Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year Fun - 2012 Edition

I love doing this meme every year, it sort of brings the whole blogging year to an end and also takes me back in time to reflect on what I was doing.

Post the first sentence of your first blog post of each month. You can also add a favorite picture from each month.

If you decide to do one as well, let me know so I can come and see it :) 

Happy New Year everyone!


Hello there :) I am sitting here with my cup of coffee and thought that I would come share with you my latest projects.

Angry Birds


I love Wednesdays, not only because they mean the middle of the week for me and closer to the weekend, but because it means Yarn Along and I can share with you what I've made or what I'm currently working on.



Well, I wish I had a good reason for this post going up a little later than usual, but the truth is, I don't....other than the fact that I thought today was Wednesday LOL
Tortilla and Black Bean Pie

Well the hiatus did me good, I managed to get the rest that I needed and to put things back in order, and now I'm back and ready to continue this journey called life.

Happy Homemaker Monday


With some apprehension, the Torrington family is about to celebrate the twentieth birthday of Emerald, the second of three children. 


Take a moment to embrace contentment, to learn to love the everyday things that we tend to overlook or take for granted.


We need each other. That's the focus of my post today and the focus of my devotional reading this morning.


Good morning, I hope your week has been going well :)

Ice Cream Dessert


prepping potatoes for potato salad
September 2, 2012


Good Morning everyone :) Hope you had a fantastic weekend and are ready for a new work's October 1st. Oh boy, so excited :)



I have such a crazy busy day today, always seems like the day after Halloween my house is trashed.  Good grief. 

Homemade Crockpot Applesauce


You know it doesn't really mean Christmas for me, until I can smell the sweet gorgeous scent of pine in my living room and throughout the house.

December 1

Happy Homemaker Monday - Goodbye 2012

Good morning.

Well here we are, the last day of 2012.  I can't believe how fast this year has flown, and I know I usually say time goes fast but this is just ridiculous.

The last day of 2012.  Wow, lots done, lots seen, lots accomplished and lots wished for this year, so what exactly does the new year hold in store for us?

Many more Happy Homemaker Monday's, that's for sure :)

The Weather:::
37 degrees right now, actually nice and chilly.  I've had to turn on the heat in the house and last night I was freezing my toes off.  For many of you it may seem nothing, but for me, it feels good to say that.

Right now I am:
Sipping my Hazelnut coffee, wearing my pj's and wrapped in my ripply blanket.

That I need to run a few errands today, pay some bills, finish my menu plan and grocery list and do a quick lesson with the kids for homeschool.  Even though we are on break, I like doing some things so they don't completely forget.      

On my reading pile:::
Reading Follow the River by James Alexander Thom.  It's a wonderful book albeit quite graphic at times, I've read it before and am enjoying it again.  It follows the story of Mary Ingles who is taken captive by the Shawnee Indians when she is just 23 years old, married and pregnant.

On my tv:::
World Without End (still watching)
Doctor Who Season 6, last few episodes then onto Season 7
Ripper Street (new BBC series starring Matthew MacFadyen, you can watch the first episode on the BBC iPlayer or here)

Favorite Blog post this week (mine or other):::
There will now be a short interlude by Welsh Hills Again.

Something fun to share:::
I've had my eye on this website/magazine for a while. I think I may need to search for it at Barnes and Noble or JoAnn's. Finally a magazine for us Homemakers :)

On the menu for this week:::
Lots of Amish recipes the new two weeks :)

Monday - New Year's Eve.  We'll be having a few appetizers instead of a big meal.
Tuesday - Mexican Casserole
Wednesday - Chicken Veggie Fajitas
Thursday -  Ella's Beef Casserole
Friday - Ham Stuffed Manicotti
Saturday - Biscuit Pizza Bake
Sunday - Meatballs in Mushroom Gravy, Homemade noodles

On my to do list:::
Laundry - as always
Homeschooling - one quick refresher lesson
Pay bills
Finish Menu plan and grocery list
Run some errands
Quick trip to the commissary for some food items

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Finished the front of the Bavarian Crochet Cushion cover I'm making.  Finished a hot water bottle cover last night.  Don't have anything yet on the needles/hooks, but I'm sure will start something today :)

Homemaking Tips:::
Use everything you have and don't throw anything out without first seeing if you can use it again OR for another purpose.  Re-purposing saves a lot of money.

Looking around the house:::
Everyone is still asleep, including my pug girls :)   It's cold in this house so the heater is on and it just kicked off so I can hear it humming through the walls.  Living room is clean, kitchen is clean, house is pretty much tidy and clean so I don't have to do much today. 

From the camera:::
The hot water bottle cover I crocheted last night.....I started it last week and did the first row and then Christmas was in full force around me and I had to set it aside.  Totally winged this one and I'm happy it turned out so cute :)

Hot water bottle cover

On my prayer list:::
Praying for my family in South Africa, for health and financial help. 
Always praying for my husband and my children.
Prayers also for my friends both off and online, for whatever it is they may be needing or going through right now. 

