Monday, September 29, 2008

Steak & Blue Cheese Salad

Mmm...I'm still licking my lips from dinner tonight. It was so tasty!! I grilled a couple boneless ribeyes, just drizzling a little EVOO over them with salt and pepper before grilling. I added a few sprigs of rosemary and some mesquite wood chips to the charcoal while they were grilling...what a heavenly aroma that was!

The salad is simple:

romaine lettuce
red onion
walnut pieces
crumbled blue cheese
blue cheese dressing

After grilling the steaks, let them sit for about 10 minutes, then slice against the grain, pile them on top of the salad, and serve. Yum!!

Gratitude for a friend

One of my friends has been going through some really tough times lately, and I've been feeling pretty helpless in not being able to do much for her, especially as we now live an hour apart. She was going to be coming by this morning anyway, so I decided that one thing I COULD do was make something for her to try to bring her a bit of cheer and remind her how much I love her!!

This is a gratitude wrap, which has three pockets in it - one for a small notebook or address book, one for notecards, and one for make it easy for you to send thank you notes to all those people in your life whom you need to thank. I used Sandi Henderson's Farmer's Market fabric again, and some random natural cotton fabric I had in my stash. The instructions and pattern for the gratitude wrap came from Amanda at SouleMama - which is an awesome blog, by the way, with lots of wonderful ideas. Her book, The Creative Family, is a favorite of mine, too.

I will say that, having never worked with bias tape before, I didn't really much care for the stuff!! It was NOT all that easy to use. Maybe that's just because I'm a beginner, and maybe it gets easier after you've done it a few times. But I had a really hard time going around the curves, in particular.

Other than that, I was pretty happy with how it turned out, and I think my friend really liked the gift. I have a feeling I'll be giving these as gifts a few more times!!

You've been slimed!

What do you get when you mix borax, glue, water, and food coloring? Slime! I got the idea from my friend, Deanna, and the recipe here. I only had about half of a 4-oz bottle of glue, so I had to adjust the recipe, but we still got a decent amount of slime to play with. At first, Anthony (my mess and texture-challenged kiddo!!) wasn't sure what to think of it and said he didn't like it. But he has subsequently warmed up to it, and is now sitting at his desk making impressions in the slime with one of his toy cars.

It is a really cool will form a ball in your hands, which you can roll around and play with, squeeze, form into shapes...but then when you let it rest, it starts to ooze all over. When you leave it to rest on the desk, it slowly oozes its way into a flat splat...almost resembling a big splat of thick paint! It cleans up easily, and I love that it doesn't crumble like play-doh.

We had so much fun with it that we decided to schedule a moms group slime play date here in early you'll be seeing slime again in the future!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

It's that time again...go visit Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie for more info on Menu Plan Monday. She's having a little contest this week, too, so there's an extra incentive to get your meals planned and posted!! This week is easy for me, since I plan out 2 weeks at a time, and last weekend was my menu-planning weekend! Last week's meals were quite yummy, and we still had so many leftovers that we didn't end up grilling steaks tonight as we had planned.

Monday - Steak & bleu cheese salad
Tuesday - Beef tacos, beans, rice
Wednesday - Pasta carbonara, salad
Thursday - Leftover buffet
Friday - Cheeseburger pizza
Saturday - Chili
Sunday - Bratwurst w/peppers and onions, baked beans

Happy eating, everyone!!

Good food, good friends.

First, a couple pictures of darling Mackenzie. She is getting so much better at sitting up. She still doesn't do well without the boppy, but inside the boppy, she can sit for quite a long period of time now. She was sitting there playing quite contentedly while I worked on a sewing project. Ahh...the good life. Can you believe the twins are 9 months old already?? All at once, it feels like it's flown by and as though they've been part of our family forever.

Darrell was off work on Friday (his 9/80 Friday off), and ran some errands during the day while I tried to get the house cleaned up. The twins were on weird schedules all week - the one where they decide to take naps at opposite times, leaving one of them awake at all times...making it nearly impossible for me to get much accomplished.

Friday evening, Darrell took Anthony to Medieval Times for dinner and fun. Meanwhile, I got the girls to bed, and then 3 other moms came over for craft night!! FUN!! I had made a BIG batch of caramel popcorn - as you can see in the pics - and we also had chips, cookies and mulled cider - yum! Allison worked on her scrapbooking, Amber worked on Chloe's baby book, Louise worked on cutting pieces for some sewing projects she's doing for her 4-year old son Erik, and I finished the second baby skirt out of the pieces I had previously cut for the pants mishap. The last mom left at nearly 1:00 a.m...we had a good time!!

