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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Isaiah's 6th Birthday

I can't believe I've been a mama for six years and nine months, (because you know those first nine months of pregnancy count).  Six years ago, in a California hospital, on a rainy day, at 4:16pm, I gave birth to Isaiah.  He was my easiest birth.  "Piece of cake", I call that birth.  I pushed him out in three big pushes, even though he was "sunny side up".  He was perfect.  I so love being a mother.  Isaiah is thoughtful, smart, loving, and a great older brother.  Isaiah planned the menu for the day. We had lemon crepes in the morning, corn dogs at lunch, and pierogies for dinner.  I tried really hard to make cupcakes, and they turned out fine, but maybe I just don't know basic cupcake making techniques, like maybe making them the day before and letting them chill?  I don't know.  I will start bugging my brother's pastry-chef-girlfriend about that.  In any case, the cupcakes were edible, and were able to do their job by holding the candles.  We did presents in the morning, so that he could play with them all day.  He's been wishing for Battleship since the summer, when he played it at the babysitter's house.  He has also been wanting the Mario Kart Wii game since last year, when he played it with his cousins in Minnesota.  So my parents and I both got him the Wii game and his Grandma & Grandpa gave him the battleship game and wheels and tennis rackets and other things for the Wii.  He got a few other gifts, but he already opened those when he got them in the mail. =)  In the evening,  his best friend from next door came over, and we sang and had cupcakes.  After the evening was over, I stepped outside for some fresh cool air and tried photographing the moon.







Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cloth Diaper Deal at CottonBabies Black Friday - Cyber Monday Sale

Just wanted to give you all a heads up.  I just bought new Thirsties Diaper Covers that I raved about when I explained how we cloth diaper our babies.  These are my absolute favorite diaper covers.  I just happened to look online, and they are on sale through Monday at CottonBabies (which truly has the best cloth diaper deals, I keep checking!) for $7.88 instead of $11.25.  I rarely pay the full price, so stock up ladies!




PS: Nobody paid me to write this (unfortunately).  I just thought I'd share this deal with you.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Meal Plan Nov 27 - Dec 3

Well, I thought this might happen: It's so hard to stick to a routine when you're moving all the time.  This week I will have to go back to some quick and easy meals, like hot dogs and I'm sure we'll be ordering pizza more often than usual.  We have less than three weeks to pack up this house before the big move.  No time for trying out new recipes.  This menu was very quick to write up and I'm glad for the simplicity.


Meal notes for the week:
  • I won't be baking homemade bread anymore until we are settled into our new routine in Omaha. =(  


Sunday 
Breakfast: Leftover buckwheat pancakes
Lunch: Spaghetti & tomato sauce, garlic bread, green salad
Dinner: Light dinner like oatmeal muesli with yogurt

Monday
Breakfast: Leftover zesty cranberry orange compote served over hot oatmeal
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Leftover saffron rice, steamed peas, sauteed chicken

Lemon Crepes


Tuesday - Isaiah's 6th birthday! (He made the menu for the day.)
Breakfast: Lemon Crepes
Lunch: Corn dogs, steamed corn
Dinner: Pierogies with onions & sausage, steamed peas.
Dessert: Classic Cupcakes

Pierogies with onions & sausage

Wednesday 
Breakfast: Breakfast burritos
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Squash Soup from freezer w/ cream

Thursday
Breakfast: Cereal, aka "Muesli" - raw rolled oats, with yogurt, apple sauce, nuts, fruit, milk or water
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Rosemary pork chop, buttered parmesan pasta, steamed broccoli

Friday 
Breakfast: Sweet potato bread
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Veggie bowls - rice, b.beans, lettuce, tomato, corn, sour cream or something like that. =)

Saturday
Breakfast: Eggs your way & toast
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Pizza - maybe homemade, maybe not. =)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Crock-pot Cranberry & Cherry Cobbler


I wanted an easy slow cooker dessert recipe for this Thanksgiving.  I knew I wanted it to have cranberries and cherries.  I couldn't find the exact recipe that I wanted, so I used this recipe as a guideline and improvised the rest.  Here is my slow-cooker cranberry and cherry cobbler recipe.

