Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Getting ready for V-day...

For the last couple years, we've had a Valentines' Party with some friends from our homeschool group...and as it approaches, I'm thinking through the details, via Pinterest, of course!

As always, the links below the picture takes you to my pin on my "Valentine's Day" board...and you can click through the picture there to find the original source!

Decor ideas:

Craft ideas:


(...still in search of some "boy crafts" though!)

Ideas for Valentines:


And of course, food:




After all, who doesn't love pizza? And heart shaped pepperoni? Mmmm.

Please share valentines ideas that you might be planning!!!

Friday, January 27, 2012


I'm so glad...

that today Brent returns from a week away in Mississippi.

(this was taken when we dropped him off on Sunday!)

I'm thankful...

that Mom has been able to be with us while he was gone!

I'm feeling...

a little bit sleepy.

I'm hoping...

that the cold front moving in will bring snow. (And there's a LOT of wishful thinking there, given the blaring sun across the 10 day forecast!)

I'm looking forward...

to using this new pan that arrived today! (And excited about the great deal on it right now!)

I'm a bit tired...

of keeping the house "ready-to-show". And it's been just over one week so far. But I must say, it's nice to have the kiddos more eager to pitch in and help. (I think they kind of think it's a game of sorts.)

I'm excited...

about the possibilities for where our AF journey will next take us!

I'm craving...

an Earl Grey Latte and a nap.

I can't wait...

until this arrives in theaters! (What can I say? I love romantic dramas!)

I am...

seven blog posts away from 500 posts.  Wow.  I think a giveaway of sorts is in order! What do you think?

I hope...

that you all have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

French Market Stew

I keep checking my recipe archives to see if I have shared this soup recipe with you.  

I can't believe it's not there.

I received a bag of dry beans and this recipe from a lady that went to my church in college.  The year I graduated, there were four of us girls from the church who were getting married that summer, so the church hosted a shower for all of us.  The ladies of the church (and the college girls) filled a laundry basket full of wonderful recipes and kitchen utensils for each one of us.  (I still have the laundry basket too!)  

This recipe has proved to be a family favorite...I make it at least twice a month throughout the winter months...and it makes such a large quantity that you can either freeze half for another meal, or eat soup for lunch all week.  It is excellent with fresh bread and a salad. 

French Market Stew

Bean Mix, dry (any brand with 12-15 bean varieties is fine)
2 Tbsp. salt
4 hamhocks
4 bay leaves
1 tsp. thyme
1 quart canned whole tomatoes
7-8 chicken thighs
2 large onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. hot sauce (optional)
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 lb. smoked sausage, cooked and sliced bite-sized

1. Wash bean mix and drain. Place beans in a 5 quart dutch oven and cover with water and 2 Tbsp. salt. Soak overnight.

2. Drain and add 3 quarts of water, hamhocks, bay leaves, and thyme.  Simmer covered for 3 hours.

3. Add tomatoes, onions, garlic, salt, sauce, and red pepper flakes.  Simmer 90 minutes uncovered.

4. Add chicken and sausage. Simmer until chicken is tender, 30-40 minutes.

What is your favorite winter soup?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Simply Lovely, No. 10

Three simple oranges on an old, lovely tray.
A taste of summer in winter.
Hope your winter day is full of sunshine.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Remember this?

I finished it a little over a week ago.  It was a fun project to work on...and I'm so excited that I finished it so soon after December. Usually it takes me so much longer.

I'm still planning on adding something to the binder rings to soften them a bit...but I loved using this vintage book and Marcy Penner's kit.  Having a good number of prebuilt pages really helped me stay on top of this project.

I thought I'd share a couple of favorite pages :)

December 1: Christmas coffee

December 3: Nathanael's belated birthday party :)

December 6: First snow day

December 12: new Christmas cd

December 16: My kiddos meet The Muppets :) (There's an inside theatre pic and journaling under the muppet picture.)

December 20: Christmas crafts and special gifts from family

(a close up of that little pocket)

Christmas Day :)

December 28: ordinary, wonderful days

New Year's Eve: love that I captured that laugh.

Glad this is done...but I'll be excited to begin again in December!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Getting Organized

Organizing always seems to be on my list in January.  And never so much as this year...(except maybe January of 2008 when we were moving to OK and living out of a few carefully packed suitcases & bins for 4.5 months!)

You see, sometime this week, there will be a For Sale sign in our yard...and so we have been in a flurry of cleaning & finishing projects & organizing!  So far, my big organizing projects have been tackled (the linen closet and the food half of the pantry), but there are still some areas I'd like to focus on.

And as always, Pinterest is a great source for this.

I have dreams of my pantry looking like this...but I have to wonder how long all that glass would last :) I wonder if anyone makes acrylic containers in this style...

One area that has a major need of organization is our office closet, which is home to SO much. Crafting stuff. Stationary. Photos. Gift wrap. I saw this idea in a BHG magazine a while back...and needed to pin it (so I could throw away the magazine!) I love how it looks and can't wait to find an organizer to implement it!

I currently have my collection of scarves on a multiple pants hanger, but I think this might be easier. (The picture below actually shows a collection of tights, but I think it would be perfect for scarves too.)

While our game collection is behind closed furniture doors (that no prospective home buyers will probably open), I'd like to have it organized for when we move. (Which by the way, we don't know exactly when or where yet.)  I love this idea for cards. So much easier for little hands than those cardboards packages they come in.

This looks like a great checklist (though I may do more than one a day!)


