Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pinterest, and a Whole Lot of Cross Stitch!

I know I have said this before but, Pinterest is awesome!  You can find anything out about everything DIY (Do it Yourself), some inspirational quotes, food, food and more food, most with recipes but even more with mouth-watering pictures, and for me, lots and lots of cross stitch.  Some of what I find are just pictures, some cute, some not so cute, but my favorite are the ones with color charts.  I have printed off a lot of those.  Putting the copies away for a later date to make for myself, for friends, for gifts and the like. 

There is a recipe for Lavender Laundry Detergent that I have been making for almost a year for our family.  It is so amazing to spend $20-$25 on a large batch of powdered detergent that lasts our family of four for almost five months, instead of the same amount for "good" quality name brand laundry detergent that lasts just about one month. 

So many of the recipes that I have for food is for casseroles and breads, of all different kinds.  One of my favorite ones that I have yet to try is for Pretzel Rolls.  They seem to be the "in" thing now.  Every place from fast food to fancier locales are serving these in differing capacities.

I have learned from different links how to clean our shower doors, whiten a bed cover, re purpose  even the most mundane household items and give them new life. 

Check it out, but be warned, Pinterest is so addictive!

Friday, October 11, 2013

An Ol' Standby...Tuna Casserole

I told a friend today that I was planning on making tuna casserole for dinner tonight, and she gave me a suggestion as an addition for creaminess and I thought I would try it. 

I started with a 24 oz. package of egg noodles and got them boiling according to the package directions.

In a medium sized bowl, I combined the following:

2 sm. cans of cream of chicken soup mix (cream of mushroom will work also)
1 can worth of milk
2 small cans of canned tuna fish
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
A dash of pepper to taste
The new addition...1/2 cup mayonnaise ( I used name brand salad dressing, but next time I will try a favorite name brand mayo)

Once the noodles were half cooked and then drained, I added the tuna mixture to the drained noodles, and combined them.  Then I transferred the mixture to a casserole dish and added additional shredded cheese a top it all.  Then it baked in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.  My friend suggested adding french fried onions at this point and baking for another 15-20, which I did not have so I just checked on it, and let it bake for another 10 minutes. 

She was right, the casserole did not come out of the oven dry at all.  It was plenty creamy, and that is a good thing, especially if you are planning on leftovers.  The next time I make this though, I will use actual mayo.  I am sure if you prefer salad dressing instead that is fine, there is that "tangy zip" to it. 

The recipe above would comfortably feed a family of five or six with an extra helping or two I am sure.

Holiday Desserts...shortcuts!

I have decided on a Dessert theme for this coming Thanksgiving Dinner, with a few exceptions.  There will be the traditional pumpkin pie, and a concoction favored by my husband's family with graham cracker crust, and some jello-ish topping that reminds me of tapioca.  But the features of the dessert will be bite-sized, and finger food inspired.  Petite fours with different flavors, chocolate covered nuts, English toffee, and pumpkin, chocolate, and red velvet whoopie pies.

Yes, I will make from scratch some of the items, but my intention is to purchase most of it.  The petite fours are always well packaged when someone else does them, and the chocolate covered nuts, and toffee are less time consuming when purchased, but I will take care of the whoopie pies, and the pumpkin pies.

I know that I could do like others do and spend the week prior to Thanksgiving doing all of the baking of desserts, but why?  When there are perfectly good bakeries that are more than happy to take care of that for me.  So, that is my shortcut...shh, don't tell, ha, ha!

My home will smell plenty delicious on Thanksgiving with the Baked Ham, Roasted Turkey, and the other aromas that will join in.

Do you have any shortcuts for any meals that you use?  Holiday or no those shortcuts are pretty smart aren't they?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Upcoming Family Get Together...

How many of you plan to have family and mostly extended family at your home this year for a holiday meal?  I do.  Not that I was looking forward to it or really wanted to do it, but I offered.  Inspite of my dear, sweet, amazing husband saying that I was going to regret doing it, and that this would not be a good idea.  But, for the last several years, with only a few exceptions we have had my husband's family holiday meals at one of two places.  Both of which are not an option this year.  One in particular is the reason for my offering our home.  The indoor animals.  I have a brother-in-law who will be visiting, and he is severely allergic to cats.  So, if the meal was to be at this location, he would be unable to spend the day with his wife and daughter, and be forced to go wherever else he could to avoid the pets. 

