20 December 2012

Snow Day! Not.





Yesterday, my kids all came home from school thrilled to death. Their teachers had told them that today would most likely be a snow day. There was a severe weather forecast complete with blizzard warnings. I knew about it... my iPhone had told me. It told me again at 3:30 am with a surprisingly loud and abrasive alert message - an example of the the ugly side of the iPhone.  When I looked outside at 3:30 am, however, there. was. no. snow.

At 6:30 am, there was snow. But not enough for a snow day. Oh the sorrow. Oh the dragging feet!

So here's our favorite "Snow Day" song - Snow Day by Bleu (the only thing I could find to share it with you was some random family's You Tube video)  here for you in hopes that we will get a snow day soon. Listen, and do your favorite snow dance.

19 December 2012

Tuesday Link Party - What's on your list?

 


We have an Eagle Scout! I am so happy and proud. He passed his Board of Review on Sunday. What a great day. The men who conducted his Board said he was one of the most prepared Eagle candidates they had ever met with. The letters of recommendation he received were amazing. I got all choked up reading them. Teachers and friends said such nice things about my son. Hooray!! (That's me jumping up and down).

We are creeping closer to Christmas and I am just finishing up a little Christmas shopping and some last minute projects. 

Today, I am literally buried in nightgowns. I am filling some last minute orders at Lavender Avenue. I also need to get some Christmas gifts off in the mail. Why am I so far behind? We will just blame it all on the Eagle Project, and that's just fine.

What have you been up to? Are you all ready for Christmas? Link up below:



18 December 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Photo: Home made marshmallows-not the easiest, but totally worth it.   

Sorry about the suspense - waiting for my personal results regarding home made marshmallows. :)
Home made marshmallows are really good. I am excited to try other flavors. I used the recipe over at Smitten Kitchen, and it wasn't too hard, just like making candy. Give it a try - it'll be worth it!

This week is clean out the fridge and freezer week. Sort of food storage rotation. 

MONDAY

Fish Tacos
oranges

TUESDAY

Hamburger stew
bread

WEDNESDAY

French Bread
Salad

THURSDAY

Sweet potatoes

FRIDAY

baby carrots and ranch

SATURDAY

Breakfast
SUNDAY


Linking up to Organizing Junkie and Erin Branscom!

14 December 2012

Marshmallows

Have you ever made marshmallows from scratch? I hadn't. But I kept seeing them everywhere.

Here,


Here, 

Handmade Caramel  Marshmallows, 1 dozen

and Here,

bouncy marshmallows

So I decided that it was time to give it a try. Why not, right? 

I used the recipe at Smitten Kitchen, and I think things went well, but you will have to wait with me to find out for sure...

13 December 2012

Early Christmas - iphone!!!


My husband gave me my Christmas present early this year. It may be the best present ever. Well, almost. I did once get a baby for Christmas.

Indulge me for a moment, while I wish a very Happy 14th Birthday to my BEST Christmas present ever (who wants you to know that he objects to being objectified).

3 years old

14 years old
It's true what they say. Time just flies. It's breathtaking. 


OK. Back to the iphone. The second best Christmas present ever. What are your favorite apps? How has it changed your life? Do you use the calendar or another app to keep organized? Anyone used myfitnesspal? Tips and hints please!

12 December 2012

Tuesday Link Party - What's on Your List?

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Trail to Eagle - This baby is nearly put to bed. We have our paperwork in and signed. All we need now is the Board of Review. For those of you yet to travel this trail, the project is cake. The paperwork will drive you mad.



We have decorated for Christmas and it is looking pretty festive around here. Now we just need to get those Christmas cards in the mail and ship the gifts for family - once we finish them...

I did finish one thing recently. My son asked me to make him a cowl or infinity scarf. Check! 


I loved the pattern. It's easy and works up really fast. It is called the Uki Cowl and it is by Susan Pierce Lawrence. I got it at Blazing Needles.  I think maybe I will make another one. After I finish the mittens for my nephew and my six year old. Which are coming along. These are my nephew's. My little guy wants all the white bits to be red on his mittens.



What have you been up to? Link up below!


