Monday, November 29, 2010

The Polar Express

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Saturday we enjoyed a trip to Heber Valley to ride the rails. After fresh snow all week the drive was simply beautiful!
Listening to Christmas music and a quiet ride put the little ones right to sleep.
Matthew loves the trains. He couldn't wait to get aboard. We took him up and down the station to look at all the trains. I eventually had to go back inside to let him watch the train movies. He was getting a bit impatient waiting to board.

It was a bit like stepping back in time to the old train stations...
All Aboard.....
Matthew is in heaven. The theme was the polar express although they couldn't read the story as in years past (copy right issues :-( ) the boys still got to wear jammies just like in the movie. Of course Matthew had his Thomas pj's on!
And what would a Christmas train ride to the North Pole be without a visit from the Jolly man himself!?! Yep, Santa and Mrs Claus stopped by to drop of a small gift and say hi to all the kiddos!
We had a great time. It was good just to spend time together as a family. The train ride itself was a bit of a let down for mom and dad but I think the boys had a ball!
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This weeks Menu....

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I have several things to post coming up. Life is getting crazy but I thought I would start with our menu for this week. I didn't plan a lot of turkey dishes (not sure why) so I will be freezing the turkey to use later on. Of course we will have turkey sandwiches for lunches though. I made bread last night which we quickly devoured after a trip to Temple Square to see the lights. We returned home late because of the roads so we had bread and jam and then tucked the kiddos into bed. So I made more bread this am. I am planning on cookies and hot cocoa for after school so I'd better get going on those cookies. Here is what else I have planned for this week:
Monday: Lasagna
Tuesday: Chili and Cornbread
Wednesday: Slow Cooker Southwest Chicken Stacks
Thursday: Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes
Friday: Turkey Tetrazini
Saturday: Sweet Terriyaki Turkey
(chicken recipe that I am subing turkey for)
I will try to post some of the recipes. If you want a specific one just let me know.
Lots and lots of snow here and it's still coming down so I plan to just stay in and get caught up on  a few things!
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Monday, November 22, 2010

Browsin' for great Christmas ideas.....

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I am seeing more and more of these headboards from old doors. I really like this red one from Our Northern Home. I have a guest room to decorate, well as soon as we finish it he he he.....

Craft idea for my activity day girls next month. Pinecone trees from the Wool Acorn

I am also starting to collect ideas for our playroom downstairs. I am wanting a fun room the boys can retreat to with their friends. One that will grow with them and be functional for our boys ages 11 to 2.
This playroom and Brown paper packages will work great for the little boys....

I like the border in this room I found at Design Dazzle. Once again for the little boys but couldn't I work this into a teens space too? hmmm, food for thought.
I remember coming across I am Momma's playroom last year. I would love to have this little peek a boo door for my little guy to peek at mom crafting....
Can't you just see the older boys doing this?
I need a reading space and a gaming space...gonna have to keep watching and searching for more ideas. Maybe about the time I have my ideas together we will be ready for them.....
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Have to make a note so that I can find it again....

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Ever had one of those come across something great and think "I'm gonna have to remember this so I can come back to it"? Well, I have those all the time. I am getting better about writing the "IT" down but the other night at work I didn't. I was just browsing during a quiet moment and now I just spent about 15 minutes searching for what I wanted to do. The length of time it will take to accomplish my task! Ack! Drives me nuts because then in the process of frantically searching I find other "gotta remembers" and think I will come back to them and thus starts the viscious cycle. So now I am posting the one thing that I started looking for....
I have all the supplies for this and in the process of prepping for this weeks shopping I thought I had better keep all my many notes in one place. This is the perfect place. We have most of our present buying done but it will be nice to have the list with me after enjoying some Turkey with family and while we travel. So I am off to make my Christmas planner. Of course the printer is off line and the moment and dearest hubby is not home to fix it so I won't finish it but perhaps I should be preparing some dinner for my ravenous boys when they arrive home, then it will be dishes and ughhhh!! It never ends! I joke that I have to go to work (graveyards mind you) just to get a BREAK!!
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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Just for Kaylyn