Crock-pot Cranberry & Cherry Cobbler
Serves 16 (You'll want leftovers.)

Ingredients:

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
4 tablespoons plus 2 cups sugar, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bag fresh cranberries
1 can cherries in water, drained

Directions:

In a large bowl mix 2 cups of the flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, the baking powder, and the cinnamon.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs, milk, and oil until combined and add it to the dry ingredients.  Mix it all up.
Spread the lumpy mixture into the bottom a greased 5 qt. slow cooker.

In another large bowl, mix the remaining 1/2 cup flour with 2 cups sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Add the cranberries and cherries, and mix everything together well.
Spread the fruit over the batter in the slow cooker.

Cover and slow cook on high for 2 hours or until toothpick inserted in the batter comes out without crumbs.
Let it cool (a little) before serving with ice cream or whipped cream (or both).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Menu

Happy Thanksgiving!  This year we had a quiet little celebration by ourselves.  I didn't want to spend all day cooking, nor did I want to create a ton of leftovers, so I just kept a simple menu.


Menu

Turkey breast smothered in rosemary, thyme, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil
Buttermilk mashed potatoes
Green bean casserole
Cranberry, orange, and pear compote
Cranberry and cherry cobbler


I picked some fresh rosemary and thyme from the garden.  I had a little bit of dill left over in the fridge.  I minced them all finely together with the garlic.  After sprinkling the turkey breast generously with extra virgin olive oil, I scooped the herbal mixture into my hands and poured course sea salt into my hands.  I rubbed this all into the turkey breast.  I made sure to get it all over and tuck it under any flaps.  After I washed my hands, they were sooooo soft.  (Note to self: Next time I need a manicure, go for the sea salt and olive oil.)  I then baked the 1.70 lb. turkey breast for 1 h. 10 m. at 325.  It was just a tiny bit dry, so I will do just under an hour next time for this size.



Buttermilk mashed potatoes.  I boiled six potatoes in the pressure cooker.  Then I put them in the kitchen aid mixer and slashed them a few times with a knife.  I let the mixer do the rest.  I added butter, salt, and buttermilk and I beat it a lot so they would be fluffy.  I usually leave the skin on the potatoes.


Green bean casserole was made from cans, which is always a nice time saver.  It's my husband's favorite and we all like it, but I really do want to try this healthier version sometime.  I had some leftover cucumber salad on my Thanksgiving plate.  The boys didn't want any, which didn't bother me, because I love cucumber salad.  The cranberry compote was very delicious, although its tangy sweetness overpowered the flavor of the meat.  I slowly simmered 1/2 bag of fresh cranberries, with 1 cut up orange, 1 cut up pear, 1 cinnamon stick, 4 whole cloves, approx 4 tablespoons maple syrup, and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar.  It was so good, but almost too good to go with the meat.


For dessert I made up a cranberry and cherry cobbler in the slow cooker.  We served it with cherry ice cream, that Luke picked out last week when he accompanied me to the grocery store.  He saw the red container and said: "Cherry!"  Haha, I guess they colored that ice cream container the exact shade of red that children associate with cherries.  It was perfect with the cobbler.

PS: Do you know how they harvest cranberries?  I bet you do. It is really beautiful.  Here is a youtube video about harvesting cranberries.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I can do all things...

I can do all things in {Christ} who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13

"Paul can endure the extremes of earthly life, from peace and prosperity to affliction and destitution. The hidden source of his strength is not in himself but in the Lord Jesus, who enables him to take everything in stride and life detached form the need for physical comforts." - Notes from the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament

Don't we always want to know where we are going?
It's hard to be unsure of the future, but something I'm getting more and more used to.
Isaiah (almost 6 yrs) took this photo.
I love focusing on God's promises.  There are so many throughout the Bible.  I ordered a little booklet that has the corresponding verses for what you're feeling: anxiety, stress, hopelessness, etc.  I'm okay right now, but I'm preparing for battle, because I know those feelings can pop up overnight.  Andrew (my husband) is deploying again.  They've been going back and forth about this now about 8 times, but it seems that he really is going in January.  That gives us one month to pack up the house, put most of it in storage, sell and give away the rest, and move ourselves up to Omaha, Nebraska, where I'll be staying with my parents until Andrew comes home again, sometime in December 2012.  Thankfully, a lot of the decisions were already made back in September, when we thought he was deploying in December.  Now it just requires a little bit of work here and there.  It will all fall into place.

