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Thursday, November 30, 2006

SLOW COOKING THURSDAY!!!


For my entry today in the Slow Cooking Thursday extravaganza (can I call it that??), I've got our family's FAVORITE Christmas cider!!

I make this every year for our church when we go Christmas caroling (yes, people still do that). We go out singing Christmas songs and return to the church to enjoy cookies and Hot Spiced Cranberry Cider! YUM!! I'm sooo looking forward to it! Wish y'all could join us.

Hot Spiced Cranberry Cider
2 quarts apple cider
6 cups cranberry juice
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 tsp. whole cloves
1 lemon, thinly sliced

Combine all in the crockpot. Cook on "high" for about 30 minutes. I then turn the setting to "keep warm" until we return to the church. Be sure and remove the cloves and cinnamon sticks before serving.

For more ideas for your crock pot, visit here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mom!!!!


My mother is the dearest person I know. She has set a godly example for me to follow in all areas of my life- in following my husband, in being a mother, in being a lady, in following the Lord in all areas.

Mom, I am so incredibly blessed to have you as a mother!! Thank the Lord for His wonderful plans!!!

A Mother Like I Want to Be

Each year I’m extra happy on your birthday;
Your day reminds me of God’s gift to me--
A mom who gave her all to raise me right,
A mother like the one I want to be.
J.F.

*Note: November's flower is the Chrysanthemum!!

Whatever happened to the handkerchief?


Does anyone know whatever happened to the handkerchief? I love watching old movies and seeing ladies remove a beautiful handkerchief from their purse to dab their eyes or even wipe a little dirt off of a child's face. I remember watching You've Got Mail and the character Meg Ryan played was astonished that a young girl had no idea what a handkerchief was!

I have never carried a handkerchief. I know that my dad keeps one (or used to) in his suit pocket, but that's a manly handkerchief and they usually are just plain white. A handkerchief for a lady is flowery or embroidered or lace-edged. You know, lovely.

I did a little online research and found this site about the history of the handkerchief:

A handkerchief is a small, square, thin cloth used for wiping.

The pocket handkerchief is in fact only 400 years old. It was the idea of a Venetian lady to cut a square out of pure flax and then decorate it with lace. She showed it to the people in a public garden, where the delicate handkerchief excited the general curiosity of the onlookers.

From Italy, the handkerchief soon crossed the Alps and spread through France where it was found to be a great success with the Lords and Ladies in the court of Henry II. The handkerchief of this period was made with the most expensive fabrics, adorned with embroidery and were objects of great luxury.

In 1850, Germany adopted the handkerchief ,but it was only used by royalty and the aristocrats.

Until 18th century, the handkerchief came in many forms. One day at Versailles, Marie-Antoinette made the observation that the square form would be more convenient and pleasing. Louis XVI published a decree ordering the length of handkerchiefs produced in the kingdom would be equal to their width. Now 150 years later the handkerchiefs are being replaced by tissue ones.


I'll let you know that the quote is from India's national newspaper site. Are they the only country to care about handkerchiefs? Does no one else use them anymore??

I also did some checking into the history of Kleenex. Very interesting.

In 1924, the Kleenex brand of facial tissue was first introduced. Kleenex tissue was invented as a means to remove cold cream. Early advertisements linked Kleenex to Hollywood makeup departments and sometimes included endorsements from movie stars (Helen Hayes and Jean Harlow) who used Kleenex to remove their theatrical make-up with cold cream.

Kleenex and Noses
By 1926, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, the manufacturer of Kleenex, became intrigued by the number of letters from customers stating that they used their product as a disposable handkerchief.

A test was conducted in the Peoria, Illinois newspaper. Ads were run depicting the two main uses of Kleenex; either as a means to remove cold cream or as disposable handkerchief for blowing noses. The readers were asked to respond. Results showed that 60% used Kleenex tissue for blowing their nose. By 1930, Kimberly-Clark had changed the way they advertised Kleenex and sales doubled proving that the customer is always right.

Kleenex Trivia
In 1928, the familiar pop-up tissue cartons with a perforated opening was introduced. In 1929, colored Kleenex tissue was introduced and a year later printed tissues. In 1932, pocket packs of Kleenex were introduced.


So it appears that people started using Kleenex because they preferred to use them to blow their noses. Kleenexes can be thrown away and you don't have to worry about washing them. But there is no beauty, no femininity in a box of Kleenex, is there? Truly, taking care of handkerchiefs in this day and age is quite simple- just launder them! At least 7 handkerchiefs should suffice to see you through the week and you will launder the used ones as you go. Much more beautiful, wouldn't you say?

So what about you? Do you use handkerchiefs? To be honest with you, I do not. I have been looking for some, but I am not aware of any stores from which to purchase them. Please, if you know where I may attain some, let me know. I think this is just a small way that I can add a touch of femininity to my life.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Cooking essentials- microplane zester/grater



I LOVE my Microplane!!!!! I use it for everything from fresh ginger, to hard cheese like Parmesan, to zesting an orange, lemon or lime!!!



