I’ve Moved! (my bloggy home, that is)

I have truly been bit by the blogging bug… yes, the same sweet little insect that I didn’t even know existed a year ago!  You have been so supportive and encouraging in the last three months, that I decided to expand the possibilities of this new hobby of mine.

I’ve moved to a new site.  Oh, and whenever I say “I’ve” and something techy (like moving to a new site) in the same sentence, I surely mean my creative and terrifically technically talented friends the Happy Housewife, the Happy Housewife’s Husband, and Joy, the master of all things font and color and style.

Please visit me (and help me set up housekeeping!) at my new address:  amysfinerthings.com

Let’s talk about the Finer Things!

Quirky Randomness

I’ve been tagged!  Twice!  One tag (from Kate) is to name seven random things about me, and the other (from Kim) is to confess five of my quirks.  Quirks, huh?  Hmmm… according to my insightful husband, I do have a few of those.   

In the interest of time and a lack of creativity (I don’t know if I can come up with TWELVE things to share about me!) I’m combining the two tags.  Here goes…

  1. I absolutely must shave my legs in the bathtub.  At night.  No shower shaving for me. 
  2. Even when I’m driving only a few blocks in Tiny-Town (which only happens at night or in bad weather… we usually walk wherever we need to go) I always wear my seat belt.  Always
  3. Though I didn’t think a thing of it in high school (did I even think in high school?) and would feast on a candy bar and pop at any time, the mere thought of that combo now gives me a sugar headache.  I just can’t handle my sugar like I used to!
  4. I always fill my washing machine with clothes first.  Then I turn the water on and pour the soap into the water.  I’ve read and been told that this is wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong… something about diluting the soap first.  But I don’t think I would know how many clothes I can stick in the machine if the water is in there first.  Hmmm…
  5. I haven’t purchased beef from a store for 10 years.   My uncles raise it, and there is something comforting in knowing where my beef comes from.  Not to mention that we can eat t-bones for a little over $2 per pound… (I’ll share my most recent beef bundle pictures soon!)
  6. I love Mondays.  Wait!  Don’t go!  Let me explain.  😉  Because Lance is a three-sport high school coach, we are a ballgame goin’ family.  Also, because we live in Tiny Town (community activities) and we live within an hour of most of our family, weekends can tend to get busy.  On Monday, we have no ballgames.  I get to stay home and renew my promises to get a lot done during the week.  It’s a clean slate.  I love it!
  7. Each time I clean my kitchen, do dishes, etc. I work from right to left.  Even if the “right side” counter top is clean, I wipe it down first anyway.  That may be the only order in my life, but it’s mine!

Because I have some specific people in mind to tag with another tag I received (you’ll soon get to see my favorite kitchen features), I’m cheating and leaving this one up for grabs (since I already cheated and combined two tags anyway…)  Who wants something to write about today?  I’d love to learn more about you!

Control What You Can Control

There’s a lot in this life that seems out of my control.  I could easily spend my time in frustration, whining about and bemoaning those things (while making everyone around me miserable)… but instead, I’m trying to take responsibility and ownership of whatever I can control. 

 

  • I can’t control who becomes our next president, but I can vote and encourage others to do the same.
  • I can’t control what time my kids wake up in the morning (oh, how I’ve tried!), but I can get to bed at a decent time so I’m ready to rock and roll when they are (or something like that).
  • I can’t control grocery prices, but I can be more vigilant about my shopping practices and meal preparation to get the best deals and keep our bill as low as possible.
  • I can’t control the weather, but I can rearrange my schedule so we can enjoy every possible minute outside before the nasty cold sets in.   I can also make the most of our time inside with fun projects for the kids.
  • I can’t control the economy (which is too bad for all of us, because let me tell ya…  I have a plan!) but I can react to it appropriately and ride the roller coaster.  “After all, the only way to get hurt on a roller coaster is to jump off.” 😉 (Got that from Dave.)  Check out Dave’s take on the economy.  He is so right on!
  • I can’t control my husband’s teaching income, but I can carefully steward it and stretch it to meet our needs. 
  • I can’t control everything my daughter is learning (the good, the bad, and the ugly) at school, but I can be an advocate for her education.  And… if it’s really an issue, I could homeschool.  There are always options more positive than complaining (or doing nothing).
  • I can’t control our health insurance costs (don’t get me started), but I can do my best to keep my family healthy by preparing nutrient rich foods, exercising with the kids, making sure we all get enough sleep, and keeping germs at bay. 
  • I can’t control how busy we are… oh, wait!  Sure I can!  Ever heard of saying NO?!?  (I know, I know, that doesn’t work in every situation, but we are all gifted with the same 24 hours in a day…)

