Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Special Touches: Guests

Here are just a few of the things I like to do for guests when they come and stay with me:

Fix a yummy and pretty breakfast!
There is something so wonderful about waking up in a different place and smelling a yummy breakfast waiting for you!

Fix a favorite snack or treat!
I always make this Crispix mix when Grace comes -
we both love it!

Here's the recipe for anyone who is interested:
Melt 1 c. chocolate chips on high in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir and heat an additional 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in 1/4 c. peanut butter. Gently stir in 6 c. Crispix cereal (I use store brand). Place 1 c. powdered sugar in a large ziploc bag. Add cereal mixture and shake to coat. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Yummy!

Print out this neat poem (I can't remember where I read it originally) and place on their pillow or on the nightstand. A flower is a nice touch as well.
We're glad to have you as our guest
And hope you have a good night's rest!

Tomorrow you again may roam,
But while you're here just feel at home!

A Cozy Breakfast!

It has finally cooled off here and I am soaking up every drop of the cool weather! I love the cozy feeling inside with the heat on and have been listening to Christmas music!

I made this for breakfast and thought I'd share the recipe for anyone who might like to try it. Emily said, "Yummy breakfast!" and "Delicious!" - so it was an obvious winner for her!

Also, I made this the night before and put it in the fridge and then baked it when I got up the next morning, worked great.

Spiced Walnut Coffee Cake

1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
6 T. margarine or butter at room temperature
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour (I used 1/2 c. whole wheat and the rest all-purpose)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 c. buttermilk

2/3 c. flour
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. white sugar
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I used cinnamon because I didn't have 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice)
6 T. cold margarine or butter
1 2/3 c. chopped walnuts

1 c. powdered sugar
1-2 T. milk

For the cake: Cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Add baking powder, soda and pumpkin pie spice. Alternately add flour and buttermilk. Spread 1/2 off the batter in a greased 8x8 pan.

Topping: Cut together all ingredients except for the nuts. Stir in the nuts after cutting the rest together. Note: I left the nuts out so Rachel could eat this with only two teeth she does well, but nuts would be tough. Sprinkle 1/2 the topping on the batter.

Spread the remaining batter and then top with the rest of the topping. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes. Drizzle with powdered sugar glaze.

Recipe from: Family Circle 11/30/04

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Favorite Icing

This is the recipe I grew up eating and it is still my favorite! Enjoy!

3 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
Small drops of milk gradually added

Food coloring as desired

Mix all ingredients to the desire consistency with a hand mixer. This amount will frost one batch of sugar cookies or cupcakes or will fill and frost a two-layer 9 inch round cake (thin layer).

Deals of the Week

This is the week not to miss Rite Aid! They have an entire page of free-after-rebate items! Also, I tried to visit our Walgreens but it was closed due to some difficulty with the cash registers, so there isn't much to offer you there since I haven't been!

* Sterling 56K internal data/fax modem: $32.98 - $13 instant savings - $20 easy rebate = Free

* Soy Joy Bars: 4/$4 sale price - $4 Extra Bucks Reward = Free

* Buy 25 prints and get 25 free in the photo department. According to the coupon, these can be submitted online or in the store. Good on 4x6 prints.
* Oral-B Pulsar Toothbrush: $4.99 sale price - $4.99 Easy Saver Rebate = Free
* Polident Fresh Cleanse Foam: $4.49 sale price - $4.49 Easy Saver Rebate = Free
* Fasprin Low Dose Aspirin: $3.99 - $3.99 Easy Saver Rebate = Free

