Home Maid Simple: January 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Plan a Successful Family Reunion {Guest Post}

My mom's side of the family has a reunion every 4 years. I always loved getting together with my extended family and more so now that I'm older with kids. With my brother living across the country, we are hoping to start planning our own reunions with my siblings and parents soon.  I was excited when Melissa asked me if she could guest post on Planning Family Reunions.

With that intro, here's Melisa

Six Steps to Take When Planning a Perfect Family Reunion This Year

Family reunions are an exciting and excellent way to keep in touch with your extended family. Family members can enjoy each other's company, meet the newest members of the family, and catch up on each other's lives. Planning a family reunion involves careful preparation to make sure everyone enjoys themselves to the fullest and to avoid any family drama. Here are six steps that you can take to make planning your reunion stress and problem free.

Confirm Who Will be Attending

The most important step is to confirm who is interested and will be attending the reunion. It is important to have a number of family members attending for all of the next steps. This might be difficult since most people won’t know if they’re free until there’s a set date, but at least get a lose number for how many are coming.

Set the Time, Date, and Location

This is a fun step to take, finding a location is number one. Local parks will most likely allow you to host for free, just call up your city and make sure that permits are taken care of, if needed. After the location is set, the time, and date are next, and everyone can have a say in these. You want everyone to be able to come, so everyone needs to be flexible and considerate. Ask everyone to vote through an email or choose the mode that fits most family members. Once you have this set, you can make the invitations, and you can purchase them online, print, and mail invitations or send evites if you have a tech-savvy family.

Choose a Theme

You want to give your party a theme so you can decorate, dress-up, or purchase items accordingly. Some popular themes for family reunions include, Hawaiian luau, black & white, vintage, 80's style, and bright colors. Just take weather when choosing a theme, you don’t want everyone to be miserable if the temperature dips down, and everyone’s in shorts.

Delegate Work

It is impossible to do all the planning and work yourself, so once you have the basics set, start delegating responsibilities to other family members that are willing to help. You can assign the food, decorations, party favors, and confirmation calls to different volunteers.

Place Your Orders

Make sure everything that you will need is ordered and purchased, you can go online and look for party favors to give away at the reunion. Some popular favors are personalized rubber band bracelets, or a small bag of cookies, or customized t-shirts. If you want everyone to contribute to the cost of the reunion, you should start crunching numbers and sending everyone an email on what amount they will have to pay to attend.

Confirm and Make Checklists

You want to confirm attendance with everyone at least one week prior to the event to make sure there are no last minute changes. Make checklists of things that you need to take with you the day of the reunion to ensure that you have everything you need on that day.

Author Bio
This article was written by Melisa on behalf of Reminderband.com. Please visit their website for the contact info for Reminderband, for more information on placing orders.

Social Media Effects the Home {Think About It}


Google Plus

Just a few of the many social media sites out there. What started as a way to connect with long lost friends, and family has grown into something bigger. We now connect with our favorite brands, companies, political parties, television shows and more.  We even "like" people/pages we don't know for the sake of a giveaway, or to help a friend win something

Have we taken it too far?  Has life online become more important than real life with real interactions?  What effect is this having on our families - in our homes?

Many of you asked for this topic to be discussed. You wanted to know what effects social media has on the home, if there's anything we can do to make it stay positive without overtaking our lives or our kids.

I tell you it can. Social media can be used for so much good, and used right can be a tool for bringing families closer together.  Now, granted I don't have teens, or kids old enough to use social media yet, so my thoughts are based on what I've seen others do.

How can we use Social Media for Good?

First off, we can use sites like facebook to connect with family. We don't live very close to any of our family, so it's nice to take a few minutes each day to see how our siblings are doing. If they're sick, or having fun family vacations. We connect in a way, that otherwise we probably wouldn't. Especially with Mark's family scattered across the nation, I find I have a relationship and can help my kids know their cousins better through online interaction.

Secondly - charities. There are so many ways to get involved online with charities. It used to be you'd get a phone call, or letter asking for a donation. We only heard of the groups that already had immense amounts of money because they could reach the farthest. With social media we can spread awareness for every charity, every sickness world issue. While speaking of it, let me tell you about the charity I support - National Alopecia Areata Foundation. You can read why I support this foundation on my sponsor page.  Social Media has created an online community of support and awareness I otherwise wouldn't have had.

When does it become too much? 

So we know Social Media can be used for good. It's not evil. But when does it become too much? I remember a few years ago, when I was deep in the thralls of facebook games....farmville anyone..... I heard stories of mothers shaking their kids, allowing anger to overcome them because a child disrupted their game.

I mean really? It seems crazy to me that anyone could let something overtake their life so much like that. But then I started evaluated my life. I was letting the house go so I could play a game. I was checking into facebook every few minutes, putting things off until the last minute. I may not have outwardly shown it in my personality, but I was letting social media take over my life. That's about when I started this blog. Something had to be done. 

