Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tater Tot Casserole

I know I am a day late for my Tasty Tuesday recipe, but life has been busy and I am getting over being sick. So, this is one of those meals I really wanted to try because it seemed so easy and I thought my family would love it, but the first few times I made it, it was not a hit. After some tweaking and a few more trial runs, I have finally perfected this meal and now my family loves it!
Tater Tot Casserole
1 pound hamburger meat
1 large bag colby/Jack shredded chez
4 oz light sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 bag tater tots
1/3 small white onion
Cut up your onion into small pieces. Brown the onion with your hamburger meat and season the meat with pepper. Once browned, stir in sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, and 1 cup of your shredded chez. Mix together till creamy. Pour mixture into a large casserole dish to form a thin layer of meat on bottom of casserole dish. Pour the rest of your shredded chez all over meat. Layer frozen tater tots all over the top of the meat. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until tator tots are brown and done.
This really is the best, and my family loves it now that I made it more creamy...
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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Life is About the Little Things

I was reminded this week that life is what we make of it. Our family is what we make of it, and our memories are what we make of them.
My husband has never exactly been Mr. romantic. He doesn’t send flowers all the time, he doesn’t go out of his way to plan exotic romantic adventures, and he is not romantic on a daily basis. Now, saying all that, I can tell you that I know he loves me. At one time in our marriage, I can remember thinking that I wished he was more romantic. Wishing he would sweep me off my feet on a daily basis. The problem with what I was wanting from him was the fact that it was not who God made him, and after a while it probably would not mean that much because I would come to expect it.
Brad might not be Mr. Romantic, but I can tell you, when he does do something for me he puts his whole heart into it. I can still remember the anniversary I woke up to rose petals leading from the footsteps of my bed all the way to the kitchen counter where a dozen red roses awaited me with the most thoughtful card I have ever read. Or the time he grabbed me and started dancing with me in the kitchen as he so sweetly sang to me. After one of my miscarriages, Brad and I had been arguing as if we both were taking our stress and anger out on each other. I woke up one morning to find hand picking roses from our yard in a vase on the table with a note, “I am sorry for what you are going through and I love you more than you know”.
Over the years I have learned that it is the little moments and the special memorable moments that mean the most. If Brad spoiled me with romantic acts on a daily basis, I would not appreciate them or recall them. The moments Brad goes out of his way to show his love for me, are moments I will never forget. They are moments that I know he put his entire heart and soul into it to make sure I knew his love for me.
My birthday this year was one of those moments. Many times Brad has a hard time buying gifts for me. I am very simple and often tell him I want nothing at all. Most gifts Brad picks and picks at my brain until he finds out exactly what it is I want; so much so I often have somewhat of a clue as to what I might be getting. Brad had given me one of my gifts early, which was a black and white canvas picture of Bethany Hope to match the three black and white canvas pictures I have of my other children. This is something I have wanted for a while.
My surprise gift came at my birthday dinner. Brad had stayed home from work on Valentine’s Day, cleaned the whole kitchen, and prepared a big dinner feast for my birthday. This in itself is a HUGE deal, considering Brad does not cook. After dinner I was presented with a cake and presents. My last present was from Brad; an unexpected gift. I opened the gift to reveal a photo book. It was a book of our family over the last 10 years, from past to present. There was a page for every member of our family, including Bethany. Tears were streaming from my face as I reached the end of the book and looked to the back, the final page. It was a large family picture with the following words. “Brad, Amy, Kayla, Gabe, Brayson, and in loving memory of Bethany”.
           This was truly one of the most thoughtful gifts he has ever gotten me, and I will never forget this birthday or the love he has shown me.
Life is not about the money or lavish gifts you spend on the ones you love. It’s about the moments and memories you treasure and truly appreciate. It’s about the little things and the little moments that make life worth living.
A few pages from the Book:


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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oreo Covered Strawberries

Tasty Tuesday Treat
          I had planned to make these for my family as a Valentines treat, but my hubby kicked me out of the kitchen so that he could plan dinner for my birthday. J So, instead my family got these after dinner tonight.  These are one of our favorite treats; we LOVE them! I started making them a few years ago, and I can’t go anywhere without someone asking me to bring them.
Oreo Covered Strawberries
One package strawberries
Small white chocolate morsels
Mini Oreo cookies

·         Grind about 20 mini Oreos in a chopper or blender. (Anything you have that will grind them up to be very tiny crumbs. You can do this by hand if needed.) Wash and dry your strawberries.  Melt your white chocolate over a double burner on your stove top, or in your microwave. Dip your strawberries in your white chocolate, and then roll into your Oreo crumbs. Lay onto a plate to dry. I keep these in the refrigerator to stay fresh until I am serving them.

