Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm loving . . . that my mom was able to stay the night on Tuesday night due to the weather :-) (that's for YOU mom!)  Actually, she came over on Tuesday so I could go scrapbooking - none of us realized that there was a winter storm watch out until she got here!  She was stranded here but it worked out since I had to take Nate to the doctor -she was able to stay home with Josh and the munchkin so I didn't have to take them all!

I'm loving . . . that I have internet back.  Enough Said.

I'm loving . . ..  that I did get to go scrapbooking on Tuesday for the whole day.  I got a lot done and enjoyed a day with friends, fellowship and good food!

I'm loving . . .that my kids love the Christmas decorations as much as I do - they keep pointing to things and saying "More Tissmas, More Tissmas"

I'm loving . ..  this song I heard today on the radio.  It's by a group called " Straight No Chasers" and I have no idea what any of their other music is like but their version (from 1998) of The 12 Days of Christmas is now one of my all time favorites so . . enjoy!


Simplify Update - Scrapbooking Goals

This is the perfect time to post an update because I just spent yesterday at a 12 hour crop!  I had a very specific goal - to complete 6 months digitally in 12 hours.  I even set a timer for 2 hour increments so I could stay focused. Well, lets just say I was over zealous HA!  I only got 2 months done, almost.  So it took about 6 hours to do one month!  Crazy!   You can read my other Simplify updates HERE.

Previous Month Updates
September - I finished 2010 on Saturday, the 19th of November.  I went to an unexpected crop which allowed me to finish up the last few days in December and start January 2011.   I still have to finish updating our Family Album

October - I finished March 2010 on November 28th; I still have to finish updating Josh and Nate's books.

Current Month Update

November 2011
1.      Do April-October 2011 Digitally (12 hour crop plus working evenings) At the crop on Tuesday, I made it through Apil and May.  I'm hopeful that over this coming week/weekend I can continue working and finish up through July by the end of the weekend (high hopes, I know)

2.      Order pages every two weeks I'm not ordering pages - we've decided to earmark some money from our tax return to order as many pages as possible, if not all of them.  This means I need to have all of my digital stuff done before tax time :-)
3.      Red Pet Album Project – pull this project and finish it up with the pictures included. I'll pick up this project as soon as I'm current on the digital pages.  I'm hopeful that I can finish up this little album by year end.
4.      Alive album – Decide what to do with this album – either finish it up or discard it (thinking the second) I'm going to "undo" what little I did in this album.  When I started it, it was a good idea but then I realized that every page would look the same - Darryl playing his guitar with the group HA!  Instead, I just scrapbook the concerts I take photos at in our regular album. 

December's Goals and Plans

December 2011
1.      Do November 2011 traditionally Well, I made a change - I decided to finish up 2011 digitally instead of having a month or two of traditional.  I will start with January 2012 traditional with a few digital pages to keep me current as needed.  So my goal becomes - finish 2011 digitally by year end.  I think that as long as I take time in the evenings (instead of just mindlessly surfing the Internet) that I can finish all of 2011 by December 31st, 2011! 
2.      Order pages every two weeks Same as Novembers goal - will wait for tax time.
3.      Update Christmas Album  through 2010 and do pages for 2011 as the month progresses so it is current by month end I believe I have to do 2010 and then 2011 Christmas pages.  (Possibly 2009 - I can't remember!)  I do want to update the Christmas album by year end so that next year we can enjoy looking back at past years.  I'm thinking about possibly doing Christmas books each year instead of a scrapbook - not sure yet - I'll decide by next year :-)

I have a few other goals by year end - and that is to finish up the Family album and the Boys' albums.  I just want them current and ready to start with 2012. 

I'm really looking forward to one, being current and being able to enjoy our albums now and two, being able to finish up some lose projects that have been "hanging over my head" for years. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Internet Returns!

It only took a week, instead of a day, but we finally have Internet service back.  I find it kinda of interesting the the "problem with our line" that could not be figured out since last Wednesday was fixed 15 minutes after they opened today.  I wonder if the fact that they were closed since Wednesday afternoon had anything to do with why they couldn't "figure it out".  So, what important things did I learn this last week without the Internet?

1)  I love the Internet HA!  (You probably thought I'd say that I don't really need it - wrong).  I didn't go into really "withdrawals" until Sunday evening when the boys/hubby where in bed and it was only 7:30.  I almost went to bed at 8:00.  What can I say, I enjoy the Internet - looking up misc. stuff, researching ideas that pop into my head, reading/writing blogs and more.  And all of those ideas on Pinterest! 

2) We were reminded of what our life was like before we had laptops - we used to "become the TV" and we did that again LOL  (Plus, throw in the fact that the kids were gone and it was like the olden days when we just watched TV in a very clean house!) I will say that we did rent a movie on Saturday evening and watched it together - we haven't done that in a long time.

3)  That's all.  :-)  I'm just glad it is back.

So, Tuesday I'm going Scrapbooking all day so and considering the time tonight, I think this  is the only post that will be written before Wednesday.  No "Too Cute not to Toot" nor Pinterest Challenge posts this week.  Wednesday I will get back into the swing of things - I already have my December Blog post calendar written so I'm ready to get it done. 

