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Monday, November 29, 2010

The Larsen Cafe and Bakery

We've gotten creative at the "Larsen Cafe and Bakery," that's what I call my kitchen so I can feel better about cooking at home all the time. One of my goals this year was to not eat out a lot, saving time and pounds. So here's how I've reused our leftovers from Thanksgiving.

Turkey Sandwiches

Turkey Noodle Soup
3                     CARROTS, PEELED AND SLICED
3                      RIBS OF CELERY, SLICED
                        LAWRY’S SEASONING, SALT, PEPPER TO TASTE
 Turkey Pot Pie
                                 Pie pastry shells
1-14.5 oz. can           Chicken broth
2 cups                         Diced turkey
1 ½ cups                    Diced carrots
1 ½ cups                    Frozen peas
4 med                         Red potatoes, diced
½ cup                         Diced onion
2 Tbsp.                       Olive oil
2/3 cup                       water
1/3 cup                       flour
                                    Salt, Pepper and Lawry’s season salt, to taste
In deep dish frying pan, saute onion in Olive oil.
Add turkey, potatoes, carrots, peas and broth to pan and simmer for 10 minutes.
Mix water and flour together, add to pan; simmer all ingredients about 5 minutes, until thick.
Pour ingredients into pie shell; cut out shape in top of second pie shell—this will allow for steam to escape as pie cooks.
Place second pie shell on top and pinch top and bottom edges together.
Bake for 30 minutes @ 450 degrees.
TIP- Buy pre-made frozen pie shells and use one bag of frozen mixed vegetables instead of carrots and peas.  You can also double this recipe and freeze one pie for dinner later in the month.

Sheppard's Pie
2 c. mashed potatoes
2 c. gravy
2 c. shredded or chopped cooked turkey
2 c. frozen veggies (your choice)
sliced cheese

Place veggies in a 9 X 9 Pyrex. Place turkey on top and pour gravy over both the turkey and veggies. Cover with the potatoes making a crust. Cover the potatoes with cheese. Bake for 30 min. at 350 degrees. If you are using leftovers warm them a bit before assembly, or add 10-15 minutes to cooking time.

Turkey Tetrazzini
1 c. sliced mushrooms
1/2 c. chopped onion
7 Tbsp. butter, divided
1/4 c. flour
2 c. half and half
1/4 c. chicken or vegetable broth
2 c. cooked, chopped turkey
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
12 oz. pkg. fettuccine noodles, cooked
1 c. bread crumbs
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese

Saute mushrooms and onions in 1 Tbsp. butter; remove from skillet. Melt 4 Tbsp. butter in same skillet, whisk in flour, salt and pepper until smooth and bubbly. Add half and half, boil for one minute. Remove from heat and mix in broth, turkey, cooked noodles and mushroom mixture. Spoon into 9 x 13 coated pan. Sprinkle with Parmesan; set aside. Melt remaining butter and toss with bread crumbs; spread over casserole. Bake 40-45 min at 350 deg.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Let it be Thanks were Givin'

Tis the season for snowmen, snowflakes, snow days, and did I mention snow? We survived the "Blizzard of 2010." It's good to know we were prepared, even if the huge dump of that 3 inches didn't do us in. I'm thinking maybe it was a dry run to test us all on our emergency preparedness. Luckily we only had to travel a few miles for Thanksgiving this year, so the snow was not a problem. I count that as one blessing. We had a great weekend. Since it's Thanksgiving I'd like to take a moment to post my blessings. It goes without saying that I am thankful for my family, home, food and warm clothes. After spending 13 years in the non-profit community I have had some pretty eye opening and amazing holidays. I have spent Thanksgivings at the Food Bank preparing others dinner, and Christmases at the Homeless Shelter packing up gifts for those who've met hard times. It's true that sometimes these experiences can make you calloused, especially when you see people taking advantage of the system. However, I've seen incredible miracles too. Families who have literally nothing giving thanks that they are together, men praying and thanking God for leading them to a safe, warm place to stay, new moms receiving basics like diapers and formula for a baby they weren't planning on having, and did. It makes me thankful for basics and opens my eyes to all the extras I have.

