Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Homemade Salsa

A little over a year ago I went to a small group meeting, and someone brought the most delicious salsa!  I couldn't stop eating it!  Before she left that evening, I asked for the recipe!  I personally do not like the chunky salsas that are sold in stores.  I LOVE the restaurant style salsa, however... this can be incredibly difficult to find!  I worked on the recipe until I had it just the way I like it, and I make it as often as I can!

Most recently, I made it for my new small group, and it was a hit!  I have been asked by numerous people for my recipe, so I thought I would share it... why keep the goodness to myself, right?!?!

Jessica's Salsa Recipe
  • I use Classico spagetti sauce, and I collect the jars!  They are GREAT for storing salsa, as they are mason jars!!!  Using plastic containers to store salsa will create STINKY containers!
  • I also make 2 batches of salsa at a time, because the recipe calls for 1/2 of an onion.  I decided that using the whole onion and making 2 batches if the best solution for myself.  The recipe below is for a single batch.  The good part about making a double batch is you can change the heat and create a mild and hot salsa!
  • I have also learned that putting the tomatoes in 1st makes a much more "liquid" salsa!

1 (28oz) Can of Whole Peeled Tomatoes    
3 Cloves of Garlic 
   (I used the prepared minced garlic that comes in a jar... 1/2 teaspoon = 1 Clove)
1 Lime    
1/2 Lemon
1/2 White Onion
2 Jalapenos
1/2 Tbspn Creole Seasoning
   (I use Tony Cachere's Creole Seasoning... they sell the GIANT shaker at WalMart)

Allow tomatoes to drain in a colander, set aside.
Place onion into food processor.  Cut jalapenos (I remove the seeds and membranes, but if you prefer a hotter salsa, leave them in) and add to processor.  Squeeze lime and lemon (beware of seeds) and add to processor.  Add the tomatoes, garlic, and creole seasoning.  Add cilantro to taste, I use enough to cover the top of the ingredients in the processor!  Blend to desired consistency, and enjoy!

 - Jessica

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

All Grown Up

Some days I am completely convinced that there isn't a soul I know who thinks I am capable of raising my children, or myself for that matter!  I am not sure what it is with people offering unwarranted advice on raising my kids.  I know I am not alone in this boat.  From the day I was obviously pregnant, people began saying things that always made me stop and think... REALLY???

I am not sure that people realize that I am all grown up!  I have had a LOT of life experiences that forced me to grow up, maybe quicker than I wanted too.  I have basically been raising myself for 10 years.  I have made a lot of mistakes along the way, but those mistakes have molded me into the person that I am today!  I am a kind, honest, OCD, ADD, considerate, friendly, dependable, respectful person (most of the time), and I actually do consider most everything I do... before I do it! 

Lately I have had a number of people question what I choose to put on the internet.  It is a HUGE insult to me when someone posts to me that I must not have considered my family before I posted something.  That is simply not true.  I would never put anything on the internet that I feel would harm my children or my family in any way.  I love my kids more than words can say.  They drive me crazy occasionally, but I love them just the same!  I would NEVER do anything to put them in harm's way.  I think the most frustrating part about this, at least to me, is that people choose to post these comments PUBLICLY.  This is where I feel insulted.  Perhaps if the comments were sent to me in a private message, I wouldn't feel so chastised!  I think I am probably a bit too nice, and I always sugar coat everything!  I probably expect that from people, because I try my best to never hurt anyone's feelings.  The truth of the matter is... when people sit in front of a computer, the filter tends to fall off!  Everyone says more online than they usually would face to face.

I just wanted to put this out there, for ANYONE who decides to read this.  I will always do what is in the best interest of my children.  If I ask for advice, please feel free to give it.  If I ask a question, please feel free to answer it.  If I do something to harm my kids, report me.  However, when I post a status update, picture, or comment on some one's Facebook... message me personally if you feel it was wrong.  I may or may not read the message in it's entirety.  I haven't gotten onto anyone's Facebook that I know and told them that something was inappropriate, and believe me I have seen my share on COMPLETELY inappropriate stuff posted.  I ask the same courtesy.  If you don't like what I post... don't look at it, or delete me.  I am a grown up, and I don't need people to tell me how to live. 

 - Jessica

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Rundown...

It seems that things have been constantly changing in our house, and i felt an update on our family was long due! In the last 2 weeks the changes have literally come every day! Some days it's a bit overwhelming, but we are learning to adapt quickly!

It has now been a year since we moved to Richmond, which means Derik has been a Partner for a year! He had such a difficult transition year, and things SEEM to be leveling off and becoming easier each month! In April, Derik & I attended our first Partner's Conference! We spent 4 days in Dallas and had many fun adventures! One of our favorites was the private show by Zac Brown Band, which we were front row at!!!

