Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thankful Thursday

He walked in the front door with the mail clenched in his fist, as he had done every day for the past 2 weeks.  This time it was different- a check had finally come.  A tinge of relief shone on his face but with the burden of our past due bills and the mortgage looming on the horizon, he could not fully rest his mind yet.  This check, which was billed out for over two months ago, would not be enough.  But it was something.

I continued about my tasks in the kitchen, thankful but not overcome with peace, until the gasp of shock emerged from his lips and I looked up to see his mouth agape and his eyes wide.  This was not the past due check we had been waiting and praying on.  This was a check that he had only billed out for a mere few weeks ago and its total was almost three times that of the other check we had been waiting on.

This was relief.

This was elatement.

This was seeing God tangibly provide.  While we had been scurrying around to contact the bank and fret over how we would even eat, He knew all along what was going to happen and had it all under control.

While the fretting was obviously unnecessary and not what He wants for us, I somehow think that the steps we made to contact the bank were the right thing for us to do.  I think that by doing so we were able to say, "Alright God- we have explored every avenue.  We have done our part.  We haven't just sat idly by waiting for a miracle, even though we are praying for one.  Now, however you are going to work it out, work it out.  There is literally nothing more we can do."  We did all that we humanly could.  We were given no option at that point to do anything but put the rest in His hands.  And He cam through.  At the last possible minute- when we had nothing left.  He said, "I haven't forgotten about you."

He did it.  He took care of us at one of our lowest lows.  So, why in the world was one of the first questions that uncontrollably left my lips, "But what about next month?"  Sheesh!  In the midst of the lesson, in the midst of Him coming through and giving us just enough, just in time, I worry about tomorrow and want just a little bit more.

Luckily I immediately caught myself- or maybe that little voice saying, "you're missing the point..." wasn't mine at all.  He wanted to come through for us.  He wanted to show us He has the power and the ability to take care of us.  And more importantly, I think, He wanted us to trust Him.  To really believe what He says.  To rest in Him.  He wanted us to truly experience the peace that passes all understanding.  And just to make sure we keep this lesson fresh in our minds and hearts, He only gave us just enough.  He wants us to keep resting in, relying on and trusting Him.

So, today I'm resting and trusting.  Don't get me wrong- I'll be praying too, for much is still unknown (to us) and next month's bills will eventually come, but today, I'm remembering that He has not forgotten me and my little family.

...thankfulness continued...

#11.  an unexpected check

#12.  little boys who love to snuggle

#13.  playhouse disney, cause sometimes mama needs a shower and a break

#14.  creative outlets

#15.  warm fall days

#16.  the hope for change on the horizon

#17.  open windows accompanied by a cool breeze

#18.  country drives

#19.  chocolate

#20.  friends who check on you and genuinely want to help

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Top Ten Places I'm finding Inspiration

We might be moving- Lord willing.  We are on the verge of a potentially life-altering change.  It's all a pretty big deal and a little all consuming at the moment.  I hope to have more to inform you guys about it soon, but for now all of your prayers would be hugely appreciated!

So, in light of this possible move I have been thinking a LOT about decorating!  The home we live in now is small, comfy and completely remodeled, but it just isn't quite my style.  For starters, the main remodel was done by my husband and his parents before we were together, with the idea of flipping or renting.  they used a lot of neutral vinyl wall covering (aka- the entire main floor) so I haven't been able to add color and hang things on the walls as I would have liked.

In addition, the decorating I have done happened mostly right after we got married, nearly seven years ago.  I was 19 and didn't know enough about my personal style to really create an amazing space.  I was coming out of my teenage obsession with all things leopard and really didn't know what to do with a whole house.  So I followed the neutral theme that was set before me.  Since then I have changed the curtains and a few little accessories to start reflecting the personal style I have developed, but the funds haven't really been there to do anything major and there has always been that thought that we would hopefully move soon so why go bonkers?!

Now though, the possibilities seem endless!  So here is where I have been getting the majority of my inspiration:

1. This kitchen from Sarah's House (if you haven't seen this show in HGTV you HAVE to- especially the farm house season!).

