Saturday, December 29, 2012

Seinfeld Themed Birthday Party

I apologize for my unannounced holiday break.  I think that every year I underestimate just how busy this time of year is!  It seems like it's been pretty quiet in the blog world, so apparently I'm not alone.

But, I had a goal of telling you about my husband's birthday party (that did eventually happen, despite the setbacks!)  before the end of the year.  I have to apologize though, since I had to throw it together in a hurry, I didn't get as many pictures as I'd like.  If you aren't a Seinfeld fan, this will probably mean nothing to you, but if you have whole episodes memorized like the hubby, I think you'll like it!

First things first, the invitations:


Next, dinner.  I cooked for almost two days to get all this food done, but it was delicious!  Each thing had a card next to it with a quote about the food from the show.  Here's some (pretty terrible) photos of the meal:


















Here's what we ate:

Crab Bisque: I had two quotes for this one, I just couldn't choose...
#1 is from 'The Yada Yada':
Elaine: I met this lawyer, we went out to dinner, I had the bisque, we went back to my place, yada yada yada, I never heard from him again.
Jerry: But you yada yada'd over the best part!
Elaine: I mentioned the bisque.
 #2 is from 'The Soup Nazi':
Elaine: So, essentially, you chose soup over a woman?
Jerry: It was a bisque!
Elaine: Your top priority is soup!?
Jerry: Have you tasted the soup?
Elaine: Yeah, all right, you made the right decision.
I used this recipe for the Crab Bisque, substituting apple juice for the wine.  It was incredibly delicious and I will most definitely be making this again!

Mulligatawny:
From 'The Soup Nazi':
Kramer: Well, a bowl of mulligatawny would hit the spot.
Elaine: Mulligatawny?
Kramer: Yeah.  It's an Indian soup.  It's simmered to perfection by one of the great soup artisans of the modern era.
Elaine: Oh.  Who? The soup nazi?
Kramer: He's not a nazi! He just happens to be a little eccentric.  Most geniuses are.
I used this recipe for the Mulligatawny.  Honestly this is my new favorite soup.  It was absolutely incredible!  I will most definitely be making this one again soon.

Marble Rye:
"Uh, excuse me... I know this is gonna sound crazy but I have to have that rye!  It's a long story, but a person's whole future may depend on it!"
-Jerry, 'The Rye'
I bought my marble rye from the grocery store.  We love rye bread!  I could've made the rye into croutons for the salad, but ran out of time.

Big Salad:
"What I would like to know is, how does a person who has nothing to do with the big salad claim responsibility for said salad and accept the thank you under false pretenses? Huh? Huh? You know, when you buy a big salad for somebody it would be nice if they knew it!"
-George Costanza, 'The Big Salad'
My Big Salad was pretty basic, just lettuce and veggies, but it was big and got eaten as I had some vegetarians and gluten free attendees who couldn't eat the soups.  We thought about having poppy seed dressing, but opted for a non-Seinfeld-esqe Ranch and Bleu Cheese.

Broccoli:
"Vile Weed!!"
-Newman, 'The Chicken Roaster'

Pretzles:
"These pretzles are making me thirsty!"
-Kramer, 'The Alternate Side'

Chips and Dip: Two quotes here as well.
#1: "You double-dipped the chip! You dipped the chip, you took a bite, and you dipped again!  That's like putting your whole mouth right in the dip!  From now on, when you dip a chip, just take one dip and end it!" -Timmy, 'The Implant'
#2: "Hey, how come people don't have dip for dinner?  Why is it only a snack?  Why can't it be a meal, you know? I don't understand stuff like that." -David Puddy, 'The Face Painter'

Cinnamon Babka:
"Cinnamon takes a back seat to no babka!  People love cinnamon.  It should be on tables at restaurants along with salt and pepper.  Anytime anyone says, 'Oh this is so good, what's in it?' The answer invariable comes back, Cinnamon! Cinnamon! Lesser babka... I think not!" -Jerry, 'The Dinner Party'
I used this recipe for the cinnamon babka.  It was pretty good, but a lot of work to make.  Just because it was a lot of work, I probably won't make this again.  I'd just make cinnamon rolls if I wanted something similar.

Black & White Cookies:
"Oh look Elaine, the black and white cookies!  I love the black and white - two races of flavor living side by side.  It's a wonderful thing, isn't it?  The thing about eating the black and white cookie, Elaine, is you want to get some black and some white in each bite.  Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate, and yet somehow racial harmony eludes us.  If only people would look to the cookie all our problems would be solved.  Look to the cookie, Elaine, look to the cookie!" -Jerry, 'The Dinner Party'
I used this recipe for the black and white cookies.  It was delicious and pretty easy.  I would love to make more of these!

Muffin Tops:
Woman: I can't believe somebody pulled the top off of this muffin!
Elaine: That was me.  I'm sorry, I don't like the stumps.
Mr. Lippman: So you just eat the tops?
Elaine: Oh yeah.  It's the best part!  It's crunchy, it's explosive, its where the muffin breaks free of the pan and sort of does it's own thing.  I'll tell you, thats a million dollar idea right there!  Just sell the tops!

