Monday, October 31, 2011

31 Days Wrap Up!

Wow! Here is the last of 31 days of blogging through the month of October. I did it!!! It was fun, and not really a burden. I feel so good to have accomplished my goal, and look forward to continued blogging efforts. You can actually see a directory of all the posts from this month here.

October was a busy month for us, so I had a lot to blog about. My husband has also been working in the evenings, so I have had a little extra time for writing posts. As I mentioned before, I never lack for ideas, but my follow-through has not been there lately. This month I wrote more posts than I have written all year.

Family was my predominant topic this month. Jacob, our 8-year-old, had some medical tests (with good results) and a whole lot of teeth extracted, so I wrote quite a bit about him. Plus he was baptized this month, so that was pretty special. My mom, who lives in Arizona, came to visit for two weeks. She tries to come twice a year, and we always enjoy seeing her. This trip she was able to celebrate Jacob's baptism with us, and got to be the mystery reader for his class. We did have to say goodbye, though, after a great visit. I also enjoyed some special time with my sweet husband... seeing the movie Courageous, and having a "date" in the middle of chaperoning a middle school ministry event! I obviously need to devote a little more space to Abbie and Zac in the future, though.

Our church is a big part of our life. We are active in ministry, the kids are involved in activities, and we teach each week. Our church is not important to us for the sake of religion. Instead, it is our faith in Jesus Christ, our love for His Word, and our relationship with Him that we live for and rely upon. We are blessed to belong to a Bible-teaching church that provides us so many opportunities to grow, serve, and build community. We are so blessed by all the wonderful friends we have made in the past five years!

I had the chance the show off my creativity this month. I always love to be creative, whether it is an album project, making photo gifts for others, or putting together a raffle basket. I also get creative in the kitchen because I LOVE good food! This month I posted recipes for hummus, pumpkin cookies, and a layered quesadilla. I also feel like home management is another area where I can be creative to make our live run more smoothly, so this month I shared about packing lunches, collecting box tops, doing laundry, and my hiding place for my couponing deals!

It has been a full month, and I have enjoyed this little look back. I am going to keep on blogging!

{You can go here to get a taste of some of the others who took the 31 day challenge... and here to see a complete list of the over 700 participants! You will notice that I am #739 of 746 participants... and that most of the participants stuck to a theme during their 31 days. I was a rebel, and didn't. My goal was just to blog each day. I am happy to say I met my goal!!!}

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Laundry-- I love it!

Here is a post I have been meaning to right for a long time! I actually LOVE doing my family's laundry. Over the years, I have gotten into a routine that works for us.

I do laundry two or three days a week, sometimes four. I have baskets in each of my kids' closets for their dirty clothes. Whether or not they actually get the dirty clothes off their floor and into the basket is  constant issue. I have a 3-bag laundry sorter in my closet which I love. As Gil and I take off our clothes, they go into either the "lights" or "darks". The third bin in my sorter is for (dry) towels and washcloths, as well as items with stains that need special handling.

Mondays, I do laundry for Gil and I, usually just two loads. As soon as it comes out of the dryer, I take it upstairs and fold it on our bed, hanging all our shirts and pants in the closet, and putting away all folded items. It never piles up this way! Much of our laundry is hung... only underwear & socks and nightclothes are in drawers. My husband's t-shirts, jeans and sweats are folded and on shelves in our closet. One other day a week, or two, I will do an extra load or two of our clothes, as well as towels, sheets, and dishcloths, as needed.

One day a week I do my three kids' laundry. It works best if I have a regular day for it. They each bring down their basket, and then THEY sort into two piles, lights and darks. I can usually do just 2 loads... sometimes I need to do an extra load of darks.  After school, my oldest two put away their own clothes. I either put away my youngest's or have him help me. I hang all his shirts. My oldest son also hangs all his shirts. I am about to move my daughter over to hangers, too.

I like hanging as many clothes as possible because it is less folding, and less likely to get wrinkled and they sift through their drawers. {And I do hang our clothes in rainbow-color order!}

I love that my kids sort their laundry, because even though they don't have to do the laundry themselves, they are learning a valuable life skill. If they had to do their own laundry, they would know where to start.

