Thursday, September 30, 2010

White Chocolate Pumpkin Shells




These little punkins were so much fun to make. They took minutes. I melted white chocolate and added a bit of food coloring. Stirred it and used my silicone pastry brush to brush the inside of my Charlotte flexipan with orange chocolate. I set it in the freezer for about 5 minutes and popped them out. TAAA DAAA! I had made a white chocolate ganache pudding and mixed in a bit of pumpkin and garnished it with nutmeg. The possibilities are endless: Here are some ideas...use them for bowls for candy, put ice cream in them ahead of time. Keep them in the freezer until you are ready to serve. Don't you think they kinda look like tulips? I will keep that as an idea for spring entertaining. You could even make a chocolate initial and stick it in the top of whatever you may be serving etc.

What are your ideas for the pumpkin shells? I love hearing from you! {Especially with the help I got on my chest of drawers. I was amazed at all of your creative ideas! Thank you!}



The next batch I did turned out way better. I didn't blend the colors, so I would have more streaking on the shell for more depth. You can do a lot with the food coloring to make them look pretty realistic. I made vines with marzipan for tendrils, but thought that they looked best plain and SIMPLE! :)

Shared with:


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Katie's Nesting Spot

Yvonne @ stone gable

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Seafood Mac-n-Cheese

So here is the second part to our menu. This is the main dish to go along with our dessert from Monday's post!

Hope you are all having a great week. Just think, two more days until Friday!

Happy Wednesday!


Seafood Mac-n-Cheese

Adapted from McCormick & Schmick



Prepare 3 cups elbow macaroni according to package directions. Set aside.

8 oz. package sliced Baby Bella mushrooms

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

8 oz. small salad shrimp

8 oz. bay scallops

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ tsp. salt

Fresh ground pepper

4 green onions, thinly sliced

Panko bread crumbs and cheese for garnish

Directions: Saute the mushrooms in butter until lightly brown. Add the seafood and garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the cooked macaroni and stir. Add the cheese sauce and blend thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Add green onions.


Cheese Sauce

4 ounces unsalted butter

½ of one yellow onion, diced

4 ounces flour

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup milk

¼ tsp. salt

Freshly ground pepper

A bit of nutmeg

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 cups shredded Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese

½ cup white wine

Saute the onions in the butter until soft. Add the flour slowly while stirring to make a roux. {I know it sounds difficult…don’t stop! It is going to be OH.SO.WORTH every single bite. Promise!} Cook for about 3 minutes over medium heat to get rid of the floury taste. While stirring constantly, add the cream, milk, and wine. Add the seasonings and the CHEESE, and simmer over low heat until thickened and smooth! If it is too thick and lumpy, you may strain it.

I have never strained mine, but I am too lazy. I figure they will not know the difference between a small lump of flour and a scallop!
Place in oven proof dish. Sprinkle with Panko bread crumbs and a bit of shredded Swiss or Parmesan cheese and broil on lo until golden and crusty!

Shared with: stone gable

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Elephant's Delicatessen










Do you have a very favorite place to eat? Where you get a feeling of giddiness, the minute you decide to go!

We don't eat out alot, and when we do, I feed on being frugal...but I love little places with a lot of character. Sometimes even the name gets me excited. Do you know what I am talking about?

This last Sunday, my hubby took part in an amazing fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis. I had the privilege of being a spectator and "WOW" is all I can say! We were moved beyond words by the families that are affected by this horrible disease. They are without a doubt some of the most inspirational individuals I have ever met. More on that later. It deserves a post of its very own.

ANYWAY, we were on our way home and decided to go to Elephant's Delicatessen! You walk in and it is old-fashioned and homey. Red crocks are filled with silverware, there is fresh ice water in the biggest glass drink dispenser I have ever seen. There are glass cases with beautifully swirled cupcakes, fruit tarts, and pear cake with frosting that is fluffy like clouds. Baskets are filled to the brim with fresh breads of all sorts. There are gifts, soup and sandwich bar where they take your order and make it just for you...and then there is an area for all kinds of drinks...reminds me of an old-fashioned soda fountain shop. It really is an experience that is fun and delicious. I ordered French Macaroons and a carrot cake-to-go...it was THE BEST! It was piped with cream cheese frosting and finely chopped pistachios.

So if you live in the area...you will NOT be disappointed in your little destination.

As my hubby and I left one of our favorite spots, we could not help but think of how good it feels to be able to help those in need. It may be just the tiniest slivers of help, but if we are all willing to do what we are able, it COULD make a huge impact!

Has your life been touched by an individual or family that has been affected by Cystic Fibrosis or any other life changing disease? How have you been able to touch their lives? Please share your ideas...no matter how small or big. I would love to hear some ideas of how ordinary people can make a difference!...ALSO, I do not advertise on this blog, but when my heart is tugged the way it was over this past weekend, I certainly feel it is my responsibility to act on it. If you don't have a charity you are actively supporting, would you please consider joining our family in the fight against this disease? Thank you for your understanding regarding this subject!

