December 30, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Today is our oldest daughter's 13th birthday!  Wow!  
Two teenagers in the house!  I am feeling old today!  

Pictures from our photo shoot last year.  

Helping in the kitchen!

Loving on her baby brother!

Happy Birthday our beautiful Rebekah!  We love you!

* * *

Stay tuned for Monday's post!  A new series:  Simplify Your Home! 

December 26, 2011


Hello all!  I hope ya'll had a blessed Christmas!  We're lounging around the house today eating leftovers, watching movies, playing games, and taking down the tree.  Tomorrow I'll be shopping a few sales at the craft stores.   I'm looking forward to the discounts.  Since I love a good sale I thought I'd have a sale at my Etsy shop.  So if you've been eyeing that snowman ornament set, been meaning to try the spiced chai or thought you might like to buy a stitched towel to set aside for a gift for a friend for next year head on over!

Discount code is GOODBYE2011

See you there! 

December 24, 2011

December 21, 2011

Preparing for the Holidays: "Bringing in the New Year"

A long time ago (not that long ago, but it seems that way for me) I did a series featuring the book Queen of the Castle.  I thought since baby is here (I'm scheduling these posts out) that I'd recap the holiday part of the book.  So every Wednesday you'll get some great tips on prepping your heart and home for the holidays.  This is the last post for this series recap.  I thought I'd share it with you early since I'll more than likely be taking a bit of time off for Christmas.

*  *  *

This chapter in Queen of the Castle is "Bringing in the New Year".  Lynn begins by sharing her love for leaving the "holiday cheer to twinkle away until well after May Day." Lynn, however, also appreciates the wisdom of her husband and now enjoys clearing the house January 1st.  "It feels good to clear out the old in readiness for the new.  Isn't that what the New Year is all about?"

Lynn suggests using the last week of the year for clearing out excess "stuff".

*As you put away new gifts, get rid of one gift.

*As you put away a new shirt or sweater, get rid of one.  Better yet, clear out all the sweaters and shirts you haven't worn in the past few years!

*Go through file cabinets and get rid of papers no longer needed.

*Sort through your craft stash.  If a certain blog writer you started a project more than five years ago and haven't finished it, pitch it or give it away!  I'm totally not pointing fingers in the mirror here (a-hem).

We have a kiddo with a birthday on Dec. 30th.  Some years we keep the decorations up until January 1st, some years we take them down before her birthday.  I'm not sure what we'll do this year, but it will be before we start back up with school again on Jan. 3rd.

This year I will make Parmesan Crusted Chicken, Crock Pot Mac-n-Cheese, Cherry Cinnamon Applesauce, steamed green beans, and then we'll probably enjoy some brownies (usually made by our Rebekah) and the some Peppermint Candy Cane Ice Cream (loooove it!).   Afterward we'll sit around and go through our calendar for 2011 remembering our hardships as well as the blessings of the year.  We'll go around the room and pray for this coming new year.  Then we'll play some games, watch a few movies (The Sound of Music will be one of them!) and bring in the New Year with a prayer and bedtime hugs and kisses for those kiddos who haven't already fallen asleep and been carried off to their beds.

- - -

"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 
always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all."  
Philippians 1:3-4

December 20, 2011

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Picky Eaters

Will you have picky eaters at your holiday table that will only eat mashes potatoes and won't touch another veggie?  Try steaming a bit of cauliflower ahead of time and then when the potatoes are mashing toss in some cauliflower.  They won't know what hit 'em!

* * *

Include your picky eaters in the making of the dishes (well, except for the potatoes if you add in that cauliflower *wink*).  They will be much more likely to enjoy eating a dish if they know what's in it.

* * *

If your child won't refuse to eat everything on his or her plate, compromise.  There are other days you can battle that dinner time ordeal head-on.  Think about may have company, there may be new dishes they don't like, they may not have gotten enough sleep and they may be on overload with all the noise and happenings of the day.  
Compromise is the key.  Have them pick a few things they will eat in order to head to the dessert table.  Let's say they have 3 veggies, a meat, and a roll.  Cut the meat portion in half (unless they love the meat!), break the roll in two, and have them pick a veggie they will eat (or a few bites of each kind).  I know some say to just let it all go during the holidays but that will make your January meal times much more difficult.  Especially if you intend to get back on track with healthy eating in the new year.

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December 17, 2011

Some Holiday Fun!

 I hope you enjoy watching these little goats as much as we did! 
Merry Christmas!

December 16, 2011

Old House Kitchen Christmas Favorites: Baby Cheesecakes

With a new baby in our midst we are trying to soak up as much cuddling time as we can so I thought it would be fun to share our family's favorite Christmas recipes!  Enjoy!