Rite Aid:
* Sea-Band Anti-Nausea Ginger Gum: $4.99 sale price - $4.99 Single Check Rebate = Free
* Oral-B Indicator Deep Clean Toothbrush: $1.99 sale price - $1.99 Single Check Rebate = Free
* Oral-B Toothbrushes (Advantage Glide, Artica, Cross Action, Vitalizer or Stages; excludes Cross Action Power): $2.79 sale price - $2.79 Single Check Rebate = Free
* Adidas Body Wash: $3.99 sale price - $3.99 Single Check Rebate = Free
* Modele Collagen Lip Treatment: $14.99 sale price - $14.99 Single Check Rebate = Free
* Brut Revolution Cologne: $10.00 sale price - $10.00 Single Check Rebate = Free
NYC select eye pencil, lipstick pencil, lip stick or nail enamel: $0.79 sale price - $0.79 Single Check Rebate = Free
* GE Power Source Power Strip 6 outlet: $4.00 sale price - $4.00 Single Check Rebate = Free
* GE Extension Cords 6, 9 or 15 ft: $2.00 sale price - $2.00 Single Check Rebate = Free
* Ciba Vision Clear Care Lens Solution: $4.99 sale price - $4.99 Single Check Rebate = Free
* Viva Eye Care: $5.99 sale price - $5.99 Single Check Rebate = Free
* Maxell T-120 VHS tape: $1.49 sale price - $1.49 Single Check Rebate = Free
* Philips Universal 3 Device Remote: $4.99 - $4.99 Single Check Rebate = Free
* Glucerna Cereal: $4.49 sale price - $4.49 Single Check Rebate = Free
* Multi-betic Multivitamin: $9.99 sale price - $9.99 Single Check Rebate = Free

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hayrides and Pumpkin Pie!

We had a fun evening out last night sponsored by our church celebrating Fall! This photo was taken on the hayride - Emily and Rachel's first one! It was a lot of fun!

I brought a pie for the pie contest and (gasp) was surprised it won first place. I have shared the recipe before (we won second with the same pie last year) but thought I would share it again for any new readers who might enjoy it! Here is the best part - I won a gift certificate to a local spa for a facial! Very fun.

Pumpkin Pie

One graham cracker crust

1-15 oz. can pumpkin
1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
*Mix these ingredients together and pour into crust. Bake for 15 minutes at 425. Then reduce oven heat to 350.

1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. cold butter
3/4 c. walnuts
*Mix together flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon - cut in butter. Stir in walnuts. Sprinkle over the pie when you reduce the oven. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.


Family Night: Pumpkins!

This week, we decided to carve our pumpkin. I'm not trying to get into a Halloween debate - but this Family Night really has nothing to do with Halloween. Carving a pumpkin is just something I remember being fun as a child and I wanted my girls to have the experience as well.

In typical fashion for me, I themed the whole night around the pumpkin. We started off with homemade pizza. I was inspired by an e-mail I got from Kraft Food & Family to make a pumpkin on the pizza. Their version involved dying the cheese and doing multiple pumpkins with no face. I decided it would be simpler to use cheddar cheese to make the pumpkin color and cut pepperoni to form the face!

I served Emily on our "You Are Special" plate. This is a plate I made years ago that incorporates the verse, "He counts the stars and calls them all by name..." I liked the idea because I hoped it communicated that if God knows each star by name, how much more He knows each of us by name. He knows how special we are and I hope Emily will eventually catch the meaning!

After dinner, we headed out to the porch to begin working on our pumpkin. First, I read the Pumpkin Patch Parable. It's a great book that uses a pumpkin and Scripture to explain to children about God choosing us, cleaning out all the yucky stuff inside and putting His light in us to shine out to all who see it.

Rachel gives the pumpkin a "hug" - cute!

Neither of the girls was exactly thrilled about the feeling of the slimy insides! Mama and Daddy cleaned out most of it!

But, they sure did love the results of seeing a face appear in the pumpkin!

And, both were excited about seeing it glow with a candle!

After oohing and aahing over the pumpkin for a few minutes, we came inside to decorate pumpkin shaped sugar cookies.

You can see that Rachel really enjoyed her cookie!

Emily had fun decorating with icing that she helped make!

Naturally, a cookie tastes much better with sprinkles and M&M's! Yummy!

We finished the evening off by watching It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown - another childhood memory for me.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Envelope Book

For those of you who asked for directions to the envelope book - here is everything you need to know!

Here are two books I've made - the top one you can see is being well-used for keeping all of my receipts. It would also work great for coupons and one friend even suggested using to collect different kinds of seeds for planting the next year!

Since I don't have all of the supplies handy to make one and create a tutorial - I am just going to show a couple of pictures and provide a link that will help. I saw this idea in a Christmas edition of Martha Stewart Living a few years ago and these are the same pictures that I learned to do it from.

For the books I made - I used scraps of mat board cut to the desired size. You can use any envelopes you want and make this any size you want - the sky is the limit! I did have a hard time finding book binding tape as the article suggests and ended up finding Tyvek tape at an art supply store (which was not cheap). Perhaps a library could help in acquiring a small amount of book binding tape? I do still have quite a bit of tape and would be happy to share to anyone who is interested, as long as it lasts!

