November 30, 2010

Just Ask!

Several of you know me and my family personally.  A lot of you only know me on here...the blog...where I share kitchen tips, recipes, etc..  Well as we are entering the Christmas holiday I thought it would be fun to do something sort of an ice breaker that people do at parties, but I didn't really know what exactly to do.  Brain cramp!  So how about ya'll ask me anything. Well...within reason!  Questions about family, faith, kitcheny things, homemaking, crafting, life in general. Whatever!  You can either comment here at the bottom of this post; anonymously or leave a name.  Or you can click on the envelope button over at the side bar.  Just get them to me by Dec. 3rd (Friday) so I can post my answers on Dec. 4th. (Saturday). K?  Sound like fun?  I think so! 

November 29, 2010

Seven Layer Salad

Image from
I am making this for a Christmas party so I thought I would share it with ya'll!  Don't worry, it doesn't have a single calorie in it.  They're all married...with lots and lots of babies!  *wink*

Seven Layer Salad

Prepare the following ingredients and layer in a large dish.
(I use a large rectangle Tupperware that way all layers are
spread out and everyone can get a taste of all the layers.)

1 head of lettuce washed and torn in small pieces
1 green pepper diced
1 1/2 cup diced onion
10 oz. bag frozen green peas (cooked, drained, and cooled)
 Mix together 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise and 2 T. sugar
1 1/2 cups mild cheddar cheese
1 lb. bacon  cooked and crumbled

(Sometimes I add some chopped raw broccoli and cauliflower in with the peas...making it more than a seven layer salad.  That's o.k., though, I don't think anyone will count. *wink* )

Let it sit overnight.  Drain before serving if necessary.  Toss together lightly.

November 28, 2010

Eye Candy

Since yesterday's post was a candy recipe I thought I'd continue on with the candy idea, but this time in the eye candy department.  I thought I'd repost a pic that is regularly seen through our kitchen window in the winter.  Our Amish neighbors' buggy horses are pastured near our house.  Such big beautiful creatures! Enjoy!

November 27, 2010

Peanut Butter Balls

Some people around here call these "Buckeyes".  Not in this home.  You see, to us a Buckeye is an Ohio State fan and since hubby is a University of Michigan grad the word "buckeye" can not be uttered in this home.  (FYI, OSU and U of M are totally not BFF's. *wink*)  So in this home they are simply Peanut Butter Balls.  K? Glad we're all clear on that.  Moving on...

These are a must in our home around the holidays.  We have a couple of girlies with peanut allergies so I always make sure to make something else that's yummy and melt-in-your-mouth chocolatey for them to eat.  Early in our marriage (after I'd learned to cook) hubby assisted me (ie., coated the pb balls in chocolate) in making a TON of these for Christmas gifts.  It was like an I Love Lucy episode.  I was Lucy and he was Ethel.  There was chocolate everywhere.  We were definitely well preserved in chocolate!  So we packaged them up and rolled our ways to our home town for Christmas where everyone loved their gifts!   I say rolled because our packaging efforts were more like "one for them, two for me" sort of deal.  I think I gained 10 pounds that night!  It was o.k., though, because I was expecting our first baby. *wink*'s the recipe!

Peanut Butter Balls
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 T butter, softened
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 11 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 T shortening

Stir together peanut butter and margarine.  Gradually add sugar, stirring til combined.  Shape into 1-inch balls and place on waxed paper.  Let stand about 20 minutes.  Melt chocolate chips and shortening.  (I place it in the microwave for 30 second increments stirring each time until melted.)  Cool slightly.  Dip balls into melted chocolate; let excess drip off.  Place on the waxed paper and let stand until it's dry and solid.

Makes about 30 or 10 if you make it the way we do... one for you, two for me.  *wink*

November 26, 2010

Snow Ice Cream

This is a tasty treat from the Duggar's book.

1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar, to taste
1 tsp. imitation vanilla (1/2 tsp. if using real vanilla)
1 qrt. heavy whipping cream or half-and-half
6 qrts. clean, fresh snow (don't pack it into the measuring cup: it should be fluffy)

In a large bowl, mix the sugar, vanilla, and whipping cream. Start adding snow 2 cups at a time. Toss with the other ingredients until the mixture is the consistency of ice cream.

I can't wait for a nice fresh snow to make this with the kiddos!

November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Praise the LORD.  Give thanks to the LORD, 
for he is good; his love endures forever."
Psalm 106:1

November 24, 2010

Black Friday Sale!

 "Tell Your Time" will be 50% off!! 

That's only $6 for a book that will 
change the way you organize, prioritize and live!


