Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Moving into the New Year!





I love a New Year! I love the thoughts, plans and goals to be made and contemplated. I love the time of reflection on the past year.

This year one thing I want to do, or better yet, do again is spend more time journaling. I have always loved to journal my thoughts, plans, dreams and direction in life. It has been a way for me to stay focused on the things that are important to me. Those things that I contemplate at the beginning of the year and want to keep them in my thoughts as the year progresses.

I think journaling is healthy for the mind and helps to clear thoughts. If something is bothering you or you need to make a decision on something it can help to write these things down. I think journaling is good for the heart. It can be the place to write your prayers, to keep Scripture verses close to your heart, to daily remember those you love, a spot to remind you of all that you are thankful for each day and to share your thoughts with God.

I have a stack of journals from years past. I saw them not long ago and was reminded of how much I enjoy journaling and also how I had not been doing this for last few years. So in 2016 I will be starting a new journal. It is always amazing to me to sit at the end of a year and review my year in my journal.

It really does not take a lot to start. You can buy a cute notebook or grab a spiral bound notebook or even add extra pages to a daily planner. What it looks like is not as important as just taking the time to write as the year goes by.

My other goal as this year comes to a close is to pick one word for my year. Are any of you familiar with this? I found the idea last year on this website: http://myoneword.org/ The idea is to take all your goals, resolutions and desires for the year and summarize them into one single word.

After a lot of thought over the last week I picked my word for the year. My word is, “Intent”. The definition of intent is: resolved or determined to do (something). I have a list of goals and plans for the year but without a reminder, without focus many goals and plans can be easily forgotten or become hazy by February. The idea is that your one word is a simple reminder of what you'd like to see for yourself or your year. I desire to be intent on making progress, applying myself each day, week, month to make my goals happen.

With those thoughts in mind I'm excited to move into 2016 and see what the year brings, what God has in store for me this year.

 


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Our Christmas



It was a different year in some ways. While still a lot of people, it was the smallest celebration we'd had in some time. It was simple but very enjoyable. I did get a few gifts for my grandchildren and my children, but my children made a different choice. Most years my children draw names for their own gift exchange. This year, a few of my children were dealing with financial stresses and so I asked them all if they would like to skip the gift exchange. They all said yes, that would be a blessing to them. 


Several weeks before Christmas my email inbox was full of ads for stuff I needed, stuff I should buy and stuff to give as gifts, etc.. Now my inbox is full of ads that say.. “now you can buy what you didn't get for Christmas!” .. Not to mention I read today that there is a vending machine that allows people to exchange unwanted gifts for books.. really? So we buy, buy, buy to fulfill some sort of ideal.. and then we can take it back, buy what we really wanted or exchange for a book? I'm saddened that this beautiful holiday gets more and more materialistic as the years go by. I was actually happy that my children made a different choice this year.

It made me reflect on so many traditions that we always feel we must follow. And when someone does not they are given names (such as grinch or scrooge) or made to feel as though the holiday is somehow incomplete. I was actually proud of my children for making this choice. I was once again reminded this Christmas to remember what is most important. We spent a wonderful holiday remembering what is really important in the end.

We enjoyed a delicious meal together, time visiting and enjoying family and grandchildren. It was a wonderful memorable holiday.


Me and my boys..

Hannah and her hubby...

Uncle Richard and his nieces...

The Group photo  :) 

It was a beautiful Christmas and I'm excited to move on into 2016!! 



Monday, December 28, 2015

Menu Monday!





I hope you all had a good Christmas. Ours was very nice and I'll post more about that soon. One thing was for certain, I ended up with a lot of leftovers. We just got them finished up over the weekend. I'm looking forward to eating something different this week!! :)


My week's meals are looking like this...


Crockpot chicken and black bean soup
I'm going to just toss this one together. My plan is to use chicken breast, canned black beans, corn, chicken broth, tomatoes, Mexican spices and a few veggies such as carrots, onions, peppers. I'll serve it with chips & salsa


Crockpot Asian beef over rice
Beef is so expensive. I only buy it when I see it on sale, which is not that often. A couple weeks ago while shopping I found beef round roast on sale. I bought one. I'm planning on putting it in the crockpot and seasoning it with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and anything else that suits me. Cooking it all day until it can be shredded with a fork and serving it over rice. I'll make a salad to serve on the side.


