Friday, January 28, 2011

There's hope

Yesterday our local library left a message that a book I've been waiting for was ready for me to pick up. Without having opened the book yet, just the cover alone has given me solace.  The worn edges and tattered corners tell me that a lot of people have sought answers from this book. It's comforting to know that I'm not alone.



Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pita Pizzas

Pizza at our house has taken on a new, healthier and whole lot cheaper meaning of late.  I found this recipe for individual pizzas.  Even the pizza connoisseur among us thinks they're pretty great.

  • Take some whole wheat pita bread.  If you'd like, you can brush the top with a bit of olive oil, but I always forget that step and they taste just fine.
  • Spread some Italian tomato paste on top.  For the five of us, I use two of those little cans, and it makes one or two pizzas for each of us.
  • Add your favorite toppings.  I chopped and diced some leftover chicken and veggies that I had in the fridge:  broccoli, red pepper, mushrooms, red onion (soak for 5 min in balsamic vinegar to sweeten the taste), and a few slices of pepperoni for the die-hard Dominoes fan.  I also opened a can of sliced olives, some pineapple chunks, and put out some grated mozzorella cheese.

Everyone makes up their own pizza.  Save the cheese for last, so that it will melt and hold everything together!Set the oven for Broil and put 'em in there.  An old, weathered cookie sheet works best:o)

Oh, yummy.  I think I've given up Dominoes for good!

Monday, January 24, 2011

How was your weekend?

This Weekend I. . . is a meme that my friend Becky started, and she said I get to take over hosting it!  It's a fun, easy way to look back over your weekend and answer the question, "So, what did you do this weekend?"  Just make a bullet list, add photos if you'd like, but keep it simple.  Nobody needs to stress out on a Monday:)  Add your name to the Linky List below, so we can come see you!  And be sure to grab the button on my sidebard!
 
This weekend, I . . .
  • baked chocolate chip cookies
  • had a nice chat on the phone with my dad, who is snowbirding down south for a few months
  • danced a happy dance when Dan and the boys took the Christmas lights down!
  • stayed home all weekend, and even sent my #2 son to the grocery store with a list so I didn't have to go out
  • took a long walk with my husband
  • prepared make-your-own pizzas for supper Saturday night
  • basically, had a very calm, relaxing weekend
  • finished reading this book, which I can't recommend enough.  If you haven't read it, go find a copy right now!


So, what'd you do this weekend? 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Fave 5

Looking back over my week, here are some favorite moments . . . .  Precious time spent with my girlfriends. . . Mary & Barbara. . . . . . A snowy evening, having a supper of baked potatoes and toppings, gathered around the kitchen table with my kids, watching them and listening to their stories of the day. . . Laughing so hard that I cried, sharing stories with my friend. . . anticipating a visit from  my friend, Pamela, later this month!! . . . Valentine's decorations.

Susanne is hosting Friday's Fave Five.  Link up over here!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Neat and simple

Organization seems to be a popular theme for bloggers at this time of the year, with everyone wanting a fresh start to the new year.  I thought I would share my system for organizing recipes and household ideas. 

I like to use 3-ring binders because they allow so much versatility.  I just spiffed up the one for my recipes and menus.  The old one was too small, so I  found larger 3-ring-binder that I already had, went through some old office supplies for dividers, and used some scrapbook paper and stickers that I already had on hand.  Cost of the project:  $0

The dividers are a mish mash of designs, but that doesn't bother me.  As long as I have a system, I can overlook it.  Besides, did I mention the materials were 'free'?
I created sections that make sense for me:  main meals, side dishes, desserts!, for my everday recipes.  I like to keep things simple.  Then, I added a section with a pocket for my coupons and blank sheets to plan a weekly menu.  Finally, there are sections for holiday recipes, and -- this one I find very useful -- menus and notes that I've used for special occasions in the past.  This way when I'm planning a special dinner, I can reference back to what I fixed last year for that particular holiday, or what I prepared the last time we had a special family or friend gathering.

I have two other binders.  One is for Home & Garden, where I keep records for my garden, such as the tags from rosebushes so I can remember what I have! and gardening tips that I cut out of magazines or the paper.  There's a section on organizational tips, gift ideas to make or buy, holiday decorating, and just general home care such as cleaning guides and maintenance tips.

Finally, the third notebook is full of decorating ideas.  I have a section for each room in the house with paint and fabric swatches of materials we've used or ideas that I want to use.  This notebook is loaded with  magazine clippings, from curtains I like to wall arrangements for family photos or plate collections, to light fixtures or flooring samples.  Will I ever use all of these ideas?  Probably not, but it's fun collecting them and I do see patterns emerging as to what styles and colors I really like.
So, that's my system.  Not terribly unique or fancy, but it works for me!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This weekend, I . . .

It was a long weekend, with MLK day yesterday, and the kids were home from school.  I got this idea of a list to recap my weekend from my friend Becky.

This weekend, I . . .

. . . did a consumer taste test for egg nog and got paid $30 for it!

. . . went for a long walk with Dan and Lilly.

. . . gave Lilly a bath (see above).

. . .went to a holiday party for Dan's work.  They always have it in January.

. . . organized a new binder for my recipes.  I'll show you how it came out in another post.

. . . went to see Dan's parents with Dan, Luke and Emily.  Had a mini, early b-day celebration for my father-in-law.

. . . received text messages from all of my brothers on Friday.  It was my mom's birthday. She would have been 78.  It was sweet to hear from all "the boys."

. . .Watched "Salt" with Dan on Pay-Per-View. 

. . .Made cinnamon rolls using this recipe.  It's our favorite!

