He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young
. {Isaiah 40:11}

26 September 2012

Homemade Applesauce (Baked)

There are few things like the smell of cinnamon and apples lingering in the kitchen as apples bake in your oven.

This recipe is super simple and the results are worth every bit of effort required.
Try it!
You won't regret it!
I used to cook my apples on the stove top but during my last round of making sauce I continually burned the apples because I lost track of what I was doing. Baking the apples made them come out perfectly soft and evenly baked every time.
You'll Need: 
Apples, of course! My favorite mix is Macoun and Cortland
Cinnamon (optional)
Nutmeg (optional)

What To Do:
Rinse the apples in large tub of water.
I do this with a sink full of cold water and 1/4 c or so of white vinegar and let the apples sit for about 10 minutes, stirring them up occasionally to make sure they've all been in the vinegar. 
Set oven to 350. 
Core the apples.
There's no need to peel because the skins add natural sweetness and a fun pink color.
Peel if you'd like but if you don't need to... why bother? Of course, if you don't have a food mill or would just rather use a blender, food processor, or potato masher to mash the apples, then peeling is a good idea.
Cut apples into slices. I cut each apple into about six pieces. Remember, this is the easy way!
Place onto a baking sheet
If you'd like, line a sheet pan or other baking dish with foil. I opted to but the apples didn't stick at all so it's not really necessary.
If using, prinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. I didn't measure, I just eyeballed but I'd guess I used about 2 tsp of cinnamon per pan and about 1/4-1/2 tsp.
 Bake apples for 30-45 minutes.
I used my Roma Food Mill but a traditional food mill works just as well or, like I said before, a blender, food processor, or a potato masher work just fine. Sweet Hubs likes really chunky sauce so I just put the apples in a bowl and stir them with a spoon to get them how he likes them.
And voila!
(old picture, feel free to ignore the label)
Can this, if you'd like. I prefer to put them in quart size mason jars and freeze them when I have the space.
I have recently found it quite handy to put sauce in 4 oz jelly jars and freeze them for the kids' lunch boxes. When I'm packing their lunches I pop them in and as they thaw they act as an ice pack too!

21 September 2012

Problem(s) Solved!

I know that you're just dying to know what's happening with our yard right now <dripping with sarcasm>...
so I will update you promptly on a fairly dramatic change that took about an hour to accomplish and quickly got "out of hand".
Hubs and I have been bothered for a while by the holly bush that seemed to be closing in on our front door. Little bit little, over the past year, we lost our view of the front yard. 

So we chained it to the truck and promptly did away with the problem...
So we thought.
After staring at what was left for a while we decided that the next shrub over looked a bit sad and decided to be done with it as well.
(I'm sure you see where this is going.)
We sat back and admired the work only to realize we didn't really like the next remaining bushes either...
and... well you get the idea... 
A clean slate. 

Now... what to plant?
Happy Weekend!

18 September 2012

Golden Graham S'mores Squares

I may or may not have made the mistake of going grocery shopping right before lunch the other day.
Keep in mind that I'm in my third trimester and always hungry so this was just a B.A.D. idea.
I bought things that I don't normally buy...
like Golden Grahams, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and mini donuts.
In the interest of full disclosure I bought 4 boxes of Golden Grahams.
So yeah... needless to say that after I ate lunch and my hormone levels began to return to normal I smacked my forehead wondering what I had just done and immediately went to the net to find a way to get rid of these things before Hubs and I ate them all.
Trust me. It would happen. And quickly.

Anyway, here's the goodness that I found and the only thing I wanted to say (other than they're crazy tempting) is that, as a known choco-holic, I'd cut back the chocolate chips to just 1 to 1 1/2 cups.
 Golden Graham S’mores Squares
What You'll Need
1/4 c butter
1 (10.5) oz bag mini marshmallows, plus 2 cups
7 cups Golden Graham cereal
2 milk chocolate chips

What To Do:
Grease 9x9 pan (I used 9x13)
Over low heat, melt butter. Add 10.5 bag of marshmallows (leave the 2 extra cups for later). Stir until melted. Remove from heat and add cereal. Let sit for 2 minutes. Pour in extra 2 cups of marshmallows now and stir in chocolate chips. (They'll get a bit melty at this point so just stir until everything is evenly combined.) Pour into your prepared pan and let cool 15 minutes before cutting into squares.

