Friday, February 14, 2014

I've moved

I am now writing over on  Head on over there to check it out!

Monday, February 3, 2014

House to Home: The Kitchen

I covered some of this in an old blog that I used to have, but I wanted to share updates to our kitchen.  We bought our home two and a half years ago with a desire to put in some sweat equity.  Built in 1989 it was in a great location, but not in good condition.  Everything needed cleaned, painted, or replaced.  As I continue on with this House to Home series, you'll see more of what I mean.  For now, let's focus on the kitchen.

The Before:

Unfortunately I did not take pictures prior to beginning our work.  In the pictures above we had already removed two layers of wall paper from the walls and bought new appliances.  There were no appliances when we moved in, which is common with foreclosures.  After removing the wallpaper we did the following:
1. Prepped and painted the walls 
2. Painted the ceiling
3. Painted the trim
4. Replaced the door to the patio (The door seen in the before photos had some rot issues)
5. Painted the cabinets
6. Replaced the cabinet handles and drawer pulls
7. Replaced the old ceiling fan with a light
8. Replaced the old flooring
9. Replaced the counter tops
10. Made and installed a window treatment

Pictures of our Progress
Yes, I know the kitchen is awfully cluttered.  I'm in the process of decluttering.
The green tape marks out where we might put the open shelves.
Still to do:
1. Replace the light above the sink
2. Install the back splash tiles that have been sitting in our garage for a long time
3. Make and Install open shelves above the counter opposite the sink 
4. Major decluttering (in progress!)

My goal this year is to have those last few items done before June!  In the next few House to Home posts I will focus in on the details of the different parts of the kitchen remodel.  We did a lot of the work ourselves and it saved us a ton of money so I definitely want to pass on our experiences to you all.  Tomorrow I am going to talk about one of the things that I think made a huge difference in the kitchen, and that was painting the cabinets.  I used a Rustoleum cabinet transformations kit and I will share all about it in tomorrow's post. 

Super Super Bowl Soup

This soup has absolutely nothing to do with the Super Bowl other than the fact that I made it just before the Super Bowl came on.  Really, I was making it while my husband and son were watching the Puppy Bowl, but the name Puppy Bowl Soup just isn't quite as appealing.  This recipe has its origins in this recipe from Southern Living.  My Papa makes that chicken vegetable stew every Christmas and it is well loved in my family.  Over time I have tweaked the recipe (taken out the lima beans and ham, added more corn) and yesterday I changed it up even more.  I have been focused on working out and eating healthier as a part of my goal to lose the weight since I had baby S about 5 months ago, so I wanted to see if I could pack even more veggies into this stew to maximize my veggie intake.  Here's what I came up with:

2 32 ounce container of chicken broth
2 medium onion
8 stalks celery
2 lb of chicken breast
5 carrots
2 cup of baby spinach leaves
16 ounces of frozen corn
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2/3 cup of ketchup
2 Tablespoons of sugar
6 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of Worchestershire sauce
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
salt and pepper to taste

Put your chicken broth in the dutch oven and bring it to a boil.  

Once it is boiling, add in your chicken, onion, and celery.  Bring it back up to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about half an hour.  Make sure that your chicken is nice and tender and always make sure it's cooked to a safe temperature.  

To speed the preparation up. I used my Vidalia Onion Chopper to quickly cut up the onion and celery.  I love that thing!

Take the chicken out of the dutch over and let it cool down some.  When it has cooled down enough, shred your chicken. 

While the chicken is cooling, cut the carrots into big pieces.  Put about half an inch of water into a saucepan and bring it to a boil.  Then throw in the carrots and spinach and cover the saucepan.  Allow them to steam for about 5 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.  
Dump the carrots and spinach into a colander.  You just don't need to extra water, so this gets rid of it.  Then put the carrots and spinach into the blender.  While blending, I drizzled in some of the hot broth into the blender through the little hole in the top of the lid to help things blend up to a nice consistency. 