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Ok, dear friend. I know you check this regularly and since I have to work all weekend...And since I never remember such things without making a note...I thought I'd post this just for you. Wouldn't this be easy peasy and fun for the little ones at your Thanksgiving dinner? Pine cones just up the canyon, what a fun little trip for you and G. while the girls are in dance! Or get some cinnamon pine cones for added scents.
Whadya think?
Sorry, I can't post a picture from another blog here at work....
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Turkey Block: project 45 of 52

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My friend and I enjoyed a great day of crafting as we continue to prep for her great hosting of Thanksgiving dinner for her in-laws. We made our Turkey's from 2x4 blocks that I shared in my last post. I had everything already so these little guys cost us $0!
We were so excited at how our turkeys turned out.
For her table decor she will have fall garland down the center with various gords and these trees...
She will also have bowls of goodies to snack on...
In the meantime I am transforming my house into a holiday treasure. I love to decorate for Christmas and am running a bit behind this year. It is also taking a bit longer. Last year I, thankfully, labeled each bin by room and briefly what was in it. The problem this year is we have a different house with less finished living space (still working on that) so I have to decide how and what to use.
Oh, but never fear, I will have it done by Thanksgiving!
The lights outside went on for the first time tonight. That has also been a bit of a kunumdrum. Before we had lots of beautiful trees to lite up so we have very little free standing decor. Now, just our baby trees. Guess I will get to go shopping for Christmas decor. Good thing the shopping for presents is nearly done; just pj's and stocking stuffers left to get! The UPS and FedEx guys are learning our address quite well thanks to PYP and online shopping!
How is your holiday plans coming?
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Holiday craft ideas....

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I love this turkey...and I think I already have all the supplies....
And I think there is a perfects spot on my counter for this...
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Laundry Sock Hop: Project 44 of 52

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I saw this post on a blog a while ago but had never gotten around to doing it. Now horray, I have. I tend to stick with red and blue decor but wanted to try something different. Since this was going to go in the laundry closet I thought that would be a great opportunity to explore new colors. First I tried this...

I thought the yellow and black would provide a nice contrast with bold color. Turns out I was right, too right. Although my darling hubby and dear friend like the colors I did not. They weren't bad just to stark for me.

So I tore it all apart. I spaced taking pictures along the way for you will spare you the details but it took three tries before I got a color I was happy with. I think if I would have stained over the yellow I may have been able to go with it but I wanted to smile when I opened my laundry doors......

I used soft apple with a dark walnut stain. I wondered about staining the clothespins but didn't want stain to come out on our socks. Plus, I thought it might be too much. So what do you think?
Yellow and Black
Green and Brown
Maybe I will decide to do a couple for Christmas presents? Anyone want to put in their wishes?
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup

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Cooking from my Pantry
My mom always made this yummy comfort food when we were not feeling well. It is simple to make and lets face it, you just can't beat homemade Chicken Noodle Soup.
Chicken Noodle Soup
1 whole chicken
diced carrots
diced celery
chopped onion
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil chicken with vegi's in pot covered with water until meat pulls off bones easily. While chicken is cooking make your noodles. Remove chicken and de-bone. Add noodles and cook until soft.
2 eggs beaten
2 Tbs water
scant tsp salt
Mix together and add flour until a stiff dough forms. Cut into noodles and let dry. I was pressed for time so I put them on a cookies sheet in the oven on 200 deg until the chicken was ready. It worked great to speed the drying time.
Add some homemade bread and you've got a meal little boys (and a big boy) devoured!
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Pumpkin Bars

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I found this recipe in a Kraft magazine several years ago. We love pumpkin pie and this is right up there with it. Yummy and Easy! Just the way I like it. So for a great desert for Thanksgiving day give it a try. You could easily make it ahead of time and stick it in the freezer or fridge...

Pumpkin Pie Bars
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar (divided)
3/4 cup cold butter or margarine
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup nuts
1 pkg cream cheese
3 eggs
15 oz pumpkin
1 Tb pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350
Mix flour, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup sugar in bowl. Cut in butter and mix until crumbles. Stir in oats and nuts. Reserve 1 cup of mixture. Press remaining mixture into 9x13 pan. Bake 15 minutes.

Beat cream cheese, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, pumpkin and spice. Pour over crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake 25 minutes.

