Saturday, December 8, 2012

Santa Claus is Coming to Town!

Clara sat on Santa's lap today.

It took some coaxing... and a few cookies....

But she did it!

She didn't whisper what she wants for Christmas though, she just looked at him, then looked at us, and smiled.

Then she wanted down.

We haven't really pushed the Santa thing.  She recognizes him, but we haven't really told her the whole piece about him bringing gifts, and living in the North Pole, owning reindeer, or that she needs to be good.

I'm not really sure if we'll ever push the whole Santa thing.  The Elf on the Shelf is huge this year, lots of our friends are doing it with their kids.  We're not.  There's really no point when we haven't explained to Clara that she has to be good so the elf won't tell Santa, or she won't get any gifts.

I don't think there's anything wrong with believing in Santa.  I guess we just choose not to push it, but rather tell her to be good because Jesus is watching, and let the real meaning of Christmas come through.

But today, it was fun to see her bright eyes looking at the man in red.  Christmas through a child's eyes.

And as we were leaving, Santa walked by, and Clara tugged Paul's hand, pointed and said, "That's Santa!"  Nothing gets by that kid...  :)


Friday, December 7, 2012

High 5 For Friday

I’m back.


Maybe not totally committed…

Maybe not “regular”….

But I’m making an attempt.

I need a swift kick in the butt.

Or a new laptop :)

I decided my first post back would be “High Five for Friday”. A fellow blogger friend of mine has been doing and they are always fun to read. It makes you think about the little things that have been good this week… and since you need a picture, it makes you stop in the moment to realize it. You can check out Beth’s High Five here.

So here you go – First (of hopefully many) installments of High Five for Friday:





1. Yes – that’s a dead mouse. Gross… I know, I know. But every dead mouse is one less live mouse living in my house!

2. Clara “grooming” her horse. We are in so much trouble when she gets older.

3. First year displaying my complete Nativity set that my mom has given me over the years. Truly a reminder of the season.

4. Cheesy grin from Clara – and do you see that? There’s “ponies” in her hair! They only stayed there for about 5 minutes… but she asked me to put them in!

5. Paul and I had a lunch date a HuHot this week - So. Yummy.

Pretty simple, huh? Let’s hope I can keep it up!

What are your High 5’s? Be sure to check out more High 5’s at From My Grey Desk!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Enough with the Crusty Bread!

"Enough with the crusty bread already!" They shouted!

"We want a post!" They cried!

Yeah... yeah... I hear ya...

76 days since my last post.

1824 hours since you last heard from me.

109,440 minutes... wow - I did math!  :)

It's been a busy summer!  But you wouldn't know that since I haven't posted one thing about... well... anything! 

My apologies.

I can't guarantee that it's going to get any better.  Truth is - we need a new laptop and that's just not in the budget these days.  So my blogging is a little constricted to the time I can wait for our current laptop to fire up or I can got on somewhere else.

I kinda wish I had one of those jobs where I can sit around in coffee shops all day blogging my thoughts... but I don't.

So to those of you who have stuck around to read these words... I THANK YOU!  I appreciate that you want to read what I have to say.  I'll try to be better... really... I will!

So here's to more posts! 

I hope...  :)





Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Crusty Bread

Original recipe posted here.


I will never make soup again without making this bread to pair. It will require some planning, but this bread is SO worth it! I have never made bread that was this easy, tasty, and beautiful!

Easy Crusty Bread

3 cups flour

1 ¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon dry yeast

Whisk these 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Add 1 ½ cups water. Mix until combined.

The dough will look wet and not like bread dough at all. That’s OK – it’s supposed to look like that.

Cover the large bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for 12-18 hours. DO NOT refrigerate! Don’t skimp on the time either – it needs that long. (this is the planning ahead piece!)

After 12-18 hours, the dough will look bubbly and sticky.

The recipe said to bake the bread in an enameled cast iron dutch oven. I don’t have one of those. (hey mom! I know what I want for my birthday! ;)) I used the insert from my mother-in-law’s crockpot that was still at our house. I think any oven-safe pot with cover will work fine.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. When the oven is hot, place the empty pot and cover into the oven for 30 minutes.

While the pot is warming, dump your dough out onto a well floured surface. (and I mean REALLY well floured… remember, I said it was sticky!) Without kneading it, bring the dough to the center and make it into a ball. Cover with the plastic wrap until the pot is hot.

When the pot is hot, dump the dough ball into the center of the pot. Replace the cover and bake it for 30 minutes. Then, remove the cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

When it is done baking, dump the bread out of the pot and onto a cooling rack.

So easy. So yummy. So pretty. Soup and bread will never be the same!

This is the basic recipe for plain bread – you can get all creative and add things to make your bread more “special”. Next time, I would like to try adding some seeds, like flax, sunflower, etc. I like seedy bread. Or maybe add some parmesan cheese, a little garlic, and some basil for an herbed bread. The possibilities are really endless!

