Friday, May 29, 2009

Family Night: Playhouse Progressive Dinner

At a nearby Farmers Market recently, my little ladies spotted what they thought looked like a Noah's Ark playhouse. After some inquiry - we discovered there were five playhouses being raffled off in a nearby development. We obtained permission to visit and I came up with a plan!

I drove through the neighborhood first to scope everything out - then I came home and drew up a Treasure Hunt map:

And, planned a menu based on each stop on our route:

We started out at the little red schoolhouse! The swings were a big hit! And, here we enjoyed the first part of our dinner - peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and apples. I had a jug of lemonade for our drink.

Next, we followed the map to the little hunting/fishing cabin (really more about frogs) and we had goldfish crackers tied to a fishing pole! This was a big hit - as was the little doorbell that sounded like a frog saying, "Ribbit."

The puppet theatre was our next stop - Samuel enjoyed the puppets! Here, we munched on popcorn and played with puppets!

Next, was the pirate ship which was where our treasure was hidden (thanks to Daddy!) - I packaged some gold coin candy in this pirate ship box (clearance at Michael's for about 25 cents). I had intended for us to make S'mores at the mini Air Stream trailer next, but it was fairly busy with other people around - so we skipped that part.

Instead, we headed to the playground - for a very fun ending to our progressive dinner and treasure hunt! Aren't those the cutest little playhouses?! Which little house was your favorite?! We had a great time!

PS: Next week is going to be all about organizing! Get ready to see all the neat things my Mom helped me accomplish on her recent visit!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

An opportunity to pray ...

Jen alerted me to a special tea she is helping to host today - would you join me in praying for this special outreach? Details here - thanks!

Eat from the freezer/pantry! Week Two

Sunday: Leftovers for lunch; pancakes for dinner served with fresh strawberries!

Monday: These sandwiches, sauteed squash (from Farmer's Market) and fresh peaches (from Farmer's Market)

Tuesday: Pizza (frozen bread dough and all toppings from freezer)

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday - Monday: out of town

What I bought this week:

Farmer's Market:
6 ears of corn: $3
1 lb. peaches: $1.50

From friends organic farm: (this is my very own CSA where I can choose what I want to order and pick it up once a week! I love it!)
1 dozen farm fresh eggs: $2
2 lb. strawberries: $2 (very ripe, discounted)
one bag of lettuce mix: $3
one container of fresh basil: $1
one container of fresh peppermint: $1

Total: $13.50

Anyone else eating from their pantry? What are you fixing?

Parmesan Zucchini

I bought some yellow squash at the Farmer's Market recently and remembered making zucchini this way in the past - so tried it with the yellow variety as well! Yummy!

1/3 c. bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
4 small zucchini (or yellow squash) quartered
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese

Combine Parmesan, bread crumbs and seasoning in a shallow bowl.

Dip squash in egg, then in crumbs.

Place on cookie sheet and bake at 450 for about 20 minutes. Serves 3-4.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Catching Up

We've been out of town all weekend and I'm playing catch up today! I'll get back to posting in the next day or two. Hope you all had a nice weekend!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Yellow Apartment

Once upon a time, my roommate Becca and I were looking for a new place to live. The house we'd been renting with two other ladies was great - but the owner was ready to move back in. So, apartment searching we went.

While out one day, she suggested we stop by these cute apartments. This was a cozy looking complex of apartments and they were a cute yellow color. I was so discouraged from our hunt and was sure these would be out of our price range, so suggested we skip even checking and being discouraged again.

But, she persevered and we stopped. I'm sure you can already see where this is going?! Yes, they were very affordable and the one that was open had been freshly painted, new counters, carpet and new refrigerator! We went home and thought about it and soon after moved into this quaint yellow apartment. When giving directions, I would say, "Do you know where the yellow apartments are?" Often, they did!

The buildings were all the same, one garden level and then an upstairs level. We were upstairs and at first, I had a hard time feeling "at home" there - but keep reading to see how that changed. I don't know why - but I sort of felt like I was at camp in that apartment and a couple of other friends said, "This feels like camp!"

