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Happy October

So, I gotta keep it real with y’all. October, November and December are my three favorite months of the year. Apple picking, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas…. I absolutely love them all. And I think it’s mostly because of the abundance of family activities, crafts and fun foods I get to make. I could probably due without the impending snow but hey, it comes with the territory right?

Before I fast forward to the days where I’ll have to stop Olivia from eating the white stuff that has been peed on by one of the neighborhood dogs or when Caiden tries to sword fight with icicles I’ll celebrate the present, the  magnificent Autumn days.

I had been promising the kiddos since the middle of September that we would make our cider “soon”, but as a parent “soon”  really means “I hope they eventually forget because I already have 99 million things to do.”

Honestly though, I was looking forward to making the first batch of cider. It makes my house smell soooo good and we make apple sauce with the remaining apples in the crock pot. I’m really excited to share this recipe with y’all because it’s apple season and who doesn’t enjoy a warm glass of cider. I think you’ll actually be surprised how easy it is. It just takes a long time, well worth the wait though. My recommendation is to use a variety of apples, some sweet, some tart. I usually use a mix of Honeycrisp and Granny Smith AND surprise surprise, you’ll also be adding an orange to the mix!

HOMEMADE APPLE CIDER

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 medium sized apples cut in eighths
  • 1 orange, peeled and segmented
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 tsp ground cloves
  • Honey… adjust to taste. I personally don’t like a lot of honey, and only use a couple tbs but if you like your cider sweeter you can up to a half a cup

DIRECTIONS

Put all ingredients into your crockpot and add enough water to cover the fruit.
Cook on low for 7 hours (Or high for 3). I prefer to cook mine on the lower setting for longer. Don’t expect some scientific explanation as to why because all I can say is “because.” I think I learned that from my 4 year old.

At this point the fruit will be super soft. Grab your masher (or giant spoon if you don’t own a masher) and mash the fruit. This is the part that really releases the flavor and also the part where we get really excited because it’s almost done.

Let cider cook on low for 1 more hour

Now it’s time to strain! SLOWLY strain the cider through a fine mesh sieve, using a spoon to press down and squeeze out all the liquid into whatever you’ll be storing your cider in.

Serve warm or refrigerate for up to 1 week. Yea right…. like anything in my house lasts more than one week.

We like to use the remaining solid apples to make apple sauce. Just remove the peels and mash a little more.

My oldest daughter suggested that we make something Halloween related every day of October which I thought was a dope idea. It may not necessarily be edible but I’ll be posting pics every day on my Instagram. Last night we made apple cider floats (just put one scoop of the ice cream of your choice into a mug and add cider) and these cute little ghost brownies which were so simple to make, mainly because I took a shortcut (ugh I cringe thinking about all the added crap in em) and used already prepared brownies. I got the idea from Betty Crocker

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It’s Fall Y’all


Fall is finally here. I know, I know… I haven’t posted since spring but being the ringmaster of this circus I call home has been complete chaos. We’re about 3 weeks into our school year and kids are well into their activities. YaYa (my 12 year old) is actually playing in the band this year (the flute) at the middle school near us. I think it’s pretty dope how they’re letting home schooled kids participate in extra curricular activities.
In other news, my baby sister got married a couple weekends ago so the family and I got to take a road trip to Georgia for that, spent some quality time with my siblings, had our typical dysfunctional family moments and witnessed the beautiful union of my sissy and new brother in law.

Now that we’re back to “real life”…. school, home… kids trying to murder each other ever 9 minutes, I figured I’d start blogging again and admit it, y’all missed me…or whatever. I am super geeked that it is fall. This is definitely my favorite season… Cooler weather, hoodies, bonfires, pumpkin flavored EVERYTHING and of course those fall dishes that just warm you right up. And y’all know I love to cook! 