Chicken w/sautéed mushrooms over pasta
I plan on cutting up and sautéing chicken breast with mushrooms and onions. Then making a little gravy/sauce from the pan juices and serving over pasta. I plan to serve brussel sprouts on the side.


That should wrap up the last menu for the year and take us on into the New Year!


 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Dinner





 











So many details to take care of this week! It makes it hard to get to my blog! :)

I did however come up with my plan for Christmas Eve dinner. I like to make a large dinner and then enjoy the leftovers on Christmas Day so I don't have to do any cooking. Here is what my menu looks like:


Meatballs in sauce, done in the crockpot (the sauce is equal parts chili sauce and grape jelly. It's a family favorite)
Baked ham
Macaroni & Cheese (I'll making our favorite recipe, Laurie's Macaroni & Cheese)
Potato Casserole, again in a crockpot (hash brown little cubes, mixed with cream soup, sour cream, and cheese)
Brussel sprout salad (I've made this for the last couple of years and it is so good!)
Coleslaw
Dinner rolls
Cookie platter
for dessert

Are your Christmas dinner plans coming along?



 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Menu Monday!




It's a busy week ahead. I'm still trying to figure out what to make for our family Christmas Eve dinner. In the meantime I need to focus on the week before this.

I've not done any Christmas baking this year. Which has been just fine. I guess I'm just needing a year off. :) I'll buy some goodies and maybe make a batch of fudge.

Now for the week ahead...

I made the pork chops I had on last weeks menu on Sunday. We have leftovers for tonight. Which is good. It's grocery shopping day and picking up last minute items before Christmas.

The rest of the week..


Salsa Chicken
This is one of those super easy, don't have to think too much recipes. Put into your crockpot chicken breasts, a can of beans, salsa, add some chopped up veggies (onion, carrots, celery), sprinkle in some taco seasonings or seasonings of your choice and cook on low for the day. Shred the chicken, serve in tortillas with lettuce and sour cream. Chips and salsa on the side.


Aidells Sausages & Cabbage
I saute cabbage and onions and Aidells Sausages (from Costco). I'll serve it with rice and a salad.


Sub Sandwiches
I need something quick and easy as I approach the holiday with all the things to be done. I'll make sub sandwiches, serve some tomato soup on the side and a veggie platter.

As soon as I figure out my Christmas menu, I'll share it. What do you serve for Christmas dinner?



 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Recipe Review: Crockpot Hawaiian Meatballs





I posted about this recipe last week. It had been on my list of recipes to try for some time. I have to say, I loved it!! My family loved it too. I loved it because it took maybe 5 minutes to toss into the crockpot. My family loved it because it was so good. Win-Win...

It would make a super simple crockpot freezer meal as well. But considering how fast it goes together, to me it seems just as easy to put it together the day you are using it.

It does use frozen precooked meatballs. I buy mine from Costco in a 6# bag. They are very good and I can't say that for all frozen precooked meatballs I've tried.

The recipe calls for 3#'s of meatballs. Put those in the crockpot first, mix the sauce ingredients together (a can of pineapple and the juice, brown sugar, cornstarch, white vinegar & soy sauce). Pour over the meatballs and cook.

The recipe states to cook on low for 3 to 4 hours. However I found at the end of 4 hours my sauce had not thickened yet. I bumped it to high for another hour and that did the trick. When I make this again I think I'll go either 6 hours on low or 2 to 3 on high.

I served it with rice and a salad on the side. My hubby and boys took the leftovers to work with them the next day.

You can find the recipe here: http://fakeginger.com/2014/05/15/slow-cooker-hawaiian-meatballs/

 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Menu Monday!







This last week was busy. I had grandkids here for a couple days and that always keeps me on my toes! I made one change from the planned menu. I was planning on having a few extra people over for dinner and decided instead of my planned cranberry chicken I'd make meatloaf and a potato casserole. I served it with green beans and a salad.

In light of that the cranberry chicken is going to be tonight's dinner. I was going to cook it in my dutch oven, but I'll be busy grocery shopping and running errands today so I'm doing it in the crockpot. If it turns out good, I'll share it.

One meal from last week that was a huge hit with my family was the Hawaiian Meatballs. They were so easy to make. I'll share about this one tomorrow.

The rest of the week is looking like this:


Fish Sticks
Costco makes some really good quality fish sticks. My family always enjoys them. I'll make mac & cheese to with them and serve some veggies on the side.


Sausage Potato Soup
This is one of my favorite soups to make. I'll make it even quicker and simpler by using a couple bags of frozen hash browns (the little cube type). I'll serve this with biscuits and salad.


