Sunday, September 30, 2007

Swap Filled!

Wow!!!!! We are amazed and excited about the coming swap which filled up in about 24 hours! Thanks so much for your interst and keep watching for future swaps!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sisters' Shoebox Swap: Cozy

Yeah! We're so excited to announce our 2nd Sisters' Shoebox Swap!! You may remember from our last swap that we have a one word theme. For this swap, our theme will be cozy. We're leaving lots of room for your creativity here and all we ask is that your items fit into a shoe box. Since the boxes will be shipped by November 10th - we'd love it if the boxes included goodies for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So, here are all the details:

Swap sign-up is open until Friday, October 7th OR until we reach 50 swappers.

Swap partners will be assigned by October 10th. Boxes should be mailed by November 10th.

If you sign up, PLEASE be certain that you will follow through with the swap. We had a couple people drop out last time. We want everyone to have a GREAT experience!

To sign up, send an e-mail with your name, address, e-mail and blog address (if you have one) to You will receive a confirmation e-mail with a short questionnaire. These brief questions are simply a way for your partner to get to know you and your tastes to create a swap box you will enjoy!

You do not have to have a blog to participate.

International swapping will be coordinated if anyone is willing to ship internationally. We will not assume you will ship internationally unless you specify that you are willing to do so.

After we receive all the questionnaires back, we will coordinate partners and send out e-mails to you and your partner will all the info.

We hope you'll join this cozy fun!

To the beach.........

We're headed to Florida for some much-needed rest and relaxation this week. I'll be away all week and will not be posting. So, I will look forward to catching up with all of you when we return. Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Everything Apples!

Here's a bushel full of ideas for using apples! Enjoy! Following will be all my canning recipes for Apple Pie Filling, Apple Butter and Applesauce. And, links to lots of other apple ideas!

Our day of canning went well! I was so sticky during the process that I did not get any pictures! Oops!

One reader wanted to know how I was going to do this with the girls home and we had a great plan, but our plan did not go according to schedule! David called and said he had a required meeting to go to - so, they ended up getting to watch a movie during that time.

I love how my bushel of apples looks in this vintage cooler!

All this talk about apples reminds me of the Johnny Appleseed prayer, and I am indeed thankful for apples!
Oh, the Lord is good to me and so I thank the Lord for giving me the things I need: the sun, the rain and the appleseed. The Lord is good to me.
I've tried different ways and gadgets to peel, core and slice apples. The method I've landed on for being the most efficient and with the least headache is simply to use an apple slicer - it automatically removes the core and gets the apples into pieces. Just peel the pieces and slice to desired thickness. Another option I discovered at the end of the day yesterday is just to peel the entire apple with a vegetable peeler and then use the slicer - this seemed quick as well!

You can simply place the apples in a bowl that is filled with water (make sure the water covers the apple slices) and let them sit there until you have enough to start working with. Lots of sources say to add lemon juice, but I never do and they are always fine!

First, we started the Apple Butter because it has to cook down for so long, my friend Marcia and I combined this recipe from several others, so I call this M&M Apple Butter (and just for clarification, there are no M&M's in this recipe!)

Apple Butter

In a large dutch oven or soup kettle bring 4 c. apple juice or apple cider to a boil. Peel, core and chop about 8 lbs. of apples (approx. 15 large apples or 25 from the Happy Apple Farm). Place apples in hot juice and let cook until soft, about 40 minutes.

Remove from heat and ladle into food processor or blender in batches processing until smooth. Return to pan and add: 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground cloves, 1 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar.

Stir well and stir often!!!

Cook at a simmer/boil for 1 1/2-2 hours, until it cooks down and begins to thicken. Process half-pint jars in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. (Remember to add one minute for each 1,000 feet above sea level.)

A simple test to see if it is done is to take a cold plate and spoon a small amount onto the plate. If the juice separates, it still needs to cook.

Makes: 8-10 half-pints (Although, my batch yesterday made 20 jars! Maybe my apple measurements were off when I used grocery store apples.)

While that was cooking, we made a batch of Applesauce - this is the quickest of all three and really the easiest.


In a large dutch oven or soup kettle bring 2 c. apple juice or apple cider to a boil. Peel, core and chop about 8 lbs. of apples (approx. 15 large apples or 25 from the Happy Apple Farm). Place apples in hot juice and let cook until soft, about 40 minutes.