My mother-in-law makes these every Christmas and they are so yummy! Yes, I know it's not Christmas, but they sounded so yummy I just had to share them with you!

Baby Cheesecakes

19 oz. cream cheese - softened
3 eggs
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. sugar
vanilla wafers
Paper baking cups

Place paper baking cups in muffin pans. Place one vanilla wafer in each cup. Mix all ingredients and fill cups 3/4 full. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven 12-15 minutes. Fill center indentations with pie filling of your choice. I sometimes use our home made cherry filling.


December 15, 2011

Old House Kitchen Christmas Favorites: Peanut Butter Pie

With a new baby in our midst we are trying to soak up as much cuddling time as we can so I thought it would be fun to share our family's favorite Christmas recipes!  Enjoy!

When we go to the Frays' family Christmas gathering I always bring this!  It's so yummy I rarely have any to bring back home so I have to make two: one for us and one for the gathering!

Peanut Butter Pie

1 chocolate cookie pie crust
1 cup peanut butter
8 oz. cream cheese (room temp)
1/2 cup sugar
12 oz. Cool Whip
1- 11.75 oz. jar Smucker's Hot Fudge Ice Cream Topping, divided (see below)

2 T Hot fudge
2 T peanut butter

In a medium-ish bowl, beat together the peanut butter, cream cheese and sugar. Gently fold in 3 cups of Cool Whip. Spoon the mixture into the pie shell. Smooth mixture to edges of the pie.

Set aside 2 T hot fudge from the jar (put it in a baggie). Microwave the jar of hot fudge for 1 minute. Stir. Spread it over the pie to cover the peanut butter layer. Refrigerate until serving time.

Just before serving, spread the remaining Cool Whip over the hot fudge layer. Be careful not to mix the layers! Remember you want it to look pretty and all!

Place the 2 T hot fudge in a small baggie and knead it for a few seconds. Cut a tiny hole in the corner of the bag and drizzle over the pie. I do it in lines about an inch apart. Do the same thing with 2 T of peanut butter going in the opposite direction of the hot fudge stripes.

Enjoy! Someone pass me a fork!!

December 14, 2011

Preparing for the Holidays: "Eating Our Way Through the Holiday"

A long time ago (not that long ago, but it seems that way for me) I did a series featuring the book Queen of the Castle.  I thought since baby is here (I'm scheduling these posts out) that I'd recap the holiday part of the book.  So every Wednesday you'll get some great tips on prepping your heart and home for the holidays.
*  *  *

This week's chapter in Queen of the Castle is "Eating Our Way Through the Holiday: Christmas Foods".  If you're anything like Lynn, the author, or myself, you are drooling over cookbooks and magazines that have to do with Christmas foods right about now.  I have been for a while, but I love food so it goes without saying! 

Lynn shares her family's traditional Christmas meals.  I have already done so HERE, but I'm thinking of changing things up a bit.  I'm thinking of making it a bit easier on myself so I can better enjoy the day with my family.   After reading Lynn's suggestions I'm thinking of the following:

Whip up Old House Baked Eggs (recipe HERE)  the night before and pop them in the oven in the morning.
Make these Cinnamon Rolls (recipe HERE) and bake them in the morning.  Cut up some fruit; cantaloupe, and serve with strawberries, grapes, and orange wedges.  Serve along with chunk cheese and crackers.  Bake some bacon (how I do it HERE) the night before and zap it in the microwave to warm it up.  And maybe...just maybe make ahead some Sausage Gravy and Biscuits (recipes HERE).  My revised plan is to (perhaps) nibble on some fruit and cheese while we do stockings and read from Luke, then have our big breakfast/brunch?, unwrap gifts and then...

In lieu of a large lunch/dinner (that we usually have) we'd have some sort of soup, stew or chili in the crock pot.  But...I really want something different.  I serve chili, chicken (or turkey) and rice soup a lot, so I'd like for it to be something different. has to be gluten free for my mom.  I like for her to eat what we eat on our special holidays so she doesn't feel like she's missing out (I know...she'll miss out on the rolls, but she can eat everything else for breakfast/brunch and she doesn't like rolls anyway.).  So...I need your help ladies!  Have any ideas for me?  (I posted this question on Facebook a while ago but I'd still like some more ideas!) 

I haven't forgotten about the book review here...Lynn shares a story about a goose being cooked for Christmas dinner as well as a few recipes.  I'll end with the verse she shares...

- - -

"In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.  But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'" 
Luke 2:8-11

December 13, 2011

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: On Hand Munchies

I have come to learn what is expected of my kitchen this time of year...
Munchies.  On hand.  All the time.
Here are my go-to's.

