350 degrees and get my baking tray ready to go. Next, lather the chicken in the mayo - don't be shy, it adds flavor! And then coat the mayonnaisey chicken in doritoes - again, don't be shy! Then place the chicken breast on the baking tray. Once you have everything nice and covered, your fingers are gooey and the chicken is placed on the baking sheet, bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.

We usually serve Dorito Chicken with steamed broccoli and stovetop but you can of course serve with anything you like! This is one of our standard go-to meals and everyone (except Lovebug) eats it up! It's a little messy to make, but so, so tasty! AND - the chicken makes great leftover quesadillas with broccoli and cheddar cheese, so yummy!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Post-Christmas Thoughts

Now that all of the craziness of Christmas has slowed down, I've started to reflect a bit. Ok a lot. LOL. And I can admit that I am guilty of getting wrapped up in the consumerism of Christmas. I wish I could say that our Christmas celebration has always been about Jesus. I would be embarrassed now to even share pictures of a few of our early Christmases with kids. Even now, I have trouble suggesting ideas for our relatives about what to gift the kids because they. have. every. thing. EVERYTHING. Slowly though, over the last several years, DH and I have both come to realize how over-the-top it all is. Actually, I think it's fair to say that DH always thought I went overboard, so maybe I had to catch up to him first in my thinking ... and we are both now realizing that the smaller-scaled gifting version of what we do is still probably too much.

I don't want my kids growing up thinking that's what Christmas is ... just a day when they get to unwrap mounds of gifts that they may or may not play with. And frankly, I don't want to celebrate Christmas like that. It's expensive and stressful! I mean, the WHOLE POINT of Christmas is to celebrate our Savior's birth and what He sacrificed for us. We have added some traditions into our Christmas celebration to bring Jesus to the forefront ... we talk about Jesus' birthday quite a bit and do a few other things. But let's face it, the kids are still mostly excited about those gifts on Christmas morning. Regardless of whether they come from us, another family member, or that one gift from Santa ... that's the main excitement for them.

So how do I change that? For my kids? For my family? At least for the gift-giving part, we are going to implement The Story of 3 Gifts next year for the kids ... adopted (stolen) from my dear friend Kelly. For the first time this year, I read her post about how they "do" Christmas and I thought to myself, THAT is what we should be doing. Making the gifts *mean* something to the kids. Making them *think* about what Jesus did for us. I loved it and shared it with DH, and he loved it too. He even shared it with someone else after that. And now I'm sharing it with you. I'm excited about this change and am looking forward to working on a few other changes as well.

Watching the Advent Conspiracy video really opened my eyes as well. If you haven't viewed it yet, I encourage you to do so. I don't want to write anything about it because I think the video will do the talking. Maybe it will affect you in the way it did me and DH. We watched a version of it at church too and changed a (small) portion of our gift-giving this year to reflect what we saw.

This video got me to start thinking. My life is full of choices. I make small decisions every second of the day ... whether to get that cup of Starbucks (guilty!!), whether to buy the extra toy for my kids (guilty!!) ... or whether to buy that one extra thing on Amazon because it was free shipping (GUILTY!!!). Truly, I do not *need* most of the things I buy. I am so guilty of buying extra junk that I don't need. What if I stopped buying just a small portion of those non-essentials and put that money toward something GOOD? Wouldn't THAT be a true birthday gift for Jesus?

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6: 19-21

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fabric Tie Wreath

This was one of the Christmas crafts we worked on that I couldn't share beforehand. I love how these came together (we made 2 - this one and a Christmas-themed one). These are so easy peasy to put together, require NO sewing, and can be made with fabric that you have laying around. I, of course, did not have enough fabric in the right colors, so I needed to purchase more. But I had so much fun doing it - you can really use any colors or patterns you want, with any combination to match decor, holidays or even sports teams! Possibilities are totally endless. And depending on what you have around the house - your cost could be very minimal - you only need the fabric and a straw wreath. Well, and a cup of coffee while you work :-)
So I picked 5 different fabrics and cut them in long strips - roughly (very roughly) 2 inches x 18 inches ... some were long, some shorter depending on the length of the fabric. The great thing is that for this project, it doesn't really matter! I used a rotary cutter and it was a snap.
The next step is so easy and the kids can help! You just need to tie, and then knot, the fabric strips around the straw wreath (I think this is maybe a 12-inch wreath but I'm not sure anymore). This is probably the slowest part, but Angel and I did it together. Once we had filled up the wreath, I looked it over and filled in a few extra fabric strips in areas where I thought the wreath needed to be fuller.

