Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Mid-Summer's Break

 Hey guys...life has taken over lately and has felt a bit crazy.  I didn't plan on taking last week of from blogging, and I didn't plan on taking this week off from blogging.  It just happened.  The kids and I spent a weekend in Mankato for Lulu's A/B swim finals...so fun!  Then, it just felt like a recovery week.  We hosted Daisy's year-end soccer party this last weekend and then had my family over for my mom's birthday party.  This week is going to be major planning and packing for our camping adventure in the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan on Lake Superior.  Can't wait!  Come home on Monday and it's get ready to host my cousin's Bridal Shower Brunch (Thurs) and then it's her wedding (Fri) and a Pig Roast gift opening party (Sat).  So excited!  All that to say...I may not be back until August 12th.  Maybe I'll bop in here and there...but these random weeks make it tough for me to keep on schedule.  Hope you're having a great summer!
 This is a picture of our garden harvest.  I am not a gardener.  I pretend to be one...but my garden is really about "survival of the fittest". 

Look at the fabulous snack we had!  All from our gardens.
 Cleaned up the onions so they are ready to be used.
 Here is a shot of the car all loaded up with donations.  I was hoping to be finished with the kids rooms before I made this drop off...but we couldn't get finished, and we needed this stuff out.  I'm hoping the last 3 weeks in August will be used to finish up the kids rooms before the school year gets started.  I've done some homeschool planning lately...probably one of my favorite things to do.  I sure do love planning out our year!!!
Take care all!

XOXO Tiffany

"Is it nice, my preciousss?  Is it juicy?  Is it scrumptiously crunchable?"  The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien  (my favorite line in The Hobbit so far...Lulu and I quote it constantly:)

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Closet Disaster

 My closet was a mess.  I actually took these photos in February so I had a few extra items up top for Easter and the girls spring birthday's, but there is no excuse for it to look like this.
 Last Saturday morning, I came across a new blog...The Minimalist Mom.  I was hooked.  The stuff she was saying about owning two pairs of jeans and leading such a simple life that she never has to say, "I'm so busy!"...I was inspired.  I thought, I know what I am going to do this week...organize the upstairs.  I listed all the rooms/bathrooms/closets that are upstairs and I thought, maybe I can check off two a week.  I thought I would start on Monday.  But, I couldn't wait.  I started digging in.  Making all sorts of piles.  I couldn't stop.  I asked Matt if he would take Daisy to her soccer tournament without me because I wanted to keep cruising.  I wanted to do my bathroom and bedroom too!  Actually, I even got to the hall closet! 
 Do you want to see how it looks????

I think it only took me about an hour...I was on a mission.

I am realizing that I probably only use like 10% of what I store in my closet.  This is a little run down of what I have in my closet (from left to right).

On the top shelf, I have one tub of winter-only clothes and one tub of handbags/backpacks/totes.  I also moved my wrapping paper up there (it was on the floor).  Then, I have extra hangars, and my hanging tops.  Lots of Gap camis, tank tops, and some short/long sleeve tops.  On the bottom shelf (I love this shelf...keeps stuff off the floor for easier vacuuming) I have two tubs of gift bags/tissue paper/ribbons.  (Hoping to keep weeding this stash down).  Then, I have my jewelry boxes and some folded "grubby" clothes.  I kept about 1/10th of my grubby stash.  I mean really, how many "painting" clothes do I need?
 Another view.
 On top I have an Amazon box (Christmas gift for Daisy) and a green tub that holds little gifts that I find.  Two suitcases...I will probably bring my large pink suitcase up here too, now that I have the room.

Hanging are sweatshirts, jean jackets, skirts, leggins, scarves/belts (really weeded these out!  I don't think I've worn a belt in 10 years), some seasonal clothes, some sentimental clothes.

On the bottom shelf, I have boots, a basket of running clothes, a basket of swimsuits, and a white basket of trouser socks/tights/leg warmers.
 On the last wall, these little shelves hold hats, socks and panties, jeans (I kept 3 pairs of jeans that I love, two pairs of shorts...I almost never wear shorts, 1 pair of animal print skinny jeans, and 1 pair of gray sweats.  I usually wear jeans or skirts.  On the bottom shelf are jammies.
I had so much fun with this project.  Now, on to the kids rooms.  Uggg.  They don't like to get rid of stuff.  I actually snuck in and cleared out the first layer and they accidentally saw stuff in bags and started freaking out.  I was like, "you have not worn that stuff...ever!".  They said, "I know, but I want to!".  No.  It's going.  It's just too much work to manage your "stuff".  You should see my donation pile!  It's getting massive.

