Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Meal planning help...

My dear in-real-life friend, Melissa, is a newlywed and in need of weekly meal planning help. If any of you dear ladies have time, would you mind visiting with her on her blog and helping her out?

I told her that I am no help with weekly menus because I do things differently. I grocery shop twice a month after Mr. U gets paid. Yesterday was one of my grocery shopping days. I LOVE having a houseful of groceries, knowing that I will be able to make meals for my family.

Before I grocery shop, I always make a menu. After I make the menu, I make a list of every single thing I will need for the each recipe. I then head to my pantry, refrigerator and freezer to see what ingredients I already have on hand. I will then mark off the ingredients I do not need to purchase on that shopping trip.

Also, whenever I run out of something, I will quickly put it on my grocery list for the next shopping trip. For example, we just ran out of Vitamin E today. I wrote it down on my grocery list for the next shopping trip (in about 2 weeks). There are some items that cannot wait for the next shopping trip (toilet paper, milk, etc.) but if something can wait, then wait it will. :)

This is what our menu looks like for the next two weeks:
-Chicken sate over pasta with salad
-Picnic Chicken with couscous and green beans
-New Year's Pasta with French bread and creme brulee
-Pancakes and Bacon (breakfast for supper!! FUN!)
-Pumpkin Sausage Pasta with salad
-Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans
-Italian Wedding Soup with some kind of bread
-Grilled Lemon Chicken and roasted broccoli
-Grilled burgers with carmelized onions and roasted tomatoes
-Pizza and salad
-2 days we will eat out (on Saturdays)
-each Monday we have lunch with some friends that have all adopted or are going to adopt

So, there's 14 days of meals!! Yesterday we had pizza and today we are having chicken sate. So, I will cross those off my menu so that I know that I have already used those ingredients.

I do not assign certain meals to certain days. It has never worked for me that way. Also, I decide the night before what we will have the next day. If any meat needs to thaw, I will take it out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator the night before.

If we find out we will have people over to eat, I will make extra bread, make more salad or green beans and make sure to serve dessert.

This is what works for me and for our family. Often, Mr. U or Joshua will ask for a certain meal that we haven't had in a while or one that they particularly like and I try to make sure that I make it. I love cooking for my family and making sure that they all enjoy what they eat and that it is relatively healthy (notice, I said "relatively" HA!! Homemade IS healthier than eating in a restaurant or eating a frozen meal, though, isn't it?).

So, y'all please share with Melissa how you handle weekly menus. As a new bride, I am sure she will appreciate any and all advice!!

(Yes, the picture is Melissa. The picture is a tad bit overexposed on purpose- to really bring out her pretty blue eyes!! What a lovely bride she was!!)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Free knitting lessons!!

Gotcha with the title of the blog post, right? I'll bet you are reading along here thinking "Wow! Mrs. U is going to teach us how to knit!!" Nothing could be further from the truth!!!

The truth? Well, the truth is that I just cannot knit. I can crochet, sure, but knitting? Well, that is a different story. But I am DETERMINED to learn to knit. So where do these "Free knitting lessons" come from? Why, YouTube, of course!!!

I knew there tons of videos on YouTube, but I had NO idea that I could receive knitting lessons, too!! What fun!!

So, if you start wondering what I'm doing, I'm over at YouTube, watching knitting videos and hoping that I can "get" knitting. It is SO pretty!!! (Check out Tammy's knitting over at her blog for BEAUTIFUL knitting!!!)

Thank you to Please Don't Call Me For Advice for the YouTube tip!!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas dress...

Here it is after Christmas and I almost forgot to share a picture of Elizabeth in her Christmas dress!! I LOVE this dress- red and festive!

(And no, I did NOT get her to pose like that. She was in the middle of turning her back to me and I snapped it super quick and got this cute shot!! The photo right after this one? The back of her head.)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy day after Christmas!!!

I hope all of you had a very Merry Christmas yesterday!! I trust that everyone got to spend at least a little time with family or friends or both!!

I also hope that we do not leave the Truth about Christmas behind until next December 25. Christmas is not simply just a day- Christmas is an attitude of the heart.

What is Christmas to you? Is it just about gifts and Santa and food? Or is it about Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us? Having a Christmas kind of heart is about remembering daily how God sent His only Son to earth as a baby, how He grew up living a sinless life, and how He laid down His life and died on a cross in YOUR place. And, happily, how He rose from the grave three days later so that YOU could have FORGIVENESS of YOUR sins!!

For those of you that are born again Christians, is this how YOU live? Truly, are you more focused on The Baby in the manger or how many returns you need to make today? Are you more focused on growing in His image, being holy because He is holy, dying to yourself, or are you more focused on how much "stuff" you received on your Christmas list? Be honest.

For those of you who are not Christians, may I challenge you to read the Bible? Start in John (one of my favorite books!!) and just read. Look for Christians in your life and start asking them questions about the Word. Maybe you could even visit church and talk with the pastor about what it is exactly that being a Christian is all about. And what exactly is this "sin" that you seem to have and why do you need forgiveness? :)

I pray that everyone has a blessed weekend. Jesus truly IS the Reason for the Season

Monday, December 22, 2008

Excuse me.... what month is it????

Is this still December? I'm thinking so. And I'm also thinking WHY ARE MY PAPERWHITES BLOOMING?????????????

