Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Mommy's Time Out

Being the mother of five is EXHAUSTING!
Even with having two adult children out of the house,
 I still find myself overwhelmed with daily life.  Between working as a nurse, managing the household, homeschooling, and all the kid's activities, I find myself at the end of the day with headaches and anxiety about being able to do it all...and do it all well.

I long for a TIME OUT!


A couple of weeks ago my husband gave me this book.  It's a "do it yourself retreat" in preparation for Marian Consecration.  I initially rolled my eyes and thought to myself, I simply DO NOT have time for homework!  Just one more thing on my "To Do" list, and I actually felt crippled by the additional commitment it would take.

I should have known better.

I started my "retreat" a day late, of course.
I usually get up early, before the kids so I can get my chores done. 
But this day I made a cup of coffee, headed out to the garden, 
took a deep breath and began reading.  
I was immediately surprised at the ease of this book.  
Each day takes less than five minutes to complete and comes with a beautiful prayer to the Holy Spirit.



It felt REALLY good.
And I found myself recalling what I had read 
to give me strength through the day...
maybe it was the Holy Spirit just whispering in my ear.

I guess I thought devotional time had to be some monumental, mystical experience requiring great theological thought and contemplation. 

It's doesn't.

I think it just requires you to set aside a little time each day to read the Word of God...then to listen.



My days are still hectic and I still have anxiety about being able to do it all.  But I have learned that if I give the first part of my day to God...before I check emails, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram,
He never fails to breathe a certain peace into my heart and home.

Mommies, feel free to put yourself in a
TIME OUT
every once in a while!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Garden to Kitchen ~ Zucchini Breads

If there's one thing I can grow, it's zucchini!
It's actually a no brainer and will grow itself.  Once the plants start producing, you'll have zucchini coming out of your ears in no time.  One day they're little two inch stubs and the next day they're the size of baseball bats.  I'll never understand how they grow so fast! 


 If you get "baseball bats" in your garden, 
I have the perfect solution for you.  
Make zucchini bread!
I make this all summer long and the kids never get tired of it. 
 It's a dangerous thing, though.  
I've been known to eat an entire loaf by myself.


LEMON ZUCCHINI BREAD:

2 cups all purpose flour 
2 tsp baking powder 
½ tsp salt 
2 eggs 
½ cup canola oil 
⅔ cup sugar 
½ cup buttermilk 
2 TBS lemon juice 
zest of 1 lemon 
1 cup grated zucchini 
Lemon Glaze: 1 cup powdered sugar and juice from 1 lemon

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine all the wet ingredients.
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry.
Spray or butter a loaf pan and fill with batter.
Bake at 350 for 55 minutes.
While still warm, pour lemon glaze over loaf.


CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD:

1 and 1/2 cups shredded zucchini 
1 cup all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
3/4 teaspoon baking soda 
1/4 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon instant coffee  
3/4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
2 large eggs 
1/4 cup vegetable oil 
1 small container plain Greek yogurt 
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Same song, second verse...
Combine the wet, combine the dry.
Mix together and put into greased loaf pan.
Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes.

And here's a little tip about making these breads...
MAKE TWO LOAVES!
(Trust me, one will be devoured right out of the oven)

Enjoy!

 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Five Minute Fake Out Salsa

From the second my tomato plants go into the garden, the boys are wanting to know when we'll have fresh tomatoes for salsa.  They don't understand it takes time to grow the perfect tomatoes.  So when I get tired of them nagging me, I use this fake out to tide them over until my garden is ready.

This is my Five Minute Fake Out Salsa:


For this quick salsa you'll need:

1 - 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
2 cans of diced tomatoes with onion and chiles (Rotel)
1-2 jalapenos
1-2 limes
onion
garlic
a handful of cilantro
salt to taste and 1 TBS cumin
 plus any other spices you like, sometimes
I'll add chili powder and red pepper flakes.


For this recipe, canned tomatoes taste best.  
Start by putting the whole tomatoes in your food processor with a handful of cilantro, lime juice, and garlic.  Pulse to your desired consistency and empty into a bowl.  Next, add your Rotel tomatoes, half an onion, spices, and peppers to the processor.  Pulse again and add to the previous mixture.  Stir to combine and season again to taste.
A note regarding peppers:  
For the basic recipe, two jalapenos are good.  I remove the seeds and membranes from one and add the other one whole.  It gives just the right kick for us.  In the pic above, I had some banana peppers from the garden that I added.  
Any peppers you like will do!


Cover and refrigerate for an hour to let the flavors marry.
The longer it sits, the better it tastes!

 

Grab your favorite chips and enjoy!

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Scoop on Poop

When you have raised beds in the garden, you MUST feed them regularly.  I used up all my compost making new beds this season so I though manure would be the way to fortify my soil.
There is a wonderful place down the road from us,
I called and the owner let us have all the poop we could scoop
FOR FREE.
(and 'free' is music to my ears!)

Is there anything sexier than a man hauling rabbit poop?
I don't think so!!!