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Pesto

We love pesto!  Even Clara gobbles up recipes that include pesto.  I make my own pesto using basil from our garden and freeze it to enjoy throughout the year!  Here is my recipe:

3 C fesh basil leaves
8 T olive oil
4 T plain yogurt
4 T lemon juice
1 C shredded parmesan cheese
8 ts minced garlic

Use a stick blender or food processor to chop and mix it all together. I freeze it in 2 T portions in baby food containers. This recipe makes about 9 containers.

We grow a variety of different basils, and I usually pick all different kinds to blend together.  You can use whatever kind you want, but I would stay away from the "scented" basils, as they usually have a little different taste.

Our favorite pesto recipe is Pesto-Pasta with chicken

Enjoy!

Clara turns 2!

It’s a few days late – but here is the post about the big birthday party!


We had Clara’s 2nd birthday party on Sunday, June 24th. I had been at 4-H Camp all week, so had just a day to get the house cleaned up, the food made, decorations up, etc. Needless to say, I didn’t get as much done as I had hoped, but I don’t think Clara or any of the guests cared. We had food and cake, and that’s really all that’s important…right?

The theme of the party was “birdie”, but outside of a bird on the invitations and the cake, the theme was pretty much lost. Again, I don’t think anyone cared. I had gotten some balloons in pink, green, and blue which Paul blew up and hung in clumps in the house and the garage (where we also had tables set up for people to eat). The banner from her party from last year would have fit in well also, but I couldn’t find it :/.

I wanted Clara to have a special outfit to wear for her party, so I made a ruffled skirt using a tutorial I had found on pinterest. I found a shirt at Target that matched well also. My original intention was to appliqué a birdie on the front of the shirt, but the shirt I found looked better without it.

We served pulled pork sandwiches, company potatoes, fruit salad and, of course, CAKE! I had the cake made at Target. I didn’t have high expectations for it since they didn’t have anything in their book that looked like I wanted. I showed the girl a picture on my phone of what I was thinking. It turned out AWESOME!! I called Target to let them know how happy I was and to thank the decorator for me.

Clara finally got into opening presents. She oo’ed and ahh’ed over them all. She wanted to play with them all “wite now!”

After presents it was time for CAKE! Clara was starting to crash from not having a nap yet, but perked right up at the mention of cake. She blew (spitted) out her candles and we all sang to her. Then she dug in!

It wasn’t her first taste of cake… My mom brought the cake over on Saturday since she had volunteered to go and get it for me. I had set it on the island until I could clear space in the refrigerator for it. I went to the bathroom and could hear Clara digging in the silverware drawer, which she does quite often, so I didn’t think much of it. Then she appeared in the bathroom carrying a fork covered in frosting, proclaiming, “Good cake mommy!” She had pushed her potty chair up to the island, stood on it, took the cover off the cake, gotten a fork, and helped herself!






After the cake was eaten and the guests had gone home to enjoy naps of their own, Clara finally crashed for a short nap. I think the party was a success! Thanks to all who came!

Clara spent her actuak birthday playing outside in her pool!  It was a great day for it!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cloth Diapering: FAQ's

I have had several requests for more cloth diaper information in the past few weeks. Instead of writing the same responses over and over, I thought I would just put the bulk of it here and refer people!


What are your favorite cloth diaper brands?

My favorite brand is BumGenius. Even though the owner Jen Labit and I don’t see eye to eye on some things, I can’t deny that she makes a good diaper. We use BG one-size 3.0’s & 4.0’s. Bumgenius are expensive though – around $18 a piece. I have been able to snag some good deals on used ones on the BG Facebook Swap Site.

Another brand that I liked when Clara was little was Fluffy Butts. I liked them because they are locally made and have a great price. Unfortunately, the fit changed for us as Clara got older and they just didn’t fit her body right any more and we got leaks.

I also like Sunbaby and Alva brand. They are super-cheap, but only come with snaps.

What are your favorite CD accessories?

Diaper Sprayer – This is an absolute must-have! It is a little sprayer that attaches to your toilet tank. It works awesome for spraying out poopy diapers. I absolutely love this little gadget – I think we will probably keep it on the toilet even when we are done diapering because it also works great for cleaning off shoes.

Wetbags – We have several wetbags that we used when Clara was younger for storing wet diapers when we were out of the house. I made my own using this tutorial.

Diaper Pail – For a diaper pail, we just use a small garbage can with a flip top lid. It is easy to clean, and contains wetness and smells.

