Friday, September 28, 2007

Building, Breaking, and Blowing Things Up!!

Those are the three "Bs" in our home--they probably are in yours also, especially if you have boys. Fortunately, at their current ages, we are much more heavy on the building part of things!! Our boys love to build! They've got lots of Legos and they like to build with the Magnetix (shown above). They received some of these for Christmas a few years ago. The Magnetix are wonderful if you are ever looking for toys in addition to Legos. Our children also found a large bag of the Magnetix at a garage sale this summer. Moms, please give your sons lots and lots of things to build with--they will get really creative, just sit back and watch. Have a blessed weekend!!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Caramel Apples

As you can tell by the date of this photo, we cheated--we made caramel apples in July!! And we didn't even melt all of the caramels. We happened to be at Cracker Barrel, and they had this kit which came with the sticks, a tray of caramel (all you had to do was heat it in the microwave), and sprinkles, chopped nuts, and toffee bits. The kit was not too expensive--I should have purchased a couple of them, because the next time I went back to Cracker Barrel, there weren't any. I wanted to save it for the Fall, but my son had other ideas so, needless to say, we had them in late July. Now is the perfect time to be making caramel apples with your children, and it is a wonderful way to enjoy being in the kitchen and spending time together!! Have a blessed day!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's The Small Things!

Little things can make a huge difference--even kitchen towels--and they don't have to be expensive. A lot of my kitchen towels look like I've been using them a long time, and I don't know why I haven't thrown them out. I think it's because my parents told me long ago not to waste things. But I did buy these three kitchen towels the other day and they have made quite a difference rather than hanging my old, ugly ones on the oven handle. My dear husband said they were too pretty to use for drying his hands. If you have some type of dollar store near you, check out their towels. You will probably be pleasantly surprised by some of the things they do carry that don't cost much money.

What bargains have you found lately for your home? Have a blessed day!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

I have been experimenting making different types of cookies for a craft and cookie sale being held later this year at our church. I made these cookies last week and my younger son said they "were delicious." This recipe was pulled from and, if you like peanut butter, you will like these!

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
40 miniature chocolate covered peanut butter cups, unwrapped

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap the peanut butter cups, put them in a plastic-type container, and then put them in the freezer. (A lot of the comments on suggested doing this as they won't melt when you are pushing them into your cookie later--I agree with this.)

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda, then set aside.

Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter, and brown sugar until fluffy, then set aside. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and milk (I would add one more tablespoon of milk to make them a little more moist) to your sugar mixture. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix well.

Shape these into 40 balls (I believe mine made around 32 or so) and place each ball into an ungreased mini muffin pan. Bake at 375 degrees for about 7-1/2 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately press a mini peanut butter cup into each ball. I then sprinkled with decorative sprinkles. Cool and carefully remove from the pan. These are best eaten within a day or two of making them. Enjoy!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Day Out!

This weekend my older son and I spent the day out shopping, while my dear husband and younger son travelled to grandma's house. When it was time for lunch, my son wanted to go to Culver's. YUM!! (The photo above I took of the place mat that's placed on your tray.) I had never been before--what a great place!! You place your order at the counter and then the food is delivered to your table. But the best part is the terrific looking custard you can order. My son had a shake, of which I managed a few sips between eating my fries and patty melt, and it was really good! His cheddarburger was huge, and the crinkle style fries tasted terrific. Needless to say, the place was packed. At the end of the meal, he smiled telling me that "we really need to come here more often." I'm sure we'll be going back sometime soon! If you have the opportunity to visit a Culver's, most likely you will definitely enjoy it!! Have a blessed day!!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Slag Glass

When we were at a garden center/feed store this past spring, I got out of the car and noticed these wonderful chunks of glass. My dear husband informed me it was called slag glass. They had all of these beautiful colors, so I picked up one in blue (shown above) and one in purple. When the sunlight shines upon these pieces of glass, they are absolutely stunning to look at. To this day, I wish I had bought more pieces of this glass to put in all kinds of spots around our garden. The pieces of glass do add a nice touch to the garden. Oh well, there is always next spring!! Have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fall Crafting

Above is a photo of fall leaves that were painted and then pressed onto large brown paper bags to create a placemat. A few years ago, my son did a project at school that involved painting leaves and then pressing them onto a sweatshirt. I liked the idea so much that I used it for a women's fellowship meeting last fall. You can simply go out into your yard and gather some leaves and press them flat into a book for a few days until you are ready to use them. I found the big brown paper bags at Wal-mart in the garbage bag section and took them home and cut sections of the bags into placemat size. Then I used fall colors of paint--red, yellow, orange, green, and brown--and painted the vein side of the leaf and then turned the leaf over and pressed the leaf (painted side down) onto the placemat. Keep pressing on the leaf for a little while to make sure the paint is evenly distributed on your placemat and then peel off gently. This way, the leaf's veins will show on the paper. This is a fun project to do with kids, although I'm sure the sweatshirt would go over better with them!! Have a blessed day!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Have a Happy Day!!