Yep, these were snapped on Saturday. My, oh my. It was a warm weekend!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Congo Bars...

I'm not sure where theses tasty little bars got their name, but they sure are delicious!!! They mix up quickly and are a crowd pleaser, for sure!!

Congo Bars

2/3 cup butter
2 cups light brown sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 oz chocolate chips
1 cup nuts (optional)

Melt butter. Cool slightly. Add brown sugar and blend well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Combine dry ingredients and then mix with butter mixture thoroughly. Add chocolate chips and nuts (if using) and stir. Bake in a prepared 9x13 pan at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cut into bars when cool.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Meme...

I saw this fun Christmas Meme over at Charree's blog, Held in His Hand. Let's play!!

~Christmas Faves~

Fresh tree or fake tree?
Definitely FRESH!! I love the smell of a fresh Christmas tree!!

Definitely this one. Mr. U and I got married December 12, 1998 (Yep! We just celebrate our 10th anniversary!!!) and we received MANY Christmas type gifts. This ornament, though, was (and still is!) my favorite!! Each Christmas as we decorate our tree, we always hang this last AND we hang it together!!!

Christmas song?
My favorite Christmas hymn is "What Child is This?" My favorite Christmas non-hymn song is "Joseph's Song" by Michael Card.

Each year when we decorate our Christmas tree, we eat Cranberry Chicken. We also watch "The Nativity Story" and drink eggnog. Yum!!!!!

Favorite gift as a child?
Well, I don't remember actually receiving him (I was too young) but I DO know that I got my Teddy for Christmas- my first Christmas to be exact!! I still have my dear Teddy, so he's definitely my favorite Christmas gift!!!

Christmas meal?
Well, it's a toss up between Cranberry Chicken and the Christmas Day meal at my parents' house.

Cookie? As in SINGULAR?? I have to choose ONE????? YIKES!!! Okay... wait... this is my blog, so I can choose more than one, right???? I choose Gingerbread Men, Extra Spicy Gingersnaps and Cranberry Orange Cookies. OH MY!!!

Place to be?
With my family. :)

Playing games with my family on Christmas Day after all the gifts were opened and all the food was eaten.

Christmas movie?
The Nativity Story and It's a Wonderful Life.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Guess who's excited about decorating for Christmas?

And here's our Christmas tree this year.

(If you click on the tree photo, you can see that the lights look like little stars! How pretty!!!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

$5 Gift Certificate from Adagio!!!

Guess what, y'all? I just discovered that Adagio Teas has a $5 gift certificate for YOU to use toward YOUR purchase of tea!!

So for any of y'all that missed out on the tea giveaway, feel free to enter your email address and Adagio will send you a $5 gift certificate!! And with it being so cold in some areas of the US, tea would be a great Christmas gift for someone you love OR a gift for you!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pancakes for Supper...


4 cups all purpose flour
4 T sugar
8 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten
4 cups milk
8 T cooking oil (I use light olive oil)

Combine all ingredients until combined. Onto your hot, lightly greased griddle, pour about 1/3 cup of batter. Cook about 2 minutes on each side until golden brown.

This recipe makes a lot of pancakes. We make extra and freeze them.

Homemade Syrup

3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
2 T molasses
2 t butter flavoring
1 t maple flavoring
1 t vanilla flavoring

Combine all ingredients EXCEPT vanilla in a sauce pan. Bring ingredients to a rolling boil, remove from heat and cool completely. Once cooled, stir in vanilla.

My family prefers this syrup over any store-bought syrup.

Monday, December 08, 2008

French Breakfast Puffs...

Oh y'all!! We had these for breakfast Saturday morning and they were DELICIOUS!!

I got the recipe from Pioneer Woman. She said they make 12 muffins, but I made 18 of them. You can click on the link to PWs French Breakfast Puffs to see her exact recipe. Below it is written with a few changes I made.

French Breakfast Puffs

3 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup shortening (Crisco)
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 sticks butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 18 muffin cups. Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside. In a different bowl, cream together 1 cup sugar and shortening, then add eggs and mix. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. Fill prepared muffin cups 1/2 full. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until golden. In a bowl, melt 2 sticks butter. In a separate bowl combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Dip baked muffins in butter, coating thoroughly, then coat with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

We found that these tasted BETTER after they had cooled for about an hour.

I am sure y'all will enjoy them, too! Happy eating!!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Victorian Trading Company...

Oooh! I always get SO excited when Mr. U brings in the mail and a new catalog from Victorian Trading Company arrives! They have some lovely, feminine Victorian items in there!!

You can be sure to find me with the catalog and a cup of tea while I enjoy the catalog!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Thank you, but....

I truly want to thank all of you VERY kind and thoughtful fellow bloggers who think enough of my little blog to give me a blogging award!! Y'all are FAR TOO KIND!!!!! Unfortunately, though, I cannot accept them. Truly, if there is anything good or encouraging about my blog, it isn't because of me- it is only because of the Lord Jesus Christ!!!

So for anyone that has given me an award lately and you haven't heard me from, this is why. I cannot accept something which I did not earn.

All awards can be directly given to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20)

Blessings, y'all!!!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

"The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever."

Isaiah 40:8

Monday, December 01, 2008

Oven Roasted.... Applesauce???

Elizabeth's FAVORITE food is apples. Specifically RED apples (yes, she actually tells me that). We had a ton of apples that some friends brought us back from a trip to North Carolina. So, what did we do? Make applesauce, of course!!

