Friday, March 24, 2017

Joy in the Ordinary

Look around, really look around and you will find joy... joy in the everyday... joy in the ordinary things.

Bringing some Spring indoors. 
 Creating a shelter out of fallen branches. She said a boat left her on an island and she was surviving. Oh how I love her imagination!
 "Planting" items for a science fair project on decomposition. 
 Chuck surprised us one morning by leaving donuts on the counter before he headed off to work. I prettied them up to make them even more special. 
The best sink cleaner. Ever. I love how she will say your sink is dirtry, would you like me to clean it. You'd be crazy to say no to that!
 Leftover breakfast muffins. Just because they look super cute stored in a glass jar. *smile*
 Saturday will be a girls day as Chuck is working.  His overtime is suppose to end this weekend. He isn't hopeful as it's still busy. He's had OT on every check this year and in the last four weeks he has worked close to an additional 20 hours each week!  The extra money is nice, but my guy could use some rest.

A quick trip will be made the grocery store to stock up on a sale item and then we are heading over to my parents to plant potatoes.  Oh, what an exciting life we lead!  Enjoy your weekend. 

May your day be filled with joy in the journey! 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Handmade vs Kitchen Aid

Megan loves to make butter. I will often find heavy whipping cream added to my shopping list. :) I bought some recently and Megan was delighted to make butter. She got a jar and got busy. While she was shaking, shaking and shaking some more I decided to make some myself.
I poured the rest of the whipping cream into the Kitchen Aid and let it do its thing.

It took the mixer longer before the whipped cream turned back into a liquid. Megan finished her butter well before the mixer. Once we poured them out we noticed that butter made in the mixer was firmer. Had Megan continued to mix the butter in jar longer it might have become firmer also. We'll have to test that another time.
I have heard many times "I can't do that. I don't have the right equipment."  Our grandmother and great-grandmothers made most things from scratch without fancy gadets. We can do it too! Don't let the fact that you don't have a noodle maker or a fancy Kitchen Aid mixer stop you from trying. Sure those things might make it easier, but anything worth having is worth the work it takes to get it. Roll up your sleeves and try. You'll never know what you might be able to do if you never make an attempt. Okay, that's my pep talk for the day! *smile*

Megan tired the buttermilk for the first time. She stated they are "both equally disgusting!" That made me laugh and laugh. 

Our conclusion is that making butter either way will work just fine. It is certainly a little more labor intensive to make it in a jar.

Regardless of the method chosen you will end up with the same result... delicious tasting butter!

May your day be filled with joy in the journey! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Tuesday Tackle #7

Cleaning the oven has been on my list for far too long. The day had come to tackle that beast. No pictures before I ran the cleaning cycle. No way, no how, was I going to air that little bit of dirty laundry. *smile* This is the door after the cleaning cycle ran. 
I began my cleaning with the door. It has been bad for a long time. Even with regular cleaning it wasn't clean inside of the glass. After almost 16 years of constant use it needed more then the normal self clean and wipe down. It was really hard to get good pictures. Can you see the yuck on the door glass? This is after I had cleaned it. 
We looked at some sites about cleaning between the glass and Chuck thought we could handle it. The first thing to do was to take off the door. It wasn't hard. In fact this made cleaning the inside of the oven so much easier. I said I felt like Hansel and Gretel with my head stuck in the oven while cleaning! 
A couple of screws were removed and the front of the door came off. There are four pieces of glass: the front door, a piece that you can remove and then a double pane that is the inside of the door. 
After the glass was clean everything was re-assembled. 
Look how well the glass cleaned up. 
I am very happy with the results. 
Now that we know how easy this easy we won't wait 15+ years to tackle this if the need arises.

What projects have you tackled in the last week? Tune in next Tuesday to see what homemaking debt I tackle. 

May your day be filled with joy in the journey! 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Cooking without an Oven

It seems like it's going to be one of those years where things break. I could get upset and pout and say "Why does this keep happening to us?" Nope, I'm just going to keep rolling on with this great life I've been given.

After blowing the budget on eating out I had been great at cooking and even sticking to my menu. Enter a Friday evening. I was prepared. I hit the grocery store that morning and was meeting up in the afternoon with my parents and aunt. I knew the day was going to slip away so I planned ahead and whipped up a homemade pizza to pop into the oven.

All was going well until I keep checking it and the cheese was barely melted. In a little longer and still it wasn't done. That is when I called in Chuck and we realized that even though the oven was heating it wasn't heating to the set temperature.

