Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cooking from your pantry challenge....

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After seeing my shopping list for this month I realized I can do this challenge put forth by Around My Family Table: cooking from your pantry. So I will be posting our dinner pictures and recipes.
I posted my menu plans for the month but here is the breakdown for this week:

Roast and mashed potatoes
Cafe Rio Pork and rice
Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup
French Dip with green salad
Italian Crockpot Chicken

As long as I have the main dish planned then I can just throw in whatever vegi goes well. I have lots of beets, beans, carrots, and corn bottled in the pantry not to mention the stock of fresh fruit and vegi's from Bountiful Baskets. I love to go through my cookbooks and realize what all I can make without shopping much. The great part about fall cooking is the oven is put to great use! 

So what are you cooking from your pantry? Link up and share with us!
Around My Family Table
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Sock Hop- Activity Days

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This month we are planning to learn about Hospitality. I wanted a fun way for the girls to learn how to be a hostess, introduce others, and what not. They have been wanting a party and I'm not sure if they have had a Daddy Daughter activity yet so I thought we could have all this in one with a Sock Hop.

I plan to have the girls plan the party, make the invitations, and help decorate. Since we have an extra Tuesday this month I planned a nice service project just in time for the holiday season.

Here is the calendar I made for each of the girls....
Okay- so the calendar is more for moms but that's important. Activity Days is only requested to be 2 days a month but I decided on each Tuesday night. I have been doing Cub Scouts for the last 5 years so I just translated a lot of what I had learned in scouting into activity days. I find that having a consistant time and place improves attendance and enjoyment of the acitivities. Tuesday night is when scouts and mutual are all held. It just made sense to have activity days then too. Now, mom and dad have one stop to make and drop all the kids off. Plus they know right where the kids should be every Tuesday night.

I did wonder if I had bitten off too much as I have limited help. I talked with my dearest husband about time away from our family and taking on too much myself (I tend to do this). His response was (as usual) one of great support. He talked about how much the girls in our neighborhood needed this; how our boys are already gone to scouts that night and how he could manage the little boys at home just fine for an hour or two. What an amazing man I have. His concern was not for himself or our family but for the need of the kids in our area. I think he gets that from his amazing mom. She should be proud of the man who is following in her footsteps- always thinking of others. So I continue with Activity Days each Tuesday. So far the girls have loved every minute.

So for this month it's a 50's flashback. I'm thinking invitations made to look like a 45 record, ballon arches, poodle skirts and pink, black and turqoise; games, fun, and rootbeer floats. I will try to post each idea so keep watching. Hopefully you will find something fun to do with your group.
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Saturday, October 30, 2010

November Menu....

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I came across Jaimie's post of her October menu and thought while I was in the search mode I might as well plan my whole month. Here is Jaimie's post. It's great to have the link to the recipes as well. I am planning several of her meals or my own variations of her meals.....
in no particular order....
Roast with Mashed potatoes and gravy
Cafe Rio Pork with cilantro rice
Creamy Chicken and Rice soup
French Dip sandwiches
Meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes
Italian crock pot Chicken
Beef stroganoff with peas
Orange Chicken and vegi stir fry
Taco Soup
Chicken wraps
Italian Tortellini soup with quick and easy breadsticks
Sweet and Sour chicken with fried rice
Ham (planning for leftovers)
Spagetti with breadsticks and green salad (an ol' stand by)
Italian Meatball Subs (make ahead recipe)
Ham and Potatoe Casserole (using leftover ham)
Johnny Carino's Bowtie Pasta
Chicken and Rice Wraps (make ahead recipe)

The best part to all of these meals is that most of it comes straight from my pantry. My shopping list is....
soy sauce
seesame oil
orange juice
cheese tortellini
cottage cheese
provalone cheese
parsley (refilling my bottle)
Italian drsg mix
4 cheese alfredo sauce

ummm, I think that's it for 1 month of meals! Horray!! Gotta love cooking from the pantry. Of course with Thanksgiving thrown in the mix I will still be shopping the deals but not bad if I do say so myself. I may even have enough supplies for a few salads for a couple of family dinners. Perhaps even make some homemade rolls, add a few vegi's from Bountiful Baskets and I might have it made!