Sale starts Black Friday (Nov. 26) at 12:01am and 
Sale ends Cyber Monday (Nov. 29) at 11:59pm.
Coupon Code: MONDAYBLACK (this code must be added to your shopping cart at checkout to get the deal)

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

I am actually writing this post on Tuesday morning.  I'm trying to get all of my ducks in a row for this week of blogging so I can relax and not spazz out at midnight that I forgot a blog post for the next day and have to tip toe down stairs to type something up that you wouldn't want to read anyway because it's too incoherent and full of grammatical errors.  (When are my posts perfect, anyway? and that was quite the run-on sentence.)  Anywho... 

So I think for today (tomorrow) I'm just going to post a prayer (hymn) for you my friends.  Don't worry about the turkey being too dry, don't worry if the potatoes are too lumpy, or the pie crust too soggy.  Really.  Your family and friends will tell you the meal is amazing and they'll love you just the same.  Focus on this day, being thankful, being with family and friends, thanking our Creator for His goodness. 

We Gather Together

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
He chastens and hastens his will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,
Sing praises to his name: He forgets not his own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining his kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, wast at our side, All glory be thine!

We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant,
And pray that thou still our defender wilt be.
Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

 --Traditional Thanksgiving Hymn
(A translation by Theodore Baker: 1851-1934)

November 23, 2010

Advent Garland

I'm so excited to share this craft with ya'll!  I made this a week or so ago when we were all a little under the weather.  I had lots of little helpers in the dining room...they were stamping their own goodies while I was making this.  It was (as a good friend says) "Big Fun"!  If you aren't feeling super crafty I have a set for sale over at my etsy site.

I bought two packs of small brown kraft bags at Michael's coupon!).

I cut the top of 25 bags with scalloped decorative scissors.
(I know some families start Advent right after Thanksgiving but we start 
Dec. 1st...that's just the way we've done it. If you want to start the last Sunday of November then adjust accordingly but if you purchase my set it will be with numbers 1 to 25.)

Then I punched 25  1 1/2 " red circles.  And 25 1 3/8" kraft cardstock circles.

Using four different types of background Christmas paper I cut 25 2" squares.

I stamped the numbers 1 through 25 in red ink on the kraft circles.  I mounted those in the center of the red circles. Then I mounted those in the center of the squares.  Make sure you alternate the background colors.

Then I folded the top scallop down about 3/4".  

Next I put seven of the same treats in each bag...but different treats for each day. (For us Dec. 1st might have seven Smarties, Dec. 2nd might have seven Hershey's Kisses, etc..)
(We have seven children...if you have two kiddos then use two treats.) 

Place a Scripture reading  slip in each bag (make sure you put the right number in the proper bag).
You can download mine and print below.
Advent Scripture Reading

Then hang a line of yarn or jute twine on windows.  I used my living room and office room windows. (They are connected rooms so I felt it flowed fine that way.)  That way they are out of reach of little hands but can still be seen!  Use clothes pins to hang the bags.  I used regular clothespins for this picture but I'll use mini clothespins when I can get to the store to get them.  They're much cuter that way. If you buy my set you'll get mini clothespins.

There you go! A fun and inexpensive way to celebrate the Advent!

Make this yourself or purchase it HERE!

November 22, 2010

Old House Pancake Mix

I have this yummy morning staple for sale (made fresh to order) over at Old House Mercantile.  I thought I'd share the recipe.  I keep a large jar on the counter with a label for the mix recipe on the back side and a label for the actual pancakes on the front side.

2 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
4 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

3 cups mix
2 eggs
2 T. butter (melted)
2 cups milk

I mix up 4 batches of mix at a time and put in a jar on the counter.  That way I can just scoop out what I need for each breakfast.  One batch is enough for our kiddos since it makes between 18-24  4" pancakes.  Sometimes we add in blueberries, too!

I try to rotate breakfasts.  Usually Mondays, and Thursdays are pancake mornings. Wednesdays are always cereal days since it's a busy day for us.  Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays are muffins or baked oatmeal.  Sometimes Sundays are coffee cake. 

Here are links to the recipes that I use. 
Coffee Cake recipe HERE
Bananaberry Muffin recipe HERE
Baked Oatmeal recipe HERE

November 21, 2010

Don't Stress!

I've got your back!  Really!  I know I talk a lot about being organized and motivated...yada yada, but goes soooo much smoother if you are!  Read on for some great reminders!

If you are finding that you're spending way too much time on certain things and wish you had more hours to your day to do things that you really need and want to accomplish?  Then you really need to first go HERE to order a very inexpensive, quick read about time management.  You'll be glad you did!

Next you need to download one of the calendars over HERE.  (They're on sale super cheap right now!) You'll find my post on this HERE, but to make it short and sweet...
you'll never forget to scrub the tub or toilets, ditch old coupons or vacuum behind the couch again!

Then since you're time is managed well and you're home is tidy you'll want to get some wonderful dishes cooking.  Go HERE for my tutorial on BigOven to keep all of your recipes on your computer in one spot!
It helps you menu plan, too!

Then you'll want to go HERE to get caught up on all your holiday planning!  

