Brunswick Stew- Instant Pot Style

This recipe was Garen’s request for me to make in the Instant Pot so it was the first recipe that required more than 3 ingredients. I was a little leery since I’d never had Brunswick Stew and didn’t even know what to expect. As I always do when cooking something I don’t have a go-to recipe for, I went to Pinterest. I didn’t find an Instant Pot version I liked but I did find this slow cooker version from Rosie at i heart Recipes. I used this for an “outline” and tweeked it to work for what I had and to cook in the Instant Pot.

This recipe is fantastic. Really. I can’t make it up. Garen thought it was the best recipe I’ve ever made. The littles even liked it, making it even better in my book!!!

I used the Easiest Pulled Pork Ever recipe and shredded chicken that I made earlier in the day for it. You could easily use another recipe or even store-bought pulled pork.

Here it is- Brunswick Stew, Instant Pot Style


  • 2 Cups Pulled Pork
  • 2 Cups shredded chicken
  • 1 Red onion, diced
  • 1 Can Roasted Diced Tomatoes
  • 6 Cups Chicken broth (I substituted 1 cup for juice from the pulled pork to use what I had)
  • Frozen okra, 12 oz
  • Frozen peas, 6 oz (half bag)
  • Frozen corn, 12 oz
  • Frozen lima beans, 12 oz
  • 3 Small sweet potatoes, pealed and cubed
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Cup BBQ sauce (I used half Rudy’s and half Sweet Baby Ray’s since that all I had)
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2-1/2 tsp Seasoning salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Black pepper


  • Add all of the ingredients into the 8 qt Instant Pot bowl (if your Instant Pot is smaller, you may have to adjust the recipe to not fill it past the max fill)
  • Mix all ingredients very well
  • Put the lid on, close it completely, and close the vent
  • Press Manual setting and set for 15 minutes. It will take a long time to get pressured because it will be almost to the max fill line. It will shift from On to the number of minutes remaining to cook
  • Once time is up, let it natural release for 10 minutes before opening the lid.  This ensures the meat is tender and juicy.
  • Open the lid. Check to make sure the potatoes are cooked completely. The meat was already cooked so the main thing is that you’re letting the veggies cook and that everything soaked up the wonderful flavors.
  • Enjoy.

Like I said, this stuff is wonderful. It’s not your typical soup/stew and I’m soooo glad Garen wanted me to try this recipe out!

Happy Instant Potting!


Getting Started with My New Toy, the Instant Pot

On Friday I turned 35 and one of the awesome gifts I got was an Instant Pot.  Garen got it for me.  He also got me a new diamond bracelet so he’s officially the best husband EVER.  He knew that I’d never buy one of these myself.  Plus, he also knew that I’d never get it out of the box and going on my own.  Technology and I have a love-hate relationship.  I love it but hate how intimidating it is to me.

We got it going yesterday afternoon with the water test and I cooked my first frozen chicken last night.  It worked like a charm.  And just like that, I was hooked…. just like everyone else that has one and has tried it.

Getting Started with my Instant PotToday I took advantage of the day at home and cooked up a round of food to get us started including:

Click on the links above to check out the recipes, all of which turned out great!  I’m just getting started so stay tuned to check out my experiments with my newest toy.

Happy Instant Potting!

Mommy Review Monday: Stride Rite made2play® Phibian Sneaker Sandal

Are your kids hard on play shoes? Mine are. That was really a stupid question. What kid isn’t hard on shoes???

We go through a lot in our house. Fast.

I had been watching Facebook ads for Stride Rite made2play® Phibian Sneaker Sandal for a while but, being the semi-tightwad that I am, I wasn’t wanting to spend that much on a pair of shoes that looked like a glorified mixture of Keens and Crocs.