Remove from heat and ladle into food processor or blender in batches processing until smooth.

Process pint jars in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. (Remember to add one minute for each 1,000 feet above sea level.)

Makes: 4-6 pints

After we had the Applesauce in the canner, we started on Apple Pie Filling.

Apple Pie Filling (recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Home Canning Cookbook)

3 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. cornstarch
3 tsp. cinnamon

In a large saucepan, combine the above ingredients. Stir in 8 c. water; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.

Peel, core and slice approximately 8 lbs. apples (it took about 3 1/2 grocery store apples per quart size jar). Pack apples into quart size jars and fill with hot syrup leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Use a knife to distribute syrup. I used about 2 1/2 ladle fulls of syrup in each jar.

Seal jars and process in a water bath canner for 30 minutes.

Makes: 8-9 quarts

When you go to make your pie, prepare desired crust and place in pie plate. Empty one jar apple pie filling into crust and top with crumb topping or additional crust. Bake!

I have one more batch of applesauce to make today, but as I was finishing up last night - one little lady could not keep her hands out of the apple bowl. I finally cut up an entire apple for her which she finished every bite of!

Some of you have requested more ideas on using apples, so here are links to all the apple ideas I've posted! Also, check out the October issue of Country Home for lots of very fun apple ideas and Country Living for these adorable caramel apples!

Apple Crisp in canning jars
Spiced Apple Waffles
Apple Oatmeal Coffee Cake
Apple Chips
Fresh Apple Muffins
Apple Fritters for an Apple-themed Family Night
Apple Cake
Apple Centerpiece
Hot Caramel Apple Cider
Salad with Apples
Bob for Apples
Apple Pie
Apple Dip
Walnut Apple Dessert
Chicken Salad with Apples
Applesauce Pancakes

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mitford Moments

Wow - it's been awhile since we made a visit to Mitford! So, I thought I'd list several things that jumped out at me in this post. I have been so surprised how many of you have written and told me you'd never read the books and have started reading them because of these little snippets! I hope you are enjoying your visits to this charming place!

More ideas of making our lives more Mitford-like include:
* A visit to the library!
* Help those in need. I love the town motto, "Mitford takes care of its own!"
Attend church and get involved.
* Be honest with one another.
* Spend a few quiet moments in a place that makes you thankful for where you live, see the beauty that surrounds you.
* Dream of possibility and change and take a step towards accomplishing it!
* Host a dinner party ~ here was our Mitford inspired dinner!

How do you incorporate any of the above activities into your life? I'd love to hear you ideas!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Read Joy's update here and join in praising God for answered prayer!


Several of you have written and asked where I found the jars were shown in this post.

Basic glass jars with metal lids can be found many stores like Wal-Mart, Target and KMart. Thrift stores are a great place to check as well. The two jars shown were both from Target.

These two were gifts from my Mom from a favorite primitives store in Colorado Springs called The Gatherings. One holds baking cocoa and the other tea bags:

Here is a jar I found yesterday morning at Goodwill for $3! It needed a good scrubbing, but I think it cleaned up nicely:

Another favorite is my cookie jar, which was found on Target clearance:

Decide to keep an eye out for an interesting jar and you will likely come across a good deal. Check the kitchen or organizing aisles in stores or the housewares shelves in thrift stores. I've never found one at a yard sale, but I'm sure they can be found there as well.

Be willing to see the potential in something you like and know you could use. Soap and water are an easy clean and if the lid is in need, you could always give the outside a quick coat of spray paint (I would not paint the inside if you want to use the jar for food). I hope this helps!

Psalm 19

My Bible Study book encouraged us to pray Psalm 19 for whomever God laid on our heart. And, I thought of all of you! So, to everyone who reads this, I'm praying it for you:

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from His pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."

Dear Lord, I pray right now for each one who reads these words. Lord, I pray that just like Your Creation proclaims Your Name and brings You glory that we would do likewise. So that Your Name will be furthered throughout all ends of the earth and to all nations.

