Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday's Tip: Metal Cookie Cutters

Searching through Pinterest recently for ideas on Valentine's Day themed food and dinner ideas, I had a saw something cute: red velvet pancakes. My hubby and son LOVE red velvet so it would make a fun alternative on Valentine's Day morning. Then I got to thinking, I can do it better.

Yea, I know. This is the part that usually gets me into trouble!

Looking around my kitchen for inspiration, I saw them - cookie cutters. I could use metal cookie cutters to shape the pancakes as they cook! I know there are commercial versions around and I've tried some but didn't like to clean them afterwards, too many nooks and crannies for batter to bake into. But cookie cutters? Hmm, this might work.

{After a little trial and error, I would recommend using tongs to remove the cookie cutter before flipping over.}

It's a cute idea taken a step further. I like it!

See you tomorrow!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Menu Monday

Ahh! The week of Valentine's Day!

My hubby surprised me Thursday with flowers (he proposed on Feb. 7th so we celebrate then) and they are so beautiful to look at as I plan this weeks menu. Hope you have something special in store for your loved ones!

Monday: Miso soup and a veggie salad

Tuesday: Garlic Chicken Pasta - a Pinterest find ... I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday: Chipotle Meatloaf ( Little Man requested it again this week )

Thursday: Happy Valentine's Day! Crockpot lasagna

Friday: Dinner Date with Little Man

Saturday: Dinner Date with the hubby

Sunday:  Chili and rice with crudites

See you tomorrow!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Photo Friday: Hearts in the Sand

Here is a photo I took while on our vacation awhile ago. I love the photos of hearts drawn in the sand so I had to make my own. Our footprints make it even more special because my kid's lives are drawn from our love.

{Thanks for being patient today; apparently, I have to hit "publish" to post something! Haha!}

See you tomorrow! I have something special in store for Saturday!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

True Engagement

It's hard to believe that 10 years ago today my husband asked me to marry him.

It stops me every time I think about it: I've been with him for over 10 years! It's seems like such a big number compared to how long it feels. I really think we only just got married.

The wedding pictures might show a different story but our relationship feels as new as it did way back then. I still run to the door to greet him when he comes home. My heart hurts each time I hear the truck pull out of the driveway. Every diesel engine makes me look to see if it's him. I know I won't catch a glimpse of him on the highway but I still look. I have a special ringtone on my phone so I know it's him when he calls (and I always answer). He was my best friend back then and I'm completely dependent on him now.

One big reason I'm still excited about our relationship is I'm engaged in the relationship. I'm present in the day-to-day-ness of it. I look for reasons to put a smile on his face. I listen to what he's really saying when we're on the phone. I try to feed his soul every chance I get. And he does it for me too.

I leave him love notes and he sets the coffee up for me in the morning (he makes the best coffee). He vacuums before I get home with the kids on Thursdays so I don't freak out the baby. He does the laundry on the weekend and I fold his socks (trust me, this man is particular about his sock folding so this is a big deal!). He takes Nate to the dentist, karate and even out in the truck for a week at a time, just to give me some down time. This past weekend he let me go to a scrapbooking crop all weekend and just took over "mommy" duty. (Did I mention Grace isn't weaned yet?) This man is my hero.

Ten years ago, I was lucky enough to have found the man of my dreams (I had a list so I would know what he looked like). Then he wanted to spend forever with me. This is a relationship I am engaged in, for much longer than the Engagement before the wedding. I'm engaged for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Five Reasons I Love You

One project I've been working on for a few years is a Gratefulness Book. It's nothing pretty to speak of because I started it on a whim and haven't really made the effort to make it pretty. But it serves a purpose.

"Five Reasons I Love You"
Every time I catch myself smiling at something my husband does, I write it down. And four other reasons why I love him. After almost 10 years, the book is thick but there are no duplicate reasons.

I will often leave it out after writing in it for my husband to see. It's not something I told him I'm doing. Or do we talk about what I write. It's simple observation of him being the love of my life.

One day my kids will read it. I'm sure at first they will think it's gross but over time, I want them to learn that it's the little things that matter. That marriage is more than love or passion and that respect and appreciation are the glue that holds two people together.

I may start a book for each of my kids. Then when they're teenagers and we've disagreed again, they can be reassured that I still love them. Because I told them.

How about you? Have you told your family how you truly feel about them?

See you tomorrow!

Purposeful Acts of Kindness

It's usually said that you regret most what you didn't do. That's true for me today. I was on my way to pick up my niece because she was running away from home. I was honored she called me and on the drive over I was all puffed up because I was doing a good thing. I was feeling proud because my sister trusted me enough to rescue her daughter but that she also trusted I work in her daughter's heart to encourage her to return home again. Then I saw them. And kept driving.

It was a mom walking away from the park with two kids, one stroller and everyone of them was crying.

And I kept driving. A mom of two myself. On my way to rescue another mom. I'm right in the midst of the same season of life as this mom and I left her to deal with an obviously bad moment by herself.

