Home Maid Simple: September 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Canning Pears how to


Tis the season for canning! Normally I head to my mom's for a weekend and do some canning with her. This year it didn't work out that way.  I bought 40lbs of pears from The Pear Guy through our church. I was very excited to get down to Nana's and start canning them. I waited a week, and my pears were still very very hard! You can't can hard pears. So I came back home. Wednesday night I finally found the time after kids were in bed to start canning. I have NEVER canned on my own before and I was very nervous about it. So I will now share with you the simple steps I took in canning my pears.

  • Start with the syrup.  For 8 qts I had to make 2 batches of the syrup.  For 1 batch heat 6 cups water and slowly add 3 cups sugar stirring until dissolved.  Bring to a boil, and then lower heat to keep it warm, but not boiling. This makes a medium syrup. 

  • Now you need to get your jars ready. If you have a dishwasher, wash the jars and the rings now. If you are like me and do not have a dishwasher, fill you sink with the hottest water you have and set the jars and rings inside.
  • Now to peel your pears. This can be done 1 of 2 ways (or mix it up if you wish).  I boiled a large pot of water, and dipped my pears into it for a few seconds. Then I placed the pears into a bowl of ice to avoid burning myself while peeling them. The skin mostly comes right off, but be warned, it is extremely messy, and the fruit just under the pear will also be very soft.  You can also just use a paring knife and peel like you would an apple. This will also take off some of the pear, but it works. 
  • Slice the pears lengthwise in quarters, and slice out the core. 

  • I dry packed my pears, but you can also hot pack them which is the recommended way.  To dry pack or raw pack just start stuffing the pears in the hot jars. Once they are full pour in your syrup leaving about a 1/2 inch at the top. Slide a butter knife down the side of the jar and press on the pears to release any trapped air.
  • Now your flat lids you need to boil for a minute or two, I just tossed them in my sink of hot water while I packed in the pears.
  • Wipe the rims of the jars, add the lids, and screw on the rings. You are now ready to process them!
  • Process in a water bath, according to your altitude. Here in utah, I processed them for 25 minutes. Then set them on a thick towel to dry and seal. Once they are cool, press on the lids to see if they pop up. If they don't pop up you have successfully canned some pears, Congratulations! I personally felt lucky when despite my inexperience, all 8 quarts sealed.  Any jar that has not sealed, you can stick in the fridge to eat that week.

A few things I learned a long the way. Having an actual canner made for water bathing is very useful. I used a tall pan, with a metal plate inside to keep the jars off the bottom. A couple of my jars tilted sideways, and some of the syrup boiled out.
Foil floats. I tried putting foil in the bottom of the water bath to help stablize the jars and keep them from touching each other and the sides of the pan, but foil floats.
Hot packing helps get more air out of the pears. Once my jars were processed and sealed, I noticed a good inch of syrup on the bottom of the jar before the pears started. My pears are floating, most likely because there is air inside the pears. Next time I will hot pack.
Canning is fun, and was worth the little sleep I got Wednesday night.  

Come back tomorrow for a lesson on canning home made grape juice!!

I apologize for lack of pictures. My camera has gone missing :(  Hopefully I find it before I start on these grapes.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Flirty Aprons Flash Sale! 2 Aprons 50% off!!!!

Live right now! Flirty Aprons is having a Flash Sale on 2 of their aprons from now until tomorrow night (9/27) at midnight mountain time.
Get the Marilyn Mint-a-licious Apron or the Marilyn Strawberry Shortcake Apron for 50% off the normal price!!  Use Code  STRAWMINT


Basement Reveal

It's done, it's done, I can't believe it's done!!! (well ok, almost. But I don't count the small little holes Mark still needs to fill. It's liveable).

The main living space. This used to be a cold storage/unfinished room.

Under the Stairs Puppet Theater (or haunted house as the Princess' have been calling it)

The "entry" to the basement.

Isn't that floor gorgeous?  It's still a little dusty. I need to go find my microfiber cloths to get it all up. As you can see we've even begun moving some items down (hello tv).  The only things left to do down here is decorate! Since it is the Princess' play room as well as laundry room, my main goal is to dampen the echo. The washer suddenly got a lot louder.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Invisible Mother

My friend shared this with me, and I knew I had to share it with all of you.  As mother and housekeeper, I often feel invisible. This is such a good reminder that someone always knows what we've done.

