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What is contentment?

What IS contentment??? ~Is it having everything you ever wished for to come true? ~Is it having the perfect husband, kids or house? ~Is it...

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Tamales! Ole!

     Around these parts, tamales are a part of the New Years tradition. In fact, I had my very first tamale on New Years Eve on my 2nd mission trip to Mexico, as we were there over New Years...way back when I was barely 18. Now then, I didn't have enough sense to appreciate it those long years ago, probably because my only experience with Mexican food was Americanized tacos (which I still LOVE, by the way) and I didn't have a very adventuresome palate at the time.
   Anywho, a dear friend of mine recently mentioned that she would teach me how to make tamales, and not only did they turn out well, we had a ball doing it together. Something special about mamas in the kitchen together, no? Since I can't sit down with all of you and teach you how to do it, this is a good starting point.

    Here's where I started. I prefer green chile to red, so I wanted to use green. My friend recommended that we make chicken instead of pork because it goes so well with the green chile. So I FILLED my crock pot with Boneless, Skinless Chicken breasts and then made a spice/chile mix.

Recipe for Crock Pot:
  • 7-8 lbs of chicken breasts
  • 2 lbs of diced green chile (green chile from Hatch is best, but whatever you can find in the freezer aisle of your grocery will work)
  • 2 TBSP salt
  • 1-2 TBSP black pepper
  • 1TBSP ground cumin
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 large onion- chopped

    Instructions: Trim fat from chicken and arrange a single layer in bottom of crock pot. In a blender or Magic Bullet, give the rest of the ingredients a whirl until they are a smooth uniform consistency. Scoop some of the spice/chile mixture over the chicken. Repeat layers until crock pot is full, ending with remaining chile/spice mixture. Cover and cook on high for 8 hours.
    Chicken should be super tender and falling apart by then. Shred chicken with two forks, dice it with knives or toss it in your stand mixer and let it shred the chicken for you. Make sure you keep the juice that the chicken cooked in, we will use it later.
    Alternatively: you can boil the chicken in this spice/chile mix if you want it accomplished faster

    Next steps:
  • corn husks- a few bags will do, better to have too many in my opinion since they aren't going to go bad anytime soon
  • masa- I used 2 bags of premade masa from the freezer aisle, but if you want to make your own because you don't want to use lard, buy the bagged masa mix and use butter or shortening instead (make a big bowlful, how much you use will be determined by how thick you like your masa spread, how many you make, and the size of the corn husks)
  • shredded Mexican blend cheese....or colby jack, or cheddar or whatever you like

    Gather your supplies
  • large cooking pot with steamer insert
  • spreaders (back of a spoon, wide knife, small spatula)
  • a tray for the completed tamales
  • freezer bags if you're going to freeze some for a later date (good luck with that, by the way)
  • Something to cover the table, it gets a bit messy
  • a large bowl or one side of your sink to soak the corn husks in

  • soak the husks for a few minutes so they are flexible
  • mix some of the crock pot liquid into the masa to give it flavor and color (or save it and make chicken and green chile stew)
  • get all your supplies to the table and settle in
  • spread out a husk, smear masa  on the lower half (the wider end)
  • put some chicken in a line down the middle
  • sprinkle cheese over the chicken
  • wrap the side covered in masa over the chicken and cheese in the middle and fold the ends with no masa over the masa/chicken/cheese end
  • stack on a platter to wait until either frozen or steamed

    DONE! You did it! All that's left is to steam and enjoy!
  • Fresh tamales need to steam for about an hour
  • Frozen tamales need closer to an hour and a half
    Just pile them in the steamer basket (Open end UP so they don't fill with water) put a few inches of water in the bottom of the pot and boil gently with a lid on until masa is cooked and tamales are hot all the way through.