2. This kitchen posted by Stephanie at Barefoot in the Kitchen!  Oh my!  Look at those floors!  And I love that there are almost only lower cabinets- it makes the space feel so much more open!

3. The Farm Chicks- she is building her house right now so I get to follow along and say "ooo- I want that too!"  She is practically decorating for me!  I really love these lighting fixtures she posted!

4. This boy bedroom from Sarah's House.  The barnwood ceiling, the light the shade of blue... amazing!

5. The Antonio Treatment- I LOVE this show! And while much of what he does is not my style, his daring work and the way he ties everything together really inspires me.

6. It's Mary Ruffle- beauty all around!  These pictures are AMAZING!

7. House of Turquoise- oh my!  My whole house might end up turquoise!

8. This paper collection by Amy Butler and K&Company!  In love!  Ok- pretty much any Amy Butler though, if I'm being serious!

9. These workspaces posted on Sew Much Ado- Especially this one!  Spot the turquoise again?

10. Decor Pad is a community I just found that is all about decorating and renovation!  Share photos, get inspired and share in the obsession!  I can tell I will be spending much more time here!  (by the way, I found them via this post from The CSI project).

What inspires your decor?  Do you feel like your house reflects who you are?

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

English Muffins!

 Oh boy- these were fun!  I used Marmee's recipe for Spelt English Muffins from her Bread Basket Cookbook, except I substituted some of my home-milled whole wheat flour (that I milled with my Nurtimill) for the spelt.  I have never tried anything like this before and I was a bit leery but they turned out so well!  I mean, look how pretty they are, puffing up on the griddle-

This recipe makes a large quantity (I think I ended up with about 40) which I love because for just a little work we will have English Muffins in our freezer for quite some time!  

We have used these for breakfasts, sandwiches and even mini-pizzas!  They are just so yummy and versatile!  I think the only thing I would do differently next time would be to make them a little bit bigger.  Oh, and I wouldn't make them on such a hot day because that griddle was on for a good amount of time!  Although, they did rise up nice and quickly with the heat!

I'm tellin' ya what though- I never would have tried to make these, especially this many, if I didn't have my trusty BOSCH Universal Plus Mixer!  Seriously, If you guys have never considered getting one of these, do yourself a favor and at least go check them out at Marmee's Bread Market!  After all, Christmas is on its way!! 

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Have you heard of her?

Apparently I am one of the very few people who hasn't heard of Ree Drummond- The Pioneer Woman, until now (or last week, actually).  If you happen to be in the same camp that I was in just a week ago (of never having heard of her) then stop what you are doing and go meet her (on her blog of course) right now.  WAIT!  I guess I mean stop what you are doing after you read about her here, then go meet her.

I believe she has the true heart of an honest to goodness blogger.  She is very real and full of character.  She single-handedly makes me give serious consideration to switching to Wordpress.

And this, oh this, is some of the absolute best blogging advice I have ever read, complete with a reference to Steel Magnolias.  And oh do I love a good movie quote.

I'll leave what I have to say about her at that and let you go discover the rest of the goodness and bounty at The Pioneer Woman yourselves.

What a find!

Yes, now you may go!  I'm done!  Scamper on now!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Works for me Wednesday- Podcasts

Lately as we have been working on Lion Cub's sleeping habits and while having lots of time with him in the bedroom I have found a wonderful way of staving off the boredom that inevitably ensues- PODCASTS!  I don't know why it took me so long to discover how wonderful they are but now that I have, I am simply in love!

My current favorite is catching up on the weekly episodes of Total Axxess- my favorite radio talk show on Way FM!  I usually only catch snippets when I am in the car but their podcast has allowed me to listen to entire shows while nursing Lion Cub or making dinner.  I also love that they cut out most of the music so what would be a 3 hour show is cut down to right around an hour!  If you haven't ever heard this show you should seriously check it out- it's hilarious!  It is just the thing to lift my spirits and give me a good laugh!

