Friday, October 30, 2009

Trick or Treat!

Happy Halloween Ya'll. Can you tell, I am easily amused?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Monster Mash

Okay, I found this great video clip that you can add your own pictures to and send as a greeting for Halloween. I just can't figure out how to make it a post. I had to add it as a Widget. You will have to scroll to the bottom of my page and click on it to watch. Have fun! Make your own!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Paper Napkin Transfer!!

Okay, I found this today online at:, and am soooooo excited for my girls to come home today from rock climbing to show them how it works. How many times have we all found great paper napkins at Target, T.J. Maxx, Walmart or Hobby Lobby on clearance? Or, how many times have we ended up after a party with just a few left. All of us, I am sure. Not enough to reuse, but too many to throw away right? So, what is a girl to do?

You make your own card stock with it, that is what! How cool is that? Think of the possibilities! You could make personalized stationary, coordinating scrapbook paper, invitations, greeting cards, or gifts. I think if they have fun, don't be surprised if you receive it as a gift for Christmas this year. After all, it is all about making something out of nothing.

Ohhhh, remember to click on the picture to enlarge it. Instructions are there! Have fun. I am sure we will. Be sure to send me a picture of what you make!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

While The Cat's Away, The Mice Will Play

I am sure that you all know the catch phrase, "While, the cat's away, the mice will play?" For many, this probably stirs up different connotations, both positive and negative. For me, this phrase signifies my ability to have plain old fashion childhood comfort!

This month, three of our girls are out for fall break and if you are in Arkansas, then you know that it has rained or drizzled with much cooler temperatures. Unless you like the idea of mopping floors around the clock, which I don't, the kids haven't played outside much except for a little basketball or scooter riding in the driveway. Having said this, they have been totally bored, so I have spent the week making crafts, working puzzles with them, and cooking. They have done okay and enjoyed most of it except for the 500 piece jigsaw puzzle. When I bought it at the dollar store, it said 12 and up and Carson looks 12 to me, right? Note to self: she still has the attention span of a 9, going on 10-year-old. Simply put, she was bored to death with it.

So after that failed attempt, we started contemplating what we were going to have for lunch. I told them I was making Taco Soup for dinner, so we could have fold overs; short for peanut butter and jam on folded bread. Eyes roll and shoulders slump. Not that they don't like it, it is just that we have had it a few times already. Carson and Camryn chimed in that they wanted something else like the Pea and Potato Soup that Bappy makes for them. Well, I make it too, I was quick to snap back, or don't I?

Yes, you heard me correctly. I said Pea and Potato Soup. I bet you were lost as to what this had to do with a cat and rat until this point, right? You got-it! Aaron Hates, Loathes, and Despises Peas. In fact when we were dating, I told him about my Thanksgiving plans and that I couldn't wait for my Memi's field peas, snap peas and white peas, just to name a few of the dishes. Okay, this may be a deal breaker for me he said, because I don't "Do" peas. I told him that he just didn't know how to cook them properly.

Well, to make a long story short, Aaron loves southern peas and is quick to point out that those were not the peas he was referring to when that ignorant statement was made. Also, that the only peas he knew, growing up in Utah, was the green, round sweet peas. Childhood tramatization, I have no clue, but I still can't get him to eat a sweet pea to save my life and he can sniff it out a mile away! Which is a sore spot for me, because there are ton's of recipes that I grew up with that have sweet peas in them for example: soups, salads, casseroles, and well, you just name it! It might have it in there.

I have, for the most part, conceded and planned meals with substitutions or just not planned them at all. Well, pea and potato soup would fall into the "not ever, in this life" category. This is hard for me, because it was soup we had weekly growing up. It isn't elegant. You probably won't see it served in a fancy restaurant, but what you will see and hear is the memories of childhood comfort that I felt when my mom prepared it for us, and how happy it made me. For me, when I ate that soup, I knew that I was loved, that I was safe, and that my momma could make something out of nothing.

You see, this recipe was originally given to my mother-- a person, who could make something out of nothing, by her mother-- the "Queen" of somethings out of nothings. For many years, my grandmother had to work and support 5 children all on her own. Money was simply not around for ruffles and frills. She probably came up with this recipe, because she couldn't afford real cream, only had a few potatoes in her pantry, and had lots of leftover peas, because we all know that children don't always eat their vegetables. She knew that it was up to her to be inventive and make it work.

Well, out of humble beginnings, a soup tradition was born. Over the years, we have kept the recipe basically the same with only 4 original ingredients. However, I have told you before that the cooks in our family have the ability to know just what else a dish needs to make it just right. So, my mother, sisters, and I have added cheese and paprika to it. Sure we can all now afford to fancy it up by adding bacon, green onions or other ingredients to it as well, but then that would defeat the purpose. The soup would no longer hold its appeal, because it would be too changed or altered.

I can smell it in the house now as I am warming up leftovers on another cold and rainy day. It is so funny that each time I eat it, it becomes the best that I have ever had or made. Maybe that is because of all the new memories that are added to it with each making. So this week, while my cat was away and my mice were at home, this mouse kept a warm and soothing tradition alive through four generations.

