Homemaker Confessional : My Secret Love

Friends, this is my very first Homemaker Confessional and I wanted all my nearest and dearest to hear it first.  As homemakers, I think we all have those guilty pleasures, those little confessions that need to be expressed.  Like my ridiculous addiction to Cherry Coke Zero and Diet Dr. Pepper.  Those silly little things that help us get through our days.

I decided to bring the big guns on my first Homemaker Confessional and share with you My Secret Love.   Are you ready?  Are you sitting down?  Are you sipping a Cherry Coke Zero about now?

Okay, My Secret Love is…….my Bread Machine.  There.  I said it.  My secret is out.  I’m in love with a kitchen appliance.  And with very good reason, I might add.  It works hard, doesn’t make a mess, doesn’t sass me, and with very little work on my part, it provides me with yeasty deliciousness in a 2 pound loaf.

Hamilton Beach HomeBaker 2 Pound Automatic Breadmaker Gluten Free Setting | Model# 29881

Oh come on, did you really think it was going be something sordid?  But I know all you homemakers understand.  I mean, who doesn’t love a warm, just out of the kitchen appliance, slice of bread?  Some day I think I would love to make my own bread by kneading, rising, punching……nah.  Who am I kidding?  I do NOT have the skill set for that.  What I do have is the skill set to dump ingredients into the loaf pan and push start.

So let me tell you a little bit about My Love.  I met this amazing appliance when we still lived in the farmhouse.  It was very inexpensive, I got it at Wal-Mart for less than $50.  It sat on my pantry shelf, in the box, for a few months.  I got it out and made a loaf.  It was just okay.  I put it back in the box.  Left it there until we moved to the land of giant bugs and never-ending humidity.  I got it out again and made a loaf.  It was good.  Then one day I happened to be making cornbread, which isn’t my favorite, but went well with soup beans, and I came across a recipe for Honey Granola bread.  I made a loaf with my homemade granola.  Oh.  My.  Loaf.  It was like heaven reached down and touched my bread and bestowed upon it the gift of deliciousness.  Okay, that may be a bit dramatic, but I’m telling you friends, hands down it was the best bread that I have ever eaten.

Since that first experiment, I decided to rearrange my kitchen counters so I can leave my bread machine out all the time.  I have made that same recipe at least a dozen times and have tried so many more – quinoa oatmeal bread anyone??  At least once a week, my bread machine is humming and you can smell bread baking all through the house.  All without me having to knead or punch something.

Next Monday, I will share the recipe for the Honey Granola Bread.  Trust me friends, if you don’t own a bread machine, you are going to want to get one after you see how truly easy this recipe is to make!  Even my little Carbivore adores it – and she normally only eats white store-bought bread.

Here is the link to my exact machine at Wal-Mart and it’s still priced under $50!  You can even get free 2 day shipping and have it in time for the recipe on Monday!



Simply Cookin’ : Easy Granola

A few years ago, a dear friend gave me a recipe for her homemade granola.  This friend is my go-to chick for anything related to homemaking.  She is what I lovingly refer to as “The Ultimate Homemaker.”  I’m pretty sure her Super Homemaking Cape is lined with fairy dust.

Anyway, she told me how easy this recipe was and I didn’t believe her.  Not because she lies or anything, but because she makes EVERYTHING look easy.  And usually when I try the same thing, it ends up as a major Homemaking Fail.  You can’t even imagine how ecstatic I was when I made it the first time and it actually worked!  A Homemaking Win!  This granola recipe has replaced store-bought cereal in our home (well, for the most part – sometimes I just want need Peanut Butter Cookie Crisp.)  My husband and children all adore it (which is a miracle all by itself), so I like to make several batches at once and store them in mason jars for snacks, breakfast, dessert toppings, and so much more!

I wanted to share my version of the recipe with you, so you can also rejoice with a Homemaking Win!  What I love most about this recipe (besides the fact that it’s ridiculously delicious) is that the ingredients needed are ones you probably already have right in your pantry!

Quick & Easy Homemade Granola

1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract (or almond, or pumpkin spice, or hazelnut, or whatever)
1 tsp cinnamon, optional (but super awesome with it)
Salt to taste (I like mine to have a sweet and salty flavor, so I use about 1 – 1 1/2 tsp)
3 cups quick oats, uncooked

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  I love the Reynold’s Wrap pre-cut pieces.  A little more expensive than the roll, but it lays flat and is the perfect size.  Mix oil, sugar, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl.  Once mixed together, add 3 cups of oats into mixture and smoosh together with your hands until the oats are well covered.  NOTE : Smooshing is a perfect job for your littles to help you in the kitchen!  Spread mixture onto prepared baking sheet and flatten with your hands until it’s a nice, even layer.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.  Once removed from oven, let cool completely.

