Monday, December 27, 2010

Be back as soon as we get down off this mountain!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

And the winners are...

Thank you for all of your amazing Thrifty Tips!  I will be doing some posts in the future to share those amazing tips from all of you!  What brilliant readers and friends!

Here are the winners...randomly picked by Cody who threw out some numbers:

#6 -- Mark and Laura

Trader Joes  
#13 -- Jenn

#20 -- Katie

Frosted Sugar Cookies
#5 -- Manda

Please email me your addresses at and I'll get your prizes in the mail as soon as I can!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Blueberry Pancakes!!!

Saturday morning, the kids were up bright and early. 

Well, 8:30 felt bright and early. 

My body was hoping for 9:00, but I'll take it! 

I actually took it quite cheerfully because I had one thing in mind:  BLUEBERRY PANCAKES!  Don't they just say HAPPY SATURDAY MORNING!?!

I found a great new recipe from epicurious awhile back.  I loved its light fluffy pancakes, but hated to give up our usual healthy whole-wheat pancakes.  So, I substituted half of the flour with whole wheat flour, and we think they actually turned out even better!  Give them a try!  You'll be sure to have a Happy Saturday Morning!

Blueberry Pancakes

1 c. cake flour + 2 Tablespoons  (I substituted 1 c. unbleached flour + 2 T. cornstarch)
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. sugar (agave nectar, applesauce or honey work great as substitutes)
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
2 c. milk
2 large eggs
3 T. melted butter

Whisk dry ingredients together in large bowl.  Whisk milk and eggs together in another bowl.
Gradually add milk and egg mixture to dry ingredients.  Mix in 3 T. melted butter.
Blueberries can be gently added to the batter now or sprinkled on pancakes while cooking.

Heat griddle or heavy pan and brush with butter.  Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto skillet.  Cook until bottom is golden brown--about 1 1/2 minutes.  Turn and cook until other side is brown--about 1 minute.
 Serve with maple syrup! (and a big glass of milk!)

Light, fluffly and blueberry-ry!

What's your favorite Happy Saturday Meal?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Goody Redone

I have several friends who are just amazing at repurposing, upcycling, and reusing items to become beautiful fashion pieces or home accessories. 

Me...not so much. 

I love what they do. 

I see the beautiful results. 

But I don't have the vision. 

At best, on an extraordinarily good day with my crafty mom in town, I might be a wimpy copycat. 

I love the talent that ends people up on blogs and Etsy with a screen full of amazing creations.

Now, give me something foody, spark an idea for recreation, and I'm all over that like white on rice(Cody's most favorite phrase)

A sweet gal at church thrust a box of leftover salted nut rolls toward me and said, "I've heard these are great cut up and dipped in chocolate." 

Was that a challenge? 

A dare to try it? 

Okay.  Game on.

Unfortunately, while the culinary lightbulb flicked on in my mind, the small babe in my belly did a nauseous turn and dared me to try them without losing my lunch

So, these treats, my friends, were a pure labor of love.  There was absolutely no way one would be making it's way to my lips. 

I didn't think just plain chocolate was too very exciting, so I decided to mix equal parts of chocolate and butterscotch chips for a Scotcheroo effect.

 One end took the plunge into the chocolaty mix...
After hanging out to dry on wax paper, a platter was loaded and taken to church.

They must have been tasty...almost 90 little nutty dippers were consumed! 

Upcycled candy bar success!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thrifty Thursday!

Thrifty Tip #52:  In honor of one year of finding and sharing ways to live a more thrifty, frugal life with great bargains and deals, a giveaway is in order!  

However, since this little blog generates no income, and I'm on a pretty thrifty budget, it's going to be a few little giveaways.  Okay?

Leave me a comment with your favorite thrifty tip for a chance to win a small giftcard to one of the following places:

Trader Joes

And the BIG prize:
1 dozen individually wrapped large sugar cookies--your choice of occasion

You have until Sunday, December 19 at midnight to enter!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Heavenly Hot Cocoa

I love to browse through magazines for new recipes and ideas.  Thanks to my iPhone, I no longer spend time copying those recipes I want to try, I just snap a picture! 
This cocoa recipe looked so unique from other recipes I'd seen, I knew we had to try it!  The ingredients were a bit pricey, but for around $24, I have enough supplies for a double batch, roughly 60 servings.  Our family definitely doesn't need 60 servings of hot cocoa, so some gifts were in order!

Last spring, I found some "carrot shaped" baggies on clearance, so I snagged them with Christmas Cocoa in mind!

We combined all the ingredients in a large bowl and then measured out 1/3 c. into our bags.  To make them look more crisp and pretty, we slipped the bag into another bag and topped it with marshmallows.  A label for directions finished our little project.
We filled tin pails with the cocoa and attached a Christmas card (Thanks to Vistaprint for the free Christmas postcards which we had printed blank on the backside!).
Cloe wrote a little note on each card.  
Voila!  Our gifts were finished!

Monday, December 13, 2010

All I Want for Christmas...

is my two front teeth!

You may have noticed, I'm a little more than thrilled that Cloe is missing her two front teeth just in time for Christmas!
My mom clipped this editorial from the Estherville Daily Snooze News on Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas.  It fits perfectly today!