First, create the cover. Cut two pieces of mat board (or heavy duty cardboard) a little larger than the size of the envelopes you are using. Tape together to create a "book". Now you can cover with the desired fabric - I just folded the edges over and glued with hot glue.

Next, bind the envelopes together (make sure they are all going the same way!) using the tape to create a booklet of envelopes. Tape the envelopes inside the book front and back covers. You may have to make a slit at the top and bottom edge so that the fabric lays underneath it.

I cut a small slit in the fabric of each edge to glue in a piece of twine to create the tie. A velum tag was glued on the front for labeling.

Is that clear as mud? I hope I have not made this sound complicated - it is not! Have fun creating!

Fire Truck starts with "F"

We've been trying to do one activity that starts with each letter of the alphabet starting this Fall and are up to the Letter "F". Our friend, Mr. Brian (my friend Melissa's husband) is a firefighter and graciously allowed us to come and visit!

Rachel gets to "drive" the truck!

Emily's turn to "drive" - this is fun!

Wow - this truck is BIG up close! The two little ladies have fun standing up on the ledge at the front of the truck!

Emily and Mr. Brian!

Mr. Brian put all of his gear on so Emily would see what it would look like if someone ever came to help her in a fire and so that she would not be scared. I thought this was such a great idea and had not realized how intimidating it would seem to a small child. This was great because it was someone she knew - though, she did get very uncertain about all of these gadgets. Mr. Brian taught her that when she sees someone dressed like that she should say, "Here I am, come get me." So that it will help a firefighter find her in case of a fire.

She did warm up a little in the end when he took the oxygen mask off and gave him a big hug!

Thank you, Mr. Brian! We had fun!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Updated Feeds, Readers and Subscriptions!

Thank you for the feedback in the comments and via e-mail on how to get my blog up to date with the technology! (Meredith - your details were especially helpful!)

Two features I set up for your reading convenience are:

* Subscribe via your reader of choice: Bloglines, Google Reader, etc...
* E-mail subscription - click the link and subscribe to receive all posted updates by e-mail.

Both links are located under the "Credits" heading at right.

I appreciate all of your help and especially your patience as I am learning! Hope this helps!

Hodge Podge

* Several of you asked how to make these pumpkins, you can find the directions here. Thanks, Grace!

* I loved this link to multiple Bingo games to take with you to the grocery store, dr. office, etc... Perfect for these times you need some entertainment!

* Following up on the Pumpkin Butter - several of you commented that you weren't sure it was safe to can this at home. I wrote to the Ball Canning customer service and they replied that they do not recommend canning pureed vegetables at home as it is hard to reach the appropriate and safe temperature in pureed foods like this. So, I guess I can scratch that off of my list.

* Now, I am completely ignorant in this one: a couple of you have asked if there is a way to link to get automatic updates each time I post or to subscribe via Google Reader. I've also been asked for my RSS feed, etc... One kind reader even offered to help me set it up, but I'm afraid I scared her away with my ignorance. Any suggestions? I'd love to help get this going so it is more convenient for everyone - but honestly, do not know where to start. Thank you in advance for your patience and help!

* Several of you have also asked for directions on making the Envelope Book and I am happy to provide them - be watching soon for all the details!

* I love getting all of your e-mails and questions, and I thank you for your patience as I get around to answering each one! Just so you all know - I save each question from you in my e-mail until it gets answered - so if you haven't seen your answer yet, just keep watching! Thanks!

Christmas Countdown

I know I shared about this great website last year, but it is worth mentioning again! And, this week marks the beginning of the countdown to being organized for Christmas!

I am using the notebook that my sister made me last year and getting busy on week one! Traditionally, I make all of our Christmas cards and envelopes. But, knowing I have several other projects to finish before Christmas - I painfully decided to skip the cards this year. My compromise was to make the envelopes which will include a letter and family photo.

I always purchase the paper for the letters on the after-Christmas sale for $1 a package. I did not purchase labels last year (I guess, I could not find them if I did!) so, took plain white labels and stamped them. Very quick - but makes them look more festive! Tuesday, during nap time - I made the envelopes. Total spent for all supplies: $2

It feels so good to have this done! Yesterday, I went through and printed out a Master Gift List and the Holiday Values Worksheet which will be my assignment for the rest of the week. As I looked at the Values worksheet - I thought of more questions to ask myself: Which words would describe our ideal Christmas season? Memorable, worshipful, peaceful, meaningful, etc... How can I incorporate those things? How can I increase the spiritual focus of our time together as family? It is encouraging to think and pray through these ideas and thoughts.

