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Archive for the ‘homemaking’ Category

September 26th, 2014 at 11:33 am

Pumpkin Recipes

Pumpkin Recipes

One of my favorite fall flavors is pumpkin. I buy canned pumpkin starting the first week of September all the way through the end of November. Below are several of my favorite recipe links, as well as my personal favorite recipe for pumpkin bars! There are so many delicious options!

Ann’s Pumpkin Nut Bread

Pecan Pumpkin Dessert

Libbys Pumpkin Roll

Pumpkin Cookies with White Chocolate Chips

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

Pumpkin Pie French Toast

Pumpkin Pie Coffee Cake

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Low Fat Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

 

Pumpkin Bars

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 (3 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cup confectioners sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. 
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir dry mix into the pumpkin mixture until thoroughly combined.
  3. Spread the batter evenly into an ungreased 10 x 15 jellyroll pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool before frosting.
  4. To make the frosting: Cream together the cream cheese and butter. Stir in vanilla. Add confectioners sugar, a little at a time, beating until mixture is smooth. Spread evenly on top of the cooled bars and cut into squares.

Enjoy!

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September 15th, 2014 at 10:31 am

100 Days ‘Til Christmas

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Can you believe there are only 100 days until Christmas? You are probably booing me right now….but with little kids, the more preparation time you have the better! Plus, the more you have done once Thanksgiving approaches, the more you can actually enjoy yourself during the month of December.

Here are some ways to get organized and prepared ahead of time:

Start your Christmas shopping list now. List each person that you need to buy for. If you have any ideas, great, list those too! Make sure to assign a dollar amount to them also.

Determine your Christmas budget. Add up the dollar amounts from your list above, but be sure to add a little extra. There are always gifts that come up last minute that you forget about.  Think about decorations, food, and all the other things that go into celebrating the holiday season.

Plan out items you need to make. Do you need to plan out your Christmas cards? If you have the picture you are using then you can get your card made and printed. They can be signed and ready to send out at a certain time. Are you making any gifts? Can these be started early? Make a list of things you may need to make these items.

Clean out your kids’ toys. The presents your children receive can take up a lot of extra space that you might not have,  so take the time now to start weeding out the old ones. Donate toys that they’ve outgrown or are are no longer interested in, and throw away  broken toys or toys with missing pieces that cant be replaced to make some room for the new ones. While you are doing this, take into account what things your children already have so you don’t buy something similar.

Start writing lists. Write a list of clothing needs, grocery lists, cookie choices and recipes, cleaning expectations, and more! Make your own holiday notebook to keep all these lists organized.

Christmas goes a lot smoother when things are organized, so get a head start today!

 

 

 

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August 29th, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Muffin Recipes

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Breakfast is one of my nemesis’. The boys get bored with the same thing, so I try to mix it up as much as I can. This muffin mix allows you to use one mix and change it up with different ingredients to make different types of muffins. These also freeze wonderfully!

Plain Muffin Mix

Ingredients:

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1 cup minus 1 tablespoon sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

Cupcake wrappers, vegetable cooking spray or butter for greasing tins.

Directions:
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.

Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in one-half of dry ingredients. Beat in  yogurt. Beat in remaining dry ingredients, until incorporated.

Spray 12-cup muffin tin or put wrappers in it.  Spoon batter into tins and bake until muffins are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve. They freeze wonderfully!

Different kinds:

Feel free to add chocolate chips, nuts or blueberries to main mix or follow some of the variations below.

Raspberry Almond Muffins
Follow the main recipe and add 3 tablespoons almond extract with butter and sugar. Spoon one-half of a portion of batter into each cup. With small spoon, make a well in center of each cup of dough. Spoon 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons raspberry (or other flavored) jam into each well. Cover with remaining batter.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
Follow the main recipe and add 3 tablespoons poppy seeds to the dry ingredients, and 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest to the butter-sugar mixture. While muffins are baking, heat 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice from 2 small lemons in small saucepan until sugar dissolves and mixture forms light syrup, 3-4 minutes. Brush warm syrup over warm muffins and serve.

Banana Walnut Muffins
Follow the main recipe adding 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg to dry ingredients, substituting 1 cup packed light brown sugar for granulated sugar and folding 1 1/2 cups finely diced bananas (about 3 small) and 3/4 cup chopped walnuts into finished batter.

What’s your favorite kind of muffin?

