Friday, August 31, 2007

Sauce for Meatballs

We like meatballs, both homemade and frozen. And if you can find a good sauce or gravy to put on them, they're even better!! This is a very simple recipe that was given to me by another parent at the school where our children attend. She took them for Teacher Appreciation Day, and they loved them!! I make this at home when I'm crunched for time, and it's a great slow cooker sauce.

Sauce for Meatballs

1 cup ketchup
1 cup grape jelly

That's it!! Simply make your favorite meatballs, or use frozen. Put the meatballs in the slow cooker and then add the ingredients above to the slow cooker. You can increase the amount in equal parts if you want more sauce. It doesn't look too appetizing when you add the jelly, but after it cooks down, it's wonderful!! It normally takes 2-1/2 to 3 hours for the sauce to blend together. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 30, 2007


I found this rather large pepper (this photo was really close up!) in the garden a few weeks ago, along with other, not quite so large, peppers. The peppers this year had a late start because I let too many weeds grow around them--they really needed room to breathe, so to speak. Once I cleared the weeds away and allowed them to have lots of sunshine, they took off and grew. The nice thing about peppers is they do not take a tremendous amount of room to grow. Some peppers were sliced thin and others were chopped and put in the freezer. They are great for stir frys or other dishes where you want some additional taste and color. Or, in our case, we love them sauteed with onions and then fixed with brats! Yum!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hibiscus in the Garden

This is one of the most beautiful flowers we have in our garden. When I planted it a couple of years ago, it was a rather small plant. Little did I realize how large and beautiful it would become. It needs some room to grow and good, regular watering. The blooms are quite large, and this photo really doesn't do justice to how beautiful the blooms are. We also have one that has purple flowers on the plant, but because it was planted under our pine trees, the blooms are not producing that well. I've also seen another hibiscus plant in our area that has red blooms and is quite beautiful. This is one flower that you really can't go wrong with!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Hidden Treasures"

You're probably thinking "what is that?" It's certainly doesn't look like one of those heirlooms you find in the attic. It happens to be the icky candy wrappers and crumbs of food under the sofa cushions--YUK!! My dear husband was picking up some toys this weekend in our living room and was looking under the sofa cushions when he stumbled across this mess. Having just arrived home from a meeting, I also took a look and was disgusted at the icky mess. Anyone who has children and lets them eat in the living room--yes, we are guilty--should be very aware of what is lurking under their sofa cushions. It is not a pretty sight!! Go ahead and take a peek under your cushions. If it looks anything like ours, pick up the larger scrap pieces and then take the vacuum hose right away to the smaller objects and get rid of it, you will feel much better knowing you did (as the second picture shows a clean sofa cushion). During the cleaning session, we did find a few "hidden treasures" under our cushions--2 remote controls and our older son made out with $1.49 in change, not a bad you know what's lurking under your sofa cushions?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Easy Chicken Salad

Whenever you are short on time and looking for a quick sandwich to make, this recipe is fast and easy.

Easy Chicken Salad

1 can of white chicken breast (9.75 ounce)

1 to 1-1/2 tbsp. green onion tops

2 to 3 tbsp. shredded cheddar cheese

3 tbsp. mayonnaise

Seasoned black pepper to taste

Mix the first four ingredients together (you may need to shred the canned chicken with a fork), and then add pepper to taste. Serve on your favorite bread. This basic recipe will make 2 to 3 sandwiches. I've also used a little onion powder or some chopped onion if I don't have green onion. This recipe is very easy to double or triple. I've tripled the recipe and then put the mixture on cocktail buns to take to fellowship gatherings. You won't need any salt in this recipe because of the canned chicken. Enjoy!

P.S. If anyone can tell me what to do to make my ingredient list show up with single spacing, I would appreciate it very much.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I Don't Have the Heart

to open these. Even though these would come in handy, they belonged to my mother who is deceased. I've been thinking about what decade these tea towels were made in, and I am thinking possibly the 1950s (am thinking this based purely by looking at the hairstyle on the package--please correct me if I'm wrong)? I'm almost wondering if she didn't receive these as a shower or wedding gift. Though it is sad to lose someone you love, when we look at these heirlooms, they bring back some wonderful memories of that person, and you somehow try to imagine in your mind what their life was like at the time they would have used those tea towels. I don't see tea towels being used much anymore--my, how times have changed! Have a good weekend everyone!!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Simple Centerpieces

Centerpieces do not have to be elaborate--they can be very simple. The one above sits on our kitchen table. You can use any type of cloth or doily--this doily has a very nice appearance, and I've placed a Yankee Candle on it. Centerpieces add a nice touch to a very plain table, and they don't have to cost a lot of money. Fresh flowers from the garden tucked into a vase or small pitcher are also nice. Look around your home and see what might work on your kitchen or dining table. Let the creativity come out!! What do you have as a centerpiece on your table?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Back to School!!

