December 24, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday December 24!

Good morning and merry Christmas! In my house we are upset that the leap year robbed us of a Sunday Christmas Eve, because Sunday worship is the best way to start off the Christmas celebration. Regardless, it is here and we are excited! I do not know if Sandra will hold this meme today, but just in case (and since no one else is up yet) here is my Happy Homemaker Monday post. 

The Weather
Right now it is cool (28 degrees) but sunny. And tonight, we are supposed to get snow! Wohoo! I don't know if there is supposed to be any accumulation, and unfortunately it is supposed to turn to sleet and freezing rain, but not until about 2 in the morning, ending about 10 am Christmas morning. I can live with that. Hopefully by 2 am we will be nestled snug in our beds. 

Right Now
My oven is warming up in anticipation of baking some cookies. Christmas music is playing, my tree lights are on, my house is clean, my laundry caught up, all of the presents are wrapped but one (I am giving my husband my Kindle since Santa is bringing me the Kindle Fire, and I don't want to wrap it until the last minute because I don't want to give it up. It's okay to write this on here because he never goes on the internet for pleasure, unless it is to listen to 80's songs on you tube.), and the kids are all still in bed. Life is good.

About the greatest gift of all, our Savior, Jesus Christ, and how grateful I am that I know Him. I certainly need to know him a lot better than I do, but I DO know Him. I am so grateful for His life, His teachings, His example, His atoning sacrifice, and for the scriptures that teach us about Him. I am grateful for the peace that comes from knowing He is in charge. I am grateful that He is my friend, and that He forgives me and welcomes me back whenever I stray.

On My Reading Pile
A friend lent me Tangled Roots by G. G. Vandagriff. Hoping I might be able to read it over the holiday break.

On My TV
We watched The Homecoming last night and Mrs. Santa Claus earlier this week. I want to start Jesus of Nazareth this week.

On the Menu
We are getting German food tonight! My sister's husband's mother was German, so my sister and brother in-law are making beef rouladen and spaetzle. I cannot wait! My sister is a great cook. We are also having cheesy potato casserole and salad. For dessert: apple pie, chocolate chip cookies and brownies.

Tomorrow we are having ham with mashed and sweet potatoes, and I don't know what else.

Wednesday - I think a nice big salad? Something light, that is for sure. I am thinking about trying prime rib on New Year's day. I have never made it before, but I found great instructions for it on the web. Will let you know if I do and how it turns out.

On My To Do List
In order: bake cookies, clean up kitchen, take shower, have kids put stuff away, pack up presents, head over to my sister's early to help out.

What I am Creating

Homemaking Tips
This isn't a homemaking tip, but it is a quality of life tip. Yesterday my husband gave me an early Christmas present - it was a remote control kit. It came with three receivers that you can plug into a wall outlet. Each receiver has two of its own outlets that you can plug your Christmas tree or anything else into. Then there is a remote turn the outlet on and off. No more trying to get behind the tree to plug the light in. Last year we used an outlet strip, but even that got buried under the gifts and became harder to access. He paid about $15 for it and got it at Lowe's. It is the best thing ever.

From the Camera

Some of what will be piled under the tree.

On My Prayer List
My kids, family, all those affected by the Newtown shooting.

Bible Verse
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."

Isaiah 9:6

Have a blessed Christmas! 

December 17, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday December 17

Here we are one week from Christmas Eve! I think it is my favorite part of our Christmas celebration. In spite of what happened last Friday (which I will address below), I am determined to continue with our celebrations and preparations with my heart turned more directly toward our Savior and hopefully a little less stress and a lot more kindness towards others. To share the sentiments of the father of Emilee Parker, a seven year old victim of the shooting, let's not define ourselves by what transpired, but let us see what we can do to help those in need.

See Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for more Happy Homemaker Monday posts!

The Weather
Rainy and cold, but not cold enough for slippery conditions, so I am grateful.

Right Now
I should be at my boss's office, but I was so tired driving my kids to school this morning that I needed to go back to bed. Woke up half an hour after I said I would be there. Oops. Fortunately he is pretty casual about work in the off season, and I wasn't going in to work for him, but for a client, so it's all good. Will head over there tomorrow.

About what the Lord wants from me in the wake of Friday's massacre. How does He want me to feel? What does He want me to do? What does He want me to say? After much prayerful pondering I do know one thing, that I need to be a conduit for His love for us.  Even though this happened close to home (35 minutes away), I most likely will never have contact with any of those directly affected, so my responsibility is to those around me. My biggest comfort comes from Him and knowing that He lives and loves all of His children, including the perpetrator. So I refuse to hate, and if that means staying off Facebook while people vent their feelings, I'll do it. 

On My Reading Pile
Haven't been reading anything other than the New Testament. Will let you know if I ever get to anything else.

On My TV
We watched It's a Wonderful Life last night. It has such a good message, and we need those reminders right now. Other than that it has been the news, but I am now restricting myself to one newscast a night. We need breaks from it so we remember to live. Just like George Bailey.

On the Menu
Monday - pasta with chicken sausage, salad, garlic bread
Tuesday - tacos
Wednesday - chicken and broccoli divan, egg noodles
Thursday - soup and sandwiches
Friday - Adobo chicken (didn't get to it last week) mashed potatoes, peas/carrots
Saturday - pork tenderloin, potatoes, veggies
Sunday - freezer leftovers

On My To Do List
My immediate attention has to go to laundry. The sheets haven't been washed in awhile, I know at least one basket is overflowing. It is so easy for these things to get away from me during this busy time of year, but I am determined to keep at it. Also, menu planning and grocery shopping. One teen has to be picked up at the middle school at 5:50 pm and another teen has to be taken to piano lessons for 7 pm. That gives us a narrow window to eat dinner, which means it has to be ready by the time I go to pick up the first teen. Such is life.

