Food, Home

Baking 

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The Roulpat makes rolling out pie crust SoEASY! We have rolled out 6+ crusts on this bad boy in the last 24 hours! The crust peels right up and it washes off with no scrubbing- so nice 🙂

Fall is a time for baking.  We had a pie social after church and my neighbor had a bumper crop of pumpkins.  Perfect timing!  My kids decided to do other flavors so they left the pumpkin to me! (oh darn!)

I loved baking as a kid but soon fell away from it as my family grew and I saw my hard work disappear before my eyes.  Cooking lasted longer and I felt I could improve our health more with simple meals.  Fast forward… now I am finding that with a few handy tools (Thank you BONCOOK) it’s a bit easier, faster and more rewarding.  Plus, I have kids who love baking so my kitchen is gonna be a mess anyway, I might as well join the party!

I learned how to prep the puree from reading other blogs and tutorials but I’ll give you a run down in case you are interested.

Half the pumpkin and clean out seeds and strings

Bake pumpkin in a casserole dish with about 1/2″ water for 1 hour at 350

Scoop out soft flesh (once it has cooled) and puree in blender- that’s it!

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My lovely handled bowl…so simple and so brilliant. I loosely based my pumpkin pie filling off of a recipe called “Chef John’s Pumpkin Pie” on Allrecipes

 

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My mom had lots of ‘unrecipes’ if you will. I just start mixing things up when I cook. We are kitchen rebels that way. I did measure this time so this is my throw it together recipe: 2 sticks real butter 4 cups white flour 1 cup (more or less) cold water This made enough crust (bottoms only) for 4 pies

 

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I thought a monogram pie would be nice. Here I have my handy “soft knife” that will cut through crust …but NOT my Roulpat
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Ready to go in the oven!

 

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Aaaand another one
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This was my daughter’s peach pie. She did a great job 🙂

Hope you are enjoying your fall and happy baking!

Love, Marriage, Random, Things I find funny

True Love Wears Granny Socks

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This photo was taken at the airport.  My hubby had just finished his 2 weeks of R&R and was headed back to Iraq.  My husband and I were saying good-bye for another loooong six months.

Let’s be honest here.  Marriage is hard.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  We believe these happily ever after fairly tales and that is such a huge set up.  After that honeymoon phase it gets real.  Welcome to reality.

My husband and I are polar opposites.  He is more of a math/tech guy I am a craft/artsy gal. I love simple things but I want pretty things too.  He could care less what anything looked like- he is color blind so that kinda makes lots of things look the same.  I love to read and write and decorate and craft and take classes and learn new things and call people on the phone and meet old friends…and…the list goes on…  He likes to go to work and help people and occasionally sight see. True, those three things actually take up more time than all my ANDS put together but we couldn’t be more different.

I realized as we sat there waiting for the plane that both of us had socks and sandals on. How dorky! I also realized that neither one of us cared.  Like, not at all. We barely noticed that there were other passengers waiting to board.  Nothing else really mattered.  We had complete disregard for anything else.  We were focused on the one thing we both were dreading. Saying Goodbye.

As I stared at our sandaled and socked feet I realized that I had come to a point where my love for my husband had completely leaped over and above anything else.  I cared not for any stares pointed in our direction.  I wore this skirt because my husband bought it for me.  (I actually didn’t even really like it and it was always too big on me and it garnered way too much attention from TSA)  All that mattered was spending those last few moments with the man I loved.

I had to laugh!  Ordinarily I would have chosen a much cuter outfit to say good bye in and planned the hair accordingly.  The problem was, none of that mattered enough that day.  What mattered was that we simply wanted to hold onto each other a bit longer. So what if we looked a bit geriatric in the wardrobe department.

I snapped this picture to remind myself that love truly is blind. I can wear granny socks with sandals (and my hubby too) without even noticing. I’ve got bigger things on my mind! True love is forgetting how things appear and allowing yourself to be consumed with another person’s need.  I love this man, granny socks and all!

I can’t say we have had any “perfect” days in our marriage.  Since the granny sock episode we have had many trials.  We endured not only the deployment but years of manic work hours after the homecoming. Oddly enough, the hardest part about deployments isn’t the separation. (although that is excruciatingly tough at times)  The hardest part is learning to live together again when you both have become completely different people.  It’s like  you marry a new person but you already have this huge history with them.  Weird, I know.

Sometimes I get angry at Iraq for what it stole from us.  We were at the top of our marriage game right before the official announcement came.  Then we were tossed into the whirlwind of it all and bought a new house to boot.  I had to choke down the panic every day.  Push down the nausea like riding a wave until I could safely smile into the three little faces looking up at me.  They needed me – and I needed them. We were bound together in this strange little boat that we had to sail.  People could watch us float along and wave but nobody really understood the journey because they weren’t in the boat.

