Thursday, July 31, 2014

Crock Pot Beets--They Worked!

My husband and I like beets.  But, I don't like how long I have to cook them on the stove.  It means I have to not forget (amidst the craziness of life) that I have a pot on the stove for several hours.  Once my beets almost, but just barely didn't, went dry in the pan.  I wanted to find a new way, so I searched online and found a way to cook them in the crock pot.

Here's the method:
Wash the beets.  Take off the bit of end root and tops.  Place 1 beet in the center of a piece of foil and sprinkle a little coarse salt over it and drizzle a bit of olive oil.  Wrap up completely and place in a crock pot.

I layered them up to the top of the crock pot.  I used my smaller crock pot and not the huge one I have.  I had wondered if I would be able to layer them on top of each other or only on the bottom.  I layered them on top of each other and it worked out fine.  I cooked them on high for 6 hours.  Online I read that it would only take 3 hours.  But, I think that because I filled up my crock pot it took longer.  They weren't mushy, but were just right.  

I am so glad that I no longer have to cook beets on the stove!  This was much simpler to manage!  Beets are a great source of iron and I am glad I'll be able to fix them more often now.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New Twist on Quiche

I love quiche.  But, I don't love that it takes almost an hour usually to bake it.  But, this past week I found a recipe that works as a good substitute.  Of course, I modified it a lot (more than I realized at first), so I'm going to post it as I made it.

Pie #1

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  

1.  Get a deep dish pie pan.  Spray the bottom with cooking spray.  Place a tortilla at the bottom.  I found that a 10" fills the bottom exactly and works well.  Spray the top of the tortilla.

2.  In a bowl, mix 3 cups shredded chicken,
1 cup cheddar cheese, sharp if your family likes it or milder if preferred
1/2 cup. minced cilantro (decrease to 1/4 cup if you are concerned it might be too strong)
A small handful of diced sweet banana pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

3.  Spread mixture on top of tortilla.

4.  Mix 2 large eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Mix till smooth. You don't want flour lumps.

5.  Pour over mixture in pie pan.  Sprinkle another cup of cheese on top.  Place pie in oven.  My oven bakes really hot on the bottom, so I have to preheat the oven completely, then place my pan on the top rack and place a cookie sheet on the bottom rack.  I bake it for 17 minutes.  I start checking at 15 minutes.  It can take up to 20 minutes to bake if your oven isn't as hot as mine.  

I know it sounds a little crazy that I have to do all of that for my oven (and it was replaced just 10 months ago).  But, I'm just thankful to have figured out how to make it work!  I was constantly burning things or having to lower the temperature to get food to bake through.  An appliance repairman came to fix my dishwasher and he and I discussed my oven.  He explained that ovens now overheat so that they can preheat faster.  Because of this, you have to give your oven longer to preheat.

Pie #2
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  

1.  Get a deep dish pie pan.  Spray the bottom with cooking spray.  Place a tortilla at the bottom.  I found that a 10" fills the bottom exactly and works well.  Spray the top of the tortilla.

2.  In a bowl, mix 3 cups shredded chicken,
1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, sharp if your family likes it or milder if preferred
8 oz. sliced mushrooms, sauteed quickly over high heat in a little canola oil
handful of sliced green onions
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

3.  Spread mixture on top of tortilla.

4.  Mix 2 large eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Mix till smooth. You don't want flour lumps.

5.  Pour over mixture in pie pan.  Sprinkle another cup of cheese on top.  Place pie in oven.  My oven bakes really hot on the bottom, so I have to preheat the oven completely, then place my pan on the top rack and place a cookie sheet on the bottom rack.  I bake it for 17 minutes.  I start checking at 15 minutes.  It can take up to 20 minutes to bake if your oven isn't as hot as mine.  

I've served this dish for dinner and for breakfast.  I love that it cooks in half the time of a quiche and it sure tastes good!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Yard Sale Treasure of the Summer

Yesterday my middle daughter found a treasure while garage saling.  Part of garage saling is knowing what you're looking for and seeing it underneath dirt, marks, and even paint.  My middle daughter is my shopper.  She loves to shop in stores and she loves to garage sale with me.

We drove quite a ways out of town as we followed signs to a yard sale.  The family had bought an auction lot in order to purchase a dining room set and was selling the rest of it off at this yard sale.  The homeowner said she'd definitely make enough from the yard sale to cover the cost of the lot and pay for their dining room set.  Well, she didn't realize what one of the things from the lot was and how much it would matter to a little girl.

My daughter brought me a doll as I was looking through the movies.  I thought, "Really?  Another doll?"  I am skittish about dolls or anything that has any stuffing and I can't throw into a washing machine to make sure it was clean.  I told her to go ask the lady how much it was.  She told her it was $1.  Okay, I told her.  That will be fine.  It had marks all over its hands and several black marks on the face.  The arms and legs were dirty, but it wore a cute cheerleading outfit.

When we got in the car, my daughter told me she was sure it was an American Girl doll.  I told her we'd check when we got it home.  I cautioned her not to be too hopeful that all the marks would come off.  We'd have to work at it when we got home and see what we could do.

