Thursday, April 30, 2009

Seeing the beauty in every day...


One of the things I've tried to do with my children is to teach them that there is beauty all around us, if we will just slow down enough to see it. Imagine my surprise when I uploaded pictures to my computer and found these sweet little pictures among my more mundane ones. The bright yellow finch is eye-catching, but they also saw the little brown one, too. Notice how little they are, using the ice-cream stick as a measure of scale. They're just tiny.


Apparently, Valiant and Buttercup spied these little beauties outside our kitchen window when Valiant was making breakfast for us all. They were struck by their beauty and ran to get the camera. No, their pictures weren't the best quality, but so what? I was so touched that they wanted to be sure I saw the little birds. My children remind me to slow down and I pass the reminder along to you.


So, from my children to your heart: Don't forget to see the beauty in your everyday lives...it is there, you just need to be open to it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Finally, Work-in-Progress Wednesday...


Well, I've finally started work on the cushion covers for the cushions that sit on my dining room chairs. In addition to going with a wild-for-me fabric, I've also decided to make slipcovers rather than just covering the cushions. I really want to be able to wash the covers instead of washing the entire cushion (which didn't work very well...my cushions are really badly stained). I decided to be brave and go with zippers rather than velcro for the openings, so by the time I'm done will all eight cushions, I'll have put in 12 zippers. I wonder if I'll consider myself competent at zipper installation by that point, because I sure stink at it now.


Also, I do have to wonder how long it is going to take me, given the kinds of help I am getting.

Burned stuff on your pan?


Valiant cooked breakfast for Buttercup and me this morning. He made scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese and English muffins. It was terrific. He's still learning, however, and I was left with egg burned on my pan. My dad taught me this easy peasy way to get burned on food off a pan without breaking your arm scrubbing.


All you do is take the pan in question, fill it with enough water to cover the burned on food, and sprinkle in a little (a tablespoon or so) dishwasher powder. Put the pan on the stove-top and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer for about a minute or so and turn the fire off. Then let the pan cool and hand-wash. The burned on stuff will come off easily, your scrubber will have a longer life, and doing the dishes won't make you crazy. (All because I listened to my dad, go figure!)

Making Your Own Home Fun...

One of my frugal blogs (I read a lot of them and I can't, for the life of me, find the blogger who had the link), had a link to a blog called A Mother in Israel. I thought it was an interesting connection/link for a frugal blogger and I clicked on over out of curiosity. Boy, am I glad I did. I really like the blog over all, but the post that it was originally linked to was fabulous. The topic of the blog post was Frugal Strategies for Young Families and it was terrific. One of the things that spoke to me was this: Make home a fun place to be. (Her entire post was fantastic...I urge you to check it out.)

Think about it...roll it around...do you find yourself heading out of the house for entertainment? Why? Shouldn't our homes be a source of entertainment as well as sheltering us? We know so many families that drop big dollars heading to the movie theater or restaurants, even as they worry about their financial situation. Despite having more entertainment possibilities than ever in our own homes, home doesn't seem to be the place to be. Why is that? (I don't know the answer...I'm thinking out loud here.)

When Amy at the Mother Load did a No-Spend Challenge a few months back, she quickly realized that she spent money as a form of entertainment...as she put it, her "social engagements revolved around spending money". When the Nagle5 embarked on the 30 Days of No Fast Food challenge, we quickly discovered that our fast-food habit was actually how we entertained ourselves when we got bored. Definitely not frugal, I can tell you that for sure.

So, what do you do to make your home fun? To make your home a desirable destination? You already know we have Game Night as a way to "stay in" and have our friends "stay in", but what else can we do to make home fun?

The American Homemaker did a "fast food night" at her house, dressing up the home-made stuff in fast-food like holders and paper wrappers and serving it in plastic baskets and disposabe cups. It turned out really well and I'll be her kids thought it was a treat even though it was the same food she always serves.


As for us, we're still working on it. One of the things we did was to buy a small fire pit last year when the home stores were clearing out their patio stuff to put the Christmas stuff in (in September!). Our thinking was, "Why wait until we're camping? Why can't we have fire-roasted hot dogs and s'mores at home? "Why can't we get all bundled up and head outside to enjoy the crisp nights of spring and fall?" No reason, really...we just have to think about it. I'm thinking of having a sleep-over in our trailer one night...the kids would think it was a great treat and I wouldn't be far from my shower. There are just so many ways we can make our homes fun, if we just start thinking about it.

So, what about you guys? Is there something you do to make your home fun? I need ideas.

A Disclaimer: I read a lot. I mean, seriously, a lot. Sometimes I don't remember where I read something or who got me to clicking on a link, but I know I didn't think of it on my own. So, if I mention something that I can't remember the source of and you know the source, please let me know...I really want to say thank-you.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So, I read a post the other day that has really kept me thinking...


Andrea, a mother of two adorable little girls, who blogs at The Train to Crazy, wrote a post she called The Myth of the Supermom. In this post, she talked about how reading people's blogs can make you feel inadequate, as if you should be doing more than you are because everyone else is. Maybe it is because I am WAY older than Andrea (go look at her pictures...seriously, I'm WAY older!), but her post made me sad inside. I've been thinking about it ever since. This is what I came up with:

1) I do tend to post positive things that happen in my life, but that is NOT to make other people feel they should be doing more. Instead, it is to help me keep focused on the positive in my life. Momstheword wrote a post a few weeks ago about how difficult it is to refrain from complaining, but how negatively our complaining affects our family members. That reminded me about a pastor of a church somewhere who'd had enough of all his congregants complaining and challenged them all to go two weeks without complaining. They all discovered it was really, really tough. Complaining had pervaded all aspects of their lives. I like to think people post positive things on their blogs because they are staying focused on the positive, even when the cat pooped on the carpet, the kids talked back, the bills are stressful, and the car broke down. Those things are all real, for all of us. I honestly don't think I've run across a bragging blogger who posts positive things to make themselves feel better than the rest of us (maybe I've been fortunate, maybe they're out there). As for me, I am so far from a Supermom that the idea is funny to me. As Andrea pointed out, no one is perfect. I'd hate to think my blog made anyone feel inadequate.

