Sunday, November 29, 2009

Menu Plan Monday — November 30

I know one thing we're not having this week — turkey!

Monday — Clean out the fridge, freezer, and pantry. It needs it, even though there really isn't turkey left.

Tuesday — Soup and salad. Hubby is out of town for two days, we're having small group at our house even though he isn't here and he planned it before he knew he was going to be gone, and I need something easy to fix and clean up.

Wednesday — I might splurge and take the kids out to eat somewhere like Steak and Shake. We have church and then we have to go pick Hubby up at the airport after that. It will be a late night. I think I deserve it.

Thursday — It's the girls' 16th birthday! We're eating out I'm pretty sure.

Friday — I've obviously been bad this week, or at least worse than usual, so I'll need to fix something for dinner. I think Beef Stew sounds yummy and it is feel good food when it's this cold. If I don't fix that it will be Beef and Noodles, another feel good food.

Saturday — No matter what I fix on Friday, there will be leftovers for today.

Sunday — Well, I usually say eat out since we ate in all week. Now I'm at a loss what to say. We'll probably eat out since one was a birthday and we don't count that and I'll say I deserved Wednesday. I think that sounds fair...

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday hosted by Laura, The Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Boys and Their Toys

My Show and Tell today is going to be pretty short and sweet. First, let me show you a little table that is in my entryway and how it looks after I decorated it today (Thanksgiving Day) for Christmas.

In reality, these snowmen will probably stay out past Christmas and possibly well into February here in frigid Michigan.

A few days ago, this little table looked like this.

Nicely decorated for fall, with a few accents from Caboose. I never know where I'll find little men in my house.

You might notice the little arm too. Here's what he is doing.

Do you have boys? If you do, do their toys end up in unusual places?

This post is linked to Show and Tell Friday hosted by Cindy at My Romantic Home.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are having a wonderful day celebrating (for those of you in the U.S.).

Here were the Thanksgiving decorations I brought out on November 1st to add to my other fall decor. This first ceramic turkey was one Chatty painted in a homeschool co-op in Illinois when she was in the 6th grade.

This turkey, the Pilgrims, and the Indians, were all new this year. I didn't really have any Thanksgiving themed decorations.

Today we enjoyed turkey and gravy, dressing, rolls, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole,

and green bean casserole.

I put fried onions in the casserole before I cook it (it doesn't call for this) and put them on the top to brown at the end (like it calls for).

We also enjoyed banana pudding for breakfast, and for dessert, coconut meringue pie,

pumpkin pie, and Mother-in-Law Salad.

I worked on making three Christmas wreaths to replace the fall ones

and got out some other Christmas decorations while Hubby was watching football. During halftime of one of the games he put up the big tree. That just means he put all the branches in and I need to spread them and make it look nice now, but it was a big help.

Now we're going to watch a movie or two, probably the new Veggietales Christmas movie and the original Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim. I'm excited — I've never seen it although I know the story.

Blessings to you all!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mother-in-Law Salad

My mom always made a fruity, fluffy salad every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Hubby always ate it and enjoyed it. I don't know that he ever said anything about it until the year it wasn't there and asked, "Where is the Mother-in-Law Salad?"

Well, my mom said there was hardly ever any eaten or she didn't think anybody cared or something along those lines, so she didn't make it that year. Hubby was crushed. Never again has he been without Mother-in-Law Salad when we've been in Arkansas.

Do you know I didn't even come up with the name of this salad and I still got in trouble for it!

For Thanksgiving in 2003, the kids and I went over to another family's house since Hubby was in Kuwait. The husband's dad and stepmom were there also. I took several dishes, including Mother-in-Law Salad. I made the offhand comment about putting it in the refrigerator and totally missed all of the action that was going on behind me. Apparently my friend's mother-in-law heard me and thought I wasn't being nice, she tensed up, her husband already knew what the salad was, as well as my friend's husband. Later at the dinner table they said, "Hey, Kayren, tell her why you call it Mother-in-Law Salad." Of course I wasn't aware of anything yet and just blabbered all about how it got it's name from my Hubby because he loved my mom's salad and just gave it a name. I found out later that day when my friend could whisper to me what had happened and how I had her mother-in-law all in an uproar, over nothing. The only good thing was that they all thought it was absolutely hilarious that she was all in a dither.

Mother-in-Law Salad
from my mom

1 small pkg of red Jello
1 can cherry pie filling
24 oz cottage cheese, drained
2 cans fruit (cocktail or tropical), drained
2 cans mandarin oranges, drained
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained
2-8 oz Cool Whip, can use fat free or light
Marshmallows and Chopped Nuts, optional

Drain everything really good so that the salad will firm up well.

Start with the Cool Whip, cottage cheese and Jello. Mix together well before you add in the other ingredients. Add in everything else, stir together, and refrigerate. It will firm up some after you refrigerate it.

