Thursday, December 31, 2015

Italian minestrone soup {packed with vegetables}

On these long cold winter days I cant help but crave a big pot of hot soup and fresh loaf of bread from the oven.
After surviving the last few months of morning sickness and refusing all food but cereal, I am now (at 19 weeks) just coming back around to the idea of cooking meals for myself and family. I was really craving a bowl of minestrone soup from Olive Garden, but since it's a bit of a drive I decided to stay cozy at home and make my own.
This soup is really easy to make, it can be done quickly in a pot on the stovetop or over several hours slowly in the crockpot.
I really enjoyed making it because it took very little effort to toss everything into the pot and go. That gave me an extra minute to make delicious batch of my favorite french bread in a flash.
 Italian Minestrone Soup  
Recipe source: Emmy in her Element    
Inspired by food network
4 cups beef stock
2 cups water
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
2 cans 14.5 oz petite diced tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups spinach torn
1 cup zucchini in bite sized pieces
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced sweet onion
1 1/3 cups mini shell pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded parmesan or Romano cheese to garnish.
For crockpot:
Add beef stock, water, tomatoes, herbs, sugar, garlic, carrots, onion and celery to a crockpot on high heat for about 3 hours or low heat for 5-6 hours. Add beans, spinach, pasta shells and zucchini in last 30-40 minutes to soften. Remove bay leaves before serving. Serve warm and garnish with cheese.
For Stovetop:
Sauté carrots, onion and celery in butter or olive oil until onion is tender. Add stock, water, tomatoes, herbs, sugar, garlic and salt and pepper. About 20 minutes before serving, add beans, spinach, pasta shells and zucchini on medium heat just until zucchini is cooked through and spinach is wilted. Then let set on low heat until served. Remove bay leaves before serving. Garnish with cheese.

Add meat:  I think this soup would be amazing with Italian sausage. Just pan cook sausage until cooked through and add to pot of soup.
Vegetarian: If you would like this soup to be completely vegetarian, exchange vegetable stock straight across for the beef stock.
Gluten Free: Simply exchange pasta shells for gluten free pasta.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Announcement for the Barlow Family

Hello there,
I've been a little MIA lately... but I think I have a pretty good excuse! We have an announcement and a fun surprise coming our way...
Check out the details here on this wonderful video my sweet friend Bobbi Jo Thompson helped us make. If you are local, you will want to check out her amazing work.
Click here for Barlow Family announcement video
Photo Credit Molly Landon Photography
Video: Bobbi Jo Thompson with My Journey Photo
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Friday, August 7, 2015

Stay little

I love you in the morning
I love you in the night
I love you when we laugh and play
and when we have a fight
I love you when you're holding worms or tracking dirt inside
I love you when you scrape your knee
and run to me to cry
I love you when you have a cough
or need your milk warmed up
I love you during story time
and when you spill your cup
I love you when you say my name one-hundred times a day
I love it so because I know
 that soon
 these things will go away
Lately I have been trying really hard to be more patient during the times I am surrounded by messes (which is all of the time!) and when I start to feel like I am not everything I should be as a mother. I have no idea how mothers out there accomplish anything with more than two children! I am so busy as it is, I have mad respect for you.
When I think about these busy times being temporary, it makes me really appreciate the simple joys of motherhood, the funny moments, the tender things that they do. When you celebrate small victories and open your eyes to joy and goodness, it will be easy to find.
As Dr Seuss says... "There are so many things you can learn about. But... you'll miss the BEST THINGS if you keep your eyes shut"
Best to look out for the goods stuff!

Monday, August 3, 2015

HAPPY LIFE- Free printable

Isn't this quote such a wonderful reminder of choosing the glass half full?
You make the choice to be happy or unhappy.
We all have to learn patience, perseverance, lessons in trials and consequences for choosing wrong.
We can live our life waiting for things to turn out great for us, or we can open our eyes and see the simple joys that make for such a happy life.
There is good all around. Simple blessings can be so easily overlooked and taken for granted.
What kind of life are you making for yourself?
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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

This morning my Mom called and wanted to take the babies for the afternoon.
I snatched my Man and we went for an adventure.
We ran off to the forest to explore and enjoy the wonder of God's creations.
A simple day, but beauty filled. I just love being out in nature, it is soul food for me!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Oh Darling, lets be adventurers

I love adventuring with my family. While my husband was in school, we would find fun and inexpensive activities to take our children to do so that we didn't suffer from the "we're on a student budget and can't go anywhere" blues. I am so thankful for those times... because of them, little things are big things to us and our kids. They get so excited when we load up in the car and take them to explore in nature, on a hike or to a new place.
This weekend we were able to explore a new and stunning place we have never been.
Bloomington Lake!  I could hardly take in the beauty!
If you are looking for a fun and family friendly adventure with your crew, I highly recommend visiting here. Bring life jackets and swing off the rope swing into the lake, or pack a picnic and enjoy the scenery from the edges of the lake.
 It is heavenly.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Homemade Avocado Ranch

You guys, I am such a ranch snob. Always judging restaurant ranch, in search of one that makes me squeal inside. The other night after we got home late, I dug around in the fridge searching for something to put together for a quick dinner.
I found some items for salad, romaine lettuce, avocados, tomatoes, smoked turkey and olives.
I made an easy chef salad with some shredded cheese on top and the only thing needed after that was some dressing.
I love getting creative, so I whipped up this little recipe for homemade avocado ranch. It is really simple and really delicious! I wanted to share it with you.

