Monday, February 28, 2011


This past weekend I had such a great time baking with some friends from church.
A couple at our church used to own a Great Harvest Bread Company.
I was raised on that bread, and when I learned that this couple used to own one, I knew I had to learn from them!
So a few of us girls from church met at their house and learned a ton!
And ate the best bread ever!

We started the afternoon by grinding our own wheat.
Yeah....never done that before.
One of the girls owns a wheat grinder and man, that made awesome flour!
We then made a Challah dough and a Whole Wheat dough.

We used a 'sponge' method for the dough, which was totally new to me.
Basically you mix the 'wet' ingredients together with part of the flour, let it sit and the yeast do its thing for 30-40 min, then add in the rest of the flour and salt. Then continue the regular process.

The Challah dough was very versatile.
And it doesn't need to be kneaded.
Even better.
They said the Challah dough makes perfect cinnamon rolls.
We made a 'savory roll' with fresh pesto and parmesan.
It was incredible.

Probably the two greatest things I learned from it was:
1. You don't need fat. No butter or oil is needed. That shocked me!
2. The ideal temperature for your dough is between 80 and 82 degrees. It was suggested to bump up your heat when making bread, and to take temps of all the ingredients. If your ingredients are running a little cool, make the water a bit warmer. If the ingredients are warm, make the water cooler. Genius.

At the end of the day, we all left with a loaf of Challah and a loaf of Whole Wheat.
For dinner we all dined on soup, salad, and our 'savory rolls'.

I wish I took more pictures, but my hands were covered in dough and flour for a good portion of the day.

We made them promise to do this again soon.
Especially when I learned that they have an awesome soft pretzel recipe....

This couple at church is not a couple I knew very well. They are around my parents age and it was amazing to learn from them and to hear their wisdom.
I strongly encourage you to get to know an older generation of people and learn from them.
I know as a wife I can learn so much about marriage, family and running a home from someone a few steps down the road!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Six Months

It's been six months since I had to write this post.
It's been the hardest six months of my life.

Six months ago today we found out our sweet baby was in Heaven.
I was hoping at this point, I'd be happily expecting again.
But the Lord has had other plans.

The last six months have been so hard.
It is so hard to with every fiber of your being want something so bad, then to get it, and then have it taken away.
I know I am not the only person to ever experience the loss of someone or something they love.

2 months ago, on my birthday I received the best gift I could think of.
A positive pregnancy test.
3 days later, that was gone too.

I feel like my body is broken.
I feel like I'm not good enough.
If God grants 16 year olds precious children, then I surely must not be good enough for Him to grant me a child.

I know in my heart of hearts thats not true, but these are the things that go through my mind every day.

I know I am only viewing eternity from my limited perspective now.
I know God has great plans for Mr. Free and I.
I know God has laid on my heart to minister to other women who have experienced similar events.
I know He has grown me into a stronger woman through these experiences.
I know Mr. Free and I have grown so close over the last 6 months.
I know my God is a good, loving God with the best plan for me imaginable.

But, in my humanity, and my weakness, I am broken.

"Hope deferred makes a heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."
Proverbs 13:12

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dilemna Update

Well, we spoke with our friends from 'across the pond' and as it turns out, they are coming HERE for most of the summer!

With that in mind, we have (I think...) settled on making a domestic trip to see them and finishing the basement!

I am uber excited to get started on this project!

Although decorating is last on the LONG list of to-do's when finishing a basement, I can't help but look...

Here are a few of my current favorites:
Fantastic Facelift! eclectic media room

Family Room eclectic family room

Basement Den eclectic family room

I love the coziness of these rooms and the splashes of color!

The space will be 500 sq. feet, and here is on my list:
- An actual laundry space
- A storage room
- Canned lighting
- Carpet (as much as I love our hardwoods, I'm excited for some soft, fluffy carpet!)
- Big comfy entertaining area
- Comfy sectional with our existing couch
- New TV and entertainment center
- Bookshelves to create a mini-library

I'm excited to get my hands dirty with my hubby and make a beautiful space to share with our family and friends!

