Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Miracles and Prayers

It has been a while since I have posted. Perhaps I was waiting for a miracle to whack me in the head so that I could write one fabulous, miraculous, all powerful post. Let's just say that hasn't happened yet. Hubby is still unemployed with no jobs in the near future.

While most would be full of fear and anxiety, we have been blessed by this time of togetherness. It has given us the time to reflect on our lives thus far. We have realized that we can live on much, much less money. It has given us new determination to save more, do more for others, and be better stewards of our resources in the future. Mostly, it has made us realize that we need nothing. We have food, water, shelter, and above all each other and a God that loves us.

Security for some is a job, a nest egg, money for emergencies. I am not advocating anyone not save money but what I have come to realize is that it can all be gone in an instant and our faith in God alone is what carries us forward. He alone is the only true security in this world. No other living person, thing, or amount of money can give us the security of God. He promises eternal life but also He promises to meet our needs. Like the birds do not have to worry about what they will eat, we too have that security. (Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26)

I had been asked to make some costumes for the dance studio. I had been praying for the money to buy the materials since I barter lessons for costumes. God is faithful and in the end, the studio did not need the costumes. I had prayed for a vacation because I really needed to get away. God answered my prayer in the form of a dear friend that paid my way to an upcoming sewing retreat. It is just the time I need to work on Christmas presents for the girls using fabric that I found in my stash.

My prayers are consistently answered and yet there is still doubt. I think everyone struggles with doubt. The devil gets into our head and plants these doubts. God gives us the courage to stand up and stand firm against the devil if we only ask for strength. It is a continuous battle but it is one I do not face alone. The Lord is my strength and my shield.

For dinner tonight...pot roast at church!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Doc Google

Have you ever had strange symptoms and turned to google rather than a doctor? I've read studies reporting that more and more people are turning to google and medical message boards when faced with medical symptoms. WebMD doesn't survive on information alone. I am sure it is funded by the pharmaceutical ads blinking in the corners.

What has gone wrong with our medical care that we are more comfortable turning to the internet for answers? I would be willing to bet that the majority of people that turn to the internet fall into one of a couple categories. Perhaps they have no insurance to pay for a doctor visit and are trying some home remedies first in an effort to save the cost of an office visit. Perhaps they have been to doctor after doctor only to be no closer to a diagnosis and are turning to the internet for the elusive diagnosis. If they are turning to a message board, maybe they just want someone to actually listen to them and sympathize.

Our medical care in the US has gotten so frustratingly reliant on the newest drug available that doctors have stopped trying to figure out what is truly wrong. Rather than figure out what is wrong, they medicate the symptoms and shove us out the door. For years I complained of hormonal problems. I went to doctor after doctor, only to be told time and again that I needed either birth control pills or antidepressants. At my wits end, I settled for a hysterectomy hoping to avoid the horrendous side effects of medication. I am not one that handles medication well. I tend to have all the side effects listed on the bottle and some that doctors refuse to believe (like the all over itching caused by birth control pills). So surgery solved the pain but didn't solve my hormonal imbalance.

I've had a similar experience with my digestive tract. When the tests came back negative, and everything appeared normal, they offered to medicate the symptoms. Yet again, I do not handle medication well so the medication is worse than the symptoms. After years of no help, I took matters into my own hands and did a food journal and an elimination diet only to find that there were several foods that made me particularly ill. Eliminating them not only helped my digestive tract, it did wonders for my skin.

My sis-in-law has fought most of her life with doctors only to find that she has been battling lyme disease for years and years. The doctors didn't know the answers so they assumed it must be mental. At one point, her kidneys were not retaining any fluid. She was very sick and went to a kidney doctor for help. He accused her of being anorexic and offered no help. I guess he didn't have a drug to medicate the symptom and felt threatened.

What have we done to our health? We poison our foods and our environment. We cram our bodies full of half tested drugs with numerous side effects. I really think the link to cancer is our environment, our food supply, our medical care, and our lifestyle. Obesity is a growing epidemic even though they keep trying to find the magic pill to fix it. Stress has fallen on the youngest of elementary kids as they try not to be left behind. We don't eat real food. We don't exercise and we don't get out in the fresh air. Perhaps if we fought to prevent disease, the doctors wouldn't be so reliant on drugs to fix us.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Family Dinner

Some may wonder why I am so obsessive about dinners. As a child we ate family dinners together every night. I remember my mom cutting portions smaller and smaller to accommodate my teenage friends that often arrived at dinner time. She never turned anyone away, but would add more rice, make a bigger salad, or add more bread to the meal. I remember those chicken breasts getting smaller and smaller, much to the dismay of my hungry dad. I lived in "that" house. The one where everyone felt loved and safe. The place where everyone hung out on sultry summer evenings. Mom would inevitably make an appearance on the screened porch with a tray of drinks and a bag of popcorn or chips. There were kids digging in the fridge. There were extra teenage bodies strewn about the family room many mornings. My friends so loved our house that they would come and stay when I was not even home.

Children can sense a safe, loving home. They gravitate to those houses. My mom never complained about the extra mouths to feed. She never grumbled about the disappearing sodas and kids digging in her fridge. She reveled in the joy of knowing where her kids were, that they were safe, and that she could sleep peacefully.

Well into our older teen years, my brother and I were often home for dinner. Mom said she found out all the important information at the dinner table. She found out which kids were struggling, how we were doing in school, how we were getting along with our friends, and the latest gossip spreading through the neighborhood and school hallways. It gave them a chance to offer advice on our problems and reconnect as a family.

The family dinner has become a tale of antiquity. No longer important in this fast paced world that values travel sports over family togetherness. Parents must divide and conquer to get the kids to all their activities which are conveniently scheduled during the dinner hours. What happened to school activities right after school? I was an active kid. I swam and danced. I worked and dated. How was I still able to be home for dinner? Quite simply, activities were never scheduled during dinner hours.

I guard our family dinners with the fierceness of a bear protecting her cubs. It is important. My girls at younger ages learned how to behave at the table. They learned how to engage in conversation and be polite. How can we expect them to behave in a restaurant when they don't sit at the table at home? As they have gotten older, I find so much truth in my mother's words. We get all the important information at the dinner table. Food has a way of knocking down barriers and opening up honest conversation. We laugh. We play silly games. We tell stupid jokes. We have some serious conversations. We go over things that happened during the day. It is my favorite time of the day. It is not about the food, it is about the family.

Here is my hectic, running around, no time to cook crockpot taco recipe...

