Monday, August 31, 2009

Funnel Cakes

I mentioned a while back that we were having funnel cakes for dinner.

Okay, maybe a little bit of an exaggeration, but not much.

Simply put, we had purchased a funnel cake kit as an impulse buy at Bed, Bath & Beyond last winter, found it stuck in the cabinet in July, and nearly immediately made the funnel cake with the mix that was included. It worked like the proverbial charm and we were hooked.

So now we just needed to find refill mix. I went back to the scene of the crime, Bed, Bath & Beyond. Unfortunately, it was seasonal or something like that, so they didn't have any kits or mix refills.

So as I'm checking out I get the regular question, "Did you find everything okay?" to which I'm sure they expected me to say, "Yes, thank you." I said, "No, I couldn't find any funnel cake refill mix." This got people searching through the store.

In the course of the wait and conversation with the check-out girl, the lady checking out in the next aisle heard me. She said that they always made their own from a recipe her brother had for the past 20 years. So I gave her my email and she sent it to me. How great was that!

I've used it several times, and it is better than the one I found in the meantime online. I still use my little pitcher from the kit, but you could put the mix in a Ziploc bag, cut off the tip, and just squeeze it out. That's what she does. I have to add some water to the recipe to get it to pour from my pitcher, so if you use a Ziploc bag don't add the water.

Funnel Cakes
from Kathy

2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

Combine together eggs and milk.

Sift flour, salt, and baking powder. Combine with eggs and milk.

Add 1/4 cup water so that the mixture will pour out of the pitcher. Add a little more a tsp at a time if you need more.

Finish off with a sifting of powdered sugar.


It really doesn't get any better!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Menu Plan Monday — August 31

I altered my menu plan last week for a couple of reasons, but the result is that I get to bring some of those dinners forward for this week. Hey, I'm not complaining. It makes for easier planning.

The first thing that threw me off was I bumped up the Chicken Supreme — the recipe that wasn't a casserole that I was turning into one. It worked out great and was yummy, but it used up all the cut up chicken I had in my freezer, which amounted to six cups. (One of the four-pound frozen bags of bone-in chicken breasts boiled and cut up will net you six cups of chicken. I verified it with the second bag I cooked on Friday night.) By the way, I'll give you the recipe at the end of the post for the Chicken Supreme.

The other thing that threw me off a little was that Sparky ended up having all four of her wisdom teeth extracted on Friday. We went in for our consult on Monday and didn't really expect to get an appointment the same week, but that's what I get for thinking. We've been doing some soups and soft foods for her.

Monday — Spaghetti. Sparky is still sore and needs soft food.

TuesdayChicken and Rice Casserole. If you click on the title it will take you back to last week's menu where I posted the recipe. I'll use the cut up chicken I prepared on Friday night.

Wednesday5-Minute Southwest Layered Salad. This may have to become our regular weekly meatless meal. We had it last week; I'm not just bringing it forward.

ThursdayImpossibly Easy Chicken Pot Pie. I didn't get to this last week either since I ran out of cut up chicken.

Friday — Leftovers; clean out the fridge and pantry.

Saturday — Beef little smokies wrapped in crescent rolls. I might make some little smokies wrapped in bacon with brown sugar, too. If I do I'll take a picture and share the recipe that way. I don't think for a second there is anything remotely healthy about them.

Sunday — Lunch at church for Labor Day!

When I boil my chicken to cut it up and freeze it for later use, I throw some spices in the water so the chicken isn't so bland. I usually throw in about a teaspoon each of sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano, and then a sprinkle in some onion powder and garlic salt. When I say throw in, I use the word loosely since I don't actually get out the measuring spoon.

I'll give you the Chicken Supreme recipe the way it was originally written, and then I'll tell you what I did to make it a casserole.

Chicken Supreme
from my neighbor Sharon at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup Waverly crackers, crushed
1/3 cup milk
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1 T lemon juice

Combine soup, mayo, milk, and lemon juice. Pour over chicken. Put 3/4 cheese on top of the chicken, top with crackers, and then top with the rest of the cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

I used 6 cups of cooked, cut-up chicken. I doubled the rest of the recipe. I stirred up the chicken, soup, mayo, milk, and lemon juice and poured it all in a 9 x 13 casserole. Then I put cheese on the top, crushed an entire package of Club crackers on top of that, and then put some more cheese on top of it. Since my chicken was already cooked, it only took about 20 minutes or so for it to heat up.

