Monday, April 30, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday!

Good Monday Morning! Wow, a crazy busy weekend was had here. But so refreshing, too. A shout out to all my Happy Homemaker friends! We can do this with the Lords strength today! 

The weather:::
Hmmm, says it should reach the 70's today - but we are still buried in gray skies and rain, rain, rain. Saw a story on the news last night that all this weird weather is really messing with Iowa crops of all kinds. Bummer.    

On my reading pile:::  
"The Meaning of Marriage" - Timothy Keller

"Queen of the Home" - compilation put out by Vision Forum
"A life that says welcome" -Karen Ehman
Book of Lamentations, Bible :)   

On my TV:::
I'm feeling challenged to turn it off! My kids watched some Disney channel this morning and right now we are listening to one of the music channels. Lovely sound scapes :) 

On the menu for this week:::
 Monday - Chicken Enchiladas  
Tuesday -  Switch n' Go ribs, smashed potatoes
Wednesday -  Youth group night...not sure yet.
Thursday -   Dinner with our music pastor candidate...thinking PF Changs :) Woot!
Friday - Seniors banquet! Catered by Smokey D's BBQ! 
Saturday -   Chunky Chicken Soup
Sunday -   Still need to plan this one. 

On my to do list:::
Monday is Laundry day! 

Menu plan for May
General tidy of the downstairs
Set up cleaning schedule... what I do now is just not working. :/
Put away decorations from weekend retreat.

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
This weekend at our ladies retreat I taught ladies how to make a "30 dime hurricane". Buy a glass candlestick holder, any size/any candle holder {I used a smaller hurricane style} and a candle. Glue the candlestick to the bottom of the glass holder, let set overnight, put the candle in and voila - Williams Sonoma/Pottery Barn style hurricane. For 3 bucks !


Looking around the house:::
Messes here and there. The kids have crayons, paper, toys, and everything strung out already. 
Baby is napping. My morning coffee is sitting here in my Christmas mug - getting cold, again. I think I microwave this beast a good 10 times before its gone. :) 

From the camera:::
@ our ladies retreat at Hidden Acres camp. We pastors wives had a panel where we shared our testimonies, what God is teaching us in ministry and how the other women could pray for us. What a great time of fellowship! 
*I'm 3rd from the left up on the stage :)

Something fun to share:::
Learned this weekend that you can find all sorts of organization charts/graphs/ideas on Pinterest. One lady shared a few printables available on setting up a good cleaning schedule - hoping to print one off for our home soon. Hey, every little idea helps! 

On my prayer list:::
God has laid on my heart to GET UP and GET GOING in his Word before my family wakes up. So, I've committed to rising early every day this week. I set small goals so I can reach them. :) This morning was great - and I can already feel my focus is in the right place. Asking God for the discipline and desire to seek him early as often as I can. 
My daddy is flying to Estonia today for a short term missions trip. Please pray for him? If you aren't familiar with where that is... {join the club} it's beyond sweden, near russia, etc. :)

Bible verse, Devotional::: 
Started reading Lamentations today - the doom and gloom of a disobedient Israel. Wow, not at all like a nice poetry-ish Psalm - but still so much good truth and encouragement. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Supper Time... Anytime.

As I continue on through my book, "A life that says welcome" by Karen Ehman - I've entered my favorite chapter. It's about food, having company over, and recipes that work. The Lord has blessed my desires to open our home and I'm happy to say we have had several faces around our tables (both dinner and coffee tables) in the last few weeks. :) I love it. It's never fancy. It's never over the top... actually, last time it was Velveeta dip, pretzel rods, tortilla chips, pop, and a dessert that totally flopped as the guests were walking in the door. Sweet! {grumble, grumble, grumble} But everyone was a great sport and we just pretended the bars were supposed to be... dessert soup. :)

In her book, Karen gives the idea of putting together a menu book of sure-fire meals to make for guests. I seem to have this issue of always wanting to try something new for guests, which, if you are an excellent cook - GREAT go for it - but, there is always the risk of a major flop. So, instead of ruining a new meal and having to pop in that frozen pizza... the idea is to try a few recipes and if they work, plug them into a routine. I know pastors wives who always, always serve spaghetti, pot roast & potatoes or Chicken n' dumplings for their "company" meal. It's something they've made a million times and it takes the pressure off making sure everything is perfect. It's tried and true... and delicious. So, I've decided to do this myself. I'm going to buy a 3 ring binder and print off a few menu plans. For example... Tacos, spanish rice, and cinna-twists {canned breadsticks rolled in cinnamon-sugar}. I will list each recipe on one sheet of paper so I can see the main dish, side dish and dessert all at once. Then I will know right away if I want to add any "extras", what will go with it. Easy peasy. I'd like to have several pages of meal options and get them on a good rotation. I can then note if any of our friends or guests don't care for something so I can avoid making that certain dish.