FOR THOSE WHO ARE FRUGAL: Elephant's has a huge markdown right before closing, so...just think, if you save 50% on your tasty treats, the other 50% could be designated to a charity of your choice. Can you imagine how that would add up over the course of one year?

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 27, 2010

White Chocolate Ganache Pudding



Okay, so now that our family was all excited about Autumn here in Oregon, it decided to be 80 and sunny today! We will NOT be inside having dinner tonight. We will be sitting on the deck enjoying our dinner by candlelight! I thought that over the course of this week I would post parts of a dinner menu. Starting with dessert first! What do you think? I thought it might be kinda fun to try something different to my very unpredictable, no structure whatsoever, flighty, little bloggy. By the end of this week, you will have a new dinner menu to add to your dinner rotation.

Here you go! Happy Monday!


White Chocolate Ganache Pudding
Lisa Pearson


2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup white chocolate candy discs

2 Tbsp. white chocolate syrup {Torani, Monin}

2 cups 2% milk

1/3 cup cornstarch

1. Bring whipping cream and syrup to point of steaming.

2. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Let sit for a couple of minutes. Stir until blended. { This is a white chocolate ganache}

3. Pour warm mixture into bowl.

4. Add cold milk and cornstarch to medium saucepan.

5. Whisk until cornstarch is blended.

6. Add white chocolate ganache to milk mixture.

7. Continue to whisk until mixture thickens. Continue to whisk for 2 more minutes.

8. Let pudding stop steaming.

9. Place wide-mouth funnel over wine glasses.

10. Fill ¾ full and chill. Top with unsweetened whipping cream.


ENJOY!

Makes 4-6 depending on size.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

MaryAnne's Rich and Creamy Tomato Soup {with Serrano Cream}



Every time I am given a recipe by a friend, I name it after them. It helps me remember whose recipe is whose, especially when you have several recipes that may be similar!

My friend MaryAnne and I love "competing" in the cooking department. We both love butter, heavy cream, and all things organic and natural...but best of all our girlies are BFF's!

We still are at odds when it comes to a specific ingredient in Grandpa Tom's Shrimp and Corn Chowder!!! But I am sure if it wasn't that, it would be something else...that is how we like it!

I know you will LOVE her soup and you would LOVE her, too!

Mary Anne’s Rich and Creamy Basil Soup

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes {I used 2 14.5 oz. cans of tomatoes with chilies}
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes {I used the Italian Recipe with Oregano and Basil}
15 leaves of fresh basil
½ cup whipping cream
½ cup unsalted butter
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 garlic clove

Puree the tomatoes with the basil leaves and garlic. Place tomato mixture in a stock pot and simmer. Stir in the cream and butter. Add salt and pepper. Heat, stirring until the butter is melted. DO NOT BOIL!

Divide into 4 bowls and top with Serrano Cream.

Serrano Cream
3 Serrano peppers
1 large clove of garlic
½ tsp. sea salt
½ cup sour cream
Seed, devein and cut peppers into small pieces
Combine all ingredients in blender until well blended.
Refrigerate until ready to use.

Fresh garden tomatoes may be substituted for the canned tomatoes. Just add spices to taste.

DO NOT SKIP THE CREAM!
DO NOT!
IT MAKES THIS SOUP HEAVENLY!
SKIP YOUR LATTE or DESSERT!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Oma's Apple Crisp {with Cranberries and Orange Glaze}




Happy Autumn! I just love it! Don't you? As much fun as the other seasons are, Autumn is my favorite. To me, it is more of a time of reflection than that of the New Year. Maybe it is the change that happens in our surroundings. The leaves, the early sunsets, the cooler evening air and everything else that comes with the new season.

Isn't it good to know that God has His watchful eye on us? In fact if you are broken, He is even more attentive to YOU! "What I care for are humble, broken creatures, who stand in awe of all I say" Isaiah 66:2. He is watching over us because we are so precious and important to Him. "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." 2 Chronicles 16:9 If you are loving Him and seeking Him...He WILL strengthen you if you humbly acknowledge His place in your life. {A humble person will recognize she is destitute without God}

Today, on the first day of Autumn, I pray that YOU will receive God's grace that is extended to YOU...knowing and being confident that His grace will never end!
{Based on a reading from Cynthia Heald}


Oma’s Apple Crisp {with Cranberries and Orange Glaze}
Adapted from good ole’ Betty Crocker

4 medium baking apples, peeled, cut, cored and sliced into thin “slivers”
Juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange {reserve a bit for your orange glaze}
½ cup cranberries

Mix all together and pour into 9 inch deep pie pan

Topping:
¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup flour {I use ½ wheat and 1/2 white from Costco}
½ cup rolled oats
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
Mix together until crumbly. Pat on top of apple mixture in pan and then take a fork and poke it up and down until some of the mixture is in the apples.
Bake @ 375 for 35 minutes or until apples are soft and topping is golden brown.

