Monday, November 30, 2009

Chocolate Pancakes - Freezer Friendly!

This is one of my early morning "cheats." When I make pancakes for my family, I always at least double the recipe and freeze the extras. I let them cool before I put them into a container so that they do not stick together once frozen. Then, whenever I'm having a harder morning or want a special treat for the kids, I take out a few and heat them in the microwave. They turn out wonderfully and breakfast is a snap. I do this with regular pancakes and the family favorite, Chocolate!

Chocolate Pancakes
2 c pancake mix
3 T unsweetened cocoa
2 T sugar
1-1/2 c water
1/4 c chocolate chips

I hope you enjoy this recipe on Menu Plan Monday!


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Sunday!

A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom. Proverbs 10:23 NIV

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Do Big Chores Together

I always find it amazing that we end up with so many leaves in our yard each fall. When it is time to remove them, we take the opportunity to work together and have some fun.

It is always fun to see how easy a task seems when you work together and how much fun you can make the thing you have been dreading.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Give the Gift of Art Supplies

I think the best gifts you can get for kids are craft and art supplies. Our daughter recently turned three years old. She was thrilled when we bought her painting supplies and construction paper. Kids love to draw, paint, and use their imagination. Many of the supplies you find now are non-toxic and washable, so they are relatively safe for children. Art supplies give hours of entertainment and a chance for you to encourage your child's creativity.

For more Christmas gift ideas click here!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday filled with happy memories.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Freezer Meals

I was so excited when I heard that our church was looking for cooks to help fill our church freezer with meals. I love cooking and real enjoy making meals in bulk from my Fix, Freeze, and Feast cookbook. The purpose of the church freezer is to store meals so that when a family is in need of a meal, we can provide them one quickly. Mostly, the freezer is used if someone has an illness in the family or a death in the family. I love this idea and am excited to help out with it. I recently made mashed potatoes and pork roasts for the freezer. If we get a call that someone is in need for food, I have labeled my dishes so that someone will be able to take them from the freezer, warm them, and take a hot meal to a family.
Freezer meals are a great idea for any church. Many people are willing to help fill the freezer with premade meals for a help a family in need.
Making freezer meals Works for Me.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Ability To Stay Calm

I'll admit it. I didn't always possess this ability. Things like I have pictured here would have, at one point in my life, made me pretty angry. Now, it made me laugh.

A recent order of children's art supplies arrived at my home. I wasn't able to open it until late in the evening. A smaller box was inside the larger one and I lifted it out and placed it on my cream colored carpet. THIS is what I saw below it. Yes, it was on the box I put on the floor. Yes, it was now on my carpet. Yes, I laughed out loud.

I am happy that I have been able to teach my children that we can't always control the situation we find ourselves in, but we CAN control our reaction. Getting angry wasn't going to do any good. It wouldn't lift the red stain from my floor or repair the damaged product in the box. It would only make things worse for me and set a bad example for my kids.

I am grateful that I have the proper perspective in most situations now. This Gratituesday, I hope that you are able to laugh, no matter what life brings you.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Cabbage Rolls

One of my favorite family recipes past down from my mom is her cabbage roll recipe. It is quick, easy to make, and delicious.

Cabbage Rolls
1 Head of cabbage
1 Large tomato juice
1 lb. hamburger
1 cup rice
Salt and Pepper

Cut 7 to 8 cabbage leaves at the stalk. Place the cabbage leaves in a pot with a small amout of water. Steam cabbage for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Drain water.
Mix rice and hamburger in a bowl, add 1/4 cup of tomato juice, add salt and pepper as desired, and mix together.
Divide the hamburger mixture into equal portions in the leaves and wrap. In a large stock pot, pour a cup of the tomato juice in the bottom and add cabbage rolls seam down. After you have added all the cabbage rolls to the pot, pour the remaining tomato juice on top. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Then, reduce to medium heat and cook the cabbage rolls for 45 minutes.

We like to eat cabbage rolls with cole slaw and mashed potatoes. Yum!

For other Menu Plan Monday recipes click here!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Happy Sunday!

Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin. Proverbs 10: 14 NIV

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Photo Books

My husband had a wonderful idea for a gift for me for Christmas the year we had our first daughter. He made me a photo storybook of our love story and included our new daughter. It is a book to read to her at bedtime. The book includes pictures of family members and dog. Our daughter loves to see and read about all of these familiar faces in our storybook.

Photo books are an excellent gift. You can make them with your digital photos on the Kodak Gallery, Shutterfly, or you could make a scrapbook using the same idea. Your loved ones will be so happy with their personalized gift.

For more homemade Christmas gift ideas click here!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Simple Time With The Family

I realize that my favorite times with my family are the simplest ones. We enjoy a vacation together now and then, but an afternoon spent walking around our neighborhood or reading together are just as fun. Those times build the best memories that I hope my children will take with them as well.

In these trying financial times, it is so nice to know that we don't have to do elaborate things to have fun together.

I love to let those great memories just happen by us being ourselves together. The best things in life truly are free.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: Library Book Sale

For several years, I have been going to the fall and spring book sales at our local library. I have found many great deals there. Usually, books are fifty cent for paperback and one dollar for hard back. The best books I get are for the kids. Just before our first daughter was born, I went to a book sale and bought lots of children’s books including Dr. Seuss and many other children’s favorites. It took her awhile to grow into those books, but they have become our daily go to books for story time. Even though we use the library a lot, it is nice to have a supply of books at home. The girls love to read the same books many times and have some of them memorized.

If you want to get some cheap used books, check out the library book sale at your local library. Sometimes, books are donated to the sale that are like new.


What are your Thrifty ideas? To see details about how to share them with us, look here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Parent-Child Journal

Something that I have discovered that helps my kids express any anxiety is a Parent-Child journal. I made the one pictured here for my daughter on her first day of second grade. We write messages back and forth to each other and leave it on the other's pillow. Whenever she has something she wants to discuss with me, but feels awkward approaching me about it, she can leave me a note. Sometimes writing feels safer. I use the journal to remind her of things we're working on and to praise her efforts. I think it will also make a wonderful keepsake for us after we fill it up.

I began with a regular composition notebook. I covered it with scrapbook paper and painted the edges to finish it off. I added a little label and we have a great book.

Now that my son is beginning to write on his own, he has requested a book. It is definitely high on my list to create one for him, too.

A Parent-Child journal definitely Works For Me.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Grateful for Old, Simple Toys

My in-laws recently came for a visit and brought some of my husband's old toys with them. Our girls loved seeing the toys that their dad used to play with. One of the toys was a Playschool Wood Block Set. The container was warn and the blocks looked like they had seen better days, but the girls loved playing with them. Watching them play with the blocks reminded me of how simple toys used to be, but oh how we loved those toys growing up. The great things about older toys is that they came with little instruction and you had to be creative. Even our young daughters have made up games with these simple wooden blocks. One of our daughters was even using one as a cell phone the other day. With so little detail, the older toys leave a lot for the imagination.

With all the toy advertisements this time of year, on this gratituesday, I am grateful to see some toys around our house that do not require any other technical support other than the imagination.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Cravings

I like spicy food. One of my most frequent cravings is for Buffalo Chicken. I would love to pop over to the local Buffalo Wild Wings and enjoy a basket of wings, but that wouldn't work well with my diet!

I have, thankfully, found a solution. I bake some boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut up my portion. I take a tablespoon of sauce and mix it together and I get all of the taste with none of the harm to my diet.

I was so happy when I saw that I can purchase the sauce to use at home. You can see their online selection here. I am partial to the Spicy Garlic and pop into my local store when I run out. I have seen other varieties in the grocery store as well.

Next time you get a Buffalo Wing craving, you can try a more diet-friendly version in your Menu Plan right at home.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy Sunday!

Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. Proverbs 4:1-2 NIV

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Scholastic Book Orders

If you r kids are in public school, you are probably very familiar with Scholastic Book Orders. I have volunteered the last few years to handle the book orders for both of my children's classrooms, so I have learned a lot about the program.