Abbie has been growing up faster than we would like!! We are currently working on Potty Training. This is a frustrating experience for both Abbie & myself. We have had quite a few accidents, but we haven't given up just yet. We also are working on breaking her of her paci. She has had a paci since she was 2 days old! We have managed to take it unless she is in the bed. This is the first time we have been serious about it! We usually end up giving it to her for something, but she hasn't been allowed to have it in the car or because she got s boo boo. It is strictly a sleeping comfort!

Brady is almost 4 months old, which is hard to believe in and of itself! Today we accomplished 2 firsts that were very exciting! Last night, Brady slept for almost 12 hours! He had a bottle at 8, and slept from 830-745 this morning! We were super excited to get him all the way through the night!!! (If only Abbie would get better at it!) He also reached out and grabbed a toy today!! It was so precious to see how focused he was. It's as if he has been staring at this toy for months and decided it was worth the effort!

As for myself, I have been going through all sorts of changes too! I still consider myself a new mom of 2, but I am getting adjusted! I am working on "Project Me" avidly (see my previous post) and have been succesful at some of the changes I wanted to make! I am excited to celebrate my 3rd Mothers Day tomorrow, and hope to recieve my first Mother of the Year award!!!

That about sums us all up! I am sure that the changes in our household are far from finished! We just hope that we can keep up with all of them :)

- Jessica

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Better Me!

Over the past couple of weeks, I have really been picking apart everything that makes me tick!  I don't mean that I am being overly critical of myself or that I am focusing on my flaws.  I simply mean that I have decided I want to be in charge of myself again, and fix some of my weaker areas!  Someone dear to me reminded me that God made me exactly how he wanted.  I am perfect to him, so who am I to change myself!  I have battled with this thought for a while, and I decided that fixing my weak spots and showcasing my strong suits can only show God that I want to maintain what he felt like was perfection!
There is a chance that what I just wrote will come across vain and conceited, but anyone who knows me at all can defend me when I say I am the exact opposite of that!  I do consider myself a humble person, transparent, honest, sometimes a bit loud, but humble! 
Some of the areas that I feel really need to be worked on, are in large part because I am discontent with myself.  I am not content with the kind of mother I am,  my attitude towards being home, my very LARGE shopping problem, but most of all... I am not content with my relationship with God.
In our house, we prioritize our relationships in this order...
Everything Else
However, sometimes those lines get blurred, and all of my "weak" areas are affected!  I want to learn to be content with what I have.  We have so much, and truly are blessed, so why am I so discontent???

I believe that it all stems from the fact that my relationship with God is not being put first.  I have been doing a devotion with Abbie each morning, but that is it!  I have not been allowing myself time with God, ALONE.  While I go to church, tithe, and attend several small groups... it is merely a surface relationship.  I need to be much better about getting to know him personally.  Anytime I have sat down and tried to read the bible, I feel pretty... well, stupid!  I don't understand it, and some of it seems completely irrelevant to me!  So, "getting into the Word" like some people say, is truly a struggle for me.  I also need to be better about praying when things are "good" and not just remembering to pray when times are tough.  Finally, I need a constant reminder that I should be thankful, even on a bad day.  I am thankful for the 2 year old who is screaming at me, or the 3 month old who just pooped on my hand!  If I fix my attitude, maybe I can remember to be grateful about everything!

Oh, there is the connection with my attitude!  
My attitude lately can only be described as AWFUL!  I have angry and have begun to resent my chores around the house, my husband's job, and often times... life!  I find myself saying hateful things under my breath when Abbie dumps her applesauce on the floor.  I find myself yelling at Derik when he calls to tell me he is running late from work.  I find myself being overly lazy and just NOT doing the chores around the house.  All of these things are only causing more chaos and anger in our household!  Abbie is upset when I am angry, Derik doesn't like being yelled out, and our house was getting pretty nasty!!  Who was this helping??  I need to focus on the fact that I am incredibly lucky to be home, and my "job" is my house and kids.  They deserve better... they deserve a GREAT mom!

There is the connection with me being a better mom!
Lately I have been overwhelmed with mommy "advice".  Deciding what parenting technique is right for your family is harder than buying a house!  There are so many options, and nothing works the same for 2 people!  I read a blog post about being a Godly Mom and was totally convicted!  It talks about making sure that your children do not own you!  You need to do for God first, and not constantly put your children first.  Putting my kids before anything only teaches them to depend on me for everything, hurts my marriage, and my relationship with God is at a stand still!  I was finding myself dropping everything to play with Abbie.  It is totally okay to play with my kids, and it is beneficial in so many ways!  However, I have to keep in mind that my "job" is my house work, and God has called me to do it.  If I work efficiently and with a happy heart, it will be done and there will be lots of time to play!  One of my biggest flaws is feeling that Abbie and Brady deserve the world.  I am the worse for running errands and bringing home a "surprise" for Abbie!  I manage to justify the purchase, because she didn't ask for it!  She earned it... WHAT!?!?!

