Saturday, August 27, 2011

First week of Preschool

It's been a busy week in the Worthwhile moments household. First full week of school for the big kid. Lots of baking orders for me. And the little big kid started preschool on Wednesday!

It was an exciting day. She's going to afternoon preschool three days a week...which is okay since she pretty much fights me every moment of every nap attempt.

Here she is outside her school.

Hannah and her lead teacher, Mrs. Amber.

Hannah and the asst teacher, Mrs. Thee

Hannah and her mommy.

The drop off went well. Usually we will just pull up in the front and drop them off (they walk to the door themselves where a teacher greets them). On this day though, we walked them in. Hannah did just fine because her class is actually where she was for Mom's Day Out this past year. The biggest confusion for her is why she didn't eat lunch there! I got by with no tears, probably for the same reason. It's really kindergarten that's the heartbreaker!

After I left, Hannah's little BFF Jordan arrived and her mom snapped a pic of them. There's only 6 or 7 kids in the class, so it should be a great little group. We're glad to have Jordan in there!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Worthwhile Challenge #32

After this I'm all caught up on the Challenge. Thank you for loving me thru my slackerdom. I don't think it's lack of doing the challenge (new recipe each week), it's been the lack of posting about it!!!

#32-- Southwest Chicken Pasta. Quick and Easy.
1) cook and drain about a 1/2 box of pasta. I used ditalini for this, but any small-ish pasta would be fine.
2) While that is cooking, cut 2-3 chicken breasts (depending on how well-endowed the chickens was) into bite size pieces and cook in a large skillet until done.
3). To the chicken, add 1 cup salsa, 1 can cream of chicken soup, and 1 to 2 Tbs taco seasoning (add to your preferences). After heated thru, put in the cooked pasta and a whole bunch of cheese. Get it all hot and melty.
4). Serve with corn. Its actually good all mixed together (with the corn) too, so you could put the corn right in the casserole. That being said, you could probaby put some blackbeans in there too...but I have found that blackbeans in cooked dishes does have a wonky effect on how well the leftovers taste.
5). Enjoy. This was definately a 30 minute meal or less. Went together super quick and easy, and it is something I always have all the ingredients on hand for. Two thumbs up from everyone but Hannah...who just wanted to eat the grapes out of the fruit salad I served with it!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Second Grade

Today my big girl started second grade! It is already looking to be an awesome year, because we got GREG back for our bus driver, we got the teacher we requested, and we have a lot of cool things planned for PTO. Including a blood drive, which I was inspired to pitch as an idea from this little girl's battle. Anyways, we're all stoked for an awesome year.

For PTO we decided to do Back to School goodies for the staff and bus drivers. I made these little pocket things to hang on water bottles for all of them. In the pocket is a "looking forward to a great year" note and one of those kool-aid flavor packs for your bottled water. We delivered them to the staff before "Meet Your Teacher" night yesterday, and met the bus drivers after school today. It was blazing hot today, so the bus drivers were thrilled to get them! I also made the classroom teacher Backwards Peanut Butter Cups and sugar cookies for the bus drivers.

This morning we had an early start so I could set up the Boohoo/Yahoo breakfast at school. Both girls were up before 7:00 a.m. anyways, so early start was really no big deal.

Here's my 2nd grader before we left the house

She was most concerned/upset about leaving Max behind.

She's sure growing up fast!

for comparison; here is her first day of kindergarten picture.

Here she is with her new teacher Mrs. Henry.

We're looking forward to an awesome year!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Summer fun at Miss Linda's

I have a good friend named Linda. The girls call her "miss Linda"... I've known her for about six years. She is wonderful. Say hi to Linda:

She's a cool chic. She has an awesome backyard with some great landscaping, including this gorgeous sunflowers:

A wonderful Koi pond/waterfall and deck (no pic, sorry)

and a swimming pool. Hallelujiah. Every year she is sweet enough to open her pool up to a group of us to come swimming every Tuesday. It's always a lot of fun and a highlight of our summer activities. Every now and then, we pop over as a family for a little swim time too. I snapped some pics on my phone of the fun:

Going after daddy:

Down he goes!

The girls are fearless about going off the board, which is fun!

Hannah has been a little crazy woman since she started with the life vest. She had her first year of swimming lessons, but this life vest lets her toodle around the pool all on her own. It's lovely.

Brooke's been working on learning how to dive at Miss Linda's.

The big boy looking for his torpedo.

Chilling in the deep end.

We had a lot of fun with the noodles. Here Hannah is trying to imitate Matt who seemed to think he was pretty talented blowing water thru the noodle at me. For those of you who think he's quiet and 'not' full of hot're wrong. :)

What we didn't get pictures of was the Noodle Horse Races we played. That was fun. And 'unfortunately' no one documented the 17 tries it took for me to get on a raft and stay there without flipping over.

It was a fun way to spend the last weekend before school starts. Thanks Miss Linda. We love you! :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Worthwhile Challenge #30 and #31

I tried two new recipes this week.

One I like to call Crack Toffee. Because it's addictive like crack. Super simple, about five ingredients, and so good. Beware, you may find yourself eating the entire pan. Here's the link:

Crack Toffee

The other thing I tried was a Ranch Pasta salad. I didn't have the tomatoes, black olives, or green onions. And I didn't measure the ranch. Had I done all those things, this would be a really good recipe. Without those things, and with too much ranch, it was a little salty and a little boring. Follow the recipe on this one, and you will like it. If you're a ranch person!

Bacon Ranch Pasta

Have a great day!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Worthwhile Challenge #28 and #29

Oops! I missed my recipe posting last week! And I think I'm behind one or two, so I'm giving you a double today.

