Friday, March 31, 2006
Our tub drain was running a little slow and I had recently used a commercial drain cleaner only to have this repeat. So, I decided to try a homemade remedy and see how it compared.
Pour 1/2 c. baking soda in drain. Follow with 1/2 c. white vinegar. Cover with rag (will foam) and let sit for 5 minutes. Flush with boiling water.
So far, this seems to be very effective as this morning during my shower, there was no extra water waiting to drain. It is also a very natural cleaner and my favorite part is that it costs about 0.20 per application as compared to bottle of commercial cleaner. The commercial bottle costs at least $3 and they tell you to use 1/4-1/2 of the bottle per application. So, you can see the savings.
Time will really tell if this is effective, though after nearly 48 hours, I am very pleased with the results!
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Since our little darling seems to think that vanilla wafers are one of the only foods she can munch on, I decided to try to make them from scratch instead of who-knows-what-is-in-them from the store! Here are the results:
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. cake flour (I used all-purpose)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. water
1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Cream together first five ingredients
3. Add the flour and baking powder. Add water and continue mixing until dough forms a ball.
4. Roll dough into 3/4" balls and flatten slightly onto a cookie sheet.
5. Bake 15-18 minutes or until cookies are light brown.
Makes about 50 cookies.
* David and I both agreed these were yummy and tasted like the "store-bought" kind. Emily likes them, but doesn't eat as many as she did when they came from a box - a benefit in and of itself! :)
PS: I did not change any settings on my blog, but noticed that everything is double spaced - does anyone know how I can correct this?
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Yesterday, a similar thing happened to a pair of jeans - thankfully, I was at home this time. But, it made me wonder what is going on with maternity clothes!? Anyone else have an interesting experience with maternity clothes?! :)
Monday, March 27, 2006
We had a lovely afternoon in Savannah on Saturday! The weather was gorgeous and the azaleas are in their prime! We took the Trolley Tour of downtown Savannah which enabled us to see all of the squares, old homes, neat architecture, and provided us with transportation through all of the traffic!
We stopped for lunch at the Gryphon Tea Room which was neat - very European feeling. And, it had a beautiful view as it faced Madison Square.
Continuing our tour, we stopped at the Juliette Gordon Lowe house, she was the founder of the Girl Scouts.
Savannah is a neat place to visit - and I can easily recommend all of the things we did, they were fun and worth the stop!
Friday, March 24, 2006
Thursday, March 23, 2006
My Grandma is arriving this afternoon from St. Louis! I am so excited to see her - she hasn't been here before and has never seen where we live. So, we are really pleased to have this time together! I may be posting sporadically while she is here - but will try to pop in once in a while!
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
PS: The Easter Grass is doing great! Can't wait to post an update photo of that!
Saturday, March 18, 2006
In keeping with the new life theme, I cannot bear the thought of using plastic Easter grass in Emily's basket. And, I have always wanted to grow real grass just for Easter - so here goes nothing.
I found wheat grass berries at our health food store for $1/pound. The owner told me that this is what people use to grow Easter grass.
I selected a recycled lunch meat container from my plastic cabinet and cut the rim off with a razor blade that it would fit into the basket. Then I almost filled the container with potting soil. And, sprinkled a generous amount of seeds over the top of that. I covered the seeds with a thin layer of potting soil, watered and put in a sunny window. I read somewhere after the fact, that I should have soaked the seeds for 6-12 hours first, so hopefully they will still sprout, since it is a bit too late for me to dig them out of the soil successfully!
I'll be posting the progress...here is a photo from the planting, minus the top layer of soil to cover the seeds.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Creamy Ranch Chicken
6 slices bacon
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. ranch dry salad dressing mix
1 1/4 c. whole milk (I used half and half because I had some left from another recipe)
3 c. dried medium noodles (egg noodles)
1 Tbsp. finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Cut bacon into narrow strips. In a large skillet cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels; discard all but 2 tablespoons drippings.
2. In the same skillet cook chicken in reserved drippings until tender and no longer pink, turning to brown evenly. Sprinkle flour and salad dressing mix over the chicken in the skillet; stir well. Stir in milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Stir in bacon. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions. Serve chicken with noodles; sprinkle with Parmesan.
Makes 4 servings.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
* First of all, I'm going to reinstate something I used to do and got lazy about when we had a little baby in the house and that is washing out ziplocs and minimizing the use of disposables like plastic wrap, aluminum foil, etc... If I can put it in something washable to save or freeze, that is a savings. Or, if I wash out the ziploc and re-use it, that is also a savings.
