Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year... Almost

Hello to those of you that follow my blog, although there are a few of you (especially since I'm SO inconsistent with blogging)....
The New Year is bringing some changes to our home... I start my graduate program to become a Nurse Practitioner so I will be busy with that as well as work and Momdom.

I have decided that in an effort to improve our overall health and mood I'm going to make some dietary changes in the household.  I'm going to convert to as much whole food/ gluten free food as I can.  I expect some protest amongst the masses so it will be a slow and gradual change over.  I have some definite carb and sugar lovers in my house and the kids think Pasta is a must several days a week.... 

As I try out recipes I will share them with you and how they were received here...  For now, I'm researching and gathering recipes :) 

I hope that you enjoy your New Year's Eve celebrations tonight :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Quiet time....

Quiet time is something I crave.  A few minutes here or there where it's just me, no noise and no distractions.  For everyone this time looks like something different.....
Lately for me it looks like this

My alarm goes off at an ungodly hour so that I can start my day.  I let the dogs out, poke the teen to get her started and turn on the coffee pot.  I brew that first lovely cup of coffee.

Then I get my coffee, and my bible and go sit on the couch.  I take a few minutes to pray and ask God to help me see what he wants me to see in the bible.  I thank him for my blessings and open up to whichever chapter I am studying.  If my teen is up, sometimes I read it out loud (she asks me to sometimes) sometimes I don't.  I don't turn on the TV, check the internet or anything else before I get this quiet time....

I always start out with one chapter in the old testament, one psalm, the days proverb, and one chapter in the new testament.  I get sidetracked sometimes, something catches my eye and I keep reading or I just felt led.  I also use my bible app for a bible study that I'm doing. 

Then I thank God again, ask him to be with me throughout the day and move on with my day.  I feel better on the days when I manage to do this.
I used to always want to sit and read my bible, but I let other things get in the way.  I didn't make a daily commitment to it.  Oh I would do okay for a day or two, maybe even a week but then I would get busy and stop again. 

After we got moved in up here I decided to try yet again to be consistent.  This included my decision to not check my email, phone, television etc before I did my reading.  Can I tell you the change it has made in my whole day, and my whole outlook? 
I still have my crazy days, but I handle them better.  I feel more peaceful, I think I'm better with the girls.  I just feel at peace.

I implore you... find your quiet time.  I know it's hard when the kids are little and you work all day (in or out of the house).  I know that you will skip a day here or there (I have) but try to find a way to do it consistently.... A few minutes each day just you, God and your bible.  I promise you that if you do it things will change.  Not outside things, but inside things... the things that matter.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Marriage as a priority and a ministry

Good Morning World....
I have spent time in prayer this week on marriage.  This morning while I was reading in 1 Corinthians I came across a devotion in my bible that brought the points home.  I have the Woman Thou Art Loosed bible (among several other bibles) from T.D. Jakes.

 I have been talking to friends about marriage and what our priority should be.  What comes first our marriage or being a servant to God?  How do you balance the two?  For many people marriage comes last, not first. 

The bible calls us to minister to our families first.  1 Corinthians 7:33-34 we are admonished not to be so caught up in the spiritual duties that we forget to be a wife and see to his needs, and vice versa.  God wants husbands and wives to see to one another, then to the needs of the world.  We are to be concerned with pleasing one another first.  Your priorities need to begin at home... God has called you to be a wife/husband and a parent if you have kids first.  Then to be a minister, teacher, nurse, cook, waitress etc, etc, etc... 

Now this doesn't release us from our obligation to spend time in the word, and serving others.  It is a reminder that our ministry should begin in our own home.  Do you spend time in your bible?  Do you pray for one another? Do you pray with one another? 

I am not about to say my marriage is perfect, in fact it is far from it.  We don't often find the time to read the bible together (although we are trying) and I know that often we forget to make our marriage a priority.  It takes work, we have to schedule time for our spouses. Make a date for after the kids go to bed, go for a walk together... This doesn't cost you anything and it will draw you closer to one another.  Pray for your spouse every day... not in a oh God fix him way either, in an Oh God fix me and my attitude way.  You can't fix him, you can only fix yourself....

Be blessed today my friends. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Housework... not cooking today

School is back in here, for which I'm so grateful and I am getting back into a routine.  I have to say that after many years I think I have finally gotten the hang of this housework thing (as long as I don't get sick of course)....

Let's be real, most of us don't enjoy housework.  Yes, we all enjoy a clean house and peace but we hate doing the actual work.  Now, I know there are a few of you that like cleaning but I don't really.  I like seeing that the work is done, and that I have crossed stuff of my list but there are a million things I would rather be doing.  Sewing, reading, knitting, writing something, vegging out and doing nothing.  Those things can't  happen though unless the house is clean.  I have a hard time relaxing in a mess.