These apartments had been built somewhere in the 1930-1940's - my favorite era! And, an aging yet chatty neighbor told me that they had been built for the Nestle's Company but then something happened and they never used them. I have no idea if that story is true or not, but it is a charming idea!

The most interesting thing that ever happened while there was that a lady out in the back parking lot thought her car was in Reverse and it was in Drive and drove right into the bedroom window just underneath our windows. I don't know how this even happened considering that there was a curb and a thick hedge of shrubs taller than me before she could've gotten to the building!

Eventually, Becca moved back to Washington and I had a couple other roommates off and on, but for the most part I lived in the little yellow apartment alone.

I loved that out the dining room window was a big open grassy area with big trees and a picnic table - it was like a little park!

I loved the wide windowsills - perfect for my love of candlelight. I loved the windows - they were tall and narrow with panes, oh I miss them!

I loved the galley kitchen that was covered in yellow tiles accented in black - and the metal cabinets painted ivory.

I loved the surrounding neighborhood - bungalows and a bit farther down, old Victorian homes. I went for lots of walks and spent much time dreaming about the lives lived in those homes or what kind of life I would have there. I admired the homes, the gardens, imagined the memories that could be made inside. They became familiar to me and sort of like friends.

The bathroom floor was lots of mini peach tiles and the walls were tiled half-way up with peach tiles trimmed in black. I loved it that there was a little toothbrush/cup holder mounted on the wall - which was perfect for a candle holder!

There was a little opening in the living room that also opened in the hall way - perhaps for milk delivery? So charming.

I am nostalgic just remembering this lovely home. I have never been more organized than I was in that apartment. I had my things pared down to just what I used/enjoyed and everything had a place - it was easy to maintain since I was the only one who lived there.

The yellow apartment is where I experienced having a home that is a haven. (Note: I did feel this way growing up, but since I'd moved out - I'd been in numerous other apartments, homes, etc... before the yellow apartment.)

This home was such a haven to me - it was so cozy, it was inviting, it was comfortable and it was a refuge. I spent considerable amounts of time in Bible reading, study and Scripture memory. I began developing my love of crafting, homemaking and hospitality.

I think I blossomed in the little yellow apartment. I discovered who I was and became comfortable being that person.

Many nights when I got home from work, I'd put on my pj's and light candles and use no electricity as I ate dinner and thought, read, prayed. It was a charming and peaceful life. And, I am so very grateful that God gave me this time - to know Him, to know myself, to learn about reaching out.

Thank You, Lord, for providing the yellow apartment experience for me! This season was filled with memories I will treasure and lessons I want to remember. I am inspired again just remembering it today. Thank You for generously providing such a wonderful place for me to live and grow. Amen.

Did you have a special place like this? I'd love to hear about your "little yellow apartment" experience!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Family Night: Ballet

Emily's ballet recital is usually on a Friday night so this made a perfect Family Night! My Mom was here and David's parents attended as well - last year Rachel stayed home with a babysitter, but she was VERY excited about being able to attend this year! The dancers all did so well!

What have you been up to for Family Nights lately?

Restoring Order: How did you do?

Well, I hope some of you did better than I did! I didn't get anything on my list finished this week! It was very busy and we are out of town at some friends right now - so, I'll have to try again next week!

Join Rebecca next week for Restoring Order! And, link your post here:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A charming lunch on the go!

At an open house for the bride and groom a couple of days before the wedding, a friend and I realized we better come up with something for lunch the next day as our schedule was packed absolutely back to back! We wouldn't have time to even stop and get something!

When I got home, my Mom came to the rescue with these cute lunch bags! A Coke bottle from her garage and a quick trip to the grocery store florist pulled this all together!

My Mom packed sandwiches, apples and a mini candy bar - and we added a can of Pringles to the basket. She also found some bridal shower napkins that were perfect since we were eating lunch after just leaving a shower tea for the bride.

