Monday, May 31, 2010

Ikea Shopping Trip

I got to go to Ikea for the first time this weekend! Tad and I were going up to VA to see his family this weekend anyway, so we decided to come up a night early so we could head to the Woodbridge Ikea on Friday! We (the girls) were there from 12:00 noon until 6:00PM! It was quite the adventure. (Oh, and after Ikea, we went to Potomac Mills and walked around for another couple of hours! We were pooped!)

We found all kinds of bargains! Tad's mom found some bookshelves to use in her library (or, as it is also called, "La Salon de la Granmomma"). Stephanie bought some dressers for her bedroom.
Angela and I split a cart, so half of those goodies are mine. She found a pretty lampshade and matching pillow!
Tad and his dad came up to pick everything up for us.
We stuffed the Expedition!
It was so much fun to have a Girls Day! We wish we could be closer to all of our family, so we cherish times like these.
As I get things set up in our home, I will start posting pictures of our many Ikea finds!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Week Thirty

I'm sorry I don't have a "normal" photo for week 30! On Friday I was shopping at Ikea with my mom-in-law and two sisters-in-law, so I didn't have a chance to take my usual belly shot. (I'll share more about our weekend trip soon!) Here's a link to last week's.

I've been feeling pretty well overall! I have continued to have some dizzy spells, but my midwife said this is really normal. She also said the pain I've experienced in my sciatic nerve is normal as well. I have not started "swelling" anywhere yet (ankles, etc.), so I am thankful for that.

Baby girl is still active, and my midwife said she is probably head-down already! I can feel where her little feet are (usually up in my ribs, haha). She might start to get less active as she runs out of room in here, though! She is just under three pounds now.

We continue to be thankful for the healthy pregnancy so far!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Nursery Project: Wall Art

We don't have a lot of wall space in our little nursery, but early on I decided I was going to make some tree wall art using the same fabrics we've been using throughout our nursery. I plan on making a second tree (curving the opposite way) so I can hang them next to each other above our baby girl's changing table. I love how the first one turned out!
Want to see how our nursery is progressing? Check out our previous posts on the fabric birds, cloth cube, bunting banner, light switch cover, and white frames that I made.

Coming soon: bird mobile reveal!

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Minestrone Soup

This recipe is based on a recipe I found recently when I was doing a search for ways to use fresh basil and oregano. I changed it a little bit, but it's really one of those recipes that has lots of "artistic license," i.e., you can change it up a little bit each time you make it! It's a wonderful meatless meal and is very filling. Oh, and you're definitely going to want to make some buttermilk biscuits or Angel Rolls to go with it!
Minestrone Soup

2 Tbsp. olive oil
5 potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped (more, if desired!)
1 small yellow squash, sliced (you could also use zucchini or some of both)
1/2 can of tomato sauce (about 7.5 oz.) (original recipe calls for 1 6-oz. can of tomato paste)
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans (also called white or northern), drained and rinsed (original recipe calls for kidney beans; I would add both next time)
2 cups chicken broth (original recipe calls for 1 14-oz. can vegetable broth)
1 1/2 quarts of water (may need to add more)
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil (I used a combination of fresh and dried)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1 Tbsp. salt
pepper to taste
1 cup uncooked pasta (rotini, penne, elbow macaroni, mini shells, etc.)

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, squash, and any other vegetables you desire into the pot. Add tomato sauce, beans, broth, and water. Season with basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir 30 minutes until vegetable are tender. In another pot, cook pasta until it is al dente. Add pasta to soup pot and serve.

The next time I make this I am going to add kidney beans (in addition to the white beans) and a can of diced Italian tomatoes for a little more kick.

This soup is delicious! Serves 12. Enjoy!

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Kindred Connection: In the Beginning

Windy Poplars
To join this week's Kindred Connection party, head on over to Windy Poplars! This week's question is: What made you want to start your blog?

I started Feathers in Our Nest when my husband and I got married last October. I started it for two main reasons:
1) to keep in touch with family and friends who were now a state away
2) to chronicle our journey through life together

We are both very close to our families and we miss them dearly! I wanted for them to have an easy way of seeing what we were "up to" on a daily basis (and provide some reassurance that we were getting along okay!). I thought having a blog would be the best way to share pictures and updates with lots of people at once.

I used to journal when I was a teenager, and I stopped doing that in late high school and through college. I really regret that now, since I feel like part of my life is "missing" (or at least is undocumented)! It is my hope that I will be able to look back at our blog in years to come and remember all of the wonderful experiences we shared during our first years of marriage.