11 December 2012

Menu Plan Monday

What is it about the last week to ship in time for Christmas that inspires people to buy?

I really need easy this week.


MONDAY

Fish Tacos

TUESDAY

Asian veggies

WEDNESDAY

Burritos
Fruit

THURSDAY


FRIDAY

Take-out

SATURDAY

Leftovers

SUNDAY

TBD - something in the crock pot, probably. Or maybe crepes.


Linking up to Organizing Junkie and Erin Branscom!

07 December 2012

Homemade Caramels


Please enjoy this re-post of my caramel recipe. My computer is still getting fixed, and all my photos are on it, of course. These might be my most favorite holiday treat ever. For sure, they remind me of home and my Mom.

 
An old holiday tradition, passed down from my Mother's mother, is the making of Christmas candy. Today, I am making caramels - YUM!


Caramels
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white Karo
1/2 lb. butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Nuts (optional)

Butter a jelly roll pan. Combine all ingredients except nuts in a large heavy pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil about 30 minutes or until 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.


Note: I am going to show you photos using the cold water candy test because my candy thermometer broke, but I really recommend a candy thermometer. If you don't have the candy thermometer, use the cold water candy test. It is fine to cook your caramels to the firm ball stage as well, if you like them a bit more firm.


If you are using nuts, chop them and spread them over the buttered jelly roll pan. Pour caramel onto the jelly roll pan and make sure it is distributed evenly. Let cool. Cut into bite sized pieces and wrap in waxed paper. Share!

05 December 2012

Tuesday Link Party - What's on Your List?

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Saturday, my son completed his Eagle Project. It was a great day. The weather was perfect, and everything went smoothly. It was such a pleasure to work with Urban Peak. They are an amazing organization, helping homeless teens with a safe place to stay while they complete their high school education and find work. 





My son and his dad built a cook/prep table and with the help of some boys from the scout troop, they secured it to the concrete patio along with a grill that had been donated by another group. They are sort of blocking the table, so it's hard to see. They also delivered food and clothing donations. Now, we have to write up the project and get a board of review, and we're done. Hurray!

What have you been up to? Link up below!


04 December 2012

Menu Plan Monday


Happy Monday morning everyone!

We had quite a weekend. Our nearly 14 year old son did his Eagle Project on Saturday, and it was very successful. More about that tomorrow.

Our family computer was attacked by the FBI Malware virus and is on its way to the computer hospital. This is, of course incredibly inconvenient. Aside from the fact that all the family photos, etc. are stored there, there is the matter of the Eagle Project. Most of the documentation and photos and write-ups are there too. Oh how I am hoping for a little Festivus miracle here. My son really, deeply does not want to re-write all that stuff...

I got an iphone!!! Best thing - after the Eagle Project - ever.

MONDAY

Turkey Crescent Rolls

TUESDAY

Cranberry Pork Chops

WEDNESDAY

Sweet Chili Meatballs

THURSDAY

Left overs

FRIDAY

Pizza

SATURDAY

Panini

SUNDAY

Hearty Beef Stew
If you haven't gone to this link and tried the Freezer/Crock Pot meals, do it! So easy, so worth the (very short) amount of time.

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

30 November 2012

Jiffy Muffins - Quick and Easy


I haven't used a box of Jiffy Muffins, probably since college. In college, they were kind of a staple. We could get 4 boxes for a dollar, and they really helped fill out a meal of canned soup. 

The other day, I came across a recipe for augmenting the chocolate muffin mix, so I thought why not buy a couple of boxes and give it a try?

I like cooking hot breakfast for my kids in the morning, but some mornings it seems like time is short. Rather than fall back on cold cereal, I tried the muffins. It's a quick and simple breakfast, just add fruit and scrambled eggs. 

Jiffy Jam Muffins

2 boxes Jiffy chocolate muffin mix
your favorite jam - we used strawberry

Mix muffins according to package directions. Line muffin tin with paper liners. *Drop in 2 Tbsp. of batter, top with a tsp. of jam, cover with another 2 Tbsp. of batter. Bake according to package directions.

