Monday, February 27, 2012

{ Happy Homemaker Monday #9 }

Where did the weekend go?  I always feel like I look forward to Friday nights so much and then I blink and it's already Monday morning again.....*sigh*

Happy Homemaker Monday

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The weather:::

51 degrees right now, we had a very nice weekend with 82 degrees weather.  I've given up complaining about the non existent winter in this place, it's obvious it's not going to just start snowing for me LOL

On my reading pile:::  
Daughter of Joy by Kathleen MorganA dream unfolding by Karen Baney 
Bible in 1 year
Joyce Meyer:  Promises for your everyday life

On my TV:::
Bramwell Season 2
Upstairs Downstairs Season 2 - Episode 2

On the menu for this week:::
Monday -  Oven Hash 
Tuesday - Chicken Carbonara Risotto
Wednesday - Yummy Hero Sandwiches
Thursday - Oven Breaded Tilapia w/ Salada
Friday - Salisbury Steak w/ Egg Noodles
Saturday - Monterey Chicken with Waffle Fries
Sunday -  Deep Dish Sausage Pizza

On my to do list:::
Finish sewing hubby's tabbard, he needs it for a work function on Saturday

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Been using my spare moments to add on more blocks to my Spring Rag Quilt
Started a Ripple Pillow this weekend

In Homeschooling:::
Jasmine is learning about the endocrine system in Science and Nicholas is concentrating on the Sun and the Earth.  In Math, Nicholas is working on Units of Weight and Jasmine is concentrating on Patterns and Graphs.  

Looking around the house:::
The sound of my air conditioner running is pretty much the only sound heard through my house right now.  Hubby just walked out the door for work, the pugs are on top of my couch walking around in circles trying to find a comfortable spot to lay.  There is the glow of a candle in the kitchen and from the outside the sun is starting to come up.  

From the camera:::
I have two garlic plants coming up and I'm so excited :)

Something fun to share:::
I've been looking for a good Bible Study on Proverbs 31 and came across this one.  It looks good and so I've decided to take it on, it's available online to print out and enjoy so I'm passing it on to you all. 

On my prayer list:::
Praying for everyone out there, whatever the problem may be whether it is physical, mental, financial.  

Bible verse, Devotional::: 
Each of us need to be who God created us to be, and we don't have to apologize for it. We each need to individually find the balance of responsibility God has established for us to live in so we can enjoy our life, instead of making ourselves sick with an overload of stress and pressure.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Amish Cook at Home

I had a knock at the door yesterday, it was my friendly UPS man, the one who always brings me a package which I know holds something I'm really going to enjoy.

This time it was a book which I ordered from Amazon a few days ago after coming across a wonderful website named The Amish Cook.

I don't think that I need to repeat just how much I love the Amish and how fascinated I am with their lives, I think the biggest draw for me is their unwavering faith, their strength, their courage and the way that they are holding steadfast onto a simpler time.  I took sometimes wish that I could give up all the advances in technology for a much simpler way of life.

The cover of the book is so beautiful in such a simplistic way.  *sigh*

So last night, after dinner dishes were done and I had taken my shower, I slipped into my comfy pj's and climbed into bed with a cup of hot tea and the cookbook.

The book is written by Kevin Williams who is the creator and editor of the syndicated Amish Cook Column and the column is written by Lovina Eischer, mother of 8, who took over writing from her mother Elizabeth Coblentz when she passed away in 2002.

One of the first things that is talked about in the book, is how the column came to be, who Elizabeth was and how her daughter took over.  It really gives you a background into what you're reading and I appreciate that, it makes me feel like I'm a part of the book.

Here's a brief description:
Part almanac, part cultural overview, part culinary calendar, ‘The Amish Cook at Home’ is the harbinger of a new era in home cooking.
As the follow-up to Elizabeth Coblentz's ‘The Amish Cook’, ‘The Amish Cook at Home’ by her daughter, Lovina Eicher and her editor and friend Kevin Williams introduces a new generation to Amish cooking and culture.

I can't tell you just how much I am loving the book.

I am not even halfway through it and I'm learning so much about the Amish, their traditions, their way of life and what they really think.

One of the biggest misconceptions out there, and I think even for myself when I first started hearing about the Amish, was that they are not normal people, that they have nothing in common with the rest of us Englischers out here, but the more I read about them, the more I learn, the more I realize that they are just normal families like everyone else.

It's a blessing to read the stories told in the cookbook and to get a glimpse into the homes and jobs of these families.

There's not much more I can really say at this point as I'm slowly making my way through the pages, taking in every single word, savoring every line.  The recipes look fantastic and I can't wait to try some.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cooking Thursday

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Good Morning everyone, hope you're all doing well and ready to share in some great recipes.