2) I also think that when people do post about difficulties they're facing, the bloggy world is full of truly caring, helpful people who are willing to lend a supportive "ear" and some time-tested advice. I've never felt judged, nor have I seen anyone judge. Look at the power of blogging as it wraps loving arms around mother's of sick babies...have you ever seen anything like it? The bloggy world is an amazing "open-air" school, where you can learn how to deal with anything from overwhelming bills to a fussy baby to how to properly put in a zipper. How cool is that?

3) Finally, life is not a competition. We all have unique journeys filled with challenges that test us in different ways. We're also at different stages of life...some with no children, some with grandchildren, some with grown children, and some with children in the middle. Some have husbands, some don't. The list could go on. There is one thing that unites us: Bloggers truly enjoy sharing information, positive and negative, that they think other's might find meaningful, helpful, or entertaining. Some are trying to monetize their blogs, some are hoping to increase sales at an Etsy shop, and some just do it for fun. When I first started blogging, I wrote a post about why I decided to blog (you can read it here) and it was all about the generosity of the bloggers and how wonderful reading blogs had made me feel. I was looking for help with a sewing dilemma and there were tons of bloggers out there who'd generously taken the time to post tutorials on their blogs. I solved my problem, but I was also hooked!

So, if you're like Andrea and you feel badly when you read what other people are doing, please don't. I can guarantee you that none of the bloggers I "know" intend to send a message of inadequacy your way. None of us are Supermoms...I don't think any of us aspire to wear that title. Andrea, if you read this, I'll bet you didn't know just how powerful your post was and I hope you don't mind me commenting publicly on how it affected me. It just seems to me that women have forgotten how to be friends and we needs to relearn that amazing thing...we have so much to offer each other.

(Now I must go back to procrastinating over vacuuming and dusting...I'm sure there is something else I need to be doing that is more important that cleaning!)

Monday, April 27, 2009

I tweaked this recipe just a bit....


Yesterday I told you about this recipe from Rah Cha Chow in this post. I made them at the last minute for Game Night and had no cookies left! I decided to make them again, but to play with them a bit. The Easy Sugar Cookies are really good just the way they are, but I think I tweaked them just enough that they are a tiny bit better, if that is possible.

This is what I did: Instead of 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour called for in the original recipe, I divided it between all-purpose and whole wheat to make them a little more wholesome. I also added flax to pretend that cookies can be healthy and a little bit of cinnamon for a secret something. The preparation method was exactly the same. Superman said they were better (I didn't tell him about the flax. That will be our secret, okay?)

Erin's Version of Easy Sugar Cookies
adapted from Rah Cha Chow's recipe.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon cold milled flax
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon [I guessed...I just sprinkled cinnamon in the flour mixture.]
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract [I always use more than called for.]

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, flax, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. In two batches, blend in the dry ingredients. Just keep mixing...it will eventually turn into dough.

Bake 11-13 minutes in the preheated oven. I pulled mine out at 11:00 minutes because I like a chewy cookie...a little longer gives you a crisp cookie.

What do you think? Will Tracy's son over at Rah Cha Chow forgive me for messing with his recipe? Mrs. R happened to be over while I was pulling them out of the oven this afternoon and she was surprised at how much she liked them. She was even more surprised when I informed her they were half whole wheat and that I'd added flax. They seem so plain, but they are so good. No matter which version you make, you'll be happy you mad them.

Making Your Home Sing Monday - Hi Ho!

Can you believe it is Making Your Home Sing Monday again already? This time last week I was eagerly awaiting guests from across the country. The weekend had been spent getting the house in order so we'd have little to no housework during the week. Fast forward one week and...nothing much has been done since last weekend! Every room in my house needs to be vacuumed and dusted, bathrooms need to be scrubbed, floors need to be swept and mopped, menus need to be planned, the budget needs to be done for May, etc., etc., etc.

To put it bluntly, it is a back-to-work Monday for all of us here at the Nagle5 house. To that end, this week, our household will be cheerfully singing the song "Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to work we go!" as we go about putting everything back in order. We had a terrific time with our guests, we hosted Game Night on Saturday (to maintain our regular schedule) and we gave ourselves some downtime, but the tasks await.

All three bathrooms need to be properly cleaned (seriously!).

The kitchen, laundry room, and family room floors need to be swept and mopped.

The entire house must be dusted.

Buttercup's sheets need to be changed (I got ours and Valiant's done on Saturday).

I need to get the kids back on track with schooling...we didn't do a very good job last week, despite our good intentions.

Finally, if all goes well, I'd like to get the carpets cleaned (we have one of those Bissell upright carpet cleaners), but the weather doesn't seem to be cooperating, so we'll see. Also, the family room windows have an entire winter of dog slobber on them. Again, if the weather holds, I'll be out under the deck with vinegar and water and a lot of rags.


So, if you see a family of very tall dwarfs singing Hi-Ho in Eastern Washington, you'll know who it is!

To see what everyone else is doing for MYHSM, head on over to MomstheWord and check them out.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Paperback Swap is wonderful!


I love to read. Really, I love, love, love to read. If I have spare time, you will find me curled up with a book somewhere. I've been that way for as long as I can remember and, if given the opportunity, I could read a book a day. I don't like to spend a lot of money on books, though. I like used book bins at our library. In fact, I love our local library system...it is fantastic, but there are times I can't find what I'm looking for at the library and buying books at the bookstore is very expensive. That is where Paperback Swap (www.paperbackswap.com) comes in. Paperback Swap is an online resource that allows you to "trade" books with people all over the country. It is amazing.




This is how it works: You have ten books on your bookshelf that you're not reading and don't need to keep. They can be any genre and they don't have to be paperbacks. You list your books on your virtual "bookshelf" and immediately get two "credits" so you can get books yourself. (Listing your books is easy, too...they just ask you to type in the ISBN number which is above the UPC code and it recognizes your book.) Each book trades for a credit, so before even sending out a book, you have the opportunity to request two books be shipped to you. Every time a book of yours is requested, you print out a shipping label on your normal paper, use that label to wrap your book, tape it, put postage on it, and ship it out. You pay for the postage (media mail) to ship your books when they're requested, but you never pay to receive a book. Each time you ship a book, you get another credit to use for a book you wanted (remember, it is clearing out your bookshelf). It is that simple. When you receive books you've ordered, you acknowledge that it has been received and the sender gets their credit for shipping out a book to you. There is no fee for membership...the only thing you pay is postage on outgoing books, which gets you credits to request books. (If you're wondering, postage averages $2.23 for media mail...that means each credit costs me $2.23...far less than even the bargain table at the bookstore.). There are literally millions of books to choose from (3,370,751 when I last checked!).

