Thursday, January 31, 2008

Account of my birthday

First of all, I'd like to show you a picture of the side of our house, so you can get an idea. This side will have an open deck on it when we are finished with constuction. Now LOOKIE WHAT HUBBY BUILT ME FOR MY BIRTHDAY!
It's a replica of our new house, complete with the very same siding stain, the very same tin roof, and rough ceder porch posts!
He even painted all the windows and doors! But wait...what's that cut-out space at the base? And that space on the side wall too?
Why, it's a huge birdfeeder!!!! Oh, Hubby just couldn't know me any better! I am so tickled and pleased with this gift...it's the BEST! And so is Hubby!

So, for my birthday, Hubby had to work (which he couldn't help even though he tried to be off that day.) So daughter and I went to town to drop off library books and borrow some dvd's from there (2 more western's and this time I got The Little Princess for nostalgia's sake.) Then we ate at a local restaurant that has the BEST breakfast gravy and cinnamon fried apples...yum.

Next, we drove to the bulk food store to get our whole-wheat spaghetti, some homemade bread, and sorgham. Then we went to the cheese store and bought 2 blocks of cheddar, 1 block of swiss, and a jar of mild salsa. On the way home we stopped at our old house to pick up some old paperwork and blankets that need to be washed and put away, plus my soap-making supplies so that I can make a batch of shaving soap.

We arrived back home and got "purty" for town and took it easy until Hubby and son got home too. Then we went to Cracker Barrel for supper. I was very good in my eating, setting half of the dinner to the side of my plate and bringing it home for another meal the next day (today, that is!) I had chocolate cobbler for my dessert, opting for a one-time dessert indulgence instead of having a large cake at the house to tempt me for the whole week!

Daughter made me a card, personal and very funny. I got phone calls from my dad, my mom, and my sister, two homemade cards from my nieces, an e-card from my sister-in-law, and an email from my school friend. It was a wonderful day and I treasure the memory of it!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What could it be?

Hubby has finished making my birthday gift. What could it be?

I did see him with a can of wood stain and a measuring square. He had to go outside to do some of it. He was able to take it to work and do some of it (which means it can't be all that large.) He asked me what our street number was. (Was he trying to throw me off, though? I have wanted a house sign for the driveway for those poor souls who are sure they are lost by the time they get to our house.)

He always blames me for being tricky and finding out what my gifts are well before I get them, but I've been a good girl this year. What does he do? He asks me two days ago if I wanted to know what my gift is (...just like he was dying to tell me.) Then last night he offers to let me see it early! (In my best Eliza Dolittle voice - "I'm a good girl, I am!) I declined.

I guess I'll post a picture tomorrow unless I'm exhausted from this evening's activities. I haven't yet decided whether to go out for supper at Cracker Barrel (I do love okra!) or have Hubby cook. Either way, I want a juicy steak!

Speaking of food, yesterday I was sick with a stomach bug. What do I start craving?: Mtn. Dew, gooey chocolate chip cookies, and a chicken/bean burrito smothered in cheese and sour cream from the Mexican restaurant!!! It is undenible that I used food to comfort myself. It's so much easier to seek comfort in food and not have to ask anyone else to comfort us in our times of weakness. I saw it as being a good thing to not ask for comfort from anyone else. I went to bed, wondering if skinny people make bad patients.

Looking back on my life, I can see when I started using food as an emotional and physical comfort in place of human comfort. I must change my ways of thinking and turn to those who truly love me when I need comforting. I must do it for my health and for my inner-heart. I must simply say, "I need you to be my comfort or else I'm going to eat a whole bag of cookies!"

May you all have a blessed day!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Laundry Room


Over at The Savvy Organizer there has been a series of discussions on laundry and the organization of the laundry room, so I thought I'd post my own. Since we have built our own home, I was able to design the floor plans. This allowed me to consider what I wanted in a laundry room while also streamlining the home plan. I wanted this:

1) To have the washer and dryer next to the main bathroom for convenience to the clothes hamper.

2) To have a utility sink in which to soak or handwash items.

3) To contain the dirt that comes into the house very close to the door. Perhaps have the laundry room connect the entry door and the bathroom so muddy people could get straight to the sink or the bathroom. This will also allow muddy items to be put into the wash straight away.

4) To have a bright and cheerful place to do the laundry.


