Thursday, April 10, 2014

kitchen tips

I'm snickering at myself because I'm not known for being the "tipsy kind of house wife" who comes up with nice efficient shortcuts to streamline my daily work.  I'm more the kind of person that looks at what I have to do on any given day and then I proceed to find the most difficult and complicated way to accomplish my tasks.

It's craziness.

More often than I wish to admit, my husband will walk into the kitchen and after a glance or two at what I'm doing he will offer some smart little tip to help ease my workload.

So. Having kitchen tips to offer today gives me a small sense of smugness. If you've already incorporated these tips long ago in your kitchen, laugh if you must, but only to yourself of course.

Here we go. I have a whop'in 2 tips to share with you today.

 I used to HATE any recipe that called for you to 'cut the butter into the dry ingredients'. By crumb, it never worked right for me. Then one day I came across this tip in a specialty bread recipe book. My life has been changed. I now LOVE to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.

Ready for kitchen tip #1 ???


Here it is:

1. Keep a stick of butter in your freezer. Frozen butter will grate beautifully. Simply stir your frozen grated butter into the dry ingredients and............TADA.........perfect biscuit dough...pleased cook.....happy family!!!!!

  Just in case you haven't noticed, cupcakes are somewhat of a rage right now. I used to HATE making cupcakes because I would always get the batter all over my muffin tins and to add to the injury, my cupcakes would turn out ALL. DIFFERENT. SIZES. Of course, I just pretended that I was trying to make custom sizes for different sized appetites. Honestly though, I was frustrated because even though I don't enjoy tarrying long over food preparation, I still really want the outcome to be pleasing to my eye.

This moves me on to kitchen tip #2 of the day:

A cookie scoop (or ice cream scoop) works perfectly to minimize the mess and produce symmetrical cupcakes. And, I must add, it's easy and quick. I see more cupcakes and muffins in my future.
Now. Since short cuts and helpful little tips are not my strength, I'd love to hear a few of your kitchen tips!!! What have learned along the way that makes your life in the kitchen more enjoyable and easier?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

because life is always worth celebrating

The shower wasn't for me or for my latest addition.

 Rosanne didn't plan it for herself either.

The shower was planned for the baby of a pregnant teenage sister of a friend who Rosanne learned to know through our church's kid's ministry. (if you got lost in that line, don't worry, I lost myself too!) 

 Before I go any further here, you must understand something about my friend Rosanne.

Rosanne with my son Christopher (Easter 2013)

She has a heart that is 4 times the size of her head and 10 times the size of her paycheck.

When I received her phone call that wintry Saturday morning, it was no surprise to hear her excitement over wanting to bless another person.

"Would you be interested in hosting the shower at your house?"

Why, of course, YES! I would love to.

Yes, because I love brainstorming and planning with Rosanne.

Yes because I LOVE to host parties at my house.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Because I care for and support life.

Thus began the planning and conspiring of a baby shower for an unwed mother that neither of us really knew very well.

We had fun pinning our ideas on a shared board on pinterest

Rosanne made a special trip from Baltimore to Meadville just for this event.

There was so much thoughtfulness invested in each and every detail of the evening.

Rosanne could have skipped the decorating all together.
     The mom didn't have expectations.

She could have served chips and soda.
      The mom wouldn't have been shocked.
She could have gone to the Dollar Store and bought a few cheap baby gifts.
       That's probably what the mommy-to-be-expected.


That's not what happened.

This mom and her baby were celebrated well and with much joy.

The living room was transformed into a classy chic baby room with a cute rag banner and other special touches.  Clothes pins were embellished with washi tape. Intricate feminine touches  here and there. Special handwritten notes. Carefully packaged gifts.  Beautiful hand crafted headbands, crotchet hats, cute hand sewn blankets and burp cloths, a CD with Christian lullaby music and more.

A delicious snack that included a beautiful variety of fresh fruit was prepared and attractively served.

A prayer of blessing was prayed over the mommy and baby.

