Saturday, August 28, 2010

We're Moving Our Blog to WP!! Come Follow Us there!!!

A Heartfelt Hello to all of my wonderful blog followers and friends!!!

For those of you who are not aware of it already, I have successfully moved my Heartfelt Home Creations blog to it's new home on Word Press!!!!  PLUS -- by the end of this weekend I will have my official launching of my Heartfelt Home Creates Shoppe on Etsy!!

There's been alot of things going on and changes that have been made, but I assure you that it's all for the better! Not to mention I've managed to transfer over all of your favorite blog posts that I have made and anticipate many more to come, including but not limited to Christian book reviews, guest posts and interviews with fellow Mom and at-home Women bloggers and small business owners, AND product reviews and giveaways (please feel free to email me at -- HeartfeltHomeCreations (at) -- if you are interested in participating in any of these things! I'd love to help you promote your blog or business!!).

So, stop on over at our new blog location so that you can continue to follow my blog and continue to learn  how to "make your house intno a Heartfelt Home!!" Thank you! and I hope you have a wonderful day!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Heartfelt Home Creations ~ Most Definitely!

This week the creativity bug really hit me!! I've been working on projects and cooking up a storm!! I've truly made some "heartfelt home creations"!! Here's what I've been up to:

My garden's been providing us with a lot of vegetables lately, so I've been blessed with being able to try a few new recipes. On Monday, I decided to put my apron on and start cooking. I managed to bake up 2 loaves of white bread, 2 pizzas with homemade dough and using tomatoes and garlic from my garden to make the sauce, a loaf of lemon blueberry bread so I could utilize the blueberries I picked the week before, and 5 small jars of garlic dill pickles - again  using veggies from my garden!! (See links for recipes.)

And then there were the crafts!! I found some yarn left over from past projects that have already been finished. Well, rather than have the yarn sit there taking up space, I decided to put on my creativity hat and start crocheting for a few days! I just started working and before I knew it, I had created not only my own pattern but also a "centerpiece mat" to use in my dining room. When that was finished and I had just a little more yarn left, I made up a little flower coaster that fits nicely under my candles.  After all of that was complete, I even managed to get some scrapbooking accomplished. 

So, if your not into crafts and cooking and things like that, you might be thinking, "Ok, glad you got some things accomplished."  But aside from sharing what I created this week, I also wanted to share this little tidbit with you and ask the following question:
What have you done today to get those creative juices flowing?

Sometimes we get all caught up in this technology based, fast paced society (myself included). Sometimes I think we need to just sit back and see what kinds of things we can do for ourselves.  How often do we run out to the grocery store for the things we need? Making the bread and other goodies for my family and I to eat reminded me of how "this is what my grandmothers and great-grandmothers did". I look at my crocheted projects and think "Yeah, I could've just went out to a store and bought them, but it's so nice having something that I made and can use."  Not to mention the fact it seems to be a bit of therapy for me as well. Gives me the chance to unwind a bit. And if you have little hands that are willing to help and learn right along with you, that makes it all the more worth while!!

So, if you need a challenge or a change of pace this week, consider creating something! Cook something up in the kitchen, finish that craft project that you've had stashed away in the closet to be forgotten or start a new one. Have you wanted to "someday" teach yourself how to knit or sew or maybe even make your own candles? Why not start today?
 Enjoy yourself! It's alot nicer when it's "created for your home and from your heart"!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Transition from a Working Mom to a Work-at-Home-Mom!!

 usually don't write these kinds of posts, but since my journey has taken me down a different path, I thought I'd share!!

For those of you who know me, you know that for the past 4 years of my life I've been employed as a competition dance teacher/choreographer for the studio where my life in dance had begun over 25 years ago. Although I've grown to love my job and the girls that I taught (we've become so close and they're all like younger sisters to me!), this chapter of my life had to come to an end (due to changes in the babysitter situation and my husband's demanding work schedule).  On the positive note, we ended our dance year with great success at a local dance competition and a wonderful recital where I had the priviledge of seeing off some of my older girls in what was their last recital as well. It was definitely bitter sweet!!

So, that leaves me to where I am now. I am officially a Work-At-Home-Mom (WAHM) now!! My husband still has his demanding work schedule between his full-time and part-time jobs, but at least now we have the blessing of having me at home to care for, raise, and love our 2-year-old son.  So far we've been able to stick to our tight budget, squeeze every penny for what it's worth, and still have a mostly enjoyable family life.

When I'm not cooking from scratch, racing matchbox cars with my son, tending to my vegetable garden, or "getting my craft on" as my friend Shauna puts it, you will find me working my at-home businesses.  I feel truly blessed that God has opened these doors for me, for without them I wouldn't have been able to bring in the little extra income over the past month or so in order to make things work for us financially. As most of you know, I am an Independent Senior Mary Kay Beauty Consultant and also the Event Coordinator for the Eastern PA Mommy Bags of Mommy Bag Marketing, Inc.  (I don't normally use my blog posts to promote my businesses but in this one case I encourage you to check out both links in case I can help you or someone you know!! Both of my businesses are based on referrals so if you can pass the info along to a friend I'd definitely appreciate it!!).  You can find the fan pages I created for each at the bottom of this blog if you're interested in giving me a "follow". 

