Saturday, August 11, 2012

Shutterfly

I don't know how many times I tell my kids to say thank you! Most of the time they're pretty good but not always. Being 5,000 miles away its hard sometimes. My boys aren't big fans of Skype. They talk for 3 or 4 minutes and then they're off. I feel bad for our family because I know they want to see the boys. Right now all they want to do is play! So the one thing I stress over is making sure they write thank you notes. It was never a big deal until we moved here because before we were always face to face. 

For the past 2 years we've always bought thank you cards, filled them out and then mailed them. I found out this Christmas that I could make a card at Shutterfly and they would actually mail the card for me! For someone who hates going to the post office I was more than excited! The cards they have here are outrageously expensive so I was even more surprised to find out its cheaper to have someone else mail them for me. Double excitement on my part!! Now I just go to the website download some cute pictures of the boys, have them tell me what they want to say and a few clicks later a super cute card appears and its ready to be mailed. I LOVE IT! So the next time you need to mail a card of any kind check out Shutterfly!

5x7 Folded Card


Navy Sky Band 5x7 folded card
Shutterfly has modern graduation announcements and photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Two Yummy Dinner Options

I just realized its been a whole month since I've wrote anything. I didn't think we would have a busy summer but I was wrong! We haven't done a whole lot but I've been just busy enough. I wanted to share 2 new recipes I found on Pinterest. They have become our summer favorites. We really like winter foods so I always have trouble when it comes to warmer months and dinner plans. I think we should live somewhere cold year around that way we can always have soup for dinner!

The first recipe we tried last night for the first time. I wanted to make sure I had the recipe right so I asked my husband (who was sitting at the computer) to pull up the website. As soon as he clicked on the page I could tell that he wasn't excited about the picture! He's picky eater, along with our kids! The recipe is so easy and besides cutting up the potatoes it was quick to make. To Kelly's surprise the dish was excellent! While we were eating he told me how worried he was while watching me make dinner but he said it tasted great! So this dish got two thumbs up from all my guys!

Chicken and Veggies

4 - 6 chicken breast
New Potatoes (I used Red Potatoes because that's all I had)
2 cans of green beans (you can use frozen green beans or broccoli, any veggies would work)
1 packet of Italian Dressing Mix
1 Stick of Melted Butter

Arrange the chicken in the bottom of a 9x13 dish. The picture shows the chicken in the middle but I put it on the bottom of the pan and then covered it with the veggies. One side potatoes and the other side green beans. Then sprinkle the Italian Dressing mix over the dish and the melted butter. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.




The next recipe is like a mini Thanksgiving dinner! I was really excited to try this recipe. We've had it several times and it's great every time!

Chicken Foil Packs

1 Package Stuffing mix; chicken flavor
1 1/4 cup Water
4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
4 Cups Broccoli Florets
1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
4 Slices Cooked Bacon; crumbled
4 tbsp Ranch Dressing divided

Set your oven at 400 degrees. Spray 4 large sheets of heavy duty foil with Pam. I usually double up the foil just in case! Combine stuffing mix and water. Spoon 1/4 stuffing mixture onto the center of each foil sheet. Top stuffing with chicken breast. Top chicken with 1 cup broccoli. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the cheese and 1 slice of crumbled bacon. Drizzle with 1 tbsp Ranch Dressing. Bring up foil sides and fold to seal, leaving room for the heat to circulate. Place packets on a cookie sheet and back 25 - 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. It should slide right onto your plate!

Chicken Foil Packs Here is the website with pictures. Thanks Best Life 4 Moms for creating this yummy recipe!


I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do!




Monday, June 25, 2012

Pin It

I absolutely love Pinterest! If you haven't started using this website yet you are missing out! I have found everything from getting wax out of a candle so you can reuse the jar to dinner and dessert. Every dinner this week on my weekly planner is from this lovely little website! The idea is to put things on your Pinterest page that you like. Then other people follow you because they like similar things. So its just a whole bunch of different pins from a whole bunch of different people. Some of the people I follow I don't even know. It just goes to show that even if we don't live in the same city or the same country we are all very much alike. So go on over to Pinterest and start pinning!!

Follow me if you'd like! It just takes one click!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Open Sesame or not

