Tuesday, December 30

REAL Southern Cornbread

Of all breads, this is the most controversial. People are serious about their cornbread almost as much as they are about their BBQ. I have actually witnessed arguments over what is considered real cornbread.

The general consciences is that Northern cornbread is sweet and more cake like and Southern cornbread is dense and drier. Some add cracklings, broccoli, okra, cream corn, peppers, honey..you name it...someone has probably thrown it in a batch of cornbread. 

Now, I'm not one to argue with someone on what taste they prefer..if you like sweet cornbread..fine..you just go right ahead and eat your sweet cornbread. Me, if I want something sweet, light, and moist, I'll go eat a piece of cake.

First, REAL southern cornbread does not contain ANY sugar. Yes, you read me correctly. There is absolutely NO sweetener in REAL southern cornbread. Anyone who argues that point does not make REAL southern cornbread. Southern cornbread is just a bread that accompanies a meal. It is not a form of dessert. 

Secondly, REAL southern cornbread is always made in cast iron. ALWAYS...it can be a round skillet, wedge shaped skillet, corn stick pan, or if you're lucky like me, you have your grandmothers old cast iron muffin pan. Doesn't matter...as long as its cast iron. There is a flavor that cast iron gives that nothing else compares.

Thirdly, REAL southern cornbread has very little flour. We like the texture and taste of cornmeal. Its the point of cornbread. If your recipe calls for a 50/50 ratio of cornmeal and flour. It's not southern cornbread. 

Fourth rule to REAL southern cornbread...BACON DRIPPINGS...yes, I said it. Bacon drippings. Now don't go and shake your head and run in fear of your arteries clogging. If you want watch the fat then you shouldn't be eating cornbread to start with..go buy wheat flat bread and have an avocado roll. Besides, the taste of southern cornbread is not complete without it. 

Last but not least, even some of us southern ladies argue about. Does REAL southern cornbread contain eggs or not? Actually...not. Cornbread is meant to be dense but crumbly. Adding eggs makes it more cake like. Which if you've kept up so far, already know...should never be considered southern cornbread. 

2 cups stone ground cornmeal
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of black pepper
2 cups buttermilk
2-1/2 tablespoons bacon drippings

First, prepare your pan. Coat the side and bottom of your skillet (muffin or corn stick pan) with the bacon drippings. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven. 

In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Add 1-1/2 cups of buttermilk and blend well. 

Remove your hot skillet from the oven ( The drippings should be hot but not smoking) and pour the melted bacon drippings into your batter, mixing well.

Add the remaining buttermilk into your batter until its slightly thicker than pancake batter. If to thick add more buttermilk. If its to thin add more cornmeal. DO NOT ADD MORE FLOUR.

Bake for 15-20 minutes in a 375 degree oven or until the top is golden brown and tooth pick comes out clean. 

Enjoy with any meal or just a bowl of your favorite beans.

Monday, December 29

Cupcakes and Snewffy...

A few years ago I made myself a promise that when I gave the kids a birthday or Christmas gift it would be handmade. After receiving my order of hats and mittens from my friend Steph over at A Close Knit Family. And seeing how much Hannah absolutely adored her cupcake set, I ordered her a matching handbag. I decided that Hannah's gift would be handmade, just not handmade by mom. Let's face it, I need lots of practice on my knitting. The first thing I made were booties for my youngest crumb snatcher...and he won't be able to wear them until he graduates from High School...or grows into a gigantic super baby. Mom needs a lot of work in the knitting area. 

Well Steph did it again...material is so soft and details are perfect. My cupcake loves her cupcake purse...especially the sprinkles. 

For Ryan this year, I made him a shirt with his favorite cartoon pup...Snewffy (as my Ryan calls him). He has an obsession over the Peanuts gang...and he even has a crush on the little red head girl next door. His only trouble is that he has to much hair to be Charlie Brown. 


Menu Monday

Now that the holidays are over I really am sort of sick of rich fair. I'm already craving the fruits of the summer season along with the light dishes. Luckily I went on a freezing binge this past year. I have lots of okra, corn etc. I can't wait until this spring/summer when I teach myself to can. Should be an experience. Who knew that the once pampered princess would turn frugal homemaker? If you would have told me this 4 years ago I would have laughed myself until I peed a little. 