Finally, I was in Kid to Kid, my favorite local resale shop, when I spotted a pair of pink ones in Anna’s size that looked barely worn. They were still asking $15 for them, which is more than I really wanted to spend for a pair of gently used shoes…. even if they were Stride Rite. I went ahead and did it so I could try them out though.

stride rite made2play® phibian sneaker sandalAnd I’m so glad I did. Here’s why I love the Stride Rite made2play® Phibian Sneaker Sandals:

  • They held up beautifully! That used pair…I actually packed it away to save for the littles- even after Anna wore them for a year and who knows who wore them before that! I have since bought Will a pair. We bought them in the spring last year and they still look pretty good, which is amazing because he’s the hardest on shoes of all of my kiddos.
  • They clean easily. They’re kind of plasticish (I know that’s not a word but you get what I mean) so they wash off easily with just plane water and soap. I’ve never tried washing them in the washer because I haven’t ever needed to, although they say their machine washable so it must be ok!
  • Parents who hate tying shoes over and over again for kids that should be able to tie their own darned shoes- rejoice.  No laces!  Easy-on-and-off is a wonderful feature.
  • They come in pretty cool colors that aren’t all that crazy… or with cheesy characters on them- which is a little rare for easy-on/off shoes.
  • They can wear them with or without socks comfortably.
  • They seem super comfy because my kids wear them all the time….or they can’t find their other shoes.  One of the two is correct.
  • They dry out quickly.  If your kids like to stomp in water or you’re going somewhere wet (think the beach or an amusement park), these are perfect.  Or…if your kids have sweaty, stinky feet like mine do, they’re pretty good for that too.  They smell less than any other pair of tennis shoes we’ve ever bought the kids even though they are being worn more.
  • The price is right.  $35 may seem high but it really isn’t for a pair that lasts an entire year to constant activity and wear, stays comfy, looks good, and can be worn in wet conditions.  Oh, yeah- and can still be handed down to the next lucky kiddo in line.  If they wear them for only 130 days, that’s just over $.26 a day.

Stride Rite made2play® Phibian Sneaker SandalsYou got it “rite” this time, Stride Rite.  Yes, I know…. cheesy.  Will would be embarrassed of that cheesy mom joke!

But seriously, I the Stride Rite made2play® Phibian Sneaker Sandals will be the next pair of shoes I buy for Clara and Kate- in the new metallic purple and pink since those are “their colors.”

For the record- I bought these shoes and am receiving no payment, etc. for this review.  The rambling review is mine, all mine.

Sweet Sunday: Anna’s Got Cookies

Anna has her cookies and has been selling them all weekend.

I’m a little partial but I think she’s the cutest Daisy ever. I mean, really how could you say no to this face?!?

We’ve really had such a fun time and got to enjoy a girls night together on Friday night since the boys and littles went to Hamilton to work on Will’s Pinewood Derby car.

Here’s her sales pitch:

This is her first year to sell cookies and I’m impressed that they have online sales available. If you’d like to buy from Anna, you can click here to have cookies shipped directly to you. How great is that?!?So now I’ve got Girl Scouts cookies in my house. Soooo tempting. Thank goodness I saved a few of my WW weekly points so I could eat quite a few this weekend. Totally worth it!

What’s Your Favorite Flavor?

Tomorrow morning, I’ll officially be a “cookie mom.”  You know, the crazy ladies dragging their little girls around selling those addicting little round morsels of joy???  For those of you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m speaking of the ever-popular Girl Scout Cookies.

That’s right, folks.  Cookie Season officially kicks off tomorrow.

And, glutten-for-punishment that I am, I will be braving one of the few freezing days here in Texas to go stand in line at the zoo to pick up these boxes of tastiness.

With that said, it will all be worth it when I have 2 cases of Thin Mints in the back of my Expedition. Yummy! Yes, I’ve already calculated the Weight Watchers points.

What’s your favorite flavor???

Mommy Review Monday: ezpz Happy Mat – One-piece silicone placemat + plate

DISCLOSURE: Due to the recent iPhone update my i’s are now malfunctioning. I️ am NOT going back through to fix. I’m too frustrated. Sorry folks.

It’s borderline Migraine Monday instead of Mommy Review Monday so this will be a sort one today so I can get off to bed. I should apologize to those who get actual migraines because I️ realize my headache isn’t really a migraine since I️ can manage to look at the screen.

I’ll thank the black beans all over the floor and the screaming toddlers for the tension headache. With that said, I’ll move onto our review of the day, the ezpz Happy Mat, without which there would’ve been many more beans on the floor.