I can’t fix all, cure all, mend all, be all… so I’ll just control what I can control.  It works for me.

Another thing that works for me?  Small town church cookbooks!  Enter my giveaway to win one!

Pie Crust Pleasers

After making chicken pot pie last week, I had some leftover pie crust.  The thing about tender, flaky pie crust is that you shouldn’t touch it.  Don’t mess with it too much, or it gets tough.  Tough pie crust is not tasty pie crust.  And “not tasty” pie crust is just plain not worth it!

So, instead of messing with your crust and trying to make something out of it (like rolling it out again to make another pie crust, only to be disappointed when your crust doesn’t quite fit… and is now quite tough… wanna ask me how I know?) make Pie Crust Pleasers (I totally made up that name for this post… I don’t think these really have a name)! 

Simply lay your scraps in a pan as you cut them, and generously sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. 

"That MY job, Mommy."

"That MY job, Mommy."

Bake in a 350 oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Mmmmm.  I remember fighting over these sharing these with my siblings growing up.  And my sister?  Don’t tell her I told you this, but I think she sometimes makes pie crust just to make these.  Yep.  She cuts the whole recipe into strips for Pie Crust Pleasers.  They are that good.

Be sure to visit Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Kitchen Tip Tuesday, and check out my church cookbook giveaway!

Gratituesday: My 100th Post!

According to my dashboard, this is my 100th blog post!  Wow — how did that happen?  And to think, I had virtually no idea that the blogging community even existed six months ago.  Crazy, I know.  This blogging thing?  I absolutely love it.  And this Gratituesday thing?  It is necessary.  In all circumstances.   

In honor of my 100th post, here’s what I’m grateful for tonight.

  • Inspiring blogs that gave me the push to begin my own addiction, well… yes, addiction.
  • Talented friends who got my blog up and running.
  • A place to collect and record my thoughts.
  • Incredible readers who have become sincere friends through our blogs.
  • A husband who encourages this outlet (and everything else I get myself into!)
  • Patient children who wait “one more minute” while I finish up a post or moderate comments.
  • Encouragement and accountability via thoughtful comments.
  • A community where I feel like the “invisible-to-society” things I do throughout the day as a wife and mother aren’t so menial!

So, there you have it.  My 100th post!  Anything you’d like to read about in the next 100?

Don’t forget to visit Heavenly Homemakersfor more Gratituesday.

It’s Giveaway Time!

I love a good cookbook, and a good cookbook to me is a hometown church cookbook.  It doesn’t matter whose hometown it is… Who can resist the comfort food that so many real ladies are willing to share?  Real ingredients; real food.  I love it, and well… I have too many good cookbooks. 

In a continued effort to reduce my kitchen clutter, I’m participating in the fall Bloggy Giveaways by re-gifting one of my cookbooks from its crowded cabinet spot.  Need a good cookbook?  It could be yours!  Just leave a comment.  If you want to be entered twice, mention my giveaway on your blog (and be sure to tell me you did!) 

This particular book was compiled by the Methodist Church ladies of Nickerson, Kansas.  With recipe titles such as Rendezvous Coffee Cake, Fumi Salad, Shipwreck, and Ugly Duckling Cake, there’s certain to be something for everyone!

 

I’ll let random.org pick a winner on Friday after we return from our Trick-or-Treating rounds.  Be sure to check out the hundreds of awesome Bloggy Giveaways going on this week!

Beat the Freeze!

