Monday, October 31, 2011

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

This is the recipe I came up with using the best parts of 2 recipes.  It is a staple for Thanksgiving and Christmas at my house.  Best part is it can be made up a week in advance and frozen.


5 lbs of red or yukon gold potatoes washed and cubed, peeled or unpeeled--your choice. Just remember the skin is very nutritious!
1 stick of butter
3 t. minced garlic
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar
3/4 milk
1 T. parsley or chives
Salt and pepper to taste
Instant potatoes if needed

In a large pot melt stick of butter slowly. Add garlic and then the potatoes. Stir around trying to get each cube coated in the butter. After about 5 minutes add hot water to cover the potatoes plus one inch and heat on high till boiling. When it boils, turn heat down to medium and let potatoes simmer -No lid. You want the water to boil down very low.  The potatoes will start to cook down and this is fine--lower heat. When potatoes have cooked down to very little liquid, drain and  mash with potato masher. Add cream cheese, sour cream, parsley, and add milk if/as needed. Salt and pepper to taste. Keep mashing.  The potatoes should be  just a little more runny than a normal batch of potatoes. If you think they are too runny, you can add instant mashed potatoes to stiffen them up some.  Pour into large casserole dish.  Add cheddar cheese to top of potatoes, then sprinkle paprika on top.  Cover and refrigerate or freeze until ready to cook. Thaw completely before baking. Bake covered in foil at 355 degrees for 65-75 minutes. You can remove foil the last 10-15 minutes.  15 hearty servings. You can use this recipe for freezer cooking!

The cheese and paprika make this so tasty.  Everyone wants the cheesey top part!
 I hope you try this for the holidays or just make a few pans up ahead for the freezer.


Free Lactaid Sample

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Chores

   Today we planned on cutting a bunch of firewood for the winter--we heat mainly with wood. We thought we would be able to cut 2-3 truckloads.   Since Tom is no longer able to use the chainsaw, my brother Ryan cuts and we haul.  Well, things didn't go exactly as planned!  My dd#1and her hubby bowed out of helping, then dd#2 decided to go out of town Saturday night.  To add insult to injury, ds#2 bent the blade on our riding mower so we were not able to use it or the trailer to haul the wood. That left me and my two sons to haul and carry.  Now remember, I sit at my full time job so I am out of shape!  My brother was an hour late, then tried to start his chainsaw--it kept quitting everytime the blade came near the wood.  He was so mad--then he cut his hand. Well after a ton of Bleeping words he calmed down and we decided to rent a chainsaw. We had to carry the logs Ryan cut about 50 feet to get them into the truck. It felt like we should have had a couple truckfuls, but the first area yielded only 1/2 a load. We moved to another area and had to carry the logs about 50 feet again. aching back.  Did I tell you I am out of shape?  I am getting far too old for this stuff!!
   We cut and moved only about a pickup truckload and a half.  Thats all.  We worked so hard for that small amount of wood---very hard. Unfortunately, we only have enough for about 2 months. Guess we will be buying some firewood soon!
  After we finished up with the wood, my sons installed our new dishwasher.  The old one was only 2 1/2 years old but the computer panel went out--MAJOR Emergency in my house! So this evening as I sit here, I realize today, although very tough, was quite a productive day.  I am proud of my sons for all of their hard work and very thankful to my brother Ryan for all of his help.
  Of course I had several loads of laundry to do, fold, and put up. Have to get my work clothes ready. Then, I had to make supper.  No rest for the weary! ;)
  How was your weekend?

This is my 100th post!

     Can you believe it?  This is my 100th post!  I never really thought I would be blogging long enough for 100 posts, but I love it.  Love the friendships I am developing, love the outlet for my feelings, and love the positive encouragement from my fellow bloggers!
    In honor of my 100th post, I will be giving away a gift pack of my Soaps, Bath Teas, and Shower Spa bags to one of my followers.  Just leave a comment and let me know which post you have enjoyed the most or what you would like to see more of.  Also leave an email address so I can contact you.  New followers are very much welcome! If you post (facebook,Blog)about this giveaway, leave a comment to get another chance to win. Will be drawing the winning name on Monday November 7th. Good luck to you all and thanks for following!

Thank you Monica!

