Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Thought I would share a quick tip that I love to do around here to make the house smell like cozy deliciousness. After I eat an apple or an orange, I take the peel (and core if its an apple) and throw it into a sauce pan with a little water, some cinnamon, and some whole cloves. I pick up those spices at the Dollar Tree, so the whole thing is uber frugal.

Next, set your stove to simmer, and let it cook down a bit. You can keep it simmering for as long as you want. You will want to turn it off at night or when you are away, of course, but it will keep on the stove for several days.

Yummm. Can you smell it yet?

You can also set it up in your crock pot for an incredibly low-maintenance version! This is a much cheaper way to make your home smell amazing than expensive candles or air freshener. It is all natural, and won't leave any unwanted chemicals floating through the air, and is also completely bio-degradable. Throw it right into the compost bin when you're finished.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ready to Give Up

Does anyone else ever dream of giving up on "all this" and moving toward a simpler lifestyle? I mean doing away with everything you can that has to do with modern society and just diving in to live a simpler life. Of course, I wouldn't give up the few conveniences that are important to our health, daily happiness, or that make the most out of the time we have so we can spend it doing important things (like air conditioning, internet, medicine, etc). I think I'm just tired of the complexity of modern life.

A lot of it comes from being faced with the feelings and pressures of using this or that modern convenience for cleaning/driving/computers/photography/whatever, and feeling a tinge of guilt every time I have to tell someone, "No, we don't have that because we can't afford it."

The truth is that even if we can afford it, often I would rather put our money where it makes the most difference for us, rather than on small conveniences. One example would be a garden. I tried to garden this year, but something happened and all my seedlings disappeared. I suspect some wild creatures had quite a feast on them. I'm going to try to replant, but it may be a bit late in the season. We will see.

A big change like what I envision would include having a store of food that I know would get us through any hard times. We would have alternative sources for things like heat (such as a fireplace), and light (candles, lanterns). We would work to find and make as much for our family as possible, and focus on quality instead of quantity. We could work with our hands to help bring in income instead of working at jobs that don't make sense to our personal lives and pay next to nothing. We would work on trade with others of like mind, in addition to making as much as we could with our own creations. Our focus would be on our connection to our own lives, and those around us, including the environment in which we lived.

When I think of making a big life change, like moving toward a more sustainable, simple lifestyle, I think not only of what life would be like, but what I would be so happy to be doing without. Debt is a big one, and while we haven't taken on any new debt in years, we are still struggling to pay off the stupid decisions of our youth. Granted, some of it was due to emergency, or what we felt was necessary at the time. Still, life makes it difficult to "catch up." Even though I'm still technically in my twenties, the road seems so long ahead of me that I often feel like the destination to be debt free is beyond our reach, especially when things like car repairs, unemployment, and the need to buy expensive medication come into play.

I don't think there's any real "ideal" way of living, but I think each person here on this earth has somewhere in life that they best "fit." For me, I think I fit into a much simpler lifestyle, filled with the satisfaction of hard work, nature, my family, and a job well done. It would be one that leaves me feeling fulfilled, and purposeful. I would feel like life was abundant instead of lacking, as I often feel trying to fit into "modern society." I do know that abundance comes from within, but the fact remains that everything around us these days says otherwise, and even the strongest among us can feel beaten down from time to time.

Anyhow, I dream of this "other life" and hope someday that we can attain it. I'm trying to make small changes every day that lead us in that direction. Today I'm just wishing I could flip the switch and be there.

Do you ever feel this way, too?

Friday, June 17, 2011

What If...

I spend a good amount of time every day at home. Especially right now, without a working vehicle, and Abbi-girl keeping me company all summer, I really can't leave the house. That means I have a lot of time on my hands. Most of the time I find that as I'm sitting, or cleaning, or crafting, I stew. I stew on the fact that since I can't leave the house due to lack of transportation and help with Abbi, I am not able to do something right now to help our family financially, and we really REALLY need it. I feel like life is in a holding pattern, and I'm just waiting for the next big phase to move us forward, yet it is nowhere in sight. I stew about the bills that keep piling up, and the feeling of helplessness as I file them away, not knowing how they're going to get paid.