Orange Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
A bit of orange zest

Mix all ingredients together until "drizzly"
Drizzle on top of warm apple crisp...

Must be enjoyed after a chilly Autumn walk, warm shower, cozy jammies, hot tea and candle light and family, of course!

Happy Autumn!



Shared with: comfy in the kitchen

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chicken Potpie {Back from School Celebration}



Yesterday morning was just like Christmas morning. Lauriss was coming back from college and CJ was coming home from a camping trip.
I spent the morning and early afternoon thrifting and baking for the evening. I think I was nesting. I wanted our home to "hug" them along with our hugs and kisses! No bright lights...it was dimly lit {love the dimmers my hubby had installed!!!} and decorated for Autumn...which Lauriss had not seen, yet!

In the afternoon, we sat in the living room and chatted. What a sweet time to have the kiddies home. It felt so good being together.

I had planned a later evening dinner, because I think it just seems more special. Don't know why, but it does. What do you think?

As we were getting ready to sit down for dinner, my sweet friend and her boyfriend "popped over" to give hugs and to see Lauriss. They had plans, but we invited them to stay for our celebration dinner. They made the evening even more meaningful. I think we sat at the table for almost 2 hours and then went to the cushy couches and sipped tea.

Sometimes the best memories are not planned. I know that LIFE sometimes doesn't feel like it is made up of sweet little packages, but I do feel like God gave us a wonderful gift last night of friendship on a perfect rainy almost Autumn night!

MENU:

Sparkling Cider
Green Salad with vinaigrette
Chicken Potpie
Toasted Artisan Bread
Brownies and Ice Cream or Sweet Carmel Cake in Mini Jars


Chicken Potpie

Filling for Potpie:

1 10 oz. package frozen peas & carrots
1 cooked potato, cubed
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms or corn OR both
¼ cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sage or more if you like!!!!
pepper to taste
2 cups chicken broth {I like Better than Boullion Brand}
¾ cup milk
3 cups cooked cubed chicken or 12.5 oz. canned chicken {Costco}


Pie dough for double crust pie…store bought or homemade

Directions:

Cook peas and carrots, drain.
In a saucepan, cook onions and mushrooms in butter until tender.
Stir in flour, salt, sage, and pepper.
Add chicken broth and milk all at once.
Cook and stir until thick and bubbly.
Add in peas, carrots, chicken and potato.
Line pie plate with rolled out dough for the bottom. Pour mixture into pie shell.
Top with the other pie dough and crimp away!
Bake at 450* {approximately 20 minutes} or until golden brown.

Variations:
You may like to make four individual potpies to enjoy or to freeze.



Do you enjoy inviting guests in to join you for dinner? Would you be embarassed with your home not being "ready for guests"? Do you celebrate loved ones or friends coming home?

By the way...there were dishes all over {which I usually have done} laundry was strewn because Lauriss is leaving to go back to college before "MUNDANE MONDAY" Laundry Day! They didn't EVEN CARE!!!!

Next time an opportunity arises to invite guests in to "stay" take full advantage! You will be blessed. I promise YOU!

Shared with: comfy in the kitchen

Friday, September 17, 2010

Marsh Grass Salad {Wild Rice}



Confession is good for the soul! Can I even tell you how many recipes I have tried that call for Wild Rice? Can I tell you how many times we have ended up taking more time at the dinner table because we are all still CHEWING on the UNCOOKED centers of that little grain? I stopped using it, because I couldn't get it right. Well, I finally found THE BEST WILD RICE at TRADER JOES and guess what? It is already cooked. And if I can manage to have it turn out, ANYBODY can. So, we will leave it to the experts to cook it correctly and let us embellish away.

They were having a taste test with it at Trader Joes and I was in a total hurry, so, I didn't pay any attention to what other ingredients they had on display.

A few weeks later, I called all the Trader Joes in our area {NO EXAGGERATION!} trying to track the "recipe" down. Finally, a lady sorta recalled that it had a vinaigrette and Wild Rice and nuts. I probably could have figured the rice thing out! {Sorry for the LONG explanation!!! BLAH.BLAH.BLAH.}

SO this is what I came up with! I know it isn't officially Autumn, yet, but it just screams "easy peasy" and "WELCOME AUTUMN!" I just can hardly wait to share my Autumn favorites with you and to hear all about the things that help to make your homes all cozy and sweet!

MARSH GRASS SALAD
Lisa Peareson


1 pkg. TRADER JOE'S Wild Rice

1/2 cup Balsamic vinaigrette {homemade or Trader Joe's}

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup hazelnuts,coarsely chopped {toast them if you have time :)}

3 green onions, sliced

1 cup cranberries

1/2 Granny Smith apple, diced...or whatever

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Warm up the rice according to pkg. directions.
Add all ingredients together. Top with blue cheese

ENJOY. Serve warm or chilled.

This recipe is so versatile. Leave out what you don't like and add something else you LOVE.