For more great recipes, head over to The Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Whole Hole Picture

When I was a senior in high school, I bought some matching shelves, primarily so I would have storage for my doll collection. The dolls were kept behind the glass doors, and the rest of the shelving was perfect for books and other things. Here is a partial picture of two of the three shelves that have doors on the bottom (that you can't see). They have been through every single move with us as a married couple, from college to military moves.

The third shelving unit does not have doors on the bottom and is just open shelving. When we lived in New Jersey and I was mere days from giving birth to Caboose, which puts us at late 1999 or very early 2000, I had a wonderful idea.

Get rid of the stand that the television sat on, put all three shelves together, and hacksaw the middle out of the back so the television could poke out. Because back then did they have flat screens? And if they did we never expected to have one.

Hubby was smart enough to humor his very pregnant wife.

The three shelves have been used just like that for the last nine years. It was pure genius.

Until we got here and have a flat screen over the fireplace.

I put that shelving unit in the garage sale we had recently for $10. Nobody bought it. So I decided to bring it in the house and then take the back off. We thought the unit was probably sturdy enough that the back wasn't adding too much to the stability anyway.

We got the piece almost in the corner where we wanted it, and I said, "Okay, let's take off the back." To which Hubby said, "Why don't you just put a picture over it?"

Now why didn't I think of that!

I went to one of many large local Salvation Army stores last Friday while Caboose was at a Sunday school party (before the whole airport pick-up disaster and Ikea trip). I never really find good stuff there, but this time I did. I found a Grandma Moses print. You might remember I showed you a few weeks ago a very large Grandma Moses cross-stitch I did many years ago, so I like the looks of her work.

I had to take it out of the frame it was in. It was attached to a thick board so I couldn't trim it, so when I went to Michael's to buy a frame (on sale) I also bought a mat to cover up the damage around the sides of the print and make it fit a ready-made frame. The picture has been sitting in the floor waiting for the perfect home.

I used the Command Picture Hanging Strips I have grown to love and hung the picture over the hole. That was the perfect home.

I think I'll put my afghan on one of the shelves below when I'm not using it, plus any others I make. I'll have to find something to put on that top shelf, and I'm thinking maybe a tray or basket tray on the shelf by the hurricane.

It took Hubby and me together to figure out the perfect solution, and I'm very pleased with the outcome.

I guess I'll keep him around a little longer.

This post is linked to Show and Tell Friday hosted by Kelli at There is no place like home.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Niagara Falls

When Mr. and Mrs. Claus came to visit back in July we took them to Niagara Falls. We had to wait for me and the kids to get our passport cards, which came at the last possible minute. We go through Canada because it is about four hours one way and can be a long day trip, as opposed to going strictly through the states and it having to be an overnight trip.

We have been three times now since we moved to Michigan a year ago, and this is the first time the weather was pretty. The first time it was rainy or drizzly the whole day. Here are three pictures from that day:

In late December when we took Hubby's parents, we went on the only warm day while they were here. Hubby wanted to make sure it wouldn't snow while we were gone. Well, it didn't snow, but the quick temperature increase caused intense fog the entire trip that never burned off, including at the Falls. There was about a 30-second interval where the fog blew away and there was a fantastic view, and then the fog was back. At least they got to see it.

This particular day in July was sunny and warm, a little too much to my liking now that I'm becoming an acclimated Michigander, but still fairly pleasant. Here are the grandparents and grandkids in front of the Horseshoe Falls.

This is a fantastic view of the Horseshoe Falls with one of the Maid of the Mist boats underneath. Pay close attention, because that's where we'll be later.

This is what we did the first time we went, the Cave of the Winds. See all those little yellow ponchos over on the little stairs under the single fall. It's called the Bridal Veil and is part of the American Falls.

That picture at the beginning of the post with the kids in the yellow ponchos sticking out their tongues getting soaked to the bone — that was the Bridal Veil. You might also notice the location of one of those boats at the bottom of this picture with the blue poncho people. Again, where we'll be later.

