Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Homemaker Tip-Organization

For those of you that have an in home office or a little desk area like we have, here are some great ideas to help organize those areas.

Paint-can cubbies. Take your old paint cans, clean them thoroughly inside and out or purchase unused, inexpensive paint cans from a local paint store. Anchor them to a shelf with Velcro and you have a convenient and creative way to organize your bills, mail and other papers that often clutter your desk.
Make your own bulletin board out of cork board covered in fabric and framed. (you wouldn't even have to frame it) wrap ribbon around it stapling it in the back and tacking it in the front. Use a drying rack to store magazines or wrapping paper.
Turn a chest into an organized storage unit. I think this is a really cool idea and Bryan and I were actually just given a cedar chest from my parents and I have been trying to figure out what to do with it. Something similar to this may be a great option. If you are really interested in learning how to turn a chest you have into something like this click here for instructions.

Here is a really cute and simple idea..turn empty cereal boxes into organizers either for your office or your kid's desks. Cut with a utility knife at the angle you want and then cover in craft paper securing with double stick tape. Use large boxes for books, magazines and paper. Use the mini boxes for pencils and other small supplies!


Happy Organizing!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Roses & Thorns

Thorn: Bryan starts his 3rd job this week.

Rose: 1. This is hopefully the beginning of the end of working so many jobs. 2. It's a constant reminder of how very proud I am of Bryan for working so hard. 3. It's really only about 9/10 hours more than he has been working the last few months, so not much of a difference. 4. It gives me so much time to invest in my kid's lives!

What are you dreading this week??

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Weekend Challenge

The challenge:  Make 'it' a challenge.


What do I mean?  Well, the challenge this week(end) is to take something hard in your life and turn it around.  Try to look at it differently and make it a challenge to conquer if possible.  I recently have done this with our grocery budget, and I am having a blast. 

Our grocery budget has been pretty small for a long time.  It often  frustrated me and felt like a burden to be carried.  But recently I was inspired to change my outlook on it.  Instead of viewing it as a burden, I now see it as a challenge!  I am using my brains and working hard to figure out all kinds of ways to save my family money, to spend less and less each week on groceries (while still eating healthy), and become a better home economist.  This week I am making a meal planning menu with no meat, only beans.  I found the idea here and am excited to try new recipes and shrink my grocery budget even more by cooking up lots of dry beans.  

Is there something in your life that feels like a burden?  Is it your debt?  Make it a challenge to take on no more debt and to get rid of the debt weighing heavily on your shoulders.  Is it a child who causes a lot of trouble all day long?  Make it a challenge to channel his/her energy into creative and constructive outlets.  Is it your messy house?  Set a timer during nap time for 20 minutes and see how much cleaning you can get done in that short amount of time.  

How are you going to conquer the challenge in your life?  I'd love to hear about it!


Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Recipe - Layered Tostada Bake

This is a recipe from my mom.  It's easy, very tasty, and a crowd pleaser!  


Layered Tostada Bake
Grease a 11x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 350.  This recipe has three layers: 1. Crust 2. Meat and bean mixture 3. Topping
 
Crust:
Mix 1 egg, 1 cup Bisquick, 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1/4 cup milk, and 2 T vegetable oil.  Beat by hand for 30 seconds.  Spread dough in baking dish.

Meat and Bean Layer:
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
1 can 8 oz tomato sauce
1 can 16 oz refried beans
1 can 4 oz diced green chilies
1 can sliced olives
Cook ground beef and onions until brown.  Drain.  Stir in seasoning mix, tomato sauce, beans, chilies, and olives.  Spread it in the pan over the crust.

Topping: 
Mix 1 cup sour cream, 1 egg, and 2 cups cheese together.  Spread over the meat and bean layer.  

Bake for 30-45 minutes.  Let stand about 10 minutes before serving.  Serve with salsa and chopped lettuce.  It is really tasty :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Goals in Parenting

Parenting is really hard.  

