Pancake Sandwich & Lunchables Kindergarten & 3’s School Lunches

Hello from the other siiiiide

It’s been a while. Halloween has come and gone. I’ve not kept up with both this blog and my “fun” lunches. I’ve had a time getting my migraines and headaches under control. Anyone who has been through that knows, well…it’s a headache! I’m taking it minute by minute, some days.

Here are two of the many lunches I’ve made since we last saw each other. These are the only fun(ish) ones. At least I *hope* they were fun for them. 😀

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Pancake and jam sandwiches, mandarin orange (Bigs), carrots (Smalls), grapes, cheddar sandwich crackers, dried cranberries, and three little oatmeal letter cookies.

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Another homemade Lunchable – I’ve been doing these about once a week now! This time it was chicken, cheddar, Ritz, a mini banana muffin, mandarin orange (Bigs), grapes, and a piece of Halloween candy.

Peace n’ Blessins’ (look it up, it’s my favorite),

Kristin

Dinner Tonight: Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken and Peaches

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I am finally getting back into my “good” dinner cooking groove. If only I can get the rest of my life groove back, I’ll be set! But alas, that is not the case at this time. Maybe once we are settled into our new school routine. But dinner was a success, and some days, that’s all I can ask for. That and leaving the house with all my children and necessities.

I digress.

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Back to dinner. I had purchased a few BOGO packs of big chicken breasts at Publix and had to come up with something creative to with them. And since it IS still peach season (#vivasummer), I decided to grill both.

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It was one of my better decisions that day.

Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken and Peaches

3 large chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)

S&P

2 T honey

1 1/2 T dijon Mustard

splash red wine vinegar

olive oil

2 large peaches

Make the honey mustard mixture by combining the honey, dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, and olive oil. Whisk until combined.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Salt and pepper the chicken. Swirl some olive oil around a grill plan that is preheating over medium high heat. Grill the chicken for about 4 -5 minutes per side. Place on a baking sheet and put it in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes. During this time, brush the honey mustard mixture on the chicken a few times.

Add another swirl of olive oil to the grill pan. Slice the peaches and grill in the pan.

I served this with brown rice and steamed broccoli. It was fabulous.

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I’ll be dreaming of this when I make a crap dinner…probably tomorrow. #itiswhatitis #cantwinthemall

Enjoy!

Kristin

Dinner Tonight: Hot Chicken Salad

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I am a southern girl. I’ve got sweet tea running through my veins. I’m pretty sure I’ve also got fried chicken and greens in place of some other vital organs (clearly, vestigial). I spent every Thanksgiving of my youth in South Georgia, where I learned a lot about southern cooking, baking, and good ol’ southern hospitality from my darling Grandma and Granddaddy. The other side of my family resides in North Florida, which may as well be South Georgia, if their food and accents have anything to do with it. My precious Grandmother (she chose that name for us grandkids to call her because she didn’t want to sound “old” 😀 ) also had an abundance of southern recipes for me to learn – Perfect Macaroni and Cheese, Cranberry Cream Cheese Salad… Needless to say, it’s in my blood. It might just be my blood. And I’m so glad. Southern food makes me ridiculously and deliriously happy (see: food related memories).

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Exhibit A: Actual casserole from potluck

My family went to a church potluck a few weeks back and I couldn’t think of anything other than a southern casserole to take. That’s what I always looked forward to at my Sunday church potlucks, growing up. I’d beeline straight for those casseroles. Those were (and are) always the best. I know not everyone is on the Casserole Train (choo choooo), but I am the Conductor, and I’m am hoping they’ll change their mind after trying this recipe.

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I got this Hot Chicken Salad recipe from my Mom, who got it from my Grandmother. My Mom told me that this was one of my Grandmother’s go-to recipes for her Ladies Luncheons. I love picturing my beautiful Grandmother in the 1940’s, with her beautifully made up face and coiffed hair, in one of her fancy dresses, and serving up this delicious casserole to her gal pals.

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This casserole is filled with tender chicken, crunchy celery and bell peppers, salty potato chips, melty cheese, toasty almonds. I meannnnnnn… I have seen this recipe with mushrooms and water chestnuts (blech!), but I love sticking to what my Grandmother did. It’s a link between me and her past. I did make a few changes, but it didn’t alter the integrity of the original recipe.

