Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Blizzard 2009

Here is a link to some pictures from the blizzard. It was unreal to me! All of the windows except for the ones on the north side of our house had a sheet of ice on them. You literally could not see out. It was quite unsettling for me!

The temps have been hovering around a balmy 3 degrees all day, with 40 mph wind gusts. We all bundled up and went out in it a little while ago. Knowing we couldn't get out of the driveway if we had to was not a happy thought for me. School's out so the kids were playing while Britney and I were working.

Hopefully this is the last blizzard for awhile and we can get to Georgia next week with no problems!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Another First

Well, just when I thought I had experienced all of the firsts of life in Minnesota, wouldn't you know there was one more. A blizzard. I would take a picture for y'all Southerners, but you wouldn't even be able to tell what you're looking at because it would just be white. We're supposed to get anywhere between 4 and 8 inches of snow between today and tomorrow with winds gusting like you wouldn't believe.

Just to give you an idea of how bad it is, I wouldn't let Carter go with me to get Ashlyn this afternoon. And there are days in the middle of winter when I MAKE him go outside because he just gets wild cooped up in the house all day. The wind sounds like it's going to blow right through our house, and I even gave in and pulled all the drapes closed tonight because the cold radiating off the glass was just too much. I'm starting to feel a little claustrophobic!

The good news is that the windows that we have re-done definitely seem to be making a difference! I guess that's the silver lining of a blizzard :)

Check back in tomorrow. Maybe it'll settle down enough that I can take a picture of some good snowdrifts to give you an idea of what it's like! Until then, send warm thoughts our way!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Sense of Accomplishment

She did it! Ashlyn finally learned to ride her bike yesterday. It only took about 20 minutes of me really working with her for her to get it. And I didn't even lose my patience for the whole 20 minutes!! That was my accomplishment for the day :)

Anyway, here she is in all her glory! She is so proud of herself.

By the way - this is her awesome bike that someone was just going to throw away until I rescued it out of their junk pile!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Satan Hates Sprinkles

This is my favorite blog post that I have read this week. If you've never visited the (In)Courage site, you really really should. Anyway, this is the post that was on their site this morning. I just love it and hope that I can start looking at defeat this way. Enjoy!

Satan Hates Sprinkles

My dad is famous for his optimism; as far as most people are concerned he is completely candy-coated. He lives out James 1:2 unlike anyone I have ever met. “Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds.” That’s my dad, joy in the face of trial.

When I was growing up my siblings and I never had problems--we had opportunities. We didn’t have hardships--we learned lessons. We were always “better than we deserved”, “at an all time high” and super “f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c”!

Even when joy didn’t make sense.

As a young girl I remember a time when my dad ran for School Board re-election. I felt nervous about the outcome of the race and I recall asking my dad what he would do if he lost. He smiled his usual smile and laughed his usual laugh then said, “If I lose, you and I will go out for hot-fudge sundaes.”

Before I was old enough to appreciate the spiritual application, I remembered how odd it was to celebrate losing.

After all, nothing screams defeat like confetti and balloons.

Or does it? Celebration in the midst of struggle is odd for our human nature because it can’t be attained without God. It can often be the only weapon we have that keeps us from falling.

Our common enemy has come to “kill, steal and destroy but Christ has come to give us abundant life” John 10:10. Praise and thankfulness throw a big chink in the chain Satan specially designed to keep us down and out.

My dad ended up losing the re-election that year, and he could have gotten angry. He could have demanded a recount. He could have scorned his opponent and vented his frustration. He could have wallowed, but he would have promptly chained himself in bitterness.

Instead he kept his word and we went out for ice cream. In this particular situation I watched my dad rejoice rather than rant, and thanks to my dad, the joy of the Lord tastes a lot like sundaes with sprinkles on top.

by Ginny Martyn

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

Call me crazy, but I was totally in the Christmas mood today. It was a perfectly beautiful day here in Minnesota! The sun was shining and it was in the mid-60's! Perfect Christmas weather if you ask me! I even made snickerdoodles.

It was especially nice considering this was the date of the first snowfall last year. I don't know about you, but all I'm asking for for Christmas is more weather like this!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Big Reveal

Our home's exterior is finally painted! It's taken two years and countless hours of phone calls to contractors who never showed up to get it done, but it's done! Britney and I decided to tackle the repairs ourselves and thanks to the help of our good friends, they really weren't all that bad.

My job was the stucco. Britney's job was the OLD gutters :) We have what are called box gutters on our house. They're basically a wooden box lined with galvanized tin that are built into the rafter tails along the roof line. NO ONE that we called or had out to look at them had ever seen gutters like ours before. That was comforting. Anyway, Britney and Cameron did a super job on them. They're gorgeous and add so much to the character of our old girl.

So, just in case you forgot, here's a before picture. Our house was built in 1885, heavily remodeled in the 1920s and then owned by the same family for over 40 years from the late 1940s/early 1950s until the 1990s. We were very very nervous about changing the color because the house is kind of an icon in Adrian. Everyone knows it as Doc Neely's house and EVERYONE has an opinion about it. So, here you go -


After MONTHS of agonizing over the right color to go along with our beautiful red scalloped roof, I of course ended up with the first color I picked out way back in April :) It's called Roycroft Bronze Green by Sherwin Williams. The trim is Navajo White by TruValue and the windows are (or will all eventually be) black.