Scholastic is a great resource for inexpensive reading material for your children. You can often find popular books up to 50% off retail price. The added bonus to ordering thru this program is that you earn reading materials for your child's classroom. I have seen the wonderful number of free books that come in and am constantly in awe at the generosity of this company.

I am also now the "Book Fair Lady" at my children's school and this is also a wonderful program. You don't receive the discounts you do thru the order forms, but the earnings by the school are even greater.

You should also check to see if there is a warehouse in your area. They have special sales a few times each year and you can go shop right from their warehouse and the savings there are astronomical.

Scholastic also has a wonderful website loaded with wonderful resources. I hope you take a moment to check it out.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Game Review - Clue Jr.

I was recently desperate to find some new games to play with my kids. I was definitely tired of Candyland and didn't want to see another Chute or Ladder for a while. I started to look around and found Clue Jr.

From the manufacturer:
Give junior detectives a chance to solve the case with this specially designed game--a classic Whodunit for ages five to eight! Find the clues to find out who stole the cake and ate it, too! It's classic CLUE fun for kids! Put on your detective hat and see if you can solve this delicious Mystery. Play over and over again for a different ending every time.

We did really enjoy this game from the very first time we played it. I like that it is different each time and we have actually made it more cooperative by helping each other find the information we still need to solve the mystery. Give it a try and see if you can discover who stole the cake!

For more great Christmas game ideas click here!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thrifty Thursday - Care For Your Car

We try our best to stay on top of vehicle maintenance. We change the oil regularly (with some guidance from the friendly reminder on our dashboard) and check the tire pressure often. I watch for coupons from out local oil change establishments and they often check tire pressure and fluid levels as well.

I also take care of my vehicle cosmetically. I clean the inside regularly so that it stays as nice as possible with two little people tracking thru the back. With winter approaching, I also have to stay on top of keeping road salt off of the paint so that it stays in nice shape, too.

If you keep us with regular auto maintenance, it can save you a lot in the long run.


What are your Thrifty ideas? To see details about how to share them with us, look here.

We hope to see you link up below!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

I would like to take today to thank all the Veterans of our country. We are truly blessed to live in the United States of America. Thanks to all of those who have served and those who are currently serving our country and their families.

I am especially grateful for my grandfather and father-in-law who served our country.

This post is linked to Works-for-Me Wednesday.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Grateful For Good Health

As we are now in the midst of cold and flu season, I am reminded that we need to be grateful for our good health. It isn't something we often think about until we are sick.

I am also grateful that we have good health care workers to take care of us when we do fall ill. This time of year especially, they should be in our thoughts and prayers as they expose themselves and their families to every illness in the area to keep us well.

On this Gratituesday, I am grateful for the healthy days and those who work to keep us well.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Last year, I found a great cranberry sauce recipe. It uses fresh or frozen cranberries and the red color looks absolutely beautiful in the middle of your Thanksgiving Feast. We buy our cranberries in bulk at Costco and they keep very well in the freezer.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
12 oz. package of fresh or frozen cranberries

Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the cranberries and return to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and boil gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until serving time.

I hope you try this recipe for Thanksgiving this year, you won’t be disappointed. Thanks for joining us for Menu Plan Monday.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Happy Sunday!

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19: 21 NIV

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Homemade Christmas Gift – Customized T-Shirts

One of my favorite homemade Christmas gift ideas is making a customized t-shirt for your loved ones.
Last year, for my husband’s birthday, I made him a t-shirt with special meaning to us. My daughter, who was just turning two at the time, used to go around saying, “I See You Daddy.” This was funny because my husband actually works in the ICU at the hospital. So, with the girls in tow, I headed off to the craft store to see what I could make for my husband. Since he doesn’t necessarily like “crafty” stuff," it was a bit of a challenge. Then, I came up with making a t-shirt. He wears a lot of t-shirts around the house, so this was going to be something that he might actually use. We bought some iron on letters and a t-shirt and went to work. The finished product was approved by the girls and wrapped. My husband was excited to see that we put thought into his birthday gift! He still wears the t-shirt proudly.
Making a customized t-shirt is a great idea for people of all ages. There are some very cute iron on patches that would make some fun and inexpensive gifts for kids.