How was your weekend?  Did you do anything fun or exciting?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Simple photo project

I've been having fun doing small projects lately.  This is one with old family photos, my favorite thing.

I took a print of Dan and his brother and sister, enlarged it and printed it in black and white.


Did the same with a print of our three kids when they were "little."


And I already had a 5x7 of me and my three brothers.

I bought some inexpensive black frames from Walm*rt.  They look so clean and fresh on this wall, which is a pale, celery green.  It looks kind of blah in the picture, but trust me, it's a beautiful shade of green:)  I love how the black and white prints makes it look rather timeless.

Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ironing board cover

I'm one of those people who enjoys ironing. 
It can be a satisfying task if you have a good iron and a well padded ironing board.  The key is in the padding. I've never been able to find a good ironing board cover that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, so I  make my own.  This one took about an hour to whip up.  I used a very old quilted cotton bed spread for the padding (two layers of it) and a very old cotton tablecloth.  I've heard that old woolen army blankets work well for the pad, too.  You want a natural fiber that will absorb the steam from the iron. 
Using the ironing board for a pattern, I cut the two pieces of quilting and the tablecloth about two inches larger. I sewed them all together into one layer. Using bias tape, I made a casing for a drawstring, just around the ends. When I put the cover on, I just had to pull the strings and tie them tightly on the underside of the board. The cover stays on nice and tight. You could do it the "right way" and use elastic, but I was using materials I had on hand and I find it easier to make a bias casing than to work with elastic.  That's just me.

I like that the cover looks old and vintage, like something my mother or grandmother would have.  

What about you, do you like to iron?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday

TGIFriday!  Even though my week doesn't involve a traditional Monday through Friday job routine, I still feel the joy of Friday, that deep sigh of relief and relaxing of the shoulders that comes with knowing I can put my feet up at the end of the day and that tomorrow will be less structured and more spontaneous.

It has been a week blessed with:

Transitioning back to normal.  The party atmosphere of the past couple weeks has wound down, but remnants linger in the air.  In my mind's eye, there are still pieces of streamers stuck to light fixtures and deflated balloons caught under the furniture.  In reality there are a couple of broken candy canes in the candy dish, a late Christmas card arrived in yesterday's mail, and the rum cake has taken hold of my hips.  The flowers have wilted on the Christmas cactus and a few holiday photo cards are stuck on the fridge.

Writing letters.  I'm taking part in the 52 Letters 52 Weeks Challenge and got off to a big start with some thank you notes for Christmas.  My handwriting is somewhat out of tune, but it felt good to have that neat little stack of envelopes, stamped and addressed, ready to send on their way.

Salads.  I'm back to healthier eating,which means salad for lunch and lots of water.  Also, my daily routine of taking Em to school and then taking the dogs to the dog park.  They romp with Bella the Great Dane and their new friend, Chloe the Boxer.  I've met a new friend, too, a nice young college gal who just moved here from Texas.

Photos. I made a small dent in the photo project that I'm taking on this year:  Organizing the past two years worth of files.  I love the digital age for the ease it provides in taking lots and lots of pictures and the ability to edit them.  However, out of sight, out of mind, and now two years worth have accumulated and only a handful have been printed and none put in scrapbooks.  I have my work cut out for me.

Honey Vanilla Chamomile Tea. Celestial Seasonings makes this yummy tea.  I'm trying to cut down on the amount of coffee I drink, and this is a delicious and satisfying substitute.

I'm linking up with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story for Friday's Fave Five.  


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year!

Just like that, another year begins.  Tomorrow, my kids will both go back to school, and the holiday will officially be over.  We welcomed the new year in frigid cold temperatures.  Emily's birthday is on New Year's Eve, so it's a double celebration.  She invited a friend and we all went out to dinner.  We had planned to go to the fireworks display downtown, but opted for something earlier in the evening.  Dan and I took the girls to the holiday lights exhibit at the Denver Zoo.  It's so beautifully done and there were plenty of hot chocolate booths set up along the way to help us stay warm.  The pathways are trimmed in lights with lighted monkeys and zebras and giraffes and all kinds of animals along the way.  Thankfully, there were a couple of indoor exhibits open so that we could go in and let our toes defrost.  I found myself sipping hot chocolate while staring into the eye of an elephant, grateful for the warmth.

Our indoor Christmas decorations are all put away, for the most part.  I did leave some white lights up on the mantel and my little angel tree is still up, too.  January and February are so dreary, I think it warms the place up a bit.  I may add some hearts to the angel tree for Valentine's Day.

With my new calendar handy, I'm eager to begin the new year.  I'm a list-maker and New Year's is the ultimate time for list making.  I write down every resolution I can think of, then pare them down to just a few. Or more. Some of my items become lists themselves, such as my book list.  Here's a sampling, in no particular order:

Helen of Troy by Margaret George
The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig
The second Fr. Tim book by Jan Karon
The Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow
Laura Bush memoirs
Decision Points by George W. Bush
Re-read Jane Eyre
The Art of Mindful Living by Thich Nhat Hanh

Another goal for this year is to take part in the 52 Letters, 52 Weeks Project.  There was a time when letter writing was such a habit that I would eagerly look forward to the mail arriving each day.  It's one of my favorite parts of Christmas, getting real mail in the mailbox!  So, I'm going to join the group over at Katy's blog, and put some fun back in the mail!  (BTW, if you'd like something besides bills in your mailbox, send me your snail mail address in an email:)

Other than melting snow and muddy gardens, there's not much else to report from Over the Backyard Fence.  Happy New Year to all!