*I used the Pampered Chef medium scoop, not quite full. It's perfect - about half the amount of the large muffin scoop.


Quick, easy and delicious. An irresistible combination.

What do you make for breakfast?

28 November 2012

Tuesday Link Party - Trail to Eagle



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As I mentioned in this post a little over a month ago, we had to find a new Eagle Project. It has been a bit of a road to get here, but we are almost there. My son found an organization that was thrilled to work with him. They are Urban Peak, Colorado Springs, a youth homeless shelter. He is doing a combination food drive and construction project for them.  
We have conducted a food drive and I am guessing we have about 500 pounds of food, grocery store gift cards, and an additional 6 garbage bags full of clothing in good condition. Our friends and neighbors were incredibly generous.

The construction part will happen this Saturday. He and his troop will be installing a cook/prep station and cabinet along with an outdoor grill on the outdoor patio next to the shelter. They will also deliver the food and clothing at the same time. After that - all that's left is the write-up. 

On my To-do list? 
1. Eagle project
2. Christmas stuff
3. clean my oven (sob)

What's on your list? Link up below:


27 November 2012

Giveaway Winners! and Menu Plan Monday


Before we talk about food, I want to announce the winners of the nightgown giveaway. Thanks everyone who entered! The competition was pretty hot for a couple of sizes. Here are the winners:

Ashley - "Poinsetta would probably fit Cicilee best. 
(Plus she is getting an American Girl doll for Christmas and would LOVE to match.)"
 
Erin C. - "I love the toile the best, but I think Saige would love the stars." 
Sometimes, Mom wins...:) 

Michelle - "Gold stars on cream would fit Elizabeth best, 
but I could also save red polka dot for Annie..."
 
 Shalee - "What a fun give away! I love all your nightgowns and between my two girls 
one of them could wear any of your holiday gowns" 
 
Jami - "Those are the cutest night gowns ever! #5 would fit Navi, 
I really like the Christmas ones, I am a sucker for anything holiday and festive but they are all darling."
 
Grand Prize Winner: Shalee!

Congratulations everyone - and thanks for playing! I will be in touch.

Now, about the menu...

MONDAY

Butternut Squash Soup
biscuits

TUESDAY

Crock pot French Dips

WEDNESDAY

Turkey and dumpling soup
Bread

THURSDAY

 Breakfast for Dinner

FRIDAY

Pizza Night

SATURDAY

Panini
Leftover soup

SUNDAY

Pork Chops
Green Beans with prosciutto
Sweet Potatoes

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday!
 

24 November 2012

SALE!

 

 
Lavender Avenue is having a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale! Drop by my shop and check out the deals! While you're there, please note that Etsy sales are eligible for Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday was started by American Express to encourage people to give some of their holiday money to small businesses. As Etsy shops we ALL count. This means that anyone shopping in an Etsy shop can use their AmEx card and will get a $25 credit. See the details here.

For a list of other participating shops, please click here

Also, don't forget the Giveaway! There are lots of chances to win. 


22 November 2012

Giveaway from Lavender Avenue

Holiday Flannel Nightgown  sizes 2-8

Have you been over to my shop and looked at all the new nightgowns? Well, today might be a good day to stop by.

I am giving away 5 nightgowns out of my inventory of holiday fabrics. These 5 are specific sizes, so pay attention! Numbers 1, 4 and 5 come with the matching 18" doll gown. I am also giving away a grand prize of one white flannel nightgown (size 2-8) with matching 18" doll nightgown. 

Poinsetta fabric, size 4, 18" doll gown
  Toile fabric, size 4

Gold stars on cream, size 5

 Gold snowflakes on cream, 18" doll gown, still under construction :)

Polka dots! Size 2 gown and 18" doll gown

Grand Prize: 1 long sleeve flannel nightgown (sizes 2-8) and matching 18" doll gown

Leave me just 1 comment telling me:

1. Which of the 5 holiday nightgowns you would like to win
2. You stopped by Lavender Avenue on Etsy and which nightgown is your favorite
3. You followed this blog

Be sure to include your e-mail so I can contact you if you win.

