Friday, June 29, 2012

Weekly Random Photos

Last week, neighbor Brenda called.  She usually comes over except when she's in a hurry.  She called to tell me there was a groundhog in our little garden eating our vegetables.

I hurried outside.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do.

I grabbed an old board from our stack of firewood to shoo it away but I wish I would have grabbed the camera instead. 

He was definitely  a sight. 

Our little garden though, despite groundhogs and a regular lack of watering on my part, is plowing along fine.

 Poor James.  I'm like the kid who begged for a dog and promised to walk and feed him everyday and then forgot.  Except, I asked for a garden and I didn't really have to beg for it (because he really want one too).  But, I did say I would water it everyday and give it lots of love.

But we've harvested plenty of zucchini and squash as well as some bell peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  This is our latest picks from Saturday. 

In addition to Punxsutwaney Phil visiting our garden, a snake has taken up residence.  We saw him while watering the garden on Saturday morning.  It made my heart skip a beat when it reared it's head and slithered under the zucchini. 

Of course, the boys were excited.  Lucky for me they forgot about that critter catching rule back  here.

And lucky for me that neighbor Wayne and Carolyn were out in their yard cleaning their garage and mind their own business when I screamed (maybe a little too loud).  Wayne jumped over the fence to make sure it wasn't poisonous.

It wasn't.  As a matter of fact, Wayne said he eats the bugs in the garden and actually fights poisonous snakes.  So, I probably won't scream quite as loud next time I see him.  But I'm sure my heart will still skip a beat.

Still, I think that was enough watering for the day but since we already had the water hose on...

We might as well make good use of it.

And  since we were already wet, we might as well go swimming.  So we headed to the pool.  John is wearing Cardi and Bella's old floating swimsuit.  He loves it!  He paddles around the pool and doesn't mind one bit that he's wearing a purple and yellow girl swimsuit.  Makes my heart smile.
 And this makes my heart smile too.  Cardi taking time out to teach Jackson how to swim.  She's such a big help especially this summer.

 See all that white stuff on Bella's forehead and hair?  Yogurt.  She ate a hot pepper from the garden.  The internet recommended milk, yogurt, or dreamcicle.  When I handed  her the yogurt I thought she was going to eat it.  I didn't realize she was going to smear it all over her face.  (  =
 See that speck in the distance?  That's Meredith.  She wandered off while a large group of us were at the park.  (I should probably mention that we never lost sight of her so her Grandmas don't worry).

 And then she wandered back.

 And we were very glad she did.

And then we headed to the Oak Ridge Art Center to fulfill some Faith in God requirments (learn more here)  for the girls and just for fun only to find out they were in between exhibits.

 We spent the rest of the week hanging out at home and the park across the street climbing trees and swinging.

Summer is slipping by so fast. I wish it would slow down just a little or pause long enough so that I can savor the moments. The ones when the kids are not fighting or complaining about having to pick up after themselves. ( =

Friday, June 22, 2012

All I wanted was to vacuum...

Last year, we decided to take the TV and computer out of the livingroom and make it a reading room.  I loved it.  It was peaceful and quiet (well as quiet as it can be with 5 kids). 

It had this wonderful ambience without the TV or computer blaring.  Our 1940's rental doesn't have a family or media room so it took some planning but we made it work.

Last  week James and I decided we would buy one large family gift (meaning an  XBox ) for Christmas and then maybe one or two small presents for each kid.

So in anticipation of our Christmas purchase, James and I moved this lovely TV armoire that our friend Beth gave us out of our bedroom. 

I was pretty sad to see it leave.  I was even more sad to say goodbye to our quiet livingroom and reading nook and my projectless summer.

Moving the armoire in the livingroom meant something had to go to make room.  So,  I started with our little burgundy colored love seat that James ' colleague gave us when he moved to Washington State.  Lucky man and lucky us because we inherited a bunch of furniture his wife didn't want to drag across country with them.

I also had to move the China cabinet because the only cable cord available in the entire room just happens to be on the wall dividing the diningroom and livingroom. 

Then the bookcase didn't look right on the far wall so I tossed all the books and trinkets in a couple of baskets (which sat there for the rest of the week) and then I dragged the computer armoire out of the sunroom.

And I still hated it. I hated the kids eating in front of the tv and the computer constantly on and the blah feeling I had every time I walked in the room.

And then I gave up and left the whole mess for the fall.

Except on Monday, I figured I should vacuum. Because maybe a clean floor will help me love the room more. It didn't. I still hate the room and you know what I hate those beige accent walls the previous tenants left too.

So while my husband was off at work, I painted them blue. Then I painted the fireplace white.  

Then my husband (who really liked those beige walls) came home.   And I had to plead guilty to painting the walls because I was the only one covered in blue and white paint...or that may have been some gray hair.  And then I said, "I'm pretty sure there is something wrong with me. Maybe it's a painting addiction or maybe I can only go so long without a project?" 

