Friday, January 30, 2015


I really like my kids playroom under the stairs, but I saw this on Apartment Therapy today and I love it!! If I had a second staircase, I would probably do this. :) 

Today we visited an old co-worker for lunch and then friends at the credit union. Since we were near the post office, we went through the drive-thru and bought new stamps. This inspired Warren and I to work on letters, notes, and thank you letters while Martin napped.

Hope you are staying warm this windy January day. I will be curled up under a blanket reading a book or playing cars and trains with my boys. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Salad Dressing

He loves his little monkey suit from his Aunt Hope. :) It has been so useful on these cold days. 

I don't like most salads. I don't really like lettuce. I hate kale. I don't like tomatoes plain (give them to me in salsa any day). I don't like carrots or cucumbers or radishes or any of those salad vegetables raw. I also don't like salad dressings. I don't get them; they are greasy and oily and taste processed. 

However, there is one salad that I do love, spinach salad with nuts, gorganzola, and fruit. I discovered this salad thanks to the GrandiHowards, whom I lived with during college. Strawberries and mandarin oranges are my favorite fruit combination, but pears, cranberries, and apples are also good. I buy spinach from SAMs because it is cheapest and it forces me to eat more salads. 

Mostly, I eat it plain, but sometimes I add a bit of this dressing. It is a recipe from my best friend from college, Michelle's roommate. She added candied pecans to her salad...amazing. Can it be called a salad still with fruit and candied nuts? :)

Salad Dressing for Sweet Salads
1/2 c. Canola oil
1/2 c. Honey
1/2 c. Soy sauce
1/4 c. Red wine vinagar
1/4 c. Sesame oil

1. Mix. Pour on salad. 
This keeps for months in the frig. 

Note: I used vegetable oil and olive oil the first time I made this because I had neither canola or sesame. 

Note 2: I have recently discovered, thanks to Dasha, that I like spinach salads with red onions and sweet peppers. Sometimes I add pecans and almonds. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Random Monday

1. It is supposed to maybe snow tonight. Unfortunately, Mondays or Tuesdays are grocery day. I decided to brave the busy store today instead of going out in snow tomorrow. Way too many people were out shopping for water and bread. 

2. I am trying to read three or four books a month this year. I am almost finished my fourth this month. I have started a list on a separate page of the blog. I will publish it later. I wanted to read Shepherding a Child's Heart, but my parents couldn't find their copy. So, they brought me a bunch of other child-rearing books. I placed the other three books I was in the middle of in top of the picture. I am also reading the Great Divorce by CS Lewis again. 

Does anyone own the rest of the CS Lewis space trilogy? My parents only own the first one and I want to finish it. I also still want  Shepherding a Child's Heart if anyone wants to lend me that too. :)

Also, I will take other suggestions of books to read for the year. I like non-fiction. 

3. Today we are making or have made:
Calzones (three batches)
White bean chili
Tomato Sauce

4. But after all that cooking, we went to CFA for lunch to use up our calendar cards for January. Thanks mom and dad for treating us to lunches and dinners throughout the year. We love our CFA calendar. 

5. Speaking calendars... I bought this amazing calendar off etsy. Each month is has a hymn listed on it. I love it. I will have to post a picture of how pretty it looks in my kitchen. I think that was my first etsy purchase... I am a little behind the times. The seller is little things studio. 

I have had the igrace version of Abide With Me stuck in my head all week. That is not a bad thing. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Free Stuff

If you don't want to read product reviews, skip this post. :)

I signed up to test a few products and was sent free coupons to buy some organic lunchy foods for my kids (and husband). Unfortunately, my little town doesn't carry two of the products, but I was able to find three of them. 

1. Rudi's multigrain bread
2. Annie's cookies
3. Honest Kids

So let's start with the bread... I make my own bread, so honestly anything else is not going to be as good. Sorry, store bought bread. Also, anything that costs $4-$5 a loaf is also not going to be high on my list of favorite products. Don't get me wrong, this bread is delicious. If you don't have time to make your own bread and have the extra money, go for it. If it were ever half off I might consider buying it. We made great grilled cheeses on this bread. 

