Friday, November 28, 2008

Day After Thanksgiving Sales

Was it just me or were the sales for the day after Thanksgiving lame? On Thursday night we poured through the ads in hopes that the few things that were on our list were on sale. We were disappointed with the ads and the department stores. We thought that with the economy suffering the way it is, there would be some incredible deals out there to entice the consumer to purchase.

No, we did not get up before dawn and stand in line. We got up when we felt like it and headed out around mid morning to a few stores and the mall to hang out and meander around. We did get a few things on our list, but no great bargains were out there for what we were interested in buying. Our family is being frugal and simple with presents this year. We are also making homemade gifts to give out to family and friends.

I did take my receipt back to Video Only (for our new TV that we got two weeks ago) and got a refund for $151.00 It was cheaper today, than when we got it on sale then. Not bad, there is a little extra cash for some Christmas gifts.

For those of you that braved the crowds, I hope that you found better deals than we did.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Homemade Gifts

Last week I celebrated my 39th birthday. I think I'm handling it well. The only major change is that I cut and colored my hair. We'll see if the big 40 next year will be a mid life crisis for me or not. I did appreciate the phone calls, e-mails, b-day cards and knocks on my door with a little something for me, from my dear friends. I feel truly blessed to be loved and thought of so dearly.

I thought I'd brag about this gift from my dear friend April, because it was homemade and would be simple to make and give to others for the holidays. It is homemade Double Chocolate Cocoa. She put it in this really tall ginormous glass that can hold a gallon size Ziploc bag full of cocoa. There are different types of recipes you could use too.

I too have made them as Christmas gifts about five years ago for family and put them in snowman jars. You can put the cocoa in mason jars or in a cute jar or glass like this one that maybe you can find at a thrift store. Add a little ribbon and card with instructions and there you go. Thrifty and delicious. Keep a look out for what I have in store for the ginormous glass my cocoa came in. Can you guess what I'm going to do with it?

Hot Cocoa Recipe
10 cups dry powdered milk
4 3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups powdered non-dairy creamer
1 tsp salt
Mix all together and store in an airtight container. Makes about 15 cups of mix or 45 servings. For one serving add 1/3 cup cocoa mix with 3/4 cups of boiling water, stir and enjoy. You may want to add mini marshmallows or a dollop of whip cream on top.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A big bowl of comfort

Ahh!!! Fall is here and winter is just around the corner. I just love making soups, stoups and stews. Whether it is a classic like chicken noodle, tomato or potato soup, or a hearty beef stew or a comforting bowl of navy bean soup over fried potatoes and onions.... or a new recipe like Reuben Soup or Cacciatore Stoup. There is nothing like a steaming bowl of pure comfort to take the chill off and add warmth to your soul.

When I make a soup or stew I make it in the largest pot I have and sometimes I make it in two pots. I ladle the leftovers into two cup containers and freeze them. They are quick and easy meals to thaw and reheat for lunch or dinner. They make great gifts too! I have brought them to a sick friend and have given them to other families in need of a meal. I have even donated a few containers of soup to one of our church bake sales and they were auctioned off. The recipients begged for the recipe.

This is a bowl of my homemade Vegetable Beef soup that has eleven vegetables in it. It is incredibly delicious. I also make a couple dozen Potato Rolls to soak up that wonderful broth. I'll post the recipes soon for you to enjoy. What is your favorite bowl of soup?

Be Inspired to warm your families heart and belly's with a big bowl of comfort.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Jammin Day

Our family just loves freezer jam. The fruit tastes the freshest and the sugar content is far less than the store bought or the home canned type. Freezer jam is so easy to make and you could make it in under ten minutes. These are my Marion berry and Yellow Plum in half pints. They are both delish on toast or a nice big fluffy biscuit. Raspberry is my favorite and Strawberry is my family's favorite. What is your favorite kind of jam or jelly?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tip of the Week

Tomato Paste in a tube is my fave this week in the kitchen. Have you ever had a recipe calling for tomato paste and you only need a teaspoon or a Tablespoon? You buy it in a small can and end up throwing it away because you don't have another reason to use it right away or it goes funky in the fridge.

