I love the softness of the old "Victoria" photos - so very pretty. : )
Hello! I am pleased to say that I have quite a bit for you today. It has been a week of getting things done which I am always glad of - especially nowadays. Nothing like keeping busy! So, if you can grab a favorite beverage and sit back and relax for a moment, I hope I can come up with some ideas for you all. : )
The title to my post came to my mind the other day while I was cleaning. I thought back to the night before our son was born (almost 31 years ago now). I was one week overdue and my husband had a meeting that night so I was in our little apartment feeling the need to really clean. To really move things around. To really get the baby's room ready. That nesting instinct kicked in and it felt wonderful. Well, little did I know that at midnight I was on my way to the hospital and the next day our baby was born!
That nesting instinct is strong and it prepared me and got me ready for when we would bring this new little person into our home. And I have to say, that nesting instinct has stayed with me ever since. I always have this desire to keep our home ready - ready for us to relax in, ready for us to work in, ready for other people to come in (not now unfortunately.....but I'll keep it ready). : )
And that's what we do, isn't it? Our homes are our "nests" that we keep working on and making them safe, and warm, and comfortable. With this stay-at-home, my way of trying to keep it cheery is:
*diffusing essential oil both upstairs and downstairs - I love to mix it up - seasonal scents or oils that help in killing germs.
*lighting candles - especially on darker, rainy days or in the evening.
*keeping key lights on - again, on darker or rainy days to give the affect of sunshine and brightness since that helps in our mood.
*playing classical music - I am SO surprised at what a calming effect this has.
*opening windows to hear the beautiful birdsong and letting the fresh air in.
*cooking and baking so that if feels like "Grandma's house" where everyone felt cozy and comfortable and relaxed.
There were a couple of days this past week where I just had to stop and thank God for His provision of feeling content. Because I long for the days gone by when things were simpler and slower, He gave me a couple of "old-fashioned" days where I just felt almost transported back to when I was a child. Where:
*some planting of a few gardens took place.
*cleaning up areas of the yard took place (at a slow pace).
*laundry was hung up on the line.
*supper was slow cooking in the oven.
*a cold beverage was sipped slowly for a little break.
*bringing the crocheting project out on the patio while catching some sun.
It doesn't seem like much, but oh..............it felt like it. If just made me feel so taken care of. I was reminded that God DOES care about these little things so we can feel a bit better when going through times as these. : )
We have also been working on deepening our pantry. Cleaning off more shelves in the basement and organizing what we have and writing down what we need to fill in. During this process, I found a few items that needed to be used up (I always love) - so this weekend I will be making Lasagne for our Sunday meal (using up the noodles that I found), I made homemade salsa (using up the Rotel tomatoes that I found), and will be making 3 separate recipes not sure yet which ones (using up the 3 cans of evaporated milk that I found). Other than that, everything else is still okay for a year or more.
This week has been more about being in the kitchen than anything else making:
*2 hamburger helper mixes (one I'm going to share with you)
*crockpot taco meat
*a pecan pie (using up leftover pecans in the fridge)
*crockpot stuffing (using up leftover bread in the freezer)
*homemade pancake syrup
*oatmeal packets for breakfast for the week
*pickled red onions for a tasty condiment with burgers and hot dogs
*homemade ice cream for our Sunday meal
I really would encourage you to use this "at-home" time to build your pantries up. Now that store shelves are looking much better, using this time to create your own little store at home is such a good idea. What I like to do is go through ALL my recipes and write down important ingredients I need in order to prepare the recipe with. There are SO many things we can make at home if we would just be consistent in keeping the ingredients on our shelves. Here is a list (not all inclusive) of what I tend to make myself instead of buying:
*ketchup (although I do tend to keep a bottle or two on the shelf)
*dill dip seasoning
*pizza dough and pizza seasoning mix
*French fried onions
*brownies and cookies
*taco seasoning mix
*bread, muffins, etc.
And I'm sure there are more. But if you look at your recipes and always keep the ingredients on hand, you can whip something up in no time. I really do love this - another way of keeping things "old-fashioned" and homey. It gets us into the kitchen and giving us the hands-on time that can be very good for us.
I want to share three recipes with you that I make quite often and that we very much enjoy and hope you do as well. The first is a Hamburger Helper mix that I keep in our pantry at all times. It is SO easy to put together and it's so easy to make (for one of those nights that you need something in a hurry and you'll know it will be good).
CHEESY BEEF TACO MIX
First, you begin by making the mix for your pantry:
In a freezer bag (or jar or whatever container you desire), put in 1 cup rice, 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch, 1 Tbsp. of chili powder, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. sugar. That's it! Now just sit it on your pantry shelf until you're ready to use!