Enjoy your day!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Non-Self Imposed Cyber Sabbitical

Well, I'm setting in a coffee shop that has Wi-Fi breaking my "Non-Self Imposed Cyber Sabbatical".  You may recall that I mentioned in a post at the beginning of the week that we were making a change with our DSL in order to change money.  Very simply, we were keeping exactly what we had but we canceled our land line.  By doing that, and the fact that we were not under any contract, we could actually save $60.00 a month on our bill BUT we had to have our current line shut down and turned back on again (to be treated like a new customer).  As expected, our Internet service went down on Tuesday afternoon.  On Wednesday morning I called to ask why I didn't have it back yet to which I was informed that having it back on by the 23rd meant by 8:00 PM.  I was PROMISED that it would be on by 8:00 PM.  Yes, promised - the words by the very nice customer service guy were "We say 8:00 so that we can over promise but over deliver - I work to make sure customers have it on well before that promised time".  What?  Seriously?  Liar, person who needs to not make promises. ;-)  I called at 6:00 PM to ask what the status was and was told that my account was being escalated (sure) because there was no reason why it should not be done.  I called at 8:15 and was told "oops its not done and we don't know why" AND guess what?  The department is closed that works on these new accounts until MONDAY!  Frustration!  It isn't so much that we don't have Internet that is the problem it is the fact that we were PROMISED several times that we would have it back on by the 23rd - one day without it.  I will be calling, again, first thing on Monday morning (I did call this morning just to make sure they were really closed) to put the pressure on to get it up and running.  For now, I'm enjoying a few minutes in a coffee shop and, in the evenings, getting a lot of scrapbooking done :-)

I doubt I will post again until after our Internet is back up on running sometime Monday (thinking good thoughts HA!) and even then the first post probably won't go up until Tuesday, is my guess!  Just didn't want you to think I really disappeared!

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pinterest Challenge # 7

Well, guess what?  I still have Internet HA!  We aren't sure if they just had to do like a "code" switch so we didn't lose it or if they are behind and we'll lose it tomorrow or something for a day.  Who knows!  The good news for all of my faithful readers is I get to post this today after all!

I have three things to post - two thanksgiving "crafts" and one recipe. 

The first idea I found on Pinterest is a recipe from Kraft Recipes for Pumpkin Pillows.  They are super easy and soooo good!!
Don't those look yummy??  They are!  Here is what mine looked like:

See, they are so easy I even made them look almost like the photo!  And Of course, I will share the recipe!
12 KRAFT Caramels
1 tsp. water
1/2 cupBREAKSTONE'S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream
1 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 Tbsp.brown sugar
1 tsp. flour
1/4 tsp.orange zest
20 won ton wrappers
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 cups oil
1 Tbsp.powdered sugar

Make It


MICROWAVE caramels and water in medium microwaveable bowl on HIGH 30 sec.; stir until caramels are completely melted. Cool 2 min. Stir in sour cream and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Refrigerate until ready to use.
WHISK cream cheese, pumpkin, brown sugar, flour, zest and remaining cinnamon until well blended. Spoon about 2 tsp. onto center of each won ton wrapper. Moisten edges with egg white; fold diagonally in half. Pinch edges together tightly to seal.
HEAT oil in large saucepan on medium-high heat to 350ºF. Add won tons, in batches; cook 2 to 3 min. or until evenly browned. Drain. Cool slightly or to room temperature. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with caramel sauce

Now, here are my little "lessons learned" - I was a little concerned about the Caramel sauce when I first made it because it did not mix well - the sour cream and caramels separated.  But, after sitting in the fridge for several hours, it mixed up perfectly.  I think the sour cream helped to soften up the caramels more.  Also, these are best served cool.  The pumpkin filling stays HOT for a long time and it really isn't great to eat (not to mention you will burn your mouth, trust me).  I made them in the afternoon and we had them as a snack that night and they were perfect so you could easily make these in the morning and serve them as an afternoon snack.  I plan on making them Thanksgiving morning and serving them as one of our "snacks" late morning/early afternoon. 

The next two items are easy, peasy crafts.

The first idea is for this adorable little Turkey Shirt.  I had wanted to get my kids a Thanksgiving themed shirt but just couldn't justify the money - these were too cute and looked easy.
I managed to do this project for free - each of the boys happened to have a plain shirt that they, honestly, didn't wear because they went to other outfits and didn't really fit with anything they have now.  Then, my mom had loaned me a container of fabric to use for another project so I just went through that stash and found what I needed.  There even happened to be "plain" fabric in there for the turkey body.  Here is my finished product:
I think they are perfect and will be fun for the boys to wear on Thursday.  I'm already thinking of what shirts I can make for Christmas instead of ordering from Etsy - I love Etsy, don't get me wrong, but if I can make both shirts for under $10.00 instead of spending $50.00 . . .well .. . what would you do?

My second craft are Placecards for the table.  Now, there are only 4 adults so it isn't like there will be a big guessing game on who is sitting where nor do I set an elaborate table because, well, my table is hardly big enough for the food, let along decor (unless I get creative before then!) but I still thought these were too cute  to not make.
They were super easy - I just used scrapbook paper I had on hand, kitchen twine, and printed the names on cardstock to cut out for the tags.  The hardest part?  Cutting the fringe because it was time consuming LOL
Aren't they cute??  I think so!

Did you make anything fun for Thanksgiving?  I have one or two other ideas I'm hoping to use on Thursday but I have to wait to see if it actually happens :-)

Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Too Cute Not Too Toot!

First up is a cute idea I've seen done with candy corn but I wanted to share this tutorial from A Turtle's Life For Me because she DOESN'T use candy corn.  I don't know about you, but I can't seem to find candy corn after Halloween so if I don't stock up on it before then, I end up not being able to make cute things like this cookie idea.  I did actually buy candy corn this year but my kids found it and they LOVE "Tiny Toes" and ate almost all of them!


Wow - this week is a fail, is it not? LOL  I have just not be inspired lately by what I'm seeing out there either because it is the same stuff I saw last year or because there just isn't a lot out there right now.  I think everyone is in the same boat as I am - we are all working on other stuff and not focusing on crafts :-) 

As and FYI - my "normal" Pinterest Challenge post won't go up on Wednesday.  I have a couple of things to wrap up on two projects before taking photos but I won't have internet access on Tuesday to add everything to the post.  We wanted to cut down our phone bill and get rid of our land line, which we did but, because we aren't under contract (after having the service for 8 years HA!) it was cheaper for us to "cancel" and then get the special rate for our same DSL we have now.  BUT, that means they have to turn off our service and then turn it back on and we were told we would not have internet service on the 22nd.  I'm hoping that they under promise and over deliver - meaning that we will have internet sooner then we plan!  We'll see :-)  I really don't spend that much time online during the day but, I do write my posts in the evening most days so . . .this week will be a little out of sorts :-)

That's all :-)  I can't wait to share THREE things from Pinterest with you on Wednesday though!  They are all fun and easy.