Invisible Mother
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, “Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The Invisible Mom. 

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this?
Can you open this??

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, “What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, “Right around 5:30, please..”

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!?

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. 

I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, “I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:

To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. 

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. 

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, “Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, no one will ever see it.” And the workman replied, “Because God sees.” 

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, “I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.”

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, '”My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.” That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, “You're gonna love it there.”

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women

*I could not find any copyright on this. If there is one, please let me know. I would hate to infringe on any rights. Thank you.

Preparing Your Home for a New Baby #SeventhGeneration

*This post is sponsored by SocialMoms and the Seventh Generation blogging program.*

Whenever I get pregnant I immediately start preparing for the new baby's arrival. There is so much to do, and although we ideally have 9 months to prepare, it doesn't always feel like enough time. Between taking care of myself, my Princess', and trying to figure out what I need to do to prepare for this baby, life can get overwhelming fast.  
So I've compiled a list of 10 tips to prepare your home for the arrival of a new baby.

1 - Look up safety regulations, and recalls on any baby furniture you are going to use. Safety standards change a lot over the years, and products often get recalled.  This is especially important if you plan on using hand me down gear.  One of the first things I did after finding out I was pregnant, was check our car seat. We'd been using it since Princess V was born, and she just turned 5 yesterday.  I am so glad I checked it. It is a 5 year car seat, meaning Princess R was the last to use it. So now I know I need a new car seat.  We've also been using the same crib, which still meets safety guidelines, is in good condition, and has not been recalled.  View recalled items

2 - My next area of concern is paint. We are doing a lot of rearranging of rooms. This baby we will be putting in Princess V's room, and moving her in with her sisters. Her room is painted very bright colors though, and is very girly.  We don't know the gender yet, but I am sure it is a boy. If it is a boy, even a girl, we want to tone the colors down a bit. Thankfully paint these days no longer contains lead, but I still plan on researching the different brands of paint to find the safest for our nursery.  Also, I don't plan on helping with the paint, but I know some expecting moms like to still paint. Just make sure you keep the room well ventilated, and wear a mask.  Protect you and that little child growing inside.

3 - The closer it gets to baby's arrival, we will start setting up the nursery.  Right now Princess R is still in the crib, but around January we plan on moving her to the toddler bed.  At that point, I will be sanitizing the crib.  I love using baby wipes like Seventh Generation for this part. I know the wipes are baby friendly, and if any one of my children decides to suck on the crib, I won't have any worries. 

4 - Baby proof the nursery.  Make sure the crib is placed away from the windows. Tie up any cords from blinds. I love this website to educate on the dangers of blind cords, and what you can do.  We also have hooks on the sides of our windows to wrap the extra cords around. Cover up those plugs too. Baby won't be moving around for awhile, but if you start baby proofing now, when baby is suddenly on the other side of the room, you won't have to worry, and you can enjoy the excitement of a new milestone. 

5 - Once we have the nursery painted, the furniture sanitized, and the room baby proofed it will be time decorate the nursery.  If you have older children, involve them! The transition of bringing home a new baby will be easier for them if they have helped pick out curtains, pictures, and bedding. 

6 - Educate your older children. About a month or two before baby #4 comes we are going to take our kids to a sibling class at the hospital. I was thrilled when I found out this class is offered! They help get your older siblings ready to have a baby in the house. They cover holding the baby correctly, diaper changing, and other safety aspects.  In the meantime, at home, I will also teach the Princess' different safety guidelines for baby. Simple things, like never stick anything in baby's mouth, wash hands before touching baby, and always ask permission to hold baby.  

7 - This next tip is going to be hard for my Princesses, but after Christmas, I am going to go through all of their toys. Any small toys, I plan on either getting rid of, or storing up high. 

8 - Another tip is to make sure any chemicals you have are stored up high. For us we've already done this since we have older children. We have a few items stored under the kitchen sink, and that is locked with a baby lock. The rest I have in the bathroom cupboard, which I even have to get s stool to reach.  In the past year I have started using more family and planet friendly products. Even though these items are "safe" to use around kids, and are "natural" I still store them out of the reach of small hands. I would hate to have any accidents happen. 

