Monday, August 27, 2012

A Meal For Monday - My Birthday Meal!

It's the week of my birthday, which means that I'm going to give you a preview of what we'll be eating on the 30th! See, my family has a tradition where the birthday boy or girl gets to choose whatever they want for dinner on their birthday and no one gets to complain about it. It's one of my favorite parts of my birthday because I get to make my favorite thing in all the world that my mom used to make us when I was growing up:

Tuna Noodle Casserole and Orange Carrot Jell-O Salad!

I know. Believe me, I know.
But bear with me! It's honestly really good!

Ingredients:
2 can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup
3 12oz cans of chunk light tuna fish in water
4 full cups of pasta (we like bow ties- they're fancy)
2 cups and 1/2 cup, separated shredded cheddar cheese
1 8 oz bag of frozen peas
Handful of plain potato chips, crushed

Directions:
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and pour into a large mixing bowl. Stir soup, peas, tuna, and 2 cups cheese into pasta gently, being careful not to tear pasta too much. Stir until evenly combined. PLace in oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with crushed potato chips and 1/2 cup cheese. Return to oven for 5-10 more minutes, or until cheese is melted and browning.

Remove and enjoy!

For the Jell-O salad, just make one large box of orange Jell-O according to package instructions and place in the refrigerator. Keep checking on it, and when you see that it's starting to gel (should be around 3 hours after you first put it in the fridge, but the more you make, the longer this will take), stir a couple of handfuls of carrot slivers into the Jell-O and then return to fridge for at least another hour and a half. Remove from refrigerator just before dinner and enjoy!

My mouth is watering just thinking about getting to eat this on Thursday...mmmmmm...

This one comes from my mother's table to yours, this time folks! Enjoy!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Simple Sabbaths - Consider the Lilies...


This is one of my favorite scriptures! I love the image of the Savior, sitting in the field surrounded by his followers who are hanging on his every word, while their children play around his feet. I imagine him teaching with love and compassion, like he was having a conversation with friends, not yelling and hollering over a pulpit. He used examples that they could easily see and relate to, and was inspired by the things around him - farmers, flowers, shepherds, birds...He loved his people and his message was expressed in a way that made it easy for them to come to him.  
Matthew 6:28-29
King James Version (KJV)
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

And I'm a worrier. Big time. Ask the Hubs. Lol. I can go from 0 to the end of the world in 2.5 seconds starting from pretty much anywhere, so I feel like this is one of those scriptures that leaps out from the page at me.

The wallpaper on my computer is a photograph of lilies of the valley so that, when my thoughts start spinning out of control into "the store is out of chips ergo my life is over" territory, I can more easily remember to "consider the lilies."


Have a wonderful Sabbath, everyone!

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Meal For Monday - Taco Salad

I am so in love with taco anything. Did you know that about me? It's true. I just love tacos. Crunchy shell, fresh and cool cheese and veggies, and warm, gooey meat...mmmmm...SO good. 

The only problem?

I am terrible at eating them. Like, awful at it. To the point that I end up wearing somewhere in the neighborhood of 1/3 of each taco, from my face to my shirt to my pants. Not good. And definitely not date food. lol.

So what's a girl to do? And no, not eating tacos is NOT an option, so just banish that idea right out of your little head.

Enter: Taco Salad!


Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground pork or beef
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 10 cups torn romaine
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup Western salad dressing
  • Tortilla chips, crushed
  • Sour cream and guacamole, optional

Directions

  • In a large skillet, cook pork over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the taco seasoning, beans and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat; cool for 10 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, combine the romaine, tomatoes, onion and cheese. Stir in pork mixture. Drizzle with salad dressing and toss to coat. Sprinkle with chips. Serve immediately with sour cream and guacamole if desired. Yield: 6 servings.

