Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Flag Holder Redo

For the two years I've lived in my current home, I've had to look at this flag holder that hangs on one of the porch columns. First, it's weather beaten and old looking. Secondly, the whole country wooden heart thing really isn't my style. No offense, it looks lovely in other people's homes, but it's just not me.

BUT, you know what's also not me? Having gaping holes in my brick from the giant bolts they hung the heart with should I take the thing down. So, what to do, what to do?

Then along came some free paint samples - in red, white, and blue (and olive green, but that doesn't really go with this post). Lightbulb!!

So, I painted the heart to look like an American flag. Less country looking, more American-rustic (if that's a style).

Painting it was really simple. I measured out the lines using a bookmark (I discovered during the course of this project that we don't own a ruler in my house. How is that even possible?). I painted it relying on the steadiness of my own hand to follow the lines, so I didn't use tape (which I'm terrible at anyways). Then I used a pencil eraser to dot the "stars" on the blue part.

I'm really happy with the way it turned out. It looks much better (and much less weather beaten and dirty!).

I'm linking up with Centsational Girl's Stars and Stripes Party.

I'll also be linking up with some of the other link parties listed on my link party page so check those out too!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Zucchini Bread

This is the best zucchini bread EVER!! This is a great recipe for all that zucchini from your garden or that you can get really cheap at your local farmer's market. Sorry, there's no picture - it goes that fast!! (Okay, well maybe I just didn't take one, but you get what I'm saying.)

Zucchini Bread
From Paula Deen

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup water
2 cups grated zucchini
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry, add nuts and fold in. Bake in 2 standard loaf pans, sprayed with nonstick spray, for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Alternately, bake in 5 mini loaf pans for about 45 minutes.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Scripture Saturday - Proverbs 31:14

She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. - Proverbs 31:14

I think one of the better, more practical explanations I've heard for this verse came from Elizabeth George's book Beautiful in God's Eyes: The Treasures of the Proverbs 31 Woman.

She said of the Proverbs 31 woman in this verse: "She spares no cost in terms of money, time, or effort when it comes to contributing to the well-being of those she loves."

That resonated with me more than trying to wrap my mind around being compared to a ship. I think her description is what most women strive to do for their loved ones. Whether that means spending money on her children rather than on something she wants, or searching diligently for the best sales and the best coupons for the family's groceries, or working two jobs to help make ends meet, the modern Proverbs 31 woman works hard to care for her family.

And, while it's important to strive to better, I think it's also important that we give ourselves credit for the efforts we already put forth.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I Got Instruments of Torture in the Mail Today

Yes. Exercise equipment. Which means I have to exercise now. No excuses.

Which stinks because I'm really good at excuses.

I'm also really good at avoiding exercise. Like if there were Olympic gold medals for avoiding exercise I would be the Michael Phelps of that event.

But that also explains why I'm overweight. Especially when you combine that with the fact that I LOVE food. Not like vegetables (unless mashed potatoes count). More like ice cream.

All that together means I haven't been a very good steward over my body and my health. Haven't exactly been treating it like the temple of the Lord it is.

So, I am setting out to change all that. Exercise is step 1 of my plan to get healthy and lose some weight. I have a Danskin DA-2637R 10 lb. Weighted Toning Ball, Valeo HW2 2-Pound Neoprene Hand Weights, a Valeo Deluxe Speed Jump Rope, and Kim Kardashian's exercise plan (which was in last month's Shape magazine). I'm ready!!

Who's with me?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Beginnings of a Bedroom Redo

I have decided that my next project to tackle is a redo of our master bedroom.

This move was inspired by the fact that we had to replace our bed. Our old headboard was made by Mr. 31 five years ago. It was (and will be again!) great, but in the last six months or so the fake suede-y material covering the headboard began to seriously flake on the one side. Mr. 31 was waking up every morning with pieces of fabric dotting his face and hair and we decided that was not going to work long term.

So, we made the decision to buy our first store made bed and move the homemade headboard into the guest room (and eventually re-cover it). We started bed shopping and hit the jackpot - a brand new, wooden canopy bed for less than half the normal price! We put it on layaway and paid it off last month.

Now, I've always wanted a canopy bed (my inner princess coming out!), so I was ecstatic. And I couldn't wait to do something girly to it. Alas, my budget was willing to wait.