Ovaltine:
"Why do they cal it Ovaltine?  The mug is round, the jar is round, they should call it round-tine!  Thats gold Jerry!  Gold!" -Kenny Bania, 'The Fatigues'

Next on the agenda was the Airing of Grievances (telling funny or embarassing stories about the hubby) and the Feats of Strength (challenging him to some arm or leg wrestling).  Since I figured he's been through enough that weekend, we skipped it.  But we did have Pez dispensers for the winners.  We then played Seinfeld Scene-it.

Finally, we had favor sacks for the guests.  I won't bore you with more quotes (although I had them printed on a card in each sack), but we had Tic-Tacs, Twix, Jujy Fruit, and Junior Mints.  We also had a card for a donation to the Human Fund. :) 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Finding Joy in the Journey (when it all goes wrong!)

I apologize for the shot blogging break... once you hear my story you may understand. I had some great posts ready for you this weekend, and then... well... it all went wrong.

Image Source
Saturday was supposed to be hubby's birthday party.  I spent Friday and Saturday preparing food (my hands still smell like onions! ugh!) But then, the real excitement began. He had thought that he passed a kidney stone earlier in the week (this happens once every few months at our house) but it came back with a vengance on Saturday.  Not wanting to spoil his party and all the hard work I had put into it, he tried to ignore it.  He went out and got me breakfast.  He shoveled the driveway, he shoveled a walking path through the yard to the church, he shoveled the neighbors driveway, he came in and said he was going to take a break and then help me with the preparations.... and then told me that the pain was back. He couldn't take it anymore, and it was time to go to the hospital and get 'real drugs' to help him manage the pain.  So the party was cancelled, the afternoon was spent at the hospital, and the evening was spent watching movies together while he was in and out of drowsy sleep. (which was also a lovely break from the holiday/birthday stress I'd had all week!)

So why did hubby wait so long to go to the hospital? He didn't want to make me upset.  Just by doing this, instead of make me upset, he made me so happy.  He showed me how much he loves me, which was better than being able to host my party!

So the lesson learned was in finding joy in the journey.  Don't place all your happiness in the end destination, because you may never get there.  Find joy along the way, and realize that although sometimes you end up somehwere you didn't expect, that place can be just as wonderful.  I heard a story from a friend once who has a disabled child.  It was a poem about how everyone wants to go to Italy, and she dreamed about going to Italy her whole life, but then when she tried to get there, she ended up in Holland.  She kept hearing from all her friends who had gone to Italy, but instead of being upset that she didn't get there, she found that Holland, although different than Italy, was just as wonderful.  I think that this story applies to many things in life, not just having a child with a disability.  You can choose to be happy with what you have been given, and you can choose to realize that although what you have been given might be different than what you initially wanted, it is in many ways just as wonderful.

(But don't worry, we still plan on hosting the party, and I will share it all with you.)


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Monday, December 10, 2012

Simplicity 2149 Pattern Review

Okay so I should have posted this like a month ago... I always underestimate how crazy things get in December.  This was a sample that I made for JoAnn's, Simplicity 2149.  Ite gave me more trouble than it should have (my fault, it was all bad fabric choices, not bad patterns).  Here's the story:

Simplicity 2149
I really liked the pictures on the pattern envelope... until I found out that I was supposed to sew the one view I didn't like (view E). I was also supposed to use plaid (which doesn't bother me, I like plaid.)  But I hated view E. View E is a crop jacket with 3/4 sleeves and fringe trim.  I wanted the pretty long jacket.  And so, I compromised as much as possible.  I knew I would still have to do the fringe, but I lengthened the sleeve by adding a cuff, and I lengthened the jacket to be waist length (views C and D).  I used a thick woven material I found in the red tag clearance at JoAnn's.  I don't even know what it was, but it was pretty much a blanket, and the end was frayed so I didn't have to buy fringy trim.  The material/blanket is very warm and cozy... but I'm pretty sure I should've had an industrial machine to sew that stuff!  If there were more than two layers, it hardly fit under the presser foot.  I had to yank that sucker through, meaning that if you look close enough, you'll notice the sewing quality is extremely sub-par. The pattern itself wasn't bad.  Quite a few pieces but easy to assemble.  No lining, easy to mix and match elements of different views.  I would recommend this pattern and would love to sew it again (view B this time!)  As far as my actual garment is concerned, eh.  I'm going to have to do some alterations when I get it back.  I think I'll remove the trim, add a triangle collar, and add buttons the full length of the front.  It fits well (and looks so much better on a body than on a hanger) but that fringy stuff... It really looks like I'm wearing a blanket from the 1970's.

Inspiration Sunday: When Something Seems Impossible

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Have you ever had an experience that just seemed impossible?  Like a "How did that just happen? That is just not logically possible!" experience?

In my (short, yes) life, I have observed that whenever something seemingly impossible happens, it is most definitely the hand of God.

In my lesson today I was discussing my journey through education with the girls.  I explained that 10 years ago, when I was their age, I never planned on being a wife and a mom - I planned on being a scientist.  I was going to cure diseases, I was going to be famous, I was going to change the world!  I wrote this in a time capsule that we made for a youth activity.  It was to be opened this summer, 10 years later.  "Dear self: You had better be pretty close to being a world renowned neurologist by this time.  Don't you dare let me down, I've worked hard for this! Love, me."

I was well on my way, taking some very advanced courses and set to get my bachelors degree early with a double major.  I was interning for some big labs.  I had connections in high science-y places.  I was involving God in my education, asking for guidance as to which classes I should take, which direction I should go, and the answer was always 'keep going, you can do this!'

