Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Remembering to Be Thankful~ (not for little eyes to see)

There's the craziness, and the Turkey and the stuffing and the football, but why do we celebrate Thanksgiving? I'd have to say that the name is fairly self explanatory, but for some reason, we don't really think about that stuff anymore. Maybe it's because the pie might burn, or because Aunt Claire 's plane was delayed, or because you'll die if you have to sit through one more college game. Whatever the reason, I hope you and your family can find a minute this year to really think about how much we have, and how much we have to be thankful for.

I have spent the last week or so really thinking about what life would be like if I didn't have all those things I take for granted, so I thought I would share my list with you.

I am thankful that I know where I will sleep tonight.

I'm thankful for all those who are constantly watching to make sure my children are safe.

I'm thankful that my home looks like this:

...And has not been ravaged by war like this:

I am thankful that my children go to a school like this:

...And not like this:

I'm thankful that my children have enough to eat.

I'm thankful that we have water like this:

...When so many have water like this:

I'm thankful that we will eat dinner here tomorrow:

...and not here:

But, more than all of this, I am thankful for the incredible love that has saved me from myself, even when I am so terribly undeserving.

For all of this and so much more, I am truly thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving, from my family to yours.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

For Thanksgiving...

This is my favorite pecan pie recipe. My Aunt LuLu had it written in the back of a cookbook and would make it every year on Thanksgiving. My dad loves it.

Aunt LuLu’s Pecan Pie

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
4 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
1-1 1/4 cup pecan halves


Combine butter, sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan; cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Let cool slightly. Add eggs, vanilla and salt to mixture; mix well.
Pour filling into unbaked pastry shell and top with pecan halves.
Bake at 325 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Do you know where your dining room table is?

Are you sure? Take a peek in the dining room. Do you see it, or is it buried under a bunch of stuff that has been piling up since Easter? I know in my house, the dining room table seems to be the place that everyone drops things they are finished with. I can't tell you how many times a day I walk through there and have to grab some little something and put it away. I'm fortunate because I have a house with a circular floor plan, and we often walk through the dining room on our way to another area of the house. It's easy for me to keep it clean, because I'm in there all the time. Some of us, however, have dining rooms off to one side of the house, and we really only go in there when we have a formal dinner ( or when we need to stash something out of the way).
With the holiday coming up next week, it's time to find those tables!!

Take a few minutes and go in there with a grocery store bag. Start by tossing anything that you don't need to keep, (like newspapers from July).

Go back in there and grab the things that have another home in the house. Take them out of the dining room and put them away.

Hit that dining room with some furniture polish and a soft cloth. Don't forget the bottoms of the chairs!
... I bet you can find your table now! Take a minute to throw your table cloth in the wash.

You can take a step back and breathe a sigh of relief knowing that your dining room is ready to wow your guests. Take a minute to spread that table cloth and add a decorative centerpiece. You're all set!

Give your dishes and wine glasses a good rinse, then set the table.

Now you can have a Latte on Thursday morning while you wait for the turkey to rest instead of scrambling to throw everything from the dining room into the coat closet.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Family Cookbook Friday... On Saturday Morning

Sorry I'm late! We had a bit of a crazy day yesterday. So I'm deviating a little from my family cookbook recipe's and sharing what I believe may be the perfect holiday breakfast.

It's not a family re
cipe, but I think is soon may be. It's called a Cinnamon Apple Dutch Baby Here's the recipe:

6 tbsp butter

2 tsp cinnamon ( I used a cinnamon blend, with nutmeg and ginger)
1/4 cup brown sugar

2 lg Granny Smith apples, sliced thin
4 eggs
1 cup flour

1 cup milk

In 10-12 in frying pan, melt butter on low heat. Stir in sugar and cinnamon. Add apples. Cook, stirring often until apples are translucent, about 5 minutes.
Place pan in 425 degree oven while you mix batter.
Mix eggs and flour until smooth (be sure to scrape
bowl). Add milk.

Pour batter even
ly over batter in pan. Bake uncovered until fluffy and golden, about 15 minutes.
(Taken from

I served it with a little warm caramel on top.
It was a huge hit!! Oh my goodness it was good!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Seven Layer Bars

Family Cook Book Friday

This recipe came from my cousin, Andrea. It is one of my favorites!