To start the season off right I had to make my  vegetarian chili. It’s a family fave, just the right amount of spicy and just feels so good. AND, something else dope…I served the chili in little pumpkins, saving the seeds to roast tomorrow. Don’t worry, I’ll post a recipe for that as well. But for now, here’s the vegetarian chili recipe. Hope y’all enjoy, let me know how yours turns out if you make it and/or any adjustments you have made, but not too many adjustments… Don’t be messin up my chili y’all. Oh and don’t forget, most recipes I post are for my family size so half it if you need to.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 2 cups diced red bell pepper
  • 3 cups diced onion
  • 4 tbs minced fresh garlic
  • 5 Serrano peppers (remove seeds or keep them in if you can handle the heat)
  • 2 large zucchini, diced
  • 3 cups diced portobello mushrooms
  • 2 tbs ground cumin
  • 4 tbs chili powder
  • 4 tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 8 large tomatoes, diced
  • 3 cups black beans, drained and rinsed if you’re using canned
  • 2 (15 oz) cans of tomato sauce
  • 2 cups vegetable broth

DIRECTIONS

In a large pot heat oil. Add onions, peppers and garlic. Stir while cooking for about 5 minutes (yell upstairs for kids to stop running in the house)

Add mushrooms and zucchini and cook for an additional 10 minutes

Add cumin, chili powder, salt and cayenne and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute ( equivalent to the amount of time it will take kids to destroy everything you cleaned)

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans and vegetable stock. Stir well and bring to a boil (Yell again for kids to stop running in the house)

Reduce heat, and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. I also use this to time to occasionally check on kids to make sure they’re all still accounted for, in one piece and breathing. I think they all were.

Remove from heat and add any garnishments you like. We use cilantro, green onions, avocados and plain Greek yogurt.

Retrieve any kids that are in time out and serve over rice!

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Spring is here, kinda….

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Yea so technically it’s Spring here but the snow that we’ve been getting for the past week says otherwise. But, that’s Indiana for ya right?  I feel bad for all of the kids though because last week was Spring Break and we couldn’t really enjoy the outdoors like we normally do. But, we made the most of it. We spent Sunday at the Fairgrounds (pictured above) which ended up being pretty fun.  The kids got to see all types of animals and learn a lot about the foods we eat. We took a tour of The Chocolate Factory on Friday which was insanely chaotic.  I had two of the kids I babysit with me, no stroller because apparently mine was broken (found that out when we got to the Chocolate Factory) but it was still a good time. 

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Kira met her teeball coach last week AND daddy signed up to be assistant coach so she’s pretty excited about that.  She didn’t get to have her first practice though because of…..snow! All three of the older girls are practicing for the spring recital in gymnastics.  I didn’t sign Olivia up to participate because her attitude is way too iffy for me to be spending 50 bucks on…. Just keeping it real.  Some days she goes to class and she’s amazing.  Other days she has a complete meltdown if she can’t do something perfectly.  So, yea…. we’ll stick to regular classes for the moody three year old. 
Really grateful that IPA (Indiana Percussion Association) is over for Trey (my teenager) because I get to see a lot more of him.  I’m kinda freaking out though because his birthday is exactly two months away and I have no clue what to do for this kid. If you’re reading this and you have any ideas for a boy turning 15 please leave it in the comments.
Between him and the “super middles” (Caiden and Kaila) I’m at a loss. The super middles are really hard to find activities for. Caiden decided he didn’t want to do Taekwondo anymore but he wants to play soccer so we’re just waiting for that to start….and Kaila wants to play basketball this year so we’re looking for a league for her. 
I just wish time would slow down.  It seems like just yesterday they were all so little.
Ok, I need to stop before I get emotional.  Just wanted to catch everybody up with where we are in life.  Instagram is the best way to follow the day to day in this crazy zoo.  I’ll try to post more family updates on here as well.  Really looking forward to warmer weather and more adventures for The Krazy Eight!!

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Why Shop Local?

