Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Home is . . .so many things

Today I am linking up to Sandy's Home is . . . Party over on Reluctant Entertainer. Her theme for this week is scent. There are so many scents to me that mean home, every season I have a new scented candle that reflects what that season means to me. Spring usually means lilacs to me. My grandparents lived across the street from my school and they had a whole hedge of lilacs for us to pick from. Also, the smell of baking bread invokes Grandma's house. It is a new scent in my home as well. Yesterday, was the first day I had ever made homemade bread. I made it again today. Eight loaves total. Some have been given as gifts. Some have been used for sandwiches and french toast. Home is baked bread.
Home is the smell of fresh cookies, like the ones I am making at this moment for our church's Resurrection Celebration this afternoon. I am in charge of helping 40+ children decorate their "Easter Eggs." I remember getting off the bus and opening the door to the aroma of chocolate chip cookies or any other variety that Mom would have waiting for us. I don't do that as much as I should for my own dear children. Something I am working on rectifying.
Home is chocolate cake. The cake of choice for birthdays or other celebrations for many members of the family. This particular cake is being sent to feed the youth group this evening.

Home is also the smell of a clean kitchen or bathroom. Home is the scent of fresh clothes right from the dryer still smelling of April flowers and warm to the touch. Home is the clean scent of a freshly bathed child snuggled onto your lap. Home is my husband's cologne because home is where he is. But, I think most of all the scent of home is whatever is cooking in the kitchen, because not only does it fill my home with the scent of love, but it can be given away so that we can share our home with others.

**Oh, and normally I do not do this much baking. This just happened to be one of those days when everything happens at once. Know what I mean? So, please take some time and check out the other 'scents' at Reluctant Entertainer.
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Our Kitchen: Closer to complete

Being married to a carpenter has many perks and today I am showcasing one of them. The above picture was my Valentine's present. There is a story behind almost every piece in our kitchen. We have been blessed over and over through out our married life and this one room is home to several of our blessings. The copper hood above, as well as the stove top and cabinets that house the stove top were given to us by a friend of my dad's when she remodeled her kitchen. We used quite a bit of elbow grease to clean the hood and Dear Hubby had to cut it down to fit the space we had. Also, the tile back splash was a find. In one of our recent homes, we found several boxes of these ceramic tiles. I am not sure what era they are from, but they were made in Italy! It took me awhile to warm up to them, but I love them now. I came home after a weekend spiritual retreat to find all of the tile up. I have an amazing husband.
The same lady that gave us the stove top and hood also gave us the refrigerator and slab of butcher block, oh, and also the drawer cabinet with pulls. DH continued the tile around below the cabinets and window to the fridge. He also finished evened out the butcher block that is now attached to an antique wash stand we inherited from my mom.
The dishwasher was given to us by my in-laws, they had updated their kitchen recently and I love having a dishwasher now! DH put in new flooring and counter-tops and sink. I did all of the painting of cabinets and walls with the help of my mother-in-law. I still have some painting to finish and some matching door handles to find, but I am one content lady.
Finally, the cabinetry and wall oven were also a gift from the friend of my dad's. I dream of adding another oven someday, but for now a microwave spot will do. DH is planning to trim out around my microwave so it looks like it belongs until I find an oven. As you can tell, some pictures are a little older than the first one. When you are the ones doing the work, it takes time, but it is so worth it.

I am so thankful for the many ways the Lord has blessed me, mostly for my family and friends, but also for my kitchen. :)

Today, I am linking up to Best DIY projects of March. Please go check out the incredible DIY projects shown there. There are so many talented people in this blog-world!
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Friday, March 26, 2010

Princess Grace's 9th Birthday Part 2

For some reason I can't add more than five pictures to a post, but maybe that is normal. I did want to share a few more pictures from the party. The girls had a great time, being girls. They came all the way here from Down Under, or so they said, and they had the accents to prove it! They danced, they sang, they posed, they painted finger nails, and got all dressed up. They grow up way too fast!!!

Princess Grace's 9th Birthday Part 1

Today's party was a last minute thing, we just didn't know if it was going to work for us this weekend. It really came together in a short amount of time. I was really proud of myself for keeping the cost to a minimum. I only spent $1.75 per girl for party favors which consisted of a card game, a feather boa, a necklace and two bracelets. Not, too shabby, if you ask me!
I used quite a few things from around the house to pull it together and the paper plates only cost $1.
Once again, my cake got a little top heavy, but it tasted great. The strawberries were filled with a cheesecake filling and then, of course dipped in chocolate.
I made ham sandwiches cut in the shape of stars and tortilla rolls to balance out the sweets. I cut up strawberries and a few lemon slices to add to ice water. Everything was fit for the princesses that attended. They even sipped on Shirley Temples.
Here are those wonderful princesses, at least I think ... maybe... I'm not too sure :)

Today, I am linking up to Tidy Mom's I'm Lovin' It Party. It's a party day, the sun is out and life is good!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

And, the winner is . . .

Thank you to all of you that participated in my first give-away. I am happy to announce that the winner is Bridget from Bake at 350. Congratulations, Bridget! I hope you enjoy your new scone pan.

Our Take on Homemade Pizza

BBQ Chicken with Banana Peppers
Pepperoni with Green Olives and Roasted Garlic Alfredo Sauce

These two examples of our homemade pizza were incredibly tasty, but they are not our favorite form of homemade pizza. The family favorite is Bacon Cheeseburger. Our Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza consists of a garlic Alfredo/mustard sauce, hamburger, pieces of bacon, diced pickles, Roma tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and several types of cheese. But, since it is sorta a family secret I can't tell you specifics, so I have given you the list of ingredients to play with and make your own. I promise you will not be disappointed. I AM going to share with you the recipe for the pizza dough, you will be able to create all kinds of pizza, bread sticks, Stromboli, and whatever else your little heart imagines. That is what I love about cooking, it is your imagination and creativity that takes something from good to unforgettable! Please use this recipe and imagine away and please share with me what you have done!