Pork Chops
Not sure yet how I'll make these. My favorite way is to roast them in my roaster oven and season them with salt, pepper, garlic, Italian seasonings, and a bit of Braggs Liquid Aminos. Super good and easy. I've also been wanting to make some beans (white beans seasoned with salt, pepper, tomatoes, brown sugar, molasses to give them a baked bean taste) and this seems like a great meal to have with beans. I'll serve some rice and veggies with this too.


This should do it for us for the week!

 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Family traditions








Family traditions... how do they start? I once said.. if you do something once with your kids.. it will be a tradition and every year after that they will say.. Remember mom.. when??... Traditions are like glue.. they hold families together. Christmas is a great time to reflect on family traditions.

We had for many years a Christmas tree decorating tradition. I would make cheap store bought frozen pizza, have cocoa, eggnog, candy canes, Christmas cookies. Then we would decorate the tree. This tradition had its start very simply.

One year, we had 5 or was it 6 little ones?? We went out and bought a tree and brought it home. The kids were so excited. But the reality was that dad needed to get the tree in the stand and string the lights on before the kids could put the decorations on. But they all just stood there when the tree was brought in looking at dad and waiting for all the fun to begin. He felt a little stressed by it all. 

I jumped in and told the kids.. lets have some cocoa! Then I looked in my cupboards and freezer to see what else I might have to keep them distracted while dad did his thing. Here is what I found: Frozen pizza (the cheap kind.. bought for those “just in case” times in life), Christmas cookies, eggnog, candy canes, and hot cocoa mix. So.. I cooked the pizza and the kids enjoyed the cocoa, eggnog, cookies and candy canes.. and by that time dad was done with his job and the kids could decorate the tree.

After that, the tradition was started. Every year we'd bring in the tree, dad would set it up, put the lights on and we'd feast on frozen pizza, Christmas cookies, candy canes, eggnog and hot cocoa and then decorate the tree.

This year we put up the tree and my daughter Emily messaged me from California.. .. mom.. don't forget the pizza, eggnog and hot cocoa!

Family traditions are like glue.. they make memories, they hold us together and we never forget them..

Make some memories this year.. start some family traditions!


Monday, December 7, 2015

Menu Monday!






Last week's menu turned out well. I made a few changes. Instead of spaghetti I cooked a pork shoulder roast in my crockpot. It fit better with my busy day. I dumped a jar of my homemade pickled cabbage over it all and let it cook all night until the next afternoon. It was delish. I served it with rice.

When my enchilada night came around I still had pork roast left, not a lot, but enough that I did not want it to go to waste. I also had rice leftover. I chopped up the pork, added the rice and a can of chili and used this to fill my enchiladas. I made my basic enchilada sauce to spread over it all and topped it with cheese. I know it sounds strange, but it tasted great and the family ate it up.

I am always happy when I can creatively use up my leftovers. Just takes a little thinking “outside the box” sometimes. :)


This weeks menu seemed challenging. I felt like I had no ideas floating through my brain... Ha, ha.. But I looked around my freezer and pantry to see what I could work with and what would need to be added and eventually came up with a few meals.

Today is grocery shopping day so I'm picking an easy meal to toss together. I have some jars of home canned chicken cacciatore on the shelf. I'll open a couple of them and make angel hair pasta and serve some french bread and a salad on the side..

The rest of the week is looking like this...


Hawaiian Meatballs
This is a crockpot meal. It uses premade frozen meatballs. I have some in my freezer. I found this recipe: http://fakeginger.com/2014/05/15/slow-cooker-hawaiian-meatballs/ that I'm going to try. I'll make rice and a salad to serve with it.


Dutch Oven Cranberry Chicken
It is the season for cranberries!! I'm using my recipe for dutch oven cranberry beef and subbing chicken. Its been a while since I pulled out the dutch oven so I figured it was time. I'll sever some buttered pasta and green beans with this.


Sausage Veggie Dish
I'm not really sure what to call this meal as I'm just putting it together in my head as I plan this week. I have some Jimmy Dean sausage in the fridge that needs to be used up. My plan is simple... fry up the sausage with onions, peppers, mushrooms, celery, and any other veggie I may happen to have in my fridge. Serve this with rice. Not fancy, not clever, but easy and good.