Thank You, Lord, that Your law is perfect ~ it will perfectly meet any needs we have today and I pray that it would also revive our souls. Let us trust Your law and allow it to impart wisdom to our feeble minds. We need Your wisdom so much, Lord. Bring joy to our hearts through your Word today and let it bring a radiance to our hearts and light to our eyes that can only come from You! Make us pure through fearing You, Lord. Enable us to treasure Your Word more than gold or riches and to taste the sweetness of it. Thank You that Your Word brings warning and let us heed the warnings we receive from it. Thank You also for the promise of great reward in keeping Your commands.

Lord, we all struggle in knowing areas we need to submit to You for change and correction. Reveal them to us, please. Lord, if there are hidden things we are not aware of that need forgiveness - please do forgive us for these things. Keep us from choosing to sin and that the desire to willfully sin would not rule over us. Make us blameless in Your sight, Lord and protect us from sinning against You.

Lord, may the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, for You are our Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.

Thank You, Lord.

Apple Crisp

Here's the requested recipe for the individual apple crisps I made the other night! Enjoy!

Recipe from: Betty Crocker's New Cookbook

2 medium apples peeled, cored and sliced
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. oats
3 T. butter or margarine
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Spray three jelly jars with cooking spray. Divide sliced apples among jars. Combine brown sugar, flour, oats and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl. Cut in butter. Divide topping between jars - they will be VERY full! Bake on a baking sheet at 350 for about 30 minutes. Contents will settle as it cools. Top with vanilla ice cream if desired!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Please Pray....

...for our sweet friend, Joy ~ you can read more about it here.

Autumn Treat!

Because I was sick all weekend, David took the girls and did some shopping for me. Look at the special surprise he brought me!

Emily was so excited to show me the "punkin" they got for me! I love having a pumpkin on our porch all through the Fall season! And, this is one is so cute!

Here's a little poem I wrote for the First Day of Autumn last year:

Watch as the leaves gently fall down
Red, orange, gold and even brown.
Pumpkins, corn and apples too
A sign that summer now is through.
The colors, the smells, the cooling weather,
A cozy home - there's nothing better!
This is the season for giving thanks
For great bounty, we celebrate.
Cider, soup or a pie in the oven,
This wonderful season, we call Autumn!

Deals of the Week!

Here's what I've found for this week:

Eckerd/Rite Aid:
* Beyond BodiHeat 4pk heat pads: $2.49 - $2.49 rebate = free
* Kotex products 2/$5 sale price: look for packages with a $1.00 coupon off of each one or use mfr. coupons - $1.00 rebate = $1.00 each

* Advil Maximum Strength: $4.00 - $4.00 Extra Bucks Reward = free
* Advil PM: $3.99 sale price - $2.00 instant coupon on box - either $1.00 coupon in Sunday's paper or $2.00 register coupon from a previous CVS visit = free or 0.99
* Adidas Deodorant: $3.29 - $3.00 Extra Bucks - $1.00 mfr. coupon = free and I made 0.71 cents!
* Pepcid Complete: $4.87 - $4.87 Extra Bucks = free
* Zantac 150: $5.49 - $5.49 Extra Bucks = free

* Advil Maximum Strength: $4.00 - $4.00 Register Rewards = free
* Advil PM: $3.00 - $2.00 Register Rewards - $1.00 mfr. coupon from Sunday's paper = free

Side note: This is just my opinion, but enter Walgreens at your own discretion during this Halloween season - I kept hiding Emily's eyes from all the scary and gory creatures including 10-12 foot ones hanging from the ceiling. Yuck!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Family Night: Old Fashioned Picnic

For two months, I've been trying to plan an old-fashioned picnic at a local historic site we love. Something has come up every time to make us change our plans - most often, the weather! This past Friday was no exception and I was determined to go ahead and have our old-fashioned picnic meal whether we went anywhere or not!

I had initially planned to have this as a picnic on our porch, but we've all been sick and it's taking its toll. So, we ate at our table just like every other night, but we were together and that is the point after all!

Our dinner included a free box of frozen fried chicken and these yummy cheese muffins. I'm obviously not a true Southerner because I cannot seem to make a good batch of fried chicken and I have tried. I am willing to just pass that over to someone else and move on to other things!

The cheese muffins were a recipe I found after we went out to dinner with some friends. These were delicious!