I entered Monica's Giveaway at The Homespun Heart for a cookbook and I won!  Couldn't believe it!
So I sent Monica my info and happily waited for my prize.  Well, I must say I was very happy with the cookbook , but I was so impressed with the paper the book was wrapped in.  I shouldn't have been suprised--Monica is known for her special little beatiful touches. I on the other hand, would never have thought of doing this. She had shipped it in a beautiful black and white toile paper. I just love toile. She is so clever and artistic. Again, thank you so much Monica!
If you get a chance, please go and check out her blog--The Homespun Heart--and you will agree, Monica is a beautiful person inside and out!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jordyn is Home!

My Grandbaby is home!  She still isn't back to normal, but is much, much improved.  I would like to thank everyone who kept her in their prayers--You all are a great bunch of ladies!  I am blessed  to have such great blogging friends!
I hope everyone has a great day,

Monday, October 24, 2011

Making the Holiday Season Less Stressful-part 1

Every year I set goals and make lists to get things accomplished early and make the holiday season  less stressful. I make out my Thanksgiving menu and grocery list in early November.  I plan on using make ahead recipes  as much as I can.  Make ahead mashed potatos are a staple.  They can be made a week ahead of dinner and frozen.  Just thaw and bake. I can make my pumpkin bread ahead and freeze as well.   Usually, I make my pumpkin and pecan pies 2 days early and refrigerate.  My broccoli and cheese casserole is made the night before dinner and refrigerated until time to bake.  Make up any salads the evening before.
    I bake my turkey in a baking bag overnight, carve it and put the turkey in chicken broth and keep warm in a dish in the oven. This will prevent a very dry bird! We have never had the formal turkey carving at our table-we're not that fancy! This makes dinner prep go quicker and no worries about getting the bird done at the same time as everything else.
   I serve the canned cranberry sauce( I know....homemade would taste so much better but my children LOVE it) so I put it on the serving plates and wrap in plastic wrap the night before so I only have to pull it out at the last minute. My butter is put on saucers( I do not have butter dishes) and wrapped the night before dinner also--pull out a few hours before dinner to soften it up.  Just preparing little things the night before and keeping it refrigerated until dinner is a major help.
    You can also set the table the evening before to save time the day of dinner. I go as far as planning the serving bowls/dishes I will be placing the food in.  They are on the counter waiting to be filled.  My bread basket is waiting on the table with a pretty napking lining it.
  If you are having company for dinner let them bring a dish if they ask! Go on and accept the offer-you do not have to be superwoman!  If you have children young or old, have them pitch in. I chuckle when I think of the year my DD#1 was helping me get our 26 lb. bird in the baking bag!  She dropped it in and it went straight throught the bag and bounced across the kitchen floor. To this day, this is one of our favorite family memories. Of course, the bird had a bath befor going back in the bag!!  Show littles how to set one place setting and let them finish the table the night before.  Have tweens scrub the potatoes for mashed or sweet potatoes. Teens can help make pie fillings or let them choose a dish to make all by themselves. Let Hubby pick up the item(s) you are sure to forget.  Having the entire family pitch in, makes everyone feel useful and needed.

 Remember, the more you do ahead, and the more you accept help, the more you will be able to relax and enjoy Thanksgiving with your family. Plan ahead and make some happy memories!
I hope your Thanksgiving is a relaxing and memorable one!

Quote of the Day

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
                                                                               -Dalai Lama


Sorry for the lack of posts!

I hate that it has been days and days since I have posted but I have had my hands full. My Grandbaby has been in Children's Hospital since last
Thursday night.  They thought it was some viral thing, but couldn't figure out just what it was.  She developed ear infections so they started antibiotics and only then did she start to show improvement.  The Dr. called in the infectious disease Dept. and they think it is walking pneumonia. They did add another antibiotic and that seems to have helped greatly.  She is starting to drink and eat a bit but she  refused to eat or drink for 4 days. She was 39+ pounds Tuesday at the Dr. office and had lost 3 pounds by Thursday.  We have been so worried. I have also been so proud of  my daughter Jessica--she hasn't left Jordy's bedside. She's a great Mommy!
  Hopefully, I'll be back in the groove soon!
How was your weekend?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Quote of the Day

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.
                                                                 -Mother Teresa

And remember a smile costs you nothing!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Crock Pot Bean Soup

This is one of my favorites!  So yummy and so easy!


One lb. white northern or navy beans
4 cups beef or chicken stock
1 cup carrots sliced thickly
1 cup celery sliced thickly
1 cup diced onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 hambone and 1 cup cubed ham pieces
salt and pepper to taste

Pick over and rinse beans.  Place in 6 qt. crock pot and add water 2 inches above beans.  Let soak overnight. Drain water and add broth, carrots, celery, onion, and hambone.  Add water to cover about 1inch.  Cook on high for 5 hours. Remove ham bone and tear off any meat --put back in crock pot along with cubed ham. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook on low for 3 hours more. If you want your soup thicker take out 1 cup of beans and mash up then add to pot and stir.
Garnish with cheese and/or sour cream.

