Tuesday, February 28, 2017

How to easily clean stainless steel...

When we moved in our house, EVERYONE told me not to get stainless steel appliances.  "Sure, they're pretty", they'd say, "but they are NO FUN to clean."  So, what do we do?  Yep, buy stainless steel appliances.  Do they look pretty?  YES!!!  Are they NO FUN to clean?  Well, they were a PAIN to clean until I discovered the secret!!!

Fingerprints are number one enemy with stainless steel.  Sure, I'd clean the appliances super well with cleaner, but the fingerprints were IMMOVABLE!!!!  For months I felt doomed to a lifetime of looking at bazillions of fingerprints!!  

Then one day VOILA!!!  I read somewhere that furniture polish would work!!  I pulled out the Pledge, sprayed some on a microfiber cloth, and in a  quick swipe, the fingerprints were GONE!!!!  AND, the best part, they STAY gone for a week or so!!!  Yes, sadly, fingerprints do find their way back to the pretty stainless steel, but now I know a great way to get rid of them for a while!!!  

So just spray some Pledge (or any store brand lemon furniture polish) on a microfiber cloth and start wiping.  You'll have to spray your cloth a few times for each appliance. I recommend spraying the cloth and not the appliance because IF the Pledge gets on the floor, it'll be SUPER slippery in that area and hard to clean up.  (Ask me how I know.)

Let me know if this helps you!! I know I'm not alone in the war against fingerprints!!  

Monday, February 27, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday... February 27, 2017

The weather..... partly cloudy but rain is expected later today

Right now I am.... trying to wake up.  My coffee is ready and I've just spent some time in the Word. 

Thinking.... of the day of homeschool ahead of us.  

On my reading pile.... finishing up The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace.  Should be finished by tomorrow.  

On my TV..... Mr. U and I have been enjoying the Victoria series lately.

Favorite blog post last week.... was from Lady Lydia.  It was actually last Sunday and it was on visiting others.  

Something fun to share.... I visited Harvest Lane Cottage last week and was greeted by the cheery sound of birds chirping!!!

Blog hopping (newly discovered blog).... Homemakers in Action

On the menu for this week....

Monday- Pizza
Tuesday- I have dinner with a new friend and Mr U promised the girls seafood that night,  I do believe.  (I detest seafood so it's a treat for the girls to go out to eat with just daddy!!!)
Wednesday- our church has a meal each Wednesday
Thursday- Slow Cooker Beef and Cheddar Sandwiches with salad
Friday- Chicken Cheddar Hoagies 
(Just realized I have two sandwich nights on the menu!!  May have to switch things!!!)

On my to do list today... school, make sure the girls practice violin, laundry, clean the bathrooms

In the craft basket.... I started crocheting some dishcloths!  YAY!!

Looking forward to this week.... dinner with a new friend

Looking around the house.... I see the school area (shelves and school table) need some serious decluttering and organization

From the camera....

On my prayer list..... a friend's brother-in-law is seeking treatment for cancer 

Bible verse, Devotional.... "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior  be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." Jude 24-25

I am also linking up at Strangers & Pilgrims with JES today AND Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.  

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Scripture Sunday...2.26.17...

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts."

Isaiah 55:8-9

Saturday, February 25, 2017

10 years ago today...

10 years ago today.  How it seems like forever ago, yet, at the same time, seems just like yesterday.  

I was SCARED TO DEATH to be a mommy.  Sure, I had babysat tons of times for little ones.  I have always loved children.  But 24/7 care of a child?  How was I even old enough for this????  

I remember that morning at breakfast, before our group left for the Civil Affairs Bureau.  I was a wreck.  Couldn't eat a thing (and the breakfast buffet had my favorites- bacon and french toast!!!!).  All I could do was pray.  I asked the Lord for His help, for His wisdom, for His PEACE.  As we walked out to the big bus, I was filled with such glorious peace!!!  Answer to prayer!!  And such JOY!!  I WAS GOING TO BE A MOMMY!!!!  

We unloaded at the Civil Affairs Bureau and headed in.  We waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And finally came the words we all wanted to hear- "The babies are here!!!!" 

