Monday, July 23, 2012

Slow Cooker Purple Hull Peas.

I’m a big fan of the farmer’s market. We try to go every Saturday morning as a family to get the fruits and vegetables we will eat for the next week. We are fortunate to have a really good farmer’s market where everything is grown or produced in Arkansas. There are usually different homemade treats to enjoy and someone is usually there playing guitar and singing, which Slade really enjoys. The farmer’s market is one of my favorite outings and I look forward to it every week.
Purple hull peas have just started to make their appearance for the season. Purple hull peas may look like black-eyed peas but they taste so much better. Like the blueberries, I am buying peas for us to eat each week, as well as peas to freeze for the winter.
I remember spending hours shelling purple hull peas as a child. My Grandma J. would get a 5 gallon bucket or two of them from somewhere and we would sit outside shelling them for hours. While that was quality time with my grandma and I have wonderful memories of it, I have no desire to spend hours shelling peas. So now that I’m an adult I prefer to buy my peas already shelled. Perhaps when Slade gets older, I will make him sit outside and shell peas with me. Until then, I’m happy to let others do the work.


Usually, I serve these peas with corn bread and fried potatoes, which is the kind of meal you could find at my Grandma J.’s house any day of the week.
Slow Cooker Purple Hull Peas
1 lb. fresh or frozen purple hull peas
4 c. low sodium chicken stock
2 c. water
4 slices bacon
Salt and pepper

Add all ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Laundry schedule.

I think a lot moms would agree that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I struggle to find the time and energy to do everything on my to-do list.
I read (somewhere that I can’t seem to recall) a list of tips for a well maintained house. One of those tips was to do a full load of laundry every day that way you don’t have to spend an entire day on the weekend tied to the washer and dryer.
This made sense to me. I don’t want to spend all day on Sunday doing laundry which is what usually ended up happening. So I started to think about how I could implement this in my house.
I really like schedules. They really suit my personality. I do my very best to keep Slade on a schedule (that was especially true when he was a baby). Schedules make it easy on everyone because everyone knows what to expect and what needs to be done.
So I decided to create a laundry schedule for my house. Because my husband‘s suits and the majority of my work clothes go to the dry cleaners, I am lucky enough that I don’t have the quantity of laundry that requires doing a load of laundry every day. Plus, one of the benefits of having a schedule is having days when I don’t do laundry.
On Sundays, I do all of Slade’s laundry which can usually be done in one load. I find it is really helpful to start the week with all of this laundry clean and put away. I prefer to do this laundry after his nap so that I can wash his favorite blanket and have it ready for bedtime. One thing that is essential for making this work is that he has enough clothes for an entire week so that I only need to do his laundry once a week. So I make sure that he has 8 pairs of pajamas (it’s always good to have a spare), 8 pairs of shorts, etc.
Also on Sundays, I alternate doing kitchen laundry and bath towels.
During the week, I wash all of the dark colored clothes on Tuesday, light colored clothes on Wednesday and reserve Thursday for any additional laundry that needs to be done, such as a load of red colored clothes or something needing to be washed on the gentle cycle. During the week, I tend to wash and dry at night but then fold and put away the laundry the next morning before Slade wakes up.
This means that I have Monday, Friday and Saturday as laundry free days! Woo hoo!
We’ve been operating with this current laundry schedule for about two months now and I have to say that it’s been a success.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Blueberry Bread.

Blueberries are abundant this time of year in Arkansas and I live with two blueberry loving guys so I have been buying them by the quart at the farmer’s market. We’re using blueberries in everything and I’m freezing a lot too so that we will have blueberries later in the year.
This blueberry bread recipe is a favorite of ours. It’s especially good for breakfast. I prefer to make it in 3 mini loaf pans so that we can eat one loaf when I make it and then freeze the others to be eaten at a later date.
I’m a huge fan of having things like this in the freezer. I just take it out of the freezer at night before I go to bed and then next morning we have a quick and delicious breakfast.
Blueberry Bread
1 egg
1 cup milk
3 tbsp. canola oil
2 c. all purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
 ½ tsp. salt
2 c. blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together egg, milk and oil. In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add flour fixture to milk mixture and stir until combined. Fold in blueberries. Divide mixture evenly between 3 mini loaf pans that have been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A dash of lime green.

I love for walls (and ceilings) to have color. When we moved into our house, most of the walls were a very light gray. I had a lot of the rooms painted before we actually moved in but I needed more time to decide what to do with the play room so we left those walls gray.
The play room is right off of the living room, with a door on each side of the fire place leading into the room. The breakfast area also opens up into the play room, although we have added a child gate to help keep the room a bit more contained. The location of this room in our house makes it an ideal place for a playroom because I can see and/or hear what he’s doing from several rooms in the house. But this also means that I had to be careful what color I chose for the room because it could be seen from the main parts of the house.
 I really wanted the room to be lime green. But my husband was opposed to the idea because he didn’t want to see lime green from the living room or kitchen. The compromise- one wall, the wall that is shared with living room that can only really be seen from the breakfast area, would lime green and we would leave the other three walls light gray. So when the painter came to paint the new patio doors, I also had him paint the wall lime green.