I have tried all sorts of systems and of course none worked exactly for me.  I read a book years ago (really I think it may have been when my teen was a baby) that talked about my specific problem, perhaps it is your problem too....

You start cleaning up your living room, and see the glass that needs to go to the kitchen so you take it to the kitchen where you see crumbs on the table.  You set down the glass and wipe off the table, except now the floor is dirty (you know you dropped those crumbs), you go to the laundry room to get the broom and you see that there is a load of wash that you need to fold.  You fold it and go to the upstairs to put it away and realize that the room is messy.  The cycle continues and you realize that you haven't ever managed to finish cleaning anything.  The house is still a mess and you have been running all day long.  You throw up your hands in frustration and go eat bonbons....

Okay, so the bon bons part is not real.  At least not for me....  I will admit to being reduced to tears by frustration at the never ending part of housework.  I try to remind myself that everything I do is important but sometimes it gets overwhelming.  I know it and you know it.

The important thing is to find a system that works for YOU, what works for me may not work for you.  Keep trying till you figure out what that is...  I have found a lot of help from flylady.net and definitely recommend it if you are looking for a system.  I will tell you what works for me though, and hopefully it helps someone.

First of all, I try to pick up as I go, and get the kids and husband to do this too.  It doesn't always work but I try.  Then I have a different focus each day, that is the room that gets deep cleaned that day.  The other rooms get a cursory clean. 

Daily - I wipe off the counters, make sure the dishes get loaded in the dishwasher (although if I get it emptied in morning the girls are responsible for loading their own dishes).  I also sweep and vacuum every other day (or the girls do if it is their assigned chore) because of the pets.  I retuck the slipcovers on the couches, and clear off any hotspots (you know where ever papers get tossed).  If I do this in the morning and again at night my house stays fairly tidy.  I also try to start a load of laundry before bed and then I put it in the dryer as soon as I get up, then fold when it's done. The girls are also responsible for taking their laundry up and putting it away.  I also look around and if I see something that needs to be done I do it.  I walk through the girls rooms checking for anything that I can pick up quickly and easily (which is usually a discarded shirt or something), and walk through their bathroom as well.  They do a fairly good job keeping their stuff picked up now since they are all bigger but I still give each room a cursory check each day.

Monday - I clean the kitchen in detail.  I start at the top (the light fixture) and work my way down. I wipe off cabinet fronts, put a dish with vinegar and water in the microwave and turn it on for 2 min to loosen up the junk, I pull the burner covers and throw them in the sink to soak.  Then I wipe down the inside of the microwave, wipe off the counters, wipe out the sink.  I load the dishwasher with whatever is laying around to include the drip pan from the coffee pot and the toaster.  I clean the burner covers and put them back on the stove.  Then I sweep and steam mop.  Once a month I try to remember to pull out the stove and fridge but that doesn't always happen.

Tuesday - I clean up the living rooms.  That includes three rooms in this new house, the living room, the craft room and the game room.  I dust the blinds, pictures, knick knacks whatever.  I clear off surfaces and wipe them down.  I dust the TV, the computer and the keyboard.  I wipe off the game room table.  Then I make sure the movies are all put away and I vacuum (the girls do most of the vacuuming so on Tuesday I make sure to do it well, I move furniture to get all the nooks and crannies).

Wednesday - I do the bathrooms.  I squirt cleaner in the toilet and close the lid.  Then I clean my mirror, clear off the counter top, wipe it down.  I wipe out the sink and dust any knicknacks in the bathroom.  Then I clean the outside of the toilet.  Finally I use the scrub brush.  Then I wipe out the shower and tubs in the two rooms that have them and hit the floors.

Thursday - this is the bedroom day.  The girls strip their sheets before school (or that's the plan anyway... doesn't always happen).  I do my sheets Thursday as well.  I dust as needed and vacuum.  The girls try to pick up their rooms each night and if they do I will vacuum for them.  Otherwise they do it on the weekends.

Friday - Car and Purse clean out day...  I get whatever junk has accumulated in the car and bring it in.  I throw out the trash and empty my purse.  I also try to hit any hot spots in the house that need it on Friday.  My goal is to have the house clean for the weekend so other than just picking up whatever we get out there isn't any real cleaning on the weekends.

This is our system.  It's not perfect, it doesn't always work either.  Sometimes it piles up, or I get too busy or the girls do.  This is my guideline though and what I try to do.  I will say that as long as everyone is putting out what they get away this system works very well.  When I follow this system my house tends to stay clean enough for company and we are all calmer. 