I know I don't say it near enough but I do so appreciate every single one of you who come in every Thursday and participate in this feature. You've given me many recipes to try out :)



Salsichas com molho de tomate (Sausages in Tomato Sauce)

1 lb sausage (whatever your favorite is)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 small can of tomato sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 bay leaf
white wine
salt and pepper to taste
I start off by putting the olive oil in the pan, add the onions and the tomatos, garlic, salt and pepper, sprinkle with paprika, bay leaf, sliced sausage and tomato sauce.
Give it a good stir and then place the lid on it and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, remember to stir now and then. If you want more gravy just add a little bit of water. You’ll be surprised at how yummy it is and how easy. Remove from the heat, take out the bay leaf (you don’t want to eat that lol).
Potato and Spinach Mash
I love making these mashed potatoes, it’s something that the whole family will eat, you can’t really taste the spinach AND is a good way to get the kiddos to eat the veggies too. Luckily for me though, my children love spinach and all sorts of vegetables.
I also like to substitute the spinach with carrots and make a potato and carrot mash which is equally delicious and the kids think it’s super cool because it’s orange.
All you need to do is make your mashed potatoes as usual.
While the potatoes are cooking, in a separate small saucepan, cook some frozen spinach with a little bit of salt. Again just follow the directions on the package. When cooked, drain and squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can.
I just add butter, milk, salt and pepper to mine, that’s it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Simple Touches

I like adding little touches here and there in my home.

They don't have to be big things, even something as small as a quick bunting hanging on the window sill, immediately changes the feeling of the kitchen :)


They're so easy to make, just some fabric of your choosing, some interfacing, twine and a hot glue gun.


After applying the interfacing to the fabric, I cut out a few triangles, then using a hot glue gun, I glue twine to the back of the triangles and hang it up.


Just like every other piece in my home that I make with my own hands, it's got imperfections, it's not perfect and that is what I love.

But it's not just decorating that allows me to add a little of me....I try to incorporate that into every other aspect of homemaking.

Cooking is by far my biggest passion in life, right up there with reading, and crocheting, and sewing, actually I think I have quite a few passions now that I think about it HA!

I've talked about the cleaning solutions I make, and it thrills me to see so many of my friends and blog readers also using them now.

Again, it's another way to add a simple touch to a chore that otherwise would be a pain in the washing bathroom floors.


Vinegar infused with lemon. Cleans amazingly well, works on the baseboards, the walls, the doors and the floors. One cleaner that does the job of a bunch of others but is way safer.

Likewise when it comes to my kitchen, I like to simplify things and one thing I've been wanting to do for quite a long time is to make homemade sausage.

So, with that in mind, this past weekend we spent a few hours at Cabella's and I picked up something I've been wanting for years but never got around to getting it. It reminds me of home, I honestly remember all the women in the family using it in the kitchen :)

Meat Grinder

And to help me get started, even though I have a few recipes on hand, I got this amazing book, ooohhh I can't wait to get in there and try it out :)


There is always, always something to be thankful for

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Morning, afternoon, night

Morning:::  Coffee, toast, jam


Afternoon:::  Ham, Onion, Mozzarella and Bean sprouts Omelette


Night:::  Portuguese Peppered Steaks


Overbite by Meg Cabot - TLC Book Tour

Book Summary:

Meena Harper has bitten off more than she can chew . . .
Meena has a special gift, but only now does anyone appreciate it. Her ability to predict how everyone she meets will die has impressed the Palatine Guard—a powerful secret demon-hunting unit of the Vatican—and they’ve hired her to work at their new branch in Lower Manhattan. Sure, Meena’s ex-boyfriend was Lucien Antonescu, son of Dracula. But that was before he (and their relationship) went up in flames, and now she’s sworn off vampires for good—even though she firmly believes that just because they’ve lost their souls, it doesn’t mean they can’t love.
Convincing her new partner, ├╝ber-demon-hunter Alaric Wulf, that vampires can be redeemed won’t be easy . . . especially when a deadly new threat arises, endangering not only the Palatine, but Meena’s friends and family as well. As she unravels the truth, Meena will find her loyalties tested, her true feelings laid bare . . . and temptations she never even imagined before nearly impossible to resist.

