Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gone Cruisin'


The hubby and I are off for a ten day trip to the states for a wedding this weekend and then a Sunday to Sunday cruise out of NYC to Bermuda. Yes, you read that right... we'll be going to bermuda.

So this means a hiatus for the Armchair Housewife, but do come back in two weeks or so because i have about 20 posts already planned and I know i'll have a ton more once I return.

We were blessed to go on a cruise to Bermuda last year, courtesy of my hubby's wonderful parents. I was going to put up some pictures from last year's trip, but Picassa is freaking out tonight and not working. I'll do a nice slideshow of the pics from this trip when I get back, plus lots more on the Homemaking front. This week has been light on the homemaking as I have been working extra hours at the office (ugh...) in preparation for being gone for a week. December 1st, I long for thee! :)
Have you ladies been on any interesting trips this year, or any planned?

Thanksgiving, eh?

Canadians celebrate thanksgiving the first Monday in October. Due to our varied schedules, our family rarely celebrates on the actual day, but we do still love to get together, eat turkey and pumpkin pie, and spend time being thankful for one another. Here are some lovely pictures from our Thanksgiving a week ago.

Dad, prepping the mammoth turkey (I asked him if he was sure it wasn't an ostrich)


The buffet table


We all went for a pre-meal walk, it was such a beautiful fall day
Here's Dad and Caleb, walking the dogs


They look like our siblings, but it's actually Mom and Dad

Us, enjoying the sunshine (and Caleb hating his picture being taken)


Handsome couple, eh?
The great thing about being an American living in Canada (other than the healthcare, of course), is that I get to enjoy two thanksgivings most years. And we don't even have to figure out which side of the family we are going to spend it with! It's very convenient, I reccommend it to everyone. ;)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Armchair Confessional III

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words...


Any recent confessions, ladies?

Also, Aloha to the wahine in Aiea... just seeing the name on my sitemeter list blesses me... how I miss Hawaii!!

Progress

Progress: the development of an individual or society in a direction considered more beneficial than and superior to the previous level. (from Dictionary.com)

How I was tempted to leave the kitchen last night:
.

.


How it looked before I went to bed:




I know to many women this seems ridiculous... to see cleaning your kitchen before you go to bed as progress. At this point, I really can't go to bed without the kitchen picked up. I would lay there thinking about the dirty dishes talking about me in the other room, and the disastrous prospect of waking up in the morning to a mess.

But this is what I mean by progress, because i hate to say it ladies I have not always been this way. It's definitely a result of discipline and the renewing of the mind. And my flesh still cries out, "just leave it! Go to bed! You had Awanna tonight, you're tired, you have a reason to leave it until tomorrow!" But, thanks be to God, this is one piece of evidence that I am a new creation and one can make change and progress, with God's help.

Ladies, what chore can you never leave undone in order to get a good night's sleep? Or, what chore do you really struggle to get done, even though you know it's really a necessity?

"her lamp does not go out at night"- Proverbs 31: 18
.

31 Days of Praying for Your Husband


I was listening to Revive our Hearts today and, as always, was encouraged. Nancy talked about the 31 Day Challenge to pray for your husband. I have printed it out and plan to start today!

I would really encourage any of you out there, no matter what your marriage looks like right now, to take this challenge. None of us has perfect marriages, but whenever we build into our marriage according to God's principles and through prayer, we will always see change for the better, whether it be in our husbands, in our home, or, if nowhere else, in our own hearts.

And if you aren't a married lady, I encourage you to pray for the marriage of someone close to you, as today like no other marriages need to be lifted up in prayer.

She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life -Proverbs 31:12

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dogs. In Sweaters.

I never thought i'd be one of those people with a little foo-foo shi-shi, high maintenance dog. When I was a kid, if we had a dog it was one of those mix-breed muts from the pound. But, as fate would have it, I have turned into one of "those people". Caleb and I wanted a dog from the time we got married, but it wasn't until our fifth year of marriage, when we moved to the current apartment, that we lived anywhere we were allowed to have pets. A few months later, long story short, we can't find even one small dog in any of the pounds in a 100 mile radius (which you can search for now thanks to the internet). We realized we'd have to buy a dog if we wanted one.