We love it! It was funny when we were having it painted, so many people would stop and comment on how good it looked - after just the gray primer coat went on. Then once the color went on and the front was finished, we got even more compliments. In fact we still get compliments on it almost every day.

I think the porch is my favorite part of the whole house. I thought I wanted the trim around the front door to be cream and just the doors to be black, but the painter painted this part when I wasn't home and this is what he did. I LOVE it! When I got home and it was done, all I wanted to do was sit outside and enjoy the new "view." It was so much better than the school bus yellow one before.

I wanted the porch ceiling to resemble those of old Southern plantation homes, but a sky blue would have looked horrible next to the green. So, we went a little more gray and used TruValue Chicken Wire. It's perfect. And I will admit that the painter was not sure at all about my color choice for the ceiling until he got it all painted. Then he actually admitted that he liked it :) It's hard to tell from the pictures, but it's kind of a blue gray. This is my favorite view out the front door (minus all the kid equipment).

That's one big project that we can mark off our list. Of course three more smaller projects were added to the bottom after this big one was taken care of, but hey - at least we have something pretty to look at now!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Recipe Wednesday

Hey - what d'ya know! Two days in a row. That must be some kind of streak, right?

Anyway, I made this soup for dinner last night. I wasn't sure how it would turn out since it had been one of those afternoons and I kept running out of ingredients. Britney went to the store for me the second time :) I think he would say the soup was worth the trip! Hope you enjoy it! It's great for a chilly fall evening.

Creamy Potato Soup

3 cups diced potatoes, unpeeled
1 cup sliced carrots
4 tbsp. butter
1/2 of a large onion, diced
4 tbsp. flour
2 1/2 cups milk
4 cups chicken broth
8 oz. cream cheese, cut into pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the potatoes, carrots, onions and chicken broth in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add pepper and salt to taste. Once boiling, reduce heat and continue to cook until vegetables are tender (about 15 minutes). In a small saute pan, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook about a minute. Slowly whisk in milk. Lower heat, add cream cheese and continue whisking until the cream cheese is incorporated. Add cream cheese mixture to the simmering vegetables. Continue to simmer on med-low heat until ready to serve.

We topped the soup off with some grated cheese and some bacon. Delicious!

I used red potatoes for this recipe, but the recipe says you can use either red or Yukon gold.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy Halloween!

So, I guess I'm back. At least for awhile. Things here were crazy busy this fall. They still are, but I'm finding myself with a little more "free" time so I figured I should jump back into blogging.

This year for halloween, the kids were the Cat in the Hat and a bat. Their costumes were pretty easy to make, and since it's something I like to do, I didn't mind :) Actually, making their costumes is something I plan to do until they want otherwise. Honestly, it's a bit of an ego boost when one of the neighborhood dads has to come out every year to see what my kids' costumes are. Ever since the combine, which he was still talking about at the neighborhood picnic this year.

Anyway, we only took a couple of pictures. Halloween was a whirlwind day with our friends moving to western South Dakota that day. Their kids were here playing most of the day while the parents loaded up their stuff to head out. At the last minute I decided that our porch needed to be a little festive. Ashlyn got in on the fun by making the cute spiders that we stuck in the webs.

Now I guess it's on to planning for Thanksgiving, Christmas and our trip to Georgia!

Friday, September 11, 2009


I will never forget where I was 8 years ago today. I was sitting at work, pregnant with Ashlyn, when I got an email from my sister Jill saying a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. I went online looking for more information and then the guys that I worked with came pouring out of their offices and turned on the TV in the conference room. We all sat in stunned silence and watched the news coverage for the rest of the day.

The first thing I remember thinking was, "What are we doing bringing a child into the middle of WWIII?!"

Over the past year, Britney and I have watched several movies about that horrible day. And this summer, I finally read Lisa Beamer's book - Let's Roll - about her husband Todd's role in that day. Going through all of the emotions and thoughts of that day all over again gave me a renewed sense of gratitude for our military men and women who are still fighting for our freedom. And also how God protected some, but chose to use some so that His glory would be seen even on that dreadful day.

All of the events of the last few weeks - thinking of Sept. 11 and our "enemies", adopting a soldier to send care packages to, reading through the Psalms and remembering how David was surrounded by his enemies and crying out to the Lord to save him - got me thinking about how my life is different today than it was 8 years ago.

I now have two children to raise in a fallen world. I have friends with problems so great I don't even know how to begin to help them. I live in a podunk little town that would probably be one of the last places on earth to be bombed by a terrorist. I can let my kids walk down the block with no real worry that they will be taken by the child molester in the white van.

But the true enemy is still around us every day. All of those things COULD still happen here. I'm not naive enough to think that they couldn't.

But the Lord pressed upon me something very clearly this morning on my walk. As Christians, the battle has already been fought and won. No matter what earthly enemy we're fighting - it's done. We win.