This morning, I was outside cleaning out the garden and picking the last remaining tomatoes and peppers. Then I brought them in and was cutting the peppers into rings and strips in order to freeze them. I sliced off the top portion of this pepper and looked down only to notice a little "smiley face" in the pepper. I did a double take and thought, oh, I need to post this on the blog. With that, may you all have a happy day and enjoy the fall season!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Chicken with Sauce

...Bone Suckin' Sauce, that is! This sauce is wonderful, and the next time you are at Cracker Barrel Restaurant, you might want to pick some up. I originally picked up the original style of this sauce, and then went on-line an ordered some of their thicker style.

Chicken with Sauce

4 chicken breasts
1 jar Bone Suckin' Sauce

Place the chicken breasts (I used frozen) in a slow cooker on low for about 5 hours. Take them out after that time and then cut them into chunks. Remove the chicken juices from the slow cooker and discard. Put the chicken back into the slow cooker and pour the sauce on top. You can then cook on low for another 3-4 hours. Enjoy!!

The sauce is really good, and so I wised up and googled "Bone Suckin' Sauce" and ordered several bottles to keep on hand. I have also used the original style of the sauce with chunks of chicken and pit ham slow cooked together. The combination of the two meats with the sauce also tastes really good! Have a blessed day!!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Juncus Big Twister

This plant I found out Wal-mart a few weeks ago. I'd never seen anything like it, so decided that I would give it a try and plant it in our garden. It mentioned that it will survive to -10 degrees, so I'm not sure if it will survive winter. It has these long, green corkscrew type spindles--in other words, I'm not really sure what they are called (laughing)!! I tried to find out some information about this plant by doing an Internet search, but there was not much information out there. It sounds as if it doesn't necessarily do well as a houseplant, and does quite well in wet soil. We shall see if it comes back next spring.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Glade's Flameless Candle

...aaahhhhh, the power of marketing. When seeing the commercial for Glade's Flameless Candle, I was wondering how it worked. On my last trip to Wal-mart, at the end of an aisle, there it was, so naturally I picked one up--the Clean Linen scent. I went home, followed the instructions on the package, and the result is shown above. It operates on batteries. The flameless candle gives off a nice scent every so often--it has a scented oil bottle that you put in the base. Also, if you press down in the center of the candle, the light will come on and flicker just like a candle. My husband, who as an engineering background, was also impressed with how they made the candle flicker. I imagine a candle ring with flowers or some type of decorative based could be placed around the bottom of the candle. If you are looking for something different to try in the way of home scents, this is something you may enjoy. Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Today Has Been a Blur!!

Do you ever have days like this--they just seem like a blur because you've been so busy all day that you haven't had time to sit and reflect? Today has been one of those days where all I've been doing is running. The children will be home any minute, and then the running will start again before 5:00 p.m. and won't end until 8:30 p.m. or so. I'm not especially fond of these days because I feel like outside influences are taking way too much time that they shouldn't. How do you feel about days like these? The picture above was taken by our son in the inside of a restaurant that has huge fish tanks and jellyfish lights, but it definitely fits with today.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

First Pumpkin of the Season

This is the first pumpkin of the season from our garden--although he's a little leaky because I ended up pulling most of the top stem off!! We haven't planted pumpkins for a couple of years because there's not a lot of time to check them daily. We decided to plant a few hills this year because we love having them in the fall, but again this year there was just not enough time to check on them regularly. Imagine my surprise when I found this guy a few weeks ago--I figured we wouldn't have any pumpkins because they just didn't get regular care--i.e, we just planted them and let them go. He's not very big, and also noticed there are more pumpkins on their way--hooray!! Pumpkins take a lot of room to grow--if you have the room, try growing some--I did notice some of the pumkin vines were growing up into our pine trees. They are also just great for the kids in the fall!! Have a very blessed day!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mums Gone Wild!