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Hot Chicken Salad

1 pkg. dressing (some of you may call this “stuffing”)

2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (I cooked them in my crockpot and shredded them)

Chicken broth

2 C chopped celery

1/2 t salt

2 T grated onion (I chopped mine and added a bit more)

1/2 C green bell pepper

1 C mayonnaise

2 T lemon juice

dash Worcestershire sauce

1/2 C shredded sharp cheddar

3 C crushed potato chips

1/2 C toasted almonds

Preheat the oven to 325F. Put the dressing into a bowl and add enough broth to moisten it all the way through. Combine all the ingredients from dressing to Worcestershire sauce together and place in greased 9×13 pan. Top with the cheddar, potato chips, and almonds.

Bake for 30 minutes. Leftovers are even better!

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This is best enjoyed with a Mason jar full of sweet tea. And probably some kind of cobbler, fresh out of the oven, or freshly churned peach ice cream for dessert. Just a friendly suggestion. 😀

Enjoy y’all!

Kristin

Chicken & Sausage Paella with Turmeric Rice

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“Dinner.” “What the bleep do I make?” “Those people are going to be hungry.” “I should let them fend for themselves, but I’m sure I’d regret that.” “It doesn’t matter what I make, they’re going to complain about it anyways.” “Arguments will occur. Feelings [mine] will be hurt.” “Maybe I’m just too sensitive.” “Yes, that’s right, sensitive, but with the palate of a world-renowned food taster. Those little sh*ts don’t know what they’re missing.”

Do those thoughts run through your head, too? It can’t just be me.

I’ve started meal planning [attempted to, if we’re honest] as a way to eliminate some of those inner thoughts. The complaining, however, often still occurs. That I can’t seem to help. So here is a meal to add to your plan, complaining not withheld.

Chicken & Sausage Paella with Turmeric Rice

Recipe adapted from: Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook, 75th Anniversary Edition

Serves: 8 (maybe more)

3 large chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

4-5 links of turkey sausage (I used mild Italian turkey sausage)

1 large onion, sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced (or garlic powder, or garlic from the tube)

1 T fresh or dried thyme (the original recipe called for more, but I’m not overly fond of thyme)

S&P

14 oz chicken stock

saffron or turmeric

Cooking white wine

2 C chopped tomatoes

2 medium or 4 small bell peppers, chopped

frozen peas

rice

Place your chicken (mine was partially frozen) in the crock pot. Place your sausage (also partially frozen) on top of the chicken. Place the sliced onion, thyme, S&P, and chicken stock on top of the meat. Set on HIGH for 4-6 hours or LOW for 8 ish hours. At the very end, while you are cooking your rice, add your chopped tomatoes, bell peppers, and frozen peas (we also added corn and jalapeno).

Make your rice as directed. Add a few shakes of turmeric and a few splashes of cooking wine. I didn’t have any saffron and I like to use turmeric because it is good for digestion.

Serve crock mixture over the rice.

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Beach & Birthday & Bunches of Other Stuff

I said I was going to be better at blogging, didn’t I? Well, I had every intention, but boy, has summer life given me other plans. We’ve been so busy with fun things! We’ve gone to the beach, we’ve eaten good food, I had a “big” birthday, where I was thrust into a different decade. Yes, it’s been busy!

I’m going to start with two weeks ago. My mind works best in chronological order.

I went on my monthly girls’ night dinner to a sushi place. My friends and I love getting gussied up.

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I got that dress at Goodwill, as I often do. I love finding gems at Goodwill.

I ordered the Cucumber Roll and the Avocado Roll. They were pretty good.

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The next day, Friday, we went on our usual Friday Playdate. We went to an indoor children’s playing place. That’s the official name.

The boys painted (Smalls stepped in red paint, naturally), played dress up (they had costumes for girls and boys!), and went in the sandbox.

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I had packed lunches for the boys…

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…and in my hurry to get out of the house, I forgot the top piece of bread on Bigs’ PB&J! Ooops!