Since beginning our blog, I have found many other reasons to continue it! I love being able to share recipes, frugal ideas, projects we've made, baby updates, and more!

I have also found many other blogs I enjoy following and I am constantly learning from them how to be a better wife and homemaker.

So, what made you want to start your blog? Do tell all at the Windy Poplars Kindred Connection Party!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Frugal & Fabulous: Saving Money on Traveling

Our summer is ridiculously busy this year! We are so excited about everything we're getting to do, but we realize that it's going to be CRAZY! We are attending three weddings within five weeks, all of which are out of state (in three different states), and we're probably going on two other out of state trips as well. Oh, and we're taking 10 teens to youth camp for a week (yes, I will be 34 weeks pregnant at the time...) and planning a children's VBS-type event on 6 consecutive Tuesday mornings. We also have lots of other youth and children's events throughout the summer, and Tad is preaching a few times. I will start having my midwife appointments every two weeks pretty soon, and we're taking three baby-related classes (child birthing, breastfeeding, and baby care). Oh yes, and we are HAVING a baby this summer!

Maybe your summer is not as busy as ours is, and maybe it is even busier, but I wanted to share some of the things that we have done and are doing in order to make our out of town traveling as easy and frugal as possible.
1) Overnight Kits
Tad and I both have overnight kits that have all of the toiletries we need for a weekend trip. You can purchase empty bottles at big-box or drug stores (and I recently snagged a set at the Dollar Tree!). I filled the bottles with our toiletries (shampoo, cleanser, hair gel, etc.) so that we can just toss the kits in our bags and go! We share a travel-size toothpaste so that we only have to take one of those. Keeping our overnight kits stocked saves us money (we don't have to buy travel-sized shampoos) and time (we aren't scrambling to pack our toiletries on the morning we are leaving for our trip).

2) Packed Meals
When we go on a road trip, I try to pack at least one of the meals we will be eating while we are on the road. Some good things to pack in your cooler are: deli meat sandwiches, chicken salad, BLTs, wraps, fresh veggies (baby carrots are easy!), fruit (apples and grapes are good choices), water bottles (if you really want, you can add Crystal Light packets to them), yogurt or applesauce, and crackers or chips. We've even packed tossed salad, but that's not something I would recommend the driver eating. ;) Don't forget to pack paper plates and napkins as well.

3) Packed Snacks
I know that if I don't pack plenty of snacks, we will be tempted to buy (unhealthy) snacks at gas stations along the way. Last time we traveled, I packed a whole bag of healthy snacks from our pantry so we had plenty for on the way and on the way back! Some ideas of good "car snacks" that don't need to be kept in a cooler are: goldfish crackers, peanut butter crackers, mini rice cakes, apples, bananas, 100-calorie packs of cookies or crackers, raisins, dried fruit, peanuts, granola bars, and muffins (especially nice if you are traveling in the morning). I also "pack" to-go cups of coffee if it's an early morning trip!

4) Clean Car
I think that it is ESSENTIAL to start a road trip with a clean car! No, you don't necessarily have to go through a car wash or vacuum under every seat, but at least take out all of the items that don't belong (frisbees, books, other random items) and throw away all of the trash! You'll feel so much nicer traveling in a clean car.

5) Stocked Car
Make sure you have a few emergency items in case you break down on your trip. We have a car kit that has road flares, a first aid kid, a poncho, etc. It is also important to have a flashlight and extra batteries! In the winter we always keep a big blanket in the car when we travel, and in the summer it is a good idea to have a jug of water. A road map is helpful if your GPS fails!

6) Things to Listen To
Being married to a pastor, I get to hear lots of sermons while we travel! :) Tad often listens to sermons on road trips as a way of redeeming the time and preparing for future lessons. We also like to have a supply of good music available to listen to as well. (We like, among others, Indelible Grace and Sovereign Grace Music.) Another good way to pass the time is by listening to audio books! There is a huge supply of free audio books here at Libravox.

7) Sheetz Rewards Program
We signed up for this free program several months ago. (You can go here to learn more.) Just for signing up you get a one-time deal of $.50 off per gallon! You just swipe your card every time you purchase gas or food at Sheetz, and you accumulate points over time. But here's the best part: card-holders get $.59 ANY SIZE drinks all the time at participating stores! (This includes all their fountain drinks, coffee, and slushes!) So, when Tad needs a "perk-me-up" on a five-hour drive (I don't drink soda anymore), Sheetz is the place we stop! Can't beat $.59 for a large fountain drink or slush.

Do you have any tips for frugal and easy car trips?