Like I always say, "It's good to have a goal!"  *wink*

November 20, 2010

Cracker Cookies

Photo from
This "recipe" is so easy and ooooh so yummy!

Layer a greased cookie sheet with saltine crackers (about 40-ish).  In a small saucepan over low-medium heat melt 2 sticks of butter and 1  1/2 cups brown sugar.  Once the mixture is gooey (5 minutes or so) pour over crackers.  Bake at 375 degrees for 5 minutes, until bubbly.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle 1 package of chocolate chips (milk choc. or semi sweet...butterscotch is good, too!).  Press evenly so they "stick" in the sweet goo.  Put in the fridge until set.  Cut apart and place in an air tight container.

Makes great gifts tucked inside little decorative containers!

November 19, 2010

Take a Tour with Gooseberry Patch

I thought I'd send you over to Gooseberry Patch today where they once again show me some linky love.
Go HERE to take a tour of some wonderful blogs that have been on Featured Friday.  You'll find some great recipes, crafts, and decorating ideas.

My Favorite Things Series -- Christmas Music

I know...Thanksgiving's not here yet.  Well if you want to be prepared you have to plan ahead.  I'm helping you out that way! 

Several of them are old...but when I find something I like I stick to it!  Here are my favorite cd' no particular order.

(Don't judge! LOL)

November 18, 2010

Queen of the Castle: Week 48

 "Thanksgiving, Part 2" is today's title.  Lynn shares the following story..."One year in an attempt to make Thanksgiving more meaningful, we asked dinner guests to write on a piece of paper what they were most thankful for.  Later, sitting around the table, we read the slips aloud.  "One more year," read the shaky script of my husband's elderly grandmother."  Wow.  What a wonderful reminder to be thankful for all things!  "God has given us so many blessings.  All that we have is from Him.  One more year.  Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Lynn shares a few ideas to promote thankfulness:

*Find Bible verses that focus on praise and promises from Jesus.  Write the verses on small slips of paper, roll them into tiny scrolls, and insert them into homemade rolls before baking.  At Thanksgiving dinner, have each person break into the roll and read his "thankfulness fortune" out loud before the blessing. (From Meg Cox's The Heart of a Family: Searching America for New Traditions That Fulfill Us)

*Listen to a praise CD at breakfast.  A Classic Thanksgiving: Songs of Praise is a peaceful, uplifting CD that includes some wonderful hymns and classical pieces.

*Read aloud a favorite psalm before dinner.

*Go around the table and have each person share something they're thankful for using the letters T-H-A-N-K-S-G-I-V-I-N-G.

- - -

"Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!  Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing.  Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.  For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations."  Psalm 100:1-5

November 17, 2010

Queen of the Castle: Week 47

Like I said Monday, I am squeezing in three weeks of QOTC posts for your Thanksgiving benefit this week.  I'm nice like that.  *wink*

Week 47 is simply titled "Thanksgiving, Part 1".  (Part 2 will post tomorrow.) Lynn begins by sharing advice from Julia Child..."If you are not an old campaigner, do not plan more than one long or complicated recipe for a meal or you will wear yourself out and derive no pleasure from your efforts."  Great advice!  I posted my Thanksgiving menu plan HERE and it is definitely more simple than not.

Lynn shares a great reminder that "Thanksgiving is not a competition.  It's a time to gather with family we love and give thanks to our Father, who is the giver of all good gifts.  A Father who loves me no matter what -- even if I use store-bought pie crust."  (I don't use store-bought (I share my recipe HERE) but that doesn't mean you can't...whatever works for your family!  Remember I told you in the menu plan post that I'll probably make Pillsbury cinnamon rolls for breakfast?  That works for us...)

We're not hosting anyone in particular for Thanksgiving.  It'll be just my husband, my mom, our kiddos and myself.  Of course we always make room for any last minute guests.  We may have the kiddos' piano teacher over since he just lost his sister and I'm not sure he'll be going anywhere.  Be flexible...that's my point.  Either way get the china out a day or two before and make sure it's all clean and your serving bowls and relish trays are ready.  Our kiddos think it's fun that even though it's just the ten of us we still make it a special day.

Lynn shares three quick ideas to fancy up your table:

*Look for chocolate turkey lollipops or something else that's fun to place next to each person's silverware

*Hand your kids a packet of photograph "doubles", have them cut out the heads of the guests who are coming for dinner, then glue the heads onto cardboard to make holiday place cards.  If they're feeling especially silly (and if family members are silly enough to appreciate it), have them attach heads to bodies of people and animals cut from old magazines -- the wilder, the better. (From Sarah Ban Breathnach's Mrs. Sharp's Traditions)

*Try folding napkins.  Martha has three easy napkin folds HERE and a cute but more advanced turkey napkin fold HERE.  (We will be using fun paper ones that day, however.  I know my limits!  *smile*)

- - -

"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, 
giving thanks through Him to God the Father."  Colossians 3:17

November 16, 2010

Chocolatey Oat Bars

My kiddos love these ooey gooey oatmeal bars.  I love the chocolate on top!  *wink*

Chocolatey Oat Bars

1/2 c. butter, softened
1  c. light brown sugar, packed
1 egg, beaten
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. quick-cooking oats, uncooked

12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 c. butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine butter, milk, choc. chips, vanilla and salt in a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stir constantly as not to scorch, until chocolate is melted.