Now, this is not the prettiest looking concoction ever, but pureeing the spinach and carrots helps them to disappear into the soup, allowing you to sneak in even more veggies full of nutrients.  You won't even taste them.  Which is fantastic for kids or for grown ups like me who don't really love their veggies.
To finish the soup add the veggie puree, shredded chicken, and all the other remaining ingredients into the dutch oven with the broth.  Bring everything up to a boil, then lower the temperature back down and simmer for half an hour. 

My husband and 3 year old son loved it!  Nutritionally, I would say it's a hit.  I used SparkPeople's Calorie Counter to help me calculate the calorie content for some of the items that I did not know.  Keep in mind that I'm no food chemist, but I this should give you an idea.

Servings: 16 servings
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories per serving: 134

Generally speaking, we fill up our soup bowls when we have this as our meal and our bowls hold about 2 cups of soup, so for us it's about 268 calories for a large bowl full.  Also, I made a huge portion of the soup.  Did you see how full my dutch oven was?  If you want to scale down the recipe so that it makes 8 cups of soup, then cut all the quantities on the ingredient list in half.

Give it a try and let me know how you like it!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Five on Friday

I've been reading the girl in the red shoes for quite some time and Julie, the author participates in a link up hosted by a. liz adventures, carolina charm, hello! happiness, and the good life blog.  I really enjoy her blog, and the link up as it affords me the opportunity to bounce around checking out new blogs and see what others are enjoying.  So here's my first one!  Here are the 5 things I'm currently into:

1. So before I got married, I had been to Mexican restaurants, but I had never had the white cheese dip... Do you know what I'm talking about?  As if the calories from the chips aren't enough, slathering them with cheese just takes it over the top.  We have yet to find a store bought dip that tastes as good, but this one comes pretty close.  It says mild, but it has a bit of a kick!

2. The Paddington Bear for babyGap Collection is to die for!  I love this sweet footie and may have to buy if for baby S, even if the white freaks me out a little in terms of the potential difficulty of keeping it clean.

3. MOPs totally revamped their blog and magazine and let me just say, it is GORGEOUS!  The design is absolutely stunning.  I've enjoyed the articles for some time and now the redesign just makes it even more enjoyable and inspiring.

4. I have been using cloth napkins lately for a few of our meals in lieu of the paper ones.  It feels a little fancy, but it mostly feels less wasteful.  As of now I only have a set of 6 hand me down ones from my aunt, but I've had my eye on purchasing a few more lately, and these from Target have almost jumped into my online cart a few times.  I think I'd go for the dark ones, as that seems more practical with all the spaghetti sauce that gets consumed around here.

5. My husband bought this little wireless digital thermometer a while ago and I didn't really think we needed it, but I love the convenience that it provides in the winter.  With just a quick glance I know the temperature outside and I know how to dress  the boys to brave the great outdoors.

Happy Friday!  

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Boys' Book Bags

I love to read.  My boys love to read.  I have a young preschooler (I refer to him as "A" on the blog) and a baby ("S" on the blog).  My younger son is only a few months old, so he has little say in the matter, but we're working on teaching him to love reading too.  We love to go to the library, but I rarely have time just to browse the shelves because I'm trying to keep an eye on my preschooler and standing in front of a shelf staring at book titles isn't exactly his idea of fun.  Thankfully, my library (like many libraries these days) has their entire catalogue online and I can request books from the comfort of my home and then just pick them up at the circulation desk.  I love to get recommendations of books from other moms and blogs online, so I thought I would make my own lists of recommendaitons.  It would be too difficult to narrow a list down to just a few, so I hope to make this a recurring series in which I share the books my boys are into.  You can probably find all of these on Amazon, but if you're like me and you could spend all your money on books, then keep an eye out for them at yard sales or borrow them from the library.

So withouth further ado...

A's List (Preschool Boy)
1. Read with Me Bible
A LOVES this Bible.  I find that it is written at the perfect level for my young preschooler.  The illustrations are great and we read two of these stories every night.  He INSISTS that we read two.

