Every Friday from now until Christmas, I'm going to share a few sneak peek pictures with you of my homemade items or other gifts. These remind me of
those games where you have to guess what the object is from a close-up picture. I hope you enjoy!
This is the image from Dash Recipes; mine didn't look exactly like this. It is absolutely
amazing. Mine didn't exactly come nicely
out of the pan, so it was more of a crumble than a cake, but it tasted
great! My sister helped me make it and
that was great, because it's not really a simple mix-pour-bake recipe. She chopped walnuts and melted butter while I
rinsed cranberries and zested an orange.
She juiced oranges while I measured brown sugar and cinnamon. She stirred one thing while I stirred
another. There's definitely some prep to
this recipe, but it is so worth it! And
as much as I am not a fan of walnuts (or any nut in general) they added a nice
crunch to this cake. The fresh-squeezed
orange juice and fresh orange zest added a great citrus kick that you just
can't get from the carton or bottle.
My mom understands
the need for chocolate. I don't know if
it's been scientifically proven, but I firmly believe there is something in
most women that actually needs chocolate
sometimes. Not wants. Needs.
We spent Black
Friday at my parents' house. We had a
desserty snack in the afternoon, so I don't think we were planning on dessert,
but I needed chocolate. I asked my mom
if she had anything chocolate I could eat.
I was thinking a handful of chocolate chips or something really easy
She pulls some
brownies out the freezer and says "These should help!" I said, "Oh thanks! That's great!"
Then she says,
"Put some milk and chocolate chips in a mug and make some hot fudge
sauce. I think we have some ice cream,
too, and whipped cream."
And this is just one
of the many reasons I love my mother.
This is my new
favorite game! Some friends of my
husband gave this to him as a gift, and he let me play it and it's awesome.
Here's a video of my
husband learning to play it.
He's posted another
episode and will be posting more if you want to keep watching.
We brought it to
Caleb's parents' house for Thanksgiving and to my parents' house for the day
after Thanksgiving and everyone loved playing it! My mom had a turn, my sister had a turn, my
brother had a turn, and we all took turns suggesting items. I love this game because it's really only
limited by your own imagination and creativity.
It was really fun to see how everyone solved the puzzles differently. Love and Vocabulary, Leah Joy
Do you ever have
those days where everything seems to go
wrong? You trip over the side of the bed
getting up, fall into your dresser, and then stub your toe. You are so tired from not having slept in a
week and then people expect you to be nice.
You just want to sit all day and then remember that you have to cook
dinner and bake a pie for Thanksgiving and the main ingredients are in someone
else's freezer and they're on vacation.
Last Wednesday was
one of those days for me. Insomnia
struck yet again and I was so exhausted.
My husband introduced me to a new game (see tomorrow's post) that I
loved and started playing and then I remembered I had other tasks. And once I had all my ingredients, everything
seemed to go wrong in the kitchen.
I wanted to have
thawed fruit, not frozen, but once the 4 cups I had measured out thawed, they
condensed to 2.5 cups, so I had to let more fruit thaw, except by the time I
realized I didn't have enough, the first half of the fruit was already in the
pie crust, juicing.
At the same time, my
pizza dough was rising, and my husband reminded me that he had to leave for
church soon. Basically, nothing more
could go wrong with the pizza because otherwise he wouldn't get any. That was a little terrifying and made me
question yet again why I chose to make homemade pizza that night.
In the end, the pie
turned out great in spite of me, and the pizza was phenomenal. But I also had a very very full sink of
dishes (not the mention the overflow to the counter and stovetop) that I
abandoned for another day.
Mostly, I was just
surprised it wasn't a Monday, because it sure felt like one.
If you don't like Taylor Swift at all, now would be a good time to go away and come back tomorrow.
She's been getting some flack for her new album, which has very few shades of country in it. It's far more pop. And I would like to know: since when can artists not cross over into new genres? I thought many artists had been doing that since - oh, forever. I mean, even Beethoven moved from the Classical period to the Romantic period; I think Taylor Swift can do a pop album.
When I heard "I Knew You Were Trouble", I was surprised by the elements of dub-step in it, but I still really liked it. I'm not a huge fan of the dub-step genre in general, but T-Swift's version of it is pretty cool. (And hey - at least it's not rap!) The AMAs took place a few days ago, and while I didn't stay up to watch (although with how little I was probably sleeping at the time, I may as well have), one of my friends tweeted about how great the performance was. This got me to look it up on YouTube, since this friend doesn't usually rave about Taylor.
