Thursday, October 30, 2014

Baked Ziti

This has got to be one of the easiest dinners to make. My husband asked me to make it when we got home. He had it on his mission. Lucky for me, it is easy, fast and cheap.  

This is what you'll need:
Pasta, I use penne because it seems to hold the sauce better
1 bottle of marinara sauce (red sauce)
1 cup of each Cheddar, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese
sausage, I use italian sausage but regular works fine too. 



Pre heat oven to 350. Mean while, Cook pasta according to package. 


Brown the sausage. 


Drain the pasta and dump it into a casserole dish. Add sausage and mix it up. Put sauce on top and mix around. Put cheese on. 

Cover and place in the oven until cheese is melted. And enjoy.

Like I said one of the easiest meals ever! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Depression is real


This post is incredibly hard for me to write about, and incredibly scary for me to share. 
Today I want to post about something personal, and something very real. I hope you all don't mind my taking a few minutes and sharing this personal story because I think more people need to hear stuff like this and realize that they aren't alone.

I've struggled with depression for as long as I can remember. Several things played an effect on that, I think, so I wont go into detail on that at this point. But, my depression gradually got worse and hit its peak when I was in high school. Particularly Freshmen and Sophmore years.  I remember always feeling alone. I could be in a room full of people and be laughing and joking with them and still feeling empty and alone. And, quite honestly, scared. 
I never told anyone. My parents knew I was struggling, but they never knew how bad it really was. Most of that was my fault. I pushed people away. I remember my parents asking several times if I needed to go to counseling and I would tell them I wasn't crazy enough for that and that I just needed my friends.  I was never able to explain my depression. I had a really hard time putting it into words without trying to blame others for the way I felt. I didn't want people to know about some of the things that had happened to me, or that I struggled with because I was so embarrassed about them. 


At the end of my Sophmore year, I was ready to be done with it all. I didn't want to feel that way anymore. I wanted out. I was sick of being alone. I had some really great friends, even though I didn't realize it at the time. One day, I went to seminary, we had a testimony meeting, a chance for those who want to get up and share their testimony with everyone. A friend of mine got up and shared his, part of it stuck out to me and, virtually saved my life. This might not mean anything to anyone else who reads this but it had an impact on me. He said “I don’t know why the Lord has blessed me with such great friends. They are there for me no matter what, even on my bad days.” And I remember thinking, he probably wasn’t talking about me, but maybe I am appreciated and loved. That’s when things started to get better for me…slowly, very slowly, but they did. 
 The next year I had another good friend who spent a lot of extra time talking to me and helping me feel important again. He spent a lot of time listening to me cry and complain about people who I tried to blame my depression on. He challenged me to read the Book of Mormon in 60 days (I think) and I did. And from there things slowly, painfully slowly, got better. I no longer wanted to end it. I fought through it. I leaned on my friends. And I am so very, very grateful for those friends.  The ones that are still around and who still love me for who I am, and who I am becoming. 


I eventually did go to counseling and got help for a big chunk of what had been weighing me down. And it did help. I was able to let go of some things that I'd been holding onto for over 12 years. There are still some that I struggle with, that I work on daily.  And maybe in a later post, if I feel the need, I will share some of that stuff but that's not for today.  

The point of this post is to hopefully show everyone that, even though you might not know what you're doing, you could help someone who is struggling. 
Depression is real. 

It's painful.

 It's scary.

 If someone you know is struggling with it, be there for them. Show them that they are worth something. Offer to take the kids for an hour so she can take care of herself for a little while. Take a meal in to them, just because you felt like it. Invite him to a movie or a game or just to hang out so he doesn't have to be alone again. Do something. It doesn't have to be big. just, something.

If you are the one depressed, don't be scared or embarrassed to let someone know you need help. Don't feel like you're a burden to everyone around you. If they invited you, you're wanted. Get help. It might be hard, I still struggle on a good amount of days, but it's worth the fight. 

"There is nothing more powerful than the arm of love that can be put around those who are struggling."--Elder M. Russell Ballard 


Friday, October 24, 2014

Flower and polka dot frosting

Last week my baby turned one! I decided to make her a flowered cake. I took a cake decorating class by Wilton several years ago and haven't done a lot of cake decorating since. So I decided to brush off my kit and try it out.

I didn't take a lot of pictures for directions, mostly just because I didn't think about blogging about this until I was done and thought "oh hey, maybe someone else would like to know how to do it." So I'm sorry about that, but I will do my best to explain it and I will add links to the Wilton page as well. 