Oh, and one last thing-

The best part, for me, about a taco salad, is that delicious taco shell that they give you in restaurants. Problem is, those are deep fried, which sort of negates the purpose of a salad, am I right? So here's a better idea: Grab your muffin tin and flip it over so that the muffin cup bottoms are face up (like a tiny mountain range!). Stuff small tortillas in the spaces in between the cups so they look like ruffly bowls (taco shell bowls!). Put the tin in the oven and bake at 350* until they start to look brown and crispy. I never really time this...I think it takes about 10-15 minutes, but you'll want to test this yourself! Just don't let them burn or stay too soft and you're all set.

From my table to yours, dearies!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wifey Wednesdays - Scripture of the Week

I am a total book nerd, and for as long as I can remember, I have been a sucker for a good quote or saying to put on my wall. Nowadays, it's easy to find cool word art to display in your home, but back in the day I had to satisfy myself with ballpoints and Post-Its.

Heavenly Father is actually all about us decorating with words in our homes, did you know that? It's true!


Deuteronomy 6:6-10
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
10 And it shall be, when the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,
See that? That's actually the scripture that originated the Jewish tradition of putting a "mezuzah" on their doorposts containing a blessing and the ten commandments an scroll that's tucked down inside:


Check it out, even the Google offices have one!

 Obviously Heavenly Father thinks it's important to have reminders of what's truly important in our homes! Having the Word, reminders about family, and religious art of any kind on the walls of our homes helps to invite the Spirit to dwell there! It reminds the members of our families of just why exactly we work so hard to do things like Family Home Evening, resolve disagreements, and keep unsavory entertainment materials off of our computer, cell phone, and television screens.


Anciently, the doorway was the center of home life. Women would do their washing, preparation for making meals like grinding corn into meal, and socializing in the yard just outside of their homes, in the shadow of the entrances to their homes. It makes sense that Heavenly Father asked that they keep the word there, so that those coming and going to and from the home would see and touch the mezuzah, and those spending time in the yard would see it and remember who the true Lord of that home was.

In our day and age, the kitchen is where the majority of activity happens in most of our homes. Meals are eaten there, dishes are done, laundry is sorted and folded, FHE is often held there, household budgets and homework are prepared there...in my home, I've found that people just gravitate there naturally. It's homey there, and good smells of food and spices come from there.

I don't have a mezuzah on the entrance to my kitchen, but I do have dry erase board on our refrigerator! Every week I choose a quote from a General Authority or a scripture or two that holds particular meaning to me and write it on our dry erase board. Those who come into our home and spend time in my kitchen know where our priorities lie and my family can see and learn scripture every time they go to the kitchen for milk or cinnamon toast.

Having this constant reminder in our home does wonders. It helps keep tempers in check, helps us come to repent and forgive more quickly, and helps us to remember to do the little things for each other that binds a family together. It also helps to learn more about our Lord and about His relationship with us and reminds us that, even on bad days, we are loved with a love so big it can't be contained within a single human heart.

I encourage you to find a way to display the Word in your home in a way that's meaningful to you! Maybe you can choose a quote or scripture as a motto for your family! Display your scriptures on a table under a picture of the Savior or the temple in the main living room where it can be easily seen. Find a scripture that matches the theme of your room ("Taste and see that the Lord is good!" from the Psalms for the kitchen, "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine" from Song of Solomon for the bedroom, "1 Corinthians 13:1-13 for the living room...) and artistically post it on the wall! Your options are endless! Make it meaningful, make it lovely, make it homey, and make it personal! I promise you'll see results! Maybe not all at once, but you will see them!

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Meal For Monday - Creamed Turkey with Puff Pastry

I love this recipe! It's one of the best freezer meals that I know of! All it takes is some cooked turkey or chicken (I almost always use chicken unless it's post-holiday time!), some frozen puff pastry, and some food storage staples and you're all set to have a delicious, creamy, filling casserole.



And the best part? This recipe makes two servings, meaning you can make one for dinner tonight and save the rest of it in a freezer container for a night down the road when you forgot to grab something on the way home because you were too busy singing along to Billy Joel in your car and forgot to turn into the grocery store parking lot too busy thinking of ways to bless your family. In alphabetical order. Ahem.