Rabbit manure is a nutrient rich way to help your garden 
grow and thrive.
Unlike other manures, which have to be well composted before you can even think of using it in your garden, rabbit poop can be immediately applied to your soil. As the rabbit manure decomposes, it helps build up the structure of the soil, and injects valuable nutrients and organisms into your garden that will promote strong, speedy plant growth. 
 Rabbit manure, in particular, is rich in potassium, nitrogen, zinc, and calcium, and it’s one of the most nitrogen-rich manures out there – so you’ll get lush, green, well fertilized growth. 
...and did I mention it was FREE?


This girl doesn't need gifts of flowers, candies, or jewelry!
Just fetch me a truckload of rabbit poop for the garden
and I'm swoooooning!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

A Captive Audience

My Daniel is number four out of my five children.  
I'll admit it, he sometimes gets lost in the mix.  
He is quiet, reserved, and never voices his opinions out loud.  That's what happens when you have three loud-mouthed older brothers with big personalities...you keep quiet and just play along!

Since the beginning of this year, Danny has started playing baseball with Kyle's (#2 son) former team.  It is a wonderful Christian Homeschooling league that plays private schools in the Houston area.  It's a struggle and a little over an hour to get there each week, so that's why we go to practice/games at least three times a week!  But my boy loves baseball so much, so I make the time.

And for a couple of hours a week, I have a captive audience.



It's our time (and I hope one day he'll see it, too) for us to have deep and meaningful conversations.  Some days we solve all the problems of the world...and some days, it's just fart jokes.
He opens up because there are no brothers around to give him a hard time. 
 We listen to music, talk about the game, 
we eat out at the places HE gets to pick, 
and sometimes it's quiet... that's ok, too.  


Being 13 is hard, and I'm so grateful he wants to 
put down his phone and talk to me
 He lets me be part of his world for the time it takes 
for that car ride.  I often wonder if he is the captive in the audience, or am I?  
Because I realize now, more than ever,
one day there will be no one left to take to practice.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Happy Easter!

This year's Creamer Easter was quite eventful.
It all started with me ruining Mary Grace's life by asking her to eat lunch, and it just spiraled downhill from there 
to full on melt down mode....
in front of her grandparents....at their house.
It was an awesome display of my parenting skills,
I managed not to beat her in front of them
(I couldn't find my wooden spoon!)

Is it because she's a girl?

Is it because of the red hair?

Is it because Hell hath no fury like my kid catching me 
throwing away ANYTHING, EVER? 
 I have to smuggle out broken plastic Easter eggs and candy wrappers out of the house like a Mexican drug lord!


Here is the ONE picture from the day that was captured.
And don't let that angelic face fool you!

This is the day that the Lord has made,
let us rejoice and be glad!
May you all have a blessed Easter season!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Another Garden Hack Because My Cheapness Has NO Boundaries!


Spring time consumes me with gardening!
The weather is beautiful and I just want to be outside with my hands in the dirt and the sun shining on my face...so bear with me with all my gardening posts!
I thought I'd pass along another fun little gardening hack:
PLANT PROPAGATION
It's a big word that means making smaller plants
 from your original plant.  
Best of all, it's FREE!


Lavender and rosemary are extremely easy to propagate.  Mix some potting soil or seed starting mix with water and fill any container you have that has drainage holes in the bottom.  I save these flower packs from the garden store and just use them year after year.  Clip off the new to fairly new growth from your mother plant, strip off the bottom leaves and bury deep into your potting mix.  Keep soil moist but not damp and in a few weeks you'll see new growth appearing!


Transfer your new little plant to your favorite sunny garden spot, feed well with compost or fertilizer, and you now have half a dozen or so new plants to fill your garden beds.  
It costs you nothing but time. 

Same thing goes for tomatoes.
Whether you grow your tomatoes from seed or purchase from the garden store, clip off the "suckers" from your plants.  "Suckers" are the small shoots that grow out of the joint where the branch of the plant meets the stem.  Simply bury the sucker to the top leaves and keep soil moist.  They will wilt at first, but in a few days you'll start to see them spring back to life and begin new growth. 


I got FIVE new plants started from the suckers of just ONE plant!
That makes a cheapskate like me squeal with delight!
So when my tomato plants are spent, I'll just plant a whole new crop and we will be able to enjoy fresh salsa all the way into October.

You can also read about how I propagated my hydrangea

You can follow the hashtag
#CreamerGarden
on Instagram to see how the garden grows.
(and because I'm a total nerd
 with nothing else exciting going on right now.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Garden Hack For the Budget Challenged

I usually want all the things, and I want them NOW...
I just don't want to pay for them!
Gardening can be very expensive but if you get out and check out your surroundings, you may find that there are plenty of resources to be found - for nothing!
The Colorado River runs through our town.  One day, Doug took the kids down to one of the river banks to explore.  While there, we found the most amazing bamboo forest.....and I've been harvesting from it ever since for my garden.