This week was especially wonderful. Andy surprised me and came home early on Tues. and had Wed. off. So I had help nearly the entire week. I am most thankful for good surprises, which sounds simplistic I know. It is hard to keep secrets in our house--even good ones. We usually celebrate special occasions early cuz someone can't wait to unwrap or give something. This year I got a husband for 5 whole days--don't doubt that miracles are possible. He made a traditional Thanksgiving dinner--turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy, rolls, green bean casserole, yams, pies, Jell-o and squash. Everything was from scratch. I did pitch in and made the pies, green beans and Jell-O. Since I don't touch meat I was off the hook for the big stuff. It was great! I asked each child to list 3 blessings they were thankful for --and it couldn't be home, family or food---that's too easy. They came up with some great ideas. I was impressed they came up with anything, but they listed electricity, school and doctors among their blessings. We watched the Charlie Brown special--a tradition from my childhood and made candy.

We joined my side of the family for more eating Friday. It's always fun to see my kids with their cousins. They are a tight knit group. And of course we finished off the week with a nail biting football game where our team won, barely. It could have gone either way. I am thankful it was in our favor, not for the sake of winning, but for the fact that I can have a happy husband to finish out the weekend with. We also went and put up lights for Andy's mom. This is another tradition we have done for years. It makes me glad to watch the kids watch their dad serving others. They told me he's "like a gaurdian angel. And we get to keep him."

I have 2 more things to get and my Christmas shopping is done--another blessing. I did score a couple of awesome gifts for the twins and the baby. Can't tell you cuz it's a secret, but they will be happy. I also received a book I wrote for Lexi. It turned out really cute. Now to turn my thoughts to the Christmas Tree and how to protect its holly jolly goodness from my blond tornado and tiny babe.......

Friday, November 19, 2010

Alternative uses for hairspray

Aerosol cans may not be a popular as they were when I was a kid, but safe ones (and likely some not so safe ones) are out there. They can provide quick fixes for many solutions.
Check out some of these solutions from

Use hairspray to remove ink marks from hard surfaces. Just spray and wipe.
Ink stains on fabrics can be removed by spraying with hairspray before washing.

Ladders in stockings or tights can be stopped by spraying with hairspray.

Spraying newspaper with hairspray gives it a sheen and makes excellent wrapping paper.

Hairspray will preserve leaves in a flower display and help to keep the colour in autumn leaves.
Artwork done in chalks can be stabilised with hairspray. Spray over and the chalk won’t come off.

After polishing metal like brass and copper, spray with hairspray as it will keep it shiny for longer.
Hair spray will remove some kinds of dried on glue.
If you have a zipper that keeps coming down spray it with hairspray containing lacquer and it will stay up.

Spray hairspray onto a tissue and use to pick pet hairs off of soft furnishings. They will stick to the tissue.
Hairspray is a good emergency insect spray and will kill most flying insects.

Spray recipe cards used in the kitchen with hairspray. It will help to keep them clean.
Straighten out ruffled curtains. Hold curtain in folds and spray with hairspray to keep them there. This works best with thin fabrics.

Hairspray will also remove lipstick. Spray and leave for few minutes and then wipe away.
Polish shoes and add a coating of hairspray and they will stay shiny longer.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Facebook Chili

We had this chili at a church function a few weeks ago. I stole it off Andy's FB account, where a friend had posted it. It's easy and it freezes well for future meals.

Facebook Chili

2 lbs. Hamburger
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans of kidney beans
2 cans of pinto beans
2 TBSP chili powder
2 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. of garlic powder
salt, pepper to taste
1-2 jalapeno or Anaheim peppers chopped, leave seeds in if you like it hot
3 cans of whole tomatoes

Cook the hamburger and onion together. Add the spices and peppers, tomatoes, beans and simmer for 30 minutes. Add a bit of water if it seems too thick.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sign up at the following link and receive $20 free credit at You have to use this link, hurry time's running out. There are some books and children's items that when used with your credit will end up being free.