These are AMAZING!!!!
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Birthday To ME!

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:18
WOW~ I can’t believe another year has gone by. I would like to say that the older I get the wiser I become and the more I have learned. Although I am sure that is true, I can’t help of thinking of the unfinished list, goals, and accomplishments.
          At one point in my life, I dreaded my birthday; one because it was Valentine’s Day, and two because it meant I was getting older. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel special for having my birthday on Valentine’s day, but anyone who knows me will know that I have a hard time letting people treat me special, I hate for people to go out of their way for me; I’m working on this.
          I think we often look at Birthday’s like New Year’s resolutions. We make new goals and new things we would like to accomplish within the next year of our life. I think making goals and list are a great way to keep your life organized on a daily basis, but what goals are we really making for our future? Are we focusing on the here and now, or eternity?
          This is the second birthday I have had since Bethany went to heaven, and I have to say it makes me look at my life a little differently. Before, it was just another birthday, another year gone by. Now, I see that life is so much more than just another day. Life is about living every moment we are given to the fullest, each and every day, and remembering that our life here is simply a vapor and our life in Heaven is Eternal.
          The first year after Bethany died was a very hard and dark year for me. This last year has been more about learning who I am again and how to be blessed with every day I am given. What have I learned this last year? I have learned that God is still here and has never left my side. I have learned that although my insecurities still dance within me, my Savior pours upon me each and every day. I am learning to fix my eyes on what is not seen, but what is eternal.
          I do not dread my birthday or getting older anymore; in fact, I am blessed for each and every day God blesses me to be here with the ones I love. I am blessed for the lessons and experiences I have been through; without them, I would not be the person I am today.
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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Our New Family Member

Here is the Newest member to our family, Jax!

Our other dog, Lady checking out the new member...

Mommy, Brayson, Jax, and Kayla

Brayson, Gabe and Jax
My husband has wanted another dog since the day we got Lady three years ago. I can't believe I gave in, but I did and now we have a precious little baby boy, Jax. The kids LOVE him!
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Love a Child, Save the World

This last Christmas, our Pastor talked a lot about World Vision. He had a strong passion for this organization and high hopes that one by one we could change the world. Every week he would show pictures of children from around the world who needed food, water and love. One particular Sunday while he was talking about these children and how little they really had, I could feel God pulling on my heart. Brad and I sat holding hands and listening to our pastor speak, and yet I know that God was speaking to us.
            We live in a world and a society where we are given everything we could ever want. Our children don’t understand the true meaning of hunger or going without. Brad and I came home that day with these thoughts running through our heads. We quickly went to the World Vision website and adopted a little girl named Ana from Honduras. This little girl is three years old, and will probably never know half the luxuries in life many children have, but now because we are willing to pay $35 a month, she will have the necessities that matter.
            For many people the decision to sponsor a child is a good dead, but for us it went much further. All we could think about was our sweet little angel Bethany. We were supposed to have four children and yet we only have three here on Earth. If she were here I can only imagine how much more money we would spend on a monthly basis without even thinking. We cannot financial support our daughter because she is in Heaven, but here is a little girl that needs our love and support just as much. I felt as though God had sent Ana to us as a reminder that we are here to serve him, and all children are HIS children.
            God says that we are to have a childlike faith. I believe that these children simply want love, not money. I think of all the angels that have gone from this world way too soon and I imagine that Heaven is rejoicing in their presence. I then think of all the sweet children around the world who have no one to feed them and no one to love them. There are so many of us suffering and yet there are so many of them crying out for help. It simply takes a little sacrifice on our part to reach out and help provide for a child in need. I might not have gotten to keep the child I delivered, but I believe God sent another child who needed me just as much.  Love a Child, Save the World…