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August 26th, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Meal Planning

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“So…what’s for dinner?”

This doesn’t have to be a nightly question that you scratch your head over. Having a menu planned out means you never have to wonder, and you’ll save time and money!

Setting a plan for 1 week, 2 weeks, or even 1 month can:

  • Eliminate those pesky multiple trips to the grocery store every week.
  • Make use of what is on sale at your local stores, saving you money.
  • Cut back on wasted food
–cut back on eating out, take out, pizza delivery, etc.
  • The ability to buy in bulk from planning ahead can save you money as well.

How Do I Start?


First, consider how much storage space you have. Planning a menu for an entire month may not be possible if you don’t have a place to stash all of the ingredients you’ll need. Make an estimate of what your storage areas can accommodate.

Start small. Try planning for a few days at a time, then work your way up.

 Think about how and what your family eats, i.e. When a recipe says “serves 4,” does it really serve 4 in your family?
 Do you eat leftovers for dinner, or is this not an option?
 Does your family like to eat bread with every dinner? Is dessert a nightly occurrence? If so, will you have to make dessert nightly or can a pan of brownies last 2-3 nights?

A “Master Plan” may be a good starting point:
Sunday = Beef
Monday = Chicken
Tuesday = Leftovers
Wednesday = Pasta
Thursday = Vegetarian
Friday = Fish
Saturday = Mexican

Or, have a themed night every night (Italian night, Mexican night, Asian night, etc.).

To make things easier, keep a list of “family favorites” to rotate into your menu plan…customizing the plan to your family will help make it work for you.

When you’ve created a base for your meal planning, decide on the actual recipes/meals you want to make each night. Check the recipes against your existing items to avoid buying ingredients you already have on hand. Create the shopping list and head to the supermarket for an efficient trip!

What is your favorite menu planning resource?

 

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August 18th, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Online Recipe Storage & Organization

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I am a recipe hoarder. I have cookbooks, printed recipes, written recipes, and tons of bookmarked recipes stored in so many places on the Internet and on my computer.  I am in the process of trying to consolidate all these recipes in two places…on paper and online. My tried and true recipes that I make regularly are stored in a binder. These are printed and slipped in plastic sheet covers so they are easy to refer to and don’t get messy while i’m cooking.

Everything else is stored online. I also store my tried and true online so I can refer to them when out and about. Sometimes when you are grocery shopping you decide you really need to make that one favorite recipe for dinner. Here are a couple of ways you can organize your recipes online for safekeeping.

Evernote

I am currently making my household as paperless as I can with Evernote, and a desktop scanner. I bookmark my online recipes to Evernote, and scan my paper recipes and save them to the app as well. I love that i’m able to add tags so the recipes are easily searchable, and if I save my scanned documents right, the handwriting or typing becomes searchable too. I use the app Evernote Food on my phone and iPad to help search for the perfect recipes and view them when i’m on-the-go.

Paprika

This app can be used on mobile or desktop and is strictly for recipes. There is a nice built-in browser which helps you import recipes easily. One of the best parts is the grocery list, which adds up all your recipes and make a list from all the ingredients you need.

Pinterest

This is a great way to access recipes through imagery. Make different boards for food categories and save each recipe link cataloged there by picture and description. You can even add your own descriptions.

Online Storage Service (Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Drive)

Save each recipe as a file and organize by folders. This is a great way to access recipes from many different locations.

How do you organize your recipes?

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August 4th, 2014 at 10:10 am

Organizing Your Finances

Managing Your Finances

Wouldn’t you like to stop worrying about your finances? Making a plan and getting organized will help you understand your financial situation and lower your stress. I am constantly amazed at how many people find a budget so difficult to manage. Even people with an endless income can use a budget to manage their money and keep track of their spending and saving.

Here are some ways to get organized in the money department:

Create a budget. List all the different categories that you may spend money on. I like to get more specific but others do well with general categories. Take control of your money and assign realistic amounts to each category. Pay attention to categories that you have some control over and can use coupons or specials savings on ~ Eating out, groceries, utilities, and clothing.

Set goals for your finances.  Think about what you want to accomplish over the next year, 5 years, or even more. Set up ways to save for those goals. It is great to get the kids involved in these ideas too.  Also think about retirement and what you want to accomplish savings wise.

Set up a way to keep track of your finances. This may be done online, through spreadsheets or apps, or with pen and paper in a finance journal. Find what way works best for you.

