Friday, November 28, 2008

Homemade dark chocolate "mounds" candy

Homemade Mounds Candy

I decided to make these home made mounds today. (link at bottom for recipe if interested)

When I was at the Wilbur Chocolate Factory last week on a homeschool field trip, I got some dark metling chocolate to make these.

It's all about the ingredients. I made a peanut butter pie about 15 years ago, and it has been a family favorite (extended family too) ever since. My sisters, their husbands and my mom always want some, not to mention my hubby and the boys.
One thing I did differently in the recipe was subbed in what I liked....starting with the crust. Don't get me wrong, I like graham crackers, but my family loves it my way...with chocolate chip cookies made into crust. Cook what you like, and use only the ingredients you like!

I made the mounds filling and its in the frige firming up. The filling is good already, so they have to taste good!

A very relaxing Thanksgiving

We stayed home yesterday, alone.

I cooked and we ate, just our family of four. It was our choice to do this, as we were invited by both of our families..but we just wanted to relax and not stress.

It was wonderful. Yes, I missed seeing my family, I talked to them on the phone, but staying in, cooking with no timeline and the lack of stress was perfect. My boys enjoyed the day. After dinner their friend came over to spend the night, and they had ice cream pie.

And we have leftovers.

If my house was big enough, I would have everyone over, but unfortunately, I can't house both of our families. I had my family here one time for a formal turkey dinner and I loved it, but it was crowded!
I also had them here for a very informal Easter, and invited a single friend and her son also and we had a, food, and fun. I learned a lot about my mom from my aunt, I have to get together with her and some wine more often.

My dining room will hopefully be very different next year and we can maybe have at least one of our families over for Thanksgiving and the other for Christmas. It will still be crowded, as we have big families. I also have some friends who are alone and single who I felt bad for not inviting, but this year, I wanted to try something different.

We called my mother and father in law, who eats out and takes the family out for Turkey dinner to stop by for some leftovers, and a plate of food for my mother in laws brother who is we had enough to share with the three of them and still have plenty for us. That way they can have leftovers. I wish I could have done this for everyone, but I have three men in my house (my growing sons and my husband) and always have the boys friends here too to feed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Striving for Simplicity

Living in an early 1800s farmhouse with NO CLOSETS is challenging to say the least. My sister once said to me, "Shannon, you have too much stuff!"….I said to her, okay, go home and take everything that you have in your closets, pretend that you no longer have closets and find a new home for everything…come on, think about this….winter coats, boots, umbrellas, not to mention your vacuum cleaner, mop, mop bucket, should I go on….she hadn’t looked at it that way. What's in your closet or if you are lucky enough, closets?

In a way, she is right, I do have too much stuff. I watch those declutter shows and there are things I have not touched in years, but really, I can't part with everything that fall under their rules. I cant' throw away my pictures and scrapbook materials, just because in the past 6 months I had not had a moment to work on them. Yes, I need to go through things like my Holiday decorations and get rid of the things that I have not put out for 5+ years. And I am striving to get that done.

I did that with my Halloween stuff. I almost feel sad, thinking, these are my children's memories, they loved helping decorate when they were young. I just remind myself, there are better newer things, and its not the end of the world if they don't have that plastic pumpkin happy meal container they loved as a toddler. I need to also get rid of their toys in the attic. I guess because I don't have anything left from my childhood, I feel like I need to hang on to everything.
I have Allen on the bandwagon with me now too. He is on a mission to get that garage cleaned out so that he can set up the pool table and the kids band equipment in there, so they have a place to hang out with their friends, close to home. We have a two car garage that is big enough to house four cars and then some, but never park in there anyway. And when we have parties and it rains (and it ALWAYS does)...we can move the party in there to stay dry!

So we are finally realizing we should let go of things and we can live a happier life. My dining room table has been kept clear for a month used to be the place where we piled the mail, hubby piled his papers, anything we walked in the door with got dumped there. Now that is its clean, I cook more and bake more because it does not drain my energy to look at that clutter pile anymore. We eat at the table now...something we didn't do often before. It was always too much work to clear it anything left on the table is trash, warned everyone. It worked. When dinner is done, it is so easy to sit down to dinner together.

If I am home alone and make something to eat, I sit down at the table alone and enjoy the clutter free room. I am going to keep working and strive to declutter my whole home. My bedroom is going to be a challenge...but it will get there. As long as I can keep the rest of the house clutter free, I can focus on that room.

Living in our small farmhouse is very comforting and warm. I would not trade it for one of those big homes ever. My friend Marlene came over at Halloween for a party and said, Shannon, your home is always warm and welcoming and cozy. It felt really good. (of course, I knew she was coming and that was around the time I finally decluttered that table lol).

That is what I want my house to be remembered by everyone who visits as... warm, cozy and inviting.

If I acquire as much as a stone, it owns me, because then I have to dust it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Recipe storage

I just wanted to share my thoughts on sharing recipes. If you have a private family recipe, and say, you are the only one who has a copy, or your family is scatterbrained, and does not keep good copies of things....and say, God Forbid, you have a house fire or other disaster that you lose everything in your home....that family recipe could be gone forever.
I feel, the more people I share it with, the better. I know, if anything happened, someone else has a copy of that cherished recipe. So what if they are making to too. It's good, right?

