Thursday, November 17, 2011

Preparing for Thanksgiving

“But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV)

Are you anxious with Thanksgiving right around the corner? Don't be! Make your list of things that need to be done and do them in a timely manner so that you aren't stressed over Thanksgiving. This is especially important if you are preparing for a large number of family members. Here are some tips to add to your list to make things go smoother.

Turkey tips: If buying a whole turkey you need 1 pound per person. For a boneless breast plan 1/2 LB per person. Thawing: Frozen turkey needs 1 day in the fridge for every 4 refrigerate a 12 LB turkey for 3 days. Basting: It can help the turkey brown evenly but the opening of the oven door can prolong baking time. A better way to keep it juicy is to pour some warmed broth over the carved slices.

Bread: Make the dough for your bread or rolls at the first part of the week. Allow the dough to rise fully once, shape it, wrap it well in freezer-safe plastic wrap or foil and freeze. When ready to bake, thaw the dough in the refrigerator. This will
usually take at least a few hours or overnight. Set it in a warm place and give it its second rise and bake.
If you have a bread machine use it to mix the dough. Bake the bread the night before the big day and refresh it in a 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for 10 minutes just before serving.
Want to make your guests feel special? Set a vase of Sunflowers in their room! They are a touch of fall, freshness, & color to their room.

Having a Woodwick Pumpkin Candle will add a fall scent as well, getting your guests in the mood for a fabulous holiday!

Remember that you don't have get stressed out for your Thanksgiving Dinner to be a huge success. Plan what to do each day leading up to the big day, enjoy your friends & family during this time counting your many blessings that God has given you.

Enjoy your week with those you love~

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

You make it look so easy...

Well, that is what a friend told me this week. She asked me how I did all that I did and make it look so easy. Some days, I think, "It is anything but easy", but I did share some tips with her that seem to help out. I look at staying at home, my job. And just like any job you have hours that you work, tasks that have to be done, and projects that need to be seen to. My job just happens to be taking care of a house, husband, & 3 children. Everything that needs to be tended to gets put on my calendar, if it isn't on my calendar it is not a high priority.

When school starts, I take my calendar and put the school year on it. Because I am VP of our Elementary PTO, those meetings & events are added, so is Dance, Piano, Guitar, & any other child function that comes up. Yes, I even have a day set aside for our date night... If I didn't it would get overlooked & let's face it, we need to keep an intimate relationship with our husbands. They need to feel important in your life too.

Our children have 2 chores a day, they are alternated so that they never have the same chore every day. They are: Unload the dishwasher, Set the Table, Clear the Table, Gather clothes & put in Laundry room, Clean their Bathroom, Feed & Water the Pets. They do have to keep their rooms cleaned, but I don't consider that a chore, it is to build self respect & self pride. The rest of the house is mine! These chores I do with a timer... Yes a timer. I set it for 15 minutes and do NOTHING at all in that 15 minutes but the targeted area. If the phone rings, the machine gets it. It doesn't sound like a lot of time, but you would be surprised how long it really is. When the timer goes off, return phone calls, start supper, read your bible, etc. Once you get in the habit of this trick, you will find that you can get your housework done in less than 2 hours. That is everything, laundry, sweeping/mopping,dusting,bathroom, etc. Then you have the rest of your time to work at the school, scrapbook, paint, etc.

So last week I added some fun to my schedule & now on Saturday Nights I paint. It is a fun adult time event. Two hours with other Christian women that allows our creative minds to expand. This was our first painting! I can't wait until this weekend!

So what is on the schedule for the rest of the week? Wednesday: 2 loads of clothes, grocery shopping, my nails/toes done, make bread for supper tomorrow night at Church, clean the downstairs. Thursday: 2 loads of clothes, clean the upstairs, pinestraw in my flower beds. Friday: 2 loads of clothes, Dust, sweep & mop (touch up cleaning), date night. Saturday: Family time & Paint, Start defrosting the Turkey for Thanksgiving. Sunday: Church. Friday marks the beginning of Thanksgiving Break~we have fun plans for the week the kids are out of school. Movies on Monday, Making Christmas Presents on Tuesday, with Cooking & Baking on Wednesday prepping for 20 for our Thanksgiving Table. Fun filled days when they are out of school~got to love it!!!
So my morning starts with Bible study, prep/cook breakfast, wake the kids up for school. I start my first load of clothes before they leave. Once they leave, on the eliptic machine, second load of laundry. Around 9 I start my household cleaning and done by 11.
So see we all have the same 24 hours in the day, we just have different ways that we manage it. Work out a schedule that will accommodate your schedule and see how smoother your day can go. You will love the extra time to go walking enjoying the beauty that God made, find that time you wished you had for the gym, or to have lunch with your girl friends, volunteer at the school, volunteer at your local food bank, visit local nursing homes for the residents that never get visits, or anything else. Enjoy the added time you find~you will love it.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Recipes~Pumpkin Themed

Just a few ideas for your upcoming Thanksgiving Dinner. Or any event this month!