When I first joined up, I got rid of cookbooks, romance novels, science fiction novels, whodunit novels, self-help novels, the works. Now I just repost books I've gotten from other swappers...it is great to have a revolving bookshelf. (When Charming signed up, he got rid of anime books...I think all of his were snapped up in 3 days!) You can even do books on tape. Also, they have a sister site for DVD swapping, too: Swap A DVD.

So, clear out some space in your house by getting rid of books you aren't reading by joining Paperback Swap. Oh, if you want any of my books, you can find me via a member search: 'thenagle5'!

More Baking than I'd Anticipated...

When Charming called to say he was bringing 3 friends to Game Night I wondered if I'd made enough food. I quickly decided I hadn't and decided to make these easy sugar cookies. Good thing I made that decision because he's obviously not taking math...three friends was actually FIVE friends. Fortunately, two of our regular guests brought a little bit of snack with them as well, so we were covered, but the cookies definitely got eaten - phew!

This is the quick and easy Sugar Cookie recipe I found earlier today(via Tastespotting) on Rah Cha Chow. Tracy swore it was easy and good and I'm seriously glad I bookmarked this recipe because it was one of those down and dirty things that used nothing exotic and turned out as well as I'd hoped. Hold on to this recipe for when you need to come up with something fast.

Easy Sugar Cookies - from Rah Cha Chow (who adapted it from Allrecipes)

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract [I always use more than called for.]

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. In two batches, blend in the dry ingredients. [Have faith, it will eventually all blend in, but at first you're seriously going to think you don't have enough liquid to make a dough. Just keep mixing.] Use a medium size Pampered Chef scoop to drop mounds of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 11-13 minutes in the preheated oven. I like mine chewy, so I pulled them out at 11:00 minutes...if you like yours more crisp, let them brown a little. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Game Night?! Already?

Well, yes...it is Saturday night and Charming will definitely be back for our regularly scheduled Game Night, and I've heard a rumor that the kids on the next block have been pestering their mom about it, too. So, even though we just had Game Night on Tuesday for LoveAphid and her posse (!), we're at it again.

While Superman was painting the fence out front (yes!) and Valiant was mowing the lawn, I was searching for recipe inspiration on Tastespotting.com. If you haven't discovered Tastespotting, you are missing something truly astounding...nothing but recipes all the time! Recipes for anything and everything - seriously. It describes itself as a "community driven visual potluck"! These are recipes from all over the world and range from plain cooking to down right exotic. Tonight's recipe was featured on Tastespotting, but comes to us from Dine and Dish. Just reading the name made me want to make it.


Irish Cream Bundt Cake - doesn't that sound divine? I quickly read through the recipe and thought, "Hey, I have everything I need to make this right now!".

Irish Cream Bundt Cake, as the name suggests, does require Irish Cream liqueur, which could be a problem as we don't drink much at all here at the Nagle5 News (causing issues when I see a promising recipe that calls for beer, but that is another post!), but I did happen to have some Irish Cream liqueur way back in the cabinet, so I thought I'd give this recipe a try. Think about it: The flavors of Irish Cream, Yellow Cake, and Vanilla Pudding in one cake? How can it NOT be good? (Note: I'm not making the glaze tonight because one of our Game Night regulars is expecting a baby so no alcohol for her...the alcohol content in the liqueur in the cake should be fine because it cooks away.)

Irish Cream Bundt Cake

SERVES 8

For Cake:
1 cup chopped pecans [You all know I omitted these, right?]
1 (18 1/2 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (3 1/2 ounce) package vanilla instant pudding mix
4 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup Irish Cream liqueur

For Glaze:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup Irish Cream liqueur

1. Preheat oven to 325°F (165°C).

2. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly over bottom of pan. [Again, I omitted this step.]

3. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Mix in eggs, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup oil and 3/4 cup Irish cream liqueur. Beat for 5 minutes at high speed.

4. Pour batter over nuts in pan. [Just poured batter into buttered/floured pan - no nuts!]

5. Bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto the serving dish.

To make the glaze: [Remember, in deference to a guest, I omitted the glaze and sprinkled with powdered sugar.]

In a saucepan, combine butter, 1/4 cup water and 1 cup sugar.
Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup Irish cream.

6. Prick top and sides of cake.

7. Spoon glaze over top and brush onto sides of cake.

8. Allow to absorb glaze repeat until all glaze is used up.

There you have it: Irish Cream Bundt Cake - really, really good and really, really easy. Superman and I agree that this is a cake with a taste grown-ups would absolutely love with a hot cup of tea or a good cup of coffee. Since there is a chill in the air tonight, we'll make certain we have plenty for our guests.

(Just got a call from Charming - he's bringing 3 people from his dorm...I'd better go make more food!)

I hope you all are having a terrific weekend.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Four Days of Guests and What I Learned...

First, let me be clear...we had a ball with LoveAphid, Fig, and Grandfather Sanders...it was a wonderful, wonderful visit. They arrived at our house at lunchtime on Monday and headed to the airport at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday evening, giving us a full three days together. I can honestly say, we've never had such a smooth visit with anybody. I'm convinced that it was because we, as the hosts, did a much better job of preparation and planning than we've ever done before. To that end, I thought I'd share with you the things I think made this visit so successful and not at all hectic or stressful.


Menu Planning and Preparation - I might not be good at regular weekly menu planning, but I put a lot of thought into the menu for this trip. Since our guests were staying in a motel close by, I didn't plan breakfast, but I planned lunch, dinner, dessert, and snacks. A few weeks before the visit, I asked LoveAphid if there were any food issues or desires she or the guys had. Once I knew about likes and dislikes, I went from there.