Search online for ways to save and organize. There are tons of coupons and saving strategies available on the Internet. Most companies have some sort of loyalty program, app, or newsletter signup where you can be alerted when there are savings available. When making a big purchase, do research online to find the best price possible. Buying pre-owned or used items such as furniture, cars, etc. can cut prices significantly. Create a “savings strategy” and stick to it. I.e. Every week you clip the newspaper coupons, do an online search and print, and organize your coupons in a booklet or folder so it’s readily available when you shop. Set up an email account just for savings, and have all your newsletters and coupon emails in one place.

Make sure your family is on board. Make sure everyone is part of this process. If you are the only one trying to save money, the other family members will still make trips out to eat, keep the lights on in unused rooms, and plan extravagant vacations.  If you are all on task, more money will appear in your savings and all your financial dreams will come true!

How do you manage your money?

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August 1st, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Displaying Medals and Trophies

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With two boys who are actively involved in sports, we have to anticipate that sooner or later, medals and trophies will be won and the kids will be eager to display them. My son recently earned his first medal in a soccer tournament, and I wanted to find a fun way to display it so he can remember his accomplishments.

I took a regular towel bar found at your local hardware or department store and attached it to the wall. Then, I looped the medal over it so it hangs nicely. A quick and easy way to display! As you can see, I have displayed his trophies on a shelf underneath as well. I think I might even add some type of quote or word art about hard work or success to finish it off!

It’s important to remind your kids that with some hard work they can accomplish so much!

How do you organized/display your kids’ trophies?

 

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July 21st, 2014 at 10:44 am

Making Homemade Decorations for Your Home

Taking the time to add decor to your home can elevate it to a new level. The hard part is that decorations can be costly and decorating a room can become expensive fast. I like to take less expensive items and make them into something else! One of my favorite homemade items is my Elevated Glass Vase.

vase

To make each of these it cost $2 plus the cost of a little glue. There are many different types of glue you can use, so pick out your favorite brand for this.

This project started with a tall straight vase. Get creative. Vary colors, styles, and heights of vases. Then you need two shorter candle holders as shown here.

vase needs

You simply glue the candle holder to the bottle of the vase. I like to put the vase upside down and apply the candle holder that way.  Let dry and fill. I have filled with shells, christmas ornaments, marbles and more. This is a great way to add color through decor.

finished vase

I have also taken candle holders and attached to plates to make a cake plate or an item to display or serve on.

 

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July 11th, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Everyday Homemaking Hacks

I am a huge fan of things that make my life easier. In my home there are things I have adapted that I would love to share with you.

My charging cord doesn’t quite reach the corner of my couch, and my iPhone is always running out of battery when I sit down to relax for the evening. I use one of these hooks to keep my cord easy to grab when it is needed.

charger

 

With two boys, there is always a need for a garbage can in our van. I took a simple cereal container and velcroed it to our center console. It easy to reach so we don’t have garbage all over the car.

garbage

 

Our school collects labels, box tops, and milk caps. An easy way to collect them is by taping a sandwich bag inside the cabinet. It’s easy to store away and out of plain sight, and I always know where they are.

box tops

 

We cannot have enough of these in our home. They collect my papers, photos, the boys stuff and more.

magnetboard

 

We recently remodeled our house and barely had to pound a nail in the wall because we hung all of our pictures with sticky velcro. It is easy to remove for dusting or changing of the photos, but is securely fastened to the wall.

hangphoto

What are some of your favorite tips or tricks to make life a little easier?

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July 10th, 2014 at 3:19 pm

5-Ingredient Recipes

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I’ve been trying some new recipes, and it seems like they involve so much time and so many ingredients. I try to plan my meals and visit the food store once a week, but that one visit to the food store always takes forever because there are so many things to buy! After a particularly long night of cooking, I decided to check out some simple 5-ingredient meals and was pleasantly surprised at how much less time they took to prep and cook, and how much less cleaning I had to do after! Simple recipes often end up saving you money because there’s less to buy and the ingredients are usually common.

Sloppy Joes in Corn Tortillas

Jalapeño Basil Pork Chops

Flank Steak Pinwheels

Chicken Parmesan

Express Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya

Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken Nuggets

Sundried Tomato Chicken

Black Bean Quesadillas (or any quesadilla, in fact!)

“Last-Minute” Lasagna

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