Friday, December 13, 2013

A Closet Tip by Lucy

I walked into Lucy's room the other day and saw this...
 I can't tell you how happy it made me.
I love little organization projects.
I also love the idea of picking out 7 outfits that you love, and wearing them.
I've been trying to do that in my closet.
I have a special section for stuff that I love.

She wanted me to come back and look at it later in the day because she was filling all her hangers with outfits while consulting her calendar.
 A fun and cute little closet project.
Now if only the rest of her closet could be as organized as that set of 7 hangers.
 It's been a cold and snowy week.
I sure do love snow in December.
It actually feels like Christmas is coming.
Have you been doing any Christmas baking lately?
I let each of my kids pick their favorite Christmas Cookie and then they get to have a personal baking session with Mom.
We have had two baking sessions so far...
both kids picked Rolo Pretzels.
Now...of course those are good, but they're not exactly my idea of Christmas Baking.
I'm looking forward to making some Butter Spritz, Ginger Cookies, Corn Flake Wreaths, and Peanut Butter Blossoms.

What's your absolute favorite thing to bake in December???

XOXO Tiffany

"Too many scheduled activities may limit a child's ability to motivate and direct themselves."
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Alter the waist of your jeans! (Sewing and reading Wednesday)

I was needing some "new" jeans...
so, I headed to Goodwill and bought 3 awesome pairs of jeans for between $4-8 each.
They all fit great at the store...
but, when I brought them home, washed them, and wore them,
two of the pairs were really loose in the waist.
Now...while I'd like to say that "my waist is just so tiny"...
the reality is that I've needed to go up a size to accommodate my
"gave-birth-three-times" hips and butt.
If you have troubles with the waist of your jeans not fitting well,
you will love this tutorial!
It is so easy.
You wouldn't even need a sewing machine.

OK...take an awesome pair of jeans that are a bit loose in the waist.
 Snip!
This method will not win me any awards, but it works!
Yes, snip just a touch past the waistband.
 Overlap the waist band and pin.
Feel free to snip both sides, try the jeans on and pin.
Make it tight because of course, jeans loosen as you wear them.
 I just eye-balled mine, I kind of knew how much they needed to come in.
 Bring it to your machine and zig zag stitch up and down with blue thread.
(or hand stitch like crazy)
 Takes minutes.
So easy and my jeans fit amazing!
I've worn and washed each pair several times
Those zig zags will usually be covered up with a belt, or your top, or if you're like me, a skirt.
And, frankly, they just don't bother me since I'm not having to hike up my jeans every couple of minutes.
 A close up.
 Another view.
 Here is the other pair of jeans that I fixed.
As you can see, they have another issue.
That annoying hole.
 I just cut a little square of fabric, pinned it down, and did another zig zag stitch around it.
No more upper thigh being revealed.
 OK, another issue.
(You're totally wondering why I brought home these jeans with all these problems!
The price was right.
And, fixing them is so easy!)
There was a tear in the back.
Somebody had tried to super glue it closed.  Oh my.
 I cut a piece of denim from my stash wider on all sides than the hole.
Pinned it down and zig zagged with white thread.
 Easy peasy.
This was my second time through.
I had washed and worn them and realized that I didn't stitch far enough out on one side of the patch.
Easy fix.  They've been great ever since!
Check your closet and see if you have any jeans that need some fixing.
If you don't think you'll fix them up, drop them off at a thrift store so that someone else can discover them and fix them up:).
If you only have perfectly fitting jeans in your closet, head out to your local thrift shop and pick up a cute pair!
At Goodwill on Tuesdays, you could get a pair of jeans for $1.49!

I'm still reading the same books as last week.
I haven't found much time to read lately.
We have been out most nights, and if we are home, we're watching a Christmas movie together.
Tis the season to be busy...Fa la la la la la la la la.

Have a great one!

XOXO Tiffany

"And I tell you now, in the closing days of this campaign, that I would rather be with you and defeated than against you and victorious".  
Destiny of the Republic by Candace Millard
(one of the best books I read in '13)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cheese Tortellini Soup

 Happy Monday morning!
I love soup.
We have it every week.
I wanted to share this recipe for Cheese Tortellini Soup.
I found it on the Life in Grace blog and have already made it a couple of times.
It is flavorful and yummy!
I even brought it to a friends house that had just returned from a trip.
Add some warm crusty bread and you have a simple meal.