What I now have is basically an all-purpose mudroom! The main entry to the house is this room which connects directly to the main bathroom and to the kitchen so bringing in the groceries doesn't require repeat trips around the house with dirty shoes. And we tiled the floors for easy clean-up. Or I should say, HUBBY tiled the floors!

This also doubles as the cat room, where they are fed and have the litter box.

First of all, I knew I wanted a beautiful place to do laundry. So, I picked a purple color for the walls, purple being my favorite.

This picture was taken from the kitchen. On the left you can see the utility sink and large water heater. Then the dryer and washer with a shelf over them. The basket on the shelf is for clean work gloves. There is a little trashcan on top of the litter box to put my dryer lint into.

On the right is a homemade ironing board that had been my mother-in-law's. I recovered it when we moved here. (The iron is behind the bleach.) I use the ironing board mostly as a folding table. On the wall above the ironing board is a coat/hat hook that I use for hanging up clothes right out of the dryer. The clothes-pin bag hanging on it was my grandmother's, made from an old pillow cover (I have the other pillow that matches it too!)

The painting above the shelf was done by my grandmother also. It is of an old barn and a pond with trees in bloom.

The little basket on the ironing board is to catch Hubby's keys, cellphone, and loose change, and for mailing letters. He sees the letters as he is grabbing his keys in the morning and can take them to the mailbox for me! You can't see it, but the door to the porch is immediately to the right of the ironing board.

As you can see (and hopefully not judge) we still do not have the window and door trim up yet. When we get that up, we will also put a piece of wood trim behind the entry door wall for hanging up coats and hats.

My goal was to make this room both functional and pretty. Even if you have a basement laundry area, you can paint a cheerful color (after all, YOU are the one usually in there so no one will object to your personal preferences.) Don't be afraid to add decorative, cheerful touches. This is a room in your house! Don't treat it like a storage shed for clothes. Make it a place you enjoy instead of a corner in the dungeon! Add light! Pretty wall lamps will double as light and charm. Hang a pretty print on the wall. So what if you may be the only one to see it. Feed your spirit, perhaps hang plaques that have inspiritional verses on them. Get creative!
Now here's a peek at the other corner. This is directly across from the laundry room/porch entry door. Hubby made this trophy case/bookshelf when he was in high school. It fit perfectly into this space. The doors are currently off of it, but Hubby plans to put tin in the doors to make it look like a large pie safe. That's a project for after the house is completed. My pantry looks rather bare at the moment. Hmmm....time to make a list!

Least we forget how blessed all of us are: Above is a picture from the front porch. See the large cloud of smoke? Hubby had picked up daughter and was on the way home when she called to see if I could see the smoke from the farm. They passed a home burning in a town about 15 miles (as the crow flies) from us. No matter how good we have it or how dissatisfied we may be with our homes, just one instance could put it all into perspective. Be thankful we have homes and pray for the family that woke up this gray and rainy morning without one.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Baby shower

This past Saturday, I attended a baby shower for my cousin's 3rd child, their first girl! Everyone is very excited for them. Above is a picture of the baby shower cake that my step-mom made for them. The bottom layer was white cake and the chocolate layer was...chocolate. I had a piece and it satisfied my chocolate craving for the week. So yummy!

I won a Home Interior "Coffee Cake" candle for tearing off the exact amount of toilet paper that it would take to wrap around the expectant mommy's belly...only 10 sheets! She's so tiny and doesn't have a bit of weight on her that isn't the baby it seems. I tied with my sister but won after picking a number between 1-15. I told her I would give the gift to her if she wanted it, but she already has a coffee candle so it all turned out well...no cat fight. LOL!

Update: Our date night stretched into the whole weekend. Both the kids had other things to do, so Hubby and I found ourselves alone together nearly the whole time! The first night was spent in town: ate at Bob Evans, visited Lowe's then Wal-Mart, came home and made brownies and watch "The Last Legion" about the history of the sword Excaliber (not true, of course). The story line was decent, but the directing was terrible. I wouldn't suggest it.

The next day (Sat.), we slept in then went to town to pay our vehicles taxes and ate breakfast at the same restaurant that we used to visit when we were courting. Then we came home and took a nap! I got ready for the baby shower and Hubby worked on the shower and also started making my birthday present! He won't let me go into the master bathroom where it is. I wonder what it could be?

And he sucessfully hid the bathroom scales from me.