What I am Creating
Cookies! Made four batches yesterday and have at least two more to do before Wednesday.

Homemaking Tips
Put on some music and enjoy yourself while you are housecleaning. Some people listen to audio books. I love it when I get my mind on something interesting and forget about how many darn socks I have to fold!

From the Camera

I don't have anything from this past week, but here is an outtake from our tree decorating. My daughter was putting her gifts under the tree and I was concentrating on not getting the top of the tree because the lights are out (pre-lit tree) and wasn't paying attention to what was below. I call this the name that child picture, since you only get a glimpse of three of them.

On My Prayer List
My kids, all of those affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings.

Bible Verse
"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place..." Matthew 24:15. 

We were studying this chapter today in seminary. I find this verse appropriate for our current events and goes along with what I wrote above. During these times we need to let our testimonies of the Savior shine for the world to see.

Have a blessed week.

December 15, 2012

A Range of Emotions

Six weeks? Has it even been six weeks since we experienced heartbreaking tragedy? How much do we have to experience before we get it? And what is it we are supposed to get? I have felt a range of emotions and had a range of thoughts. Certainly there is something we need to learn. 




I was driving home from the mall. I had started the second part of my day at the hairdresser. Something I had been putting off for quite awhile. I finally went, and I hated the result. So that was on my mind. Then I completed a couple of errands, one successfully, one not so much. Then it was the mall, where I managed to finish most of my Christmas shopping. The shopping went well. I figured out what I wanted to buy and found what I had in mind at decent prices. Then, as I was driving home feeling content, listening to the radio, I heard about it. 


It will always be It

(Please let there not be anything that will surpass this horror.) 

I heard 27 people dead, many of them children.

Elementary school.

Children heard gunshots.

Seeing bloody children leaving school.

Seeing bodies of dead children leaving the school.

The wait for a child to emerge safely.

This happened 35 minutes from my home, but I don't think it matters. Well, yes, I think it does matter. I think it affected me more because of it's close proximity. Not that I wouldn't be sad, but the depth of the sadness was measured by the distance.

It felt like September 11, 2001.



How can anyone commit such a horrendous crime?

I do not know anyone directly affected by the shooting. I do not know anyone who lived in that community. I do know people who know people, however. My neighbor grew up in that town. It is a nice place to live.

It is so easy to hate.  So easy.

But I hope I don't. Ever.

I hope I just love.

Because Hate leads to 20 children dead. 

Love does not.

Let us, please, just love.

December 12, 2012

The Best Comfort Food: Chili

Will I ever remember to take a picture? Oh well, here is a photo that makes me think of chili, and NO, this recipe is not hot, but it makes me think of warm comfort food.

It is officially called Tammy's chili in my house, because way back in the day, when our first son was little, our friends Dave and Tammy came over. She had been in the middle of cooking this chili when we called, so when it was done she brought it over and we had dinner together. It was one of those impromptu gatherings that worked out well. And the chili was delicious, and she is one of those kind souls who is willing to share her recipes, and some 18 years later, it is still my favorite chili recipe.  We haven't seen David and Tammy in years, but we did find Tammy on Facebook, and I believe the last time I made her chili I posted it on FB to let her know it is still loved.

Now there are as many opinions about chili as there are people. This is very mild, but there is something about ground beef and rice that just belongs together, and this is the perfect way to make that happen. And every time I eat this, I ask myself why I don't make it more often. It is very easy, it just takes an hour to cook.  So here it is.

Tammy's Chili

1 pound ground beef
1 chopped onion
1 chopped green pepper
1 large can peeled whole tomatoes, broken into pieces (use juice too)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
3 cans beans (Tammy and I use a combo of red kidney and cannellini beans), rinsed and drained
2 T chili powder
3/4 t paprika

Brown the ground beef, drain grease
You can brown the onion and peppers with the beef or add it with the rest, whatever you prefer
Add the rest of the ingredients
Bring to boil, simmer for 1 hour

Serve however you like.

I put it on top of rice and top it all off with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream.

For a family of six I double the recipe.  We did have some leftover to freeze.

December 10, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday December 10

Good morning everyone! I woke up this morning after 4 1/2 hours of sleep (not because I could not sleep, but because that was all the time I had) right when I was dreaming that I had to eat spaghetti with maple syrup. Guess what we watched last night.

Thanks to Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for hosting Happy Homemaker Monday. See her blog for more posts.

The Weather
We are getting rain which brings cloudy skies and fog. We live in the clouds here in my little town. The positive side of all of this grayness is that the tree lights came on first thing this morning and are brightening up my house. Today should hit 60, but the rest of the week will be in the forties - but not freezing, which means we don't have to worry about slippery roads. Very important as there will be a LOT of driving this week getting ready for Christmas.

Right Now
My 19 year old and I are eating M&Ms - at 10 am. Tis the season.

That I have done well keeping on task so far today, and hoping I can keep it up. I have to work tomorrow so I have lots on my agenda for today. So far I have taught seminary, driven to the high school TWICE (thanks to my 14 year old forgetting his saxophone). And don't talk to me about natural consequences, because his concert is tomorrow night so it is pretty important that he has his instrument today, AND, he is a pretty amazing kid and very responsible and I do make him get up at 4:45 every morning and leave the house at 5:45 to go to seminary before school, so I cut him some slack.