- - - - -

Blend together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl.  Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir flour, salt and baking soda in a separate bowl.  Add to the butter mixture.  Add oats and stir.  Press into a greased 13x9 baking pan.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutesAdd the topping and bake another 10 - 15 minutes.  Let it cool completely and slice into bars.  Makes 2 dozen.

*Note:  You may find the topping to be too much chocolate for one pan of bars (Not me, though...I can never have too much chocolate!).  In this case make a double batch of the bar and split the topping between the two.

November 15, 2010

Queen of the Castle: Week 46

I know it's not Thursday, the usual day to post QOTC, but I have three QOTC Thanksgiving posts that I I will share with ya'll this week.  I thought you could use these before the day sneaks up on us.  *smile*

If you would like to start at the beginning you can read HERE.

Week 46 is titled "Company's Coming! Hospitality".  Lynn, the author, shares an excerpt from a book Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner.  "Well, now.  I probably shouldn't have curdling milk in the fridge if I'm inviting someone over for tea, and it might be nice if I emptied the kitchen trash can and didn't leave dirty clothes all over the bathroom floor.  But to be a hostess, I'm going to have to surrender my notions of "Good Housekeeping" domestic perfection.  I will have to set down my pride and invite people over even if I have not dusted.  This is tough:  My mother set a high standard.  Her house is always immaculate, most especially if she's expecting company.  But if I wait for immaculate, I will never have a guest."

Is it worth fussing and fitting with your kiddos to get the house perfect?  Can we just tidy up a bit and call it a day?  "Hospitality is not about trying to impress or compete to see who's the best housekeeper or the best cook.  It's simply about opening the home God has given us, grand or humble, and welcoming others in."

Lynn reminds us of the story in I Kings 17, "...where a widow in the midst of a drought, down to her last bit of oil and flour, reluctantly opens her home to a hungry house guest.  "I can't feed you," she tells Elijah at first.  "In fact, my son and I are about to eat the last of our own food, and then we're ready to die."  "Don't be afraid," Elijah answers.  "God says your bowl of flour and jar of oil won't ever be empty until we have rain again."  The widow did as Elijah directed, making him a bread cake and then asking one for herself and her son.  And "the bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke through Elijah" (I Kings 17:16)."

Whether we enjoy hot dogs and macaroni and cheese or a roast and all the fixings the attitude makes all the difference.  We need to pray and ask God to show us how to have a servant's heart.

With Thanksgiving near I thought I'd share with you some easy ways to make your guests feel welcome.

*It's a great idea to have a basket of toys that little ones can play with.  Some books and board games for different ages are a great idea, too.

*Make sure you have a place to put coats and such...squeezing them in a coat closet can be cumbersome.  We have a mudroom but not a lot of extra hooks.  Hubby's to do list now has this suggestion.  We often us the master bed as a place to throw coats if there's a large crowd.

The following tips are geared toward those having overnight guests:

*If you have overnight company make sure the room they are staying in has proper window treatments.  Especially if you have a yard light outside the window.  They may prefer total darkness.

*Then again, they may like a little night light. Have one plugged in and on.  If they want it off they can turn it off.

*Make sure they have proper bedding and some extra blankets in case they get chilly.  An extra set of sheets on hand is nice, too, in case little ones have accidents at night.

*Have a snack basket in the room if the kitchen is far away.  Fill it with granola bars, pretzels, crackers, and a few chocolate treats.  If you like you can add a small cooler with bottled water and juice.  That way if they get up early they can snack and not starve until breakfast.

*Make sure their room has a place for clothes storage.  Even if they are living out of their bags they are probably going to need to hang up some shirts.  An over the door hook might be a nice addition.

*Have towels and washcloths handy so they don't need to search for them.

*Also make sure the bathroom is fully stocked with toilet paper, soap, shampoo, and other toiletries you think they might need.  They would feel embarrassed if they had to wake you in the middle of the night because they had no toilet paper. And I'm sure you wouldn't want to be wakened for a TP call at 3 a.m.. *wink*

For more on hospitality Rhonda has great advice over at Raising Homemakers  HERE and HERE.

- - -

"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have 
entertained angels without knowing it."  Hebrews 13:2

November 14, 2010

Dried What???