By the way... this did not stop Hubs and I from eating them all. In fact, we ate more sugar in the end. But as far as snacks go, this was a tasty one and I'll keep it in my back pocket in case I have another weak moment.

17 September 2012

Tag Sale Love!

Tag Sale. Garage Sale. Yard Sale. Rummage Sale. Buying Someone Else's Junk.
Call it what you will.
You can find some great deals if you keep your eyes open, are willing to stop at a place that looks like it only has junk, and take just a minute to actually look at what people are selling.
Today was no excpection.
Every Saturday morning Hubs and I pack up the munchkins and go to our favorite local breakfast place.
On the ten minute drive home we almost always have our eyes peeled for tag sales.
(Well... I do because I love the idea of the unfound treasure and Hubs does because he loves me.)

This weekend the kids and I found a lovely little home who had so much stuff out in the driveway I assumed they were moving. That's usually a great sign. I quickly discovered that this mamma was just dying to get stuff off her hands and, had I pushed her enough, would have likely paid me to take the entire stock off her hands in one fell swoop.THIS, my friends, is the best sign of all. So good, in fact, that I wanted to share my treasure with you as an encouragement to keep your eyes peeled as the fall season comes and tag sales start popping up again.
So let's tally...
Polish pottery (tea pot, pitcher, casserole dish, two bowls, a square serving dish, creamer, and sugar bowl)
Bumbo for Baby J
Tupperware Shape Ball
2 unopened 100 piece Toy Story puzzles
Total Spent: $22.00 (yes, that's twenty-two point zero zero)

And this wasn't our first great find of the year...

2 booster seats for the car (4 year olds and up) for $5 a piece
Original C9 Christmas lights, enough for the entire house
Vintage glass ornaments for the tree
and don't' forget about the thrift store finds when the tag sales are over...
Remember this? 
I also want to throw out that I think tag sales and things like it can be great for kids!
A few times I have given the kids fifty cents or a dollar to get what they'd like. They learn about the value of money and it's their first step into economics.
Plus, sometimes kids get lucky because they're so darn cute. Miss Mak has walked away with a full sized doll stroller and CJ with several puzzles, games, and a Leap Frog Spanish/English matching game.
I also am partial to sales where the parents give their kids a spot of their own to sell their own items of their choosing and let them pick their prices (which are usually more than fair).

"Tag Saling" is something my mom and I used to do together and I am really excited to have my kids doing it along with me!

13 September 2012

Embracing the Chaos

This is our first week of our new school year schedule. I have been laying low so I can focus on figuring out what I'm in for. My conclusion...
I need some serious organizational plans to make this all happen.
I'm talking prep the night ahead...
Make lunches for the whole family in advance...
Pick out clothes for the week...
have the car packed each night.

Oh boy!

Well... in the midst of the crazy I found this and thought that if anyone is in the same boat as me, now's the perfect time for a little reminder...

Have a beautiful day! 

10 September 2012

Chocolate Sheet Cake from The Pioneer Woman

Apparently pregnancy has gotten the best of me and the insane baking and sugar intake has kicked in.
This time around, it's Ree's "Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever." that caught my attention.
It's pretty simple, doesn't take too long to make, and I had everything I needed already which is always a plus in my book.

No reinventing here. I'm just going to send you on over to Ree's page and encourage you to give it a shot.
This bad boy makes a lot and cuts up easily like brownies so it's actually ideal for big groups.
Hope you enjoy! 

04 September 2012

Homemade Nutter Butter Cookies

I made these the other day. You should too. 
Find the recipe at Cookies and Cups and be prepared for tastiness! 
No skimping on sugar here but worth it for a special treat. 
They definitely spread so stick with the 1" ball otherwise you're going to end up with ginormous cookies. (Yes, there are worse things that can happen than huge, yummy cookies.)


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