Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Turkey

I posted about putting the bird on the grill and freeing up the oven. Here is one of three turkey's we are grilling this year. We love how juicy it tastes. The gravy I make with the drippings has such a great flavor! Turkey's will still be a great price between now and Christmas. Give it a try!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Photo Christmas Cards

I got my Christmas cards from FedEx today! They look great. The paper is a little thinner than what I'm used to, but I'm not complaining since they were totally and completely free. The quality is otherwise fantastic! I'm very pleased. If you haven't ordered your 100 free photo cards, it's not too late! You have until November 30th. I ordered mine late Thursday night and got them today (Tuesday). Not too bad! Three business days for free shipping, free cards, free envelopes. Freeeeeeeeeeeeee!

If you need the info on how to order your own, scroll down two posts. Now....if only the postage was free......

Friday, November 20, 2009

Free Photo Christmas Cards

I don't usually post deals that I've found on my favorite couponing website, but this one is going to be gone soon and something that almost everyone uses.

You can get 100 Photo Christmas cards including envelopes for absolutely nothing. Shipping is included as well.Just sign up at Seehere (Fuji Films website) and follow the instructions from this wonderful post!

Hurry!! You only have until the 30th to order them. I ordered mine last night. It took me a while to get my card set up because the website didn't agree with my version of explorer...but I did finish it up. It cost me nothing, and this morning I got an email letting me know it shipped already!!
Unless their paying you to let them make your can't beat this deal!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkey BBQ style

Growing up, we cooked our turkey on the bbq. It began when I was young and we were living somewhere with a oven too small to fit the turkey. Dad put it on the grill. It was the most wonderfully tender and juicy turkey we'd ever had and a new tradition was born!

Besides the best tasting turkey ever, grilling it frees up the hottest commodity on Thanksgiving - the oven! It makes preparing the meal so much easier, not having to work around a turkey in the oven for 4 hours.

If you're brave enough to give it a try this year, you won't be disappointed! Here is the information you need, provided by Weber BBQ:


Thanksgiving recipes we love!

These are tried and true, must-have favorites at our house for Thanksgiving. I posted our Apricot stuffing recipe in a previous post. At our house, it's about flavor....and we save the healthy for another day!

By far, the biggest must-have is the Turkey! We grill it on our Weber. See this post for details:

Sweet Potato Soufflé

3 large sweet potatoes cooked and whipped
1 cup sugar
2 eggs beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 bag marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Peel and cook potatoes until tender. Drain potatoes and whip. Add sugar, eggs, salt, butter, milk and vanilla. Mix well and put in a greased 1 1/2 quart casserole. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 25 minutes. Place marshmallows and pecans on top and return to oven for about 5 minutes or until brown on top.

Cranberry Chutney

1 cup water
3/4 cup white sugar
1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries
1 cup apple - peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
In a medium saucepan combine the water and sugar. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. Add the cranberries, apples, cider vinegar, raisins and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes stirring often.
Pour mixture into a mixing bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the sauce. Cool to room temperature and serve or cover and refrigerate. Bring chutney to room temperature before serving.

Layered Fruit "Salad"

2 cups crushed pretzels
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar

Middle layer:
1 large container (12-16oz) Cool whip
8oz cream cheese
¼ cup sugar

2 cups water
1 large box strawberry Jell-O
20 oz frozen strawberries or other berries


Preheat oven to 400.
Combine crust ingredients and press into 9x13 pan. Cook for 10 mins.
Meanwhile, combine middle layer ingredients and spread on cooled crust.
Boil water, Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water. Remove from heat and dump frozen berries into Jell-O. Place in fridge until soft-set (about 5-6 mins.) Pour over cream cheese layer carefully. Refrigerate for at least one hour. (Easy to make ahead and store in fridge overnight)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

White Elephant Gift Exchange

A White Elephant is an item that is unwanted by it's owner, or whose maintenance exceeds it value. Traditionally a gift that you would give as a white elephant would be something that someone else may enjoy or could put to better use than you have. That being said, my experience is that gifts at a White Elephant gift exchange are usually a gag gift, or food item, such as candy. There are usually a few items in the mix that are so useless that the new owner is not pleased with the chore of having to get rid of it on their own. These sometimes make it back to the gift exchange held in a following year. Items that are of value (either by popularity or actual value) get the highest amount of "stealing".

