Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dinner and Dessert

Well, I went to do a new post and realized that this post from May was never published!

This spring, my friend's mom had a heart attack and had to have quadruple bypass surgery. She also has diabetes and my friend (who was staying with them) doesn't like any cheese. So, when I signed up to take them dinner one night, I had my work cut out for me! After a quick google search, I came up with an excellent stuffed pepper recipe.

Stuffed Peppers Before Going in the Oven

Notice there are two pans- I figured as long as I was making it, we might as well eat it, too. I would cook like this every day if I could but my family wouldn't have it. No way.

And, as luck or fate or whatever you want to call it would have it, Dan didn't eat all day that day so he called me on the way home and said "tonight's not the night we're having the healthy dinner is it?" I laughed because I had thought earlier that it was a bad day to feed him a light, healthy dinner. Off to the grocery store I went for fixin's for cheeseburgers and potato salad.

We had the peppers the following night (ours with cheese on top). I loved the peppers and my friend and her parents did, too. Dan didn't hate them and my friend's 2 year old liked them. For those of you who have kids, you know that's always a bonus.

And, as  a bonus recipe for you (not necessarily diabetic friendly because it's chocolate but heart healthy because there's no egg or oil) one of my favorites. And again, the kiddos like it!

Mix one box of chocolate cake mix and one can of pumpkin puree together, add 1`cup of chocolate chips. Drop into muffin tins (sprayed with cooking spray or lined with paper liners) and bake at 375 until done. I don't remember how long I cooked them for, maybe start checking them at 15 minutes. Easy peasy and oh so good!! Eat it like it is or, for a much less healthy alternative, add some vanilla ice cream and hot fudge and/or caramel. YUM!
The post I was going to do for today was also a dinner recipe and a recipe for pumpkin oatmeal bars so I guess I just bought myself a couple days to get that post done. I think I'll go take a nap now.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Clutter Free Challenge!

Hello there! I know it's been a while but I am hoping to get back into blogging, I've got some good things brewing.

Last year in the fall, I did "No Spend November" and in February, did a massive decluttering of our house. Since then, I've gotten rid of a LOT of stuff but still have so far to go!

When I saw this challenge from Living Well Spending Less, I knew I had to go for it! And I wouldn't be doing anyone any good if I didn't share. So here it is: the Living Well Spending Less Clutter Free Challenge. I'll be blogging about it, if nothing else, for accountability.

With a growing household and a house that doesn't grow and no real desire to upsize (the goal after all, is LESS), we need to be mindful of our stuff and keep it simple!

I look forward to blogging with you again!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Summertime Daily Tasks for Kids

Are you looking for a way to make sure your kids pitch in, read daily, and limit screen time this summer? I think I've found a solution! I'm pretty stoked about this and think it is going to work GREAT at our house.

Last year, we used popsicle sticks in a jar to assign duties and we'll be doing that this year, only different. Here is a look at the rough draft of the checklist that each of the older boys will be getting:

Stick jobs will include: windex sliders, clean downstairs bathroom, pick up toys & books, dust downstairs, take out garbages, water plant.
I made each 15 minute block of screen time worth 50 cents because I want to make it worth their while to save the screen time. We'll see if that motivates them to use less or not...
What are you doing this summer to keep kids on task, read, and limit screens?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Not a Party Cow Party

Earlier this month, our baby turned one! A couple of months ago, I had asked Dan what he wanted to do for Emmett's birthday and he said "not have a party". I had to laugh but he went on to explain that he thought it was unnecessary since Emmett wouldn't remember it anyway.

So, we had an unparty party. Almost every Sunday evening, my inlaws get together for pizza. Emmett's birthday happened to fall on a Sunday so we volunteered to host pizza at our house, invited my family to join us, decorated it up a little bit and had cake with our pizza.

A few months ago, we were reading up on nine month milestones for babies and somewhere we read that a baby should be able to see a picture of a cow and say "moo." I personally thought that was really far fetched- isn't that like preschool material?! Dan made it his personal goal to get Emmett to "moo" when he saw a picture of a cow asap. He didn't make it by nine months but by golly, he had it down pat by 12. So, we thought it be fitting that he have a cow party.

