Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

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Be safe, have fun and remember to give your loved ones a hug!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday's Tip

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Halloween is fun but it can be some cause for concern so the best way to enjoy the night is to play it safe.  Here are some tips that I found which will ensure a great night for you and your little ones.

  • Have adult supervision. Accompany your kids if you don’t think they’re old enough to trick-or-treat on their own.
  • There is safety in numbers. If they’re old enough to trick-or-treat without an adult, tell your kids to stay in a group.
  • Map out your plan. Designate a route before your kids begin trick-or-treating, and make sure they stick to it.
  • Take the long way 'round. Have your kids trick-or-treat in areas where there are a lot of people around. They should also avoid taking short-cuts through alleys and parking lots.
  • Try tick-or-treat-friendly homes. Ensure your kids only visit houses with lights on. And, you might also suggest the houses they visit have some sort of Halloween decoration on the porch.
  • Stay outside. Make sure your kids don’t go inside someone’s house. They can get their candy from the porch.
  • Remain visible. Dress your kids in a bright costume so others can see them. If their costume is dark, have your kids wear reflective strips or carry a glow stick or flashlight.
  • Remember, shorter = safer.Goes without saying but just in case you forget, ensure your kids’ costumes aren’t so long that they can trip over them.
  • Don't cover the face. Instead of masks, have your kids wear make-up so they can see better.
  • Quality-check treats. Check your kids’ candy before they eat it. Throw out any candy that is not in its original wrapper or looks like it has been tampered with.
  • Say "no" to strangers.Tell your kids to never accept a ride or go anywhere with a stranger.
  • Obey the law. Encourage your kids to follow all the regular rules for walking around. That includes looking both ways before crossing, obeying all traffic laws and using cross walks and crossing lights where available.
  • Have a great time! Finally, make sure your kids have tons of fun and get lots and lots of candy.
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Have a great time and remember to give your loved ones a hug!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Strawberry and Banana Trifle

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Another recipe, boy I have been baking and cooking a lot!  This is a recipe that I have had f.o.r.e.v.e.r.  It is wonderful that it is easily adaptable to the fruits that are in season, to different flavored cake mixes, puddings and jello that you might have on hand.

This dessert is light and airy.  Hardly filling which can be dangerous as sometimes I could eat the whole thing myself!  I was lucky to be gifted a trifle bowl by my sister-in-law so it makes it look extra special.  Perfect for a pot-luck, family gathering, holiday or like for us .... just Sunday dessert.

So let's get started!

Make two packages of instant pudding using the package directions.  Any flavor.  I happened to have banana cream on hand so that was the flavor today.  Let it set and cool in the refrigerator as directed.

Bake a cake in a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Any flavor.  Since I was using fresh strawberries, I decided to try a strawberry boxed cake.  You can make a cake from scratch but I am working through my pantry, using items that are getting close to the expiry date.  I usually don't have boxed mixes on hand but when they are dropped to a deep discount of .49 cents a piece I can't refuse picking some up.

If using a boxed mix or from scratch, make and bake it as directed.  Let the cake cool and cut it into bite sized pieces.  

Grab some fresh fruit.  Bananas seem to be NEEDED in this recipe. Anything else can be used along with it but nanners seem to make trifle.  Clean and cut up the fruit.  

Once the pudding is set, the cake is cooled and cut and the fruit cleaned and sliced it is time to put it all together.   Grab your trifle bowl or whatever you are using but be warned .... you need a LARGE bowl.  My trifle bowl holds 20 cups!  

Start layering the cake and the fruit, in between drop large spoonfuls of pudding between all the cake and fruit.  Keep layering until you have used everything up.

When you have it about all layered using up all the cake, fruit and pudding, mix up a jello gelatin package according to the directions.  Instead of letting it cool, pour the mixture over the whole thing.  Yes, the gelatin will still be hot but it is okay.  

The gelatin is meant to soak into the cake. 

The final step is to layer the whole thing with a tub of cool whip spreading it with the back of a spoon.  I use the 'light' cool whip to reduce the calories.  LOL

Since I had some strawberries left over, I added them to the top for garnish.

Pure yumminess.  Store in the refrigerator ..... if it lasts that long.

An end of season delight.  Remember to give your loved ones a hug!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday's Blessings

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this week I was loved the .....

smell of :  fall in all its glory

sound of :  the clicking of my knitting needles

taste of :  homemade banana and almond bread

sight of :  Halloween costumes

feel of :  fluffy mittens

things I am thankful for this week .....

- my little, tiny amount of free time

-  my kitty who curls up with me under the quilt on a frosty evening

-  my corner on the sofa after a long day at work

Have a blessed Sunday and remember to give your loved ones a hug!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday's Snaps

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Have a great Saturday and remember to give your loved ones a hug!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Autumn Curtains and Pillowcases for the Bedroom

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As mentioned here, it was time to get moving on those autumn curtains and pillowcases for the bedroom .... soon the snow will be flying and the quilt will need to be changed out to the winter one!  Yikes, time moves way to fast for me ... as do the seasons.

Last year when I picked up this autumn-themed quilt on sale for only $6.00, I had made a set of pillowcases for it to match and a little nightstand table runner (if you can call it that, it is so small) but the hubster and I use two pillows each so another set of pillowcases was needed as was the curtains.  These quilts are from a big box store and I have picked up one for autumn, one for summer, one for winter and one for summer so far ... I just need one for spring!   They do not come with pillowcases or pillow shams.

My fabric stash is getting out of control and I want to tame and lighten it a bit before buying more soooooo that means I have to find something to sew!  New curtains and pillowcases are a great start.  Since I have to make the same for all of my quilts, it should help reduce the stash a bit.  

Old curtains .....