1 tsp grated orange zest
3 cups powdered sugar
15 oz can pure pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup sour cream, room temp
1/2 cup molasses
3 large eggs
1 cup + 6 tbs unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp baking powder
3 cups all purpose flour

HEAT oven to 350°. Line two 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners. In a bowl, whisk together ginger, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cloves and salt. Beat 1 cup butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Beat in pumpkin and molasses. ADD flour mixture, mixing until incorporated. Divide batter among muffin cups and bake until done, 25 min. Let cool 5 min. in pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. MAKE FROSTING---Beat powdered sugar, sour cream and remaining butter in a bowl until smooth. Increase speed and beat until fluffy. Stir in orange zest. Refrigerate frosting until stiff and spreadable, 1 hour. Frost cupcakes just before SERVING


1 cup heavy cream
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla
15 oz can pure pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup + 6 tbs maple syrup
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tbs sugar

IN A FOOD PROCESSOR, combine sugar, flour and 1/4 tsp salt. Add butter and pulse to form coarse crumbs. Add 2 tbs cold water, pulsing until dough begins to come together. Transfer dough to a piece of plastic wrap, shape into a 1" thick disk. Wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.

HEAT oven to 350°. On a floured surface, roll dough into a 12" circle. Fit it into bottom and up sides of a 9" pie plate, trim overhang 1/2" from the edge of the rim. Fold overhang under itself and crimp as desired. Refrigerate until ready to fill.
IN A BOWL, combine brown sugar, eggs, milk, pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon and remaining salt. Transfer to crust and bake until filling is set in the center and crust is golden brown, 65 min. Let cool. 10 min. before serving, beat remaining cream and 6 tbs maple syrup until soft peaks form. SERVE with pie

Monday, October 31, 2011

Holiday Time

I love this time of year~the decorating, the cooking, the baking, the smells of the season; but most of all the family time. Keeping to my schedule is important this time of year so that it doesn't become overwhelming. November is filled with decorations of Pumpkins, Scarecrows, fall leaves, pinecones, & Sunflowers; not to mention fall scented candles. Time to get the fireplace ready for the cool nights to enjoy home-made hot chocolate with marshmellows while having family night.

The kids will have a week off for Thanksgiving which means that we will have time set aside to keep up with their reading level but most of the time home will be spent preparing for Thanksgiving & out of town family arriving. The house will be filled with smells of fall, football, men hunting, & children laughing. Many times Thanksgiving is the only time of year that many think about what they are Thankful for. I try to emphisis to our kids that Thanksgiving is everyday of the year. So many get so busy during this time of year, that they don't have time to enjoy any of it~a missed blessing.

In the previous post I spoke about my "Tackle Box", this is a great way to keep up with what needs to be done so that nothing gets over looked. Once it becomes a habit it is easy to stick to it. Another trick I use to help stay on track is working non-stop for 15 minutes on a project. Use a timer and work on a project for 15 minutes; don't answer the phone~that's what the machine is for; don't go get something to eat or drink~it can wait until you are done. It's just 15 minutes! So what do I use this technique for? Everything! House cleaning, work projects, PTO project planning, etc. Did you know that working 15 minutes twice a day on household chores can keep your house clean all the time? I work 15 minutes down stairs & 15 minutes Upstair~this is dusting, sweeping, mopping, cleaning the bathrooms, dishes, & laundry! Eliminate stress from your life by implementing this small idea to your daily routine. You will have more time for your family, to work out, work on your hobbies, read your bible, start a new hobby,etc.

Let me know how it is working for you after your first week!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

November is here!

Yea! I love this time of year. Leaves changing colors, smell of pumpkin pies, cool mornings with sunny afternoons. November is often known to the men as No Shave November & to the Women as Thankful Month were you take each day and say what you are Thankful for. There are so many God Winks that we can be Thankful for. Everday that God awakens us is a day of Thanksgiving. Don't you agree?

Let's get in the kitchen for some fun... here are some great recipes that you can do as a family event.

STREUSEL PEAR TART Makes 8 servings.

4 tbs unsalted butter, cut into 1/4" pieces
3/4 tsp apple pie spice
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 pkg 14 oz refrigerated piecrust, 1 crust
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup + 2 tbs flour
6 pears

Unroll piecrust into a 10" fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press crust against the bottom and sides of pan, trimming top as needed so it is even with rim. Refrigerate. Heat oven to 425°. Peel, core and cut pears into 1/2" thick slices and place in a bowl. In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tbs flour, apple pie spice and salt.
-Toss brown sugar mixture with pears to coat, then spoon into piecrust. In a bowl, stir together remaining brown sugar and flour. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle streusel over pears. Place tart on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 45 min. or until top is browned and pears are tender. SERVE warm

1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
6 tbs unsalted butter, room temp
4 cups puffed corn cereal
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 large egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup almond butter
1 cup sliced almonds

Heat oven to 325°. Spread almonds on a baking sheet and bake 5 min. or until lightly toasted, transfer to a bowl. Wipe baking sheet clean. Beat butter, almond butter, honey, sugar and brown sugar in a bowl until smooth. Beat in egg. Add baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and vanilla and almond extract and beat until combined. Add cereal, chocolate chips and half of the almonds to dough and mix.
-Form tablespoonfuls of dough into 2" balls and arrange on 2 ungreased baking sheets. Do not line baking sheets with parchment paper, the cookies may stick to the paper. Top each with some of the remaining almonds. Bake 12 min. or until cookies spread out and turn brown. Let cookies cool 5 min. on baking sheets, then remove to a rack to cool completely. If you have difficulties removing cookies from baking sheets, return them to oven for 2 min. to soften. The cookies will crisp as they cool, then SERVE
APPLE CIDER FLOATS Makes 2 servings.