Diaper Rash Cream – It is a rare occasion that Clara gets a diaper rash. Even when she was little, we were rarely battling one. When she does get one though, we can’t use regular diaper rash creams like Desitin or ButtPaste – they are not safe for cloth diapers. There are several CD-safe creams out there – my favorite is Angel Baby Bottom Balm. It’s spendy, but I sometimes find it on the clearance rack at Target and stock up. My second favorite is California Baby Calming Diaper Rash Cream.

Hemp Inserts - As Clara has gotten older, it takes more absorption to hold her pee. I love using hemp inserts for this. This all-natural fiber is trim, but holds a lot of liquid! I usually use a large hemp insert with a micro-fiber insert laid over the top in her diapers that she wears at daycare. This combo works great for us!

Do you use liners at all?

No. I had bought some when we first started CDing, but with the diaper sprayer I have found I really don’t need them.

How about wool?

We don’t use wool soakers either. Lots of people swear by them, but we just never got in the routine of using them. I think at first they were a little scary, and then we found a routine that worked for us, so we went with it. This reminds me I have 3 wools soakers I need to find homes for…

What do you use for wipes/solution/storage?

We use cloth wipes that my mom and I made using flannel. This is similar to what we did.  I store them in a wipes warmer I found at a garage sale for a few bucks. They fit perfectly folded in half. I use plain water. You really go through them so fast that they don’t have time to get funky. You can buy cloth wipe solutions or make it yourself, but I never found the need.

For on the go, we keep our cloth wipes in a pencil case in the diaper bag.

What's your laundry detergent and washing routine?

I used to use a home made detergent for washing our diapers. That worked really great for awhile, but then I got lazy and just bought some Tide to hold me over until I could find all the stuff to make my homemade stuff again. I’ve never gone back – I love Tide for washing diapers. I use the Tide Powder (the most basic one). I have also been known to throw a little vinegar or bleach in a load once in a while.

I wash twice a week and have from the beginning. I have used both a front-loader and top-loader to wash diapers.

Top-loader: I put all the diapers/wipes in the washer and make sure that all the inserts are pulled out and the laundry tabs on the diapers with Velcro are secured. I do a short rinse cycle with cold water and no detergent. I will stop the cycle once the machine has filled with water and let it soak for a half hour. Then I turn it back on and finish the cycle. Then I run a cycle with hot, double-rinse, on the highest agitation. This is the cycle where I add the Tide and vinegar/bleach.

Front-loader: Front loaders are a little tricky because they are meant to run with minimal water, but when you’re washing diapers – you want a lot of water! I would fill the diaper pail holding the soiled diapers with water to get them to absorb as much water as I could before I put them in the washer. This helped trick the machine into think the load was heavier and would need more water. Then I would add the diapers, start a cold rinse cycle, and then add an additional 4 gallons of water through the soap dispenser. I would add water until the diapers were completely submerged. Once that cycle had finished, I would run a hot, double-rinse, high agitation cycle with the soap. I wouldn’t add more water to this cycle.

I dry my inserts in the dryer and hang my covers on a drying rack inside during the winter and on the outdoor clothes line in the summer. The sun is great for “bleaching” the diapers to get rid of stains.

Speaking of stains – they haven’t really been a problem for us. I am good about rinsing the poopy diapers as soon as I change them, so they don’t have a chance to set. Even with the daycare diapers that sit a few days, we haven’t had a problem getting them clean.

Have you ever had to “strip” your diapers?

No. Stripping is a process where you have to use pretty extensive measures to get your diapers clean. They can get built up with detergent, which can cause them to stink and repel moisture, which in turn, causes leaks. There are a variety of methods for stripping, which include using dawn dish soap, boiling, “Rocking a Soak”, etc. Thankfully I haven’t had to employ any of these measures in the last 2 years!

Do you ever supplement with disposables?

Yes. Now that Clara is older and wets through diapers faster, we usually use disposables when we are out and about. When she was younger, we used cloth exclusively, but now it seems like she can wet though a diaper in 15 minutes when we are in the middle of Target and I left the diaper bag in the car. It happens. Every. Single. Time. We can make a small package of Up & Up diapers ($6.78) last more than month. I can handle that.

Is there anything you wish you would have known before starting?

This is hard to answer – we’ve been doing it for 2 years now, so much of it seems old hat to us. It’s hard to remember what it was like when we were first starting out. Also, there hasn’t been much that didn’t work out for us – whatever we chose to do seemed to work.

I guess the biggest thing is to do what works for your family. If that means supplementing with disposables, using disposable wipes, using Tide, or washing every other day… do it, and don’t let the cloth diaper purists tell you you’re doing it wrong. You need to do what works for you and your family.

What do you view as the essential starter kit for cloth diapering?

This is a hard one too. When I started, I did my research, decided I wanted to use pockets, bought a bunch and never looked back. I haven’t even ever tried using any other type of cloth diaper – prefolds/covers, hybrids, all-in-ones…

It’s also much different diapering a newborn than it is a 6-month-old, 1-year-old, 18-month-old, etc. What works and what you do will change as your child grows and changes.

