Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lemon Tuna Pasta!

Tonight's dinner was a hit!
Sometimes I find myself looking through the cupboard wondering what I could possibly make with what's in there but, I love a challenge! 
We had spaghetti noodles and a can of tuna, plus one sad lemon that needed to be used. I searched these ingredients on Pinterest and found a great recipe to use as a base. (although someday I would like to make the whole thing!)
photo courtesy of wallpapersus.com

We did not have capers, olives or red chili....so, I had to change it up a bit.
In place of those missing ingredients I added slices of red onion to the garlic, butter, oil & lemon. This worked well as the red onion became super sweet!
Once the pasta was done I tossed it with the oil mix and added tuna plus Parmesan cheese and fresh thyme from our window garden, instead of basil.
 It transported us to someplace warm & sunny with every bite!
A must try recipe to break the chill of winter.

Newspaper Nail Art!

Ok! I have seen this a few times now and couldn't wait to try it with my G! All the kids were home today  - due to an ice storm - so we had plenty of time. 

We used regular, white nailpolish as a base and transfered images that we had cut out of old book orders! The effect turned out great!!
(make sure to let the nailpolish fully dry first though, our test nail had to be redone.)

Easy instructions:
image courtesy of tumblr.com

Snowman Fun! (Home Preschool)

Home Preschool

Last September my lil' guy & I started home preschool. At first it was a challenge but, after getting into a routine this has become our most favorite time of the day. I love how excited he gets about learning! 
Although I knew the basics I wanted to teach and do have workbooks for most subjects I did need a lot of extra help on how to put it all together and make it FUN! Thank goodness for all the wonderful resources out there, Pinterest being #1 on the list! From the daily schedule to fun activities and crafts to go with our theme it proves to be a wealth of information.
Our weekly themes are decided by holidays, seasons or current topics & interests.
For this snowy & cold, last week of January a Snowman theme seemed appropriate!
Along with creating the Snowman tree (posted earlier) we will be using some of these fun activities and crafts too:

This site is super! Lots of printable worksheets for the a Winter/Snowman theme plus great information on home preschool.
Oopsey Daisy -W is for Winter

We do most of our painting projects on Thursdays, because we have more time, and will be trying this out for sure!
Marshmallow Snowman Stamping

I love this page! There are so many great sensory recipes and theme bath ideas. (If we only had a tub!)
Erupting Snowballs

 Aerial Snowman by my C!
This was a good craft for cutting and gluing practice.

Our Snowman theme changes to Winter Fun for the first week of February with some more great, learning activities:

Mitten Matching

Ice Fishing For Letters

Magnet Number Fishing

Tons of Winter Theme Activities!

Winter Theme for Preschool


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tree Trimming x 12! (Jan.)

 At our home, we love to reflect the changing of the seasons and our favorite holidays with special decorations. 
(my personal faves are fall & of course, Christmas!)
With kids and dogs running through the house it doesn't take long for our creations to look a bit not so fresh. So this year, in a effort to cut down on clutter,  I decided to keep those special items in just a few designated spots. Our lighted, north woods, pine tree is one of those spots. We keep this tree up year round as it goes with the main decor and fits perfectly in an awkward cubby near our foyer.
For the most part I just love turning on the twinkly lights but, after decorating it for Christmas the idea came for adding fun new decorations for seasonal changes and holidays, then on to monthly changes to fit in with some of my upcoming, home preschool, activities.
Get ready for Tree Trimming x 12!
Each month the tree will get a new look. We are excited for the challenge and to share our creations!
Our tree:
For our first look of the year the kids and I had decided on a snowman tree.
It was so fun to find all the necessary components & get down to creating.
We think the final result turned out great!
The snowman is just batting mixed with some foam snowflakes and plastic icicles. We used pine cones for a mouth, buttons for eyes and a carrot nose (made from a cone-shaped, thread spool covered in orange felt).
The kids found mismatched gloves that slid nicely onto the branches and topped it off with a hat.
I ♥ twinkling lights covered with snow!
We have already begun planning a "Love" theme for next month!
Happy Creating!!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Progressive Art/Group Art

Progressive ART!
(Group ART)
Last spring we had opened a little shop in the back of a garage where we sold handmade goods, art and vintage items. For some extra customer interaction I created this fun piece, put out some permanent markers, and encouraged folks to color. They did!!
This would make a great activity for birthdays, family reunions, anniversaries, or even as a teacher gift for the last day of school.
Purchase any size wrapped canvas
Draw on the design of your choice.
(use a permanent marker)
Color with permanent markers or paint.
Voila! A special, one-of-a-kind, art piece!!
Encourage every artist to sign the back too!
Happy Creating! ☺


Friday, January 25, 2013

Potato Pancakes

Good afternoon!

