Monday, June 18, 2012

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Homemade Sloppy Joes

I love Sloppy Joes, but Devin and I came to a pass when we got married because he grew up with the McCormick seasoning packet and I grew up with Manwich. For years we've been using the seasoning packet and a can of undrained diced tomatoes with green chilis. It's really yummy that way, but the other day I couldn't for the life of me track down where the seasoning packets were at Price Chopper, and I was tired of relying on a stupid seasoning packet when I had a cupboard full of spices. I found a great recipe on

The original one can be found here, but I tweaked it a little:

1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion (I used red but I can't see that it matters)
1/4 cup green bell pepper (I used yellow because that's all we had)
can petite cut diced tomatoes (drained. You could use less ketchup/tomato sauce below if you leave them undrained)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 cup ketchup (or you could use plain tomato sauce, but you may want to add a little more sugar and I'd start with 3/4 cup instead of a full cup in case it's runnier)
3 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 tsp chili powder (add more if you'd like a little more zip. I did)
1/3 tsp cayenne pepper (if you don't have kids that complain about things being too spicy all the time. I do have kids like that, so no cayenne pepper for us. Wimps.)
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the beef, onion, and green pepper. Drain off liquids. Add tomatoes.

Add everything else and mix thoroughly. Reduce heat and simmer. The recipe says for 30 minutes, but we only let it simmer for 7 minutes and it was perfectly yummy.

I like to serve them over sandwich thins, but it's sloppy joes, not rocket science. You can figure out which kind of bun you all like best. :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Words I thought I'd never say: I love my van

I know everyone who owns a van says that. It's a running joke amongst all young families. Our family had a gray Dodge Caravan circa 1992 that had no ac and pop out windows that pinched your fingers when you popped them closed. We drove all over Europe in that thing. My parents also hated it due to the 5 transmissions that had to be replaced in the car. It was a happy moment in the Teetsel family when we donated it to missions and bought a Ford Taurus (????) instead. We never bought another van and I railed against vans all throughout high school, college, and after college. I'll never forget going to Spring Canyon after I had been out of college for a year and a gal I was working with just got a new Sienna for her family. She was so excited and I just didn't understand what could be so exciting about a minivan......

Fast forward a bunch of years. I really like our Camry, but now that we have all these dang kids, it has become quite the pain in the rear to pack up and go...anywhere. Addison has to get in first to the middle seat, I put Ian's carseat on the ground and go over to Ainsley's side, strap her in, come back around to Addison who is still whining and complaining that she can't get to her buckle, buckle her, stick Ian in, and then go back around to my side of the car. I inevitably leave a door open and have to go back and close it. Yeah. ANYWHERE WE GO!!! Then there's the proximity of the kids in the backseat, but I'm sure you can imagine how annoying that was. With Devin's car on the fritz, we decided to start a "van fund" asap!

I had been scoping out craigslist for several months looking for a Toyota Sienna or a Honda Odyssey that had less than 100k miles and was in our price range (under $10k) and just wasn't finding anything. I live in Johnson County. We like our vans here. So when I was perusing craigslist and found a really well maintained 2004 Odyssey with 79,000 just slightly out of price range I got really excited. Then I talked the owner down to our price range and got really, really excited. Then I remembered that our price range was dependant on Devin selling his car and my excitement dwindled. Then I thought "well maybe we could just borrow some money--it's only $2 or 3k, which is what Devin will get for his car, it'll be ok." Even if Devin didn't sell his car we knew we could pay back the loan in a couple of months.

We were all set to go ahead and borrow the money to get the van, but we just had a bad feeling about it. It wasn't a huge bad feeling--just a small bad feeling deep down inside. I kept trying to drown it out by using logic. The truth is we had been looking a long time and hadn't found anything like this car. I knew a dealer was going to buy the van and sell it for $3,000 more if we didn't buy it. It also wasn't like we had just decided to buy a car out of the blue one day. It was exactly what I had been looking for. The more I thought about the van, the more I knew it just wasn't a good idea to borrow the money. We had just paid off $62,000 in December and we were really looking forward to the feeling of paying cash for a car for the first time ever in our lives. I honestly felt like God was telling me "just wait, just wait. Trust me, I'll provide for you." I just had no peace about going forward with the loan and I am blessed to have a husband who listens to his wife's "gut feelings". He said we could wait.