Not a farm party.

Not a cowboy party.

Just a cow party.

And here's how we have a "not a party cow party":

Double layer 9x13 cake with cow spots made from sugar paper. What great stuff!
For the tshirt, I cut a "1" from cow print felt and used a red whip stitch around the edge.

And here's the birthday boy eating his cupcake. What a face. I could just eat HIM up!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

All Things

For weeks now, I've been telling myself that I'm going to start blogging again. But someone has replaced my good sleeping baby with a one year old who likes to get up at 4:30 in the morning or babble happily for no reason from 12:30am until 3:30am.

Monday morning, he was up at 4:30. As I sat rocking him, I realized he was not going back to sleep any time soon. And, since Monday is grocery day, it seemed like the next logical step would be to do something productive and go grocery shopping. We were done and home, back in bed, by 6:45. But alas, the alarm goes off at 7:00 so that sleep didn't last long for me.

Today, Wednesday, I had plans to get up early so I could prepare food for the cook off at our moms meeting this morning. Emmett apparently had plans to be up for three hours in the middle of the night. Watching lightning (which was quite impressive, I must admit) and babbling away. For THREE hours. When the alarm went off at 7:00, I announced to Dan that I was not going to church this morning, hit snooze, rolled over, and went back to sleep.

I had to get up and get everyone ready and out the door and while I was working on that, I decided I WAS going to go to church after all. I'd really been looking forward to it and it was our last meeting. So, hurry up and get ready, get food in the oven, and get everyone else ready and surprisingly, I (we) made it without getting too frazzled. Only one kid almost missed the bus. Thank goodness Mr. Bill doesn't mind waiting a few seconds as my kid scurried out the door, one shoe tied, to make it on the bus (darn you Minecraft videos!)

At church, we did this really great craft:

I am going to hang mine on my picture wall. Which is currently just a figment of my imagination. But now I have a reason to create one!

And, as a extra special surprise this morning, I won best overall dish for the cook off! And to think I wasn't going to go.

What a fun prize pack! A folding chopping board, cookbook, apron (the boys and I love to don aprons when we bake!) paper and pen, whisk, and scraper. LOVE it!!
Here is the recipe that won the prize:
3/4 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. finely chopped garlic
8 medium green onions, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1 can (14oz) artichoke hearts, drained, diced
1 pouch (6 oz) ready to eat crabmeat, flaked
3 packages (15 shells each) mini fillo dough shells, thawed
Heat oven to 375.
In large bowl, mix all ingredients except shells with spoon until well blended.
Place shells on cookie sheet, fill with about 1 tablespoon crab mixture.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until shells are puffed and golden brown.
Serve warm.
If I had known I was going to win, I would have taken a pic. And, needless to say, when I picked up my dish, they were all gone so not even leftovers to take a pic of. But trust me, they are delicious! Try it sometime and let me know what you think.
And, finally, baby is sleeping so I'm gonna go get me some of that, too. Have a super blessed day and remember, we can do all things through God who gives us strength (Phil. 4:13). Something I've been telling myself a lot lately.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Quiet Morning

Good morning, world! As I am sitting here trying to find time to write, I am quickly reminded partially of why it's been so long since I've written: my baby is now one year old and he keeps me hoppin'! I can't sit down at the computer without him wanting to pluck away at the keys. He's also down to one nap a day, which I typically join him for :)

Another reason why I haven't been posting much is because sometimes I lose sight of WHY I write. I want to encourage and inspire people but I have a tendency to get discouraged because I don't have a thousand followers or because only a hand full of people read my posts but you know what? Even if my post speaks to only one person, that's one more than if I hadn't written the post.

I read a great blog post the other day about living quietly that was a huge aha! moment for me. Like Micha, I have something to say and I enjoy writing. I cannot keep up with the mainstream blogging community but I can still say what I have to say and pray that it'll touch at least one person who reads it.

Now, in my trying to stay focused, I would like to know- what do you like to read about and/ or what would you like to see less of? Give a gal a hand and let me know!

Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Not Quite What I Planned

Well, how's the month going for everyone? Not quite as I had planned here but that's usually the norm. I am such a planner, plan every last detail, and rarely does anything go "just so."

My pile in the basement is growing:

The workout stuff stays, it's just there because that's where I keep it. 

And I have listed some stuff online. So, in that regard it's going okay.

What I didn't account for was that Emmett would decide that sleep is not his friend. He's been waking during the night and not napping good during the day which makes for a very tired, unproductive momma. I'm still plugging away at it, cleaning isn't getting as "deep" as I'd hoped, but it's better than not at all!

Make the last week of this month count. Pick a few projects you'd really like to get to and crank them out! For me, one is vacuuming the baseboards and blinds but I need Dan to take Emmett to a different part of the house for that- he does NOT like my little vacuum cleaner. Hopefully that will get done this weekend.

As far as the not working out, I've been able to maintain my weight all month- yay! Which tells me that nutrition is SO much more important than working out in regards to weight. Don't get me wrong, exercise most definitely has its health benefits and I absolutely LOVE it but I've heard it said that nutrition is 80% of the equation and exercise only 20% and I believe that's pretty accurate. Just had to test it out for myself. Now, with fine tuned eating habits, I can't wait to see the results when I DO start working out again because yes, I do still have 20 pounds to lose!

I borrowed Brazilian Butt Lift and RevAbs from a friend yesterday and am going to be doing a hybrid of the two workouts. The plan is for 90 days but I'll probably get bored with it before then, truth be told. Everyone knows ChaLean Extreme is my very favorite workout, and Turbo Jam a close second, so I'm excited to try these new ones and pass along my thoughts on them!

One more thing, as I look out the window at the snow glistening in the sun. Go away already. It's beautiful, it really is, but I'm ready for warm weather, flowy skirts, and flip flops!!!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Too Much Stuff!

Been doing a lot of thinking since my last post... If I can get rid of 100+ things and not even make a dent in it, we have entirely too much stuff! Not sure what to do about it other than keep plugging away at it and not buy any more in the meantime.

How about you? Do you have too much stuff?

In other news, I'm a couple days behind on the challenge. Some days I feel like it's all I can do to get the stuff done that needs to be done, let alone do extra.

I feel like I'm always busy yet nothing ever gets done.

Hopefully I'll be able to do double duty over the weekend, when I have another pair of hands here to help with the baby.

I DID, however, get two small projects done yesterday. I saw a pattern for a no sew sleeping bag on Pinterest and thought that would be perfect in mini size for dolls and stuffed animals. This one is for my niece for her birthday. I'm not big on tutorials (although maybe I should be...) but if you're wondering, it was 1/2 yard of the patterned fabric and 1/4 yard of the lining. Pretty easy- cut slits and tie them together. When there were three or four layers, it was a bit tricky but I just winged it. I'm sure you can figure it out, too :)

Also, you have probably seen birthday boards on Pinterest or Facebook... this is a picture of the one I made my mom for Christmas:

and this is a simplified version of it that I made yesterday:

I made the tile a while ago (scrapbook paper mod-podged onto a tile) and wasn't sure what to do with it until one day, I remembered this Pinterest post and had an ah-ha! moment.

In the next few days, I am making another one of the big birthday boards for my cousin. She's actually buying it- how exciting!! I'll make one for you, too, if you want to buy it :) Just let me know!

Leave a comment and let me know how your deep cleaning and decluttering is going and if you, too, have TOO MUCH STUFF!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Three Days Down

How's everyone doing with deep cleaning and decluttering this month? Doing good here. Three days in and three areas cleaned and decluttered. Except for this drawer, which is first on my to do list for tomorrow:

This is another drawer that I'm particularly pleased with the results. The simple addition of 4oz plastic cups to hold clips, etc. in made a huge difference. I wish I would have taken a before picture!

It feels good to have some things done that haven't been done in a long time, like the blinds cleaned and the toekick around the kitchen wiped down. Who knew that got so dirty?! I mean, it's down under the cabinets where no one can see. HOW does it get so dirty?! Here is a pic of the clean blinds (left) vs. the dusty blinds (right). The pic doesn't do it justice.