2 lbs. ground beef
1 chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 can diced chile peppers
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 can tomato paste
1/2 C water
1 pkg. taco seasoning (I make my own but store bought works too)

Brown ground beef. Add onions and garlic and saute a couple minutes. Place in crockpot. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Cook on low 5-8 hours. Makes great leftovers for taco salad!

Serve with tortillas, roasted corn (or frozen corn), salad, and all the toppings.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Our friend and cabinet guy Rodney over at Wooden Innovations installed the sink cabinet this week. We thought our favorite plumber would get to us this week, but it will be early next week before we see the completion of our bathroom remodel. The lighting has been ordered and I still need to go buy a mirror. I found an antique, silver, framed mirror at the flea market that would look beautiful. I just need to go buy it.

Hubby is still job hunting. The girls and I started back to school "officially" this week. Some couples thrive on their time away from each other. We are one of those odd couples that likes having each other around. His time at home is a blessing not a burden. I suppose my husband is just odd in general. He likes being home with me and the girls. He helps around the house, in fact putting laundry away is his job. He's not interested in looking at other women or even joking about that. He hates to travel for work because he would rather be home. He took his lunch to work because he always says my leftover cooking is better than anything he could get in a restaurant. As much as people joke about their in-laws, I have to give them all the praise for raising 2 amazing men.

I was lucky enough to get one of those men. My sister in law was lucky enough to get the other. My brother in law has been through a lot in the past couple years. My sister in law has been fighting late stage lyme disease. She has been to the point they thought she would die. I think lesser men would have run away from what they have been through, but it has made them strongly united. You can read her story at Our Life In My Words.

I am excited about the future. Some are amazed that I am not afraid because I do not know what lies ahead. The truth is, do we ever know what lies ahead? We think we can plan the years ahead and lay out our path but we do not know what our futures hold. I do know that God is good, that He loves me, and that the Bible says "do not be afraid". My faith in God's big plan makes me excited. He has big things for me and my family just around the corner and I cannot wait to see tomorrow. This is the day the Lord hath made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

For dinner tonight? Maybe chicken.... It is Saturday after all.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Could You Live Without?

I do most of my thinking in the shower. The water drowns out the dogs snoring, the kids bickering, and my husband puttering. It's a good time for me to think, pray, and just be alone. So I was thinking this afternoon, as I rinsed the colorant out of my hair to cover the ever increasing number of gray sprouts, what one thing could I live without if I had to cut the budget further?

My hair color was $13 on sale at Harry's and I refuse to give that up. I look young and if I had a head of gray hair, everyone would be terribly confused. I'll stick with my medium golden brown, thank you. I say that I could give up the cable, but could I really survive without Tim Gunn? Perhaps not. I could live without meat, but my husband and rapidly growing children would wither and fall away. I could give up my cell phone in an instant and get a pay as you go. I love my i-Phone but I know it is a want not a need. Our biggest bill outside our mortgage right now is our electric bill because it has been so hot. I will not turn off my A/C. If I had to get a job to keep it turned on, I would be out pounding the pavement rather than blogging.

I suppose I could look at what I have already given up: shopping, vacations, new furniture, the ASG Convention, and a new kitchen. Our budget cuts have not been too deep when I think about it. I still eat the foods I love, still have a couch, albeit a teal green couch, still have a kitchen, albeit an ugly one, and best of all, I still have my family, my pugs, and a place to live. Does God ever promise us more than necessities? Nope.

I got to thinking after I talked to a friend of mine that insisted that her kids needed name brand clothing because they have to fit in. She was not willing to give up anything to afford her kids clothing. In fact, these same kids have i-phones. What does that teach those children? I think those kids will grow up feeling entitled to all the things that everyone else can afford. Nobody ever bothered to tell them "no, we cannot afford that".

My kids are well aware of their daddy's unemployment. They understand that we won't go to the beach this year if he doesn't have a job. They understand that we don't have $40 to go see Toy Story III in the theater. These are the life lessons that will serve them well into adulthood. We are not destitute but it is because of our financial responsibility that we are ok. This is exactly why God wants us to be financially responsible and to teach our children how to be financially responsible. Life is much less stressful when we are good stewards of what He has given us.

For dinner tonight...???? We're going to a birthday party! I'll post our favorite cake recipe tomorrow.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Knitting Socks

I am currently obsessed with knitting socks. It has been one of those "things" on my list for years. I have my own sort of Bucket List with things that I would like to try or do in my life. Things that I would like to try just to see if I like them.

I have always said that I would knit just one sock and never make it's mate. I have done some research about socks. Checked out some sock making books from the library and placed others on reserve to wait for them to be delivered to my local library. The first book was about making socks 2 at a time on circular needles. What I made was a huge mess of circular needle cable and yarn. There was this awful laddering going on down the sides and I finally gave up.

I thought that double pointed needles (DPN's or skewers as my kids call them) would be hard and I envisioned one stuck up my nose. To my surprise, they are easier than the circular needle method and socks knit up rather quickly. I haven't finished one yet but am working my way down the foot. The best instructions I have found came from Come to Silver I suppose I will finish this pair of socks even though the size is off and the gauge is really small. I would like to try a pair with worsted weight and bigger needles.

As promised, my Chimichanga Recipe...

Chicken Chimichangas
Black olives
Monterey Jack cheese (optional)
Refried beans (or black beans from previous post)
Sour Cream
Shredded lettuce
Cheddar Cheese
Large tortillas
1 C chicken broth
1 C water
1/2 C red enchilada sauce
1 C long grain rice
Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes or until done.

4 C diced cooked chicken
Cook cut up chicken with cumin, chili powder, garlic (optional) salt and pepper. Alternatively, a rotisserie chicken would work.

Spoon equal amounts of the following into a tortilla: Rice mixture, refried beans, chicken, black olives, monterrey jack cheese. Turn top and bottom up and then roll and place seam side down on greased cookie sheet. Spray tops of finished chimichangas lightly with cooking spray. Bake at 425 F for 8-10 minutes or until lightly brown. Serve with remaining red enchilada sauce, sour cream, cheddar, guacamole, and lettuce.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cooking Without

Honestly, I do love to cook and it is a good thing. While I was nursing my first daughter, I had to avoid dairy. She still continued to scream for hours on end and not sleep. I was at my wits end with her. She screamed inconsolably until she was about a year old. Everyone who knew me then was shocked that I would even consider having another, let alone actually go through with it.

I was shocked when my 2nd daughter arrived 6 weeks early. Placenta previa was the culprit and let me just tell you, it's a scary ending to a pregnancy. Because she was a preemie, we visited every pediatric -ologist you could imagine. Neonatologist, pulmonologist, opthamalogist, and lastly gastroenterologist. When she developed blood in her stool it was the gastroenterologist that shed light on not only her problems, but the problems with my previous infant. She had what he described as a classic case of protein intolerance. This diagnosis severely impacted my diet. I was told to eliminate soy, dairy, beef, eggs, chocolate (yes, really), and nuts. Within a week the problems all cleared up and she was a happy, smiley baby again. If only I had known the first time around.

