Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

The countdown is on.  How are things coming along for you?  I just finished up a list of everything I'm going to make today (Wednesday).  I want as little to do as possible tomorrow.  I also just finished having the paper plate debate with myself.  I've decided to use the "good" dishes but I know how much it would simplify things if we used paper plates - especially since we just grew to a party of 13.  :)

Here's a hint that goes back 20 years for me.  I read this in my very first Gooseberry Patch cookbook when I was a new wife (and Thanksgiving cook).  We tried this on our first turkey and we've been doing it ever since.  

  • Before you put your turkey in the oven, cover it with breakfast link sausages stuck on with toothpicks...the bird will look more like a porcupine than a turkey!  Cover with foil and place in oven to roast.  About 2 hours before serving, take off the foil and 30 minutes later take off the sausages (which are almost dried, and no longer greasy) and serve them as an appetizer.  The bird will now get a beautiful golden brown and everyone will dive into the sausages.

This has become a tradition for us and it really does make the turkey extra juicy!

Here's my menu plan.  One of my friends is bringing some other dishes, this is just my part.  

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Green Beans
Macaroni and Cheese
Broccoli Casserole
Yeast Rolls
Pumpkin Pie
Coffee, Tea, Lemonade

Everyone has their way of making pumpkin pies.  Here's mine...

3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 eggs
1 can (15 oz) 100 % pure pumpkin
1 can (12 fl oz) Evaporated Milk
1 (9 inch) deep dish pie crust

Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in a small bowl.  Beat eggs in large bowl.  Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture.  Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

Pour into pie crust.

Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 350 degrees, bake 40-50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack for 2 hours.  Serve immediately or refrigerate.  Makes 8 servings.

Do you need a side dish for your Thanksgiving meal?  Here are two of my favorites.

Macaroni and Cheese

Put in crock-pot:
2 cups evaporated milk
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons mined onion
1 egg, beaten
2 cups cubed cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons butter

Stir well.  Cover and cook on high for one hour, stirring occasionally.  Add 3 or 4 cups cooked macaroni, drained.  Cover and cook on low for 3 - 5 hours. 

Broccoli Casserole

1 cup mayo
1 box chopped broccoli - thawed
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 cup Pepperidge Farm stuffing
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion salt

Mix soup, eggs and mayo.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Pour into baking dish.  Sprinkle stuffing on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.   

Lastly, here's a simple and inexpensive table.  Do you want to know my number one tip for making a beautiful table?  Iron your tablecloth.  This one little chore will make your table look ten times better.  It only takes a few minutes and if you don't have time ask one of the kids to do it, an older child who knows how to use the iron without getting burned.  You don't want an injury on Thanksgiving day - ain't nobody got time for that!

I ironed mine early this morning before anyone else was up.  

You do not need to spend loads of money on things to make your table pretty.  I found everything I needed at Hobby Lobby and the Dollar Tree.  I was in and out of the Dollar Tree in five minutes flat.  All I needed were two candlesticks and two candlestick holders.  Total spent: $3.00

I made a quick run into Hobby Lobby where most of their fall stuff is 80 percent off.  I bought these three pumpkins for pennies.  They were floral picks and had long stems on them but I used wire cutters and trimmed those right off so they would sit flat on my table.  

I picked up one more little bush while I was there and it was only a few cents as well.  I added it to my vase in the middle of the table for a little more umph.  


Now the grown up table is all set and it's time to start working on the kid table.  Oh, and the cooking...who's doing that?  Oh yeah, it's me.  I better get to work!

Don't be fooled here.  Things aren't perfect at this table.  The silverware doesn't match and those dining room windows need to be cleaned, but it's warm and inviting and the kids think it's special.  Soon the house will smell delicious and be full of people and that's what it's really about.  Things don't have to be perfect to be lovely.  An imperfect table will still bless your family.  Don't let perfection get in the way of a really wonderful holiday.  Enjoy your family and make memories.

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope your day is extra warm and cozy. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

All These Kids

Do you ever have one of those days that goes on and on and on?  I have them quite frequently and I had one today.  

The doorbell rang early this morning.  We start the day with that.  My husband calls from the bank - where there's an issue.  One son needs a costume for an oral presentation at co-op, (dress rehearsal is tomorrow) his sister has agreed to bring two dozen cupcakes to her class.  Tomorrow.  And our cat!  She told the teacher she would bring our cat to class.  Yes she did.  The laundry is backed up like never before.  I'm trying to cook and clean while working on Math and Language Arts and that's always tricky.  Both vehicles need attention and one of the older boys is off to college and another one of the older ones is helping a neighbor for the first half of the day.  There's this new obsession pet frog at our house who is cute but high maintenance.  It feels like everyone is going in a thousand different directions and one of those persons is a three year old who needs her mama to keep up with her.  