And ta-da! A sparkling clean kitchen :)

My pile of stuff to sell/ donate is growing, too. I haven't started to put any listings up, though. I should probably work on that before the pile gets so big it becomes something I don't even want to deal with. I was thinking about it today, actually, and this may have been a better job for May then I could have a garage sale in June...

As far as working out goes, I don't miss it as much as I thought I would. And so far, I've been able to maintain my weight but there's still a lot of February left to see how that goes!

I hope those who have decided to join me on this journey are doing well and enjoying the fruits of your labor!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Plan for February

Finally got it (pretty much) nailed down. I wrote down all of the areas/ rooms in the house and decided how long it would take me to declutter and deep clean each area/ room. I also looked at my calendar to see which days I would be working on this. I will not be doing anything on Valentine's Day because I'll be busy with school parties. I am also not doing anything on Sundays or on Saturdays when the two older boys are home. I know the storage room is going to be the biggest job so I left plenty of time for that. Here is what I came up with:

Since I cut my days down and won't be working on it EVERY day, I've decided on the days I am cleaning and decluttering, I will sell/ donate TEN items instead of five. I already have a bit of a pile going. I can't wait to add to it and get it gone!!!

After this is all done, I will sort through my bins of boy clothes (I have accumulated more clothes in each size than Emmett could ever wear!) and find a way to store the boys' artwork from school. If any one has any bright ideas for that, I'm open to suggestions. Oh! I think I'll peruse Pinterest and see what I can find there.

I am looking forward to this month of cleaning and decluttering and am glad to have a few friends join me!

What Now?

In winter of 2011, just shy of my 10 year wedding anniversary, I started making plans to leave my husband. He was served with divorce papers on March 17. There were a lot of reasons for me making this decision, some valid, some probably not. I poured through the Bible and prayed, trying to find wisdom, and couldn't make sense of what was the truth and what was me twisting stuff to align with what I wanted. On my knees, in tears, begging God for answers night after night.

I went to a counselor, talked to friends, to the wife of one of our pastors.

I was desperate for knowledge, for answers.

Ultimately, I chose to pursue divorce. I'm not going to get into all the why's and whether it was the right choice or not but I do want to share a little of what it's been like since then and what I've learned/ am learning.

Divorce is a crazy thing that tears families apart, ruins friendships, and complicates life beyond what one could fathom.

For the last three years, I have dealt with guilt and shame- because I am the one who chose to cause this chaos. To ruin friendships and tear our family apart.

And because I was told, in the process of seeking wisdom, that God hates divorce and that divorce is never in His will and since God never changes, I would never again be in His will.

And this is what I want to address.

What is a person supposed to do with that? According to this nugget of  "wisdom," my life might as well be over, I no longer had a purpose, would never again walk in His will, and therefore am condemned to Hell.

Well, I am here to tell you the other side of it. The message of HOPE. The message I'm still learning myself. It's such a beautiful message of peace, hope, grace, and mercy, that everyone needs to hear it.

Imagine if, every time someone strayed from God's will, their life became pointless.

We'd have a world full of wandering nobodies.

It's such an awful place to be in, to think that your life has no purpose, that you can never again be in God's will, and that you are condemned to hell.

Here are some verses that I find comfort, peace, grace, and mercy in:

Psalm 139:14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful"

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Psalm 86:5 "You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you."

Romans 8:1 "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

Romans 8:28 "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God."

No matter what you've been through, the choices you've made, the path you've walked- God does still love you and have a plan for you and your life IS important. Be encouraged. Pursue God and righteousness and you will find your purpose!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Why I'm Not Working Out In February

Sometime last year, in the midst of having a newborn baby and long Saturdays spent at Highland Games competitions,

I began to wonder about my activities and working out and if it was all Biblical or not as far as femininity and the calling of a wife and mother. That would be a whole different blog post but it does lead in to part of my February challenge.

In February, I will be cleaning and purging. I am going to go room to room and do a deep clean and also purge (hopefully) a lot of the "stuff" we have here.

In thinking about the challenge and what it will entail, I started to think about the Proverbs 31 woman and all of the things that she did in a day. Then I realized that I don't recall her ever taking time to exercise or to nap.

