Sunday, March 31, 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

More "I am-ing"

A few things I want to add to the last post about I am.
God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'" Exodus 3:14

Just consider this...  If I am is God, then are we not summoning God power when we begin with I am.  If that is the case, perhaps it's time to be much more conscious of what we put behind it.  If we were describing God, would we say I am forgetful? Lazy? Mean?

No we would not.  So, let's not do that to ourselves.  Why would we want to focus God power on being negative about ourselves.  If you can't find a way to frame it in the positive, try 'I am figuring it out' or 'I am learning'.

Today: I am dusting. I am finishing a sewing project.  I am love.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Kitchen Update and Thoughtful musings

 Remember the basket to hold paper plates...  Well this is how it turned out.  After getting half way with the blue, I frogged the blue back out and went with black.  Turns out I couldn't commit to the blue.  I like it a lot, but what if I want to change the accent colors to purple and green or pink and light pink or...  Well you get the idea.  I just didn't want to be in the business of making paper plate baskets.

So, this is the finished project.  What do you think?  I love the natural and black together.  I decided on a double strand reverse single crochet edging because I like the chunky, unkempt look of it.

In other news...  They came to measure for the countertop today!  Woo.  It's all very exciting.  We picked out a new faucet, too.  More on that later.

So listen, I've been doing some research into "I am" statements and spending some quality time in prayerful consideration.  Here are my thoughts:  "I am" is an incredibly powerful way to begin a sentence.  "I" means you and no one else.  "Am" means is, without question or qualification.  Therefore we should consider carefully what we put after it.  For instance, I am tired.  I am sick.  NO!  This are not things you want to be putting into the cosmos or into your internal dialogue.  I am Strong.  I am healthy.  I am love.  YES!  That's what I'm talking about.  Find a way to frame your challenges in a positive way.  Feeling stumped? You can always say I am figuring it out, which if you aren't telling it like it is, you might just give yourself time to figure it out.

“There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be...” ― John Lennon

Sunday, March 24, 2013

March Madness & a New Countertop

It's March Madness and my favorite husband is a junkie!  For years, as a family, we've had a bracket challenge.  Some years we pick round by round and some we go all the way through the bracket.  It always brings around some funny moments and this year is no exception.

Just so you know, I pick my teams based on how I feel about the names.  I don't know their records, I don't know their injury list, I just look at the two names and go with my gut.  I get teased about this a lot.  A Lot.  But, I do it anyway, because it's what works for me.

sorry about the blur.
To get my guys going, I added the phrase at the top.   Whew, am I a funny girl or what!  Though my picks have not all worked out, I'll always be able to say I picked Harvard and Wichita State.
Close up of a section of countertop.

On to the really big news of the weekend.  We picked a countertop! Yes, we did.  It's granite and I'm so happy with it.  It's among the only ones we looked at that both my husband and I could agree on.  It's amazing and wonderful and in about 3 weeks it's going to be here every day so I can look at it.

When my kids were little and they would get agitated by unexpected things, I started a habit with them where we would chant: Be Happy, Be Flexible, Be Free.  Sometimes we danced, sometimes we stamped our feet, sometimes we laughed at ourselves.  It was a way to get them out of whatever moment they were in, but it's also a good way to approach life.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Okay! Food in the Fridge

Here's a funny thing...  I couldn't remember if I've mentioned today's subject before or not and so I've just spent a few minutes re-reading previous posts.  I say "Okay" a lot.  I start sentences with it and everything.  I'm certain English majors around the world are cringing, but I think it's funny.  I had an Uncle who said Okay all the darn time.  Genetics are funny.  I am thankful to be at a stage in my life where I can laugh at my own ridiculousness.

On to the purpose of this post.  I have a busy family and these days it's rare for all of us to be home at dinner time.  My kids are virtually grown, but rarely cook for themselves and rather than leaving them to a lifetime of pb&j's or cheese sandwiches, I've come up with a few things to keep nearly ready food in the fridge for quick meals and I thought I'd share.  

It's the chicken, jar of diced veggies
and naked pasta, hee hee.
Chicken - We eat a lot of chicken.  A tip from Pioneer Woman is to cut the chicken breast like you do a cake layer.  Or, like butterflying a breast, but keep going to get two pieces that still have the chicken breast shape.  Why you might ask, well the breast pieces are too large for just one person.  And cutting them this way, they still look great, but are more reasonably portion sized.  After cutting, I saute with a small amount of butter and olive oil until cooked through.  You can also bake them in the oven, but I prefer the saute.  Once cooked, I cool, then wrap individually.  (Okay, this is chicken people and you don't want to risk salmonella or anything else, so cook the chicken thoroughly and cool safely to ensure good food for you and your family.)  I do this twice a month, so I make enough to last two weeks.  I take half of the individually wrapped breasts and put them in a large zipper bag and stow it in the fridge.  The other half, I put in a freezer bag and freeze, taking it out when the first batch is gone.  This chicken can become a sandwich just as it is, or it can be chopped and added to a salad, turned into chicken salad, made into a quesadilla, added to soup, rice, baked potato, eggs, etc. It's great I tell ya, it's great!

