Monday, August 29, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Strickland Sentiments: Sneak Peek #2---Can't Wait!!!

Strickland Sentiments: Sneak Peek #2---Can't Wait!!!: PERSONALIZED ITEMS.... (Custom Birthday T-Shirts) ******************************************************************************** LETTE...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Crock-Pot Taco Chili

This recipe is one that I made by cutting and pasting parts of multiple recipes until I had one that fit my taste. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Ingredients (play with them if you want, add things you like and omit things that you don't like!)
  • 1lb. ground beef, turkey or chicken
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 2 cans of beans, drained (which ever you like best ... try pinto beans, dark red kidney beans or black beans)
  • 1 can of diced or crushed tomatoes (I like petite diced tomatoes)
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1/4 c or one packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 T butter
Garnishes: sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped onion, chopped tomato, jalapenos,  any of your favorite taco or chili toppings!
  1. Brown meat and drain.
  2. Place all ingredients except butter and garnishes in crock-pot and cook on low or 6 to 8 hours.
  3. Before serving, sample your chili.  If the acidity from the tomatoes is too strong, add the tablespoon of butter to cut through it.
  4. Top with your favorite garnishes!
Great side option for this dish is a cheese quesadilla!  My family loves them and they are super easy to make!  Just place a tortilla in a skillet, cover 1/2 of it with shredded cheese and taco sauce or salsa if you like.  Fold over and lightly brown on both sides!

This recipe with serve approximately 6, depending on portion sizes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Take It From Me: Amy Michelle Review & GIVEAWAY

Take It From Me: Amy Michelle Review & GIVEAWAY: Amy Michelle’s fashionable tote bags and accessories are designed for today’s busy on-the-go woman! Their bags are perfect for work, play...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Strickland Sentiments: LABOR of LOVE Adoption Auction ...

Strickland Sentiments: LABOR of LOVE Adoption Auction ...: I am very excited about our auction that will officially start A WEEK from today. So in efforts to get the word out I am sharing a few ...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

So Frustrated

I am so frustrated!  It's really not a big deal when you look at the big picture, but it's the little things that drive you crazy.  I love my Nikon camera so much, but right now I have tons of pictures on it from Madelynne's birthday that I can't transfer to my computer because something went screwy.  It worked fine last weekend and now when I plug it in to the computer, the computer won't even recognize that it is plugged in!  GRRR!  It's not the USB port because other things work when plugged into it.  Best bet, either the cord or the mini USB port on the camera got messed up some how.  (This from a friend ... I an not tech savvy enough to figure that out on my own!)  I ordered and adapter that my SD card fits in to.  I was really hoping it would come today so I could share pics from the birthday party!  No luck!  Monday or Tuesday is the e.t.a. according to UPS.  So now, I am reminded of a song by one of my favorite artists, Francesca Battistelli.  If you know me or have heard her, you know where I'm going with this!  I have this song as my ring tone!
I lost my keys, in the great unknown.  And call me please, 'cause I can't find my phone.  This is the stuff that drives me crazy.  This is the stuff that's getting to me lately.  In the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I'm blessed.  This is the stuff that gets under my skin.  But I've gotta trust, you know exactly what you're doing.  Might not be what I would choose, but this the stuff you use.                                                                          Forty-five, in a thirty-five.  Sirens and fines, while I'm running behind.                           This is the stuff that drives me crazy.  This is the stuff that's getting to me lately.  In the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I'm blessed.  This is the stuff that gets under my skin.  But I've gotta trust, you know exactly what you're doing.  Might not be what I would choose, but this the stuff you use.                                                                             So break me of impatience, Conquer my frustrations, I've got a new appreciation, It's not the end of the world.
Such a fitting song for anyone's life really!  Seriously, how many times have you called your cell phone because you didn't know where it was?  LOL

Take a minute and listen to the song here ... you'll be glad that you did!
This is the Stuff - Francesca Battistelli

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Homemade Housewife

My husband and I recently finished a Dave Ramsey class called Financial Peace University.  We highly recommend it for everyone, not just people who feel that they struggle with money!  Any way, we decided that our financial goal is to be in a place where we don't have to think or worry about money because WE are in complete control of our finances.  We want to dictate where our money goes, not our debtors.  We put ourselves on a strict budget which meant cutting back on groceries.  I use coupons, look for sales and buy store brand products as much a possible.  One thing that I'm sure everyone notices is that household products, cleansers etc, are one of the most expensive things on my list!  I have searched out and test lots of homemade household products.  Here are my favorites!