So...have any of you finished off your basement yourselves?

If you were to finish your basement...what would be on your list of 'must haves'?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas with Flaxseed

As I've been trying more and more to make our own bread, this week I ventured into tortilla making.

It's so easy!

Here's what you need:
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. shortening (could use lard or butter)
3/4 c. water
Sprinkle of flax seed

Measure your dry ingredients into a bowl

Add in your shortening
and mix til crumbly

Add in water and let your mixer do the hard work. Let it knead at a medium speed for a couple of minutes.

Your dough should look like this

Divide dough into eight balls
Let balls rest for 10 minutes covered with a tea towel.
Make sure you have a hot skillet

Roll out each ball to a very thin circlish figure
Homemade tortillas definitely *look* homemade in my kitchen...

Place tortilla onto hot skillet, cooking each side until you see bubbles. Then flip.

Tada! Hot, fresh, healthy-ish tortillas!


Have you ever made homemade tortillas?
Are you going to give it a try?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Which one?

Mr. Free and I have a dilemma.
A good dilemma.

With both of us working now, Mr. Free and I have been saving up for 1 of 2 things.
And we can't decide which 'thing'.

Option 1:
Sometime this summer take 2-3 weeks to go to Europe. We have good friends who live in England, so we would see them, then take an additional week or 2 to travel all around Europe. Possibly a Mediterranean cruise, if the budget would allow. This would be great timing since we do not yet have children, so we would be free to go where we please without a restricted schedule. Who knows what the next summer will bring...
Our friends from England MAY be coming to the States this summer, so we thought about visiting them while they are here this summer, then going across the pond next summer...

Option 2:
Finish our basement. It would definitely be DIY which would be a blast! We have such little room to entertain upstairs and finishing downstairs would give us an additional 500 square feet for a big family room. We love having people over so this would be fabulous. We also think it'd be much easier to accomplish before kids and would be a great feature to have with kids. We plan to be in our home another 5 or so years, so the sooner we do it, the more we can enjoy it. Plus it'd be something fun and productive we could work on together this summer.

We can't do both.
We really want to, but can't.

We haven't made up our minds....if you were us, which one would you choose?

Friday, February 18, 2011


One day this past week it was incredibly foggy outside.
As Mr. Free and I drove to the gym at 5:40 a.m. we could barely see 30 ft in front of us.
It was scary, as things right in front of us would appear out of nowhere suddenly.
The fog was that thick.

However, we could see directly in front of us, so as long as we were cautious to our current surroundings, we were fine.

This is just like how my life is right now, I thought.

See, sometimes God gives us a clear view of the path in front of us.
We see exactly where He is leading and where He is wanting to take us.
But, there are times where we can't see that path.
Sometimes God makes our path foggy and that is where we have to solely rely on Him.

This is exactly where I am at in life.

I can't see the next turn in the road.
I can't see whether life is turning into a peak or a valley.
I can just see where I am at, and the step right in front of me.

Just as our cars headlights illuminated the next few feet ahead, God is showing me just enough of the path to take the next step.
I have no idea the future for me and Mr. Free, as God currently has our path in a fog.
But through this fog, I am learning to trust.

It is easy to have faith when we have a crystal clear view of the future, but you have to trust when the next steps are unseen.

My God is a good God, and the path He has for us is for His glory and our good.

Reading His Word is also how He gives illumination to the path that He has for us.
Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a guide unto my path.
Psalm 119:105

I pray that whether your path is clear or foggy, that you are learning to trust God and His path for your life, like He is doing with me.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Breakfast: Overnight Oats

This is my new favorite breakfast.
And it is uber easy.
And it's clean.

Here's what you need for the 'base':
1/3 c. Greek Yogurt
1/3 c. Oats (just regular ol' oats)
1/3 Milk (or soy/almond milk)

Mix this all up in a tupperware and set in the fridge the night before you want to eat it.
The oats will absorb all the liquid and soften!

