Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Blog Post Roundup 1/28/12 + Book Review

Blog Post Roundup

Courage Personified @ Valerie Write Now {review of the movie Courageous}

My Hands @ Everyday Grace

10 Things You May Not Know About Your Pastor @ Valerie Write Now

How to Build a Home Library Without Breaking the Bank @ Over the Big Moon

Free ebook:  All Children Can Be Great Listeners @ Moms in a Blog


Perseverance @ Kristy..

Sign up for free weekly e-votions from Christian Womanhood magazine

It Won't Always Be Like This @ Smockity Frocks


Don't Be a Stranger @ Hidden Treasures

The "Little" Things @ Like a Bubbling Brook

Going Green @ Kristy..

Murphy's Law for Moms @ Raising Arrows



Book Reviews for the Week


Katie's Choice by Tracey Langford

Katie is a girl who grew up in a single parent home.  Her father abandoned her mother after taking one look at their infant daughter.  Despite her home life, she had a lot of ambition, desiring to go to college and make a better life for herself.  However, she made some poor choices while in high school, dating a guy and getting pregnant.  Her mother convinced her to have an abortion, a decision which haunted her for five years.  This is a story about redemption and grace; about how God works in people's lives; and how God offers forgiveness and help.

This was not a great book, but it was a good book.  It is definitely a book that can be given to someone who has had an abortion as a means to try to help them with the pain of that decision.
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Friday, January 27, 2012

A Tribute to Wilna Bounds

My Grandma Wilna Pauline Lee Bounds went to Heaven on Wednesday night. She was 90 years old and had been married for 70 years.
Words cannot fully express how wonderful she was to me. As the only granddaughter, I held a very special position in the family. My Grandma was a very important part of my life.
She taught me how to crochet at the age of 7. She taught me how to make Jacob's Ladder and a crow's foot with a piece of string. She made clothes for me and my Barbies. She took me to garage sales and bought me wonderful books. She took me swimming at the beach and made me wear my shoes so I wouldn't cut my feet on any glass. After my incessant begging, she climbed up in the attic to get the baby clothes she made by hand for my mother. She took the time to wash and iron all of them before letting me have them for my baby dolls. She prayed with me at night (we blessed everybody from Mama and Daddy to the horses and dogs, everybody we could think of). She let me play with her fabric scraps when she sewed. She kept toys at her house such as the Little People farm set (we had to put tissue in the crack of the horse's leg so it would stay put) and a pogo stick. As a teenager I would call and talk to her for hours even though she lived just right across the road. On several birthdays and Christmases she gave me roller skates -- all because that had been her favorite gift growing up in the orphanage. I still remember her alto voice singing in church.

Grandma suffered from Alzheimer's for several years. My mother was her primary caregiver devoting MUCH time, worry, and care. Before I was married, I hoped and prayed that she would live long enough to come to my wedding. When I became pregnant, I hoped and prayed she would live long enough to meet my baby. I knew that I would name my daughter after her. My daughter's name is Grace Elizabeth Lee Kinsey. The Lee is after her. My middle name is Pauline after my Grandma as well. When Gracie was one month old, we took her on her first road trip. We went for a weekend visit to South Mississippi. When we arrived, my Grandma was sitting on the couch at my mom's. I brought the baby over to her, and they both smiled at each other. You can see Grandma's beautiful, happy smile in the picture above. Gracie had smiled on occasion before, but that weekend she began smiling often. Such a wonderful memory!

I last saw my Grandma at Christmastime. Before we left, I went to say goodbye. At each previous goodbye, I wondered if that would be the last. This time she was asleep in her recliner. I woke her up. She looked up at me and gave me the same beautiful, happy smile as in the picture above. I could tell she was more lucid than she had been in months. She looked peaceful instead of nervous. I talked with her telling her we love her. I asked her if she knew who the baby was, and she said "Gracie." I reminded her of how we named Gracie after her because we love her. This time, I knew God was giving me the gift of a special time with her before she went to Heaven.

The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. (Psalm 16:6)

Her children arise up, and call her blessed. A woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:28, 30)
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How to take a shower and still protect your foot



I have a new nickname for my husband: MacGyver. He came up with a great idea for protecting my foot, which has to be kept clean and dry until next week due to my cyst-removal surgery. He found these dry sacks at Walmart which come in three assorted sizes. He also bought these "bands" to use to seal the bags around my leg. (I was so impressed that he found a hair item!!)