Carpet Deoderizer
Mix baking soda with your choice of cinnamon, clove, lavender buds etc.  Any fragrant spice will work.  I always eyeball the ratio, 1/4 c. soda to a tablespoon of spice.  Sprinkle on the carpet and let sit for 15 minutes before vacuuming.  It works so much better than the stuff from the store!

Cast Iron Cleaner
I like to cook in a cast iron skillet occasionally, but they are such a pain to clean!  You don't use soap on them, ever!  Here is my fool proof, simple method.  First I fill the skillet half full of water and place in on the burner on high.  I let the water boil for several minutes until all of the stuck on food is loosened.  After drain off the water, allow it to cool for a little while.  Make a thick paste out of table salt and a little bit of water.  Using a scrub brush, scrub the skillet with the salt paste.  The salt acts as a scrubbing agent and helps with the pan seasoning!

Laundry Additive
Adding a cup of white vinegar to your laundry will help deodorize and brighten your clothing.  

Shower and Tub Cleaner
Using a utility spray bottle, fill it with a mixture of 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 water.  Spray it on and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping clean.  The vinegar cuts through build up easily and deodorizes too.  You could also use lemon juice in place of the vinegar, but I think the vinegar works better.

Surface Cleaner
#1) The amounts will vary on this depending on how much you are cleaning and what type of dish soap you use.  I start with 1/4 c. baking soda and then add just enough dish soap to create a thick paste.  Using a soft, damp cloth I gently scrub my counters and sink.  Rinse with clean water.  The baking soda gently scours and deodorizes and the soap ... well the soap cleans! LOL  Use sparingly!  I found out the hard way that if you use too will be rinsing the soap off for a very long time!
 #2)  Fill your spray bottle with water.  Then add a couple of drops of mild soap, dish soap works best.  Shake before using.  Lightly spray the surface then wipe clean with a damp cloth.

This one is so simple!  I fill my spray bottle with water then add one cap full of bleach.  Shake and spray.  You can either lightly mist the surface and let it dry or you can generously spray the surface and wipe dry.  Also use this to clean the inside of your refrigerator!

For the Kitchen Sink (stainless)
Plug your sink and fill it FULL of hot water.  Add about 1 cup or so of bleach and let it sit for a while...I usually wait until the water has cooled down.  Drain the water and wipe with a soft will sparkle!!

For the Coffee Pot
Fill the reserve tank with water as usual then add a couple tablespoons of white vinegar.  It will cut through the hard water build up and make your pot brew faster.

I fill my bucket with hot water and add about 1 cup of bleach.  You could add lemon juice if you like.  I have found that this works so much better than the expensive stuff from the store!

Glass Cleaner
Using a utility spray bottle, fill it with a mixture of 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 water.  If you have it, wiping with newspaper helps prevent streaks, but I never see streaks with this mixture.

Dishwasher Cleaner
This is not for cleaning the dishes but for cleaning and deodorizing your dishwasher.  Mist the inside of the dishwasher with water (I use my bleach water mixture) and then lightly sprinkle with baking soda.  This will deodorize.  Then, fill your soap cup with lemon juice and run it through a light cycle.  Make sure to crack the door when it's done so that the inside dries completely.

For the Microwave
Place a moist sponge or dishcloth in the microwave.  Cook on high for 45 to 60 seconds depending on your microwave.  Mine cooks like lightening so this is the perfect amount of time for it.  Adjust the time according to your microwave.  The moisture loosens up the splatters and can easily be wiped clean.  I use a cloth dampened with bleach mixture.

Remember, these are just MY favorites.  You may find that you prefer another method.  I still have not found a favorite stove and oven cleaner and am open to suggestions!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Housework ADD

