Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rollups and menu post

I like easy things I can fix for lunch. Wraps, sandwiches, leftovers, something quick to fix, but also filling. So, when I got this recipe from The Pioneer Woman last week, I instantly wanted to try it.

I love rollups! And yes, I do love the fruit kind, but I'm not talking about that here. These are tortilla rollups, and the thing I love most about them is you can put just about anything in them, healthy or not-so-healthy. You know me, I love something that's versatile and easy (and can either be healthy or delightfully calorie-filled)!

First, I used the Mission Artisan Multigrain tortillas. I have yet to make my own tortillas, but I will do it someday!

I got started chopping fresh parsley and basil to go in the cream cheese spread and mixing it in...


And spreading it on...

And putting it together....

I put turkey, tomatoes and spinach leaves on mine. I wanted to slice up a green pepper and put it on there also, but I couldn't find it...and incidentally it ended up being right in front of my face. I didn't find that out until after I made it, though. The story of my the kitchen. Where did this go? Oh yes, there it is...hours after I need it.

First of all, I have decided that I hate chopping fresh herbs and I have no idea why anyone would ever do it. Second of all, the rollup wasn't very good. I think the error was in the cream cheese spread because it just didn't taste right. I am more than completely sure that it was something I did wrong, because cream cheese spreads are usually good. Maybe I'll try this again a different way, although I'm not sure. It was an awful lot of work (chopping, mixing, etc) for it not to turn out well.

What are we eating this week?

Homemade pizza

Ross and I are going out for our anniversary, so we're doing something easy before we leave: Roast beef sandwiches and roasted veggies

We're having a cookout earlier in the day at my aunt's, so for dinner, I wanted to go easy: (Local) Beef stroganoff and bread

Chicken pasta pesto (bumped from last week) & spinach salad

Steaks and baked potatoes

Beef stew over rice

Possibly group night? Or something easy

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New toys!

Men love their toys, right? We've heard this over and over, and for any woman who's been married longer than five minutes, we've seen this in action. They love gadgets, electronics, and if they're able, sometimes that includes even big toys (boats, RVs, whatever does it for them). But girls, let's not fool ourselves. Men are not the only ones who have this problem. We love our toys too. 

Right? It may look a little different than what the men love, but we have our little things that make us giddy too. Maybe it's a kitchen gadget, a new tool to straighten or curl your hair, something to make your life easier?  I have a long wish list of "toys" that I would like to have someday, but for today, I wanted to share a few of my favorite toys that I've gotten recently that I love.

First, this knife:

My sweet husband knows how I've been desperately needing a new slicer, and because he loves me, he got me a super slicer by Wusthof. And let me tell you, the term "super slicer" doesn't do this thing justice. It is definitely super, and slices so clean...I am in love. (I will also *cough* mention that it slices so well, even through skin, and I have a cut already to prove this, ouch!)

And my second relatively new toy:

The Shark Navigator I've had several months to use this and I still love it. It has kept me from hating vacuuming, in fact, I've even started to like it a little. That alone deserves recognition right there. 

And I thought I would give this a try:

I like it okay, but honestly I don't know if I really like it any better than the other normal dishwasher detergent. I do like that it doesn't have a scent, and it does clean my dishes really well.

While I'm on the subject of house things, I am on the lookout for a decent mopping system, with natural products (like vinegar) that don't cost a ton and doesn't use the spongey type mops. Any suggestions? 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Short ribs and menu post

If you've never tried short ribs, you are missing out. Big time. I have cooked short ribs a few times now and every time, I fall in love even more. I would have never even thought about buying that kind of meat if it weren't for The Pioneer Woman, so I will be forever grateful to her.

I tried a new recipe for short ribs this week and while it was a flop, the meat still was tender and yummy. My favorite way to cook them is in tomato sauce for several hours in the oven and pour that over linguine noodles. However, I cooked short ribs and chicken that way one too many times and Ross has forbidden me to ever even think about making that for the next year or so. There are some really fabulous short ribs recipes out there (a list of great ones HERE), and The Frugal Girl just posted one HERE. However you cook them though, whether grilled, baked, braised, whateva, you will be a happy camper...if meat is your thing (which, of course, it is mostly definitely my thing), then you will love this.

What are we eating this week?

Fish and roasted zucchini, broccoli and cabbage (bumped from last week)

Crockpot lasagna (bumped from last week)

Pork chops and beans & cornbread

Homemade pizza

Going to my Mama's for a little Memorial Day celebratin' with burgers on the grill (is there anything yummier than burgers on the grill?!)