If you like paranormal/suspense/romance/action etc, this is certainly one book that delivers that and much more.
This book follows the first one called Insatiable, so if you've read that one you are well aware of who the characters are and what their backgrounds consist of, if not, then no worries because it can still be a stand alone novel.   
I hadn't read the first one and I didn't feel lost in the least, matter of fact, I really enjoyed it.  It's one of those books that grabs you from the first few pages and doesn't let go until the very end, it almost feels like you're thrown into a roller coaster and then dumped back on land left to your own devices.  
Meena is a demon slayer/psychic, or at least that's what I got from it.  She is tasked with telling people of their impending deaths.  Throw in some vampires, the New Jersey Devil and a bunch of twists and turns and this book made for a very interesting read.  I think I'll look up the first book Insatiable, and read that one too, I could easily become a fan of Meg Cabot.
If you're into paranormal mysteries, this one should be added to your reading pile :)

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a review copy. If you want to check out the rest of the tour, here are the next stops:

Meg’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, February 7th: Reading Lark
Wednesday, February 8th: The Road to Here
Thursday, February 9th: Life In Review
Friday, February 10th: Just Joanna
Monday, February 13th: The Englishist
Tuesday, February 14th: Jenny Love to Read
Wednesday, February 15th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Thursday, February 16th: Books Like Breathing
Monday, February 20th: Book Drunkard
Tuesday, February 21st: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Wednesday, February 22nd: A Soul Unsung
Thursday, February 23rd: girlichef
Friday, February 24th: Chick Lit Reviews and News
Thursday, March 1st: Stiletto Storytime
Friday, March 2nd: Peeking Between the Pages
Friday, March 2nd: Seaside Book Nook

Monday, February 20, 2012

{ Happy Homemaker Monday 2012 #8 }

Good Morning, hope you are all enjoying a good long weekend.  I feel as if it's just rushed by though, time seems to fly doesn't it?

On to today's Happy Homemaker Monday :)

Happy Homemaker Monday

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The weather:::
45 degrees right now and I really wish that I could see some rain in this place.  Arizona must be the only State where dark gloomy skies do NOT mean rain...ugh LOL

On my reading pile:::  
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler 
Levi's Will by W. Dale Cramer (this weekend I read through all the Daughters of Caleb books, LOVe them) 
Beauty Gone Wild (Herbal recipes for gorgeous skin and hair)

On my TV:::
Call the Midwife Series Finale Episode 6 
Bramwell Season 1
Upstairs Downstairs Season 2

On the menu for this week:::
Monday -  Bifes de Cebolada (Portuguese Recipe, will be up later on the food blog) 
Tuesday - Oven Hash
Wednesday - Sausage and Spinach Manicotti
Thursday - Beefy Slow Cooked Pot Pie
Friday - Chicken Carbonara Risotto
Saturday - Yummy Hero Sandwiches
Sunday -  Salisbury Steak

On my to do list:::

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
During movie time, I've been working on my big beast of a ripple blanket, it's slow going but it's coming along :)
Got a new crochet book this weekend and I plan on starting some projects on there.
Still working on the Tabbard for my husband, it's done except for the design on the front, THAT is going to take me a while.

In Homeschooling:::
Jasmine is learning all about the skeletal system in Science and in Social Studies she will be learning about the midwest.  Nicholas will be doing a Science Unit Review and taking a Language Arts test.

Looking around the house:::
It's a holiday so everyone is home.  Hubby is on his computer playing Castleville, Nicholas is playing a game on the Wii and Jasmine is on the couch with her laptop.  My dishwasher is running, my washer is doing a load and aside from giving the kitchen a quick clean, I plan on relaxing with the family today. 

From the camera:::
Been relaxing on here quite a bit, loving the new couches they are so comfortable :)

Something fun to share:::
There are so many great blogs out there that I love and there are those that just catch my eye and keep me captive for a long time, those are the ones that I find myself with a cup of hot coffee in hand, just scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and telling myself "Just one more", but hours later I'm still there.  Violet Bella is such a blog for me, the owner is stunning, has a really cool sense of style and is always sharing neat things :)  Go on over and take a look.  

On my prayer list:::
So many people needing prayers right now.  Family, friends.
For me, I just ask for prayers for health and for patience, I have a tendency to over worry about things and drive myself crazy.  

Bible verse, Devotional::: 

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Psalm 119:105

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Favorites #7


If you have something special you would like to show, if you have a trinket which has a special meaning for you or maybe something you have just found and own or would like to have. It could be anything, a trinket, a book, a new cookware set, a necklace, a photograph, a project you're working on or finished....anything that you love and would like to show us all.

Take a photo, or two, or it on your blog and come back and link up using Mr Linky.

Please only include links directly to your post and only those pertaining to Friday Favorites. Anything not related WILL be removed.



We're a tea loving family, or at least my daughter and I are, and not just the normal teas in the tea bags, but the loose leaf teas and especially when they come in delicious combinations.