I love how a bad day can turn out to be a good day. This morning we were running a little late like always! I try to leave the house 5 minutes early that way we have plenty of time because we usually leave the house at exactly the right time. So I tell myself, we have to leave by 7:15 to get to the bus on time. When actually we need to leave by 7:20. This morning it was raining and I don't just mean sprinkling. The boys and I get in the car and I open the gate to leave our driveway. When I start to pull forward I realize that the gate didn't open. I say to myself, really?! (For those of you that don't know me well, its my favorite word!) So I open it again, only this time it wouldn't open. Darn gate! In Italy everyone has a gate that either leads to their house or their parking lot/drive way. We have a big parking area in the front and a smaller one in the back. We usually park up front because we have a huge American car. Sometimes the gate doesn't work. Its like everything else, it has its days! Back to the story, I try several times to open the gate and nothing happens. At this point I realize its going to be a bad day and the boys aren't going to make it to the bus. So I wake up Kelly. (He has training all week so I was letting him sleep) He rides his bike to the station so I knew I would have to drive him to work anyway. Back to our gate. Since it won't open we have to use the key. That means getting out of our dry car and standing in the rain. Not fun at all! The only problem is we can't find the key to open the box. Of course, right! After searching the house for the key, we are finally ready to leave. By the time we get outside its raining much harder than before. So Kelly and I are not in the best of moods. Soaking wet at 7:45 in the morning is just awful! We'll just say that no one said a word all the way to school. Once we get close we realize that God must have stopped time for us because its only 8:00. It usually takes about 10 minutes to get to base but between 7:30 and 9:00 it usually takes 20 minutes or more. That's why the boys ride the bus! The mood in the car starts to lighten. While we're sitting at the round-about waiting on our turn. Kelly says look, "There's a rainbow over Monte Berico." (Monte Berico is a church on top of a hill in Vicenza. When its not foggy/smoggy you can see it from almost everywhere) It was a huge rainbow! The colors weren't super bright but it was beautiful! That rainbow was just for us! We got the boys to school before the second bell rang at 8:10. Kelly and I did our usual and went for coffee. It's my favorite thing that we do. We don't really have a babysitter here so that is our date time. As we're having coffee the crazy morning slowly leaves our mind. It doesn't matter now. When I look back on Monte Berico as I'm driving home I remember that God didn't promise us perfect days, but He did promise that he'd always be there through rain and shine! I'll say it again, I love when a bad day turns out to be a good one!



Monte Berico - standing right beside it. This one of my favorite pictures!


Another picture of Monte Berico. This time you can see the bell tower. It is such a beautiful church. Its something I looking forward to seeing (almost) every day. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More Milk Please

One of my favorite things about Italy is the milk. We buy our milk from a vending machine at a local dairy. They have whole milk, 2% milk, milk for people that are lactose intolerant, cheese, yogurt, butter, eggs and a few other things. The butter is fantastic too! It is so fresh. It doesn't even taste like butter from the store. The yogurt is also great. I haven't tried anything from the dairy that wasn't delicious.


This is the butter and cheese side. 


Want some milk? The yummy yogurt is at the bottom. 

I will miss this vending machine more than any other 'store' in Italy. Its so nice to have milk and eggs so close. Milk is the one thing that we run out of the most. I wish they had these in the states. If I was a farmer I'd open my own vending machine, but I don't see that in my future at all. 

Plus 2

We just found out this past week that our extension for another 2 years was approved. We are so excited! We would keep adding another 2 years for the rest of our lives, if they'd let us. We absolutely love it here. Of course we miss our family and friends in the states but we love the pace of Italy. This did take some getting use to but now we don't mind. No one is in a hurry here, everything can wait until tomorrow and nothing is more important than family. Kelly was talking to a guy at work and was telling him how excited we are to be staying another 2 years. The guy asked why. Believe it or not, some people don't like it here. Kelly said because he always feels like he's on vacation. Just because of the slow pace. When he was telling me about this later our son, Logan, said, "Really? I don't feel like I'm on vacation because I don't go to school on vacation." Kelly told him that he still felt like he was on vacation and he had to go to work sometimes too.

A little back story on Logan. He doesn't love school. He puts up with it because we make him but if he could choose he wouldn't choose school. I love how kids think! To Logan and Hadyn it doesn't matter that we live in Italy. They still go to school just like they would in the states, they still do homework and they still have bedtime. They do enjoy the traveling though. Their favorite place is Garmisch, Germany. A little piece of us will always be there. I love when they realize things are different than when we lived in Texas, like the mountains. Where we live now we have mountains right behind our house. It is something that we'll never get use to. We are blown away every time they show up. The mountains around Vicenza kind of make a bowl. So the smog doesn't have anywhere to go. So most of the time we don't get to see the mountains, but after a good rain... the site is magnificent! 


This was taken yesterday. It rained on and off all morning. 


This was taken about a year ago. This shows how the mountains just disappear. 
They're peeking through a little though.

This is my favorite time to see the mountains. When there's snow on top!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Smoothie Recipes

I love smoothies! It helps me get my fruit for the day. I found these recipes in Redbook magazine a few months ago and they have become my favorite. A lot of the smoothie recipes I have call for 8 ounces of milk. I love these two recipes because they are mostly fruit. Thanks Redbook and Hungry Girl!!


Kiwi Strawberry Smoothie


4 oz fat-free strawberry yogurt   (I use the whole 6oz yogurt)
1 cup frozen strawberries (partially thawed)
1 peeled kiwi
1 cup crushed ice (5 to 8 ice cubes)


In a blender, combine yogurt, strawberries, kiwi and crushed ice. Blend on high until smooth. 