I mean, first off, why not? Your community is where you live, where the people you love live and where your family is building a life. I think supporting our own is one of the most important things we can do in life. We all need each other. Okay, so I get it. You may like to shop at Walmart because you can shop whenever you want and it seems convenient and you like to get good “deals.” But, seriously, let’s think about this. When you shop at chain you are more than likely buying imported products (sometimes from sweatshops) at what may seem like a saving to you but then where does that money go? I’ll tell you where it goes; to the corporate offices, with these big shots that are already rolling in money. You’ll never see the money that you work so hard for in your community again. And those savings? Pay attention to prices over time. Big chains always drive prices up, slowly but surely, as they control more of the market. A few  years ago you may have gotten Walmart bread for 97 cents (they seem to have a thing for this number) but as the competition dies down they will raise the prices! But when you shop local the profits stay local. Your money is going back into your community. You’re helping that single mother down the street put food on her table or you’re helping a neighborhood family keep paying for their kids dance lessons and textbooks. Not to mention, products and services are local and you can walk out of a mom and pop store knowing that you supported your community.

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And let’s just be real. If you’ve been in one Walmart, you’ve been in them all. All of there stores look almost identical. They’ve got these cookie cutter layouts that don’t feel personal at all. There’s nothing unique about them at all. When you drive through town isn’t it refreshing to see new local businesses, individualized with different layouts and decor. Each visit is welcoming. When is the last time you walked into a big chain store and they said ” Hey Laura, how are the kids?” We take a few kids with us every time we go to the Farmer’s Market. A few weeks ago we had our oldest with us and I loved seeing the look on his face when one of the vendors asked “How did you guys like the brussel sprouts last week?” Yeah, you’re not getting that from a big chain store. When you shop local, it’s intimate and makes you feel special.

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So, one of the biggest concerns for most adults is jobs. We need more jobs….There aren’t enough jobs…etc. When you shop local you are helping to create jobs within your community. Did you know that local businesses pay their workers more than big chains do? They also employ more people. And I don’t know about you but I would feel great having my children work for someone where we personally knew the owners.

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I haven’t always shopped local but it’s not hard to see the benefits. Whenever I shop now I just feel so much better about myself, my community and what I’ve bought. I encourage everyone to shop local, buy local and eat local. My goal for 2016 is to commit to this full time.

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And my favorite reason to shop local is the awesome people and products I come across. Today at the Farmer’s Market I met Kim of TapRoot Tees. She hand paints these awesome t-shirts out of her old farm house. I only picked up a couple today but I’m sure I’ll be buying tons more as her designs really speak to the hippie in me. My favorite from today “Free Your Soul, Go Barefoot”

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Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna Rolls

Okay, so this has easily become a new fave in The Krazy Eight household. Cheating once again with the cheese….but who doesn’t like lasagna? And I have to add that this was a pretty affordable meal, even for our large family. I made enough for everybody to have seconds (and bought a pineapple for dessert) for under $20! For my meat loving friends, the mushroom could easily be substituted with shredded chicken. Enjoy….and try to fight the urge to sneak several bites of the mushroom mixture while assembling lasagna rolls.

Lasagna Rolls

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups shredded and sauteed mushroom of your choice ( I used baby bellas)
  • 16 whole grain lasagna noodles
  • 4 cups fresh spinach chopped
  • 2 (14.5 oz) jars of diced tomatoes, drained
  • Ground black pepper
  • Himalayan Pink Salt
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 4 1/2 cups milk ( I used almond but whole milk or whatever you drink will work just fine)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil and spread lasagna noodles in a single layer on sheet.

In a large bowl mix together 2 cups of the spinach, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper and shredded mushrooms. Spread a layer (about 1 -2 tbs) of ricotta cheese along the length of one noodle. Then spoon about 5 tbsp of the mushroom and spinach mixture on top of the ricotta cheese. Roll up noodle and place in a 9 X 9 baking sheet lightly coated with olive oil. Repeat with remaining noodles and mixture.

