Thursday, October 8, 2015

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Comfort food was in order around our house this week. You see we've all had a case of "the bug". At first we thought it was food poisoning, yuck, but now we're not sure what it was because three days later Audrey is still sick. Whatever you want to call it, it has been no fun and I'm hoping today is the last day of it.

Anyway, we needed comfort food and what says comfort food more than homemade macaroni and cheese? Today we made it in it's most basic version, just the macaroni and cheese sauce, but often times we'll fancy it up by throwing in some meat or vegetable. And by meat I mean bacon. Obviously.

This is one of those recipes I have down pat. I love that I never have to look it up and it can be ready in under half of a hour, all I have to remember is "two". Two tablespoons butter, two tablespoons flour, two cups of whole milk. Pretty easy, right?

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp powdered mustard
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper
2 cups grated cheddar cheese (today I used half white cheddar and half yellow cheddar)
3 to 4 cups macaroni (measured dry and depending on how creamy you want your macaroni and cheese, I usually stick closer to the three cups because the sauce thickens so much as it cools)

In a large pot of salted boiling water cook macaroni until al dente.

In a large sauce pan, I use our dutch oven, over medium-low heat melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and let cook for one minute. Add the milk whisking often. Add the mustard and garlic. Continue cooking over medium-low heat whisking or stirring very often until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. You want to keep the heat low so that the sauce just barely simmers, you don't want it to come to a boil.

Turn off the heat and add the cheese in two batches. Stirring in each batch of cheese until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add macaroni to cheese sauce and stir to coat macaroni.

Serve and enjoy!

Posted at:
Tutorials and Tips Link Party at Home Stories A to Z 

Monday, October 5, 2015

It Starts with a Chair

It seems as though I am right on schedule. Predictably just a little over two months postpartum I'm getting the decorating itch. It happened with Audrey and I gave our living room at the time a bit of a spruce. It happened with Owen (although I'm not sure I can really blame him as we had also just moved into our house the week before he was born, so everything needed decorating). But I do distinctly remember styling the open shelving in our kitchen, and climbing up and down a step stool with him in a front pack. And now it's happening again with Ella. I fully blame the babies and their need to eat. I spend countless hours sitting in various spot around the house while Ella eats which gives me far too much time to stare at whichever room I'm in and start decorating it, or redecorating it as the case may be, in my mind.

I think it's high time I start actually putting all those plans into action.

So I'm starting with this chair, and another one just like it. They are going in our living room to replace a couple of chairs that have seen much better days. I found these two at Tuesday Morning last week and am pretty sure I love them. And just in case I don't the tags are still on and I have 39 more days to change my mind before the return policy runs out.

Hopefully they will give me just the jumpstart I need to embrace our tan couches and really pull the rest of the room together.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Pumpkins for Sale

I just finished telling my mother-in-law that I am ready for fall to start. Realizing that that technically has already happened, it sure doesn't feel very fall-ish around here. Frankly, we are having beautiful weather and I shouldn't complain, but I'm ready for the gray skies, rainy days, the fire in the wood stove, and a hot mug of apple cider. 

Although it doesn't feel like fall, the garden is telling us otherwise. It's pumpkin season. We seem to have improved our timing and all of the plants Audrey planted thrived this year and are ripening at just the right time (our timing was off last year and we ended up with a bunch of rotten pumpkins by September.) 

A couple of days ago she spent the afternoon picking all the pumpkins that were ready, making signs, and setting up her pumpkin stand. She takes the selling of her pumpkins very seriously and made sure that they were arranged just right.

Luckily for the passerby's who decide to stop she also doesn't have much of a concept of the value of money, so her prices are pretty reasonable. Each day she has gone back out to her plants to see if more are ready to add to her stand.

Even though the weather is deceiving, I guess it's time for me to embrace our warm fall weather. I better head down the driveway and buy a few pumpkins to decorate the house.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Homemade Granite Cleaner

Remember way back when when I shared the recipe I used for homemade dusting spray and I said I would share the other homemade cleaners I use "soon"? Well apparently by soon I meant nearly 10 months later. What can I say? Blogger fail. 

But trust me when I say this granite cleaner was worth the wait. I call it granite cleaner, but really it is my go to all-purpose cleaner. I use it on all of our granite (obviously), but I've also used it on our toilets, in the sinks, on tile, I've even dusted with it when I'm in too big of hurry, or too lazy, to pull out the dusting spray. It works great and once again I LOVE that it is incredibly simple to make and I always have the ingredients on hand.

