I'm really happy with the way it turned out. It looks much better (and much less weather beaten and dirty!).
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I'm really happy with the way it turned out. It looks much better (and much less weather beaten and dirty!).
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
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
Saturday, June 26, 2010
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
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!!
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
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.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Hamburger Potato Casserole
Adapted from a recipe on About.com
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
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
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
(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 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.
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).
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:
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
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
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
(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
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
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
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
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
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
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?
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.