MAKING MY HOME A COZY PLACE TO LAND, ONE IDEA AT A TIME.

Friday, February 26, 2010

My Husband Rocks Friday

I'm always reminded that my husband rocks. Even if I don't always show it, I truly appreciate every single thing he does for me.

My husband rocks because he always supports me in every single thing I do. He even says what he knows I am thinking of so that I don't have to come to him to ask him. He's on top of it all!

He's wonderful. He ROCKS!!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

You Know You're 6 Months Pregnant When...

Today I marked the 6 months pregnant milestone!

So, to celebrate, a little pregnancy humor!
Enjoy!

You Know You're 6 Months Pregnant When:
  • A sneeze or a laugh makes you pee your pants
  • You're husband is so impressed by the belch that just sent your head back a few inches that he tries (and fails) to beat it
  • Your 70 year old grandmother can bend over to pick up the item you just dropped 5 times with more ease than you can
  • Shaving above the knee becomes so much work that you just think, "Oh, forget about it!"
  • Your husband knows by the sound of your "mmmmmmm" just what you're craving for
  • You can no longer see your feet without leaning front or to the side
  • Your family knows you're walking by because you are no longer light-footed and have started to waddle
  • You have more pillows under your belly and back in bed than under your head
  • You become hungry even though you just ate an hour ago
  • You are happy to realize that you are out of that awkward "Is she just fat or is she pregnant?" stage
  • Rolling out of bed is easier than sitting up first
  • Breathing has become a necessary evil
  • While at work, you realize that you've hit buttons that should not have been hit with your belly
  • You feel baby move, so you put your husband's hand on your belly and the baby stops moving and you are sure it's just out of spite
  • You've forgotten what you were going to do to walk away and remember only to walk back again and realize that you've forgotten again
  • You feel like an old man because your hips feel so arthritic that you're afraid you'll pop them out of joint if you move the wrong way

I hope you've enjoyed this.

And if you remember something I haven't experienced yet, leave a comment. I'd love to read it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Husband Rocks Friday on a Saturday

Sorry! I forgot My Husband Rocks Friday yesterday.
So, I'll do it today!

My husband rocks because last night he took me out for a date.
We went to paint pottery.
While he didn't want to go, he did because he knew I would enjoy it.
And I had fun.

How does your husband (or wife) rock?
I'd love to know, so leave a comment for us all to share!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Today's Fun Creation!

With Mike being home, I need something to do too. I just can't sit around looking at the wall all day.

So, I decided to be productive.

Wednesday, I started on a rag quilt that is black and white and black and white polka dots. I was starting to go bug-eyed. I ended up running out to JoAnn Fabrics and I got some really cool fabrics on sale.

I got Snuggle Fleece (made for babies) which is printed for $2.50 a yard and then some solid fleece for $2.00 a yard. I ended up getting 2 yards of each in 2 different prints and 2 different solids. Then, I got some Calico quilting cotton that's printed for $3.50 a yard and then some solid cottons for $2.00 a yard. So, I got 1 1/2 yards of each in 2 different prints and 2 different solids. I ended up saving somewhere around 42% on my bill.

My motto, I must say, is if it's not on sale and you don't need it, don't buy it.

With the fleece, I made 8 burpee cloths out of 1/2 of the fabric, and I'll make 8 more this weekend. With the cottons, I plan to make some diaper and wipe holders that fit neatly into your purse or diaper bag.

If you are interested, they will be available on etsy.com with in about a week, along with some homemade lip balms that I've made. My name on there is homemadehappens.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Has the nesting begun?

Nesting.
I guess it happens.
I've heard it happens.
I think it's beginning to happen.

Why, you ask?

Yesterday, I couldn't get my house clean enough!
Yep.
Me.
The one who believes (rather firmly) that a house should be tidy but lived in.
Couldn't clean the house enough.

Eventually, I just gave up.
I figure...there's always tomorrow (which, coincidentally, is now today...even though there is still tomorrow.)