Then, the impossible happened.  I went from a 3.8 GPA to failing in 1 semester.  I tried to register to retake the classes and got a letter from the school informing me that they had lost my registration.  They had no record of me being a student.  It was gone.  Gone.

How can years of hard work just disappear like that?  How does a computer system loose ONE person in tens of thousands?  I had disappeared. How?

I turned to God, totally devastated, lost, and confused.  I got an answer, and my answer was: "That was your answer."

So this summer, as I opened that time capsule and read about how I had better be changing the world as a world famous neurologist, I wished it were possible to write a letter to my fourteen year old self.  If I could, it would say: "Dear self:  You are going to change the world.  You are going to have the most important job there is - you are going to be a mommy.  Trust me, I didn't let you down.  You'll see.  Love, me."

Your Heavenly Father has plans for you bigger than you can ever imagine.  If you face an 'impossible' fork in the road, remember: With God all things are possible!  You just may be witnessing His guiding hand.


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Modest Monday

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cooking a whole pumpkin

Whew... it's been quite a week, as you can tell by my severe lack of posting anything to keep you occupied!

Well, I looked at the calendar and realized it was December, so it was time to get rid of my pumpkin.  I saw on one of the blogs I follow that you can cook any pumpkin whole and thought I'd give it a go! Prior to seeing this, I thought that you could only eat the special 'pie pumpkins' and that you had to clean them and slice them before cooking.  Way too big of a pain for me.  But I just used your typical carving/decorating pumpkin, and yes, I cooked it whole.  Easy Peasy!

First, you've gotta stab some good holes in your pumpkin, just like you are baking a giant potato.  Then you put him in a glass dish and bake him at 350 until he's soft.  Mine took two hours.

Going in the oven (be sure to lower your rack and make space before turning it on!)

After baking
 Then I skinned him, cleaned him, and separated him into three bowls:
Preparing the cooked pumpkin

Three bowls - flesh (to be pureed) seeds (to be roasted) and scraps (to be fertilizer)
 I roasted the seeds.  I mix them with olive oil, worchestershire sauce, and salt, then roast them on a cookie sheet at 250 for about two hours, stirring every 20 mins or so.

Then I pureed the flesh.  This will be used in place of canned pumpkin in recipies.  It stays good frozen in glass jars for up to two years!  Freezing is so much easier than canning.  A can of pumpkin has about 1 3/4 to 2 cups of pumpkin in it, so thats how much I put in my jars.  Be sure to freeze with the lid off, then put the lid on after freezing for a few hours (in case it expands while it freezes - if the lid is on it will make the jar crack.  If the lid is off it will just spill over the top.)

pureed pumpkin ready to go in the freezer

After it was all said and done, I made me some Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins! Yummy! 

Because I got my pumpkin for 8 cents a pound, the whole thing cost me about a dollar.  I scored 8 cans worth of pureed pumpkin plus yummy roasted pumpkin seeds for $1!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

“Frozen” Fruit Salad in Pastry Cups

For Thanksgiving I was asked to bring a “fruit salad or jello”. Jello is boring, especially for the biggest meal of the year!  So I decided to try something new and adapted this recipe from a few others.  It is easy and it could pass as a fruit salad or as a dessert – now that’s my style!



For the salad:
1 8oz cream cheese
12 oz wipped cream or thawed cool-whip
2-4 T sugar (less if your fruit was canned, more if it is fresh)
6 cups of chopped fruit (can be fresh, canned, or frozen)
(I used: 1 c mango; 2 c strawberries; 2 c pineapple; 1 c banana, and wish I would have added apple or pomegranate seeds)
1 can mandarin oranges (for topping)

Blend the cream cheese and whipped cream until there are no more chunks. Mix in sugar.  Add fruit.  Spread in a casserole dish and freeze for four hours.  Thaw just until you can scoop it out with a spoon and scoop into serving bowl or pastry cups, then top with the mandarins to make it look fancy(ish).  If you are serving it for a dessert it would be nice to drizzle some melted chocolate over the top.

For the cups: (this is what my aunt calls "cookie crust")
1 1/2 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1 t salt
mix in a bowl then add
1/2 c oil
2 1/2 Tb milk

Mix together until a doughy consistency, then take off pieces about the size of a ping pong ball and press into the sections of a well-greased cupcake pan. (DO NOT put them on the back of the cupcake pan. the crust is too flaky and falls off while it bakes into a giant crumb mess - put in IN the cupcake pan, right side up).  Bake at 425 for 10 minutes or until lightly brown.  This made about 18 cups for me, but I broke a couple trying to get them out of the pan.


(Perhaps you have noticed the watermark on my pictures? I'm prepping for PINTEREST! I haven't spent much time there and since I'm not computer savvy it will take me awhile to figure out how to use it.  But when I get it figured out, I will let you know!)
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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Inspiration Sunday: Does God want you to be happy?

Hmph.  I love holidays, but that post-holiday laziness is kicking in, and I'm about ready for a vacation.

Today my lesson was on righteous living.  I was really on a roll when I was planning it, and had a lot of great notes and scripture verses.  But apparently the girls in my class were also feeling the post-holiday malaise.  So, yeah, the interest level was a little low.  Teaching teenagers is so different from little kids. Soooo out of my comfort zone.

 
Anyway, as I was planning the lesson I began to think of those I know (and myself at times) who are not living righteously and use the excuse "But it makes me happy!  Doesn't God want me to be happy?"

