Thursday, May 26, 2011

Basement Renovation Update!

Kelsey's Room is about donnnnnnnnnnnnne!! Yay!! (All photos taken with my cell phone, so please excuse the quality.)

Coming into the room.

Best shot I could get of the carpet and paint.

Light fixture.

Window boxes!!

The carpet was installed yesterday, so that means after a short laundry list of to-dos, we can stamp "DONE!" on this room. Since the carpet was installed yesterday, of course my family and I had to go in there and "inspect" it . . . for about 45 minutes . . . in which we really just laid on the floor and played with Nora! :)

Nora sitting on daddy and shaking her hands all around!

"Sleeping" . . . :)

Taking in the new room . . .

Reaching for the light.

So this is probably the last post about this room for now! I think it turned out just perfect - it's a room that can be used for anything once Kelsey moves out, and it should serve her well while she is living there. What do you think?

Everyone have a great and safe Memorial Day weekend. Until next time . . .

Monday, May 23, 2011

Nora's 21 Month Update

The next few weeks will be busy for us, so I thought I would post Nora's 21-month update a few days early.

She is such a little girl! Very mature for her age. She talks very well, and talks often in sentences. One of her favorite things to tell me when I call her name is "Ok, mommy! I'm COMMMMMMMMIIIIIIINNNNNNNGGGGGG!!!!" :) She also has started to say "help you" (instead of "help me") when she needs help. Everything that comes out of her mouth sounds like she's so excited, and when you leave for five minutes and then return, she acts like you have been gone forever! She's very sweet, and will give everyone hugs and kisses, high fives, or "knucks".

One funny thing that Nora did this month happened when we were coming out of church a few weekends ago. She saw our loaner car across the parking lot and said: "Mommy, blue car!" So I told her "Yes, that's our blue car." She started running to it and yelling "WAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIT CAR! Wait blue car!" - Like it was going somewhere without us! :) Another way she makes us laugh is by singing songs or "reading" her books. (If you haven't seen her sing her ABC's yet, check out the video here.) This month she cracked me up when she sang: "Tinkle, tinkle, little star." She's so funny and consistently is making us laugh.

Potty training is going well! We are using wayyyy less diapers than we ever have, and I have introduced pull-ups. She keeps her pull-ups pretty dry, so if she continues to do that then we will try underwear. I read a book on 3-day potty training, so who knows! - maybe we will try it. :) I think she's about ready. She does so well most of the time.

She still only has the 8 teeth (two on top, two on bottom, and 4 molars) and her top two are crawling in at a snail's pace like the others did. It's odd since all her peers have so many teeth that she only has the 8, but I am not worried. They are just coming in on their own time!

That's about it I think. Until next time . . .

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's Friday! FOOD Friday :)

So this past week I have been experimenting in the kitchen. I don't do it an awful lot because I am not great at it. Mostly I am a "just follow the recipe" kind of girl.

However, my daughter has decided that she will eat broccoli and carrots . . . as long as they are in Panera Bread's Broccoli Cheddar Soup. Which costs $5 per bowl. And requires me to be in town. And to go to Panera Bread during lunchtime.

So I decided that I would try to find a similar recipe so I could make it at home. I stumbled over this blog and recipe when one of the members of the MOMS Club pointed me in that direction. The soup was good, and Nora ate some of it . . . but I wanted to try and get it closer to the Panera Bread recipe so that she would devour it, and thus devour all the vegetables inside! So here's my modified version of her (Crock Pot) Broccoli Cheddar Soup:

1 Bunch Broccoli, chopped finely, but with some inch-long pieces thrown in.
1 can evaporated milk
1 can condensed Cream of Broccoli Soup
2 cups of water
4 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. minced onion
dash of seasoned salt
pepper to taste
1 cup Shredded Carrots
16 oz. Velveeta Cheese, cut into chunks
1-2 Tbsp. Cornstarch

Place all ingredients except Velveeta and cornstarch in crock pot and stir.
Cook on low about 6 hours.
1/2 hour before eating, stir in Velveeta
15 min. before eating, mix 1 Tbsp. cornstarch in with a little cold water and add to crock pot. Turn heat up to high and stir.
After 15 min. add another 1/2-1 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed with a little cold water if it's not thick enough for you.

My version was thicker and less garlicky, plus I added yummy carrots. It was almost Panera Bread-like! It was so close, in fact, that when I gave it to Nora she asked "Where the bread?" :)

Also this month, I tried a different version of an English Muffin Pizza. Many of you know that if you take an English Muffin, throw on some pizza sauce and cheese, and bake it for about 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven, that you have a quick and easy mini-pizza for a heavy snack or small meal. That's all fine and good, but I modified my own white pizza recipe to work for English Muffin pizzas, and it was pretty good! :) So here it is - White English Muffin Pizzas:

*2 Whole Wheat English Muffins, halved - for a total of 4 mini-pizzas
*3 Tbsp. Light Cream Cheese - softened (I heat mine for 20 sec. in the microwave)
*3 Tbsp. Light Cottage Cheese
*1 tsp. Pizza Seasoning (I used Penzey's - YUM! Tastes like a pizzeria!)
*1/2 tsp. parsley
*1/2 tsp. Oregano
*Shredded Mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350. Place each half of the muffins on a baking sheet. In a bowl mix the cream cheese, cottage cheese, and seasonings together. Spread mixture evenly over English Muffins. Top with cheese and bake for about 15 minutes. Serve warm!