Check out this website! Good Luck

Holy Crap Batman II

Some of you may remember when D. came to me a couple of weeks ago and told me she was "doing research in the bathroom." Turns out she actually is. I was cleaning up and happened to walk down the hall to put away some large serving platters when I noticed her sitting on top of the toilet, lid open, and a lovely toilet paper fountain about to explode from my commode. I screamed, shifted the plates to my left hip and grabbed-bare handed- the ever-growing mound of wet t.p. from the toilet. Oh what becoming a mother does to one's senses! I stopped the toilet from completely overflowing. D. was shocked, as were the other kids and Andy that I would just grab stuff out of the toilet, but I hate cleaning up and really wanted to protect my wood floors--so ya do what ya gotta do. I do admit that it was only toilet paper in there, nothing else. Otherwise my heroics may not have been so...heroic. Poor Andy asked for surgical gloves and set to removing the rest of D.s "research" from the bathroom. Fun Night. I shudder to think what she will come up with next.

Friday, November 12, 2010

More Money in My Mailbox

I love my mailman! Ok, I'm not in love-in love with him, but I love what he brings me almost weekly. This week I got more Kohl's cash--$20. I am shaking with excitement at the thoughts of what things I can get off my Christmas list for free from Kohl's. They are one retailer I am thankful for. I should include them in my prayers so they won't fall prey to the evil economy monster. Yeah, they are likely still making money off all the less savvy shoppers who spend more than their $20 coupons. This time I got A. and L. new jammies--for free! I almost passed out at how great that was, only to become more excited when I saw a Dollar Tree is coming my town! What a great day.

My other "free money" came in the way of the Smith's Mega 10 ad. If you live in an area with a Smith's Food or Kroger’s find your ad. Their deals this month have been amazing, and it's on stuff you would actually use--not like buy 200 items get one free, or free cheap toothbrush with toothpaste purchase. The best thing, you don't have to have coupons to make it worth going--course if you do the savings are even better.

We were down to nothing on a lot of things, so I took 45 minutes and ran to the sale. I got 10 Swanson broths, 12 cans Campbell's soup, 7 packages of American Beauty pasta, 4 boxes of BC Fruit Snacks, 6 Carnation Evaporated milk, 6 boxes Quaker Granola bars, 2 liters soda, 1 Ricola cough drops, 6 boxes Pillsbury Toaster pastries, 10 Gatorades, 4 cans of Hormel chili, 2 cookie mixes, 2 boxes of Nestle cocoa, 2 boxes of Stove Top, 4 boxes of Jello and some Captn. Crunch.

The way the Mega sale works is that you have to purchase quantities of 10 participating items in the same transaction--and there are tons of other products I didn't buy that are part of this sale too. You don't have to purchase 10 Hormel chili's or 10 pastas--just need 10 items, and then you save $5 (with your Fresh Values card--also free and available at customer service if you need one) per every 10 items purchased.

I purchased 80 items. It's sad to admit, but I was actually shaking with excitement at the check out. I love the way my Smith's computers work too. They show you the total before any Mega savings or coupons, and then you watch the total rapidly fall as it deducts your savings. It's like going to Vegas and winning every time. So I received a $40 Mega credit and had $20 in coupons. My total went from $140 to $49! I asked Andy to help unload the car just so he could see how much we saved! Yeah and he's big and strong and doesn't hate carrying large quantities to the basement.

Anyway, if you need groceries, or stock up on Holiday items--go to Smith's. Sales are good through this Tuesday and a complete list of sale items is available online ( or at the customer service desk. If you want help on making your dollar stretch, comment on this post or call.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holy Crap Batman

What can I say? It's been a week from outer darkness. We've all had colds, I have been stressing about feeding 50 teachers two nights for Parent Teacher Conferences, we have had very little food in the house, and the Utes were defeated in a way I hope to see never again. Blowouts in general are bad: tires, diapers, football--all bad scenarios. Usually I wouldn't care, but where we live, you have to be ready to bat back the banter from the opponent, but not so much you can't sit next to them in church on Sunday. It's a slippery slope. I actually saw two grown men crying at the devestaing loss. Not that there's anything wrong with men crying--maybe the venue just threw me off.