Yes. God wants you to be happy. But the happiness you feel from sin is counterfeit happiness.  It is temporary, it is fleeting, it lasts only for a moment.  Only God is the author of true joy, and everything that God creates is eternal and everlasting.

How do you find true, lasting happiness?  It is not in doing as you please.  There must be a law, (hmm... theres an idea for another post!) and that law is God's law.  There is no greater happiness in this world than knowing that you are following the path that God has chosen for you.  He knows better than you what will bring you lasting happiness.  He wants you to feel happiness, and will provide that for you as you become the woman/man that God knows you can be.

So here's your challenge (ahem, my challenge to myself, but you are welcome to join):
If you are feeling low in some way (specifically guilt or lack of self worth), examine your life to see if there is somewhere you can repent and improve.  I'm not suggesting you are committing any major sins, but we all have something that we can improve on and this improvement will also increase our happiness, dignity, and self-worth.


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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

21 Days project: I DID IT!! and book review

HOORAYY!!!
Today is November 21, which means my 21 Days Project is complete!

The sewing room looks FABULOUS. I wish I could just spend all of my time in there. Check it out! So much better than Day 1!
Here's the (organized!) closet.  Each of those plastic grocery sacks holds a 'project in progress'.  Seriously one of the best ideas I've ever had.  That way I don't have to search for the zipper or the pattern or this piece or that piece, they are all contained in the bag.  It has been so incredible!

The view from the doorway.  The iron and ironing board are under the table, which was moved under the window to create more working space (now I can use the table or the floor, wheras before there was no floor area big enough.)  That piece on the floor is the beginning of my latest project, Simplicity 1776.  Hopefully I'll have it done before hubby's office Christmas party next weekend!

I know it would look real nice to have fancy boxes with a cute color or pattern, but I got these paper boxes for free and they are AWESOME.  Strong, with a lid, all the same size... FREE. Yeah. The best.  If you are looking for some great boxes, stop by a local office building and ask if you can have the boxes their reams of paper come in. I hoard these things! So each box contains a different type of fabric.  I used these categories: fleece; flannel & felt; laces, silks, satins, & sheers; knits, polyester, and apparel; patterned cotton & calico; solid cotton, muslin, & broadcloth; and then two boxes of old clothes for upcycling (one for pants/skirts the other for tops).  The brown box up at the tippy top of the right side is for scraps that I can use for my braided rug.  The drawer unit on the far left is still a bit of a mess, but it contains all the extra notions - ribbons, zippers, buttons, etc.  The small boxes on the left shelves are the patterns.  I have four boxes - modern womens; vintage womens; unisex/men/craft/decor; and children.
 
Woohooo!!!
 
Now, I honestly have to say that this would not have been accomplished if it were not for 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life.  Not only did I finish this great project of organizing my sewing room, but I have seen a major change in my life to become more disciplined.  I am better able to get myself to do things I don't want to do. (although the laundry basket sitting next to me might make you believe otherwise).  Seriously, ask the hubby! The house as been decently clean for two whole weeks!  That is a major accomplishment here!  Choosing a project related to cleaning was great as well, now that I know this room is clean, I want to keep the rest of the house clean and organized as well.
 
So, would I suggest 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life to you? Yes.  I'm not just saying that, I seriously think it's a great book!  When you first get it you might think that it is so short, but really, just reading those few pages every day does wonders to change your habits.  My mom always told me that great things come in small packages, and this is one of those great things.  If you honestly read the book and follow what it says, it WILL help you! Try it!
  
 
 
(p.s. the links contained in this post are affiliate links, I will make a small commission if you buy the book through this page.)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Inspiration Sunday: The Fear Factor

Source for this image

Doing the right thing can be hard. Like really hard.  Sometimes even little things just seem so impossible.

Why?

It almost always boils down to wanting to 'blend in' or be accepted by others. Who wants to be an outcast? Who wants someone to be angry with them? People are mean, and we try to avoid ruffling any feathers.  It's a survival instinct.  It's natural to feel nervous about sticking out.  It's normal to feel afraid to be different.  And sometimes, although we want to do it, we just somehow can't.

But fear cannot exist with faith.  Fear of what man may do shows a lack of faith in what God can do.  And although God sees the heart and makes up where we lack, it is our duty to serve Him to our full ability.  It is our purpose to continually improve ourselves so that we may be examples of God.

We've all had an experience where we made a lesser choice out of the fear of being mocked, ridiculed, left out, or hated.  These choices are especially difficult when those opposing them are beloved friends or family members.

We can find the strength to do God's will.  He will never leave us, and will be patient with us as we struggle to find the faith necessary to be obedient despite all odds.  Through prayer, He will reveal to us the testimony needed to know that we are making the right choice.  Through scripture study, we will gain confidence from the experience of those who have gone before.  Through preparation, we can anticipate what our choice will be when a given opportunity presents itself.

When I think of my own trials and the struggle that I have to follow through with certain decisions, they seem so minute in comparison with scriptural examples.  Esther risked her life to save her people, and I am too afraid of getting funny looks from strangers?  Daniel knew he'd be put in a den of lions, and I am afraid of what my friends might think?  Surely my Goliaths look more like mustard seeds.  But even faith the size of a mustard seed can change the world! 