OPTIONS:
red onion
orange zest
mandarin oranges
chicken slices
avacado...my favorite!!

We served this with our New Year's Fondue dinner... and it was a great side dish!

Menu:

Chicken
Marsh Salad
Crusty Artisan Bread
Schloss Biebrich Sekt {Trader Joe's}


In other news: I made a conscious effort to S l o w l y open the new saran wrap package today...so I wouldn't have to hate it for the next six months! I opened it successfully, but still wasted three or four layers of the actual wrap...BUT, I have a nice box in the drawer and that makes me oh.so.very.very happy.

...and Lauriss is coming HOME to visit! WE WILL ALL be together as a family...

Happy Happy Friday!

Please join me for Apple week next week! {We will take care of Apples and then have a ball with pumpkins!}


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Organizing Important Documents





This is the time of year, if you aren't organized, that you might start thinking about trying to do exactly that...getting organized. I am by no means an expert on the subject, but I love the end result.

Being organized can really eliminate stress and frustration. There is nothing worse than a child informing you that the school has to have an updated sports physical in two days, or they can't start with their teammates. That means YOU need to have insurance cards, immunization records, doctor's numbers and birth certificates handy for SPORTS. ALL of this on top of Script orders, school picture forms, music lessons etc. can quickly become overwhelming and almost paralizing! {I am NOT exaggerating...ever find yourself sipping on tea, chomping on candy corn, not doing ANYTHING because you don't know where to start?...That is what I mean.} :)

I am NOT a fan of technology. I want to be able to grab and go. I need to have it in my hands without having to scan for passwords and wait for the laptop to boot up.

When my hubby finished his academy, we revamped our "DOCUMENT SYSTEM". Since he became the expert on Emergency Evacuation and Catastophe Preparedness, I listened and we figured it out together!

{You might invest in a larger fireproof box to keep your binder in.}

This is what works for us and it might be helpful for you as well.

One binder is LABELED and categorized like this:

CERTIFICATES:


Marriage
Adoption
Little Dappled Doggie
Baptism
EMT
School
College
Birth...each family member has their own protected in a plastic sleeve protector {STOCK UP! These are available at COSTCO}

MEDICAL:

Insurance card copies...these are easily misplaced
Immunization documents

Miscellaneous:

Passports
Social Security Cards
Frequent Flyer Miles
Budget Document...a complete list of everything along with numbers and Passwords etc.

Insurance:
Life Insurance numbers etc.

Small, zippered binder pockets work great for keeping little cards together without falling out. They can be found in with school supplies!

It is important to be able to go to one spot and grab everything at once in case of emergency. There might NOT be time to be going through files!

Remember to keep this information in a VERY safe spot.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chinese Take- Out Made AT Home

{Sorry about the picture, but there was no natural light!}

Are you having late night dinners? Are the kiddies having soccer practice? Maybe you are working late hours? Well, here is a healthier alternative that is simple and nutritious!

We didn't have dinner until 9:00 tonight, but it was worth having it together!

Leftover rice and chicken can be layered in Chinese Take-Out containers for school lunches or for work. Add an apple and some carrot sticks and you will have a quick lunch ready in the morning!

Good night. Sweet dreams.

Menu:
Orange Juice
Jasmine Rice prepared in the rice cooker
Trader Joe's Orange Chicken
Fresh Green beans from Oma's Garden

That is it!

No MSG and no nasty ingredients! It is nice to have a frozen, quick dinner to keep in the freezer for those nights when life gets hectic and crazy. Rice is usually a staple and I am sure you can dig around in your freezer or beg a neighbor for some fresh garden veggies...or maybe you have a Momma who delivers fresh veggies and beautiful garden flowers!

What is your favorite go-to meal to keep on hand for "those nights"? Is it frozen? Take-out? Mac-n-Cheese? Time to share your ideas!!!

Something fun coming soon!!!! APPLE PICKIN'PICNIC!!! Keep your eyes peeled.



Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pesto Pizza Take-Out and Star Gazing


We are still in picnic mode.

Last week was definitely Autumn...but after our mini vacation to Sunriver, it still feels a bit like summer. The leaves are changing and some of the trees in the ravine looked like they were ablaze. Our ride over the mountains was bright and beautiful. In the evenings, the stars were peppered across the clear, bright sky. I told my hubby how much I wanted to see a shooting star. Not even seconds later, we spotted one! It was so amazing!!! It is times like that, that I feel so close to God. Here, in all His majesty, He IS my Heavenly Father who cares enough about me...to send a tiny little speck across the night's sky to cheer and excite HIS child. WOW!!!

Here is a quick alternative to Take and Bake or Pizza Delivery:

Menu:

Martinelli's Mini Sparkling Cider
Orange Slices {leftover from Pumkin Pie Scone Glaze}
Pesto Pizza
Coconut Macaroons

Shopping List:

Trader Joe's Pizza Dough
Trader Joe's Pesto
Trader Joe's Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Directions:
Follow directions on dough pkg.
Spoon Pesto onto dough
Top with cheese...Bake according to directions on dough.

