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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Making It Personal

Most of you know that I earn my living by writing...writing everything from grants for non-profits, freelance pieces for magazines, news articles for newspapers, blog posts; at this point I've done a lot of writing. I love to write, but it has to be purposeful for me to extract any kind of pleasure. Writing a piece just to write it, doesn't flow out of me the way something I am passionate about does.

My latest writing adventure has been around the topics of Family History, and helping people preserve precious memories and family stories that often disappear as the older generations go to a better place. I have been inspired to read the "everyday" stories from my clients. We are all so much more than we realize.

With that in mind, let me say this...no matter your religious (or not) affiliation (or not) you should be leaving something in writing for your families. Everyone has a contribution to make--some of us are great leaders, teachers or friends. Others of us are granted the patience to be incredible spouses and parents. We each have the opportunity to leave a positive mark on this crazy world, so why not do it?

I like to dabble in "Genealogy" or "Family History" just because it's fun. I like to learn about the past, where I came from, what challenges past generations overcame, what they excelled in, and the like. The only reason I can learn these things is because they left journals or other writings, and by the grace of God, someone preserved them. It's important--so take a minute and jot down something simple about you so others can learn from your experience. Really, it's important, I promise.

Writing Ideas
~ Your first date
~ The first time you drove a car
~ Your first crush
~ School Memories
~ Your Best Friends
~ Your Siblings
~ Memories of Family Holidays
~ Things you hate
~ Things you love
~ Childhood Memories
~ How you met your special someone
~ Things you wish you knew when you were younger
~ Your Hobbies
~ Experiences that shaped your life
~ Best Decisions
~ Worst Decisions

Get the idea? Feel free to think outside the box and record a bit to share with the world.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chicken & Dumplings

This is a delicious way to get veggies into your diet, as well as enjoy a good comfort food without the guilt.

Chicken & Dumplings
  • 1 1/2 c. milk or evaporated milk
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 1 c. frozen green peas 
  • 1 c. diced carrots (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 c. diced celery
  • 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed mushroom soup
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried Rosemary
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 package (8 oz.) of wide egg noodles
  • 1 can of pre-made biscuits

Directions

  • Heat all ingredients together in a 3-quart saucepan, or Dutch Oven, stirring frequently. 
  • Cook uncovered over low heat 20 minutes until chicken is done (no longer pink inside).
  • Add 1 additional cup of water and Egg Noodles, cook 5 minutes.
  • Open biscuit can and place biscuits on top of stew. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer, until the biscuits are done (you can check this by poking the middle of the biscuit with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, they are done.)
  • * Helpful Hint: If the liquid in the stew is not thick enough for your liking, thicken it with a few tablespoons of Poultry Gravy by whisking the gravy powder into the stew. 



Monday, October 13, 2014

Great Gift Ideas

Yes, I am aware that it's October...and this post about gifts...possibly Christmas gifts....I may be OCD and a bit obsessed.

I'm a planner. If you've been following this blog, or know me at all you know this. I love details, perfect details, and being organized no matter what I am doing. Does it stress me out? Honestly, not very often because I am hard wired this way. My high octane, over the top organization comes as naturally to me, as eye rolling may come to a teenage girl.

So, no, being ahead of the game (whatever that game may be) is just how I am. I embrace it, and in doing so, hope to pass a few good ideas your way to help make your life easier. Thanks for reading.

I have lots of amazing people in my life that I like to find the perfect gift for--whether that occasion is Christmas, birthday, or whatever. However, since I really do love the idea of not collecting materialism and being weighted down by over consumption of stuff, I like giving and making memories with my friends and family. Here are a few good gift ideas for those in our lives that really mean the most to us.

1. Treat of the Month Club. This is such a great idea and I love it. You can order from companies like Harry & David, flower shops, fruit basket companies, or other high end companies that will send your special someone a gift basket or box each month. These are great because it's a gift that keeps on giving the whole year, and those special people are reminded of how much you think of them on a regular basis. My money tree died a long time ago, but this idea is still awesome as it can easily become a DIY gift. You can make or buy a treat (cake, cookie, cupcake, etc.) each month and hand deliver or send someone a treat each month. This is supposed to be fun and easy, so don't think the treats always have to be homemade, they can easily be things you pick up from the bakery or cookie aisle and put in a cute bag/basket/container and deliver. It's the thought that counts.

