How to cook a pot roast {sunday supper}!

This post may seem like a boring one.  But I promise, follow these directions and you will end up with a roast that even your grandma will be impressed with.  Growing up I was not a fan of roasts.  The way I always had it prepared left it tasting like baked carrots (and I HATE carrots) so as an adult, I never bothered trying to cook it.  Until I was married that is, and learned that it was one of my husbands favorite foods.  So I did what any good wife would do, and learned how to cook it the way his grandma did.  
You start with a roast.  A rump roast, appropriately sized for your family.  I always check the manager section for "clearance meat" (which sounds bad but is just code for "this needs to sell this week") and put one in the freezer to save for when we will want one.

When your roast is defrosted....pat it down with flour coating the whole thing.  Salt and pepper it like you would your dinner plate.   Pre-heat oven to 325.
In a heavy iron pot like this (I sear and bake in the same pot which makes for better gravy but if you don't have this option, just sear it in a frying pan and transfer to something with a lid that you can bake it in) you are going to sear your roast on med heat.  In your pot, melt 4 tablespoons or so of butter.  Now you are going to sear the whole roast until it is all pretty dark brown, almost black.   Turn the roast with spatulas or tongs until it's completely seared, try not to poke any holes in it!
When that is all done, add about a cup of water to your pot and put the lid on.  Put your roast in the oven and go about your business.  Check it every hour or so to see if you need to add any water, you don't want it to go dry. 
Three hours or so later....check for done-ness by trying to pull an edge away from the roast with a fork.  It should almost fall apart. When that happens...it's done!  Take the roast out and wrap in foil.  I like to lay some clean towels on top to keep it warm.
Then use that same pot to make your gravy.  Start by adding a couple of tablespoons of flour and use a whisk to get all that meaty goodness off the sides of the pot. Use water from the mashed potatoes you should be making to go with roast.  (Like when you are making mashed potatoes and you boil them, grab some of the water they are boiling in to use for gravy before you dump it all down the drain.  2-4 cups worth should do it).  Add your potato water to the pot, with the drippings and whisk, whisk, whisk on medium heat on the stove top until it thickens up.  I usually have to add salt to taste as well. 

And that's it.  Works every time and everyone will be pleased with you and you will have lots of friends. 

:) Enjoy your new roast making skill!

xo

how to be a good mother {kudos to you}

This week my heart has been heavy for mothers.  Mothers who are susceptible to how others think they should do their jobs.  How articles define them as a good mother or not.  Mothers who think they are failing because they do x, y, & z instead of a, b, & c.  Mothers who don't feel they measure up to standards that have nothing to do with their lives or their kids.  The internet is full of "do this and not that" in whatever serving size is suitable to make you feel like a terrible mother.   

I'm here to tell you the actual requirements of being a good mom.  But first, here is a list of things that do not go into the total sum of "being a good mom":

being a stay at home mom
being a working mom
being a stay at home working mom (me)
being a mom who bakes cupcakes for your kids class
being a mom who BUYS cupcakes for your kids class
being a mom whose kids go to youth group
being a mom whose kids hate youth group (and don't go!  Oh the humanity!)
being a mom who only serves organic foods
being a mom who only serves hamburger helper and mac and cheese
being a mom who lets their kids watch TV (no TV is just a punishment for parents, am I right?)
being a mom whose kids say "what's a TV?"
being a mom whose kids are impeccably dressed all the time
being a mom (me!) whose kids are covered in dirt by 10am
being a mom whose kids always use manners
being a mom whose kids (me) currently love the word "butt"
being a mom who is caught up on laundry
being a mom who is ten loads behind and doing the sniff test every morning
being a mom who feeds her seven kids for $300 a month
being a mom who feeds her seven kids for $300 a week
being a mom whose kids have perfect grades
being a mom whose kids are failing a class or two
being a new mom
being a mom with an empty nest {I won't lie, sounds a little dreamy}
being a mom whose body bounced back after all dem babies
being a mom who will always have a built in halloween costume a la kangaroo pouch
being a mom who breast feeds {I was just too cheap to buy formula really}
being a mom who formula feeds {hint: it's not poison!}

You get the idea, yes?  NONE of these things really matter.  They won't matter when your kids get married and go out into the world on their own.  They won't think back to their childhood and hate you for all the boxes of mac and cheese you served.   

All of this internet "knowledge" on how to be a "good mom" {whatever the hell that means to the world} is nothing but sensationalized nonsense created to get a click.  They don't know YOU! 

Please keep this in mind when you read any articles about motherhood: THEY DON'T KNOW YOU!

