Our Family's Favorite Holiday Recipes

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Busymomof10 wrote a blog about some of her favorite Christmas time recipes on her blog, Yes They're All Ours and they sounded so yummy that I thought I would post a few of our favorite Holiday Recipes!

Our Favorite Holiday Breakfast:
I make these pancakes at least once a week, but I ALWAYS make them the morning of a holiday because they are so simple! I think they are super yummy, easy to mix up, and work out FABULOUS because they are egg and dairy free! (We have allergies...lol) For Christmas, I added green food coloring and white chocolate chips...

Egg-free pancakes
  • 3 cups all purpose wheat flour
  • 3 tsp pure cane sugar
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cups vanilla soy milk
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 6 tsp butter (I use Smart Balance 50/50 because it doesn't aggravate my sons' dairy allergies!)

1- Mix dry ingredients.
2- Add wet ingredients, minus butter. Let rest while you heat up your griddle.
3- Heat up pan over medium heat. Melt butter.
4- Add butter to batter and stir together.
5- Spray pan with non-stick spray. Ladle 1/2 ladle of batter into pan. Cook until bubbles pop and then flip. Cook on that side until brown.

Serve Hot. Makes +/- 12 pancakes.
I always make extra batches of batter to store in the fridge for next time! If you are planning to eat them in less then a week, just double the recipe and freeze the pancakes. Then you pop them in the microwave for about a minute wrapped in a paper towel, and they come out (almost) as good as fresh!



Our Favorite Holiday Staple:
This next recipe I got a couple years ago off of Martha Stewart's website (I mean, you need some creative, absolutely delish food, who else can you go to? LOL) It's a family favorite, and gets requested from the first of the cool season when fresh cranberries start to show up in the stores! Plus, it takes up absolutely no time at all to prepare, uses mostly ingredients you will have laying around the house, and is an awesome twist on a classic dish (one that you will actually want to eat instead of jellied cranberry sauce!), and is so sweet and juicy even the kids will LOVE it!

Cranberry Sauce with Dried Cherries
  • 3 1/2 cups cranberries (one 12-ounce bag)
  • 3/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • Zest and juice of one orange, about 1/2 cup
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1- Combine cranberries, cherries, shallots, vinegar, orange zest and juice, ginger, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan, and cook over medium heat until cranberries pop.
2-
Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries release their juices, about 15 minutes. If the cranberry sauce becomes too thick, add water until the desired consistency is reached. Transfer to a bowl to cool

I always make mine a couple days ahead of time, and it keeps really well in the fridge for about 3 days. Just make sure that you keep a tight lid on it! This recipe makes about 3 cups, and of course, we always double it to be sure everyone gets some- but it doubles perfectly!


Our Special Occasion Main Course:
The last recipe I am going to share today is a delicacy around here. I only ever make it on super-special occasions because it just takes so much time and energy. But it is, and always will be, TOPS of my meal requests when I cook for people! It is definitely worth cooking, at least once! Again, I always triple this recipe (because I almost never cook it unless I am serving at least 10-12 people, including my family) and it triples just fine!!

Porcupine Sweet and Sour Meatballs
  • 1 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup raw rice
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 20 oz. can pineapple chunks
  • 1 tbsp. corn starch
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

1- Combine ground beef, onion, garlic, rice, egg and salt and pepper in bowl. Shape into medium sized meatballs and place in Dutch oven. Add beef broth and simmer over low heat (do not boil) until done for about 75 minutes, skimming off any fat which rises to the surface while cooking.
2-Drain syrup from the pineapple and set aside. Combine corn starch and brown sugar in a saucepan. Add syrup, vinegar and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cook over medium-low heat until thick and syrupy.
3-Pour sauce over meatballs and carefully stir in the pineapple. Simmer 10 minutes.

.Serve over rice or pasta.


Yummy. Absolutely delish!!

Hope you guys enjoy!!

My Cabinets Are Almost Ready!!

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So, my Christmas present from my Daddy this year is... New Kitchen Cabinets!


My Dad owns Best Built Cabinets, in Columbus, GA (if you need new cabinets, he was voted one of the best cabinet builders in the South two years ago! He makes awesome cabinets!! ...and he travels! *lol- don't you love my shameless plug?!?*) But it works out great for me, because he knows we are re-doing our house and of course, needed new cabinets!