Here is a complete list of things to consider completing this week. Note: I tried to buy the stamps and was told they will be available after October 28, so I will do that next week.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Potato Soup

This is my favorite soup recipe! We love it and I hope you will enjoy it too!

2 c. chicken broth or water
2 c. diced potatoes
1/4 c. diced onion
salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Bring the above ingredients to a boil and simmer until potatoes are tender.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine:
2 c. milk
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. butter or margarine

Microwave on high for four minutes whisking half-way through. Stir into soup.

Stir in 2 c. shredded cheese (cheddar or Mexican blend is what I use)

Serve when cheese is melted and combined.

Missy: a cozy soup supper sounds delightful! I did that one year for my husband's coworkers - you can read more about it here.


This appeared, wrapped very cute, at my front door on Monday afternoon! What a special treat from my sweet friends!

Isn't it just a charming shape? I love it! Can you guess? It is enamelware! You already know how much I love that! And, the color is just perfect for Fall! I think it would look so perfect with a bunch of sunflowers in it! I might just have to grow some to see how it looks!

Thank you, friends, for such a sweet blessing and encouragement on my day!

Psalm 16

Dear Lord,

For each one who visits here today and reads these words - I pray that You would protect us. Surround us with Your wings and hedge of safety. Teach us to find our refuge exclusively in You.

Let us say with David, "You are my Lord, apart from You I have no good thing."

There are many around us who share in the inheritance of eternity with You ~ let us rejoice with them and delight in encouraging in and praying for one another. Please bring to our minds any specific needs You would like us to pray for today.

Keep us from following after other gods which will not bring us meaning, happiness or life. Instead, we will receive sorrow, death and emptiness.

Lord, You have given me my assignment in life and have made my future secure. Let me rest in You and in Your choices for me. Thank You for the promise of an inheritance shared with You and the joy and hope it brings me even in this life.

Lord, I praise and thank You that You are my Counselor. I pray that the meditations of my heart will be pleasing to You and that I might receive Your instruction at any time You choose to give it.

Train us to set our eyes upon You and keep You in the front of our minds. Thank You for the confidence that because You are always with us and at our right hand, nothing can shake us away from You if we hold on in Your strength.

My heart is full of gladness and rejoicing because of who You are, Lord. I rest myself securely in You because You will not leave me alone to die - death is not the end, but truly the beginning for us and we rejoice in this truth!

You have made known to us the path of life and we choose to take it! We anticipate being filled with joy in Your presence and eternal pleasures that come from Your hand.

Watch over us and our hearts this day Lord. Let us please You in all we do and walk with You throughout each moment.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Autumn Lunch Alfresco

Saturday was a lovely afternoon and perfect for our plan to enjoy lunch on the porch! I set up a round card table and put out a pretty tablecloth. I carved a spot in a mini decorative pumpkin for a tea light candle and that made a pretty centerpiece!

Vintage ice cream containers were filled with mini pumpkins and ivy for take-home goodies. I made the place cards out of a piece of scrapbook paper cut and folded in half. I stitched the name of the guest on a piece of felt and attached with mini brads!

Lunch included cheddar scones made into ham sandwiches, sliced apple and creamy potato cheese soup!

What a treat to have two such dear friends at my table at the same time! Melissa, Grace and I enjoy a relaxing lunch!

After lunch, we went to the 2008 Country Living House of the Year! I wasn't allowed to post pictures from inside since they will be in the Feb. 2008 issue - but be watching for the laundry room and sitting room/library! Those were our favorite spots!

Cupcakes were waiting for us when we got home! A tasty treat!

Next we glittered our pumpkins! We painted the stems brown first.

Pumpkins before!

Oooh! Look at the sparkling glitter! We agreed that this glitter felt luxurious! And, a little goes a long way - we each have enough glitter to last a long time!

I put my three pumpkins on top of the cabinet here - I love how they catch the light and sparkle!

I brought the mini pumpkin inside and used it for our centerpiece at dinner as well, perched on this pedestal candle holder, it looked so charming!

