The Stockings Were Hung...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Did some decorating this weekend... let us know what you think.







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We ate, we ate, we ate...

Friday, November 28, 2008


Oh yeah, and we blew stuff up!
We had the crew out to our house this year for Thanksgiving and had a really nice time with everyone. My sister and her family, my brother and his family, my dad, my sister's in-laws, and, of course, our little family. I dressed the dining tables with stuff from around the house and clippings from the field. It made for a nice fall look that was cheap and easy.

And, yes, there was food galore. You may have seen my previous post about the menu. Well, it grew. We also went up to the garden and picked some greens for a nice salad, and Courtney did a deer roast in the crockpot. We had a lot of food! In fact, I was begging people to take food with them as they left! There were Macy's Day parades, football games, kids learning to feed the "feathered hogs", ...kids running crazy everywhere..., eating, eating, and more eating, and SHOOTING!

Yes, the crew also brought the weaponry. Had there been an attack yesterday, we would have been fully prepared. We have a small shooting range set up off our upper back deck. That's where most of the family could be found yesterday. After thoroughly stuffing themselves, they then went on to try and stuff pumpkins full of lead... pumpkins, crab apples, cans, you name it. There were little shots from .22's and there were loud shouts enough to make you jump inside the house! They all had a good time though. Dad even brought out a new 20-gauge he'd just picked up. And Elijah shot a gun for the first time yesterday! Anna even got in on the action.

It was a really fun day, and I know that we were all thankful to have our time together!

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Handling a Big Family Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving is almost here! I'm going to post my menu for the gathering at our house this year. My family always does it kind of potluck style. We each bring different dishes to the gathering wherever it is. It makes for a lot of variety, and gives everyone a chance to show off some of their "best stuff"!

So, here's the menu this year. I'll include recipes for the items that I'm making.

The only appetizer I've planned is a pumpkin dip served with apples, graham crackers, and ginger snaps for dipping. Recipe to follow.
Turkey - of course! This one's mine, but there's no special "recipe". Just a lot of olive oil rubbing, massaging, and molesting of the bird with a little seasoning sprinkled and rubbed in as well.
Stuffing - I'll be doing an original recipe of mine... to follow.
Sweet Potato - This is a GIANT sweet potato out of our garden this year. Courtney plans on smoking it.
Cranberry sauce - It's sad, but many in my family prefer the jellied canned stuff, so I'll serve it. But I'm also going to make a fresh cranberry sauce as well. Recipe to follow.
Squash au gratin - This one is my sister's. She's using her own garden-grown butternut squash for this dish. I don't have her recipe, but if anyone's interested, I can get it from her.
Mashed Potatoes & gravy - a definite must. Again, my sister will be handling this one. Though I don't have her exact recipe here, I do know that it will involve cream cheese this year. Yum!
"Leslie" Slaw - this is my sister-in-law's staple bring-to-all-the-family-gatherings dish. It's kind of an oriental slaw with crunchy noodles and things in it. I'd post the recipe, but then she'd have to kill me.
Meatballs in sauce - this will come via my sister's in-laws. Carolyn is a big fan of Sam's and often times finds some good deals on pre-made items.
Rolls - Leslie will be handling this as well. Probably going for a simple brown n' serve roll.
Pumpkin Pies - My sister Sherry will handles these as well. These are usually a simple, classic pumpkin pie... the best!
Chocolate Chip Cookies - because they're a staple in the family. Again, my sister will be bringing these.
Berry pies & Ice cream - My sister's in-laws are bringing these.

So, I guess part of my point in all this is to show everyone that hosting Thanksgiving doesn't have to be a big, daunting, scary thing. When families work together and share the load, it can actually be a very enjoyable day with good food, family, and friends!

Now, for the recipes:

Pumpkin Dip
8 oz cream cheese (1 pkg)
1/2 C canned pumpkin
1/2 C brown sugar
2 tsp maple syrup (pancake syrup works)
OR 1/2 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Soften cream cheese to room temp. Mix cream cheese well with canned pumpkin. Add in brown sugar, maple syrup (or powdered sugar), and cinnamon. Mix well and chill.
Serve with apples, graham crackers, or ginger snaps.
*I recommend doubling this for a family gathering.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce (simple!)
4 C fresh cranberries
1 C water
2 C sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Pour water, salt, and cranberries in pan. Bring to boil and cover. Skin on cranberries will begin to burst around 8 - 10 min. Remove from heat and add sugar.
Chill.

Michelle's Stuffing
6 Tb butter
1 C onion
1 C celery
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
12 C bread crumbs or 14 C small chunks
1 1/2 C chicken broth - maybe more if you want to moisten the mix
2 eggs - beaten
2 Tb brown sugar
1/4 C parsley, chopped or dried
optional ingredients:
1 sm can mushrooms
1 C chopped cranberries (for me, this is not optional - it's a must!)
2 C apple, peeled & diced
4 Tb orange juice

Grease 9x13" baking dish, preheat oven to 375F. In large frying pan, saute onion and celery with butter. Remove from heat.
Add poultry seasoning, salt, & pepper to mixture.
In another large bowl, stir together bread crumbs, broth, and eggs. Add frying pan mixture along with the rest of the ingredients (optional items, br. sugar, etc.). Mix thoroughly and dump into baking dish.
Bake covered (can use foil) for 45 min.
Uncover and bake an additional 15 min to lightly brown and crisp.