9 - A month or two before baby comes, we will have the nursery set up, decorated, and ready to put baby in. It will be time to wash all the baby clothes. In the past, we have used hand me downs. With 3 Princesses, we've kept all the clothes. Sitting in storage, they tend to get a storage smell to them, and before using on a new baby, I want smelling fresh and clean. Our concern is that sensitive baby skin.  Eczema is prevalent in our family, and laundry detergent has been a contributing factor. When doing baby's laundry I look for dye-free, fragrance free detergents like Seventh Generation.

10 - Freezer meals. You don't want to worry about what you're family is eating, how many pizza's you've ordered, because you are too enthralled with a new baby.  A month before your due date, start making double dinners. Put one in the freezer.  When baby comes, you'll have meals ready and you won't have to worry about those pizzas because you've already made dinner.  I plan on having at least a week of meals, but 2 would really be ideal.

My last tip to you the expectant mother is to enjoy nesting. It's one of my favorite parts of the pregnancy. My whole house gets rearranged; I beam with excitement because I am being productive. And I know I am getting close to holding that bundle of joy in my arms. When you're house is spotless despite having older children, you're nursery is set up, and you know you've done all you can to make baby's arrival in your home safe and comforting. Sit back, relax, and smile. Soon your baby will be in your arms, and because you prepared you won't have a care in the world other than to hold that baby, and sleep.  I hope all my pregnant friends have a wonderful pregnancy!

New Parent Resources

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Basement Remodel Caused Domestication

I just love the way our basement is looking! We got the painting done over the weekend, and then yesterday the old vinyl was pulled up. 

Sadly, the color is not exactly what we chose. We were going for this color called serenity, but to save a little money, we had the paint guys at Lowe's try and create the same color in a cheaper bucket of paint. The result, a minty green, instead of calming green/blue. Awe well, the things we learn.

spot for stacked washer and dryer
There has been a downside to our basement remodel. I am so excited with how it is looking, but with the many different processes, we had to remove our washer and dryer. Which left us no way to wash clothes last week, or this week. So what did I do? I recalled our ancestors, and I filled the sink with hot soapy water and kids clothes. 
Using my Pampered Chef Mix and Stir, I felt I got an adequate agitation going on.  So I let them soak, agitated them, soak some more, and agitated more. Then I used the other sink to rinse them. Rinsing was probably the hardest part. "Was I getting all the soap out?" was a constant question in my head. This morning though, after drying all night in the bathroom, I think I must have adequately done it. The clothes smelled nice, and were good and stiff. 
Thankfully a good friend (whose basement also flooded this summer) saw my plight on facebook, and picked up a load of clothes for me today. I am so very grateful to her, and I'm sure my kids will be too, when they have clean clothes again! 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Closet is Prettier than Yours - week 1 "After"

Have you all seen this challenge over at Trulie Scrumptious? It's the "My Closet is Prettier than Yours" challenge. Ash and Roz have dubbed September Organize your closets month.  This last week we spent organizing our Linen Closets or bathroom closets.  You can see my before pictures over here.
I probably would have been done a little sooner this week, except I get hit with a head cold/flu bug yesterday and was completely laid out!  Thankfully I woke up this morning feeling a million times better, although not 100%, enough to actually do some organizing.
And with that, here are my after photos!
This is the top half of the kids/guest closet. Even I have to use a stool to reach the top, so I decided instead of crowding under the kitchen sink, I could store all the cleaning supplies up here. There is no way the Princess' are going to get into those.  And then of course our stock pile of lotions, shampoos, and potty training reward jar (empty yes, it hasn't been used for awhile).

Here we have the bottom half the kids/guest closet. Thanks to pinterest, and some googling, I found a lot of people putting their laundry baskets on the bottom shelf of their linen closets. I loved this idea! We had been alternating between in their bedrooms and in the hallway, and I didn't like how either of those looked. Now it is hidden away, and the Princess' find it fun to toss their clothes inside the closet.  I then used some wicker baskets I had laying around; one for all the combs and brushes, and one for all the washcloths.  Thanks to Mark's mom we have these nifty plastic containers that are helping store all the little hair clips, ties, nail polish and clippers.  I love our newly organized closet!!

If you recall, we don't actually have a closet in our master bathroom. So we have this behind the toilet shelf unit. It has been really handy, but very disorganized. I am now pleased to say, that this "closet" makes me very happy. The decoration on top, followed with useful organization on the next two shelves is very refreshing.
Admittedly though, this photo is a bit staged. We have many, many more towels that will be on the bottom shelf. They are just all dirty at the moment due to a lack of washer/dryer this week. So instead of letting it look empty I dressed it up a bit with the hand towels, and washcloths.  I do wish it could always look like this though.