Fast forward 9 years and they have outgrown all their issues. It was just a case of an immature digestive tract, not a life long problem. I began eating all my usual favorites again. I began having terrible digestive problems. It seems my body forgot how to digest dairy products and not just lactose, it is a cannot digest dairy protein problem. That was soon followed by trouble with soy, onions, and garlic. The onion I can live without, the garlic has been rather hard. The trick is that either dairy, soy, or onion is found in all processed foods. That eliminates cookies, salsa, Italian cuisine, Mexican cuisine, fast food, flavored rice or couscous, potluck dinners, the list goes on and on.

This is where the love of cooking has come in handy. I have been cooking dinner since we first got married. We rarely eat out because I'd rather eat at home. I have developed work arounds for most cuisines and recipes that allow me to eat what I want without consequence. Last night dinner was Baked Chimichangas. I will give the recipes for dairy/soy, onion, and garlic free Mexican over the next 2 days. If you can have those things, by all means add 1/4 C salsa and 2 cloves of garlic to the Enchilada sauce, First up Red Enchilada Sauce and Rena's Black Beans...

Red Enchilada Sauce
1 can diced tomatoes, pureed
1/2 tsp oregano
2 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp basil
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 C water

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered 15-20 minutes.

Rena's Black Beans
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 C water (or chicken broth)
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer, stirring occasionally and mashing beans with the back of a spoon. Be careful to not burn the bottom. If it gets too thick, add more water. Mine looks close to refried bean consistency when I am done.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

I have been reading Andy Stanley's Principle of the Path and it hit me last night that I was heading down a path that led to a place I didn't want to be. We were heading to financial instability. We were taking our financial responsibility and throwing it out the window. It was time we acknowledged our situation, accepted the truth, and chose a new direction.

My hubby's unemployment has definitely redirected our focus. Suppose we had taken on this massive renovation and then he were unemployed. Would we have the necessary savings to survive until the next job presented itself? I'm laying it all out here in black and white in hopes that others may take warning. We were planning on borrowing the money to renovate the kitchen. Now I don't have a problem with borrowing responsibly. To me that means being able to pay it back and having a plan to do so. D and I had a heart to heart the other night and he questioned whether I would ever be able to take on that kind of debt in order to remodel the kitchen. My reply was that if we had 6 months living expenses and included the payment that would be required on that loan, then I would be comfortable borrowing. I need to know that if he were unemployed again, we would be able to weather the storm as we are now.

What's for dinner tonight...well, I'll tell you what NOT to have for dinner tonight. Last night we had this fabulous molasses marinated pork as seen on Good Eats with Alton Brown. It was fabulous but the marinade had coffee in it and lets just say there wasn't much sleeping going on at our house. Serve it with baked beans, pasta salad, and some fruit and it's a great summer time meal, just make sure you are prepared to be awake.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My God is So BIG...

"I know that you can do all things;
no plan of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?'
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
Job 42:2-3

How many hopes can you dream fulfilled for the future? If you are like me, imaginative in spirit, you can probably come up with a dozen different scenarios of how life will play out. What is amazing to me is that God's plans are always better than our own. In the midst of trial and uncertainty, it is hard to remember how big our God is and that He is all knowing. He knows where we need to be and what we need better than we know.

I believe our lives are like paths. They all lead to certain places but there are different ways to get there. Sometimes we choose the long path, through the desert and over the mountain. Sometimes it's a leisurely, flat half mile stroll to the next destination. Sometimes we are hopelessly lost in the dark woods and cannot see the path at all. No matter where we are, we can hold up our hand and God will take it and lead us through. We have choices and all of them bare consequences. By grace, the road ends at the Pearly Gates.

I cannot see the path right now. I know that God is leading my family. I want it all to work out my way. I can see the many options and think I know what is best. The truth is, I still need to work on Letting Go and Letting God. I can stand and pitch a fit that I am not getting my way, which is what I want to do, or I can sit back and watch God's hand work a miracle. I pray that I can share this miracle in the coming weeks and months.

For dinner tonight...the salmon we didn't have last night in favor of whole wheat waffles smothered in homemade blackberry jam. I do love the Farmer's Markets!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

SWAP and Progress

The bathroom remodel continues to progress albeit slower than my girls anticipated. We are trying to get the rest of the drywall touched up along the ceiling so we can prime and paint ahead of the plumber who is coming Friday to return the toilet to it's rightful location. He is also hooking up the tub/shower so that we will once again have 2 showers in our house. Emma has marched through our room several nights after bedtime grumbling about how she can't wait to have her toilet back. Trust me, we cannot wait for her to have that toilet back either. Privacy is something we take for granted until it is gone. Below is the current state of things. By the end of the week, it should be much improved.

I am embarking on another Fall SWAP (Sewing With A Plan) for my oldest daughter. We really struggle with appropriate clothing for a proper young lady. I want her to look fashionable so no dowdy, dumpy, or frumpy at my house. However, I want her to maintain her modesty.

Originally, I had planned to do a SWAP for me but then realized that she needs clothes, again. If my kids didn't grow so fast, I would have a fabulous wardrobe. In light of our current financial situation, my goal is to make her a fall wardrobe from my existing stash of fabrics. There will be no planning and then buying the fabrics. There will be planning and then digging around in my sewing room to make it work.

Together we went through my pattern magazines (Ottobre, of course) and decided on some styles that she liked. She has asked for more skirts and tops rather than dresses this year. I am also planning some capri leggings to wear with skirts or tunics. They are comfortable and versatile for her active lifestyle. I try to keep current on fashion trends, even though my wardrobe betrays my interest. One trend I was amused to see this year is blouses buttoned all the way up. My girls have been on that trend for years. I have tried to get them to leave the top button open but they insist that those buttons are meant to be buttoned. What can I say...they are ahead of the fashion trends.

For dinner tonight...hamburgers (made with our favorite Hodge Ranch grass fed beef), potatoes, green beans, and maybe a salad if I get motivated.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Spare the Rod, Use a Board

"He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." Proverbs 13:24

This verse has come up numerous times in the last couple weeks and always in support of beating children. I remember being spanked as a child and I remember feeling humiliated and crushed in spirit. I do not think God wants us to beat our children. He wants us to discipline them.