  • Cost. $24.99 may seem like a lot but if you use I️t every meal, I️t pays for itself pretty quickly.
  • Hardiness. It’s made of silicone so you know it’s tough. And unlike your friends’ fake boobs, these don’t have to be hand-washed. You can stick them in the lower rack of your dishwasher time after time.
  • Dividers. Since so many kids are funny about not mixing foods, this is a great feature.
  • Protection. The full placemats give your table the armor it needs against banging silverware and/or sippy cups.
  • Stay-put-ness. I️ realize that’s a made up word but you get the point. No pates thrown across the room. As I️ said earlier, had we served black beans on a regular plate, they would’ve been everywhere. This plate-mat stayed in place throughout Clara’s mid-dinner temper tantrum.


  • Fit on High Chair Trays. They don’t fit on high chair trays. I️ know that’s not really what they’re made for so I️ really have a hard time declaring that a con but I️ do want to make sure no one assumes they’ll work that way. They do make a smaller version, the Mini Mat but it still may or may not work on your high chair tray.
  • Only Stick on Hard, Level Surfaces. Again, this seems common sense but they don’t stick or suction themselves down to fabric tablecloths or very unlevel surface. They’re still nice to use to protect your nice fabric tablecloth but there is the chance they could still move. We used a nylon table cloth at Halloween though and it still worked pretty well.

All together, these Happy Mats are what the brand name explains, ezpz. They’re a great gift idea, especially paired with these bibs. I’d buy another. In fact, I may buy another set for when one set is dirty. I’m not sure if that’s lazy or smart.

Happy Monday!!!

Tips for First Haircuts for Two Year Old Twins

Yesterday Clara and Kate got their first hair cut. As you can see below, their hair is quite different. Clara’s is brown, longer, has a hint of curl, and is a bit thinner. Kate’s is blondish, shorter, straight as a board, and a little thicker.

We needed to clean up Kate’s mullet (for a good laugh listen to The Ballet of Eddie Mullet) and Clara’s stringy-ness. So off to the mall we went since I trust the team at Regis with their hair. I honestly didn’t plan this more than a day out because I knew I’d find an excuse to not do it. Just call me the queen of procrastination.

Garen was out of town so I was going at it alone. Every once in a while I get the urge to do things with them like this by myself just to prove to myself that I’m capable. Sad? Maybe…

But I did get a few tips to share out of the experience for first haircuts with twins at two years old. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Go somewhere they know you. This may sound trivial but the whole team at Regis knows me and my family, so they welcomed them in, which made the girls feel special. It did cost more than I typically would want to spend on a kids haircut but it’s better than having a freaked out kiddo.
  • See if they’ll give you a free chair for one of the girls to sit in and watch close by while the other gets her hair done.
  • Let them observe someone else getting their hair cut first so they can know what to expect.
  • Get them excited about it before you go.
  • Take toys like a drawing pad and little stuffed animals. We let the girls take their backpacks that have a couple of diapers and wipes each, small Sesame Street characters, and a chalkboard set from Aunt Haley, plus a snack catcher of Cheerios. Of that, I’d reconsider the Cheerios, which ended up going everywhere at some point. I’d probably do pretzels or veggie sticks.
  • Let them hold a comb or spray water bottle. This worked well to keep them occupied during the actual haircuts.
  • When the hairdresser needs them to look down to get the back of their hair, tell them to look at their belly button.
  • Make sure they’re high enough to see the mirror. They like to watch themselves.
  • Decide ahead of time if you want to keep a lock of their hair or not. If so, bring something to keep them in separately and label them ahead of time to make it easy.
  • I’ve seen a lot of friends who hold their kids if they’re too scared. This could be an option to consider the first time, although it does make it more difficult for the hairdresser.

My girls did great. It was actually way easier than I anticipated. Here’s a few photos from the experience. So serious always!Clara enjoyed lounging around until her turn!Kate enjoyed snacking too. This is the best we could do to get them both to look at the camera. Imagine that. You can see that now Kate has a bob instead of a mullet and Clara has bangs.

If you’re planning your kids’ or kiddos’ first haircuts, the above tips will likely help.

What other tips do you have? I can always use them for the next round!