So, as we remember this day, let's mourn those who lost their lives, pray for those who are still fighting for our freedom, but most importantly, let's go out and fight for the ones who don't have HOPE - who don't know Jesus.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Day of Second Grade

Today was Ashlyn's first day of second grade. She has grown up so much this summer. No more kisses at her locker when I drop her off. But, at least she did still need me to walk her to school this morning :) I thought I was ready for her to be independent, but now that she's actually starting to want some, I'm not sure I'm ready!

As for Carter...well, let's just say school for him starts next Monday and I think this may be the longest week of my life. He's been up since 6:45 and I don't think his mouth has stopped once. Well, maybe once to eat a couple of bites of breakfast. Did I mention he starts school Monday???

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Details, Schmetails

This past weekend we took an impromptu trip to Omaha to see the airshow and go to the zoo after our painter called and said he wouldn't be able to start working on our house until the 8th. We had a great weekend doing fun family stuff. And spent one afternoon in Lincoln, Nebraska, looking at minivans I had found on Auto Trader.

After looking at a few vans over the past few months, we just weren't finding one that was what we wanted at a price we were willing to pay. Until we got to Lincoln.

We found a van, equipped exactly the way we wanted, the color we wanted at the exact price we said we would be willing to pay. We weren't in a pinch financially by buying the van, so we figured we'd sell the Passat as soon as we could, but weren't in a rush to do so.

Imagine our surprise and delight when we sold it tonight - for the exact price we said we wanted for it. To the first person who came to look at it, without even advertising it. The guy who bought it works with a friend of ours right here in Adrian.

Now, you tell me. Do you think God is in the details?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Catchin' Up

This summer has been a whirlwind. We had family visit, Ashlyn and I went to Disney, we took a little trip to Okoboji, Iowa (courtesy of Britney's Uncle Doug and Aunt Kris). We went to the Sioux Falls Airshow and did some major work on our house. I finally feel like I can breathe a little and thought it would be a good time to catch up on blogging!

Here are some random pictures of the things we did this summer. I hope you enjoy them!

I also hope to start recipe Wednesdays back up again. And will hopefully have some awesome "before and afters" to show of some projects from the summer!

Monday, August 17, 2009

I Hit The Mother Load!

Today the kids and I went to Sioux Falls for some shopping. I decided to hit the thrift stores since it was National Thrift Store Shopping Day. Bet you didn't know that one, did you?

I love to shop at thrift stores. I'm not usually big on buying clothes or shoes there, but today was the exception. I found Carter 3 shirts and a pair of shorts, a pair of pants for Ashlyn, a brand new dress for me (still had the tags) and 2 pairs of boots for me. One pair I had been looking for for over 5 years!!! The other ones were just for good measure. The best part - my total! Only $22 for ALL of that! The dress alone was originally over $60 :)

The only bummer was the $4 pair of Steve Madden boots that my feet absolutely refused to fit into. I sadly left them behind...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Product Review

Tonight we froze some sweet corn so that we can have that yummy summer taste in the dead of winter when it's 20 below outside.

The "product review" is for the new Kernel Cutter from Pampered Chef. Yes, I used to be a consultant, but that was a couple of years ago. I had a party in May and ordered this just to see if it was any good. Some of the other tools that have been tried failed miserably, and we all just went back to using good old knives.

Not anymore! This new tool is AWESOME! I could fly through the ears of corn, my hand didn't get tired, and there wasn't nearly the waste on the cob. It was well worth the $7.50! Fabulous!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Out of the Mouth of Babes

So today Carter and I had a conversation that went something like this.

Carter: "Mom, when can I watch TV?"

Me: "When mommy's show is over, then you can watch."

Carter: "Well, how long will that be?"

Me: "Just a few minutes."

Carter: "Well, how many is that?"

Me: "You just need to learn to be patient"

Carter: "That will take too long."

I couldn't have said it better myself!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Adding Another Line to the Resume

So, tomorrow I'm going to try my hand at stucco. Yep, stucco.

We've been trying for over a year to have our house painted. The kicker is that before we can have it painted, there are a few things that need to be repaired. The stucco is one of them. It's not too bad - just a couple of spots where the stucco has come loose from the lath, has cracked and is starting to come off. There are 3 spots that are probably 6 square feet each. Then a couple of other smaller areas.

Why am I doing it? Because the one thing I really really really really hate about living here is the construction industry. There's only a few months a year when it's even possible to do work on the outside of your house. So, I started back in April calling contractors, for the second year in a row. I finally found a reliable painter. But, finding someone to fix the other things has been next to impossible. I've had a few people come out and look at what we need done, but even after umpteen follow-up phone calls, no one gives me a price. We don't want to just say "come do it" and then get a bill for $10,000...

I worked for five years in the commercial construction industry. One of my "jobs" was soliciting bids for our projects. Of course there was always a few contractors who said they would get you a price, but then failed to. But overall, the response was good. I just don't get why they don't need the work - or at least won't tell me they won't do it. They just act like you don't exist.

OK - enough of my rant. If you think of me tomorrow, send up a couple of extra prayers - for wisdom to know what I'm doing and for patience!!!! I'll let you know how it goes. And if it goes really well, I'll even post pictures!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Home Again, Home Again...

