Thursday, July 31, 2014

Train/Art Table (Kid's Fort Update) and Other Life Updates

It is finished!!! 

We have this closet under the stairs and it has just stored toys that we have picked up on sales and old toys of Jared and mine. There is a box of Christmas decorations and some other odds and ends. I decided it would make the perfect fort for our children. I will talk more about that after the pictures. We cleared out the end and Jared installed a table. 

I need to buy one more plastic bin to hold the train pieces once I open that bottom box. But for now he is happy playing with the little train set I bought for $2 at the thrift store. Woohoo. 

Martin can open doors now and he found  his way into the closet today and started playing with it. He likes to roll them down the hill, which is an improvement because normally he just likes to tear the pieces apart. See the cushions I made a few months ago. :)

He was having so much fun that he didn't want to stop to eat or nap. He started throwing train pieces (a clear sign that he is tired) and told him it was nap time. He threw a fit, threw himself on the ground, kicked his legs, and tried to hit me (he has developed this awful shrill squeal when he gets mad, it is horrible), but after a few minutes in his crib he fell asleep. Crying children used to bother me. I am pretty good at picking out the fake cries now. I don't have any pity for fake crying, especially when they peer out of one eye to make sure you are listening and watching. 

Before - storage 

After - play area

So what is the rest of the closet going to look like? Jared and I plan to mount shelves about 3-4 feet off the ground and to the ceiling. They are going to wrap around part of the side wall and all of the back wall (where the wire shelf is today - see picture). That will get the toys off the ground and still allow the kids to be able to play under the shelves and have more floor space. We plan to move the door, that we have been storing in the closet, out to the shed. I am thinking about painting part of a wall with chalkboard paint or mounting a car or marble track down part of it. I also plan to make a puppet theatre curtain to place as the doorway or cut the door in half. 

Wire shelf that holds a bunch of unopened toys. These will be replaced with shelves in the wall. 

So that is the update for now. I am really really happy with the table!! I love it. I want to play in there. :) I think Jared did an excellent job on it. I look forward to seeing what he does for the rest of it. 

For all you Pride and Prejudice fans, I keep saying, "shelves in the closet, happy thought indeed." Jared doesn't get it. 

In other news, we went blueberry picking this morning with my sister. I love having her back in town this year!!! I also bought some peaches. Both the peaches and blueberries will be used for VBS next week. 

I came home and made a pot of gumbo (recipe on my blog, but I can't link when I am typing on my phone).  Chicken quarters were on sale for 10 pounds for $6 this week. I couldn't pass that up. I boiled them with celery, onion, garlic, and carrots and made chicken stock (it made about 5 quarts). Then I shredded the chicken and had about 8 cups of meat. I made the filling for chicken enchiladas, with half the chicken, and froze it yesterday and a double batch of rice (cooked in some of the stock). I will pull out the filling for dinner next week during VBS when I am running short on time (I think that recipe is also on my blog, if it is not, I need to add it). 

Then my CSA food was dropped off, thanks Ashley. She didn't want half the watermelon so I cut that up and de-seeded it while Martin ate lunch. Of course my organic CSA wouldn't have seedless watermelons... It is probably my imagination, but I think the seeded watermelons taste better. That is what I tell myself when I opt to buy watermelon with seeds because it is cheaper at the farmers market. Ha ha. 

I still have to make some cowboy cookies and some caramel corn for tomorrow in celebration of my brother coming home!!!  He graduates from coast guard boot camp tomorrow people!!! I am so excited and I am so proud of him. We will just have to get used to the bald head. Yay, Luke! 

