Wednesday, January 29, 2014

DIY: Cut Your Own Hair

Recently I lost my hair stylist. One fine day I opened the mailbox, only to find a note and a coupon from my salon, saying my stylist is no longer working for the salon – big bummer for me!

I have been grappling about where to go and honestly, did not think about cutting my own hair until I ran across this video on Amy Bennett’s site.

I watched the video and thought, “Hey, I think I can do this. I’ve cut my husband’s hair for 17 years now, my kids’ hair for several years, and other family members’ hair as well. Why not try cutting my own?”

Well, I did it. I cut my own hair and am actually very pleased with it.

haircut collage

If you’re in-between haircuts or just want to try cutting your own hair, I say, “Go for it!” Just be conservative at first and if worst comes to worst, you can just get it fixed by someone.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Chocolate Banana Streusel Muffins

Chocolate Banana Muffins

*I have used coconut oil (solid state) for the butter in the muffin mixture and the streusel topping, and it is great!

Printable Version

Muffin Mix:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 medium (1 cup) ripe bananas, mashed
1 egg
1/2 t vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t salt

1/2 c flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c butter, softened
1/2 c mini chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350. Place paper cupcake liners into 12 muffin pan cups. Set aside.

Combine brown sugar and butter in large bowl. Beat on medium speed until creamy. Add bananas, egg, and vanilla, and mix until well-mixed.

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture, just until moistened. Spoon batter into muffin cups.

Combine all streusel ingredients except chocolate chips in small bowl. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon evenly over tops of muffins.

Bake for 18 to 25 minutes, until light golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes and remove from pan to cooling rack.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Need for Quiet

Quietness and confidence

As a person living in the year 2014, I struggle to balance the amount of “stuff” I allow to flood into my soul.

Constant images.
Constant information.
Constant input.

As a homeschooling mom, I feel the many demands placed upon me throughout the day.

Constant noises.
Constant needs.
Constant notions.

Everyone needs a good amount of quiet.

Quiet is good for the soul. It allows us to think well, to think clearly without interruption.

Quiet times help us restore our souls, gather ourselves, and gain strength.

Quiet allows us to hear the voice of God and reconnect with Him once again.

Have you had much quiet lately?

Try to set aside some quiet time for yourself every day. You need it.

Linking with:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pizza Bagels

Pizza Bagels

This semester, for our homeschooling co-op, I am teaching a cooking class with a friend of mine. For the first class, I taught how to make pizza bagels, and it was a success!

Pizza bagels are a great option for a simple meal or for children to learn how to make them for the family.

Pizza Bagels
Printable Version

Bagels, split in half
If you would like your bagels to be crunchier, toast them before putting the toppings on.
Pizza or marinara sauce
Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375.

Place bagel halves on tray, inside up.
Spread sauce over bagel face, all the way to the edges.
Place pepperoni on top of sauce.
Put shredded cheese on top of pepperoni.

Bake for approximately 10 minutes.
Cool for a couple minutes before eating.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tips for a Better Homeschool Day

We’re all looking for ways to make our homeschool days function more smoothly; aren’t we? Every year will be different, and sometimes even the days look different! However, there are certain tips I find helpful in trying to keep a more stable homeschool life.

Tips for a Better Homeschool Day

Focus on school
When doing school, stay focused on school. It is easy to lose focus and get pulled in many directions throughout the day – thinking about housework, other responsibilities besides homeschooling, hobbies, social media, etc. Keep your focus on the school day and its needs.

Be available for your kids
During school hours, we need to make ourselves available to our children. They are our priority.

Schedule chore times
Since you are in your house all day, it is easy to see piles, messes, and dirt and want to run off to fix these things. Try to establish chore times that work for you. Separate them into various time slots or days, lump them together into one time slot for each day, or do all of your chores on one day, like Saturday. If you can, complete a chore in the morning, before school, so you feel like you did something before your school day started.

Maximize your mornings and evenings
What we do with our mornings and evenings greatly affects the course of our days. We can accomplish things in the morning that make us feel good as we start our school days, and we can prepare well in the evenings for the next day so we don’t feel so swamped starting a new day.

Keep up with checking and grading
If you allow schoolwork to pile up and not be graded or recorded for a long time, you will feel overwhelmed. Establish good habits and routines for staying on top of checking and grading work.

Simplify breakfasts & lunches and/or prep food at night
Meal preparation and clean-up can take good chunks of time out of our day. If we can simplify food options for breakfast and lunch, especially, we will save ourselves time. If you are making more time-consuming meals, make provision for that in your schedule and try to prep as much food as you can in advance. If your children are old enough, train and allow them to make some of the meals.