Hope you enjoy these! YUM!

Until next time . . .

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Update on "The Great Reorganization"

I was thinking the other day that what I should REALLY call "The Great Reorganization" is "Pre-Nesting". I'm not pregnant right now as far as I know, but the last time I was this serious about organizing, I was pregnant. It's gone that far folks!

If you remember my post on my reorganization, I said that my process is four-fold:
1.) Clean out, purge, and reorganize every cabinet and closet in my house. (April) - CHECK!
2.) Clean out, purge, and reorganize the basement. (May)
3.) Clean out, purge, and reorganize the guest room. (May)
4.) Yard Sale and Goodwill Donation (First week in June)

I have done step one. Now I have skipped step two and have moved right along to step three. :) I didn't do this intentionally, but I am pretty glad I did. Now that I have moved things around, the guest room is officially YARD SALE CENTRAL! Woo hoo. I have started the process of moving things into that room to price.

Yeesh. It's a lot of hard work. But you know what Thomas Edison said:
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. (In my case, it's dressed in sweatpants and a "mommy" haircut.)

Anyway, I have already sold two things that NEEDED to go. I listed our old stove and hood and our old washer on Craigslist at 10 p.m. Sunday night - both for very fair prices - and they were gone by 2:30 the next day. It's so odd to have room in our garage!

Now comes the little stuff . . . and there is a lot of it! Wish me luck . . . and if Cory thinks about filing a "missing persons report" in the next few days, remind him that it's possible that I might be buried underneath all the junk in the guest room.

Until next time . . .

Mother's Day Gifts

This year I am a little late on posting what I gave the moms in our life for Mother's Day. The reason is because I was kind of late giving the gifts. I didn't want to rush through finishing them just so they would be on time, so the moms got their gifts on Wednesday and Thursday this past week. I was doing so good at being on time with all my handmade gifts this year . . . and then I fell behind. Ah well, can't win 'em all!

Anyway, if you have a toddler in your home, you likely have a lot of drawings that look like this:

I really wanted to use them to create something great from my mom and MIL. So, I cut the drawings into flower shapes, and came up with this:

I spray-painted small flower pots and glued three mini-clothespins inside. I stuffed the pots with pink filler paper, and then clipped the flowers on the clothespins, along with some leaves Nora made. I also added "mimi" and "nana" to the fronts of each individual pot. I think they turned out cute . . . even if they were a little late. :)

Until next time . . .

Monday, May 9, 2011

Update on downstairs

Our fantastic neighbor has been renovating our downstairs for us as we prepare to have Cory's sister Kelsey move in in the fall. I think the last photos I showed you there were no walls . . .

Well, there is now!

I myself am amazed at how quickly this room is going up. There's drywall, mud, texture, paint, and half of a ceiling already! Kelsey helped us pick out a color, and the one we all agreed on was Laura Ashley's "Olive". It's supposed to be a light green, but ended up looking more tan or almost yellow. It's a good neutral, and I am very pleased with it:

Looking back towards the door at the closet-to-be:

A shot of the window box and ceiling tile:

It's looking good, don't you think?

Until next time . . .

Fish Fry/Mother's Day

Many of you know this, but my husband Cory serves on the volunteer fire department out where we live. This past weekend they held their annual Fish Fry. It's a big deal in our house because Cory's in charge of it. I also usually make some desserts to sell, and this year was no exception. Here's what I made this year:

*Two Peanut Butter Brownie Pizzas (which were a HUGE hit. I got asked for the recipe twice.)
*Five Pies
*Apple Crisp

Cory also took the day off work to go run the Fish Fry. He did so well. :)

Mother's Day started off with church for Nora and I, and then we ate out at Peel with my mom, my sister Rachel, and her husband Billy. Peel has wood-fired pizza and it's VERY good. After that, we headed home and just chilled out. We enjoyed the nice weather, and had a good meal of baked potatoes and hot dogs. :) I personally loved my handmade cards from Cory and Nora (so cute.) I am also glad we got some family time to just relax because this week looks as busy as the last!

I will update later this week on the progression of our downstairs room. :) Stay tuned!

Until next time . . .

Monday, May 2, 2011

El Salvador - The Sequel

So, it's been a few months since I went to El Salvador. I wanted to share a few pictures that myself and others took, and share something that I was thinking about over this past week.

