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About Amanda Brown

If you are new to AmandaJaneBrown, I would love for you to subscribe for free updates! You can subscribe via Email or RSS Feed. I would also love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for stopping by!

Tay Morgan Easter Egg Giveaway

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I love Easter.  Everything about it.  The colors, the food, the traditions, the promise of new life!

One of our family’s favorite Easter traditions is collecting Tay Morgan Designs personalized wooden eggs.  You may recognize her trademark design as these adorable keepsakes have quickly become a Mississippi Easter tradition.  Tay is giving away one of her eggs here at the blog this week!  The winner can choose between these two designs, and Tay will personalize the egg and ship it straight to your home!

1) Snuggle Bunny and Bee or 2) Hearts with Bible Verse
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A few of our favorites…

Ballerina
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Pine Cove Family Camp egg!

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Tay’s eggs are so fun display in a fishbowl in the middle of your kitchen table or coffee table.  Our kids love to peek through to find their special eggs every year.

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This year I changed it up a bit and put a few in this wooden box and love the sweetness it brings to my kitchen hutch!

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So…I’d love to give away one of Tay’s eggs to you!  Entering to win is super simple!

Just one requirement to enter and you will receive two entries for it…

“Like” Tay Morgan Designs and Amanda Jane Brown on Facebook and simply leave me a comment here at the blog saying you did (or already do!).

For an extra TWO entries, share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let me know you did.

Giveaway ends next Tuesday, April 8th, at noon.

Start your Tay Morgan Designs Easter egg tradition this Easter!  You can order your school logos, sports or other activities, favorite camp, or other design.  Visit Tay’s Facebook page to see her work!

Seasoned Chicken Wraps

SeasonedChickenWraps

SeasonedChickenWraps
Many years ago when I was a newlywed learning to cook, and Pampered Chef parties were all the rage, a friend shared these Seasoned Chicken Wraps with me, and we’ve been eating them ever since!  It was so long ago, I cannot remember who gave this to me, but I believe the original recipe was from Pampered Chef.  The following version is a bit different from the original, so you feel free to tweak the seasonings to your family’s taste as well!

Seasoned Chicken Wraps

Preheat oven to 375°.

1 pkg Crescent rolls (8 count)
2-3 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
8 oz block cream cheese, softened
1 box chicken-flavored Stove Top stuffing mix
3 T. melted butter, divided
Salt/Pepper to taste

First, boil the chicken breasts.  For quick meal prep, cook these ahead of time. To get tender, flavorful boiled chicken, bring a large pot of water with a stalk of celery and 1/2 an onion to a rolling boil.  Add chicken breasts and boil uncovered 12 minutes.  Turn heat off, cover, and allow to sit for one hour.  Or boil it plain using same instructions, just without celery and onion.

Shred cooked chicken.  In a mixer, combine chicken, softened cream cheese, 6-8 T. or more (fine crumbs) of Stove Top stuffing mix, 1 T. melted butter, and salt and pepper to taste.  If you feel it needs more flavor for your taste, add desired seasonings now.

Roll crescent dough out and separate into the 8 perforated triangles.  Spoon about 1/2 cup of chicken mixture onto each triangle.
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Roll each triangle starting from the long end.  Brush each wrap with remaining melted butter.  Then, sprinkle each wrap with more Stove Top mix, fine crumbs and some bigger, crunchy pieces.  Transfer wraps to a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until crescent rolls are lightly browned.

Serve immediately and enjoy!
SeasonedChickenWraps
Printable Recipe

Linking to:  Weekend Bloggy Reading

Getting Back to Normal

HeMakesAllThingsNew

HeMakesAllThingsNew
Hey there!  It’s been quite a while…I’ve sure missed being here and look forward to being back!

