Random Ramblings: May 2015

Saturday, May 23, 2015

PB RITZ BANANA SNACKS

Yesterday was the boys last day of school.  Now we officially have a 5th grader, a 3rd grader and a kindergartner.  I can't even believe that.

In honor of them being out of school for the next 6 weeks, I thought I would share a little snack I came up with last week that they loved.  Chloe even told me it was amazing.  I don't know if I would go that far, but I had a few and they were pretty darn good.


I took Ritx crackers, smeered on a little creamy peanut butter and put on a slice of banana.  Wahla, that was it. Super 2 second snack and they loved it.  


So after I made this for them and they fell in love, I started thinking of other versions.  You could spread some nutella on instead of the peanut butter even.  I think that would be really good too.  I don't ever buy Nutella, but I might have to just to try it out.  


I even thought if you poured over a few drizzles of melted chocolate that would be super good too.  Or what about the smeer of peanut butter then some strawberry jelly then the banana?  I think the ideas could be endless here.  I do want to try a few other versions just to see what we think.  

This makes a great after school snack, and now that the kids are out for summer I am positive we will be having it all the time.  ....OH, I even thought of another one right now, what if we used a graham cracker instead of a ritz cracker. I grew up eating peanut butter on graham crackers, so why not try it this way too.  YUM.  


Let me know if you try any version of this little quick snack and which one you liked the best.  

~NICOLE

Thursday, May 21, 2015

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR KRISTA NOORMAN


Recently I got to join a team of people to read an advanced copy of a book before it was published. How exciting, right? I felt like it was some kind of super power to be able to read it before anyone else, strange I know, but to say the least I was super excited.
So I got to read it through a special kindle download version. So I borrowed little Jacob's Kindle and read it, in ONE day. Yes one day. I love reading and I just have not had a chance to really sit down and read a book, unless you count numerous bed time stories, in a long time. But then the book was so good, I just couldn't put it down at all. So before I realized it I had read the entire thing in a 24 hour period. That was exciting, I thought to myself, "At least I remember how to read big person books still."

But at the same time I was sad that I was done with the book because I felt like I knew the characters by the end and now they were... gone. The end, the movie in my mind had ended.. But it was worth it becuause it was such a good book.
I like the mushy girly love stories, the kind you find in movies on Lifetime. So this book was just that. A great balance of read life and a romantic novel.


Here is a little summary of the book:
Wedding photography is Maggie’s passion. The art of capturing a moment forever in time is magical to her, and she’s worked hard to become the best of the best. Week after week, she works with couples as they plan their happily ever afters, but she hasn’t been so lucky in love.
Behind the camera, it’s easy to hide from the pain and rejection of her past. The life she has made for herself is safe and predictable, until the owner of arival photography studio sets up shop in her small town and comes to her with an unexpected proposal. Suddenly, everything she has worked so hard to build is threatened and her simple, controlled life is thrown into chaos.
As she travels the state of Michigan photographing weddings, she struggles to keep her business afloat and the wall around her heart intact. But along the way, she learns more about loyalty and love than she ever imagined.
So the other day I got a chance to do a little interview with Krista. It has been fun getting to know her, and a fun tidbit, she and I are both married to men named Jacob and have a daughter named Chloe.  :)


KRISTA NOORMAN is the author of the young adult novel, The Truth About Drew, and the contemporary romance, Goodbye, Magnolia. Most of her life has been spent scribbling away in journals, honing her writing skills, while documenting her every day life. But it wasn’t until she took part in National Novel Writing Month in 2008, that she found her true calling and turned her pen (or rather her computer keyboard) to fiction.
Krista studied music education at Cornerstone University. After college, she turned to her love of photography and spent nearly a decade running her own wedding photography business. She is constantly inspired by books and movies, enjoys beautiful instagram feeds, and loves a great cup of coffee. Krista makes her home in a small town in western Michigan with her husband, Jacob, and their two children.
She writes about life, family, faith and whatever else comes to mind at bykrista.com.
Here is my interview with her.
1. What do you find is your greatest inspiration? I'm really inspired to tell stories that are real and honest, romantic and sweet, easy to read in a few sittings, with the characters' faith in God woven into the story.