I planned sandwiches for our lunches and made sure I had luncheon meats, condiments, and other fixings. To lessen my pressure, I bought sandwich rolls from Costco rather than making a ton of rolls. We had a couple types of chips and tons of fruit (apples, oranges, and bananas). Tea and water were the drinks for the week. Easy peasy, but hearty and guilt-free.

I planned three dinners and had one of them pre-made in anticipation of a busy afternoon on museum day. On the first night Superman made daeji bulgogi (spicy Korean pork) and Tuesday afternoon I made fajitas with fresh tortilla chips. I had spaghetti and meat sauce prepared the week before so we could have a big spaghetti dinner with a nice salad and some of my cheese bread. All I did was pull the sauce out of the freezer before we headed to museum and it was ready to be used when we got home.

I also had the desserts pretty much done ahead of time, with the exception of Cheesecake Brownies (which we made Monday evening).

Putting thought and planning into the meals in advance of the visit freed us from the "where should we go out to eat this time"" or "what does everyone want for lunch/dinner?" dilemmas. I enjoyed eating at home rather than dealing with a lot of restaurant meals for a big crowd....and it saved everybody a lot of money.

Cleaning and NOT cleaning - I cleaned the house a lot before they arrived. I made sure we were dusted, vacuumed, and the works. Then, I let it go and did very little cleaning while they were here. Oh, I cleaned up after each meal and didn't let thinks pile up, but other than that, I completely let it go. A thorough cleaning ahead of time and letting go during the visit made me a better hostess, truly, and everyone felt completely at ease.

Scheduling - This should probably be called NOT scheduling. With meals planned, Game Night scheduled for Tuesday evening, and Wednesday afternoon dedicated to Museum day, I decided that was enough scheduling...I scheduled nothing for Monday afternoon, Tuesday before Game Night, Wednesday evening, or Thursday day before they left. That left us free to go with the flow...video games could last as long as they wanted, a trip to Target or a cool fabric store was not a problem, and the kids could still play outside with their friends, etc. Having a few things scheduled gave us a loose framework, but nothing that made the time hectic. Scheduled free time was the perfect thing to counterbalance the scheduled activities.

All in all, I truly don't think we could have had a better visit. The tears in my eyes when we said good-bye, the kids saying, "I'm going to miss them a lot!", and Superman saying, "That was a really great time!" all show just what a terrific time we had.

So, LoveAphid and Fig, we have just one question: When are you coming back?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Friday Photo Flashback...

Friday Photo Flashback
Maybe it is because LoveAphid brought me quite a few pictures from my early childhood that I'd never seen or maybe it is just a terrific meme, but I've jumped onto Alicia's Friday Photo Flashback this week. What a terrific way to revisit your old photos (mine are from way before the digital age, that's for certain).


This is a picture of me taken in the First Class bar on the upper deck of a 747...every summer for a few years I headed to New York for a week or two to be with my birth father and his family. I think I was almost 8 in this picture.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Good Friends...

One of the things I tried to schedule for this visit with LoveAphid and her family was a mid-week Game Night. Due to the timing of their trip, they are missing normal Saturday night Game Night. I was worried that people wouldn't be able to come, however, because Tuesday night is a work-night/school-night and people have lives of their own. I shouldn't have been worried. My friends turned out to welcome my family and we all had a terrific time. Now that we've lived here for almost four years, we feel like we're connected and sharing the connections we've made was wonderful.
One raucus game of Pictionary and a ton of good food later, a fun time was had by all.

So, thanks to my friends for making our visiting family feel so welcomed...and helping to create another patchwork in the quilt of memories. We're blessed to know you.

Administrative Professionals Day...

Years and years ago, I wore a different hat. I worked for 20 years in Corporate America where I started as a "lowly" receptionist and went up through the ranks to become a generously paid Executive Assistant at a Fortune 100 firm. The truth of the matter, however, was that my title was irrelevant. My job was simply to make things run smoothly. A wise woman I worked for at my first office job (27 years ago!) named Mary Gonzales taught me that the receptionist was an important person. Whether answering the phones or greeting a walk-in client, the receptionist was the face of the corporation the client meets. To that end, she expected me to be friendly, professional, and helpful because that is what she how she wanted our customers to perceive our company. It was my first real education in the power of first-impressions and it stuck with me from that point forward and I kept it in mind, no matter what job title I held. (I wasn't always part of the administrative staff, either, but it was honestly my favorite type of job, even if it wasn't prestigious.) Now, unfortunately, we consider these jobs even less worthwhile than ever. In an era of text messaging and email messages, we're losing that opportunity to be solicitous. In fact, in Superman's large-sized firm, he could only think of 5 Administrative Assistants in the whole company. He appreciates these women tremendously and when I noted it was "Secretary's Day" (as it used to be called), I asked him if he'd like to take some token to them to let them know he appreciates their help (from setting up conferences to making travel arrangements), he was enthusiastic, but wanted me to remember they don't work for him directly, they just help out (see, there is that helping thing again!). It seems to me that saying, "Thank you, I appreciate what you do for me," is never inappropriate or out of fashion.

So, today five admins at Superman's firm got giant cupcakes! (You can't tell, but these are huge...you only get 12 cupcakes from a box of cake mix.) How fun is that?

P.S. I heard from Superman that the ladies loved them and were so touched to be remembered. How perfect is that?

Making Connections...

One of the nicest things about connecting (re-connecting or whatever) with family is watching the kids welcome new-to-them members of the family and watching those same new members of the family get to see and know your children as they really are, rather than perfect-picture children from holiday cards.

Having visitors for more than two hours, kids quickly revert to being who they are. (I think there is a time limit on "company" manners, don't you?) From Buttercup saying, "Can I go play outside?" to Valiant saying to Aunt Katie, "Show me how to crochet?", the kids are just being who they are, rather than "trying to be good". (No, Valiant doesn't do needle craft, but he has a curious mind and wants to know how these things work.)

Our visit has not been about finding the tourist spots of our new town to show our new-again family. Instead it has been about finding each other and making connections. The buildings will be here the next time...the connections are what matters this time around.



Finally, it is super nice when the "company" stops feeling like company. Uncle Fig graded physics tests and Grandfather Sanders wrestled with a Sudoku puzzle all afternoon. Pretty normal, pretty cool.

