Saturday, October 30, 2010

12 New Things - Quilting!

Wanna know what this is all about?  Check out Sarah Mae's great blog!   Take a look at my list of new projects too.

My October challange was to learn to quilt.  Due to the fact we were hardly home at all this month, I kinda cheated and didn't make a whole quilt.  I did manage to put together one block though!

Here's how I did it:

I found a site with lots of free quilt blocks and really clear directions. And then, true to form....I wung it....winged it....whatever the past tense of "to wing it" would be.

The block I chose was a Greek Square.  Mostly 'cause it only requires two colors and that's all the scrap fabric I had laying around.

Greek Square block - the instructions I followed were actually for a table running that connects four of these blocks

I should've known right off the bat this wasn't the project for me - I am incapable of cutting in a straight line...let alone sewing in a straight line. Precision is not in my vocabularly......Luckily I'm good at manoevering things around to look like they were cut evenly!

It turned out pretty well though! I had to stretch it a bit to make the seams match up but all in all, I gotta say it looks good! Would look better in a quilt or table runner....but it's a start.

Plum platz

Tasty Mennonite recipe #2!

Platz is a tasty sheet cake covered with fruit and topped with a sweet, crumb topping.  Growing up, Mom always used frozen plums or rhubarb, apricots are really good too!  Today I used frozen plum halves since that's what I had in my freezer.

Plum platz

1 cup        flour
1/2 cup    white sugar
1 tsp        baking powder
1/4 cup     butter

Use a food processor to combine until crumbly, or use a pastry knife.

Add in:

1/2 cup     milk
1              egg
1 tsp        vanilla

Spread into a greased 9x13 baking dish.

Cover batter with fresh or frozen fruit. *Try rhubarb sprinkled with a package of strawberry jello powder!*

Crumb topping:

1 1/2 cups     flour
1 1/2 cups    white sugar
1/2 cup         melted butter

Mix these together until crumbly and sprinkle over fruit (use all of it).

Bake in the top 1/3 of your oven at 350F for about 30 minutes or until golden! Serve warm with ice cream or at room temp. as finger-food.

Warm, sweet and slightly sour, plum-y goodness

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Menu-plan ...Wednesday?

Here's my menu for the week!  I had it done on Monday just forgot to post it for ya.

 I don't generally follow anything....low-carb...low-fat..whatev.  I aim for healthy and fresh and everything in moderation.  I also aim for cheap - which means I make big batches and freeze the leftovers!

Monday - Date Night with our bible study group - this week we're doing a movie and Taco night!

Tuesday - Borscht and buns - check out my Mom's recipe

Wednesday - Farmer sausage, mashed cauliflower and miscellaneous frozen vegetables.

                   I've been trying to cut down on our consumption of starchy foods so I'm experimenting with cauliflower.  It is de-lic-ious.  Not the same....but still really good.  I steam a whole head of cauliflower 'til it's soft.  Then I puree it in the food processor with some butter, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Or you could mash it with a potatoe masher....add some garlic salt.... whatever suits your fancy!

Thursday - Black bean soup (left over from last week) and home made buns!

Friday - Chicken and Rice Dinner with a veg...probably brussel sprouts 'cause my hubs likes them.

           This recipe is one of my go-to easy, versatile dinners.  I've never actually made it exactly how the recipe says...go figure.  I use only as much chicken as we need, and I substitute the poultry seasoning and parsley for at LEAST a tablespoon of curry powder, mmm maybe 1/2 tsp corriander....some tumeric...and a lot of fresh ground pepper.  Oh and I also add some garlic salt and pepper to the flour when I dredge the just jazzes up the chicken a bit too.  You gotta try it!

Saturday - Herb-coated Cod with roasted vegetables....lots of them.  I'm thinkin some rutebega, red onion, cherry tomatoes, potato, yam..whatever else is kickin around in my fridge.  Beets are good too.

              The key to roasting veggies is keeping the pieces small, especially harder root veggies like sweet potato, butternut squash and regular potato.  Nice small pieces with some red onion wedges and whole cherry tomatoes.  Throw 'em in a glass dish and drizzle them with olive oil.  Sprinkle with some salt and pepper...add some garlic if you want.  Toss it around a bit to coat and throw it in the oven at 400F for 20 minutes or so.  Check it every so often and give it a stir to make sure it roasts evenly.

