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September 29, 2010

Cleaning & organizing my home

I've been married for a little over 12 years now so I've done my fair share of cleaning houses over the years. I go through seasons of feeling like I'm on top of my game and then other times, I'm under a pile of laundry somewhere, buried alive!
I'm not a messy person but I'm also not an OCD cleaner. I fall somewhere in the middle, I like a clean house but sometimes life gets a little crazy and it's hard to keep up. I'm trying to find the balance between not taking care of my house every second of the day so I can spend time with my kids but also not living in complete chaos and mess. Part of this is just realizing that with 4 kids, my house isn't going to look ready for the front cover of Better Homes and Gardens or Country Living at any given time during the day. My house is meant for memories to be made in,a place to be loved in and a place they can call home. Although I don't want their memories to be of the time we were featured on the show "Hoarders."
A great website that has helped me get a handle on my house is . She has more of an organized system of cleaning, you are in a specific area of the house during the week and also you are working on organizing and decluttering. I LOVE decluttering, in fact, I think I get a little high off of throwing away toys from McDonalds, papers, worn out clothes, junk, you name it, I like to get rid of it. Sometimes I think I go a little overboard though and I get rid of something and then maybe a month later I think, darn, I wish I still had that.
So if you are looking for a clean, more organized, less cluttered and chaotic home, than look no further than the Flylady!

September 27, 2010

A time of refreshing

I love my life and I am so thankful that Mr.A has a great job that allows me to stay home. I am pretty content to do my housework, run errands and cook dinner for everyone. Somedays though the laundry, cleaning and just the routine of it all makes you feel a little blah, maybe a bit unimportant. Really I don't have to dress up to go to work, I can stay in my pajamas if I want. No one gives me a at on the back for folding the sheets just right, I don't get a yearly review from my boss telling me what a great job I'm doing. I don't get a raise. I'm not complaining, really I'm not, just stating that sometimes staying at home leaves you wondering who you really are or if what you are doing is really that important. You see yourself as the "mom" and not really all the other things you are, like a girl who has friends, wears cute clothes and has a life outside of laundry and dishes. This past weekend I was blessed with a chance to get away to Minneapolis and spend time with some great friends. Not only did I get away for 2 whole days, I was able to go shopping for me, not the kids, not Mr.A, not the house, ME! I didn't buy anyone anything, I had some shirts in my cart at TJMaxx for the girls but I put them back and spent that $30 on a fabulous coat for myself.
Thursday night before I left, I really wasn't that excited to leave. Not sure what I was thinking, must've been one of those nights where you are really tired and not thinking clearly. I really didn't want to leave my family. I left on Friday and I'm so glad I did. I hopped in that van and away we went, 3 hours in a vehicle of talking, laughing and just being girls!
We arrived at the hotel and met our last compadre for the weekend. We enjoyed a great word and teaching from Priscilla Shirer .   It was just what I needed, thank you Sparkle Conference!  The rest of the weekend was just evenings of eating out without having to cut up children's food, eating warm food, eating at restaurants that were not kid friendly, enjoying conversation and not having to take someone to the potty every five minutes   Shopping for myself, only me, just me, did I  mention me yet?    Going into stores that I liked and that didn't carry children's clothes, trying on 40 shirts and not having to leave because kids are crying and tired..  Having laughs with friends, staying up late and talking, feeling like you were 17 again and didn't have to wake up early to get everyone ready for the day, make other people breakfast, pack backpacks and  find missing shoes. 
I can honestly say I didn't miss my family a whole lot and that's ok.  I was able to get away, relax, enjoy my time and come home REFRESHED!  I was glad to be home, glad to see my children and husband, glad to be back HOME.   I was living in  the moment this weekend and I haven't done that for a long time.  I was able to spend some time doing the things I liked and I wanted to do.  I think everyone could use that from time to time.  I know Mr.A was glad to have me home but he was also glad to send me off this weekend to just be me, Ange.  I don't want you to think I don't love being a mom and a wife, I do but I also don't want to lose myself and be only a mom and a wife.  I haven't been away like this for 2 years and the last time I went, I was 11 weeks pregnant.  Not a great time, even my friends would agree with me!   So ladies, make sure you take time to refresh your spirit and yourself.  Not everyone can go away for a weekend but even a night out, or day out, just some you time, it makes us all better moms, wives, friends and women. 

