Monday, November 29, 2010

The Charlie Brown Christmas Tree of 2010

This past weekend was tree putting up weekend.  We usually do it over Thanksgiving, so Saturday was our day of choice.  For the past 3 years we have had a 6.5ft pre-lit (colored lights) tree.  We have ornaments galore. The girls each have their own box and I even have ornaments from childhood.  However this year I planned to put the larger tree in the living room and put this teeny 4ft tree from our previous, much smaller house in the girls room.

At the after Christmas sales I had gotten several gold decorations at 90% off and decided I would do a mainly gold tree with a little color.  Then I would let the girls put up the little tree in their room with their own ornaments.  This was going to be the last year for the 6.5ft tree.  Since I have 9ft ceilings and my living room is 23 1/2 X 13 I think we can definitely go for a bigger tree.

So we got everything brought up from the basement and got out the living room tree, plugged it up and nothing!  No lights!  So I messed around with the first section, nothing.  Then me and the girls tried fiddling around with the second section,  no flickers, nothing.  This tree was not lighting up.  Seriously.....I was determined I was not buying a new tree until after Christmas.  There was no way I was paying full price.

When we determined we couldn't get it to light up at all we brought out the little bitty Charlie Brown tree.  Of course it lit up so bright it's nearly blinding.  I had to bring up a skinny table to set it on and we decorated it the best we could.

Without the table it wouldn't even be able to be seen out the window.  Oh and I had bought a brand new glass and gold star to go on top of the tree and let's just say this little guy can't hold it up.  :)


Oh well, it's not the end of the world and we actually used this tree for a few years in our last house.  Our living room was teeny and we only had 7ft ceilings.

As for the rest of the decorating...I do not really put out a whole lot of decorations but I have a few things I like to set out around the living room.




This teeny Nativity is actually sitting at the base of the tree.  Jonah bought this for her Daddy one year for Christmas.












This Nativity was given to me by an old friend.  The wood used to make it came from Bethlehem.
















This last Nativity came from my Mom a long time ago.  I can't remember if she got it for me before I was married and I had it in my Hope Chest or if she got it the first year we were married.   Anyway, It is missing several animals.  As soon as Jonah got big enough to play she was always wanting to playing with the animal, toddlers and ceramic animals do not mix.

Even so we put it out every year.  :)


After Christmas is over I will definitely be searching for a new tree.  I would like at least a 7 footer that is fat.  I guess we will have to wait and see.


Do you have your Christmas tree/decorations up yet?

Linked to: The Girl Creative

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Paula Deen's Corn Casserole















For Thanksgiving we had to be at my Aunt's at 5pm for dinner.  I took a side, a dessert and a couple bottles of soda.  I discussed here how our family does a potluck of sorts for Thanksgiving.  Anyway, until thursday evening I had never ever tasted corn casserole before, let alone made it.  I actually had once watched Paula Deen do this recipe on tv and thought it looked delicious.  My version was only changed just slightly.

The original recipe is here on the Food Network website.

  • 2 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (I used Martha's white, it was what I had)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 3/4 cups shredded cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, melted butter and shredded cheese. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.

Because I had a pretty good drive to get to my Aunt's I didn't know how the cheese on top would hold up so I opted to mix the shredded cheese in with all the other ingredients and let it melt inside. I also didn't have creamed corn and this idea was last minute so I made it with just regular corn. 

It came out really good!  It had more of a cornbread texture, probably because it didn't have cream corn, but it was like a loaded cornbread.  Yummy and the pan dissappeared. 

Did you try out a new recipe for Thanksgiving? I would love to hear about it.

Linked to: House of Hepworths

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Roast Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:
8 to 10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup olive oil
4 russet potatoes
2 tbsp. butter
1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated 2 tbsp.
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:
Put the garlic and olive oil in a heavy saucepan over lowest possible heat and simmer until soft; 30 to 40 minutes.
Drain off oil (reserve for marinades or vinaigrettes).
Puree garlic; set aside.
Meanwhile, prick potatoes with a fork and bake in a 400°F oven for 1 hour, or until soft. While still hot, peel and mash, or pass through a potato ricer.
Melt butter in heavy cream; whisk in puréed garlic.
Stir into potatoes.
Stir in cheeses and season with salt and pepper.
Spoon into a gratin dish.
Place in a 400°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until browned and bubbling.

Hoping You all Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving!

Image Source



I am sure that most of you have a very busy day ahead of you, as do we.  I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Boudreaux's Butt Paste

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Boudreaux's Butt Paste. All opinions are 100% mine.

I have a niece who is an extremely sensitive child, not as in her feelings but her skin.  It wasn't that long ago that the child had a serious case of hives that lasted just a little too long.  She endured many doctor visits, had to take steroids and eventually they went away.  Now her mother has to carry an epi-pen every where they go because they never discovered what caused the hives.  However this is not her first run in with serious rashes.

