Working on that yard.

It’s that time of year again! Yard work is in full force around the Simmons house. We don’t have a huge plot of land, but it’s not tiny either. A perfect size for our little family at the time actually! When we first moved in over three years ago, the front yard was okay, but the back was a disaster. Full of weeds, weeds, and more weeds. A couple of years ago we tore it all out and brought in new dirt and grass with a spot for a veggie garden of course. Last year was my first year in dealing with my own veggies. It was taken over by bugs come August. Real gross. I vow to stay on top of it this year! Stay away bugs! I planted flowers to help deter the bugs with their scent and need to purchase bug repellent.  My gracious Mother comes and helps me plant and even brings plants from her own garden to beautify our yard.  She’s too good to us.
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Look at that Hazel, reaching for more things to play with and then… photo PampD5272014_KaraSimmons_2_zps520d4491.jpg
something went terribly wrong and she fell right into the dirt. She wasn’t too happy about it. photo PampD5272014_KaraSimmons_4_zpse262a273.jpg
Good thing Grandma Nana is there to comfort and take of my children while I get to take pictures.  photo PampD5272014_KaraSimmons_5_zps41deafd2.jpg photo PampD5272014_KaraSimmons_7_zps41a99c13.jpg photo PampD5272014_KaraSimmons_13_zps7cb9a138.jpg photo PampD5272014_KaraSimmons_8_zps3cb7d25d.jpg photo PampD5272014_KaraSimmons_9_zps770cfaf9.jpg

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And a special thanks to this man who works hard on our lawn every single week in the summer. photo PampD5272014_KaraSimmons_14_zps4a5d2876.jpg
Grow plants grow! I have even remembered to water them every day since planting. Hopefully, the will know this to be a loving environment and choose to stick around. Please plants! Please!

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IHOP pancakes.

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I came across the copy cat IHOP pancake recipe when I was pregnant with Hazel. I loved me some pancakes when I was pregnant. This recipe was awesome for my craving. I indulged myself and made them practically once a week while pregnant. They aren’t the best for you but it’s always fun to indulge once in awhile. Lydia loves pancakes too. She requests them every couple of weeks. So to make the recipe a bit healthier, I adjusted it, and it is still delicious and satisfies our pancake craving around here. Greg even likes these pancakes, and he is not a pancake eater(a person who does not typically like pancakes).

Health-ier IHOP Pancakes

3/4 cup white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup milk(add in 1 tablespoon white vinegar, this substitutes for buttermilk)

This makes about 8-10 small/medium size pancakes. And if you want to indulge in the real deal pancakes you can find the recipe here. Enjoy!

These chocolate chip cookies.

 photo Jan202014_KaraSimmons_10_zpsb3952131.jpg photo Jan202014_KaraSimmons_11_zps4ab874c5.jpg photo Jan202014_KaraSimmons_12_zps9a5959bc.jpgI’m not a baker.  And I am trying to work on that.  I also told you that when I made the Swig Sugar Cookies.  But when Greg came home raving about chocolate chip cookies somebody made and brought to work, I needed to give the recipe a try!  Now I don’t think I have ever made plain chocolate chip cookies.  So I gave it a go.  To prove I was a true housewife or something.  The first time I made them the dough tasted yummy and the cookies were delish right out of the oven.  But then next day, they were hard as a rock.  Very sad.  I googled why this happened.  The first conclusion I came to is I added too much flour.  They were much too puffy.  The next conclusion I came to is it totally matters what shape your butter is in when you add it to your recipe.  I bet you are shaking your head at me and saying “duh” but I really had no idea.  I had half melted butter half kinda soft butter that time.  I am a forgetful person and when it comes to leaving out butter to have at room temperature by the time I am ready to make cookies, it just doesn’t happen.  I found a trick to help me get my butter at room temperate quickly when I forget to set it out ahead of time, which is always.  Defrost the butter in the microwave!  I flip each side of the cube of butter until I can softly squish the butter in with my finger.  With the hard detective work I did on these cookies, I made another batch.  The results were delicious!  Now I must share:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 C Butter
4 eggs
2 C white sugar
2 C brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
Mix together, then slowly add:
5 – 7 C of flour*
2 – 4 C chocolate chips
Cook at 375 for 9 minutes
* Add flour a cup at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. In cooler weather I generally use less flour. In warmer weather I use more. I almost never use all 7 cups. The dough will be somewhat stiff, but not dry.  However, the last batch I made it so the dough was still kind of sticky and I loved the results.

This recipe makes A LOT of cookies.  Be prepared to share, freeze, and eat many cookies.

Oh yes, Greg and Lydia were quite impressed with my cookie skills the second time around too.  Maybe I am a true housewife after all.

Sugar cookies.

At a friend get together/Halloween party of sorts in October, my friend brought these amazing sugar cookies. Very very tasty. I had to have the recipe! Turns out it was the Swig sugar cookie recipe. I decided to give it a try last week.  Now you see, I’m not the greatest baker.  I don’t do it enough to learn from my mistakes and I don’t do it enough because I end up eating all of the baked good I make!  But I was determined to make good cookies.  I made chocolate chips cookies a couple of weeks ago that tasted quite yummy right out of the oven, but turned crispy and hard the next day.  Bummer.  I felt the need to redeem myself to my husband.

