Monday, November 28, 2011

Scent-sational Applesauce Ornaments

One thing that I remember from 4-H camp when I was growing up is making applesauce ornaments.  Of course since it was summer, they probably were geared more towards scenting closets and drawers.  

Yesterday afternoon Pumpkin and Princess made their first applesauce ornaments.  Princess was the braver of the two and actually touched the dough.  Pumpkin (the "must not get anything icky on my hands" child) would only touch the cookie cutters.  The ornaments are still in the process of drying and smell scent-sational.  We are looking forward to the ornaments being tree worth real soon. 

Applesauce Ornaments

1 cup applesauce, 1 cup ground cinnamon, mixing bowl, aluminum foil, waxed paper, drinking straws (cut into sections), cookie cutters, cookie sheet, and yarn.

- Mix 1 cup applesauce and 1 cup ground cinnamon in a mixed bowl.

- Put a small handful of dough on waxed paper and press dough flat with hands (¼”- ⅛” thickness).
- Press cookie cutter into dough.

- Remove excess dough from outside of cookie cutter with hands or plastic knife.
- Lift cookie cutter.
- Place a section of drinking straw at the top of the ornament to create a hole to hang.

- Move waxed paper to a cookie sheet to air dry.

- After 24 hours, waxed paper can be removed and ornament replaced on the cookie sheet to complete the drying process.
- After dry, push the straw through the ornament and string with yarn.

- Hang on the Christmas tree.

- Recipe can be halved or quartered to make a smaller batch.
- Mixed dough can be refrigerated until use, cover with aluminum foil.
- Depending on dryness of the house, ornaments can take 2 to 4 days to dry.
- I have heard of mixing a small amount of glue into the dough to help with the hardening process, but with 2 ½ & 4 ½ year olds we opted for glue-free dough.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Deck The Halls

Last night we made a paper chain for above one of the doors in the great room.  

Pumpkin enjoyed helping out, Princess on the other hand had trouble grasping the concept.  She used way too much glue and put the glue in the center of the paper strip instead of the end.  What a funny girl!  

After we put the paper chain up we had running through the halls, which is a favorite past time of the kids.  

Looks like we may be making more paper chains this holiday season, after I buy some more stick glue.  May be we should make some to share with other family members in town.  Then we can share the love!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tis The Season

Today marks the transition from one season into another.  Yesterday was Thanksgiving and today is the first day of the Christmas season.  Both of them important in their own way.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving Day with a lot to be thankful for.  Our house was filled with my dad, my two grandmas, my sister, my brother-in-law, my children, my husband, and I.  We had a lovely meal and everyone contributed a dish or two.  Our menu consisted of roasted turkey, Hawaiian sweet rolls, stuffing, mom's cheesy potatoes, raspberry salad, butternut squash casserole, buttered corn, pumpkin pie, and razzle berry pie.  The Hawaiian sweet rolls and cheesy potatoes were in mom's memory.  She always made sure that each item graced the table during every holiday meal.

Pumpkin was excited about having a turkey for Thanksgiving.  When I pulled the turkey out of the oven, he asked me where the feathers and beak were.  Aren't kids funny?  I did get him to try a piece of turkey and he seemed to like it, but would not eat any of it off his plate.  Princess really liked the turkey and dug right in.

Thanksgiving is about taking time to be thankful for the blessings that we have.  So here are some blessings that I am thankful for.

    - I am thankful for family and friends.
    - I am thankful for God.
    - I am thankful for my husband and two kids.
    - I am thankful for our house and jobs.
    - I am thankful that we have freedom.

Today is the start of the Christmas season.  By tradition, we put the Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving and it will come down on New Years Day.  Great grandma came over and helped us with our tradition this year. We picked up the toys in the sun room and vacuumed the area really well. 

Then great grandma distracted the kids by making Christmas ornaments with paper, crayons, cookie cutters, and yarn.  They also made gingerbread boys and girls from a craft kit. 

Meanwhile, I put the Christmas tree up and strung the lights.  We put the crocheted angel on the top of the tree then Pumpkin and Princess where allowed to decorate to their hearts delight.  The tree is done for now, but I'm sure that the ornaments will be in constant movement around the tree.

The Christmas season is a wonderful time of the year.  It is about family, loving one another, the birth of Jesus, making things from scratch, and giving our hearts to those we love. 

This evening, I'm sure that we will create more paper ornaments.  Maybe I can introduce Pumpkin to making paper chains. This evening may also be a great time to make more pie crust gingerbread menOne of my favorite things to do once the tree is up is to sit in the sun room at night with only the Christmas tree lights on.  It is so calming and magical!

Well until the next adventure we bid you adieu.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What’s For Dinner?

Last night my mother-in-law joined us for dinner.  I fixed Chicken, Cheese, Spinach & Mushroom Manicotti.  It sure was good and I am looking forward to the leftovers tonight!

Chicken, Cheese, Spinach, & Mushroom Manicotti

1-1/2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken breasts or tenderloins
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
1 container (16 oz.) Low Fat Cottage Cheese
2 egg whites
1 1/2 cup  Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
14 manicotti shells, cooked, drained
1 can (26 oz.) Hunt’s garlic & herb pasta sauce
2 cans (7 oz.) sliced mushrooms, drained

HEAT oven to 350°F.

COMBINE chicken and garlic in large bowl. Add spinach, cottage cheese, mushrooms, egg whites and 1/4 cup mozzarella.  Fill manicotti shells (I found it easier to use my fingers rather than a spoon).

PLACE in two 13x9-inch baking dishes sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with spaghetti sauce.

BAKE 25 to 30 min. or until heated through. Top with remaining mozzarella; bake 5 min. or until melted.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Basket of Busyness

This past Sunday I took a basket making workshop.  The end result was a lovely hanging snowman basket.  