Another thing I have been doing is, I made a private Yahoo Group. It's a yahoo group that only I belong to, and I would welcome my family and friends if they wanted to join, but its just a nice place for me to store my recipes. Should there be a natural disaster and all of my friends lose my recipe too lol...hey, it could happen....Its online. I have not added them all yet, but I love it, because my friend will ask for a recipe and I will say, I will email it to you...and I go on my group, in my files there and copy and paste it to them. Should my hard drive go, or anything, the recipes are there.
I have also been doing this with myspace (although I rarely use it anymore) and facebook with my pictures.

It's just a little extra padded protection for the things I love and cherish.
Almost everything else is replacable (material things, of course not my kids or hubby)...

What's for dinner?

What's for dinner?

I love my windows calendar that came on my laptop. I use this as my main calendar now. You can set reminders so that it will pop up and remind you of appts.

I also use it to plan my meals. It's wonderful, because if things change, you drag that days meal to another day. It's just an easy drag to a new day. You can rearrange etc.

So if you are supposed to have meatloaf today and someone invites you out to dinner,you decide you don't want to cook today and order a pizza, or you decide that you are not in the mood for meatloaf, you can drag it to another day and drag what you want to that day. I plan my meals for the week and then I grocery shop by what we want. I ask the boys if there is anything special they want and I add it to the calendar for the week.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Apron Evangelism

I got this from hillbilly housewife...I love it.

Apron Evangelism philosophies on the pleasure & power of aprons

One day not too long ago I was struggling with the boys over some minor details which come up when a lot of people live in a small shack in the woods. Details like the value of picking one's dirty clothes up off of the living room floor when company has been spotted driving up the mountain.

 The boys were unusually stubborn that particular day. Rather than fight with them over their household responsibilities I picked up the dirty clothes myself and crammed them into the washing machine. I ran some soapy water in the sink to get a start on the dishes before the company arrived.

Now usually I am not one to hold a grudge over small disagreements like laundry on the living room floor. This one settled in my brain though, and I felt compelled to mull over it for several days. It was the outright insubordination which offended me the most.

After I figured that out I went in search of solutions.About the same time I was in the process of Spring Cleaning. I was having a great deal of trouble motivating myself to wash the walls in the kitchen and mop the back porch where the cats live (blessedly with a doggie door so they don't need litter boxes).Well, the more I worried about these twin dilemmas the more I felt the need to discuss them with the queen of solutions, my momma Darthulia. As I suspected she had the perfect solution.

Darthulia told me I needed a uniform or costume which would reassure myself and others of my intention and status in the home. She claimed it would remind me of my duties, inspire me to greater levels of cleanliness (which as a hillbilly I sorely need), and reaffirm my authority in the home.Darthulia then went on to describe the homemaker's uniform to me in detail. "Imagine the modern archetype of the housewife." She began. "Think Donna Reed, or Beaver Cleaver's mom. They wore full skirts, and stockings, and heels when they vacuumed. But you knew they were doing housework because they had their aprons on. A string of beads graced the necks of their classic shirtwaist dresses, and a lacy bibbed apron proclaimed their role as matriarch in charge of household management."I only have a fleeting memory of Donna Reed. I sort of wish she came on television regularly so I could take notes but she doesn't in my area so I am stuck looking for other heroines-of-the-home to model myself after.

 Most of what momma said made sense to me though. That very day, I put on a full skirt, stockings, sensibly low high heeled shoes, and a string of pearly white beads. Then I sat down at my sewing machine and ran up a couple of bibbed aprons, decorated with lace and ribbons.I made up the pattern as I went along using a small rectangle for the first bib and a heart shape for the second bib. Then I stitched lace around the edges of the bib and attatched it to a simple tie with a full apron skirt gathered to the waist. I made them short waisted so they would fit my maternal figure a bit better, and voila, I was set.

I put the first apron on, a creamy white or ecru, and looked in the mirror to admire my handiwork. I expected to see myself staring back at me, probably looking a little silly in this frilly piece of confection designed to protect my clothing.Boy howdy, was I in for a surprise.

 In the mirror I saw a vision of the homemaker I have always strived to become staring back at me. Her cheery face glistened in the sunshine. Her hair tied up neatly in bun looked authoritative, and compassionate all at the same time. The apron covered several figure flaws and accentuated the fertile curves of the woman I saw in the mirror. This woman had purpose. She had status. She had clout.

I stood there, contemplating the wonder of the homemaker that shone through my image in the mirror. "This is who I want to be" I told myself. "This is the Keeper of the home, with a capital 'K'. "I wear my aprons every day now. I have made more, in different colors and configurations so as to be pleasing to my senses. I have come to believe they are a like lacy bits of lingerie, only worn on the outside, and a quite a bit more respectable.

When I put on my aprons the children mind me better, wandering visitors immediately know my role as a stay at home mom. Door to door religious missionaries assume I am a virtuous woman and cheerfully move on to the next house. Fred thinks I look cute as a button, and neighbor children hug me more often.I like my aprons. They have changed my life, raising my standards, inspiring me to greater feats of home making skill, and making me more effective as a parent.

Whoever thought that a dollars worth of fabric and lace could effect so many changes on one woman and one family? Since my success with aprons I have become a true believer. I am now called to spread the word among my fellow housewives. Join the crusade by sharing your love of aprons with friends, family and internet buddies around the world. Together we will change the face of the House Wife, the world over.