He's been sending me pictures of them as they are working on them and I am so excited!!


This is my nephew, Jeremiah, working on them!



And my brother, Danny cutting out doors! Danny actually works for Dad-lol



My favorite niece, Linda sanding! That's little Christian and my step-mom, Kathy working with her!




My dad, and my nephew, Christian! I don't know how anything gets done without Christian!!



And here's my doors all sealed and stained!



And here's the cabinets!



They should be here Friday morning, which also happens to my wedding anniversary LOL, to put them in! I'm ecstatic!

Scheduling My Large Family!

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I am a scheduling fanatic! I LOVE schedules! Don't believe me? I have an ENTIRE 1 inch notebook full to the brim of schedules for every possible scenario that could happen on a day to day basis. I have cleaning and home maintenance schedules, divided by daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly. I have school schedules and lesson plans in the same notebook that are divided up into daily to-dos, weekly to-dos, and monthly to-dos.

I also have medication schedules, visiting schedules (who I promised to see or who we haven't seen in a while and needs a visit), traveling schedules, holiday schedules (everything from simple BBQ plans for Memorial Day to birthday celebrations to to Christmas gift and decorating ideas for next Christmas!). My control journal includes the animals feeding and vacination schedules, gardening plans, and home improvement projects that need to be finished by the end of next


It's not as complicated as it sounds- I put my control journal together 15 minutes at a time over several months, and maintain it 15 minutes at a time as it's needed (about once a week).

If I took a 6 month vacation next year, providing someone would read my Control Journal, my house would still run smoothly and they wouldn't be able to forget anything!!
year.




OK, I admit I am slightly OCD. But that is not what makes my schedules work so well. That gives me a driving need to make lists and have everything organized, but it also causes me to become overwhelmed and NOT get anything accomplished when everything is not perfect, which ends up being ALWAYS in a house with six little ones and a husband who works at the whims of the weather. My natural inclinations were working against me! I couldn't be perfect!! :(

I used to be beyond frustrated all the time. I would snap at my husband, I would yell at my kids, I wouldn't sleep because I would be up scrubbing the house (or worrying about what needed to be scrubbed) only to collapse and have everything get messy again while I slept. It was an awful way to live.

Then two things happened:
#1- I spent three hours cleaning my daughters bedroom and woke up the next morning to ketchup all over their bedroom.

#2- I found the FlyLady.



The FlyLady is absolutely awesome. She tells you that you don't have to get everything done in one day. One Day? HA! You don't have to get everything finished in one YEAR! She breaks your home down into FlyZones and you work in that one area, as you can, for one week. Then if you're not finished, SO WHAT? You move onto the next zone! The area you were working in is better than it started in, and if you get some free time you can go back to it.

It was her idea for my control journal. You can see what she says here and here about the control journals. Now, I've read many other places where you create a journal or folder to organize your house cleaning, but her's is the first that really allows you to make a space for everything, however inconsequential. The whole idea is to get it out of your head so you can breathe!





I don't schedule our time by the hour, or half hour, etc. I schedule our time by our routines. We all have a routine that we do when we get up in the morning that takes 15-30 minutes everyday for the kids and about 45 minutes for me.
I make it my goal EVERYDAY to be up at least an hour before the rest of my family so that I can get started right and have a chance to get my head on straight before the chaos ensues! I have one, and each of the children have one. I start at my bedroom, and work my way into the rest of the house.

Mine looks like this:
My Bedroom
Get up (Hit the Ground FLYing! -or Finally Loving Yourself)
Make my Bed
Get Dressed to Shoes

Office
Windex Desk and Dust Computer

Check calendar for school and appointments
Check Control Journal for Daily and Weekly To-dos.
Check Email, Facebook, and Blogger (I set my timer for 15 minutes!)

