Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Baby It's COLD Outside!

It FINALLY feels like winter here in south Texas!
We woke up this morning to a temp of 36 degrees and 25 mph winds blowing off the hay field behind our house.  
A chilly start to our day, but I love it!
It's a good day to stay inside, snuggle up on the couch, 
binge on Netflix, and drink hot cocoa all day long.


Now that my kids are older, I set up this little hot cocoa/coffee bar so that they can enjoy a cup of comfort any time of day...and now that they're older, I'm not in fear of one of them stealing the butter cookie tin and eating the whole thing behind the couch...
  I'm lookin' at YOU, John Paul Creamer!


Everything you see here came from, you guessed it, 
DOLLAR TREE.

Included in our hot cocoa bar:
Large silver serving tray
Snowman cup with peppermint sticks
Danish butter cookies
Jar of mini marshmallows
Jar of Andes Chocolate   Mints
Pepperidge Farms Pirouette
Nonni's Biscotti
A shaker of cinnamon
Torani Sugar Free Hazelnut syrup 
(NOT from Dollar Tree, but I can't drink my coffee without it!)

And because you know how much I LOVE me some Dollar Tree,
I decorated my kitchen window sill that sits right next to the hot cocoa bar:



Y'all, those cinnamon scented pinecones, my fave!

Now you’re ready to enjoy hot cocoa at any minute of the day or night with ease. Your guests will also love your set up 
and you’ll help them to feel right at home.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Fire Cider ~ The Cure to What Ails You


Fire cider is a traditional folk medicine remedy to be used during the cold and flu season.  One look at the ingredients list and you'll know this apple cider based concoction is infused with all the most potent anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory compounds around!

We take it at the first sign of sickness or exposure to illness.  
It will definitely stop it in it's tracks, or at the very least, shorten the severity and duration of a cold or flu.  
It also acts as a wonderful stomach tonic for those nasty GI bugs!


This is serious stuff though, you cannot drink it straight. 
It's called FIRE CIDER for a reason! 
We usually take 1 TBS. twice daily (for adults) 
or 1 tsp. (for children) 
in V-8 Juice or sweetened apple juice.  
Up to 3-4 times daily if illness sets in.


How to make FIRE CIDER:

In a glass jar (I use a one gallon size), combine:

1 large cut or grated horseradish root
2 heads of garlic
5 habanero or jalapeno peppers
1 large white onion
1 large ginger root
6-8 pieces turmeric root
2 lemons
several sprigs of rosemary
1/2 cup raw honey 

Cover the chopped ingredients with a raw and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar.  Cover jar opening with cheesecloth or parchment paper secured with a rubber band.  Set on counter or other cool, dry place for a minimum of two weeks or up to a month. 
 Stir the cider a couple of times a week.
When done, strain out the solid ingredients, be sure to squeeze all the liquid out of the pulp, and store the remaining liquid in the fridge.

Take as needed for:
Cold and Flu
Chest congestion
Sinus congestion
Cough
Digestive Aid
Or use daily as an immune boosting tonic.

Wishing you health and wellness this holiday season!


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Holiday Decor on the CHEAP!


If I've said it once, I've said it thirteen times, 
Dollar Tree IS WHERE IT'S AT!
  When you live in a small town where Walmart is your only big shopping option, you tend to look for variety where you can find it.  And Dollar Tree has really stepped up their game.

I have been wanting to do a Pottery Barn knock off of their white Christmas village for some time.  Just one problem, I couldn't get ANY of the Dollar Tree village houses anywhere!  
Every store I called within a 50 mile radius was sold out.  
After lamenting about my dilemma to my family (first world problems, right?), my oldest son found a line of small Christmas village houses at Walmart for under two bucks each!

**Que angels singing**


To get that Pottery Barn knock off look, spray paint the houses with chalk paint or a matte white.  It takes a good three coats to cover all the color.  When dry, you can use ModPodge and a little fine glitter to make "snow" on the houses.  
I left mine flat white.
I'm all about the instant gratification.

Now mind you, I ONLY had plans this day to paint my village.

I ended up decorating my whole dining room instead.


This entire table scape was made with Dollar Tree merch!
(Well, everything except the garland and lights,
which we already had.)



Maybe one day I'll save up a boat load of Benjamins to actually go to Pottery Barn and decorate my house for the holidays, 
but for now I have to make sure my family has food and electricity to enjoy.

So for now, I’m living life on the wild side and decorating on the cheap. It’s cool, and fun, and if you’re in the same boat with me, 
you know what I mean.

#noshameinmygame

Thursday, October 25, 2018

In Memoriam


I finally did it,
 and it only took me 49 years!

I got my first tattoo.

Bobbie Jo DeGree

I have always loved tattoos but I never got one growing up because I was raised in a very conservative household.  I never got one in early adulthood because my husband frowned upon them.

Now I am on the cusp of turning 50,
and I think it's about dang time that I decide what I want!

I have talked about getting the signatures 
of my deceased parents on my arm for years.
The day of our 25th wedding anniversary, 
Doug surprised me with a road trip.
It was full of naughty things that a 50 year old conservative Catholic mother of five definitely SHOULD NOT do!  

