Monday, August 31, 2009

Our weekend DIY project

Would 'ya look at that!
Only three days out of the ICU and he's painting walls!

Due to a little "artistic license" from Danny and the neighbor kid, we HAD to repaint the walls of JP & Danny's room. The yellow was cute but always reminded me of a nursery, so we decided to go with a big boy blue.

I wish I had taken a 'before' picture!

I found some lovely upholstery fabric at Walmart for two bucks a yard.
Added a little matching ribbon with hot glue....and PRESTO!
A no-sew window treatment for under $12!

A little rearranging of furniture and they boys think they have a whole new room!

You won't find this design in the pages of 'Good Housekeeping' or 'Southern Living'...

...but it's home for us, and there's no place we'd rather be!

Menu Plan Monday

Good thing I didn't do too much planning last week! It would have all gone to hell in a handbasket anyway due to our medical emergency. This week I am back on track with easy make ahead meals that require little prep work for me, and even less for Doug (who's home with the kids all day AND running a business!). This week is my short week, just three 12-hour shifts!

Monday: Beef Stroganoff. I will throw all of this into the crockpot before going to work to cook low and slow all day. No "cream of crap" soup for us, just organic stock, raw cream, and flour. Will also substitute fresh mushrooms. Just before dinner, Doug can mix in the sour cream and boil some egg noodles. Will serve with green beans from our summer garden.

Tuesday: Roasted Chicken. I will clean and season two whole roasters before going to work so that all Doug has to do is pop them in the oven about an hour before dinner. Will serve with wild rice cooked in organic stock.

Wednesday: Taco night! Will cook grass fed beef, season it, and store in the freezer during the weekend as well as prepare the soft wraps. All Doug has to do is heat up and serve with fixings.

Thursday: Chicken Caesar Wraps. Will use left over chicken from Tuesday and make some homemade spinach wraps. Serve with fresh fruit.

Friday: Veggie Pizza. Homemade dough topped with thinly sliced zucchini, pepperochini, and mozzarella cheese.

Saturday: From the grill. Doug will surely want to get his grill on by the weekend...I'm happy to let him do it! Will probably pre-cook some meats and veggies for next week's plan.

Sunday: Spinach Quiche and fresh fruit.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Planning for the Fall

I will be spending a portion of this weekend planning and planting some of our fall/winter garden. Some seeds like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, and broccoli do better when started indoors first (just my humble opinion!) If I can time it just right, I'll be ready to plant my seedlings into the garden mid-October just as the weather starts to cool off significantly.

In addition to the above mentioned, on the menu for the fall garden:
swiss chard - 2 varieties
sweet peas
sugar snap peas
green onions
green onion
lettuce - 4 varieties

I cannot tell you how nice it was to clip fresh salad greens from the garden last winter! I've GOT to find a heat resistant variety to grow during the summer when we have lots of cukes and tomatoes.
I'll be freezing much of what the garden produces to eat during the spring and summer.
I really love winter gardening here in south Texas. The winter is very mild and if a rare freeze is forecast, we just cover everything up with hay! Best of all....NO WEEDING and NO BUGS!
Fall gardens down south can take a lot of neglect, which is right up my alley right now between working and family!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Story and update on Doug for all our friends and family not on Facebook....
I'm sorry I didn't call anyone, but I'm sure you can understand how overwhelming things have been. I'm relaying everything here so I can say it once! The past 24 hours have been a blur, but here's the lowdown:

