Thursday, December 26, 2013

For the Love of Food

For 2014 I have decided that I want to begin putting together my own cookbook.

I have a list of tried and true recipes that my family loves that will automatically be going into the book. However, I also have a mountain of cookbooks that I have had very little to do with. And on top of that I was lucky enough to get two more for Christmas from my wonderful hubby.

So with that said I have also decided that at least once a week we are going to try a completely new recipe. If we love it I will automatically add it to the list of cook book recipes. If we just kinda like it I will put it aside to try just one more time. If we still like it alright the second time around then it will go in the book. If we hate it, well, obviously it won't make it in the family cookbook.

The goal with this project is to get everything that we know and love in one centralized location. However, the other thing that I want to do with it is be able to make copies of it for each of the kids. I haven't decided if it will be a graduation gift or a wedding gift or a somewhere in between gift but luckily I have a bit of time to make that decision.

One of the other things that I hope to do is to post the recipes here. That way I will be able to share the things that we love the most with those that we love the most.

I hope to incorporate pictures and step by step instructions to go along with the basic recipe. I love having visual guides to help me along.

So keep an eye out for the first new recipe of the year coming up next week!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Holiday Traditions

My whole life the holidays were always very predictable.

After all, isn't that the point of traditions? Something that is done year after year and as you participate happy memories flood over you of times past....

At least that is what is supposed to happen.

As I was growing up Christmas always went something along the line of this schedule:

~Wake up and open gifts at home.
~Quickly get dressed and drive the 16 or so miles down the mountain to my grandparent house.
~Arrive there in time for breakfast cooked by my grandfather (we called him pa). The menu always the same
      ~Lil' Smoky Sausages
      ~Tea (hot or cold, your choice for breakfast)
~Clean up breakfast (the kids would usually go off to watch tv or hover over the gifts waiting under the tree)
~Open gifts with the rest of the family
~Mom and Ma (my grandmother) to the kitchen to begin the cooking; Pa to check on the progress of the turkey
~Dad (if he wasn't at work) to watch football (or sleep in the recliner while claiming to watch football)
~Pa off to take a nap once the turkey was settled
~Kids to play with (or fight over)new gifts
~Christmas meal usually somewhere between 3-4 in the afternoon.
~Relax (or clean up the kitchen) and enjoy the evening
~Load everything up in the car and drive the 16 or so miles back up the mountain home.
As we got older on occasion the schedule would vary a bit and as we all began to go our separate ways to college and such things would be a bit different here and there. Sometimes there would be more of us around the tables and sometimes there wouldn't be as many but the tradition always seemed to remain the same.
Now that Pa has passed away my mom and dad have taken over much of the cooking but the recipes are all the same. And Ma is still going strong in the kitchen each year as well.
On occasion things would be different for me, like last year, when we went to spend the holiday with Dusty's family. But even though some things were done a bit differently there (like Mexican food for Christmas dinner) we were still surrounded by family. It was still noisy and fun. And most of all it was still a bit chaotic.
This year, however, due to work related scheduling conflicts, we began some of our own traditions. We, Dusty, the kids, and I, began our own fun things to share, right here in Fort Worth.
One thing I have always (and by "always" I mean the last 3.5 years since that's how long I have been a mom) tried to do with the kids is a fun count down to Christmas. The first year Collin was only 6 months old so I just did a simple calendar cross off while counting and talking with him as if he understood me. The second year Collin was 18 months old and I was 4ish months pregnant so we made cookies...lots of cookies. Last year, Collin was 2.5 and RaeLynn was 6 months, and it was also our first year here in Texas. I created an activity advent where we got to do a fun holiday related activity each day. We did everything from making Christmas cookies and writing letters to Santa to making our own Christmas cards and sending them out. This year, thanks to my mom, the kids go to open a new book each day, from December 1st to tonight. The kids loved it!
And one of the best parts of the day was the awesome new menu I got to cook. Thanks to my mom for helping me to come up with the menu and for providing most of the food for our dinner this was our menu:

Apricot Glazed Cornish Hen

Honey Rolls and Garlic Parmesan Potatos

 Apple and Pumpkin Pie
We also had Green Bean Casserole (but I didn't manage to get a picture of that)
Dusty said it was so good he had to struggle to stop eating. I have to admit it was pretty good. The kids weren't as excited but they were more interested in getting back to their toys than they were about eating dinner, or lunch, or breakfast....

We spent much of the day relaxing together as a family and the kids played like crazy with all the toys and wonderful things they received for Christmas. And tonight they are sleeping in freshly made beds on freshly bought sheets and comforters.
While I did miss the craziness that tends to be my family I really enjoyed the quiet day at home. It was nice to not feel like I was being pulled in a million different directions and that we could do things on our own schedule and our own way for the first time. Hopefully, as time goes on we will be able to invite those that we weren't able to be with here one year so they can enjoy this time with us in a new place, but, for now we will just have to wait and see what 2014 has in store for us.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


If any one knows me well they know that the one chore I absolutely detest is laundry. I mean seriously, the washing, the drying (2 times through the dryer in my case), the folding, the hanging, the putting away....all just to do it again tomorrow. I HATE DOING LAUNDRY!

Today has been no exception to that feeling. With the mountain of washed and dried clothes glaring at me from the couch I just keep thinking to myself that I should really just get rid of it all. I mean seriously, the kids and I leave the house maybe twice a week. The rest of the time we are home all day, every day.

So in reality I just need 4-6 outfits per kid tops right? Enough to be able to travel with if we ever get the chance to go out of town.

As for me and Dusty, well the same applies. I need one or two nice outfits to wear for class and seminary wives functions. And something to wear to church. So that means 4-6 pairs of clothes for me would do nicely. Dusty wears the same thing to work 4 days a week so that makes dressing him pretty easy too.  All we need is church clothes, school clothes and the random day off outfit. So again 4-6 pairs of clothing.

I think that is going to be my January goal. DOWN SIZE! On everything. Its time to eliminate the clutter and get back to the basics.

And on another Laundry focused topic I just made my second batch of laundry detergent. The first batch was made back in April. So I managed to get through 8 months of laundry hades with only spending about $20 bucks. I would have to say that's not to shabby. 

Someday, if I ever decided I care enough I will sit down and figure out how much per load that comes to and do a cost comparison between the homemade and the store bought but for now I'm just going to stick with the knowledge that I know I'm saving a TON of money not buying laundry detergent each month.