October 27, 2010

Christmas countdown!

I am so excited to say this....I am about 90% done with my Christmas shopping!! Jealous? I have a few of the last minute things left, which I will save until later because I actually enjoy doing a little holiday shopping in December.  Not the kind where I have to wrestle other parents to get the "it" toy for my kid, but things like stocking stuffers and such.  The only thing I don't have prepared for the holidays?  Christmas cards.  Some years I look forward to writing out tons of cards, some years (and this is one of them) I want something that's pretty much done for me (but still looks just as nice.)  I love the look of the photo cards that everyone sends out, but usually I'm too cheap to buy them.  This year I found a great deal at Shutterfly.  Right now they are offering 20% off all Christmas cards, just use this link.  The hardest part was picking out the one that I wanted, there are way too many cute ones.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

It is so easy, I literally typed out our names and uploaded a photo.

I'm not going to tell you which one I ended up with, what fun would that be?!!?  I have some top-secret photos picked out just for these cards too.  Shutterfly also has matching address labels.  And if you're lucky like me and have a near-Christmas baby, check out these cute birth announcements!  I've purchased photo books from Shutterfly in the past and the quality on them was amazing, so I am anxious to get my cards in the mail!

October 17, 2010

Cooking monster...

...not to be confused with Cookie Monster. I have really been cooking a lot these past few days, I have found so many recipes that I wanted to try.  Especially this time of year, when it's not too hot to have the oven on all day and of course the fact that there are apples and pumpkins everywhere!  Today I made some pumpkin butter.  It doesn't have butter in it like you may think, it's more like apple butter.  It wasn't my recipe, I found it here, the only changes I made were using organic brown sugar, pumpkin, and apple juice.  It turned out great, although it was not as thick as I was expecting.  I tried it hot off the stove on a piece of toast and it was amazing.  Most of it ended up in the freezer, awaiting it's fate....pumpkin pancakes! 

Speaking of butter, did you know you can make your own?  And did you know that it's pretty much the easiest thing in the world to make?  It isn't cost-effective though, it's not cheaper to make it yourself.  But it tastes better, and we make it to keep for our guilty pleasure....buttered popcorn.  All you need is heavy cream and a jar.  I used an old, clean Miracle Whip jar.  Put the cream in, and shake it till your arms fall off.  I used one of the little boxes of organic cream and it ended up making about 3/4 of a stick of butter and 3/4 cup of buttermilk.  Yeah, that's the bonus, you not only get butter but buttermilk too (which I saved to use in pancakes.)  As you shake it it gets really thick and coats the jar.  You will shake it and it will feel like you are doing nothing, but keep shaking!  If you look at the jar you will notice after that it starts to "peel" away from the side and you eventually have a big old lump and that's it.  But don't stop, keep shaking till all of the buttermilk separates and it sounds juicy :)    Just pour out the buttermilk into a container, rinse the butter with really cold water a few times, and then I take the butter out and give it a good squeeze.  That way you'll get out all of the liquid.  If you want it salted, add some salt and then pop it in the fridge till you need it.  Just a warning though, if you melt it in the microwave, like we do for our popcorn, it melts much faster then store-bought butter, so keep an eye on it.

Jason's video game marathon was yesterday (they did great, more on that when they have final totals!) so I was in charge of whipping up unhealthy snacks for the guys.  They had monkey bread, spicey Chex mix, chocolate chip cookies, and soft pretzels.  I must have been in a crazy cooking mood because the next day I made chili, chicken noodle soup, applesauce bread, and a few other things I've already forgotten about.   I've already got my list put together of what "snacks" I'm making for Christmas.  We always put together a little goody bag for our neighbor and some friends.  Can you believe it's only 2 months till Christmas!?!??!?!?!

October 7, 2010


Not to brag, but I'm pretty sure the spaghetti that I made last night was the best ever created.  Don't buy it?  Ok, but it was REALLY good!  I'll post the recipe down below, in case you are feeling inspired to try it. 

October is an incredibly busy month for us.  We probably had 4 things on our calendar all year (yes, we are boring people.)  But this month I have something every weekend and most weeks.  First we had our garage sale last weekend.  It went great!  I had half of my basement full of totes and boxes to sell.  When it was over, I cleaned it up to fit in SIX rubbermaid totes.  I don't think I'll even have enough for a sale next year.  I did end up donating the remainder of our clothes to Goodwill.  They've been through 3 sales now and people aren't even looking at them any more.  Aside from getting rid of our stuff, we made a whopping $300 just on our stuff.  Not bad considering it was all JUNK this time around.

Later this week I am volunteering at a Walk-A-Thon at the school, and this weekend Miriam has a play date. And I get a grown-up night out with a friend!  Next week I have more volunteer activities and we have teacher conferences.  

Jason's video gaming marathon is also sneaking up on us this month!  It's not too late to donate people!  I'm sure he is looking forward to this, since he can't play a lot of his video games at home with the kiddos around.  We got one kid that would probably be scared and start crying, and another that would probably grab the nearest "weapon" (aka anything he can reach) and imitate the violence. 

I think the week I am most excited about those is at the end of the month!  We are going to see Roger Waters perform The Wall live!  Even if you aren't into Pink Floyd (I was never a huge fan) you have to admit it would be amazing to see a musical legend live!  That week we are also going to a new Rifftrax Live, this time a Halloween inspired show!  Along with trick-or-treating (or as it's called here Begger's Night) it should be a great week.

Oh yeah, and we have family pictures this month too.  I am clearly not excited for that though.  It will be Jason's family, and I'm pretty sure that 2 of the 3 children in the picture will be either screaming or running away in each picture. 

And for those that made it this far, here is the spaghetti recipe!  We both think that it's even better reheated, so try making it ahead of time if you get the chance!  It started with a recipe that I found on Krafts website, then I tweeked it to fit our taste:

1 small onion, diced (we use a little less)
1/4 C Sun-dried Tomato Vinaigrette (Kraft makes this, can also use Italian)
1 lb ground beef
1 15oz can of diced tomatoes (we used the ones seasoned with basil, etc)
1 15oz can of tomato sauce
oregano and basil to taste
2 T of cream cheese (the secret weapon in this recipe!)
12 oz pasta

Cook the pasta.  Saute the onion in the vinaigrette until it's slightly softened.  Add the ground beef and cook till it's done. Add the tomaotes/sauce and seasonings and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the cream cheese and stir till it's mixed it.  Mix in the pasta and Voila!  This makes quite a bit, I would say 6-8 adult servings.  The recipe calls for the Italian dressing but we didn't really care for the taste of it, so I tried the Sun-dried tomato stuff because I had it for another recipe, and it was SOOOO good.