* The next thing I am going to do is switch all of our aut0-pay bills to be paid on our Discover Card. I know, you are wondering how this will save us money - here's how:
- We are absolutely committed to pay off our credit card every month, so we will not pay a penny in interest on any of these bills. We simply deduct the amount from our check book and then know the money is spent, when I write one check for the Discover card, I don't have to deduct it from the balance left. I am in no way encouraging the misuse of a credit card to pay bills!
- We get a bonus from our Discover Card that will allow us to receive cash back. So, my plan is to save this all year and use the money to do Christmas and gift shopping throughout the year. This will not only make gift giving more fun, it will also essentially make the gifts free.
- We will watch for special bonuses available from our Discover card. For example, through the end of March, they were offering a special 5% rebate on any medical expenses or health related expenses. So, I paid our entire global payment for the coming baby and we got a great bonus on that.
I know that there are tons of ways I could become more thrifty - but I'm going to start with these. When we were first married, I had just finished reading The Tightwad Gazette books and was extremely motivated to try lots of new ideas. I thought I would try a new idea each month. However, then I found out I was pregnant and did not feel like doing much of anything. So, now I am hoping to get back to this and try to implement at least one new money-saving idea each month.
Please feel free to join in or pass on ideas you have implemented in your home for making the money stretch further!
Update: Well, as nice as the idea was to put our bills on the Discover, it is not working out. The electric and mortgage companies do not accept credit cards for auto pay and the water company does not accept Discover. The only one that is going to work is the phone/internet bill, so I'll just be satisfied with that and keep using the card for everything else that I can.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
I will be adding posts about Easter as I figure out what we are going to do for Emily this year. However, I figured a good place to start was with finding this smallish Easter basket that I mentioned previously.
While in the Easter basket aisle of Wal-Mart, I was getting pretty disgusted with the cartoon characters, sports ball shapes, and just ridiculously huge baskets that they had. Then, I had an inspiration! I saw this pretty basket with the butterflies and it came in two sizes - small and large. So, I looked through the smaller ones and chose this one.
Now, here is the exciting part to me: I can use this basket without regret because it will be so easy to tie in the theme of "new life" with the butterflies! So, perhaps this begins a trend for our Easter celebrating ~ choosing items that can have symbolic meaning and can be used as a teaching tool of the true meaning of Easter.
Keep the ideas coming if you have any!
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
I bought the part for less than $7 and spent one hour this morning installing a new Fill Valve Assembly! I wanted to take a picture - because I was so proud of it - but realized you might not all want to see the inside of my toilet tank! Hee Hee
Anyway, the project was successful and I no longer hear a drip!
My next project is to try a homemade remedy on a couple of our drains that are seeming a bit slow. I'll post on that in the future.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Mary Ann sent some yummy bread recipes!
The Common Room sent some great tips for entertaining toddlers!
Sunday, March 12, 2006
I always had an Easter basket growing up, and I think it all comes down to what the attitude is in giving it. If my Mom had never told us the true meaning along with the basket - I might have thought Easter was all about candy and bunnies. A tradition I have kept up is making "bunny biscuits" on Easter morning.
So, I'm just wondering what any of you do to communicate the meaning of Easter to your children. Do you have any traditions? I read somewhere about doing the eggs/bunnies part of Easter on the Saturday before and then keeping Sunday for the celebration of Jesus resurrection. I'm just gathering ideas and wonder if any of you would share what has worked for you and your family? Thanks!
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Friday, March 10, 2006
Hebrews 5:11-14, "We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's Word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teachings about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."
I kept thinking back to last summer when it was such a struggle to get Emily to eat solid food - to teach her how to eat it and to be thankful when she ate one or two bites at a time. I remember her arching her back and crying over the whole ordeal of being fed this food and desiring only milk. It took daily effort, discipline, and perseverance. Now, she loves solid food.
How often is this true of me? Isn't it so much easier to just think over the things I already understand and believe than to dig deeper into God's Word for new things to learn? The learning of the new takes study, thought, effort, and discipline - much like training a baby to eat solid food.
I love the reminder in verse 14, "who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." It is daily. It is discipline - think of the word 'trained'. I picture my Dad - a great runner of marathons, who without training, would not be able to complete the race. But, because of discipline, desire, and goals along the way is able to run with perseverance and finish the race!
Today, I want it to be in the front of my mind to desire solid food ~ in spite of and because of the work it will require. And, to train myself by constant use to distinguish good and evil.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
1 pound spaghetti (we prefer fettucini)
8 ounces bacon (8 slices) cut 1 inch thick crosswise
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 large eggs
3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 c. half and half
1. Set a large pot of water to boil (for pasta). In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8-12 minutes; transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.
2. Salt boiling water generously; add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package instructions.
3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together eggs, Parmesan, and half-and-half. Set aside.