I used the small and medium bags. My foot still got a little wet but the important part stayed dry. I will triple layer using all three bags next time.

I was SO glad to be able to take a real shower again. I had been getting by taking a "spit bath" (sink bath) and washing my hair in the kitchen sink. The only shower that was better than this one was the one I took after having Gracie who, by the way, is 2 years old today!!

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Handy tip for keeping track of medicine

My family has been battling sickness off and on for two weeks now. I caught the brunt of it while in IL but didn't go to the doctor until we got back. She prescribed me a z-pack and prednisone. In order to keep up with "Did I take my medicine or not?" I wrote on the back of each blister the day to take each pill with a Sharpie marker. Simple, yet effective.

Note: I didn't realize until after I wrote on it that each pill says Day 1, Day 2, etc. I went back and wrote the correct day of the week. It looked messy but satisfied my by-the-book OCD tendencies.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Crockpot Chili, a Winter Favorite


I don't recall where I got the recipe for this Crockpot Chili, but it is a favorite around here.  Robert says that it's better than the chili his mother made when he was growing up!  That's high praise to beat out a mother-in-law!

Although we haven't experienced very much of a cold winter here in Memphis this year (today, it is 62 degrees outside and my daughter and I wore short sleeves when we were outside), this is a great dish to enjoy when it is cold outside.  I also like to take this to chili suppers at church.  Robert likes to brag that when it's all said and done, we take home an empty crockpot.  What he neglects to mention is that my crockpot was the first one that people came to on the table!  Still, it's very good!

Ingredients:
2 pounds ground beef, cooked and drained
2 packages chili seasoning (I use hot for us; mild for potlucks.)
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 4-ounce can green chilis
1 6-ounce can tomato paste

Directions:
First, cook the ground beef and drain it.  Then combine all of the ingredients in your crockpot.  Cook on low overnight or for 8 hours.  If you're in a time crunch, you can cook on high for a couple of hours and then on low for the remainder of the time.

Serve with crackers and cheese.

Linking up to Warming Up Winter @ Hidden Treasures.
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Handy tip for encouraging picky eaters

My daughter has a 3-step procedure for figuring out if she likes a new food:

1) The aesthetic test - does it look good?
2) The touch test - does it feel ok?
3) The lick test. Self-explanatory.

Many times, new foods do not pass test #1, which is very frustrating.

We have had some success with encouraging her to add the finger test: putting food on her finger and tasting it. That's how we found out she likes Fench Onion Soup!

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Another handy tip for traveling

When we get to our destination, I take a picture on my phone of the toys we've brought for Gracie. Then, when packing to leave, I can check to make sure we have all of her friends. When we were at my sister-in-law's this weekend, I found out that one of the puppies was missing. He was found under the bedcovers.
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Balance and Discipline resumes

I may have stated before (I can't remember) that I was suspending Balance and Discipline for a time. I think my last post was in September. I may or may not be very consistent with writing every week on this subject (or even on the same day every week). It's a little low on my list of To-Do's, and sometimes Real Life gets in the way. However, I'm of a frame of mind where I'm ready to continue with it. I probably won't do the linky thingy. If you want to link up, just add your link to the comments.

Today I am going to talk about what to do when your schedule and life is interrupted, whether by sickness, a family emergency, vacation, or the holidays. All of these instances have occurred in my life just in the last six weeks!

Mrs. Marlene Evans was the Dean of Women for Hyles-Anderson College for many years before her death from cancer in 2002. She also founded the Christian Womanhood magazine which is my favorite magazine. She was a very wise woman. I never met her personally, but have read her books, watched videos, and have listened to tapes of her speaking. One of the things she taught was when you can't do it all, focus on these three things: Food, Path, and Clothes. Don't worry about anything, or much, else.

In light of this, make sure you have groceries in the house and someone is able to fix meals. If you have to resort to open-a-can-of-something or throw-something-in-the-oven, that's ok. I realize that small children can pose an additional challenge. It's ok to get the pre-sliced apples and the chopped carrots. Takeout is ok sometimes, too. The important thing is to make sure your family gets fed.