Between floors, upholstery, dishes, laundry, walls, dogs, windows, and and endless list of dirty "stuff", I was going insane. Even when the living room was more clean than it usually is, I still was in complete disgust with it.

I don't like living like that.
I hope it doesn't last.
I like my lived-in life.

Who says spotless is fun?
Who says they are creative in a sterile environment?

Maybe if I were raised in a spotless home, I'd feel otherwise.
But I wasn't.
And I don't.

So, for today (and yesterday), we'll just chalk this up to pregnancy hormones.
And hope tomorrow is better...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made


13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.

Psalm 139: 13-18



I can't help but be amazed and awed by the uniqueness of God.

God the creator.
God the sustainer.

Right now, inside of me, He is knitting together a tiny little baby.
A new person, so perfect that only a creator, scratch that, the Creator could make something, someone so perfect.

Everyday, something new is happening to my baby.
Like developing skin.
Or learning to swallow.
Or having a heart to pump blood all its own.
Or growing a brain stem.

I mean really, are 2 humans able to create such a perfect thing?
Nope.
I don't think so.

I must forever more stand in awe of the the God who gave me life and breath.
Who gave life and breath to my child.
Who gives life and breath to every living thing.
Who has created every living and non-living thing for the benefit of His children.

Not only am I fearfully and wonderfully made, but so is my precious growing baby. So are you.

Have you thanked God today for what He has created for you?

Life Simplified Tip


So, here's my Life Simplified Tip of the week...

If making a menu and grocery shopping seem more like a chore every week, try the simple method for making a month-long menu.

It doesn't have to start at the beginning of the month.
Mine starts at Feb. 14th.

Here's the easy way to do it.
It's pretty simple.
And a few steps today will save you a lot of steps every month.

Step one.
Print out or make a blank month-long calendar.
I got mine on the web and printed it out.

Step Two.
If you have any kinds of commitments or if you work at all (I work part time), put these and the dates into your calendar.
I put the times that I get off of work on my calendar so that I know ahead of time if I need a quick meal or if I have off and can spend some time making something special for dinner.
I also left every Saturday open so that if we decided to get together with family or have guests over, we have the flexibility to do so.

Step 3.
Make a chart of "Meal Groups".
My 8 groups include:
1) Breakfast For Dinner
2)World Foods (Like Italian and Mexican)
3) Sandwiches
4)20 Minute Meals
5)Crockpot Dinners
6)Eat Out Dinners
7)Mike Makes Meals (these are the dinners that Mike will make on the nights I work late)
8)New & Occasional Recipe Meals (these are the new things I want to try or the things that I only make once in a while)

Of course, you can have more or less categories, and as time goes on, you can always add more categories to the ones you have already.

Step 4.
Start with a goal of 5 meals per category.
Choose more or less, whatever you like.
Then, again, as time goes on, you can add new meals to these meal categories.

Step 5.
Plug these meals into your calendar.
Keep in mind the nights you are committed to something already and plan accordingly.
And if your family likes a meal, don't be afraid to put it into the menu more than once.
This method is nice because it allows for me not to feel like I'm making the same thing over and over again but still making the things we enjoy often enough to not forget the taste!
I also put the number of the category in the calendar. That way, if I work until 7, Mike knows that it's his night to make dinner.

Step 6.
Make a grocery list for the week and go shopping!
I make a list of the things I need and I keep a separate list of the things I already have. That way, I don't buy the stuff I already have.

Now, weekly meal planning is easy and so is weekly grocery list making!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

How Ecclesiastes 3 Relates To Me...At Least Today


1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.



So, Ecclesiastes 3 says that there is a time for everything under Heaven.
And today, I'm gonna take that as a time for laundry...
And a time to snuggle your husband.

Should I feel bad that I decided to put off the laundry for a snuggle and movie fest with my gimpy husband?
Maybe?!
But I don't.