I bet, when each of you who read this think about it long enough, you will realize that you too have something that you enjoy doing or making while your cat is away. All you have to do is think about it and when they leave, do it! I also just bet that there are things that you are doing in your own family right now, be it out of necessity, want to, or got to, that will become a tradition for your children and their children to come. I can almost guarantee that my Memie had no clue just how altered her family's lives would be by this humble soup!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Wild, Fall Decorating Hair

Okay, you all know, that I LOVE to make something out of nothing. Partly, because it is fun, and partly, because 7 children eat up any decorating budget I have ever dreamed of having. I was in the crafty mood this week, and yes, it was raining wasn't it? Anyway, I found this tiny, winney, itsy, bitsy, pumpkin that had lost it's floral pick as I was going thru my Halloween decor. Well of course, I had to keep it! Yes, I know, I NEVER, throw away anything away that Might be useful.
Can you believe that I am holding on to my baby's empty formula cans? Not sure what I am going to do with them and that is beside the point, but rest assured that you will be the first to know, should I get a wild hair again to do something. Anyway, I had a small wooden plaque that I bought forever ago in my craft kit, if you call it that, and Cha-Ching! The Heavens parted and the Angels sang: Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hal-le-lu-jah. Inspiration just hit! Or, as Oprah says "my aaha, moment."
I have seen out there in Blog Land different crafts made with various faux fruits and veggies. Some of the crafts use plates, picture frames or even windows to stick the fruit or vegetable objects on. I decided that I could paint my raw wood plaque black, cut the Styrofoam pumpkin in half, jab it on, and create a fall picture fo' Free! You are probably going, aaahhhh what? Just bare with me here and you will see how cute this can be!
Okay, so it wasn't as simple as that, of course, but it was still free. I don't really have cute scrapbooking papers and I needed something in the background to give it some Umph. What to do, what to do? I typed some fall words on plain computer paper using Edwardian Script, printed it off, cut it to size and edged the sides with black paint. I then, placed it on a piece of scrap orange paper. Seriously! I really mean scrap, because if you look really close, you can see that I didn't have enough orange, so I had to splice it together. The only other thing that I did was to print the word FALL in bold letters, ink the sides with paint and place it on green scrap paper. The finally touch was given to the pumpkin via my child's broken hair bow. Okay, yes, I used a "used" green ribbon and tied around the pumpkin. I really think it looks cute and it really is free. Just proof that you can have a cute, festive home without spending anything! Oh, did I mention that I still have 1/2 of the pumpkin left if anyone would like to use it for their home.

Faux Pottery Barn Pumpkins!

I have to, have to , have to, share a fun project with you that my girls and I recently did this week. We are still not finished, because I ran out of felt and need 2 more Pumpkins! This project is super cheap and super fast and it is a great way for the kids to decorate their Pumpkins before they carve them a day or two before Halloween. Hello, we still live in the South and if you give into your kids whinning and carve them NOW, your Pumpkin will look like a prune before OCT. 31st is here. What am I talking about, I bet you are wondering. I promise, I am getting there!
I simply Love the Pottery Barn Halloween Kits, but didn't want to spend the Pottery Barn price for them, so I thought that I could make them myself. Being the procrastinator that I often am, I never did it. Then a great blog that I read weekly, did if for me. How lucky am I? Did I mention that my kids had a BLAST?

FYI, for those of you in the Bentonville area, Aldi's has pumpkins for $ 2.5o. Half the "oh, great one's" price. You in Arkansas, know what I am talking about, people.
So, if you like this and would like to do one visit:
There, you will find the original Pottery Barn Picture, templates for your faux ones, and a picture of what hers looks like finished. Super Cute. Be sure to send me pictures of yours. I would Love to see them.
Thank You Lindsey!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Apricot Chicken

I admit that I absolutely love to collect cookbooks, especially cookbooks that have a history or story along with the recipe. I think it is fascinating to look back throughout history to see what events were going on in the world that forced or inspired people to come up with the dishes that they have. Maybe it is because I am an English and History Major? Who knows, but what ever the reason, it drives my husband nuts. I will often find myself reading a magazine and telling him about a recipe. Instead of leaving it at that, I have to read it to him and try to get him just as caught up as I am. Yes, I recite all the ingredients, one by one. Sorry to say, he just doesn't get it. He honestly could care less as long as it taste good and prefers not to get caught up in the details, but rather the eating of it.
Coming from a long line of great Southern cooks, who had to improvise and make do with what they had, I too have learned a lot about cooking, improvising, and how ingredients come together to make a great dish. I can generally read a recipe and tell you if it will be good or what it will need to make it better. Having said that, I have to admit that my mother-in-law cooked a dish that I have turned my nose up to several times when I got a UTAH cookbook. Yes, I said Utah, because there are certain recipes that Utah wives get a hold of and then they are in every church cook book throughout the state. Forever and ever, Amen. The recipe that I am talking about has been referred to many different names, such as Apricot Chicken, Catalina Chicken, Russian Chicken and so forth. I am sure most of you have tried it before.
Why have I turned my nose up you might ask? Well, upon reading the ingredients, it not only sounded strange, but didn't sound the least bit appetizing. However, I realized that I could only go through life missing "my chance" so many times. I might as well get it over with. We decided to put it in the crock pot while we were at church for three hours. When our family arrived home, we made the rice and sat down to eat.
I must admit, it was pretty darn good. My kids lapped it up and have requested it again. I made it last night for the first time. It was as good as I remember, only better. You remember that I told you I love to add to? Well, I decided that it would be better with different sliced bell peppers, onions, and diced pineapple. You know what, I was right! There were no leftovers to be put away that night. Best of all, one pot to wash. Maybe there is something to those Utah women! Here's the recipe for those of you who have passed it up a time or two.