Other favorites of mine are Kay Arthur from Precept Ministries and Jon Courson from Search Light.  I have also been throwing in a sprinkling of Let's Speak Italian every here and there!

What are your favorite podcasts?

This post has been linked to Works for me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Best-Ever Banana Bread

Recently I tried out Marmee's recipe for "Best-Ever Banana Bread" from The Bread Box mini-mag, and to be honest I was hesitant of its name's bold claim because I already make the best banana bread ever :-
) ... or so I thought.  You see my recipe has shredded carrots and is gloriously delicate!  Hers, however, boasts a heap of sour cream and, according to my husband, retained a nearly decadent level of moistness that stole the title for best banana bread on his pallet! 

I must agree, this bread was moist and yummy enough to be devoured before I even got a chance to consume one piece in it's entirety!  I actually made the batter the evening before and baked it as muffins in the morning (you know how I like to prep ahead!).  See the enjoyment-

I think in the future I will actually make a hybrid of both recipes (mostly because I like having the veggie factor of adding carrots!) but it also stands incredibly well on its own.  I highly recommend it!  Plus, The Bread Box mini-mag has so many other amazing recipes in it you really can't go wrong!

Served with a hard boiled egg it was the perfect light breakfast! 
I also wanted to mention a little tip that I learned not long ago.  Since I made the batter the night before, I stored it in a zip-top bag in the fridge overnight and then simply clipped a corner off the bag to portion it into the muffin tins in the morning!  Super easy and clean!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Top Ten Monday?

Top Ten {Tuesday} 

Alright- I now that this meme is typically Top Ten Tuesday, but since I already have a regular feature on Tuesdays I thought that I would post my list on Mondays when I participate.  The silly thing is that I have been wanting to join in this meme for so long that now that I have decided to do it, I can hardly think of anything "Top Ten" worthy!

I have bounced around a lot of ideas but I think the one I have settled on is the Top Ten Things I am Thankful for.  I have been reading a lot about changing my attitude and cultivating peace and joy in my life and family, especially in light of our current circumstances (i.e. dead broke and waiting for a miracle).  So, I thought what better way to begin that journey than focusing on the things that the Lord has blessed me with?  I hope to continue this list from here, as Ann Voskamp does on A Holy Experience as well, so although this list will contain only the Top Ten things I am thankful for, and will probably seem fairly obvious, I hope to relish in the little things I am grateful for over time as well.

holy experience

#1.  Jesus My Savior.  He keeps taking me back and forgiving me.  I don't get it- I'm not worthy and He just keeps on loving me.

#2.  My kids- they drive me crazy but they also bring me the most joy.  They are beautiful and unique and my greatest pride.

#3.  My husband- some of my greatest lessons and the shaping of my character come from learning how to love my husband.

#4.  My parents- my mom is one of my very best friends and the ultimate shopping partner.  My dad gives the best hugs on the planet!

#5.  My grandma- she is always, always, ALWAYS there for me.  She doesn't judge me.  She is my biggest fan.  She sings the goofiest songs to my kids. And she makes the best popcorn balls ever!

#6.  My brother- he is at a hard place in his life but I love him any way.

#7.  My friend Sharon- she is everything you could want in a friend.  She cares deeply, listens earnestly, and loves genuinely through action and prayer.  She has been at the birth of both of my babies and was the only person to bring me a card, flowers and a meal when I lost Micah to miscarriage.  She never judges me but offers me solid, honest, Biblical advice even when its hard to take and she does so with complete love.  I am so grateful to God for placing her in my life!

#8.  The Friday-School we attend and all the ladies there.  Check this post if you want to read why.

#9.  My House- although I am often frustrated by its location, layout and size- it's ours.  We have a roof over our heads and these days that truly is something to be thankful for!

#10.  The food on our table- once again, it may seem so simple and cliche, but in a time like this when I honestly don't know how we are going to eat all week, somehow God makes a way or gives me the creativity to keep us fed.

What are you thankful for?

This post is being linked to Top Ten Tuesday at Oh Amanda!
I am also linking to Multitude Monday at A Holy Experience and will be joining the Gratitude Community.