And those minutes between a realtor's call and having to leave the house?  I'm thinking a last minute tidy-up-the-house game will help the kids to be a big help.  This idea looks great:


 And so does this next one.


And as for organizing in the future, I love the idea of hidden laundry baskets.  Maybe that might prevent dress-up clothes and normal clothes from getting mixed up in the closet!

Keeping all paint samples in one easy-to-find spot would make touch-ups much easier.


And I love the idea of a large garbage can in our homeschool room/office. Or as a stuffed animal organizer in a playroom. Or for outdoor toys on the porch or in the garage.  Lots of options for this one. (And while they look SO enormous in the trash can aisle at Lowe's, you can fit them in the backseat of a two-door Mustang.  Trust me, it's been done before. :)  )

Are you in the midst of organizing projects?  What great ideas do you have?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

12 on January Twelfth

I was inspired by seeing the "Take Twelve" challenge at Ella Publishing and decided I'd join along via Instagram.  The pictures above are as follows:

  1.  happy bright and early
  2.  all three at work on math
  3.  the "catch-all" basket in the living room
  4.  the kids body projects from CC last semester (Moved from their rooms to the entry closet. Hmmm.)
  5.  working on Project Life, week 1
  6.  Brent & Nathanael hard at work creating their TIE fighter
  7.  Maple Roasted Chicken & Sweet Potatoes (it smells and tastes delicious.)
  8.  my new favorite veggie: brussel sprouts
  9.  all about babies today
10.  King Arthur Flour delivery
11.  Nathanael (while listening to Brent read The Last Battle)
12.  The girls coloring (while listening to Brent read The Last Battle)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Something about January

There is something about this blustery month (even though today is honestly the first blustery day we've had in weeks...which is unheard of here in OK) that makes me want to curl up with a good book, a cup of hot tea, and a warm scone.

There is something about January that puts me in a scone-making mood.  Not just any favorite scone though...new scone recipes.  I was reading a journal from this time last year and saw an entry about making a new scone.

So here are two new-to-me scone recipes...and I hope they become new-to-you, because they are both delicious! And both are a little bit seasonal...so enjoy them soon!

Peppermint Stick Scones
original recipe from Alice's Tea Cup (This is a must-have cookbook. It's wonderful.)

3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup crushed Brach's peppermint candies
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, soda, powder, and salt.  Add the pieces of butter, and with clean hands, work the butter into the dry mixture until thoroughly incorporated...with the consistency of breadcrumbs..  Add 3/4 cup of the crushed peppermints and combine well.

3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the vanilla and buttermilk.  Combine the ingredients until all the dry mixture is wet but do not knead the dough.

4. Turn the mixture onto a floured surface and gather the dough together.  Divide the dough into two sections and shape each into a round disc, about 8 inches wide and and inch or so thick.  Cut each disc into 8-12 wedges, depending on the number and size of scones desired.

5. Place each wedge on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Brush the tops of each scone with heavy cream and sprinkle with the remaining crushed peppermint.

6. Bake the sones for about 12 minutes, until lightly browned.  Allow to cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  When you remove the scones from the parchment, the melted peppermint will form strings of sugar, and you will also have some scones with melted peppermint pooled beside them.  Allow the scones to cool completely and then easily break off the candy. (Removing the attached candy when it's still warm will also pull apart the scone.)

My recipe yielded 22-24 scones.  You can make them thicker (as the cookbook suggests) but I find this size to be plenty large!

(I definitely think you can still get away with Peppermint flavored things in January, don't you? The peppermint melts and becomes chewy inside the scone...it's just wonderful.)

As for this next scone, I found the recipe months ago on Pinterest.  And I've been waiting for Meyer Lemons to show up in my grocery store. Waiting and waiting. And then, the week after Christmas, they did.  Then I just had to wait for decent looking strawberries...and voila, may I present:

Strawberry Meyer Lemon Scones
original recipe from here (I altered a few instructions and the glaze recipe.)

4 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
zest of three Meyer Lemons
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut in half-inch pieces
2 large eggs
1/3 cup Meyer Lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup fresh strawberries, diced

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tsp Meyer lemon juice
2-3 tsp milk

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Zest the lemons and combine the sugar and zest in a small bowl.  Using your fingers, rub the sugar and zest together, to release the oils and fragrance of the lemons.

3. Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar & zest, and salt. Add the butter to the dry ingredients, and using your hands, work the butter into the flour mixture until the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.  In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Stir the liquids into the dry mixture until the dough is moist, but do not knead.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few times until the texture is uniform and all dry bits have been incorporated.

4. Press the dough into a large circle that is half an inch thick.  Sprinkle the diced strawberries on top, the roll the circle up into a tube shape.  Fold the tube into thirds. Cut the dough in half.  Press each half (one at a time) into a round disc that is a half-inch thick.  Use a 2-3 inch round cutter (or a drinking glass) to cut scones out of the dough.  Gather unused dough and repeat process. (With the last bit of dough, I simply shaped a round disc.)

5. Place each scone on the parchment and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden.  Allow scones to cool completely on a wire rack.

6. Meanwhile, stir together the lemon juice, and powdered sugar, adding milk a teaspoon at a time until the glaze reaches a pourable consistency.  Drizzle glaze over the scones when cool.

I found both scone recipes to be best enjoyed within the first 24 hours of baking...the peppermint scones become hard after 2-3 days...and the strawberry lemon ones become soft.  If they last that long, anyway!


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