I'm thinking this should do it for the week. Hope your meal planning is going well! :)

 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Homemade Gift Idea: Dish Towel Apron





I posted this idea a few years ago..  but it is so easy and so quick to make..  and is darn cute!!  Just thought I'd share it again!!  


Christmas is fast approaching! If you’re in need of a quick gift idea this dish towel apron may be just the project. It requires basic sewing skills and goes together very quickly. Using dish towels means no raw edges to think about!! :)

You will need 2 cotton dish towels that coordinate and some ½ or 1 inch twill tape.

I purchased my dish towels at Target. I got 5 in a package and the cost was $10. You will use 2 for the apron. I figured $4 an apron was pretty good (plus the cost of the twill tape, I had some on hand already). For my pack of 5 dish towels I got 2 aprons and an extra towel for my kitchen, or it could be put in a gift basket along with the apron.





You can find detailed instructions for the apron on this site: http://thepickledweasel.blogspot.com/2009/11/christmas-making-tea-towel-apron.html 

Lay out your towels…


Sew them together….

 


Use the twill tape for the neck and ties…



And you are done…

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Internet Issues and Winter Weather



I'm back online!! Woo Hoo!! I changed my ISP on Monday, they said they would send the modem overnight.. and there would be no interruption in my service which was set to start on Tuesday... Unfortunately we had no internet access on Tuesday.. and my modem did not arrive.. I called.. they said it would be here on Wednesday.. It did arrive and then I had to wait for IT son #1 to come home.. he got it set up but could not get it to talk to the router.. waited for IT son #2 to come home... he got that working and we are back in business now. The only thing worse than being without internet for 2 days is no electricity.. thankfully I had that.. :)

I had to laugh a bit. Whenever I go on vacation I make of point of leaving the internet world behind and I don't have any issues with it. And to top it off, 20 years ago there was no internet in my house. But when I lose it I realize how much I appreciate it. It was a challenging couple of days. I'm thankful for all the internet provides, the information, the connection with friends and family, the encouragement, and the ability to encourage others. I'm just happy it's back on. :)

Next update is, winter is here in my part of the world. We woke up yesterday morning to most everything covered in ice. My boys needed to get to work. The hardest part of the drive is getting to the main highway. They deice the main roads. One by one they left yesterday morning after thawing out their windshields and warming up their cars. They took it real slow on the drive down to the hwy. They made it to work without issue. My youngest son called me when he got to work just so I would not worry. Gotta love this young man.

Aside from praying for the safety of my kids (and my hubby as he heads to work today) as they drive these roads the only other thing we can do is keep the wood stove burning and embrace the season. I took a couple pics of my icy property today...





Hope you all are staying warm!!


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Thanksgiving, Memories and Remembering what is Most Important!!

Years ago I had a house full of young ladies all learning homemaking skills. They cooked and baked and cleaned right along beside me. On Thanksgiving we would get excited. We baked everything from scratch. The many pies, dinner rolls and stuffing were all baked right in our own kitchen. They loved it. Today they always talk about those years. It was part of what made our holiday special.

Today, fast forward many years and I have no daughters at home to help me make all those pies and dinner rolls and goodies. And I have more people to feed on a holiday dinner. There are spouses and grandchildren and boyfriends/girlfriends... and I am the one to make it all happen. So for the past few years, that is what I have done. This year I was stressing a bit. My oven failed on me, my microwave died (due to a brown out), and I have family coming for Thanksgiving! I looked at all my options.. and this is what I found... Costco … Costco makes amazing pies and awesome dinner rolls (and thank you Costco for all that you do! :). The grocery store has stuffing... and it was right then and there I realized something very important.

In those year when we did everything from scratch.. it was amazing. .. it was what we should do.. it was what made the most amazing memories for my girls and my family.. but today.. the focus has shifted. I spend most days with only my boys at home in the evening when they come home from work. My house is quiet and simple. And I'm loving that by the way.. :)... but when the time comes for my family to gather together under one roof... that is a HUGE blessing. That is way more important than home baked pies, homemade dinner rolls and all the rest. As I adjust and change for this empty nest part of my life.. I realize that the end result today is still the same... family.. it just may look different today than it did years ago.. but it is still the same.. family and the blessing of the time we are able to gather together and thank and praise God for all His blessings..

And what a blessed time we had together...  (pics of my family and our time together) . ...














 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Menu Monday!


