Thursday, March 31, 2011

Treasure Hunting...

Last week my husband and I went on a date.  A real date.  Not a "we are getting our taxes done and only have half the kids with us so let's call it a date" kind of date, but a few hours of time just for us.

We went out for lunch and walked through some antique shops.  I can't remember the last time we did that.

I love looking at antiques and browsing through old things.  I wonder what stories the items would tell.  Things that have been passed on or left behind.  Things from a simpler time that seems like another world now.

I gave a few things a new home.

For years I have been looking for a cream and sugar set.  It couldn't be too fancy or too generic.  Nothing seemed just right.  When I would have someone over for coffee, I would bring out my cute little sugar jar and then plop the big ol' gallon of milk on the table.

I found this little cream pitcher and I thought it was perfect.  It's a little earthy and different but I think it fits my home...and it's perfect for watering my little windowsill plants.

Then I picked up these cast iron birds...and put them down.  And picked them up...and put them down again.   I actually walked away and then went back to get them.  I think they are so simple and sweet, but I couldn't decide if I wanted them.  They don't serve a purpose and I couldn't think of where I would put them.  I've been on this anti-clutter mission and I did not want to bring more in my home that I wouldn't use. 

But...they make me smile.

And they will forever remind me of our perfect date.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Love and Pie Crust

{photo credit}

My husband called me as he was leaving work:

"So, what's for dinner?"
"I made a chicken pot pie."
I could hear the overly enthusiastic excitement in his voice.
"Wife, you rock!"

I hate making pie crusts.  I love cooking, I love baking, and I love a challenge in the kitchen, but pie not fun.  I like shaping it once it's in the pie pan, I enjoy making it pretty, it's just the mixing and the rolling and the mess of flour and sticky dough that I always end up with.

I have tried to compromise with my husband.  "Can I just make biscuits instead?"
I guess it's just not the same.

Yes, I know I could just buy pre-made pie crusts, but I am too cheap and prideful to just give in when it's something I should be able to make myself.

As I was planning dinner, I could have just made something simple.  I do have 5 kids in the house after all, and preparing dinner is never peaceful.

I made pie crust...because this is love.

I knew after a stressful day at work, he would want to come home to the smell of his favorite comfort food in the oven.  He knows how much I despise making pie crusts and it meant that much more to him.

I chose him over my own convenience.  I chose him over my feelings.  I chose him...and this is love.

This was no big sacrifice on my part, but isn't it the little things that make love so sweet?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Children and Chores

We are a larger family and while this brings a lot more love and fun into our lives, it also brings a lot more mess!  It takes a lot of work to run this house and I can't do it alone.  I have taught the kids from very early on, that we are a family...we each have a special place and we work together to make life easier.

I want my kids to have a strong work ethic and a confidence in their life skills.  Spoiled, lazy children turn into spoiled, lazy teenagers who wake up one day and have no idea how to be an adult.  I am certainly not a slave master over my children.  I don't ask more of them than I think they are capable of, and many times they ask to do more chores than I give them.

I keep the littlest ones close to me.  My toddlers become my little shadow and follow me throughout my day.  When they are out of my sight, they are usually getting into trouble, so until they have earned my trust, they are my little buddy.

I used to get so frustrated.  I felt like having a 2 year old in the house meant everything I did would be undone.  This still happens a lot, but taking a few moments to teach him how to help me has saved me a lot more work later.   My 2 year old helps me unload the dishwasher, pulls the clothes out of the dryer and into the hamper and helps unload the grocery bags.

As they get a little older I start giving them more specific jobs.  My 3 year old is our official sock matcher.  While I am folding laundry, he sits on the floor with a pile of socks.  He finds the matches and hands them to me for folding.  To him, it's a game and he is excited to do it.  At this age they can pick up after themselves, though I don't expect perfection.  I focus more on personal chores, like brushing their teeth and putting their dirty clothes in the hamper.

My 5 and 7 year olds now have a chore chart and receive and allowance.  The charts we are using are reusable and customizable.  They receive 5 cents for each chore done.  If they fill in the whole chart it is about $2.00 for the week.  I personally think this is an appropriate amount for their age.  If they do extra work they will earn a bonus.  Hard work should be rewarded.  My 7 year old actually asked if he could have 2 charts because he was trying to save up for something.

We change the chores every few weeks just to mix it up a bit.  The basic chores on their charts are:  Parent Helper, Set Table, Clean Bedroom, Pet Care, Laundry (mostly putting away clean clothes), Dishes (clearing their plates from the table and putting them in the dishwasher or sink), Empty Garbage, Babysit (usually playing with the baby while I make dinner), and Be Happy (having a good attitude in schoolwork, being kind to each other and joyful obedience).

I knew giving them an allowance would be motivation, but it has also reinforced math skills and taught them how to handle money.

I'm sure as the kids grow things will change, but for now, this is what works for us.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Beyond the Baby...

I have continuously had a baby or toddler (or both!) in diapers for the last 7 years.  So as you can imagine we have gone through thousands of baby wipes.

Even when we used cloth diapers and wipes, I still had a box of disposible baby wipes around.  Especially in my car because they are great for wiping off sticky hands and faces and for getting spit up off your clothes.

So what's a simple mom to do with all the empty wipes containers?  Organize, of course!

These are great little boxes.  They are sturdy plastic with a hinged lid that locks in place, but is still easy enough to open with one hand.

We use them for storing crayons and colored pencils.  They are the perfect size and stack neatly.  I keep one under my kitchen sink for extra sponges and scrubbers, and of course, they are great in the nursery for keeping nail clippers, bulb suringes and extra pacifiers.

I have also taken the lids off to neatly store taller items.  I use one to keep medication and thermometers up out of reach.  I use another for holding sunblock and bug spray and other little items that just don't have a place.

You can find baby wipes containers in lots of cute designs now or let your older kids design their own with stickers and permenant markers.  They are perfect for holding little treasures or hair clips.

So the next time you finish off a box of wipes, think beyond the baby.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Homemade Olive Garden Bread sticks

Here is my recipe for bread sticks that I think are pretty close to The Olive Garden's.  It's made in a bread machine, so it's super easy. 

1 cup water, room temperature
3 Tbsp. oil
3 cups bread flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 package yeast

  • Place all ingredients in bread machine in order per manufacturer's instructions (mine is in the order listed).
  • Set for dough cycle.
  • Divide dough into 12 pieces, roll and shape each into an 8 inch rope
  • Place  1/2 inch apart on a cookie sheet ( I line it with parchment paper)
  • Sprinkle with salt
  • Let rise until doubled, about 20 minutes
  • Bake at 425 for 10 minutes or until slightly browned.
  • Mix together 1/2 stick melted butter and 1/4 tsp. garlic powder and brush over warm bread sticks
Enjoy!  Let me know how they turn out!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pure and Simple

When I wrote about my collection of glass jars I never anticipated such an enthusiastic response.  So, today I finally got around to taking some pictures.

As I went through the house I kept finding more and more jars that I had forgotten about.  I told you I was a little obsessed!  :)

So, enjoy!  I hope you are inspired to give old jars a new life!

Salsa jars are now drinking glasses

In my pantry

My button jar

My sewing kit in an old candle jar

I've had this jar forever.  It holds my brushes and my water while I'm painting.

Some of my favorites

In the bathroom

My 3 year old was interested in this one!

A candle jar now holds birdseed

This huge jar was a gift from my sister-in-law (who is another jar crazy girl).
It holds bread flour.


My cute little sugar jar.  I use this every morning for my coffee.

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