2013 was all over the map for me, literally and figuratively.  Indescribable joy, then grief. Sure and confident and prayerful in big decisions, then unsure, scared, and frighteningly far from God. Marriage connected and clicking, then disconnected and discombobulated. Expectant and proud and loving as a mama, then hopeless and discouraged and harsh. Satisfied, at-peace, and ever-so-thankful to be back in Mississippi, then grieving, restless, and overwhelmed over leaving Arkansas, especially as I watched my oldest children weep before bed.  Connected and filled up in friendship, then lonely and longing for connection.  Deeply satisfied in my work through the blog, then feeling like a fraud because my house was gross, dinner had consisted of frozen waffles and pizza for untold days, and a spirit of discord loomed in our home.  The roller coaster of the mind.

But alas, the start of a new year.  I know, I know, it’s already March, but nevertheless, 2014 has been a fresh start in so many ways…the hope of settledness that my heart has longed for here in Oxford after leaving our life in Arkansas.   I love the start of a new year.  And whew, am I glad it is here.  After renting for many months with all our “things” in storage, we bought a home, and my heart rejoices having our bed, our dishes, Lainey’s kitchen and costumes, our swing set, books, McCarty pottery, our bikes, favorite blankets, winter clothes (that we didn’t pack!), and Annie Sloan painted furniture…all the things that make us “us.”

We’ve also had a pretty emotional transition to a new town, a new house, new schools, new friends, new church, new, new, new.  And “new” gets old.  In addition this year, parenting has been particularly hard for me.  Unforeseen challenges that we’ve faced that have sapped me of energy and joy, yet a new year brings the reminder that God has not cut me loose to do this thing on my own.  Eternally grateful for that promise.

One of the biggest holes in my heart over these last months is being away from the blog…creativity, cooking, and most of all, the community.  Yet…my family needed me to take the break, not to mention every supply that I used to create a blog post was in storage…craft supplies, cookware, dishes, everything.  And although it is always fun to find out another family’s favorite recipe is from the blog, I’ve learned over the last year that there are seasons when I have to pull back and give everything to my people at home.  

Rest assured that easing back to the blog does not mean I’ve “arrived” as a parent of a middle-schooler (hardly), or that my house is decorated or even clean, or that there aren’t days I still struggle.  I simply want to get back to doing something I really love.  And God, in his gracious love for me, has granted me a *few* successes with my 7th grader, I’m tired of waffles and pizza, and I simply miss blogging as a hobby and part-time work.  My people here at home love the blog, they love the food that appears when I post recipes, and they love random holiday decorations:).  It has become their normal…so I am ready to get back…to normal.

So thanks for sticking with me.  And if you have a favorite recipe or seasonal decor idea you’d love for me to share here, please contact me!  I’m in the process of collecting fresh ideas and content, and readers and friends like you are who have the best input anyway!

Love,
Amanda
HeMakesAllThingsNew

 

 

Impact of Summer Camp-Pine Cove Camps

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Although today’s forecast for most of us included “blustery winds,” wind chills in the single digits, or snow and ice, today my mind is in a much warmer place…Pine Cove! Right after Christmas each year, we start planning summer, as you probably do if you have children. Sign-ups for activities and camps are taking place, and I want to encourage you to consider Pine Cove for your child!
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Our family has gone to Pine Cove Family Camp in Tyler, Texas for 10 summers, and last year was my oldest child’s first year at a separate kids’ camp down the road from Family Camp.  To say Maddie’s time at Pine Cove is her favorite week(s) of the year is an understatement, not to mention the spiritual impact Pine Cove has had on Maddie and our entire family over the years.
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Perhaps you are on the fence about sending your love to camp.  I urge you to read this short, impactful blog post from Kevin East, “Why Is Summer Camp So Good For Kids?”  Kevin has worked in camps for over 20 years and has some great insight from the other side of Christian camp.  And from my own personal experience, I can assure you Pine Cove Camps does a fantastic job of protecting our kids.  Click HERE to watch a short clip from one of our favorite Pine Cove staff talking about camper safety and what measures Pine Cove has gone to to ensure our kids are well-taken care of.

Christian camp was an integral part of my own childhood, and would you believe that I am still in touch with several friends I met at camp 30 years ago?!  There is something to be said for the relationships and bonds that are formed in the short, but concentrated time you spend at summer camp.  I urge you to take a look at all Pine Cove has to offer for your child or your entire family!

