Thursday, November 29, 2012

a few Christmas ideas...

We've been battling the plague at my house, but (hopefully) seem to be on the downside... & yesterday I finally got my Christmas decorations out of the attic! So to help us all get in the spirit, here are a few cute ideas that I wanted to share. I hope you find something you like!

Click here for a tutorial for a felt Christmas tree for the kiddos! You can make a big one & tack it to the wall (or use Command strips, if you don't want holes in the walls) or make a small one for a table-top activity. Just head to Hobby Lobby & buy felt, pull out your scissors & a hot glue gun & get crafty!

Here's the wall version:

or the smaller, table-top version:

Christmas, more than maybe any other holiday, has its own wonderful smells... try a Christmas Simmer Pot to keep your house smelling festive! Throw in a few oranges &/or lemons, cranberries, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, bay leaves, & cloves... basically anything that smells good & simmer it on low to give your house a wonderful smell of the season. You can refrigerate & reuse several times.

And here's one of my favorite ideas... Do your kids like "The Polar Express"? Rose is still too young this year, but I know a few people with older kiddos who are doing this completely free & super-fun activity. Create your own Minivan Express as a surprise for your kids one night! Click here for a complete description & printable tickets... and if you decide to do your own Minivan (or Acura or Explorer) Express, please tell us how it went!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Grandma's Gingersnaps

Yummmm, there's just something festive & cozy about gingersnaps... & Abbey says that they'll make your house smell wonderful! Thanks for sharing, Abbey :)

This recipe makes about 3 dozen of these delicious little cookies.

The Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup margarine
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 white sugar for decoration

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a medium bowl, cream together margarine & 1 cup white sugar until smooth. Beat in egg & molasses until well-blended. 

Combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda & salt. Stir into molasses mixture to form a dough.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls & roll the balls in the remaining white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 8-10 mins. Allow cookies to cool for at least 5 mins before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

(Click here for original source)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: The Thanksgiving Leftovers Collection

Just a few yummy ideas of what to do with all those Turkey Day leftovers!

Do you have leftover cranberry sauce? Try these Cranberry Sauce Muffins with Cranberry Butter:

The Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup leftover cranberry sauce
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk (or egg nog)
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 stick butter, softened

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners. In a small bowl, whisk together cranberry sauce, nutmeg & lemon juice. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon & salt. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk or egg nog, melted butter & vanilla extract. Add egg mixture to flour mixture & mix until just moist.

Fill muffin cups with half of the batter. Spoon 2 tsp cranberry sauce onto the center of each cup of batter. Top with remaining batter. Bake for 15-20 mins or until top springs back when touched lightly.

To make cranberry butter, combine softened butter with a dollop of cranberry sauce in a food processor. Add more cranberry sauce until it's as cranberry-y as you want. Transfer to small bowl & serve with warm muffins. 

(Click here for source.)


After your turkey has been picked clean, don't throw away what's left... make this Turkey Soup instead!

The first step to this soup is making turkey stock, which you can start right after Thanksgiving dinner.

To make Turkey Stock:

  • What's left of your Thanksgiving turkey (bones, skin, drippings, giblets except liver, everything)
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • Handful of fresh chopped parsley
  • Sprinkle of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Celery tops (the leafy parts)
  • A few peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Remove all useable turkey meat for sandwiches, to add to the soup later, or make turkey pot pie (recipe below).

Break up the turkey bones a bit so the turkey carcass isn't quite so bulky. Put the entire turkey carcass into a large stock pot & cover with cold water by an inch. Add yellow onion, carrots, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, celery tops & peppercorns.

Bring to a boil & immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to barely a simmer or just below a simmer. Skim off any foamy nastiness that floats to the top.

Add salt & pepper.

Cook for at least 4 hours, uncovered. Occasionally skim foam off top of stock. You can also put the stock in the oven at 180-200 degrees to maintain a constant, even heat.

Strain stock to remove veggies, bones, skin & any other undesirables.

To make Turkey Soup:

  • Turkey stock (recipe above)
  • Carrots, onions & celery, chopped... add these in equal parts (ie. 1 of each, 2 of each, etc)
  • A few sprigs of fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Seasoning as desired (suggestions include poultry seasoning, sage, thyme, marjoram, crumbled bouillon cube)
  • Starch, such as egg noodles, rice or even leftover mashed potatoes. If you decide to use potatoes, they should already be cooked.
  • Turkey meat (the good stuff that you picked off before making the stock), shredded
  • Optional: tomatoes (fresh or stewed), tabasco sauce, fresh spinach, leftover green beans, shredded cabbage
With stock still barely simmering, add carrots, onions, celery, parsley, garlic & seasonings. If desired, also add cabbage &/or green beans.