There is usually a lot of mist coming off of the Horseshoe Falls blowing towards the American Falls. When you walk on the sidewalk you get a little damp. So in between the first picture of grandpa, grandma, and the kids, there was a lot of mist, and here they are in front of the American Falls.

This is a side view of the American Falls.

On Goat Island we walked around a bit before preparing for our descent.

I'm pretty sure it's self-explanatory where we are now.

If not, here's a little more close-up shot.

I actually got a little seasick feeling on that boat before we got to the choppy waters. I think it was because I was fighting a migraine, but who knows. I used to get carsick when I was younger, but now I read in the car without getting sick. But since that little boat ride, any time we drive very far I get a little icky. It's not so much fun. I'll take yellow ponchos and splashing water any day.

Which thrills my kids to no end because they weren't happy with how wet they didn't get on the boat.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Organization — Coupons

Over my 24 years of marriage I have had various forms of coupon organization and management, from none to some.

Originally when we were first married and in college I had a super cute little hard-sided accordion file that had a ribbon closure on top. I think it was a Hallmark product and could be used for pretty much anything. My choice was coupons. I didn't take it to the store though; I only used it to keep them organized at home.

Later on I switched to a similar sized plastic accordion file for my coupons, for a couple of years I had nothing, and then when I was in Illinois I had a basket hanging on the wall and they were all thrown into it. Before I went to the store I would shuffle through them and see what I wanted to use, if I was lucky enough to have time before I left. Many would expire before I had a chance to use them, and I typically only clip the ones for products I use, so I was definitely not using the coupons to my full advantage.

For our two years in Virginia and the year since we'd been here in Michigan I had a large white envelope I'd carry around in my purse with my coupons. Obviously I didn't have many. We didn't subscribe to the paper and many Sundays we would forget to go and buy one, so my coupon pickings were slim at best. But I'd have them with me all the time and could use them to their full advantage.

I wanted something better though, and in the last few weeks we subscribed to the paper so we could get the best coupon savings, because if I have them I do use them. Our local grocery store also prints out coupons at the register, and they can be pretty good ones sometimes. The commissary is about 30 minutes away, so I only go there about every six weeks and do use the local grocery store frequently.

At Get 'er Done in June, one of the neighborhood ladies brought her coupons to 'get done' and had this nifty method, The Couponizer. I asked her about it and got my own personal testimonial. I was sold, and recently got my own Couponizer.

I did a google search and found an active coupon for $2 off at the time, so it was $17.95, plus shipping. There are a multitude of sections inside, but at the front this is one area you will find. I just used it last night.

Here's an idea of what the sections look like throughout The Couponizer where you organize your coupons. It's alphabetized!

There's a large fold-out paper for separating your coupons before you place them into the sections. It's organized just like the sections in The Couponizer.

Here is how it folds up.

This is a sample of some of the sections at the back behind the coupons.

Here is an idea of how big it is. My hand is kind of long, but it is not as pudgy as it looks in this picture. If it's true that a picture adds 10 pounds to you, and it did that to my hand, I fear what it actually does to me.

Last night I saved $14.25 at the store, including a couple of double coupons. I would say that about 1/3 to 1/2 of that I would not have saved if I'd just had the stuff in my envelope in my purse instead of organized ahead of time in The Couponizer (I just thought I was doing a good job!). I think it will make a good place to keep the receipts for returns I'll be making to the store, instead of keeping them in my wallet. There is a section for it (in the picture above even) that I just haven't used yet.

I've already found myself grabbing it every time I walk out the door! That's a good thing.

This post is linked to Works-For-Me-Wednesday hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday — August 24

Do you remember my dilemma from last Friday? It was pick Hubby up from the airport and then either go to Ikea or take all the kids to Steak and Shake for dinner as a treat. Guess what won out?


But it wasn't quite that simple.

Hubby was in Washington, D.C., last week. On Friday there were storms passing through, and not only were planes not landing or taking off, his was still in Pittsburgh. He was originally supposed to arrive in Detroit at 4:19. So in our joint ingenuity and optimism, we decided I'd go to Ikea first and then pick him up at the airport. We estimated his arrival time at about 7:30 p.m.

Well, another storm appeared on the radar when they were next in line to take off, the crew timed out, another crew had to be flown in, and eventually he took one of the last five seats on another flight coming into Detroit. By this point I'd driven the hour back home to wait it out, after a very enjoyable Ikea trip, of course. I drove another hour back to pick Hubby up at about 11:45 p.m.