Pizza Dough

1 TBSP honey
1 TBSP yeast
1 cup warm water
1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups flour
1 tsp kosher salt

Combine warm water, yeast and honey in a small bowl and allow yeast to rise. (I find that water that matches the temperature of my wrist, maybe slightly warmer, has not failed me when coaxing yeast to rise.) Once yeast mixture has doubled in size add it to the flour, salt and EVOO. I use my stand mixer fixed with a dough hook. Mix (if dough is too sticky add a little flour; if too dry a little water) until dough clings to the hook and there is no dough on the sides of the mixing bowl. Pull dough off hook and set bowl aside with a damp towel over the top, to let rise. Once it has doubled in size, punch the middle of the dough down and let rise again. This recipe will make two decent sized thin crust pizzas or several individual sized pizzas, your choice. Shape into pizzas either by rolling dough out or shaping with your hands, depends on the thickness of the crust desired. We top with the ingredients of our choice and bake in a 500 degree oven for about 10 minutes.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

My First Give-Away

I have been sharing with you lately about hosting foreign exchange students. This next school year we will be hosting a girl from Switzerland. She will be sharing a room with our daughter, so we are using this time to consider redoing her room. This summer my husband is planning on building her bunk beds and a really neat desk area. So we have been looking at kids bedding that will appeal to a nine year old and a 16/17 year old.
These are some of the bedding sets that stood out to me. What do you think? Gracie's room is painted sour apple green, and it hasn't even been a year since we painted so I am not looking to paint again. She is even willing to use her birthday money for her new bedding. Her words were, " I think bedding would be a better choice than toys for my birthday. Don't you agree, Mom?" I can't argue with her on that one!
Have you ever considered hosting a foreign exchange student? You don't need to redo a room to do it. We have been working on her brothers' room and she wanted to know what we were going to do in her room. This is giving us the incentive to make it happen sooner rather than later. If you would like more information on hosting please visit EF Foundation for Foreign Study, they are a great company and they have doing this since 1979.
Now, for my first give-away. In this post I shared our new tradition of showcasing food from another country or region once a month. I am excited to offer you the opportunity to win the above Nordicware scone pan, so you can take a 'trip' to the British Isles and have some high tea with scones and clotted cream right in your very own home. Or how about some Texas chili with jalapeno cornbread. Either one sounds good to me. All you need to do is visit this site and share with me something you fell in love with. You can receive another entry for tweeting about this give-away. Or you can become a follower of my blog for another entry. And finally, if you visit the EF Foundation site and let me know you can receive another entry. Just be sure to let me know what you've done by commenting below. Good luck! And thank you to for sponsoring this give-away.

The contest will end Tuesday evening, March 23.

**Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation for hosting this give-away. Also, even though I am a representative for EF Foundation for Foreign Study, I do not receive monetary compensation for referrals. The opinions stated above are my own.
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thai Night @ Our Home

When you live in a very rural setting anytime you can experience a new cuisine, it is going to be a great time. We just don't have the opportunity to try new things unless we do it ourselves. So when our young friend, Prem, who I introduced you to here, wanted to share some food from his homeland we jumped at the opportunity. It began a new tradition in our home, one Saturday a month we are going to serve something authentic from another country or region and invite several couples we haven't yet had in our home. Next month it will be Spain, I think, and our young friend from Spain will share some food from her country with us. As with Prem, we will let her choose who the guests will be.
I have to admit, I fed my children mac & cheese before everyone came over because I knew spicy Thai would not be something they would enjoy. They gladly complied and after they finished their supper went to the boys' room to watch a movie and fell asleep.
Our young friends came over in the morning and we made sure we had everything we needed and went to the store to find what I didn't have. Another thing about living in very rural America, rural as in 2 1/2 hours from the closest Walmart, you do have to plan ahead some, because many times ethnic things are not available in the local grocery. Thankfully, we have a great friend who runs one of the grocery stores and he does his best to order in special items. Well, back to our day, when we finished our shopping we took a break before we went to work since we discovered that most of the five items they would prepare did not take much time. I enjoyed having a kitchen full of chopping, slicing, washing, cooking activity when I just needed to provide a small amount of guidance from time to time.
It was a wonderful memory maker for me as well as our guests. Laughter was in great supply as many people kept their chapstick close by to cool the burn and my eldest was ready in the kitchen to bring milk or bread for anyone who thought the heat was too much. Thankfully, it wasn't needed. We did have a lot of spice and heat and some took VERY small portions of meat and large portions of rice, but every person there enjoyed everything they tried and they tried it all.

Here is the menu for the evening:
  • Tom Yum Soup, a spicy shrimp soup
  • Laab, a spicy ground chicken served on rice
  • Chicken Pad Thai, pictured above
  • Pad Prik Khging, a spicy chicken and green bean served on rice
  • Tom Ka, a coconut/chicken soup

We had a wonderful time and enjoyed great food prepared by some great kids. If you love to have people in your home, please consider hosting a foreign exchange student for a school year. It is a wonderful experience for all involved. EF Foundation for Foreign Study is a great company to contact, they have been placing exchange students in homes since 1979.

I also want to let you know that I am going to be doing my first give-away so please check back in the next couple of days for an opportunity to win something for your kitchen.
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