Apricot Chicken

5-6 large, frozen chicken breast (yes frozen)
1 small jar apricot preserves (I like mine with pineapple in it)
1 small bottle Catalina salad dressing
1 pkg. Lipton onion soup mix
4-5 sweet bell peppers in different colors, sliced
1 sliced onion
1 can of pineapple tidbits, drained

Place all of the ingredients in a crockpot on high for 3 hours. When you get home, start your rice. While rice is cooking, take a metal spatual and shread the chicken into bite size pieces. When rice is done, serve Apricot Chicken over it. Yummy! No need to thaw the chicken. It has just enough water in it to make the chicken tender and not taste like rubber! LOL!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Am By Know Means A Lean Cuisine, But I Am An Improvement!

Okay, I am so excited, I could pee in my pants! This weekend, I had a dinner party to go to. I really haven't bought anything to wear post-maternity. I have lost a little weight, so the jeans that I wore before getting pregnant are too big. Decisions, decisions. In an effort to find a quick solution, I dug deep in my closet and found a pair that I wore 5 years ago. Oops, did I just say that out loud? Admit how long I have been FAT! Guess I did. I only had 30 minutes before we had to be there and the jeans that I tried on looked, as my girls would say, like MOM jeans. Not to mention that they were a tad to short in the length for today's current style.

So, Hayden laughed and said "Mom, why don't you try on my skinny jeans." We both got a chuckle at that one. She was probably only half serious at the time when she suggested it. Sure she is proud of me and knows that I have lost weight, but to actually fit into her jeans. Ummm, NOT! Don't think her mind was ready to wrap around that one yet. I told here that there was NO way, but that I would try it on, just to prove to her that I couldn't. Here is the pee in my pants part! They fit! Not only did they fit, but they weren't too tight either.

The girls were excited for me. My ding dong man didn't even notice. That is okay, because I am going to kidnap his bonus one of these days for a mommy make-over as payback! That and a cooking boycott. Get you some diet-shakes, why don't you! Sure, he tried to clean the egg off of his face after the girls told him. Too late I say, the damage was done. Wink, Wink. I really am only teasing. He isn't a ding, dong, but rather a typical male. Besides, I am so excited that I can fit into her jeans, that I don't care who notices, as long as I know! Go me!

Okay, so since my last post about boot camp, I have lost another 4 pounds, for a total of 20. I am by no means, a Lean Cuisine, but I am a definite improvement. As for Hayden, I fear that her self-esteem has been knocked down just a wee bit. Honest, I didn't mean to. After all, it was her suggestion. I totally get it too! Come on, who wants to be a teenager and have your mom wear your skinny jeans. I would have died at that age. Especially, knowing that my mom has a few more to lose. I am confessing that poor Hayden is on a exercise and weight loss program herself. What do I say? I say good for her and maybe in a few weeks, I won't be able to share her jeans any longer! Go Hayden!
Oh, BTW....the picture of these jeans are SO not me!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cool nights, warm breezy days, pumpkins, the smell of leaves burning, fall foliage, and the wonderful smell of goodies baking are just a few of the reason why I LOVE Fall! Carson, has a October 25th birthday, and is turning 10 this year. So to honor that, I am thinking of having a few of her friends over for a Halloween Birthday Bash. I have experimented with different recipes that I may use for this, and I wanted to share with you a new favorite from Hope this will be a new favorite for you too!

"Trix"ster Treaters
from Baked Perfection

3 tablespoons butter
10 oz. package regular marshmallows
6 cups Trix cereal (colors separated)
Assorted Candies
Betty Crocker Cookie Icing

Multi-Color instructions:Coat a 9 x 13 x 2 pan with cooking spray. In a saucepan, melt butter and marshmallows over low heat, stirring occasionally until completely melted. Remove from the heat. Add Trix cereal and stir until completely coated. Using a greased spatula, evenly press mixture into the prepared pan. Cool completely and decorate with assorted candies and sprinkles. Use icing to attach candies. Color Variations:In a saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter and 12 marshmallows over low heat, stirring occasionally until completely melted. Remove from the heat. Add 2 cups of desired color Trix cereal and stir until completely coated. Using a greased spatula, evenly press mixture into the prepared pan. Cool completely and decorate with assorted candies and sprinkles. Use icing to attach candies.