Saturday Darrell worked on the lawn and then washed our cars. (Yay - mine was seriously in need of a wash, and his had tree sap all over it!!) Saturday evening, my new friend Kristi and her husband and 3 kids came over for dinner. I fixed Pumpkin Cranberry Crusted Chicken with Bacon-Maple Glaze and Sweet Potato Mash, along with homemade Apple Pie. The food was great and the time spent with friends was even better! The Lord has truly blessed us with wonderful new friends here.

This morning Anthony and I went to church (which was quite awesome, I might add - our pastor was ON FIRE today!!), and this afternoon I finished a sewing project I've been working on as a gift for a friend who's been going through some rough times. (I'll wait and post the pics of the project until after I've given it to her, since she reads my blog!!) Darrell is at the evening church service right now. The girls are both teething and have been quite cranky today, and it would have been very unpleasant taking them to church!!

I think this week will be a little quieter for us than last week...hoping so, anyway. Last week was fun, but I was quite worn out by the end! Hope everyone has a great week!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Applique fun!

I decided to go ahead and try the apple applique idea, to coordinate with the skirt. I printed off an apple clip-art from a teacher website, then cut it out. I traced it onto the back of my fabric, using a water-soluble fabric pencil and cut it out. I didn't have any fusible webbing, just steam-a-seam, so I cut strips of that and applied them to the back of the cut-out fabric apple. I ironed it onto the onesie. I then used the zig-zag stitch on my machine to stitch all around the apple. It's harder than it looks, and my applique is WAY less than perfect. I'm certain that after a wash or two, it will probably start to fray, because there are parts where I didn't quite get the applique under the stitching. Oh well...the first time is all about learning, right? But...I still like how it turned out. And long will it really fit them, anyway?!

Oh, and how sweet is this? Carla, from You Can Make This, read my post earlier about the mishap with the pants I was trying to make, and she sent me her e-book for Easy Fit Pants (for children and their dolls) free of charge! How nice is that?! I can't wait to try her pattern!!

My first pants. Er...skirt.

Behold, my first pair of pants.

What, does this NOT look like a pair of pants to you??? What's wrong with your eyes?? Ha ha...yeah. So...last night, I was in need of some creative time, and decided to have some fun with some new fabric I had received...from Sandi Henderson's Famer's Market line. I intended to make some cute pants for the girls, using this free pattern. So I set about piecing together my printed pattern, and cut my fabric.

Um...somehow, my brain missed the part where you have to put the two pieces of fabric RIGHT SIDE TOGETHER when you cut 2 of the same piece at the same time. Oops. problem...managed to fix it...the legs will just be a bit narrower than originally intended.

Started sewing...ah, now we're moving. Uh...something's not quite right brain just didn't quite grasp the concept that each piece I had cut was one LEG, and that they needed to be sewn to themselves, not to each other!! RIP the seam apart. Unfortunately, one thing I have learned how to do well is reinforce the beginnings and ends of my seams. Yeah...makes for lots of fun when ripping seams.

So I take one leg, put the sides together and start sewing...finally, a sigh of relief, we're on the right track. But wait...something's still not quite right. Yep...I've just sewn the crotch seam instead of the leg seam. And I realize at this point that because I looked at the pattern wrong, I've also CUT the fabric upside down, so there's just no way to fix it at this point.

And this is where it turns into a skirt!! I had no pattern for a skirt, however. At least, not the kind I wanted. But I was determined to have SOMETHING to show for my hours spent being "creative," and wanted to have a completed project before I went to bed. Finally, by 1:00 a.m., the skirt was finished. I thought about trying to add a ruffle to the hem, and I still may decide to do so, but I was just too tired last night, and didn't want to press my luck!! Besides, I kind of like the simplicity of it just as it is.

I do think I might try to do an apple applique on a white onesie, using the apple fabric, in the shape of an apple, using green thread with a zig-zag stitch. If I can figure that out. We'll see.

I think the waist is stretchy enough that both girls will be able to wear it for a while...don't know for sure, b/c Makayla's still sleeping, so I haven't tried it on her yet.

In addition to the lessons I learned above, I learned several other lessons...

