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Friday, December 30, 2011

Mystery Solved

Some of you may remember that I won a local photo/essay contest last fall, but I couldn't remember what picture I entered, or what I wrote. Yep, losing my mind at an early age. Well last night we solved the mystery.

This is the picture that I am now "famous" for. The exhibit isn't big--about 12 pictures, but mine is one. I named the entry "Wild Child" and wrote about all the good things Utah has to offer families. This trip was a great memory for all of us. We love Snow Canyon, where this pic was taken. There was something for everyone--sand, rocks, hiking, easy walks, beautiful sunsets, picnic areas and more.

To see the exhibit up close and personal, it will be at the Taylorsville Library in January, Draper Library in February, Kearns Library in March, Millcreek Library in April, Tyler Library in May and South Jordan Library during June and July.

Like I said, not a huge exhibit, but my baby is now almost famous.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Goodbye 2011

We had a great Christmas. Everyone got what they wanted, and there were a few surprises. My favorite gift was a Dutch Oven from my parents. I've wanted one for so long and now I have it. It was a very thoughtful, wonderful surprise. My other favorite thing was watching Andy open his new U of U watch--a total surprise, his face was like a kid's. He's the best and deserves a surprise now and then.

Aside from the normal holiday hassle, it was a great celebration. Some highlights not soon to be forgotten include a church service where our bishop was talking about the Virgin Mary, S. Sue asked what a virgin was. Any other mother would have quieted their child and explained later, but I seized the opportunity (much to my husband's shock) and threw a little immaculate conception education her way. Now she, and the row of people behind us are a little more knowledgeable. Consider it my way of paying it forward. Sometimes I feel that when an opportunity to educate my kids pops up, it needs to be taken, no matter where you are.

The other fantastic memory would have to be the baby kicking a dining chair down the stairs and making some lovely new marks in the wall. The wall will get fixed by 2012's end, I am sure.

I am done with 2011. There were some great experiences like our family vacation to St. George, the birthday parties, surviving being a momentary single parent, finishing our kitchen/office remodel and learning new things. Hopefully you've learned something new from this year's posts.

We are preparing to ring in the new year with family game night and pretty much constant eating of tiny foods like little smokies, chips and dip, chicken wings, clam chowder and leftover Christmas candy. Diet starts on Tuesday. Looking forward to a new year. Here's a new recipe link for the new year Best of Betty 2011, enjoy.

Hope you check the blog out in 2012.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wrap It Up

I am almost done wrapping the gifts. It's going to be a fun holiday. I can't wait to see some faces on Christmas morning. With that in mind, I am taking a break from the blog, knowing that you will all be partying and eating so you won't be cooking or looking for great finds.

Although, you know the after Christmas sales may be worth hitting, and if they are, my hiatus will be temporarily interrupted.

This last week has been rough and busy. Book reports, storytelling reports, Chinese projects, Christmas breakfasts, parties, neighbor gifts, etc. I am not complaining, just tired.

We are about halfway through our 12 Days of Christmas project. We delivered a small treat based on the song "The 12 Days of Christmas" to a couple of families in our area who needed some extra cheer. Each of the older kids have had a chance to secretly deliver the gift. All went well, except for J-Dog who was really more interested in the recipient knowing it was us rather than keeping it a secret--that was on day 2. Luckily S. Sue literally grabbed him off the porch and hid him behind a tree, with her hand over his mouth, so the secret is still safe. So, although I told her not to go outside, her intuition was right. Obviously mother doesn't always know best.

It's been fun to watch the kids get the spirit of giving. That really is a gift to our family. May this season bring you Joy. Looking forward to a happy and hope filled 2012.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Food for Thought

The other night I let the twins watch "Whitney" with me. S. Sue asked if Whitney and Alex were married. I told her no, they just lived together. Very innocently she looked at me with raised eyebrows and asked, "Why??" I replied with, "Some people choose to do it, but we'd prefer if you didn't." I realize we live in an imperfect world. If the world were perfect, they'd be able to learn from all my mistakes without having to actually make them.

My job is to teach my kids right from wrong, knowing that they'll make mistakes. The second part of my job is helping them recover from the aftermath of those mistakes. Our little conversation made me think about what I am teaching my kids when they aren't looking. Are the messages they get from what I watch contrary to what I say? Yep. I hate double standards. The thought of "Do as I say, not as I do," isn't a comfortable thought for me. My Dad sent me the following, and I had to share. No matter what your religious or political views are, it is worth reading and thinking about how we treat "The Stranger."

The Stranger
A few years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around from then on. 

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind, he had a special niche. My parents were complementary instructors: Mom taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey. But the stranger... He was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies. 


If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future! He took my family to the first major league ball game. He made me laugh, and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind. 

Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet. 

(I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.) 
Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home - not from us, our friends or any visitors. After our long time visitor stayed longer he became more daring however, and even got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush. My Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol but the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (much too freely!) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.. 
I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked... And NEVER asked to leave. 
More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first.
 Still, if you could walk into my parents' den today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures. 
His name?....
We just call him 'TV.' 
Note: This should be required reading for every household!)
 
He has a wife now....we call her 'Computer.'
 
Their first child is "Cell Phone".
 
Second child "I Pod
 "  
 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fun Freebie

You all know how much I love cupcakes. I have stickers, stamps, plates, glitter all with cupcakes. Not to mention the cupboard in my kitchen dedicated to them. I had to share this freebie with you!

Tomorrow, Dec 15th from 4-7pm local time, Maggie Moo’s will be giving out Free Ice Cream Cupcakes!  No purchase is necessary!

ENJOY!