Ingredients

  • 1 package (17.3 ounces) frozen puff pastry
  • 4 cans (18.8 ounces each) chunky chicken corn chowder soup
  • 4 cups cubed cooked turkey
  • 2 packages (16 ounces each) frozen peas and carrots, thawed
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  • Thaw one sheet of puff pastry. Cut into six squares. Cut each square in half diagonally; transfer to two greased baking sheets. Bake at 400° for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, combine the soup, turkey, peas and carrots, cream cheese and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until cream cheese is melted. Serve half of the soup mixture with puff pastry triangles. Cool the remaining soup mixture; transfer to freezer containers. May be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • To use frozen soup mixture: Thaw soup mixture in the refrigerator overnight. Thaw remaining puff pastry; prepare and bake pastry triangles as directed.
  • Meanwhile, place soup mixture in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 3-5 minutes. Serve with puff pastry triangles. Yield: 12 servings.

 From my table (and freezer!) to yours, friends!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Simple Sabbaths - "But If Not..."


This is one of my all-time favorite sermons that I think I've ever heard preached. It's from my church's spring General Conference in 2004, which is one of my favorite times of year. It's beautiful and the information in it is such a good reminder! 

Just because we're not saved from hardship and trial DOES NOT MEAN that Heavenly Father can't save you, that He doesn't want to save you, doesn't care enough to save you, or especially that He doesn't exist.

And well...he says it better than I can during any kind of summing up, so I'll just leave it at that. But this message is SO very important and SO worth listening to, whether you belong to the same church as I do or not. Truth is truth, and this sermon shines with it!



Saturday, August 11, 2012

Frugal, Fabulous Farmgirl Fridays - A "Teal-y" Good Deal *groan*

I have been a huge fan of nail polish of all kinds since I received my very first bottle around age 4. It was a gorgeous bright sparkly pink and I insisted on wearing every chance I got. My mom wasn't a huge fan of my bent toward taking fashion advice from Loni Anderson at a tender age, so that wasn't often, but I was deeply in love with my pretty finger tips when the occasions did arise.

I love nail polish, but I don't love the price tag on some of the higher end brands. I love Essie's formulas  as a general rule, but at $7.99 a bottle I can't really afford to indulge my passion for color in the way I would like to. This means that I'm constantly on the lookout for inexpensive dupes of new high-fashion colors and finishes (matte, glitter, etc).

I'm currently obsessed with any-and-everything teal. 




GORGEOUS right?! I am completely enamored of this color right now, in all its shades and configurations.

Naturally, this means that I've been on the hunt for the perfect teal nail polish so that I can take the color with me everywhere I go! Apparently, this is easier said than done. This turned into one heck of a hunt with lots of trial and error.

BUT, dear readers! I have prevailed and for those of you who are feeling a desperate need for more teal in your life, keep reading because I have found a gorgeous deep teal nail polish that goes on a treat and costs (wait for it)

$1.00!!!

I KNOW!

It's by the company L.A. Colors in their Color Craze line in "Atomic."

It's absolutely gorgeous:



It looks like a light green in the bottle, but once you start applying it it turns into this lovely deep teal. I'm officially in love. Oh, and my bottle is so tiny because I didn't buy the full size. L.A. Colors makes little sample bottles of their colors (I found the first color of theirs that I ever tried in the impulse buy area of JoAnn Fabrics!) that run between $0.75 and $1.00. If you do find these minis for a dollar, do not buy unless you don't have a Family Dollar in your area or a similar store because they sell the full size bottles of this line for that price! I bought this color along with a few others tonight for $0.75 at Family Dollar and I can't wait to try the other ones on!!! I'll definitely be buying this one in the full size! The sample size is great to have on hand to carry with you for touch ups in case of the accidental nick or chip over the course of the ordinary day. They fit right in my little touch-ups bag in my purse perfectly!

Oh, and as a side bonus?
See that little symbol?

It's a little bunny face that says "Cruelty Free" underneath. That means that they don't test on animals! Not only do you get cute nails, you get to up your karma quotient, too! Win!