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Thanksgiving: A Roadbump to Christmas?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving is coming, but I feel bombarded by Christmas everywhere I go? Is there no respect for one of the most selfless holidays of the year? Where did Thanksgiving go? Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE, I LOVE, I LOVE Christmas. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year! But I feel like Thanksgiving and all that it stands for has just become a road bump to the holiday of gifts and sales and merchants' wonderlands.
I guess you could say I'm a purist. I don't decorate for Christmas until AFTER (usually the day after) Thanksgiving.

I'm curious, when do most of you guys choose to begin decorating? Am I just taking this thing too far?

For now, I'll wish you a Happy Thanksgiving... and I'll leave the Merry CHRISTmas for a few more days down the road...

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I'm Hosting Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2008


So, I needed some reminders on the whole baking-a-turkey thing...

Figuring out what size turkey to buy for your gang:
Figure out how many will be dining on your fabulous piece of poultry. Allow 1 lb per person for a regular frozen unstuffed turkey. You could go 1 1/4 lb if you want a good stock of leftovers.

Figuring out how long to turn this bird from arctic to thawed and ready to crisp:
Most frozen turkeys will need 3 to 4 days to thaw in your fridge (in their original wrapper on a tray - to catch any drippings). This would be based on something like an 18 lb turkey... the idea is that it takes around 5 hrs per pound of beautiful bird.
It is not recommended to thaw them at room temperature UNLESS you're doing a quick thaw using a cold water method... this is for all you last minute "Oh my gosh! I forgot to thaw the turkey!" people. This method requires filling your sink with cold water & thawing the still-wrapped turkey 30 minutes for every pound... and changing out the water frequently... like every 30 min or so. If you don't change the water, it will stay too chilled and it'll take longer to thaw.
Here's a chart taken from Global Gourmet for convenience:

Turkey Thawing Time in the Refrigerator (40 degrees F):
Approximately 24 hours per 5 pounds

Whole Turkey WeightThawing Time
8 to 12 lbs1 to 2 days
12 to 16 lbs2 to 3 days
16 to 20 lbs3 to 4 days
20 to 24 lbs4 to 5 days

Turkey Thawing Time in Cold Water:
Approximately 30 minutes per pound.
Change water every 1/2 hour.

Whole Turkey WeightThawing Time
8 to 12 lbs4 to 6 hours
12 to 16 lbs6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 lbs8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 lbs10 to 12 hours

Now that it's thawed, it's time to figure out how to give this bird a suntan - i.e. BAKE THE TURKEY:
For this, I'll just recap and add a link to RecipeTips.com where you'll find a very thorough long-winded version of turkey prep and baking instructions.
1. The bird is thawed. 2. Now give it a good rub-down with some olive oil and some seasoning... whatever you like. 3. Place it in your baking pan breast side up. 4. I like to bake mine covered (cover or foil) first and then uncover the last 30 min to an hour to give it that fantastic shiny golden tan crisp on the skin.
Cooking Times - from RecipeTips.com:

Approximate Roasting Times
(additional roasting times and techniques - cooking bags - on RecipeTips.com)

Whole Turkey Cooked at 325º

Weight
8 to 12 pounds

12 to 14 pounds

14 to 18 pounds18 to 20 pounds20 to 24 pounds24 to 30 pounds
Unstuffed2¾ to 3 hours 3 to 3¾ hours3¾ to 4¼ hours4¼ to 4½ hours4½ to 5 hours5 to 5¼ hours

Stuffed

3 to 3½ hours3½ to 4 hours4 to 4¼ hours4¼ to 4¾ hours4¾ to 5¼ hours5¼ to 6¼ hours