When you are ready to use it:
Brown 1 pound of hamburger - drain. Add 21/4 cups hot water and 1/2 cup milk, 1 can of stewed tomatoes, and pour in your rice/seasoning mix. Stir well and let it come to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until rice is cooked and liquid has thickened. Near the end of cooking, add 1 cup of cheddar cheese and stir until melted and blended in. SO easy. : )
I always have rice and seasonings on hand, so you can see all I need to remember is to have canned stewed tomatoes on hand (which I do) and cheese in the freeze (which I do as well). Quick and easy meal. The way we like to serve this is to put the hamburger/rice on our plates and then top it with lettuce, sour cream, and a little taco sauce (which you can also make from scratch) and then eat it with crunchy tortilla chips - the crunchy, salty-ness of the chips with the soft, savory-ness of the mix is very good. Fresh fruit on the side and your meal is complete! : )
I have enough yeast for now so I really haven't noticed if stores are carrying it yet or not, but for those days of a non-yeast bread, this is our go-to for soups and/or salad meals. It's not a sandwich bread but this bread has a sweetness to it that works SO well with savory meals and it freezes well if you find you can't eat it up.
2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. veg. oil
1 1/4 c. milk
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan. Mix all ingredients on medium speed for 30 seconds - pour in loaf pan and bake for 55 - 65 minutes. Let cool before cutting.
Again, how easy is that!!!!! It really is good comfort food. : )
Salad dressing is one of those items that I have on my "make your own" list. Again, so easy to make and no strange ingredients. Here is a favorite:
CREAMY FRENCH DRESSING
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Place all ingredients into a large jar and shake till combined. Store in fridge - will keep for a couple of weeks!
I hope you can try and enjoy these recipes and then let me know what YOU think. : )
Lastly, since it IS May (can you believe it?) I have our May to-do's for us to think about and hopefully get to. Some will not pertain to all of us, but I hope you can do what you can do and keep "maintaining your nests":
*change the furnace/air conditioning filter
*keep decluttering! Even though the thrift stores are closed right now, it's a good time to get ready for when they do. Never stop going through stuff to get rid of. What we have in our homes should be what we need and what we use. If there is anything sitting around that we haven't even looked at in years, it just might need to go. This goes for our shelves, our cabinets, our drawers, our closets, our sheds, our garages, our basements...................
*flip your mattress (if you can) and wash all the bedding
*begin planting something - early season things - last week I got the garlic in, the green onions, the lettuce, and the spinach. All other things should wait a while yet. My mom had such prolific, beautiful gardens and I don't ever remember her planting until Memorial Day weekend and she never started plantings either, yet everything worked out. : ) I encourage you in this - don't let limited space deter you from planting. Plants in pots and window boxes work out very well. It's one more thing that can keep us occupied right now.
*check your tires, fluid levels, and belts on the car(s)
*stock up on sunscreen for the upcoming summer months
*check your gutters for the upcoming Spring/Summer rains and clean them out regularly
*ventilate your basement - open the windows down there too!
*do what you can to keep bugs at bay - make your own bug repellent or buy something - nothing ruins a day outdoors than bugs!
*wash/clean/vacuum your rugs regularly - with all the walking in and out of the house all day long I find I need to do this all the time!!
*pretty up your patio/yard/balcony with a few outdoor solar lights - or if you can hang lights up that would be great. We did that in our backyard and it just gives a little cheer. We went walking around sunset last night and noticed that quite a few people have done that in their yards and it gave a very calming yet festive touch.
*organize and clean out the garage/shed
*fertilize your lawn (if you care about that kind of thing - my husband does - LOL)
*plan your Mother's Day - unfortunately this year, Mother's Day is going to be very different for a lot of mom's. Personally, I would rather receive real hugs and have my family here but it can't be - so maybe planning ahead for this day would be wise so it doesn't get us down. What can we do to take care of the time that will be given? Can you write things down that will help and then carry them through?
*wash/repaint walls in your house
Wow. That's quite the list!!!!!! But, to me, that's okay. We have this whole month at home anyway so we might as well use the time to take care of what God has given us. : )
And, then, if you would like to give yourself a little tea time this month, here is what I have written down as a May theme:
*Decorate with your pretty teacups and balloons
*Serve your favorite tea with ladyfingers, chocolate cake, and lemon tea cookies (all of which can be made at home)
*Play Mozart, Bach, and Strauss in the background
That is it for this day! It's a lot, so just pick and choose what jumps out at you. Like I say, and truly believe it, doing something is better than doing nothing. Work is good for us. Keeping our hands and minds busy right now is a VERY good thing! : ) God bless you all and thank you SO much for stopping by - I hope I didn't ramble too much. LOL Bye!