Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Power of the Pen


Thought I'd share some pictures of our fur babies curling up with us and staying warm through this cold, snowy winter time!!


Love this one of them with the girls! Little Skippy pictured above was too comfy on his own couch to join them, lol. But it's rare to get everyone looking at the camera at once.


Kathleen wanted waves in her hair one day for school, so we put in a few braids for her to sleep in overnight. She's still making amazing things on her Rainbow Loom!


Overlook her hair...lol but her intricate weaves and the creations she comes up with are really something! She is trying to learn actual crocheting, since I don't know how we have been trying some videos on YouTube. She's a quick learner ;-)


When I went to bed the other night she left me this note on my bed. I love these moments as a mom... totally melts my heart.


Hayley is still dealing with a bad concussion from the accident and has restrictions. However she has worked hard all year to participate in Power of the Pen, a writing competition through her school. After talking with her Dr. and making modifications she participated this past Saturday. These two goofballs were acting up while we were waiting for the start of the program, lol.


I love this man.... I do.... I truly know there's no one else like him... lol. Hayley was sure to not be sitting with us when he did this. ;-)


In this picture she took her sunglasses off long enough so I could get a picture of her. She has to wear hats etc. because of the glare along with ear plugs.


Since Jerry, Kathleen and I stayed the whole day in case Hayley had any problem or had to leave...they gave Kathleen a sweatshirt for hanging out for the day. Little big, but she was super happy. :-)


That's Hayley in the hat and sunglasses with the 8th grade team, which they came in 2nd overall! Hayley tied for 12th place with her writings out of 68 eighth graders. We are so very proud of her considering all she has been through and doing this with a concussion.


This is one of my favorite photos of the girls from the day.... walking down the hall of the middle school and holding hands. Kathleen looks up to her big sister so much. I'm glad she was able to participate as being on so many restrictions it has been hard for her. This definitely helped to boost her spirits.


Still working towards healthier things this year and this is a pineapple roll up made in the dehydrator. I felt baking it was better though....



Beautiful sunset I took from Hayley's room ....


Skippy....loves to stick his tongue out at everyone... just had to add this photo too! LOL




Another rare sight is seeing Jerry drink hot tea! We went out to Cracker Barrel the other night and he ordered hot tea instead of his usual coffee! Had to capture Kathleen's expression about this one! LOL
He is the biggest coffee drinker ever, so we were all surprised!


Owen was enjoying camping out in Hayley's room with Kathleen on the futon. Believe it or not Kathleen is under all the blankets you see!


Kathleen also got to attend a skating party for a friend of hers at school. She's still learning and held on to a lot of things, but we are proud of her for trying! She wants to go back soon to try again :-)


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it"  Lou Holtz

Have a great week!

                                                    Blessings,
                                                         Jill

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Winter's Day, recipes and more


I'm sitting here today listening to the crazy winds outside my house; and grateful for a warm place to call home. The snow is whipping and I see the snow covered vehicles are crawling down the road. I had to see my Kathleen get safely on the bus this morning. I don't think I'm going to get used to the fact that the school system here sends them in bad weather conditions. It only takes one careless driver to change so many lives. So I say a prayer as she pulls away and I keep busy making our house a "home" and await her return. Hayley is safely at home today, but dealing with some things from our accident...a long road ahead.

Homemaking has many areas and one important one is for my girl's to eat well and be able to focus during the day and that is with a good nutritious lunch. Now, I'll be first to say cheese on white bread would not be a first choice, but for Kathleen being so picky when she eats; I'll happily make it to know she is not hungry at school. I am fortunate she loves her fruit, so today I sliced up some kiwis and washed some grapes. To the left is all natural yogurt coated pretzels, and with the fruit a small mint. I also try to juice a fresh juice for her thermos or send in a water bottle. Included each day in her lunch is a joke, a riddle and a special note from mom. Apparently I've become quite popular at the lunch table along with Kathleen as everyone rushes to see what I've sent in for the day, both notes and food wise. ;-)  It's the little things. I used to do this with Hayley's lunches as well, but apparently it is not cool at 13....who knew? LOL! My girls do not buy school lunches and I do my best to keep them eating healthy, this past year was tough for us and we got a bit off track sometimes, especially during the move and setting up our home. But it's a new year and I'm back to getting things in order and it sure feels great! The more organized I am the more efficiently everything else runs.