Back to the week of darkness. On Sunday Andy said to me, "I think Danni's sick again." Earlier this year we endured months of expensive medication and surgery to correct a medical condition involving her kidneys and bladder. We thought we may get lucky and be done with it, but such is not the case. I had suspected something was up too. My mom meter had been buzzing all day that something wasn't right...I tried to tell myself it was the cold medication I was taking, but truly I knew better. So fast forward to Monday. Picture it: Me, five kids, rain, wedge flip flops, crying (me & the kids), stress about what's wrong with Danni, and 45 minutes to see the Dr. I raced to school to get the 3 older kids, the raced to the dr., arriving late-yuck. Ran in wedge flip flops in the rain with 4 kids scattering and a very heavy carseat in my recently operated on hands. I fell of course, but was more concerned with the fact that Danni had forgotten a coat and wanted me to carry her. Why don't moms get another set of hands with each baby they have??

My older girls were awesome. Syd took Jack, Abby took Danni and we made it inside and up to the Dr. Of course to check to see what was wrong with D. we had to get her to pee in a cup. This is like asking a llama to perform open heart surgery on a gnat. And D. had just gone before we left the house. So here I am in the Dr. office, trying to get D. to drink enough to get a sample so they can charge me $20 for a result I already know. I am running between the lobby to check on the other 4 kids, while trying to get Danni to drink and not go potty by herself so I can get the much needed sample.

I have to hand it to my older ones. They were great. They did their reading, took the baby and when I told S. to go down the elevator to the car and get the bottle, her only response was "Oh, I feel so grown up."

Finally D. does her business and we get no more than a 1/2 tsp. Luckily it was enough. So the Dr. comes back and says D. has to get back on medication, but we shouldn't worry this is a normal part of her recovery from surgery. Great. Looks like more waiting --FYI I am not a patient person--to find out what the final outcome will be.

I learned a lot this week. Patience is a virtue I have yet to conquer. My kids are amazing and can hold their own, at least on occassion. Modern medicine, although at times pricey, is a miracle. I have learned to look for little miracles everyday, because if I only look for big ones I will miss out.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Multi Use Toothpaste

You were thinking how much more stuff can she come up with for dual use products? Lucky reader, feast on the following. And honey if you're reading this...these posts are not funny; they are informative, creative and economical. You should be thanking me. (Thanks to my dad and writer Nora Dunn for the following.)I'm thinking the following ideas were tried with white toothpaste and not the colored gels.

My dad and I talk nearly everyday. He is really good at checking up on us. I really appreciate talking to another adult. He called me the other day with some advice that was right up my alley. He asked if we ever get the milky deposits on our glassware even after they’ve gone through the dishwasher. Of course we do. We live in a part of the valley not known for it’s great water capabilities. He said rub some toothpaste on the stain and it should disappear. You can also use it to shine up stainless steel pots and pans. I ran to the dollar store and found some cheap, white toothpaste and viola the stuff works. Of course if it works on that, imagine what else it can do. When you are done imagining, read the rest of this post, which I borrowed from fellow writer Nora Dunn.