Bathroom
Wash Face and Morning Toiletries
Swish and Swipe (a quick cleaning of the bathroom: swish the toilet and swipe the sink, cabinets, and mirror)

Empty Trash Can

Laundry Area and Hall
Reboot Laundry
Dust tops of washer and dryer
Swiffer Hallway

Kitchen
Coffee and Devotion
Disinfect Counters and Table (
We live in the Boonies, who knows what's been crawling on there all night?!? LOL)
Feed the cats
Start Breakfast

It looks like a LOT of stuff to do when you have just rolled out of bed, doesn't it? It didn't start out nearly that complicated: when I started, my entire morning routine was to make my bed, swish and swipe, and have my coffee and devotion and I would add one thing every few weeks! The rest has just evolved and now I don't even have to think about it: it's become an ingrained routine!!!


We have several routines to get us through the day. One for after breakfast, for schooling, for lunch, for before we go anywhere (even just outside to play), and one for before Daddy gets home. None of them take more than about 15 minutes to get accomplished so we have plenty of time for actual living and the unpredictability that is part of life in a large family.

The other MAIN routine that I have is called by the FLYlady the
Before Bed Routine. It is the absolutely most important routine of my day, because it prepares us to get the next day started calmly. Again, the children all have theirs, which takes about 45 minutes (including a bath) and I have mine, which is a little more involved and takes about 1.5 hours (not including my bath... but I am working through mine as the children do theirs).

My Before Bed Routine is kind of my morning routine in reverse. It starts right after supper and looks like this (My husband gives the children their baths, Bless him!) :


Kitchen
Wash Dishes and Put Away
SHINE MY SINK
Swipe Counters
Take out Trash
Swiffer Floors
Put dish towels in dirty clothes and set out fresh ones.

Living Area
Help
kids pick up toys
Fold afghans
Spray Febreze on furniture and curtains
Swiffer Floors


Laundry and Hallway

Put Laundry to Bed (Fold and Put away last load from the dryer, empty lint trap)

Gather up dirty clothes/put in washer/ measure detergent (so I just have to press a button in the morning!)
Hang up Kids Clothes for tomorrow
Swiffer Floor

Bathroom
Evening toiletries
Put out fresh towels
Check toilet paper and replace if necessary

Office
Clear off desk
Lay Out tomorrow school supplies
Check email, Facebook, and Blogger (another 15 minutes
!)

Bedroom

Lay out tomorrows clothes and shoes
Light a candle or put out fresh Smelly-goods
Read or Watch a Movie with Josh
GO TO BED AT A DECENT HOUR







Obviously, I don't get to do my Before Bed Routine straight through most nights, but I know when I enter a room, what has to be finished before I leave it again! Again, it's all become habit at this point!

It works pretty well for us! I love being able to keep the house cleaned "15 minutes" at a time! I love being able to sleep at night knowing that I already know what I have to get accomplished the next day and knowing that I am already off at a good start, regardless of whether I get woken up at 2 in the morning with a child and his achy ear, or whether my SIL calls at 9 in the morning, 5 minutes from our house. I love being prepared for whoever shows up or whatever life throws at us!



It's great!




Wanna check out more scheduling ideas? I know I love reading them! Go here and add your two cents worth!

Christmas is Over :(

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Christmas is finally over, and it's very strange how quickly life gets back to normal! Holidays never last long enough! I will try to post some pictures when I get them on the computer!

Yesterday, I accompanied Josh's grandfather, who we all just call Pa, to Huntsville, Alabama. We had to leave early but he drove down and, although it was rather quiet (he's completely deaf in his right ear, and for some reason, he says my voice is too low a pitch for him to hear well), I think we both enjoyed ourselves. He bought me breakfast at Cracker Barrel, which is awesome! :)

We went to Huntsville to pick up Granny's Christmas present: a 1998 Red Mustang GT!




Nice car, right? I got to drive it the 200 +/- miles back. It's VERY nice!
(Yes, I told Josh the minute I got home that I want one!!)


After I presented Granny with her awesome Christmas gift, I came home and tore up the boys' room. ... Well, I did!... I took everything out of there, ripped up the floor and Josh laid down new carpet! LOL. We are going over to my mom's this afternoon to get a new bed frame and desk to go in there. Forrest, Gabe, and Elijah (because that's who share that particular room) got a Spider-man bed suit for Christmas and we are trying to get the rest of the room ready for their new bed stuff. It's all been needing to get replaced, but in the day-to-day, it kept getting put off, even though we do have all the replacement materials sitting in my front yard (Grrr).

