31 December 2010

Snazzy Soap

Over the last year I switched from the well-loved Bath & Body Works hand soaps to a much more economical option - Softsoap. I bought 4 small bottles (one for each bathroom and one for the kitchen) and a big (Target brand) refill. It will last forever at the rate we're going. 

This is a common scene at my sink...pretty standard, quite boring.

I decided I was done advertising for Softsoap, so I cleaned off the labels...

Pulled out my Silhouette, some black vinyl and voila!

Now that is much better!

30 December 2010

A little about me...

The Idea Room (a daily read for me) is doing a "Fun Facts about You" round-up. I thought it would be fun to join along since I usually don't share too much about myself personally here.


I am allergic to CORN (and all corn products...corn starch, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, etc). Yes, it is in everything, but I manage just fine (according to some extra fat cells, maybe a little too well!).

I'm from a "blended family". That term makes me want to laugh because our "blended" family is closer and more functional than many regular families. We don't use terms like "step-father/brother/mother/sister" because in our opinion steps are something you walk on to get somewhere, they do not describe a relationship. Random family note: my non-biological brother looks a lot more like me than my biological brother.
DSC_0333 (1)

My husband and I have been together since we were 17 & 19. I was a Senior in high school and he was a Junior in college when we started dating (met through my cousin who is in the picture above - they were friends from high school and roommates in college). He was a great sport and went with me to my winter formal and prom that year. 

I was a summer camp counselor at a Sailing Camp the summer after my freshman year of college. I love the water, but didn't really enjoy sailing (ironic, huh?). It was a beautiful place to spend a summer, even if I had no air conditioning for an entire NC summer. Thank God for breeze from the sound. Camp is a funny place...you can do weird things that seem normal at the time, like wearing thrifted "formal wear" into the pool on the first night of camp each week for "Formal Swim". Completely normal to me then, bizarre to me now.

I LOVE to swim. I'm not particularly athletic, pretty sure my brothers got all that talent but I am a bit of a fish.  I swam competitively growing up and taught swimming lessons part-time this year at the YMCA. Loved it! If I believed in re-incarnation, I'd be sure I was a fish in another life.

I'm a Christmas Baby and I love it! I think I've mentioned that before, but it's always a fun fact to share. Everyone always expects December birthdays to not like it, but that's not the case for me. My family (especially my mom) has always made sure to have a special birthday time just for me. My presents are never shared Christmas presents and are always wrapped in birthday paper. I always get a birthday present from Santa & Rudolph (even this year and I just turned 28!). 

I was a Middle School Math teacher before I had Little Man. I loved teaching - especially 7th grade. Most people cringe when they hear that age and subject, but it was made for me. These silly seventh graders are from my first year teaching. They are seniors this year...yikes!

I'm a math nerd.  I love to solve equations. There's just something fun & thrilling for me to work out all those methodical steps and come to a specific answer. I'm weird and nerdy...I know :)

I had little interest in being "domestic" until after I was married (and mostly until after I had a baby). My husband even told me recently that one of the biggest surprises/changes to him since we've been married is my cooking. Before we got married I didn't do much cooking at all (unless it came from a box), didn't know how to sew, and had no interest in gardening/canning. We're both glad I've changed.
Please ignore the shiny face/no make up look. Picking, snapping, and canning string beans is not a glamorous affair.

Siesta Scripture Memory - 2011

I love Beth Moore. I feel like God is using her in such an incredible way and she is so REAL, which is what makes her so appealing (at least in my opinion). I have done a couple of her Bible studies and they have been amazing (although extremely time consuming - I'm not going to lie). I desperately want to attend one of her weekend events (it #25 on my 101 Goals in 1001 Days), but they don't come around locally very often. 

I occasionally check in on the Living Proof Ministry blog and have noticed their "Siesta Scripture Memory Team" (SSMT), but I never really understood what they were doing (other than the obvious) or how to get involved. 

Well, it looks like finally I checked in at the right time! Here is a description on the SSMT for 2011. I am going to participate - it's one of my goals for 2011 (the last few years I've decided to make goals rather than resolutions which I always abandon). It seems quite doable - just learn one verse twice a month (1st & 15th) and I get to choose them. Sounds great!