First, gather your ingredients.
 Saute.
 Then, dump in the rest.  Done!

Here it is in full:
(I used veggie broth instead of chicken broth...and, I got the tri-colored tortellini from Costco.  It comes in a two pack, you only need one half)

Cheese Tortellini Soup:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 1/2 boxes of veggie broth (10 cups)
1 small bag of spinach
1 large package of cheese tortellini (refrigerated)
28 oz of diced tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1-2 tbsp honey
salt and pepper

Saute the onions, celery, and carrots in olive oil for 5-7 minutes.
Add the diced garlic and sauté for another couple of minutes.
Add the veggie broth, tortellini, tomatoes, spinach, vinegar, and honey.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until the pasta is tender.
Serve with grated parmesan cheese and warm, crusty bread.
Enjoy!
(easily serves 6 adults)
 My family brainstormed some things that are important to us in our kitchen.
It just kind of evolved with everybody writing in something different.
I typed it up and posted it on our kitchen cupboard.
A nice reminder.
Have a great week...
make something yummy for your family!

XOXO Tiffany

"The key to being hospitable, then, is grounded in loving others rather than owning and showing off an exquisite, perfectly decorated house".
Heavenly Hospitality by Jo Ann Janssen

Friday, December 6, 2013

Homeschooling...a day in the life.

 I thought I'd share our typical homeschool day.
We are in our 6th year of homeschooling.
I have a 7th, 6th, and 4th grader.
Where has the time gone???
Our first 3 years looked very similar.
These last 3 years have all looked a bit different from each other!
 This year, I divided our day into 4 parts.
We (almost) always accomplish Parts 1-3.
If we are around in the afternoon, we work on Part 4.

Here it is:
Part 1:
Scripture memorization/pray
Missionary Read a Loud book
a group math lesson
Science devotional (Julie von Vetts book)
Science (the Elements book...we learn 2 new elements/day)
Little House on the Prairie read a loud
(the kids wouldn't read this series on their own so I'm reading it to them this year...one of the things that I just couldn't let them graduate from my homeschool without having heard/read.  We are on book 4 and totally in love!)
 Part 2:
Math (Life of Fred)
Khan Academy (on line)
Piano
DuoLingo (Spanish app)
Quick Math (math app for MJ)

I sit with Lucy and MJ to work on their math lessons.  Daisy is almost completely independent with her math and prefers to do it on her own.  I'm there if she needs me.  
The other 4 "subjects" (above) they do independently.
 Part 3:
30 minutes of quiet reading (together)
**my absolute favorite time of the day
 Part 4:
Chemistry DVD
(We watch one lesson two times each week...the first time through, we enjoy.  The second time through, Daisy, Lucy and I take notes and MJ just watches).
Spanish...song, craft, cooking
Art Appreciation
Music Appreciation
Quilting
(Quilting is the one thing we haven't started yet but I refuse to take it off the list)
And, that's it!
We do school 5 days/week.  Every morning from 8am-12pm.
We manage to accomplish a lot in 4 hours!
Then, we do 2 afternoons of school/week (see part 4).
Of the other 3 afternoons
-we spend one with our co-op...
we're either having a lesson, doing presentations, having art class, a field trip, or the nature center.
-one afternoon is piano lessons
-and then we volunteer at the food shelf a couple of times/month.

If you noticed that we are missing history/geography...you would be wrong.
We are getting a crazy amount of history/geography in so many areas!
In our missionary books, we've learned about awesome people as well as India and Columbia.
In Little House, we are following their journey across the states (Wisconsin to Kansas to Minnesota...as well as reading about Almanzo in New York).
We read a pilgrim book last month and learned so much about England, Holland, and Plymouth Rock.
In our art and music appreciation, we are learning about people and places.
Even our math and quiet reading time is filled with history/geography.
Whenever we read, I sit with our U.S./World map close by so that we can always look up destinations.
I use a placemat sized map...love it.
All that to say...History and Geography are covered.
This is the first year that they haven't been their own subject...but it's going great!