Andrea's Seven Layer Bars

¼ cup margarine
1c graham crackers
1 ¼ c flaked coconut
1c chopped walnuts
1c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c butterscotch chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Melt margarine in 9x9 pan
Press crumbs into pan.
Layer 1c coconut.
Layer chips and remainder of coconut.
Layer walnuts.
Drizzle with milk.
Bake @ 350° for 30 minutes.
Cool completely.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Making Your Holidays a Breeze

We've all been there. It's 5:30 on Christmas Eve and you are at the mall in a line that is so long the store will close before you get to the front of it. As you're standing there, questions start flying about how you got yourself into this situation. There are people coming to your house for dinner, and you should be home getting ready. You should be showered, you should have your hair done. Heck, you should have decided what to have for dinner before this. But no. You're at a box store with some video game system in your hands (the box is all crushed and ripped because that was the only one left), waiting in line behind a woman who is threatening to cause her child bodily harm if he doesn't stop pulling on the rope partitions.
C'mon girls, you know you've been there. We were probably in the same line...

Is that the way you want to spend your holidays this year? Of course not. With a little planning, you can have an enjoyable, restful holiday season.

Start by making your lists. We can take a lesson from Santa on this one. With so much to do, he has to make sure he doesn't forget anything, right? So, make your lists, and refer back to them regularly.

Here is my "list of lists":

What meals am I making
~am I hosting Christmas, or Christmas Eve?
Grocery list

Gift list ~ don't forget teachers, bus drivers, mail carriers, etc...
I try to start in August, and buy one or two gifts per month until December. This way I don't have to pile a bunch of stuff on a credit card. If gift purchases are spread out, it's a much lighter financial burden. Start with out-of-towners first. (just be sure to check the return policy at the store. Some stores are only 45 days. I try not to buy clothes until closer to Christmas, this way returning won't be an issue.)

Shipping list ~
try to ship to out of town family by 12/1, so everything arrives on time!
~ start early and freeze!
Christmas card mailing list
Holiday activity list ~ a visit to Santa, shopping for a tree, whatever your family does
Stamps, boxes, gift wrap, if you need it (it's always a good idea to go shopping after Christmas and stock up for next year.)
Decor ~ do you need to replace that lighted reindeer that only lights on one side?
After Christmas List (this one is my favorite! Hit
those sales, and stock up for next year!! cards, wrapping paper, decorations, anything! It's all 75% off, right!! LOL)

That's all my lists. now what, right?

I start with my menu. What am I going to serve? After that, I use it to make my grocery list. This way, I can buy one or two things a week when I do my regular shopping, instead of having an e
xtra $200 trip to make in late December, when the shelves are empty anyway. I just store things in my basement.
Then, I move to my gift list. I use a spread sheet to list a
ll the people down the side, and across the top I put :
Gift store cost done

This way I can record what I want, where I'm going to get it, an
d how much it costs. Then, I employ my "one or two gifts a month" idea to check them off the list. When I have purchased something, I move it from the gift column, to the done
column. It works out well for me.

I am all but finished with my s
hopping for this year.

Then, on to my Christmas cards. Get them signed and addressed now. Put them in a desk drawer and mark November 29th on your calendar.

You can impress the heck out of people when your card shows
up at their door on December 1st. :o)

Mark each thing off your list as you go. Bake one batch of cookies a week instead of trying to do 10 the day before you need to give them. mark your calendar and choose a date to visit Santa and put up your tree. Whatever your traditions are, plan ahead, and your events will run smother.

A few simple steps can save you tons of grief during the holiday cr
aziness. Take a few minutes and get started, then you can sit back and enjoy the beauty of the Christmas season with your family!!
Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Will You Vote Tomorrow?

We can't provide adequately for our families without providing them with the type of government we believe is needed. How can we ensure our children grow up knowing all the liberties and privileges we had if we don't speak up about our beliefs?

Make sure your voice is heard! Regardless of your politics, as wives and mothers, it is our duty to tell our representation exactly what we expect of them. They can't do their jobs if we don't.

So, Democrat, Republican, Independent or Tea Party, don't forget to remind your government that we are expecting them to represent the people, not their own interests.

As for me and my family... We're tea drinkers.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pumpkin Adventures

Saturday afternoon our family ventured out in search of the perfect carving pumpkins. We have a wonderful farm market about 30 minutes from our house. it's our favorite, and we go every year.