According to the Microplane website, "originally a woodworking tool, this best seller grates even the hardest Parmesan Reggiano as well as other hard cheeses into fine lacy wisps. Ideal for topping your favorite spaghetti and meatballs or a Caesar salad. It’s also wonderful for effortless citrus zesting to add natural flavors to a lemon crème brulee or a basic vinaigrette."

I used to attempt to use my box grater on the "small" holes to zest citrus fruit, but the zest would always come out too large. This microplane does the job quickly and creates a small, fine zest!! Also, it is much quicker to pull this out when a recipe calls for fresh ginger then to chop it by hand. I LOVE my microplane and cannot recommend it enough to others!!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Happy Birthday to my sister!!!!



This photo is of my sister and me when she is only 10 days old. Even then, I was proud as a peacock of her!!!

Today as she turns _____ (haha!! Now y'all don't think I want to get in TROUBLE do you??) I want to tell her HAPPY BIRTHDAY and let her know that she is the BEST sister in all the world!!! Thank you for showing me an awesome example of what walking with Jesus Christ is all about.

I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love,
Your big sister :)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Be Thou My Vision



In this age of materialism (and yes, I can easily get as caught up in it as you), I don't want my focus to be on myself or on the stuff I think can make me happy. I want my focus to be on the Lord Jesus Christ, the Author and Perfector of our faith.

May this sweet hymn swirl around and around in your head all season long.

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee, Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle-shield, sword for my fight,
Be Thou my dignity, Thou my delight.
Thou my soul's shelter, Thou my high tower.
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heav'ns Son!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O ruler of all.

Ancient Irish hymn, possibly from the 8th Century, tr. by Mary E. Byrne

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!!!!




I hope everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving this year! I've so much to be thankful for- but most of all I am thankful that the Lord chose to save me and make me His own.

Now for something we should all read each year...

The Thanksgiving Story

The Pilgrims who sailed to this country aboard the Mayflower were originally members of the English Separatist Church (a Puritan sect). They had earlier fled their home in England and sailed to Holland (The Netherlands) to escape religious persecution. There, they enjoyed more religious tolerance, but they eventually became disenchanted with the Dutch way of life, thinking it ungodly. Seeking a better life, the Separatists negotiated with a London stock company to finance a pilgrimage to America. Most of those making the trip aboard the Mayflower were non-Separatists, but were hired to protect the company's interests. Only about one-third of the original colonists were Separatists...(to continue)...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Cooking essentials- the vegetable peeler


According to Epicurious.com, a vegetable peeler is "a kitchen utensil designed to peel away the outer skin of vegetables. Vegetable peelers come in many designs and are made from a variety of materials. The better ones have a swivel-action blade that conforms to the contour of the vegetable being peeled, thereby cutting away a minimum of skin."

This is what my vegetable peeler looks like...


I remember when my mom was teaching me to peel potatoes. She gave me a small paring knife and, as hard as I tried, I kept taking off too much of the potato!! I tried and tried to just take off the peeling, but my hands weren't doing it properly. Then my mom gave me her vegetable peeler to use!! WOOHOO!! What a world of difference that was!! It took off just the potato skin and left the flesh intact. THANK YOU whoever invented this cooking essential!!!

What I use a vegetable peeler for:
-peeling potatoes of all kinds
-peeling carrots
-peeling parsnips
-peeling the skin off of fresh ginger
-getting "shavings" off of chocolate to make desserts more lovely

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Christmas Cookies!!!!!


Woohoooo for Christmas cookies!!! Susan P. over at A Place Called Home is having a Christmas Cookie Cookbook Contest! Be sure and head over there and tell her you want to enter and be sure and share your favorite Christmas cookie recipe!!!!

My favorite? My 1A favorite are these Cranberry Orange cookies!! They smell and taste just like Christmas! Why 1A? Because my 1B favorite are gingerbread men and I can never make a final decision between the two. HAHA!! I'll be sure and share that recipe later on and I'll even take a picture of them to share!

Cranberry Orange Cookies
6 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 t grated fresh orange peel
3 T thawed frozen orange juice concentrate
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
½ t baking powder
½ t ground cloves
¼ t baking soda
¼ t salt
1 cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Orange icing:
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
3 T unsalted butter, melted
2 T thawed frozen orange juice concentrate

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets or use nonstick or parchment lined cookie sheets.
2) In large bow, with mixer at medium speed, cream together butter and both sugars until light. Add egg, orange peel, and orange juice concentrate, and beat until blended. In another bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cloves, baking soda, and salt. At low speed, add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix until blended. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets.
3) Baked cookies 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.
4) Prepare Orange icing: In bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar, butter and orange juice concentrate until smooth; spread on cooked, cooled cookies. Store cookies, with waxed paper between layers, in tightly covered container.