Have a great day!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chore Charts

One of those odd things that intrigued me about Blogs at first was all of the giveaways.  Now, in the just over a year that I've been blogging I've noticed that the number of comments in a lot of giveaways have gone from 100 to 600 or 700 hundred!  The first few months I was entering them, I won several and was shocked but then, well, came the dry spell HA!  I also got tired of jumping through hoops on some blogs to "enter" - meaning you had to do 47 things to even enter a comment OR had to like Facebook Pages, twitter accounts and more.  I just want to say "I like it and I want it" HA!   Well, back in August (yes, I'm just now posting this)  one of my favorite blogs, Oopsey Daisy, hosted a giveaway for a Chore Chart.  I had been thinking about what I wanted to do so I decided to enter.  Needless to say I was amazed to find out that I won!!

The site actually sponsoring the giveaway was Idaho Mom of 2.

Before I show you the chore chart I received, here are a few photos of other items currently up for sale in her shop:

Just really cute stuff!

I absolutely love the chart I received.  JoLynn was wonderful to work with as I figured out exactly what I wanted my chore cards to say and communicated with me when the item was ready to be shipped.  Check this out!
 Is that sign awesome?  You can customize the colors and she does have single name charts and I saw one with three names as well.  I love the little hooks and how sturdy the whole thing is because I know it will get beat up by two little boys!
I was able to pick 12 chores for of the boys (and she does include a wonderful list to chose from or you can make up your own!).  Each card includes a photo and the words for the readers and non-readers to be able to use.  Once the task is complete, just flip the card and they have the Happy Face Star on the back.  I like that this chart can grow with them - as they outgrown the chores I picked, I can return to JoLynn's shop and order some more cards to use. 

Now for reality,  I have not used this yet HA!  Right now, because the boys are so little still, we just have "lets help mom" moments and they do little things.  They are learning HOW to do the things that will be their chores like emptying the dishwasher, feeding the dog, brushing teeth and more. Once they have learned how to do those things, we will start working on daily chores and a small reward system.  I like the Dugger Family idea of paying pennies - especially at this young age but I haven't decided for sure yet.  We are working on our "kid" wall right now and this chart will hang on that wall along with clip board displays and a growth chart.  I can't wait to get everything done and hung!

If you are looking for something like this - check out Idaho Mom of 2!! 

Enjoy your Monday :-)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happenings in this House

Can you believe it?  I'm actually posting 2 weeks in a row!  I just thought I would share a few cute photos from our week.  We had a pretty quiet week this week.  Nothing out of the ordinary!  Darryl ended up with Friday off because he had hit his max hours by Thursday so that was a great treat!  Because he ended up being home on Friday, I took advantage of a last minute crop on Saturday and went scrapbooking for the entire afternoon.  It was a fantastic getaway for me being able to just leave and not have to think about anything at home.  Today, Darryl had a concert so we all went with him.  I usually always take my camera but I didn't today and totally regretted it because the boys danced and sang on stage during practice.  Before we even left home, Josh had to find his "guitar" (he has a play one) and take it with him so he could play and yes, he did play while the group played! LOL  Next time I WILL take the camera!

Here's our week in photos:


 Someday, I'm sure that Nate will not be fond of these photos but right now, he thinks my headband is a "hat" and always takes it off my head :-)  These were just too cute to pass up!!
 Nate being held up by Darryl - Nate balanced very well!  (Don't you love the hood? He wore that thing ALL day long!)
 Josh being held up - I love that huge smile.
 I left Friday afternoon to go to the grocery store and came home to THIS in my living room - the boys had tons of fun while I was gone! 
 These next pictures (the one above and the ones below) are from Sunday - yes the built more tracks.  Josh likes that Darryl builds them in a circle and Darryl loves to build them :-)  They had a lot of fun this weekend with all of the Thomas the Train stuff!


That was how week!  We are looking forward to a "short" week due to Thanksgiving and getting to spend Thanksgiving with my parents.  It should be a fun day!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Weekly Menu - week of 11/19 AND Thanksgiving!

Wow, can you believe Thanksgiving is this coming week?  It seems like it was months away and then, I turned around and it was a week away!  We had some really good meals this past week and one night of leftovers.  I was recently trying to figure out why, growing up, we "always" had leftovers on Sunday night.  Then it dawned on me, my mom shopped on Mondays so by the time we got to Sunday night, it was basically clean out the fridge.  My mom didn't cook after church on Sunday night, we were kind of on our own with supervision!  Sometimes we had pizza but most of the time you hoped you were the first one to the fridge so you can the best leftovers!!! 

I'm going to do this post a little differently.  First, I'll give the basic weekly menu and then I'll do Thanksgiving day separately. 

Saturday:  Darryl and the kids are having Hamburgers and Mac and Cheese; I'm going Scrapbooking all afternoon/evening.

Sunday:  Darryl has a concert so we will grab something quick on the way home (I should clarify that normally, Sunday lunch is our big meal)  For dinner, we will have Overnight French Toast and Bacon.

Monday: With Thanksgiving hitting this week, our meals are going to be simple!  So, tonight is Spaghetti and Garlic Bread (Since it is just the kids and I, I'm doing store bought, not making my own sauce.)

Tuesday: Tacos and Rice

Wednesday:  Lasagna, bread and salad (I actually made and froze a pan of lasagna a few weeks ago since I knew I would be busy getting ready for Thanksgiving!)

Thursday:  See the menu below!

Friday:  No kids, no husband and I'm shopping - no meals planned :-)

Saturday: The kids will still be gone - we will have leftovers or order a pizza! - Oops I went over a day HA!