It sounds so ridiculous, but I threw a big fat hissy fit. I was really bummed out about having to shove those kids in the Camry for who knows how many more months. The truth is--I felt a lot better deep inside and had peace.

I emailed the seller and basically just laid it out to her: that we had most of the money and just needed to sell Devin's car and that we didn't feel right about borrowing money. I told her we were really disappointed and that I was really mad at Dave Ramsey at the moment. :) I honestly felt kind of stupid telling her all those details, but hey, it was the truth!

I got an email from her later that evening. This is what it said:
I have been listening to Dave Ramsey for years and I would really like for your beautiful family to have this van.  If you really want it, we can wait for you to do it the right way.  Like I told you, I don't want to sell it to a dealer and we are not in a hurry.  If you still want to get it checked tomorrow by a mechanic, and then wait till your other car sells, we are ok with that.  Just your word that you will let us know if you change your mind is all we need.  I can take it off of craigslist and give you time to get yours sold.  This is has been a wonderful vehicle for our family and it would make me feel really good to know that it is going to be appreciated by a family who needs it as much as we did when we bought it.  Talk it over and let me know what you decide. 

Hurray!! Yay God!! Yay Dave Ramsey!!We put Devin's car on craigslist that night and would you believe it sold two days later? Yep. A guy was driving through Kansas from Illinois on his way to Denver and wanted a 4Runner. He grilled Devin about the car over the phone and paid him $2300 in cash at 10:30 at night. This was especially exciting because if you haven't seen Devin's car, it's...special.

We picked up the van the next evening and have been happily driving it these last couple weeks. The only thing missing is the family members stickers for the back window. Here is a corny picture of "the trading of the vans" from their family to ours.

Thanks for reading our story. It is definitely a memorable one for our little family.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Kicking worry to the curb

I haven't blogged in so long that I almost don't know where to begin!

Did you know that I am a closet worrier? I try my very best to hide it behind a laid back demeanor, but's true. I think it was easy for me to hide it because I don't worry about a lot of things that other moms might obsess over: germs, napping schedules, food allergies, THAT stuff.

I guess in my mind I thought it was acceptable or even wise to worry about the biggies. For years I thought God was "preparing me for the worst" when I'd worry about things in my own life, or that I was showing "Christian Concern" when I'd worry about my friends and loved ones. If I'm being vague here are some examples:

 -When we didn't have life insurance I worried when Devin was just a few minutes late coming home. I thought for sure that he had died in a car accident and that I'd be a destitute widow.

-I thought for sure that since some of my very best friends suffered through miscarriages that "God was preparing me" to lose baby Ainsley. I worried to the point of tears through most of my pregnancy. She was just fine!

-I worried about my dad finding a job...twice.

-I worried that my sweet mother in law would never regain her sense of smell or taste and how that would impact her life.

-I worried lots and lots and lots about money.

-I worried lots about my friends: for their marriages, loss of jobs, that they'd find a relationship, etc etc etc etc etc.

-Then there's the usuals: that my kids could get very sick, in a horrible freak accident, SIDS, etc. etc etc etc etc etc

I thought all of this was normal! I thought worrying for my loved ones was a way for my mercy gift to be put to use.

This last year God has been really teaching me that I was so very wrong and that I was robbing myself of joy, trying to be in control, and um, sinning.

You know that verse in Matthew? The one in all red because it's all Jesus talking. The one where he directly tells us not to worry? Yeah. That's about everything. When we choose to ignore that and worry anyway, we are ignoring a direct command from Jesus. I learned this a few weeks ago at a women's retreat and it was really eye opening for me. I know it's not mind boggling or anything like that, but it's truth that hit me in a new light. Here are some more of my favorite verses about worry:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline
2 Timothy 1:7

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

Here's my all-time favorite:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

So let me tell you what I've been doing, how I've been stopping the madness:
Most of the times my worries come when I'm sitting in church (I have a short attention span) or laying in bed at night and my mind is whirling. The fear will pop in my head. I can't stop it from popping up, but I can choose what to do with it at that point: I can either go down the "rabbit hole of what-ifs" where I create whole scenerios (that are usually awful) or I can talk to God about it.