Monday- Slow cooked great northern beans seasoned with left over Christmas ham and corn bread.
Tuesday- Baked spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread twist
Wednesday- Finger foods to bring in the New Year with the family
Thursday- Oven fried pork chops, black eyed peas, and sauteed cabbage, with Mexican corn bread (standard southern New Years day meal)
Friday- Salads with oven baked chicken tenders (think Zaxby's Zalads)
Saturday- Using the kids free pizza coupons from the schools book-it reward and ordering from Pizza Hut
Sunday- California Burritos

Saturday, December 27

Lord grant me patience

So I admit it. I'm a neurotic mother. I've always owned up to it. I worry about my kids behavior, manners, dress, and cleanliness. I boarder on the line between pushy and obsessive. Its all the fault of high expectations. I expect perfection. I never receive it and that's okay...but I expect it. LOL I joke with my friends that instead of a college fund I have therapy funds for my three. But as far as my neurotic quirks, I've always worried that my kids were utter brats. I get the normal back talk from them that I guess most parents get, not that I tolerate it one iota, but hey...kids are kids right? With having my two oldest so close together they can fight like rabid dogs one minute and then the next shouting from the highest peak how much they love their sibling. Being an only child, for years I thought that my children had some sort of relationship complex or inherited bipolar tendencies.

I never knew until 10 minutes ago just how wonderfully behaved my children are. They may whine, complain, and be brats occasionally or have exorcist type tantrums....but they are close enough to perfect for me. Even my son with PDD/NOS and ADHD and other behavioral delays is greatly behaved.

Enters my great nephew. Two months younger than my Ryan who turned 5 in September. My great nephew was invited to spend the night with us for the first time, has graced this house for 10 minutes and already I'm wanting to send him packing. Lord grant me the patience I need to make it until morning without the use of children's benadryl.

Wednesday, December 24

Merry Christmas

Last post before I go crazy finishing the final touches before tonight. I still have wrapping to do and some re wrapping (thanks crumb snatchers), Christmas mouse prep, and the mountain of food to get ready. Everything is complete except the Ham, green bean casserole, rolls, and mom is working on the potato salad as we speak. Sometime today I have to take a tray to my dads who is under the weather and not up to joining us tonight. I still need to mop and do a fly by dusting. 

I am in such a joyous mood. This has been one of the best Christmas seasons here at my house. So many memories made, laughter and smiles...we are truly blessed. 

I also want to extend a thanks to my friend Heather over at Home Ec 101. She helped me out of a fast pinch this morning when I found I was completely out of sweetened condensed milk that I so very desperately needed for the Chocolate cream pie. You rock mama...Thanks a million. 

Also above is a little chocolate porn for my friend Stephanie over at A close Knit Family and my other girls both Summer, August, ASD/PDNOS/GDD and October. I have enjoyed you being apart of my life this past year. You've been there for advice, humor, encouragement and support. Next, to one of my best friends online and IRL, Rachel over at Sweet Angel Memories. Thanks for being you...enough said. And to my new twin Leslie. I swear we were separated at birth (other than religious beliefs) which we so smartly detour from.You've not only helped validate my views but given me some great new recipes. To Kim...thanks for helping me find my way to being a better wife and mother and the knowledge of my roles in the home.  Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas..I love you ladies. 

Tuesday, December 23

Beware of the Pig-it

This morning our family made cookies for Santa. So much fun decorating and nibbling. No pictures of the older crumb snatchers eating theirs, I'm  pretty sure Hannah and Ryan inhaled their cookies. Mark however is a true classic foodie. He savors each bites as if it were his last meal. 

Later my Ryan mistook the day and took the tray and placed it on the table closest to the tree. As I was busy in the kitchen making pies, he ran in thinking Santa had been here but left nothing because the cookies were gone...I looked for the tray which of course was not in the kitchen...then followed my son to investigate. Low and behold, empty tray...guess Holly (super fab pooch) had herself a super fab snack. I guess another tray for Santa will be made sometime today and Holly's new nickname is Pig-it...coined by Ryan. 

