Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My New Picnic/Dining Table!

Two little lovebirds sitting in a tree!
First comes love,
Then comes marriage,
Then comes 6 babies and a super big dinner table!

I've been searching Craigslist for a long table....forever!
I finally started looking into a picnic table, because well...we need to fit 8 people on a regular basis. 
Plus, a picnic table sounded inexpensive, yet sturdy.
So I found this one, handmade from redwood!

I sanded it, and scraped off the sap that had dropped on the top from the previous owner's tree.

Then I decided to add a bit of my own character.

I used an oil-based, semi-gloss, polyurethane.
And 3 coats later.....

I LOVE IT! And our whole family can HAPPILY sit around a few guests!

Have a great day!

I'll be linking to a new site I've found HERE at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Girls Chandelier Tutorial

I have been ooooing and awwwwing over the chandelier from Brassy Apple (HERE) for quite some time now. So she was definitely my inspiration!

I promised my girls I would make their room cute when we moved to Colorado. It's getting there!
Here's the latest BLING in their room...

I found these things in the garden department at Lowes.

 I found the chandelier crystals in the lighting department at Lowes. I bought 2 packages. These were about $5.00 per package. I just grimaced...and bit the bullet on this one.  I didn't feel like shopping around with my 3 youngest kids in tow!

  I also got these at Lowes.

I bought a 1"x1" piece of pine wood and had them cut it to 10 inches long. (You need something at least 1 inch around, or your screw will poke out the other side).

Predrill each hole before you attach everything. Make sure you use the proper size of drill.
My brackets and hooks are not perfectly even...because I didn't want the screws to hit each other...but you can't really tell when everything is put together.

Screw the finial into the bottom. I used a little bit a wood glue too.

I spray painted it white. But the next day it turned pink.  My girls are just as indecisive as I am!

To hook the crystals on...I used 20 gauge wire that I had and made a little twisty loop-de-loop.

These hung on the wire brackets.

I used 4 crystals (with the wire gauge loop) on the wire brackets.
And 4 crystals on the plain hooks ( I simply attached the crystal to the hook).

I had some silver bead necklaces that I bought from the dollar bins at Target during Christmas time.  But you can find these necklaces at the party stores, or probably the dollar store.  I've also seen them in the birthday party section at Target or Walmart.

I hope you've been inspired!
Have a great day!

Linking up to:


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ziploc Dinner Prep!

Is it 5:00 and you have absolutely no idea what you'll make for dinner???
One thing that saves my sanity during this time is having the prep work already done!

How would you like to have Old Fashioned Chicken Pie made and in the oven in 20 minutes?

Or how about some homemade Chicken Noodle Soup?

Find some recipes that use similar ingredients....
These 2 recipes both have chopped onions, celery, carrots, and chicken.

So I like to put a bunch of chicken breasts in a pot, and boil them.  Then I chop them up, let them cool a bit, then separate how much I'll need for each recipe into quart size ziploc bags.
Next, I separate the chopped veggies, and put them in gallon sized bags, and label them.

Then I put the chicken bag into the gallon/veggie bag...and there you go!
You now have the basic prep work done. Just put it in your fridge, and pull it out when your ready to make it!

Of course, you can use tupperware-type containers too. Whatever floats your boat!

Another example of ziploc preps that I do are...

Chicken Stir Fry and Chicken Kabobs
(cut up raw chicken in quart sized bag...bell peppers and onions in the gallon sized bag)


Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

1/2 C chopped onion
1/4 C chopped celery
1/2 C chopped carrots
2 Tbsp. butter
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp. pepper
Chicken broth
2 C cooked, cubed chicken (meat from a rotisserie chicken tastes the best)

In a large pot saute the vegetables in 2 Tbsp. of butter for about 3 minutes to bring out their flavor, then cover with chicken broth, add the spices, and let simmer until the veggies are tender. 
While your veggies are simmering, make the noodles (below).
When the veggies are tender, add more broth (or water and chicken bullion) so the pot is about halfway full...about 6-8 cups. 
Bring to a boil, then carefully add the noodles a little at a time so they don't stick together.  After all the noodles have been added, turn the heat down to low, and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add the chicken. 
Try to pull out the bay leaves before serving.


3 eggs
About 2 cups flour
2 Tbsp milk or evaporated milk

Mix well and form into a ball to roll out. The dough will be a little stiff. Roll out thin onto a floured surface, then cut with a pizza cutter into strips.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Valentine Cookies...SO GOOD!

When I was little, my mom would bake these YUMMY cookies and put a special one on each of our beds.  My very own cookie with my name on it! As a little girl it was such a treat!

These are labeled Valentine Cookies in my recipe box.

They are the best! I always double the recipe too!

Valentine Cookies

2/3 C butter or shortening (I always use butter)
3/4 C granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 C sifted flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking pwd.
1/4 tsp. milk

Cream the butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla together.  Then add sifted flour and baking pwd., then lastly the milk. 
Chill dough for 1 hour, then roll out for some fun cookie cutting!
Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes.


1/4 C butter (room temp)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. milk
2 C powdered sugar

Blend butter, vanilla, salt, and milk.  Then slowly add the powdered sugar.  Add more or less milk and powdered sugar depending on the desired consistency.

I'm gonna linky-dink this recipe to Funky Junk's SNS, HERE. Go check out all the fun stuff!


Gotta Start Somewhere!

Baby steps....