Path.....that just means make sure that people have a pathway to walk from one place to the other. Don't worry about the dust collecting over everything or think about how the floors need to be vacuumed or mopped. Remember, whatever it is that is going on is temporary and these tasks will still be there.

Thirdly, keep the laundry up enough so that everyone has clean underwear and something to wear. It's ok if your little one stays in her jammies all day long or wears her favorite overalls or every day for several days. Sometimes not having to make another new decision can be a relief.

When Gracie was a newborn, we had nursing issues and she lost a little bit of weight (which, it turns out, is not uncommon nor anything to be very concerned about). I remember wanting to cry when the pediatrician said that we should supplement with formula until her weight picked up. She also said, "This is just a bump in the road." She was right! It wasn't long before Gracie picked up weight and became a little "chunky monkey." I've thought about that saying off and on since then, because it is so applicable to many events that happen to us. It's another way of saying, "This, too, shall pass."

As an addendum, the above is talking about our important role as homemakers. As much as possible, do not neglect Bible reading, prayer, or church attendance. The Bible says that the joy of the Lord is my strength. Staying connected to God brings Him joy and gives us strength.

In my next post I plan to talk about some of my goals, plans, and projects (etc.) I want to accomplish this year.
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Handy tip for traveling

I read a tip this summer that I immediately put into practice. I bought a pop-up hamper which I keep in our suitcase. When we are away from home, I set it up in a corner and put all of our dirty clothes in it. It works beautifully.

When we're getting ready to leave, I put the dirty clothes in the large part of the suitcase and leftover clean clothes (I always overpack on purpose) in the smaller part. When we get back home, I sort all the dirty clothes into their respective hampers (darks, lights, white, Robert's work clothes, and Gracie's clothes), and put the clean clothes away. It's all done in less than 10 minutes, and the suitcase is ready to be stored again.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

DIY Canvas Art, the latest

I told you before about doing some canvas art for Christmas presents.

I gave several relatives the pictures of my Grandpa and Grandma. The one of Grandpa was taken last summer. He is sitting on a chair that belonged to his grandfather. The one of Grandma was taken about three years ago and is the latest nicest picture I have of her (before Alzheimer's started its decline). For my relatives' photos, I painted the edges of the canvas a medium brown that sorta matched the house siding. It really made it look a lot better than the ones I have.

The other picture is of Gracie and her two cousins whom we saw briefly at their house last October. I painted the edges of the canvas pink which kind of matches Gracie's and Rynn's outfits. I wish that could have been a better match but it didn't turn out too bad. For now this picture is at Gracie's eye level in the living room so that she can often remember the fun times with her cousins. My sister-in-law took this photo, and I edited it in Photoshop Elements (my first "real" edit).

This is the third post about DIY Canvas Art.
Click here to view the first post about DIY Canvas Art (tutorial)
Click here to view the second post about DIY Canvas Art (notes improvement)

Photo taken with iPhone and zoomed in.  Sorry for the poor quality!  I was on bed rest and couldn't get any closer.
Photo taken with iPhone.
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Handy tip for shredders

My husband prefers for me to shred papers with personal information before throwing them away. After creating many messes when trying to transfer shredded paper to a trashbag, I finally figured out to put a trashbag in the shredder can to catch (most of) the shredded paper.

I keep the shredder in the garage to keep curious little fingers away, and so I can shred while Gracie naps.

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Blog Post Roundup (1/21/12)

Here are some posts for you to read:

If You Give a Mom a Muffin @ Organizing Homelife

He's Never Even Dropped a Pizza! @ Encouraging Words


A Thankful Heart is a Generous Heart @ Doorposts of Your House

aged parents @ As a Laura Ingalls Wilder Researcher Thinks
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Friday, January 20, 2012

Gracie's First Post

J


Not sure how she did this, but you can imagine my surprise when I found this post on Google Reader!

I guess she wanted to send a smile your way.

This is a good time to post an update on things around here.

We went to IL for Kinsey Christmas and had a great time with the in-laws.

This morning I had surgery on my foot, removing a ganglion cyst. I'm on bed rest for the next 48 hours and house arrest (no driving) for 10 days. The surgery went fine. Robert took the day off so he could take me to the doctor and care for Gracie. Gracie didn't like leaving me there, cried most of the time. I'm sitting on the couch (recliner), Robert is asleep by me, and Gracie (who should be asleep but I can't or shouldn't put her in the crib). I took a pain pill which is making me drowsy.