Do you want to get in on this challenge? I hear there's a prize for the Prettiest Closets at the end! Head over to Trulie Scrumptious today to learn how you can enter your closets! (Just be warned, my closets are going to be the prettiest!)

Little Remedies Little Fevers Winner

Heather S!
She won a bottle each of Little Remedies Little fevers for Children and Infants.

While you're here, enter to win a $15 gift certificate to Arcoiris from To Sew With Love.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

To Sew With Love Giveaway

To Sew With Love is generously giving away a $!5 gift certificate to their etsy shop Arcoiris.
I showed you some of their products earlier this week, and I'd like to show you a couple more!
3-in-1 Headband, Hairclip and Brooch Help Japan Donation Drive
a 3-in-1 Headband, hairclip and brooch!
BALLERINAS Diaper&Wipes Purse/Make-up Kit or Carry-All Bag
A Ballerina Diapers/wipes case, makeup kit or carry-all

And because I just really can't get enough of this necklace, I'm showing it to you again! Isn't it just stunning?!
Necklace Stars - Help Japan Donation Relief (Donated by KolibriKado) Free Shipping

All sales from Arcoiris are donated to the Japanese Red Cross. What a wonderful cause!

*I received a donation to send to the National Alopecia Awareness Project for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

And on to the Giveaway! Just enter the easy Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win a $15 Gift Certificate to Arcioris

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Closet it prettier than yours challenge


This is my kind of challenge! Head on over to Trulie Scrumptious (a trulie scrumptious blog!) to get in on the My Closet is Prettier than Yours challenge.  For the rest of September they are focusing on one closet per week. This weeks challenge is the Linen Closet.
Are you ready for my Before pictures? So not pretty right now.
The kids bathroom/guest bathroom closet

The bottom half

The top half

We don't actually have a real closet in our Master bathroom, so I figured I'd try and dress up the space we use:

There's still time to enter this contest! So make sure you go link up your closets!

WW - Definitely NOT Okra

Remember the Okra I planted? I was so excited because out of about 50 seeds, I only got one to grow. Well, turns out I got none. As you can see it is most definitely not Okra. The question now begs, where did this Sunflower come from?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Great Deal on Wall Decals!

Right now you can get $24 worth of wall decals from SissyLittle.com for only $12, plus free shipping!  I absolutely love wall decals.  Just visit SaveMore.com to get your voucher.  (deal is on the right hand side).  Plus if you're new to SaveMore deals you will get a $10 credit, which means you can get these decals for only $2!!!  Just check out some of these products.

And my personal favorite

Tuesday Tips - Paint

Welcome to Another Tuesday Tip!

When choosing paint think about the size of the room first. Our basement is all ready to be painted, so last week Mark and I went to Lowe's to choose some paint. The ceilings in the basement are low, and there is no window in the main area. So we knew we wanted a lighter color. It will also be the kids play area, so we wanted a calming color as well. We took a look at some blues and greens, and found a good in between mix. We actually went home with 3 paint chips to compare before making our decision.
Next we had to pick out flooring. Boy was I glad we had those paint chips! When comparing the paint to the flooring samples, there were very few that Mark and I thought looked good together. One however, stuck out as looking the best, and we were out of the flooring store within 15 minutes!
Without the paint chips, we probably would have been there much longer trying to figure out what we wanted. We ended up choosing a dark floor, despite being a small room. When comparing the paint to the floor, it just felt right. It felt light and breezy, and I just knew it would look good.
I can't wait to finish painting, and get the flooring in to show you what I mean!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sponsor Spotlight - To Sew With Love


I am very pleased to spotlight To Sew with Love today.  I came across these sisters during a giveaway gala, and fell in love!  In their own words this is what To Sew With Love is all about

We started as a Facebook group created by me (Lelanie) and my sister (Laarnie), both mothers who love to sew for our kids. We were both beginners but passionate with our new-found hobby. Everybody (beginner or experienced, a mother or not) is welcome to join this group, share their creations, tips and experiences. Let us all sew with love... one stitch at a time. ; )
I just love people with passion, and you can feel the passion just soar off the screen when you read their blog, or visit any of their shops.  That's right, not only do they blog about their sewing passion, they share their creations with everyone!   Lelanie and Laarnie are Filipina nationals.  Lelanie married a Spanish national and is now residing in Spain (so cool!) and Laarnie married a Japanese National and is residing in Japan!  Despite their distance these two sisters are Best friends, and continue to share their passion through the worldwide web. 
Joining these beautiful sisters is Lhorie, their high school friend and Filipina singer. She is based in China. Can you say wow? Three different countries, and they are amazingly tight! I live an hour from my 2 sisters, and we only ever talk about doing things these sisters and friends have done. I'm slightly jealous...