Just because the decisions you face seem small, they are not insignificant.  Obedience to God, in the small things as well as the large things, increases our faith and is a witness of God to others - even to those whom we assume are far beyond our reach.  Trust in God.  Trust His commandments, trust the direction that He is leading you. (even if everyone else thinks you're crazy!) All these things will work together for your good and will build you up to become better and to be more than you ever anticipated.  God knows what is best.  His ways are higher than your ways and His paths are higher than your paths - but your paths become His paths as you follow Him.
 
"In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me."
-Psalm 56:11



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Friday, November 16, 2012

Hat, Mittens, Scarf FREE sewing pattern!

Hello friends! I told you I was working on a gift for you and here it is!

Do you have some basic sewing skills? Are you looking for an easy inexpensive project? Looking to put together a special handmade gift?  Are you cold and looking for some stylin' accessories to keep you warm?

You want my pattern then. It's free! C'mon, whats there to loose?



Download it Here!

I created this sewing pattern for a hat, mittens and scarf.  I guess those who live in a tropical paradise won't really care, but the weather is getting cold here and I wanted a new hat and mittens! So I made a pattern and I'm sharing it with you!  Now, share it with your friends! (Have you downloaded it yet? Hurry up slowpoke!)

To make all three you will need about 1 1/3 yds fleece.  Tons of stores have fleece on sale this season (some as low as $3/yd!)  $4 for the whole set? Sure beats the $13 hat I saw at the store yesterday!

Of course, I couldn't resist trying to model all three for you:

p.s. If you can't get it to download through Google Docs, please use the Contact Me form, let me know your email address, and I will e-mail you the PDF.

p.p.s. I want your feedback.  This is the first pattern I have ever made to share with other people - help me improve future patterns! Did the instructions make sense? Confused? Want to share photos of what you made? Contact me. I want to help you make this thing (and share the excitment about your creation!), I promise.




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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

21 Days Project: Ahh!! I can breathe!

My big weekend push paid off. WOOHOO!!
I seriously just want to spend all my time in the sewing room, even though it still isn't finished, just because it is so organized!
Sunday and Monday I moved all the boxes onto the shelves and finished up some little projects that had been sitting around causing clutter.  All thats left is finding a home for the random stuff on the floor and table top and cleaning/organizing the drawers.  But I've got a week... that is SO DOABLE.

Here's what it looks like now:
(Note the rice spilled all over... this is what happens when a toddler finds the rice. I figured if he was going to play with rice, he should do it in here, where it was already messy and unvaccumed.)



Now, for the book
Day 12 was titled "Discipline Demands Focus".  This is something I need, for sure.  I have ADD when it comes to these things.  Even with this project, I head upstairs to go work on it and I see the dishes need to be done, the laundry needs to be put away, by the time that's done I have to run some errands and then make dinner and before I know it the day is over and I never even set foot in the sewing room.  Crystal suggested two keys to maintain focus: 1.) Remove Distractions and 2.) Focus on the Task at Hand.  The daily tasks were to figure out what distractions were in your project and find ways to avoid them... Does that mean I have an excuse to put the dishes and laundry off? I hope so! Woohoo!
Day 13 is about reading motivating books to keep you going.  This is what I have to do all the time.  I start a project and then get distracted and then never feel like finishing, but if I read a book (or see a blog or even a photo) about whatever it is I was doing, and how someone else successfully finished it, I am motivated to keep going.  I think this is strongly connected to positive thoughts, what we read/see is what we think about - and while we might get sick of thinking of our own project, we can keep it fresh  and motivating by getting other perspectives on the topic/project.  The daily task was to find and read a book about your topic/project.  I would love to read a book about organizing, but right now I just don't have time. (Spoiler: because I'm putting together a gift for YOU!) I will in the future, I promise.

And remember, if you want to do a discipline forming project of your own, get the book:



(this is an affiliate link, so I will make a small commission on your purchase)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

21 Days project: The thick of it all

I have a confession to make:
I didn't work on the sewing room project at all for a few days in the middle of the week. Not being able to get those first few steps done really threw me off, and there just wasn't a way to do a 'little at a time'. (nor did I have the time to do even a little)
So, Saturday was the big day. I did nearly a week's worth on my list in one day. It was exhausting, but it was good.  But, like I said, this is one of those things that has to get worse before it gets better... let me tell you, it's really worse.

This is where I am now:
Yeah. Messy. Worse. Much worse. But, now I'm forced to finish, because it can't stay like this!

As far as the book is concerned, I have been reading that each day.  It is actually very motivating.  The past few days have been about positive thinking, writing your goals on paper, and having a cheerleader.  My new task - convincing hubby to be my cheerleader in this. :)  I know he wants that "thing" tamed, I just have to get him to keep me going. Sometimes he gets too complacent. :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Butternut Squash Two Ways

Guess what?? It's squash season! I love love love winter squash! Unfortunately, my husband hates it.  Also unfortunately, I'm not really great at cooking it.  I found two recipes on allrecipies.com  (links below) that I thought I'd try.  I did have to tweak the recipes a bit to fit what I had on hand, so I'll post what I used, and link you back to the original recipe.

Right up front, I'm going to tell you a big con about both these recipies: the prep.  Slicing a big squash is hard work, and then you have to remove the seeds and boil/steam it a bit to soften it up.  Make sure you have a big sharp knife and a strong person to come relieve you when your hands start to hurt.