Now, I've made applesauce before and it's always been good. Each time I peel, core and chop them and then boil them until tender. Then, I'll mash them up and add all the normal applesauce seasonings. Always YUM is the result.

This time, though, I was wondering if you could roast the apples in the oven first. A quick visit to Google led me to Well Fed. I followed the recipe...almost.

Oven Roasted Applesauce

8 good sized RED apples (for Elizabeth, you know)
1/4 cup apple cider
6 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 T lemon juice (yes, the stuff in the bottle)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of Kosher salt

Peel, core and chop all apples and place them in a 9x13 pan. In a separate bowl, mix all other ingredients well. Pour over apples and toss to coat. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes until apples are very tender. Let cool 10 minutes and then start mashing them for chunky applesauce or process them in the blender, food processor or with a stick blender until desired consistency is reached.

WARNING: This is REALLY REALLY delicious and will NOT last long in your home!!!!!

(Sorry, no pics of this. We ate it very quickly!! YUM!!!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Help! I cooked too much Mac and Cheese!!!

Dear blogging friends,

HELP!!! I made a very delicious macaroni and cheese today, but it made TOO much! Do any of y'all know if I can freeze this? And does it reheat well, if so??

I use the recipe for Homemade Mac and Cheese from Allrecipes, but, of course, I changed it up a bit. Instead of cheddar and parmesan cheeses, I used extra sharp cheddar, mozzarella and Swiss cheese!! I also added a couple of sprinkles of dry mustard, a pinch of salt and some white pepper, too. OH MY!! It is very tasty!!

Now, PLEASE, is there any hope? Will I have to throw it away and lose it??

Mrs. U

Kettle Corn...

I have been a huge fan of the Hillbilly Housewife for years. I link to the recipes on that site because they are tasty, easy and budget friendly.

Sunday night, I made the Kettle Corn recipe. OH MY STARS!! This tasted JUST like Fiddle Faddle! SO VERY GOOD!!! I will definitely make this again!!

Kettle Corn

1/3 cup corn oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
Salt to taste

Over a medium-high flame, heat the corn oil in the bottom of a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Sprinkle in 2 or 3 popcorn kernels. When the kernels pop add the sugar, and then the remaining popcorn. Cover with a good lid. Shake the pan over the heat while the popcorn pops. When the popping stops, remove the pan from the heat. Immediately pour the hot popcorn into a bowl. Try to remove any oldmaids with a spoon or fork. The popcorn will be hot and sticky so be very careful not to burn yourself. The popcorn should be lightly coated with a beautiful amber caramel. Salt the kettle corn to taste and serve to thankful recipients. Makes a large bowlful. Tastes best late at night while watching a scary movie with friends and family.

Also, it is VERY hot when it is first finished. When you pour it into a bowl, let it sit for about 5 minutes before touching it. Then give it a really good stir to let all the kernels on the bottom cool. Cool completely before eating.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Show & Tell Friday- a favorite teapot...

Today is Show & Tell over at Kelli's blog, There's No Place Like Home.

This is one of my favorite teapots. How CUTE is this little lady!?!

I got this teapot a few years ago from my Secret Sister at church. She knew I was collecting teapots, so she kindly gave me this adorable little girl!!

Here's the back view of the teapot. I love how her pigtail is the pouring spout!!

And just look at this! The teapot lid is actually her dainty pink hat!!

Thank you for visiting with me today for my Show & Tell. Be sure and head over to Kelli's for more fun!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I need some SERIOUS blogging help...

If anyone is hoping for a sweet, encouraging blog post, stop reading here. This is simply a post of me ranting and needing HELP!!! :)

Once again, I am having troubles with Photobucket. I upload the photos from my computer to Photobucket and then transfer them to my blog. But for the past month or so, when I take the photos from Photobucket to my blog, they are SUPER DUPER HUGE!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHY?????? And, unless I resize them to teensy tinsy, they will NOT fit on my blog posts (they will be too wide and HUGE!)!!!!!!


And I've tried Flickr, as well. But I have YET to get a photo to upload with them. Each time Flickr has the message that it didn't upload and to try again. Ridiculous.

This is seriously getting on my nerves. I would LOVE to be able to share things here on my blog, but I can NOT figure out how to get the photos loaded properly.

Does anyone have any kind of suggestion???

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Ruby Rebel


Oh ladies!! I just read about being a Ruby Rebel and I had to share it with you!!

Here's some of what Kelly has to say about it...

Another thing about rare jewels...jewels are rare because there are not in abundance, but also because they have to be "hewn out" of the rock around them. They have to be chipped out, polished, chiseled on and perfected. You don't just stumble upon a ruby that is perfectly formed and sparkling. It must endure some work.
So what kind of wife are you? Do you desire to be a rare jewel? I know I do! I want my marriage to be quite uncommon from the world's view of marriage. I want to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in all things and that includes in the area of being a wife and living that out according to Scripture.

Have I arrived? Nope. Do I mess up? Daily. Wait. No. Make that hourly. But I still desire for the Lord to polish and chisel me into His image- not the world's image.

So ladies, are YOU a Ruby Rebel? If so, how do you daily live out the Scriptural commands for a wife?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sunny, happy flowers...