After one more yard sale, we headed home.  Immediately, Sami brought the doll to our kitchen island for surgery.  She took off the doll's clothes and threw them in the washing machine.  I sprayed the pom poms with Lysol and set them on a towel to dry.  We got out the baking soda and a damp rag to begin the cleaning process.  We worked away and got the marks off the face.  The green mark on one thumb wouldn't completely go away.  But, the legs and arms cleaned up.  We brushed the hair (and sprayed it with Lysol).  She was thrilled.

I went online when I discovered a marking that said "Pleasant Company" on the back of the doll to find out if it was an American Girl doll.  Yes, indeed this doll is an American Girl doll complete with an American Girl outfit.  Outfits run between $30 and $40 on their own.

My daughter found a treasure that she is very happy with.  She didn't mind the elbow grease and was very happy to help me.  She has been generous and is sharing it with her sister.

Yard Saling is fun because you never know what you're going to find.  My daughter definitely learned that yesterday.

I am thankful for this blessing for her, but I am even more thankful to see how she is sharing it and how she is simply excited about it rather than bragging about it.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ah, Paint...

When I started painting my daughter' bedroom, we went to Home Depot and picked out a can of lavender paint.  The girls wanted a darker paint and I explained that I always go one shade lighter because it looks darker when you paint a whole room that color.  So, we picked out timeless lilac and went home.

I painted the corner from the previous post, but my oldest daughter didn't like it.  At first, I was frustrated with wasting the money, but then I stepped back and realized that I would hate to paint a room all one color and then dislike it (like we had disliked the peach on their walls for 2 1/2 years).  So, I headed to the store and bought 1 gallon of a darker shade of purple and took it home.

I painted the corner over (it's the color in the previous post) and both girls liked it better.

Yay.  That's good.

I didn't know what to do with the lighter gallon, but I knew I needed to prime the room, so I decided to use it as primer for the room.

I went to town and painted all four walls.  But, then something strange happened.

They loved it.  I loved it too.  None of us wanted to go with the darker purple.  So, I headed back to Home Depot and got a second gallon of the lighter purple.

I know a lot of people who get the $3 samples from Home Depot and Lowe's.  When you're not sure about colors, this really can save you a lot of money.  After painting every room in three different houses, I felt pretty sure about the paint colors, so I didn't go this route.  But, it left me stuck with a $22 gallon of paint.

Ugh.  But, the best part of this story is that it's not actually going to go to waste.

I mentioned the paint story to one of my dearest friends and her reply was, "I'll buy that paint from you!  I loved it and had been looking for just that shade.".  Really?  My reply was to just give it to her.  I was so glad I could do this because she's taken care of my kids for me several times because she loves them and so I had wanted to do something for her.

I'm glad it all turned out.  But, I'm also glad that I painted the whole room in the lighter color first!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Repurposing and Simplifying

I had several projects I wanted to tackle this summer.  4 closets to paint and 2 bedrooms.  Plus 1 kitchen ceiling.  The closets are done and primer is on the kitchen ceiling, but I'm waiting a few more days to put the paint on because my arm's been in some pain.  


In order to start painting my girls' room, we needed to rearrange the room first.  The girls and I brainstormed where we could the beds.  A friend of my mom's gave me a piece of furniture for my room, so I was able to move a wood colored 8 cube organizer from my room to our schoolroom/den and a white 8 cube organizer to my girls' room.  Then, we removed two enormous bookcases that we had in the girls' room.  We moved their beds and dressers to different spots in the room.  We moved their games.  In order to get rid of the two book shelves, the girls also had to get rid of some stuff.  But, it was okay.  

I sat scrubbing a large sticker off Autumn's bed, while I gave them instructions about how to move things out of the way and go through the process of moving furniture and reorganizing their stuff.  They worked.  Hard. At the end of the day, they were very tired.  But, they were happy with the changes and the results of their efforts.

Now, the room is divided more.  The girls have more space.  We made all these changes without spending any money.  But, Sami needed a nightstand and a lamp because she likes a nightlight and Autumn doesn't. Their beds are farther apart now so it makes it easier for Autumn to shield herself from the light.  

I told Sami we'd look for these things at a garage sale.  But, I went into our school room and found a little table that would work.  I moved one of the desk lamps into Eli's room for his nightlight and then the light in his room (which was more girlish) into hers.  Yay!  Repurposed furniture that didn't cost me anything!  

The only thing I spent money on was some lower watt light bulbs from Home Depot to make the lights give off less light.  


The paint costs money of course and so I had to spend money on that.  But, that's a lot less for a remodeled room than if I'd had to buy some furniture too.  So, I'm very thankful.  

A friend of mine shared with me that she and her husband were waiting longer to purchase new things when something breaks.  They'd made a resolution, or pact, that they would do this.  It gives them time to think about it and figure out what they really want.  I think there are other reasons as well.

