Sunday, January 31, 2010

Grateful Sunday

Print found here

This week I am grateful for:

a plate of chocolate cake and a stack of People Magazines dropped on my doorstep from my friend - how great is that!?

my husbands laugh - not the courtesy laugh that he does often, but when he truly busts out because he finds something humorous, it is one of the best sounds!

My kids are old enough to do a lot on their own, but little enough to still call me "mommy" and love to cuddle.

Sundays are a day of rest - what a blessing.

What are you grateful for?

"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."
William Author Ward

Friday, January 29, 2010

Freezer Meal Group Info

I professed my love of my freezer meal group a couple of weeks ago, and am still getting emails demanding more information. So. . . here goes.

Our group consists of 6 families of basically the same size. Once a month, we get together and swap meals. Which means, before the date, we email each other what we are making for the month and then we make it - six times. It usually takes me an afternoon of cooking to make my meals. We meet with our meals, labeled with instructions and leave with six different meals for our freezer. It is very simple, and our leader makes sure it doesn't get too complicated. I think the only rule is to make sure that it is a complete main dish. For example, if you make sloppy joes, make sure you include the buns. Oh . . . and use common sense. It seems to work for us.

My friend, Jenni, at A Bear in the Kitchen is really the freezer meal queen and has some great recipes on her blog.

Because of the demand, I'll start posting some of the recipes every now and then. After six months of participating in this group, I've got some great ones!

Ham and Cheese Braid

This is one of my families favorites!

1 loaf Rhodes bread dough

1/2 cup or 1 stick butter

1 envelope Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix (not generic)

3/4 lb. thinly sliced ham

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Assembly Roll bread dough out into a rectangular shape so that its approximately 1/2" thick. Combine butter and ranch mix. Spread about 5 tablespoons of mixture on the rectangle. Layer ham and cheese down the center of the rectangle. Use a pizza cutter to cut strips along each side of the dough (even numbers on each side). Starting at bottom, take each piece, cross and twist. Continue criss-crossing until your it is all braided. Brush remaining butter ranch mixture over the top. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Wrap loaf with plastic wrap and then foil. Label with cooking instructions and freeze.

Cooking Instructions Unwrap from foil and plastic wrap and set on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap. Let thaw overnight in refrigerator. A couple hours before you are ready to bake place on counter to let rise. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Laurel's Notes: I don't use that much butter - it was way too much for us. I originally got the recipe here. Because Rhodes Rolls come in packages of three, I just make all three at a time; we eat one that night and freeze two for later (if I'm making this for just our family and not for the group). Just so it is said - my babe who is allergic to a slew of things, is also allergic to this - it is NOT gluten free.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hometown Seeds

Are you dreaming of spring, happily browsing seed catalogs? This is the first time since we've lived in Colorado that we'll actually have a garden and places to plant things.

I was emailed by Hometown Seeds, an online gardening site. They have been so pleased and grateful to all the online help they have received while developing their business.

They are offering a 10& discount on all products to my readers. Enter the coupon code thanks to receive the discount. The code will be good for a month - expires February 28th. What are you interested in - an herb garden for your kitchen, a vegetable garden, a cutting garden? Or all three - like me!


Monday, January 25, 2010

Evolution of an Office - Bookshelves

I showed you my blank slate of an office. Right after Christmas, we started working on it. Tom's parents came for a visit and started working on the bookshelves right away. I've been collecting pictures forever and they finally had a good idea of what I wanted. Between the two of them and our friend down the street with the right tools, they stayed busy for a whole week.

I totally underestimated how complicated of a project this was. When the baseboards came off, and the carpet was ripped back, I knew it was serious.

They flank the window and go up almost 11 feet high. I'm not sure I have enough to fill this up right now, but having too many bookshelves is not a bad thing. Go big or go home - right?
This week, we're going to finish all the spackle and the sanding and start the priming and the painting. Tom's dad is building cabinet doors for the bottom cabinets at his home where he has the tools he loves and then will get them back to us somehow. Crown moulding . . . I do love you. I dream of these bookshelves. Thinking about them takes me to my happy place.
Oh - for you observant ones. We did start painting. I wanted the color to show through the bookshelves, which complicated this project even more. Tom said it would have been so much easier if it had a back. They could have added a back and I could have just painted it before they added it - oops. The color is called Smooth Stone from Glidden. We still have a lot more painting to go, so you'll see better pictures as I get to that spot.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Grateful Sunday

This is my third child. I call her M. here on this blog. Don't let the sweetness of her chubby cheeks fool you - this girl has an attitude. Actually, she has an ATTITUDE! She's giving me a run for my money, that's for sure.

She has an intense desire to be in control, partnered with extreme will power that she gets from her father. This month, she has given up sleeping in her crib and now sleeps on a couch in our room until we get around to buying her a bed. She has given up naps, even though she's been taking naps on her sister's bed for over a year without ever getting off. She has decided that diapers are not for her and instead of learning to go on the potty, she has just held it - for over 8 hours.

What does this have to do with being grateful? Well, after the past week that I've had with this one (oh, I forgot to mention that my hubby was out of town on business), there's not much I think is good going on. I am grateful for this habit because it forces me to be positive when I really don't feel like it. I could stay in this rotten mood for awhile and I'm going to be honest - it kind of feels good, or I could choose to be grateful. I choose the latter. The list may be small, and superficial - but it's a start.
I am grateful for:
  • A Little Caesars opened just a little down the road. Hooray for $5 pizza!
  • My hubby came home from his business trip three days early - an answer to my prayers, I am sure.
  • My treadmill in the basement and my 5am runs with it.
  • A new week starts today - and with it a new hope for some better days ahead.