I fold clothes on our bed because it gives me plenty of space on which to work. Also, I WILL make sure it is all put away in a timely manner so that my bedroom is back to looking pretty. This system works because I am also striving to get the laundry out of the dryer as soon as possible after the cycle is done. It also helps that I am only doing 2-3 loads of laundry on any given day. I fold the kid's laundry on my bed upstairs, as well, but instead of putting it away between loads, I pile it up until all is washed, dryed and folded.

I have also evolved into a system where each person's clothes has a specific "zone" on the bed where I place them as I fold them. I can toss underwear, socks, jeans, and nightclothes into the respective child's zone on the bed as I empty the clean laundry basket. As I come to a shirt, I can smooth it out and lay it in either Zachary's, Abbie's, or Jacob's shirt spot. Once the laundry basket is empty, I go back and fold each child's folding laundry. Years ago, in business school, we studied about efficiency... I find that it really is faster if I fold a bunch of socks all at once, then a pile of undershirts. Truly, it takes me just about 10 minutes to fold a load of laundry.

The best part is that I think about my family as I do their laundry. I love serving them this way. And every item of clothing is a reminder for me to take time to pray for each of them, which I do as I fold their clothes. I love doing my family's laundry!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


To delight
from despair,
in the span
of a prayer.

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
~Psalm 4:1 {ESV}

Friday, October 28, 2011

Beautiful Fall Day with my Boy!

Jacob is recovering beautifully from his teeth extraction earlier this week. Today, he went back to school, and even got to give a report on his adventure to the class. Tonight, he is not even in pain, so that is good news. Yesterday, he and I had a great day together!

Since Jacob has had to eat softer food, he has had a lot of special treats in the past few days. His day started with a yummy omelet, per his request. Later in the morning, we were headed to Costco... and Jacob couldn't wait because he was going to get a frozen yogurt there!

BUT, it was such a gorgeous, warm, wonderful fall day, that I surprised Jacob with a slight detour and a stop at the park. We enjoyed the beautiful weather, and glorious colors of autumn as we took a long walk together.

My little photographer even got a picture of me! I was having a wonderful time soaking in the beauty and enjoying time with my sweet boy.

Our walk in the park was perfect for Jacob to work off some of the excess energy he has had from being home and recovering for three days.

And Jacob thought it was especially cool to open up acorns to see what was inside! I am very thankful that my sweet boy is doing so well.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Here is my scrapbooking & all-things-photo "store", right in my dining room.... wonder what those boxes on the left hold????
Hey, it's my secret stash of grocery deals {$0.25 bags of Goldfish!}!!! Got to hide the stockpile so that I can make it last!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Homemade Hummus Recipe

As I mentioned earlier this week, I pack 20 lunches in a typical week, five of which are for my husband. I try to give him an assortment of items so that he can pick and choose and eat whatever he is in the mood for. I also attempt to give him more healthy, satisfying options. One thing we have grown to love over the past couple of years is hummus! I love that it is full of protein and good fat, is filling, and tastes great with cut up veggies. If I have hummus on hand, it is a quick lunch for me at home. But Gil also enjoys it in his lunch, and it is one way I can get him to eat some vegetables during the day.

But hummus is kind of expensive, and a little container is gone pretty quickly. Since I only get it when I have coupons and/or hit a sale, it isn't something that is around the house all the time... that is until I started making my own!!! I had a dear friend mention on facebook that she made hummus, so I got her recipe. I tweaked it a little, and I change it up with some variations. Now we can have hummus on hand all the time!

To make hummus, you will need:

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans, drained (or one can, rinsed and drained)
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste, found near the peanut butter or in the international section)
1/4 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic
1 tb olive oil
1/2 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp pepper
water or cooking liquid from beans as needed

I have actually been cooking my own garbanzo beans in the crockpot. It is so easy, and they end up so soft and smooth! I check and rinse a cup of dry beans {I get organic from my health food store's bulk section}, then cover with 2" or so of water. Do not salt them! Just let them cook on low for about 6 hours or until soft and creamy. You can add a teaspoon of salt toward the end, once they are soft. Save the cooking water in case you need to use it to thin your hummus.