My Grandma was taken by ambulance to the hospital late last night. She was having trouble breathing and her heartbeat was irregular. She is on a ventilator and will be there for several days until she is stabilized.

I will try to blog more while I'm on house arrest. It all depends on Gracie.
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Applesauce Oat Muffins

Tonight's game between Bama and LSU provided a good excuse to make some muffins as a snack.

I found this recipe in Taste of Home magazine (February/March 2002).  I kept most, if not all, of my magazines from the year or two that I have subscribed.  I've been slowly going through them culling the recipes I wanted to try.

Gracie always likes to be doing whatever I'm doing (which can make some things difficult to accomplish!).  She wanted to "help" me make the muffins.  She did help.  She helped make a mess!  She is fascinated with my drawer of kitchen gadgets.  I pulled out some tongs and a BBQ brush, but she was more interested in my collection of measuring spoons.  I had a time trying to corral her efforts in spooning muffin ingredients from the mixing bowl to her pot.  She had loads of fun, though.


Ingredients: (4 muffins)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder*
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
1/8 teaspoon salt

1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon canola oil

I tripled the recipe to make 12 muffins.

1.  In a bowl, combine the first six ingredients.  Realize that you forgot to buy baking powder and substitute 1/3 the amount of baking soda instead.  ("worth a try")

2.  Remove toddler's hand from bowl.  Grab toddler's spoon and dump mix back into the bowl.

3.  In another bowl, combine the egg, milk, applesauce and oil. Preferably away from toddler.  Scoot farther down if she follows you.  Use olive oil because you just don't feel like digging under the cabinet to find the canola or vegetable oil.

4.  Repeat #2.  Also remove measuring spoon that toddler just shoved in her mouth and put back into drawer.

5.  Stir wet mix into dry mix just until moistened.  Or longer if you didn't read that part.

6.  Repeat #2.

7.  Fill four greased muffin cups two-thirds full.  Remove toddler's spoon from muffin cup.

8.  Tell toddler to get down and move because "HOT HOT HOT!"  Bake at 400 F for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.  Or just leave them in the muffin cups if you didn't read that part.


9.  Clean up mess on counter.  And floor.  See the bottle of cinnamon and realize you forgot to put that in.  Put 15 measuring spoons in the dishwasher.

Robert, an enthusiastic guinea pig for my new recipes, tried it first.  I asked him, "How is it?"  He paused and said, "You said it has what in it?"  Oh boy, that's not good.  "It has baking soda instead of baking powder."   He didn't like it.  He gave a morsel to Gracie who eagerly took it (probably because she got to help).  Robert came back into the kitchen and said, "She said "Back! Back!"  So she didn't like it, either.  I tried it, and although, I didn't hate it, I didn't LIKE it, either.

Not sure if I want to retry using the correct recipe or not.  By the way, tripling the recipe made too much mix for 12 cups.  I put the leftover in the fridge.  Maybe I'll try to add something to it to make it more palatable.

PS  ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!!!
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Baby Doll Sleeping Bags

I saw a pin for a Baby Doll Sleeping Bag on Pinterest and thought that Gracie would love to have one like it.  The directions are very simple.  I did make some tweaks.  I didn't take any pictures of the process.  Well, I thought I did, but I couldn't find them.  Just go to that web page, and it'll help you.

I bought this fleece when it was on sale at Hancock Fabrics.  Gracie picked it out (even though she didn't know what she was picking it out for!).  I bought one yard which was enough to make two baby doll sleeping bags and have fabric left over for future projects.  We are giving the other sleeping bag away to Gracie's cousin the next time we see her.

When I initially was doing the sewing for this project, I ran into a problem with my sewing machine.  First it started making "clackity" noises.  Then the bobbin was pulling up multiple threads and hanging up.  After snipping through and investigating, I saw where it looked like the bobbin was bouncing up and down. I thought maybe a screw was loose.  I had Robert help me get into it (after trying unsuccessfully myself).  He didn't see where a screw was loose.  He put it back together and, this time, the bobbin wouldn't pull up at all!  I took it to Hancock Fabrics hoping someone there would be of help.  The lady I talked to, who was very knowledgeable about sewing, didn't have a clue.  I didn't know it, but they offer sewing machine repair.  A man comes and picks up the machine, takes a look at it at his home, consults with the owner by phone, and fixes it.  The man, Randy, was very helpful.  He said that I'd been using the wrong bobbin in my machine!  This is actually kind of funny because several months ago, my friend Valerie and I had a conversation about a sewing program she is doing with her daughter and she mentioned that it taught the importance of using the correct bobbin.  I remember saying, "Oh, I didn't know there were any differences in bobbins."  Instead of using Singer Class 66, I had been using Class 15.  OK, so now I know.  He had to replace the bobbin case assembly and he did a thorough clean and tune-up on it (quite needed since I'd never had anything done on it in the 15 years of owning it).