Another idea I found in this chapter was the idea of "Health by Stealth". One of the authors friends is known for this phrase and it simply means that she purees "yucky" foods into the "yummy" parts of her meals. Her children don't like green veggies...she's purees them into the red sauce. Not a fan of onions or chunks of garlic? They get pureed into the white sauces. Wow! I get into my pureeing...but never thought about that! Karen also mentions the cookbook, "The Use it Up Cookbook" - which, shows you how to use up ingredients so you aren't regularly tossing out leftover produce, etc. It looks like it's pretty pricey, but, might be worth it if you, like me, seem to toss out leftover greens ALL.THE.TIME. It adds up!

Ah, I am learning so much about hospitality and specifically blessing people with meals. I still mess up all the time and can laugh about it - but, I do so much want to keep up with this ministry in my home. And, thankfully, my family enjoys trying out all these new recipes that I am testing, too. :) Are you showing hospitality in your home? Are you opening your doors and blessing others with meals or even just some chat time on the couch? I can tell you first hand the blessings are inexpressible. Just do it! :)

I'll leave you with one of the new ones we've had recently. SO FAST and delicious.

Asian Beef and Noodles
1lb ground beef
2 pkgs Oriental Ramen noodles
2 1/2 c. water
2 c. frozen broccoli stir-fry veggies
1/4 t. ground ginger
2 T thin sliced green onion

1) In a large skillet, cook beef over med. heat for 4-5 minutes or until browned. Drain. Add the contents of 1 ramen noodle flavoring packet; stir until dissolved. Remove beef and keep warm.
2) In the same skillet, combine the water, veggies, ginger, noodles and contents of remaining flavor packet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until noodles are tender. Return beef to pan; cook for 2-3 minutes or until heated through.
*serves 4. {smaller dish but could easily double and triple}

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

.:Some Thoughts and Some Things:.

First of all....
My computer is going crazy. Today Blogger said it was changing and didn't like my browser {how rude!}. So, I just spent like 15 minutes trying to upgrade the browser, and I don't really even know what I'm doing. It's true. So - this may be working or this may not work. I really dislike change. Bah. :/

This weekend I'm heading off to our Ladies Retreat for church. So looking forward to getting away overnight to reconnect, refresh, and retreat. :) On Saturday I'm co-teaching a workshop on...decorating. And I've already mentioned how completely out of my ballpark that topic is. I have a terrible time decorating, but I have the heart and intentions that want to so so badly. Recently I took on a few tasks to see what I could create and to see how it would look. Of course my main place of purchase is Salvation Army, and this time was no exception. 

I've been LOVING all these white pitchers. They are everywhere; Target, Williams Sonoma, BHG magazine. I really like how fresh and bright they make things look. I dislike the price tags attached to them - I've seen some upwards of $30! Really, for a pitcher? For a pitcher you won't even use for beverages?! Gah! So, while digging through the shelves at salval I came across an old, clear, glass pitcher with a cracked handle. Hmmmm. I spray painted it white and voila - just like brand new. :) 
I also found this little basket/cage type thing while I was there. It looked kinda birdcage-ish and had a broken off hook, which I assume was to keep it closed. So, I stuffed it full of my Dollar Tree lemons and limes and tied it close with some raffia. I kinda like it :)
Then today I remembered I had two mini-pitchers leftover from a ladies event last winter. We had spray painted them black - but, I still had some white, got on that. :) I love me some pitchers! Throw in an antique, air loom, doily, my old serving tray, some moss rocks in a nest and my Dollar Tree onion grass - and, I have a new dining room table centerpiece. It's simple and plain - just the way I like it. And it has me. 
I'm learning so much about making things special in my home. My 3 year old is even getting into the spirit, wanting to decorate with cut down trees in the back yard and dandelions in a baby food jar on the table. :) So thankful to be home and so thankful for the opportunity to make this home into our little castle - for my hubby and our children. :) 

It's 80 degrees here today. Beautiful. Back to the great outdoors!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

We have enough of those...

"The modern challenge to motherhood is the eternal challenge-

that of being a godly woman.

The very phrase sounds strange in our ears.

We never hear it now.

We hear about every other type of women: beautiful women, smart women, sophisticated women, career women, talented women, divorced women.

But so seldom do we hear of a godly woman - or of a godly man either, for that matter.