Now there are many ways to enjoy "the 3 Ladies".  Are you ready?  First off is their etsy shop Arcoiris.  Check out these cute owl plushies
 A pair of CUTE owl plushies Help Japan Donation Drive
And this star necklace which I would totally wear!
Necklace Stars - Help Japan Donation Relief (Donated by KolibriKado) Free Shipping

One thing that really drew me into following "the 3 Ladies" is their love. They promote their love of sewing through the blog title, To Sew with Love. But they continue to promote their love for people in their shop. 100% off sales from Arcoiris is donated to the Japanese Red Cross. These ladies show their love for all through their love of sewing, and for that I love them (too many love uses? Never!). 

You can also find them on twitter, blog frog, Pinterest, networked blogs, and facebook.

I feel very honored to have To Sew With Love sponsoring Home Maid Simple this month of September. When I approached Lelanie about the sponsorship she jumped right on. You see through their sponsorhip here on Home Maid Simple, money will be donated to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. A foundation close to my heart. You can learn more about why I am promoting the NAAF through sponsorships by visiting the Alopecia Awareness Month Tab on the top of the blog. Thank you Lelanie, Laarnie, and Lhorie for sewing with love, and spreading that love throughout the world. You are an inspiration!


Bertolli Olive Oil WINNER

And the winner of the Bertolli Olive Oil
Laurie A.

You have 48 hours to respond to the email, or a new winner will be chosen.
Thanks for entering.

While you're here make sure to enter this great giveaway

Friday, September 9, 2011

Basement Remodel - Sheetrock

Hooray! The sheetrock is up!

This was all finished up yesterday. This morning they started taping and mudding. It should be ready for paint next Wednesday! I am so stoked with the way this is turning out!

Little Remedies, Little Fevers Review and Giveaway

Get ready for a new fever fighting product for kids! Little Remedies has come out with a new product Little Fevers for Infants and Little Fevers for Children. Although this product features some new aspects to the Little Remedies medicine, such as dye and gluten free, my favorite feature is the new dosing bottle.
You know how you used to stick the syringe into the bottle trying to guesstimate the right dosage only to pull it out, covered in medicine, and either too full or not full enough? No longer! A new top on the bottle allows you to insert just the tip of the syringe, tip the bottle upside down and get an accurate dosage on the first try!

With school starting we had to get Princess V 's shots updated. Sadly she did develop a slight fever and pain at the injection site. I was really excited to try out Little Remedies for children. grape flavor. Little Fevers Children's comes with a dosing cup, and the syringe top. Even with the top designed for a syringe, it poured easily into the cup. Princess V wasn't so sure about this though. It wasn't red which to her meant it wasn't cherry flavored. I did get her to take it after some coaxing, but she complained it tasted a little sour. However, it did bring her fever down and her arms got better faster.
A few days later Princess R started teething some back teeth, and was pretty miserable, she was starting to develop a small fever as well. So I pulled out the Little Fevers infants! Like I said before, I loved the syringe top! It was so easy to use, and completely mess free! Princess R took the Little Fevers just fine, and soon was back to her normal self

With the new syringe top, Little Remedies Little Fevers is my new choice in fever/pain reducer for my childrens. We just may need to try the cherry flavor instead of grape for the older kids.

Be ready to fight fevers this School Season with your own Little Remedies Little Fevers for Children and Infants. Enter the Rafflecopter Form below to WIN!

*I was provided with the product for review. All opinions are my own and my childrens.

Sea-Band Winner!

Michelle N.
You've won the Sea-Band Anti-Nausea bracelets, and pack of Ginger Gum! 
You have 48 hours to respond to the email before a new winner is chosen. 

While you're here check out this other great giveaway!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Basement Remodel - framing and kids puppet theatre

Mark and a good friend spent the morning of labor day framing the rest of our basement, and getting the electrical all set up. We now have a lightswitch, and two working outlets.