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Meal Plan Monday on Sunday! September 19- 25

I know I've said it before, but this time we really are broke.  So much so that I really had to figure put how to feed our family this week without buying ANYTHING.  Luckily, I had a few thing in the freezer that I think I can really stretch out to keep us fat and happy, or at least satisfied!

Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese

Zuppa Toscana with Marmee's Sunday dinner rolls

Zuppa Toscana Leftovers with Marmee's Sunday dinner rolls
Roast Turkey w/ Mashed Potatoes

Turkey and Rice Soup

Turkey and Rice Soup leftovers

Turkey Pot Pie

Turkey Pot Pie

Breakfasts will be split between peanut butter & sweet potato oatmeal, cereal and eggs.

Lunches will be leftover Macaroni and Cheese followed by PB&Js with fruit or nachos the rest of the week.

Snacks will be cheese and crackers or cinnamon crescent rolls.

Beyond that- I have no idea.  We are pouring in lots of prayer that the Lord will provide both the checks that we are owed and new work for my hubs to take on!  If you need an awesome remodel- you know who to call!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

On the horizon...

I feel like I have had so much rattling around in my head lately and in all honesty have felt a bit scattered and depressed.  You those times where things just don't seem to be going quite as planned and it feels like you have nothing to grasp onto that makes sense or feels solid.  So, I have been trying to get my bearings and figure out what I'm going to do with myself.  I decided...

Step 1- run fiercely sprint to Jesus!  I need Him.  I need His words pouring into my life and I need to be engulfed by His love, His comfort, His forgiveness, His grace, His wisdom and His guidance.

Okay- next.

Let's build on that.  (wait for it...)

We are trying to get pregnant again.  There, I said it.  Some people might not like it, but guess what- it's not your life, it's mine and I don't feel done having children yet.  Am I going to ever turn into Michelle Duggar?  No.  (although I do have a deep-founded respect for her)  But, yes, I do want a bigger family than I currently have and the sooner I can get these tough baby years wrapped up, the better.

So, getting to the point.  In reflection on Lion Cub's demeanor (high-needs, fairly whiny, busy and a little... angry?) and the state I was in during my pregnancy with him (one of relatively high stress), I feel an intense need to live more peacefully.  I need to create an atmosphere of peace and kindness in my home- to my family and myself.

Now, this is a fine line for me.  I have been floundering between the two worlds of "mom's should be completely fulfilled by meeting the needs of their family- by taking care of their families they are taking care of themselves" and "mom's should ultimately put themselves first in order to be there for their families" for the last couple of years.  Honestly- both extremes leave me feeling spent and guilty for the feelings and attitudes they generate in me.  I have been having to reconcile to come to a balance between these two viewpoints and it is not easy.  I am finding though, that I truly do need to maintain my personal identity and take care of myself in order to take care of my family (emotionally, spiritually and physically) and a little bit of time to recharge my batteries and refresh can be a good and even needed thing as well.  However, none of that can come at the cost of my family.  It's all about balance and it isn't easy.

True to form- I have a plan.

Step 2 (spiritual & emotional health)- sign up for Lorrie Flem's Step Up: Attitude is Everything 6 month series.  Check!  This series was just released this week and will run through the end of February.  It is all about transforming your mind and generating the attitudes that God desires It is a total answer to prayer for me and I am so excited to commit to this journey and see the rewards it will bring.

At some friends' prompting I also plan to start attending MOPS next month and possibly another Bible study at the same church.  

Step 3 (physical health)- This may sound crazy, but for about the past 9 months or so I have been trying to gain weight.  I know, I know, what a cross to bare, right?  But in all honesty, it is a burden for me.  My weight drops very low while I am nursing and I have to make a conscious effort to consume enough calories in order to be healthy.  This is of special concern when I am trying to get pregnant (which I am), especially since I was nursing and my weight was fairly low when I had my miscarriage.  So, there's that.

Adding to that, though, I want to get in better shape without burning too many calories.  Of greatest importance is getting my abs stronger to hopefully help support the weight of a pregnancy.  I have scoliosis and pregnancy causes me a fairly great amount of back and rib pain, so I am hoping that this next time around I can alleviate some of that by strengthening my abs.