1. To revive with or as if with rest, food, or drink; give new vigor or spirit to.
2. To give new freshness or brightness to; restore.
3. To make cool, clean, or moist; freshen up.
4. To renew by stimulation
5. To fill up again; replenish

September 23, 2010

Living Room Redecorating Part 2

After moving stuff around in my living room the other day, I left it with the big couch against the wall facing towards the fireplace. I really loved the white dresser in the living room but the arrangement of the furniture wasn't doing anything for me.
Last night Mr.A and I moved some stuff around and now, I really like it. Here it is.....

Oops, I forgot to move the basket of dog toys and the cable, oh well, just keeping it real.    I am hoping to get a different couch and replace the love seat with two chairs.   Mr.A found a couch for me so now I need to find a slipcover. 

September 22, 2010

Meal Plan Sept. 24th - Oct. 7th

I am posting this a day early but here is my meal plan for the next two weeks.

1.   Spaghetti and Meatballs (didn't use it last meal plan, had an extra night of leftovers!)
2.   Hamburgers on the grill with  french fries and green beans
3.   Small Group Night - I'm bringing Mexi-Chicken Casserole
4.   New Recipe I'm trying  from A Year of Slow Cooking:  Crockpot Brown Sugar Chicken
5.   Italian Bow Tie Pasta with garlic bread and corn
6.   leftovers night
7.    Loaded Baked Potato Soup from Mommy's Kitchen
8.    Ham Balls with baked potatoes and broccoli
9.    Night out
10.  Chili with corn bread
11.  Chicken Planks (fingers) and for me Chicken Wings in Franks Buffalo Wing Sauce and  french fries
12.  Beef Roast in the crockpot, baked potatoes and peas
13.  Leftovers

Ham Balls

I first tried ham balls when I did a dinner exchange with some friends. I was not very excited to receive ham balls as a meal, I thought they sounded disgusting. Well let me tell you, they are wonderful! They remind me of bacon a little bit. So, don't let the name gross you out! You will need to grind the ham yourself at home in a meat grinder or if you have a great meat department in your grocery store like I do, they might grind it for you for free! It's much easier if they do it so I would ask them first.
**This recipe makes quite a bit, so you can easily get 3 to 4 meals out of one batch.**

Ham Balls:
2 1/2 lbs ground ham
1 lb ground pork
2 lbs ground beef
3 eggs
2 c. milk
3 c. graham cracker crumbs

2 Cans tomato soup (make one can "zesty tomato" if you can.)
2 tsp. dry mustard
3/4 c. Vinegar (recommend apple cider)
2 1/2 c. brown sugar

Mix the first six ingredients for Ham Balls together. Shape into about 1 inch balls and place in greased 9x13 pan. Mix together the sauce mixture and pour over the Ham Balls. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for one hour.
**I usually place about 18 hamballs in a 9x13 pan at a time. You can either freeze them uncooked with the sauce covering them or you could also cook them half way through and freeze them.**

Mexi-chicken Casserole

I like this recipe, it's easy to throw together and is not healthy but it does have veggies in it! :)

6-8 chicken breasts cooked and diced up
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 10 oz can of tomatoes and green chilies (drained)
6 oz plain Doritos (I never measure this out but just crush some up until it looks good to me.)
1/2 c chopped green pepper
3/4 c chopped onion
1/2 c milk
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 lb grated sharp cheddar cheese

Crush up the Doritos and place in the bottom of a 9x13 dish. Mix the soups, milk, chili powder, green pepper, onion and chicken all together and pour over the Doritos. Place cheese over the chicken mixture and then top with the tomatoes and green chilies. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

My Living Room - redecorating help!

