Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Olive Garden and Soup Recipe

It is no secret that I love Olive Garden, and that Brian and I miss being in close proximity to this restaurant.  Currently, its a good 50 minutes away.  Earlier this winter I went searching for a particular recipe that Brian and I enjoy.  And wouldn't you know, our boys loved it too.  Although it can entirely depend on the day, they usually eat what i make them, especially if they get to help.   I added a touch extra pasta, and it was perfect for their tastes as well.  Pictures below of the progress: 

We have the opportunity here to purchase locally grown beef, and when processed at the local meat locker, they stamp the name on the package in order to identify it.  When ordering the butchering last year I failed to mention my husband's name, so when I picked up our order I was shocked.  I don't know why, but it just looked funny, like a brand on a cow.  My first and last name - on well over a hundred individually packaged beef items, in my deep freeze.  This year I did it on purpose. 

I think next time I could tease Brian and have them put, "Reverend Ochsner."  Except I'd have to read it every time I looked in the deep freeze, so may be not.

Copycat recipe below:


  1. Brown beef in a skillet.
  2. Drain fat from beef and add to crock pot with everything except pasta.
  3. Cook on low 7-8 hours or high 4-5 hours.
  4. During last 30 min on high or 1 hour on low, add pasta.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Elmo's Photography & Christmas in Iowa and Michigan

On a very cold, eleven degree Iowa morning, Elmo agreed to take our family picture.  Basically I set up my tripod, set my camera settings appropriately for him, put the camera on a timer, and taped elmo to the camera.  He took the following pictures.  He did a great job making our kids smile!

Thank you to a good friend who let me borrow the running sleds.  This pasture is between Sully and Peoria, and usually how beautiful brown Jersey cows in the summer.  We always enjoy the old Oak tress and picturesque Iowa landscape.

This Christmas season has been a lot of fun with our children, now that both Ezra and Elliot can understand the Christmas story so much more. I didn't know how wonderful it is to watch your own children enjoy and comprehend baby Jesus and the mysterious way that God came to be with us. I still haven't figured out how to explain the Christmas tree as part of that story. I need a helpful suggestion there.

We have been reading from the Jesus Storybook Bible by Zonderkidz, and then having the two older boys set up the nativity as we read the story, finding the appropriate characters as they enter the scene. I have yet to find a more beautifully written story for children than the one by Sally Lloyd Jones.

Another book we've been enjoying, is the Twelve days of Christmas in Iowa.

They even have the Twleve Days of Christmas in Michigan!

The Iowa version celebrates, among other things.... Four big baloons (Indianola) Three train cars (Boone train) Two hefty hogs (Iowa State Fair) and a Gold Finch in an Oak Tree (State bird and tree).  WE LOVE IT!  I would LOVE to have the Michigan one for our family too.  I appreciate how there is a "smaller kids" reading, and then a "bigger kids" side of the page for the historical information about each item.  And, since it is written from one cousin to another, the kids love it even more, since they think cousins are the best thing ever.

We purchased ours at Costco in DesMoines, but it looks like they are on Amazon too.