Do you suffer from housework ADD?  No, it is not in any of the medical journals and maybe it is not recognized as a real affliction ... but I assure you that it is.  Symptoms may include:
  • working all day on housework, but it still looks the same as it did when you started
  • a string of unfinished tasks caused by getting distracted by other things that need to be done
  • starting new tasks before finishing the current task
I suffer from housework ADD.  Rejoice...there is hope for a clean house!  Ok, so my house may not be the "poster home" for this idea, but it is a work in progress!  By combining several tips from magazines, books, blogs, etc I have found a "treatment plan" that works for me.  Who knows...maybe it will work for you too!
Some of the tips/ideas I know specifically where I got the idea from, those will be notated so you can reference them, however, some of them are ideas that I thought of...maybe someone already has them listed in their blog, book, etc but I did not take them from there.  Make sense?
  • You can do anything for 15 minutes!  This is one of my favorites!  It takes away some of the overwhelming factor.  When I feel like, "Ugh!  I don't want to do xyz!", I just tell myself, "It's only 15 minutes."  Get a timer, set it for 15 minutes and GO!  I have found that when i do this I get more done in those 15 minutes because I find myself racing against the clock and I am focused on the task at hand.  (taken from The Flylady)
  • Start at the far corner of the room and work your way out.  Ok, this sounds weird but it really makes a difference for me.  Instead of cleaning random places all over the room start at the far corner and do a sweep all of the way through the room.  I can't really explain why this works, but it does!
  • Use a laundry basket or storage bin to throw in all of the items that do not belong in that room and a plastic bag for trash.  If you pick up an item that doesn't belong in the room that you are cleaning and you take it to another part of the house to put it away or go to throw away a piece of trash...what is going to happen?  You are going to walk past something else that needs to be done.  [Example:  Yesterday, while cleaning my living room, I found something that needed to be thrown away.  I walked into the kitchen to throw it away and saw a plate on the counter that had not been scraped in the trash.  What do you think happened?  I grabbed the plate and all of the sudden I was no longer cleaning the living room...I was doing dishes!  Luckily I caught myself and quickly got back to my original task.]  When you finish cleaning in that room, take the bag to the trash and put away the items in the basket. 
  • Work from top to bottom.  This is a basic idea that I learned when I was a kid.  Start with the tops of shelves, cabinets, etc and end with the floor.  This is another thing that I can't really explain, but it really works for me.  I guess it is the fact that I can an action plan and can progress in a specific order.  It eliminates the "what do I do next" feeling that can make tasks feel overwhelming.
  • Dust after you de-clutter.  This in kind of a gimme, but sometimes the obvious is the easiest to miss.  Plain and simple, it is easier to dust when you have less to dust around.
  • Vacuum last.  Another obvious one.  If you vacuum before you finish you may end up with more on the floor to vacuum up.  This is just a waste of time.
  • Start with the easy stuff!  Do the tasks that are the quickest and easiest to complete first!  This will help you feel like you have actually accomplished something and encourage you to keep going!  This is going to sound a bit corny, but I actually modified a principal from my finance class for this one.  In the class it says to pay off your small debt first, for the same reason that I listed above.  I thought, "Wow!  That can apply to several aspects of life, not just money!"  (modified from Financial Peace University) 
So maybe none of these ideas are new, but having them together in one place could be helpful.  There are lots of other wonderful tips out there and I'm sure that I will add them as time goes by.  If you have a great one...share it with me!  My family would appreciate it :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Highlights from Easter 2011!

Helping peel eggs for deviled eggs! At least I think they used to be eggs!

She starting walking A LOT on Easter!

Dying eggs!

I see you!

Easter morning! Some are more interested in the basket than the camera!

Egg hunting!

So happy!

She loves her Baby Alive!

Her very first Easter egg!

She loved playing with the eggs!

Trying to get two kids to pose is nearly impossible!

Checking out her goodies!

