Spring is here finally

I love Spring, it’s such a beautiful time here in the Midwest. Flowers, green grass, the smell of fresh rain. I just love everything about it.

Because we had such a horrible winter I was very concerned about one of my Lilac bushes.

P1010051  This is how it looked when the last blizzard hit in January. I really didn’t think it would survive.

IMG_20140412_192549_556 Amazingly, this it it today. They must be pretty resilient. There’s even a little bird nest in it. I can’t wait to see the pretty flowers, I just love the smell of Lilacs and the deep purple color is just beautiful.

IMG_20140406_171421_803 IMG_20140406_171413_781 It seems like everything in our yard is coming to life at the same time. I love spring flowers. I love everything about them. The color. The fragrance. The bright green leaves. Ah, wonderful, beautiful and full of new life. It always amazes me that such pretty flowers can come from such ugly bulbs. (Goes to show, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Right?)

IMG_20140412_190519_248 We’ve even “adopted” two new yard animals this spring. Fun, fun.

IMG_20140412_190928_624 Even the robin’s are making a new home. Just love it!!!

Enjoy the outdoors this Spring!!~Bam

 

More Organizing

I can get a little obsessed with organization and over this last weekend I felt like I really needed to take control of my scarf collection.

I looked quit a bit on Pinterest for some ideas but mostly I came up with these strange looking hangers with round shower rings taped to them. I really didn’t like that idea because I’m trying to get rid of the bulk my scarfs make in the closet. I had about five each wrapped around a hanger. It was just too much. I was super excited, because it only cost me a little over $10.00, and it took very little time.

IMG_20140405_122348_021

My husband and I went to the local Menards and I came up with this instead.

IMG_20140405_123854_159 This is a bathroom towel organizer but I added some plain round shower curtain rings and neatly tucked my scarfs away. (next chance I get I’m going to have to organize them by color but I was in a hurry to get dinner started)

IMG_20140405_124016_605 At the side of the last bar there are two hooks, so. I was excited to be able to hang up a couple of my favorite hats.

Yippee, for organization!!! I know, the small things make me happy~Bam

 

Purging my house of junk.

It’s almost Spring, Yippee!! Every Spring I feel the need to do some real cleaning. I’ve been going through my closet cleaning out the clothes I don’t wear any longer. It really makes me feel good to give slightly worn clothes to someone else who can use them more than I do. So, we donate to the local Goodwill. It’s really hassle free, you drive up, they come out and empty your trunk. They’ll even give you a receipt if you want to deduct the donation on your taxes. They even take automobiles.

Verizon wireless takes old cell phones and uses them for their program called HopeLine®. It’s a program where you turn in your old cell phone and they give them to women, men and children who have been victims of domestic violence. What an excellent way to help someone? Really, how much effort is it to just drive by your local Verizon store and turn in an old phone?

We’ve also been going through our old movies, CD’s, and video games. These we trade in to Amazon. They have a great trade-in program. I figure even if I only get .25 cents for something, that’s better than nothing AND it’s not in my house any longer, taking up wasted space, collecting dust. We’ve been using their trade-in program for a few years now and we just love it. Once you list the items you want to trade-in they email you a detailed confirmation with a shipping label. You take it to either the local UPS or USPS office to ship it. They go through the items and then credit an Amazon gift card, you can use it however you’d like through Amazon.com. It’s pretty simple and pretty rewarding. They also accept books and college texts. The only word of caution I would say is they are very specific, if the item isn’t the exact same IPN number they will send it back to you.

There are other venues for book lovers that allow you to trade books. Like, www.paperbackswap.com and bookmooch.com. I haven’t personally used the book trade sites, but, I do have friends that have used them and really only have good things to say about it.

I just think in a world of wastefulness it just makes me fill better to know that my “trash” isn’t going to a dump, taking up our oxygen and beautiful green earth.

Enjoy keeping America a little cleaner and your home too!~Bam.

A Black Cat crossed my path…EEK

While I was driving on my way home the other day a black cat crossed my path and immediately I thought “Eek!!! Doesn’t it mean something when a black cat crosses my path?”