Sugar cookie recipe will not be posted. Old family secret of course :) But the icing recipe is from Home Ec 101. My normal recipe doesn't allow you to leave out the vanilla extract which is impossible to get a pure white. This taste wonderful and is very simple. I'm tossing my  own and adopting a new. 

Monday, December 22

Menu Monday

I'm a little late on this. Been a long day of errands. Would have probably only taken me no more than an hour or so on a normal day but with the kids out for Christmas break, I had a little more to tow. Not that we didn't make it fun. Or I should say as fun as we could. My errands weren't so interesting. First the day started with me feeding the kids and quickly heading out. I made sure to take all my medication before, but I forgot to feed myself. On the way to the Post office to get my refund from a stamp machine thief, I got the shakes, cold legs and fuzzy head...insulin injections and no breakfast or lunch doesn't really sit well on the body. You would think after YEARS and YEARS this would be embedded in my brain. With no glucose tabs or candy, I made a B-line for Burger King. Not the most healthy choice or the fastest, but it got the job done. Anyway, the rest of the day was about the same...I ventured into Walmart of all places to pick up prescriptions and few groceries. I really think I've lost my mind to even go near that place this week. By the time we arrived home this afternoon I was in NO mood to cook. Thank gosh I was smart enough to throw a sirloin roast in the crock pot this morning. So the house smelled wonderful and dinner was done when I walked through the door. Gotta love crock pots. 

Monday- Sirloin roast, egg noodles with Au ju gravy, and peas
Tuesday- Vegetable beef stew and grilled cheese
Wednesday- Annual Christmas Eve party
  • Ham
  • Smoked Turkey
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Baked Mac & cheese
  • 7 layer salad
  • Potato Salad
  • Chocolate pie
  • Pecan pie
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Chocolate peanut butter balls
  • Truffles
  • Various Cookies/Candies
  • Sausage balls
  • Artichoke and spinach dip
  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Mini Brie pizzas
  • Spiced Pecans
  • Various items brought by friends
  • The wine will flow
Thursday- Breakfast Morning Casserole, then Christmas lunch with the in-laws
Friday- C.O.R.N (Clean out refrig night)
Saturday- Leftovers again
Sunday- Take out (My pick this week...most likely Mexican)

Saturday, December 20

Mom's Favorite Cookie

This weekend I decided to do some favorites of my parents. My mom absolutely loves cookies, but these melt her heart. In her words, they are perfect blend of sugary shortbread and an earthy nutty flavor. I wish I had known the secret in my teen years...I could have swindled so much. LOL

1 1/2 cups sugar (+plus for rolling dough)
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
Cream together sugar and butter in mixing bowl until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Stir together remaining ingredients, then chill for an hour. Then form into walnut size balls and roll into sugar and cover completely. Place on well greased cookie sheet. Bake 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are lightly golden. Let cool on wire rack.

Friday, December 19

Magic Reindeer Food

Who says Santa is the only one who gets treats Christmas Eve? What about the reindeer...they are the ones having to haul all the loot roof to roof. That's a hard job. I only haul three kids and I struggle with that myself. 

Magic Reindeer food is a very cheap and easy project you can do at home with the kids or for a class project. I have done this project with my kids classes since preschool and its always a big hit. You can also teach measurements and counting while having fun. Easy way to get your little ones learning in the kitchen!

All it contains is raw rolled oats, sprinkles, and marshmallows. Some recipes call for glitter, but we prefer not to give indigestion to birds and rabbits who will most likely eat the leftovers....so we stick with sprinkles. I think they can handle a sugar high better than the bloat (or death)...there really is no ratios to do this...it all depends on how much food you want to leave the reindeer. We feel a small handful does the job...no one wants Blizten so fat he can't fly and I hear Comet has a bad case of flatulence

1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon sprinkles of your choice
9 marshmallows or M&M's (one for each reindeer)
ziplock bags

*For a classroom, you can print the graphic above to place on the bags. 

Wednesday, December 17

What to devour first... Husband or cookies?