Diapers, wipes, and a wetbag are really all you need when you first start out with a newborn.

How many diapers do I need to buy?

Figuring out how many diapers you will need requires math – and we all know I hate math. But I guess this is one place where you will use algebra in your life!

Decide how often you want to wash diapers. Figure out how many diapers a baby goes through in a day (usually 8-12 for a child under 1 year, less if they are older). Then do the math. If you want to wash every 2 days, you will need at the very least 25 diapers. I would suggest getting a few more for those days when you don’t get to the laundry or you forget them in the washer.

WARNING: Buying cloth diapers is highly addictive. You will want every color, pattern, and design because it will look adorable on your little one’s tush.  There are several Facebook pages where you can find used diapers to buy/swap/sell. 

Cloth Diaper Swap
Cheapie Dipes
BG Swap Site

I hope this helps! If anyone else has any questions, just comment below and I’ll answer! Thanks!


**This post contains a lot of links and brand names.  I have not been paid or received anything from these companies for mentioning them in this post.  These are only my opinions and recommendations.**

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Blog has a Domain Name!

The other day I was checking out my stats... over 21,000 hits since this blog started.  That's a lot.  The craziest thing to me is that I have had over 1000 hits from outside the US - crazy, scary, true.

I decided it was time to give this blog a little more anonymity by taking our last name out of the URL.  I realize many of my readers are people who know us personally, but there are readers out there who don't know us.  I watch a lot of Criminal Minds and CSI - sometimes anonymity can be a good thing.

You can still find us the way you could before - but now you can also find us by checking out http://www.blessings-abound.com/ :)



Friday, June 1, 2012

Clara. Lately.

Those Terrible-Two’s are here… and Clara isn’t even 2 yet! Although, she will tell you she’s 2 if you ask… we’ve been practicing :)


The tantrums come from out of no-where. We have been doing our best to deal with them, realizing this is just a stage in life, and as our nephews have proven – they do grow out of it. We try not to feed into her, just love her through it.

Along with the tantrums come lots of FUN THINGS about this age! She is so responsive – answering questions, telling you things, pointing things out. She doesn’t miss a thing – the other day I went home a different way than normal and she told me, “mommy – TURN! TURN!” when I went past our usual road.

She continues to love helping with chores – her current favorite activity is chasing the chickens in at night. She picks up a stick and herds them in just like daddy!

Her vocabulary continues to explode – she easily has over 100 words. Not only does she mimic what we say, but she only needs to hear something once and she’s got it. It’s rare that she doesn’t know what something is called. The other day she told me she wanted her “juice in the ‘’ridge!” She is also starting to connect that things have different colors and that the colors have names. She threw a fit the other morning because she wanted a blue shirt - which was hard for me to accommodate because she doesn’t have any blue t-shirts!

She is also proving to be a very caring little girl. She is a good mommy to her dollies and daycare and at home. The other day, Josie (our cat) was sneezing. Clara got right down in her face, patted her on the back and said, “You OK, Josie?”

She goes potty on the potty chair when asked, and a few times has even asked to have her diaper off so she can go. I’m probably the one most dragging my feet on this one – with the move and me starting a new job, there’s been a lot of change lately. I need to buckle down and just do it already.

I could go on and on… she is so fun. Tantrums aside, having a 2-year old is pretty awesome!

Paul and Clara on their 'puters!

That old, stale cereal was headed for the chickens... never made it.

Helper in the garden!

Where do these tomatoes go?

This girl mows the lawn in sparkle shoes!

Reading to baby and rocking!

Time out - Tough LOVE

Riding with daddy in the "tactor" and having the time of her life!

After a fun day at Grandma's - didn't even make it to town before she was OUT!

Why I've Been Absent

So yeah… It’s been over a month since I’ve blogged.


That’s awful.

But… that’s life.

I’ve been a bit preoccupied.

I got a new job!

I will be doing what I do now… just in a different county.

So much will be the same. So much will be different.

I’m scared.

I’m excited!

Pray for me.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Tutorial & Giveaway: Paci Clip

Here it is - my first ever crafty tutorial.  Not sure there will be more... but someone asked for this one, so I thought I would give it a go. 

I made these paci clips for Clara when she was younger.  They work great for corraling the pacifier, and actually stay clipped to their clothes, unlike most of the ones I purchased.  This was one of my favorite baby "gadgets" and certainly saved us from chasing pacis!

To start out, you will need a few supplies:

18" of Ribbon
1 mitten clip
1 hairband
Thread


These are the mitten clips I use, they are $2 at Walmart in the baby section.  I just cut off the elastic strips and you have 4 clips.  These are much cheaper than buying specialty clips at a fabric store.


Thread the ribbon through the clip.