I believe women come nearer to fulfilling their God given function in the home than anywhere else. It is a much nobler thing to be a good wife, then to be Miss America.

It is a greater achievement to establish a Christian home then it is to produce a second rate novel filled with filth.

It is a far, far better thing in the realms of morals to be old fashioned, then to be ultra-modern.

The world has enough women who know how to be smart.

It needs women who are willing to be simple.

The world has enough women who know how to be brilliant.

It needs some who will be brave.

The world has enough women who are popular.

It needs more who are pure.

We need women, and men, too, who would rather be morally right then socially correct."

- Peter Marshall,

former Chaplain the the United States Senate

*exerpt from the book, "Queen of the Home"

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

11 Months ago...

11 Months ago I had a baby.

And this morning I just can't help but notice that tightening in my throat as I watch her crawl around and be 11 months old. My eyes keep letting little tears sneak out...

She's exquisite.

She's happy.

She's another dream come true.

My momma heart wants to freeze the clock and keep her like this - all baby. Why do they have to grow up so fast?!

August Hope...

Mommy loves you.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday...motivated Monday version.

I'm on day TWO of feeling fantastic. I got so much rest this weekend as we had a FULL Saturday of nowhere to go and nothing to do. It was... awesome. Add the rest to being back on the ol' diet and keeping within my WW points - I'm like a new woman! :) Hoping for some dropped numbers on the ol' scale this coming Friday. Anyway, feeling SUPER motivated today to kick it into gear and get this house work done. My goal is get every room tidy and deep clean the kitchen before hubs gets home by 5ish. :) Let's some HHM!

The weather::: Bizarre. It was in the 70's and 80's for weeks... and now we are back to "normal" April weather - with a high of 59 today. Had all kinds of tornados, flash floods and t-storms this weekend in our state. Crazy scary, but thankful for the Lords protection.

On my reading pile::: Started reading "Queen of the Home" this weekend - powerful challenging. It's published by Vision Forum and has great things to say about being Mothers, Wives and Homemakers. Also, still working through "The Meaning of Marriage" by Timothy and Kathy Keller, too.

On my TV::: The kids are watching, "Mike the Knight" right now. Not a Nickelodeon fan anymore... what's up with the grown up commercials during kids shows?!

On the menu for this week:::
Monday - Family dinner with hubbys side... lots of family, lots of food. I'm making cookies or some kind of bars. :)
Tuesday - Skillet lasagna and herbed breadsticks
Wednesday - Church night, probably PBJ sandwiches or Wendys salads.
Thursday - Tacos!!! {family fave}
Friday - Grilled ham & cheese sandwiches with herbed steak fries
Saturday - Ziti and spinach flatbreads
Sunday - Pesto Hamburgers

On my to do list::: Whole house, every room has something to be tidied up. Literally. Then there's laundry, order stamps online, sign up for online bill payments so I can quit buying stamps, organize the paper junk drawer, make cookies. :)

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating::: Nothing right now.

Looking around the house::: Lots of proof of lots of life happening. Kids are on the floor coloring with crayons, markers and colored pencils. Baby is asleep. Toy baskets upturned and spilled out. We are so blessed in this life.

From the camera::: From a wedding we went to a few weeks ago, which featured a FUN photo booth!

Something fun to share::: I'm thinking of taping up a few poster boards and creating an "art station" in our dining room for a few days. My 3 year old seems to love making and creating and I'm hoping to capture some of that! I think she would love the idea of "writing on the wall" or at least standing up to color. Something new and different. :)

On my prayer list::: Friend, Sandy, in the hospital at 32 weeks with her unborn baby. Water has broke and they now await the onset of labor. They are in great hands and just wait to see how everything turns out. Praying she can hold out til 34 weeks even though after a broken water that usually doesn't happen. But, OUR GOD IS GREATER and He knows.
Also really praying for discipline for myself in so many areas: food, home making, patience, discretion.

Bible verse, Devotional::: In my personal time I'm reading through 2 Peter and was reminded today to not be surprised by all the weird and distorted doctrines and teachings people will try. The GOSPEL stands alone and no one can add to it. We need to be on our gaurd and stand firm for truth. Sin is sin, not able to be justified. I'd encourage anyone reading this to read it yourself today and be reminded... click here. Or, at least remember this -

20"People can know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and escape the world’s filth. But if they get involved in this filth again and give in to it, they are worse off than they were before. (21) It would have been better for them never to have known the way of life that God approves of than to know it and turn their backs on the holy life God told them to live. (22) These proverbs have come true for them: “A dog goes back to its vomit,” and “A sow that has been washed goes back to roll around in the mud.” 2 peter 2:20-22

Happy Monday everyone!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Parents Time Away

Our church was full to the brim of children last night.