Pine Cove is offering a discount code to my readers for camp!  Please note that the discount will ONLY BE GOOD the day of MONDAY, FEBRUARY 3rd!  The offer includes $15 off Camp in the City, $25 off Overnight Youth Camp, and $100 off Family Camp.  Use code AMANDABLOG at checkout to receive the discount!

As always, if you have any questions about Pine Cove, I would be happy to answer them.  Email me to find out more!
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Creamy Sausage Dip

CreamySausageDip

CreamySausageDip
We all have our favorite go-to cheese dip recipes, and this simple Creamy Sausage Dip is one you definitely need to try!  I made it for the first time this weekend and it got thumbs up all around. With just three ingredients, Creamy Sausage Dip is easy to throw together for parties, tailgates, or just because!  Adjust the spice/heat with different strengths of Rotel.

This dip is officially in the rotation for this fall and winter when we get together with friends.  Be sure to check out two other favorite cheesy dips that stand the test of time…Easy Queso Dip (in the crock pot) and Hot Corn Dip (on the stove). Enjoy!

Creamy Sausage Dip

1 lb. sausage, cooked and crumbled
8 oz. block cream cheese
1 can Rotel tomatoes

Crumble and brown sausage in a skillet til cooked through.  Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.  Combine sausage, cream cheese, and Rotel in a saucepan over low heat, or add all ingredients to a crock pot and heat on low until ready to serve.

Serve with your favorite corn chips and enjoy!
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Printable Recipe

Linking to: Weekend Bloggy Reading

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Fall Progressive Dinner Ideas (Hot Bacon Swiss Dip)

Fall Progressive Dinner

Fall Progressive Dinner
Fall is officially in the air down here in the South, despite our still-warm days!  And I believe it’s safe to say two favorite things about fall for most folks are football food and friends!  I’ve joined a few of my favorite bloggers today to celebrate Fall, and we’ve made it easy for you to host a Fall Progressive Dinner Party!  Delicious food and drink, beautiful table decor, and precious Fall printables-you’ll have all you need for a Fall Dinner Party with friends!

If you are visiting from the other blogs, Welcome!  It is a joy to have you here today!

Below you will find the links to each item for your own celebration!

Free Fall Printables for Table: The Busy Budgeting Mama
Fall Table Decor:  Bonfires and Wine
Beverage: Cranberry Cider from Love of Family and Home
Appetizer:  Hot Bacon Swiss Dip-See Recipe Below
Main Dish:  Boneless Pork Chops with Apple Chutney from Beneath My Heart
Side Dish:  Homemade Baked Mac-N-Cheese from House of Rose
Dessert:  Mountain Dew Apple Turnovers from Walking in Grace and Beauty

My contribution to the Fall Progressive Dinner is one of my all-time favorite appetizers, Hot Bacon Swiss Dip!  It is always a crowd-pleaser!
Hot Bacon Swiss Dip

Hot Bacon Swiss Dip

Preheat oven to 350°.

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup real mayo
1 cup grated Swiss cheese (1/4 lb. block)
2 T. chopped green onions
8 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
Ritz or other round butter crackers

Using mixer, combine cream cheese, mayo, Swiss cheese, and green onion.  Place mixture into a small, greased baking dish.  (small oval or 8×8).

Top with crumbled bacon.  Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes.  Serve immediately with crackers!
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Serves 6.  Easily doubled.

Printable Recipe

If you are following the Fall Progressive Dinner in order, you can click over to Traci’s Boneless Pork Chops with Apple Chutney HERE.
Fall Progressive Dinner Party Ideas

Have a great week!

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Funfetti Snack Mix-Invitation Oxford Magazine Blog

TailgateSnackMix

TailgateSnackMix

Happy Monday morning!  It has been a long couple of months for our family we have made the transition from Little Rock, Arkansas to Oxford, Mississippi.  It has been quite a challenge to blog amidst an emotional move, and slowly but surely I am getting back to the blog.  I have missed being here!