After looking online for a while, I wandered in to a pet store and met Stuart, who broke my heart in two. I know pet stores are bad, so no need to tell me if the idea offends you, it was unplanned and I just had to have him. I knew he was mind when, after pacing the mall for an hour weighing he pros and cons, I walked back into the store to find a couple asking to see him. I almst shouted out, "he's MINE!" So... now he is mine. :)


Stuart, his first day at home with us

Maltese are high-maintenance dogs, period. You can't put them out back or leave them out on a leash. They are people-centred dogs, and don't have much use for anything in life if they aren't enjoying it with a person, and preferable the one or two people they are closely bonded with. I've actully learned a lot of spiritual lessons from Stuart, namely that I see his deep desire, his passionate need to be with me at all times, and I think about how that's the kind of passion I want to have for God. I also see the uncoditional love he gives us, and see how humans have a lot to learn from dogs when it comes to loving others.

Also, he's cute.

So, now it's winter (we got him in the Spring) and not only do we have one of those dogs... but now we have realized he needs a sweater. I know.. I know... if you aren't a dog person yourself, or more specifically a small, high-maintenance dog person yourself, you will think, "Sweaters for dogs?!!" and then procede to regurgitate your last meal. But in truth, poor little Stuey is such a teeny thing, with not an ounce of fat to keep him warm, that he shivers outside and is in fact in need of some clothing to keep him warm.

Stuart, freezing on Sunday morning and wrapped in my sweater


Thankfully, providence (in the form of my sister in law) stepped in and I haven't yet had to bow my head in shame and go into a store to purchase a dog-specific clothing product. Thank God for blessings small and large. Beth pointed out to me that she still had some baby clothes from her dolls when she was a kid, so we sorted through and found this little blue sweater that, with a few alterations, should do the trick.

aww, come on... it's pretty cute
Stuart with "auntie" Beth

To have a laugh, we dressed up the inlaws' poodle, Maple, in the matching vest and, much to their dismay, sat them down for a couples' portrait.
Cousins... identical cousings, all the way...

I know... it's cute, funny, and nauseating all at the same time. Such is the life of a high-maintenance dog owner.

Auction Wins

There was a benefit thrown for my sister, Ashley, her boyfriend Ron, and their son Devon last weekend. Go here to read more and see pictures of the event.
Two of the main events of the evening were the auctions. One was a silent auction, and the other was what they refer to as a “Chinese” auction, which I'm not sure is a politically correct name, in which people buy tickets and place them in bags for the items they are interested in, and then the tickets are drawn for each item at the end of the evening. It's a cross between an auction and a raffle, really.

I managed to win a few items, both in the silent and the Chinese auction. From the silent auction I won this:

Cute little pumpkin set, very seasonal


From the chinese auction I won these:


little silver finger foods tray- I've really been wanting one


This is a nice, simple, glass chip and dip set, something I need as I do more entertaining
I also won a stack of Patricia Cornwell books for my sister. Now i just need to find space to put these things as they are still on my dining room table.

Hello World!


Ladies of the World!

I am so excited to see how many different parts of the world have stopped by my blog, either for a quick look or a longer stay. I'm loving Sitemeter because it shows me where the folks that view my page are from. Here is a wee list of the locations represented so far. Hello, ladies, I hope you come back and become part of our community here. Identify yourselves if you wish, and tell us how you found Armchair Housewife. And if any of you ladies are military or military wives, big shout out, I was raised a Marine Corps brat. :)

Mexico
Japan
Germany
Sweden
Nigeria
Austria
France
Australia
Malaysia
UK (I spent a month in England when I was 15 and I manage to feel homesickness for the UK still to this day...)

Canada:
Ontario
Manitoba
Saskatchewan ( I got engaged in Saskatoon!)
Alberta

US:
Georgia
California (Shout out, Cali... I lived in Oceanside as a wee one)
Tennessee
Texas
Illinois
New York (My home state)
Ohio
Oklahoma
Kansas
Indiana
South Dakota
Arizona (Hola, Arizona, I miss Yuma where I lived as a kid!)
Arkansas
Oregon
Hawaii (Aloha, Hawaii! I was once Kama 'Aina in Kailua!)
Kentucky
Alabama
Louisiana
Minnesota
Washington
Nebraska
North Carolina (Oh, Tar Heel state, I miss you- lived in Jacksonville and Cherry Point!)
Michigan

Addendum:
Maine (Hey there Domestic Accident!)
Virginia
Montana
Massachusettes
Alaska (Wasilla Alaska, even! Governor Palin, are you reading my blog? ;) )
Missouri

This is so exciting! I will occasionally post when I see other neat places that have visited the blog.