Doug got up yesterday with a really rapid heart beat. He called me at work but I just kinda brushed him off (that ought to get me the Wife of the Year award, right?). He calls me back about an hour later and says he thinks he needs to go to the ER. I meet him down there and right away he doesn't look good. He was pale and shaking. After we check in and he is triaged, they put him on the cardiac monitor. His heart rate was 170-180's! The doctor was quick to assess him and they drew blood work, started an IV and gave him a cardiac med called Cardizem. It didn't work right away so they put him on a drip of it. They also started him on a drug called Digoxin. A couple of hours later he was still in atrial fibrillation and they decided to move him to ICU.
Doug's parent's were at the hospital by this time and I took the opportunity to check on the kids. Of course they were sick with worry! I sat down with the lot of them and explained everything best I could. We cried and hugged and cried some more. We prayed as a family. I packed up some essentials, called in a pizza order for the boys, picked up dinner for Doug and headed back to the hospital. By the time I got back, Doug was in ICU and settled. They let him eat dinner but said he couldn't have anything by mouth after midnight. They were thinking they might have to cardiovert him in the morning. Cardioversion is a process where they put you to sleep in the operating room, stop your heart, and then restart it with a series of shocks.

I don't have to tell you what Doug or I was feeling about THAT!

Doug's parents very graciously picked up the little ones and took them to their home. Ry and Ky stayed home to "man the fort". They prayed and prayed as well. And as the prayers of children are so pure and innocent...God heard them, and I believe it was during this hour Doug was healed.
He and I were holding hands and watching TV around 7pm. I looked at the monitor and his heart rate was in the 80's. Five minutes later it was still in the 80's, and twenty minutes after THAT it was STILL in the 80's! Doug's nurse came in with a big grin and I asked if he was "cured". She said yes, it did look like he had coverted on his own! She slowed down his drip and called for an EKG. A little while later, the drip was discontinued and all was right with the world again!
Other than lack of sleep, Doug had a great night. He stayed in a normal rhythm all night long. He is still in ICU awaiting some more tests, but he should get to come home sometime this afternoon!

God is good and merciful.
Your prayers are greatly appreciated.
And my husband can totally RAWK a hospital gown like nobody's business!

Pass the word along or link to the blog, I just can't tell this story over and over!
I'll be updating more on Facebook as the day goes on.

She's completely rotten!

and that's why we love her!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hot Pepper Butter

It's not really a butter at all, it's a mustard, and good gah is it soooo delicious!

I remember eating this stuff as a child on cheese sandwiches. I also remember dipping hot soft pretzels in it. It's tangy and sweet with a hint of pepper kick...did I mention it was damn good?

I used up the last bit of peppers from the garden. I had mostly bell peppers and was worried that the butter wouldn't have enough heat. We like it spicy around here so I threw in about five of the last remaining "Fish" peppers (similar to jalapeno) and it was PERFECT!

I used the food processor to chop the peppers very fine. I like this butter to be more like a spread than a relish. I also used the food processor to wisk the flour and water together so I wouldn't have any lumps in my finished product.

If you have any sort of sinus problems, cooking this stuff will surely clear it up!
That vinegar/mustard/pepper mix packs a punch!

This recipe gave us four pints and two quarts. I'm not even sure why I bothered to can it at all because it surely won't last long around here! I am going to tuck away at least one jar to save for the holidays. This spread is AMAZING on ham or turkey sandwiches!


1 quart prepared yellow mustard
1 quart cider vinegar
6 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
Peppers as follows:
36 large banana peppers or 40 medium banana peppers or 50 small banana peppers

(As always, I deviated from the original recipe. Here's how I tweaked it!
I added 5 hot peppers and used what we had out of the garden. Next time I will also smoke/grill the peppers for added flavor! I added 3 cloves of garlic, 2 TBS. of onion powder, more sea salt and lots of fresh ground black pepper.)

Seed and chop peppers. Mix all ingredients together. Bring to boiling and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring constantly or until desired thickness. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars. Cap with hot lids process in hot water bath for 10 minutes. Enjoy!
Makes 8 pints.

Monday, August 24, 2009

And so it begins again...

...another year of homeschooling for the Creamer kids. It's our ninth year to be exact! This year's main focus is going to be learning about the beginnings our of country and the intent (and documents) of our founding fathers. There are great historical lessons to be learned there as well as studies in character and moral development. Our goal is to instill moral ethics based not only on our religious beliefs, but also on strength of character and knowledge of the rights and privileges granted to us by our forefathers.
I hoping for a great year!
Best wishes and prayers for our other homeschooling friends and families!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Yarn Lurve

I am currently LOVING Peaches & Creme 100% cotton worsted weight yarn!
The colors, the textures, the feel of it on the loom is wonderful.
I find myself making dozens and dozens of washcloths and dishcloths...

eventually I'll branch out into something else....