Our Thanksgiving Menu
I have not hosted Thanksgiving at my house since I was a single girl living in my first apartment and we did "Christmas" early because my brother and his family were moving to Brazil.  I was kind of excited to get to host this time.  I mean, there will be so many of us!!  My parents and us - that is a total of 4 adults and 2 kids HA! 


Snacks: If you know me, you know I love to have little appetizers on hand.  I find it helps keep people happy!  Our snacks are:
Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil - this is awesome stuff.  I made it several times this summer and the best part is this recipe is a Weight Watchers recipe so it is nice and light too. 
and
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Wontons - I'll be posting this recipe this coming week on my Pinterest Challenge.
Peanut Butter Goodies - This was my husbands request so my mom is bringing them :-)  His words were "I just want them to snack on, not for dessert."
The Meal: Now for the good stuff!  Check this out :-)

Puerto Rican Turkey - my brother made a turkey last year that was to die for and he willingly gave me his recipe.  I can't wait to make this and hope it is almost as good as his (without his touch, it won't be perfect HA!) 

Our Sides:
Pomegranate Arugula Salad - this is something new but I love pomegranates!  
Green Bean Casserole - just the standard version
Sweet Potato Casserole - this is an "old" recipe I have but I haven't made it in years.  I hope it is as good as I remember!
Parsley Potatoes - lets be honest, I can't make mashed potatoes to save my life.  (I know, who CAN'T make mashed potatoes?)  This recipe is my new go to potato recipe though so I know it will be a hit!
Sausage and Herb Stuffing - I'll be honest, I've never made this but it is an Ina Garten recipe and I've anything I've made of hers has been good.  I just didn't want the "typical" stuffing
Cranberry Sauce - This is my mom's famous recipe so she is bringing them (hehehe . . from the deli at her local store but it really is some of the best stuff ever!)
Rolls (just the Hawaiian Rolls - nice and simple!)

Dessert: Lets just say I enjoy making dessert so I think my parents will be taken a few pieces of pie home!
Pumpkin Pie - this is a combination of two recipes so I will share later
Surprise Pecan Pie - this just looks yummy!!

I have my list all made on what to cook when so I won't be cooking all day on Thursday - most things will be made or at least ready to be assembled by Wednesday evening.  One "side" note on the sides - I do plan on cutting the recipes in half, yes we like leftovers but we don't eat them for weeks :-) 

Enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Food Friday - Lemon BBQ Mini Meatloaf

Welcome to Food Friday!  I'm slowly getting back on track and am actually cooking meals we'll eat :-) LOL  I had a "surprise" success this week with an old favorite.  We have several meatloaf recipes that we love and this specific recipe I hadn't made in awhile.  I had actually planned to make a differant one but I couldn't find one of the key ingredients that I thought I had on hand so I had to improvise.  Well, we might have this once a week because the kids inhaled it.  Yes. Inhaled. It. 

Lemon BBQ Mini Meatloaf
adapted from Lynnette McMaster (my sister-in-law)

These little packets of flavor are so good!!  The lemony flavor along with the sweet sauce make them hard not to inhale!  They are just plain yummy!


1 ½ pound ground beef                            
¼ cup lemon juice                                   
1 egg, slightly beaten
¼ cup onion cut small
1-2 teaspoons salt
4 slices of day old bread cut small (I usually use 1/2 -1 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs)
½ cup Ketchup
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon ground cloves (I very seldom have this on hand so it is optional)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon all spice
6 lemon slices (I never put these on because I always forget to buy lemons!)

Combine first 6 ingredients and mix well – you will probably have to knead it with your hands.  Mix well and shape in to 6 individual loaves and place in a greased 13 x 9 pan.  Bake 15 minutes in a 350 degree over.  In a small bowl combine remaining ingredients except lemon slices.  Cover loaves with sauce and top each with a lemon slice.  Bake 30 minutes longer, basting occasionally with sauce from pan. (Honestly, I never baste them and they are fine!)  Serve sauce over loaves.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Randomness

I haven't done a random post in awhile and I'm not "feeling" my normal post for today on what I'm reading.  So, here are some random thoughts:

-- It's cold and I saw snow flurries today.  :-) :-) :-) :-)  I love snow not for any reason other then it is pretty.  I especially love the huge snowfalls we get sometimes on the weekend - the snows that start Saturday morning and go all day long, snowing us in even for just a day.  Then, to have a sunny day on the following day and see all of the crystals shining!  So pretty!!

-- Have you ever seen the Boz DVD's?  I discovered them by accident but my boys LOVE Boz.  As a matter of fact, we watch it every day .. over and over.  BUT my boys are starting to sing the songs and they are GOOD songs!

--Did you know Thanksgiving is next week?  Well.  It is.

-- Have you ever taken a "cyber" break?   I haven't.  I've thought about it but then remember something I need to go online for :-)  Some days I do try to shut the computer for more then an hour but, again, most everything I do is kept on the computer so how can I really shut it off?

--I love clean sheets.  Aren't they the best?  Sometimes I think I need 7 sets of sheets so I could put clean sheets on every single day but then I remember that I'm the maid and I really don't want to change sheets everyday :-) LOL

-- Lately, I've cooked some really awful meals.  Even things I've made many times have turned out awful.  I'm hoping that the streak has come to an end.  My kids ate the Lemon Meatloaf I made last night like it was going out of style.  Or maybe they were just hungry? :-)  (I'll share the Recipe on Friday since it was SUCH a hit!)

-- Recently, I made a list of things I needed to get done for upcoming events.  It's really helped me focus.  Now if I could only get the stuff done :-) 

-- I hate to admit this but I am SOOOO exciting to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving.  I haven't gone in YEARS but I get to go this year due to all of the kids being gone and my husband working.  The best part is I get up with my husband in the middle of the night so I'll just head out with him that morning instead of going back to bed.  I won't have much spending money but I plan on looking for some key deals and just enjoying the day :-)

-- I guess that is all - time to get the little Munchkin up and some snacks handed out.  He heads home soon and my husband will be home "early" tonight (like 5:00 instead of 6:00 ha) 

Enjoy :-)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday!


