Saturday, June 30, 2012

Blog Post Roundup (6/30/12)

Here are a few posts I thought y'all might like to read.

Fill Their Cups @ I Can Teach My Child

What I Would Say to Me! @ The Better Mom

Stop the Drip @ The Better Mom

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Kitchen Renovation, Part 1

When Gracie and I returned home from our trip to California a month ago, this is what I found:

Yep, a construction danger zone with everything that used to be in my pantry piled up on my dining room table.  You can't even see my computer in the corner!  To be fair, Robert warned me that the house was a mess.  Also to be fair, he cleared most all of the stuff off in pretty short order.

As a point of reference, here is a picture from last year:

The main changes were switching the fridge and pantry and opening up the counter that divides the kitchen and the dining room.

Here are a couple more pictures of how it looked that day:

Robert added that box to the top of the counter thinking it would add more storage.  The only downside is that it gives it a less open feel.  Robert's idea is (was? not sure if he still wants to) to built a second box next to the wall and putting a fish aquarium in the middle.  He has wanted an aquarium for at least as long as we've been married, but we've not had the room for it.

This is the pantry that was pulled out of its other location, cut down to not be so deep (It was so deep that things would get shoved to the back and never found until I reorganized everything.).  Robert also lowered the microwave shelf.  Before it was too high for me to feel safe or to want to clean it out often.

Here is the box looking from the kitchen.  Robert rerouted some wiring and added the plug in.  It will eventually have a plate and will look a lot better.

Next Stage of Renovation:

Robert continued working on it and this is what it looked like at the next stage:

 More shelves and some of the bottom is closed in.  He also added a beautiful tile picture of a pheasant.  He has had it since before we were married, intending to put it somewhere in the house.  It makes for a unique addition.

 More junk on the counter and the stove.

This is the gap between the fridge and the drawers under the counter.  I forgot to mention that in order to make the fridge fit, Robert had to remove part of the countertop, the trash can drawer, and the round cubbies that used to hold my rolling pin, saran wrap, and tin foil.  The gap turned out to be a good thing, because my stepstool fits in there perfectly!  Before, I kept it in my bedroom (so that I could reach the top shelf of my closet), but this is ever so much better!  I also like that it's not so obvious to Gracie that it's there.  She has not tried to remove it.

Here is my mostly-redone pantry.  It has been painted, the microwave has been lowered, rolling wire shelves have been added, and there is a new home for the trash can drawer.  Eventually, Robert will add an adjustable shelf above the microwave so that I can have a place to put my saran wrap, tin foil, and wax paper (etc.).  I asked for it to be adjustable (up and down) for whenever we need to get a new microwave, so that we can make the shelf fit right over it no matter what size the microwave is.  I also want another shelf or something over the trash can drawer.

Current Stage of Renovation:

Robert added facings to the shelves and put on an initial coat of white paint.  The water cooler will eventually be moved to the opposite corner of the room diagonally, basically behind where I'm standing to take this picture.

 You can see the new arrangement.  Eventually, we'll fix up that area above the fridge so that it doesn't look too different from the shelf above the cabinets.

Another view.  We added a fifth rolling wire basket.  I've organized most of them (that's for another post).  I don't like having all the junk on top of the appliances and pantry, but I don't have any other places for them at the moment.

The counters are mostly clear.  The little cubby to the left of the plugin holds my straw container and my Chlorox wipes.  The larger cubby will continue to hold the knife set, but I will undoubtedly move that little crockpot to another location.  Eventually all that stuff piled on top will be gone, and I will only have an iPod boombox (or whatever you call it, I know that's the 80's term!) on top and maybe a knickknack or candle.

I had hoped that Robert would get to work on the kitchen some more today (6/16/12), but he had another project that needed tending to immediately.  We have a sinkhole in the back corner of our backyard.  It erodes away as it rains, and Robert has put untold amounts of dirt and concrete to fill it up.  Part of the problem is that we can't grow grass in the backyard because of the dogs.  They are so active that they prevent grass from growing and taking root.  He's working on a plan to prevent it from happening if not slow it way down.  Anyway, when he was cutting the yard, he misjudged his distance and backed up into the hole, falling in and landing in the hole which was as high as his waist!  So, he had to get that filled in today.