Bible verse, Devotional:::
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
– Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Making do

December 30

It's such a beautiful day today.  It's cloudy, it's chilly and I have the most amazing scent of pine/bay leaves/nutmeg simmering on the stove.

One of the reasons I always get real trees for Christmas, aside from the fact that I just love them and find them gorgeous, is that before I get rid of them, I cut off as many branches as I can and store them to use throughout the year.

December 30

I have always been of the opinion that you should make do with what you have and that everything has more than one use.  It's almost become like a tradition for me each year, as soon as the tree is put out I get to work.

Some of the branches I just store in ziploc bags and keep them in my pantry, and then with some of the other branches I make a few simmering jars to store in the fridge.

December 30

There's nothing to it, really. Just get a bunch of pine needles or branches, throw them in a stockpot with water to cover.

Add a few bay leaves (I do about 2, sometimes 3 if they're really small), and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

December 30

Set the heat to very low and let it simmer away. You can let it simmer for as long as you like, just keep an eye on the water level, if it's getting very low add some more in. When I'm done simmering, I let it cool down and then pour it all into a mason jar, close it tightly and set it in the fridge. I will simmer that concoction again another time before throwing it out.

December 30

There is a blog post on another blog who does the same thing, and she has a bunch of other mixtures you can try using rosemary, lime etc.  I wish for the life of me I could remember the name of the blog, I'll come back and add it in if I find it :)

December 30

I've also used Lavender before and it smells AMAZING.

December 30

Had half a lemon and half an orange in the fridge, so made two simmering scents to use those up.

First one is Lemon, Thyme and Mint extract.

December 30

And for the orange one, I added in orange slices, cinnamon sticks and cloves.

December 30

These are all in the fridge and I'll them up within the next 2 weeks or so.

Another way that I'm making do, is by using leftover yarn from my dishcloths.

As we watched TV last night, I worked on this project and very quickly whipped up some washbags for the bathroom.  My idea was to make just one for each kid, but my husband thought they were a great idea and I ended up making him one and then thought "what the heck?" and made one for myself as well.

December 30

Very easy to make.  Just chain 4, then do 12 dc's into the fourth chain from the hook. 

Next row, chain 3, then 2 dc's in each stitch all the way around, finish with a slip stitch in the first chain 3.

Next row, chain 3, then 2 dc's into next stitch, 1 dc into next stitch and repeat that all the way around finishing with a slip stitch into the first chain 3.

Then just do a dc into each stitch all the way around and keep going that way until you have as many rows as you want.

When you're done, finish off.   Make a 50 chain with the yarn/thread, then weave it in and out of the stitches on the second row from the top.  Tie it off and you're done :)

December 30

They're adorable and I have a ton of ideas to use them in other rooms of the house, in different sizes and colors.

December 30

December 30

And they look super cute hanging on the bathroom door too.

December 30

The kids have filled theirs up with their toiletries.  Jasmine has her deodorant and brush, lotion, perfume, hair bands etc.

Nicholas has his deodorants and brush in his too.

December 30

Now, before I leave, I have a giveaway coming up next week for all my readers, kind of a late Christmas present from me :)

I'll be giving away 2 dishcloths, 1 crocheted washbag and a cookbook "The Homestyle Amish Kitchen Cookbook". 

So be on the lookout for that, I may or may not add something else to the goodies above, not sure yet. 

Hope you're all having a blessed Sunday and I'll be back tomorrow for our last Happy Homemaker Monday of the year.  See you then!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Soaking in every moment

December 29

We have become sort of hermits in my house. I think it would have been perfect if we were back in Idaho with the snow and the cold weather, then we could really blame it on that.

But the fact is simply, that hubby is on leave until the 8th of January, and we are also on homeschooling winter break until then. Yes we could be going here and there, or taking this time to enjoy some day trips all over, but we have chosen to soak in every moment.

We have stayed home, quite literally in the house without going outside unless absolutely necessary. And it's been fantastic.

December 29

Our girls enjoy spending time with us too, and I think, well actually, I KNOW that one of the reasons I love the pug breed so much is that they are amazing pets to have.  They aren't much into noisy, rowdy play.  They are very content just laying on their bed or on the couch next to us, napping.

December 29

We've had dorky, nerdy, geeky chats as a family, talking about Doctor Who, space travel, dimensions, the universe and all sorts of other geeky things.  We've learned, and we have taught each other, and we continue learning through our chats.

December 29

I've also ingested copious amounts of homemade lattes and tea chai lattes, eaten tons of chocolate and generally pigged out to the point where my body is begging for a diet and a rest from holiday food.  And that is what I'll be doing come January 1st....back to counting calories, drinking only and only water and setting those bad junkie foods aside for special occasions.

December 29

Won't be giving up my teas and lattes though, they are my fuel for the household chores that surround me on a daily basis....and really, a reward right?