Chicken pasta pesto and bread

Small group, easy dinner night

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fun things

Do you know what magazine I love these days? Highlights. Yes, I love a preschoolers magazine. My sweet sister got my boys a subscription to this magazine as a gift, and they love it! Jude loves just about anything I read to him, but even I like this magazine.

There's tons of pictures, reading in Spanish, picture finding games, learning about all sorts of different things, crafts to do, it's really great. I don't even know what the cost is, but I am really glad my kids get this every month.

We have been doing less formal learning and more life learning, just learning as we go about our lives. I do think that things kids learn in preschool is important, but for now, we are just sticking to free play at home and on field trips with our friends, hands on science stuff in the backyard playing with bugs, running around outside and doing lots of reading, oh and music. Who can forget about music?

The kids' new favorite musician is Michael Jackson. Random, I know. But as far as kids go, they have pretty good taste in music and I am totally on board with their recent interest in MJ. His old stuff is great and watching him dance in videos from the 80s and early 90s leaves me in awe.

With the temperatures rising and summer right around the corner, I suspect we'll be doing a lot of outside watery type things, and cookouts. Cookouts are always fun. I am going to try to think of more intentional ways for our family to spend time doing things together and with others. I really love THIS idea. Simple and fun!

What about you, what fun summer type things will you be doing this year?

Friday, May 18, 2012


The last few months have been a hard road. It's still hard, even right now, and most days, I am weighed down with discouragement. But the latter part of this week, something changed in me. 

Today I am grateful and hopeful. Grateful for the things that are currently going on in our life and hopeful about our future, even though it is unknown. 

Today, my heart is light and not heavy for once. I am grateful for sweet friends, for visits to the library and nature center with friends, and for words of strength from those closest to me.

Today I am encouraged. I see my boys' hearts changing. They are more caring, more loving, more sharing. I am letting go of the guilt that comes with being a mom, the feeling of inadequacy and feeling like I am constantly failing at it. I am surrendering that lie, that struggle. I feel that I am a better mom for it.

Today I love my husband. I love him every day, but I am just thinking of how hard of a worker he is for us, and much strength, love and silliness he brings to my life. I am a blessed lady.

And even though my house is messy, my life is completely out of control at this time, I am exhausted and discouragement is trying to fight its way to the top of me, I am choosing joy. 

And hey, it's Friday! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stroganoff and menu post

I am a day off on my menu is extra extra busy these days. I wanted to share a recipe with you that was originally given to me by a friend of mine and regiven to me by my sister last week. I had received this meal from a friend when Ezra had just been born, and for some reason, thought Ross didn't like it. So, I never made it.

My parents came last weekend and I couldn't think of anything else, so I whipped it up for them, and I have to say, it was really yummy! And easy. Easy and yummy are my two favorite things! Even Ross liked it, and he is hard to please when it comes to cooking. :)

I did add the local beef that I bought from the farmer's market last weekend, which also makes me super happy (but the price had gone up from last year, which is a bummer. I still think the beef is worth it, though!)

HERE is the recipe.

Now for our menu:

We're just going to have leftovers tonight, and I may cook up some sides to go with them.

Steaks and baked potatoes (or pork chops, depends on how I am feeling!)

Homemade pizza

Breakfast for dinner

Homemade chicken pot pie

Grilled fish & veggies

Small group night

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Great reminder for me today

We've been sticking close to home lately. Not for any particular reason, other than I have 450 billion things to do, and most of them are things I have to do at home, so staying home makes sense. Life has been a bit hard lately, and I'm finding myself wishing there were more hours in the day.

I have been stretched further these last few weeks than I ever thought possible. I will have to save the details of that for another post, but stressful, yet extremely faith-building, is how the past few months have been. It's not been easy, or particularly fun, but in times when I want to give up, curl up in a ball and cry myself to sleep, I remember the verses in James that talk about persevering under trials, that how perseverance produces maturity...and in Psalms, how God is our refuge and strength. I cling to these truths so many times a day when I want to give up and throw the towel in.

I read this awesome blog called Chatting At the Sky and the writer is gifted, after all, she is a published writer. She says these things that breathe small breaths of life into my day when I need it the most. This is what I needed to hear today:

"1. Remember that productivity is not your god

We need to recognize our own uselessness sometimes. And not just recognize it and know it’s there, but actually live it. To still the hands and close the eyes and know that really, we have nothing to offer alone. If we are unable to still and to close, sometimes the Lord is gracious to quiet us on his own terms in the form of a useless day. It seems a waste to me, but I believe he loves me enough to spend a whole day reminding me that productivity is not my god."

