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Showing posts from December, 2011

Erica's Official 2012 Bucket List

A bucket list, you say? You bet! I like life a little better if I have a list of things I would like to do and learn and see. I live pretty much day-to-day so this gives me ideas on what I want to accomplish.

To me, a bucket list is just not a wishlist, but a list of things I want to accomplish that seem a little out of reach at the moment. I need to put in the hard work, have discipline and focus, and a lot of fun trying to accomplish them.

Erica's Official 2012 Bucket List

1. Get my sewing machine fixed
2. Sew something like a skirt for Jordan.
3. Start a quilt
4. Go to Las Vegas. I have always wanted to.
5. Decorate the walls in my room.
6. Start using my fire pit more.
7. Take my kids on more day trips like to the aquarium in Dubuque and the Science Center in Des Moines.
8. Take the girls to the Renaissance Faire in Shakopee.
9. Read the Bible and the Story of God from start to finish.
10. Watch a NASCAR race in person.
11. Concentrate on being happy and grateful.
12. Learn to …

2012 Gardening Goals, Dreams, and Prayers

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I know, I know. Winter is barely here and I am already thinking about my garden. I am not crazy. I just need something to get me through the winter!


Actually my 2012 Gardening Goals have a purpose. I am trying to plan to be more self-sufficient and raise my own food. Therefore, I need goals and I need to have a plan. This is not an easy thing to do. I need to decide what I am trying to accomplish and what I want to store and can. This coming gardening season is going to be concentrated more on root vegetables and easy to can produce. I just don't have the time in the summer to be canning complicated goods although I really want to!

Without further ado, this is my 2012 Gardening Goals:

1. Plant three rows of potatoes this year instead of two rows. Two was not enough. I am not sure three will be either, but I need to expand slowly.

2. Plant 6-8 hills of sweet potatoes. This will be a new crop for us this year.

3. Try growing peas and pole beans along side the barn this year to free …

Are you a goals person?

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Are you a goals person? You know the type. They are able to set short-term and long-term goals. They are able to focus on those goals and actually accomplish them.

I am not this type of person. I never have been. I used to view goals as a way to let myself down because I would be upset if I did not accomplish them. And really, who needs that kind of stress anyway?

Well, I need to become that kind of person. This year, I did discover that to-do lists were actually a good thing. They gave me focus. They helped me remember what I needed to on a daily basis. They helped my memory out in ways that can only be imagined!

I realized that to-do lists are actually just short-term goals and I can accomplish them. If I don't get them done, no biggie. I just add them to tomorrow's list. It is all good.

This has helped my focus out in many ways. To-do lists have convinced me that I can set long-term goals as well as short-term goals. I have the focus and discipline to accomplish this. And m…

Paige's Birthday - With Lasagna and Cake Recipes!

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Today is Paige's Birthday! Yeah! I find it hard to believe that my baby girl is 11 years old! Where did time go?

In the picture, Paige is posing with her early birthday present - a "new" bike! She has really been wanting a new bike that fit her since she had grown too tall for the other bikes. She was ecstatic to get this one!

For her birthday supper, she has chosen lasagna, garlic bread and cake. I am posting the recipes here because these are all simple recipes that make for a delicious birthday supper!

Simply Lasagna

This recipe is so easy! My favorite thing about this recipe is not having to cook the noodles! Woo hoo!!! The recipe is from Kraft Foods. It is a forgiving recipe if you would like to make changes to the ingredients. This recipe will serve 12.

1 lb. ground beef
1 egg, beaten
2.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 container (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 jar (26 oz.) spaghetti sauce
1 c…

Miscellaneous Thoughts #2

So....I am having random thoughts again. Feel free to laugh or shake your head. That is what I do when this happens!

#1  Can the Iowa Caucus be over yet? I know that this is important, but for the life of me I can not get excited over it. That and I find myself leaning towards supporting Newt Gingrich instead of Ron Paul. That alone is disturbing. At least both men are leading fairly positive campaigns so far. But I know in my common sense that Ron Paul is the better candidate so I am sticking with him.
#2  I am becoming immune to Christmas.
#3  For the life of me, I can not get excited about Christmas. The reason for the season? Yes I love that. The madness of the season? No I don't have any love for that.
#4  Some day I will have time to make homemade gifts. Maybe yet this year. I have five days left after all.
#5  December has been busy bordering on madness. I don't see our next year improving from this so I see some changes coming in the new year.
#6  The chore chart for the kids need…

Frozen Blueberry Muffins

These muffins are a family favorite even with my blueberry haters. They are easy to make a batch and great for on-the-go breakfasts. Plus, I love these to use up the blueberries I froze last summer. I love to have these on hand during the holidays too to give as gifts and to have for holidays snacks.

