Saturday, August 19, 2017

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

51lSPBp-ryL._SX425_:: World’s Best Dishcloths. My mom put me onto these, and since I had a house-warming gift card to spend, I went ahead and bought a six pack. I love them! I ditched everything else I had in my kitchen – even my homemade ones! I still change them frequently, but they don’t stink as often. They are soft, sized right, and do the job well! 

IMG_5655:: Chore Charts. We are finally settled enough to establish some regular chores. I revamped the chore charts in my scrapbooking program, and the kids have done well staying on track. I am also enjoying the extra help of my now-much-bigger-little-people. Elaine washes the breakfast dishes and sweeps the back porch. (We live on three levels and have lots of drains…so if they’re not kept clean we’ll have a plumbing bill!) Nolan sorts the recycling for me and keeps the front patio in order. Liberty is fantastic at organizing the mudroom, and Nehemiah is learning to vacuum the steps! It’s worth teaching your kids to do chores!

:: My house! So many of my “favorite things” are part of my new home. It was a long wait, and it seemed like a longer renovation, but it is so nice to finally be in and settling down. As I go through my days and tasks and to-do lists, I will walk into a different room and think “this is my favorite part of the house.” But then I move on to the next room or task, and change my mind! I have a brand new bathroom that makes me smile each time I walk in (complete with pump-handle faucet – my one “I definitely want this” request). I love the colors in the master bedroom, and I smile at all the girly-ness of Elaine and Liberty’s room. It just really came together perfectly. The linen closet in the high-ceilinged hallway holds everything with space to spare. The crown molding and contrasting ceiling along with the triple window and my family pictures mean I love my living room. I have a homeschool cabinet now and can hardly wait to start school in a couple of weeks. My kitchen is big and spacious and well-organized. I got to pick out the appliances and they are just right. Even doing laundry in an unfinished basement is fun…because the machines were God’s provision, my dads helped prepare the space, and Ben got it all hooked up. And I don’t need any quarters. It’s definitely a favorite spot! So…yeah…I love my house, and my hubby who has worked tirelessly since June to make it so wonderful! (89 year old houses take a lot of work to fix up!)

If you’re curious, and can stand a super-noisy quick video tour of an unfinished house that I didn’t even picture-proof, click here for upstairs and here for downstairs.

:: Instant Pot. I have been noticing these on social media a lot. My curiosity was piqued, but not enough to drop $100+ on one. However, they were on a good sale for Amazon Prime Day, and I had enough points to get it free. So far I’ve done hard boiled eggs, chicken, potatoes, rice (love it for that – not as sticky as a rice cooker), and pinto beans. It is definitely fast, but it is also bulky. I love that I can cook a big bag of beans effortlessly, and with much less cleanup than on the stove. I’m not sure if it’s a “favorite” thing yet, but it’s getting there!

:: Nalgene Grip N Gulp water bottles. We stopped in to see the Neiners’ in Iowa at the beginning of deputation, and each of their kids had one of these bottles. I ordered one for each of our kids because they raved about the bottles so much. We have lost two after three years of deputation (go figure!) and one finally cracked…probably from falling out of the van so often. Seriously, these are leak-proof and the best waterbottle/sippy cup we’ve ever used for the kids! They have a removable sipper so the bigger kids can drink easier. They survived years of constant use and abuse on deputation, and they’re still going strong!

416nes2Z6tL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_:: Unseen Book. Sara Hagerty’s new book releases on August 29th. I was blessed to be included in a pre-release version of the book. It’s been so good! Expect a review to come soon. It’s too much to write here, and I’m still chewing on the depth of its message.

:: Local Library. Something you all can’t enjoy with me…but for a big city library, our local branch definitely has a small town feel. Reminds of the Smoky Hill library in Aurora where I grew up. The staff are learning our names and recognize us when we come in. I guess walking in with five kids kinda makes you stick out. It’s small enough to be manageable. They ran a great library program on their own – apart from the New York Public Library. They have donated books to the kids that they were getting rid of. I just really like going there!

:: Grilling. We bought a grill as a belated Mother’s Day/Father’s Day present as soon as we closed on the house. We have used it a ton! We have never lived somewhere where we could own or use a grill, so it’s been very exciting! I’ve been experimenting with some veggies on the grill, and these Zucchini Spears from the Pioneer Woman were a big hit (for Mom & Dad anyway).

:: The Cup Board.  Not cupboard.  Cup Board.  We have a little board (right now its a piece of cardboard, but someday I hope for one more permanent) with the kids’ initials on it.  After each meal they place their glass or cup on the board over their initial.  They reuse the cup for the entire day, unless we have had milk to drink.  I don’t have a dishwasher and this saves me from washing 15+ glasses every day.  I just wash them after dinner.  The kids can reach their cup and get a drink if needed during the day.  I think I saw a version of this on Pinterest a while ago.  Best idea ever.

IMG_5594     IMG_5595

Friday, August 11, 2017

Swedish Meatballs Recipe and more

One of our favorite meals has become Swedish Meatballs.  Honestly…I was never a meatball person.  So I never really cooked them for my family.  But in January we joined BJ’s and I found that a big bag of meatballs was really cheap.  So I started searching Pinterest for recipes, and experimenting on my family. And I found that the kids really like meatballs!  They especially like Swedish meatballs, though I usually take the big bag and make one meal of Swedish Meatballs and one meal of Honey Garlic Meatballs.  So we have Swedish Meatballs night and it’s everyone’s favorite.  There are never any leftovers!  And we really haven’t gotten past those two recipes yet because we like them so much! 

These are the original recipes that I found:

But of course… I have tweaked them to be a little more my style.

IMG_5576Swedish Meatballs

  • 1 can cream mushroom soup
  • 1 can (15 oz.) beef broth (close enough to 2 cups, and uses the whole can so there’s no leftovers)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestshire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. steak sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • dash pepper
  • 2.5 pounds meatballs (original recipe called for 28 ounce bag…I use half of my BJ’s bag)
  • 1 cup sour cream

Place all ingredients from mushroom soup to pepper in slower cooker and stir to combine.  Add meatballs and stir to coat all meatballs with the sauce.  Cook on low for 4 hours.  Remove meatballs to a bowl.  Add sour cream to sauce in slow cooker and whisk to combine well.  You could also transfer the sour cream and the sauce to a skillet and heat on medium to thicken, but I don’t like the extra dishes.  {wink}  Pour sauce over meatballs and serve over egg noodles.  (I cook up about 3/4 a bag of egg noodles).  Watch them disappear!

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Meatballs

(I have adapted the original recipe ingredients to make a bigger portion)

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 40 ounces (2.5 pounds) frozen meatballs.  (I get the Italian style meatballs at BJs)

Place all ingredients except meatballs into slow cooker and whisk to combine.  Hint – spray the measuring cup with cooking spray before measuring the honey and it will slide right out with much less mess!  Add meatballs and stir to coat.  Cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.  Serve over rice.