Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

For Americans, today was one of the most beloved holidays of the year -- a day devoted to feasting, spending time with family and friends, watching football and the Macy's Parade, giving thanks, and plotting a plan of attack for "Black Friday!"


On a personal level, we find that Thanksgiving is an excellent time to slow down the frenzied pace of our lives and reconnect as a family. It is also a good time to stop and count our many blessings, and thank God for His provisions for our clan.


This morning, I got up early to make the stuffing, so my husband could put the turkey on to roast. That is one of our family traditions -- my husband has always prepared the turkey, ever since our early years when I was too squeamish to put my hand inside the cavity of a turkey! I figure, why stop such a good thing now??


My family Loves my stuffing recipe! I chopped some onion and celery, sauteed it in plenty of butter, and seasoned it with some poultry seasoning. Then, I mixed together the sauteed veggies, 4 cans of chicken broth and 2 bags of my favorite stuffing mix. After filling the turkey with as much as we could, I put the rest in a baking dish to bake separately.










Once the turkey was in the roaster, Alan made a Big batch of pancakes and I made some eggs and sausage. Then, we sat down to enjoy a delicious breakfast! Minus the girls, that is -- Tiffany and Ashlyn were at the gym!! They were attempting to burn off their Thanksgiving calories in advance!!! :)








After breakfast, Alan and the boys cleaned up the kitchen, and I started on the yeast rolls. Then, I found out one of my sons had his heart set on biscuits, so I made some biscuits too! The next few hours passed quickly as we all engaged in a variety of activities together and separately. The list included:


preparing food
washing dishes
scanning the sales ads
facebooking and emailing friends
watching football
watching the parade
playing volleyball
playing scrabble
riding bikes around our neighborhood
napping







Then, about 3 pm, we sat down to eat our great Thanksgiving Feast!!!















After we had eaten our fill (and then some!), we went around the table and everyone shared what they were thankful for. It was a really special time.











Then, the children worked together and cleaned up the entire Thanksgiving mess! I didn't do a thing! Wow -- what a blessing that was!!!!


When the kitchen was clean, the family gathered in the family room and played Life Stories. This is a good game for recalling and sharing memories and little antecdotes. With the interesting mix of personalities we have in our family, it turned out to be a lot of fun!







After the game, we all found a cozy spot and took a little siesta! :)

Then, we ate our dessert -- delicious apple and pumpkin pie. Tiffany makes the most incredible pies totally from scratch!! She learned the skill from my Mom, who must be the world's best pie maker! I hate to tell her, but she now has some stiff competition!! :)

We concluded the day by watching An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving, based on the book by Louisa May Alcott. It was a heart-warming, Hallmark family movie, and the perfect way to conclude a perfect Thanksgiving Day!!




Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gifts from Montreal

My husband returned home from a business trip to Montreal last night, and he surprised us wtih the cutest little gifts. :)



First, a mini bottle of pure Maple Syrup for each one of the children:











Then, a cuddly fleece jacket for me:








And now for my favorite -- this cute little plate for displaying my daily menu! Isn't it adorable?? If that isn't a subtle hint to make sure I know what's for supper each day!!! ;)






So, I took the hint and figured out early in the day what I was having for supper tonight, so I could write it on my menu plate and take a picture of it, of course!! :)

As you can see, supper for tonight is Crockpot Sloppy Joes. This is another new recipe -- this one from Southern Living Magazine. I just snuck a taste, and this stuff is Delicious! I can't wait until supper time!!!

This is going to be a great recipe to make for those nights (such as tonight) when we have a basketball game to attend. Those of us who want to eat before the game can spoon some up on a bun and have at it! Then, there will be some ready for the famished athletes and fans when we get home. That's what I call a Winner!!!

If you'd like to try this winning recipe, here it is. It says it serves 8, and I doubled this for my family of twelve.

Slow-Cooker Sloppy Joes

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 pound ground sausage
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 can water
1/2 cup ketchup (I added a bit more ketchup)
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 TBSP cider vinegar (I doubled the recipe, but did not double the vinegar)
2 TBSP yellow mustard
1 TBSP chili powder
1 TBSP worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

hamburger buns or any kind of roll

1. Brown ground beef and sausage with onion and bell pepper in a large Dutch Oven over medium high heat, stirring often, until beef and sausage crumble and are no longer pink. Drain well.

2. Place beef mixture in a slow cooker. Stir in all remaining ingredients.

3. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours. Serve on hamburger buns or yeast rolls.



Sunday, November 23, 2008

Playing Tag!

I was tagged by my friend, Trisch over at Never a Dull Moment. I'm supposed to list 6 unspectacular things about myself, and then tag 6 other people. So, here goes:

1. My favorite season is Fall.

2. When I got married, I wanted 1 or 2 children and my husband wanted 2 or 3, so we compromised with ten! :)

3. I don't care for animals, but back in the 90s we lived on two acres and owned a dog, a varying number of cats and kittens, and about a dozen chickens!