Then, add in any fun extras!
Here's my standard:
Almond Meal
Wheat Germ
Local Raw Honey
Whole Foods Peanut Butter

It is soooo good.
It seriously *almost* tastes like a peanut butter shake.
That you eat with a spoon.
For breakfast.

It is super filling and filled with all sorts of good stuff!

Can I talk to you about the peanut butter?

If you have never had Whole Foods freshly ground Honey Roasted Peanut Butter, you haven't lived.


It is so delicious, you could just eat it straight from the tub.
You must try it.

But for overnight oats, you can get creative!

Another combo I like is the 'base', plus wheat germ, flax seed, almond meal, apple pie spice and apple butter!
Tastes like apple pie!

I've heard of others doing the 'base' plus pumpkin pie spice and canned pumpkin!
Or you could add peanut butter and jelly!

The combinations are endless!

But it truly is a filling, delicous, healthy breakfast!

Have you ever tried them?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I finally got around to framing it and finding it a home!

I knew when we received this paper, that I wanted to put it here... the right of the back door in the dining room.
That area was blank and looked imbalanced with the hutch on the other side of the door.

It's funny how the color of the paper is like the same exact color of our walls....

I snagged the frame at was the last one in the size I needed and 40% off.
(Look how tiny our shoebox home looks in relation to the size of our yard!
I sometimes forget what a large backyard we have...
though I'm sure Mr. Free doesn't, since he mows it!)

I love the originality of this,
and how it is a reminder of how this home has always been in our family.

What do you think??

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Happy Valentine's Day to you!

I pray that no matter where you are at in life, you have a great day filled with love from those around you!

Mr. Free and I celebrated Valentine's Day early on Saturday.

Mr. Free and I wake up uber early during the week, and will probably be conked out by 9 tonight, so we thought celebrating Saturday would be a better fit. Plus no work to get in the way of all the fun!

We celebrated by getting massages (our first ever!) and we are definitely converts!

It was amazing!!!

Then, Mr. Free took me to Costco for a surprise (we both really, really, love Costco).
Costco has beautiful flowers so I thought surely, he wanted me to pick out a lovely bunch for our home.

But he walked right on by the flower section.
I was puzzled.
Then, he took me to the small appliance aisle.
And stopped at the food processors.

He got me the best food processor on the market.
The Cuisinart PowerPrep Plus.

He said he researched and researched and wanted me to have the best.

I first refused, since our agreement for Valentine's was our presents would be the massages and dinner.

But he was so sweet.

We used Christmas money from my in-laws to contribute, so now I am a proud owner of an amazing machine!

Within 2 months I got my dream Kitchenaid and Cuisinart food processor!

I'm a lucky cook!

We then went out to a great steak dinner and then fell asleep watching Dispicable Me...but then woke up in enough time to watch Saturday Night Live.

We are getting old....

Tonight we are spending some time with the in-laws, so it will be a low key actual Valentine's Day.

What are your plans for this special day? Anything fun?
Anyways, hope your day is full of blessings and relaxation!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chore Chart 2.0

The Free household implemented a Chore Chart back in August when we added a college student to our household (read about that here).
This kept us accountable and helped model responsibility to our guest.
When our houseguest left in November, our chore chart went with him.
I hadn't updated it to being just Mr. Free and we got lazy.

No more!!!
No more I say!!!

Meet, Chore Chart 2.0

I'm so excited to get back into a routine and get our house back in order!
This really, truly works in our home.
If I don't have it written down...I don't do it.

For a break down of what cleaning each room looks like for us, you can read about that here!

Have any of you implemented a chore chart recently?
Does it work well in your home!
Please share!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


My shiny new Food processor died a couple of weeks ago.
She quit working after the 3rd use.
Not good.
Needless to say, she went back to the store.

I still haven't replaced her.
I was wondering, do any of you have a large capacity food processor that you can whole heartily recommend?
The reviews are overwhelming and I was hoping to hear some recommendations from real people!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Something in my bathroom had been bothering me and I finally changed it.
First of all, here's a refresher of how our our bathroom looks.
But I didn't like this....
It just wasn't my style, but I didn't know what to put there.

