Recipe – Mediterranean Beef and Pasta

mediterranean beef at happyhomefairy.comI was at the store the other day trying to figure out something to get to make for dinner and I thought of this yumminess.  So, I went to Happy Home Fairy to remind myself of the ingredient list and after searching and searching, I was so surprised to find that I have never posted this recipe!

This is one of those meals that I love to serve because both of my boys eat it without a fuss.


{{Knuckle bumps}}

Mediterranean Beef and Pasta

Ingredients –

  • 1 lb beef stew meat (or 1 lb ground beef, browned and drained)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 jar (4.5 oz) sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar (I like to use Paul Newman’s Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing)
  • 1 T drained capers
  • 1 T dried, minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked penne pasta
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions –

  • Spray 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In cooker, mix all ingredients except pasta, oil, pepper and cheese.
  • Cover; cook on Low heat setting 7 to 9 hours.*
  • About 15 minutes before serving, make pasta as directed on package. Stir pasta, oil and pepper into beef mixture. Serve with cheese.

*When I am short on time (what I really mean is when I don’t plan ahead), I use the ground beef version and cook it in a big covered pan for about 30 minutes – still delicious!


Happy Mediterranean Beef-ing! :-)

That Time I Was In a Talent Show With My Kids

FXtalentshow-14FXtalentshow-18FXtalentshow-19FXtalentshow-16FXtalentshow-15FXtalentshow-21A few weeks ago I signed myself and my boys up for our church’s annual Talent Show.

We decided to sing our favorite bedtime tune – “The Pajama Song” by Teatime With Tayla.  You can view it on YouTube HERE.  Be forewarned – it’s not the best song to actually sing right before bed as it might get your kids so hyped up it will take 9 hours and possibly some Benadryl to get them to calm down.

(I hope y’all know I am totally kidding about the Benadryl thing.  Lol.)

As the Talent Show approached, however, I started having second thoughts.

I mean, who was I kidding?  My kids RARELY do what I want them to do.  In fact, I began having visions of full blown tantrums center stage.  Not exactly the kind of talent I want them showing off, yah know?  But they were offering a Chick-fil-a dinner before the event, so I figured that was a point in our favor.

I was also doubting that it was a good idea for me to get up there and dance around in fairy wings because I am 32 now and all the mature moms I know lead beautiful, quiet lives without mismatched knee socks and overabundance of glitter.

In the end, though, we went for it.

And I’m so glad we did because it was SO. FUN.

The only setback was that Happy Baby got stage fright the second we stepped out in front of the crowd and he needed me to hold him through our entire performance.

I may be 32, but I danced and sang my way through a 3 minute song with a 30 lb. child on my hip and I did not fall over dead from exhaustion.

If that’s not talent, I don’t know what is.

– Julie :-)

Things I Wasn’t Prepared for About Motherhood

things I wasn't prepared for about motherhood at

I mentioned HERE that the books you read during pregnancy really don’t adequately prepare you for what’s coming.

So I thought I would jot down a few examples of things I wasn’t prepared for about motherhood (from this past week alone – ha!).

  • I wasn’t prepared for the giant bottle of unknown liquid that someone spilled in the back seat of a newly leased car.
  • I was not prepared to deal with the public tantrum that happened over something as bizarre as the mere thought of having to get his fingernails clipped.
  • I was not prepared for the way bedtime takes 3 hours.
  • I never thought I would get impatient with my kids, often feel like I am not disciplining them well, or make decisions about whether or not it’s okay to just let them pee in the parking lot of Target (it was an emergency).
  • When they voted me, “Most Likely to Succeed” in high school, I thought that meant becoming a well-known author or speaker.  As it is, I never thought that one day my success could be summed up as “Professional Puke Catcher.”
  • I didn’t see it coming that one of my kids would accidentally break my favorite plate and then color on the white fridge with red Sharpie.
  • I never thought I would become so knowledgable about how to get poo out of carpet.
  • I was not prepared for the utter humiliation of having an incredibly honest son announce to everyone after hugging me that my armpits smelled bad.
  • I never thought I would have the kids that like to wake up at 5 am.
  • I was not prepared for all. the. whiiiiiiining.
  • I did not imagine that one day I would be driving home from work and feel so tired and overwhelmed that I would have to call my mother-in-love to ask if she could take the boys to dinner so that I could have a few minutes to just breathe.  And get caught up on laundry.

If I can be completely honest (which, if you’re new here, is something I am very good at doing), I have struggled on weeks such as these with a feeling of disappointment with certain aspects of motherhood.

