Thursday, July 29, 2010

Early Morning

I'm not naturally a morning person. If I didn't have any sort of schedule to keep I would stay up late and sleep late. Sometimes though, especially in the summer when I don't have anything on the agenda, I love to go to bed a little earlier than usual and get up early the next morning.

I don't set an alarm to jangle my nerves, I just decide that I'm going to wake up early and I do. It's especially nice if I can wake as the sun is beginning to rise. I quietly make myself a cup of coffee, wrap up in my robe, and take my Bible and reading glasses out onto the back porch. I read and pray as the sun peeks over the horizon and the world slowly wakes up in the cool misty stillness before the heat sets in. It's the best way I know to feel close to God and His creation and releases the stresses of my week.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
-Psalm 30:5

Hope your mornings are refreshing to your spirit!
Much love,

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Good Books

I LOVE to read! I mean, I really love it. I always have a stack of books next to my bed (I can never read just one book at a time) and a wish list of books I want to read. I'm insatiably curious about what everyone else is reading. When I see someone in a public place reading, I always try to catch of glimpse of what it is. I love to peruse other people's bookshelves too. Nosy much? ;)

In case you are as nosy as I am (and so that I can try out these fun Amazon widgets) here is a list of books that I own and are currently in a pile on my night stand and also some that are on my wish list.

Currently reading or re-reading:

Told you I can't just read one book at a time!

On my wish list:

What are you reading?  What books are on your wish list?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Boiling Water

Did you know that there are many uses for boiling water other than making tea? I love when something so ordinary is so useful (and cheap)!

It's a great way to get rid of the pesky weeds and grass that grow in cracks in the sidewalk or driveway. Pour boiling water on them and by the next day they are dead. Of course, you have to be very careful around kids and pets when you are carrying a kettle full of boiling water, but you won't have any poisonous chemicals left on the sidewalk. It's completely organic.

I found out today that you can get rid of ants with boiling water too. Apparently if you pour several gallons of it over an ant bed (keeping in mind that the boiling water will kill any nearby grass) it will kill the ants. We've had an invasion of fire ants in our backyard and we are hoping this will work. We've already used ant poison, but it hasn't completely eradicated the awful things. If you don't have fire ants where you live, be very glad.

I also used boiling water today in a stinky sink drain. What is it about warm weather that makes the drains stink? I poured some baking soda down the drain and followed with lemon juice. After it foamed up for a few minutes I poured about a gallon of boiling water down the sink. Not only does the drain smell sweeter, but it keeps the pipes from getting clogged up as well.

Boiling water is also a good way to sanitize your cutting boards that won't fit in the dishwasher.  If you rub them with lemon juice first it will help deodorize them too.

What are your favorite everyday household multitaskers?

Thursday, July 22, 2010


The unconsidered.

The common.

The simple.

The overlooked.

Small things.

Moments of happiness.

Savor the details today.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

10 Ideas for Frugal Summer Fun

I always seem to run out of fun ideas for keeping everyone busy about mid-summer. Or maybe I just forget. I hate to get into a rut and let summer slip away, but it's easy to do. So, I gathered a few ideas that might help us enjoy summer while we still have some of it left.

1. Stargaze: Get a book from the library about stars or visit a kids astronomy website for some information about constellations. Lay on a quilt with snacks and drinks and enjoy the show.  It's even more fun if you have a telescope.  We have one similar to this that we bought years ago when the big kids were small.  Sky-Watcher Great Start 70 AR-AZ2 70mm Refractor Telescope

2. Concerts in the park:  Check in your city to see if they offer any community sponsored events.   Our town has free concerts in the park and Shakespeare in the park.  It's fun to take a picnic and lawn chairs and make an evening out of it.

3. 2nd run movies: You may be able to find a theater nearby that offers 2nd run movies at a cheap price. We have one that shows movies for $2.

4. Movable Feast: Serve your meal somewhere different than usual. Have a picnic on the trampoline, inside the fort the kids built, or on the front lawn. Change things up a little.

