Archive | February, 2011

Menu Plan Feb. 28-Mar. 5

28 Feb


This week we are looking forward to some simple meals and lots of good fellowship with friends and hopefully family this weekend.  We will also be experimenting a little with Whoppie Pies so I’ll have to keep you updated on how that goes. 🙂


  • Breakfast: Sourdough Cranberry Bread (coming soon), Fruit Salad
  • Lunch: Sandwich, Veggie Sticks, Yogurt
  • Dinner: Small Group: Dinner with friends.  Take salad with homemade poppy-seed dressing.


  • Breakfast: Coco Wheats, Fruit
  • Lunch: Turkey Chili and Salad
  • Dinner: Chicken Veggie Biscuit Casserole, Salad
  • To Do: Bake bread, make Pumpkin Butter,




  • Breakfast: Apple Raisin Rice Pudding
  • Lunch: Fish Casserole, Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli
  • Dinner: Leftovers


  •  Breakfast: Spinach Frittata and Toast
  • Lunch: Stir Fry
  • Dinner: Baked Rosemary Chicken, Sweet Potatoes, salad.

Baby Gear Essentials (or not)

27 Feb
  • Fisher-Price papasan swing

Walk into any baby specialty store and no doubt within 5 minutes you will be overwhelmed with the crazy amount of things experts say you must have for your baby.  Thankfully having grown up as the oldest of six children and having babysat/nannyed regularly for 13 years before I had Elijah I knew that not everything was essential.  Still I often found myself tempted by different gadgets wondering if they would in fact “make life easier.”  On the other side I wondered if I really wanted to raise a child who always needed to be entertained with different gadgets.  Wouldn’t it be great if a child could learn to entertain himself from time to time?  We also wanted to be good stewards of the resources that God has given us and quite frankly I didn’t want a house over flowing with baby gear. 🙂

Since many of my friends are expecting this year (and my sweet sister in law) I thought it might be fun to share some recommendations. The following is a list of what gear we found to be great during Eli’s first year. (You can easily not purchase all of these.  All a baby really needs is lots of love, a few clothes, some diapers, and food.)  Remember each family is different and will have different needs and priorities. Since we travel a lot to visit family and friends gear that travels easily was important for us. 

Emerson Family Recommendations:

  • Baby Swing: We first purchased the Fisher-Price Nature Papasan Swing and found it to be very helpful especially during the first couple of weeks.  It’s a nice gender neutral swing with different speeds and direction.  It also has nice relaxing nature sounds which didn’t drive me crazy.  🙂 If you are looking for a regular sized swing I highly recommend this one.   
  • Product Image Fisher-Price Take Along Swing- Woodlands


    Travel Swing: Last year we were in a season of our lives where we traveled a lot.  Besides visiting family, attending conferences, and youth trips we attended 7 weddings. 🙂  This swing folds up very small and worked great for us while traveling and at home.  We attended a conference when Eli was just a few months old and found it very nice to have this with us in our hotel room.  After holding or wearing Eli most of the day it was a nice break to let him swing for a little while back at the hotel.  I also kept the regular swing in our kitchen and the travel swing in our living room.  I have fond memories of sitting right on the floor next to Eli folding clothes and writing papers while he watched.  🙂  This could also easily take the place of a bouncer seat as they really provide the same function. 

  • Car Seats: We love our Graco Snugride Infant Seat and also have 2 bases for each car.  (The bases are optional but incredibly handy.) This can only be used for about the first year (we actually used our less than that).  You can skip the infant car seat and use a convertible car seat instead.  Now that Eli is bigger we have a Britax Marathon car seat that we love.  They are incredibly safe, very adjustable, and look comfy. 
  • Carriers and Strollers: If I had to choose between owning a stroller and a baby carrier I would choose a baby carrier.  They are wonderful!  My two favorites are the Ergo and the Moby (best for little babies).  Check out my post here about baby carriers. We also own a regular Graco Snugride stroller that came with our car seat which we like a lot and an older Baby Trend jogging stroller that we keep out for our strolls around the neighborhood.  One stroller is fine.  Since my car is so little the jogging stroller won’t fit in it! 
  • Johnny Jump Up: Eli absolutely loved this!  He would jump up and down while I cleaned the house or cooked dinner.  It is also nice and portable and doesn’t take up much room. 
  • Pack-N-Play: We have a very snazzy one: the Nature’s Comfort with a bassinnett and changing table attachments.  Ours includes a changing table (not really necessary) and a bassinett option (very nice when recovering from having a c-section).  I think a pack and play is pretty much a necessity. If you are limited on space your baby could sleep in it as his crib.  We have taken ours everywhere!  I also keep ours set up at our house.  Eli has an alone time each day where he plays and reads books in his. 
  • The Bumbo

  • Bumbo: one of our favorite baby gear items.  We also took this everywhere with us.  We often took it with us to restaurants before Eli was able to sit in a high chair.  Babies can use the bumbo at 4 months.  We loved the optional tray and used it to feed Eli and attach toys.  
  • Baby Bath Tub: you don’t actually need one and can easily bath your baby in the sink.  However I like to have one as it saves water and I also think it is hard to bath a newborn.
  • Other items that we wouldn’t purchase again or never did purchase include: a Jumperoo, exersaucer, toy play mat, large high chair, and walker. 