In fact, I think it's important to occasionally put off that other stuff to enjoy time with your spouse. I think that while making sure he has clean clothes to wear and clean dishes to eat off of (especially when I bake up a storm) is extremely important (after all, do you want to recycle dirty socks? Hmm? I didn't think so!) so is putting all that stuff aside so that he knows that he's more important than all of that.

So, that's what I did today. I put aside the household chores today...well some of them anyway. And we sat together on the couch whispering and cuddling and laughing and vegging and making new dreams (like that trip to the Caribbean that we will take...some day).

Nurturing the spirit of oneness in a marriage is extremely important. All too often we get caught up in the hectic pace of life and the separation of spouses (his job, her health, his friends, her errands, etc.).

When was the last time you nurtured your marriage and the wholeness that it takes to make things run like a well-oiled machine? If it's been a while, I encourage you to set some time aside and invest it in your spouse.

And while you are investing time in your spouse, invest some time in prayer for your spouse. It's easy to forget to do. But it's SOOOOOO important.

Turnover Recipe


This one is super yummy!

Ingredients:

1 C. flour

1/2 C. butter

1
/8 t. salt

3 oz. cream cheese

Flavored jam of choice OR 1 small can of pie filling

Glaze recipe (below)

1 t. orange peel finely grated
(I didn't have an orange, so I substituted the same amount of orange extract, which I did have!)

Directions:


Mix ingredients together in a bowl. This is a good time to take any rings or watches or bra
celets off because you'll need to use your hands. Cover and refrigerate at least a hour. (I wrapped the dough in Saran Wrap...)

Heat oven to 375°F. Roll dough 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 2 inch circles (or use the floured edge of a glass). Spoon 1/4 teaspoon jam or pie filling on the center of the circle. Moisten edge with water and fold edge over. Pinch or press edges with a fork to seal. Place
1 inch apart on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 - 10 minutes or until edges are a light brown. Cool on a wire rack. Drizzle with orange glaze, after the cookies cool.


TIP: Last Christmas, my sister-in-law gave me a pirogi maker from Tupperware. It's perfect for this. If you fold it open, you can use it to cut your circle, then you can put the dough circle in it and use it to pinch the turnover closed. I took a couple different pictures of a few different ways to make the turnovers. You can also cut 2 circles out with the cup and make circle turnovers.

Glaze!


Ingredients:


1/2 C. confectionery sugar

1/2 t. orange peel finely grated (again, I didn't have an orange, so I used the same amount of orange extract.)

2 - 3 t. orange juice


Directions:


Mix all ingredients together until smooth and thin enough to drizzle.

Drizzle over hot turnovers.

Enjoy! These are marvelous! You can make cherry (like I did) or use jam or preserves in your favorite flavor, like raspberry, strawberry, peach, whatever!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!



Lover's Day is upon us. This year, I wanted to do something special with my sweetheart.
But that was out of the question.
He
just had surgery on Friday.
Poor guy.
So, I decided that I would make him dinner.
A combination of his favorites and mine.

Lasagna for Two
.
Strawberry Cheesecake.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries.
Plus all the treats he could want this week!

So, the question begs the asking...


How did you and your Valentine meet?

Well, Mike and I met in middle school, originally.
We ran track and field together. Kinda.
I ran track, he did field events.
I knew then that this guy was someone special.

I didn't see him for 2 years. We're a year apart in age. When I moved to the high school, it was his Sophomore year. He was in a car accident that year.

The next year, however, my locker was assigned next to his locker, thus we became "locker buddies." Mostly, he called us that so that he could steal gum whenever he wanted.

We were both in relationships that kept us busy that next year, but during his Senior year (and my Junior year) we both ended these relationships and became even closer. We started to casually see each other, spending time together at lunch and between classes and outside of school. Coincidentally, neither one of us wanted anything serious.

So much for that!

Then, one day, he asked me to a date.
A date date.
A real date.
Dinner.
At Chuck E. Cheese.
With his little brother.
Then a movie.

It was interesting, that's for sure.

Fast forward 9 months, and we were engaged.
And married 11 months later.
11 days after my high school graduation.