The other night I was watching Martha's Classic Thanksgiving and Hubby took a computer break, came in the room to sit and take a peek at what I was watching.  We were watching a segment where she was making a fruit and nut dressing.  She was adding the herbs when we thought she said "Next we'll add the dried gerbil."  We looked at each other.  "What did she just say?!!".  We did a quick replay to find that she said "chervil".  We laughed and laughed. 

Later when we were chatting in bed, hubby and I were talking about something totally non-related when he said "You know what?  You need to add some ...  ha ha ha ha.."  He just starts laughing.  Mind you, our littlest is still in a crib in our room until we can get a bunk bed in the girls' room.   

Anywho...  So he's laughing and I start laughing, not even knowing what he's laughing about.  You know how that goes, right?  So then he finally, after many tries, gets the entire sentence out.  "You need to add some dried gerbil to your turkey this year.  Ha ha ha ha..."  I had to bury my face in my pillow I was laughing so hard.  Then he said "But if you are out, a hamster would do... ha ha ha ha"  More laughter from me then I chime in with  "Or a ferret!"  Again more laughter.  Then he said "But you'd have too much.  Ha ha ha..."  Then I quipped "Oh just triple the recipe... ha ha ha ha..."  We were laughing so much that we were crying.  I started coughing and hubby had to use his inhaler because he started wheezing. 

I just thought ya'll would enjoy this little story.  Either that or you think we are totally weird so you will never read this blog again.  *wink*

November 13, 2010

Pilgrim Hats!

I joke a lot about not being anything  like Martha, but I really like her.  I know some people don't care for her but she (and her gazillion member staff) have a lot of great ideas!  I got this in my inbox just now and thought ya'll might like it! 

Go HERE for the how-to.


November 12, 2010

Please Vote!!

I've been nominated for  
"Best Homemaking Blog" 
The Homeschool Post.  

Please go vote for Old House Kitchen HERE

Join Me at The Homeschool Post!

Thanks a bunch! 

Out and About!

I'm in two places at once today!  LOL!

Drum roll please...

I'm today's Featured Friday Blogger over at Gooseberry Patch!!  

I was so excited when they e-mailed me yesterday to ask if I would consider.  
It didn't take me long to reply!  Eeeeehhhh!!  **doing a happy dance**

My Favorite Things Series -- Christmas Books

If you all have been reading this blog for a little while you have to know that I LOVE Christmas!  I also love reading books...Christmas my children.  Thanks to Kendra at Preschoolers and Peace for her post on Christmas books.  I found many there that we love and adore! Here are some of our favorites.  (Again...if you are going to order anything from Amazon this year please order through me by simply clicking on any Amazon link.  Thanks.)

I read this book to the kiddos over the course of a few days.  At the end I blubbered my way through reading it.  Beautiful story.

 I love the illustrations in this book!

I love this song.  It holds a special place in my does this book.

 Who knows if this "legend" is true or not but I'd like to think it is.  ; )

I love the illustrations in this story by Max Lucado.

Great story!!

  Great read for when you decorate the tree!

I know this book has a few choice words, but if done as a read aloud you can edit those out.  My kids loved it and like the first book...I cried while reading the ending.

We love Little House...especially Little House Christmas!

A great holiday keepsake filled with great recipes and craft ideas.

I love this Gooseberry Patch cookbook!  It's full of recipes that are fun and festive and I love the homemade gift suggestions section.

November 11, 2010

Open For Business!

Well it's been a labor of love...mostly technological labor.  But it's up and running!   I have new things to add soon but enjoy what's there for now!  There are no taxes or shipping fees.  The price you see is the price you pay. 

Go visit my new website!


Lovelies for you tummy, your kitchen, and your home!

Queen of the Castle: Week 45

For those of you playing along...(if you've just joined us you can get caught up a bit here) we are on week 45 of the book Queen of the Castle: 52 weeks of encouragement for the uninspired, domestically challenged or just plain tired homemaker.

This week's chapter is "Keeping Christ in Christmas".  Decorating, gifts, visiting with family and friends is how most of us spend our Christmas celebration time.   It's fun but we don't want to squeeze Christ right out of Christmas. Author Lynn writes "I will have enough time to meditate on Jesus and His coming if I begin early, before the season creeps up on me like a stealthy teenager ready to pounce from a darkened laundry room with a heart-stopping "BOO!".  These weeks really are a time of preparing our hearts..."

Lynn shared that she went through a Bible study on Luke during Christmas.  Might I suggest Beth Moore's Jesus, the One and Only to prepare your hearts for this time of year and to focus on why He came.  Lynn suggests reading a chapter of Luke each day of December, ending with the last chapter, chapter 24, on Christmas Eve.

Here are a few more suggestions:

*Purchase an Advent calendar.  Look for one that has the Nativity scene with Scripture readings behind each window.

*Read about Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42), a perfect story for this time of year when our preoccupation with to-do lists can crowd out time with God.  Like Mary, we need to listen at his feet...even if it means not getting all the cards out in the mail.