After running errands yesterday, I arrived home to find these flowers!!! A sunny, sweet surprise from my son, Joshua!! What a sweetheart!!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Have you always loved to and wanted to stay at home?

In the comments of the post "Staying Home is Not a Waste of Time if You Don't Waste it", this question was asked by Exhausted SAH Mom...

I just have to ask whether the owner of this site and those who post here have always felt this love toward staying home and homemaking.

I have to admit that this was not what I had planned for my life and I do not always deal well with it.

Where I live, people do not drop by, ever. It's hard to get someone to come over by invitation. Everyone is so busy that they have no time, even within the Christian homeschool group I am in.

I would love to find someone to talk to. I need to move from being here because I have to be (long story) to where I am at least content with being here at home.

Dear wife and mother!! If there were a way for me to come and sit down with you and talk for a while, I definitely would!! I am definitely sending (((((hugs))))) your way as I am writing this.

My entire life, all I ever wanted to be was a wife, mother and teacher- a homemaker. Marrying my husband and adopting his children made me an instant wife and mother!! Then the Lord led us to homeschool and I was a teacher! The Lord definitely blessed me!!

The main reason that I wanted to be a homemaker was because I grew up watching my mother as a homemaker. If you were to sit down with her today and ask her what she did to become such a wonderful homemaker, she would probably laugh and say that she was far from that description. I saw differently, however. I saw a lady that loved her husband and loved her children. I saw a lady that chose to be with us instead of doing her own thing. She chose to serve our family and she had JOY when she did it!! When the Lord saved me when I was in college, He gave me an ever stronger desire to love and nuture my future family. Today, I am blessed to be able to do just that.

You mentioned that no one drops by and that you have no one to talk to. Please know that what I am saying is NOT meant to be cruel, but are you approachable? What does the countenance on your face look like to others? Do you look unhappy? If the answer to any of these is yes, may I suggest that you put on a friendly face the next time you are headed to your Christian homeschool group? Perhaps that would help draw new friends to you (or I could be FAR off.. .if so, please forgive me.).

You also mentioned that staying home is not something that you always planned for your life, that you don't always deal with it well, and that you "have" to be home. It seems as if you see yourself as "stuck" in this situation. If you are a Christian, please pray and ask the Lord to help change your attitude in this area. You are only as "stuck" as you decide to be. The Lord has given you children and He has you at home for His glory- not for your happiness. BUT when you pour your heart out to the Lord and lean on His understanding, He will make His desires YOUR desires as well!! His ways and His thoughts are SO much higher than ours!

Again, dear friend, I could be SO far off with my words here. I do wish I knew more of your situation. But what I DO know is that the Lord knows all about it. I definitely pray that He will give you wisdom and peace in this area.

Dear readers, please feel free to share advice and wisdom with this mother. Perhaps some of you have been in a similar situation? Perhaps some of you have friends or family that the Lord has given them joy to be at home? Please share as the Lord gives His you wisdom about this.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Children are a blessing... at least, God says they are...

"Just one night a month, I have to get away from my kid. I don't care if other kids are there at the get-together or not. I don't have to take care of other kids. I just have to get away from my kid one night a month."

No, this is NOT a made up quote. I actually heard this out of the mouth of a new mother today. Her sweet baby girl is only 3 months old and already she just has to get away from her.

Am I the only one that has a problem with this? Does anyone else see this as selfish??? If children are truly a gift from the Lord (and He says they are in Psalm 127:3), then why do so many mothers today get tired of that gift?

It just broke my heart this afternoon to hear this. Just yesterday, Joshua was 10 years old and he will be 21 next month. Just yesterday, Elizabeth was a tiny little 9 1/2 month old who could do nothing for herself and today she is 2 1/2 and thinks she can do EVERYTHING all on her own. Children are young only once and only for such a short period of time. Mothers, do not let that time slip by. Surely you can set yourself and your desires to the side for a few years.

New mothers- Yes, it can be very hard adjusting to life with a new little one. May I encourage you to find a godly, older mother who has already raised a few children? Seek her out and ask her advice. Share your heart with her. Cry if you need to. She will understand and help you put things into perspective and she'll be able to give you invaluable advice.

Older mothers- Please be aware of the new mothers around you. Just because your children aren't babies anymore, it doesn't mean that you are finished with that age. The Lord has given you wisdom to share with the new mothers. Wisdom that only time and experience can teach. The new mothers might not want new advice at first, but stick around- they will be SO happy that you are close by for advice and help!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008


Tonight is our monthly Ladies Fellowship at church. The theme? Thanksgiving dinner. YUM!! Ladies could each volunteer to take a dish and I volunteered for corn pudding. Not just any corn pudding, mind you, but Ina Garten's to-die-for Sagaponack Corn Pudding. Delightful. For that matter, anything that Ina Garten makes is delightful!!!!

Today has been just a typical day around here. Errands this morning, lunch with friends at our regular Monday pizza place, laundry this afternoon and a nap for Miss Elizabeth. Well, she was SUPPOSED to nap, but, well, that's not happening today. The life of a 2 1/2 year old, huh? :)

Fall seems to be more colorful than ever around here. The trees are SO pretty!!! Just look at the lovely yellow and the blue, blue sky!!!!

Have a happy Monday, y'all!!

(Sorry for the extremely large photo again!! I am at odds with either blogger or photobucket- I've yet to determine who the culprit is!!!!!)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A fall giveaway!!!