That night, we watched Jackie Chan in "Rob-B-Hood". It was kinda hard to watch at first, a bit choppy...but then the BABY showed up! That is one of the cutest little babies in the movies I've ever seen. And there is one scene that had Hubby and myself laughing so hard we were almost in tears. It has plenty of martial arts action and a good story line. I would suggest it. I believe it to be very family-friendly unless you abhor martial arts scenes.

Sunday, we were able to watch "Mr. Bean's Holiday". It is very family-friendly for the most part; (the boy says the D-word a couple of times in French.) Except for the ending (which was just a little cheesy), it was an excellent movie: very beautiful scenes and very good story line plus excellent acting by the characters. I would definitely recommend it.

This is enough for the blog today. I have nearly the whole day to myself and I'm determined to make the most of it! Daughter has spent the weekend at her Grandpa's house which is a rare treat for them all. Hubby: remember to pick her up after work today!

Love to you all. May your day be blessed beyond your expectations.

Friday, January 25, 2008

No time to post today...

Tonight is date night! That's right...hubby and I get a monthly date. But this one is special. It's the date where we share our birthday month. Tonight will be a birthday date, and we will share food and dessert at a nice (for around here!) restaurant and then go...to LOWE'S! lol.

Plans are to eat out by ourselves, then go to Lowe's for some shower fixtures, then to Wal-mart for a few groceries (with no time limit or children to watch over), and then maybe dessert if we didn't have it at the restaurant already, then home for a movie or two. Hubby just rented some dvd's from Blockbuster on his lunch break. All I can tell you is that one has Jackie Chan (who we both enjoy), one is about King Arthur times, and the other one is "Mr. Bean's Holiday". We like small doses of Mr. Bean every now and then.

I'll tell you if the movies were any good tomorrow or the next day. And I'll soon be posting pictures on the progress in the master bathroom. Hubby has been very busy on it.

I met my weight-loss goal this morning! I've asked Hubby to hide the scales from me for the rest of the month so I won't get discouraged if I yo-yo any. I hope all of you have an equally blessed day!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Embracing change

photo taken by daughter on a warm day about a month agophoto of today, through the dining room door (which is why the picture is dark. Hey, you'd stay in too if you could!)


We wish for snow. We get snow. We wish there were more of it so we could play in it. I think back to my cousin's new husband (early 90's era) who was a native Hawaiian. Less snow than this and he scraped every bit he could into a tiny snowman. That has always stuck in my mind.

I think I will enjoy the snow flying by the window. I'll pretend I'm in a little house in the middle of a snowglobe. It's just so pretty right now.

Blue skies and warm days will be back before I'm ready, no doubt. In the heat of summer, I'll wish for snow again. I'll wish for a day just like this and have to remind myself to appreciate the warm sun and the abundant growing things.

I thought I'd update on my monthly goals. (See sidebar)

My weight is slowly coming off. The scales bounce up and down according to so many things so I try not to check it too often, but I'm confident that I'm 3 lbs. lighter and will make my goal by the end of the month. How?

Hubby and I both cut out the drinking of sodas this month. For me, it was a caffeine addiction that took it's toll about a week ago: headache, so tired, aching body. I could've sworn I had the flu, but my brain kept telling me, "drink a Mountain Dew and you'll feel better." That's how I knew I could finally beat the addiction. I promised to get through it and to never put myself through caffeine withdrawal again! I can't even imagine how had it would be to quit smoking or hard drugs. I was useless for almost a week. I began by drinking decaf tea with meals and sometimes water in between. And I drink milk. Now, three weeks later, I think tea is too sweet and prefer milk or water with meals and drink water throughout the day.

We promised not to "diet" because that just makes us want junk food. We have slowly discovered we prefer a salad to just about anything. I bet we've eaten more salads this month than all last year. And I've even started exercising this week...dancing mostly and free weights, 5-pounders. I haven't gotten an exercise schedule down, but I'm discovering that I have started to feel a bit better. And hubby hugged me the other day and said, "you've really lost weight." That just made my day.

So, on the subject of exercise and caring for yourself, I was thinking (while doing crunches)...Why don't I look at it as part of the housework. I want to take care of the family and home as part of my "duties" and I want my hubby to be proud of what I do (whether it's 6 loads of laundry in one day or an amazing supper). Don't I want him to be proud of how I look too? Well, YEAH! Duh. So...what have I been doing to get that recognition from him? Have I been taking care of MYSELF, my body, my health, my appearance? Ummmm.....nnoooo...

