Sunday, February 27, 2011

Service Announcement

Just a little note: Sorry I haven't been up on my blog lately. We moved into our house this week and we don't have our Internet hooked up yet. As soon as we get it hooked up, I will be back to blogging again!! I can't wait to add more about homemaking now that we are in our own place again!! Hopefully Urban Momma will be up and running again soon!!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Homemaker MIA

As many of you know, we moved from Chicago to Oklahoma about 2 months ago. We decided to move in with my in-laws until Tad got settled into a job and we found a place to live. Though it was a nice break from the mountain of responsibilities when you are in your own place and doing all the work yourselves, I miss it!!
Maybe I'm a dork, but I do love taking care of a home. I'm not saying that I don't ever get overwhelmed or stressed out, or that I don't ever wish I had more help, but in general, I love everything that goes into making a house a home. I actually like cleaning, cooking, decluttering, dishes, vacuuming, laundry, picking up toys, etc. Maybe not every single thing is my favorite, but I enjoy the process of making my house a nice, relaxing, organized place to be. Chaos frustrates me. I do need to remember that small children make lots of chaos, and to let go when I need to!! But the more I can keep up on things around the house, the more relaxing it is for me to be in it!
I will be posting more pictures soon, but for now we are unpacking, moving our last little bit over to the house, and getting ready to move in on Thursday of this week! I am enjoying putting things away, setting up the rooms, and anticipating what our lives will be like in our new humble abode!!
I'm excited about getting back into our schedule, our routines, and starting afresh in a new place! I'm excited for Maddy and Judah to have their own rooms, to see their faces when they see them all set up, and to cook my first meal in my new kitchen (which is adorable, by the way!!).
It will be so refreshing to have our own space again, to have a place for just our family, and to really feel like it's official that we moved to Oklahoma!!
Praise God that Tad's job is going well, I have a possible stay-at-home job opportunity, and the kids have adjusted well. We are finally all healthy again, and I have made several new mom friends that have been fun to get to know!!
I hope this update gives you a little peek into our lives right now!! I hope you all are doing well and feel free to contact me anytime!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A New House and a Valentine's Recipe

I'm so sorry I haven't been blogging lately!! It has been a crazy week!!! As you can see, we finally got a house!! It's a rental, but it will do for now!! It is a 3 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath, with a 1 car garage and a backyard!! Anyone from anywhere else would think a backyard would be a given, but coming from Chicago life, a backyard is a definite plus!! And a huge reason we wanted to move down to Oklahoma. Maddy will have her own backyard to run around in!!
We have moved some of our stuff in, and will continue to move the rest of our stuff in this week and get settled in!! I will post pictures as soon as I can!!
On a different note, I meant to post my Valentine's gift for Tad!! The other reason I haven't been blogging is because our camera screen broke, making it difficult to take pictures and impossible to view them. To be continued. Hopefully we can get a new camera sometime. So sorry I fell out of the blogging world for a whole week!!
So, back to Valentine's Day. I'm sure a lot of you have heard of One of her main recipes is for cake balls, which are pretty much little balls of cake covered in chocolate. And let me tell you, they are to die for!!
This is what I originally wanted to make for Tad for V-day. But then I realized that I have never worked with fondant by myself, I'm not a cake-maker, and figured that experimenting with cake balls first would be enough of a new thing to try. They were delicious!!
The recipe is so easy!!!

Red Velvet Cake Balls

1 box red velvet cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 by 9 cake)
1 can cream cheese frosting (16 0z)
1 package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate)
wax paper

1. After the cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble it into a large bowl.
2. Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting. (Use fingers or a sturdy spoon)
3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. (It should make 45 to 50. You can use your hands to roll them, or a mini-sized ice cream scooper.)
4. Chill for several hours. (You can put them in the freezer to make this go faster.)
5. Melt the chocolate according to the package directions in the microwave. (Melting a few pieces at a time will help the chocolate not to become too firm to work with.)
6. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (You can use a spoon to dip them in chocolate and then tap off the extra.)