Homemade Avocado Ranch
Recipe source: Emmy in her Element
1/2 avocado mashed
pinch of chopped parsley
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon hidden valley ranch powder
3/4 teaspoon rice vinegar
Blend milk and sour cream. Add remaining ingredients and mix well until smooth and creamy. Enjoy with veggies, on salad or as a dip.
Ps. I can't help but feel like this ranch would be excellent with crumbled bacon on top. Ooh eeee! Listen to me now!
Need a quick and easy salad to use the ranch dressing on? Check this out...
15 minute southwestern taco salad
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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Color on a rainy day

Today was rainy, and thundery and gray. It was quiet, and for several hours we didn't have power.
For some reason, I love storms. To me, they bring a comfort and a feeling of coziness. I took today's storm as an opportunity to get creative with my little ones. No TV, no electronics whatsoever. We had no choice but to bust out the puzzles, stamps and paints, books and rain boots. We played monster, ran through puddles, worm hunted and re connected. It was a wonderful and colorful day-
because we made it be.



Rainy days are for pjs, big blankets, rubber boots, legos, worm hunts, yesterday's hair, lots and lots of books, paints, crayons and adventures.
Today was sweet, and I learned to let creative happen.
 We depend much too much on unimportant things to entertain us.
Need something to help you feel creative?
Make some moon sand! It's super fast and easy. Just mix 8 cups all purpose flour, and 1 cup baby oil. Mix with hands and play!
I like to put it on a cookie sheet or 9x13 pan and give the kids cookie cutters and cups. Then they make moon sand castles.
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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Happy Birthday AMERICA

Wow this summer is flying by and I have hardly found anytime to make a post! I miss it so much. I have a fun new bread recipe I will be sharing later this week.
I just wanted to check in and post a few pics from our 4th of July.
I hope you had a fun and special day! We took our kids to the parade and then had a BBQ with friends in the evening and watched a big firework show.
I am proud to be an AMERICAN!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

5 minute afternoon s'mores

Can we officially call it summer? It has been raining a lot and I don't know about you, but I have the camping BLUES!
One of my favorite summer night activities has to be sitting around the camp fire with family and friends and enjoying a good old fashioned s'more.
This afternoon I was craving them so bad so I had to whip up a quick batch! Here is my recipe for 5 minute oven s'mores, in case you don't have a blazing fire handy. (Insert wink here).

Thursday, May 28, 2015

LET THEM BE LITTLE: Tricks to taking better pictures of your children

Over the last few years I have been learning more and more about photography. I started really loving photography after food blogging and learning how to stage pretty pictures and work with natural light.
The more I used those tricks on my food, the more they spilled over into my other "everyday life" photography. The pictures of my kids started looking better.
I wanted to share these tricks with you, so that you can better document the life around you that you never want to forget!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Raspberry rhubarb delight

Comfort food at it's finest, with a twist. My original rhubarb crisp recipe is from my Grandma, the flavors are tart with a sweet crispy crunch from the oat and brown sugar topping.
I planned to make this recipe for my brother on his birthday, but when I noticed I was out of a few of the ingredients, I improvised and realized that I loved the result so much I had to document it! 
If you have some guests coming for dinner, this dessert is a sure crowd pleaser.
It was a special compliment to me when my brother walked in and said "Hmmmm it smells so good in here Em, it smells like Grandma's house"...

Friday, May 15, 2015

15 minute Wonton Tacos

Are you ready for the quickest taco dinner you have ever made?
These are so easy and such a fun twist on regular hard shell tacos.
In just 15 minutes your kitchen will be filled with the scents of cilantro and lime, and your table set up for a colorful family fiesta!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Rosemary and Lemon cream scones

These scones are delightful! After making two batches this week and sharing with friends, I knew I wanted to document this gem of a recipe and share with you!
Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spinach and asparagus pasta with white wine cream sauce

This is a quick dish with a classy taste. You will have dinner whipped up in less than 20 minutes and there's a little something for everyone.

Friday, April 3, 2015

No bake carrot pudding pots

These little nuggets of fun are perfect for a quick treat or spring dessert. Kids can help make them and they are sure to be a hit!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Crafting with kids: easy Easter egg paper art

Welcome to day 3 of my Crafting with kids week, gearing up for Easter this Sunday.
Did you see our paper daffodil flowers or butterfly snack baggies?
My little man has come down with a cold, so we have been spending our mornings around the kitchen table with construction paper, glue sticks, paints, and anything we can find to help us create.
It has been so much fun and it has definitely boosted his spirits.
Today we made some Easter art for the refrigerator, and a small banner with eggs and bunnies.
There are endless possibilities for this art! We used all paper but using ribbons, yarn, watercolor painted paper or finger painting would be so cute as well. Have fun and let your kiddos use their imagination!
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