Thursday, December 16, 2010

Other Christmas Cookies

Today was cookie making day at our house. The biggest girl helped add the ingredients to the mixer while the littlest girl screamed in protest that she was not able to eat the dough or even reach the mixer. We had fun to say the least.

We made three different kinds of cookies...all types that I have never made before for Christmas, two of which I have never made at all before. They have all been tasted and passed with flying colors!

The first cookie we made was the Homemade Oreos which you can find at Smitten Kitchen and my tips in this post.
Cookie Day
The other two I found in my current issue of Ladies Home Journal. (I have no idea how I got a subscription to. It comes in my name but I never paid for one. It is not a magazine I would generally look at but it's free and it comes to my mailbox.)

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies (found on a Betty Crocker advertisement in the magazine)
1 pouch or box of sugar cookie mix
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 t. mint extract
6-8 drops green food coloring
1 egg
1 c. creme de menthe baking chips (***see note below)
1. c. semisweet chocolate chunks

Mix cookie mix, butter, extract, food coloring and egg in bowl, until soft dough forms. Stir in creme de menthe baking chips and chocolate chunks. Using small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to wire rack. Serve warm or cool completely. Makes 36 cookies.

***I could not find creme de menthe baking chips so I bough a box of Andes chocolate mints, unwrapped them (with the help of two beautiful little girls), and chopped them up.

White Chocolate Thumbprints
2 2/3 c. flour
1 t. salt
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 large egg
1 t. vanilla extract
9 oz. white chocolate, chopped

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour and salt. In another bowl beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium high until fluffy, about 4 min. then beat in egg and vanilla. On low speed, stir in flour mixture. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 1 1/2 hours. Roll 1 inch balls of dough and place 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Flatten each ball slightly; using your finger or a round half teaspoon, make an indentation in the center of each. Bake cookies about 15 minutes until cooked through but not golden. Re-indent center if needed and cool on baking sheets. Melt chocolate in 15 second increments in the microwave, stirring between each pass until just melted, 1 - 2 minutes total. Spoon white chocolate into cookie indents. Let set about 1 hour. Makes 5 1/2 dozen.

***I also sprinkled green and red sugar on the white chocolate before it set. They look really pretty with that.
Cookie Day
So...go bake! YUM!

Homemade Oreos

That title alone should have you drooling! I stumbled on a recipe for Homemade Oreos from Smitten Kitchen a couple of months ago and knew they would be made some point at Christmas. They have now been made twice. I made a batch for my mom's group cookie exchange and have a batch ready to be filled on the counter.

They are delicious! I do not get as many cookies as the recipe says it will yield. I actually only get like half so hers must be much smaller. I LOVE using my mini ice cream scoop for cookie dough so it must not be small enough. She also says to use your fingers to flatten the cookie, I dipped a glass with a flat bottom in warm water and flattened them. I thought that worked much better.

Also follow the recipes directions! When I made them the first time I creamed my butter and sugar then added the dry ingredients like I was taught to without paying attention the actual recipe until after I was done. This time I followed the directions and they turned out a little different, probably how they are supposed to turn out.

The filling is super, super thick and sweet. When I make it today, I'm going to add a little milk to the mixture. Last time I also did the peppermint extract in place of the vanilla which I will do again because peppermint screams Christmas! Then I divided the frosting in half and made half green and half red. They were so cute!

You definitely need to try these!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Brunch Treats

Today was one of my mom's group's Christmas craft workshop. We got to sit around, eat yummy food and make some really fun things all while our children were in the care of some awesome people. BLISS!!!! I had signed up to bring something for the amazing food spread. I wanted to share with you what I made because both items were oh so yummy!

I had put my name under "Egg Casserole" when I signed up and I wanted to make something a little different from the normal breakfast casserole. After scouring Pioneer Woman's breakfast recipes, I came across Eggs Florentine Casserole. It was scrumptious and different from the norm. It makes a 9 x 13" dish of casserole and I came home with two tiny corner pieces left. That's always a good sign.

I used frozen hasbrowns...DO NOT TELL PIONEER WOMAN! It's just so much easier than grating potatoes and it tasted good anyways. I also used a 1 lb. package of breakfast sausage and fried it up while crumbling it.

I absolutely LOVE Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Magazine. It is my favorite recipe magazine. I always learn something and find recipes that I want to make. I treated myself to buying the December issue since I usually just check it out at the library. I found another recipe that I wanted to make to take to my mom's group also.

Sausage-Cheddar Balls
45 sausage balls

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups grated cheddar
1 lb bulk breakfast sausage
1/2 large yellow onion, grated on large holes of a box grater
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, ground pepper, cayenne pepper and baking powder. Add grated cheddar and toss to coat. Add sausage, grated onion and melted butter.

3. With your hands, mix until well blended and roll mixture into 1-inch balls. Place balls, 1/2 inch apart, on baking sheet. Bake until balls are golden and cooked through about 25 minutes. Serve warm.

***I chopped my onion finely instead of grating it but next time might grate it to get even smaller pieces. I would also use just a little bit less of the cayenne. They had a good kick to them but were still so very yummy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pillowcase Dresses

I have been in love with pillowcase dresses for a long time. I have a beautiful vintage pillowcase just waiting to be made into a summer dress for my oldest daughter. Alas I kept procrastinating and/or forgetting. The other day I was in JoAnne's and decided my girls needed matching Christmas pillowcase dresses and it was time for me to do it! So I picked out some fabric. It wasn't exactly what I wanted but it works and they turned out cute.
Christmas Sisters
I used the tutorial found HERE on Naptime Crafts. I added a trim to the bottom of their dresses to set them off. Between the main dress fabric and the trim fabric I sewed on a red pom-pom trim which really added to the dresses, I think.

I am happy with how they turned out. I especially LOVE seeing my girls in something I made for them. Obviously since it is winter and blustery out we added the red leggings and white turtlenecks.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Felted Sweater Garland

A few weeks ago I was able to get together with a really sweet friend who loves to make crafts. She had a really sweet project started that we got to finish together. (A friend, a craft, yummy food, awesome conversation and lots of laughs equates bliss.) She had bought some wool sweaters and felted them. (Washing in hot water and drying.) Then she cut out mitten, heart, and star shapes and glued matching sweater pairs together with fabric glue except for one small hole where she stuffed the shapes with stuffing.
Christmas Garland
This was what she had done already. Then together we stitched all the way around the edges with black embroidery thread. We stitched some small hearts onto some of the shapes and added button and rafia. To finish we strung all of our shapes onto twine to make a garland. At home I tied on strips of Homespun fabric for a finishing touch. The garland is hanging in my kitchen entry. I love how it turned out.
Christmas Garland
To give it a homey look I used clothespins to hang it. I attached those sticky removable strips to the clothespins and tied the twine to the two end clothespins then hung it from the wall.

Cranberry Pork

I discovered this recipe on a Facebook friend's page and have made it several times since. We LOVE it. It is probably our family favorite right now.

Cranberry Pork Roast
1 (3 lb.) boneless pork loin roast, trimmed ***See note below
2 cans jellied whole-berry cranberry sauce
1/2 c. steak sauce
2 T. brown sugar
2 t. prepared mustard
4 T. water
4 T. cornstarch

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over medium high heat. Add roast; cook until browned on all sides. Place roast in 4-5 qt. electric slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Combine cranberry sauce, steak sauce, brown sugar, and mustard; pour over roast. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours or high heat 4-5 hours. Remove roast from sauce, cover and keep warm. Combine water and cornstarch, stirring until smooth. Slowly stir cornstarch mixture into sauce in slow cooker. Pour mixture (very carefully) into a 1 quart microwave safe glass dish. Microwave at high heat for 2 minutes, stirring after one minute. Serve roast with cranberry sauce.

***I have been using pork loin chops instead of the roast because they have been on sale and they were wonderfully in the recipe. I also never have steak sauce so I just mix up some ketchup and Worcestershire sauce to make a 1/2 cup mixture.

You really need to make this. It is so easy and the flavor is AMAZING! It is really good served with a side of couscous and a vegetable like sauteed spinach with fresh mushrooms, onions and balsamic vinegar.