So in the interest of rewarding myself, as if Ikea wasn't enough, I voted for Steak and Shake on Saturday evening. Hubby didn't blink an eye and cheers erupted from the peanut gallery.

All that said, we're going meatless a couple of times this week and I have some frozen chicken already cooked and cut up I plan to use for a few recipes.

Monday5-Minute Southwest Layered Salad. Since we had our little treat on Saturday, I didn't get to have my food in my food favorite. Actually the only food in my food I eat, but whatever.

Tuesday — Chicken and Rice Casserole. Does this count as food in my food? Nah. (Recipe to follow.)

Wednesday — Spaghetti.

Thursday — I'm taking a chicken recipe I have that doesn't call for cooked, cut-up chicken and doing it that way, kind of like a casserole (it's called Chicken Supreme). If it works, I'll share the recipe later.

FridayImpossibly Easy Chicken Pot Pie. I just buy individual bags of frozen vegetables that we eat (namely because I don't eat green peas) and then mix it together instead of buying the name brand this recipe calls for. I only use green beans, carrots, and corn. I should get points for all three colors. I make two of these pot pies and we have part of one left over.

Saturday — Clean out the fridge and pantry.

Sunday — Eat out since we at in all week!

Chicken and Rice Casserole
from my Grandma

1 cup chopped celery
2 T chopped onion
2 T butter
1 cup cubed cooked chicken
2 cups cooked rice
1 can cream of chicken soup (undiluted)
3/4 cup mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip salad dressing)

Saute celery and onion in butter.

Mix chicken, cooked rice, soup and mayo. Add onion and celery. Mix well and put in baking dish.

Top with:
1 cup crushed corn flakes
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Note: 1/2-3/4 cup chicken broth added to the rice mixture makes it more moist.

Go visit Laura, The Organizing Junkie, for more great menu and meal-planning ideas.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Something You Might Find in a Nancy Drew Book

I lived a year and a half in Gretna, Louisiana, which is just outside New Orleans, when I was three years old until I was four and a half. I was actually in Hurricane Camille. Just a little known fact about me for you.

When we lived there my mom had a friend named Pat, short for Patricia, and whose initials were also PAT. I always thought that was kind of cool.

The summer between my fourth and fifth grade years we went down to visit Pat, and one night while we were there we went to have dinner at her mom's house. Her mom had a cook/housekeeper, which was really fancy to someone like me. My sister and I got warned more than once about our behavior that night, and we had to wear dresses. This is the one I had to wear. I still remember it.

It's the putrid green color I can't wear without looking that color. Back then I suppose it wasn't an issue, but now, forget it. Don't you just love the macrame belt?

Well, I guess we were on our best behavior, because the next day Pat's mom took us down to the French Quarter and got us a gift. This was mine.

It confounded my childhood friends, my family, my Hubby, and now my children. Check out these pictures.

I did a post over a year ago about how I still want to be Nancy Drew when I grow up. This little house makes me think of something you might find in a Nancy Drew book with the secret hiding place for the key. I mean, who didn't want an attic so they could knock on the walls and find a secret door? I think this is the closest I'm going to get.

I've had this little house for 33 years, and it has actually 'lived' in eight states with me. In all that time I've never seen anything even remotely like it in a catalog or store.

This post is linked to Show and Tell Friday hosted by Kelli at There is no place like home.

Give Me Five

Ronnica from Ignorant Historian, who is anything but, gifted out five words especially for me. I asked for them though, so maybe they weren't really a gift, because that would be rude to ask for a gift.

Okay, so here's how this works: she got five words from someone, she blogged on each of the five words, offered to provide five words to anyone who wanted them, I took her up on the offer, I received my five words, and now I will blog about them. Get it?

You'll be able to tell they were thought up especially for me though. If you're not too scared by all of this craziness, I'll gift you five words specifically for you. Just ask.

1. Daisy
I could just say, "The daisy makes me happy," but in all fairness a little more narrative is expected, at least from Ronnica.

You might be surprised to know that for years I discouraged my husband from getting me fresh flowers for our anniversary or any other occasion. I thought it was such a waste. The thing was, I usually got roses, and I don't like roses (my father-in-law is going to cringe when he reads that).

