Friday, February 25, 2011

Little Update & Blog Break

This week has been a crazy one. Lots of appointments and quite a bit of traveling around. The bedroom makeover is slowly getting finished. I just bought a chandelier for our bedroom (my birthday present) to replace a ceiling fan and need to paint the dress. After that, it's finished, I think.Needless to say, after this crazy week, I'm pretty wiped out. I saw the allergy specialist this past week, and I was told that I'm allergic to everything they test for. The thing is, so are most people they test, apparently. The testing they use is ultra-sensitive, which they look at as a pro, but I tend to look at as a con. It may pick up hidden "allergies" that are causing no symptoms.

I was told I should take allergy shots and then cut out all dairy and a few other things like junk food, chocolate, coffee, tea. I am a bit skeptical, to say the least. However, I figure, what will it hurt? If somehow my issues (dizziness, pain, swollen lymph nodes) are related to this, then it's worth a short, I suppose. It's not like there's a big risk involved. Besides, nobody else has any answers yet. The shots are no problem - just a minor inconvenience. The cutting out dairy part...well that's the part I'm dreading. I love cheese. I love sour cream. I love yogurt. I love butter. I love whipped cream. I hate milk, but I love cream in my coffee. Wait a minute...I'm not supposed to drink coffee anymore. That solves that one. So I'm not sure how exactly I'm going to go about this. I think I'll try his recommendations for 2 weeks, and then after that, I'll probably try eating dairy in moderation. I just can't give up pizza. At least not yet. I'm scheduling pizza night 2 weeks from tonight :-). And pizza without cheese...well that just wouldn't be pizza. So, with my grocery challenge to eat what we have on hand and this new diet thing, there's much planning to be done. Really, changing your diet isn't that big of a deal. It's just an inconvenience. People have to do it all the time, so I guess I should just get on with it.

On the home front, well, I am struggling a little bit. Our 1 1/2 year old is testing us...Oh yes, she is testing us. She can be the sweetest little girl in the world, but she needs to learn she is not the boss. Everything seems like a struggle these days. Nap time, meal time, bed time, and everything in between. I need wisdom. Much wisdom. Wisdom from above. There are moments where all I do is pray because I just don't know what to do sometimes. I've read tons of parenting books, and it all sounds so easy when you read about it. Living it out, especially 100% consistency, is another story. Especially when you don't feel the greatest, are too busy, and are worn out...which brings me to my next point. I'm taking a blogging break. As much as I like my little bloggy time, it just isn't a priority. By the way, neither is getting my bedroom finished, so that might be awhile yet. My spirit needs to be refreshed and renewed by the Living Water. That's not going to happen on blogging time. So...I'm off. Unplugging. Not sure how long I'll be gone or when I'll be back. But I will be back. I think. :-)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday (February 21, 2011) & Grocery Challenge

Our Valentine's Day meal last week was fantastic! The Beef Bourguignon I made was soooooooo good. I will definitely share the recipe on here sometime. It made such a large amount that I think we ate it for 4 days! No one complained! In fact, my husband was disappointed the one day because he didn't get to eat more of the leftovers.

Last week I cleaned out my freezers and discovered we have been blessed with a LOT of food! It really bothers me when I waste food, so I am really going to try to keep up with a freezer inventory to reduce wasting food. I am going to try my own little grocery challenge for the next little while. The plan is to do my very best to only spend money on fresh items such as dairy and fresh produce and really limit canned and dry goods purchased. I am going to try to get creative by using up what I already have in my pantry and freezer. I'm really looking forward to (hopefully) cutting down our grocery bills for the next while! Plus, I think it's kind of fun to try to use only what you have on hand. It helps a person get a bit creative for meal planning. Anyone else want to join in?? :-)

These are the weeks where I'm thankful to have a casserole or two in the freezer so I don't have to spend much time in the kitchen. This week is going to be a very busy one. We have quite a few appointments this week, so I'm keeping it simple since we'll have to eat out a few times due to my appointments. No specific meals on specific days this week since it's going to be so crazy. These are just a few ideas mostly from the freezer to hold us over on the days we're around for supper.

Cheesearoni Beef Casserole (from freezer) & Green Beans (this will give us leftovers)

Italian Soup (from freezer) & Cheese Toast

Waffles with Saskatoon Berry Sauce, Bacon, Eggs

Tortellini (from freezer) in Creamy Tomato Sauce

*For more meal ideas, visit Menu Plan Monday hosted by*

Saturday, February 19, 2011

52 Weeks of Organizing - Week 6

Last week I was m.i.a. for the challenge, but I'm back this week. Nothing too crazy. Just my freezers. We are getting a bunch of meat soon, so I had to make room. I had tried to follow a freezer inventory awhile back, but I never really kept it up properly. After cleaning out my freezers and discovering things I had no idea were in there and having to throw out forgotten food, I now realize that taking the 5 seconds to mark off my paper when things are used up or when things go in my freezer can save me money by helping me waste less. This is just one thing I love about this organizing process - saving money! Plus, with my organized freezers (we have 3), we will no longer have to play the annoying game, "Which freezer is the ______in?" I think my husband will especially like this :-)

I just used this simple freezer inventory list here.