We were last.  After all, our last name starts with a "U". But suddenly,  there stood Mrs Yu, the orphanage director. She was holding my sweet girl- the child that I had dreamed of for 36 years (I was 36 when she was born).  The child I had named when I was in elementary school.  The child that had grown in my heart for eons.  My dearest, loveliest Elizabeth.  

So today I celebrate the gift of life. Today I celebrate adoption. Today I celebrate CCAI.  Today I celebrate motherhood.  Today I celebrate my Elizabeth.  

Thank You, Lord.  Your ways are FAR better than mine.  

My dear Elizabeth today.  10 1/2 years old.  And a huge blessing to so so many.  My gift from God.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Cloth Napkins...

So, we've decided to start using cloth napkins around here.  Sure, we want to save money and not buy so many paper towels.  Mostly, though, if I can be completely honest with you, I think cloth napkins are just plain cuter than paper towels!!!  I mean, look at the different fabrics!!!!!

I'm all about blue and white in our home.  It reminds me of a big blue sky that's full of sunshine!!  My mom has always loved blue and white, so I guess part of my draw to this color combination is her.  Thanks Mom!!!

I've collected these cloth napkins from various places.  Even Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table!!  When they have sales, they can have some great deals.  And if there's blue and white cloth napkins, I'm so there!!!  I also have found some at the Country Living Fair that comes to Stone Mountain Park each year.  You can be sure that when I find a good deal on blue and white cloth napkins, I'll be purchasing some.

They don't all match, you say?  Aw that's perfectly fine with me.  As long as they are blue and white, they go together just fine.  I don't even care if we each use a different patterned napkin during the meal- as long as they are my beloved blue and white.

Do you use cloth napkins? If so, please share pics on your blog and let me know!

And let me know where y'all have found deals on cloth napkins.  I know Tammy has a tutorial to make your own, too!!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Victoria... I love a good period drama!!!

Surely I'm not the only one completely in love with Victoria from Masterpiece???!!!!  I LOVE a good period drama!!  And add in that it is about dear Queen Victoria!!!  WONDERFUL!!

I've always loved reading about Queen Victoria and the series just adds to my like of her.  I have to admit, as Mr U and I watched, we "fact checked" quite often.  LOL.  Again, are we the only ones that do that??

So if you're looking for a good movie, check out Victoria!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies....

It's no secret, I LOVE BAKING!!!!!  This past weekend, I decided to make an old favorite of ours- Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies.  (Am I the only one that thinks cookies seem healthier when oats are involved?  Ha!)

This recipe is a slight variation of the Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies from Quaker.

Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt 
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup raisins (optional)

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins (if using); mix well. 

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheets.
Bake 9-11 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered. 

And I have got to share my mixer with y'all. I always wanted a big KitchenAid stand mixer, but at our old house, I had ZERO storage for one.  So Mr U sweetly bought me a KitchenAid hand mixer instead.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE  it!!!  I've been using it over 10 years and I haven't had the first problem with it.

Before this mixer, I had two other hand mixers.  What happened to them?  I broke them BOTH (as in they were smoking!!!!) while making the same recipe- a delicious Butter Pecan Cream Cheese Icing.  No joke.  Same recipe caused the motors to burn out on two different hand mixers.  Sooooo when I finally got my KitchenAid hand mixer, what do you think was the first recipe I tried?  Yep, the Butter Pecan Cream Cheese Icing.  Guess what?  IT DIDN'T BREAK!!!!!!!!  Soooo this wonderful KitchenAid hand mixer has been a dream come true for me!! YAY!!

*Amazon links are to my affiliate links.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Essential Oil spotlight... Breathe by doTERRA...

I've been using doTERRA Essential Oils for almost two years now.  The more I use the oils, the more I see that they really do help, and the more I love them!!  What wife and mother wouldn't want to use something healthier and more natural for their homes and families?  

Today's spotlight is Breathe Respiratory Blend.  It'll be Spring before we know it and the change in seasons is hard on many of us.  Here's are some of the benefits of Breathe

  • Maintains feelings of clear airways and easy breathing
  • Promotes a restful nights sleep
  • Helps minimize the effects of seasonal threats

My favorite way to use Breathe is in our diffusers.  I'll also rub a drop onto the bottom of my children's feet.  I've also rubbed it on our chest or swiped some under our nose (along with some kind of oil like coconut oil, which is what we use). Sooo good for making breathing easier. 