  • Rotary cutters are wonderful!! Much easier to use than scissors for cutting large pieces!!
  • Always, always, always use the blade cover on your rotary cover. Even if you're just setting it down for a second.
  • Scotch tape works well in absence of a bandaid for preventing blood from getting on your pretty fabrics when you've cut your pinky finger on your rotary cutter and you don't want to stop working to run upstairs and get a bandaid.
  • Ironing seams is much easier than pinning them before sewing.
  • A bright yellow post-it note works GREAT as a seam guide - much better than the built-in seam guides on the sewing machine!!
Lemons to lemonade, right?! I wanted a skirt, anyway...that was actually what I wanted to make in the first place, but I thought pants would be more practical...should have gone with my heart to begin with!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Apple picking

Yesterday's adventure with the moms' group was apple picking in Oak Glen. Unfortunately, we had some mishaps in trying to meet up with everyone (there are different parts of the farm, and somehow, parts of our group ended up at all different parts of the farm, and our cell phones didn't work up there!), but I managed to find 2 other moms. We had a good time, although the girls were less than enthusiastic for the majority of our stay there. Anthony thought it was just wonderful pulling apples off the trees, but I honestly think the swirl lollipop from the little store was the highlight of his day!!

We got a nice assortment of apples, plus some yummy apple butter, which I used to glaze a pork roast cooked on the rotisserie for dinner last night. Quite delicious!!

Bean and Tortilla Pie - Yum!!

This is what I made for dinner on Tuesday night. The picture truly doesn't do it justice. The flavor was unbelievable - so yummy!! The recipe is from a great cookbook I have, Everyday Food: Great Food Fast, from Martha Stewart Living. I use it all the time, and truly, all the recipes I've used have been simple and delicious!! Anyway, for this recipe, you cook the onion, garlic and jalapenio in some oil, then add the black beans and a can of beer, and cook until the beer is almost gone...leaving the beans with a really yummy flavor. At that point, you add frozen corn and chopped scallions. Then you assemble the layers of tortilla, bean mixture, and cheese, in a springform pan, and bake it for 20 minutes...and then enjoy! And according to the recipe, you can assemble it ahead of time, and wait to cook it until just before you're ready to eat...always a good thing for a busy family!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I challenge you to watch this video, from start to finish. I promise you, it will be 8 minutes well spent.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Amazing before & after pics

A Taste of Fall

So, I've shown you the sights of fall in my we got to taste fall! I've been craving pumpkin muffins...well, really, pumpkin-anything! I didn't have a pumpkin muffin recipe, so I decided to make up my own. This was a first for me. I've never made up my own baking recipe before. Cooking, sauteing, grilling...those I can handle improvising on. Baking, I pretty much stick to the recipes for. But there's a first time for everything, and so create, I did.

And, if I do say so myself, they turned out to be quite delish. I believe Anthony agreed, seeing as how he scarfed down not one, not two, but THREE muffins. My mom and others who know how little this boy eats will understand how significant that is!!

Okay, so here's how I did it:

1 C. sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar
2 T. olive oil
3/4 C. applesauce
3 eggs
1/2 C. lowfat, plain yogurt
1 15-oz can pumpkin

Beat all of the above ingredients together well.

In a separate bowl, mix the following:

1 1/2 C. white flour
1 1/2 C. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3 T. brewers yeast*
3/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp. salt

Slowly add dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix well.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour batter into greased muffin tins, to 3/4 full. This should make 24 regular sized muffins or 12 large (or as I made, 12 regular and 6 large). Bake regular size muffins for 15 minutes; large muffins for 18 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 1 minute, then remove to rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

*I added the brewer's yeast b/c I am trying to boost my milk supply. If you are not, as I am, trying to breastfeed 2 hungry babies, or even one, for that matter, feel free to omit this ingredient!! :)
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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Life with my kiddos

I got these pics of the girls today after church. The dress Makayla is wearing is a 3-6 month dress that I bought AGES ago, and she just now fits in it. The dress Mackenzie is wearing is a NEWBORN dress, and it's still a little big on her. Aye aye aye. Did I mention that the girls will be 9 months old in 5 days??

In the one photo, where Makayla has her face kind of scrunched up, she's showing off her new skill that her daddy taught her while I was at the hospital with Mackenzie a couple weeks ago...she scrunches up her nose, purses her lips, and huffs in and out of her nose really fast. It's really quite adorable, though I must say it's a bit annoying when she does it with a mouth full of food, because inevitably, the food comes spilling out. But she's cute, and she knows it!

So, we ventured out to dinner tonight, as a family. The last time we did this was a few months ago, when we first got the house, while my dad was still here visiting with us. It was an adventure, but overall, went pretty well. I'm guessing maybe we need to get out a bit more often,'s the conversation I had with Anthony prior to leaving the house...

Me: Anthony, are you ready?
A: Where are we going?
Me: To get something to eat.
A: But where?
Me: At a restaurant.
A: Like, we're going INSIDE to eat??

Um, yeah...the kid knows WAY too much about drive-thrus!!!! That's because usually when we get food, it's me and all 3 kids, and it's just way too hard to drag all 3 into an eat-in place, so we find the nearest drive-thru!!