Something else the girl's enjoy is when I make homemade fruit roll-ups. They may not be "beautiful" but they are tasty and healthy! Simple to make, just takes time. Simply blend 3 pints of strawberries with a little honey in a blender. Lay out parchment paper on a cookie sheet and pour the mixture on top, keeping a rectangle shape even and a certain thickness. Bake in oven at 200 degrees for 2-3 hours ( be sure it is not sticky when removing, but don't over cook or it will be too hard). Let cool 3 hours or over night. (I find overnight worked better) Cut into strips, roll them up and you have one happy child! :-) I like to tie it up with curly ribbon or, regular ribbon or even string will work. Then I put it in her lunch box and store the extras in an air tight container or a Ziploc baggie.


You then have a very happy child! ;-)


Jerry enjoys when I make fresh breads and muffins for him for work.... o.k. he enjoys anything I make for him... lol. I usually send in extra for his workers as well. So many single guys that have no one to cook for them so I don't mind. :-) This is cinnamon raisin bread; just serve it slightly warmed with a little butter or jelly and delicious! All natural ingredients and yup better eat it quickly because there's no preservatives here to have it lasting for days!



Another item I make is homemade whole wheat bread crumbs, preferably from bread I've made, but sometimes finding a good quality bread in the store to use is ok too. Super easy, add bread pieces to food processor and chop. Spread on baking sheet and bake for about 20 mins at 300 degrees; being sure to stir up in between (about 10 min mark) so it cooks evenly. Use right away or freeze for later.

Next to it in this picture is homemade fish cakes, approved by Hayley until everyone else tries them tonight ;-) I found this recipe in a new cookbook I got by another blogger whose site I enjoy visiting. 100 Days of real Food. Highly recommend this book, lots of yummy healthy, natural recipes. It was my Christmas gift to myself this year.



A little switch in topic as I'm still distracted by the crazy weather outside. Noticing the bird's nest outside my kitchen window that I enjoyed watching the baby cardinals hatch from this summer. Wonder if the nest will be reused this year?



Cooper has decided he is definitely a cold weather dog... loves to roll in it, eat it and stand there and let the wind blow his hair..... I'm calling him as he sits and stares at me like I have two heads!! Like "really mom?, I'm having a "blast"!!


Then he proceeds to turn his head and ignore me like I'm not even there, lol. Crazy dog as temperatures are in the negative digits.


Eventually he did decide to come in. ;-)

Living on this hill which gives us amazing views also brings the most intense winds and wacky weather I've ever seen. This is a shot I took of how bad the wind blows and recovers our driveway constantly. Is it summer yet? The locals tell us we haven't seen anything yet....that it's nothing here to get 15-19 inches in a day! *Sigh* Any suggestions for surviving the snow? It's pretty but beyond that, I'm not impressed.


A cool thing we found on the door was the frost imprint of our wreath on the door. Yes it's the only thing left up from Christmas as Jerry made it and I just can't get rid of it while it's still in great shape :-)


We received a few gift certificates to one of our favorite places to eat...Cracker Barrel and I found this cutest little Raccoon on clearance that lights up with LED lights...yeah couldn't resist, he's sitting right next to the girl's computer...just too adorable not to mention!


So for fun and good memories, I thought I'd include a couple flashback photos from when the girl's were younger and the weather was warmer! This was Hayley getting ready for a tea party. She always has loved hats and fashion and just lights up a room with her gorgeous smile and bubbly personality. :-)


My little Kathleen has always danced to her own tune and created her own fashion trends...like snow boots while watering my clematis in 90 degree temperatures, lol. But they learn so much by having that freedom to express themselves.


While searching my files for some good flashback photos I also stumbled across some home movies from our old neighbor...great memories, great times, so I laughed and teared up... and I am thankful I have the memories to look back upon. Our lives are rich with dear friends and although we may be far...they are always close in our hearts.

"Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose"  From the show The Wonder Years

"The leaves of memory seemed to make a mournful rustling in the dark" Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory"  Dr. Seuss

           Thanks for stopping by today! Hope wherever you are visiting from it is nice and WARM!

                                                                        Blessings,
                                                                              Jill

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas Wrap up, Pantry organization, New year 2015


This year we enjoyed a very quiet Christmas at home, the 4 of us and our 6 fur babies. One of Elvis's favorite places to be was under the Christmas tree. :-). He could be stalking Kathleen here...lol, that's her red hair at the bottom ;-)


Love this picture of my girls on Christmas Eve by the tree.



Table all set and ready for Santa to come...