So, that's that! Even though I've been on this new path for a little less than a month already, I still wake up every morning feeling amazed and blessed that I am officially a WAHM!! Nothing beats being there for my son almost every second of the day, and being able to work from home with businesses that allow me to put God and family above career!!

With that, I'm going to close this post with one of my favorite Bible verses that I find relevant to my current situation:

"As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you, and you will be comforted over Jerusalem." ~ Isaiah 66:13 (NIV)

~ Recipe of the Week ~

~ * Lemon Pepper Zucchini Pasta * ~

I harvested my first, descent-sized zucchini from my vegetable garden the other day and decided to cook it up for supper. I learned how to make this quick and easy meal from a dear lady whom I rented from and enjoyed getting to know ~ Eleanor Lowe!! So it is to her I give all props to for this yummy meal!!

Preparation and Cook Time: 20 - 30 minutes

(Since this was a hands-on recipe, I don't have exact measurements for ingredients, so the best advice I can give is to add the seasonings in amounts that you will enjoy!!)

1 zucchini
1 box of spaghetti (or type of noodles that you prefer)
1 Tablespoon Lemon Pepper seasoning
1 to 2 diced cloves of garlic
1 to 3 scallions diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 stick of butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup of lemon juice (not necessary unless you want a little extra zing!)
Grated Parmesan cheese

1.) Boil water in a 2 - quart sauce pan. Add spaghetti noodles and cook until tender.

While noodles are cooking:

2.) Slice zucchini into slices no bigger than 1/4 inch in thickness, then cut each slice in half or in quarters (depending on how big you want your zucchini pieces).
** Leave skin on zucchini pieces for an added bonus of vitamins and nutrients! **

3.) Melt butter in a frying pan and add zucchini pieces and the diced garlic and scallions.

4.) When the vegetables start to become tender, add salt, garlic powder and lemon pepper seasoning.

5.) Drain noodles and return to sauce pan.

6.) Add zuccini mixture to noodles in sauce pan and mix well. (*Here is where you would also add in the lemon juice). Cook on medium to low heat for about 5-10 minutes so that the noodles soak up the flavorings from the seasonings and nutrients from the vegetables.

7.) Serve with grated parmesan cheese on top, and perhaps some fresh garlic bread.

Let me know if you try this recipe, and how you like it! Enjoy!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

~Recipe of the Week ~

~* Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup *~

Today for lunch, I was in the mood for something easy to make, something homemade, and something different. After looking in my cupboards and refrigerator to see what kind of ingredients I had, I found the package of fresh mushrooms I purchased at our local grocery store the other day. Hmmm... how about some mushroom soup?  Since had never made mushroom soup before, I decided to pull out what I consider to be my cooking bible -- "Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook" (Copyright 1950. General Mills, Inc.). After flipping through the "Soup" section of the cookbook, I came across this recipe and was DELIGHTED to find that it was something quick, easy, homemade, AND I had all of the ingredients already in my kitchen! Yay! And now I share this recipe with you!

-- Side note: I made this with a small salad made up of veggies from my garden, and it turned out to be a very satisfying, light lunch! Let me know if you give this recipe a try!!

Preparation and cook time: 15-20 minutes

3 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. (a pinch) of pepper
2 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sauteed finely chopped  mushrooms
1 tsp grated onion
~ paprika and onion salt added to taste

Cooking Instructions:
~ Sautee chopped mushrooms in a little butter.
1.) Melt butter over low heat in heavy saucepan.
2.) Blend in flour, salt and pepper.
3.) Remove from heat and stir in milk and chicken broth.
4.) Bring to boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly, then add sateed mushrooms and grated onion.

5.) Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes.
6.) Serve hot with a pinch of paprika and onion salt for garnish, along with perhaps a bit of parsley for added color.

Cooking tip:  When making homemade recipes, it's fun to use items you might already have available at home. I enjoy using fresh ingredients from home when available, instead of store-bought or processed items. For example, instead of using a can of chicken broth for this recipe, think about using chicken broth saved from the last time you made homemade chicken soup (an item that is easy to store and can be frozen for future use). Also, onions are an easy vegetable that can be grown in a home garden or even planted in a flower pot if you don't have the space. You can also try growing your own mushrooms, or when in season, locate a local farmers' market or local roadside stand. I always find it exciting to use ingredients I've grown or made myself -- it really adds to the "Homemade" aspect of the recipe!

Enjoy your soup, and don't forget to leave a comment if you try it out for yourself!
*Please note: I was not asked or endorsed in any way by General Mills, Inc. for mentioning this Betty Crocker cookbook or the recipe written above. The cookbook was given to me as a gift from my mother, and I use it for my own culinary enjoyment.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Garden Gumption ~ Post #7

Holy Tomatoes, Batman!

