Monday, November 30, 2009

Simple Tip of the Week: Another Way to Enjoy Leftover Pie

No, that isn't ice cream under that slice of pie.

Leftover pie seems to linger in the fridge for a while at our house. I just can't bear to waste such a rare and wonderful treat--soggy crust notwithstanding. So, being a lover of dressed up oatmeal, I once decided to try mixing some remaining portion of pie into my morning oats. The result? It made me consider making pies more often! Furthermore, nutrition experts claim that it is better to eat the bulk of your calories earlier in the day, so I can savor rich, sweet oatmeal with less guilt.

I advise stirring the pie (almost any variety, crust and all) into old-fashioned or steel cut oats, since they have a hearty texture. Try it and I think you'll agree that this combination makes for one delightfully decadent breakfast.

The pie featured in my photos is Almond Pecan Pie, which was almost over-the-top in sweetness on its own, but blended beautifully in my bowl this morning. I added some heavy cream to make it even richer and then plunged in with no regrets.

For more helpful ideas, visit Tuesday's Tip Jar and Kitchen Tip Tuesday.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Menu Plan for the Week of 11/22

Though I'm on a much-needed blogcation this week, I composed this post ahead of time. We're hosting my sister-in-law's family from Chicago for Thanksgiving in a few days, which will bring both joy and hubbub to our little brick abode. Adjustments may come, but we will still benefit from having plans in place that we can tweak at will.

  • Lamb chops, hummus
  • Baked ziti with sausage and zucchini
(We're serving Thanksgiving dinner for 14!)
  • Calzones, minestrone soup

Friday, November 20, 2009

Time for a Blogcation

Unable to find a common thread of thoughts for the week, I am sharing my Friday Five:

1 . The Bittersweet Blessings of Adoption

Many splendid friends have graced my life, several of whom happened to be adopted. I'm so thankful that they were, for they have meant so much to me and the many others who love them dearly. I've also come to know several adoptive families at my church in the last two years. I am delighted that now my children are receiving similar blessings, growing up with friends who came to us through adoption.

What prompted me to remember how grateful I am for those who adopt and were adopted? This touching post, by Steady Mom.

2. Company's Coming

To be hosting my sister in law's family of five for Thanksgiving next week is a happy and daunting prospect. They are coming in from Chicago next week. I am longing to manage my time better so I can have things prepared before their arrival. The first step toward that transformative goal? A better prayer life. "I need Thee every hour..."

3. The Return of Sock Hunting Season

Snow I don't mind, but how I despise hunting for socks! On the bright side, after doing the necessary weeding Rachel proposed, I can chop the strays up and help my oldest daughter make this uber-cool jump rope. I will post the results after we complete it. Meanwhile, I bought 12 new pairs of kids' socks this week. If I can still find 10 out of 12 pairs when we ring in the new year, that will be a triumph to celebrate.

4. Wish List Update

Two of the three wishes I shared last Friday are in the process of being granted. The third, "to arrive early and at peace" is still a struggle. Getting up from my computer, by God's grace, would be a way to progress. It is humbling to fail so repeatedly at doing the simplest of things. Punctual arrivals, well-coiffed hair....everyone else is managing, it seems, but me.

5. The Temptations of the Blogosphere

My, am I ambivalent about blogging lately! It motivates and distracts me. It gives me a mode of accountability and offers an avenue of escape. I need to get away for a time and receive some wisdom and healing from above. So if you don't see very many posts during the remainder of this month, that's the reason. I plan to schedule a few posts ahead of time, and then focus on those tasks and people that should get more of my attention.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Craft of the Week: Ribbon Wrapped Ring Toss Game

One of my holiday aspirations is to make rather than buy some of our gifts. This ring toss game game is something we played at my daughter's birthday party with glow necklaces. By covering the rings with yarn or ribbon, I found that it looks nice enough to be a gift.

My mother taught me the basic chain stitch as a girl, but I haven't picked up a crochet hook since. I decided to try again with my fingers since I don't own a crochet hook. Though younger children may not be able to crochet the yarn, they can probably still help wrap the rings.

To save time, you can also skip the crochet step and wrap the rings with flat ribbon (or yarn) for a swift and simple route to completion. In the game pictured above, two rings were simply wrapped with ribbon yarn, while three were wrapped with the crocheted ribbon yarn.