But my attic was on my side! A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were cleaning out our attic (and I almost got us trapped in there, but that's a different post), when I came across a garbage bag full of decorations from our wedding. Yards of tulle, strands of ivy and roses, and strings of Christmas lights emerged. The lightbulb came on and I couldn't wait to ditch the hot attic to get started on my new project.

I strung the lights and the ivy and roses around the metal braces that form an X between the posts. Then I strung the tulle over the bed with tiny silver ribbon that you can't even see. Then my brilliant husband was like, "It would look nice with flower petals" and I remembered I had some fake rose petals from a previous project. So we threw some of those on the tulle.

Unfortunately, I was too hyped to start the project and did not take before pictures of the bed. Oops. But I think you can get the picture of what it looked like before.

Here it is without the Christmas lights on:

And with the Christmas lights on:

And what it looks like when you're laying on it:

Oh, wait. That's what it looks like when you're laying on it taking pictures and your cat gets all on the lens.

Here's what it looks like after you (gently) shove her down:

I really like the way it turned out. Plus, it was free (!!) and it reminds me of our beautiful wedding day every time I look at it.

Now, you'll notice I didn't take a picture of the whole bed (because the blankets and sheets aren't coordinated yet and, let's be honest, I didn't bother to make the bed before I took these pictures) and that I have blue curtains up that don't seem to match what's going on now. I will be re-doing the rest of the room as my budget allows and will updating you all soon!

Please check my "Link Party" page to see the fabulous blogs I'll be linking up to!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hamburger Potato Casserole

I tried this recipe this past week. I really liked it. Mr. 31 ate it. He was very polite. But, to be fair, he's not really into casseroles. Maybe I shouldn't make so many...

Hamburger Potato Casserole
Adapted from a recipe on

1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium potatoes, sliced
2 cups green beans (I use frozen)
1 (10.5 oz.) can of cream of mushrooms soup
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tbs. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Brown ground beef and onion, seasoned with the garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Drain fat. Transfer ground beef mixture to a 9x13 pan or a 3 qt. casserole dish (whichever you'd like or have on hand).

3. Layer potatoes on top of the ground beef. Place green beans on top of potatoes (I used frozen and didn't even thaw them before I added them to the casserole).

4. Spread soup on the top. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Place in oven and bake for 40-50 minutes. Take out of oven and sprinkle cheese over the top. Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Monday, June 21, 2010

To Menu Plan or Not to Menu Plan? That is the Question.

In honor of Menu Plan Monday, I have a question for everyone: to menu plan or not to menu plan?

Lots of people swear by it and you'd think, with my overly organized self, I'd be all about menu planning. However, I have not managed to pull it off more than a couple days in advance. I'm in awe of those people who think to have roast chicken on Monday and then, two days later, use the leftover chicken to make chicken tacos or something. If I manage to do that, it's completely on accident and more like, "oh gosh, I have to use that chicken up before it rots" than a plan.

You see, I'm more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, I-have-to-quickly-defrost-meat-for-dinner-in-a-bowl-of-water kind of girl. Hmm...maybe that's why the guys at the local pizza place know our order by heart....

So, do you menu plan or not? If so, why? If not, why not?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Scripture Saturday - Proverbs 31:13

She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. - Proverbs 31:13

Willingly. The NIV version of the bible says "eagerly".

Unfortunately for me, it does not say she "procrastinateth" or she "sitteth on her behind after working for eight hours" or she "worketh begrudgingly, muttering about all the tasks there are to doeth".


She works willingly or eagerly with her hands. This is an important distinction to keep in mind. It's probably much more pleasant for my husband and my family when I'm in a good mood while I'm cleaning and working in my home. It's probably not so pleasant when I'm ticked off or resentful about having to clean and work in my home.

And, you know what - it's much more pleasant for me when I'm in a good mood too. When I'm grumpy about what I'm doing, when I'm finished I don't feel the same sense of accomplishment and contentment that I do when I go about my day cheerfully and willingly. I could do laundry one day grumpy and then do the same amount of laundry another day cheerfully, and it makes a difference in how I feel before, during, and at the end of the day.

I'll have to keep that in mind next time I'm tempted to take care of my home in a not-so-eager way.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I'm Going Green! And Frugal! Two Points For Me!

Okay, maybe I should calm down. Really, all I'm talking about (today at least) is the fact that I have successfully switched my household over to cloth napkins.

I decided to make the switch after reading about others' success in the blog world. Before, I always thought it would be such a pain to have to wash them. Plus using cloth napkins seemed too fancy for everyday.