Thanks Melea for giving me this post idea.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December Scrapbook Post and Wrap Up

1. What am I eating for dinner today? Cafe Rio Pork
2. Who was the last person I talked to on the phone? Dad
3. What color did I wear today? Red and Blue
4. What was the last good thing I read? FB post about "Damn You Autocorrect"
5. What's one goal I have accomplished this week? Finished extended family's gifts
6. What's one thing I need to work on? Keeping track of things
7. Today's best thought? Only 4 more days til Friday
8. One word to sum up today is? Exhaustion
9. One worry or concern? Schedule Overload and guilt I can't be 2 places at once
10. Favorite thing I did this week? Amazing Race and ice cream with the kids

So I've done this post for a year now. What have I learned? I talk to my husband and Dad more than anyone else. I think that's good. They are two of the most important people in my life. I've worried a lot--and will continue to worry about money, kids, time, etc. I sum that up to part of the human experience. I really like Mexican food. I'd eat it for every meal if I could. I am pretty productive and like to set goals (already knew this was part of my personality, but it comes through loud and clear in my writing). 2011 was a hard year, but overall a good one. I met lots of new friends and have given a lot to my community. It's been a frustrating year filled with uncertainty, and yet, I won't ignore the tremendous blessings we've received physically and spiritually to make it through. You may remember we started this year with everyone throwing up and really sick. We're ending the year with a croupy cough, but I'll take it over the beginning of the year.

I really hope there's a light at the end of our proverbial tunnel in 2012. Let's ring in a New Year with hope for our country, economy, families and friends.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Meals, Deals and Steals

I think I am losing my mind. I went to Sam's Club, bought a whole bunch of stuff including a box of 50 bags of chips. Then we went to make lunches and there were no chips. I checked the receipt and somehow the chips made it off the shelf, into the cart, onto the conveyor belt, but NOT through the check out. How???

Then I've lost an entire bag of candy, 2 rolls of tape and some glue. I bought it all at the same time, in the same place, but after 2 hours of ripping my house apart---nothing. Although now my closets and dressers are clean.

Seriously, I am getting old and losing it. If I don't write "it" down, out the window of my mind it goes...forever. Maybe it's the increasing numbers of grey hair. Maybe it's the time of year. Maybe I try to do 100 things at the same time. Yeah, it's something.

So here's the post for this week...here's to hoping Santa returns my mind and sanity this year.

Meals
Haystacks. Normally I don't get super excited for this meal, but J-Dog is helping me cook tonight. Should be an experience, watching him meticulously place each item in their prearranged dish in rainbow color order.

Rachel Ray Turkey Chili and Grilled Ham and Cheese

Greek Spaghetti
2 lbs.                       Stew meat
1 (12 oz.) can           Tomato paste
1 pinch                    Cinnamon
½ tsp.                      Oregano
½ tsp.                      Basil
½ tsp.                      Garlic salt
3 small                     Beef bullion cubes
1                              Onion, chopped
1/4 cup                    Water
Salt and Pepper    

Saute Onion and brown meat in large frying pan
Add tomato paste, spices, water and bullion, simmer 5 minutes
Put all ingredients into Crock Pot, add 2 cups of water and cook on High for 2 hours
Add water as necessary. Serve over pasta

Mexican Pork Roast
I like this version Cafe Rio Pork

Remake a second night for Pork Tacos



Deals Today Include
Amazon X Box Deal
Right now, pick up the 4GB Xbox 360 with Kinect Bundle for $299.99. Plus, if you order it through this page on Amazon, you will get an $80 credit!  Making your total only $219.99 for both the Xbox and Kinect! 2 Days after your order ships, Amazon will email you a special $80 promotion code you can use on any other Amazon order!

Walmart is doing a crazy sale on Xbox Games… you can get 3 select games for only $30!  That means, each game is only $10.  And that is the lowest price I have ever seen on a bunch of the participating titles.Shipping is $.97, or free if your total is over $45. 

Bebe Bella Designs http://www.bebebelladesigns.com/ up to 75% off. Discount codes are on the website.

Target
Right now Target is taking 50% off select LEGO sets! Here are the sets that are available with the 50% off discount:
Finish Line
Right now, Finish Line is doing a 2 for $40 sale on their Women’s and Men’s Hooded NCAA Fleece Sweatshirts!  But, if you purchase 4 of them and then use coupon code PUGKGPD1SB at checkout, your total will drop to $65!!  Plus, shipping is automatically free. That makes each Sweatshirt only $16.25- when they are normally $50 individually! **If you have a hard time finding the deal, just search on the Finish Line Site for “NCAA Fleece”.  They should pop up.  Then, you can narrow down by school. I bought these for Andy and me this year. They are great quality, wear and fit well. Definitely worth the purchase.

This is just a sample of great Christmas ideas.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Traditions

Some of my favorite childhood memories include my aunt and uncle playing their guitars and my mom singing Christmas music. I can't carry a tune in a bucket, Thank God for Ipods, but I do love music. Still, those memories are precious since many of those people who made my childhood holidays so special, are no longer here. I want to create those same types of memories for my kids, so here's a few things we've chosen to do.

Every year since Andy and I met, we've taken one night to get Hot Chocolate and donuts and drive around different neighborhoods admiring (and sometimes laughing at--seriously, Christmas Pigs??) different Christmas lights. There's probably no better sight than Temple Square. A close second is Christmas Street in Sugarhouse. We've seen a lot and are amazed at the amount of time, money and energy some people put into the yearly tradition of decorating. I guess that's why "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" strikes such a cord with many of us. Art imitating life.

This year we've found a great new tradition to keep Christ in Christmas. In an effort to protect Mary, Joseph, the Sheppard, the wiseguys (aka wisemen), animals and baby Jesus from the curious hands of my toddler, we are putting out one piece at a time. Kind of a 12 days of Christmas to unveil the whole manger scene. I found this 12 Days of Christmas idea here. There's a poem, song or scripture to accompany each piece from the Nativity set.

It's really helped us keep the focus on the Reason for the Season.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Money Saving Tips

I was asked to teach a class about saving money. I don't know how I feel about it, because although I have a lot of knowledge to share, there are so many ways people choose to spend money. I feel like what I say is ignored. The last class I taught was so full of ladies speaking over me, or making "funny" jokes that I feel like I don't want to share. Then I get frustrated because that sounds selfish.

