Bear Creek Soup Mix

Soup is such a wonderful meal. It is warm and it always hits the spot! I find that it is the perfect quick meal. Even though there are tons of delicious canned soups on the market these days, lots of times I am not in the mood for a canned soup. I want to feel like I have made something on my own, but who has the time to slave in the kitchen all day long to make a delicious soup?

Recently while perusing the aisles at my local grocery store, I found myself browsing the soup shelves. I scanned each shelf looking for some soup that I had not tried yet. Then something caught my eye, a pouch. What type of soup comes in a pouch? A soup mix comes in a pouch! I picked up the pouch and read the instructions. It seemed simple enough and since it only cost $4.19 I figured it was worth the risk. I only purchased one variety at first, Cheddar Broccoli. A few weeks went by and I never made the soup, then the night came. I was not in the mood to cook, but I didn’t want take out either. I stood in the pantry staring at all of the food wondering what to throw together. Then I saw the pouch again. I knew it was time to try out the soup. I grabbed the pouch and headed back to my kitchen. The directions on the package said to bring 8 cups of water to a boil. That was easy enough! I filled my pot with water and waited for it to boil. Once the water came to a boil, I whisked in the soup mix just as the directions say. I reduced the heat and let the soup simmer for 10 minutes. It says on the package for variety you can add bacon, ham, broccoli or corn. I decided to be adventurous! I added some fresh broccoli that I had in the fridge. I cut it up into bite size pieces and threw it into the pot of simmering soup. Then I decided I wanted to add some meat to my soup. I had some ground chicken waiting to be cooked, so I browned it quickly in a skillet and added it to the soup as well. I let the soup continue to cook on low until we were all ready to eat.

The smell coming from my kitchen was phenomenal. My husband and I couldn’t wait to eat! We each got a bowl and filled it up with 2 big ladles full of soup. This was some of the best soup I have had in a long time. I was amazed! How could this powdered soup mix be so delicious? I still have no clue how it works, but it really is wonderful. I have since bought 2 more varieties of this soup mix. In our pantry right now I have three mixes, Cheddar Broccoli, Creamy Potato, and Minestrone. We have already made the minestrone once and it was also delicious. The only thing I added to it was a few handfuls of frozen mixed vegetables. I can’t wait to try these again and add other things to it, or maybe even not add anything and have it as an appetizer instead of my full meal.

Bear Creek soup has been around for a while, but I am so glad that I finally picked it up off the shelf and gave it a try. It makes a ton of soup for the family or even some for a couple with leftovers for days! Next time you are at the grocery store, you should definitely give Bear Creek Soup Mix a try!

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Summer Fun on a Budget

I have spent many a summer trying to keep kids entertained on a tight budget. Here are some of my favorites that we have done through out the years!

Fun In The Sprinkler
This is probably the easiest Way to have fun during the summer. The only additional cost is a bit added on to your water bill. However, your yard probably needs to be watered anyways, so why not let the kids play while the yard gets watered! Get the kids into their suits and put on plenty of sunscreen. Make sure you get into your suit and get your sunscreen on too. I know I can’t resist playing with my kids, but more often than not they will fall and need me to come and rescue them from being sprayed by the water at some point or another, so I always like to be prepared to get wet myself. Play time in the sprinkler is a great way to play with water guns and beach balls as well.

Craft Projects
Summer is a great time to play outside in the sun. However, many times it is just too hot to be outside. For days like this, find a great indoor activity! Crafts are a wonderful and inexpensive way to enjoy being indoors. Here are a few of my favorite summer craft projects!

1. Patriotic Crafts – With all of the patriotic holidays that happen to fall during the summer, it is a great time to work on patriotic crafts with the kids. This gives you an opportunity to explain the meaning of these holidays and he significance of the craft project for that holiday.
2. Outdoor crafts – These are crafts that are not necessarily done outdoors. They are crafts about the outdoors. You can make suns out of construction paper. If you live near the beach, you can make beach scenes in bottles with some sand and sea shells that you gather during a beach trip. You can gather flowers and press them or dry them. You can even make flowers from construction paper for an arrangement that will never need watering!
3. Sea life crafts – It is so fun to make underwater creatures as a craft. Fish, octopus, starfish, shells, you can make tons of different undersea animals and you can make tons of things from those animals! Picture frames, mobiles, calendars, the possibilities are only as limited as your imagination!

Summer School
I know the last thing that the kids are going to want to think about during the summer is school, but school will be back in session before you know it. You don’t want them to forget everything they learned the prior school year, and if possible you want to get them ahead of the game for the next year! It is a good idea to take a little time each day to go over the thing they learned next year and to prepare them for the new lessons coming in the next grade level. Reading books is a good way to keep them learning. You can also print out worksheets for them in a variety of subjects. There are several home school web sites that have free print outs available for you. You can also purchase a summer workbook that will have daily activities for your child according to their grade level.

