Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday: No Slip Hangers

I've always had trouble keeping my sleeveless dresses and jumpers from continually falling off the hangers while hanging in my closet. It's a major pain to find the dress you were hoping to wear in a crumpled heap on the floor! I had tried safety-pinning the straps to the hanger but it was too much of a pain and there was the tendency to leave marks. I also tried bending the wire hangers up on the ends to keep the dress on the hanger, but this didn't work either! So I was excited to find this simple solution that uses two rubber bands-one on each end of the hanger- and actually works really well! I only wish I could take the credit for this bright idea.:-)

To use, wrap a rubber band around each end of the hanger. I used thick rubber bands, which I think would work better than the thin ones. Position bands according to where your shoulder straps/ garment will be hanging. Hang your garment and it should not fall off!

This simple idea works for me!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Healthy Food- Whole Wheat Tortillas and Homemade Refried Beans

This past week I tried three brand-new recipes in one day! I wouldn't recommend this as a regular practice, as it can be just a tad bit stressful.:-) But one of the joys of being a homemaker and a stay-at-home-wife is being able to take the time to learn new skills and try new recipes.

I have been wanting to try my hand at making tortillas and since making the change to healthier eating, I don't feel as good about buying the cheap bags of regular white flour tortillas. The whole wheat varieties tend to cost a significant amount more money(I don't feel good about that either!!!), so I am coming out ahead by making my own. I know what is in these and I now have the joy of knowing how to make them myself! I used this recipe for whole wheat tortillas and found that other than taking a little time, tortillas are quite simple to make. It will take a little practice to get them exactly right and hopefully with time, the majority of the tortillas will be a nicer rounder shape! But they all had the homemade look, which is good. Because they are homemade.:-)
This picture looks rather gross.(When my husband was helping me upload these pictures, he kind of gasped and then asked "What is THIS?") These are the refried beans that I made. You will notice they are lighter colored than regular store-bought refried beans. I used Tammy's recipe for these and we liked them pretty well. They have a milder flavor than what I expected from reading the recipe. They were very good, though, and I liked that they were not heavy on butter or lard as the regular canned ones seem to be. These were really time-consuming, so next time, I'll double the recipe to make my efforts seem more worthwhile and then freeze the extras. Making your own refried beans is also less expensive than buying the canned variety.

My reason for making these two recipes was to try this recipe for Southwestern Chicken Roll-Ups. I had the ingredients to make these items but not the convenient, ready products. These were incredibly easy and cheap to make. And yummy, too! A friend came over for dinner and she really enjoyed these, too.

That's a little of what's been going on in my kitchen lately!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Refrigerator Soup

I don't have a picture of the soup I made for dinner last night, but I was so proud of my accomplishment that I wanted to share! Not because it was the most absolutely breathtakingly delicious soup ever(it was good, though) but because it was made almost entirely with leftovers that I had in my refrigerator and freezer.

Here's what I had on hand:

  • leftover meatballs
  • about a quarter of a jar of spaghetti sauce
  • small bowl of mac & cheese with peas
  • half of an onion
  • about a quarter of a bag of frozen peas and carrots
  • a freezer container full of leftover veggie broth-about 4 cups (each time I steam veggies, I carefully save the broth in a freezer container. I just keep adding to it until it's full. It makes a wonderfully flavored broth. I laughed as a new bride and my mom suggested this. Sorry, Mom! Now I'm starting to learn.:-))
Here's what I added:
  • 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • about a 1/2 cup of mixed dried split peas and lentils
  • garlic
  • spices-oregano, basil and thyme
  • water to thin to a good soup consistency
To make the soup, I got out my soup pot and started pouring the broth items in-veggie broth, tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, chopped onion, garlic. I turned the burner on high to start to bring it to boil. Some of my ingredients were still frozen, so this helped to thaw them out. When the broth was heated through, I went ahead and added the frozen vegetables and dried legumes. I let it come to boil and then I turned it down to simmer and put the lid on the pot. I let it cook for about an hour, stirring every so often.

When the dried peas were soft and pretty much ready, I added the meatballs and leftover cooked pasta, plus a little water so it wasn't so thick. I also added the spices at this time.I continued to simmer the soup until it was all heated through and we were ready to eat!

I sprinkled each serving with the last shreds of mozzarella cheese from the bottom of the bag and served the steaming bowls of soup with homemade wheat bread.

I don't know what was better-the delicious soup or knowing that this soup was almost "free" because I used up all sorts of leftovers that some people would have just thrown out!

You can do this too. Just gather items you have on hand-some kind of cooked meat, cooked pasta, rice or potatoes, assorted veggies, spices and ingredients for whatever kind of broth you want. This takes some trial and error-some will turn out better than others, but don't despair. You can do this!

So look in your refrigerator today: You just might have everything you need for a yummy one-of-a-kind soup!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Blog Tea Party- Celebrating Marriage!