So, I've gotta fix that! I need to keep that in my mind. I need to write myself a note of something. Maybe on my daily schedule. If you want clean laundry: sort, wash, dry, fold, and put away, and keep it from getting wrinkled or dirty carelessly. If you want a healthy figure: exercise, drink water, eat healthy, and stay away from that soda and bad-for-you junk! Duh.

O-kay, so the rest of my goals.

Well, I haven't been doing too well on the face washing. I have been doing it more frequently than I did before, but there's still plenty of room for improvement. I'll keep working on that one.

I've been a bad girl on helping on the house. I haven't done anything like I should. I could blame the cold weather. I could blame it on caffeine withdrawal. I won't. I've been bad. It will probably be a last ditch effort next week to get it done before the end of the month.

Garden seeds may not be ordered this month. I've only gotten ONE seed catalog this month, one mushroom catalog, and one organic garden solutions catalog (for bugs and such). Waaaaa......

I have had several garden ideas though. I have to talk it over with hubby first, but I'm seeing a Lord of the Rings type theme in my mind, either fashioned after the Hobbits or the Elves. Wouldn't that be fun!

On the geneology packet for my cousin: I'm determined to copy the family origin papers just as soon as I post this blog-post.

Well, that's it for the update. All in all, the monthly goals have been better for me than yearly resolutions. It sets a real time-line for me and breaks it up into do-able chunks. I'm feeling pretty good about it all.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Someone in this house has gotten older...

Someone in this house had a birthday recently. I won't tell you who.

They didn't want a traditional birthday cake. Instead, I made one of our favorite desserts. It has a funny name. Recipe is below.

For this person's milestone birthday, I pulled a little surprise. I emailed or called the family and friends of this person about 2 weeks ahead of time, and asked them to send me a letter for the birthday boy. (Gee, I guess I just gave it away.)

(We both have a birthday this month, so we made a promise not to buy presents, but to go out on a date instead. I didn't have to buy this gift!)

In these letters, I asked that they tell him just how much he means to them, why they appreciate him, or why they respect him. Or they could just write down stories that they remember about him from when he was younger.

I spent the two days before his birthday, running around to collect letters. I received around 12 of them, including from son, daughter, and myself. Some sent birthday cards. I put those (8 of them) in the inner pocket.

After having gathered them, I placed them in a 1-inch, 3-ring binder, using clear sheet protectors. I decorated the front and back for his birthday. We presented this to him after his favorite home-cooked meal.
Along with the birthday binder, I placed all of his old family snapshots that he inheirted about 2 years ago, into photo albums. It took two albums and three days to do it.

I already had the things to make his gift around the house. All it took was thought and time.

He says it's the best birthday gift he's ever received. His eyes got moist more than once as he read through them.


Now, for the recipe. It is known as "Better-Than-Sex-Cake", but Betty Crocker has taken the recipe and called it "Better-Than-Anything-Cake." I noticed that Pillsbury has taken it and named it "Chocolate-Caramel Wow." No matter what you call it, it's good. It's always a hit at gatherings.


"Better-Than-Sex-Cake"


Make a German-Chocolate cake (either from mix or from scratch) in a 9x13 pan

Remove from oven and allow to cool (leave in pan)

Poke hole in cake with something (wooden spoon handle, fork, or cut serving-sized lines in cake)
Pour 1 can of sweetened condensed milk over cake

Pour 1 bottle of caramel topping over cake (approx. 20 oz or so)

Allow to soak in (overnight if possible)

Top with whipped topping, extra caramel, and sprinkles of toffee candy (like crushed Heath candy bar)


This dessert just keeps gettting better the longer it soaks in all that rich syrupy goodness.

I have been very tempted to just crumble up the whole cake in the pan instead of just poking holes in it before topping it. That would allow it to fully soak everything up, but it would look kinda, well....gross. But it would still taste good!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Something to do

If the day is too cold to play outside (or rainy) or if your mother has gone to a Bunco game and you have some one-on-one time with your dad...what can you do?
It helps to have checked out a cool book at the library... The first project in this book is a simple Roman fort for your Lego men. It's made with sand and flour. (It called for salt and flour but mom was gone and dad couldn't find the salt!) And y'know my man...

Form it into a ring on a piece of shower backing leftover from the ongoing bathroom construction...Place a toilet-paper roll in the back of it to form a "secret escape cave"....

Then add a sturdy gate, a tent, a little house, and sharpened poles to keep out the enemy (or cats)!