Friday, February 29, 2008

Tip Love

Have you already heard about Tip Junkie? It is a great site where you can find all sorts of fun tips. I have been there a few times, but was in a hurry and forgot to bookmark it or subscribe in my Bloglines. But earlier this week I came across a fun link for Leap Day activities and got hooked. I kept browsing and soon found a tip by my dear sweet friend, Amber. She was so kind as to pass some tip love along on her blog about me. I felt honored to receive a nod in my direction. I am dead serious when I say, everything, she does, she does well.

Anyway, so if I am getting this right, now it is my turn to pick 3 people who've inspired me and share them with you all.

Meredith at Like Merchant Ships is one of my favorite stops each time I read blogs. She is a great example of making a home beautiful on a budget, as well as feeding a family frugally. Recently, I was inspired by her Birthday Table. She sets the table complete with gifts, memories and cake for the birthday boy or girl to see when they wake up.

Kris over at Cheap Healthy Good, a blog I recently found, had a great post with links to recipes for making your own seasoning mixes. Not only can you save money, but you can control what is in your mix. You can leave out the MSG and extra sodium.

You will want to head over to the Nesting Place and check out her awesome window "Mistreatments". I've been itching to do something different and she is definitely inspiring- especially if you are not into sewing. While your there check out her hutch that she recently spruced up.

Thanks for all the great tips, ladies. Hopefully you will want to play along and pass the Tip love along.

Not sure what happened, I thought I posted this last week.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Random Ramblings

Last weekend we had the last of the boys' basketball games. Hopefully we get a few weeks off before soccer starts.

I made my own pepperoni. I used this recipe and extra lean ground beef. It looks and tastes a bit more like summer sausage. I put the slices in the freezer for our next pizza night. My kids don't really love anything but cheese, but I am sure Troy and I will enjoy it.

We also recently had the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. Jameson and his good friend Aaron, unbeknownst to each other, both made Wii cars. Connor's car ended up being too long and I had to borrow a Dremel and shave off part of the weights in the front to get it up to code.

Check out these fun open class cars. My friend Cheryl made the Cow on the surfboard(she lives on a dairy farm). Both boys won 2nd place in their Den race.

A recent lunch. Leftover homemade waffles toasted with pecans, bananas and sugar free syrup. Definitely heavy on the carbs. Usually the last 2 waffles are ignored in the fridge, and I didn't want that to happen!!

Genna's fort in the living room. She built it all by herself. She was so sad when I asked her to take it down. She cheered up when I told her she could take a picture of it so she could remember it.

Yesterday was sunny and quite nice out- look who stopped by to visit.

I bought $5 worth of seeds at the Dollar Store today- they were 4/$1. I just recently planted some parsley and basil on my window sill and I am anxious to start some other seeds. Hopefully I get the timing for repotting right this time. The last time I attempted to start seeds, the plants got too big before I could transfer them outside.

I came across this cool post about a winter garden. I don't think it would probably work here in Nebraska- but maybe the fall planting season could be extended longer. How cool would it be to have home grown salad in January?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Conserving instead of Consuming

So yesterday, in a comatose stupor, Troy remembered that Jameson's rock tumbler needed to be checked. He proceeded to do this in a strainer over the garbage disposal. We're not sure what happened, but all of the sudden our disposal was sounding very broken. He messed with it a bit, but was feeling so yucky, he just advised me to not use that side of the sink until he could get a better look at it.

I've been trying to cook everything from scratch lately and that means a lot of dishes. And it wasn't fun just using one side of the sink. So tonight, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I did a search on the internet and found a couple of videos showing me exactly what to do to fix it. So I got out my allen wrench, turned off the breaker and went to work. It was so empowering to be able to fix it myself. Normally, I leave all that handiwork stuff up to Troy. Best of all, we didn't have to go out and buy a new disposal.

I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking lately about trying to be more of a conserver instead of a consoumer. We've become to so used to disposable everything, that when something breaks we just get a new one, and trash the old one. The Story of Stuff is one of the things that really has made me stop and think. It is a very thought provoking video- it takes about 20 minutes, but I think you'll be glad you took the time to watch it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I've been busy...