Have I really been home almost a week and haven't updated yet? I think I'm in denial that we're actually home and away from family once again. This was probably the most fun trip to Disney World I have had in a very long time. Thanks, Britney, for taking such good care of Carter and letting me go on this trip! I think my mom said it all better than I ever could... Ashlyn and I got back from our trip last Friday. We had such a great time and she was COMPLETELY SURPRISED! It was well worth all of the extra work to make it such a treat for her. We all laughed and cried when she saw my mom (Nana) for the first time. Ashlyn knew we were going to Disney World, but had no idea that anyone else was meeting us there.

Here is a link to all of the videos I took this week. Click on the "see all" link to the right of the first video - there are 6 of them!

Here are some of the pictures from the trip too.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Leavin' On A Jet Plane

Ashlyn and I are heading out in just a few minutes for Minneapolis. Bright and early tomorrow morning we get on an airplane and will meet up with my mom, sisters and niece in Orlando for a few days at Disney World - girls only! The best part is that Ashlyn has no idea!

She thinks we're just going to the Cities for the night to have a mommy/daughter getaway - and to shop at Build-A-Bear. She's going to be so surprised and I hope to capture it all on video!

Britney will be here with Carter until Friday night when we get home. When I asked him what his plans were for the week, he said go karts, fishing, playing - oh and if he gets bad, I'll just put him in here...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Breakfast on the Farm

Today we went out for an event called Breakfast on the Farm. This year it was at our friends Joe and Rita Vander Kooi's farm. They have a dairy farm just south of Worthington.

There were pancakes to eat, tractors to climb on, animals to pet, and a dairy farm to tour. We learned a lot, had a great time together and enjoyed some good food and company!

Just a little info about the Ocheda Dairy...They currently have about 800 cows. Each cow is milked 3 times a day. Each cow also gives about 10 gallons of milk - every day. That sounds like a lot! We got to see some babies that were only about a day old. The milk that they produce is sold and eventually goes into making cheese for McDonald's and Subway.

Carter was in heaven with all of the equipment on display. I wish we had taken the video camera so that you could hear his running commentary on what machine was used for what. It was too cute!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Recipe Wednesday

Finally! Another recipe Wednesday! We've had a busy couple of weeks since the kitchen was finished, and I could finally find my recipes again. Britney's family was here for a visit over the last 10 days or so. They left bright and early at 4:00 this morning - YUCK! No one should ever see that hour of the day (or is it night?)

Anyway, while they were here, we threw a baby shower for our cousin Elin. She's due with their miracle baby in late September. For the party favor, we did cake balls wrapped in cute little baggies with a baby sticker on them all tied up with some pretty ribbon. I'm sure I didn't get a picture...

The cake balls recipe is from Bakerella who I found one day browsing online for baby shower ideas! Perfect!

These little things are so good that Britney's mom and sister decided to rename them Yum Balls.

Cake Balls

1 box Devil's Food Cake Mix - cook as directed on box for 9x13 cake

1 can cream cheese frosting - 16 oz.

1 package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate) - I used almond bark because our rinky-dink town doesn't have anything else...

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.

2. Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting. (It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.)

3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. (I got between 40-45)

4. Chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.)

5. Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.

6. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)

We found that these are the best around the 2nd day after you make them. They almost melt in your mouth!! Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I love softball. I had forgotten how much until I started playing on a rec league recently.

Last night was only our second game. Britney, Monte, Christian and the kids came to the game to watch me play. Apparently we need to work on the strategy of the game with Carter. The second time I was up to bat, I was waiting for a good pitch, so I let the first two go by. I could hear that little boy yelling from the time I stepped into the batter's box. "Go Mama!" Then when the first pitch went by and I didn't swing, I heard, "Why didn't you hit that?" Then when the second pitch went by, I started getting pointers from my 4 year old. "You have to swing to hit the ball, Mom!" It was hilarious!

But I must admit that I love hearing him yell, "Hey Mama!" every time he sees me run out to the field. He stands in the bleachers with a huge smile on his face waving his heart out!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Riding a Bicycle

For those of you with kids who already know how to ride a 2-wheeler, how in the world did you teach them to ride?

Ashlyn is 7 and got an awesome bike a couple of months ago. I found it for FREE when I was junking in the Cities with my friend Jackie. But that's a whole other post...

Most of Ashlyn's friends can ride without training wheels and she desperately wants to be able to also. We've been working at it for a couple of months, but we end up frustrated at each other and call it quits. We've always butted heads on everything. I can't wait until she's a teenager...

So, any tips, suggestions, strong drinks to try afterwards?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Thrifty Wall

I thought I would start with the most fun part of the kitchen for me. It was definitely NOT painting the cabinets. Especially the insides where the backs are beadboard and took three coats...

It's definitely this part of the kitchen!

The picture on the left - the one of the silverware - is something I've seen on several blogs in the last couple of months. I thought it would be so easy and cute to do. I thought I had struck gold when I found a whole shoebox of old silverware at a yard sale last month - for FIFTY CENTS! She even threw in the bottle of Tarn-X to go with it :) Then I found the frame at another yard sale for $1. It just needed a quick spray paint job, some hot glue, and scrapbook paper, and I had myself the first piece of "artwork" for the kitchen!