Playing with her cousin

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hearts At Home

This past weekend I the the privilege to attend the Hearts at Home conference in Bloomington/Normal, Illinois.  This was the first year that I have been able to attend.  I have heard about it for several years, and have wanted to go but was always unable to afford it.  This year I was the recipient of a scholarship, from my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, that paid for everything except my meals and gas.  WOW!  I was so excited when I was informed that I had won!  There was a large group on women from my area who went, in all 19 of us.  I was able to car pool with six other women, which was a huge blessing because it is a four hour drive!
We left Friday afternoon and had some wonderful conversation time during the drive!  When we got to Illinois we went to The Olive Garden for supper.  This was a huge treat for me because I LOVE The Olive Garden and rarely get to eat there!
This is Dana and her salad...I hope she doesn't kill me for posting this!
After dinner it was time to get down to business.  We went to the ISU campus for the Moms Night Out event.  It was awesome!  We had some worship with Katie Eck...she was great!  You'll be hearing her name!  Then we saw a stand-up act by Chonda Pierce.  I had never heard of her before, but she is an award winning comedian.  She was HILARIOUS!  I won't even try to repeat any of her jokes because I know that I can't do them justice.  Look her up, you will be glad you did!
Saturday morning we went back for the actual conference which started with a general session for everyone in attendance.  It was so amazing, inspiring, uplifting, encouraging ... I could go on and on!  There were two general sessions, one in the morning and one at the end of the day.  The general session speakers were Jill Savage (founder of Hearts at Home), Jennifer Rothschild (AMAZING!) and Brenda Paccamonti (director of resources for Hearts at Home).
Get R.E.A.L. in Your Marriage - Yvette Maher. 
  • When you seek counsel from a friend, make sure to ask yourself, "Is she Godly counsel."
  • As you grow closer to God, you grow closer to your spouse.  Draw a triangle and put God at the top, husband in one bottom corner and wife in the other.  As the husband and wife move closer to God (the top) they also grow closer together.
  • Obedience precedes emotion!
  • Ask yourself, "Do you want to be right more than you want to do right?" "Do you want to give life more than you want to get even?" "Does the heart of your husband safely trust you?"  "Do you do him good and not evil?"  "What am I taking away from or contributing to allowing him to be the man God has called him to be?"
  • Let your husband lead in his way.  Relinquish control to him.
  • Tell God what you want to happen in your marriage.
  • FORGIVE!  And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.  Mark 11:25
  • Ask yourself, "What do I hold against my husband?"
  • Relinquish anger, resentment, unforgiveness, ungodly attitude and thought life.
  • If I had cherished iniquity (gross injustice or wickedness) in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.  Psalm 66:18
  • Ask, "Are my prayers compromised by anything?"
  • Identify both real and unreal expectations of your marriage and your spouse.
  • Invest in time together for laughter, meals, conversation and prayer.
  • Own your part and don't play victim.  Look in the mirror.
  • Keep molehills their proper size.
  • Discover each others contributions to your marriage.
No More Headaches - Juli Slattery
  • Sex is meant for pleasure but also for UNITY in your marriage.
  • Understand that your spouse is different...don't try to understand the difference...and accept it.
  • Communicate with each other honestly WITH OUT judging...there is no right or wrong...just different.
  • Compromise and make time for intimacy.
  • Sex is often marginalized.  You have no time or energy, it's just not as important as other things.  Break that cycle!
  • Sex IS important and it is good for your marriage and good for you.  It creates hormones that positively affect your body and that change your perception of each other.
  • Let go of the "debt" that you carry from past choices, past abuse, or what ever it is that keeps you from giving yourself fully to your spouse.  That debt is not yours ... The Redeemer paid it. -- refer to Hebrews 12
  • Momentary satisfaction "quick fixes" do not help in the long run.  You are building something together and God is building is us.
God Infusions: Secrets to a Spiritually Full Heart - Michele Cushatt
  • God's presence is all around us ... learn to experience it.
  • Create a margin.  We are constantly multi-tasking and there is no space between our load and our limit.
  • Simplify, live content, build relationships, set boundaries, laugh, cry, pursue wellness.
  • Create solitude.  Quiet ... savor the ordinary.
  • Unplug, turn off phone, daily vacation, mini-retreat, family sabbath.
  • See the beauty
  • Look for the beauty of God, it is all around us.
  • Gratitude.
  • Cultivate a thankful heart.  Rejoice in the Lord always.
One Size Does not Fit All - Connie Johnson 
  • I will admit that this one was not what I expected.  She had some great things to say, but a lot of it focused on self image due to weight issues which didn't speak to me very much.
  • She had good things to say about how to change the reaction in ourselves that causes us to feel worthless or bad about ourselves.
  • Identify the "trigger" that causes those feelings.  Fear, jealousy, etc.  Fear of what?  Jealous of what?  And so on, and then change your response by being proactive...have a plan thought out to put in place and seek support.
  • "You done have to subtract from yourself to add value to another."  I loved this quote!  Just because Susie Q is good at this or has that and so on, does not take away the value of who you are.
  • Find your passion and purpose in life ... God can turn weakness into strength!
  • "If we did all of the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves."  Thomas Edison
  • She closed by saying, "Go astound yourself!"  I loved that too!
I left Hearts at Home feeling encouraged and refreshed!  I am excited to really dive into what I learned and start applying it to my life!  Ghandi said that you must be the change that you want to see in the world, but I think that holds true for your personal life as well.
I am super excited to go back next year, and my best friend wants to go with me!  I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to attend this conference and recommend to any women who is able to go next year ... GO!