    A few notes:
  • If you plan to freeze your tamales, freeze them raw as the masa texture is better that way
  • These go FAST! At least they did at my house. Yes, I have teen-aged boys and Hercules, but I made 7 dozen and 6 dozen were gone in just a few short days. (I've hidden the last dozen so they can't steal them, HA)
  • Once they are steamed, they heat rather nicely in the microwave, so my family liked for me to steam more than needed for the evening meal, and then they would snag 2-3 on their way out the door each day for snacks. 
  • This is seriously labor intensive if you're doing it alone, so I recommend a tamale making party. Two friends helped me with the smearing and rolling and it took well over an hour to make the 7 dozen. SO...our next plan is to meet again, and each woman bring a different kind of meat/cheese combo, we will all work together and then trade some of each kind before we go home.

    And there you have it. Tamales are simple and I found them to be rather forgiving to this newbie. My family is already raving for more, so it looks like I'll be having another tamale-making party in the very near future. Let me know how yours turn out!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Bye Bye #PlateSpinner Hashtag!

As seen on Facebook today:

Working my last shift as the official Saturday Morning Snack Lady of Gym Magic.
I’ll be retiring the red polo in about an hour.
It’s been fun and such a blessing, but it’s time for a new adventure for Mama K.

8 years! Time to retire this old red polo.
8 years of Saturday mornings traded for 8 years of gymnastics lesson for my boys. Such a gift from Miss Nancy at Gym Magic. I am humbled and grateful for her generosity and it's time for me to share that gift with someone else.
As for me, I'll be taking suggestions on how to spend a Saturday morning as I don't know how to Saturday anymore but I'm willing to re-learn. *winks*

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Kristy's Birthday Gratitude

As seen on Facebook today:

Friends, I am humbled and honored that so many of you took time out of your day to wish me a happy birthday. You’re all so precious and I am glad you’re in my life! It’s been a wonderful day, full of laughter and parties and hilarious photo remakes and my boys and my extended family and cake. That’s a lot of ands, which means I had a lot of blessings today. Thanks for being part of it! 

feeling blessed at The Man Crew House.

Photo Remakes are Hilarious!

Tonight at my birthday party, we asked all the boys to indulge us by taking a remake photo. It is a combo of two "cousin" photos at the family Christmas party from way back in 2011. This is the hilarious result.
Oh my word...these boys! They fill my heart.

Pat 18, Titus 9, D***d 20, Tyler 24, Derek 12, James 15
These are the two originals. Just as good, only younger :)

Pat 12, Titus 3, D***d 14, Tyler 18, Derek 6, James 9

School Year Review: December 2017

We are wrapping up school for the holiday break. Here at The Smith Sisters School for Boys (the silly name we made up for our combined homeschool years ago), we have accomplished 85 days of lessons, meaning the school year is already almost half over, can you believe that?! If you have a student in any of the local schools in Las Cruces, your child has accomplished approximately the same amount. Hooray for all the hard work we’ve put in already this year!

Mr. T and Slick have been hard at work this year learning the 3 Rs plus with “Aunt Jodi Mom” every morning and learning Bible, Science, History, Geography, Art, Music and various other topics with “Aunt Kristy Mama” in the afternoons. Both are thriving with working together, as they have generally been only students in their class at home previous to this. Jodi and I are so proud of their effort this year and can’t wait to see where the rest of this school year takes us. 
Happy Holidays, friends! Enjoy the tail end of 2017 and call a hearty welcome to 2018!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Finding Contentment Along the Way

Good morning and Happy Friday!
I’m starting my day at the office with Christmas music courtesy of Pandora, while I sip Earl Grey and update our website.
Here’s hoping you have a day that’s just right for you!
feeling content at Learn for a Lifetime.

Mmm, Earl Grey and Chex Mix

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Baby Caden: 10 Months

As posted on Facebook tonight:

Friends, I try not to be “that” grandma, you know the one who thinks her grandchild is the smartest, cutest, most wonderful baby to ever grace the planet. And shoves their pictures straight up in your face at EVERY opportunity...

This kid...his sweet "Precious Moments" face!

It’s just that he is and I’m right.

feeling so in love with this little sweet-cheeked grandbaby of mine.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Baby Caden: 10 Months Old

This adorable little snow-baby played in the snow for the first time today and loved it! Then he showed me all his new tricks when we had our weekly Skype date. This week he learned how to clap and to hoot like an owl. I {Heart} him so much!

feeling in love.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Pretty Gift from Dastroyah/It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

As seen on Facebook today.

