Green Acres in the City ~ Join us a begin the journey in search for a simpler life...

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Thanks Mimi

One of the things that I have rediscovered about myself is how much I love to sew and cross stitch. Both thanks to Mimi. I am so grateful for the many things my mom taught us girls. She always made time to show us what and how she was doing things. My love for cooking and being a mom comes from her too! She was home with us girls until I went to middle school. Those are years and memories that I will never forget. I am so happy to be having this time with my boys. Even though I worked for the first 5 years of Cameron's life I am here now. I get to be there when he steps into that new world of Kindergarten on August 18Th, and yes Mimi will be here again to hold my hand while I let go of my "big kindergarten boys" hand. It's just like Cameron tells me "Mama's are special", and they are no matter how old you get you will always need them.

Mimi with her girls. My sister Erika celebrated her 40Th a couple of years back and we did a girls weekend on the Plaza. So much fun! In the picture are Mimi, my bonus sister Kristin, DeDe, sister Erika, myself and Susan. Susan and DeDe might as well be my sisters too, Mom just kind of took them in! Unfortunately my bonus sister Kim was at my nephews baseball tournament.

Mimi and her husband, Papa. This was Henry's baptism in April.

Mimi and Nichelle at her final Dance recital.

Finally Mimi doing what she does best, taking care of us kids. This was this past weekend. My brother in law Randy celebrated his 45Th, sorry Bub I can't tell a lie. Mimi always makes your favorite meal for your birthday dinner. In this case it was her famous Chicken and Dumplings followed by White Cake with White icing. Yes Randy has basic tastes, but we love him just the same. She will be driving to town in a couple of weeks to do the same for Mr. Miller as he celebrates another year this weekend. He is trying to figure out his menu. Birthdays growing up were always special, not because of fancy parties and such but because they were celebrated together as a family and with lots of love.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Recipe Day - Chicken Enchilada Casserole

I have decided that on Wednesdays I am going to be posting some of our favorite recipes here at Green Acres. I love to cook, if you have been following me on this blog you have figured that out. The other problem is that I don't cook in small amounts, Mr. Miller doesn't mind because he ends up with a really great meal usually in his cooler for lunch.

I love to slow cook a chicken and then de-bone it and use the meat for several recipes during the week. This is a very cost effective way to plan your menus for the week. Are you doing that? Why not? I have a dry erase board on the fridge and we plan the menu for the week and I make my shopping list for only what we need. I then go to Aldi or Wal-Mart and Whole Foods for certain GF items I am needing. If you are not shopping Aldi or Wal-Mart you should, you can save a lot of money that way. Did you know that Wal-Mart will price match their competitors adds? OK so off the soap box and back to my chicken. I have been accused of rambling in my day! I usually buy a 2-3LB whole fryer, rinse and remove the inside presents they tuck in bird, ie: neck, heart and liver. I throw away but if you want to use for something else by all means it is your bird. Place in Crock Pot with desired seasonings. Usually for me it is Poultry Seasoning, Fresh Ground Sea Salt and Black Pepper. Pour 2 Cups of Water in pot and put on low for 6 hours. Don't forget 2 bay leaves that make the smell even better.

This week I did it a little different. I cut up some Cilantro, 1 Jalapeno Pepper, 3 cloves Garlic, 1 small zucchini and southwest Seasoning because I knew that we were doing some Mexican Recipes. My favorite kind!

Doesn't he look beautiful?

After he is done cooking, I remove him from the pot and let him cool for about 30 min and then I start "pickin' me some chicken"! I can pick a chicken almost clean, my mama didn't raise no fool! I will divide the meat into 3 containers and put in fridge until needed that week for said recipe or even freeze for a later date. This chicken cost me $3.99 and I used him for 3 recipes, not bad!


Cast of Characters:

2 cups diced chicken, cooked

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

10 corn tortillas, prefer GF but if they are 100% corn I seem to do ok

1 can enchilada sauce

2 small cans tomato sauce

1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)

2 cups fresh leaf spinach

I preheat the oven to 350 and spray 9x13 with non stick cooking spray. In one bowl I mix Enchilada Sauce and Tomato Sauce. I start by soaking tortillas in that mixture 2 at a time. Lay 5 of the tortillas along bottom of baking dish. It is OK to overlap. Next I pour my chicken evenly topped by the beans and then the spinach. I then pour 1/2 of cheese over top. Top with the remaining soaked 5 tortillas, cover with foil and bake for 55 min. Remove foil and cover with remaining cheese, bake uncovered for 7-8 minutes. Remove from oven, let set for 15 min and serve. I top with sour cream. Yum! Depending on piece size it will serve 12-16.