Granite Cleaner

1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
1/4 tsp castile soap 
Fill with water

A couple of notes... 
For the castile soap I always use Dr. Bronners Organic Baby Unscented because it is what we have on hand, but I'm sure one of the scented versions would work great too and make the cleaner smell good. Also, I always use distilled water in the cleaners as we have hard water. 

Posted at: 
The Weekend Retreat Link Party at AKA Design
Tutorials & Tips Link Party at Home Stories A to Z

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Reality of Farming

Standing at the kitchen sink, a place I find myself quite often (do the dishes ever end?), I can look out and see our back pasture. The chickens are usually roaming around as they have free range to go wherever they please and there are usually at least a couple of the four-legged creatures back there too. I can also see our garden, which despite the fact that I have paid it very little attention this summer, is overflowing with fruits and vegetables that are ready to be picked. And sometimes, on the really great days, I can also watch Audrey and Owen running around the backyard playing happily or picking something from the garden to shove through the fence and feed the animals. 

Frankly, it's pretty darn idyllic. The animals happily wandering around, the garden full of produce, the orchard just beyond our property, and the mountain view in the distance all make for a beautiful picture. In fact it's pretty close to the picture I had in my head years ago when having a farm was no more than a daydream.

Unfortunately despite how "perfect" that view can be out the kitchen window there is also the reality of farming. Sure there is a lot of time and work that goes in to keeping the animals and gardens, but that is something that at this point in our very young farming adventure we still truly enjoy. But there is also the reality that we keep most of our animals for one purpose... meat. And sadly to have meat to eat an animal has to die. There is just no way around it.

It's the harsh reality behind all those perfectly packaged steaks at the grocery store and it's the reality here when an animal that we have named, fed, petted, cared for and loved on has to "go". Last week it was Elsie and Stripey's turn. 

While we don't find any pleasure in the killing of the animal, we find comfort in knowing that the animals lived a pretty happy, carefree life. We like knowing that the meat we are eating comes from animals that have been cared for, fed organic feed, were able to roam as they please, and were killed as humanely as possible. 

In fact we don't just "like knowing" all that, it is the point, it is why we do what we do. And I have to say I am ridiculously excited about the meat that will soon fill our freezer. 

Monday, September 14, 2015


While many kids have been in school for weeks at this point, schools around here just started last week and the kindergarteners didn't start until today. And while I'm still trying to figure out how it happened that I blinked and my beautiful first born baby became old enough, Audrey was one of the many kindergarteners filing into class this morning. 

She was bursting with excitement. 

She picked her outfit out last night and is obviously not afraid to mix patterns. Her sense of style is a pretty great reflection of who she is, adventurous, fun, and not afraid to take a chance. 

A friend asked me how I was holding up this morning and honestly, I'm a little sad for me that my sidekick for the past five years won't be here all day anymore, but more than anything I am just so excited for her. She is starting on such a grand adventure. I loved school as a kid and I see that same enthusiasm in her. 

I can't wait to hear all about her first day! 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Six Weeks

Ella is six weeks old. Six weeks! (Enter all cliches about growing too quickly and time moving too fast here, they're all true!)

We are still growing into life as a family of five. Some days everything seems to run so smoothly, while others leave us run down and a little ragged. And while I would always choose the smooth running days over the not-so-easy ones I'm trying my best to savor them all. Ella is changing by the minute, Owen is becoming such a little boy with a big personality, and Audrey starts kindergarten this year. Now how did that happen? Wasn't she just Ella's size yesterday?

So I'm learning to be patient, to let go of the mess and the fact that 2.5 seconds after I clean things are dirty again, to ignore the to-do list and just be with the kids, to savor each frustrating, hair-pulling, beautiful second of being a mom. I'm going to blink and before I know it sweet Ella will be the one going off to kindergarten and my chance to have these kids to myself all day will be gone.


and this is a big but, I also know myself and know that when the house is a mess, the laundry is dirty, and dinner hasn't even been thought about everything feels 100 times harder. Each time the kids throw another toy on the ground or when we can't find any clean clothes because they are all buried somewhere in a laundry basket I get closer and closer to my boiling point.

There has to be a balance. So we are all learning and growing together into this family of five thing. Learning to be patient, to listen, to help, and to be a little more understanding of each other. We are far from perfect, but it sure is a great adventure we are on together.