I better go and pack for our little weekend away...

XOXO Tiffany

"As you decrease the quantity of your child's toys and clutter, you increase their attention and their capacity for deep play."  Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sewing Wednesday...a little project

 This was a fun project...
 I got a request for 3 little boy sleeping bag sets for a few little brothers that like to play dolls with their sisters.
 I used up-cycled pillow cases and sheets and estate sale fabrics...and snaps instead of ribbons.
I hope these little dudes have a good time "camping".

The alarm went off at 4:30am...I hit snooze twice...got up and slapped myself together...leaving at 6am to bring Lulu to swim team...she's swimming in the A/B Finals this weekend down in Mankato MN. 

I'll have an organizing project to share on Friday...

XOXO Tiffany

"For life today in America is based on the premise of ever widening circles of contact and communication".  Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1955)  **This book is timeless.

Monday, July 16, 2012

What We Ate Last Week...July 8-14 2012...+ Italian Dunkers recipe!!!

 I took lots of "food" pictures this week...So, here is a peek at what we ate and I'll list it all out down below.  Above, Spinach Salad with Spaghetti.

Breakfast Pita...(eggs, bacon, and salsa in a Trader Joes whole wheat pita.
 Zucchini from my garden!  We ate all 3 in one day...I shredded one up right away and added it to my spaghetti sauce (above), and I sauteed the other two up with olive oil and curry seed (below).
 Zucchini in olive oil and curry seed.
 Sauteed Zucchini...I totally over-crowded the pan...I will do two batches next time for more evenly browned zucchini.
 Another raspberry pie...this time I made a whole wheat/butter pie crust and my family was none the wiser!  Throw some creamy homemade vanilla ice cream on anything and they are happy.
 Sauteed bacon, onion, and spinach for my....
 ...Green Eggs and Ham:).  After sauteing the 3 above ingredients (spinach will get tiny and wilted), add some beaten eggs (I used farm fresh, free range eggs 2 miles from my house!).  The girls polished these eggs off and were asking for more...MJ was a little more cautious...stinker.
 Peanut butter cookies with mini kisses.
 Chicken Cucumber Salad with Grapes.
 So...that was a snap-shot...here it is all listed out!

Sunday:
B-Breakfast Pitas
L-Gogo Squeez, Smoothie, Energy Balls (a quick lunch before we head to Fergus Falls)
D-Jimmy Johns (on the way home from Fergus Falls)

Monday:
B-Breakfast Pitas
L-Spaghetti (with zucchini), spinach salad topped with sunflower seeds and craisins
D-Chicken (sauteed in olive oil with Montreal steak seasoning), Curried Zucchini

Tuesday:
B-Cereal
L-Annies Mac and Cheese, veggies/dip
D-Italian Dunkers w/ salad, Raspberry Pie with vanilla ice cream

Wednesday:
B-Green eggs and ham with toast (leftover french bread) and banana
L-Mango, Pineapple, Banana (green) Smoothie
D-Chicken Cucumber Salad, grapes, cookies (brought dinner to a friend)

Thursday:
B-Cereal
L-Leftovers...Chicken Salad, Grapes, Pie and ice cream
D-Jimmy John's $1 sub day!

Friday:
B-Creamy Wheat
L-Chips and Cheese with Bean Salsa
D-Homemade Whole Wheat bread with jam and peanut butter, cookies 

Saturday:
B-Pancakes
L-Mango, Banana, Pineapple (green) Smoothie
D-Italian Dunkers (with leftover whole wheat bread), Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is how I make my Italian Dunkers!  Did anybody enjoy these for hot lunch back in your school days???  Once a month or so, they would serve these babies up on a Thursday, and I'm telling you, the hot lunch line was out the door and down the hall!  So good!  Here is my homemade version...

Mix together 6 tbsp soft butter with 3 garlic cloves chopped.
 Slice a loaf of french bread the long way and then twice crosswise.  You'll have 6 little sections.  I made homemade french bread with my bread maker...feel free to just buy some.  Then, spread the garlic butter on each section.
 Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese and shredded mozzarella.  You could also sprinkle some Italian seasoning on top at this point!  This is how I store my cheese...I buy blocks of cheese and then shred it all up in my food processor and store it in glass bread pans topped with plastic wrap. 
 Place cheesy garlic bread on a pan and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes.  I usually turn the pan at this point and let it go for another minute or so.  Be sure to set your timer!  It can go from melty to burnt very quickly.
 Serve with spaghetti sauce.  I used my leftover zucchini spaghetti sauce from Monday.
Enjoy!!!