How are everyone's gardens coming along? Good, I hope!

Today's post is just a brief update on mine. My husband and I managed to get my veggie garden all fenced in to ward off those pesky little groundhogs, so we can check that off our gardening to-do list! Now we just have to tie up my HUGE potatoe plants so they stop hiding all of my onions and garlic! Hopefully that will be accomplished this weekend.

My garden is coming along surprisingly better than last year. My cucumber plants are actually growing and flowering, as well as my pea plants and zuchinni. My lettuce and cabbages are starting to grow back quite well, considering they were attacked twice by the groundhogs before we constructed the "fence".

And then we have my tomato plants!!!! I have 25 in total -- all grown from seed (as are my other veggie plants). I already have a large group of tomatoes growing -- my last count being at least 30!! I'm very excited, because that means this year I can make some homemade spaghetti sauce!! If I do an official tomato count later today, I'll let you know.

Is everyone having as much luck with their gardens as I am? I'd love to know!! For all of my gardening friends out there, I hope we all get to enjoy a good harvest this year!! And for those of you who don't have a garden, help support your local farmers at farmers markets and local produce stands!!

~* Happy Gardening!! *~

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

~ Recipe of the Week ~

* Jamie's Chocolate Chip Cookies *

Do you LOVE chocolate chip cookies? Well, here is the BEST chocolate chip cookie dough recipe I have come across yet!! I can't take credit for this recipe, but I would like to give a shoutout to one of my dance students -- Jamie L. (and her mom for copying down the recipe for me!) -- who shared these delicious delights with us one night at dance. I was finally able to make these yummy cookies with my son today, and so of course I HAD to share it as my "Recipe of the Week" this week!! Believe me when I say, you can't eat just one, I PROMISE!!!! ENJOY!!!

Preparation and Cook Time: 20 minutes
Makes approximately: 48 cookies

1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 - 12 oz bags of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1) In a large mixing bowl, cream together the shortening and brown sugar.
2) Add the 2 eggs and vanilla, and mix well.
3) In a separate small dish or cup, dissolve the baking soda in 1 tablespoon of hot water; then add it to cookie dough mixture.
4) Add salt and flour and mix ingredients together.
5) Finally, mix in the chocolate chips.
6) On a greased cookie sheet, scoop out cookie dough (approximately 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie) onto the cookie sheet -- fitting about 12 cookies depending on cookie sheet size.
7) Bake the cookies in the oven for 10 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies are slightly browned and the insides are thoroughly cooked.
8) Remove cookies from oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack.

Serve with a nice, cold glass of milk and ENJOY!!!!


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Summer Blog Tour 2010 *plus giveaway!

AND the WINNER is...... ANGELA of always B designs !!

Hello! Here is a "Heartfelt Welcome" for stopping by my blog during this WONDERFUL 2010 Summer Blog Tour!!  Let me give a quick THANK YOU to Holly of The Work at Home Woman and Abbey of Living My MoMent for featuring my blog during this really FUN event!!

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Vanessa Walker and I LOVE being a work-at-home-Mom (WAHM)!! I live in the small town of Berwick, Pennsylvania, where I am an Independent Senior Mary Kay Beauty Consultant, and also the Independent Event Coordinator for Pennsylvania Mommy Bag Marketing

I developed my Heartfelt Home Creations blog so that I may share my hobbies and interests with family, friends and fellow bloggers! With everything from my "Recipe of the Week" posts on Mondays to my "Garden Gumption" posts on Fridays; I hope that you may find something fun and interesting to read!

When I'm not being Wife to my wonderful husband, or "Momma" to my awesome son, or helping women fulfill their cosmetic and skin care needs with my Mary Kay business (let me know if you need anything!), you can find me working on one of my many hobbies (cooking, gardening, crafting, and blogging!!).

Also, if you are a Christian Mom with your own business and want to share information about your business with Christian Moms and Christian Families -- OR if you have an upcoming Christian Concert, Mom Group, Retreats, or Church functions, let me know and learn about my Mommy Resource Bags at  !! I'm currently setting up event dates and filling Mommy Resource Bags with fliers, coupons, and business info from fellow Christian Moms and would love to have you included!

Thank You for stopping by my blog! And don't forget to follow the 2010 Summer Blog Tour every day so you can connect with other great blogs and fun giveaways!!

My Giveaway: Mary Kay Sun Travel Set

 It includes a mini Beach Bronze Nourishine Lip Gloss, mini Mary Kay SPF 30 Sunscreen, mini Mary Kay After-Sun Replenishing Gel, and 2 refillable travel bottles, all in a clear zippered pouch.

To Enter:
Leave a comment with a means for me to contact you! That’s it!

(IMPORTANT: leave a comment for EACH task you complete!)
1. Read through my blog posts and tell me what you think!

2. Follow me on Twitter: @VWalkerMK

3. Tweet this on twitter: RT @VWalkerMK Enter to win a Mary Kay Sun Travel Set at #summerblogtour

4. Follow and/or subscribe to this blog!

5. "Like" Vanessa's Beauty Care Services and Heartfelt Home Creations on Facebook!