Another artistic view of same
Pasta Salad - My youngest thinks pasta salad is the bomb.  But if you've ever had pasta salad in the fridge for more than a day you know that all the dressing absorbs into the pasta and the veggies begin to soften right away.  Here's what I do, I make the pasta, cool it and store it in a large container in the fridge, naked.  I then prepare the veggies, mix them together and store them in the fridge in their own container.  When you want pasta salad, a spoon full of pasta and spoon full of veggies, add your own dressing and stir.  The veggies by themselves, especially in mason jars, will be fresh and crisp for days.  Naked pasta-the same.  Once the pasta is cool, rinse it with cool water and let drain - no sticking!   Here's my favorite part about this, I like odd stuff in my salads, like pickles.  Because I'm making a me salad, I can put whatever I want it in, including some very delicious dill pickle bites every time I want!!!

Just wanted to share, okay! OKAY!

BTW~ we went to look at more countertop options and I've come home confused.  I thought I was headed in one direction and ended up attracted to a completely different one.  Oh, geez.  So, I'm going to sleep on it, go to one last place tomorrow and then make a freaking decision.

Okay, here's another funny thing about me, I take really interesting pictures.  Just look at these two.  Clearly not a food blogger.  As my boss says, "We are all gifted differently."  hee hee, yes I am :)

Most importantly...      Have a great weekend people. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

OmyGoodness... And a basket, too.

I don't feel well and I've reached the whiny stage. And the stage where I don't think I can be around myself a minute longer. AARRRRGH. (And the pirate noises stage, too, apparently.)

I'm currently crocheting a basket to hold the paper plates out of natural kitchen cotton, ♥LionBrandYarns. I'm definitely going to add blue (don't you love that vintage packaging?) in a stripe and I'm thinking of adding the orange in a small stripe, too. What do you think?  I'm pondering the orange because I don't really want to commit.  I like it, but we went neutral on purpose.  But, then again it's just a basket.

It's going to be one of THOSE days, is it?!

I'm working the basket in single chains and since this is the first crocheted piece I've been able to progress with since I broke my arm (and a small bone in my thumb, which is the troublesome part), I'm really thrilled.  Yes, it's been a long time since I broke my arm, but the tension it takes to hold the crochet hook was just so painful that I couldn't do it.

Anyway, point is, I've missed croceheting and I'm thrilled to be making something.  And out of cotton, which is a stiff yarn to work.  Woo!

I hope you find something that thrills you today!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

True North

I had an interesting childhood and somewhere along the way I lost touch with my true north, my real self, my happiness. Since I had no idea who I was, I tried being someone else's ideal, someone else's perfect. Perfect mother, perfect wife, perfect sister, perfect employee, perfect friend. Perfection... you can't attain it. Or should I say you can't sustain it. But more importantly why would you want to? To be without flaws? How boring.

I spent quite some time trying to be perfect. More than most, possibly, less than others, certainly, but too long in my opinion. Then, my mom died and everything in my world felt different, looked different. I felt orphaned. Yes, I know how that sounds because when I heard someone else say it many years ago, I thought it too. But it's true. No matter your age when your parent(s) pass you do feel orphaned. In my case, it was only my mom who raised me and it was a crushing loss. I wasn't in tune with myself before she passed and after, the grief was so intense I simply couldn't do anything more than survive.

Thankfully, life continues on even when you can't see or appreciate it.  And then grief relents. It was then I began trying to find me. Well, okay initially I was trying to find my mom - in friends, in strangers, in books, in groups, in activities, in projects, until I was bone weary. As I reached the point of exhaustion, I began to hear the little voice inside telling me that I was okay, that I didn't need this group or this position and I would still be okay. As the extra things began to fall away, a funny thing happened... I did find me, my inner voice, my true north. I am grateful each and every day for journey I'm on. Every day I find happiness and that's pretty good.

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
 Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” ― Robert Frost

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Granite Yard

Today, sore throat, husky voice, but no fever, we wandered around a granite yard.  It was my first foray into such a place.  I've always had laminate tops up til now.  But we are considering all our choices.  We've eliminated concrete, bamboo, butcher block, tile, marble and man-made stone products.