...or not!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


The Commercial Pattern Archive is having a FREE week this week!

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Wednesday August 19 through Tuesday August 25.

To login use the username: "guest" and the password: "pattern"
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You can print any of the vintage patterns from the originals.
Check it out!

The end of summer...

Despite the 98+ degree temps daily, I can feel this season coming to a close.

The garden is spent with the exception of my pepper and eggplant plants who LOVE the hot Texas summer! It finally got weeded and I cut back all my tomato plants. I'm hoping they'll grow back and give me another harvest before the end of November. I am hoping this because of the heirloom varieties I planted. Each of the base stalks were very thick and healthy and had lots of new growth up top. I can't find anything on the internet about regrowth after cutting them back.
If they don't grow back, that's fine. We've got plenty saved up in the freezer and lots more seeds for next year.

The little birds have eaten the last of the sunflowers.
Just empty hulls and dried heads remain.

And trips to the pool are getting fewer and fewer. There's too much to do with work and getting ready for a new school year. But I still love the sight of beach towels and swim suits drying in the sun!

Yeah, I'm definitely ready for this season to move on!
Bring on the Fall....and cooler temperatures....PLEASE?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Got Herbs?

Medicinal herbs, that is.

I thought I'd have to wait a good two years before harvesting herbs from my medicinal garden. I was sure surprised to see these pretty little feverfew flowers blooming this weekend!

There are no more than a handful right now but I'm still tempted to dry them (and some of the leaves) then make a tea from them the next time I have a really bad headache!
Also, bees and bugs won't go near this stuff, so I'm thinking of steeping some in the sun and putting the liquid into spritzer bottles for some non-toxic insect repellant.

Read more about this amazing herb HERE!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

My weekend went waaaayyy too fast! I haven't done any shoppin or planning for this week's meals! I'm so thankful for the summer harvest in our freezer. This week's meals are all about using up freezer and pantry surplus!

Monday: Spaghetti squash with homemade tomato sauce and artisan bread. I'll just put out the freezer packs of squash and sauce to defrost, and make a quick batch of artisan bread for the fridge before going to work. Doug can heat all of this up with a little parm. cheese and pull off a hunk of dough for bread about an hour before I get home!

Tuesday: Roasted chicken and wild rice. I buy whole roaster chickens when on sale and put them in the freezer. I'll season two of them before heading out to work and Doug can pop them in the oven during the day. I have some packages of wild rice (also on sale) in the pantry that we'll cook up with some organic chicken stock.

Wednesday: Black eyed peas and corn bread. I ALWAYS have a surplus of dried beans on hand! I'll soak these the night before and put them in the crock pot with a ham hock from the freezer.

Thursday: Breakfast for dinner. We have too many eggs in the fridge that need to be used up! I'll scramble them up and make some fluffy homemade biscuits and serve with homemade fig preserves.

Friday: Split pea soup. Again, lots of dried beans and peas in the pantry! I have a nice pack of split peas that can cook in the crock all day long. Will serve with artisan bread and butter.

Saturday: I think we'll order pizza and rent a movie for the kids and Doug and I will go on a date! It will be a busy week and we deserve a little time for just us!

Sunday: Baked potato bar. I have some large baking potatoes in the pantry that need to be used up. Will top with butter, cheese, and keifer sour cream...and whatever else we can find in the fridge!

You know, looking back over this I realize that I won't have to do any shopping this week! It pays to stock up when you find sales!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


They are a thing of beauty, aren't they?

I LOVE growing sunflowers in the summer time!
I especially love the gigantic Mammoth variety of sunflower. The stalks grow over 12 feet tall and have magnificent blooms that attract ladybugs and other beneficials to the garden. I let my seed heads dry on the stalks this year and I absolutely luuuurrrrvvvve how they turned out!

