shadows simply mean there is light shining somewhere…

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I dusted my camera off the other day and set out to capture a few shadow themed pictures before the sun had completely set.  I really want to begin branching out and become more creative with my photography.  I also want to use subjects other than my children.  It will take time though, mainly because at the moment, I have to drag them everywhere I go. 

Plus, taking photos of squirmy toddlers isn’t easy.  Most of them come out blurry.  Like one of the pictures above.  Still, it was fun to mess around the shadows that the natural light created, and adding effects in Photoshop made them bolder.  That is really all I have to say about this post! If you have any questions, let me know. 
Here’s to great weekend!
Do you have any “photo themes” that can challenge a stuck in the rut amateur?
Title quote can be found HERE.

A Kitchen Affair

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Canning is a process that you have to simply hand over your entire day to.  Throw on your apron and deal with it.  It has the reputation of becoming a real time sucker

If you’re like me, who has three children under your feet at all times to manage, then it’s enough to make you batty by the end of the whole mess.  Couple this with next-to-nothing canning supplies and only working with what you have; It makes a long day even longer.  (and you can forget about eating lunch) 

 

This past weekend, I handed over most of my day, and managed to retain most of my good mood by the end of it all.  Despite my high spirits, I was wiped out.  I smelled like vinegar, too.  I also had very little ambition to clean the mess afterwards, but I did, because I was the only one there to do it.

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Let me back up to Friday.  Our first frost hit, so I made sure to pick every pepper I could manage—just in case—hence the canning and freezing I had to do.  I brought my herbs inside, so they are still thriving.  As for the rest of the garden, I trimmed back the asparagus ferns, artichoke, etc, and added additional dirt in preparation for Fall/Winter months.  Let’s hope they survive!


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So there you have it.  My weekend in a nutshell.  It was full of peppers, tomatoes, canning, gardening and cleaning. 

At least it is finished.

Linking up with Mary Beth at Annapolis & Company.

 

Here are some outtakes from the jalapeno jar photo shoot.  I told ya, I always gotta kid on my heels.

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Waxed Leaves

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Nathan and I got a little crafty last night.  We dipped the leaves we had collected from the yard and the park into candle wax.  The effects are gorgeous.  At least in my humbled opinion.  I plan to use the leaves in various ways around the house, and maybe even use one as a future love letter to a stranger.  (I’ll keep you posted on that last one)  I thought about using them in a photo frame, or perhaps making a garland out of them, or maybe adorn them inside of a glass vase, along with some of the pine cones and acorns we have collected as well.  What do you think?  Any ideas?

 

If you’re interested in doing this with your rascals, then I’ll tell you how I did this really fast.  I bought a block of candle wax at Michael’s craft supply store.  Had the hubs cut a 1/4 chunk off, then I grated it on a cheese grater.  I preheated the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.  Nathan emptied the shavings into a disposable, aluminum 8×8 pan.  Place it into the oven until it is completely melted.  Once it is melted, you simply dip each leaf into wax, coating each side, and then place onto wax paper to dry.  //Tip:  The wax cools quickly, so I placed the pan on top of one my stove top burners, turned to low, in order to keep the wax melted.  If it starts to dry, when you dip the leaves, the wax won’t be translucent.//

Mexican Rice

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When we moved to North Carolina, we were met with some odd foods.  Not going to lie.  People here eat things that I have never even contemplated eating.  For example, when we went to the convenience store to buy worms for fishing, the cashier asked us with complete seriousness, “You gonna’ fry these up for lunch or you gonna go fishin’?” 
I can’t even make this stuff up. 
We laughed, or course, thinking that this was his dry humor shinning through, but oh no!!!  He was serious.  It is evidently a treat around here, just like boiled peanuts.  (Boiled peanuts don’t taste good…at least not to us.)  People here are just…country
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Even with all the liver pudding, pig feet, and fried worms, the south does offer really delicious food, too.  Don’t even get me started on their BBQ.   But, like with most places we’ve moved, no place has offered us good Tex-Mex.  Not Illinois, not Utah, and not North Carolina.  They offer it, of course, but it just isn’t the real deal.  Not like at home.
But like every good Texan girl, I know how to make my own fairly well.  And the very basics of Tex-Mex food is good ole Mexican rice.  Everyone in Texas has their own way of making it.  I even have two ways of making it, but I usually make it the way shown above because it is super fast and really tasty.  My other method calls for chopping tomatoes, straining tomatoes, yadda, yadda.
This recipe cuts down on all of that hoopla, while still tasting fresh, and really good.