Now, I've watched a lot of Taylor's award show performances. Always before, if she didn't have an instrument to hide behind, she looked super awkward and did weird dances. This one was all obviously choreographed for her, but I think it's great - and probably her best award show performance yet. Super dramatic? Yes. But there's nothing wrong with that. Theatrical performances for award shows are all the rage these days.
She did have a few moments off-key, but otherwise, I think she killed it (in the good way). And the outfit change was really cool. I love it when she does that.
I've spent the last month with the Bubonic cold wearing down my immune system, only to spend the last weekend with my now-weakened immune system trying valiantly to fight off whatever strand of seasonal illness is running rampant up in these here parts. You want to know how sick I felt? I slept in until 10:30 on Saturday and 9:30 on Sunday! (Yes, I skipped church because I was sick. Shocker.)
And after being sick for so long (and I think I'm finally getting better), I realized the dishes have been piling up (although Caleb bravely tackled them twice - thanks honey!) and I've either been not cooking or at least not cooking real meals. And that's ending now.
The irony/best-part of meal planning this week is that I really only needed to plan Monday-Wednesday. Thursday is Thanksgiving at his family's and Friday is at mine - and then we'll have a million leftovers pushed on us by loving parents, and we'll accept because it's delicious and then I won't have to cook the rest of the week.
I'll keep it short today, because I have a lot to do, but I hope you had a fabulous weekend!
So, I don't know if any of you noticed, or if anyone still reads this, but yesterday, I posted a Tasty Thursday article, and even tagged it as Tasty Thursday. Why? Because I thought it was Thursday. Why? Because my apartment was clean. Come on, that totally makes sense.
We're getting closer and closer to a possible close date. We have one more thing (hopefully just this one) to hear back from the bank, and then they think it could be a week and a half until close. Once we close, I want to spend all my free time at the new house: cleaning, painting, fixing, and more cleaning. I don't want to have to deal with stuff here at the apartment except for putting stuff in boxes. But I also want the apartment ready and nice for the next tenants.
So, one of my huge projects recently has been to deep clean every room. I started with the front entryway, which only took a few hours. I moved everything, vacuumed under everything, wiped everything off, cleaned the walls, and organized everything. A few days later, I tackled the hall, running from the entryway to the end of the apartment. This took a full work day, because we have a little catch-all shelf that is full of stuff. But I moved everything and cleaned and organized everything again.
It took me a while to get the guts to tackle the bedroom, because it's so much bigger than the hallway (duh). But I finally got in there, and moved (almost) everything. Seriously, I moved the mattress and the box spring (mostly by myself!) to get at the rolls of dust under the bed. And like 25 dead tissues. And several writing utensils. And 3 guitar picks and 5 bobby pins. And 12 dead ladybugs. It was a very long day, but I finally got through the whole bedroom except the bookshelf and the closet. (I need Caleb to do those with me.)
Finally, all that was left was the kitchen and the living room (and the bathroom, but that doesn't really need deep cleaning, since I clean it fairly regularly). I was having a hard time getting motivated, though, because they're both such big projects. So on Tuesday, my dear mommy came and helped me. I thought we'd get through one room, since the other big room took me 7-8 hours. We had 5 hours, and we had to eat lunch, too, so I was hopeful to get one room done.
Instead, we knocked out both rooms! What a blessing! Everything looks amazing and I swear the sink is glowing, it's so clean! We donated a bunch of canned food items we were never going to use, so I had all sorts of new cupboard space to use. It was very exciting!
And that's why Wednesday felt like Thursday. We got so much done that it felt like it had to be later in the week to have that much accomplished. I felt like I gained a day! (And yesterday, I was able to spend most of the day working on Christmas gifts!)
I recently found a recipe on Pinterest for Lemon Glazed Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls. It looked great and sounded interesting. We love cinnamon rolls. And we love the lemon and blueberry combination, but cinnamon with lemon and blueberry? There was only one way to find out!
I didn't take quite as many pictures of my cinnamon rolls as they did, but mine still turned out very pretty. I did have a problem, but I think it was more my oven than the recipe. Several of these were still uncooked in the middle, while you can see the outside is scorched. Our oven does not cook evenly, though, so I think that was the problem.
I used 2% milk, because that's what we have. And I used salted butter and cut the other salt a bit. (Something I don't understand is why recipes call for unsalted butter and then have you add salt anyway.) And when I got to the glaze, I used milk instead of half & half, because we don't have half & half. And it turned out fine.
These rolls are very large. They might have cooked better in our oven if I had made smaller ones and split them between two pans.