However, after reading all those blogs, I finally got sick of throwing away paper napkins. Mr. 31 insisted that he needed two napkins for every meal, plus there was everyone else's. That's a lot of paper napkins going in the trash. That's a lot of waste that we're producing and that's a lot of money being tossed into the garbage.

So, I decided to dive into the stack of cloth napkins I keep for "special occasions" and give this whole green/frugal thing a spin. And, I've gotta say, I love it. I have a large supply of white cloth napkins, which seems weird because you'd think they'd get stained quicker, but they're great because I can bleach them.

My next mission is to switch my husband from kleenex to handkerchiefs. He's open to that - I just have to find good quality, soft, white ones (his request). I would also like to break my house of our terrible paper towel habit, so I'll be working on that in the near future.

The one thing I probably won't switch to in the paperless world: reusable rags instead of toilet paper. I just don't think I can go there. Sorry hardcore environmentalists and frugalists. Just can't do it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My $30 (Okay, $36) Living Room Makeover

A few months ago, I decided that I was sick of the way my living room looked. It wasn't like it was terrible looking, but it was a hodgepodge of things that had been in various rooms at our old house. Now, mind you, we've been in our current house for over a year, so it's not like I just moved. But, evidently, I had reached my limit as to the number of times I could look at the living room as it was.

So, I talked my husband into giving me $30 to re-do the living room. I wasn't sure what I was going to be able to accomplish with that, but I thought I'd give it a go and see what happened.

So, first things first, I decided to spray paint everything in sight. Okay, maybe not everything, but a lot. You already saw one of the projects in an earlier post. I also painted a lot of photo frames. I love having pictures of friends and family everywhere, but my frames were a sad mixture of styles, materials, and colors. Some examples:

(Excuse the white powder in the bottom picture - it's not anthrax or something illegal - I didn't realize that Mr. 31 had sprinkled carpet powder all over before I took the pictures).

But after a few coats of Rustoleum White, they started to look a little better as a group. Although, I do have to admit that I managed to melt one of my frames. Oops. Note to self: try the spray paint made for plastics when painting a plastic frame.

I purchased some green ribbon to hang a couple of the frames from (I also want to mention that you won't see much hanging on my walls because we are currently renting our house and aren't supposed to put holes in the walls. I lucked out and discovered the three nails above the mantel that were already there).
I also had a few pictures I wanted to use that weren't quite the right size for the frame. So, I used the same green ribbon as a fake matting.

Altogether, the frames and candlesticks from the earlier post cost me $17.00.

I also had the ugly brown pillows to contend with which I talked about in an earlier post. They cost me $12.00.

And, because I like to pay attention to the small things, another small project I tackled was our coasters. We had the coasters you can put pictures in (we only had pictures in half of them - I have no idea why). I removed the pictures and cut squares out of scraps of the wallpaper border from our dining room (which is open to our living room and decorated in the same colors).

This project was free!! My favorite kind!!

With some other small additions (like a couple of candles), my grand total came to $36. I went over budget - but just a little... Don't tell my husband.

Here are some before pics of my living room:

And some afters:

Still some things I would like to change and fix up, but all in all, not too shabby for $36!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

One of My Goals

By nature, I am a worrier. If I let myself, I would worry about everything - my family, money, what we're going to have for dinner, etc.

But, as I began to read the bible years ago, I kept stumbling on passages telling me not to worry, to not be anxious. So, I resolved, as part of my quest to be more like God has called me to be, to not worry. Most the time I do a fairly good job at keeping my worrying nature at bay. But occasionally I feel that worrying nature creep back in.

So, one of my goals is to kick worry to the curb for good. And I thought I would share one of the scriptures that is helping me do that (you know, just in case I'm not the only one with this problem). I really like Matthew 6:27: "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" I love this scripture because it reminds me that worrying is not helpful. I don't gain anything by it except an annoying teeth grinding habit when I'm sleeping.

Whenever I find myself worrying, I try to bring this scripture to mind. I'm not adding to my life by worrying; I'm not gaining anything positive by stressing over things. Let go, and let God.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Better than Robert Redford Dessert

I really would like a different name for this dessert, but it's not my recipe, so not my choice I guess! When I take it to picnics, everyone's like, "What did you bring?" and I'm like, "Better than Robert Redford..." Cue crickets as everyone gives me confused looks.

However, it tastes so awesome that everyone forgets their momentary confusion over the name. It's the perfect cool summer dessert.