Why I Spent $7.99+ Tax on a Magazine


Because I really really want to try to make this a handmade Christmas. I'm tired of buying people more junk they don't need and probably don't want. I want to hand-make the people I care for some gifts so that they are more special and meaningful, and also not made in China.

I found some good ideas in here and pretty soon I'm going to need to make a list of what I plan to make for whom.

Do you ladies have any gifts you like to hand-make? Or resources you use for good hand-made gifts? Point me in the righ direction, ladies!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Welcome, Jack Charles!!

My dearest friend Sarah (and my only "friend" according my sidebar) and her husband Michael are celebrating the arrival of their first child this week. Jack was born October 13th, 2008 at 11:45am and came into this world weighing 6 pounds 7 ounces. He was a little early, and mom had to have a C-section, but all is well with both mom and baby boy and they are home now.


Sarah, you have been my best friend for I don't want to count how many years now, and I am so excited for you and Michael at this precious moment in time. You are going to be a wonderful mother, and I knew the minute I met Michael that he was the most amazing guy, and he has been a perfect husband and now I know a doting father. Your little boy is beautiful, and I can't *wait* to get my arms around my little Baby Baggins in just 14 days from now (but who's counting?)!


Jack will always have a prayer warrior in his corner, his Auntie Nikki, praying he will live a long life that is honoring and pleasing, and blessed by, the Lord.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. -Psalm 139:13-16
Yay! My first ever Simple Woman's Daybook! If you want to participate, follow the link by clicking on the picture.



Outside My Window... is a crisp, cool autumn day
I am thinking... that I can't wait for Dec 1, when I'll be home Monday mornings and not at the office
I am thankful for... my husband, his support and provision
From the kitchen... bacon and egg sandwiches on english muffins for breakfast
I am wearing... office casual
I am creating... this blog as a place where i can journal my progress as a homemaker
I am going... on a Cruise starting Sunday!! Woohoo!
I am reading... Proverbs 31, 1 Peter
I am hoping... to have children someday
I am hearing... the humming of the chemical plant behind my office building
Around the house... auction wins from last weekend still have no "home" and are on the dining room table
One of my favorite things... mmm...coffee.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: pack for vacation, clean our rabbit's cage, make soup for the freezer
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Me with my nephew Devon

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hola, Mexico, Australia, and Malaysia!


I use sitemeter to track how many times people view my blog and where they are viewing it from. It's a really neat service, and it's free.


I find it fascinating that someone in Mexico, Australia, and Malaysia have viewed this blog, along with many states and provinces in US and Canada. As it says in the ad above, "it's a small world", when you're on the internet.


Welcome, ladies, and I really hope you'll stick around and post your own thoughts here at Armchair Housewife!


Y Quiero decir muchos bienvenidos ala mujer de Mexico! Yo viviste en Arizona quando fue una nina, y me gusta mucha la cultra, la idioma, y la comida mexicana. Lo siento para mi espanol, es muy pobre!

Housekeeping Heroes

I hope for this to be a reoccurring series of posts, where I celebrate some of my Heroes of Housekeeping, both real and fictional.

I couldn't start with anyone other than my mom. Mom had to work when I was growing up so she didn't have the chance to be the susie homemaker that I know she would have loved to be. But, despite her full-time work schedule, she still had some sweet domestic skills that inspired and taught me.



She is a rather gifted seamstress and she had made many a slip cover in her day. She also sewed my prom dress, and the accessories to my wedding gown, including my veil and my shawl. Mom taught me the basics of sewing earlier this year, and here are some pictures of us at work.
I still have a looong way to go before can say I actually “know how to sew”, but mom got me started in the right direction.

Mom, showing me how to read a pattern.



Me, laying out my first pattern.


Like mother...

...like daughter.