Once the granola has cooled, you can add whatever mix-ins you’d like!  My children love it with mini semi-sweet chocolate chips.  My husband thinks plain is the best.  I like mine with some toasted coconut and the mini chocolate chips.  I’ve also made it with toasted almond slivers and cranberries.  YUM!

I think you’ll find the possibilities are endless with this recipe!  I’ve used it in my Honey Granola Bread, Whole Wheat Banana Muffins, and more.  I like it as a breakfast cereal with vanilla almond milk.  It’s also delicious sprinkled on ice cream for a fun dessert or on vanilla yogurt for a breakfast treat.

I can’t wait to hear what you think of the recipe and what toppings you have tried!!

**Special thanks to The Ultimate Homemaker – Mrs. Susan Previts – for sharing her
knowledge and making it all look so easy!!**

*Disclaimer: Kitchen depicted is NOT my kitchen….mine is definitely not that clean!

The Joys (and Struggles) of Friendship

Have you ever watched little children on the playground?  I was constantly amazed when I would sit and study my children playing.  Children seem to have this unique capacity for friendship.  I mean, they can sit for HOURS in a sandbox with a child and never even exchange names!  Oh, how I envy the ease of a child’s ability to make friends.

I know some adults, though, who also have that same childlike gift of making friends.  My mama was one of those people.  She would be standing in line at Walmart and strike up a conversation with another person and they would end up making pleasant small talk.  If I tried that, I know I would end up sounding like a creepy stalker lady and security would probably be called.

A former co-worker of mine at the optometrist office I worked, has that same gift.  It is what made her so successful at the task of pre-testing patients.  She would talk with them as she brought them back, and I’m sure they instantly felt like they were with a friend.  I must admit, I was very jealous of her ability to make people feel welcome and comfortable.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take after my mama.  I am more like my daddy.  He and I share the same ability to be what I call “Quiet Observers” (aka wallflowers).  Not a whole lot of talking done, but a whole lot of people watching (and not in that creepy, stalkerish way).  I think being that way allows me to glean more information about people by not only listening to their words, but studying body language, how they interact with others, etc.

There is a downside to being that Quiet Observer, though.  Because I do tend to be so quiet and observant, I can come across to others as being rude or standoffish….especially in a group setting.  I don’t mean to be, and I certainly don’t want to be….it’s just how I initially appear.  The thought of someone thinking me rude or stuck-up makes my heart sad.  I know that I am NOT those things, but as we all know, first impressions can be difficult to alter.

I feel there are many benefits of being that Quiet Observer.  As I’m constantly trying to teach my children, the good Lord gave us TWO ears and ONE mouth for a reason – so that we can listen TWICE as much as we talk!  Being a good listener is a HUGE part of friendship.  If we don’t have the ability to be still and truly listen to our friends, I’m positive the friendship won’t last.

On the other hand, if people believe you to be rude, standoffish, stuck up, or whatever other word applies….then there won’t be any friends that you can listen to.  There has to be a balance and I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t found it yet.

My husband and I left our family and friends in Ohio to move to North Carolina in July 2015.  No family, no friends here – – basically starting over.  There is a passage in Anne of Green Gables that puts me in mind of my own situation right now.  Anne has just found out she is staying at Green Gables and she asks Marilla the following:

“Marilla,” she demanded presently, “do you think that I shall ever have a
bosom friend here in Avonlea?”

“A–a what kind of friend?”

“A bosom friend — an intimate friend, you know–a really kindred spirit
to whom I can confide my inmost soul.  I’ve dreamed of meeting her all my life.
I never really supposed I would, but so many of my loveliest dreams have
come true all at once that perhaps this one will, too.  Do you think it’s possible?”

I feel like those words were written for me.  I ask God frequently, “Lord, shall I ever have a bosom friend?  A kindred spirit whom I can confide, a friend that will come into my house and see a mess and there is no judgment? A friend who will bring over Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels on a bad day and not care when I hug the bag before her?”

I know the Lord has plans for each of us, and that plan includes a bosom friendship for me.  Until that day, I will wait…..quietly, of course, and know that the Lord is my friend above all friends.  So if you’re in the market for a Quiet Observer Friend…..I’ll be here, probably eating chocolate.



Where, oh where, have I been?

Back in 2011, I had started writing this blog to keep my sanity. We were moving to a smaller house in the country and I just felt like if I didn’t write down what was going on, I may end up on the 6:00 news…..and not in a good way.

