Thursday, November 20, 2014

Kitchen Remodel: Tearing out the Old

So I have been wanting to redo my kitchen for a long time.  Last year I started planning it and even bought my pot rack that  I love.  Then figured out that financially it wouldn't work and the pot rack got put in the garage.  But my friend, Pinterest, wouldn't let me forget my dreams and hopes for my kitchen.  The two things that I wanted to change the most were the white, tile countertops (where I could never get the grout clean. . . ever)  and the yucky looking cupboards.  But as I thought about it more, I came up with a plan.  I knew that I wanted open space where I could cook with my family.   So I am going for it!!!

The Changes that I am inspired to do:
Remove the florescent light that I hate in the middle of the kitchen.
Remove the upper cabinets above the stove.
Replace the cabinets with a pot rack and lights.
Move the cabinets to under the breakfast bar.
Lower the breakfast bar to make a large flat counter.
Replace the countertop with butcher block counters.
Paint all the maple cabinets white.
Add open shelves to the wall where we removed the cupboard.
Take out one set of cupboards (by the fridge) and replace with a panty.
We still have to figure out a backsplash. . . 
since I didn't realize that was part of this whole process.

Here are the before pictures with my sweet puppy.

In one afternoon, I removed all the cabinet doors and sanded them.  My dear friend, Renee, came over to help me with this.  She is awesome!  I couldn't have gotten all of the 28 doors/drawers sanded without her.  My dad, my husband and my brother in law came to demolish every thing I pointed at.  They took down the large section of cabinets separating the kitchen from the dinning room.  Then I asked them to take down the last big cabinet on the wall.  As soon as that was done, I was jumping up and down and giggling.  The room opened up and just looked so amazing.  I loved it!!

Then I started working on the cabinet doors/drawers.  For three days I worked tirelessly on them.  After sanding them with 180 grit and carefully cleaning up the sawdust, I got to work painting.  I painted each side of the door with primer, then two layers of white latex paint and finally with polycrylic sealer.  My arms would be shaking at the end of the day, but they looked so nice when they were finished.  

After days of painting all the doors were put back up and my kitchen started looking much better.  My little girl thought we were just going to leave all the doors off forever.  Nope!  I love the clean and crisp look of the white.

The next step was painting.  I had no idea when I started this project how many things I was going to add to my "To Do List".  I wasn't really planning on painting the ceiling and the walls, but it kinda needed it.  I painted for two days and got it all done.  I had just enough (literally) for the ceiling.  Used every last drop.  The kitchen and dining room did look so much better when I was finished.

My sweet husband hung my pot rack for me.  I have never had one, but I am loving it.  Just adds another dimension to the room.  

Still have more to do, but all this was a simple and inexpensive remake of my kitchen.  The paint for all the cabinets and the walls/ceiling (plus the brushes) were $150.  More to come on the remodel.
Here is the blog that helped me paint my kitchen cabinets.  10-easy-steps-to-paint-kitchen-cabinets

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Changing the World One Family at a Time

Our family decided to really focus on Jesus this year.
  Christmas is all about Jesus, but sometimes we get caught up in the lights and trees and presents for others and lists for ourselves.  Jesus gets placed to the side and we remember Him on Sunday morning for an hour in church.  And then life goes on and it is busy, busy, busy.  
So this year I was challenged to really do something special for Jesus.  Something that would help our family look outside our own little world and give to our Savior this year for Christmas.  
I brought this challenge that had grown in my heart to my family.  The kids embraced the idea whole heartedly.  They wanted to find a gift to give to Jesus.  I suggested that they raise money to buy an animal for a family through a program that World  Vision offers.  I knew that my kids could make a difference, but had no idea what an impact they could have.  My 5 and 7 year old little girls wanted to raise $200 to buy a sheep and a goat.  I tried to talk them out of it.  That was a lot of money for two little ones to raise.  But they were determined and Daddy and I supported them $100.  I wanted them to see what God could do through them when they gave their all to Him. 

So the girls made brownies.  Lot and lots of brownies.  The girls made these treats all by themselves (with lots of supervision) and they loved every minute of it.

Of course they had to taste test the batter.

Measuring out the ingredients.