The before and after pictures would not be nearly as exciting as my closet before/after pictures,
so I don't have any pictures this time. Regardless of a lack of dramatic, noticeable results, as long as I keep up with my new inventory lists, my main goal for organizing this space has been accomplished: a place for everything, and everything in its place.

*linking up to 52 Weeks of Organizing Challenge*

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Be Courageous Enough...

Last night I was listening to a Christian radio program that I occasionally listen to in the evenings. They were discussing being a mom and raising kids. Truthfully, I wasn't listening all that closely and can't remember much of what they talked about. I can't even remember who they were interviewing (I think her name was Lisa), but something that this lady said really resonated with me. She said that something God had spoken to her was, "Be courageous enough to let Me write your children's testimonies." That literally brought me to tears. I cannot tell you how much I can relate. When I heard that, it seemed as though God was speaking directly to my heart, "Jenna, be courageous enough to let me write Ellie's testimony."

The times I have prayed for our daughter to be healed are too many to count. I have so many questions as to why God hasn't healed her yet. I suddenly realized that instead of letting God write my daughter's testimony, I have been trying to write it. In my testimony for our daughter, I have written that she is miraculously healed in this lifetime. It suddenly struck me that perhaps that is not God's testimony for her life. I don't know what He has planned, whether it is to uphold her whole life with the prayers of His people, or whether it is to miraculously heal her, or whether He will take her before I think it's her time to go.

So often I forget the words in Psalm 139 "in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them." There is nothing, nothing I can do to add to the number of days that God had already ordained for our daughter's life before she was even born.

Thinking about this, I've realized that I have even tried to write my own testimony at times. What do I mean by this? I have dreamed and hoped of growing to a ripe old age with my husband by my side and grandchildren running around and then someday in the very, very far future dying peacefully and painlessly in my own bed...or I have hopes of never dying at all, praying that the Lord will return before I die. And while I think it is alright to pray for such things, at the same time, I must remember that God is sovereign. I am not. My purpose is not to live a happy, care-free life. My purpose is to glorify God and point people away from myself and toward Christ. His ways are not my ways. His thoughts are so much higher than my thoughts. I must be courageous enough to let God write my own testimony, as painful and trial-full, as long or as short as it may be, with the prayer that God will get the glory.

For me, it's an impossible task on my own strength. I simply am not courageous enough to do so. My sinful self would much rather try to take control and pretend I can control it all. However, I know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, including letting go and letting God. That is not to say we shouldn't pray. Of course we should pray! And pray often! Pray for our children's salvation, safety, and health. Pray for wisdom in training and raising our children. Pray for miracles. Pray for healing. I know I won't quit praying for my daughter to be healed. But while I pray, let me never forget to follow our Lord's example and also pray not my will, but Thine be done.

*linking up to Raising Homemakers*

Bedroom Makeover Progress - Curtains

First, I attempted to sew some curtains from some cheap sheets I bought (2 full sets for $19). I really liked hanging them high above the window. I did a terrible sewing job, and although I loved the gray (and the price tag!), the curtains ended up being too sheer for us. We need something that blocks out the light better in the summer. to the store I went to find some gray curtains. Unfortunately, I could not find gray ones quite long enough, so I settled for a pair that were a tad too short. These are a deeper gray and made out of shiny material. It was nearly impossible to iron out the wrinkles in them, which is kind of driving me crazy, but I am over it. I hate ironing too much to care anymore! I used one of the fitted sheets from my cheapo set as a makeshift box spring cover. So far I'm pretty happy with my choice of curtains. I also purchased 3 gray, white, and black pictures that I plan on hanging right over our bed. The wedding picture will move to another part of the room. I have been working on painting our nightstands this past week and put my first coat of Decorator's White on this morning. I hope to get the second coat on tonight and then I have to decide what to do about hardware. I am either going to buy new hardware for them, or preferably (to save money) paint the wooden ones white or black.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday (February 14, 2011)

Last week was a busy week as I'm working on getting some furniture for our bedroom painted up. I can't wait to get them done! I didn't get an organizing project done last week with the busyness of painting. I also haven't been feeling the greatest again. Not sure why, but for some reason, I've started to have pain in my hands and feet again. I also had a major dizzy spell the other day, which hadn't happened to me in a over a month. I checked my blood pressure when it happened, and it was 79/56. I don't know why my blood pressure dips like that sometimes. It's kind of weird. I also have swollen lymph nodes everywhere, so I don't know what's going on with me, but I'm seeing my doctor tomorrow. I am getting allergy testing done in a week or so, also. Anyway, I'm still feeling fairly good, overall, so I'm thankful for that!

