Tuesday, June 30, 2009

YAY!!! I’m so happy! Our air conditioner is fixed and our house is so cold! Yay!! Ok, I’m done celebrating now! Now it’s time for me to catch up on my laundry. I let our laundry go as long as I could while our AC was down because it made the house hotter (I was desperate- anything to make it a little less hot). Plus, our washer and dryer are in the garage which is not insulated or air conditioned. And since I was trying to stay as cool as possible, I only ventured in there if I absolutely had to! Even Corky didn’t want to go out there! I refer to it as our “sweltering jungle”. Anyway, I just piled it all in front of my washer. It looked a little something like this:

Four loads later it was a little better:

Still pretty bad! I guess I will keep working on it!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

How To Save A Roast

Since we spent the weekend at my parent's house, and it was my dad's birthday today, my mom and I decided to grill a pork roast on the outside grill (low and slow so it would be tender). Well, "something" happened and it looked like this:

Actually, the roast isn't in there, but you get the idea- burnt! We were delighted to find that it was very delicious and tender on the inside. so we decided to save it! First, we scraped off the fatty layer, which was really the only burnt part (there was a little burnage on the bottom). Then we placed it in a covered dish with about an inch of water (I've heard of people using watered down apple juice to revive meat but we didn't have any so we used water).

We put it in the oven, very low. when it was done, it was falling apart and delish- so yummy, so yummy (Yo Gabba). This is the half eaten finished product:

Anyhow that is how we saved our roast!

Arts and crafts...

Friday and Saturday, Corky and I had fun making some things:

First, She decorated one of those foam visor hats with foam flower stickers! Oh how she loves stickers! I didn't get a picture of it but she went a little overboard! Foamy sticker on top of foamy sticker... It was on both sides of the visor... so cute! Afterward, she carefully peeled the stickers off so she could put them back on again!

While she was busy with that, I decided to make her some play food out of those foam craft sheets. I got the idea to do this because I caught her using real food in her play kitchen! She was also trying to feed her stuffed animals with real food! I don't really know why I didn't think about getting her play food before. She has a play kitchen, play dishes, play silverware... but no play food! Silly mommy! Anyway, it turned out pretty good and she played with it for hours when I was done! I got a picture of it, but by the time I peeled it from her Chef Boyardee hands, she had already misplaced the orange, broccoli, a piece of bacon, and a pretzel!

On Saturday, she made Papa's birthday present! Papa has a huge boat and ship collection, so we got him a little wooden toy boat and Corky "painted" it with markers. She had fun doing it but then she wanted to give it to him right away. I tried to explain that his birthday is tomorrow, not today... it took a lot of convincing. I think I had success when I mentioned something about happy birthday cake!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I am so thankful today!!! Remember how I don’t like summer all that much? Well, our area has been in a heat advisory for the last week and a half! It’s been in the triple digits for a solid five days now. To top it all off, our AC has been on the fritz and we have had a horrible time convincing our landlord that it needs to be replaced! He thinks its okay to keep your house in the 80s in the dead summer heat! Grant it, 84 degrees feels good compared to 102 outside. But as for me and my house, the 80s stink!! Anyway, I am thankful today because he finally decided to replace it!!! But not until Monday. So in the mean time, we are doing whatever we can to stay cool. I finally had an epiphany and rigged a fan underneath the vent above our refrigerator, in order to blow some cool air into the kitchen (the air is cold, it just isn’t blowing very strong). We will be spending the Saturday and Sunday at my parent’s house to stay cool over the weekend, and then Monday our AC problems will be OVER!! Hopefully! Here is a picture for you to laugh at…

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Ramp

My parents recently had a wheelchair ramp put in for my dad. It is huge and we all think it's hideous! The shiny metal blares against their beautiful log home! Everyone think it's ugly except my daughter... Corky loves it. She thinks it is a big shiny new toy, just for her! She likes to roll her ball up and down and chase it. She also likes to hang on it. She has a lot of fun at Papa and Granny's!