Fold over 1/4" on both ends of the ribbon and press.  (and ignore my sausage fingers and bad manicure!)

Pinch the hairband in half, place it between the two folded ends, and pin in place.

Sew across the folded ends, keeping the hairband in place.  I usually sew 2 rows, 1/8" apart.

Now it should look like this with one sewed end, and both side still open.

Sew down one side of the ribbon, beginning at the folded end and working toward the clip.

If you use a ribbon that is wider than the clip, you will need to taper at the end near the clip.  Work with folding it over until it is even.

Sew to the end as close as you can to the clip.  Then flip it over and do the other side in the same way.


Press the ribbon so that everything lays flat.  Here is the final product!

They are super easy and I whipped this one up in less than 20 minutes while Clara slept.  (in fact, it took way longer to put together this tutorial than it did to actually make the clip!)  I have found that grosgrain ribbon works a little better than the silky stuff, but either will work. 

Now for the GIVEAWAY part!  Since I have no need for this paci clip in the near future, I would like to give it to one of my fabulous readers!

To enter the giveaway, please:

1.  Publicly follow the Blessings Abound Blog.
2.  "Like" Blessings Abound on Facebook.
3.  Leave a comment on this post telling me about your favorite baby/kid "gadget".

Giveaway closes on Friday, May 11th.

Get your entry in and tell your friends!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Little Copy-Cat

I am finding everyday how much Clara picks up on everything we do. She is such a little copy-cat!


I kiss Clara all the time. Seriously, if kisses sustained a child, Clara would be set for life! I always kiss her forehead when I lay her down to change her diaper or change her clothes. (I tell you this because it pertains to the story below… keep reading)

Yesterday, I had just changed Clara’s diaper and was in our bedroom folding clothes. Clara carried her baby out of her room with a pair of her own pants in the other hand. She laid her baby down on one of the steps that leads into our bedroom, kissed her on the forehead, and proceeded to put the pants on her baby, talking to her the whole time.

It was so sweet. I just stood there and watched her – smiling and holding back tears. She’s growing up so darn fast!

Last night as I was getting her out of the bath, she said, “good night cow, good night ducky, good night elmo.” All bath toys. Then as we headed upstairs she said, “good night josie (cat), good night papa, good night daddy, good night Chase.” We hadn’t seen cousin Chase all day, but apparently she wanted to say good night to him. Too funny.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saving Strategies

I have had several people ask me about our strategies for saving for a house purchase. Instead of explaining it 20 times over, I decided to explain it here – then I can just refer with a link!

We started saving for a new house about 4 years ago. We knew we wanted to move, and we really wanted a rural property. Unfortunately, rural properties are often expensive, and many times need a lot of work. Since neither Paul nor I are especially handy, we weren’t looking for a fixer-upper!

I’m a saver. I haven’t always been, but I am now. Money burns holes in Paul’s pockets. If he has 2 pennies to rub together, he will spend them. Heck, he’ll spend 1 penny! So I knew we needed a way to save money that would be easy.

Several years ago, my friend Amy introduced me to http://www.ingdirect.com/ . It’s an online bank that offers higher interest rates because it doesn’t have a lot of overhead like brick and mortar buildings. I had a savings account through ING because at the time it offered 6.5% interest, which was really high. ING also offers automatic withdrawl/deposits and takes a few days to move the money. These features made it the perfect option for us to set up a house savings fund.

We knew we could afford a mortgage payment between $1000-$1200. I set up an automatic deposit into ING from one of our bank accounts each week for $250. So we were putting roughly a mortgage payment into savings each month for the last 4 years. You do the math… it adds up! Since it takes a few days for a transfer to go through, the money was not easily accessible, and therefore harder to “accidentally” spend.

The positives of this are that we were able to save a sizeable down-payment for when the right place came along (and it did!) and we have been living like we have had a mortgage for the last 4 years.

We have savings accounts like this set-up for other things too, like retirement, vacations, etc. that transfer a smaller amount weekly or monthly.

We are handling our new mortgage in much the same fashion, continuing to put away money weekly, and then scheduling a direct payment from that account.
It may seem like a little finagling, but with the money out of sight, out of mind… it’s hard to spend it! But you know that in an absolute emergency… it’s there.

If you are interested in setting up an account in ING, please contact me by leaving a comment with your email address and I will send you a referral. A referral will get you a $25 bonus when you make your first deposit, and will get me a $10 bonus. We both win! :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

5 on Friday


It is once again Friday and time to reflect on this week!

Time Off
I had some weekend events this week and last, so I was able to flex some hours this week. This resulted in getting 3 afternoons off! I was able to do some cleaning, unpacking, and run errands. It was awesome!

Rain
The farmers needed the rain we got twice this week. I was happy to have an evening of everyone in the house snuggling in the living room. We watched Shrek, and Clara loved it!