XOXO Tiffany

"A devout life does bring wealth, but it's the rich simplicity of being yourself before God....if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that's enough". 1 Timothy 6:6-8 in the Message Bible

Friday, July 13, 2012

"I'm a little quirky". "A little?!?!"

 I've been struggling a touch with decorating my family room.  I had the pale yellow walls and the white woodwork.  Love.  But adding in the next layer has been tricky.  I got this fabulous avocado green chair at an antique shop (occasional shop...The Corner Shoppe) and I really love it.  I was hoping this room could have just tons of random colors and be all bright and fun.  Turns out I struggle a bit with random colors.  I'm kind of a black/white/animal print/+ one other color type person.  The first three are nuetrals.  When I made my ruffle curtains, I was really drawn to these yellow/gold colors.  While I thought that was fun, it really got me in a color rut.  I've had a hard time committing to another color.  The green chair just kind of hung out in the backround and I was never sure if it would stay.  I was hoping to bring in lavendar...or a robin's egg blue.  It never quite worked for me.  Then, I thought...what if I just go this green?  I have this little white table and chairs (below) that I also got at an occasional shop (Ramshackled Treasures in Zimmerman MN).  I've tried different pieces of fabric on it to see what works...everything felt forced.  Then I grabbed a tablecloth (above) that I had bought at a Thrift Store to use for fabric...I put it on the table and was like...."That's it!".  I have to go with Avocado Green and Gold.  I have a total '70's living room.  I really wasn't hoping to go this route...but I think it just works.
 I've been known to be a little quirky.  Matt has "joked" about this for years (sometimes he jokes about it and sometimes he is truly annoyed).  Certain things need to be done a certain way.  I have strong opinions about random things.  I have a tough time keeping my mouth shut (got that from my mom).  My kids have gotten used to this about me.  But, that doesn't mean it has been easy for them.  The other day, Lulu and I (below) were heading to the library...she was eating a peanut butter cookie.  When she was done, she stretched out with her hands over her head and put her hands on the ceiling of my car.  I said, "ooh...don't get my ceiling all greasy".  She said, "What do you mean greasy?  I was just eating a cookie".  I said, "I know, but there is butter and peanut butter in those.  Look at your shiny fingers".  She was like, "Well, nobody is going to look at your ceiling and say, 'man, you have a greasy ceiling'".  I said, "I know they won't, but I will".  I think she rolled her eyes.  I said, "Sweetie, I'm sorry.  Your Mama is a little quirky".  She said, "A LITTLE"?!?!  With a look that said, 'classic under statement'.  Then we giggled.
Ha!  I get this from my dad.  I think he will totally relate to this story.  I still remember all the random things my dad was "quirky" about.  Here's one...picture it...family road-trip...Mom is behind the wheel...while taking a clover leaf exit, she veers slightly over into the shoulder...uh oh....here it comes....Poppy says, "Get out of the shoulder...(while swiping his hand to the side)....there's all kinds of nails and broken glass over there".  I have never looked at shouders the same.  Nails and broken glass.

Have a great weekend!!!  I'll be back on Monday with a recipe:)

XOXO Tiffany

"Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens."  1 Thessalonians 5:16 in the Message Bible

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sewing Wednesday...Time to list on Etsy

 I had a special request last week for one of my American Girl Doll sleeping bag sets.  I couldn't pass it up.  So, I decided on a little vintage green and floral number.  The floral is a flannel fabric that I got at an estate sale last summer and the green is an old tablecloth that I made many years ago and didn't use any more.  Aren't they sweet together?  One is sold and one will be listed on Etsy this week.

I also have 5 women's skirts ready to be listed...as well as the other 4 little girl skirts from last week...
 This week I am going to finish up a fun order for 3 "boy" doll sleeping bag sets.  These are even more fun that I had originally thought!  I picked some fun fabrics in blues and greens.  I'll share more details about these next week.
Lucy had swim team from 6:30-8am...30 minutes from our home...uggg.  I got some good reading in, so that was fun, but I want my mornings back!  We came home today and I made a smoothie.  When I complete this post I am going to sew till lunch.  Can't wait!

XOXO Tiffany

"Keep Calm and Sew On"  Pinterest

Monday, July 9, 2012

What we ate last week...(July 1-7)

 Good Morning...I find it so much easier to share "what we ate last week" as opposed to "what we will eat this week", because it changes so much!  I'll have a plan for the week, but we do a lot of shifting.  The key is to have a mini plan on what you would like to eat, and to make a list and buy all your ingredients!  That way, you are always set to make a handful of recipes.

