Money and Time Saving Tips, Freezer Recipes, and Fun!
Friday, December 23, 2011
For the cake, I use a butter cake recipe I found on allrecipes here. I adapted it for cupcakes by cutting the baking time to about 20 minutes.
For the frosting, I creamed 1/2 cup butter, 1 package light cream cheese, 1 tsp vanilla extract, with 1 cup powdered sugar. I then added 1/4 cup cocoa powder. For the perfect touch, I added 1/2 cup melted chocolate chips to the mixture. So yummy!
The nose is a piece of pizzelle (was supposed to be vanilla wafer) with a brown M&M on it. The eyes are mini M&Ms attached with frosting onto white Smarties. The ears are warmed, reshaped mini Tootsie Rolls. The antlers are broken pretzels.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Sugar Cookies pt 2
Due to time constraints, I just bought a sprinkles pack from a big box store, but many of our local Amish/Mennonite run stores carry decorating and baking supplies for very low prices. (My container of green decorating sugar cost 68 cents).
I make a thinned out buttercream icing for the cookies and paint it on. Since it is so thin, you don't need much. It dries hard overnight. As you can see in the picture, it is runny and will run off onto your table (and dry hard overnight) so be sure to clean up before bed.
To make the icing, I used 2tbsp softened butter, 1 tsp vanilla extract, about a cup of confectionary sugar, and enough milk to make it thin enough to paint. Add this 1 tbsp at a time, but I'd estimate I used 3-4tbsp. Just mix in your mixer and add the milk slowly. If you add too much, counter with more powdered sugar.
Just paint the icing on with a spatula or brush, add sprinkles, and dry overnight.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Years ago, before we had kids, Hershey didn't charge admission to the park. They'd operate on a ride ticket system, so my husband and I would stop for some Hershey's hot cocoa and cookies and just walk around the park looking at all the lights without riding anything (for free).
If you go, one of the overlooked neat treats is the dancing lights on the bridges. Every so often music will start (such as a selection from Trans Siberian Orchestra) and thousands of dancing lights will accompany. Not quite the caliber of Osbourne's Festival of Lights at Disney World, but still very neat (and MUCH less crowded).
This year, we had the privilege of going on a warmer day and a school night so it was very empty. Definitely recommend! Merry Christmas!
Sugar Cookies pt 1
It is super yummy! Be prepared though for the time needed to cool! We mixed up the dough together one day and cut out the cookies the next, but you could just give it a couple hours to chill.
Friday, December 16, 2011
More Christmas Fun
Saturday, December 10, 2011
The fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth...Day of December
Yesterday we made Christmas Tree wall hangings with tissue paper. This is a really easy project for any age, and looks pretty awesome. To make, first you cut out Christmas trees out of green paper. Then, allow the children to paint glue onto the trees. Next, take tiny pieces of squished up red and green tissue paper and let the kids place it all over the tress. My oldest ran and got a star sticker for the top. That's it! Super simple and the kids loved it.
We also baked chocolate chip cookies together. After dinner we had hot cocoa and the cookies while we watched Santa Buddies.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Fun, easy lunch! Cookie Cutters!
For those who have been following along with the Special December posts, we'll be catching up tomorrow with an explanation on why!
Sunday, December 4, 2011
4th day of December
Saturday, December 3, 2011
On the 3rd day of December
Today we went and got a Christmas tree.
We get our tree from a local tree farm in the next county. The trees are cut that morning, and after you select one, it is put on a shaking machine to remove bugs, drilled and put on a tree stand at just the perfect angle. Then, it's netted and put in/on your vehicle. When we get home we just have to put it up in the living room, cut the net and add water.
Here's a bonus photo from the Ice Festival yesterday. Its amazing what they can carve with ice!
Friday, December 2, 2011
On the Second day of December
Thursday, December 1, 2011
25 Days of Christmas
Today we made this Countdown Calendar made out of mismatched socks. Each sock will display the project of the day. I plan to share each of them with you! Today's special project is "decking the halls" (decorating for Christmas)!