So tell me what is your secret to a clean house?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sammie's Baking Day

I have a budding baker in my house...  Samantha loves to bake bread.  For real, from scratch bread.  She has done this a few times in the past and has been bugging me since we moved to let her bake her bread again.  Today I let her. 

She uses a recipe from Paula Deen's My First Cookbook for honey butter and Homemade Bread.

Sammie's Bread

Ingredients

1 cup Milk
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup warm water
2 packages dry yeast
5 cup all purpose flour (with a little extra for kneading)
Cooking Spray

Measure the milk in the liquid measuring cup. Put the cup in the microwave and nuke it for 40 seconds on high, until it's slightly warm.  Pour it into the large bowl.  Add the sugar, salt, and vegetable oil and stir them well.  Measure 1 cup warm water from the tap, put the yeast into the water and stir it about 5 times.  Let it sit on the counter for about 10 min.  It should bubble up pretty good (Sammie likes to watch it bubble).

Pour the yeast mixture ontop of the milk and stir it well.  Add the flour one cup at a time, mixing it well after each cup.  Use your wooden spoon.  By the end it's pretty thick, she tends to ask for help at this point or just do it with her bare hands. 

Put a clean towel over the top of the bowl and put it somewhere warm to rise.  (A good spot is next to the oven which you can preheat to 375 while it's rising).  Let it be for about an hour.

Stir it down, and  then turn it out onto a floured cutting board or counter top to knead.  Knead the dough for about 2 minutes.  Add a little flour if it's sticky.

Spray your loaf pans (you need two) with cooking spray.  Divide the dough in half, shape into a loaf and put it in the pan to rise.  Cover it with a clean towel.   Let it rise for about 15 more minutes.

Put it in the oven for 35-40 min until browned on top and hollow sounding.

Let cool for 15 min, then turn out onto a board to cut. 
Here's my Sam I am with her yummy homemade bread.... I need to remember to let her do this more often especially since she does it all on her own except for pulling it out of the oven and it's oh so good!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Recipe free day....

My plan for today was to share the yummy lettuce wraps that I cooked for dinner last night...  Except, they weren't all that yummy.
The girls did eat them without drama, which is always nice but the recipe needs some tweaking (or maybe a whole new recipe who knows) before I share.

Today's plan includes Banana Hotdogs (A new breakfast food we are trying, banana on hot dog bun with peanut butter and jelly), sandwiches for lunch and homemade pizza for dinner.  Nothing new to share there either. 

We have been prepping for back to school this week (have I mentioned how happy I am that school starts Tuesday) so I have been doing some stockpile cooking.  I made a huge pot of Minestrone soup on Wednesday and froze it in individual servings for after school snacks or lunch.  My oldest loves soup for snack and I would rather she have a nice healthy bowl of Minestrone then a package of Ramen.  I hit up Sam's club and stocked up on baked chips, fruit leather, granola bars etc...

We had meet the teacher yesterday for the younger two and the girls are all very excited about it.  I think both of their teachers are nice but I'm a little worried (okay, well a LOT worried) about  whether or not they are going to be challenged.  I am reminding myself that God has this in control.  Everything about this move has been God directed and I have felt that peace so I have to remember he has this too.  If it doesn't work out at the school I can always homeschool them.  We shall see what happens with that.

I'm sure I have bored you enough for today.... What are you doing for school prep meal wise?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Facebook Apple Bread

We all see the recipes passed around on facebook.  We share them to our walls so that we can find them later but how many of those recipes have you actually tried.

I admit,  have NEVER actually made one of them.  I always mean too but then I just don't get around to it and it's buried somewhere and I'm not digging it out.

Today was different.  I had apples that the girls hadn't eaten yet and needed to be used or thrown out.  Normally when I have apples like that I make Ozark Apple Pudding (a family recipe from Jim's side).  This morning I decided I was going to make the Apple Cinnamon Loaf that has been floating around facebook.  It said it cooked in 20-30 min... Now I have baked many breads and that seemed a bit short to me but figured it was worth a shot.

I increased the apple because I wanted to use more and make it nice and appley (is that a word?). The girls of course woke up while I was making it and they were anxiously waiting for it to cook so they could eat.  Hungry girls having to wait for bread to bake... Led to somewhat grumpy girls too I might add :)

I tried to keep them entertained divvying up the school supplies for open house today but they were still anxious. 

The bread took 55 minutes to bake through...  It was good and I'm glad I made a double batch so I could freeze one for another day but it is not as quick as they said.