I think it kind of started with the 4 years of infertility that the hubs and I experienced before we got pregnant with Happy Buddy.  During that season I believe I put having children on a bit of a pedestal and conjured up in my head this notion that motherhood was only craft-making and laughter and healthy kids around the dinner table happily eating whatever amazing meal I had all kinds of time to prepare that day.

So of course when I was given kids who only eat 5 things and frequently throw up all over the carseat cover that I have no idea how to take off and wash, I have found myself, on occasion, to be a bit disillusioned.

Over the last couple of years, however, the Lord has been working out the fussy spirit in me that feels entitled to an unruffled, perfect life.  He is opening my eyes to see that everything above – everything about motherhood is an opportunity to worship Him, know Him more, and pour out His love on my precious kiddos.

And isn’t that what we want, sisters?  To be made more like Jesus?

  • When I am depleted, I find strength on my knees (1 Chronicles 16:11).
  • When my things break or get colored on, I remember that stuff doesn’t matter – He is all I need (Philippians 4:19).
  • When I am coming undone at the end of the day, I rest in His grace that is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).
  • When I am tempted to grow discouraged, I reflect on the daily bread He gives me (Luke 11:3).
  • When I am so, sooooo tired, my heart is encouraged by the truth of Psalm 73:26.
  • When I need a rescuer to take the boys for a few hours, I remember that my real Rescuer is Christ (Psalm 91:14-15).
  • When I bend low to wipe spills or scrub out stains, I am reminded of the position that Jesus preferred (Philippians 2:5-11).
  • When the whining makes me bristle in frustration, I remember that training children is both a process and a privilege (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
  • When I am tempted to long for my pre-kid days where life seemed easier and filled with more opportunities to go to the gym, I see that the challenges are causing me to bear fruit (James 1:4).
  • When my kids are sick, I am pointed to Christ who came to be our healer (Psalm 103:1-5).
  • When I want to do great things and be known and have the praise of man, I call to mind that my greatest accomplishment is actually in the quiet, faithful work of lovingly serving the ones that He has entrusted me with (Colossians 3:23).

The other day as I was rocking my poor, ill Happy Baby and he was clinging to me so close we were practically a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, he pressed his lips to my ear and whispered, “I love you, Mommy.”

As we sat there together, tears filled my eyes and pleasure filled my soul and suddenly the cleaning and changing and wiping and things breaking and Cloroxing and the holding and cooking (and often the holding while cooking) and driving and almost-losing-my-minding and praying and sacrificing and serving, all felt like an absolute breeze – a JOY even – in light of the gift that is motherhood.

So sweet mama who sometimes feels disappointed by motherhood, I pray He gives your heart a fresh perspective today.  A perspective that can see beyond the poo in the carpets and the sleepless nights and into the eyes of a Savior who considered it pure joy to give YOU everything He had.

Motherhood is teaching me this.

And I’m pretty sure that nothing else could have prepared me for the transforming power of that glorious truth.

– Julie :-)

Creation Book – FREE Printable!

FREE Printable Creation Book Craft at happyhomefairy.comI’m so excited about this little project I get to share with you today!  And just in time for Earth Day, too! It’s kind of hilarious because it has been a lonnnnng time coming.  I started making these books with my students back in October and I JUST NOW sent the last one home.  SHEESH.  With 2’s, usually everything they do is lightening fast.  They can bop from building with Duplos to eating 100 pretzels to tearing apart the kitchen center in about 14 seconds, but when it comes to projects like this, things are usually slow and steady. That and the fact that I didn’t know how to use the machine that puts the binding on books like this so they sat in my closet for about 3 months before I finally asked someone to help me because I needed the shelf space in my closet back. BWAAHAAAHAA!

*I got the inspiration for this book from The Preschool Experiment blog.*

It’s all very easy to put together. Before you begin, here are the supplies you will need…

  • FREE Printables below
  • Yellow and black construction paper, glue (page 1)
  • Cotton balls, blue tissue paper squares, glue (page 2)
  • Brown construction paper, green paint, green dot marker (optional) cut-out flowers, glue (page 3)
  • Yellow crayons, stickers (page 4)
  • Blue dot marker, bird and fish creation printable from HERE, glue (page 5)
  • Person cut-out, animal stickers, glue (page 6)
  • Blue paper circle, green tissue paper squares, red heart, glue (page 7)

As we worked on the different days of creation, I taught the kids the little song that is featured on each page.  It is sung to the tune of, “Frere Jacques.” creation book 1creation book 2creation book 3creation book 4creation book 5creation book 6creation book 7creation book cover

Click HERE for your FREE Printable Creation Book Cover

Click HERE for your FREE Printable Creation Book Pages

I hope you enjoy this project with your Happy Buddies and it helps them learn about the greatness, power, and beauty of our Creator. Happy Creation Book-ing! :-)

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:11

Piggy Cupcakes and Happy Baby’s 3rd Birthday

pig cupcakes at

Would you believe that Happy Baby turned 3 years old on Friday?!