Sun
We had some nice days this week as well which resulted in us getting a bunch of stuff we bought last Sunday at Farmer Seed and Nursery planted. This included 4 apple trees, strawberries, blueberries, asparagus, and raspberries. We also divided and re-potted some of the hostas from the old house. We will still pick strawberries and raspberries at the old house to freeze for this year, but next year we will have more in our own yard!  Here is Clara fast asleep in the back seat after our trip to the nursery.


Dishes Done!
Last night I made pork loin, scalloped potatoes, and asparagus for supper. Paul was kind enough to do the dishes for me.

Dandelions
Clara and I spent a good portion of Saturday morning playing outside. We drew on the garage bib with sidewalk chalk, walked across the pasture to visit the steers, checked on the chickens and bunnies, fed the outside cats, sat in the lawn chairs, and picked dandelions. Clara brought me my first dandelion bouquet – a crumpled fist full – it was perfect!

Join in the Linky Party at Design Your Dwelling and tell us about your 5 on Friday!






Friday, April 13, 2012

Band Aid

I have a crack on one of my fingers, so I have been covering it with a band aid and some ointment to try to get it to heal.

It was not acceptable to Clara that mommy have a tiger-print band aid on her finger. She wanted it OFF! Here is what ensued...














5 on Friday

Beth, a friend of mine and fellow blogger started a new weekly feature on her blog: 5 on Friday. It’s a list of 5 things that were great this week or made you realize how blessed you are. I love this idea and have decided to make it a staple here as well. I think it can be too easy sometimes to dwell on the negative, instead of finding the beautiful in each day.

You can check out Beth’s 5 on Friday at her blog {Design Your Dwelling}.If you are a blogger, feel free to tell us about your 5 and link it up!

I finally got a new purse!
When I was young and rich (ha!) I bought a new purse every month. They were never very expensive, but it was fun to change up my look often and be on the hunt for a new bag. That has most definitely not been the case the last few years. I was excited when my mom gave me a gift card to a local shop so I could buy a Vera Bradley bag for Christmas. I stopped in twice but didn’t find a bag I was in love with or wanted to spend the $$ on. Then the other day I had a few extra minutes and was in that part of town, so I swung in and discovered they were having a retirement sale with 50% off retired bags. I found a bag that is useful and springy – and have enough on the gift card left to buy another bag another day!



Busy Busy
I’m one of those people who really thrives on being busy. The last few weeks have been chuck full of meetings and events, so I have been very busy at the office. The time goes by so fast and I love that I feel like I’m accomplishing things!

Baby Explosion!
Spring has sprung! My sister’s dog had puppies… there are baby kittens and new lambs at my parent’s house… we have baby chicks and ducks… and one of our rabbits had kits!



Living in the Country
Seeing Clara’s excitement over all the little baby farm creatures, her love of being outside, and her eagerness to “help” with chores has made me ever more thankful that we are able to raise our family in the country, on our little “farm”.

Bunco
Tonight is Bunco night with the ladies. It is so much fun to get together, laugh, eat, talk, vent… oh yeah, and play bunco!

I have 1 more to add – I am super thankful for Paul these days. I know I give him a lot of grief, but herseriously is my hero sometimes. I am so thankful that he is willing to get Clara up and ready in the mornings so I can get to work on time. Even on days when she is Miss Cranky-pants, he still finds a way to make her smile. She adores him and loves following him around outside. The pic below is from daycare - she looks so grown up!

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So what 5 things are you thankful on this Friday?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fudgy Chocolate Frosting

I love cake. It's a great vehicle for frosting!

The other day Paul made a chocolate cake, and while it was good... it needed something.

Frosting.

So at 8:58pm, I called my mom to get her chocolate frosting recipe that I loved growing up. I only quote the time because if you are a Midwesterner, you know how dangerously close I was to calling after 9pm... which is just rude.

I thought I would share the super yummy and easy recipe for one of my favorite things!

Fudgy Chocolate Frosting
Taken from an old church cookbook that's full of grease spots, flour, and missing it's cover :)

1/2 C Sugar
1/4 C Milk
1/4 C butter

Melt in a saucepan, bring to a boil and boil hard for 30 sec stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and add 1 C Chocolate Chips.

Stir until melted, then pour over cake.

Enjoy!!

I apologize that the pic isn't great (I'm not a photographer and I don't pretend to be!), but look at how decadent that frosting is! And yes, Paul had already cut into the cake before I had a chance to frost it. :/

Monday, March 26, 2012

Clara. Lately.



Happy 21-months little girl!

I can’t believe we are rapidly approaching Clara’s 2nd birthday! She is a busy busy girl these days!

She loves going up and down the stairs at the new house, and can even do it with a sippy cup, blanket, or toy in tow. It’s always interesting to reach the top of the stairs and see what she has drug up there.