It looks amazing! When I took Slade into the newly painted room for the first time he pointed to the wall and said “green, Mommy, green!” I am so happy with it and I really would like to have the other three walls painted the same color. I doubt I will ever convince my husband though. So I’m thinking that I may eventually have the other three walls painted a much lighter shade of green that would correspond with the lime green accent wall. But even with just the one wall painted I am so happy with it.
I’m still working on the wall décor in this room. I found this sign and thought it would look great on the lime green walls. Plus, we love to sing this song, especially in the mornings.

I also hung a painting that Slade did for his school’s annual art auction fundraiser.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread.

This recipe came from a friend who got it from her mother-in-law. I first made this for my co-workers a few years ago. It was an instant hit and has become the most frequently requested thing I make. Try it and you will understand.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread
1 package lemon cake mix
1 package (4 cup size) instant lemon pudding mix
1 cup canola oil
1 cup water
4 eggs
½ tsp almond extract
2 tbsp. poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes.  Pour into 3 greased loaf pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
½ c. powdered sugar
3 ½ tbsp. lemon juice

Combine the ingredients and whisk until no lumps remain. Pour on the lemon bread while hot.

Friday, July 6, 2012

New doors.

One of the things that I love most about our house is that Slade has a play room. Technically, it’s a sun room but it serves the purpose of a play room quite well. And since it is a sun room, the room has four large floor to ceiling windows. There are also french doors that lead out onto our back deck.
After a friend of mine’s house was broken into twice within a two week period, once by kicking in the front door, I decided that I wanted to change out the doors in the playroom. The french doors were very unsecure and I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t take much effort at all to kick in those doors. On more than one occasion, strong winds actually rattled the door enough to set off the alarm, which scared me to death. And of course it always happened when my husband was not home, but at least it never happened in the middle of the night. So we started exploring door options. Let me just say that I am amazed by how many different options there are for doors. Luckily I had an idea of what I wanted, otherwise it would have been overwhelming.
We ultimately decided on patio doors with the blinds inside the door. So what’s the difference between french doors and patio doors? I did not know this before I started looking at doors, but apparently with french doors, both doors can be opened up, but with patio doors, only one door opens up. So the door that opens is much more secure because it latches into a stronger base.
We also took the opportunity to get doors with blinds inside the door. We had 2-inch wooden blinds on the old doors but Slade was constantly pulling on them trying to look outside. I went back and forth on the blinds decision though. I was worried that it would look strange to have a door with the blinds on the inside next to all of the windows with the 2-inch blinds. We decided to go ahead and get the doors with the blinds on the inside and I am so glad that we did. It looks great and I’m not constantly asking Slade to leave the blinds alone.
While better security was a high priority, we did choose doors that are mostly glass. We discussed this at great lengths and decided that since the doors are surrounded by 4 large windows, getting solid vs. glass doors wasn’t going to make a huge difference in the security of that room. Also, as part of the process to make our house more secure, we added an eight foot privacy fence around our backyard and keep the gate locked from the inside which makes it much more difficult to get access to our back deck. So I feel much better about the security of the house from the backside.
The new doors look great and I really couldn’t be any happier with the project.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Slow Cooker Pot Roast.

Things have been hectic lately with work and Slade. Most days, I feel like I’m being pulled in a hundred different directions. I love being Slade’s mom and I love my job as an attorney but there are definitely times when I find it difficult to juggle the two roles.
When I’m tired and stressed out, I want comfort food. If my mom lived close by, I would go to her house for dinner (and probably a nap) but since she’s six hours away, I have to create the comfort food myself. And I usually turn to pot roast in my slow cooker.
In the morning, I put a roast in the slow cooker.
And this is what it looked like when I got home.
Doesn’t that look fantastic?
When I got home from work, I put some potatoes on to boil for mashed potatoes, sautéed some zucchini and put rolls in the oven. About 20 minutes later, the three of us sat down for a delicious and comforting meal together.
After a crazy busy week, there is something quite relaxing about sitting down for a meal with my two favorite guys.
Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Beef chuck roast (5-6 lbs)
1 bag of frozen pearl onions
1-2 tbsp. Montreal steak seasoning (I usually go for the low sodium one)
4 cups unsalted beef stock
After lining the slow cooker with a slow cooker liner, add the roast to the slow cooker. Sprinkle on the seasoning and add in the pearl onions, then pour in the beef stock. Cook on low for 10-12 hours.