I love my new beverage server (above)!  I got it at Home Goods for $19.99.  And, I love infused water...this one I made with watermelon, cucumber, lime and mint.  Mmmm.

Our chips and cheese.  We had these a couple of times this week...it was busy, so it's nice to have a couple of easy things that you can make quickly.  Just throw a pile of tortilla chips (I like Costco's Organic Tortilla Chips) on a plate and top with shredded cheese (the kids like mozzarella).  Microwave for about 30 seconds...serve with salsa or a bean dip!  Add some fresh fruit and lunch/dinner is served.
 Here is What We Ate Last Week:

Sunday:
B-Pancakes
L-Cheesy Pizza Fries and fresh fruit
D-Leftovers

Monday:
L-Chips/Cheese, fruit/veggies
D-BBQ Ribs, Veggie stir fry (Matt's b-day)

Tuesday:
L-Raspberry/Pineapple/Banana Smoothie
D-Chipotle Black Bean Burgers (photo below...pre-grill)
served on Trader Joe's Pitas with guacamole
Southwestern Quinoa Salad (photo below)
Infused Water (photo above)
Watermelon
My girlfriend, Kelly, brought her Black eyed pea dip with chips and a S'mores Trifle that she invented...it was awesome!  We partied with friends this night...Kelly and family were over plus two friends from New York (vegetarians:).  A fun night of eating and swimming.

Wednesday:
B-Cereal
L-Dave and Busters (Daddy's birthday lunch...we went on Wednesday b/c it's 1/2 price game day)
D-Vegetarian Leftovers + Homemade Raspberry Pie and Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Thursday:
B-Homemade Bread/Homemade Strawberry Jam
L-More Vegetarian Leftovers...still so good.
D-Ordered Pizza

Friday:
B-Homemade Bread/Homemade Strawberry Jam
L-Clean out the fridge
Snack:  iced coffee/iced tea/lemonade/buttered popcorn/watermelon...we had friends over for a pool party...everybody brought a snack or treat to share!
D-Leftover Pizza

Saturday:
B-Creamy Wheat
L-Chips and Cheese with salsa and black eyed pea dip/watermelon
D-Grilled Cheese Sammies/veggies and dip

Click this link for the Black Bean Chipotle Burgers from Iowa Girl Eats.  I would make these again!!!
 Here's my recipe for the Southwestern Quinoa Salad...another favorite!
Southwestern Quinoa Salad
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups chicken/veggie broth
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn
1 15 ounce can  black beans
½ red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 large lime (about ¼ cup)
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
Rinse quinoa thoroughly to rid it of its bitter coating.
Place in a 2 quart saucepan with the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy. Allow to cool.
Place cooled cooked quinoa in a salad bowl with the corn, black beans, red pepper, red onion, jalapeno pepper and cilantro.
Whisk lime juice, oil, and cumin in a small bowl. Drizzle over quinoa salad, then toss.
I doubled this recipe and would make it again for sure!  I found the recipe on-line (somewhere)...I only changed one thing...I subbed out cherry tomatoes for the chopped red pepper.  Love!

I'm out...have a great week!

XOXO Tiffany

"So speak encouraging words to one another.  Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind."  1 Thessalonians 5:9-11

Friday, July 6, 2012

An Organizing Project...

 One of my favorite things to do is sit out back on my deck with the umbrella up and read a great book.  I try to do this every day.  Another favorite thing to do is to organize/simplify!  One area that needed it lately was my tablecloth collection.  I was storing my tablecloths in two places because they didn't all fit in the original location...the little cupboard above the microwave.  So, I gathered all my tablecloths/placemats/cloth napkins in one spot.

Here is my lovely pile.  I had two Valentines Day tablecloths...two Halloween tablecloths...tons of Christmas tablecloths...aren't those events just one day a year?  Why so many tablecloths? 
 I decided to get rid of these (below).  This wasn't easy...I really love some of these.  I got rid of both Valentine's Day tablecloths and two Christmas tablecloths.  And I decided to keep one solid red tablecloth that can be used for Christmas and Valentine's Day.  I got rid of my two sets of placemats...mostly b/c they don't wash well and let's face it, they get dirty!
 I put these cloth napkins in my sewing room to use for something down the road...I put them in the donation bag several times but somehow they kept getting pulled back out.
 And...here is my little cupboard of keepers!  (and my little white wicker picnic basket that we haven't used yet this summer!)
 I feel like I can breath...sometimes it's just better to have less options.  It makes the options that you do have more special.  I'll have to see which ones I actually use this year...maybe next summer I could scale this back even more!
Do you have an item that you know you have too many of that you could scale down this week???  It feels good!  And now I have a big bag of beautiful tablecloths to bring to Goodwill!