Block cheese cut up and in a container in the fridge.  Some of our favorites are havarti, colby-jack, pepper jack, and cheddar.

* * *

Crackers to pair with the cheese. We love the Keebler Club crackers and Triscuit Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil! I start stocking up on those earlier in the month knowing that they will be devoured along with that cheese!

* * *

Summer sausage...once in a while that's a requirement to go with the cheese and crackers.

* * *

Cookie dough.  Lots of it!  I'll make large batches of cookie dough and put them in reusable ice cream buckets and keep them in the freezer.  When we want a dozen (or four) we'll take out our bucket and bake away.  Our favorites are Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookie, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie, and Sugar Cookie.

* * *

Popcorn!  Whether you like to microwave it, pop it over the stove or in an air popper you can't have Charlie Brown Christmas special or any other Christmas show without popcorn!  Oh and peanuts or cashews to go along with it and a few cookies!  (Oh I am making myself hungry!)

* * *

Fun beverages are a must during the holidays.  Hot cocoa packets are nice to keep in a basket on the counter.  I have Spiced Chai on hand year round, but this time of year it's a must! Add a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon for an extra special treat!  Spiced Cider is fun, too, for an extra special treat!

What are some of your favorite go-to munchies during the holiday season?

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December 12, 2011

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: More Christmas Kitchen Decor Ideas

**I'm reposting this again because I've added it to the Holiday Barn Hop
I shared several ideas last week from Gooseberry Patch.  There were just so many that I loved that I
thought I'd share a few more with you!

Use a colorful quilt or length of red homespun as a holiday tablecloth.

* * *

Create a tree skirt to treasure.  Lightly brush your children's hands with water-soluble paint and have them gently press their handprints onto a length of unbleached muslin.  Use a permanent marker to add their names and the year.  Tiny baby hand and foot prints would be darling, too!

* * *

Nestle a small artificial evergreen in an empty flour sack...perfect for the kitchen!

* * *

String cranberries onto florist's wire, then shape into a heart or star.

* * *

(This idea is mine...)
Use cookie cutters to decorate your kitchen!  Loop ribbon through and tie in a bow.  Hang from chandeliers, window panes, knobs of cupboards.  Or just pile them in a beautiful basket and make it a centerpiece for the counter!

Share these tips with friends on Facebook by clicking "Like" below.

Great Holiday Barn Hop

Old House Kitchen Christmas Favorites: Crock Pot Mac-n-Cheese

With a new baby in our midst we are trying to soak up as much cuddling time as we can so I thought it would be fun to share our family's favorite Christmas recipes!  Enjoy!
This is a much requested dish at a pot-luck, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Easter dinners, and any other time my family has a hankering for it!  

Crock Pot Mac & Cheese

16-oz. pkg. elbow macaroni, cooked
12-oz. can evaporated milk
10.5-oz. can cream of chicken soup
2 c. sharp cheddar cheese shredded
2 c. five cheese blend shredded (or mozzarella)
2 c. co-jack cheese shredded
1 - 2 sticks of butter, melted
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a slightly greased slow cooker. Cover and cook on low setting for 3 to 4 hours. Makes 12-16 servings.

December 10, 2011

Holiday Fun in the Kitchen!

While the men of the house went out to hunt and gather a tree last weekend (insert Tim Taylor grunt here) the ladies of the house stayed home and made goodies while watching "Little Women".  Here's the fun that ensued!  (By the way, I gave my oldest son his camera to snap pictures of their adventures.  He came back with lots of fun stories but no pictures.  *sigh*)

First off Hannah made Cracker Cookies (recipe HERE).  She used butterscotch chips.  They were good and tasted a bit like caramel corn, but the chips didn't melt.  I think they were a bit on the old side.  Bummer.  But I have made them with milk chocolate chips (that melted, by the way) and they were deeeelish!

Next Rebekah and Hannah made Oreo Truffles (recipe below).  They were so yummy!  I think we might make some this next week with peppermint Oreos!  Super yummy!

Then Lydia and Abby helped make Peanut Butter Balls (recipe HERE).  (Which my gluten free mom really enjoyed!  I think I'll make a batch of these for her stocking.  Shh...don't tell her, though!)

Then, keeping with our sugar cookie decorating tradition Rebekah whipped up some sugar cookies using a mix (we were getting tired so we were thankful we had a mix on hand!).  She and I tag-teamed this adventure.  When the men were home and we were done with dinner we decorate our cookies.  