Well, I've seen the Celebrity Chefs use this and Rachael Ray uses it all of the time. You can get it at your local gourmet grocer or even at Walmart. It is "Double Concentrated" and so you end up using less. Once open you store it in the fridge and can use it for many uses. I use it in soups, broths, pasta dishes, sauces etc... I like that it is an item that prevents me from wasting food and can serve multi purposes in one little tube.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day & Shopping

Happy Veteran's Day to those who have and are serving our Country. Thank You for our freedom and your dedicated honor and service. My Dear Hubby was a former Army Veteran and I am proud of him dearly. I wish that I had known him when he was serving (we met shortly after he was honorably discharged). I have a thing for a Man in Uniform. But... that is a story for later or maybe not. Hubba! Hubba!

While out and about today doing errands I went to a local thrift store (Value Village) that was having their 50% off on all items for Veteran's Day. I picked up a cute piano/music station ($2.50) for my littlest sweet cheek who is 10 months old. I also picked up some Old Navy snow pants and snow suits (less than $5) for the kids for our vacation in December to Leavenworth Washington. I also found a ton of really cute princess dresses and other clothes for the lil sweet cheeks. For my pre-teen I got him a brand new pair of Old Navy Camo Cargo Shorts with tags on them, he loved them. I found myself a couple of jackets and tops. I also found a cute book called "In a Pickle or a Jam" with tons of canning recipes. For Dear Hubby, nothing. He is picky and he wasn't with me. Daddy was at home playing with our sweet cheeks while I got to go out for a few hours, BY MYSELF! Isn't he just sweet?

I tried to find something for the house to decorate with, but they really didn't have a thing that looked worth buying or I couldn't live without. Ho hum. But I did enjoy my excursion. Bargain shopping can be so much fun.

Easy Breezy

Kitchen Gadgets
This apple peeler, corer, slicer was a good purchase ($19.99 - 5.00 off coupon = $14.99 at Bed, Bath and Beyond). I was peeling, coring and slicing apples and pears on my own with a paring knife and the fruit would turn brown really fast and they would be too thick or uneven. So I purchased this gadget and thought I'd give it a try. WOW!!! It is quick, easy and the slices are even and look awesome. I didn't even get a chance to use it for a while. My pre-teen son loved using it and enjoyed helping in the kitchen.
Also shown in the photos is my semi new Nesco Food Dehydrator. I wanted one of these for a while, but was being frugal and didn't want to buy it for full price at the store or Online. I happened to stumble on this great find at a garage sale and scooped it up for $15.00 which saved me about $40.00. It had only been used once to dry strawberry's and then sat in a garage. It came with four trays but could stack up to twelve. Now I'm on the lookout for more trays. We've dried apples, pears and kiwi so far. They taste wonderful and make great healthy snacks and an added treat for sack lunches. Does anyone else dry foods and what is some of your favorites?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weekly Menu Plan

Sun - Potluck Sunday at Church (I made Shepherds Pie, *Supreme Pizza Pasta & Pineapple right side up cake)

Mon - Leftovers for us Mac & Cheese for the kiddos

Tue - Chefs Salad and Garlic Toast

Wed - Vegetable Beef Soup (with 10 vegi's)

Thu - Hamburgers and Roasted Fries

Fri - Leftovers

Sat - Baked Chicken and Rice Pilaf

*New Recipe

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bakers Helper

Holy gadgets batman!

Here are a few of my latest bargain finds for my kitchen. I just love Ross, I always seem to find something for my home, kitchen or family. Here I purchased a bronze cookbook holder ($2.99) and a wooden pastry rolling pin ($4.99).

The cookbook holder holds my latest cookbook or my personal family cookbook. It holds the book open and keeps me from touching it or dripping something on it. The pastry rolling pin is awesome for pie crusts, cinnamon rolls, pizza dough etc... With a regular rolling pin the barrel is a lot shorter and you get indentations in your dough or pastry and may cause an uneven thickness in areas. These are great tools and I use them all the time.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Kitchen Garbage Bowl

I like this idea from Rachael Ray, to use a plastic bowl to put produce waste, recipe prep trash, crumbs etc... in and then tossing it out all at once. However, I didn't want to spend over $20.00 for her recycled garbage bowl that she sells at the gourmet cooking store in town. I was trying to be frugal. So, I found this bowl at Bi-mart for $2.49 It came in four different sizes and colors to choose from. I chose one that would compliment my kitchen colors and chose the size I would like to use most. It sure saves me from stepping on my garbage can pedal dozens of times.

