Monday, November 25, 2013

Pinterest Day!

This past weekend, I hosted a first-ever Pinterest Day. It was a great time! Here's the invite my good friend Toni and I shared with other friends:

Planning the event was very simple. Here's how you can do it. 

  1. Choose a craft. We selected the Christmas ornament wreath from Six Sisters Blog. Instructions can be found here.
  2. Collect RSVPs. You will need the RSVPs in order to make sure you have enough supplies for all of your guests to make the project. We had 10 adults making the wreaths.
  3. Purchase the supplies. We headed over to the good ol'e Dollar Tree to buy an assortment of ribbon and ornaments. Each guest put $10 into the fund to cover the costs. 
  4. Encourage your guests to bring a snack. It was neat to see Pinterest recipes in real life. For example, we had the famous Cake Mix Puppy Chow, Country Time Lemonade Punch, Rice Crispy Paint Brushes, and lots of other neat snacks. 
  5. Gather together, craft, and socialize! It was great having lots of people doing the same craft, so we could help each other along. Here are our finished projects:

It was a great excuse to get together, and we had a neat project to show for the day when we were finished. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Busy bottles

Here's a super-quick project that's kept my boys entertained today. I call it a busy bottle. (The idea for this might be floating out there in cyberspace, but I dreamed it up on my own, so let me be happy with myself, ok?)

I do things in twos around here: change two diapers, get two bottles ready, give two baths... you get the point. So I made two of these in about 5 minutes.

I started with empty water bottles. I filled them 3/4 of the way full with baby oil (I thought the items would float slower in baby oil than water, but it turns out the baby oil wasn't as thick as I thought it would be, so it didn't do much, other than bubble when it's shook up.) Then, I added some goodies. From my craft room, I took small beads, felt pom-pons, and foam shapes. I put them in the bottle, and then I added water to fill it the rest of the way up. I ran a line of hot glue all around the top of the bottle, which holds the lid on tight, so none of the small items escape. 

So far, the boys are occupied!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Married to a farmer

I have a confession to make: I get a little irritated when people complain about their spouses' work schedule. If they think they have a rough schedule or think they work a lot of hours, they should try being married to a farmer.

Ironically, when I started typing the title of this blog post, I left out the last "er," so it read, "Married to a farm." In a lot of ways, we are married to a farm, but I wouldn't change being"Married to a farmer," for anything.

I'm so glad that my husband gets to do something he is 110% passionate about every day. Sure, it means long hours, but I know there's nothing else he would rather do. He is making a difference, right here within a few miles of our home. I hope one day our boys will be able to farm, if that's what they choose to do.

For other farm wives out there, I know this time of year is tough. Long hours and short fuses can get the best of us if we let it. Instead, let's focus on staying positive, and remember there are perks to this job. Where else do you get views like this?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Freezer meals... for the rest of us.

You've probably seen blogs with these claims:

  • "Make 50 freezer meals in a day."
  • "30 days of freezer cooking."
  • "16 freezer meals in one hour."
This is not one of those blog posts. Instead, this is the story of two friends who live in the land of reality and who got together to make freezer meals. Think of the story as "Freezer meals... for the rest of us."

So here's how it went down. 

Toni and I decided it would be fun/practical to get together and prepare some freezer meals. A couple of weeks ago we got together to choose our recipes, so we could plan our shopping lists. Since this was our first time doing a freezer day, we wanted to start small. We chose to each select three recipes: a pork dish, a chicken dish, and a beef dish. We would double the recipe (if necessary; if it was already a large portion, we didn't double it) so we each got enough for one meal and leftovers. Our husbands are "meat and potatoes" kind of guys. Nothing too crazy for them. We looked for recipes that were simple enough to make but were different from something we already make, so we could add some new dishes to our normal line-up. 

Here's what I picked out:
  • Hawaiian Pizza Pockets 
    • Doubled the recipe
    • Put in foil pans, ready to freeze and ready to bake
    • We each ended up with 6 pockets.
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
    • Doubled the recipe
    • Put in foil pans, ready to freeze and ready to bake
    • We each ended up with 2 small pans (each pan is enough for 2 meals.)
  • Crockpot Pizza Casserole 
    • Doubled the hamburger, nothing else
    • Put in gallon-size freezer bags, ready to freeze and put in the crockpot
    • We each ended up with 1 bag (enough for 2 meals.)
And Toni chose:
  • Peachy Pork Picante 
    • Doubled the recipe
    • Put in quart-size freezer bags, ready to freeze and reheat
    • We each ended up with 1 bag (enough for 1-2 meals.)
  • Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole 
    • Did not double
    • Put in foil pans, ready to freeze and ready to bake
    • We each ended up with 2 small pans (enough for 2 meals.)
  • Million Dollar Casserole 
    • Did not double
    • Put in foil pans, ready to freeze and ready to bake
    • We each ended up with 2 small pans (enough for 2 meals.)
A note on the recipes: Six Sisters Stuff has awesome recipes (an crafts, and decor, and tips, etc.) It was hard to find "freezer meal ideas" that involved pork. We relied a lot on Pork: Be Inspired. That website (funded by hog farmers!) has over 75 categories of recipes you can search by.

