Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Bird Party

The Bird Birthday was a great success! Thanks to all who made it wonderful---my sister in law who made the beautiful cake pops, my mom who did lots of tedious jobs (like ironing that curtain and hanging it) my mother-in-law who washed lots of dishes and made the punch, and all the people who came and truly made it a party!
Oh yes, and many thanks to The Cake Gallery for the beautiful cake!

The other food table--the one with the real food!

Yay for presents!
Oh, check back soon for the tutorial on how to make these amazing little bird houses that were decorated as one of the party favors!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How I Keep My House "Clean"

How I Keep My House "Clean"

Most days, if you decided to pop in on us for a surprise visit, you'd see what at least appeared to be a very clean house. Many people remark on how clean I keep my house: leaning toward the windowed front door as they drop off kids, they might even say something like, "You must have spent your whole day cleaning!" Usually I smile and say thank you because I've learned that denying well-meant compliments is often false humility. But I know that what my friends really mean is, "Your house is neat and tidy." Not "clean" necessarily.
So how does this happen? Well, it's your lucky day because I'm going to give you how it happens--not that you'll want to adopt any of these practices necessarily(there's that word again; it just keeps popping up today) but just in case you come over. You can let your eyes twinkle a bit when you compliment my house and I'll thank you with my eyes twinkling as well, and we'll both understand each other a little better.
#1. Everything has a place to live. If you've ever read the old Cheaper By the Dozen, you know that I'm just stealing this idea. And I guess the goal is that "Everything has a place and everything is in its place." But we're getting to that.
#2. I don't pass things out of place. If something's out of place as I'm walking through the house, I pick it up. Anything that doesn't belong on the floor, any toys out of the kids' room, any papers spread about or trash sticking out from under the furniture. I pick it up.
#3. I have a few drop places in the house. If, after I've picked up a misplaced item, I'm not already headed to where that item belongs, I drop it on the black bench near our front door or on the brown shelf in the kitchen. These places are allowed to be untidy for a while at least. (Oh, and the trash can is always the place for trash, btw.) The living room couch is sometimes a drop place--and it's the place where I fold and sort laundry--but I try to empty it even sooner than other drop places.
#4. If I have more than two misplaced thing in my hands, I definitely take them all to where they belong. I'm up anyway, right?
#5. After I put kids in their rooms for rest, after dinner and right before bed, I empty the drop places or have kids empty them. I'm hoping that with training, the kids will automatically pick up their things from these places and take them back to where they belong.
#6. After every meal I clean the kitchen counter. I put dishes in the dishwasher or wash, dry, and put them away. I wipe the counter down and move anything that doesn't belong on the counter either to where it goes or to one of the drop places.
#7. I sweep once or twice a day. Quick and easy--wherever I see dust or dirt. I wipe down toilets and sinks with Lysol and a tissue maybe twice a week--whenever I think about it.
#8. Once a week, (give or take) I dust and vacuum. Once every two weeks I wipe down my kitchen cabinets and clean my bathrooms. Once in a blue moon I wipe down walls, door frames, etc.
 #9. Oh, and there's one anomaly to this plan: the kids' room. Every time I play with them, I am half playing and half sorting. Don't get me wrong, I want them to play with their toys. Toys that are looking pretty in their place on a shelf are worthless toys in my book. But, I like to look and play and be in their room more when it's clean and organized, so I labor in their room more than in the rest of the house. I'm sure you can identify. (Oh, and where--in the world--do all the jibbles of paper come from? They are constantly covering the kids' room!)
So there you have it. Nothing tricky, just stuff moving. All day every day. If you could have a camera on me throughout the day and do that fast playback thing, you would see me pick up and put down things all over the house over and over and over and over. It would be quite amusing. 
But, in the end, the house looks clean. When I want to sit and relax with a cup of tea, I'm not constantly jumping up to do things I see I've forgotten. I can rest.And that (to me) is what a home is all about.

I'd love to know your cleaning tricks of the trade!

Friday, May 24, 2013


No formal schooling,
warm sun
long hours for reading
many trips to the park...
It's summer!

These are our bucket list items from last year, but they are very similar this summer! 
What are you up to this summer?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Summer Wardrobe

I love to "window shop" at Modcloth. The vintagey style is so fun and modest.
Here are a few of the items I would choose if I were building (or adding to) a summer wardrobe. Enjoy!
p.s. Find all the direct links on my Wish List Board on Pinterest.

I see walking in the park or a casual date night or maybe a stroll down the board walk in these outfits.

With those comfy shoes and that beautiful skirt these outfits could go anywhere!

My perfect summer day outfit = skirt + tee + sandals

And for the finale we have a few of my fave modest swimsuits from Modcloth. Also, I have discovered that several of these suits are also at an online shop called Unique Vintage and the prices there are less. 
Oh for the days on the beach watching the kids play, reading a book or taking a swim!