As a baby she would get horrible diaper rashes.  No matter what my sister did such as, changing the diaper immediately as soon as she noticed any wetness or trying numerous creams and powders kept these rashes away.  Finally my sister discovered Boudreaux's Butt Paste and something amazing happened, my nieces rash cleared up.  It is the only thing that could keep her rashes at bay.

Since then everyone in the family knows where to go to find the best diaper rash ointment. Boudreaux's Butt Paste is  Pediatrician recommended.  It goes on and cleans off easily, comes in convenient sizes including a handy travel size.  It has a pleasant scent and treats diaper rash and soothes irritated skin.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients:
2 lbs. sweet potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
2 eggs, beaten 2 oz.
margarine, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. nutmeg and cinnamon

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Will be very soupy.
Bake at 350°F for 1 hour.

How Far are You Traveling for Thanksgiving?

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of NAVTEQ. All opinions are 100% mine.

This Thanksgiving we are heading to my Aunt's home to celebrate. It is about an hour and fifteen minute drive which is not too bad.  I am very thankful that we do not have a long trip to get to our holiday destination because there is enough stress just trying to get prepared for the event.   However I am sure that there are many of you who do have a long trip to make for Thanksgiving.

For those of you heading out on a long drive this week who have an in-dash GPS system stop by the NAVTEQ store before you head out to get a map update .  There is nothing more frustrating than having your GPS system send you down a road that no longer exists because your system is out of date.  I have been in this situation a couple times and it's not at all fun.  No one wants to have to stop and ask for directions or buy a map when you have GPS.  Not to mention that you don't want to show up late, that could mean less food or even missing the game.

I hope that all of you have safe travels this week.  Leave a comment and let us know....how far are you traveling for Thanksgiving?

Visit Sponsor's Site

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Frugal Tip #3: Signing up For Online Freebies



















If you have ever read my other blog then you probably already know that I am a huge proponent of free!  I love freebies, getting things for free with coupons and getting Free Samples by Mail.  Taking just a little time out of my day to search out some freebies has definitely helped to chip away a little more at my budget.

Over the last couple years I have been able to get a lot of free things by clipping coupons, watching the sales, signing up for Free Samples and checking out some great websites.  Sometimes free samples are larger than you expect or come with a coupon.  I have actually received a free sample twice that came with a "Free Product" coupon, now that was pretty cool.

The important thing to remember when searching out the freebies is that time is money so if you are spending all day long to find a few freebies you are not helping yourself at all.  Instead visit a website or two that can keep you updated on what freebies are available at the moment.  For instance FreeCatcher.com has information on free samples by mail, free music, free software, free online games and Free Movies Online.

Also I highly recommend keeping a seperate email account specifically for freebie sign ups.  This will just keep your main inbox from being innundated with offers.

How many of you like to sign up for freebies?

Open Faced Sloppy Cheeseburgers and Homemade Fries
















I actually got this idea from a recipe site and I didn't save the page so now I can't find it.  If and when I do I will link to it.

This was our dinner last night and it was a hit with everyone.

Open Faced Sloppy Cheeseburgers (fed 4 with no leftovers)

1lb Ground Round
1/3 Cup Thick and Chunky Salsa
4 heaping TBS Ketchup
2 heaping TBS Mustard
1 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Garlic Powder


Brown and drain the ground beef.  Add in each of the above ingredients and blend well.  My ingredient amounts differ from the original recipe.  I personally just started adding a little bit of each ingredient until I liked the way it tasted.

Once it was heated through I scooped it over a halved steak roll.  I think sourdough, hamburger buns or your favorite type of roll would work well with this.  Then I added a slice of american cheese on top and put it in the oven to melt.

These were very yummy, everyone in the house scarfed them down! 

Homemade Fries (these are a favorite around here)

I peeled 6 medium potatoes and cut them by hand into fry like slivers.  I sprayed a cookie sheet with canola spray then layered the potatoes on the pan.  Then I lightly sprayed the potatoes with the canola spray and sprinkled garlic powder on them.  I baked them on 400 for about 50 minutes.

This made exactly the right amount of food for our family of 4.  My hubby was able to have 2 sandwiches and the girls and I had 1 each.  The fries were split four ways and there were no leftovers.

If you have a bigger family or teenage boys I suggest doubling or even tripling the recipe.

Linked to: Somewhat Simple, Fireflies and Jellybeans






Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year















Fall is absolutely by far the most wonderful time of the year for me!  Spring is great because the warmth comes back around after what seems like a forever winter.  Summer is nice because it is warm the whole time and the kids are out of school.  Winter is even lovely especially because Christmas falls smack dab in the middle of it. However Fall is my most favorite season and it seems like this year the outdoors have been more beautiful than ever.
