And parenting well is a serious challenge.

For about six months now, parenting my oldest (3 1/2 year old girl) has been really tough. There has been a steady pattern of her testing us and pushing at her boundaries.  Don't get me wrong, overall she is a joy and delight.  But she can sin just as well as the next kid. 

Easy (but wrong) thing to do when problems come up?
- Give in to the constant disobedience.
- Ignore the testing and trying attitudes
- Get mad blow up at said child

Hard thing to do?
- Train my little one in the way she should go, over and over and over again...
- Encourage, stay calm and have patience
- Brain storm, ask advice, PRAY for wisdom, and try different techniques to solve the problem.

I have done all of the above in the past 6 months.  I've done the good things and the bad things.   In fact, I did all the bad parent things yesterday before 2pm.  Sigh.

After feeling discouraged, I sat down and wrote a list titled, My goals in parenting. Then I wrote another list titled, Ways to achieve these goals.  Seeing my goals of parenting written down before me was really healthy and encouraging.  There were some obvious changes to make, and some things that I can be proud of.  What struck me the most was seeing that if I want to teach a certain aspect of life, I realized once again that I need to be living accordingly.  

When I realize what I am working so hard to accomplish as a parent, it is a lot easier to have patience in the hard moments. When I see the finish line, it is easier to discipline with love and patience. It becomes worth it to be consistent each day.  

So if you, like me, have been feeling frustrated and exhausted in your parenting, sit down and make a list. Figure out what is most important for you and your family, and then do what it takes to accomplish those goals. Be honest and make the changes necessary.

And don't be too hard on yourself because parenting is really hard.


What are some of your goals?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Homemaker Tip-Organization

Last week we organized our kitchens, this week we're on to bathrooms!

This is the most organized medicine cabinet I have ever seen. I don't know about you guys, but ours is always a mess. I am constantly pulling something off of a shelf only to have 3 things I don't need fall into the sink. I may have to try this one! A couple of the things I really like are the hooks on the door, not only would you always know where your scissors or tweezers are, it would also keep those things out of your kids reach! Here is a little snippet that came with the picture that helps explain the process..

Make the most of a tight space with these easy tricks. Have galvanized metal cut to fit the back of the cabinet and inside the door (you can get it pre-cut at Home Depot..make sure edges are filed so you don't cut yourself). Adhere metal with caulk. (If your mirror has clips, loosen them, and slide the metal behind them.) Attach magnetized hooks, a notepad holder for brushes and combs, and spice canisters for hair elastics and barrettes (SO great..I am always looking for mine!). Group like items in votive holders and small acrylic boxes; double surface space with acrylic risers.

How cool is this? I think it's pretty amazing..so organized and so pretty!
This is a cool idea that Bryan and I actually stole a couple years ago. Bryan actually easily built and painted ours. We use them more for decoration than to store things but either way you do it is great! I'm sure IKEA has something similar as well.(Alison?)
Here's a fun way to store towels. Hang bathroom towels from the rungs of a progressive or apple-picking ladder propped against a wall. To prevent the ladder from slipping, attach rubber tips made for chair legs to the ladder's feet. Secure the top to the wall with hooks and eyes.
Here is an easy and attractive way to store shampoo, conditioner and body washes. These small containers look nicer than store bought containers and they take up less room, storing nicely in storage devices like this one. Identify bottles with laminated labels, adding either the names of family members who use them or listing the contents.

ps. to go with last weeks kitchen organization post, one thing I forgot to add is that I have started using clothes pins (yes, the "old fashioned" kind) as clips to close any kind of bag in the kitchen. I use them on pasta bags, for spices, for things in the freezer, fridge, etc. They are great and they take up a lot less room than those big bulky chip clips and they hold things closed a lot better than twisty ties. I know that you can buy plastic ones as well, the ones I use are just some old ones my mom gave me! You should try them.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Roses or Thorns

The thing I am dreading this week is actually happening today! Luke has his 1 year check up and so far in his life, the doctor's office hasn't been the happiest place for us so I get really anxious every time we have to go. Peyton was always so healthy and had the easiest appointments, shots weren't fun but she was always fine after about 20 seconds. With Luke it is a little different.