For dessert, I wanted to make an apple pie! But, with two adults and two little ladies - honestly we cannot eat a whole pie before it needs to be finished! So, many times I have simply made something else - but it just seemed the perfect dessert, so I started thinking.

I decided to make individual fruit crisps in jelly size canning jars - they turned out great! I made half of an 8x8 pan recipe and it worked out perfect! It was hard to eat out of the jars, so we ended up dumping each serving into a bowl, but it was tasty and just the right amount with no leftovers!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Oops! Not such a great deal!

Ladies - I just returned from Walgreens where I was hoping to pick up my 25 free digital prints. I was informed that the coupon was only good on prints that were submitted in the store - so my on-line order was not good for the 25 free prints. I am so sorry. I sincerely hope that none of the rest of you learned this the same way I did!

Knowing My Neighbors - the Continuing Story

Remember when we talked about the beauty of Mitford and the relationships between neighbors? I did meet my first challenge which was to use all the small breads I already had in the freezer and deliver them. But, I've still had it in my mind that I want to keep at it so I can get around to each house - I'd like to have this completed by next summer if possible.

Anyway, this week - I got busy baking and made small loaves of banana bread and poppy seed bread. I printed out the same note I used last time. I also cut a few flowers (pictured above) to make four more gifts so that I could finish one whole street - this puts me at the half-way point.

So, with thirteen loaves of bread, four cups/cans of flowers and the notes and two darling little helpers - we loaded up the wagon and started out yesterday afternoon.

We managed to finish all the houses on that street! But, can I just share something here? This is HARD! I love the idea of doing this and baking the breads is easy and fun. But, getting out there and going up to people's houses and delivering something just removes the anonymity factor. I am not super outgoing and this is just outside my comfort zone. I feel so intimidated - I guess because I'm afraid of being found out. I guess I feel like a lot of people kind of want to be left alone and I fear meeting someone who might get upset.

I was so glad to see my cozy and peaceful house welcoming me home - I had a splitting headache and tummy ache (nerves) - I was just so glad to be done! I do want to finish and I am glad to be promoting being neighborly - I just didn't realize how out of my comfort zone it would be!

How are the rest of you doing?

Updated: After my first round, I never heard a peep out of anyone. But, this time one neighbor did call and thank me for the bread. She said her girls had already eaten it and loved it! This was a much needed encouragement!


One of my favorite Fall activities is picking and canning apples! Well, we don't live within reasonable driving distance of an orchard - so I picked these out of the bin at the grocery store this week while they were on a good sale! So our fridge is loaded with these beauties!

Next week, my friend and kindred spirit, Susan, will be coming over to can with me! We'll be making Apple Pie Filling, Applesauce and Apple Butter! Yummy! I'm so excited - and of course, I'll be sharing recipes and pictures!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Touches of Fall

Aside from all the Fall recipes I've been trying, it has also been fun to bring out some of my Fall decorations! Here are some I don't think I've shared before:

A wire basket that says, "Happy Harvest" is filled with small pumpkins and an old baking powder can with a flower arrangement in it!

These mason jar lights are on each side. Just fill each jar about half full with unpopped popcorn and place a small glass flower pot and candle in the top! I loved this idea shared last Fall by The Sparrows Nest. These would also make a lovely hostess gift this time of year!

Here's my chalkboard plate bearing the words, "Autumn Blessings" ~ a small pumpkin and darling wooden candy corn (thanks Carrie!) make a great accent!

I love how candles look on windowsills - I just think they sparkle and glow a little more! This is another canning jar idea using the mini pumpkin fillers available at Michael's or Wal-Mart. Again, a glass flowerpot and candle sit nicely in the top. Note: you cannot use a wide mouth jar for this idea!

This is my newest Fall decoration. The banner says, "Be Thankful" ~ I found these tags at a vintage store last weekend and bought the letters I needed to spell these words! I tied the letters to twine with a small pumpkin as the word divider. I've had the wooden pumpkins hanging in the middle for a long time and they are a fun reminder of my favorite craft sale. The corn husks are from an Iowa corn field (thanks Carrie!) and the pilgrims are some my mother-in-law was getting rid of.