We're off to the museum today for Museum Day with the homeschoolers. More in the life of the Nagles...how fun is that?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday, Tuesday, Touch Your Shoe Day...

We'll it is Tuesday and we're smack-dab in the middle of our family visit with our family from across the country: my sister, LoveAphid, her husband Fig, and her dad. Superman has had to work (despite his plans to take a vacation) because of unforeseen events at work, but still, we're having a ball. Monday was spent "getting to know you" and showing them around the Nagle5 household. We had Daeji Bulgogi courtesy of Superman and had Cheesecake Brownies for dessert.

Tuesday is going to see us getting out a bit. LoveAphid is teaching Buttercup to crochet, so we'll need to get a crocheting needle and some yarn. I suspect Valiant is going to be challenging Fig to more Halo. Maybe we'll go bowling or go to a park or just head back home for fun...we'll see...it is all open.

Somewhere in the afternoon we'll be making some gigantic cupcakes for Adminstrative Assitant Day...Superman needs five and we can always find someone else to eat the rest! (I'll post pictures when we're done with them.)

For dinner we're having fajitas with my home-made refried beans and home-made tortilla chips. I love home-made tortilla chips and I thought I'd remind you how to make them, just in case you've never done it. It is a bit messy, but well-worth your effort. They can't be more simple: You simply cut corn tortillas into six triangles (or you can use metal cookie cutters to make them into seasonal shapes...last night, I stuck with traditional) and fry them up in small batches. Then you drain them (I use paper towels on top of brown paper grocery bags), salt them, and serve them. They are soooo good. Serve them warm with guacamole and your favorite salsa.

Finally, we're ending up the evening with a mid-week Game Night so LoveAphid and Fig can get the whole effect. Isn't it nice of our friends to venture out on a busy week-night? We're so blessed!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Same recipe, without the glaze...


I made this recipe again, but I didn't make the glaze. I like it a lot without the glaze (the glaze was just too sweet for me).

Bananas and Cream Bundt Cake
Taste Of Home

Ingredients:

1/3 cup shortening
1-1/4 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
3/4 cup chopped walnuts


Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add bananas and mix well.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with sour cream, stirring just until combined. Stir in walnuts.

Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan.

Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar.

Yield: 12-16 servings.

Look what was just outside our backyard yesterday...

We heard a weird noise at dinner time last time and stepped out onto the deck to see this:



First words out of Buttercup's mouth? "Oh, I want to do that, Daddy!" First thought that crossed my mind, "Not on my watch, Babycakes!"


Yep, the littlest Nagle is the risk-taker in the family. Probably explains why she's had more broken bones and stitches than her older brothers. Sigh.

Making Your Home Sing Monday -

I cannot believe it already Monday again! Where does the time go? It is already time for Making Your Home Sing Monday, hosted by Momstheword.


This Monday the Nagle5 household will be having visitors from across the country. LoveAphid and her husband and her dad will be here in Eastern Washington to visit the Nagle5 (probably because she wants to give us something actually newsworth at Nagle5 News!). As we eagerly anticipate the arrival of our guests (who will be staying in a local motel but spending their waking hours with us), we've been trying to think of the things that make it fun to visit someone's home. We've come up with a warm welcome, plentiful food, and a relaxed schedule.

The warm welcome is assured. The kids are really excited. But we want our house to be welcoming, too, without it be stiff and awkward and uncomfortable. To that end, we've spent the past week preparing for this auspicious occasion.

We homeschool and the two youngest Nagles will still have school work to do, but a little less than normal and they're ready for it--we've discussed parental expectations and made sure their work is all ready for them. (Besides, LoveAphid's husband is a physics teacher, if need be, we'll slip in an impromptu science lesson and call it good!)

The house is as clean as it is going to get. Yep, you heard me right...if it is not clean now, it probably won't be cleaned during this week. Oh, dishes will continue to get done, laundry still runs through its cycle, but dusting, mopping, and vacuuming will be on a only-if-some-one-spills-something horrendous basis.

The menu is planned - seriously! I hit Costco Sunday to make certain we had everything we need. We're having sandwiches for lunch all three days, we're having Korean barbecue (made by Superman) Monday, spaghetti and cheese bread Tuesday, and Fajitas Wednesday. We have plenty of fresh fruit for snacks, too. No stress, no worries...the meals are in the bag. Even desserts are on the menu and ready to be made.

We want to participate in this vacation, not stress over it, so a little preplanning has gone a long way. With all the "thinking" chores out of the way, we can just go with the flow. We've scheduled a mid-week Game Night, so our friends and family can all get together to put names to faces. We're still doing museum day on Wednesday, which is cool because the MAC still has the quilt exhibit that LoveAphid was dying to see. We're even toying with a roller skating outing. The weather is cooperating and we'll get some beautiful spring days. I think of it as LoveAphid and her husband getting to live the Nagle5 lifestyle for a few days.

My point is simply that we're done...we're done prepping, we're done worrying, we're done cleaning. Now, we're going to just visit. It seems to me that if we're not careful, we get so caught up in preparing, planning, supervising, and the like, that we forget to live. We forget to be fully present in our lives. Yes, there are tons of things that we need to get done, but life is to be lived.

So, the Nagle5 House is in a happy, excited, what will be, will be place this week. We've let go of all the preparation stress and we're good to go. Now we're just counting the minutes til lunchtime when they'll arrive. Tick Tock! I could say our house is singing Let It Be by the Beatles, but we're weird here, so our house is actually singing "Letter B" by the Beetles of Sesame Street ... Oh, and since we're counting the minutes, it is also singing "Counting with the Count" by Count von Count!



Head on over to Momstheword to see what everyone else is doing this week to put a song in their homes. Moms post is all about pre-judging and expectation. Like so many of us, she was humbled my Susan Boyle's reception by the audience and the judges of Britain's Got Talent. It is great to see us all working to keep our homes joyful.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sun-days!


Spring has definitely sprung in Eastern Washington (finally!). Mother Nature has finally relented and let winter head on out of town. Our beautiful day brought enough sun that Buttercup got those pink cheeks from a day of riding around on her bicycle. How cool is that? Let the sun-days begin!
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Magic of Photoshop

Look at what you can do with Photoshop...


You can take a sad little deck planter...


