Thursday, July 11, 2013

I'm Officially Nesting

A friend told me they didn't "nest" until the last few weeks.  Part of me wishes that were so with myself, but the other realizes that if I don't get a head start on all of the unfinished projects around here, they will be put off for more than a year.  I know with experience "a baby changes everything".  I have been trying to tell myself, what's one more? or I'm a pro at this!  But the reality is that in 13 short, quick weeks I will be waking up around the clock, become a human food bank, and well, all of the other responsibilities I have aren't going anywhere either. 
So I am on this mission to organize all of the things that make my life difficult.  To baby proof a house that has gotten used to having children that know better.  And to make space, for another life where it already seemed like there was a clear shortage.  
I make lists!  Do you do this?  I'm obsessive about it.  I knew the full-fledged Nesting was here 2 weeks ago when I sat down to make 1 list of things that needed to be done so the kids could start the school year, and I finished with 4 pages.  Some even include drawings of things that need to be built, with measurements of cuts and everything from cleaning, touching up paint, to what I need to sell in a yardsale to make space.  Oh! Wait!  Did I mention I want the freezer full of meals when the baby gets here?
Deep Breath....Deep Breath...I know, I'm not in labor, but this may be the hardest part...I don't know I'll let you know after I push this child out on my bedroom floor without an epidural!
Here's the beginnings of my "crossing off".  It's kept me quite busy the last couple of weeks.  Which has been good, because it has now rained every day for almost 2 full weeks (or more, I lost count). 

I'm painting this to be a headboard.  It is the back of a crib we used for our first 3 loves until it broke.  I can't emotionally part with it, so I figured I would put it to use.

Here is the bookshelf I use for most of our homeschool stuff.  On both of these I am using a technique called "chalk" paint or "milk" paint.  If it goes well I will tell you all about it.

Here's the beginnings of what will be our new tv cabinet.  This is an old china cabinet that I took the top off of and then built this top for.  Unless it stops raining, this will keep sitting here like this.  The cabinet is shorter than the one we have the tv on now, so it will allow us to move some furniture around an make more room for things like bouncy seats and swings. ;)

Speaking of rain, here are a couple of pictures of the river near our house...well it is actually just a creek I think.  

I've also been stockpiling soap, now that I have conquered my fear of lye and learned how to make cold-process soap.  This tallow will become laundry soap bars this weekend!

I rendered it in my crockpot.  It seriously is a no brainer!  And I thought my homemade laundry detergent couldn't get any cheaper!

I've also been trying out/reading a lot of casserole style recipes.  My goal is the have the freezer filled with meals.  I did this the best when my 3rd was born.  I didn't cook for almost a whole month.  And without the mess of cutting boards and pots and pans, my life will be a ton easier!  I'm opting for filling and comforting dishes--like stick to your ribs kind of food.  These are the foods I like to eat most right after I have a baby.  I think they pack the nutrition you need to go on no sleep and nurse 24 hours a day.  They also reheat well, so everyone can just go easy through the new transition.  

We tried out this "New York" style baked ziti.  It reminded me of the dad and son pizza business I grew up around in Florida.  They were mostly run by displaced New Yorkers.  A few of these are definitely going in the freezer. 

I will also be putting as many quiches as I can get into the freezer in there!  This is my family favorite Cheeseburger Quiche about to go in the oven.  I've manipulated this recipe from a dish one of my friends brought me years ago right after adding our 3rd love to the family.  It is so hearty and simple.  I can't wait to share the recipe with you.

Well, all is well around here.  We are taking each day as it comes, trying to keep this pregnancy and family transition as peaceful as possible.  

Exodus 33:14 
And He said, "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest."
I may not finish everything on the list, well, I will probably make a hundred more lists too and not finish those.  But what will get done will get done, what won't...won't.  For now I must go rest a little, I can feel all of this painting and cleaning I've been doing today in my back.

Love and Butter,


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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Homemade Steak/Burger Seasoning


If I am truly honest, I must admit most of my cooking skills came from watching Rachel Ray on 30 minute meals.  I have to say, I may favor other chefs on the network for their style or region of influence.  (My absolute favorite recipes have come from Giada De Laurentiis- I love the way she integrates her Italian heritage with her California local.  It keeps this rural southern woman feeling glamorous in the kitchen!)

On the subject of Rachel Ray, I do so appreciate the time she takes to explain technique.  When I started cooking I didn't know the difference between chop or dice and let's just face it julienne wasn't even in my vocabulary.  But by watching her show I learned to distinguish frying, pan-frying, and sauteing.  Or what it meant to roast something as opposed to bake it.

One of the things Rachel Ray is always using is Montreal Seasoning.  It is generically marketed for Steak, but the flavor is great for any basic beef dish.  Since I now steer completely of seasoning mixes, I thought this would be one I could whip up on my own and just in time for grilling season.   

Montreal Steak Seasoning

4 Tablespoons sea salt, or real salt
2 Teaspoons of  ground black pepper
1/2 Tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon thyme
1 Tablespoon rosemary
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1/2 Tablespoon garlic powder

Mix all of the ingredients together and pulse in a spice grinder.  I use my coffee grinder and just wipe it out when I'm done.

I'm excited to have a new all-purpose grilling seasoning.  We just had it the other night on some grass-fed steaks with friends.  Which seriously, eating steak with 8 children in one house and only 2 of them could use knives properly, but not well.  That translates into adults, trying to have a conversation, but instead spending the entire evening cutting steak into bite-size pieces for tiny mouths...good times!!

Love and Butter,


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