Better than Robert Redford Dessert
Adapted from Family Circle

1 (rounded) cup of flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 (16 oz) container Cool Whip, thawed
4 cups milk
2 (3.4 oz) boxes instant vanilla pudding
2 (3.9 oz) boxes instant chocolate pudding
1 regular Hershey bar
chopped nuts (for top)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat 13x9 pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a medium sized bowl, mix flour, pecans, walnuts, and butter. Pat mixture into the prepared pan so it covers the bottom. Bake for 15 minutes and cool completely. (Note: cooling COMPLETELY is very important - tried to finish it once without cooling it completely. Big mistake. The crust came off the bottom in chunks and mixed in with the next layer. Oops. If you're impatient like me place the pan on a cooling rack to make the process go faster.)

3. In a bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Fold in 2 cups of Cool Whip. Spread over the cooled crust. (As this mixture is fairly sticky, I've found that dropping spoonfuls of the mixture all over crust and then spreading those together works best.)

4. Prepare vanilla pudding using 2 cups of milk. Spread over the cream cheese layer (again, dropping spoonfuls all over and then spreading works best to keep the layers seperate). Prepare chocolate pudding with remaining 2 cups of milk. Spread the chocolate pudding over the vanilla (again with my patented "spoonfuls" method).

5. Spread remaining Cool Whip over chocolate pudding with - you guessed it - the spoonfuls method. (You may have a little extra Cool Whip left over, depending on how much you want on the dessert. Feel free to eat the extra with a spoon. If it's left over from a recipe, then it doesn't count as calories. Right? We'll go with that).

6. Sprinkle with chopped nuts. Using a vegetable peeler, cut chocolate curls from the Hershey bar and sprinkle on top.

7. Place the dessert in the refrigerator anywhere from 2 hours to overnight before serving. Cut into squares to serve.

(I'm not affiliated with Cool Whip or Hershey - just my preferred brands to use with this recipe.)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Slacking for a Good Reason

Hello all!

I totally missed posting on Scripture Saturday. I didn't forget, I just didn't manage to cram it into my day.

My sister's baby shower was in the morning. I thought I'd post before that, but in the morning I realized I hadn't gotten my clothes ready, I hadn't wrapped her present.... Anyhoo, I got out the door on time - just with no post.

A good time was had by all at the shower. I saw a lot of family that I hadn't seen in a long time, so that was awesome. My sister (who is totally opposite in appearance to me - tall, skinny, and blonde) is possibly the tiniest pregnant person I have ever seen. She is due in 3 weeks and her waist size is still probably what mine was in 5th grade. Whatever. Still, can't wait to meet little Daisy!

Then, two hours after the shower ended, my husband and I were to attend my aunt's wedding. I thought I'd post between those events. Wrong again. I hadn't counted on the day being so hot and humid. Sooooo, I had to change my outfit between events, which I hadn't been planning on. Throwing all the clothes out of my closet (otherwise known as picking another dressy outfit), all while trying to have a fan pointed directly at me, took some time.

Then I had to iron my husband's clothes, after telling him to "watch the time" as he was still working in the garden 45 minutes before we had to leave. After him saying "For what?" and me almost killing him, he began to get ready.

Then, I had to do my hair. In the hot, humid house. In the hot, steamy, post-my-husband-taking-a-shower bathroom. Right. My hair was frizzing and sticking to everything except the style I wanted it in. I finally got it in just the right high ponytail I wanted and went to put the hair band in when the hair band snapped in half and went flying, leaving me with hair rapidly falling out of the perfect position I had it in and sticking itself to my neck...and my face...and my arm. To which my loving husband said, "Umm, your hair thingy is in the bathtub."

Good thing looks don't actually kill because I would be a widow.

Long story, short - I did my hair in the air conditioned car on the way to the wedding.

The (air conditioned) wedding was lovely. I'm very happy for my aunt who got married. And I saw even more family, which was great.

So, while I sort of felt bad for missing Scripture Saturday, it was all in the name of spending time with family and celebrating some of the most wonderful moments in life there are.

Except for those minutes I spent almost killing my husband. But we won't talk about that.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I Suffer From CTDL Disorder

That's right. I suffer from Compulsive-To-Do-Listing Disorder. I make a to do list for EVERYTHING. In fact, I'm so into to do lists, some of my to do lists have sub-to-do lists. Love them!! They can be so gratifying. Being able to check things off, cross them out, whatever your pleasure is - so wonderful! I love it so much that sometimes I put stuff I've already done on the to do list, just so I can cross it off. Instant gratification!!

