Sunday, February 26, 2012

Slow Cooker Italian Sausage Subs

Ingredients listed are how our family made this.  Original recipe can be found at

2 (19 ounce) packages Bob Evans® Italian Sausage (any good italian sausage will do)
1 red pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 (26 ounce) jar tomato pasta sauce
10 sub buns
10 slices provolone or mozzerlla cheese

In nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook sausage until brown. Place in slow cooker. Add peppers . Top with pasta sauce. Cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours until sausage is fully cooked. Place sausage in buns; top with peppers, pasta sauce and cheese

The war has ended, Change is inevitable

So we recently received a briefing regarding the new changes that are coming for AR 670-1 and the new NCOER  Below is a summary of some of the major changes we are anticipating.  Again, these changes are not currently in affect.


Many changes are coming to the new NCOER. Final product is projected to be complete by April. The time line for implementation following that has not been established.

  • New NCOER will be aligned with the new leadership doctrine (ADRP 6-22) and designed to prevent inflation.
  • The new NCOER will be designed to generate proper counseling. The new regulation will require the senior rater to conduct counseling at least twice during the rating period as well as inspect the rater’s quarterly counseling.
  • Rater will be limited to two blocks on each of the rated areas (“success or needs improvement” or something to that effect, exact terminology was not decided upon during the BOD). This will replace the old choices of “excellence, success, needs improvement (some), and needs improvement (much).
  • The NCOER will be the same for E-5 thru E-8, but the board recommended a different form for E-9. The E-9 form will include recommendations from the senior rater on whether the CSM/SGM should compete for increased positions of responsibility and at what level. The exact format was not determined by the board; this will be completed by the working group.
  • The Board recommended that the senior rater should “quantify” or “rank” the rated individual against his/her peers. Exact procedures on how this will be done are still being worked. 


  • The Board voted to add the APFT and Height /Weight test back into all NCOES and some other schools.
  • Both the APFT and the Height/Weight will be a graduation requirement.
  • Individuals who fail to successfully pass the APFT or meet the standards outlined in AR 600-9 will fail to meet course standards and will subsequently fail the course. The individuals’ 1059 will reflect failure.
  • No more marginal 1059’s, every Soldier that starts the course will be enrolled. If a Soldier fails to meet any course standard the 1059 will reflect this failure. No more “turn-aways” prior to the start of the course.
  • The Board recommended that some form of reprimand should be given to the chain of command of any Soldiers that reports to school and fails to meet APFT and/or HT/WT. Officers and NCO’s that sign the commanders checklist should be held accountable. This is pending legal review.
  • The Board recommended that the regulation should be changed to require units to update APFT and HT/WT data within E-MILPO on a regular basis. No requirement currently exists.

AR 670-1 update

Many changes are coming to AR 670-1. This is just a summary of some of them. 

  • New revision of the regulation will define the following terms; eccentric, faddish, conservative, inconspicuous, unsightly, hair braids/plaits.
  • AR 670-1 will be a punitive order in the future.
  • Sideburns will not extend below the top of the ear.
  • Soldier will be clean shaven on and off duty.
  • Female and male hair grooming standards will become more restrictive and better defined.
  • Females will be allowed to put their hair into a pony tail during PT.
  • Males will be prohibited from wearing cosmetics to include nail polish, females may wear cosmetics conservatively, but can only wear nail polish in service, mess or dress uniforms.
  • Females fingernail length will not exceed ¼ in, no fake nails, add-ons, or extensions will be authorized.
  • Tattoos will not be visible above the neck line when the IPFU is worn.
  • Tattoos will not extend below the wrist line and not on the hands. Sleeve tattoos will be prohibited (this one will be grandfathered).
  • Soldiers will not walk while engaged in activities that require the hand salute. (eating, cell phone use, etc…) -ACUs will not be commercially pressed; hand ironing of the ACU (UCP) only will be authorized.
  • Bags worn over the shoulder will only be black or ACU without logos.
  • The new regulation will specify civilian clothes standards both on and off duty and both on and off post.
  • No visible body piercings on or off duty and on or off post, males will never wear earrings. Ear gauging will be unauthorized.
  • No dental ornamentation will be authorized.