Then I had to laugh at myself because I really don’t believe in superstitions, although, being somewhat brought up by a southern Grandma I definitely heard about them growing up. To this day though I can’t really think of any that are supposed to be detrimental to my health that actually were detrimental. I’m sure I’ve walked under an open ladder or two, broken mirrors, had robins hit my windows trying to fly into my home, had black cats cross my path, and so far, I’ve survived plenty of Friday the thirteenths.

Which leads me to wonder…were did superstitions start? Why are people drawn to believe them and go as far as to avoid them like the plague? Just what are the odds that when your ear burns or itches that someone’s talking about you? I’d say pretty good, at least there’s a fifty percent chance right?

I am in no way saying that if you believe in superstitions you are a bad person, but, MY opinion really doesn’t count in the grand scheme of things.

Here’s what the bible says (ESV):

1 Timothy 4:7    Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;

Deuteronomy 18:10-12   10There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering,[a] anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord.

 

I personally think it’s best to believe that all things are guided by God and everything that happens in my life is under God’s control. That’s not to say that we do to some point make our own destiny. After all God did give us a free will.

Proverbs 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

 

Anyway, this is how my brain works. Sorry if I’ve offended anyone by this, it’s just one of those random thoughts I thought I’d pass along.

What’s your will?~Bam

 

 

March is coming “In like a Lion”

March has started and it doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the old saying “In Like a Lion and Out Like a Lamb”. Today is March 2nd and yet again we are having a terrible snow storm. Of course the media loves this kind of frenzied weather. They’ve been telling us for a week now “to be prepared – the stores are selling out of ice melt, make sure you stock up on milk, water, bread, and canned goods”. (I just wonder if they get a bonus after they’ve attracted so many viewers?)

Hopefully, the end of March will be just as cooperating in regards to “going out like a lamb”!!

I for one am ready for Spring – to start my seedlings, trim my Lilac bushes, plant some tulip bulbs, fresh grass seed and work on cleaning up my backyard; which is now covered in walnut shells and corn from feeding the birds, and the other little creatures.

Hydrangeas In the meantime I have pictures of last season’s flowers to keep me from loosing my mind. (Not really, but some days that’s how I feel. Especially after I’d had to drive to and from work in this mess.)

Waiting for the thaw~Bam

Cable T.V. be gone!!

Finally, we’ve come to our senses – at least that’s the way we feel. We’ve finally gotten rid of cable T.V. I can barely remember a time when I haven’t had cable, but, I really don’t feel bad not having it any longer. We, my husband and I, decided that we are tired of paying for channels that we don’t watch, the feeling of being violated every time some disgusting commercial comes on, and news broadcast that are nothing but doom and gloom. We knew we had to do something.

Of course the cable company tried to offer a better price if we “just stayed with them”. “NO” I say…Now we have a Roku box and we can choose what channels we want to watch. And better yet we can choose when we watch them. We aren’t restricted by time tables. We, as a consumer, get to make the choice in what we watch and pay for.

  We got this Roku 3 box for Christmas, it has opened a world of wonders for us as T.V. viewers. It connects to our WiFi and streams shows directly from the internet. AMAZING!!! Even if you didn’t want to invest in this little gem of an invention you could get an HDMI cord and just plug your computer into the T.V. and watch shows from it.

We did keep cable long enough to watch the Super Bowl, then we found out the Olympics would be on shortly after. My husband had to watch Curling, he’s mildly obsessed with this sport (really I can’t figure out the rules of that game – ha ha). Last Tuesday we packed up our equipment and sent them back to the cable company. Not only were we paying a monthly cable charge but also a monthly fee for the DVR boxes and remotes. When I got home from work my husband says “they knew exactly what to do with everything”. Apparently we aren’t the only ones ditching the big cable companies, the man in line behind him was doing the same thing. The UPS clerk said they’re taking returns all day long. One would have to think the cable companies would get a clue and offer better options, like paying for what we want instead of offering shows for the masses. Oh well, their loss, not mine. We enjoy being treated like the individuals that we are and to be able to save money while doing it is a great thing. I think it’s just that simple.