PS- In case you are wondering about the picture, that is a photo of cranberries being harvested.

Friday, November 17, 2006

My Favorite Cleaning Supplies...


On Susan Godfrey's blog a while back, she asked us to post about our favorite cleaning supplies. I didn't give it much thought because I couldn't think of anything that I really love that I clean with. I wanted to share something that I just can't live without.

Well, last night I cleaned out the kitchen sink. It's stainless steel and gets stained (especially from tea!!!). I poured some baking soda in there, scrubbed around and SHAZAM it's sparkling!!!! Then I was heading to bed and decided to brush my teeth with baking soda to give them an "extra" clean.

Then it hit me... BAKING SODA!!!!!!

Baking soda is a product I use pretty much daily. I HAVE to have a box around to use in cleaning, in removing product build-up in my hair, to keep in the fridge to keep it smelling like a fridge and not all the food in the fridge. I use it in my laundry, I use it in my ICED TEA (a little pinch- not even an 1/8 of a tsp.-takes away that "bitter" aftertaste that some tea can leave). If you haven't used baking soda for more than just baking, check out this and this and see how it can be used more frequently in your home. It's very economical and VERY handy!!!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

SLOW COOKING THURSDAY!!!


This recipe is DELICIOUS!!! A friend at our church makes it and was gracious enough to share it with me. Our family LOVES this stuff! Serve it as an appetizer at your next get-together and you will be a big hit!

Crock Pot Mexican Dip
1 pound lean ground beef
1 large Velveeta Cheese, cubed
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 jar of Pace Picante Sauce

Brown your ground beef in a saute pan on the stove. Drain any grease off, if needed. Put the cooked ground beef in your crock pot (that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray) along with all the other ingredients. Cook on low for about 1 hour and stir occasionally. The crock pot does an EXCELLENT job of keeping this dip nice and warm for your guests.

Serve with tortilla chips, Frito scoop chips or plain flour tortillas.

To get more slow cooker ideas, visit here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Homemaking books...


As you can tell from the title of this blog, I LOVE keeping my home and taking care of my family. My mother is incredibly good at this and I've always wanted to be just like her.

I read a book a few years ago called Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson and learned a great deal from her. I just found out today that Martha Stewart has a new book out called Homekeeping Handbook that sounds like it will be a great teaching tool as well.

I love to read old homemaking books, too. Do you have any favorites that you recommend?

I don't think I can ever learn enough about running our home more efficiently. I want this to be a place that my family wants to be- a place that they just can't wait to be at the end of long day. A place just like my mother created.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Cooking essentials- the flour sifter


This is a flour sifter. Do you have one? Do you use it? I use mine all the time. Sometimes when I am getting flour out to use, it looks a little lumpy. Putting the flour through the sifter aerates the flour and gets any lumps out, making it more fluffy.





According to WhatsCookingInAmerica.net, a sifter is ...



a sieve that is especially adapted for use with flour. It is commonly built
in the form of a metal cup with a screen bottom and contains a mechanism (wires
that either revolve or rub against the screen being operated by a crank or a
lever) to force the flour through the mesh.


Oh, and you should know that there is no need to wash your sifter each time you use it. Just tap it gently over the sink or trash can and shake out any extra flour. I used to wash my first sifter after every use. What happened to it? It rusted. A sweet friend informed me that it was, after all, only flour that I used each time I sifted and there was no reason to wash it all the time.

Happy sifting!!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Freezing Carrots and Celery...


Today Mr. U and I went grocery shopping. We grocery shop on or around the 10th of the month because that is when he gets paid. I like to buy the majority of my groceries for the month on that one day. I do go back later during the month to buy more fresh veggies (such as lettuce or raw spinach) or if I need something to make a special dish if we have friends coming over or an event at church.

One thing that I’ve had a problem with is carrots and celery. I’ll buy huge bags of them on our monthly trip and then I forget about them!! There is no way I’ll use that huge thing of celery or a two pound bag of carrots in a month. I’ve lost PLENTY of these great tasting veggies to forgetfulness on my part. I’ll open the drawer to use them and voila! They are soggy and brown. Sigh.

So, I’ve decided that as soon as I buy them, I’ll immediately chop them up and freeze them!! This has worked WONDERFULLY well!! Whenever I need them for recipes, I just pull out a handful or two and toss it in the pan!! While it does take some time to chop them all, it is great to have them all ready to use at a moments notice!!

What about you? Have you ever lost veggies to spoilage/ forgetfulness?

Note: While this does work well for using in all forms of cooking, if you are going to eat carrots or celery raw, freezing is not the best thing to do with them. When they thaw, they are not the same texture as they are raw- they get kind of mushy. You are better off buying fresh if you are eating them raw.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

One of "those" days...