Watching the moon- the eclipse the other night was AWESOME!

Trying to stay warm- it has been downright cold here.

Baking bread...

Trying to stay healthy- Jameson is still sick and Troy is not feeling the best...

Making a set of reusable shopping bags for my Mom. The sheer bags are for produce, since she likes to go to the farmers markets in Arizona. That green looks so much worse than it did at midnight last night when I was finishing these up.

Trying to clean up my messy office. Why do I always let it get so bad?

Making cookies with my favorite recipe.

I got this from my friend Amy's blog. We've made it 3 or 4 times now. It is seriously the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I've found. We tried it today with mostly whole wheat flour- and it was still yummy! I was good though and only ate one for testing purposes only.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter (yes, the real stuff!), softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups semisweet milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and brown sugar until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as needed. (Since getting my kitchen aid this has become so much easier. I blend it until it becomes fluffy).
In another bowl, mix the flour, soda and salt. Stir or beat on low into the butter mixture just until combined and you can no longer see streaks of flour. Do not overmix. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts by hand.
Drop dough in 2 tablespoon portions, 2 inches apart, onto lightly buttered baking sheets. Tip: Use the wrapper from the butter to lightly grease the pan.
Bake in a 400F oven until cookies are lightly brown and no longer wet in the center (break one open to check), 6-8 minutes. I like mine really soft in the center so I take them out still a bit doughy and let them sit on the hot pan for about 2 minutes to continue cooking just a bit.
With a wide spatula, transfer cookies to racks to cool. If hot cookies start to break, slide a thing spatular under then to release; let stand on pan to firm up, about 2-5 minutes and then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Yield: 28 cookies

What have you been up to?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Catching Up

Alright- I am going to apologize ahead of time for this monster post. It's been a busy, but fun couple of days.

Here's how we finished off our Valentine's Day~

Genna loved being able to read all the names this year on her Valentine cards

I got a surprised with flowers from my secret sister. Genna loved it b/c the frog sings.

a candlelit dinner in the basement

I covered the top of an ugly chocolate box for Troy- we also opened our homemade Valentine's and read them

The next day I subbed and that night Troy and I were able to go up to the temple, while Grandma & Grandpa Koski watched the kids. It was a great night and our goal is to get there more often this year.

Saturday Jameson had an intense basketball game against Louisville. Then afterwards my brother Dave and his family came down for lunch. It was so nice to spend some time together!

After their visit, my Mom and I drove down to Kansas to visit my sister Lorilee. We had the best weekend. We had broccoli cheese soup, my Mom made banana bread and Lorilee and I made ourselves super hungry looking at tons and tons of cupcake pictures. Lor- you need to send me some of the links we found, ok?

Her baby Ashlyn is just the sweetest thing ever and I love being able to go and love on her. Here are some pictures I took of her in my Grandma's Christening gown.

Our kids have a lot of fun playing together. This weekend they decorated cookies, played the Wii and made a cousins grocery shop and had an official ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening.

Lorilee helped me make this little bag for Genna that I've been wanting to do since last fall. We used an old pair of jeans, some clearance fabric from Joann's and a belt I got at a garage sale. It turned out really cute, although jeans and thick belts are not really fun to sew through!

Anyway, thanks for staying with me to the end of this mega post. We really had a great weekend, the only downside, is that Jameson now seems to have what Genna had last week.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day: off to a good start

I've been subbing this week and haven't had the energy to get some special things done for Valentine's Day. But here are a few things that hopefully will make this day a memorable one:

It started off with a beautiful sunrise...

And yummy french toast...

The good sweetarts...

A few measley decorations in the hallway and in the kids' bathrooms...

And after school we'll make some homemade Valentine's for each other. This was actually part of our FHE the other day. It was a shoddy job on the decorating the box b/c Genna was sick and I was in a hurry. We haven't had time to touch these since.

and last but not least, a cozy pair of heart socks I got on clearance a few years back

Hope your Valentine's Day is wonderful!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Thursday I....

Made my weekly 10 mile goal on the treadmill.

Talked to my sister on the phone.

Cleaned up the pile of pillowcases and sheets that have been by my side of the bed since before Christmas. I also washed sheets and vacuumed too.