It was PTA night - Parent Time Away. Our Haiti team was set up to watch these kids and give them a fun 2 1/2 hours while their parents got some time out alone. :) At last count we had over 100... kids, that is. Ages 3 months to 5th grade. wow. That's a LOT of children. And while it was a ton of work - I just can't express in words how much MORE blessing I received, then if I was one of the parents getting time out. At the end of the night I didn't leave with feet and eyelids dragging... I felt refreshed. I felt motivated. I was ready to keep on serving.I don't say that to be braggy. Just to say PRAISE GOD for the way He works in a life. Praise God for teaching me, though I know I'm not the best student. I'm a work in progress, HIS work.

The teens were able to raise over $500 towards their trip to Haiti this summer! We are thrilled and honored to be used in this way. :) The night could not have gone any better. Enjoy some pics of the night!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Disciplines, and... why I REALLY can't seem to get anything done.

Once upon a time I joined Weight Watchers and was shedding weight like a... beast. I was doing it. I was eating well and feeling energized and motivated. People noticed, too. All kinds of nice validation followed. The last few...weeks...I've been Sta-Rug-a-ling.

My minds eye sees a picture of this woman walking on a treadmill, with a bag of cheetos under her arm, just working it. And while very honestly I never buy cheetos or even own a treadmill - this is how I feel. WHY DO THINGS HAVE TO TASTE SO GOOD?! And why on earth is Easter candy so irresistable?! And why when I worked SO hard and lost SO quickly am I so easily tempted to let that weight creep back on?! {Commence annoyed face and harder typing with arched eyebrow}

I just read a blog post. It was Courtney over at Women Living Well - who, to be honest, I haven't started "Following" yet because...because... I fear that once I learn what she offers I'll have no more excuses. But I clicked and read on anyway and wouldn't you know that this is the topic:

Disciplines. {grooooooooan} But this is a good groan, the kind of like "thank you, this is just in time" groan. You pick a goal and the next 5 weeks we will learn about and discuss how to reach it. I'm excited. My goal is to TOTALLY DUMP JUNK FOOD for snacks. Back to my fruit, yogurts, and raw veggies. :) Because as I much as I love my chocolate covered raisins, chips and salsa and ice cream sandwiches - they ain't doin' much for me. I'll admit that. As will my jeans that are now pressing the life out of my waist {again} as I sit here to type. Was that TMI? :/ All this to say - Who's with me?! I'm going to California in October and I'd love to be as svelt as possible by that time. For me, for my husband and ultimately so I can glorify God even more in this life - healthfully!

These two are motivations as well - and, also the reason why my home looks like small earthquakes have happened No matter how tidy I get it at naptime - it always looks like an upturned house shortly after wake up hour. :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easy Feast

Ever have those nights where you feel like the QUEEN of the kitchen? Everything turns out perfect, smells amazing, and even tastes good. I had such a night last evening. :) It was an easy meal {tho different and special...} that came together perfectly. I even had a 3 year old asking for more of the "special salad". Spaghetti, Artichoke-Pepperoni Tossed salad, and Italian cheese bread. Yuuuum. I couldn't keep these recipes to myself in hopes that other mommas could have a smooth, semi-special, and delicious night, too. Better still - inexpensive! I found ALL of my ingredients at Aldi in one trip and spent WAY less then $20 for everything. I didn't break it up into servings and cost per plate, but, it was cheap. Love some cheap.

Now for the recipes:

Artichoke-Pepperoni Tossed Salad

10oz ready to serve salad (I bought Aldi brand salad and I've also made just a homemade salad, too)

14oz jar water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped
4oz shredded italian cheese blend or mozzarella

3 1/2oz pkg pepperoni slices

2oz jar pimientos (we skipped those...I think they taste like bland gobs of goop)

1/4c chopped red onion

1/3c italian dressing

1)In a large bowl, combine salad, artichokes, cheese, pepperoni, onion and pimientos. Drizzle with salad dressing and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

*Does not store well overnight so eat the WHOLE salad. :) Ahem, have guests over so there is someone to share it with.

Italian Cheese Bread

1/4c butter, softened

1lb French Bread, halved lengthwise (I used a Ciabatta loaf... and it was ah-mazing still)

4oz shredded italian cheese blend

1t dried oregano
1/2t garlic salt or just granulated garlic

1) Spread butter over cut sides of bread. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Combine cheese, oregano and garlic in a small bowl; sprinkle over bread. Bake at 350 until cheese melts, about 12-15 minutes.

