Thursday, March 31

Crockpot Chicken 'N Noodles

Today, since there's snow on the ground and just basically yuck outside, I thought I would share one of my family's favorite warm-you-up dinners.

It is the easiest and tastiest version of Chicken 'N Noodles you will ever eat. Just throw the ingredients in the crockpot and you've got a delicious meal your whole family will love. {Even my 4-year-old chows down on this one.}

Crockpot Chicken 'N Noodles

1 lb. frozen chicken breasts {thawed}
1 10.5 oz. can cream of chicken soup
1 32 oz. chicken broth
1 stick of butter
1 {large} or 2 {small} Reames frozen noodles

Combine chicken, soup, broth and butter in crockpot. Cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours. Shred chicken with a fork after cooking for appropriate time. Add noodles, let cook for additional 1/2 hour in crockpot.

Serve with mashed potatoes, biscuits, or any other comfort food you can think of.

That's it! It's seriously easy, and seriously really good.

Tuesday, March 29

Dollar Store Spring Wreath

I desperately needed a new spring wreath for my front door. The one I bought last year from K-Mart {on clearance} had lost its fresh appeal after a season of heat and rain. I don't have lots of extra funds right now, so I thought, why not visit my favorite Dollar Store to make my own. {Because wreaths are EXPENSIVE!}

I'm always surprised what I find when I visit my Dollar Store. They have anything and everything. And their selection of silk flowers always impresses. So, $11 later I walked out with enough flowers, ribbons and greenery to make my new wreath, without breaking the bank.

To assemble the wreath, I used:
     • An old grapevine wreath that had been stashed in my basement for several years
     • A hot glue gun
     • Silk flowers {purchased at Dollar Store}
     • Greenery {purchased at Dollar Store}
     • Ribbon (purchased at Dollar Store}

I love the way it turned out, and it looks great on my front door.

The Dollar Store is a GREAT place to shop for craft supplies. You'd be surprised what you can make with the items from there.

Check out Dollar Store Crafts for tons of great ideas, tutorials and inspiration for items made from the Dollar Store. My Simple Silhouette tutorial is even posted over there :)

Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 20

Akron Zoo + Groupon = Fun!

It just so happened that about a month ago Groupon's deal of the day was for half price family membership to the Akron Zoo. I had some Groupon bucks in reserve and was able to score our family pass for ONLY $14!

Sooo, with a high temperature of 69ยบ this past Friday, my daughter and I headed to the Akron Zoo. We've been visiting this particular zoo since she was born.

It's the perfect size for small kids. There are several playgrounds, a great picnic area, and a new carousel. They are also installing a new "Farmland" set to open this spring. They used to have a farm area where kids could pet sheep and goats, but this looks a lot better and more kid friendly. My daughter, Viv, was super excited about it {but she gets excited about anything to do with animals}.

Every year I take a picture of her on her favorite frog statue near the gardens. And every year I'm amazed how much she's grown. This year was no exception.


We're looking forward to a fun-filled summer of inexpensive fun at the zoo.

Well, that is, if we can make it through the gift shop without buying something every time...

You can check out the zoo's list of upcoming activities here.

Thursday, March 17

Reality Check

My life has been crazy. Plain and simple. My husband changed jobs in November {yay!}, we found out we were having a baby due in July {yay!!} and then we realized we wouldn't have insurance for 3 months {whoops}. The holidays came. Along with the fun insanity that goes along with Christmas, my photography studio practically exploded with clients. This was my first true year in business, and I certainly wasn't expecting the response I received. I started to get so busy with the studio, housework, motherhood, maternityhood and wifeyhood, that I progressively forgot to do things {anything!} for myself. 

Christmas Eve at our house

My sewing machine and table turned into a junk collecting heap. My couponing habit went to the wayside. My art supplies have been lost in the netherworld of our basement. I was so wrapped up in the go-go-go lifestyle I had created, I couldn't see past the end of my nose as to what I was missing, mainly everything I love. 

My daughter started spending more time with her grandparents, and great-aunt because I was so swamped with the studio and day-to-day living. I didn't even have time for her. And that is terrible.

And then I got sick. Really sick. Hospital sick. Eight days worth of quality hospital time to be exact. I think all the mindless stress I had created caught up with me and burnt me good. My hubby was there by my side every minute of the day. But during my stay, I had lots of time to think {or else watch VH1 marathons}. I realized what I was doing to myself, and realized I needed to change, and change NOW. 

My phone didn't need to be checked every three minutes for the latest incoming emails and Facebook updates. I didn't need to answer my phone every time it rang. Facebook didn't need to be updated with my latest photo shoot every day. Laundry could chill if I didn't have time to get to it. Clients could wait a couple of hours for me to get back to them, at a time that was convenient for myself, and my family.

After I got home from the hospital, I decided to start making small changes. I started taking naps with my daughter. We have craft time every day. One load of laundry a day is enough. My phone spends part of its day on vibrate. I have designated times for the studio, and more times for my family. I'm making a point to do one thing for myself every day. Today, it's posting on my blog.

I'm determined to de-stress my life in any way that I can, and to appreciate the life that was given to me. I hadn't stopped to smell the roses in a long time, and boy, they sure smell good.