Found some gingham ....  who doesn't love gingham?  New curtains!

Then I had enough of the gingham (if I added a large matching hem) for the pillowcases.

The autumn set is DONE!  

Now I better get started on the Christmas set ..... that will be here before I know it.

Remember to give your loved ones a hug!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thrifty Thursday

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It is Thrifty Thursday ... again!  Boy the weeks sure fly by.

A cute little teacup and saucer with real gold trim!  $1.99.....I really don't think the ladies knew what they were selling ..,,. but it was to my advantage.  I don't collect teacups but this little beauty caught my eye.

Next up .... perfect for those evenings when the sun sets early and we are on the winter clock.  Instead of bright lamp light, how about a soft lantern light?  Just like the pioneers .... only $3.00.

Even the wick is still in great shape!  Happy thrifting and remember to give your loved ones a hug.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Brown Gravy Mix

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I use these Brown Gravy Mixes quite a bit when I am cooking

.... I know, I know ... yuck right?  They do come in handy though. I find them useful for meals like shepherd's pie, hot beef sandwiches (when there is roast beef left over from the previous day's meal), for throwing in a package when a pot of stew is almost ready or even when I am in a rush and need something for mashed potatoes.

The worst part about them however is they are quite expensive.  Sometimes I can get them on sale at 3 packs for .99 cents but usually they run about .50 cents a pack.  I think that is outrageous especially when I know it is probably just cornstarch and some beef bullion.  So I was on the hunt to find a recipe to make my own ....

and I found it!  It was on the Our Country Haven Forum site ... now I have never seen this site before but it needs to be explored further.  It looks fantastic.  So I thought I would share it with you.  Now I didn't figure out the cost of how much it cost to make this batch but I would assume it was pretty cheap ... it makes the equivalent to 24 of those little packages!!!!  So that would run me at least $12.00 and I know it didn't cost that much.

Brown Gravy Mix

1 2/3 cup of cornstarch
6 tablespoons of low sodium beef bullion or granules
4 teaspoons of instant coffee crystals or powder
2 teaspoons of onion powder
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 teaspoon of paprika

Combine and store in an airtight container.

To Use:

Use 3 tablespoons of mix to 1 1/2 cups of water in a pan.  
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and stir for one minute.

I love, love, love it!  No more of those expensive pre-packaged mixes.

Now the same site had a chicken gravy mix recipe so I am happy to share that as well BUT I have not tried this one yet so I am unsure of the taste.  If it is anything like the brown gravy, it will be a winner. It doesn't however make as much ..... or at least you have to use quite a bit more to make the gravy so it looks like this recipe is only the equivalent of about 6 pre-packaged mixes.

Chicken Gravy Mix

1 1/3 cups of instant non-fat dry milk powder
3/4 cup of flour
3 tablespoons of instant chicken bullion or granules
1/4 teaspoon of ground sage
1/8 teaspoon of ground thyme
1/8 teaspoon of ground pepper

Combine and stir with a wire whisk to blend.  
Spoon into a 3 cup air-tight container and store in pantry.

To Use:

Combine 1/2 cup of mix, 1 cup of water, and 1 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a saucepan.
Whisk constantly over medium heat until smooth and thick (2-3 minutes).

Another great staple to add to the pantry at the fraction of the cost!  I hope this helps some of you as well.  Remember to give your loved ones a hug!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday's Tip

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Some of us use coffee grinders.  Sometimes not only to grind coffee!  After a while the blades in the coffee grinders can get dull and can be difficult to sharpen.  Instead of giving up and selling it at a yard sale, donating it to Goodwill or *gasp* tossing it out .... give this a try.


Sharpen the blades by running a cup of rice through it!  Your blades will be sharp, the grinder saved from the landfill and fresh coffee will be brewed in no time.  

Now what to do with the ground up rice?...hmmmm.  Remember to give your loved ones a hug!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pumpkin Toffee Muffins with Cream Cheese Glaze

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October is the month for PUMPKIN!!!  I love pumpkin and since we see them everywhere, I just have to eat it .... in many, many different ways.  The following is just one way that I have been using pumpkin.

I found the recipe here but you know me ... I never follow a recipe or a pattern exactly the same.  So instead of Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Muffins, it was Pumpkin-Toffee Muffins!  Mostly due to the fact that I was out of chocolate chips but boy they turned out oh so good.  This will definitely become a staple in our household in October.

Pumpkin Toffee (or Chocolate Chip if you so desire)Muffins with Cream Cheese Glaze

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup applesauce
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups of toffee chips (or chocolate chips)

In a large mixing bowl, mix egg, sugar, pumpkin, vegetable oil and applesauce until smooth.  
In another bowl,  combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Add to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
Fold in toffee chips.
Filled greased or paper-lined muffin tins 3/4 full.
Bake at 400 degrees for 16 to 20 minutes or until muffins test done 
by inserting a toothpick and it comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes.
Move to wire rack to finish cooling.
If desired, add cream cheese glaze and toffee chips.

Cream Cheese Glaze

1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1 cup icing sugar

Mix cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth.
Thin with water until it becomes smooth enough to drizzle with a spoon over muffins.
Sprinkle with toffee chips.

Now I just need a pumpkin latte .... anyone with a recipe?  Remember to give your loved ones a hug!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday's Blessings

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this week I loved the .....

smell of :  chalkboards

sound of :  the chattering of children at my new job!

taste of :  homemade kfc

sight of :  snow

feel of :  cozy quilts

this week I am thankful for .....

-  excitement in my son's voice when talking about his classes

-  photocopiers

-  my new job

Have a blessed Sunday and remember to give your loved ones a hug!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday's Snaps

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Enjoy your Saturday and remember to give your loved ones a hug!
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