I will say that it did take some adjusting to my morning routine by starting it with the local news. I really only like to know the weather for the day. The rest of the news just gets on my nerves – it seems like there’s only doom and gloom in the news now. One nice thing we discovered with the Roku box is that we actually get one local channel for news only. By the time I get up in the morning they’ve already streamed the day’s forecast and a few short clips of that morning’s new. It’s the same for the evening news. We’ve also considered buying an inexpensive antenna for the local channels next fall when football starts up again. (but we hear there may be a new streaming device that will have NFL availability because it streams live, local channels – we’ll wait and see, Aereo is expanding!!)

We thought about this for a long time before we decided to do anything about it. We decided even though we opted for a few paid channels like Netflix, Hulu plus and Amazon Prime we’re still saving a ton of money, over a thousand dollars a year.

There are other options if one didn’t want to invest in the Roku box, like I mentioned earlier there’s always the laptop and a simple HDMI cord. (We bought two cords from Amazon for less than the price of one cord from Wal-mart) Like cable T.V. there has to be a device for every T.V. We needed a DVD player for our bedroom T.V. and ended up buying a player that offers some internet programs. However, with that being said I really like the Roku much better, it offers a lot more programs and the weather channel is much better.

So, if you’re thinking of cancelling out your cable do your research and hopefully this will help you as well.

Enjoy the freedom of program choices!!~Bam

Valentine Cookies

I love baking, especially on a cold snowy winter’s day. Yet again we woke up to more snow. Apparently, here in Indy, we’ve had the fourth snowiest winter on record with a little over 44″ of snow since this season began. Let me tell you, this white fluffy stuff is wearing me out. Baking makes me happy.

I have a favorite cookbook that I go to for most of my baking recipes. I’ve had it for over 20 years and it’s served me well.

The Betty Crocker Cookbook. This is the newest version (mine it the eighth edition). I’m sure this one is even more interesting and has even more wonderful recipes.

I made some Valentine cookies today using the “Sugar cookie” recipe:

P1010078

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup margarine or butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tarter

granulated sugar

P1010079  This Kitchenaide mixer is my favorite piece of kitchen equipment. I’ve had it for about 7 years now and it’s never given me a bit of trouble. I use it for baking, whipping cream, mixing dough for pizza, homemade pasta, and cookie dough.

Mix the powdered sugar, margarine, vanilla, almond extract and egg. Stir in remaining ingredients except the granulated sugar.

P1010080 Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Divide the dough into two halves. Roll each half about 3/16″ thick on lightly floured surface. Cut out the shapes desired, sprinkle with the granulated sugar (or bake plain and then you can add icing to them when they’re nice and warm). Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (it makes clean up a lot easier).

P1010083 Bake until the edges are light brown, about 7-8 minutes.

This made about 24 cookies. My heart cookie cutter was about 3″ long.

The icing was made from 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 5-6 tablespoons water, and 1 good teaspoon of almond extract, and a few red food coloring drops, mixed thoroughly. Make sure to go easy on the food coloring if you want pink cookies.

IMG_20140209_153714_933(1) Delicious!!!

Happy Valentine’s!!~Bam

 

Strawberry Jam

My husband takes two peanut butter and jam sandwiches to work everyday. He’s done this for a very long time. I don’t know how he doesn’t get bored with this or worse yet, get sick and tired of eating the same thing over and over again. I know I would!!

I decided today to make some freezer jam to save some money. It was so easy to do, with only a few ingredients and just about 30 minutes of my time. And it is delicious!!! I’d say a perfect Saturday afternoon in the kitchen.

P1010071 This is all it took. Four basic ingredients plus a little bit of water.

Here’s how I did it.

P1010070 I washed two pints of fresh strawberries. (of course I had to taste one or two to make sure they were not too tart. I just love strawberries – I don’t know what I’d do if I had an allergy to them.