And then he smiled and hugged me and said he like them.  So, I think I'll keep him.

And then we all went to bed except I couldn't sleep so I got up at 11 pm and I dragged our burgundy loveseat back into the livingroom.  I found an old yellow slipcover in my curtain box and slipped it on.  It has several holes that I had stitched up previously but it should last a while longer. 

I pushed the computer armoire back into the sunroom (where I made a solemn vow to never move it eye rolling please) and pushed that heavy duty tv armoire all the way to the other side of the room where it will stay until we move. 

And then I slid the buffet table from the diningroom to the livingroom, dragged the trunk from the sunroom  and then I climbed into bed around 1am exhausted.

And then 4 hours later, James' alarm went off.  He rolled over and kissed me and said "Goodmorning.  I love you."

And then I slowly pulled the pillow over my face and said, "I see you haven't gone into the livingroom yet." 

And then I complained that my whole body hurt from pushing and pulling furniture.  And then he chuckled and got out of bed and went to survey the damage.

Then he stuck his head in the door and said "I love you.  It looks good."

And then I rolled over and said.  "Do you love me enough to drill a hole in the floor and reroute the cable for me before you go to work?"

And guess what he did and he never complained once. 

So, here's our new livingroom.  It's bright and cheerful!  I love it. 
I was able to recreate a relaxing sitting area and little reading nooks all over the room.

I borrowed the "Family Rules"  board from the breakfast nook.  Right now the frames are empty.  I haven't decided whether to put family photos in them or to add more rules in each frame.  But I've got all summer so I'm in no hurry.

I couldn't afford to buy new furniture, curtains or paint so I looked around the house and worked with what I had. The best part is I made all the changes for about $75.  I picked up the pillows for $8 each at Dollar General.  I already had the paint from last summer when I painted an accent wall in the laundry room and kitchen.  I picked up some different spray paints for about $15 at Walmart.  I also found the green contact/shelving paper at the Dollar Tree for $1.  It was a great find and helped inspire the rest of the room.

This is what the trunk looked like before.

These 2 photos are the same except for the clock near the fireplace.  I'm not sure whether to keep it or not. What do you think?

I stashed little baskets full of books throughout the room and nestled some old cushions from a loveseat we took to the dump at the end of the couch along with all the old throw pillows from our current couch so the kids could relax reading or watching tv on the floor.

Oh and so I had to play around a little in the diningroom too because I moved the buffet table to the livingroom.  I just added a small shelf and used the same green contact paper I used on the trunk and large picture frame to make a menu board.  Oh and I vacuumed.  (  =

Oh and I may have rearranged the sunroom.  But for now I have sworn off any more house projects.  (  =

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

Growing up I never had indepth conversations with my Dad.  I didn't play softball or hunt or fish or feign even the slightest interest in football, so mostly our conversations were superficial.  But, oh how I love my Dad!

There is something about him.  A quiet strength.  A steadfastness.  Something I can't quite put my finger on.

I am so grateful for his love and presence in my life. 

And then there is this man.

My father in law.  Worm rancher and cyclist extraordinaire.  Last year he  rode his recumbent all the way from California to Louisiana! 

How I love to watch him interact with his kids and grandkids.  I love the example he sets for those around him especially his sons.  I am so blessed to have his counsel and wisdom in my life. 

He possess that same steadfastness and quiet reserve of my own father.

How I hope to be like him when I grow up.

And then there's this guy...My guy. 

The father of my children and the apple of my eye.

I love his appetite for learning and how that has rubbed off on at least of couple of our kids.  He is sweet and kind and such an example to our children. 

I love that he lets me take photos every Father's Day even if we are running late to church.

 Unlike a certain 6 year old, who was a little upset he couldn't have an oreo truffles for breakfast.
 He couldn't smile even with help.

Every Father's Day I plan to get up early and make breakfast...and every year I fail miserably.  This year, I snuck my cell phone in the bedroom and set the alarm.

James and Jackson fell asleep on the couch watching "The Adventures of Tin Tin" and I didn't want to wake them.  They looked so peaceful plus I might have thought it would be easier to get up early if I got to stretch out on the bed and get a goodnights sleep.

But, when I rolled over this morning, Jackson was nestled next to me, all snug.  And there was my husband standing in the doorway wearing his Moberly football t-shirt covered in flour with a slight mischievous grin on his face.  He had gotten up and made homemade cinnamon rolls. 

And my alarm hadn't even gone off.  In fact it didn't go off until 7 am this morning.  I think someone had tampered with it.  (  =

But I rolled out of bed and thought at least I could throw in a load of laundry so we could have clean towels this morning. 

Already done. 

I even got a back massage this morning.

Hmmmm...I don't think he gets the point of Father's Day and between you and me,  I think he purposefully gets up earlier than me especially on Father's Day. 

