Saturday, December 31, 2011

Functioning in Dysfunction

I like being organized. I like when things in my home function well. As my family life has changed over the years (from babies & toddlers to young people to teens and older kids).. my systems of organizing things have changed too, at least in some areas. I recently decided to give my laundry room a good cleaning. Last year I organized the pantry shelves and cleaning supplies and such. But I was still fighting with a few things in there, such as my vacuum cleaner, my Sh-mop, empty laundry baskets, etc.. it seemed I was shoving and stuffing these things and fighting with them when I needed them. That is when I realized that often times we will learn to function in dysfunction (I'm not talking about major dysfunction, just small things that can cause frustration and we don't realize it). We don’t really see the issue and we just keep working with a system that obviously does not work well… but it works enough to adapt to it or to function within the dysfunction.

My personal challenge for my home as I usher in 2012 is to start taking a better look at the way things are functioning and determine if it is working well.  Each time I am trying to accomplish something within one of my household systems I will ask myself the Dr. Phil question.. “So how’s that working for you?” ~smile~ .. and then set out to determine a better method if needed.

My first stop is my kitchen cupboards. I will post about this in the next week (hopefully.. if life goes according to my plans!! :).. I have a few areas of dysfunction that we have all learned to function in. The other day as I was getting a coffee cup it came to me that I had us all walking to the other end of the kitchen from the coffee pot to get to the cups. To change this will require changes in a few other cupboards but I think when I am done it will function much better. I will keep you updated on my progress!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our Christmas & Moving into the New Year!

We had an amazing Christmas! My kids and their spouses and grandkids began arriving at about 3 in the afternoon on Christmas Eve. I had pretty much done all the dinner cooking except for the ham in the oven and the turkey in the roaster oven were still roasting. My kids had a lot of fun just socializing, enjoying the goodies, sparkling cider and egg nog. We had dinner around 5:30 and spent the rest of the evening doing a lot of chatting and a bit of gift opening. It was very memorable for us all..

Sunday we enjoyed Christmas day with lots of relaxing and eating leftovers as I really had cooked for an army as usual. Monday with the help of my 3 youngest kids we put Christmas decorations away disassembled the Christmas tree and with a little moving and reorganizing of things in my basement we found the perfect home for the tree where it will now await the holiday season of 2012. 

On Tuesday we loaded the family in the van and headed north to Port Townsend Washington to visit Tobin’s parents. It was a great visit and my mother in law treated us to a fantastic Norwegian buffet. The family got to enjoy a taste of food from their own heritage. 

Today life went back to normal. Hubby headed off to work and the kids are enjoying time with friends during their break. 

I am very excited to have my house all in order once again and with the holiday behind me I’m looking forward to jumping into the New Year with a lot of cleaning out, purging and organizing. My basement storage area has begun to show signs of chaos from the year’s accumulation of things. I traditionally go through everything in storage each year and see how I can downsize with bags and boxes for giving and throwing things away. It is the best feeling in the world to be on top of it all and each year I look forward to this task. So January will be the month for household organizing and I plan to post my progress here on my blog. 

As for this evening, I am writing up this month’s menu and a grocery list for tomorrow’s trip to the grocery store and working on laundry.

My kids have plans for New Years Eve with their siblings and I plan to go to bed early.. or as my friend said to me today.. they are celebrating the East Coast New Year’s.. meaning celebrating it 3 hours early!! LOL.. I like that plan a lot.. ~Smile~

That’s all from the homestead for now!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Menu

My blogging has been spotty at best this month. I have been so incredibly busy.. so much to do!! Christmas gifts to finish up and wrap, orders to get out on time for my customers, school with my kids to wrap up for our break time, house work to keep on, meals to prepare, and it goes on and on.. as a friend of mine said not long ago.. “Looking for the bottom of my to-do list”… yea.. that is where I am at.. my to-do list continue to grows even as work hard each day!! But… Thank God for busy hands and a full life!!!!

I had a nice lady comment on a blog post asking me to post my Christmas Dinner menu. We are having our family Christmas on Saturday, Christmas Eve.. this leaves my grown children time to spend making memories with their own families and spending time with their spouse’s family on Christmas Day and for us to have a quiet Christmas day with the children we still have at home. I am most excited this year as it has been 6 years since all my children have been home for Christmas. Thanking God for my blessings!!


Now for my Christmas Dinner Menu

Baked Ham
Baked Turkey
Hash Brown Casserole
Sweet Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
24 Hour Fruit Salad
Layered Jello Salad
Italian Green Salad
Dinner Rolls
Fresh veggies and chips w/dip
Cookies, Fudge, Candies for dessert

My girls are baking cookies and making fudge to bring and will be bringing some of the above dishes.

Hope you all have a very merry Christmas and a blessed time with your families!


Friday, December 16, 2011

Homemade Gift Idea: Dish Towel Apron

Christmas is fast approaching! If you’re in need of a quick gift idea this dish towel apron may be just the project. It requires basic sewing skills and goes together very quickly. Using dish towels means no raw edges to think about!! :)

You will need 2 cotton dish towels that coordinate and some ½ or 1 inch twill tape.