- - - - -

Oreo Truffles  (from

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 pkg.  (16.6 oz.) OREO Cookies, finely crushed (about 4-1/4 cups), divided
2 pkg. (8 squares each) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted
MIX cream cheese and 3 cups cookie crumbs until well blended.
SHAPE into 48 (1-inch) balls. Dip in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.
REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator. 


December 9, 2011

Old House Kitchen Christmas Favorites: Sugar Cookies and Frosting

With a new baby in our midst we are trying to soak up as much cuddling time as we can so I thought it would be fun to share our family's favorite Christmas recipes!  Enjoy!
Every year around this time we send the "men" (hubby and all the boys) out to cut a Christmas tree.  The "ladies" (my mom, myself, and the girls) stay home and bake sugar cookies.  Some years we bake them from scratch, some years we buy a boxed cookie mix.  This recipe is our favorite to make them from scratch!  The frosting recipe is also a family favorite passed on to us by a dear friend.  Can't wait to taste those yummy, fresh baked cookies!  Of course we'll decorate them with cinnamon candies, sprinkles, jimmies, and icing!
Sugar Cookies

2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
1/2 c. butter (room temp.)
1 egg
1/2 c. shortening
1 c. granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 T. milk (room temp.)

Sift together flour, soda and salt.  Set aside.  Cream together butter, shortening, sugar and vanilla.  Add egg.  Mix until fluffy.  Stir in dry ingredients until smooth.  Blend in milk.

Drop by teaspoonful onto greased cookie sheets.  Flatten with bottom of glass which has been dipped in sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Cool and if you desire frost with frosting and any sugars or sprinkles you like.  


1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter 
2 t. vanilla flavoring
2 pounds Confectioners sugar

Beat the first three ingredients well then slowly add the sugar.  I used my KitchenAid Stand Mixer.  Add a little bit of milk at a time.  Just enough until it's to the right consistency.  Sorry it's not specific, but some things in the kitchen you just need to eyeball!  The secret to fluffy bakery-like frosting is to beat it enough so you don't have a grainy texture. 

December 7, 2011

Preparing for the Holidays: "Slow Down"

A long time ago (not that long ago, but it seems that way for me) I did a series featuring the book Queen of the Castle.  I thought since baby is here (I'm scheduling these posts out) that I'd recap the holiday part of the book.  So every Wednesday you'll get some great tips on prepping your heart and home for the holidays.
*  *  *

This week's chapter in Queen of the Castle is titled "Slow Down".  Lynn, the author, suggests "slowing down this Christmas.  Slow it down by praying over which Christmas activities we should participate in."  No matter how much we try to prepare things get crazy and busy and crazy-busy!  As you can imagine with a new baby and the Christmas approaching I'm in the middle of crazy-busy right now!

Here are some suggestions from Lynn to "Slow it Down!"

*Spend a few minutes outside, bundled up against the cold.

*Make Christmas music as a family.  If anyone plays an instrument (even badly), bring it out.  Sing some carols.

*Work on a holiday jigsaw puzzle.

*Pull out holiday videos or photos from years past and reminisce.

*If you happen to be awake between 1 and 3 a.m. on December 12, check out the meteors in the night sky.  Look south to see the Geminid shower of fifty to eighty meteors per hour. (I read that the 14th is peak for this.)

*Stare into the fire and spend some silent, thankful moments thinking about all God has done for you.

- - -

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."  
Isaiah 41:10

December 4, 2011

December Menu Plan

It's a few days late, but better a bit late than never, right?  I've had it on my desk in handwritten form for a week or so, but time slips away with a new little one to care for, children to school, crafts to make for Christmas, and all the other Holiday activities that take up time.  Enjoy!

December Menu Plan

December 3, 2011

Old House Kitchen Christmas Favorites: Seven Layer Salad

With a new baby in our midst we are trying to soak up as much cuddling time as we can so I thought it would be fun to share our family's favorite Christmas recipes!  Enjoy!

We're going to a Christmas party this evening so I'm taking this salad.  It's so yummy.  Enjoy!
Seven Layer Salad

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

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

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

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

December 2, 2011

Homemade Gift Ideas

When I sat down last month to tally my list of who needed gifts I found the list kept getting longer and longer.  And I wasn't even talking about my immediate family!  There are neighbors, friends, the post man, garbage man, various teachers, etc. who need a little something special for Christmas.  I know some of them may get paid by you already, but it's such a nice gesture to give a little something for Christmas.  The best thing to give are consumables!  Consumables are something that won't be setting around their home or office collecting dust!  They are things they will use (consume) and enjoy!  Here are a few suggestions...