2. The Complete Adventures of Curious George
Our son cannot get enough of curious George, whether it is the books or the tv show.  This is a collection of the original Curious George stories written by Margret and H. A. Rey.  It is a classic and even though the stories are rather long, they completely hold our son's attention.  The back of this collection also has an informative section with information about Margret and H. A. Rey that I thought was interesting.

3. Curious George Bedtime Stories
This is our second collection of Curious George stories.  These are newer stories, written after the originals.  A loves these as well, and they are shorter than the ones in our original collection.

4. The Monster at the End of this Book
Elmo is by far A's favorite Sesame Street character, but my husband does such an amazing job reading this book with him that he just adores it.

5. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
For some reason my son loves mice.  I don't know why, but he thinks that they are really cute.  

S's List (Baby Boy)
1. Hand Hand Fingers Thumb
This is so delightfully rhythmic that it's quite fun to read to him.  It's very Dr. Seuss-like.  The length is perfect for S's attention span.  

2. Guess How Much I Love You
If there is one thing that I want my boys to know it is that they are loved.  This is just such a gentle, sweet book to read to S before bed.

3. Clifford's Peekaboo
We have four of these Clifford board books and as you can see by the wear on the spine, they are well loved in our family.  

4. The Very Hungry Catterpillar
We have this both in English and in Spanish because it's so enjoyable.  Eric Carle's bright illustrations help keep baby S's attention.

5. Goodnight Moon
This is just the ultimate bedtime book.  I love reading this one to my boys.  It is a classic for good reason.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Hi and welcome to Mary Martha Mama!  I'm Cat and I wear a lot of hats as a 30 something woman, wife, and mama to two little boys.  This blog is something that has been ruminating in my mind and heart for over a year now.  I wanted a place to let out a little creativity and partake in the community of moms out there on the internet.  Why did I choose "Mary Martha Mama" as the title of my blog?  It has to do with all those different hats that I wear on a daily basis.

In the Bible we read several accounts of interaction between Jesus and the sibling group of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.  Mary is often remembered as the one who sat listening to Jesus' teachings.  I find my identity foremost in my relationship with God.  Before any other role, this is the one that defines me.  I am loved and redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and so I am a Child of God.  As wives and mothers, sometimes our lives are very full, but it is so important and refreshing to stop and listen and focus on our spiritual growth and development.  And so here I hope to stop and reflect, and share about my spiritual life and in particular books and other resources that I find helpful which in turn I hope helps others.

While Mary was sitting and listening, Martha was busy preparing the meal and making the house preparations for the guests.  The home maker part of me really relates to Martha.  I love to make a great meal for others and we are working on making our house a beautiful, comfortable home for our family and guests to enjoy.  Sharing great recipes, cleaning tips, and decorating ideas is so much fun and I am greatly looking forward to it.

I cherish my two boys.  They are absolutely gifts from God.  Having kids is the most rewarding and joyous thing I have ever done, but it is also the most difficult.  Hands down.  No contest.  So many moms out there have helped me by sharing their experiences and ideas that I hope to be able to do that for someone else.  And let me just say, this is a judgement free zone.  A lot of moms out there feel the need to be judgmental about other moms' decisions.  If there is anything that motherhood has taught me, it's not to judge.  Yes, you should feel passionately about your decisions and experiences, but don't assume that your choices are the only correct ones or the right ones for another mom's situation.  We often only see a very small piece of someone else's picture, so we really can't know everything that is going on in that mother's life.  Instead of judging, I want to focus on sharing in the journey of motherhood and helping each other along the way.

I am not terribly original, and I tell my husband that all my best ideas are "stolen" from others, but I always give credit to my sources.  I may not be an expert, but perhaps by sharing my experiences and ideas that I have picked up along the way, then I can help someone else out there too.  So come along with me and let's have some fun along the way.