I have to do lists on paper and Post-its. I have to do lists on my iPhone. I have to do lists that I've e-mailed to myself. I have digital to do lists in Microsoft Outlook. Is there a To-Do-Listers Anonymous? If so, my name is Vanessa and I'm a To-Do-Lister.

But to do lists aren't just about the gratification. They also keep my organized - which is their more important function. I'm the queen of to do lists at work - because if I didn't have them I would be highly disorganized and tons of stuff would fall through the cracks. Part of my job is keeping others organized - to do so I have to have my own stuff together! Microsoft Outlook is my best friend at work! If you have the program and you haven't explored the Task function yet, I would highly recommend it. It's effective for work, but would also be great for keeping organized at home.

If you don't use to do lists and often find yourself losing track of tasks, I would recommend giving them a try. Find a way that would be best for you - some find to do lists scrawled on envelope backs totally effective; others love some electronic format on their computer or phone. My guess is, once you find a way that works for you, you won't turn back from to-do-listing.

I'll see you at the TDL Anonymous meeting.

(By the way, I am in no way affiliated with or paid by Microsoft. I'm guessing they don't know that I even exist.)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Shedding Our Deepest Fear

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. - Marianne Williamson

Maybe you've seen this quote before. I saw it for the first time today. It struck a chord with me.

False humility is often a problem with Christians. We tend to mistake confidence (especially in ourselves) for bragging or showing off. Why should we be ashamed of our God-given gifts and talents? God gave us those gifts and talents for a reason - and it wasn't so we could keep them to ourselves or be embarrassed of them. We should be using our gifts - whatever they may be - to glorify God and to serve others.

We often encourage those around us to go after their dreams; it's usually far easier to recognize others' gifts and to help encourage their use. But what kind of example are we setting if we continually keep our own gifts and talents under wraps? Talk about a "Do as I say, not as I do" scenario.

Don't be afraid or ashamed of the gifts and talents that God has given you. By using them and letting them shine, we are actually helping those around us more than our words alone could ever do.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Joining the Wondrous World of Spray Painting

Okay, call me lame, but until this year I had not heard of the magical world of spray painting to refresh your home decor. Now, I have used spray paint before - I don't totally live under a rock. But I had not thought to use it for things in my home.

As I delved deeper into the blogosphere, I was introduced to the wonder that is spray paint. So, extremely excited about the possibilities, I decided to embark on my maiden voyage into this wondrous new world.

I decided to start with some objects that I purchased from Salvation Army. That way, if I totally messed up, I wasn't doing it on beloved objects. So, I bought two candlesticks at Salvation Army. It took me a minute to find a couple that I liked - at first it was really hard for me to look past the colors they already were! But I finally got in the swing of just looking at their shape and form and found what I was looking for.

I bought this gold beauty for 79 cents:

(Please excuse the terrible condition of my deck - that's an upcoming summer project!)

I also bought this candlestick, the color of which I can't fully explain. It was $2.99.

So, I attacked the candlesticks with plain ol' Rustoleum in Semi-gloss White. I sprayed light layers, letting each dry in between coats. I will admit, the speckled black candlestick was giving me some irritation - the first couple of layers looked like they weren't adhering.

But spray paint conquered! And for the grand total of about $12.00 (including candles), I had a brand new look for my mantel.

My foray into spray painting went so well, I decided to remake some other objects in my living room. I'll share those projects later.

I LOVE spray paint!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lone Star Rice

Here's a recipe that is a stand-by at my house. It is versatile and works all year long with a variety of meals. We'll use it a lot this summer with all the grilling we do!

My Version of Lone Star Rice
Adapted from Top Secret Restaurant Recipes

2 cups water
2 bouillon cubes (chicken or beef, depending on your menu)
1 cup uncooked parboiled rice (really important - other types of rices did not work!)
1 tbs. olive oil
1/3 cup diced white onion
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Bring the water and bouillon cubes to a boil over high heat in a medium sized saucepan.