So thanks to an emotional and creative outlet, which this blog has become, I will share some tips once again on how I save money.

Planning. There. Done. Plan how you are going to spend what you ACTUALLY HAVE and stick to it. Wow. I feel better. Don't buy a book telling you how to save money, or spend money on classes that will magically make you rich. Just DON'T SPEND IT IF YOU DON'T HAVE IT.

Easily said, not so easily done.

Here's some advice --follow it only if you are SERIOUS about saving money.

FOOD
Look at the ads. If you are local, sign up for MoneyBags Utah through Media One. These are free Sunday ads and coupons, delivered to you for free. Also check your mailboxes. There are likely coupons and ads there too.

Once you've seen the ads, pick one or two stores with the most savings for YOU and then MAKE A LIST. Plan your meals around what's on sale. You can plan one or two weeks at a time, or for a month. I do one big trip a month, and then one much smaller trip for milk and produce.

Now you have a meal plan for at least a week, and saved money. If you want to save more, match your coupons with your ad. I get that coupons are overwhelming and some people don't like to do them. Then just ad match at Wal-Mart or shop the ads and buy what's on sale--saving money without coupons.

FUN
Check out the many coupon/discount sites and PLAN around what's available. Date night should be fun and memorable. So find something free, think college/high school budget, and go have fun. Groupon, Living Social, City Deals, Grouppigg, Spreebird and others offer great daily deals. I suggest also, set up a babysitting swap with other family members or friends. That way you can save on sitters too.

FRIVOLITY
A big part of our budget used to be "eaten" by friends birthday parties. They came up unexpectedly and with 5 kids, it seems someone is always going to one. So I came up with a gender neutral gift, bought in bulk and then added personal details to for the birthday girl or boy. For instance I bought a ton of art supplies on clearance a few years ago. Each time one of my kids friends has a party, we make a personalized kit with the birthday person's name on it--we've used everything from craft boxes to paint cans to shoe boxes, and filled it with markers, crayons, papers, scissors, glue, and pencils. For the girls we added hair bows and lip gloss; for the boys we added candy and water guns. They all turned out cute and personalized for the party person, without breaking the bank. Plus my kids got to really help, instead of me just handing them a bag.

Their Dad also made them do an extra chore to two to earn the present they were given. Since we want them to know the value of a dollar.

Remember that it really is the thought that counts. Take time to think about that person--what's their favorite color, treat, movie, past time, meal....and see where your creativity takes you.

FINALLY
Rank your spending priorites and then follow your budget.
I'd like to go on a trip without kids. The reality of that is about 10 years away. So, I am not going to plan or save for that, since I know it's a want, not a need. However, I love my house and don't want to lose it, so paying my mortgage is my first priority. Followed by our savings plan, food, utilities, gas for cars, fun. So if I run out of money before I get to the end of my list, then the end of the list gets cut, or postponed.

There is a difference between living rich and being wealthy. Appearances are merely a veneer, and if I ever stop having kids, and get some money back into my own pockets, we're on our way to living wealthy, credit card free, debt free, and vacationing in Hawaii.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Countdown Days 3, 2 & 1

If you are still following along our 12 Day Countdown is nearly done.

#3- Hopefully by now, you've planned out your menu and maybe even price matched it at Walmart; found some new traditions, traded some recipes and baked some wonderful cookies. You table decor should be on its way, so now the kids should be entertained, and you've maybe even become more thankful for what you have by helping someone else. My, you've been busy. Today, take a rest, read a book, go for a walk, write a list of what you are thankful for. You've earned a break.

#2- Don't forget to remember. Get out a camera and take pictures of your events. If the whole family is getting together now may be a good time to photograph generations together or siblings together, or children and grandchildren in one happy group. One of the coolest pictures I've ever seen is my cousin  with his mom, grandma, great-grandma and great-great grandma. I don't know how many people are able to do that.

#1- Have Fun doing whatever you are doing on Thanksgiving. Sometimes all the planning outweighs the people. Plan ahead and have things ready, but enjoy what you are doing. This is an opportunity to reconnect with loved ones you may not have seen for awhile. Indulge in pumpkin pie and good conversation. You'll make memories to last a lifetime.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Countdowns Number 6, 5 & 4

Pinecone Turkey
 #6- Make that table FUN. The kids are going to be home anyway, so put them to work making these cute name place holders to decorate your table. Cut feathers out of paper or tissue paper; glue your felt turkey face to a pine cone--make the kids hunt for these around the yard to get that extra energy out, and viola, place cards for your table.




Depending on your taste and style you can make easy decor for any home. Gather leaves and twigs from the yard to use in vases. Or, you can buy pre-made decor at craft stores; don't forget your coupons. You can also use wooded 2 x 4s and cut them into different sizes, then spray glue different images or letters on them for a new centerpiece.

#5- Visit the library and get a new book about our country's history, or a story book about Thanksgiving. There are a million out there. One of my favorites is P is for Pilgrims: A Thanksgiving Alphabet by Carol Crane and America : A Patriotic Primer by Lynne Cheney.

#4- Prioritize your Shopping List. Ok, so if your list isn't even written yet, you have permission to stop reading and get it together. You know things are going fast. Check online this week to see your store's Black Friday deals. Don't forget the Monday after Thanksgiving is Cyber Monday and there will be online deals galore. Also, please use your ebates account when shopping online. It will save you money so you can pay the Visa bill after the holidays.

Stay Tuned....

Friday, November 18, 2011

More Countdown to Thanksgiving

And we continue our countdown to Thanksgiving today by sharing a favorite recipe.

#7- I love to get great recipes that I can really impress people with. This is a keeper. Wendy Paul's Brown Sugar Maple Cookie. Try this, you won't be sorry. Share the cookies and the recipes with someone you are thankful for.