So, enter my suggestion...I offered our home, our somewhat limited space, but yet without the threat of animal hair and dander, not matter how much you scrub, sweep and vacuum, home.  I offered, expecting to be declined, rather abruptly actually, but that did not happen.  Instead, I was told, rather rudely, "So, I hear we are having Thanksgiving here..." 

But, inspite of ill feelings and distain from family members, I refuse to stoop to that level, and I will put a smile on my face, prepare an amazing meal, that I will end up doing almost entirely on my own, I have a feeling, even though I will ask politely for some assistance with a few things.  I will plan as if I am doing it alone, and clean my home, without assistance from a cleaning lady, and I will locate many more tables and chairs, and set them up, where I see fit, and I even plan on making small gifts for each person, as a welcome to my home, Happy Thanksgiving gift.  I am even planning a slightly larger, more meaningful gift for my Mother-in-Law. 

And, I will do my best to smile and endure through the ordeal.  I will not let them see that their comments are hurtful, and that their looks are mean, and that I am hurt by their actions in any way.

My Sister-in-Law and her husband deserve to be together and be able to visit with family without having to suffer, so I will focus on their happiness.

I have even started planning a menu of sorts, and have already purchased a Ham, and my one Sister-in-Law has offered to make Cornbread Stuffing, her husband's favorite, and bring some specialty mashed potatoes.  That pretty much leaves the preparation of the ham and turkey to me, along with a couple of sides and desserts.  Piece of cake, right?  We shall see.

My question is...what is you "family favorite" recipe that is a "must-have" during a holiday?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

P, B & J and the First Day of First Grade!

Okay, okay...I made my new first grader P, B & J for her first day of school, but in my defense, she likes it.  We don't usually have this kind of sandwich, so it actually was kind of a treat for her.  Plus, her lunch was actually healthier than usual, the sandwich, grapes and some canned pears, with a juice box.

I wasn't sure how much hot lunch was going to cost us, so I packed her a lunch.  But, starting tomorrow, she will be having hot lunch daily from school with the occasional cold lunch.  I know that back when my parents and grandparents were in school, everyone brought their own lunches from home, but I am glad that a hot school lunch is offered.

Another change from last school year, my first grader will also be riding the school bus.  Last year, I drove her to and from school daily...yes, daily.  But, this afternoon, and each morning and afternoon from here on out, unless otherwise unavoidable, she will be riding the bus.  I am so excited.  She knows a lot of the kids on her bus, so that should not be a problem, and the best part...I won't be losing an hour a day plus driving to the school, waiting and then driving home... yippee!

A question for each of you then is, what was your child's first day of school like for you?  Did you get a lot done, housework, grocery shopping, etc. Or did you rest, relax, recuperate from summer vacation, or just take a nap?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Most recent project...(s)...

Good Afternoon All!

I have been really, really busy.  I am embarking on a wondrous and mystifying adventure...one into the world of homemade and hand crafted items.  I cross stitch and have done so for over 30 years now.  Some members of my family and I, three total, have decided to put our talents to good use and share them with others.  More on that at a later date!

The following pictures are a few of the assortment of items that I have personally been working on.

Koi Fish cross stitched on what will be a cloth diaper.

An assorted theme of ornaments.

An assortment of stocking ornaments.

I truly love to cross stitch.  It is a passion of mine you could say.  I love the hunt for the perfect pattern/chart.  I love especially finding patterns for a bargain, ones that are found in a used book store, or even better, ones given to me by friends and family!  I enjoy the process of making the items,  when I complete a project, there is immense satisfaction, and not so much some when I discover a mistake that requires a lot of back tracking.  I enjoy wrapping the finished project up, and watching my intended recipient open the gift, and seeing the amazement on their face, and the happiness they display when they realize that their gift was made with love and that they are cherished by me. 

Whatever your passion is, embrace it, enjoy every minute, and better yet...share it with others!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Exciting Opportunity!

I have been given a great opportunity!  I know a few author's who write LDS Fiction, and I enjoy their books and consider them among my favorite author's and stories, but this opportunity is pretty cool also.