*Gift mixes    Spiced chai!  (You all saw that one coming, didn't you? *wink*)  One batch can fill 5-6 half pint sized canning jars.  Simply trace a circle of pretty paper with the canning jar lid and place it on the lid, then cover the lid with the band.  Tie a ribbon around it, attach a gift tag and voila!  If you don't have extra canning jars and don't want to spend the money to buy them put the mix in a baggie and put it in a decorative bag.  Better yet, buy a package of brown or white paper lunch sacks.  Rubber stamp with a pretty Christmas design, trim the top with some decorative paper scissors, fold over the top, punch two holes at the top about 1/2 inch apart and pull ribbon through.  Tie a bow and you're all set!

Make up batches of Taco Mix, Chili Mix or find any recipe that uses herbs and such and make up a mix.  Don't forget to add the recipe!  You can use snack size baggies or buy food safe cellophane bags to package those.  Put them in smaller lunch bags and decorate the same as above.

*Cookies  Have a family baking day and mix up several batches of cookies.  Package them up in paper bags like the mixes above or buy inexpensive tins to package them in.  Some of our favorites include: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Cake Mix Cookies, and Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookie.

*Other Treats   Cookies are fun, but it's also nice to include some fun treats.  Like Chocolatey Oat Bars, Peanut Butter Balls, Spiced Pumpkin Fudge, and Cracker Cookies.  There are other  yummy recipes on the Miscellaneous Dessert page that would be fun to give, too. 

*Soap  Handmade soaps are a wonderful gift to give!  You have to make at least 2-3 weeks in advance so the soap has time to cure, but that will be all the more time you have to enjoy the holidays because you're not busy making gifts on the 23rd to pass out on the 24th!  Here's my tutorial on making hand made soap HERE.  Or you can make it easy on yourself and order it at my Etsy site HERE.

There are endless possibilities for small, inexpensive gift ideas!  Learn how to do a craft and give those for Christmas!  If you're a bit behind already this year maybe make a goal to make your own gifts next year! 

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December 1, 2011

One Month Old!

Seems like just yesterday little man was born!  I can't believe he's one month old already!  I can't believe Christmas is 24 days away!  Phew!  Time sure flies when you're having fun!  My mom, a few kiddos, and I did a little photo shoot today and thought you might enjoy some picture updates of the little bundle of cuteness! 

Happy December, everyone!

November 30, 2011

Preparing for the Holidays: "Christmas is Here! Last-Minute Ideas"

A long time ago (not that long ago, but it seems that way for me) I did a series featuring the book Queen of the Castle.  I thought since baby is here (I'm scheduling these posts out) that I'd recap the holiday part of the book.  So every Wednesday you'll get some great tips on prepping your heart and home for the holidays.
*  *  *

This week's chapter in Queen of the Castle is titled "Christmas is Here! Last-Minute Ideas".  Author Lynn Bowen Walker shares a few fun stories about past gingerbread house bombs.  She lets us in on a little secret -- graham crackers!  Our family has never made gingerbread houses. I don't even go there.  I know my limits.  Instead we have a blast rolling, cutting and decorating sugar cookies.  A few years in a row we made gingerbread cookies until I wised up and realized that no one...not. a. one.  likes gingerbread. Well except me, but I really don't need to eat 4 dozen gingerbread men, women, and children.  So we decided to make sugar cookie cut-outs from scratch.  It was back-breaking mixing and rolling, etc., so I've had yet another realization that we will decorate cut-out cookies we use good 'ol Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix from now on.  It makes the process ten times easier. Yes, I love home made sugar cookies but if you want someone other than Oscar the Grouch in the kitchen then try the mix.  It's o.k., really.  *wink*

Now, if you really are planning on gingerbread houses, Lynn suggests the following essentials:  graham crackers, tubs of white frosting (you'll need glue of some sort!), and lots of decorations such as M&M's, jelly beans, chocolate chips, Tootsie Rolls, gumdrops, Life Savers, Tic Tacs, mini marshmallows.  There are a gazillion possibilities!

Lynn also suggests a cookie swap for some baking variety in your home.  I've always thought that was a great idea!  I may have to do that some time...

Lynn also suggests to start thinking about inexpensive gifts for babysitters, teachers, neighbors, etc.  Hand made gifts are great and I personally think consumable gifts are the best.  Jams, jellies, cookies, breads, treats, soaps, bath salts, etc. are great!  It's something someone will use...if not the receiver of the gift then certainly someone in their home.  Check out my soaps for sale on my etsy site HERE.

Lynn shares a few reminders of things that need to be done and soon!