Packaging: Garnish box and coffee bag
luggage tag from the Paper Zone
Kabnet Wax and newspaper

So here is an idea: Have a family evening picnic this Friday Night to celebrate the first week of school. Pack your Pizza and look for stars. Maybe you will even see a shooting star!


"This is what the LORD says,
he who appoints the sun
to shine by day,
who decrees the moon and stars
to shine by night,
who stirs up the sea
so that its waves roar—
the LORD Almighty is his name." Jeremiah 31:35

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Scones




Pumpkin Pie Scones
Lisa Pearson

2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. soy flour...available in winco bulk section or Whole Foods
1/2 cup cold Earth Balance, cut into little pieces or unsalted butter
1/3 cup soured vanilla soymilk {sour with a tad bit of lemon juice or vinegar}or heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup pure pumpkin {no spices added}
1 tsp. pure vanilla

{zest from 1 orange or less}

Whisk together dry ingredients. Add Earth Balance and blend with pastry cutter or with flat beater in stand mixer. Add all wet ingredients together to flour mixture. Blend until ingredients come together. Transfer to lightly floured surface or ROULPAT. Pat into a disc about the size of your hand spread out. Cut into 8 triangles. Place scones on SILPAT. Brush with soymilk and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 425 for 13 to 14 minutes…or until golden.
Remove to wire rack and drizzle or SPOON on glaze.

Orange Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbsp. soymilk
Zest from 1 orange or 1 tsp. pure Orange extract {optional...my friends like it better with the zest IN the scone...not in the glaze...}

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir until smooth and “drizzly”. {Not a word, but you know what I mean, right?}}

Variations: Add ½ cup mini chocolate chips OR GHIRARADELLI ALL NATURAL
CLASSIC WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIPS...BE CAREFUL IF YOU HAVE
PEANUT allergies.
May make mini scones
May be rolled out and cut with biscuit cutter for dinner biscuits. No pumpkin pie spice or glaze…just ½ tsp of cinnamon for a bit of flavor

If you aren't a huge cinnamon fan...you may want to skip the cinnamon sugar...if you are adding the glaze.

For the holidays: Mix up several batches of the dry ingredients at the same time and freeze until you are ready to make them!

Okay. I think I am done going on and on with this recipe.





I was playing around with the idea for a sweet treat for October and just could NOT wait! So here it is...What about the perfect little indulgence for the perfect Autumn evening? Here it is!

Some of the products are from GARNISH! Oh.What fun things they have!

1 coffee bag {Garnish}
4-6 rippled mini cups...I like to call them "sipping cups" {GARNISH}
Cloth Spice Bag {Cost Plus World Market}
Luggage Tag and Craft Paper {Paper Zone}
Twill Tape...saved from graduation gift packaging {I am so frugal...thanks to my MOMMA!}

The recipe for the Wassail is here.
Include the recipe for the Wassail in the bag and you are set to gift a friend with a cozy, quiet evening!





These pumpkin scone mixes make a great gift, too: Simply add a cute tag with the instructions.







This post is linked to:


The Newlyweds

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Back-to-School=Back-to-Routine...Sunday



...Not really. Don't you love the idea of a simple life? I have always loved old story books and pictures of "the olden days", but was reminded by my Grandmother that times were HARD.

Sundays, for the most part are low key. After a Sunday afternoon nap, and feeling refreshed, I make up the Menu for the following week and do the grocery shopping. However, Sunday picnics and old neighborhood and forest walks are what we enjoy when the sun is out!

Having the cupboards stocked and the fridge full of groceries helps me to feel prepared and not in a state of panic {I know. It doesn't take much to send me over the edge!} first thing on Monday morning. I could go on and on, but I am trying to keep this blog SIMPLE.

I am grateful for each of you who read this blog. If it is the first time or one of many. I do pray for you and hope that You are blessed by it.

I have gotten enough e-mails from individuals to where I would like to clear up a few things. I am so NOT PERFECT, my hubby is NOT PERFECT, and my children are NOT PERFECT. It is through the grace of God that we are able to love, forgive, and LIVE lives that are full of joy...despite hardships, words that should never be said, hurt feelings, broken promises, physical pain, etc. What is written is usually the outcome of what are sometimes the most difficult of days. As my hubby is constantly reminding me...on those days where we are tempted to feel like we "have things figured out", he will throw out one of his favorite quotes by John Bradford, "...there but by the grace of God, go I". In fact, there are more days than not, that are filled with frustration and feelings of complete inadequacy.

I pray that if you are overwhelmed with life, you, too will come to know that God's grace is there for you. My prayer is that if you do know His saving grace, that you are able to cling to it when the storms of life are beating you down.