Instead of doing a list this week of things I love, I thought I would share a link to Comfy in the Kitchen.  This post is a way she shares her testimony using just words, unspoken.  It's creative and it is powerful.  Beyond that I really loved the song that was being sung in the background.  Check it out and, if nothing else, just enjoy the music.

Enjoy your week!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Too Cute Not To Toot!

I must admit that I totally slacked off this week on looking for ideas.  I even, for the first time in a very long time (if ever) considered not even posting this weekly post but, I figured I would see what I can find while watching some Monday Night Football. 

I'll start out with and idea from Lines Across My face - the 13 days of Christmas  This idea is actually for hostess gifts but when I was looking at them I thought they would just make good gifts for friends or co-workers.
  Another idea from Lines Across my Face - 13 days of Christmas are these adorable burlap trees!


And. . .I'm done.  Wow, talk about being uninspired this week!  I know there are great ideas out there but I'm just not feeling inspired.  I think it is because I'm doing other things relating to upcoming events that I haven't taken time to focus on future crafts!

Pinterest Weekly Challenge - # 6

I'm enjoying this lovely Pinterest Challenge - I actually search for ideas to make sure that I get something done.  It is nice to have recipes to fall back on, I will admit, but I'm also accomplishing a few other things.

Throughout my "blogging career", I've seen lots of ideas for quiet books but have yet to make one.  In looking through ideas on Pinterest, I've come across some great ideas but, better then that, I've come across some fantastic tutorials.  How to Make a Quiet Book is my go to site because she explains every step.  I've decided to take the step and start this process of making two quiet books at one time.  Instead of focusing on the whole book, I'm focusing on one step at a time.  I will show you what I complete along the way and I can't wait until these are done so the boys can play with them.  My goal is to get one page done every 2 weeks (well, actually two pages but they will be the same . . . ).  So, this is my first step - I have to get some supplies. Fabric for the base of the pages and felt for my first page - the traffic light (Seen Here as Inspiration) I chose this one because it is pretty simple. 

I also have another simple project that I made this weekend that was inspired from from this Post on pinterest. 
Isn't that a neat idea?  Well, Darryl has headphones and cords that are always getting twisted together in his work bag and he just recently said he needs something to carry them in so  . . I bought a tin of Altoids this weekend while shopping and put this together.  I modge podged some scrapbook paper onto the top of the can.  It was that simple.  :-) I didn't take a picture though, because mine isn't nearly as pretty as this one but, I'll see how it works and maybe make a prettier one later :-)

One last thing.  I picked a new recipe to try for lunch with the kids thinking it would be something different to have.  The original idea comes from The Girl who Ate Everything and looks like this:


This is what mine looked like:
They did turn out pretty good.  The kids didn't even take a nibble of one (they ate their yogurt and cookies but no sandwich!).  I'm not a sandwich lover but I actually ate one and 1/2 of these so that is saying something.  I plan on making these again sometime when my husband is home because he loves things like this!  I did, obviously, cut this recipe down to 1/4 of the original recipe making only 6 sandwiches and it turned out fine.  Would I recommend these?  Sure - I noticed in the comments on the blog this recipe came from that a lot of people used different seasonings in the butter mixture you pour over the top so you could really change this up :-)

Have you made anything from Pinterest lately?  I'd love to see it!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Simplify Update - Scrapbooking Goals

See, I told you the last post wouldn't really be the final Simplify post!  This is just a little update of how I'm doing on those posted goals for Scrapbooking!

September 2011 - Finish 2010 Digitally and Updated our Family Album (pull the envelope and make sure that all of the pictures are in the album; file the duplicates for future projects) I did not set up this list until halfway through September so I'm actually working on these projects in October. I can say that I am halfway through December 2010 digitally and I am almost finished with Family Album project. We did just get a few family shots done last weekend which I need to order and then add to this as well.  Ok these albums are not put together yet; I had my order ready but then needed to order photos for Josh's birthday so these got put on the back burner.  My plan is to order them this next week so I have them for my scrapbooking day on November 29th.  I'm going to take the books with me to use as a break from digital scrapbooking throughout the day.   Also, I'm still working on Dec 2010 - I kinda lost the momentum I had but have started to pick it back up and really want to have December done before I go scrapbooking! 

 October 2011 - Do Jan-March 2011 Digitally; Christmas Ornament project - put pictures in kids 1st Christmas Ornaments; Update Josh and Nate's books (Pull envelopes and make sure all of the pictures are in the albums and file the duplicates for future use; order Josh's 3 year photos and put in his book as well); Order 20 pages digitally. I finished the Ornament Project   It was such an easy project, I just never took the time to do it! I will admit that I printed the photos of Nate from the computer so that they were done until I can locate and/or order the pictures I want. I didn't want to delay the project though (I should say they ARE the pictures I want, they just aren't on photo paper.) Also, I've almost finished up Josh's and Nate's books with the exception of the most recent photos from a week ago as well as photos from our last two shoots (I guess I ordered to give to the family but not for their books!). I will be ordering those this coming week and will update his book as soon as I get them! I need to finish up Dec/Christmas 2010 so I can start 2011. As far as ordering pages - I need to wait and see if I can fit it into our new budget yet; it might need to wait a little longer :-(  The same is true for Josh and Nate's books as what I stated in "September" - I will be working on these books on that Scrapbooking day.  I have not ordered pages - we've decided to earmark some Tax money at the beginning of the year so I can hopefully get just about everything ordered at once.  So, now, I REALLY want to have all digital stuff done so I can order all at once :-) 