On My Reading Pile
We are starting the last week of the Savior's life in seminary, so we will be all over the four gospels of the New Testament. I've also started The Grapes of Wrath because my daughter has to read it for AP Language and I told her I would read it with her. She, however, had to read 150 pages over the weekend. I got through 3 chapters. (psst, I cannot wait to get my Kindle Fire from Santa!)

On My TV
In case you couldn't guess, we watched Elf last night. The only other thing was the last two episodes of Glee.

On the Menu
I actually did it!

Monday chili with rice
Tuesday chicken soup, rolls
Wednesday beef goulash, salad, garlic bread
Thursday grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
Friday Adobo chicken, mashed potatoes, zucchini, salad
Saturday church Christmas party - potluck - don't know what I am going to bring yet
Sunday painting in-laws' basement, so dinner is on them (I might be staying home and baking cookies though)

Notice the simplicity of the menu - our schedule demands it!

On My To Do List
Are you ready? Strap yourselves in, you are going for a ride! Shower, chocolate factory for my husband's employee gifts and stocking stuffers, the mall for gifts for the giving tree at church, my mom who refuses to give me any ideas, and a little something more for my daughter, the post office for stamps for Christmas cards (and bills!), the pharmacy to fill a prescription for my son, the warehouse club and two grocery stores, unload everything and sort through the gifts and determine what else is needed, make cookies, make chili, pick up foster son after swimming, eat dinner, bring 14 year old son to piano, prepare seminary lesson and two more loads of laundry.

Tomorrow I have a job 45 minutes away, a parent's meeting at the high school for swim team, dinner, get my 14 year old to school early for band concert, get rest of family to school to watch concert.

I won't tell you about the rest of the week, but these are the two worst days.

What I am Creating
A lot of lists!

Homemaking Tips
 I have switched to a homemade (well, really home mixed) laundry detergent. You can find the particular recipe I have been using here. I have also switched to using white vinegar in place of softener. I have a front loading washing machine and have a problem with mildew growing on the gasket even though I leave the door open after every use. The trouble is the animal fats in commercial laundry products - the fat clings to the gasket and keeps it moist. Commercial products are also really expensive and I do a LOT of laundry. I am loving the homemade detergent and white vinegar. My clothes feel so soft coming out of the washer. Oh, and I have also started using wool dryer balls thanks to Sandra's post on how to make them. I do have a problem with static electricity during the winter though, so I may have to add a dryer sheet to keep that under control. I highly recommend getting away from the commercial products though. They are so costly and contain unnecessary ingredients - like animal fat!

From the Camera
This was last night's activity:

On My Prayer List
My kids, dad (who is having a cat scan on Tuesday to see how badly the cancer is progressing), and others.

Bible Verse
What we studied today: 

 "...I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live"  John 11:25

Just at the time of year when we are celebrating the birth of our Savior, my seminary class will be studying his death, and yet, with his death comes the promise of a greater life, the promise of life even after death, and the promise of the ability to overcome anything when we turn to Him that overcame everything.

Have a great week!

December 6, 2012

Embracing the World

This has nothing (directly) to do with homemaking, but I had to share this video. It just amazes me what people are capable of doing with what they are given. This is so  inspiring.

Easy, Delicious, and All For Me

Tried No Bake Energy Bites from Full Bellies Make Happy Kids. I will not repost the recipe here, just click on the link for the original recipe. They are easy, quick, and best of all, contain peanut butter, coconut and rolled oats which insures that they will be all for me because I think I am the only one in my family that likes all of those ingredients!

December 3, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday December 3

I wasn't going to participate today due to the mood I am in thanks to a certain 16 year old who lives with me, but then I read Sandra's post and, as usual, she has inspired me. So thank you, Sandra, for getting me out of my mood! Go over to her blog for more Happy Homemaker Monday.

The weather
Today is supposed to be in the upper 50's, which is great for our neck of the woods, but it is wet and clammy, so it still feels cold in the house. This morning was so foggy that it took me twice as long to get to my seminary class.

Right Now
The house is quiet, all are at work or in school except my oldest son, who is in between jobs and only has class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He took a ride to Dunkin Donuts, so it is just me and the pets this morning. I should have Christmas music playing but I haven't gotten to it yet. 

That I really want to take it easy today. It was a busy weekend and I feel like I need a day off! However, there is no rest for a mom and homemaker, so there are groceries to buy and laundry to do and errands to run.

On My Reading Pile
We have moved on to John in the New Testament. He is my favorite New Testament writer. I have so many books on my kindle, but who has time, especially at this time of year? 

On My TV
We watched A Christmas Story the other night. We love that movie, and can pretty much follow along word for word at this point. Next will probably be Elf. As we get closer to Christmas, I would like to start Jesus of Nazareth and then watch it over the Christmas break.

On the Menu
That's next on the agenda

On My To Do List
Menu planning, grocery shopping, cookie baking, pick up daughter at high school, pick up foster son at the middle school drop off, dinner, take youngest son to piano.

What I am Creating
not much

Homemaking Tips
Live simply! As you know we have been helping Hurricane Sandy victims and my husband and son were in Long Island on Saturday cleaning out basements. Some people had so much stuff which was all destroyed and had to be thrown away. Meanwhile, my father, who has incurable lung cancer, has been going through years and years of paperwork, bookcases full of dvd's, and tons of other stuff, trying to make things easier for my mother. It is overwhelming. Also, just at my in-laws house helping them paint their basement and their place is full of stuff, and my mother in-law is overwhelmed with all of it. I heard something in a talk once that made an impression on me:  one way we can be prepared to serve the Lord is by NOT amassing a lot of stuff so that we are ready to go wherever and whenever He needs us.  