Step 4 (doing something for me)- One of my dreams is to someday be a published author, and while I see myself most likely writing a work of non-fiction many years down the road about the lessons I have learned in the trenches of motherhood (or as I often refer to them- "the research years"), I would love to have the opportunity to attempt to publish something before then.  I have trouble following through with my ideas, however, and they always end up piddling out.  So, this November I have decided to attempt NaNo WriMo (or the National Novel Writing Month Challenge).  Basically you are supposed to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1-30.  Now obviously this is a very rough first draft but it is an entire novel and quite an accomplishment if you finish!  

My goal between now and then is to come up with an outline and character sketches to work off of and then hit the ground running on November 1.  I was surprised when perusing the site to see how many people have actually gone on to have their novels published, and while I don't anticipate that happening, it is just the kick in the rear I need to get heading in the right direction!  You can be sure (unless God just puts a total kybosh on this plan) that you will be hearing much more about this in the future- especially in November!

Step 5 (improve and rest)- Save up for, arrange for, and actually attend TEACH on the BEACH March 11-13!  This is a mom's retreat (also put on by Lorrie Flem) that is all about rejuvenating and learning how to be a better wife and mom, and I need it!  I have been wanting to go since I first heard Lorrie speak last March and am determined to go to her retreat next spring.  Just knowing that it is on my calendar gives me something hopeful and meaningful to look forward to and I can't wait!  (And hey- I'm looking for some ladies to go with, so let me know if you're interested!)

Step 6 (pursuit)- Sometime within the next 8 months or so I want to take a couple of cake decorating classes at a local cake supply shop.  I am just starting to get back into the decorating arena (I used to decorate cookies professionally) and I would love to add some skills to my decorating repertoire and possibly be able to take a couple cake orders a month to help subsidize our income.  I currently have one tentative order on the books for next month, but since I am just starting out I am basically doing it for free (the cost of supplies and blog comments)!

So yeah.  That's what I'm thinking.  It feels good to see it all written down.  I am holding all of this in prayer and above all want to do what the Lord is leading me to, so I really feel that I need to remain sensitive to His call, but these are the things on my mind.

Do you have any goals right now?

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Co-op for moms

It actually isn't a co-op at all anymore.  In fact, many of us refer to it as "Jenny-School" since our lovely and sweet friend not only hosts it but teaches it and puts together all of the activities each week.  We come under the guise of having our children learn together and play but I think there is a real reason for our gathering that is less often spoken of- we want to be there.  We want to hang out and let the kids run slightly wild while we just relish in the fellowship.  It is such a sweet time to look forward to each week.

We met seldomly this summer because of vacations and activities, and I hadn't fully realized how much I missed that time until we regathered this past Friday.  By the time I left I was a little overwhelmed by the realization of what those women and the relief that comes from spending time with them, really does to me.  It is medicine for my soul.  They are such an encouraging, understanding and compassionate group of ladies.  I have joked with Jenny that this will be the boys' homeschool group until they graduate so she had better stick around here!  And although I know that won't really be the case, I so cherish the time that I have with this group right now.

I must admit that often times when I leave I do feel entirely socially awkward.  It seems that being a stay-at-home-mom has dimmed my social skills a bit and I apparently must get giddy when in the presence of other adults which leads to talking too much.  I walk away each week feeling like they must just think I am a total bozo, but somehow they always seem to genuinely welcome when I return the next week.  They baffle me, and I am so grateful for them.

Look what they did for my birthday this year (which of course I never got around to posting because the pictures were on my phone, blah, blah, blah...).  I was so stunned and humbled by their out pouring of love for me.  They had collectively planned a little party for me- their were decorations, flowers, cards, white chocolate huckleberry mouse and even lunch!