A Little Sweet Treat

This past Wednesday we had a couple friends over to decorate cookies. I wanted to make a little snack for us and wanted it to be easy after making bunches of sugar cookies. I found this little gem in my recipe box and decided to finally try it. Super easy, super good!

Honey Cream Filled Crescents
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 T. honey
1/4 c. sliced almonds
1 pkg. crescent roll

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cream cheese and 2 T. honey; stir in almonds. Unroll crescent roll dough; separate into 8 triangles. Spread 1 rounded T. of the cream cheese mixture onto each triangle; roll each up loosely. Place rolls on ungreased baking sheet; curve each into crescent shape. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Serve rolls warm, drizzled with remaining honey.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Best Part of the Thanksgiving Meal

In my opinion the very best part of the Thanksgiving meal is the dressing, stuffing...whichever you call it. My great aunt shared with me her recipe for the dressing many yearer recipe for the dressing many years back and it is what I use every year. It has never failed me and is always, always, always delicious and continues to be my favorite part of the meal. It also is really nice because it is cooked in the crock-pot making for one less thing to have to cram into the oven.

Crockpot Dressing
1 c. butter
2 c. chopped onion
2 c. chopped celery
1/4 c. parsley
2 cans mushrooms, drained (8 oz. cans)
12-13 c. bread cubes
2 well beaten eggs
1 t. poultry seasoning
1 1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. sage
1 t. thyme
1/2 t. pepper
3 1/2 - 4 1/2 c. broth

Melt the butter in a saucepan and sautee the celery and onion until tender. Add in the mushrooms. Add in the parsley, poultry seasoning, salt, sage, thyme and pepper. Pour over bread cubes. Toss well. Pour in broth to moisten. Add eggs. Mix well. Pack lightly into crockpot. Cover. Set on high for 45 minutes. Reduce to low and cook 4-8 hours.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Birthday Gifts

My girls were invited to a birthday party a couple of weeks ago. Our budget is pretty tight with Daddy in school so I decided to make a couple of things to give to the birthday girl. I made her a little cupcake fabric apron to use when she helps her mommy in the kitchen.
I like to make the neck loop a little big so they can grow into the apron. I just knot the excess so it fits better.

I also made her a little crayon roll out of the same fabric. I am not really that great of a seamstress when it comes to following a pattern. I like to think through the project and just kind of do it my own way and that is what I did here. My mother-in-law had made my oldest daughter one a few years ago so I just looked hers over well and came up with my own design.
Crayon Roll
I was so happy with how it turned out and it was really pretty easy.
Crayon Roll
There is something about a handmade gift that is so fun to give and to receive. These two gifts didn't take much fabric so I was able to use things I had on hand. They also really didn't take alot of time to make. Handmade is great!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Look Ma, No Recipe

First off I need to answer a question from the comments in my previous post because I just know some of you are losing sleep over wondering. The question pertained to how the neighbors responded to our peace offering. Well....I don't know. They didn't answer the door when we knocked so we hung our treats from their door knobs. Nothing has been said to us, but that is ok.

Now on to what I want to share today. I have always and forever been a fan of recipes. Like...I can't cook without a recipe. I do not just whip things up. There needs to be a plan otherwise known as a recipe.

Well, I have made 3 things in the past few weeks solely on what I know about cooking now from watching umpteen Food Network shows at my mother-in-law's house "back in the day" and having seen a recipe at one point or another.

The first thing was turkey burgers. We loooooove these and they are easy! I learned from Rachael Ray that you must add veggies to turkey meat because it is drier. The veggies will boost the flavor and juiciness. I rarely buy beef anymore and was craving burgers so I jumped in. I chopped up some carrots, onion, and garlic. I mixed this in with the turkey meat and fried them up in the pan. YUM! They were awesome. I went a bit overboard with the veggies but it worked. I have also used fresh basil and spinach in them. So good!!!!!!

The next thing that I made was Chicken Pot Pie. I had made THIS recipe a couple of weeks back so I had a basic idea. I started by sautéing carrots, onion, celery and garlic in butter. Then I whisked in some flour then added some milk and chicken stock. I let that thicken up and added some shredded chicken, sage, salt, pepper, and a bag of frozen peas.

For the pot pie part of the meal I used an old family recipe which goes like this:
Whisk one egg, add enough milk to make a cup. Add enough flour to make a sticky dough. Roll out and cut into strips or squares.

I cut mine into small-ish squares and dropped them in the pan. They cooked quickly. This was a hit with the family too. My oldest daughter had 3 servings!

My last thing was just something that I decided to try. There was no recipe that I had seen at one time or another. I melted half a stick of butter in a frying pan and threw in cubed summer squash. I stirred it around and covered it with a lid. Once the squash was tender, I added some dark brown sugar and let it get all syrupy. This was AMAZING! Again my daughter said, "Mommy, this squash is really good!"

I just need to share because I am a teensy, weensy bit proud that I can now just sort of throw some things together. It is a great feeling.

BUT I still love recipes and will be using them for probably 90% of my cooking!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Peace Offering

It all began at 6:00 a.m. yesterday morning. She awoke screaming and crying as she has almost everyday of her 19 month old life. This time the morning cuddle did not help. She cried, she screamed, she squawked, she threw herself the floor in fits. IT.WAS.BAD. I knew it was bad because I heard the neighbors slamming doors and Daddy awoke from his deep sleeping state. Finally we were able to calm her down and she fell asleep in my arms for another 45 minutes.

Later while getting ready for church Daddy said, "Maybe we owe the neighbors an apology." IT.WAS.THAT.BAD. I decided my oldest daughter and I would make pumpkin cookies to give to the neighbors as a peace offering.

That is exactly what we did. We made these Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and they were so good. I love making cookies for others because after you've given some away there aren't many left to tempt you.

The cookies were so good too! I love oatmeal raisin so the addition of pumpkin, well that just puts it over the top!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Simple Crafting

I have made a few things over the past couple of weeks that I wanted to share with you because they were ridiculously easy.

The first were super girl capes for my girls. I just cut out a rectangle piece of fabric, angled it a bit going up the long sides. Then I stitched a hem all around it and sewed a piece of ribbon to the top for them to tie their capes on with. I also cut their initials out of felt and sewed those to the capes. EASY!
Super GirlSuper Girl
My oldest daughter is OBSESSED with baby dolls (well, so is the younger one) so I made her a sling to carry her babies around in. I do have to admit I was so excited for her to play with this and she hasn't been that into it. I'm hoping that over time she will.
Baby Wearing
This again was so easy! I just cut a large rectangle out making sure it was long enough to go around her like a baby sling and wide enough to fold in half. Then I sewed the long sides together and then the middle seam. EASY!
Baby Wearing
The last thing I made was trick or treat bags for the girls to use on Halloween and in the years to come. I got the idea from this post Kayla Aimee wrote (If you don't read her blog, you need to. She is HILARIOUS!) and she got the idea from HERE.
Trick or Treat Bag
I am in love with banners/buntings...whatever you call them so I went with that for my bags and because I try to stay away from the "spooky" side of Halloween. I tried out Liquid Stitch for this project because sewing things on to a canvas bag with the sewing machine is too frustrating. This was awesome stuff. It was messy on the fingers but it washed right off. It has held up through one night of trick or treating so far too! I made sure to put the glue as close to the edge of the fabric so that it would not fray which seems to have worked. To finish the bags I stenciled the word "CANDY" across the top with orange paint.
University Trick or Treating
Love these!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blessing Others

I am so guilty of getting stuck in my own little world and not reaching out to others. This is an even bigger problem now that we are in a newer community. I don't know a lot of people here so I don't have anyone to reach out to, right? WRONG!

I have really been feeling the need to bless others around me. I want my girls to look back and remember the times we reached out to those around us. I want them to know it is important to show kindness to others.

A couple of weeks ago at our church's mom's group a woman from within the church came to speak to us about our true value. This was a quote that she shared with us that I have been trying to cling to:
"Comparison is the thief of joy."

It is!!!!! Comparing myself to anyone robs me of joy and the blessings that God has given me and the desire to bless others. It makes me feel dissatisfied with how things are. A direct result of that is that I don't reach out to others. We are called to pursue people but when I am selfishly consumed with me and comparing myself, I don't.