4. When I was in high school, I was a member of the color guard as a flag girl!

5. I graduated from college in three years with a degree in English.

6. I got married exactly one week after graduating from college.


OK - I did it! Now, I tag:

Cheaper by the Baker's Dozen
Divine Calling
Singularly Blessed
Ants on a Farm
Mom of Many
Monica
Laurel




Friday, November 21, 2008

TGIF!

I'm tired today. I just couldn't seem to crawl out of bed at my usual Early Hour and finally emerged from the covers at 7 AM, two hours later than normal! I stumbled straight for the shower and was thankful that the hot water rushing over me did seem to wake me up some. A couple cups of Starbucks Breakfast Blend also helped!


I hate getting up late. I miss those quiet morning moments with my cup of coffee and my Bible, before the house springs to life. I miss the uninterrupted time at the computer, where I check my calendar and my email and sneak a peek at a blog or two. I even miss my morning exercise time, I think!


When I don't get up early, I find that I am thrown right into the craziness of the day, with no time to prepare my spirit. A typical morning scene involves the big boys rushing around trying to make their lunches, pull their school uniforms out of the dryer, pack their gym bags and book bags, find the truck keys and spill out of the house in a mad dash for school. Meanwhile, my oldest daughter is scurrying around trying to complete her morning agenda and pull together her "fashionista look" and make it to school before her students do! My husband is also trying to eat his breakfast and get out the door on time. That means I'm usually bustling about helping everyone find missing items, signing permission slips and progress reports, mediating and mothering, and sometimes doing some last-minute ironing!


Finally, the crowd clears and a degree of calmness settles over the house, and my younger crew ventures to the kitchen for their breakfast. They've learned that is generally better to let the smoke clear before they come eat!


Breakfast is followed by Chore time, Bible and Character Quality time, and School time. Then, as you can imagine, the rest of the day is often a blur of responsiblities, chores, errands, and other activites! So, if I don't enjoy those peaceful, contemplative moments early each day -- I often never find another time to claim them.


Well, back to why I'm so tired today. It may be because I worked so hard yesterday. I cleaned out all the kitchen cabinets, wiping them down inside and out, and re-organized all of their contents. I also cleaned and organized the pantry. I forgot to take a picture before I started, but here is an After-shot of the pantry:








I wish I had taken a before picture of the cereal cabinet to show you, because it was a huge mess! But I think you'll enjoy this picture more -- this is Luke, who really got "into" his job of wiping out the cereal cabinet and organizing it for me!








While I worked hard in the kitchen, the little ones played with some scented play-dough that I made for them. I quit making play dough years ago because it always ended up in the carpet, but now that we have hardwood floors, I decided to give it another try! They really enjoyed using the rolling pin and cookie cutters and making some fun creations, and it kept them constructively occupied while I worked.





This play dough has a nice texture and it smells good too! Pictured above is Strawberry and Lime! If you want to stir up a batch of your own scented play dough, here is the recipe:


Scented Play Dough
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
1 TBSP oil
1 TBSP cream of tarter
1 (3 1/2 oz.) pkg. jello

Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until dough clumps onto spoon. Dump out on waxed paper and when cool enough to handle, knead with floured hands until a smooth dough forms. Cool completely and store in an airtight container for several weeks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cold Day/ Warm Oven

It was so cold and windy here today! The children went out after lunch to rake some leaves and came in with rosy cheeks, begging for hot chocolate!





I was unusually productive in the kitchen. It seems that the cold temperatures outside inspire me to fire up the oven inside! While the children were out raking, I made some mouth-watering Banana Cream Bread. This delicious recipe is from Martha's Family Cookery Book, which is available from my friend, Marmee Dear .






Banana Cream Bread

Combine in a large mixer bowl with beaters:
1 1/3 cups oil (I used apple sauce)
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
6 ripe, mashed bananas
1 cup sour cream
1 TBSP vanilla
1 1/2 tsp sea salt

Mix until smooth. Then, add:
4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Mix just until blended. Do not over mix.
Add 2 cups chopped walnuts.

Divide into greased and floured loaf pans. Fill 2/3 full and sprinkle tops with raw sugar to form a sugar crust. Put in a pre-heated oven and bake at 350 degrees for 40-60 minutes. Loaves are done when tops are crowned, lightly browned, and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove bread from oven and cool in pans for 5 minutes before turning out onto cooling rack.

This bread is superior in flavor if you use very, very ripe bananas, then cool, wrap and age the bread in the refrigerator or freezer at least one day before serving.

Yield: 2 large loaves, or 3 medium size loaves, or 4-6 mini loaves.







