THE Pumpkin Crunch

At this time of year, I love to try out anything pumpkin.  This recipe is one of my all time favorites.  There are a lot of variations on this same theme, but whenever make this I am assured that this is the best pumpkin crunch out there.

GetAttachment[1] (4)Ingredients:

  • 15 oz. can of pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter

DSC_0390To Make:

Mix pumpkin, sugar, eggs, evaporated milk, salt, and cinnamon together.  Pour into a greased 9×13 pan. DSC_0393Sprinkle cake mix over filling and top with pecans.DSC_0394  Drizzle with melted butter. DSC_0396Bake at 350* for 40 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  It’s delicious by itself or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.DSC_0400

 

National “Do Something NICE” Day

Wouldn’t you LOVE to get a nice note in the mail. You know, the mailbox, not your “in-box”.  Keep reading!

October 5th is National “Do Something NICE” DayThis one should be easy.  Take time to be nice just for the sake of being nice. Pay for the latte of person behind you in Starbucks, offer to pick up a few things from the store for your neighbor, take a plant to that friendly teller at the bank, bring in the recycling bins for your husband, you get the idea.

Make a real difference by sending a nice note. Not an e-mail, text message, voicemail, facetime, post, Instagram or other digital gesture.  Get a blank card or choose a witty or sentimental greeting card.  Sit down and write a note to someone.  It can be someone you see every day or someone who touched your life in years past.  In your notes, express your feelings about this special person and tell them what makes him or her so special to you.

This act will change your life and the lives of those around you.  Watch, you’ll see.  Please comment on how this gesture has affected you and those you care about.

Help us generate good in the world one nice move at a time.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:32

Bewitching Cupcakes

This adorable cupcake will make a frightening impression on your guests.  We served them at our Halloween Block Party.

Supplies

  • 1 chocolate cake mix
  • green frosting (you can just used food coloring to dye vanilla frosting)
  • black and white straws (cut into 2″ lengths)
  • black witch shoes (use construction paper to cut shoes shapes)
  • glue

I found the straws on Very Jane.

Make cupcakes as directed on the box and frost with green icing once cooled.

Cut witch feet from black construction paper and glue to straws.  Stick into the cupcakes, feet up.

DING DONG!  The witch is dead!  Happy Halloween!

Delicious “Ghoul”ash for Dinner

This is nothing more than an 8 year old’s play on words for a standard family favorite.  This is actually “Bobby’s Goulash”, as in – Paula Dean’s son Bobby’s goulash.  While recently dining on this dish one night, Emily commented that is was a great dinner for October because perhaps Ghouls eat goulash.  And there you have it – a blog-ortunity!In addition to hotdogs and junk food, this “Ghoulash” was a hit at our Halloween Block Party this year!  Our thanks to Bobby Dean and his fabulous cooking Mama!

Ingredients:

  • 2lbs ground beef
  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 cup water
  • 2 – 14oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 2- 14 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp season salt (the original recipe calls for Paula Dean’s seasoning, but I like this version just as well)
  • 2 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 3 bay leaves

Cook ground beef until brown.  Drain fat and then add onion and garlic.  Cook until onions are tender.  Add all of the remaining ingredients (except macaroni) and simmer covered for 20 minutes.  Stir in macaroni and cover, cooking for another 25 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

This can be kept warm in a slow cooker if serving over a long period of time.

 

Special Plate

It is fun to celebrate not only major accomplishments, but small victories as well.  To do so, I made this plate at a paint-your-own-pottery joint with my sisters and sister-in-law. That alone was a hoot. I’m no artist and painting on pottery was new to me.  I toyed with a variety of phrases and settled with, “You’re A Big Deal Around Here!”Way to go plate 1 Way to go plate 2There are a lot of reasons one might want to whip this out at mealtime to honor a family member.  The kids feel so special even without an unnecessary over-the-top celebration.

Moms need their space.

If only we were this clever and talented, we wouldn’t have to steal this video.  Alas, we hope you enjoy this as much as we did.  Goodness knows if you can’t laugh at motherhood, you would go crazy.Need some spaceIf you aren’t familiar with the song from which this was parodied, check out Meghan Trainor’s song “All About That Bass”.