It's back to school time!! I admire those mothers who homeschool, and think about doing it every now and then. Our youngest has special needs and does wonderfully in a structured school environment, but that's not what this post is really about. If you're sending your child off to school or use a backpack on a regular basis, please consider buying one of good quality. I've heard friends comment that they bought their son or daughter a backpack from a discount store, and the backpack usually falls apart after a short period of time. Spend a little more money to buy a backpack that provides durability over the years--you won't regret it. If I may also suggest, try not to purchase one that has a type of print on it such as animals or flowers (and believe me I think those backpacks are really cute!), because sooner or later they will want something that is very plain, especially if you have a son. Sporting good stores are also a good choice for finding more durable backpacks.

Have a blessed day!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Morning Glory

I snapped this photo the other day while working in the garden. We have lots of these morning glories. They are a very pretty blueish purple flower. This plant would be a good choice if you have an arbor or trellis as it seems to be a climber and has "taken over" some of our garden fence. As I was looking at this flower, I noticed a little green thing down in the middle of it, and then he decided to crawl out and make his presence known. I had never seen this type of spider before. If anyone has any idea what type of spider this is, please let me know.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sausage Cheese Bake

This recipe was found over at You can make it for breakfast or for brunch. I've taken it to church events--it's easy to make and tastes pretty good.

Sausage Cheese Bake

1 pound pork sausage
6 eggs
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon mustard
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (or use any kind)
2 slices bread

Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with Pam cooking oil. Tear the bread into pieces to cover the bottom of baking dish. Saute sausage until brown. Beat the eggs with milk and mustard. Layer the bread, sausage, and cheese in the dish, and then pour the egg mixture over the top. Cover and put in refrigerator overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

The recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of mustard--I would cut that amount back to 1/2 teaspoon and use a mustard which is subtle in flavor. Also, the recipe calls for it to bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes--the times I've made this, it takes longer to cook and at a higher temperature. So I bake it the first 1/2 hour at 350 degrees, then bake it another 20-25 minutes at 375-400 degrees and remove the tin foil so it can lightly brown. You may want to see what temperature works best for your oven.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Fading Days of Summer

The days of summer are slowly starting to fade away--the nights are getting shorter, the blooms are starting to dull, the children are heading back to school. Football is on people's minds. There is much work to be done in the garden in the coming weeks. We have a lot of weeding to do, and many tree branches and vines need to be trimmed. It's also about time to start thinking about any flowers you may want to plant for next year. Any local nursery or garden center has a variety of flowers or trees to choose from. Simply take a look around the outside of your home and envision what might look good in your garden!! You might be surprised!

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cleaning the Microwave

In cleaning the microwave, I used a tip from the show "How Clean is Your House?" In the top photo, it is somewhat difficult to see the stains, but much easier to see the "clean" in the bottom photo. Take a bowl of water, put in slices of fresh lemon, and then heat the bowl in the microwave for 3-5 minutes. All of the steam that is created loosens the stains, and you can wipe the microwave clean. Typically, I don't have lemons on hand, so I use lemon juice instead. This is a very easy method of cleaning the microve, and you will see "fresh" results! Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Birthday Toast

Today is my birthday! That is a piece of toast with peanut butter and a candle made by my 8-year-old son with a little help from dad. What do they say, 44 is the new 34 or something like least that's what I tell my children since they seem to have no problem stating in a very clear, loud manner how old I am to anyone who will listen to them--Ha! On a few days it seems more like 44 is the new 54--that's when you wake up with an aching anything.

I love being in my 40s--I do believe there's just such an awareness of what is important in life--God, family, friends. My husband woke up a little while ago and wished me a Happy Birthday, and then my son woke up, went downstairs, and brought up a couple of boxes of Russell Stover chocolates--yum!! My dear husband is taking the day off and we are going to lunch and a movie with the boys!! I'm sure they will be excited--I know I am!!

Have a blessed day!

Have Trouble Opening a Lid??

This is a nifty little tool that helps you with opening the lids off of your jars. It really comes in handy. I have noticed that from age 35 onward, I started to struggle with getting the lids off of jars. When my husband is home, I will usually ask him to help me with a difficult lid. My mother use to take a knife and bang on a lid that wouldn't open hard enough to loosen it--I also did that for a while. I figured I was going to have to buy some new knives if I continued this way. You get to the point where you are thinking "there's got to be a better way." It was ordered from Amazon and expands for opening lids up to 4"--not sure who manufactured it. So if you're starting to have difficulty with opening lids, you might want to think about buying one of these and save your knives.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Easy Goulash

For a quick and easy meal, try goulash. It's fairly basic and tastes wonderful. Here's the recipe I use.

Easy Goulash

1 pound hamburger
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can tomatoes (15-16 ounce)
1 can tomato sauce (15-16 ounce)
2 cups small elbow macaroni, uncooked
Seasoned black pepper

Saute chopped onion and chopped green pepper in olive oil and set aside. Brown hamburger in same pan used for onion and pepper and drain when finished. Add onion, green pepper, tomatoes and tomato sauce to browned hamburger. While this is simmering, cook the macaroni. When macaroni is finished cooking, add to hamburger mixture. Finish by adding seasoned black pepper, salt, and paprika to taste. Let simmer for a few minutes until heated through before serving.