Contest will Close 6/23/10 at 10pm EST and a winner will be chosen at random and notified via e-mail.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Garden Gumption ~ Post #6

~ The Case of the Cabbage Eater: Part 2! ~

Well, everyone.... assumptions have been made, evidence collected, and predictions confirmed!! The mischief in my garden has been caused by .... Ground Hogs!!!

Oh, and not just any ground hog! Yes, it is the same ground hog that tormented my garden last year -- climbing up the bank from the river into my little backyard to nibble on my tasty vegetables. However, this year our little "friend" brought along it's family!! Yep!! THREE little ground hogs have come to tag along so that they too may enjoy the grass, weeds, and my Garden! Imagine my surprise when all of them started squeezing THROUGH my chain linked fence!! Haha!!! I made sure to get some pictures and video of the little buggers. And now, my 2-year-old has decided to join in on the fun by sitting in the backyard on a blanket and so some ground hog watching of his own. (He get's so excited!! It's cute!)

So, there you have it. Case closed!! Now my husband and I can fully prepare for and prevent the furry little critters from eating all of my vegetables again!

Happy Gardening!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Garden Gumption ~ Post #5

~* The Case of the Cabbage Eater *~

How have all of your gardens been coming along?  Are you getting the chance to work outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine? I know I have, along with my son of course!

My vegetable garden has been coming along nicely, including the 2nd garden we planted with onions, garlic and potatoes!  Things are coming along very nicely and I'm hoping for an even bigger and more plentiful harvest compared to my first harvest last year!

Except, 2 nights ago, we were attacked by a Cabbage Eater!! (and an Eater of Lettuce, Peas and Sunflower plant leaves as well!!) 

We don't know who the culprit is just yet. I suspect it's the groundhog we had waddling through our yard on occasion last year. The critter would come waddling up our bank from the river in our backyard on occasion, and we had spotted him/her nibbling on my garden goodies on occasion.
Needless to say, my lettuce and cabbage never had the chance to grow properly.

This year my husband and I thought we had everything under control in regards to our veggie-hungry friend! Ever since we put up a chain link fence along the back of our property, we haven't had any furry visitors. But then.... much to my dismay..... the Case of the Cabbage Eater had been reopened! All of my beautiful lettuce and cabbage leaves, the tops of my pea plants, and the leaves on my single, successful sunflower plant have all been chewed, munched, and obliterated.  After inspecting the remaining stocks and stems of my plants, and taking a detailed walk around the perimeter of my yard, I found the choice of entrance of our evil veggie eater -- it had pried back a small section of the fence that we had not permanently attached yet (we're hoping to add a gate to our fence in the next few weeks) and entered out yard that way. My suspicions lead me to believe that the ground hog has returned! I told my husband: What else besides the groundhog would know enough to get into our yard and specificallly seek out my lettuce and cabbages?  Unfortunately, it's just a hunch, perhaps a mystery that won't be solved.

In the meantime, my husband and I are taking a trip to the local tractor supply later today so that we can figure out an effective, environmentally safe, and hopefully inexpensive way to prevent anymore veggie eaters from ruining my garden. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!!

As for the little pests that could take their toll on a garden, a friend of mine suggested this site and information to me: (Thanks Shauna!)  I plan on implementing some of these "Green" and safe methods in the near future and when necessary!
Happy Gardening Everyone!

 And in regards to the Case of the Cabbage Eater -- to be continued!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Good Things are Happenin'!

Look for some new blog posts, updates and a few adjustments in the near future!!

Thank You for your Patience!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Library Time!!

Ahh.... the feeling of being surrounded by rows and rows of books. Finding that book or two that will lead to the next big adventure, Curling up in a chair in a quiet corner of the library to get a glimpse at what the story is about because you can't wait to take it home to start reading it. Getting your own library card so you can borrow some of these wonderful books. Reading the first chapter during the car ride home. These are a few of my favorite childhood memories......that I now get to start with my son!!

As you can tell, I LOVE books and reading and anything to do with both! My favorite thing to do when I was growing up is go to the library every 2 weeks -- or every week if I finished my book(s) early -- with my dad. I would read every chance I could; reading even if it was just a 5 minute car ride to the store. My mom would always tell me that I would never know how to get anywhere when I was old enough to drive because I always had my nose stuck in a book. Haha!

So, the other day when my library book was due, I decided to enjoy the sunny weather and take a walk with my son to the library -- and document his first trip going there!  \

Outside our local library is a "statue" of a girl and boy sitting on a bench, sharing a book. My son saw this and found it very fascinating. I told him that the girl and boy were reading a book and we were going to go in the library to get a book so we can read like they were. He said, "Ok!" Then we headed inside the library.

I took him straight to the children's section. Our local library doesn't have nearly as many children's and youth's books as my hometown library, but I could tell by the look on my son's face that he was still excited! He of course had to begin by exploring the room, so I let him check things out. He began by walking past all of the shelves of books. Then he saw the "reading rug" on which were scattered a few stuffed animals ("friends" the children can sit and read their stories to in order to help with their reading skills). Clifford was his furry friend of choice!

