Monday, December 26, 2016

2016 reads: One Year of Books!

I set out at the beginning of the year with my one word, "knowledge."  My goal was to display a love of learning to my boys because my hope is that they have a love of learning and a love of books too.  While I'll confess that I wasn't 100% all the time (who is?), I'm quite excited with habits built and proud of conquering the goal for the full year.

So what books did I read??  Here's the list.... I found that my preference was surprisingly not towards fiction and more towards growth and of course topics like homeschooling and my faith.  I mean, I'm in the trenches here, right?

Looking forward to picking up many more books in 2017, and I plan to throw in some more of the classics that my childhood missed.  What are you reading this year!?
  • "Simply Tuesday" by Emily Freeman
  • "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
  • "The Crazy Lives of Police Wives" by Carolyn Whiting and Carolyn LaRoche
  • "Every Bitter Thing is Sweet" by Sara Hagerty
  • "French Kids Eat Everything" by Karen LaBillon
  • "Teaching From Rest" by Sarah Mackenzie
  • "Becoming More" by Lysa Terkeurst
  • "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon
  • "You and Me Forever" by Francis Chan
  • "The Confident Homeschooler" by Pam Barnhill
  • "The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway
  • "Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World" by Kristen Welch
  • "The Abolition of Man" by CS Lewis
  • "Living Among Lions" by David and Jason Benham
  • "Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child" by Anthony Esolen
  • "Love Your Life, Not Theirs" by Rachel Cruze
  • "Improving Your Serve" by Charles Swindoll

Thursday, December 1, 2016

November Reads

It's been a while since I've put out a book post.  I think I started too many at once which led to a whole lot of half finished at once.  Haha!  The goal for December is to wrap them all up by the end of the year because I have a little hunch that Christmas includes Amazon gift cards, and Amazon gift cards = more books on the Kindle!

Here's what I completed in November....

What are you reading this Holiday season?  Or are you giving books as gifts?  Do share!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Instant Pot Family Favorites

Over 200,000 Instant Pots were sold on Amazon "prime day" just a few months ago.  I happened to be one of them!  I've posted a lot about my beloved instant pot on social media and it has brought lots of questions and curiosity-- it didn't take long for our instant pot to earn it's space ON the counter right next to the Kitchen Aid mixer.  In case you didn't know, counter space is kind of a big deal so having a permanent home on the counter means the Instant Pot itself is kind of a big deal.

With all the Instant Pot chatter after Prime Day, many were anxiously waiting for another big sale on them so they could snag one as well and see what all the hype was about.  SO, to all of you Black Friday shoppers I have two things to share with you.

1.  I'm jealous that you were able to get your instant pot for $11 less that I did.

2.  We've tried lots of recipes over the last few months and here are some of our favorites so that you can try them yourself.

  • Hard boiled eggs--  If you try nothing else in your pot, you have to try hard boiled eggs!  They call them 5-5-5 eggs because they take 5 mins to come to pressure, 5 mins to cook and 5 mins to cool.  Once you try making them in the Instant Pot, you will fall in love with this method over the traditional stovetop.  First, they are perfectly cooked every. single. time.  And second, they peel SOOO easy!!  Even farm fresh right from our backyard, peel SO easy cooked this way.

  • Macaroni and Cheese-- This macaroni is crazy easy and with a "from scratch" taste.  Because it is from scratch ingredients!  Put the orange powder away and never buy it again.  You can make this macaroni just as fast and it's so much better!  (We've done regular and whole wheat pasta and it's perfect every time.)

  • Mashed Potatoes-- We had easy mashed potatoes with our Thanksgiving without using up a burner I needed for other items and waiting for water to boil.  I used a 5 pound bag of red potatoes, washed and chopped.  I like a more rustic mashed potato so I left half with skins on.  Put the trivet in the pot and add 1 cup of water.  Stack the chopped potatoes on top of the trivet.  Set to manual pressure for 10 mins, and quick release.   Then just mash and season as you normally would with some milk, butter, salt, pepper and garlic (OR a pinch of nutmeg.)  Easy peasy!

  • Salsa chicken-- We've all done this in the crock pot, but now you can do it WAY faster in the Instant Pot! Even layer of chicken on the bottom, pour in a jar of your favorite salsa and hit manual for 7 minutes.  (If your chicken is frozen, try 15 mins)  Quick release, shred it up and eat on tacos with your favorite toppings.  (There's lots of other ways to cook chicken so have fun with seasonings!)

  • Cheesy Chili Mac-- We just tried this last week and there has already been a request to make it again.  Super easy recipe for a busy night and loved by all. 

  • Quick Pasta and Meatballs--  Bag of frozen meatballs, jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce, jar of water, and one pound of pasta all tossed into the instant pot on manual for 5 minutes.  Let rest 5 minutes before quick releasing the pressure and serve up with some garlic bread and salad.

  • Rice and quinoa-- Pending what variety of grain you are using, pour in the appropriate ratio of grain to water and use the rice function. 

