Friday, September 21, 2012

Clean, Clean, Clean, Clean!!!!

Hey!  I found the old post that I made in my drafts so I thought I would share it!  I deleted the pictures that I had taken of the process because I thought that this post had been lost for good so, sorry, no visuals included.

Hi All!

Are you the type of person that does the whole Spring Cleaning thing?  I always try and say that I am going to do it, but I seem to get distracted with flowers and, you know, spring things!  I am more the type of Autumn Cleaning person.  Something about the Fall has always made me more energetic and go-getter and well, happy.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that I started dating and later married my husband in the fall?  I don't know, but it's a good thing.  Anyway, when I get into this cleaning frame of mind, I tend to clean the most obscure things.  Those things that you really don't pay attention to until "OH MY GOD" stage?  Like earlier this week it was the fan blades in my kitchen.  Then, of course, I had to vacuum - can you say GROSS?

Well, today it was the bottom of my microwave that is above the stove.  I cook.  A lot.  I cook things that are messy, things that splatter, things that get sticky over time.  Unfortunately, this is a spot that I don't see unless I am bending at the waist and looking up at my microwave.  And, I have twin boys that are two.  Do I need to say more?  Anyway, I declared war on this today.  I wanted it clean and I didn't know where I was going to get the elbow grease to get it clean.  I recently saw a post about cleaning the filter that goes in this type of microwave/rangehood kind of thing and I felt inspired (you can find this cleaning tip here).    I closely examined the bottom of my range and the screws that held it in and thought, I could unscrew this entire thing and put it in the pot of boiling water and "Ta Da" it would be clean, right?  Easy Peasy.  I unscrewed it and it dropped down only to find that the light for above my stove was welded to it and then was attached to the microwave with wires.  Well, getting electrocuted wasn't on my list of things to do today so I guess the boiling pot of water idea was out.  Crap.

So, I made a paste of vinegar and baking soda and a tiny bit of water.  I know, I know, measurements would be good but I am just not that kinda girl.  If I was hard pressed to say how much, maybe a 1/4 cup of vinegar to a half cup of baking soda and a few drops of water.  It was a THICK paste.  I spread onto the hood and crossed my fingers.  At this point, I walked away, called my Dad and had a nice long conversation, and came back.  Then, I got out my little doo hickey from Pampered Chef, you know the one that they give you to scrap clean all of their stoneware pots and pans? And I went to work.  I expected to put forth quite a bit of muscle to scrap away all that yuckiness of yellow caked on grease (yes, I am embarrassed to write that, but sadly, it is the truth).  To my surprise, if I had the doo-hicky at the right angle, it came RIGHT OFF!!!!!!  I couldn't believe it.  I had to call my Dad back and share my utter amazement.  Then, I grabbed my magic eraser and went over everything to get what little bit of excess that was left and *Ta Da* it is sparkling!!!!

I am going to go buy stock in baking soda and vinegar!  This is my new best friend!  I have read that in blogs before and I have never believed can something that simple work that well?  IT DOES!  Believe me!  I am, right now, looking for neat new things to clean with it.  I think the grout in my bathroom that my dog lays on constantly is next.  I will be sure to take a before pic of that.  Oh!  And I have used this in my laundry too to freshen towels and it works great!  For instance, if you do a load of wash and forget it and it gets that sour smell in it and you have to redo the load but it still has that lingering smell?  Put a cup of vinegar and a half cup of baking soda and it takes the smell away.  I am rather forgetful when it comes to laundry in the washer much to my husband's annoyance.

Let me know if you try this and if you have had the success I did!  I would love to hear about your weird cleaning obsesses so that I don't feel so lonely.....or dirty :o)  Have a great day!!!

And a crafting we will go!

Hi!  It has been way too long since I have been on here!  I typed up another post to you all awhile ago and before I had a chance to do the final editing and hit "post", my battery died on my computer and all was lost.  *SIGH*

Anyway, this time of year for me is bittersweet.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the fall!  I can't get enough pumpkin, apple, and fall color.  As a matter of fact, almost every room in my home has those colors in it; mustard yellow, sagey green, brick or cinnamony red and browns.  My husband and I got married in October 15 years ago this year!  (Even though we have no celebration plans yet!)  And, I have horrible allergies this time of year but even that cannot deter me from loving it.

It is a time of sadness for me though too.  Five years ago I lost my Mom.  When a woman loses her Mom, it is as though a part of her has been ripped away.  I don't want to be sad, but it was a hard week last week.