Puddin' Paint

We spent father's day weekend at my parent's house. My dad is very sick (terminal) so we often travel 120 miles to their house and stay for the weekend. This is good because they get to see Corky and we all get to visit. She loves to go to Granny and Papa's house! Today, she was in a very crafty mood so we made Puddin' Paint! It's easy, all you need is some vanilla pudding cups and food coloring. You can also use different flavors of pudding if you don't want to add the food coloring. Or you could color it with natural things like blueberries. Her favorite color is purple, so we just made purple and pink. The best part is that it is completely edible. Surprisingly, she painted more than she ate! Here are some of her masterpieces!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Home Made Baby Wipes

Recently, I happened upon an idea for making your own baby wipes. I thought, "What a brilliant idea for saving money!" Also, have you ever looked at the list of ingredients on the back of the box? Even the ones that are "gentle", "for sensitive skin", "fragrance free", ect., still have loads of harsh ingredients! It is no wonder that babies scream when wiped with these things! Any how, I thought I would test it out on Corky, because after all, it is her bottom that will be the judge! So, I looked at all the various recipes online- there are a million! They all have a basic formula:

water, something to sooth, something to clean, disinfectant, and something to wipe.

Some people use the all-in-one wipes method. Others keep the wipe and cleaning solution separate (in a spray bottle or something). Also, you can make them disposable or washable/reusable. I chose to do all-in-one disposables (I know disposables aren't as good for the environment, but I needed something easy- I might try washables with our next child since Corky should be potty training soon!).

This is what worked for me:
3 cups warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup baby wash
4 drops tea tree oil

I mix it all and store in an airtight container (shake well before each use). Usually a batch of wipe solution will make about 4 batches of wipes.

Next, for the wipes, I use Viva paper towels because they are the softest. I have also used Bounty- they work well, they just aren't as soft. Also, I don't recommend using "select-a-size" type towels unless you have a small baby. Cut the paper towels in half cross ways, so they resemble a large roll of toilet paper. Use one half for each batch of wipes. Place the roll, cut side down, in an air tight container and pour a little over a half cup of solution evenly over the roll (if you use "big roll" towels, you will need to adjust the amount of solution). Then turn it over and repeat. Let it sit for an hour to saturate. It will seem like it isn't wet enough, but after an hour it should be just right. After an hour, pull the cardboard center out, and pull wipes from the center. If they are too dry, add some water, but be careful not to get them too wet! The first time I made them, they were so wet that I had to wring them out to use them- they were too soapy too!

* The reason this recipe is not exact is because all the recipes I tried were failures. So I adjusted it to fit my needs. I chose to mix a batch of solution, and just use what I need for each individual batch of wipes. Also, the amount of solution needed will vary depending on the brand of paper towel.

Many of the ingredients that I used can be substituted with items more suited to your individual baby. Here are some suggestions:

Water- you can use filtered, tap, or distilled
Something to sooth- baby oil, mineral oil, olive oil, baby lotion (be careful about ones that contain alcohol).
Something to clean- castile soap, any liquid baby soap that works for your baby (something gentle).
Disinfectant- This step can be skipped, tea tree oil, lavender oil, vitamin e liquid from capsules.
Wipe- Any strong paper towel, blue shop towels, strips of soft Cotton fabric (for washables).

