Month: February 2017

Homemaking: A Calling and a Blessing

Once my husband and I were married and decided to start a family, all I wanted to do was “be a mom.” I was ready to give up my profession and live my life following in my own mother’s footsteps of caring for a family.

“What’s your occupation?”

“I don’t work. I’m a homemaker.”

“Oooh. Okay.”

I used to feel (almost) a sense of embarrassment when I would be asked what I did or where I worked. I would always follow it up with, “I used to be a teacher.” I went to grad school, I earned my degrees and I had a profession I loved. I suppose I wanted people to know that I didn’t always “just stay home.” After six years of answering that same question, I now proudly respond with either “I’m a stay-at-home mom” or “I’m a homemaker.” And that’s it. Why should I say more? It is a blessing that I am able to stay home with my children.

I think of being a homemaker as a job — a full-time job with lots of overtime and the paycheck comes in the form of smiles, laughter, and love. I would be lying if I said it is an easy job and I struggle with something almost daily. I get in bed every night and reflect on my day and I think of everything I could have done – or what I could have done better. I beat myself up over a lot of little things.

I often wonder if I’m the only one who feels this way. Well, I learned that I’m not. I was inspired by my friend Stephanie from Happily Homegrown to think about the “ministry of homemaking.” She mentions that Melissa from A Virtuous Woman writes, “… homemaking is just as important as any other type of ministry because as the wife and mother – the way our family feels at home speaks volumes about how we minister to their needs.” It was Stephanie’s post and the way she shared her experience that made that light bulb go on for me — homemaking is a calling. I can remember throughout my Catholic school education being taught about vocations and to answer our “calling” in life – whatever it may be. For me, the calling was to become a wife and a mother – a full-time homemaker.

I decided to reflect on my calling. Being a homemaker is more than cooking. It is feeding the mind, body and soul. It is more than cleaning. It is wiping the tears and negative thoughts and instilling kindness and positivity. It is more than doing laundry. It is washing away the anxiety and fears and providing warmth and comfort.

Many people will begin 40 Day Challenges within the next 24 hours. Maybe those challenges include giving up social media or chocolate. Maybe they include getting organized and decluttering at home.  While I still plan on decluttering and organizing our home, I am also going to work on making my home the home that I always envisioned. I need more peace in my life. A peace that comes at the end of the day when I get in bed. I want to raise my voice less and laugh more. I want to be more patient and less in a hurry. I want to worry less and pray more. As the homemaker – the mother and the wife – I am the heart of the home. Everything seems to begin and end with me. If I want more peace in our home, it needs to begin with me.

Over the next 8 weeks I will be sharing my journey of organizing, decluttering and making our home more peaceful. I hope you will join me.

♥ Denise

 

Quick & Easy Belgian Waffles

I love waffles. Waffles with butter. Waffles with syrup. Waffles with ice cream. Yeah, with ice cream — that’s my favorite! My kids love them too and I was constantly loading my freezer with boxes of store-bought waffles. They were costing me a fortune and the more I checked the ingredients on the box, the more I realized that I didn’t want my kids eating them daily. I’m forced to read every label of everything I purchase because my four year-old is severely allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, along with some dye sensitivities. So I added “make homemade waffles” to my weekly to-do list and stopped adding “waffles” to my grocery list.

I didn’t have a waffle maker, but I had an old-fashioned pizzelle maker that doubled as a waffle maker. I liked it, but I wasn’t in love. I really wanted a good Belgian Waffle Maker. Christmas was around the corner and my brother knew that I had been wanting one, so he gave me a Presto Flipside Belgian Waffle Maker. I knew it had to be a good one because he’s the type of person who reads every review and only buys the “good stuff!”

I’ve been making delicious waffles for my family weekly using this awesome waffle maker. It’s simple to whip up a couple batches and freeze them so we have them for a week or two. This recipe is super easy and the ingredients are always on hand. You’ll be amazed at how fluffy these waffles are on the inside and how crispy they are on the outside. Not to mention, they are really filling!

What You Need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • (optional) 1-2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat waffle maker. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk milk, eggs, and oil in a bowl. Whisk milk mixture into dry ingredients until dry ingredients are completely moistened. Pour 1 cup of batter onto the bottom grid. Close top and flip waffle maker. Bake until brown – about 4 minutes. Makes 3.5 to 4 waffles.

Batter Presto Flipside Belgian Waffle Maker Waffle with Butter

These are so quick and easy to whip up and the clean up is a cinch with the non-stick ceramic grids. To freeze, simply let the waffles cool and then stack them between layers of wax paper and place in a freezer bag. To heat up, either pop them in the toaster or place on oven rack and bake at 350° for ten minutes.