This is an easy recipe that the whole family enjoys. It makes great leftovers for the rest of the week!

I would love to hear comments on how you like the recipes and let me know if you are looking for any certain ideas that you would like me to post recipes for.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My new favorite book!

A couple of weeks ago I found a book on that I have been wanting for a long time. It is called "The Creative Family" by Amanda Blake Soule. She is the great mama mind behind another of my favorite blogs Check it out, you won't be sorry!

This book is full of so many great ideas to nuture and expand the imaginations of your family. Mr. Miller and I have loved some of the ideas that she shares. One of which was a simple pattern for a child's pair of pants. I used the idea to help with making my wool soakers. I made these cute woolies. Way too easy! Unfortunatley these are to small for Junior Mint so I will be putting them in the pile for my Hyenacart to be up and running soon!

In the time that I have been blessed to be at home since my unfortunate unemployment I have discovered so many things about me. I have also rediscovered some hidden talents and passions that we all seem to put aside for one reason or another in our lives. I am truly grateful for this time that I am getting in my life right now!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cooking for Henry

In March the Bunco Hens threw me an amazing Baby Shower. They insisted on giving one after Henry's arrival since Mr. Miller and I don't find out the sex of our babies before they get here. It is such a great surprise that way, plus we know it drives the Grandparents crazy! Sorry guys, but we do love you! The shower was at Traci's new house, which is adorable. They came up with some really creative and thoughtful gifts. One of which is the book "Cooking for Baby", Gretchen found it a Williams Sonoma. I love that store, it is my happy place. I can spend hours in there looking. OK so where was I? This book is full of great ideas and recipes for making your own baby food. My friend Lori got me thinking about making my own when she shared at the shower that she had been making food for her little guy Miles. She gave some great tips and pointers. I tried making the potatoes first, I used an organic Red Potato from my Fresh Connect KC delivery.

I cut the potato up first and steamed it for 7 minutes in my micro steamer. I then peeled it. I would probably peel before steaming next time. I found out the true meaning of the game "Hot Potato". I reserved the water for my thinning agent also because the water is full of the nutrients from steaming your vegetable.

I next put them in the faithful Food Processor, again another fine household appliance from the Deacon and Pops. Do they know what their daughter in law likes or what? I used my reserve liquid until I got my desired consistency.

I then used a funnel and poured them into cleaned baby food jars that I had already used. They were going to recycle anyways so why not recycle them in my own house for our use?

I was able to get 5 jars from 1 potato. What a savings when you usually spend .45 to .65 cents a jar at the store.

Label and date, freeze for up to 8 weeks.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Where has the time gone?

6 months ago today we were blessed with our little "Rock Star"! Where has the time gone? I cannot believe he is 6 months old. He brings us so many blessings everyday. Cameron is in love with his little brother, he helped us come up with his nickname. Cameron also knows most every word to all Jimmy Buffett songs and one of his favorites being "Fruitcakes". So Thank You for brightening our lives "Junior Mint"!

We love you from the top of your head to the tips of your toes!

Friday, July 24, 2009

" I want to fly like an eagle..."

I have cut down on the amount of time spent in front of the square headed babysitter, a.k.a. the TV. We all watch way too much of it. I am encouraging all of us to find other simple pleasures to occupy our time. For Mr. Miller it is working on the yard, for me it is sewing and one of Cameron's greatest pleasures in life is to swing. Mr. Miller and Pops built this play scape for his birthday last year and it has been the greatest gift ever for him. He made sure that they hung his "old" swing for Henry. He goes out first thing in the morning and off and on all day. It is the one place that he finds solitude or he puts as his "alone" time. Yes, I know where has he heard that phrase? At least he is using it in the right text.

Cameron often wants to touch the clouds. Mr. Tony, our neighbor, comes over to push him and Cameron always says, "To the clouds, to the clouds"! He has such a wide imagination, sometimes the swing is a rocket ship and he "blasts off" and is off to the moon. He always tells me that he will call me when he gets there.

I often wonder what he is thinking out there. These pictures say it all, simplicity at its best!
What things do you like to do with your family and friends that don't include the TV?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My How We Have Grown!

I thought I would take a moment to share some of the progress out in the Inaugural Garden this week. Things are just taking off. I was able to pick Green Beans this morning. We have enough for a small pot of Beans with supper and more to be harvested soon. I picked some Peppers, and no my name is not Peter Piper, and Cucumbers.

The Corn is taller than Cameron!

The Lettuce and Pepper plants are producing nicely. However something likes my Broccoli. Any suggestions that are natural for keeping them free from harm. Also does anyone know exactly how and when I should pick my Lettuce? We have had it a few times and it seems kind of bitter. Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions.