For the spaghetti - no special recipe. Used whole wheat spaghetti and chose a new tomato basil sauce. Yum. {sigh} It feels so rewarding to serve a meal that everyone loves and asks for seconds on! :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cookies with my firstborn

Perhaps I'm the only one with this issue of living in reality.

I really truly do think in "tv" sometimes. Like... "Leave it to Beaver" or "Andy Griffith" tv. You know, things are just GOOD and FUN and SPECIAL all the time. Feel good kinda life. And I really truly do want to be the kind of GOOD, FUN, SPECIAL mom. I do. But I have to laugh out loud how life happens sometimes... even the best of my intentions just seems to get all crazy out of whack most of the time.

For example:

I wanted to make sugar cookie cut outs with Ava this weekend. She enjoys baking with me and I looked forward to that special time, just the two of us, that I'm finding is SO vital with her. She just thrives on the one-on-one attention and loves learning. But in my mind I would look like THIS while baking with my beautiful daughter...

Only, less cartoonish... ;) But, you get the point. Put together, prepared...
But, instead, Ava and I made our cookies with mommy still in PJ's, glasses on, makeup still not on, and messy kitchen behind it.

At least I had my fancy apron on. :)

But guess what? Ava had a BLAST! And, she didn't even care or notice Mommy's lack of...luster. Just another reminder to me to live in the NOW, in the very moment I'm given. We went on to have a great few minutes together making cookies. She did a great job. I'm amazed that in just a year she can now use a rolling pin, the cookie cutters and even spread her own flour all by herself. She loves getting her apron on and setting to work. So proud of her!

What a blessing to me "Momma" to these precious children of mine. And, I should include some news on my Auggie Hope. She has started standing and pulling herself along the furniture. Look out world, she's on the move! (she'll be 11 months on the 17th)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Better then store bought

Growing up my mom was fantastic about making things for us. She was crafty. And if she couldn't make something she was good at redirecting us to find something to do... imaginative. :)

I so want to be the kind of momma that is good at making and creating and bringing FUN into our home, but sometimes it seems store bought items are just... easier. {gasp!}

I read these blogs about DIY this or make your own that and my heart swells thinking I could...but, then I don't. Time people, things take time. And I honestly don't know how these mothers of 5+ have the time to do all these homemade this and thats! I suppose they manage their days and work hard and are all organized. :)


Yesterday I came across an idea that I just knew I could do. And... proud to say, I did it! Homemade playdoh. It was fast, easy, and has already created LOTS of fun in this house for a certain 3 year old busy body. Tiffany, over at A Moment Cherished, posted the idea yesterday and I jumped right onto it. She also has so many great things to say about Adoption, homeschooling, marriage, being a pastors wife, etc... check her out. She's a powerful, Godly, deep read. You will not be disappointed.

But the playdoh. It's done and lovely. Here is what you need:

Oh, you mean... you can't read my ingredient list? Ha! This is ALL I could find in the way of scrap paper yesterday. It's funny now, wasn't so much then. :)
You'll need:
1 1/4 c flour
1/4 c salt
kool aid packet
1 T cream of tartar
1 c boiling water
1 1/2 T oil

Mix the first 4 ingredients in a bowl and add in the boiling water. Stir with a fork until combined. I added in the oil as I was combining.

Turn out onto a floured surface after it's cooled a bit. Knead in plenty of flour until it's no longer sticky and feels more like actual store bought play doh. Done.My word of advice is to store it WELL labeled. Just in case you have a hubby who is notorious for snitiching bites of cookie dough... that would be quite the mistake. :)
You can use any kind of kool aid - and I think that is the most fun about it. We used Black Cherry because thats what we had on hand. You could get all sorts of smells and flavors depending on what you used. :) Thank goodness we happened to have Pink!

It's seriously so much better then store bought!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The first time She said it

(source: Bing images)

Two nights ago as I put my 3 year old into her bed She said "it". "Mommy, I want you to go away". It felt like my heart would rip in half as I closed the door and blinked hard at the tears forming in my eyes. She was mad and was using any angle she could to express that. I know she didn't mean it. Obviously, if mommy went away her life would be dramatically different. BUT IT HURT. It was the first time my baby had spoken to me like that...

Momma's, if you have the time, head over to Sally Clarkson's blog today and see what she has to say. It was a GREAT encouragement to my heart this morning and an awesome reminder of just how much our children really DO love us, even if we don't always have "Rock Star Status". I'm also reminded of how important it is to NOT GIVE UP!
Come back here and tell me your creative ways of curbing those mouthy girl situations when you are done with Sally's page. :)