I loved how this looked all packed together in a basket and made a cute presentation for an on the go lunch which was just what we all needed!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Eat from the freezer/pantry!

When my Mom was here, she helped me clean out my freezer and pantry! We agreed that I already had plenty of food on hand and that I should try to plan my meals from what we already had. I've had fun getting creative and using what is available! I'm going to try to eat from our freezer/pantry until we go to Iowa for my Dad's marathon (about a month total) - here is week one!

Sunday: Brisket from freezer, corn on the cob, salad and french bread

Monday: BLT sandwiches and chips

Tuesday: Bag of pasta, chicken and veggies from freezer; about 1 1/2 cups fresh veggies from our garden thrown in; sliced french bread from freezer; surprise - needed to feed lunch to David's brother and friend who were over working on a swing set for the littles - pulled lunch meat from freezer for sandwiches, served pretzels and fruit.

Wednesday: Chicken Cordon Bleu (freezer); green beans (picked from garden); Parmesan Squash (squash from local farmer's market)

Thursday: Cashew Chicken; Salad; a second lunch needed for David's brother and friend working on our swing set. Working outside in the heat, they also requested some Gatorade. I didn't have any - but after a quick Google search, whipped up a pitcher of homemade Gatorade. I had all the things on hand and they said it was tasty!

Homemade Gatorade (the recipes I looked up somewhat varied so this was my compromise)
1 c. orange juice
1/2 c. and 1 Tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 liters water (or 8 cups)
Stir together and chill.

Friday: Playhouse Progressive Dinner for Family Night (post coming soon!); needed cookies for the kids at the children's shelter, but found cupcakes in the freezer instead and thawed those and decorated with some icing left in the fridge! Lunch was needed again for our swing set workers - I pulled cooked and diced chicken from the freezer, cheese, tortillas and some salsa for quesadillas.

Saturday: Date night for David and I (B1G1 coupon and gift card from my b'day!); littles finished off some chicken nuggets and french fries from the freezer; served with fruit

Week one - what I bought:

Store 1:
2 Kraft Ranch Dressing: $1.58 each less two $1.50/1 coupons = 0.16
Cascade Rinse: $3.47 less free coupon = 0
Bubble Bath for littles: $2.97
Graham Crackers for Samuel: $1.38
Colby Jack sliced cheese: $2.38
Yoplait Strawberry Banana Yogurt: $2.14
Kashi Frozen Waffles: $2.44 less free coupon = 0
Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread: $1.97
Total spent: $11.00

Store 2:
6 Kraft BBQ Sauce: on sale for B1G1 2/$1.49 and had peelie coupons for 0.35 off; double coupons = 0.09/2 or 0.27 total
2 Ketchup: 2/$1.98 - 2 0.20 doubled coupons = 2/$1.18
2 Mustard: 2/$2.32 - 2 0.50 doubled coupons = 2/0.32
Total: $1.77 plus I got a $3 catalina coupon from Kraft products so I made $1.23 on this!

Store 3:
6 lemons at 3/$1.00 = $2.00
Tub margarine: $1.03 - 0.45 coupon = 0.58
Gala apples: $1.59 - $1.00 coupon = 0.59
Small can biscuits for Saturday morning donuts: 0.89
One dozen large eggs: 0.99 - 1.00 coupon = free
Cascade rinse aid: 3.39 - free coupon = free
Total: $4.06

Total for this week: $13.83

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Preserving the Harvest: Green Beans

I've had fun harvesting a few goodies from our garden! We ate all of the broccoli fresh as I learned that I picked it too soon - so our harvest was not what it could've been! We are now enjoying lots of fresh green beans!

I've been putting some in the freezer so that we can enjoy them a bit more spread out and since I have two squares of green beans planted, we are getting more!

A quick trim of the ends:
3 minutes in boiling water:
3 minutes in ice water:
Ready for the freezer:
Now, take the water you boiled the beans in and the ice water
and toss them on your garden!
Do you have a favorite way of preparing green beans?
I'd love to hear - this is our favorite!