May you know and be filled with His GRACE today!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Back-to-School=Back-to Routine...Saturday


...hikes, parties, sipping tea, lemonade, and hot cider. Sleeping in, hot morning baths, reading in the afternoon, sports, friends, field trips, road trips, bike rides, museums, the beach, the mountains, the desert, a movie, family, homework, shopping, evening dinner guests, out-to-dinner, downtown, the river walk, night lights at the top-o-the-hill, dessert at twilight, picnincs, swimming, garage sailing, thrifting, visits and the list goes on and on...

What is YOUR very favorite thing to do or place to go on SATURDAY????

..........................................................................................................................................................................



Today, my hubby {the firefighter} is working and another dear person to our family, David is training to serve our COUNTRY. I must say that since September 11th, it has taken on a whole new meaning.

I was calling to wish my Momma a happy birthday on September 11th...not a happy day for anybody. So, it is difficult to go on with life...celebrating the ones you love so much...when there are so many people hurting to the very core of who they are for those that lost their lives. I almost feel guilty having a birthday cake and party!

So, as my hubby is at work today...along with all of the other First Responders, our U.S. Service Personnel, and unsung heros who unselfishly give to us everyday...I am so proud and grateful to those who are willing to sacrifice all they have for us who are at home reaping the benefits of the freedom they dilligently fight for. I love you, SCOTT and David!

Happy Birthday...to my dearest, sweetest Momma who also serves her family, friends and others unselfishly...you are an unsung hero...in my book. I love YOU!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Back-to-School=Back-to-Routine...Friday

 



Yay for Friday!!!!

When our children were younger, it was Friday Night Date Night. Cheap dates, but dates. When Laurissa was a baby we didn't live near family...or anything else for that matter. {Nothing like planning ahead of time if you thought you may need a late-night snack at 3 in the afternoon! We lived so far out in the country at that time that there were not even street lights on our street!}
Anyway, we would give her her evening bath, jammie her up, put her in the car seat and have our baby with us in the car. Nothing beats listening to "Sleep Sound in Jesus" when you are the pround, sleep-deprived parents of a colicky baby who would finally give in to sleep! Almost falling asleep ourselves, we would spend the rest of the evening driving around...sometimes we would go buy donuts, get ice cream or just drive to pretty places to see city lights. We had so much fun.
After moving closer to family, we would sometimes actually have a real date without the kiddies. We felt completely spoiled, not to mention the feeling of newleyweds!
...But as our children got older, we wanted to have FUN as a family on Fridays even though they were still young...so we started having Pizza, movie and popcorn nights...and board game nights. As they have gotten older, their friends have joined us and we love it. Even as my hubby has to work some Fridays, we still will have Pizza night or I will take one or both of the children on a date. Traditions change with change in schedules, children going off to college, sports, work schedules etc. but I am grateful for the traditions we have had even though they have needed to be altered a bit at times.


How about you??? Do you have specific traditions? Are you a stickler with them or are you okay with changing things up a bit for the sake of family relationships?

I have to admit, it is really hard for me to adapt. IT IIIIS! I love tradition and I would love to say we have never missed this or that, but the truth of the matter is this: Life changes, and I had better be willing to do my best to provide tradition and stability as much as I am willing to not be so regimented and unable to be flexible to where I am actually causing more tension and stress for the sake of "tradition".

As our family dynamics change...and as Friday schedules get swallowed up in LIFE, I will always look forward to the times we are all together on Friday nights, but I am also looking forward to having Friday date nights again with my hubby. Maybe we will get jammied up...listen to Jack Johnson and drive around town...go through the drive-through for ice cream...find our favorite view of the city and her lights and enjoy the company of eachother...and our little, dappled doggie!

Happy Happy Friday!
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back-to-School=Back-to-Routine...Thursday


SOOO, how is back-to-school week going? Today is clean house day...because this weekend is going to be spent doing some fun things...and it starts this evening with going to cute shops off Alberta and Mississippi Avenue. We are having dinner at our favorite food cart The Native Bowl. Not only are they our sweet friends :} but their food is AMAZING!!! Then to see Laurissa at college!






Here are a few pics from our back-to-school dinner:

I used a small Bio Pak Kraft take-out box and twine from Garnish to make a back-to-school coupon box. It contained coupons to be used during the school year. To mention a few: Maid Service {I KNOW!!!}, A day of grace, Starbucks before school, Skip School, Extended evening curfew, Lunch out with Mommy, Lunch out with Daddy etc. These are like GOLD.

We don't do the whole "back-to-school" shopping, so they get coupons instead. SAVES a lot of money and they love coupons!

For the tag: I sprayed chalkboard paint on a luggage tag and then used chalk for his initial.

Table decor: I took two mini chalkboards and made a sandwich board for the table. Two mini hinges and ribbon keep it together.






Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back-to-School=Back-to-Routine...Wednesday



Today is the first day of school for our son. OH.MY! Where has the summer gone?