*Consider how your Christmas tree decorations can point to Christ.  Select symbols that tell the Christmas story or are a reminder of Christ's life: angels, bells, candy canes, lambs, hearts, doves, candles, stars.  Top it off with a crown of thorns to really emphasize the meaning of Christmas.

*Play Christmas carols that tell the story of Christ.  Focus on the words.  (Last year we listened a lot to one of the radio stations that played all sorts of Christmas...some good, some I remember from my child hood, and some just plain silly.  I don't think I'll be doing that this year.  For our family it seemed to take away the focus on Christ.)

*Start praying now for your family to focus on the real reason behind this season; not the gifts, the decor, the yummy treats.  Focus on Him.

I'll end this post with a message from Lynn...
If you've never asked God into your life, to forgive you of your sins and make you His child, you can do it right now.  It doesn't take special, fancy words.  All it takes is a humble heart that's willing to admit that you miss the mark, that you are not perfect, that you are a sinner.  You recognize that He is holy, that you cannot live up to His standard of holiness, and that you need Him.  You recognize that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment that should have been yours, for your sin.  And you want His forgiveness.  You want Him to be in charge of your life from now on.  You accept the gift of eternal life He offers you through Jesus Christ.  That's it.  It's as simple as that.  

- - -

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."  Matthew 6:33

November 9, 2010

Thanksgiving -- Menu Plan

picture from

I am not Martha Stewart nor do I pretend to be.  There...I said it.  Brace yourself for this post.

I enjoy making a nice meal for Thanksgiving Day but I'm not going to break my back on a meal that will not last longer than half time.  *wink*  So I make it easy on me and everyone else.  My little helpers and I decide the day before who's going to help me make each item.  I'd rather spend our time in the kitchen  making easy dishes so we can enjoy the day watching the parade, watching the Lions get beat play, playing our annual fumbleball football game (weather permitting),  playing board games, and just being thankful! 

The turkey...I buy a cheap turkey.  Last year W*lmart had some for under 40 cents a pound.  For real!  Hubby snagged a couple for me.  You know what?  They were delicious!  I'm hoping to snag a couple again this year.  Some years I'll roast it Thanksgiving morning some days I'll roast it the day before and then on Thanksgiving I'll place slices of meat in a crock pot with gravy over it.  It's so moist and tender.  I think I'll do that again this year.  (I'll have to put some slices in a small crock pot with broth since my mom is on a gluten free diet.) 

In the morning we have cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  Sometimes I buy Pillsbury.  I like to make it easy.  I'm telling's the best way!  I have an itch to make homemade this year.  We'll see.

After breakfast I get out the mixed nuts in the shell.  I put them in the nut dish that my mom has put nuts in since I can remember.  I'll put in a few nut crackers and the crowd will go wild.  They love to shell nuts.  I love it when they clean up after themselves.  *wink*

After the nut dish has been ransacked I'll pull out some cheese and crackers, also some olives and pickles.  We really like SECHLER'S PICKLES.  They are sooo yummy.  We especially like their apple cinnamon and the orange.  They are delicious!! 

So...on to the menu...

Roasted Turkey in gravy.  Nope, not home made gravy.  I love McCormick's gravy mixes or Campbell's canned gravy.  I don't do gravy well and I hate when it gels unappetizing the next day.

We'll also have Smashed Potatoes, Baked Carrots, Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese, stuffing (I use Pepperidge Farm and follow the directions on the bag and put it in a crock pot).  I'll steam some green beans from our garden.  I may do green beans and bacon this year.  My mom also loves baked yams.  I'll post the recipe soon.  Thanksgiving isn't complete without Cherry Cinnamon Applesauce or cranberry sauce. 

We also have dinner rolls.  Nope, not home made, either.  Hubby really likes the brown and serve packaged.  I figure why waste the time making home made when he enjoys the easy stuff? 

Now...on to dessert.  Pies...lots of them.  This is where we go all out!  I have a few kiddos that love to help me make the pies the day before.  My pie crust recipe is HERE.  We'll make all homemade from scratch; cherry, blueberry, apple, and peach pies.  My pie filling recipe is HERE.  The Creamy Peach Pie recipe is HERE.  I also make Pumpkin Pie Squares HERE.  I'll also make a pan of brownies for the little ones who have an aversion to pie.  Why they do, I have no idea.  Pie is wonderful!  All those pies will last us for all that weekend and we'll be rolling into Monday in our elasticized waist pants. *wink*

There you have it.  That's our menu for this season in our lives.  We'll enjoy food the kiddos will eat and easy dishes to make so that we can enjoy each other's company.  I figure I'll have all the time in the world to spend time making dishes that Martha would approve of when they are grown up.  Then again...I'll have all sorts of grandbabies (Lord willing) that will want to help me make the meal so we may get even simpler by then! 