Friday, May 17, 2013

How to Make a Salad

I think it was from a novel about a caterer that I learned how to prep a salad. The key is TIME and PAPER TOWELS. 
Step 1: Chop lettuce. Lately my choice lettuce has been Romaine.
Step 2: Put lettuce in salad spinner basket and rinse well.
Step 3: Put salad spinner basket into salad spinner and Spin (call in the 4yo to help. She loves to spin.)
Step 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3 and spin some more.
Step 5: Layer salad and paper towels in a gallon baggie--I like to use two Romaine heads per bag.
Step 6: Squeeze the air out of the bag gently and close.
The paper towels absorb the water from the lettuce and create a dry crisp lettuce that is perfect for any salad!
Step 7: Place in the fridge for at least an hour before prepping your salad.
Step 8: Prep your salad.
I keep my bag of prepped salad in the fridge so that it can be ready for side salads or (as pictured here) yummy meal salads. Above: Boiled egg salad.
Below: Chopped grilled chicken salad.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dining Room Re-Do Sneak Peak

Recently we took down our Chinese print curtains, painted over our yellow-striped wall paper and took down all the wall art in our dining room.
We are on our way to creating a calm, simple, elegant room of eating.
This is the first piece of art for that room--
a ceiling medallion from a local discount store.
This piece is likely to set the tone for the rest of the room and it did that without breaking our budget!
Happy decorating!
(more to come on the dining room redo)

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Birdies Fly (Bird Birthday Invitations)

Our youngest bird is turning 5. 
I really can't believe it's come to this.
But, I guess if we must, then we will celebrate in style.
This year's choice is birds.
We'll be setting up a table spread with some beautiful bird ideas, but for now, we're making invitations.
With a mix of old-fashioned flowers and simple modern lines, 
I present,
the bird birthday invitation.

These are a total of 4 layers of paper glued together. The information is printed on white card stock. Then comes a layer of flowered craft paper, a solid blue card stock and then the simple bird shape witha  small triangle stuck in between for the beak. 
I was able to lift the bottom of the bird before the glue dried and draw the simple stick legs.
Then it was just a matter of dotting the eye.
Each invitation is a bit different.
Hopefully all the little birds will have a blast at the party to come.
Happy crafting!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Lately, Being a Momma Means...

turning the oldest's pics into canvas art at
faithfully watching over the seeds we hope will sprout soon
(in more ways than one!)
(and eating my fair share, for sure) 
being the first responder for accidents like these
immortalizing the youngest's humor
(see the happy girls? and the sad boy who has to clean up the mess behind him?)
cheering for the boy
serving up color
shipping off those gently used clothes to Moxie Jean
cooking in batches to keep my sanity.
and teaching at the aquarium
and finishing up speech class and piano and horseback riding and choir and 
and helping with a ministry's family festival
and grocery shopping 
and getting over a tiny cold.

and to come?

well, there's going to be a little bird's birthday
and finishing up homeschooling for the year
and carpooling to camp
and traveling to Grandma's
and hopefully, God-willing adopting that baby soon!

It may be simple around here, but it is never dull!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Fast Food Sunday

Tonight we're taking it easy...popcorn, boiled eggs and this yummy tray of veggies, cheese, nuts and fruit.
And in case you're wondering, it's pouring and we're watching a show about crocodiles. Yay for lazy Sunday evenings!
What is your go-to fast food?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Breakfast Cake

I discovered something this week that may revolutionize our breakfasts (or at least my cleanup from them). Guess what you get if you make a muffin recipe and pour it into a cake pan? Breakfast Cake! And guess what? Cake pans are a whole lot easier to clean up.
Now, I arrived at this realization in a very circuitous way. First I saw a recipe on pinterest for breakfast cake and I tried it. Then I cleaned the pan. Then I mentioned this to a friend and she said, "Yes, I often make my muffin recipes in a cake pan because it's easier to clean up." And I thought, "Brilliant! It was definitely easier to clean up." And there you have it. Would I have arrived at this conclusion on my own? I'm not at all sure I would have. But there it is. I am now a big fan of breakfast cake.
Here's the one we made this week--the pinterest recipe from Meal Makeover Moms' Kitchen with lots of changes:
Breakfast Cake

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh fruit
1.  Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly coat a 9-inch round cake pan with shortening. Dust with flour and set aside.
2.  Whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, quick cooking oats, flax seed, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
3.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, 1/2 cup of sugar, and the canola oil until well blended. Whisk in the milk, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla extract.
4.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Arrange the fruit evenly over the top, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of white sugar.
5.  Bake 22 to 25 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool (or serve while it’s still warm).
I'm thinking that this particular cake might be much better if I subbed the oil for applesauce, used 1 teaspoon of cinnamon instead of the lemon juice and zest and used chopped apples for the fruit. That's how I'm going to try it next. And I plan to try my double chocolate flax seed muffins as a cake as well. Yum!