Verses for the day:
Jeremiah 31:10-12
Hear the word of The Lord, O nations and declare it to the coastlands far away; say, "he who scatters Israel with GATHER him, and will KEEP him as a shepherd keeps his flock."
For The Lord has RANSOMED Jacob and REDEEMED him from hands too strong for him. 
They shall come and sing aloud on the heights of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the GOODNESS of The Lord! 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


I was reminded today that sleep is a blessing and that God gives us just what we need. Recently, I have started sleeping poorly (about week 26 during pregnancy and no sleep position feels comfortable). I wake up 5 or 6 times a night because I am just uncomfortable. Thank God for when the baby comes. Babies are better out than in. At least once the baby is born, when I have to wake up, I get to hold a sweet little baby and rock him. :) This morning I read both these verses and they were encouraging. The Lord sustain me, even when I am super tired and don't feel like I can continue. 

Psalms 3:5
I lay down and slept; I woke again, for The Lord sustained me. 

And this verse was especially comforting to me when I traveled for work. When I was in Mexico I had trouble sleeping the first night until I found this verse. I read it many times the week that I was there and repeated it to myself as I fell asleep each night. How can I worry when he promises peace and safety? 

Psalms 4:8
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. 

Is there anything better than holding a sleeping baby? They are so snuggly. I wish I had some photos saved on my phone from when he was younger. Whenever i do have to get up in the middle of the night to rock a baby I think, "someday I am really going to miss this, so I better enjoy it now." I am praying this next baby sleeps as well, or better, than Martin. :) But even if he doesn't, God will sustain me. Praise God for that. In my weakness, he is strong. 

Ricotta Calzones

4 cup bread flour (I used half bead flour and half while wheat)
2-1/4 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
2 T olive oil
1-1/2 cups warm water about 110 degrees

Mix dry ingredients to combine. Add olive oil as mixing. Gradually add water and knead until the dough forms a smooth, elastic dough, about ten minutes. 

Let dough rise 1-1/2 to 2 hours until doubled. 

Divide into six pieces. Gently shape into balls and set aside for 15 minutes, but no more than 30. 

Roll out into 9" rounds on a floured surface. Place 1/2 c of filling on one half of dough. Fold dough over and pinch edge. Fold edge of dough up and pinch again. 

Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake 11-13 minutes until golden brown on a pizza stone. Oven should be preheated to 500 degrees and the stone needs 30 minutes to warm up. You can bake 3 at a time. Roll out and fill the othe three while the first batch is baking. 

Serve with quick tomato sauce (recipe below). Jared says these would be better with sausage or pepperoni. Feel free to add other ingredients. 

I estimated these cost about $1 a calzone. 

2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
15 oz whole-milk ricotta
8 oz mozzarella
1-1/2 oz Parmesan (3/4 c.)
1 large egg yolk
1 T freshly chopped oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Cook red pepper and garlic in olive oil 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Mix with all other ingredients. 

Quick tomato sauce:
1 28oz can diced tomatoes, puréed
2 T olive oil
2 garlic cloves minced

Cook garlic in olive oil about 1 minutes. Add tomatoes. Cook until thickened, about 15-20 minutes. 

How to seal your calzone well. :) 

In other news, my brother graduates from boot camp Friday!!!  I am so proud if him. And I am so glad to see him. We are planning on watching the Lego movie with him sometime this weekend.  I also get my stitches out on Friday. 

Today at Target I bought 5 pairs of boys shoes for $5.98 a piece on clearance (originally they were each $19.98). There was a coupon in a text message they sent me for $5 of $25 purchase in shoes and the cartwheel app had 20% off shoes. So in the end I bought 5 pairs of boys shoes for less than $20 (cheaper than one pair at full price), or $3.80 a pair. I couldn't find them that cheap at a yardsale. That is crazy. I bought them in the next 5 sizes for Martin. I think between the two boys, they will be able to wear them out. Thank you Target!! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Coming Soon...

Recipes for:
* Easy Calzones
* Ginger Stir Fry Chicken and Bok Choy (I have finally found a recipe for bok choy that I like)
* Chocolate Cream Pie
* Fluffy Pancakes (to which Jared said, "these should become your staple pancake recipe.") 