Maybe you take your kids to the park, and sit on a bench checking facebook on your phone. Or your missing the interaction with a live person as you check out with your groceries while tweeting about the crazy "Walmart fashions" you just saw.  Where is Social Media effecting you?

Are you finding yourself sucked into social media? Neglecting your house? your kids? real relationships? 

I find setting aside a specific time each day to leave the internet behind is the best way to bring the family back together in the home. For me, it's dinner time. We ignore our phones, the ipads are kept out, and we sit at the table. Every night, we eat our dinner at the table. Sometimes we'll have a picnic with a movie, but it is a very rare treat. At the dinner table we can talk, get to know our children better, and hear about their days.

I want to hear from you. Where do you draw the line with Social Media? How is it effecting your home?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Furniture Make-Overs

I've decided this will be known as the Year of Furniture Make Overs. With the aid of pinterest and of course a new house to decorate, I've started seeing ideas for furniture make-overs all over the place. 

The first one being our Entertainment Center. We got this from friends before they moved to Alaska last year. When we bought a flat screen for Christmas, we no longer had use of this.  I had ideas though. I've finally decided on turning it into a Dress-Up Closet for the kids. It will stay so much more organized than the box they are currently in.

 This is my entertainment center
below is my inspiration

My next project will be an outdoor bench we have. We redid it a few years ago, but it has since warped again. I'd like to remake it this time into an inside bench. Instead of a lift top, I want to remove the front and add baskets.  Something like this -

And lastly, for now, is a dresser make-over.  I've been itching to do this for a few months now to Prince L's dresser. Only problem was he didn't have a dresser. Until now that is. Isn't it beautiful?

Source: flor.com via Adelina on Pinterest

Now I just need to get warmer weather so I can start these projects.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dressing up a 70's Home - Japanese Style

Our home was built in the mid-late 70's. Besides the outside structure, many of the inside features were still a throwback to the 70's. One specifically I hope you can all imagine, is the shag carpet on the WALLS of our basement stairwell. Though they may have had the right idea - talk about sound control.  Many of the prominent walls are also covered in wall paper (as well as the inside of every cupboard, and random patches in the bathroom....).

My favorite feature though, is the glass mirrored wall in our family room.

The picture doesn't quite do it justice. It is actually a black mirror with tan veins running through it. When we first moved in, I wanted this wall to go. It has since grown on me as Mark and I have debated what we could do with it.

Mark's parents have been living in Japan for the past 5 years. We were lucky enough to visit them one year for Christmas. Since then, Mark and I have looked for ways to incorporate some Japanese style into our home. This wall gave us the inspiration. We'll start with a simple buffet table in the center.
Finn Sideboard
Something like this from One King's Lane Day of Furniture Sale (70% off Home Furnishings now until Thursday 1/31). 
A table like this would be the perfect centerpiece for displaying our Japanese Dolls I picked up at the outdoor Mall in Sasebo. We could then store all the china we also purchased inside the cupboard - and let me tell you, we purchased china! From little sake cups to rice bowls. Sadly we've never had a good place to keep them.

Hanging behind the buffet table I would mount my silk Kimono - a must I insisted on purchasing. Really, who goes to Japan and doesn't come home with a Kimono? They were hard to find though in a price range I could afford. Thankfully there were plenty of consignment stores to browse around.
Framing the Kimono would be our Japanese scrolls that Grandma P sent the kids for Christmas. 

Can you picture it?  Let's go back to our Black Wall - now add the table, dolls, kimono and scrolls. Picture it on a white wall - now go back to the black wall. What a difference right? I can't wait to get started putting it all together. I just have to decide which table I want now...

*This is a sponsored post for One Kings Lane. All opinions are my own. One Kings Lane is having a special Furniture Day Sale from 1/29-1/31. Up to 70% off some amazing home decor items from your living room to your patio. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Valentines Gift Basket {Giveaway}

Time sure does fly by! I keep seeing pins everywhere for Valentines Day, and some of my favorite bloggers have been posting Valentines Day Craft Ideas, Printable Cards, and Treats.  Then I looked at the Calendar.

Yup, only 3 weeks until Valentines Day (which also means 3 weeks until I have a 5 year old). So, what to do for Valentines Day?  My first stop was to get some "cards" for Princess V's class. They really push reading here, so I thought these Owl bookmarks from Living Locurto were perfect
Owl Valentine's Day Bookmarks - Free Printable Design by Amy Locurto at LivingLocurto.com
(FYI, go to her website, and these are FREE to print out! Plus many more!)
Of course we needed to find a good treat to celebrate the day too. I like to start the morning with heart shaped pancakes or French Toast, and some Strawberry syrup. With strawberries and raspberries on the side. Later in the day this Valentine Popcorn Munch would make a sweet treat

For more Valentines Day Ideas, visit my Pinterest Board.