There were more than 100 different types of granite at this place and at least one in every color, seemingly.  It was really fun, interesting, and filled with possibilities... Are we Black Galaxy, which looks like the stars racing towards a space ship in the movies?  Are we White Ice, which is white and gray and filled with sparkles?  Are we UbaTuba? Star Beach?  Well you get the idea.

We had a great time and walked miles and miles looking, re-looking, whittling down, taking pictures.  I recommend it, if you, like me, get a little giddy when it comes to remodeling.  I'm a junkie, so feel free to ignore my ravings.

We did not make any decisions today, or I guess we did in that we both like the granite and it is in the final pool for counter top.  I have my favorite, of course.  But you'll just have to wait to see which way we go.   

Song writers are some of our best poets and today I'm going to leave you with a snippet of one of my favorites, Bruce Springsteen:
Rain and storm and dark skies, Well now they don’t mean a thing 
If you got a girl that loves you, And who wants to wear your ring 
So c’mon mister trouble, We’ll make it through you somehow 
We’ll fill this house with all the love, All that heaven will allow 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sore Throat - Kitchen Accents

Okay, I'm not feeling my best. Boo.  I am rarely sick and yet, this is the second time in two months I've been under the weather.  Boo.

Well enough whining about that.

Check out these beauties...  They are the inspiration for the color scheme of the newly refreshed kitchen. Which by the way still needs the cork floor, have I mentioned that before?  We kept the kitchen neutral so we can play with color in the accessories and these are speaking to us.

See the brown crock?  My fantastic sons brought that home the other day for no reason other than they knew I would like it.  Adorable.  ♥ love them ♥

I'm going to add some splashes of orange into the mix, because I like the zing.

I love the contrast of the three vessels, they are so different from each other, but are all containers.  It's like a family, we are all different, yet share common bonds.

So what's left to do in the kitchen...  Well for this go around, there are towels to purchased, shelves to be hung and cork floor to be laid.  Oh, and a light over the stove.

For the next go around, we are going to replace the countertop and put in a backsplash.

Now for something to fix this sore throat...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pioneer of the Future

Climbing Rose Bush
"Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future."  
— Deepak Chopra

I found this quote today and wanted to share.  Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Love to my resident hero

We live in the country.  Not isolation, but definitely rural.  We are surrounded by a working farm, though we aren't farmers.  Last night/this morning our power went out.  Big snow + no power = cold pretty quick.  You either need a generator or an alternate heat source.  Thank goodness we have a generator and a resident hero ♥ who makes it all work.  Love, love, love my hubby.

This picture is out my back door.  Yesterday there was no snow.  Nada.  Zippo!  Gotta love Mother Nature!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Clearing out and feeling Hap-Hap-Happier

Well, I have the fever, now...  Darn kitchen refresh.  We cleared out the dreaded corner cabinet.  It was filled with assorted plastics, pots, glassware and what nots.  It was always a mess and you would spend more than a ridiculous amount of time trying to find what you were looking for.  So, we pulled it all out and I went through it right then and there, pitching as I went.   In the end, after waiting for some organizing racks to arrive, we now have an organized cabinet that holds everything we kept and few other things.   It was fantastic.  Very freeing.  Thrilling, even.

The kitchen is 90% done.  We are thinking about some shelves and are living with it for a week or two just to be sure before we go any further. Because we took so much out of there, and put back so little, we need to adjust and see how it works for us before we do anything as permanent as shelving.  So, we are in a holding pattern, but Friday while I home during the day, I was just hap-hap-happy.  Because that room is so tidy, so organized and so fresh, I felt happier in every room in the house.

I've definitely have the fever.  Did I mention how freeing it was?  And thrilling?  Well it is.  Actually I'm an excellent 'pitcher'.  Through a series of events in my life I learned that things just aren't that important.   It's just stuff and therefore is less important than any person, including you.  Holding on to stuff because "you have to", "it was a gift", "it was expensive" "you've always had it", are all negative, guilt riddled reasons.  You and your spirit are more valuable than anything you might find in a cupboard, drawer or closet.

Please understand, I like stuff and have plenty of it.  I just think that when that stuff no longer works for you, it is working against you and it has to go.  Whether it's a spatula or 100 year old china.  Besides, we give the unbroken stuff away and it always makes someone else's day.  It's a win-win.

Even though I'm an excellent pitcher, I'm married to an excellent keeper.  So we've accumulated some stuff and it's time for a thorough thinning out.  Especially in this Year of Light!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Tidy Home Tips

The irrepressible Pooh.  
Yesterday as part of the kitchen project, which is still carrying on...  I organized all the drawers in the kitchen.  As I was going through and pitching the things without a purpose or that have been there, unused, for a while, I started thinking about some tidy home tips I've learned over the years that were and are very helpful to me. Most of which are total habit for me now, and I don't even realize I'm doing them.  Maybe they will help you!