The truth is that if you set yourself up to live up to standards that just don't {or shouldn't} matter to you...you are setting yourself up to be a terrible, grumpy mother.  It's like asking an orange to be a banana.  It just won't work.  So that is how to be a bad mom, if you'd like to know.

Now, want to know how to be a good mom?

Get up every morning and first thing: get rid of all your damns so that you don't have any left to give about what other people think of you. 

Here's a list of people whose opinion of your mothering skills doesn't matter
{no offense to any of them}:

your mom
your mother in law
your sisters
his sisters
your friends
his friends
your coworkers
your facebook friends (and all other social media)
Ann Currey
Oprah

Here's a list of whose opinion does matter:

your husband {assuming he is a good guy and all, of course}
and tentatively, not based on popularity of answers or candy delivered, your children.  Keep in mind that they don't have to like you all the time {though it would be nice of them to throw you a bone here and there} and you aren't there to be their friend, you are there to help them not become a sociopath.  

Once you've gotten rid of all your damns do this:

Go forward and do the next right thing.  Repeat.  Repeat. Repeat until it's time to go to bed and wake up and repeat again the next day.

Make decisions based on what is good for YOUR family and YOUR kids.  All children are different.  I have one kid who needs to go hide for a while if there are a ton of people around and one kid who needs an ankle monitor so that I know where he is.  They are both great kids.  It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of them because their father and I do our best to see them as individuals and treat them as such.

So that's my advice on how to be a good mom {and really how to do life well}:

Just  do the next right thing.*

*based on YOU and YOUR life.  Ignore the internet.  The internet is like that crazy drunk uncle, mostly harmless but sometimes hurtful.    

How to make a pop-art pillow!

When you friends with a creative type, you just never know what kind of gift you are gonna get!  Thankfully, these pillows were a hit with a friend for her recent birthday!  They were easy enough to make and I thought I'd share the process with you.  How awesome and fun would these be for kids with a parent deployed?

Here is what you need:
a printer
a pack of Avery Printable Fabric for Inkjet Printers, 8.5 x 11 Inches, Pack of 5 (03384)
cotton fabric for the front and back
polyfill
needle and thread


-You'll start by finding a photo that has a good head shot in it. 
-Crop that photo so most everything else is cropped out except the head. 
-Crop it as an 8 by 10. 
-THEN take it to Picmonkey and under "edit photo" you will go under "effects" and choose "posterize".  Play around with the number of colors used until the photo gets to look how you would like.  "Apply" that and then go under "black and white" and apply that as well. 
-Save your photo and then add it to a word document. 
-Make the photo as large as will fit on an 8 1/2 by 11in piece of paper (the size of your printable paper). 
-Print out on your printable paper using the photo settings on your printer. 
-After it prints, cut out just the head
Then, iron your face onto the cotton you want to use as the front.  Be sure there is at least 2in on all sides of the face if not a little more. 
Then stitch around the face.  I like to do a zig-zag stitch and then a straight stitch on top of that.
Trim around the edges leaving about 1 half inch and cut into those to allow for fabric movement.
I like to leave the opening with a bit more fabric than needed just to make it easier to close. 
And then stuff it silly.  I stuffed these until they were VERY firm, even stuffing more in as I closed up the openings with a blanket stitch. 
You can't even see the opening here!
And that's it!  Easy peasy and sure to be a fun surprise as a gift! :)  Hope you have fun making some!

Favorite Peeps {a free Easter printable}

In case you're looking to give a little something to a few people this Easter, this printable is perfect for that!  I wanted to bless a few of our "favorite peeps" and whipped up this printable to go with our little packages!  I thought you might enjoy them too!  
 They are formatted to about a 4 by 6in size.
Here's what I included in the package...all for less than $10...with some peeps of course!
 Added some grass and tied it up...and done!
I hope you can find some people to bless with a little something this week...it doesn't have to be big, just a little thought a love can go a long way...

You can download the free printable HERE. Enjoy and happy Monday! 

craft and app night!

Creating and eating are two of my favorite ways to heal.  How about you?  Last night I spent some time with my favorite ladies doing just that.  
 And this craft was super easy.  I cut down some pallets, glued some pieces to the back to hold them together and we used mailbox letters (from Lowe's ~$2) to add a phrase. 
 Done and done.  It was a clean and easy craft. 
 Perfect for eating while doing it.
Here are a few!  I love how they turned out! Simple, easy and therapeutic!

idea inspiration from @jenkappes on instagram!

the end. {not bad, just different}

THIS is a post that I never thought I would write.  Like ever in my ever thought I would write a post like this.