2. Add the rice to the liquid and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. When there is 10 minutes left in the rice's cooking time, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

4. When the oil is hot, add the onion to the pan and saute for about 5 minutes or until the onions are a golden brown.

5. When the rice is done, add it to the skillet with the onion. Add the chili powder and salt. Heat the mixture, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Typical Moment in My House

I had a crazy day yesterday so I didn't get a post ready and am now on my lunch break doing this post. Because of that, I thought I'd share a typical moment at my house starring my cats Samuel (the orange one) and Dixie (the black and white one). Samuel always wants the exact place where Dixie is sitting or laying or sleeping. Just because. That's how he rolls.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Scripture Saturday - Proverbs 31:11-12

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. - Proverbs 31:11-12 (NIV)

She brings him good, not harm, ALL the days of her life. Every single one. Even the ones when she's tired and cranky from a long day at work. Even the ones when the house is a mess and it doesn't seem like he did much to help make it otherwise.

This is one I struggle with (and my husband knows it!). ALL the days. I can be nice all day long at work, even on difficult phone calls or in dealing with difficult people. But when I come home? It's like I know my husband loves me, so I can feel free to let loose on him. Because doesn't he know that I had a rough day? Doesn't he know that I've had to be nice and pleasant all day long when sometimes I didn't want to be? Wasn't I just really nice to him yesterday?

I want to get to the point where my husband has full confidence that I will bring him good ALL the days of my life. Why should I be nice and pleasant and bring good to people I deal with at work and not be nice and pleasant and bring good to my husband, who I love and made a lifelong commitment to?

Lord, help me to remember your word that I may bring my husband good and not harm all the days of my life.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Start Where You Are

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

I love that message! I originally heard it from Pastor Rus Jeffrey, who has a ministry in New York.

So many times we (or maybe it’s just me…) hold ourselves and our purpose in life hostage to our own excuses and/or our inability to comprehend how to accomplish our goals.

As soon as I get $25,000, I’ll start that business.

I want to be a writer, but I don’t have an agent, so I’ll just wait until an opportunity presents itself.

I feel called to minister, but I don’t have a pulpit to do it from.

I would lose weight, but I don’t have any exercise equipment. As soon as I can get a home gym together, I’ll get started.

Instead of holding yourself up, start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

My sister-in-law is a good example of this. She is a talented cake baker/decorator and wants to one day have her own bakery. She could have very easily said, “I don’t have the money or the professional kitchen or the expertise to start. This will have to wait.” Instead, she has started where she is, which is in her own kitchen, baking and decorating cakes for friends and acquaintances. She is building her expertise, building a client base, and preparing herself for the day when she is ready to open a full-fledged business.

I encourage you to take a look at your dreams and what you feel called to do with your life. You may not be in a position to achieve your final goal, but you can start where you are. You can use what you have. You can do what you can.

Do you feel called to be a writer? Well, start writing – in a notebook, on your computer, on a blog. There are plenty of ways to get those creative juices flowing. Feel called to minister to people? Well, you may not be on anyone’s guest speaker roster yet, but you have friends, right? Start there. Next time a friend is down, rather than joining in the gripe fest, take the opportunity to bless her or him.

My husband and I bring this message to each other’s remembrance often. It’s a good way to get yourself going in the right direction and to start making a difference both in your life and in the lives of others.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

No-Sew Throw Pillow Makeover

I love to learn about and create inexpensive and creative ways to decorate my home. I'm a total homebody and love for my home to be a place of comfort and peace and a part of that is liking how my home looks. From time to time, I will post about what I'm up to in decorating my home.

I love throw pillows. They can add so much to a room, plus they’re lovely to lay on, lean against, throw at someone without actually hurting them…

What I don’t love is how much throw pillows cost. For the couch and loveseat in my living room, I wanted six pillows. There was a pillow at Target that I really liked, but it cost $19.99. That would be roughly $120.00 worth of pillows for my living room. Yeah, I’ll get right on buying those.

So, I needed another solution. My couch & loveseat originally came with dark brown pillows made out of some rough cloth that was NOT comfortable to lay on:

Dark brown pillows on a lighter brown couch. I’m in awe of the daring of the designer.

While walking around at Walmart, I saw packs of standard sized pillow cases that were sold in packs of two in a variety of colors for around $4.00. And I saw the two colors that I wanted for my pillows. So, $12.00 later, I was walking out of Walmart with six pillow cases hoping they would fit on my existing couch pillows.

Because, you see, I can’t sew. And it’s not like other people in my family can’t sew. My grandmother and numerous aunts sew and probably could have taught me. But then I think about my dislike for measuring things precisely and realize anything I sew would probably look like this:

(Remember this episode? I love The Cosby Show!)