Moving on to the cookies... My son loves anything that is sugary because he rarely gets these things. I keep them for special trips to the doctor office or play dates. He and his friends love these. The cheese crackers are also great. I almost bought the individually sealed packages because they would be more convient for lunches, but they were more expensive and less product. I will pack my own in reusable bags. :) I will pay the money to buy these and the cheese crackers again as treats for special days. 

Lastly, I love the Honest Kids drinks. I saved the best for last. Have you read the ingredients on the side?!? It is all juice and two other things. I love that. No dyes. No sugars. Perfect.  I will also consider buying these as special treats for my kids. Honestly, ha ha, we drink water most of the time, but if I were to get a coupon for these, I would work them into fun outings and lunches. 

Thanks for reading. I will be back Monday with a regular post. 

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. But the opinions are all my own. :)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Pea Coat

My pea coat, which my dad and I bought at least 8 or 9 years ago, while shopping at the outlets, a 2 or 3 time a year fun outing, is finally showing a bunch of stains. So I am attempting to dye it purple.  It is drying now. It turned out all different shades of purple since it didn't have enough room in the pot to absorb the dye evenly.  I guess I will see what it looks like in the morning. If it turns out poorly, I can always dye it black in the washer. 

One thing is for sure, my hands are a nice purple color. 

Before - I am sorry to see this light blue go, it has been a good friend, but the stains were getting out of hand. I thought about having it dry cleaned, but I figured 3 and 4 year old stains don't come out that easily. I should have had it dry cleaned every year. 

P.s. I am so thankful for my Dad. I don't think he had a lot of fun shopping, but it was always great to spend time with him. We would grab lunch at Grottos pizza and go to all our favorite outlet stores. I will always remember those trips fondly. They were wonderful. I hope I can make such sweet memories with my children. :)  I love my dad. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Psalm 75:1
We thank you, O God! We give thanks because you are near. People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds. 

Another mother at church told me that I looked skinny on Sunday. She asked if I had lost weight. I had had a rough week and that made my day. It also reminded me how easy it is to encourage people. It is equally easy to tear them down with our words.

I encourage you to encourage someone else today. You never know when they might especially need to hear an encouraging word. We all love compliments and need to hear we are doing a good job (being a mother, being a wife, serving in the church, etc.). Be grateful. Thank some one for something. Write an encouraging note. Say something sweet. God will bless it. What an example to the world of the members of the church loving each other. 

1 Thes. 3:11-18
"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. 

Be at peace among yourselves. 

And we urge you, brothers, 
admonish the idle, 
encourage the fainthearted, 
help the weak, 
be patient with them all. 

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Wow. Encourage. Respect. Esteem. Help. Be patient with. Seek to do good. Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks. Often those are not my first reaction to people or situations at church (or anywhere...but especially at church). But I want them to be. Will you pray with me for patience and love for the people around you? 

As a note, I actually haven't lost much of my Warren baby weight. Which made the compliment even sweeter to my ears. Being a mom is beautiful. A mom with her child or children is one of the most beautiful scenes. A shirt covered with drool, snot, or spit up is a badge of honor. Wear it proudly. I do miss dressing up in work clothes some days, but those thoughts are few. They come after I have been snotted and spit on several times in a row. :) But being my kids mom is the best job in the world.  
And honestly, for the first few months the baby is born, I don't worry about losing weight. My body needs time to heal. It took 9 months to lose all the weight I gained with Martin. That is my goal again. Nine months on, nine months off. 16 pounds to go, in six months, averages out to about 3 pounds a month. That seems doable. :) 

Here is a quote from an article on desiring God, that I really appreciate:
"Live the gospel in the things that no one sees. Sacrifice for your children in places that only they will know about. Put their value ahead of yours. Grow them up in the clean air of gospel living. Your testimony to the gospel in the little details of your life is more valuable to them than you can imagine. If you tell them the gospel, but live to yourself, they will never believe it. Give your life for theirs every day, joyfully. Lay down pettiness. Lay down fussiness. Lay down resentment about the dishes, about the laundry, about how no one knows how hard you work.

Stop clinging to yourself and cling to the cross. There is more joy and more life and more laughter on the other side of death than you can possibly carry alone."