I am also a big fan of the more main-stream author Debbie Macomber.  She writes a lot of relationship fiction and that is actually my favorite genre in the Romance Category of Fiction.  Within her books, I do not have to worry about inappropriate scenes, and unnecessary language.  Much like what I find in the LDS Fiction that I read, she writes more wholesome stories.  I cheer for the characters in her books and much like the other author's I enjoy, I get impatient while I wait for her next book to be released.  I often find myself re-reading some of her books while I am waiting for the new one to arrive.  Much as I do with other favorite stories.  I even re-read the entire Cedar Cove Series in preparation for the TV Series to be released on the Hallmark Channel.  Nerd, I know, but I have no problem with that!

Yea! I am a Fan Ambassador for Debbie!  This is so exciting!  I look forward to the opportunities that this will bring, though probably small, I will enjoy every moment! 

Whether you read a book that you purchased from a book store, an online outlet, or borrowed from a friend or family member or checked out from the local library, or if you downloaded an e-book, enjoy! Books are wonderful and take everyone who reads them off to a land of adventure or intrigue for a few hours! Reading is so fun and worth every penny!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Our Garden "Spot"...

I have seen some pretty amazing garden's.  Large and small, in row after row, in containers, and in raised beds, some just so lush and green with perfect fruits and vegetables, and most of all little to no weeds.  These gardens must be attended by some pretty amazing people, who have a lot of time to spend on their hands and knees, picking every single weed or other imperfection out of their garden.

Am I jealous?... YES! I am.  Don't get me wrong, we have a good sized area for a garden, with a lot of room for fruits and vegetables, and my raspberry bushes are nothing to sneeze at this year.  But, those same raspberries are growing at an angle, instead of in a straight line.  I also currently have four raised beds, and after this year, there will be two more, but even though I have a variety of items growing, watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, cucumbers, and tomatoes, I seem to be watering a lot more weeds than plants this year.  It also doesn't help that the fertile soil my husband filled the beds with this year had grass seed growing in it also. 

So, I will continue to drool over posted Pinterest pictures of fabulous gardens, all the while, canning tomatoes, enjoying watermelon, and slicing cucumbers for our salads.  Our garden is not perfect, but it is ours, and year after year, no matter how many weeds grow, we still seem to enjoy enough fresh produce.

Maybe one day, I will have a perfect, "ready for our close up, please" garden area, but not this year, and that is okay!!!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Finding the perfect Homemade Bread Recipe...

I have tried, and tried, semi-succeeded, partially succeeded, failed a little, and even epically failed at my bread making adventures.  What I have found is that one single recipe may or may not be the answer.  One type of flour may not be all that is required, two in equal or off-setting amounts may be better, using a bread maker, a mixer or totally by hand may or may not be what is needed.  The weather outside can and will determine the success of the rising, and more often than not the temperature in your kitchen will most definitely determine the overall height of each single loaf.

I have tried recipes from the back of different flour bags, I have tried different recipes from so many different cookbooks, and recipes from friends, and friends of friends.  I have tried myself to tweak so many of them with a "little more of this and a little less of that" with sometimes bits of success but mostly this is met with failure, as when baking, the rule of thumb is suppose to be that, you need to follow a baking recipe to the tee for a reason!

However, after years of flailing and floundering between this recipe and that one, I have come across the perfect compromise.  The recipe is actually one that I have pieced together from two.  One of them happens to be an "ole fave" of our little family, that has worked for us for a while now, and a newer one that I began trying because of the time that the other one was taking when our bread maker decided to die a not so quiet death.  Actually when we used it for the last time, it was practically screeching and squealing and thumping across the counter.  So, it did us well for a while. 

But, in the many different tries of finding the perfect bread recipe, there are a a few tips I have found that each successful recipe should have. 
  • Newer Yeast, make sure it proofs.  I buy yeast in bulk and keep it in the freezer.
  • New Eggs, we get Farm Fresh Ones, but the Newer the Better.
  • Fresher Flour, believe it or not, flour does go stale.
  • Butter, margarine will work too.
I know that not all recipes call for any or all of these items, but I have found that when each of these items work together in a single recipe, the bread is successful.

Later today, I will be making a fresh batch of bread, and hopefully I will remember to take pictures of the process to share...

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Time Out For Women!

I have heard women I know talk about this experience. I have seen women walking around with bags proclaiming their attendance at an event, but, I have never attended one before.  So, for the opportunity to do so in the form of sharing online, and hearing other women's uplifting stories, amist trials will be a learning experience for me.  To learn more for yourself, please go to:  www.tofw.com

There are some amazing possible presenters, and some interesting posts that are being shared. 