That's what I'm sharing with you today.

Every year we go to the Arizona Renaissance Festival, and every year we make it a point to stop at Spice Traders Teas and stock up on our favorite flavors.


Without a doubt, the flavor that most stands out and our favorite of them all, is the Cinnamon Apricot.  It is DIVINE!

But this year I picked up a few others to try, this is the Chocolate Chai.........and those are real chocolate chunks in there.


Another one that is new for us this year, is the Bloodberry, but I mean, just smelling it and looking at the ingredients I know it's going to quickly become a favorite.


These teas are perfect on a cold day, they are perfect with some honey and a squeeze of lemon when you're feeling under the weather, they're perfect as a mid afternoon treat with a little smidge of milk and my daughter loves them for breakfast.

Any way you have them, you'll enjoy them....and this is why they've become one of my favorite things in my home :)

To order some for yourself or to browse the different flavors, you can visit Spice Traders Teas online.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I want to Menu Plan but I don't know how!

I can't tell you how many emails I get with this question or a similar one :)

It's a valid question and while I am no expert, I HAVE been  menu planning for the 14 years that I've been married, plus the other years that I did as a teenager when my parents had to travel somewhere and it was just me and my brothers and grandma.


Menu planning for me saves money, hours of stress about what I'm going to cook or "oh my gosh I forgot to thaw the meat", but most importantly, it helps keep me organized and my day running smoother.

Here's a couple of the questions I've been asked through email:

What exactly is Menu Planning?

One thing it's not, is complicated at all.  What it really means is that you plan ahead, a few days before you are going grocery shopping, you sit down and plan ahead for meals you're going to cook for the family.

Why should I Menu Plan, what will I get from it as opposed to just making whatever I feel like that night?

Couple things I find when menu planning:
- I save money because I buy what is on the list and not what I don't need
- There is a wider variety of meals on the table, I don't end up cooking the same things over and over
- Make good use of all the cookbooks I have stashed in my pantry
- Much healthier because I can cook from scratch and plan ahead instead of just grabbing take out

Do you Menu Plan for a week at a time, or a month, how do you do it?

I've actually mentioned this on my blog before, I Menu Plan and Grocery shop every two weeks.  Since we are military we get paid on the 1st and the 15th of the month, so it kinda started from there and I stuck to it.  I've tried the once a week thing and it just didn't work for us.

I find that it is doable and doesn't also become a chore or boring.  I can't imagine shopping once a month or planning menus for a whole month, I've tried it and again, just didn't work out for us.  But feel free to do whatever works for your family, do at least plan for a week in advance and see how that goes.

Do you use just cookbooks or do you get recipes elsewhere?

-- Both.  One thing I like doing is picking one cookbook and planning all my meals out of there for the two weeks or at least one week, this way I feel like I'm getting use out of all the books in my collection and I'm also keeping it all to one place so that I won't be scrambling to find the recipe later.

-- I have a couple of food blogs that I follow and I have them bookmarked in my Google Reader under a folder named Food Blogs.  When I'm planning my menus, I open up that folder and give a quick browse through the latest entries, sometimes go back a few weeks or so if it's a new blog that I just found and see what I like.  If I find a recipe I want to try, I open it in another tab and then bookmark it to my Favorites.  I have a folder in there named "Recipes for next week" to which I save the recipes for those two weeks, once I make them, I just delete the link.

-- I usually just plan for dinners because our breakfast and lunches usually revolved around the same things.  Breakfast cereal, toast, muffins, pancakes and waffles etc.  Lunches are sandwiches, leftovers, salads etc.

I want to Menu Plan but I feel overwhelmed and like it's such a chore, how do you overcome that?

One thing you can do is start by not thinking about it as a chore but merely part of the household running.  It truly does help out a lot especially on those hectic days which we all seem to have.

Another thing you can do is jot down a bunch of meals on a piece of paper, things you usually make or family favorites plus recipes you want to try etc.  Keep a running list of those and put it up on your refrigerator.  When you get ready to sit down and do your Menu Planning, just add those meals to the days, you can repeat the same menu every two or three weeks or whenever you wish, I do have meals that I make quite often.

Something else you can do is make Theme Days.  For example:

Monday - Crockpot Monday
Tuesday - Breakfast for dinner (my family loves breakfast for dinner, so I sometimes make bacon, sausages or biscuits and gravy...or pancakes, waffles etc)
Wednesday - Mexican (tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos etc)
Thursday - Pasta
Friday - Make your own Pizza night
Saturday - Casserole Night
Sunday - Soup Sunday (we actually did this a lot growing up, every night we had soup, sandwiches and a dessert.  My stepmom was able to feed a large family very inexpensively)

I also know that some Menu Planners use Google Calendar to help them out.  They set it up where they have a sub folder named "Menu Planning", click on the day and enter the name of the meal, then set it to repeat every two weeks.  Very helpful when planning, you can also remove the recipes and add new ones when you get sick of the just an idea.