You are suppose to write your verses in a spiral bound index card notebook (which you can buy at the drugstore like I plan to do) or you could have ordered this cute spiral bound notebook below.

I want to invite you to join alongside me (and a TON of other ladies) in learning 24 new verses in 2011. What a blessing it will be to have even more of the Word of God inside me, ready to use, rather than flipping erratically through my Bible saying, "I know it's in here somewhere!"

29 December 2010

Canning Count 2010: Wrap-Up

I have a little box on the right side of my blog with my canning count for the year...a good chunk of it at least. I must have forgotten to add to it at some points (like when I canned apples), but oh well! I'm posting here for me to remember and compare in 2011.

Canning Count for 2010:

  • Strawberry Jam - 24+ half-pints (gave some away before I took inventory)
  • Sweet Cherries - 12 pints, 1 quart
  • Green Beans - 28 quarts
  • Kosher Dill Pickles - 18 pints
  • Bread & Butter Pickles - 13 pints
  • Salsa - 12 pints
  • Blackberry Jam - 6 half-pints
  • Peach Jam - 12 half-pints, 2 pints
  • Damson Jam - 6 half-pints

  • Even though I gave away tons of jam for presents, I still have too much. Don't can as much jam next year.
  • Can more apples in slices with the lightest syrup possible. They work great for apple crisps, pies, etc and can easily be pureed for delicious apple sauce.
  • Can more green beans. They can be a pain in the booty with all the snapping and pressure canning, but they are worth it!
  • If you have the freezer space, freeze the cherries rather than can them. They are just as good out of the freezer and a lot easier to mess with.
  • Pray for a good tomato year. Can more with tomatoes (remember 2009 - what a great tomato year!!), especially pasta sauce. Try to keep your tomatoes chunkier for the salsa. Can as many whole tomatoes as possible - YUM!

28 December 2010

Christmas Follow-up & GO PACK!!!!

I hope you (whoever it is that reads this blog) had a wonderful Christmas! We had our first WHITE Christmas in the last 60 years here in NC and it was about 8 inches of awesomeness! I have to say it was especially wonderful because my birthday is actually Christmas Day, so I had a white Christmas & birthday - what fun!! 

Even though my hubby had to return to work, Little Man and I are still enjoying time with my side of the family which is a treat (especially since my grandparents have been snowbound here with us). We've been eating lots, playing in the snow, and just enjoying each other's company. Soon we'll be heading home to do the undecorating, finding a place for all the new toys, and probably a lot of organization with the dawn of a new year. Something about a new calendar year just puts me in the mood to organize! :)

And since my NC State Wolfpack just beat the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Champs Sports bowl, I have to say GO PACK!!!

24 December 2010

Happy Birthday Jesus! Party

Yesterday we had a "Happy Birthday Jesus" party for Little Man and two of his little girl friends. Our party consisted of a craft, a game, and cookie decorating while we sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus of course! Here are a few fun pictures from the morning

Craft Supplies (our version of this craft)

Ms. Leslie giving instructions about painting

Little Man's finished product...these turned out so cute!

 Next we played "Put Baby Jesus in the Manger", a spin-off of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey". I used re-positionable contact paper on my kitchen wall for the manger scene. I used my Silhouette to cut out the angel, star, and bean shape for Baby Jesus (below). I cut the manger free-hand.

Our ultra-quick and not particularly accurate "Baby Jesus" wrapped in swaddling clothes of course.

Ms. Nicole blind folded the girls, who definitely enjoyed playing the game...Little Man just wanted to watch.

Finally, we had snacks and the kids decorated sugar cookies. So fun!

You may have noticed we had birthday plates, napkins, and even balloons. We wanted it to seem like a real birthday party. It was lots of fun and I hope it becomes an annual tradition!

22 December 2010

Recipe Review: PW's Cinnamon Rolls & Cinnamon Bread

I spent today pretending I was the Pioneer Woman by trying my hand at her Cinnamon Rolls and her Cinnamon Bread. I love her blog and have her cookbook. When her novel comes out in a few months, it will be on my "To Read" list. Just love her!