It does say in verse 17 that "she girdeth her loins with strength, and stregtheneth her arms" but if you look at the previous verse, it tells us that "she considereth a field and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands, she planteth a vineyard."

My interpretation of this is that yes, she was strong but... she achieved that by working.

To test my "theory," during the month of February, while I'm working hard at cleaning and decluttering, I will NOT be working out.

I think I might die.

But lets hope not ;)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Why January is NOT a Good Month to Start

January is the month of new beginnings, New Year's Resolutions, making goals, fresh starts. I've decided, however, that February is a better month for that.

Why? You may wonder.

Think about it- Christmas is at the end of December. Our first party was the 20th and our last, the 28th. Shortly after that was New Year's which, while it was a intimate party of four, involved planning, set up, clean up (oh the confetti! Yeah, we threw confetti all over the living room. Cuz I'm cool like that )

Then, another four days of Christmas break and two snow days for the kids and today is January 13th and I am just now feeling like I am getting back in the swing of things.

No way was I in any shape or form to be able to take on a challenge, make resolutions or goals or try to attempt a feat of any such sort over the last two weeks.

But now, half way through January, I can start thinking about my challenge. And that's going to take preparation and organization.

So, February. February is the month in which I will purge five items a DAY from our home. I am so excited about this!!! It's amazing to me how much STUFF we accumulate and doing the no spend November has helped me to really hone in on my spending. Between purging and spending less, we should be among the minimalists in no time.

I also know there are others out there who need to purge and organize. And a challenge is always more fun when done with others so I'm going to ask: WHO WANTS TO JOIN ME IN PURGING 140 THINGS FROM YOUR HOME?!

Come on, you know you want to! Comment on my blog or on my facebook page and let me know you're in and watch for a blog post soon about the guidelines I'm using for the challenge.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Celebrating Grandpa

Every year, after the Christmas celebrations are done and New Years is rung in, I start to reflect on a very important person in my life- my grandpa. While some choose to continue to mourn the loss and be grief stricken by the fact that he is no longer with us, I choose to celebrate his life and the memories he has left us with. Yes, I miss him and occasionally, it makes me sad, but I'm not going to allow myself to be overcome with grief every year when this time rolls around. Not only is it not healthy, it's not what he would want.

Thirteen years ago this week, he slipped away from us. I don't remember when he got his diagnosis but he was told he had stage four cancer and would only live six months to a year. This picture was taken in December of 1999. He had gotten his diagnosis at this point and the following Christmas was his last with us. I am thankful that his last year was full of life and memory making and he was a fighter and really didn't get very sick until the last couple of months (he opted out of treatment for the cancer).

There were times in my life when we lived hours from my grandparents, and a good chunk of years where we lived just minutes, maybe even seconds apart (just down the street). We spent a lot of time with grandma and grandpa and I have so many fond memories of them both. But my grandpa, he was something special. He always had a shoulder to lean on and good advice to give. He was strong and determined. He wasn't afraid to speak his mind.

One thing that impacted me most is his determination. As a kid, he lost his right arm to polio. He was right handed and had to not only learn to do everything with one arm and hand- but with his less dominant side! And he did not let that slow him down one bit. When we lived on the lake, he raked the bottom of the swimming area to keep it nice for us. He tied a rope to the end of a giant rake and would throw it out there and then use the rope to pull it back in. Seriously amazing. He did EVERYTHING.

In college, I took a creative writing class and I was going through my papers the other day and came across this poem I had written as a tribute to my grandpa:

I will never forget
what a strong, wise man
my grandpa was
or how much he loved
his family and the outdoors

There was never a task
he would turn down;
his knowledge of life
and words of advice,
I will never forget

His body is slowly
growing weaker and his
breaths becoming shorter
but this does not change
the man he is inside.

We all know that soon
 it will be his time to go
the holidays are coming
and there's no question
these will be his last.

No matter what happens,
how sick he may get
I will always remember
the strong and wise man
I have always admired
This, I will not forget

We love you grandpa! And while we miss you, we also celebrate you. The memories you gave us and the love you showed us will always be very dear to each and every one of us!