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Freezer Recipe: Rosemary Chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons Rosemary Leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, halved (Later)
Mix all the first 6 ingredients together in a freezer bag. Then add the chicken breasts cut to appropriate size. Squish the bag around to coat, then freeze.
When you are ready to cook: First, thaw overnight, then pour into a baking dish with the small red potatoes. Mix it all together , place in a thin layer on a baking dish and bake at 425 for 30-35 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
This recipe was adapted from McCormick's recipe found here.
I bought 30 pounds of chicken....and then sent my husband back for more!
Here's what I made:
stovetop chicken casserole
hot "wing" chicken
low fat cream cheese stuffed chicken
shredded cooked chicken for easy chicken noodle soup
stir fry lemon chicken
I ran out of chicken, but have the ingredients for coconut adobo chicken and tex mex chicken soup.
So, right now I have 26 meals in my freezer! Plus, we just made some super yummy turkey broth I can't wait to make soup out of, and 2 bags full of yummy banana muffins with chocolate chips and walnuts!
Monday, November 21, 2011
Christmas Gift Idea for Kids
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Freezer Meal Friday: Banana Chip Muffin Recipe
Well, I had meant to post this on Friday, but it didn't happen. At first I thought it was still Friday SOMEWHERE in the world, but no. Its not. (Its already Sunday in Australia). I've had an interesting week, including me buy 30 POUNDS of chicken breast, and then later sending my husband out for 12 more! I've never made so many freezer meals in such a short time, but when I'm all done, I should have some brand new recipes to post each Friday for the next few weeks. So far in the freezer we have Stovetop Chicken Casserole, Rosemary Chicken, Lemon Chicken, Italian Chicken, Hot "Wing" Chicken and Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken. I plan to make 2 more Stovetop meals to give away, chicken fingers, walnut chicken, coconut milk chicken adobo, and Tex Mex Chicken Soup. I think I'll need still more chicken!
This week we had some extra children for an evening, including a young teen. She mentioned something about banana muffins, so I said, "Hey, do you want to make some?" She thought it would be fun. I brought to the table 6 or 7 ripe bananas, 2 plates and 2 forks to mash. She looked really confused and said, "I thought you meant from a box!!!" I almost never bake from a box. So, we took to mashing and enjoyed a quick and easily freezable banana muffin recipe. It makes a quick and easy breakfast!
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
6 or 7 large ripe bananas (mashed) (I've used 5 and its been okay, too.)
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup of butter (one stick-softened)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 bag (about one cup) dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray. (We were able to use one 12-count regular tray and one tray of mini-muffins). Combine the flour, salt, and baking soda in one container. In another container cream butter and brown sugar together, then add the eggs and bananas. Next, pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir until moistened. (I just do this recipe by hand, not with a power mixer). Bake for about 30 minutes depending on the size of the muffin tin. Check with a toothpick in the center of the muffin. Eat some now, and cool and freeze the rest by placing them on cookie sheet to freeze and then transfer to freezer bags, OR just go straight to the bags (once cool). It works both ways.
This recipe was adapted from this one.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
How to Pick and Slice Your Own Pineapple
You can kind of see in the photo I had already taken the first step: cut off the pretty pineapple "hair." Next you cut off the bottom. I used a chef's knife for all the cutting. I also washed the pineapple before starting and after I had removed the skin.
After you remove the top and bottom, start on the sides, trying to stay as close to the skin as possible so you don't lose very much pinapple-y goodness. After this, I thought for a minute I was done and could easily chop it, but I was wrong. There's a cylindrical core of rough pineapple about an inch in diameter. Slice around that, and then chop up. It really is quite YUMMY! Definitely beats the canned stuff. I also think its cheaper this way!
Also, I asked the produce person how to pick a pineapple. If you want to eat it right away, you want one that is brown like mine. The ones that are greener look prettier, but they are not ready to eat. The riper the fruit is, the softer it will be.
So go ahead and try it!
Monday, November 14, 2011
Operation Christmas Child
Once you pack and print off your tag at http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/ , then you can drop the box off at a drop off site nearby.