By this time it's almost 7pm. We are all hungry and I might have been getting to the point of grumpy. We hopped into the van and headed out for Chick-fil-A. Now I love myself some Chickie Lay! It was delicious and we enjoyed ourselves. Although I wasn't happy that once again we were blowing the budget.

Saturday Chuck did some trouble shooting. Our stove is almost 16 years old so we knew it wouldn't be smart to put a ton of money into it. After some other large expenses (hello septic!) we didn't want to buy a new stove! Thankfully Chuck tinkered around and found that it could be repaired with a part that is under $30. Yes, we'll take that!

He called to make sure the appliance part store had the part and headed out to get it. He arrive there at 1:15. Can you guess what time they closed? If you said 1 o'clock you are the winner!!

I was able to pick the part up Monday. Due to all of his overtime, Chuck didn't have time to get to this right away. The menu had already been made for the week and I didn't feel like changing it. The solution/challenge was for me to figure out how to stick to my menu without an oven.

Sunday beef stew and homemade bread was on the menu.  Since the stove top works there wasn't a problem making the stew. Now the bread was another issue. I did a little research and decided to try making bread in the slow cooker.
Sadly, I don't recommend this recipe. I found it to be heavy. I do love the idea and it is something I might play with in the future.  We'll see. 

Tuesday lasagna, salad and garlic bread was on the menu. Hmm... now this could be a problem.  I had never made lasagna in the slow cooker, but why not?
This is where I got the idea, although I didn't use her recipe.  I used my own recipe. I sprayed the crock pot with cooking spray and it made clean up super easy.  She suggested you cook it 5-6 hours. I found that it was ready at 5 hours.

I imagine I will use the oven to bake it most often. The reason for that is that when you bake it you remove it from the oven and allow it to set before you cut and serve. In the crock pot that wasn't possible so it fell apart when I plated it. The taste was great.  The ease was great. I can see myself doing this in the summer.  I won't have to heat up the house by turning on the oven and I can throw it all together before we head out for an afternoon of swimming. This is a keeper!

As for the bread I pulled out my trusty griddle and grilled it. I would be fine without the bread, but when I mentioned that to hubby you would have thought I was suggesting something criminal. *smile*
Cubed steak was on the menu for Thursday evening. I generally cook it slowly in the oven. Not happening this week. Can you guess how I cooked this. Yup, the slow cooker.
Very, very good. Super tender and flavorful. Both Chuck and I agree that this will be the go to method for making cubed steak.

I'm happy to report that the oven has been repaired and is back in service. However, it was good to challenge myself and to know that no matter the circumstances I can continue to serve a hot, hearty meal to my family.

When life gives us a lemon lets not make a pucker face. Instead take that lemon and create lemonade, lemon custard, and lemon cake!

May your day be filled with joy in the journey!

Friday, March 17, 2017

I'm Back

First off I do want to apologize that my blog had taken on a negative feel. That is not what I want for this space nor for my life.  Many of you have sent me encouraging comments and e-mail. I wasn't able to get back with many of you, but I do want you know that I read them all and it was extremely helpful to have your support. A break was just what the doctor ordered. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time away.

I will let you in on a secret... I didn't give blogs up completely. No, just couldn't do it. I have been taking a peek here and there in the evenings. Besides peeking at some blogs I spent some time giving the blog a fresh look.

I also cleaned up my blog roll. I removed blogs that weren't enhancing the joy in the journey. It was hard as some of them had been on my blog roll since the beginning. As many of you know, for some, blogging has changed and become more about business and making money then sharing. Now I am not saying having an ad to generate a little money or a review here and there isn't okay. I think you all have run across the little blog with humble beginnings that changes to the point that you can no longer recognize what first drew you there.

As for my Facebook account. I wasn't one to post often but I couldn't stop looking at it. I didn't realize what an addiction it had become. Whenever I went to peek at blogs or do banking I always pulled up Facebook. Sure I enjoy seeing pictures of my friends lives and their kids. I also liked to keep up with my far away cousins. The bad thing is that it's so much more then that. It has become a place to post negative memes and non face to face contact allows many to behave in an unkind manner. Guess what I did?  I logged off and haven't been back on. It was hard at first, but now it's sooo freeing.

I spent the first week of my break puttering around my home. I did a general tidy to establish good homemaking habits again. I am working on a new schedule to keep my home clean and tidy. We enjoy living in our home so I know it will never be picture perfect. At least not for long!