For more posts in the Frugal and Fabulous series, click here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Menu Monday

My menus incorporate lots of fresh produce this week! We are very blessed to have a fridge chock full of delicious vegetables and fruits!

Monday
lunch: leftovers
dinner: chopped beef steak with dijon mustard, fresh green beans, salads

Tuesday
lunch: burritos, corn on the cob (well, I cut it off the cob for me!)
dinner: Corrigan's Minestrone Soup (trying a new recipe), fresh green beans, rolls or biscuits

Wednesday
lunch: BLT salads, squash (trying two new recipes)
dinner: spaghetti fundraiser dinner at church (making spaghetti for 50!)

Thursday
lunch: turkey sandwiches, fresh fruit salad, assorted fresh veggies
dinner (possibly to-go): BLTs, fruit, assorted fresh veggies

Friday
with family

Saturday
with family

Sunday
lunch: graduation cookout at church (making fruit salad for 40)
dinner: leftovers

Breakfasts
cereal
raisin bread
grapefruit
peaches
blueberries
coffee

Trying any new recipes this week?

Quesadillas

Quesadillas are quick and easy to make and are perfect for lunch or a light dinner! The way I make them isn't anything special, but I thought I'd share it with you!
Quesadillas

flour or corn tortillas
shredded cheese (any kind you like! or a combination!)
non-stick cooking spray
sides of your choice: black beans, rice, tomatoes, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, corn, guacamole etc.!

Heat non-stick skillet to medium-high heat. Lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray. Lay one tortilla on skillet, sprinkle with shredded cheese, and cover with second tortilla. Heat until tortilla is lightly toasted and cheese is starting to melt. Carefully flip over the tortilla and heat until the other side is toasted as well. Cut into four wedges and serve with sides of your choice! Tad likes fresh tomatoes, but I prefer salsa. We both love black beans, lettuce, and corn!
Like this recipe? Follow me so you never miss a new recipe post!
For more of our family's favorite recipes, click here.

Linked to:
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Sunday, May 23, 2010

One of my Favorite Large Families

Those of you who know me well know that I love big families! The Roanoke Times (my former hometown's paper) just ran a wonderful article about one of my favorite large families! The Mitchells have been wonderful friends for many years, and their "babies" were flower girls in our wedding!

Go here to read the article and see more pictures of their beautiful family. Make sure you watch the video too!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Farmers Market Trip

Today Tad and I discovered the farmers market in our nearby town. It was really fun to shop there this morning and stock up on some great produce (oh, and a few stems of flowers!). We will be frequenting it more this summer, I am sure! Do you buy produce at local markets?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Week Twenty-Nine

Click here to compare with last week's photo.

Things are going well at week 29! Our baby is the size of a squash. I don't think she has moved into a head-down position yet because I still feel so much moving and flipping around. Maybe soon, though! I have an appointment with my midwife this week, so maybe she can tell me what position baby girl is in.

I've been feeling pretty tired lately, and I've also been experiencing a lot of dizziness/lightheadedness at random times. Hoping it's nothing to worry about!

We officially have a name picked out, but we're not sharing it until she is born!

Thanks for praying for us and our baby girl.

Recipe Holder

If you're like me, cooking and baking can get a little messy! I have lots of recipe cards that I don't want splattered with oil or covered in cinnamon, so I came up with a simple solution.
I hot-glued a piece of cork board to the inside of one of my cabinet doors that is right at eye-level by the stove. (Yes, I used hot glue straight on my cabinet.) I added the "recipes" label using scrapbooking stickers and used a push-pin/clip combo to hold the recipe cards.
Now I can simply clip up the recipe card I am currently using and not have to worry about spills (or losing it in the mess!).

Table Update

Tad's table is coming along beautifully! He has filled in all the holes with wood filler and has been diligently sanding it to give it a perfectly smooth finish. I'm sorry for the messy room in the picture!
The final things remaining:
- give it one more good sanding
- wipe down with damp cloth
- spread out drop cloth on dining room floor
- move table into dining room
- paint first coat
- sand with fine steel wool
- paint second coat
- sand with fine steel wool
- paint third coat

We're so pleased with how it has turned out so far! Looking forward to getting it painted and being able to start enjoying it! So proud of my hard-working husband.
Knock-Off Wood

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Flower Headband

Flower headbands are all the rage now for everyone from little girls to grown women! They are all over etsy and tutorials abound in the blogosphere. I won't bore you with a tutorial, since you can find them very easily, but I will show a few pictures of the headband I made! The headband was in a 3-pack from the Dollar Tree, and the flower was from a "bush" of flowers (about 7 or so on the bush) also from the Dollar Tree. So, for $2 I can make at least 3 headbands, plus have more flowers for future projects!