Having gone to Ole Miss and coming back to a place I consider “home,” I was thrilled recently when Invitation Oxford Magazine asked me to guest post for their new blog! I’ll be over there once a month, so be sure to check back often!

With football season in full swing, you may be looking for an easy snack to throw together for game day parties or tailgates.  Funfetti Snack Mix is a crowd-pleaser, and with team or fall-colored candy, you can coordinate team colors or table decor!

To see the full recipe, click over to the Invitation Oxford Blog!

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Father-Son Trip Idea

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For the past three years, David has taken John David on a Father/Son trip to St. Louis to see the Cardinals play and to celebrate their upcoming birthdays.  David started this tradition when John David was quite young, and it is such a joy to see JD embracing and loving the game of baseball just like his Daddy!

Obviously, a trip out of town, especially to any sporting event, can be quite costly.  A few ways we have been able to pull this off is to save up hotel points from David’s work travel and to scour StubHub for good ticket prices.  Typically, they buy a set of good seats for the first night and then spend a little less for the next night by getting seats further back from the field. In addition, St. Louis has fabulous free attractions within minutes of where they’ve stayed.  Ultimately, the relatively small investment of time and money will reap a lifetime of memories that have no price.
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Before each game, the guys go very early to watch the teams during batting practice.  Ticket-holders can go down very close to the field before the start of the game, close enough to yell for a ball!  John David scored one from a Braves player, shown above.
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Breakfast at the well-known Rooster.  They say it was worth the hour wait!
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St. Louis’s City Museum is “an eclectic mixture of children’s playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel made out of unique, found objects.” Although the City Museum is not a free St. Louis attraction, we highly recommend it, especially if you have kids ages 12 and under.
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John David is proving himself to be the “collector” of the family, picking up souvenirs everywhere we go.  He would have a heyday in the likes of Panama City…thankfully he is also the fiscally responsible child:)  I love that he finds genuine joy in the smallest of things.
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On Saturday afternoon of their trip, David took JD down close again to watch the teams practice, in hopes that he would be able to get some autographs on the ball from the day before.  While standing around near the Cards’ dugout, a woman stopped them and asked if it was just the two of them there for the game and would they like seats on the 2nd row behind the dugout?  Ummmm…yes!

You can see in the previous and following couple of photos how close they were to the field and players!  David exchanged contact info with Donna, who had gifted the tickets, and she wrote us today to tell us that on her drive to St. Louis last weekend, she prayed for God to bring her the perfect two people to give her company tickets to.  A sweet reminder that God is in the details of our lives, and loves to give good gifts, even tickets to baseball games.
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You can see above just how close they were!  All photos taken with David’s iPhone, just feet from the players!

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After our recent, emotional move to Mississippi from the only home John David has ever known, the trip to St. Louis could not have come at a better time, and it is no coincidence that a sweet lady from Nashville, TN, found my boys, gifted them with amazing seats, and made David’s John David’s year.
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Life with kids is busy.  It is constant hustle-bustle of homework, activities, dinner, bath, and bedtimes, and while that craziness is where life is really lived and little lives are formed, sweet memories that last a lifetime can be sprinkled in with just a small amount of time, effort, and investment.  Plan a simple getaway with one of your kiddos soon!  A few ideas are camping, any tourist destination in your own state, a sporting event, or any trip around a common interest.  Have fun!

 

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Bacon Carbonara Pasta

Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara
Bacon, eggs, and pasta together…what a combo!  This easy, yet elegant, one-dish meal of Bacon Carbonara Pasta is great for a weeknight meal or perfect for company!  One of my very first blog friends, Shelly Wildman, posted her version of Carbonara Pasta a few years ago, and I combined a few different recipes to come up with this version.  You can vary the flavor by adding chicken or substituting extra broth in place of the wine.

After living in Arkansas so long, I am partial to Petit Jean Meats bacon!  It really is the best!  If you cannot find Petit Jean Meats at your local grocery, they will ship (in a cooler) from Arkansas!  If you’ve read my blog for any time, you know we adore Petit Jean’s Smoked Ham for holiday meals, too!