As always, please make your own substitutions to suit you. I use 2 cups whole wheat flour and 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour. I have substituted coconut oil for the butter (I was out!). I have also substituted pure cane sugar for regular sugar.

Frozen Blueberry Muffins

4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups frozen blueberries, unthawed

For topping: 2 Tablespoons sugar
                   1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a mixing bowl cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla; mix well. Stir in…

Peppermint-Mini Marshmallow Bark

Today's holiday recipe is one that we discovered last year and fell in love with. I will not claim it is healthy, but we all know that mint is palate cleanser! (hehehe!) This recipe is from the Food Network and all honors shall go to them!

Peppermint-Mini Marshmallow Bark
1 pound white chocolate 1/2 cup chopped peppermints 1/2 cup mini marshmallows Line a baking sheet with foil, shiny-side up; smooth out the creases. Make sure all your tools are dry. 
Chop the white chocolate into 1/2-inch pieces with a large knife. Place all but 1 cup of the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 30 seconds, then stir with a rubber spatula. Continue microwaving and stirring at 30-second intervals until melted, 3 to 5 minutes total. Immediately add the reserved chopped chocolate to the bowl; stir vigorously until melted and shiny. Don't worry if there are a few small unmelted pieces. 
Pour the white chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet; use the rubber spatula to spread it …

Crispy Covered Marshmellows

This recipe is again from my mom. I am not sure where she got the recipe, but I love these too.

Warning!!! There is nothing healthy or naturally good about this recipe. This is just pure sinful deliciousness!

Crispy Covered Marshmellows

20-24 ounces large puffed marshmellows, frozen on a tray
13 ounce box Rice Crispies

Heat together using a double boiler:
  1 can sweetened condensed milk
  40 caramels
  1 cup butter

When the mixture is heated through and caramels are melted, dip the marshmellows in caramel sauce using a fork. Then roll the marshmellows in the Rice Crispies. Set the covered marshmellows on waxed paper until cool.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Molasses Cookies

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This recipe was passed down from my Great-Grandmother Youde through the generations to me! I am very thankful for the wonderful recipes that get passed down for us to enjoy.


Molasses Cookies

3/4 cup shortening or butter (my preference)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoon molasses

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger

Mix the first five ingredients together by first creaming the butter and sugar together, then adding the egg, salt, and molasses. Mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and ginger in a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.

Roll dough into the size of a walnut, dip in sugar, and place on the ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten the balls on dough with the bottom of a glass. Bake at 350 degrees F for 7-8 minutes. Do not overbake! Let cool for 10 minutes then remove from the pan to a cooling rack.

For a holiday cookies, these can not be beat! I love Molasses Cookies! Soft and chewy, yum!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Pumpkin Cookies

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Over the next week, I want to share some of my favorite Christmas recipes. One of my most favorite holiday cookies is Pumpkin Cookies. These are simple cookies, but really yummy! This recipe came from my mom!

Jordan and my Mom!
Pumpkin Cookies
1/2 cup butter 1 cup sugar 1 cup pumpkin 1 tsp. vanilla 2 cups flour 1 tsp. cinnamon 1 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. baking powder 1/4 tsp. salt
Alternatives: For the gluten-free crowd, I have on good authority that you can substitute the flour with one cup of all-purpose gluten-free flour and one cup of coconut flour.  Instead of just cinnamon, you can substitute with pumpkin pie seasoning. (Delish!)
Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the pumpkin and vanilla to the creamed mixture. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and mix well. 
Drop 1 teaspoon size balls of dough on a preheated cookie heat. Bake for 350 degrees F. for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack or on a brown pap…

Give The Gift of Books This Christmas!

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One of the few Christmas traditions I have set is giving books for Christmas presents to my kids. I love, love, love to read and I wanted to pass that on to my kids. They now love to read also! I usually give them 4-6 books every year and most of the time they have them read by the end of Christmas vacation. I think that is great because that means they were not in front of the screen as much.

Books can be expensive when purchased new! Holy smokes! But I have a few tricks to giving books at Christmas while cutting the cost of the books.

1. Scour your local thrift and consignments shops. Many, many good deals out there on almost brand new books and they cost about a quarter of the original price or less. My kids do not care if the books are brand new - they just want to read the book!

2. Shop Half.com, Ebay, and Amazon for books. I can find books on these sites very cheaply. Again, I do not buy brand new books unless they are for sale for $1.50 or less. I find great deals on books es…