Here is the recipe with my changes (doubled apples and I added salt... baked goods require salt)

Apple Cinnamon Loaf


Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 apples peeled and chopped 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and sugar a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Beat white sugar and butter together in a bowl using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated; add vanilla extract.
  3. Combine flour, salt and baking powder together in another bowl; stir into creamed butter mixture. Mix milk into batter until smooth. Stir in half the chopped apples. Pour half the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Next add half the apples and half the brown sugar cinnamon mixture. Lightly pat apple mixture into batter.
  4. Pour the remaining batter over apple layer; top with remaining apples and add more brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Lightly pat apples into batter; swirl brown sugar mixture through apples using a finger or spoon.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes.
 
Here's a tip btw.. if you need softened butter but don't have any just pop it in the microwave for 15-20 sec... 
 

 My bread stuck... but the girls didn't care and it was Yummy!  Great addition to coffee in the morning!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A twist on Fettucini Alfredo

Well my girls love Pasta... they would eat it every night of the week if I would let them (which of course I won't).  We have been experimenting with gluten free pasta and so far we have been pleased.  That being said, tonight we just used normal pasta.  I forgot to pick up the gluten free pasta at Woodman's and didn't feel like going there after my dental work today so I just picked up a box of fettucini at Target. 

I found the basic recipe on another blog and imported it to Plan to eat.  If you have plan to eat here is the link http://www.plantoeat.com/recipes/1431713

For those of you who don't (and this includes me because I'm still on my free trial and I'm not sure if I'm going to keep it or not). 

The basic recipe is from abearinthekitchen.blogspot.com

This is a Cajun Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo and of course I modified her recipe a bit to our tastes.

Ingredients
  • 1 lb Fettucini Noodles
  • boneless skinless chicken tenders
  • cajun seasoning blend
  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms (or some sort of mushroom)
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach torn
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded italian cheese blend (I think I used more, I just took two handfuls)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to tastes
  • fresh parsley
 
Cook fettuccine according to package directions. **Important - scoop out 1 cup of pasta water before you drain the pasta and set it aside.** Drain and rinse with hot tap water to keep pasta from sticking. Set aside.

Sprinkle each chicken tender on both sides with ample blackening spice, rubbing the spice in to adhere. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet, get skillet very hot. Working in batches place chicken breasts in skillet (so as not to crowd the pan) and sear on one side until very browned, about 3 minutes. Flip chicken over and sear on other side for 1 minute. Place chicken on sprayed baking sheet. Add another tablespoon of butter to the hot pan and repeat searing until all the chicken has been done. Place chicken on baking sheet and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, just until cooked through. Remove chicken and slice on the diagonal into strips. Cover with foil and set aside.

After chicken breasts go in the oven, start on the sauce in the same skillet. If needed add another tablespoon of olive oil and get the skillet nice and hot again. Pour chicken broth into skillet and whisk up all the brown bits... It's going to produce a lot of steam when you add the broth so be prepared for that. Add tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic and saute until softened, about 2 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and pour in the heavy cream, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste and remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.
 
 Continue to stir for 6 minutes, until cream has reduced and thickened (for me this is hard to gauge, I just watched it and when it had been long enough moved on).  Stir in two handfuls of torn baby spinach leaves, then  Remove from heat and stir in cheeses, stirring constantly until cheeses melt. Add pasta and toss. Add the reserved pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce so it will coat the pasta. Add chicken and toss. Serve topped with parsley and Parmesan cheese if desired.
 
 
 This meal earned 4 stars at our house (meaning everyone enjoyed it).... I hope you guys do too

Changes, lots and lots of changes....

Well my friends, long time no blog... 
When last we met I was frantically trying to finish my bachelor's degree and awaiting my husbands return from Saudi Arabia.  We knew we were due to move, but not where we were moving too.  

 Welcome to Kenosha, Wisconsin....  Jim has been assigned here as a recruiter and is currently away at school.

We have had a very busy summer, visiting family and friends in Texas, saying goodbye to all of our friends and family in Missouri and moving north.  It has been quite the adventure.

The house is finally fully functioning and set up (well aside from my room, why is my room always last.... oh well I will get to it at some point).  The girls start school next week (can I get a Halleluiah anyone?) and so far I am still unemployed.  I have had a few interviews at the hospital I am hoping to work at but no decision has been made about the position yet so I'm in limbo.  There are other hospitals, clinics, jobs etc but this is the place I want to work at so I will wait a bit longer.
I did in fact finish my bachelor's degree in nursing and now I'm trying for my Grad school... Waiting on transcripts from all of the lovely houses of learning I have graced with my attendance before I can proceed.  

We have found a church, where the music and message are good and the girls are happy.  I still feel like a ship lost at sea there but that's okay I'm sure that will pass eventually.

Since moving here I am trying to make some dietary changes for the whole family, less processed food, more vegetarian nights, and more activity!  I will again be sharing recipes and just life in general with the few people who choose to follow my blog. 

So Welcome Back my friends!