It's funny how I will think there is no way I can possibly get everything accomplished but somehow when the day comes to a close, it's done.  

This is a reminder of God's grace in my life.  

Some women "miss out" on doing this amount of laundry but they miss out on this number of hugs, and kisses, and laughs too.  Some might not want my job but I wouldn't trade it for anything - not even a nap.  Some Mamas have a whole lot more help with their kiddos than I will ever have.  But doing this with just my honey has made us strong.  Some recommend birth control in an effort to "control" the chaos, or financial strain.  I've learned to trust God in what He gives me knowing full well He will never make a mistake.  I didn't always have this kind of trust but God, through my husband, brought me to this place.  I'm ashamed to tell you that while I was pregnant with our fifth child I encouraged my husband to have a vasectomy.  He gently explained to me why he would not.  He prayed with me, and for me, and asked me to pray and talk to God about the number of our children.  He ask me to allow God to choose the number.  When I look back at that time I'm once again reminded of God's grace in my life.  He took my fear and grew trust in Him.

Our days are extremely un-perfect.  I burn dinner, get overwhelmed, and forget to return calls.  My house gets messy, my dishes and laundry pile high, and I'm sometimes a grump.  But for the most part this is a happy place.  Our kids laugh all the time and they love each other.  A lot.  All I had to do today was step back and look around and I fell in love with life all over again.  It's loud when guitar is being practiced and lines to the Christmas play are being shouted over top.  It's discouraging when the last square of toilet paper just got flushed and there isn't a speck more in the entire house.  It's sort of shocking when I work on a meal all day and it vanishes in under 10 minutes.  I won't lie, it's intimidating when I look at the school work that needs to be done.

I'll take it - the crazy, the busy, the hard work, the chaos.  I will endure the comments and the judgement and the naysayers, and the lack of sleep.  I'll do it for the love.  The unimaginable multiplication of love.  The joy, the teamwork, the strength in numbers - I'll take that.  Even the busiest days come to an end.  There's nothing sweeter than "a bunch of kids" in their pajamas sleeping soundly in a quiet (yes!) house.  

Thank you, Lord, for this day and for all these kids.  Help me to remember this tomorrow morning when I am wrestling the kids, and the cat, into the van (and help whoever is carrying the cupcakes not to drop them).  

Hot Potato

Hey Everyone!

I've got a really easy dinner idea for you tonight.  You probably have lots of cooking and baking to do this week.  I know I do!  Since I'm busy with Thanksgiving preparations I try to keep the meals in the days leading up to Thanksgiving ultra simple.  Tonight we are having Baked Potatoes and Salad Bar.  I'm giving my oven the night off (actually, I'm cleaning it) and I'm making the potatoes in the crock-pot.  If you've never done that before, here are some easy instructions.

  • Stab potatoes with a fork.
  • Wrap each in foil.
  • Fill crock-pot with potatoes.

  • Cover and cook on high 4 hours, or low 8 to 10 hours.  (*Do not add water)
Remember to remove potatoes with tongs.  We once had guests and someone reached in to get a potato with their bare hands.  They are too hot to handle for sure.  

You can cut up a big salad, like I'm planning to do, or make a pot of chili, or just set out some butter, sour cream, shredded cheese, bacon bits, broccoli, or whatever you like to top off your baked potato.

Check back here tomorrow for a hint on how to make your turkey extra juicy and delicious.  I'll also share with you my Thanksgiving meal plan (with recipes) and a simple table.

Have a cozy day!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Yum-O Dinner

Sooo...what's for dinner tonight?  Any ideas?

I've actually got chili cooking in my crock-pot today and I'm very much looking forward to eating that tonight...(it's cold here, how is it your way??) but I brought you a delicious recipe that you just might want to whip up right now.

Teresa's Chicken Enchiladas

My dear friend, Teresa, shared this recipe with me several years ago.  When I tried it on my family they went cr-azy for it and request it frequently. 

1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup picante sauce
2 tsp chili powder
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese
6 flour tortillas (warmed)
small tomato (chopped)
green onion (sliced)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Stir soup, sour cream, picante sauce, and chili powder in medium bowl.  

Stir 1 cup of the soup mixture, chicken and cheese in large bowl.

Divide the chicken mixture among the tortillas.  Roll up the tortillas and place seam side up in baking dish.  