I get angry at how much that year stole from us.  But I am truly learning to see the good.  Like how much stronger we are now because of that year.  My kids are incredible. They are so much more stable than I was at their ages.  If my husband had to go again they wouldn’t waste a moment whining.  I remember the first training my husband had to go to after deployment.  The kids were going crazy running around the house and gathering items.  They insisted that we had to go to the store and pick up snacks and mail a care package to daddy.  It was a 2 week training and I had to explain that 2 weeks is MUCH shorter than a year! They didn’t hesitate, they were ready for action!

I have found that I can endure.  I can fight. I can hope for a better tomorrow.  I can love this new man beside me and I can make peace with the person I have become.  I wish I could say that I walked away from the experience a perfect woman but sadly that did not happen.  Instead I gained life skills and I discovered people who were very supportive to our service members.  I also found out that many could not understand my position so they were not comfortable talking about it.  I had to be OK with that and know that they just weren’t going to be on my support list.  I found that there was an “anti-support group” as well and I learned to avoid anyone who had a negative influence. I found that I could help others even in the midst of my trial because I had a story to share and I had time to lend an ear.  I found that my God is faithful.  When I woke up, each day I would put my husband’s safety in His hands.  It was like the panic and anxiety that rolled through my chest evaporated as I spoke these simple words “Today, I’m going to trust you God”.

 

DIY, Life, Random

Handy Hints – Life Hacks

20170622_114537.jpgI love life hacks- those odd ball little tips that can cut your chores in half… the more the merrier! Here are a few that I have employed in our household:

Use a straw to hull strawberries. You can see this hack in action 🙂  It works!  We got a flat of them and my helpers had so much fun helping me they had those berries done in no time! Extra bonus- they get to eat the strawberry “worms” that get pushed out of the other end of the straw and I get free entertainment!

Dryer sheets- keep them in the bathroom to scrub the bath or the toothpaste splatters off the sink. Wet the sheet, scrub and rinse surface. *BONUS* Smells fab

Wet wipes- stash some at the kitchen table.  Grab those spills and outfit messes before they get a chance to do real damage :/

Old (water proof) sunscreen- this stuff may not have the SPF power that it used to but it is still handy to coat hands when you have piles of hand washing or any other chore that requires hands to be soaked for long periods. Also good for long winters when frequent hand washing dries skin. It has more staying power than most lotions and will last through a washing.

Email- if you need to remember an important date email it to yourself and invite your spouse.  This will give  you an extra little insurance.

Text- same deal as above.  My friend has a running text with her hubs for the grocery list. They both chime in and add on items as they think of them so when it’s time to shop they both have the list at their fingertips.  Beautiful idea.  Whoever is available can do the shopping or they can both go and split the list in half to divide and conquer. Brilliant!

Specific Containers- designate a container for specific places.  I have a school bag.  It travels from home to school but that’s it.  It is not allowed to be anywhere else.  It keeps me from searching for that *one item* that I need for class tomorrow.  Repeat process for the library, running errands, pool or any other task specific activity.

Photo shelf- I had my hubby make a plain board shelf with a small 3/4 edge on it.  He added some cute brackets and I stained the whole deal.  I can rotate every single framed print that I own (or any other small display item) without redecorating the whole house and making new holes in the walls.  This is super easy for seasonal changes too.  I can just remove the pix and replace with any of the other 5 million I have stored away.  My favorite thing is to add silk leaves for fall, fake pine branches and twinkle lights for winter and silk flowers for spring and summer. Extra bonus- no crooked photos!

Suitcases- I have a suitcase for fall decor.  The suitcase is a nice mellow gold color and it reminds me of fall.  I can pull that baby out and whip out fall decor in minutes.  I just stand my sweet little suitcase nearby and as it matches the season I can keep it in plain sight! Yay! I hope to have a spring/summer suitcase too.

Keep a bucket of hot water handy on those heavy cleaning days.  You could also just fill half of the sink with hot water.  This works well for days when I am speed cleaning and I can just toss whatever needs washing in there and let it soak. When I go to wash it everything cleans up easily.  You can also take the bucket with you from room to room and clean up whatever needs a good scrubbing.

