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) . ...