These weeks just fly right by!
I can't imagine spending my days doing anything else...
well, that's not completely true...a girl has dreams, you know.
But, one thing I know for sure...I will never regret a minute of my time with them!
The days are long but the years are short.
And, if I'm doing my job right...they will be ready to fly in no time...
as confident, competent, kind, caring young people who are ready to make this world a better place!
I am so thankful for the opportunity to homeschool my kids.

Have a fabulous weekend!!!

XOXO Tiffany

"Balance is what we're after in simplifying our family's schedules.  And once we cross our kids names off the "Race of Childhood" sign-up form, time opens right up."
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sewing (and reading) Wednesday!

 Last week, I was busy making Corn/Rice Cozies!
Our homeschool co-op did a Christmas Shopping event that was so much fun!
Each family prepared a gift for the other families to purchase for their loved ones for Christmas.
Some families set up a project table where the kids would actually make the gift right there.
We had tables filled with:
earrings, salt baths, candles, painted mason jars for popcorn or candy, adorable birdseed feeders, fleece blankets, and corn cozies.
The pricing was between .25 - $5.00 for each item.
The kids and moms had a blast!
And, of course, our co-op doesn't get together unless there is a big spread of food with lots of coffee and tea for the moms.
 Everyone was in the Christmas spirit...
especially when the snow started to fly!
 If you want to make a little Corn/Rice Cozy, just follow these instructions...
or google it!

Corn/Rice Cozy
(4) 7 x 14" rectangles of cotton fabric
(a front, a back, and 2 lining pieces that won't be seen)
5 cups of feed corn or plain rice
(I was making 20 cozies and ran out of feed corn at the end.  I used a big bag of basmati rice that my parents had and it worked just fine!)

Put the right sides of fabric together,
and then place the lining fabric on the outsides.
(Like the bread of the sandwich!)
Stitch around 3 full sides (1/4" seam allowance) and about an inch into each end of the 4th side.
Trim your corners and turn little sack right side out.
Press flat.
Take a funnel and fill with corn or rice.
Stitch open side closed.
I folded under the fabric to form the seam, pinned it, and stitched one row 1/4" from the edge, and then stitched another row right on the edge.

 I microwaved each Cozy for 2 1/2 minutes to make sure they all survived.
Nice and toasty warm!

Super simple...sorry I don't have better pics!
 I've been reading two books in the morning...
"Lifeline:  The Religious Upbringing of your Children"
and
"Advent-day by day"
I ordered Lifeline used on-line...
and the Advent book I got on the "free" shelf at the library a while back.
Really enjoying them both!

Hope your Wednesday is awesome.

XOXO Tiffany

"Great parents earnestly desire that their children grow to outdo them in everything".
Lifeline:  The Religious Upbringing of your Children
by James Stenson

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Black Bean Enchilada Casserole (vegetarian)

We just finished up our school day and all our cleaning is done,
 and I'm sitting down with my afternoon coffee looking forward to some "blog time".
I made this recipe last month or so while Sweetie was traveling.
I used to get away with cereal dinners, or "snacky" dinners when Sweetie traveled...
but, as the kids get older, they are really wanting more and better food.
They want a meal.
So, I searched through some recipes that I had saved on my computer and came across this one.
I had all the ingredients, so I got to work.

Get everything prepped.
Then, sauté up the ingredients and layer it up like lasagna. 
 Pop it into the oven!
 And, enjoy!
Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

2 cups onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups red pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 cup salsa
2 tsp cumin
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
8 flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cheese

tomatoes, chopped
sour cream
black olives, sliced

Saute first 6 ingredients in a large skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes.
Place 4 tortillas in the bottom of a 9 x 13" pan (can overlap).
Spread half of black bean mixture over tortillas and sprinkle with cheese.
Repeat process starting with tortillas.  Cover pan with foil and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

True to my word...Black Friday was spent at home in my jammies.
I was feeling anxious for a bit...wanting to go to Joann's so badly!
$1.50/yard flannel!
I ended up just going on-line and getting some for $1.99/yard with free shipping.
Can't wait of that package to come!

I hope you are enjoying December so far.
Keep it simple!

XOXO Tiffany

"My suggestion for simplifying food...is to limit choice and complexity.  Simplify the number of food options available to your kids, and simplify the tastes and ingredients of those options by backing away from highly processed and sweetened foods".
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

Friday, November 29, 2013

(Digital) Menu Planning...

