Tuesday, March 31, 2009

When Life Gives You Flood Days . . .

make a baby quilt. With the entire week of no school, I needed to find something to keep myself busy and from going crazy. In the process of moving our downstairs to the upstairs I made sure to keep the sewing stuff for the baby's room accessible. Since Friday I have been working on the crib quilt and today I finished it!!

Here is what my initial plan was:

Here is the sketch I made before beginning:

And here is the finished product:

I am fairly happy with it. The only bummer is that not all of my rows lined up. I seem to have that problem when it comes to quilting. I am just not precise enough. I don't think that the baby will mind. This is probably the best binding job that I have ever done, so that redeems me to some degree.

I am hoping to work on curtains this week, too, and maybe a few other projects.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Different Life

This past week I feel as if someone has taken me out of my life and transported me into another life. Many of the details of my life remain the same, but so many others are surreal substitutes. Here is a taste of what we have been experiencing lately:
-Helicopters (including coast guard helicopters) flying over our house and some landing in the school three blocks behind our home
-National Guard vehicles parked and driving all over town

-Seeing state, local, and national media in and around our town, as well as government agencies

-Having levees built on the off and on ramps closest to our home and on the main road to our home

-Having life come to a virtual stand still (no work, no school, no garbage collection, only essential businesses open, travel restrictions being advised)

-Trying to conserve water so as not to overwhelm the city's sanitary sewer

-Tuning in to the daily city press conference

-Having the Coast Guard airboat parked in the school parking lot near our home

-Living with everything up on our main level and a virtually empty lower level

-Learning that friends have been evacuated from their homes

-Hearing that friends need help protecting their homes from the rising water

Throughout this all, I can't tell you how thankful I am that I know of the one thing that never changes, the love my Lord has for me. Though he mountains may crumble to the sea, my Lord will stand forever! What a joy it was yesterday to go to our church and worship this Lord with our friends. To drink up his Word and promises. To let the cares of this world fall away and the joys of the world to come wash over my soul.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Prayers Are Needed and Appreciated

Don't be alarmed, M and I are doing well. Our city, however, is fighting the battle of our lives right now. We are still fighting off the rising waters, but no one is sure of what the next week will exactly bring. No one, except for the LORD. And that is whom we turn to at a time like this. At a time of uncertainty, at a time of high and changing emotions, at a time when desperation is lurking around the corner. We turn to our God, our Rock, our Fortress. "All things work together for the good of those who love him." No mater what the next week brings, our God remains our God, unchanged and ever merciful.

We thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Craft Nook Organization Party

I felt the need to add party to the title to spice things up a bit. You know, not everyone likes the word organization. But really, it doesn't have to be a four letter word. I think as long as you have the right tools to do it with and enough space in which to organize it can be down right fun. What I don't like, is the cost of organizational tools. It is crazy how much they charge for plastic tubs these days! (Doesn't that make me sound old?!!)

For this project I tried to reuse as many containers as I could that we already had. I also tried to think outside of the box in what I used. I am happy with the results and think that it will work out well. I am still hoping to sew some bins made out of fabric at some point, but that will have to come later. (I already have way too many projects in the works.)

I wanted small containers with lids to organize all of my little stamping and scrapbooking accents. I had those metal spice containers in mind, but didn't like the price tag they came with. And then I found these little guys at Michael's. They are meant for party favors, but worked perfectly for my little items. There were 30 in the package and with a coupon I think I paid less than $15.
And here they are in their drawer with their goodies stashed inside.
As for my ever increasing ribbon stash, M and I tried to think of a good way to store it and finally decided on just getting plastic storage bins. And then we found these at Fleet Farm and a great ribbon storage system was born. I inserted dowels through the holes in the sides of the baskets and viola.
And finally, I used a junk drawer organizer to hold my sewing supplies.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Our Weekend; Part II

Remember this clue?

We have been busy working on the craft nook in the lower level over the past month. A few weekends ago my parents came up. Like the good kids that we are, we had a project ready for dad to tackle. He and M installed the craft nook. I have been working at getting everything in its place over the past few weeks and finally have it ready to show you. I know that there is more organizing in my future, but for now it is very functional. I was down sewing this morning and confirmed the what I had been thinking all along, "I love it."

Here is the wall of shelves for holding some of my stuff. (Does being a crafter make you a natural hoarder, or is it just me?)

And right around the corner is the wall with the work area and more storage.

And one last little nook.

I'll post more later on some of the fun organizing that I have been doing with all of my crafty stuff.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Our Weekend; Part I

Remember this clue?

Here is M, busy at work.

And here is the finished product:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere

I am asking that you all keep our community in your prayers as we are dealing with severe flood predictions. The following pictures are taken of our back yard and that is just from snowmelt and rain. Add to that the river flooding that is being predicted and we are facing levels we have never seen before. I am constantly reminding myself to put my trust in God, the best place for our trust to be.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Busy Bees

Here are some hints of what M and I have been up to this weekend:

You have got to love a productive weekend!!
Oh, and don't worry, I will post pictures when the projects are completed.

Foodie Friday: Runzas

***Sorry this is a day late. Let's hope it is not a dollar short.***

If you are not from Nebraska, you may have been missing out on this amazing treat your whole life. A Runza is a meat handpie made with cabbage. It is a traditional Germans from Russia dish. (They are huge in this area and you always hear about them.) What is the Nebraska connections? Well, Runza is a restaurant chain in Nebraska with somewhat of a cult following. They make all varieties of Runzas and they also have to-die-for onion rings and french fries. (Their burgers aren't too shabby either.)

We had half a head of cabbage left over from our St. Patrick's Day corned beef and cabbage meal. I decided the destiny for that cabbage would be Runzas.

I found a recipe on Recipezaar and took it from there. I started out with a double batch of my basic dough recipe, only this time I used all bread flour. I browned a pound of ground beef and added the half head of chopped cabbage and half of a medium onion also chopped. While the cabbage was cooking down, I added salt, pepper, and ranch dressing mix to taste. (Don't be afraid to be generous. I thought that I was and they still could have a used a bit more seasoning.) I was planning on adding some grated cheese here, but completely forgot until we were eating. I would highly recommend adding the cheese!!

I rolled the dough out into eight pieces that were about 12" x 5" rectangles. I filled each dough piece with the meat mixture, folded the dough around it, and sealed the sides. You will want to put the Runzas seam side down on a greased baking sheet. I then let them rise about 20 minutes and baked them at 375 for 20 minutes.

These were good, but I really wished that I hadn't forgotten the cheese and had added a bit more seasoning.

And now, even if you don't live in Nebraska, you can have yourself a Runza.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St. Patty's Day Cactus

What's that? You've never heard of the St. Patty's Day cactus. Well, it is a close relative of the Christmas cactus. The main differentiating trait is that one blooms for Christmas and the other for St. Patty's Day. Don't bother looking it up on Wikipedia, it is a rare specimen. In fact, this photo may be the first time that it has been caught on camera.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

8 Months Down; 2 to Go

Doesn't that title just seem a little weird? Aren't women only supposed to be pregnant for 9 months? Shouldn't it be, "8 Months Down; 1 to Go"? Ah, the joys of pregnancy math. Just trust me, I have 32 weeks in and average full term is considered 40, so that would make 8 weeks left or two months.

On to more exciting topics. . . My belly is literally shaking right now as I sit here typing this. The little baby inside of me definitely is a mover and shaker. Apparently it is even moving at night when I am not aware of it. One morning this week M told me that he felt the baby going crazy at 4 a.m. (I guess M and my offspring is a night owl, in spite of the fact that neither of us are!)

My belly is also starting to feel, well, big. There are times when I feel it is definitely not my body anymore. Along with the added size comes added aches and pains. Up until this point I really didn't feel all that pregnant. Now, however, my back is starting to hurt as well as my hips. Sleeping is not always all that comfortable of a proposition anymore. And although I can still bend over, it is not always with ease and grace.

Enough negativity! M and I were able to go to Lamaze class two weekends ago and boy did that make all of this seem real. I have a baby inside me and it is going to be making his or her appearance relatively soon. It was amazing to see the little bambinos in the nursery. They sure are tiny when they first come out.Check Spelling

We have been making progress on the downstairs as well. We are even hoping to paint the baby's room this weekend. I will make sure to post some pictures as everything starts coming together.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Foodie Friday: Creamy Chicken, Bacon, and Tomato Pasta

**I forgot to take a picture, so I stole this one from the Kraft Foods website, but you know my presentation was just as nice.**
We had this for supper this week and it was delicious. This time I meant to follow the recipe and ended up changing it by mistake. However, both M and I agreed that it was a good mistake.
Here is the ingredient list from Kraft Foods:
3 cups whole wheat pasta
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
3 slices bacon, cooked, crumbled
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) cream cheese, cubed
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta as directed on package.
Meanwhile, cook chicken in large skillet on medium heat 5 to 6 min. or until chicken is done, stirring occasionally. Add bacon, tomatoes, cream cheese, water and pepper; mix well. Cook 3 min. or until cream cheese is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring frequently.
drain pasta; place in serving bowl. Add sauce; mix lightly. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
When we started eating, I thought, "Wow, this kind of has a bite to it." The longer I thought about it I realized what I had done. I accidentally put in the diced tomatoes with chilies that I had bought for a different recipe in place of the Italian style tomatoes. The little hint of spiciness was actually quite good. Lets just hope that the Italian tomatoes taste as good in the taco soup I had bought the tomatoes with chilies for.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Here are some yummies that I am currently digging:

1) Edamame

These little green pods of goodness are one of my favorite veggies at the moment. Just cook them in boiling salt water, shell, and eat.

2) Cantaloupe

I just bought my first cantaloupe of the season and boy was it good! Juicy and delicious! Like summer in a rind.