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

My sewing machine is down....:-(

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My project plans this week included curtains for our astronomy room and a new apron for myself, I am sad to say my sewing machine is on the fritz though. Needless to say, I will have to defer these projects. Of course this has to happen just before Christmas time when I so very much need my machine. Add to this the fact that my craft supplies are mostly still in boxes and I am a lost crafting mom. Oh but never fear, I have a few other projects filed away to keep me busy, and..........
Christmas is around the corner. Next week I can officially put up my Christmas decor!!! Yes, I am one of those crazy ones who pull Halloween down to put up Christmas. I LOVE CHRISTMAS! It is so warm and cozy. I love the feeling in the air and even enjoy the hustle and bustle of shopping. Of course most of my shopping is already done or will be nearly done by Black Friday. My darling husband is especially wonderful at this time of year. He gets his own kick out of indulging my Christmas decorating. He surprised me the other day with a special outside decoration I had been oogling. Yep, I am spoiled! He never balks at my decorating or how early I want to put up decorations! Isn't he great?!!
So just keep watching....I will be switching gears to Holiday projects including some handmade cards. My dear friend gave me a gift card to Micheals for my birthday- yeah she knows just what I like- and I finally remembered to use it. I bought coordinating papers and plan to make numberous cards to have on hand for all the "just thinking of you" moments. Thanks so much Rebekah! Snail mail is still great for sending a touching note to family out of state! 
I guess I will be searching blogs again too....Any suggestions?!?! 
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Astronomy Room Decor: project 40 of 52

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If you haven't seen any of the images taken by Hubble you need to take a look.It is amazing to see images like...
or this...
or maybe something like this....
With all these choices....
It was hard to chose just 3! but these are what Josh wanted.....

You can have photos printed on canvas but it is more expensive. I took advantage of Micheals sale on their artist canvas. Copy the pictures into Photoshop, sized them to 20x30, sent them to Costco for poster prints. I picked up my posters without looking at them. When I got home I found only 2 of 3 prints, guh, I had paid for all 3, we went back that night at 7:30 only to find Costco closed at 6pm. WHAT!?! So my 3rd trip back I did get the final print. Just mounted them on canvas and.....

I hope Josh likes them.....
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Boys room decor: project 39 of 52

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I am excited for the next several projects. They are to polish off Josh's room decor. It is for an astronomy theme. 
I made these wordarts...

 Sent them to Costco for 12x12 prints....then mounted them on canvas.
I love to incorporate some inspirational phrases into the room decor, this was perfect.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My tree deal!

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If you are looking to plant trees now is a great time to buy them. Nurseries are clearancing things for the season. I stopped by Tooele Valley Nursery last Friday just too look. I was actually wondering about hastas and bleeding hearts. Started looking at the trees and called DH, "Can I please get some trees? Have we used all our funds yet?" I managed to talk him into $200. So I set out with my oldest and selected some trees. Of course the selection was limited but I did get several most of what was on my wish list. The trees were 40-50% off. Plus these trees, if not sold, will be repoted into the next size pot. So a 2 gal becomes a 5 gallon, which means bigger price tag next spring (which is only about 4-5 months away). 
Here is what I got: Columnar Maple, Silver Ash, Macintosh Apple, Red Bartlett Pear, 3 Quaken Aspen. That's 7 trees for only $192 delivered! Plus our city has a program (and because our house is new) to pay $150 for trees planted in the parking strip. So my bottom line is $42 for 7 trees. I didn't remember the rebate when I bought the trees so imagine how thrilled I was when I remembered. SCORE! They are suppose to be delivered today and I can't wait. My darling hubby sure does love me! Yep, I'm spoiled. Think about apple pie or fresh pears in just a couple of years. Next year the boys will have at least a little shade as they roll and romp out back. Hooray!......
I got my trees!!!!
Keep watching for my landscaping post.....
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Teachers gifts