My Little Helper

27 Feb

I want to help mommy. Look at me I can do it. 🙂

I think we might have to find a kiddie mop. Just a note: he just picked up the mop and started "mopping." I didn't even show him how.

Look mom I can dust the table just like you. (Nope I didn't show him how to do this one either. He's very observant!)

Looks like I need 2 hands for this!

Admiring the finished work. 🙂

I caught Eli trying to be just like mamma cleaning up recently and some how managed to get a picture.  He runs so fast it’s hard to catch him with a camera!  At our house our cleaning schedule is to do the majority of our cleaning on Monday and Tuesday afternoons.  Since I’m still in school I use Eli’s nap time to study and clean while he is awake.  Guess he is more observant than I thought.  I had set out the mop a couple of days ago and found him using it when I got back.  Last month he picked up the dust rag when I sat it down to go get the vacuum.  🙂 Perhaps it’s time to get him a kiddie mop and broom.  🙂

Stuffed Manicotti

26 Feb

Yummy Manicotti

Looking for a special dinner that won’t break the bank?  Try this easy delicious recipe for stuffed manicotti.  It would make a fun, easy candlelight meal.  I have fond memories of making this with my mom as a little girl.  🙂  It’s delicious.  This recipe makes 4 hearty servings.  It doubles easily to feed a larger family.   Serve alongside Herb Bread or Sesame Garlic Italian Bread.

1st cook 8 oz. manicotti shells according to package

To make the sauce:

  • Brown 1/2 lb. ground beef and 1 small chopped onion.  Drain.
  • Add in: 3 8oz cans of tomato sauce, 1/8 t. chili powder, pinch of crushed red pepper, 1/8 t. ground cumin, 1/4 t. oregano, 1/4 t. basil, 1/2 t. minced garlic, 1/2 4 oz. sliced mushrooms.  Simmer for a couple of minutes.
  • To Make the Filling combine in a bowl: 1 1/2 c. cottage cheese, 1 c. mozzarella cheese, dash of salt and pepper, 1 beaten egg, 4-5 oz. cooked drained spinach (1/2 a 10 oz box), 1/2 t. chopped parsley. 
  •  Spoon 2/3 c. meat mixture on the bottom of a pan.  I used a 7×11 pan. 

Fill each shell with 1 heaping T. of filling mixture. (I used a baby spoon and it worked wonderful.) Lay on top of sauce.

Spoon remaining meat sauce over the top of the dish. Bake at 350 about 50 minutes. Yields: 4 servings.

Serve alongside a fresh salad and enjoy!

Cloth Wipes How To

24 Feb

Would you ever believe cloth wipes could be so cute?

If you have already entered the exciting world of cloth diapering or are planning on doing so in the near future you must try cloth wipes.  Honestly they are not any more trouble at all.  The savings are quite substantial! No more running out to the store late at night because you are all out of wipes!  Instead you will have a plentiful supply on hand.  I have also found that cloth wipes work MUCH better than disposable wipes.  With disposable wipes I often found myself using 3-4 but with the cloth wipes I rarely have to reach for a second.  They also work wonderful for cleaning up messy faces. 🙂  We keep a handful of them in the kitchen for that purpose.

You can sew your wipes in any size you like. I like to make two different sizes 8X8 and 4X8.

I like to sew my wipes from an old baby towel and soft flannel (either use an old receiving blanket or purchase 1/2 yard of flannel).  The flannel will eventually fade but it is soft.  I don’t know about you but I really like soft stuff when it comes to babies.  I like the softness of the baby towel and it is much cheaper to use even a new baby towel than to purchase terry cloth at the fabric store.  I love having the two different sides especially when the baby gets bigger. 😉 

For regular wipes: I cut a piece of flannel and a piece of the baby towel in an 8″ square. Then I place them wrong sides together (so that the pretty sides are on the outside).  Pin the side seams if you are new to sewing and then stitch all the way around using a zig zag stitch or serger.  (I used a serger.)  That’s it!  How simple!  I also think it’s pretty fun to whip out a super cute wipe when changing a diaper. 