Zucchini! I actually spotted one growing this morning!

My Watermelon, I did have the 2, but Cameron got anxious and already picked one for me the other night. Thankfully it was the smaller of the 2.

For those that are wondering, the Patio is coming along nicely. Mr. Miller and I moved over 8 ton of AB3 or gravel for the laymen like me out there, on Sunday. I did ask him for the correct term for AB3 and he gave me some long scientific, landscaper and beyond my memory name. Not the first time that has happened here! He has to finish putting sand and will place stones this weekend. He did finish the steps and they look great. I can't wait to have our first gathering with our neighbors to thank them for putting up with our chaos when it is complete!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summer Pie

A couple of weeks ago my friend Natalie had posted that she had all of this Zucchini, what was she going to do with it? She asked for recipes. I had just gotten our first delivery from Fresh Connect KC and what do you know, there was Zucchini enclosed. I sat and thought what can I do with these beautiful organic vegetables. I also had Tomatoes and Onions, some of Mr. Millers favorites. Well after about and hour of thought based on what I had on hand this is what I came up with.

Summer Pie
1 med Zucchini, thinly sliced
1 med Onion
1 med Tomato
1/4 C Corn Starch
Fresh Ground Pepper
1/4 C grated Parmesan Cheese
1 C shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 tsp Dill
1 clove Garlic, pressed
1/2 C Mayonnaise
1/2 Plain Yogurt or Sour Cream
I first spray my pie plate with non stick spray and preheat oven to 350. Next slice Zucchini, I use a mandolin, I love this tool nothing slices your veggies so even and thin. Toss your Zucchini in the Corn Starch, again to keep it GF for us you could use flour, and lay them in an even layer in bottom of pie plate. Slice Onion, lay on top of Zucchini, and next Tomato. Place Tomato over Onion. Top the Tomato with Fresh Ground Pepper and Parmesan Cheese. In a separate bowl mix your Mayonnaise, Yogurt, Garlic, Dill and Cheddar Cheese. Using a rubber spatula place wet ingredients in a thin layer over top. Bake for 40-45 min or until golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool to set up for about 15min before serving.
This is way yummy! I have served with both Chicken and just a large Garden Salad. It makes the perfect summer meal and a great way to use up all of that extra Zucchini.
Natalie this ones for you I hope it gives you another idea! Thanks for the inspiration!

Monday, July 20, 2009

One of my favorite gifts!

Who doesn't love fresh, hot popcorn? It is a favorite snack at Green Acres. A few years ago Cameron and Mr. Miller surprised me for my birthday with a stove top popper. It has the crank and is in one of my favorite colors for the kitchen, Red only second to Yellow! He remembered a story a told of my Mom and Dad always popping corn on the stove top. It always tasted the best! Even after they bought one of the new updated "air poppers" we seemed to revert back to the stove top. He is a good guy that Mr. Miller, I think I will keep him!

I love popping corn with Cameron he helps me pour the oil in and then the corn. Then he sits on the red stool and watches me crank until that first excited "pop" takes place. He still squeals with delight and gets the bowl ready.

I will also share it is a much more frugal but healthier way to enjoy one of America's pastimes!

OH the simple joys in life, look around they are in abundance all around you!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Diaper Swap

While Mr. Miller was working on the patio I was participating in my first Diaper Swap. I know you are asking "what in the heck is a diaper swap"? Well, I will tell you. You know my favorite store Happybottomus, holds these events 4 times a year. They provide the tables and advertising for essentially a diaper swap meet. It is a lot of fun! I was able to take all of the diapers that Henry has grown out of along with random purchases that I am not using to sell. It is open to the public and has a huge following. For the 4 hours the "swap" was open the store was wall to wall customers. I met some of the greatest Cloth Diapering moms in the Kansas City area. We were able to share ideas, recipes and just visit with each other. It is also a chance for us to help educate the general public on Cloth Diapers.

It has been a great Saturday overall, Cameron could help Mr. Miller with the patio and Mimi came from Topeka to spoil Henry. OK so she spoiled all 3 of them while Mama was away. Mr. Miller loves it when she comes and makes him her special Chicken Salad. I love the Chicken Salad too. I will post the recipe soon!

If you are in the Lee's Summit area in October please come join us for the next one. They are usually held on the 3rd Saturday. The store is at 3rd and Douglas, hope to see you there.

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Can we fix it? Yes, we can! "

We have had a busy and exciting morning here at Green Acres. Cameron had his Friday play date with Maci and Mama got to have coffee with one of her best friends, Mendi. I have known Mendi for 10 years, we were both manicurist together for a couple of years. Even with marriages, moves and children now we have stayed in touch. Mendi is a friend that loves me no matter what and lets me be my true self. Oh, yes she laughs a lot at me but that's OK.

