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!!!)


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