Monday, July 28, 2014

Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwiches




Sandwiches must be the most versatile recipe on the planet. You can have them hot or cold, simple or complex, and with an amazing variety of breads, sauces, and toppings. Thanks to the nearly limitless options that they offer, sandwiches show up frequently at our house.
Sandwiches must be the most versatile recipe on the planet. You can have them hot or cold, simple or complex, and with an amazing variety of breads, sauces, and toppings. Thanks to the nearly limitless options that they offer, sandwiches show up frequently at our house.
Sandwiches must be the most versatile recipe on the planet. You can have them hot or cold, simple or complex, and with an amazing variety of breads, sauces, and toppings. Thanks to the nearly limitless options that they offer, sandwiches show up frequently at our house.
With a few adult children in our family now, there are some that have stood the test of time and become family favorites. Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwiches are one of them.
Sandwiches must be the most versatile recipe on the planet. You can have them hot or cold, simple or complex, and with an amazing variety of breads, sauces, and toppings. Thanks to the nearly limitless options that they offer, sandwiches show up frequently at our house.
I got the original recipe over twenty years ago, and have tweaked and tailored it to our preferences so much that its practically a totally different recipe than it was the first time we made it. These sandwiches are fast, easy to assemble, and everyone loves them. Score!
Sandwiches must be the most versatile recipe on the planet. You can have them hot or cold, simple or complex, and with an amazing variety of breads, sauces, and toppings. Thanks to the nearly limitless options that they offer, sandwiches show up frequently at our house.
As with lots of recipes we enjoy best, there are really no measurements involved. If you need to make 2 or 20 sandwiches, it's all the same - just add more of everything to make more sandwiches. Easy enough?
Sandwiches must be the most versatile recipe on the planet. You can have them hot or cold, simple or complex, and with an amazing variety of breads, sauces, and toppings. Thanks to the nearly limitless options that they offer, sandwiches show up frequently at our house.

Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwiches

Ingredients:
Your favorite buns
Sliced ham, cut into cubes
Shredded pizza blend cheese
Mayonnaise
Dry Italian Seasoning

Directions:
1. Clear a work surface. It goes faster if you do each step all at once instead of one sandwich at a time.
2. In a mixing bowl, spoon in some mayonnaise and sprinkle Italian seasoning over the top. Add seasoning to taste. Stir to blend well.
3. Open up the buns and lay on the work surface. Spread each side with the mayonnaise mixture.
4. Put ham cubes on the bottom half of each bun.
5. Sprinkle cheese over the ham.
6. Replace the top part of the bun and wrap each sandwich in foil. (Alternately you can place sandwiches in a glass baking dish and cover the dish with foil if you don't want foil directly on your sandwiches. The foil will keep the buns soft, while melting the cheese.
7. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the cheese melts.
8. Serve hot.
Sandwiches must be the most versatile recipe on the planet. You can have them hot or cold, simple or complex, and with an amazing variety of breads, sauces, and toppings. Thanks to the nearly limitless options that they offer, sandwiches show up frequently at our house.

Sandwiches must be the most versatile recipe on the planet. You can have them hot or cold, simple or complex, and with an amazing variety of breads, sauces, and toppings. Thanks to the nearly limitless options that they offer, sandwiches show up frequently at our house.
These simple sandwiches have a delicious flavor, and come together quickly - two points in my book.

Do you have a family favorite sandwich recipe?

This post may be linked at these great parties.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Knowing What's Growing: Mexican Heather




It's been a little while since I've posted this series, and I'm glad to be getting back to it! Today I'm excited to share with you a special little plant: Mexican Heather.
While officially considered an annual, Mexican Heather grows as a perennial in zones 7 and higher.
I first noticed these plants in one of our local garden centers two or three years ago. I was attracted to the small purple flowers and deep green foliage. I never bought one though. This past spring when the gardening bug bit hard (it gets me every. single. year.), I saw them again, and decided this would be the year I'd give this annual a try.

I brought it home and found a place for it in our raised bed. I loved the splash of color it gave to the bed of herbs and tiny young vegetable plants that were getting started. Then, it really got content in its new home and began growing fast!
While officially considered an annual, Mexican Heather grows as a perennial in zones 7 and higher.
When I get a new plant, I love to research and learn as much as I can about it. I found out some exciting and interesting things about this plant and I'm so glad I added it to our garden.