November 2011 - Do April- October 2011 Digitally (there is one 12 hour crop that I will be going to which will help with this!); Finish Red Pet Album (before Kids, I did an album for our pets and they are so much fun but, now, I've found that it is easier just to do the pet pages in with the regular pages so I want to finish this album since it is for 2008-2009!); Alive Album - I originally started doing an album for all of my husbands concerts but, again, I found that this really isn't a great album and now I include the pages in our regular album so I need to decide what to do with the album I started; Order another 20 pages digitally. Since I am still working on Dec 2010 - I obviously haven't started 2011.  I am hoping to get Jan-April done when I go scrapbooking at month end.  I'm also hoping for a Friday evening of Scrapbooking with some friends in December, if we can work it out, where I can get more done.  The other two albums - the Pet Album and Alive Album, I just need to pull out.  I will also take the Pet album with me to try to finish on that day I keep talking about :-)  I think the Alive album is just going to "go away" :-)

So, that is where I stand right now.  Running a little behind but I'm not surprised.  I had a birthday party in October, then a shower to plan for November, Thanksgiving coming up, planning for some special December ideas plus another birthday and Christmas plans!   I still am hoping to be able to start Traditional Scrapbooking with the beginning of the new year.  I'm SOOOO ready to get back to paper and pictures instead of always being on the computer!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Happenings in this House

It's been quite awhile since I've posted a "Happenings in this house" post.  There is no reason other then I was posting pictures in other posts so I didn't really have a lot to share :-)  I went looking through photos from the month of November, since we are almost half way through this month and I'm going to post every single picture I've taken of our family.  Seriously.  Don't worry, there are only 4.  Can you believe it?  I did take pictures at a Bridal shower but that isn't my family.  I have no idea why I haven't been snapping photos other then life is pretty simple right now but, I also know the holidays are coming and there will be TONS of photos! 

This weekend, we stayed home.  We spent time on Saturday cleaning out stuff from our basement and finally getting the area organized that we had to "gut" due to mold.  We are done for now.  There is still more tear out that technically needs done but it isn't top of our list right now.  It's much more minor compared to the original project.  We took the  boys to get hair cuts (much needed haircuts!) and also Darryl and Josh cleaned up the garage so we can park a vehicle in there when the weather gets bad this winter.  That's it :-) 

 Josh has recently discovered that he can pull his shirt over his head and he has a "hat".  At first I thought he was saying he was "hot" and wanted his shirt off but, no, he was just having fun.  Today he discovered his hood on his sweat  jacket and thought it was fun to walk around with that on his head too.
 Reading.  Every day.  Many, Many times a day.  The boys LOVE to be read to - we hear "read, read, read" lots and lots throughout the day.  I think I have "Goodnight Moon" memorized now :-)  I'm not complaining - I'm glad that they to read.  I also catch them reading the books themselves which is just so adorable and yes, they have a few memorized too!

Today, while Darryl and I watched football, we set the boys up with their bean bag chairs and their current favorite video (Boz ABC and 123 - Boz videos are FANTASTIC!) using my computer.  They loved it and we actually got to enjoy football which has not been the case the last few weeks.  I must confess the first photo of Josh - we took to send to Jon Gruden.  He used to be a football coach and is now a commentator but we think Josh bears a striking resemblance.  We thought it would be fun to send him a picture :-)

So, that's what is happening in our house right now :-)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekly Menu - November 11

This weeks meals were pretty good.  A favorite was the Ham and Cheese Quiche. I did have one big mess up - I made Breaded Chicken, which I've made before and we really like, but the chicken thighs were still semi almost frozen.  I didn't think a lot about it - just added 15 minutes to the cooking time.  I put dinner on the table, my husband went to cut into his chicken and . .well, I think it was still clucking.  It was gross LOL  Wow.  We enjoyed potatoes, peas and rolls though! 

I'm really loving having the whole month planned in advance.  I have made some changes so I can remember them for future months and I'm finding some recipes we don't really love and have found that some things I don't want to repeat every month, even though we like them.  It sure makes getting my grocery list together easier, though, since I already have recipes pulled and the menu written! 

This is what is planned for this week!

Saturday:  I have no idea.  How's that?  Originally, we were going to dinner at someones house Friday night but those plans fell through so we decided to keep the babysitter and have a date night.  We spent our entertainment money so . .my plan to get dinner after the kids go to bed tonight might not work ! Maybe we'll rob the change jar and get some tacos :-)

Sunday: Stuffed Shells with Cheese, beans, biscuits.  This is one of the meals that, as much as we like it, I don't want to have it every 4 weeks.  I think I need to rework my Sunday plan :-)  For dinner, we'll have Thai Chicken and Pineapple Stir Fry

Monday: Just some homemade pizza for the kids and I

Tuesday: Tacos, Rice and Beans

Wednesday: I'm trying something new - Chicken Lettuce Wraps.  They sound good, we'll see if they are good!  Also, some fried rice - yummy!

Thursday: Stuffed Meatloaf, Potatoes, Corn, Peasant Bread (I made this bread a few weeks ago - it was really good but didn't turn out perfect because I tried to use the bread maker to "cheat" - I need to make ti from scratch and see how it works)

Friday: Simple Stroganoff with noodles, Acorn Squash, left over peasant bread

We are spending the weekend getting some projects done - finishing up some things in the basement, storing away all of the outdoor toys/furniture, getting the garage ready to park cars in as the snow starts to fly, and hanging up a growth chart :-)  We actually have a weekend at home with no plans so we figured we had better get some things done!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Food Friday - Recipes from the Third Birthday Party (warning - long post!)

Several weeks ago, I shared lots of details about our "Down on the Farm" birthday party but I didn't share any recipes at that time.  It's taken me a few weeks but I wanted to share those with you now. 

I'll start first with the appetizers or snacks.  I always like to have some little snacks out when people arrive.  When I plan get togethers, I generally plan the main meal an hour to an hour and half after everyone arrives for one main reason.  My family is always late.  Seriously.  Drives me insane but several of them always are so I try to treat those that come early or on time with something special :-)

The hit of the day were this dipped marshmallows.  I should have made a double batch!