Brown Sugar Maple cookie *NEW* recipe

2/3 dark brown sugar
1 cup butter, soft
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2- 3/4 cup flour
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp. maple flavoring
1 tbsp. melted butter
1-2 tbsp. milk or cream

Cream together sugar and butter. Add eggs, vanilla, baking soda and salt. Mix until just combined. Gradually add the flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing until combined. Do not over mix this dough. Scoop dough into medium sized rounds, and place on a cookie sheet (approx. 24) and freeze for 20-30 minutes.

Remove from the freezer and bake on a separate cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and let stand on the cookie sheet 1-2 minutes longer to set. Cool on a rack until room temperature and glaze. (recipe follows)

Whisk together powdered sugar, maple flavoring, butter and milk or cream. I like my glazes somewhat on the thicker side, that way most of it stays on the top of the cookie and doesn't fall off. Drizzle over baked and cooled cookies.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More 12 Days of Thanksgiving Countdown

If you've been following along, here's countdown days 9 and 8 for Thanksgiving.

#9- I am thankful for others who share their time and money savings ideas. Like this one. I borrowed this from a FB post by Marnec. Disclaimer, I haven't tried this yet (still trying to find the paper bags from our last craft project), but the PYP site I saw this on, is pretty reliable. Let me know if it works for you.

You will need:
A brown paper lunch sack
1/4 c. popcorn kernels
some tape

Pour the popcorn kernels into the brown paper bag, fold over once and tape closed. Put into the microwave. Microwave on high for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Remember all microwaves are different, so this is just an approximate time. You don’t want to burn your popcorn so watch it closely.

Now the popcorn is all done! The bag should be nice and full.

Now you can enjoy some popcorn, how you like it! This is the best part. Here are some things you can add to customize your popcorn:


spray butter
Parmesan cheese
chili powder
cinnamon & sugar
#8- Make a new tradition. Yes, we have Christmas traditions, but why not put a special emphasis on something new this year. One of my pet peeves is people decorating for Christmas in September, or even November. Enjoy the holiday--the holiday which is actually occurring NOW, not next month.

You can do a food, blanket or hygiene drive for a local charity. Where we live Wendy's (the burger chain) is collection warm blankets, coats, hats and mittens. Grab a frosty with the kids (fyi kid size frosties are .50 cents) and donate your new or gently used items to those in need. Also many stores have drops for local food banks (Harmons, Jiffy Lube, Smiths, Rock Creek Pizza, just to name a few). This is an easy and convenient way to help out. Or you can gather your gently used household items and clothes and donate them to a local Big Brothers/Big Sisters blue drop box, or another local place in your area. Now you have room to put all that stuff that Santa (or whomever) brings.

If service projects are too overwhelming, pop some corn and watch "Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving." I love that show, actually all of the CB holiday shows bring back great childhood memories for me.

Happy Turkey Time ~Katie

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thankful For...Part Deux

I am thankful for a husband who has flexible time at work, so he can come take care of my puking baby while I take my four year old to a preschool field trip. I am also thankful for a friend who was willing to watch her and offered to come anytime. I am thankful for an awesome new washer that will wash comforters, so I don't have to go to a laundromat. I am thankful for friends who sympathize when I tell them I've been up at 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. the past two mornings, and don't pass judgement.

This is the payday of a parent people. Think long and hard before committing to it. This is not a job for the weak stomached, faint of heart wussies who think being a parent is like getting a cute new purse, boots or an awesome car. Kids are not an accessory. Sure people will look at your kids, or your stuff, and oohh and awww, but it's you who is ultimately responsible when crap hits the fan--or the sheets, or the carpet, etc.

To get out of my own pity party, I started thinking about our service project for our neighbors. I decided to do "The 12 Days of Christmas," I know pretty original right? So I found a couple of great websites, http://www.tipjunkie.com/, and they had everything I needed. Silver lining to my day, since I can't run errands with a sick kid, I can still accomplish something. I will of course, put my own "spin" on it and share that with you in the future.

I also wanted to pass along some Thanksgiving time ideas, in parallel to the 12 Days of Christmas theme. How about the 12 Blessings of Thanksgiving? Or 12 Turkey Tales? Maybe 12 ways to scrimp and save and still have an awesome holiday? Ok, ok... hold your breath, it's about to get good....

12 Time Saving, Money Saving Ideas that Will Bless You and Yours (insert fireworks and a Dun, Dun, Da-dun-dun Da-dun here)

#12- Make a memory and a cute cookie. Decorate large round sugar cookies or cupcakes like a turkey. Better yet, use a Nutter Butter for the body, and flattened marshmallows for feathers. Cut a large marshmallow into slices, form into a leaf or feather shape and decorate the sticky part with different colored sprinkles. Share some with friends, and take pictures.

#11- Plan your dinner now, and AD MATCH. I compared Target, Walmart and Smith's this week. Although Smith's had some good prices, they are getting a new coupon policy, and depending on the cashier, it's being interpreted differently. So, I say, AD MATCH at Walmart. I did this last week, with no problem. I suggest doing this trip separately from a large shopping trip, if you have that blessing of time.

#10- If you have the blessing of enjoying a few days off during the holiday, make it FUN. Eating and catching up is so 2010. Do something fun with your family and friends. Try the game Apples to Apples, Cranium or old fashioned Charades. You will learn new things about your family dynamics and probably laugh a bit of those calories off.

Tune in Next Time for More.....

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mealtime Monday

We had a good friend pass away last week. She had the "Big C." I think it's a swear word. Her husband and Andy are scout enthusiasts. She was one of the most positive people I've ever met. She literally radiated joy and kindness. We are all better for having known her. Thanks for everything Miss Gae.

Now how to tactfully make the transition to feed your family this week is beyond me. My tact is locked up in the same security deposit box as my compassion, so just remember when you are making your meals this week to tell those who mean something to you that you love and appreciate them, and you are showing your love with delicious food.