Charree is having a "Happy Fall Giveaway"!! Y'all be sure and visit her and sign up for her giveaway!!

While you're at it, check out her post about Caramel Apple Goodies!! They look pretty AND delicious!!!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds...

Last week when I shared about making Pumpkin Butter, I forgot to tell y'all about roasted pumpkin seeds!!!

Once you have cleaned out the inside of your pumpkin, place all the insides of the pumpkin (pulp and seeds) in a collander and rinse them well. The seeds will still be sticky, but that's okay. Place the seeds on a cookie sheet and leave them alone for about 24 hours to dry. Do NOT put the seeds on a paper towel (trust me on this) because they will STICK LIKE CRAZY!! Just let them sit on the cookie sheet and they will be nice and dry the next day.

The following day, I drizzled them with some olive oil and sprinkled them with some salt and tossed them around to coat each seed. Bake the seeds in a 325 degree oven for about 35 minutes, until they are toasty brown and make sure that you stir them around every 10 minutes or so to make sure they brown pretty evenly. Once they came out of the oven, I sprinkled a little garlic powder and seasoning salt on them and BOY were these tasty!!! I stored these in an air-tight container and they stayed crispy for about 5 days.

I will definitely make these again!!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Take a visit to...

I want to encourage y'all to go visit Making a House Home's new blog sponsor, Bedroom Furniture Direct . They have lovely furniture to help make your house a home!!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Saturday, November 01, 2008

My dear friend....

Today my dear friend, Melissa, is getting married!! Please be in prayer for her as she and her husband start their new life together. Oh, and go over and visit her and tell her congratulations!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I bought two "pie pumpkins" (at least, that's what they were labeled) at the grocery store Tuesday. I got home, cut them up, scraped the seeds out and roasted the pumpkins in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes until they looked like this....

YUMMM!! I let them cool and the outside layer of the pumpkin peeled off very easily.

Next, I mashed up the pumpkin pulp with my potato masher and then used my hand blender to really make the pumpkin puree nice and smooth. (Hint: a food processor would be MUCH easier, so if you have one, PLEASE use it!!)

Some of the fresh pumpkin puree went into the freezer and a little bit of it went into Pumpkin Butter.

Pumpkin Butter
(HT Pioneer Woman)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree*
1/2 cup PLAIN yogurt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
pumpkin pie spice, to taste

Mix it all up together and enjoy!!

This is DELICIOUS on a hot-out-of-the-oven biscuit!!!

*You do NOT have to use fresh pumpkin puree for this. You can used the canned pumpkin puree. Just make sure that the only ingredient is "pumpkin".

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mrs. U + Blogger = confusion!!!

HAHA! How's that for a blog title? :)

Anyway, just a quick apology for the rather LARGE photo in the earlier post. I have NO idea how to correct it! I did everything just like normal, but for some reason, the photo is extra wide!!!

Anyone have a clue? HELP!!

UPDATE: It's finally corrected! I have no idea why, but I had to go into and manually resize the photo. Looks like I'll be doing that from now on. If anyone else is having this issue with and blogger, PLEASE let me know!!

Cordon bleu casserole

This week, Mr. U told me that he would really love a casserole (the man LOVES casseroles!) and Joshua told me that he really wanted pasta. So, here's the perfect combination and it is QUITE tasy, too!!!

Cordon bleu casserole
(adapted from Karin Calloway's recipe)

16 ounces fettuccine noodles
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups cooked, diced chicken
1 1/2 cups diced smoked ham
1 can cream of celery soup*
1 can cream of chicken soup*
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese, divided

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook fettuccine as directed. Do not overcook. Drain and return to pot.

While pasta cooks, heat butter in a medium saute pan. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes (and if you just can't resist the urge, go ahead and salt these, too! Mmm!!). Set aside.

Combine chicken, ham, soups and milk in a large bowl. Add mushrooms and half of the shredded Swiss. Toss the soup mixture with the cooked fettuccine. Spray a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and pour in the fettuccine mixture. Top with remaining Swiss cheese. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until heated through and bubbly. Toss lightly before serving to distribute the sauce.

I served this with a big salad of romaine lettue and roma tomatoes with Thousand Island Dressing. Yum!!

*Find Cream Soup Alternatives here.
Makes 8 servings.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

And the winner is....

Congratulations to Smart But Not Wise!!! You are the winner of the wonderful starter tea set from Adagio Teas!!!

Please email me at the ups 1 at gmail dot com and let me know your mailing information!!!

I know you will love the flavored teas that you chose!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's GIVEAWAY TIME! And this time it's TEA!!

**This post will stay at the top until Friday, October 24th**

I am VERY excited to announce a wonderful GIVEAWAY!!

As many of y'all know, I am in LOVE with Adagio Tea! I've talked about their starter set, the fact that their tea has been my new love since I stopped drinking Diet Coke, AND they recently acknowledged my, ahem, apparent addiction love of their incredible teas.

Not only is their tea TO DIE FOR, but they have this wonderful teapot called ingenuiTea that I have decided I cannot live without. It allows the tea leaves to move around in the hot water and gives you a much more flavorful tea. Mmmmm.

Anyway, I, along with Adagio Tea, would like to give away one of the starter sets!!!! And I am SO very excited about it!

What do you need to do to enter?