It’s been a pleasant day full of friendly faces, yummy treats, great stories and much laughter all while accomplishing much from the to do list.
Time to put the final touches on the day and call it a night.

This is an early Christmas gift from Dastroyah, who brought it to me all the way from Italy. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

It Is Holiday Hustle Time!

This last week saw Thanksgiving arrive and depart, leaving the Holiday Hustle in its wake. 
The holidays are upon us, friends. And whether you celebrate Christmas, observe Hanukkah, enjoy Kwanzaa, or you’re too cool for Yule, the holidays always mean an avalanche of extra events to attend, cookies to bake, and gifts to purchase. 
Consider this a friendly reminder of two kinds...

1. Plan, plan, plan! Sit down with your calendar at your earliest opportunity and put a few things down in stone (things that are very important to you and your family), put a few things in pencil that would be nice if there is time or other things don’t get scheduled on those days, and especially pen in a few days to stay home with family to rest, relax and enjoy your family. 

2. It’s OK to say no to things that don’t fit with your family’s schedule or priorities. Don’t be guilted into taking on so much that you can’t enjoy the holiday with your family. 

The holidays don’t have to be the most stressful time of the year. Take time to enjoy them with those you hold nearest and dearest.
In other news, take lots of pictures.
Because otherwise, moments like this eventually slip from your mind.
PattyCakes donned the tree skirt like it was a kilt and things just got funnier from there. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Baby Caden Learns a New Trick

Look what this little monster learned how to do today!!

The caption on FB read:  This is the look of “ hey Mom look what I can do....why do you look so upset?”
He is growing up too fast.
feeling heartbroken.

{Grand}MamaK is so proud of your new skill, little one!

My Blogging Posts are WAY Up!

I've officially blogged more this year than any other year ever, except for 2009. I'm pretty excited about it. I've got at least 2 series that I need to finish (and one of them still has 80 posts left to go) so I'll more than clear my 2009 record before the year is out.
I'm pleased for two reasons:

1. I've got TIME to share things again. Making some life changes so that I could retire my #PlateSpinner tag leaves me time to actually write a post more than once every month, aside from my No Pants April posts. Hooray for the #NoLongerAPlateSpinner life!

2. I've got something to share again. For a few years, between being beyond busy and dealing with depression/anxiety/personal issues, I haven't felt like I had much to share or anything that anyone wanted to hear. Thankfully, that season is passing and I'm feeling ready to share again. 

So, strap yourselves in, there is going to be plenty to read and laugh about again in the near future and I'm loving it. Thank you to all who read.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Adventures in Learning with Mr. T and Slick: Week 4

Can you believe we've already completed 4 full weeks of school? As a teacher/mama who generally isn't even starting until now, it's hard to wrap my mind around the fact that we've got a solid month of school under our belts already.

Anyone want to guess what we are studying this week?
You guessed it, we've arrived in Egypt for a few weeks of in depth study. We are learning about the Nile River, the Pharaohs, the pyramids, and which of Noah's descendants migrated to this area after the incident at Tower of Babel.
A reenactment of the battle for the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. Over all, we (including me) are learning a bunch and having a good time doing it

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Adventures in Learning with Mr. T and Slick: Week 3

During Week 3, Mr. T and Slick's main focus was learning about the Tower of Babel, the Fertile Crescent and starting to learn the books of the Old Testament. The learned how to draw a map of the Bible lands (where all our study of history this year will take place) and a silly sentence to remember the names of the places on the map. I was very proud of their diligence this week because learning to draw a map full of names that make no sense to you is difficult, and they were champs. Also, the books of the Old Testament are some serious tongue-twisters and both of the boys tried really hard to learn to say (and spell) them correctly. It is a work in progress, but that's ok. Our current read-aloud book is The Tanglewoods' Secret about a little boy and girl living with their aunt. It's delightful and the boys are enjoying read-aloud time quite a bit.