Our fall weather has been just a little warmer than usual this year and I LOVE this time when we don't have to run the air conditioning or the heat.  I LOVE just having the windows open and all the fresh coming in.  I LOVE seeing all the foliage turn colors and I LOVE bon fires, hayrides, and everything that comes with fall.
















Sadly our fall is ending!  The pictures above were taken last weekend, probably our last warm day for a long while.  The cold has already blown in and the heat is on.  I am thankful that we spent this last beautiful day outdoors and enjoying my favorite season.

Yet I can't be too sad.....not only is Fall a wonderful time of year but right after it we get to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas with all our extended family.    I am looking forward to the upcoming Holidays followed by Spring and Summer which will eventually bring me back to my favorite....Fall.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nescafe Dolce Gusto - Coffee at it's Best!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nestle Dolce Gusto. All opinions are 100% mine.

I am a big coffee fan!  It is my preference to enjoy the different flavors of the hot and cold coffees you can get in the specialty stores at the mall however most of the time I am drinking my coffee at home.  Obviously if I went out every single time I wanted a cup of coffee I would be broke!  So instead I wish that I had the equipment I needed at home to get a perfect cup of cafe type coffee every time.

The NESCAFE Dolce Gusto can make 8 different varieties of coffee such as Caffè Lungo, Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte Macchiato, Mocha, Caffè Americano, Iced Cappuccinoand even a rich Hot Chocolate.  To me this is the coolest thing because I am such of fan of many different varieties and flavors.  I can just imagine my very own "coffee shop" in my kitchen, how cool would that be?!

Krups models can be found in Canadian stores such as The Bay, Home Outfitters, London Drugs, Sears and fine kitchen stores across Canada.  The TFal models can be found at Walmart.  These machines come in creamy white, sophisticated black and candy apple red which would definitely be my first choice. 

Visit Sponsor's Site

Cranberry Chutney




Image Source

















1 Package (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
1/2 Cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 Cup sugar
1 Teaspoon nutmeg
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
1 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Teaspoon cumin
Instructions:
In medium saucepan, over high heat, combine cranberries, vinegar and sugar; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, and cumin
Simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is very thick, stirring frequently.  Cool before serving.

Linked to: Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Lucky Star Lane, Life as Mom

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Dream Sofa Set!













I am pretty sure I have mentioned before that I am in desperate need of a new sofa set!  What we are using now was given to us a long time ago.  The structure is okay but it looks pretty sad.  Last year we went out shopping for at least a new couch and I couldn't decide on anything so I ended up just getting matching slip covers for the couch and recliner.  This works for now but I am really hoping to get a new set sooner than later.

If I had the option to choose any sofa sets that I wanted  I would definitely go for something in a red leather.  This would really be my dream sofa set! However  I would have to repaint my entire very large living room since it is painted green and right now I have too many undone projects as it is.  So instead I would more than likely go for something neutral in the brown family.

At MyNewFurnitureStore.com you can find living room furniture, bedroom furniture, kids furniture, kitchen furniture and more.  They have a nice website that is easy to navigate, they offer secure payments and tax free purchases.

Frugal Tip #2 Cut Back on Meat




Before I started using coupons I spent a little too much on meat! I never considered how much something cost per pound.....I just bought what I wanted. That was definitely a good portion of the reason why my grocery bill was so high!

These days I make it a point to stock up on meat when I can find it at rock bottom prices. If I can't find it on sale I don't buy it. When it is on sale I make sure to get as much as I can fit in my budget.











Also when I am cooking these days I make it a point to use less meat in general.  If I am making soup, stew, a casserole, spaghetti sauce or something of the like I only use 1/2 - 3/4 lb of meat.  Then I bulk the meal up with more veggies, maybe some rice or even lentils.   If I am making taco meat I often do 1/2  ground beef and 1/2 rice or lentils.

Sometimes however we go meatless!  This is something I try to do at least once a payday.  It is pretty painless especially when you are able to find a few meatless meals that your family loves.  Having a meatless  dinner now and again can make a change in your grocery bill.  It may be a small change but when you start implementing several simple things the money saved starts to become very apparent. 

Here are a few of my families favorite meatless meals:

Brown Rice and Lentil Casserole

Does your family ever eat meatless?  Do you have a favorite meatless recipe?  If so share in the comments.


Linked to: Coupon Teacher

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Southwestern Jalapeno Cornbread Dressing Recipe

If you are like me the sausage is enough spice! I personally will leave the Jalapenos out.