The only drawback I found is that the formulation can be a little goopy. I had to repeatedly recap the bottle and shake up the contents to get it smooth enough to continue painting my nails. The brush that's included in the cap of the bottle isn't that great either. I couldn't help but compare it to Wet 'n' Wild's "Manicurve" brush that's included with some of their nail polishes, including their MegaLast line. All in all the results were good and with a little clean up afterwards, it looks just as good as a manicure I've given myself with polish eight times as expensive as this one. I'd definitely recommend it!

ETA: Note that you'll want to use a good base coat and a top coat to increase the polish's longevity! It will definitely chip and crack faster than you'd like if you don't!

So, ladies, how are you pinching pennies and stretching your dollars? Hit me with your suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wifey Wednesdays - Give 'Im Somthin' to Talk About

My husband loves football. Seriously, it's been a life-long passion for him. He knows all of the statistics, the teams, and anything that there IS to know about the pre-, proper, and post-seasons.

And I do. not. get it.

It's just not my thing...I don't get what the fascination is in watching grown men run up and down the field after a ball and jumping on each other. I don't.

But I'm learning. Or at least, I'm trying to learn. There's sort of a curve...
And why, you may ask?
Why try to learn about something that holds absolutely no interest for me?

Because Hubs loves it.

The football season lasts from late August all the way up through February. 
That's 7 months out of the year that is devoted to this national obsession and Hubs lives for it. He's counting down the days until the actual season starts, and he's already keeping track of what's going on with the players now (mostly jail time and/or injuries from what I can tell...).

And look.
I could spend 7 months pouting, begging, and whining. I could spend time wishing that he'd stop loving it the way that he does and being passive aggressive about it. I could.



Or I could be proactive about my marriage.

My husband loves me more than football. I know that for a fact. But he really, really loves football and sometimes "the mountain has to go to Muhammed." I want to spend more time with my husband all through the year. It's not fair to expect him to just drop what he loves to do so that we can do things that I love to do, or to force him to spend time with me. That's fun for no one, trust me.

I had a little conversation with myself after last season about how I can make things in our home more pleasant and how I can nag less, and the answer came like a thunder clap. Rather than whining and complaining, I could cut to the chase and 

ACTUALLY SPEND TIME WITH MY HUSBAND.

Sometimes, I just need to do what HE loves to do, rather than being a child and insisting on constantly having it my way! Now, I know that there are feminists out there who will write me poisoned pen letters because they think that I'm advocating pitching your wants, needs, and interests to the wind and morphing into some cookie cutter Stepford Wife wannabe. 

Let me be clear:
I'M NOT.

What I AM saying is that sometimes we, as women, need to put down the romance novels and step away from the RomComs and meet our husbands halfway. Heaven knows my husband has walked through his fair share of antique festivals and craft stores in his day, so I should be willing to learn something about what he likes, shouldn't I? Isn't it worth it if it means that I get to spend more time with my husband, have actual conversations with him, and make him feel loved and valued in the process?! I know that it makes me feel like a million bucks when he goes out of his way to learn something about one of my interests so that he can buy me a meaningful Christmas present or be able to do something other than let his eyes glaze over when I start to talk about yarn tension and gauge swatches. Now, to me, football is dull as dishwater, but! My husband isn't. My husband is the person that I'm going to be spending forever with, so it matters to me that he feel loved and valued by me, and not just when we're doing something that I want to do.

And look: sometimes I think we need to think to ourselves in our mothers' voices, so I'm going to oversimplify the question here:
This is the choice:
I can either choose to sulk for 7 months every time Hubs reaches for the remote to check the scores on ESPN, thereby wrecking the spirit of my home in the process,

~OR~

I can choose to be an adult, love my husband the way that Christ has commanded me to (selflessly, patiently, kindly, with a spirit of humility) and thereby get to spend time with him and improve the spirit in the home.

Hm.



So. I'm slowly, slowly learning about football in bits and pieces, here and there. I'm trying. Like I said, there's sort of a curve to it. lol. It's not easy!