Mr. T is working hard on his Bible Lands drawing.
Say the silly sentence with me, "E.T. Purrs in the Red Nile Med."
Ask the boys what that means next time you see them.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

On Packing Lunches for The Man Crew

Healthy Lunch Choices
Hi Friends, now that the initial excitement of a new school year has begun to wane, does the thought of packing eleventy billion lunches this year have you feeling less than thrilled? Have you considered streamlining the process by doing something like this? Getting ahead is always always ALWAYS better than being behind, don't ya think?


I use a modified version of this system (OK, OK, when I remember to plan ahead, I use this system) to keep mouths full of delicious and nutritious things. I don't make sandwiches ahead, but I keep supplies on hand to make them quick and easy. I did even splurge recently on getting the little packets of mustard and mayo so we don't eat soggy sandwiches all week. I spend a little time over the weekend to chop veggies, prep drinks (We aren't big into juice boxes or Capri Sun, so I fill our reusable water bottles with water, or iced tea) and make sure there is plenty of fruit, nut and cheese choices ready to grab on the way out the door.
In the mornings, we make a quick sandwich (or cracker, meat, cheese choices) and toss in some fruit, nut, veggie options, grab a water bottle and we're out the door.

In other news, DT and I are considering upgrading to Bento Boxes for our lunches at work. Anyone have a great one to recommend? I'd love glass, but with all the bumping and "oops"es we have in our life, I'm not convinced this is a good idea. Steel is the next best...who has a favorite brand?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Decade of Sharing?

Hi friends, it occurred to me a few days ago that it's now been a decade of our fun together in my little slice of cyberspace.

10 whole years of funny stories, adorable photos, deep heart sharing and random silliness. You've all watched my children grow up, my marriage grow and change, and walked with me through the valley of the past few years of struggle.

 Thank you all so much for journeying with me. Here's to the next decade together! In honor of 10 years together, a quick list of a few faves from over the years.
  1. http://themancrew.blogspot.com/2008/06/what-is-contentment.html
  2. http://themancrew.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-best-thing-ive-heard-all-week.html
  3. http://themancrew.blogspot.com/2007/08/were-moving.html
  4. http://themancrew.blogspot.com/2017/02/welcome-baby-caden-robert.html
  5. http://themancrew.blogspot.com/2017/06/its-little-things.html
  6. http://themancrew.blogspot.com/2014/11/catching-up-with-us-meyers.html
  7. http://themancrew.blogspot.com/2010/05/wordless-wednesday_27.html
  8. http://themancrew.blogspot.com/2009/12/simple-womans-daybook.html
  9. http://themancrew.blogspot.com/2017/04/no-pants-april-day-24.html
  10. http://themancrew.blogspot.com/2009/12/big-trip-days-11-and-12.html

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Adventures with Mr. T and Slick: Week 2

Week two started off really well with Mr. T and Slick digging into Adam and Eve's original sin. How often we are quick to blame others and try to cover up our own sin. :( And how quickly the whole world went to shambles once sin entered the world.
We started read aloud time this week, music studies (Hello, Vivaldi!) and added a few things to our timelines. The boys love coloring their timeline pieces and them laminating them. We worked on adding a few pages to our history notebooks, and the boys' sentence structure is improving already.
We learned about the four types of energy this week and it was a delight for me to see the understanding dawn in their eyes as we tried different activities and had much dialouge about the differing types.
Circle time continues to be a hit, and the boys are doing so well with their speech ideas and Scripture memorization. Mr. T in particular always has something to share.
Areas of focus this week at circle time are days of the week and months of the year. And remembering to sit still at circle time. LOL!

Follow along with us this year as we learn about His Story from the Creation to the Greeks!