I am so bad about comparing myself. It's not what God wants from me. I am enough. I am perfectly and wonderfully made.

So....last week my daughter and I made 10 dozen cookies that we bagged up and took to some of our new friends. We blessed them with something so small as cookies but it was a delight to see smiles on their faces when we knocked on doors and handed over a bag with a yummy fall snack in it. My daughter and I talked about how it made our friends feel that we did this for them and how it made us feel. She was so excited about this little thing.

I am brainstorming other things we can do together that will bless others and hope to make this a part of our routine for years to come!

We made Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies from THIS recipe. They were yummy and it made 10 dozen which is perfect for giving away.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Comforty Food

It is fall. I am basking in the glory of cooking comfort food type things. They go hand in hand with the colors and smells of the season. Tonight for supper I made a recipe from Everyday food : Fresh Flavor Fast : 250 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Any Time of Day. I tweaked the recipe a bit by changing one thing and adding some other things. I will give you my tweaked recipe.

Chicken and Dumplings
3 T. butter
1 onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 t. sage (or thyme)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. flour (divided into 1/4 c. and 3/4 c.)
1 - 1 1/2 cans of chicken broth
1 1/2 lb. chicken thighs, cut into 2" pieces
3/4 t. dill
1 3/4 t. baking powder
1/2 c. milk
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen peas

Melt butter. Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and sage. Cook 5 min. Add 1/4 c. flour stirring into vegetable mixture. Add chicken broth, bring to boil, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Nestle chicken in the pot, reduce heat to med. low. Cover, cook 20 min.

Dumplings: Whisk 3/4 c. flour with dill, baking powder, and 1/2 t. salt. With fork gradually stir in 1/2 c. milk.

Stir peas in the pot. Return to simmer and drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls, leaving space between dumplings. Cover and simmer 20 or until dumplings are cooked.

***Tonight I boiled a whole chicken for one hour then took the meat off the bones. I used about half of the meat in this recipe so I didn't need to cook the chicken for 20 minutes. It worked fine!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Yumminess of Fall

Fall has been so majestic this year. It is simply divine. We had some rain move through earlier and I am hoping beyond hope those drops that quenched our dry earth did not take down the beauty on the tree tops.

I took my girls to an apple orchard last week to pick apples (only to discover that there were no more apples to pick) and discovered a new favorite fall treat, the apple cider slushy! It was so good that when I saw a sign for another orchard two days ago on a quick trip to the zoo, we stopped so Mama could get a slushy!

I also needed another half gallon of fresh apple cider. My favorite thing to do this time of year is warm a mug of cider at the end of the day. It's fall in a cup!

I have also been stocking my pantry with canned pumpkin. I am afraid of another shortage so every time we hit the grocery, I grab a couple more cans. The other night for supper my daughter voted for pancakes so I found a great recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes HERE on allrecipes. It was scrumptious. I loved that they weren't too sweet since you add just a bit of brown sugar. That way when you add the syrup you aren't getting a sugar overload. I also loved how they became light and cakey. This is a keeper recipe for me!

Tonight as the weather cooled during the rain, I made a new soup recipe, Roasted Vegetable Minestrone found HERE from the one and only Pioneer Woman! It was really easy and very good. I did add a few cloves of garlic to the onion, celery, and carrot sauté. This recipe made a huge pot of soup, so we have left-overs for tomorrow plus a big container freezing for later use. Next time I think I would add a can of tomato sauce as I like my minestrone more tomatoey. (I know that isn't actually a word.)

What are you cooking this fall?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Grab a Straw!

As I approached the street my heart skipped a few beats. I flicked my turn signal so I could make the left hand turn. Two sweet little girls were sound asleep behind me in the van so I could lose myself in memories. How is it over a year already? It feels like just yesterday we walked down that familiar block to the little park with a picnic in hand and a baby in the stroller.

I came to a complete stop at the three way stop as I always did after being kindly reminded by an officer a few years back. There were the two Victorian homes that looked like they belong in the pages of a book about doll houses. There was the chain link fence marking our driveway which was now filled with two cars that I don't recognize.

There is the house...our home. Oh, my heart almost floated away. I have missed that house so much. It looked so different yet so much the same to me. I wanted to turn in to that driveway, take my girls out of the van, and scurry in to get supper started but I drove on. I drove on down the street to the end and turned.

I saw a new mother pushing her new baby in the stroller with tears streaming down her face as she fought feelings of inadequacy and being overwhelmed. (She was on her phone so I am sure she was talking to her best friend who told her she was doing just fine and it would get so much easier.) Then I passed a mom pushing a little girl who was a bit older and she had that pregnant glow on her face. Then there just a ways up the street was a mother pushing a brand new baby with her big sister in front. She looked pretty sleep deprived but she was beaming with pride over her brood.

Then I came back to the main street, the beautiful tree lined main street and turned to head out of town back to my new home.

I kind of wished I could go back in time to that younger mom and tell her, "Enjoy this moment. Live it to it's fullest. Don't take it for granted. Change will come as it always does. Suck the marrow out of what you have now and hang on during the ride."

As I drove south with those two older girls asleep in the back, I realized that is what I need to do now. Suck the marrow out of this moment. (I love that line that I got from Kelle Hampton. She has inspired me to want to suck out the marrow!) Yes, I live in an apartment. Yes, my husband goes to school full time. Yes, we are in a way, starting over in our mid-30's while everyone else around us seems settled. Yes, change scared the heck fire out of me. BUT I have this moment. I will never get it back. So, pull up the stool, grab a straw and start sucking out the good stuff.

I found this quote on a friend's Facebook page today and boy, did it hit me in between the eyes.
"You are the way you are because that's the way you want to be. If you really wanted to be any different, you would be in the process of changing right now." (I couldn't make out the name of the person who said this quote. Sorry!)

Start looking at the glass being half full and not half empty!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Delightful Recipe

A couple of weeks I was up north visiting family and friends and a sweet friend shared with me one of her favorite recipes with me. I promptly came back home and tested it out. It is being added here because it was delightful! The ingredient list sounds a bit strange but when mixed together and baked into a gooey masterpiece it is really good.

Curry Chicken Delight

4 chicken breasts
1/3 c. flour
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 c. honey
2 T. mustard
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. curry powder

Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry, then coat with flour. Brown chicken in bacon drippings (or oil). Transfer chicken to an 8x8 dish. Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for 30 minutes. Combine honey, mustard, salt, and curry powder. Drizzle this over the chicken. Bake uncovered 15 minutes longer. Top with bacon and serve over rice.

*I used a couple more chicken breasts and a 9x13 dish but needed more of the ooey gooey goodness so I would recommend sticking to 4 chicken breasts in the smaller pan or making a double batch of the ooey gooey goodness.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

PUMPKIN SEASON IS HERE! Can we get an Hallelujah Chorus there? And even better...there is canned pumpkin in the store. Hello sweet nectar of fall!!!!

Last year I couldn't find it anywhere and was a bit perplexed as to what I was going to do this year without pumpkin treats. Yes, I know...pie pumpkins! I've never done that but I was ready to slice and dice a pumpkin for treats. But then my sweet friend emailed me last week and told me she had discovered the canned yummy goodness at our local grocery store and it was on sale so OFF I WENT with bells on.

I bought 4 cans right then and there! I have since made a pumpkin pie for hubby (his all time favorite pie) which disappeared last night. Where did that pie go? I can not for the life of me figure that one out. Haha!

This afternoon our home smelled of spices and pumpkin as 2 stunning loaves of pumpkin bread baked in our oven. I just know they would have been pinned with blue ribbons back in the day of 4-H!

Speaking of 4-H, that is where my trusty Pumpkin Bread recipe came from and it has not failed me since those awkward days of teenagedom. I would like to share this recipe with you.

Pumpkin Bread
3 c. sugar
1 c. oil
4 eggs
1 lb. pumpkin
2/3 c. water
3 1/2 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. allspice
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cloves
(I always substitute my spices with pumpkin pie spice. I used 3 1/2 t. of pumpkin pie spice.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 bread pans. Mix sugar and oil. Add beaten eggs. Mix in pumpkin and water. Add dry ingredients. Mix 3-4 minutes. Pour into prepared bread pans, spreading into corners. Bake 1` 1/2 hours or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. (My bread baked in 1 hour 20 minutes.)