Anyway, something about this time of year brings out the crafter in me!  In the past couple weeks I have finished my coffee table turned tufted ottoman, made a quilt for a new baby, made curtains from a free set of panels from a friend and valances.  AND- I made a Thanksgiving and a Halloween Tulle Wreath!  I will post pics of the other crafts I have done as soon as I get them together and take/post the pics, but for now, I will show you the Halloween Wreath!

As a side note, if you aren't already on Pinterest, maybe you should not sign up because it will suck you of every ounce of free time that you have!  If you aren't looking at the website seeing all the amazing things that you can make/try/eat/do, then you will be in the process of making/trying/eating/doing them and your house will never be clean again or your laundry folded and put away! :O)  At least that seems to be the way here in this house!  Here is the link to the wreath I originally found on Pinterest:

Tulle Wreath

And, here's mine:

Ok, I used black and two different colors of orange tulle, a lighter one and a darker one.  The difference in the color is not enough so it all looks like it's the same color.  A little disappointing, but I still think it came out really cute.  The bat is hung on a spring and I found him on sale at JoAnn's for $4.99.  The last photo is a great thing that I saw on Pinterest: hang a command hook upside down on the back of a door or cabinet to hang a wreath.  This helps me because the front of my house gets so HOT since I face west that the last time I hung a command strip on the outside of the door, it fell off!  I still haven't been able to get the sticky stuff off the door!  There's probably a pin for that too, I am sure!

I will be posting again soon with all my other crafty endeavors.  I hope that you are all enjoying the fall season!  I have already been apple picking and made a very disappointing, too sweet, apple coffee cake.  We should be visiting a pumpkin patch soon, so I will post pics of my entryway once I get that all set up - I LOVE planting my front porch and window boxes for the fall with Kale and Cabbage and MUMS and, of course, pumpkins.  

Talk to you soon, have a FABULOUS day!  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


So, my boys and I are back from a vacation (if you can call it that for me since I was acting as a single parent of two two year old boys!) and although it is nice to come home to my own home, part of me wishes I didn't have to.  BIG *sigh*!  I miss my family.  Plain and simple.  I love that I have a "family" here in IL now, and it is amazing to me how they have taken us into their lives and made us part of their family, but I really do miss my God-given family.  It is not just being around the people that you look like, but thinking of all the things that I have missed over the years.  It isn't even the big things but more like the little ones that are hardest.  The impromptu get togethers for pizza on a Thursday, the "I was in the area so I thought I would stop by" hello's, the "Hey, you need a hand with that?" Saturdays.  I know that when I am home those things happen more often because we are all trying to squeeze in every ounce together that we can in that short time period, but I miss it nonetheless.  The hardest part for me is feeling like an outsider looking in.  I remember once I was at a birthday party for my nephew which I hardly ever get to attend and a couple that are very good friends with my brother and SIL made the comment "Oh, I forgot you had a sister".  Yea, not a stellar Auntie or Sister moment for me, but it was true.  I cannot blame that person, and really they are nice people, he was just making an observation.  Funny how little things like that can make such an impact.  This incident happened probably about 4 or more years ago and I still remember it like it was yesterday.  Gosh, how many things have I said that had that affect on someone???!?!  If you don't know this about me, you should, I tend to open my mouth and say things without thinking and later shake my head at myself and realize how dumb I was!  I definitely get this trait from my Mom.  Yup, long line of case of open mouth, insert foot people here.

This brings me to a gift idea, a late one now but you could file it away for use next year at graduation time.  The main reason for our pilgrimage to CT was for my nieces' high school graduations.  I was 18 when they were born and now they are 18!!!!  How did THAT happen?  Anyway, I am the type of person that likes to put something together to give instead of just money or gift certificates so I put together a basket for them.  I bought a laundry basket and I filled it with stuff for their new dorm rooms; Ramen noodles (college staple, of course!), dish detergent, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, pot holders, dish towel, scrubber sponges, measuring cup, teaspoons, mini cutting board, etc.  I also included two books, Dr. Suess' "Oh the Places You'll Go" and Mitch Aplom's "The Five People You Meet in Heaven".  The first book was from my little guys and I let them "draw" in both of them for the girls' and the second one was from me.  If you have not read the Heaven book, please do!  It isn't a long read, but it was a very thought provoking one for me.  I know that they have made a TV movie out of it, but nothing is as good as the book.  It just makes you think about how the littlest things in life can have such a very large impact on others around you.  How different would all of our lives be if we just always strived to do our best?  Of course, even when we do, somethings are out of our control.