Four types on Energy! I don't know about them, but I'M learning so much :)

Heloooooo, Antonio Vivaldi! It's been lovely listening to the Four Seasons all week long.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Schooling with Mr. T and Slick: Week 1

     Mr. T and Slick have hit the ground running and are enjoying their first week of school. Jodi is doing some assessments with them this week to be sure of their reading and arithmetic levels before she starts assigning work. Together, the boys and I (Kristy) are slowly working our way up to a full afternoon, so we are starting off slowly with Circle Time, Bible and some history. We are going to be learning about public speaking this year, so it's something we are focusing on in Circle Time. Both of them are NOT shy and aren't afraid to ramble on and on, so making sure we don't overshoot our planned speech time may turn out to be more of a challenge than making sure we talk long enough.
     Week 1 of My Father's World has us studying the days of Creation, reciting 2 Timothy 3:16 and dabbling in art. Mr. T LOVES art, and Slick tolerates art, so it will be a bit of a trick this year to balance the projects out so that they are both pleased. These next few weeks, we will be covering some art basics, like drawing straight lines, working on ellipses and learning about not getting frustrated by not being a perfect artist from day one. First project was to draw with a pencil in their mouth, after learning about Joni Eareckson Tada, who is a very talented artist despite being a quadriplegic. They both loved this project and in fact, have recreated it several times on their own time. They've learned how to work together on something they can't do on their own, like take the cap off of a marker.
     We are also studying The Sabbath, which is a great reminder to the adults as well, since Jodi and I both work many hours, at work and at home. We baked Challah bread and made table coverings. Slick was especially interested in the resting part of Sabbath, although he seems convinced that resting means he can have unlimited time on his tablet for the 24 hours. LOL! I'm working on Slick's schedule to keep it reasonable as he currently practices gymnastics for 12 hours a week and attends youth group activities twice a week.
     We had our first synergy group meeting this week and while we were missing a student, we enjoyed ourselves quite a bit. We did a science experiment, we baked bread, and we had our first official speech opportunity.

     Follow along with us this year as we learn about His Story from the Creation to the Greeks!
SCIENCE!! Whenever I say we are going to do a science lesson, they both shout, "SCIENCE!!"

Slick hard at work coloring the days of creation.

Friday, July 14, 2017

#100HappyDays: Day 46

Day 46 of #100HappyDays

I got to drive this beauty all day long. DT and I did not want to give it back. New cars have lots of fun buttons, great air conditioning and Bluetooth so my fave Pandora station just automatically came on and the GPS directions played over the stereo speakers, Woot! Thanks for the upgrade, Enterprise!


In other news, I should NOT be allowed to have a fast, powerful car. It went straight to my head and I felt very cool and I wanted to race EVERYONE! Perhaps my children's love of racing come at least partially from Mama. Oops

feeling happy at Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

#100HappyDays: Day 45

Day 45 of #100HappyDays
These two handsome devils, accidentally wearing matching shirts to Community Group tonight. Alexandra always says we married the same man, except that her version is black and mine is white, LOL! So glad for friends like Alexandra N Tommyt Howard!

feeling happy with Alexandra N Tommyt Howard and Daniel Meyer.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

#100HappyDays: Day 44

Day 44 of #100HappyDays
I will NEVER get tired of this view. It takes my breath away, every single day. One can hardly complain about a work commute that includes this glory, am-I-right?!

Edited to add: When we moved here, I had never even considered wanting to live by the mountains, but let me tell you, I'm a convert. These mountains remind me so clearly every day of the Creator God who created them a millennia ago and knew that here I would be in 2017 looking at them and appreciating them. Whenever we travel, they are the first landmark that reminds us we are almost home. They keep us from getting lost while we cruise around the city. They give my rambunctious young men somewhere to run off their endless energy. They are simply stunning.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Best Thing I've Heard All Week