I have also made pesto, fresh pasta, spaghetti and meatballs, and a new peach cobbler recipe. But none of them are instant favorites. I will spare you an average recipe. 

In other news: 
The big reveal of the table in the closet is coming soon... I put the last coat of paint on it today. Once it dries I will put all the boxes back where they go. Maybe next week we will start on the shelves. I am super excited. I plan on making the curtains to replace the door after VBS is over. Since Martin likes to dump all his diapers out or all my Tupperware out and sit in the cupboards, I think he will like his little closet playhouse too. 

Today I am off to tackle my bedroom. It has become the receiver of way too much clutter recently. I will keep you updated with that progress too. 

And I also have the fabrics for a baby quilt or two sitting in piles upstairs. I am hoping to get to those soon as well. I also have four diapers to mend and a swimsuit. Both the diapers and swimsuit at halfway finished; I just need to add new elastic. I should do that so I can mark them off my list. 

This was the best stir fried chicken I have ever had!! Paired with green peppers from my parents garden and bok choy from the CSA and some brown rice in was awesome. 

So silky and amazing. 

Dipped in fresh tomato sauce made these even more delicious!! And they were so easy. 

Recipes coming soon. 

Sour Cream Chicken

For my wedding shower, my bridesmaids threw me a food party. It was perfect for me. They had everyone bring one of their favorite dishes and a recipe card of the dish. One of my all time favorite recipes, that I use at least once a month, is sour cream chicken from Trish Robins. 

Since I am pregnant, I cut the garlic down, but it is still incredible!!! Also, Trish just breads the chicken fillets; I cut my fillets into 3 or 4 smaller pieces so they cook faster. Because the fillets are cut up and have more surface area, they need more bread crumbs. I also have cut the butter in half. 

3-4 boneless chicken breasts
2 clove garlic
1 c. Sour cream
2 T lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp Tabasco
1 - 2 cups Italian bread crumbs
1/4 c. Melted butter 

Mix garlic, sour cream, lemon, salt, paprika, and Tabasco.

 Either dip chicken into mixture and place in a 13x9" pan or place the mixture and the chicken in a bowl, stir, and cover. Let this sit for several hours or overnight. 

Pour bread crumbs on a plate. I pour about a cup to start with and then add more to the plate as needed. Coat all sides of the chicken and place in clean 13x9" pan. Pour melted butter over the top. 

Bake 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees. 

It is especially good with wild rice and green beans or mashed potatoes and asparagus.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


You all know I love igrace music!!! There last cd might be my favorite CD of all time. But one of my other favorite CDs is by sovereign grace called, Come Weary Saints. This is a song that just popped up on my shuffle. :) 

There is a rock that’s weathered every storm 
Standing firm through the ages
A shelter for the battered, bruised, and worn 
You’re our help and our Savior

You have always been faithful 
And You will always be good 
You’ll never let me go
I’ll never be alone
You have always been faithful

Every day Your grace has carried me 
Through the joy and the sorrow
You hold me tight through all eternity 
You’re my hope for tomorrow

© 2008 Integrity’s Praise! Music/Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Target App

I don't have a lot of apps. I don't like them. They track me and distract me. However, I do have a few grocery shopping apps, which have saved me about $40 in the last 4 months. One of my favorite (and the easiest to load) is Cartwheel from Target. I love that they have free internet in Target and that you can scan items while you are shopping to see if there is a coupon. 

Today I bought 2 large boxes of Pampers diaper (I almost always buy Target brand diapers and use the 5% off on the app) with two coupons, one printed and one they had text me (oh, sign up for Targets coupon texts too). If you bought two packs of diapers you received a $10 gift card and there was a 5% off on Cartwheel. So altogether I should have paid $50, but I ended up paying $36. But the goodness didn't end there, if I signed up for a baby registry I received $20 in gift cards. So I used that to pay for the diapers, which ended up costing $16 for two large boxes of diapers for the new baby. 

I love you, Target. 