*Mail Christmas packages

*Put card writing into high gear

*Wrap gifts as you purchase them. Save receipts in one place.  (I've got a lot of shopping done, but none wrapped.  I need to get on that soon!  Or I'll end up being a night owl a few days before Christmas...we don't want that!)

*Make wrapping paper.  Use brown paper bags, old Christmas cards, etc.  (Since early fall we've been asking for brown paper bags...a few rubber stamps and ink and there ya go!)

*Wrap gifts with oversized artwork your kids may have made at school.

*Start Advent wreaths or calendars.  (My tutorial is HERE and they are for sale HERE... just sayin' *wink*)

*Buy extra nylons if you're attending any dress-up holiday parties.  (Tights for your little girls, too!)

*Make sure the kiddos have appropriate clothes for whatever outings you have planned.  (If everyone but little Lucy has a Christmas shirt she'll feel a little left out...better make a list and check it twice!)

*Plan Christmas menus.  (I plan on posting my December menu here soon...and a Christmas menu post, too!)

*Get kids to help decorate.  (This year everyone helped!  This is our Thanksgiving weekend tradition!)

Enjoy the next month or so of activities...
soak it all in and enjoy it with your family like it was your 
first and your last Christmas. 

- - -

"So Jesus said to the twelve, 'You do not want to go away also, do you?' 
Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.
We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.'"  
John 6:67-69

November 29, 2011

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Christmas Kitchen Decor

Since a lot of you have begun or have already begun to decorate for Christmas this week's tip ( are several that I love!) is from Gooseberry Patch's Farmhouse Christmas Cookbook.

Homemade shortbread cookies tied with colorful ribbon look beautiful hanging in your windowpanes.

* * *
Dress up your holiday table for winter...use whimsical mittens to hold your napkins and silverware and lay woolen scarves across the table to serve as placemats.  Enamelware plates and cups add a rustic charm.

* * *

A muffin tin filled with votives, tea lights tucked into pudding molds and candles hidden inside an old-fashioned grater make a wonderful tabletop display.  Add some gingerbread men, fragrant evergreen boughs and vintage kitchen utensils.

* * *

String small nutmeg graters on a set of white lights for your kitchen garland!

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November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday Sale!

Enjoy 11% off today only at my Etsy Shop with coupon code CYBERMONDAY.  Go HERE now!!

November 25, 2011

Turkey Leftovers!

I love a turkey dinner left over once in a while, but after a day or so it gets a little old.  Am I right?  Here's a lovely way (and reposted recipe by the way) to use up some left over turkey that won't make your family groan when they come to the table.

Turkey and Rice Soup

16 cups turkey or chicken stock *
3-4 cups chopped turkey (or chicken)
4 carrots, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups brown rice (uncooked)
1/2 cup dried parsley
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
a sprinkling of rosemary (about 1/2 tsp)
a sprinkling of thyme  (about 1/2 tsp)

Combine ingredients in a very large crock pot (I use a 6.5 Qt.) and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5-6.

*If I don't have stock on hand I'll use a few cans of chicken broth and then either chicken bouillon granules (follow the directions on the jar for adequate measurement) or chicken base (usually 1 tsp. per 1 cup of hot water) to make up the difference.  Chicken base comes in a jar, is thick and creamy in texture and is cheaper per ounce than bouillon granules.  I'm not a big fan of the cubes.  All that unwrapping puts a cramp on my cooking time.  The downside is that the chicken base makes a greasier soup.

photo credit

November 23, 2011

Preparing for the Holidays: "Thanksgiving, Part 2"

A long time ago (not that long ago, but it seems that way for me) I did a series featuring the book Queen of the Castle.  I thought since baby is here (I'm scheduling these posts out) that I'd recap the holiday part of the book.  So every Wednesday you'll get some great tips on prepping your heart and home for the holidays.

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

Lynn shares a few ideas to promote thankfulness:

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

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

*Read aloud a favorite psalm before dinner.

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

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

November 22, 2011

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Turkey Broth Tip

Put a slow cooker to work turning the leftovers of the holiday bird into flavorful broth for soup. 

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

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November 21, 2011

Old House Kitchen Christmas Favorites: Cinnamon Rolls

With a new baby in our midst we are trying to soak up as much cuddling time as we can so I thought it would be fun to share our family's favorite Christmas recipes!  Enjoy!

Cinnamon Rolls

1 T. dry yeast
1 C. warm milk
1/3 C. white sugar
1/2 C. melted butter
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
4 C. flour
Dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Knead into a ball. Let rise until double in size. When ready, roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. Spread with filling.

1/4 C. butter, softened
1 C. brown sugar
3 T. cinnamon

Spread butter on dough evenly. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over dough evenly. Roll dough up. Slice roll into 1 inch slices. Place on a greased pan. Let rise again until doubled. bake 10 min. at 400 degrees.