     A brilliant friend of mine (Hi Amy!!) called her new boyfriend a 'gentleman savage' on Facebook this week, and it struck a chord in me. It's quite possibly the best description of what I want my boys to be when they are grown. I want them to be wild and free, but with a heart for Jesus, good manners (as needed), great work ethic, and a tender love for their spouses and children.
     I've often called my sons wild hooligans and this is often a good reflection of them, as they are loud, rowdy and sometimes (OK, often) obnoxious. I've even been known to call my children feral, and this is occasionally true of their behavior. However, both of these less-than-stellar nicknames are said with much affection and deep love and they don't appear to be offended by either one.
     This is my life as their mama in a nutshell. Dastroyah decided this weekend after church that he was going to turn his much beloved Pathfinder into a dune buggy of sorts, and there was MUCH laughter in the front yard as the best demolition crew in the lower 48 tore that poor thing to bits. Once they were satisfied that it looked the way they wanted, Dastroyah, PattyCakes, Alex and Nathan piled in for a test run. They were shirtless, filthy, and loud, and for a split second I considered hushing them and telling them to clean up and get shirts on before they headed out. But another split second later, listening to them laugh together and watching the camaraderie between all of them, I swallowed my desire to hush them and just enjoyed watching them drive away with their arms, mouths, and legs flying. I dared a peek at Hercules who was supervising the buggy project while working on his Beast of a Truck, and the joy in his eyes was unmistakable from the time spent with them. A few minutes later, they returned and all tried to shout over one another to tell us how the test drive went and how they were already making plans to change this or that. Then they went in the house, ate everything, cleaned up a little and tumbled out the door again like a rabid 4 headed Tasmanian devil to share their special brand of crazy with someone else. One of them even remembered to bellow thank you as they went out the door.

And so they are...wild and free, but with a heart for Jesus, good manners (as needed), great work ethic, and a tender love for their mama.
My work here is done.


#100HappyDays: Day 43


Day 43 of #100HappyDays
I've tried not to share more than one photo for each of these posts, and I've also tried to avoid making collages, but these were too cute not to share! As I looked through my SnapChat pics today, I discovered these of DT and Judah from Sunday.

I love-Love-LOVE that my boys love little ones so much! They all take such good care of any little one who passes through our door
and our arms.

Please to note that in one of the photos, Judah has fallen asleep. He crawled up on DT's lap and they played until he just conked out. Precious!

— feeling happy with Victoria Sanchez, Derek Meyer and Ricky Bean at The Man Crew House.

Monday, July 10, 2017

#100HappyDays: Day 42

Day 42 of #100HappyDays
Presents in the mail! My friend Kimmy made me some cool bags for toting around all my schtuff. They are all lined with PUL so I can use them to hold wet things or things that might leak, or that neeeeed to stay dry (like snacks). Several sizes, some with handles and fun fabric choices (those were a surprise).
Thanks so much Kimberly! It was such a treat to find these in the mailbox today

feeling happy with Kimberly 'Bookwalter' Terrill at The Man Crew House.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

#100HappyDays: Day 41

Day 41 of #100HappyDays
Mr. T's golden birthday. It was a sweet celebration for the baby of the whole family.
Good times were had by all. 💗 — feeling happy
— with Jodi Starnes.

Oh goodness, this party was the best! ALL THE HANDSOME showed up in full force and the hilarity ensued. There was much laughter and story-telling, and at some point in time, Alec ended up on the roof of Pat's car, courtesy of Nathan. Titus was thrilled that he had BIG BOYS at his party, and it was glorious.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

#100HappyDays: Day 40

Day 40 of #100HappyDays
Seeing "Singin' In The Rain" at the Rio Grande Theatre downtown Las Cruces with Jodi and her boys.


In other related news, does anyone else think that Donald O'Connor is a better dancer than Gene Kelly? — feeling happy at Rio Grande Theatre.

Now that I'm #NoLongerAPlateSpinner, I'm trying to attend social/cultural events more often. Working like crazy until you die from exhaustion is crazy, it's time to have some fun along the way!

Friday, July 7, 2017

#100HappyDays: Day 39


Day 39 of #100HappyDays
I love SnapChat filters. They make me happy, because they erase my wrinkles and make me appear far more fun than I actually am. And because I love random silliness. LOL!

#FiltersForDays — feeling happy at The Man Crew House.

Yes, I'm aware that this isn't actually a very flattering photo, but for some reason, I just love it. Makes me glad that I'm me, ya know? And when that happens, you cherish it.
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