By the way, still working on the "Living to be Miracle Worthy" from my last post.  I have done a few things like pick up all the trash that had blown around the park from the over turned trash can while my boys played in the 90+ heat the other day.  And, I helped a disabled man at the grocery store.......and got a religious brochure in return.  Then, the next day, the doorbell rings, my boys run to the door saying "HI!!! HI!!!!" (forcing Mom to answer it now, right?) and it is a Jehovah's witness.  To her credit, she wasn't the typical "pushy" type that we all think of, but I still do not like the idea of a religion that requires me to go out to so many doors to peddle my thoughts on God.  Anyway, my son grabs her hand and attempts to pull her into my house to go watch "Choo Choo's" with him.  Yes, do you think someone is trying to tell me to go to church?  *Sigh*

Monday, June 4, 2012


So, I had my garage sale this weekend.  I have to say that I am surprised at what went and what didn't.  For instance, my husband's wet suit that was almost 20 years old sold for $40!  What?!  Talk about needing the right buyer at the right time!  But, my kitchen table?  Only about 3 people even asked about it - doesn't everyone pretty much need tables?  And this is not some freaky, weirdo table, it's a pretty nice wood one.  So, it's going on Craiglist.  

I guess it really is true, One man's trash really is another man's treasure.  I am not done purging my house yet.  I will be going to the resale shop with a load of clothes this week to see what they will give me for them.  This was another strange thing, my neighbor put a bunch of clothes from her daughter out that went pretty fast but when I added my boys clothes to the mix?  I got nothing.  Out of probably 100 pieces of clothing, I sold 2 t-shirts and 3 pairs of pants.  Really?  (Eye Roll)

I have to say that when I was going through my little guys clothes, I was surprised at how hard it was for me to let go.  I do want to make a quilt for each of them eventually with clothes that they wore a lot or really liked when they were little.  I imagine it will be a nice hand-me-down gift for their first children, so I was keeping that in mind.  But I had my first, true blue, time is flying by moment as a Mom.  I do not know where the past 2 years have gone.  And, it wasn't easy, it was HARD.  Being a Mom is HARD, yes with a capital H.  It isn't just the not sleeping, it isn't just the stinky diapers that you would never think could be made by such a little adorable baby, and it isn't just the lack of available time to do anything - like shower.  It is ripping your heart out and giving it to another human being.  It is losing yourself and not even realizing it.  It is being trusted to take care of a miracle everyday.  People so often think of miracles when they see babies, of course it is evident when they have just emerged from another person's body, but what about when they are two, or even better, when they are 15?  

My little guys arrived after a very, very long struggle and I looked at them this weekend and I worry that I am short changing them.  I worry that I don't hug them enough.  That they don't eat enough vegetables.  That I am not showing them to be kind more, to be curious ( oh boy! ), and to love with abandon.  I want them to be respectful, but I don't want them to bow to anyone.  I want them to keep the determination that often drives me crazy.  I want them to be friends, to always have each other.  I want them to know how to treat a girl.  They really are the embodiment of all of your hopes and dreams.  How is it possible that this is only just occurring to me?  You, reading this?  You are your Mother and Father's miracle.  They put every hope and dream that they ever had in your hands the moment that you were born.  That's a heavy weight on your shoulders?  So, I am going to start living as a miracle today.  I want to be miracle worthy.  Just like I want my children to be miracle worthy.  I have another cliche - Today is a gift, that is why they call it the present.  

I hope you do something miracle worthy today!  Feel free to let me know!  I would LOVE to hear about it.  As a matter of fact, maybe I will do that.....for one year I will do something miracle worthy everyday.....and I pledge to post them (maybe in groups) for all of you to see.   I can assume that my thinking on what is miracle worthy will change from day to day, but what a great thing to strive for, right?  

Enjoy your day!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Where did all this stuff come from??!!?!?!?!?

Ok, haven't we all had that moment in our lives where we look around at all the stuff we have accumulated over (insert # of days, months, years here)?  I am currently having one of those moments!  My bestie, haven't figured out her pseudo name yet, is an organizer.  We should all have one of those in our lives.  She bites her tongue, but I know that she itches every time she goes into my basement to use our laser printer.  My basement has absorbed a lot.  I am ashamed to say that we have not gone through things that we took from my father-in-law after his death 11 (wow!) years ago, my mother going on 5 years ago, and his aunt 2 1/2 years ago.  The problem is, DH and I are both "sentimental savers".