Obviously, just stewing isn't working for me. But the fact remains that the situation just is what it is. It stinks, but right now I can't do anything about it.

So, I got to thinking today. What CAN I do? What if I spent the time that i have here, doing something that might lead me to another phase eventually? There are lots of things that I enjoy doing. I have at least a dozen hobbies I could do something with. Some may be profitable. Some may be more for my own fun. I have plenty of supplies, ideas, and inspiration to keep me going.

(quote and image from Pintrest)

My mom went back to school when I was a teenager, because she saw time passing by and realized how much she wanted to reach her own goals, that seemed so very far away. She woke up one morning and realized that "time was passing anyway," as she told me, and decided to jump in with both feet, making the most of that time. She is now almost finished with her doctorate and is a professor of Sociology at the Northwestern Oklahoma State University, and is working on opening a charter school in Harlem. Oh the lessons mom continues to teach me even as a nearly-30-year-old woman.

What I thought I might do is focus on my writing goals. I worked for a writing and publishing company for 9 years, and would love to turn that experience into something that can work for me in the future as well. I have an opportunity right now to devote time to goals that I wouldn't have if I were working a traditional job, and as mom says, "time is passing anyway." Now is the time to take advantage of that, and strive to possibly even turn it into a full time job, someday. One can hope!

Do you ever think about what you could be doing today to better prepare yourself for the future you want? Do you have any lofty "someday" goals that you could be working toward?

What if you asked yourself, what if?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Moving On

Wanted to share some of my favorite photos from a shoot I did of Anna shortly after we moved back here to Arizona. I didn't realize it at the time, but the pictures are fairly indicative of what life was like for our little family. It was incredibly difficult to leave our home in Texas, and relocate to Arizona. In many ways it felt like we were alone, and things were never going to get better. Over time things have slowly improved, though we continue to heal the internal wounds. We have spent a lot of time and energy struggling to get back on our feet as a family from the ground up, and have somehow managed to grow closer together through it all. Small as she is, Anna has been amazing every step of the way, pushing me forward, and reminding me of what it means to be a family.

New Beginnings

First, a quick throw back to the old blog, located here. Feel free to go visit anytime to view old posts, until I can figure out how to move the archives over here. I'll try to get to that asap, promise. :)

I know this post has been a long time coming, and truthfully I've been dreading it. I haven't really known how to just chime in and say, "Hey sorry I totally abandoned the blog and the message board and all my friends and members!" Yeah... I pretty much suck for that one. I will say that it has been a trying 8 months, a marriage flipped upside down, adventures of living with friends, and starting over fresh in so many ways. There has been heartbreak and there has been joy. There has been hurt and there has been healing. A lot has happened. Its life. It is up, and down, front, then back. That's part of why this whole "Reclaiming" thing is so ingrained into me. It all circles around and I just start over again, making it work... making it mine.

One thing I have had to face very seriously is that there is no magic "arrival" to that perfect home and family, or that perfect sense of self. Life is imperfect. Bad things happen, and often to good people. Things don't work out how you envisioned them. Plans change and you have to adjust and move forward anyway. That's what reclaiming is all about.

Maybe someday when I've lived a long life and learned all the lessons I came to this earth to learn, there will be some sense of right in the whole of the world. For now I'm just working on navigating my way through the muck and cleaning it off from time to time, as we try to make our way.

This is a particular time of Reclaiming for me, and I am so anxious to get back to blogging and interacting with the community of bloggers and friends I love so much. I want to share more of myself on the blog than I have before, from my dreams and goals to the daily goings on around here. I'll share creative endeavors, inspirations, and my general thoughts and feelings about homemaking, life, and who knows what else may escape this wacky head of mine. It is going to be real, and quirky, and hopefully a little fun.

Thanks for sticking with me. :)

Why don't you all help me kick this off by telling me the most important thing that has happened in your life during the last 6 months? I've been so out of the loop, and there's nothing quite as therapeutic and wonderful as connecting with other people.