So what is the definition of discipline? "Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement." ( Notice the definition says training, not abuse. In contrast the definition of punishment is "A penalty imposed for wrongdoing" ( or my favorite definition "Rough handling; mistreatment" ( If we hit, are we training our children to be bullies? Are we training them that it is morally ok to hit other people that are smaller and not expect retaliation? What course of action would a parent take if their child smacked another child because that child did not do what they wanted? How do you tell them that hitting is only ok when I am hitting you? Surely all of this sends a mixed message. Not to mention, at what point does spanking become abusive. I heard a lady say that if it leaves a bruise, your hitting too hard! That's a very fine line indeed.

My children are very well behaved at 9 and 11. People always comment on their gentle nature and kind-hearted spirits. How did we get to that point? One word, discipline. Notice I did not say punishment. The goal of discipline is to teach. Our best teaching tool is our example. We teach others how we want to be treated. I treat my children with respect and dignity. I treat them how I want to be treated.

I told them from the time they could understand words that God wanted me to teach them how to behave so that others would take the time to get to know them. If they were poorly behaved, nobody would take the time to get to know the wonderful people that I know them to be. I have always been consistent in my discipline. No always means no. When I say that we are leaving, we actually leave. I don't announce we are leaving and then sit and chat for 20 minutes while they wait. I follow through with what I say. If I say we are not going to the beach unless your room is clean, they know that we will not go to the beach. I am fully prepared to follow through with the consequences even if it means inconvenience for me. If I am not prepared to follow through, I do not make the threat.

At some point, spanking becomes ridiculous. You cannot spank a 16 year old boy and expect to get results. At that point, you have to figure out how to make them behave without abuse. If they have no respect for you or what you say, you have already lost the battle. Discipline is hard work and often inconvenient but the work done early in life, makes life easier in the long run. Spanking may be a convenient source of discipline in the near term, but respect is much more powerful.

I personally like this verse for discipline versus the latter.
"Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6

Monday, July 19, 2010

Living on Faith

In a strange turn of events, my husband resigned from his job today. It had become obvious over the last few months that he was not a good fit for this company for a number of reasons. Things came to a head on Friday with him and the CEO. We discussed his options over the weekend and both decided that he needed to move on.

So here we are with our mostly finished bathroom, no closets in my bedroom, and an unemployed husband. I have faith that God is in control. I have faith that he will not let us be homeless and hungry. God has provided for our family in abundance over the years. We have let Him direct my husband's career path and He will continue to do so. We just have to be still and wait on God.

I would rather be in the future looking back to see how it worked out rather than sitting here wondering how it will work out. Notice that I did not say "if" it will work out. Our God is a loving, compassionate, God and somehow this will work out. He can bring beauty from the ashes. He can turn those terrible situations into blessings. He can do all things if we allow Him the chance.

Today I praise God for his providence. I praise him for the sun shining in my window. I praise him for the beautiful daughters I have the privilege of raising. I praise him for my health, a place to live, and food to eat. I praise him for a better tomorrow, whenever that day will arise. And until that day, we will live with the hope that it is coming.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Integrity by definition means steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code ( So it means to live with integrity you must maintain a strict moral code. In our family, we believe that moral code comes from God. The Holy Spirit will direct your heart and give you an internal moral compass. So what does it look like to live with integrity?

A friend was offered a job with an outrageous salary, excellent benefits, and a sizeable bonus. The position itself was also desirable. Head of the department reporting directly to the CIO. He would have two directors reporting into him both in charge of 40 person teams. Seems like a dream job if you just look at the financial package and the position. He turned it down on integrity. The company made it's money in the title loan business. True the company does serve a purpose, but at what cost? Are they making money by praying on the financially unstable or the financially ignorant? If you google the list of complaints, it becomes obvious that the company is making money on the less fortunate and quite possibly, knowingly pushing them into more desperate circumstances. Living with integrity definitely involves being able to sleep at night with a clear conscience.

The bathroom remodeling continues in full swing. The tile guys were here today putting up greenboard on the walls and backer board on the floor. It looks so different with the shiny new tub and solid walls. They said they would be finished by the end of the week. If only the sink cabinet wasn't going to take 3 more weeks.

I also had a visit from Juan the Painter. I could tell that he was the painter by the paint splattered all across his face like so many white freckles. I don't believe he understand very many words that I said, but he was very pleasant and agreeable. I kept telling him that the walls would be different and there would be another room off the back but I don't think he understood. He just kept moving and asking questions..."you want ceiling paint? I paint trim? Deez cabinets too? Ok, I go outside now". Juan the Painter will be very surprised when he returns to paint the house.

What was for dinner tonight? Cantonese grilled pork (Cooking Light), green beans, ciabatta, and a salad with honey lemon vinaigrette. For dessert...Crispy Creme...every now and again it's ok:-)

Our Favorite Sauteed Green Beans
Steam fresh green beans (we get ours from the local farmer's market)
Saute garlic and 1 tbsp. olive oil in a nonstick pan. Add steamed green beans, Italian Seasoning, pinch of salt, and a sprinkle of black pepper. Stir to coat and serve. You can add steamed red potatoes or yellow squash to the mix and it's good too.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bang, Crash, BOOOOOM!

My world today was full of crashing and booming. The guys came to remove the old cast iron tub this morning. Who knew that it could be broken up with a sledge hammer and carried out in fourths. Even my pugs, who are afraid of nothing, ducked and covered with each crashing blow of the sledge. My girls retreated to the front yard to trace themselves on the road with chalk. They said it was clearly audible outside.

When the tile guys left, Jose the Framer showed up to have a look at the demolition and remodel of the kitchen, sunroom, family room, powder room, and master bath...ok the rest of the house. He was a great guy and very sweet. He asked all sorts of questions to which my reply was "I don't know. Make it pretty." I've learned too many construction words in the last few weeks...flange, footers, framing, headers, diverter valve, and a few more I can't remember at the moment. I would rather deal with the pretty words...valance, couch, chaise, stacked get my drift. Needless to say, I am way out of my comfort zone. A general contractor I am not, but I am functioning as one for this bath remodel. I am more than ready to hand over the reins to the professionals.

Jose the Framer hung out for a little while talking about roof lines and then plants, which is something I do know. He left and the plumber called to tell me he would not be coming today. He had gotten held up at the morning job and couldn't get to us until tomorrow. So I called the tile guy and he said well there is no point in me coming until Wednesday. I think he was happy to have a day of golf. I got off the phone with the plumber and our fabulous interior designer, Kristy, called to say "WHAT?" about the e-mail I had sent her updating her on everything going on in my house. She had done the plans for us and it has been about 3 years in the works. Job changes, condemned furnaces, flooded basements, and all that life can throw at you in the middle of a great plan had come to bear in the midst of our interior redesign.