So, it is my quest to purge my basement!  And I am doing a pretty good job so far I think, but I know that once I am done, I could probably still have another garage sale in a few months with the stuff behind/underneath the stuff I am selling now.  I like to post pictures on this blog because I think that it adds a nice bit of "interest" but, if I may be frank, I am ashamed to do it!  I am currently doing the sort between, if we have another baby, am I going to want this?  Will I be able to get the same thing from another garage sale when/if that time comes?  Is the space in my basement worth more to me than having this at the ready IF we have another one? *sigh*  If I only had all the money in the world, I would give away  almost everything and just start over again when that time comes, but sadly I do not have all the money in the world and will have a small budget to deal with at that time.  And, as my organizing bestie as said to me, I will want to buy new things too!

I keep reciting to myself, the thing does not contain the memory, your heart contains the memory.  If you haven't used it or seen it in 12 months, you do not need to have it in your life.  If you don't love it, it doesn't fit, or you don't get compliments on it, you don't need it.  Yes, I listen to all those shows I have watched.  Implementing is harder than reciting though.

I am hoping that by the end of this weekend, I will have a fatter wallet (for a much needed trip to see the fam) and a much more open feeling basement.  It will not be miraculous yet, but more organized will be an improvement.  Maybe I will post a pic of before and after once I know what the after looks like.  :o)  Ok, I just laughed at myself!

I hope you enjoy your day!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wasn't that three day weekend wonderful?  The weather in Northern Illinois was great except for a brief interruption by mother nature dropping buckets of water on us!  My boys had a blast with the inflatable pool and their newest favorite toy - squirt guns!

So, we went to a friend's Serbian church for their holiday picnic.  On the church grounds they have pit roasters where they roast pork and lamb and it is delicious!  They also have a selection of different types of pastries which I will not attempt to butcher spelling!  Suffice it to say, everything tasted wonderful and I would love to try and duplicate some of the fare at home!  That might be a post sometime in the future.

I HAD to bring something to the picnic, I am one of those people that hates to go anywhere empty handed and I usually try to bring something homemade.  So, I made this recipe again:

The cookies are pretty yummy!  They were a hit with all the kids when we went to the water park a couple weeks ago.  This time, I added a little Almond Extract in addition to the vanilla.  I think it added a little extra flavor without being too much.  Here is a pic:

I imagine the people at my husband's work are happy to have the leftovers this morning too!  They go GREAT with a cup of coffee....hence why I sent them away!  :O)

Needless to say, I have to get on my bike now and tow the boys around!  Too much eating this weekend!  Hope you enjoy your day!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Roasted Tomatoes with Cheese

Hi!  I tried a Pinterest recipe last night....but I tweaked it.  I have to apologize for the picture I am uploading because my camera in my phone kind of stinks.  New phone in August, I promise.  Anyway, the idea for these came from this pin:

I had BIG tomatoes so I cut off the top with the yucky core in the middle and then I cut a 1 inch thick slice and then had about the same size left of the bottom.  I preheated my oven to 450 with the convection on.  I placed the tomatoes on a broiler pan lined with foil for easier clean up.  I pretty much used all the same ingredients, but in a different order.  The original recipe said to put the herbs and oil on top of the cheese but that just didn't make sense to me.  It's the tomato I want to flavor, not the cheese?  So, I sprinkled about 1 teaspoon of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) on top and then sprinkled them each with Onion Powder, Italian Seasoning blend (has oregano, basil, majoram, thyme & rosemary), and some Garlic Powder.  Then, I generously covered the tops of each tomato with a 4 blend Italian Cheese.  I have to say that they were pretty delicious.

Here is the quick reference recipe:

2 BIG Tomatoes with tops cut off and then sliced into 2 1-inch thick slices
4 Teaspoons EVOO
4 Teaspoons Italian Blend Seasoning
1 1/2 Teaspoons Onion Powder
1 1/2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
1/2 - 3/4 cup of Italian Blend Cheese

Bake in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes.  I used the convection feature on my oven and I thought it browned up the cheese very well.  Here is the pic:

I was thinking that you could probably use a good Italian Dressing in place of all of the oil and herbs....just a drizzle on each slice of tomato and then top with cheese.  I might try this in the future and let you know how it comes out.  I also have some Wildtree Smoked Mozzarella & Tomato Blend seasoning mix that I was thinking might also do well in place of the herbs in the recipe.  Obviously, this will be tried at least a few more times this summer.  And probably at least once or twice on the grill because we all know how it stinks to have the oven on battling with the AC during the summer!  Let me know if you try this!  It went great with my chicken breast that I topped with Greek yogurt and Parmesan cheese.  My husband also liked it with his roasted Tilapia.  I just can't get into eating fish.  
Thanks for stopping by!