Archive for December, 2011

  • Teacher Gifts!

    Date: 2011.12.19 | Category: Christmas, saving money | Response: 0

    I saw this idea on Pinterest several months ago and I knew it was what I was going to do for teacher gifts this year.

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    Don’t those look delightful?  Since I always make fudge I thought these would be perfect.  I found a cute set of cookie cutters 75% off at Hob Lob and decided to make two flavors, Peppermint Fudge and Orange Almond Fudge for each teacher.

    Here’s how mine turned out.

    Peppermint

    Orange Almond

    I learned a few lessons in the process that I’ll keep in mind for next year.  I think I slightly overfilled the cookie cutters- next time I’ll leave a little more space on top.  I was also worried that the fudge would dry out in the fridge overnight, so I used press n seal on top, but then I ended up with some smudges and texture from the press n seal on the “pretty” side.  Oops. Next time I think I’ll put the foil in a tupperware or something for while it sets up in the fridge.  I decided to leave the snowman and star plain while I decorated the tree and the snowflake with some crushed candy cane.  Had the texture been smooth and pretty it would have been even better!  In the picture above I have the star and snowman flipped over so you are seeing the bottom- sadly it’s the prettier side with the marks from the press n seal on the other side.  Oh well- it’s still yummy!

    I wrapped each cookie cutter in a baggie  and paired it with a coordinating pot holder.  Oh, and here’s a simple trick for little bags of treats- grab a fold top sandwich bag and use scissors to cut up the seam where the fold is.  Then place your treat inside and tie off the top with some curling ribbon.  It’s much less expensive than buying bags designed for gifting!

    Hopefully Ms. Sherri and Ms. Connie will enjoy their treats!

  • Book Review and Giveaway- the Money $aving Mom’s Budget

    Date: 2011.12.18 | Category: book review, giveaway!, saving money | Response: 68

    THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!

    One of my favorite blogs is MoneySavingMom.com.  Crystal offers tons of money saving tips, from shopping deals, to ways to earn extra income, to ways to budget and spend less.  I have saved so much money by using her site this past year!  Needless to say, when I heard she was coming out with a book I was excited.  And when I found out I could get a copy of her book for free by writing a review for it on my blog I was even more excited!

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    The Money $aving Mom’s Budget is full of practical advice and helpful hints to help anyone start saving money.  Her plan is simple and easy to understand.  She provides detailed instructions on how to implement a budget, how to save money when shopping, how to simplify your life and how to switch to a cash only lifestyle.  She makes it easy to start small and adds new steps only when you’re ready to move on to the next level- which means you won’t burn out after only a few months from being so overwhelmed.  She also provides worksheets and appendices to get you started.

    I found that this book is a nice complement to her blog.  It takes a step back and starts with the basics to help you maximize the information she provides daily on MoneySavingMom.com.  I highly recommend it for anyone who is ready to take control of their finances.

    And guess what?  I have one copy of her book to give away to one of you!  Winning is easy.  Just comment on this post and let me know that you’d like to win.  This giveaway will be open until noon on December 23.

    Happy reading!

    Legal disclaimerese- I was given this book to review by Crystal Paine at no cost to me.  The opinions expressed in this review are strictly my own!

  • Menu Plan Dec 18-24

    Date: 2011.12.17 | Category: meal plan | Response: 0

    What are we having for dinner this week?

    Sunday- hmm- maybe leftovers?  We have an event at church and I have to be there at 4.  Who knows what will happen!

    Monday- crescent roll quiche

    Tuesday- mushroom garlic artichoke chicken

    Wednesday- split pea soup

    Thursday- Mexican casserole

    Friday- dinner with friends

    Saturday- Christmas Eve!  I think I’m making cranberry pork loin

  • Homemade Fudge

    Date: 2011.12.15 | Category: recipes | Response: 1

    I know that last year I mentioned one of my favorite Christmas treats is homemade fudge.  I usually make a peppermint and an orange fudge.  Well, this year I added a new type for my beloved husband who loves white chocolate… white chocolate vanilla fudge that I found on one of my favorite food blogs.  (I think it tastes too much like vanilla frosting.  My hubby says it’s just perfect.  It has me thinking though about using cream cheese frosting or something else.)  When I made the orange fudge this year I got a little crazy and switched out the vanilla extract for almond extract.  It’s a winner!  I really like the creamy texture with the orange almond flavor.  I’m also a better blogger this year, so I took pictures before we devoured the entire batch!

    Here are the recipes with pictures this time!

    Peppermint Chocolate Fudge

    1 pkg Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips
    1/2 pkg Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips
    1 can sweetened condensed milk
    dash of salt
    1/2 tsp peppermint extract
    1/4 cup crushed candy canes

    Melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk in the microwave at 50% power for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30-60 seconds.  Stir in all other ingredients.  Spread in a foil lined 8×8 baking dish.