First, I was happy to learn that, although it is officially an annual plant, it is considered a perennial in zones 7 and higher. In our zone 8 garden, I expect to be able to keep it over winter and enjoy it again next year. That's a great deal for the price of an annual!

Just like a hardy Vinca, Mexican Heather self-sows in mild climates. I haven't had mine long enough to test this out, but I have had experience with Vincas doing this and have grown a small collection of flowers to a very large one in just a few seasons because of this habit. Another plus for Mexican Heather.

I've had enough experience with it though to say that the claims I read about it being long-blooming and practically problem-free, have been totally accurate. My plant receives nearly equal amounts of full sun and light shade and seems perfectly content with the arrangement.

Here are a few more fun things I've learned about Mexican Heather:
  • If it becomes leggy, it can be trimmed back to spruce up the shape. As a bonus, trimmings can be used for propagation - I'm currently testing this one out.
  • Not surprising, Mexican Heather is native to Mexico and Guatemala.
  • To enjoy a longer growing season in cooler zones, Mexican Heather can be brought indoors overwinter, then returned outside the following spring.
  • Sometimes called "false heather", Mexican Heather is not a true Heather at all.While officially considered an annual, Mexican Heather grows as a perennial in zones 7 and higher.
If you can still find this gem in your local garden center, I'd encourage you to bring one home and get it started in a pot while the weather is still warm. You can bring it in over the winter, and get a head start with it in the garden next spring.

How's your garden doing? Did you add any new plants this year?

This post may be linked at these great parties.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Life Is Beautiful #2




"He has made everything beautiful in its time."
Ecclesiastes 3:11a

Welcome back to "Life Is Beautiful"! I really appreciate all of the positive and kind comments you shared last week. Thank you for taking time to read and comment. I appreciate you!

I hope you have been encouraged to slow down a bit and consider the blessings of life all around you. It's a constant struggle for me to slow down, and I have to remind myself often to refocus my mind. I'm grateful for the opportunity to do that here, and to share it with you.
I hope you have been encouraged to slow down a bit and consider the blessings of life all around you. It's a constant struggle for me to slow down, and I have to remind myself often to refocus my mind.
  A couple of weeks ago, while I was watering plants, I noticed some sticks hanging from the branches of my crepe myrtle tree. When I looked closer, I found a carefully hidden nest cradling three tiny blue eggs. As I stood there still, the water flowing into the barrel, I began to think of how amazing this whole situation was.
I hope you have been encouraged to slow down a bit and consider the blessings of life all around you. It's a constant struggle for me to slow down, and I have to remind myself often to refocus my mind.
With our dogs galloping around the yard, the often-heard sounds of airplanes overhead approaching and leaving the airport just a few miles away, children running and laughing, wind blowing, sun rising and setting - quietly, secretly tucked in a pruned crotch of the tree, a carefully and brilliantly designed nest had been built. And three tiny packages of life had been laid there - waiting.

When I went back to see them again, much had changed. Gone were the smooth, still eggs. Three naked, reaching hatchlings were snuggled close, huddled together in their entire world tucked under a canopy of leaves.
I hope you have been encouraged to slow down a bit and consider the blessings of life all around you. It's a constant struggle for me to slow down, and I have to remind myself often to refocus my mind.
The quiet "click" of capturing their image brought their acute senses awake, and they stretched their frail necks upward, mouths gaping, eager for the life-sustaining morsel they instinctively knew they needed.

I hope you have been encouraged to slow down a bit and consider the blessings of life all around you. It's a constant struggle for me to slow down, and I have to remind myself often to refocus my mind.
And to the world on the other side of the leaves, the world rushing by fast, they were hidden safe.

It reminded me that as I run fast each day, millions of miracles are happening all around me, and if I'll just slow down a bit, and open my eyes, I can watch and consider and be awed.

Wishing you a beautiful day!

This post may be linked at these great parties

Monday, July 21, 2014

Polka Dot Punch





The first time I made Polka-Dot Punch, we were celebrating Eli's first birthday. Now, he's 20…and we're still enjoying it!

Special drinks are always welcomed with our family, and we have fun trying out new recipes and creating some of our own. This is one of our very favorites though, probably because its been with us for so long, sometimes for special occasions, but mostly made for one of our Friday night "Fun Night" menus.