Shepherd's Pie

Ingredients listed are how our family made this.  Original recipe can be found at

This recipe can be made ahead of time and stored in fridge.  Another family favorite and one I can make ahead of time for Dave when I have to travel!

For a healthier version, try fresh vegetables, homemade mashed potatoes and ground turkey instead of listed ingredients.

4 pouches of Betty Crocker Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 10oz bag of frozen mixed vegetables
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 cup of water
1 packet of brown gravy mix
1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce


  • Prepare mashed potatoes according to directions. Mix in 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add vegetables and cook until tender but still firm, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C.)
  • Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add ground beef and Worcestershire sauce; cook until well browned. Pour off excess fat, then stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add ketchup, water and brown gravy mix. Stir and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Spread the ground beef in an even layer on the bottom of a 3 quart casserole dish. Next, spread a layer of vegetables. Top with the mashed potato mixture and sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown

Shredded Steak Sandwiches

Ingredients listed are how our family made this.  Original recipe can be found at


3 pounds boneless beef round steak, cut into large pieces
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon Cholulu Hot Suace
12 sandwich rolls, split

Place meat in a 5-qt. slow cooker. In a bowl, combine the ketchup, water, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, salt, mustard, paprika, chill powder, pepper and Cholulu hot sauce. Pour over meat. Cover and cook on high for 6-8 hours.

Remove meat; cool slightly. Shred with a fork. Return to the sauce and heat through. Serve on rolls.

We've eaten this twice now and it has become a family favorite!!

Top Eleven Things a Mama of 5 Boys Wouldn't Want to Live Without

1. Flushable Wipes 
After having gone through potty-training 4 times now, I have determined that flushable wipes are a gift from God!  It saves money on underwear, teaches cleanliness, and saves from mommy or daddy having to wipe bottoms!

2. White Noise
We discovered by accident when Gabe was born that white noise is also a gift from God.  Gabriel was crying and crying, but I had to get some housework done.  I started vacuuming and voila!  Gabe stopped crying.  I turned the vacuum cleaner off (which was a spanking new Dyson at the time) and he started crying again.  I turned it back on, and he stopped crying.  You get the point.  Needless to say, every time Gabe wouldn't stop crying, I would turn the vacuum on and he would stop.  We used the vacuum to teach him to sleep in his own crib!  When Xander was born, we didn't want to burn the motor in the vacuum out, so we invested in a White Noise CD.  We put our "boom box" in his bedroom and played that CD every time he lied down to go to sleep.  Now, technology has once again advanced.  Elijah falls asleep with either my iPhone or Dave's HTC which both have a White Noise App on them.  It almost always does the trick and he's usually asleep within 10 minutes - no rocking, no pacifier, just the white noise.  Had I discovered this when Kaleb was first born, it probably would have saved me several very stressful nights, since I didn't know what to do to get him to stop crying.

3. PlayDoh
This is a no fail entertainer.  Whenever one of the toddlers says "I'm bored" I almost always redirect to PlayDoh.  We have two tubs full of PlayDoh and accessories.  Xander has recently learned he can use things around my house to duplicate making things I have made.  He uses plastic forks and knives, tupperware, and cutting mats when he plays with the PlayDoh and often entertains me with his latest meal recipes.

4. Crayons
This is almost always a no fail entertainer when kids are bored (even for the older ones).  I no longer purchase coloring books and instead print off single coloring sheets from various websites when they are looking for something to do.  I also found a great idea on Pinterest to keep these in the diaper bag and car at all times: The instructions on how to make these can be found at the Under the Sycamore blog.