It didn't take long at all to sew these up (done in one night after I put Gracie to bed).  One modification in particular that I did was using a wide bias tape on the folded-down "sheet".  The original sleeping bag does not have a folded down sheet.  I added that because I thought it would be cuter.  One of the sleeping bags has the bias tape only on the top part of the sheet, the other one has it on all three sides (because I didn't like my stitches on the sides and wanted to cover them up).  I made the sleeping bags large enough for Gracie's largest baby doll.  The doll you see here is a small doll probably no more than about 6 or 8" long (with a giant head).

I laid out the sleeping bags with two of Gracie's babies for a surprise (even though she will only get to keep one).  She likes them.  In the picture below, she is going "night-night" like the dolls (please excuse the diaper-flashing); I think she is also patting the floor to get ME to go night-night with them!  She also tried putting her feet into the bag herself.


Original Source:
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Home Organizing Ideas

I am a list-maker at heart.  I always have been.  I remember coming across a list a long time ago that I made when I was about 8 years old.  It was a packing list of stuff to take to my grandma's house.  I had divided the list into two parts:  one part was for my mom to pack (stuff like clothes and underwear and toiletries and boring stuff like that); the other part was for me to pack (books, Barbies, and fun stuff like that).  I still make packing lists.  I also make lists of things to get done on a particular day or for the week.

A few months ago, I made up a form to use each week which serves as kind of a summary for the week (minus activities on the calendar).

This has been a help in getting things done.  I aImost always have to go to the places listed under Weekly Errands each week.  I will list special errands under that category.  "Things to Look For" are things I am looking to buy, but I do not know what store I will find it at.  (I am currently looking for travel soapboxes in which to store playing cards.  I can't believe I can't find any!)

The second section is for the week's menu.  Extras are usually some kind of dessert or appetizer or breakfast item.

Projects are usually Pinterest projects.  "Eat the Frog" means the tasks do I NOT want to do, but I know I need to do them.  Toddler activities are to list Storytimes and other activities that I want to do with Gracie.

The bottom section is kind of a shopping list for specific projects that I want to do.  I do not always use this.  It depends on how busy my week is.

I like to use a BIG calendar in my kitchen for writing down activities and other things I want to remember.  I also use it as a journal of sorts, writing down cute things that Gracie does or says.  Unfortunately, I don't always remember or take the time to write things down.  I've used several kinds of calendars, and my favorite one so far is the 2012 Amy Knapp's Big Grid Family Organizer wall calendar: The essential organization and communication tool for the entire family.  The one thing that sets it apart from other calendars is that it has a space at the bottom of each square for writing in what's for supper that night.  It also has different ideas for things to do each month and stickers to use.  In all honesty, I can't/don't use most of the stickers, but I do like the idea of them.

Over the years, I've toyed with different forms and charts listing daily/weekly/monthly/etc. tasks to be done.  I've set up numerous different systems.  Some I've liked better than others.  This year, I decided I would try the Motivated Moms planner which is an e-book style planner that you print out on your own printer.  There are different formats available.  I bought the one that is a Full Size Page Per Week.  I have only been using it this week, and let me say, it has made a noticeable, positive difference in my home!  I don't know if it's the system itself or the fact that I have *something* to follow or what.  I feel like I am getting things accomplished, and my house is looking better and better all the time.  Actually, I haven't even done everything on the lists (and have done some extra things NOT on the list).

The only negative thing about Motivated Moms is that not everything is tailored for my specific needs or preferences (and that's ok!).  I spent some considerable time analyzing the tasks (this is a dedicated geek project) and putting them into categories of how often they are done.  I also developed a revised form that I think works a little better for me.