So I finally got around to peeking through all Mr. Free's art to find a piece to put in that spot.
And I found it!

It's a print Mr. Free did.
I think it fits the space very well, and I love that it coordinates with the colors of the Mr. Free portrait over the "throne".

What do you think... better after, right?!

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Little Flava' in the Dining Room

Nothing like a ton of snow days to make you want to change a lot in your home!
After clearing the Christmas decor, I hadn't put a thing on our dining table.
It was nice to have a clean, blank slate for a fresh new year.
But....I got over that.
And I needed color.
With all of Mr. Free's art work in our home, I've noticed I need to splash those colors around our furnishings and decor a little more.
Help make it cohesive.

I looked through all our table linens and nothing was bright enough for me.
So I got creative....
I knew I wanted yellow, blues and reds.
So, for the table runner, I used my favorite yellow scarf.
Kinda weird, but its cloth, its washable, its yellow.
For the centerpiece, I put some tangerines in our crisp white serving bowl and next to it put my favorite Thomas O'Brien salt and pepper shakers on our white platter.
Over the yellow scarf I put my pale aqua placemats, Christmas red chargers, our bright white plates, with a punchy yellow ramekin on top holding our chocolate brown cloth napkins.
Over in the nook, I put my cookbook collection in, added the wire basket, bird and decorative thingy on top. I have no idea what its called.
Yes, I still have a wreath up. But its just the greenery.
And its a subtle reminder that its still winter.
(If the foot of snow outside didn't give it away previously...)

So there ya have it!
A quick little $0 makeover!
Kinda bright and out there, but I love it!
Totally cheers me up!

What do you think?
Do you ever use items in your home where they aren't meant for? Like my scarf on the dining room table?

Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Frugal Tip: Target Debit Card

I love Target.
It is by far my favorite store.
They have cute clothes, accessories, awesome home decor, and even groceries!
Plus, they have the BEST clearance.

If you love Target as much as I do, I highly suggest getting their own debit card.

Here's how it works:
The debit card is directly linked to your checking account.
To enroll you simply give them a cancelled check and they use that to link to your account.
You can do all this when you are checking out...just tell them you'd like to sign up for their debit card.
It takes a few minutes to do, so I made sure not to have a line behind me when I signed up.
Didn't want to be that lady.

Anyways, when you sign up, you get 5% off your purchases every time you use it!
Every time!
The only thing excluded is gift cards.

I love using it.
When they ring you up, you see your total, then you swipe your card and it changes to a lower amount!
I get giddy every time!

With enrolling in their debit program, you don't have to worry about any fees or charges. It is just like using your bank's debit card, just with an additional 5% off!

Target does offer a credit card with the same incentives, but their you can accrue late fees and added interest. So I suggest going with the debit card.

Does anyone else have one already? Love it as much as I do?
If you don't I definitely recommend looking into it!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How to Purge Shoes You "Might Wear Again Someday"

I have a hard time purging.
I always think I *might* need it again someday. Then I'll just have to buy it again!
What a waste!

But, there are times when enough is enough and I go on massive purge sessions.

Here is my foolproof method to definitely get rid of shoes you won't wear again.

Step 1: Go through your shoes, making a 'definitely wear' pile and a 'probably won't wear again' pile.
Discard any shoes that are too worn for wear.

Step 2: Put the 'probably won't wear again' shoes into a trash bag. Not a box or rubbermaid tote. It must be a trash bag.

Step 3: Take trash bag down to the basement into the area where your dogs hang out while you are at work.

Step 4: After about a month, dogs will have ripped into said bag of shoes and will determine for you whether or not you truly will wear those shoes again.

These shoes are now going into the trash can.
No need to worry about whether or not I will wear them again!

Disclaimer: This method is used with 2 basset hounds. Depending on the amount and breed of your dogs, this method may yield different results.