Sadly, due to an ear infection for Lion Cub I only got to be there for about a half an hour and missed the lunch, but the fact that they had done all of that for me was so beyond anything I would have ever even thought to expect!  The thought of it still honestly brings tears to my eyes.  I have never been that great at having many girl friends, so the fact that these ladies (many of whom I hadn't even known for that long) would rally around me in this way, just to make me feel special on my birthday, was (and is) beyond words!

So, needless to say, I am thrilled and blessed to once again have Fridays to look forward to!  And I just want to extend my love and thanks to these beautiful women who bring compassion, honesty, kindness and love to my life each week- they represent the definition of friendship.

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Look what Marmee has to offer young girls & moms alike!

I wanted to take a little break from bread this week to tell you about some of the other awesome stuff that Martha Greene, or "Marmee," (my sponsor) has to offer!  In total she actually has 3 different sites- Marmee Dear, The Homemaker's Mentor, and Marmee's Bread Market.  The site I want to focus on today is The Homemaker's Mentor.

I actually found this site years ago and completely fell in love!  Each month Marmee releases two new lessons for women to learn how to become better homemakers.  Everything from sewing projects to recipes, to how to preserve food- even how to make herbal remedies! You never know what interesting and valuable lesson she will come up with next!  You can visit the homepage for a sample lesson.  The lessons can be purchased individually after they have gone through the members-only area, or you can sign up for a subscription so you make sure you don't miss a one!  The member's area also contains a Homemaker's Society forum where you can discus the lessons with other like-minded women who are learning right along side you.

Homemakers Mentor

In addition, Marmee also offers lessons for young girls to learn basic skills to prepare them for caring for their own homes one day and helping their mama along the way called A Complete Girls Guide to Home Skills.  Marmee sent me a sample copy and oh how I wish I had a daughter to be able to use these great lessons with!  (sigh- maybe someday!)  I must say, however, I actually learned a lot from the lesson I was sent about Bathroom care!  It contains everything from basic cleaning to how to unclog a drain- incredibly valuable!

A Complete Girls Guide to Home Skills has just started being release and upon completion will have 8 total sections that cover every possible area of the home.  A new section will be released every 6 weeks and they really are not to be missed!  If you have a daughter you should definitely take a closer peek at this wonderful new resource!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Monday, September 13, 2010

My 400th Post!!!

400 posts!!  It doesn't seem possible!  (okay- so it was actually 2 posts ago and I thought I had it all worked out to post this as the 400th but something went wrong!  Oh well- 402 will have to do!)

Just over three years ago I began this blog, and although there have been slow times and I still often feel a need for direction, this blog has been a haven for me in the midst of an otherwise crazy life.  I appreciate each of my readers so much- especially those who comment and let me know they're there, but I am also keenly aware that I follow many blogs but don't comment nearly as much as I should!  So, I appreciate ALL of you who read, regardless of commentage!

But this post isn't about comments- it's about posts!  Lots of them (well to me anyway)!  Quite frankly I'm frequently amazed that I find a way to post at all much of the time with these two lovable but slightly insane kiddos!  Anymore, though, I find that not blogging is no more an option than not breathing.  Between dirty diapers, cleaning bathrooms and making dinner, this is one of the few places that gives me respite and allows me to remember who I am.

To be completely honest I would have to say that as much as I am in my blog it has grown to be in me over these years as well.  I take pictures of my children largely based on how well they will look on my blog.  I also realized while thumbing through the photos on my iPhone the other day with an old friend who wanted to see pictures of my kids, that I have an inordinate number of pictures of food!  I had no other way to explain the 10 pictures of a dutch baby pancake to him than to say, "Sorry- I'm a blogger!". That summed it up!

This blog had humble beginnings as all blogs do, I suppose, and is obviously still humble in many ways!  There have been some posts that I have been very proud of and others that were rather inconsequential.  One thing, for certain, though, ties them all together- they all contain a piece of me.  To commemorate this momentous occasion, I thought I would give you a glimpse back over some of my favorite posts in the last three years.  So, here goes!  Enjoy and let me know what you think!  ;-)

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Friday, September 10, 2010

My little addiction...