Anthony and I have had a few other interesting conversations lately, as well. I've been trying to be more diligent about doing daily bible study with him during the week, and we've had some interesting convos about God. The other night, he was scared to go to sleep, and we were doing his bedtime prayers, and I was reminding him that when he's scared, he can always pray to God to comfort him and keep him safe. He kept asking, "But where is He?" I explained, for the hundredth time, "He's all around us, He's everywhere." He said, pointing to the empty spot on the pillow next to him, "He's right here???" I said, "Yes, God is right here," thinking that would help him not be so scared. Um, yeah...he totally freaked out and said, upset, "I don't WANT Him right here!!!" I had to stifle my laughter, and I quickly assured him that God wasn't scary, and that if it made him feel better, I could ask God to stand outside the room rather than be in his bed! He agreed to that.

Later in the week, we were driving, and he again asked me, "Where is God?" I again explained that God is all around us, everywhere. He said, "Is He right there?" pointing to the empty front passenger seat. I laughed and assured him that God was, indeed, right there!

It makes me wonder what goes on in his head when he's NOT asking me questions!! :)

Touches of Fall

Ahhhhh...that's me breathing a long sigh of relief and inhaling the cool, crisp air which has graced us over the past couple days, especially in the evenings. What a blessing to not have to run the A/C, and to be able to sleep with the windows open again. Yesterday morning, after over 3 weeks of not leaving the house without any children in tow, I finally got some mommy-alone time, and when I returned in the afternoon, I caught up on some much-needed house-cleaning.

My reward was then to pull out the autumn decorations, which kicks off my very FAVORITE time of year!! From September through January is absolutely MY time!! I was MADE for this time of year, I promise you!! It's something deep in my soul which is soothed by and totally responds to the scents, colors, tastes, textures, and sounds of the fall and early winter.

Menu Plan Monday

I've been menu-planning for a couple months, now, but I've never officially participated in Menu Plan Monday, hosted by Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie. I've been reading her blog for a while and I glean much from her musings and advice!! Anyway, I just finished up our menus for the next two weeks, and have added them to my Google Calendar (you can see it down on the right side of my blog), and made up my grocery list for shopping tomorrow. I'm trying a couple new recipes this week that sound really yummy - can't wait!! We're going apple-picking on Wednesday morning, so I'll be looking forward to using the apples in some delicious ways. I'm especially excited about Saturday's dinner...we're having a couple friends over, so they'll be my guinea pigs!! Hope they're up for the adventure! The apple pie is my own recipe and we love it! If you click the link, it will take you to a previous post in which I listed the ingredients (though I've never actually measured them!).

So, here's what's coming...

Monday - Salad with yellow fin tuna, goat cheese, radishes and capers
Tuesday - Tortilla and black bean pie
Wednesday - Rotisserie glazed pork roast, baked apples
Thursday - Leftover buffet
Friday - BBQ chicken pizza
Saturday - Pumpkin Cranberry Crusted Chicken w/Bacon Maple Glaze, sweet potato mash, green beans, apple pie
Sunday - Grilled steaks, potatoes, corn on the cob

So what about you all? Anyone else figured out what you're eating this week? I swear by it - menu planning saves time, energy, stress and money!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Really awesome giveaway on a really awesome blog!!

A really awesome blog, Vanilla Joy, which I just discovered, is having an incredible giveaway of a Minibox. It's valued at $800. Yes, you read that correctly. This little cabinet is something to behold...a place for EVERYTHING!! It opens up and provides a workspace for crafting, and when you're done, it all closes up neatly and sits there looking beautiful until your next crafting adventure. I don't know about you, but with my two little ones starting to explore and Makayla already starting to pull things off shelves in my craft room, I could SURE use something like this!!

The blog has many other wonderful ideas, including lots of crafting and family fun activities. Now go enter the contest!!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pirate Playdate

We had a great time at the pirate playdate this afternoon at the park...although, I think Anthony couldn't see for the better part of the afternoon, between his eye patch over one eye and his hat sliding down over the other! But he was so excited to wear them, he refused to take them off until we got back in the car to go home. Kristi did a great job organizing, and the kids participated in a treasure hunt and a pirate-ship water fight. At first Anthony wasn't too keen on getting wet...ah, my "I don't like to get messy" kid...I've got to keep working on that!! But once he got into the fun of it, he was even squirting himself with water.

This is Kristi, the mom who organized the playdate, and the wonderful friend who brought all 3 of her kiddos over on Tuesday to watch Anthony and Makayla for me while I tookd Mackenzie to the doctor. AND, she offered to do the same again this Tuesday!! What a sweet friend!!


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