November 8, 2010

Thanksgiving -- Blessings

photo from
To start off this week of Thanksgiving ideas I'd like to focus on the real reason we celebrate Thanksgiving.  Sure we all love turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy.  Don't forget all the pie and whipped cream you can eat!  Plus a good side dose of parades and football.  But that's not what it's all about.  Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for everything the Lord has given us.  We need to be thankful all year long, but on this day we should really focus on what we have been given.  Whether it's faith, family, or friends we need to be thankful and make it known that we are thankful for them!

Something we like to do is print out little conversations starters on slips of paper and put them in a basket.  Go around the table having each person take a slip and share their answers.   Here are some ideas....

*Name a person you are thankful for.
*Name a food you are thankful for.
*Name a book you are thankful for.
*Name an item in the house you are thankful for.
*Name an event that you are thankful for.

You can also find some great websites that have extra activities for children.  HERE'S one I found. And ANOTHER one.

- - -
"What a grand world this would be if we could forget our troubles as 
easily as we forget our blessings." -- author unknown

Tomorrow...our Thanksgiving menu

November 6, 2010

Football Sandwiches

If your family is like ours we like something fun and different to eat on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon watching the "big game".  These are a perfect fit!  Pair with some chips or Zippy Steak Fries and a pickle and you've got a yummy meal!

Football Sandwiches
Easy Bread Dough
1 lb. bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. mustard
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 lb. deli sliced turkey
1 lb. deli sliced ham
1 lb. sliced provolone cheese
4 tomatoes, sliced
4 c. lettuce, chopped

Make dough according to directions.  Make a few loaves in the shape of footballs.  Bake at 450 (bake w/ steam) for approximately 15 minutes...until golden brown on top.  Cool completely.  Combine bacon, mayonnaise, mustard, onion powder, and pepper.  Slice bread in half horizontally.  Spread half the bacon mixture over the bottom halves of the bread.  Top with turkey, ham and provolone.  Place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees until cheese melts.  Top with tomatoes and lettuce.  Spread the rest of the bacon mixture on the top half of the bread; place over the lettuce.  Slice into wedges.  Serves 10-15.

November 5, 2010

Kitchen Tip -- Turkey Broth Tip

Read this today on Gooseberry Patch's Facebook page.  If you aren't a fan of GBP you should be!

- - -

Put a slow cooker to work turning the leftovers of the holiday bird into flavorful broth for soup. Place the bones in a large slow cooker; breaking to fit if necessary. Add onion, celery, carrots and enough water to fill 2/3 full. Cover and cook on low for about 10 hours. Strain broth with a colander and refrigerate or freeze. It'll be the best-tasting broth ever!

My Favorite Things Series -- Good Reads

I have to start with the disclaimer that I am not a literary expert.  I used to read a lot of Christian Fiction when our family was a bit smaller.  But I found that once I get started on a book (fiction) I'd have a hard time putting it down. Now my reading is more focused on non-fiction; like how-to books, cook books, devotionals, etc.  I thought I'd share some of those that I think are gems!

First off...if you want to get your life on the right track you must read Elizabeth George's "A Woman After God's Own Heart".   I haven't been reading it, though...I've been listening to it on my mp3 player.  It's great to "read" while crafting or cleaning.  This book is dripping with wisdom.  From spirituality to relationships to time management, it's there!  It's a must read!  There's even a version for teen girls!

I read this series a while back and thought I'd share with you. This Jeanette Oke's and T. Davis Bunn series is wonderful!  The Song of Acadia series begins with this book.  Here is the synopsis from her website:

At the beginning of The Meeting Place, two young women, their lives shadowed by nations in conflict, begin a friendship that will propel them on a journey from which they can never turn back...  The year was 1753, and the lines of separation were firmly drawn. The French had named the region Acadia, their "beloved home." When the British came soon after, they battled with the French on the new continent as they had in Europe for centuries.  The settlers of Acadia were either French or English, and though their villages might be but a stone's throw apart, most could go an entire lifetime without speaking to someone from the other side.  And then the chance encounter of Catherine Price and Louise Belleveau in a meadow of wild flowers... From this unexpected friendship, Janette Oke and T. Davis Bunn spin a tale of devotion, loss, renewal, and bonds stronger than blood and faith stronger than tragedy.

Think of this book as a gigantic book list all bound together just for you!  It lists suggestions for reading to your own children as well as good suggestions for those who are independent readers.  I try to put a few books from each age group on hold through the library website.  A must have!  The author also has a book for teens and one for women.

When it comes to cook books aside from the Gooseberry Patch books that I've listed in the side bar link (click on those to order) and the Queen of the Castle book I posted about HERE.  I really like Mary at Owl Haven's book Family Feasts for $75 a Week.

Want to get closer to the Savior?  Beth Moore takes you from birth to death of our Lord.  I did this Bible study a few years back.  I learned so much. This book holds a special place in my heart.  Love. It.