I struggle with this so often. I want to be productive, feel productive, and so much of my joy and life is wrapped up in whether I got all of my things done for that day. When I'm not productive and haven't gotten anything done, I am sad, joyless, and I feel like that day is pointless. I need to be reminded that that is not true! Productivity is not my god.

Lately, it feels like I'm struggling just to make it through each day, much less get anything on my list done. Its in my weaknesses where I am able to rely on God the most, and that is exactly where I need to be.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mommies day!

This mother's day I am meditating on these words:

Proverbs 6: 20-23
My son, obey your father’s commands,
    and don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
21 Keep their words always in your heart.
    Tie them around your neck.
22 When you walk, their counsel will lead you.
    When you sleep, they will protect you.
    When you wake up, they will advise you.
23 For their command is a lamp
    and their instruction a light;
their corrective discipline
    is the way to life.

I have been reflecting about my own instruction given to me by my own mother, and the instruction I want to pass onto my children. Not just a bunch of dos and don'ts rules, but a way of life. Instruction that will lead my children, protect them, advise them and will stay with them all of their days. One day, I pray my children will rise up and call me blessed. 

I am so grateful to my own mother, for her instruction and unfailing sacrifice, past and present. For my sister, who is one of the best moms I know, who spurs me on to be a better mother, wife and woman. For my mother-in-law, who gives me words of strength when I need them the most. For my grandmother, who always shows she cares and always wants to know how we are doing. For my grandmothers-in-law for always making me feel like a part of the family and not one that I married into...and all of my mama-friends who have given me advice, listened to me cry out in frustration and modeled what true motherhood is all about...I thank you all. 

Happy Mother's Day, friends! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Local milk and menu post

Does anyone know what this is? Something I am very, very excited about. My sister and I went to the Farmer's Market in Arlington last Saturday, and guess what I found?

That's right...local milk, baby.

I have been wanting to try milk from a local dairy for months now. Our Farmer's Market didn't carry this last year (here's to hoping they have it this year!), and I'd given up hope of ever finding some to try. I'm sure there's some around here somewhere, but was unlucky in my search.

So, I paid the ridiculous amount of money, brought it home, took a swig and fell in love.

Yes, it really is that good. The only way I can describe it is, the milk is way smoother tasting than mass produced milk. They even have fat free, 2%, whole milk and chocolate milk! Too bad the milk is in Memphis, otherwise I might have to become a frequent customer! Now, this is not to be confused with raw milk. I've never tried raw milk, but I've known people who have. This is pasteurized, but I'm guessing it's way less processed than mass produced milk. But who knows. All I know is that is tastes like heaven, folks.

Now for our menu for the week!

Broccoli & potato soup (bumped from last week)

Steaks & baked potatoes (this keeps getting bumped)

Chicken & spinach quesadillas

Since this is Mother's Day, I'm doing myself a favor and not cooking. So, it may be an eat-out night!

Homemade pizza

Something with the local beef I'm going to buy at the Farmer's Market on Saturday

Small group night, will take something

Go try some local milk, peoples! Especially if you live in Memphis or Arlington. Yum!!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

A bunch of stuff

Some people think that healthier is always harder. I used to be one of them. I’m not sure why that has been taught to us, or why we have preconceived ideas that healthier is better, but it’s not near as fun, good or easy as unhealthy things. Why do we think this? Marketing? The invention of the tv dinner? Somewhere along the way, we were told a lie and that lie has stuck with us.

Now, in some cases, healthier is a little harder. It does take a little more research, sometimes more time, but not in all cases. Through trial and error, I’ve learned a few things that have worked for our family and made me a really happy mama.

These things I cook/do on a regular basis:

Pancake/waffle mix:
This is super duper easy. I’m not sure why premade mixes were ever invented. They cost extra and have weird ingredients and preservatives. If you have flour, eggs, milk, baking powder and soda, and any kind of extras you want in your cupboards, throwing a pancake batter together is just as easy as using a mix.

Homemade granola: Please don’t ever buy already made granola again. For way cheaper than granola bars or cereal, you can make your own and it’s so much better.

Muffins: I'm not really a baker, but my kids love these. Cooking bacon in the oven: SO much simpler and cleaner than frying it in the frying pan...and pretty tasty too!

Smoothies: I'm sure you all know by now how easy it is to make a smoothie, but I had to add it anyway!

Homemade cornbread: This is so much easier than I thought it would be. And pretty delish too!