It's almost the weekend and the sun is shining, life is good!  My husband was home today, due to some errands that we needed to run, so we planned to go out for breakfast. Our youngest suggested Mc Donald's, of course, but we wanted a real meal and decided upon our favorite greasy spoon, a family owned cafe called Cheap Charlie's. We love this place, it's comfortable, welcoming, and loaded with diner charm! (Plus, any restaurant with a giant, concrete pig on the top of the building has to be good right?!) Their coffee is served in random mugs from area businesses, omelets are made from real eggs, and the pancakes are roughly the size of a hubcap!
I usually order chicken fried steak with hash browns but went with one of the specials this morning - "Savory Potato Pancakes". YUM! Although I knew they would not be sweet, I wasn't sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised.  Potato pancakes are now something I would definitely like to try at home and have been researching recipes. A lot that I have found call for deep frying or even a sweet potato variation so I have done my best to collaborate a basic recipe, add-ins welcome.    
Potato Pancakes
4-5 medium sized potatoes - peeled & shredded
2 eggs
2 TBS. flour
dash of S&P
combine all ingredients
pour rounded spoonfuls onto skillet (preheated to 375°)
(I am going to try it with a bit of butter to coat our electric skillet rather than frying in oil)
fry both sides until golden brown.
top with sour cream  - optional
These go excellent with sunny side up eggs!
To make them savory, omit the S&P and add about a tsp. of  seasoning salt.
cooked, crumbled bacon
green onions
(even cream cheese would be good!)
wikipedia-free image

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Do!

Hello Hello!
This week has already been quite the roller coaster ride!! The weather in our little neck of the woods turned frigid which meant two days in the house with kids who were feeling better and would have loved to run around outside. I finished our home preschool curriculum for the rest of January and through February and will soon be adding that to my blog posts. Along with all the regular daily challenges, stresses and joys, was the added drama of an upcoming wedding. Now don't get me wrong, this is an event that I had been greatly looking forward to but suddenly became a bit too much drama for this mama! (this year I vowed to turn lemons into lemonade so, all of that magically became the inspiration for a blog topic ;) 

For those of us who have ever planned our own wedding or have been a part of a wedding we understand the process and the stress involved. Everyone wants their special day to be fun and memorable as well as a reflection of the lives that are joining.  Although that day is mainly in recognition of the new couple, the wedding party and guests involved should also be taken into consideration during the planning process. This can be challenging when dealing with an array of family and friends with different needs.  Sometimes planning can go from one extreme to the other. We have all heard the term "Bridezilla" and oh ya, they are out there planning the ultimate dictated wedding but, also beware of the ever-growing population of "Groomzilla" too! Yikes!!
So, with the spring/summer wedding season fast approaching, (and after doing some research of my own for personal reasons), I thought a handy post of wedding etiquette was in order.

The do's and don'ts of wedding etiquette are incredibly helpful when planning that very special day. A few might seem obvious but sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of all of it, important details can get lost.
(as much as you want this day to be perfect, there are two to choose from: perfectly fun or perfectly awful. :)
(this is an up and coming trend and frankly, not a good one! I love a helpful and in tune man but seriously though, if you've got your wedding planned out, no exceptions, long before the bride or even before you've found a bride, you might be a Groomzilla!)
That being said, ahem, there are more folks involved in the wedding besides the bride and groom. The family and friends chosen to stand up in the wedding are usually just as excited as the couple getting married. Understanding their needs and concerns and planning accordingly is not only considerate but lets them know that you want them to be an important part of your day.
No one involved in such an event likes to feel left out. Although, the bride's parents play quite a major role in the wedding, don't forget that the groom's parents matter just as much.
Family Etiquette
(my personal fave on this one is 'you asked someone to be bridesmaid out of obligation', a little time of feeling guilty trumps all those awkward moments to come.)
Top 10 Wedding Must-Dos
(These are so helpful, especially #1. Family and close friends come first, not sayin'-just sayin')
(The best disasters can't be planned, keep these helpful hints in your back pocket, just in case ;)
A wedding is definitely a call for celebration. Back in the day, (waay back), wedding celebrations could last for a week. Times are a bit different now, with work and family it's not always possible to stretch it out but, all that planning and $ for just a few hours? I can understand the "let's make a day of it", just don't over do it.  Your guests, parents and wedding party are there to celebrate rather than to sit around and wait nor exhaust themselves.
(p.s. it's totally ok to leave enough time between the wedding and reception for greeting guests, photographs, freshening up, a quiet moment with your new spouse, and travel. Two hours or less is acceptable, if it has to be more, offer something for your guests to do while they wait, an "I don't care, I'll be busy" attitude is quite inconsiderate.)
Here are some real guest's thoughts on time length.