Oh, also the more you use the Cartwheel app, the more coupons you can load on it. It starts at 10 and I am up to 14.  I usually load some that I know I am going to use when I go. Most up&up stuff is on there. Today I saved on dish washing liquid, band aids, tomato sauce for VBS, and cotton balls.  I will take the extra 5% off. :) 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Four Stitches & A Project

I wish I could say I got four stitches building my kids their train/craft table, but I sliced it open cutting up cooked chicken for Martin's lunch before construction even started on the table. This means we sat in the immediate care place for over an hour getting my thumb fixed before work on the table could start. I am so thankful that Jared was home and my sisters could come over, on short notice, and watch Martin. He loves them. 

My awesome husband still made it this far along with the tables progress.  I will try painting it this week while Martin naps. We just have to buy two more plastic bins. My original plans called for drawers, but plastic bins are cheaper and easier, plus they have a lid. The top shelf will be art supplies, the bottom shelf will hold train pieces, and the bigger side bin will hold assorted toys. 

I plan to paint part of a wall with chalkboard paint. Jared is also going to build shelves on the wall up high so we can store various other toys. 



More pictures once the painting and shelves are finished. I am pretty excited!!! 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Wardrobe Update

I had been meaning to make curtains for the front of the wardrobe for five years.  I finally did. I didn't have quite enough linen fabric to cover both sides, so I added the red strip to the top. I wish I could say I planned to have it there because I think it adds to it. I am contemplating screen printing an ampersand on the fabric. 



Martin has a cold, but he sweetly sat in his chair while I sewed this morning. He is a pretty good baby. We have also been reading books and throwing a ball back and forth while listening to BBC news. He loves books and I am so glad. It has been a pretty relaxing morning. 

Yesterday, we went blueberry picking and bought a half bushel of peaches. I will let you know what we do with them. I tried a new cobbler recipe last night, but didn't like it. The rest of the peaches are still not ripe. I am thinking I will make jam once they start to soften. 

Do you have any weekend plans? I am hoping to make shelves for Martin's closet and a play table for his toy closet. If I get one of those finished I will be super happy. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Guess the theme...

I drew these while Martin took a nap. My snack room is the research and development lab. I am decorating the walls with hand sketches, posters of different planets with fun facts on them, and real NASA posters (thanks, Michelle). I have model satellites hanging from the ceiling and old computer parts sitting around on tables.  I am also wearing a lab coat. Ha ha. More pictures to come. 

I am trying to think of some hands on experiments or things the kids can touch that I can have sitting around on tables as well. They only have ten minutes for snack, so it can't be that intense. Maybe some corn starch slime or some moon sand. I was planning on filling jars with colored water and placing them in the window sill. 

Here is my menu for snacks this year (each day has its own theme):
1. Moon Monday
Moon rocks (rice crispie treats in a sphere shape)
Satellites (cheese cubes and pretzel sticks)

2. Jupiter - the red spot planet
Jam thumb print cookies
Rocket cheese crackers & planet pretzels
Yogurt and fruit (spots)

3. Saturn - rings
Pizza bagels
Fruit rings

4. Sun and stars
Star cookies
Satellites again

5. Neptune - blue planet
Something blue and cold (probably ice pops)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Week 24

We have had a busy day today and it is just lunchtime. We went to the OB this morning. Everything looks great. Thank God for two healthy pregnancies so far. With both baby #2 and Martin they have trouble finding the heartbeat, which is not worrying because I can feel the baby bouncing around in there. My kids just don't like to sit in one place for too long. The nurse chases him around my stomach and he kicks the microphone. It makes me laugh, which sounds strange through the microphone. The doctor had to hold down one side of my stomach today to force the baby to sit on the other side. Silly baby. 

I have gained 20 pounds, which puts me nearly where I want to be. With Martin I had gained 24 pounds by the same time.  So I am already doing better. My goal is to gain only 35 pounds this time (I gained 40 last time). But really I would be happy with anything under 40. As Jared keeps reminding me, "nine months on, nine months off". He is right; I shouldn't expect to lose it faster than I gained it. 