You can substitute other fruits and leave out the marshmallows and nuts. There is obviously a little room to play around with it, but if you like to stick with a recipe, especially at the beginning until you know what you're getting, do it this way (and with the tropical fruit!).

Traditional Pumpkin Pie

Traditional Pumpkin Pie
Eagle Brand recipe from a magazine in the '90s

1 9-inch deep dish unbaked pie crust
1-16 oz can pumpkin (mine are 15 oz)
1-14 oz can Eagle Brand or Eagle Brand Low-Fat Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 eggs or 4 egg whites
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well.

Pour into pie crust. I use the frozen deep dish, but you can make your own. Just get it out to thaw a few minutes before you start and it will be perfect.

Bake 15 minutes. You'll notice I put mine on a plain, flat cookie sheet. It makes it easier to put in and take out of the oven since the aluminum pie pan is a little flimsy.

After 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted 1" from the edge comes out clean. Cool.

This step about checking it with the knife is important until you know how long it takes you for your oven to cook your pie, because it does leave a knife slash in the edge of your pie. But the middle doesn't always look quite done, and if you wait until it looks done, the edges can be almost overdone. That of course from a pumpkin pie expert who didn't eat pumpkin pie until, oh, about ten years ago. I'm picky about my pumpkin pie. And just so you know, every single bite must have also have some homemade whipped cream with it.

Refrigerate leftovers. For some reason my husband thinks I'm crazy because I do this.

For homemade whipped cream, just get a carton of whipping cream, and for every cup put in a tablespoon of sugar. Whip it until it has whipped cream peaks, and you're so much happier than if you just have Cool Whip. Some people find that chilling their metal mixing bowl and beaters helps, but I don't do it and mine whips up fast.

Here is a picture right after I took the pie out of the oven. I did check it with a knife, I just kept the knife mark out of the picture. You can tell the edges are puffy and the middle still looks soft, but my knife came out clean.

This is the pie just a few minutes later after it had settled. The flash made it look a really funny orange, but you can at least get the idea.

I have goofed some things up before, but I have never made a bad pumpkin pie. This is the only recipe I have ever used. It is Caboose's favorite pie.

Go figure. And I wouldn't eat it until I was in my 30s.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole
from my mom

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
salt to taste
1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
2 well beaten eggs
1/3 cup milk (any kind except buttermilk)

Combine and pour into a casserole dish that has been sprayed with Pam (my mom doesn't always spray it with Pam first). If you don't double this recipe, use an 11 x 7.

Cover with topping:

1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 T melted butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Add marshmallows to the top and brown.

So you know my penchant for not following a recipe exactly if you read any of my recipes. Well, this one is no exception. But it's not bad, promise.

Just as my mom does, I double this recipe. She does it because she is feeding more people. I do it because I want the leftovers.

And do you know that I've only been eating sweet potatoes for about five or so years. I wanted to like them for the longest time, and I finally do, but they have to have a lot of butter and sugar with them.


So although I double the recipe, I actually triple the topping. Except for maybe the nuts. I think I only end up with about a cup of nuts, give or take.

And those marshmallows. Well, they only end up on about half of the 9 x 13 casserole that a double recipe requires this to be made in. Hubby likes marshmallows on his. Me, that would qualify as food in my food. Or food on my food.


Just in case you aren't a big sweet potato aficionado, if I need six cups of mashed sweet potatoes, I buy six sweet potatoes. Sometimes they are big and I have more than six cups, so I either put it aside for later or throw it out if it isn't enough to make more later. I boil my potatoes (my mom bakes hers), let them cool, then the skin peels right off. They are so easy to mash!

My mom makes her casserole the night before except for the topping. She takes it out of the refrigerator to let it come a little more to room temperature, then puts the topping on it and cooks it. She said it saves a ton of time on Thanksgiving morning.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Padded Hangers — Handmade Gifts

Have someone on your list that is hard to buy for? has everything?

Are padded hangers just too pricey? Do they take up too much unnecessary room in your closet?

Do you like to make gifts for people? quick ones at that!

Well here you go!

You'll need a sturdy metal hanger and some leftover yarn. You can buy some new yarn if you want, but leftover works just fine. You can also use the metal dry cleaner hangers if you have some and they aren't the flimsy ones, but we have some inexpensive metal hangers we purchased at Wal-Mart in a package of 10 or 12 that are sturdy. You just don't want them to be the flimsy kind. You want them to have some substance, kind of like the difference between delicate china and sturdy stoneware.

I only had to use one of these leftover balls, and I still didn't have to use all of it.

Tie a knot at the top to start, and then tie a second knot. When you are tying the second knot, wrap the yarn through twice instead of just once before you tighten it. That makes the knot stronger. I'll be showing you pictures at the end when I finish off the hanger what I mean.

Start with the yarn over the hanger forming a loop above it.

Take your ball of yarn under the hanger and bring it through your loop.

Gently pull your yarn and tighten it around the hanger.

Pull your yarn until it's tight and the knot is at the top of the hanger. Don't pull too tightly, especially if you have a woven yarn like I was using, or you'll break it.

