Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Food For My Work Day

Good Tuesday Morning to you!

You would think that I would make myself a cute little lunch bag, but just never seem to get around to it. So, this is what my food bag for an average work day looks like. The sandwich box contains a turkey on whole wheat bread with light mayo. One half of the can of peaches is for an afternoon snack. The cheese grits are for a quick microwave breakfast that I eat at my desk while getting everything going for the day.

I took this bag of food to work yesterday. I guess its my age, but I forgot about the peaches and had a mid afternoon snack attack. I ended up eating a pack of nabs. If you live around here you will know that is a package of Lance brand square cheese crackers with peanut butter in them. It has to be Lance brand, although I'm sure the nickname "nabs" came from the brand name Nabisco. Sometimes they are called "square nabs", even though they don't come in any other shape.



Oh well, today I will try to stay away from the nabs!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Weekend Update

1. Mailbox

I love rural mailboxes. Ours doesn't have that "old" feel too it, since its made from plastic, but here are some pictures of it. I'm trying to grow some plants at the base, but they aren't too big yet.

When I was out there taking these pictures, I couldn't help thinking about that movie called "Signs". Remember the aliens in the cornfield? Well, so far I haven't seen any aliens.





In this one some farmers were "burning off" their hay field.



2. Lizard. Bet you weren't expecting that! There's a lizard in my house. My step son first saw him last week sitting on the back of the love seat. Then I saw him Saturday scurrying through the kitchen.

Then yesterday I saw him sitting in the middle of the living room floor, twice. The first time he ran under the love seat and disappeared. The second time I grabbed a bucket and put it on top of him. I had to leave the house and so I put a sign on it that said "Lizard" so my guys could help get him out of the house. Well.... he got away during the process and is still in here..... somewhere.... (checking area around toes).

3. Baby Shower. I was invited to a baby shower for a neighbor's new baby grandson. Saturday afternoon I made a quick baby quilt and a set of 3 burp cloths, but forgot to take pictures. For the quilt to be quick, I used a whole cloth top with had cute cars all over it. The backing was a bright yellow checked and the binding was dark blue with little white stars. I already had all the fabrics on hand and machine quilted it. It turned out pretty cute. The burp cloths were made from camo-frogs and some monkey flannel. I trimmed them with ric-rack. They were really cute too.

4. Busy! Its such a busy time at our house this time of year.

Hope you had a nice weekend. Ours was busy, but still nice.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Slice of My Life


Wow, its turning out to be such a busy week. I've hardly got time to type a post, much less think of a topic.

Anyway, here's what's going on this week.

1. Diet and Exercise. I'm back on the wagon. One of my mottoes for the moment is "move more, eat less". I need to go for my annual doctor's check up, and don't want to be told to lose weight. I'd rather do it before I go, so I've decided to try to eat more nutritiously, try to eat breakfast and just move more. I'm not usually a breakfast eater and research definitely shows that people who eat breakfast are able to lose weight more easily. I'm not hungry until mid morning, so this week I took instant cheese grits to work with me to make in the office microwave. Two packs of grits are 200 calories and when eaten about 9:00 A.M. seem to satisfy my appetite so that when lunch time comes I'm not starving. Then I can get by with something light. A fat free yogurt for a mid afternoon snack holds me over to supper time. Then I try to eat a balanced meal in moderation. The key word is "try". :o) I did see a 2 pound weight loss on the scale this morning which is encouraging. But, I know that if I don't keep working on this, it'll come right back!

2. Walking. I have been walking on the treadmill for 15 or 20 minutes in the morning before work and even though its pretty hot, I've been able to walk about 20 minutes during my lunch break at work. The weather this week hasn't been too hot at noon time, usually about 82 or 83. It gets up into the 90s before the day is over though. If I check the temperature on the computer for my area and its already approaching 90at noon, I just won't go!

3. Pedometer. My friend gave me a pedometer that she got for free from her insurance company. Yesterday I walked over 8,000 steps which I was pleased with! It is recommended that you walk 10,000 steps a day which is about 5 miles. I'm not sure I can get that many steps in without being totally exhausted, since last night I was pretty fatigued with walking 8,000 steps.