This past week my husband and I painted the downstairs room where Kelsey will be living. The last time I painted a room, I was in El Salvador so right away all these memories flooded me . . .

. . . like the Chicken Dance, for example. :)

There are many things that I do not take for granted since going to El Salvador. For example, I am doing my best to make sure we do not waste food in this house whenever it is possible. And when we painted this past weekend, I was grateful for the new, clean brushes we were able to use, and for the rollers and the paint trays. And the water-based paint!

I'm a messy painter. :)

I was also able to look at myself and think about what I have been doing since I got back. I have been doing a lot of praying for the folks down there. A LOT (just ask my small group!) However, one thing I have not done is share with you something that the folks down there wanted me to share with you very badly.

There are kids down there without sponsors. If you feel that it is in your means to sponsor a child, I sincerely hope you do. However, if you have a child that you are sponsoring already you need to write to your child. If you have underestimated how important it is, underestimate no longer! I am one of those people that never have a problem writing anything, but if you are someone who just cannot think of what to write, start with the basics. Introduce yourself. Talk about the weather. Talk about what you did today. It does get easier as time goes on. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU DO THIS. Take my word for it. I cannot think of a better way to really make that hit home for you all, but I said I would share the importance of it with you and now I am. WRITE.

If you can't be there to help in person, then you can still "be there" in your letters. Your support matters a lot, your prayers matter a lot, you BEING THERE FOR THEM matters a lot! They want you to know that, and hopefully now you do.

If you are interested in sponsoring a child, my church has found success working with Compassion International. I highly recommend them.

Until next time . . .

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Kitchen Appliances

Notice anything different about our kitchen?

Extremely nice and totally awesome family members of ours recently got rid of their white kitchen appliances. They are really nice appliances, and only a few years old. Definitely better than what we had. (Read: I now have a double oven. Yessssssss!)

However, we were planning on getting chrome and black appliances soon, and if you remember, we bought a chrome and black dishwasher only a few months ago. Since the price was oh-so-right on these wonderful hand-me-downs, obviously we took them off their hands and are not buying chrome and black appliances soon.

So, I need some help! Anyone have a suggestion or recommendation for a dishwasher cover? I tried "Appliance Art", but I am NOT NOT NOT happy with the cover they sent us - it doesn't wrap around the dishwasher and honsetly just looks silly. So I am considering using high-quality stick-on vinyl (if I can find it in the dimensions that I need) . . . or just leaving it be.

What do you all think? To cover or not to cover? That is the question! It's not bothering me too much, but I would really like a nice cover if possible, so any help would be appreciated! Plus the folks that we took these from have a chrome-and-black kitchen with a white dishwasher, so any info you all could share would be helping them out too.

Until next time . . .

Nora's 20-Month Update!

Well, the twenty-month milestone is marked by one specific thing: TEETH! Nora's getting a lot of them lately! It's what we all thought: she's getting them all at once. This month there is a front tooth through and another molar. I took a funny picture of her the other day, and this is a close-up of the face she was making:

You can see one of her teeth is almost all the way through, and you can even see another under the gums! Wahooooooooo!!

Nora is talking almost all the time in complete sentences, which is awesome! Her favorites are "I'll get it!" and "How are you?" and lots of copying everyone. She also likes to sing! She can sing the ABC's pretty well for her age, and loves to sing songs that she hears on TV. This is great except she is getting them confused together! For example, today she sang the ABC's and the end of it went something like this: " . . . Q, R, S, TEEEEEEM-WORK!" Can you tell she likes the Wonder Pets? :) She also likes to sing Dora's theme song, and has made up her own song already too! She hugs me around the neck, rocks me back forth, and sings "Wuuuuuuuuuuuv you, Wuuuuuuuuuuuv you . . . " It's the cutest. thing. EVER!

She's still really tall, and wearing 2T size clothes. This month she has been eating us out of house and home! Must be a growth spurt or something. She also runs or dances everywhere she goes, and she is always on the go! She loves to go outside and play in the sand or water, so this summer will be fun at the beach.

She's doing well on potty training! She will usually spend the morning dry, and has gone poop on the potty a few times now. We are considering trying Pull-Ups if she continues to do so well. She is going right now almost every time on the potty, with only one or two wet diapers per day. So, we'll see!

She has been learning her colors this month. She knows most of them now, and she likes yellow and pink. She also has been working on counting and can count to 10 all by herself (although she usually skips 7). She also recognizes the words mommy, daddy, cat, bear, and hi. We are also working on duck, dog, and baby.

She is going through a lot of "attitude" phases lately. On any given day if you ask her a question, she will have days where no matter what you ask her, she will say "No!" However, the next day every question will be "Yes!" That makes it hard to tell what she really wants, because it may be a "No" day, or a "Yes" day. She has also learned about possession - she likes to say "Mine!" So, typical toddler really!

Until next time . . .