First off I must confess that I was SCARED of both of these recipes because they use yeast. Yeast & I are usually not friends unless I can dump it in my bread machine. However, I have officially conquered my fear because both turned out marvelously!

I did learn a bit as I went along with the Cinnamon Rolls, which are delicious, but have unholy amounts of butter.  Here is some of the mess from my first round of dough with insane amounts of butter, sugar, and cinnamon. She warns that some of the filling may spill out...little did I know how much!


Excess Filling

Dripping down the cabinets...

all the way to the floor!

The taste and quantity more than makes up for the mess. I made 7 pans of Cinnamon Rolls (2 large rectangular, 1 medium square, 4 rounds), sent some to the neighbors for Christmas, some are going with my hubby to the office tomorrow, some are staying here for us to eat on, the rest are in the freezer.

Only one of my pans actually looked "pretty" and nicely rolled, but I think taste of appearance wins out here (not to mention the maple glaze sort of covers any imperfections).

I don't have any pictures of the finished rolls or bread, but just know they are wonderful!! They are not overly sweet, just pure deliciousness! 

Update: Here's a picture of the cinnamon rolls...yummy!
PW Cinnamon Rolls

21 December 2010

iBand Holidays

This is SO cool! There are three songs in the video...be sure to watch them all.

And now I want an iPad :)

20 December 2010

Meal Plan Monday & Happy Birthday Jesus!!

Christmas is upon us! I'm excited and ready - are you?? Hope so! I hate last minute stress & shopping...it is insane out there! With the weekend full of holiday fun, I don't have to plan too much this week. Mainly cleaning out what's in our fridge & freezer already. The only thing on my grocery list this week is lettuce - that's great for my budget which has been stretched to the limit already this month.

Monday: Chicken Pie, Roasted Carrots, Green Beans
Tuesday: Roasted Peppers & Pasta and Salad
Wednesday: Broccoli Cheddar Soup (from the freezer)
Thursday: Roast Beef Sandwiches & Fries

We're also having a little "Happy Birthday Jesus" Party on Thursday morning for Little Man and two of his little friends.  We're going to talk about the Nativity and make a little nativity craft, play "Put Baby Jesus in the Manger" (a twist on "Pin the Tail on the Donkey"), and have some snacks. We're skipping cake and copying my friend, Lori by decorating cookies. Simplicity is best when it comes to 2 & 3 year olds. 

It's going to be so fun! I'm glad we're reiterating the real meaning of Christmas because toddlers (and adults too) can certainly get caught up in the "pwesents".

Check out plenty of other meal plans at OrgJunkie.

19 December 2010

17 December 2010

Welcome to my Home: Christmas Edition

Welcome to my home! So glad you're here when it's all decorated for my favorite time of the year!

In my dining room, you can see my red & green chargers provide a festive background for my fine china.

My dining room table is adorned with a gold table cloth and centered with white candles wrapped gold leaves atop a cake stand (they're good for more than just cakes!).

Just a little snowman & sparkle fun.

That is my absolute favorite little plate - so cute & full of the true meaning of Christmas.

A little jingle to let you know someone has arrived (or a toddler is trying to escape).

Cranberries, pinecones, & greenery - my favorite Christmas trio.

I wrapped an oversized picture in some festive paper, but it needs a bow.

I love little Christmas touches, like this sparkly candle holder.

My simple mantle decorations.

We got a new exterior wreath, so this is actually the wreath we formally used outside. I removed the old bow and just stuck berry sprigs in - didn't even glue them!

Our tree with coordinated packages - I just love it!

Willow Tree Nativity high out of the reach of a toddler's grasp.

The most useful Christmas decoration - our Christmas Quilt! So snuggly & family sized!

Little touches of Christmas in the bathrooms.  

Simple kitchen table with our red & green cloth napkins in the middle.

These little holly plates are perfect for a snack with a cup of coffee or cocoa.

Simple bowl of pine cones in the dead space in front of the sink. 

Festive scents fill our air for $3 at Walmart :)

One last Christmas touch before you head to the basement & garage.

 Of all decorations, these are my favorites to see...Little People Nativity set & tons of Christmas books. So thankful for my life as a mommy & wife!

Thanks for stopping by! Y'all come back!

Also linked at Kelly's Korner.