Cook at just below a simmer until vegetables are softened. Add starch & shredded turkey meat. Add tomatoes &/or spinach if desired. Add salt & pepper to taste. Add a shot of tabasco sauce if desired.


Use up some of your leftover turkey, veggies & cranberries in this Turkey Pot Pie:

The Ingredients:

  • 2 cans condensed cheddar cheese soup (cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup will work too)
  • 2 cans cream of celery soup
  • leftover turkey meat, cubed
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 cups cooked squash, diced (or leftover squash casserole)
  • 2 cups cranberry sauce
  • other cooked veggies if desired (ex. green beans, peas, corn, carrots)
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 canned biscuits or croissants

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan, heat the soups. Stir in turkey, onion, squash, cranberry sauce, other veggies if desired, salt & pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. 

Pour mixture into oven-safe dish & top with canned dough. Press crust firmly around the edges of the pan. 

Bake until crust is golden brown (about 5 mins).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reminder: the LOT Project tomorrow!

Just wanted to remind everyone that tomorrow is our monthly MOPS On the Town... this month, we're going to be visiting the LOT Project from 10:30 to 11am. If you didn't rsvp to the evite, come anyway! And don't forget to bring new or old winter accessories (such as scarves, hats, gloves, etc).  Click here for directions.

I honestly didn't know that much about the LOT Project until recently... & wow. It's an amazing initiative & I'm so glad our MOPS group is helping!

So here are a few things I've learned & thought I'd share:

What does The LOT Project stand for?  
"The Least Of These Project"

How does the LOT Project help our community?
They have several main focuses: 

  1. HOPE, which stands for "Helping Other People Eat" -- people line up for a hot meal & the opportunity to fill a bag with clothing from the free thrift store
  2. Donation Center -- every Monday evening, volunteers organize donated clothing, toys, school supplies & other items for the free thrift store
  3. AHOP, which stands for "Anderson House of Prayer" -- a 24-hour worship center that's open to everyone
  4. The Block Party at D. B. Walker Park -- a day-long event that provides free food, entertainment & helps build the community. Since its inception, the Block Party has served over 2000 meals with the help of 300+ volunteers. 
Why should you go tomorrow at 10:30am? 
Because it's a wonderful opportunity to teach your kids about giving & service to others here in Anderson.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Pumpkin Deliciousness

Here's a pumpkin roll recipe from my grandmother... she fixes several & freezes them. SO good with coffee!

The Ingredients for roll:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • powdered sugar (to keep cake from sticking & to dust on top)

The Ingredients for cream cheese filling:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, mix eggs, sugar, pumpkin & lemon juice.  In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger & nutmeg.

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture & stir until well-blended.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray (the size of baking sheet can vary, but my grandma uses one that is 10.5" by 15"). Pour the batter onto baking sheet & spread evenly.

Bake 12-15 mins until toothpick comes out clean. Meanwhile, sprinkle a clean kitchen towel liberally with powdered sugar.

After cake is baked, flip it onto the kitchen towel. Starting at one end, roll the towel & cake up into a roll & let it cool for 30-40 mins.

To make the filling, mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter & vanilla extract & blend well.

After the cake has cooled, unroll it & spread the filling evenly. Roll back up (without the towel). Wrap in plastic wrap & chill for at least an hour to allow filling to firm up.

Dust roll with powdered sugar before serving.


And do you need a hot drink to go along with your pumpkin roll? Try this Thanksgiving-y recipe shared by Margaret! It's like hot chocolate, but with pumpkin. And without chocolate. Which makes it "pumpkin NOT chocolate." 

The Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp sugar/splenda or 5 drops liquid stevia or 1-2 tsp honey
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of grated nutmeg
  • dash of ginger
  • splash of vanilla 

The Directions:

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan on the stove. Whisk together over medium heat until blended & steaming. 

Use an immersion blender* to blend until smooth & creamy.  

*If you're like me, you don't have an immersion blender. If you don't, just stir, stir, stir until it's as smooth & creamy as possible. :)

(Click here for original source)

Monday, November 12, 2012

getting crafty: pumpkin sugar scrub

Our craft at the November meeting was simple & perfect for these weeks leading up to Thanksgiving... a pumpkin sugar scrub! You can use this yourself as a body or hand exfoliating scrub, or give it as a super-cute hostess or teacher gift during the upcoming holidays.

Here's the instructions if you'd like to make this pumpkin sugar scrub at home:

What you need:

  • a small jar... the ones we used at our meeting came from Ikea, but you can also find them at Target or Walmart
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice (or more if you like a stronger smell... you can buy this spice or make your own by mixing cinnamon, nutmeg & ground cloves)
  • 3 (scant) tbsp vegetable oil
  • a label (click here to download the labels that we used) & raffia or ribbon if desired


Combine the brown sugar, white sugar, pumpkin spice. Mix well. Add oil. Mix well. Put into jar. Add label. And you're done!