Try to keep a positive attitude
When our homeschool days go awry, it can be difficult to maintain a positive attitude. Negativity and discouragement, however, will rob us of precious energy and moments in our days. Do whatever you can to remain positive.

Have a great homeschool day!

Linking up with Teach Me Tuesday at “Growing Home” and Thrive at Home Thursday.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Smoothie Recipes

Smoothie collage

Well, it’s the New Year, and you know what that means… Many people are trying to form healthier habits.

Why not add a daily smoothie to your routine?

Smoothies oftentimes contain very healthful ingredients: fruit, yogurt, superfoods like chia seeds, nuts/nut butters, greens, grains … There is probably no end to the various mixtures you can create!

Here are some of our favorite recipes.

Strawberry Green Smoothie
1 banana, fresh or frozen
(If you use a fresh banana, add a large handful of ice to the blender)
6 frozen strawberries
1 heaping Tablespoon of peanut butter
1 T chia seeds
1/4-1/2 cup of plain yogurt
1 handful of greens, like baby spinach or kale
1/4-1/2 cup rolled oats
2 cups milk
Blend all until smooth.

Blueberry/Vanilla/Almond Smoothie
1 cup greens, like baby spinach or kale
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 banana, fresh or frozen
(If you use a fresh banana, add a large handful of ice to the blender)
1 t vanilla
1/4 –1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 c sliced almonds
2 cups milk
Blend all until smooth.

Banana Split Smoothie
2 frozen bananas
6 frozen strawberries
2 T peanut butter
1 T cocoa
1 T honey
Cover with milk and add extra while blending if necessary, to make it thinner.
Blend all until smooth.

Blueberry Spinach Smoothie
1 cup of frozen blueberries
1 banana
handful of spinach ( I prefer baby leaf… It isn’t as bitter.)
1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
1 cup of water
*optional: add ~1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
Blend all until smooth.

Peanut Butter Smoothie
original recipe found at “Keeper of the Home
Serves 4 to 6
2 cups milk (sometimes I need to add a bit more milk when it is blending to thin it out a bit and make it easier to blend).
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 T cocoa powder
3 T honey
4 frozen bananas, broken into chunks
Blend all until smooth.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Snowball Cookies


It seems fitting to post this recipe for Snowball Cookies, in honor of the “Polar Vortex” storm that hit us recently.

These cookies are decadent. They have A LOT of butter in them, which is partly why they are so rich and tasty.

Some people think of these as Christmas cookies, but they surely fit winter’s ambience quite well!

Snowball Cookies
original recipe found here (The original recipe is made with nuts. I never use them).

Printable Version

1 1/2 cups butter, softened (3 sticks)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 T vanilla extract
1/2 t salt
3 cups flour
2 cups semi-sweet, mini chocolate chips
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in the flour. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Shape level tablespoons of dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. A cookie scooper works well for this. Place on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are set and lightly browned.

Remove from oven and sift powdered sugar over the cookies on the baking sheets.

Cool cookies on baking sheets for 10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Sprinkle with more powdered sugar, if desired.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Vision. What’s Fueling You This Year?

As the New Year begins, many of us have dreams and goals swirling through our heads. We want things to be different. We hope for things to be different.

We may start the New Year fairly well, but did you ever notice how quickly our goals and resolutions can fizzle out come February or March? Life happens, and we realize we can’t do everything all at once or perhaps we can’t even do some of the things we hoped to do.

We need vision for our year, for our lives!

Vision is what fuels us and gives us direction. With a vision set in place, we can continue to pursue life as best as we can - hoping, dreaming, and achieving goals!

2014 Vision

My vision for the year is to FOCUS on and LIVE FULLY the life God has given ME and called ME to live.

I have been too distracted with how other people are living their lives, comparing too much and worrying too much. I want to embrace what God has for me and stay focused on that blessing!

This year, as I step into a fresh year, I am asking God to help me live the life He wants me to live. With that come particulars, some of which God has already shown me, which I hope to share with you throughout the year.

What is the life God wants you to live?

What is your vision for the New Year?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

“The Cozy Nook” Has Tabs and My Top Posts of 2013

top posts 2013

“The Cozy Nook” now has categorized tabs. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, and it is now active. Across the top of my blog, you will see that I have delineated my main categories and linked up some posts I hope you will enjoy reading. I pray you will be blessed by the posts I have listed so far.

My top posts from 2013 were:

Faith/Personal Growth
Rejoice. Pray. Give Thanks.

Motherhood: It’s About Relationship

Pioneer Woman’s Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

My Home Management Notebook

Curriculum Review: Notgrass History

May you be blessed in the New Year!