It has be in the low 70's all morning, yes we are still in Missouri and it is July, so we had the kids out front. Maci just goes right along with Cameron and all of his blocks, Lincoln Logs and trucks.
She is a girl after my own heart. I knew that we had a special delivery coming of the AB3 gravel and sand for the patio. You know my nightmare in the back yard, the big hole or commonly referred to as the "bog" when it rains. Mr. Miller is going to attempt to finish it this weekend. I can hardly contain myself. OK so back to the story, sometimes I get off track, we had 2 deliveries from Johnson County Building Supply. This meant 2 "jimmy" trucks. We call all construction trucks "jimmy" trucks thanks to our good friend, Jim Pavlich, he has a trucking company and told Cameron about his "jimmy" trucks when he was 2 and it has stuck. Jim is a regular superhero in this house. Ed with JCBS is great to work with. I called many companies to get quotes, not only was he the best deal but he was the most kind individual to deal with. I would use him again in a minute.

The trucks came and it was quite an event here. The neighbors came out and Jack and his daddy, Mike came over to play also. It was so neat to see the look on these kids faces when these trucks showed up. After the load was dropped I let them use their vehicles to move rock. Too bad none of it made it to the back.
Maci and Cameron waiting for the "jimmy" trucks.

Don't worry they are digging where Mr. Miller said it was OK, we had that discussion earlier in the week. Let's just say I have some new "Cameron" holes in the front yard. OH well its summer and he's 5.

Here comes the first load. I was amazed at how easily he backed it right into the driveway!

Cameron had to add his own sound effects, I think he has a future in Hollywood as a sound man!

Free for all!

Can you say "King of the Mountain"?

Here is the sand!

Well there you have it 2 tons sand and 10 tons AB3, I thought it would actually be more. All I know is that I am just glad it will be Mr. Miller working the shovel and not me, I am going to be at a Diaper Swap all day tomorrow! I will have Mimi, my mom, here to supervise and take pictures.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

GF Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think I have found the best GF cookie recipe out there. I found it on one of my favorite blogs, This recipe could easily be made regular too! Here it is:
1/4 C Butter, softened
3/4 C Sugar
3/4 C Brown Sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp GF Vanilla
1 C Peanut Butter
1 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
3 C GF Rolled Oats
6oz GF Chocolate Chips
Preheat oven to 350. Beat Sugar, Brown Sugar and butter. Add eggs, vanilla and baking soda, mix well. Add Peanut Butter, stir in oats, chocolate chips. Place by teaspoonful on greased cookie sheet about 2" apart. Bake for 13 minutes or until edges are crispy.
These are great and it makes about 4 dozen cookies!

Monday, July 13, 2009

1 Fish, 2 Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

One of Cameron's all time favorite authors is Dr. Seuss. I know who doesn't love him?
Cameron loves to go fishing with the Deacon and Pops when we go to the lake. On the drive up he repeatedly told Henry the story of The Cat in the Hat and 1 Fish, 2 Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. He would tell Henry how he was going to catch the biggest fish in the lake that weekend. Mr. Miller and I just laughed at the enthusiasm in his voice. I told him he would have some tough competition because the Deacon takes fishing very seriously. "I know Mama, I know...Nana taught me everything I need to know about fishing!" So Nana these are for you. Thank you for teaching Cameron a skill that he can enjoy his whole life and that doesn't include batteries or being inside! We love you!
Cameron and Nana on the dock.
Cameron with his Nemo fishing pole that Nana and Pops got him. After the Deacon and Pops lost a couple of poles to the "one that got away" they decided to get him a floating pole.
Cameron's first catch of the weekend.

Cameron was right he did catch the biggest one in the lake, at least for that weekend and that's the story we are sticking too!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dinner Salad

Tonight with dinner we had a dinner salad made with our first lettuce harvest for the season! It was so exciting. I was able to go out to my backyard and pick what I needed, rinse it and put it with the other amazing vegetables that were delivered right to my door today. Did I say delivered? Yes!

