Showing posts from 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 f…

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 o…

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 …

Merry Christmas!


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!)
Dinner rolls
Cookie platter
for dessert

Are your Christmas dinner plans coming along?

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 Saus…

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 …

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 S…

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 som…

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 …

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:

Lay out your towels…

Sew them …

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 i…

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 t…

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...

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


Happy Thanksgiving!!!


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 man…

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 a…

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…

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...

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

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.

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.
Don't forget to sign up to my YouTube channel...  

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 coo…

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 …

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.

Don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel: 

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 n…

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 (an…

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 t…