3) McDonald's Shamrock Shake

You didn't think that I had gone completely healthy, did you? I love these seasonal shakes and had been waiting to get one. The first McDonald's I went to acted like they had never heard of the Shamrock Shake, but that wasn't going to stop me. I tried another McDonald's and they had them on their drive through menu! Sweet success!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Weather Outside Is Frightful

And since I've no place to go, inside I will stay! Who would have thought that we would get a blizzard day in March?!! Pretty much everything is shut down here as we wait out the storm. It is very much reminding me of the great December blizzard.

When it looks like this outside:

You hunker down and find projects that will at least warm your heart and keep your mind off of the howling wind and inches of white stuff that are falling outside.
Projects like cutting out diapers:

(I will fill you in on this on-going project later.)

Or like sewing a baby present for a friend:

Or finding things that fill your house with yummy, warm scents:

CYO: Taggie Blanket

A taggie blanket and a travel pack of baby products is my go-to baby present. I like this present because I think that it is practical, easy to make, unique, homemade, and fun.

Quite often I will make up a batch of these at a time. They are ultra handy to have around when the need arises. Plus, they are one of those projects that are almost just as easy to make a bunch of as one.

While I was making this particular taggie blanket for little Evelyn, I thought that I would take some pictures and show you how you can create your own unique, handmade baby gift.

You want to begin by purchasing half a yard of soft and cuddly fabric. I usually use a fleece, flannel, Minky, or a combo of two. (If you are not familiar with Minky, it is the softest, most touchable fabric out there. When I have Minky in the house, I love to sit and stroke it. It seriously is that soft. It is a little pricey, but the great thing about this project is that it requires very little fabric.) Cut two 18 inch squares of the fabric.

You will also need a variety of ribbon. You can use as much variety as you would like. I like variety and usually have ribbon on hand, so I use lots of different colors, patterns, and sizes. I cut 3-4 inch lengths of the ribbon.
Now you fold your ribbon over and pin it in place. I used to measure when I placed the ribbon around the blanket. Now I just estimate and place it where it looks good. This time I happened to have extra ribbon pieces at the end so I just doubled up on the ribbon in some places.

Once all of your ribbons have been pinned in place, you will want to stitch around the entire blanket to secure the ribbons.

Now you will pin your two fabrics right sides together and sew around the entire blanket again. Make sure that you cannot see your first stitching line. (I used the serger to do this step.) You will also want to make sure to leave a few inches open so that you can turn your blanket right-side out.

Turn your blanket right-side out and tuck the seems of your opening to the inside. Now you will top stitch the opening shut. And you are done!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Foodie Friday: Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches

I have not yet done my major grocery shopping for the month, which means it is time to rely on whatever is left in the cupboards, fridge, and freezer. I happened to find a forgotten package of stew meat in the freezer the other day whose original purpose I simply could not recall. In the fridge I found the two red bell peppers that I bought last weekend because they were 10/$10. I also had my eye on some leftover brat buns. Hmm, what could I do with these ingredients?Aha! Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches.

**Note the bite out of the left side. I forgot to take the picture before I started eating. M said that I should say it was just so good, I couldn't wait. ;o)**

I looked at a couple of recipes online, but none seemed all that special. (And you know me, I need special!) So, I just dove in.

Here is what I did:
-Defrost the meat by slowly warming it on the stove in a pan of water with 1 T vinegar added. Do not fully cook the meat, just defrost it. (I did it this way to make sure that the meat didn't get too tough. Vinegar is great for so many uses. Including as a natural tenderizer.)
-Slice the meat into thin slices.
-Marinate the meat for a few hours in olive oil, lemon juice, liquid smoke, salt and pepper. (This will also help to tenderize the meat.)
-After marinating, cook meat in large frying pan on high heat.
-While meat is cooking, chop up one medium onion and two red peppers into thin slices.
-Once meat has cooked, add the peppers and onions. Cook until vegetables are tender.
-I added some more spices to kick it up a notch. I added more salt and pepper. I added crushed red pepper flakes, and a smokey chipotle season mix that I have.
-I spooned the meat mixture onto the buns and topped with pepper jack cheese. (M, who has had a real Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich, informed me that even though I added cheese, I cannot call this a Philly With. Apparently you need just the right cheese and you cook it in with the meat and vegetables.)
-I toasted the sandwiches in our toaster oven until the cheese had melted.
These were tasty and I am looking forward to the leftovers. The meat was actually fairly tender for being freezer-burned stew meat.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Waiting for Spring

What's a girl to do when she finds herself sitting around and waiting for spring to, well, spring?

Make a tropical beverage to enjoy, adorn it with a flamingo straw, sit back, relax, and pretend the glare you see out the window is the sun shinning of off the beautiful white, sandy beach.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Two Coats, Please

Craft Area Step:
#1) Plan and buy (check)
#2) Stain the cupboard pieces (check)
#3) Paint the walls (check)

I finished my little painting project this weekend. It is always amazing how much a couple coats of paint can change a space. Now it is on to shelf building and installing. And you know, painting really isn't that hard, either! (I always psych myself into thinking that it is a big deal and am always surprised at how it isn't!)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Riddle Me This

Why, oh why, does Yoplait make it so hard to get their yogurt out of the container?