It has been a very busy few days in our home. My daughter Emily and her husband flew in on Thursday, Friday my daughter Sierra and her boyfriend came up to the house. We had a big houseful of family with lots of visiting time. I spent Friday preparing food in advance. On Saturday we enjoyed our holiday dinner. My daughter Hannah and her husband and children were also here. This morning everyone has gone home and my house will now settle into a more normal routine. I really enjoyed all the wonderful family time and will share a bit tomorrow on our holiday. Due to spending all my time with my family it is only now I'm sitting down to focus on the week ahead and what I'll be cooking in my kitchen.

We still have a few Thanksgiving leftovers and some leftover food from the day before. Tonight we'll be finishing all the food off for dinner.

The rest of week is looking like this...


Spaghetti
Simple, easy and filling. I'll serve salad and garlic bread with this.


Enchiladas
Not sure what type yet but I'm leaning towards sour cream enchiladas. I have some sour cream in the fridge that I need to use up. Tortilla chips, salsa and a salad will be served on the side.


Creamy Chicken Veggie Soup
I shared this recipe a couple weeks ago. It was delish. I also have a lot of veggies to use up and the recipe is so versitile that it will take care of that job. I'll serve biscuits or french bread with this.


I think that should do it!

 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!!!



 

There are some businesses that just can't take a day off.. and the airlines is one of them.. it is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week type of business... they make it possible for those flying to spend time with their families to get to where they are going.. A shout out to pilots and mechanics and flight crews... that can't be home with their families today.. and such is the life of my hubby (an aircraft mechanic).. but we will have our dinner on Saturday!! :D .. Have a blessed day with your family!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Striving for a Heart of Gratefulness

This is a repost from a couple years ago..  but my feelings are still the same!!  Be grateful, be thankful for all of God's blessings..  the big ones and the little tiny ones..  God's love is everywhere when we take the time to look and see them.. 



Thanksgiving always means to me a time to stop and give thanks. I’ve seen many lists on the things people are thankful for in their life. I have my own list as well. But I have really been contemplating something beyond this. I’ve been contemplating and thinking about a heart of gratefulness.


How is this different you might ask? Well I’ll share my thoughts. In my mind a true heart of gratefulness goes beyond my list of what I’m thankful for. It is a deeper meaning that I am going to strive for in my life. I looked it like this.. if you were walking through a desert of heat you would be so thankful, deeply grateful for every drop of water you had. If you stood next to a huge lake, water would be taken for granted. How many things in my life do I take for granted? 


It’s not about looking at those less fortunate than I am and realizing my blessings. It is choosing every day to be honestly grateful for all my blessings. I remember something from several years ago. I was driving with my van full of children to Walmart. Now, I live in a beautiful area. It is so beautiful that is considered a National Scenic Area (The Columbia River Gorge). I’m driving to Walmart and my kids are being noisy and my mind is focused on my trip to Walmart, what I need to do after I get home, food to prepare and chores to be done. Then it hits me. It is a completely beautiful July day. The sun is shining, the sky is an intense blue, the trees and mountains beside me are a deep, rich, vibrant green and brown the Columbia River to my left is stunning in its colors and calmness. If a tourist was driving through they would have been in incredible awe by the beauty of it all. But on that day for me, up until that point, it was just how I got to Walmart. I realized that in the hectic pace of my life, I take things for granted. The beauty of God’s creation right in front of me goes unnoticed due to focus on other things. 

 

How many other things go unnoticed in my life? The laugh of a child, the quiet of an afternoon, the noise of a houseful of grandchildren, a cup of coffee shared with a good friend, the rain making my area so green and beautiful, the hard work of my husband to provide for us, a load of clean and folded laundry, the wood stove simmering and keeping us warm, the work of my husband and sons who gather the wood in and stack it and bring it into the house so I can make a fire and keep us warm and toasty all winter long, a pot of soup on a cold winters day, the blessings of being a stay at home wife and mother, a clean kitchen, dirty dishes (as they say it shows I have someone to cook for), a child who learns a hard concept in his/her school day, a quiet evening spent with my hubby, new toothbrushes, dirty windows that show the handprints of little grandchildren who’ve been at my house, a barn full of hay to feed my goats for the winter, and my list could go on and on, the big stuff and the little stuff. Lord may I never take any of it for granted. 