That night, I made a turkey dinner! I know the picture looks like it was edible, but trust me, it almost was not. I roasted it, to the tee by how much it weighed, and it came out dry. As a bone. Also, I left some of the innards inside. Ooops. They got grody in the roasting process.

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Thank goodness for side dishes. 🙂

On Saturday night, my wonderful in-laws took us out to dinner to have an early birthday meal since they wouldn’t be in town on my actual day.

I had a beet and goat cheese salad:

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It was incredible.

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I ordered the chicken off the “lighter” menu to aid in my diet journey. It had chicken, asparagus, artichoke hearts, roasted tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, capers, garlic, and balsamic. Delicious.

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For dessert, I picked the s’mores cheesecake! YUMMY! See? That’s why I ordered from the “lighter” menu.

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After our dinner, we walked around the plaza and played with the giant-sized checkers. The boys had so much fun! They must have felt like they were in Honey I Shrunk the Kids!!

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Smalls promptly stood on a black checker and pooped in his pants. It was the entertainment for a lot of people walking by. What can you do!

Checker pooping included, it was a perfect night!

On Monday, we visited with my parents. We helped my Mom prune her garden. She let the boys pick beans and tomatoes.

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Then, we ate lunch and made and ate dessert – Strawberry Coconut Cream Pie Bars!

Yes, that’s right. And they were as delicious as they sound!

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I can’t even. The glazed fresh strawberries on top of the cool, creamy pie remind me of the strawberry pies my Mom would make when I was growing up (where I would lick the hot glaze off the wooden spoon, burning my mouth but not caring), in the same kitchen where we made this dessert!

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Try the recipe. Yesterday.

http://willowbirdbaking.com/2014/04/07/strawberry-coconut-cream-pie-bars/

The next day, I took the boys to the beach with three of my girlfriends and their wonderful children. It was overcast (yet we still got burned, even after applying sunscreen once an hour!), and a beautiful day. It was our first beach trip of the season!

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The boys wasted no time playing in the sand. Smalls did struggle, however, with the incoming waves and the constant sand on his hands and feet. He’s a little finicky. 🙂  He felt a little better when I put Bigs’ water shoes on him.

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He loved pulling around this little cart.

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There is something about the salty, fresh air and the sound of the waves that puts my soul at ease.

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A woman, near where we set up ‘camp’ (and believe you me, it looked like a campsite, with all of the stuff we brought), helped Bigs catch a little fish. He was so proud of that little fish. He carried around as long as he could until the bucket overturned in a wave and the little fish rejoiced in its freedom.

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Whenever I am at the beach, it gives me a chance to reflect on God’s great gifts to us on this Earth.

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My little Smalls enjoyed spending his beach time close to me, as the older kids splashed, boogie-boarded, built sand castles, dug holes, and played.

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Sweet friends

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We ate our picnic lunches and Smalls clutched his food for so long, they were covered in sand (SANDwich, watermelon, carrots – all covered!).

It was a great day!

On Wednesday, we were busy, once again, but I was able to find time to make some donuts (isn’t there always time??).

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We were going on a playdate the next day and I couldn’t show up empty-handed!

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I’ve used this short-cut recipe before and loved it.

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I also tried my hand at donut holes. I think I need more practice (if you know what I mean, wink wink!).

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I think my friend liked them! She’s got a sweet tooth, just like me! 🙂

Here’s the recipe:

http://www.confessionsofacookbookqueen.com/2012/04/mini-devils-food-donuts/

The next afternoon, I made Mushroom Piccata (I didn’t follow a recipe, I just made them as I would make Chicken Piccata) and a corn and bean salad for lunch. My Smalls was obsessed with both!

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For the corn and bean salad, I used one can of corn, one can of beans, one avocado, tomatoes, S&P, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

And when the boys went to bed, I ate a little cake that I’d made the day before with leftover donut batter. I used a little bit of malted chocolate frosting that my Mom had made. It was just the right size and the perfect nap-time treat.

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Nap time was also a treat.

For my last dinner in my 20’s, I made a taco bar. It was good! The kids enjoyed it too. They didn’t even mind that I burned the hard taco shells.