Let the uplifting begin!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Pinterest, Pinterest, Pinterest...

Pinterest is AWESOME! You can find a lot of useful information, fun pictures, inspirational quote, and lots, and lots of recipes to try. 

I am always amazed at some of the "pins" there that I didn't think of myself.  I am always grateful to those who share something that helps me.  Like the homemade Febreze recipe, the Whitening recipe, using baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and Dawn.  The recipes are abundant in the Food categories too.  One in particular is one that Anna will be getting for her birthday, it is a cake that looks like a candy dish.  the circular layer cake is surrounded by Kit Kats, and topped with M&M's...So cute and those are my Anna's two favorite candies! Win, win for her and Me! Mom gets to be the hero at her party! All thanks to Pinterest! 

There are so many decorating ideas using repurposed items, and I am constantly saying to myself, "I want to do that!"  My dilemma is now, if I do everything, where will I put it all?

Do you have favorite Pinterest "pins"?  Do you follow a certain theme of "pins"?  What do you "pin" yourself?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Busy Week Ahead...

Two graduation ceremonies to attend, blood draw, mammogram, and a class party.  My husband's nephew is graduating high school, as their Valedictorian on Tuesday night, then on Thursday, I have to run an errand first thing, go to the imaging center for my appointment there, get back in time to put things away, and recoup as much as I can before the two hour kindergarten class party, come home, fix dinner, and head back to the school for kindergarten graduation.  And, hopefully not forgetting the camera, because so many people want pictures! Busy Week to look forward to...

Friday, May 17, 2013

Doctor's Appointment and the New Reality...

Okay, so...I had an appointment with my newest Doctor today. I have reached the "over the hill" aspect of my life, so now mammograms, and blood tests checking for problems will now be in my future.  As is necessary weigh loss.  The difficulty that I face is exercise related, so a majority of the weight loss will need to come from food consumption, the healthy stuff, and abstinence from the non-healthy stuff. My Doctor suggested a food tracker travelers get me started.  I will also be searching more diligently for more healthy and family-friendly meal options.  The exercising will forever be the hardest part, but I hope to do what I can.  If anyone has suggestions, please comment, I would love to hear!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day...

Whether you are a Mother, or a Motherly type figure to some one you love, today is your special day.  So, enjoy it!  As for us, it was initially proposed by my dear, sweet husband that I could, have a day off, and enjoy some time, and he would take the girls for a picnic, but plans changed...I wanted to go.

So as a family we are all going, I just hope that we remember the camera this time!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A funny moment...

Our three year old daughter has a hate/love relationship with bath time.  She hates to get in the tub, but once there she enjoys it so much it is really hard to get her out.  My question is, how can you get a similar child to willingly take a bath?  In my case, I told her that I was going to vacuum, and shock of all shocks...She says to me..."Can I take a bath Mom" To which of course the answer was, Yes.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Nothing Like Grocery Shopping...

I have a love/hate relationship with the grocery store.  I love that I can refill my pantry shelves and my fridge in order to feed my family, and it is fun to see some new products, and sometimes the displays look a little too appetizing.  But, with the economy being less than stellar in the last several years, our family and a lot like ours have had to cut back and the place, in our family, where we seem to have cut back more is on our grocery bill. 

We have done things like buying a lot more "store" or "off" brand products instead of the name-brand items, though sometimes with coupons the name brand ends up being cheaper.  We use our store loyalty card and it is like we have won something when they state how much we saved.  But, mostly, we go without.  My husband has a lot more bologna meat sandwiches for lunch than he cares to, and instead of buying the name brand cereals with the cool pictures on them, we now buy bagged store brand cereals.  Which I am not saying there is a problem with that, but it is just our reality now. 
I make bread from scratch now, instead of buying it, which with so many recipes on the internet to try, that has not been a problem.  We purchase our eggs from a dear friend from church.  Which is actually a lot better than the store bought, as they are farm fresh, and so much healthier too. 
But, our big money saver is that I do not buy red meat at the grocery store, ever! And the answer is, "Yes!" We do eat red meat, a lot more than before.  We just raise it here at our house through the Spring, Summer and Fall, then come December 1st, or thereabouts, "Dinner", as I like to refer to him, goes away, and returns by Christmas in little white packages. 