Next, it was time to pick out a book. I showed him a few he might like: a Clifford book, a Toy Story book, and a few others -- all of which he turned down. Then I spotted it, a book I thought very appropriate for his first trip to the library: Maisy Goes to the Library by: Lucy Cousins.  He didn't seemed too excited about it, but was willing to take it to the desk so we could get it checked out.

I think the "Check Out" process was his favorite part. I let him give the lady at the desk my library card. He intently watched her scan it and then stamp the book with the due date. He was excited to get "his" library book back when she was done. He could tell something important was going on. He said a cheerful "Thank you" to the lady at the desk and excitedly carried his library book to the car.

As soon as I strapped him in to his car seat, he asked to look at his library book. Like his Momma, he couldn't wait to get home to "read" it. I asked him if he had fun at the library and if he liked it. His response was "Library! Yeah!! I read a book! Haha!"  I think he had a great first trip!

...And he's been reading his library book every day since. I'm not sure who will be more excited to go back, my son or his Momma! Hehe!

Have you visited your local library today?

Monday, April 26, 2010

~* Recipe of the Week *~

~* Quick and Easy Homemade Pizza *~

My family just LOVES pizza! It's easy to order, cook, heat up, or make yourself. Plust the variety and amount of toppings you can put on a pizza are so numerous that you can cator it to whatever everyone's hungry for!

Last night, my husband and I decided to make our own pizza. Ok, so we didn't make our dough and sauce from scratch ... we did it the quick and easy way, and it was just as good if not better than the frozen pizzas! Here's what we did:

Prep Time: 10 minutes   Cook Time: 15 minutes 

Ingredients: (Note: you can use any kind of ingredients you prefer, this is just what we used this time)
1.) 1 packet of ready to make pizza dough mix (dry mix or pizza dough found in dairy section)
2.) pizza sauce
3.) mozarella cheese, parmasean cheese
4.) turkey pepperoni 

Preparation and Cooking:
1.) Preheat Oven 450 degrees (or as directed by pizza dough packaging)
2.) Lightly coat 12 inch pizza pan with cooking spray (or olive oil)
3.) Follow directions on pizza dough packaging, then spread dough out to cover pan
4.) Spread pizza sauce over pizza dough on pan, leaving about a half inch border of dough around outside of pizza for the crust
5.) Add toppings of your choice. We added parmasean cheese, mozarella cheese, and turkey pepperoni.

6.) Let bake in oven for 12-17 minutes, until crust is to desired "crispyness".
7.) Let cook, cut pizza into slices, and serve!

And there you have it, delicious homemade pizza the quick and easy way!!

(I know we did!)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

*Scripture Spark* ~ Post #3

~* Scripture Spark *~

Verse of the Day: Mark 1:17

"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." (NIV)

Taken from a 2 Week reading track on the Life and Teachings of Jesus (NIV)
Day 1: Luke 1 -- Preparing for Jesus' Arrival (Scrpt. Spark Post #1)

Day 2: Luke 2 -- The story of Jesus' Birth (Scpt. Spark Post #2)

Day 3: Mark 1 -- The Beginning of Jesus' Ministry

(The New Student Bible, New International Version. Copyright 1992 by Zondervan Publishing House)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pamper Me Gift Basket Giveaway!!

The Christian Moms Business Resource Blog is featuring my at-home business on their Friday Favorites Giveaway Post Today!! I'm so excited!!

I'm giving away a FREE Pamper Me Gift Basket!! Check out today's Friday Favorites Giveaway post for details on how to enter. Plus, there's ways to submit extra entries too! Not to mention, you get a chance to learn a little more about me and my at-home business!  To check it out, just click on the link below!!

Thank You Christian Moms Business Resource for featuring me and my business!! Blessings!

Garden Gumption - Post #4

~* Garden Gumption *~
(Post #4)

Celebrating Earth Day!!

So, I realize my post is the day AFTER Earth Day, but I look at it this way.... why not do something for our Earth everyday?  Here are a few simple things that my family does, that you can do too!

1.) Reduce:  Reduce the amount of extra packaging on items you buy -- this creates less garbage and less waste!  It can be something as easy as using the cloth shopping bags for your grocery shopping instead of the plastic ones given at the store. Or how about buying items that come in less packaging.

2.) Reuse: This reminds me of the saying: "One man's trash becomes another man's treasure." Last year my friend and I hit up alot of the yard sales in our area. You'd be surprised what kind of stuff you can find and reuse for something else. It can be something as simple as making a centerpiece using old tea cups (see my Tea Cup Candelabra on the Homemaking Cottage Volunteer's Blog!) husband and I bought an electric lawnmower for $5.00 at a house sale. Great find for us! And it works great! Saved us TONS of money and in turn we didn't have to buy a new one. Better than having it added to the garbage pile!