 Grab a coffee and let's chat Menu Planning.
I have actually always loved menu planning.  It was always just tough to maintain.
I did the paper version with one big blank calendar and then filled in.
The problem was, I was always having to start over every month.
I like to plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
But, it's mostly Breakfast and Dinner, since lunch is usually leftovers.
I've been loving my Apple Calendar on my MacBook.  I use it for everything.
Basically, I just designated the color green for menu planning.
I block off a 30 minute section and type in the meal.
Then, in the "notes" section of that event, I copy and paste the recipe!
The really cool part of this step is when I'm heading out to a store and forget to check over my menu plan, I can pull it up on my phone and see what the meals are for the next few days and check the ingredients list.  Then, I just add any needed ingredients to my "notes" on my iPhone and head into the store! 
OK...the other super cool thing about this digital menu planner is that you can repeat the event!!!!
I put my breakfasts on a 2 week rotation and my dinners on a monthly rotation.
I figure as it fills in, I will probably switch to a two month rotation for dinners and maybe a 3 week rotation for breakfasts.
Then, as your schedule changes, you just drag the meal to another day/time.
Loving it!
(Cool things 3 and 4...it's free, and when we travel, I will have all our favorite recipes on my phone!)
2013 was a huge year for me in going paperless.
I gave up my paper planner, and now my paper menu planner.
Slowly but surely, I am getting with the times.

Do you think you'll try something like this?
Are you already doing something awesome that works for you?
**this is a version of the menu planning system on the Life in Grace blog.

Before I go..."Happy Black Friday"!
I'd like to re-name it "Jammie Day", b/c that's what we're doing today!
And...we're pulling out the Christmas tubs and finally playing Christmas music!
As MJ says, "Stay home and order on-line".
I couldn't agree more.

XOXO Tiffany

"God began to teach me that there is a huge difference between "entertaining" and offering hospitality".  A Life that says Welcome by Karen Ehman

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sewing (and reading) Wednesday!

 I've been getting back into my sewing studio lately.
Mostly working on little projects for my family.
Lucy was cleaning out her closet and said that she didn't like how this tank fit.
This picture is a funny shot of the tank, but the sides actually hang drape-y at the side.
I loved it, but she wanted it to fit like a basic tank.
This is a super easy project.

Turn your tank/t-shirt inside out.
Take a ruler and mark a new line with a pen/pencil/tailors wax.
I went from the armpit out to the bottom at a slight angle.
 Once you've marked both sides, cut and pin.
 Put some pink thread into your serger (or sewing machine) and stitch up!
 Press.
 A new tank.
 I've been reading hospitality books lately.
I checked out about 15 of them at the library last week.
Working on being an amazing hostess and guest.
Good timing with Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow!
Are you reading any good books?
Do you have any sewing projects that you're working on...or would like to be working on?

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!
What are you making???
And, on Monday afternoon, my mom and I made Latvian piragi's (bacon buns).

XOXO Tiffany

"Thanksgiving creates abundance".
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Monday, November 25, 2013

Chimichanga's

 I started making these Chimichanga's last summer.
They're easy and they can feed a crowd!
 My pictures are probably from at least 3 different times that I've made these.
You can tell that I've used 2 different tortilla's and I've changed up my by bean technique.
 My favorite tortillas are either:
2.  Costco's raw tortillas in the refrigerator section by the hotdogs and cheese...60 tortillas for under $7 and only 5 ingredients.  (been using these a ton lately!)
3.  Trader Joe's homemade tortillas

Here is how you make these babies:

Chimichanga's:
Tortillas
Re-fried Beans (vegetarian...I use Trader Joe's)
Shredded cheese
Olive oil spray (in Misto)

Basically, you just spread some refried beans on your tortilla,
sprinkle on some cheese,
roll it up, spray with olive oil,
and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

They get nice and crispy.  I slice them in half at an angle and top them with any taco toppings of your choice:
lettuce, tomato, cheese, onion, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, olives
Enjoy!
We just finished dinner and the kids and I got our chores done.
I'm fading fast because I forgot to have my afternoon coffee (how did that happen?!?).

We've got a date in a few minutes to watch Little House on the Prairie.
We're on Season 9.  We've almost watched every episode!

Well, we got through Monday...have a wonderful week of thanksgiving!

XOXO Tiffany

"The discipline of thanks only comes with practice".
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp