Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
- It was so much fun to read your comments about your various domestic influences--thanks for taking the time to share! I even learned a new tip from Gail, who cooks her chicken breasts in the crockpot. I tried it last week, and loved how easy it was. Plus, our dog appreciated the bonus broth created in the process!
- You may recall my post about watching HSM2 with a lively 200 college women. Well, I couldn't resist seeing the newest release on opening night (the 9:30 pm showing--yikes!) with a sold-out college crowd. So much fun to watch this movie in such an energetic environment. Quite a few of the students chose to wear either prom dresses or graduation gowns to celebrate the "senior year" theme of the movie, which added to the festivities. (Anyone else go see it?!)
- If you plan to order anything on-line in the near future, I strongly suggest you check out Ebates. You can open an account by clicking here, and you can then earn money for each purchase you make through the site. It's like a portal--you can still order from your favorite sites, you just start by clicking through Ebates so you can earn credit. And by signing up on the link listed above, you and I each earn $5 in our accounts--what a deal!
- Take a minute to click over here and support breast cancer awareness by helping donate mammograms to women who need them--it costs no money--only a few seconds of your time!
- Apparently, I've developed a reputation as the "campus sub." =) Before Nathan was born, I worked in public relations at the college, and the woman who took my position will be moving next month. So once again, I'll be stepping into an interim situation. I start the second week of November, and am unsure of the time frame, as it depends on when they can find a replacement.
- I'm really appreciating singer songwriter Sara Groves right now. I recently saw her in concert--a unique night of music and challenge, and the following week she was our featured speaker at MOPS (via video). This particular song of Sara's sets a nice stage for tomorrow's post . . .
Friday, October 24, 2008
My blogging friend Katie started passing around a jar at her church. You can find photos of her jars and poem here. Starr, a pastor's wife in Michigan, also wanted to get this going at her church, and she also put together two jars! She even included a list of the names of each family in her church so people can keep track of who has received the jar. Her post can be found here.
Before I even had a chance to decorate a new jar (sadly, my first treat jar was never returned to me, though I know who has it!), our MOPS group decided to do a traveling treat plate. So the idea works the same way, except we'll write the name of each recipient in permanent marker on the bottom. But otherwise, it will get filled up with goodies!
I'm actually delivering the plate today to one of the moms in my group (pictured above). I decided to give her some yummy pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, and have included the recipe below. I confess when I heard the name of that combination, I didn't think I would like them. But they are delicious--and easy. And better yet, a batch makes two dozen, so there are plenty to both share and keep. Enjoy--and if you've started or received a traveling treat jar/plate, I'd love to hear about it!
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1 1/4 c vegetable oil
3 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. salt
2 c. chocolate chips
In large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil until smooth. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 400 for 16-18 minutes. Cool.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Here are a few examples of what I'm talking about:
*My mom always had one of those cool nut grinders with a hand crank, and I decided I wanted one, too. My mom often buys us whole pecans/walnuts for Christmas, so I keep the bags in the freezer and chop the nuts fresh.
*I don't really remember cooking chicken until I lived on my own, though perhaps I did. So I figured out my own method: I always set out the meat to thaw overnight in the fridge, then dice it up raw and cook it piecemeal over the stove. Until last year when my sister came to visit, I didn't realize that she and my mom have a completely different approach of cooking chicken by steaming it in a skillet with water!
*My mom told me the best way to cook rice is from the More with Less cookbook, a gem she gave me a few years ago.
*I had never heard of this little tool until I saw one at my mother-in-law's house. I now own one and think it's a handy invention.
*I've mentioned this before, but following my mom's example, I use crushed garlic from a jar. I do love the flavor of fresh, but this is one area that convenience is a real plus!
*I learned from my mom that carrots absolutely must be peeled to be eaten. I remember being at a family gathering a long time ago, and my mom was not a fan of the carrot sticks that still had the peel on them!
What about you--who/what have been some of your domestic influences? What skills and methods have you learned from someone else, and what have you figured out on your own?
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Fast forward to last fall when I won a copy of the first book, At Home in Mitford, from blogger Kathleen Marie. I expected the book to be cheesy but decided to read it anyway. Well, I was pleasantly surprised--and also hooked. The nice thing about waiting until a series is completely published is that I didn't have to wait for the next book to come out. =) Just a couple weeks ago, I finished the eighth and final book in the series, and I was sad to see it end.
I found myself engrossed in each story. The characters were very developed--and very real. I like that. I also like that the setting is a small town, with some similarities to my current residence. Though these books are not listed as "Christian fiction" (which I personally can be critical of), author Jan Karon shows no qualms about including Scripture and spiritual themes in her books. So refreshing!