If you are planning to hold an exchange, here are the basic "rules":

1. Decide if you will have a theme for the gifts. Gift should be used in good condition, or purchased for set amount.
2. Set a monetary value for items that are purchased (ie $5). White Elephant gifts should be inexpensive.
3. Gifts must be wrapped, but not labeled in any way, so as not to disclose whom they are from.
4. Gifts should be something that someone would actually use or want.
5. Designate an area that guest can put their gifts as they arrive, so those already present cannot see who them are from.

To play the game:
Each guest who wants to participate must contribute a gift. Everybody sits in a circle with the gifts in the center. Prepare pieces of paper with numbers clearly written on them, one number per paper. There should be the same amount of numbers as their are participants. Each guest should then draw a number (from a hat or bowl).

The game begins with number one. That guest picks a gift from the center. They must keep the first gift they touch. There is no shaking gifts, etc. They open the gift and show it to all in attendance. It is now number two's turn. Number two has the option of stealing the gift from number one, or picking a new gift from the center. If they steal from number one, number one must go back to the center for a new gift. A gift cannot be immediately stolen back from the guest who just stole it. Number three then begins, but either stealing from one or two, or going to the center for a new gift.

Continue playing following the rules outlined below:

1. In a single round, gifts can be stolen twice, and the third person must go back to the center for a new gift (ie. 5 steals from 3, 3 steals from 4, 4 goes to the center) A new round begins when a gift is opened from the center.
2. A single gift can only be stolen three times. The person who stole it for the third time (the fourth owner- because the person originally opening the gift is number 1) keeps the gift and it becomes "dead".
3. Any gift that is still "live" must be out where it can be seen, and there is no consuming of any edible gift until the game is over.
4. When the last number has had their turn and the gift stealing has ended, the guest holding slip number 1 may swap evenly across with any one guest of their choosing. Play ends. Guests are then welcome to swap amongst themselves if desired.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Quiet book page 9

Did you think I gave up on the quiet book? Not a chance! I have been super busy with so many other things going Christmas shopping.
Here is my Autumn page:

Obviously the leaves come off and are attached with very small pieces of Velcro. I sewed some of the leaves to the tree, which I made smaller than the ones that come off. Someday I'll make apples to go on the tree to "harvest", so I wanted some leaves to stay on for that.

The little basket holds leaves, and the grass can be moved and grasped by little fingers.
My little girl tried this page already and loved pulling the leaves off, she also tasted them repetitively....and didn't find them tasty at all. I don't think she enjoyed the Velcro on her tongue.

"Family" for Thanksgiving

Growing up, Thankgiving was a huge deal that involved tons of cousins, aunts, uncles, and fun. It was a big crowd smashed into a small space and we loved every minute of it. We continued the tradition as we all grew up and started our own families.

Then our family moved across the country- away from the huge Thanksgiving festivities. It's pretty expensive to fly a family our size to a weekend event. But it wouldn't be the same with just our family.

Our Thanksgiving tradition is to invite other families who are far from their own to our home for the holiday. We enjoy the time with friends and for a day (sometimes longer) they become our family.

If you are far from your family, adopt someone else in the same boat. Holidays are meant to be shared with others you care about.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Be a kid again

Do something together you loved as a kid...and chances are your kids will love it too! Our favorite is hide and seek. We play it in the house. Sometimes we play it in the dark, other times in the light. Or we'll switch it up and play sardines. Most of the time we play for hours until it's bedtime or someone gets hurt.