  • Refried Beans-- homemade refried beans are delicious for one thing!  BUT, on top of that, they freeze so well!  I make this big pot of them, and portion some out in freezer bags to save for another day.  
Some honorable mentions of other items we've tried and enjoyed are... sweet potato casseroleBarbacoa BeefSteel cut oatschicken tortilla souphomemade yogurt (in jars),  roasted potatoes, and salted caramel cheesecake.

And my Instant Pot Pin board on Pinterest has SOOO much more that we haven't tried yet.  Now that so many are getting their hands on these pots, recipes abound online so if you are new to the Instant Pot, don't get overwhelmed-- start with something simple that you know your family likes.  Take a peek in your freezer and google "___x___ instant pot recipe" to use up ingredients you already have on hand.  There's a little bit of a learning curve adjusting pressure times, not being scared to release the pressure, and making sure to use proper portions of liquid BUT the reward is to drop something in the pot and walk away.  AND also to be able to have a delicious dinner on the table fast when it's getting late, you've had a busy day or you're just plain exhausted.   Enjoy!  

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Joel's 1st birthday!! (Wild Things Theme)

Today we celebrated our littlest man turning 1 with family and friends!  He officially became of age last week, but today was the big shebang.  Earlier this year, I actually WON a birthday party package from a fun local playground place-- they sell swing sets and trampolines and allow open play throughout the year along with birthday celebrations. (Think huge warehouse of swing sets.)  The party package included the time there, and then we could bring in table decor and whatever food we wanted. And Hallelujah!! --that meant that I didn't have to scrub our house down for people to come over. Ha!

Here's the down and dirty on his party-- it really was a super fun theme!  Maybe you'll want to throw a wild things party too.

The invitation purchased from Etsy's Katie Did Designs here.

Joel's super fun "Wild 1" birthday shirt purchased from Etsy here at Shop The Southern Bow.

Him and his "Nana!"
I crocheted Joel's crown (see invite picture, he wouldn't keep it on at the party) and I also made the tissue paper garlands using this YouTube tutorial.  The really cute 8x10 themed pictures came from a link over here on this site and after I downloaded them, I had them printed by Costco.

Crowns in place of party hats

We had a copy of the "Where the Wild Things Are" book out for folks to sign and write a sweet message to Joel on his birthday.  It will be a keepsake that we'll have for years to come. He is SO loved!

I love the way his cake and cookie treats came out! I was in a rush to get them done after vacation.  I found great cookie cutters from Sweet Savanna on Etsy. (His birth announcement we had on display was made last year and ordered from Vintage Sweet Design on Etsy.)

Kiddo has no idea how spoiled he is!  Parties are SO fun for little ones because they are completely oblivious to all that is going on.  He wondered around the warehouse checking out all of the playground equipment.  The trampolines and the basketballs were his favorite.  He got to open presents which consisted mostly of him grabbing tissue paper and running away and then he made a complete and total MESS of his smash cake.  He liked playing with it, smashing it, and throwing it on the ground better than he liked eating it. 

This kid sure is loved!  We are so blessed to have such supportive families nearby to come to our kid's parties.   Another year of fun memories up ahead for this "wild 1!"  Happy birthday Joel!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Happy Birthday Joel!

Today the littlest Kroh is one year old!

...And I wouldn't be a very good blogger if we didn't take a look back at the last year.  This year has been pure joy!

The very last bump photo-- 41 weeks.  He would arrive within a couple days.

I love reading birth stories, and Joel's birth story happens to be one of my favorites.  A witness to God's provision and His love and care in every single detail.

Of all the monthly photos I have taken, the pumpkin bonnet photo is my absolute favorite.  That sweet face, the pumpkins, the cheeks, the blue eyes... I melt every time!

The struggle of getting "the shot" in our first photo session as a family of 5.  This pretty much captures it all!  (Photo credit, my sweet friend Alisa)

You know I had to include a Christmas shot from the year.  Joel is the only baby (of our 3) to not cry on Santa's lap.  We'll see how it goes this year though!

Big 'ole grin and sweet baby chub at the park.

We blinked and suddenly he was standing for his monthly photos.  (7 months)

That very first time I got "the shot" of all three of them both looking and smiling! Victory!!  (And this one totally got framed!)

Baby boy loving the beach for the first time.

The picture we chose for his first birthday invitations.  (Can't wait to party with our family next week!)

Baby's very first haircut.  No longer a baby... definitely a toddler!

What a year it has been!  After genuinely believing that Hayden was going to be our last baby, I'm overwhelmed that we were blessed with another.  I'm so thankful that I have been entrusted by God and called to Mother the hearts of each one of our precious boys.  The year definitely went by way too fast but I have been challenged, and grown... I've laughed and I've cried... I've learned so much about myself, but even more about our mighty God!

Joel is such a sweet soul!
He loves to smile, and giggle, and snuggle.
His big brothers make him laugh the hardest.
He loves books and music.
He literally never stops moving-- not even in his sleep. Haha!
He loves church and gets so excited when we arrive to his class.
...and Joel is loved beyond measure by our family.

Happy 1st birthday Joel! We thank God for you!