Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Spring Purging, Cleaning, Organizing, Repurposing

Ok, long time no blog. Sorry~ but I have excellent reasons for keeping quiet. Like a bout with food poisoning, an out of commission camera, a Memorial Day picnic and of course the fact that if I leave my children alone for extended periods of time the chance of a house fire goes up considerably.

Also, most of last week was spent re-organizing and re-configuring my laundry room and basement and logging volunteer hours for CHEC. The basement project is still not done although looking much better than it has in quite a while. We got a really great shelf unit that was needed for expanding our pantry and I love it because it reminds me of the ones you see in industrial kitchens. Next improvement for the basement pantry will (I hope) be the Cansolidator. *swoon*

Also, I completely disassembled my too big sewing table, sawed about 20" off the length (yes, I did) and reassembled it closer to the stairs in the front part of the basement and I already feel like I've regained my sewing room. I am so excited about this~ I've been sewing since my 16th birthday and it's killed me not to have my sewing machine accessible. Now that my machine is in it's rightful place, the sewing projects are already accumulating in my mind. I've also found some great crafty blogs lately and that really helps get the inspiration flowing. (What? You want links? Well, Ok, I usually start here, here, here, and here and then I blog-hop from there.)

The last step for the basement is getting all of Josh and David's outgrown clothes in the correct bin and put back into the crawlspace. I think I can get that done this afternoon and then I will dance in my "new" basement.

My laundry room tends to be the place where I shuffle things when I want them out of sight.
Not anymore. The top of my dryer is now clear and I really intend to keep it that way. I took a clue from Real Simple and I added an embellished corkboard to one of the walls for posting stray buttons, washing instructions, etc. and other pin-able things found in pockets that I would be tempted to let live on top of the dryer. (Excepts cash and change~ I count this as the laundress' commission.) And it is remarkable how your attitude towards your work when you are in a more organized environment.

Last Saturday, we took the kids to the park and like a good mama, I brought along my camera, but when I turned it on, there was nothing no "on" noise, no blinks, no nothing. I remembered that he last time I charged the battery it was acting sort of funny, so when we got home I ordered a new battery and charger online (my camera takes a special kind of battery, so no AA's or even AAA's here) but as it would happen, yesterday was Memorial Day so it was only mailed out today. I even missed the May Daring Baker's Challenge. Boo hoo.

I plan on posting random coupon thoughts soon, but I really can't tell you how much coupons have blessed our family. There's a reason we had to get a new pantry shelf for the basement. We've been spending much less and bringing home more. My average savings at the grocery stores have been in the 55-60% range.(With the occasional 85% for small trips.) While I'm linking, I might add that I've learned a lot about coupons from this lady and this amazing lady.

The kids are doing well: Dabney continues to write "notes" with random letters and then ask me "What did I write, Mom?" David touches everything and is constantly on the move. He loves to talk. Especially on the phone, as most of you know. Josh has been zooming around the house on his 2 hands, 1 knee and 1 foot. I'll post pictures when I receive my new camera battery. Have a good Tuesday.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Napkin Project.

Tomorrow is our large outdoor dinner party (read: cookout) and all week I've been preparing ahead of time because Dabney and I have plans tonight that we've been looking forward to for months. Anyway, we're entertaining outside and we have quite a few people coming, so I need things to be easy, but I really don't want to buy paper plates, knowing my kids will put a solitary pickle on a plate, throw it away when it's gone, and grab another plate. When we began using cloth diapers and wipes, a year ago last February, I began rethinking other disposable things too. Now, I am not what you would call an environmentalist, but I am all for good stewardship and saving money. Funny how being "green" often means you save green, too. We went back to cloth napkins and I've been trying not to buy things so we can throw them away after we use them.