After the ceremony has concluded and photos are done, it's time to PARTY!
Along with the bride and groom, the guests are also excited to celebrate. This is an opportunity to thank your guests for sharing your special day. To go with fun games, traditions and dancing, good food and drink is a must.  
Money is a huge factor, especially when confronted with the cost of feeding 200+ guests but, do take into account that if the day will already be quite long, guests WILL be hungry by reception time. 
So, a Filet Mignon dinner or hors d'oeuvres?  Check out these great ideas for budgeting and food etiquette. 
Budget Food and Drink Ideas
Ultimately, plan your food choice according to the time of the reception. If going with a later wedding a cocktail hour with hors d'oeurves works well. If planning an afternoon wedding with a dinnertime reception expect to be offering a real meal or at least give your guests the choice of eating before coming to the reception, (if time allows).  Remember, you want your guests to stay for all of the fun that is planned during the reception too rather than leave early to find the nearest Mc. D's!
Love Love Love this article!! It helps to put all that information above into great perspective!
Maybe you are not the bride or groom or a member of the wedding party but, a guest. What's your role?
Wedding Guest Etiquette
Last but not least, remember the ultimate focus of a wedding, it's a blessed union of love, respect and commitment. When planned with Christ-centered goals in mind, how can it go wrong?! 
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Genesis 2:24 KJV
Have fun & Happy Planning!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Breakfast Burritos

Hello on this very windy evening!  This afternoon came and went as we spent most of our time trying to re-set our metal shed -  it blew over!! After all that I am back in, Cops on the t.v., kids are ready for Sunday school, here we go:

Breakfast Burritos
8-10 eggs 
1/2 cup milk
1/2 onion-diced
4 medium potatoes-julienne
1/2 cup pre-cooked bacon - crumbled
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1 cup purèed butternut squash
flour tortillas
(small or large)
take out eggs
slice potatoes and onions - fry in skillet over medium heat until soft
add spinach, gently stir until wilted
In a bowl, crack eggs, add milk, whisk together.
Add squash & bacon to eggs, whisk together.
Add egg mix to skillet, combine all ingredients.
Stir occasionally over medium heat until eggs are cooked.
S&P to taste.
Fill tortillas and fold.
This is handy:  Burrito Folding
I made a large batch of these for quick, hot breakfasts next week. Just individually plastic wrap & freeze.
microwave for 1.5 to 2 minutes
This recipe makes 8 burritos if using the smaller tortillas.
Ciao! ☺

Ah, it's Saturday already!!!  Today is running errands, laundry and house cleaning.  Life never stops but sometimes we need to just slow down and have a snuggle day, which was yesterday.  My hope is that you will be reading the breakfast burrito recipe by this afternoon, will love it, and try it soon! ;)
Here's a little funny to start a busy Saturday. I found this photo on Pinterest, I do not own the rights nor can I find where this particular mug is sold, although I have seen glasses & pie plates on Etsy.
I'm still laughing...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Lip Scrubs!

O.k. I was hoping to post this earlier but today was quite a long day of tending to the young'ns, cleaning and cooking. (The cooking part was of breakfast burritos - I'll be sharing that recipe tomorrow!)

 There's nothing better than having a "beauty secret", especially one that is homemade! Tonight's recipe is two for the price of one! It's that time of the year when the cold, dry air wreaks havoc on the skin and lips. Instead of peeling dry skin or over applying the lip moisturizer try out one of these great lip scrubs.  I have been using the Wintertime Lip Scrub for a couple of days now and my lips love it!

                                  1.  Lavender Lip Scrub   (pictured above ▲)
 1 TBS. white sugar
(since I am cutting sugar from food recipes I need to use it somewhere - no waste ;)
1 TBS. extra virgin olive oil
             1 drop of lavender essential oil
(changed from 1-2 because the lemon was added)
1 drop lemon essential oil
                  food coloring    *optional
Mix together thoroughly and store in an airtight container
Apply a small amount to lips, lightly scrub, wash off with warm water
►Because this one contains essential oil, I do not recommend ingesting◄
2. Wintertime Lip Scrub
1 TBS. brown sugar
                   1 TBS. grape seed oil or e.v.o.o.
1 tsp. honey
Mix together thoroughly and store in an airtight container
Apply a small amount to lips, lightly scrub, let sit for a minute, gently wash off with warm water.
 - or if you have not gotten your sugar fix for the day just lick it off!