Then I picked a "top" and loosely tied a piece of fabric onto the wreath as a hanger ... and then tied another piece into the loop to actually hang. I hope that makes sense - you can make the image bigger below to get an idea.

So I hope this post inspires you to make your own Fabric Tie Wreath! I am all about a fabric project that includes NO sewing! Woohoo!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Oh these two ... together they are such an amazing duo ... a wonderful pair. Well, on most days anyway. Today was one of those days. Sunshine has a found a perfect place as the youngest sibling, but there will just always be a connection that the older two share.

Baby Steps

Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps. What a great Christmas gift - she actually did this yesterday on Christmas day but we didn't capture it on film. We've been working so hard for the past 7 months to get to this point! I know it's only a few unsure steps ... but to us, wow, it's something pretty wonderful. So proud of this girl, she has worked SO HARD!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A new tradition & Cinnamon Gingerbread Ornaments

We started a new tradition this year of a "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree for the kids' homemade (or school/church-made) ornaments this year. It's on the small side and I think we'll have to replace it soon, but I love this idea of the kids having their own Christmas tree with their own ornaments. Isn't it cute? I put it in the basement where they would see it a lot while playing (and honestly, I was out of space on the first floor! LOL). I love their precious handmade crafts ... all of the hard work and love that goes into them ... oh they just brighten my day. But ... our tree is overwhelmed with "regular" ornaments ... all of the little pieces we have picked up through the years - the ornaments that remind us of our family memories - new milestones, vacations, special places, etc. So this was a great idea for us - a way for ALL of our special memories to be displayed!

Oh and I can now post about one of the fun crafts that we did this year - Cinnamon Gingerbread Ornaments! Oh boy do these smell delicious! I admit, they were a little messy and mildly labor intensive, but I think the results were worth it for our olfactory systems :-)

So here's the recipe/directions if you're interested:

Cinnamon Gingerbread Ornaments

3/4 cup cinnamon
1 tbsp allspice
2 tbsp cloves
1 tbsp nutmeg
1 cup applesauce

Combine first 4 ingredients and blend well. Stir in applesauce and mix well. Roll out 1/4 inch thick on ungreased cookie sheet (err to the thicker side - thinner ornaments break more easily). Cut with cookie cutters of different shapes. Put a tiny hole in top with a toothpick (I used a straw to make a bigger hole). Let dry 4 days (I put them on cooling racks - only took about 2-3 days). Put a string through hole and hang on Christmas tree. Can also make hearts for all year home ornaments. Smells wonderful.


These are so amazingly scrumptious smelling ... but be careful with them, as they are extremely breakable.


Lots and lots of playing with new games :-)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day Bliss

MERRY CHRISTMAS from our family to yours! I hope you had a wonderful day! Our morning started bright and early at about 7am ... we told Angel she wasn't allowed to get up before then :-) LOL. The kids each got one gift from Santa - Angel asked for makeup (ugh), Lovebug asked for a "big choo-choo" and we got to decide for Sunshine this year :-) They had so much fun opening their gifts and Sunshine just dug right in and was happy to open anyone else's gift that would let her. She loved unwrapping!

It was a really wonderful morning that included my family, gift-giving and gift-receiving, lots of coffee, and scrumptious brunch food. Of course, we were all most delighted to watch the kids open their gifts - oh they had so much fun! It's so easy to remember what it was like as a kid on Christmas morning, and it's truly amazing to see it through their eyes as a parent.