I need to remind myself daily to rely on Jesus' strength.  I can do all things through Him.  Key words through Him.  I will be focusing on this promise throughout the next month or two.  Please keep us in your prayers.

When we are in the dark, all we need to do to see the light, is look up.
Do you need some encouragement today? Jacqueline hosts an Encourage One Another link-up every Wednesday.  I'll be adding this blog post over there and reading what the other ladies have written. 





Monday, November 21, 2011

10 Little Known Facts About Me

My mind is a bit too scattered to compose a real blog post...so I thought I'd steal this idea from Josette and share 10 things you may or may not know about me.  You'll notice that the list was originally called 10 strange things...but then I began writing and decided that I'm not that strange, imo, which stands for "in my opinion", Mom & Dad. ;)

That's me.  Man, my kids look just like me, and that necklace is awesome.
That bench is great too.

In no particular order:

1) I don't know a lot of American culture things that happened before 1994.  Roommates, friends, and my husband have tried to educate me.

2) I've wanted to get my nose pierced since I was about 17 years old, and I still do.  I just don't think I'll ever do it, but I just might.  You never know with me.

3) I hate clothes shopping, but everyone probably already knows this.  I'm too picky.  I like really, really, fancy, good quality clothing, but I would never, ever, pay for it.  So I am just happy shopping at thrift shops, if I absolutely have to, but I like hand-me downs even better, because then I don't have to go anywhere.

4) I love learning languages.  I believe that I could learn any language on the planet if I really wanted to, and definitely if I was immersed in, say, China!

5) Long before I knew anything about Catholics, when I was a little girl, I heard of a missionary woman who took care of orphaned children in India.  Ever since I heard of her, I wanted to go to India and take care of orphans.  I became obsessed with India and I still like elephants, peacocks, rich colors, and anything from India.  My mother said she went to India when she was 17.  She told me the food was so spicy that all she could eat was toast and tea.  From that moment on, I put Tabasco on all my food, including on raw apple slices.  Now I can pretty much eat any spicy food I want and I feel it, but it doesn't bother me.  Even when I'm pregnant.  I didn't find out until many years later that the lady in India was Blessed Mother Teresa.

6) I am really, really, really, bad at simple math.  I'm probably really bad at other Maths too, but I can pass the class if I take a college course.  I cannot, however, do Math in life.  I frequently use my fingers to count and I have a real problem with fractions.  When baking, instead of adding 1/4 cup and 2/3 cup of something in my head, I would rather just fill the container up 1/4, and then 2/3 cup separately.  I have no idea what 1/4 + 2/3 = and I have no idea how to figure it out.  That is so awful, but I don't care.  I am a letters person, not a numbers person, so if it has numbers, I'd prefer not to think about it or talk to you about it.  If you are standing around me when I need math, I'll probably use you as my personal calculator, even if you are a complete stranger.

7) I love to travel, but I don't have to travel the world.  I would be perfectly happy to read a book about a lovely far-off country like India.  Except for Ireland.  I do have to visit Ireland before I die.  (I'm not dying anytime soon, I'm just saying.)

8) I have a mental list of "things to do before I die".  I actually wrote it down a long time ago, but I've lost it. Getting a nose ring was on that list.  At one point in my life, I thought I should get a tattoo for my 75th birthday.  That way my skin would already be saggy and my tattoo wouldn't be a saggy picture.  I don't think I'll ever do that one.  I like my skin just the way God made it, freckles and all.  I don't care if I don't do everything on my list, it's just fun to have a list.