Homemade Chicken Stock

I buy a roasted chicken or two at Costco each month and realized that I have been tossing out the bones and skin and not making stock out of it. If I don't have time I can toss the carcass in the freezer in a Ziploc bag for later or boil some up right away. This week I made chicken enchilada casserole and roasted chicken noodle soup. The soup was divine and hearty.

Homemade Chicken Stock

Two chicken carcasses with skin
Onion quartered
Handful on Carrots
Head of Garlic cut in half
Salt and Pepper
Garlic Salt

Bring stock to a full boil and then turn down to a low boil and cover for and hour or so. Drain through a sieve or strainer. Skim off fat after cooled. You can use it right away or freeze in containers for later.

Girlfriends Getaway

In Central Oregon

The Sisters Three Mountains in Central Oregon

My frugal floral bargain find at Goodwill $6.99

Artwork statuary's in the Condo at Eagle Crest Resort

Pampered Pedicures by the fire. I'm in the middle.
We had a great time on our girls getaway to Redmond Oregon at Eagle Crest Resort. I blessed my two friends April and Teriann to a 3 night stay. My two littlest sweet cheeks came along too. We didn't take many photos or do much outside of the condo. We have been so busy canning, baking, drying food, getting husbands off to Elk Hunting, getting ready for our Women's Church Retreat, schooling, appointments....... that we decided to relax and quit running around. We wanted to relax, connect and focus on us for a change.
We didn't get much sleep because we stayed up until 2 AM each night chatting and laughing. The statuary artwork happened to be pretty funny to look at after you had a couple of night caps. They seemed to be staring at us and was kind of creepy.
I ventured out on a hike the first morning very early. My two sweet cheeks awoke too early, so I decided to take them out in the double stroller on a hike, so my girlie's could sleep in. One has three children and runs a daycare and the other has eight children and they don't get the luxury to sleep in. What mother has the luxury to sleep in? It doesn't happen. What I thought would be a two mile or so hike ended up being about an eight mile hike on really steep terrain and I got lost. So I really got a workout in.
We went bargain shopping one day at Goodwill. That was pretty funny. We went all the way to Central Oregon to go to Goodwill. Go figure. We all got some frugal finds. I also picked up a couple of cookbooks that you prepare and make ahead recipes/meals and freeze them for later.
We menu planned for the trip and cooked all of our meals at the Condo. We only ate out for brunch in Sisters on the way back home. We also menu planned together for the month and gave each other new ideas for our families.
We did pedicures at the condo in front of the fire. I brought all of the supplies and we enjoyed the conversation and pampering treat while my little sweet cheeks were fast asleep.
We had so much fun. Hope that we can do it again and soon.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Proud to be an American

The Election this year was amazing in so many ways. This is the first time that I have been so focused on the election and content. The voter turnout was phenomenal, I believe I heard that we had 14 million more voters than the last election. That is huge and the youth came forward and wanted to make a difference. Hopefully the future generation(s) will continue to be concerned and involved in the voting process. I am however relieved that it is over and we can pursue on in life with out the commercials, advertisements, political phone calls, door to door party canvasing etc... I hope to see Change in the Future.

I will remain private on who I voted for because it is my right, personal choice and I don't care to discuss political differences. My husband and I even had concerns and differences and we were careful not to sway one another. We dropped off our ballots the morning of and on election night we had finished our Election Dinner and watched the TV for the latest information and then the big announcement came. President- Elect Barack Obama!

It was no surprise due to the prior polls, but yet it was surreal. History was made. Whoever your choice to vote for was, it was amazing to see history change right before our eyes. It was emotional for my husband and I and we are proud to be an American with the rights and freedoms we have in this Country. It doesn't matter what color your skin is we are all equal. The Media stated that Barack was judged on his character not his skin color, I believe that to be true.