  • Yarn
[I used a flat novelty ribbon yarn, but regular yarn also works]
  • Plastic containers and lids (approx. 4-inch diameter or larger)
  • Sharp knife
  • Scissors
  • Clear plastic bottle

1. Using a sharp knife to puncture the first slit, cut the top rim off of the containers. Trim and smooth out any rough edges with strong scissors or shears. Cut the center out from the lids and trim to make smooth-edged rings.

2. Optional: Using your fingers or a crochet hook, make a chain stitch until you have a crocheted length of yarn that is 5 times the circumference for each ring. Make sure the ends are knotted so they do not unravel.

3. Wrap the crocheted yarn (or plain yarn or ribbon) around each rim until all of the plastic is covered. Tie ends together and tuck under the wrapped yarn so they are not visible.

Make sure to avoid scraping or snagging the yarn as you pull it around the ring. You might find it helpful to contain the extra yarn in a small sock like this:

4. If you prefer a more durable target for your ring toss game, use a small round water bottle, which you can decorate as shown here.

Otherwise, form a cone (around 4 inches high) by cutting off the conical top portion from an empty plastic bottle. Wrap flat yarn under and over repeatedly until the plastic is covered completely. Tie loose ends and tuck into the open bottom. Tie a short length of yarn very tightly around the bottle's neck to secure the vertically wrapped yarn in place.

Looking for more craft ideas? Head to DIY day and Get Your Craft On for inspiration.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Menu Plan For the Week of 11/15

Greetings, fellow menu planners! Last's weeks Sizzling Shrimp Quesadillas from Steph's Let's Eat Challenge turned out well. You can see my results in last Monday's post. I didn't have any fish sauce then, so the Vietnamese Chicken will carry into this week's plan, as will a few other entrees.

  • Sloppy joes
  • Venison roast
  • Chicken satay, rice

Friday, November 13, 2009


My daily goal for the month of November: to arrive early instead of perpetually late. As soon as I resolve to change, however, reality and ingrained habits strike back. Yes, that was me, combing my daughter's hair with a plastic fork before we rushed her to school yesterday.

"Do you want to be healed?" That's a question Jesus asked in the passage from John 5 that we studied this week at BSF. "Get up," he commanded the lame man. Obedience and faith, not will power, were the keys to transformation. Part of me wants to be changed and freed from my hang ups, and yet another part resists, believing it impossible.

After talking about it for weeks, I think we will actually start our Thanksgiving countdown today when my daughter gets home from school. By simply seeking to obey God's command to give thanks, I am seeking to build habits that continue long after November ends.

Meanwhile, even as we prepare for Thanksgiving, Christmas ideas are being tossed around and considered. I came across some wonderful inspiration here for simple gifts to make. The folder games look like so much fun, we might have to enjoy some before Christmas.

To be ever thankful, to simplify, and to arrive early and at peace. These are my holiday wishes. Now it's time to "get up", obey, and celebrate what He does!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Simple Tip of the Week: Using Kids to Compact Your Leaves

Step 1: Fill a bag.

Step 2: Grab a kid.

Step 3: Enjoy some smiles.

Step 4: Remove kid.

For more fun ideas, hop on over to Works for Me Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Craft of the Week: Cloth Pumpkin Wreath

"Use what you have" is my mantra these days. What I had was a paint-stained shirt, a willow wreath from Christmas last year (part of this slideshow), and lots of little cloth pumpkins. You can see most of my materials here:
I decided to take my project outside since the weather was nice. Unfortunately my toddler was more interested in what I was doing than in playing in the yard, and he wedged the safety pins between the table slats. That was setback number one in what I thought would be a very simple craft.

Nevertheless, I proceeded to extract a strip of cloth from my ruined shirt (which I was glad to make useful once more). I found that I could get one very long strip by leaving both sleeves intact and cutting across the back of the shirt as shown:
Note that the two long sleeves remain connected by a strip of cloth about 6 to 8 inches wide. I also trimmed some of the fullness off of the shoulder area of each sleeve.

The next step: winding the cloth around the wreath. I then secured the ends together with a safety pin in the back. I also recommend glueing the stems inside the pumpkins to keep them from coming apart when attaching them.

To secure the cloth pumpkins, I used a combination of safety pins and thin beading wire, which I poked through the cloth and twisted through the wreath. Rather than wrestling with pumpkins and wire, I recommend using a needle and thread or hot glue to fix them onto the wreath.