Ribbon Wreath

This cute fall wreath was a cinch to make and can be adapted for any décor or occasion. Fall Ribbon Wreath done I was lucky enough to hit the bargain bin and score tons of ribbon for $1 or $2 per spool.  I spent $40 total on 2 wreath forms, a premade burlap flower embellishment, and enough ribbon to make at least 2 wreaths.  Wreaths like these are selling on Etsy for upwards of $65 dollars each!Fall Ribbon Wreath supplies

Materials:

  • wire wreath form (mine was 14.5 inches)
  • approximately 26 yards of assorted ribbon (depending on ribbon and wreath width)

To Make:

I cut my assorted ribbon into 12 inch lengths.  I used 76 12-inch strips to cover my wreath.  I simply tied the ribbon around the wreath form, alternating colors, widths, etc.  Fall Ribbon Wreath processI affixed the premade burlap flower and used additional ribbon to hang the wreath.  Fall Ribbon Wreath Close upIt really was that easy!  And it took no more than 1 hour.Fall Ribbon Wreath outside

 

Kids Chapter Book Bookshelf

As mentioned in other posts, we have a TON of books.  They are indeed my kryptonite and they occupy space in every room in our house.  When my cousin was giving away an old DVD stand, I saw chapter book organization in my future.  Chapter Book Shelf 1The shallow shelves designed to hold DVDs in their jackets are PERFECT for the copious amounts of chapter books the kids have.  Chapter Book Shelf 2Chapter Book Shelf 5The shelf’s slim design also fit nicely on our third floor where we have a barrel ceiling and dormers. Chapter Book Shelf 3Chapter Book Shelf 4 While this shelf does not hold all of our chapter books, we are a bit more organized than before.  I Even plopped an old can on one of the shelves so the kids have a variety of bookmarks at their finger tips.Chapter Book Shelf 6

E. Claire Dessert – Yum!

Lovingly named after Mary’s first child, you’ll love this dessert. It couldn’t be easier…or more delicious.  Bringing this will make you the hit of any picnic, but don’t count on there being any left to take home.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg (5.1 oz) vanilla pudding mix
  • 3 cups cold milk
  • 1 tub (8 oz) whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 box graham crackers
  • 1 container chocolate frosting

Mix vanilla pudding mix with 3 cups cold milk and let stand until soft-set.  Fold whipped topping into prepared pudding.  Line a 13×9 pan with graham crackers, breaking if needed to fit pan.

Pour ½ of the pudding mixture onto the graham crackers.  Top with another layer of graham crackers.

Pour remaining pudding mixture onto the graham crackers.  Top with a final layer of graham crackers.

 

 

Remove lid and foil liner from frosting container, and heat for 20-30 seconds in the microwave or until it pours easily.  Pour over final graham cracker layer and spread to the edges of the pan.

Refrigerate until set.  We have enjoyed it the same day we assembled it, but prefer to make it a day ahead.

 

Fill your freezer

With the school year budding and extracurricular activities filling our calendars, this is the time of year that we load up our freezers with ready-to-go main courses.  By prepping meat for dinner and bulking up on breakfast items we can ensure healthy, homemade meals in less time.  P.S. Don’t forget to take it out of the freezer the night before you want to eat it.

Turn dinner into “fast food” by using these tips for the freezer:

  • brown ground beef ahead of time for spaghetti or lasagna
  • brown ground beef and add taco seasoning to make taco night a snap
  • before freezing, toss pork chops in a zip-top bag along with any of a variety of marinades
  • marinate a london broil and wrap it up so that it is full of flavor 
  • put boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a zip-top bag with marinade or barbecue sauce before freezing
  • cut a large boneless pork loin into family-sized portions and freeze individually

Impress your kiddos with a “weekend breakfast” on a school day by using these tips:

  • make waffles in bulk and freeze
  • make pancakes in bulk and freeze
  • make muffins in bulk and freeze
  • make quick breads or coffee cakes in bulk and freeze Some families invest in vacuum-sealing systems for their freezer favorites, but we have not found it to be necessary.  With each of us feeding a family of six, it doesn’t take long to cycle through our prepped items, not giving them a chance to suffer any freezer burn.  We utilize zip-top freezer bags, freezer paper, and aluminum foil.

Here’s to getting organized!

Make your freezer even MORE organized with this idea.