My husband and I recently resolved to try and purchase things in stores instead of online whenever possible.  This has had the effect on me of shopping less online and I'm glad for it.  Unfortunately, many of the things I shop for (like homeschooling curriculum) are easiest for me to shop for online, so I can't do that for everything.  But, having to go to the store makes me choose whether or not I really need to get something--whether or not I really have time to go to the store.  It also gives me more time to figure out if I have something else that will work. 

But, there's something else that happens when I wait.  I've realized that it's good to do without for a time.  We live in a society where we can literally have everything now or the next day.  It's kind of amazing and crazy at the same time.  It can easily make us feel like we should have everything we want now--because we can.  When we do without for a time (and the longer the better in some ways), we are so much more appreciative when we receive what we were wanting.

This is the case with my silverware drawer.  When we moved in 2 1/2 years ago, there was a built in organizer in the drawer.  But, it turned out to be extremely annoying.  It constantly slipped and the silverware would get stuck.  I finally came to the conclusion a month ago that I needed to put an insert into the drawer.  Most inserts though don't use all the space in the drawer.  I didn't have time to look for one, so I let it be.  But, then two weeks ago, I came across an adjustable insert at a garage sale.  The gal and I settled on a price of a dollar and I brought it home to clean it thoroughly. After the cleaning, it looked and smelled like new.  Two weeks later, my family and I are still making comments about it when we open the drawer.  We are so thankful for how this little thing makes dealing with our silverware easier to find and put away.  It's also been a good lesson for me.  

I am so glad that the simple changes the girls and I made to their room brought them so much joy and peace.  There is a peace that comes with simplifying.  

But, there was one other thing that struck me in the process of getting rid of these two large bookcases.  The room feels much more open now and my daughters have more room to play.  But, my friend Amy told me an interesting thing that she learned about museums.  In art museums, there are a few things on a wall, not many.  If there were many, it would be hard to focus on each one and really enjoy the ones that were there.  Simplifying helps us to enjoy what we have more.  Taking the big bookcases out and having less in my girls room is helping them enjoy their room more and I am so glad.  

Now, I need to paint it...

So, that's my project for today.

That subject I never thought I'd post about...

I'm a mom.  I've had three kids.  I've now reached the milestone of 40!  40!  What I noticed after each of my three children (sorry for this detail) was that my body changed.  I had to get new jeans after each of my children.  The funny part was that they were the same size.  But, different.  I was very thankful for garage sales!  I've talked to a lot of moms and they went through the same thing I did.  One of my friends had warned me before I had my first child that I should expect always to be one size larger than I was before having children.  In my case, she was right and I appreciated the warning.  

Over the past ten years, I've put myself second.  That's what we do as moms.  We learn to love unselfishly.  We purchase what others need first and save on ourselves where we can.  This is a good thing.  I get such joy from getting my children the things they need.  They are taken care of.  I, like many wives, go shopping for my husband's clothes.  He needs to dress a certain way for work, which has changed over the years depending on the position he's been in at work.  So, that's my family.  

Then, there's me.  It's tricky to take three kids with you to go clothes shopping.  Really tricky.  What's even trickier is to go shopping for undergarments.  Which brings to me what I learned this week and want to share delicately.

A week and a half ago, I went to the O/B for my check up and she suggested that I go to Victoria's Secret to be fitted, because she explained that many women experience pain when their bras are not fitted correctly.  Really???  I am really conservative and Victoria's Secret has a certain reputation.  I hate their advertising and message.  But...  the idea came back to me when I had 45 minutes to myself after an appointment on Tuesday (which I rarely have).  I went to the store to be fitted and I want to share a few things I learned, because I think I have a lot of friends like me who would never go there.

I'm glad I went.

I learned that I was a completely different size than I thought I was.  
I learned that when you buy a bra, you want it to be on the loosest clasp, because it will stretch out over time and you will need to tighten it up.
I learned that the fit should be tighter than I thought it should be.
I learned that loosening the straps makes more of a difference in the fit than I thought it would.

The salesgal gave me a card with the styles that fit me best and were the most comfortable.  I found three basics which ranged in price from $42-$48 each.  This was hard for me to stomach, but then I went over to the clearance area and another salesgal found two that were in those styles (with garish prints) but were only $20 each.  

I am more comfortable now.  I feel more put together.  It may sound silly, but this summer I have found the clothes I needed at garage sales.  A pair of shorts for 50 cents at one and a huge bag of clothes for $15 at another... I got several pairs of pants and capris.  Some fun shirts.  But, I needed to go to this one store and get what I needed.  

But, I wanted to share this piece of advice that I didn't know before I went.  I was talking with a friend yesterday who said she went there once years ago.  They took her address information and it's been impossible to get off the mailing list.  So, this is my advice.  1) don't agree to give them your email (although that's easy to unsubscribe to and block as spam via email).  2) Pay in cash.  Don't given them any of your address information in any form.  Because I didn't do this, I'm going to have to make sure that I get the mail and not my kids or my husband so that I can throw any catalogs that arrive away.  

It used to be that there were other stores that provided the same fitting service, but there really aren't any others anymore that I know of.  In any case, I wanted to share this post in case it might be helpful to anyone.