Are you ready to share the love?  Holiday Gifts and Baskets is giving away one of their Valentines Day Gift Baskets valued up to $60. Pretty Sweet, right?  Look what you have to choose from -

Option 3 - Sweet Treat
Entering is really simple! Just read the rules, and then follow the Rafflecopter form.
Giveaway is open to US Residents 18+ (48contiguous states, sorry Alaska and Hawaii).  Entries close February 7th at midnight. Winner is chosen randomly and will be given 3 days to respond via email before a new winner is chosen.

Just Do It! {Menu Plan}

Something seemed to click in me over the weekend. I'm not sure what it was entirely, but I have this sudden urge to be a better home maker. I mean, it's something I was working on already, but I have this better desire, and I can see more of what needs to be done without feeling overwhelmed.
Anyone else get that overwhelmed feeling when they start to think of everything they need to do?  Sort of like there aren't enough hours in the day, so why even bother?  I don't feel like that anymore.
We went to hang out with our 16 year old niece this weekend. Her parents were gone for the weekend, and didn't want her home alone. It was a nice break from my regular routine. Now normally when we go on mini vacations like this, the car doesn't get unpacked for days to come, and the suitcases sit around with dirty clothes while I get back into routine.
Not this time! I made the consious decision, and then the effort to clean out the van, AND put it all away when we got home. I asked Mark for his help, before we even pulled into the drive way. Since he was mentally prepared to help as well, the kids were mostly good at also helping.
It really made a nice night for all of us. We got our vacation cleaned up, and then got to relax watching Bolt with popcorn and hot chocolate.  And the best part for me...Prince L then slept through the night (a rare occurrence indeed). Getting enough sleep led to an early morning of pondering my scriptures, and begining my menu plan for the week, as well as time well spent playing pirates and dancing crazy before the Princesses woke up.
Moral of this story - JUST DO IT! You'll find it doesn't take as much time, you'll have more time for the fun things, and you'll feel better about yourself.
On the menu this week -
Monday - Pasta of the Sea (very similar to this Creamy Garlic Shells with Salmon)
Tuesday - Pork Chops and Beans
Wednesday - Potato Egg Supper
Thursday - Fried Rice 
Friday - leftovers
Saturday - Sushi 
Sunday - Lasagna

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Perfect Day


Link up your answers at I Am a Reader not a Writer

Top 5 songs on your playlist?
Oh goodness..I don't have a top 5.  If I'm not reading, I've got Pandora playing the rest of the days.  Good music is equivalent to a good book for me.  I listen to a lot of kids music (fresh beat band, Lori Berliner) and LDS music. Country and oldies are some of favorites too.

How much time do you spend reading each week?
Well for sure, at least 40 minutes a day, while sitting in the school pick up/drop off line.  Then our oldest is supposed to read 30 minutes a day - which means we read to her since she's just learning.  

What is the last thing you googled?
Ummmm, I don't recall. I honestly don't google a whole lot. It was probably something about home decor, remodeling, or gardening.

Favorite places to travel?
Anywhere with family. Though I love seeing the world, so traveling abroad would be my dream. But we don't do that too often....like once in a blue moon.

What is your favorite way to spend a rainy day?
Baking up my own storm in the kitchen. Sitting at the window watching the rain and lightening, and ending the day with a book or movie by the fireplace.  Perfect day!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Rosemary Grape Pork Loin {Foodie Friday}


Hosted at
Home Maid Simple
Simple Living and Eating

Before I get into today's recipe, I wanted to share this great post with you.  Meagan from Sunshine and Sippy Cups has put together a great guide on Where to Submit Your Recipes.  As well as sites to submit your recipes, she also has some resources for improving your food photography (something I need to work on).

When we moved, I realized I had a box full, I mean a BOX FULL of evaporated milk.  I must have bought them on a sale or something, to have this many. Thankfully, I also found in my recipe collection a Carnation Evaporated Milk recipe book. Score one for my recipe hoarding skills. At least one meal a day for the last week has included evaporated milk in it. I wouldn't know what to do with it otherwise.

This recipe was originally from Carnations recipe book, but I've made a few additions and changes to give it a boost.

Rosemary Grape Pork Loin

1/4 tsp Rosemary
1/4 tsp Thyme
1/4 tsp Garlic Salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 lb center cut Pork Loin, sliced to a 1/2 inch thickness
1/2 tsp whole wheat flour
5 oz Evaporated Milk
4 small mushrooms, sliced
1/2 small yellow onion chopped
1 cup red grapes, chopped

Mix rosemary, thyme, garlic salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Sprinkle on Pork.
Heat oil in a large frying pan, over medium heat.  Add pork. Cook about 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Remove pork from the pan, and keep warm in the oven.
Add flour, milk, mushrooms, and onion to the pan. Turn heat to medium low. Stir, scraping brown bits off the pan, until thickened. Add grapes, and cook for another minute. 
Plate the pork and pour on the Grape sauce. Enjoy.