9) Regarding food: I'll try just about everything once if you are eating it.  I have tried deer heart, cow tongue, escargots (aka: snails) and "rocky mountain oysters".  If you don't know what those are, just go to the Cass County Fair in Nebraska and you'll find out.  I can't believe I ever ate those.  Yuck!

10) Regarding fashion: I think it's lovely that people have fashion rules they live by and I think it's great that people are fashionable or whatever, and maybe I even envy them a little, but in the end, I just wear whatever is comfortable and I don't care if it's in style, or all mismatched or if it's orange + blue + green.  It does, however, have to be comfortable and it cannot itch, at all, anywhere.  I would rather freeze than wear pantyhose.

Haha, that was fun.  I bet my friends or husband could write a much better list.  Let me know if you write your own list.

PS: It drives me nuts that I don't know exactly where the commas should go.

PPS: I proofread things a gazillion times.  That also drives me nuts.  I'm trying to quit proofreading my blog posts a gazillion times.

PPPS: I exaggerate a little, at times.  It drives my husband nuts.  He is always very precise.  He can predict the time he will be home, down to 30 seconds.  We have tested this.  Isaiah will be on the phone with Daddy and Daddy will predict his arrival time and Isaiah will set the timer.  He has never been wrong.

PPPPS:  I get really chatty when it's past my bedtime and I tend to ramble when I'm tired.

PPPPPS:  Haha, just kidding.  ;)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Menu Plan Nov 20-26

There's a good chance we're moving mid-December.  Seems like Andrew will deploy first week of January and so he is moving us up to Nebraska.  We just found out.  They keep changing it, only it seems "for real" this time.  My goal for the next couple of weeks is to use up the food in our house.  We have a big bag each of frozen blueberries and strawberries, a small amount of beans, and a few bags of frozen peas and corn.  I have a lot of flour and baking goodies that I need to find uses for.  I imagine I'll be doing a lot of spontaenous baking this week.

Meal notes for the week:

  • Snacks: Pears, apple slices, popcorn, carrots, bananas.
Sunday
Breakfast: Breakfast burritos (deluxe scrambled eggs in a tortilla)
Lunch: Julia Child's Potato Leek Soup
Dinner: Light dinner like oatmeal or salad

Monday
Breakfast: Buckwheat pancakes*
Lunch: Soup leftovers
Dinner: Chicken with a white cream and herb sauce, served over steamed white rice, and power peas

Hawaiian Melt
Tuesday
Breakfast: Blueberry oatmeal
Lunch: Hawaiian Melt
Dinner: Ramen noodles (have 2 left in the pantry and the kids just loooove that food, so we'll use them up).

Wednesday
Breakfast: Eggs & Toast
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Beef soft tacos (tortillas, homemade pico de gallo and guacamole, shredded lettuce, sour cream, cheddar cheese, corn chips)

Thursday - Thanksgiving Day
Breakfast: Granola, plain yogurt, etc.
Lunch:
  • Turkey breast
  • creamy green bean casserole (this version looks so much better, but everyone likes the old classic canned version)
  • mashed potatoes with garlic, butter, and cream
  • gravy
  • cranberry compote (my own version: cranberries, pear, orange zest, cinnamon, whole cloves)
  • Dessert: Slow cooker fruit cobbler: use cranberries and cherries instead.
Dinner: cereal/oatmeal


Birchermuesli
Friday
Breakfast: Birchermuesli (rolled oats, grated apples, blueberries, strawberries, plain yogurt, granola, lemon juice, water = yummmm)
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Veggie Soft Tacos (rice, black beans, corn, sour cream, cheese, tomatoes)

Saturday
Breakfast: Breakfast sandwich (ham, egg, cheese)
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: French lentil soup

*New {to me} recipe

Friday, November 18, 2011

Organization: Hardware, Craft Supplies, Jewelry

My "new" art caddy.