4. Cakes. No cakes this week. My future step-son-in-law's birthday is July 4th, but I won't see him since he will be at the beach. And since we are trying to lose weight at our house (perpetually!), I really shouldn't be making so many cakes anyway..... (sigh). We have another family reunion to attend in July, so I am planning to make some sort of cake for that. I'm thinking a chocolate pound cake with some decorations on it, since that is one of hubby's favorites.

5. veggies. We are getting fresh squash and green beans from the garden daily now. Yum! Cooked the right way, these are great for eating on a nutritious diet. I can pretty much have all the green beans I want. If only we could grow spaghetti, pizza and hamburgers in the garden!

6. Feed your soul. Another motto of mine lately is "feed your soul". Its hard for us women sometimes to take time for ourselves. Its important for our emotional health to do something every day that helps us calm down and just "be". In fact my doctor recommended that I just "be" at my last check up a year ago. If the doctor orders it, I have to do it, right? I'm constantly doing something or planning to do something. How can I just "be"? Here are some ways:

..... no plans at lunch. No errands, just eat lunch or take a walk just because I enjoy it.

...... spend time in my flowers. Watering, pulling weeds, dead heading. Early in the morning is best.

....... read a book. Bible reading is best, of course. Wouldn't it be nice to spend an afternoon reading a good book? When's the last time anyone had time to do that?

....... Sit on the porch and watch the world go by.

....... Sewing or other hobby. What do you enjoy doing that you lose track of time while doing? What did you enjoy doing as a child?

....... Shopping. No, I'm not talking about having a spending spree! This is a frugal blog after all. But, I'm always in a hurry when I go shopping. Its either at lunch time at work or after work. I'm always rushing around. Wouldn't it be nice to just go browsing around in stores at your leisure? I am badly in need of some new summer clothes. I am so tired of staring into the abyss every morning trying to find something to wear. Today I think I will have some retail therapy and just "be" at a store somewhere. Don't know how or when, but maybe.....

Remember, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself.

I will leave you with this Bible verse. I like both these translations of Psalms 139, verse 3:

"My Journeys and my rest you scrutinize, with all my ways you are familiar" or

"You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways". Wow! God scrutinizes my rest.... Think about that.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Blooming Tuesday - and a Search and Find

Today is Blooming Tuesday at Mrs. Green Thumb Jean's blog.

Here are some close ups of some my blooms.

Three of the pictures contain something unusual. Can you find them?

White Hibiscus:



Daylilly:



Impatiens with the last spiderwort flower of the spring poking its head up:



Orange Zinnia:



Lots of Zinnias!



Straight neck yellow squash blooms:



Miniature Rose Bush:



Newly potted Moss Rose:




Clematis Vine:



These three pictures are repeats from Saturday's post, but I really like them, so here they are again. Can you see how tall the farmer's corn is across the road from my house?







I'll update later today with the answers for the unusual items. :o)

*********** Most of you were right: There is a toe, a chicken and a "Dream" rock. Thanks!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day Cake

Here's my fourth cake for June, 2009!





Here is the cake before I decorated it. I put it in the freezer for about an hour to reduce crumbing.



The cake in progress:



Have a great day!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

This is my newest birthday cake. I decided to put the birthday girl's initials on there. The flower and the initials were made using stencils and colored sugar.



This cake is far... really far from being of professional quality. But, I have learned a few things. 1. How to slice off the rounded top part of the layers to make the cakes lay flat. 2. The frosting needs to be stiffer for the shell borders to look their best. 3. How to use a hot knife to smooth out the frosting.

Yes, I am learning from my mistakes!

This is a cake carrier my stepdaughter gave me for Christmas. She is the same person whose birthday is tomorrow. Isn't' it cute?



I tried to make the little packages shown in yesterday's post. Not... too... good.



More practice with the shell borders:



Saturday I will make a Father's Day cake.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Whatcha Working On Wednesday - Novelty Cakes




Its time to make the next birthday cake I planned to make in June. This one is for my step-daughter who will be 29 Friday. I have already made my cake layers this morning and they are cooling on the counter. I will leave them loosely covered while I am at work today and tonight I hope to create something like one of the above cakes, which were in a Betty Crocker Cake Decorating Book that I got from the library.