So, this holiday season, as much as I am thinking of things to buy my family, I am also thinking of what we don't need that we can give to someone who does, and what we don't need to buy just because it seems really cool right at the moment.

From the Camera
My favorite Christmas decorations

On My Prayer List
My kids, hurricane Sandy victims

Bible Verse
My favorite of all time:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
John 3:16

Have a great week!

November 29, 2012

Leftovers...Mashed Potatoes

My favorite way to eat up leftover mashed potatoes has become

(photo courtesy of google images)

To stir them into soup

(photo courtesy of google images)

It thickens the broth and gives it a nice but subtle potato flavor.

Just passing it along.

November 26, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday November 26th

Thanks to Sandra for hosting this every week and giving me a chance to reflect on my blessings. Join her and the rest of us at her Happy Homemaking Monday post.

First, a Happy Anniversary to my parents who were married 52 years ago today! 

The Weather
It's time to start the car in the mornings to warm up the engine and at times defrost the windshield. We are supposed to get 1 to 2 inches of snow tomorrow. It is perfect weather to bring us to Christmas (and to have a roaring fire in the fireplace). The kids are finally back at school for the first full week in a long time, which means that I do not have my 14 year old to start a fire for me. Rats.

Right Now
I am enjoying the quiet. My oldest is still in bed and the dog has gone back to bed. Hey, that's not a bad idea. I have already ordered my daughter's Christmas presents (she emails me links to the things she wants, always keeping within my budget. She's my kind of girl, efficient and practical). And I have my Christmas card ready to order.

About the huge to-do lists that come with this time of year, along with all of the usual activities. Worried about the snow tomorrow because I have to bring my daughter to a doctor's appointment and my college student has classes tomorrow and his car is not heating properly. My husband changed the thermometer and that didn't do the trick and he ran out of time. We have been overloaded with car repairs. Hoping this is the last of it for awhile.

On My Reading Pile
I have started so many books and then don't get back to them for awhile and forget. My kindle has many waiting for me. But we just finished Luke 15 in the New Testament.

On My TV
It's TRADITION people! We are very particular about our Christmas celebrations here. Nothing starts until we have celebrated Thanksgiving, and then it all starts with watching Scrooge (the musical with Albert Finney), usually on Thanksgiving night. Well, we were all set and we could not find it, so we watched Christmas Vacation which, parts of it are terrible, but parts of it remind me so much of my husband. And, Netflix to the rescue, we watched Scrooge last night. Other holiday favorites are Elf, The Homecoming (the Waltons), every other Christmas Carol movie (we have six all together), Mrs. Santa Claus, The Santa Clause, and A Christmas Story. There's probably more, but I can't think of them. Oh, It's a Wonderful Life, of course!

On the Menu
That's next on the agenda - going to go through the flyers and make up a menu - then it's off to the stores. I'm out of milk so I have to go today.

On My To Do List
Have to get some paperwork sent off, go to the mall to pick up my father's Christmas gift (had it shipped to the store instead of my house because it was free), sort through all of the purchases I made on my day out with the girls, laundry, of course, menu planning, grocery shopping, and picking up the kids at 4 at the high school. Piano tonight for my 14 year old.

What I am Creating
Christmas cards and seminary lessons. And I'm thinking about this for Christmas gifts this year.

 Homemaking Tips
Sandra posted today about making homemade gifts to give this year. I totally agree. It is heartwarming to receive a gift made by a friend. I have always enjoyed those gifts. I would like to add to that thought by suggesting gifts of service. When my mom first got home from serving a mission she still had to find a job and therefore did not have money to spend on anyone. So, she gave gifts of service. We got free babysitting every month for a year to make my husband and I go out on a date. Of course she would have babysat for my kids anyway, but this way she MADE us go out every month, which was a much needed break and boost for our marriage. It is the best gift I have ever received.

Looking Around the House
There are some things that need to be put away, but for the most part is is clean from Thanksgiving and so there's not a lot to do. My husband even washed the windows for me! Love that man. The sun is shining and we have our Christmas decorations around the house, except for our tree which we put up mid December. I love this time of year!

From the Camera

On My Prayer List
My children, my dad, the hurricane victims (relief efforts are ongoing - my husband and sons will be going to Long Island this weekend to continue the work of cleaning out homes and tearing down sheet rock).

Bible Verse

"And he said unto him, Son, thou are ever with me, and all that I have is thine." Luke 15:31

Loved my daughter's insight on this this morning: she said that those who grow up with the gospel in their lives sometimes don't see the blessings that they have - the blessings that others see who have known life without the Lord.

Have a great week!

November 19, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday November 19th

Happy Thanksgiving! This is my favorite time of year - Thanksgiving into Christmas. Thanksgiving may very well be my favorite holiday because it is all about the best things:  family, food, and gratitude. And for me, gratitude comes from recognizing the Lord's hand in my life, and everything He has given me. Well, not EVERYTHING, because I don't think it's possible to recognize all that He does for us.

The Weather
Brrr! There was frost on the windshield this morning for the first time this season. Our high today will only be 49 degrees, but the sun is shining. The world around me is already brown and gray, though, so I cannot wait to start seeing Christmas decorations to brighten up my surroundings.

Right Now I Am
Running my first laundry load through the washing machine, making plans for the week (Thanksgiving is at my house), hoping to stay focused and keep on schedule because there is lots to do.

