The Mommy Bloggy

Reflections of a Mother's Heart

Chunky Italian Soup February 24, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michelle Ferguson @ 1:31 pm

I have really enjoyed making different kinds of soups for our Tuesday winter nights.  I’ve also really enjoyed the challenge of finding new recipes to try.  It’s definitely gotten me out of my comfort zone!  Another benefit to eating soup is all the vegetables that we’ve been eating!  I’ve found another recipe that my family really likes, and I wanted to share it.  A good soup recipe is a gem!  (The split pea soup I made a few weeks ago didn’t go over too well, even though I added chicken sausage to make it more appealing and carnivorous to my husband!)

Chunky Italian Soup

1 lb ground beef

1 onion, chopped (I use frozen, diced onions…best invention ever!)

28 oz can diced tomatoes

1 cup tomato soup

4 cups vegetable broth

1 TBSP basil

1 TBSP oregano

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 (14 oz) bag frozen sweet corn

1/2 cup frozen green beans

1 can white kidney beans

2 carrots, chopped

2 zucchini, chopped

8 oz small pasta

Brown beef with onions.  Add all other ingredients (except pasta) to crock pot and simmer on low all day, 8 hours.  Since my crock pot was filled to the brim, I could not add the pasta.  So I cooked the pasta separately and added it to our bowls to mix with the soup.  I used a small pasta called Ditalini, and it was perfect in this soup!


Kids Eat Free! February 17, 2011

Filed under: Brad and Me Plus 3 — Michelle Ferguson @ 6:42 pm

On a lot of Thursday nights, you will find the Ferguson family eating dinner at Earth Fare grocery store.  Why?  Three beautiful words:  Kids eat free!  Because Earth Fare is “dedicated to providing families with affordable healthy alternatives to their conventional staples,” they host a Family Dinner Night every Thursday from 4-8 pm where up to six kids can eat free per one adult meal purchased.  So, to keep things even cheaper, Brad and I order one sandwich to split (it comes with a generous portion of blue corn chips) and purchase two bottled teas.  Usually we eat there, but have also been known to bring our dinner home.

One night, Earth Fare was so busy, we had to eat at a table right at the sliding glass door entrance…and it was a freezing, cold night.  We would cringe whenever someone would approach to exit, then brace for the burst of chilly wind.  It was a pretty miserable location for a table in the middle of winter, but at least we had a table.  Honestly, it is the one table we’ve sat at that’s held the most memories!  We laugh whenever we think of that table!

The kids get their own menus and circle their selections of entree, two sides, and a drink.  It really is a great deal, and I know they are getting something healthy (except maybe the pizza) to eat.  Then of course we walk around the store and can usually find something to buy (which might be part of their motivation behind Family Dinner Night!).  One night, we noticed a machine that grinds peanuts into peanut butter.  So we tried it out with honey roasted peanuts, watching the peanuts turn into a creamy butter and fill our plastic container.  It was really delicious!

There is an artist on hand who draws caricatures for tips.  All three children have had theirs drawn and have proudly displayed them in their rooms.   Sometimes we see friends there and we’ve about made some new friends by just seeing them every week at Earth Fare and speaking to them!  It is definitely a fun way to spend a Thursday night!



Personalize It! February 15, 2011

Filed under: Devotions — Michelle Ferguson @ 8:52 pm

Don’t we just love things with our names on them?  For an additional charge, you can get just about anything personalized!  Bags, jewelry, stationery, clothing, hair bows, aprons, lunch boxes, back packs, towels, coffee mugs, key chains, slippers, and so much more!  We love our name and initials on our things!  Why?  I think because we can identify quickly with the object.  Something personalized with our name clearly belongs to us!

We can even have our Bibles personalized.  My Bible has my name on the very front cover in gold lettering.  But what about personalizing Scripture?  I am journaling my way slowly through the Psalms, and this morning I read in Psalm 25.  I decided to personalize verses 4 and 5, by inserting my name in place of “my.”  So this is what I wrote in my journal:  “Show Michelle Your ways, O Lord;  teach Michelle Your paths.  Lead Michelle in Your truth and teach Michelle, for You are the God of Michelle’s salvation;  on You Michelle waits all the day.”  It really made an impact on me to read those verses with my name.  Scripture is personal!  I could quickly identify with it because it belonged to me!  I made those verses my prayer this morning.

God’s Word is a love letter written to you and to me!  Personalize it with your name!  It is meant for you!


Recycled Valentines

Filed under: Tips and Tidbits — Michelle Ferguson @ 7:54 pm

When Lindsay and Logan were preschoolers and came home on February 14th with all their cute valentines, I could not bear to throw them away.  The precious handwriting of their little friends’ inexperienced hands and the sweet sentiments were treasured memories I couldn’t bear to part with!  (I am not that sentimental about a lot of things, because I am known to toss a lot!)

So I took those valentines and spread them over contact paper, covered them with another piece of contact paper, and trimmed to even the edges.  Then my children had a valentine’s place mat!  Now that Luke is in preschool and came home yesterday with several valentines, we made a place mat for him!  Lindsay really enjoyed looking at her old preschool place mat and asking who some of the children were and giggling over the cards!  Recycled valentines make the best place mats that can be enjoyed for years!



Williamsburg February 13, 2011

Filed under: Brad and Me Plus 3 — Michelle Ferguson @ 9:37 pm

A few weeks ago, my mother-in-law called and offered us a place to stay, free of charge to us, in Williamsburg, VA.  What was there to discuss?  It has been on my unending list of places to visit with the kids, so we said, “Yes!”