December 29

Remember I mentioned we've been on a Doctor Who kick? Well we've literally been doing a marathon from Season 1 and all through to the last episodes before the new episodes start in April. It's been so much fun doing it as a family.

Matter of fact one of my favorite times of the day is after dinner, we all take our showers, get into comfy warm jammies, grab our favorites blankies, popcorn or any snacks we wish and then sit in the living room with Doctor Who.

December 29

My crochet is never far though, I find that I get most of my projects finished when I'm watching TV.

And speaking of projects, I'm working on some right now for my bathroom.

December 29

More specifically for my kids. I was browsing one of my favorite blogs and she had some knitted ones for her college kids. Cute washbags to hang on the bathroom door for each kid, to hold their belongings.

I think that is a brilliant idea and of course I had to start on some for my own kids, that way they can keep their toiletries separate and off the counters.

My husband saw these and loved them, so I've decided to make one for each of us :)

December 29

Drawstring crochet bag....who knew.

I have also started a knitted one to see how it looks. Oh and I've also got a hot water bottle crochet cover on my hooks. So a bunch of easy quick projects to keep my hands busy while watching TV.

Just really been enjoying the time I'm spending with my family, it's been a good rest for us, time to regenerate and replenish our souls as individuals and as a family.

But it's also made me remember that my children are quickly growing and soon they will be out of the house and on to their own lives. So when I see things like this laying around, I've stopped getting frustrated over them not being in the right place.....

December 29

All too soon I will miss seeing these little guys all over my tables, counters and random areas in the house.

December 29

I guess in the end, all I'm trying to say is that you need to concentrate on what matters, on your loved ones.

Enjoy every second.....soak in every moment!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cooking Thursday - Kung Pao Chicken

So ready to get back to simple meals and none of the holiday cooking.  I honestly can't look at ham and turkey and pie and chocolate and and and and and............  Blech!

For today's recipe I picked one of our favorites.  Kung Pao Chicken, hope you enjoy as well :) 

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken
Credit:  Taste of Home

8 whole chicken wings (about 1-1/2 pounds) *I used boneless thighs*
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small sweet red pepper, diced
1/2 cup diced onion
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup peanuts
Hot cooked rice

Cut chicken wings into three sections; discard wing tip section. Set the wings aside. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, water, soy sauce, lemon juice and pepper flakes until blended; set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Cook chicken wings, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until chicken juices run clear, turning occasionally.

Add red pepper and onion; cook, uncovered, for 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir cornstarch mixture; gradually add to skillet. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until sauce is thickened and vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with peanuts. Serve with rice.

Yield: 4 servings.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The day after

Don't know about you all, but as soon as Christmas is over, I immediately take down the tree and the decorations in the house. The outside decorations will start coming down tomorrow and be finished sometime within the next two days.

I just can't handle having it all over, I think because I start missing a less crowded living room and the warmth of the sun and the light through the windows, all of which seem to be gone while Christmas is on.

December 26

My poor tree was starting to die and the needles were beginning to fall like raindrops, so that was the first thing I took care of this morning.

December 26

Once the tree was removed from the house, it was all hands on deck, packing away boxes of decorations, sweeping and vacuuming and mopping and rearranging.

I can't be the only one who gets the rearranging/reorganizing bug when I start pulling things down.

December 26

To be totally honest the one thing I usually miss the most is the beautiful lights in the living room when the tree was on, but that is an easy fix because we had an extra box of LED lights and so I've decided to hang them on my little artificial plant, and there they will stay all year long.

December 26

It gives the room such a warm feeling.

December 26

I gave everything a good clean, dusted everything in sight, swept some more, vacuumed some more and mopped and mopped and moved this, and that.

December 26

It might not be what other women enjoy, but I have to say that the moments I spend in my home giving it my personal touch, are some I so cherish. It's just a little gesture for my family, to give them a warm inviting home they can enjoy spending time in.

I also had to find the perfect spot for this beautiful framed stitchery that my husband's aunt Nita had given me for Christmas. It's so pretty and has so much meaning for me as a military wife.

December 26

I knew exactly where I wanted it to go. I have two display cases filled with mementos from my husband's almost 22 year military career, and above it was the chosen spot.

December 26

What do you think?

I personally happen to think that it was made for it :)

Along with my husband's mementos are also included many of my father in law's military items from his time in the Marine Corps. Not to mention the flag that was given to my mother in law at his funeral. So yes, the perfect spot.

December 26

Worked non stop, all day long....stopped to set the table and throw some burgers on the griddle with onions to fry for dinner

December 26

And after sitting down to dinner, I got the dishes done, the kitchen swept and mopped and enjoyed a warm shower.

I think now I'll settle into my favorite chair right next to the fairy lights and enjoy some TV with my family.

My feet are killing me and my lower back is twinging away, so it's best that I call it a day.

December 26