*These are adaptations of basic lip scrub recipes, the ingredients used work for me but in the case of a reaction - allergic or other - seek medical advice or help a.s.a.p.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cookie break

Good afternoon!  The kids are up and on the couch watching "Good Times". :) It is snowing now and seems like a good time to bake some cookies.
I bake/make goodies once a week, usually consisting of cookies and bars.  Occasionally I go big with a cake or surprise with a midweek pudding.  Sweets tend to go fast here but, my new philosophy of 'when it's gone it's gone' has helped to slow consumption down a bit. 
Along with axing the sugary drinks, I am slowly redefining our desserts by omitting the extra sugar.  So many cookies, even no bake, call for large amounts of sugar! TGFP (thank goodness for Pinterest!) after a little while of browsing I found this recipe for Banana Oatmeal Cookies !!  This is just the pick me up we need today!

UPDATE:  The cookies turned out alright. I used bananas that I had previously frozen, once thawed they mashed in a flash. I made my spoonfuls a bit thicker - thus a thicker cookie. This is a great recipe to adapt for breakfast cookies too.  Flax seed would be a good add in as well, I didn't think of it soon enough on my batch this afternoon. 

Food for thought.

       Lunch is done and my ailing children all consented to a nap.  Although I dislike seeing them sick, I love having them home and caring for them on all levels, especially through creating good meals.  Today's lunch of Toad-in-a-Hole was a request by M, but a true fave of all. (fyi: piece of buttered bread - middle cut out with a biscuit cutter - crack an egg in the hole and fry 'til done - yum!)
       Ok, so truth be told, from trying new foods, enjoying old favorites to just preparing great meals together, we LOVE food here!  That being said, we are no stranger to processed dinners, junk food and fast food! This year we ARE making a change.  I am excited to share with our journey & recipes with you!
        The first step has already begun with weaning off sugary drinks.
Amazingly enough, water is the #1 drink of choice here with milk a close second but, we have struggled with many sugar-filled drinks in the past.
Pop, for the kids, is now hardly ever.  A 2 liter of  lemon/lime or root beer will sneak in maybe once a month. For me it's even less... Mr. T.  has 2-3 carbonated bevs a day. I've made my case, but this is an ongoing battle because the choice of pop contains no sugar. (don't get me started on artificial sweetener!)
        I can't remember the last time we had drink mixes and we cut out store juice back in September. Lately we have been lucky enough to have fresh squeezed O.J. ( I've been mixing the orange juice with the juice of half a lemon & about a tsp. of honey in a mug, filled the rest of the way with boiling water. It's a great boost for the body, soothes coughs and sore throats too.
P.s. the honey is from bees that reside on our property!)
       We have also discovered "Italian Soda" thanks to our new year's party which had an Italian theme - Buon Anno! This makes for a great carbonated drink - all the kick minus the ick! ;)  Club soda has no sugar and is not a drink the kids like to over consume and the flavoring syrup we use, (Torani - in the coffee section of Walmart) is also sugar free.
For special occasions, add homemade whipped cream and a cherry to top it off.
     We already feel better, fewer tummy aches, headaches and sugar crashes!
I am posting a link to the Martha Stewart recipe for Italian soda, mainly because I like the photo. Her recipe calls for seltzer or mineral water, either one is fine too. I used up to a TBS. of syrup per 4 oz glass. 
Martha's recipe for Italian Soda!

Our little Flock

One of the topics of this blog will be CHICKENS!  We currently have the pleasure of caring for six hens and two roosters.  Right now the hens are "laid off". :) I do not have any artificial light source in the coop so they have taken their natural time off from laying any eggs. We sure do miss them, (store bought eggs are no where near the same!
It's still a learning process even though we started with chickens over 3 years ago....just three hens that lived in our garage. Now we have doubled the flock & cannot wait for new eggs & hopefully some chicks this spring.  I will try to be informative as well as share those wonderful moments with the hope that my posts will encourage more folks to start their own flocks and enjoy the benefits of raising chickens.

First Blog Post!

First day of the new blog!

Hello & thank you for finding Prairie Hill Living!
For starters here's a little bit about me:
 I am a full time mom, wife, homemaker, daughter, sister and Christian. (This week it's beyond full time here at home as all little ones in the house are under the weather.  So in between laundry, water refills, temp checks, meds & snuggles I will be posting.)
I enjoy cooking, cleaning - yes, cleaning, organizing, decorating,crafting n' creating, learning and putting into practice self-sufficient country living and most of all, sharing all of this with my family.
I somewhat started what I wanted for a blog on my own personal facebook page but would like to be more visible and lately have decided farcebook needs to go anyway - sweet freedom! My hope is to continue and improve what I had started but, in a new blog setting.
I will try to post everyday but real life has first dibs. ;)