This week's Menu

Baked Ziti * I have recently discovered Davinci pasta. It's divine and I love it more than most pastas. Look for the little blue bag and give it a try. Sauce nicely coats this divine dinner, you won't be sorry.

Toad in a Hole * When cold weather sets in, we crave comfort food. This is a relic from Andy's time in England. Basically it's a Yorkshire Pudding with a cooked piece of sausage inside.

1 c. flour
1 1/4 c. milk
3 eggs
pinch of salt
Mix the above together in a pitcher and let rest for 30 min.
Meanwhile, heat your oven to 425. Place a muffin tin on a cookie tray and place in oven for 5 min., once the oven is up to temperature. Once it's hot, add 1-2 tsp. of vegetable oil to the tray and warm it up for 5 more minutes. Open your windows so the smoke detectors don't explode.

Pour the batter into the hot, oiled tray cups. Bake for 10, reduce oven to 350 deg. and cook another 10-20 min. until desired crispiness is achieved. I do mine about 15 min.

Cook your desired sausage. Place section of cooked sausage inside puff and serve. I like the Jennie-O turkey link sausage or Chicken Sausage, but anything will do.

Tomato Basil Ravioli Soup soup and Grilled cheese * click the link for my recipe

Chicken Enchiladas * I love the recipe on the La Victoria can, but everyone has a recipe for this. I also make 2 pans and freeze one for later.

Shepherd's Pie * Click the link for my recipe. My kids love this, it's easy, and total comfort food.

Happy Eating. ~Katie

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thankful For....

If you're on Facebook you know about the trend to post something you're thankful for each day. It is that time of year, and while we should be thankful everyday, this is the time of year we are reminded to say things (post things) out loud.

Like I've said before I spent 13 years in social services, helping, guiding and providing for those who've fallen on hard times. I am thankful for that experience. It has taught me a lot and made me more aware of how much I really have. This past week we sat down for Family Night and S. Sue was in charge our activity. She had us make Thankful Hand Turkeys. Ya know, trace your hand and write a blessing on each finger and make your thumb into a turkey face. She put the stipulation that we couldn't list home, clothes, family or food because "we already know that we are all thankful for those." See, someone listens when I perch on my soapbox.

So instead the kids listed things like school, medicine, church, the garden (ditto), books, a job (yeah) and Sponge Bob (ok, there always has to be an outlier in the bunch).

I am thankful for S.Sue and her sensitivity to others. She is a compassionate person (not a genetic trait since mine is locked away in a far off safety deposit box). She is a trustworthy friend and sister. She has a sarcastic edge (don't know where she found that...) and loves to serve others.

I am thankful for Lala. She is sweet and gentle. She makes peace and is great with compromise. She is patient (where she gets it, I don't know). She is a loyal friend and sticks up for the little guy.

I am thankful for J-Dog. He has an amazing memory and is a quick learner. He is my only child I don't have to repeat myself to and he remembers what I say. He's not perfect, but he's darn close. He is tenderhearted and looks and acts so much like his Dad, I have no doubt he will be successful.

I am thankful for Little D. She is spunky, firey, smart, sometimes smart alec, funny, sugar and spice and everything nice. She has given me a run for my money since the beginning and I am glad, she keeps life interesting.

I am thankful for my baby. She is sweet and mellow. She reminds me everyday how simple life should be. She radiates pure joy--mostly cuz she's still learning and discovering things. She's fun to watch and loves to cuddle.

I am thankful for my husband. He doesn't usually read this blog--no, I don't take it personally. There are too many things to list so I will just say he's the best choice I've made in my whole life. He is the most kind, dedicated, loyal friend I've ever found and I am so glad he's mine (FOREVVVVER!)

I don't say it enough but I am thankful to all of my family who have supported us through tough times and good times. For those of you who "get" me and my sarcasm and hang out with me anyway. For those of you who know what to say (and more importantly what not to say) when my eyes start rolling. And for those of you that take time to mean it when you ask how we are.

I am thankful for a free country, a somewhat crooked sense of humor, good values, good judgement, chocolate and Diet Coke, smart doctors, and a good upbringing.

THANK YOU!!!

What are you thankful for????

Friday, November 11, 2011

Awesome Giveaway

Emergency Essentials has an awesome give away. Post one of their Blog Buttons on your blog or website and receive a $10 gift card. They have great stuff for long term storage and emergency preparedness.  Visit www.preparednesspantry.blogspot.com for more details.

Happy Freebie Day.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Baby, Baby, Baby Ohhh

Forgive the title. I do not have Beiber Fever, but I have tweens. And we are not having another baby, just thought I'd scare ya for a minute. However, if you know someone who is have I got a deal for you.

http://www.carseatcanopy.com/ is offering one carseat canopy like this one, for FREE.
There are several to choose from. It's a $50 value, FREE. You do have to pay shipping which is $17.00, but it's a great gift for under $20. I have one a friend made me and have loved it. Use code LKF47A3.

Another great idea is from http://www.sevenslings.com/. Use code H424KNV90 and get a $48 sling for $11.95. The sling is FREE, you pay for shipping. These come in custom sizes so it fits you perfectly. These are great, wish I'd had one to carry around my kiddos. Here's a pic.

Black Magic

A third great gift idea is from http://www.uddercovers.com/. Love the name. These guys sell nursing covers. With code JHV33RK09 you get the cover FREE, and pay $9.95 for shipping.



Also don't forget to check out http://www.bebebelladesigns.com/ for some awesome Minky blankets, hats, mittens, bibs, etc. I bought some stuff for Xmas from these guys and it's awesome. I think I love it more than the kids getting it will. They have great sales, and if you sign up for their e-newsletter you get 10% off.

Great ideas for baby showers, birthdays and Christmas, at a great deal. Now aren't you glad you read my blog today? You now possess the ability to give unique, boutique style items for what it would cost to make it, and you don't have to spend time swearing at your sewing machine (I know I'm not the only one...).

Please feel free to pass on my link to everyone you know that wants great ideas.