About how grateful I am for my family. Both of my parents are still alive, and they and my only sister live nearby. I love getting together with them, even though we are not perfect, we have grown to appreciate one another, and we love each other dearly. I am also meeting them for lunch today aaaannnndddd - Saturday is ladies day out! Every year my mom, sister, and I, and now my daughter too, take the entire day. We go to a mall that we don't shop at any other time of the year. We eat lunch, dinner, and sometimes breakfast out. We look in every window, browse through every store that has anything worth looking at, and even do a little shopping. I shop more and more on-line these days, and just joined Amazon Prime so I get free shipping, so I shop less and less at the mall, but we still have a great time. I do not do a lot of shopping any other time of the year, so this is special for us.

On My Reading Pile
We are covering Luke 13-15 this week. Soon the Christmas books will be out. We picked up a Chicken Soup book with Christmas stories, and I would like to read The Autobiography of Santa Claus again. I highly recommend this book. It is written in such a way that it is for believers and non-believers alike. It discusses his history -starting with the life of St. Nicholas and ending to our present day traditions. It explains how certain traditions got started while giving us a great history lesson. He tells us which part is fact, which part is fiction, and which parts are pure magic. This is one you can read to your children - no matter what age they are.

On My TV
We watched Sleepy Hollow (the Tim Burton version) which was entertaining but gruesome. Johnny Depp was delightful, and it includes many people from Harry Potter, so it was fun figuring them all out. We have The Descendents - but I may just send it back.  My daughter watched it and said it was really depressing. Now starts the holiday movie season, and we always start with Scrooge (the musical with Albert Finney). We try to watch that Thanksgiving night. Then on Friday we have a church movie night and will be watching The Forgotten Carols.

On the Menu
Will be using up food in my fridge and freezer this week to make room for the Thanksgiving food.
Monday - pork tenderloin, leftover mashed potatoes, lipton noodles (not enough leftover mashed), zucchini
Tuesday - chicken breasts, rice, green beans
Wednesday - pasta or pizza
Thursday - turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, sausage stuffing, cranberry sauce, carrots (a dish that my sister makes with onions and butter - yummy), green bean casserole, rolls, pumpkin pie, cheesecake, apple pie, chocolate cream pie. Everyone makes food, so this is not all on me!
Friday - pasta or pizza - whatever we did not have on Wednesday
Saturday - girls day out - boys on their own
Sunday - probably leftovers, if not, I have tons of hot dogs in the freezer

On My To Do List
Laundry, clean house, buy food, make food, eat food, decorate house for Christmas (on Friday), shop!!!, pretty much everything.

Homemaking Tip
This won't be anything new to you, but it is to me. Don't mash your potatoes, whip them with a hand blender. Especially when making large amounts for a crowd - it is much quicker.

Looking Around the House
Things to put away, but it's not terrible. I have my oldest home to help today. Lots of dusting and vacuuming to do. Bathrooms need attention, but they will be dirty by Thursday, so I will clean them and then have my kids do a touch up with wipes Thursday morning.

From the Camera
What we did today in seminary

Let me explain the dung=omelet:  Six years ago when I was teaching seminary, we were talking about how prayer, reading the scriptures, and attending church helps us. One of the students blurted out, "that's our answer for everything. How do you make an omelet? Pray, read the scriptures, go to church."  We had a good laugh over that, and ever since, "omelet" has become our code word for praying, reading the scriptures, and going to church. The dung part has to do with the parable, where the worker told the vineyard owner that he would dig and dung around the fig tree in order to give it another chance to produce fruit. This was our interpretation of what work we can do in order to produce the fruit of faith and a strong testimony of Jesus Christ: pray, read the scriptures, go to church, serve others, and keep the commandments.

On My Prayer List
All of my kids, my church leaders, my family, the hurricane victims, some special friends.

Bible Verse
The end of the parable of the fig tree:

"And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." Luke 13:8-9

I asked my students what lesson they could learn from this parable. There answer was that Jesus is on our side.  Enough said.

Have a great week and a wonderful holiday!

November 12, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday November 12

Good morning, and happy Veteran's Day!  Yes, I know it was actually yesterday, but I think our veterans deserve a second day to thank them, don't you? The kids are off from school because of it, after all. How wonderful that it falls at the time of year that we are focusing on our blessings. I am so thankful for the sacrifice made by so many men and women in the service of our country. I thank you, and your wives, children, parents, girlfriends, boyfriends - everyone who has had to make sacrifices along with you so that you could serve your country. My brother in-law served in Vietnam, my father served during the Korean conflict, my father in-law and uncles during World War II, my husband's grandfather during World War I. I have ancestors that fought in the Civil War (both sides), and the Revolutionary War. But I have not had to live the sacrifice that many of you do, supporting a spouse while he/she serves. My father served when he was 18 years old - long before I was in the picture. Thank you.

Meanwhile, it is time for Happy Homemaker Monday, and I am very happy today because there are no severe weather predictions in our near future! Thanks to Sandra for hosting this every week and giving me a chance to reflect on my life and its purpose. Please see her blog for more Happy Homemaker Monday posts.

The Weather
It is 52 degrees with a high today in the low 60's. Rain tomorrow but sunny for a few days after that. No high winds, no snow, no surging tides. There is much to be grateful for.

Right Now I Am
The only one up. Actually, that is not true - I can hear my husband just started the shower and is moving around upstairs. Normally he is out of the house by now, but he had to go to work last night and I don't even know when he got home because I was sound asleep, and I didn't go to bed until midnight. Since today is a school holiday, we have one extra boy sleeping upstairs. All four boys and my one girl are expecting chocolate chip pancakes this morning, but I am sure it will not be until much later, since this was their only day to sleep in - more on that in a minute.