Once the new counter is all fixed up (Robert wants to add {plexi-}glass doors to the fronts of the shelves) and everything else in the kitchen is done, the next phase is to convert the utility closet into a pantry/storage area.  Most of my nonperishable food items are currently sitting in the garage.  They WERE on the dining room table, but I had enough of that and moved them.  I also have several other boxes of kitchen stuff that are in the garage loft and stuff in the shed out back.  I would like to have easy access to all of it which is why we need the extra storage space.

The utility closet is located on the other side of the dining room wall and is only accessible from the garage.  It's a rather narrow room, about 32", so it presents a little bit of a layout challenge, but I believe I have figured out how to maximize the space.  I'm very excited about that particular project.  Hopefully, it won't be too long before I can share more updates with you.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Found in the Dryer

I found this lovely surprise in the dryer after drying my husband's work clothes last week.  After a minute or two of pondering and investigating, I determined it was a crayon!  I posted the picture on Facebook and a friend of mine posted this link for getting crayons out of clothes.  Fortunately, the only clothes that were affected were my husband's clothes that he does dirty work in (yardwork, construction, etc.).

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Blog Post Roundup (6/23/12)

Blog Post Roundup

Here are a few posts I thought y'all might like to read.

Are You an Encouragement or a Discouragement? @ Frog's Lilypad

How to Encourage a Friend @ Living Life with the Loves

Friends @ Valerie Write Now

101 Blogging Ideas @ Apple Blue (You may see some of these from me from time to time!)

What Infertility Has Taught Me about Motherhood @ Joyful Mothering  (This post is not what you would expect from the title!)

8 Reasons Not to Leave @ Encouraging Words by Cary Schmidt

For Bloggers:  Why & How to Correctly Make Your Recipe Printable @ Confessions of an Overworked Mom  [Note: I do not follow this blog, so I don't know anything about her other posts.]

Summer Reading Tips @ A Good Book is a Good Friend (If you love to read and want to find out about good books for your children, read this blog!  She has also posted several reading lists for children.)
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Friday, June 22, 2012

The bubbles game from Pinterest!

I set up a quick "game" for Gracie:  dropping vinegar into a pan of baking soda.  She can't do a medicine dropper really well just yet, so I got a formula scoop.  I forgot about tinting the vinegar with food coloring, but she is still having fun with it!

And how do you like the toddler outfit she picked out?  Ha - I should start a series on What the Toddler Wore Wednesday!  (You won't catch me posting pics of me and my outfits, so why not the toddler?)


Source: via Ava on Pinterest
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Monday, June 18, 2012

Chicken and Rice Bake, revisited

The original recipe that my SIL gave me.

About six months ago, I blogged about this Chicken & Rice Bake recipe that's been a favorite for years.  I made it again yesterday, made just a couple of changes, and Robert declared it "perfect"!

You can read the original recipe and previous subsequent changes from the link above.

Here is my current "Perfect" version:

1 can condensed cream of broccoli soup
1 tub of Knorr's Homestyle Stock, chicken flavor (found in soup aisle, contains four little tubs)
4-1/4 cups water
1 cup brown rice
1/2 cup white rice
Heaping cupful of french fried onions + more to sprinkle in last step

3 chicken breasts (can use more if you like, this is a good number for our family)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a 9x13 pan, mix together the first seven ingredients.
  3. Place chicken breasts on top.
  4. Sprinkle paprika and pepper on top of chicken (ok to overlap into rice mixture)
  5. Bake for one hour.
  6. Sprinkle as many fried onions as you like over the entire dish.  Bake for 3-5 minutes more or until onions are golden brown.
 This makes enough for my husband and me plus enough for his lunch and a snack-sized portion.  Gracie was asleep when we had supper and she has not really expressed interest in this meal before.  One day she will be a convert!

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Blog Post Roundup (6/16/12)

Here are a few posts I thought y'all might like to read.

First Things First @ Valerie Write Now (part of her Ministry Musings series but applicable to all Christian ladies)

Let's Start at the Very Beginning @ Valerie Write Now (1st installment of her Ministry Musings series)

If you have a blog, read this: Facebook Changes and a Request @ I Can Teach My Child

Ways to Saturate Your Children with the Proverbs @ Doorposts of Your House

Pastry in Motion @ Cake Wrecks -- Watch the two videos.  You will not believe what you see!