They also have a book called Mom Enough that I want to read. Has another read this yet? It came out late last year. I keep forgetting to download it. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

I Changed the Locks

Ask me how many times I have fixed or replaced things around our house. I will tell you that I can count on one hand the times.  Now for being an engineer and someone go loves to take things apart and solve puzzles, I think this is a shame. 

So when our door locks stopped working  on Friday and Jared didn't have time to replace them because he had way too many other things on his plate this weekend, I replaced them. 

Honestly, because I haven't done a lot of fiddling with things recently, I was a bit scared that I might mess something up at first. It took me a while to start, but somehow the second door took longer than the first door... Maybe because I kept leaving to go check on dinner and lost my place. 

Anyhow, I am glad I was able to replace them and that they work now. I am also inspired to tinker with my windshield wipers that stopped working during yesterday's giant rainstorm. 

I'll keep you posted. Have you fixed, repaired, replaced, or saved anything recently? What was the hardest part? 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Boppy Cover

I realized while organizing my sewing links for this year that I had never posted pictures of the boppy cover I made Warren. 

Cindy's shop was having a sale on stripes and dots. I thought both of these would be visually stimulating to a small baby. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Projects Page

I updated the sewing page by turning it into a projects page. I posted links to the kitchen renovations and details of the kid's play closet. 

I also posted a list of sewing projects that I did in 2014. I would eventually like to add thumbnail pictures. But first, when I have time I will go back through and add the other 8 years. It is crazy that I have been blogging for almost ten years. I might have to do something to celebrate.  I started blogging on June 1, 2005. 

Happy Friday. We have company coming so I need to go tidy up the guest/sewing/tv room. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Look at these awesome bibs Cindy made me!! Thank you so much! 
The top one is trains because Martin loves the train on the last bib she made him. The bottom left is adorable monsters and the right one has super cute airplane and cars. So cute. We love them all. 

And look, she put polka dots on the backs because she knew I love them. :) Both boys will get years of use out of them and their clothes will stay much cleaner. Hooray for fewer loads of laundry. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Use It Up

Part of the decluttering phase is consolidating all the bottles of lotions and hair gels that I have. I have almost used up all the sample sized bottles that I collected while traveling or that came as a bonus in a bigger pack. It is amazing how many little bottles you can collect. Next up is the 5 or 6 different kinds of baby lotion I found in their closet today. I plan to mix as many as I can together. They are cute, but take up too much room. 

I also threw away a ton of store hangers today. I have nice hangers, why use the cheap plastic ones that come free? Why did I have so many? Ugh. How do things pile up so much? Does this happen to you too? I am trying to follow the one touch rule this year. If I pick it up, I immediately have to put it back where it belongs. Otherwise, I find that things just travel around from spot to spot. Also, I am discovering that everything needs a place or I should get rid of it. :) 

I went through the boys' clothes and organized the 4, 5, 6, and 7 sized clothes into their own bins. They were all together, but after some hand-me-downs from one of Jared's co-workers, I decided they should have their own bins. They are all neatly marked and in the closet or under the bed. 

I am now working towards a cleaner washing machine. It is slowly getting there. Maybe I will have pictures next week. 

I am also trying to use up stuff around the house before it goes bad. Last night I made ricotta calzones to use up some ricotta that was open and needed to be used. Tonight we are having acorn squash and applesauce with dinner. The acorn squash came in November in my CSA bin. The applesauce is made from the last six apples from 2 bushels that my sister brought me in October. I also threw in two pears that had bad spots on them. 

Thank you, Sarah for all the delicious apples!! 

I used a lot of these apples for applesauce, which is in my freezer. I used up about ten last week making a Dutch apple pie for Jared.  He jokingly asked if we were having apple pie for dessert an so I threw one together (from America's test kitchen, of course). It was a crustless apple pie with a crumb topping. And it was amazing. So I will post the recipe later. 

Any tips to keeping the clutter down? 

Friday, January 09, 2015

Dominoes Fun

I bought Martin a set of dominoes for $1 at a thrift store today. I had been thinking that he would really enjoy some and boy, does he.  He loves to sort them by color, build with them, knock them over, and put them back in their tin. We had hours of fun with them today!! 