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I have to say they turned out pretty darn good.  Just be sure to not over cook them.  Not even one second.  Because that will make the cookie crispy and hard.  Ain’t nobody wants a hard sugar cookie!  I think I might even undercook a bit next time and make the cookies even bigger!  Instead of making gingerbread houses this year, we decided to decorate sugar cookies.  Lydia and her cousins thought it was a good idea too.  Brought to you by awesome low light iphone pictures.  It’s hard to catch natural light when the sun goes down at 5! photo photo3_zps4c117371.jpg photo photo1_zpse95ee3ad.jpg photo photo4_zps1964e399.jpg

Hazel sunk her teeth into the cookie before Greg even had a chance to react.  That girl is quick!   photo photo5_zpsd3e9fe80.jpg photo photo6_zps5670c694.jpgNow go make yourself some sugar cookies!

Results from the veggie garden.

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The veggie garden has produced! We have seen a lot of broccoli come, a few zucchinis, a couple of cucumbers, a lot of tomatoes, and too many jalapenos. Things started off great in the beginning of August, everything was producing and looking promising, and then all of a sudden bugs came. My zucchini produced about 4 or 5 zucchinis, and then just stopped. I took a closer look one day and these gross little bugs were everywhere on it. For whatever reason, our cucumber plant has on produced two cucumbers and another one of the way. Very slow growing, but on the bright side, the cucumbers were delicious! All of our grape tomato plants turned out just fine, but only two out of the six roma tomato plants have produced quality tomatoes. Holy cow, broccoli plants produce like crazy and I let them over grow because I was too busy and/or lazy to cut them off because I already have two frozen bags full and we have a itty bitty freezer. Thanks to mi Madre and sister, we now have bottled salsa from my very own garden.  Fresh salsa batches have also been prepared and the results have been quite tasty.  I have learned a few lessons from my first garden and hoping to have even better results next year!  But seriously, there are bugs every where out there.  I move a tomato plant branch and I see a bunch of critters scatter.  I scream most of the time I pick veggies out there now.  I will most definitely stay on top of spraying for bugs next year because the bugs give me the heebee geebees.  Here’s to gardens!

Little garden.

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Last year at this time, our backyard was a sad sad state.  We could never recover the grass that the previous owners of our home had put in, because they never took care of it and let weeds run rampant.  Lydia and I couldn’t even play back there it was so bad.  So last fall, we got a tiller to remove all the bad grass and weeds, put new dirt in, and then laid new sod down.  It was quite the project.  We left a little area in the back corner of our yard so I could plant a little vegetable garden.

When I had Hazel, motivation was quickly diminishing in planting a veggie garden.  You know, you just want to sit and hold your newborn!  But thanks to mi Madre, she came over to help me pick out which plants I needed and helped me plant.  I have been so happy seeing that little corner in our backyard grow.  We have two different kind of roma tomato plants, grape tomatoes, broccoli(which are huge plants by the way), cucumber, jalapenos, and a zucchini.  The darn crazy wind storms we get out by our house snapped my first zucchini plant in half, but I quickly planted another and I have seen the first little zucchini growing just this week!  I cannot wait to start making salsa with tomatoes and jalapenos from our own garden.  Greg and I can seriously drink salsa we love it so much.

Now we can actually walk in our backyard without shoes on, enjoy our small veggie garden, and I have talked Greg into getting a tramp for Lydia’s 4th bday(which is coming up so soon!).  Things are really looking up for the Simmons backyard.

Those kitchen cabinets.

I decided to take on the biggest painting project of my life at 34 and 37 weeks pregnant(I split up painting the bottom half and top half cabinets to save my body and sanity in the long run).  Not the smartest timing as my body has told me, but those kitchen cabinets were driving me crazy and needed some paint on them.  I couldn’t wait any longer!

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I was so happy with the last stroke of the brush I could have cried.  I am darn proud of this project.  I have been loving the results.  We are going to finish them off with hardware soon.  Then maybe actually decorate the kitchen now that I have the cabinets done?!  Whoa, what a concept.  I’m a slow mover, can you tell?

Now I just need to get rid of this door to our backyard.
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I greatly dislike it.  A lot.

But we are finally installing a screen door for the summer months and Gregory told me I can get a new door(with a fancy window in it and everything. 😉 come fall!  Isn’t amazing how much happier you feel when you make improvements to your home?  I try and explain it to Greg, but he just thinks I’m a tad crazy to feel such happiness from things like this.

Check this item off my list to have done before baby comes.  It feels good.

Special thanks goes to my sister, her children, mi madre, and Greg.  I think I would have still be working on this project if it wasn’t for their help.  Bless you people.

Oh, it’s just something I made out of an old shirt.

The other day I felt motivated. Motivated to sew! I had an idea and went with it.
I made a classy little scarf for Lyds.

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And a pillow (the yellow flowery pillow is from Target just in case you wanted to know).
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All out of this old shirt Greg had laying around that was way too big for him.
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I felt like one of those women who are like,”I never use patterns! I create everything in my mind and it magically comes out perfect!  I can use any material in my home and turn it into something cute!”
Although, I am quite pleased with the results of my project, I started out with something else in mind! But let’s just pretend these items were what I was going for in the very first place.

Big red wreath.

I wanted some kind of big red wreath for my front door for the month of December. I saw my friend make a wreath on instagram(thank goodness for the internet)that I just loved! I went to Hobby Lobby to find the material she used but no dice. I decided to use red broadcloth fabric scraps and see how it turned out. I quite enjoy the finished result! I wanted something big and red on my front door and I got it.  Now I just hope that Martha would approve.  I made two little ones to hang on our front porch as well.

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So sad these guys are being put away in a couple of days. Boo to you January. Boo.