5. Garage Sales: Load everyone up early on a Friday or Saturday morning. Let them take donuts and juice in the car (along with a damp washcloth in a plastic bag for sticky fingers), and hit the yard/garage sales in your neighborhood. Give each of the kids a dollar or two to spend. My friend Retro and I used to do this nearly every weekend. It was especially fun when we could find a block sale. You can map out your route the night before, but also keep an eye out for any signs you see. We've found some of the best sales that weren't advertised in the paper or online that way.

6. Bake:  Let the kids help you bake cookies.  Who says you have to wait until Christmas?  If you're like me, you probably have more time for it now.

7. Drive-in Movie:  Take the TV out on the porch or the driveway and let the kids pull their bikes up.  Even better if you own or can borrow a projector and show the movie on your garage door or a sheet.

8. Homemade slip and slide:  I learned about this from Retro.  She set out a big plastic tarp on the grass and used half a bottle of cheap baby shampoo and the sprinkler to make it slippery.  Her kids had a great time with it.  The even set up a ramp with a little easy set pool at the end. Of course, you'll also need to make sure there aren't any rocks or sticks under the tarp.

9. Roller Skating:  Our town still has a roller rink and it's cheap to skate.  They'll even let the kids bring in their scooters and roller blades if they want.  Plus you'll be able to tell them how cool you were skating in 1981 with pom-poms on your skates to Kool and the Gang while rocking a side ponytail. Oh, maybe that's just me.

10.  Play HGTV: This is especially fun if you have girls, but boys like it too.  My girls love to rearrange their furniture.  Help them draw their room on a piece of paper and figure out where everything will go.  We sometimes end up with strange configurations, but that's OK.  It won't hurt anything to have a nightstand in a corner next to a dresser.  That's how they learn, plus it's a good way to get a little de-cluttering and cleaning done in the process.

Hope the rest of your summer is fantastic!
Much love,

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Kool-Aid Play-Dough

Even though my kids are big, it's still fun to do "little kid" things with them, especially in the summertime. They still like when I read aloud to them or break out the finger paints. I like it too!  Today I made homemade play-dough and my girls are having a ball rolling it, molding it and dirtying up all my cookie cutters. :)

This is my favorite homemade play-dough recipe because it's so easy and the Kool-Aid makes it smell good. I happened to have Pink Lemonade on hand so ours smells lemony and is pink (obviously).

2 packages un-sweetened Kool-Aid
2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons alum
2 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Mix the Kool-Aid, flour, salt and alum together. Add the boiling water and oil and stir. When cool enough to handle, knead. Add more flour if needed to reduce stickiness.

It will last for weeks and weeks if you store it in an air tight container.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fiesta Lasagna

I made Fiesta Lasagna for my family this weekend.  I got the recipe years ago from a friend and for some reason never made it until now.  It's a fun  and easy Tex-Mex take on lasagna. It's not spicy at all and my kids loved it. One of them picked out the avocado slices, but still liked it other than that.  Maybe your family will like it too!
1 can Ro-tel
1 can (2 1/4 oz.) sliced black olives
8 flour tortillas (8 inch) torn into pieces
3 cups cooked chicken
2 large avocados, sliced (you can dice them if you like that better)
2 cups sour cream
sprinkle chili powder
3/4 pound monterey jack cheese, shredded

Layer 1/2 of each ingredient in a greased 13"x9" pan as listed. Repeat layers. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. This serves 6 to 8 and you can substitute cooked ground beef for the chicken.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Low-Cal Chocolate Cake

This is a Hungry Girl recipe (be sure and sign up for her emails if you don't already get them). She always has great recipes in her newsletter and in her cookbooks like Hungry Girl 1-2-3: The Easiest, Most Delicious, Guilt-Free Recipes on the Planet that are diet friendly. This recipe makes 12 servings at 4 WW points each, plus it's super easy.