What I love most about this wall is that nothing (except for the trim - I don't remember how much that was) cost me over $18. I got the table and chairs the first summer after we moved at a flea market that happens here three times a year. I don't even remember what color it was when I got it, but I stripped the paint off of it, stained the top, and painted the legs and chairs to match. I think the chairs were $5 each. And I've definitely gotten my money's worth out of this little set. It's been in the kitchen, on the sunporch, on the front porch, in the living room for small group meals, and finally back in the kitchen.

The lamp is one I've had for years and years. It used to be gold with a champagne colored lampshade. I spent $1.50 on the new finial and the rick rack. I had the toile fabric from the kitchen curtains in our last house. A quick spray paint job, some hot glue and a whole new lamp! For $1.50 :)

My very favorite thing in the new kitchen is the monogram. My good friend Jackie made the vinyl initial and "Fransen" for us for Christmas. I kept it in the closet until I could figure out the perfect place for it. I didn't want to put it on the wall somewhere and then realize I had found a place that I would like it better. I looked for frames, old windows, anything that was big enough to hold the monogram. Then one day I was poking around in the basement and came across that frame. It was just the right size, so I grabbed my black spray paint of course! I had the scrapbook paper, so I just pieced it together inside the frame and finally mounted the monogram. I love it! And it literally cost me less than $1 for this beautiful piece!

So, how about you? What are some of your favorite and thrifty things in your kitchen?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Are You Ready?

If there is anyone still reading this blog after my weeks of being MIA, I can promise you it was worth the wait :)

Are you ready for my new kitchen?

Just so you can see yet again how far we've come - the lovely before picture:

And now...Drumroll, please!

The after!

So, what do you think? I'm hoping there will be several posts over the next few days, breaking down how I did all of this for under $500! You can do it, too!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kitchen Progress in Pictures!

I finally cleaned up the kitchen enough that I'm not totally embarrassed about posting pictures of it. It still has a long way to go, but most of the prep work is finally done.

Just so you can all see how far we've come, here is a before picture.

And here's some with some progress!

It doesn't look like I've done too much for as long as I've been working on it, but the insides of the cabinets HAD to be painted too. They were this hideous orangey-peach color. Thanks to Kasey for the paint color - Cottage White :)

This is the trim we put in on the long wall in the kitchen. The plate rail came out of the Spittle's new old house. They turned their dining room into their school room and the bookshelves wouldn't work with the plate rail up. Lucky us!!!

And finally, a closeup of one of the lights that is going above the sink :)

Maybe in a couple of weeks I can post pictures of the final product!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Kitchen Progress

I've been neck-deep in paint, caulk, trim, paint. Did I say paint???

We started the kitchen re-do about 2 weeks ago. It feels like it's taking forever! Mostly because all of the stuff that used to be in the kitchen is now in the dining room. And all of the stuff that usually lands on the dining room table is now spread all over the rest of the house. And apparently, in our family, when one room is a mess, it becomes OK for the rest of the house to be a mess too. I feel like I'm living in chaos!!!

Anyway, so far I've painted the insides of all my cabinets. They were a hideous peach/orange before. All of the drawers are done and back in, but for some reason, the stuff that goes in them is still piled in the dining room :) One side of all the cabinet doors are done and the other side has one coat of paint. Britney has run the wires for the lights that will go above the sink and installed the trim to hide said wires. We also put up some trim on the long wall in the kitchen that resembles wainscoting. Part of this came out of a house some friends of ours just bought. They took it down and it was just sitting in their basement. Score for us!!

Tonight I painted the thing I've been dying to paint. I think it's what will make the room. The island that has been the thorn in my side since we moved in is now...BLACK! I love it. Love, love, love it. True, the function of it didn't change at all, but at least now it's pretty :) I also painted our window sashes black. It was dark out by the time I started painting those and they seem to just disappear. It's really cool!

I know you're all wanting pictures to go along with this much overdue post, but I just can't bring myself to put some up tonight. The kitchen is a disaster because I was also making cupcakes today for the picnic we're going to tomorrow and couldn't find a place for everything. So, it's all over the counter. Maybe tomorrow you'll get a picture. For now, I'm going to sleep!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Recipe Wednesday

As promised, two recipes today!!

Cheesy Nacho Bake
1 lb. ground beef
1 an (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, with juice
1 can refried beans
1/4 cup water
1 pkg. taco seasoning
3/4 cup sour cream
6 oz. tortilla chips (7 cups)
1 1/2 cups shredded Colby & Monterrey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Brown meat in large skillet; drain. Add tomatoes, beans, water and seasoning mix; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in sour cream.

Place half of the chips in a 9x13 baking dish; cover with half each of the meat mixture and cheese. Repeat layers.

Bake 20 minutes or until heated through. Garnish with salsa if desired.

Quick and Easy Brownies

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Melt the butter and mix all ingredients. Bake at 350 for about 30-40 minutes in a 9x13 inch greased pan.