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I made a taco salad for myself.

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And, then last Friday was my 30th birthday. Eeek! I am now in a different decade! It’s so weird. I immediately felt older. Anyways, we started the day with pancakes (GF, DF). I jazzed up the plates a little bit. You need sprinkles on your birthday always, even if it’s your 30th.

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My husband took off work. He’s so wonderful. He always takes off work on my birthday. He took me (and the boys) shoe shopping after breakfast. And then we went to Chili’s for lunch.

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My Hubs and I had some kind of pineapple-y adult beverage.

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I got the Honey Chipotle Chicken. When I was pregnant with Smalls, I ate this and got horribly sick. Not from eating it, but from being pregnant. And usually when that happens, one doesn’t again eat the food that made them sick. But I like this meal so much, I keep eating it. TMI? Whatever.

For dessert, we ordered the Cinnamon Lava Cake with our free birthday dessert coupon. It turns out, the staff will sing to you even if you turn 30. I ate my cake with pink, embarrassed cheeks.

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After naps, we went in search of free donuts. It was National Donut Day. How fitting that my birthday fell on this day. It’s like the universe knew.

When the kids were in bed, my husband surprised me with a little pineapple coconut cupcake to eat without pecking children around.

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It was a wonderful 30th birthday. I don’t think I would have changed a thing.

My Hubs and I went out on an adult celebratory birthday dinner the next night. We went to a Vietnamese restaurant we used to frequent. But before we went, my Mom brought some Peach Cupcakes over to celebrate! They were great!

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At our Viet restaurant, I ordered a bubble tea, in green tea flavor, with boba.

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I am obsessed with these things.

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It was divine. I’m going with taro next time.

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I was a happy Birthday Girl.

We ordered the Summer Roll Sampler.

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And we each ordered the Chicken Pho.

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We went to a bookstore for coffee afterwards. Just like we used to do before kids. Viet and the bookstore. Computer mags for Hubs, rag mags for me. It was so nice to get some alone with my Husband and do some of the things we used to do.

On Sunday, we went to church and later on, I made a yummy dinner. I made macaroni and cheese from scratch and paired it with a rotisserie chicken and fruit.

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Happy bellies.

And here are my gratuitous salad pictures (of salads I’ve made and eaten) to keep me motivated on healthy eating and jogging, at least enough to keep the cake calories off, which I realize is a lot due to the amount of cake I’ve eaten lately.

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Whew. We are all caught up! I hope you all are doing well, and like always, I hope I can stick with posting, even through our busy summer days.

Blessings!

Kristin

Curry On!

For tonight’s dinner, I went with a slightly Mediterranean influence. I use “slightly” loosely, since I’ve never been to the Mediterranean and ‘they’ might just be appalled at what I label as such. Earlier today, I made a curried carrot and raisin salad. I love those. I might be the only person who orders them at Chik-Fil-A (no curry in theirs). Am I? Why do they still have those on the menu if it’s only me eating them? So flattered. The recipe called for mayonnaise and since Dairy-Free-Husband can’t eat that (nor would he, with a ten foot long fork), I made a slightly different version for him. Seriously. Wife of the year. I’ll clear some junk out of the way to put up my trophy.

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The one on the left is obviously the better one (with mayo).

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I added more cayenne to my husband’s and used olive oil in place of mayo. I also added turmeric since it helps with his Crohn’s. The result was like a marinated salad. The fresh lemon juice really brightened it up. I actually really enjoyed this take on it.

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The original recipe yielded a creamier, Chick-Fil-A type salad. This might also be really tasty with pineapple in it. Dang. I actually have pineapple this time.

Oh well. I can add some tomorrow and eat it. There’s plenty of leftovers (of both), since I was the only one eating it tonight. :/

Anyways, if you are into such a salad, here’s the recipe:

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/03/carrot-raisin-salad-from-down-south.html

I also made a chicken and bean casserole. I found this recipe today and love that you can pretty much sub out any of the veggies, beans, and proteins.

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I used one can of chick peas and one of navy beans. I used a frozen mixture of green and wax beans and carrots.