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Mexican Rice
Ingredients:
32 ounces of chicken broth (4 cups or one carton)
2 Cups of long grain rice
1 — 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1/2 of one medium yellow onion, diced (or one whole onion if you like)
1 small purple bell pepper, diced  (If you don’t have access to purple bell, then use whatever you have)
1 tsp of cumin
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt & Pepper to taste 
(I use a healthy dose of kosher salt & ground pepper—you know, the kind out of the tin canister)
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 Tablespoon of tomato paste (optional)  //I usually don’t use it//
//You’re more than welcome to add a little heat to this, but my kids do not like spicy foods yet, so I leave it out.  Add jalapenos, cayenne, or green chilies if you like//
Method:
In a Dutch oven or pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add your diced onion and bell pepper, and sauté for 5-10 minutes, or until soft. 
Now add your garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.  Now add your rice to the pot and stir it around for 5 minutes.
Pour in your can of tomatoes (Juice and all) along with your cumin, salt, and pepper.  Mix well. 
Now add your chicken broth.  Give it a good stir, and bring it up to a roaring boil.  Once it is boiling, turn down the heat to a low boil/simmer.  Cover the pot with the lid and let it cook for 20-30 minutes.  Stir often to prevent burning/sticking.    
This dish goes great with my Grilled Chicken Marinade.

carbon copy weekend

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Our weekend was a carbon copy from the weekend before that.  A little bit of cooking here and there mixed in with great fall weather that allowed us to either stay outside and play for hours or cuddle inside when it started to rain.  As mundane as it seems, it was a great weekend that allowed me to finish my book, make a dent in my knitting, and of course clean and take care of little ones.
//1  My Mexican Rice.  Recipe will be posted later this week. 😉
//2  My peppers have been growing like wild flowers.  It feels so satisfying to cultivate and grow your own food.
//3  Mama’s tinted lip balm on baby girl’s lips.  She was excited; can you tell!?
//4  A reader of mine suggested buying a set of window markers for the kids on rainy days.   I so appreciate that whisper of advice because it was a sanity saver that day!  Plus, the kids go wild for it.  It seriously kept Scout entertained for almost two hours.  Go buy some!
//5  This is love letter to a stranger that I promised myself to leave behind somewhere in a public place but forgot to do it!!  Every time I left the house, I would leave the letter on the shelf.  Hopefully this week I can get the job done.  If you’re interested in why I’m doing this and what it is about, click here.
//6  Outside time was plentiful for the kids.
//7  My moist, buttery, roasted chicken.  It was so delicious!
//8  My PURPLE bell peppers.  I had no idea these existed until they started growing in my garden.  They are bright green on the inside and they have a mild sweet taste.  Cool, huh?!!  
Linking up with the lovely Mary Beth at Annapolis & Company.

Ditching Paper Towels//Living On Less

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You’ve heard the environmental arguments from the holier-than-thou-be-green-team, explain the importance of ditching your use of the paper towel. 

 

I –am not– that fanatical.  My motivation is merely me being a cheapskate. (my husbands words)  Or as I like to assume, a conscientious consumer.  

Although, I’m happy to see my inability to splurge on the aforementioned item also does our planet a little good. 😉 

 

I’m not going to sit and lie to you, and say that we never buy paper products.  We do on occasion.  For instance, back in July, while my niece & nephew stayed with us, I splurged and purchased a $2 package of paper napkins.  I understand that napkins are not paper towels, but it is close enough!

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I’m also not going to lie to you and say that we gave up our use of paper towels cold turkey.  When it comes to changing ones habits, it has to become a lifestyle change.  Even small ones such as paper towels.  And just like with most habit busting techniques, I winged us off of them. 

On average, we used one roll per week.  I changed that to only using one roll every two weeks, and then eventually only one per month.  Now I don’t purchase them at all. 

 

Now, we use a cheap set of 18 white rags from Wal-Mart for $4.  At least that is how much they cost in my neck of the woods.  We use them for everything, and once the holes begin to form, I toss them out. 

(The picture of the their 9 count dishcloths.  They were out of the 18 count.)

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Because I’m sure you’re curious, I will go ahead and tell you that we have not bought paper towels in 11 months.  It will be ONE YEAR this November. My husband will tell you that he misses them sometimes, but I haven’t really noticed a difference.

 

// I also wash all the rags once a week, along with other whites in the house.  This way it doesn’t feel like the extra laundry is a burden. //  You can get my DIY Laundry Soap here.

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My cost is about $11.  I purchased two packages of the 18 count and one the 9 count in one year.

 

I asked a friend of mine who has the same size family as myself (5), how many rolls per week they use.  Her answer was about 3 rolls.  I would say that is close to $20 per month, right?  Give or take. 

 

Tally that up for a whole year and that would equal $240. 

Visualize the savings:  What could I buy every month for $20? 