I'd love to hear from you if you try one of my recipes!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Imagine my surprise when my normally up with the sun son and daughter let me sleep in until 8:00!! I couldn't believe it when I finally woke up. I came down and gave them both giant hugs and told them thank you so much for letting me sleep! It was the best Mother's Day present ever :) The only thing that topped sleeping was the homemade cards that they had been working on all morning. I love Mother's Day!

So, to Bebe and Nana, Happy Mother's Day to you too! We wish we could be there with you today. We love you!

It's been a very busy week here. With school winding down, spring finally here and another remodeling project underway, I've just felt a tiny bit overwhelmed. Sorry for no recipe Wednesday...Maybe there will be two next week!

My first Mother's Day in 2002 with Britney's mom, sister and my mom.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Because I couldn't pick just one...

Today is the Remodeling Roundup over at the Remodeling Guy. But, I have 2 projects...because I can't pick just one :)

One of the things Britney has dreamed about since we got married and bought our first home (and surround sound system) is having a true home theater - you know with the 110" screen and theater seating, preferably in the basement where there is little to no light. There are big plans for our basement here, but for now, it's full of the corn boiler and other projects that I never seem to get around to...

So, for now his Media Room is the old maid's room just off of the kitchen. The only before picture I have is from just after we moved in. Our old TV died just after our furniture arrived from Georgia, so in true redneck style, we just left it and put the smaller TV in front of it until we could haul it away..

We've since gotten new furniture and a new working TV. The ceiling is wallpaper that was painted to look like an old copper ceiling. It's OK, but drives me nuts! But for now, it will have to do until we can do it up right!

We added picture molding about one foot below the ceiling to help bring the height down a little. All of the ceilings on our first floor are over 10 feet. Not exactly comfy, cozy, home-theater-ish.

We painted, walls and trim. The walls are Ben Moore Phillipsburg Blue and the trim is Ace - Beautiful Brown Eyes. Both are in eggshell.

The windows are mistreated! My first ones ever and it took some creative thinking, but we got there. I still need some big lamps for the sofa table and a few more things to go on the wall AND to finish painting and hanging the doors on the closets, but we're almost there!

And just because this is the most involved remodeling project I've ever done...The windows - again :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Recipe Wednesday and a Remodeling Roundup!

It's a cool, rainy, dreary day here in MN. The kind of weather that makes me wish for a warm, yummy desert. So, today it's Apple Crumb Cake! This has to be one of the easiest recipes I've ever made, but it's always a hit where ever I take it. My friend Kathy gave this recipe to me probably 9 years ago and it's still a favorite! Now excuse me, I need to go run to the store...

Apple Crumb Cake

2 cans pie filling
1 box WHITE cake mix
1 stick of butter, softened
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Pour pie filling into 9x13 baking dish. In a separate bowl, combine cake mix with butter (will be crumbly when mixed). Add nuts and lemon juice. Pour over pie filling. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until top is golden brown.

I've also used blueberry, cherry, and strawberry pie filling. Every one of them is delicious, but apple is my favorite!

Now onto the remodeling roundup part...
Ready for the Round Up?
The Remodeling Guy is hosting a remodeling roundup on Friday - May 1. I've been meaning to post about it for about a week, but I've been busy trying to get my projects finished!!!

Be sure to link up with RG on Friday and show off all of those awesome projects you've done - or even some that are in the process or that you're still just dreaming of. It's sure to be a great place for inspiration and you may even win a prize or two!!

Happy Hammering!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Childhood Bedroom

Today, Misti over at Studio M Designs is having her first Mr. Linky party where we get to show off our childhood bedrooms. I want her first party to be a huge success, so I decided to join in - even though I don't have any pictures. This is one of those times I wish I could run over to Mom and Dad's and grab those wonderful shots of our bedroom from 1984!

My sister Jill and I shared a room until I was 16. Our room went through several redecorating phases, but I think the room I remember most vividly was our "heart room." It had white walls with bright royal blue trim. Yes - royal blue. Our beds were white, but I don't really remember what style they were. I think they could've been bunked but we never had them that way. You know - because bunk beds are dangerous and all.

Our comforters were white with different colored hearts all over them and my mom had stenciled hearts around the top of the room - in all different colors to match the comforter. I remember many nights lying in bed and counting the hearts until I fell asleep.

We also had this awesome (at least I think so now) old vanity with a huge round mirror. I'm sure that when we got older, we were too cool for it and needed something much more fashionable. But now I wish we still had it. I could come up with some really great ideas for that piece!

The last thing I remember were these blue pieces of lattice or something similar that were mounted above our headboards and there were little hearts that were supposed to look like flowers peeking out around the "fences".

I'm sure if I found pictures of it now, I would think it was a pretty ugly room :) But there were lots of great memories made in that room - and lots of great sisterly fights too! Thanks, Mom, for making our room fun, and I'm sure for putting up with all of the "wants" that we had!

So, how about you? Go on over to Misti's and tell us about your childhood room. Or better yet - post pictures if you have them!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Recipe Wednesday

At least you know there will be something new to read on Wednesdays! Hopefully I'll do better about posting with some projects finishing up in the next week or so...Here you go!