*Note- Some of the sites where I found recipes stated that people have had trouble with the wipes mildewing. I have never had this happen. I don't know if it is because of the tea tree oil or because I use them so quickly. Anyway, keeping them tightly covered and out of the sunlight should help.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Well, summer is in full swing. Most people love summer, but it is actually my least favorite season! I like it for like a week and then I’m ready for the cool weather. The one great thing about summer is the swimming! I love to take Corky to the local pool- she absolutely loves it! I love to watch her at the pool because she has so much fun! It just makes me happy! Most of the time when we go, she has a blast and it’s great. But today was a different story…
She knew we were going to the pool after her nap, so she refused to go to sleep! I guess she was excited. Anyway, by the time we got to the pool, she was very tired and extremely cranky. To make matters worse, I forgot to bring her Mickey Mouse floaty (or donut, as she likes to call it)! Well, apparently she can not swim without that Mickey Mouse floaty, so my husband walked back home in the 95 degree weather to get it (we had walked to the pool- five blocks). By the time he got back, we had already had a severe meltdown! I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw him approach with that lovely red and blue “donut”! I thought, “Now everything will be okay- no more meltdowns!” Regretfully, that was not so! The remaining two hours that we were there, were a disaster! Sometimes I wonder why I bother to take my two-year-old out in public! I mean, I really didn’t want to go swimming. I would have been content staying inside with the air conditioner! I was doing that for her! Then she repays that act of kindness with tantrums, screaming, and even KICKING!!! My mom says, “She’s two...” That’s her answer to every tantrum (really that is the only answer that makes sense)!! So I wonder… She turns three in four months… will three be any better?! God knows I love her to pieces, but can three PLEASE be better?!
When we returned home, I realized that our house was rather warm. I ignored it, thinking that I was just overheated from dealing with a cranky toddler. By the time I was done cooking dinner, I realized something was wrong with the air conditioner! It was 80 degrees in our house and the thermostat was set on 72. So, I’m guessing that our AC is going out soon… Ahhh, summer!!! Don’t you just love it?!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

I love coupons! Really, I do. I admit that couponing takes a fair amount of work, but I am such a penny pincher that I think it is worth it (especially if you are trying to eat healthy or have specific dietary needs)! The trick is to not “clip” coupons. Instead, keep them in a binder until you need them. I will write about my coupon system later, in another post. For now I just want to rave about my good deal this week!

This week, Walgreen’s had a sale on Kashi and Kellogg’s cereal- 3 boxes for 10.00 (with a 3.00 Register Reward). I also had a 1.50 manufacturer’s coupon.

3 for $10.00 – $3.00 Reg. Reward – $1.50 Man. Coupon = $5.50 Total

That makes each box $1.84! That is a good deal!

I have been dying for some Kashi GoLean Crunch but refused to buy it because it is almost four dollars at Wal-Mart, at regular price! I just couldn’t live with myself if I paid that much for a box of cereal! I know, I really am a cheapskate!! But I love to save money and live sensibly. Paying four dollars for a box of cereal is not sensible (for me anyway)! However, by using coupons and smart shopping, I can still have the finer things in life… like Kashi cereal… hahahah! My mom thinks I’m crazy… maybe I am… muwhahaha!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I usually don't write on Sundays but I wanted to make an exception today. At our church service today, the worship team sang the song "I Need You To Survive" by Kirk Franklin. Part of the song says, "I'll pray for you, you pray for me, I love you. I need you to survive. I won't harm you with words from my mouth... I need you to survive". I've heard this song many times but today I really got it. About a year ago my family and I were members of a church in which there were many people who we grew up with. Most the members had known us for years and loved us (we thought). Through circumstances that are unnecessary to explain, we were given a ministry position. This wasn't our first ministry position, but we were young and quite capable of making mistakes. Anyway, have you ever heard the phrase, "If you try to please everyone, you will eventually please no one"? Well, let me tell you, that is true!!! In our quest to do everything right, we ended up being hurt by a lot of people that we love. Mostly it was just nasty comments or criticisms masked by the phrase, "trying to help". My husband and I were at fault too. When you are in the ministry, God is supposed to be your "boss", not people! We often forgot this fact. Eventually, we resigned our position and moved to a different city (because of my husband's job) and are currently attending another church. Today, when I heard that song, I realized that part of being a Christian is realizing how your actions and words affect others. Would things have been different at our former church if everyone had followed the lyrics of this song? Praying for each other and being careful not to hurt people with words from our mouths may have bettered the situation we were in. I am very thankful for where those experiences have brought us, however, next time I hope to remember this song and put these words into action! Here is a link to the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2ioId0zSiQ