Dollar Tree Bargains

Thought I would share a few of my Dollar Tree finds this week! Most of it is normal, everyday stuff, but we enjoyed the great deals!

- two boxes of all-occasion cards (birthday, thank you, thinking of you, blank) with 10 cards each (just $.10 a card!)
- bamboo stakes for the peas in my garden
- travel set (four empty containers and a loofah) for my husband to use when we travel
- shampoo and body wash for my husband
- zip top bags in gallon, quart, and sandwich sizes
- Father's Day cards ($.50 each)
- 30 sheets of brightly colored tissue paper (I like to keep gift-wrapping supplies on hand...more about that here)
- shoe-shining kit so I can shine my husband's church shoes
- a blue and white ringer tee for my husband (had a tag on it from another store that said $10)
- supplies to make a floral headband... pics of the project here
- a great tote bag (I'm going to use it for library books!)What have you found for just $1 recently?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lemon Butter Pasta

This recipe can be used with many different types of pasta. Just use what you have on hand! It is a great side dish with many recipes, including Oven-Roasted Rosemary Chicken. Lemon Butter Pasta

12 ounces pasta, any shape
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 tsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
salt & pepper

Boil a large pot of salted water. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the lemon zest and juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Toss with the drained pasta and serve hot.

Enjoy!

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For more of our family's favorite recipes, click here.

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Basil-Lemon Pesto

I made my own pesto for the first time yesterday (using fresh basil from my window herb garden) and it turned out well!Basil-Lemon Pesto

1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil (add more if too dry)
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese (more if desired)
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 garlic clove, sliced
1/4 tsp. salt
pepper

In a food processor, combine all ingredients except pepper. Pulse until smooth. Season with pepper to taste and pulse until combined. You may refrigerate the pesto for up to 10 days in a tightly closed container.

Excellent served over Oven-Roasted Rosemary Lemon Chicken or with Lemon Butter Pasta.Enjoy!

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oven-Roasted Rosemary Lemon Chicken

This recipe came about tonight while I was experimenting in the kitchen! It is GREAT served with two other fabulous recipes which I have posted (basil-lemon pesto and lemon butter pasta).

Oven-Roasted Rosemary Lemon Chicken

boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed
salt & pepper
grated lemon zest
fresh rosemary sprigs

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides. Rub lemon zest on the chicken and garnish with fresh sprigs of rosemary.

Bake at 375 degrees until cooked through (mine took about 25 minutes since the pieces were really big, but you may only need to bake yours for 15 minutes or so).

Serve with basil-lemon pesto and lemon butter pasta (recipes coming soon!).Like this recipe? Follow me so you never miss a new recipe post!
For more of our family's favorite recipes, click here.

Linked to:
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Fresh Greens from Our Garden and Why I Use a Salad Spinner

Today I harvested some salad greens from our garden! Very exciting.

I also wanted to share a kitchen tip with you. I highly recommend using a salad spinner, and I'll share why. First, I'll tell you that I don't stock up on tons of kitchen gadgets that I don't use regularly. I didn't really think I needed a salad spinner, but Tad wanted to get one (thanks, Alton Brown), and we found one on sale for $3 at Wal-mart. I started using it and noticed a big difference!

When you spin your salad greens after washing them, they stay fresh longer. I love salad, and when I make a salad I usually make enough for another meal as well. When you take a minute to spin your greens, they will last longer in the fridge and not get "wilty and brown! Linked to:
Kitchen Tip Tuesday

Menu Tuesday


I think I post menus on Tuesdays just about as often as I do on Mondays!

Monday
lunch: salisbury steaks
dinner: leftovers

Tuesday
lunch: garden salads, chicken tenders, fruit
dinner: oven-roasted chicken breasts with basil-lemon pesto, pasta with lemon butter, corn

Wednesday
lunch: quesadillas
dinner: chopped beef steaks with dijon mustard, baked potatoes, lima beans

Thursday
lunch: eggs, ham, muffins, fruit
dinner: hamburgers on the grill, oven fries, salads

Friday
lunch: salads, tuna fish
dinner: steaks, twice-stuffed baked potatoes, broccoli

Saturday
lunch: ham, fried potatoes, carrots
dinner: spaghetti (hoping to use fresh basil and oregano!)