P1010072 I pureed them in my food processor. It saved a lot of time and effort, but you can also use a potato masher. They need to have a juicy consistency but still have small chunks of fruit. (if you don’t like chunky fruit you could always strain it and make jelly instead)

P1010073 Once the strawberries are pureed mix them with the sugar and let them sit for 10 minutes. They get good and sweet this way. Yummy.

P1010075 While the strawberries are marrying the sugar take the water and add the Instant pectin. Bring it to a boil for one minute while whisking the whole time. We don’t want clumpy jam – ick!! Then add the water pectin mixture to the strawberry sugar mixture and stir for about three minutes, making sure the sugar is well dissolved.

P1010076 Ladle it into freezer jars or plastic containers made specifically for freezing and then wipe the edge making sure it’s very clean. Then add the lids, making sure to leave a little breathing room, about 1/4″, and let them sit for 30 minutes if you used the instant pectin, otherwise let them sit 24 hours at room temperature.

They can be refrigerated for three weeks or place in the freezer for one year.

It cost me about $7.00 to make the entire batch. P1010077 I had five 6 oz freezer jars and one large 16 oz blue jar to start out in the fridge. (I couldn’t find anywhere that the blue jars are for freezing)

The recipe is as follows:

2 pints of fresh strawberries – sliced and pureed it should make about 2 cups

4 1/4 cups sugar

2 pinches of sea salt

5 Tablespoons of Instant Pectin – I used Ball brand Instant Pectin

3/4 cup of water

I can’t wait to make more flavors…blueberry…peach…orange marmalade…cherry. The possibilities are endless.

Happy Jam-ing!!~Bam

R.I.P.

Today we buried my Uncle. He lived a long and enduring life. Thankfully, in the end he didn’t suffer long for this world.

On occasion I over process and I’m sure I’ve done this now too. But where did the term “Rest In Peace” come from?? According to the general consensus it came from the Latin term “Requiescat in Pace” which means “may he rest in peace”. From what I’ve read it has some significance to a bible scripture.

Isaiah 57:2 NIV – Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.

I had no idea that this is a term that originated from the bible. (I wonder how many other people don’t know this?)

I really struggled with my Uncle dying, more that what I thought I would. I think, it was because, I knew he still had his wits about him. What I mean by that is his body failed before his mind. He knew he was dying and he even gave the hospital staff a DNR. He made a conscious choice not to live with oxygen and any other assistance to keep his body working. He was ready to leave this world and move on.

To know that we have been promised peace in our death is quit comforting to me. I understand that not everyone shares my belief in the bible and what it says. I know there are many beliefs among many different religions regarding how we will spend our after life. For myself though, I do believe there’s a promise of a new Earth – Heaven on Earth. Full of hope and peace and a new spectacular life ever-after.

Not only  is this the logic that I was raised in but it actually makes sense to me to have hope that when I die I’m not just done. I have a soul that will spend eternity in a beautiful world where there is nothing but peace and tranquility. Otherwise, what is the purpose of this life? Yes, I do believe we have a purpose while we’re here on Earth, but, I don’t believe it’s our main goal. Living just to die – surely, there’s more to this life than that? I like Revelation 21, it gives a great description of what I and other Christians can look forward to.

I’m sorry if I’ve offended anyone by this. It’s just my personal thoughts on the after-life. You don’t have to agree, but, I hope I gave you something to chew on!!~Bam

Starting a new chapter

Our son has started taking classes at the local community college and so far he’s really enjoying them. It’s amazing that he finally has begun this new chapter in his life. (I can’t believe my baby’s grown into an adult now)

We’ve really struggled with just getting him to focus enough to get through school and now he’s finally moving on. No one can imagine how relieved his Dad and I are about this. For the longest time he was so bored with regular school he slept through most of it. Yes…he still passed all of his classes, but he really wasn’t learning much.

Our prayer for him now is that he’ll be in a situation that will broaden his horizons, and make him think about his future. What he wants to do with his life and what he needs to do to get there. (English major or Theology-that’s where he’s at currently)

It will be interesting to see how things progress in the next few months, but for now, we are moving in the right direction and I for one am very thankful for this!!

Yay for a new opportunity~Bam