Thursday, May 15, 2008

Frugal Photographers

Clever Photographer by Eveline Lance
Clever Photographer

As a frugal mom, I almost never buy school pictures. They usually aren't that great and they are outrageously expensive. Why would I pay $20 for 8 wallet photos? When you have more than one child in school (and even if you don't), that's WAY too much. The elementary school takes pictures both fall and spring and I'm sure Cindy's softball team will want us to buy team pictures.

I was thinking of just taking my kids to a cheap photography studio, but retrohousewife had a great idea. She suggested talking to someone who is just getting into photography and is interested in building a portfolio. Now why didn't I think of that?

Her niece is just such a person. She will take pictures of my kids in several poses, in a location of my choosing and put them on a CD for me so that I can print the ones I want. I'm going to see if we can get some pictures at a nearby park that has a waterfall. I can't wait!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Why I Love Summer!

Summer Front Porch by Janet Kruskamp
Summer Front Porch

The weather has been just gorgeous today and it really makes me look forward to summer. Why do I love summer?

1) I love that the days are getting longer. It's so much easier to get up early when you aren't getting up in the dark and the kids love to stay outside and play until bedtime. Sometimes we even eat supper outside.

2) Drying the clothes on the line. I like to dry my clothes on the line when the weather is nice, but it's been a necessity the last few weeks. My dryer quit working. I was thrilled though when we got our latest electric bill. It was about $30 less than last month!

3) Flip-flops: Yes, I admit it, I love flip-flops. I wear them all summer long. Some are fancy with sparkles and a slight heel, some are the plain rubber kind, some have beads. I love them all.

4) No school. I so enjoy having the kids home and being able to spend lazy days with them.

5) Working in the yard. Our grass is green and the yard looks so pretty. I love looking outside every morning to see what's blooming and growing.

6) Summer produce. I could live on fruits and vegetables in the summer. Being a Southern girl, one of my most favorite summertime meals is black-eyed peas and cornbread, with some fresh sliced tomatoes and onions. Of course it has to include a watermelon and homemade ice cream too! Oh and maybe some fried okra...I'm making myself hungry! :)

7) Lying on a blanket in the park on the 4th of July and watching the fireworks.

8) Taking a cool shower in the evening after swimming and playing outside all day.

9) Sitting on the porch with a big ol' glass of sun tea, visiting with friends and neighbors while the ice cream maker churns away.

10) Swinging in the shade of the willow tree in the front yard while reading a book.

Well, I could go on and on, but I'll stop with 10. What do you like best about summertime?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Little Miss Perfect

Housework Rules
Housework Rules

Retrohousewife (my best friend) and I were talking about the blog the other day and she thinks I come across as a little "too good to be true" here (she's always keeping me in line). I think it's because I'm trying to be encouraging and I'm usually a glass half full type of person. But I'm not perfect, my husband isn't perfect, my kids aren't perfect and my house isn't perfect. I'm just your average, everyday mom.

Yes, my house is usually clean, but remember that I don't have little ones around any more. My youngest is 9 and the oldest two have left home. I've also come a LONG way in my housekeeping and organizing skills since they were small. If a friend wanted to visit back then, I needed at least 24 hours notice so I could get everything straightened.

My husband leaves his socks in the floor and the kids slam doors and track mud in the house just like everyone else's kids. They are normal. Yes, there are days when I'm frustrated and want to do nothing but soak in a tub and eat chocolate all afternoon. I'm not one of those moms who gets up at 4:30am, has an hour long Bible study, knits a sweater, makes a gourmet breakfast and scrubs the floors all before 9:00am. I'm lucky if my brain is fully functioning before 9:00am so my sweet husband has taken to bringing me coffee in bed in the mornings to help me wake up. :) I usually have to do my Bible study later in the morning or at night or I'll read the same sentence over and over and have no idea what I just read.

I don't want you to think that I'm one of those annoying people who never have a bad day and always have everything under control. When I'm showing you the great bread I made, I probably didn't get the bathrooms cleaned that day, or if I got lots of organizing or gardening done, we probably ate Hamburger Helper for dinner. I pray that you can be encouraged here without feeling like you have to "measure up".

Monday, May 5, 2008

Coming up Roses

My Queen Elizabeth rose is blooming and looks SO pretty in my front flower bed. It was covered up with aphids, so I made some insecticidal soap by combining about a half Tablespoon of Dawn with a pint of water in a spray bottle. I didn't spray it on the buds that were already open. It burned a few of the leaves a little (I think you can see it in the picture), but it got rid of the aphids! If I need to spray again, I'll do it early in the morning or late in the evening when the rose isn't in the sun. I read that it is less likely to burn that way.

I'm tempted to cut some and bring them in the house, but they look so pretty in the front yard I don't know if I will.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


I normally don't post recipes two days in a row, but I just couldn't help myself. :) This recipe is for challah, a traditional Jewish bread. It calls for margarine or vegetable shortening to keep it kosher, but you could use butter. It is customary in Jewish homes to begin the three meals eaten during Shabbat with blessings over two loaves of challah. It is a very pretty bread and so much fun to make. This recipe makes one loaf.

1. Stir together 2 cups of flour and 1 Tablespoon yeast in a mixing bowl (or in my case, the bowl of my Kitchenaid) and set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat and stir together 1 1/4 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 3 Tablespoons of margarine, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt just until warm (120 to 130 degrees) and margarine almost melts.

2. Add water mixture and two beaten eggs to dry mixture.

Beat on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, then on high for 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Stir in an additional 2 3/4 to 3 1/4 cups of flour and knead using dough hook. You can, of course, also turn the bread out onto a floured surface and knead by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size (about an hour).

4. Punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into thirds. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

5. Shape each third into an 18 inch long rope. Braid ropes and place on lightly greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled (about 30 minutes). Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush top of braided loaf with a beaten egg white.

6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tap it. If necessary cover loosely with foil for the last 10 minutes of baking to prevent over browning. Immediately remove bread from baking sheet. Cool on a wire rack.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Bundt Cake

This cake is a special favorite of Peter's. He's even requested it as a birthday cake. He likes it plain, but it's an easy cake to change. You can make a glaze for it, make a streusel topping, put whipped cream on it... the possibilities are endless. It's so easy to make.

First set out 5 eggs and 1 cup of margarine to come to room temperature. Then grease a bundt pan really well (even the non-stick types).

When the margarine is softened and the eggs are at room temp, dump them in your mixing bowl along with:
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon combined flavorings (vanilla, almond, or lemon)
Beat until smooth (about 5 minutes).

Pour into your prepared pan and bake for one hour at 325 degrees.

I had to charge batteries for the camera and forgot to take a picture of the cake last night. This was all that was left today. :)