Ask the people at one of our area retirement homes or senior centers how many Christmas presents they wanted and see what kind of answers you get.
Don't be surprised in you don't get an answer something like, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth".
That's the name of a song written in 1944 by Donald Gardner who asked his second grade class what they wanted for Christmas and noticed that almost all of the students had at least one front tooth missing as they answered in a lisp.
The song was published in 1948 after an employee of Witmark Music Company heard Gardner sing it at a music teachers conference.
Spike Jones & His City Slickers originally cut the song on vinyl December 6, 1948 and it topped the pop charts in 1949.  Other artists who have recorded the song have included George Straight, Danny Kaye with The Andrews Sisters, The Platters, The Kelly Family, Nat King Cole, The Chipmunks (our favorite!), the Hampton String Quartet, and the cast of Sesame Street.
So why on earth would such a silly song go over to big?
The answer probably lies in when the song was initially conceived and the roots that tap into the American psyche.
The year 1944, of course, was not a great one for America.  The country had gone through a ravaging depression and was in the midst of World War II.  Granted, we were winning, but there were a lot of American lives that were yet to be lost before the war was over.
The song's understated message is that we should be happy with what we already have.
That's worth repeating.
We should be happy with what we already have.
This Christmas, perhaps we should all count our blessings.  Do we have our health?  Do we have all our family?  Is our family happy and safe?
Those are important questions and answers -- far more important than whether we receive the gifts we wanted.
We need to remember too that we are ourselves gifts to those we love.  And that can be the most cherished gift of all.

Of course, my mind fills with so much more on the blessings of Christmas.  As I watched our Children's Christmas Program at church last night, I was so filled with joy for all of the children who were singing the blessings of Christmas!  Jesus Christ came in the form of a baby, sinless, perfect yet human, to be our Savior.  Our sin separates us from God.  There is no good deed or sacrifice from us that could make up for this separation from a Holy God.  Yet God loves His created people so much, He wants to have a relationship with us.  So He sent Christ to earth to take the punishment of the sins of all the world, becoming our Savior, and making a way for us to have a relationship with God.  
Is that the gift I'm truly satisfied with?  Materialism creeps in so quickly--especially at Christmas.  What do I model for my children?  I'm so challenged to live thankful and content with what we have as we rejoice in our Savior's birth!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

All dressed up!

 The annual Christmas program

The exhaustion that follows a star...
...complete with snoring!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thrifty Thursday!

Thrifty Tip #51:  Skip the holiday shopping frenzy, and make homemade Christmas gifts.

Whether you're a crafter or a baker, boundless ideas exist for gifts that will suit all your friends and family!

This creative friend has been turning out the cutest little homemade gifts!  What I wouldn't give to be her niece...that owl purse!  Too cute!

This sweet friend made the most yummy assortment of goodies to be delivered and shared.  Her chocolate mint brownie pops are going to earn her major brownie points!

As always, Martha Stewart as some great ideas in her Santa's Workshop.

What are some of your favorite sites for homemade gift ideas, patterns, recipes?
Please share!!!

I'll update this post with all of your great ideas and links!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Biggest Announcement Ever on This Blog!


Slightly overwhelmed.
 So sleepy.
Truly blessed!

Just one little sweet pea in there planning to join our family near the middle to end of July.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Crystal Snowflakes

It's that time again...
...time to find activities to keep little hands busy when it's too cold to play outside.
We're thankful for all the creative, crafty geniuses who are so willing to share their ideas!

Thanks to Martha Stewart's Craft Department, here's our favorite project from this week:

Martha Stewart has a great tutorial, but I'll attempt to give you 
a feeble 
a personalized one, too!

1.  Take a 12 in. pipe cleaner and cut it in thirds. 
(approx. 4 in. pieces)

2.  Twist pipe cleaners into snowflake shape and trim ends to 
1 1/2 to 2 in.
 Make a small loop on the longest end.  
Thread string or wire through the hole and attach to a craft stick.

 3.  Purchase Borax soap--only the 20 Mule Team brand will work.
(This was only $2.99 at Wal-mart.)

4.  Measure out nine tablespoons of soap into a quart container.

5.  Heat three cups of water to very warm--but not boiling.

 (Take cheesy pictures while water heats...)
6.  Pour hot water in container and dissolve soap.
Carefully hang snowflakes in water--adjust so snowflakes don't touch the container.

7.  Wait...and wait...and wait...

8.  Make more snowflakes and submerge in borax/water solution while waiting...
(snowflakes won't grown quite as big when more than one is added to the solution)

9.  Come back eight to twelve hours later for a full grown sparkly snowflake!
(Wait until Daddy gets home to let him explain the science behind the growing snowflakes!)
Sparkly fun!

What's your favorite winter or Christmas craft?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thrifty Thursday!

Thrifty Tip #50:  With the news reporting that food prices could spike more than 20% in next year,   you'll want to check out these ways to save on your grocery budget:

*Use coupons.  Coupons are like free money!  Don't be afraid to check out mobile coupons that load right up on your phone.  The average person that uses coupons saves around $500 a year!

*Buy generic store brands.  70% of people who try the store brand become loyalists to the store brand.  We love Target's Market Pantry at our house!

*Loyalty Cards have store savings automatically loaded on them--many times personalized savings are added as well or mailed to you.  Unfortunately, I do not know of any stores in the Des Moines area that offer loyalty cards.  Do you?

*Shop your pantry first.  Don't go to the store without making a list first.  Check what you have at home and use it.  Only buy what you need.

*Beware of impulse shopping.  Americans buy 2/3 of all purchases based on impulse.  (Isn't that crazy!)

*Avoid samples.  (Can't believe I'm using this one!)  Research shows trying samples gets your mouth salivating and increases your desire to purchase more things in general at the grocery store.

Just let these cheerful Sample Givers treat your children!

What tips do you have for saving $$$ on groceries?

*These tips are courtesy of the Today Show.  Thanks Ann Curry and Jean Chatzky!