This project and hundreds of other creative ideas can be found at Kimba's DIY Day. This post is also linked to Tuesday's Tip Jar.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Let's Eat Challenge: Sizzling Shrimp Quesadillas

This week I had the notion to join the Let's Eat Challenge, Week 2, at Somewhat Simple. Tonight I made the shrimp quesadillas for dinner. I feel triumphant when such a plan can come to fruition. Here are my results:

And here are the modifications I made for my family:

1. I blended lime and lemon juice for the shrimp marinade. Lemon juice was substituted for lime in the salsa and guacamole.
2. I did not use peppers of any kind since my daughters (and husband) do not like spicy food.
3. Accordingly, I substituted paprika for the ground chipotle pepper.
4. No red peppers or cilantro were on hand; instead I used frozen white corn and green onions.
5. I used about half as much cheese as the recipe recommended.
6. Our tortillas were handmade by me. They were worth the extra time and gave fresher taste and texture to the quesadillas.

Partial verdict:
The kids and I liked them very well. My seafood-loving husband will get a quesadilla for lunch tomorrow. We'll see what he thinks. If I were cooking for just myself I'd use some chipotle and serrano peppers or incorporate some tabasco to add more kick. But they were still very tasty made this kid-friendly way.

Linked to the Ultimate Recipe Swap @ Life as Mom and...

lets eat challenge button

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Menu Plan for the Week of 11/9: Challenges and Variety

Baking thrills my soul even more than cooking meals, but we have rules about how and when I can do it because of what the kitchen looks like afterward. Our counter space is limited. Also, I am the dishwasher--and a slow one at that. Since I'm desperate to do some more cookie baking, I am aiming to keep things simple and not let the dishes stack up this week (for a change).

Nevertheless, the variety-lover in me couldn't help but insert the shrimp recipe from Stephanie's Let's Eat Challenge. And then I came across the Vietnamese Chicken recipe, which seems much easier than the chicken pot pie I first plotted. I've never used my slow cooker on back to back days before, so we shall see if I can get my meat and poultry thawed in time to make it happen.
Bon appetit!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ode to Autumn's Maker

When sunlight gilds the autumn leaves,
The glorious hues mine eyes receive,
And in the soul swell songs of praise,

For splendors God alone displays.

-Copyright J. Baurain 2009

Welcome to my week, Company Girls. Though it's been far from perfect inside my home, God has put a song in my heart thanks to the emergence of the sunshine and beautiful weather. What has given you cause for praise this week?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Craft of the Week: Making a Yo-Yo from Bottle Caps

This idea came to me at night, as many of my creative impulses do. So off I went to gather supplies from around the house.

What I Used:

2 buttons
1 green wire twisty tie (from the grocery produce section)
2 small plastic bottle caps
2 medium plastic bottle caps
1 plastic drinking straw
transparent tape
dental floss (new)
metal skewer (or empty hot glue gun)
stove burner or candle for heating


1. [IMPORTANT: This step should be done by an adult, and preferably with gloves, for safety reasons. Care must be taken to avoid getting burned by the hot metal.]
Heat a metal skewer or empty hot glue gun until hot enough to melt plastic. Use the hot pointed end to poke holes through the exact center of each of the 4 plastic lids.

2. Thread the twisty tie (or a chenille stem of the same length) through two of the button eyes. Insert both ends of the wire through the hole of a smaller cap nested inside the larger cap as shown:
3. Wrap several layers of tape around one end of the drinking straw to strengthen it. Then cut the strenghtened section into thin hollow discs, about 2 mm apart. Choose the most evely cut disc and place between the two larger lids, in order to hold them slightly apart and form the center of the yo-yo. The symmetrical order of round components should be: button-small lid-medium lid-straw-medium lid-small lid-button.

4. Thread one end of the twisty wire through the other larger cap and then the smaller cap, follwed by threading it back through two button eyes and then back toward the center of the yo-yo until the button looks like the wire has "sewn" it flat and taut. You should now have an axle. Squeeze the lids toward the center to tighten and unwobble the yo-yo.

5. Tie a knot of floss around the center part of the axle where the straw is. Wind the floss around until you have the desired length of string. Cut the floss and tie a loop on the end that is large enough to slip your finger through so you can begin to play with the yo-yo. Make structual adjustments if necessary.

Note: After making my yo-yo, I searched to see if there were other instructions available that were similar. The only bottle cap yo-yo project I came across was in a paperback craft book, Bottle Cap Activities : Recycled Crafts for All Ages, by Kathy Cisneros. Her book is not available at the local library here; I wonder if anyone has seen this book or yo-yo and could compare my project to hers? Also, please share any feedback or modifications you have for the DIY yo-yo shown here.

For more project ideas, head over to Kimba's DIY Day.