All you need is 1 box of moist devil's food cake mix, 1 cup of fat free plain Greek yogurt and 1 cup water.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine ingredients in a large bowl and add 1 cup water. Whisk thoroughly and transfer to a baking pan sprayed with nonstick spray; bake in the oven until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. (Refer to cake-mix box for pan size and approximate bake time.)

I made a 9x13 cake and it turned out really good. I sifted a little powdered on the pieces I cut for the kids and they loved it.  It was a great afternoon snack with some lemonade.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Squash Casserole

My blog has turned into a food blog lately hasn't it? I hope you enjoy all the recipes. Feeding our families is such important part of being a homemaker, whether you are retro or modern. You feed them a meal and then just a few hours later they want to eat again. It never ends...just like laundry. I like having lots of ideas for things to make so that I don't get bored cooking and they don't get bored eating (although I can't really imagine that happening).

This is a classic recipe that my family loves. I got it from a neighbor years and years ago. It's good any time of year, but I tend to make it more often in the summer when squash is plentiful (and often free from friends and neighbors).  Today I served it with chicken fried steak, sliced cantaloupe and fresh corn casserole.  I love planning a menu around fresh summertime produce!

Cook until tender-crisp and drain:
1 1/2 pounds yellow squash or zucchini, sliced
water to cover

Stir in:
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. fat-free sour cream at room temperature
1 can water chestnuts, sliced
2 tsp. flour

Combine and arrange in 9x13 buttered pan:
3/4 (8 oz.) bag herb dressing crumbs - reserve 1/4
1/3 cup margarine, melted

Pour squash mixture on herb dressing, top with reserved crumbs.  Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fried Squash

Some friends of ours have more squash growing in their garden then they know what to do with, so they insisted on sending some home with us. We didn't mind helping them out of course. We're so unselfish that way. ;) We also have lots of fresh corn because it was 10 cents an ear at Wal-Mart. Can you believe that? So for the next few days we are going to eating squash and corn in every way imaginable. Hopefully I can switch them up enough that no one will mind. We had fried squash and basic corn-on-the-cob this weekend and tonight we'll have fresh corn casserole and a baked squash casserole (along with some sort of meat so that my husband doesn't think I don't love him anymore). I'll share the squash recipe with you later this week.
Because Melissa asked so nicely in the comments for the fried squash recipe, here it is:

Squash, sliced in thick slices. I slice up as much as I think we'll eat. You can use almost any kind of squash.
1 or 2 eggs (depending on how much squash you have)
Milk or buttermilk (maybe 1/4 to 1/3 cup again depending on how much squash you have)
Equal amounts of flour and cornmeal (I used 1/2 cup of each)
salt, pepper, garlic powder or use Paula Deen's House Seasoning Mix
Vegetable Oil for frying

Slice the squash and preheat the oil on medium. Whisk together milk and egg in a bowl. Stir together flour, cornmeal and seasonings in another bowl or platter. Dip squash slices in egg mixture, then coat with flour mixture. Place squash in a single layer in the skillet and fry a few minutes on each side. It should be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

And there you have it! Hope you all have a fantastic beginning to your week.

Much love,

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Blueberry Oat Muffins

These muffins are lower in fat and calories than most blueberry muffins, but still delicious.

1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 egg whites
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

For Topping:
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

In a bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients. In another bowl, beat egg whites, water and oil. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in blueberries. Fill greased muffin cups three-fourths full. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over muffins. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 to 22 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan. Yield: 1 dozen

Monday, July 5, 2010

Rainy Days

The rain was pouring during our party, but we still had a great time! I set up a couple of folding tables around the house and we managed to find room for everyone. Our guests piled their umbrellas and rain boots by the front door and didn't mind a bit that we weren't outside enjoying a hot summer evening. I'm thankful for good friends and good food!

And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.
Gilbert K. Chesterton

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Party Decorations

I did the food shopping this afternoon and now I'm making tissue paper pom-poms for Saturday's party. I'm making them in red, white and blue. They are easy and SO cute! I'll make the Texas Caviar and the cake tomorrow.

Tissue paper pom-pom how to