John McCain's conceding speech was humble, gracious and eloquent. He is a great man and hero and I am proud that he served our Country. We truly felt for him and knew that he fought hard to be our Country's leader and has great passion for diplomacy. His experience and dedication is still of great need to us and I'm sure that he will support President Obama and Staff as he stated.

My point is this, what a significant time in history we are in the midst of. Hopefully we can gather together, unite, restore prosperity and support our new President of the United States in hopes that he can bring greatness and victory to our Country.

God Bless America!
I am Proud to be an American!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Weekly Menu Plan

My Menu is a little late, but oh well.

Sunday - Penne Pasta with garden tomatoes and Kielbasa Sausage
Monday - *Zesty Taco Tater Skins, Chips, Salsa and Sour cream
Tuesday - Election Banquet with Presidential Pot Roast and other delegates
Wednesday - Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Thursday - Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup and Yeast Rolls
Friday - *Firehouse Chili and Cornbread
Saturday - Yummy Leftovers

*New Recipe

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Banquet

Tonight I prepared an Election Banquet Dinner for my family. I thought I'd put some corny twist on dinner while watching the election on TV. The feast included:

Presidential Pot Roast
McCain Mashed Potatoes
Oh Good Gravy
Steamed Barackoli
Ballot Buttered Corn
Candidate Cottage Cheese

Our pre-teen thought it was funny and got a few giggles out of him. Of course the giggles ceased when he had to do the Democratic Dishes. I wanted to invite friends over for the election banquet, but dear hubby wanted to focus on the election (the analytical that he is) with out added distractions. We have two toddlers, what was he thinking? It's a Republican Circus with the two of them, what's a few more. Oh well.. I understood and enjoyed the evening with our family.

Hope that you all voted and watched the election.
God Bless America!

New Do, New Attitude

So.. Guess what I did. I decided I needed a change and thought maybe a haircut would help get me out of the moody blues. My hair was getting really long since my last two pregnancies and was about to the middle of my back. I am constantly putting it up in a pony, a giant claw clip etc... It was getting pretty long and heavy and was probably the culprit to many of my headaches.

So.. I went into the Cuttin Corral in town and picked out a picture and had my friend and stylist Shari whack it all off. Yep I did it! I had about ten inches taken off. I think that I had more hair on the floor than what was left on my head. It is cute and fun and hopefully I will love it tomorrow, if not I'll be crying a river of blues. In a couple of weeks I go in for a color appointment. I'm thinking of going a warm chocolate color called Iced Coffee for Fall and Winter. I'll have to post pics after the color, no way am I going to post pics now with the grey strands a showing.

When I walked in the door tonight after the new do, our dog Maggie came running at the sound of the door opening and barked and growled at me, she didn't recognize me at first. My kids were stunned, my toddler just stared at me in bewilderment. My husband... well he was in the middle of reading directions and setting up our new flat screen TV and was not focused on my hair at the time (it was election night and was trying to get it all hooked up in time to watch), but he did tell me later that he thought that it was cute.

The coolest thing is that the haircut and style was no charge and the color will be too. Isn't that awesome. I had brought in a couple of my latest Mary Kay catalogs to the Salon and my stylist wanted some new items. So we are trading product for hair services. That put me in an excellent mood, she was excited and my husband was too!

I picked up the new Rachel Ray "Everyday Living" magazine (one of my faves) late last night at the grocery store. I took one look at the cover and realized that after searching for haircuts for days and chose one a few moments before the big cut, my new do is just about the same at Rach's. I can flip it up, curl it under or tossle it with a little scrunch spray. Hopefully I can change it up and manage a shorter hair style with two rambunctious toddlers.

Be Inspired to make a change!
Remember it's just hair, it will grow back.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Moody Blues

I apologize to all my followers and readers for not posting in a long while. I have been in a terrible funk (and moody my husband would say). I don't know if it is the weather or what but I feel blah!!! I haven't done my menu planning or kept up on the laundry or house in almost two weeks. I start to get things in order and then don't complete the task or just give up. I did fight a nasty cold that took its toll on me for a week, but haven't been able to get out of the moody blues. I had so much going on in September and October that I just burned myself out, I'm guessing.

Enough of stewing about in my own pity party. I need to get inspired to get motivated. Coffee isn't working so I guess I should take my B-12 vitamins to perk up. Hope to be back to myself soon.