When we lived in our last house we had both a formal living room and also a family room. We had beautiful couches for the formal living room and nothing for the family room. Mr.A & I decided on some nice brownish red leather couches that reclined for the family room. When we sold the house we knew that the colonial only had one living room and we weren't sure what to do with our couches. We ended up giving our formal couches to some friends of ours and we kept the leather ones. If only I could change my mind!!! The leather couches are just not working with the style I want. They are dark and bulky, they do clean up nicely with children but that's about their only saving grace. Of course Mr.A thinks they are comfy and loves that they can kick out and recline, he just doesn't see that style wise they don't work in this house. In addition to the couches not working, my living room is long, narrow and has two focal point areas. One is the fireplace and the other is the built in bookshelf that at some point had to have been messed with, some pieces are missing. If pieces aren't missing then whoever built the bookshelves never finished. I've tried to find some before pictures but there aren't many.

The living room when we first moved in.

On the left after the lamp is where you enter into the living room.

This is the color the room is now.

The way the room looked before I moved stuff around yesterday.

I always forget to take before pictures!  Yesterday I decided to redo the living room by rearranging the furniture.  Because the room is long and narrow I can never find a good place for the big couch.  It is always against the wall across from the fireplace.  I brought in the dresser that was in the dining room, took the sheer curtains from my bedroom, dragged a chair up from the basement that's waiting to be redone and switched around my pictures on the mantel and the wall.   These are the after pics.

So my living room needs help.  I hate the bookshelf looking half done.  I put the piano under it because I don't know what else to put there but I really want to move the piano to the dining room.  I would love a new couch and some chairs not a love seat.  I am on the hunt for a coffee table and am not even sure I like the wall colors.  So, anyone have any suggestions?  I am going to post a few more pictures of when I had the couches facing each other before I moved the white dresser in the room.  Maybe I could move the dresser where the piano is, Mr.A is not going to want to move the piano but we can do it.  I  think I'm going to go with the set up below but would love hear your suggestions and comments.  Thank you!!

September 21, 2010

It's Me, It's Me!!!!!

Mr.A & I did a little side project a few weekends ago called, Cleaning out the garage! Whew, what a mess it was from kids bringing stuff in and out all summer and Mr.A working on the siding project, let's just say, our garage looked like something you would find on Hoarders! While cleaning out the garage I saw a set of our license plates and almost threw them out but then I was wondering if someone found them if they could try and use them on their vehicle. So I just left them sitting on the shelf.
Last week Melissa a blogger at 320* Sycamore was looking for license plates for a wall in her home. She had a list of all the states she needed plates from and when I saw Wisconsin, I knew just what to do with the plates I had spotted in the garage last week! After a quick e-mail exchange, I sent the plates off in the mail to their new home and in exchange for the plates, I got a shout out on her blog! :) You can check that out here. While you are there, browse around, I loved her entryway redo. Thank you Melissa!

September 20, 2010

Slow Cooker Mondays

Here at our crazy house Mondays are a bit more hectic than any other day of the week. All 3 girls have dance or gymnastics at the same time on Monday nights. I actually like it this way, it's one night of craziness and then we're done for the rest of the week. We need to eat dinner a bit earlier than normal to get out the door on time so I've decided that Mondays are my slow cooker/crock pot days.  Mondays are always a hard day and I feel like you are catching up from the weekend and doing  a lot of cleaning.
Today I'm featuring a new recipe I tried last week, it wasn't on the meal plan but our dinner plans fell through so I needed another meal anyways. I was craving something with pineapple and came across this recipe http://www.food.com/recipe/hawaiian-ribs-86057.   I put them in the slow cooker frozen at about 8am and the ribs were falling off the bone by 4pm.  It was pretty yummy, I served it over white rice. Next time I might try this recipe instead: Hawaiian ribs slow cooker recipe.

If you are dusting off your slow cooker, or don't use it very often because you don't know what to make in it, check out this awesome blog:  http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/ She used her slow cooker for an entire year, even making breakfast and desserts in it! There are tons of great recipes on her blog and her recipes are gluten free.   Next Monday I'll feature another slow cooker recipe and we'll have a link party so you can post your favorite recipe here too!