Bacon Carbonara Pasta

1/2 pound  Bacon (6-7 slices)
1/2 lb Linguini Pasta (or pasta of choice)
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, pressed
4 T. butter
1/2 cup White Wine
1/2 – 1 cup Chicken broth (divided)
2 eggs
3/4 – 1 cup Parmesan Cheese (divided)
2 T. Fresh, chopped Parsley + a little extra for garnish, if desired
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook bacon one of two ways:  Slice uncooked bacon into 1/2-inch pieces.  Cook bacon pieces until brown but not overly crisp.  Remove bacon from pan and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.  Discard bacon grease.  *OR* cook bacon in the microwave until brown, but not overly crisp.  Crumble microwaved bacon into small pieces.

While you are cooking the bacon, boil pasta according to package directions.

Melt 4T. butter in the frying pan.  Cook chopped onions over medium heat for a couple of minutes, then add the pressed garlic.  Be careful here, garlic burns easily.  Cook for a couple more minutes, until onion and garlic are soft.

To onion and garlic mixture, add the bacon, wine, and chicken broth, and increase heat. Let simmer for several minutes, but do not boil.

In a medium separate bowl, place the eggs and 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese.  Mix well.

Drain the cooked pasta, and while pasta is still very hot, add the pasta to the bowl with the egg mixture and then add the bacon/onion/liquid mixture.  Mix well.  Add 2 T. parsley and mix again.  Add a few shakes of pepper to taste.  Add a few Tablespoons of chicken broth or a couple of Tablespoons of butter to mixture, if needed, for moisture.

To serve, sprinkle individual portions with Parmesan cheese.  Add a little chopped parsley, if desired.  Enjoy!

Pasta Carbonara


Disclaimer:
 As a member of the Petit Jean Meats Blue Diamond Club, I occasionally receive free product for my use and review.  I was not compensated for this post, and all opinions are my own.

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Coming Up for Air and Coming Home

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I have started this post one million times in my mind over the past month, namely at 2 am with sleep just beyond reach.  After many months of chaos, change, and transition, I am finally coming up for air.

If you had asked me in January of this year what I thought this year may (roughly) look like for our family, I could not have begun to get close.  Not even a little.  And I have been blown away.  It has been crazy.  Crazy gifts, crazy grief, crazy adventure, crazy God.

First of all, 6th grade last year was a beast.  For me.  Yes, I said me.  If you’re a mama that’s experienced a dose of middle school, you understand.  Or maybe you don’t.  I, for one, was relieved for the last day.  I think I slept for two weeks after  6th grade ended.

Early in June, as I was going about my well-planned-out summer, David casually mentioned a job opening in Oxford, Mississippi.  A rush of anticipation…and reluctance. Could there really be an opportunity to go back to where we started, where I am from, and where my heart has always been?  Yet the rush of deep fear and grief of leaving relationships and a good, settled, predictable life in Arkansas was real.

Over the course of just two, short, prayer-filled weeks, we learned that, indeed, we would be moving back to Mississippi, and that in order to enroll our children in public school we’d need a physical address in Oxford like the next day as soon possible.  Thus began the mother of all networking sessions.  Thankfully, in Mississippi, everybody knows somebody’s mother’s best friend’s college roommate’s neighbor…and through it, God in His sweet love for us, brought us to a fabulous rental house in a very short time frame on a street made for children…and mamas. He threw in a dear high school friend next door to sweeten the deal. Coincidence?  I think not!

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So lately…no door hangers or new recipes (don’t be fooled, I love me a cute door hanger and a good recipe, but both take a back seat to being a mama and wife, especially in extra hard seasons as a family).  And oftentimes, our deepest life experiences are best kept private, yet I hope over the next few months to give you a glimpse into a mother’s heart as I’ve made the difficult transition with a husband, 3 kids, and a dog across state lines to a place called home.

Linking to: Weekend Bloggy Reading, Arkansas Women Bloggers-Sunday Link-Up

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