We have discovered a local delivery service right here in Kansas City called Fresh Connect. It is owned and operated by Kevin and Brookie-Lee Glaser. They also have Happybottomus, you know my favorite natural parenting store. Fresh Connect prides themselves on Local Natural Grocery Delivery. We signed up on Take a look, it is very informative. We ordered the small fruit/veggie combo box for $25. Here is a list of what we got:

1 lb Potatoes
1 lb Onions
3 Braeburn Apples
4 ears of Corn
2 lbs Carrots
2 Zucchini
1 Cucumber
1 Mango
1 Grapefruit
2 Oranges
2 Purple Bell Peppers
1/2 lb Kiwi
1 lb Tomatoes
They use local Farmers and Organic Produce. You can customize and get larger quantities. We plan on a bi-weekly delivery and once my garden really starts producing, I will switch to fruit. You can also get non-perishables, meat and baked goods. We plan on trying the meat delivery here before too long. I understand I can get bison, don't knock it until you try it. It is much leaner than beef and tastes better in our opinion. Please check it out and give it a try. There is no delivery fee or sign up fee.
I used a Purple Bell Pepper that was one of the sweetest peppers I had ever had plus one of the tomatoes. I just love homegrown tomatoes. You can't beat the taste. I added raisins and used a Sweet French Dressing. It was an amazing salad!

Friday, July 10, 2009

" a dreamer of dreams and a travelin' man I have chalked up many a mile "

Well by now most of you have figured out that we survived the road trip to the lake in Pana. We had a great time. We tried to do this trip as economically friendly as possible. I spent the week before tirelessly baking, cooking and doing laundry. I mapped out what rest areas we would stop for meals and snacks. Cameron especially liked stopping at the rest areas for our "picnics". We found the Missouri rest areas to be surprisingly clean and busy. We were not the only travelers trying to save a dime and eat their own food. It was so refreshing to see other families enjoying the beautiful day, fellowship and a good meal.

We decided to stop in Hermann at the Stone Hill outlet for wine. It would be sacrilegious not to. Hermann, Missouri is where I met the Deacon and Pops for the first time while Mr. Miller and I were dating. We love the Stone Hill winery so much that we spent the first part of our honeymoon there and the rest up at Pana Lake. We love the Norton at $19.99 a bottle and the Hermannsberger at $10.99 a bottle. Great wines! Check out the winery at and they do ship and give case discounts.

The trip up only took 6 1/2 hours and the boys did great in the car. We did not even take a DVD player this time. Cameron enjoyed the scenery and looking at all of the trucks. He did get restless outside of St. Louis but then fell asleep, so all in all it was great fun.

We had decent weather the whole weekend. It did rain all day on the 4Th, so Pops and the Deacon decided we would build a fort and play trucks.

The Deacon and Mr. Miller worked on the music for Sundays Church service at "Episcapoint". The cove got that name being that the 3 families that share the point all belonged to the same Episcopal Church in Decatur. 2 of the families are still members and when the Deacon and Pops visit it is still a church family to them. We shared a great service on Sunday with both families. Cameron carried the cross, OK so he got nervous and needed help from Mama. Pops ushered, Mr. Miller was in charge of music, I read the lessons and the Deacon officiated. We had a lovely brunch afterwards with fresh fruit, some GF baked goods, and a breakfast casserole made with eggs, spinach, ham, tomatoes and onions. Yummy! Oh, of course coffee. We drink lots of coffee at the lake and when we are not drinking coffee we drink wine. Come on we are Episcopalian!

Henry hanging out in his woolies! It was chilly, OK so in the 60's but to the southerners it was cold. Mr. Miller and I thought it was perfect that day. No A/C, windows open and sound of gently falling rain hitting the roof and lake.

We met a new friend up there. She was a stray that was at the cottage. She appeared to be Beagle and Blue Healer. I decided she should be called Lucy, "Lu Lu" for short. The sweetest dog. Mr. Miller tried his hardest to convince me that we should bring her home for wonder mutt to have a playmate. I am glad we didn't because some of our friends came and adopted her soon after we left. She is in a good home.

We had a great trip back also. Boys were great and Cameron thought we should stop at all of the same rest areas. Trying to explain to a 5 year old we were on the wrong side of the highway is a trip in itself. We did stop in Hermann again for more wine. Truly medicinal purposes! Ha Ha Ha! The best part was when we made the last stop about 2 hours from home we had some visitors from the Department of Corrections. It was quite humorous, Mr. Miller and Cameron had already used the restroom and I had changed Henry, they were feeding Henry and having a snack so I took my turn. As I walked up the side walk I heard chain rustling and looked up and here were 8 convicts in shackles walking up the walk in front of me. They were with armed guards of course and I kept thinking just look ahead and no eye contact. All was fine and when I got back to the table with the family Mr. Miller asked what I thought of my new friends. Yes, he has a demented sense of humor. One of the traits I love about him. We survived and moved on down the road. Cameron only asked "are we there yet?" about one mile from home.

So here is to great food, family, lovely weather, ipods and good wine. I hope you all enjoyed your 4Th as well!