The positive side of this is that once it's over, we won't have to go again (Lord willing) until I think 18 months?! And, I get to ask a couple questions about his food allergies that I have been wanting to ask for a while now.

What are you dreading this week and what is the positive side of it??

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Weekend Challenge

Well, for those of us in the Pacific NW, the rainy season is lurking right around the corner.  And though it makes for a beautiful green landscape (and a green lawn for those of us who didn't water over the summer), it also makes forlot of time indoors.  


But the rain has not yet started, and so here's the weekend challenge.  Take the family somewhere outside to do something active and fun!  Enjoy the 70 degree weekend (or whatever weather your climate brings)!


Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Recipe -Chicken & Red Pepper Burritos

I got this recipe from a cook book called Quick and Healthy.  I am always on a quest to feed my family healthy, and quick is my middle name.  Needless to say, this recipe book is right up my alley.  


I made some changes to this recipe, so I will post what you are suppose to do, and what I did in parenthesis.  Does anyone else out there alter every recipe possible?  Anyways, here it is...

Chicken and Red (green) Pepper Burritos
1/2 lb. chicken, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 red bell pepper (a whole green pepper)
2 T chopped onion
1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. dried cilantro (1 T. fresh cilantro)
1/2 tsp. dried basil (1/2 T. fresh basil)
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tomato, diced
2 oz. cheddar cheese
4 flour tortillas

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray skillet with non-stick cooking spray.  
2.  Over medium heat, saute chicken, bell pepper, onion, garlic and seasonings until chicken is cooked.  Mix in tomatoes and cheese, stir until cheese melts.
3.  Spoon filling into each tortilla.  Roll tightly and place seam side down in 8x8 baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
4.  Bake 15 minutes, until heated through.  
(5.  Top each with a dollop of sour cream)


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Let's start over

The other day, my three year old and I were battling it out. The argument we were having was so ridiculous, and she was crying about everything. It was a lose-lose situation and I didn't even know what to say or do next. I was beside myself, and she was balling her eyes out at anything I said. Out of ideas, I sent her to her room.


I had no idea what I was going to do, how I was going to fix this problem, and what to say. I waited a couple minutes and then walked into her bedroom. 

She was crying in the corner behind her desk.  My sweet girl looked so sad. 

I called her over, and said, "Do you want to just start over?" 

She gave a half smile and quietly said, "ya." We went back to the living room and started the whole interaction over. It went much much better the second time around.  We both needed to forget about the past and press on. 

It made me think about how often we all need a second chance. A clean start is so valuable. Sometimes when we are deep in our sin, we feel trapped and feel that we can only go deeper in the wrong direction.  (That is just what Jenna and I were doing - both getting deeper and deeper in our sins.)  Thankfully, by the grace of God we can start over, forgetting the past and pressing on toward Christ.  If we believe and take God up on His promise that he cleans us white as snow, and that his mercies are new every morning, then we really can have a clean start. We are not trapped in our sinful ways. Just because we yelled at our kids yesterday or were rude to the insurance lady on the phone, or snapped at dear husband doesn't mean that we must continue that pattern. Believe in His grace and mercy, and act upon His forgiveness!  

Sometimes we just need to start over.  And we need to give those around us the chance to start over too.

"The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:19-23


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Homemaker Tip-Organization

I was inspired by Martha Stewart's website to do some organization posts. So, I will be using pictures from her website (because they are so simple and pretty like all things Martha) but adapting them to things I am doing in my own home or hope to do in my home some day.