2. What is your favorite meal/ or restaurant? Olive Garden chicken parmigiana! So good.
3. Where is your favorite place to travel? That's a tough one to narrow down. I love to travel and see new places. For good relaxing travel, I love the ocean. Last summer, we went to the Outer Banks in North Carolina with friends, and that was so nice. For a sight-seeing trip, I love historical places, national parks, mountains. We went on a road trip a few years ago out to Yellowstone and back. It was a ton of driving, but one of the best trips ever.
4. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? Did you always know you wanted to be a photographer? What got you started in each? Writing was not something I ever thought I would do as a career and I blame my husband entirely. wink emoticon He took part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) a couple times, and I wondered if I could do it. The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I went for it in 2008 with an idea about a single, heartbroken wedding photographer surrounded by happy couples, and I wrote the first draft of what eventually became Goodbye, Magnolia. That was it for me. When I was feeling unsure about what I should be doing with my life, when photography was taking its toll on me, all I had to do was think about writing that book and I knew that's what I wanted to be doing. As far as photography, I've loved photographs since I was young and started taking pictures of my own when I got my first camera at around the age of ten. It wasn't what I set out to do with my life, though. I never thought that one day I would be a wedding photographer, but the doors opened for me to take some photos at a few friends' weddings one summer, just some candids alongside their official photographers. It all started there. I started my business and spent the next eight years capturing happy moments for many couples and families.
5. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go? Oh my goodness! There are just too many places. These questions are too hard. wink emoticon OK. I'll pick one. Greece. Santorini, specifically. Those white houses and buildings overlooking that blue water below always look so beautiful in pictures. I'd love to visit other places around Greece as well. Athens would be amazing. Oh, oh, oh … Australia. I want to go there. No wait, Ireland. Scotland. London. Just so many beautiful places to see in this world.
6. Any plans for a sequel to the book? I would love to see what the characters are up to in a few years ? I don't have a sequel planned, but there's sort of a prequel, I guess. Not sure if I'd really call it that. It's going to run right along the same timeline as Goodbye, Magnolia, but from another character's perspective. I won't give that away just yet. wink emoticon
7. So what is next for you at this point? Writing-wise, I've started working on the next book. Only on the first chapter, but I gotta start somewhere. wink emoticon Personally, I'm looking forward to some relaxing days after all the craziness of the big book launch week. We have a nice long weekend for Memorial Day with no school for the kids and no work for hubby, and we're going to enjoy every minute of it.
8. How long did it take you to write the entire novel? The first draft took 30 days. Then there were many rewrites and edited versions over the next several years. I would work on it for a while, then step away, then come back to it, then not touch it for a year. That sort of thing. But once I got serious about self-publishing, it took probably a year or so of rewriting, cutting scenes, adding new scenes. Then the editing process took a few months. If you add up the actual time that has passed between the first words typed on the page until May 19th, the day the book released, then it took 6 years, 6 months, and 19 days. LOL!
9. Do you have any advice for early authors, or someone wanting to get started in writing? Just write. That's easy to say, I know. Writing can be hard. But if you have an idea that you think would be an awesome story, write it down. Then plop yourself down in front of your computer or with a pen and paper and start writing. Biggest thing I learned from NaNoWriMo: Don't try to write it like it's going to be your finished novel, ready for publication. Just get that story out of your brain and onto the page. No matter how horrible that first draft is. It will not be perfection the first time around. But you'll have the start of something that could be amazing!
10. I can see this book as a LIfetime movie, who would you choose to play the roles of Maggie and Simon? Wouldn't it be fun to see the book played out in a movie? I have thought about the character of Maggie so many times, and I cannot picture anyone as her. Someone suggested Rachel McAdams. I could sort of see that. When I was writing Simon, I pictured a younger Hugh Jackman, only without that wonderful Australian accent. He's too old to be Simon, but I love him anyway.

Thank you so much Krista for taking the time to answer all my questions.



Here is me with the actual book that I got in the mail last week.


Thank you so much again Krista for having me on your Launch Team, I am very honored , and have loved getting to know you better. You are a great inspiration, and we have so much in common I feel like if we lived closer we would hang out and be friends. :)

One last thing... I saved the best for last. Krista is having a giveway, for a free ebook, so you should check it out.
You can enter by liking her Facebook Author page and there are even more ways to earn extra entries too.

~ Nicole

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 18, 2015

FRENCH DIPS

I thought since I haven't shared a recipe in so long, it was time.  Which as all of you know, my recipes don't always call for a specific amount of ingredients, but more of just some of this and some of that.  Hey that is just how we cook alot of the time around here. Whatever works, right?

One of our favorite sandwich meals is the French Dip.  YUM.  I love the crispy bread with the hot meat on it.  Melts in your mouth.  Jacob likes the au ju sauce, and I don't, so I just eat mine without.



They are super easy to make.  

I took a roast and shredded up the leftovers.  I then put it in my big cast iron pot and added several packs of au ju dry powder mix and the correct amount of water needed for the mix.  I let the juice and meat come to a boil and then let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes.  




In the mean time I buttered some sandwich rolls and grilled them in a pan on the stove until they were just toasted enough.  



Spread some mayo on the toasted rolls and pile it high with meat. 
Add some au ju sauce to a small bowl and dip your sandwich before you eat.  

So good.  They just melt in your mouth!