She has found nooks and crannies to hide things… we have a tube of toothpaste that has been missing for over a week.

Her vocabulary continues to explode and she is now putting 2-3 words together routinely. Her favorite saying at the moment is, “I don’t want it!” While it’s not my favorite thing to hear, it’s better than her shoving things back at me or throwing them on the floor! We also hear about what the kitties are doing, “Kitty eat!” “kitty sleep” “where’s kitty?”

We have also started to watch what we say, as she repeats so much. She also copies our actions. The other day Paul was vacuuming the family room. Clara watched for awhile, then disappeared into the office/playroom and came back pushing her lawnmower, which is the closest toy she has resembling a vacuum.

She loves being outside playing with the animals, following Paul around, and pushing her shopping cart with toys or tools for dad.

It’s also fun to quiz her on her body parts… nose, eyes, ears, mouth, hands, toes… My mom was trying to teach her “knee” the other day. She has also figured out that mommy has a nose, daddy has a nose, grandma has a nose, and even Lucy (the cat) has a nose!

She also loves to sing – Old McDonald is still her favorite and she knows the EIEIO part well, and does a good job on the animal sounds too.

Her counting is progressing. We count whenever we go up and down the stairs or if I’m folding towels, we count how many are in the pile. It’s funny to hear her count when she’s on her own… “1,2,3,5,2,5!”

Her alphabet is progressing as well. She can sing most of it understandably.

Colors is next I think. :)

She still hates having her hair brushed or put up. I managed a ponytail for about a minute yesterday. Anyone have any hints on this?



It’s hard to remember what she was like before she became so responsive. It’s fun to carry on little conversations with her. She is strong-willed though, which can be frustrating. Paul and I are taking the Love and Logic Parenting Class which has been helpful. I have learned different strategies for dealing with her in tough situations.

What a blessing you are sweet Clara! We love you!

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

I’m trying out a new format for putting recipes on here. Let me know what you think!
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It’s amazing how inspired you can be to cook and bake when you have a life-size kitchen! It’s so easy to spread out now and I have easy access to my appliances, cookware, pantry, etc. I’m loving it.

I’m guessing Paul is loving it too because I actually cook a meal most nights now.

Not that I didn’t cook before…

OK. I didn’t.

We ate a lot of frozen pizza.

And frozen chicken chunks.

So this weekend I thought I would give homemade chicken nuggets a shot. I found the recipe on pinterest.
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Date: 3/24/12

Recipe: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2011/04/healthy-baked-chicken-nuggets.html
Modifications: I make my own Italian Breadcrumbs – but you can use store-bought.

Time to table: 30 minutes

Servings: 4 adults

Paul: Wasn’t home
Mamie: Love
Clara: Like

Notes: These are so yummy – I’m never buying chicken chunks from the store again. They were really easy too. Next time I freeze chicken, I’m going to cut up a few bags right away so all I will have to do is thaw the chicken to make these. Clara was pretty disinterested in food on Saturday as a whole, so she might like them more the next time.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pesto-Pasta with Chicken Recipe

It is so awesome having a “real” kitchen! I will admit I’m not super adventurous when cooking in the kitchen, but sometimes I surprise myself!

Such was the case when I cranked out this concoction over the weekend. During the move, I discovered I had A LOT of good stuff hiding in my pantry. I made a resolution to use up some of that good stuff and avoid a trip to the grocery store for awhile, except to pick-up fresh produce and milk.

I also had some defrosted chicken breasts in the fridge that I needed to use up. My mom had made a similar dish that I remember eating when I was at my parent’s recently, so that was my inspiration.

The pesto also came from our freezer – my mom makes big batches each summer and freezes it in baby food containers. She shares some with me since we are big pesto fans!

Pesto-Pasta with Chicken

2 chicken breasts
Wildtree Alfredo Extraordinaire or 2 cups of jarred alfredo sauce
½ cup of pesto (jarred or make your own)
pasta (I used penne)

(I’ve warned you before that I don’t measure when I cook, so these are all estimations!)

Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breast and cook in a skillet with some olive oil. When they are cooked all the way through, remove from heat and cut into cubes.

Cook 4 servings of your favorite pasta, drain.

Prepare 2 servings of Wildtree Alfredo Extraordinaire according to the instructions, or pour 2 cups of jarred alfredo sauce into a sauce pan. Heat through. Add ½ cup of pesto and stir. Add the chicken and let cook on low for 10 minutes.

Add the pasta, give it a good stir, and serve! I added a little shredded mozzarella to the top because I love cheese. Enjoy!

Pin It


Thursday, March 8, 2012

11 Things.

I got this post from one of my favorite blogs: Marital Bless. While Leah didn’t tag me (I doubt she knows I exist), I’m going to do it anyway.