I also like to make travel size wipes which fit nicely into a travel wipes container. These measure 4X8 (1/2 the size of a regular wipe.

I have also found that I love making travel size wipes for the diaper bag.  I sew these just like regular wipes with 1 side of flannel, 1 side of baby towel but instead I sew them 4 inches X 8 inches.  I like that I can store about 8 of these in a wipes container rather than 4.  They are also the perfect size for when you are out and about and just need to wipe off a dirty mouth, hands, or change a diaper.  I like to keep my wipes pre-moistened in a travel wipes container or carry a small spray bottle of water in the diaper bag.

For those of you who aren’t into sewing at all you can purchase them online (I love to purchase cloth diapers supplies from Cotton Babies) or locally at Mother Nurture.  This is also a great project to use up old scraps of fabric.  It works especially well when making Flannel crib sheets.  As for how many wipes to make it depends on how often you do laundry.  I would probably recommend somewhere between 2 and 3 dozen.

Delicious Herb Bread

23 Feb

We find this Herb bread to be delicious especially for meat sandwiches.

For the past couple of months we have been absolutely loving this recipe for Herb Bread.  The recipe makes 3 regular sized loaves of bread.  You could easily divide the recipe by 1/3 to make just one loaf but I usually make 3.  This freezes very well or you can give a loaf or two to a friend.  It definately tastes like something you would get at a specialty sandwich shop. 

Mix together:

  • 3 3/4 c. warm water
  • 6 T. soft butter, dry milk powder, and sucanat or sugar.
  • 1 1/2 t. each of thyme, basil, marjoram, and chives.  If you happen to run out of one of them just increase all of the other spices to compensate for it.  I often run out of marjoram and the bread is still great. 😉
  • 4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 3 T. yeast
  • 1 1/2 T. salt
  • Mix together in a bowl and let set for about 15 minutes.  Set the timer or you will definitely forget about it.  🙂  Add bread flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  I think I usually add about 4-5 cups at this step.  Then knead for 6 minutes.  Form loaves and place in greased bread pans.  Let rise and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.  When it comes out of the oven I like to top it with just a tiny bit of soft butter to make the crust soft.

Guarding Against Techno Time Wasters

22 Feb

I am so thankful for technology especially the computer.  I find myself daily turning to it for any number of things from watching online lectures for my Biblical Hebrew class to looking up cooking substitutions when I run out of something.  I keep in touch with friends, organize my life, write lists, journal, find great ideas, print coupons, and write Bible Studies among many other things.  Unfortunately it can also be a major time waster.  I find it so easy to just click, click, click and then the time has flown by.  I find this to be a major temptation when I am tired especially at bed time.

Satan loves to distract us from the work that God has called us to.  What we must do is fight back.  Yes we should be praying against such things but we should also examine our own lives.  How we spend our time is very important to God.  Ephesians 5:16 encourages believers to “make the most of their time because the days are evil.”  How could your time best be spent?  Is playing on the internet or talking on the phone for hours advancing God’s kingdom and bringing Him much glory? What about your family?  Are you making sure that your technology usage is blessing your family and not hurting it?  I think back to the Proverbs 31 woman.  It says of her in Prov. 31: 27 “She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”  What an encouragement that we be intentional to guard the amount of time we give to technology.  How I desire to be such a woman but how my flesh loves to be lazy! 

What area do you find yourself most tempted to waste your time?  In my life it is probably the internet.  I just love it and have found it to be such a useful tool in my life.  Unfortunately it can also be quite distracting.  I have found the following to be helpful in guarding against time wasters in my life:

Keep an eye on your priorities: Don’t allow technology to crowd out the most important things in life.  If I’m not careful it can be so easy to decide to just check my email before pulling out my Bible and spending some good time with the Lord.  Before I know it thirty minutes have went by and I have missed out the blessing of sitting at the Father’s feet.  This isn’t to say that you have to be legalistic about using your cell phone or using the internet.  It isn’t a sin to use technology.  It is important to keep a close eye on ourselves.  What does my heart look like?  Am I upset when I miss out on “me” downtime to play on the internet? 

 Set a timer for internet usage.  Rather than completely remove the internet from our home (not exactly a practical solution) I limit myself to certain time frames.  Although I could easily spend more time, I find that somewhere between 30-60 minutes daily to be plenty of time to reply to emails, keep up with friends, blog, and surf the web.  (This doesn’t include the time I spend watching Hebrew lectures.)  I love to utilize the favorite application to save something I come across and look at it at another date.  🙂

Menu Plan Feb. 21-27

21 Feb

This week proves to be a busy one with my first Hebrew test on Tuesday.  We’ll be enjoying some simple meals, a couple of casseroles and plenty of yummy soup.  We were planning on eating Minestrone soup for a couple of lunches this week but I forgot to plug in the cord on the Crockpot.  We came home from church and everything was raw! 😦  This weekend I made some Herb Bread so we will be enjoying that for simple lunches this week.  (recipe to follow soon-it’s delicious!)