Monday, September 27, 2010


I feel it. I feel the lack of patience creeping in and the burden of being easily frustrated. I have said it here before but I'm going to say it again, my personality type needs time alone to rejuvenate and time alone has not been a common thing in these parts. Oh, I love my girls to the moon and back and a bushel and a peck, but mama's feeling it again.

I am heading home this weekend for a cousin's wedding and mentioned to someone that my hubby will be HOME.ALONE.ALL.WEEKEND and I felt the jealousies creep in. Now he will be working and studying but he will be alone.

Then I found myself wondering, "What would I do with that much time to myself?" and my mouth started salivating and my head spinning. I would read, a novel, not a children's book. I would go to the bathroom ALONE! I would SLEEP IN past 6:00 a.m. I would watch a chick flick in the middle of the day. I would steal away to some coffee shop with said novel and my computer and WASTE TIME! I would eat hummus and pita chips for supper. I would end the day curled up on the couch with another chick flick.

But then by the end of the first day...I would probably miss my curly headed little girls and long to kiss their sweet lips and smell their freshly bathed heads. I am so blessed, I do know that.

A weekend alone is probably not going to happen so I may have to test the hubby waters for an afternoon of solitude so I can recharge my mama batteries.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Laundry Soap

I finally did it. I have been wanting to do it for so long. I have friends who have done it and are singing it's praises! So....I did it! I made my own laundry soap.

I followed the recipe found HERE! The only thing I did different was use Kirk's Castile soap. Someone told me to stay away from Fels Naptha as it is a carcinogen. Kirk's is all natural. Hubby struggles with some skin sensitivities so I thought Kirk's would work better for us.

The detergent is supposed to turn into a glob (very illustrious word, don't ya think?). Mine did not. After 24 hours it was still very liquidy. After talking to several friends who make their own detergent, they all thought I should go ahead and use it because it had what it needed in it. Instead of using 3/4 c., I have been using 1 c. After a couple of weeks I have noticed it is turning globbier and globbier than it had been. (I know...globbier is not a word! But it works here.)

I think when I make it next time, I will just make the powdered version and not cook the soap down.

A great idea I got from another friend is to take a bottle of Downy and mix it in a bucket of water. Cut some cheap sponges in half and throw those in the bucket. When you put your clothes in the dryer, ring out the excess liquid from one sponge and throw it in the dryer too. This will replace your fabric softener/softener sheets. I want to try this too!

By doing these two simple things, we are saving a bunch of money on cleaning items! How great is that?

A Blessing from Afar

Let me start by saying that I am in NO way trying to toot my own horn. I just want to share with you a really great idea! After our car accident last May I had a friend who lives 4 hours away message me on Facebook. She said she wanted to order pizza for us to be delivered to our home since she didn't live close enough to bring us a meal. What a great idea!!!! How very clever.

I can not tell you the times when I have thought how nice it would be to take a meal to a friend or family member but distance was an issue.

Having meals provided for me after having our children and after our car accident have been such times of blessing to our family. Do you take meals to loved ones who live close by during times of need? It is a HUGE blessing! I urge you to do that if you haven't done it before.

And for those who live far away? Call in a pizza order to a pizza place (or some other restaurant that delivers) and pay for it with your credit/bank card.

We just did this for my hubby's cousin who just had a baby. It felt so good to know she was eating a meal she didn't have to make after having her baby. One thing: be sure to tell the person you are ordering from the situation and that you are paying with your credit card but won't be at the home the order is being delivered to. Pizza Hut would not let me do this since the credit card had to be shown when the order was delivered. I ended up using Papa John's and they had no problem with the situation.

What a great way to bless a family that isn't near! We were so blessed when this was done for us.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


My long lost friend is coming.
I can feel it.
I am filled with anticipation and excitement.
I am ready to go dig out the box of decorations I have tucked away in our basement for her arrival.
I bought two small mini-pumpkins at the Farmer's Market to mark the nearness of her visit.
I hope beyond hope that her stay is prolonged this year.
She typically comes and then just as soon as she is here, she is gone.
I'm hoping that this year, she will linger and that she will bring with her a vibrant wardrobe of color.
The trees looks as if they are ready to burst too as they prepare this wardrobe of colors for her.
I want to pick out one special candle in a scent that reminds me of her.
I washed my living room windows and sliding glass door today so I can watch for her.
I will probably bake something in her honor soon too.
I hear Starbucks is anticipating her arrival too with Pumpkin Spice Lattes returning to their menu so I'll have to have one soon to thank them for thinking of her too.
I think she would be delighted to find a mum waiting on our front porch for her.
The sweatshirts and jackets are washed and ready so we can take strolls outside with her to breathe in her scent and hear her sounds.
Come soon, friend and stay awhile!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tortilla Soup with Black Beans

We love black beans! I found this recipe awhile back but decided to make it on one of the hottest days of summer because we all know how great a hot bowl of soup is on a hot summer day! Ha! Our place is air conditioned so it wasn't so bad. In fact, it was awesome. This was a hit with my hubby and oldest daughter.

Tortilla Soup with Black Beans
1 T. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. chili powder
2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes in juice
2 cans (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can chicken broth
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen corn
1 c. crushed tortilla chips
1 T. lime juice

Heat oil over medium heat. Cook garlic and chili powder for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, beans, broth, corn and 1 c. water. Season with salt and pepper. Bring this to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Add chips; cook until softened. Remove from heat; stir in lime juice. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream on top.

Your family will love you, but might love you more if you wait until a cooler day next time to make this!

Tuesday Night Rambling

IT.IS.HOT! We are under a heat advisory and watch for the rest of today and all day tomorrow. It is miserable outside. I don't like heat like this. If I have to be out in it, I get grumpy. I thoroughly enjoy the temperatures that come with fall. I am not ashamed to say that I am very much looking forward to fall.

I could not live in an area that doesn't have seasonal changes because I could not make it without seeing my world transform from green to brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow. It is magical. I love everything about fall, the aromas and the sights. I also dearly love to walk outside and not be hit by a wall of heat and humidity.

My one hope for fall is that is will last. It seems to be over as soon as it arrives. I am hopeful for a fall that will hang on this year so that we can enjoy each and every minute of beauty and crisp air.

Watching God's hand at work as he creates a masterpiece of color in the trees is absolutely brilliant. His is an amazing artist in each season.

We purchased a new children's Bible story book for our daughter's 4th birthday. I had read about the book on Angie Smith's blog Bring the Rain. I also knew some friends that had it for their children. I can't say enough about it. Peanut looks forward to it each night, anticipating the upcoming story. She sleeps with it and some nights I hear her retelling the stories that we have already read or making up stories about the ones we haven't. I love that each story ends with foreshadowing of what or Who is to come.

The name of the book is PERFECT, The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name. That is exactly how each story ends. The story doesn't end, it fills you with anticipation for what is to come, the Rescuer. I have enjoyed reading it with her each night almost as much as she enjoys hearing the stories.

I am thrilled to see her excited about these stories and for her to hear how God has helped his people since the beginning of time. How He has never given up on us, even when we are in the mire of sin.

I highly recommend this book if you have littles at home or for a family with littles.

On a completely different note, I am getting close to 150 posts. I am thinking of doing a giveaway or something for that post. I'll keep you in suspense though! A giveaway would be a great way to actually get some comments on here again though. Ha! Keep checking back to see if I do it or wait until 200 posts.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Butter Chicken

There is a block on a beautiful tree lined street in our community filled with old homes that have been turned into ethnic restaurants. There is Korean, Mediterranean, Tibetan, Irish, Vietnamese, Thai, and Indian (among a few others). Each place we have tried has been so good. My favorite has been Indian. There is a newer Indian restaurant on this block that we have tried a couple of times and where I found the most amazing chicken dish, Butter Chicken.

After having it the first time I came home and looked for a recipe online. The recipes that I found all called for a bunch of spices that I didn't have and probably wouldn't use that much.