Last week I was sitting in church and kind of sort of listening to the sermon when I started becoming fearful that something could happen to baby Ian during childbirth. The rabbit hole started: I started to dwell on how I'd handle it, what I'd say to people, even what I'd do with the baby room until I literally had to tell myself to STOP! I immediately prayed to God and told him my fear and asked him to take it away. That instant I had an image of a smiling boy in my head. Seriously! My first thought was "Did I imagine that or did God put that there?" I guess I'll never know for sure, but I believe it was God, and I am so grateful for that little moment.

This is all going to take lots of time. I think the temptation to worry will always be there. Sometimes I have to pray about the same fear, oh, 25 times a day. I have good days and bad days, and I am determined to beat this, but it will not be with my own strength. The only way I will kick worry to the curb is through the grace of God.  My kids and husband deserve a wife who isn't a crazy person. Let's face it, I've already got a few strikes against me with my whole cat obsession. :)

Anyway thanks for reading this book of a blog post. Is worry something you struggle with? Anyone want to join me on this journey?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Awkward can be worth it

Devin spent all afternoon on Sunday making the walls of our house look beautiful. He was busy hammering, puttying, sanding, and painting until midnight. Because I'm the epitome of a perfect wife, instead of thanking him for all the hard work he did, I blamed him when the outlets quit working in the bathroom that day. "You must have screwed up the wires when you were hammering!" I know, he's just SO lucky! I mean, who wouldn't want me for a wife right?

I realized I never apologized for being such a nag (and when I say nag I am adding some extra a's..naaaaaag...Fran Drescher style). I should do that (apologize, not nag some more).

Anyway he tried pushing the reset button on the outlet and tripping the fuse box a few times with no luck.

I gave it two days for the problem to miraculously solve itself (funny, that never seems to work out very well!) and finally called the electrician (Tann Electric). I used them two years ago when our lights were flickering and our power was going out. Eddie put in a new fuse box and saved our house from burning to the ground (seriously). You know things are bad when you hear a sizzling sound coming from the fuse box.

I was happy to see Eddie again (even though he was four hours late) until he came out of the bathroom less than THREE minutes after he arrived saying "ok it's fixed now." Apparently the outlet in the garage is connected to the outlet in the bathroom, which powers the upstairs outlet. He had to push the reset button in the garage and that was all. I felt pretty dumb for not knowing that, but whatever. I was just glad it was going to be a cheap bill.

I got out the checkbook and asked him what the price was. $94. For three minutes. For pushing a button. I waited all day for him to get there and he pushed a button. I begged him for a discount. He said I should just be grateful that it wasn't something worse and told me all his stories about his other dumb customers that had to pay $100 for him to screw in a lightbulb. NOT HELPING.

I begged and pleaded some more and gave him my most pathetic, pregnancy face. He said he had no control over the pricing. I wrote the check, but just couldn't summon the strength to hand him nearly a hundred dollars for pushing a button.

I gave him more sad, pregnant puppy eyes. He said I could try calling his manager and that maybe they could give me a credit for next time. Yipee. Not. I asked if I could call before he left. I told him I appreciated all of his hard work and made double sure he wouldn't be offended. He said to "Go for it" and that he wouldn't be offended in the least and that he knew how ridiculous that price was.

Oh my gosh, it was so awkward! I had to call and leave the details with the receptionist and then wait, with Eddie sitting on my couch, for the manager to call back. Longest six minutes ever. I was offering him drinks, trying to make small talk, feeling like such a friggin' cheapskate the whole time. Finally the manager called Eddie and I overheard Eddie tell him "Man, she's pregnant with two small kids and could really use the money." Thanks Eddie!!

They slashed my bill from $94 to $45. I think the awkwardness was worth it! I have totally turned into that person...the cheapskate that embarasses her kids, but who cares. It put close to fifty bucks back into my pocket.

So lesson of the day, folks: it never hurts to ask!

I think I'm going to start blogging again. My life has been brimming with blog fodder lately, thanks to Addison and Ainsley.

The Addison quote of the day: "Mom, why do you life coffee so much?"
The Ainsley quote of the day: "Addison spit my head!" Devin found a puddle of spit on the top of her head. Seriously. Who DOES THAT?! Apparently my daughter....