             Oh and for the cod, you can use any white fish.  Tilapia is a mild and sustainable option for those that are iffy on the seafood.  It calls for butter-flavored crackers - I use regular soup crackers. So. good.

Sunday - Leftover turkey soup and buns.  No recipe for this one.  A friend gave me a bunch of broth with meat leftover from thanksgiving (...I'm in Canada remember? We celebrate in October!)  I just add some pasta or rice, onions, garlic, carrots, celery....lotsa pepper. Taste test 'til it's good!



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm just angry ok?


I've been in this funk the last couple days - for the longest time I couldn't figure out why.  Last night we watched Brian Doerksen's Level Ground video with our bible study and for some reason, which I can only deem completely unrelated to the video, I realized that I'm just angry.  That's all.  I'm angry.

I'm mad at my hubby. I'm mad that he is susceptible to temptation.  I'm mad that he's not strong enough to overcome his weaknesses (even though he's come a long way). I'm mad that he forgets that I hurt so much deeper than he can imagine.

I'm mad at those people we've confided in and looked to for guidance.  The ones that are, dare I say, obligated, to reach out to us, for support and accountability. I'm mad that they haven't been there for us.

I'm mad because I feel like I have no one to support me.  Who wants to hear about these things? It's dirty, taboo laundry in Christian circles.  No one wants to ask about things like this, can I blame them for not asking?

I'm mad at God. I've never had the guts to express that before but there.  I'm mad at God.  I'm mad that I don't feel strong. I need His strength but I don't feel strong. 

And mostly I'm mad at myself.  I'm mad that I let this get between me and God. I'm mad that I haven't been the prayer warrior for my hubby that he needs me to be. I'm mad that I can't be there for him when he needs me.  I'm mad that I can't meet his deepest need without feeling used and dirty.  I'm mad that after all this time I still feel like nothing has changed. When will it get better? Will it ever feel better?

Oh and I'm mad at my mom too, but for completely unrelated reasons.

Mennonite Cabbage Borscht


For all you peeps that have never heard this soup before, let me introduce you.  There's two main types and a bazillion different family recipes depending on where your family originated from.  The Mennonite version is cabbage based and is often made with a soup bone or two.  The Ukrainian version is usually beet based and is meatless. That isn't the rule, that's just the "usual" differences. Oh and I think the Ukrainian version is spelled without the t. It's pretty much a "grab veggies from the garden" soup.

Oh and if you don't know what a Mennonite a nutshell, they're a people group that immigrated kinda from Holland, to Germany, to the Ukraine and then to Manitoba....and Abbotsford, BC. It's a long story...and there's a few books written.  Up From the Rubble is the one that comes to mind first - it's written about my dad's family.  Most have a Christian background but I dislike making that generalization.  If you want the long detailed version....Wikipedia does an ok job

Luckily for me, not only is my dad's family Mennonite, I also grew up in a small VERY Russian/Ukrainian community called Grand Forks (southern interior BC).  The mother of one of my good friends had immigrated from Russia so I got a good introduction to their native food. 

Anyway, on to the good stuff.  Here's the recipe - it's basically the recipe from the Mennonite Treasury cook book (the bible of all things Mennonite cooking). 


2 lbs          soup bones
2 quarts     water (I think I end up using at least 3 or 4)
2 medium onions, chopped
4 or 5 carrots shredded
1 head     cabbage, chopped finely
4 potatoes, cubed
10 whole allspice berries (we find ground is better...use about 1/2 tsp or a little more)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp ground anise seed
1 tsp salt
Pinch ground pepper (I use almost a full tsp peppercorns)
1 1/2 cups chopped tomato (my mom uses a jar of home made canned tomatoes, I use a big can of diced tomatoes....or leave them out completely...whatever works for you!)
1/2 cup  heavy cream*****

***We leave the cream out and use sour cream when serving it****

Cover the soup bones with water and simmer at least 1.5 hours. Save the broth in the pot. Pull the bone out and remove all the meat from it, set aside.  In your largest pot, use a little bit of butter and saute the onion for a few minutes.  Add the cabbage and the carrot and allow it to cook down a bit. Add enough water to the reserved broth to make 8-10 cups and add to vegetables.  Toss in your potatoes, tomatoes, meat and spices now and bring to a boil.  Simmer until potatoes are soft and then some, to meld the spices into the soup...the longer the better!