We were married almost 2 1/2 years ago on October 2, 2004. It was a very special and beautiful wedding. As far as weddings go, I don't think it was the most beautiful and definitely not the most extravagant. But it had many of the small touches that we wanted and was certainly "our own". My husband is a gifted musician and song-writer, so music was a huge part of our day. He also has a gorgeous singing voice, and sang an original song to me at the wedding-the same song that he sang to me when he proposed. :-) That was my favorite part and now he sings me that song on our anniversary each year. To signify the importance of keeping Christ first in our relationship and marriage, we decided to do communion together instead of the traditional unity candles. A friend sang "The Lord's Prayer" while we took communion and prayed together. We wanted the wedding to be meaningful and really focus on marriage God's way, instead of a quick "necessary" ceremony before the party!

Another important tidbit about our wedding is that we paid for both the wedding and honeymoon debt-free. This meant that we had no bills arriving after we got home from our honeymoon. This meant a lot of extra "do-it-ourselves" preparation for the wedding, but the freedom was so totally worth it. We spent approximately $1500 for a wedding and reception for 200 guests. (This included renting a facility.) We would not have been able to pull this off without the overwhelming support from our friends and family. Many of our friends offered their services(food, wedding cake, music, pastor, my hair, photography and videography, etc.) in lieu of wedding gifts which was wonderful. I think the only services we paid full-price for was flowers and we went very light on those, enjoying the simplicity of candles and greenery(borrowed silk plants and ficus trees) instead of flowers as decorations.
A close-up of my bouquet. The bridesmaids flowers were blue and yellow and both mothers and all the grandmothers carried a single yellow rose.
My Dad and I right before he walked me down the aisle. I sewed my own wedding gown, which was 2 piece and sewn out of silk dupioni. It was very simple in design but had a vintage feel to it that I loved! The headpiece belonged to my mother-in-law and the veil was from my sister-in-law(They both used the headpiece at their weddings). The trim on my dress and the flowers and pearls on the headpiece looked almost like they had been made to match. Stuck into my bouquet was my mom's lace handkerchief. I loved having something from both of our mothers. It added a special touch.
Finally! The wedding's over! We walked out to Rebecca St. James' song-Side By Side. Different, but we liked it! Notice the clumps of rose petals that our 3 year old niece "sprinkled" on the carpet on her way down the aisle. She took her role as flower girl very seriously and was literally picking the last pieces of petals out of the bottom of the basket by the time she got to the front of the church!
A friend made us this cake as a wedding gift. Although it turned out slightly different than the picture in a wedding book, I loved the all-white "hat box" style. For food, we had a dessert reception which featured mostly home-made family favorites.

God has been so faithful to us in the past 4 years or so, really our whole lives, as we can see how He carefully planned for us to meet and to be together. God continues to grow our love for each other and carefully fashion each of us into the perfect mate for the other! Something that stood out to us from our wedding was when the pastor said that in marriage each new day is another day to choose to love, to respect, to honor, to forgive our spouses, or to choose not to love, not to respect, not to honor, or not to forgive. With God's help we hope to choose to love, respect, honor and forgive each other for the rest of our lives!
A dear lady wrote to me in a bridal shower card- "Marriage is a garden that requires our care, our time and trust in a Living God. It yields the best friend you will ever have, the best growth opportunities to stretch... and the best spirit opportunities. God smiles when we seek to serve each other."

Thanks for "attending my wedding" today! To see more "Celebrating Marriage" posts, please visit The Homespun Heart. Thanks to Monica for hosting this fun event for us!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

It's A Snow Day!

Our little home sweet home!Isn't the snow beautiful?!

Yours truly with the snowman she built! My husband refers to this pic as "snowman and wife". We are truly kids at heart. Not even the children on our block were out this morning-only us!:-)
Our holly bush in the backyard!

Healthy Food-Raisin Spice Cookies

I finally got up the courage to try my first sweet baked goods with all whole food ingredients. I prayed a lot while deciding on a recipe to try as well as during the whole process. I don't know why I was so nervous about this-maybe I'm afraid one bad experience will send us back to wanting all junk food again, I don't know.:-) It is dangerous territory to mess with one's favorite sweet treats.:-)

I decided to go with a recipe that already called for healthy ingredients and wait until I am more comfortable with using these ingredients to change some of our favorite recipes. I chose a Snickerdoodles recipe which looking back was kind of a silly decision, since the sucanat I was using for the sweetener is so dark, there was absolutely no way I could pass a dark colored cookie off as a snickerdoodle or sugar cookie that is traditionally white or very light-colored.:-)

The recipe already called for cinnamon and since the sucanat has a more molasses-type flavor, I added a handful of raisins and a small amount of ginger and re-named them as Raisin Spice Cookies. Although a fragile cookie, they taste really quite good-not too sweet. My husband likes them.:-) (Yes, he knows what's in them too. We try to be upfront and honest about those things around here.)

I chose this recipe from the little booklet, Healthy Cookies. Next time, I will probably try something with honey as the sweetener and hopefully, I'll start to get a feel on what ingredients work the best for us.

I'm very thankful for God's help in this healthy cooking endeavor! This small success gives me confidence to go on to the next thing!