Another variation to making this is to do it in the crock pot.  You can put the shredded meat in with the au ju sauce and let it cook on low all day, or put in a new roast and let it cook with the au ju sauce all day. 

INGREDIENTS
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

LEFT OVER ROAST 
AU JU DRY MIX 

SANDWICH ROLLS
BUTTER

DIRECTIONS 
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
HEAT SHREDDED ROAST AND AU JU MIX UNTIL HEATED THROUGH.
BUTTER SANDWICH ROLLS AND GRILL UNTIL TOASTED.
ADD MEAT TO SANDWICH ROLLS.
DIP INTO AU JU SAUCE. 
ENJOY.

Another idea that we have done once or twice before too is add some provolone cheese to it so when you bite into the sandwich you get a stringy bite of cheesy goodness too.  YUM! Man this is making me so hungry right now.  We got a roast on our bi-weekly grocery shopping trip the other day, so I just might have to make these with the left overs.  

Want to know what else I like to put on mine if we have any on hand? I love to eat mine with Arbys sauce.  OMG so good!  

I think I better go check on dinner now, because now I feel like I am starving looking at this yummy food.  

What are some of your quick and easy dinner ideas?  What about leftover meals, what do you make with yours?  

~NICOLE

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

TEN ON TUESDAY

Hello!  Here is my TEN ON TUESDAY FOR TODAY


1.  This weather is driving my insane lately.  It rained last week, then it was so hot, in the high 80's, and now it is cooler with tons of wind again.  I mean TONS of wind.  I love the cooler weather but could do without the wind.  It is driving us all crazy.

2.  I have been walking every morning lately.  I started with my neighbor across the street, and on the days she can't go my little Chloe is still my walking buddy.  She usually rides her scooter and I walk, but today she wanted to be pushed in the stroller.  I think she really just wanted to play on her brothers tablet while I pushed her lol.  I took a different route and it was uphill right at the beginning, and having to push the stroller, man it really kicked my butt for sure.

3.  Tomorrow the kids school is doing a jr olympics.  Wednesday is Jacob's turn.  I love being able to go watch them at stuff like this for school.

4.  Jacob wants to take the boat out to the lake on Saturday, I sure hope the weather behaves.

5.  Tonight we picked some of the artichokes right out of our garden and had them with dinner.  They were very good.

6. Tonight was the season finale for Chicago Fire, I can't wait to watch it, but I am so sad it is over for now.

7.  We tried a new recipe I found online this week for dinner and it was really good.  It was Parmesan Chicken Bake (different from Parmesan chicken).

8.  I need to get on planning Caleb's birthday party ASAP.  I am way behind on this :(

9.  Picked up my stack of coupons from a friend today.  I am so glad to be back into couponing.  Now to just get them cut.

10.  We are thinking of some ideas already for the kids for Christmas. We also said if we start buying the older nieces and nephews their one gift now, by Christmas they will all be done.  Now if we can stick to this plan we will be way ahead of the game and that would be great.  

~NICOLE

BACK TO SCHOOL LAYOUT



Today I am over on the LAYOUT A WEEK blog sharing this Back to School Layout.  Come on over and check out all the details.  

~NICOLE

Monday, May 11, 2015

THINKING OF YOU CARD


The other day I was over on the CLEAR SCRAPS BLOG sharing this card I made using one of the mirrored butterflies from this months kit.  
You can find the kit information HERE.  

I really love this butterfly.  :)


~NICOLE

Sunday, May 10, 2015

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY 2015


When I was younger all I wanted was to be a mom.  I would play house with all my dolls and I would imagine what it would be like to be a real mommy.  Never did I know then what it would really be like.  

Being a mom is nothing like I imagined it would be like.  It is both harder than I ever imagined and more rewarding than I ever imagined.  Once you become a mom life is never again the same.  But not for one minute in this world would I ever change it for one second.  I love my kids more than I ever could have imagined before I had them.  The love I feel for them is like no other.  

I love being their mom so much, it brings me so much joy.  Watching them learn and grow and knowing they are a part of you, there is no words that can really explain.  

I love watching them grow into the young kids they are turning into, not babies anymore.  I often wonder what they will be when they grow up, what they will be like, what their jobs will be, how many children they will have.  

I want so many amazing things for my kids and I only hope that I am the best mom I can be for them.  I try my best, but lord knows it isn't always easy and I worry I am making bad choices for them, or will teach them wrong, or not guide them enough.  I only can pray that I with doing my very best they will turn out to be the best version of themselves.  




I promise Jacob, Caleb and Chloe to always be there for you and even in the rough situations.  I promise to always listen to you and be on your side. I promise to teach you wrong from right and teach you that hard work pays off in the end, and you won't get things handed to you sitting around and not working for what you want.  I promise to love you with every ounce of my being for the rest of my life and beyond.  I promise to support you in whatever adventures you take on as you grow older.  I promise to do my very best at being your mom.  I love you all with everything I have and I always will.  
Love, MOM









I hope all you MOMS out there have an amazing day.! 