It got c-c-c-cold late this afternoon as we all ran out to beat the freeze!  After watching our fledgling garden produce lots of goodies this summer, we hated to lose anything tonight to the impending frosty temps (thanks for the heads up, neighbor John!)… so out we went to gather the last of the goods.

 

Looks like I’ll be busy chopping and freezing peppers tomorrow!

Before the cold wind hit… what a beautiful weekend!  I ditched our soup plans yesterday (I can’t do soup when it’s sunny and 70 degrees out!) in favor of this Texas Cowboy’s Pie from $5 Dinners.  It turned out great, and I’m glad to have another use for leftover roastbeef to add to my repertoire.   

Here are our menu plans for this week:

Sunday, 10/26

Weeknight Suppers

  • tuna casserole, green beans, homemade applesauce
  • potato soup, cream cheese apple muffins
  • baked round steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and green beans
  • Game night!  Yes, on Thursday… if we win, we go to the playoffs for the first time in, well… forever, I think!  (This is just our third year in Tiny Town.)  So, probably sandwiches and snacks for the road.   

Friday, 10/31 

I normally don’t plan three meals for Friday, but school is out and everyone’s home and it’s Halloween, so…

  • pumpkin pancakes (based on this recipe, but with a real egg  😉 (with chocolate chip jack-o-lantern faces designed by my sous chefs), bacon, scrambled eggs
  • homemade pizza, again with a Halloween design (think pepperoni and peppers and mushrooms) by the littles
  • fifteen-bean soup with ham, which will be simmering in the crockpot while we make our afternoon trick-or-treating rounds to the grandparents and great grandparents (how grateful I am that we live close enough to do that!), cornbread muffins, and a sampling of varied candy goodness for dessert

Saturday, 11/1   AAACCCKKK!!!  November!?!?

  • ham and cheese omelets, muffins
  • clean out the fridge
  • spaghetti, corn, breadsticks

Training vs. Discipline

Scurrying through the dining room to complete a quick 15 minute pick-up session before supper, I turned to my 5-year old daughter for assistance.  “Could you put that brush in the bathroom, please?” 

My request was met with a very nonchalant, “It’s not mine.”

SCREEEEECH!  Somehow those words hit me like fingernails on a chalkboard.  After teaching tweeners for eight years, I do know what that sounds like!  De-cluttering no longer important.  Time for some training.  Let me be the first to admit that my normal reaction would be to give her the evil eye, say “do it” in a not-so-tender-mommy tone and huff on to my other pre-dinner responsibilities.  I don’t know what made me stop this time, but I’m glad I did. 

So began a quick talk about what would happen if mommy only took care of her messes…  how everyone needs to contribute to the family for us to run smoothly… and, of course, the proper response when I ask for her much needed help.  “Yes, mommy” would be an appropriate choice, along with some followthrough.

So we practiced.  Task completed.  No more hairy brush on my dining room table.  “Thank you.  And now I need you to put the doily (currently used as a headress) back on the table where it belongs.”  Before I had put the period at the end of my verbal command, out came the popular excuse  “That’s not where it was…” along with a stunted explanation of exactly where the doily had been discovered. 

Hadn’t I just talked about this?!?  Again, I could have disciplined for disobeying and talking back (and trust me, it’s my go-to method entirely too often), sent her to her room to stew about it, and done it myself… but in another moment of patience and sanity (two in one day!  WOW!) I chose to train my daughter, even as she walked away.

Stop right there.  Come back.  Let’s try this again.

“I need you to put the doily back on the table where it belongs.”

“Yes, mommy.”

Ahhhh, temporary relief for a Mama’s ringing ears and frazzled mind.

Discipline is easy less time consuming in the present, but training will pay off in the future.  It will make my life simpler someday.  Right?  Anyone? 

For more Living Simply Saturdays, visit Keeper of the Home.

Meat and Potatoes

Lance and I both grew up on good old fashioned meat and potatoes meals.  One of my favorite meals to fix:  BBQ meatballs and cheesy potatoes.  Double yum!  This meatball recipe makes a lot, so I usually divide it into three pans; one to eat and two for my freezer.  I freeze half of the potato recipe, too.  I love having meals handy for crazy days, or to give to a new mom or any family in need. 