We left last Tuesday afternoon after our morning commitments of Classical Conversations and preschool and headed for Virginia’s Historic Triangle (Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown).  Lindsay was excited to go back to the state of her birth and to a place we had visited with her as an infant.  About an hour outside  of Williamsburg, the kids were getting restless, so we began to play a game where we each stated our name and something we liked that started with the first letter of our name, then the following person had to repeat everyone’s information and add his own.  When it was Luke’s turn, we explained that he had to name something that started with an “L” like his name.  He responded, “My name is Luke and I like elbows!”  I guess he figured elbows was spelled “lbows!”  Then we played another game where we looked for all the letters of the alphabet on road signs.  The letter we had the hardest time finding was, surprisingly, letter J.  But we did find all 26 letters eventually!

When we arrived after 7pm, we enjoyed delicious chili that my mother-in-law had made for us in their apartment.  After a short visit with my in-laws and some planning for the next day, we went to our apartment to tuck three tired children into bed.

Wednesday morning found us touring Jamestown, site of the first permanent English settlement established in 1607 on the banks of the James River.  The marriage between Pocahontas and John Rolfe sealed peace for a little while between these English settlers and the Powhatan Indians.  We started with a short driving tour of the island where we saw deer which were not too afraid of humans.  They even posed for a few pictures!  We got out at Black Point for some pictures on the river and then went back to the visitor’s center.  After a brief history film, we ventured out into the cold to take in the sights.  We saw the Tercentennial Monument, built in 1907 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the landing at Jamestown.  We posed by the statue of Pocahontas and toured the church tower.  We walked to the sea wall and saw the statue of Captain John Smith.  Then we made our way to the Archaearium Museum where the kids were each given a picture of something to look for on display as a sort of scavenger hunt.  All items in this museum were Jamestown artifacts dug up on site, where excavations still continue.  Luke found his double sided fish hook, Lindsay found her “ear picker,” and Logan found his spiked tool.  We also saw on display the skeleton of a Jamestown settler who had died from a right knee gun shot wound.  J. R., as he was appropriately nicknamed, was found with the bullet still lodged in his knee.  It remains a mystery as to how he received the wound, but it was determined to be either murder or an accident.  It was quite interesting to my boys, and they had lots of questions!  After a quick trip through the visitor center’s gift shop for a flattened souvenir penny, we made the short drive back to Williamsburg for lunch at Friendly’s.

On Thursday, my in-laws left after their 5 day vacation to return to their home in South Carolina, so we toured on our own.  We drove back to Jamestown via the Colonial Parkway.  On the way, I noticed an American bald eagle perched in a tree.  We had been told that bald eagles make their nests all around the river, but we had not spied one until then.  We stopped at the Glasshouse at the entrance to Jamestown and watched as two glass blowers worked on reproductions of German ring glasses.  We learned what glass is made of and how hot the oven needs to be to achieve a melt.  It was an interesting process, and Logan was mesmerized as he watched the liquid glass become a drinking glass.  Visit this website for more information:

We had lunch back at our apartment and then spent the afternoon walking the streets of colonial Williamsburg and reading about life in the 17th century.  Jamestown was the capital of Virginia until the capital was moved to Middle Plantation, later renamed Williamsburg, in 1698.  We did a little shopping, added another souvenir penny to the boys’ collection, and toured the Wren Building of William and Mary College.  In those early days, the Wren Building was the first and only building of the college and it was where the students (only boys at the time) ate, slept, studied, and attended class.  We walked over to a huge field in the middle of campus and let the kids run and play.  We had received a dusting of snow the previous night, so the shady spots were still covered in white and the kids loved sliding and rolling down the hills.  We made the mile long walk back to our apartment, stopping to take pictures along the way of sheep, horses, fences, and historic homes.

On Friday, we drove to Yorktown and took in another history lesson of the Revolutionary War.  Yorktown is the site where Lord Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington, bringing an end to the last major battle of the American Revolution.  We did a walking tour of the historic sites, such as the Yorktown Victory Monument, Cornwallis’ Cave, the Nelson House, the pier and river walk on the York River.  We ate lunch at the Carrot Tree in the Cole Digges House.  We enjoyed walking a trail through the battle field and looking at Redoubts number 9 and 10 where the English were overtaken by the French and Americans.  The kids posed for pictures on cannons.

Then we drove back to Williamsburg and shopped at Wallace’s Trading Post, the Christmas Shop (where we got Lindsay a beautiful nesting Russian doll set), and the Yankee Candle store.  I don’t think I would have ever stopped at a Yankee Candle store if someone had not told me about it, but I’m glad we did.  Even Brad enjoyed it!  This was the biggest candle store I’ve ever been in.  You could hand dip your own candles, buy Christmas ornaments, fudge, popcorn, and so many other gifts.  The main room had the ceiling painted like the sky and it looked like a courtyard with a huge fountain and outdoor iron tables.  The Christmas shop featured “snow” every four minutes in the form of soap bubbles.  It was a very fun store!

The place where we stayed offered activities throughout the week.  On Friday night, we all headed to the basement to play Candy Bar BINGO.  It was the kids’ first time playing, and it was fun!  We were the first family to arrive, but a few minutes later another family of four came in, followed by several others.  After every number called out, Luke would ask me, “Do I have one?”  On the second round, Luke got 5 in a row and he quietly called out, “Bingo!”  His prize was a Kit Kat candy bar, and he was so proud!  Logan and Brad went on to win candy bars, too.  Lindsay and I didn’t win a thing all night, but we all sure had fun!

We came home Saturday at a leisurely pace.  It was so nice to get away and spend a little time with my in-laws and still count it as school!  Now that Williamsburg is checked off my list, another destination moves to the top!