I was toying with the idea of putting something together to share with you that you can use to develop your own chorelist for the year.  (If this is something you would be interested in seeing, please let me know by leaving a comment or by emailing me.  I already have much of the work done; it's just a matter of getting it in finished form with instructions.)

Another helpful thing I have done is make a shopping list form to use at Walmart.  It is different in that it is laid out so that I go in order according to how I travel the aisles.

This is a very plain format, no pretties to look at, very functional.  I usually fold it in half lengthwise so that the writing is on the outside.  As I go through Walmart, I shop from the left side of the page top to bottom, turn it over and then go down the right side.  Only when I have written something on the wrong aisle have I ever had to backtrack (or if I accidentally overlooked something).  I keep a magnetic shopping list pad on my fridge that I use to write items down.  Whenever I plan my week (usually on Sunday nights) and figure out what I'm cooking for the week, that's when I fill out this shopping list form.  Whenever I'm ready to go shopping, I add the things from the list on the fridge.

For the 99% of you who have never been to my house, I have a very small kitchen.  When two people are in there trying to do stuff, it gets very crowded.  I also have an abundance of stuff in my kitchen.  I have been incredibly annoyed at the way I have next-to-no countertop space in which to prepare meals.  Most of the space has been taken up by stuff laying on the countertops!  I am happy to report that I have doubled and maybe tripled the amount of usable space this week!  I found new homes for things (some being temporary homes) and have rearranged things around.  I have two lower cabinets that are gigantic wastelands for stuff.  They are deep and tall and have one half shelf in the back which renders 25% of the space as unusable.  I cleaned out one of the cabinets and rearranged it, and I'm very happy with the results.  I should take a picture, huh?  OK, here you go.


I can tell my husband has been in there because I used to have a lot more sugar in that canister on the left (which is out of place).  He made two batches of root beer tonight.  I now keep most of my baking staples on that little shelf.  I love those plastic containers from Walmart.  I have several sets used to house not only baking staples, but laundry detergent as well (in the garage).  The back row of the bottom of the cabinet houses a large tupperware container of flour (which you can't see because it has the slow cooker liners and sandwich baggies on top).  A note about the baggies -- I use them when I have to grease pans or muffin cups with shortening.  I put one over my hand, get a dab of shortening, grease up, and dispose of the baggie.  Next to the flour container are my meatloaf pans, shortening cans, and small crockpot.  In the front is my regular crockpot (the crock is in the fridge holding the yummy stew I made this week), a container of cookie cutters and some muffin liners, and another plastic container of miscellaneous baking supplies such as extracts, food coloring, funnels -- mostly small things corralled together.

The other cabinet (not pictured) houses my pots and pans, lids, oils, muffin tins, etc.  It's not in terrible shape, but I know I could make it more user-friendly.  I have already considered that when it comes time to buy new skillets, I believe I will get two of the large deep skillets (with straight sides) since that is the one I use most of the time.  I hardly ever use the saute pans (though my husband does, so they will stay).


My kitchen last summer.


Hopefully later this year, we will be doing a remodel of the kitchen.  Our kitchen doubles as a laundry room (which is the one thing I would LOVE to change - get the washer & dryer their own little area someplace OUT of the kitchen).  We have a stackable front-loading washer & dryer.  The washer, for some reason, has this nasty-looking black stuff (mold?) growing in it that will not come out.  Robert wants to replace this unit with the old-style top-loading washer and front loading dryer (side-by-side).  Our refrigerator will be moved to the pantry area (where you see the microwave in the corner).  Because it is a smaller area, the refrigerator will also have to be replaced.  I will NOT be getting another side-by-side refrigerator/freezer.  I have never liked that style.  I feel all cramped when trying to get into the freezer.  I have not yet decided if I will get the kind with the freezer on the bottom or on top.  I like the idea of having the freezer on the bottom.  Ultimately, it's Robert's decision, but I know he will take my preferences into consideration.  With the refrigerator moved over and the washer and dryer taking up all of the lower space in that area, I also want to put in a countertop over the dryer and upper cabinets over both the new washer and dryer.  I will then move the microwave and coffeepot to the countertop over the dryer.