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Love Challenge

It’s been raining all week here. I woke early this morning and found myself just lying in bed listening to the rain hitting my window. I have always loved the sound of rain falling to the ground. I could sit and listen to it for hours; there is just something so peaceful about it.
            After putting my children on the bus this morning, I just stared in awe at the rain falling down around my house. I was taken back to the day of Bethany’s funeral. It was a very dark and rainy day. I remember thinking that all of creation was crying with us. I am pretty sure my tears alone could have produced the amount of rain we had that day.
            After the funereal, I came home and quietly slipped away into the darkness of my bed. I can remember the tears hitting my pillow as I listened to the rain falling and I drifted off to sleep. I think of how much pain I was in, and how no mother should have to go through that moment, and yet my heavenly father knows me so well and loves me so much. I have always loved falling asleep to the sound of the rain, and I believe that my heavenly father sent the rain to me that day to gently cradle me to sleep just as a mother cradles her anxious newborn to sleep.
            It simply amazes me that in my darkest hour, my heavenly father not only took care of my every need, but he knew my heart and how to take care of me when I was too weak to take care of myself.
            As many other bloggers are focusing on love this month, I can’t help but think that God’s Love for me in this moment was a love I could not touch, see, or understand at the moment, but it was a love that knew my inner being like no other. It was a love that got me through one of the hardest moments in my life. It was a love that knew exactly what I needed before I could even express my need.
            I think of this sacrificial love that Christ gives us, and I wonder how often we give this to others? I have really been learning to look at me and how this whole experience has changed me. Thanks to a friend of mine, I recently came across a new blog. She is challenging women to make their marriage a priority and make their spouse feel like they are important to them.
            I love this challenge, because it really made me think. I love my children and I love my husband, but since I lost my daughter I feel like so much has been about me and my healing; what about my family? I think it is time I started to make my husband a priority in my life again. It is time I started to love sacrificially the same way Christ loved me and still does.
            To check out this blog and this challenge:
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What is Love?

What is Love?
Love seems like something so simply to define and yet is it?
I can still remember the moment I saw Bethany’s tiny heart flickering on a monitor at 9 weeks; instantly I was in love.
The moment they placed all four of my children in my arms, Kayla, Gabriel, Brayson, and Bethany; I knew a love I had never know before.
As mothers, we sacrifice so many things on a daily basis to show our children the type of love we want them to have, and yet we rarely receive the same love in return. We are often the last to eat, the last to get dressed, and the last in bed at the end of the day. Our children natural take everything from us, and we willing give everything to them because we love them.
So many nights as I am tucking my children into bed, they say their prayers, hug my neck and say, “Mommy, I love you so much”. Those sweet words make any loss of sleep, food or beauty the most prized possession about being a mom. That is my reward; Love.
As I was lying in bed tonight, I got to thinking that I would give anything to hear these sweet words from my sweet Bethany. Pregnancy is hard and as a mother we willingly sacrifice our body to grow this perfect little miracle, because the reward is worth the pain and sacrifice in the end…..Where is my reward? I knew any discomfort I went through was worth that moment they placed her in my arms…That moment I felt the love of my savior as I held my newborn little miracle, and imagined the life we would share.
            Was my pain and discomfort taken away the moment Bethany was placed in my arms? Was it all worth it?  The moment Bethany was placed in my arms was not the moment I imagined, but it was a moment where I instantly fell head over heels in love. I saw perfection looking upon her sweet little soul. I saw my savior because I knew he was holding her tight in heaven above.
            Yes, every bit of discomfort and pregnancy pain and labor pain was forgotten, and I was left with the love of a little angle wrapped in my arms and the love of Jesus Christ wrapped around my heart from then until forever…..My reward and My, “I love you Mom”, will come when I meet her in heaven….My heart can’t wait…
Love will prevail!
This is my favorite song right now. In the darkest hour of my life, this was all I needed: Your Love by Brandon Heath:

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Tasty Tuesday
Ok, we love lasagna in our house, who doesn’t?  Now, I do not make typical lasagna. Years ago I started making a short cut and fast home-made lasagna for two reasons. The first because I am not a huge fan of ricotta cheese, and the second is because typical lasagnas took WAY too long to make. And, I might add, my small children where picky eaters at the time. J
Here is my Home-Made Lasagna, Hope you like it!
Your favorite spaghetti sauce or here is mine
Ragu onion and garlic sauce
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 tsp onion powder
2 bay leave
¼ cup diced onion
½ clove minced garlic

1 bag Colby/Jack cheese
1 bag mozzarella cheese
Parm cheese
1 pound hamburger meat
Lasagna noodles


            Boil water and cook lasagna noodles. Brown hamburger meat with onion and garlic. Season with pepper. Add Spaghetti sauce and next 5 ingredients. Bring to boil and simmer on low for 10 minutes, then remove bay leave.

            Layer in casserole dish-(spray bottom of dish and place a thin layer of sauce on bottom of pan and then start to layer). Noodles, parm cheese, sauce, Colby/Jack cheese, mozzarella cheese. Do this for at least two layers, maybe three.

            Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or till cheese is melted and bubbling on top.

I use a 13X9 casserole dish and usually only do two layers….If you want to do a third layer, the meat will stretch, but you might need to pick up one more bag of mozzarella cheese, and make enough noodles for all your layers.  We always have salad and bread with this….
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