What are your thoughts on this series? I'd love to hear if you've read any of these books or not--and whether you found them to be as delightful as I did, or if they weren't really your thing.
Monday, October 20, 2008
- My bigger focus at this season in my life is simplifying -- which sometimes means the "natural" choice is out (like the one you mention of soaking grains).
- I am not alone in wondering if I am doing enough but doing the best I can. I do think it is all about baby steps.
- I take some steps forward and sometimes I take some steps backward. I just try and do the best I can with my time & resources, but I hope that I will be able to do more and more each year.
- I don't need to do it all at once, or all of it ever. I feel like it's more of a journey than a destination.
- I'm definitely in the baby step club. I'm always thinking what else I could do, but focusing on one change at a time is a beautiful start to something great... a journey of change that is motivated by integrity and a teachable spirit.
- I want to live mindfully. I love the idea of being more natural and getting away from chemicals and pollutants. But too often cost or convenience or just flat-out being overwhelmed by all the choices out there wins out. I often become paralyzed by too much information or too many choices.
Thanks for challenging and encouraging me with your comments and ideas. The funny thing about starting a "club" is that I didn't give that line much thought when I wrote the post. Ironically, when several people wanted to join, I felt paralyzed in the same way I do when approaching other aspects of this topic! So, it occurred to me that the best thing to do was something small to move forward--aka a baby step, which means finally writing this post as an initial response!
I was hung up on trying to think of a catchy name and all that jazz, and the thing is that I think we can just keep it a community, at least for now. Instead of having an official name or guidelines or trying to keep track of members, it can just be loose and flexible. I'll keep posting about my baby steps with natural living, and would love for you to do the same via comments here or on your own blog.
And by the way, over the weekend, I started reading the book Gorgeously Green, which was recently recommended to me by my friend Amy. It was also reviewed earlier this year by another blog friend named Amy! Some lines from the introduction of the book definitely related to this idea of making little changes that add up: "My motto is one change makes a difference, and if you can make two, that's even better!" The author admits that once she became more aware of the issues and research related to "green living," she felt really overwhelmed. "The most important thing," she says, "was the baby steps I took at the beginning. I had to realize that I couldn't change everything at once and that all I had to do was change one tiny thing a day."
That's great encouragement. I'll keep sharing what I'm learning from this book and other sources, and pointing you to posts I come across on this topic. I do hope you'll keep with me on this journey--you motivate me to stay with it!
Friday, October 17, 2008
Here is what the women said:
Andrea, age 41: owns 40 pairs, wears 8
Charissa, age 32: owns 50 pairs, wears 20
Danna, age 35: owns 25 pairs, wears 10
I was amazed by those numbers, in terms of the ratio of pairs owned to those actually used, so I decided to conduct my own shoe survey. I counted 19 pairs in my closet, 9 of which I wear regularly. I then had to evaluate the remaining 10 pairs. Four of them are formal (for weddings, etc.), and though they are worn infrequently, I consider them an investment worth storing. Of the six pairs left, I decided to part with 3 of them, and will keep the other 3 for awhile to see if they enter back into the rotation.
Personally, I consider it a stewardship issue to do these kinds of inventories. It opened my eyes that I own 19 pairs of shoes, but wear just a fraction of them regularly. I'd like to use this little exercise in some other areas of my closet and home so I can better evaluate if I am actually using stuff or if it could better be passed on to someone else who needs it.
How about you--anyone else willing to make a closet confession?
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Things went much better last time, so we’ve decided to continue our simplified approach. Please read the following details carefully.
1. In order to participate, you must either have swapped successfully with us before, or you must be a regular commenter on one of our blogs (The Homespun Heart/with all that I’ve been given). We had many people write last time and ask what qualifies a regular commenter. This does not mean you have to comment daily, or even weekly, but we need to recognize your name when you sign up.
Before you send us an e-mail, please consider if you have the time and resources to fulfill your swap. Every swap, we have at least one person who writes to say they’ll be late in sending their box because they can’t afford the shipping. We want to respect your financial situation, and ask that you consider joining in next time instead.
2. You need to fill out your questionnaire as part of the sign-up. In order to sign up for this swap, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the following info:
complete mailing address
blog site, if you have one
Please indicate if you would be willing to ship internationally.
Also, please answer the following questions in the e-mail. The more thorough your answers, the better we can match you with someone complementary.
What does the word “harvest” mean to you?What is your favorite thing about the fall season?These next questions are to indicate your preferences--feel free to elaborate on your choices:
Hot weather or cold
Tea or coffee
Cake or pie
Buy it or make it
Book or movie
Sign-up entries must be complete to be included. Even if you’ve swapped with us before, please send all of the information requested above.