3.) Recycle: There are many grocery stores and supermarkets that have bins where you drop off your plastic grocery bags to be recycled. Also, don't forget to recycle all of those aluminum soda cans! My son helped me crush 2 large garbage bag's worth of aluminum cans last week. My husband will be taking them to a place in town where he will get money for the aluminum. It might not be a fortune, but look at the "pennies" you would be throwing away if you just tossed your soda can into the garbage!

4.) Garden: This can be beneficial in so many ways! You can start a compost using certain items from your kitchen scraps, and then use your compost to help "feed" your garden. By growing your own vegetables, you can in turn cut back on the amount of packaged vegetables you buy in the grocery store. If you are unable to have your own vegetable garden, try visiting your local farmers market.

5.) Clotheslines:  Since the weather is warmer and sunnier now, I use my clothesline to dry my laundry instead of using the clothes dryer. I love that fresh air smell my clothes get after being out on the line all day. Plus, I'm  using less electicity!! I find it funny that my husband is learning that I only do laundry on nice days!

So, that's a few things to think about. If you have any tips of your own, or have any comments you would like to share, just leave a comment below!! We love to hear what our readers have to say!! Plus, we can learn a few things from each other!! Also, if you did something in celebration of Earth Day, feel free to share with us!


Oh, and for those of you wondering -- my lettuce, cabbage, peas, and zucchinni are starting to grow nicely in my garden.
And I'm starting my own indoor herb kit!! (Thank you to my friend, Kelly, for the inspiration!)

Monday, April 19, 2010

*Scripture Spark* ~ Post #2

~* Scripture Spark *~

Verse of the day: Luke 2: 10-11

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." (NIV)

Taken from a 2 Week reading track on the Life and Teachings of Jesus

Day 1: Luke 1 -- Preparing for Jesus' Arrival (Scrpt. Spark Post #1)
Day 2: Luke 2 -- The story of Jesus' Birth

(The New Student Bible, New International Version. Copyright 1992 by Zondervan Publishing House)

~* Garden Gumption *~ Post #3

~* Garden Gumption *~
(Post #3)
'Tis the Season for Spring! -- Or Is It?!

Every morning my son and I (and my husband when he is not working) enjoy eating our breakfast at the kitchen table so we can enjoy the view of the river (or lack there of now that the leaves on the trees are coming out), the warmth of the sunshine, and the sound of the birds chirping. Ahh, yes! The simple joys of Spring!!

But wait a minute.....Is it REALLY Spring??

To be honest, I haven't been quite sure! The calendar says it's Spring. The perennials in my backyard and along side my house give me the idea that Spring is here! But then, why am I forced to have my son wear sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and a winter jacket when he wants to play outside one day so he doesn't FREEZE, and then have him wear just a pair of shorts and a T-shirt the next day so that he doesn't SWEAT?  Have any of you been experiencing this same issue?  And the sad part is, I'm not exagerrating (Believe me, I wish I was!)  The other week, the temperatures literally went as follows: 91, 50, snow over night, 42, 66, 76. (Lucky for me my lettuce, tomato and cabbage plants that I had transplanted from my indoor garden to my outdoor garden all survived!!)

So, I'd like to ask.....what's a girl to do when the weather keeps fluctuating and she's trying to get all of her yard cleaned up, her vegetable and flower gardens in shape?  Here's a few things I came up with:

1.) PLASTIC!! -- On those chilly nights (and especially that night where we had a 1/2 inch of snow! Thank goodness it melted before morning was through that day!) I covered my plants with plastic, or to be more specific,  the plastic lids that came with my indoor garden planters. My husband suggested that since the garden area we created is more like a "box" dug out of the bank, he could've bought some cheap rolls of plastic and tacked it down so that it laid over the top of the garden, creating one big cover. (You can see a picture of our main vegetable garden area in Garden Gumption Post #2.)  I've also read about creating plastic "lids" or boxes to put over your plants on cooler evengings so that the heat from the day can keep the plants warm. There's an example in Mel Bartholomew's book about square foot gardening (Check out the link for his book that I have posted in Garden Gumption Post #1. I found a copy at my local library.)  So yes, PLASTIC, can be very useful to us amatuer gardeners!

2.) DRESS in LAYERS!! -- On some days, and today would be a good example of this, it feels as though it might start snowing at any minute. Ok, so that's actually an exaggeration for today's weather, but I did feel like we traveled back in time to February again!  So....oh yeah, dressing in layers! On the days where the weather starts out cold, warms up in the middle and then gets cold in the evenings (typical Spring/Fall kind of weather), I dress my toddler and myself in layers. This eliminates the hassle of having the two of us trecking in and out of the house throughout the course of the day to change into various outfits in order to accommodate whatever temperature Mother Nature decides to throw at us. ESPECIALLY if you are trying to accomplish things outside and a trip into the house to change clothes opens up a whole new can of worms with the 2-year-old boy not wanting to go in, and then once in, not wanting to go back out. Make it easier on yourself! It's better to pause in your outdoor work or play time to take off a jacket or a sweatshirt and have a T-shirt underneath rather than to go through the ordeal just mentioned. (I do this NOW and it's sooooo much easier for all involved!)