Back to the recipe! Add all ingredients, except the water or cooking liquid, to a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add additional liquid as needed, a little at a time, until hummus is desired consistency. That's it! Store in the refrigerator and serve with pita chips or cut up veggies. You can drizzle a little olive oil on top to make it pretty.

Now, just plain hummus is delicious! But we also like to change it up a bit for variety. One of my favorites is lemon hummus --- just add the zest of one lemon to the batch.

Fresh Basil is another yummy addition. It gives it a different, unexpected taste.

I also like to roast a head of garlic and add several cloves to a batch of hummus.

Here I made three batches of hummus, flavoring each differently. Since I have a small food processor, I did each batch individually, in succession. But it was easy and there was no need to clean the bowl in between batches. If you are serving it at a gathering, you would want to garnish it so that people know what flavor they are getting.

Hummus will keep well in the fridge for about two weeks. Between Gil and I, one batch of hummus can be gone in less than a week! Enjoy!

Click to print 5x7 recipe card

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Sweet Little Trooper!

Jacob, less 6 teeth

I am so glad that my sweet little boy is feeling better after having SIX teeth pulled this morning! This afternoon he was his sweet, happy, playful self. I was happy to hug him and get this picture taken, so thankful that he is feeling better!

Yesterday, Gil came home early from work and took us all out for pizza! He wanted to spend some extra time with Jacob before his oral surgery this morning, and give him a special meal. 

We all enjoyed the special treat and family time!

Jacob always loves having extra time with Daddy! Overall, he was feeling ok with what was coming up today.

This morning, on the way to the oral surgeon's, Jacob was feeling pretty good. He actually said he was excited, because later he would get to eat ramen noodles! My brave little guy also said that he was ok with having to get an IV, if that was required. Of course, he was relieved to learn that no IV was necessary! I was also very, very glad that Gil took today off work, so he could be with us. So was Jacob.

The doctor told Jacob he would look like a walrus after the surgery... I guess he was right! They took Jacob back at 9:28am, and at 9:57am the doctor came out to tell us that everything had went perfectly and that Jacob is a model patient! A few minutes later, a nurse came to bring us back to Jacob. He had been under general anesthesia for the extractions, so he doesn't remember anything but the "strawberry flavor" of what he inhaled and everything going black.

Jacob did remember that the doctor had "prescribed" a milkshake immediately following surgery. I asked him what flavor he would like, and the nurse asked what was his favorite flavor of milkshake... he said he didn't know because he has never had a milkshake before! I said, "Oh, you have only tasted your brother or sister's?" We were laughing so much, and the nurses were all giggling in the background. I said, "What a deprived child we have here, who has never had his very own milkshake!"

Gil brought the car around and the nurse wheeled Jacob out. Apparently, this was a big deal, because later on the phone he told Grama all about how he got to ride in a wheelchair!

It was so sweet to see Gil pick up his baby boy to put him in the car. Jacob was capable of walking, but Daddy was taking extra good care of him!!!

I just love how Gil is so tender with our kids. I love that side of him!!!

We did run through the drive-through and pick up a milkshake, but it was a little while before Jacob felt like having any. He had a rough trip home and the first couple hours were pretty tough. But he soldiered through, watching tv on the computer with Daddy, ice packs on his face, while I went to get his prescription filled.

We were told that he would pretty much sleep all day. Nope. After taking his pain medicine, he did finally nap for about 10 minutes. But once the medication took effect, he popped up, sounding chipper, and said, "I feel GREAT!" From then on he was a lot better, and enjoyed watching cartoons on the computer for a couple of hours.

And for some reason, I went on a major cooking spree while he was resting on the couch. Once Jacob was settled, I made sausage, mushroom, & pepper pasta sauce, a big pan of homemade mac & cheese, and hummus! I guess I had a lot of nervous energy to expend, and my love language is food!!!

This afternoon, Jacob actually did some of his homework and enjoyed playing with a little buddy. Jacob enjoyed snacking on his milkshake throughout the day, eating applesauce, and chowing down on mac & cheese for dinner. I am so glad he is feeling better. We have been blessed with many notes and calls of friends who have been praying for our sweet Jacob. We are so appreciative!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Packing Lunches Made Easy!