Egg Free French Toast 
I love this! There have been many days I've wanted to make French Toast, only to realize I had no eggs.

Tomato Herb Focaccia
Focaccia is a great bread to add a little flavor and fun to. With the tomato, it looks like a perfect lunch on it's own.

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust
Brilliant idea here. Another great way to sneak a vegetable into your kids favorite foods.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Till Death Do We Part? {Think About It}


It's a phrase we've all heard.

Till Death Do We Part

The question I pose today, though, is how often do we truly commit to that promise? In these days, how many couples stay married until death parts them?  

It seems to me, that more and more, the words should be rephrased "Till I'm sick of picking up your socks" or "Till I'm bored, and want a change of life."

Think about it.

How many people do you know have been through a divorce, have divorced parents, perhaps you're divorce yourself?

When the Exception becomes the Norm

"Mawage. Mawage is what bwings us togeffer today" ~Princess Bride

I'm sure you've all seen it, but let me recap. Buttercup has been forced to marry the Prince. She doesn't love him though, she loves Wesley, but believes he is dead.  After the ceremony, Buttercup is alone in her chamber and begins to take a knife to her chest. It is better she be dead than married. When suddenly there is Wesley. Buttercup than suffers a conflict - she's married, but her love is actually alive. She could just run off with Wesley, but she doesn't. That is until Wesley shows her she isn't married, because she never said "I Do".

Alright, this might be a confusing, and complicated example, bare with me here. 

Marriage and the act of marrying someone meant a commitment. At least until death. Now I'm not saying opt for suicide over divorce, please don't read into it that much! What I'm saying is Buttercup was married, and she knew the commitment that she made (but didn't really). 

I ask, when did the exceptions for divorce - unfaithfulness, abuse - turn into a normal occurrence? We divorce because "we fell out of love" or "she/he isn't the same person". When did marriage become easy? 

Think about it!

For Time and All Eternity 

In the LDS faith, in our temples, we don't marry until death. Instead the words "For time and all eternity" are used. We truly believe that we will be married beyond death. Connecting our families past, present and future generations. 

Does that mean it's easy? No! I want to be very honest with you here. Mark and I have had our share of struggles. A few years ago, the word Divorce came up. I think the mere mention of that word sent Mark and I into a little shock. It's something neither of us had ever considered, so having it crop up so easily in a time of marital strife, was a shocker. 

We chose to change. He had things to work on, and so did I.  I couldn't hold a grudge and analyze his every action waiting for him to mess up. I had to trust that he would change, and work on my own problems, and hope that he trusted me enough to change as well. 

We love each other, and we love our kids. We weren't going to take our promise to love each other for eternity lightly. We wanted to make our marriage work. For each other, and for our kids. 

Think about it.

How does Marriage effect Home life?

It does, doesn't it? Otherwise, why do we bother with marriage? Why do same sex couples push so hard to have legal marriages? 

There must be something we find important in a legal and binding marriage.  Otherwise, wouldn't we all just live with whoever, whenever, having babies as they come?

Here are my thoughts. Of course, they are faith based as well. I believe marriage is something ordained of God. I believe the family is central to our eternal lives. What is life without love? What would an eternity without our loved ones be like?  

My top priority is to raise my kids in a loving home. If I wasn't married I feel an important aspect of love would be missing for my kids. As we sacrifice for our spouses, our kids see that. They may not understand it as an act of love in their young ages, but one day they will. Did you see how we just bought a dog? I am really not a dog person, or any animal for that matter (though chickens I think would be fun...). I often found many excuses for us to not buy a dog. I always justified them with "one day. I promise". Well that day came. I had to let go of my own reservation and feelings, because deep down, I knew it would make Mark happy (the kids too). And you know what, I wanted Mark to be happy. Turns out we got a pretty good dog, I'm in love with him already.

What does divorce teach our kids? 
What does marriage teach them?

Think about it!

(Feel free to grab this printable! Right click and save)

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Let's have an open discussion below. 

Note: I am not suggesting suicide in place of divorce. I am not suggesting you stay in an abusive marriage. If you are being abused, I urge you to seek help. A marriage takes work from both parties, and there truly is only so much one person can give.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Look at our Kitchen


Isn't it pretty?  I cleaned it especially for you guys today. Yes we bought another house wish a hallway kitchen.  It does have more room and potential than our last kitchen though, and infinitely more counter space than our rental.

This year we plan on remodeling the bathrooms, but I believe the Kitchen is on our to do for next year. In the meantime I may do a little touching up here and there. I love the pull down shade in the window, but it's pretty dirty. I'm hoping my sewing skills are up to the task of redoing it with some fun fabric. Although I'm more worried about my mechanical skills to make sure it still works once I'm done. Of course the wallpaper also has to go, and a back splash behind the oven is needed.

I obviously need more chalkboard stickers on my canisters as well. I usually have to open 2 or more to find what I'm looking for. Of course there's my stack of cooking magazines as well. Always handy for quick menu planning.

Eventually it will all come together.

I'm linking up this week with Mama Kat's Writing Prompts

Mama’s Losin’ It

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A new Addition to our Home: Tank the Pug

Well, we did something I always said we would do, but continually pushed to the side. We bought a dog.  Mark is a dog lover - always has been. I'm more of a dog - there, me - here, kind of person. Much like any fear, everytime I gave myself moments to think about bringing a dog into our home, I came up with a list of cons much greater than the pros. And the more I looked at it, the more anxiety I felt.
Of course I felt guilt too, always telling Mark "not this year" "let's wait" "I'll think about it". But for once, my anxiety fully outweighed any guilt I could feel.

Until Saturday that is. We had a very productive morning cleaning, and doing chores. The one day I insist everyone pitch in with the bigger cleaning.
OK admittedly the before picture wasn't that bad Saturday. That was taken when we first moved in. But this room was our unpacking zone, so it was still quite cluttered. Doesn't it look so much better?

I digress. We have promised the kids that if they do well on their Saturday chores, then we can have an adventure in the afternoon. We started this two weeks ago, and had great success. That week, our adventure was to McDonald's PlayLand - so fun!

Last Saturday, our adventure was supposed to be an afternoon of sledding. That quickly changed. While waiting for Prince L to wake from his nap, Mark was browsing Pugs for sale. He just loved Pugs, and showing them to me with his own puppy dog face. This time, the pug wasn't too far away, and the owners were willing to meet us halfway (near my parents). So our afternoon of sledding turned into an afternoon in the car to potentially check out a dog - although in my mind we were just going to visit my parents. It helped keep the anxiety at bay.

Of course once we saw Tank, the girls fell in love, Mark was in love, and I was outnumbered 5 to 1. Nope not even Prince L was on my side. We loaded Tank into our mini-van and headed to PetSmart to purchase the neccesary dog items - Food, bed, harness, kennel, and of course a dog tag with his name and our address.

Top of my list was the Kennel.  I don't feel comfortable having a dog running about our house when we're not home, or in the middle of the night. So far, he's not a fan of the kennel. It may be too small - so we're looking into a bigger one, or finding some other way to keep him contained but with more room to move about.

Today happens to be the first day I've had Tank alone. Mark is back at work after our 3 day weekend. I was nervous to tell you the truth, but so far so good. He's been a good dog, and most of my anxiety has gone away. He did get pretty rambunctious at one point, and showed his teeth while making some awful noises, that he followed up with whining. I remedied it by taking him out back, and just walking around with him. Seems like he just wanted a little company while he explored the backyard further.

There was also the incident of running off down the road, just as we needed to be loading the car for Kindergarten drop off. Once I got the kids to stop chasing him however, he came bounding back. A biscuit for listening, and into the kennel he went until we came back home.

How do you feel about pets? 

5 Ways to improve bedroom design {Guest Post}


5 Tricky Ways to Improve your Bedroom

The bedroom is one of the most personal spaces you can design according to your personal preference in the house. It is the room you go to after a long and tiring day at work. It is also a sanctuary where you can feel most at home. The ambiance should be one that’s invigorating. However, oftentimes we only have ordinary linens, regular-sized bed and plain colored walls with no added features. In this article, we will teach you some tricky ways on how to improve your bedroom.
1. Be Creative with the Pillows
Don’t just stick to having rectangular pillows on your bed. Instead, buy those shaped like a heart, a star, or even a cartoon character. Match this creativity with bold designs for the cases of the pillow. Try color blocks and different patterns to form accents in your room. Rather than small prints, opt for big ones. Floral, geometric and abstract lines are recommended.
2. Build Improvised Book Shelves
Book shelves do not need to be those bulky ones when they are to be positioned inside your bedroom. If you are a book lover, why not decorate your room with shelves on your current big blank wall? Get a medium-sized wood and ask a carpenter, family member or friend to put it up against the wall—and voila! You get instantly cool-looking shelves. Paint them with a color that best complements the rest of the four sides of the room.
3. Hang Large Artworks as Decors
Artworks may be in the form of photographs, drawings, illustrations, scanned works or paintings. For an interesting appeal, a tricky way is to cut out one whole landscape painting into three, frame each of them and hang them on the wall against your bed. If a piece of furniture is too much for your budget, these beautiful frames can be your local point taking the central angle in the bedroom. Just don’t overdo it unless you want your room to look like a part of an art museum.
4. Buy a Transformational Bed
By a transformational bed, it can be a bed that can be converted into a sofa, a table and one that can be put back to the wall—thus hiding it when not in use. There are custom-made ones of these beds and those available as ready-made from retailers. Incorporate unique finds like this and you’ll amaze your guests the next time they enter your room.