Happy 9th Birthday Abbi-Girl!

Today my beautiful Abbi girl turns 9! I can't believe how big she is getting and how much she has changed over the past few years.

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We took her to Morgan's Wonderland, a theme park here in San Antonio built specifically for individuals like Abbi who have special needs. Her favorite ride was the Merri-Go-Round. It was so amazing to get to see her be so free and enjoy doing whatever she wanted to do. What a gift it was for all of us, especially her.

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These are the moments I will always hold in my heart, and will never fade away.

Happy Birthday Abbi girl! We love you more than words can express!

Reclaiming My Past

Recently my grandmother came over and brought me three boxes filled with a part of my past I'd never known. I was literally speechless when I opened the boxes and saw hand-sewn quilt tops and pieces staring back at me created by my great, and great great grandmothers. It was as if generations of memories, of a love for fabric, thriftiness, creation, and family came rushing out at me. I could feel it at my core.

According to her, I am the only person she could think of who would care about family treasures like these quilts the same way she does. The only one who would see the history, the value, and the potential inherent in their every stitch.

I often wonder if these women watched their children (my grandmother and her sisters) play while stitching up these quilts. What went through their minds as they sewed? Did they quilt because they loved it, or because it was expected? Was it social for them, or a hobby of their own? Was it just something necessary?

Every single piece was lovingly hand-stitched, often from scraps that were saved from sewing clothes for my grandmother and her sisters in, and before the depression. Some, like the butterfly appliqued quilt pieces below, were made by my daughter's great great great grandmother in 1931 for my daughter's great grandmother when she was the same age as my daughter is today. If that isn't an amazing tie into family I don't know what is.

I don't imagine these women would have wanted their hard work to go for nothing, and that they would want it to be treasured, completed, used, and displayed. I fully plan on completing each of these quilts, hand-quilting each one in turn. It may take me a lifetime, but imagine the joy of presenting a quilt of generations to my grandchildren, that began with their great, great, great, great grandmother... this is what its all about.

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Working Around Dress Code

My youngest, Anna, just started school last week for the very first time. We prepared by doing all of the typical things like talking about how to behave in the classroom, and the fact that she would be there without Mommy and Daddy all day long. Of course, the most exciting part of preparation for me, both growing up and as a parent, was the back to school shopping, and all of the cute new outfits!

Let me preface by saying I am not exactly a fashionista. I love my kids, and want them both to feel like they can express themselves. Abbi is very much like me. Comfort is key. Anna however, is all about style! The girl could spend an entire day just dressing and re-dressing, having fashion shows and pretending.

I knew when we started school that she would need collared shirts without any offensive images and capris or pants. I knew she would need to tuck the shirt in and wear a belt. Short of that, I thought it was pretty open. Wrong! Half of the clothes I bought for her are things that she can't wear to school because they have things like tiny hearts, or an embroidered butterfly. Apparently only polos that are solids and stripes are ok for school. Clearly polka dots are too threatening and distracting for children to get a proper education! (insert eye-roll here).

Because our budget required that we get all of their school clothes from the local thrift store, I couldn't return them to get something within school requirements, so I am having to be creative. I have 4 shirts she can wear right now, and plan to get more soon.

Being that I know Anna would never be happy being unable to express her individuality, I have been working hard trying to figure out how to work around the dress code to give her some outfits that are special and reflect her personality.

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Sparkly shoes, boutique style bows to add to a cute hairstyle, adding a bow to the polo, and making our own belt out of a piece of stripped fabric all made this outfit cute and full of Anna-esque personality.

I am thinking of doing things like adding unique shoelaces and accessorizing with cute jewelry like some old fashioned friendship bracelets. I also double checked the dress code and while it specifies the color and style the pants have to be, it doesn't say that they must be plain. I might be able to embroider or add a little glitz to some of her pants as well.

I would more than welcome any and all ideas on how to let her spunky personality shine through, even with the dress code. Any other suggestions?? :)

Happy Easter!

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I hope your Easter is filled with love and family and fun!! :)

Walk for Autism

On April 24th I will be walking with a team of other supporters for the national Walk for Autism event.

As most of you know, Autism is a huge part of our lives here in the Rose household. My beautiful Abbi girl shows us a little more every day what it is like to live inside her world.

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I will be walking in support of this amazing little girl.

Walk for Autism has a mission of raising funds to help support special education opportunities and early intervention for kids with Autism. As a parent I can tell you just how needed these services are. Abbi wasn't recognized as Autistic until she was nearly 7 years old. In a country where we have amazing medical care and good schools that can help catch and label these things, that is unacceptable. Other children, like Abbi, deserve the chance to start fighting their battles earlier.

I walk for the years Abbi lost, and for the years other children can gain through programs like this. I walk for our future as a family, and as a country. I walk out of love for my daughter.

If you are interested in joining Walk for Autism, you can sign up here.

I am accepting donations toward my walk as well, if anyone feels so led. Every little bit helps. Even $5, $50... whatever you can do to help kids like my Abbi girl. Every donation is appreciated, and my heartfelt thanks go to each of you!!

For those of you who support this walk, and for those of you who have supported and continue to support us personally, I thank you more than words can say. It takes a community to make things work. Thank you!!

Mini Pizzas The Easy Way

Last night we were running around like crazy trying to get everything done before we headed out to an Autism photo shoot I was doing for hubby's unit at work. Because Abbi was in it, we were all going, and as luck would have it, we thought we had an hour longer than we really did to get ready and go. When I realized we had to leave in 30 minutes, I made a very quick on-the-go dinner that we all enjoyed, and thought I'd share it with you!



1 can of refrigerated biscuits
Pasta sauce
Italian Seasoning (optional)
Additional toppings of your choice


* Preheat oven to 350*
* On a baking sheet: Flatten biscuits with palm of hand until they are about the size of your palm
* Spread sauce on top of biscuits
* Add any toppings you like
* Sprinkle cheese heavily on top of sauce/toppings
* Sprinkle with Italian seasoning
* Bake 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and edges are golden


Yes, I'm one of "those" people now. Its not my fault, I promise. ;)

When one of my wonderful members over at the RTH message board (*cough*kellymcdonald*cough*) posted that she'd started a Reclaiming the Home group over at SparkPeople, I had to join right? I mean its my group, and I should be involved with it in all its capacities... right?

So its not really that all the sudden I'm all gung-ho about dieting (eeek! The "D" word!), or exercising (AHH! The E word!), or even that I feel ready to make a big commitment.

Its really just that I need a change, and I know I need to get healthy. Why not now? I didn't have a good answer, and this little nudge seemed to be a good one, so I went with it.

I was talking to my mom last night about something completely unrelated and she said something pretty wise. She said that with most things in life it can be simply dumbed down to one of two answers. It either IS or it ISN'T.

So... when I saw this come up today, I said to myself, "Self, is what you're doing working for you, or is it not?" Not.

And there you have it. The very brilliant, deep discussion that led me to this life changing point. Sometimes simple is good.

If you want to see what I'm up to and follow along in my progress (or beat me with a wet noodle when I don't update SP for a week and eat candy), then check out my SparkPage here. I'd love it if you would join up too, so we can mourn the loss of everything wonderful and lazy and delicious together.

If you do join, the RTH group can be found here.

In the mean time, I have written a haiku to mourn my beloved Coca Cola, which shall be the first change that I make, kicking and screaming, in this horrid journey toward better health. Er... I mean, yay healthy!

Sugar and caffeine

Red with bubbles and syrup

You are mine no more


The "Infamous" Cheese Balls

I made these cheese balls for a party recently and got such rave reviews (read: demands for more, and threats against my life if I didn't produce them in a timely manner) that i felt I should share the recipe for any of you who wanted to risk such a thing yourselves!


These were such a happy accident. I was in a hurry and had forgotten a few things at the store for the original recipe from Recipe Zaar. I had to make do with what I had, and create something all my own. This is how it went:


~ 2 pkgs cream cheese
~ 2 Tbs. minced garlic
~ 3 oz beef jerky (I just used "original" flavor)
~ 1 to 1-1/2 cups honey mustard and onion pretzels (I used Snyder's of Hannover)


~ Mix together cream cheese and garlic by mashing well with a fork.
~ Refrigerate 30 min if the cheese has gotten too soft to work with.
~ Roll into 1" balls, and refrigerate until topping is finished.
~ While the balls are refrigerating, place beef jerky and pretzels into food processor and process until it resembles fine crumbs.
~ Pour jerky/pretzel mixture onto a plate or flat surface.
~ Get balls out of the fridge, and start rolling them in the jerky/pretzel mixture.
~ Refrigerate until ready to serve.
~ Easiest to serve with tooth picks poked in or at the ready for guests to use.

* These are so simple, but I just love them, and already have "orders" for more. Have fun and enjoy them!

{This Moment} (via Soule Mama)

I am going to borrow a tradition from SouleMama this week. Feel free to join in!

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. Photos - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, visit SouleMama and leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. Happy Friday, friends!



A Trip to the Rodeo


One of the things we've tried to do, wherever we went, was to make the most out of the local attractions. The Rodeo is a huge part of Texas culture, and so we went with Anna, hoping she would have a good time! She seemed to really love it, especially getting to ride the pony! She has been talking about that for days now.

Someday I'd love to have my own farm, where she can run and play with the animals. :)

Breakfast for Those Who Are Champions of Breakfast

"Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper." Adelle Davis


This is definitely a breakfast for a king. Fresh squeezed orange juice, a banana, strawberries, a slice of turkey bacon, and breakfast hash. This is one of my favorite meals, so I thought I would share the recipe with you all.


~ 2 Leftover Baked Potatoes (or go ahead and bake them fresh in the microwave), Cubed
~ 2 apples, cored and chopped into bite sized pieces
~ 1/2 onion, chopped in tiny pieces
~ 4 Eggs
~ 4 Tbs. Olive oil
~ Salt and Pepper


~ Warm 2 Tbs oil in skillet on medium-hi
~ Cook apples and onions for 10 minutes or until mostly soft
~ Remove Apples and onions from skillet, and add another Tbs oil
~ Add potatoes and allow them to brown, then turn, and brown some more
~ Add apples and onions and stir.
~ Make space in pan for eggs. Add last Tbs oil to grease the pan and drop eggs on top of oil.
~ Allow eggs to cook to desired consistency.
~ Stir eggs into hash
~ Sprinkle with salt and pepper as desired.

This is one of my favorite recipes and is very similar to my "fall in a skillet" meal, except instead of chicken, I added eggs, and didn't add any herbs. Feel free to experiment with adding other breakfast type foods, such as sausage! As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts when you give this one a try.

Bruschetta, RTH Style

I have been craving Bruschetta ever since I had it at dinner the night Rachel and I went to Rent in March of 2009. That's right... a year ago. A whole YEAR. I have been craving this like mad! It has been so very hard to find fresh basil here. I finally gave up and found an alternative, and couldn't have been happier! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!



~ Fresh bread, cut into slices
~ Butter for back-sides of bread
~ Jar of pesto sauce (I used Classico)
~ Fresh tomatoes
~ Mozarella cheese


~ Preheat oven to 450*
~ Butter back sides of bread and place on a baking sheet
~ Chop tomatoes in small pieces. Stir in 2 Tbs. pesto with every lg. tomato used.
~ Spread pesto on top side of bread, and top with tomatoes
~ Sprinkle generously with mozarella
~ Bake 5-10 minutes or until bread is lightly toasted and cheese is melted.

This is another super-simple recipe that packs a wonderful punch of flavor, and is suited to impress. Eat as a meal, or as a side dish. Works well as an appetizer too!

This is one of my favorite dishes. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! As always, I love to hear if you use one of my recipes. I enjoy reading your reviews!

World's Best Chips

I love having one or two things to really show off when guests come over to eat. This is one of those things that most people only ever eat out of a bag, instead of fresh and home-made. Taking this added little step really makes all the difference in feeling like your guests get an extra-special, one-of-a-kind meal. As a bonus, it is much cheaper to make an entire batch of tortilla chips than to buy them in a bag, and they taste infinitely better.

These go great with any Mexican food main dish with salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, or queso dip. They also go great with soups and stews! For potlucks, these are great to bring with you if you're bringing a delicious spinch-artichoke dip, or onion dip. They are also amazing with hummus! You can have them ready and waiting for your guests to snack on before the meal, like an appetizer, or serve as a festive side-dish!



~ 1 package soft flour tortillas

~ Vegetable oil (or your favorite cooking oil)


~ Cut tortillas into thin strips about 1" wide, and 2" long. They don't have to be perfect - they just need to be about "chip sized."

~ Warm oil (1/2 to 3/4 inch deep) on stove in a skillet on medium heat

~ Cook chips about 10 at a time. Place them in the pan gently to start to fry them. Flip over when lightly golden. Cook a few more seconds until lightly golden on the other side. Wait to add more chips until this batch is completely finished. It just makes things a bit easier!

~ Remove from oil and let chips cool on a paper towel away from the stove.

* NOTE: You will notice that the chips are crisp but not hard and crunchy. You want them to have a slightly chewy consistency. They should be mostly crisp, but should not break or crumble too easily. It is okay if the chips bubble a bit. If you don't want them to bubble, using your spatula, gently press down on the chip in the pan when you see it start to rise. Personally, I like a little bit of bubble. Look at that great texture!


You can salt these if you want to, but I find that they have so much flavor that they don't need it, especially if serving them with something to dip them in.


Handspun Head Scarf

A couple years ago I spun up some camel that I had received as a gift from a fellow Ravelry member, into this beautiful light-fingering-weight yarn. I held onto it forever it seemed, because I just couldn't figure out what was worthy of using it for. I wanted it to be something that would be seen, and could be used over and over again, and that wouldn't get a lot of wear and tear with washing.

The other day I realized exactly what I should make with it, a head scarf!


I tried out a new stitch pattern and "winged it," so to speak. I didn't write down my steps as I did it, so I don't have a pattern for this one, though I am going to try to come up with one soon, if I can duplicate it in a way that makes me happy.


Here is an action shot of it being worn after being blocked. Don't mind the model. ;)


I am liking the head scarf look these days, and plan to make a bunch more in different patterns and yarns. Do you wear head scarves much?

It Snowed! In TEXAS!

A few days ago, it actually snowed here in San Antonio. Anna had never seen snow that she could remember (we had an ice storm in Oklahoma when she was a baby), so she was absolutely enamored!

I love this expression. It looks like she's thinking, "What IS this stuff?"


Then suddenly, "OMG its SNOW!!!"


After that there was no keeping her in one spot. She just ran and ran until the snow turned back into sleet and rain, and I made her come inside.

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I remember that feeling as a child, falling in love with every snowfake. I remember being so sad when they melted, like friends lost until the next freeze when they would return in little white puffs raining down to greet me.

What a gift those few minutes were for her. A memory made for always.

Blogging for Bernat

I'm proud to announce that I am one of the newest bloggers over at Bernat Yarns. Come check me out over there if you get a chance! I just posted a new start to a project. Hmmmm.... wonder what this will become? Come stop by to see!


Makin' "Uffins"

Anna and I love to make "uffins" a couple of times a week. She has gotten so good at it that she can make them almost by herself (with the exception of the oven). She is so proud of herself!

We have been doing this routine for as long as I can remember. I think we began it when Anna was just a baby, about a year old. She loved to watch me pour and do hand-over-hand stirring. She has always loved helping me in the kitchen.

She asks me regularly if we can make "uffins," and I always say yes, because... really... who can say no to that face?

Do you have any routines or traditions you do with your kids that they love?