Packing school lunches everyday for my 3 kids, plus my husband can be time consuming, day after day. Pre-packaged items would be faster and easier, but can be expensive and not as nutritious. Each week I am packing 20 lunches --- I want it to be as easy as possible!

I often get the kids involved in helping me prep a week's worth of our own pre-packaged items. I give them recycled applesauce cups to use to measure portion size, and we fill small zip snack-size bags with pretzels, gold fish, baby carrots, grapes, cheese cubes, lunch meat, etc.
We fill up a giant, recycled pretzel container in the cupboard with the bags of pretzels and gold fish, making them easy to grab as lunches are packed. {It is very clear that this container is for lunches only!! Not for general snacking. We have other containers for snacks.} Other lunch items are kept together in the fridge, usually in our bottom drawer.

In addition, I bake double batches of healthy treats like banana bread, and cookies or brownies with whole wheat flour, and wrap them up into individual portions and freeze in a large zip bag. Each morning I pull out their frozen treat for their lunch box. It will be thawed by lunch time, and nearly as fresh as the day I baked it.

Having everything pre-portioned and ready to go makes my morning routine quick and smooth, and helps me give my kids and husband healthy lunches every day! What tips do you have to make lunches easy and healthy?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Icing Recipe

Wednesday was kind of a dreary, rainy day. It was the perfect time to make these yummy Pumpkin Cookies for an afterschool treat! 

If you have a can of pumpkin on hand, it is a really easy recipe!

For Cookies: 
2 cups sugar
1 15oz can pumpkin
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup butter (I used 1/2 cup butter, and 1/2 cup coconut oil)
4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Mix first 3 ingredients. Sift together dry ingredients and add to pumpkin mixture. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Spread with yummy, irresistable Browned Butter icing when cool.

For Icing: 
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp sea salt
1-4 tb milk

Heat the butter in a pan, stirring until it is light brown. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. You can also add the salt now, or if you will remember, add a tiny sprinkle to the top of each cookie when iced instead! Gradually add milk, one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved. Frost cooled cookies.

Now, just try to resist eating more than two, or three, or five.... I couldn't! Since these cookies were all gone by yesterday, today I think I will make this autumn treat I shared last year!

Printable 5x7 Card {click & print}

Friday, October 21, 2011

Amazing Raffle Baskets

Tomorrow is the Fall Festival at Jacob's school. I signed up to be his class raffle basket coordinator for the second year in a row. My job was to put together a "Picture Perfect" themed basket for the big raffle.   Since my items wouldn't exactly fit into a basket, here is what I came up with....
Pegboard put together with ribbons, and with ribbons ready to hold the items! the great thing about it was that it would collapse for transporting.

And here is my "basket" all set up and ready to be wrapped in cellophane. It included a lot of fun items including an Everyday Display Board, Calendar Display Accents, Monkey Business Display Accents, and  a Simply Said Dad book. I also included a Quick Album (pages are already done!). I had a little bit more budget to use, so I had put a question out on Facebook to get some opinions. Because of the unanimous sentiments, I included the Daisy 12x12 File Mate to hold artwork, memorabilia, photos, or papers.
My great helpers!
I needed Zac to help me carry the pegboard into the school, so I brought all the kids with me when I set up my basket. I knew they would LOVE seeing all the cool baskets on display! Parents from each class make donations toward their class basket, so some of the baskets are really extravagant! Parents can buy tickets and put them in the box next to the basket(s) they want to win. It is a fun fundraiser.
My "basket" on display with the others!
Here are some of the amazing baskets on display...
Housecleaning basket

Tailgating basket

Baseball basket complete with Yankees tickets

Abbie's favorite basket... it had a sleepover theme

Thanksgiving extravaganza basket

Love this "Lego my Legos" basket!

"Have a Ball" basket

Pet themed basket... the stuffed puppy is a fun touch

I think Zac liked this one

Date Night basket... some nice restaurant gift cards in there!

I have a feeling that this one is going to be very popular

Lots of games for game nights

This one is for the guys

Another fun one

This one made me laugh


Notice how I had to add a pennant bunting to my basket? I love making these!!! I thought it would up the cuteness factor!
We won't be bringing any of these baskets home with us... I did resist the temptation to buy any raffle tickets! Not taking my wallet to the setup helped.
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