Enter my shopping addiction!!!  
What am I teaching her if I bring her something home every time I go somewhere??  I am teaching her that when I leave, I am going to get something for her!  My shopping problem is not because I like to buy things for myself, but that I like to buy things for my kids.  I am finding that the ONLY safe way for me to go into a store is to go in with a LIST.  I am in desperate need for some accountability on this!  I can hold something up and decipher as to if it is a want or a need... but I still buy it!  My kids deserve the best... or so I think!  
I want my kids to know the value of a dollar, and I want them to be gracious, grateful, and humble.  Buying things for them constantly, will never teach any of these virtues! 

And so the project begins!  I am calling this PROJECT ME!  I am setting out to change all aspects of the way I look at each day!  I have a job, a job that God gave me.  He has asked that I raise these kids in a way that glorifies Him.  He has asked that I teach them to love Him, and make sure that He is a part of their lives!  He has given me a wonderful opportunity to be home with them, and I am GRATEFUL!  

 - Jessica

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Successful Switch...

It is official!  We have successfully made the switch from disposables to cloth with Brady!  I am so excited to say that we are no longer paying for disposables!

Before I go any further... I would like to state that I was not paid for a "review", and I am not "endorsing" anyone or any brand by writing this blog! This is simply my opinion, and I thought I would share it!

I have recently become a Zulily junkie!  For those who don't know what Zulily is, it is a website that has a BUNCH of deals on various products for babies, mommies, and things for the home.  The deals change daily, and each "event" only lasts for a few days!  I have made several purchases from them, and really like most of the stuff that they offer!  A few weeks ago, I found a deal on a brand of cloth diapers called "JungleRoo".  The diapers on Zulily were $9.99 each.  For anyone who has ever purchased cloth diapers, they know that this isnt a bad deal!  I went to the JungleRoo website, and they sell their diapers for $20 each, so I thought I was getting a steal!  I bought 12 in various colors, and was more than disappointed when the shipment arrived.  Zulily has a strict policy on returning "intimate items", which cloth diapers qualify as... so I couldn't return them.  (They did give me a $30 store credit though... SCORE!)  So, I sold those diapers on craigslist, and thankfully... I had a Plan B!
A good friend of mine owns a shop in my hometown of Greensboro, NC!  Its called All About Baby Boutique, and while they offer many products and TONS of classes, they specialize in everything CLOTH DIAPER!!!  I called her up, and began asking a MILLION questions!  I wanted to know what her personal "favorite" was when it came to diapering.  I figured that someone who has access to any brand she wants at wholesale pricing... she probably had tested the market!  She had in fact done so, and HIGHLY recommended the Rump-A-Roo brand!  After oohing and aahing over the many color and print choices, I ordered 12!  When I received the shipment, I COMPLETELY understand why these diapers came so highly recommended!  They are basically like the "Rolls Royce" of cloth diapers!

 This is the Ladder 6 Print, and it is one of my favorites!!
You can see that there are a TON of snaps on the front.  This is a one size diaper.  This means that there are 3 sizes.  There are also 2 rows of securing snaps at the top.  This allows for many different sizes around the waist and legs!

The interior is as genius as a cloth diaper can be!  They are pocket diapers.  You stuff them with an insert.  The insert is called a 6R Soaker, and can be purchased in Microfiber, Hemp, or Bamboo.  Of course the best part about this diaper is the 2nd set of elastic in the middle, which has rightfully been named "the poop scoop"!!!  Nothing can get out of these diapers!  The interior lining is also incredibly soft and seems to only get softer with each wash!!

I am so glad that we made the switch, but I am even more elated that we found and chose such a GREAT diaper!  We love them, and don't forsee our opinions about them changing!!

 - Jessica

Abbie's Busy Box

Anyone with children know all too well about the witching hour!  The kids get bored, they are borderline tired, and you have gone all day & have nothing left to give!  This seems to happen in our house EVERY day!  So, I decided to make Abbie a Busy Box!  I got the idea from Money Saving Mom, and used several of her ideas to fill the box!  However, I added a few of my own things, and I still have a few ideas that I need to put into play!

I found a box that we already owned and was sitting empty!  Inside the box are 8 activities that are quick to get started and occupy time!  I have a set of lacing beads, a pincher/puffball kit, a pipe cleaner set, a magnetic dress up doll set, a felt pizza kit, an alphabet tracing sheet, a dry erase board, and a felt cupcake kit.

I open the box when it is necessary and randomly select an activity!  Sometimes I let her select, but I didn't want that to be the way it was every time.  I want her to learn to be happy with the activity that I give to her as well.  Below are a few pictures that I took of her doing the activities or of the goodies in the box themselves!

Playing with her felt cupcake kit!

The felt pizza kit!

 The container with puffs & pinchers!

The alphabet tracing sheet (still needs to be laminated!)

I have more ideas that I need to work on putting together, but I probably wont ever stop adding to the box!  If I find another good idea... I will add it in!

 - Jessica