Amazing Butternut Squash


1/ 2 butternut squash- peeled, seeded and cubed
Preheat oven to 350.  Slice squash, bring to a boil, then simmer until soft.  Mash squash, then mix in mayo, onion, egg, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Put in 9x9 square baking dish.  Mix together crackers, cheese, and butter, sprinkle over squash.  Bake for 35-45 minutes until topping is browned.
 
The review: Pretty good. It was more savory than I expected, and was good leftover.  I will be making this again.
 
 
 
 
1/2 butternut squash
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 cup cornbread mix
salt & pepper to taste
vegetable oil for frying
 
Peel and slice squash into small pieces.  Combine egg and milk in one bowl, dry ingredients in the other.  Heat oil in a fry pan.  Coat squash in egg mixture, then dry mixture.  Fry until golden brown.
 
The review: I liked it, but didn't love it.  I'm not the greatest fryer though, it seemed kinda soggy.  They weren't very good leftover either.  I'd only suggest this if you are good at frying things (unlike me) and if you know you'll consume them all at once. 
 
 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ham and Cheese Casserole

Growing up, one of my favorite meals was ham and cheese casserole.  Guess what? It still is one of my favorite meals.  My mom makes it with tri-color rotini and calls it "Green Noodle Casserole", but I can't convince hubby that green noodles are yummy.

It isn't the healthiest meal ever, but I promise if your kids like cheese they will eat it. It's like mac and cheese but a billion times better (and dare I say easier? It's possible.)


Ham & Cheese Casserole:

1 cup sour cream
1 10 oz can cheddar cheese soup (we like Campell's nacho cheese soup)
1 lb uncooked rotini pasta (tri-color if your family will eat it)
1 1/2 cups diced ham
1/2 cup sliced black olives (optional, I usually don't do this)
3/4 cup milk
1 cup grated cheese
pepper to taste

Cook noodles.  In a seperate bowl, stir sour cream and soup together until well blended. Mix this sauce with the noodles and all remaining ingredients except cheese. Spread in casserole dish (9x9 or 8x11) sprinkle with grated cheese.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Yum.... I want to go make more!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

21 Days to an organized sewing room: Storing the Pattern Collection

Despite the weekend setbacks, step 5 in my plan was something I didn't have to change  - organize those patterns!  I have enough patterns (and material) to run a small fabric store! (okay, a very small fabric store).  The problem is how to store the patterns.  Growing up, my mom had all her patterns thrown into a basket, and all her fabric scraps thrown into one giant box.  That just isn't going to work for me.
So, as far as patterns are concerned, awhile back my grandma gave me a bunch of vintage patterns in a box specially made to store patterns. For some reason, I never thought that such a thing existed.  I don't want to spend the money on some fancy schmancy box.  (This organizing project is supposed to be free!) So, I took the box apart, traced it onto some cardboard pieces I already had, and then glued and taped it all together.  (measurements are included if you want to make your own)

pieces for the box



After I did all that, I caught sight of the Costco milk boxes sitting by the trash can.   Sometimes, good things happen when you are lazy and don't take out the trash!  The Costco milk boxes are almost the exact same size as the pattern box! (not quite as pretty, but functional)  So, I'm also using those too and just making lids to go on top!

So, with my boxes made and collected, today's task is organizing the patterns and prepping for the real work - organizing the fabric. I can't decide how to do that. By color? by type? by size? There are too many variables! I am also thinking up ideas for how to store 'projects in progress'.

As far as the book goes, I laughed when I read Day 5 - making a contingency plan and anticipating obstacles. A little late. :) She did make a wonderful point - don't let a few setbacks destroy the whole plan.   She used the example of a diet.  If you cave and eat a piece of cake, does that mean that you've failed and should quit the diet? No.  Just eat extra healthy for the rest of the day and try harder tomorrow!  So, while I'll have to rethink my strategy, I do not have to give up on my goal!

Day 6 was about setting realistic goals.  This is definitely something I need to work on.  I am the expert at setting lofty goals and setting myself up for failure. (no, I can't clean the whole house with a toddler following me around un-cleaning the house, but I can keep one or two rooms presentable)  This is helping me recognize the smaller goals I can make that will be stepping stones to my larger goals.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more sewing room organization madness! (p.s. please comment, even if it's just to say hello!)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Inspiration Sunday: Fill 'er up!

Today at church we got to have a special lesson with all the women and girls 12 and older.  We discussed the importance of the scriptures and scripture study.  It was a really convicting meeting, reminding me of how life just seems to go better when you take a little time out to read the scriptures each day.
 
Two great ideas really stood out to me during the meeting.  The first was the commandment given to us by Ezra Taft Benson to "flood the earth" with the scriptures.  One woman made an interesting comment - "You must first fill yourself before you can overflow and help flood the earth."
 
And, just as I got to thinking about how this is all nice but I just don't have time to sit down and read, this comment: "If you're too busy to study God's word, you're busier than God intends for you to be." We went on to discuss how to 'weed out' those things we are doing that make us too busy to put God first.
 
So, while I'm participating in this challenge to be more disciplined and start positive habits, one of these will be to read the scriptures every day. Hopefully to read from the real paper book.  If not, then on the computer or on my phone app. If I can't do that, listening to it (as a last resort).  I do try to listen to or read the scriptures as often as possible, but since the prince has been growing up and demanding more attention, I have fallen out of my daily habit.  It's time to get back on track!
 