Friday, June 5, 2009

Corky's Garden

When spring first sprung, Corky and I planted flowers in front of our house. We used seeds because I wanted her to see that those tiny little seeds could "grow up" and produce beautiful flowers! So we cleaned out the flower bed together- dug out all the rocks and weeds (she loves to play in the dirt). Then we planted all the seeds and watered them as needed. Soon after, we began to have horrible thunderstorms in our area (mid-south) and we had 19 days of rain in a row!!! We were a little worried about our plantlings (I make up words all the time), but after a few dry days we began to see lots of sprouts! They are coming along slowly, due to the extreme rain, but soon enough they will be flowers! When I was thinking about this post I realized that Corky is growing so fast I can hardly believe my eyes!! Just "yesterday" she was a little seed! Now she is a sprout. Soon she will be a big beautiful flower! I would like it if she could remain a sprout forever!! Well, I better stop before I cry. Here is Corky and Daddy watering the flowers!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

More steam bag recipes:

Steamed fruit:
3 cups of sliced fruit (stone fruits, apples, and pears work best)
2 Tbs. apple juice
2 Tbs. brown sugar or natural honey (or both)
Dash of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

Mix together the apple juice, brown sugar, and cinnamon until smooth. Combine all ingredients in a steam bag and microwave for 3-4 minutes. Let cool for 2 minutes. Shake bag slightly to distribute ingredients. Serve with ice cream, frozen yogurt, whipped cream, or enjoy by itself! Also makes a great pancake topper!

Chicken Italiano:
1 chicken breast, raw, chopped into bite sized pieces
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
½ cup chopped artichoke hearts
¼ cup chopped mushrooms
½ cup chopped zucchini or eggplant
6 oz. dry rotini pasta (whole wheat)
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 Tsp. onion powder
2 Tbs. diced sun-dried tomatoes

Combine all the ingredients in a steam bag and microwave for approx. five minutes or until pasta is soft (feel through the bag- do not open the bag). Serve with garlic bread and a salad. Serves two.

Monday, June 1, 2009

I love it when I find something that makes my life easier!
In an effort to get healthier, my husband and I walk a mile and a half every evening (mostly every evening). We usually eat dinner afterward. So our walks have really cut into my dinner prep time. When I've had a really crazy day and didn’t set anything out to thaw, our dinner ends up being pretty late.
So I set about trying to come up with easier solutions. I hate those pre-made frozen meals-n-a-bag that you pop in the microwave because they taste cardboardy and have tons of sodium. However, they gave me a good idea. I found a product (you may have heard of them) called Glad Simply Cooking Steam Bags. These are amazing. You can have a complete meal made in about 10-15 minutes, including prep time!
They are very versatile. You can put uncooked pasta, veggies, raw meat, potatoes, eggs, anything in these bags and it is perfectly cooked in minutes! Also, you can make the meals up ahead of time and store them in the freezer. Then you just pop them in the microwave. Add some bread or a side salad and you have a meal! Here is a good recipe:

Pork Lo-mien
2 small/ 1 med. boneless pork loin chops, sliced into bite-sized pieces
½ cup chopped broccoli florets
½ cup sliced carrots
½ cup snap peas
1/3 cup diced mushrooms
½ Tbs. minced garlic
2 Tbs. chopped scallions
4 oz. dry spaghetti (whole wheat)
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1/3 cup beef, chicken, or pork broth
2 Tbs. teriyaki sauce (try light or sugar free)
Place all the ingredients in a steam bag and microwave for approximately five minutes. Let the bag cool for two minutes. The veggies should have a vibrant color, pork should be firm, and pasta should be tender. You should be able to feel this through the bag (handle the bag carefully- it will be hot!). Serve with spring rolls or fried rice. Serves two.