Get ready for Spring, y'all!!!  It's surely on it's way...

FDA Disclosure: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Scripture Sunday...2.19.17...

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

Romans 1:16-17

Friday, February 17, 2017

Cleaning Your Plastic Shower Curtain or Plastic Liner...

I know many of us have a pretty little shower curtian and a plastic shower liner. Some of us may have just a plastic shower curtain. It's very easy to wash a shower curtain made of cloth- you just toss it in the washing machine and then the dryer. But did you know that you can wash your plastic shower curtain and/or plastic liner in the washing machine, too? YES!!!!

I took our plastic shower curtain liner down today, put it in the washing machine, set the water temperature to "hot", poured in about a 1/2 cup of laundry detergent and a cup of bleach. I let it wash as usual and then took it out and hung it back up to dry. Guess what? It looks WONDERFUL!!!!! Our water leaves a bluish tint on things unless they are washed regularly and washing the shower curtains this way took ALL the bluish tint off!!!!

So in case y'all didn't know, you CAN wash plastic shower curtains and/or plastic shower curtain liners in the washing machine. I just wouldn't recommend putting them in the dryer! The plastic could melt! OH NO!!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I am a homemaker...

I am not a homemaker because I had too little ambition or education to make anything else of myself. No—I am a homemaker because God has given me the infinite honour of being a wife, and I delight in employing every ability that He has equipped me with in this glad career. I love being home. I love being intimately familiar with each creaking floorboard and each pattern that the sun makes upon the walls as it travels across the backyard. I love making bread and tending my garden and caring for a small menagerie of cats and chickens and a dog who thinks he’s human. But most of all, I love the happy look that I see on my husband’s tired face when he comes in at the end of the day. And I cherish the fulfillment that the Lord gives me in all of these things. Indeed, “my borders enclose a pleasant land”. (Psalm 16:6)

- Mrs. Ivester

This is precisely how I feel. I am blessed to be a homemaker!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mrs U bakes along with Sally...

Y'all!! I recently discovered an awesome website!!  It's called Sally's Baking Addiction- sounds awesome, right?  On top of all the super yummy recipes she shares, the gorgeous pictures she takes, and all her COOKBOOKS Y'ALL, she hosts a Monthly Baking Challenge.  Yum!!  Count me IN!!!!

This month's challenge is Chocolate Lava Cakes, you know like the fancy schmancy kind you get at nice restaurants.  The picture on her blog?  Gorgeous!!  So, of course, I had to jump on in and give it a shot!!!

And this is what came out of my oven....

Chocolatey deliciousness!!!  They got a little dark around the edges (I cooked them 8 minutes), but they came out of the muffin pan pretty easily since I greased them with Crisco and dusted with cocoa powder first.  It would've been MUCH easier to get them out if I had the ramekins like Sally used.  But she said we could use muffin tins if we didn't have ramekins.

And this is how I served them up.  A dollop of ice cream on top.  Mmmmm. And when you cut into them, the chocolate lava inside oooooozes out.  VERY tasty! And WAY easier than I figured they'd be- only 6 ingredients, too!!!  

They were VERY rich (yet not overly sweet) and I've got a major sweet tooth.  When they first came out of the oven, I thought "Oh, they're small.  I'll have two."  HA! Wrong!!  The rich chocolate flavor of one was just enough for me.  

So, any of y'all want to take Sally's baking challenge???  You won't be sorry!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!!...

The girls and I made a new cut out sugar cookie recipe for Valentine's Day.  We found the recipe at Sally's Baking Addiction (LOOOOVE the name!!!!) and she links her icing for this cookie at AllRecipes.com.    The girls LOVE the icing recipe.  Me?  Not so much. I'll look for another icing next time.  I've been dying to try my hand at flooding cookies!!!

Our girls wanted spaghetti and meatballs for dinner tonight.  I've been making this recipe for EONS and we still love it!!!  Mr U thinks it's the best.