Now you're ready to do it again. Make your loop above the hanger and put your ball in the middle.

Bring the ball under and through.


This is after 10 knots.

Here's where I broke my yarn from pulling too tight.

I tied the yarn on and started back up.

You'll need to push it together every so often as you go along, otherwise it will be too loose and you'll have gaps when you finish. The big old knot you see is where I tied the yarn pieces together, but I kind of rolled it under and made it disappear when I was finished.

Here is the end. I cut the yarn so I could tie it to my original piece I left from the original knot.

Then I tied two knots, and I'm going to show you how to tie it once, but just know I did it again.

Get ready to tie it like you begin to tie a shoelace.

Tie the longer one over and through the shorter one, but don't tighten it yet.

Now wrap it through (or around if you will) one more time.

Now tighten it.

Do it one more time for good measure, cut off your excess string, and you're done.

Think of all the pretty colors you could make, or all the festive hangers, or you could even color-coordinate with your clothes.

Just don't ask me what I do.

This post is linked to I Am Blissfully Domestic.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Menu Plan Monday — November 23

I did pretty well sticking to last week's menu while Hubby was out of town. I did bump the Country-Style Pork Loin to Friday when he came home and then we had it for leftovers on Saturday, so I'm carrying the Roast I originally had planned for Saturday over to this week. With Thanksgiving on Thursday and a dinner at church this week, planning is very easy, even if my time in the kitchen won't be.

Roast in the Crock Pot. I brown the roast on the stove-top and then put it in the crock pot, put some salt and pepper on it (I press it in with a spoon), and then pour four cups of beef broth over it. I cook it on low all day. An hour or so before dinner I put a bag of baby carrots and some cut up potatoes in the broth to cook with the meat. When they are tender it is time for dinner!

Tuesday — Dinner at church. We have soup and salad at church for a special Thanksgiving service.

Wednesday — Leftovers from Monday.

Thursday — Thanksgiving! See my menu below, and I'll be posting some recipes I haven't previously posted during the week.

Friday — Leftovers galore.

Saturday — I'm sure there will still be leftovers we'll need to finish up.

Sunday — Eat out since we ate in all week, and I'm sure we'll be tired of turkey!

Thanksgiving Day Menu

Dressing (not in the turkey though, that's food in my food!)
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potato Casserole
Mashed Potatoes
Bread or Rolls
Mother-in-Law Salad
Banana Pudding
Pumpkin Pie with homemade whipped cream
Coconut Meringue Pie

Be sure to check out my tip for keeping cut potatoes from getting brown.

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday hosted by The Organizing Junkie.

Just in Time for Thanksgiving — Keeping Cut Potatoes from Getting Brown

With Thanksgiving coming up this week, and all the meal preparations that go along with it, and Christmas just around the corner, I thought it might be helpful to share a tip with you from a few months ago. This might come in handy when you need to prepare some foods ahead of time because Thanksgiving Day can become a very busy one in the kitchen.

I have been known to cut up my potatoes that I'll be using for dinner earlier in the day. Sometimes I do it for convenience, and sometimes I do it because I'll be gone from the house until right before it's time to start cooking dinner and I don't have time for the actual preparation. The problem is that the potatoes will turn brown soon after you cut them.

The solution: place them into a bowl of cold water, cut up or whole, and put them into the refrigerator until you are ready to use them. You can even leave them there overnight.

You can't tell too much with the potatoes still in the water, but this is what the water looked like as soon as I took the potatoes out, which in this particular instance was after about three hours in the water:

As yucky as that looks, my potatoes were still pretty. Here's what they looked like as soon as I put them in the hot pan (I was frying potatoes this time, but this week we might all be making mashed potatoes):

As perfect as if I just cut them!

Hope this makes your Thanksgiving food preparations a little easier.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Williamsburg Prints

These three prints of historic Colonial Williamsburg buildings are done by a local artist, Gail Duke. They were one of my first purchases at Williamsburg, actually the first time we went, and I just kept them in their packaging and didn't even frame them until we got here. I purchased mats and ready-made frames on sale at Michael's and did it myself.

This is the Capitol of Colonial Williamsburg (you can click on any link for more information). Built in 1705 and reconstructed in the 1930s, the Capitol is one of Colonial Williamsburg's best-known buildings. We watched many a reenactment take place from there.

This is the Governor's Palace. It was at one time home to seven royal governors, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, and has served as a hospital for wounded soldiers.

This is the Magazine. It was built in 1715 to store weapons and powder.

I needed to complete my Williamsburg tour this week, but I wanted to Show and Tell you a few other things. Here are two other posts I did this week that would have been equally good Show and Tell posts, so click over and take a look:

Rome Wasn't Built In A Day — The girls and I built a quilt in a day though!
While You Were Out — Doing a little remodel while Hubby was out of town.

This post is linked to Show and Tell Friday hosted by Cindy at My Romantic Home.
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