2. Edible Gift Baskets are especially great for those people who have everything. One big basket loaded with delicious breads, jams, cookies, muffins, etc. is a great gift. This idea is again easy to pick up at bakeries and cafes already done, or you can DIY if that's your thing.

3. How about a Magazine Subscription? Great for kids and adults, comes regularly throughout the year so your special someone is remembered how much someone cares, and there's often discounts on them so you can give a great gift without breaking the bank. www.thrifymags.com or www.discountmags.com have great deals.

4. Personalized photo gifts are sometimes the perfect gift. A canvas or collage of favorite moments you've shared together is a great way to share some love. Calendars are a great gift for grandparents, or family/friends who live far away. Sharing old photos is a wonderful way to start remembering stories and important moments.

5. Monogrammed gifts are simple, sometimes inexpensive and easy DIY. It's easy to glass etch plates or cups with Amour Etch (or another brand) of etching product. It's also easy to personalize items with vinyl, paint or other craft products. Of course, there are also many companies that can engrave, etch, or embroider the perfect gift too.

6. A bag/basket full of Your Favorite Things. Whenever I find a new product that I love, I want to share it with EVERYONE! So what a great way to show someone you care, by sharing a little bit of yourself with them.

7. On that same note, a gift bag full of Their Favorite Things is a great idea too. For those who love travel how about a treat from their favorite place, a book about travel, and some travel necessities like antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, snacks and a crossword puzzle book. For the cook in your life how about a good bottle of Olive Oil, a bottle of infused vinegar, a potted herb, and a fun kitchen gadget. For the Sports Nut a book about sports stats, some flavored almonds or peanuts, a baseball cap with a favorite team, or a magazine subscription will make a great gift.

It's about the thought, not the price tag. Enjoy making memories with and for those who make your life bearable.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October Meals

This is such a busy time at our house --harvesting, preserving and taking out the garden takes all the energy I have. I love Autumn because the weather is beautiful, college football is in full swing and I can use my crockpot to try new things.

My husband used to really turn his nose up at the meals I cooked in the crockpot. Granted, the crockpot I was using was older and from our wedding many moons ago, but he swore nothing tasted good coming out of it. So in order to maintain sanity (mostly mine) I bought a new crockpot, and now he (and everyone else) happily eats the meals that come from it.

With the holiday and busy times fast approaching, the October Meal List is a little different. Following is a list of blogs I have found helpful in my monthly meal planning. We have a whole bunch (50) of recipes we all like, but I hate status-quo mentality, so I like to try new things. Hopefully you'll find some ideas here that revive your family's meal times!

You can always search this blog for "Meal Time" or "Meal Ideas" in the search bar on the home page.

BHG Best Slow Cooker Recipes
Cooking Light
Our Best Bites
Kohl's Healthy Kids
Easy Recipes for Kids

Some of our 50 favorite meals include
Spaghetti & Meat Balls
Taco bowls (make with chili for easy meal)
Shredded Pork tacos or sandwiches
Chicken Enchilada Soup
Lasagna
Spaghetti Pie
Kung Pao Chicken (or sweet & sour for those who don't like HOT)
Potato Cheese Soup and Grilled Cheese
Beef Stew over Mashed Potatoes
Chicken and Waffles
Sloppy Joe's & Oven Fries
Roast Beef Sandwiches


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Dinner from the Garden



Stuffed Zucchini with Turkey Sausage
1 zucchini about 12 inches long, or 6 medium ones                     3 Tbs olive oil
1 cup chopped onion                                                                     3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped mushrooms                                                           1 lb ground turkey
2 diced tomatoes                                                                           3 Tbs chopped fresh basil
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary                                                       1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese                                                      2 tsp pepper
2 tsp salt
   1. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise.  Scoop out insides, leaving shells about 1 inch thick.  Reserve about half of the insides.

