Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Super Soup Recipes

Winter just seems like the perfect time for soup.  It seems like so many people are fighting germs right now so a big bowl of soup sounds good at any meal.  I've been craving some so I thought I'd share my favorite soups with you today.  I make them all regularly and they've easily become family favorites.

I grew up eating chili with noodles in it and my husband did not.  He convinced me that real chili is noodle free.  So I asked his mom for her recipe, made a few changes to it and came up with our version of the PERFECT bowl of chili (plus all the toppings!!)

My secret for a delicious bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup is a bag of FROZEN noodles!

If you're craving some delicious Italian, but want something that is much easier to throw together than layers and layers of lasagna this soup is for you!!  It tastes just like a delicious plate of lasagna, but Lasagna Soup is so much easier to fix.

If you want to include your kids in all of the soup fun this time of year, give them a bag of 15 bean Soup mix, kitchen utensils and have them make their own Pretend Soup Fun.  My toddler had SO MUCH fun making her own pretend soup!

I gathered some delicious soup recipes from my friends in case you were needing some more soup inspiration today.  They all sound soooooo good!!

Stephanie @ Wife Mommy Me:

Whitney @ Come Home for Comfort:
Weeknight Chicken Stew

Meghan @ The Adventure Starts Here:
Easy Mexican Tortilla Soup

Jess @ Sweet Little Ones

Elizabeth @ This Little Home of Mine

It's time to link up with my favorite Tuesday Talk ladies this week!
Be sure to join us with your favorite post

Polka-Dotty Place

Monday, January 16, 2017

I'm a Fan of Family Pictures

We got our family pictures taken back in November, but I haven't shared them with you yet.  I was keeping them under wraps until our Christmas cards went out and then we gave some prints to family for Christmas.  I was really pleased with how our first family of FOUR photos turned out.  It's always a lot of work to plan outfits, schedule a photo shoot and make it all happen, BUT I never ever regret going to all of the trouble.  It's priceless to have sweet pictures of my family and I'll love them forever.

My best family photo shoot tips:
1. Try on your outfits ahead of time to make sure they all fit, look good and are comfortable.  Let everyone have a say in what they will be wearing.
2. Make sure that everyone is fed and hydrated BEFORE the pictures start.
3. Be very clear about what you want and what type of pictures you like.
4. Get all of your pictures done within 30 minutes.
5. Plan a reward for everyone right after pictures are done and talk it up during the pictures
6. Get a game plan together with your spouse.  Kevin doesn't love professional photo shoots, but I do.  So we talked through our expectations beforehand to help things to go smoothly during the session.

The weather was perfect for November,
the local park was beautiful and we were close to home.

My favorite & our 2016 Christmas card:

Kevin's favorite:

Framing this one of Olive:

Framing this one of Fletcher:

I can't wait to frame several of these for a sweet collage.
The kids already seem a little bigger 
so I'm thankful that this moment of time was captured.

Are you a fan of family pictures or is it something you dread??

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Highlights

We are wrapping up this week feeling much better than last.  We are mostly feeling better, sleeping better and looking forward to a low key weekend.  No big plans, just plans to work around the house.  Kevin's semester hasn't started yet so it feels like the last hurrah of his Christmas break with a three day weekend.  Hooray!!

The best parts of our week were:

// 1 //
We've had more rain than snow this week, but we still have snow on the brain.  I love changing our chalkboards every month so it was fun to do a winter themed one.  My daughter just discovered Frozen so we've all got Anna and Elsa on the brain.  Then a friend surprised Olive with a personalized snowflake.  Do you see her name spelled in the snowflake??  I was so impressed and am hoping to find a frame for her snowflake.

// 2 //
Monogrammed Goodness & Good food
One of my best friends gave me this monogrammed Ozark cup for Christmas and I've used it every single day since I got it.  It's AMAZING!!  I love the monogram and the fact that it keeps my water icy cold ALL day long is amazing.
My salads have been extra delicious and colorful and I have tried several new recipes for dinner that I can't wait to share with you.  It's been a yummy week at my house.  I made salads for lunch several days this week.  My favorite one was probably this BBQ pulled pork salad loaded with veggies.  I find that if I add some protein to my salad it makes a great lunch.