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 90 seconds. Slowly whisk in 2 1/4 cup milk and bring to a simmer. Cook, whisking until liquid starts to thicken, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the remaining milk 2 1/4 cup milk and cook, whisking, until desired consistency, about 3 -4 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, the remaining 2 cups of spinach  and salt and pepper to taste.

Pour milk mixture over lasagna rolls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until cheese is melted.

 

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Eating Healthy

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So, obviously eating is something we all have to do….and while making sure it tastes good is pretty high up there on the priority list when it comes to meal time I also want to make sure I am encouraging smart eating habits and making sure it’s nutritious.

There was a time when I would just stock up on boxed cereals and pop tarts and let the kids grab whatever they wanted in the morning. There was a time when I would stuff their lunchboxes full of fruit snacks and oreos to go along with their lunchables or hot dogs. That was until we made the choice as a family to eat healthier. Gone are the days of processed foods and it’s my duty to make sure my kids (and husband I suppose) have a hot breakfast and tons of healthy foods to choose from throughout the day. What I’ve come to realize over the years, and also common sense, is that if I don’t buy the junk, it’s not here for them to eat.

Preparing three healthy meals a day can be a challenge, especially for those moms (and dads) that have a job outside of the home but there are a few ways to help ensure you’re on the road to eating right.

  1. Scheduled, regular meals as a family- If possible, everybody eats together…at the table. It can be hard to have dinner at a certain time every night, especially if you have little ones involved in tons of extracurricular activities but it’s really important to have that routine. Post it on the fridge….breakfast at 6:30, lunch at noon, dinner at 5:30 with snacks in between. Plus that eliminates whining children from asking a million times “when is it gonna be time to eat?”
  2. Mom and Dad eat healthy- Let’s be real, no matter how many times you yell “Eat your carrots!”, we know that kids watch what we do more than they listen to what we say. If we are setting a good example as their parents by eating healthy, they will follow suit. Don’t make them eat raw broccoli while you’re eating hot cheetos and donuts……or you can eat it hiding in your closet at one in the morning…..not that I’ve ever done that or anything
  3. Let kids help-  All kids like to help out in the kitchen. What better way to encourage them to eat right than by letting them assist in whipping up a healthy meal. If they’ve helped make the food they will definitely want to eat it.
  4. Variety- There are so many more choices out there beside apples, or celery with peanut butter. Try a variety of different fruits and vegetables. The more you try, the more they are bound to like.
  5. Make mealtime fun- As angry as you might get that your two year old didn’t eat their peas, don’t turn dinner into a battle. Don’t force kids to clean their plate. I know most of us grew up that way, but kids know when they are full and if they don’t like something, forcing them to eat it won’t make them like it any more and you’ve taught them that it’s okay to control them using food.
  6. 6. THE INTERNET- Literally my lifeline. Sometimes I just run out of ideas and so off to Pinterest, or a cooking blog I go. You can put absolutiely anything into Google and get what you’re looking for. My favorite site at the moment is 100 days of Real food. I got all of last weeks lunch ideas from there. But wherever you draw inspiration, good luck and Happy Healthy Eating!!!!

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The New Year.

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Eh, i know i haven’t posted in awhile but the holiday season was rather eventful for us. Christmas was beautiful, although the kids were disappointed in the lack of white stuff on the ground. I on the other hand was not. I hate snow…..and winter…..and Indiana……and, ok that’s a whole different blog post. We stayed up late Christmas Eve watching Christmas movies and then once kids fell asleep, we painted Kéja’s room (it was part of her Christmas present). Christmas morning came and our house was filled with so much joy. The kids made waffles with their new Mickey Mouse waffle iron and Mommy and Daddy went back to bed while little ones played with their new toys. Later in the day, once we were able to pry ourselves from the coziness and warmth of our bed we had Christmas dinner with my side of the family,afterwards going to hubby’s side of the family for more dinner and more presents for the kiddos. My sister in law is always so generous to the kids every year and this year was no different, she gave them a Santa sack full of awesomeness, including a dart board (how cool is that)? Now, i should make mention of the fact that this gift was more so for the oldest kids and I gave them strict orders not to touch it without parental supervision.