This giveaway will be open from Wednesday, November 21, through Sunday, November 25 at midnight. I will choose a winner for each nightgown by drawing, then all the names will go into the grand prize drawing for the white nightgown. Winner will be announced on Monday, November 26.

21 November 2012

Tuesday Link Party - What's on Your To-Do List?

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Last week, I finished something I've been working on for awhile. I am so excited to show you! 

Before I do show-and-tell though, I want to let you know about something really fun coming up tomorrow.  Starting tomorrow, I am hosting a giveaway of a whole bunch (6!) of holiday nightgowns from my Etsy shop, Lavender Avenue. There is a size 2, a size 3, two size 4's and a size 5. Some of them even come with a matching 18" doll nightgown. There will be a grand prize of one of my white flannel nightgowns in any size (2-8) with matching 18" doll gown! Make sure to stop by tomorrow to enter the giveaway, and tell your friends!




I loved knitting up this simple little dress. The pattern is the Textured Dress from Knit Simple spring/summer 2012. I love the simple stitches that add so much texture and interest.The only part that wasn't my favorite was what felt like a mile of skirt in stockinette. I like my daughter's dresses a bit longer, especially if I just spent 80 hours knitting one - I want it to last a while. Fortunately, I had some forced "down time" last week and just whipped the last 8 inches of skirt right out. If you want to stop by Ravelry, you can see my project here.


What have you been working on? If you're doing holiday projects, especially, I'd LOVE to see!



20 November 2012

Menu Plan Monday - Thanksgiving

 

I love the days leading up to Thanksgiving. I love the prep work and the festive atmosphere (except the grocery shopping...) and I love planning our Thanksgiving menu. It's going to be pretty simple this year, it's just us, but we're having friends over for pie, so I will make the full complement of our favorite pies. Our evening meals are planned for the purpose of using up stuff in the fridge and not leaving leftovers, so there's lots of room for the Thanksgiving food.

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday!

MONDAY

*Menu finalizing and grocery shopping
Panini and fruit
TUESDAY

*Make bread cubes for stuffing
*make pie crusts and refrigerate 

Chicken and broccoli Alfredo

WEDNESDAY

*Make Pies: pumpkin, pecan, apple, lemon meringue, cherry(?)
*Saute onion and celery with seasonings and mix in with bread cubes
*Make persimmon jello

Pancakes and sausages, fruit

THURSDAY

Turkey
Stuffing (have you seen this idea?)
Mashed potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Green beans
Green salad
Cranberry sauce
Persimmon jello
Pie

FRIDAY

Open face turkey sandwiches

SATURDAY

Shepherd Pie
SUNDAY

Turkey and dumpling stew

*****************************************************************************************************************

My Stuffing Recipe
 
Disclaimer: I do not use a recipe to make stuffing. I just make it the way my mom and Grandma always have. This is my closest approximation to our family recipe.

8 - 10 cups day-old bread, cut in 1 inch cubes
1 large onion, diced
5 celery stalks, diced (dice in larger chunks if you like the crunch to stay)
1 cup sliced mushrooms, sauteed until edges are golden and crisp (optional)
2-4 Tbsp. butter
2-4 Tbsp. olive oil
poultry seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg
4 cups chicken broth

*Additional ingredients, such as chestnuts or pecans can be added if desired.
**  If we want cornbread stuffing, we make cornbread on Tuesday, cut it in pieces and let it sit out for two days. We then mix it into the bread cubes at the end, just before adding the chicken broth.
Place bread cubes on a jelly roll pan, spray lightly with cooking spray and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, turning once, until toasted and lightly browned. Set aside in large bowl and cool.

Heat large saute pan. When hot, add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter. Saute mushrooms in oil/butter mixture. Do not crowd the pan. When mushrooms are done, spoon them onto a paper towel to cool. Return pan to heat. Add 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil and 2-3 Tbsp. butter to pan. Add diced onion and celery and cook until soft and translucent. Add poultry seasoning to taste (I use about 2 tsp.), salt and pepper and cook a little longer. Set aside to cool. 

Mix cooled mushrooms and onion/celery mixture into bread crumbs. Set aside and let sit. I sometimes do up to this step the day before Thanksgiving and let all the flavors blend together.

