Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Am Thankful For....

There are simply too many things that I am thankful for to list them all. Anyone reading this would be reading until next November. So, to save you time, I will only list a few....

I am thankful for my heath. So many that are close to me are struggling with health challenges. Every single one of them is an inspiration to me. When I start to gripe about things, I simple remember the battle that many of them are facing so bravely, and I realize that what I'm complaining about isn't that big of a deal.

I am thankful that I have a roof over my head. In today's world, for what ever reason...people are wondering if they will have a home to live in. Some of them don't. I have been blessed in that my home is not in any danger. And even if it was, I have been even more blessed to have a family that would provide us a roof in a heartbeat!

I am thankful for my family. I have been blessed with three beautiful daughters that are all amazing people. They have tender but brave hearts, and are always willing to serve others. I am so proud of all three of them. I have an awesome husband who loves me - sometimes thats not always easy!

There are so many more things, but today I'll reflect on theses three.

As your Thanksgiving week progresses, I challenge you to think of three things each day that you are thankful for. Take a moment to share them with someone, e-mail, send a note, or leave a comment.

Happy Thanksgiving!
AZ Mom of Many Hats

Friday, November 21, 2008

Easy Unstuffed Cornbread Stuffing

When I was first married, I wanted to impress my husband with my talent in the kitchen. On our first Thanksgiving as a married couple, I decided to go all out with the Turkey, sweet potatoes, vegetable casserole - the works!

There was only one problem. I was a not a "stuffing" fan. But I knew that stuffing was one of my husband's favorite parts of the meal. I needed to come up with something easy that the both of us could enjoy not only with our Thanksgiving meal, but also with the requisite Thanksgiving left overs. It need to look good, taste good and fit well with our meal.

Then inspiration hit...and Easy Unstuffed Cornbread Stuffing was born.

The combination of ingredients was a little different than my husband was used to. But, being the good husband that he is, he tried it. He liked it! It has been a staple at our Thanksgiving dinners ever since.

You can make Easy Unstuffed Cornbread Stuffing to by using the ingredients and directions below. Enjoy!

Easy Unstuffed Cornbread Stuffing
Ingredients:
1 12 oz. box or bag of stuffing croutons
1 box store-bought cornbread mix prepared according to directions
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white zinfindel or white wine
2 cups chicken stock (fresh or from the can)
1/2 cup melted butter
salt and pepper to taste
Serves 12-14

Directions:

The night before the dish is to be served, prepare the cornbread according to the directions on the box. Leave the prepared recipe on the counter uncovered until you are ready to use it the next day.

The day the dish is to be served, crumble the cornbread mix into a large bowl. Add the stuffing croutons to the crumbled cornbread and set aside. Melt 1/2 cup of butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Once melted, add the onions, garlic and celery to the pan and cook while stirring until the onions are translucent. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Once the mixture has cooled some (not too hot to handle), pour it over the cornbread and croutons. Mix the ingredients until well combined. Pour the 2 cups of chicken stock and the 1/2 white zinfindel/wine over the mixture and stir until evenly moist. Add salt and pepper to your preferred taste.

Pour the entire contents into a large aluminum or glass baking dish and cover the top. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove the cover and continue to bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the top of the stuffing is toasty. Serve directly from the baking dish or transfer to a serving dish, garnishing the finished recipe with parsley.

This is an easy Thanksgiving recipe to make. As you get more comfortable making it, you can add variations, such as cranberries or sausage to the recipe. Enjoy!

Paper, Paper, and More Paper.

It seems like I have an unending supply of Holiday gift wrapping.

Each year I pick up a few more rolls at the after Christmas 90% off sales. They seem to multiply in my closets. The red wrap that you see in this picture.......circa 2002.

But, that's OK.

It is that time of year that I pull out all of the "gifty" things I also purchased at the last year's 90% off sales - that have also been sitting in my closets and multiplying - and begin wrapping.

I get an early start because I tend to wrap everything. Although there is a gift bag in this picture, I use very few of those. I like to wrap each gift because I love the element of surprise in unwrapping a gift. Seeing the anticipation on the receiver's face is in itself, a gift to me.

So, I may drive myself crazy with all of the holiday paper, but I know that my payoff will be in the joy I get from giving.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

'Tis the Season.....


'Tis the season, and I'm not feeling all that jolly yet.

The gift requests are starting to roll in at faster pace each week as the kids peruse the weekend paper ads. Retailers are pulling every trick in the book to get me into their stores to spend my money. Strip malls have had their "Holiday" decor up since November 1st. My local radio station has been playing Christmas music 24/7 for two weeks already.

It's all coming too soon this year. It's not even Thanksgiving and the Christmas holiday stress has already begun.

What happened to the days of anticipation of the day after Turkey Day? I used to wait for that day each year, looking forward to the opening of the Season. It was so much simpler, so much less stressful, so much more relaxed.

So today, in the 87 degree heat of the desert southwest, I say. Bah-humbug!

But, give me a week or two and I'll be declaring that it's the most wonderful time of the year.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fashionable Stamped T-shirt Comments

I hope you enjoyed this Crafty-Cam. Please leave my any comments you have about this project ideas.

Don't forget to check Crafty-Cam often for new project ideas!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Yummy Yummy Pumpkin Pie...

Have you ever made a pumpkin pie out of fresh pumpkin?