Today was another day of testing my patience with Mr. Kendra. As much as I try to be understanding, it infuriates me when he makes large purchases without having a conversation with me first...or at least forewarn me. Although he swears he told me months ago he wanted a new truck...I for some reason didn't translate that to "Hey hun, I'm going to buy a truck today"...this morning he leaves to run errands and returns 5 hours later with a truck and nice new payment...ONE WEEK before Christmas. I wanted to pelt him with my waffle iron, but since I'm not a violent person by nature....I refrained from beating, choking, or throttling him with large kitchenware... and stepped away. This is TWICE he has come home with a new vehicle without so much as hint to me. I often wonder if this rash purchases aren't prelude to a premature midlife crisis. Or if this is it. Guess bringing home a truck is better than bringing home a cute little perky 20 year old. 

But yes, Mr. Kendra still lives. 

I decided to transfer my anger to my mixer and pounded out some cookies. These are our neighbor son's ULTIMATE favorite cookie. His mother bakes them every year to give as gifts. After years of devouring these perfect nibbles I finally stalked her enough where she relented and gave me the recipe. At first when I started making these I couldn't get them quite as nice and chewy as she does. It took me time to tweak them to perfection.

You really should try these cookies. They are so wonderful. 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1  1/2 cups flour 
1  1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup shortening
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp hot water
1 tsp vanilla
1  1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 (12 oz) package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups dry rolled oats

Shift together soda, flour and salt. I separate bowl, cream shortening and sugar (both brown and white). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in hot water, vanilla, and flour mixture. Add all remaining ingredients, mixing well. Let cookie dough rest for 5 minutes before dropping onto a well greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes or until cookies are lightly golden in color. 

Fun with Cinnamon

This is a craft project I do with the kids each year. Not only is it insanely easy, but the smell it creates is sure to put you into the spirit of Christmas. It's also an inexpensive gift for children to give to teachers and friends or decorate the top of packages. You can also decorate them with glitter pant and place them in a dish or bowl to give your home the wonderful festive scent of holiday baking.  Another ideas are to decorate your tree, garland or attach them on your front door wreath to greet guest as the come into your home with their appealing aroma. When not in use, store them in an air tight container and they can last for years, smelling just as fresh as the day they were made. 
Applesauce Cinnamon Ornaments 
(makes 10 ornaments)

1/2 cup of warm applesauce
3/4 cup of ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg (or apple pie spice)
2 tbs white school glue

Mix all ingredients into mixing bowl. The dough should be very stiff but not crumbly. Chill for an hour. Place dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll until 1/4 in thick. Cut out with cookie cutters. Using a straw make a hole near the top for hanging with ribbons. Place ornaments on a flat surface (such as a baking sheet or card board piece) and let dry. Depending on humidity, the drying period may vary. You may have to flip them to make sure they dry thoroughly

***Be careful letting children handle the dough with bare hands for extended periods of time. Cinnamon can burn the skin with prolonged contact. 

Tuesday, December 16

Feminine Ways...

I recently had a friend comment to me on the relationship I have with my husband. She being a very cosmopolitan business woman making an art of balancing a career and family, didn't understand "our" family. The choice to live in traditional roles. She made mention of feminism, and how it was important to move women out of the kitchen and into more equal roles in the home and in society. She not so tastefully stated that by putting myself in the traditional role of homemaker was teaching my children the opposite and therefore disgracing the meaning of feminism and what so many fought so hard for.

At first I wanted to revert back to the old "Kendra", which would have rolled her eyes, done the head snap, and made her swallow her pretty little pumps. But the new improved version decided to educate her.

First, I felt it important to let her know that part of my BA degree was in History and Social Studies, so therefore Women's Studies was a large part of that and I knew what women went through, to break ground, so we could have choices and rights. Thanks to them I have the choice to go to work or stay home. But it is my choice. I believe in the traditional roles of women. I believe in uplifting men in the home. Being a submissive wife doesn't mean I kowtow to my husbands every wish, or that he is a dominate brute of a husband that has me running scared to do his bidding. I do it because I respect him, I love him, and because I WANT TO. I do make sure I take care of my appearance before he gets home from work. I do serve his plate at dinner. I do warm his towels. If his glass is empty I fill it. I do care for the home and children. I do try to please him. And why is that wrong? I married him. I took vows, this is the man I am to spend the rest of my life with. Why is it wrong to want to make him happy? I do not run around after him like an attached puppy waiting for a pat on the head. I know his likes, dislikes and routines, and if I can make his days or moments more pleasant, I will. I give freely, he never demands. He appreciates each detail, each gesture, each way I help provide a warm and comfortable home. I do not have to fish for compliments or thanks. He to gives freely. I find the more I work to provide him comfort, the more he wants to do for me and the family. He is the head of the household and I am his support.

