Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Beauty in the Small Things

Our challenge this week for the Make Your Home a Haven series at The Homespun Heart was to add beauty to our homes.  This was quite simple as I had just returned from Trader Joe's with two beautiful and inexpensive bouquets of spring flowers.

I had also just put out some of my spring decor:
I got to thinking about what truly makes a home beautiful.  My definition of beauty is probably very different from yours.There are so many TV shows, magazines and blogs dedicated to "beautiful homes."  Don't get me wrong - I watch them and read them in search of inspiration but I do not let them define what makes my home beautiful.  You see, by modern standards, my home is incredibly small for 6 people.  I am okay with that.   Our furniture is old and quite worn out from the abuse of four children and many pets through the years.  I am okay with that.  The things I use to decorate with are very inexpensive.  I am okay with that.  Our house is lived in  . . . it is quite used.  I am okay with that.  So, when thinking about the beauty in our home, I decided carry my camera thoughout the day to capture what I see as beauiful.  You may or may not agree, but I am okay with that :) 

My children had the day off and they built a fort, played with their dolls and made crafts in the living room.  Do not get me wrong - I shudder when they start to pull everything out at once but they had FUN today.  They barely argued for several hours and I was able to happily cook and bake for them. That is beauty in my home.
Later in the morning, we went out to play and enjoy the beautiful weather.  I found my 3 year old proudly  picking flowers  . . . in her pink cowboy boots.  That is beauty in my home.

The beds were made today. The rest of the room may have been messy but there is something about a made bed that makes things right.   (And I am sure some will notice that the bedspread does not coordinate with the wall colors.  I am okay with that.)  That is beauty in my home.

When someone shows appreciation for something I did for them like making some yummy granola .  That is beauty in my home.

Homemade birdfeeeders.  That is beauty in my home.
My beautiful and favorite rosary beads at my bedside.  That is beauty in my home.
Being forunate enough to be surrounded by good literature and people who appreciate it.  That is beauty in my home.
Photographs and memories  . . . and lots of them.   That is beauty in my home.
And a few reminders of those incredibly special people who passed before us.  That is is beauty in my home.
I am thankful for having the opportunity to reflect on my abundant blessings today.  I am so grateful that I took the time to appreciate the beauty in this day . . . the day was calm and I was intentional.  Where did you find beauty in your home today?

Don't forget to join Heavenly Homemakers every Tuesday for Gratituesday and count your blessings!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Menu Plan for the Week of 3/28/10

Holy Week is upon us so I looked for some simple meals out of Cheap Fast Good I love to use this cookbook when I have an unusually busy week.  I want to spend Holy Week (which is also Spring Break for my girls) enjoying time with my family, attending Mass, and spending some quiet time in prayer.  I have planned some crafts and recipes to coincide with each day of Holy Week.  I saw some great ideas at Catholic Icing!   In addition to our regular meals, we will be making soft pretzels, hot cross buns, crowns of thorns, and Resurrection rolls.  Here is what you find on our dinner table this week:

Sunday: Steak, steamed broccoli

Monday:  Garlic lime chicken, jasmati rice, raw vege tray

Tuesday:  Swedish meatballs, baked apples

Wednesday:  Mini ravioli soup, homemade dinner rolls

Thursday:  Chicken and rice casserole, steamed broccoli

Friday:  Wild rice soup, raw vege tray

Saturday:  It is going to be a beautiful day BBQ:  burgers, baked sweet potatoes, baked beans, pickles

Check out tons of great menus and recipes each week at Menu Plan Monday with the Organizing Junkie.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring Cleaning and Dreaming of My Summer Garden

It is been a while since my last post - I have been busy spring cleaning!  I am really enjoying the reward of a less cluttered home since I have been participating in the 40 bags in 40 Days challenge at Faith and Family.

I also recently had the opportunity to attend our local Farm to Table Conference.  It was a great day!  I was able to find some great local and organic sources of meat, dairy, and whole grains.  I attended a discussion on fermentation and I am looking forward to trying my hand at fermented saurkraut and carrots.

While browsing in the Exhibitor Hall, I met organic gardener and author, Doug Oster.  I purchased his brand new book, Tomato Garlic Basil: The Simple Pleasures of Growing and Cooking Your  Garden's Most Versatile VegesI taste tasted his sauce recipe. . . unbelievable!  He told me that while dining with his wife in Italy, she began to cry after tasting this sauce.  It was exactly like that her grandmother used to make.  He shares this recipe in the first chapter of this wonderful book filled wtih stories, tips, and recipes.  I highly recommend it!