Go on an Outing
A change of scenery is a good way to break the boredom. This change of scenery can be as simple as going to a park for a picnic. You can also go to a community pool, to visit relatives out of town, to the local zoo, or a children’s museum. If your kids are older you can even take a trip to a history museum or an art museum, these are great ways to keep them learning during the summer and have fun doing it!

Mix it Up
Normally you are the person making breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mix it up a bit, and have the kids help out with making the meals! You could choose one meal for them to help with each day or just one day that they get to help, whatever works best for you and your family. My kids love spending time helping out in the kitchen. Give them a task that is age appropriate. It could be measuring out some ingredients, cutting up ingredients, mixing up a batter or putting items into the bowl or pot. You can even let them help pick what you eat. This is a great Way to make grocery shopping with the kids easier too! They will be on a mission to get the items they need for their special meal!

Five simple tips, five days in every week, just pick a tip each day and your summer will fly by! You know what they say, time flies when you are having fun! With these tips, your summer will be more fun than ever before and it will all be inexpensive! Enjoy your summer filled with fun!

Crock Pot Breakfast Wrap Up

I just want to say how much fun it was waking up to breakfast already made each morning. However, four nights in a row of cooking again after dinner really tired me out! I do plan to make crock pot breakfasts again, but I will limit it to once a week or possibly every other week, or once a month even. Depending on how my kids did on their standardized tests … I may do the whole week again on testing weeks. But I’m not certain on that just yet.

Here’s a wrap up of the menu from the week of crock pot breakfasts,

Tuesday – Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole
Wednesday – Crock Pot Cinnamon French Toast
Thursday – Crock Pot Breakfast Cobbler
Friday – Crock Pot Breakfast Potatoes

The only recipe that was not liked by my entire family was Tuesday morning’s breakfast casserole. However, with some tweaking I think I could fix it to make it liked by all of us. I have asked everyone in the family and the votes turned out to be almost unanimous.

Grace – Cinnamon French Toast
Cameron – Cinnamon French Toast
Melody – Cinnamon French Toast
Larry – Cinnamon French Toast
Me – Breakfast Cobbler

The Cinnamon French Toast came in a VERY close second for me though. Larry said he can’t make a good vote because he didn’t get any of the Breakfast Cobbler.

Another thing that I really enjoyed about this week, was having a theme to blog about for several days in a row. I am still contemplating on what my next theme will be. If you have any suggestions on topics that you may want to hear about, please comment and let me know your thoughts.

Crock Pot Breakfast: Day 3

Yesterday’s recipe for Crock Pot Cinnamon French Toast was a HUGE success! It was delicious and got rave reviews from my entire family. All 3 kids loved it, and the hubby and I loved it too! We will definitely be making this one again sometime soon.

Tonight I will be putting together a Crock Pot Breakfast Cobbler. We are pretty pumped about this one. The kids are thrilled because cobbler sounds like dessert to them and they think dessert for breakfast sounds like a wonderful idea. Ha ha! The flavors in this dish sound so comforting and delicious to me and it also has lots of healthy stay with you food in it and that makes me happy! After they eat this breakfast, I know their beautiful brains won’t starting wandering off during the big test thinking about food because they are hungry.

Here is the recipe:

Crock Pot Breakfast Cobbler

What You Need
• 4 medium apples, peeled and sliced
• 1/4 cup honey
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 2 tablespoons butter, melted
• 2 cups Granola cereal

What To Do
1. Prepare inside of crockpot with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Add apples to crockpot.

3. Mix in remaining ingredients.

4. Cover; set crockpot to low and cook overnight, 7-9 hours. (Note: Cooks in 2-3 hours on high.)

Serving suggestion: Serve with milk.

Thanks to http://www.allcrockpotrecipes.com/breakfast/crockpot-breakfast-cobbler.shtml for this recipe. I will post a review of this recipe tomorrow night. Last night’s recipe was kid tested, mom approved, and dad approved too!

How I Stopped Biting My Nails, and how you can too!

nails

Every January 1st for 25 years my resolution was to stop biting my nails. I always thought, that it would finally be the year that I would finally complete my task. Then at the end of every year it was a big disappointment when I still had the same short, ugly nails. However, 2010 was my year! I finally stopped biting my nails! What worked for me, may not work for you, so I will give you some other suggestions as well.