I know, I probably shouldn't make that my first sentence, as I'm likely to lose readers right off the bat, but I really have no rant.
Except perhaps against Mondays in general.
The auction was on Saturday and Caleb and I put in a good 12-hour day. I was on my feet for most of that time, and had to be nice and friendly for the whole time, and especially the last few hours, during the actual auction. Then, we got home, went to bed and had to get up (too early) on Sunday morning and play in the worship team.
You know you look bad when a nearly blind man tells you that you look tired.
I've never been so tired.
So when we got home from church, I was determined not to nap, because napping usually prevents me from sleeping at night. And I didn't nap, thankfully, but I did run into 3 walls. Or maybe it was the same wall 3 times. I don't know.
Last night, I went to bed at 9:45. With a splitting headache.
When my alarm went off this morning, I hit snooze 5 times before pulling my foggy (still aching) head out of bed.
With some breakfast in me, my head feels better, but I kind of wish I could stay home all day and clean. The apartment is a mess, because when we come home so tired, we just kind of leave everything everywhere, and there have been too many of those events lately, and not enough cleaning up afterwards. And a clean apartment always makes me feel better.
But I have to go to work for a while today. Because it's Monday.
I don't feel like this every Monday, thank God, but today, I join the chorus of the exhausted workforce.
This summer, my life was rather hectic. I'd get up at 7:00, shower and get dressed, read my Bible, and then head over for breakfast in the dining hall. While there I might weed my garden a little and water it. Then back home where I might have about 15 minutes before work. I'd work 9-5 and then go down to the dining hall again for dinner, then I'd have a few hours at home to accomplish any tasks I wanted done before falling, exhausted, into bed.
The reason I got up at 7:00 is because mornings are sacred to me. I love being up before everyone else and having time to myself. And I know 7:00 isn't actually that early, but it's what worked, because I couldn't eat breakfast until 8:00 anyway. If I had my choice, I'd eat first thing, and then I have energy to do other things (clean, etc.). But until I eat, there's not much I can do. I wake up so hungry every morning.
Regardless of my breakfasting hour, this summer schedule really reduced any time I wanted to do things at home to a few hours in the evening, which could easily be taken up by something that seems like a small commitment to someone else, like dinner or an hour long band practice. In the spring, I'd do all my cleaning on one day and just get it out of the way, but I knew that with summer, that wasn't going to happen; I would never have a whole day to do it! And I had seen alltheseadorablehomemadechore/weeklycharts on Pinterest, so I wanted to try one. Mine would be simple, just different pieces of colored paper with the day written on, secured behind glass in a long, skinny frame, and then I'd use a dry erase marker so that if it didn't work out to do it one way, I could easily try another.
Do you know how hard it is to find a long, skinny frame (that's actually glass and not just cheap plastic) at a thrift store in my area? Impossible! I looked for months (I started early). Finally one day, as I was looking for a frame, I found this:
You know what's easier than making your own chore chart? Buying one that's the perfect size (and comes with dry erase markers and cleaning spray) for $5.
Because it came with three colors of markers, I decided to color code. Red is chores and blue is "social engagements". (And I didn't use the black one.)
Did it magically happen like this every week because I had a chart? Heck no. I don't think Caleb vacuumed once all summer, which is fine because he worked around the clock. And I didn't always do the laundry on the days I have specified. (If you're wondering, the reason sheets and towels are on there and clothes aren't is because I will make time to wash my clothes out of necessity. But when I get super busy, I need a reminder that my sheets and towels are dirty.)
A chore chart isn't a magical lamp that gives you self-control and a desire to clean your house every day. It's a guideline and it helped me to remember some things. And it helps that it's not the ugliest thing I've ever seen, either.
Today I have three more recipes to review, and again, no pictures. But they're pretty great recipes!
1. Chubby Hubby Bars - recipe here. First of all, Shelly (who wrote the recipe) is hilarious. Second, this recipe is amazing. You start with cookie dough and mix in pretzels and chopped Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (or a bag of Minis). Bake that, then pour melted caramel over the top. Let that set, and then spread melted chocolate on that. Seriously? It's a delicious heart attack in a pan. Once my chocolate was hardened, I cut these up, which was actually fairly difficult because I let the chocolate harden in the fridge. So these were tough to cut through, but I did it all at once, because I was going to store them in the fridge. If you store them somewhere warm, the caramel will melt and run all over (and that's messy). But they taste amazing. Pretzel, Caramel, Chocolate, Peanut Butter? Mmmmmmmmmm....