Do y’all ever have one of “those” days? I woke up feeling great, but as the day progressed, I just grew more and more, well, kind of depressed. It’s been bright and sunny today and usually I get kind of down on cloudy days. Maybe I’m starting to come down with something? Hmmmm….

Whenever I have a day like this, there are some things I know to do:
1) Drink more water!!! If I’m coming down with something, water is the key ingredient needed to hydrate my body and help fight off any germs that may be in my system.
2) Go to bed at a decent hour!!! I am VERY guilty of staying up too late. Sigh. Mr. U can stay up pretty late but that doesn’t mean that I have to stay up with him. I need to head to bed but ESPECIALLY when I’m not feeling quite like myself. It is VERY important to get AT LEAST 8 hours of sleep each night and also to go to bed at a decent hour.
3) Eat raw garlic!!! Yes, I am bringing that up again. Raw garlic is a wonderful “medicine” that the Lord created for helping to fight off germs. (Thank you, Lord, for making it taste good, too!!!)
4) Get in The Word!!!! OH YES!!! This is most important of all!!! Time with the Lord can lift your weary soul and get your eyes off yourself and onto Him! Read! Read! Read!!! Hide His Word in your heart. Drink deeply of His Truth. Jesus is the Living Water, the Bread of Life, the Light of the World. All things were created by Him and through Him. Why NOT go to Him? He made us for His glory and His purposes and He can most certainly make one of “those” days into a glorious day when our hearts and minds are set on Him!!!

So… how have YOU been feeling today?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Cooking essentials- pastry blender


I LOVE LOVE LOVE my pastry blender!!!! When Mr. U and I first married, I tried and tried to make biscuits like my mother does (she can do EVERYTHING!!!!), but I kept failing. I just cannot cut the butter into the flour with two knives like she does. Sigh.



Enter the pastry blender! My life saver!! No more chunks of butter or shortening in the biscuits! Now, it's all perfectly blended together! Hoorah!!

What IS a pastry blender exactly? It is a tool that helps cut the fat (in my case it was butter or shortening) into the flour when making dough (biscuit dough or pie crust, usually for me). It should have a sturdy handle which anchors several rows of steel wires formed into a U-shape.

While it does work marvelously, it is kind of a pain to clean. The mixture will get in between the wires and it makes it a smidge difficult to clean BUT it is WELL worth it- just ask Mr. U.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Did you know...?




Did you know that China, as large as it is, has only ONE time zone? No joke. Go here to read more.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

SLOW COOKING THURSDAY!!!


Yep, it's that time again!! Slow Cooking Thursday!! I always look forward to it. For more slow cooker ideas, visit this blog.

Chicken and Pasta
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 16 ounce container of sour cream
1 package of Lipton Onion Soup mix
1 can of water (use the can from the mushroom soup)
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Mix first four ingredients together until blended. Pour 1/2 of the mixture into the crock pot and then add the chicken breasts. Top with the remaining mixture. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours. Serve over your favorite pasta.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

One busy family and some really, really good brownies!!!

Our family has been very busy lately! Phew!! Not even enough time to blog!! HORRORS!!!

Monday I had Weight Watchers and, to my astonishment, I lost 4.2 pounds! WOOHOO!! Needless to say, I made some brownies to take to our church’s fall festival last night and, well, I ate three. So, I’m quite sure those pounds have made their way back to me. LOL!

Today we had to go be RE-fingerprinted for our adoption. This adoption is taking SOOOOO long that we have to redo some of our paperwork. Paperwork, sure, I understand. But FINGERPRINTS? How in the world do FINGERPRINTS expire? So today, we spent a good chunk of our time driving to get that done.

But… I HAVE to tell y’all about the brownies…. Oh the brownies!!! They are absolutely DELICIOUS!!! They are, however, INCREDIBLY FATTENING. I only make them one time a year- for our church’s fall festival. Seriously, once you see the recipe, you’ll know why.

I use our family’s favorite brownie recipe that’s right here. They are great just like they are, but each year I add extra toppings to the brownies. Are you ready?

Nutty Chocolate Caramel Brownies
1 package of Kraft caramels, unwrapped (about 50 individual pieces)
1 stick butter
2 T milk
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
Mrs. U’s BEST Brownies, prepared

In a microwave safe bowl, place all the unwrapped caramels, the butter and the milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute and then stir. Microwave on high another 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until the caramels are completely melted and the caramel sauce comes together easily when stirred.

As soon as the brownies come out of the oven, pour the caramel sauce over the brownies. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the caramel sauce and then sprinkle the pecans on top of that. Let it cool completely and then eat! YUM!!!

Tip: I make these the day before I am taking them somewhere so that the caramel can “set” and won’t run off the brownies.

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