Now, I know that not everyone has room or other means to keep a large animal, but if you want to look into something like this, on a smaller scale, you can contact a butcher that you trust, and inquire about buying a whole beef, a half of one or even 1/4th of a beef, and you will still get a variety of meats for a reasonable price.  For us this works well because we know what our animal is being fed, we know what he goes through each day, and we know how he is treated.  We do supplement our diet with other meats, and once or twice a week we do a meatless meal, so we do not eat red meat for every meal.  That isn't all that good for you anyway, but we use what we have, which also lessens the grocery bill each month.

On tap for the next few days. 

Tonights Dinner:  Rib Eye Steaks with Potato Salad and Corn
Tomorrow's Dinner:  Pulled Beef Sandwiches and left over Potato Salad
(I will be starting the beef in the crock pot today, and let it cook for 18-24 hours. )

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I am back, I promise!

Since March, I have had a new "toy".  I bought a Kindle Fire HD.  I am now spoiled, but it is more difficult to share blog stuff one finger at a time... So, I promise to be better.  I have got some great recipes and tips to share really soon!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What to do for Valentine's Day...

There are so many options.  Some people go all out.  Candlelight, romantic dinner, movies, a helicopter ride, theater show, etc.  That requires money and time, and if you have smaller children, a reliable sitter, and the costs that go along with that. 

Can we be creative, without spending as much money or time away from the family?

I know that Valentine's day is basically a day for romance, but isn't it possible to be just as romantic on February 13th or March 1st? 

An idea that I had, if you are unable to get a sitter on one of the busiest nights for a sitter is, take them with you, on a family date.  Go and see a family friendly movie together, a day or two ahead of time.  If a movie is not possible, and weather permitting, try taking the family on a picnic, to a favorite spot.  One place my kids love to see is the waterfall where their Daddy and I had our engagement pictures taken 10 years ago.  Plus, the location is a nice area for picnics. 

If you have a Zoo nearby, go for a visit.  For some reason, I have always found the Zoo a romantic place.  There is something about walking leisurely, holding hands, feeding the animals and just talking that is just so sweet and memorable.  Share that with your family.  Let the kids see you and their other parent, showing affection towards one another, sharing a kiss, and hugging each of them. 

After all, the memories are what make any day so special, so no matter the day or occasion, just make it a special one! And if you are still looking for, or craving the extra one on one attention....there is always nap time!

Monday, January 14, 2013

I wasn't going to address this, but...

I just feel like I need to! *This is my take, and mine alone!*

It has to do with the "Debt Ceiling,"  and all of this talk about those receiving Social Security.

Those on Social Security, cannot help it.  They are our nations elderly, and our disabled.  They are those who have worked hard for as long as they could, and now they are, by no wrong doing on their part  about to lose, in some cases their only source of income.  Because of this, some will lose their homes because they may still have mortgages, their reliable transportation, they may be unable to put food on the table and/or buy their medicines or go to their doctor's appointments.

There is so much wrong with that, I really am unsure how to further address it.  Other than to point out another problematic scenario.

If those on Social Security do not receive their benefits, the will be eligible for welfare.  The can be eligible to get additional help with food, in the form of food stamps, they can be eligible for energy assistance, they become eligible for Medicaid insurance, if they happen to be caring for school-aged children, either a child or grandchild, the child can be eligible for free school lunches, and so many more eligibilties open up. 

However, in order to receive these welfare benefits, they will have to lose the reliable car that they can no longer pay for, they will end up losing their beloved home that they worked their entire life for, and they will have to be in collections from the medical expenses, and have had their heat turned off, and have next to no saving in their bank account, and be able to prove all of that!

Plus, receiving any additional benefits is of course all contingent on the government not cutting the benefits to the poor as well, but sadly, it looks like that is also going to happen about the same time.

I am truly at a loss for how to avoid this!

A Snow Day!

Okay, so I was actually excited about the snow day that Robyn had from school last Friday, and not necessarily for the reason you might think.  I was excited more for the fact that because it was a snow day, I didn't have to drive in the bad weather, walk her into the school, drive home again and then do it all over again that afternoon.  I loved having both of the girls home with me, I really did! Aside from a few skirmishes, things went quite well.  It was also nice that, there was no need to make a mad dash to the store for necessities or anything like that either.  Which sometimes happens regardless.  If she has another snow day this winter, I may not be so lucky, so I am basking in the success of this one!