Mom also owned her own successful cleaning business for a few years right around the time that Caleb and I got married, and as her sometime employee, mom taught me a lot about the hard business of getting down and dirty with cleaning. She taught me tips for cutting costs on cleaning products by making your own, and taught me things like time management, and the value of elbow grease. Also, she just plain made me proud of her for how hard she worked and how well she did with her business.

Mom also really gave me an appreciation for second hand stores and antiques. We both love old stuff, and we are both big time Anglophiles. Also, mom makes a mean spaghetti sauce that, six years into my marriage, I am still trying to get right.

Lastly, as a woman who worked as a server for many years of her life, mom really instilled in me the value of being a good hostess, and of service. I have worked as a server and in other forms of customer service all of my working career thus far, and I like to think I learned good lessons on the skills of service from my hospitable mom.

Thanks, mom, for being my Hero!

So, who are YOUR heroes of housekeeping? Who has really influenced you, or who do you strive to emulate?

Free Recipes

Nothing beats cheap as free. I popped into my local grocer, Selby's, this evening to pick up some perishables, and they had this super cute Free Recipes rack set up near the pumpkins.




I grabbed a number of the little recipe cards, and am particularly interested in the baked apples with cinnamon vanilla crème, balsalmic roasted veg, and the sweet ginger carrots. If and when I try the recipes I'll post them with my results.


Also, I wish y'all could have seen me trying to discreetly take pictures of the recipe rack in the store without catching anyone's eye. I felt like a secret agent.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Salad Bar

In an effort to eat better, Caleb and I have taken to eating salad or soup most weeknights. In order to keep the salads interesting so we don't loose our minds and order pizza, I have to have lots of variety, and this can mean lots of prep, and thus lots of mess, each time we have salads. Because my lazy bone is most likely to flair up when faced with lots of prep and mess, I have begun keeping a salad bar prepped ahead in the fridge.

I put all the goodies out and we can make our salads to our liking

Usually on Sunday nights I get out the veg and fruits I want to prep for the salads, typically purchased fresh the day before on Saturday. With Oldies 1090AM rocking out the kitchen, and do all the coring, peeling, washing, slicing, and dicing, all at once for the week. This cuts down on dinner prep time and clean up M-F, which is very good news. I typically serve some kind of bread to go along with the salads.

I loooooove my mandolin- invest in one!!


I use my Fridgesmart Tupperware, which really does keep fruit and veg fresh a lot longer than regular Tupperware or other knock-off products. I'd love it if they would make a piece that was compartmentalized, but I make do with this one.

Do you ladies have any time-saving tips for weeknight meals?

Autumn Comes to Spring Street

Images of our street today


I love how God shows off in fall

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Armchair Confessionals II

I warned you there would be more...


1. The ugly plaid couch. When caleb and I moved to Ontario nearly five years ago now, we were blessed beyond our dreams with everything we needed in our apartment when we arrived. Courtesy of our inlaws, we were given a two-seater plaid couch, circa 1977. It served us well these past five years until a month ago, when our neighbors Scott and Steven shared the wealth of their gorgeous living room set and gave us their two-seater couch. It was bigger, more comfortable, matched the colors in our living room and... wasn't plaid. But, even though it's been replaced, the couch is still here. I have not gotten around to begging the use of someone's truck or renting one to get it (along with the table and the baker's rack on the deck) to the thrift store or dump. See and compare the two couches below:


The Old Couch

The New Couch


2. My deck. Oh goodness gracious the deck. When we first moved in I had such grand plans for the deck, but we soon found out we couldn't afford a patio furniture set, and soon after that the deck started being used as a garage. Currently, there deck is home to our cooler, some paint cans, a disassembled dinner table we need to get rid of, a baker's rack that also needs to go, my laundry rack on which I dry delicates (probably the only legitimate item out there), and a big box of recyclables I need to take to the dump. I can't bring myself to actually include the picture here.... I just can't do it. Thankfully, as we are on the second floor, no one sees this but me, but it's still there. (goodness I feel like the hoarders on Oprah. Ok, it's not that bad, its like lot of peoples garages I am sure, but the point is it's not a garage, but a deck).

Come on now, ladies, what do you have to confess?

Recipezaar Beef Stew

I have made beef stew probably five times since we've been married, and I usually have a hard time getting the beef tender and the veg all cooked right. I decided to have another go at it, though, as it's fall, stew is a healthy meal, and stewing beef is hands-down the cheapest meat I can buy at the natural meat shop I frequent.