The girls also made cinnamon ornaments to sell.  Our home smelled like cinnamon for many days.  They had fun mixing up the dough, rolling it out and cutting out the ornaments.

Last week, they raised $200.  I told the girls that we could be done selling things since they made enough for their gift for Jesus.  Hannah looked up at me and asked if they could keep going.  Then they could give Jesus another present for His birthday.  What could I say, but YES!!!  I was so proud of them for working so hard to make a difference.  They ended up raising $240 in just over three weeks.  I was blown away by what two determined little girls ended up doing.  I love that God can take the least of these to make a difference in a few families lives.   Today we were able to buy a goat, a sheep, a family mosquito net, vegetable seeds and medicine for families through World Vision.  Every one that bought a brownie or an ornament, thank-you so much!!!

Here is the mosquito net.

A goat!

Vegetable seeds for a family.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

GF Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie is one of my all time favorite things to eat.  It has a beautiful flaky crust and a creamy delicious chicken fiddle.  It is my all time favorite comfort food.   I found an amazing recipe for this pie a few years ago and made it faithfully for my family. 

 Then I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and my life changed.  I felt like all my favorite food was now poison to me.  It was a sad day for me.  But then I moved on and decided that I will find a way to enjoy all the foods that I did before.  If I can find the recipe, then I can find a way to modify it to taste delicious. I don't hold with all this nasty Gluten Free "food" that is out there.  Most of it is extremely hard to swallow and tastes pretty bad as well as costing a fortune.

So I set out to find a way to make my favorite chicken pot pie.  I use an amazing flour called Maninis Gluten Free.  I threw away my rice flour, potato flour, guar gum, xanthan gum and all the rest of it.  Maninis flour is made from ancient grains and is so similar to wheat flour.  I substitute it cup for cup in all my baking and cooking.  Just about everything turns out amazing and delicious.  So I tried the Pioneer Woman's Perfect Pie Crust with the Maninis GF flour.  It is flaky, golden and about as good as you'll ever get with out wheat in it.
I got my dough mixed up and threw it in the refrigerator  waiting to be rolled out.

Then I tried to make the filling for my pot pie.  This was much harder to do GF.  My original recipe calls for condensed cream of chicken soup.  Well, just about all soup has wheat in it.  All of it.  If you look hard enough, you can find it GF-but it is not the same consistency or taste.  I bought it once and won't ever buy it again.  So I tried making cream of chicken soup from scratch.  It was good, but didn't have the same consistency and was a lot of work (on top of making the whole pie).  I tried different recipes using chicken broth and fresh veggies.  But couldn't find the right taste or consistency for me.  After lots of attempts that were close, I finally came up with a recipe that was simple and tasted great.

 It was a hit with my whole family (except for my littlest one and she doesn't like any food that has vegetables and meat in it-sorry kiddo, this is what we are having).  My sister in law even came down the next night to see if she could have the last piece.  Enjoy this creamy and easy GF Chicken Pot Pie.

Chicken Pot Pie

Makes 2 full pies.
Make Pie Crust: 4- 9 inch rounds  Pioneer Woman's Perfect Pie Crust

Pie Filling:  3 T Butter, 3-4 cups frozen mixed vegetables, 2 1/2 cups sour cream, 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, 1 1/2 cups shredded (or little cut up cubes) sharp cheddar, 2 cups cooked chicken-cut into bite sized pieces, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning.

You can substitute 1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup for the heavy cream.  That’s for those of you that can have wheat.

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Melt butter in sauce pan.  Add the veggies and cook until soft and no longer frozen.
3.  Mix sour cream and heavy cream in a large bowl.
4.Take veggies off heat and add all ingredients.  Mix well.
5.  Spoon into unbaked pie shell.
6.  Cover with top crust and fold top edge under bottom crust.  Flute with fingers or fork.  Cut slits in pie.
7.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown and bubbly. 
8.  After baking, let sit for 5 minutes then serve.

I make 2 pies out of this recipe.  Then I bake one for 20 minutes, cool it, wrap it in saran wrap and tin foil and freeze it for later.  The second I bake for dinner and enjoy it.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Giving to the Least of These

Last night I was reading Ann Voskamps blog post called The Grateful Christmas Project.  Her words and attitude really hit home with me.  As a five year old child, her son had asked what Jesus would get for his birthday.  Why don't they give up things so that they could give to Jesus on his birthday.  That changed Ann's family that Christmas and every Christmas since.  Now they look for ways to give to others in Jesus' name.  To show love to the least of these and bless them, to bless Jesus.