For more great homemade Christmas gift ideas click here!


Friday, November 6, 2009

The True Meaning of Christmas

Every Christmas season, we spend a lot of time teaching our children about the true meaning of Christmas. They hear the Christmas story at church, but we go over it many times at home as well. On our daughter’s second Christmas, I started searching for board books to read to her to help her start to understand. Since then, we have enjoyed reading these books to her every year.
I feel the best gift that you can give your child is to share with them the true meaning of Christmas.

The board books we read are: Tell Me the Christmas Story and Christmas in the Manger.

As our children get older, we will look for more detailed story books, but as always, we will do our yearly tradition of reading the Christmas Story straight from the Bible.
For more great Christmas gift ideas click here!


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: Fall Used Children’s Clothes Sale

Once again, I am super excited about my purchases at a used children’s clothes sale. I usually attend used clothes sales two to three times per year. Recently, I went to the fall sale and racked up. This year was special because my mom was visiting and she got to share the experience with me. We arrived a few minutes before the sale began, but still had to stand in a long line. We paid a $1 entrance fee and that went to children’s charities, which I thought was a wonderful idea!
We bought several clothes, but our best purchase was a bike that my mom is planning to give to my 3 year old for her birthday next week. The bike was in great shape and I’m sure my daughter will be thrilled to have it. She will never know that it only cost $14 and looks brand new!

You can usually find used clothes sales through your local mom's clubs.

I have written about buying used clothes before. Check out my tips here. Thanks for joining us for Thrifty Thursday!

Look here to see how to join Thrifty Thursday.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Being Prepared For The Flu

So far, we have avoided the dreaded flu. My kids have contracted other minor viruses, but nothing too severe. I have formed a plan of action that will hopefully hold it at bay. The law of averages in my life have shown that, if I am prepared for the worst, it usually doesn't happen. It is when I'm not ready that disaster seems to strike.

I am making an effort to keep the elements of the BRAT (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) diet on hand now in case we pick up a bug this season. I am prepared to make toast to tame upset tummies, have apple juice for reluctant drinkers who need to stay hydrated, natural applesauce and bananas for easy snacks.

I am hoping that we can stay healthy, but I am glad to know that these items, along with keeping the medications we will need on hand, will make it easier if we do become ill. During the start of this busy season, not having to run to the store for supplies with a sick child Works For Me.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Women's Bible Study

I have truly enjoyed my new Women's Bible Study group this fall. We are using a book called Marriage from Surviving to Thriving by Charles R. Swindoll. Even though my husband and I feel like we have a great marriage, we are always happy to learn how we can make it better. The book examines how God intended for married couples to experience and enjoy life to together.

On this Gratituesday, I am grateful for my Women's Bible Study group. It is awesome to enjoy some time each week with a great group of ladies. My Women's Bible Study group is at the church we attend. Usually, churches provide childcare for mothers with young children. I have a friend that goes to Community Bible Study and has had a good experience. Alot of the Community Bible Studies offer a Children's Program so that the children can participate too.
I hope you will be inCouraged to join a Women's Bible Study!


Monday, November 2, 2009

Turkey Sugar Cookies

This little cookie has become a yearly tradition. They couldn't be simpler and I hope you get a chance to make them. They have made it onto my Menu Plan for the week.

Start with your favorite sugar cookie (homemade or store bought) and bake them as directed. We get a little tube of orange, gel icing from the grocery store. You could also make your own royal icing, tint it and place it in a plastic bag with the corner snipped off to make your own piping bag.

Make a line of icing along the top and add candy corn feathers for the turkey's tail. Use icing to attach two M&M candies and give them little dots on top for eyes. The dot placement can help make a whimsical turkey gazing off into the distance, too! Use some more icing to create a beak and legs for your new little friend.

I hope you like these cute little cookies and that they are a fun addition to you fall baking.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Sunday!

My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. Proverbs 1:10 NIV