 

So many things go way beyond my list, it is a daily heart that wakes each morning and says, thank you Lord, I am alive today, and I have so much to be thankful for that it can bring me to tears. If you’ve ever lost a loved one or been close to losing your own life, then you know how incredibly grateful you can be to simply wake up in the morning and step into the day ready to tackle whatever God has in store. Let me live daily with a heart that is truly grateful to Lord and chose not to take my life for granted. As a Peanuts cartoon I saw the other day said, “What if today I was just grateful for everything”. That is my desire, to strive towards a daily heart of true gratefulness to my Lord and Savior. Not all days will be great days, some will be hard, some will be sad, some will try my patients, but every day there is beauty, there are blessings and there is a Lord that has blessed me with so many beautiful simple things. Lord may I never take any of it for granted.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Menu Monday!




This last week with the crazy power outages (we had 2 more after the one I posted about).. I've been afraid to plan to many meals. Loosing power for long periods of time means no cooking. We ate sandwiches for a few meals and I went out to Costco one night and bought pizza. Praying that this weeks goes much better.

We are having our Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, after the holiday. My daughter Emily and her hubby Brandon will be arriving on Thursday but my hubby has to work and so does my daughter Sierra. But that is OK.. we are flexible. I typically like doing my holiday dinner on a different day anyway. So it works well for us.

I'll be planning regular meals for the week, a little extra because of my kids coming and then our holiday dinner. I'm keeping the menu super simple this week so I can focus on holiday preparations and more importantly, my family arriving and spending time with them.

Today my plan is simple. We are having fish sticks from Costco and tater tots and salad from a bag. Can't get much more simple than that.

For the rest of the week, this is my plan:


Chicken Chili
Made in the crockpot, super easy, super simple and enjoyed by all. I'll make cornbread and a salad.


Meatball Sub Sandwiches
Frozen meatballs from Costco and a jar of store bought sauce, in the crockpot for about 4 or 5 hours. Serve on sub sandwich bread, top with cheese and serve coleslaw on the side.


BBQ Pork Roast
Again, in the crockpot, with bbq sauce. Served with rice and green beans.


The Big Meal
We are traditionalists when it comes to Thanksgiving. I've served the same menu for years and my kids would not feel it was Thanksgiving with the traditional meals. Our Thanksgiving looks like this:

Turkey
Stuffing (some in the bird, some in the crockpot)
Mashed potatoes (I make them the day before and put them in the crockpot in the morning to be ready and warm by meal time)
Gravy
Sweet potatoes
Green bean casserole
Cabbage salad (this is new, my daughter Emily is making it)
24 hour fruit salad
Dinner rolls
Cranberry sauce
Pumpkin pie
Apple pie
Pecan pie

How are your Thanksgiving plans coming along? 


Friday, November 20, 2015

The Big Wind Storm



What a crazy couple of days. On Tuesday we woke up to rain and by the afternoon the wind was picking up. Then the wind really started blowing. It seemed to just get worse. Windy days this time of the year are normal but this was above normal.

At around 3:pm we lost power. At around 5:pm it came back on for a few minutes. We heard a big boom and the power was out again. We assumed it must have been a transformer. Around 7:pm the power came back on. But we started noticing the electricity doing weird things, the lights would get super bright and then dim really low. The fan on our wood stove would speed up and then almost stop. We called the power company but they were so busy they just told us they'd let someone know.

Around the same time we heard another big (kaboom) noise, we weren't sure what it was and it was dark out so we could not see anything.

By the next morning Tobin saw the reason for our strange power issue.. a tree had fallen and we had a line down. He was able to get a hold of the power company and talk to them and they told us to turn our power off at the breaker. They said it was neutral line and what we were experiencing was a 'brown out'. So we shut everything off and waited for them.

They finally arrived at 7:pm, about 28 hours after it all began and hooked up our line and we had full power again. On the downside, due to the brown out, we lost 2 microwaves and a printer.

We discovered, in the morning, what the big kaboom noise we had heard the night before. A huge walnut tree that we had down by our garden had literally been blown down, pulled out of the ground, by the windstorm. We lost a few trees but this was by far the biggest one.

Trying to see all things from a positive light we both just said, well.. now the garden will have more sunshine, our view is opened up and we have next years firewood!! :)

Here are a few pics of the downed tree....





Better for this storm to come in this week than next week when I'll have a house full of people for the holiday!!


 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Menu Monday!!


 


It's Monday!! Hope you all are ready to tackle the week. I have a lot of my thoughts on planning our Thanksgiving dinner. I'll have 6 of my kids here with family, grandkids, and friends. I haven't done a head count yet. I just plan on making a lot of food! Ha, ha!!

But in the meantime I still need to keep my weekly menu planning done too.....