1) Go to Adagio Tea's website and look at their starter set. They offer starter sets in black, green, flavored or herbal tea.

2) Leave a commment here stating which of the starter sets you would like to win (black tea, green tea, flavored tea or herbal tea) and you will be entered ONE time in the drawing. (You do NOT have to have a blog to enter nor do you have to live in the United States)

3) Blog about this giveaway on your blog and I will enter your name TWO MORE TIMES (for a total of 3 possible entries).

The deadline for entering the giveaway will be Friday, October 24th at 8:00 EST. I will announce the winner on Saturday, October 25th.

Good luck everyone!!

Time for a wedding...

I had the chance to take photos of my dear friend, Melissa, yesterday. These weren't just any photos, though. These were bridal photographs! She's getting married next Saturday!

This photo was one I took yesterday- a cute outhouse on the property where we shot. But you KNOW I can't show you her picture yet! Her fiance just may look at my blog! We can't have him seeing her before the wedding, now can we?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Challenge- Clean your shower!!

Okay, y'all. Let's get honest here. When was the last time you cleaned your shower??

It has come to my attention lately, that showers are quite often neglected in house cleaning. Why is that? Is it because people think that no one will go in your bathroom and see the mess? Is it because people think that you can just pull the shower curtain closed and you can forget what lurks behind it? Is it because it's so far gone, that you feel like there's no help for your poor shower?

While I know that most of us have not allowed our showers to get to the point of the one in the photo, some of us aren't faithful about cleaning the shower every week. Hey, cleaning them every MONTH would be better than cleaning it once or twice a year!!!

So the challenge for this weekend is to CLEAN YOUR SHOWER!!! Clean the walls, clean the tub, clean the floor of the shower! MAKE IT SHINE!!! YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

If it's been a while since you've cleaned your shower, it might take a good bit of elbow grease to get it clean. It might take a bit of time, too. But it is WORTH it!! Just think how happy your family will be when a sparkling shower greets them in the morning!!!

And the best part? Once you scrub and get it super clean, all it takes is weekly (yes, monthly would work, too) cleaning to keep it in tip top shape. For my weekly shower cleaning, I use an old washcloth and cheap shampoo. Yes, you heard me right- cheap shampoo. I just keep a bottle in the shower and then, when it's time to clean, I'll put shampoo on the washcloth and start cleaning the walls (and yes, I rinse the bubbles off the wall after I've given them a good scrub). Because I do it weekly, it is not hard AT ALL to clean the walls nor does it take long. The soap scum that you will encounter if you are just cleaning the shower for the first time in a while, will NOT build up if you clean your shower walls weekly.

I also clean the bathtub part of the shower twice a week. I use baking soda for that because I don't want Elizabeth bathing in harsh chemicals!!!

So don't just sit there thinking about it! Get up and get moving!! Clean your shower this weekend!! Your family will thank you!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Me and my tea...

I just placed an order for more of my beloved Adagio Tea. When you order from them, you acquire points and you can get a gift certificate with those points to use toward your next purchase. Here's the sweet note that Adagio sent with my gift certificate...

Dear Mrs. U,

The good news is: You now have a $12 gift certificate.

The bad news is: You're officially addicted to our teas :)

- Adagio Teas

HOW DID THEY KNOW????????????????????

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Quilt giveaway!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh y'all!! Head on over to Pigtails and Snails! She is giving away this GORGEOUS quilt!! The deadline to enter is 7pm MST on Friday Oct 17th.

Mickey Mouse's Sugar Cookies...

Scrunchie99 left a comment on my post about my Mickey Mouse Cookbook. She said,
"I loved this cookbook as a child, and I was searching for the Sugar Cookie recipe in it when I found your blog. I have been looking for that recipe for years. If you ever read this message and care to share it with me, I would be most appreciative!!!"

Well, Scrunchie99, here's the recipe for you! Let me know how they turn out!!!

Mickey Mouse's Sugar Cookies

What you need:
1 egg
1/2 cup shortening, melted
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

What you do with it:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Break the egg into a large mixing bowl. Add the shortening, sugar, cinnamon, milk and lemon juice. Beat with an egg beater until creamy.

3. Sift the flour and baking powder together into another bowl. Add this to the mixture in the first bowl and mix well with a spoon.

4. Drop the dough by the teaspoonful onto 2 cookie sheets (you don't have to grease them). Leave at least 1 inch of space between the cookies.

5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown. Immediately remove the cookies from the cookie sheets with a spatula. Place them on wire racks to cool.

Makes about 36 cookies.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook- October 13, 2008

FOR TODAY... Monday, October 13, 2008

Outside My Window... There is a slight breeze and blue skies. I can hear the rustle of the leaves as the wind blows.

I am thinking... We have a ladies fellowship tonight at church and I need to prepare the sausage balls I am taking to share.

I am thankful for... My family. I am so blessed!

From the kitchen... a tea kettle is full of hot water for my tea! Yum!

I am wearing... a short sleeved pink plaid shirt with a long black skirt.

I am creating... cloth napkins for my family! Yes, I am going to sew them tonight!

I am going... to church tonight. We live right next door. Quick trip. :)

I am reading... about my camera!! I want to learn to take better photographs.

I am hoping... that my daughter takes a long, restful nap today. She wears herself out when she plays!

I am hearing... the gentle hum of the dryer.