Recipe Source

4 Cups cornbread crumbled
10 Slices dried bread cubed
1 Pound MILD ITALIAN TURKEY SAUSAGE
1-1/2 Cups celery chopped
1 Cup onion chopped
1-1/2 Teaspoons salt
1 Teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 Cup Jalapeno peppers seeded and chopped
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 Cup TURKEY BROTH

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325.
In large bowl combine cornbread and bread cubes.
In large skillet, over medium-high heat, saute sausage, celery and onion until sausage is no longer pink and
vegetables are tender; combine with cornbread mixture.
Add salt, poultry seasoning, jalapeno peppers, eggs and turkey broth.
Spoon dressing into lightly greased 3-quart casserole dish.
Bake, covered, at 325 degrees F. 45 to 50 minutes



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My First Photo Shoot!

I LOVE pictures! My girls have had their portraits made so many times it's almost ridiculous. However I have personally never been a really great picture taker....or maybe I just never tried. Usually when we are on vacation or Holidays come around I hand the camera to my hubby.

About a month ago I checked out Picnik because my daughter Emeri was telling me how wonderful it was.  I have to admit I really like the site and it is easy to use.  I took some cute pics off my cell phone and tried out the editing for the first time.

Then I followed along as my good friend did a photo shoot with my girls and all these ideas about picture taking just started coming to me.

So when we had my niece K's 2nd birthday party recently I took a bunch of pics of her in her pretty dress and princess acessories.  I came home and edited them with Picnik and several came out very cute considering I have a pretty old camera and they were taken indoors.



































Then after K flat out refused to have her portraits made at JcPenney, we went to Walmart and ordered some enlargements off of a few of the Birthday pics I had taken.  Then I decided that I thought I could maybe do an outdoor photo shoot with her and get more pictures.

So yesterday we took K along with one of her brothers and 2 of my other nieces and headed to a local park.  The experience was soooooo much fun and the pictures came out really good for a first timer!

Here are just a few of my favorites.....there are actually 45 total pics between the four kids pared down from 65!  :) 







































































































































K was by far the hardest to photograph, she is just 2 and she was more concerned with looking at the Duckies than paying attention to me! LOL

All in all it was an Awesome afternoon, I haven't had that much fun in a while.   The results made it even better!  :)




Linked to: Somewhat Simple, Making the World Cuter, A Silly Little Sparrow

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Roast Turkey with Herbal Rub

Image Source























Thankfully I do not have to cook a big Turkey Dinner,  I only have to bring a couple side dishes to my Aunts house.  However I thought over the next couple weeks I would share with you some favorite Thanksgiving Dinner recipes.

Roast Turkey with Herbal Rub

Ingredients:
1 13-Pound WHOLE TURKEY fresh or thawed
1 Medium onion quartered
1 lemon quartered
1/4 Cup vegetable oil
1 Teaspoon dried thyme
1 Teaspoon dried tarragon
1 Tablespoon dried rosemary
1 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 325. 
  • Remove giblets and neck from turkey and reserve for broth.
  • Rinse turkey with cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. 
  • Place onion and lemon quarters inneck and body cavities.
  • In a small bowl, mix oil with herbs, salt and pepper. 
  • With your finger tips, gently loosen skin from the breast without pulling off the skin.
  • Place 1 tablespoon of herb mixture under skin; replace skin. 
  • Rub cavities and outside of turkey with remaining herb mixture.
  • Secure the neck skin to the back with skewers. 
  • Fold wings under back of turkey. Place legs in tucked position. 
  • May be prepared to this point, covered and refrigerated for several hours.
  • Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a large shallow (no more than 2-1/2 inches) deep roasting pan.
  • Insert an oven-safe thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, being careful it does not touch the bone.
  • Cover bird with a loose tent of foil. Roast turkey in a preheated 325 degree F. oven for about 2-1/2 hours.
  • Remove foil and baste bird with pan juices. Continue to roast for about another hour until meat thermometer registers 180 degrees F. in the thigh.
  • Remove turkey from oven and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes before carving. 
  • Transfer to a large platter and serve with gravy.




Linked to: Fireflies and Jellybeans, Keeping it Simple

Monday, November 1, 2010

Frugal Tip #1 Breakfast for Dinner








There are so many things that you can do make more of your families finances.  I am going to be sharing with you Frugal Tips that we use to bring our overall costs down.  Some of these you may already be doing, others may be new to you or you may even have some tips of your own.  Leave a comment and let us know one of your frugal tips. :)

Frugal Tip #1: Breakfast for Dinner

Breakfast for dinner is something we do at least once a payday (2 week period).  Everyone loves it, it is a change of pace and breakfast is usually very inexpensive.  Also when we do breakfast at night I have more time to work with so I am more apt to make something homemade like the waffles above from Saturday night.  Chances are, first thing in the morning I am not making homemade waffles.

Here are a few of our favorite Breakfast for Dinner items:

  1. Pancakes or Waffles
  2. Eggs and Turkey Bacon with Toast
  3. Eggs and Biscuits
  4. Biscuits and Gravy
  5. Breakfast Burritos
Does your family eat breakfast for dinner?  What is you favorite "go to" Breakfast for dinner menu?

Linked to: Life as Mom