You would think with all the banana muffin recipes that I post here that I'm a big banana fan. The truth is that, apparently, we are not...because I always have an abundance of bananas that end up turning black before we eat them. Hence, the many muffins.

This is the link to the best banana muffin recipe I've tried so far. Really be generous with the crumb topping on each one. I'd tried this recipe years ago and it didn't turn out so great. This time, it really did. I think the key was making sure your butter in the crumb topping is quite cold...and I just use my hand mixer to 'cut it in' to the flour/sugar mixture.

Challenge #28 Banana Crumb Muffins.

I made the philly cheesesteaks again this week. Matt and I are loving them. Didn't have any provolone so i just used velveeta. I do prefer the provolone for sure. I bet pepper jack would give it an interesting twist too. Anyways, since the temp was only 99 instead of 109 at the time I made dinner, I decided to make some Ranch Potatoes. Super easy.

Take 3-4 potatoes. Leave the peel on and slice them about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Put them in a bowl with a lid. Drizzle about 2 T oil over them, and then dump in a pkg of dry ranch mix. Put the lid on and shakey shakey. Spread on a (sprayed with Pam) cookie sheet in a single layer, and bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. They're done when they get golden brown-ish. Browner they are, the crunchier they are. We like them when they are on the edge of turning crunchy. Very easy to throw in the oven while you make the rest of your meal.

Anyways, it appears that I am about 2 recipes behind schedule. I think I should be at #31 or so. I'll crank out one more bonus or two this week to finish catching up. This summer has just sucked for cooking, it really has!

Have a great one!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Today in pictures

So far today....

I got this cute picture of a girl and her dog. Have you ever heard of "green eye" in pictures? weird.

I made a bunch of little fondant flowers with edible pearl centers for some baby shower cupcakes I'm making tomorrow...

Hannah has gotten out nearly every game we keep under the coffee table.

Hannah is on a "Beauty and the Beast" kick which is driving Brooke crazy. I tell Brooke "It's better than that dang annoying 'Caillou' crap" (If you don't know Caillou, be thankful. If you do, I feel your pain).

Do you know what this picture is of? It's of two being the slide/climber thing that got blown over by some hellacious wind last night. It's also a shot of two girls playing outside for longer than 10 minutes for the first time in nearly a month! Isn't it a lovely shot? And what you cannot see, is that the grass is muddy, because this strange thing they called 'rain' fell out of the sky last night. It was amazing!

And that, so far is my day. My not-yet-100-degree-isn't-that-amazing?- day. I didn't take a picture of the fabulous muffins we gobbled up (that I baked early yesterday). And I didn't take a picture of the treadmill that I ran a mile on. And I'm not taking a picture of the couch I'm hoping to veg on for a bit. Nor of the dinner I am making.

What did you do today? Thanks for stopping by for a visit :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Seven Reasons to Use a Travel Agent

I know, 10 might sound better, but this is what I've got right now.

I'm sure you all know I'm a travel agent. I'm sure you all know how to use the internet. But do you know seven reasons why you should use a travel agent? Well... I'm going to tell you!

7. Personalized Service. Travel agents are not some impersonal voice thousands of miles away. I am your neighbor, your friend, your blog author. I take the time to get a good feel for you, your family, and your travel needs. Travel agents really work to understand what you find valuable in your vacations.

6. Professional Advice. Agents are experts in making sure people get to where they are wanting to go...for the best price and the most pleasant way. Providing personal insight on details that you may not have thought of yourself makes for a smoother trip.

5. Time. Agents have all the resources at their fingertips. They know the best tour companies to search for your requets, and can save you a lot of time by digging up the best deals and promotions for you. It is their job of course!

4. Choice. Once learning the basics of what you are looking for in your vacation, travel agents can easily suggest and quote a variety of options for you to choose the best package for your dream vacation. I personally love presenting my customers with a variety of fun options to work with!

3. Best Value. Agents work hard to find the best pricing for the packages requested. They can usually meet, if not beat, internet pricing. We are aware of what specials are being offered by various tour companies. They are there to help you get the best value for the dollar! Agents are paid commissions from tour companies. I personally do not charge service fees, so it does not cost you extra to use me! And you know what? If you find something online that I just cannot touch price-wise..i'm going to tell you! I understand needing to get the best price for the same thing!!!

2. Customer advocate. In the event that you have any problems (because we live in an imperfect world!), I am there to help you get things sorted out and corrected satisfactorily. While they do not have control over the properties, tour companies, etc; we travel agents do all we can to ensure everyone is taking care of our customer.

1. Supporting local business. If it is going to cost you $3000 to book a vacation online, or $3000 to book it with me/a travel agent...why not support a local business person/friend and let them earn a commission? Whether you find figuring out all the details yourself to be fun and you really get into can still let an agent book it for you. For example, you could call me and say "I want to go to Disney for 5 nights starting November 11th and I want to stay at Caribbean Beach in a preferred room with 6 day tickets and dining plan. Online it says it is $XXXX. Can you book that for me?" My answer "I'd LOVE TO! Thank you for the opportunity!!!" Otherwise...are you just saying 'I don't want you to have that money. You're not worth it"...?!?

Let me just tell you, I write this as a woman/mom/travel agent living in a tough economy. Prices of things are going up, but paychecks are not...right? Can I get an amen? Just wanted to share some food for thought as to why you might find a little value in using me for your travel plans. Because.... this is my gig to be able to stay home with my girls. It's not a gig I want to give up. I want to help people plan wonderful vacations, and let it pay for Hannah's preschool. I want to give you a fabulously planned Disney vacation-which will overwhelm you with precious memories...let me have some fun with you...and help pay a bill. I have a lot of repeat customers...a lot of referrals... and I need them to keep on coming. Your support means a lot to me... and I ask that you keep it coming!

Can I get "Woot Woot?"