Then lo and behold the Pioneer Woman wrote about a recipe she had found on her Tasty Kitchen site for Butter Chicken. Upon checking it out I found that I had all the spices it needed except one, ground coriander. I made the recipe on Sunday and it was fantastic. It tasted pretty similar to what we had at the restaurant too.

Hubby was a happy man and proclaimed, "I would pay $15.00 to eat something like that." Later he said, "I could eat like that all of the time." I replied with, " you wouldn't. That was made with a full pint of heavy whipping cream." Haha!

I served the butter chicken over brown rice. Also the recipe calls for 1/2 t. of cayenne pepper and says that you might need to cut back as it can make it spicy. I used the full amount and we didn't think it was very spicy at all.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


All summer long I find myself saying that my favorite fruit is whatever is in season...strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, raspberries...BUT THEN peach season comes and I remember...Peaches are my favorite. I love peaches. They are delectable. They are pricey too but today I splurged and bought a box at our local farmer's market. Fresh Smells
(Image found HERE.)

After searching online for a bit, I found a great Peach Pie recipe to use my delectable peaches in. The recipe is a WINNER! This will be my go-to peach pie recipe now.

For the crust I used the easy Pat in the Pie Plate crust.

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. oil
1 t. salt
2 T. sugar
2 T. milk
Mix together all ingredients with pastry blender. Pat into pie plate. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Go...Buy peaches...Make this pie!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I AM IN LOVE WITH BUNTINGS! I have been looking at them online for ages, wanting to make some but I hadn't. Then my oldest daughter's birthday came and I brought out the scrapbook paper, hole punch, yarn and went to work. It was so easy! Why did I think it wouldn't be? It added just right amount of pop and festiveness that I wanted for our simple little party.
Paper Bunting
So then I looked at the big window in my living room that has no cute curtains and thought, "Hmmm...Why couldn't I make a more elegant paper banner and hang that over the window?" I did and I love it! We live in an apartment so I am trying not to put too many holes in the walls so the bunting is perfect. I just have it taped up and it looks so simple but elegant.
Paper Bunting
This space needs something more but it really helped it not look so plain and expansive. This is so cheap too! I found the beautiful papers at JoAnne's. I had the ribbon already so it was only a few dollars to decorate!
Paper Bunting
This all spurred me on to finish a fabric bunting that I had started last January but got overwhelmed and quit. After looking at different ideas online I came up with a way to really simplify the bunting I wanted to make for the girls' room and LOVED it. It again was super easy and cheap.
Fabric Bunting
I used 3 different fabrics and cut out a bunch of triangles using a template. I also cut triangles out of batting. I then sandwiched a triangle of batting between two pieces of fabric and sewed around the triangle edge. Then I sewed a few more inside. I did not worry about being exact. I was totally going for a shabby, scrappy look.
Fabric Bunting
Next I cut around the outside seam leaving about a 1/4 inch edge. Then snip all the way around the triangle just to the seam. Throw the triangles in the washer and then the dryer. When they come out, the edges will be frayed to give them a scrappy look. I then sewed all the triangles together with a long piece of ribbon.

I love how it turned out and want to make more! I have yet to decide where I will actually hang this in the girls' room. That is why it is draped over their mirror, but I kind of like it there for now.

I love buntings!!!!! I love crafts that do not have to be exact! That is so freeing!

New Recipes for the File

I made a couple of new recipes this week for the family and wanted to share them with you. I know we all need some encouragement in the area of cooking once in awhile. I was in a cooking rut again. I hate getting stuck there but this week I jumped out and my Hubby is so happy.

One of the things that I made was a Tomato Mozzerella Tart with Basil Garlic Crust. This was super, super good. It was very rich so I probably wouldn't make it alot, only when I need to a recipe for tomatoes and basil.

Today for lunch I made a WINNER that will be made more frequently. It was a Chicken Alfredo Pizza. It was superb! Hubby was grinning from ear to ear after biting into this delightful taste adventure. The next time I make it, I will:
1.) Make a roux at the beginning of the sauce. I will add flour to the butter so the sauce thickens up. She does not call for flour so the sauce was very runny. I added 1 T. of flour to the sauce and that worked. It thickened right up.
2.) Be sure to add spincach again. I added a layer of spinach after spreading the sauce and it made it even extra yummy. It also helped me think it was a little healthy!

Also I sliced some chicken breasts and sauteed them in olive oil with salt and pepper. They were delicious on the pizza and cheaper than buying the pre-made chicken slices.

I had a girl's day out on Tuesday with some really great friends and needed a crock pot meal for Hubby and the girl. I used another one from The Farmer's Wife. It was Crockpot Baked Ziti. It was really good. I do recommend making sure you have enough sauce. I used 26 oz. instead of the 32 oz. the recipe calls for and it needed more sauce. Don't skimp on the sauce. This was good and a great go-to recipe when I need something in the crockpot quick. I really like her blog. I found some great recipes that I want to try.

Then yesterday I was craving chocolate and remembered we had a container of chocolate frosting, so my daughter and I made a Wacky Cake. YUM! I love this cake because it isn't overly sweet and you don't need eggs or milk for it. It always turns out great.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


The only wreath I have to hang on my door is a Christmas wreath. For obvious reasons I don't leave it hanging year round. I have been looking online for a low costing wreath to make that I like. I had found some ideas but then I found THE ONE on The Pretty Poppy. It was so super cute and the items needed were so cheap.

All you need is felt, a grapevine wreath, some ribbon, an old cd, scissors, and a hot glue gun.

You will need to cut out a BUNCH of felt circles using the cd as a template. I just held the cd on the felt and cut around it. Then start from the outside edge and cut a spiral all the way to the center.

Next start wrapping the spiral from the center out to shape a rose. The bottom of the rose will be flat. Hot glue the end of the spiral to the flower so it will stay together and hold its shape.
Felt Rose Wreath
Once you have a large pile of roses, start hot gluing them to the wreath. Be sure to attach a loop of ribbon that you can use to hang the wreath if you want to.

This was so easy, so cheap and I LOVE the results. I want to make some more roses but make them into hair clips or head bands. The uses for these are limitless.

I love my new wreath!
Felt Rose Wreath

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Birthday Crafting

I am still here. Summer has been an especially hectic time for us. It started off with being in a horrible car accident over Memorial Day weekend. God totally watched over my family and only by His grace did we all get out with no major injuries. My hubby and I could hardly move for a few days but we healed up pretty quickly considering what could have been.

We bought a new-to-us vehicle, went on a few trips to see family, sold our house that had been on the market for 10 months, and in between all of that the girls have been sick off and on. We have battled Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease and I believe my youngest had Roseola.

Just last week my oldest turned 4! I can't believe it. I was determined to do some sewing for her for her birthday and I did. It felt so good to get a bit crafty again. It had been so long. I think my girls can play in the basement play/sewing room without killing each other for a longer period of time now. That helped alot!

So what did I make? Well, let me show you....

The first thing I did was find a small white T-Shirt at the Dollar Store and appliqued a number 4 out of vintage kitty fabric on the front. I added some pink ric-rac trim to the collar. Here's a piece of advice....When adding ric-rac trim to the collar of a t-shirt, do NOT sew it around the entire collar. The excited birthday child will not be able to squeeze her 4 year old head through the hole opening. You will then have to rip out half of the trim while your family is waiting to go out for lunch at Olive Garden and you will be so embarrassed for not thinking of this beforehand. So there! Free advice!
4 Years Old
I also wanted to make a cute headband for her to wear with her birthday shirt. I found this great tutorial on making Scrap Flowers and went with it. I also sewed together two long skinny rectangles right sides together, turned them right side out, and sewed a finishing seam all around the outside. WAH-LAH...a head band that you can tie around your child's head. I hot glued my scrap flowers to the head band and felt all proud of myself. I think it turned out very cute.
4 Years Old
As you probably know I make and decorate my girls' birthday cakes. I have so enjoyed this tradition. This year since Peanut was old enough to decide what she would like on her cake, I came up with 4 choices for her from ideas I found online. She got to choose from Strawberry Shortcake, Mr. Potato Head, Curious George and Cookie Monster. She picked Mr. Potato Head which actually became Mrs. Potato Head when I was decorating it. This was such an easy cake because I just used a star tip and grass tip to decorate then Potato Head pieces. So easy and so cute.
4 Years Old
For the actual cake I made a homemade Pink Lemonade cake. I discovered this recipe a few weeks ago and knew I wanted to try it out for Peanut's birthday. It was so much yummier than something out of a box. Yum!