To make polka dot punch, simple freeze orange, grape, and cranberry juices in ice cube trays until frozen solid. When ready to serve, place alternating cubes into a tall clear glass and add lemon-lime soda or ginger ale.

To make the punch, simply freeze orange, grape, and cranberry juices in ice cube trays until frozen solid. When ready to serve, place alternating cubes into a tall clear glass and add lemon-lime soda or ginger ale.

As the juice cubes melt, they add their sweet, fruity taste to the soda - yumminess!

I like to make the cubes ahead of time and store in separate gallon-sized freezer bags. When I have time to make a lot, we have juice cubes for several occasions.

I love the color contrast these juices give, but any fruit juice that you like will work just fine. Get creative and enjoy a cool, fruity drink while summer is still around!

To make polka dot punch, simple freeze orange, grape, and cranberry juices in ice cube trays until frozen solid. When ready to serve, place alternating cubes into a tall clear glass and add lemon-lime soda or ginger ale.

Do you enjoy making punches and special drinks at your house? What are some of your favorites?

This post may be linked at these great parties.

This post was featured at My Pinterventures.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How To Make Matching Summer Outfits, Part 2





We have a few more adventures before our summer is over and it will be fun to have the younger ones coordinating when we go out. And, as long as they are willing to dress the same, I'll be doing it again each summer

Welcome back! Today I'm going to show you how I made shirts for the boys to match the dress I made last time for Hannah. If you missed that post, you can read it here.

Although the dress was really easy, the shirts were even easier. First, I had each of the boys choose the prints that they liked best, and we cut them out. It really helped that the fabric was a nice block pattern. Next, they each arranged them in a way that they liked, and their part was finished.

We have a few more adventures before our summer is over and it will be fun to have the younger ones coordinating when we go out. And, as long as they are willing to dress the same, I'll be doing it again each summer

Using iron-on adhesive, I attached each piece to the shirt.

Finally, I sewed around the edges to keep them from fraying, and to give it a more finished look.

We have a few more adventures before our summer is over and it will be fun to have the younger ones coordinating when we go out. And, as long as they are willing to dress the same, I'll be doing it again each summer

The boys really enjoyed designing their shirts, and I was happy that even our youngest teenager wanted to join in this year!

Do you remember the bottom part of the t-shirt that I cut off to make the dress? I used it to make the final part of the ensemble: a hair bow.

Here's how it's done:

We have a few more adventures before our summer is over and it will be fun to have the younger ones coordinating when we go out. And, as long as they are willing to dress the same, I'll be doing it again each summer

You'll need the bottom strip of t-shirt, scissors, some thread, a barrette, and a hot glue gun.

We have a few more adventures before our summer is over and it will be fun to have the younger ones coordinating when we go out. And, as long as they are willing to dress the same, I'll be doing it again each summer

 1. lay the fabric out flat and cut 4 strips 1/2-inch wide.
 2. put the strips together and open up into loops.
 3. cut the loops on each side to make 8 strips.
 4. hold one strip between your hands and pull to stretch; repeat with remaining strips.
 5. you now have 8 stretched strips that are slightly rounded on the sides.
 6. using 5 strips, pinch up a loop and secure with a double piece of thread.
 7. repeat to create a second loop.
 8. lay the remaining 3 strips on the table and center the looped pieces over them.
 9. tie a single knot. This is the front of the bow.
10. turn the bow over to attach the barrette. (I'm not sure why the strips are all down in this picture - sorry)
11. remove the inner part of the barrette to make it easier to work with and put a strip of hot glue on it. Press it down on the center of the back of the bow.
12. put a dot of glue on the inside of the barrette, and fold down the top portion of the knot strips. Hold in place until it is set.
13. reattach the inner part of the barrette.
14. turn the bow back over to the front.
15. trim the bottom of the strips even.

And that's it! We have a few more adventures before our summer is over and it will be fun to have the younger ones coordinating when we go out. And, as long as they are willing to dress the same, I'll be doing it again each summer.

Do you enjoy coordinating your children's clothes?


This post may be liked at these great parties.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Life Is Beautiful #1




Last week our family had the joy of taking a vacation with some extended family to Pigeon Forge, Tennesee. These images are from our trip to Cades Cove in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

The time away from our normal routines was more of a blessing to me than I had been expecting. It was wonderful to enjoy the time with our extended family, whom we don't usually spend that much concentrated time with because of living several hours apart. And, we simply had a great time playing. 