Of course she was on the phone when the "big crew" from Cobb County showed up for a drive by and to tell us they would be digging a giant hole in our front yard tomorrow and that we might lose some plants. I called them twice to tell them we had a water leak. My neighbor has made it his summer job to get them out here to fix the leak before it kills his Irises. Unfortunately, I think the "big crew" might just kill them for him. The poor irises won't stand a chance against the giant back hoe they paraded by the house this afternoon. I do think the guy that came to the door looked oddly like that guy from that silly show a couple years ago, Average Joe.

I'm curious who will leave us without water longer tomorrow, the plumber or the "big crew"? I suppose I should go fill some buckets so we can flush.

What was for dinner tonight? Ha, ha, Chinese take out. After all, even the best cooks need a night off every now and again.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New Skirt and More Demolition

Nothing quite like a new skirt to make you feel fresh and fabulous. This is quite possibly the simplest skirt ever. It is 2 pattern pieces, no zippers, no buttons, elastic waist, and made of a soft jersey. Feels like pajamas, looks like Ann Taylor Loft.

Strangely, I think it had been overlooked in the last Ottobre Woman pattern magazine. I'm sure it ran right under everyone's radar, overshadowed by the showier, more complicated patterns. In fact, my initial reaction was "eh". I was looking for something to make the other day before I had to get started on dinner and as an excuse to just sit and watch tv for an hour. I didn't have loads of time or energy to tackle something big. I thought about making a tote, but alas, I have lots of those. Maybe a little quilt? Oh that's right, I only like to think about quilting, not actually quilt. I perused my stash of Ottobre magazines searching for inspiration and that's when this little skirt jumped out at me.

I figured if it didn't look good, I could just wear it around the house or to the pool. I think it turned out quite cute and I foresee several more in different colors. This skirt might just replace my current khaki capri and t-shirt uniform.

Warning: do not try this at home. Open windows may cause death by falling. Our renovations continued with the removal of the bathroom window. We ordered one from the big orange box store and it came in on Friday a full 1-2 weeks ahead of schedule.

It would have been a quick pull out the old, stick in the new had we ordered the right size. We now know the definition of "rough opening" and "window dimensions". FYI, they are not the same thing. I had to snap a picture of my children leaning out the window just to torment their granny a bit.

I'm sure the neighbors think we are nuts. What with all the changes in our yard and house in the last 6 years. Plus we're homeschoolers living in a "great school district" which automatically puts us in the "odd" category. Add to that the strange things we've been known to do as a family...standing in the pouring rain with an umbrella just for fun, hunting toads in the dark, experimenting with various ways to ignite fireworks in the driveway, my kids chalk traced outlines in the road (think murder scene investigation), and so many other things that I've probably already shrugged off as normal.

For dinner tonight...Good old ground beef tacos, grilled corn, black beans, and chips. Following is my taco seasoning recipe (so much yummier than the packaged kind).

Taco Seasoning
1 tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1//2 tsp paprika (we like hot paprika)
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Mix it all together and add to browned, drained ground beef (about a pound). Add 1/3 C water and simmer while you get everything else on the table. Somehow ours turns out different every time...either more or less spicy.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Faith and Renovations

I'll be honest, I like to tick things off my to-do list. It gives me a visual of my accomplishments. I actually do better when there are lots of things on my list rather than a lot of free time. I have lots of things on my list for "when I am free" but they seldom get done because they have not actually been put on my to do right now list. I suppose that is why I don't often sew for myself unless there is an actual occasion. My girls' clothes are on my to do list because they continue to grow even after my threats to put bricks on their heads and stop feeding them. If I don't sew for them, they will eventually be naked and with an 11 year old daughter, that would be traumatic.

Now there are some things that get put on my to do list that I just choose to ignore and pretend they will go away. This would be the case with needing to call the plumber. He has already been out once and much to my dismay, I failed to explain exactly where the hot and cold water lines need to come out of the wall. He split the lines so I could have the much anticipated double sink for the girls but the stubs would come out in the middle of the vanity cabinet shelf. Not exactly the look I was after. I also could not seem to wrap my head around how to schedule him and the tile guy and how they would possibly work around each other. I need the tile guy to remove the tub. I need the plumber to replace the diverter valve before the tile guy puts up the walls. The plumber said he wouldn't replace it until the tub was out because he didn't want the new ones to get broken. With all this uncertainty, I chose to do nothing and pray it would all sort out.

The tile guy called this morning and said he was having a time getting his plumber to find time to put the new tub in and he couldn't do anything until it was installed. Happily, I suggested that if he could still remove the old tub, my plumber could put in the new tub. The new tub will be exiting Monday morning and the new tub will be placed in it's new residence Monday afternoon. I am hopeful that we will have the tub and toilet back by the end of next week. The sink is definitely a few weeks out but the extra toilet upstairs is a really big deal, especially in the middle of the night.

I am convinced that often God wants us to be still and wait. He can do all things and He will if we only give him the chance . Sometimes having faith is the hard choice when all we want to do is tick things off our list.

For dinner tonight...sandwiches on homemade honey whole wheat bread with fresh tomatoes from the Farmer's Market at the Avenues.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Before & After

My whole life in this house has been one continuous before and after. Yes, 6 years of construction, progress, and the pain of hard labor. Child birth has nothing on carrying out a 400 lbs. marble counter top with attached sink.

On the left was the bathroom as it was Saturday morning. On the right is the bathroom as it ended Sunday night. Our family is really good at demolition. The picture at left is strangely deceptive. Some would think that that bathroom was after the remodel. What is deceptive is that the vanity is 30 years old and the doors no longer stay shut without the aide of a very strong magnet. I can't tell you how many times in the last 6 years I have whacked myself in the shin with those very doors trying to overcome the very strong magnet. The floor tiles are cracked and discolored. The sink is also cracked and the fixtures are broken. We painted over the multiple layers of wallpaper when we realized that the wallpaper had been applied to un-primed drywall. The tub has long given up it's glossy new-ness in favor of a very stained, uneven, satin finish. The grout in the shower was also growing some serious mildew. I have some plans for this bath to restore it's former glory.

At left is our house the day we purchased it. Our realtor thought we had lost our minds. At right is our house post-jungle. I had the vision to see through the chaos. I knew that the bones underneath the mess were beautiful. This house, not surprisingly, had sat on the market for 10 long months. I thank God for saving it just for us. I wasn't sure how we were going to make it beautiful when we bought it, but I had faith in the plan. God placed us here in this neighborhood, in this house and I knew that He would ultimately take responsibility for the how and when we just had to be patient.