You'd think that after this huge project this past summer, the clutter would be minimal in my house.  You'd think.  When I was determined to get rid of clutter, I think I mostly focused on the obvious things.  I got rid of extra furniture, extra clothes, extra toys, extra towels, extra kitchen utensils, extra books and a bunch of other stuff I don't even remember.  The real clutter was hiding from me.  These areas are in dire need of some organization.
  • The hardware bin: a collection of batteries, pliers, super glue, fly killer, fishing hooks (?), wood glue, fabric glue, door stoppers, and about a gazillion other tiny things. 
  • Broken jewelry. Who throws out diamond golden earrings?  I just can't do it!
  • The sewing craft supplies.  Storing crayons in jars looked pretty cool, but it was only a matter of time until Jacob decided it'd be fun to play with the jars.  So I recycled the jars and dumped the crayons in an empty shoe box.  The shoe box is nearly full, which makes me wonder: does one family really need over 100 crayons? (Answer: NO.)
  • Zip-lock bag full of religious medals I can't wear because I'm allergic to metal.  I'm still going to send these to Barbara, who makes Rosaries.
  • Zip-lock bag full of other metal scraps like old keys and key chains.
Thanks to pinterest, I got a bunch of ideas on how to organize & re-purpose things.


Hardware: I went to Lowe's and bought two organizer boxes.  I now have all my small hardware items in two organizers and can actually find them when I need them.  I still use a larger tub (the one that I had all these little things thrown into) for bigger things like tape, a big bag of baby safety items, and extension cords.


Do you like how I have about 7 of those make-your-old-fashioned-2-pronged-plug-into-a-3-prong-plug?  I also have two of the exact same jewelry pliers.  Yep, bought the second pair because I couldn't find the first pair.  Waste of money.



I collect all of my dead batteries in an old yogurt tub, until I take them to the recycling place.  If you think nobody recycles your stuff, check Earth911.  I found out that Fort Hood recycles just about everything.  They'll take scrap metal, scrap glass, batteries, broken things, anything.

Jewelry: I might get the same type of storage box for my jewelry.  My sister-in-law stores hers like that.  I like the idea, because then, when I move, it's already put in the container that it will be moved in.  Right now I have a little standing up jewelry box and a pretty little earring stand.  I love the earring stand that I found at a thrift shop, but it discolors some of my jewelry.  Same with the jewelry box.  It has hooks that you hang necklaces on, but those metal hooks discolor some of the necklaces, so, as much as I hate plastic, I think plastic or fabric are better jewelry organizers than metal ones.


Sewing Supplies: I absolutely love the idea of a pegboard.  What better way than to keep little, reaching fingers off the sewing scissors?  I went to Lowe's, picked one up for about $6, and then...well, then I got a little carried away.  I couldn't just leave with a spray can of turquoise paint...no, I had to walk past the aisle with the chalkboard paint and the magnetic primer.  Those things are expensive!!  $14 for a quart, and the magnetic primer is even worse, $20 or so for one quart!  But no, I couldn't just leave them there, like I knew I should, I had to get the whole magnetic/chalkboard craze out of my system.  So I bought them both.  (Thank you, Lowe's, for your 10% military discount.  That helped a little.)  I go home and paint the pegboard three times with magnetic primer.  Then, without trying it out, to see if it's actually magnetic, I paint over it with chalkboard paint.  So, now what do we have?  A magnetic, chalkboard, pegboard.  It's a little overkill, right?  Who needs to hang magnets on a pegboard that has pegs?  And who needs to write anything on a board full of holes?  Beats me, but often times I don't think things through 100%, so I didn't realize what I had done until my husband came home from work and pointed it out to me.  I felt pretty dumb.  Especially since the magnetic primer works to hold magnets, but it does not hold a magnet and paper.  Great.  I returned the cheap blue spray paint, but I still wish I had just painted it blue like everybody else on pinterest.  Live an learn.  Regardless, it still does a pretty darn good job of hanging up my sewing essentials.


Craft Supplies: I just swooned over this fun art caddy I found at I Heart Organizing.  