Games we love are; go fish, slapjack, duck duck goose (proves interesting with older kids), tag, train game (with dominoes), jump rope, musical chairs -with many variations, and red light- green light.

We still love to make blanket forts, rice krispie treats, cookies, and s'mores- which we make in the oven if the weather doesn't agree with our plans.

Horsey rides and wrestling around on the floor are some of the kids favorite things to do as well. When we all get together- the older kids coming for a visit, we watch movies all night and quote them the next day. We can't get enough of the Emperors New Groove.

But the place you will find us the most, is hanging around the island in the kitchen making/eating/stealing food from each other while laughing and having a great time.

Family Time really is about that. Being a family.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Apricot Stuffing

This is our family's favorite stuffing! It taste great and has a nice tangy flavor to it from the apricots. Give it a try this Holiday season.

Apricot Stuffing

1 box stuffing mix (like Stovetop)
15 oz can apricots with juice, chopped and juice reserved
3 TBS apricot jam
½ stick butter

Pour juice from apricots into measuring cup and add water to make 1 2/3 cups liquid. Pour into saucepan. Add butter and heat on medium high until butter melts. Add jam and stir until melted. Add chopped apricots and continue to heat until boiling. Stir in stuffing mix, cover with lid and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff and serve.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Christmas Gift Exchange

*I'm posting this ideas now in case anyone wants to adopt it into their own Christmas plans*

Every year among the regular gift giving, our family has a gift exchange. We are assigned a person in our immediate family and are charged with the task of MAKING a gift for that person. We don't really have a set amount that we are allowed to spend on whatever supplies are needed, and there really aren't any other restrictions other than it has to be made by you.

Little ones too young to make things themselves have had help from mom or dad. Some things we've done for preschoolers and under: Hand prints...on an apron, shirt, etc. Picture collages of that child (would be nice with them placed around a piece of art made by them as well). Sticky back gems place on a frame of a mirror. A decorative candy jar with colorful candy art layered inside.
Other things that have been made by our family members to give each other are:

Rice sock
Puppet theater and puppets
Cloth Tee Pee
Road rug for toy cars to drive on
Decorated wooden jewelry box (can be purchased at craft store then decorated)
Decorated magnetic memo board
Recipe file

There are so many ideas on the Internet and in books on homemade gifts and the possibilities are endless.

This is our favorite part of Christmas morning. We open the homemade gifts together. It has really changed the way we think about gift giving. There is so much thought, time and love put into these gifts and they are always received very well. I think the biggest joy comes from making them.
Do you have any gift giving traditions?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rain Painting

I posted this on my family blog a while back, so this may be a repeat for some of my readers.

A great rainy day activity that may make your kids hope for rain!

I read about a great rainy day activity in Family Fun magazine (or maybe it was Parenting...) and we gave it a try.

Use water based markers- like crayola washables. Make a drawing on a piece of paper or cardstock. Your picture should cover the entire page. I found that skipping on any black or brown is a must, and that you shouldn't do anything too detailed- even petals on flowers can be a rough shape. My kids had a great time making their pictures, although I had to color in a lot on my 4 year old's page because it was too much for him to do on his own.

When you are done drawing the picture, you take it out in the rain. I placed them on cake cooling racks to keep them out of the pooling water. Let them get rained on as much as you'd like to make the desired effect. Then bring them inside to dry. They look very "Monet"

Next time it's raining, give it a try!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Baby stains

Stains are a fact of life when you have a baby. I know some folks who have given up completely on having stain-free baby clothes. Here are some tips to get the stain out and keep baby's clothes looking new.

1. Use a good stain remover. I LOVE Dreft Stain remover. If I could find it around here, I'd still be using Totally Toddler.

2. Wash protein stains in cold water. That's milk/formula, meat products, (blood-hopefully not an issue with baby), etc.

3. Wash veggie based stains in hot water. Vegetables, fruits, grains, etc.

4. Don't dry stained clothing in a dryer until you are satisfied with the results of stain removal. The heat from the dryer will set the stain. If you need finish trying to remove the stain at another time, line dry.