About the service we rendered on Saturday. It probably deserves it's own post, but I will tell you here anyway. Our church has been organizing and sponsoring relief efforts for the victims of the hurricane. So on Saturday I got up at 5:30 am, showered, got my family up, packed lunches, waters, and supplies, and off we went. Had to drop off the 14 and 15 year old in one place, where they would be helping make sandwiches and dinner for some of the volunteers. They didn't have to work all day, but they had to spend the entire day at the church because we were elsewhere. We then traveled to another church where we received a little training on safety and procedures, we were grouped in work teams, given assignments, and off we went. We spent the day cleaning out basements. The first one was part of a very old, historic house, and the basement was very dark with low ceilings. We had to shovel out all of the dirt (mud, really, because it was still wet) that was left from the water that had come up to the basement ceiling during the storm. There was seaweed hanging from the electrical wires stretching across the top of the room. we loaded the mud in buckets and hauled it outside, ducking as we went through the low doorways. The other basements were more modern, and that consisted of hauling out people's belongings that were ruined by the water - clothing, furniture, toys, all the types of things that we store in our basements. One woman had bought a wide screen tv for Christmas - ruined. We then swept up or vacuumed up the rest of the water. We also took a walk to the beach where we saw half of the sand swept up onto the road. All of the businesses in that area were boarded up and not reopening. These people had just finished remodeling and recovering from hurricane Irene. We went into one home where the water had come halfway up the walls on the first floor of their home. All of the sheetrock was taken down.

It was such a rewarding experience to take part in that project. Having (almost) our whole family participate, working with friends from church, hearing from the others that my husband helped a boy who was walking by with his bike. The chain had fallen off. My husband taught him how to put it back on and fix it so it wouldn't fall off again. Everyone was so nice and anxious to tell their stories. We helped people of different nationalities, religions, and lifestyles. We helped people that were unable or unwilling to help themselves. AND IT FELT SO GOOD. And we had fun! My poor husband was stuck with 5 women on his team. We did have other help at different times as the different teams would join each other on a project. But we laughed, all day we laughed - especially as the day wore on and we got tired and a little silly.

And that is what continually amazes me about the Lord. He asks us to serve others. And to us, it sounds like a burden. But then, if we do it, we find out that it actually BENEFITS US! Everything He asks of us, everything, is for our good, even when we are helping others. His love for us never ceases to amaze me.

Sorry that was so long, the rest will be shorter!

On My Reading Pile
Luke in the New Testament.

On My TV
We finally watched We Bought a Zoo, after Netflix sent us a new disc. It was cute - a great family movie. My kids also watch Paranormal Activity 3, but I cannot stand those movies. Now they are waiting to go back.

On the Menu
Don't know yet, that is what I should do when I finish this!

On My To Do List
It's funny how it is when you are in the mode - when I got home on Saturday, even though I was physically exhausted, I looked at my kitchen floor and was appalled at how dirty it was, so I vacuum and steam cleaned it. The good news is that I don't have to think about it for a few days now! So today I have cleaning the bathrooms on my agenda, but that is all. Oh, other than a trip to the grocery store. Oh, and preparing a seminary lesson for tomorrow. I guess my day is full after all.

What I am Creating
nothing at the moment

Homemaking Tips
We will be having Thanksgiving at our house. This year I will be making the turkey the day before, carving it, and storing the meat slices in the drippings and reheating it the day of. I had seen this tip on another blog and loved it. The turkey will be just as tasty, and the work the day of will be minimal, giving me and my husband a chance to enjoy our family.

Looking Around the House
Watching my husband get his lunch together to bring to work. Getting his requests for groceries. There are some things that need to be put away (I am looking at rubber gloves and safety masks sitting on the counter). It would be nice to see a fire in the fireplace. Perhaps one will be built, since my 14 year old is home today. = )

From the Camera
From my phone: this is NOT supposed to be the beach, this is supposed to be the road leading to the beach

Some of the trash we hauled out of a couple of basements

On My Prayer List
The hurricane victims, my children (including my other seminary students), my dad.

Bible Verse
Matthew 25:40

"...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me"

Well, everyone is awake now and asking for pancakes. Have a great week!

November 5, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday November 5th

It is my favorite time of year, the season of giving thanks! What a perfect lead in to the season of celebrating the birth of our Savior, by focusing on our blessings and feeling gratitude for all that we have. So, with that in mind, it is time to participate in HAPPY Homemaker Monday. See Sandra's blog for more Happy Homemaker posts.

The Weather
Brrr! But I am NOT complaining! It is in the 40's today and not rising, but it is sunny and hurricane free, so I will take it!

Right Now I am
I admit it, I just got up. After teaching seminary and bringing my kids to school, I came home and went right back to bed. So now I have to get going with laundry and tidying up. 

About all of the people living around me in horrible conditions. We have friends that are from Long Island and still have family living there. Besides no electricity, the sewers are not working, and schools will be closed for the rest of the year! Their first priority for restoring power is to the schools - just so they can send the student transcripts off so they can transfer to a different school. And, they have to drive to a different state to buy gasoline for their generators. I am so thankful that the Lord protected us from these perils. Now I have to find ways to help those that are in need.

On My Reading Pile
Just the New Testament. We are starting Luke this week.

On My TV
Well, we finally were going to watch We Bought a Zoo, but found out the disc was damaged, so I reported it but still have to send it back. This week we watched the first four episodes of Glee on the computer. Now that it is on Thursday nights we cannot watch it due to our schedules.