Tortellini with Tomato Basil Cream Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
4 teaspoons dried leaf basil
2 teaspoons fresh minced parsley
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 pound cheese tortellini, cooked (I usually do at least 1 1/2 pounds and there is plenty of sauce!)

Blend bouillon granules with basil, 2 tablespoons parsley, and pepper into the crushed tomatoes. Saute the garlic in olive oil. Add tomato mixture and bring just to a simmer. Add cream and bring to a SLOW boil. Add the Parmesan cheese. Stir well and stir the tortellini into the sauce. Enjoy!

For some reason, I have a hard time finding cheese tortellini here, so I substitute cheese ravioli and it works just fine! Let me know if you make this recipe. I'd love to hear your reviews!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Recipe Wednesday

It's Wednesday, and you know what that means! A new recipe :)

Minnesota Pork Chops

6 Pork Chops
Salt and pepper to taste
1 box Uncle Ben's Wild Rice
2 cups water
1 (8 oz.) can mushrooms (I omit this!!)
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules (I buy the cubes in bulk at Sam's and then crush 3 of them for this recipe)
1 (10.75 oz.) can condensed cream of chicken (or cream of mushroom) soup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a skillet with a small amount of oil, brown the chops seasoned with salt and pepper.
Spray a large 9x13 inch casserole dish with nonstick spray. Sprinkle the rice and seasoning packet evenly in the bottom of dish.
Add water and mushrooms. Sprinkle with chicken bouillon. Arrange the chops on top and spoon soup over chops and rice. Cover casserole with aluminum foil and seal tightly. Bake for 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours or until rice and chops are tender.

Let me know if you make this recipe and how you like it! It's one of our family's favorites!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Recipe Wednesday

It seems I'm somewhat known now for my culinary expertise :) Don't let those fancy words fool you. They really just mean that I can follow a recipe really really well! So, here's the first of my recipe Wednesdays!

This is a recipe everyone in our house loves. We usually eat it for breakfast, but it makes a good snack too. The original recipe I got was for muffins, but whenever I tried it as muffins, they always caved in the middle. So now I just put it in a casserole dish and bake it that way. Then we cut it into squares and enjoy!

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Bread

1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda

Mix all together
Add to dry mix:
1 cup milk
1 egg
3/4 cup oil

Grease 9 x 13 pan. Pour batter into pan and bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes.

If you make it, let me know how it turns out!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Yesterday was our 11th anniversary. Time feels like it has flown by and stood still all at the same time. I don't think of myself as being old enough to have been married for 11 years. But at the same time, I'm so glad we're in the groove we're in now. We're best friends. We love each other so much and have finally figured out how to show each other that. Dishes, laundry for me and cooking good food for him - that's how :)

We have a very unique situation. Britney works out of our house, so we are literally together all of the time. For me, this hasn't always been a good thing. But, like I said before, we're in our groove and things work really well for us. I am so thankful for the situation the Lord has put us in and even though it was really really really rough for me when Britney first started working from home, I truly believe that we went through that adjustment four years ago, when we lived in GA close to family and friends instead of now - when we're halfway across the country.

I am so thankful for that and for the wonderful husband that the Lord has blessed me with! I love you Britney and look forward to eleventy more anniversaries!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Trying Something New

Sometimes I get stuck in a rut with the kids and food. You know - buying the same prepackaged snacks at the store, making the same sandwiches for lunches, yada yada yada.

But today I bought the Magic Kitchen Cookbook at the book fair at the school and I have a plan...

Each week, each child gets to pick one thing to make with me out of the cookbook. That way, they have a say in what they want to make and I get to spend some quality time with them in the kitchen, teaching them all of those important kitcheny things! And we hopefully get out of the Goldfish Popcorn Puffs rut that we've been in forever!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My 10 Minute Curtain Fix

I was having a hard time finding curtains for Carter's room before the tour of homes in December. So, I borrowed a trick from my sister Pam - use sheets! If I had found Nester before, I would've saved myself even more time and trouble. Oh well.

These "curtains" are flat sheets that I bought on clearance. I cut and added the red section to the bottom for some interest, but I still just wasn't happy with how they were hanging.

I had bought these wooden appliques on clearance at WalMart last year sometime. I knew I'd find something to do with them. I just wasn't sure when or what it would be. I had the ribbon upstairs in my ribbon stash and one day just couldn't take the sloppy curtains anymore!

So I pulled out my glue gun, glued the ribbon and applique on and Voila! They look so much better and let in so much more light! I love them!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ashlyn is 7

This is one of the many posts I started a couple of weeks ago and then got distracted and never got around to posting. I know it's VERY LATE, but I still need to celebrate my girl!

I can't believe Ashlyn is 7. We had a fun-filled weekend of celebrating her and I think she enjoyed every minute of it! Friday (her actual birthday), we went out to eat at the Brazilian steak house here - her new favorite place to eat. You would not believe how much that little girl ate! And topped it all off with a piece of chocolate cake!

Saturday, she had a few friends over for a small birthday party. Carter got to invite his best friend from preschool, Quentin. These boys are two peas in a pod. Ashlyn had a great time at her party and got to spend the afternoon playing with some great friends.