My sister gave me this a few years ago and I love it so much I leave it up year-round! This verse is perfect for this time of year ~

"The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of our God stands forever."
Isaiah 40:8
Here are some ideas from last year just in case you're interested:
Fall Wreath
Decorating with corn
Primitive Pumpkin Pillow
Celebrating the First Day of Autumn

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Free Shipping?

I have two free shipping codes for Land's End if anyone is interested, please e-mail me using the link at left.

It's the Little Things

I have been appreciating the little and simple pleasures that surround me! I love trying to make my life more beautiful and enjoyable and these are just a few of the things I have done around the Kitchen:
My nearly-free cereal looks so fun in this cute jar! I also love to put milk in a pitcher!

Dish washing detergent in a fun jar with a stainless scoop!

Add little touches to your menu and shopping list to make this more fun!

A glass refrigerator dish (from Martha Stewart at K-Mart collection) makes a great butter dish. I never liked putting the plastic one on the table and so I just store it in here and feel good putting this on the table with any meal!

Emily's baby cup makes a great perch for a piece of fruit that needs to ripen!

These are truly little things. And, yes, they take a little bit of time. But, I receive so much more back in enjoyment of appreciating them that it is worth it to me! So, now I'd love to hear about some of the little things you do to make life more beautiful and enjoyable around your home!

Spiced Apple Waffles

I found this recipe in a Williams-Sonoma catalog last year and have been waiting for Fall to try it! I will say, while these tasted fabulous, they were very time consuming to make! So, I may make them once in a while, but not on a regular basis - the little ladies LOVED them!

3 eggs, separated
3/4 c. each buttermilk and milk, warmed
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, grated (I used a Gala apple)
1 1/2 c. cake flour (I used all-purpose)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. each baking soda and salt
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. toasted pecans, chopped
Sweetened whipped cream for serving

In a large bowl whisk together egg yolks, buttermilk, milk and butter. Stir in apple. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to yolk mixture and whisk until smooth.

Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Add sugar 1 T. at a time; beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 3 minutes. Fold half of whites into batter and then the remaining whites.

Sprinkle 2 T. pecans onto pre-heated waffle maker (I served mine on the side so Rachel wouldn't choke!) Pour about 2/3 c. batter onto surface. Cook waffles until golden brown, about five minutes. Keep warm in 200 degree oven while cooking the rest of the waffles. Makes eight 6" Belgian waffles.

* Note: these waffles are VERY soft, if you like the old kind of waffles that are a little bit crispy like I do, you will have to toast these after cooking them in the waffle maker.

I served them with Honey Butter (thanks for the recipe, Amy!) and syrup. Though, we needed just the smallest drizzle of syrup with the yummy honey butter!

Speaking of yummy waffles, now I want to try these Pumpkin Waffles that Amy shared with her Honey Butter recipe! I'm really enjoying the Fall recipes!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Another Good Deal

I can't believe I forgot this one! Walgreens has 25 free digital 4x6 prints with a coupon in their ad. You upload your pictures on their website and then present the coupon at checkout!

Maple Oat Scones

This recipe is from the Farm Chicks blog - there is a video link here where you can watch them making these! These were so delicious - I cannot wait to make them again!

1 3/4 c. flour
1 1/2 c. oats
2 tsp. baking powder

Mix together and cut in 10 T. cold butter

Add: 1/3 c. whipping cream
1/4 c. maple syrup (I used homemade)
1 egg
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (I accidentally left these out - too distracted I guess, but they were still delicious!)
* You can add a little bit more liquid if the dough is too dry.

Turn dough out onto a counter or silicone baking mat. (I love these for kneading because they can go right into the dishwasher!) Pat down to 1" thick circle. Cut into eight wedges and place on baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. ** I cut mine out with a maple leaf shaped cookie cutter just to add to the Fall flavor!

1 T. melted butter
2 T. maple syrup
1 T. cream
1 c. powdered sugar
Whisk until smooth and drizzle over scones. I had to add more cream to make this drizzle, it was initially thicker and would have been good to frost the scones.

Deals of the Week

I don't have a photo to go with this week's deals because we spent the entire morning at the park with my friend, Paige, and other friends from church yesterday! It was a LOVELY day, a hint of Fall in the air and just a wonderful day to be outside!

So, we'll do our shopping later in the week. I did stop at Rite Aid on my way to the park to get the light bulbs and they did not carry what was advertised and were not willing to substitute anything else. I hope the rest of you have better success!

