Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

I have made two important discoveries recently.

1. Manicures don't last very long when you're a housewife.  Washing dishes does a number on your hands.
I have to take a few sentences to brag on my husband right now though. ;)  He took me to the nail salon on Saturday to get a mani/pedi.  While I was relaxing in that wonderful massage chair and getting pampered, he did all the grocery shopping and made the baked beans we were taking to my parents house that night for dinner.  What a wonderful man! :) I am so blessed! :)
Oh, other discovery...

2. Slow cookers are awesome.
Seriously.  Throw in some ingredients in the morning, forget about it, and at dinner time you have a delicious meal?  I'm sold.  Up until recently, I have had a love-hate relationship with my slow cooker.  I own one but have only pulled it out maybe once or twice since we've been married.  See, my slow cooker is slightly temperamental.  It tends to be hotter and cook faster than it should.  Because of that, I was never able to use it when I was at school all day; there would be nothing edible to eat when we came home.  But, now that I'm home this summer, I can keep an eye on the monster and rescue dinner if necessary. :)
I've made it a goal of mine to build up my slow cooker recipe file.  Once a week, I am going to try new recipes to add, as well as share them with you. (If they are good) :)  How awesome to have those 30 - 45 minutes extra to work on making your house a home, while still having something delicious to eat at the end of a busy day?  I think these will come in handy.

Slow Cooker Recipe #1
Fiesta Chicken and Rice

Note: Before I get started on the recipe, will you do me a favor?  Check out Christy Jordan's website at  I love reading her posts about her home and family life, as well as trying out her delicious meals.  She's a true southern girl!    Now...let me share her recipe.  It was so easy (almost too easy for the amount of flavor you get), and delicious!  It was a winner at our house!

  • Chicken Breasts (however many you want to use - It doesn't matter since the chicken will be shredded at the end)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning
  • Cooked Rice

Place chicken breasts in the bottom of your slow cooker.  Pour in your cream of chicken soup, black beans, drained corn, salsa, and taco seasoning.  Stir to combine.  Cover with lid and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.  The chicken will break up into shreds as it cooks.  Stir in cooked rice and serve!

My prep changes.  
I used split bone in chicken breasts because they were on sale and that's what I had.  Because of this, at the 3 hour mark I took the chicken out, deboned, and shredded it myself, then added it back to the dish.  
Also,I served the rice separately instead of adding it to the chicken mixture.  That way Lester could eat as much rice as he wanted :)
Lester loved it with the rice, but I thought there was something funny about the Mexican flavors mixed with rice.  Next time, I may serve it with tortillas or tortilla chips instead.  I'll have to think about it :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Growing. Changing. Becoming.

Earlier this summer, Lester and I read through Titus in our devotions together.  On May 17th, we focused on Titus 2.  Verses 4-5 specifically caught my attention that night.

And so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

First of all, I thanked the Lord for the godly influence of my mother and grandmothers as well as my mother in law.  By their example, they are teaching me how to develop the attitudes and attributes found in these verses.

Secondly, I realized my desperate need for growth in these areas.  I don't know about you, but there have been times in my life when I have reached a point of complacency in my spiritual walk - not really seeing any areas that need to change and definitely not looking for them.  Praise the Lord, God has used my relationship with my husband to daily, many times multiple times a day, show me areas in which I can love Him more and then love Lester more.

The next morning, I made it my goal for this summer to focus on passages addressed to women, specifically wives, in my own personal Bible study.  I want to learn all that I can about what the life of a godly wife looks like and, by the grace and strength of God, grow to become that wife to Lester.  Along with my Bible study, I have been re-reading the book A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George.  It has been a great tool in assisting me to focus on practical applications of some of the passages I have been studying.

God has been teaching, growing, and stretching me in a variety of ways already this summer.  Granted, I most definitely still have my besetting sins, but God is working in those areas too. And, I still have so much to learn! Through God's grace and strength, I am seeing victory and experiencing a closer relationship with Him, which is also changing my relationship with my husband.  I am so thankful for the work of the Holy Spirit in my life through my study of the Scriptures!

Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life.  I give myself, my time, my all, utterly to Thee to be Thine forever.  Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit.  Use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thou wilt, work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever. - Betty Stam

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What is worth walking a mile to the grocery store for?

Oatmeal Brownie Milky Way Bars.
Ignore the broccoli.  I was making dinner when we decided to try these :)
Oh, yes.  Let me tell you how these came to be.

Yesterday was Tuesday.  Tuesday is ironing day for me.  I hate (nay -  loathe, abominate, abhor) ironing.  I don't like it.  But, I do it anyway.  Why?  Because I love my husband.  If he doesn't have to iron his clothes, he has one less thing to worry about in the morning and can sleep in a little extra.
I like to help him out.  He deserves that little bit of extra sleep.  He's awesome. :)

I made a deal with myself yesterday.  If I got all my ironing done in the morning, then I would reward myself by going to the pool for a couple hours in the afternoon.  Good motivation, huh?  I turned on my Disney music and spent the next couple hours ironing to the tune of Tarzan, Mulan, etc.  (It really does help pass the time) :)  I got all my ironing done, tidied up the house, and headed to the pool.  The pool that was closed for maintenance when I got there.  Bummer.