I ended up not needing all the meals I planned last week. So one meal will be a repeat on the menu this week.

I made the chicken pot pie yesterday with enough made for leftovers tonight. So that is what's happening on Monday...


For the rest of the week...

Tacos
Same plan as last week. With tortilla chips and salsa on the side


Meatloaf
I'll make 2 large meatloaves (2#'s each) and that should last a couple nights. I'm planning on serving tater tots, green beans & bacon and a salad on the side.


If I need another meal it will most likely be Yummy Pinto Beans with cornbread and a salad.





Friday, November 13, 2015

Homemade Peppermint Flavored Coffee (YouTube)






Making your own flavored coffees at home is not only easy but very frugal as well. I've recently been enjoying an afternoon cup of peppermint coffee. It has been a nice treat to my day. This time of year, with the holidays right around the corner, peppermint is the flavor I start thinking about.

I made a quick video to show you how I do it. The recipe for the vanilla syrup (used for the coffee) is below the video. 



 


Vanilla Coffee Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1T vanilla extract

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan (or this can be done in the microwave as well). Heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Store in a canning jar in the fridge. Will last several weeks.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Pumpkin Chili


I made this a couple days ago. It was very good. Even my youngest son who says he only likes his squash when it's in a pie.. liked it!! It was a bit different than typical chili but a great change.




Pumpkin Chili


2T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
2lbs hamburger
2 cans chili beans (canned beans, 15oz size, seasoned with tomato sauce and seasonings)
2 cans (15oz) red beans
1 can (16oz) tomato sauce
3T chili powder
2t cumin
1 15oz can pumpkin puree
½ t cinnamon
2T brown sugar
2t salt
1t pepper

In a 4qt stock pot over medium heat add oil. Sautee onion, peppers and garlic. Add hamburger and cook until hamburger is no longer pink.

Add canned beans, do not drain beans of liquid. Also add seasonings, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, salt & pepper. Stir and let simmer to blend flavors. Taste and add more salt if you would like (according to taste).

Serve with tortilla chips & salsa and enjoy!!

NOTE: you can use 8 cups of home cooked beans in place of the canned beans... Or you can use 4 cans of the red beans if you'd like. You may want to play around with the spices and add more chili powder and cumin if you do.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Menu Monday!!


 



The rainy season is officially here in the PNW. After a very long dry summer, the rain seems to be here and cooler temps right along with it. Welcome fall! And welcome more time in the kitchen. Something about the rain and cooler temps makes me want to spend a little more time in the kitchen. Just feels homey I guess. There is nothing like the smells of soup and bread baking in the kitchen on a gray fall day. This weeks menu reflects a bit of this.

I'm planning 4 meals this week as I'm thinking some may not last us for more than meal.



Pumpkin Chili
Whenever I think of pumpkin of think sweet things, like muffins, cookies, pies, bread, etc. But pumpkin can have a savory side as well! :) I have some pumpkin in the fridge and decided this would be a good idea.  I'll share the recipe if turns out good. I plan on serving the soup with some garlic bread and a salad.


Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken pot pie
is a comfort food. Perfect for a cool fall evening. I'll make a big pan of chicken pot pie and will be able to warm up on my pie crust skills before the holidays! A nice big green salad will be served on the side.


Tacos w/all the trimmings
An easy quick meal for the week. I cook up and season the meat in one pan. I either make or use store bought refried beans and often mix them with a can of canned chili. My boys like that on their tacos. And then of course have chopped tomatoes, onions, and grated cheese on the side. Tortilla chips and salsa are must haves in our home to go along with this meal.


Lasagna Soup
If you love lasagna then you'll probably enjoy this soup. It is good! If I'm in the baking mood I may just make a batch of homemade dinner rolls to serve with this soup.


That is all for the week! How is your menu coming along?


 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Making Homemade Pizza (YouTube)



I finally made another YouTube video. I had to make some upgrades in a camera and that took some time. My hope is to keep working on more videos. My son Isaac helped me (my great cameraman! :). Hope you find it helpful!

In this video I'm showing you how to make homemade pizza. Starting with making the crust to the finished pizza.

Below the video you will find the recipe I used for the crust and a recipe for pizza sauce. In the video I used canned spaghetti sauce but if you'd like to make your own the recipe is included.