The first year that my husband and I were married, I decided to try and use my Halloween pumpkins for pumpkin pie. We were on a very tight budget and I though that by using the pumpkins I had already purchased, we could save a few dollars. So my experimentation with fresh pumpkin pie began.

Getting the pies just right was a process. After several years of trying, I finally succeeded at making a decent pumpkin pie from fresh pumpkin.

I learned that the main secret to a successful fresh pumpkin pie was the actual pumpkin. The large "carving" pumpkins that my kids loved to buy didn't make the best pies. The flesh in the inside was very fibrous and didn't breakdown smoothly when it was cooked. So I moved on to different varieties.

Over the years, I have found that the best pumpkins to use are the smaller "sugar" pumpkins and pie pumpkins that are sold in the produce section. They are great because they can still be carved if you so choose, or they can just sit whole as a fall decoration until you are ready to cook them.

The best way to cook them that I have found has been to simply cut them in half and scoop out the "guts" and seeds. Roast or bake them in the oven at 350 degrees until they are fully soft -generally about 2 hours for a small 3 lb. pumpkin. Once they are cooked, simply scoop the pumpkin meat out of the shell, and your fresh pumpkin is ready to be put in a pie! A pumpkin that size yields approximately 3 c. of pumpkin. If you have more, don't worry, pumpkin freezes very well and can be used later for another pie.

Below is my recipe for my fresh pumpkin pie. I admit...the pie crust is store bought, but hey, I have my limitations. I know my limitation is that I fail miserably at making a good pie crust. I leave that up to the professionals. But, if you use this recipe, you can brag to all of your friends and relatives that you made your pumpkin pie from "real' pumpkins.

Enjoy!

Fresh Pumpkin Pie

3 c. fresh pumpkin
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. evaporated milk
3 eggs
1/2 dark brown sugar
2 T. pumpkin pie spice
1/8 t. salt
2 9inch frozen pie shells (you can make the crust if you feel ambitious)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the pumpkin, condensed milk and evaporated milk in a bow. Mix on medium speed until it is well incorporated. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing after each until well blended. Add the dark brown sugar, the pumpkin pie spice and salt. Mix again until the filling is creamy.

Pour the filling into two 9 inch pie crusts to 1/8 of an inch of the top. Bake for 1 hour or until the filling is firm when the pie is moved.

Let cool, and serve with whipped cream. Yummy!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pre-mature Decoration

I admit it....I caved under the pressure. I could hold out no longer. So...with great sorrow, I confess that I did the unthinkable.

But, it my own defense, it wasn't my fault. The influence was too strong and I could not resist. The constant barrage of the music....the endless visual cues.....the sheer madness of frenzied consumers....

I crumbled. I stumbled. I fell under the spell of it's pressuring call. I am the latest victim of pre-mature decoration.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tastey Turkey Cookies Comments

Let me know what you think about the Tasty Turkey Cookies featured on Crafty-Cam!

Cooler Weather Crafting...

I woke up this morning and the weather was downright chilly for us Southwesterners. The thermometer in my car said it was 50 degrees. I know that for some that is toasty, but when you have been acclimated to 110 degrees for the last 5 months, 50 degrees is cold!

Anyhow, this cooler weather has put me in the mood to really start my holiday crafting. I've been thinking about my past projects and how I can incorporate those into "homemade" gifts this year. I have already shared a couple with you on Crafty Cam. But I am full of ideas.

With the economy as it is, we will all be looking to save a buck this season. Be looking for simple and inexpensive crafting ideas on Crafty-Cam!

-Coming up on Crafty Cam is "Tasty Turkey Cookies"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Autumn is Upon Us!






It's here! It's finally here!

Our desert southwest weather has finally cooled down to a bearable 74 degrees during the day and in the 50's at night. I love it!

To celebrate, I'm pulling out my holiday decorations...not the tree yet, but some of the pretty holiday foliage that will take me from now through the winter holidays. I am incorporating my left-over autumn array of squash - especially the green and white ones and creating a festive, but not necessarily Christmas feel in my home.

I am pulling out the scented candles in the various spice "flavors". Lighting them creates not only a beautiful glow but an beautiful aroma in the house. It really gets me into the holiday spirit!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Crafty Cam Comments

Hello everyone...please leave a comment and let me know how you like the new Crafty Cam features and the video tutorial on the Faux Quilted Pumpkin and the Fall Gourds. Thanks!!!!

Sugar Crash!

Why, oh why do I do it! I know I'll feel terrible the next morning - regret, guilt, churning stomach churning.....

In general, I am a very healthy eater. I stay away from the fast food, the fried food, the junk food and the soda. I eat lots of fruit, vegis, lean meats, whole grains - all the stuff that is good for you.

But, the one time of year that I chow down on the candy is Halloween. Something about that bowl of candy that the kids have brought home calls me, taunts me, seduces me to partake of it's sweet sugary goodness.

I really overdid it this year....How about you? Are you suffering from a sugar crash?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Morning After

With Halloween falling on a Friday night, our neighborhood seemed to be rich with block parties. Lots of food, lots of candy, and late night fun left us all a little tired and cranky. Add the candy that the kiddos brought home from trick-or-treating, the requisite 10% candy "tax" owed to the King and Queen of the house, and of course the "candy check" - Snickers always seem a little suspicious - and we all felt a little rotten.

Maybe we didn't look exactly like this when we got up this morning; I think we were a little greener. Maybe cutting the candy "tax" next year will help. Well, only if the kiddos are in the right tax bracket - Note to self......GET SMALLER CANDY SACKS!