It's true.  I just can't help myself.  I wish I could say that the little addiction I am going to share with you was merely one to chocolate- that I could handle!  I could more than handle it- I could be completely okay with it (since, clearly, I already am).  But no, this addiction is much more serious.  You see, when I stumble across a new blog that even slightly resembles something that I may be interested in, that small little button that either holds the word "follow" or "subscribe" beckons my name and I simply cannot resist.  It is a weakness.  A sickness really.  One person should not have upwards of 200 blogs in their Google Reader!  It isn't healthy!  I have 23 blogs that begin with the letter "M" alone!  There is no way that anyone could honestly and genuinely follow that many blogs!

For instance, at this moment I have 725 posts in my reader. 725!!!  (And that is up from the 712 it was merely at the start of writing this post!)  I have been trying to widdle this down over the last week or so, and it didn't start off as that many, but you know how it is, as soon as I get one post read then 4 more get published and added to the list in its place!  Plus, much of the time I scroll through my reader on my phone if I am not able to get to the computer.  So, I always "save as unread" the posts that I like, want to see on the big screen, or want to tumbl- but if I am not able to get to my reader on my computer for a day or so these really add up!

If I were to ask my parents about this predicament, I am sure they would harken back to my yesteryears when I would even refuse to sleep for fear of missing something... anything really.  It is a plague.  Ingrained in my character since birth.  Each time I dare to even consider hitting the little "unsubscribe" button, that nagging, sing-songy little voice whispers, "But what if they post something really good?!  You'll never know..."

Want to hear the even crazier and almost funny part?!  I really have been trying to chisel up my reader lately- get down to the blogs that I truly love and know that I absolutely don't want to miss.  So, I have actually been unsubscribing from a few blogs here and there.  One day I even went through and did I big purge and was starting to feel a little bit better about my situation.  For some reason, however, Google keeps adding these blogs back into my reader!!!  Ahhhh!!  I have no other reasonable explanation for it and the only thing I can think is that these phantom blog subscriptions are stalking me!  I can't break free!

If anyone has a suggestion for how to handle all of this (including permanently deleting subscriptions from my Google Reader) I would love to hear them.  Until then I will hold my breath, close my eyes and click the "Mark all as read" button with a cringe and shiver down my spine. I am sure I will be missing a plethora of good great incredible ideas, but lets face it 722 is just not a number that this swamped mama can even comprehend, let alone conquer!  Well, here goes nothin'...

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Winners and some disappointing news...

Well, it looks like only two people entered my giveaway for Marmee's Favorites Bundle.  TWO! Considering that there were supposed to be three winners, it looks like both of the entrants won!
So, congrats Jamie and ButterflyWishes!

However, in light of this disappointing turn out, Marmee and I have decided that the raffle for the Bosch Universal Mixer is just too risky for her to go ahead with.  I am seriously bummed to not be able to offer this opportunity to my readers, but since Marmee already sent me one mixer for review we just cannot move forward with the raffle without a more promising response.

So, if you want to see this wonderful opportunity come back, then you need to 

Also, I did want to address a comment that was made in regards to the raffle, in which someone compared the raffle to gambling.  I could not disagree more with this perspective.  The raffle was going to be offered in such a way that each ticket would come with a plethora of downloadable items.  The top package was only going to be $7.99, worth 8 entries and come with nearly $40 worth of valuable downloads.  I consider gambling to be any time that you are putting money towards a chance at something and receiving nothing in return except the chance.  I just wanted to clarify that.

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"Best Bread"- LITERALLY!

So, I recently tried Marmee's recipe for "Best Bread" from her Bread Basket Cookbook.  Can you say "Holy Moly!  One of the best things I have ever consumed in my life?!"  It may sound like I am exaggerating, but I literally cannot keep this bread in the house- not because I don't want to, but because we seriously eat an entire loaf in less than a day!  I don't know how to explain it, but this bread is incredibly fluffy while still maintaining a density that feels glorious to sink your teeth into!  This bread is the perfect combination of sweetness, lightness and downright yumminess!

Ok- so these ones got a little bit out of control!  I thought I had just left them, but when I turned around and they had gone all wild!  It was rather warm in the kitchen...