It won't get painted this week because #1 I haven't bought the paint for it, and #2 They decided a couple of weeks ago that they were going to paint everything in there ORANGE... like the orange in my bathroom. Josh had pulled the paint cans out of the hall closet and left them laying in the hall... so of course, the boys decided to paint their rooms... and their carpet... and their mattress... and themselves! We are going to see how they do with new flooring before we paint the walls, anyway. LOL

My dad, Kathy, Danny (my brother) and his children should be up here next weekend to put in my new cabinets!! My dad owns a cabinet shop down in Columbus, GA and since we are in desperate need of new cabinets, he promised me that he would make me some for Christmas! And, of course, when one of the best cabinet makers in the South offers you new cabinets, you say, "Yes, Sir! Bring 'em up!!" But we are trying to get all this other piddly stuff out of the way before he gets here to install them...

He's bringing the kids a trampoline, for their Christmas present. We were clearing out an area in the back yard to put it up, and make a play area, but I don't think that that is going to work. The flat area we thought we found turned out to be just dead-fall with a couple of seasons worth of leaves and bramble piled up... it's not solid at all! It makes you wonder- what were the people who cleared this land for the house thinking?!?





This picture was taken this past spring... so it's harder to see since NOTHING was cleared then. But if you look on the left side of the picture... looks pretty flat and stable right? It's not! It's not solid at all... I found out the hard way- by walking on it, and almost breaking my ankle falling through it!

So we are going to have to find a place in the front yard to put the trampoline until we can get a couple loads of dirt brought in to level out some of the backyard. :(

I guess that's it for today! I have to get dressed and get the kids out of their pj's for a trip to Nana and Grandpa's!

Peace

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I love Jesus. I may see things from a strange perspective that has been formed over 24 years of a very unusual life, we will see. But there are times when I just want to run to Him, throw my arms around His neck and give Him a big kiss on the cheek. He never dances around a subject, He gets right to the meat of it and tells you what you need to hear... even if you don't want to hear it.

I try to listen, Lord, every chance I get. Please never stop trying to tell me even though I am usually to thick and oblivious to hear.

OK, to the meat of this post. :)

It seems incredible how two weeks can hold such highs and lows of the human mind, two such opposing emotions warring for the right to dominate. Do I rejoice or do I mourn? Am I full of praise or full of sorrow?

I am full of rejoicing!
Two weeks ago today, my niece, Kelley Leigh-Ann, was born after a long tumultuous delivery that eventually resulted in a cesarean section. BJ called me before she got to the hospital and I stayed by her side until she, Daddy, and Baby were resting peacefully and I could barely hold my head up straight. I was so proud of B and so joyful for such a beautiful baby! I spent the night getting to know Kelley's dad in a way I hadn't been able to before, and shared several precious moments with the two of them I will never, ever forget.



I am full of sorrow.
Then last Thursday, Jesus called one of His own home to Him... we were just not willing to share. My dear friend, Jessica, won her fight against PNETs cancer after two long years of battling. She went to her ultimate reward, and left us all here to celebrate her life and mourn ours without her. Jessica's father is the man who joined me and Josh in marriage. Her mother helped me with all the planning (and actually did the majority of it herself!) and Jessica was one of the few of my friends there to celebrate with us. I've known her all my life (at least since my life began) and grew up with her, besides. She was beautiful, inside and out, and I can't imagine how beautiful she is worshiping her Savior at His feet. I will truly miss her.



But where does that leave me? Do I celebrate and rejoice in a precious new life or do I weep and lament in the beginning of another? I don't have the answer.

I did, however, hear a wonderful broadcast on Sunday morning. "Peace," the preacher said, "Peace in yourself and peace with God. Most people will say that they have peace with God and themselves, but whenever great tragedies or great wonders happen, they find themselves torn from the inside and learn that their peace was nothing but a veneer over rotting wood."

It stopped me in my tracks. Peace. The knowledge and understanding that God truly controls everything, a comfort and assurance of our place at His feet. Peace. How wonderful it sounds.

I am trying to hear, Lord. Quiet my mind so I can hear your voice!

I sat down over the past couple days to really try and discover if I possessed peace. Do I know for sure that God is watching me, and caring for me? Am I really able to weather a storm of emotions from some elusive inner wellspring of peace and joy or am I just faking it? How do I know when I am actually peaceful?