I used pecans. My dad is severely allergic to walnuts so I always cook with pecans. I don't remember what the original recipe called for but really- does it make a big difference? Not for us! ;-)

I always make notes in my cookbooks or with my favorite recipes. I'm glad I did with this one because for some reason written down it looks more detailed than it is. I'm always amazed at how quick and easy this comes together.

Plus, another cooking straight from my pantry recipe!
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner Decor: Nametags

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Project 43 of 52
I have found I love to decorate- especialy someone elses house. I stew and fret and never seem to make my own thoughts come to fruition for my house but when I think of someone elses...the ideas come like crazy and everything seems to just fall together. So imagine my delight when my friend mentioned she would be hosting all of her in-laws for the big day. She wants to make it extra special and have that WOW power. Of course that sent me to the blogs. I knew I had seen some great ideas. Just a bit of blog surfing added to my own creativity and I think we have come up with some great ideas to do on a penny pinchers budget! We are talking, after all of a Thanksgiving dinner with little ones running around. Oh, don't worry I will share each idea as we complete them. It may be a bit late for your 2010 spread but maybe not. At any rate you might have some ideas to tuck away for next year. Of course, with my friend's great planning ahead you may find lots of time to still do it for this year....
Here is our simple, yet lovely nametags.....

I used George and Basics on my Cricuit to cut the tags. The letters are Opposites Attract. I love the glitter paper. It is a very thick cardstock. I had to use a new blade and put the highest pressure and depth on to get the cut. Then we still had to trim them a bit but I like the added strength. Add a gromet, ribbon, and a fall leave. Then we cut each of the letter outs for all the guest names. I would recommend welding the letters together if you have that ability. It took quite a while to glue the little letters on. Now she can set them up against the glasses, lay them on the plates, or tie it around the napkin whichever she wants. 
The only problem I see is that her family might be so impressed she will be hosting Thanksgiving dinner every year. Just so she is warned....
What do you think?
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thanksgiving ideas and more....

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My dear friend has the great honor of hosting her inlaws for Thanksgiving and mentioned the stress of coming up with decor and name tag ideas. Of course being the blogger I am becoming and finding it easier to do someone elses decor than my own I searched for some ideas for her. There are lots of fun Thanksgiving ideas out there right now. Tempts me just a wee bit to decorate my own house with some of them. BUT as anyone who knows me knows, Halloween comes down and Christmas goes up. I love Christmas and everything about it!
So with that, Kaylyn, here is what I found just for you! Of course I have to help you. Of course we will have to go shopping the craft store for supplies, paper, felt etc. And of course I know where some coupons are for Micheals. We are going to have a ball!! :-)

Craft ideas from Thrifty Decor Chic
Printables on Tatertots and Jello
Blessing Board tutorial from Tatertots and Jello
Lots more ideas here at Tatertots and Jello
I especially like this one from Thrive
Thanksgiving banner at Organize and Decorate everything
Thanksgiving decor at Oraganize and Decorate everything 
Paper crafts from Eighteen25

Here's a great Christmas gift idea from I heart Naptime. Although I don't know if I would make the marshmallows, I might just fill with fun ones.
Wouldn't these crayons from Whatever be great for a teachers gift?!
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Monday, November 8, 2010

Cafe RIo: cooking from my pantry

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I made Cafe Rio pork this week from Real Mom's Kitchen. When I made it before the boys complained of it being too hot with the Jalepeno's it is so this time I only added about 1/3 of the can. I had to have a touch of spice to it. I used the Romaine lettuce left over from Bountiful Baskets as well as the tomatoes which needed to be used up. I didn't have any spanish rice but white rice was a nice balance to the pork. I probably dished things up backwards with the pork on top instead of just after the lettuce but hey the little boys were "STARVIN' MOM!". Either way it was a hit. A couple of the boys even had seconds. I planned to have leftovers over the weekend but there won't be any....gonna have to work out something else. It's all good!
So over the weekend we had this...
Stroganoff with fresh steamed green beans and banana squash

Spaghetti is a staple at our house. Dear husband is a pasta fan and could eat it any day of the week without complaint. The boys tend to follow dad's lead in this as well. When in doubt we have sketti. Plus it is quick and easy.