2  2.  Heat 2 Tbs of olive oil in skillet on medium heat.  Saute onion and garlic until soft.  Add mushrooms and reserved zucchini insides, and saute another 2 minutes.

    3. In a separate skillet heat a Tbs of olive oil on medium heat.  Add ground turkey.  Lightly brown the turkey, stirring only occasionally.  Cook until ground turkey is lightly browned.  Stir in the onion and mushroom mixture from the other pan.  Stir in tomato, basil, and rosemary and cook 1 minute longer.  Drain any excess fat.  Remove mixture from heat and set it aside.

   4. When mixture has cooled, add cheese, egg, salt & pepper.  Fill zucchini shells with mixture.  Fill a baking pan with an inch of water.  Place filled zucchini halves in pan and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove zucchini from pan and serve while hot.  (Serves 4)


Hope you are enjoying these amazing garden veggies as much as we are! And if you live close by, I've got lots of extras to share!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Habanero Pineapple Salsa Fresco

Oh My Gosh!! This combo of Hot Peppers and Fruit is one of the strangest, but you WILL NOT be disappointed if you like a little bit of sweet heat.

We like things HOT! HOT!HOT! at our house--we grew 23 different pepper plants this year, so yeah--a little spice is normal around here.


This delicious sweet-hot flavor combo will have you coming back for more. This salsa is great with tortilla chips, or with enchiladas, or on top of burritos. If you don't like Habanero hot, Jalapenos work too! Enjoy!

Habanero Pineapple Salsa Fresco
1 cup pineapple, chopped (fresh or canned works)
1-2 Habanero peppers (USE GLOVES WHEN CHOPPING AND SEEDING PEPPERS)
3 green onions, diced
1 green pepper
4 med. tomatoes, cored and halved
1/2 bunch of cilantro 
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Not only is this salsa delish--it's easy too!

If you have a food processor throw everything in and pulse it to desired consistency--pulse only 3-5 seconds at a time so it doesn't go to liquid. I haven't tried this in a blender, but that would likely work too.

If you don't have a food processor, you can hand dice the ingredients and mix them together in a bowl.This produces a lovely chunky salsa.

If you like a slightly chunky consistency blend half the amount of each ingredient in a food processor or blender, and chop the other half, combining in a bowl.

The best part is that most of the ingredients were super fresh from my garden--which I think makes the flavor even better!

~ Enjoy!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Home and Garden Club Post- Bath Salts

Hello everyone! I am Katie, the Jordan Valley Home and Garden Club Vice Co-Chair. Thanks to all of those who came to our "Gifts from the Garden" class last night at the Conservation Garden Park. We had a great time learning how to incorporate flowers and herbs from our garden into fun gifts like soaps, bath salts, healing slaves and plantable flower paper.

We will have a re-cap of the night's class on the Garden Club Website (find it here) or on our Facebook Page "Jordan Valley Home & Garden Club" (please LIKE us on FB). There are so many great ideas for your home and yard through our club.

Bath salts are an easy, inexpensive gift to give. Best of all, most of the items are easy to find, and may even be in your pantry or hall closets right now!

Easy Bath Salts
1 c. Epsom Salt
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
20-30 drops of your favorite Essential Oil
Dried herbs, optional (Lavender, Lemon Balm, Mint are all great choices)
Coloring, optional (found in the soap crafting area of most craft store).
**Do not use food coloring as it may discolor skin and tub surfaces

Place all ingredients in a large plastic bag and squish to mix. It's really that easy. To promote longevity bath salts can be stored in a cool area, like a cupboard, and in a glass container. The Olive oil will be stable for some time if stored properly.

Here are some other great recipes for more great bath salt ideas.
The Idea Room
Salt Works
Sonnet's Kitchen

For Other Great Gift Ideas from Last Night's Class Please Check Out:
Plantable Paper (click here)
Herbal Salves (click here)

Can't wait to see you next month at the Club Meeting Thursday, Oct. 9 @ 7 p.m.. For Club Schedule please visit US HERE!