Basket making is really quite relaxing.  It is amazing to see what you can make with your own hands and some simple instruction.  Of course the end product is functional and breath-taking.  This was the second class that I have taken and I am still in awe of being able to "create" a basket with my own hands.

Besides baskets our lives have been busy.  There was a church potluck two Sundays ago that I was in-charge of.  We had the theme "Our Favorite Things" to honor our pastor and his wife.  It really turned out quite amazing in the end, even if the week before was really crazy.  

I've been reading a few books and making some beaded socks.  Trying (in an awful attempt) to clean and de-clutter the house, but with little ones that may be just plain crazy.  Still dreaming about making my messenger bag.

The kids each have made a foam gingerbread ornament for the Christmas tree.  We created them one Tuesday evening (which was a great distraction) before supper at great-grandma's.  I have more in the kit, which we will make later once the tree is up.

The last few days I have been in a bit of a daze.  Praying about things that only God has control over.  Knowing that things will work out according to His will.  Life can be scary at times, but we just have to keep on plugging along.  Sometimes I wish that I could have more time to recover from the hailstorms before being thrown back in, but He never gives us more than we can handle.

Upcoming dreams:  
~ Taking the kids to see Pussy and Boots the movie, have yet to make it to the local theater
~ Hoping to get a family picture taken one of these days (last one September 2009)
~ Planning on Thanksgiving Dinner with the family at our house
~ Putting the Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving
~ Building a snowman this winter

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Yummy . . . Pie Crust!

Pumpkin is still on his gingerbread man kick, so Saturday night we cheated and made pie crust gingerbread men. 

Pie Crust Gingerbread Men

Fire the oven to 400 degrees.  Cut a roll of refrigerated pie crust dough in half.  Unroll the dough onto a cutting board.  Use a gingerbread cookie cutter to cut out little men.  Place little men on an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with second half of dough.  Mush the remaining dough into a ball & hand flatten to cut more little men.  Generously sprinkle the little men with a cinnamon sugar mixture.  Then bake for 7 to 9 minutes, depending on preference of crispiness.  Enjoy!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Spiderman & Rapunzel

Halloween has past and the treats have been scattered through the house.  Pumpkin and Princess had a wonderful time.  Pumpkin was Spiderman and Princess was Rapunzel.   We had a total of three days of dress up events.

The week before Halloween we went to the local zoo for some fun.  Princess was enamored with the talking pumpkin, whom knew her name.  Of course mommy knew the voice behind the talking pumpkin so that probably helped.  We had to visit the talking pumpkin three times before Princess consented to leaving the zoo.

The day before Halloween we trick-or-treated at great grandma's house.  Great grandma had wonderfully wrapped treats for the kids.  They each got three Halloween sugar cookies.  Then Pumpkin had to ask where the candy was.  Thankfully, I had snuck some candy in which saved the day.  After sampling the goodies, Princess had a wardrobe malfunction . . . . the bottom of her dress came unraveled.  Great-grandma came to the rescue with her trusty sewing machine!

The evening of Halloween we chose the neighborhood of a friend and went to about ten houses.  Not too bad, one house was a bit rough.  We ran into a headless man, holding his head and covered in blood.  It sort of freaked Pumpkin and Princess out.  We had to explain to them that it was pretend and that the "guy" was okay and did not have any oucheys.  

After we returned home the fun didn't stop. . . .we even trick-or-treated in our house.  One of us parents would go into one of the kids' rooms and shut the door, the kids would knock and yell "Trick-Or-Treat!" then we would hand out some candy.  Hahaha. . . . .thankful it still works this year, but next year we may have to spend more time going door to door.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Escape Into The World of Stories

Within the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to read two novels.  One is set in ancient times with historical figures in far off lands.  The other is set in modern day across the ocean blue.  Since the passing of my mom stories have been a great, stress-relieving way to escape my thoughts and just lose myself into the worlds created by others (at least temporarily).

The book that I just finished was Guardian of the Flame: A Seven Wonders Novel by T.L.Higley.  I was browsing through the library and just decided to choose an isle and happened upon this very interesting novel.  It is a fictional novel written by a Christian author about the Lighthouse of Alexandria- one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  The story takes place in Alexandria, Egypt (48 BC) around the time that the Romans led by Julius Caesar arrive to the palace of Cleopatra and Ptolemy XIII (sister-brother) in Alexandria.  This was an absolutely amazing novel and it would be cool if it became a movie one day.  Quotes from ancient authors are riddled throughout the novel in unique and unusual ways.  One of the main character Sophia- keeper of the lighthouse- grasps with trust, love, religion, and a deep sense of loss while staying true to herself, her country, and her people.  Another main character Bellus- a Roman centurion- struggles with knowledge, duty, and honor.  There is a sense of finding yourself in the book and that it is never too late to love or be loved by those around you.  I could not put this book down and I am looking forward to reading more books by this author. 

The other book that I finished a week or two ago was The Pub Across The Pond by MaryCarter.  I found it at a local store when I was browsing through the book selection.  It is set in modern day and encompasses both Cleveland, Ohio and the fictional town of Ballybeog, Ireland.  Carlene is the main character and has had hard luck all her life, but amazingly enough she wins a pub across the pond.  She takes a chance which will change her life forever.  I did enjoy the story, the colorful language not so much, but then again it is set in a pub so it has to go hand-in-hand.  The story is about taking chances, finding yourself, letting others in, forgiveness, and love.  The little town of Ballybeog reminded me of the small town in which I attend school- outsiders find it hard to be accepted and sometimes do not last, but once you are accepted they will bend over backwards to help and lend support.  I plan on check out another book or two from this author.

Looks like I’m out of books again, until then I’ll dream of my next adventure to the library.