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Cream of Something Mix

I have referred to this recipe in at least one other post in the past, but thought I would put it in a separate post to make it easy to find.


1 cup non-fat dried milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup bouillon*
4 Tablespoons freeze dried minced onions
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon pepper
For the equivalent of one can of condensed cream soup, mix 1/3 cup dry mix with 1-1/4 cup water. Cook until thick.
*I couldn't find bouillon in the soup aisle of Walmart.  However, I looked in the Latino section and found some there.  This worked out better because it's a larger bottle of powdered bouillon instead of the cubes which would have to be crushed and ground up.  I used the chicken flavor since I've never heard of anybody needing "cream of beef soup."

 I like to use this for my Chicken and Rice Bake.  I will be posting a newly-revised version of that recipe next week.  Stay tuned!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

40 Things about Me

  1. My identical twin sister and I were born 3 months prematurely.  She went to Heaven when we were four days old.
  2. I was named after my Grandma Wilna Pauline (Lee) Bounds and her sister, my great aunt Ava (Lee) Reid, who took her out of the orphanage. My sister was named for our great grandmother Ida Isabelle (Anderson) Bounds and my daddy Claude Winston Gunn.  I am Ava Pauline and she is Ida Claudine.
  3. I was a combination of tomboy and Miss Priss as a little girl.  My mom likes to tell about how I carried a toy snake in my purse while dressed in my Easter best when I was 6 years old.
  4. I like to eat my fries with mayonnaise.  I learned this on a trip to Germany when I was 20.
  5. I do not like to eat tomatoes (nor do I like the smell of tomato plants), but I love most tomato products such as pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, and salsa.
  6. I went to a secular private school for junior high.  Since the 7th and 8th graders took all the same classes (and I did well in them), my dad had them let me skip 8th grade.
  7. Because of #5, the class with whom I graduated (Class of 1989) was not the same class with whom I started school (Class of 1990).
  8. I have not lived in any one residence for longer than 5 years, 9 months.  If we live here past August 2013, it will set a new record for me.
  9. My first car was a blue four-door 1983 Chevy Chevette.  I sold it for $200 after buying a Mercury Sable (can't remember the year of the car, but it was used as well).
  10. While attending the University of Southern Mississippi, I worked for a husband-wife professor team in the chemistry department for nearly 5 years.  I helped them develop high school science experiments and was their "girl Friday" for whatever else they needed.
  11. That job influenced me to major in Science Education with an emphasis in chemistry, physics, and general science.
  12. I wound up teaching science as well as 8th grade computer discovery for seven years at Coldwater High School.  Then I taught 2nd-12th grade (all subjects except high school Bible) at Calvary Baptist School in Coldwater.
  13. Every good job I've ever had has required typing.  It is probably the most useful skill I have learned.
  14. I worked as a telemarketer while attending Hyles-Anderson College.  Although I didn't enjoy the job, it was very beneficial for me as it required me to step outside my comfort zone and learn how to talk to and persuade people effectively.
  15. I do not like thunderstorms (it is storming now).
  16. My favorite drink has always been Coca-Cola even though I don't drink it anymore since I've been off caffeine for almost 5 years.
  17. Since I've been off caffeine, whenever I do have it, it makes me very sleepy for at least one day, sometimes three.
  18. My favorite colors are blue and green and sometimes red and orange. I do not care for yellow or purple most of the time (even though I get complimented when I wear purple).
  19. I taught myself how to read at age five because my mom read to me every day.
  20. I still love to read.  Growing up, I would get ten (exactly ten) books from the library every Saturday and would have about half of them read over the weekend.
  21. My favorite childhood author is Laura Ingalls Wilder. I've been to all of the Laura homesites in the Midwest. I would love to visit the Farmer Boy site in New York.
  22. I am somewhat jealous of a friend of mine who got to catch another friend's baby because there were no doctors or nurses in the room. I've always wanted to deliver a baby!
  23. I have lived in the South, the West, and the Midwest. I have been to about 27 states.
  24. When going to a new restaurant, if New England Clam Chowder is on the menu, I usually will get it. So far, the best clam chowders come from Red Robin, Ruby's Diner (in LAX airport), and O'Charley's.