 

This post was linked up to:

 

21 Days... Days 2, 3, and 4

This weekend was supposed to be the 'big steps' for my sewing room reorganization project.  After some blood, sweat, and tears (yes, all three.) I am NOT where I expected to be, and am having to reconsider my final result and the steps to get there.

Here's what happened: My plan was to put shelves up in our 'cubby' overflow and then move the junk from the closet into decorative boxes on the shelves.  Too many problems were thrown in.  First, the shelves I had were too small. much to small. like one box to a shelf... if I was lucky. (next time measure the WIDTH, not just the length, when buying shelves!) Hubby didn't like the shelf idea anyway. He didnt like the moving the junk out of the closet idea at all. So instead, we cleaned out our bedroom closet. well... kinda, we actually just emptied it onto the bedroom floor before the little prince woke up. When I said it was going to get worse before it got better, I didn't know it was going to get this bad!  Also, on Friday, my grandma gave me three large bags of fabric scraps.  I CANNOT turn down free vintage material!  However, I also cannot find a place to put it all, and now my entire upstairs is torn apart.

So, the plan tomorrow: change the final vision of how the room will look, rewrite my steps, and get my upstairs to some semblance of acceptableness - before noon. (cause I've got errands to run!)

I won't be posting any pictures today (really, you don't want to see it) but I promise you I will soon!

Each day there are also additional projects in the book to help you develop discipline.
Day 2 was to choose a simple daily habit to improve (like putting your purse away).  It says specifically to only choose one, but I am choosing two. First is making the bed.  I've been pretty good the last two weeks or so but it still isn't a habit.  Second is the dishes. I tend to let them pile up and then do them when we have nothing to cook/eat with. I know it's naughty, and it's time to change.

Day 3 was to change implement a positive habit and/or change part of your routine to give you a productivitiy boost. Mine will be to have a set time in the morning to do some quick chores while listening to uplifing music/speakers/scriptures.

Day 4 was to realize that one at a time, slow and steady, is the way to change your habits and make the change stick.  Instead of choosing a new habit to start or change, I deciding I am on the brink of overwhelmed already  and took time to slow down and think through the stress.

wheeww... wish me luck that I can get through this thing!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

21 Days to an Organized Sewing Room - Day 1

Woohoo! Here it is, day one!
(in case you don't remember, I'm doing the 21 Days Project following the pattern in Crystal Paine's new book, 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life )

Today, step one, I put this sign on the door to warn everyone that what was on the other side of this door isn't pretty (and remind myself to keep going):
 
Then I took some "before" pictures.  You see why I need this?? this room is disgusting, and totally overwhelming!  There is stuff everywhere, and it is so unorganized!  We call this the 'sewing room', but it's also the office, the storage room, and the 'I don't know where to put this' room.  I'm also expanding my project to the 'cubby', the random area at the top of the stairs just outside the sewing room. It's turned into the sewing room overflow area - which is NOT OKAY!
 
Here are my "Before" pictures:

 
I don't know why I never thought of breaking it up into 20 small steps rather than doing it all at once.  Crystal is a genious! Unfortunately, this is one of those projects where it will probably get worse before it gets better. So, hopefully hubby can handle it being even worse for the next three weeks. 
 
The task I assigned myself for Day 1 was cleaning up the floor and throwing the trash out.  It took me about 10 minutes, and it looks better already, really!  I didn't take any after pictures because I had to get to writing this post and the little prince decided its a no-nap kind of day.
 
As of now, I'm excited to get going on this and see the progress. Onward and upward to Day 2! (I don't know that I will post my progress every day.  I am planning on a few times a week.)
 

This post is linked to:
 
 
If you want to purchase the book, you can buy it here:


(this is an affiliate link, so I will make a small commission on your purchase)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thoughts on Halloween

Ahh, Halloween. One of my least favorite days of the year.

I’d be inclined not to celebrate Halloween, as I pretty much hate it.  However, as I’ve said before, I just can’t make a decision, and that applies to Halloween as well.  In my few short years on this earth, my opinions have ranged from Halloween being abhorrently evil and Halloween being a wonderful day of candy and fun.  So, what is it?  This year, I think I’ve come a little closer to settling on an opinion.

First, as a kid, I was taught that a good way to make a decision was to write down all the pros and cons:

Things I like about Halloween:
-Candy
-Costumes (fun costumes not fitting into any of the categories listed on my ‘dislike’ list – but may I mention I LOVE making/wearing costumes)
-Carving pumpkins (again, things not fitting into the ‘dislike’ categories)
-the idea of honoring deceased ancestors (pretty much lost in American culture today, but a part of the celebration in the past and in other countries)

Things I dislike about Halloween:
-Anything evil or satanic (including witchcraft, spells, devils, demons, black magic, etc)
-Anything violent or insinuating violence (gore, blood, death, weapons, etc)
-Anything involving zombies, ghosts, or the ‘undead’
-Anything haunted, creepy, spooky, scary, etc.
-90% of all Halloween decorations are really tacky – fake spiderwebs, plastic gravestones, fake blood, the list goes on. We spend all year getting rid of spiders, cobwebs, etc and then put fake ones all over. I don’t get it.
-Halloween is second to Christmas in retail gimmicks, length of celebration, and decorating extravagance. It disgusts me.
-Really expensive low-quality costumes.  I really don’t understand why people waste their money on crap.
-The high percentage of women who see this as an excuse to dress like a slut.
-People who say “coshtume” instead of “costume”
-greedy kids taking handfuls of candy
-kids older than 13 trying to take my candy
-the fact that some churches host haunted houses, spook alleys, etc. Not appropriate at all!
-most of all: Most people seem totally ignorant to what Halloween really is, how it started, and what the traditions are all about. (My honest opinion is that much of this has to do with public schools – since many public schools can’t legally say anything about any religion, they can’t teach the history of any holiday traditions.  It’s a sad but true fact that many Americans have little or no desire to learn anything outside of a classroom, and so they never learn the truth.)