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a squirt of white vinegar.  Seriously.  I know it sounds wierd but don't knock it until you've tried it! Oh yeah and a thick slice of fresh white bread slathered in butter.  I'm a big advocate for whole grains, but nothing is better than a warm slice of white bread and butter with my borscht!

This Christmas I will be getting acquainted with some other Mennonite recipes and I'll be sure to share them all with you too!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Back to Reality: My Monday Daybook

Outside my Window...It's a chilly October day. Windy and gray with a tornado of yellows and oranges as the leaves swirl off the trees in my front yard.  I love those trees....but not raking....

I am Thinking...  Man, I so don't want to clean my house this morning.  After spending 5 days living out of a camper in the middle of God's beautiful creation with good friends, it pains me to come back to the hustle and bustle of real life.

Our home for a week. Nothin to worry about except cooking simple meals and occasionally sweeping the camper floor....but only when I really feel like it!

I am Thankful for... My wonderful husband who diligently goes to work each day to "win the bread" and for the security in his job (for now).

From the Kitchen... Nothing yet, but there will be a big pot of Mennonite Borscht bubbling on my stove today or tomorrow! I have a cabbage that needs to be used and what better than a warm, hearty soup. I re-found the Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog and spent some time pouring over the recipes that my Grandma makes.  Since we won't be spending Christmas with the extended family this year I think I'm going to have to try some myself!  I will post the recipe for my Mom's borscht tomorrow...I can't find her recipe and the ones on the MGCC blog don't have the spices that gives my Mom's the flavor I love!

I am Wearing... Jeans, a warm, nubby sweater and my slippers.  I have to change into dressier clothes for my piano lessons this afternoon but I'd rather be comfy while I'm doing my housecleaning!

I am Creating... a quilt! Ok, I haven't actually started yet...oops...but it's my October project for the 12 New Things adventure I've embarked on with Sarah Mae over at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee.  I might not get it finished in time but I have really good intentions on starting.  Projects like that require one to actually be at home for more than a handful of days out of the month!  Has anyone else quilted before? I could use some helpful hints!

I am Going... to the Mayan Riviera (Mexico) in less than two weeks with my hubby and our really good friends! Somehow I still don't feel old enough to be going on major trips like this without my that strange?! :)  We travelled a lot as a family...usually by car and tenting along the way and I have such great memories from it.  I just hope that we can give our children the same experiences.

I am Reading... Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago.  It has taken me almost a month...which is ridiculous because I usually read books in a week or less.  I found a list of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die and I figured I should try some of the classics.  It's definitely not my usual style but I'm slowly getting drawn into the story line and the drama.

I am Hearing... the dishwasher in the kitchen and the fire crackling in the fireplace - the latter is by far one of my favorite sounds of all time.

Around the House... shows signs of the tornado that was me as I prepared and packed for our hunting trip last Wednesday.  My dearest was at work so I had to do everything myself amongst everything else in my's a disaster.  I am using one of FlyLady's key skills - I set my timer for 15 minutes to clean, and then I come back and work on this post for 15 minutes.  It keeps me from getting overwhelmed!

One of my Favorite Things... curling up on the couch by the fire with a hot cup of coffee and a good book. 

A Few Plans for the Week... this is actually the first week in October that we will be home for the entire week. Yes, it has been a crazy month.  I have piano lessons to teach today, tomorrow and Wednesday, worship team practice on Thursday evening (I play keyboard at church two Sunday's of the month), we help out with our church youth group Friday nights..ummm what else.  Tonight is Date Night with our Young Married's bible study.  We do a potluck dinner and just hang out and enjoy each other's company.  Oh! And Wednesday night we kick off our Coffee Cart ministry with the Youth group! We've been donated all the coffee we need from Van Houtte and a big gazebo from Canadian cool! We're setting up right here on the North Shore in Kamloops - we want to reach the people right here in our's praying for some good witnessing opportunities!