The cake on the left has simple piping around the bottom and top edge, which I can do "fairly well". The little packages are fruit chews with little piped strings and bows. It is very cute and I think would be easy.

The second cake uses a stencil and different colored sugars to make pretty flowers. I already have some blue sugar from a previous cake, so this might be an option.

Today at lunch I plan to go to Walmart to purchase either a stencil and colored sugar, or a package of fruit chews. Then tonight I will decorate the cake. Hopefully it will turn out like one of these!

So what are you working on today? Go to Leslie's blog, MY COUNTRY HOME, to see more of what's going on in other women's homes.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Multi-Tasking Ideas

Do you have certain projects or jobs that you do over and over? I have been brainstorming for blog post ideas about multi-tasking and how to create a check list for handling several things at once. We, especially women, are always handling several projects at the same time. Wouldn't it be nice to concentrate on one thing at a time once in a while? :o)

Some ideas:

1. Identify jobs that are easily done at the same time and plan to do those together. I often do laundry while doing other things in the vicinity of the laundry room. These include sewing, cooking or cleaning. But, I just leap into this daily without planning the best outcome. On your to do list you could have double activity items such as: 1. While the pork chops are frying, I will gather up a load of clothes and start the washing machine; 2. Today when I take a shower, I will clean the tub and shower before leaving the area; 3. While dinner is cooking I will pay this week's bills;4. while talking to my Mom on the phone, I will straighten the junk drawer.

These are things we do anyway, but planning them ahead of time will make the best use of the time.

2. Make a multi-use check list. On my job there are certain projects that I do regularly and I created a check list that has helped me immensely. This saves me not only time, but insures that I don't forget anything. I put everything that could possibly need to be done on the check list with two lines beside each one for checking off. One is labeled "Need" and the other one is labeled "Done".

When I first start a file for a project, I go through and check off all the items that will "need" to be done. Then as they are done I check them off as "done". Can you tell that I've forgotten key items in the past? :o) With this check list, I will never again forget to do a vital item for a project. Also, at a glance I can see what I need to get done.

I keep a few of these "blank" check lists in my desk drawer for easy access when I start a project.

So why wouldn't this work in the homemaking areas of our lives? One idea would to have a weekly checklist with everything that could possibly need to be done on there. At the beginning of the week I could check off all the items that "need" to be done and then check them off after they are "done". Especially important would be to put items on there that are time sensitive, such as paying bills or medical appointments. I could leave some blanks at the bottom to write in any unusual items that only come up rarely. If it doesn't need to be done that week, just don't check it off as needing to be done.

It would be beneficial to keep a few of these completed sheets to see where our time is being spent. But, after the initial trial period, the master list could be placed inside a plastic sleeve and the check marks could be made with a dry erase type marker.

3. Identify your most important tasks to be able to spend more time on them. Are we spending lots of time on unimportant or useless tasks? Eliminate and concentrate! If training your children is your most important task, then these kinds of items should go on your weekly check list. If an item you are regularly doing is of no value to you, then eliminate it, or reduce it, if that's not possible.

Example: While dusting the house is important, I won't spend time on it every single day. Its not going to be important ten years from now whether or not there was a little dust on the furniture! It can't be eliminated from my check list, but it can be reduced to a lower priority for a time if there are more important items to be done.

4. Be sure to schedule items on the master check list that feed your soul. We all have different things we need to do to preserve our sanity. This changes with the seasons of our life and the seasons of the year.




Right now I "need" to work in the flowers in my yard. It feeds my soul to walk around the yard early in the morning, watering a plant here and there, pulling a weed here and there and just simply to "be". Someone once said, "There's nowhere that you can be closer to God than in the garden". And don't forget the old hymn, "In the Garden". "He walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me I am His own."

What feeds your soul at this season of your life? Plan for it!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fresh Vegetables!

These are our first Snap Beans picked from the raised bed garden. We have only a few plants grown in the square foot gardening style, and this is our first "mess" of beans for this summer. We only picked the ones that were big enough, so there are already more that will need picking this week. There are also more beans that were planted in successive plantings in another bed, so there will be beans to eat over a period of time.



I enjoy having just enough vegetables in the garden to eat fresh all along during the summer.