On the Menu for This Week
Tonight four of us will be going to the fall sports banquet, so I do not have to cook tonight. I haven't planned out the rest of the week yet. First we have some leftovers to eat up.

On My To Do List
Laundry, seminary lesson planning, and taking my daughter for her annual physical.

What I am Creating
I have all the ingredients for making my own laundry soap (I spent Saturday sanitizing my washing machine - I have a front loader and the gasket gets mildew which is caused by the animal fats in the detergent and softeners, so I am going to make my own.)

Looking Around the House
A little bit messy! I need to clean off the kitchen counters. I still have my mason jars with the candles in them from the hurricane last week. Need to put them away along with some other stuff.

From the Camera
I thought I took pictures of the hurricane, but turns out I only took videos. But here is one of my oldest eating canned food and surrounded by lanterns and camping supplies:

On My Prayer List
Myself, my kids (especially the oldest above), and the hurricane victims.

Bible Verse
"And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief"  Mark 9:24

I love that this man recognized and confessed his lack of faith. I also love that he knew who to turn to to help him increase his faith - our beloved Savior.

Hope you all have a great week!

October 30, 2012

Being Over Prepared is Much Better Than Being Under Prepared

We like to complain around here. And I am sure I will be seeing comments on Facebook (especially from the younger set) about how the forecasters cried wolf. Except that these complainers would be wrong. We were very blessed in my part of the state. I saw a map of power outages. The towns with less than 10% power outages were nestled in the south central portion of the state, right where we live! The shoreline towns are a mess, and they continue to have to deal with flooding with every high tide. So WE were lucky, my family, our neighbors, our church family. And I am very grateful. Because I would rather be over prepared than under prepared, like last year when the snow storm hit one year ago. (I just got a code red alert - there are 75 homes in town without power.)

And we did fine. Our power went off about 8 times yesterday but came right back on every time. I am not putting the bottles of water and camping supplies away until tomorrow, however, since we still have some wind and the trees are weakened. Just in case.

But all is well. Thank you for your good wishes and your prayers, they are very much appreciated!


October 29, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday - Hurricane Sandy Edition!

Whew! We are on the outskirts of a hurricane and the wind is blowing! But, I still have electricity (so far), so here I am, ready to join in today! Please see Sandra's blog for more Happy Homemaker Monday.

The Weather
See above! Right now I can hear the wind more than see it, so it must be high because the trees are not moving around as much as the sound warrants. It is raining but it is not a heavy rain. My neck of the woods is not supposed to have tons of rain, our biggest threat is coastal flooding, so people on the shoreline had to evacuate. I am inland and 800 feet above sea level. My biggest threats are downed trees and loss of electricity. If you see my post below I talk more about our preparations.

Right Now I Am
Enjoying the electricity! I am tempted to make cookies, but I don't want to get stuck with the sticky cleanup should the electricity go off, so I won't. We have plenty of packaged treats to get us through. I am keeping my computer plugged in so that I start with a full battery once the electricity goes off. My daughter packed her things and moved next door to her BFF's house. My boys are in various parts of the house. School is closed today and tomorrow, and most likely longer. I am waiting for the cat to indicate that he wants to go outside, but he must sense that it is not a good idea! I turned up the thermostat in the house so we can have some warmth for the time being.

Of my blessings. We live in a small town (around 8,000). We have a red alert system, so the mayor has sent us three updates so far. The crews from the electric company are in town and ready to get to work as soon as the storm is over (Wednesday). Our fire house will open then and we can go there to take showers, get water, and charge our cell phones and computers. Our IGA grocery in town is open until 1 pm (the state is closing the highways at that time) and will reopen after the storm. They too will have charging stations. They have a generator so they will be open even if the power is out, and they have lots in stock. The mayor will let us know when they reopen the store. I have a church with a membership that takes care of one another. If I have any problems or need anything, I can call any number of people to get the help that I need. And, most importantly, I have family around. My parents and sister are close (within 20 minutes). We check on each other during the day. My dad's health is compromised, so he is the one we are most concerned with - he gets cold easily. And, my husband's brother and parents are within an hour of us, and they both have generators wired to the house, so if we are without electricity for an extended period of time, it is worth the trip for a hot shower and a hot meal! And lastly, and most important, I have the Lord. I had a training class yesterday for my seminary teaching and I wasn't going to go because I had to prepare for the hurricane, but my friend talked me into going with her. I am so glad I did. It was a spiritual boost and a perfect way to prepare my psyche for the days ahead. 

On My Reading Pile
I have lots of books on my Kindle, which is fully charged, plus lots of paper books downstairs, so I will be taking advantage of the opportunity I now have to read! Will share what I am reading when the time comes!

On My TV
My husband picked up The Innkeepers yesterday. It was filmed in a city north of us, which was really the only reason to watch it. We have The Village and STILL have We Bought a Zoo. A lot of what is playing on my tv, however, is the news.

On the Menu for This Week
I cooked up most of my chicken that I had in the freezer (the rest can be grilled), so we will be eating a LOT of chicken. I shredded it and mixed some with salsa - I don't have any tortillas though, but we do have chips and rolls to eat it on. The other half I mixed with bbq sauce. The rest of our meals will be eating up the foods in our freezer. We have individual frozen pizzas, which we can heat on the grill if need be, breaded fish fillets, tuna steaks, and some leftover foods in Foodsaver bags. After that we have easy mac, raman noodle soups, canned soups, rice, potato, and noodle packets that just require water. After that I have tons of rice, beans, quick cooking oats, instant potatoes, and even milk powder stored for emergencies, but I don't think we will have to get into that.