I've been procrastinating.  I tend to shut things in a closet, because I don't want to look at them...or I tell myself I'll get to it later...

Traci at Beneath My Heart is giving me a little push in the right direction.  Look over at my side bar and click on her button to Organizing Your Heart and Home.  This weeks theme is "closets".  So I tackled our shoe and coat closet.

I felt a bit silly making these signs to organize...
but as soon as I taped them to the wall, that was it! There was no shutting the closet now!

I still need to get a boot tray for our wet boots, but at least it's organized! The baskets are holding all our gloves and mittens. Yeah!

Go check out the other closet makeovers HERE!


Friday, January 7, 2011

11 Step Program before having kids

My little sister posted this "11-step program for those thinking about having kids" on our family website.  I thought it was pretty hillarious!  My sister has 4 children, ages 7 and under....super mom to say the least!

Lesson 1
1. Go to the grocery store.

2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.

3. Go home.

4. Pick up the paper.

5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2
Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their...

1. Methods of discipline.

2. Lack of patience.

3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.

4. Allowing their children to run wild.

5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior.

Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3
A really good way to discover how the nights might feel...

1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner)

2. At 10PM, put the bag gently down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.

3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1AM.

4. Set the alarm for 3AM.

5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink and watch an infomercial.

6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.

7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.

8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.

9. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (work hard and be productive)

Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Keep this up for 3-5 years. Look cheerful and together.

Lesson 4
Can you stand the mess children make? T o find out...

1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.

2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.

3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed.

4. Then rub them on the clean walls.

5. Take your favorite book, photo album, etc. Wreck it.

6. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5
Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.

1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.

2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out.

Time allowed for this - all morning.

Lesson 6
Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that.

1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment.

Leave it there.

2. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.

3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then smash them with your foot.

4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Lesson 7

Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is an excellent choice). If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Lesson 8
1. Hollow out a melon.

2. Make a small hole in the side.

3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.

4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.

5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.

6. Tip half into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air.

You are now ready to feed a nine- month-old baby.
Lesson 9
Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street , Barney, Disney, the Teletubbies, and Pokemon. Watch nothing else on TV but PBS, the Disney channel or Noggin for at least five years. (I know, you're thinking What's 'Noggin'?) Exactly the point.

Lesson 10
Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying 'mommy' repeatedly. (Important: no more than a four second delay between each 'mommy'; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years. You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Lesson 11
Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt- sleeve, or elbow while playing the 'mommy' tape made from Lesson 10 above. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Old Fashioned Golden Chicken Pie

Whenever I get to take a meal to someone, this is always my "go-to" meal, because it doesn't require a bunch of dishes.  I can bake it right into a tin pie pan (I can by 3 tin pans for $1.00 at the dollar store).  And the gravy can be put into one of those disposable tupperware-type containers that aren't too expensive.  Everyone always requests the I'll share it with ya!

This was one of my favorite meals growing up...and I usually requested it for my birthday dinner!

 This is an easy recipe to double too! I have to double it for our family, and there's usually some leftover my me to each for lunch the next day. :)

Now...I've never really been great at making pie I cheat and use the store-bought dough. It makes the prep time much faster too. And I'm all about quick prep meals!
shhhh...don't tell my mom!

Old Fashioned Golden Chicken Pie

2 C. cooked chicken (cubed)
1 Tbsp. flour
1 C. sliced carrots
1 C. chopped onions
1/2 C. sliced celery
1/2 tsp. thyme leaves, crushed
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 C butter or margarine
1 can Golden Mushroom Soup (made by Campbell's)
Pastry for 2 pie crusts

Toss cooked chicken with flour, then set aside.  In saucepan, cook carrots, onions, and celery with thyme and pepper in butter until tender.  Stir in soup and chicken mix.  Pour into 9 inch pastry-lined pie pan.  Roll out remaining pastry: cut into 1/2 inch strips, then lattice the top of pie.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned. Serve with gravy.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Eagle On Ice

O.K., here's the story that I promised from my last post.  It's a parable I remember hearing when I was younger. I couldn't find the exact story I will paraphrase it.

There was an eagle perched in a tree by a river.  It was wintertime with snow on the ground and chunks of ice floating down the river.  The eagle noticed a small, dead animal on one of the floating blocks of ice.  It then flew down to eat this animal, and perched itself on the slowly moving ice.  After a while the water current began to move faster, and small rapids were forming.  The water was sloshing up onto the block of ice, but the eagle continued to eat his new found food. 

image from

Pretty soon, because of the freezing temperatures, the water that was splashing up on the block of ice had frozen the eagles feet to the ice, and the eagle could not escape.  The upcoming waterfall would soon be the death of him.

(Note: no animals were harmed in the telling of this story! My son wanted to be sure!)

The moral of the story is this:

Everyone is susceptible to sin.  We may think we are strong enough to walk away, or try a little bit of this, or that.  But that is how the adversary gets us. He entices us and lets us explain away our weaknesses.  And before we know it...he has a hold of us.  By that time it is much more difficult to walk away. 

We must be strong and make the right choices ahead of time, so that when sin creeps into our lives we can "fly" away from it as soon as possible. 

image from

So when I saw this yesterday morning with the ducks around the frozen lake..... reminded me of that story.

By keeping the lines of communication open in our family, and truly listening to each other, we can cast the adversary away.  We can invite the right light into our homes.  And everyone is happier for it!