    Chocolate Orange Fudge

    1 1/2 pkgs Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips
    1 can sweetened condensed milk
    3 TBS chocolate syrup
    1/2 tsp orange extract
    1 tsp almond extract

    Melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk in the microwave at 50% power for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30-60 seconds.  Stir in all other ingredients.  Spread in a foil lined 8×8 baking dish.


    Vanilla Peppermint Fudge

    1 (12 ounce) package of white chocolate chips or high quality white chocolate bar
    1 (16 ounce) container vanilla frosting
    1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
    8 drops red food coloring
    2 Tablespoons crushed peppermint candies

    Line an 8X8 pan with foil
    Melt white chocolate chips in a double boiler or melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval.
    Stir the frosting into the white chocolate chips.  Stir in peppermint extract. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Drop 8 drops of food coloring evenly spaced on top of the fudge. Using a knife swirl the food coloring. Sprinkle top of fudge with crushed peppermint candies and press down slightly.

    For each recipe, chill at least 2 hours. Turn fudge onto a cutting board and peel off foil.  Cut into small squares (I use a pizza roller).
    Store in a tightly sealed container at room temp.

    Can you just imagine all the yumminess here at our house?  Fudge also makes a great gift!  Check back in a few days to see how I made teacher gifts for JT’s preschool teachers.

    Yum!

  • Super Hero Capes!

    Date: 2011.12.12 | Category: crafts | Response: 0

    I saw this idea on Pinterest and decided it would be a perfect gift for the kids this Christmas- especially since I had all those huge tee shirts from my brother.

    I made 4 capes- one for each of my younger nephews and for my kids.  Cutting them out took only a couple of minutes (literally less than 5 minutes), so I decided to embellish them with an emblem and each kid’s initial from the scraps.  And of course that is when my sewing machine decided not to work.  Oh yes, my brand new, 3 month old, I’ve hardly used it but I love it, new sewing machine.  So after a frustrating few hours I decided to iron on the embellishments.  (I plan to go back and sew everything in place as soon as my machine is repaired- under warranty, thankfully!)

    Ready for the big reveal?  I think they turned out so fun!

    Here’s an up close look at the detail- I just freehanded everything, so they’re not perfect.

    We celebrated an early Christmas yesterday with my brother’s family, so here are a few pictures of the kids with their capes.  They were a hit!

    Of course it was IMPOSSIBLE to get a picture of all four kids in their capes.  Maybe someday… when they are all grown?

    Happy crafting!

  • Menu Plan December 10-17

    Date: 2011.12.10 | Category: meal plan | Response: 0

    What are we having for dinner this week?

    Sunday- we’re having a big lunch to celebrate early Christmas with my brother’s family- I don’t know what will happen come dinner time!

    Monday- easy chicken parm

    Tuesday- dinner out with Chris’ old roommate

    Wednesday- Italian Chicken crockpot

    Thursday- leftovers

    Friday- Chris’ work party at our house!

    Saturday- mushroom garlic chicken with artichokes

  • Lasagna Soup

    Date: 2011.12.04 | Category: recipes | Response: 0

    I decided to try this soup recipe that I found on pinterest because we love lasagna and we love soup and man it’s cold outside!  Of course I made just a few changes.  We skipped the bell pepper and the red pepper altogether because we’re not fans.  I added some frozen spinach and a can of sliced olives.  And I might have tripled the cheese.  But it actually could have done with a little less- it was awfully stringy!  Maybe one cup next time.  Well, it turned out just as yummy as it looked so I thought I’d pass the recipe on to you.

    1 pound Italian sausage
    1 onion, diced
    3 cloves garlic, crushed

    1 cup frozen chopped spinach
    32 oz chicken broth (I used homemade turkey stock)
    15 oz tomato sauce
    1 (14 oz) can petite diced tomatoes (do not drain)
    1 can sliced olives

    4 oz lasagna noodles, broken into bite size pieces

    1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
    1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
    3 TBS parmesan cheese

    Brown sausage with onion and garlic in a large nonstick stockpot.
    Add next 5 ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Add the noodles and return to a boil, then simmer 10-12 minutes until soup starts to thicken and noodles are cooked.
    Remove from heat and stir in basil and cheeses.
    Serve with additional parmesan and with breadsticks if desired.

    yum!

  • Menu Plan Dec 4-10

    Date: 2011.12.03 | Category: meal plan | Response: 0

    What are we having for dinner this week?

    Sunday- dinner with my brother and sister in law

    Monday- easy chicken parm

    Tuesday- lasagna soup

    Wednesday- Cuban pork

    Thursday- leftovers

    Friday- mama has a Christmas party so dad and the kids are on their own!

    Saturday- mushroom garlic chicken with artichokes

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