5.  Johnson's Head-To-Toe Baby Wash
We use this product from the birth of our kids until they become particular about choosing their own products (about 11 years old).  We use it wash hair and body.  It's gentle on skin, which comes in handy for kids who are sensitive to dyes and perfumes or have eczema.   Johnson's also makes Baby Bubble Bath & Wash, as well as Bedtime Bath which are awesome for the kiddos over 6 months.  Most of our kids have some sort of sensitive skin problems, and Johnson's baby products have always been great.

6. A Snack Box
So we discovered this trick when we drove to Disney World in 2008.  We used a plastic box to dump a bunch of kids snacks in to keep them in one common, easily accessible location in the car.  Once we returned from Disney, we took the box of leftover snacks and put them into the pantry on a shelf that was reachable by all the kids.  Ever since, when we buy snacks at the store, we remove them from their packages and boxes and put them all in this one common location.  The kids know that they can have any of these snacks for lunch or during the day, but that once the box is empty- it won't be refilled until the next shopping trip (the 1st and 15th of every month).  Some more ideas on how to organize kids snacks can be found at the Joyful Homemaking blog.

7. A Dishwasher
I don't really think I need to expound on this one.  With 5 kids comes 5 times the average amount of dishes that need to be cleaned every day.  I don't know what we'd do without our dishwasher.  Enough said.

8. A Washer and Dryer
Saturday's is our laundry day.  We are fortunate enough to have our washer and dryer on the second floor of our house, which is where 3 out of our 4 bedrooms are.  All the kids know that Saturday morning they need to bring their hampers into our bedroom and sort their darks and lights on the floor.  Then dad begins the tedious task of washing approximately 10 loads of laundry, then folding it and sorting it.  I've tried to make this a joint effort, however he doesn't like the way I fold, so has taken on the task of doing laundry on his own most weeks. We don't own a fancy washer and dryer, but hope to make the leap into purchasing an efficient set when we move to Hawaii.  I also plan to make our laundry sorting a little more organized utilizing the awesome idea I came across on Pinterest (see below).

9. A Bassinet
I learned the benefit of this with my very first child and have used one with every single one of them.  A versatile bassinet is so awesome, especially for a nursing mama.  Ours is pretty simple and has two very useful features- it rocks and it has one side that can be slightly lower so that you can easily reach in and grab a newborn in the middle of the night.  the rocking comes in handy because if they stir at night, sometimes all it takes is a little rocking for them to fall back asleep.  With Elijah, the bassinet has come in handy because we don't have room in our house right now for a crib.  His bassinet will be in our room until we move to Hawaii.  The size of a bassinet has worked out perfect for our current living situation.  For anyone who is looking for one, this one (while we don't own it) seems pretty amazing and has some features I wish ours had:

10. A Really Amazing Husband

I honestly could not make our family work without my husband.  If I had to come up with one word to describe my husband it would be "Amazing."  He is a great dad and an awesome partner.  We are a team and we make our family work.  He is the ying to my yang, the peanut butter to my jelly, and the sweet to my sour.  While I have a ton of respect for single mom and dad's who have to do it on their own, but for me and my family, it wouldn't work with a great husband.

11. God

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  

~1 Corinthians 13:4-8 

Monday, February 13, 2012


So, no thanks to Nikki Tracht, I have discovered Pinterest.  This may be the only version of "window shopping" or "magazine browsing" that I actually like.  For those who know me best, you know I absolutely hate shopping- particularly for myself.  I find no joy whatsoever in going to a mall to simply walk around.

So what is Pinterest? 
Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.  People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes.

Basically, you see something you like on the web, and you have a spot to save a picture of whatever it is.  You create your own categories and "pin" whatever you find to your various boards.  I love this mainly because I always run across things on blogs and say "I'll have to try that sometime."  Then when I think of it again, I forget where I saw it.  Pinterest helps me keep track of things I find on the web that I like.

Check it out sometime when you get bored.

 Michelle Waychoff's Pinterest Boards