It's a great opportunity to bless others at Christmas and to teach children how to serve others.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
50 cent polos!
We aren't members yet, but this center also participates in a reciprocal membership with dozens of science centers across the country! I love this, because when we travel we get to experience all of them for little or no additional cost!
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Quick Easy Lunch
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Fun Snack Idea
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Family Fun Night
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Sanity Saver: Clean Pumpkin Decorating
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Clutter and Art Saver
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
How to Make a Cookie Cake
Monday, October 17, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Easiest Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Ever!
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Art class idea
Monday, September 19, 2011
This is What Homeschooling Looks Like... Today (again)
Later we read about sea anemones and clownfish while sitting on the playground climber. They even went into spontaneous role play pretending they were baby loggerhead turtles hiding from their predator, the red fox (yesterday's science lesson). Today was a good day for homeschooling.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The County Fair
As you can see, there were all sorts of vegetables and eggs to look at. It was amazing to see the different sizes and colors. There were rows of baked and jarred food and a separate building for flowers and hay.
The cool thing was, not only could we learn by seeing, but we learned by doing. "A" made cookies solo for the first time and took first prize in the youth under 19 category (she's six). I only helped by reading the recipe and putting the pan of cookies she scooped in the oven. She also entered photography, art (honorable mention), an apron she sewed (grandma supervised- 2nd place), a napkin holder (4th place), marigolds (5th) and a flower arrangement (2nd). G also got an honorable mention for her art.
Paired with the food and entertainment, it was a relatively inexpensive fun family event! Check one out near you!
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
More carrots please!
What happened next surprised me even more. Taking a tip from my friend Michelle @ MichellesCharmWorld, I then cut up the rest of the bag and put them into individual baggies. Later that evening, the baby went into the fridge looking for some cheese as a snack, but instead grabbed a bag of carrot sticks, and ate almost all of them!
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Unintended Homeschool Benefits
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Tip for Drinking More Water
|Homemade chicken noodles soup...and water!|
First, I try to drink a nice tall glass of water first thing in the morning before having anything else. It usually goes down quite easily in just a few gulps.
Second, I put hot sauce on some things. Here you see my lunch: some yummy homemade chicken noodle soup with several drops of hot sauce and water to calm down the heat in my mouth! Yum!
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
What Homeschooling Looks Like... Today
|Girls enjoying homeschooling at the kitchen table|
I am loving the flexibility that comes with homeschooling. The day I took this photo we started out the day with a special breakfast at Dunkin Donuts. After schooling for a bit, the girls finished the day with a trip to an amusement park with their grandparents! You see the two year old is eagerly doing school right along with her big sister.
Right now both are practicing handwriting while singing the ABCs. Special requests for today: more about animals from the little one and more science experiments from the big one. I'm sure we can accommodate this. I'm also enjoying less rushed mornings and the wonderful morning chore routine the older one has mastered.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Adventures in Cumberland Falls and Corbin, Kentucky! Moonbow!
We arrived to Corbin about 6pm, quickly checked in to our hotel (a Hampton Inn...yummy free cookies) and then started the drive into the park. We weren't sure how accessable the falls were. The answer is: very accessable. We parked in a spacious parking lot, walked down the sidewalk past the visitor's center and gift shop, and then down the sidewalk to the moonbow viewing location. Once we got close to the falls, we were able to walk out on a flat (as in grade) but bumpy rock formation to get a better view. It had a cable fence to keep anyone from venturing too close to the water, but it was just cable. (As in, the toddler stayed in the back carrier the whole time).
|The falls during the day|
My husband set up the camera and tripod and waited. The rest of us visited the Visitor Center, which was quite educational. It had samples of many different native trees and a case with dozens of arrowheads and their approximate time period. Some were even BC! There were displays of native wildlife and descriptions of several endangered native species.