BBQ Meatballs

  • 1 can (13 oz.) evaporated milk
  • 3 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 c. oatmeal
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. chili powder

Mix and shape into balls. Place in pan in a single layer.

Hint:  Skip the mess (and have perfectly uniform meatballs)!  Shape your meatballs with a cookie or muffin scoop.   

Sauce

  • 2 c. ketchup
  • 1 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. liquid smoke
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion

Mix together and pour over meatballs. Bake at 350 for one hour. (I cover them for 30 minutes and then uncover for the last 30 minutes.)

Cheesy Potato Casserole

  • 2 pounds potatoes, diced and cooked (can use frozen hashbrowns, thawed)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1cup (or more!) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional:  1 cup crushed cornflakes and another 1/2 cup melted butter

Mix first seven ingredients.  Spread in 9×13 pan.  Optional:  top with cornflakes tossed in melted butter.  Bake at 350* for 1 hour.   

For more recipes, head over to Life as Mom and The Grocery Cart Challenge.

Living for Giving

Stewardship is not always a popular topic in local churches.  Often it invokes negative images or experiences.  But stewardship is a gift from God, a spiritual discipline and a means of God’s grace.

The above message from Bishop Kenneth L. Cardner was prominent on the back of our church bulletin last weekend.  It is timely as we all prepare for the holiday season (and is timeless, really).

Giving is something that everyone can and should do.  Yes, everyone.  Rich, poor, talented, not-so-talented, young or old.  We all, in any of our broken circumstances, can give.

Based on the stewardship definition of time, talent and treasure, I’ve put together a list of things to get us all in the giving spirit.  This list is certainly not complete, and definitely not just for the holiday season (or for church!)… please help me compile more ideas in the comments!

The Gift of Time

  • Red Cross Bloodmobile (either giving much needed blood or as a volunteer… just the other night I got a phone call.  “We’re hosting the blood mobile on Friday.  Would you like to donate a pie, 5 pounds of cooked potatoes, or $5?”  It wasn’t would you like to donate, but what would you like to donate.  😉  That lady knows how to get her volunteers!  Love it.)
  • Visiting elderly neighbors.  Last week Kate wrote about their homeschool lesson in manners.  I know that all of us have neighbors who would love to be “used” for homework practice!
  • Helping a new mom with chores so she can sit and enjoy the baby.
  • Grab some sacks, take a walk, and pick up some trash.
  • Participate in local nursing home events.  (Is this just a Tiny Town thing?)  Our nursing home offers kid parties at Halloween, Easter, and a carnival in the summer.  Fun for the kids, and a great change of pace for the residents.
  • Update:  Check out Toni’s Coupons for Troups program.  (Thanks, Kate!)

The Gift of Talent

  • Help create costumes or the set for a school or community play.
  • Go Christmas caroling!
  • Heat up your oven and bake… for neighbors, for new parents, for shut-ins, for someone battling a chronic illness, for a family who’s recently experienced a death.  Here’s a list of meals I use to bless others.
  • Direct or perform in a community cantata.
  • Have your kids (or your homeschool group?) make decorations such as place mats for the local nursing home or hospital.  Deliver them together.

The Gift of Treasure (on a budget)

  • Operation Christmas Child boxes (if you’re a bargain hunter, you can fill these boxes cheap!)
  • Angel tree — I’ve seen many variations, but you pick an ornament from a tree and purchase the gift that’s on the ornament (a fun family outing).
  • If it’s not a regular practice in your household, eat an untypically frugal meal once a month (or week) and donate your savings to a favorite charity.
  • If you’re switching to a whole foods diet, give your processed pantry stockpile to a local food bank.
  • Donate gently used baby clothes and toys to a pregnancy crisis center.
  • Last Christmas we made a donation to The Lord’s Diner in honor of my parents, who said they didn’t want anything for Christmas.  😉  They loved that gift.

We should give something, because He gave everything.  And because it gives us an opportunity to serve.  And because it feels so good.

Living for giving… works for me!  Peruse Shannon’s blog for more WFMW!