You can always add an orange pepper or red pepper in place of the green one--or use a pepper from the garden. Also, for those of you who garden and can tomatoes, pull out a jar of those tomatoes instead of one from the grocery store.

Serve with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

When Did Sunday.....

become a day of work? For the past few years, I have started to notice that Sundays are no longer a day of rest, but rather working to get caught up with tasks not accomplished during the week such as laundry, small amounts of shopping, cleaning, and cooking or baking. After attending church on Sunday mornings, the afternoon is filled with the above activities. It no longer seems a day of rest or spending simple leisurely time. This didn't happen when I was a child. Our Sundays were simple. I spent the afternoons with my parents relaxing or we travelled to my grandparents house and spent the day with cousins. My mother didn't shop nor did she do much cooking on Sundays. Now, even sports activities are taking up our Sundays. I feel a very strong need to get back to Sundays that don't have a lot of activity taking place, but struggle with this as I'm sure many people do today.

How are your Sundays spent??

Friday, August 10, 2007

Mexican Heather

This plant is called Mexican Heather. I planted it this spring when it was much smaller, but with the nice spring rains we had, and all the rain we have had lately, it is really growing. I'd never heard of this plant, but understand that it grows a into a nice compact size. It has small purple flowers which add a nice colorful touch to the garden.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies

Baking is one of my favorite things to do. This recipe is from one of my children's teachers, and it has become one of our favorites.
Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 cup oatmeal
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces chocolate chips

In large bowl, mix the sugar, brown sugar, and butter until creamy. Add peanut butter, vanilla, and eggs into the sugar/butter mixture stirring until well blended.

In another bowl, mix flour, oatmeal, baking soda, and salt. Add this to the above creamed mixture and mix well until blended.
Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoon on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes (or until cookie edges start to brown). Let cool 1 minute before removing from cookie sheet.

These cookies are wonderful!! I mix all ingredients by hand and use a small "scooper" so the cookies are formed the same size. And adding some extra chocolate chips make them a little richer!! You can also place cookie dough by rounded teaspoons onto baking sheet, place in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes, then place the frozen cookies into a container. This way, you will be able to bake a few at a time whenever you want them. It also helps if they are at room temperature before you bake them. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Water Lily

I was looking out our kitchen window the other day and saw this very beautiful water lily in full bloom. Several years ago when we bought our home, it had four small ponds on the property. The ponds already had some water plants, but I wanted to put a hardy water lily plant in the pond. I started by simply putting the basic plant in a plastic pot (I believe I put potting soil around it) and then set it by the edge of the pond under water. Well, a few weeks later, the pot fell down deeper into the center of the pond, and it has produced these stunning pink blooms ever since. This one water lily that was planted has really taken over the majority of one of our ponds. It does provide some nice shade for our koi. I hope you had a blessed day!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Transforming Furniture

This used to be in our kitchen and we stored food items in it--it was all white. We redid our dining room and made it into a utility room. This storage piece now resides in there. I ended up painting it grey, and the color turned out really nice. I put our china pieces inside on the left side. The other three drawers on the top to middle right now hold plates and other pieces we use. In the bottom top two baskets, I put kitchen towels while the bottom baskets hold potatoes and lasagna noodles. Finding other ways to put furniture to use can sometimes be difficult, but with a little creativity and handiwork, the results can turn out just great!!

Monday, August 6, 2007

It's Hot

It was very hot on Sunday and is supposed to be very hot the rest of the week. Noone in our family likes the heat very well--we just don't function very well when the temperature gets too high. I told myself at the beginning of the summer that I was going to try to not complain about the heat--did very well until the past few week or so. With the heat, it is also very humid. Our windows are steamy. I will need to water the tomatoes and peppers today, along with the flowers. When it gets this hot, even the children have no desire to do anything outside. I do have lots of cleaning to do today, and will continue on with canning tomatoes. If I get a bit of energy later in the early evening, I may and try to mow the lawn, otherwise it may have to wait until it cools down a bit.

Friday, August 3, 2007


This year, I planted 8 tomato plants--not very many. They have, however, produced quite a few tomatoes. Three of the plants were of the roma variety, which have produced a lot of tomatoes. I have been canning them--it is wonderful to pull out a jar of tomatoes in the middle of winter for soups and stews. We received a lot of nice, spring rains which really helped the tomatoes. I have tried to water them every other day this summer. It has really been hot lately, but Wednesday we received a substantial downpour, so I may not need to water them for a while. We also like to slice them and pour French dressing over them. Yum!!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Time to Start

I have been wanting to blog for a while after reading some blogs that I just love! I have no idea what direction this blog will take, but wanted to write about daily happenings of being home, along with sharing recipes, thoughts about homemaking, children, and gardening tips. I'm sure there will be other things as well. A little about me--I am blessed to be married to a wonderful man going on 11 years this September. We have two boys who keep me quite busy. When my children are at school, I spend quite a bit of time outside working on our garden and yard. I love being at home and all that home has to offer. I thought I would start blogging when my children headed back to school this fall, but realized the time to start is now.