  25. I met my husband in North Mississippi where we were also married, but we had a long distance courtship in the year between. I lived in Northwest Indiana (actually Calumet City IL but I worked, shopped, and went to church in Indiana) and Robert lived in Memphis.
  26. I am a night owl, and I'm definitely NOT a morning person at all.  I prefer to be left alone in the morning until I'm fully awake.  The only exception is when I'm going on a trip.  I can wake up bright and bushy-tailed and ready to go on those days.
  27. It's really hard to come up with 40 things about myself!
  28. When I was learning to walk, I tripped and fell on the linoleum floor and bit my tongue, splitting it in half lengthwise.  My mom says if I hadn't had it stitched up, I would've had a forked tongue like a snake.  Nice visual, huh?  They had to run me to the hospital which was 35 minutes away.  Can you imagine holding your screaming, bleeding {fork-tongued} baby for that long?
  29. My grandma taught me how to crochet when I was 7 years old.  I don't do it much, but I enjoy making blankets for little ones and especially mini-blankets for babies to hold.
  30. I grew up watching my mom give piano lessons to other children (but never took formal lessons until I was grown) and learned how to play {my brother's old} saxophone in grade school.  I love music, but I never did like practicing, so I never progressed very far.  Now, I don't even have a piano (and no room for one), and probably wouldn't have time to practice, anyway.  I do plan on having Gracie learn the violin in a couple of years and the piano as well.
  31. I have a paralyzed vocal cord that acts up every so often.  It just came upon me all of a sudden several years ago.  After much probing from doctors, they couldn't find a reason for it, but it was most likely caused by a virus settling in the nerve that goes to that vocal cord.  As a result, it can be difficult to sing -- not that anybody wants to hear me sing, anyway!
  32. My favorite childhood Christmas was when I was eight years old.  "Santa Claus" brought me a beautiful life-sized doll cradle (which I still have), a table and chairs set, quilt and pillow for the cradle, and red gingham tablecloth for the table -- all handmade by my parents.  I also got a new baby doll.  Incidentally, this was the last Christmas I believed in Santa Claus.  I was not traumatized -- not even really all that surprised even, but I've decided to teach my daughter that it's a fun game we play (same with Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy).
  33. I was saved at age 11 after hearing and understanding the Gospel at a summer day camp.  I didn't get baptized until I was 18.
  34. My favorite animals are horses and dogs.  We had both when I was growing up.
  35. My mom used to stay in the house when I would ride horses (with my dad) because she couldn't bear to watch me do my stunts.  I was quite the daredevil, standing up in the saddle and doing other such things.  I was too young to realize I could fall and I guess I kept my guardian angel busy in those days!
  36. When I was in 6th grade, my class went to Rawhide Ranch for a week where we learned some horseriding stunts and how to show animals.  I had an almost unfair advantage over most of the kids (city kids in California) since I had been around horses and animals for years before that.  Anyway, I won the first place trophy for showing a horse.
  37. I love fruit, almost any kind, but am not a big fan of most veggies.  I also don't do mushrooms.  I used to tolerate things cooked with cream of mushroom soup, but not so much anymore.
  38. I have always loved playing in the water.  My mom took me to swimming lessons at Paul B. Johnson State Park when I was 7.  I can float and can move in the water, but I wouldn't be able to save anybody else (except my daughter) if they were drowning.
  39. Summer is my favorite season for doing things, but as I get older, Spring becomes more of my favorite because I can see the regeneration of the earth as trees and flowers bloom.
  40. Growing up, I had different things I wanted to be when I grew up including teacher, wife and mom, truckdriver (my daddy was a truckdriver), and motorcycle cop (I enjoyed watching CHiPs on TV).  I became a teacher and I became a wife and mother which are the best choices out of all of them.
You may be wondering why I picked 40 (instead of 10 or 25) things about me.  It's because today is my 40th birthday!  I can't believe I'm 40.  I feel like I should still be in my early 30's (especially with a toddler).  People tell me I look like I'm 30, so that's a good thing.  I have ALWAYS looked younger than I am.  In fact, my first day teaching at Coldwater High School, one of the other teachers told me she almost told me to get out of the hall and back to class!  LOL!

I am thankful for the life God has given me.  I look forward to living 40+ more years for Him.

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