Chocolate Caramel Dipped Marshmallows
adapted from Jenna's Journey

This are incredible and were gone in about 2 minutes.  I should have made about 3 times as many as I made and they would have still been eaten!  I did learn a few things.  1) Hot Caramel will melt marshmallows.  Work quickly and, unlike I did, I would put them in the fridge for a few minutes right away so they cool off quickly.  2) Use Pam - like a whole can of it - even on the tray you set  them on when you are all done.  I ran out of the spray and they stuck to the serving platter.  3) You need a lot of chocolate to dip :-)  As shown in the picture, I drizzled the chocolate and actually liked it better.  I will make these again - maybe just for me to eat instead :-)  One last thing - my grocery store did not have the caramel bits so I just bought a bag of caramels and unwrapped them all.

Ingredients:
1 bag of marshmallows
1 bag of caramel bits
1 block of almond bark
1 bag of 50 lollipop sticks

First, prepare a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Spray the paper with PAM. Then spray it again. And one more time. When you think you've sprayed it enough, give it one more pass. Now you're ready.

Next up, insert the sticks into the marshmallows. Don't poke it all the way through - just close to the end.

Follow the directions on the caramel bits. This stuff is great!

Working quickly, dip the marshmallows, twirl, drain the excess and place them on the heavily sprayed wax paper.
Once they've hardened, melt the chocolate, dip the marshmallows, and place back on the paper. They will set up in about 5 minutes. Serve!

Another favorite that we had was Apple Dip - I didn't get a photo of it but wanted to share the recipe.  It is so easy and I always get asked for the recipe.
 
Apple Dip
This is a super easy recipe that you will automatically want to double for a group party.  It will disappear quickly!
 
1 cup brown sugar
8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
 
Mix until creamy; refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with sliced apples or graham crackers.
 
Finally, I baked up a couple of loaves of Pillsbury French Bread, sliced it, and included a bowl of my Apple Butter for people to use.  It was another huge hit. 
 
I wanted to keep the appetizers simple yet fitting for our them (and apples seemed to fit the farm!). 


Lets move on to the main course!
Our menu was very "down on the farm" - Root Beer Pulled Pork, Baked Beans, Cole Slaw and Macaroni Salad and Chips.  Now, it was supposed to just be Cole slaw - but I made it that morning and it was AWFUL.  Like throw in the trash awful so my husband ran to Walmart and picked up a Cole slaw and Amish macaroni salad instead.  Crazy, I know. 

Root Beer Pulled Pork

This stuff is like candy to me.  It is so good even before you put BBQ sauce on it.  For this party I actually cooked the pork on Friday, shredded it and put it in the crock pot, in the fridge, over night.  On Saturday, early afternoon, I added the BBQ sauce and let it warm up in the crock pot and it was fantastic.  This original recipe calls for Root Beer Extract - I don't use it because . . I'm cheap.  I never have the extra in my budget to buy the extract but I don't miss it.  The Root Beer adds the flavor that is needed.

2 to 3 pounds pork loin or roast
2 cans of root beer
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon root beer extract
1/2 cup good quality BBQ sauce
salt and pepper
dash of garlic powder
Rolls

Place pork, onion, garlic and spices in a stock pot and pour the root beer and extract over it.  Cook on low on the stove top for 4-5 hours or until meat falls apart.  Darin the liquid and stir in the BBQ sauce.  Serve on Rolls. 

3BC (Best Baked Bean Casserole)
adapted from All Recipes.com

I've been making this recipe for several years and it is always a huge hit.  Pre-cooking the bacon and onion really makes the difference.  My kids inhale these beans when I make them too!

1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, diced
1/2 pound bacon
1 (28 ounce) can baked beans (such as Bush's Original)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1 cup brown sugar, divided

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees.  Melt the butter in a skillet over low heat.  Cook and stir until the onion has softened and turn translucent, 10 to 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, place the bacon in a large, deep skillet and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes.  Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate.  Cut bacon into bite-sized pieces and set aside. 
brown sugar until evenly mixed.  Cover the bean mixture with the remaining bacon and sprinkle with the remaining brown sugar.  Bake in the preheated oven until hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes. 

Sweet Restaurant Slaw
adapted from All Recipes.com

No, this is not the recipe that did not turn out!  Actually, the following week I needed to throw a dinner together and had a bag of coleslaw mix.  I found this recipe and it has become an instant favorite.  Wow.  It really does taste like the coleslaw you find in so many restaurants.  I figured I would share it since it is what I WOULD have made had I found this recipe before!

Ingredients
  • 1 (16 ounce) bag coleslaw mix
  • 2 tablespoons diced onion
  • 2/3 cup creamy salad dressing (such as Miracle Whip™)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

Directions

  1. Combine the coleslaw mix and onion in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together the salad dressing, vegetable oil, sugar, vinegar, salt, and poppy seeds in a medium bowl; blend thoroughly. Pour dressing mixture over coleslaw mix and toss to coat. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.               

Now, we are finally on to the ending!! 
The chocolate fountain is always a huge hit.  I put out bowls of marshmallows, pretzels, bananas, pound cake, and . .. something else; I can't think of what they are called but they are a pastry that is cream filled and found in the freezer.  (They aren't eclairs but kinda like those - wow, total blank!)

When it came to the cake, I thought about all kinds of things including a tractor cake or a cake that had green and yellow layers but decided instead to make to die for cupcakes and use paper to decorate them.  When people took bites of these I heard things like: "Oh my word, these are good" and "These are AWESOME" and "I've never tasted anything like these before - they are incredible!"  Yes, they are that good!