I knew we'd need plates and cups and napkins for tomorrow, so I went to Walmart and found these great picnic-y plastic plates and cups that are unbreakable (did I mention the 21 children coming tomorrow?) and dishwasher- safe. Sets of 4 for $0.94. Then I scooted on over to the fabric aisle and tried to find a matching pattern for napkins and ~eureka!~ poly/cotton gingham in the exact colors I needed in the $1 fabrics. One and a half yard cuts in five colors came out to 26~ 15" square, turned and top-stitched napkins and 4 more napkins measuring a little smaller. So now we have cheerful tableware for our day tomorrow, and we can re~use it again and again for Bible study, birthday parties, etc. and if something gets broken, or thrown away by accident I won't cry.

Check out how well they match!

Did I mention that I cut my hair?

Now that I've lived with it a week, I'm liking it more and more. It was a really big adjustment at first, but it's a lot cooler and lighter and I can do new things with my new length. Most importantly, Tim tells me it's cute almost everyday.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday the 12th

Yesterday was Mother’s day~ my 4th overall and definitely the best yet. My thoughtful husband brought me flowers and took us to dinner at my favorite restaurant on Sunday and bought us a cake too! Talk about spoiled! And how blessed. Last mother’s day, I was eagerly anticipating our little guy’s birth and now I have him in my arms to kiss and hug and squeeze. I praise God everyday for my children and thank Him for their health. I never want to take it for granted. I am so undeserving.

It’s a beautiful May early afternoon and I am typing from our front porch. I got an early jump on the week's laundry and it is an absolutely gorgeous spring day so I thought we'd venture outdoors today. The kids are being artistic with their sidewalk chalk and Josh is next to me munching on a snack. David can’t seem to be contained to the driveway. I guess there’s too many interesting things to see and touch and smell and feel and hear to be limited to the concrete. Dabney is telling me she’s a unicorn named Daisyflower as she practices writing her letter D's with a large pice of pink chalk. (A few days ago she was a horse named Twiggle.) She also tells me that David is a horse named Jim.

This Saturday, we’re entertaining again. It will be a larger party than we’ve had in a while~ 21 kids all together, including ours. I’ve been finalizing the menu and putting my last minute shopping list together. Praise God for our backyard~ I’m not sure what we’d do without it. I just love summer entertaining. I feel like I should make a meringue pie, but it’s not on the menu this time.

One note to consider on hospitality: I’ve taken a cue from my parents’ early days of entertaining and invited the single guys in our church, as well. We love to do this because often times, these men don’t get home cooked meals regularly and they really love the fellowship with other families. Also, my husband was single for many years before we married and I know how appreciative he was to the families that “took him in”. And when you think about it, as long as you’re going to the trouble to entertain another family, what’s a single guy or two (or three)?

My citrus trees are doing well, and I’m putting them outside this afternoon for the first time this season. I hear we’re in for a bit of a cold snap tomorrow or tomorrow night, so I hope after that they can take up their summer residence in the backyard. I’m not positive yet, but I think we might have limes this season! I pollinated the flowers that appeared in the lime tree about a month ago, and the buds haven’t yet fallen off (like they would if they were dying) so I’m hopeful that we’ll have limes this time around.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

"Dabney wuz here"

After depositing David in his bed for naptime yesterday, I came downstairs to find this.

I guess 4 year old girls think pink hats with pom-poms look good on anyone.

Also, check out his 4 (!) rolls of chub on his left arm in the bottom corner of the picture. We don't call him the Michelin Man for nothing.


I think I'd go crazy if I didn't have something leafy and green growing in the house...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Monday morning pictures

My Hospitality Notebook

This is my hospitality notebook. It’s a small, lined little notebook, and I’ve divided it into a few categories. What I’ve done is made ingredient lists for my tried and true, reliable recipes under each category. It’s like a little homemade cookbook, but it only lists the ingredients in each recipe with amounts indicated.

This way, if people are coming over on the spur of the moment, and I don’t have time to make a grocery list, I can just run to the store with my notebook and have the ingredient list/ shopping list at hand for recipes I know will work well.

I also use this for the times when I’m filling my basement freezer with extra dinners. It’s pretty handy to have at the store with you when you can’t remember how much ricotta cheese your lasagne recipe needs.
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