Here's the plan for this week:

Monday, February 14 (Valentine's Day) - We are going to have a candlelight dinner. I'm trying out a new recipe for the main course
Beef Bourguignon (NEW)
Roasted Potatoes
Tossed Salad
French Bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Frozen Chocolate Mocha Dessert

Tuesday, February 15

Wednesday, February 16
East Indian Chicken Curry (NEW) & Rice

Thursday, February 17

Friday, February 18
Homemade Pizza

Saturday, February 19

*For more meal ideas, visit Menu Plan Monday hosted by*

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Music in the Home

One of the things I love about being a homemaker is trying to do things to help make our house a home - a warm, inviting place of rest and comfort, and ultimately a home that glorifies God. If you spent the day with me in my home, you would be hearing a lot of music. I absolutely love classical piano music, especially hymns arranged in classical piano. This is usually what you will hear playing in our house. Our 1 1/2 year old daughter really loves music, too. In fact, if there isn't music on, she will often point to the cd player and ask, "push? push?"

There was a time in my life where I would have often had the radio on all day instead. Please understand I am not trying to criticize or condemn those of you who listen to the radio in your homes. That is truly not my point. My point is that one way I have found I can help create an atmosphere of peace and comfort is to play classical piano music, especially hymns, in our home. For us, having the radio on does not keep our hearts and minds in the right place because many of the songs are not edifying but rather glorify things that God despises. Besides that, the very style of some of the music does not help create an atmosphere of peace. I would rather not get into a debate about styles of music, but I know that for me, the style of music and not just the lyrics have an effect on my feelings and mood. Heavy rock music makes me feel irritated and angry. Even if the lyrics are edifying, the style of music alone just does not sit well with me and contradicts the words that are being sung, in my opinion. That being said, I think we must be very careful not to label certain styles of music as Christian or secular. Without a doubt, however, the style does affect our emotions in a one way or another. Our family does not hold to the opinion that syncopated rhythm or percussion are bad things, in and of themselves. We are, however, careful as to what music we allow to come into our home and do consider both the lyrics and style.

I also have a few other Christian cds that I play as well. I find that this helps me keep my heart focused on serving the Lord by serving my family. The lyrics of the hymns or other songs that are playing often go through my head, helping to keep my focus in the right place, while giving me something enjoyable to listen to while I go about my daily work. While I'm busy doing housework, I might play something a little more energetic. When I want something more calming, I might play something a little more mellow.

One thing that I feel I must say is that we need to be cautious that music does not replace the written Word of God or prayer. Although I believe music can definitely help me focus my heart in the right place, it must not serve as a substitution for reading God's Word and coming to Him in prayer. If we rely too much on using music to help calm us or uplift us, I believe we would be treading some dangerous waters.

Here are a few piano cd's that I enjoy:

101 Classic Piano Hymns (Classical hymns arranged with a bit of a contemporary twist, some contain percussion, violin, and other instruments. Mostly instrumental.)

David Nevue (I just discovered his music online today and have been listening to samples on the computer while I go about my day. So far I'm really enjoying some of his piano arrangements and thinking about purchasing some sheet music.)

Some of my all-time favourite hymns:
There is a Fountain
All the Way My Saviour Leads Me

*Linking up to Raising Homemakers homemaking link-up*

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Menu Plan Monday (February 7, 2011)

Last week I tried a couple new recipes and they were all huge hits! I have wanted to make homemade French onion soup for a really long time, so I figured I'd try it. This is seriously amazing stuff! It is unbelievably flavourful. The only thing I would do differently next time is omit the toasted bread and cheese on top and just serve it on the side. I know that is a no-no with French Onion soup, but I just prefer it that way. I definitely will be making that again and have no need to try another French onion soup recipe because I'm convinced this one can't be topped. I tried a new Alfredo sauce this week, too, and this one will now be my go-to recipe for Alfredo sauce. So creamy and the perfect texture for us! I made only slight adjustments to the recipe and will post my adjusted recipe in the future. For a new dessert, I tried Heavenly Homemaker's brownies, and they were SO fudgey and good! I will be making them again as they were definitely some of the best brownies I have had. If you like REALLY fudgey brownies, then this is a recipe you should try. I used white sugar instead of rapadura, regular chocolate chips, and white flour instead of whole wheat, although next time I'm going to try sneaking in some whole wheat.