I have no cravings. I love savory foods, but that is how I usually eat. I would much rather order a crab dip appetizer, than a dessert. I have read a couple books, but I forgot to write them down.  I should make a list on my blog of the books I read each year. Maybe I will make a page for that. 

Martin and I stopped by Arby's on the way home to steal some internet and download a new book on my kindle. Then we came home and ate lunch at 10:30 (when you eat breakfast at 6 or 6:30, you get hungrier earlier). 

I made tacos and spaghetti & meatballs for dinners. I am going to make homemade pasta in a little while. I also have a pan of black bean brownies in the oven. I keep reading about them online and curiosity (and a craving for chocolate) finally overcame my disgust of mixing chocolate and beans. All the recipes are from, surprise surprise, America's Test Kitchen except the brownies. I love their taco recipe; I make it all the time. It is so easy and so much better than the little envelope of seasonings. This is the first time I have tried their meatballs and spaghetti sauce. I will have to let you know later how they turn out. 

Another reason summer is okay, fresh herbs for foods from my yard. This is basil and my favorite chef knife that Jared bought me for Christmas. I love it!!! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


It is a good thing I have switched to cleaning with vinagar because my baby is super sneaky and somehow finds a way to reach the cleaning supplies and spray them all over himself and his room. 

I left him reading a book on the couch, in the living room, to go take some things to the washing machine. I had been cleaning his baseboards and walls in his room. Even though the spray bottle was on his changing table, he somehow managed to get it and drench his shirt and pants with it. Knowing him, he probably drank a few sprays too. 

Should I get him his own spray bottle to play with in the bathtub? Or do you think this would just confuse him and he would think it was okay to play with all spray bottles? I don't think he would know the difference. 

Ps. That is his new favorite book. I reminded my parents that it was one of my favorite books and they bought him a copy for my birthday. :) I love it just as much as when I was a kid. 

I love summer meals.

But I don't like the summer heat.  The fresh food makes summer bearable, but it is still my least favorite season.  For dinner, last night, we had burgers, fresh green beans and new potatoes, fresh corn, and cantaloupe.  So delicious. 

I also made Martin three beanbags yesterday. He went around the house happily throwing them down on the floor last night while I cooked dinner. 

We went grocery shopping and then to VBS decorating from 10-12:30. During his nap I cleaned the house and started dinner. Unfortunately, the fire department stopped by right after I put him down for a nap and wanted to test my smoke detectors. I had to tell them no. I felt more sorry for Martin because I know he would have loved to see the fire engine parked outside. Oh well, there will be other fire engines. Maybe he will even get to ride on one.

Martin loves all cars and trucks right now. He chants, "ca ca ca ca" whenever he see anything with four wheels.  He has also been making this funny hissing noise, when playing with his fire truck, and I didn't know what it was until there was a semi truck in front of us at the light and I heard the air brakes go off and then from my back seat I heard Martin copy it. So funny. Having a baby is one of the most entertaining things.  I love having him around!! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Five Years!!

I love you, Jared! Thanks for marrying me. It has been wonderful. 

Thank you also to everyone who helped make the day so special. I was blown away with how beautiful and perfect the day was. Everything was perfect and I had so much fun celebrating with so many of my favorite people.  I am so glad so many people came out to celebrate in my parents backyard with us. We felt so loved. 

I love being a family with you. 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Kindle Cover

Anna and Andrew gave me a Kindle for my birthday. They are always super generous and the most wonderful host and hostess!!! They take amazing pictures and adore Martin. I would say they are my favorite siblings, but I have four other amazing siblings (when you count their spouses) and they are each perfectly wonderful in their own way. I love them all. 