4. Drain pasta, leaving some water clinging to it. Working quickly, add hot pasta to egg mixture. Add bacon; season with salt and pepper, and toss all to combine (heat from pasta will cook eggs). Serve immediatlely, sprinkled with additional Parmesan cheese.
Note: After following all of these directions, I was very skeptical that the eggs were cooked, so put the whole bowl in the microwave for a minute or two. I felt better and knew I was not eating raw eggs in the process.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Prep: 25 minutes; Proof: 3 hours; Bake: 30 minutes
Makes 2 loaves, 12 slices each
3 to 3 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 package regular of quick active dry yeast
1 c. very warm water (120-130 degrees)
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large egg white
1 Tbsp. cold water
Poppy seed or sesame seed
1. Mix 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add warm water and oil. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to make dough easy to handle (dough will be soft). Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
2. Place dough in greased bowl and turn greased side up. Cover and let rise in warm place 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until double. Rising time is longer than times for traditional breads, which gives the typical French bread texture. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
3. Grease large cookie sheet with shortening; sprinkle with cornmeal.
4. Punch dough down and divide in half. Roll each half into a rectangle, 15x8 inches, on lightly floured surface. Roll up tightly, beginning at 15-inch side, to form a loaf. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal. Roll gently back and forth to taper ends. Place both loaves on cookie sheet.
5. Cut 1/4-inch-deep slashes across loaves at 2-inch intervals with sharp knife. Brush loaves with cold water. Let rise uncovered in warm place about 1 hour or until double.
6. Heat oven to 375. Mix egg white and 1 Tbsp. cold water; brush over loaves. Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seed.
7. Bake 25-30 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
Ok, now for a few things I do differently: (just to simplify)
- I put all of the ingredients listed in step one into the Kitchen Aid mixer using the paddle attachment, just mix together. Then switch to the dough hook for adding the rest of the flour and this also takes care of the kneading.
- I do not grease the cookie sheet or the bowl the dough is rising in. I just mix the dough in the mixer bowl and place a plate over the top to let it rise.
- I do not use the egg wash or sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
And, in true-Wilkinson-baby fashion, the ultrasound tech was not able to tell. However, I am excited to say that the baby seems to be healthy and everything looks good on that account which is really the more important thing anyway!
I'm glad that I was prepared for the possibility of not finding out since we didn't last time either! I'll make sure to post again when we do find out!
Monday, March 06, 2006
So, I'm wondering if any of you have a recipe that is really great for basic bread that we could use for toast, sandwiches, french toast, etc...
I don't have a wheat grinder and am not able to invest in one at this point, though I'm sure that would make amazing bread! If you use a mixer or food processor in making the recipe, please let me know that too!
Thanks for sharing your recipes!
I took the easy way out and only cleaned the inside of the car: windows, vacuum, clean out trash and toys, etc... And, plan to go through a car wash for the outside in the next few days.
Thanks for putting up with all of these posts, I'm certainly as ready as you are to move on to something else!
Sunday, March 05, 2006
* Going outside to get the mail, I walked across our porch and just felt like it was such a peaceful place. There was a calm breeze on this warm day and the freshly planted flowers looked so cheery and happy. The whole scene made me smile!
* While I was sitting on the floor of my closet looking through craft supplies, Emily walks up to me and leans her face close telling me she wants a kiss on the forehead. I gladly plant the kiss on her forehead and, satisfied, she toddles away. Precious!
* David's brother wanted to get together for dinner tonight and suggested ordering pizza. So, I found a coupon, called ahead, and decided to pick it up to save lots of extra time waiting for the delivery person. When I got there, they did not have our order ready and I had to wait for them to make it again (not sure what happened here). While I was waiting, I heard a siren go by outside and was thankful to be delayed and not outside in the midst of whatever was going on. When they told me it was ready, no one was at the cash register, so I just waited to pay for our pizza. The cashier finally came back and let me know our dinner was free because of the mix-up and long wait! Now, that was worth the wait!
Friday, March 03, 2006
1. How many meals does most of your family eat at home each week? How many are in your family? It is pretty rare for us to go out to eat unless I'm running errands in Savannah or something and it happens to be over lunch time. There are three of us, one who eats crackers and fruit mostly!
2. How many cookbooks do you own? Hmmm, I'll have to go count...about 25. There are 3 or 4 that are my favorites and, like Megan, I have pared down many of the cookbooks I did not use and passed them on to someone else.
3. How often do you refer to a cookbook each week? Probably 3 times, if you count referring to the recipe box where my faithful few reside, then probably more often.