This week we will start with organizing your kitchen. If you are anything like me you lack the space you need to fit all the necessary kitchen items along with all of those cups, plates, bowls and silverware for your kids! There is never enough space and it's hard to know how best to arrange everything. Sometimes the most simple changes end up making the biggest difference.

This is such a simple concept. Put your dish washing soap in a pretty glass container like one of these (we bought one at Bed, Bath & Beyond) and then you don't have to shove it under your sink making it hard to find each time you need it. It's so pretty that you leave it out for all to see which makes it convenient to use each day.
I recently did this. I took all of my small baking ingredients (baking powder, soda, vanilla, cocoa, cream of tartar, etc.) and put them in a wire basket that Bryan had in the garage (or use a pretty Martha type tray like this one). That way, every time you go to bake anything you know right where all of your ingredients are and you just slide the whole tray off of the shelf. The lip on this one is nice because it will catch any spills!

I really like this idea but I have no where to put it:) If you have a lack of cabinet space and some extra wall space, this is perfect for you. Hang a handrail and get some "s" hooks and you can hang your pots, pans, colander and anything else..even large utensils would be great!
I love this idea.

This is a cool idea for the lids to your pots and pans. I am always digging for mine! Put a wooden peg rack and set it in one of your cabinets arranging your lids smallest to largest right there next to your pots and pans. So simple but so helpful.
I really like this idea and I'm going to keep my eye out for some cute, cheap trays! Arrange them around your sink for storing sponges and soaps. This keeps everything out of your sink and right there when you need them! You may even have some old soap trays or other trays around that will work.
I hope some of these have inspired you the way they have inspired me! Next week's room...the BATHROOM! Stay tuned

Monday, September 15, 2008

Roses or Thorns

Lately the thorns in my side have been related to finances. Here is something I am dreading this week along with the positive side of it.

Thorn: Making a specific financial decision in the next couple days....why is it that MAKING the decision is so hard when....

Rose: Either outcome to my decision is good. A) If I choose one way, I get to do something fun. or B) If I choose the other, I get to save some money:)

What is something you are not particularly looking forward to doing this week?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Weekend Challenge

I know that Faith and I are always very encouraged by your comments.  I love them all - ones that are from friends, from strangers, from strange friends...  


Anyways, the challenge this weekend is to comment on every blog you visit!  Be encouraging, be funny, comment short, comment long, just comment!  

I want to be better at commenting on every blog I read.  It only takes a moment and in a way it keeps me accountable (meaning I don't want to be on the internet too much so if you see my comments everywhere, confront me!  Tell me to get off the computer and to start paying attention to my kids!  Just kidding, I do most all my inter-netting at night.)  Anyways, that's the weekend challenge, if you choose to accept it.  

You can start by leaving a comment right here.  Look to your immediate left and tell us what you see.  That's easy enough, huh!

(I see a picture that my daughter drew of her daddy.  It is taped to the computer cabinet door.  She drew him in green, with huge eyes, a long mouth, and no legs.  It was one of her first stick figure drawings and he taped it up right away.  I guess I could just show you the picture...)


(She always asks me to accessorize her stick figures. 
Here I added the eye balls, the hair and Blazers hat)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Recipe-Italian Penne Bake

I thought I would start with a family friendly recipe. My almost 4 year old daughter loves this dish as well as my husband and I. It is easy, fills you up, yummy with garlic bread, good left over and easy to make ahead of time and freeze. Hope you enjoy it!

Italian Penne Bake
4 servings

1 1/2 c dried penne
1/2 c sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 c quartered, thinly sliced onion
1 medium green or red sweet pepper cut into thing, bite-size strips
3 oz. sliced pepperoni or Canadian-style bacon, cut up
1 1/2 t bottled minced garlic (I use fresh garlic)
1 1/2 t olive oil or cooking oil
1 1/2 c marinara pasta sauce
2/3 c shredded Italian blend cheese

Lightly coat a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain well. Return pasta to saucepan. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook mushrooms, onion, sweet pepper, pepperoni, and garlic in hot oil for 3 minutes. Add vegetable mixture and marinara sauce to pasta; toss to coat. Spread pasta mixture evenly in prepared baking dish. Bake, covered in a 350 degree oven about 25 minutes or until heated through. Uncover and sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, about 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Encouragement

A post from fellow blogger Allison McKenney...