My favorite meal is hamburger pinwheels. It is basically browned hamburger rolled in biscuit dough like a cinnamon roll then toped with gravy or our favorite- tomatoe soup. However, this is not dear husbands meal choice. So we went with stroganoff. Now I have crockpot stroganoff planned for Monday nights meal but they are different enough and dear family said they wouldn't mind- it is a pasta dish after all....

Quick Stroganoff:
Brown hamburger
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup sour cream

Brown your hamburger then mix in the soups and sour cream. I also added some milk this time because it seemed too thick. Serve over rice or noodles.
Once again, very few leftovers here. My 2 year old has been eating like a bird lately- crazy for a boy I know- but he had 2 servings of this. 
He even said "more, please"! This is a big feat as our little man doesn't talk and has been in speech therapy for 10 months now. It was great to hear this come out without prompting! Food is a great incentive in our house of boys!

For Sunday dinner we had:
Crock pot BBQ Spare Ribs
Mashed potatoes
Vegi of choice
fruit salad

The fruit salad was an idea I read on PYP forums about Thanksgiving dinner menu ideas. 
cool whip
mix together and enjoy
My 5 yr old loved it. We will see how everyone else enjoys it.....
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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cooking from my pantry tally....

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Around My Family Table
We made it through our first week without much ado.
I had to remind dear hubby not to just order out through the weekend while mom was working which he promptly stepped up and followed through with our challenge.
I hit the big Smith's sale and spent $50 while saving $82!
I already had all the items I bought in my pantry but now is the time I stock up on canned soups and staples so I couldn't miss this sale. 
I used several of the vegis and fruits left in the fridge from Bountiful Baskets and will be able to clean out the fridge before we get our next basket this week.
I had to make a few adjustments in recipes but they were only minor and it has been nice to see all that I have already on hand.
The biggest benenfit of this challenge has been a refreshing break for me to not have to go to the store. I usually try to cook from our pantry and thus cycle things out but there always seems to be some reason we need to go to the store. This week I tried everything I could to get OUT of going to the store. I still had to shop for a few non-food items but oh, it was nice to not worry about the groceries. I think we somehow stretched what we had as well. For example, it seems we didn't go through as much milk because I wasn't going to "just pick up more while at the store".
I am looking forward to another weeks break from shopping! Now I can focus on finishing my Christmas shopping.....
Thanks for the challenge.
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Organizing bit by bit

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It never ceases to amaze me how quickly things can get cluttered, especially with little boys around. While I was doing my regular house cleaning I decided to organize and re-organize a few areas of high traffic. The computer desk draw is constantly gotten into. It didn't take much but still needed some attention. Have you noticed how quickly pens, pencils, and markers collect?

I got rid of most of the extra writing tools. Tossed some old ones that didn't work and straightened everything else in the drawer. Chaos drives me buggy but neat and tidy- ahh, that's better....
Since I was working on laundry all day I decided it was time to do something to improve this area. I miss my laundry room tons! I have managed to revamp my laundry routine this summer to work with the laundry closet now yeah, it still needed some TLC.
Now the after....
The baskets on top hold towels and whites. I am thinking of putting vinyl labels on them. Since this is right by our garage door I plan to use the 2 empty shelves for things that need to go to grandma's or the DI etc; a sort of loading zone. 
I also worked on this little project....
I had this listed in my ideas labels. My favorite color is red, which is also easy to decorate with but I thought it would be nice to experiment with other colors. Since this is the laundry closet I figured it would be safe to explore other colors here....
The yellow and black aren't bad but they just don't sit well with me. Perhaps they are a bit to much contrast, I don't know. My husband and friend like it but I am going to try a softer green instead. Since I have been working all weekend I haven't gotten much done on it but keep watching for the next reveal. Will it be the color I stick with? All I can say is thank heavens for sanders....;-)
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Friday, November 5, 2010

Homemade bread and soup

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We were nearing the end of our bread so this time I made whole wheat bread.
If I may say so, it turned out AMAZING! Perhaps the best wheat loaf I've made yet. During the cooler months I seldom buy bread. I make about 80-90% of our bread.
Here is the recipe:
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 packages yeast
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
6 cups flour divided
(if making 100% whole wheat you need to add a dough enhancer like gluten. I usually add 6 tbsp or so...)