2. Cake Balls - recipes all over the internet. I tried the simple one, where you bake a 9x13 cake mix from the box, crumble it up, and mix it in with a can of store frosting, roll them into balls and coat them in chocolate. Mine were super sticky, and my hands were completely coated in frosting and crumbs after doing just two balls. I could have used half the can of frosting and had plenty to stick the cake pieces together. I mean, they tasted great! (It's cake, frosting, and chocolate - duh!) But they were really messy to make and honestly? - I like cake batter truffles or cookie dough truffles better.
3. Simple Lemon Popsicles - recipe here. These really are very simple. They'll taste like store-bought ones (and since they have corn syrup, kind of have the health benefits of store-bought ones) unless you use fresh-squeezed lemon juice. These were very simple to make, froze nicely, and tasted great. They were easier (and froze nicer), though not as healthful, as they lemon yogurt popsicles I shared last review.
Enjoy! If you have any Pinterest recipes you'd like me to try for you, leave a link in the comments, and I may or may not try it. (We do have a limited kitchen and time. And stomach space. And fat allowance. And I'm a picky eater.)
It's hard to get up and face the day after a difficult night like we've just had. I mean, how does one even go on with life?
Wait, what? Oh, you thought I meant the election?! No, I was talking about our "work party" for the camp auction! How silly of you! Haven't you learned I (mostly) keep my mouth shut about politics?
Our auction is this Saturday, and we're all getting really excited! It's our biggest fundraiser of the year, especially since we have a matching donor. Last year, we brought in about $19,000, but that got doubled by the donor, so nearly $40,000! This year, all the proceeds (except the donations which are specifically designated for camper scholarships) go towards our new building. We hope to have the kitchen and dining hall ready to use for next summer, but we also are trying to do that without going into debt, so it's a good thing we have this fundraiser!
Amusingly enough, a few weeks ago we were concerned that we wouldn't have enough items to sell and that the tables would look sparse. Then God laughed at us and rained down tons and tons of gifts!
So last night, the auction committee met upstairs and went through 250+ silent auction items, assigning them to tables and boxing them up for easy (easier) transport on Saturday. Everyone had a job, but mine was kind of helping everyone. Living under the office and taking in every item and labeling it in the system kind of helps me know where everything is. So I was rushing about answering questions, fetching tape, finding labels, fetching paper clips, locating items, and fetching pens. By the end of the night, I was so tired and my feet hurt. And I wanted to cry, because that's what I do when I'm tired.
On the bright side, I got Oreos! And we got everything sorted and ready for Saturday. (Well, almost everything.)
So, if you haven't watched all the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, you really should do that now. After Darcy's recent appearance on Lizzie's vlog, someone uploaded a very funny video of all the things Lizzie said about Darcy on the show. Check it out!
Today's rant is on voting. This is as political as I will get on the Internet. Oh boy, do I have a ton of things I would like to say, but I believe those conversations are done better in person. I don't even "share" any witty images or videos on Facebook. But you know what is crazy? The number of people who don't vote. Many of them even seem to have opinions about the way our country should be run, but then they don't vote. How does that make sense?
You live in a relatively free country. You are given many rights and responsibilities, including the right to help pick your next leader, and you ignore it. Why? Because you're too busy playing Pokemon to research the candidates? Because you're too jaded to believe your vote will make any difference? Perhaps it won't, but what would happen if everyone had your same lackadaisical approach?
Tomorrow, get your butt out there and vote! And if you didn't register to vote, shame on you!
I don't care if you're Democrat, Republican, Moderate, Tea-Party, Hot-Chocolate-Party, Green Party, Purple Party, or somewhere in between. Get your behind off the couch and vote.
You've been given a right. Use it!
Take a little time today and research the candidates and issues. Here are some helpful sites:
In Michigan: MLive has a voter guide. You type in your address and it pulls up all the candidates and issues. You can choose two candidates to compare side by side. It pulls up their biographical information and views on issues that you can see right next to each other.
If you missed the Internet exploding yesterday, first watch this video:
Secondly, I wanted to share a fun craft with you. I found it first on Saving Addiction, a West Michigan based website that updates its readers on the best deals in the area. They also feature a sort-of-weekly DIY project, with most of them being natural or homemade cleaners, lotions, and things of that sort. Recently, they featured a natural air freshener. I adjusted the tutorial a little bit, and made it a bit cuter, because that's how I roll (actually, it's not, but it made good sense here, and that's how I roll).