I keep them with the special toys that only come out when I can watch him (so we don't lose pieces or break things). I look forward to finding more and more ways to use these for learning. :) 

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Sweet Boys

Martin woke up from his nap and just wanted to be held. Warren had just fallen asleep. Normally Martin only sits in my lap for a few minutes, but we sat like this for over half an hour yesterday until Jared came home. 

This is the best way to stay warm on these cold days!! :) I love them. 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Favorite Kitchen Items

I have decided to highlight a few of my favorite items in the kitchen. I love my kitchen. It is small (but not as small since we removed the wall), but cozy. The smallness makes me evaluate kitchen items more.  I constantly ask myself, "do I need this? Do I use it often? Is there something else in my kitchen that does the same job? Would I miss this if I got rid of it?"

I am not as ruthless in other rooms in my house, but I am trying to teach myself to only keep what I use often. 

This week's item is my pastry cutter. I don't like some of the ones the sell in the stores now. The pieces of wire are thicker and not as flexible. This is the only type that works for me. 

Yes, I could us two knives to do the same job, but they take twice as long to cut in butter. This old pastry cutter Cindy found at an antique store for me. I have seen them in antique stores for around $5. It hangs on the wall under my cupboard, taking up essentially no room. 

I use this for pie crusts, biscuits, dumplings, and pastries. It is simple to clean and easy to use. I love it. 

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Spatchcocked, Pan Roasted Chicken

I made this recipe for dinner tonight and I highly recommend it. It might be another meal I start to take people.

I was going to post instructions, but thefrugalgirl does such a great job. Go visit her blog and read the recipe, complete with more pictures than I ever post. 

The great thing about this recipe is that it only takes 45 minutes to cook. You could easily throw the chicken and seasonings together and let it brine overnight. I let mine brine for the minimum of 4 hours and it was still tasty. It is amazing that simply salt, pepper, and paprika give you such a delicious flavor. 

One last note, I rubbed the seasonings under the skin and on top of it. 

We eat this with green beans, salad, and rice. I toast almonds and garlic and add them to green beans dry roasted in a pan. 

Monday, January 05, 2015

Chicken Pot Pie

Here is a random picture because all posts are better with pictures. :)
Martin likes to share his toys with Warren. He keeps asking him to play with him. It makes my heart happy. I love being their mom. 

On to the main post now. This is my go-to meal to take people. I have been trying to come up with some other meals recently (tacos, enchiladas, calzones) because I know people receive a lot of casseroles. But honesty, can you go wrong with a chicken pot pie? It is the perfect comfort food. I usually take a loaf of bread and a dessert too. 

Feel free to play with this recipe...a lot. I add whatever veggies I have in the house. Jared doesn't like peas, so I often leave those out and add green beans. I have started adding sweet potatoes sometimes, which changes the flavor of the sauce. I really like it; Jared likes the original sauce better. Sometimes we eat this over rice, when I am feeling lazy or don't want to eat all the calories of the crust. Sometimes I use a Store bought pie crust. Often I make the chicken stock when I cook my chicken, but I keep cartons of store bought chicken stock on hand too. It is all good. :) 

I also have a recipe for quick chicken pot pie that I will post later this month. It is so easy (sour cream, chicken soup, canned veggies...). I don't like it quite as much, but Jared loves them both. :) 

Chicken Pot Pie

1/3 c. Butter
2/3 c. Flour
1 onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2-3 c. Chicken broth
1 c. Milk
2-3 c. chicken (chopped or shredded, white or dark or a mixture) 
3-6 cups cooked assorted vegetables (peas, carrots, potatoes, green beans, broccoli, sweet potatoes, etc. I use whatever I have laying around).  

Optional (sometimes I eat the filling over rice or I top the Filling with biscuits or you can go the traditional route with a crust):
2 crusts (use a store bought pie crust, use your favorite pie crust recipe, or see end for recipe) - I have done all the methods listed above

1. Melt butter in a pan. Add onions. Cook until softened. Add flour, salt, pepper. Cook 1-3 minutes so flour loses its floury taste.