And last but not least,

3.) WATER! -- For you and your plants.
For You:  When working or playing outside and enjoying the fresh air and sunlight, make sure you at least take a bottle of water out with you. It may not be 90 degrees outside, but you'd be surprised how much water you (and the kiddos if they're playing or helping you) need to replenish. Take a break now and then to take a gulp or two. It will also help you keep refreshed and ready to do more!
For your Plants: I try to water my plants 2 times a day -- depending on the weather of course! If it rains that morning, and the grown is still soggy or pretty moist by the day's end, I'm probably not going to water my veggies or perrenials. If the weather is going to be rather cold in the evening, I'll give my plants a "drink", but am careful not to give them too much. That way if it gets cold enough for the water to freeze a bit, I don't have water freezing to my plant roots or the tender leaves and buds.  If the day's temperature creeps up to the much warmer weather (especially since my garden is located in a very sunny location), I spray my plants with the garden hose early in the morning and then again in the evening befoe the sun goes down. Note: Try to avoid getting the plants/leaves wet! They could burn up in the sun!  You'd be surprised how much this little watering schedule will help your plants grow!!

So, there you have it. Even though Mother Nature might try to tease us a bit with her fluctuating temperatures and weather conditions, we can all manage to enjoy Spring without too much hassle!!  I know I am!!

Well, I better get back outside! My father-in-law gave us some hostas plants to add to our backyard area, and I need to get started on that project before it gets too late in the day! Feel free to leave a comment about your own gardens or gardening ideas! I would love to hear from you!

~*Happy Gardening!!*~

Monday, April 12, 2010

~* Recipe of the Week *~

~* Oyster Stew with Noodles *~

Need a quick meal that's cheap and easy to make? Try this little rendition of oyster stew and noodles that I sometimes cook up!

Servings: 2-4 (depending on amount of noodles made)
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

~1 can of Campbell's condensed Oyster Stew

~Milk or water (depending on directions given on soup can)

~1/2 box of thin spaghetti noodles (or noodles of your choice)

~Optional Seasonings: Salt, Lemon pepper, Minced garlic, Minced onion

Preparation and Cooking:

1.) Cook noodles in a pot of boiling water until they are tender. Put noodles in a collander to drain.

2.) While noodles are cooking, prepare and cook the oyster stew, following the directions given on the can.

3.) When oyster stew is finished cooking, keep on low heat and add the noodles.

4.) Stir soup and noodles until they are mixed together well.
-- I like having more stew than noodles so that it can be served in a soup bowl.

5.) If you do not want to serve it as a "stew" or "soup", then instead of adding the noodles into the oyster stew, put some on a plate and pour the stew over top of the noodles.

6.) Add minced garlic, minced onion, salt, and lemon pepper to taste if desired.

**Goes great with garlic bread!**

And there you have it, a quick and easy yet tastefully satisfying meal that your whole family can enjoy for under $5.00!! If you try this recipe, we'd love to hear from you, just comment below! My toddler loves it!  Enjoy!!

*Please note: I was not in any way asked, influenced, or paid by Campbell's Soup Company or any other third party company to use their product. This recipe is just something that I have put together myself, using this particular product.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

*Scripture Spark* ~ Post #1

~* Scripture Spark *~

Verse of the day: Luke 1:30-33

But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." (NIV)  

Taken from a 2 Week reading track on the Life and Teachings of Jesus
Day 1: Luke 1 -- Preparing for Jesus' Arrival

(The New Student Bible, New International Version. Copyright 1992 by Zondervan Publishing House)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Garden Gumption ~ Post #2

~* Garden Gumption *~
(Post #2)
There's Some Growing Going On!!

So, it's been a few weeks since I started planting my seeds in my indoor garden "green houses". My lettuce really took off, along with some pea plants, cabbage, beaf steak tomato plants, and  corn. After verifying that the weather would be staying above 50 degrees for a while, there was only one thing left to do:
finishing the outside garden area and prepping it so that some of the plants could be transplanted!! Very exciting!

Our garden area is in a nice sunny spot for most of the day. I attacked the soil with our garden claw and let it "air out" for a day. Then, I added a layer of some Miracle Grow garden soil mix. Even though our soil is made mostly of clay and has some ashes mixed in with it (we found a huge section of our yard to be made of packed down ashes dumped there by the previous owners in an attempt to be rid of their coal stove ashes), I wanted to add the Miracle Grow garden soil mix in order to provide more nutrients for our plants. Using a dirt rake and my garden claw again, I mixed the Miracle Grow mix with the already existing soil. After all of the mixing was complete, then came the water!! I broke out our garden hose and sprayed the water onto our nutrient-filled soil.  