Our first stop was the tattoo parlor.

I got the signature of my late mother on my forearm.
Underneath is a stem of four pale pink roses.
One rose for each of the babies I've lost.

I pray every day for her and them.
And I beg God to let her be their caretaker 
until I can hold them again.

25 Years Later...


Me and this guy,
we've been married for 25 years.


Two houses
Five children born on this earth
Four children born into Heaven
Three dogs
9,125 Days

And just so you'd know,
I'd do it all again.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Fall #CreamerGarden

Fall, it truly is the best time of the year!
October is when I clean out the summer garden beds 
and begin new seedlings suited for colder weather. 

THIS is what I got when I "cleaned out" the beds:


Considering that most of our days in October have temps in the 90's, I'm not really surprised the peppers and eggplants have held on this long!


And what the remnant plants haven't taken over, 
the weeds have!



Above is an overgrowth of blue hyssop.
I planted it last year and it has beautifully self seeded into TWO of my beds.  I'll let it hang around a little while longer because the bees love it, and it makes a wonderful tea from the dried leaves that help with chest and cold congestion.


The asparagus bed looks "weedy" as well, but it's actually left that way on purpose and allowed to grow until it naturally dies back in the winter.  Those fern-like shoots are feeding the roots.  We still have another year and a half before we'll be able to harvest them.  To the left of the asparagus is turmeric.  It will get harvested this winter and be used in our cold/flu "FIRE CIDER."


And the last ones to hang on are the luffa.
They just keep growing and putting out more fruits!  I keep letting them grow for more luffa to put into homemade soaps and gifts this Christmas.  Plus they have the most beautiful yellow flowers!


The rest of the garden boxes look like this.
Small green plants peeking out from under leaf mulch.
Above is a mustard green plant, and scattered in nearby boxes are:

Bok Choi
Kale
Spinach
Salad Mix

I'm waiting for it to get a little cooler to plant broccoli, brussell sprouts, and cauliflower.
Otherwise, they just go to bolt in this warmer weather.

So please, hurry up Fall!
This girl is ready for leggings, boots,
and pumpkin spice EVERYTHING!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Dollar Tree Decor

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you'll know I'm all about the CHEAP AND EASY!
And for inexpensive household items, 
you can't do better than the Dollar Tree.


I LOVE FALL!
And even though it's still 90 degrees most days here in September and October, I can't help but want to drink all the pumpkin spice things and decorate.  So here is my favorite decorating on the cheap idea,
CHALK PAINTED PUMPKINS.



The Dollar Tree carries these day-glow orange styrofoam pumpkins.  They're totally cute as is, but they really clash with the "farm house" style of our house.

So, pumpkins, meet chalk paint.


Rust-oleum makes a wonderful line of spray chalk paints.  I've used them to paint everything from furniture to candlesticks to Mason jars.  The great thing about chalk paint is that it will stick to any surface without having to prime first!


Just poke a stick or skewer through the bottom of your pumpkin and spray away!  It takes about two to three coats to get rid of that bright orange color (let pumpkins dry 20 minutes in between coats).
Definitely buy more pumpkins than you need,
painting them is a little addicting!


And you're left with pretty little pumpkins to display all around your home.


HAPPY FALL, Y'ALL!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Pepper Relish


About six weeks ago, I did this:


Most "extra" things in my life stopped...like gardening.  
Funny thing is that no one told my garden!  It just kept producing even though no one paid attention to it.

The heat finally claimed most of it and all I have left are my pepper plants.  Those things love this Texas heat.  They show their love by giving me a weekly harvest like this:


I have to admit, I LOVE my pepper plants!  
I love hot and spicy stuff and I'm going to share my FAVORITE condiment for this time of year...

HOT PEPPER RELISH

2-3 Sweet bell peppers
10-15 Banana peppers
8-10 Jalapenos (seeds and membranes removed for less heat)
1 Large yellow onion
2 Tbs. Kosher salt
1/2 Cup apple cider vinegar
4-6 Cloves of garlic or more!

Wash, cut, and remove seeds from all your peppers.  
If you like your relish hot, leave them in the jalapenos. 
 Pulse all ingredients in your food processor and DONE! 


This is a spicy, garlicy, vinegary condiment to put on EVERYTHING, and trust me, I DO!  Feel free to adjust to your taste.  Maybe you like Serrano or habanero instead of jalapeno, maybe you like more garlic or salt, just adjust the recipe to your taste. 


You can put the relish in an airtight container for a week or two in the fridge (the vinegar keeps it from spoiling too soon) or you can can it using your preferred method.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Mommy's Time Out

Being the mother of five is EXHAUSTING!
Even with having two adult children out of the house,
 I still find myself overwhelmed with daily life.  Between working as a nurse, managing the household, homeschooling, and all the kid's activities, I find myself at the end of the day with headaches and anxiety about being able to do it all...and do it all well.

I long for a TIME OUT!


A couple of weeks ago my husband gave me this book.  It's a "do it yourself retreat" in preparation for Marian Consecration.  I initially rolled my eyes and thought to myself, I simply DO NOT have time for homework!  Just one more thing on my "To Do" list, and I actually felt crippled by the additional commitment it would take.