// 3 //
Around the House
The cats started making quite a fuss late one night so I went to investigate.  I was the only one up and you can imagine my surprise to see this friendly raccoon peeking in our window!!  Isn't he adorable??

We got LOTS of projects crossed off our to do list this week.  Kevin was busy doing things when he was home and then my Dad came up for a quick working visit.  It was fun to see him and fun to get some projects completed.  Olive makes a great project manager.

// 4 //
We've got Valentine's Day on the Brain!
We are scoping out the best valentine options, planning fun treats to deliver to friends, stocking up on heart crafting supplies and looking forward to getting all of our valentine's day decor out soon.  I shared this oatmeal cookie recipe on the blog this week.  It would be perfect for Valentine's Day!  Do you decorate for Valentine's Day??

// 5 //
Fletcher is 9 months old and after going to his well check this week we found out he's still topping all the charts and doing great.  I just love this outfit on him!  He's outgrowing clothes really quickly so it's nice to find great deals on clothes at Kohls.  He's such a fast crawler, prides himself on being able to get into everything, empties drawers, dumps containers of toys, pulls up and is the cutest little baby tornado. 

 Polka-Dotty Place Week in Review:
Wednesday: Oh Olive
Thursday: Saving BIG on Clothes 
What was your FAVORITE part of the week??

I hope you have a really great weekend!!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Saving BIG on Clothes

Where do you find incredible deals on clothes??

I have great luck saving big bucks at Old Navy with their credit card rewards combined with coupons, love hand me downs and lately I've had great luck saving tons of money on
NAME BRAND kids clothes at Goodwill.

I know that not everyone loves to shop at Goodwill.  It always has a bit of a funny smell (just being honest :), requires you to dig to find treasures and a trip to Goodwill means that you've got some time to browse.  I don't go to Goodwill every week or even every month.  I do try to go every season.  So recently I planned a Goodwill shopping trip with my mom and sister and we found some really great things.  We left with a car full of great clothes, books and a coffee table.

6 Tips for Finding the BEST Clothes at Goodwill:

1. Look everything over REALLY closely for stains, holes and rips.
2. Look through ALL the racks of kid's clothes 
because great items often get mixed into the wrong section.
3. Shop with a friend who can help keep an eye out for the sizes you're looking for 
and ask them to give a second glance at the items you're interested in.
4. Be open to buying a couple of sizes ahead if you have room to store them and be willing to try on a a variety of sizes in adult clothing.
5. Wash everything as soon as you bring it home.
6. Every Goodwill is different so visit LOTS of them.  Then return to the really good ones :)

My latest Goodwill haul included the following brands:
Osh Kosh, Old Navy, Ralph Lauren, Carters, Chaps Cherokee and two brands from Dillards called Tea and DB Girls

8 name brand REALLY cute shirts in amazing shape
+ two hardback books for $0.50 each.

4 dresses, 2 tops and 1 tutu

17 items for $41.50!!
That's $2.44 an item!!
Can't beat those deals.

We are big fans of adding to our library affordably so I always check out the books at thrift shops.  I'd HIGHLY recommend flipping through your stack of books before paying for them.  Make sure the pages are in tact, that there isn't any writing in the book and that they are in good shape.

I'll share a current favorite kids' book with you today. 
We are loving the book God Made You Nose to Toes by Leslie Parrott.
God Made You Nose to Toes is a really sweet book.  The illustrations are darling and the message of the book is so positive.  There is so much to talk about on each page and the story line facilitates great conversation with your kids about how God made them each unique.  The animals are fun, the rhyming text is easy to read and this book has quickly become a favorite in our house.  My only criticism is that it would have been nice for the story to include both a boy and girl character instead of just a boy.  I think it would make more kids be able to identify with the book.
*I was gifted this book by BookLookBloggers in exchange for an honest review of it.

Do you ever shop at Goodwill??
What are your best thrifting tips??