Now, we're just a few months shy of our 4th wedding anniversary.
And expecting a little one at the end of June.

And I'm more in love with him now than I was on the day we met.
The day we first talked about marriage.
The day we became engaged.
The day we married.
Yesterday.

So, this is for all you love birds out there!
Go, and tell you hunny how much and why you love them!
They may already know, but trust me, it's still nice to hear!

Best Homemade Bread EVER!!!

Ok, so as promised... Here is the bestest homemade bread ever.
REALLY!
It's better than store-bought.
I promise!

Here's an up-front disclaimer...
You cannot make this bread when you don't have time to commit to it....
It takes at least 2 1/2 hours.
Now, don't go all, "What! I don't have time for that! I'm not even gonna try it!" on me. 2 of those hours are spent letting the bread rise. So, go do the laundry, the dishes, play with the kids, what ever while you wait! To make the time seam like a better use, I make 2 loaves at once. If you do decide to make more than one loaf at a time, just remember to keep the doughs separate.

Now, on to the recipe!

You will need a large bowl, a regular spoon, a loaf pan, a hand towel and some non-stick cooking spray.

Ingredients:

1 package active dry yeast

1 cup warm water (hot from the tap is fine)

1/4 cup milk

5 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

5 teaspoons butter (melted in the microwave)

2 1/2 cups bread flour plus about 3/4 cup more for kneading into dough (if you don't have bread flour, all-purpose flour works fine...it's just slightly different)

Directions:

Dissolve the active dry yeast in the warm water, and stir with a spoon. It's best to use a warm bowl. Do this by running the bowl under hot water (as you're measuring the cup out for dissolving the dry yeast) and simply dry the outside of the bowl. If the inside isn't dry, that's ok.

Stir in the milk, sugar, salt and butter until all mixed together.

Stir in 2 cups of flour and then add the last 1/2 cup flour. Now is a good time to take any rings or watches or bracelets off. You'll have to use your hands to mix the rest of the flour into the dough.

Lightly flour your clean surface. Place the dough on here and lightly flour the top. Now, start kneading the dough. Don't forget to twist the dough and work in all the flour of the 3/4 cup over a 10 minute time period. That's right! 10 minutes...you'll get a nice upper arm workout, that's for sure!

Clean out the bowl (you don't have to wash it, just make sure it's cleaned out) and spray it with the non-stick spray. For your dough into a ball and place in the bowl. Cover it with the hand towel and set it in a warm place. Let it rise for an hour.

After the dough has risen, turn the bowl over onto your clean surface and punch the dough down. Have fun with this! It's easiest to punch it into a rectangle that is as long as about 1 1/2 lengths of your loaf pan and about 3/4 width as the length of your bread pan.

Now, roll the dough up, length-wise. Keep the roll tight or you will end up with holes in the finished bread.

Spray your loaf pan with the non-stick spray and place the bread roll in the loaf pan, seam-side down. Cover with the hand towel and set in a warm place for 1 hour to rise. Now, if the bread rises above the loaf pan, don't worry about it. It won't go anywhere during the baking process.

During this hour, remember to turn your oven to 400 degrees F. After the hour is up, bake the loaf on the center rack of the oven for 20 minutes.

When the loaf is done, cover it with a hand towel and remove from the loaf pan right away. I usually wait about 2 minutes before wrapping the bread in Saran Wrap. By doing this right away, you will seal in the moisture.

Now, go enjoy the bread! It AMAZING!!!

My Husband Rocks Friday!!!!

Ok, here's how My Husband Rocks Friday works...
Every Friday I'll post a little something about why or how my husband rocks!
It doesn't have to be some big thing...just something small.

I encourage everyone to let their spouse know what little ways you find that makes them awesome! Come on! You can do it! You married them for a reason, now let them know!

All too often people get caught up in "Marriage is such a commitment."

WELL, DUH!