September 18, 2010

My lack of fall/winter clothing

I was looking through my closet yesterday and discovered that I only own about four long sleeve shirts, 2 sweatshirts, one sweater and I have no fall jacket. Wow, that's kind of bad. I am not a hoarder, so if I don't like the way a piece of clothing fits me, if it's stained, shrunk, has a hole or is out of style, I pitch it or donate it. I have also been pregnant on and off for the past 10 years, so I have changed sizes and never fully replenished my wardrobe when I would get rid of items in my closet. Needless to say, I'm in need of some clothes! Why is it, I can buy my children clothes that don't even really need yet I can't buy myself a shirt? I hate spending money on clothes for myself, partly because I stay home, I don't have a "job" that requires me to look professional. I get snot and goldfish on my shirts pretty much daily. I occasionally get to go out with Mr.A or some friends for a fun night out on the town but for the most part, I am at home, cleaning, painting, running errands and being a mom. Not that I need to dress like Cinderella but I just find it hard to justify buying myself clothes when I don't feel I really have anywhere to wear them. Does anyone else feel this way?
So I will be in a big city very soon, with some girlfriends of mine, without children! So that means shopping time for me, I must remember that part, for ME not my kids. WOO HOO!!! I want to look chic, fun, cute, not like a teenager, I'm in my 30's now so I shouldn't be dressing like a teenager anymore. Plus my birthing hips are having a hard time fitting into juniors jeans. sigh.
Do you have some items in your closet that you just can't live without? Maybe it's not even a shirt but an accessory, shoes, jacket, etc. that is a must have? Or maybe you have a favorite store to shop at? Some wardrobe building advice for me? I'd love to hear from you, even if it's just to lament along with me about your lack of a wardrobe!

September 16, 2010

Fall Favorite revisited

Fingerprints on the Fridge is hosting a Recipe Roundup Today and I linked up my White Chicken Chili recipe. Sounds like a perfect soup for a cool fall day! I wonder if this is on my meal plan, I think I'm going to go see right now! Plus you need to check out some of the recipes that have been linked up, YUM!

Fall Decorating

The air has been quite a bit cooler here for the past two weeks and I've really been hoping that it was just a fluke and some nice 78 degree days were still coming our way.  I've finally resigned myself to the fact that it's time to decorate for fall.  Don't get me wrong, it's not that I dislike fall, in fact  I  like LOVE fall, it is my favorite season!!!  I went down into my dungeon and pulled out a small bag of fall decorations.  Ok, well the only thing in it was a few pine cones and a small string of leave garland.  Boo.  I swear I had more, maybe I threw them out during one of my purging stages.  Anyways, I made my way over to the dollar store because fall decorations were not in the budget this paycheck.  This is what I found, obviously they were each $1.

The pot color is ugly but besides that, not bad for $1 each.  I was hoping I had enough chalkboard spray paint left and maybe I could spray the pots with chalkboard paint.  No go on the paint.  Next option, use my terra cot planters that I have and never know what to do with.  Just like that, I had some cute, simple and cheap fall decorations.

Now where to put them?  Here is what I came with for my mantle, not the best but it works for now!  Although I am open to ideas and suggestions!!!  I also included a picture of my garage sale find, my 50 cent white bird, I really liked it and that was the only thing I found at that sale but it was worth it. 

September 11, 2010


For those of you who don't know what pasties are, check out this link to find out more. Growing up in Upper Michigan my husband and I both ate pasties in our homes. I have my mom's pasty crust recipe below but usually for the sake of time and my sanity, I just use refrigerated pie crusts.

Pasty Recipe
This makes 4 large pasties and serves maybe 6-8 people
2 boxes of refrigerated pie crust (each box contains 2 pie crusts)
8-10 medium russet potatoes peeled and cubed
1 lb ground beef (preferably not lean)
1 medium yellow onion diced
*1-2  large carrots peeled with a peeler

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Roll out the refrigerated pie crusts on a cookie sheet.

 Peel and cube 8 to 10 medium size russet potatoes and then dice one medium yellow onion.

 Crumble one pound raw ground beef into bowl with potatoes and onions, then generously salt and pepper the mixture.  I usually let this sit in a bowl and meld together in the refrigerator for a few hours.

If you are using a refrigerated crust, just unroll the crust onto a cookie sheet.
Place the pasty mixture onto half of the unrolled crust.