5. Layer Your Flooring With Classy Vinyl Tiles
Never underestimate or ignore the floor. Occupying the largest area in the room, the floor is one that can get most attention when improved with all-out commitment. You can inject hints of different colors and don’t stay put with ordinary wood parquet, neutrals or the monochromes. If you don’t want to change the entire flooring, invest in a really soft and exquisite carpet or rug and give your bedroom a touch of royalty.
Bedroom improvements do not have to be a full-scale expensive project. Simple replacements of cute pieces here and there would spell a lot of difference when put together. Consider upgrading the look of your room every once in a while. Opt for a more livable space while expressing your creative freedom. With a good layout of plans, you’ll surely put your dream room to life.

Author Bio:

Treisha is a portrait of a modern-day Party Girl. Nights of dancing and socializing are not uncommon in Treisha’s life, but she claims to know and respect her limits. When responsibilities and opportunities align themselves, she knows how to prioritize them and keep them in order. Treisha works part-time as a blog manager and writer for Uratex Blog. You can also follow Treisha on Twitter

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pasta anyone? {Menu Plan}

I'm trying to minimize our meat intake, and up our veggies and fruit. After I planned our menu this week, I looked it over and realized I added a lot of pasta's in exchange for meat dishes. I would love for some meatless inspiration to hit that doesn't involve pasta!

Monday - Ham and Tater Corn Chowder
Tuesday - Leftover Spaghetti Bake
Wednesday - Chicken Fajita Taquito Rolls

Thursday - Pork Tenderloin with grapes and Herb Sauce
Friday - Pasta of the Sea
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - Lasagna

A little late, we got Christmas presents from my brothers family over the weekend. They sent the Prnicesses the Pinkalicious books. In one they make and eat Pink Cupcakes.  I love bringing books to life for my kids, so we'll be making our own Pink Cupcakes this week.  Princess C has also requested we make a banana yogurt trifle.

I'm linking up here -

Saturday, January 19, 2013

World Domination and a Good Book

Welcome back to Know Me Better
this weeks questions are
10 words that describe yourself? kind, mom, booky, homemaker, shy, quiet, calm, passionate, passive, encompassing (I had to get help from Mark. I don't do self reflection too much...)

Favorite TV Shows? Doctor Who. My friend Linda (Books for Me) was always talking about this British sci-fi show. I sat down to watch it one day, and I've been hooked ever since. Mark things I'm silly, but I love it. I'm also enjoying Downton Abbey, though not as much as others seem to, and Emily Owens, MD.

If you could take over the world, would you? World Domination.... "What are we going to do tonight?" "The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!"....I use to have grand world domination ideas. I don't think I could ever get close though, so I no longer entertain the idea.  I'll just stick to taking over your minds here at Home Maid Simple.

Who was the first boy you kissed? Mark. My husband. I knew we were going to get married, so we kissed. The opportunity just never presented itself before.

How do you unwind?   

A hot bath, a good book, or cuddled up by a fire with a good book and some hot cocoa.
I'd love to hear your answers to these questions. You can link up at I am a Reader Not a Writer, and then browse some other bloggers answers.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Strawberry Cocoa Spongecake {Foodie Friday}

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Strawberry Cocoa Spongecake

 Princess C got a Strawberry Shortcake activity book from her aunts a little before Christmas. Ever since she has been begging to make a Strawberry Shortcake - cake from it. I finally caved and bought the expensive fruit to make this fun dessert with the kids. The recipe in her book didn't actually have the cake recipe, so I went in search of a shortcake recipe. In the end, I found a really yummy looking spongecake recipe in my Home For Dinner cookbook from BHG.  I tweaked it a bit for a chocolate craving.  

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 TBS butter
1 TBS Dutch processed Cocoa Powder

1 cup Heavy Cream
1 1/2 TBS powdered sugar
1 tsp Vanilla

Sliced Strawberries

Grease a 9X9 pan. Preheat oven to 350 F
Combine flour and baking powder in a small bowl. Set aside.
Beat eggs and vanilla until a lemony color. Slowly add in sugar. Beat until the sugar is mostly dissolved.  Gradually add the flour mixture, until combined.
On the stove, heat the buttermilk and butter until the butter is melted. Add the cocoa powder, stirring until completely dissolved.  
Add the cocoa mixture to the egg mixture, stirring until combined.  Pour mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

To make the whipping cream, add all the ingredients into a seal-able jar. Shake shake shake. This is really fun for the kids to help out. After 10 minutes you should have a nice whipped cream topping. 

Spread the cream on the cake, top with sliced Strawberries and enjoy!

and the kids truly did enjoy!


Individual Quiche
These are perfect for my daughter who loves eggs, and I can make something else for the non egg lovers in this house.