The scenery was gorgeous and relaxing, and on the day we visited Cades Cove, I spent some time "breathing in" the natural surroundings that are so peaceful and refreshing. I am so thankful we were able to go, and we came home with lots of special memories.

This post has been a while in the works and now that it's finally together, I'm really excited to share it with you.

It's taken a while to pull together because of three separate inspirations that I've worked on merging into one unique post.

Today I'm going to share with you these inspirations and why this idea has been stirring around in my heart for a while.  I plan to continue posting each week, but without so much explanation. I'd love to hear your feedback since this is a bit different from my usual posts.
First, I've recently made friends with a very sweet lady who hosts a link party that I think is quite unique: Everyday Life Photography. Rather than linking up social media or blogs and blog posts, Kathy invites her readers to link up an original photo that they want to share. Each week when I click over to her party and see the photo she chose to share, I'm immediately reminded that I often miss the still and quiet beauty that is all around me because I'm running so fast.

When I realize that I have no idea what phase the moon is currently in, can't remember the last time I watched the clouds or walked slowly through the grass, listened with a still heart to the birds breaking the dawn silence, or stood still beside a bed, and leaning down, watched the sweet, steady breathing of one of my sleeping children, I know I've gotten too busy - yet again.

Kathy's party has made me do some thinking long after I click away, and I'm grateful for the stir to my heart that her work has created.
Secondly, I've become increasingly interested in learning to shoot a good photo. When I saw the post from Boost Your Photography about Katie's photography series, I jumped on over and asked to join the group.

I'm learning so much about the art of beautiful photography and am having fun trying to apply what I learn to the shots I make. There's something amazingly satisfying in capturing a story with a photo, and although I have a very long way to go, I'm enjoying the journey.

I'm so grateful to Katie for generously sharing her amazing talent and expertise as she guides the group through improving our photography.
Finally, my longest-standing inspiration to begin this post series is from a woman who is quite well-known: Ann Voskamp.

I began reading Ann's blog more than three years ago, and soon thereafter read her book, One Thousand Gifts. Her influence has rightly prompted me to look at life with new eyes: eyes of thanksgiving instead of complaining; eyes that look for beauty, even when everything seems ugly; eyes to count the unending graces that God lavishes on me every single day, if I'll just slow down long enough to see them. I'm profoundly grateful for Ann's beautiful writing style that speaks beauty and wisdom to my messy and world-stained heart.

When I downloaded the 1,000 Gifts app last year, my gift-counting took on a new look. Instead of writing down a few ways each day that God showed His love to me, I began typing them out, and often snapping an image that captured more than my words could. I discovered that I loved to count as many graces as I could in photos.
It's because of these three women, and their talents and graces, that I've decided to post a little differently this day each week. My desire is that you are encouraged as well, and that as we work with our hands, creating, building, loving, and living, that we have eyes to see and hearts to grasp the beauty and grace that is right beside us, if we will only take the time to see it. And, that the joy of seeing those images right before our eyes, will make the blessing that much sweeter.

Wishing you a beautiful day!
Please visit these awesome ladies at their blogs:

Kathy at Smile For No Reason

Katie at Boost Your Photography 

Ann at A Holy Experience




This post may be linked at these great parties.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Easy Guacamole




If you have never made homemade guacamole, you are missing out! A packaged product can't even come close to the taste of this fresh, flavorful version.

It hasn't been so many years since I learned to appreciate guacamole. Now, I think I must be trying to make up for lost time. I love this stuff!

If you've never made homemade guacamole, you're missing out! A packaged product can't even come close to the taste of this fresh, flavorful version.

Making it is a snap too. So, it shows up pretty often at our house when we have a Mexican meal - or just for dipping with tortilla chips for an afternoon snack.

If you have never made homemade guacamole, you are missing out! A packaged product can't even come close to the taste of this fresh, flavorful version.

Here's what you need:

6 ripe avocados
3 plum tomatoes
1 small white onion
1 Serrano pepper
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup fresh cilantro

Here's what you do:

Put everything in the food processor and process until blended and smooth.

I told you it was easy. :)


This post may be linked at these great parties.

This post was featured at Mostly Homemade Mom.