Just before baking, beat egg into 1 cup chicken broth and and blend into bread crumb mixture. Grease a 9x13 casserole dish and put stuffing in it. Pour remaining chicken broth over all until wet, but not swimming. Bake in 350 degree oven about 20 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and stuffing is moist and heated through.

16 November 2012

Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

Indian Corn: no description 

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love the story of the Pilgrims and how they had to learn to adapt to life in a new place. How they had to learn to accept help from unexpected sources. I love the opportunity to talk about gratitude with my family and to reflect on the things we are grateful for. More and more the last few years, I feel like we sort of skip from Halloween to Christmas. I feel a little sad that Thanksgiving seems more attached to a huge Christmas shopping event and that little recognition is given to a day that is so reflective of our nation's history.

I also love the food. I am grateful for the food. I love planning and preparing a Thanksgiving meal to share with family and friends. I love sitting together around the table and sharing what we are grateful for. I love how the leftovers feed us for days afterward. For Thanksgiving this year, we are planning a very traditional feast.

Turkey
Mashed potatoes and gravy
sweet potatoes
stuffing
cranberry relish - and I think I am going to try this recipe from Crystelle this year
green beans 
homemade rolls
pie (pumpkin, pecan, apple, cherry, lemon meringue)

It's really all about the pie... and pecan is my favorite.

Pecan Pie - originally posted November 2011

First things first - I personally believe that this pie is all about the crust. If the crust isn't great, the pecan pie won't be - and that would be tragic. 

I use the basic pie pastry recipe that came with my Cuisinart. It never fails and it is flaky and buttery and absolutely wonderful.


Basic Pie Pastry (in a Cuisinart)

Makes 3 9-inch pie shells (or 2 pie shells and some pie crust cookies)

2 ⅔ cups flour
2 sticks very cold unsalted butter cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp. salt
½ cup ice water

Use metal blade to process flour, butter and salt until mixture is like coarse meal, about 8 seconds. Add ice water and pulse until dough begins to clump together. Do not let it form a ball. Divide dough into 3 equal parts and put each in a plastic food storage bag. Work through each bag to press dough together into a ball, then flatten into a disc. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour.
Roll each disc of dough on a lightly floured surface into a circle about ⅛ inch thick. Press into place in pie pan. Trim dough, leaving 1 inch overlap beyond edge of pan. Fill pie crust and continue as instructed for recipe.
For a pre-baked crust, bake 12 minutes at 400°.

Our favorite pecan pie is one made with no corn syrup. I love the crunch on the surface of the pie from the real sugar. 
This is the pie right out of the oven. As it cools, it settles a bit and you can see the pecans.


Pecan Pie
 
1 cup light brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup butter
2 eggs
1 T flour
1 T milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400°.
In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy and stir in melted butter. Stir in brown sugar, white sugar and flour; mix well. Last, add the milk, vanilla and nuts.

Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes at 400°, then reduce temperature to 350° and bake for 30-40 minutes or until done.




 

15 November 2012

The Apron of Many Pockets


Every so often, my sister needs something that requires sewing. Don't get me wrong. She can sew, but it's a secret. Also, she doesn't have a sewing machine.

A few months ago, she phoned and said, "I need an apron with lots of pockets. Lots and lots of pockets." 

I happened to have just the right amount of striped ticking in my stash, and plenty of coordinating scraps. I also have a great go-to apron pattern. I am sure I could make this one up, but the pattern is just so easy, and why reinvent something if it works?


The only real change I have made over the years to this pattern is to sew the neck strap to the bib of the apron. I think it's really annoying when the strap comes out of the apron. If the neck needs adjusting smaller, I just tie a knot in the back. Otherwise, it works fine to be able to adjust the sides.

For my sister's version, I cut out one large pocket and 9 smaller pockets and pinned them evenly and stitched them on. That's it.  It was super quick and easy, and she likes it!

I am thinking seriously about aprons as Christmas gifts this year. Nice sturdy ones. Maybe I'll use D-rings on the neck so that it can be adjusted.

What are you making for Christmas gifts this year?