If you are not home to  remove ham bone- just add large chunks of ham at the beginning and remove ham bone before serving. Cooking time would be 6 hours on high.

Hope you enjoy this easy, filling soup!

Gratitude Tuesday

My Photo

As some of you may know, my DH has health issues. Most days lately, he has very bad days--many seizures and headaches. He has to be watched all of the time. Sometimes I have to walk him to bed and help put his pjs on.   I have to help him to the bathroom.  He sleeps 16-18 hours on most days.  Well, every now and again he will have a few hours that are seizure free and headache free.  Last night was one of these good periods of time.  We went to dinner--Applebees happy hour-half price appies! I got a glimpse of how he used to be. I got to feel like I was a part of a team again not a caregiver with a dependent. I had a taste of our old life again and I want that back. Oh, how I want my old life back-My Husband back. I want it but I am so grateful to have had a couple of hours of the old Tom. My Tom.  Just a glimpse, but is was wonderful!


Monday, October 17, 2011

I sold Soap this weekend!

Almond Scented Soap

It is official--I am in the soap business!!  My cousin and I attended a local flea market Saturday. I took my soaps, bath teas, shower spa bags, and Herbed beer bread mix and made up 8 loaves of my beer bread.  My beer bread was gone the first 45 minutes and I sold several bars of my soap.  I was able to hand out business cards and talk it up pretty much.  I was a little down because I didn't sell more, but at least I sold some!  So,  Christina and I will be going back next month and I will make 3 times the beer bread, and take more soap.  Hopefully I'll sell more of both!
 Anyone else trying to start up a new business?  I'd love to hear from you!


Friday, October 14, 2011

Quote of the Week

Don't go through life, grow through life.                                               
                 By Eric Butterworth

Love this.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Make your own Pumpkin Pie Spice

If you are like me, you hate to buy the spice blends--especially since you probably have most of the spices on hand anyway.  Pumpkin Pie spice is one of the most popular spice blends and is soooo easy to make your own!

Here is my recipe for it:

  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • Just put all in a bowl and mix. Put in a small lidded jar to store!
    Voila...its done!  Don't forget to label it!

    Have a great day!

    White Chicken Chili

    One of my families favorite soup is White Chicken Chili.  I first had this at a restaurant and loved it.  Tried to find a recipe for it and finally found one on the Bushes Northern Bean can.  It is so simple to make a quick meal.  I must confess, I do not buy canned beans anymore so I use dried northern beans--cook them in the crockpot and add to my soup pot.  You can cheat and use canned chicken to make it even easier and quicker.  Of course you can also sub your homemade chicken broth as well. This recipe doubles well! With my crew, I know this for a fact!

    Bushes White Chicken Chili

    1 tbsp extra light olive oil
    1 medium onion, finely chopped
    1 (4-oz) can chopped green chiles, drained
    3 tbsp all-purpose flour
    2 tsp ground cumin
    2 (14.5-oz) cans Bush's Great Northern Beans
    1 (14.5-oz) can reduced sodium chicken broth
    1 1/2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken breast

    In large skillet, cook onion in oil for 4 minutes or until transparent. Add chiles, flour and cumin; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add beans and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened. Add chicken; cook until hot.
    Garnish with cheese, sour cream and salsa, if desired
    This recipe serves 6.
    Hope you enjoy this quick easy meal!
    What is your favorite soup or stew?

    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    Soap is now available!

    Rosemary Mint


    Hello all!  Finally I have enough soap made that I can list it for sale! I have Rosemary Mint, and Almond available. I also have several bars of a practice batch of Lavender available.  The Rosemary Mint and Almond bars are larger than the Lavender hence the price difference. Rosemary Mint and Almond bars are $3.75 per bar and the Lavender bars are $2.50 per bar.  Here is the link to my etsy site:

    Hope you enjoy browsing through my wee Etsy shop--Thank you!

    It's been a trying week

        I am so glad last week is over!  Tom has been having so many seizures that his Dr. had him admitted to University Hospital for EMU Testing. Epileptic Monitoring Unit.  He had a Continuous EEG for the 2 day stay.  They were hoping to see the new seizures he has been having but he didn't have any while admitted, he had 2 the night after we came home--it figures. They did notice that his O2 Sat went down to 70 and stayed there a while at night.  They think this is what is causing the headaches all day.  So I hope we are able to get him into the Sleep center for a sleep study this week. Maybe C-PAP will solve some of his problems. I just hated using up 18 hours of my PTO. Oh well, it will be so worth it if he gets better!