Patience is not my strongest virtue. I want it done now and the way I want it. What I have come to realize is that God's way and timing is always better than anything I can imagine. Were it my choice, I would not have remodeled the basement. I would have done the kitchen 2 years ago instead. Little did I know that the drought would soon be over in a big way and our basement was not even remotely waterproof prior to our remodel. I got a new sewing room which has been such a blessing. We put in a second kitchen which will be so wonderful when we finally can remodel. The Lord has provided in miraculous ways. I am excited to see what He will do next.

For dinner tonight: Grilled Pizza- this pizza gets a great smokey wood grilled flavor from being on the grill. It's our favorite method of pizza cooking and we use our grill year round.

1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 1/2 C white bread flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/8 C honey
1 C warm water
1 pkg. rapid rise yeast
Pizza toppings of your choice

Combine water, yeast, honey, oil, and salt in a bowl. Mix. Add in whole wheat flour. Add enough white flour to make a soft, smooth dough. Let rise 45 min. Punch down dough and shape into pizza. Place on heated grill (yes on the grates). Flip after a couple minutes and add pizza toppings. We like fresh basil, sun dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese. If your pizza is large and has lots of toppings, you might want to pull it off the grill while you decorate. Cook until cheese is melted.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Sweets

I love the fresh fruits and berries of summer. I love all the fresh veggies too. Growing up in Maryland in between Baltimore and DC, summer meant crab feasts and fresh fruit. My dad had a bit of an orchard in our yard. I remember sitting under the cherry tree and eating till I felt sick. The neighborhood kids and I used to pretend we were surviving in the wilderness and eat blueberries off the bush.

So when I saw that our County Extension sold blueberry bushes every spring, I just knew I had to have some. Last summer the birds and squirrels ate ALL of my blueberries. This year I wised up and moved all the bird feeders out to the front yard. Happily we have started harvesting about a cup a day and really it's only one bush producing at the moment. For breakfast this morning I made us some good old fashioned oatmeal sweetened with maple syrup, topped with pecans and fresh blueberries. It was so good, I think I will have it tomorrow too.

Dinner tonight was pasta with Mild Italian Chicken sausage, homemade tomato sauce, and a salad. I was craving some yellow cake with chocolate frosting for dessert. The girls were complaining that we didn't have any junk in the house. I don't often buy cookies and cakes because they usually have butter, milk, and/or soy in them. Plus I think they are better for me and my family if we make them from scratch.

I am quite accustomed to making cake dairy/soy free. My struggle has been frosting. I've made a delicious boiled frosting with egg whites. It whips up beautifully and looks almost like marshmallow cream. It tastes great however tonight, I wanted good old fashioned chocolate frosting. I did a quick Google search and managed to find traditional frosting recipes that had just subbed the butter with fake butter or shortening. With my trusty Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, I could have figured that out.

On a whim, I set out to make up my own. What I ended up with is a creamy, rich, almost buttercream frosting like confection that met all of my dessert demands. It has no dairy, no soy, no shortening, and doesn't taste synthetic. Following is my recipe for all to enjoy!

Non-Dairy, Soy free, Vegan Chocolate Frosting

1 Cup Vegan Chocolate chips (Whole Foods are SO good)
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 C powdered sugar
3-4 tbsp regular almond milk or water

In a microwave safe bowl combine chocolate chips and canola oil. Microwave for 1 min. or until chips are melted. Add 1 tsp vanilla and 2 cups of powdered sugar. Mix with a handheld mixer until crumbly. Add 2 tbsp. almond milk and mix. Continue adding almond milk and powder sugar until it reaches a nice creamy spreadable consistency. Makes enough for one 13x9 sheet cake.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Vicious Turtles

We live in a suburban area but that does not mean our yard is void of nature. In fact we are always amazed at the creatures that visit our yard. We have a resident hawk that swoops through occasionally perching on our deck or bird bath. There are Red Headed and Pileated woodpeckers that frequent our trees. The bluebirds are on their third clutch of eggs this year and it has been so much fun to watch them tirelessly feeding their young.

I like to think we coexist with nature not in competition. We recycle. We grow a vegetable garden. We don't use harmful pesticides or toxic chemicals inside or outside our house. I've been known to release ladybugs and lacewings to combat the aphids that eat my tomato plants.

So it is with great enthusiasm every year that we welcome the box turtles that frequent our yard looking for tomatoes or blueberries. I had no idea that box turtles ate either tomatoes or blueberries until I saw them with my own eyes. The girls are thrilled to see them every year. Our dear old Penny used to bark at the turtles as they made their arduous trek across our yard. I'm not sure what barking did but the turtles just ignored her.

This year the arrival of the turtle was especially amusing because our pugs weren't with us last year. At first they ignored it. Then they sniffed it but as it looked like a rock, they quickly got bored of sniffing and laid down on the deck. Then the turtle decided to come out and try to escape and that is when things got interesting. First they tried sniffing it's butt because that's how dogs say hello. The turtle didn't like this method of greeting and hissed at them. At this point Ava decided the best course of action was to hide behind S. Casey decided to bark. They were definitely more afraid of him than he was of them. If nothing else, it was our entertainment for the afternoon.

What's for dinner tonight? Homemade fish sticks, roasted potatoes, green beans, and a salad. At the request of dear hubby. Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Big "D"

What would you do if you won a million dollars in the lottery? Pay off the house. Take a trip around the world. Go on vacation. I would bet that these answers are probably among the top ten answers. I bet donating to the church would be on the list too just to rationalize gambling in the first place. At the very least most people would say that they would take care of their family members or perhaps help a friend in need. Does the ends justify the means?

The subject of money has popped up numerous times in the last couple weeks. I have so many friends that are unemployed and facing possible financial ruin. I have other friends that are gainfully employed and yet still facing financial ruin for one reason or another. Our idolization of wealth and prosperity has truly brought our country to it's knees. The melt down of so many banks is definitely indicative of our financial faux paux. As a nation we diligently sought the American dream which entitles you to a house, a Disney vacation, and a big SUV. We see where this ruin. We are no better than the Israelites of so long ago with their golden calves and temple prostitutes. We are worshiping another God, the American Dream.

The big "D" stands for two things; the Dream and the impending Debt from seeking the dream. Our banks gave out more money than we could pay back. We recklessly spent more money than we made and when the economy crashed and burned, we cried out to the government to fix it. Perhaps the government should have cried back "do as I say, not as I do".