It wasn't always this way. Before we had power struggles within our home. With finding a new way for myself with the Lord, our home has transformed. It is peaceful, calm, full of love and grace. So if I'm teaching my children the many ways of Godly femininity through traditional familial gender roles, IT'S OKAY. We have the right...thanks to the women of the Feminist movement. I can be the woman I want to be, and so can my daughter.

~Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:3-5

Monday, December 15

Menu Monday

  • Monday- Waffles, sausage links, and fruit salad
  • Tuesday- Smothered pork chops, asparagus bundles, and wild rice
  • Wednesday- Sunday school Christmas party (lots of goodies)
  • Thursday- Chicken Alfredo with broccoli and mushrooms, garlic bread, and salad
  • Friday- C.O.R.N (clean out refrig night) for the kids, date night for parents (yay me)
  • Saturday- Make your own PIZZA night and salad
  • Sunday- Pulled pork Carolina style, slaw, and baked beans

Sunday, December 14

Love at first bite...

Truffles are another holiday favorite here. This is one I have yet let the kids help with. Well, for one they are for a Christmas party, and two, I always make a big enough mess by myself creating these. All are filled with chocolate ganache either dipped in dark, milk, and white chocolate or a mixture. I prefer to coat mine with a thin layer of tempered chocolate than rolling in coco powder, but they are fabulous either way. These little babies are so easy, yet look like you spent hours creating them. Honestly, the biggest challenge is trying not to dive into the bowl head first and eating your way to the surface.  Recipe

Saturday, December 13

My new ornament

It's just adorable. It's the ornament I received in our annual Christmas Ornament exchange. My friend Jen did a fabulous job, and it fits right in our collection of eclectic ornaments! I love it! I'm jealous of her craftiness LOL

Thursday, December 11

Brown Sugar Brick

Did you know that brown sugar can be registered as a deadly weapon? It can, especially if you don't transfer it to a tightly sealed container and just throw the bag into your refrigerator. I learned that the hard way after buying a new bag during the Thanksgiving holidays and in a rush of cooking got lazy. So during my day of Baking Bliss I found, kitchen laziness just means more work later. The old Kendra would have just chucked the bag into the trash and jumped into the grocery getter (a.k.a mini van~stop laughing) to purchase a new bag. BTW, that bag too would have ended in the refrig uncovered. Oh the Horror of it all. But in my new found frugality, I knew I had to save it. So how do you save a brown sugar brick, you say? Well, maybe you know the answer....but I didn't. Usually I'm not the brightest crayon in the box, but I did know that the moisture had evaporated from the sugar. I needed to somehow replenish that moisture. But how? AHHH HAAA, I had it. The microwave. I didn't want it to melt however, so I sawed the brick in half. Yes, I said SAW....no I didn't actually use a saw, but I swear it would have been easier. So in the microwave the brick went...along with water in a separate cup. I started with a minute...hoping the vapor would moisten the sugar. It was extremely depleted of any H2O, that I had to go to three...Finally it worked! It became soft and crumbly once more. I love when I have these moments of brilliance :) Oh hush, I know its a secret that's probably been around since the dawn of microwaves...but at least I learned a few lessons, #1, there is a use for the microwave besides popcorn and heating cold coffee, #2 when somethings says store in a tightly sealed container, there is a reason why. 

Wednesday, December 10

Angel Ornaments

Each year a group of friends get together and exchange Christmas ornaments. It can be any type as long as its handmade. This year I went to our local Fabrics and Craft store. They do a workshop each season and supply all the crafts. You just bring your creative caps and the fee of course :) This year I made an angel. I am sort of proud of her. So much so, I went back and bought more supplies. I'll use these little sweet cherubs on top of Christmas packages.

Tuesday, December 9

Baking Bliss...