      I have been busy this morning making muffins and brownies for the family to snack on or have for breakfast.  Cheaper than eating out for them and me.  My #2 DD is hoping to try out for Phantom Regiment Drum Corp. next month so she is trying to save money.  DS#1 is short on cash now too with school and his car payment. DS#2 is trying to save money for a trip to Panama next summer so everyone is watching their pennies right now. I'm trying to help them with snacks and B-fast muffins.
    I can't help them monitarily, but I can certainly bake items for them to take for b-fast and snacks. 

      Well, I need to get laundry started!

    Have a great day!

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    Beer Bread Recipe

    Over the weekend I made my Herbed Beer Bread and a pot of chili to go with it. The beer bread was so delicious--I made 2 batches and they only lasted about an hour with my crew! The basic beer bread recipe couldn't be any easier and it adapts well to additions to spice it up. 

    Basic Beer Bread

    3 cups self rising flour
    1/4 cup sugar
    12 oz. of beer
    1 Stick butter
    Kosher salt

    Mix all except butter and salt in a lg mixing bowl and pour into a well greased loaf pan. You can add a Tbl. of minced real garlic or herbs of your choice. You can also add shredded cheddar cheese--one cup to the dough and 1/2 cup to sprinkle on with the salt.  It is tremendously tasty with the garlic and cheese. Melt butter and pour over bread dough. Sprinkle salt to taste on top(and cheese if wanted).
    Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

    For a very inexpensive, easy gift you can put the dry ingredients in a qt. sized baggie and place it in a lunch bag. (You could use a qt. jar for this but I cannot stand to give them away!) Fold top over neatly and staple or hole punch and tie with hemp srting or ribbon.  Add a tag with directions on how to make the bread and you have a great little hostess gift or Christmas gift! Easy peasy!!

    Hope you enjoy this wonderfully easy bread!

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Goal Progress

      Well, some goals are coming right along but others are lagging so far behind!

          My Christmas shopping is almost completed.  I have my DH , My DD#2, my Grandaughter, my MIL, my 2 nieces, my SILand BIL, my brother and SIL all done. I still have my 2 sons to buy for, my DD#1 and her hubby, and my mom.  I am getting closer to meeting this goal!! I thinK I will be able to meet it!

      My cherry bomb/cordials are done-Yeah!

      My pot-pourri is done--just need to bag it!

         I just have a few things for Holiday food stuffs to buy.  I'll be using coupons from this weeks paper to finish off my list. Still needed: Town House Crackers, chocolate chips, pecans, frozen broccoli, and cream cheese.

        I still need to get my jelly made--need Mtn. Dew for my Dewdrop jelly.  I have my canned apple juice and canned grape juice waiting.  If I can find Strawberries fairly cheap, I want to make some Strawberry jam for us.  I did purchase the lids, rings, and pectins needed though.  Just need to find the time!

      Weight loss goal is hopeless, hopeless I tell you.  Unfortunately, I take comfort in food when I am stressed/depressed--Which is my life these days. So this goal will probably not be met at this time.  I'm trying to walk more and my son is getting a nice treadmill--maybe I can use this and walk off some stress! I can hope!

      I'm thinking I need to set a few more goals for myself--need to get so much done.  In November, we are going out of town 2 weekends and Tom may be spending a week in the hospital for testing.  Busy month already!

         Next goal--Get Chrismas cards done by October 31st.  Addressed and stamped-ready to mail. I make my Christmas Cards with Stampin Up supplies.   Love to cut, stamp and embellish!

      Last year in an effort to be green, I made cloth gift bags to put most of my family's gifts in.  I chose solids and Christmas print fabrics and just sewed up  simple bags in many shapes and sizes. They all looked like various sized Santa sacks sitting around our tree with ribbons and handmade tags on them. So very cute.  I need to make more.  I just hate buying and throwing away all of the wrapping paper that was so expensive and not to mention--wasteful. I think I will need to make 10 more "green" gift bags by November 15th.  I refuse to buy anymore Christmas wrapping paper.  We reuse any and all gift bags we are given.  They get folded up and saved. One bag was reused between my SIL and myself until it ripped!  A long time--several years of use!
     So have you set any goals for yourself and if so how is your progress?