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I am gathering ideas for teachers gifts. It is always fun to make a little something. I am practical and tend to stay away from the trendy apple style gifts. Think about how many apples teachers will get over the years! Yeah..... Plus my I picked the brains of my dear friends who are teachers by trade asking them what they would like or what was some of their favorite gifts. Here are some of the suggestions they had plus some of my own....
Movie rental tied to a package of popcorn. "take time to relax"
Anything edible.
Warm fuzzy socks "you knock their socks off".
Treat bucket."what a sweet teacher"
Homemade magnets. "magnetic teacher"
I know there are more great ideas out there. I will continue to think on the things that we have done in the past and post them. What do you do? Any great ideas for this year? 
I found this blog last week and have fallen in love with it. I need to get my craft supplies set up and organized so that I can work on more projects. I'm getting a bit tired of pulling up the cricut just to have to put it away a couple hours later. It is nice when you can just leave your project out and come back after dinner....alas, I will have that sometime soon (hopefully). For now I have to bookmark some more projects to add to my wishlist, especially with the holidays coming up. Sorry family, not as many handmade gifts this year.....
Glass nuggets- I liked the glitter effect and plan to add a magnet to the back......
 Share your ideas. What do you have planned?
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Landscaping: project 41 of 52

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Gardening is so therapeutic for me. I am thrilled to share before and after pictures of what I have done so far. Mom always says, "you can take the girl outa the country, but you can't take the country outa the girl". Guess it's true....
here is our yard before....


 and now, after....

 Robin also bought me a clematis. These are so pretty when they get tall and full...
 Here are my other bushes he bought for my birthday. I added patio pavers so we can get to the faucet without stepping in the mud. I need a couple that are 1/2 size or else to cut some....
 I planted my 3 quakies  in a group. I love small groves of aspen. I plan to plant some hastas underneath and maybe some flowers too....
Add a nice maple in the parkstrip...we should have nice shade on our carport....
And one more time:
What a difference! Green is much better!
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Harvest Blocks: project 38 of 52

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I realized the other day that EKKS! I am behind on my 52 projects. I thought I was doing so well, even after moving. So I am hoping to finish several projects this week and get them posted. I should be closer to 42 rather than 37...Do you think I can make it???????
The best part about the kids being in school is getting together with friends to create great things. I had lots of blocks left from building walls downstairs so of course I put them to use in crafts. Kaylyn made harvest blocks....

I absolutely LOVE how they turned out. She wanted oranges and reds and I couldn't agree more with the results!
I was going for a Happy Harvest sign. I decided I preferred the orange but the black didn't cover up with the orange well....
I cut my letters out with my cricut several times but it just wasn't coming together...ever had one of those moments? Well, I decided to just put it up for a while. I haven't finished it yet so we will just relish in the delight that Kaylyn did. (Does it count that I helped her?)
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

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Fall cooking is becoming just as yummy as fall baking. With the turning of the weather to cooler temps we have turned our menu to more soups and chili's. I have several soup recipes which are so easy my cans of soup are sitting collecting ample amounts of dust in the basement. It's hard to eat something from the can that is so easy and better from scratch. And to be honest, my recipes don't take long. Time after all is a 4 letter word.
I am giving Jaimie a 5 star rating for her Chicken and Wild Rice soup. My boys loved it! I loved that I could start the chicken straight from the freezer. It made a big batch. I even shared with our friends. Of course I made a couple of minor adjustments based on what I had in my pantry. It is definitely fall comfort food. Give it a try!