Chrysanthemums, that is! We love mums! Last year I planted about 10 new mum plants in a relatively small garden area (I planted these in memory of my mother)--one didn't survive, but the rest really took off and grew quite large. Two of the mums bloomed this summer, and the light purple one shown above is now showing glorious color. Am patiently waiting for the others to start blooming. We did try and make sure to keep these watered frequently this spring and summer, plus we had some great rainfall that really helped. I also planted some mums last year on the south side of our house in direct sun--most of them did not come back, I think it was just too hot. If you love mums, now is the time to plant as you will find lots of them at your local garden center or nursery. These are also great for fall decorating. Have a blessed day!!

Monday, September 10, 2007


We love brats!! I should also say that we bought these brats from Kurzweil's Country Meats in the Kansas City, Missouri, area. They've got lots of great meats, but somehow we managed to attach quite well to all the wonderful brats and polish sausage they have! They are delicious! And when we travel to Kansas City or Branson, we always make sure to stop there on the way home.

Brats with Peppers and Onions

1 package of your favorite brats
1 small onion, sliced into thin rings
1-2 peppers (or more), sliced into thin strips or rings

Place the brats in a slowcooker for 2-3 hours on low. When they are heated through, remove them and brown them in 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. (Sometimes if you cook them long enough in the slow cooker, they will brown themselves--this just speeds up the process a little bit.) Then put the brats back in the slowcooker. Take your sliced onions and peppers and put them into the same frying pan with the remaining oil and heat through until a little brown or almost tender. Put the peppers and onion in the slowcooker with the brats and let all heat through. You will be able to tell when it's done by the softness of the peppers and onions. You can either eat these plain or put on your favorite brat buns!! Enjoy

Friday, September 7, 2007

Miniature Roses

A few years ago, I was at a local nursery browsing all of the wonderful plants and flowers they had when I stumbled across some miniature roses--oh my, were they stunning!! Absolutely breathtaking!! I planted two other minature roses, one which has orange-pink petals and has already bloomed (I never took any pictures either--that will teach me!). Of course, you may have to wait until next spring or summer to find these at your local nursery. They are small and take up very little space. If you have a small spot in your garden and wish to add some gorgeous color, try these--I don't think you will be disappointed. Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Hot Beef Sandwiches

This is a recipe found over at I made them last year for my husband, and he really liked them. Needless to say, they've become a regular in our home.

Hot Beef Sandwiches

1-1/2 to 1-3/4 pounds sirloin tip steak
1 packet of Italian salad dressing mix (dry)
1-1/2 cups water

Place your steak in a slow cooker. Cover with water and add salad dressing mix (I believe mine was the zesty style). Cook on low for 7 hours, then up to high for 1-2 hours. Take the meat out when finished, put on a plate and shred with a fork. (You will know when the meat is done because it will shred very easily.) Place the meat back in the slow cooker for a few minutes to mix with the juices, then serve on your favorite hoagie-style roll. You can use the juices for dipping. You should be able to get 4 sandwiches out of this recipe, depending on how much of the beef you place on each roll. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Way Too Many Trees!!!

This is a very small portion of our back yard. As you can see it is quite overgrown. We had a tree service come yesterday to clear out 10 trees including 3 apple trees--we have many more trees to be cut down next spring also. I have every intention of laying down landscaping cloth in this area followed by mulch, and then adding some nice compact plants and shrubs and stepping stones to create a meandering path (sounds lovely, doesnt it??--ha!!). Follow along and we will see how much I can get accomplished with this area this fall before the first snowfall. Have a blessed day!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Budgeting for Home Maintenance

It would be nice if it only took pennies but, unfortunately, budgeting for home repairs and maintenance takes much more than that. I have heard professional money managers discuss that you should budget annually 1% of the value of your home for repairs and maintenance. Personally, I think that is on the conservative side, especially if you have an older home where items tend to all break down at the same time--ha! So, for instance, if your home is valued at $100,000, you should put away $1,000 for repairs and maintenance. In today's economy, I think 1% is much too low of a percentage figure and, personally, 2-3% makes much better sense for our household. When we first bought our home, the pressure tank that runs our well broke down about one or two months after we moved in--OUCH! We also had a wraparound deck which never had been treated or stained so the boards were literally falling apart--another OUCH! Budgeting for home repairs and maintenance is one financial area that we do not budget as much as we should. Even replacing something as simple as light bulbs or something more difficult such as replacing the flooring in a room should be budgeted for. And you never know when the air conditioning or water heater will break down...

What's one item that unexpectedly needed to be replaced in your home that you wish you had budgeted for?