* Adidas Deodorant: $3.99 - $3.00 Extra Bucks and $1.00 mfr. coupon = free

Eckerd's/Rite Aid:
* GE 8-pack light bulbs: $4.00 - $3.00 in-ad coupon = $1.00
* Viactiv Vitamins: $5.99 - $2.00 mail-in-rebate and $3.00 mfr. coupon = free
** Note: they mentioned in the ad about the $3.00 mfr. Viactiv coupon, I could not find one in Sunday's paper - but if you got it, this would be a great deal!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Shoebox Swap!

Here is what I sent to my swap partner, Kim!

Martha's Favorite Family Dinners DVD, book of inspirational poetry found at a thrift store, snowflake hole punch - for her snowflake themed wedding reception, jar of Chex Mix (wash out an old mayo jar and glue fabric around it - I added a canning jar lid with fun paper over the lid), Sonic gift card for her limemade, dried lavendar, a CD of songs I find refreshing and some notecards ~ a bride-to-be can never have enough can she?!

Here is what she sent me:

Look how cute everything is wrapped!

Italian sodas; yummy lime treats; darling notecards; key lime cookies; lemonade mix; a super-cute mug (can you see that it is footed and is so feminine!?), some tea goodies including tea and mints, clotted cream and lemon curd, and Nutella and some adorable straws she made with little parasols on them! Ok, but my favorite, favorite, favorite thing of all is a new magazine called Homegrown Hospitality! This magazine is just up my alley with tons of do-it-yourself projects! Thank you, Kim - indeed, I feel refreshed!

Hop on over here and enter your link or view the goodies others sent and received!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Shoebox Swap

All the goodies are coming in, make sure to post your link here on Monday so we can see everyone's boxes! And, be watching for details on our next swap to be announced soon!

Garlic Herb Chicken con Broccoli

This is what I almost always order at the Olive Garden! I've had this recipe printed off for years and finally decided to give it a try! The chicken was not a very close match to the Olive Garden, it was a little dry and for all the seasonings, it was pretty bland. But, the pasta/broccoli and sauce part was DELISH! Next time I will double the sauce as there was no extra in the pan and it definitely needed more. Yummy!

1 lb. chicken breasts with seasonings (1-2 tsp. dried basil, parsley and rosemary; 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes; salt and pepper to taste. Rub into chicken breasts. I also flattened the chicken with a rolling pin before seasoning.)
2 tsp. olive oil
4 oz. dry pasta (I used medium shells as they were the closest thing I could find to the way they serve it at the Olive Garden)
1 c. heavy whipping cream
2 T. butter
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 c. fresh broccoli florets
salt and pepper to taste
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese

Cook chicken in olive oil until done and browned. Set aside.

Cook pasta until "almost" done. Drain.

Stir butter and garlic in saucepan. Cook until garlic caramelizes. Add cream and cornstarch and stir on medium heat until thickened. Add pasta. Stir in chicken and broccoli and simmer until noodles are done.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

Note: I do have the web address where I originally found this recipe, but it is no longer there.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Frugal Subversive Award

Amy, my sweet friend over at Mom Advice, nominated me for this award! And now, I am supposed to pass this on to three bloggers who consistently turn their backs on consumerism to live frugally in a creative and authentic way. Here are my nominees for the award...

1. Meredith is my hero in this area! I'm sure she's been nominated a zillion times already, but I can hardly complete this post without including her. She has mastered the art of making frugality both beautiful and cheerful!

2. Carrie, my sister! She is wonderful at using her resources and being creative about it in the process. When I think of someone who is not into consumerism, I think of her!

3. Mary Ann is another one I think of who uses her gifts to be frugal! She is creative and always seems able to stretch her income farther and farther! Thank you, for your encouragement to try again with CVS - I'm loving all the free goodies! :)


Have you always wondered what to use that old cookie sheet for? I had one that I was ready to get rid of and even had it in my donate box. But, came up with a way to reuse it.

Here is the yucky cookie sheet before it's makeover:

I simply gave it a coat of spray paint and then glued some felt on the back to protect the wall.