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Oh Olive!

Kids say the craziest things!  I keep a running list of funny conversations with Olive on my phone.  She cracks me up all the time and I love having these little stories documented.  They're so easy to forget and I think she'll enjoy reading them when she gets older.  I know I will always love rereading them.  I haven't shared any #oholive moments since July so here are her stories from the past several months.

We were driving in the car and she says
I love you.
Oh I love you, too Olive.
Mom!  I was talking to my Skittles.

Mama, my eyes!  They are dripping.
dripping = crying

Santa does not live at the North Pole!
He lives at the golf course.

We were writing letters to Santa and I asked her what she thought Fletcher might want.
Maybe he should ask Santa for some hair??

She requests another bedtime story after several stories.
I firmly say no it's bed time.
Mama, Jesus will be so sad if you don't read to me.
She wins and I reread the manger story she was asking for.

Come quick, mom!
Our graham crackers are all sick!!
graham crackers = nutcrackers and she'd stuffed tissues in all of their mouths
She walks around singing, I really love our family!

We were talking to a stranger and she started a sentence with...
When I was a little boy...
I assured her she's always been a girl and her brother is a boy.
Pronouns are so confusing.

I was talking to her about a situation she was having with a friend.
She explained things and then said,
Mama, it was an impossible situation!

She locked our cat in the bathroom.
I didn't realize it for a while when he ran out as the door was opened.
I questioned her and she said,
Don't worry.  He was hibernating.

We were watching Notre Dame play and I told her to cheer for a first down.
She said, Okay.  Then let's cheer for a first UP!

We were riding the elevator at the library and she asks if we are going fast enough to break through the roof like they do in Willy Wonka.  I just laugh and remind her we are going down.  Maybe she's watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory a few too many times??

Someone complimented her hair cut.
She said, Thanks.  My hair's name is Bob.
I told her that her haircut was called a bob.

She bent over to pick up something and said, Whoops!  I bonked my beard! when she hit her chin.

We were waiting in line to get her face painted at a party.  We'd be discussing her options and talking about what she might pick.  It's her turn and the girl asks her what she'd like painted on her face.  She responds to the girl by saying, Ummmm nothing.  My face is perfect! Then walks away.

One of her friends dressed up as Peter Pan for Halloween.  She's totally unfamiliar with Peter Pan and thought the kid said he was dressing up as "pee your pants".  She cracks up laughing and thought it was hilarious.  The kid was confused and I just had to laugh along with her.

What's your full name?
Olive Jordan.
What's your middle name?? (hint to her: kkkkkkkkk)
Kaaaaabooooey (the magic word on one of her cartoons)
Nope. It's Kate.

Excuse me, part me = excuse me, pardon me
scrap = scratch
marshall = commerial
woompa woompa = willy wonka
two nail = toe nail
pack pack = back pack
willn't = will not

She keeps us laughing!!

Here are a few of our favorite pictures:

Santa and I wear the same boots!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tuesday Talk: Cookies!!

I tried some yummy cookies this weekend and knew I needed to share the recipe with you.  They were simple to make and it's one of those great recipes that use things I ALWAYS keep stocked in my patnry.

We love all things OATMEAL so I figured these cookies would be a hit.  I found the original recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction for Chewy Oatmeal M&M Cookies and made a few changes.  Her recipe goes into lots of details about each step so click over there to read specifics.

Here's the recipe I used:

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Cookies:
1/2 c margarine room temp
3/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c sugar
1 egg
2 t vanilla
1 2/3 c oats
1 c flour
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 c mini m&ms
1/2 chocolate chips

Bake at 325 for 10 minutes.
They were best right out of the oven and ended up being a fluffy oatmeal cookie.
The recipe makes about two dozen cookies.

I've also asked my friends to share some of their best cookie recipes with you today.
Hope you can find a new cookie recipe or two to try :)

Beth @ Our Pretty Little Girls:
It's time to link up with the ladies of Tuesday Talk!
Be sure to join us with your best post of the week.

Polka-Dotty Place