Here are some more tips on how I plan my meals:::

- Check my freezer and my pantry to see what I have available and what I can make using the ingredients on hand
- I let the kids and the husband pick different nights and make their favorite meals....whatever they pick is what goes, so I'll sometimes have a "Nicholas Night, Jasmine Night or Curt Night".  They love having their own night and picking what everyone else will eat.  When you have kids chances are you'll be making pizza or hotdogs or easy cheap meals.  I like it.
- Be flexible, just because I have Meatloaf written down for a certain day does NOT mean that I have to make it, if I look at the menu and would rather have the Fried Chicken for the next day, I simply switch the meals around.

Menu Planning Resources

Saving Dinner

Whichever way you decide to do it, just remember to keep it simple, keep it easy and not think of it as a chore.  :)

I find Menu Planning a lot of fun, it gives me the opportunity to try new dishes and to get even more excited about cooking.  For those that don't enjoy being in the kitchen, it can make it a little less stressful if you already know what you are making.

I hope this helps some of you out there who are just now thinking about Menu Planning, or have been trying but get discouraged.  I find that it's habit forming, but in the good kind of habit way, I honestly can't imagine not Menu Planning, matter of fact the very few times I haven't done it it was absolutely chaotic in my house.

Do you have any tips, advice, ideas for new Menu Planners?  Why don't you share them in my comments section, could very well be the push someone needed to try it out :)

Cooking Thursday

If you want to use the picture, just click here for the original.

Good Morning, hope everyone is having a wonderful week :)

On to today's recipe which is a favorite of mine, it's Portuguese Milk Rolls and I remember eating them as a child when we lived in Portugal. :)

Extremely easy to make and so good :)

Paezinhos de Leite

Paezinhos de Leite – Portuguese Milk Rolls

1 cup and 2 tablespoons of milk
1 and a half tablespoons softened butter
1/4 cup  sugar
3 cups flour
pinch of salt
1 packet dry yeast
1 egg + little milk for egg wash
Place the ingredients in your bread machine following the directions.  For mine, I add all the liquids first, then the dry except for the yeast.   I then make a small hole in the dry ingredients using my finger and pour the yeast into the little well.   Set to the dough cycle.
When done, remove the dough, place it on a floured surface, then make small rolls by pinching off balls of dough.  These rise quite a bit so don’t make them too big.
( for those that don’t have the bread machine, to make it the traditional way,  slightly warm the milk, add the butter and yeast.   In a bowl, add the dry ingredients, make a well in the center and add the liquids.  Knead well for a few minutes until you get a dough that is smooth and doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl.    Make a ball, cover with a dish towel and let rise for about 30 minutes.  Proceed with making the individual rolls )
I like shaping mine into ovals.  Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix the beaten egg with a little bit of milk.
Paezinhos de Leite
Brush the tops of the rolls and then let them rise for about 30 minutes.
Paezinhos de Leite
Place them in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until nice and brown.  Enjoy!
Best way to have them, or at least my favorite way, is to eat them warm, slathered with butter, a slice of cheese and a slice of ham.
Paezinhos de Leite

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This week I'm looking forward to.......

…new couches arriving tomorrow. Our old couches are about 8 years old and have finally worn themselves out.

…housework, believe it or not, but having new couches means rearranging a few things in the living room and I'm really looking forward to that.

cooking. A lot.

baking. New things, old things.

…working a little more on my spring quilt.

…watching more period dramas.

Homemade Maple Syrup

...replenishing my kitchen stock with homemade goodness, such as maple syrup.

…enjoying the new seedlings coming in, planting some more herbs.

…learning as I homeschool my children, I've enjoyed being able to learn as they do.

…grocery shopping at night, when it's quiet and there's no big crowds.

…soaking in the tub with an herbal mix.
…finding more books for my Kindle Fire and continuing to read my old homemaking ones already on there.
…starting a sewing project for my husband, it's intimidating but I won't back down from the challenge.
…taking lots of photos that capture our everyday life, recording as many moments as we can so that we may one day sit back and look through it all.
...reading more homesteading blogs, living vicariously through those surviving off the land, getting ideas for when we retire.
...continuing my Bible plan without deviating, pushing through and feeling my spirit soar as I strengthen the relationship between me and my Father.

...loving my family and friends.