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?

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


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! 

Like these gift ideas?  Share them with friends on Facebook by clicking "Like".

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!

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