Jessica's mom, Sharon, sent me, although she doesn't realize she did, to a website called What About Jesus where I found this in the Daily Devotional section:


Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all, the Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus - Philippians 4:4-7


"In our reading for today, the Apostle Paul actually encourages us not just to rejoice but to rejoice always. Crime in the streets ... rejoice? Young people dying in foreign wars ... rejoice? No job ... rejoice? Yes, what we have in Jesus lifts us above all that. All of these things are problems in this sinful world. Jesus lived and died to take us out of this sinful world to be with him in a perfect world forever. But can we rejoice and find peace while we are still here? Again yes, because “the Lord is near." We don't have to scratch and claw our way through life grabbing things as if this is all there is. Jesus is with us, and through him we are blessed with God’s favor and the joy of life with God now and forever.

We don't have to be anxious about anything, either. We know who is in charge of all things, and he has invited us to present our requests to him. We can take our worries and problems to our God in prayer and leave them with him, knowing that he will always answer according to his great love and his eternal will for us. Then, as Paul explains, "The peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." '


Rejoice Always! Again, Rejoice! Present your cares to Jesus and the peace of God will guard your heart and mind!

I am Listening. I think I really am beginning to understand!

Maybe peace is not something that we have or have not.

Maybe peace is not something we can earn or lose.

Maybe, just maybe, peace is a gift waiting for us to reach out and take it for our own.


Am I brave enough to accept it? Are you? Or do I think I can somehow find peace apart from the Peacemaker?


When I search my mind, heart and soul, I am confident when I say to any who read this, "I have peace in my life. I am peaceful, regardless of the sorrow that pierces my heart. I am peaceful when I am rejoicing and I am peaceful when I am shattered. I feel peace with Jesus, my one true love, my God Most High, my shelter, and Savior. I rest in His glory, and I am peaceful in His arms."

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to rend, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war and a time of peace.

Amen.

I love Pre-school Logic :)

4:55 PM Posted In , Edit This 0 Comments »
"Forrest," my husband asks, " What came first: the chicken or the egg?"

Yes, these types of questions are frequent in my house. Usually these types of questions require an answer before a reward of some type... this time it was a corn-dog. The oh-so-yummy treat that our children get maybe once every two or three months. Sometimes it's an ice cream cone, sometimes its an extra hour before bed, sometimes it's just praise for a well thought out answer.

Age is no guarantee of an easy question, either. Forrest is four, and we expected him to be able to give an answer. We want them to think, to use the knowledge base that they have in new ways to expand their capacity. Once you learn to talk, you can learn to think! You will be asked why and how instead of what and when.

Knowledge is very important and we teach our children facts and figures but our goal is not so much to teach our children what to think as to teach them how to think.

So you see, for these the answer doesn't matter so much as how you arrive at the answer. With these questions we just want them to be able to answer with the knowledge they have and back their answer up

Forrest, eager as he was for his corn-dog, answered right away, "The egg."

"Why do you say that? If the egg came first, where did it come from?"

"Well then, the chicken came first!"

"But how did the chicken get there to lay the egg?"

"It hatched out of an egg!"

"But how did the egg get there, then?"

He was getting the point pretty quickly, and getting rather anxious for his corn-dog, so he sat down on the arm of the couch to think.

Josh went on to Harmony, " OK, Harm, what is 3 times 5?" (It does seem a little unfair she gets an easy one, doesn't it? lol)

"3 times 5 is 15, Daddy."

"How do you know that?" (Maybe it wasn't as easy as she thought!)

She stood staring into the distance for a minute and answered, "I know it because if I count 5 three times, I count to 15. So 3 times 5 is 15 because 5 three times is 15!"

Oh yeah. Corn-dog time!

Josh went back to Forrest. "Son, which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

Forrest scratched his chin for a minute and a light bulb went off in his head.

"Neither! God made ducks to lay eggs first! They are bigger and He had to make sure there was enough room for all of them before he made the chickens!!"

Somehow, while we were holding our stomachs, laughing so hard that tears streamed out of our faces, we handed him his corn-dog.

You have to love pre-school logic :)
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