Heat your oven to 200 deg. with a bowl of water in it. When it gets to 200 shut it off. Dissolve your yeast in the warm water. Mix in butter, salt, sugar and 3 cups flour. Mix for about 2 minutes until well blended. You may have to scrap the sided a couple of times. Then add the remaining 3 cups flour. Your dough will be sticky, more like muffing mix texture. Place in the warmed oven to rise. I like to rise my dough in the oven so my house doesn't have to be as warm and the cool breezes won't mess up the rising dough. Let it rise for about 30 minutes until double. Stir down, about 25 strokes. I just put my mixing bowl in the oven then turn the mixer back on for a minute. Pour dough into 2 loaf pans. It will still be sticky. Smooth evenly in pan. Place back in oven to rise a second time for 30-40 minutes until double. Then turn oven on to 350 deg and cook for 30-40 minutes. Remove bread from oven and cool on wire rack. YUMMY!
With sandwiches and toast for breakfast we go through a fair amount of bread. I don't have a Bosch bread mixer yet. It is still on my wish list but I figured it out one time and figure it would pay for itself in 1 year of use. I don't like the cheap breads and I only buy whole wheat varieties....With all this in mind I am so thankful for a friend sharing her recipe for no knead bread that doesn't work my Kitchen Aid mixer too much. With only 6 ingredients this recipe is a cinch to make!
Added it to our Chicken and wild rice soup for some yummy homemade goodness....
Just cooking from my pantry......
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hostess gift

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We had lots of Halloween activities to go to this weekend. One of my friends invited us to her Halloween party. Her husband is an Army captain so she was trying to "do the good captain's wife thing". With army guys you never know what to expect so we arrived early, plus we had another party to go to later that night. Hostess gifts are not something I have routinely given but I thought it would be nice this time.
I made cornbread muffins to go with the chili. I tried to whip up some honey butter too but it didn't whip too well with "I can't believe it's not butter" brand spread (I usually use Country Crock) so I sent some homemade apple butter.
Last year dear Hubby's aunt was making these scratchers for extra money. I bought a bunch to have on hand for little gifts such as this. I was ho-hum when she gave me camo scratchers in the mix but they came in perfect for an army wife. I couldn't resist throwing a couple in. They work GREAT on your teflon pans.
I added a little writing pad with a tag to write a note on.
I had an extra basket already, I just lined it with a towel.
Just a little something to say thank-you all things I had already. I think they were most excited for the apple butter. With the holidays coming I enjoy stocking up for those times when you want to give a little something. For me, this usually means last it's great to have a few fillers around to toss in a basket or gift bag. When all else fails, a nice loaf of bread, muffins or cookies works well too!
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Cooking from my pantry.....

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When I opened the butter for my toast this morning I knew I was going to be stretched on this challege more than I thought.....
 this much butter was not going to last us 2 weeks. I have cubes of butter and margarine in my freezer but it doesn't spread well for toast. Then I remembered this post from my dear sis-in-law.....
 I could make my own spreadable butter. So out came 4 cubes of butter and 1 can of evaporated milk. Whipped them together and....
Voila, a tub plus some of spreadable butter. No need to buy more this week.
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Birthday time.....

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Halloween week is always busy at our house. Not only do we have the trick or treating, the trunk or treating, the school carnivals and pumpkin carving we have a couple of birthdays. Dad's is the 28th and Josh's is the 1st. It is always up to mom to be creative with a birthday party around Halloween. Last year the boys got to do pumkin smashing contests. Since we hadn't carved them and the ground was soft they tended to go goosh more than splat....
This year dad wasn't sure what he wanted. He had mentioned earlier in the week that French Toast sounded good. We enjoy breakfast anytime of the day so I made a special birthday dinner for dad; French Toast, boysenberry syrup, bacon, O.J. and milk. The boys loved it.

Then came Josh's. He asked to have a swim party at the pool. Works for me! They have a deal that included swim passes, pizza and pop. We just brought the kids and smiles. They had a great time swimming for a couple of hours.
In the end, I think both birthday boys enjoyed their days.
Happy Birthday Guys!
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