I want to do that with my family.  We have all we ever need.  All we could ever really wish for.  We don't need more things.  Things that make us discontented and just want more.  I want to change my heart this Christmas and find ways to give to those around me.  To give Jesus a gift for His birthday.

So I read through Ann's blog post with my family.  The girls also wanted to find a way to give a gift to Jesus this Christmas.  Right away the girls said that they wanted to raise money to buy an animal for a poor family.  We talked about what that meant.  That mommy and daddy were not just going to buy an animal that they picked out.  I challenged them to pick an animal they wanted to buy and then raise the money for it.  Bekah said that she and Hannah could raise $200.  We encouraged them to maybe try to raise $25 or even $50, but Bekah would not be persuaded.  She is set on raising $200.  So we are going to support her.  God can do mighty things through the least of these.

Then we looked through the World Vision Catalog to see what we could get for a family in need.  They choose a goat for $75 and a sheep for $126.

Why we choose a Goat

Give a goat. Goats nourish hungry children and families with healthy milk, cheese, and yogurt. Goats also give a much-needed income boost by providing offspring and extra dairy products for sale at the market.

A healthy dairy goat can give up to 16 cups of milk a day. Goat milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk and is an excellent source of calcium, protein, and other essential nutrients that growing children need. Goats are practical animals — flourishing in harsh climates while producing valuable manure to fertilize crops and vegetable gardens. 

Why we choose a Sheep

People love to give sheep. One healthy ewe gives highly nutritious milk for essential protein, vitamins, and minerals, plus plenty of wool to knit warm sweaters and blankets. Sheep often give birth to twins or triplets, which can be sold for income or bred to produce a whole flock of woolly grazers. Plus, sheep’s milk is up to twice as rich as cow’s milk in nutrients like protein, calcium, and B vitamins that growing kids need. It’s the perfect gift to celebrate the birth of Jesus—the Lamb of God. 

And the Birthday Child tells us what He wants: Give to the least of these and you give to Me

How can children, my children, raise this money?  
The girls are learning to bake and cook in the kitchen and are doing a great job.  They will be working very hard over the next month to bake cookies and sell them to raise money for their goat and sheep.  They will make Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies and Brownies (not GF).  They will sell 3 cookies for $2 and a brownie for $1.  Would you like to help them?  Help them to change the world one family at a time.

This Christmas, we are looking forward to focusing on giving Christ gifts.
 Focusing on blessing others to give to the One who gives us all things.

  When You give to the least of these — you give to Me.” 

We are having a family birthday party for Jesus and are inviting you to be a part of it. 


Saturday, November 09, 2013

Turning a Disappointment into a Beautiful Gift

 Today Hannah and I drove to the library.  This is a special time for her.  She gets new books and CDs to listen to.  She gets to play big girl games on the library computer.  

 However, today we arrived and found out that the library is closed the whole weekend because of the holiday on Monday.  My little girls head dropped and tears were gathering in her eyes.  Her whole body reflected her disappointment. 

 At that moment I decided to turn this sorrow into a beautiful memory for both of us. 

So we went on a pretty leaf hunt.  

The sun was shining, the smell of autumn was in the air and there were leaves making a path for our shoes-crunching under our feet.  Hannah was in heaven finding handfuls of leaves. 

 I kept remembering a phrase that Anne Voskamp often writes-the Hurry Hurts the  Kids.  So instead of hurrying on our walk, I slowed down and just enjoyed the moment.  So many times I almost told her to hurry.  I almost refused to smell each and every flower that we past.  But I didn't.  I kept my mouth shut and a smile on my face and I was blessed with a beautiful time with my daughter.

Hannah worked on reading the sign.  She did a pretty good job too.

For you mommy!!

Take the time today to just be with your kids.  Don't hurry them.  Don't think about all that you have to get done today.  Just be there 100% with them.  Smell those flowers and accept the gifts and smile and laugh and hug and love them.