Monday, November 7, 2011

November Scrapbook Post

1. What am I eating for dinner today? Sweet Chicago
2. Who was the last person I talked to on the phone? Brenda
3. What color did I wear today? purple
4. What was the last good thing I read? Mjr. Pettigrew's Last Stand
5. What's one goal I have accomplished this week? Waxed eyebrows!!
6. What's one thing I need to work on? Donations for PTO Fundraiser
7. Today's best thought? I married my BFF
8. One word to sum up today is? Organized
9. One worry or concern? Getting my ebates
10. Favorite thing I did this week? Movie and pizza night w/ the family; planned by the hubs cuz he ate dinner for lunch.

Mealtime Monday

Back on track this week....

Mealtime Monday
Pizza. Sweet Chicago Home is cooking for us tonight. Family Movie Night. B1G1 free at SCH tonight. If you haven't tried them, go NOW. Every week they have a special, this week's is especially good. I recommend the deep dish Planetarium.

Tuesday
Chicken Pillows

Wednesday
Pigs in a blanket and macaroni

Thursday
Minestrone Soup and grilled cheese

Friday
Fish tacos

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mealtime Monday/Tip Saving Tuesday

I hate holidays on a Monday. I bet teachers hate it more. Sugar crazed kids, deprived of sleep, send 'em to school in a freezing blizzard. They don't get paid enough.

So the holiday threw me a curve ball, and I was having so much fun with my kids (seriously) that I haven't had a minute to post, until now.

Meals for this week include

Meatloaf and German Potatoes

Stuffing Meatballs
   These are like an early Thanksgiving.
  1 bag (8 ounces) herb seasoned stuffing cubes
  1 cup hot water
  1 egg or egg white 
  1 tablespoon ground sage
  1 pound ground turkey breast
  1 can (16 ounces) jellied cranberry sauce; I like it whole berries, but either works
   1/4 cup sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the stuffing, water, egg white, and sage; mix well. Add the ground turkey; mix well. Roll into 1-inch balls and place the meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet that has been coated with nonstick spray. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked through, turning halfway through the baking.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the cranberry sauce and sugar over low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar melts. Place in a bowl and serve with the meatballs.
    Makes about 4 dozen meatballs
Chicken Pot Pie (even though J-Dog hates it)

2 Pie pastry shells
1-14.5 oz. can chicken broth
2 cups cooked, diced chicken
1 bags frozen peas and carrots
4 medium red potatoes, diced
1/2 cup diced onion
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup flour
salt, pepper, and Lawry’s seasoning salt to taste.

In a deep dish frying pan, saute chicken and onion in olive oil.  Add 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 35-40 minutes @ 400 degrees.

Italian Chicken and grilled veggies
Marinade chicken breasts in Italian dressing for 1 hour. Grill

Tips For Tuesday
Save 25% on all toys at http://www.mattle.com/ with code FRIENDS25

Save an extra 30% at http://www.payless.com/, can combine w/ BOGO sale, and free ship to store. Code 56302

Halo Heaven sale on costumes, little girls tutus, hair things, wands, etc. http://www.haloheaven.com/. Extra 10% off with AUTUMN

Bebe Bella designs has a 70% off their Minky blankets. http://www.bebebelladesigns.com/. I have one of these for our baby, and it rocks.

Walmart and Target are clearancing out the Halloween stuff at 50% off. Also Walmart.com has costumes starting at $2 and free ship to store.

This is my favorite time of year. Eating and shopping without excuse, what's better than that??

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cheap, but Cute, Christmas Ideas

I have so many ideas today. You know those days when inspiration comes flowing out?? Maybe it's sleep deprivation.

Anyway here are a few cute ideas for the teachers, friends, sisters, sister-in-laws, neighbors and others in your life, that won't break the bank.

Soup- Soup in a soup bowl. "Thanks for being a super teacher." You can buy canned soup and bread bowls and wrap it up in a cellophane bag or basket. You could also buy big bowls/mugs (check the dollar stores or Tai Pan Trading) and place bagged soup inside. If you wanted to go a step further for someone trying to add to their food storage, buy a case of canned soup. Check http://www.campbells.com/ for coupons. You could also attach a favorite family soup recipe to the tag.

Jewelry- I don't care how old you are, girls love jewelry. Michael's crafts has their beads on 50% off this week. It's super easy to whip up a necklace, bracelet or earrings that look boutique-style, but don't cost a ton. There are a ton of charms out there to embellish your design. Wal-Mart also has a surprising amount of cute beads and findlings.

Scarves- These are super popular this year. Knitted scarves (make it or buy it at http://www.payless.com/. Use code 56271 for an extra 20% off, and right now is BOGO sale. Buy one, get one 1/2 off. Plus free shipping to a store near you.) You can also make them out of thin fabric from the craft store--sheer, gauzy fabric with a print works well.

My favorite idea is an upcycled scarf from t-shirt material. There are several styles, but my favorite is the frilly one. You cut 8-10 circles out of your t-shirt using an 8 or 9 inch paper plate. Cut the circles in a 2 inch spiral. Then glue the ends of the strips together in two's. You could also sew them. Run your fingers down the sides of the strip and they will turn under. Then taking a scrap of material tie the sections all together where you glued/sewed them. I also like to use a clip or fancy pin in the front. I made one for the twins this weekend and they are a HUGE hit.

Scented lotions/lip gloss- "Merry Kissmass." Avon has a huge sale and free shipping over $10. Lotions start at .79 cents and lip gloss at .69 cents.

Gum/ candy- clean out an old pickle jar, or other glass jar, paint the top and fill it with your favorite candy. "Thanks for being so 'sweet'" or "Have a 'sweet' year" may be an appropriate tag. You could even go so far as to make homemade peanut clusters or peppermint bark--not hard, I promise. There's always coupons for gum and candy coupons, or you could score some clearance candy at Amazon, Target or Walmart in the next few days.