I heard an all too familiar story of a woman that lost her house to an Ipod, a video game, and the inability to say "no". Her family had bailed her out once before but she didn't learn from her mistakes because she had been given a free pass. She continued to spend herself into foreclosure as she continued to teach her kids that stuff equaled love. I don't know what the answer is because we must learn from our mistakes and asking forgiveness entails changing our actions. We need to be held accountable for our purchases. Nobody should bail us out but ourselves lest we continue our bad behavior. Like a toddler has to face consequences for poor choices and bad behavior, so must we.

God wants us to be financially responsible. The burden of debt is not a yoke we were meant to wear. Some people take on this yoke and then cry out to God to fix it. Surely, He will not give us a "free pass" in the form of a lottery ticket so save your dollar.

What was for dinner tonight? Leftover chicken and steak fajitas turned "fajita salad".

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Puggie Love

This is me and my Casey pug. She has a sister named Ava who has also snorted her way right into our hearts. The two of them are a constant reminder to me of God's providence. They are constantly under foot, they snore really loud, they incessantly lick each other, but are just so cute and we love them so much.

Last summer about this time, we were quickly losing our Molly dog to liver cancer. Every afternoon after VBS we were heading back and forth to the vet. There was lots of lab work to pay for and yet still a lot of hope. We didn't know she had cancer until after she had passed. She had just stopped eating. She was the sweetest most loving dog and wagged her tail until the very end. We cried and cried when she was gone. We still heard her collar jingle and saw her running through the yard. We were heartbroken and missed her so very much.

I had always wanted a pug and so when Molly was gone, it seemed like the right time to start looking at breeders. After much research on the breed, I contacted a breeder. We met Vallarie and her 12 pugs at Peachtree Pugs in late July. She truly loves her dogs and loves the breed. She was set to breed one of her females that summer and we were hopeful of a beautiful baby girl by Christmas. As it turned out, her female had 2 puppies and only one female. It seemed all hope was lost and we would not have a pug for Christmas. At that point, I turned to God and opened my heart to the grief of losing Molly and how I longed for another canine member of the household.

Vallarie emailed me late summer and asked if we would take an older pug, about 18 months. I was thrilled and so she put me in contact with the breeder. Turns out, it wasn't 1 pug, it was 2 pugs that were 18 months old and she wanted to know if we wanted them both. Well if one pug is great, two is even better. Their brothers had died of PDE (pug dog encephalitis) and she was just trying to find them a home. Ava and Casey did have a certain amount of risk involved as they are unsure of the nature of PDE. Researchers are not sure if it is genetic and are working on finding a genetic marker. We knew at 2 the risk went down significantly and is practically gone by age 3. We celebrated their 2nd birthday on March 2. I truly believe it was God's work that we got such beautiful pets. They fit into our family so perfectly.

What's for dinner tonight? Grilled salmon, roasted carrots, brown rice, salad, and bread. Here's my roasted carrot recipe that my family just LOVES.

Roasted Carrots:
Peel and slice into chunks enough carrots for your family. Toss with olive oil, salt, and thyme. Place on a baking sheet (I use a stoneware pan) and bake at 400 deg. F for about 30 minutes. Stirring once or twice so they don't get burned on one side.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

VBS: All Hands on Deck

It's that time of year again. Time for Vacation Bible School. I love it as much now as I did the first time I went at the tender age of 12. Yes, I didn't grow up in the church. My family did not attend. I happened upon VBS at the invitation of my neighbor. I ended up going to the church and becoming involved in Youth Council and the youth group. I rode the church bus. You know, the bus that goes around and picks up the elderly that can no longer drive but still attend church every time the door opens. I was the youngest on the bus by a good 60 years or so. We had a common bond though the elderly and myself. We both wanted to go to church but had no drivers license. We both loved the Lord with child like innocence. Mine because I was a child, theirs because they had lived a lifetime of following the Lord and knew for certain that He loved them.

Looking back, I think how amazing that God called me. Scrawny, awkward, bad haircut, crazy eyebrowed, brace face, me. While some may never face persecution for their beliefs, I did. My dad insisted that church was full of hypocrites and self righteous sinners that called themselves Christian. My mom was raised Catholic and saw God as far removed and not a personal relationship. I prayed for their souls and tried to spread the love. I wanted them to feel God's presence like I did, but my dad called Centrifuge my week of brainwashing. I wanted so badly to be that family that went to church together on Sundays. I wanted my parents to host the youth group and be counted among the leadership of the church.

My parents divorced when I was 20. My mom came to the Lord and was baptized the same year I was baptized. I had accepted Jesus at 14, but did not really come to know him until I was 29. My girls are being raised in the church. We always want for our children those things that we did not have. I am so excited about VBS as I am every year. I know that it is important and that we never know who we might touch. It might be a scrawny girl that needs to hear the truth. I hope to ride on that church bus again someday.

Friday, June 4, 2010

We Play with Fire

At left is my 11 year old playing with molten glass and a 2000 degree blow torch. I'm not sure how this happened but I think it started in India. She is studying ancient history and there was some mention of glass blowing in India which reminded me of an old college friend that took a glass blowing lab. She thought glass blowing sounded really cool so I looked online to see if there were any classes in our area. I found a studio that taught marble making so I emailed them. Unfortunately they would not entertain the idea of letting an 11 year old play with a blow torch and molten glass. I am sure the liability would be tremendous. Thankfully they gave me the name of a wonderful lady that taught out of her home. We went for our first lesson yesterday and learned the art of making glass beads. It was so much fun that we are going back for more. We picked up our finished (annealed) beads today and were so excited with the results. Can you guess which ones are mine, hers and the instructors?

Homeschooling to me is freedom. Freedom to try new things. I always said that if they wanted to try something they would have my full support. My youngest wanted to try gymnastics. I'll admit that I wasn't thrilled about her doing gymnastics. She tried it and said she liked it but wasn't that great at it. In the end, we decided it wasn't her thing. The best part is that 20 years from now she won't be saying "I could have been a gymnast". I didn't get to try lots of fun stuff until I was married and in my 20's. When I was young I really wanted to sew but there was no support. Mom didn't have time and didn't really want me using her machine. I learned to cross stitch and embroider. It wasn't until my 20's that I learned to crochet, knit, and make garments. Sewing has become a passion over the years and a creative outlet. I say all this because at 18, what person knows what they want to do if they've never done anything? I wanted to be an architect but never knew what that entailed until I spent 2 years in college trying to fit my square self into a round hole. Honestly, it wasn't my thing. Maybe I should have taken the glass blowing lab.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Cooking Show Dreams

I often have ideas floating around my head. They usually involve more effort and financial outlay than I am willing to input. I had this brilliant idea for an online market for crafters and a year later Etsy boomed. My husband always says that a really good idea is usually already taken. Perhaps he is right.