Around the house... it is becoming FALL! Leaves on the ground outside, soup on the menu inside!!

One of my favorite things... learning. I love to learn. This week? Sewing napkins!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: finish the cloth napkins and apply what I've learned about photography!! And have tea, of course. :)

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

... a carefully chosen fall pumpkin.

Please visit The Simple Woman to visit more daybooks!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Rice Krispy Treats...

Oh yum!! These are all wrapped up and ready to go to Elizabeth's friend's house tonight!! These remind me so much of childhood and, boy, are they still tasty after all these years!!

Rice Krispy Treats (well, my version of it, anyway)

5 T butter
16 ounces marshmallows
8 cups Rice Krispies

Prepare your 9x13 pan by rubbing 1 T butter all over the sides bottom of your pan. I do this by wrapping my hand with a papertowel and rubbing the butter around the pan with my papertoweled hand. Set aside.

Melt remaining 4 T butter on medium heat in a large pot (I use my 8 quart stock pot). When butter is melted, stir in marshmallows and keep stirring until they are completely melted. (At this point, do NOT lick the spoon because it is VERY hot.) Take the pot off the burner and stir in the Rice Krispies and make sure they are all coated in melted marshmallow mixture.

Carefully pour mixture into your buttered pan. Once it is all out of your pot and into your buttered pan, smear butter all over the palms of your hands and gently press the mixture into the pan. (The butter is the BEST thing I have found to prevent the mixture from sticking to my hands!)

Let cool and then cut into bars! Yum!!

Book giveaway...

Happy Friday, y'all!!!

I have three books that I would love to give to whomever would like them. Pick one, two, or three. Whoever claims them first, I will happily mail these to you at no charge!!

Treasury of Cooking Healthy NOTE: This book is now taken. Thank you.

The Open Adoption Book NOTE: This book is now taken. Thank you.

Cake Expressions NOTE: This book is now taken. Thank you.

Please help me find new homes for these books!! :)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Middle Eastern Chicken Pot and Butter Nut Couscous

I am sorry to say that I do not have a photo of this delicious dish!! It was very tasty and reminded me of Indian food. YUM!!! This photo is of a few of the ingredients- carrot, smoked paprika, onion, garlic, dried apricots, raisins, lemon, olives... those are just SOME of the ingredients of this recipe! I LOVED it! If y'all have a taste for middle eastern food, definitely give this a try!!

Middle Eastern Chicken Pot and Butter-Nut Couscous
(Recipe from Rachael Ray)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
1 cup shredded carrots
1 fresh bay leaf
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
Pinch ground cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup chopped dried fruits - pick 1 or combine: figs, pitted dates, apricots, sultanas
1 lemon, zested and juiced
3/4 cup pitted mixed olives, chopped
4 cups chicken stock, divided
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups couscous
Handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil ripples add the chicken and brown 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, bay leaf and season with spices, salt and pepper, cook 5 to 6 minutes. Stir the fruits into the chicken and vegetables, add the zest of the lemon, olives and 2 1/2 cups of stock. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes more. Sprinkle with lemon juice and turn off heat. Remove bay leaf.
While chicken simmers, melt butter in a sauce pot over medium heat. Add nuts and lightly toast for a couple of minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups stock and bring up to a boil then stir in couscous. Cover and let stand 5 minutes.

Serve chicken over couscous, or vice versa, and garnish with parsley.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Garden of Eden...

I enjoy reading Mrs. Schlueter's blog, The Hope Blog. The way she writes seems to just pull me in. Her recent post about her love for her husband is no exception. I'm not going to spoil this sweet story for you, so be sure to vist her blog and read it for yourself.

I share this photo because it is the same one that she shared on this particular post. I have fallen in love with this piece of art! I've never been one to be able to choose one certain painting that I really enjoyed because there are SO many wonderful works of art. However, after reading what Mrs. Schlueter wrote about Hugh Riviere's, The Garden of Eden, I knew that I had found the one work of art I could finally claim as my favorite.

Here's what she says...
The photo above is a print of Hugh Riviere’s painting, The Garden of Eden, and a copy hangs in a prominent place in our home. The focal point in the painting is the woman’s face as she looks at her shabby, but beloved man as they walk in the dreary rain. Her face glows because she is with the person she loves above all else. That love transforms the sodden, gray park into her Garden of Eden. That’s what love does. The difficult and dreary things in life aren’t nearly so bad when real love is there.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Country Cornbread Muffins and Texas Chili

Thank you, Kelli and Mrs. H, for two wonderful recipes!!!!

Country Cornbread Muffins
12 servings

1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup milk

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda and salt. Whisk together the egg, sour cream, oil and milk. Stir into the dry ingredients just until combined. Spoon into greased muffin tin. Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve warm with butter and enjoy!

Texas Chili
6 servings

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (15 ounces) mild chili beans
1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
grated sharp cheddar cheese
sour cream

In a large saucepan, cook the beef and onion over medium heat; drain. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beans. Add the seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Serve steaming hot with cheese and sour cream. Enjoy!

Note: This is not the exact chili recipe from Kelli and Mrs. H. I had to adjust the heat level for Elizabeth. :)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Staying Home is Not a Waste of Time if You Don't Waste It

I am a big fan of Lady Lydia's blog, Home Living. This article is just one of many that I appreciate, but I wanted to share it because it was encouraging and challenging to me.