Words of encouragement and confidence were spoken to the young mother.

I felt Jesus' presence throughout the evening and I'm pretty sure he was smiling as he looked down from heaven and saw the humble little modge podge of women who banded together that night with one common purpose and that was to celebrate the life of a new baby.

A baby that was conceived in unfortunate circumstances... A baby that will likely face a difficult life.... a baby created and known and loved by her Heavenly Father.

A baby celebrated because a life is always worth celebrating.

*full credit goes to Rosanne and her sisters for pulling this shower together. I was the privileged one who was invited to participate.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Glorious Hope and a burst of color

 If you've never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom*, maybe your soul has never been in bloom. -Terri Guillemets

 I would play with my toes too, if:
-they were so accessible
-I had nothing better to do
-I owned such happy colorful socks

*even if the blooming happens indoors

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Winter that refused to end

Apparently Old Man Winter totally missed the memo about March. Maybe he forgot that there are only 28 days in February. Being a forgetful person myself, I can extend some grace here, but good grief.....

It was -7 degrees F. when I jumped, uh....I mean, slowly oozed out of bed this morning.....
The van door was frozen shut and the engine whined when I turned the key at 9:40 am.

(after writing those 2 lines I'm shocked that the Farm & Ranch Magazine isn't hot on my trail)

So after that little buhumbug blurb, I must confess that I am a lover of winter. However, even I do eventually become desperate for some sunshine for myself and outdoor play space for my kids.

As the winter drags on, I'm trying hard to focus on the things I love about this season to keep myself from going totally insane.

I love the longer evenings, hot drinks, good company, warm blankets, flannel sheets, read aloud time with the family, warm sweaters, cute hats, time for extra projects, my kid's lego creations, a world transformed by snow....

I love that winter time brings with it a slower pace of life for our family. I love that we have been able to spend more time at home these last 2 months than what we have for years.

The new fireplace insert has brought additional warmth and charm to our living room.

Truly though, sometimes I'm totally up to my ears with 5 kids with boundless energy all contained within these walls. Sometimes we resort to things like...styling mom's hair.

I ended up with one doozy of a hair do. I'm not sure if this shot is from the front or the back of my head, although I would guess it's from the back because of the location of the fireplace and the bottom half of my husband.

And since the winter insists on raging on, I shall go make myself another toasty hot drink.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

winter boredom buster

 I usually like to cook.

This winter the idea of cooking doth greatly vex my soul.

First off, I don't know what to make.

Second, my pantry is not very well stocked, at least not with anything very interesting. 

Third, it's too cold to go grocery shopping

Fourth, I'm very lazy.

Fifth, I like to have good food to eat this time of the year.

I think my creative energy for food prep bought a one way ticket to Timbucktu.

I have had more conversations that I can count with other lady friends {during this long winter} who are also feeling burned out  or bummed out or something like that in the food department.

So. Since I like brainstorming better than working........

I got this crazy idea to do a casserole exchange in an attempt to combat my own lack of enthusiasm. Fortunate for me, I found a few comrades who jumped on the bandwagon with me.

This is what we ended up with and doesn't matter what angle I look at it, I like this stack of casseroles.

these chicas totally inspire me!!!

We each made 4 dishes of the same casserole and we went home each carrying 4 DIFFERENT casseroles. I was so excited  that I used my one casserole that very evening. And boy, was it ever tasty!!! Just knowing that I didn't prepare it myself made the taste factor soar off the charts.

I wouldn't really want to eat freezer meals all winter long, but this turned out to be a fun way to give all of us some variety in our menus in the coming week(s) with minimal effort.

I was tempted when planning this exchange to add quite a few more ladies, but I think it could have become quickly overwelming to have to prepare 10 casseroles.

An additional perk of the casserole exchange:
Getting together to drink coffee with friends and let the kids roar around the house while the weather roars outside is worth like.........a million bucks.