Fold over the pie crust and pinch up the edges to seal the pasty shut.  I cut a few slits in the top with a knife as well.  Repeat the above steps until you are out of pasty filling or pie crusts. 

Place pasties in the oven to bake for one hour, they are done when the potatoes are tender and the ground beef is no longer pink. 

 * I don't like carrot in my pasty but many people do.  You can also add rutabaga as well.

Homemade Crust Mixture:
1 1/3 c flour
1/2 tsbp salt
1/2 c lard (crumbly)
1/3 c cold water
Mix flour, salt and lard together, add a little bit of water at a time as you might not use all of it. Mix until well blended.  Roll out the crust in oval shapes.  You can make your pasties as big or small as you like.

Join me over at Mommy's Kitchen for a Sunday Potluck of recipes and Beauty and Bedlam  for Tasty Tuesday Parade of Food! 

September 10, 2010

New Project - Chalkboard for the playroom

I am so excited to share with you my very inexpensive project that I've been working on today.  We are working on making the playroom for the kids and one of the things I've been wanting to add is a chalkboard.  I mentioned this to a friend the other day and she said, "Wait here, I'll be right back."  She came back and had a can of black chalkboard spray paint in her can, brand new, never used.  She said, take it, I'll never use it.
When I first thought of what I would use for the board, I was envisioning some sort of plywood or hardboard with trim around it.  While at a garage sale yesterday I came across this picture for $4 and decided it would make a great chalkboard!  Mr. A wanted me to make sure the picture wasn't a priceless painting but by looking at it, I'm sure it's not. 

So I hauled this beauty off to the garage, sprayed some primer on it and also managed to get the first coat of chalkboard paint on while baby J was napping.  I am thinking of painting the frame a reddish color that is leftover in the basement from our front porch but we'll see what I do.  I can't wait to put this on the wall!

Sue, just for you I had Mr.A take a picture of the back of the chalkboard and here it is:

The chalkboard is done and my children have used it a lot in the past few days!  I tried to clean off all the chalk writing but we don't have an eraser so papertowel was my substitute.   This was a cheap and super easy project!  My kids love it and I loved making it for them.  I couldn't get the can of red paint open so for now it's green but that could change!
Garage Sale Picture:  $4
Spray Paint Primer:  $3
Total cost of project:  $7.00     The chalkboard spray paint was free but even if I had to purchase a can, I think it was also $3 at Wal-mart.  I also could've knocked a $1 off the picture but I was so excited I just bought it for the asking price.

September 9, 2010

Meal plan Sept. 10th-Sept. 23rd

Fall is in the air, it's been much cooler here, only mid 60's most days.  I love fall, the leaves changing colors, the warm soups in the crockpot and jeans with sweaters.  I picked up 35 pounds of ground beef on sale for .99 cents a few weeks ago and browned most of it in the oven and put it in freezer bags.  So most of my recipes for this meal plan will be using up some of my ground beef and working with a smaller grocery budget.

1.  Eating out with friends
2.  Grandma's Goulash 
3.  Small group night I bring dessert Eclair Dessert
4.  Easy Beef Enchiladas
5.  Chicken Rice Soup
6.  Brinner - pancakes, hashbrowns and scrambled eggs
7.  Tacos with spanish rice and refried beans
8.  Leftovers
9.  Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff
10. Grilled Cheese night
11. Brats and Hot Dogs Corn on the Cob French Fries
12. Spaghetti and Meatballs
13.  Tator Tot Casserole

Tator Tot Casserole

Tator Tot Casserole
Grandma Lorraine

1 lb ground beef
2 cans green beans drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 bag of frozen tator tots

Brown ground beef and drain grease.  Add the ground beef to a 9x13 baking dish, stir in the two cans of beans and the can of cream of mushroom soup and mix all together with the ground beef.  Spread the mixture into a 9x13 pan.

Top with frozen tator tots, bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until tator tots are cooked.

This dish isn't the most beautiful thing to look at but it tastes good, is easy to put together, is economical and my kids really like. This is one of those go to meals when you don't have a lot of time to make something.

I'm linking up here: