Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bloggin’ Chocolate Eatin’ Coffee Drinkin’ Gabbin’ Gals and God.

There it sat… like a big blank piece of paper handed to me in school. The teacher had just assigned an impromptu writing assignment due in 20 minutes. I had no clue where to start. I was in shock. What do I write? Where do I start? Will anyone read this blog? What am I doing?

That’s how I felt the day I decided to start this blog.
I had read a few blogs here and there, but hadn’t given much thought to it. I had been busy building my website, and had never planned to do much with blogging. I had some blogger friends that seemed to be having fun, but I wasn’t sure it was for me. Lately, as my decorating site had been growing, I was feeling the need to connect with women in a more personal and heart-sharing level. There seemed to be something missing and I needed to find out what it was.

Then, I began to pray for God to lead me and show me what He wanted for my blog and for me. I knew through my less-than-normal life experiences, struggles, hurts, triumphs, and victories God had things for me to share, hearts to reach and hands to hold.

Like a huge door opening wide, like a big breeze had just blown through my back door, I stumbled upon the Relevant Conference.

Relevant was going to be a gathering of Christian bloggers, who had a common interest to blog with a purpose while blessing their family and others. As I read that, I knew this was for me. That’s all I needed to hear! It came like a shot in the arm, at just the right moment.

Immediately after signing up for the conference, it was like the floodgates opened up. I had instant friends and tweeting peeps to join me in my blogging journey. I quickly felt encouraged by common hearts who would come alongside me in this journey of faith, home, marriage, mothering, and LIFE. I began to read blog after blog of women sharing their hearts on a common life path. I instantly felt connected.

As you can see I am now over my shock and stage-fright and getting my feet wet with this thing called blogging. But it is so much more…

As I look forward to the Relevant conference, I pray God will reveal my unique voice for my blog. It’s easy to feel intimidated by those who are further along than me in their blogging pursuits. Maybe feel I have nothing unique to give or say. However, I know God has a unique purpose and plan for me in any endeavor I pursue. I am on the Road to Relevant as a jumpstart to my blogging pursuits and very ready to take in all God has for me in that special weekend.

The best part of the conference will be meeting face to face for the first time, all my new-found tweetin’,bloggin’, chocolate eatin’, coffee drinkin’, gabbin’ gals who love God!

Hope you can join me. See ya there!
Are you bringing the chocolate?

If you want to know more Relevant gals and see the blog that has become a place to meet other christian blogger gals like me. Head over to Gather Inspirit where you can even join a forum and get in on the fun!
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Make Your Own Homemade Cleaners And Save Money!

Are you looking for ways to save money? Making your own homemade cleaners is a great way to start. It also cuts down on the toxic fumes that are so obtrusive to us all! Here are 4 great recipes to get you started.

Homemade Window Cleaner
Mix together the following and put into a spray bottle
1/4 - 1/2 tsp of liquid detergent
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups water
Use this cleaner as you would any other store-bought multi-purpose cleaner. The key to this cleaner is the soap. It cuts the wax residue from the commercial brands of window cleaners you might have used in the past.

Homemade Oven Cleaner
1 Cup Baking Soda
2-5 drops of liquid detergent
Sprinkle water generously over the bottom of the oven, then cover the grime with enough baking soda that the surface it totally white. Sprinkle some more water over the top. Let the mixture set overnight.
You can easily wipe up the grease the next morning because the grime will have loosened. When you have cleaned up the worst of the mess, dab a bit of liquid detergent or soap on a sponge, and wash the remaining residue from the oven. If this recipe doesn't work for you it is probably because you didn't use enough baking soda and/or water.

Homemade All Purpose Cleaner
1/2 tsp. washing soda
1-2 Drops of liquid soap
2 cups hot tap water
Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake until the washing soda has dissolved. Apply and wipe off with a sponge or rag.

1/2 teaspoon oil, such as olive (or jojoba, a liquid wax)
1/4 cup vinegar or fresh lemon juice
Mix the ingredients in a glass jar. Dab a soft rag into the solution and wipe onto wood surfaces. Cover the glass jar and store indefinitely.

Happy Cleaning!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Li'l Cheddar Meat Loaves Recipe...yummy!

I thought I would share another of our family favorite recipes from my friends at Taste Of Home.
I have been making this great meatloaf recipe for years. It is unique with the cheddar cheese, which makes it very moist.
Then...I can't say enough good about that wonderful sauce over the top, its scrumptious. If you have kids that don't like meatloaf, I can almost guarantee they will like this one!

8 Servings
Prep: 15 min. Bake: 25 min.


1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground beef
2/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons prepared mustard

In a large bowl, whisk egg and milk. Stir in the cheese, oats, onion and salt. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into eight loaves; place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, brown sugar and mustard; spoon over loaves.
Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until no pink remains and a meat thermometer reads 160°. Yield: 8 servings.

picture and recipe courtesy of Taste Of Home.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Easy Crockpot Country Style BBQ Ribs!

I just made our family favorite ribs today and wanted to share my recipe. It's really easy and really yummy!


*2-3 pkgs Country Style Boneless Pork Ribs
(any amount depending on the size of servings you want or whatever your crock pot will hold)
*1-2 onions sliced
*garlic powder
*2 bottles BBQ sauce (any kind)
Our personal favorite is Baby Ray BBQ sauce (I find it at Walmart) because it doesn't have as much of a vinegar/acid taste as some, and is sweeter.

Layer pork ribs in crock pot and as you layer them, season them with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onions. After filling the crock pot pour water over the ribs, enough to almost cover them completely. (leave room for the juices and fat that will come to the surface from the ribs.

Cook on high for 4-5 hours or until very tender when poked with a fork. They should be falling apart. Check periodically and move them around so they all get cooked well.

Remove ribs from all the fat and juice within the crockpot and place in an ungreased baking pan. I leave behind any big pieces of fat that have fallen off the meat.

Pour barbeque sauce over ribs till they are generously covered.

Cover with foil.

Bake @375 for about 30 min or until sauce has had a chance to heat and saturate the meat.

These ribs make great leftovers and freeze well.
I like to serve these with veggies, cornbread and salad.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Worthy Is The Lamb!

On this Sunday I wanted to post one of my favorite worship songs, sung by Kari Jobe! Listen and be blessed.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Joining The Ultimate Blog Party!

Ultimate Blog Party 2010
Thanks for stopping by to join me for this blogging party hosted by 5 minutes for moms!

I am brand new to blogging, and just started a couple months ago. I kind of jumped in with 2 feet as I tend to do with any project I am excited about. I am not new to the web world as I have been building a website called, Cottage Home Decorating , where I share hundreds of decorating ideas every day to viewers all over the world. The website was born out of a need to make an income after quitting work to stay home with my kids.

After 2 years of web building I have decide to plunge into the blogger world, with a desire to become more personal and talk about a range of topics beyond decorating.

Now here I am joining a blog party that I just learned about only days ago! I figured I have nothing to lose.... right? I want to meet more blogger moms, and women who are on this fabulous journey with me.

So Who Am I? Since my blog is rather new, these simple facts might give you a peek view into my life and an idea of what this blog is going to be all about. I hope we can become friends!

20 Quick Facts About Me...
1. I have 3 busy boys, and a wonderful husband.

2. I love all shades of pinks and whites.

3. I love my homemade vanilla lattes more than Starbuck's. ( but I settle when neccessary! )

4. I homeschool not because its easy, but because I feel its the best choice for my boys.

5. I have 2 babies in heaven, one of which I carried to 7 months. I lost the first to a rare chromosome disorder and was devastated.

6.I went through divorce after losing 2 babies.

7. I thought I would never have more children after my first son and losing 2 babies.

8.Today I have twin boys who are 3 years old! A true miracle...(story to follow)

9.I have seen God redeem, restore and renew our family.

10.I don't have an interior decorating degree, but just go by natural instinct and love color and design.

11.I live in a 100 year old farmhouse that is going to be getting a major remodel this year. Are you ready for the ride? (soon to be documented here!)

12.I grew up as a P.K. (preacher's kid) and a M.K. (missionary kid).

13.I was homeschooled as a child when no one homeschooled except MK's. There were 2 curriculums available!

14. I lived in Africa and Lebanon.

15. I hate to move now and like to stay in one place, since I moved all my childhood.

16. I never meet a stranger. I love meeting new and interesting people.

17. I have many acquaintances but very few close friends that I can bear my heart to.

18. I am getting ready to publish my first ebook on decorating and have plans for more in the future.

19. I hope to someday guest blog for other sites.

20. I feel my calling in life is to bring hope and inspiration to others from the tragedies, hurts, and struggles God has brought me through.

You can join me on Facebook.... Cottage Home Decorating
And you can follow me on Twitter .... @TheCottageChick
Be sure to Subscribe here so you won't miss out on my blog posts. Lots coming your way!

I look forward to meeting you, come join the party and let's be friends!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cheap and Easy Decorating Ideas for Spring - Part #3

Today we are finishing up our 3 part series on Spring decorating ideas for our home. I hope you are ready to clean out, add color and get your home ready for the coming season.

Step #1: We talked about creating space in our home, decluttering and making room for our beautiful decor.

Step #2: We talked about using color in many ways through our home. Learning to find interesting items for adding spring color.

Now onto...

Step #3- We are going to look at some simple and easy projects we can do to add personality and uniqueness to our home for spring.

Find out how to make this funky and fun lamp shade here! I love this idea and how fun to scout around to find something interesting to make your own unique hanging light!

Look at this fabulous colorful bathroom. The decoupaged mirror is loads of fun, and look at the simply decorated shower curtain!

A beautiful sun room...don't you just love the chandelier? Look at the clues in this photo to get great ideas. I love the clear glass framed leaves hanging in the window. What a wonderful nature inspired project. How about the shutters hung horizontal above the windows? This is a lovely room full of great ideas.

A simple centerpiece any of us can achieve! You could use other fruits and flowers. Let your imagination go wild. What would this look like with small limes or lemons and tulips or roses? You decide, and go try it.

Ceiling medallions used for wall decor. This is a great decorating accent. These are a wonderful cheap and easy idea. Readily available at your local home improvement store. These ceiling decorations are very lightweight and easy to hang. Spray paint them in your favorite color, and voila....instant art!

I love pots of grass growing in the house. If you have kids, they will love watching it grow and it's fun to trim as it grows. You might want to plant pots of herbs for cooking and cat nip for your favorite feline. Yes, plantings are home decoration! Green plants add a fresh spring feel and look to your home!

If you want to know more about these projects you see, you can go here to Better Homes and Gardens for a complete slideshow of these and more spring decorating ideas. (Photos from Better Homes and Gardens.)

Go have fun decorating your home inside and out with new Spring Inspiration!

Best Yummy Peanut Butter Pie!

I have been making this wonderful peanut butter pie for years. I found this recipe from a Taste Of Home magazine years ago. It is a family favorite and I make it often for special occasions. Its an easy no-bake, no-fail recipe. Since I have made this torte a lot, I have learned some tips along the way. You can read my notes at the end of the recipe.

Peanut Butter Cheese Torte


1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup finely chopped peanuts

2 cups creamy peanut butter
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, stiffly beaten

4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons hot coffee
Coarsely chopped peanuts, optional


Combine all crust ingredients. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 10-in. springform pan. Chill. For filling, beat peanut butter, cream cheese, sugar, butter and vanilla in a large bowl on high until smooth, about 2 minutes. Fold in whipped cream. Gently spoon into crust; refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. For topping, melt chocolate with coffee until smooth. Spread over chilled torte. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Garnish with chopped peanuts if desired. Yield: 14-16 servings.


My Tips:
*I double the crust ingredients and split the filling. It makes a very big tall torte and is very rich. By splitting the filling you get 2 pies out of the recipe! Feel free to make it in pie pans if you don't have a spring form pan, it turns out either way.

*I freeze the pies when finished and thaw out only enough to slice and then put back. This torte can get soft quickly, and I found that freezing this recipe worked wonderfully and it kept better in the freezer.

*I don't make the chocolate topping suggested. I buy my favorite chocolate ice cream syrup and drizzle it over each individual piece as I serve it.

Picture and recipe courtesy of Taste of Home.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Turn A Closet Into A Beautiful Workspace!

I couldn't resist showing this fantastic example of a project anyone of us could tackle. You could make this project as personal as you like. Use your imagination and go wild with it.

Do you have a closet or unused nook in your home that you can turn into useable space? This is a perfect example of just that. Thanks to Country Living for giving us this wonderful inspiration!

I can picture this closet project done with any color combination, and theme. Maybe you like florals, stripes or animal prints. Maybe some bold colors and patterns. Or you might want a more subdued and soft palette and feel. You can decide.

Love inspired!

Cheap and Easy Decorating Ideas for Spring - Part #2

Yesterday we talked about decluttering in Part #1 of our spring decorating venture. After we declutter it allows us a clean slate and gives us room to breathe and to be creative with our home. Spring is all about letting in the light and giving our home an airy look and feel. Decluttering is a huge key in making that happen!

Now onto Part #2...

Add Color!

Everyone loves color, There is so much that color can do for us. Especially with a new season. Is there some new color that you could add into your home? If you add small accents of your new color choice through out your home, you will be amazed how it pops out and gives a fresh spark to your home.

Look to your local TJ Maxx and Target stores for clues about the latest decorating color out. Take a trip to a furniture store and see what is being shown in home accents. Look in the bedding departments and you will quickly get inspired by new fluffy bedding in beautiful spring colors~

One big trick for keeping things cheap and easy is to add accents that are easily changed out.

How should we add color for this spring?

#1 Paint- this had to go as number one on my list. Paint is the cheapest and best way to add color and gives the greatest impact.
Here are some cheap paint ideas:

*Paint one accent wall in your home.
*Paint accent tables, chairs, and shelves and new shade for the season.
*Get some cans of spray paint in your favorite color and cover terra cotta pots from the hardware store, they will add great color to your windowsills and porches.
*Paint a wicker chair or basket.

Look around your house and see what could use fresh coat of paint. You will be amazed when giving something a fresh coat of paint, how happy you feel!

Other ways to add color...

#2-Throw pillows placed on your sofas and chairs add instant color.

#3-Throw blankets and quilts add texture, coziness, and color quickly.

#4-Candles are useful and colorful for the season, and smell lovely at the same time. I love candles for the ambience they create in the home. Buy candles in spring colors and scents!

#5-Flowers planted in pots indoor and out. Nothing says Spring like flowers. Be sure to plant some flowers where they can be viewed from your favorite window. Add flowers in pots to your entryway to welcome all who enter your home. Flowers add beauty no matter what the view!
#6-Green living plants add health and represent new growth and life. Live plants add a calming and peaceful addition to any room. You could think about replanting your house plants in new pots for the season, bringing great color and nature together.

#7-Plates, woven placemats and plate chargers all make great color accent for walls. These items are readily found at your local stores. As seasons change, the stores put these on sale. Look for interesting plates with botanicals, florals, leaf designs, and nature inspired motifs.

#8-Fresh Fruit of the season placed in glass vases, urns and bowls. Lemons, limes and oranges are easily found at the grocery store and when placed in the home can be decor! Citrus colors are cheery and fresh!

More colorful items easily found at thrift stores and flea markets are: Vases, colored glass items, pitchers, teacups, candle holders, wicker baskets, picture frames. All of which you can look for adding color or painting.

See you tomorow for part #3 of our Spring series....Go live in color!

Cheap and Easy Decorating Ideas for Spring - Part #1

Its the time of year when we begin to feel regenerated after a long winter. Nature is poking her head out at us, and we want to focus on the new season.

Over the next few days we are going to talk about some easy decorating ideas that you we can implement for Spring. The best part is that all the ideas I will share with you can be done for little money!

Step #1 may seem boring and not exciting at all. You may wonder why I even bring it up, since it really doesn't seem it has anything to do with decorating! Its....DECLUTTERING!

Yeah you heard it. I am a firm believer that all good decorating starts with this step first. Can I hear you groaning?
Decluttering is the magic behind all good design and decorating.

Simple... but true. If we don't get rid of the things that are crowding our counters and entryways, then we won't be able to even see our fun new decorating efforts. All of our work will be in vain. Having too much stuff can get in the way of seeing the beauty in our homes.

I have learned this the hard way in my own life. Yup you heard it! I have been on a two year journey of teaching myself to let go and declutter. I used to hang onto too much stuff. The problem is, I like a lot of things! However, I have slowly been learning the art of saying "no" and "letting go".

I realized that messes and extra stuff were robbing me of energy and joy. I am still working on this in my house! It is a process and I am getting there. Somehow clutter finds its way into all our homes, and before long it can take over quickly. You will be amazed how once you start purging, how much easier it is to let go.

So let's get started! For now just start at the "hotspots" in your house. The areas most seen and with the highest traffic.

Grab 3 garbage bags or bins and label them with the following:

As you declutter fit your things into one of those three categories.

You may be asking - how do I do that? How do I make those decisions? Here is a list of questions I ask myself when decluttering. They help me choose quickly and decisively

*Do I LOVE it?
*Does it bless me and my family?
*Does it bring me enjoyment?
*Is it a neccessary item?
*Do I use it, and how often?
*When was the last time I wore or used it?

These questions are a starting point and your list may be a bit different. But you get the idea. So hurry up and go get decluttering and making space. Come back tomorrow and we will talk spring and get some cheap and easy decorating ideas for welcoming the season.

See ya then!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Get Dressed Challenge

Today I started the "Get Dressed Challenge"!

Yup that's right, here I am on day #1!

The challenge is all about getting dressed and looking presentable for my family by 8:00 AM every day! (God help me!) No sweats here or tattered clothes, makeup on, and hair done. Today I even added my favorite jewelry to the mix!

I am not alone in this new challenge, as I am joining other great gals who want to try to start this new habit also.

Oh yeah, I have tried this kind of challenge before many times over by myself, but never quite accomplished it with consistency. I love the feeling when I can get up and get ready for the day early, somehow I feel better about myself and much more productive.

Here's a big "shout-out" to Sarah Mae over at Like A Warm Cup Of Coffee for jump-startin' us and gettin' us linked up.

What about you? Do you want help in this area? Do you feel like you need a jolt in the arm to get you moving? Come join us ladies and we will have fun together.

See ya around and I'll keep you posted on my progress along the way.