Unfortunately these are the only pictures I have. Like I have said before, I'm more into experiencing than documenting when it comes to family events and celebrations like this. I'm thankful that DH shot the few that he did of the kids opening Santa's gifts (loved his long-legged knee in the bottom right of all the shots! LOL), because the only other ones that I shot were of Lovebug checking out the gift we were ALL excited to give him ... it came from Nana & Granddad (my parents) ... le piece de resistance ... a human-powered Go Kart. Ummmm, yeah he pretty much loved it. LOL. And we all loved seeing his face even more.

Traditionally, Lovebug has been very scared of any moving toys that make noise. He's been scared of them since he was very young. DH picked up a power wheels go cart for him a couple years ago, but Lovebug refused to ride it because he was so deathly scared of it. We have almost no toy trucks or cars in our house that make noise, although he is *slowly* coming around to the coolness factor of a lot of them. I mean, you have to outgrow a fear like that eventually, right?! So anyway, when my Dad saw a pedal Go Kart, he knew it was the perfect stepping stone for Lovebug to a real Go Kart (did I mention that we have decided Lovebug is going to be the next Jimmie Johnson? ... or Jeff Gordon if you ask my Dad ... or Kyle Busch if you ask DH. LOL.)

So in summary, it was a fantastic, absolutely terrific, wonderful, amazing, perfect day. Lots of family time and the kids? Well, they had so. much. fun. Now if we can just decide how to get more commercialism out of our Christmas celebration and more Jesus into it ... a post to come on that soon. Merry Christmas to everyone and Happy Birthday to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve with the Brooks Clan

I just love our Christmas Eve tradition ... we've been doing it for as long as I can remember ... dinner and church (in different orders depending on the year). I am thrilled we decided not to cancel this year, it's always so much fun. Unfortunately we didn't do church this year because of Lovebug's eyes (you can't tell in these b&w shots, but his eyes were bloodshot), and we were concerned he might pass it onto another child.

I don't see my brothers nearly as much as I'd like, but I sure do love them. There's always a connection ... and we always have so much fun together. And the kids love them ... well I can't say that for Sunshine quite yet, but she *will* love them, she just doesn't know it yet :-)

I whipped out the camera after Sunshine was in bed for a quick shot of me with my brothers. And then the kids were just being so cute with brother #1 and Nana ... well I couldn't help but snap a few of them too. Unfortunately Sunshine was already in bed :-(

And sadly, that's all I have from Christmas Eve ... I am terrible at capturing events. I much rather enjoy experiencing them, so I rarely do a good job documenting parties and family gatherings. Dad & DH, I am so sorry you aren't in any of these!

Reindeer Food

Reindeer food ... yes, it's one of those totally *not* faith-based traditions that we DO partake in. And it's just plain fun, the kids have a blast making it. We almost forgot this year with all of the sicknesses, but Angel reminded us before dinner on Christmas Eve, which we DID get to do!

It's mostly oatmeal, with a bit of glitter, sprinkles and marshmallows. Of course magic reindeer can eat glitter, right? LOL. The kids set a bowl out on the front steps that got "knocked over" while the reindeer were eating it. They thought that was pretty cool :-)

Christmas baking, finally!

It's Christmas Eve, and we are finally feeling well enough to bake! Yay! I was afraid this tradition was going to get passed over completely because we were too sick, so glad we were able to pull it off! Angel helped me do most of it - we made a birthday cake for Jesus (you can see it in that last shot on the right), sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies. She didn't stick around for the chocolate chip though ... she is one of the only kids I know that doesn't like chocolate. LOL. She also doesn't like having her picture taken, but did ok with these as long as she didn't have to *look* at me. Sheesh.

Sunshine really wanted to help out too, and I did let her hold the handheld mixer a few times, but I couldn't take pictures of that AND hold her. She mostly just hung around the floor at our feet, hoping and waiting for the chance to help. LOL. She is so precious! I adore that 4th shot (if you ignore that it's not in focus) because if you look at the bottom, you can see her head poking up from the floor. She wanted so badly to be in on the fun!

I am thrilled we were able to get some baking in. I love doing it every year ... I could do without the sugar cookies, but I don't think Angel would forgive me. Maybe we'll try for some more baking next week too, I am craving some oatmeal raisin cookies!