Make these for your sweetie sometime and score some extra points!!! They are really good and really decadent!! They are easy, have few ingredients, and look impressive!! They do take some time since you have to make the cake, wait for it to cool, form the balls, let them cool for several hours, and then dip them in chocolate. So make sure you plan for 1/2 to a whole day to make them. I also cut up walnuts, and used red sprinkles and black icing to make some creative toppings. You can do other things to jazz these up too. Just check out her website for more creative ideas with cake balls!!
I was so glad to make these for my sweetie for Valentine's Day!! They were a nice treat when he came home from work late on Monday night!! Love you, Tad!! Thanks for the special Valentine's Day!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Snow Day, Cinnamon Swirl Bread, and Homemade Granola Bars

Well, Enid, Oklahoma finally got the snow they were predicting!! The first "snowstorm" was pretty pathetic and everything shut down due to about, oh, 2 inches of snow or less. But the second snowstorm they were predicting was a little different. I didn't really believe it would be that bad, and was pretty surprised to wake up to this:

Everyone was pretty surprised and said this was the most snow they had seen since living here. So glad we could bring all the Chicago snow with us!! At least it is forecasted to be in the upper 60's, possibly 70's next week!!
So, anyways, we were stuck in the house, everyone's work and school was canceled, and we had the whole day to hang out. I was pretty sick, and so when all the kids went out and went sledding at the pastor's house, I stayed home and babysat Judah and my Cinnamon Swirl bread. I had fun cooking all day. It did wear me out, since this sickness seems to be lingering and lingering, but it was a good thing to be worn out from. Cooking is my passion, so it was a fun snow day for me!! And it was nice to have Tad home all day!
So, I found this recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Loaf. Actually, it makes 2 loaves of Cinnamon Swirl Bread, and is a really old recipe from a Better Home's and Gardens Bread Cookbook from 1973!!
One of my favorite food bloggers posted the recipe, and I will share it here, and then share my notes, mistakes, and opinions about this bread.

Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

7 to 7 1/2 cups All Purpose flour (this is where I went wrong, see notes later)
2 packages of active dry yeast (I used 2 tsp. instant yeast)
2 C. milk
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 C. shortening (the blogger uses butter instead)
2 t. salt
2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar
2 t. ground cinnamon

In a large mixer bowl, mix 3 1/2 cups of flour and the yeast. In a medium saucepan, heat milk, 1/2 cup sugar, shortening and salt just until warm (115 to 120 degrees), stirring constantly to melt shortening (I used a wire whisk, and stirred continuously). Add to dry mixture in mixing bowl, add eggs. Beat at low speed with an electric mixer for 1/2 a minute, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Then, beat for 3 minutes at high speed. By hand, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (5 to 8 minutes). Shape into a ball, place in a greased bowl and turn once to coat with grease.

Cover; let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour). Punch dough down, and place onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half, cover, and let rest 10 minutes. Roll each half into a 15 by 7 inch rectangle. Brush entire surface with water.

Combine the 1/2 cup sugar with the cinnamon. Spread each rectangle with half the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Roll dough up as for a jelly roll, beginning with the narrow side. Seal long edges and ends by pinching together. Place, sealed side down, in 2 greased 9 by 5 by 3 inch loaf pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place until almost double (35 to 45 minutes). Bake at 375 degrees until done, 35 to 40 minutes. (If crust browns too quickly, as it did on mine, place foil over bread for the remaining 15 minutes or so.) Remove bread from pans and cool on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves.

My notes: I have not baked bread very much. I'm afraid of yeast. So I'm really hesitant to make any kind of breads with yeast. I used the 2 tsp. of the instant yeast. When warming the liquid in the saucepan, I used a thermometer, which made it more accurate than trying to figure out the temperature by feel.
My big problem was adding the flour until it was a moderately soft dough. I added all but 1/2 cup of flour, thinking that since it called for 7 to 7 1/2 cups of flour, I would need that much. It ended up being too much flour, making the dough hard and not moderately soft. My dough didn't rise like it was suppose to, and I didn't even see it rise until it was put into the oven!! I didn't think it would even be edible!! But it was, to my surprise, just probably not as soft and airy as it could have been. So the next time I make this, I will add the flour a little bit slower until I get the right consistency!!
I want to keep experimenting and making more recipes with yeast so I can get better at it, and am more comfortable with make breads!!
It was a yummy bread though, and it was eaten up pretty quickly!!
Excuse these blurry pictures, our camera got a little bit messed up while sledding outside!!
See those yummy cinnamon swirls?? They are calling out for butter!! Everyone came back from sledding and had this bread and peanut butter cup hot chocolate!!
Recipe: A packet of Hot Chocolate mix, made the usual way, with 2 tsp. of peanut butter! And there you have it. Courtesy of!!
Now, onto yummy homemade granola bars!! I was on a kick, and one recipe didn't keep me occupied for very long! Or, long enough!! I have made this recipe before, and both times I could have cooked them longer. The taste was good, but they were pretty crumbly. The edges that were browned a little more held together better.
I saw this recipe on an episode of Giada De Laurentiis on the Food Network called Giada's Kidz Kitchen. She was making recipes with kids and for kids, and this looked like a good one to try!! I always love recipes that are made from scratch and can be good, homemade treats for kids, instead of the processed version from the store with all the additives. If you can make it at home, it's so much better for you!! And if it gives you and the kids something to do, you've killed 2 birds with one stone!!