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I love a recipe that you can literally just throw together. With whatever you have. That’s my kind of cooking.

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I really enjoyed this recipe too. The bean mixture on the bottom was so good. I couldn’t get enough. Some of the chick peas had browned to a crunchy state. So good. The little boys didn’t like this. Too bad. More for me. This will also be good tomorrow, cold and over a green salad.

Here’s the link to the recipe:

http://www.katheats.com/easy-chicken-and-bean-bake

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I served it with a fresh fruit salad.

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I really enjoyed this meal.

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Hope you have a blessed Thursday and a wonderful Friday! TGIF!

Kristin

End Piece of Bread

Cat Bread Ends

You know those end pieces of bread flanking the good, soft stuff in the middle of the loaf? Do you eat those? I always feel sorry for them. Sometimes I feed them to Smalls because he doesn’t notice, save for a few extra chews. I feel like the last day of the year is sort of like those extra little pieces of bread. It’s easy to forget, but the last day of the year counts, just like you can make something amazing from those sad little end pieces (French toast, bread pudding, bread crumbs, etc.).

ROMRO (right on, man, right on – we say that a lot in my house for some reason).

Today could be a day to finish out your resolutions from the past year, if you so desire, or think about what’s important to you in the next year. Like I’ve said, I always think about how I can do things differently, up coming. And I get all nostalgic about how much my sons have grown. It doesn’t take much for me to get all mushy about them.

It’s also a day to celebrate and close a chapter.

Or to party.

Or to set an alarm for 11:55p, like I do. Whatevs.

Bear End Breads

Okay, so I don’t LIKE them, but I don’t MIND them. I wouldn’t seek to eat them over the soft, yeasty bread slices, but I won’t turn those end pieces down if they were slathered liberally with any sort of peanut (or other nut) butter. I’ll eat just about anything as a vehicle for that. Or a jelly. Or most any type of spread. I’m a spread and condiment sort of gal. Staaahp Kris.

I [sort of] digress.

I can’t seem to stop likening stuff in life to food. It just comes naturally to me.

Sorrrry!

Anyways, I always try to make something special of the last day of the year. Nothing big or expensive or fancy. Just something slightly out of the ordinary so we can remember it. And it always includes a dinner at Perkin’s. And that might be the only special thing we do that day. And I’m okay with that.

It always takes some extra gumption to go out to eat alone with them. But since it was NYE, we did it.

I took lots of backup.

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I stocked my purse with books, airplanes, cars and small child-friendly electronic thingies. There might even be a dino or two in there from a previous outing.

We played tic tac toe (Bigs ALWAYS won, clever boy!), and drew with our crayons and played with our cars and planes. We talked about New Years.

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And we ate until we were content. Bigs ALWAYS gets sprinkle pancakes there. Smalls also had pancakes and breakfast potatoes. I got steak tips, salad and veggies. And I ate whatever my kids didn’t.

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I ordered a piece of double chocolate fudge cake to go. I’ve already had one bite, but I had to eat it in hiding, hence the crummy quality pictures. I know I’m on a diet, but still. Special occasion, and all.

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And at least 8 elderly people (that’s the typical demographic of this restaurant and I love it) came by to say hello to my boys and say how lovely Bigs’ blue eyes and Smalls’ golden curls were.

And I took pictures of Smalls’ hands. Don’t you love little baby hands?

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And earlier, I made a chicken soup chock full of veggies. It’s been very rainy and gray and blustery here and it just called for a big stock pot full of soup.

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I put in a carton of no-salt chicken stock and the same carton full of water. I cut up and added a package each of carrots and celery and about 1/4 cup of onion. Once those were soft enough, I added all the chicken (that I cut off and sort of cubed from a rotisserie) and let it simmer until whenever.

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I added salt to mine. I leave it out for my husband. I think it needs it. It was good, hearty and almost as importantly, easy. And it would be good with rice or noodles. Or toasted end pieces of bread.

Oh and also, I learned that baby gates mean nothing to Smalls. He can pull them off, undo them and unlock them.

Just an aside.

I hope next year is more organized than this post is.

Be safe tonight – lots of crazies out there!

Happy New Year’s Eve!!

Kristin