XOXO Tiffany

"Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally.  I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances....I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty.  Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am".  Paul writes in Philippians 4:10-14 in the Message Bible

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sewing Wednesday...A Mid Year Resolution

Happy 4th of July!!!  We are loving this week at home...Sweetie took the week off of work and we are hardly leaving the house.  We've been enjoying our new pool and Sweetie is working like crazy getting our backyard to look less like a war zone and more like a relaxing oasis.  It really got destroyed with the installation.  

The kids and I went raspberry picking this morning and then we came home and wrote/sketched in our Nature Journals.  Then we went to Dave and Busters for Sweeties birthday lunch.  Then it was home for a little nap (man are we getting old) and a swim in the pool.  I've got a fresh raspberry pie in the oven right now and I thought I'd better sit and get this post out!

Last week while the kids were at VBS, I made 5 little girl twirly skirts.  I sold one of them before I could get this picture.  Hoping to list these on Etsy soon...  

Well, a week or so ago, Sweetie and I were working on the garage...my fabric storage space to be specific.  This did not go over well with Sweetie.  He said, "something needs to be done!".  Yes, I have a problem.  I've always said, "I don't have any vices.  I don't drink, smoke, do drugs, gamble...".  Well...I hoard fabric.  Looking at the masses of storage tubs and bags of fabric in the garage (and knowing there were mountains in my sewing studio too), I decided to make a Mid Year Resolution. 

I will not buy any fabric or notions until January 1st, 2013.  Then I will take another look and decide on a new goal for the year (just because I like to do that).  I have enough stuff.  This will not hinder me in making any new fabulous creations...it will just keep me out of Joanns, SR Harris, and my new obsession, Thrift Stores.  I'm hoping to make a dent in my stash...use up what I have, and in the process, get rid of (more) stuff too. 

Kids are in the pool...I'm off to read for a bit while I wait to devour that pie.

XOXO Tiffany

"The lake was beautiful and always changing in hue and texture".  The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Monday, July 2, 2012

What we ate last week...

 Hi!!!  It is so good to be back on-line!  The kids and I just finished up our 5 days of no screen time last week.  It was so enjoyable.  I can't even believe how peaceful and calm and kind my kids were when they weren't attached to their iPod Touches or playing Wii or asking me if they could check their emails (the minute I sit down at the computer).  I am already looking forward to doing this again next summer.  I could actually do that once a month...hmmm.  Though, I don't think I will give up my email the next time.  Nothing coming through my email is life or death...but it is one of my main ways of communication with friends and is also extremely key for the kids sports.  I'm thinking I just won't allow clicking on any attachments or opening up Facebook or Pinterest or other blogs.
The kids and I went Strawberry Picking about a week and a half ago...love love loved it!  This was our second time going...we go to The Strawberry Basket in Monticello MN.  We're hoping to go Blueberry/Raspberry picking in the morning of the 4th of July.  They are getting picked out...so we'll just pick whichever one they have available that morning.

Well, I've got a busy morning to get to...so here's

What we ate last week:
(Sweetie was out of town, so it was simple simple simple!)
Monday:
B-Cantaloupe Smoothie
L-Costco samples and a churro (errands)
D-Chips and Cheese and Salsa (fruit and veggies)

Tuesday:
L-Jimmy Johns (between VBS and Piano lessons)
D-Annies Mac and Cheese/orange slices/veggies and dip

Wednesday:
L-Breakfast Taco
D-kids ate at a friends house

Thursday:
B-Cereal (Kashi Cinnamon Harvest)
L-Annies Mac and Cheese, celery and dip, clementines (kids had friends over)

Friday:
B-Honey Whole Wheat Pancakes
L-(in the car between VBS and swim team)
Gogo Squeeze (applesauce), cheese stick, raisins, sunflower seeds
D-(the girls hosted their book club here)
Pizza, breadsticks, homemade vanilla ice cream with homemade strawberry sauce

Saturday:
B-Honey Whole Wheat Pancakes
L-Leftover pizza
D-Taco Salad

OK...I've gotta run and do my Ab workout.  Have a great day!  And, Happy Birthday Sweetie!!!

XOXO Tiffany

"...we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse.  We have far more interesting things to do with our lives.  Each of us is an original".  Amen!  Galations 5:26 in the Message Bible.