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Vegetable Cooking spray
1 egg white
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted (I used sliced almonds, spread out on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray, and baked for about 8 to 10 minutes, then sliced them a bit)
1/3 cup miniature chocolate chips

Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray a 7 by 10 3/4 inch nonstick baking pan with vegetable cooking spray. Lay a 6 by 18 inch piece of parchment paper (I use aluminum foil, it stays in the shape of the pan so much easier) in the pan, allowing the excess to hang over the sides. Spray the parchment paper (or foil) with vegetable cooking spray lightly.

In a medium bowl, using a hand beater, beat the egg white until frothy. Stir in the peanut butter, brown sugar, and honey. Add the melted butter, oatmeal, and almonds. (At this point, I used a spoon so as not to crush up the ingredients for the bars). Stir to combine, then add the chocolate chips.
Using a rubber spatula, spread the mixture into the prepared baking pan, pressing lightly to form an even layer (one review said to press firmly to make them stay together better). Bake until the edge of the bars begin to brown, about 15 minutes (one review said she baked them for 28 minutes to make them firmer, I think at least 28 minutes to make them firm. Last time I followed the prescribed 15 minutes, this time I did about 28 minutes, next time I think I would go even longer to make them stick together better; they were still pretty crumbly.)
Remove from the oven and let cool for about 1 hour. Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares and serve.

And there you have it!! Cut them however you like, really, and serve them at once!! (I wonder if you froze them, they would harden up a bit before serving?? I suppose you could make these in bulk, freeze them, and thaw them?? Just wondering???)

Yummy afternoon snack!! Or breakfast, or late night snack, or lunch accompaniment, or you name it!!
New short haircuts done by my wonderful sister-in-law, Lydia!! We both got a lot cut off, and we love it!!

Happy Snow Day!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Those Special Moments

There are crazy days when you are a stay-at-home momma with your kids. Draining days. Sleepless nights. Times that drain your emotions. And it takes lots of work.
But then there are those special moments that make it all worth it. Those times when your baby only wants you. The times when you sing your cuddling baby to sleep. When your daughter only wants you to read her bedtime story. When your baby crawls over to Sissy because he wants to play with her. Bath time when the kids are splashing each other and laughing. And who cares that they're making a mess!!

Baby laying on your shoulder sleepily before bed. That sweet smile that only mom gets. The times when you see them apply some principle that you've been drilling into their heads since birth, and it finally clicks and takes action in their lives. Daddy lovin' on the kids, and the kids lovin' it.

I look forward to many more of these special moments as my kids get older, and I hope to take time to ponder these times, and let them carry me through the tough times. Being a mom is all worth it in my book!!

What are some of your favorite times with your kids?

The times that just melt your heart?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Being Sick and Being Mom

Some of the hardest days as a mom are when you are sick. You want to be a kid again and snuggle up on the couch all day. I am always taken back to when I was a kid, and had my mom waiting on me hand and foot all day long when I was sick. She would make jello and chicken noodle soup, and buy 7up for us to drink. We would watch movies and sleep as much as we wanted. I miss my mommy when I'm sick.
So what happens when Mommy gets sick? Well, we still have responsibilities, don't we? Our husbands still go to work, we have to watch our kids and get their meals and put them to bed. And we just have to push through being sick. But it's not easy, I'm not gonna lie. You can't sleep in, or sleep all day, or just lay around the entire day. And you still are waiting on your kids hand and food while you're sick.
No sick days for mommy. We can be sick, but we can't call in sick.