As many things today are less expensive to buy than they were five or ten years ago, and also easier to find in common stores (grocery, discount), so are fresh flowers. Several years ago I realized there was more out there than just the rose, and that you don't have to get a bouquet of something to have fresh flowers. The gerbera daisy is the one that caught my eye from the beginning and is easily my favorite flower. I love their large size and the color choices available. I also like to put them in planter pots outside and not just in vases in my house.

In a nutshell, the daisy makes me happy.

2. Children
I have a lot of them.

Hubby and I talked about not ever having any, by choice, many, many years ago when we were first married.

We said if we ever had any, we wanted two. Twin girls.

We decided we wanted to have children, and had difficulty conceiving.

We had two miscarriages before I got pregnant with the girls. Twin girls!

Our girls are truly miracles, being born at 27 weeks.

Even though our boys weren't born that early (three days and 13 days doesn't really qualify), they are still miracles when you think about all the things that have to go right.

Our children are gifts from God.

3. Holiday
Now this one is interesting. Which one? All of them? This is the word Ronnica gave me which sort of stuck out a little from the rest and seemed a little difficult for me to pinpoint.

My first thoughts went to Christmas. It's easily my favorite holiday. I love Thanksgiving, too, but it's sort of the warm-up act. The day following Thanksgiving is when we used to put up our Christmas tree, so it's like that was the marker for the season to begin.

Every year when I was growing up Christmas was the same. I never wondered what I would be doing. I would find a flashlight before I went to bed on Christmas eve, hide it under my pillow, sneak out during the night to take a peek at the goodies, and then the next morning we would get to open our gifts and get ready to go to my Grandpa and Grandma's house. Since I didn't grow up knowing my natural father or his family, I only had the one side of the family.

We always had homemade chicken pie for lunch. It's kind of like chicken pot pie with no vegetables, which of course is right up my alley of no food in my food. It dates back to at least when my mom was a child, and she was born during WWII. I'm guessing that maybe they didn't put vegetables in it originally because of food shortages during the Depression or WWII, but that's just a guess. I'm just glad there aren't any vegetables.

The Christmas holiday was never complete without reading the Christmas story from Luke before the four of us grandkids got to open our 'socks' from Grandpa and Grandma. Then everyone opened their presents.

The holiday in our house has maintained much of this tradition. We've never lived closer than five hours away from our families since we've had children. Hubby and I decided early on that we would build a tradition in our own home rather than transporting them all over the place every year. With the exception of two years when the children were very small we've always spent the holiday in our own home, wherever that has happened to be.

By the way, I've only had artificial trees, I love excessive lights, and I don't do a themed tree. I probably won't ever do anything but artificial now because I know I'm allergic. I'm using that excuse to get past the one about the messy needles on my carpet.

4. Organization
Now I'm supposed to keep this short, right?

I can tell people in my house where to find obscure items because of organization.

I look at things and try to figure out ways to better organize them. It doesn't matter if it's in someone else's home.

I've helped several friends with organization projects. Some were small projects in their homes, some were with their scrapbooking supplies, etc. I jump at the chance.

I think just as we do a spring cleaning, we should do a spring organization at least once a year of every space. Things need cleared out, cleaned out, rearranged, tidied, etc. I can tell it's time for me to do this when I start getting frustrated with an area. If I'm having trouble finding something in its normal place, things are messier than usual, I've added additional things to an area and it seems to be overflowing, or something along these lines, I know it's time for an organization intervention. I don't wait around.

I'm addicted to organization shows on television. I could care less if they are re-runs and I've seen them before.

Some of my kids think I'm a freak. Just wait until they are out on their own and can't find stuff. Boy, are they going to appreciate me then!

5. Home
We've had many.

There's the saying, "It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home." I think when you move often, in our case as a military family, you find this to be true. We had apartments, military quarters, two of our own small homes, rental homes. They were all home when we were together as a family.

Our new home is really a dream come true for us. We never imagined we'd be fortunate enough for all our kids to have their own rooms. We are so thankful to have room to walk around and not shimmy around the furniture. It's nice just to have space.

But for us, it is just another home on the way to our eternal home, heaven. That's the one that matters.

Let me know if you'd like five words specially picked just for you!

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