When she made her decision I remembered a tutorial I had seen online for felt Potato Heads so of course, I had to make one for her in honor of her cake choice. I also made a drawstring bag for her to keep the pieces in. I used sticky velcro on the pieces but have realized very quickly I am going to need to actually stitch them to the felt pieces.
4 Years Old
I had so much fun making things for Peanut. It spurred me on to get busy on a bunting I had started making during winter but put aside. My triangles are currently in the dryer getting their perfectly frayed edges. I will be sewing them together hopefully tonight. Once the finished product is hung in the girls' room, I will post a picture. I am very excited to see how it turns out.

I also have a wreath and felt sitting on my kitchen table waiting to be turned into a something pretty to hang on my front door!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Spring Rolls

This is something I made up on my own after watching a PBS cooking show and seeing how spring rolls are made. These were so easy and a hit with my hubby. They didn't go over as well with the kids. Mom and Dad will enjoy these without the kiddos!

Chop up half a head of cabbage, 2 big carrots, an onion and a 2-3 cloves of garlic. Sautee the cabbage and carrots in some olive oil. Add onions once cabbage and carrots are softened. Add in garlic when onions are soft. Season with salt and pepper. This should all take only maybe 10 minutes.

You will need a package of egg roll wrappers. I found these in the healthy food refrigerated section at my grocery store. Put a clump of the cabbage mixture in center of egg roll wrapper and wrap up. Fill as many as you would like. Heat an inch of olive oil in a deep skillet. Place spring rolls in hot oil. Let fry for just a minute or less and turn.

These were so yummy!

Yummy, Easy Salsa

Do you know how easy it is to make salsa? Do you know how much better it is than the stuff in the jar? Well, I am going to teach you and you'll thank me. I know you will because my husband does every time I make it.

The bliss of the recipe is you can really do whatever you want. This is what I do, but you can change anything and do your own thing.

Chop up 1-2 tomatoes, 1 medium onion (1/2 of a big one), 1 avocado and a handful of cilantro. Mix together in a bowl. Dump in a rinsed can of black beans and a can of corn. Add salt and pepper to taste and a big splash of lemon juice. Grab a bag of chips and there you have it! YUM!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Recipe Critiques

I have been busy trying some new recipes out and wanted to post my critiques here more for myself than anyone else. (Except for my Back Door friend)

I have to say that I am thrilled with the new additions to my recipe box. I don't really add them to my recipe box much anymore. I can find them here on my blog which is really nice since my recipe box is bursting at the hinges.

We have a Hispanic restaurant that we love to frequent downtown. I usually end up getting the same thing but finally ordered something new a few weeks ago and LOVED it. I loved it so much that I came home and searched online for a recipe. The entree is Chilaquiles Verdes and the recipe I found is EASY and really good. It was not as good as the restaurant version but I will make this again for sure. The restaurant version had more of a vinegar/sour taste that I really liked. I am not sure if it was the salsa verde that I got. I will have to try a different brand next time. You can find the recipe that I used HERE. Next time I wouldn't worry about adding the milk to the sour cream, I would just serve it with regular sour cream.

Today I made the graham crackers and they are awesome. It was definitely more work than popping open a box of store bought ones BUT I can give them to my girls and I know exactly what is in them and I can verify that there is NO HFCS! Awesome! I used THIS RECIPE found on the Martha Stewart website. It calls for untoasted wheat germ but I had toasted. It worked fine! Also I don't think that Wal-Mart honey is considered high-quality but it worked too! The girls have been scarfing them down all day along with Hubby. I baked half of the "sheets" and froze the others to bake in a few days.

I have also made the 4 Weelicious recipes that I blogged about in the previous post. Hubby can't stay out of the avocado dip. I was super surprised at how yummy it was. I love avocados so I had a hunch but it was even better than my hunch.

The Lasagna Roll-Ups were superb too. Everyone loved these and it provided us with left-overs which I love. I used 10 lasagna noodles instead of 8 and a 9x13" dish. I also chopped up fresh mushrooms and added them. Yum!

I can NOT say enough good things about the Veggie Pancakes. The only bad thing I can say is that Pumpkin my 1 year old was less than thrilled but I am having a hard time getting her to eat veggies in general but I AM NOT GIVING UP! These were absolutely delicious, absolutely! I will be making these frequently. I did chop up some green onions that I had on hand and added them to the mix for a little extra pizazz.

Ok, the Spinach Gnocchi...well...yeah. Let me just say...READING THE RECIPE THOROUGHLY while using said recipe helps alot. I used a whole egg and totally missed the 2 T. flour, so when I added the cute little spinach balls to the boiling water, they completely fell apart. YIKES! I ruined the whole batch. I will try again though and let you know how it goes.

My next attempt at homemade versions of things I have bought pre-made will be granola bars and tortillas! Oh, and these Spring Rolls look delectable!

You have checked out the Weelicious site, right? Get over there if you haven't. I'm in love!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Have you seen the documentary Food, Inc.? Did it completely freak you out like it did me? Did it make you mad like it did me? Did it make you think about the stuff you buy at the grocery store or at the restaurant like it did me? Did it make you look at your kids and want the best for them like it did me?

One evening I flipped through our 4 local PBS stations, the only stations we get. I am completely fine with that except for this coming Sunday when I NEED ABC to watch the 5 hours dedicated to the LOST series finale. I am a wreck about not having ABC and trying to figure something out....but that is a completely different topic.

I landed on a station that was talking about food and where it comes from. After a few minutes I began to wonder if this was the documentary I had been hearing so much about. I searched the TV schedule online and sure enough, it was. To be perfectly honest, I could only watch an hour of the movie. It was uncomfortable for me as a mother to watch it. It made me sick to my stomach to think about what is put in my kids' bodies everyday.

I would LOVE to switch my family to only organic and whole foods but honestly that is not in our budget. My grocery trip each week almost kills me as it is and these things are more expensive. Like the movie said, they can make the "yucky" stuff cheap.

I recalled seeing a clip of the Oprah show when the man behind the movie was interviewed. They talked about "leaning into this concept" and that is what I am trying to do. I want to provide the best for my family and give healthy options. I have a 3 year old with a serious sweet tooth for candy which I really try to limit. If it were up to me, we would just throw that stuff out but I want to teach her how to make healthy choices and when we do have sweets that we do so in moderation.

I have really been paying attention to High Fructose Corn Syrup and Partially Hydrogenated Oils in our food. They are in almost everything....salad dressing, cereal, graham crackers, bread, juice...on and on. I'm trying to watch and keep things on hand that do not have these horrible things in them. I am also trying to make snacks to keep on hand for the girls and for us. If I make it, I know what goes into it.

I have been making hummus for us (which has been a hard sell for the girls but I won't give up). I currently have a batch of granola in the oven for us to snack on. You can find that recipe HERE on one of my friend's blogs. I am also trying to buy some of our produce from the Farmer's market and can find some things cheaper than at the grocery store and I know it was locally grown and trust that it is free from pesticides. I am also depending on my dad to put out a garden and get some produce from him later this summer. I also watch the sale fliers for things that are better for us that are on sale. We also have a stovetop popcorn popper so we make our popcorn on the stove top and stay far, far away from microwave popcorn.

So we are leaning...we're trying to provide healthier food choices for our girls. I hope one day that my grocery budget can expand a little and I can lean much more.

I've also been diving into the Weelicious site for great, healthy idea for my family. This week I will be making the following from her site.

I have lots more tagged to try also. I'm also going to attempt at some point in the near future making homemade graham crackers from HERE or HERE since my girls love them and the store bought ones have the nasties in them.