{image source}
I was about to go to Target and buy one, because I already had the chalkboard paint, but go figure, it was sold out.  I'm guessing the other six thousand nine hundred nine people reading that blog all bought one back when she first posted it.  So, I was stuck to shop at home again.  Well, I'm very glad I did, because I found two baskets that needed a good purpose.  Check out my new art caddies!

I know it's silly, but I have to set everything over by the window to get a decent photo.




I keep them both on my awesome new Ikea shelf.  (The crayons are still in a shoe box.)  And just before you think I go buy new stuff all the time, I don't.  I've been wishing for this Ikea shelf for-e-ver.  I finally bought it last time we found out we were not deploying.  Now it seems like he might deploy again.  Who really knows.  I'm just going to organize everything so that when the Army finally does figure something out, I'm ready.  The shelf was about $140 with tax and everything.  That pre-tax price always throws me off.  It's really great though.  Not sure how well it would do through moves, because it is all held together by little pegs.  We'll see (and I'll be sure to let you know).

Have a great day, and I hope you pick one thing today that's been bugging you, and organize it!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Finding Nature Wherever You Are

If you live in a big city with concrete all around, go find nature.  
If you live in the suburbs with sidewalks, busy neighbors, and short trees, go find nature.  
If you live in a small apartment on the top floor and spend your days in an office, go find nature.
Notice the little things.  Let your camera and take pictures.  Bring nature inside.  Grow bulbs during the cold winter.  Help make nature.
Find nature wherever you are.  


At the end of this post, I shared with you that the boys and I are taking more nature walks these days.  I think it is so good for the soul.  I know it is for mine.  A simple walk in fresh air brightens my mood like few other things.  When we begin walking, the boys complain a little that their legs are tired, but soon they forget, and their cheeks get rosy and they get excited to see our little creek.  The Clear Creek doesn't actually belong to us, but we call it "ours" just the same.  We visit it a few times a week.  It is amazing how well the children feel when they are outdoors every day.  I notice it on days that I have to run errands with them.  The only outside time they get on those very busy days, which I try to avoid as much as possible, is going from car door to building, back to the car.  On those days, no matter how tired I am, I still take them outside for a short walk.  We all sleep better at night.


See?  It's nothing glamorous, where we live.  But it's something, and that's better than nothing.  It's an ugly, chain-linked, fenced, bridge, but when we look through the fence, it is so breathtakingly beautiful.




We can follow this trail all the way up and across the street, along the path up to the overpass, and over to the post office and grocery store (aka commissary).  That is a longer walk for the kids, but we did it once and we loved it.  I just prefer walking my errands when I can.  Of course I bring the jogging stroller so Luke can sit if he's really tired.  Isaiah is big enough to walk as much as I do.  When Isaiah was little and his Daddy was deployed, we walked to the park that was about 200 feet from our house every morning and evening.  He was 14 months and was just starting to walk while holding onto my one hand.  He's been a great walker ever since.



Luke gave me a flower.


It was in the 50's that day.  After the 100's in the summer, 50 feels pretty cold!


These trees are so spooky.


Graffiti.  Westside.  Woohoo! That is the name of my High School.  Now you can stalk me.  (I didn't do the graffiti, just in case you were thinking that.  If I had done it, it would be much more colorful.)


Cool, bendy, grasses.


Pretty colors.



My crape myrtle.  Not really mine.  Just in front of the house I live in.  I'm grateful they planted it after they chopped down a tree that left a stump that I had removed and planted my herb garden over.


And that's me taking the picture.  Isaiah (5 yrs 11 months) took this photo of me with my old point & shoot camera.  He loves taking pictures.  Now you can see that ugly, bunker-looking house we live in.  Military housing.  It's a duplex.  The other side looks exactly the same, except I have woods by my house.  That is where the deer come out and visit.  I'm thankful my house is next to the woods.  We really lucked out on that one.  You don't really get to chose your house in the military.  I'm glad we have a picture of the house though because we may not be here very much longer after all.  Even though it seriously lacks curb appeal, it was home for a little while.

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