Tropical Punch Smoothie


6 oz fat-free peach yogurt
1/4 cup crushed pineapple in juice
1/2 frozen banana (sliced)
1/2 tsp lime juice
1 cup crushed ice (5 to 8 ice cubes)


In a blender, combine yogurt, pineapple, banana, lime juice and crushed ice. Blend on high until smooth. 




Enjoy! :o)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

J.A.C.

One of the things that I will never get use to seeing is castles. They are everywhere. We have 3 (that I know of) within 25 minutes of our house. They aren't all huge, but a castle is a castle, right?! We had never seen a castle until we moved to Italy. They're all different and all beautiful. I'm not sure I could have survived back then, but when you stand inside the castle walls you can't help but imagine yourself in that time. When Kelly's parents come to visit and we tell his Dad we're visiting a castle he always says, "We're going on a J.A.C tour today." He had to explain it to me the first time. He said, "You know just another castle." It still makes me laugh when I think about it and I know that he will say it every time. We don't take anything for granted. We absolutely love seeing the castles and it will never get old. 

Sirmione, Italy - This was our very first castle and it will probably always be our favorite. This is one of the cutest towns in Italy. It is on Lake Garda, Italy's largest lake. You have to walk through the castle to get to the town. So cool!


Marostica, Italy - This castle is about 15 minutes from our house. It is absolutely beautiful. The castle walls go all the way up the side of the mountain. In the city square there is a chess board and every two years they have a chess game with living pieces. They have horses and everyone wears costumes. How awesome is that! We plan on going in September so stay tuned!


Still in Marostica - This is the view from on top of the mountain. You can see a little bit of the chess board in this picture.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tomato Soup Recipe

I'm craving Tomato Soup! Too bad I don't have crushed tomatoes. Here's my tomato soup story! I am super picky and I've never liked tomato soup. My friend invited us over about a year ago for lunch. She said we were having tomato soup and grilled cheese. I think to myself... at least I won't starve! I just figured I'd suffer through the tomato soup and leave the bowl half full. We get to her house and the whole house smells wonderful! Can you believe I remember all this?! This is why I'm writing about it because it left a lasting impression! Ha! I LOVE TOMATO SOUP! On with the story. We get our bowls, fill them with the red stuff and sit down. My husband and I tried the soup before anything else because we just knew we wouldn't like it. To our surprise it was some of the best soup we'd ever had. Kelly doesn't eat tomatoes, but both of our bowls were empty before we finished our grilled cheese. I have made this soup several times over the past year and it is delicious every time.


This isn't the best picture but you get the idea!




Here's what you need:


1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (11.5 ounce) can tomato-vegetable juice cocktail
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
20 fresh basil leave, cut into thin strips - dried basil works too
1 cup heavy cream - I've also used whole milk
1/4 cup butter or margarine


Directions:


In a large saucepan, combine the tomatoes, vegetable juice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the basil. At this point, you may puree the soup if you wish. Add the cream and butter; return to medium-low heat and stir until butter is melted. Serve immediately. 




Its called Rachel's Tomato Basil Soup. Too bad there isn't an extra 'a' in the name! 

Rachel's Tomato Basil Soup from allrecipes.com 

Our First Italian Experience



Our first Italian city to visit was Vicenza. Its only a few minutes from where we live and work. It's such a cute little city. I absolutely love this park. It is still one of my favorites. Right outside the gates is a busy street and its very loud, but once you're inside the park its nothing but peace and quite. 


This is right in the middle of downtown. Vicenza has a huge market on Thursdays. Of course we would choose market day to visit, but it was so neat seeing a market like that. Being from Texas we'd never seen anything like it. They have everything from pots and pans to underwear. Yes, the Italians buy their undies at the market!


Kelly and I had to try the gelato. It is delicious! I had chocolate and he had coffee. When visiting any Italian town gelato is a must! Before breakfast, after breakfast, as a snack... its good any time! 

A Little More About Me

For starters, my husband and I have been married for 11 years. We met at Dairy Queen in a small town in Texas. Classy I know! We have two boys ages 9 & 10. We weren't blessed with a daughter so we bought a dog! She's the cutest yorkie we know! Three years ago my husband, Kelly, applied for a job in Italy. It was a dream job that we never thought we'd get. We fantasied about moving to Italy but we knew it would never happen. After talking about it we decided if Kelly was offered the job we'd pack our stuff and move. No questions asked! Three months later Kelly called and said sell the house, we're moving to Italy. I thought he was joking! It must have been in God's plan because we sold the house in just a few weeks, the truck was gone in less than 2 and we sold almost everything we owned. It has been a dream since we got here. We still can't believe that we're actually living in Italy. I'm excited to share our experiences and some recipes I've picked up along the way.