The next day, meant time to plant!! I selected some of the stronger looking lettuce, pea, and tomato plants to be transplanted into the outdoor garden. I made sure to put each group of plants into a square foot section, placing each plant a few inches away from it's neighbor in every direction. The lettuce and pea plants could be planted a little closer together. The tomato plants, since they will grow to be rather large in comparison to the others, were planted one in every six inch space. By keeping the plants spaced out and in square foot sections, I am able to leave enough space  between plants so that their roots have plenty of room to grow, AND I can make the most of my garden space! After all of my 2-inch sprouts were planted, I again sprayed the garden with water so that the roots could get a good "drink"!

So that's basically where my garden is at right now. Every morning and every evening I spray some water on my little vegetable plants, unless of course it rains or the soil doesn't need it -- don't want to drown them!!

While we wait for my little seeds and sprouts to grow, my husband and I are tackling another section of our yard and making it into another "garden area". Once we get rid of an old, decaying tree stump that is blocking our progress, we will create another "garden box" similar to the one we already have so that it can house some potato, garlic, and onion plants. I'm excited for our potential harvest this year!! I'll have more updates on that section at a later date.

Well, there you have it -- that's how my gardening has been going over the past few weeks!  Look for an update next Friday, along with some more gardening tips and ideas!  Happy Gardening!!


(In the picture to the right, note: at the bottom of the stairs and to the right you can see the lstained andscaping timbers. Within this area you will find my main garden area where most of my plants are growing. The mound of dirt along the other side of the sidewalk houses the horribly large and rotted old tree stump that my husband is determined to get rid of!  The other 2 lonely landscaping timbers at the back of the yard is where our 2nd garden area will be located. Look for more pictures in upcoming posts!!)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

~* Recipe of the Week *~

~* Homemade Pierogies *~

This is truly one of those recipes "made from scratch", passed down to me from my grandmother, and from her mother before her, and so on. This delicious recipe makes about 11 pierogies with a potato, cheese and onion filling.  Make sure to read the entire recipe before you get started that way you can manage your cooking tasks efficiently and effectively! (My grandmother wrote the recipe herself -- it's one of those recipes that were passed down to her and learned by watching and doing, it wasn't written down.) I always admired my grandmother for how she could have countless pots and pans cooking at once while prepping other parts of the recipe. I think it's an art that's slowly being lost in our fast-paced world. So, tie on an apron, and as you make this delicious homemade pierogi recipe "the way Grandma used to", take the time to remember some of the "traditional" and "old-fashioned" things your mom or grandmother used to do. Enjoy!

Part 1: Dough
1 cup flour
1 egg
4 tbsp margarine
1/4 tsp salt

1.) Put egg in a liquid measuring cup and add water to make it a little over 1/4 of a cup. Beat with a whisk.
2.) In a mixing bowl, add salt to flour, "cut in" margarine and work it with fingers to look like cornmeal.
3.) Add egg mixture, mix together. Add a little more flour if needed and, using fingers, make it into dough.
4.) Let dough rest for 5 minutes. Then knead it with hands until it's smooth and elastic.
5.) Roll out dough.
6.) Cut out circles. (She uses a 1 lb. empty coffee can.)
7.) Roll out circles to make bigger and fill with filling in center of dough. Wet edges of dough, then fold in half and press close (makes a half circle shape). Take fork dipped in flour and press fork all around edge of peirogi to make a better seal.

Part 2: Potato, Onion and Cheese Filling
2-3 slices each of Cooper, Sharp and American Cheese
4 potatoes, or as much as you'd like depending on how much filling you'd like to have
Pinch of salt
1 small onion
1 stick of margarine or butter
Pinch of white pepper

1.) Cut potatoes in quarters.
2.) Cook in a pot of water until done, with a little salt.
3.) Mash potatoes when done. Then put in a few slices of the cheeses over top of potatoes.
4.) Put lid back on pot and let cheese melt a little.
5.) Mash again with a small chopped onion that has been sauteed in margarine or butter.
6.) Mash smooth. Add a little white pepper to it for added flavor.

*You can also use instant potatoes. Make potatoes as directed on box. Put diced dried onions from jar (ex. McCormick Minced Onions) in the milk and water mixture. Put potatoes in as directed. After the 5 minutes, add cheese to it. Put lid on an dlet melt and then mix altogether. Add a little white pepper.

Part 3: Cooking the Pierogies

1.) Have a roasting pan on stove filled with water. Sprinkle salt in water and a little olive oil in it.
2.) Bring to boil, then put about 11-12 pierogies in.
3.) When it boils again, turn down heat to a slow rolling boil.
4.) Cook about 15 minutes on low boil.
5.) Keep turning the pierogies over with a wooden spoon.
6.) When pierogies are done, put in a colander. Run cold water over them slowly and hard. Let drain, then put on a cookie sheet.
7.) Pour melted butter over top. Let cool.
8.) Then pan fry the pierogies in butter and onions if desired.

And there you have it. A delicious, old-fashioned pierogi recipe "the way Grandma used to make it". I know I enjoy teaching my son how to make them so that our family recipe may be passed on to another generation and hopefully many more to come! Enjoy this wonderful Polish recipe!!

~*It's the Simple Things...*~

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