I looked up beef stew on Recipezaar (highly recommended), and found one that was so basic looking I figured even I couldn't mess it up. And it turns out I was right! Here is the recipe, with my changes included in italics.

Beef Stew

1lb stewing beef
1 cup flour
2 tblspoons lard (I used butter... who has lard around these days?)
900ml beef broth (I think that's like 3 cups, but in Canada we rock the mls)
3 carrots, sliced thick
5 medium potatoes (I used about 8 or 9 new potatoes instead) in thick chunks
3 medium onions (I used ½ a very large red sweet onion)in thick chunks
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
(¾ cup cooking sherry or any dry red wine0
(1 tblspoon minced garlic)

Roll the beef in flour. Heat large soup pot on med-high and melt butter. Brown beef and extra flour in butter until nice and brown but not burned.

Add just enough broth to cover meat, and add the sherry or wine if desired, along with the bay leaves, salt, pepper, and garlic. Cover and cook on low for an hour.

Add carrots, cook another 20 minutes. Add potatoes and onions and cook until tender, adding additional broth as needed while adding veggies to keep them covered.

I should say I didn't add the extra flour when I made it and wished I had, as it would have made the soup a bit thicker and nicer. Other than that, though, it was very good, and it made hubby happy so it's a winner!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

True Women '08 Conference


OK, I have a ton to blog on for being gone for nearly a week here, but before I forget i wanted to post the link to the write-up on the first annual True Woman 'o8 Conference, put on by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and her ministry Revive Our Hearts. Follow the link below to read about the event, and to find links to *all* the sessions of the event which you can download for *free*. I am downloading as I type this and can't wait to hear all the great messages.

True Women '08 write up

If you want to skip and go right to the page where you can download the sessions, go here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Away From Home



The Armchair Housewife (who likes to talk about herself in the third person) will be away until Tuesday, and as such is not likely to post. But don't let the fire dwindle, come back next week for more confessions (in fact I would have had one posted tonight if the blogger picture importer wasn't driving me insane), stories, recipes (i made an awesome stew I'm going to post next week), and everyone's favorite, pictures of my dog.

I am traveling to New York to visit family and attend a benefit being thrown for my sister, Ashley, her boyfriend Ron, and their son Devon. Devon was born this year and has gastroschysis, which is where the intestines develop outside the body in the womb. He is doing well, but is still at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and still has a way to go before he can come home. Follow the link on the right to see more of his story.

See you soon, ladies!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Armchair Housewife First: Flowers

Just want to start out this entry with a big shout out to my homegirl Sarah, who is one of my ones of faithful blog "followers". I wasn't really ready to have followers, though, so I changed the title to "Friends". Thanks for validating my blog, Sarah, you're the best! And more of you... follow me!


I just wanted to post a picture of the very first plant/flowers I have ever purchased for myself and/or my home. That's right... ever. I once had bequeathed to me these sad little spider plants in old mugs that I let eek out an existence on my shelf until they outgrew their surroundings and started to die, so I euthanize them and send them to the big garbage heap in the sky.

Up to this point, that has been my personal horticultural history.

But, on Sunday, after working hard for two days to get my house nice and clean and my dining room table totally free of debris (it often covered with this laptop and paperwork) I was at the grocery store, saw a pot of... (searching for name of flowers on the pot.... not finding it)... flowers that looked pretty and all autumny and I thought, "hey, I bet women buy those and decorate their houses with them", and so... I did! I paid 7.99 for them, and I have no idea if that was a steal or if I got ripped off. I quite love having them there whenever I walk by, or sitting there as I type away on this blog or listen to the talking heads on cnn.com.

The picture is kind of small, but if anyone can make out what my flowers are, let me know!

Woman's Best Friend

This is Stuart.


He's our little maltese dog and while some might use words like spoiled, or ridiculously spoiled, we prefer the words like appreciated and well-loved. As a married couple without kids, he sure gets a lot of attention, but he is also very well-behaved and well-trained (thanks mostly to my beloved husband).


As you would expect from such an extraordinary animal, Stuart is very helpful around the house, and can be seen here helping me with the laundry.

Wow, helping out with the laundry is very tiring. Time for a nap.