I have been reading, resting and decompressing. Many times the verse "Be still" has floated though my mind.

The curriculum for the next school year arrived. It was like Christmas morning opening those boxes! Things were sorted and moved so there would be a new area to keep our homeschool items. I am having a hard time keeping Megan out of it all!
The second week was spent painting, cleaning and helping my niece and her husband move into their new home.
I snuck over the day they were closing and left a planter and sign on their front porch.

Megan has two weeks off of school for Spring Break. I can't wait to pick her up and start our break and to sleep in. Did I mention sleep in? I am not a natural morning person.

I am thankful I listened when my mind, heart and body was screaming that I needed to retreat, regroup and rest.  Life will always have a trial of some sort and it has been good to take a deep breath and give thanks for how faithful God has been to us. I am feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever comes my way. I'm glad to be back and certainly thankful for all of your support. :)

May your day be filled with joy in the journey!

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Chit Chat & Break Time

Well, hello, I hope this finds you well. It is a beautiful Saturday here. Although chilly the sun is shinning. Chuck is working, Megan is with my parents going to my sisters' house and I am watching Love's Abiding Joy. A slight break before I tackle the kitchen.

I peeked at the garden one day this week and am delighted to see things sprouting. The picture is spinach. This will be the first time I have ever grown it. Megan is excited as she likes to take the leaves and wrap things up inside like mini burittos. :) 
Our septic issue is finally resolved. This machine injected air into the lines and blew out all of yuck which was then sucked out of the lines. We came in under our $5000 budget and were told they would see us in two years. At that time they will pump the tank and make sure things are working properly.  We are certainly praising the outcome! 
This is the current state of the van. Yikes! Chuck rolled the window down and when he tried to roll it back up it made a terrible sound. It will no longer roll up. 
A new part has been ordered and I am praying that Chuck will be able to repair it before Monday morning. 

Megan is such a big help. Chuck cut some branches off of a dead tree. (The one that sent him to the ER with an eye abrasion.) Megan helped him load it into the truck for a guy at work. 
 Chuck is working a ton. He is leaving the house between 5-5:30 each morning and not returning until 5 or later. He has been pulling some Saturdays also.  Long days, stress from work and then you add on things such as the van window and my guy is feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders.
 When life is super busy or I feel stress I tend to become overwhelmed and I know it's time for me to back off and slow things down. 
School is something that has been causing me to feel overwhelmed. We aren't involved in the drama directly that caused two of the sixth grade girls to abruptly withdraw. It has effected Megan because she was close to them. She misses them terribly.  She climbed in bed with me the other night and asked if I would withdraw her from school. Sigh. 

Between reading for a book report, memorizing for the speech meet, working on the science fair and the normal homework plus the drama aspect it is about to do me in. I feel like we have very little time for family. It is work, work, work for school. I know school is important but don't feel it should take so much of our evenings and weekends.  We are all ready for this school year to end and new chapter to begin. 

I woke up this morning to a messy house, the knowledge that we had take out or dined out three times last week and knew that I needed to make some changes. I feel like things are out of focus. 
 First of all I need to guide Megan to handle the unpleasant things at school and to meet her deadlines. I also need to focus on my home. As a homemaker we shouldn't be eating dinner out three times a week.  Chuck deserves to come home to a tidy home and dinner on the table, especially since work is stressful for him. 

Step one is a break from blogging and other social media. I will miss my little spot on the web, but I know that those in my little home are my top priority. It could be one week, 
 two, or maybe longer.  Honestly as long as it takes to feel like things are back in focus and there is joy in the journey!  

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Tuesday Tackle #6

Maybe one of these weeks I will get more posted then The Tuesday Tackle. Maybe... 

 The deep clean of the bathroom was finished when I scrubbed the floor.
Our great-grandmothers and grandmothers knew what they were doing when they hand scrubbed their floors. Mops and swiffers can't compare to the elbow grease of hand scrubbing. 

Dresser drawers and bedroom closets were cleaned out. There was a donate pile, throw out pile and mending pile. 
List were made of what Chuck and I need for the upcoming season. I won't know about Megan until the clothes from last year are pulled and out and tried on. 

The overall theme for the week was clean it out, move it out. 
Once finished everything to donate was loaded up and taken to the thrift store. It feels good to get stuff that no longer meets are needs out of here. As Laura says I am making a real estate investment by  removing excess from my home. 

What projects have you tackled in the last week? Tune in next Tuesday to see what homemaking debt I tackle. 

May your day be filled with joy in the journey!