Music- burn a CD of your favorite holiday music, or fun stuff your kids like, or what you like. With cheap Amazon or Itunes MP3 downloads and Freegal, this is a thoughtful gift with lots of possibilities.

Emergency Kit- When my college friends get married I make them a "survival kit" for the wedding day. I include things like safety pins, clear nail polish, double sided tape, gum, lip gloss, Kleenex, etc. This way if they run into an emergency hopefully there's something in there to help them out. The same thing can be done for gifts for anyone. Check out the travel section of your local beauty aisle for ideas. I put all my items in a pencil case or make up bag, something small, and try to personalize it with their name or at least get it in a favorite color.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Party

You may remember from previous posts that although I LOVE Halloween, I despise Trick-or-Treating with kids. They get cold, and whine, don't want to wear the costume they originally picked, or they have to pee when we are miles from a bathroom. Then there's the wheelin' and dealin' of candy control (times five) and bargaining on who can eat how much, what tooth care will be required and the fall out when too much sugar has been reached.

This year Halloween is on a Monday, and the local schools celebrate it on Monday. However, the Trick-or-Treating is being done anywhere from Friday night to Monday night, probably more than once. I am turning off the lights once again and we will be having our annual pizza bash in the basement.

This year we are scoring some pumpkin shaped pizza and bread sticks, watching Young Frankenstein and consuming a minimal amount of candy. Each child chose their favorite snack pack and we're sharing. We are also supporting the local Trunk-or-Treat so the kids can hang out with their friends, play games, get candy from neighbors they know and participate in the chili cook off.

Hopefully I'll remember the camera so if anyone ever complains about not having a "fun" Halloween, I can whip out the scrapbook and have proof positive that they did have fun at least once.

Keepin' it simple.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mealtime Monday

It's Fall, and it's cool, and I am learning to master the crockpot.

This week is soup/stew week, although that is really just more work, cuz D. and J-Dog won't eat most soup. But hey, maybe if they are offered it 12-15 times (like the "experts" say) they will get sick of me asking and just eat it.

Tomato Basil Ravioli Soup (for the crockpot)
2 Tbsp butter
3 (14 1/2 oz) cans diced tomatoes, drained, juice reserved
1 small onion, diced finely
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp flour
3 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup
evaporated milk
12 oz frozen ravioli
1 1/2 tsp dried basil

Melt butter in skillet.  Add tomatoes, onions, tomato paste, 1/2 tsp salt and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat.  Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute longer.  Whisk in 1 cup of broth.  Transfer contents of skillet to the
slow cooker.  Stir in remaining broth, reserved tomato juice and bay leaves into slow cooker.  Cover and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours.  Discard the bay leaves.  Pour contents of slow cooker into a food processor or blender.  Blend until smooth.  Pour back into the slow cooker.  Stir in the milk, basil and ravioli.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 more hour, or until ravioli are cooked through.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Potato Cheese Soup
2 c.                  Chicken Stock
3                      Bay leaves
2 c.                  Milk
1/4 tsp.            white pepper (black works too)
4 tbsp.             Butter
4-6                   potatoes, diced
1/4 c.                Flour
½ tsp.              Salt

Heat chicken stock & milk in sauce pan over medium heat -almost boiling

In a large stock pot, melt butter and flour to make a roux (like a paste) Stir vigorously to blend;
add bay leaves, white pepper, potato and salt; pour milk and chicken stock into large stock pot with other ingredients

Simmer 15-20 minutes on low heat- it’s ready when potatoes are soft. Mash potatoes into soup.
Serve in bread bowls, topped with sour cream, cheese, onion, bacon bits (opt.)

Crock-pot Cream Cheese Chicken (crockpot)
Good Things Utah
Serves 6-8; can be cut in half

8 (or 4)     chicken breasts
2 (or 1)     8 oz. Pkg. Cream cheese
2 (or 1)     pkgs. Dry Italian seasoning/dressing mix
2 (or 1)     cans cream of mushroom soup

Soften cheese in microwave
Mix soup, cheese and Italian seasoning together
Place chicken in crock-pot and pour sauce over meat

Cover and cook 4-6 hours
Serve over rice or pasta

Sweet ‘N Sour Meatballs (can be done in crockpot, or pan)

Sauce:
1 can          Pineapple chunks
2 Tbsp.      Cornstarch
1/4 cup       Vinegar
1/4 cup       Brown sugar
2 Tbsp.      Soy sauce
1 cup          Coarsely chopped green pepper

Meatballs:
2/3 cup       Canned milk
1 ½ lb.       Hamburger
½ cup         Chopped onion
2/3 cup       Cracker crumbs
1 tsp.          Salt

Drain the pineapple.  Add enough water to syrup to make 1 cup liquid.  In saucepan, combine liquid, cornstarch, vinegar, brown sugar, and soy sauce.  Heat until thickened and clear.  Add pineapple and pepper.  Brown meatballs and drain.  Add sauce.  Cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes.  Serve over rice.

Cookie Salad
1 cup           grapes, halved
1 cup           strawberries, sliced
1 cup           bananas, sliced
1 cup           apples, cut into bite sized pieces
8 oz.           Cool Whip
1 pkg.         Shortbread cookies w/ fudge (such as Keebler Fudgestripe cookies)
1 package  Mini Marshmallows, used colored marshmallows for variety

Cut up all fruit, mix in Cool Whip. Break up cookies into small pieces, stir into mixture. Add Marshmallows

T.G.I. Friday's Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad

Ingredients

Chicken

4 four-oz. Chicken breasts
3 cups chopped pecans
2-cup flour
3 large eggs
1 oz. Milk

Glazed pecans

1 cup chopped pecans
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. Water

Salad
1 head romaine lettuce
¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
1 can mandarin oranges
½ cup craisins

Preparation

Chicken breasts


Mix 2 cups pecans with 1-cup flour and pulsate in blender or food mill. Mix eggs and milk for batter

Place leftover flour in one bowl, egg batter in second bowl, and pecan flour in third bowl.