First day of school TRADITIONS:

*The only day of the year {unless we exercise GRACE} they don't have to pick up their rooms before school! {we will talk about bartering,bribing and coupons another day!} I have it nice for them when they come home from school. Kinda a nice fresh start from me to them! Nothing like having a maid show up while you're out for the day, right?!

*Autumn decorating: Simple, but fun!

*Their favorite back-to-school dinner. They always had to agree on their favorite. With one child left, he got to pick his very own favorite...I think his daddy may have had something to do with the dinner of choice: Martinelli's Sparkling Cider, sweet corn, steak and baby red mashed potatoes and dessert!

*THE OFFICIAL CHANGING OF THE FILE FOLDERS!!!! SEE BELOW!






As I was looking through Laurissa's memory box, now that she is getting ready for college...it was a bit sad. Hard to believe everything from her baby shower to her graduation is in one box. It will be complete at the end of this summer. WOW! I am glad I took the time to save the things I did and even the things she wanted to keep that at the time I thought were really NOT necessary. Those little scribbles and "important" papers have become just as precious to me.
It is no secret that I have no patience for scrapbooking. I wish I had beautiful books gracing my shelves of well-documented pages and labeled photographs of my children growing up, but I don't.

Baby shower cards were wrapped in recycled gift ribbon, and put into an envelope.

My children each have a memory box that is basically a rubbermaid portable file box. Pretty sure it is not of archival quality either. :)


AT THE BEGINNING OF EVERY SCHOOL YEAR, I put a new marked manila folder with their name and grade and keep it with my everyday files. During the year I file everything that is special to them: pictures, sports awards, birthday cards tied together, movie stubs, tickets to special events, notes, drawings, report cards, notes from teachers, yearbooks and summer memorabilia. At the end of the summer it gets filed into their memory box. It keeps their rooms cleared from clutter, doesn't get lost, and is a fun activity to pull out once in awhile.

I know it isn't fancy schmazy, but it is a fast, easy way to stay organized and "scrapbook" your child's memories without being too time consuming.

When we were putting Laurissa's senior memory board together, it was easy to go to the box and get what was needed for a detailed project. I would suggest always marking the year and grade on the back of filed papers etc, so it is eay to put back if it is used for something...

So glad I have one box filled with memories for each of the children. It is nice and compact, so that when they leave home, it will not take up too much space.

I have given two of these away as baby shower gifts and they were so appreciated. I know. Not very fun, but for a mom who hates organizing things, it is a welcomed gift. :) I pre-labeled all of the manilla folders and made a label for the front. They turned out adorable! For you crafty people out there, I am sure you could really have fun embellishing this idea!

How do you celebrate Back-toSchool?

How do you organize your children's papers?

Happy Wednesday!

Linked to Katie's Nesting Spot

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back to School=Back to Routine...Tuesday



Good morning...Today is the first day of school here in Portland. I hope you all have had a good morning getting your children off to school. I am sure some of you could hardly wait...while others are reading this post through blurry, tear-filled eyes {in your jammies!}.

Yesterday, I started in on the topic of organization. We will finish that and then get on to today.

Unless you thrive in chaos...this does not apply to you. If you are like me and stress over the back-to-school CRAZINESS {a.k.a. insanity} keep reading.

No matter how you look at it, it is a complete shock. The beginning of school, that is. One day, you are sleeping in and if you are lucky enough, it was after eight in the morning and your children snuck into bed with you...along with the family dog. The only thing going that day was to meet up with friends at the swimming pool and enjoy late night ice cream! And all of a sudden...your mornings are out-of-control, rushing around, making sure the children are on time for school. I am not EVEN going into the details, because we all know exactly what I am talking about.

Here are a few suggestions that have soooo helped me to be less stressed.

MANILLA FOLDERS: INVEST IN THEM. COSTCO carries them...unless you want some really cute ones from TARGET. Make sure each child has one. When our children were younger, I had an upright file basket BOLTED to the kitchen desk and it was their responsibility to put their school papers in their manilla folder. {maybe I should have kept it a bit longer!!!! HMMMM?} It takes the pressure off you and helps makes them more responsible. After school, before homework and snacks...it was their job to clear out their backpacks. That allowed me time to see what was what, write dates on the calendar, write checks for school pictures etc. On most occasions, backpacks were ready the night before to eliminate extra stress in the morning. Extra manilla folders were used to send communication to teachers, art projects needing to be treated with t.l.c. etc.

LUNCHES: Night before. ENOUGH said. P.B. and J's can even be frozen. Our children had specific days to make lunches. It was their responsibility to make lunch for the other child. We started this in highschool. I made lunches for them through junior high. I wanted them to learn how to take care of eachother and how nice it felt to have a sibling do something special for the other one. I wont mention which child took his/her own money and bought school pizza for lunch on more than one occasion...it was the same child who opted to "sleep in" and pay the other one to clean his/her room before breakfast. I suggested it be done the night before, but I did not micro manage. I let them figure it out. There were times my hubby or I would surprise them and make them for them. They were truly grateful and it was a small way of showing them grace. YEP! Even in making lunches!