Staying Home is Not a Waste of Time if You Don't Waste It

I am sure that some women feel that staying home is taking the "easy" way in life, but like any job, it has its joyful times and its grunge times. When most women were homemakers, they learned what to do with the time they had. I can tell you just a few things that are important.

1. Meals and clean dishes are a priority.
2. Clean clothes are next, and in most cases, outer clothing can be worn more than once before washing, so that the laundry pile is limited and does not get really overwhelming.
3. A clean floor and a sanitary bathroom is necessary.

Things that are not necessary:

1. Gourmet meals are not important. Families can be happy with very simple food.
2. Entertainment is not a priority. A lot of time is wasting watching television.
3. Impressing other people is not something a homemaker needs to do.

There are no set ways to keep house, because every family has a slightly different way of life. As long as it suits you and your family's schedule and style of living, that is what is important.

As for what you should be doing to fill up the time, women usually had needlework and interesting hobbies like knitting or sewing, painting, writing, etc. that they did when they are not doing the main things of the home, such as meals and getting people ready for the next day. If you will visit antique stores, you will see that a lot of this crochet and embroidery is now surfacing from estate sales.

These are works of art that were most often done in the home, during a lull in family activity, while waiting for something, or inbetween jobs of the house. Most women liked to keep busy, and doing things with their hands created some results like doilies and runners and table cloths, curtains, and various items of clothing. You can still see some of these things in the antique stores. They are highly treasured by collectors and by people like me, who know they represent the time and patience of women who loved their homes and wanted to make them beautiful.

I find it fascinating that even though our mothers at home were very busy, they still did something like this. Some of these women still talk about the "slower life" when they made their own soap or baked a pie, and yet still managed to knit a hat or a pair of socks for every member of the family in winter. They were not in their cars all the time, and the family car was reserved for the breadwinner, so they learned to stock up on things they needed, in order to spend a lot of time at the home place. Catologs contained handicraft kits you could order, which would also include books that helped you learn to knit or crochet or some other thing.

Being at home did not mean complete confinement. There was plenty to do, and if women wanted to, they could always read a good book. Some of our mothers spent a lot of time reading. In those days, people would go through their books and magazines and load them up into a big box, and give them to someone else. After they finished reading them, they would pass them on to another family. Not all the books were good, but it was easy to find some valuable reading material that would absorb a woman at home.

The important thing about being home and having the responsibility of the family and the house, is not that others think it is okay, or that anyone approves, but that it is something that God gave us permission to do. By being able to be home, women are freed from the repetitive work and endless travelling to and fro, to get a paycheck. At home, they have the liberty to use their creativity to guard their husband's money and help him make a profit. They are home to guard the family posessions and see that everything is cared for.

Over the years, there has been an attitude that it doesn't matter how we treat our clothes, our sheets and blankets, our furniture, or our dishes, but if they are treated gently and cleaned properly, repaired, and stored adequately, they will last much longer and not require replacement, which will mean there will be less money going out. The purpose of women at home go far deeper than just being in the house. She is on guard. She is looking for ways to be effiencient with time and money. She is learning to be resourceful by using things she already has. She also preserves her marriage, because her time and her emotions are not divided between the outside world and home. She has more time to think about her husband and more time to take care of him. She will be better-rested and have more patience to listen to his troubles.

There have always been women who will waste their time at home, complaining of boredom. That does not mean it is a standard or a truth. It just means they haven't learned how to deal with the responsibilities of the home. The Bible says that they should keep house, lest the word of God be blasphemed. It is like saying that Christians are supposed to be "good," but if a woman has let her house go to ruin and decay, it is a shame, because it doesn't glorify God.

Monday, September 29, 2008

from Charles Spurgeon...

"They will go away to eternal punishment, but
the righteous to eternal life." Matthew 25:46

There is an essential difference between the death of the
godly--and the death of the ungodly. Death comes to the
ungodly man--as a penal infliction; but to the righteous--
as a summons to his Father's palace! To the sinner--it is
an execution; to the saint--it is an undressing from his
sins and infirmities! Death to the wicked is the King of
terrors. Death to the saint is the end of terrors--the
commencement of glory!

-Charles Spurgeon

Friday, September 26, 2008

Show & Tell Friday- My Baby Spoon...

Today for Show & Tell Friday, I would like to share my baby spoon!! Yep, that's the exact same spoon that my mother used to feed me when I was a baby. She kept it all these years and gave it to me when we were expecting Elizabeth. I was so excited when she gave it to me and couldn't wait for it to become Elizabeth's baby spoon, too!!!

While she was already 10 months old when we brought her home, I did get a few months use out of it.

Thank you, Mom, for saving the spoon!!! It's a treasure (and not far from an antique, either!! HAHAHA!!!!).

Today at Kelli's blog, There's No Place Like Home, she is hosting (or should that be "hostessing"???) Show & Tell Friday. Be sure and head over there for more fun!!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Around the house today...

I was asked to make some cookies for a bake sale where the proceeds go to Relay for Life. So Miss E and I spent the morning making some chocolate chip cookies.

I'm pretty sure that she didn't mind helping. What do you think?

And y'all know that I LOOOOOOOVE cookies!! However, cookie dough is quite another story. Cookies are good, yes, but cookie dough is SUPER GOOD!! Anyone in agreement with me??


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