Things I've mentioned before, like Homemade laundry detergent: This takes a little more time, but not much...and my laundry has never been cleaner. I’m so in love with my laundry regimen I could cry.
Easier cleaning methods: With baking soda, vinegar, Borax. Easy, cheap and efficient. Facial cleansing: I've posted about this before. So easy and great for my face!

Things that are a little harder, but totally worth the effort:

Homemade bread: One word - Y.U.M.

Local honey, local beef, farm fresh eggs: These things take a little time to go and get (you can’t just get them at the local Wal-Mart), but I love local beef so much that I would miss it if it weren’t a part of my life (and it’s not right now, which makes me very sad).

Farmer’s Market shopping: Even though this is a little harder than running to your local grocery store, the fresh produce and other yummy things you can find are worth it...and you’re supporting local farmer’s too, which I think is pretty fabulous.

Homemade Jam: Okay, I can't really say I've ever done this right. Every time I've done it, it's turned out way too runny. But, if you can do it right, its so good and way healthier than store-bought (even if there's a ton of sugar in it).

Reducing paper waste: Not using paper towels is a bit of a transition, but I'm glad we are done with them.

Using resuable bags at the grocery: I have to remember to take them in and put them back in the car, but I feel better about reducing the amount of plastic we bring in.

Things that I thought I would like doing, but have been a big fat FAIL. 

Popping our own popcorn: Actually, Ross tried this and the popcorn was gross. I know it's supposed to be healthier than popcorn in the bag, but I couldn't make the trade. 

Hair washing: Trying to give up shampoo fared horribly for me. Enough said.

Things I would like to do someday:

Own my own chickens: I want my own eggs, people. But, it costs a little more than we can spare at the moment. And for now, I have a sweet friend who gives me eggs from her chickens sometimes.

Have a garden: Oh, how I have dreams about growing my own veggies and gardening with my children...someday people...someday!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pork Loin and menu post

Last week we had some friends over for dinner. As I was trying to plan the dinner, I was trying to think of meals that everyone loves. I went through soups, stews, spaghetti, chicken, blah blah blah. My husband is very picky. As I thought What is a meal that everyone loves to eat? What is a meal that my husband loves to eat? It came to me.

Pork loin.

But honestly, I'd never cooked my own pork loin. We'd always done the preseasoned ones that you just throw in the oven, wrapping and all. But I had to get one big enough to feed everyone, and those preseasoned ones are tiny. So, I did some research and got my game plan together. (I love a new cooking challenge, by the way!)

First I brined it for 6 or so hours. Mainly because I only had 6 hours. If you have longer, 12-24, do that. It'll be tastier and juicier. For the brine recipe, I got out my stock pot, put about a gallon or more of water in it, turned the burner on high and then added a lot of salt, some pepper, some rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and sugar. You know I don't measure anything, so feel free to wing it. I boiled that for 15 minutes or so, then took it off the burner to let it cool. You're supposed to let it cool completely, but I didn't have time, so I popped the hunk of meat and brine in a very large bowl, covered it and put it in the fridge.

When it came time to cook it, I turned on the oven, put the hunk-o-meat in a roasting pan with some of the brine juices and started cutting slits in it. Then I rubbed a store-bought "rub" all over it and in the slits, but you can make your own rub if you so desire. I just happened to have some in my spice cabinet. Then I roasted it in the oven for 2 hours at, I honestly can't remember if the oven temp was at 350 or 400.

The meat was so juicy and tasted delish! And I was happy that it tasted good, you never know how something is going to turn out the first time you cook it! Ultimately though, it blessed our friends, and that is what really matters. We had great company and conversation, and I was glad they came.

And now for our meals this week:

Almost lasagna

I will be off playing with my sister this night, so Ross and the boys are on their own. So probably Roman noodles, or maybe oatmeal. :)

Infamous homemade pizza

Chicken wraps and mac n cheese

Potato & broccoli soup with homemade cornbread and salad

Pork chops, corn and baked potatoes

Small group night, will take something

Disclaimer and Copyright

All information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Whether you try any of my methods or ideas is totally up to you. I am in no way saying you should do everything the way I do, every family is different and you should find out what's best for yours. I would, however, be delighted if you tried some new things in your own lives (whether be my ideas, your own, or someone else's), and shared it with me.

Also, you may use any of the content of this blog for your own personal use, but please do not take the ideas on my blog and claim them as your own. You may link back to my site with proper credit. This is much appreciated.

Helpful Sites

The Frugal Girl (frugality, repurposing, etc)

The Pioneer Woman (recipes)

MCP Actions (photography, PS/PSE actions)

Coffeeshop Blog (photography, digital design and PS freebies)

Digital Photography School (photography)