And just because we aim to please, her only unfulfilled request was to go ice skating. So, we headed over to the arena Sunday for open skate and played around on the ice for about an hour. After that we were all pooped and ready to get out of those uncomfortable skates!

Here's a little video...

And you can check more of the action out here.

And pictures of the rest of the weekend here.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Sweet Girl

I just love it when Ashlyn brings books from her class home. Today it was one called "Friendship Letters." Most of the letters were things like How are you today? You are an awesome friend. I love your hair. You get the idea.

Here is Ashlyn's. I think it shows her sweet heart and how she always tries her best at everything she does. I hope you enjoy it!

"Dear Julia,
I hope you had a nice Christmas. How many presents did you get? I hope you got what you wanted from santa.
Your friend,

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A New Direction

I've decided to take my blog in a new direction. Since we've been here almost two years now, there's not many of the "guess what we discovered today!" entries anymore. We're settled and really enjoying living here.

With that being said, I've decided that this blog will mostly now have posts about our house. The things we find, the things we do, the things I do that I wish I hadn't done :) I'm sure there will be the cute stories about the kids too, but mostly it will probably be about the house - hopefully with lots of pictures.

I caught the bug of owning an old house just after high school when I saw a house that was built in the early-mid 1800s literally transformed into a masterpiece. The first time I saw it, it had no indoor plumbing, the floors looked like sandpaper, and the old pot-bellied stove in the kitchen. When the owners were finished, it was gorgeous! That was all it took for me. I knew one day I wanted to own an old house and make her into a masterpiece.

We've gotten a pretty good start on transforming our house and making it ours. There has been a lot of "behind the scenes" work, like plumbing leaks fixed, upgrading the electrical so that we can actually plug more than 2 things in upstairs, fixing a leaky roof that had been disguised with wallpaper on the ceiling, etc.

Hopefully there will be lots of pictures of works in progress. Today I finished taking down the border in the TV room and sanded all of the woodwork so that I can start priming it tomorrow. Feels like the start of another big project...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy "Balemtime's" Day!

That's how Ashlyn used to say Valentine's. I still think it's the cutest thing.

Britney and I have never really celebrated Valentine's Day. He always told me he didn't need a "certain day" to tell me how much he loved me. It bothered me at first, but he did a pretty good job of making sure I knew he loved me every day, so I got over it.

Our marriage has gotten so much stronger in the last 2 years. Being here, on our own, without our parents or other family members to run to when things get hard or we need to "escape," we've had to stick together and work things out. Ironically, I would say we've had fewer disagreements and arguments. Sometimes it's hard not to have that escape, but I wouldn't trade the way my marriage is now for anything.

Over the last year, we've seen couples go through various separations. Remember my posts about the Spittles? They were separated for weeks, but they were following God's plan for their family by adopting two more children. Watching them come back together at the airport was heart-wrenching! It was bittersweet to see the joy and the pain that that separation brought. And to witness the love that the whole family has for each other.

We've had other friends who also separated this year. Sometimes it was purely selfish motives, sometimes it was out of necessity. Some of them have gotten back together. Some of them we're still praying for that to happen.

As we've had conversations about all of these situations, the one thing that Britney and I always come back to is that we made a covenant before the Lord - for better or worse until death do us part. Neither of us takes that lightly. And because we've seen the struggles and successes of our friends this year, Britney decided it was time to celebrate Valentine's Day together. To reinforce that bond that holds us together.

So, whether your marriage is rock-solid or feels like it's on shifting sand, take tomorrow to make sure your partner knows that you are committed to that covenant that you also made before the Lord. Tell them you love them and then work on ways to show them that love that really speaks to them. The difference can be in the tiniest detail like making the bed or it can be in something huge like saying I'm sorry for a hurt that happened so many years ago. Whatever it is, take the time to figure out your spouse and then do it. Remember something my mother always told me: Actions speak louder than words!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Nothing Says "I Love You" Like...

Ripping out that bump-thing that was bugging you!

I decided to strip wallpaper in 3 rooms last weekend and "take my time" re-doing them. Well, I'm not sure yet how that's going to work out since I don't really know how to take my time at anything.

Case in point. I had been asking all week what Britney thought about ripping that "thing" out. I keep calling it a thing because I don't know the technical term and I'm too lazy to go find out what it is.

Anyway, yesterday I asked AGAIN if I could poke just a small hole in it to make sure there was nothing running through it (like pipes or wires). Britney said yes, so made a LITTLE hole in it, but of course we couldn't really see anything. So, my wonderful husband whacked a HUGE hole in it and declared that it could in fact, come down!

HOORAY! What a difference taking that thing out made. Everyone may not notice it, but I love how much more open our kitchen seems.

OH! And I almost forgot the best part! When he was knocking it out, he found an envelope from the people who owned our house for almost 50 years, the Nealys. It states:
"On Dec. 9th, 1958, Mr. Joe Kramer built this drop in our home. Our family are David 20 - Timothy 18 - Sally 15 - Mark 15 and Peggy Ellen 9 years of age. At this time we also put new green tile in downstairs bathroom. Ellen Nealy."

How cool is that!!! And, want to guess what my next question to Britney was???

Yep! What else can we knock down to look for another cool note!