January 27, 2014

Catching Up

 We were recently away on a business trip, and I read an article about getting rid of 100 things over a weekend. When I got home we had beautiful, sunny weather that clearly showed all the clutter that has accumulated in our home following the holidays and sick days, I thought, "I need to try that."
 It was kind of exciting raiding all the closets, bedrooms, and kitchen and ruthlessly eliminating things from our stash. If your husband is a pack rat, you might want to start while he's at work. Just make sure you don't take anything too important without asking. I'm just sayin'. In the course of one afternoon, I filled a large box and four paper bags to donate. It felt awwweSOME!!! Totally worth the effort.

 If you need a little boost, pour yourself a yummy cup of strong tea and get to work. Still not motivated? Start with one room, one closet, or one drawer. Or fill a box. Set a time limit. Once you get going, it's sort of addicting. 
For me, the incentive was getting the indoors in order, so that in spring I can focus on a garage sale to clear the garage and spend some serious time in the yard. 

January 17, 2014

Soup's On

 Can anyone tell me what purpose the bay leaf serves in cooking? I've tried making soups and sauces with and without, and not noticed a difference. Maybe I don't have a refined palette, I don't know. 

 I'm sorry about the follow-up for the d.i.y gift idea. In the world of sewing, things don't always turn out like you planned. That was the case, anyway, with the tutu I made for Lucy following our trip to "The Nutcracker." I'll have to give that another go soon. 

 In the meantime, I couldn't come empty handed. Here's an easy soup recipe we make all the time around here. During the last week we have had pretty much every variety of the flu bug, and with our appetite slowly returning, we needed chicken soup. My hubby surprised us with a roasted chicken from Costco. Costco makes a good roasted chicken. We save all the extra meat, stick it in the fridge, and then add all the drippings and bones in a pot with about 2 inches of water. Simmer that on low heat for at least an hour or two, cool, and then save the broth. (Side note: you can add veggies, like onion, garlic cloves, celery and carrots with seasonings, but you don't have to.) It keeps well several days in the fridge, or you can freeze it for a couple months.

 Tonight, with runny nose and watery eyes, I chopped an onion, few stalks of celery, and three carrots.  I like to add at least 3 cloves minced garlic.  I let those cook in my pot with olive oil on low for about 4 minutes. Next, I grab out my broth and add that to my simmering veggies, along with some salt, pepper, that mysterious bay leaf, and a couple tablespoons of Italian seasoning (but not before I rub them between the palm of my hands to release some of their flavor.) If it's bland I add a little spoonful of our "Better than Bouillon Chicken Base."

If you have fresh herbs, you can alternatively add some fresh parsley, thyme, and oregano. Whatever you like. Cover, and let it sit tight on low heat until the veggies are tender. While you're waiting on that, cut up the leftover chicken. Toss that in a few minutes before the soup's ready to eat. 

In tonight's soup, I added a potato I needed to use. We've added zucchini, leftover rice, quinoa, or other veggies you might have lying around. Some veggies, like zucchini, you add it later than the other veggies, about ten minutes before serving.
With dinner, we enjoyed this foggy view outside, tucked under a cozy blanket and a box of quickly disappearing kleenex near at hand. Truth be told, I've had kleenex stuffed in my nose practically all day to keep my eye from tearing. Pretty glamorous, I know.  The soup is a great starter, but if know any cold medicines safe for nursing mothers, please, let me know.

January 3, 2014


 Have you heard that song by Mumford and Sons, "Ghosts That We Knew"? It played on Pandora this morning while I was clearing the breakfast dishes. 
 "Give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light." 

 That line made me think. We've had a challenging last couple of weeks. And, being that 50 % of the time I tend to be a 'glass half empty' type of gal, I can focus more on what's wrong than what's right. Now don't judge, I'm just being honest. Anyway, with all the holiday festivities, we've been short on sleep, and desperate for some routine. It shows, too. On New Year's, on our way in the door to Church, I made a curt reply to my hubby who dropped the baby's hat in the mud. Poor guy. He was just being helpful, too. The lady behind us noticed and offered her help, saying our hands looked full. Humbling. Typically we like people to see the best version of ourselves, not the weaknesses. Since we sat behind the lady during Mass I kept thinking about how I need to be a gentler, kinder, better momma and wife. I should be acting like the person  I am created to be all the time, no matter where I am. "Wake up, my heart! Wake up, O lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn with my song." (Psalm 57:8) 

That's what I thought of when I heard those Mumford and Sons lyrics playing this morning. Sometimes we have to strain our eyes  to see the light in the darkness. It takes effort. It requires grace.
While I tapped my foot to the beat, I felt like a part of the fog that has settled in my head was beginning to clear.   I have to make room for Christ, so His peace can reign within these walls. No matter what storm is raging. No matter how many times I hear, "Give that back" or "She just hit me!" No matter how many naps are interrupted, or time outs I have to give. No matter how many dishes are piled up in the kitchen sink. No matter what difficulties we face this coming year, "put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other...And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called." Colossians 3:12-15

P.S. I haven't forgotten the d.i.y. gift I mentioned in the last post. It's in the works!
And just so you know, this picture from last summer's exploring makes me desperate for a peaceful walk on the beach!

January 1, 2014

And a Happy New Year

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I hope your holidays have been full of blessings and laughter.  
I'll meet you back here next week with another homemade gift idea I'm getting ready for a special birthday girl. Hint: the Nutcracker.

Our girls' night at the Nutcracker for Lu's Birthday