Mark then created this amazing space under the stairs. Hello Puppet Theatre!

The Princesses are in love with the space and don't like waiting for the rest of the basement to be finished. My plan once we have flooring and walls is to add a red curtain to the window, and paint the front with chalkboard paint. That way they can "Present" their shows.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday Tip - Inspiration


Today I want to motivate and inspire you! How long have you had your furniture arranged the way it is? Do you like the way it looks? Is it user friendly? Does it invite?  
My front room did not. I didn't like the way the furniture was arranged. I rarely did anything in that room but let the kids run amok, and have visitors. The running amok and visitors didn't mesh well either. Last week I decided to create a sitting area in our bay window. It is a part of our front room, but at the same time it is also separated from the front room. 
So I changed it. I fixed it to my liking! It's actually something I will do quite frequently. I like change.  Some people though have a hard time with it. I'm here to tell you today, don't be afraid of change. Change can be good and exciting!!  Let me show you.
This is what it used to look like. If you look to the right you'll see where the front door is. It opens up against this room, kind of blocking it from view and separating it from the rest of the room.
This is what it looks like now~
It has made this room more warm and inviting. With the couch facing the rest of the room, it pulls both sides of the room together, despite the door in the middle.  
Last week I wrote about creating a sitting area in the bay window. I tried many different arrangements, and got  some good feedback. Here is what I decided to go with.
Although I too liked having both chairs here with the smaller table, you'll noticed I left the second chair on the other side of the room. Together they pull things in and create the space I wanted. Although I may find an excuse to visit Ikea for a third matching chair. At which point I would be able to make the sitting area open for two. 

Now see? Don't you want to go rearrange your furniture? Don't be afraid. Take a look at your room. Grab some pencils and paper. Make some sketches of what you imagine. Try different arrangements. Once you get started, I'm sure you'll find a simple furniture rearranging satisfying and mood lifting. 
I should probably mention as well, that I did all of this while Mark was at work. I wasn't sure how much he would like the new arrangement, so I figured it would be better to do it, and then change it again if needed, then to just leave it alone. Turns out, Mark likes it a lot. He was really impressed, and told me it was a whole lot better than what we had before. 
Ta Da! Change is good for everyone!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lets Cook App Review and Bertolli Olive Oil Giveaway

Have you ever turned on the cooking channel and wished you didn't have to go search the internet for a recipe, or sat there trying to write every ingredient down?  Yeah me too! All new from Fabio Viviani Top Chef All Stars and Season 5 Fan Favorite, is the Let's Cook App for Ipad, Iphone, and even Itouch!! I was really excited to try out this app. I love cooking, and I love Top Chef. Fabio is definitely a favorite here.
The Let's Cook App features
 - More than 5 hours of video right at your finger tips (no streaming required)
 - 16 step-by-step video recipes in full HD
 - 100+ recipes hand-selected by Chef Fabio
 - A dozen of Chef Fabio’s cooking and entertaining tip and menu suggestions

Here's a little teaser for you!

After first downloading Let's Cook I started browsing the recipes.  Oh my goodness there were so many good looking ones!!! It's been a lot of fun to watch Fabio cook and read some of the tips.  I learned that cutting cherry tomatoes, is actually pretty easy!  Here's what the app looks like. On the right is a scroll bar where you'll find the video recipes, more recipes, and tips. On the left is Fabio. He gives you a little introduction, welcoming you to the App. Let's Cook is a very friendly, easy to use app!

So for dinner one night last week we had some Fresh Fettuccine with Crispy Pancetta, Mushrooms, and Cherry Tomatoes. It was divine.  My kids ate it up like it was the best stuff ever, and Mark asked if there was more. We had no leftovers, a very odd occurrence in  our household. 