You may be wondering what about the stuff that is currently in the pantry area?  Well, we have a utility closet of sorts that is in between the dining room and the garage.  The fusebox is in there and all kinds of man-stuff that Robert has had in there forever.  It was his wonderful idea that we turn that closet into a new pantry!  I am so excited about this!  It's a narrow room about 32" wide which will only have room for shelves at either end and maybe some hanging space on the long wall.  [I had a great idea after writing this post of using  hanging wire racks on the long wall to use for canned goods.  That would free up more space on the shelves at either end for other things!]  Robert wants to make an open doorway from the dining room, but I'd rather not.  I don't mind getting to it from the garage, and I'd rather not have it easily accessible by Gracie.  I am We are hoping to get a nice tax return so that we can get this project completed this year.

Well, this was longer than I anticipated.  I took two naps today [Saturday] and am not ready to sleep because of it.  I woke up feeling like a steam roller hit me this morning.  I also had a slight fever.  After my morning nap, I found out my daughter had a 102 fever!  I called the after-hours nurse to make sure I knew what dosage of Tylenol to give her.  She felt better after the first dose.  We've been taking it rather easy today.  My fever went up again this evening.  I'm not sure what tomorrow will be like, whether both of us will be able to go to church at all.  Usually when Gracie is sick, my husband and I will take turns staying with her while the other ones goes to church.  If just I am sick, Robert will take the baby to church so that I can get some rest.  (Yeah, free babysitting, terrible, I know.  Good thing the ladies love her!)  I really hope to go since our pastor's parents are visiting, and I have never met them.

UPDATE:  We are both doing better, but neither of us were able to make it to church.
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Monday, January 9, 2012

Sausage Cheeseballs

One of my favorite appetizers/snacks is sausage cheeseballs!  My mom has made it for years, and I love them!  She used to keep some in the freezer, ready for a snack-on-a-whim.

Pinterest has been showing a different version of the sausage cheeseball which sounds really yummy.

I recently made BOTH versions.




Basic Sausage Cheeseballs

Ingredients:
2 cups Bisquick mix (I have also used the Jiffy all purpose baking mix)
2 cups shredded cheese (my favorite is the Mexican/fiesta four cheese)
1 pound bulk sausage in a tube (In the South, I use Jimmy Dean; up North, I use Bob Evans.  I like the Hot variety, but I will also use regular flavor when taking to parties.)

Procedure:
Mix thoroughly.  If you have a Kitchen Aid mixer, use it!  Form into 1" balls.  I like to spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes.

You can also freeze uncooked sausage balls and bake for a longer period of time.


New Sausage Cheeseballs with Cream Cheese

Ingredients:
1-1/4 cups Bisquick mix
1 cup shredded cheese
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
1 pound bulk sausage in a tube

Procedure:
Mix thoroughly.  Use your Kitchen Aid mixer if you have one.  These directions said to use the dough hook attachment.  I used to always use the paddle attachment, but I tried the dough hook and it works just as well, but easier clean-up. So, dough hook wins!  You will have to crank up the speed to make it mix well and relatively quickly.  Just be careful not to make it go too fast or it will spatter.  <wishing I had one of those covers>  Form into 1" balls.  Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.  I'm sure these can be frozen uncooked as well.


If you'll notice in the picture above, there are two very different looking sausage balls on the plate.  You may initially think that one is the regular recipe and the other is the new recipe.  Actually both are the new recipe, which doesn't look MUCH different from the regular.

On the left is a sausage ball that was baked the normal way, being placed on the pan.  The one on the right is a sausage ball that was baked in my new and improved way:  on top of a wire rack in a roasting pan.


I put aluminum foil in the pan to catch the grease and allow for easier cleanup.  I then set the wire rack on top and sprayed with Pam.  The rack will hold 28 sausage balls at a time.  It will leave two parallel lines in the sausage balls, but I think it makes it much more attractive to eat than that dark spot on the bottom.  That has ALWAYS bugged me

I bought the pan at Walmart.  I was actually looking for something else when I spotted it.  The wire rack originally came with little plastic feet on the bottom.  Before I used it, I looked very carefully at the label to see if there were any instructions about a heat limit; there were none.  I first made the regular sausage cheeseballs which are baked at 375.  No problems.  I then made the new ones which are baked at 400.  That's when I noticed that the plastic feet were melting!  I think because they came into contact with the hot sausage grease.  My husband said to throw that batch out (we weren't sure about danger from plastic fumes).  After the rack cooled, I popped off the plastic feet and resumed baking with no trouble.  It's a really nice pan, otherwise.