2. Slowly whisk in broth and milk. Bring to a boil. Cook 3-5 minutes until thickened. Turn down heat or turn off heat. 

3. Stir in chicken and veggies. Can leave over a low heat while you assemble the pie crust. 

4. Dump into a 13"x9" pan lined with a pie crust (or not if you want to eat it over rice or top it with biscuits). Top with pie crust, if using. 

5. Bake at 425 degrees for 30-35 minutes until crust is golden brown. 

Pastry for Chicken Pot Pie
(This recipe makes enough for the bottom and top crust)

3 c. Flour (I use a mixture of whole wheat and regular flour and sometime I substitute some wheat germ or flax seeds)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 c. Shortening
3/4 c.  Flour

1.  Mix dry ingredients. 
2.  Cut in shortening. 
3. Add milk. Don't overmix. 
4. Divide in half. Roll out one part (make this part slightly bigger because you have to cover the bottom and edges of the pan) for the top and sides and one for the top. 

Trash, Donate, Sell

Jared and I are going through a declutter phase. I was already going to try to throw away, donate, or sell 10 things each day for the month of January, but this weekend Jared jumped in and got rid of three trash bags full of junk and a huge stack of old school books. We also finally have the dresser cleaned off (thanks to the new filing cabinet we bought back this summer). And I organized and put away all my maternity clothes. Once we take the 4 bags of clothes, in the corner of our bedroom, to Salvation Army, our room will be so clean. 

I still have to go through the baby clothes and my clothes and get rid of about 25-35% of them. I have so much that I don't wear now that I don't work full time. I also didn't use half the newborn clothes this time around. So, I need to pare them down. 

Are you working on any projects right now? We put our Christmas tree away this weekend. It always makes me a bit sad. How long do you keeps yours up? 

Saturday, January 03, 2015


Martin has a new addition to his play closet. I have been meaning to hang this up in there since VBS (in August). 

Thanks, Aunt Michelle for bringing us this great poster!!! I think it is so neat. Now to collect other interesting items to hang on the walls.  

Should I paint morse code on the walls like Frank Gilbreth (dad in cheaper by the dozen) did in their bathroom so the kids would absorb it without thinking? He would also leave them notes in morse code and the first one to decipher them would get directions to go and find a prize. His wife and he were some of the first people to study how to do things more efficiently. I would love to own Cheaper by the Dozen or any of the other books about their life. I find it fascinating. 

Morse code isn't as useful as it used to be. I wonder if there is something else I could post on the walls that the boys would absorb while playing. Any ideas? 

Friday, January 02, 2015

Diaper Fix

I started replacing the elastic in my cloth diapers yesterday. There are two pieces on the legs and one in the back. The top diaper is old. Look how much tighter the legs and back are on the yellow diaper. 

It cost me about $2 total for all the elastic for the diapers. If I estimate my time at an average engineering pay, it costs me about $6 a diaper to replace the elastic, which is cheaper than buying new ones. :) 

I cut the new elastic between 4" and 4-1/2". As you can see the old elastics are about 6" or 7". 

There are plenty of tutorials online so I won't explain how I did it.  I think I will be replacing the elastic about every two years of wear. The Velcro seems great on all my diapers. I don't think I will have to replace that until 6 or 8 years of wear. 

Ps. I still love my cloth diapers. More on that later. 

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Bible Reading Plans

I saw this on the Gospel Coalition Blog a week ago and thought it was useful. 

It is a summary of a bunch of Bible reading plans for the year. 

I just finished the Robert Murray M'Cheyne reading plan for last year. It was a lot of reading. Four chapters a day was rough some days, especially when you miss a day and have to read eight. I am glad I made it through, but I didn't feel like I could digest what I was reading because I was reading so much. This year I am going to try the 5x5x5 plan. 

Last year I focused on just getting in the routine of reading my Bible EVERY day. I missed a few, but overall it was good. This year I want to focus more on studying and meditating on passages. I don't plan on following it exactly 5 days on, 2 days off. 

As a mom I find that some days both boys get up super early (which is normally when I read my Bible with a nice cup of tea) and we run around all day doing thigs and it isn't until right before bed that I realize, I never found time to catch up and read my Bible. I am going to use the empty days for those times. So it might be 3 days on, 1 day off, 8 days on, 2 days off, 2 days on...etc. We will see how it works. 

What plan are you doing this year?