New shoes? 

Shirt? 

Makeup? 

Savings?

You see where I’m going with this?

 

It’s just as easy to pull a dishcloth out of a drawer, as it is to pull a sheet off a paper towel roll.   Promise.

 

What ways do you save extra money in your home? 

 

Like this post?  Then check out some of my other posts on budgeting

a hat for yarn along

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I finally started knitting Nathan’s hat for this winter.  He has been asking about it on a regular basis, which tells me that he anxiously waiting for me to finish.  I decided to go with the Big Easy pattern that Ginny used.  The pattern is exactly as the title describes it; easy.  It’s the type of pattern that I can work on while doing other things.  It doesn’t require as much concentration as some of the others I’ve knitted.  I can stop at anytime and be able to pick it up without questioning what stitch I am on. 
As the saying goes–So far, so good.
Currently I am reading Jefferson Bethke’s book, Jesus>Religion.  It is his first book that stems from his controversial video that made the news and spurred debates for weeks.  I’ve been a fan of his videos for over a year now, and if you’ve ever watched them, his book is written much of the same way.  He writes just as he speaks, making it a fast and understandable read.  He talks about homosexuality—since his mother is gay—and other debatable topics.  It has been a really good book, and if you’ve ever felt stuck on the hypocrisy within the American church, then you should pick up this book.  It has good insight, but many would still argue over its chosen topics. 
Then again, when has religion not spurred debates or cause a person to become defensive?  Any way, pick it up, even if you don’t have a belief. 😉

Linking up with the lovely Ginny, today for her weekly Yarn Along!

When You Know, You Know

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Today is the Tuesday that marks our eighth anniversary, and I Love you.

I’ll love you tomorrow, and the next day, and next week, and even next month.

In six months, I will still love you, just like I fell in love with you nine years ago.

In sixty years, I’ll look back on our beginning, and smile at how much I’ve loved you and how far we’ve made it in life together.

Happy Anniversary, Bubba.

~Elizabeth

 

Back Breaking Work

No lie.  Pulling up sod, digging holes, tilling by hand, lifting heavy bags of dirt…it hurts.  I was sore for two days, which is pretty sad because I pawned most of the work on Bubba.  I don’t know how he persevered through it because I pooped out.  
I came to the realization that there is no way I could make a living digging ditches, peeps.  I tip my hat off to all the hardworking folks out there, because they have a hard job.  Back breaking, too.  
No. Really.  My back ached.
Alright, I won’t whine anymore.  I promise.
The result of our hard work is beginning to show.  We started by marking our garden off with skewers and some yarn that was leftover from Halloween.  
That was the easy part. 
Then we had to remove the sod in our ghetto, homemade wheel barrow. (an empty plastic tote attached to our dolly).
Next we dug holes, tilled it a bit, and then filled it with dirt.  Then I jumped ahead and planted the seeds and potted plants which took up most of my day.  I’m not sure if I should have since the weather has been toying with us lately.  One day hot, one day chilly, but it was warm for a solid week before I planted.  However, a pesky cold front is heading our way tonight.  Hopefully the plants survive.   

We are being ambitious this year so I hope our garden will flourish.  I need to pray about it.  Praying worked for me last year.  I know this because our garden actually produced despite having nature working against us and it being my first real attempt.  
To wrap this post up, we have seeds planted along with markers on the rows.  I started my herbs in paper bags.  It is the first time I’ve done this so I hope it works.  The last little thing we have left to do is set up the fence around the garden which should be finished next week! 

Until next week…
Liz

Rori Update

Age: 10 months
Weight: I can’t remember

Nicknames:
Baby, Sissy, Little girl, Lucy, Princess, Pumpkin, Cuddle Bug

Vocabulary:
“Mama”
“Daddy”
“No”

Foods:  She has moved on to finger foods!  She still takes formula with her meals, but for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, she is eating regular foods.  (I still haven’t given her eggs.  I’m nervous!)  So far she is doing great with her food and eats just about anything you set in front of  her.

Development: She can shake her head no at you, climb, crawl, pull herself up, clap, and tries to stand on her own.

Her personality:  Rori has been growing in to herself, expressing her independence, facial expressions (her favorite expression is what I call the bunny nose), playing with toys, etc.  She is still my laid back little baby who sleeps like a champ.  I often say that I need just one more baby that’s just like her.
She loves to cuddle with me and will often fall asleep lying on me…which I totally love.  Makes my heart pitter patter. 🙂

Rori is our last child, so I’ve been savoring every moment of her being my sweet baby.  I sometimes think God got the teen years and the baby years backwards.
In my eyes, the baby stage should last for years, while the teenage stage should only last one year.  Sounds better to me!