...and you can make it look beautiful...you can even add props to make the photo more interesting and realistic...notice the dogs in this AFTER shot.


Oh, wait, those are real dogs. In fact, those are my dogs. To be quite frank, this had nothing to do with Photoshop and everything to do with a sunny spring day and a morning trip to Home Depot.

Have a terrific weekend!

P.S. I do have Photoshop, but I haven't learned how to do much with it...maybe someday!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Delight - Pound Cake (Again!)...this time with Strawberries

Last week I forgot to send a treat with Superman for his Friday morning meeting with his entire team. (I honestly don't know how that happened.) Since that oversight, I've been feeling terribly guilty...even more so when a co-worker of his emailed me and referred to the treats as "Friday Delight" and let me know how much they all look forward to these treats.


This week, I vowed to make it up to them by sending something truly amazing. The big question: what to make, what to make? I settled on this pound cake recipe that I told you about here, but I also decided we'd have to go the whole nine yards, so in addition to the pound cake (which is awesome alone - especially with morning coffee) I'm sending them Strawberry Coulis and Whipped Cream. I think/hope this will be enough to garner some forgiveness, but I know messing with a Friday morning ritual is a touchy thing.

This is the third time I've made the pound cake and I've learned a few things in doing so:

1) My bundt cake pan does not have a hole in the middle because it is a Pampered Chef stone. I've never had a problem cooking with it, but with this recipe, the center doesn't seem to be getting done in the bundt pan because the air can't circulate around and through the entire cake. Switching to a 10-inch tube pan (which I've always called an Angel Food Cake pan) solved the problem.

2) You definitely can't tell by looking at the outside if this cake is done...you need to do the toothpick test at various places on the cake.

3) It doesn't need Strawberry Coulis, but seriously, it is amazing with it.

4) This cake is awesome the next day.



So, what do you think? Do you think I'll be forgiven for missing last week? I hope Superman's team likes it, because I really tried to make it up to them.

To Say Thanks...

We seem to live in a world where complaining is easy, but saying "thank-you" is done less and less. Maybe it is because I spent years in customer service or as an administrative assistant or maybe it is because I am trying to be true to what I feel, but I try to tell people when I appreciate a job well done or when a kindness touched me.


As I mentioned on Monday, we had a fabulous Easter Sunday at the home of some friends and I've been wanting to find a little something to give to the hostess to let her know how much we appreciated her opening her home to our family. It occurred to me that the bright dish towels I found earlier today, combined with a candle in a coordinating color, were just the perfect Spring something. When I knew she'd be stopping by late in the evening to pick up her daughter, I put everything together with a card letting her know how much fun we had and surprised her with it when she arrived at our door. I can only hope she feels even a little bit as special as she made our family feel last weekend.

What do you think? Do you give little gifts when you can? Does it make you feel special to receive little gifts? How do you say thank you?

Susan Boyle...

If you have somehow not yet heard Susan Boyle, I sincerely urge you to look and listen to both these YouTube clips (in order, please.) Look, I actually cried during the first one...that is how amazing she is:

1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY&feature=related

2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXwc-i5eYdU

You won't regret it...I promise.

Erin

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Look at what I found!


I definitely love a bargain and am learning to have vision when I see discounted things. I thought you might get a kick out of seeing what I scored at the 75% off rack at Target:

Look at the Cute Chickie Cookie Jar - $3.24!
Each dishtowel - 50 cents! (won't they make cute pillows? or something else?) (they came in 2 packs)
Each hot pad - 50 cents!
Each little plastic pots (recyclable, even!) - $1.00 (I totally have a plan for these...you'll love it when you see it...)
The wreath for our door - Spring, but not Easter-ish - $4.99

Weren't these awesome find? I was so excited. Much of the stuff I bought is earmarked for gifts, but I don't feel bad about gifting bargains. It lets me give nicer gifts than I could normally afford to give. I'll show you how they all evolve as I get them done, but for now, I'm basking the glory of the deal!

I love how these turned out...

I think it is quite ironic that a girl who really doesn't like to iron spent time making her ironing boards "pretty". I know it sounds odd, but I like to be surrounded by things that make me smile and seriously, the "plain wrap blue" and the "cream with blue stripes" didn't match my orange walls. Since my family room/schoolroom/craft room is all the same room, the ironing boards are always visible. We have no cupboards in which to hide them. So, I've been tucking the big one next to my shelves and I had the little blue one (great for small sewing projects!) on the back of the door. As we've made more and more progress on the room, however, I just couldn't leave them the way they were. (They were sad, seriously sad.) So, I recovered them using a tutorial I found at U-handblog. Quite some time ago Lisa gave step-by-step instructions to do a quick and easy re-do of your ironing board cover and I held on to it until I had the right fabrics. When I say easy, I mean "EASY". I did both ironing boards in about an a hour and a half. Even if your ironing board does have a happy little cupboard that it hides away in, maybe you'd pull it out a little more often if it was covered in fabric you just adored. (Okay, probably not, but still, it would be nice to be looking at something you liked while you were ironing, right?)


Now that I love the fabric on the big board, we'll be using some hooks and hanging on the wall like a piece of art...I got the hooks today, but because the ironing board is pretty substantial, Superman is going to mount them on a piece of wood and mount the wood onto the wall with super powerful screws (or whatever it takes so I don't accidentally rip a huge hole in the wall). I'm just so glad I saved this tutorial and took the time to recover these ironing boards. They really are fun now.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Felt Flowers

Aren't these the prettiest little flowers? Buttercup and I made them one evening a few weeks ago and I've been meaning to share them with you. These are from a pattern shared with us by Yoonie-at-Home and you get get it right here. All you need to do is print out the pattern on your regular printer and you're ready to go.


The materials needed are minimal. Just two colors of felt, a pair of scissors, and some thread to sew them all together. The pattern is easy...you just cut out a piece of each pattern piece she gives you...none of this remembering to cut out two of this and one of this...nope, you just cut them out, stack them in diminishing size order and sew them together in the very center. See? I told you it was easy. Buttercup was very proud of herself for doing it all on her own. I've added a button (like Yoonie did) to the center of some of them for an added little touch, but Buttercup is being more of a purist with hers.