1/2 C. butter, softened
1 1/2 C. powdered sugar
1 oz. cream cheese
2 T. whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Beat until fluffy. When rolls are hot, spread lots of icing on them.

If baking in the morning make the dough, let rise, then make the rolls.  Instead of letting them rise again, just wrap them up and put in the fridge.  The next morning put them in the oven while it's preheating.  When the oven is preheated start the timer.   Makes a 9x13 pan...about 16-18 scrumptious rolls!    


November 18, 2011


With a new baby in our midst we are trying to soak up as much cuddling time as we can so I thought it would be fun to share our family's favorite Christmas recipes!  Enjoy!

Pie Filling Recipes

Baking a pie is pretty easy, really. You have to have the right crust recipe (Sour Cream Pie Crust from Monday's post!) and a great filling. We have a cherry tree in our yard so cherry pie is easy to come by at our house. We package several quart bags for the freezer for cherry crisp, cherry pie, etc. We go blueberry picking each summer to stock our freezer with yummy local grown blueberries. We purchase peaches from a local Amish stand or if the prices at the grocer are really good, then we go there. Point being that making your own fruit pie filling is pretty easy and good for you, too!

Combine together the following ingredients for each kind of pie:

Apple Pie Filling = 6 cups apples (peeled, cored, and thinly sliced), 3/4 cup sugar, 1 T flour

Blueberry Pie Filling = 4 cups blueberries, 3/4 cup sugar, 3 T flour

Cherry Pie Filling = 4 cups cherries (tart and pitted), 1 1/4 cups sugar, 1/4 cup flour

Peach Pie Filling = 6 cups peaches (peeled, pitted and thinly sliced), 3/4 cup sugar, 3 T flour

Apples 1 medium = 1 cup sliced
Peaches 1 medium = 1/2 cup sliced

November 17, 2011

Samuel Thomas -- 2 weeks

This post isn't a recipe by any means, but equally scrumptious (in my opinion, anyway!).  My mom and I had fun snapping a few pictures the other day.  Enjoy!

 My dear friend Kelly made this lovely little pumpkin hat for him.
 Isn't he cute?!
I love this one!

Scrumptious, I tell ya!

November 16, 2011

Preparing for the Holidays: "Thanksgiving, Part 1"

A long time ago (not that long ago, but it seems that way for me) I did a series featuring the book Queen of the Castle.  I thought since baby is here (I'm scheduling these posts out) that I'd recap the holiday part of the book.  So every Wednesday you'll get some great tips on prepping your heart and home for the holidays.
*  *  *

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

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

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

Lynn shares three quick ideas to fancy up your table:

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

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

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

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

November 15, 2011

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: One Dish Meals

A while back a dear friend had just had her fourth baby and requested I share some one dish meals with her. I posted this then and thought it was appropriate for our family with the arrival of blessing number eight. I thought you all might be able to use the recommendations as well.  A lot of my meals can be made into one dish meals.  I'll list the link with the name so just click on the name of the dish to take you to the recipe.  I'll also share any ideas that I have to go with those recipes.

Simple Roast  To go along with this you can put some red potatoes and green beans in the crock pot with it.

Creamy Chicken and Stuffing  Add some raw green beans to the crock pot in with the chicken.  Make some of these (Smashed Potatoes) to go along with it.  Use this tip for the potatoes.

Cheesy Hashbrown Potatoes  Like it says in the post, add chopped up ham or chicken to make it a main dish.  Steam some veggies and you have a meal!

Easy Cheesy Bean Dip  Stir in some ground beef and serve with Mexican rice, beans, sour cream and salsa (use some good veggie filled salsa!) and you have a meal!

Chicken Pot Pie is great all by itself!  It takes a bit of work, but if you make a few at one time, eat one and freeze the rest you are all set for a few more meals!

Easy Peasy Chops This dish is a another one where you can do the smashed potatoes (see above) and steam some veggies and you're all set.

Creamy Chicken and Noodle Casserole  Add some cooked mixed veggies to this and you have a one meal dish!  Serve with some yummy rolls!

Chicken Burritoes You can make a few batches of these, bake them and then freeze the leftovers for another meal!  Serve with rice, beans, salsa and sour cream.

Rigatoni Casserole This dish has meat, veggies (assuming you use a good sauce), carbs (*smile*)...the total package!  Pop some garlic bread in the oven and you're all set!

Chili Serve with crackers and corn bread!

Chicken Tetrazzini Again, like the chicken and noodles...add veggies!  Serve with bread!