My Window Herb Garden

I was thinking about starting an herb garden from seed this year, but that didn't happen in time! So, I bought some herbs on Sunday and planted them in a pretty green planter by my kitchen window.
Left to right: sweet basil, Greek oregano, and rosemary
They smell SO amazing!
It makes me want to make a big batch of spaghetti sauce so I can use the basil and oregano! I also want to try making pesto.

What are your favorite ways to use fresh herbs?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Weekend Away

This weekend we took a short trip up to see my family in VA. We loved getting to spend time with them! We got to go to my youngest brother's soccer game on Friday evening. My grandparents came down as well. Mom invited a few ladies to come over on Saturday to have a prayer shower for me & our baby. It was a really special and wonderful time!

We enjoyed our time away and were glad we were able to be in VA this weekend!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Week Twenty-Eight

Click here to compare with last week's belly-bump shot. Do you think I'm growing? I do! :)

Baby girl is very active! I've been talking with some other moms and they said that for many of their babies, active in the womb = active as a baby/child! We're looking forward SO MUCH to meeting our little bundle of energy.

I feel great, other than the occasional big kick in the ribs :). I've been sleeping really well, which has been wonderful. I have found myself "waddling" already a few times recently! Trying to maintain good posture despite the extra weight in the front.

I think this week marks the entry into the third trimester! It's so exciting to think that we will be holding our baby girl in less than three months.

Thank you for your continued prayers for us and for our baby! We appreciate the care you have shown us as we expectantly wait.

My First Rite Aid Deal

I tried out my first Rite Aid "scenario" today!
I was able to score TWO Tresemme FreshStart products for only $.65 each (regular price: $5.49 EACH)!

Here's how (from Money Saving Mom):

Buy 1 Tresemme Hair Product and 1 Tresemme Refreshing Mist at $3.29 each (with Wellness + Card)
Use Buy One Tresemme Fresh Start product, Get a Tresemme Fresh Start Refreshing Mist Free (IE) (FF Link)
Use $2/1 Tresemme Rite Aid Video Values Coupon
$0.65 each after coupons

Have you gotten any good deals recently?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Have I mentioned lately...

...how much I love my husband?

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

As though you didn't have enough ways to eat yummy spring strawberries, here's another delicious option!
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

dark chocolate (use chips or kisses)
strawberries
white chocolate, optional

Melt the dark chocolate a few seconds at a time in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring frequently. Dip washed (and dried) strawberries into melted chocolate. Place on a plate covered with wax paper and refrigerate until chocolate has hardened. If desired, drizzle with a little bit of white chocolate.

Just 48 calories per strawberry!

Enjoy!

Like this recipe? Follow me so you never miss a new recipe post!
For more of our family's favorite recipes, click here.

Linked to:
Tasty Tuesday
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Tuesdays at the Table

Monday, May 10, 2010

Menu Monday

We're keeping it light and simple around here this week! And we have weekend plans, so that's why my menus are just for Monday-Wednesday.

Monday
Lunch: loaded chef salads, garlic toast, strawberries
Dinner: taco salads, tortilla chips

Tuesday
Lunch: loaded baked potatoes
Dinner: chicken fettucine alfredo with assorted vegetables

Wednesday
Lunch: leftovers or PB&J
Dinner: hamburger skillet meal

Breakfasts:
grapefruit, cereal, muffins

Check out these yummy steaks (Japanese teriyaki style) my hubby made for us last week!

Ways to Doctor a Muffin Mix

Since I was a kid, I have always loved the muffins made with Martha White muffin mixes! I still make muffins from a mix all the time, but I've come up with a few ways to "doctor" them up to make them special. One of the reasons I use the mixes is because they are so cheap ($.30-$.85 each). You can even buy the whole grain mixes for more of a healthy boost. These muffins freeze well and are perfect for a quick breakfast or snack!
Ways to Doctor a Muffin Mix

- Add 1 ripe banana (mashed) to a strawberry mix
- Add quick oats & a bit of brown sugar to the tops (before baking) of an apple cinnamon mix for an easy strudel-like topping
- Add 1 tsp. vanilla extract to the batter
- Substitute egg nog for the milk
- Add a handful of dried cranberries to a blueberry mix
- Add raisins to an apple cinnamon mix
- Add chocolate chips
- Add some lemon or orange zest
- Add your favorite chopped nuts (pecans are great!)
- Add some finely grated carrot to an apple cinnamon mix
- Make them like this (not really adding anything, just changing how they are baked)

Pictured: strawberry banana, cranberry-blueberry, and apple cinnamon (with oat topping)

What do you like to add to your muffins?

Linked to:
Tasty Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Tuesdays at the Table
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