Saturday, July 30, 2011

"These are a few of my favorite things..."

Around this time of year I know I can get annoyed by the ubiquitous bugs and oppressive heat, and start to complain a lot. Proverbs 17:22 says, "A joyful heart is good medicine...", so I thought I would share some of my favorite things about summer, to remind me of all the good things God has blessed us with.

1) Wearing flip-flops
2) Sun tea
3) Homemade popsicles
4) Iced coffee
5) Sitting outside at night listening to the crickets
6) Going to the farmer's market
7) Fresh peaches!
8) How everything tastes better when it is grilled
9) The smell of freshly mowed grass
10) The ice cream truck

These are just some of the reasons I am so glad we have 3 beautiful months of summer....hmm most of them are about food...I wonder what that says about me?

If you are reading this I would love to know what your favorite thing about summer is!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Twenty-six years!

When I think about the things in life I am most thankful for, my wonderful husband is one of the first to come to mind. Today is his 26th birthday, and I want to commemorate that by sharing a few of the things I love about him.

1) Because he is a more naturally neat person, he is teaching me to be a better housekeeper. I don't always love that about him, sometimes it really annoys me, but I've seen how his encouragement to clean things regularly leads to a more productive, peaceful environment for both of us. With God's help I am learning to accept his words as constructive criticism, rather than becoming angry and defensive :)

2) He is always on top of internet or computer issues. The whole computer situation is a little intimidating to me, and I know how blessed I am to have free computer help/maintenance just a phone call away.

3) He is an awesome dad to Titus! I love seeing the two of them playing or cuddling.

4) He serves in church ministries (VBS puppets, youth group leader, deacon), even when it is inconvenient or he has had a busy week.

5) He loves God, and I can see him growing to be more Christlike every day.

I am so thankful for my amazing husband. Happy Birthday George!

This post is linked to: Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers

Monday, July 25, 2011

Menu Plan - July 25

Our menu plan for this week...

Monday - Grilled cheese
Tuesday - Homemade Pizza, Bruschetta, salad, and ice cream sundaes (George's birthday!)
Wednesday - Kimberton Fair!
Thursday - Pierogies
Friday - Beef potpie

This is going to be a pretty laid back week. We are still trying to get everything set up in the new house, and are recovering from VBS :)

This post is linked to: Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie

Monday, July 18, 2011

Menu Plan - July 18

It's Menu Plan Monday again!

Here is what we are eating this week :)

I didn't end up making dinner several nights last week because of all the craziness of moving, so the meals that I didn't make got moved to this week's menu.

Monday - Scalloped potatoes and ham

Tuesday - Beef and Veggie Stir Fry and brown rice

Wednesday - Chicken Parmesan and salad

Thursday - Tuna salad sandwiches and carrot sticks

Friday - Hamburger and Macaroni

This post is linked to: Menu Plan Monday at Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hawiian Wedding Cake

Before I start...this cake looks nothing like the cake in the picture above, that is just a random photo I found on the internet. I thought it looked Hawiian.

Anyway, this cake doesn't turn out quite as beautiful as the one above, but it tastes amazing! It is also really easy to throw together. I am making it for a birthday party this weekend, and I need something easy since we are moving tomorrow. I'm sure you could make the cake part from scratch to make this recipe more frugal, but my goal is fast and easy right now :)

Hawiian Wedding Cake
1 8oz. Package cream cheese, softened           1 lg. can crushed pineapple
 2 sm. Pkgs. Instant vanilla pudding                   1 lg. container Cool Whip
 2 cups Milk                                                     1 pkg. shredded coconut
1 box yellow cake mix (+ eggs and oil)

             Prepare 1 box of yellow cake mix in a 9 x 13 pan.  Bake and let cool.  Mix cream cheese, pudding mix, & milk until creamy, spread onto the cake. Layer on crushed pineapple, cool whip, and coconut.

 I'm sorry that the amounts of things are just large or small. This recipe is from my grandparent's church cookbook (you know how those church cookbook recipes are). It should be pretty easy to tell which is large and small at the grocery store. Although things might have changed, since this recipe was written about 40 years ago :) 

This post is linked to: Grocery cart challenge recipe swap

Thursday, July 14, 2011

...almost a year old!

Time is a funny thing. Sometimes it speeds by so fast. How is Titus almost 1 already? And yet, I feel like I have always had him, I can't remember Titus not being with us. Crazy.

Titus is getting so sweet and smiley. He babbles a lot, sometimes it sounds like he is saying words. He is a great eater, he will eat anything (I'm not exaggerating at all).

He loves to practice walking with his walker

And he loves to crawl and explore!

We love you Titus!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Menu Plan - July 11

I have been planning my weekly menus since George and I first got married. It has been so incredibly helpful to me. Honestly, I don't know how anyone survives without a weekly meal plan. I usually plan out our meals on Friday, and make my shopping list based on my meal plan for the week. Then I go shopping on Saturday morning while George watches Titus. It's a pretty good system :)

I am linking up to Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie so I can provide some meal time inspiration to others, and also to keep me accountable. I usually only plan for dinners, because we generally eat leftovers for lunch, and breakfast depends on the amount of time between when I get up and when George has to leave for work, so it is never set in stone.