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Pizza Crust
Makes 2 – 14inch pizza crusts

4t yeast
1 ½ cup warm water
4 to 5 cups flour
2t salt
3T olive oil


In a mixer such as a Bosch or a Kitchen Aid add yeast and warm water. Let it sit for a few minutes to dissolve and activate. Add 4 cups of flour and all remaining ingredients. Mix dough well adding the extra flour until the dough does not stick to the sides of the bowl. Knead for about 4 minutes in the Bosch and 6 to 8 in the Kitchen Aid.

Cover and let rise for 45 minutes.

Punch down dough and shape into a ball and roll out to fit a 14 inch pizza pan.

Pre-bake pizza dough at 475 for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, add sauce and toppings. Return to oven (475 degrees) and bake 12 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden brown. 



Pizza Sauce
3- 8oz cans tomato sauce
1- 6oz can tomato paste
1T Italian seasonings
1t minced garlic, heaping
1t salt
pinch or two of cane juice crystals (or sugar) - according to your own tastes

Heat this up on the stove on low until hot.




Monday, November 2, 2015

Menu Monday!!


 



Last weeks menu worked well. I did add another pizza night. I have another planned next week. My son's girlfriend wants to learn how to make pizza so we have an evening planned to do just that. I guess I'm on a pizza roll at the moment. Tomorrow I'll be sharing how to make pizza as well.

I made the roasted chicken legs, mentioned last week, on Sunday. We are having leftovers tonight. I made buttered pasta and salad to go with this.

The rest of the week looks like this:


Pork Chops
Last week when I was shopping I found pork chops on sale. I grabbed a big package (6+ lbs) and divided it half for the freezer. I'm not sure how I'll cook them. Maybe in the crockpot with some bbq sauce. I'll serve rice and veggies/salad along side.


Cincinnati Chili w/trimmings
It's been some time since I made Cincinnati Chili. It's bacially a flavorful all meat chili that you serve over spaghetti noodles and top with chopped onions, tomatoes, grated cheese, beans (any type). I use a recipe that a friend sent me years ago. You can find it HERE.


And of course, Pizza (more on that tomorrow)


How is your meal planning coming along?

 
 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

So That's What Being Married Is....






The other day my husband walked to the end of our long driveway to get the mail. He saw our neighbor out and said hi to him. They chatted for quite a while. My hubby was ready to come back up to the house so he said to the neighbor, “I better get going or Crystal will put out a missing persons report”. He meant it humorously of course. The neighbor said to him, “So that is what being married is all about”. He is an older man.

At first I found the comment a little rude. Then I felt sorry for him. It is sad to think that he feels marriage is about someone else keeping tabs on you all the time. He has missed all the many beautiful things that make a marriage.



Dear Mr. Neighbor here are a few things that marriage is about...



Warm snuggles on the couch on a cool fall evening

A smile from across a room full of people

Dancing in the living room

A candlelight dinner at home

A hand to hold

Saying “I love you” hundreds of different ways in all the things you do for each other

Arms that wrap you in love when you need it the most

A kiss.. quick ones, long ones, passionate ones

A shower together

Someone to laugh with, someone who laughs at your dumb jokes, inside humor that only the two of you understand

Someone who 'gets' you

Living life with your best friend

Adventures together

Someone to share simple days with you

Someone who knows you, they know your morning breath and bed head.. and they still say, ”I love you”

Arguing about stupid things and then making up

Sacrifice and commitment

Flowers for no reason other than they thought of you that day

A text or an email because they were thinking of you

Comfort when you are sick

A listening ear when you just need to share what is on your mind

Someone who will pray for you, someone who will pray with you

A shoulder to cry on

Someone who loves all your physical imperfections because they know it's what makes you special to them

Someone who knows that what you need at this very moment is chocolate, or a glass of wine, or both ;)

Encouragement to do your best every day

Working together

Loving together

Walking through difficult times together

That warm body to sleep next to on a cold winters night

The person you can't wait to come home to

Someone that shows you every single day that love is an action

And yes Mr. Neighbor someone who cares enough about you to be concerned if you really are missing.

 


Marriage will have its ups and downs, no question. There will be difficult times, there will be struggles. Whenever you bring two imperfect people together there will be work necessary for living life together as one.

What seems to be missing for so many today is the understanding that marriage is a commitment of love and sacrifice and giving 100% for the betterment of the other. In that there is so much beauty, joy, companionship, devotion and love that grows more and more with each passing year. It is one of the best investments we can be blessed to make.


“I am my beloved and my beloved is mine.” -Song of Solomon 6:3