I should have known better.

I started my "retreat" a day late, of course.
I usually get up early, before the kids so I can get my chores done. 
But this day I made a cup of coffee, headed out to the garden, 
took a deep breath and began reading.  
I was immediately surprised at the ease of this book.  
Each day takes less than five minutes to complete and comes with a beautiful prayer to the Holy Spirit.



It felt REALLY good.
And I found myself recalling what I had read 
to give me strength through the day...
maybe it was the Holy Spirit just whispering in my ear.

I guess I thought devotional time had to be some monumental, mystical experience requiring great theological thought and contemplation. 

It's doesn't.

I think it just requires you to set aside a little time each day to read the Word of God...then to listen.



My days are still hectic and I still have anxiety about being able to do it all.  But I have learned that if I give the first part of my day to God...before I check emails, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram,
He never fails to breathe a certain peace into my heart and home.

Mommies, feel free to put yourself in a
TIME OUT
every once in a while!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Garden to Kitchen ~ Zucchini Breads

If there's one thing I can grow, it's zucchini!
It's actually a no brainer and will grow itself.  Once the plants start producing, you'll have zucchini coming out of your ears in no time.  One day they're little two inch stubs and the next day they're the size of baseball bats.  I'll never understand how they grow so fast! 


 If you get "baseball bats" in your garden, 
I have the perfect solution for you.  
Make zucchini bread!
I make this all summer long and the kids never get tired of it. 
 It's a dangerous thing, though.  
I've been known to eat an entire loaf by myself.


LEMON ZUCCHINI BREAD:

2 cups all purpose flour 
2 tsp baking powder 
½ tsp salt 
2 eggs 
½ cup canola oil 
⅔ cup sugar 
½ cup buttermilk 
2 TBS lemon juice 
zest of 1 lemon 
1 cup grated zucchini 
Lemon Glaze: 1 cup powdered sugar and juice from 1 lemon

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine all the wet ingredients.
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry.
Spray or butter a loaf pan and fill with batter.
Bake at 350 for 55 minutes.
While still warm, pour lemon glaze over loaf.


CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD:

1 and 1/2 cups shredded zucchini 
1 cup all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
3/4 teaspoon baking soda 
1/4 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon instant coffee  
3/4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
2 large eggs 
1/4 cup vegetable oil 
1 small container plain Greek yogurt 
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Same song, second verse...
Combine the wet, combine the dry.
Mix together and put into greased loaf pan.
Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes.

And here's a little tip about making these breads...
MAKE TWO LOAVES!
(Trust me, one will be devoured right out of the oven)

Enjoy!

 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Five Minute Fake Out Salsa

From the second my tomato plants go into the garden, the boys are wanting to know when we'll have fresh tomatoes for salsa.  They don't understand it takes time to grow the perfect tomatoes.  So when I get tired of them nagging me, I use this fake out to tide them over until my garden is ready.

This is my Five Minute Fake Out Salsa:


For this quick salsa you'll need:

1 - 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
2 cans of diced tomatoes with onion and chiles (Rotel)
1-2 jalapenos
1-2 limes
onion
garlic
a handful of cilantro
salt to taste and 1 TBS cumin
 plus any other spices you like, sometimes
I'll add chili powder and red pepper flakes.


For this recipe, canned tomatoes taste best.  
Start by putting the whole tomatoes in your food processor with a handful of cilantro, lime juice, and garlic.  Pulse to your desired consistency and empty into a bowl.  Next, add your Rotel tomatoes, half an onion, spices, and peppers to the processor.  Pulse again and add to the previous mixture.  Stir to combine and season again to taste.
A note regarding peppers:  
For the basic recipe, two jalapenos are good.  I remove the seeds and membranes from one and add the other one whole.  It gives just the right kick for us.  In the pic above, I had some banana peppers from the garden that I added.  
Any peppers you like will do!


Cover and refrigerate for an hour to let the flavors marry.
The longer it sits, the better it tastes!

 

Grab your favorite chips and enjoy!

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Scoop on Poop

When you have raised beds in the garden, you MUST feed them regularly.  I used up all my compost making new beds this season so I though manure would be the way to fortify my soil.
There is a wonderful place down the road from us,
I called and the owner let us have all the poop we could scoop
FOR FREE.
(and 'free' is music to my ears!)

Is there anything sexier than a man hauling rabbit poop?
I don't think so!!!


Rabbit manure is a nutrient rich way to help your garden 
grow and thrive.
Unlike other manures, which have to be well composted before you can even think of using it in your garden, rabbit poop can be immediately applied to your soil. As the rabbit manure decomposes, it helps build up the structure of the soil, and injects valuable nutrients and organisms into your garden that will promote strong, speedy plant growth. 
 Rabbit manure, in particular, is rich in potassium, nitrogen, zinc, and calcium, and it’s one of the most nitrogen-rich manures out there – so you’ll get lush, green, well fertilized growth. 
...and did I mention it was FREE?


This girl doesn't need gifts of flowers, candies, or jewelry!
Just fetch me a truckload of rabbit poop for the garden
and I'm swoooooning!