Marriage is supposed to be a commitment. It's supposed to take work.
It won't always be fun.
It won't always be easy.
And you won't always roll outta bed and say, "WOW! My husband is so wonderful!"

BUT, it's definitely always worth it!

For example, yesterday, Mike was stressing out. We leave for his second reconstructive ankle surgery in about 2 hours. He got mad at me for whatever reason. And looking back on it this morning, I don't even think it was me. It was probably the situation. He doesn't handle stress well. Not at all! ANYWAY...shortly after that little outburst, he came and wrapped his arms around me and apologized for letting the stress get the better of him.

Now, on to how my husband rocks...

With my growing belly, it continually gets harder for me to lug laundry from our second story to the washer and dryer (in the basement), so Mike has taken it upon himself to gather all the laundry and carry it down for me!

How sweet!

Love you Mike!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sweet Hearts for my Sweet Heart



As promised, here is the first of the recipes. While my sugar cookies don't look the greatest with this icing (I'm not an artist and it sometimes makes me sad), they sure taste great!

So, here's the recipe for the cookies and the recipe for the icing. This was the first time I made this recipe of icing, so I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but it was very good! If you don't want the hassle of a new recipe, you can always use the one on the Domino Confectioner's Sugar box or you can cheat and buy a can of icing and simply color it.

Now, I didn't really want a lot of cookies (I've been baking up a storm this past week), so I cut the recipe in half. I'll give the full recipe though. I also didn't need a whole pound of icing too, so I cut this recipe in half and then in half again. That made for some interesting measurements! But, without further ado, here goes!

Sugar Cookies!

Ingredients:

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated white sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions:

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough.

Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about one hour or until firm enough to roll.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove one half of the chilled dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Keep turning the dough as you roll, making sure the dough does not stick to the counter. Cut out desired shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter and transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to chill the dough which prevents the cookies from spreading and losing their shape while baking.

If you are not going to frost the baked cookies, you may want to sprinkle the unbaked cookies with crystal or sparkling sugar.

Bake cookies for about 8-10 minutes (depending on size) or until the edges are just starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Frost with royal icing, if desired. Be sure to let the royal icing dry completely before storing. (This may take several hours.)

Frosted cookies will keep several days in an airtight container. Store between layers of parchment paper or wax paper.

NOTE: Ok, first of all, I was out of parchment paper, so I simply greased the cookie sheets with shortening. Next, be sure to keep the cookies about an inch apart on the cookie sheets because they still spread a little bit. Also, I don't use unsalted butter, even if the recipe calls for it. So, if you don't have unsalted butter, don't worry...the cookies still taste yummy! Lastly, let your eggs get to room temperature. It just works a little better. Eggs and butter should always be at room temperature unless the recipe says otherwise.

And here's the finished product (you've seen this before though, in the previous post)!

And now, for the icing. The recipe says to use royal icing, but I used good ol' buttercream icing.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)

2 tablespoons milk

Directions:

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

NOTE: When the recipe says that the icing will appear dry, it really looks dry. It's very clumpy. Don't worry, as soon as you add the milk, things wll soften up.

And then, there's the finished cookies! Yummy! By the way, I don't think they are gonna make it to Valentine's Day!

I'm dreaming of a white February?!?

Ok, so what's a gal to do when she's stuck in the house for days on end? I can't even see my grass. My part of Pennsylvania has gotten about 3 1/2 feet of snow in 6 days! Yesterday, the snow was higher than the bottom of my back door. Mike had to force it open. That's very uncommon. So, what's a gal to do?



BAKING!!!

Well, the first time I was stuck in the house, I ended up baking 2 loaves of bread (and they turned out better than the store stuff, if I do say so myself), and yesterday, I ended up baking some sugar cookies for Valentine's Day.

This afternoon holds even more baking. Some bread (again...I can't help it! My loaf pans are smaller than the store-bought loaves.) and icing for my cookies from yesterday. And, some peach turnovers! Yummy!

So, I'll post the recipes later on today. I'd like to take some pictures of the finished product.