My husband has never really liked the sausage cheeseballs.  Just about every time I've ever made them, they've been a big hit.  It was kinda funny last year when Robert volunteered us to make the snacks for our then Sunday School class (I now am in the nursery and Robert is in the main adult class with our pastor.).  He wanted me to make an apple cake that our neighbor had made and shared with us.  I wanted to make the sausage cheeseballs.  I made both and Robert was a little chagrined to find out that the sausage cheeseballs made a bigger splash.  He said, "I guess I read that crowd wrong!"  (Interestingly enough, although I liked the apple cake, I'm not a huge fan of it.  Different strokes for different folks.)

Anyway, so I made these two variations of the sausage cheeseballs and offered both kinds to Robert to try.  He definitely likes the newer one better, though I'm not sure if he would like them enough to ask for them.  I like both equally, but I'll probably make the newer one since Robert likes them better.  Unless I'm in a mood where I don't want to share, then I'll make the regular ones.

Oh, I forgot to add that the sausage cheeseballs (both varieties) passed the Gracie Approved test, too! (A girl after my own heart!)

Original Source:
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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Reader Survey, Part 2

Thank you to the four of you, so far, who have completed my Reader Survey.  If any others of you have the time, I would appreciate it if you would fill it out as well.  It is anonymous and short and simple to complete.

I was a little surprised by the results.  I'll show the graphs for the current results.



Somebody likes everything (Thank you!).  Everybody likes Pinterest (no surprise there!).  Most of you like Arts and Crafts, Recipe Reviews, and Balance and Discipline.  Most of you do NOT like the Technology posts.  That was a surprise to me.  Fortunately, I do not post very many of them.  One or two of you do not like book reviews or product reviews.

I kinda wish I had put in more of my categories, but I didn't check my category lists when I made up the survey.  I later thought of things to add (can't remember now, though!).

I will keep on with the Pinterest, Arts and Crafts, and Recipe Reviews.  These are things that I do at home anyway.  You may have noticed that I suspended the Balance and Discipline for a while.  I'm almost ready to resume that.  December was a very topsy-turvy month for me with my sister going to Heaven and Christmas activities.  I've set some goals for the year which I will write about when I resume the Balance and Discipline posts.

I'm not going to do away with the Book Reviews entirely.  When I get free books from the Blogging for Books program, I am required to write an online reviews.  However, for other books, I will add my reviews to the bottom of my Blog Post Roundup posts.

Thank you to those of you who are coming here from Pinterest.  I have been so surprised and overwhelmed at the number of repins I got from my shadowbox bank.  To date, it has been repinned over 6,000 times!!!  One blogger also featured it in one of her posts.

My Google Friend Connect shows that I have seven followers.  There may be others who follow using Google Reader or other RSS reader.  I have learned that I have a few secret followers such as my sister-in-law and my pastor's wife.  This blog is mainly used as a creative outlet.  It's always an encouraging thing to find out that people whom I know personally read this (and people I don't know, of course).

If any of you have any special requests, constructive comments, or suggestions, I'd be more than happy to hear them!

Happy 2012!

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Cowboy Casserole

This is a recipe that I found in the August/September 2010 issue of Taste of Home magazine.  I made it sometime before Christmas.  I'm not sure exactly when.  December was kind of a blurry month for me.









Ingredients:
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1 can (8-3/4 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
2/3 cup condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted (I substituted the Cream of Something Soup mix mentioned in this post.)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/3 cup 2% milk (I used whole milk which is what I have on hand for my daughter.)
2 Tbs sour cream
3/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups frozen Tater Tots (I used southern style hashbrowns which is what I already had.)

Preheat oven at 375 F.

In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink.  Stir in the corn, soup, 1/4 cup cheese, milk, sour cream, onion powder, and pepper. [Yes, I see that you do not drain the fat off of the ground beef.  I'm pretty sure I didn't do that.]

Place 1 cup Tater Tots (or hashbrowns) in a 3-cup baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Layer with beef mixture and remaining Tater Tots; sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Bake uncovered at 375 F for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

I remember making this; I remember eating this; I do not remember if I loved it or just liked it.  Robert had a mildly positive reaction to it.  I will put this in my Keeper Recipe file and we'll see how it does the second time around.
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