Anyway, the main reason I stopped is because we didn’t have internet at the house. (GASP – it can be done, but should it?)  It became too complicated…..and this is one mama who doesn’t enjoy complicated.

So now I’m back connected to the world outside my door and decided that it was time to start writing again…..I missed it. I knew if I tried to write everything that has happened in the past 6 years, it would be a novel, so I’ve decided to condense it down to as few as words as possible. Can I do it in less than 75??? Challenge accepted.  Ready? Here we go:

Mom died. Left Ohio. Moved to NC. Got internet. Started homeschooling. May be crazy. Got a job. Hated it. Got another job. Liked it. Got a job working from home. Love it. (Cue angels singing) Have a teenager. With a learner’s permit. (pray for me) Have 2 tweenage daughters. (pray for Aaron) Trying to make friends. Miss my Buckeye state.
Miss my mom. Miss my dad. Miss my church.

Oh yeah, 68 words. Success.

Don’t Be So Meowthy

Oh my goodness.  I am tired today.  Adam had to be to work this morning at 6:00.  (He works at a restaurant known for it’s delicious chicken sandwich, waffle fries, and lemonade).  Anyway, I set my alarm for 5:15 – that should give me enough time to get up, throw some clothes on, and try to wake up before having to drive him on dark, dark roads.

For some irrational reason, even though my alarm is set on my phone, I am still worried that I won’t hear it and will not get up on time.  I don’t typically sleep well the night before he has to work an early shift.  I’m restless, watching the clock, sleeping in less than comfortable positions so I don’t fall into a deep sleep and miss the alarm.  Paranoid much?

Anyway, I finally crawl out of bed around 4:55 this morning.  The house is pretty well lit, thanks to the candle light thingy in my kitchen window that apparently has a bulb that harnesses the power of the sun.  I putter around, drinking my first cup of ice water today.  I sit down and give some thanks to God for getting me up early.  There may have been some sarcasm involved, so it’s a good thing He is forgiving.

Without being told, my teenage son gets up on his own and gets ready for work.  I’m sitting in the living room thinking there must a full moon or something for this to be happening.  I drive him to work and head back home, where I’m already anticipating laying back down to catch a little more sleep.

Aaron is up when I get home, already running on the treadmill (that man has more energy than ten people combined) and I hop back into bed, put a sleep mask over my eyes to make it darker, and cuddle into my pillow.

Meow.  Meow.  Meow.  Sigh.  Princess the Cat has decided that it is time for all to be awake.  She is standing on my headboard, batting my hair while meowing loudly.  I know what she wants, but I don’t want to stand in the bathroom for 10 minutes while she gets a drink from the faucet because “bowl water” isn’t for her.  I pick her up and place her outside the bedroom and shut the door.  Climb back into bed and snuggle in.

MEOW.  MEOW.  MEOW.  MEOW.   Yes, the caps are necessary because she was yelling at me.  Again.  Some child of mine, who shall remain nameless, but is my youngest, let her into the room because she was meowing outside the door.  Sigh.  I pick her back up and put her outside my room and shut the door.  A little bit harder this time.  Climb back in, and get comfy.

Just as I’m dozing off, the door opens AGAIN, and this time Aaron comes in to get ready for work.  Princess the Cat follows him and proceeds to the headboard.  Before she can even start, I pick her up and take her to the bathroom, turn on the faucet, and let her drink while I make the bed.  I do love my cat, but she is so meowthy, it drives me nuts.


Princess the Cat

So while my day didn’t start as well as I had wanted it to, I am making a real effort to change it around.  Having some Jesus time, drinking some more water, the girls and I are doing our exercises, I’m getting some work done……I will make it a great day!

The Heat is Off

So yesterday was moving day.  If I misspell words I apologize.  My arms feel a bit like rubber and apparently my Super Woman cape is at the cleaners because I am one tired mama.  I’m writing this from our old house because I’m still working from there.  Now I’m on break and decided to update my dear friends with our exciting farmhouse news.

The day actually went pretty smooth.  The kids were helpful (sort of) and the wonderful two guys who came to be some muscle, really worked their booties off.  They were a God-send for sure!  So thanks to Mike and Dave (both of whom will probably never read this anyway, but you have my gratitude – and Dave…you and Sara will be enjoying some chicken stuffed shells this week).

Have you ever seen the show Hoarders?  I told Aaron last night as we collapsed into bed (which is just on the floor since I forgot to go pick up the new rugs for underneath and we do not want to set up this monster again) that we should just leave the boxes and crap as is and then telephone the show Hoarders and apply to be on there.  We can cry a little, walk over the mountains of stuff, and crab walk to the bathroom through the piles that have yet to be put away and organized.  Then THEY can help us organize and downsize!! 