Small jar - preferably a short-but-wide one rather than a tall-but-skinny one
needle or other poky thing
stamp pad + stamp (optional)
Start by taking the lid off the jar, and tracing the top of the jar on the cardstock. Cut out your circle. Stamp your design onto the circle. Remember that the edges will get covered by the jar lid, so place accordingly.
I used my mom's Stampin' Up markers, which allow you to draw on the stamp with multiple colors, then you just breathe a breath of hot air on it, and stamp. I'm sure you can do this with other markers, too. This design (as you can see) just fit inside the rings, and the first time, I placed it too high so the top of the tree got cut off. So be careful.
Now, place about 1/2 cup of baking soda in the jar. It does not need to be perfect. Add 10 or more drops of essential oils, depending on how strongly you'd like it to smell. Put the cardstock circle in the lid and place on the jar. Poke lots of holes in the cardstock. I used a seam ripper, as it's easy to hold and poked nicely sized holes. Tie a ribbon around for added cuteness - or in our case, to let you know the scent. Purple is the lavender one (that I keep by my bed) and the yellow ones are lemon.
Aren't they so cute? For a while, I thought they wouldn't make great gifts, because I thought you had to shake it up every time you wanted a whiff, but I can definitely smell the lavender one by my bed, and it's wonderful!
Eeep! So cute!!
Today, I'm having a "Domestic Friday". Laugh if you will, but if I don't make it a holiday or something interesting, it won't get done, so I need to call it something. I have tons of cleaning, baking, and handicrafts to complete today. :) So here I go!
Love and Domestic Felicity,
UPDATE (December 5): The scent seems to last for about 3-4 weeks.
I feel great this morning. You know why? Because I didn't waste any time sleeping last night. I mean, really, sleeping is so overrated. And instead, I spent the entire night in extremely productive tossing and turning. And who wouldn't want that when they're exceedingly tired and have been somewhat sick on and off for the last month?
Okay, sarcasm over. It was a terrible night. And I feel like crap. But I have to get up and do life anyway and go to work and all that fun stuff. Because I'm a grown-up.
The good news is that today is Darcy Day! So when I take my lunch break, I'll finally get to see Darcy on the Lizzie Bennet Diaries! Unless they do something cruel and have him standing awkwardly the whole time where we can't see his face. I hope not, I hope not, I hope not!
Today, I'm going to share my reviews of three Pinterest recipes. I don't have pictures, but I have links! :)
I love to make bread with yogurt in the batter because it makes it so moist and I can pretend it's good for me! For this recipe, I can tell you that anywhere it says "kosher" or "whole-milk" or something like that, you can be sure I used just whatever I had on hand. Actually that probably goes for any recipe! I did use fresh squeezed lemon juice and freshly grated lemon zest, though, because I had some lemons. And that made this bread crazy lemony! It was SO good! Lemon and blueberry is one of my favorite fruit combos in baked goods and this definitely lived up to my expectations. It's a bit labor intensive, as you have to mix it, bake it, then poke it and glaze it with a syrup, then glaze it with a glaze. And after each step you have to wait until the previous one is cool or hardened or something. But it's pretty worth it!
I needed something new to add to our line-up of dinner options, so I tried this once. It's fantastic. It's basically baked spaghetti with pepperoni on top. If you like baked spaghetti and pepperoni, you'll love this. You hardly need to measure, either. The amounts of things don't really matter, except for how you it. You like a lot of sauce? Add more sauce. A lot of cheese? Add more cheese. It's that simple. And easy. And delicious. And goes a long way! A 9x13 pan lasted us almost a week (1 dinner plus 4-5 lunches for 2 people).
Here's one where I strayed further from the recipe than the others. First of all, I didn't have raspberries, so I left those out. Second, I used plain yogurt and I did not strain it - probably because I don't know how to. So they were very simple: lemon juice + lemon zest + yogurt + sugar = popsicles. And I added everything to taste, not just the sugar. I like yogurt, when it's flavored like the Yoplait original singles. Those are great. As far as plain yogurt, no thank you! Except in recipes, as long as I can't really taste it. So I added more lemon juice and sugar and less yogurt. So I don't know if it was my popsicle molds or the fact that I changed the recipe so much, but these would never come out of the mold on the stick for me. I ended up scraping them into a bowl and eating them like frozen yogurt. They tasted great, but I went wrong somewhere!
The funny thing is, I practiced making popsicles last winter being certain that I was going to make popsicles all summer and always have them ready in my freezer for anyone who wanted one and I was going to be known as the Popsicle Lady (okay, not really). I made exactly zero popsicles all summer. Perhaps because lemons aren't on sale here in the summer, perhaps because I was busy doing other things. I just didn't.