Of course no book list is complete with out THE book!  I love this audio book!  It's a great way to listen, learn, and feel like you are right there with Jesus.  Wonderful!

November 4, 2010

Queen of the Castle: Week 44

For those of you playing along...(if you've just joined us you can get caught up a bit here) we are on week 44 of the book Queen of the Castle: 52 weeks of encouragement for the uninspired, domestically challenged or just plain tired homemaker.

This week's chapter is titled "Planning Ahead for a More-Relaxed Christmas".  We've all had crazy harried Christmas seasons I'm sure.  I have had plenty to last me a lifetime.  I started visiting Organized Christmas several years ago.  (I'll explain the program in a minute.)  The last few years, however, I didn't.  Boy was my season busy...crazy busy.  Like wrapping presents until 2 a.m. the day before Christmas Eve kind of crazy busy.   Lynn, the author, suggests getting started ahead of time.  Organized Christmas (a free online planner program) has several "programs" to get you organized....four to be exact.  I chose the one that started in September.  That's what I've done in the past and it's a great way to get started.  Don't fret if you're just thinking about Christmas now...there's something for you, too!

Lynn has several tips for a happy and peaceful holiday season.  I'll share a few here with you along with several of my own.

*Send out packages early and when choosing gifts to send make sure they are light ones and unbreakable. Think CDs, books, calendars (I like to make a picture calendar for our parents and hubby's grandma who lives far away.  I also include some recent pics of the kiddos for her picture frames, too.

*Don't fret over the Christmas cards.  Remember most people throw them away after the season is over so if you make card should not take you an hour to complete.  The point is to wish them a Merry Christmas.  Maybe you'd like to throw in a letter letting folks know what's going on around your house?  Maybe a picture?  Remember KISS...Keep It Simple Sweeties!  Oh, and Christmas stamps went on sale a few weeks ago. 

 *Make homemade gifts in advance.  As yummy as they are DO NOT make chocolates and cookies a few days before Christmas!  Besides being short on time, you have all sorts of little sweets beckoning you.    Instead make jams or jellies in the summer when produce is ripe.  Make bread or cookies and bake them ahead of time and freeze.  Make gift mixes.  Seasoning mixes, coffee mixes, or cookies mixes (you get the idea) can be made a month or so ahead and stored in a dry, cool closet or cupboard.  Your hips will thank you!

*Make a list of gift recipients and a budget to go along with it and stick to it.  Make sure to make extra gifts for unexpected people stopping by to bring you gifts as well.   Oh...and don't forget your mail carrier, news carrier, and sanitation workers.

*Think about the season and traditions.  Do you want to spend a lot of time at home with family?  Do you want to entertain?  Do you want to experience more of the peace of Christmas and how will you do that?  Do you want to have a Ms. Stewart sense of decorating style this season or do you want to lay low and put up a tree and village instead? have to set your priorities before going crazy with the busyness of the season.

*Take a family vote.  What is important to the immediate family to experience?  Do they really like to go look at lights or do they find it boring?  Maybe a few of you could go and the rest stay home and enjoy something else that light-lookers don't enjoy.   What kind of holiday treats are a must?  Our kiddos love baking and decorating Christmas cookies.  I really don't care for making cutout cookie dough and then rolling, cutting and decorating so I buy a tube of the ready made dough to cut the time down.  It's a win win for all!

*Check the holiday wardrobe.  Make sure you and everyone else in the family are going to be fully clothed in holiday goodness for Aunt Sue's party way in advance.  You don't want to show up in a sweater and black pants with white tennis shoes, do you?

*Stay focused on the reason for the season

- - -

"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, 
glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."  John 1:14

Can I get an Amen?!

When You Don't Feel Like Cooking Dinner...

Head on over to THIS BLOG for quite a bit of inspiration!!

I would insert a cute picture here, but I can't get it to load.  : (

November 2, 2010

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Aluminum Foil...who'da thunk?!

I love making CHICKEN BURRITOS but the bottom gets a bit hard and crispy no matter how creamy it is. I tried lowering the temp and cooking a bit longer, I tried cooking it covered.  Nope.  Still crunchy and hard to cut.  *sigh*  My husband asked a former student (who is now studying culinary arts) if he had any ideas.  When he told me to line the pan with aluminum foil I scoffed at the notion that a fresh out of high school kid had the answer.  You know what?  It works!  Problem solved! Give it a whirl!    ; )

Pardon the Dust...

I'm working on tweaking the blog a bit.  That banner up there isn't going to stay there, but I'm not sure where to put it.  Speaking of which...if you are going to be visiting at any time to print coupons would you mind coming to this site first and clicking on the button to get there.  Yep, you guessed it...another affiliate program for our family.  Thanks a bunch!

Also...I posed a question on Facebook wondering what ya'll want to see more of in the month of November.  Go to the Facebook page to cast your vote.

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