Does your husband have a hobby that he's passionate about? It could be anything- fishing, reading, science, baseball...maybe you're in the same boat as I am when it comes to football! Whatever it is, what can you do to "give [him] somethin' to talk about" with you? Can you imagine the look of delighted surprise when he realizes that you've been taking an interest on the sly and reading up on whatever it is that he's passionate about- just because he likes it?! SO precious! Can you imagine how that will speak to the soft parts of his heart and inspire feelings of love and self-worth?

Share your thoughts with me! What's your hubby's passion and how do you plan to share his interest?


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Well, maybe we'll have the chicken dinner in a few months when our chickens are bigger...right now they're pretty much all gristle.

But I DID win something WONNNNNNNDERFUL and I can't WAIT for it get here! I've been dying to buy it, going to Tractor Supply and creeping around the little four-sided book spinner they have, dreaming, sighing...well NO MORE! Sorry Tractor Supply. It was fun while it lasted, and we'll always have the spinner...

Because I WON.

I never win things.
Ever.

But now I can't say that anymore!
Thanks to Dani over at The Adventure Bite!

These folks are adorable. And inspiring.
Like, make me want to go out and hoe some weeds, kind of inspiring. And they always have the best giveaways! I highly, highly recommend going over and checking them out! Especially right now, since they're running another fab giveaway, this time giving some lucky person a copy of THIS fab-looking book:

They have some wonderful, drool-worthy photos over on their blog. Go check it out!

I won a copy of Storey publishing's



You should know that Storey Publishing is pretty much responsible for my realizing my desire to live a more connected-to-the-earth, barnyard-centric life. They published Jenna Woginrich's Made From Scratch which I read, fell in love with, and the rest is history. Seriously. Read it. You will have chickens in your yard by Chapter 5.

So I am eagerly awaiting my copy of this wonderful book, which is the companion to their original The Backyard Homestead, which is AHmazing. Even if you just want to garden better, this book will help you out! SO many great tips and hints, and it's all organized in a reader-friendly format!

Thank you SO much, Dani @ The Adventure Bite!!!


Monday, August 6, 2012

A Meal for Monday - Egg Salad Sandwiches

Let's be real about something- it is freaking HOT out. 

The kind of hot that makes it a good thing that the law requires that I wear clothing in public.
The kind of hot that makes me lose my temper for ridiculously stupid reasons.
The kind of hot that feels like some sort of preview of what Hades is like. Except this is Michigan, which means that it's not just hot- it's WET out. Like...just disgustingly damp. Which is worse than any amount of "dry heat" (shush, Arizonites. We resent you and your dry heat right now.)

The last thing that I feel like doing is firing up the stove and pumping the house full of roasting hot air. 
This means that we eat a LOT of sandwiches in the summer. A lot.

And I love sandwiches, so it works out.

And I love egg salad sandwiches! There's just something so delightfully '50s about them. I want to eat them cut into tiny, bite-size pieces with the crusts cut off at a ladies' luncheon. With gloves and a hat.

Good egg salad is actually deceptively involved to make- you have to strike the perfect balance between the egg and the other ingredients, and then there's the question of what other ingredients to include! Onion? Garlic? Mustard? Relish? I'm always on the lookout for a good recipe for these yummy things, and this is the best one I've found yet! The inclusion of green pepper (my fave!) and celery give it a delish crunch so it's not just squishy (I have a texture thing...) and the cream cheese keep it from being so wet that it just soaks through the bread (blech...).

Oh, and quick tip? I usually make a double batch of this so I have something interesting and easy on hand to whip up into lunches or for a really fast and easy (but fancy-looking! Remember how I'm all about lazy-but-fancy-looking?!) dinner later on down the week.


Ingredients


  • 1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons diced pimientos, drained
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 12 slices white bread
  • 6 lettuce leaves
  • 6 slices tomato

Directions



  • In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, mayonnaise, chili sauce, salt and pepper. Stir in the eggs, green pepper, celery, onion, pimientos and parsley.
  • On six slices of bread, layer lettuce, tomato and 1/2 cup egg salad. Top with remaining bread. Yield: 6 servings. 

  • From my table to yours, lovelies! Enjoy!