 I studied e-ink technology and flexible electronics in graduate school and I find e-readers fascinating. Besides the science part of loving the Kindle, I love being able to borrow books from the library without even going (although, my library card is did that happen?). I need to fix that before this new baby arrives.  

I am looking forward to reading a bunch of books while I nurse this little boy. Martin was distracted by the noise of pages turning, but I won't have that issue with the Kindle. :) 

I wasn't sure if I would like reading off a Kindle because I love holding and smelling a real book (which is why I have never bought one). However, I have read two books now on the Kindle and I do like it. I can't say it is better than a book. I love leafing through the pages of a favorite book and clicking in the screen doesn't have the same feel. Also, I don't like how distracting the features are. I don't want to skip to other parts of the book with the same character or look up a word. But I do like how convenient it is. And the library borrowing is a definite plus. Welcome to my life, little Kindle. 

I followed a few tutorials online to make this and fudged a bit on the size. I choose a bunch of my favorite fabrics that I have been saving. 

Oh, and I made homemade English muffins. They are so easy and delicious. 

I will stock my freezer with these before the baby arrives. I love them toasted with homemade jam or butter and honey. So delicious. I forget if I have posted the recipe, if I have not, I will post it later. They are super easy and you cook them in the stove. 

Monday, July 07, 2014

What's For Dinner

Pesto and pasta

Rustic Dinner Rolls (from ATK) - soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Incredible. Recipe to follow. 

And salads (thanks to all the fresh produce). I don't like raw vegetables, thankfully, Jared does. 

Dessert will be fruit again, cantaloupe, watermelon, peaches, and blueberries. 

Friday, July 04, 2014

Happy Independence Day!!

Jared and I made a runner for the holiday.  :) 

Thursday, July 03, 2014


This is a recipe that is based off a recipe that is based off an America's Test Kitchen recipe. I changed the quantities of a few things and the cooking method. 

3-1/2-5lb. Pork shoulder, butt, or picnic
1 onion, peeled and halved
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
2 T lime or lemon juice
2 T red wine vinagar
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
1 orange

Note: The original recipe calls for you to cut up the pork into two inch chunks and cook it in the spices and two cups of water, in the over in for two hours until it is tender. Then you pick it apart, reduce the liquid, and broil the meat until it is a bit crispy. I didn't want to cut up my pork or use the oven. 

Place pork in crockpot. Place onions in crockpot and squeeze oranges into a bowl, place orange skins on top of pork. Online I read the oranges could get bitter if cooked too long, so I removed the skins half way through. In bowl with orange juice mix the rest of the ingredients. Pour over the pork. 

Cook 4-6 hours. Shread pork.  Strain remaining juices and place in saucepan. Reduce juice on stove until a glaze like consistency. Coat pork with this glaze. 

I like mine with pico, black beans, and cheese. Jared adds sour cream. The corn tortillas are super easy. They are just corn masa and water. I have a tortilla press. :) I love it. 

What we have been eating.

America's Test Kitchen Pork Carnitas with fresh pico de gallo and homemade corn tortillas. These are amazing!! Amazing!!  I love them. I will post the recipe soon. So easy. 

Also atk, double chocolate chewy cookies. I think I put too much coffee in these and they taste like mocha cookies instead, but still delicious. Maybe I should measure more carefully when I bake... 

Pesto (pictures later once we eat it). I had basil in my csa bag and I needed to use it up before it went bad. 

Zucchini bread (also, atk). It isn't cut yet. It is for breakfast this weekend. 

Banana Pancakes (recipe on blog)

Tomorrow I am making a fruit crisp and maybe a cobbler too. We will see how ambitious I am. And I am planning in making homemade pasta on Saturday to go with the pesto. 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Another Birthday Present

1028 pages of goodness!! I am pretty excited about this. This is the biggest cookbook I have ever seen. 

I would really like to try their fresh pasta recipe and glazed carrots this week. Also, I am eying some desserts for this weekend. I will let you know what I decide. 

Thanks Mom and Dad!!