There are lots of ways to do freezer meal get-togethers, but we decided that we would each bring the ingredients for our recipes to my house, where we would cook and assemble the meals. If we do this again, we might bring the meat pre-cooked, because that took the bulk of our time. We each also had containers to put the meals in. (Freezer bags and foil pans with lids are a must!)

Four hours later, here's what we had:

Now, four hours seems like a long time, but we each ended up with nine dishes (which will generate leftovers as well.) You'll notice we labeled the pans with the recipe name and baking/cooking directions. Basically, all of the recipes we completely prepared except the baking part, so all we have to do is take the pan out of the freezer and stick it in the oven. Also, the four hours included clean-up time, which was nice to share with another person.

Oh, and did I mention dessert?
  • Frozen Strawberry Fluff (did not double, poured into pre-made graham cracker crusts)
  • Easy Ice Cream Cake (layer ice cream sandwiches and cool whip, top with candy bars of your choice and chocolate syrup)
All in all, I think we were happy with our efforts. We can't wait to taste these new recipes and enjoy good, home-cooked meals with the effort out of the way!

Friday, November 8, 2013

One man's trash...

... is another man's treasure.

Once upon a time, I rescued a piano bench out of Greg's grandma's garage. She was ready to junk it. It had obviously seen better days. When I brought it home, it had a rough, chipped particle board top that wouldn't even hold a lowly houseplant. I quickly knocked that off, so all I was left were the legs.

That was at least four years ago. (No joke. I'm sure I did that when we lived at our old house, because I remember moving the darn thing.)

Last week, I threw some stain on her. She looked kind of jazzy.

The roadblock I kept running into, which kept me from moving past the stain step, were these darn tabs on the edge. The original top had sat over them, but I wanted something sturdier. If I added anything too thick, then the top of the bench wouldn't be flush with the frame. And, I couldn't get the tabs to budge. I tried a chisel. I tried a screwdriver. I tried a hammer. I tried a pry bar. NOTHING! I didn't try the sawzaw, because I was afraid the whole thing would collapse into a big pile of sawdust.

So, I cut a new piece of plywood that would fit around the tabs. I'm not going to talk about this part. There were a lot of bad words until the plywood was attached and a lot of, "I hope the boys are still sleeping so they don't hear me cussing."

But, alas, I had victory... ish. The plywood was attached to the tabs with many screws and wood shims. I sat on it, and it didn't collapse, so I figured we might be ok.

I was ready to put fabric on the top and some padding.

There are much easier ways to do this then how I did it, but the screws that were holding the plywood in place kept getting in my way. Let's just saw I used a staple gun, some hot glue, and a whole lot of luck. Oh, and did I mention that I cut open an old pillow and used the padding out of it, because I was too cheap to buy new? Use what ya got.

And here's the finished piece.

Miracles do happen.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pinterest Positives

Ok, so I've admitted before I'm addicted to Pinterest. Admittance is the first step, right? Lately, it seems like people are willing and ready to throw Pinterest under the bus. I've read things like, "Nobody's house should look that perfect," or "Pinterest sets unrealistic expectations for life."

I agree that every pin needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I also agree that someone could go off of the deep end trying to replicate the perfect Pinterest home. But, here's the thing, I think Pinterest is full of positives.

Let's rewind to the mid 20th century. This was the typical housewife:


She kept a tidy home, her children were the center of her world, and she gave her undivided attention to her husband.

Fast forward to today.


Moms have thousands of things on their plates. There are jobs, families, and other tidbits of life thrown in. Somewhere between the first picture and the second picture, I think we have forgotten how to take care of a home. And that's where Pinterest can lead our generation back to the basics. 

There are a few fundamentals of keeping house. First, it should be somewhat clean and orderly. Secondly, you should do your best to make nutritious meals. And lastly, you should throw in a little bit of love to make it feel like a home. Over time, I think people have become so focused on their jobs that they've forgotten these fundamentals. 

Maybe it's a new recipe, a tip for organizing that junk drawer, or a craft to hang on the wall: Pinterest can help the non-functional homemakers out there bring joy to their family. Pinterest brings homemaking to the forefront of our thoughts. 

Forget all the bullcrap about feeling like a failure if your home doesn't look like a magazine spread. Instead, focus on the things you can do to make your family feel loved. If it doesn't come natural for you, find inspiration on Pinterest. You don't have to be the first picture or the second, you just have to be your best self. 

Shameless plug: follow me on Pinterest.

And cue the feminazis now.