NOW for Tuesday: My hubby does not have a regular schedule, so it depends on if he has the day off or not, but on the Tuedays that he works, is my day to iron, bake and meet friends. I decided that after my son grew out of his clothes that were in the ironing basket...I needed to have a day that I would get it done. I learned to iron my dads hadkerchiefs and cloth napkins, and so I had my children do the same. YES...even my son. There is nothing more valuable than having a hubby who knows how to iron!

I love taking baked treats to friends and functions, so it is nice having a day to think ahead. Most things that I bake are great frozen. This takes pressure off when there are last minute appointments, change of plans, sickies, etc.

BLAH.BLAH.BLAH. It is your turn. How do you do lunches in your house? Do you iron? What ideas do you have to make back-to-school less stressful? We are all ears. I would love to change it up a bit since we only have one child left in our nest!

Happy Tuesday and Happy back-to-school!

Tomorrow is our sons first day of school, so...I will let you know about our traditions. IT includes decorating for AUTUMN! OUR VERY FAVORITE! YAY!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Back to School=Back to Routine...Monday



As lazy summer days and evenings slowly blend into Autumn, it is a rude awakening that routine is a MUST! So much for flying by the seat of your pants for the past three months.

It seems as though everything that got pushed aside and was left on the "going to do" list is now keeping you awake at night wondering how you got so far behind the 8 ball. Well, I think we are ALL in the same boat!

Shortly after my hubby and I were married, I was working full time and he was working and going to school, so weekends were spent doing laundry, running errands, grocery shopping for the following week etc. It was a complete nightmare! Here we were, spending our "honeymoon year" existing and that was about it. SOOO, one weekend, we decided we were going to sit down with our calendar {we shared one and still do!} and figure out what we could do during the week that would allow us to spend the weekends and the time we had together LIVING LIFE. Doing the things that were important to us. Helping friends, having get-togethers at our home instead of at restaurants, celebrating family birthdays etc. It was a plan that we came up and stuck to for the most part. There are always things that do come up, but we are quick to be able to reign it in.

When your children are coming home with papers to sign, school calendars, school picture forms, volunteer needs at the school etc, it is a good idea to have a plan of attack...unless you are still flying by the seat of your pants and those things don't stress you out...then, maybe you have a blog and I will be your next "follower" not to mention YOUR BIGGEST FAN EVER!!!!!...

Okay, I am totally all over the place...we will talk about that tomorrow.
Back to MONDAY. ALRIGHT. Monday has been my stay-at-home day {there are very few exceptions!!!!} I HATE laundry OH.SO.MUCH, but Monday is the assigned day. Do what you can't stand first, so that you can enjoy the other things like cleaning toilets without having laundry or whatever else you dislike {HATE!!!Sorry, MOM!} stealing your joy. I get things organized for the week, answer e-mails, write letters, clean out the car from weekend field trips, road trips, etc. we all know what our cars look like on Monday mornings. Anyway, I am NOT telling you what to do, but if you can keep Monday to getting the MUNDANE out of the way, I can almost guarantee a better week. OKAY, and if you work, same thing. Spend a bit of time getting the yucky out of the way and just TRY to push yourself...knowing that this next WEEKEND is NOT about laundry and errands. Maybe you could plan an outing or something you have been wanting to do. Knowing your chores are done will allow you to enjoy your family and friends. FRIDAY is coming and MONDAY is on its way!!!! And I CAN guarantee you, your chores will be waiting patiently for MONDAY.

Happy {mundane} Monday to YOU!

I want to hear from YOU! Do you have assigned days or do you fly by the seat of your pants? Do you mind laundry?

Adorable picture by: Frances Heilprin...edited by Lisa Pearson

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Waffle Cookie Sandwiches


 


Can I just tell you how EXCITED I am to have found PLAIN WHITE FOOD TRAYS???? SO VERY EXCITED! Thank you, GARNISH!!

These "sweet sandwiches" are as easy as 1.2.3. Really!!!!


Here is what you will need:


1 box of Belgian Butter Waffle Cookies {TRADER JOE'S...where else?!}

leftover frosting...I used leftover cream cheese frosting {recipe is with the Pumpkin Carrot Cake} OR store bought!

Sprinkles

That is it!

I piped the frosting onto the cookies using a pastry bag with a star tip, because I was already feeling guilty about the shortcuts I was taking!! {do you ever feel guilty taking store-bought shortcuts????} :)

Aren't they cute???!!!!


What shortcuts do you take when you have {wasted time doing laundry} put off what needs to be done and wind up short on time?
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I think these would make the perfect Easter treats since they are egg-shaped! Instead of brightly colored sprinkles use pastel colored ones...and what about rolling them in lightly green tinted coconut... with pink frosting, of course!?

AND if you have nothing but time on your hands, you could trace the lines with frosting! OR just dip them in colored candy melts...ahhhh what fun!

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

LOVE

 
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