Here is what our family is eating this week:

Monday: Pizza bagels made with Homemade Bagels, salad
Tuesday: Sandwiches (to take to VBS meeting)
Wednesday: Scalloped Potatoes with ham, peas
Thursday: Hamburger and Macaroni
Friday: Chicken Parmesan and Sauteed Zucchini (with Italian seasoning instead of dill)
Saturday: Moving day! - sandwich fixings for lunch, going to a party for dinner
Sunday: First night of VBS - something quick, I don't know how much we will be at home

This post is linked to: Menu Plan Monday

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fried Rice

Fried rice is an easy, frugal option for dinner. I usually just make veggie fried rice, but you can add leftover cooked meat to make it more filling. I use butter for my fried rice, which I think gives it a lot better flavor than oil :) Also, I never measure when I am making fried rice, I just add things until it looks good to me. This recipe is totally customizable and you can add in any leftover meat or veggies you have. This is just what I happened to use when I made it yesterday.

Fried Rice
2 cups leftover cooked rice (you can make rice just for fried rice and refrigerate it, but it needs to be cold. Hot rice will not work well for this dish)
3 TBSP butter, divided
1/4 cup peas (frozen, leftover, whatever you have)
2 carrots julienned or chopped into small pieces
2 eggs
Soy sauce
Leftover cooked meat (totally optional)

Scramble the eggs and cook them in a small non-stick or cast iron skillet in 1 TBSP of butter. Break them up into tiny pieces and set aside. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes. When wok is nice and hot add 2 TBSP of butter. When the butter is melted add the peas and carrots and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the cold rice, using a spoon to break up any clumps of rice. Fry for another minute. Add the cooked eggs to the rice mixture and stir to combine everything evenly. Sprinkle with soy sauce, about a tablespoon or so, and taste the rice. Add more soy sauce if needed until it tastes right to you.

This post is linked to:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ." - Philippians 3:7-8.

This is a verse that has really been on my heart lately as we have been looking for a house. About 2 months ago George and I put an offer on a really amazing house. It was at the top of our price range, but definitely worth it. The sellers accepted our offer, we had the inspection done, everything was going smoothly.

I was so excited!  I told everyone I knew about it, mentally decorated and redecorated every room, and stayed up late at night worrying that something would go wrong and we wouldn't get the house after all. And one night, when I was worrying about the house, God brought this verse to mind and I realized that this house had become an idol for me. It consumed my thoughts and I felt like my world would fall apart if we didn't get the house.

I asked God to forgive me for my wrong attitude, then I stopped worrying about it. I had peace because I knew God would meet all my needs, no matter what happened (Phil. 4:19). As it turned out, the sellers ended up taking another offer at the last minute. And, 2 months later, we closed on a different house.

I am so thankful that God provided a house for us, but I am even more thankful that he used the experience to remind me that I already have everything I need.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Simple curtain tutorial

Curtains are one of the easiest things to sew. They just require some simple measurements and straight seams. No turning, curving, clipping, basting, piecing, gathering, etc. So for those of you who would like to learn how to sew, but are intimidated by complex projects, curtains can be a great sewing project to start out with. And when you are done you will have a beautiful decoration for your home!

I have been making curtains for all the rooms in our new house, so I thought that now would be a good time to post a tutorial. Sewing tutorials have been very helpful for me in learning how to sew new things, so I want to return the favor and post my own. This is my very first photo tutorial, so I would really appreciate your feedback!

Tools and Materials:
- sewing machine
- iron
- enough fabric to make curtains (see below for how to measure)
- Matching thread

The first thing to do is measure the window you want to make curtains for. In this tutorial I am making curtains for our bathroom window, which is 23" wide and 45" tall. You will need to add several inches to the width and length of your window, because the curtains should extend out a little bit in each direction. Nothing looks worse than a curtain that is too short or too narrow.  I know, because I've done both. The total width of your curtains should be about a foot wider than the window itself, wider than that if you want them to be gathered and puffy. The length should be 2 or 3 inches longer than the height of the window. I am going to make 2 curtains, measuring 20" by 48".  Together they should cover the window nicely.

For each curtain you need to account for the hems and the casing for the curtain rod. Decide on the measurements of  your finished curtains, then add 1" to the bottom, 1" to each side, and 3" to the top. So your dimensions should be:

Length: length of curtain + 4"

Width"" width of curtain + 2"

1. I am starting out with a piece of fabric that is 54" long (1 1/2 yds), and is 44" wide. I am using the entire width of the fabric, and am cutting 2 inches off the length.

2. Then cut that in half along the 44" side, so you end up with 2 - 22" x 52" pieces (as per the diagram above)


3. Then fold over 1/2" on each side and press

4. Fold over another 1/2" and press again

5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 on the BOTTOM of the curtain, now you are ready to sew!

6. Sew a seam through the fabric you just turned under, 1/8" from the inside edge of the hem.

Be sure to backtack at the beginning and end of each seam you sew, to secure the stitches. Backtack means to sew a few stitches, then sew a few stitches in reverse, then continue sewing forward. I tried to demonstrate it for you in the picture below.

At this point your curtain should look like this:

 7. Now turn under 1/2" on the top of the curtain and press it under

8. Then turn under another 2 1/2" and press that. This will form the casing for your curtain rod.

 9. Now sew a seam 1/8" from the inside edge of the fabric you just turned under, the same way as before.

 10. You are finished! Hang them up and admire your beautiful curtains!

Just FYI - I made these curtains to go in the bathroom of our new house, however, I hung them on our bedroom window in our apartment to take this picture because: a) the bathroom window doesn't have a curtain rod yet, and b) I'm not at the new house right now. Our bedroom window is bigger than the bathroom window though, so these curtains are too short, and a little too narrow for our bedroom window, but they will be perfect in the bathroom of the new house. I will take a picture of them in the future when they are actually hanging where they are supposed to be :)