I don't know her or what happened but I know what she was feeling. And I didn't stop. I had two carseats in my car so I could have safely transported them all to their house, it was probably on my way. I told myself she wouldn't get into a stranger's car with her kids anyway. Even in her moment of need, she wouldn't let me help. That's what I told myself.

But the truth is, I was in a hurry and didn't think long enough to stop to ask. She could have been so grateful, it could have changed her whole day. But I was too selfish of my time.

It's still nagging at me. So I got to thinking: if my problem is time then I need a plan.

I've heard of Random Acts of Kindness before, there's even a week dedicated to promoting the practice (February 11 - 17, 2013). While it sounds like a great big deal, why leave it at random? Why not make it purposeful?

Here's my challenge: since RAK is next week, why not plan now what acts of kindness you'll do?

Check out their website (http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/rak-week) for ideas and other ways to be involved, but do it with PURPOSE.

{For my teacher friends, there are links on their website to help teach this in the classroom}

This is my plan:
Next week I will do one act of kindness every day. Something simple. Something my kids will see. I want them to learn from me. I want them to know that we are the hands and feet of Christ so it's up to us to do something.

I will send cards to family who live out of state. I will call friends I haven't talked to recently. I will take a meal to a new mom (or three). I will pray for those who need healing. I will visit an elderly neighbor. I will help a stranger. I will ask to help another mom.

I believe life is a group effort. We aren't meant to do this alone. We all need help to get through the day without breaking. Your attention to another person could be life changing, so what are you waiting for?

See you tomorrow!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Our Menu This Week

Hi all!

How do you like the new look? I'm going to keep tweaking things as we go along so feel free to comment and let me know what works and what doesn't!

If you read Friday's post, you'll know that I'll post our weekly menu on Mondays, usually with a recipe to share. Today's menu I'll share my recipe for Chipotle Meatloaf. This is something I threw together using what I had on hand and it's become a favorite! I'm really lucky that my family likes the way I cook which makes it much easier for me to do it every day. {Now if only I can get them to do the dishes, I'd have it made}

Monday - Chipotle Meatloaf (recipe below), garlic mashed potatoes (boxed variety) and green beans (from the garden last year, the only way Little Man will eat 'em!)

Tuesday - Chicken Tetrazzini with broccoli

Wednesday - Spaghetti & Meatballs

Thursday - Crock pot Ham, Green beans & potatoes

Friday - Dinner Out {probably sushi!}

Saturday - Venison steaks, cheesy shell pasta and veggies

Sunday - Baked Nacho Casserole

Chipotle Meatloaf - warning this isn't an *official* recipe with specific measurements. Adjust it to your family's spicy-ness factor; we like ours a little milder.

1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chipotle mayo (we use Kraft brand)
1 egg
italian bread crumbs

Mix all ingredients by hand to incorporate well. Spread into stoneware pie plate, bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until done.

You could also do your meatloaf in a loaf pan but it'll take longer to bake. Use foil cupcake liners in your muffin tin and they take less time to bake.

Let me know if you try the recipe - and what you think!

See you tomorrow!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Something a little different!

Today you'll notice my blog looks a little different.... I'll keep working on it over the next few weeks but the biggest change you'll see is the frequency of the posts - you'll see something everyday! Yea!

I'm pulling back the limited scope of a blog devoted to my Close to My Heart creations because over time it appears that I don't create much. Well, I do, but some of the photos are too personal to share blindly on the internet. With that in mind, I wanted to blog about more about other aspects of my life and interests, Close to My Heart is only a small part of my life (a big part of my basement but that's another post) and I wanted to share more of what goes on throughout my day. To do that, I sat down at my computer and studied all the blogs I visit on a regular basis and I found out a few things. One, I like bright colors! (seriously, this was news to me :) ). Two, I like regular posts. Three, I like varied content related to moms, kids, home, & crafts. So, I came up with a plan.

Each month will have a theme, something to tie all my posts together for the month. Each day of the week will have a guideline so on Mondays I will post my menu for the week. I struggle around 4pm each day wondering about dinner about 3 seconds before my son comes into the kitchen whining because he's hungry. Having a plan will (hopefully) negate this catastrophe from starting. Tuesdays I will post a tip I want to share. This tip may not be new to you but it will be something I recently learned that rocked *my* world. For example, post a note near the TV for the babysitter explaining what TV shows are allowed to be watched and what channels they are on. That way the kids can't say "Mommy lets me watch CSI!" I will dedicate Wednesdays to my crafts, cards, scrapbooks and maybe even some sewing (if I ever get around to it!). Thursdays I will share a thought that's been on my mind, sort of a devotional, meditation kind of thing. On Fridays I will focus on something photography related. It might be a tip I learned, tutorial I love or even a photo from the week.

I think this plan, when executed, will give you more relevance to where you are and you'll feel more inclined to comment (*hint, hint*) but you'll also keep coming back too. I will still have tabs at the top with more dedicated Close to My Heart information (classes, shopping, etc.) but having varied content will hopefully encourage you to share this blog with your friends.

What do you think? Are you interested? Come back on Monday when you'll see what we're having for supper for the week - and I have a recipe to share with you.

See you Monday!