Important dates to consider:
Sign-ups due by 8 a.m. (CST) Thursday, October 16, or when 40 people have signed up.
Partner info will be e-mailed to you by October 20.
Please send your shoebox by Friday, November 7.
If you have not received an e-mail from us by October 22, please check your “junk” folder.
Thanks, and happy swapping!
Monday, October 13, 2008
I have lots of little updates to share, so this post promises to be long and rambling. Hang on for the ride!
*Eric got quite the boost last week--thanks for all your birthday wishes and your fun comments about our engagement story. He had a wonderful b-day. I decided to surprise him big time by booking him on a flight to Chicago so he could in turn surprise his brother, who ran the big marathon yesterday. (BIG props to Ryan, who not only finished but did it in style--just 3 hours, 18 minutes!) Just so you know, this is a way bigger gift than usual, but I really wanted to do something special and we won't see his family at Christmas this year . . . Eric and I decided several years ago to give each other "experiential" birthday gifts, and I'd say this definitely fit that description!
* I haven't been able to get it together yet to write the Mitford book post, or to follow up with the natural living baby steps club idea. Still percolating . . .
* Tracy recently reminded me that I've been wanting to put in a plug for adjusting your blog settings so I can reply directly to your comments via e-mail. Many of you already have this feature, which is great. If you don't, and aren't sure how to set it up, my friend Leah explains how here.
*Lastly, a couple of you asked what a Scotcheroo bar is, including my own sister! So, here's the recipe. They are so not healthy, and I don't make them often, but what a special treat. Eric said if he had to pick his final meal, he would pick a pan of these bars. I wouldn't go that far =), but they really are delicious!
Bring to a boil: 1 c. sugar and 1 c. light corn syrup
Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/4 c. peanut butter
Fold in 6 c. Special K cereal
Spread in 9x13 pan.
For topping, melt 1 c. each of butterscotch and chocolate chips. Spread over top of cereal mixture.
Friday, October 10, 2008
4. You go out to the bar. What does he order? We don't go to the bar. Other than water, he drinks Coke or IBC Root Beer.
6. What size shoe does he wear? 10
7. If he was to collect anything, what would it be? Eric is not a collector, really. He does save all his pheasant feathers, though. Thankfully, he's gotten rid of most of his baseball cards.
10. What is his favorite cereal? Fruit Harvest, Frosted Flakes, Frosted Mini Wheats
11. What would he never wear? pink, a V-neck shirt, or a tie =)
14. Who is his best friend? Me (Right?!)
15. What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn't do? worry
17. What is his heritage? Dutch and Swedish
18. You bake him a cake for his birthday; what kind of cake? Better-than-almost-anything cake =) (That's what the Betty Crocker box calls it!)
20. What could he spend hours doing? Fishing and hunting
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
We had a country/farm theme, so I needed to dress the part. (You can see Baby #2 starting to make an appearance--an entire month earlier this second time around!)
What good is a farm theme with no animals? We brought in a small petting zoo, and kids were even allowed to give the animals little pellets of food. Nathan says "Baby goats, Mama!" multiple times a day.
I have mixed feelings about being done. I won't miss rushing around in the mornings, but it was fun, and I think it will be challenging adjusting back to being home full time. I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to work part-time, but I'm also grateful I can stay home with Nathan.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
- Campbell Soup Co. just started a neat campaign called "Help Grow Your Soup." Stop by their site, and click on the red barn (you can do so once a day through June 2009!), and they'll donate a dollar to the National FFA Organization (an agricultural education group) "to help fuel the future of American farming."
- Isn't Monica's hospitality inspiring? Though I don't anticipate hosting any Ugandans anytime soon, I would like to try this dinner of curried beans (sans tomato) and chapati. Yum!
- One of my college roomies, Hayley (who I wrote about here), recently started a blog. Stop by and say hi, and while you're there, check out this cute centerpiece idea!
- I just learned about an interesting site from my friend Amanda. I didn't know if I wanted to take the 20 minutes to watch the educational film, but I'm glad I did. It's an eye-opening look at U.S. consumption patterns. The video is full of facts and statistics--one of the statements that stood out to me is that the United States makes up 5% of the world's population, and yet we use 30% of the world's resources and produce the same percentage of the world's waste. Tragic! At the end of the video, there's a list of 10 practical ways we can help play address the issues from the film. Definitely gives us some things to think about . . .
Thanks for all your great comments on Monday's post. I wasn't sure what the reaction would be about my proposed "club," but quite a few of you were enthusiastic. I need to give it some more thought--for one thing, it needs a better name (any ideas?), so I'll post again soon when I've formulated some more details. Thanks for joining me on this journey!