Don't get me wrong. I love baking with the kids. There is something about their drooly grins and sneaky fingers...but the mess and noise sometimes get to much when you have large projects. This afternoon I got a chance to bake all by my lonesome. Peace and quiet to test out new recipes, perfect the old standbys and play around with the camera...ahhhh...baking bliss.
Dark chocolate and french vanilla Pinwheels
Chocolate Sniderdoodle drops

Mint Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Cranberry, orange and walnut scones

Monday, December 8

It's not a hat, its a cupcake!

Once upon a time there were two cheeky mamas who happened to also be fabulously gorgeous ... decided to pass the time away drooling over Etsy.com. One mama said, "Hey, look, isn't this hat awesome...it would look so good on Miss Princess Diva Brat (aka Hannah)?". The ultra wondrous crafty mama named Stephanie over at A Close Knit Family said "I can make that.." and so the conspiracy began unknowingly to Mr. Kendra who thought only one set was being made. MUAHHHHHH....

But in all seriousness, aren't they just too CUTE! I had her make all three of my crumb snatchers a set. So soft and well made. The kids adore them and when Mark saw himself in the mirror with his froggie hat he gave a big ole belly laugh. He thought he was so funny. Thanks a million Steph :) And if you don't open your own store I'm driving to MI and stealing your brand new gold knitting needles. Next on my list is felt play food, a new sweater for Holly, and braided hand bands. So you better relax those hands.

Menu Monday

This weeks menu is basically request from my family, mainly from Mr. Kendra himself. Most of the time he doesn't care since he inhales most of my dishes with a vengeance...but every now and again he turns into Mr. Ubber Foodie and makes "wish list". As long as budget allows I'm happy to comply.

  • Monday-Chicken, steak & shrimp fajitas and rice
  • Tuesday-Stroganoff over egg noodles & salad
  • Wednesday- Grilled rib-eye steaks, broccoli, and parmesan noodles
  • Thursday-C.O.R.N (clean out refrigerator night)
  • Friday- Make your own pizza night with salad
  • Saturday-Make your own subs with tomato and basil salad (kids pick)
  • Sunday- Pot roast, with roasted mushrooms, onions, carrots, celery, paired with garlic mashed potatoes and yeast rolls

Sunday, December 7

If I were Santa Claus...

You know I have trouble sleeping. I'm one of those people that sleeps like the dead and a freight train can come crashing through my room and I wouldn't even bother to turn over. Its just getting to sleep that's my trouble. My mind keeps wondering and playing back my day, old memories, or I lay biting my nails over one worry or another. Last night it happened to be the topic of Christmas that had me tossing and turning. I've lately turned a new leaf. Set new proprieties. One is to focus on the memories we create as a family and not the material items we gather. To not stress over being one of the "haves" instead of the "have nots". To bring more frugality into my life and home. With that new mindset, we decided last year to scale back at Christmas time. The amount of money we spent just on our families gifts alone was more that most peoples mortgages. Add the cost of friends, extended family, teachers, etc...it had left the term "ridiculous" behind and had ventured into idiocy.

Old habits do die hard though. I sat there cozy in my bed, wanting, and NEEDING to sleep. I worried, "is it enough?", "who did we forget", and of course I am a natural giver. I admit its a bit selfish in a backwards way, but the best gift I can receive is watching excitement when people open the "perfect" gift(s) I painstakingly searched high and low for. But in lou of above mentioned life changes, the pressure to find everyone that perfect present...is off. Yet, the mind wonders.

If I were Santa Claus and could pick any gift or wish out of my sack, I'd give.....
  • ...to my parents and those alike---affordable health care, paired with free prescriptions. May you have freedom from aches and pains.

  • ...to my husband---a raise, better hours, and get out of jail (doghouse) free cards.

  • ...to my friends---time to read a good book and have a long soak, ALONE.

  • ...to my daughter---fulfillment of all your hopes and dreams, freedom from want or need, and of course full scholarship to the college of your choice :)

  • ...to my sons---see list above and of course may you find someone as wonderful as your mother to wed and that I'll like her :)

  • ...Holly (my super fab pooch)---a pair of pumps made purely of peanut butter and bacon

  • ...to my loopies---google ground breaking hits, breathtaking photographs, one of a kind cakes, closer walks with God, sold gold knitting needles, skyrocketing sales, and the knowledge that they're making a difference in this world.