I'm thinking of taking some and making a dried arrangement for the house.
The others will get strung up with wire and hung from trees or laid out on picnic/patio tables for our sweet cardinals and rotten birdfeed stealing squirrels to enjoy.

There will be time for all of that later...

...because right now I'm going to have a cup of tea and enjoy the last fruits of summer.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Making your own relish

I love a good relish on a hot dog or sandwich!

Every Friday we make tuna salad for lunch and I just happened to look at the ingredients on the jar of relish...HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP was on the label!
Really? Why the need to put that crap in relish?
So I had a thought about chopping up some of my lactofermented bread and butter pickles to use instead.

I wish I had thought of it sooner! This relish was awesome!

The relish tasted very fresh and added great flavor to the tuna because of the honey/vinegar/onion combo in it. It was a great way to sneak in probiotics and remove another avenue of HFCS into our diets.
If you've made some bread & butter pickles this year with your excess cukes, I highly recommend running them through the processor for your own relish. If not, run down to your local farmer's market for cucumbers and local honey and make a batch or twelve today!

Here's the recipe for a wonderful lactofermented b&b pickle/relish....
your gut will thank you!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rebatching soap

Ever wonder what to do with all those little scraps of soap? Rebatch them!
My very very favorite type of soap is a wonderful little handmade goat's milk soap. It's difficult to use once it's just a sliver, but too precious to throw away, so I saved them up along with other bar soap scraps to make whole new bars.

Only use REAL soap! "Beauty bars" like Dove are not real soap and won't work for this process.

Grate your soap scraps and put into a crock pot. Pour in 1/8th to 1/4 cup of milk (the cream from raw milk works beautifully!) and a teaspoon of olive or coconut oil. Let the mixture melt over about an hour. Add essential oils and any ingredients you like:

green tea
oatmeal thats been run through the food processor
dried rose petals
dried rosemary
...the possibilities are endless and the experimentation is fun!

Then pour into molds and leave overnight. Don't do like I did with my first batch and not spray the molds with a quick release spray (Pam also works!). Allow the soaps to cure once out of the mold for about a week. The longer they cure the better they lather!

I'm really loving my vanilla bean hand soaps!
Plus, the boys are a little more eager to wash up with something we've made ourselves, and anything that leads to more handwashing is a good thing!

Here's the green tea and spearmint soap I made for the boy's bathroom...
I just hope they don't try to eat it!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Meal Plan Monday

My 'make-ahead' meal planning is really working for our family!
It has been a real help to Doug who is home with the kids all day (AND trying to run a full time business)! It's so nice not to have to worry about what's for dinner. Plus, after a long day at the hospital, it is VERY nice to be able to come home and eat a hot meal with the family...and left overs make for great lunches the next day!

Cabbage Rolls. I'll make these up Sunday night before going to bed and put them in the crock pot. All Doug has to do is put them on to cook that morning when he gets up...and maybe make a salad to go with it!

Tuesday: Spinach Lasagna. This is a very easy make ahead dish when using the no-cook noodles. I'll assemble this before going to work and Doug can pop it in the oven about an hour before I get home.

Wednesday: Shredded BBQ Pork Sandwiches. A pork roast will go into the crock pot with a bottle of really good sauce to cook low and slow all day long! Will serve with a little pasta salad.

Thursday: Chicken Fajitas. Meat for this meal was cooked on Saturday so all Doug has to do is heat and serve with all the fixings.


Saturday: Homemade Pizza. Doug has a wedding to shoot so it will be just me and the kids. They love making their own individual pizzas using artisan bread.

Sunday: Baked Ziti and Homemade Garlic Bread. Will use some homemade sauce from the freezer for this quick dish.

Friday, August 7, 2009

We've created a monster!

Little Miss Abby was found occupying my side of the bed this evening...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The kids are on the floor and the dog is on the couch!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Space Center Houston

The boys wanted to go to Space Center Houston last we went!
If you're ever in the area, you can get $5 discount coupons at McDonald's
AND another $3 off if you purchase online!