Bad Taste

You can find bad tasting nail polish at just about any store. I have seen products like this at Walgreen’s, Wal-mart, Target, and the grocery store. I am sure other stores sell them as well. They have a variety of names but all work just the same. You polish your nails with the product. Then the first time you try to bite your nails, you get a mouth full of this nasty, bitter stuff. This may work very well for some people. However, it never seemed to work for me. I just kept something to drink with me and then I could wash the bad taste out of my mouth if I ever bit my nails.

Spice it up

Another way to try and cure nail biting with your taste buds is with hot sauce. Put just a bit of hot sauce on your nails. The next time you bite your nails your mouth will be on fire. However, this won’t work for everyone. Some people like spicy stuff. Then there are others like me, who just keep a drink handy to cool their mouth off.

Vitamins

You can add a vitamin supplement to your diet. Vitamin E is said to help with nail growth. I have noticed that it will help my nails to grow faster. However, I bit my nails so often that the quickness of growth was not helping me to stop biting them at all.

Go Fake

Here is the beginning of what worked for me to stop. I began to think that this was a habit I would never be able to break. So whenever we had a special event to go to, I would go to the nail salon and get fake nails put on. They looked beautiful, were strong, and lasted at least 2 weeks for me. However, this is a pricey option. In my area it costs about $25 to get the nails put on, and then another $12-$13 every few weeks to get them filled in.

Going fake was only a part time solution for me. I had to find a solution that worked that didn’t bust my budget.

What worked for me

June 2010, I went and got my nails done for a wedding. After 2 weeks I went and had them filled in. They looked so pretty that I wanted to keep them just a little longer for the Summer. I still would catch myself putting the fake nails in my mouth. So whenever I would do that, I would stop and then start cleaning underneath the false nails. Sometimes, I would rub lotion around my nails, or a cuticle oil on them. Anything to divert my attention away from biting on my nails. A few more weeks went by and my fake nails were beginning to come off. My real nails underneath had grown substantially during that month, so I decided to try and not bite them. After removing all of the fake nails, I used a nail buffer to smooth out my rough and weak nails. I also began putting a nail strengthening polish on at least once a week. Every time I would catch myself putting my nail to my mouth, I would start to clean them, polish them, or rub lotion on them. Soon another month had gone by, and my nails were still weak and breaking after having fake nails on, but they were not short and ugly anymore.

It is now April 3013. I have lovely nails now. They are strong, almost too strong according to a manicurist, and beautiful. I try and keep them painted now. It reminds me of how far I have come. It was definitely big change for me. I know that I am proud of myself for finally conquering this bad habit. Hopefully this article will help this be your year to stop biting your nails.

Letting Go

They say the first step to solving a problem, is to admit that you have a problem. Ok, I will admit it. I am a bit of a control freak. It’s really kind of weird because there are lots of things that I am so incredibly easy-going about. However, the things that I am particular about I am a total control freak about those. Here are a few examples …

Folding Clothes – Before I got married and had kids, I didn’t really care how the clothes were folded. However, now that I have been trying to do laundry for people other than just me for the past almost 13 years … I have really become a fanatic about the way things are folded.

My kids – I am a total mama bear and control freak when it comes to my kids. I am sure most parents are this way though. I want to know everything that is going on with them at all times. One of my kids has some health issues and I am all over those keeping track of her medications and such. I have either volunteered or worked at the school ever since my kids started school.  I just want my kids to know that I am their biggest advocate and I have their best interests at heart at all times.

Giving 100% – Ok, this is the one that I think a take a bit too far. When I do something, I give it my all. And I do mean my all. I want it to be the absolute best that it can be. About 11 years ago I worked as a temp. I would do such a good job at my temporary assignments that I would work myself out of a job before the contract was up. Of course, that hard work usually leads to bigger and better things for me. But I seriously don’t just give 100% … I usually push myself and go above and beyond. The problem with this is, when I don’t feel recognized, or appreciated for all of my hard work. I get very irritated.

My plans – When I plan something out, I expect it to go exactly the way I have planned it. That is totally unreasonable, and in my head I know that it is nearly impossible. But for some reason when things don’t go just according to plan … I flip out. I know, you are all now thinking that I am a total whack job. HA HA HA!

Ok, now that I have let you all into that crazy place that I call my brain … LOL … let’s get back to the point. This year I am trying to take a step back and let go of many of these issues. “Why do I need to be in control of this?” is what I ask myself. Sure, I still get all uptight over things. It isn’t like I can wave a magic wand and make all of those things go away in my head. But I am trying to be better about it.

What about you all? Is there anything that you are a control freak about? Is there anything that you are trying to change in your life? Take my advice. Even baby steps in the right direction are a good thing. So that’s what I keep on doing. Baby steps towards a calmer and still totally awesome me!

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Sincerely, James

The Life of a Teenage-Traveler

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