French Loaves
I'm always looking for a classic french bread to go with our soups.

spinach & artichoke wontons-3
Spinach and Artichoke Wontons
These look so cute, and full of healthy ingredients!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Social Impact on the Home {Think About It}

It's a new year, and I'm switching things up with this weekly meme. When we began Think About It Thursday, I had some amazing co hosts, and we had a link party going on. It never really took off though. We were all getting burned out, and weren't sure how to make it better. So we took some time off around the holidays.

This week I've been thinking about it again, and decided I would bring back Think About It Thursday, but as a sole blogger. No link party. Just a weekly meme for me to talk about some deeper topics. I found in my Top 10 posts from 2012, that the majority of you visited when I got a little deeper. So my hope is this brings you back each week to have an open discussion on different topics.

You may be wondering "but Adelina, how does that relate to the home?"  Well, let me sum it up for you with my new title -

Think About It Thursday

Social Impact on the Home

I'll discuss different topics as they impact home life. How as a stay at home mom, the larger social issues still effect me.  I want to help change the stereotype that as a stay at home mom I don't have an opinion, that I'm somehow less than my husband, or that outside of my little family nothing else matters. It does. The world around me matters greatly, because it is a world my kids will face as they go to school, make friends of different faiths and races, and enter the workforce.
I personally believe we should all take an active role in our communities, on a level that fits us. For some that means heading up the PTA, and planning events. For others it might just be silent support through voting on issues, and attending community events.
Some issues we discuss may be political in nature, others religious. Sometimes I might tell you about local events, or national events and how you can get involved. I may discuss different charities I support, and some I don't.
Most of all, I want an open discussion with you my readers. I want to hear your thoughts and opinions. I want to know what's important to you, and why you feel passionately about  it.

Tell me, what topics would you like to see on Thursdays?

What social impact do you feel in your home?

*I'm excited to be kicking off our new Think About It Thursday: Social Impact on the Home with Blogelina's 20 Comments event. Welcome new readers - feel free to browse around, and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thirft Store Find {Wordless Wednesday}


On Saturday we headed to the thrift store to see if we could find any winter gear for the kids. We've got quite a bit of snow, and wanted to go sledding.
We didn't find any of the gear we needed (snow pants and boots), but we did walk away with this desk! I've been wanting an old school desk for the girls to do homework on, but never had the luck of coming across one. I saw this, and knew I was going to leave with it, and redo it. That was when it was covered in snow. Once I brushed the snow off I found a chalkboard top, and already repainted seat. It was ready to go right inside.
As you can see, the Princesses really enjoy working at it, and playing around it. I've been struggling to get Princess C to do any of the preschool books we bought lately, but now she looks forward to it. Having a special space for her has made all the difference!

Want to know how much I paid?  $8

4 Things to do Before Bringing Home Baby {Guest Post}


Pregnancy is an exciting time, but there are several tasks to take care of before bringing your little bundle of joy home. So here are some of the most important things you will want to handle ahead of time. When you are ready before the birth of your child, you will enjoy the final weeks of pregnancy more and be more relaxes when it’s time to deliver your sweet baby.

Clothes and Bedding

You know how important it is to have the crib and changing table for your baby, but you also need a collection of clothing and bedding. Multiple sets of sheets and changing pad covers should be on hand because they will be changed often, and so take the time and wash all bedding and clothing in a safe, gentle detergent like Dreft to protect your baby’s skin.

Hygiene and Diapers

Babies go through an incredible amount of diapers, so if you are going to use disposable diapers, you can start stocking up on a range of sizes before the baby arrives, but if you choose cloth diapers, you can make arrangements with the cleaning agency before the big day. Other items you should have on hand include tear-free shampoo, body soap, the baby bathtub, hairbrush, baby nail clippers and some soothing baby body lotion with lavender to help fussy babies relax.

The Full Nursery

You want your little one to have a beautiful, welcoming nursery, and that includes having the nursery painted, but paint fumes can be harmful to your little one, so the room should be painted a few weeks ahead of time. The fumes can also be harmful to pregnant women, you should also avoid the fumes (and stress) by hiring a professional, like a Boulder painting contractor, to paint the nursery.

Set up the Kitchen

With the nursery painted and decorated, clothing in the dressers and hygiene supplies in the bathroom, it’s time to turn your thoughts to the kitchen. Even if you are breastfeeding your child, you may still require special equipment for pumping and storing the milk, but if you are not breastfeeding, you will have bottles to sterilize, as well as liners and nipples. Organize the baby feeding supplies in your kitchen by finding space in the cabinets and setting out any special washing or drying racks.
Once the baby is born, you won’t have much extra time for setting up the nursery, washing all the clothes and finding space for bottles in the kitchen, so take care of these chores now to ensure that your baby’s room is ready for your little arrival. You will be able to relax during the final days of your pregnancy and the first few days that you are home with your baby.