  As the weather starts getting gradually warmer, I am dreaming of my summer garden.  I like to plant lettuce tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and LOTS of herbs.  I pulled out Mr. Oster's other book, Grow Organic: Over 250 Tips and Ideas for Growing Flowers, Veggies, Lawns and More, to get inspired.  I am really looking forward to the warmth and ease of summer! 

For now, I have to be happy with my small herb garden in my window . . . at least until May.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The corned beef and cabbage have been cooking in the crock pot all day . . . I wish you could smell it . . . sooooo good! We took a break this afternoon and enjoyed a St. Patrick's fruit tray (I found this cute idea in Family Fun Magazine) filled with strawberries, clementines, green grapes, pineapple, blueberries, red grapes, and a pot of golden bananas:And a marshmallow cloud:
It did not last very long!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Decorating for St. Patrick's Day

We are seeing a lot of green around here lately, and I am not just talking about the grass under the melting snow! St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays! Here is a peek at some of our decorations:

The Irish Blessing hangs by our front door year round:

I love to collect all things shamrock. Here is my Irish tea set:
A beautiful statue of the Blessed Mother adorned with shamrocks:
And my wedding veil with shamrock appliques. I did this in memory of my wonderful grandmother who was so very proud of her Irish heritage. I hope my girls will wear this veil some day!
We will be wearing lots of green and enjoying corned beef and cabbage, a rainbow fruit tray, and sweet shamrock pretzels tomorrow. How will you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Menu Plan for the Week of 3/14/10

Spring is in the air and my menu is staring to lighten up a bit. We will have some fun with St. Patrick's Day this week with corned beef and cabbage, a rainbow fruit platter, and sweet shamrock pretzels. St. Pat's is one of my favorite holidays - it is a wonderful day to honor and remember my sweet Irish grandmother. Just like my "Bana" (as I always lovingly called her), I love to collect all things shamrock. I will post some our favorite shamrock decorations tomorrow!

Here is what you will find on our dinner table this week:

Sunday: Beef pasties, baked beans

Monday: Baked lemon chicken, herbed rice, steamed broccoli, chocolate bread pudding

Tuesday: Cheese tortellini soup, homemade dinner rolls

Wednesday: Crock pot corned beef and cabbage, rainbow fruit platter, sweet shamrock pretzels

Thursday: Peanutty sesame noodles

Friday: Spinach ricotta calzones, vegetable tray with dip

Saturday: Bacon wrapped chicken, baked sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli

**If you want the recipes to anything on my weekly menu, please leave me a comment :)

Join the Organizing Junkie at every Monday for Menu Plan Monday and lots of great recipes and ideas for your weekly menu plan!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

An Enchanted Fairy Garden Birthday

We recently celebrated our first baby's 7th birthday. All of a sudden she seems like such a big girl! That day, I made her classmates our favorite chocolate angel food cake cupcakes for her birthday snack. I promise to post the recipe soon!

We also celebrated as a family that evening starting with her favorite meatless dinner of stuffed shells and salad (it was a Friday night during Lent). I was searching for a while for an appropriate seven year old birthday theme when I received this month's issue of Family Fun. As soon as I saw the cake, I knew this would be perfect . . . An Enchanted Fairy Garden:

I knew she would love this theme because we really enjoyed painting and planting our Wee Enchanted Garden this past summer: I borrowed the gnome from the garden and he made an appearance on the cake. Otherwise, everything else was edible from the houses to the mushrooms! I chose to decorate the table with pink and green items I was able to find at the dollar store.

Topped off with some balloons (also from the dollar store): A great time was had by all, especially our sweet birthday girl!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Menu Plan for the Week of 3/07/10 - Cooking With Trader Joe's

I am on the menu planning wagon after having some problems with my back last week. I am feeling much better so I am spring cleaning and cooking up a storm!

I recently ventured to Trader Joe's and created a about two weeks worth of menus. Everything has been really good! When I want to simplify my menu planning on a given week, I pull out ONE cookbook and create all of our meals from it. This really helps on particularly busy week. I used Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's by Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati to create some easy meals.

After a successful trip to T.J.'s, here is what I am cooking:

Italian Wedding Soup
Peanut Sesame Noodles
Creamy Lemony Linguine
Brown Rice Pasta Alla Checca
Spinach Ricotta Calzones
Blue Corn Taco Salads
Chicken and Eggplant Bake
Chocolate Bread Pudding

Join the Organizing Junkie at every Monday for Menu Plan Monday and lots of great ideas for your weekly menu plan!