  • breakfast: Cream of Wheat, Fruit
  • Lunch: Veggie Chicken Soup, Herb Bread
  • Dinner: Mexican Beef Macaroni and Cheese, Salad
  • to do: Make yogurt, thaw cooked turkey meat


  • Breakfast: Homemade Yogurt and Granola with Fruit
  • Lunch: Sandwiches and Butternut Squash Soup
  • Dinner: Turkey Tetrazzini, Peas, Herb Bread
  • To Do: Thaw Sausage


  • breakfast: Sausage Bake with Toast
  • Lunch: Leftover Mexican Beef Macaroni and Cheese
  • Dinner: Lentil Pot Pie (don’t tell Brandon it’s lentils) 🙂 
  • To do: Thaw porkchops



  • breakfast: Leftover Apple French Toast and Sausage Bake
  • Lunch: Potato Pockets with Crockpot Turkey Chili
  • Dinner: Leftovers, Fruit Salad
  • To Do: Make Bread


  • B: Pancakes and Bacon
  • L: Chicken with Noodles and Mixed Vegetables
  • D: Lentil-Rice casserole, Salad


  • Breakfast: Leftovers, Fresh Fruit
  • Lunch: Stuffed Manicotti, Caesar Salad, Italian Bread
  • Dinner: Minestrone Soup with Bread

Creamy Veggie Chicken Soup

20 Feb

Eli often enjoys reading a book in the high chair while waiting for dinner. 🙂

Tonight I again tweaked a soup recipe and I think it is finally to my liking.   This is so yummy and tastes similar to a Cream of Broccoli soup you might get at a Panera type restaurant.  Have you noticed a trend yet?  Panera is my favorite restaurant.  🙂  I tried to take a picture for you all but failed miserably.  Trust me it looks and tastes great! 😉  Enjoy the picture of Eli instead. 


  • In a large saucepan melt 2 T. butter.  Add 1 small chopped onion and 1/2 cup green pepper.  Cook for a few minutes and then add in the following:
  • 1 16 oz bag of California Medley style frozen vegetables: includes carrots, broccoli, cauliflower.  I buy mine from Aldi. I think it is around $1 and they taste great!  (Sometimes it is even cheaper to use the frozen medley than to buy the fresh vegetables and cut them up.  This also saves a little time if you are in a hurry.)
  • 1 1/2 cups of peeled, chopped potatoes.
  • 3 cups of chicken stock (preferably homemade). 
  • 4 t. chicken bouillon or 4 chicken bouillon cubes.
  • 1 c. cut up cooked chicken.  I have also made this soup without the chicken. (I needed to use some up some chicken that had been in the fridge a while so into the soup pot it went.)
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 t. garlic powder
  • liberal dash of fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 t. each of ground mustard, paprika, and coriander.  If you don’t have all these don’t worry about it just skip them or add your favorite seasonings in place. 
  • Bring mixture to a boil and simmer covered about 20 minutes.  (I like to stick a fork in the veggies to make sure they are tender.) 
  • Mix together: 1 can of coconut milk and 4 T. whole wheat flour.  Add into the soup mixture.  Simmer uncovered for about 20 more minutes or until the soup has thickened to your liking.  (You could use 1 3/4 c. milk instead of the coconut milk.) 
  • Stir in 1 1/2 c. of cheese (I used a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella since that’s what I had on hand.) 

Enjoy!  I didn’t measure but I would guess this recipe makes approximately 2 quarts or maybe more.  If you would rather use fresh veggies use any combination of broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower in place of the medley.  (In case you are wondering you can’t taste the cauliflower.)  I would aim for about 4-5 cups of veggies.  I don’t think it would matter if the majority of the veggies were broccoli or cauliflower.  One might notice a lot of carrots though.  Well at least my hubby would.  We still haven’t made a Carrot soup-it sounds awful to us both! 🙂

Free Puppet Show Tickets

18 Feb

If you are local to me call the Woodford County Library to get your FREE tickets to the Annie Oakley’s Wild West Puppet Show on Feb. 27th at 2 pm.  It will be held at the Duthie Auditorium at Midway College.  This show is part of the Madcap Puppets and is sure to be a showstopper. 

If you don’t live near me make sure to periodically check your local library’s website for events.  They are usually free.  Remember part of your taxes goes to support the public library-make sure you take advantage of it.  This past fall we had a great time taking Eli to see his first play absolutely free. 🙂