Author Bio
Melisa Cammack is the mother of three, soon to be four, is an interior design enthusiast, and hopes to soon be a published book author.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Worrying Never Helps

I had plans for a different post today.

I was going to show you some of the fun decorating we've done in our house. Followed by some pictures of the furniture remodeling I have planned for this year.

It was all going to come after I finished my morning plans. Take care of kids, start laundry, clean kitchen, take Prince L to the doctor.

So I did all that. And after leaving the doctors, I spent my time researching, spending more time with my kids, and just worrying. Well, worrying doesn't do anything productive, so I've finely decided to change my post today - since I haven't taken any photos yet, and the day has gotten away from me.

Our doctors visit was a routine well child check. Prince L is 9 months, and we're in a new area, so I thought it best to get him in and check how he's growing. He's also had a cold, and some pretty terrible nights of screaming that have put me in tears myself. I wanted to have his ears checked as well, in case the cold had caused an ear infection.

The good news - he doesn't have an ear infection....yet. It's close to becoming one, so I need to get him better before it goes there.

The worrying news - he's dropped significantly on the charts in his weight. In fact, thinking about it, I think he weighed the same today that he did at his 6month check. He was born in the 90th percentile, and had slowly come down to the 70th. Today however, he was down to the 5th-10th percentile. His height has continued to be consistent however (90th percentile...big kid). 

I love our new doctor. He always has a smile, and completely listens to the 3 Princesses voice their concerns for little brother, and tell him all about their princess dolls, while at the same time actually doing his job of checking up the patient.  He reminds me of our very first family doctor - and yes, I did ask him if I could pack him up in a box and move him with us. I liked him that much.  So I am very happy to find another doctor that makes me feel secure in my children's health.

So the new course of action - Calorie Packing my little guy. I've had 3 kids who have all grown steady, and could follow what the books say on when to feed certain things. Prince L is going to be different. He's going to get everything we eat, but in smaller bites, and sometimes mushed up with my baby food grinder.  I seriously love this thing by the way! All parents should have one.

And the news kept coming...... Our previous doctor found the abnormality, during his 4 month visit - a concave chest (I'm refraining from pictures here, because it can be quite the shocker if you've never seen this). At the time, he wasn't worried, but wanted to keep an eye on it. Well then we moved. Our new doctor has requested we get a chest X-ray done. He said it's pretty normal to do, so he can see just how far in his chest goes, and whether it might be causing some of the weight problems. More than likely it's not, but later on it could also cause some heart problems, so it will be nice to know the extent of his abnormality. I am worried though. I mean, have you ever tried to get a 9 month old to sit still? Not to mention I'll probably have 2 of the other kids with us as well.

But worrying really never helps. I just need to move into action. For the sake of my little boy, I can't let the worry of what may happen, what the final outcome may be, cripple me from making the changes necessary for him.

Did you all read my book review yesterday? The book is called Goodnight, Brian. It's a very touching story of a little boy who isn't thriving, and instead getting poisoned from the "special" formula he's taking. It takes so long to find the problem, that the boy ends up severely disabled with a diagnosis of never being able to walk or talk. After reading that book, and then being given the news that my boy is not gaining weight, was a bit distressing to say the least. If I learned anything from the book though, it's that love can conquer the impossible. I am now officially done worrying, and moving on to lots of loving!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Goodnight, Brian by Steven Manchester {Book Review}

Goodnight, Brian
by Steven Manchester

About the Book: Fate was working against little Brian Mauretti. The food that was meant to nourish him was poisoning him instead, and the doctors said the damage was devastating and absolute. Fate had written off Brian. But fate didn't count on a woman as determined as Brian's Grandmother, Angela DiMartino - who everyone knew as Mama. Loving her grandson with everything she had, Mama endeavored to battle fate. Fate had no idea what it was in for.
About the Author: Author of national best seller Twelve Months (read my review), and several other books, Steven is a husband and father to four.  He began writing under the pen name Steven Herberts. 
My Thoughts: Similar to Twelve Months, Goodnight, Brian reads real to life. It felt as if Steven were writing a story he personally experienced. That is what I love about his writing style. It's still a story, but brought to life as you find different aspects of each characters life you can relate to.  Mama very much reminded me of my aunt. I grew up near her, we went on many little adventures around New England together, and she commanded respect at all times. But she did it all out of love, and you never had any doubt that my Aunt loved you.  She was practically a 2nd mom to me.
Goodnight, Brian will bring your emotions to the surface as a mother or father receiving a devastating diagnosis for your child (even if your child is just fine, any parent can imagine the emotions they must feel), as a brother or sister watching your family struggle, feeling alone because one sibling receives more attention, and learning to grow from those trials. The anger at being given such a trial, and if have faith in God, the number of prayers said for your loved ones.
Steven Manchester has again pulled on my heartstrings, and turned my faith further to my God in struggling times.
Connect With Steven at www.stevenmanchester.com