There is lots of luscious, green bamboo around.  
You don't want that! 
It takes a strong arm, a sharp machete, and a LOT of work to get it.
Go for the dried, dead stuff.  
Chances are it's already laying on the ground ready for you to pick up, or a simple pull and it comes right out of the ground.  Plus, it's easy to just snap off the lengths you need instead of getting out the hacksaw.

See, I'm all about frugality AND energy conservation!


So many sizes and shapes, perfect for every need in the garden.
I haven't bought tomato cages in YEARS because I can pick bamboo for FREE!


Bamboo weathers beautifully and is super sturdy for climbing plants like cucumbers, cantaloupes, peas, and squash.


Add a pack of clothes pins from the dollar store and you have pretty garden markers for herbs and flowers.


Just be aware, in a house full of children, the bamboo might also be used for things other than gardening!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Starting a Raised Bed Garden - Creamer Style!

Lately I've had lots of friends ask me how to start gardening 
so I decided to make a blog post on how I garden on the 
cheap and dirty...otherwise known as "Creamer Style."


First, have your handy hubby (or sisters, do it yourself!) 
build a square box with corner reinforcements.  The boxes need to have lumber 8-12 inches tall and about 4 feet long.  We buy 8ft. long, untreated boards at Home Depot and have them cut in half.  
Once you have your boxes assembled, cover the bottom in at least two layers of cardboard.  This will smother the underlying grass and attract earthworms, they love to eat cardboard!


Lay yard debris on top of the cardboard.  
We have an area behind our barn where we take all our yard debris like grass cuttings, limbs, twigs, and leaves.  I contribute a lot to it during the winter months and by spring it has mostly decomposed.  This layer will help provide some drainage for the garden soil and will put organic matter into the soil as the season progresses.


Next, add a mixture of garden soil and compost then water well.  That's it!  Your garden is now ready to plant or you can leave it to sit until you (and the weather) are ready.

As you can see, compost is a big part of the Creamer garden.
We were gifted this wonderful composter when neighbors of ours moved.  It's a Good Ideas Dual Senior Compost Wizard and it  makes quick work of breaking down all our kitchen scraps, 
along with a handful of earthworms.


We also have that spot by the barn I told you about for the bigger stuff.  Just turn it with a shovel every now and then, and by the end of each season you'll have some nice compost!


There's no reason gardening has to be expensive.  With a small investment in the beginning, your garden boxes should last several planting seasons.  Just keep adding your composted materials and you'll never have to buy soil or fertilizer!

Get out there and plant something!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Baseball Mom Survival Bag


Baseball season is in FULL SWING
(haha, no pun intended!).

We find ourselves on the road a lot this time of year and I thought I'd share a handy tip that will keep you prepared because let's face it, we all leave the house in a hurry, and most days I'm lucky if my six year old leaves with matching shoes!

Pack your bag with these essentials and leave it in your vehicle.  
I put my stuff in a small backpack, that way I just sling it over my shoulder and we're off!


    Wipes                       Hand Sanitizer
Flushable wipes       Sun Screen
Kleenex                     Bug Spray
          Bandaids                 Pepto Tabs or Tums
Powder                  Chapstick
              Benadryl                 Antibiotic Ointment
Ibuprofen                     Snacks



Just add chairs, baseball equipment, and a case of water 
and we are off for a day of baseball.
All bases are covered.
(haha, pun intended!)


And if you're wondering, my son is the one in the iron mask.
#ThrowYouOutEveryTime

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Feeling lost...

When I promised to get back to this space, I was in hopes of blogging spring gardening, my latest obsessions, and kid's activities.
But it's about to get REAL up in here.

About two years ago my oldest son, Ryan, moved out on his own.  It was a good move because Ryan and I are more alike than I'd like to admit and for his entire life we have butted heads.  Ryan has always been extremely independent and fearless.  I had no doubt this young man would be just fine, and I'm happy to report
 no bail money has been spent...yet!


But just a month ago, my second son, Kyle, 
moved out on his own.  
I thought I was ready.
I clearly am not.

I am lost.


I know it's the hope of every parent that their kids move on from the nest and become happy and productive people.  
It's my hope, too.  That's why I'm reeling from the punch in the gut that I'm feeling right now.


Doug just doesn't understand.
It's a MAMA thing!



There are still three kiddos at home who still need me...ALOT!  
But it seems I'm always on the edge of tears because my oldest two don't need me anymore.  They are working, meeting new people, and having adventures without me...and in spite of me...and I just want to watch from the sidelines to make sure they're happy, safe, and well.  Sure, they text and call daily but it's not the same.


They've moved on and I have not.
I don't want to stop mothering them!
I like the dirty faces, the messes, the fights, the noise,
ALL OF IT!


For now I bribe them to come home with Sunday dinners, 
a carload of groceries, or offers to do their laundry.  
Sometimes they jump at the offer and sometimes I get, 
"Maybe later, Mom, I've got plans."  

We've all got to figure out this new chapter we've come to.
So say a prayer for this lost mama to find her way.
'Cause growing up is HARD!


"I love you forever.
I'll like you for always.
As long as I'm living,
my baby you'll be."

~Robert Munsch
From the book, Love You Forever