So here it is. Pretty simple but I think it turned out really great, especially after years of not doing this stuff. So to start out I made a chocolate box cake with 2 round 9" pans. After they cool off, you get a bread knife and cut off the very top of the cake so it's a little flatter. Here is a really great recipe for buttercream frosting. I didn't use it but that frosting is WAY better to pipe with than the one I used, trust me. You spread a layer of frosting on the bottom half of the cake and then (after cutting the top of the second cake off) you put that on top of the frosted cake, upside down. So the flatter part is on the top. 
Next, start frosting the top of the cake. Every once in a while, rinse your frosting spatula (or butter knife) off. that helps it spread evenly with out a lot of cake sticking to it. Once the top is frosted, start on the sides. Here is a link to show you step by step.
When all of that is frosted, put what ever frosting you want the flowers to be in one pipping bag, and the other color for the dots in another bag. For the flowers I used the 2D tip and for the dots I used the 3 tip. When you're piping the flowers, you hold the bag straight up and down and lightly place the tip on top of the cake and as you squeeze the frosting out you twist your hand a little. Then for the dots you hold the bag the same way and squeeze as much as you want out. The harder you squeeze, the bigger your dot will be. Here is the exact same flower instructions. 

Now as you can see, my flowers started to droop a little after I piped them on. That is because my frosting was too thin. Thats why the Wilton frosting is much better. But, I think it turned out pretty good for it being a long time. Next time I will have thicker frosting and stronger flowers 

Heres a little tip: if your frosting is starting to seem thin, put it in the freezer for a minute or the fridge for a few minutes and then try piping it again. When frosting gets warm it gets runnier. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mean Green Tortilla Soup

This is one of Trevon's favorite soups that I make. I like it because its pretty easy to make and really easy to change if you need.  I believe this recipe originally came from Rachel Ray, I use her recipe but changed somethings for my family. So, I'm posting the recipe that I use.

1 chicken breast
2 Tbs olive oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 jalapeno
2 cups chicken stalk
1/2 cup water
1 15 oz bottle of green taco sauce (I use LaVictoria brand)
1/4 cup cilantro
zest and juice of 2 limes
 1 cup corn

Cut up the chicken into cubes. Brown the chicken with olive oil in a large soup pot on medium heat.



Dice onion and add to the pot with cumin and garlic. Cook until the onions are clear. Dice and add the jalapeno (seeds and stem removed).



Add 2 cups of chicken stalk, water, and green sauce. Add finely chopped cilantro. Zest the limes right into the soup and add the juice.  Add frozen corn.


Serve with a dollop of sour cream, some Mozzarella cheese and tortilla chips. 



This recipe can be pretty spicy so if you need to adjust the heat, it's so easy to use more or less onion, jalapeno, cilantro, garlic....etc. It really is one of the easiest recipes to adjust.

I'm always looking for new soup recipes. Do you have one I should try? Post it in the comments and I'll test it out!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Girlie Glue review

I decided that I would do a little review today on one of my favorite mom products. If you have little girls this is a must have  Its called Girlie Glue. It is an all natural, honey free, product that you use to put little bows and hair things in your baby's hair. Since babies tend to take their headbands and bows off, this glue helps them stay in better. But you can use it for WAY more than hair bows.

My sister used it to help her make her kids Halloween costumes last year. The kids were super heros and she glued their super hero emblems on their shirts with Girlie Glue.  That way she was able to wash the shirts and use them again.

I've used it to help my hair hold waves better than just hair spray. I've also used it to decorate for holidays.  (I had a video but I can't figure out how to post it....still new to this stuff.)

I have also used it as a gel for my girls' hair. And, I've heard of people using it that way for their boy's hair.

You can put it in and it will stay there for as long as you want it to and you just take it out with a little bit of water. So, I can put it in my one year old's hair and it will stay there until bath night when I wash her hair anyway. You only have to use a dab of it so it lasts for a long time!


This is my one year old. See that cute bright pink and gray flower? I stuck it in with Girlie Glue and it stayed in for the next day and a half.


I sale girlie glue, and a few bows that I've made, heres a picture of my felt bows:


but you can also buy it on amazon, or go to GirlieGlue.com and buy it there. They have some darling bows that are so fun to put in baby hair! 
For more ways to use Girlie Glue you can look up  "how do you girlie glue" on youtube and a bunch of videos come up with how different people like to use this product. 

Any questions? Leave a comment! I'll do my best to answer it.




Thursday, October 16, 2014

Rewards program sites

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about some of the rewards program sites that I use and why I like them. First I got started on these while my husband and I were expecting our first daughter and living with my grandpa. I had heard about Swagbucks on Facebook and thought, hey, why not give it a shot?