Rather than admit I wouldn’t be good at it, I’m going to blame it on genetics and say the ability to sew skips every third generation. Yep, I’m sure that’s what it is.

Back to the pillow cases. I got home and guess what? They fit perfectly! All I had to do was tuck the ends in at the bottom so you can only see the tuck on one side. I just keep that side to the back and no one is the wiser. Well, now you are, but I trust you won’t come to my house and start flipping my couch pillows over.

And the best part is – besides the fact that I have pillows in the colors I wanted without having to sew or spend an arm and a leg – is that these covers can be removed and washed really easily. Which is perfect for when my cats decide to shed their entire coats over the span of a month.

Yay throw pillows! (And Dixie likes them too!)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Favorite Pastime

The picture to the left is a typical stack that I carry out of the public library.

You may be a book addict if everyone you pass when you're leaving the library has to comment on the number of books you're carrying out with you...

I love to read. I love books. I love that you can find a book on just about any subject.

I'm like a kid in a candy store when you take me to the library or to a Barnes & Noble. I can't figure out what section to start in. History? Or maybe fiction? Ooh, except you have to pass the cookbooks to get to fiction, so maybe I should stop there first? The only time that's different: if I'm actually buying, I must start in clearance because then I can buy more books for the money I have!

And I must also admit that I am a horrible purist when it comes to reading and books. I MUST have actual books!! None of this replacing my library with my iPhone or a Kindle. Now, eBooks are helpful on a plane (they certainly weigh a lot less than a stack of books!). However, for me, technology can never replace or replicate the feeling of holding a book in your hands. There's something so comforting about curling up on your couch with a blanket and a book (and maybe some toast and hot chocolate....). There's something not so comforting about curling up with my iPhone (though I do love it for other things).

If I had my way, my house would be overrun with books. They would be stacked on every surface, every bare spot on the floor. The only thing keeping me from doing that? I think it might be grounds for a divorce....or, at the very least, a visit from the show Hoarders...and who needs someone coming in and throwing away all their books?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cherry Filled Oreo Truffles

In light of my post yesterday, I thought I would share a kitchen success story.

This is my variation on the ever-popular Oreo truffles. Because if something sweet is good, adding something else sweet to it can only make it better, right?

Cherry Filled Oreo Truffles
Adapted from Kraft Foods

1 package of Oreos
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1 (12 oz) bag of semisweet chocolate chips
1 jar of maraschino cherries

1. Crush Oreos to fine crumbs using whatever method you’d like (food processor, putting them in a Ziploc bag and banging the heck out of them, whatever). Reserve about 1/8 cup of the crumbs to sprinkle on the finished truffles later.
2. Mix the remaining Oreo crumbs and the cream cheese until well blended (I use my stand mixer for this. I detest mixing cream cheese in any other way).
3. Drain the maraschino cherries and de-stem (is that a word?) them if need be. I actually found a store brand that comes de-stemmed.
4. Take about ¾ tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture and cover 1 cherry with it so the cherry is completely covered and the whole thing is rolled into a ball. Place it on a baking sheet or plate that will fit in your freezer. Repeat until out of cream cheese mixture or cherries (the number of truffles you get will depend on how large you make them. You usually want to shoot for about 1 inch in diameter, but I won’t cast judgment if you make them another size).
5. Place the baking sheet/plate into the freezer for about 15 minutes. This will help the truffles keep their shape when you dip them in the melted chocolate.
6. While the truffle innards are in the freezer, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or whatever way you rig up a fake double boiler (I have a small pot with handles that can balance over a larger pot. I boil water in the larger pot and the chocolate chips go in the smaller pot).
7. Dip the cream cheese balls into the melted chocolate. I’ve found that rolling them in the chocolate and gently lifting them out with two forks usually works. Once dipped in chocolate, place the truffles on a wax paper covered baking sheet (I’ve used foil instead of wax paper in a pinch. That seemed to work well too).
8. Sprinkle the tops of the truffles with the reserved cookie crumbs.
9. Refrigerate the truffles until firm, which will take about 1 hour.
10. Store the truffles in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Put some of these in a lovely container and they make a great hostess gift. I say this because you will want to get as many of these out of your house as possible. Otherwise, you will be found slumped into your open refrigerator in a cherry-filled-Oreo-truffle-induced coma. Or your husband will gain five pounds while declaring that he is too manly to eat something called a “truffle” and secretly sneaking truffles out of the fridge at all hours of the day.