Our tradition of reading The Night Before Christmas....



Santa knew the girls were good this year :-)



Kathleen was the one to find where Santa hid the pickle ;-)



One of Hayley's favorite gifts.....Olaf!




Sweet Cooper....


First round of organization for the new year, Kathleen and I tackled was my kitchen pantry! Moving in it was a matter of just getting things put away quickly, then we had a lot of company and time flew by. It has been driving me crazy to not be organized, as everything is so much more efficient when it is. Kathleen and I took everything out, hence the mess! LOL


It was also an opportunity to purge some junk foods that had snuck their way in ;-) 2015 is bringing many changes for us...


So all emptied and cleaned...


I got this shoe holder from Five Below to store more items on the door. It's great for raisins, nuts, beans, etc. Things not too heavy or bulky so the door still closes easily.


Have to laugh at Elvis, he always has to go in climb the shelves and check out what we're doing!



O.K. so I have to share we snuck in some fresh juice to keep us going... An apple, a carrot and a pint of strawberries...Yummy and so healthy!


And after 2 days, we are done! I got the colored bins at Five Below also; they are metal and are great for storing items, especially if something leaks it can be easily cleaned out. I love the chalkboard feature on them as well to label what's inside! I also got the stack able blue containers (second shelf) and the wire baskets on the bottom from Five Below. During this process I got out my notebook and recorded everything I have on hand. I also did this with my refrigerator and freezer. Then I can easily menu plan based on what I have and crossing off what I use and making a new list as I go to replenish my staple items. Good organization is key to a successful, motivating kitchen :-) Plus it doesn't have to cost a fortune when you get creative with items available. There are still items I need to use up and eliminate for bringing back, but I can make items and send to Jerry's work. The guys in his shop always appreciate when I bake goodies for them :-)


This was a healthy dinner I made last night, that became lunch for today. So simple and healthy! I cooked up Chicken breast, then used frozen stir fry vegetables, and orzo pasta. Using my dutch oven (which I love) I added some vegetable broth in the bottom, then placed frozen vegetables in to cook. In another pot I boiled the orzo in the vegetable broth also, then drained and set aside. The chicken I had precooked the previous night, so I just got it up in bite sized pieces. When vegetables were done I added the orzo and chicken in with them and stirred and heated through. Delicious and healthy! Today for lunch I reheated and cut up some yummy strawberries. I like making meals that have leftovers or options to freeze.


Wanted to share another healthy recipe with you that I got from my sister, and have been using for years, this is so delicious! I made a big batch for Jerry's Christmas party and it was a hit!

Pasta Salad

Box of bow tie pasta
Red, yellow and orange peppers
Red onion (to save time you can buy these prechopped in your local store, I also prechop onions myself and freeze for future use)
Feta cheese
Asparagus
1 cup of red wine vinegar
3/4 cup of sugar

Boil pasta (do not overcook and make it really mooshy)
Boil sugar and vinegar, stirring until sugar dissolves; remove from heat
Chop onions and peppers
Cut up and boil asparagus about 5 mins (Don't want it to get too soggy)

Mix all ingredients into pasta, sprinkle in feta cheese add the vinegar/sugar mix. Stir well and serve right away. If you store it in the fridge add just a touch of olive oil before serving and be sure to stir well to keep the noodles from sticking.

Delicious and healthy! You can use wheat bow tie pasta to make it even healthier. It's a hit at gatherings. ;-)


Hope everyone had an amazing Christmas! Hard to believe this is the last day of 2014! I'm praying for a much better 2015 for my family, it's been a tough year for us. But being together supporting and loving each other has been a true blessing. Focusing on what's good has definitely gotten me through.

Saw this quote and just had to share it....it makes sense for so many things in our lives and the direction we want to go. I had to share it and I encourage you all to follow your heart and do what makes you happy! 2015 is full of new beginnings!


You know I love good quotes so have to share a few more for the new year.

"You can talk with someone for years, everyday, and still, it won't mean as much as what you can have when you sit in front of someone, not saying a word, yet you feel like you have known that person forever...connections are made with the heart, not the tongue"   C. JoyBell C.

"The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege" Charles Kuralt

"New Years Day. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. New questions to be asked, embraced and loved. Answers to be discovered and then lived in this transformative year of delight and self-discovery. Today carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams give birth to change"   Sarah Ban Breathnach

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy, successful 2015!!! Many Blessings to you all!

                                                                Blessings,
                                                                     Jill