When we started talking about what kind of party he wanted, he immediately said he wanted a Peppa Pig party.  To be gender correct, he actually insisted on it being a George Pig party (Peppa’s little brother).

About 2 days before the event, he changed his mind and asked for a minion party again, but I tricked him into keeping with the Peppa theme by promising to make him these unbelievably adorable piggy cupcakes.

Here is how I made them…pig cupcakes1

First, whip up a batch of cupcakes.  Then dye a can of vanilla frosting pink and frost the cupcakes.pig cupcake2

Cut a bunch of strawberry creme wafer cookies into small triangles (I bought these at Walmart).pig cupcake3

Use kitchen shears to cut a bunch of strawberry-flavored marshmallows in half.pig cupcake4

Place one marshmallow half on each cupcake.pig cupcake5

Place 2 of the wafer triangles on top of the cupcake.pig cupcake6

Add candy eyes (found at Walmart) and a pink icing snout.

piggy cupcakesAnnnnd you’re done!

Who needs minions when you’ve got these adorable oinkers?!

jet's party 1jet party2jet party1jet partyjet party cupcakejet party pigIt was a perfect day.  We decided at the last minute to host his party at a nearby park and Happy Baby loved having unlimited quantities of cousins, playground time, pizza, and Peppa.

I thought it interesting that Happy Baby’s birthday fell on Good Friday this year… A reminder of the darkness that surrounded the first several months of his birth, but how God brought about a glorious resurrection in his life and ours.

We are so grateful for this precious boy whose happy heart and sense of humor sprinkles our days with reminders of the unfailing faithfulness and mercies of Jesus.

Happy Piggy Cupcake-ing and Happy 3rd Birthday, Happy Baby – you are a treasure.


Happy Resurrection Day!


Yesterday was the annual family Easter egg hunt at my husband’s Grandmommy’s house.

Happy Buddy found the ‘Golden Egg’ and got to take home this special treat as his prize…easter6

I am not going to lie – I have already contemplated 3,000 different ways I can try to sneak that thing to Goodwill.  Before you think I have no heart, I feel the need to remind you that our house is about 1,000 square feet.  We practically need to build an addition on Happy Buddy’s bedroom to house this bunny.

Maybe he can just replace a dining room chair.

Or a bed, for that matter.


Happy Easter, sweet blog friends!

May you know the joy and hope of Christ’s love for you today.

– Julie :-)

“Let us thank the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was through His loving-kindness that we were born again to a new life and have a hope that never dies. This hope is ours because Jesus was raised from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3

Easter Conversation Cards – FREE Printable!

easter conversation cards at - these are ADORABLE

I apologize that this printable is coming in so close to Easter.  I promise I had good intentions to get it done earlier, but those good intentions got flushed when everyone in the house got sick this past weekend and instead of quiet, creative pockets of time, we were all draped over our beds under the influence of Tylenol and back-to-back Peppa Pig episodes.

In some of the more discouraging parts of the weekend I had to preach to myself that if Jesus endured the cross, I can endure a house full of angry germs.  And Resurrection Day is coming so I needed to fix my gaze on the hope that is mine through Jesus’ work on that cross – everlasting life in a place where sickness will be NO MORE.  I will be particularly happy not to have to clean out a puke bucket ever again.  Hallelujah!

So, without further ado, here are 16 fun and meaningful conversation starters for you to use around your Easter table this Sunday.

Easter-themed conversation cards! Perfect for our Easter family dinner!cards 1cards 2

Click HERE to download PAGE 1 of Easter Conversation Cards

Click HERE to download Page 2 of Easter Conversation Cards

*NOTE – You will need one plastic Easter egg and a few marshmallow PEEPS to complete a few of the conversation starters.

And if you’re looking for some yummy recipes to go with all of this amazing conversation, check out THIS POST featuring the BEST Easter dinner menu ever.

Now I’m off to take someone’s temperature!  Feel free to wipe down your computer with a Clorox wipe after reading this so our germs don’t hippity hop your way.

May the Lord bless you!

Happy Easter Conversation Card-ing! :-)