"The glass is either half full, or half empty."

Heard it a million times.

Macy's glass is full to the rim, and thankfully, her fullness runs over to me sometimes.

Example.

Half empty: summer's OVER as in bye-bye summer... won't see you again for many, many long months...sob...sob...

Half full: technically, it's STILL summer...technically. And besides, the sun is shining, we're warm...

I'm totally taking advantage of the last week and a 1/2 of summer. When Ava's taking her afternoon nap, Macy and I take books galore and a blanket outside in the backyard and read until Ava wakes up. Macy is fully capable of reading the books to herself, but I'm reading them to her, and she corrects me if I make an error - just love that! Ha! I am so thankful for this precious time with my sweet girl.

Today, my glass is definitely half full. Thank-you, Macy.

Note from Faith: I just thought this was such a sweet story of a mother's pure love for her eldest daughter that is growing up before her eyes. A sweet reminder to stop and spend intentional time with our kids. I was encouraged by it, I hope you were as well. Thank you Allison for letting me share!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Homemaker Tip - Coupons

The tip for this week has to do with cutting coupons.  I used to think that using coupons actually makes you spend more money because the name brand item with coupon still costs more than the generic brand.  This can be true, but there are also lots of ways to use coupons in your advantage.  For tons of details about this, go to this site called Money Saving Mom.  But I caution you, this can be complicated and a little exhausting.  If you are up for the challenge, go for it!  I love the challenge, and I love saving money :)  Remember to use integrity, be honest, and save some money for your family!

Here's my coupon craziness revealed!

Now for some practical tips for the casual coupon clipper:
1.  Clip coupons for the things that you always buy anyways, for example Ritz Crackers.  Those generic just crumble!  So if you see a coupon, clip it and use it.  
2.  Don't forget to give the cashier your coupons.  If you don't use them often, you just may forget to pull them out!  If you are like me and do forget (I tend to remember as I am walking out of the store), head over to customer service with your receipt and coupons.  They will refund the money in cash.  
3.  Look through the ads and combine great saving ads with coupons you have.  For example, if a store is selling Cheerios, 4 boxes for $8, and you have a couple of $1 off one box coupons, use one coupon per box you buy, save $4 dollars and get each box of Cheerios for $1!!  Those type of deals come more often than you may realize.
4.  You can print out coupons online for many different items.  Click here for a great list of coupons to print.  But take caution, some stores such as Winco don't accept printed coupons.

I hope that helps you save some money for your family!  What money saving tips do you have regarding coupons?  Are there any websites that you love that help you save money?  Please share!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Roses and Thorns

Is the cup half empty or half full?

Are you sad that there are thorns on your rosebushes or happy that there are roses on your thornbushes?

I was really encouraged by the comments you left on this post and hope to do the same thing on a regular basis. Are you dreading something this week or this fall? Share what you are dreading (the thorn) and share the positive (the rose) about it.

I will go first:
I am not looking forward to setting up a weekly cleaning schedule for myself. But I am glad that this will mean a cleaner house on a regular basis!

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4

"Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!" Psalm 106:1

Friday, September 5, 2008

Thanks!

Thanks to those who have stuck with us through the slow-posting summer months! The real fun begins next week with a new schedule of posts, new contests, new recipes, new tips, lots of encouragement, and much more!

I leave you with a challenge for the weekend. Find a creative way to encourage and love your husband (or good friend if you aren't married).  Share what you are going to do, what you did, or what you have done in the past to creatively love and encourage your honey. Have a great weekend and see you Monday!