Yoonie's original instructions call for the flower to be put on a hairclip or hairband, but since we just don't wear those, we're ad-libbing a bit with our final execution. I'm sewing a pin on the back of of one of them, so the person I'm sending it to can pin it to her backpack or a jacket or whatever. Buttercup is toying with using the hot glue gun to add some "bling" to her Nintendo DS. (Look, if you can girly it up, she'll find a way to do it!) Finally, I'm thinking of gluing magnets or thumbtacks to them to make them really awesome magnets/pins for a bulleting board. Wouldn't that be cute? Truly, they were so easy to do, it just felt (pun definitely intended!) like playing.

If you're looking for a fun, easy project to do, this is definitely the one for you.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

So, what happened to our


30 Days of No Fast Food Challenge? Honestly? It didn't last 30 days. At about two and a half weeks we quit for Buttercup's birthday and, frankly, didn't want to start it up again. Why? Well, we quickly figured out our fast food habit wasn't because of the food. (Some of you are saying, "Duh!", but hey, we're slow learners!) This challenge was awesome, however, and we learned a lot about ourselves and our family.

Firstly, we realized that Superman and I really, really counted on our weekly breakfast date and missing two of them in a row made us cranky. My friend at Generations Gone By knew this was going to happen (she's so smart) and warned us to be on the look-out. With three children (even with one in the dorms now), me homeschooling the younger two, and Superman's stressful job, our weekly dates were special time for the two of us. We needed them. I lay in bed one night talking with Superman and I said, "I just really miss you." Well, that was that...we ended the challenge right there.

Secondly, as homeschoolers with cabin fever, the kids and I were using a fast food run as a way to get out of the house during the grey days of winter. The challenge caused us to stop and think, "Why is it I want to go to McDonald's? Do I just want to get out of the house?" By stopping and asking ourselves the question, we have been able to redirect our energy to healthier alternatives.

Finally, the fast food hiatus gave the kids the time to calculate the opportunity costs of the fast food meals they were having. Quickly they began to notice things in a quantitative manner. From the simple: "Wow, if we don't go to McDonald's for lunch, we can go to the roller skating rink for the same amount of money," to the more complicated: "Mom, if we only spend $100/mo going out, including your dates, we could have a Wii in 4 months and it wouldn't cost us any more money than we've already been spending!" My kids truly became conscious spenders. Maybe, just maybe, this will help set them up to be good stewards of their resources at a young age.

So, since the first week of April, we've semi-quit the fast food habit. Superman and I still go on our dates once a week, but the kids and I aren't going out the same way. Instead, they are being smart spenders. Valiant figured out that a frozen yogurt at Costco was $1.50 and we could easily share one after our shopping trip. We're all being conscious of why we want to go out and that has helped us get rid of the craving and feel better when we do have a little treat.

All in all, I think the No Fast Food Challenge was completely worthwhile. We learned a lot about ourselves and our motivations and, in so doing, have been able to redirect our efforts towards healthier attitudes. If you're stuck in a bad habit rut, I encourage you to try a challenge of your own: No Oreos for 30 days, No potato chips for 30 days, whatever...you might be surprised at what you learn about yourself.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Making Your Home Sing Monday!


Well, another Easter has come and gone...where does the time fly? The Nagle clan had an absolutely wonderful Easter at the home of friends. What was billed as a brunch scheduled to run from 11:00 to 1:00 ran until 6:00 pm. The kids dubbed it the best holiday they've had since we moved to Spokane. What made it so special? Being surrounded by a warm-loving family that welcomed them without a second thought. Since we moved 1300 miles from any family at all, our holidays have felt a little bit anti-climactic...there is a huge build-up to the holiday and no matter how excited they are, no matter how well we've planned, they are not surrounded by grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and they feel the lack. This Easter made them (and us) feel like we've turned the corner and our new home town and are actually part of things. It was a wonderful feeling and I'm so grateful to Mrs. M including us in her family's Easter celebration.

So, what does this have to do with Making Your Home Sing Monday? Quite a lot, actually. Next Monday we'll be welcoming family to our home. We'll be meeting family members we've never met and renewing acquaintances allowed to languish. What we were reminded of today was the importance of that welcome, that initial smile and greeting, the abundance of food, the generosity of spirit that a true welcome encompasses. We were also reminded that initial reticence or awkwardness does not have to define the outcome of the visit. That a cheerful smile and an open demeanor will quickly smooth away those initial moments of discomfort. So, for this week our house will be singing Anticipation (but more like the ketchup commercial rather than like for a man, if you know what I mean) as we work hard to make our home ready to welcome these much anticipated guests. We'll do extra cleaning and extra cooking. Our actions will be fueled with excitement of knowing we're getting to pass along the wonderful feeling we got from being made so welcome at Easter. Our goal is not a perfectly clean home or perfectly executed meals. Instead our goal is turning all the anticipation we're feeling about this visit into actions that will make our guests know just how much we appreciate them visiting us and how special they've made us feel by spending their precious time off with us. If we can make this happen, then we'll feel successful.

To see what everyone else is doing for Making Your Home Sing Monday, check with them over at Mom's the Word. There is always something wonderfully inspirational about the things these ladies do.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Eggs

I have no idea from which blog I got the idea, but this year, we used my scrapbook punches and masking tape to detail some of our colored eggs. The kids keep getting older and wanting more artistic expression to be reflected in their creations. This technique definitely gave us the opportunity to spread our egg coloring wings. As you can see by the picture, we learned as we went along, but the kids said, "this was the most fun EVER!", so I guess we'll be doing it again next year. Superman liked the idea of pinstriping and Valiant was going for a modern art vibe. Buttercup and I played the most with the punches. The masking tape was a pain to work with, be we thought the results were worth the effort.




Happy Easter!

(I'll be back Monday...)

It is finished!

Look! I finally finished the tote bag I've been working on. It is a gift for someone and I'm excited to get it in the mail this afternoon. It is the first time I've made a bag like this and I think it turned out well. I just love the bright colors on the canvas (which I was able to get inexpensively as a remnant) and the blue lining is so vibrant. It just says "summer beach tote" to me. The pockets were supposed to be on the outside, but I don't like outside pockets on bags...they're just not secure. I like the contrasting fabric on the inside...it makes it fun. Superman cut some plexiglass which I slipped inside the bottom to make it a sturdy and stable bottom. (Have you seen the plexiglass purse bottoms for sale? They are not cheap and Superman had leftover plexiglass from a project...viola, a frugal solution!)