Deals for the Week

Rite Aid:
* Bausch & Lomb Renu Multiplus 2 pack eye drops: $8.99 - $8.99 mail-in-rebate = free
* GE Extra soft white light bulbs, 4 pack: 2/$2 sale price - $2 mail-in-rebate = free
* Pepcid AC: $3.99 sale price - $3.99 mail-in-rebate = free

* Energizer 8-pack batteries: $5.29 sale price; buy 2 and receive $5 in Extra Bucks
* Alka Seltzer: $4.99 sale price - use 0.75 mfr. coupon in Sunday's paper
* Alka Seltzer Mucous and Congestion: $4.99 sale price - use $3.00 mfr. coupon from Sunday's paper and when purchasing two - receive $5 in Extra Bucks

** Combine this entire sale to spend $20 and use this coupon. Total spent: $2.81 for entire purchase. Also, note that there are lots of other deals listed here - but I did not have the coupons to make these good deals.

Walgreens: (I did two transactions this week to get the most for my dollar.)
* Transaction One: Buy two Keri Milk Body Lotion at $10.00 each (sale price); use two $3.00 mfr. coupons in Sunday's paper. Receive $12 in Register Rewards. Total spent: $2.00

* Transaction Two: Buy two Genteal Eye Drops at $7.00 each (sale price) and one Keri lotion for $6.00 (sale price); use two $3.00 mfr. coupons on the eye drops and one $1.00 mfr. coupon on the Keri and receive $12 in Register Rewards. Total spent: $1.00

* Band-Aids: 0.99 sale price; 0.50 mfr. coupon = 0.49 each
* Crest Toothpaste: 1.99 sale price; $1.00 coupon in Easy Saver Catalog; $1.00 mfr. coupon = free. I found packages with free samples attached as well for an extra bonus and was able to use the Easy Saver coupon twice - so got two free.
* Always: 3/$8 - buy 4; use two B1G1 free coupons and two 0.50 cent off coupons from a recent Sunday paper = $4.33 for four packages.

Anything I missed? Hope you can all get in on some of the great deals this week!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Commitment to Loveliness

I am often so compelled to participate when I read these posts over at Charming the Birds From the Trees and decided to jump in and start! She suggests that you simply choose five things that will increase loveliness in your life this week.

Here is my list:

1. Begin working on my Christmas countdown. (more on this later in the week)

2. Clean up the piles on my kitchen counter and closet floors!

3. Establish and keep a prayer time.

4. Make Pumpkin Butter and can it for gift-giving this Christmas season!

5. Do something special for David this week to encourage and build him up.

If you would like to join, please visit the above link!

Giveaway Winner!

Thank you so much for all of your wonderful comments on the giveaway post! I was so very encouraged and wish I could send each of you a box of goodies!

The winner of the goodie box is Crafty Mama! Please e-mail me your address so your box can get on its way!

Thanks again to everyone!

Harvest Party!

The night before the party, my friend Grace had just arrived, and we were sitting up late chatting when we heard rain. Oh no! I was afraid of it continuing the next morning, but I just decided to pray about it. I prayed that if it was better in God's plan for it to rain and my guests not to come, that we would all not be too disappointed about it.

When I got up Friday morning, it was a bit cloudy and too early to tell what the weather would do - but I walked out to put a bill in the mailbox before we got going for the day and looked up between the trees to see a faint rainbow! It was so beautiful and I felt like God put that there for me to remind me of His promise! I did not take this as a "sign" that it would not rain and our day would be perfect, but as a reminder that He is in control and I can rest in that. And, as a sweet comfort that He knows about me. Knows my name, knows my hopes and dreams, and knows my heart. I felt personally known by God at that moment. After taking it in for a moment, I ran into the house to get my camera, but the rainbow was gone by the time I got back. That's ok - the picture in my mind and heart are enough for me!

As we continued to prepare, it was touch and go - wondering if it would rain or not! In the end, the rain held off and we all had a great time! Here are some pictures from the morning:

Please take one of the popcorn favors!

Emily with her decorated pumpkin!

Emily and Brianna in the pumpkin patch!

Trying the sack race!

My friend, Grace, brought me these cute pumpkins that she made - aren't they the perfect welcome to the Harvest Party?!

Trying the 3-legged race!

Bean Bag Toss

Decorating Cupcakes

Bobbing for Apples

The Thankful Tree!

One of my favorite "thankful leaves" - thankful for a giraffe!