Swagbucks:
 Swagbucks is a website that you can earn points to get gift cards. Amazon, Old Navy, Target,  even Visa gift cards to use online (as well as lots of others). People ask how long it takes to get enough points to buys something. It honestly depends on how much time and energy you want to put into it. At first I was earning up to 1000 points a month because I would get on and do things like surveys or watch "swagbucks tv" while I nursed my baby. Now that my first baby is 3 and my second is 1, I dont have nearly as much time so I earn around 50-100 a week depending on how quiet time goes. (thats on a good week). The easiest way to earn points is doing the daily poll and using their search engine, because you randomly get points for searching for things. Swagbucks is honestly the easiest rewards program site because you can basically do it absentmindedly. you just log in and use their search engine and some days you can get 3 or more "wins" from just searching each day.  The last 3 Christmas's have been bought with my Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks, as well as a few birthday or easter gifts or random things here and there. If you're interested in checking out Swagbucks click here to get going on it. Don't worry, you don't get any spam mail unless you sign up for the newsletter.

Crowdtap: Ok so Crowdtap I feel still fairly new to but its pretty easy. It takes a little more time than swagbucks but its also pretty rewarding. On Crowdtap you take short surveys, called "quickhits", for brands. some of them are big name brands like Kelloggs, Campbells, Advil...The list goes on. Anyway, for every quick hit you get points and every 100 points puts your name in a drawing for a giftcard at the end of the month. I know that doesn't sound very promising but, I've earned at least one $5 gift card a month for the last year (except for maybe a couple months in there somewhere). Plus, they send you free samples to try and review. Let me think...in the year I've been using crowdtap, I've gotten toilet paper and flushable wipes (twice i think), Hershey's chocolate spread, Truvia, Sweet n' Low, Viva paper towels, Advil, Ragu, Skintamit, and I'm waiting on a huge box from Campbells right now. I know there have been others. Thats all on top of the gift cards. And, when you do the review it gives you more points...so you can see that its a pretty good deal. It does take a little more time than Swagbucks. I usually do it twice a week and it takes me about a half hour or so to get through all of my  quick hits and other things on there. But, like swagbucks you get out of it what you put into it.  So if you want to check out Crowdtap, I dont have a direct link for it but you just go to Crowdtap.com and sign up.


Bzzagent: This is another good one for free products to try out. It takes a little while to start getting products but once you get one they come more often and the reviews are pretty simple. You do also get points through mypoints on this site but I haven't ever been able to get enough points to use them on anything yet. Although I'm still fairly new at this one. Its been probably about a year on this one and I've reviewed childrends Claritin, Glade wax melts, Coppertone sunscreen, and some Dial face soap. If you want to check out bzzagent, go to bzzagent.com


Smiley360:
This one is my least favorite probably because its a little harder for me to accomplish the reviews. They have made some changes recently though that have made things a little easier. So this is a lot like bzzagent. They send you free products to try and then you review them and spread the word. You give some of your samples away and talk to the person about smiley360 and about the brand. Which is why its harder for me. I'm not usually one to bring something like that up in a conversation. I feel like I'm shoving the information down the persons throat that way. However I have done a few of them and got some awesome products from them: Childrens Advil, a HUGE pack of Bic markers, Toothpaste and an electric toothbrush from Arm and Hammer, a diffused water bottle, a book, Emergen-C, Campbells soup, Franks hot sauce, toilet paper, Centrum vitamins, and baking soda from Arm and Hammer. So if thats what sounds good to you got to Smiley360.com and sign yourself up!

These sites can be time consuming sometimes but I can not tell you how many times the samples have saved me money. We just barely ran out of Children's Advil and I got that one probably 2 years ago, and I still have half a bottle of hot sauce and a full bottle of Ragu to use. Most of the products I've gotten have been full size. And on top of that most of these websites offer some kind of points to add up to something. This is a really great way to save a little money when you're penny pinching, or to just try new things out.

Here are a few pictures of a few of my samples (clearly not all of them). Sorry for the bad, phone quality, I promise I will take better pictures from now on!




If you have any questions feel free to ask, I will do my very best to answer them. Thanks for reading!
Jenny

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hello

I have to admit, I'm a little nervous...ok, a lot nervous about starting this blog. It's a pretty nerve wracking thing to throw your thoughts and interests--yourself out into the world for anyone and everyone to see.

This blog is mostly going to be all the things I like best. But today I thought we'd just start off by letting you know who I am. My name is Jenny. I'm a stay at home mom of two beautiful girls. I have a fantastic husband who works hard to support us.

I wont spend a lot of time on this post telling you all the things I'm interested in because you'll find all that out as you keep coming back. I hope this blog is something you'll all enjoy reading and maybe will even be helpful to some of you.

Feel free to comment and follow. I promise I will always TRY to answer any questions you have!