Monday, February 21, 2011

Blog, Shlog

I'm sorry I've been absent for so long. There are so many things I could blog about my now I just feel too overwhelmed and don't know where to start! I could blog about:

-how I heard Addison reading aloud from the Bible about a witch that steals the sparkles from furry ponies
-how I've developed a second chin from this pregnancy and my belly is starting to hang out of all my shirts (takes the idea of mooning to a whole new level)
-how much easier Addison is to get along with these days and how we're already into "silly stage" where she runs around saying things like "miss me, miss me, now you're gonna kiss me" because she heard Shane say it at preschool and thought it was just so funny.
-how Ainsley bit my leg today and I am trying to decide if I need to start spraying her mouth with apple cider vinegar or just keep doing the time outs.
-how I'm supposed to rub prozac cream on my neighbor's cat's ear while she's in Mexico this week, but the blasted cat hisses and growls and scares the daylights out of me. And Devin!
-how part of me can't wait to have this baby if only to get a break from life for awhile to stay cooped up in the house with him, in sweats, and get a pass from all other obligations.
-how ridiculously difficult it has been to make a decision about where Addison will go to Kindergarten next year and how crazy fast these last 4.5 years have gone by!!
-that we've decide to name our little guy Ian Timothy Riley. And that Addison picked the name Ian on our way to church one Sunday and double checks from time to time that we're still going to name him that. Timothy is Devin's middle name as well as his dad's middle name.
-that Ian means God is merciful. We picked the name because we liked it and that it was kinda fun to tell him his sister chose it, so it could have meant "tree" and we still would have gone with it. I love that it represents the trait of God that means the most to me.
-how Ainsley turned 2 last week and how dang funny she is these days. Her favorite two songs are Jesus Loves Me and Jingle Bells and she asks to sing them both in the car whenever we go anywhere.
-how nice it is to be debt free and how totally worth all that hard work it is. Sadly Dave doesn't seem to want to take my call.
-how our stray cat, Squatter, survived his 4th winter living on our deck and how Devin bought me a house for him for my birthday because he knew I was worried about him AND how I fashioned a door out of duct tape AND how I know if my dad reads this he will mock me for life. It's all good--I was proud of that door!

The possiblities are endless. Someday I'll be back. For now I'll stick with being a blog stalker!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I've been trying e-mealz for the past couple weeks. I've got to say I have really enjoyed it! There have been a few things that I just flat out refused to make because I knew we wouldn't like them, a few things that have been really good, and a few things that turned out to be just ok and I probably won't try again.

-The recipes are printed off for you along with a grocery list so you just print your list and go to the store
-The meals were all pretty healthy (I'm trying the any store points plan)
-There are always one or two vegetarian options each week, which I think is great. 
-Even though they weren't based on sale prices, I was able to get most of my ingredients for 6 meals for about $60, which isn't bad at all!
-I had food! I had ingredients to make dinner! That panicky feeling around 3:00 that I usually get was non existent because I had options in my fridge and pantry! Yipeeee!
-Even though I wasn't crazy about some of the choices, I still had a starting point. For instance one of the meals was Curried Broccoli Chicken, which sounded like a less yummy version of Chicken Divan, one of our family's favorites. It was really easy to just switch that up a little.

-Catfish? Ewwwww.....skipping that one!
-They didn't really plan the meals based on the fruits/vegetables that are in season. For instance they called for fresh basil and blueberries for a couple meals this week. I went ahead and paid $3 for the basil, but was not going to shell out money for out of season, wrinkled blueberries just for fruit salad. We had pears instead.
-A couple of the meals were a little lame. For one of them you used a box of jambalya mix and added frozen peppers/onions and chicken. I will admit that my four year old gobbled it up with no complaining. It was pretty tasty.....Ok so maybe that isn't a con. Nevermind!
-I wish they had a specific store list for my area that is based on what's on sale. It's hard to shell out money for the specific meat they call for if it's not on sale. It does seem like they use a lot of chicken and ground turkey, which is easy to stock up on. 

I think we're going to stick with it for awhile. Even though I probably am spending a little more than we did before, it's worth the peace of mind and the fact that we're not eating at 8 pm because I had no idea what to make for dinner. Just my two cents!