What do you think? Is it nice enough to be a "for no reason" present? I hope the recipient loves it because I had her in mind the entire time I made it. It might not be perfect, but it was stitched with love!

Friday, April 10, 2009

No More Television...


We're completely getting rid of television on April 12. On April 12, our 2 year commitment with DirecTV will finally expire. (Since it is Easter Sunday, we'll probably hold off calling until Monday, but still.) We haven't bought a digital converter box and have no intention of doing so. The truth is that television doesn't have much of a place in our lives. We don't watch it more than an hour or two a week and we realized that subscribing to satellite is just one more way lifestyle inflation has crept into our lives. Years ago, people said it was crazy to pay for television, yet these days the person who doesn't have cable/satellite is the rarity.

For us, we've decided to step back and reject lifestyle inflation as a matter of course. Just like the idea of a zero-based budget, which is one in which each line item must be justified every time the budget is renewed, we are looking at each aspect of our lives and assessing its necessity in our lives. So, things are changing...a lot. At the end of last summer, we got rid of our above ground pool because caring for it was a) too much work and b) cost money we thought we could spend elsewhere. Last month I was able to turn off my phone with its generous allotment of minutes and switch to one I can use when I need a phone. This month, I am excited to turn off the television. I wonder we'll do next month?

(Image: http://www.virginmedia.com/images/frugal-millionaire.jpg)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Using Skype instead of the telephone...


A few of you have commented in response to my enthusiasm for Skype that you don't actually know what Skype is. I thought I'd take a minute to tell you what it is, so that you, too, will share my enthusiasm for Skype. My nearest family is 1300 miles away and we miss them terribly. Skype, however, is making that distance feel a little less, well, distant! Skype is a FREE program that allows you to talk to and see people anywhere in the world via your internet connection. It works for both Windows and Apple computers. You do not use your phone, you use Skype contact names and you can keep your contact list as locked down as you like (think: unlisted number--Skype searchers don't see me). For example, the way I have my contact list set up, when I want to Skype my sister, I just click on her contact name and the computer "dials" her. If her Skype is up (even if it is inactive), she will here a tone on her computer letter her know I'm initiating a call. If she is there and available, she accepts the call. If she's not there, or just not available, she doesn't answer. It is that simple.

You also can have more than one person on the call at a time and not everyone needs to have the same technical capabilities. For example: my downstairs computer didn't have a mic or a camera for a little while, so I could hear and see my sister (and my son in the dorms - we did a conference call!), but I could type my answers to the conversation. I was able to participate, listen to them chatting, and still be part of the call. One $30 lap top camera and I'm fully participating from this computer.

Now that I have my sister and my son on Skype, I'm working to get my dad and my sweet sister-in-law. I love it...no long distance charges and you can see the person you're talking with. You can hold up fabrics, art pieces, paint chips, you can even pull your children in front of the computer and make them do tricks, really, just about anything. How fun is that?For more details about Skype, head to Skype.com and check it out yourself. (Do you think I put enough links to Skype in this post for you?) That is how much I love Skype...even if my sister and my son are both unavailable while I type this--grrrr.

I love to bake, but...

no one could bake all that yummy stuff and eat it all right then. So, what is an enthusiastic baker to do? Freeze them! Yes, you read me correctly. When I make cookies, I freeze 1/2 to 2/3 of the cookie dough! It is really simple. All I do is bake one or two sheets worth of cookies, then while the cookies are in the oven, I scoop out the remaining dough in cookie-sized servings (I use my scooper) as if I were going to cook it. I place all the cookie dough scoops on a cookie sheet (close together because they won't spread) and stick the whole tray in the freezer for half an hour (or til the morning when I remember it again). Then I take the frozen cookie dough balls and put them in zip loc bags, write what kind of cookie they are, add the date, and put the bag in the freezer. That's it. Simple, isn't it?


To cook the frozen cookies, you just pull them out of the freezer, lay them out on your cookie sheet and preheat your oven to the same temperature at which you would typically bake these cookies. While the oven is preheating they thaw just a bit. Once the oven is up to temperature, pop them in and bake them. I've noticed I need to add about one minute to the baking time, but that seems to be the only adjustment necessary.

Doing this allows me to feed the craving when my family is having a late night a dessert craving, or whip up something fresh when I find I'm entertaining on the fly. I can pull out the cookie dough and serve fresh-baked cookies in 15 minutes with no mess and no fuss. So far, I've been able to do this with all my cookies (except decorated sugar cookies) and they cook up beautifully.

Now you know. This is how I can cook a ton of stuff on weekends or free days and have it whenever it we want it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Work-In-Progress Wednesday...

I think a little accountability goes a long way. Since I've declared Wednesdays to be "Work in Progress Wednesdays" I work a little bit harder to get things done...I don't want to have to confess to you all that I'm too lazy to work on my projects. I think it is a win-win...you get new ideas (maybe) and I get my projects done.

So, here we are on Wednesday again. I'm home from the museum and the chicken burritos were awesome (as usual), and I'm finally getting to my computer to update you on my project status. These are a few of the things I've been working on.



First, I finished the last set of "dish towel pillows" and I got creative to make the pocket closure rather than having to sew them closed. I really like the ways these turned out. I also like that none of them are the same!


Second, Superman got the family room/my craft room/the schoolroom painted and put back in order for the week to start on Monday! He is truly amazing! I ordered some fun fabrics to make pillows and cover the ironing board with, but it already looks so much better. As for all of you who were skeptical of orange, I think you'll agree this turned out really, really fun! Sadly, I didn't take before pictures because I thought I had a ton of them and it seems I only have bad ones! Still you get the idea from them...that will teach me to assume!


P.S. Notice the gorgeous cabinet our television sits on? Superman made it...like the frosted glass? It is plexiglass that he frosted for me...the remotes work through it so we don't have to have the doors open all the time. Isn't that awesome?

What about you? Any projects you want to share with me? I'd love to see what you've been working on.