Once you make these, I doubt you’ll want to go back to store-bought waffles. My kids LOVE them… and if you have picky eaters like me, you’ll know that a thumbs-up from the kiddos is a good sign!

Enjoy!

♥Denise

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Something to Think About…

This post has nothing to do with cooking, baking, organizing or homeschooling, but it does have a lot to do with what has been on my mind over the past couple weeks. It has really been weighing on me and I feel like I should just put it out there for everyone to read. I kinda’ think that I’m not alone in my thoughts.

First, I’d like you to picture these scenes for just a moment:
1. A middle-aged man boarding a plane alone.
2. An older woman leaning on a gate and then getting into a car and driving off down the road.
3. A 30-something man picking up a five dollar pizza.
4. An older woman at the grocery store with just a few items in her cart.
5. A 16 year old boy walking down the street.

Okay, have you pictured each of those scenes? Maybe you even imagined someone you know. After all, it wouldn’t be that difficult because none of them are anything out of the ordinary. Now let me tell you a little more.

The middle-aged man boarding the plane alone. He was boarding a flight to fly across the country to bury his mother.

The older woman leaning on the gate and then getting into a car was the mother of a son who over-dosed. She was at his house to gather his clothes for his funeral and to take his car to her home.

The 30-something man picking up the five dollar pizza works over 50 hours a week just to barely pay his bills and only had $10 in his bank account, but all his children wanted was a pizza.

The older woman at the grocery store recently became a widow and has no income. She is picking up a few necessities with a few dollars that were graciously given to her.

The 16 year old boy walking down the street had to separate from his family because they were evicted from their home because they couldn’t make ends meet after a job loss and medical issues. His family is homeless and he needs to stay with a friend.

So what’s my point? My point is: We shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Cliche? Yes, but very true. We just never know what someone is going through because the truth is most people won’t tell you. We see snippets of peoples’ lives on social media and we assume that life is good. We don’t know their whole story. We think we know their story based on status updates and photos. We can’t see their broken hearts or their empty bank accounts.

I will tell you this: I know every single one of the people mentioned above. I know that their lives aren’t easy. I know, in several instances, they have encountered insensitive people. People who would rather pass judgment and think that they have all the answers and want to tell people how they should feel, how they should prioritize things in their lives, or how something is a result of their actions. No one chooses to be in certain situations – it’s called life. And it happens – not always as we plan. I know some will argue that some people put themselves in certain situations by the choices they have made, and while I agree it is true in some cases, it’s more important to recognize that someone may have made a poor choice – it doesn’t make them a bad person.

Here’s my advice. Be kind. Think before you speak (or type). Have some compassion. Be a friend. If you know someone is going through a hard time, don’t walk the other way or wait for them to call you — reach out. You just might make their day. And for all of you struggling in any way – be REAL. It’s hard. I know that… trust me. Have the courage to show the true you. It will make you feel better.

xoxo ♥ Denise

 

Party-Perfect Ranch Pretzels

Here’s another quick and easy recipe that’s perfect for a party. I’ve been making these for the past 6 years and every time I make them they don’t stick around for long. My husband likes to gobble them up and has even been known to smuggle them to work with him. (And then he’d have to hide them because his employees would try to snatch them.) I used to have to make double batches so there were enough to go around! I’ll be honest, the first time you taste them you’ll be unsure if you really like them, so you’ll grab another piece to try to confirm whether you like or dislike, and the next thing you know, you’ve eaten way more than you should have. The best part about these pretzels is that you can decide how much zing you want to give these addicting little pieces of crunchy goodness.

Let’s start with what you need:

  • 2 pounds of Sour Dough Pretzels
  • 1.5 packages Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 1.5 cups vegetable oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons lemon pepper (optional)
  • 1.5 teaspoons garlic powder (optional)
  • 1.5 teaspoons dill (optional)

I do use the lemon pepper and garlic most of the time, but have never used dill in my pretzels.

Now let’s get to making them!

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°
  2. Break up pretzels in an oven proof pan (I use a 9×13 glass pan)
  3. Mix ranch and the spices of your choice with oil until well combined
  4. Drizzle over pretzel pieces
  5. Stir to coat each pretzel piece
  6. Bake for 7 minutes
  7. Remove from oven and stir
  8. Bake for 7 more minutes and stir
  9. Turn oven off and leave pretzels in the oven for 20 minutes
  10. Serve warm or once cooled

These store incredibly well for a couple weeks (if they last that long!) in an airtight container.

Add these to your snack menu and let me know what you think of them!

-Denise

 

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