Here's the plan for this week:

Sunday, February 6
Lunch: something simple (leftovers, smoothies)
Supper: Went out to eat

Monday, February 7
Glazed turkey meatballs, mashed potatoes, steamed carrots

Tuesday, February 8
Super simple bean and cheese burritos (NEW, didn't get made last week), sweet potato fries

Wednesday, February 9
Crockpot Turkey and Barley Soup(NEW), Savory flax biscuits

Thursday, February 10
Leftover soup and biscuits

Friday, February 11
Sausage, perogies, green beans

Saturday, February 12
Breakfast for dinner (buttermilk pancakes, scrambled eggs, homemade tater tots (NEW), bacon, fruit)

*For more great meal ideas visit Menu Plan Monday hosted by*

Friday, February 4, 2011

52 Weeks of Organizing - Week 4

Wow. I am SO embarrassed. I have no idea why I'm even posting these before pictures. I suppose it's so I can keep it real with you all. The only reasonable excuse I have for why I allowed my closet to look like this is that during renovations we had to empty a bookshelf and all its contents got dumped on my closet floor. Uhh...yeah...that accounts for maybe 1/10th of the problem. As you can imagine, this week's organizing project was not a super fast process. Here's how it went down.

Prepare yourself....

Before: (it's okay if you gasped...or screamed...I know it's shocking and scary. Believe me, every time I ventured to retrieve something from out of there (you can imagine what a task that was) I was shocked and scared.)

In the process....after everything was taken off of the closet floor (I hadn't even touched the shelves or hangers at this point)

Tackling the floor took me a couple hours the first day.

Then, tackling the rest of the closet took me a couple hours the next day. After going through my clothes, I had one bag to giveaway.

After! (I can breathe again!)

Close up of after

I kind of got stuck in a rut when I tried tackling the shelves and hangers. I knew it was time to say goodbye to some of my clothes again, but for some reason I always have such a hard time letting go. I was definitely not accomplishing much for awhile, and I had to step back from the situation, evaluate what I was trying to accomplish (a clutter-free closet containing things I use/wear), and then be ruthless. If it looked terrible on me or I hadn't worn in in a year, it was time to say goodbye. It helped to think that I was blessed to have an abundance to pass onto someone in need. It certainly wasn't helping me or anyone else to have a cluttered closet full of clothes I didn't wear or like.

I am seriously loving this 52 Weeks of Organizing Challenge. Linking up to this week's challenge here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


** Update: I am so excited that I was chosen for one of the $15 credits! Thank you so much to Suzanne for hosting the giveaway and to Shannon who is the Lilla Rose consultant who donated the prize. I have wanted to try one of these for a long time, and have even considered becoming a consultant, so I'm super excited to have won**

Check out this great giveaway at Blueberry Cottage for a $15 credit for Lilla Rose hair clips. I have seen these around the internet and would love to try one sometime!

Greek Salad

One of my favourite foods is definitely Greek Salad. Feta cheese, olives, red wine could it not be good? I often have this for a light lunch. It actually fills me up, but I find I need to have a snack such as a yogurt smoothie in the afternoon so I don't go hungry.
Here's my recipe for Greek Salad. This recipe makes enough to feed 1 person as a main dish or 2 people as a side salad.

Greek Salad
1/2 large tomato, cut into wedges or chunks
1/4 cucumber, cut into halves
2 Romaine lettuce leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces
2-3 slices of red onion
1-2 Tbsp Feta cheese, crumbled
3-5 kalamata olives

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Place tomato, cucumber, lettuce, feta cheese, and olives into a small bowl. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over salad, toss to coat. Garnish with more feta cheese .

Printable Grocery List

Note: My dressing recipe might be a little too vinegary for some people. Adjust the proportions of olive oil and vinegar to suit your own taste.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sweet & Tangy BBQ Chicken Coleslaw Wrap

I am not much of a sandwich person, but the sweetness of the barbecue sauce combined with the crunch and tanginess of the coleslaw makes this one of my favourite ways to use up leftover cooked chicken or turkey. This wrap is a huge hit with our family and is so simple to throw together. It makes a great lunch!

Barbecue Chicken & Coleslaw Wrap

2 cups cooked and shredded chicken or turkey
1/3 cup barbecue sauce (I like Diana sauce the best)

Mix together and set aside.

Coleslaw Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp dijon mustard
pinch of garlic powder or 1 minced clove
salt and pepper to taste

Small bag of prepackaged coleslaw (or make your own)

Mix dressing ingredients together and pour over coleslaw. Toss to coat.Spoon chicken into pita or wrap. Top with coleslaw.

Printable Grocery List

*Linking up to Raising Homemakers homemaking link-up*

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