On My To-Do List
Wait it out! I actually get to relax and hang out. We are washing our dishes as we use them so we do not get stuck with a lot of dirty dishes to wash and no water to wash them with. I did all the laundry that I am going to do until the storm is over. The house is clean enough for now. I am sweeping as I go (the leaves keep coming in the house), so life is good!. Oh, I might take a chance on the cookie baking, because I have three eggs left that will have to get used. If the electricity doesn't flash off by the time my oven is heated, I am going for it!

What I am Creating
Do memories count?

Homemaking Tip
If you are expecting a power outage, cook up your raw meats and refreeze them. I would much rather have cooked meat thawing than raw. If you use the vacuum sealed bags, you can just heat them up in hot water. Oh, and I highly recommend a gas grill with a side burner, or some type of gas burner. If you have a gas stove, lucky you!

Looking Around the House
On my kitchen island there are gallon bottles of water for flushing, lanterns and candles ready to go, various camping supplies to make food prep easier. On my counter by the sink is a 5 gallon cooler of water (with a spout) for hand washing. In my garage is a stack of firewood. On my deck is my gas grill and an upside down patio table, both tied to the deck railings.

From the Camera
Tying down the table to prepare for the winds.

On My Prayer List
All of us in the path of Hurricane Sandy. And thank you, Sandra, and everyone else for your prayers. 

From the Bible
I hope you will indulge me here. I am a Latter-Day Saint and what I want to share with you comes from our modern revelation, but it is most appropriate for me right now.

"If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear"

Sure it is good and important to have water, food, and wood stored and ready to use, but I am most grateful that I attended church and my seminary training yesterday, because spiritual preparation is most important. 

Have a great week everyone, and stay safe!

Preparing for a Hurricane

(this photo, courtesy of Google images, is of a home in my state after the hurricane of 1938)

We have been hearing that the devastation from Hurricane Sandy can be as bad, if not worse, as the hurricane of '38. I live inland, about 800 feet above sea level, and although there is a reservoir down the road from me, it is, in fact, down from me, as in downhill quite a bit. So, the biggest threats for my family are downed trees and power outages. My husband cut down some dead tree limbs yesterday, raked up the leaves (because it will be a lot harder if they are full of sticks), and piled lots of wood in our garage so it can stay dry. He works for the telephone company so I won't be seeing much of him for the next couple of days.

Now I do not claim to be an expert of anything, but I am learning as I go, and last year gave me two opportunities to learn when we lost power from a tropical storm and then a snowstorm.  We have well water, therefore we need electricity to pump water into our house, so when the power goes out, our access to water dries up, pun intended. So a lot of my preparation involves getting water ready. I cannot fill my bathtub because it doesn't hold water. So, we have a 5 gallon cooler with a spout that is holding water for hand washing. We have used milk and juice containers holding water for flushing the toilets (we have to pour the water into a bucket first, then pour the water into the toilet to flush it; the water doesn't come out of the containers fast enough to create the pressure necessary for flushing if we pour it directly into the toilet). We have gallon jugs of drinking water. We have refilled gallon jugs of water for dish washing and cooking. We have 20 oz. bottles of water for drinking. When all of that runs out, we have a pool where we can get more water for flushing, and our town's fire department, which has a huge generator, has a water supply we can use. Meanwhile I am running the dishwasher for the last time, after that we have to hand wash our dishes as we use them so we do not get stuck with a dishwasher full of dirty dishes once the power goes out. And, I am currently drying my last load of laundry, as I do not want to get stuck with soaking wet, half washed clothes sitting in my washer once the power goes out.

I have cleaned out my deep freezer and it is filled with plastic containers and used water bottles full of water for ice blocks to keep what food I have left cold after the power goes out.  I have a huge box of frozen pizzas from my warehouse store, so I went on-line and learned how to cook frozen pizzas on a gas grill (hint: you thaw them first, not a problem if the power goes out!). We have lots of cans of soup and other heat and eat foods, and other foods that just need water. I cooked what raw meat I had in the freezer, sealed it in bags and put the cooked meat back in the freezer; this way we just have to thaw the bag in hot water and eat. I have canned vegetables but can easily cook fresh veggies on the grill. Our grill has a side burner - best thing ever.

I am charging all of my devices tonight, whether they needed it or not. My phone can be charged in my car and we have a USB adapter for the other devices. We do have a generator but it is a pain to start and it doesn't last more than 45 minutes, and it is not hard wired into our house so we cannot run the furnace on it., but we can use it to recharge computers and such. We do have a fireplace and a kerosene heater that works pretty good. We have 20 degree sleeping bags (thanks to Boy Scouts) and lots of fleece sheets and blankets. I have long johns and fuzzy socks.  We have a portable radio with fresh batteries and battery powered lanterns, plus candles and flashlights.

Our biggest problem is showering, but we have friends with city water and a gas heater so we can go there. Our firehouse also has showers but they limit you to 2 minutes which is not enough time to wash hair!

It is quiet in the house - everyone has gone to bed but me, as I wait for the dryer to finish. I look forward to crawling into my warm bed, thanks to my electric blanket, for perhaps the last time for a few days. I'm hoping that we can keep our power until at least midday tomorrow, but I am really hoping that because of my preparations we do not lose power at all! It is not likely that we will be so lucky though. As I type this I can hear the wind gusts, but I do not hear any trees creaking, so that is a positive thing.

I hope everyone stays warm and stays safe. My prayers are with everyone who was, is, or will be in Sandy's path. God bless.