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Halloween Decor: project 37 of 52

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I found this scarecrow at Homebodies, a local craft store. 
Then I found some garland at Michaels.
I already had the tera cotta pots.
Already had the ribbon.
Put it all together and....
What do you think? I was really pleased at how things went together.
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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Going Green: sod before and after

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I am so excited to finally have some grass and landscaping in the backyard. Pictures say it all with this....
The guys did a great job of leveling and racking all the rough stuff out.
The sod is great. It was moist and very very green. There are no weeds and it looks really healthy.
And my rock wall, turning green- LOVE IT. I am so thrilled with our choice to go with the rock.
Powell Landscaping did a great job and only took about 2 1/2 days for sprinklers to sod.
They put in a ramp and I decided to go with grass down here. I was going to do ground cover because we will have 4 fruit trees down here but thought the grass would be nicer and not as inviting to spiders as bark chips.
We are going to have one inlet in flowers and the larger one be a fire pit for dutch oven. Plus I am going to put plants in between the rocks.
Next year I will be growing lots in this small, managable garden. I will have to learn the tricks of mass producing in small spaces. I still miss my big yard in Idaho (probably always will) but this is getting closer to what I can handle.
Next week the boys will be able to run and romp on the grass instead on in the dirt. The rocks are always inviting to little boys; climbing, exploring and imagining.

Next spring we will get the fence in. We were hoping to do it this year but ran a little short but we did get some play equipment to put in. Ty keeps telling me that we need a playhouse like in IF so he will be thrilled to get some jungle bars to swing from. Up front we put in some gravel next to the driveway for the camper to be parked on. 
Next week I will be planting some of the plants that have been waiting for me up front. Now I get to shop for more plants. Hopefully its not too late in the season. I will definantly get some bulbs in. Planning for spring blossoms already.
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You've been Boo'd!

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We enjoyed this little trick or treat game in Idaho. I didn't think it was done in our new neighborhood so, taking the advice of my fabulous mom, we started it here. It is so fun and a great way to build strength among neighbors. We made some pumpkin cookies and set off to deliver our treats with a trick. We started several in different parts of our neighborhood. I am glad to announce it has taken off with great success. We even ended up be boo'd twice ourselves. I guess I didn't get the sign up soon enough. There are variations of the poem but this is the one we used....

The project is simple, just make (or buy) some treats, wait until dark, sneek them to a friend, knock then run!! They then have to pass it on to 2 other friends. It's always exciting to get surprises. And let's face it, who doesn't enjoy some sweets?! Just remember to put the sign up!
Since we are having such success in our neighborhood I thought it would be fun to try with my blog friends. You can click on the picture to go to and print the poem with the picture. Just remember to post it on your blog so you don't get boo'd again!
Here are the rules:
Pick your favorite 5 blogs to boo.
Post it on your blog.
Send them a note to pick up the picture.
Here are my lucky 5 picks:
Tightwad Mom's Frugal Forum
My Daily SAHM Life
Everybody Loves Raymond..and Kat
Poppies at Play
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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup: comfort food!

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The weather has turned to fall this week. It has been 20 degree's cooler and rainy. I love the fall season because of the cooking and baking, soups, chilis, muffins, pumpkin cookies and breads.
I worked last night and had a discouraging morning so I was glad to have homemade chicken noodle soup on the menu for tonight. It is my mom's recipe and pure comfort food. 
 Just boil a whole chicken in water until able to shred.
Meanwhile make the noodles:
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp water
add enough flour to make still dough. Mix well then roll out and cut with noodle cutter. Separate noodles and let dry.
Remove chicken from water and set aside. Place diced carrots, onions, celerey and salt and pepper to taste in broth. While the vegitables cook pull chicken from bones and shred. Add to broth and vegi's. When noodles are dry add to soup and cook until soft.
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Friday, October 8, 2010

Apple Butter from Apple Sauce

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I finally got my sis-in-law to share her crockpot apple sauce recipe but never got a chance to try it. I have more apples downstairs to can but also about 6 cases of apple sauce quarts. That's all from last year. So I wondered if I could take the sauce and make it into butter. It seemed like the first part of the recipe was simply making sauce anyway soooo.....
I took 2 quarts of my homemade apple sauce tweak her recipe found HERE and 

Here is what I added to my apple sauce:
1 cup apple juice
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 ground cloves (optional)
1 tablespoons lemon juice
Then just let it cook on high in the crockpot until it was thickened to the consistency I wanted. I did mine for about 6-8 hrs. 
Yummy, easy apple butter. AND the best part was how yummy the house smelled while it was simmering....Spread it on whole grain bread and hmmmm, 
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