If I could tell every person in America something today, it would be the true meaning of Halloween.  I want everyone to understand the history and meaning behind it, then step back, take a look at what they are doing, and see if they really agree with it.  I want them especially to see if they really agree having their children participate. I think that many people just haven’t taken the time to think about what they are doing.

Halloween, like most holidays, is a mixture of Pagan and Christian traditions.  (In this case, mostly Pagan) I won’t go on about that, I figure you know how to use Google and can read more about the origin of the holiday if you want (try searching for Samhain – the Pagan celebration).  Now, you need to understand that Pagan religions (such as Wicca) are about the worship of earth (they are not satanic as some people believe, but many Pagans do call themselves witches).  I personally have no problem with looking for the good in every religion and celebrating with them the ‘good’ traditions I find.  However, I think it is interesting that Christian people are so excited to go all out in celebrating a Pagan holiday, but they don’t celebrate or even consider Hanukkah or Passover or Ramadan or Eid or Holi or Diwali.


The Conclusion:
So, I got to thinking about this, and I think I made up my mind (at least for this year).  At first, I was thinking it was time to suck it up and do away with Halloween altogether.  But then I got to thinking – if a Muslim friend invited me to a Ramadan feast, would I go? Yes, of course!  If a Jewish friend invited me to a Passover fest, would I go? Yes, of course!  If a Hindu friend invited me to a Holi party, would I go? Yes, of course! Do I think it is wrong to experience other cultures and support other faiths in the celebrations? No, I do not!  So should I see Halloween as entirely evil? No. There are many good things that our Pagan friends celebrate on Halloween, and I can join with them in this. 

As I do with all holidays (you will hear about Christmas and Easter when the time comes), I choose to participate in the holiday traditions that I feel are appropriate and that symbolize concepts that I think are ‘good’.  In the case of Halloween, this includes gratitude for the harvest, honoring my ancestors (who, before the Christianization of Europe, were Pagans themseves), and celebrating man’s victory over evil.  However, as a part of this, I also need to recognize the religions of other holidays more.  If I am going to celebrate part of a Pagan holiday in my home, I need to also be willing to have a symbolic dinner on Passover, try to come closer to God during Ramadan, etc.

So, if I don’t have fake spider webs on my bushes and a disgusting plastic zombie crawling out of my front lawn, forgive me. I will still give you candy if you knock on my door!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Welcome, world!

This is the first day this blog has been open to the public. If you are reading this, THANK YOU!!! please comment or follow (either through facebook or blogger) to let me know you are out there. Twitter and pinterest may come in the future. As far as the blog is concerned, it will be a random sampler of things I make and do, some product reviews, some tutorials, you name it. I'm sure you will see some dumb ideas and some good ideas. I'm not perfect and I don't mind letting you know that. I dont plan on posting every day, I am hoping for twice a week. For this first little while it may be more often just so I can get a good number of things in to keep you interested. If there is anything in particular you want me to post about, please let me know!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

21 Days project

If anyone needs to figure out how to live a more disciplined life, it is me! I would say that I have discipline, but I just can’t seem to get things done – which I suppose is evidence that I am not as disciplined as I thought.
 
Luckily, Crystal Paine over at moneysavingmom.com has just published a new E-book, 21 Days to a More Disciplined LifeWhen I read the sales page and description of the book and to whom it was written, I thought “yeah, that’s me… but a book won’t help!” Then, she linked to a group of bloggers (and facebookers and tweeters) who are going to keep each other going on this and actually accomplish something instead of read the book, be motivated for a day, and then be overwhelmed and lazy all over again the next. (Which is what will happen to me, I know)
 
The book is all about forming new good habits while accomplishing some sort of goal or project. Each day has a page of motivation and encouragement, followed by a goal for the day and a tip for your “Mega-Project”. The Mega-Project is the thing that you want to have completed by the end of the 21 days. I picked cleaning and organizing my storage/sewing/office/whatever room (it is hoarderville in there, really). The book is designed so that you can use it again and again to do many different projects. (It isnot just cleaning related projects either. Others have chosen waking up earlier, eating healthier, losing weight, learning a new skill, sewing/building something, etc.) If I’m somewhat successful with this one, I just might tackle the garage or under the stairs next.
 
So, starting November 1st, I will be doing this 21 day challenge, along with other women (and men, I suppose) around the country (world?) who, like me, make great plans, start big projects, and then never accomplish anything. I will post my progress to you a few times each week, and then at the end of November, give a book review and final report on my success (or failure).

Here's the deal: I need your help! I need you to keep me accountable and keep me going on this thing! Please comment and let me know that you are watching me. :)
 

Note: If you purchase  the book by following the image link above (or other links on my page), I will make a small commission on the sale. If you do decide to buy the book, thank you in advance!