So...this is what I'm doing, small changes. Every little bit helps! What are you doing to encourage healthier food choices for your family?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010



It is the spring of 1998. It is the middle of the night along a desolate highway as a young engaged couple speed along. The young woman is asleep in the passenger seat dreaming of picking out fabric for her wedding gown with her soon to be mother-in-law the next day. Her seat is laid back. She awakes as the car comes to a stop. The young man looks at her and says, "I need to use the restroom. Keep the doors locked." As he jumps out of the car, the young woman thinks to herself, "He doesn't worry about car doors being locked. That's strange."

She lifts herself up to look around. As she looks out the side window she looks directly into a car parked one space over. In the car is a man and he is looking directly at her and in that moment instinct tells her, "This is not right. He is up to no good." She lays back down immediately, heart pounding as her mind fills with fear. As she pulls the seat up, the man in a long black trench coat is in front of her car walking to the bathroom. He does not take his eyes off of the young woman as he walks past the car. She is frozen with fear because she knows where he is going and fears she knows what he is up to.

She watches him disappear into the men's restroom and while praying over and over in her head, slides into the driver's seat, fumbles with the outdated car phone with shaking hands. She dials 9-1-1 and tells the operator what is happening. The operator asks where she is and she replies, "I was asleep. I know we already passed through Fort Wayne but not quite to Ohio on US 30. " The operator isn't sure she can help but says she will alert the patrols who are out to stop at rest stops in that vicinity to check on things. The young woman knows that help is not quickly on it's way.

The young woman is frantic as the man in the trench coat does indeed come out. He walks to his car, gets in and watches her. The young woman is hysterical as she watches and waits for the young man but he doesn't come. She doesn't know what to do but realizes the safest place is in the car with the doors locked and the key in the ignition not running to the bathroom to look for the young man. She makes a plan in her head. If the man in the trench coat heads for her, she will take matters into her own hands and use her car as a weapon of defense if she must.

After what seems to be an eternity the young man appears and rapidly approaches the car, jumps in and she throws the car into reverse, backs up and speeds off, with tears streaming down her face and hands shaking uncontrollably. It takes almost an hour for her to stop looking in her rear view mirror for headlights following them, but there are none.

The young man tells her he went into the stall in the bathroom, heard the man in the trench coat come in soon after. He went into the stall next to him and things were silent. The young man heard no noises and he was unsure what to do as he felt this stranger was up to no good. He then heard the man in the trench coat leave and all the young man could think of was the young woman alone out in the car. The young man flew out of the bathroom to the car, thankful that they were both safe within the car and it's locked doors.

He apologized to the young woman as he felt that something wasn't right that night on the desolate highway. He vowed to never stop at a rest stop in the middle of the night again.

And to this day Hubby has done no such thing and if he even thinks about it, I quickly remind him that the side of the road is a safer option after our experience 12 years ago.

I honestly with all of my heart know the power of prayer protected both of us that night 12 years ago. Hubby and I had no doubt in our minds that this stranger had awful plans for that night. In fact we scoured the newspaper and news the next day to see if anything had happened but thankfully found nothing.
It was a terrifying thing and to this day, I haven't had a moment like it. I am thankful for that! I do know that my instincts were kicking in high gear and screaming that things were not right. Listen to those instincts. They were given to us for a reason. Sometimes we think we may be assuming too much but I believe it is safer too assume to0 much and be safe, rather than to muffle those instincts and pay an awful price.

My heart is racing again even as I think back on that night.....

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The House

I didn't get to sew...yet. I took the girls to the basement sewing area/toy room yesterday and realized that each project I had picked needed something that I didn't have and would need before I could begin sewing. So today I'm off in search of a magnetic closure after a quiet respite at Starbucks.

I begged Hubby to watch the girls after church today so that I could have some time alone. I love those girls so much it makes me ache inside, but I needed some alone time. As said before my personality type needs alone time to be re-energized. I was lacking quite a bit in that area. Do you think they would mind if I curled up in one of the leather chairs and took a nap? That would just be perfecta. Lunch at therls to the basement sewing area/toy room and realized that each project I had picked needed something that I didn't have and would need before I could begin sewing. So today I'm off in search of a magnetic closure after a quiet respite at Starbucks.

I know this is the internet and I know anyone can read this and I know most of my loyal one loyal reader knows who I am, but at this point I don't care. I need you all to join me in prayer if you know me or not. I don't think I had mentioned it here but 2 weeks ago we got word that our house had sold. Hubby was ecstatic. I was so glad but a bit more reserved in my celebratory spirit as somewhere inside me I knew we still had to pass inspections and make it to the closing with nothing amiss.

Yesterday as I dropped Hubby off at work he told me that our house didn't fail the inspection but it didn't pass it either. The realtor didn't know what the buyer would do, if she would proceed, want to discuss how to approach the issues or just back out. So now we wait. The ball is in her court and we are left holding our rackets waiting.

After I dropped Hubby off at work I drove around our town and cried. Pumpkin was asleep in her car seat and Peanut was content watching the sights out the car window. I begged God to show my why it seems that things just don't fall into place. It seems that the past two years have been one hard thing after another. I am ready for easy. I need easy. I need a season of peace. I crave it so much it makes my heart hurt.

Will you please pray with me about this. I am praying that the buyer will not see the "issues" as huge and will continue with the process. Pray that I will hold tightly to faith! I have more swimming in my head about this and a blog post I read a few weeks ago that I know was written for me but it is loud in here and I just can't think. Maybe I will go take a nap in that comfy leather chair now. Haha!

Thank you for praying.

Friday, May 14, 2010


I checked this book out of the library a few weeks ago after reading about it on a blog. I fell in love. It is a great book bursting with fun ideas. I have been in a crafting lull and just not motivated to do anything with my sewing machine or crafting. Like you hadn't noticed due to the lack of posts on projects I've been up to.

This book filled me with excitement as I looked through the patterns and fun things to make. My in-laws were here visting for a day. She leafed through it and I told her how excited I was about this book and that I was hoping to buy it.

Wouldn't you know it....a week later this book showed up in my mailbox! Have I mentioned that I have a sweet Mama-in-law who loves to do little things like this? She is the best!

So today it is cloudy. Today I have no car to tempt me in running around town. Today I have my sewing area ready to go. Today I have a bunch of one yard pieces of fabric stashed away. So the real question is will I GET to sew today? Will my littles let me have some time? We will see. We will try. Hoping to be back with pictures of something that I created.

If you are a sewer you really should take a peek at this book. It is so fun and you only need ONE YARD OF FABRIC for all of the projects. That is what appealed to me so much. Fabric is so expensive but one yard, I can swing that. So grab a copy and take a peek or mention it to a loved one and maybe it will show up in your mailbox too.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Swagger Wagon

You have seen this, right? I think I am the last one to see it. I've seen it posted everywhere and didn't give it a look. Today was the day. The stars aligned, I had a few minutes and I watched...AND I LAUGHED LIKE CRAZY! This is just too stinky funny and cute. LOVE IT! If you haven't seen it, you must indulge and take a peek especially if you are the proud owner of a mini-van. Someday I will be....I want to be, especially now.
(Remember to pause my playlist at the bottom of the page to hear the video.)

By the way...I do realize that the full video is not being displayed on the right side. I don't want to change my template to make it fit, so if you feel like seeing the whole thing you can go to youtube and see it HERE.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Banana Bites

I stumbled on the coolest website a few weeks ago. A friend of mine became a fan of the site on Facebook so I checked it out. It is a fabulous site filled with recipes for kids of all ages. The creator focuses on healthy foods and all types of them. If you have a school aged child and need some creative, healthy ideas for lunches to pack she has TONS!

The website is Weelicious. I am so excited to dig through her posts and try some of the things for my family especially snacks. Snacks are a hard thing. It's so easy to pop open a bag of goldfish crackers and call it a snack. I desperately want to give my kids a foundation of healthy eating habits and Weelicious offers some excellent ideas for these.

My girls LOVE pancakes so yesterday I tried making Banana Bites. I have to admit that I only made them for Pumpkin, the toddler. The reason being was the toddler having a fit at my feet and Daddy was on the couch suffering from a bad case of Gout so I had to HURRY. I made a banana's worth of Banana Bites and then just plain pancakes.