Coat chicken first in flour, then in egg batter and third in pecan flour.

Sauté chicken breasts in vegetable oil over medium heat until browned on both sides.

Bake chicken breasts in oven at 350° for 7 to 8 minutes or until fully cooked, cool and slice.

Glazed pecans
Mix chopped pecans with brown sugar and water and heat, set aside.

Salad
Toss romaine lettuce with: Glazed pecans, Balsamic vinaigrette, Mandarin oranges
Craisins, Bleu cheese crumbles,Top with sliced chicken

Watch for our next post on how we handle Halloween on a weekday......

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fall Break Fun

Fall Break is coming our way this week. I am so looking forward to sleeping in....

Here's some fun ideas to keep you busy during your Fall Break, or day off, or vacation, whatever.

For little ones
http://www.storylineonline.net/
This website is so cool. It's presented by the Screen Actors Guild and has several celebs reading favorite children's books.

Barnes and Noble has an online story time too. Visit http://www.bn.com/
Don't forget Library visits for a more hands on experience.

Halloween Lantern
* One mason jar, with lid and band
* One glow stick
Break the stick and pour the liquid in the jar. Put on the lid and shake for about 1 minute. You will have a glowing lantern to spook up your porch.

Spider Hunt
Write the letters on the alphabet on cut out spiders, or orange plastic ring spiders. Hide them and let the kids search. When all the pieces are found let the critters find all the words they can spell with the letters they've found. Fun way to work on spelling and phonics, or just get some energy out.

Spooky Oreo Bats
Place a sucker stick in the bottom of an Oreo. Dip into melted chocolate and secure bat wings (either cut out of licorice or paper). Let dry and enjoy. Here's an example from Our Best Bites.



For Older Kids
Check out http://www.extension.usu.edu/
This is Utah State University's website and there's tons of stuff to learn about. There's a searchable index if you know what you want to learn about. Great resource for parents and kids.

"Bored" (yes, I know board) games are always fun. You can also make up your own rules to a board game you already own. We do this a lot, in part because I get bored playing the same way and having to explain "why" to little folks. Clue would be super fun this time of year.

Fly's Up
This is the old school football game of toss and catch. My kids LOVE this game. Instead of just plain old toss the football and everyone tries to catch it, we mix it up. If you catch the ball you get points--say 100 per catch. The first one to 500 gets to be the tosser. That's pretty basic. However you can take it one step further and do the last one to 500 has to do something as a penalty--run around the block screaming something funny, or jog in a circle for 30 seconds. You can make this into Truth or Dare or Minute to Win It, depending on the age/abilities of the kids. Be creative.

Dress Up movie day. Have each person dress up as their favorite character in a movie, and watch the show together. I love the Neil Simon movie "Murder By Death." It would probably go over kids' heads with the witty humor, but teens may get it, and any adult worth his weight would definitely appreciate the sarcasm.

Upside down Dinner
Let everyone pick one ingredient and figure out what to make for dinner using those ingredients. There can be lots of lead way in this. For example, mom can choose chicken and the kids can pick items to go in a chicken soup, casserole or side dish. Use http://www.allrecipes.com/ or http://www.kraftrecipes.com/ for ideas. You can type in what you have and the search will return recipe ideas.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Christmas Service

I have 3 things left to get and Christmas shopping is DONE. Jealous much???

Each year I try to get involved in the community, especially at Christmas, to help others. In the past we've participated in Candy Cane Corner and Toys for Tots, food drives, blanket drives and other non-profit projects to give a little to others.

This year we are bringing a little extra cheer home. Each of us is choosing a nearby family from our community and sending a little love their way this holiday season. There are many middle class families struggling this year. The double dipping economy, job loss, divorce, lack of health care and just plain loneliness hits families hard.

You know my mantra about service by now, if you've read this blog regularly. So here we are again finding ways to spread a little joy and get outside ourselves.

I haven't worked out the details, but something to do with a few goodies, a few kind words and a gift of service or two to the families struggling in my neighborhood. If you have any ideas I'd love to hear them.

If you want a Christmas to remember, try this idea with your own family. You won't be disappointed.

Merry Christmas (early, really early)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Kids fighting?? Here's a Solution

Kids fight. Kids fight with each other, their friends, their parents, and themselves. It's part of natural selection, or maybe just part of life. It's part of learning how to get along, although that seems like an oxymoron.

For a few months we've been dealing with equality. Punishments around here are all pretty equal. You break a rule, you sit in time out--I don't care how old you are, you need time to think. Then we talk about what happened, how to avoid it next time, apologize, and things move on. All pretty equal, right?

Well for some strange reason--OK not so strange we have a big family--every time I would compliment one kid, that would start a chain reaction of inequality. **Disclaimer** I do not have a favorite child, nor do I favor one child. They are each my favorite, just depends on the time of day who is my most favorite. So I would tell one they were a great writer, and out of nowhere came another kid, "but I'm good at math, huh Mom?" And then, "Well, I'm good at science. I'm the best in the class." Enter kid three, "What about me? I can tie my shoes faster than anyone."

I am not patient enough to go around the circle handing out meaningless compliments so no one gets their feelings hurt. Get real. But I do recognize that building a positive self-esteem should start at home. So I got a jar, and made it cutesy and then launched a plan.

Each week one person (parents too) is the STAR. The rest of us leave anonymous comments in the jar about what we appreciate, enjoy, admire, etc. about that person. Then at the end of the week we read all the compliments out loud. This way each sibling and parent has an opportunity to think about what this person means to them. J-Dog was first and he was beaming the rest of the day after he heard why we all love him. Even D. had nice things to say about him. They even played nice together and learned to solve a few disputes during the week.

I'm not saying the jar solved all our issues, we're still learning. But, after just a few weeks, there's a few more moments of quiet, and a few less moments of crazy. I know it's made us all think about ourselves a little less, and others a little more.