I should come up with a show to exploit my children but then I guess that has been done over and over. One of my current ideas is to host a cooking show. Not a chef in white coat, ingredients you never heard of cooking show. Rather a mom making dinner every night and how she gets a meal on the table every night amidst all the goings on in a traditional family. Not only does this mom make great dinners, she manages to find foods that everyone loves while avoiding all her food allergies. Maybe nobody would watch it. But then everyone seems to be watching all these other shows that I cannot imagine watching...The Real Housewives of where ever, just about everything on MTV, and all those simulated "reality" shows out of California.

They could film it in my real kitchen complete with my cooktop that only has 3 working burners, tile counters with severely stained grout, and a microwave that is so low as to not allow a stock pot. Add to the mix two rowdy pugs that are always under foot, the piano music constantly playing in the background, and so little counter space things are balancing precariously throughout, and I think it would be a great show. It would at least be real "reality". Well, my reality anyway.

Here are two recipes for all those non-dairy folks:
No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
2 cups sugar
4 tbsp. cocoa powder
2/3 cup oil
1/2 C almond milk
1 cup peanut butter
1 tbsp. vanilla
3 cups oatmeal
Mix sugar, cocoa, oil, and almond butter in saucepan. Heat to a boil and cook 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Add oatmeal and stir. Drop by rounded spoonfulls onto wax paper. Refrigerate until set.

Parsley Potatoes
2 lbs. small red potatoes
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. garlic
1 tbsp. dried parsley or fresh
salt & pepper to taste

Clean and quarter potatoes. Steam until tender. In non-stick frying pan heat olive oil. Add garlic and saute 1 min. Add potatoes and toss to coat. Add parsley, salt and pepper and stir.

What's for dinner tonight? Chicken kebabs and whatever our friends are cooking! It is after all Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Homemaking 101

It was time to make myself an apron. I always look at pictures of the 50's housewife with her beautiful clothes and well worn apron and think how I would have fit into that time period better than I fit into the current. I love to cook and sew. True I grumble about laundry and cleaning toilets but I do enjoy the satisfaction of clean clothes and that just scrubbed bathroom scent. I just love being at home.

Why hadn't I made myself an apron years ago? Same reason the plumbers pipes are always broken...time. It had never gotten to the top of the list like all the other things. As cute as the apron is, let's face reality when I say it is true utilitarian sewing like making pajamas and underwear. It's not something I would wear out of the house. Nobody might ever see it but family and friends invited for dinner. Most will not question whether I made it because it will probably sneak by with just a passing glance. It is in fact, just an apron. Much like a good old pick up truck that was once shiny and new. It will succumb to utility.

I did some more utility sewing this weekend. I made new oven mitts for my kitchen. The old ones were past their useful lives and filled with holes. I also made a new pool bag. I had the brilliant idea of making the bag out of microfiber. Microfiber is the same fabric used for making men's swim trunks. It's bright and cheery and I made it big enough to carry 4 towels. OK, so it is rather enormous but the fabric itself is very lightweight. I even included a zippered pouch on one side for my keys, money, and cell phone. Now if only it would stop thundering...

What's for dinner tonight? Grilled Tuna marinated in lemon and mint served with barley and some oven roasted carrots. If I get motivated there might also be a salad.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mmmm, mmmm, Good

My latest love affair is with my new Pressure Cooker. I was afraid of them back when a friend of mine started raving about hers. She rattled off recipe after recipe that she had made in her pressure cooker. I was not convinced and asked the age old question "but don't they blow up?". She laughed and said she was afraid of it too but then she took a class and now she loves it.

My hubby got me a fabulous pressure cooker for my birthday. All you wives out in the work force that are horrified that my hubby bought me cookware for my birthday, calm down. I actually love to cook so any cookware for any holiday is more welcome in my house than jewelry. In fact you working women would benefit immensely if your husbands got you a pressure cooker for your birthday as well. They are the ultimate fast food machine. Food is cooked so incredibly fast, I've begun to sound like an infomercial. I can whip out a pot roast worthy of company in just 30 minutes. Soups and stews are so quick that I now have a freezer full of soups perfect for lunch in a hurry or surprise visits from friends. Soup's perfect for lazy dinners when I'm tired and don't feel like cooking. Yes, even those of us that love to cook sometimes get tired.

While my super, duper, fast food machine is wonderful, there are things it cannot do. Sourdough bread is one of them. I have a starter that we've named Bob. I have fed and cared for Bob for over a week now, feeding and encouraging him to grow and bubble. Bob has risen to the challenge and is producing a loaf of bread as I type. Go Bob, Go!

In other homemaking type news, I made my mom some pj's for Mother's Day. The pattern is from Ottobre Designs. The fabric for the bottoms is vintage cotton Yukata, typically used for summer Kimono. I hope they fit. If they don't, I suppose I will have some great new pj's!

What's for dinner tonight? Pressure Cooker sloppy joes, sauteed green beans, and shoe string fries.

Friday, April 30, 2010

I'm Home.

After many fits and starts with a blog, I've finally settled on this. I contemplated a prayer blog, a cooking blog, a sewing blog, but finally decided that choosing between these was like selecting my favorite child. My home encompasses all these things that I dearly love. Perhaps it will inspire someone. Mainly, I just love to write and feel driven to write something.

What's for dinner? Or shall I say, "what should I have for dinner" as my cousin always asks knowing I can pull something out of my hat. This morning she called to ask about a pot roast and if I had a recipe. Then she asked, "When should I start it if I want it for dinner tonight?". Turns out she hadn't purchased the pot roast yet so I opted to give her a Hawaiian chicken crock pot recipe that cooks much quicker.

What's for dinner? Such a loaded question. For a tired homemaker it can be the icing on the cake of a tough day full of screaming toddlers and endless work. It's an age old question though and sometimes a difficult one to answer. When the pantry is getting bare and there is nothing left in the fridge, it's an even tougher question. It's an even harder question when you are a new mom, new homemaker, and ill prepared to run a household let alone care for an infant. I'm reading a book set in the late 1920's. The main character is a girl of 14 that has taken on the role of "homemaker" as her mother is pregnant and ill. How many 14 year olds could run a household these days? I know adult women that cannot seem to get a grasp on household management. Perhaps it should be a college class.

I am proud to say that my mom raised me right and at 12 I could handle the household. I am on track to produce equally well equipped daughters. That is not to say that I want them to be housewives, but it is a practical skill better learned when you are young and unfettered by a toddler.

So what is for dinner tonight? A smoked grilled chicken, peas, risotto, and some hot biscuits. Praise God for our provision.