Some Pictures I'm Sharing...
The best way to relax - sitting around the campfire with a good book, a warm cup of coffee and my leopard print slippers!

One of the many waterfalls in Wells Gray National Park - if you've never been to beautiful British Columbia you're missing out!
I know it's a bad picture but this is one of our youth getting baptized in the freezing cold river! Woooooo! These are the moments that make hanging out with 30 screaming teenagers every Friday night bearable.

The Simple Woman's Daybook is a journal outline for women to take a moment out of our busy day to focus on the simple, beautiful things we're blessed with in everyday living.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Menu-plan Monday

Ok, I am a huuuuuuuuuge advocate for menu planning. Like life-saver 3000. No. kidding. Yeah it's a bit of a pain to sit down and think of things to eat for a week. But just imagine - you don't actually have to think about it again for 7 days! Wooooohoooooo!

Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie has this awesome linky party called Menu-Plan Monday and I am jumpin in with both feet....both of them.

Here goes:

Monday: homemade Turkey soup (mostly leftovers!)

Tuesday: Orange Sesame Cod (caught by my dearest) w/ fresh green beans and rice
        ***this recipe is from the Saving Dinner Low-Carb Menu mailer.  I highly suggest checkin this service out.  Leanne makes the menu AND GROCERY LIST for you.  Doesn't get better than that!

Wednesday: Black Bean Vegetable Soup and probably some buns if I get around to making some.  If you cut back the broth on this recipe and add some ground beef it would make a reeeealllly good chili.

Thursday - Sunday:  We are in the bush hunting some tasty meat so I am cooking from the camper.  Our meals will include chili and buns, homemade hamburger helper, leftover soup, and a roast cooked in a pit in the ground!

The Crazy Cycle

You know that moment when you're standing toe to toe with your dearest - he is being so unloving and refuses to hear you out - and all you want to do is wrap both hands around his scrawny neck and squeeeeeeeeeeeeze?  But instead of squeezing, you repeat all the reasons you're right, over and over and over and over again, with as many different wordings that you can come up with.

And where do you get?        NOWHERE

 My friend, I'd like to inform you that in that moment, you are on the Crazy Cycle.

We've been watching a series of video's with our Young Married's bible study by Emerson Eggerichs called the Love and Respect Conference.  And man is it good.  It's one of those, slap ya in the face, spin ya around and make you look at everything from a completely different perspective.......your husband's. Who knew.

The Crazy Cycle is negative emotions feeding negative emotions.  Men thrive on respect.  This should not be a surprise.  And women, we thrive on love.  But when a man acts unloving toward his wife, how does she often react? DISRESPECTFUL.  And when a man feels disrespected by his wife, how does he act? UNLOVING.  Do you see the Crazy Cycle?! It's easy to see, but so much harder to get off! Here's a perfect example.

We watched the last session tonight and what really hit me was this:

The real relationship is between us, as individuals, and our Lord.  And for a small fraction of eternity, our spouse passes between us and God.  For that short time, my reverance to God will spill over to my husband. The example Emerson uses is to imagine God standing behind your spouse, saying "Don't worry about Joe, focus on Me. Show reverence to Me.  Let Joe go, love and respect Me." When we are focussed on being one with Christ, he will give us the strength to love our spouse for who God made them to be, thick skull and all.

This Conference opened my eyes to so many things.  It is an amazing video series. Emerson is sooo sooooo easy to listen to...and really funny! I totally recommend it for watching with a close-knit small group.  It's for young-married's like us and for old-marrieds too! Please take a minute and look into it. Read some his articles.  You won't regret it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

TWO painted pails and some burnt carpet

Yikes, it has been a craaaaaazy busy Thanksgiving holiday for us up here in Canada.  It was more like Thanksgiving two weeks.  We spent over 18 hours on the road!

Anyway, I haven't had much time to do anything but pack and unpack my suitcase over and over again.  We got back on Monday with just enough time to throw on dress clothes and make it to Thanksgiving dinner with our Bible study, my in-laws came on Thursday (yesterday) for the night, and now I'm supposed to be packing again for a youth retreat at Clearwater Bible camp this weekend.  Needless to say, I am NOT prepared for sleeping in a cabin with screaming teenage girls.