Well, next year I have a fool proof plan!

How grateful I am for the men in my life and how much I love and adore them!

So, Happy Father's Day to three of the best men and fathers I know!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Stuffed Sweet Mini Peppers

Spring was crazy.  Spring break, end of the year projects, house projects, painting, company, fund raiser galores, and not to mention yard work projects piling up.

Neighbors Carolyn and Wayne loaned us these to trim the over grown trees in our front yard:
 Probably because they are the nicest neighbors ever or ...  maybe because they were hinting that we are slacking in the yard maintenance department... both of which are true.

One day as I was mowing the yards, our little red mower kept stalling out.  Neighbor Wayne was outside tinkering around.  He yelled over the fence that the grass was too high and I was pushing the mower too fast. 

I sighed and said "thanks for pointing that out"and started the mower again for the fifth time.  As I slowly nudged the mower forward being careful not to push too quickly,  I thought about what Wayne said.  And then I thought about how all those commitments and projects I had taken on were like our over grown grass and how sometimes I felt like our  lawn mower that keeps stalling out because I was trying to do too much too fast.

So this summer as we made our list of summer goals, the very first goal I wrote down was to RELAX and SLOW DOWN.  No house projects or weekly commitments looming over my head, no nagging the kids about chores or cleaning their rooms or wearing shoes...

"Except to the park, Jackson."

 Nope.  Just quality time hanging out with the kids  with as minimal housework and cooking as possible.  Think cold cereal, yogurt, and pasta.  Ahhh...The simple life.

But every once in a while, I get inspired and rummage through my kitchen cabinets and frig to make something yummy.  Last week,  I made these delicious stuffed sweet mini peppers. 

I'm not much for posting recipes.  But, I thought it would be fun to do this post Pioneer Woman Style.  Boy, was I wrong! 

Half way in I had to mediate a squabble about a piece of string that was near and dear to one kid that another kid had tangled in a knot.  And not to mention I kept forgetting to take pictures.  Normally, I would just direct you to the site where I found the  recipe but this is one I made up as I went along so you might want to adjust the amounts here and there.  And maybe politely excuse the poor lighting.  And I promise these look so much better in person and are worth muddling through the post for.

So, here we go.

These are the ingredients you will need.  Oh and some olive oil.  You can use the PAM spray kind or actual oil.  Either works fine.

Just chop about a 1/3 of cup of onion.  I really like red onions but you can use whatever you have on hand.  Sautee with about 2 tsp  of olive oil along with 2 cloves of chopped garlic.

Cook until the onions are soft.  Then toss in  half a bag of frozen spinach...Sorry, I forgot to measure the actual amount.  I may have been distracted by the screams of bloody   murder coming from the kids bedroom.  Turns out they couldn't find the remote control.

When last I  left, I had tossed about 1/2 the bag of frozen spinach in the pan.  Normally, I just
throw the spinach in the microwave and defrost.  Drain it and then add it to the pan.  Either way works.

Then once the spinach is thawed and heated through add a 1/4 cup of cream cheese.  Mix thoroughly, then add a 1/4 cup of feta cheese.  You can turn off the burner and remove  the pan  from the burner.  Stir in 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

You might want to taste the filling at this point to see if you want to add a little more of the feta or parmesan cheese...or just because it looks so good.

 Spray the bottom of the pan with PAM spray so the peppers do not stick.  I sprinkle a little kosher salt on the bottom of the pan.

 Wash and slice about 14 to 16 peppers length wise (depending on the size of the peppers).  Spoon the spinach mixture into the peppers and sprinkle a little more parmesan cheese on top. 
Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

I don't know how Ree does it!  It is so much easier to cook without having to stop and take pictures and wrestle with kids.  But these are so easy and so delicious!  By the way, this spinach filling is great as a side dish or on pasta.

1 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 small red onion chopped or about 1/3 of cup of chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1/2 bag of frozen spinach
1/4 cup cream cheese (light works well)
1/4 cup of feta cheese
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese (freshly grated is best) plus extra to sprinkle on top
14 to 16 sweet mini peppers (I get mine from the Walmart produce section for $2.98 a bag)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Wash the peppers and slice length wise.  Spray the baking dish and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Set aside.

Chop the onion and garlic.  Sautee the onions and garlic with   the olive oil.  Then
add the spinach.  You can add the spinach frozen or cook the desired amount of spinach in the microwave (following the directions on the package.  Then drain the spinach and add to the onions and garlic.)

Mix the spinach in with the onions and garlic.  Then add the cream cheese.  Once the cream cheese is thoroughly mixed with the spinach, add the feta cheese.  Turn off the burner and set the pan aside.  Add the parmesan cheese. 

Then stuff the peppers.  Sprinkle with a little more cheese on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.  These can be served hot or cold.