Crayon on Painted Walls
So the kiddies decided to express their artistic side all over the walls, huh? No worries. Rub a damp cloth and some toothpaste on your marked-up wall and rinse with a clean wet cloth.
Carpet Cleaning/Stain removal
Scrub away with an abrasive brush and toothpaste, rinse, and you’ll scrub the stain right out. You may even realize how dirty the rest of your carpet is in the process.
Cleaning Running Shoes
Similar to above, scrub away (especially on those scuffed up white rubber soles), wipe with a damp cloth, and watch your tootsies gleam.
Scuffed Leather Shoes
Put a dab on the scuff, rub in with a soft cloth, and rinse with a damp cloth.
Stained Clothes
It stands to reason that if toothpaste works on your carpets, it will work on clothes too. Apply the toothpaste directly to the stained fabric and rub the fabric together with all you’ve got. Rinse with water. You may have to do this a few times to fully remove the stain. This may not work on all fabrics or stains.
Cleaning Piano Keys
A well-used piano usually means some darker piano keys after a while. Scrub with toothpaste and a toothbrush, then wipe dry with a damp cloth, and you’ll be tickling some ivory ivories again.
Baby Bottles
If your baby bottles are getting a sour-milk smell, clean them out with some toothpaste using a bottle-scrubber, and rinse really well with water.
Cleaning The Iron
I guess I don’t use an iron enough for it to get gunky (wait a minute – I don’t even own an iron), but apparently crap can accumulate along the plate and bottom edge. Toothpaste has just enough abrasive in it to do the job nicely.
Make Chrome Gleam
Ran out of your bathroom or kitchen cleaner? Use some toothpaste in a pinch, and watch your taps shine.
Scrub Those Nails
Fingernails and toenails are made of similar stuff as teeth are. So scrub away using toothpaste and a nail brush for some shiny extremities.
Wash your Watch Band
I tried this on a plastic watchband I have that is embarrassingly dirty with only minimal results. Then again maybe this watchband was beyond repair.
Obviously if the watch itself is not water-resistant, be careful to keep it dry in the cleaning and rinsing process.
Take water rings off coffee table
Simply rub some toothpaste into the offending mark with a soft cloth and wipe dry with a clean damp cloth. Finish off with some furniture polish to help protect grandma’s antique table from staining again. Better yet – use coasters.
Jewelry Cleaner
I tried this on some seriously dull-looking jewelry the other day, and was very impressed with the results. Use a soft toothbrush to scrub lightly with a dab of toothpaste, rinse it, and polish it dry with a soft towel. You’ll discover a whole new shine to your precious accessories.
If you are dealing with a lot of grunge, dab some toothpaste on and let it sit overnight. Or better yet, dissolve some toothpaste in a small amount of water, and drop the jewelry in it for an overnight soak. Then follow up with the steps above. Note: Do not use this technique on pearls, as you may damage the finish.
Overnight zit cream
Inevitably it happens right before a big job interview, or while you’re on the road without having brought along your trusty zit cream: the pimple of the century emerges. Never fear though: your toothpaste will do in a pinch to reduce the redness and dry out your greasy disaster. Just don’t forget to wash it off in the morning, or else they’ll be giving you some strange looks at that job interview.
Bee Sting ointment
I try not to get too close to these useful but annoying insects, but occasionally they like to get close to me. A touch of toothpaste can take the edge off the pain, and soothe the wound. Be sure to take the stinger out first of course.
Bug Bite Relief
Aaahh. Instead of scratching those pesky bites until they swell up and become unbearable, dab a little toothpaste on it and forget about your itchy worries.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Give Me A Break!!

I've been around a lot of women in my lifetime. Women who have taught me great skills and given me knowledge. Women who've made me a better friend, wife, mother, sister and daughter. I've had women in my life during my greatest trials and my most wonderful achievements. I am in the process of raising 4 future women. And do you know what I've found? NO ONE REALIZES HOW GREAT THEY ARE! We must be genetically preprogrammed to not like ourselves. I don't know what it is about us, but we fail to give ourselves a break.

I find it amazing that we can tell you our greatest faults and totally discount our strengths. Do we think it's prideful or sounds snotty to say we are doing and have done great things? It's not! Why do we hold ourselves to some great "Barbie" standard? I've got a secret. Those "perfect" supermodels we see on magazines are fake. They have been airbrushed to perfection. And there are very few women in the world who cook, bake, sew, fix their own cars, repair their own homes, have brilliant, always well behaved children, have immaculate homes no matter what time of day or year it is, have size 2 bodies even after giving birth several times, give to others, have dinner waiting on the table when their husbands walk through the door and are happy all of the time. Why in the H*** do we think everyone but us has this type of life?

Give yourself a break. There are things in life that need to be done. Children need to be fed, laundry needs to be done and bills need to be paid. We are all in this together, living a similar lifestyle. Don't compare your worst self to others best selves. We should support eachother and ASK FOR HELP. Asking is not a sign of weakness, it's sign of honesty. No one expects you to do everything, all the time by yourself. It's ok to say no to things. It's okay to ask for support.