The Rules
1. Post these rules
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself
3. Answer the questions set for you in the post you were tagged in
4. Create 11 new questions for your tagees to answer
5. Tag them on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog

11 Random Things About Me
1. I know how to play 3 musical instruments: piano, flute, and handbells.
2. I haven’t cut or colored my hair since November of 2010 – and it needs it. Bad.
3. I will only drink coffee with cream and sugar.
4. I’m a night owl, but go to bed early because I need sleep.
5. I don’t eat condiments. Ketchup makes me gag. No mustard, mayo, or salad dressings either.
6. I once didn’t eat ham because it had “egg juice” on it. And I was 18 years old.7.
I was a State FFA Officer.
8. I wash my face religiously every morning and night with my clarisonic.
9. My office goes back and forth between organized and “tornado-just-went-through”.
10. I have had 3 pedicures in my life, the first one when I was 28 years old.
11. I know how to sew, knit, crochet, cross-stitch, and weld.

11 Questions from Leah

1. What is your favorite holiday? I used to say Christmas Eve Day, but now I don’t know. Holidays seem to just slip by these days. I need to change that.

2. How would you describe your first kiss? Quick

3. Did you go to public or private school? Private elementary school and public high school. I loved graduating with a class of 11 from elementary school. My girlfriends from there are some of my closest friends to this day.

4. Who knows you best? Probably my sister. There is little we can hide from each other.

5. Hair binder, hair tie or ponytail holder? I call it a hairband.

6. Domestic goddess or wannabe? Probably a wannabe. I’d like to think I’m a goddess J

7. What is your favorite pen to write with? Xenon Aqua Roller… Ginny got me hooked on them. They’re $3 a piece, but sooooo worth it!

8. Where is your fast food of poison? Arby’s Roast Beef Sandwich

9. What was the biggest trophy you ever won? I think I have 1 trophy – Champion 4-H Sheep Showman of the Goodhue County Fair in 2006. Otherwise, it’s all plaques. Best plaque is for 1st Place National FFA Creed Speaking Contest.

10. What was your favorite grade? 3rd immediately popped into my head. I loved my teacher – Miss Schmidt.

11. Do you like your passport/drivers license picture? LOVE my license picture – it was taken a few weeks after Clara was born, so I still have that new mom “glow”. I’m super bummed I have to get a new license with our new address. I work with the Recorder’s Office ladies… I’m going to see if I can talk them into letting me keep it :)

11 Questions for others-

1. What is your middle name?
2. Who was your best friend in grade school?
3. How many kids do you want to have?
4. What is your morning routine?
5. What is your favorite movie?
6. What was your favorite extra-curricular activity in high school?
7. Can you do any stupid human tricks?
8. What was your first car?
9. What is your dream job?
10. Any regrets?
11. What is your ringtone?

Tagged: A Simple Mother Life's Adventures Nicole.Starr Design Your Dwelling

If anyone else wants to be tagged - just let me know! GO!

Lasts... and Firsts....

It hit me this morning as I was standing in the bathroom getting ready, that this would be the last normal, work-day morning - in this house.

This would be the last time that I would stand in front of that mirror and do my morning routine to go to work.

It would be the last time Paul and I would tag-team it with Clara as we both tried to get showered, dressed, lunches packed, and out the door – in this house.

It would be the last time I would wave at bus driver Ruth, as our paths crossed at 7:31am.

Lots of “lasts”.

And as exciting as all the “firsts” will be, it’s still a little sad to think about all the “lasts”. As much as I have hated that house, it has been a home for our little family for the last 5 ½ years. We have memories there. It will always be our little, “teeny tiny house in the middle of nowhere!”

But we have waited a long time for the “firsts”! Last weekend I unpacked the first box, and this weekend we will spend our first night in the new house. It’s exciting… and scary… but mostly exciting!

Thank you to everyone for your comments, support, and advice as we become new homeowners!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sneak Peak of our New House!

Here are some pics of our new house! When I uploaded these, I kinda went backwards, so it might make sense to page all the way to the bottom and work your way back up :) Sorry some of the pictures are really bad - I was trying to take pictures, corral Clara, and listen to the inspector all at the same time! These pictures were taken before the previous owner moved out, so all the furnishings are theirs.


Upstairs Hall
Stairs
Living Room
Living Room
Living Room

kitchen into dining room
From kitchen into dining room Kitchen
Dining room looking into the Living Room

Family Room
Family Room
Entry way
Downstairs Bathroom
Downstairs bathroom
Dining room
Dining room with built in hutch
Master Bedroom
Master Bedroom
Downstairs Bedroom (will most likely be my craft room for now)



Clara's Bedroom

Upstairs Bathroom
Upstairs Bathroom
"Back" of the house, door and garage entry



Front of the house

View of the house from the road