Now granted, the recipe is only about 1/3 whole wheat (I used about 50/50 in my last batch though and it worked fine), I still feel like it is better than anything I could buy in the store because I know every last ingredient that goes into it.  It also calls for white sugar which I substituted for Sucanant in my last batch and it also worked just fine.
Before baking- I still can't believe that I was able to make this!  Marmee's DVD directions were so clear and helpful that pretty much anyone could take on this seemingly difficult baked good!

Along with making straight up loafs of this dreamy bread, I followed Marmee's instructions in her Make it Special DVD to create a Garlic Mozzarella Sesame Parmesan Braid.  We paired it with some homemade chicken and rice soup and it was AMAZING!  The smell of it baking darn near made me want to crawl into the oven.  This recipe alone is reason enough to go get the Bread Basket Cookbook and Marmee's Bread Market!  And of course, to make it ultimately easy and wonderful to make, you should definitely think about getting a Bosch Universal Mixer... I'm just sayin'!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

30 Meals and Recipe Card Printables!

September is here!  Isn't that crazy?!  I am still in disbelief!  Where did summer go?  Today I dawned my first cool weather outfit in months and although I LOVE summer (and would actually move to Hawaii, hands down, in a heart beat, if give the opportunity) there is something welcoming and homey about the coming of fall.  Trips to the apple orchard and the fair, our large Maples turning red and golden, hot soups and stews with fresh baked bread (of course!)- it's a captivating season!

So, to kick off this season I thought I would share a very cool idea that I recently ran across on the web, along with an accompanying printable that I think you will all enjoy!  Have you heard of Nannygoat and the 30 Meals project?  Well, if not, you must head over and check it out!!  The beautiful ladies behind this blog, Kathryn and Melissa, have written a series of 7 different posts that lay out all the details on how to simplify your meal planning by narrowing your recipe file down to your 30 favorite (or about that many- I hope to go over a bit), creating a database of all the needed ingredients, and placing your recipes on laminated recipe cards that are easily accessible.  You really should just go there and read it because they have it so well laid out I could not possibly do justice to it here, and well, it's their idea!

I am planning on doing a variation of the 30 Meals, although I think those of you who know me won't be surprised that I intend to not only do our 30 favorite dinners but also our 30 favorite breakfasts, lunches, snacks and side-dishes!  I also plan to have a few recipes that rotate in and out with the seasons- such as hearty soups and stews that we normally cook more in the fall and winter than the summer.  Once the project is complete I think it will be such a helpful tool and really aid in simplifying my monthly meal planning.  It is going to be a great deal of work but I am really looking forward to it!

Since part of the project is putting all your recipes on nice and neat recipe cards, I decided that it would be fun to put together some of my own with a few digital scrapbooking supplies that I have been collecting.  As I was working on them I realized that you ladies would probably like a copy of them too, since I am so sure that once you read the details on the 30 Meals project you won't be able to help yourselves but jump right in too!  Plus with the holidays coming we could all use a few cheap gift ideas, and wouldn't it be great to surprise a friend or family member with their own beautified 30 Meal recipe card set?!

My goal is to come out with a few new recipe cards every month, and maybe, just maybe, I will trow in a few with recipes actually on them as well (but that is for another day!).  My cards are sized at 5x7 instead of the 4x6 that normal recipe cards are, because I figured you could fit more information on them and they would be easier to read.  If you really want them smaller I am sure you could easily size them down though!

So here is my Start of Fall set!  There are two versions- one with a spot for a picture of your recipe and one without.  I think that these cards will be perfect for my shepherds pie, pot roast, and bountiful stew recipes!  What do you think?

(click to go to download)

Go ahead and grab your copy (or a few!)!  Also, I would love to hear about how you are going to use them or if you have any requests or suggestions for future cards!  So, if you grab the download it would be just peachy if you left a comment and let me know!

I hope you enjoy, and Happy 30 Meals planning!

PS. Most of the design elements were freebies by Michelle Underwood at Two Peas in a Bucket.