4. Do you collect recipes from other sources? If so, what are some of your favorite sources (relatives, friends, magazines, advertisements, packages, the internet, etc.)? Yes, I am a recipe collector, but have tried to pare that down to cut the clutter. I have a photo album with plastic sheets that I can slide the recipes into to try and then I can purge those easily. My favorite sources are Kraft Food & Family, friends, and lately Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine.
5. How do you store those recipes? As I mentioned above, I use a photo album with plastic sleeves. Another thing I do is stuff them in between cookbooks until I get around to cutting out the part I'll actually use.
6. When you cook, do you follow the recipe pretty closely, or do you use recipes primarily to give you ideas? I usually follow it very closely. The two exceptions to that are if I want to leave something out or if it says to use multiple separate bowls to mix things - I skip that and mix in one bowl.
7. Is there a particular ethnic style or flavor that predominates in your cooking? If so, what is it? I think of and describe our eating style as homey and farmhouse-like. We don't do gourmet at all and I'm getting to the point where I'm choosing simpler and quicker recipes.
8. What’s your favorite kitchen task related to meal planning and preparation? (eating the finished product does not count) Planning ahead and doing what I can ahead of time to simplify dinner time, it just makes the whole experience more enjoyable.
9. What’s your least favorite part? Aside from this, probably the clean up.
10. Do you plan menus before you shop? Usually.
11. What are your three favorite kitchen tools or appliances? Kitchen Aid mixer, enamelware tea kettle from an antique store, and dishwasher!
12. If you could buy one new thing for your kitchen, money was no object, and space not an issue, what would you most like to have? I'm not sure...but I know David would enjoy this!
13. Since money and space are probably objects, what are you most likely to buy next? Salad tongs - I know this sounds silly, but it is always tricky for me to figure out how to serve salad!
14. Do you have a separate freezer for storage? Yes.
15. Grocery shop alone or with others? Almost always with Emily.
16. How many meatless main dish meals do you fix in a week? Dinners? Probably zero. Breakfasts are almost always meatless and I eat leftovers for lunch.
17. If you have a decorating theme in your kitchen, what is it? Favorite kitchen colors? Our kitchen is sage green. I guess I would say the theme is, "Things I Like". This is one of my favorite rooms in the house and where I spend so much time, I think of it as my "office" and since I am a homemaker - it technically is! Really though, probably a cottage theme would best fit.
18. What’s the first thing you ever learned to cook, and how old were you? Hmmm, the first thing? (Mom, do you remember?) I remember helping my Mom grind nuts, and watching her can tomatoes and her allowing me to help, thought I can't say I remember what the first thing was.
19. How did you learn to cook? From my Mom! She would encourage us to be the chef for the night sometimes and we could pick whatever we wanted to fix: Chef's Choice! My sister was the adventurous one who would check out a library book on food from a different country and prepare us a meal from that. Remember the peanut butter drink? :) For canning, I remember watching my Mom - but re-learned from a book she gave me with great step by step directions and photos.
20. Tagging… I’m tagging Mary Ann, Kathryn and Stacy if you're interested in joining in!
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Monday: Play outside with new ball
Tuesday: Paint-with-water book
Wednesday: Play with bucket of water, paintbrush, and cups outside. Thanks, Meredith for the tip! She also used the opportunity to taste dirt!
This is what I did while she was tasting dirt! (Thanks, Grace for the planters! The pansies did not survive the cold weather we had last week!)
* Sweep off all leaves
* Plant fresh flowers in planters
* Wipe down rocking chairs
* Put tools in shed
* Plant fresh flowers in planters
I won't have a specific time completed on this because I have already done a lot of it and have to get some more flowers for the back porch - but I would estimate an hour and a half or so total.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Another recipe to share from Everyday Food. I chose this one because I already had all the ingredients on hand. I loved the way the cheese made a crispy crust around the chicken. Enjoy!
Prep Time: 35 minutes; Total Time: 35 minutes
4 slices firm white sandwich bread, torn into large pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh parsley
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (4-6 ounces each)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces
1. In a food processor, pulse bread, Parmesan, parsely, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper until fine crumbs form. Transfer mixture to one shallow bol; place egg in another. (Note: I simply mixed seasoned bread crumbs and cheese in a shallow bowl and skipped the food processor all together.)
2. One at a time, dip each chicken cutlet into egg; let excess drip off, then dip into breadcrumb mixture. Press on crumbs firmly.
3. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook cutlets, two at a time, adding remaining tablespoon oil for second batch, until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
4. Wipe skillet clean. Add lemon juice and 1/4 c. water; cook over low heat until steaming, 1 minute. Add mustard. Remove pan from heat, and stir in butter until combined. Serve cutlets with sauce. (I did not make this sauce, and just served them plain.)