I purchased my dish towels at Target. I got 5 in a package and the cost was $10. You will use 2 for the apron. I figured $4 an apron was pretty good (plus the cost of the twill tape, I had some on hand already). For my pack of 5 dish towels I got 2 aprons and an extra towel for my kitchen, or it could be put in a gift basket along with the apron.

You can find detailed instructions for the apron on this site: 

Lay out your towels…

Sew them together….


Use the twill tape for the neck and ties…

And you are done…


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Updates from the Homestead

This time of year seems so very busy!! My niece Megan came and spent a week with us. She lives in Chicago and was here in July and was back again to spend time with our family. She is such a sweet lady. We had a very fun week with her. My girls kept her busy between trips to town, shopping, going to the mall and making sure she touched based with all her cousins. Yesterday I took her to airport for her flight home and she is now back in Chicago.. planning her next visit to see u!! :)

My spotty blogging this month is due to not only our visit from my niece but orders to pack, gifts to prepare and wrap and still keeping the daily home life rolling along. My kids are getting their Christmas break from our homeschool starting on Monday so that will be a nice break for me too!

Tomorrow Emily and I are planning on baking a few types of cookies to put in the freezer for Christmas dinner dessert. I basically have most all my Christmas shopping done… just one more gift to buy.. but oh my, I have a lot of wrapping to do!! So that is my plan for this weekend is to wrap up the gifts and get them under the tree. Kind of shocked me to see that Christmas is a week from Sunday!! Now that my kids are older I pick random numbers for each child and don’t let them know the numbers until Christmas morning. So I put the wrapped gifts under the tree and they have numbers on them such as.. 54, 36, 75, 81, etc… and no one knows whose gift is whose!! Haa.. haa.. I put their number in their Christmas sock on Christmas morning… then they know.. ;)

That is all for now from the homestead… it’s snowing tonight, first time this year.. all I can say to that is.. 188 days till summer!! :D


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Homemade Gift Idea: Chai Tea Mix

Here is a great little drink mix that is quick to put together and makes a wonderful gift. I make a few batches of it this time of year, not just for gift giving, but also so we can enjoy it too because it is delicious!!

Here is the recipe..

Chai Tea Mix
Crystal Miller

2 ½ cups cane juice crystals or white sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups powdered milk
1 ½ cups unsweetened instant tea
2 tsp. ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp cardamom

In a small bowl combine cane juice crystal’s and vanilla and allow to dry. After it has dried out break up any clumps. In a large bowl mix all ingredients well. In a blender blend 1 cup at a time of the mix to make it a fine powder. Store in a glass jar or ziplock bag. To serve mix 2 rounded tablespoons of Chai tea mixture into a mug and add hot water. 

Enjoy often during this holiday season!

Here is how it’s made..

You first begin by making your vanilla sugar. You can purchase vanilla sugar but it is kind of spendy but oh so easy to make. Measure out your sweetener (cane juice crystal’s or sugar) and add the vanilla…

Start by mixing it with a fork but then use your hands to make sure it gets incorporated very well. Allow this to dry. I typically mix this together the evening before I make the mix and let it sit out to dry overnight..

In a large bowl combine the vanilla sugar, powdered milk, instant tea and spices…

Mix it well..

You will need a blender to mix the ingredients into a fine powder. I add 1 to 2 cups at a time and blend it finely….

Now put it into canning jars or any type of container you desire for gift giving…


Monday, December 5, 2011

Homemade Gift Idea: Super Simple Sock Rice Pad

This is a fun and super, super easy project and a very frugal gift as well!! It is making rice pads out of socks. Rice pads are great for the winter time. You can heat them up in a microwave and take them to bed with you to warm up on cold winter nights.

Here is how you make them…..

Find some cute holiday socks….

Fill them about ½ to ¾ full of rice…

Sew the end of the sock closed….

And that is it!!!!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

December Menu

1st – leftovers
2nd – lasagna, French bread, salad
3rd black bean chicken chili, chips & salsa, salad
4th – salmon patties, mac & cheese, salad
5th –  cream cheese chicken enchiladas, chips & salsa, salad
6th crockpot Hawaiian chicken, rice pilaf, salad
7th clam chowder, homemade dinner rolls, salad
8th – leftovers
9th crockpot bbq meatballs, crockpot mac & cheese, salad
10th taco soup, chips & salsa, salad
11th – chicken curry, rice, salad
12th – spaghetti, French bread, salad
13th – leftovers
14th Mongolian Beef, rice, salad
15th yummy pinto beans, muffins, salad
16th – baked chicken legs, cheesy potatoes, salad
17th beef stew, homemade dinner rolls, salad
18th – hamburger rice enchiladas, cornbread, salad
19th – leftovers
20th sausage potato chowder, French bread, salad
21st – marinated pork steak, brown rice pilaf, salad
22nd chicken cacciatore, dinner rolls, salad
23rd – Family Christmas  Dinner (still working on menu)
24th lasagna, French bread, salad
25th – leftovers, snack types foods
26th – chili, cornbread, salad
27th – kielbasa, buttered noodles, salad
28th chicken pot pie, salad
29th – meatloaf, garlic roasted potatoes, salad
30th – leftovers
31st – homemade pizza