  • ...For those that steal newspapers---a job delivering the Sunday paper without pay

  • ...for all the homeless and mistreated dogs and cats---caring owners who will love and cherish them, and who recognize the responsibility of spaying and neutering.

  • ...For Oprah---never mind..she can buy whatever she wants

  • ...OPEC---a long wait in a line to purchase something they need yet cannot afford

I'm sure tonight will be another one of those nights. I'm sure to add to my list.

Thursday, December 4

Christmas here, Christmas there, Christmas everywhere!

The Christmas season is officially at my house. Our trees are decorated and beautiful. Snowmen, Santa's, and angels are placed throughout the house. Christmas music softly in the background setting the mood. The wonderful smell of spice cake in the air, (thanks to my lovely tart warmer LOL). To kick off the season we always make a ginger bread house. The kids had a blast decorating and frosting it. Looks good enough to eat, and if I know my Ryan, some of the candy will be missing by morning.

Monday, December 1

So many ways to help

With the unsteady economy this year, times are tough for everyone. As a family we try to focus on our blessings, not stressing over trying to afford the latest game system, blue ray, or other gadgets. There is so much to be thankful for and simple ways you are truly blessed. If you have food and shelter, you are blessed. If you are employed, you are blessed. If you are up on your mortgage, you are blessed. If you can pay your bills on time, you are blessed. If you look around and find yourself surrounded by the love and support of family and friends, you are blessed.

Look around.... I bet you can find SOMETHING to be grateful for, even in difficult times. And as we count our blessings, there is no better way to show our gratitude than giving or helping others. I challenge each of you to do something for someone else. As you pass the Salvation Army kettles, throw in your pocket change. Or clean your closets and take a bag of clothes to one of their stores. They're a great organization that does a lot of good in the community. All the food banks (like Second Harvest or Helping Ministries) and homeless shelters desperately need canned and dry goods. Even if it's just a couple of cans, it will be greatly appreciated. The Salvation Army and malls (among others) have angel trees where you can pick a child's name and give them a Merry Christmas!

Another idea is "Santa For Seniors". There are many seniors in nursing homes and hospitals that are forgotten during the holidays. All they ask for are basic necessities like lotion, word puzzles, throws, slippers, toiletries and large print books. Nothing extravagant. Also, don't forget your veteran. Find a local VAMC (veterans medical hospital) near you. Another suggestion, every time you go to the store, buy a toy for the Toys For Tots bin! It could be a simple $1 item. Also as an animal lover, I'm a big supporter of the Humane Society. If you can't give a pet a home, you can still donate bagged or canned food, towels, and treats!

It's my goal to do as many of these things as possible, and I hope you join me.

For those that really do find it hard to see yourself as blessed or one of the less fortunate. Give a smile, hug or warm greeting and remember to include others in your prayers. That itself is a wonderful gift.

Menu Monday

This week will be a little lighter since we all are dragging from such rich fair at Thanksgiving. Plus, with planning Christmas dinner, I want to keep my time in the kitchen and budget low.

  • Monday-Meatloaf, creamed potatoes and green beans
  • Tuesday- Oven baked ranch chicken tenders and broccoli rice casserole
  • Wednesday-Black bean and pineapple quesadillas
  • Thursday-Grilled steak and Cesar salad
  • Friday- Homemade pizza and left over salad
  • Saturday- Take out (kids pick)
  • Sunday- Salisbury steak, wild rice, peas with pearl onion, honey butter yeast rolls

Sunday, November 30

Adios Leftovers

Thanksgiving is officially over here at my house. The leftovers have been eaten, the decorations packed neatly away for next year. Thanksgiving dinner went smoothly this year. No broken china, lost silver, linens and everyone arrived on time. I believe John has the award for eating the most pie. He finished half of a pecan this morning for breakfast. My mom has the award for eating the most leftovers. She loves left over turkey sandwiches.The only goof was my doing. I forgot the creamed potatoes, but with everything else I made it wasn't missed. Oh, and John thought he would be the dogs best friend and pour the remaining turkey drippings into Holly's dish. Nice daddy huh? Well it wasn't nice when she had an upset stomach that night and throughout the next day. I was gone shopping, so he was left to his own devices to clean up the remains of his "nice" gesture. I don't think he will be so "nice" when it comes to Christmas dinner.