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!