Ya know how you watch those shows on television, like Rescue 911 (does that even come on anymore?) and they show all these freak accidents happening and you’re just like “how does that even happen?” And then as a parent you couldn’t even imagine something that awful happening to your kid. I can still hear Kaila’s voice as she ran upstairs to our room screaming “Caiden threw a dart in Kéja’s eye!” What? What dart? From the dartboard that wasn’t supposed to be opened? The dartboard that was on top of the refrigerator? Wait, no….a nine year old boy would NEVER disobey his mother’s orders. And then panic rushed over me. The overreacting maternal side of me expected to go downstairs and the dart would still be stuck in her eye and that blood would be pouring from her eyeball. I cannot express how grateful I am that that wasn’t the case. We ran downstairs and of course she was crying but it didn’t look as bad as I imagined. She said everything was blurry out of that eye and she could only see colors and shapes of objects. I yelled, like REALLY yelled at my son because my emotions got the best of me. I was so angry at him for breaking the rules, and even moreso because it resulted in injury. We took our daughter to the emergency room, and boy, the day after Christmas sure was a popular day to be sick or hurt. It seemed like days waiting for her to be seen. The doctor informed us that it was a corneal abrasion, gave us some ointment for her eye and that was it. Thank God. Seven days and a follow up to the eye doctor and she would be fine, or so we thought. A couple days later something just didn’t seem right. Her eye seemed to be getting worse. It was swollen almost shut and so red and she was complaining of pain and said she couldn’t see anything at all out of that eye now. As parents, of course we took her back to the ER and they explained to us that her eye had become infected and to follow up as planned with the eye doctor the following day, which was a Monday.

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That smile. This girl ALWAYS has a smile on her face. This is her waiting to be seen at the eye doctor. I was so nervous and she was so calm. I was nowhere near prepared for what the opthalmologist said to us. The dart had done far more damage than we were initially told. What she had was a corneal laceration and for the past few days her iris had been leaking out. She then said that Kéja would need to have surgery to stitch up the laceration as soon as possible and how soon could we get down to Riley’s Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. I had to walk out of the office because i didn’t want my daughter to see me cry. I was so heart broken. How could this be happening to her. I got myself together because i knew i had to be strong for her. Everything seemed to blur together after that but in less than 12 hours and after a series of tests we were sitting at Riley’s waiting for her to be sent back to surgery.

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I was a nervous wreck the whole time. I couldn’t believe they were going to put my baby girl to sleep. They were going to operate on her eye. It was taking longer than expected and i was so scared that something went wrong. But praise God, the surgery went well!!

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The stitches won’t dissolve on their own so she will need another surgery to have them removed and she developed a cataract through all of this so she will need a surgery to have that removed as well. She’s been to a couple of follow up appointments since the surgery and the good news is that the stitches are healing nicely and there has been no infection.

However, at the last follow up they said they wanted to schedule another surgery as soon as possible to clean out her lens. Even through ultrasound they are unable to clearly see how much retinal damage has been done. At this point all we can do is pray and be strong for our daughter. The doctors told us that we are in for a very long journey but I’m keeping faith that everything will work out the best that it can. The link below is for anyone that wants to help with expenses. The hospital and doctors are three hours away, our insurance doesn’t cover everything and we have 5 other children that need to be taken care of while we’re away at surgeries.

http://www.gofundme.com/jgvblo?fb_action_ids=800711436656646&fb_action_types=og.shares&fb_ref=fb_d_m_j3&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%5B661487190627423%5D&action_type_map=%5B”og.shares”%5D&action_ref_map=%5B”fb_d_m_j3″%5D