Spaghetti and Meatballs  

1/2 sleeve of saltine crackers, crushed fine
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (green can is fine)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 cup milk
1 pound ground beef 

Combine crushed saltine crackers, garlic powder, parmesan cheese, salt, and dried parsley.  Stir in milk until all ingredients are well combined and let sit about 5 minutes or until crackers are soft. Mix in ground beef and combine it all together (I find using my hands is easiest).  Form into meatballs and place in a prepared (sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) 9x13 baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and then take out and turn meatballs over and cook 10-15 more minutes until meatballs are completely cooked.  

This makes 30 one inch meatballs.  But that's just how we like them. Some of y'all may prefer to make them larger.  No matter what size, they are GOOOOOOOD!!

Oh and FAVORITE sauce is Del Monte's Four Cheese Sauce.  SOOO good but getting hard to find these days!!!!

What are y'all having for Valentine's Day at your house???

Monday, February 13, 2017

Decluttering in the kitchen....

I am always inspired by Jen at How Jen Does It.  In this video, she shares really helpful ideas about decluttering in our kitchen.  Decluttering is ALWAYS needed here in my home!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Scripture Sunday...2.12.17...

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,

Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so,

But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 1

Friday, February 10, 2017

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

I LOVE having quick breakfasts ready for my family.  A nice stash of homemade biscuits, pancakes, muffins, all make quick and tasty breakfast choices for a busy family.

This is just one of the many muffins I like to have frozen in the freezer so we can quickly warm it up in the morning before we start school (and often the girls like them for snacks, too!!!).

Chocolate and peanut butter? YUM!! For breakfast? Even better!!!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg
¾ cup milk
2/3 cup peanut butter
¼ cup oil
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
2/3 cup chocolate chips

Mix all together and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes. Makes 12 regular sized muffins.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

February reading update...

In the beginning of the year, I shared my reading plans for this year.  I NEED accountability when it comes to this, so I am going to be sharing my progress as the year goes along.  I do LOVE to read, but I can get too busy with other things (internet issues, anyone???), that I simply don't make reading a priority.

So far, I'm exactly where I hoped to be with my reading!!!  YAY!  I finished Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life in January.

This month, I'm readingThe Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective and am right on schedule for this month, too!!!!  (And let's just say I have got a LOT to learn from this book!!!! Wonderful wisdom from Martha Peace!!)

In the Bible reading plan I chose, I am only a few chapters behind, but I can easily make that up this afternoon during our afternoon rest time.

So what are YOU reading this year???  Please share your favorite reads so far!!!

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Laundering bath mats...

Be honest here... when was the last time you laundered the mats in your bathroom? I'm not talking about vacuuming them or shaking them out or even hitting them against the side of your house to remove any dirt. I'm asking, when was the last time your washed them in your washing machine?? They need to be clean, too!!!

According to Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook on page 25, bath mats need to be washed... are you ready?... WEEKLY!!!!!

So, do you launder yours weekly??? Just think of all the icky things that are in there. No, actually, DON'T think about it- it's a little too disgusting for me. Just decide this week that you will pick them up, shake them out and put them in the washing machine!! Your family will thank you! Not only will the bath mats be pretty and fluffy (and maybe even another color if it's been that long since you've washed them and they are that dirty!! LOL!!!), but you will wash away many germs and allergens that could bother your family, too!! What a blessing!!!

What else does Miss Martha say we should clean weekly in the bathroom?
-clean toilets, bathtubs, showers, and sinks
-wipe mirrors
-change and launder bath mats, towels, and washcloths
-dust light fixtures
-empty trash bins and wipe the insides and outsides
-vacuum and mop floors

So, ladies, what are you waiting for? Wash those bath mats!!!

Monday, February 06, 2017

Airing out your bed and bedroom...

I LOVE the book by Cheryl Mendelson called "Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House". It is chock full of incredible information and very well organized.

While reading, I got to the chapter about caring for your bedroom. On page 660, Ms. Mendelson advises us to air out our bed and bedroom at least an hour every day.