It's sickie season. I'm ready to be feeling better so my job as mommy is easier.

What do you do when you are really sick and your kids aren't? Ideas? Tips?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Delicious Cheddar Puffs

If you have some old french bread lying around, here's a yummy snack or appetizer you could make!! It only takes a few ingredients, and it whips up real quick!! It is especially yummy if you grind up the cheese yourself, as the Pioneer Woman often suggests you do! Again, and as always, here is the link to the Pioneer Woman version, but for all my faithful followers (ahem!) here is the lowly homemaker version!!

Delicious Cheddar Puffs

1 loaf crusty french bread, cut up into 1 inch cubes
1/2 stick butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 whole shallot, minced
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
8 ounces cream cheese, sliced
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 whole egg whites, beaten
salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots, and saute for one minute. Add dijon, stir to combine, and turn heat to low.
Add cream cheese, and stir until it's all melted. Add grated cheddar and stir until melted. Turn off the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Fold in egg whites.

Dunk the bread chunks into the cheese mixture until well coated. Place on a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or a sheet of waxed paper and freeze for 20 minutes, uncovered. At this point, you can put them into a Ziploc bag and freeze OR

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the frozen cheese puffs on a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature!!

So here's a pretty easy, quick appetizer to make, for the Superbowl or any party!! Anything with cheese has gotta be good! And cream cheese, bread, get the picture!! Enjoy!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Passion for Music

I love music. I always have. I grew up in a pretty musical family, with my dad being a huge lover of music. When he was younger, he toured around with his band for a year, playing drums and doing leads. When I was in high school, he was in a band and did gigs at parties and events. He also made it into the top 3 to almost be the President of the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. He is pretty much a Rock 'n Roll historian. He now plays drums at his church, is the main worship leader, and helps do lead on vocals. He is pretty much the most awesome dad ever. But that's besides the point.
(Briana singing at her final concert)
My sister, Briana, has always loved music and played instruments, sang in choirs, and just finished her degree in music therapy. She did an amazing classical music concert for her degree at Cleveland State; it was fantastic!! Music flows through her veins, too.
All this to say, I have always loved music, and have always been a part of it. I have played instruments (flute, piano, guitar), sang in choir for countless years in elementary school, junior high, high school, and college, sang on worship teams for church, led worship for home groups, and did special music with my sister when I was a kid at church. I have lots of other hobbies, but music has always been something that was a part of me. In college I sang with the Women's Concert Choir for 4 years, and it was amazing. 50 women's voices, all synced together singing praise music to God, traveling together all over the country and overseas, and working really hard to know the music. They were some of the best years of my life.

(Miss these girls terribly!!)

It has been hard to be as much a part of music since becoming a mom. Having babies is so demanding on your time that it's hard to commit to anything and make schedules work together. I have done a little music, here and there, but not too much. I miss it. A lot.
Since moving down to Oklahoma, Tad has gotten involved in singing worship at his parents church. He loves it. I have since gotten involved in the worship team and am practicing playing guitar with them just during our practices. I don't think I'm the best vocalist, or the most amazing musician, or the best at harmonies. I just know I love music. And however I can be a part of it, it fills me. It is a part of who I am, and I love it.
So, I hope that with the schedules of my kids, the babysitting, and all that goes with being a mom can all coordinate with me staying involved with the worship team. It is awesome to use your voice to sing praises to God , to help lead other people in worship, and to be a part of a team that works together towards the same goal of sounding good and glorifying the Father!
And of course, it makes me think of my dad, who is so involved in his worship team back home in Ohio. I miss him, it makes me feel a part of what he's doing, and it makes me anxious for him to come down and visit us!!
I love you, Dad! Thanks for instilling in me a love for music, a passion for sticking with it, for teaching me harmony, and for always encouraging me in my pursuit of music. You have always been my biggest fan, from videotaping every choir concert, to traveling to see WCC perform, to recording me singing in the studio, to letting me play tambourine while you practiced your band songs in the game room. I have loved being a part of music with you, and hopefully one day we can do music together. I know that's your wish!!