Last night I wanted to hose off the children in the shower (which we could barely get to with all the boxes in the bathroom) and I turned off the water.  The girls got into the tub and I mentioned to Aaron that the water seemed to not be getting warm at all.  I asked him whether he had turned on the hot water heater.  “Yes,” he assured me.  “I did that earlier in the week.”  Okay.  Quickly rinse the girls off and Adam gets in.  Then Aaron takes his and mentions to me that the water seems a bit cold.  Okay again.  I get in and this time my hair completely soaped up, shampoo is dripping into my eyes so I now cannot open them without an awful burning sensation, and the water is not just cold – IT IS FREEZING.  I gasp and tap dance a bit in the shower while trying to rinse my hair while completely keeping my eyes closed.  I ask Aaron to check the hot water heater so he traipses down to the cellar and lo and behold – – it’s just on the pilot light.  My dear, lovely husband had every intention of turning it on, but had forgotten.  Needless to say, that was the worst shower in the world.

But we’re in.  We survived our first night without TV and internet AND the girls in ONE ROOM….TOGETHER.  Now if we can just unearth the couch and the kitchen table, we can make it start feeling like home. 

Best quote of the move though goes to Riah.  Remember that we moved FROM a 2,200 sq ft home with 2.5 baths and 5 bedrooms to a 3 bedroom 1 bath 1048 sq ft home.  I gave her a basket of bathroom toiletries and asked her to please take it to the bathroom for mommy.  Her reply?  “Which one?”  Oh good grief.  I’m getting a glimpse of 5 years down the road when her and Mara are primping in the bathroom and Aaron, Adam, and I are left standing outside the door banging on it for our turn. 

Better start planning that addition soon…..

What’s That Smell? and Name That Farm

We are approaching crunch time.  M-Day is coming soon.  If you’re just now joining me, M-Day stands for Moving Day.  We are getting ready to move into our teeny tiny farmhouse on 3.5 acres.  Anyway, we’ve been headed out there more frequently trying to get everything ready for our big move next Saturday.  I took the kids out with me with a van load of stuff (i.e. crap that probably won’t fit in the house anyway) and when I open the door, instead of being greeted with the mustier 113 year old house smell, I am greeted with scent of everyone’s favorite nocturnal animal – the Skunk.  Oh yes.  It was horrendous.

I walked back outside and then realized the smell wasn’t OUTSIDE the house.  As I start to get a bit more concerned I walk over to the Dorothy/Toto cellar doors and realize the smell is much stronger over there.  Fearing the worst, I grab my cell phone (even though we can’t get internet, I can still get a couple bars on the cell phone) and I phone Aaron at work.  I tell him my fear that a skunk may be in the cellar.  After picking himself up off his office floor and composing himself, he tells me to have Adam and I on each side of the cellar and then lift up the doors gently while hiding behind them in case Mr. Skunk is waiting at the top of the stairs. 

I have got to tell you that it took Adam about 10 minutes to finally agree to help me.  We each get on the side of the cellar and grab the door handles.  On the count of three we slowly lift the doors and duck.  I peek my eyes around the rusted cellar door and breathe (through my mouth) a sigh of relief.  No Skunk in sight.  We walk quickly away and leave the doors open in case it’s down there.  We never saw one come out so we’re not sure if Mr. Skunk went down there and got mad he was in a hole in the ground and then sprayed it all up and came back out a hole or something, but man…that was awful. 

Country living at it’s finest…or so I’m told. 

We’ve had much going on.  A couple weeks ago Adam went to Aaron’s co-workers house to clean out the chicken coop for practice.  Mr. Slaiman told Adam that if he cleaned out the coop, he would give it to him for free.  Yes, we are about to become proud owners of a chicken coop.  And since we have a chicken coop….you can probably guess that chickens are on the way.  Adam has been doing research and found the breed he wants to get.  They are calm, docile, and produce high quantities of large brown eggs.  So if any of you enjoy farm fresh brown eggs….give us a couple months and we can so hook you up.  Supposedly the chicken coop is being delivered on Saturday so we need to clean out the area where it will be staying and make sure it’s all ready to go.

Another thought on our mind is that we really want a name for our property.  We’ve been racking our brains trying to come up with something whimsical, yet makes sense.  I came up with Flutterby Acres only because we are growing hay to sell and the butterflies are SO bountiful because they absolutely love whatever purple things are growing amidst the hay.  Tonight at supper, Adam came up with “Eggs”traordinary Acres or “Egg”cellent Acres.  I thought both of those were cute too.  We are open to suggestions, so bring ’em on. 

I am exhausted after a busy day, so I’m going to close here.  Have a great night!