A million years ago, when I was a stay at home mom, I belonged to a cleaning & organizing list.  I know, I know. It's just a little crazy, but when the kids were in school, I found myself getting a little bored.  Not being a shopper, and running out of sewing/knitting/crochet projects, I was a little bored.  Stick with me though...

Anyway, while participating in this list, another mom shared a tip from her Grandmother:  clean one drawer every day and your home will always be tidy.  I know it sounds impossible, but it really does work.  Substitute, shelf or table top for drawer and you begin to see what she meant. One drawer or shelf is not overwhelming and organizing it does not take forever.  What you end up doing to creating a place to put the things that come into your home on a regular basis and getting rid of things that are just sitting in a junk drawer.  I can't say I do one every day, because usually when I do a cabinet or closet now, I do the whole thing which average 3-5 shelves or drawers.

Advice from the Fly Lady (is she still out there?):  Keep your kitchen sink clean.  I swear this works.  I started doing it 12 or 13 years ago and every single time the kitchen sink fills up, the counter does, too.  To begin, clear everything out of the sink by washing and putting away or stacking in the dishwasher.  When it's empty, clean it like there's no tomorrow.  Mine is stainless steel and a little baking soda and vinegar bring out its luster.  Get it good and clean, including the faucet, sprayer and soap dispenser, if you have it.  Then dry it out/off.  Make it all as clean and shiny as possible.  Now that it's clean, keep it that way.  After each time you use it, scrub it down and dry it.  It will only take seconds after you've done the initial clean.  I swear this works.  Just focus on keeping the sink empty, clean and shiny.  What happens, I think, is a mental shift.  Because there is one sparkly clean spot, you really don't want to set down a mess next to it, so instead whatever is coming in finds a home.

Do one load of laundry every day.  This is my tip.  Piles of laundry, clean or dirty, create a sense of dishevelment that no amount of cleaning can offset.  But I do not enjoy doing laundry, so one load a day was my answer.  It keeps the laundry from piling up, yet doesn't tie me down.  One load a day enabled me to work in washing the curtains, rugs and all the regular stuff for my family of 4.  We occasionally did more than one, but we also occasionally skipped a day.  One load a day is easily accomplished around dinner, sports practice, bed times.  Since you are only doing one, you can fold it and put it away, which keeps the laundry area tidy, too.  Most laundry tasks take 5 minutes or less.  Gathering & Loading 5 minutes.  Switching to dryer, 1 minute.  Folding, 5 minutes (unless it whites 8 mins or towels 3 minutes).  Putting away, 3 minutes.  Hang everything you can.  This is my husbands tip and it's a total winner.  We hang everything we can straight from the dryer.  It eliminates most wrinkles, so very little ironing.

By the way, organizing the kitchen drawers, of which there are 7, took less than 10 minutes because most of the drawers I open, look at and close, as they are already organized.

These three once a day tips have gotten me pretty far.  They keep the house tidy enough for drop in visitors because they touch the three biggies:  Laundry, kitchen and clutter.  Mind you it doesn't mean the whole house is clean and I'm not trying to say these are the only things I do.  I'm not a born cleaner, if there is such a thing, but I live and function better in tidy.  When I was looking for a way to balance a need for clean and a vibrant, active family, I found these three things work for me.  I hope you find something that will work for you.

PS.  I actually do a 4th thing which I didn't realize until re-reading this post.  I give the bathroom a "whip 'round" nearly every day.  I use wash cloths in place of hand towels in my bathroom, because I like the size better.  Every morning after I put in my contacts, I use the wash cloth to wipe down the mirror, sink and faucet.  Then I use it to wipe down the toilet tank, seat, lid and rim, spraying with Apple Cider Vinegar as I go (have I mentioned my love affair with vinegar as a cleaning agent?).  Then I put that cloth in the laundry, wash my hands and set out a fresh wash cloth.  It literally takes less than 2 minutes and the bathroom is always pretty.  For the guest bath, where hand towels are use, I keep a stash of wash cloths so I can do the same thing when I happen to be in there, which really isn't every day.

PPS.  What sorts of things do you do?  I learn the most amazing things from other people, so please share!

PPPS.  The picture has nothing to do with the post.  I took some pictures of the drawers, but seriously they were not exciting.  So, I've included one of my favorite, makes me smile every time, classic Pooh moments.  AA Milne was a genius and the simple drawings from the original books are perfection.  ♥ Pooh