**Tip from Abbey, our master crafter: be sure the dry ingredients are well-mixed & free of lumps BEFORE adding your oil. 

**The lady who designed the downloadable labels for the jars also has tons of other free printables... check it out here! Thanks for sharing, Abbey! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

jar full of gratitude

I'm always keeping my eye out for thoughtful ways to celebrate the season... & it's even better if it's cute & FREE! Just wanted to share this printable that Paper Coterie just published. Making a jar full of gratitude sounds like a great way to help our kids talk about Thanksgiving during the next couple of weeks.

Click here for the free printable.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

November meeting recap!

Our November meeting was yesterday... so glad to see all you ladies!  Our topic was "Time Management & Scheduling." I don't know about y'all, but this is something I struggle with constantly!

We were lucky enough to have Teisha Shelby-Houston speak at our meeting. Teisha is a well-known speaker, author & radio talk show host & has been a guest on Oprah (which I personally think is kind of awesome :) ).  In a very funny & dynamic way, she shared some fabulous tips on time management & how to be our best selves as women.

Teisha Shelby-Houston speaks to a roomful of MOPS

Just a few notes from Teisha's talk:

  • Give yourself permission to rest. So often, we feel guilty about resting... we're lying on the couch with the baby, watching the toddler play & listening to our older child read their school assignment, & yet we still feel guilty for not getting up & DOING something. Teisha urges us to give ourselves permission to rest, because only when we're well-rested can we meet our full potential as moms, partners & women.
  • Put healthy food in your body. Instead of focusing on a diet or weight loss, focus on eating foods that give you energy. Go for vegetables, fruits & drinking water, while cutting back on the processed foods, snacks & soda.... your energy will increase dramatically & make you feel much less run down. 
  • Declutter a little every day. Having to search & search for everything is not only exhausting, but it wears down our self-esteem. Having an organized, clutter-free home helps makes our brains feel a little less "cluttered"!
  • Teach the kids to help. It's easy to get into the habit of cleaning up after the kids when they're little... but as they get older, it's actually to their disadvantage if we do everything for them. Promote independence & responsibility in your kids by giving them age-appropriate tasks & holding them accountable. 
  • Understand your husband. As the roles of women have changed throughout the decades, men have had to adjust accordingly. Make an effort to understand where your husband is coming from. Have patience & take the time to see things from his perspective rather then immediately becoming annoyed or frustrated.
  • Reframe your thinking. As moms, it's sometimes easy to get into a rut & feel trapped by your family's constant need for attention. Stay calm & reframe your thinking... you are a rock star! Your children are your adoring fans, tracking your every movement. You are the center of their universe, at least for now... so revel in your rock star status!

"Remember, ladies, we are absolutely
awesome just the way we are."
-- Teisha Shelby-Houston

Recommended Reading:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Election Day!!

We're interrupting our regularly scheduled Tasty Tuesday to say Happy Election Day, ladies! Vote, vote, VOTE!! No, seriously. Go vote.

Today is a great day to teach our littles about what it means to vote, why voting is important & what it means to be an American. Here are a few cute little ideas that will make it fun for the kiddos (& their mama)! :)

Make a "Future Voter" button for them to wear when they accompany you to the voting booth:

For the older kids, make a ballot box out of a shoe box & let them vote on family activities/issues today... this is a fun way to help them understand how Election Day works:

And if you wanna get really ambitious & happen to have a big box on hand, make them their own kid-size voting booth:

Make patriotic cupcakes... it's a great (& tasty) way for the whole family to celebrate Election Day!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thanksgiving cuteness!

Halloween's behind us & now it's all about Thanksgiving! I personally love everything about Thanksgiving -- the decorations, the menu, the family, the colors.... yep, everything. :)

Here are a few cute Thanksgiving ideas for you & your littles to celebrate Turkey Day...

How about this entire collection of lovelies? It's a banner, 2 invitation options, a menu, gift tags, place cards, & even a 5x7 "happy thanksgiving" framable print! Regular price is $12.50, but if you use the coupon code "givethanks", you can get the collection for FREE!! I was so flippin' excited when I found this little freebie... I've already ordered mine :)

Or are you just feeling a banner without all the other stuff? Take a look at this lovely free download.... would be perfect on a mantel, across a doorway, or anywhere really...

How about leaving some sweet notes for your kids or husband letting them know that you're thankful for them? Click here for these super-cute free printables:

I always print out a few coloring pages for the kiddos for Thanksgiving Day to give them a quiet activity option. This one is color-by-number, which is also a great way to reinforce number recognition:

And it's not Thanksgiving without at least one handprint turkey!