In a saucepan, heat 2 cups apple cider with 1 cinnamon stick. Pour cider into 2 glasses. Top each glass with 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream, 1/2 tbs caramel sauce and a grating of nutmeg. SERVE each glass with a spoon

What about changing up your Thanksgiving Dinner Menu with some of these?

Salt and Pepper
2 onions, root ends discarded, then halved with skin on
1 tbs butter, room temp
2 tsp dried thyme
1 lemon, zested and halved
14 pound turkey, rinsed, patted dry

PLACE turkey in a roasting pan. Let turkey come to room temp, 1 hour. In a bowl, mash together butter and lemon zest. Smear butter mixture all over turkey. Squeeze lemon juice over turkey and put lemon halves in cavity. Place 2 onion halves in turkey cavity and the others in pan. Sprinkle thyme, salt and pepper over turkey. 20 min. before roasting, heat oven to 400°.

TIE LEGS of turkey together. Transfer to oven and roast 1 hour, lower temp to 350° and roast 1 hour longer. After second hour baste turkey with pan juices. Continue roasting basting twice until turkey registers 155° on an thermometer, 30 min. longer. Tilt turkey to pour any juices from cavity into pan. Transfer turkey to a carving board, tent with foil and let rest 30 min. before carving, then SERVE


3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup light corn syrup
6 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small pieces + 4 tbs melted
3 cups pecans
1 1/4 cups flour

IN A FOOD PROCESSOR, pulse sugar, flour, 1/2 cup pecans and 1/4 tsp salt until pecans are finely chopped. Add 6 tbs butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 2 tbs cold water, pulsing until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed. Do not over mix. Transfer dough to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a 1" thick disk. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.
HEAT oven to 350°. On floured piece of parchment, roll disk of dough into a 12" circle. Slide onto a baking sheet and refrigerate until slightly firm, 10 min. Fit it into the bottom and up sides of a 9" pie plate. Trim dough so the overhang is even all the way around. Fold overhang under itself to create a thicker rim of dough and crimp as desired. Refrigerate until ready to fill.
IN A BOWL, whisk together corn syrup, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, 4 tbs melted butter and remaining salt. Stir in chocolate chips and remaining pecans. Spoon mixture into crust. Bake 30 min. Cover pie with foil and bake until filling if puffed and center is set, 20 min. more. Transfer pie to a wire rack and let it cool to room temp, then SERVE

I know that the holiday season is busy for everyone. Think of someone you know, maybe they are single or a family that will be spending Thanksgiving alone~invite them to join you and your family for Thanksgiving Dinner.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Where did October GO?

It seems like this month has been a blur. Busy all month with activities in the school with the PTO, Homecoming, football games, dance, piano lessons, Fall Festival at school & one coming up Saturday at church; just a few things that has been keeping me busy. So I am so sorry for not keeping up with this blog. It did get me thinking about a practice that I have gotten out of that I need to put back in place. So I am reimplementing my "tackle box"! I have a file box that has file folders for every day of the month. It is a monthly "To Do" list.

So let's say that you want to start one for November. You will have all your file folders in the "Tackle Box", put all bills that are due on their due date that can be paid locally and those that need to be mailed; 5 days before due date. On November 1 go pull the 1st folder and do everything in that folder first. This will help keep you on track of all the things you need/want to do and won't get behind on the "Oh, that can wait projects," Like a blog.

My menu for Thanksgiving is already in my tackle box. Trying a few new recipes this year for our family dinner so when I am preparing them I will give the recipe and a photo. Yes, Sonya, just for you. As will be my daily "To Do" Lists.

We have a couple of busy months coming up. November is always big in our house with 6 Birthdays & Thanksgiving. I love decorating for the fall, baking pumpkin pies, Spice cakes, cute cookie cutter cookies. The Weekend of Thanksgiving we start our Christmas Baking and Candy Making. We have a great time making cornflake candy, Divinity, Fudge, No bake cookies, as well as the traditional cookies.

So what is on your agenda the rest of your month? Big plans for November yet?
Many Blessings~

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Madness

Do you want to add touches to your house but don't have the funds to buy decorating items? Try some of these cute ideas:

Give 'Em The Boot
Use old rain boots as vases. This lighthearted display is perfect for a spring part such as April Showers bring may flowers. For a southern theme, try cowboy boots instead!

Use pillow cases to update your throw pillows for fall. Simply place your throw pillow in a pillow case folding it into the case for a tight fit. You can change pastel pillows into deep fall colors in a matter of seconds.

To change up a look in a room simply swap out area rugs. It can change a look of a room by bring out accent colors in another room.