I recently had to clear the frost from my car windshield but was out of washer fluid. I have done a vinegar/water solution in the past but my eye landed on the “sore muscle soak” solution I bought to help sore feet on our camping/hiking trip.  It was a dollar tree item so it was cheap and we had already gotten our use out of it.  Plus, it contained the ingredients I was looking for, alcohol and salt.  I thought, why not, so I diluted it with water and added it to the reservoir. It worked pretty well! Considering it cost 50 cents I was pretty happy.

Hope you have a beautiful Saturday!

Farm

Bock Bock

Photo on 2017-10-08 at 15.51 #2
Water color of a farm, artist unknown

It’s Farm Friday! Reporting on the chicken situation today.  Those dirty birds still are not laying.  I have cleaned and freshened their coop and have been giving them leftover kitchen scraps (hello 3 day old oatmeal!) for treats but NO EGGS.  This is getting serious.  I had to BUY eggs at Wal-mart.  And there is a difference…yes, there. is. a. difference.

So my son has been talking to our local chicken experts and has decided they need an outdoor chicken run.  Fine. Except I do not have energy to build a fence that I had already put up once and then taken down.  He volunteered himself for the job as he seems to be very concerned about our eggless condition.

Praying for eggs 😉

 

Life

TBT or The Years Flew By

I cringed a little when my daughter pulled out this picture. Apparently, daughter 2 had been packing it around and showing it to all her friends. I’m not sure how many have been afflicted thus far…

I remember my mom taking these photos.  As I look at them now I’m thinking why did she let me paste all that gunk on my face? Oh boy! :/

Anyhow, I loved sports and cheer leading was my favorite. It was physically demanding but super fun. And very girly. Plus, you very rarely got hurt. Squad members each had a specific job. Some were strong bases and some were light flyers. Others would spot behind so there would be a set of hands ready to catch you if you fell.

I usually drifted back and forth from spotting to base and occasionally would “fly”. I remember one home game I was standing on top of my friend’s shoulders for a cheer.  I heard somebody give the “down” command (we had a verbal command for everything) and so I began to bend down to reach for her hand so I could step off her shoulders.  It sounded like somebody from the crowd had called it and since I was pretty much a whole person taller than my friend the range of sound was different for both of us.  She didn’t hear it. So as I was bending down she was forcefully pulling me upright again.  It must have been a sight as we struggled against each other :0

When the cheer finally ended she was a tad bit upset… but I stayed upright the whole time and nobody got hurt.  If I could just locate the joker who called that out it might have ended differently!

DIY

I Craft Because…Life

Today’s crafts-because when you get out the spray paint you might as well go all out!

Yellow monogram for my fall wreath. This was a nice, easy one and done! Yay!

Aqua plaques!

Here the profile photos are being added. I inked the edges of the matching scrapbook paper in blue. I inked the Aqua plaques in green. I love the result! Simple, coordinated and super sentimntal-sweet!
 

Family, Life

Silver Linings

IMG_0333So yesterday I had prepared a post with some fun little crafts in it and today it seems to have disappeared. That has been happening a lot lately.  I think I’ve got maybe 3/4 of my life kinda going in the right direction and then….whoops! I’m not talking about forgetting appointments or misplacing important items. (although I do that pretty much on a daily basis too)  I mean the way we actually LIVE.  Like the condition of our spirit and how we respond to life’s ups and downs and…how we deal with changes we need to make within ourselves.  Ok, so I mean me. But while you are here reading this I am sure you can relate.

Normally I am a pretty content person.  I really don’t need much. We live on a small income and we do a lot for ourselves rather than hire it out.  We typically have too much month at the end of the money but we always have the things we need.  Miraculously, we have never NEVER been without.

My husband was out of work for the better part of the year when my third child was born. He traveled to any training that the National Guard had going on.  They pay for training and they used to pay food and lodging as well.  He spent time working all over the states and even got to travel to Korea.  That one was actually pretty cool.  Even though I really hate being a single parent for weeks and months at a time we were taken care of.

We had a mystery gasser…no, not the kind you are thinking of.  We had been in the middle of the coldest part of winter.  Our propane was running low and we had no money to fill it.  It was nearing Christmas and I was huge with my February baby. Out of nowhere the propane delivery guy has pulled up and is filling our tank. My husband tried to direct him to the neighbor’s thinking they had the wrong house number.  But, to our surprise it was 100% paid for by a mysterious benefactor.  Thank you, whoever you are.

To say that we are well off is untrue but to say that we have not been well taken care of is also untrue.  We have had a series of bad events it seems but in the midst I am trying to remind myself of the good and the blessings we have already received.

The hubs and I are going to NC next week.  It will be nice to hang out in warmer temps and have time without the kids.  The reason we are going isn’t all that fun though.  My father in law is dying.  He is a very sick man.  This may be our last visit with him.  We had tried to help out with his care as much as we could but the distance across the country was just too great.  My heart breaks but I know my husband needs me now.