Don't worry I'm not going to just leave you with the picture, and my review. Why don't you try it for yourself? Here's the recipe!

by Chef Fabio Viviani

Serves 2, double ingredients for 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
2 cups cherry tomatoes (20 small), halved and seeded
2 Tbsp. Bertolli® Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 ounces pancetta or bacon, diced
1 Tbsp. Bertolli® Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil
4 to 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
12 ounces oyster mushrooms, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup chicken broth, divided
8 ounces fresh fettuccine
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Shaved Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 475°. Drizzle tomatoes with Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Arrange in baking pan and roast 5 to 10 minutes or until wilted.
Sauté pancetta with Bertolli Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil over medium-high heat until crisp. Season with fresh ground black pepper and very little salt. Add garlic and mushrooms and sauté until golden brown.
Add roasted tomatoes and 1/4 cup broth to sauté pan. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered.
Add fettuccini to boiling water over high heat, stirring occasionally until it floats, approx. 5 to 8 minutes.
Add cooked fettuccine to sauté pan and remaining broth. Increase heat and drizzle with Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Add parsley. Simmer 2 to 5 minutes.
Top with shaved Parmesan and serve.

We also tried the Bruschetta Margarita.  A simple, yet delicious Bruschetta!

* I was provided with Let's Cook App for Itouch to review. All opinions are my own. I was also provided with a bottle of Bertolli Olive Oil to use with the Let's Cook App, and one to giveaway.

Head on over to the Let's Cook site to learn more and download your app today! Then make sure to enter the Rafflecopter form below to win you're own bottle of Bertolli Olive Oil, the featured Olive Oil in the Let's Cook App!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Creating a sitting area

It has happened again. I always want to rearrange the furniture, but for some reason I never do until I'm pregnant. Some hormone or something really kicks in and my motivation moves up a couple notches. We have this very nice bay window right inside our front door. Although it is nice, it is also a bit of an awkward area. I had turned it into a craft area for awhile, but it just became a dumping ground for everything. Eventually we want to put in a window seat. In the meantime though, here's some arrangements I've come up with this morning.
the dumping grounds

All cleaned out

2 chairs with side table

1 chair with side table

2 chairs with bass drum table

1 chair with bass drum table.
I'm leaning towards the 1 chair with the side table. I may even pull out a bookshelf to go next to the chair.  That may just cause more messes though. Opinions?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sea-Band Review and Giveaway!

Morning sickness, ugh. What is there to say about morning sickness? Personally I think they named it wrong, can we all agree to call it All day sickness? I think it's a much more accurate description.  Of course, this is the first real experience I've had with All Day Sickness. I'd get bouts of nausea with Princesses, but nothing that lasted all day every day.  This pregnancy has been very different. For the last 2 almost 3 weeks now I've felt so sick. I haven't gotten sick, but have you ever been to the point where you wish you could just be sick to get over the feeling of nausea? I'm far past that point now too!  I'd really like it to all just up and dissappear.
Then I heard about Sea-Band, the natural anti-nausea relief. It uses the ancient Chinese art of accupressure to pinpoint the spot on your wrist that will release natural chemicals that trigger the body's  natural healing process.  In the past I probably would've scoffed at something like this. I just didn't really think that one spot on my body could make a huge difference. I was at the point that I was going to try everything. I spent a few too many days laid out on the couch wishing that magically the kids would be fed, and the house would be clean, hahaha...still dreaming that. So like I was saying, I decided to give Sea-Band a try, and I am impressed.
The first day wearing them, I was a little worried because it's a fairly thick piece of cloth on your wrist, and we have no A/C. I wasn't fond of intentionally making my wrists hot and sweaty, but the nausea outweighed my heat discomfort. The first hour, I didn't feel any different and my wrists were getting itchy from the heat, but I wanted to really give them a chance. After that hour, I almost forgot they were even on, and the nausea wasn't nearly as bad. I could still feel a "disturbance" somewhere, but I had energy, and moving around actually was possible. I even wore them to playgroup that day. Which I do have a nice suggestion for the people at Sea-Band, could you make it a little more stylish? At times I felt I was on parole with these thick black wristbands. Of course I didn't care too much about style though since they were working!
Now my dr did prescribe me some Zofran, which has also helped in the nausea relief department, but I'm pregnant, and my mind gets easily lost. So day 2 of wearing the Sea Band happened when at lunchtime I realized I had not taken any Zofran, and the nausea was setting back in big time. On went the Sea-Bands, and this time within 5 minutes I felt completely normal, and there was no itching either. Sweet!! I'm seriously loving these things!!
Sea-Band also makes some ginger gum to help relieve nausea. My personal experience, it had too much ginger in it, but it did help keep the nausea away.

Are you ready to win your own set of Sea-Bands and Ginger Gum? Great! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below, and you'll be entered to win!  Win it for yourself, or as a great gift for a pregnant friend.  Oh, did I mention, these will also help with carsickness?!

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