Pour remaining soup mixture over filled tortillas.

Cover and bake 40 minutes.  Top with tomato and green onion.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Raising Thankful Kids

You've probably noticed.  I can't keep my blog up like I used to.  

I'm in a very full season of life and I don't have to tell you how that is.  You've been through one too, I'm sure.  I get what I can get done each day and the things I can't get to just have to wait.  

I've got a new little motto - {if you will} - People before projects.  

There's a lot of peopleness going on here.  

I promised you a post on raising thankful kids.  We all want thankful children, right?  I know I do.  I not only want to increase gratitude in my own life but I'd like to see that in my children also.  

Here are some simple and fun ways to raise kids who are thankful:

  • Have your children write thank you notes (or decorate them if younger). This small act of gratitude goes a long way in helping children to recognize and remember the gift they've been given, and the giver.   

  • Make sure your kids are helping out around the house and doing chores. It's a fact - children who work are more thankful than those who have everything done for them.  

  • Look for opportunities to include your children in buying and giving to others.  Instead of putting your child's name on a gift tag to say a present is "from" them, have them help shop for a gift, maybe even pay for the gift with their own money, and wrap the gift.  Thankful children know what it is to give to others.

  • Train the children to always say please and thank you.  Always.  To the waitress, to the mom who hosted them for a play date, to their siblings, neighbors, the librarian, family members and friends.  

  • See to it that you are setting the gratitude example.  Our children are great imitators of everything we do - the good, the bad, and the ugly.  BE THANKFUL!

  • Every night at dinner have each family member share one thing they are thankful for.  This is a fun one we like to do each night at suppertime or Bible time.  It helps everyone to remember we have so much to be thankful for.

  • Don't buy them everything they want.  Really, don't.  A child who gets everything they want, when they want it, is rarely a thankful child.  Waiting for something is good -it increases thankfulness.

Those are some of my ideas.  What are yours?  How do you help your kids to be thankful?  

Here are a couple of little projects we've done in the past.

The Giving Thanks Tree

Thankful Pumpkins  (You will have to scroll down a bit on the post to find the pumpkins.)  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Our Carving Party

Hey Blog Reading Friends,  

I really didn't mean to go a whole week without posting.  I'm not even sure how it happened!  Last week got lost in a party, a soccer tournament, and lots of time spent with friends, oh, and Halloween.  Before I knew it, it was the start of a new week and time to get my act together once again.  

Here are some pictures from our carving party.  I really wish I had gotten these posted sooner but like I said... 

The only thing I don't have a picture of are the invitations we made.  (I always forget to snap a picture of something!)  We folded orange construction paper in half and cut out the shape of a pumpkin.  We cut out the eyes and nose and mouth like a traditional jack-o-lantern and used black sharpie to write all the party details, the most important of those being B.Y.O.P. (bring your own pumpkin).  

Our menu consisted of a big pot of chili, hot-dogs my honey cooked on the grill, chips, and s'mores.  It was yummy!  Everyone pitched in and brought something and it was almost no work for me.  Yay!  :)

My very clever and crafty friend, DeeAnna, fixed up this 2 liter.  Isn't it cute??

You cannot beat Hobby Lobby for cute tableware!

It was a super fun night and I'm pretty sure everyone had a great time.  

Time is marching on (as it has a habit of doing) and now it is time to start getting ready for Thanksgiving.  I love Thanksgiving and I can't wait!  

The next post I have scheduled is about raising thankful kids.  Hopefully I will get that finished up today or tomorrow.  Stay tuned! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Good Monday Morning!

Can you believe it is Monday again already?  They come around quick!!

I wish I loved the act of cleaning house as much as I love a clean house.  I'm always looking for fun ways to switch up my cleaning routines, faster ways to get things done, and organizational tips.  I stumbled upon this little graphic on Pinterest and really liked it.  It sort of makes cleaning house like playing a board game.  Sort of.

What do you think?  Would you use this?

We're busy getting ready for a Pumpkin Carving Party.  There's lots of cleaning and cooking to do, and even a little shopping.  My honey has some pretty lofty project ideas he plans on knocking out.  I hope he does!  You know what they say, if you want to get your household projects completed invite company to visit.  We shall see.  :)

I hope to take lots of fabulous pictures during the carving party to share with you later in the week but we will have to see how that goes too.  I've not totally learned how to balance the act of hostess and photographer.  I'll do my best.  

How are you and your family enjoying the Autumn season?  Pumpkins?  Parties?  Plans?  Please share!

Have a cozy Monday!!


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