Sometimes nothing really can help or fix a situation.  I find myself weeping at odd moments and wondering what people must think of me.  Truth is, I don’t care anymore.  I will do what I need to do to stay strong.  Sometimes our strength only comes when we are broken.

I leave you with this song.  Why Not Trust God Again by Kurt Carr.  It has never failed to speak to the situation at hand and fill me with hope to keep moving forward trusting in the knowledge that God is already handling my tomorrows.

p.s. I’m still figuring our links so don’t shoot me if it doesn’t work, thanks 😉

DIY

Laundry Soap DIY

You will need:

Bar soap of your choice- 2bars

Cheese grater or food processor

Wooden spoon

Large stock pot

Borax

Washing soda

2 5gal buckets with lids


Shred that soap!


Add shredded soap to hot water in large stock pot. Heat and dissolve soap shreds. No need to boil, the point is to get all the bits evenly distributed and fully dissolved.

When it is fully dissolved you will divide soapy mixture evenly between your 5 gallon buckets.  You can add essential oils at this time if you wish.

I meant to post this tomorrow as the soap has not already set up and I wanted to do a “final product” photo.  Somehow I managed to post it early…oops!

Anyhow, the soap will gel up and feel a lot like Jello jigglers.  You will mush it up to remove clumps and then add hot water to fill the bucket.  Then stir, stir, stir!

This recipe works for HE washers and top loaders.  I have  used it for both. I calculated the total cost once and it was something like $10 for 10 gallons… pretty cheap!  It is great if you are sensitive to fragrances.  The soap you use can have a bit of fragrance and it will not leave a scent on your clothes.

Hope you give it a try!

 

Life

Study Time

I bought this bible not long ago. It is a “beautiful word” Bible. Honestly, I got it because the artwork is fabulous and it is cloth covered in a lovely floral fabric. I also held a secret hope that it would make me a better “studier”.

I have often been drawn to the combination of scripture and art. The words somehow become more tangible to me. One thing that helps me (that I haven’t done in a while…) is to print a few verses out in fancy font and either frame them or mount them on pretty scrapbook paper. I’ll put them up around the house so that I have reminders at every turn. I am not a still person and I need to be actively engaged so bumping into the Bible as I go through the house works for me.  If there is a particular area I am working on I’ll occasionally write it on the mirror so that it is visible everytime I fix my hair or brush my teeth. I really wish I could study like a normal person but if I’m not in a “class” of some sort it’s difficult. Y’all can pray for me!

I also like to memorize along with my students. They get 1 scripture a week and so I can count on committing roughly 30 ish scriptures to memory every year. This is helpful because I can’t lose them and I will never have to look them up! Its a win-win.

Another thing that is sometimes helpful is amazon music. They have bunches of music and even some scripture set to song. It isn’t my favorite way to “ingest” the Bible but it’s sometimes fun for my kids and students.

Well, I have to get back to my reading now, have a great Monday 🙂

Health

Staying Healthy

Any guesses as to what is in the bowl? It’s edible. It “grows”. It eats sugar and it can help your tummy. These, my friends,  are water kefir grains. Similar to the kombucha and the milk kefir that is for sale everywhere these days except these are for use with water.

Quite simply, these grains allow you to make a liquid probiotic. You “steep” the grains in sugar water and then strain them out after 12 hours. The remaining liquid is your end product.

I chose water grains as we have issues with milk. You could make a milk kefir but as milk isn’t our friend I do water. I must admit, I really have no idea how this all transpires. I do know that it works much like the yeast in a bread recipe will.

So why do I bother with the daily sugar water routine? Umm…have you priced a decent probiotic lately? This I a wonderfully low cost way to help heal your tummy. We have had our fair share of issues. I cannot speak for all members of my family but I see a vast improvement! (I’ll spare you the details)

We are super sensitive to any kind of fast food. Even quality foods that are new to us can set stomachs turning. Most of the time we eat at home for both health and cost. I can always tell if I’ve been straying too far from my regular diet. Anyway, if we have been “off our feed” this stuff really helps us get back to normal.

I remember running errands one day and we sped through the drive through so I wouldn’t have to go home and feed the kids in the middle of my “doing”. When I finally made it home, hours after I had expected, my stomach was in knots. I had rushed all day and the fast food did not sit well. I remember thinking,  I need a glass of kefir water as soon as I get home! I felt better almost instantly after one glass. So, pretty unscientific experiment-I make no medical claims- but it worked for me.

Stay healthy!