Then, I made this delicious and EASY Chicken Pot Pie for supper, plus an extra one for the freezer! This fool-proof recipe is from my friend, Marnie, and has been in my recipe collection for 10 years now!






Chicken Pot Pie


6 chicken breasts
16 ounce package mixed vegetables
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of potato soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 soup can chicken broth
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup milk
1 stick melted butter


Cook chicken breasts. Debone and cut into small pieces. (Reserve the broth.) Cook 1 16-ounce package of mixed vegetables in chicken broth. Mix chicken pieces, cooked vegetables, cream of chicken soup, cream of potato soup, cream of celery soup, and soup can of chicken broth from cooking the chicken. Pour into 9x13 inch pan sprayed with Pam.

Crust: Mix 1 cup self-rising flour, 1 cup milk, and 1 stick melted butter. Spoon over top of chicken and vegetable mixture. Bake at 425 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.

************************************************************************************

When Joseph (14) got home from school, he snuggled up with Matthew (6) and helped him with his reading! It really warmed my heart to see that!!







After supper, it was bathtime -- and what better way to warm up after a chilly day than with a nice hot bubble bath??




Isn't that the cutest picture??? :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Old and the New

I just had to post some pictures of the children in some of their New clothes from Old Navy! :)


Would you believe that Bethany wears clothes that I saved from all three of her sisters (ages 23, 21 and 11)??? That means some of her clothes are very Old and according to my Fashionista daughter, totally unacceptable to wear in public!! So, she has been acquiring some New clothes as we encounter good sales.


I fell in love with this soft sweater dress with grey tights. Isn't it adorable?? The timing was perfect too, as winter weather has arrived in Southwest Georgia -- highs today and tomorrow are only in the 50s with lows in the 20s!! That is very cold for the deep south in November! Fortunately, winter is just here for a visit and not to stay!




These pictures show Bethany and her brothers in the New jeans and shirts I found for them at Old Navy. They were all thrilled to have some jeans without holes in the knees and they loved the new shirts!









In addition to having fun with the camera, we had a busy day of school work and house work and then a few errands to run, too. Sometimes cooking supper gets Old, especially when you are tired and you just don't know what to make, but I got excited when I discovered this New recipe from Taste of Home. I was even more excited when I realized how easy it was and when I received rave reviews from my family!! They all loved it, and any leftovers were quickly claimed and packed up for the next day's lunches!




I thought it was not only tasty, but pretty, too! Want the recipe? I rarely make a recipe exactly as it is written, so I made a few adjustments to the original, which I have included below:





Fantastic Taco Casserole:
Serves 6-8. (I doubled this for our family of 12.)


1 pound lean ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
1 15 oz. can refried beans (I used fat free beans)
2 cups shredded Monterey cheese (I used Mexican 4 cheese)
1 cup salsa (I used Mild)
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1 tomato, chopped
2 cups corn chips, coarsely crushed


1. Brown ground beef and drain.
2. Add taco seasoning and water, and cook according to package directions.
3. Warm refried beans in microwave or on stove top.
4. Add salsa to beans and stir well.
5. Put coarsely crushed corn chips on bottom of 8x8" pan sprayed with Pam.
6. Spread refried beans over corn chips in baking dish.
7. Sprinkle 1/2 shredded cheese over bean mixture.
8. Spread ground beef on top of cheese and beans.
9. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
10. Sprinkle green onions and black olives over cheese.
11.Bake in a 375 degree oven until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through.
12.Take out of oven and sprinkle chopped tomatoes on top.
13.Wait 1-2 minutes and serve with dollop of sour cream on top.


If cooking dinner is getting Old, I encourage you to try something New for your family tonight!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I Shopped 'Till I Dropped!

I'm not usually a really big shopper, restrained by lack of money, lack of time, lack of energy, and lack of babysitters! But, Saturday, I broke all previous personal records and "shopped 'till I dropped!" I grabbed up some great sales, took advantage of some helpful coupons, and made some headway on my Christmas list. I even out-shopped my shopaholic daughter, as the following pictures will prove!






Most of my purchases were for the children, but I was really excited to find this deal for myself -- some nice black shoes with a reaasonable heel for $19.98, regularly priced at $45!





When we got home from our shopping spree, Tiffany and I embarked on our evening project -- making homemade pizza! I probably would have changed menu plans, but Tiffany urged me onward! She mixed up the dough and kneaded it, while I choppped and sauteed the vegetables. Then, I panned out the dough, and she assembled the pizzas and popped them in the oven. Teamwork made it possible!


Here's one of our masterpieces ready to go in the oven . . .





This was my favorite -- a Philly Cheesesteak pizza!


Most of the children liked the pepperoni best.





So, after we shopped 'till we dropped -- we ate 'till we popped!!! :)

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