~NICOLE

Friday, May 8, 2015

CATERPILLARS TO BUTTERFLIES- THE CYCLE OF LIFE


A few weeks ago the kids were playing out in the front yard and came running in because they found a caterpillar.  They were so excited I had to see.  Once I was out there we found another, and another...and another. We found about 12 plus caterpillars.  We put them in an old plastic coffee container.  I poked a bunch of holes in the lid and we put sticks and leaves in there too.  


I wasn't exactly sure what we were going to do with all these caterpillars really, it was just crazy how many of them we found all over our front yard.  

I was curious what kind of caterpillars these were because I have never seen black ones, only green.  So I googled it and turns out they are Mourning Cloak Caterpillars . It showed what pretty butterflies they would eventually become, with pretty blue spots.  

Well before we knew it within a few days they caterpillars had all made cocoons on the lid of the container. 


( Sorry for the bad quality of the first two photos, they were taken with my iphone )

I thought it would take a long time for them to turn into butterflies, so we just kept them in there to see what would happen.
When we had caught the caterpillars, we missed a few and they made a cocoon on the roof of the front porch.  So just the other day we noticed in the garage there was a butterfly on Chloe's bike. I thought it looked exactly like the photo of what the caterpillars would turn into.  So I grabbed the bucket and saw through the holes that there were butterflies inside.  Since it was time to pick up the boys from school, I got them and we hurried home.

We opened the container lid and out flew out so many beautiful butterflies.  I was able to snap a few photos before this one flew off.  They are so pretty.  


It was so exciting that we were able to see the entire cycle of life for these butterflies.  We caught them as caterpillars, they made their cocoons, and then they came out as these beautiful butterflies.  How often can you really do this.  I think it is something the kids will always remember, I know I will at least.  It was like our own science experiment right at home.  

Have you ever caught a caterpillar and kept it until it turned into a butterfly?  

~NICOLE

Thursday, May 7, 2015

SPREAD YOUR WINGS AND FLY LAYOUT

Yesterday I was over on the CLEAR SCRAPS BLOG sharing this layout I created using their monthly kit.  I LOVED this kit so much.  I love butterflies and as soon as I saw all these papers and mirrored butterflies in the kit, I knew this was the perfect photo for a layout.  Come check it out HERE and see how I created the layout.  





~NICOLE

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

TEN ON TUESDAY

TEN ON TUESDAY

1.  Much has happened between last Tuesday and today.  On Thursday morning we were informed that Jacob's uncle passed away.  He has been suffering from bad health and failing kidneys for many years now. He has been on dialysis for the last nine years.  But that doesn't make it any easier when you loose someone you love.  Just a month ago Jacob's grandma on the same side and now his uncle. So sad.  Last night his wife had a celebration of his life gathering at her house.  It was his birthday, so she even had a cake for him.

2.  Shortly after we left his aunt's house, Jacob's mom texted him and told him that her dad had died just a few minutes earlier. So sad.  She lost her husband, and on his birthday during his memorial her father dies.  My heart goes out to her and she is in my prayers.  I would love for you all to keep her in your prayers too.

3.  Caleb fell off his bike on Friday and really scratched his face up horribly.  I was in our bathroom and all the kids came in and Chloe says, "Mom I think he broke his nose there is so much blood".  He didn't break his nose, it was just bleeding.  He is tough though and was back on the bike that same evening riding all over the front yard again.

4.  The weather is being crazy this week for sure.  Hot, cold, hot, windy, chance of rain. I give up.

5.  I cut my finger making dinner tonight, like I always do with that knife.

6. I started walking this morning.  Chloe went with me and we walked about a mile around a few blocks.  She did great, but towards the end wanted me to carry her.  I didn't carry her, she walked and it felt good to actually get out and walk.

7.  I love that we have been doing big grocery shopping each payday now, instead of having to go every few days, or everyday.  It is so nice to figure out dinner from the freezer.

8.  Chloe says she is ready for her training wheels off. NO!  How is she becoming so independent all of the sudden I swear.  So daddy raised them to help her learn a little balance before they come off completely.

9.  I am starting to coupon again and I sure have missed it.  I haven't missed the cutting part, but the saving money part I have.

10.  I got 2 customized wine glass orders in the last 2 days, so I had to go to the store and buy 20 wine glasses today. Love my growing business.

~NICOLE


Monday, May 4, 2015

CLEAR GIFT TAGS for the CLEAR SCRAPS DESIGN TEAM

Yesterday I was over on the CLEAR SCRAPS BLOG sharing these quick and easy clear gift tags.  Come on over HERE  and check out the details and how to make your own.  



~NICOLE