So, instead of spending a couple hours at the pool, I decided to do my grocery shopping.  I didn't need very many items this week.  A quick grocery trip means going one mile down the road.  Did I mention that we are a one car family?  For me, that means walking.  A mile isn't a long distance to walk, though.  No big deal, right?  It wasn't on the way there, but it most definitely was on the way back.  85 degree weather.  Carrying grocery bags.  That was a very long walk.

While I was at the grocery store I purchased a Milky Way candy bar and a bag of caramels, which were the only ingredients I was missing to make Oatmeal Brownie Milky Way Bars.  Then I made them, because Lester and I deserved some chocolate deliciousness after hard days at work. :)

May I just say, these bars are FABULOUS!  Chocolate-y. Chewy. Caramel-y.  I keep thinking about them, wanting to eat "just one more."
Go. Walk to the store and grab the ingredients you need.  It's totally worth it :)

Oatmeal Brownie Milky Way Bars


2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
2 cups Flour
1 cup packed Light Brown Sugar
2 1/2 sticks room temp. Butter
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt (I used Kosher)
2 cups boxed Brownie Mix
1/3 cup Canola Oil
1 egg
1 bag (11 oz.) Kraft Caramel Bits
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
2 Milky Way Bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium sauce pan, place two Milky Way bars, entire bag of caramels, and half cup of heavy cream.  Let simmer over medium to medium low heat until fully melted.  Remove from heat and let cool approximately ten minutes.
In a large bowl combine oats, flour, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, and butter.  Either use a fork to incorporate or just use hands to combine.  Its ok if there are some chunks of butter, you are looking for no chunk bigger then a pea though.
Add in two cups of brownie mix, egg, and oil.  Stir until just combined.
Using a prepared 9x13 baking dish, spread half of the oat mixture into dish and press firmly to flatten.
Pour the melted Milky Way over the oat mixture.  Make sure to get all the way to the corners.
Top with remaining oat mixture.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mornings In Our Home

Mornings.  We don't really like mornings around here. 
Mornings = obnoxious alarm clocks
Mornings = the end of sleep
Mornings = exercise (which we actually really like.  We just don't like waking up for it) :)

Lester and I respond to mornings differently.  99.9% of the time I am the first one up.  Waking Lester up in the morning is like trying to raise the dead.  He sleeps hard; but once he is finally up, he is ready to go.  Me?  I may wake up first, but it still takes me an hour or so to comprehend and start interacting with the world around me.

This is where breakfast comes in.  I need breakfast.  It helps me to wake up and gives me the energy I need to start my day.  Plus, I almost always wake up hungry.  Lester hardly ever eats breakfast.  He can easily go until lunch without eating anything.  Combine Lester's lack of need for breakfast with my zombie morning state of mind and breakfasts around here aren't a big deal.  They need to be fast and simple - something that we (or, I) can eat on the go, since we are usually rushing out the door from waking up too late ;) 

Bagels are our favorite breakfast food.  They come in a variety of flavors and are a quick way for us to get in the most important meal of the day.  Recently, I've started making my own bagels.  It is cheaper for us than buying from bagel shops or grocery stores, and they taste much fresher.  Making your own bagels is not a hard process.  It does take a little bit of rising time, but you can get other responsibilities done while you wait.  Yesterday, I worked on loads and loads of laundry while I waited. :)  Let me share with you how it's done!

Bagel Recipe

2/3 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp sugar                                
1 1/2 tsp yeast
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
3/4 tsp salt

In the bottom of your mixer bowl, combine the water, sugar, and yeast and let the yeast develop for about 5 minutes. Add in flour, vegetable oil, and salt and mix with a dough hook (or by hand) until the dough is elastic and tough. You may need to add in a bit of extra water (I added slightly less than 1/3 cup), but do it little by little. Let the dough sit and rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead. Cut into 6 equal pieces. Roll each individual piece into a “snake” long enough to wrap around your palm. Dip each end of the dough in water and press together in your palm, forming a circle. Place the formed bagels on a floured board and allow to rise another 30 minutes. 

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pot. When the water is gently boiling, place 2-3 bagels into the water for 1 minute and then flip to boil on the other side for another minute. Remove the bagels, place them on paper towels to take off excess moisture, then place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bagels. Bake in the oven on 425ºF for 18 minutes, turning them over after 10 minutes. Enjoy! 

Variation: Brush hot bagels with melted butter and coat in cinnamon sugar mixture to create a crunchy cinnamon crust.