Duggar's Taco Soup

Easy Beef and Noodles  Serve with rolls!

Pioneer Beef Stew  Serve with rolls!  (Do you see a bread trend here? LOL!)

I hope those help!  I'm searching for some more great crock-pot one dish meals for our family since we have a few more busy days this fall.  I have a Gooseberry Patch cookbook that I'm perusing now!

Like these one-dish ideas?  Click the "Like" button below to share them with friends on Facebook!

November 14, 2011

Old House Kitchen Christmas Favorites: Sour Cream Pie Crust

With a new baby in our midst we are trying to soak up as much cuddling time as we can so I thought it would be fun to share our family's favorite Christmas recipes!  Enjoy!
This is the best pie crust ever!  You can mix this crust by hand or blitz it in the food processor!

Sour Cream Pie Crust

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 3/4 cups cold unsalted butter, cut up
2/3 cups ice cold water
2 T. sour cream
1 tsp. vinegar

In a very large bowl combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.  Cut in butter leaving pea sized chunks.

In a 2 cup glass measuring cup whisk water, sour cream, and vinegar; pour, all at once into flour mixture, and quickly distribute then Stop!!  (that's what it says...Stop!)

Make sure dough is slightly crumbly.  Divide dough mixture into 3 equal portions (about 12-13 oz. each).  Refrigerate for 2 hours. (You can keep it in the fridge over night if you like.)  DO NOT OVERMIX.  You're going to finish the dough by hand.  The finished dough should break, not stretch.

Gently knead the dough in a bag to bring dough together.  Form into discs.  (This makes three single pie crusts.)

Use at once or wrap and store in the fridge for a few days or freeze for up to 1 month.  Thaw overnight in the fridge if you froze it.

Coming Friday...pie filling recipes!

November 13, 2011

Gooseberry Patch Giveaway Winner!

Congrats to "Life, Family, and Food" who won the Gooseberry Patch Christmas Planner and Merry Mixes book giveaway!   I have sent you an email with details.

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Thanks so much for all who entered! 
Be on the lookout for another giveaway soon!  And don't forget when we get to 1000 Facebook fans by Christmas we'll have a really nice giveaway!

November 11, 2011

Old House Kitchen Christmas Favorites: Ollie Kookins

With a new baby in our midst we are trying to soak up as much cuddling time as we can so I thought it would be fun to share our family's favorite Christmas recipes!  Enjoy!

"Ollie what?" you say? Well you'd have to have known my grandma. She and grandpa owned a cottage on a lake in northern Michigan. Whenever we'd go there Grandma had some of her famous (well, famous with our family, anyway!) Ollie Kookins (pronounced oh-lee kook-ens) ready and waiting for me --er, I mean us! I kick myself for not writing this recipe down anywhere...grr!! But when you're young and enjoying life, you don't think about grandma not being there anymore to bake for you. So this is the closest I could find to a recipe (with a few tweaks).

We enjoy this fried up treat this time of year as well as all year long.  We'll probably be whipping some up this weekend!

Ollie Kookins

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. warm water
2 1/4 c. flour (I use unbleached all purpose)
1 1/2 c. raisins
1 c. warm milk (100-110 degrees)
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
oil (in a deep fryer)
1 c. powdered sugar

Dissolve yeast with one teaspoon sugar and water -- let it sit for about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the next 8 ingredients until well blended; add yeast mixture. Cover and let rise for one hour. Drop 2 tablespoonfuls of dough into hot oil in a deep fryer; fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Roll in powdered sugar. Serve immediately for the best of yummyness! Microwave to reheat. Makes about 2 dozen.

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Don't forget to enter the Gooseberry Patch 
Christmas Organizer and Merry Mixes Giveaway!
Ends tomorrow at midnight (EST)!

November 10, 2011

Advent Garland Giveaway!

This is a repost with a twist!  Brandy, over at Love to Learn is hosting a giveaway!  The prize?  One of my Advent Garland sets!  Read on for directions but be sure to stop by Brandy's and enter!  Giveaway ends at noon on Nov. 16th.

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

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

I cut the top of 25 bags with scalloped decorative scissors.

(I know some families start Advent right after Thanksgiving but we start

Dec. 1st...that's just the way we've done it. If you want to start the last Sunday of November then adjust accordingly but if you purchase my set it will be with numbers 1 to 25.)

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

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

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

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

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

(We have eight children...if you have two kiddos then use two treats.)

Place a Scripture reading slip in each bag (make sure you put the right number in the proper bag).

You can download mine and print below.

Advent Scripture Reading

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

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

Make this yourself or purchase it HERE!
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