About 10:30 PM (the toddler was fast asleep in the back carrier) it was Moonbow time. The moon finally reached above the trees and was shining on the spray from the waterfall...and there was a moonbow. We stayed and snapped photos about 15 minutes. (By snapping, I mean super long exposure because it was night time). Also by this time there was quite a crowd. They were very happy to fill in our spot when we left.
|Moonbow photo taken in August 2011 at 10:30pm.|
Saturday morning we ate the yummy hotel breakfast and returned to the falls. My husband had considered white water rafting with the 6-year-old, but later decided she wasn't quite ready for that. Instead, we chose a Rainbow Mist boat ride. This was provided by Sheltowee Trace Outfitters who have a pavilion right inside the park. The raft ride takes you right up to the base of the falls...thus the mist. When we went, the price was $12 for people 13 and up, $10 for kids 6-12, and $7 for kids 5 and under (but over 25 pounds). We were very fortunate to be the only people on our raft. This could be because there was a thunderstorm an hour before our ride. Our tour guide was super...but I can't remember his name, just that it had 5 letters and was tattooed on his back.
After the raft ride we headed up to the horse stables on park property. Here, the 6 year old and I rode our very first horse ride! She was on a lead. I was not. The first 10 minutes or so of the guided ride was very relaxing. Then, my horse realized I didn't know what I was doing and became as ornery as a toddler. He kept stopping for snacks and twice tried to go off on his own trail instead of staying with the group. I tried my best to steer him. It was still fun, but I learned that horses have quite the personality. Cost was $18 a person.
That evening we went for a quick swim and enjoyed David's Steak House & Buffet. Everyone was SUPER friendly. The manager even stopped by our table to chat for several minutes. The food was good, too. I discovered I really like corn bread salad.
Sunday morning after church we visited KFC in Corbin. But it wasn't just any KFC...It was the site of Sanders' Cafe. This was where Colonel Sanders first sold his fried chicken before going on the road selling his special seasonings nationwide. There was a little museum inside too. Again, everyone here was SUPER nice. I remarked about how I'd never seen chicken livers and was curious to try them, but didn't want a whole meal. So, the employee was kind enough to throw in a couple for free so I could try. My reaction: the coating was good... but not a fan of the liver. Now I can add that to my list of odd foods I've tried (ox tail, fish eyes...etc).
We spent some more time by the pool this day and ordered pizza for dinner (Snappy Tomato Pizza). Then, we got ready to depart in the morning...Next stop, Gatlinburg, Tennessee!
Monday, August 22, 2011
Other activities we played in the car were to create a story and the ABC game. To create a story, one person starts and then go around the car adding a bit to the story until its over. Makes for a funny, silly story. The ABC game can be played one of two ways. Last year, we played by looking for a letter A, then a letter B, etc. This year, we looked for an object that started with an a, b, c, d, e...the only letter we "cheated" on was X, and used 'exit' for it.
I packed water, clementine oranges, cheese, and goldfish crackers for the car in case we got hungry in between stops. We also had "lovies" in reach for when the kids wanted to nap.
Stay tuned for what we did in Kentucky!
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Freezer Fast Recipe: Chicken Noodle Soup
We also like to add a little tobasco sauce...but AFTER we dish out the kids' portions.
In recipe form:
3 or 4 quarts of chicken broth
one bag egg noodles
one bag of soup vegetables (about 2 cups)
one pound of cooked, chopped chicken
1/4 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp garlic
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt (my chicken broth had ZERO salt in it)
1/2 tsp pepper
(I really just eyeball my spices...you should do the same and taste it)
Mix broth, chicken, vegetables and spices together. Once soup is boiling and all ingredients are warm, add the noodles and cook according to package instruction. Don't overcook the noodles! Enjoy!
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Use the library!
|Children enjoy reading Sandra Boynton at the library|
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Money Saver: Send Yourself Flowers!
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Get Creative With Food!
Monday, August 1, 2011
Money Saver: Local Farmers Market
Friday, July 29, 2011
Yummy Easy Shrimp Pesto
The pesto can be frozen for later use...because the recipe makes plenty!
2 cloves garlic
And knowing that my basil was grown locally in a hydroponics system makes it more exciting! (Dible Diversified Agriculture)