Mountain Dew Cupcakes
adapted from Nothing but Country
Quite honestly, I have nothing to add except - these are some of the best cupcakes I've ever tasted.  In my life.
Cupcakes:
1 box lemon cake mix
1 box of instant lemon pudding
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups of mountain dew
1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • Mix cake mix, pudding and eggs well.
  • Add in your oil to the batter and mix for 2 minutes.
  • Slowly pour in your mountain dew soda and mix for another minute.
  • Add to cupcake liners and bake at 350 degrees F for 13-17 minutes (or until toothpick inserted comes out clean)
  • Allow time to cool before frosting.
Frosting:
4 cups Confectioners Sugar
2 sticks of salted butter (room temp)
1/8 cup approx of Mountain Dew
1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • Beat your butter well till smooth, slowly add in 1 cup at a time of confectioners sugar and your lemon juice & mountain dew.
  • Add all of your sugar and check for thickness of the frosting. If it is too thick add a teaspoon at a time of mountain dew till you reach the correct consistency to pipe or frost your cupcakes.
  • Enjoy!!
And FINALLY, one last recipe - I made sweet tea for one of the drinks (along with lemonade) and wanted to share the best sweet tea recipe ever.  It comes from my dad - I used to make it all of the time and then stopped but since the party, I always have a jug in the fridge - it is soooo good!

Sweet Tea

Approximately 3 cups of water
1 cup sugar
10 Lipton Tea Bags

Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a 1-quart sauce pan.  Pour 1 cup of sugar into the boiling water and stir until it is dissolved and water is boiling again.  Turn off burner, place 10 tea bags in sugared water and let steep for 2-3 hours.  Remove tea bags, pour into 1 gallon container.  Fill container with water making 1 gallon of Southern tea.

Sorry for the long post but I really wanted to get all of these recipes into once place :-) 

Enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What I'm Reading!


Hello Fellow Readers :-)  If you recall, last week I mentioned that I finally re-organized my book shelves and found a nice stack of books I haven't read.  Most of them are some harder reads (which is probably why I haven't read them!) but, I did pick two so far that I've completed - which was kinda nice!  (And neither were as difficult as I thought they would be!)

I have mentioned Liz Curtis Higgs as being one of my favorite authors.  I have read one book of hers that I didn't like that I did actually review here but all authors are entitled to a bad book here or there :-)  This book, Here Burns my Candle  takes place in 18th century Scotland which, right there, tells you that this isn't going to be an easy read.  It is very authentic in the language and setting.  I do not know my Scottish history which may have been a little bit of a stumbling block but Liz does a good job and being informative yet keeping the book exciting.  The book tells the story of the Kerr Family - Lady Marjory, her two sons, Lord Donald and Andrew, and their wives.  As the story plays out, family secrets are learned and the family is devastated by events that take place around the rebel army riding into Edinburgh in September 1745.  This is not a book you can skim through; you actually have to read it in order to stay caught in the story, which I know is not always easy!  All in all, I did enjoy this book and plan on getting book 2 so I can continue on with the family's journey.

This next book, A Brother's Journey by Richard Pelzer is one that I borrowed from my parents a long time ago.  It interested me but yet I didn't read it because I wasn't sure if I wanted to. Richard Pelzer is the brother of David Pelzer who is more well known as The Child called "It".  In this book Richard tells his story of the abuse - both of his part in David's abuse as well as the abuse he was given after David was taken from their home.  Ironically, this was an easy book to read - not the content but the way it was written.  Richard wrote it in away that gives you a very clear picture of what he went through but it is not written in such a way that it is gruesome.  I have never read the book about David - I know that it was a very popular book among teachers when I was teaching; a way to know how to look for abuse, I guess but I just couldn't read it.  I am totally amazed that these children remained in the home even though people know what was going on; that their mother was mentally ill.  I am glad I read this book and I would recommend it but I do want to say that there is language in this book; it is understandable but I like to make that statement up front when I recommend a book like this.

After reading those two books this past week I went back to my "already read" books and have picked up the first book in a series I haven't read in a long time.  I'm looking forward to sharing the books with you as I finish them!

Keep reading!

My Favorite Reads - Blog Style

Like most blogs, I keep a running list on the side of my blog of the blogs I follow and read.  I actually update that list fairly frequently and, my general rule of thumb is if someone hasn't posted after a month, I remove them from the list (unless it is a real-life-friend - then I let them stick around longer).  Plus, if I find that I always skip over that blog when I'm looking for updates, I delete it.  I like to keep that list fresh and also not let any sit stagnate.  So with that said, I thought I would pick out my "most favorite" blogs from the list and share - maybe you are looking for some new inspiration or just something different to read.  Just because I'm only picking my most favorite, doesn't mean the others aren't great - these are just the ones I gravitate to first :-)  Come on now, we ALL have favorites!

I'll start with my "Inspiration Blog" - the blog that actually moved me into creating my owl blog.  It is the story of the Sullengers who's young daughter drowned in a terrible accident.  It has been encouraging to read her blog this past year as they have overcome over whelming grief and welcomed in a new baby.  They just posted family pictures where are amazing (11/08/11) including the idea the photographer used to include Preslee in their family photo.

The next blog, entitled "Everything Beautiful" is written by a friend of mine from High School.  We played Clarinet together in band (she usually won 1st chair and left me in 2nd every time!).  It has been great to reconnect with her "all of these years" (haha) later.  Her story is amazing and she isn't afraid to mince words either (which is one of the many reasons I adore her!).  She fights for some great causes and shares her heart willingly.  If you enjoy being challenged - take time to check out her blog :-)

"Our Happily Ever Afters" is a current favorite more because of what they are going through right now.  They just adopted a little boy from Korea and I've really enjoyed reading about the transition as they have brought him home.  I will admit, sometimes her life seems a little like a fairy tale but, as is true in blog world, we only put in blogs what we want others to see :-)  I think really, her life is just different then mine and that makes things easy to look at with rose colored glasses!  She really is such a tender hearted, kind person though, it is hard not to just enjoy reading about her life :-)

This next blog, "Superchikk" is just a simple blog about her life with her family but I just love the way she writes.  This is one of the blogs that I always look for updates on because . . .shes just fun!
 




I hope you'll check these out as well as a few others on my blog roll or click on some of those buttons on the left side too!  I will admit, some of the "buttons" are not blogs I click on that much anymore but Oopsey Daisy, Craftomaniac, and House of Hepworth are really great blogs too! 

Enjoy some new reading!