Sorry to be such a downer on this post. Life doesn't always go as planned around these parts and I would feel so fake pretending we don't have our difficult days. No need to be worried, or anything - I'm fine. Sometimes mothering really takes it out of you - do you know what I mean?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Valentines Day Tree

Did you pick up one of the tacky pink tinsel trees in the after Christmas sales? You didn't? Well . . .you might be missing out.

Years ago, I saw a Valentine Tree and knew it must be mine. It was from One more Moore. You all know I'm a big copy cat and never think of anything myself-and I have to give credit where credit is due.
I hung the little Love Birds on it.
and some hearts we've had for years.
it needs a little straightening, and some more ornaments. There is no school this Friday and I'm thinking we'll probably be crafting more decorations - I'm thinking white fluffy pom poms. or red ric rac. or both.
It's just so dang cute, it makes me want to squeal when I see it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Technology Tickets

Oh, to have to be a strict mother - it stinks. My kids love TV, DVDs, video games - you name it. And there have been many times (probably too many) that I have been so grateful that they will sit and devour a show while I do something. BUT . . . . there has been some bickering lately. Too much bickering. When all else fails, and I feel like throwing my hands up in the air, I usually buckle down and dig down to my elementary school teaching roots. We come up with systems.

I read on Ashley Ann Photography blog about Wii tickets. At first it seemed like a lot of effort, but as the crying and stomping of feet increased, I went back to this. I just used plain old tags as tickets. I think a pack of 25 cost me $1. I stamped their names on them. They each get 10 and Tom and I get 5 labeled "reward." We can pass them out as rewards. Perhaps my favorite part of Ashley's idea was that chalkboard clipboard. I had chalkboard paint, and old clipboards . . . . so that was easy.

Here is our system. Each ticket represents 1/2 hour of technology. On Sundays after church, they receive 10 tickets. They give me a ticket, I set the timer. Tom and I reserve the right to say "no" even if they have a ticket, though. That's for when they bust out the ticket at 8:00 at night, or they have already used several tickets in a row. When they are out, they're out and no amount of crying will get them more tickets. I sure hope this works. I'm crossing my fingers. At least if it is another system that doesn't really meet our needs, it was a cute system!

PS - check out First Time Books . . . they make cute books personalized to your child -more than just their name. You can choose race, hair color, friends, birthdates and on and on. G. has the ABC book and loves it. Just thought I'd pass it on.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Grateful Sunday

I am grateful for:
seasons - I like the changes, I like the passage of time. I like having something to look forward to. I've been defending CO to my "CA is the best place in the world and why would anyone even consider living anywhere else" relatives for awhile and after having lived several years where there are no seasons, I can conclude that while I love to visit CA and other places, give me seasons any day (ooooh - we might have some more controversy in my family now because I wrote that).

quiet time- there is a mandatory quiet time in our home every day for at least an hour. I need that little bit of down time before I rush off to continue my day.

healthy kids - right now there are no snuffly noses, coughs, fevers, rashes.... at least right now. I'll enjoy it while we have it.

What are you thankful for?

It is always wise to stop wishing for things long enough to enjoy the fragrance of those now flowering. Patrice Gifford

Friday, January 15, 2010

Freezer Meal Group . . .

. . . I love you.
My freezer is now packed with delicious, homemade meals that require little work (some time and thinking ahead, though). Thank you! See you next month!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Love Birds

It's not too late to start Valentine's Day, is it? Have you seen this book? I've owned it forever, and just stared at all of it's beautiful pictures. I have so many pages marked as things I love.

With all the work being done in the office, and most of it not being done by me, my fingers were itching. I made the birds, out of scraps from the Valentines Day quilts. What a fun project! It went together quickly and was instant gratification - yes!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Evolution of an Office . . Part 1

This is our office:

Obviously, I haven't done anything with this room . . . but that is already changing. This room is right off the foyer, and it has taken over a year of planning (and saving) to start working on this room. It's a narrow and small with ceilings that slope up to 14'. Over the next couple of months, we're painting, installing built in bookshelves, installing a chair rail and wainscoting, finding the perfect light fixture that both of us agree on (we paid to have it ired for a ceiling fan, but my hubby and I don't have the same feelings towards those), finding the perfect desk, sewing a slipcover for a couch we already own, and then accessorizing everything. We've got a lot of work ahead of us and it has already started! With every step, Tom always questions me and makes me second guess myself, including this room. He might be skeptical, but I am super excited and ready to put in some late nights on this room.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Grateful Sunday

(my grandma and grandpa's hands)
I am grateful for:

apothecary jars

school back in session and my kids love their teachers

crawling into bed after a bath and the sheets are brand new clean!

little voices singing in the back seat

sunshine on snow

Martha Stewart Living magazine came this week - this year I will do at least one thing from that magazine.

What are you thankful for?

If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily. ~Gerald Good

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Organizing My Fabric

Prepare to be uninspired. I've seen craft spaces that are awesome, and mine is not. I like to sew, and I like to organize, and often the 2 do not mix. I have had several emails wondering how I organize all my fabrics, though, so I'll show you what I've got.

I keep all my supplies in our basement - but my sewing machine is on our landing upstairs. Not ideal, but I make it work for now.

I sort my fabric by color and keep them in plastic bins (what a shock!). My kids play in this basement, so do their friends, and I don't police this area. The bins keep them contained, and little fingers away. I put all types of fabric, just sort by colors.

On the top of these cubbies I have buckets. The big one holds scraps. The great Target Dollar Spot bins hold works-in-progress, and at the end is a bin which holds extras to monogram (onesies, bags, pillowcases . . .)

This works great for us. I can hardly keep my oldest daughter out of them. She can dream faster than I can create - isn't that always the case.

I'll leave you with photos of Martha's craft room . . . a girl can dream, right?

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