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Another GREEN Moment

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Time for another moment of being green... and it really ain't easy being green - but not always...
Sometimes it's painfully easy to be green AND save some green too!
So, I get my mortgage statement and, again, they've included an insert on being a little greener. And, again, many of the tips are great... like low-flow toilets (if they're the newer nicer versions), aerated shower and sink faucets, and tankless water heaters. Now many of these items have an up front cost but can pan out over time to really save some green... money that is. One fact they threw out there was that toilets eat up 28% of a home's water use. They also talk about the shower head change-out potentially saving a family of four $250 a year. Well, I'm a country girl now, so my water comes from a well, and many of you may be saying the same thing. But this doesn't mean that we shouldn't all at least evaluate our current situations and at least identify if the alternatives might be viable options. I mean, I want my water table to stay in good shape... without it, my well is just a deep hole in the ground!
Another tip I wanted to put here was my latest first-hand experiences in green cleaning. This was a very satisfying experiment! I wanted to see how my alternative cleaning agents would perform compared to the store bought stuff. I tore into cleaning my toilet with just vinegar... worked like a charm. Then I tore into my shower... a little tougher job. The vinegar got sprayed on the walls... it did a decent job. Just spritzing a little bleach took care of the mold and mildew. Now, the hard water spots on the other hand, were a little different... but I found the fix! I sprayed vinegar on the shower door (my big problem area), and then sprinkled baking soda on my scouring sponge... this did it!
And I saved quite a bit in cleaners not to mention the fact that I didn't have to feel bad about the types of cleaners I used or my or my family's exposure to the petroleum-based store-bought products!
It was a good day... one might even say it was a green day, and I ended up with more green in my wallet!

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A 2 year-old's mothering instincts...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Grace loves her baby dolls, her teddy bears, her kitty cats, and her chickens... but this may take all.
Grace loves her pumpkin.
And I don't mean that in an "admiring-the-beauty-of-the-pumpkin" kind of way. She LOVES her pumpkin. She even sings to it... The Barney "I Love You" song. See the video below to fully immerse yourself in the cuteness! HA!!!

video

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Some Catching Up to Do...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I'm a little behind on posting some pictures, so this will be quite a montage.

Fall has arrived in our neck of the woods... finally. It's been a late year around here for the turning of the leaves, but we have some nice color. I really love our place, especially in the fall! So does our dog Zelda. She was kinda funny the way she was almost posing for pictures yesterday... silly dog. But Grace ADORES her. They're like playmates. I mean, out here there isn't much for playgrounds and parks or even neighbor kids. She really pals up with Zelda though.

We had a good Halloween. We decided to drive into Springfield to my Dad's neighborhood and do some trick or treating there. Grace went out with her cousin Elijah (who was a cowboy, of course!). My little chicken went door to door "Treat or treating". She wouldn't say Trick. She'd also let out a "Ba-gawk" every now and then too. That would frequently get her extra candy... like that's what she really needs!

The next day we spent some time at my dad's house doing yard cleanup. Boy was that place a mess! It was nice to get the patio cleaned up and livable again though. Courtney spent quite a bit of time wacking down tree limbs & trying to figure out how to stuff them into our little trailer so that we could haul them away.

And then, there's always the Jeep pictures. Of course, I had to take one of the boy with his Jeep. It happens every fall. It's the fall Jeep portrait session. So, then the kids piled in an old (and I mean OLD) little powered Jeep at Dad's. Of course, they needed their Jeep portrait too!

I guess I'll end this post with some more fall pictures from around our little place out here.
Did I mention that I LOVE fall???


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Vote, Vote, Vote!

Monday, November 3, 2008

I will be soooo glad to get the last of the campaign calls tonight. Yes, it's finally almost over.
But it's not over yet.
You must, must, must GO VOTE TOMORROW!
If you're still up in the air or feeling a bit uninformed, go to vote-mo.org (for all you Missourians).
It will prompt you for your address and then return you a "ballot" with active links you can hit on the different candidates and issues to get additional information.
Print it out, fill it out, and take it with you! It will make your voting experience that much easier!!

So, go vote. Of course, I'm going to tell you to vote for McCain & Palin.
Oh, and if you planned on voting for Obama, I should probably tell you that you need to go to the polls on Wed. (he he he!)

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  • Get Wisdom! - Ruth Younts
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  • The Pursuit of Holiness - Jerry Bridges
  • Primal - Mark Batterson
  • Hipster Christianity - Brett McCracken
  • Gospel Powered Parenting - William P. Farley
  • Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow - RC Sproul
  • When People are Big and God is Small - Edward T. Welch
  • Chosen by God - RC Sproul
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Reading it Now!

  • The New Read-Aloud Handbook - Trelease
  • Honey for a Child's Heart - Gladys Hunt
  • Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Bringing up Boys - Dr James Dobson

Past Reads

  • The Three R's - Ruth Beechick
  • Mary Pride's Complete Guide to Homeschooling
  • What is a Healthy Church? - Mark Dever
  • What is a Healthy Church Member? - Thabiti M. Anyabwile
  • Feminine Appeal - Carolyn Mahaney
  • Shepherding a Child's Heart - Ted Tripp
  • Crazy Love - Francis Chan
  • When Life is Hard - James MacDonald
  • Food and Love - Dr. Gary Smalley
  • For Women Only - Shaunti Feldhahn
  • For Men Only - Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn
  • The Gospel for Real Life - Jerry Bridges
  • Living the Cross Centered Life - CJ Mahaney
  • Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge
  • Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul - John Eldredge
  • Dare to Discipline - Dr. James Dobson
  • The No-Cry Sleep Solution - Elizabeth Pantley
  • Parenting is Not for Cowards by Dr. James Dobson
  • The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
  • The Strong Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson

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