Do what you do and do it the best you can. Don't worry about the rest. Take a deep breath, relax, have a diet coke and remember to take care of your best self. You will be a happier woman.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Out of the mouths of babes

My very funny 3 year old shared the following today:

"Don't freak out Lexi, everybody poops."
"Mom, boobs are supposed to be small not huge." (imagine hand gestures here)
"I learned something new. I can sit Lexi up, even if she doesn't want too."
"No,no, not another 4 years...."
"Where is my Dad, I mean your husband??"
"I just can't do any more chores!!"
"If I can't marry Jack or Daddy, who am I going to marry?? Can I marry one of Dad's scouts?"

"Mom, prentend I'm in love with Harry Potter, okay? Well actually, I am in love with Harry Potter."

I was watching election results and she says, "Uggh, why can't we just watch a kid's show? I don't want to see this momma show."

Lastly she saw a Chuck E. Cheese commercial and came running throught the kitchen screaming "I wanna go to Chucky Jesus. Please can I go see Chucky Jesus?"

It's only noon and I've been laughing for hours.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This is a great website that has two awesome benefits. My girls told me they use this site in their math class and it's a great tool.

1. has a variety of questions you answer in a variety of subjects--so the first benefit is you are testing your brain and gaining knowledge.
2. For every answer you get right, they donate 10 grains of rice to those in need worldwide.

This program comes with accolades from many reliable news and government sources, so I believe it's legit.

In either case it's a great way to teach kids about new subjects, and more importantly how easy it can be to help others. Great concept!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Feed the Family for $10 Eating Out

By now you know I am organized and a planner, sometimes to a fault. I enjoy cooking, but there are those days that just haven't gone my way and I need a break. A while ago I had a very wise friend, with 7 children, who taught me a great trick to eating out affordably. So I dedicate this to you Sharon.

We can feed 4 kids and 2 adults for around $10 at many places. Here is how this works:
Order 2 small chilis with onion (I like the extra flavor) $1.98
Order each child a hamburger, cheeseburger or chicken sand $3.96
Order 2 double stacks $1.98
1 order of spicy nuggets $.99
1 lg. fry (shared by all) $1.89
We either bring our own drinks or have water
Total $11

To even make this a better deal we don't order fries and bring chips or fruit along.

Del Taco/Taco Time
Del Taco has 3 tacos for $1 on Tues. Recently they have been .39 every other day
I order 10 of these and 1 cheese quesadilla--Total $6
We order water or bring drinks

Taco Time has a small dollar menu, but the kids like the chicken burritos

Many places have online deals, but if you don't have a coupon 5 Buck has $5 pepperoni and cheese large sized pizzas for carry out only. Big Daddy's has $5.55 pepperoni or cheese; $6.66 for Hawaiian or $7.77 for combo carry out. And there's always Little Caesars--recently they've been sending out free crazy bread coupons with any purchase too.

I usually get one large pepperoni, one large cheese--I ask them to cut it breadstick style or not to cut it at all since this makes an easy breadstick option without paying for additional "breadsticks," and one medium Hawaiian. There are leftovers for lunches the next day and we spend about $16.

We buy 2 or 3 foot longs and split them between us. I get all the veggies the kids will eat on them and then those who hate it can pick it off after they try it first.You also earn Subway points on your card if you have one (if you don't ask for one) and you can redeem these later for free items.

Carl's Jr.
Great 99 cent chicken sandwich. Kids eat free on Wednesday with paying adult

Basically the rules to saving money when eating out boil down to this:
1.Go through the drive through to order main meal items and supplement at home or take it to the park. You'll spend less and eat better.
2. If you are eating in the fast food place, bring your supplements (drinks, fruit, chips, etc.) from home.
3. Use coupons
4. Eat off the dollar menu
5. Drink water--healthy and cheap
6. Share large portions--one large fry can feed a family of 6 if you let it.