But after much prayer and thought and love from all of you, carrying me through the last six months of my life, I feel like I can finally {and should} share why my heart has been so heavy for so long.  Why I have never grieved so deeply, with such pain that I can literally feel it weighing down my heart.  It has taken Doug and I these last six months to really process through a lot of emotions and actions to get through to a clear picture of what God wants us to know, see and DO! Six long months of being obedient to what we know He has said to us, following through with what He has led us to do, caring for those around us while forgoing our own emotions and hurts.  God carried us through a busy, traumatic Fall, through the holidays (filled with some Joy, mind you!) and finally had us arrive in January where He said "Be quiet while I talk to you now".  And so we listened.  And as He began to share, we started to know what was coming.

And we didn't want to hear it.  Honestly.  We wanted easy.  We wanted same.  We wanted what we knew.

And we moved forward, day by day.  Each day bringing a little more clarity.  Doug and I would talk from the time he got off of work, until he got home, as soon as the boys went to bed, as we sat and watched TV and then laying in bed together.  We cried and prayed and begged for a different answer.  We have never spoken at length with one another about something for so many hours.  Ever.

God guided us all the way, and still does.  He brought people to us from out of the blue, whose hearts matched ours, to help along the way.   

And we could feel the veil being lifted as He brought sight to our hearts.     

You see.  Back in the Fall two staff members from our church were fired.  Friends of ours for almost fifteen years.  But we have great relationships with the staff of the church and we clearly heard God tell us to stay and support.  And that's what we did.  We were obedient to what He asked us, which is easy enough to do when you hear Him clearly and you love all of the people involved.  (I don't need to share any details here because that's not our story). 

That firing led to series of changes over time in the church (I'm not saying they are bad, just different) and over the last six months, the fabric of the church has changed.  (not bad, just different).

Once we were finally out of crisis mode at that church was when God really let us start dealing with our own emotions in regard to the changes {this was January and February for us}.  Made us really evaluate what we want in a church and why, something I don't think we had ever done.  And here comes the heartache.  

These evaluations brought us to the decision to leave the church we have loved for almost 15 years.  Looking back now, He was preparing us for this the whole time.  All the pieces fell together.   

This past Sunday was our first church experience somewhere new of our own choice {we had been at new churches when we lived in Charlottesville}.  And it was hard.  And made everything seem so final.  It brought up all the emotions, grief, sadness, anger {as I watched Moses struggle to adjust to a change he had no fault in causing} and deep, deep feelings that I can't even begin to describe.

But in the hard day that was yesterday we learned what we wanted in a church.  We learned that our number one thing is community.  Community brings us closer to God.  Our number one thing is to walk into church on Sunday and see God's character oozing out of everything around us.  We don't care as much about deep lessons on scripture or special series on this or that, Doug and I already purpose to learn and do those things on our own throughout the week, to us Sunday is the day to "show me the fruit".  I want to walk in on Sunday and it be like a fresh market where my chosen family is walking around in the fruits of their week.  THEN the sermon is icing on the cake.  Kind of like a delicate treat at the end of a great meal.  That's what we had on Sunday, for the first time in months.     

Please hear me when I say that I don't think our former church is bad in any way.  It is full of great people seeking the Lord with all they have.  Great people who love Jesus and who we will miss seeing on Sunday's.  It's just DIFFERENT and not my kind of church anymore.  All of the things I said above are still true for some of the people there, it's just a different flavor for us now, different kind of market.  

And really.  At the end of the day, that is what God has told us.  Put the past six months aside and look at now.  Changes in a church change the church, change how you feel about the church, and your place IN a church.  Just factual stuff.  No emotion needed.   

But still.  All the "ugh"'s and all the "woah"'s to emotion.  Because we like same.  We like easy.  We like what we know.  Doug and I both said yesterday that we have never felt more fragile or broken.  Never more vulnerable to how other people handle us.  We are highly susceptible to hurt at the moment.  Like very thin glass.   

I felt like I needed to finally share with you all why you have been praying for me for months and why I would appreciate your continued prayers.  Your comfort and emails and prayers have done their part to carry us, even when I couldn't tell you why.  So thank you for that!  

I feel like I am grieving a death, something idyllic that I once knew is gone, like part of me is gone.  We are working through the emotions of all of that and want to do our best to be love to others.  Many are in our shoes and we want to handle them gently as the Lord brings them to us.  We want to live in peace with all and move forward in gentleness.   We still love and pray for the church that housed our souls for 15 years and go forward so thankful for all we have lived and learned there.

We are eager to be excited for change.  We know the Lord has good things in store for us but first...we must make it to the other side of this with Joy in the meantime.   

Continuing to place it all in His hands...

**sidenote, this decision has also led to me not being allowed to go to England any longer, adding to our sadness.**
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