I will definitely be making these again. They were warm and gooey and YUMMY! Pumpkin scarfed them down and begged for more. Ha! Make sure you slice the bananas thinly or the pancake batter won't cook on the edges.

Be sure to stop by and check out the Weelicious site. I know you will find some great, healthy ideas!

Frosted Rhubarb Cookies

The rhubarb in my fridge has been screaming my name for a few days so today I quieted down and made Frosted Rhubarb Cookies. This is a recipe that I found in a Taste of Home magazine a few years ago and it is scrumptious!

I am happy to say I have enough rhubarb left for one more recipe! YEAH! That is even better to me than eating the cookies. Ha! I have to make something for my Mom's group on Thursday so I will definitely be making some rhubarb muffins to take with me.

Frosted Rhubarb Cookies
1 c. shortening
1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. diced fresh rhubarb
3/4. flaked coconut

Cream shortening and brown sugar. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, baking soda, salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in rhubarb and coconut. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Cool on wire racks.
(I have never used the coconut. I never have any on hand and they are superb without.)

Cream Cheese Frosting
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 T. butter
3 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Gradually add in powdered sugar until smooth. Spread over cooled cookies. Store in fridge.

Yield: 5 dozen

These do freeze well. It is also best to use tender stalks of rhubarb.

Friday, May 7, 2010



Why is there no rhubarb festival that I know of? Why? Rhubarb is wonderful. I do know that it is something you either LOVE or HATE. I LOVE it.

While I was up north I raided my dad's rhubarb patch. I used part of the treasure to make the following recipe and it was simply divine. DIVINE! I even cheated and used a store bought pie crust and it was still awesome!

Homemade Rhubarb Custard Pie
1 1/2 c. rhubarb, diced
2 T. flour
2 eggs
1 1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. cream

In a large bowl stir together all of the ingredients except the rhubarb. Beat well. Add rhubarb and pour into a 9 inch unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until set.

This is my new favorite rhubarb recipe.
I will be back with more rhubarb bliss though.
I have more in my fridge.

Stocking the Fridge

Last week I headed north to have a visit with my in-laws who were in town and my dad. It was a great time and went way too fast. Before leaving I knew I had one big task ahead of me...stocking the fridge, freezer and pantry for Hubby. Eating out every meal is just not a choice in our budget (although I did notice several fast food sacks in the car that were quickly thrown away when I got home).

It became an even bigger task as our youngest got the flu and gave it to me the day I was supposed to be preparing all of this food. I worked like a mad woman the morning before I left. I was utterly exhausted but it felt so good to know Hubby had good, home-cooked meals for the week I was gone.

I made 4 meals that I was able to split up and freeze for him. I wanted to share the recipes with you as they turned out really good.

Bean and Cheese Burritos
Hubby loves those CHEAP-O frozen bean burritos. I on the other-hand do not and wanted to give him a healthier version so I made my own. I used this recipe for Bean and Cheese Burritos. I didn't bake them in a 9x13 pan with salsa over the top, though. I just wrapped them up and baked them individually on a cookie sheet. After they had cooled, I wrapped them in plastic wrap and froze them so Hubby could throw them in the microwave at work or home.

Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes
I found this recipe on a friend's blog and knew I wanted to try it as we really do like lentils. The recipe for can be found here and is actually from The Barefoot Contessa. I love her show but haven't been able to see it in months as my in-laws were my source for The Food Network. Ha! I am anxious to try this out tonight for supper. There is one container left in the freezer and I have claimed it.

I had made a batch of these hand-held pizza pockets before for Hubby from a different recipe but wasn't crazy about them so I improvised and did my own thing. They turned out much better. I used a recipe for pizza dough that I have and divided it into a bunch of little balls of dough. I then rolled each out into a small circle, spread half of the circle with pizza sauce and topped with olives, pepperoni, mushrooms and cheese. I baked them, let them cool, and wrapped them up in plastic wrap to freeze for Hubby. Yum!

White Chicken Chili
Hubby ADORES soup so I had to make one good soup for him while I was away. He did comment that it was a bit spicy so I would cut back on the cayenne pepper next time for us. After making the soup and letting it cool, I just ladled it into small plastic containers (that do not contain BPA) and froze them. I did the same with the lentil recipe.

White Chicken Chili
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, mince
1 T. olive oil
4 cooked, boneless skinless chicken breast halves, chopped
2 cans (14 oz. each) chicken broth
1 can chopped green chilies
2 t. ground cumin
2 t. dried oregano
1 1/2 t. cayenne pepper
(I will cut back to 1 t. next time.)
3 cans (14.5 oz. each) great northern beans, drained, divided

In large saucepan over medium heat, cook the onions and garlic in oil for 10 min. or until onions are tender. Add chicken, chicken broth, green chilies, cumin, oregano, and cayenne pepper; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low. With a potato masher, mash one can of beans until smooth. Add to saucepan. Add remaining beans also. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Yield: 10 servings

So hubby was well stocked with food and the girls and I had a great visit with family. Now I am back to the reality of cooking, cleaning, and all other Mama duties. That's ok though. It's my favorite job in the world.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Better Than a Hallelujah

I have been an Amy Grant fan since the beginning of my junior high years. I sang all of her songs into my hairbrush. I went to her concerts. I sported her concert t-shirts with pride. I haven't followed her much in the recent years but I caught her newest song on the radio and loved it. It is so simple, so real just like many of her lyrics. She can hammer the nail on it's head pretty well. I read her new book Mosaic also this past winter and it was really well done. I was inspired by her honesty.
The lyrics to this new song are so simple but so insightful. This is just how God wants us to come to Him in a simple way. He doesn't want us to be fake. He longs for us to be real, authentic right where we are, whatever moment we are in.

The first two lines are what really caught my attention and spoke right to me.

"God loves a lullaby in a mother's tears in the dead of night.
Better than a hallelujah sometimes."

I had some very rough days with my littlest girl. She has such extreme moods either the happiest, funniest little thing or really unhappy.

Tonight my oldest daughter chose a Mother Goose book before bed and we read the following nursery rhyme.
"Once there was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
When she was good,
She was very good,
But when she was bad,
She was horrid."
When Life Gives You Lemons
This had to be written for my curly headed sweetie! I'm telling you, it had to be.

She was in a very grumpy mood this past week and this mommy was at the end of her rope. It didn't help that we were away from home without Hubby and out of our routine. We were staying with my dad and bless his heart, he kept both girls one day so I could sneak off and get refreshed over a lunch with my best friend.

All that being said, the way that I choose to react to Miss Grumpy Pants is a way of worshiping Him. When I react out of love and patience, He honors that. And He did. We got through the rough days. We are back home and had a DELIGHTFUL day together today. Can I tell you that when she is in a good's just THEE best thing ever. Her joy is contagious. It is better than a hallelujah!

(Remember to pause my playlist at the bottom of this page to hear the video.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Silly Spaghetti Dogs

Confession time. Yes, I serve hot dogs to my oldest. She doesn't have them all of the time but they are on the lunch rotation.
Silly Spaghetti Dogs
I had seen some silly hot dog business on a few websites and decided yesterday that we needed to instill some of that same silliness into our lunch. I taught Peanut how to make Silly Spaghetti Dogs. She had great fun poking the uncooked spaghetti noodles in the hot dog pieces.

Silly Spaghetti Dogs
They do look a bit strange sitting there waiting for the water to boil.
Silly Spaghetti Dogs
Next I dunked them in the boiling water and waited for the noodles to cook. They were even sillier after being cooked. Peanut thought they were great.
Silly Spaghetti Dogs
They were so easy to make. Peanut got to help make them and then got quite a kick out of her lunch. This is certainly not something we would do everyday but now and then.
Silly Spaghetti Dogs
I do have to share a funny story regarding this creation. I sent my hubby a picture via our cell phones of Peanut eating her Silly Spaghetti Dog while he was at school. I try to do this off and on so he can see his sweeties throughout his chaotic days. Anyways...later we were talking about it and he asked, "How in the world did you get the spaghetti in the hot dog? Did you poke a hole with a toothpick and string it through?" HAHA!

I assured him that we had poked the uncooked noodles through so it was easy and I had not boiled them and threaded them through a needle to poke through the hot dog.