I made letters, days of the week, months and weather pictures using the computer and scrapbook paper. Then, I had the individual items laminated. And, using a magnet strip, cut pieces to put on the back of each date. Now, Emily can use this for homeschooling each day as she learns about the month, day, date and weather for that day.

There is already a hole in one end to hang it by - I added a piece of fabric - cute! I really want to hang this on the side of our refrigerator and am on the lookout for a strong magnetic hook.

All the extra pieces are stored in two manila envelopes attached to the inside of the pan so they are hidden when hanging.

Chicken Burritos

My friend, Heather, made this for dinner when I was at her home recently and it was SO good! I've made it once since then and while I did not add enough seasonings, we liked it and agreed I could add more next time!

Note: for leftovers, I made this into quesadillas and it was delicious that way too!

Chicken Burritos
1 1/2-2 pounds chicken tenders (thawed) - I used chicken breasts and just sliced them up into smaller pieces
1 can undrained pinto beans
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
Seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and red pepper

Place all ingredients in the Crock Pot on high for about 3 1/2 hours. Serve with tortillas, cheese, lettuce, sour cream and chips and salsa.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


As we began to think about homeschooling, I knew I wanted a chalkboard to use. I wanted something that looked nice and was useful as well.

So, in my typical project-loving fashion, I decided to make one!

I purchased one piece of 36x48 bead board at Lowe's. The only reason I used bead board is that it was the cheapest - so the bead board side is on the back!

Then I bought two pieces of trim and had them cut - one cut is free when you purchase them.

I painted the large piece of board with black chalkboard paint. Then I used a mitre saw (thank you, Dad for purchasing this for a previous project!) to cut angles on each end of the pieces of trim.

I spray painted the trim with "oregano" colored spray paint. Then, I used nails to attach the trim to the black board from the back side all the way around. I had one corner that did not meet up very well, so that became the perfect spot to hang my enamelware "chalk holder".

I've already enjoyed having this, and know we will use it for many things in the years to come. My chalkboard cost about $3o including a $10 can of chalkboard paint. I found another same-size chalkboard online for $117 (yes, it was magnetic - but still)!

I have found that just dry-erasing this does not work very well. I need to use a slightly damp cloth to erase the chalk.

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

I made these last week for David's birthday since our party was not on his actual day. Recipe is from Real Simple.

1 stick unsalted butter
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or substitute 3/4 c. cocoa, 1/4 c. oil and 1/4 c. sugar)
2 lg. eggs
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. flour
4 lg. peanut butter cups, cut into pieces

Heat oven to 400. Melt butter and chocolate. Stir all ingredients together except peanut butter cups. Fold peanut butter cups in last. Pour into a greased 8x8 pan. Bake about 35 minutes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Farm Chicks & Fun Mail!

Right around Labor Day, I received a surprise! I had an e-mail from Serena and Teri, The Farm Chicks!!! They were writing to inquire about my address as they wanted to send me something in appreciation for the link on my blog and for all of you who have visited through this link. Would you believe that The Homespun Heart was the number three blog for referrals to their website last year?
I have been ridiculously excited about this as I have long-admired these ladies and their fabulous ideas, recipes and shared interests! You may have seen this article in Country Living, March 2007, about the Prairie Party they planned for Teri's daughters and friends. This is loaded with charming ideas and I had torn it out in hopes of having a similar party! You can also find lots more about these ladies on the Country Living website.
This adorable box arrived in the mail on Saturday! And, look at the delicious card that was included!
It is no surprise that this was presented with such charm from start to finish! This is what I found when I opened the box!
Look at this adorable magnetic shopping list to further enhance my pleasurable shopping experiences! And, the cute recipe cards!
I think this was my favorite thing as I have long admired their vintage wallpaper necklaces! There is also a charm with The Farm Chicks and tractor on it!
This is the back of the wallpaper necklace, so great!
All of these goodies are so cute too! A bumper sticker, two tractor stickers and those adorable business cards in the shape of a barn and a tractor!

This was indeed a treat and so exciting! I will continue to share the fun and inspiration of The Farm Chicks and hope you will take a moment to visit their website (make sure to check out Chick Style - it is loaded with ideas!) and blog and find some great ideas and inspiration of your own! And, if all that inspiration just isn't enough - they are working on a book which will be out Spring 2009 - keep watching!