"Each day when you arise, air the bed. Open the windows, if possible; throw the bedcovers back over the foot of the bed. (If the bedding will otherwise drag on the floor, stand a chair at the foot of the bed to support it.) Let the bed stand this way, unmade, while you shower and eat breakfast. The bed should air for at least an hour if you are going to work, or even longer if you are staying home. This helps immensely toward keeping the bed feeling and smelling fresh until you next change the sheets."

WHY exactly should we bother to do this???
"While you are sleeping, you breathe about two pounds of moisture, along with breath odors and flocks of microorganisms, into the air, your pillow and your bedding. You also perspire, perhaps a cup's worth, and exude skin oils and body smells. And you use up the room's oxygen and replace it with exhaled carbon dioxide. When there are two or more people in the bed or the room, these effects are multiplied. All this explains why, if you sleep with closed windows, the room has a characteristic stale morning smell (although you might not perceive it until you leave for a few minutes and then return.) Unless you leave the bedcovers pulled down and the windows open for an hour or two, the moisture you have left in the bed either does not evaporate or evaporates very slowly, which makes for an environment in pillows and mattress in which dust mites, molds, and other microbial life have more of an opportunity to multiply. Opening the windows lets in new air to dilute the pollutants (microbial and particulate), carry them off, and bring in fresh supplies of oxygen."

Good gracious alive!!! (That's what I said when I first read this!!) Just thinking about all the ickiness that she describes is so, ugh, disgusting!!! Needless to say, after reading this, I started letting our bed air out daily. I do not always open our windows each morning, but I do when it's not incredibly hot, freezing or raining. I want our bedrooms as fresh as possible. And thanks to Cheryl Mendelson, I can achieve that more easily now.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Scripture Sunday...2.5.17...

"And Jesus said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.' Immediately they left their nets and followed Him."
Matthew 4:19-20

Friday, February 03, 2017

Friday Favorites... Jane's Tea from Adagio Tea...

While I do enjoy coffee... a lot... I also really love a hot cup of tea.  My favorite for years has continued to be Jane's Tea which is a special blend from Adagio.  I've loved all the teas I've ordered from them (except anything with chocolate in it. Chocolate tea is just weird to me.)  I still brew my loose tea leaves in their IngenuiTEA and it's still delicious every. single. time.  

And guess what???  Should you decide you want to try out any of the teas from Adagio, you can sign up here with your email and get $5 off certificate!!!  YAY!!!  

Y'all be sure and come back here and let me know what teas you tried and loved!! I'm always open for new favorites!!  

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Encouraging links...

When you have a few moments today, pour yourself a cup of your favorite tea and enjoy a few blog posts that have encouraged me this week.

Mrs. White shares about the Company Ready Home

Mrs. Ferrell shares about the Influence of Godly Mothers & Grandmothers

Lady Lydia shares about Letter Writing.  

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Want a peek inside our home?...

We moved into our current home December 2012.  Before that, we had lived in a parsonage that belonged to the church where Mr. U had been pastor.  He moved in in 1995 and when we married in 1998, I moved in.  Almost 14 years of memories made there for us. It was hard to leave!!!

We bought this home toward the end of the housing crisis.  TONS of foreclosures were on the market.  Every single home we looked at (maybe 30) was a foreclosure and we ended up in bidding wars with homes selling waaaay outside of our price range!

We found this home and ended up making offers two different times.  We were surprised that we finally got it and it was in our budget range, too!! What a blessing!!!!

When we looked at this home, we were awed!!  WAAAY bigger than our previous home and it had a fresh coat of paint and new carpet!!!  Since then, we've learned that the majority of foreclosures go through cheap makeovers to make them look good.  LOL  We've learned a LOT!!!!

This is the before picture of our kitchen.  It seemed okay until you opened the drawers and discovered that either the fronts fell off or the inside was so unstable it would barely hold any kind of silverware. We needed new cabinets for sure!  Mr. U tried several methods the workers at Home  Depot suggested and they'd work for a while, but in the end, the cabinets were ruined.

Thankfully, we had a little money from an inheritance and decided that the best investment we could make with it would be to add value to our home in the kitchen.  YAY!!  In May 2014 we were able to update and I am SO SOOO happy with the results!!!

Island- Ikea
Lighting- Pottery Barn
Cabinets- custom made through Home Depot


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