Was redeemed from the world's worst mother award. You see, I decided we are done with boxed cereal for a while. My kids eat too much of it and there is a lot of sugar in it. So we are going to do oatmeal, pancakes, muffins, eggs and granola for a while. They turned up their noses as I was making the granola, but they all gave it a thumbs up this morning. I used this yummy recipe only I left out the nuts and added unsweetened coconut.

I forgot about my Cub Scout Committe meeting. Sorry again, Cheryl!

Had a whole bunch of sewings firsts- I made my own binding, used my walking foot, my gingher scissors that I got for Christmas and I finished my first quilt. I promise to share more pictures of it tomorrow after it goes throught the dryer.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Happy 70th Birthday Dad!!

I just wanted to give a big shout out to my Dad today, who is turning 70! I love you so much, Dad! And I can't tell you thank you enough for all that you have given me. We sure wish we could be with you to celebrate your special day! Since we couldn't be there, Lorilee and I are sending the next best thing- the most important parts of a Copper Country picnic. Ok, so you don't get the gorgeous scenery or the cool weather, but watch your mailbox for the other key components! I also wanted to share a few pictures that sum up my thoughts as I've been contemplating your special day!

Thank you for being there- all the special days of my life- from my baptism to my wedding to the birth and blessing of my children Thank you for showing us so much as we were growing up from Nauvoo to Niagra- Thank you for loving my Mom and taking her to the temple I have learned so much from you- about the gospel- about love and about what is truly important in life Thank you so much for your love for me and my children. Thanks for everything- I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!

Homemade Pizza: A new tradition

My kids were telling me the other day that they liked it when we made homemade pizza. I also have my own wonderful memories of helping to make pizza when I was growing up. So we decided to make it our new tradition- if we are all home on Friday night- homemade pizza is on the menu.

I have a couple great recipes for dough and I thought I'd share them here.

The first one I got from my Mom.

Pizza Dough
Dissolve 1 TBSP yeast in 1/4 c. water
Let stand a few minutes till foamy

Mix 1 TBSP sugar
1 TSP salt
1 TBSP oil
Add to 1 c. warm water ( if using canned mushrooms, you can add the liquid to the water)

Add yeast mixture and stir
Add 1 1/2 c. flour and beat well
Slowly add 1 1/2 c. more flour till it is the right consistency. Knead a few minutes on a floured surface.
(I actually use a Bosch mixer for this recipe)

Let rise in a warm place for 10 minutes. Top and bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Check the bottom before you remove from oven.

Makes 2 thin crust pizzas.

Tightwad Gazette Thick and Chewy Pizza Crust
( I used this one on Friday)
1/2 to 3/4 c. warm water
1 TBSP dry yeast
1 TSP sugar
2 cups Flour
1 TBSP oil
1/2 TSP salt

Combine 1/4 cup water, yeast and sugar in a measuring cup. Stir to dissolve and let stand until bubbly.

Put flour, oil and salt into a food processor. Process until oil is mixed in. (You might need to scrape the sides, as mine always likes to collect there.)

Add yeast mixture and process until blended.

Turn on processor and drizzle just enough water until the dough forms a ball that cleans the sides of the bowl. Process about 25 turns.

Put dough on greased cookie sheet, cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

Roll out on cookie sheets and bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes. (I doubled this recipe on Friday and got 5 decent sized mini pizzas and 1 large pizza on a pampered chef rectangular stone.)

The kids really like to do their own mini pizzas. Of course, I go to the trouble of having lots of toppings and they just pick the cheese. Jameson and his friend Derek put a couple token pepperoni's- I think just to make me feel better. Genna wanted to bake hers without cheese or anything, she thought it looked yummy with just the sauce.

Troy and I did make ours with all the fixin's! That's chef boyardee pizza sauce, lean ground turkey sausage, lean deli ham, black olives, mushrooms(yes, from a can- because that's how we had them growing up!), turkey pepperoni and part skim mozzarella cheese. Of course, I could have made wheat crust- but it was my free day and I am hoarding my wheat flour for Body For Life recipes, until I can grind some more.

We had a great evening hanging out together, eating pizza and watching a super cute movie from our Netflix.