Friday, February 14, 2014

A blast from the past

I'm not sure what I mean exactly by a blast

1. an enjoyably exciting experience, occasion, or event <I had a blast>


2. a violent gust of wind

or maybe a combination of both, which would be

blast from the past
:  a striking reminder of an earlier time :  something that excites nostalgia
Today I'm experiencing a blast from the past......
11 years (my, that's a big number!!) ago we made the pact to do this thing of living together forever and ever and for better or for worse. In other words, he proposed and the giddy girl beside him said 'yes'.
The past 11 years have rubbed us thin at some places and thicker at other places.
We're not on the honeymoon anymore. (hulllooooo......we've got 5 kids)
But our love has grown. It has matured. It has carried us through tough times. We've ridden the crests of joy and happiness together.
We're both better *rounded and grounded persons because of living and growing together.
It would be a lie to say that we're more infatuated than ever with each other. But infatuation doesn't hold a candle to the kind of love that bears each other up through sleepless nights and 5 pregnancies and house renovations and church ordinations.
Today as the past blasts in front of me,  the thought that keeps really making me smile is that he loved me first. I walked into his life viewing myself as a **single missionary on a 6 month furlough. Within days he was convinced that an ocean between us was no way to live. He loved me first. His love compelled me. I couldn't help myself. He won. But really, it was a serious score for me too.
*another area in which I scored good in this deal
** it's funny how much my definition of 'single' has changed over the years.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Life with a 9 year old daughter and some Valentine's Day projects

While I feel like I'm perhaps in the most intense mothering marathon of my life, I recently realized that my role of mom has been jerked all over the map in the last nine years.

Gone are the days of rising early for uninterrupted communion with Jesus and afternoon naps and early baths and premature bedtimes and buckling 4 kids into their car seats and tying shoe laces and zipping zippers and clipping those 80 fast growing nails and talking over the toddler's heads at mealtime and snacking on the sly.

These are the days of rising early only to get the kids sent off to school and kids begging to 'please stay up a little later!!!' and constant questions and annoying noises and conversations and never-ending games of Monopoly and Life and

One super positive aspect of this stage of life is that I am no longer the sole cleaner-cooker-baker-washer-dresser-babysitter-buttwiper-grocery-shopper-decorator-lady in this house.

Here enters the 9 year old (going on 16) daughter



The one who has more administrative abilities that her 32 year mother.

The one who loves to create.

The natural born teacher.

The one who loves to have adult conversations.

The one who loves to plan parties.

The one who loves shopping.

The one who is my in-home female co-conspirator.

The one who really is my right hand maid.

I'm loving this thing of not having to hold this house together on my own.

I think I depend on her more than I realize. 

"Angeline, please hold Cassie while I  __________"

"Angeline, I need you to bake some bars for tonight"

"Angeline, I just saw this cool idea on pinterest......" {boy, she's all over this one!}

She enables me to accomplish more than I ever thought would be possible while being a mom of 5.

Daughters are a good idea.

Especially first born aggressive, stubborn ones. :)

In the past Valentine's Day décor has been nonexistent around here.

This year, the combination of multiple snow days and my creative 9 year old daughter who needs no sleep, landed me with some sweet pops of pink around this house.

I found some decorating ideas on pinterest and gave her a few instructions and tools.

Then I put myself in a reclining position and watched her work because just the research and gathering of materials alone had given me a migraine.


  Here is a good tutorial to follow for making this wreath.

These flowers were basically a no-brainer to make after learning how to put the wreath together.

 Later we bunched together some of these flowers to make poof balls to hang from our dining room chandelier.  Perfect décor for my daughter's annual VDay Party with  her cousins.

This garland was another of our creations inspired by the coffee filter wreath. I ran the glue gun for this project, but Angeline did most of the work.

See why 9 year old daughters rock????

Oh. Did I mention the lack of privacy that is part of this package?

She even reads my thoughts.

Talk about accountability!!!

Even as I am typing, I have an on-site proof reader and editor.