On the upside, I got my "ash" pail painted!  On the downside, it burned a nice patch on my living room carpet.  Guess we gotta make sure it stays on the hearth from now on!  Maybe now I can get the hardwood flooring of my dreams! For now the fireplace tools cover it very nicely. You can check out what I used to make them here.

I was over at My Repurposed Life and I found Gail's fireplace makeover which I LOVE.  Now that you've seen the beast of a fireplace that we have, here's the question - can you picture a white or antique white facade in my living room? I think it would really brighten up our space!

Gail's beautiful new fireplace
My dark, old fireplace

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Painted pail

We heat our home solely by wood heat - looooooove - wouldn't trade it for anything. The only downside being the perpetual trail of bark and sawdust that runs from our backdoor through the kitchen and into the living room.  That and the ash that seems to get everywhere. Still wouldn't trade it for anything.

For the last year we've been using old plastic pails to hold our kindling and ash.  Ugh.  Double ugh.  What made them worse is that they're old Kirkland washing detergent pails....not just plain white ones.  I've been dying to find an inexpensive replacement for them...and STAT.  Unfortunately, in our area of town gorgeous antique metal pails are few and far between.  The Horse Barn (store) didn't even have any!  I finally found some galvanized pails at Wholesale sports for a whopping $13 each.  Call me cheap but that is waaay more than I was hoping to pay but I just couldn't look at those plastic pails for another season.  Soooo I splurged.

Ugggggggly plastic pail :(
Shiny new pail!

For the record, it took me longer to get the huge label off of them than it did to finish painting them.  Pain in the you-know-where.

Anywho, I noticed my can of Rustoleum flat black said NO GALVANIZED STEEL. Bummer.  My can of Zinnser Bulls-Eye primer did not. Sooooo  after a quick scuff with some 220 grit sandpaper  I did a light coat of primer followed by a couple light coats of my loverly flat black. 

I'm somewhat new to the spraypaint biz, so I guess I'll wait and find out why I'm not supposed to use Rustoleum on galvanized steel....unless someone already knows and would be willing to share!

Unfortunately I ran out of black before I got around to the other pail.....possibly 'cause I was painting some cute little lamps I found.....

Then I got out my awesome Silhouette machine and made some gorgeous lettering .....IN MY DREAMS.

Um, actually I took a pencil and roughed in some not cool...or perfect.  Then I got my trusty paintbrush and filled them in with some antique white acrylic...from the doller store...woo.

I think it dresses things up a bit, don't you? Just try and imagine one on the left hand side that says "ash"!

I'm linkin up to Gail's Catch-as-Catch-Can party at My Repurposed Life!

Friday, October 1, 2010

12 New Things - Bedside Table

Hey ya'll! Remember Sarah Mae's idea of learning 12 New Things?  Well my first month is up and my new thing for September is a goodwill transformation.  Sarah has had a really crazy month and hasn't posted the link up yet, but I figured I might as well post my little project anyway.  I will link up when she does!

My hubby found this loverly little end table...thingy....on the side of the road and brought it home for me! It wasn't exactly what I had in mind for our guest room but it was FREE! 

The top had some pretty good water marks and the "wood" was peeling off in a few places too.

Flash was on in this pic....that's why it looks so much lighter....

This beast was that lovely wood-grain laminate so I gave it a REALLY good sanding with some 220 grit paper.  I've read that some people had trouble getting the paint to adhere so I wanted to make sure mine turned out the first time!

Then I gave it a reaaaaallly good coat of Zinsser Bullseye primer.  This helps the paint to adhere to the cabinet.

When that was dry, I gave it three LIGHT coats of Rustoleum flat black....cause I loooooove all things flat black.  From what I've read, things go a lot better if you do lots of light coats instead of one really heavy one. I also used some leftover nickel spray paint to paint the hinges and handles.

And that's it! I have a feeling I should have done a coat of Minwax to protect it...but I was impatient and wanted to get it into our guest room so I guess we'll see how long it lasts!

Oh and yes, that IS a plastic covering on that lamp shade. That is one of the little lamps I picked up at the thrift store sans light shade so I'm trying out one I found at Wal-mart. I can't decide if it's the right size...too big? Maybe?  Help!

I'm also linking up to Thrifty Decor Chick's Before and After Party