We had a wonderful "fresh vegetables" meal yesterday and it was so good! Here is what the menu looked like:

Snap beans cooked with ham bits
Cabbage cooked with ham bits
Squash Casserole
Cucumbers peeled and sliced, in vinegar
BBQed pork chops
Zucchini Bread

Yum, Yum, get you some!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Old Fashioned Flower Arrangements

I love the way our reunion Flower Arrangements turned out! I'm an old fashioned, country kind of girl, and the mason jars, raffia and home grown flowers are just my style.

Buckets of blooms:





Arranging the flowers:



The finished products:




Friday, June 12, 2009

Show and Tell Friday - Signs of Love

I was looking around for something to share with you for SHOW AND TELL FRIDAY at Kelli's House, when I noticed these three items in my bedroom with the word "Love" on them.

This is actually a music box which plays "Love Makes the World Go Round", but the words on the front are the scripture verses read at my wedding. My hubby gave me this. :o)



This is a small cross stitch I did years ago. The crucifix was given to me by my son. It was made in the Holy Land.



I recently bought this at a yard sale. I couldn't resist! I plan to hang it over our bed.



Yes, Love is patient and kind, Love bears all things..... and Jesus loves you!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Its a month of birthdays at my house! Today is my hubby's and I'd like to wish him a very happy birthday!

I had plans for a very pretty "professional" cake, but with a combination of a lack of time and experience, this is what I ended up with! Please don't laugh... I did put a lot of love into it!



I wanted to make my NC State fan an NC State Cake! These are links to the kinds of cakes I dreamed of making:

Here

Here

and Here.

Oh, well, Next time.

The hardest thing was that the icing wouldn't get red enough, no matter how much red food coloring I put into it. Then the Tupperware cake container doesn't allow enough room on the bottom sides to pipe a shell border. I'm still learning, that's sure!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reunion Flowers

We're having a family reunion Saturday for my mother's family. There are only three of the original 11 brothers and sisters living. My mother and one brother live near here and the remaining sister lives in Illinois. Of course there are cousins living all over the United States, but we do expect about 85 people, maybe more. The reunion will be held at my church, which is the church the original 11 children attended while growing up.

My sister and I are in charge of setting up tables and decorating, etc. Our plan was to use fresh cut flowers from my yard. To give the tables an old fashioned feel, we planned to put the flowers in Mason Jars and to tie raffia around them.

I'm feeling a little worried about the flowers in my yard being enough for this purpose. If we had a couple more weeks, there'd be plenty I think. And to top it all off last night we had wind and rain which blew my Zinnias over!

Anyway here are some of the flowers that I'll be working with. My sister will buy greenery to go with them. She's the flower arranger, not me! I'm the grower...

The Zinnias:





Some Daisies:



The Day Lillies are probably too big, but I have plenty!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Only Plant Zucchini If You Have Lots of Friends.....



I've heard it said that you should only plant zucchini if you have lots of friends.... so my friends have started sharing their bounty already this summer!

There are only so many ways to cook them and I have already sauteed them, breaded and fried them. There are also squash casserole recipes to be used. I Googled Zucchini Bread Recipes and came up with the following, which I have tweaked to make my own. The taste reminds me of banana bread. It is wonderful heated in the microwave with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Zucchini Bread Recipe

Makes 2 loaves.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla flavoring
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans, etc.)

1. Grease and flour two 8 x 4 or 9 x 4 inch pans, preheat oven to 325 degrees

2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon together in a bowl.

3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla and sugars together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.

4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pans and completely cool.

We had a bumper crop of pecans this past winter and so we have a good supply of them in our freezer. I cracked and picked out enough for this recipe in just a few minutes.

The zucchini grate very easily just using a hand held grater that I have had for years. The batter may seem a little dry to you, but after you add the zucchini and any liquid that comes out when you grate them, it is very moist. The final product is very moist and tasty! This bread is great while still warm and freezes well for a future treat.

How do you use zucchini at your house?

Monday, June 8, 2009

All's Well That Ends Well!

The rest of the story.......






Thanks to all the commenters on the previous post. I appreciate all the encouragement and helpful tips! I need all the help I can get!

On to Cake Number Two.

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