Now, if you know us, you know that we are always just a touch behind schedule, and running like crazy. Needless to say, we didn't get to the pumpkin farm as early as we would have liked. We half expected to find a farm that was completely picked over, and closing soon.

Instead, what we found was the perfect night time fall adventure!!

The pumpkins were far from picked over.

We had such a wonderful time in the dark!!

The Teepee was a little more fun.

We found the perfect pumpkins:

We took a spooky hay ride, minus the spook, of course! (Aaron got a little rained on, hence the bothered expression.)

And finally, no fall outing would be complete with out:

What a day! Completely wonderful.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Family Cookbook Friday

I think, since I have been doing so many of our family recipes, that I will dedicate one day a week to my family.
So, here is it, Family Cookbook Friday. I hope you enjoy it!

This recipe is a favorite of my brother's. My mother used to make them for him all the time.

Gina's Chocolate Crinkles:
(I have seen variations of this recipe in several cookbooks)

½ cup vegetable oil
4sq. Unsweetened chocolate (4 oz), melted
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Mix oil, chocolate, granulated sugar,. Blend in one egg at a time until well mixed. Add Vanilla. Sift flour. Stir flour, baking powder, and salt into oil mixture. Chill several hours or over night.

Heat oven to 350°. Roll small balls with dough and drop into confectioners sugar. Roll to cover completely. Place 2” apart on greased baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes. Be careful not to overbake.
Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Our Beautiful Home

When was the last time you stopped and looked around at the
Incredible home God has made for us?

Everywhere we look, we can see God's beautiful work.

It's awe inspiring.

My oldest has quite an eye for it when she gets a camera in her hands:

God's gift to us, in all its magnificence, is all around us.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Do you think the Lord put me here to clean up after you???"

Is this all I'm good for? Cleaning toilets and making lunches, and doing laundry? Really??

Do you ever feel like that? Do you ever feel like no one appreciates the things you do to keep your home running smoothly? You spend all day washing and folding clothes, and all you hear is "why didn't you do my pink shirt?"
or maybe this one:
You spend an hour and a half fixing lasagna and fresh bread for your family and your son says "But, I wanted hot dogs!"
What is your first thought when this happens?
Unfortunately, this is often my first thought. But of course, that is not the right attitude. We can explain to our children at this point that we worked hard to make a nice dinner to nourish their bodies, and share some special time together. We can use it as a teaching opportunity.

...Too bad they have to be taught, right? Wouldn't it be nice if they came to the table and said "Mother, you have made us a splendid dinner, thank you for all that you do."

Holy cow. I'd probably fall out of my chair.

If your children and husband are anything like mine, that is not how it goes. So, I go through my day feeling unappreciated and undervalued.
However, that is where I make my mistake. I am not unappreciated, and I am not undervalued. I am a treasure in the eyes of God the Father. He sees all that I do for my family, for His family. He sees me caring for His children and training them up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).
If I can keep my heart in the right place, I'll know that God is in the laundry, and He is in the lasagna. I am doing His work by feeding my family healthy food, and caring for their home.
If I can keep that in mind, I won't feel quite so bad. Then maybe, just maybe...I'll make hot dogs tomorrow.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What's for dinner?

Picture it:
It's twenty after five and you are standing in the kitchen staring into the open refrigerator hoping that something fabulous will appear before you. We've all been there, and it's terrible. Kids screaming because they are hungry, and you have NO IDEA what to give them. So, you start thinking... Cheese puffs? Ice cream? Happy Meal?

So, what's for dinner? If yo don't decide soon, the scene in the kitchen will turn into something like this:

With a little pre planning you can solve this problem, and probably save a little money, too. Taking a few minutes to plan a weekly menu can save hours of heartache later in the week (It also makes for happy well fed husbands).

I usually do my shopping on Friday afternoon. So, I spend a few minutes every Thursday making a plan for the following week. Choosing recipes in advance allows me to add any needed ingredients to my shopping list, and prevents last minute runs to the store during the week. I pick 6 recipes, leaving one night for leftovers or pizza, and add them to the menu. It's nothing set in stone, and can easily be changed to meet the daily needs of the family, but I always have an idea of what to make.

By planning ahead of time, I avoid the blank stares into the fridge, and I'm able to feed my family a nice home cooked meal... Before 8:30.