5. Spot bleach what you can't get out in the washer. **** I take no responsibility for what happens to your baby's clothes using this method. I use it when it comes down to having a stain or possibly having a bleach mark.****
Use a q-tip dipped in bleach to apply to stain directly on color safe fabrics. Rinse generously taking care to ONLY expose the stained area to the bleach, not allowing water to run down garment. Wash again without other clothing.

6. Wash clothes that have a "permanent" smell to them with vinegar. Pour it into the compartment for bleach. This also is a great way to remove smells from dish cloths and dish towels.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Quiet book inspiration...and so much more

I should never had happened upon this blog because it has caused hours of creativity and a list of projects that I want to do instead of things I SHOULD be laundry. But here is my official applaud for a blog well done and more wonderful ideas than I will ever have time to do.

PS- I am so making that little house for my little girl's first birthday!

homemade by jill: the finished quiet book

Asian Chicken Salad

My family loves this recipe so much we have it once a week and there are never any leftovers. Everytime I take it to a potluck or serve it to guests, they ask for the recipe. I've changed the recipe several times over the years, and this is the one that gets rave reviews! The wonton noodles are not chow mein noodles. I have only found them at our local Weis supermarket, but I bet you could also find them at any Asian market.

Let me know if you like it!

Asian Chicken Salad
1 lb chicken breast cooked and chopped
1 head iceberg lettuce thinly sliced
¼ cup green onions, chopped
2 cans mandarin oranges
½ cup slivered almonds
1 T sesame seeds, toasted
1 package wonton noodles (the cooked type)

¾ C rice vinegar
1 T sesame oil
½ C either brown sugar, white sugar or honey
1 T either plum or hoisen sauce

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients and heat on high stirring constantly. When sauce begins to boil, continue to stir and heat until it becomes bubbly and foams on top (approx ½-1 min). Remove from heat. Do not continue to heat or the vinegar will evaporate and you will lose the tangy flavor.

Toss all ingredients in salad bowl and pour sauce over it. Serve immediately.
Approx. 6 servings as a main dish

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Quiet book page 8

This is now my favorite page! I am a huge s'mores fan. I tried to think of what would portrait summer for us, and s'more won as the favorite thing of summer. We love to camp, but make s'more at home too.

The page lays flat of course.

But then the fire and tent can stand up.
The fire quietly "crackles" when the flame is wiggled. (crackly plastic is inside)

Marshmallows and chocolate bars hide in the tent which attaches with velcro.

The graham crackers and roasting stick hide in the sleeping bag which is sewn on two sides and and a quarter way across the top. They fit in quite snug.

The marshmallows can lay flat and are "roasted" on one side, and fresh on the other.

They can be folded in half and attached with velcro around the stick.

I may make some little bears to "play" on this page as well, but am calling it done for now.

Quiet book page 7

I've been busy with other things lately and a sick kid at home. My quiet book got pushed off of the priority list!

I am working on a page for each season. Here is spring!

All of the flowers unbutton and the leaf on the left lifts up to see a butterfly underneath.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thanksgiving appetizers

One of my favorite traditions for Thanksgiving when I was a kid was the "appetizer" we were given at the beginning of the meal. Each child was given a cup full of fruit cocktail with lemon-lime soda. It was a delight! Little did I know at the time, that while we kids were having our special treat, it allowed our parents time to fill both their own plates and a plate for those of us who couldn't fill our own. The older kids served up themselves while parents began eating and tending to younger children's needs.

Another benefit of the brilliant plan, was that the adults had first pick of the meal, and were then guaranteed to get a bit of jello goodness and candied sweet potatoes that were always devoured by children who took triple portions in lieu of creamed spinach and green bean casserole.

What holiday family traditions do you enjoy?