Sunday, December 19, 2010

Homemade Classmate Gifts

In trying to stick to my mostly handmade Christmas (which I’ve failed miserably at thanks to our move), I decided to try to keep gifts simple for Monkey’s classmates.  We’ve had a lot of fun putting them together!


Included in each gift are Snickerdoodles, some homemade Hot Cocoa Mix and some Magic Reindeer Dust.

I bought some cheap red plastic bowls, made tags for the top, we had a glitter party and added some curly ribbon.  Voila!


Monkey doesn’t really want to let them go.  Lucky for her I made sure we made extra of everything. 

Here’s a final look at our Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  We had a lot of fun making ornaments for it. 


I hope everyone is having all ready for Christmas and having a wonderful holiday season!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown

With our upcoming move looming over my head, I decided not to get a Christmas tree this year.  I even went so far as to pack up all of my ornaments and most of our Christmas decorations.  They have all since made their way (along with numerous other loads of boxes) into my parents shed for storage.

Thanksgiving came and went.  The holiday spirit started to nibble it’s way in to my soul.  BAH.  How can I not have  a Christmas tree for my kids?

What did I do?  I went into the woods behind my house (on my land, k?) and dug up a 4 foot Charlie Brown tree.  I didn’t even cut the thing.  I dug it up.


I even had to buy a string of lights because those are all in storage, too.  (I like to buy the strands that are green with white lights but wasn’t paying attention and picked up white.  Oops).

Ok.  We have a tree.  We have lights.  Now what? 

A trip to JoAnn’s was in order.  We found some great papers for a paper chain garland.


The only casualty during the construction of the chain was a slice of my thumb when Little Man tried to help with the paper cutter.  Better mine than his. 

Well, that’s a little better.  I should have bought more paper and made a longer chain.  Oops again.


A trip to Target got us a few $1 ornaments to add.  During the packing of some boxes last night, I found the ornaments we picked up at Santa’s Village this summer.  This week, we’ll have a crafting session to make some salt dough ornaments (especially the hand print ornaments!).

Will it be the prettiest tree we’ve ever had?  Not a chance.  But it will have been decorated 100% with love.

Now what do I do about a topper?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Pie

With Thanksgiving coming this week, I wanted to make a twist on your traditional pumpkin pie for dinner with friends.  I found the recipe here and for once did not tweak:

I started with an unbaked pie shell (yes, it’s premade.  I’m moving and working on cleaning out my pantry/small freezer a little.  Don’t judge.)


I forgot to bring the cheese to room temp and was impatient, hence the clumps.  (My microwave died last week and I’ve nixed another because of the move – yes, we’re in sad shape here lately – so I couldn’t just zap it before mixing.  HA)

The cheese layer is 8 oz of softened cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1 egg mixed together (Combine all but the egg together – then mix in your egg).  Pour into your unbaked pie shell.


Next, mix 1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree (either canned or fresh),  1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ginger and 1/4 tsp nutmeg.  Carefully beat in 2 eggs and 1 cup evaporated milk before pouring over the cheese layer. 


Bake at 350 for 1 hour and cool before enjoying.

I’d love to be able to give you a great picture of a beautiful finished pie or slice of pie.  I really would.  Instead, you’ll have to settle for the leftover pie that was demolished when Little Man discovered it on the kitchen counter.


He thought it was delicious.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Butternut Squash Lasagna

My obsession with finding new squash recipes this fall started with this:


It created a need in me to find all sorts of new and different squash recipes to try. I stumbled upon this recipe originally in Mother Earth News. I tweaked the original.

What you'll need (the original - my changes are bolded below):
1 tbs olive oil
1 (11⁄2- to 2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
Pinch of nutmeg
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute 1 diced shallot and then add cubed squash, toss to coat and season with salt and pepper.


Pour the water into the skillet, cover and simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.


Transfer the squash to a mixing bowl or food processor and mash. Season the squash purée to taste with more salt and pepper.


Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup white wine and 3 1/2 cups of milk. Bring to a low boil over medium- high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Add the nutmeg. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly butter a 13-by-9-by-2- inch glass baking dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Cover the bottom of pan with one layer of lasagna noodles. Spread half of the squash purée over the noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup of sauce over the cheese. Repeat layering once more, finishing with a layer of noodles covered only by white sauce.


Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

My helpers were trying to get into the cheese while waiting for the next step.  They were not impressed when I moved it out of reach after taking this picture.


Remove cover, sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna and continue baking until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving.


Ooey gooey deliciousness.


Ooooohhhh yeaaaah.


So, if you find yourself in the same conundrum I’m in (with lots and lots of squash), I’d suggest giving this a whirl.  I think buttercup could also be substituted for the butternut for just as delicious a meal. 


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cold Weather Goals Update:

You can find my original goals here:

1) Personal

  • I’ve lost 6 pounds and am down to 154.  Awesome.

2) Family


  • We’ve had a few messy crafts.  One in particular involved preserving beautiful fall leaves in melted beeswax.
  • We’ve had some play dates.  We need more.
  • I have 1 handmade Christmas gift left to make and then some baking to do on the last week.

3) Kitchen


  • I’ve tried quite a few new sweets.  One involved oatmeal cookie eyeball cookies for Monkey to take to school for her Halloween party (they were supposed to be peanut butter cookies but peanut products are a no-no to send to school because of allergies).

4) Turning house into home

  • This is all one big SCRATCH off my list.  You may ask why I’m scratching it all at once.  The answer is simple.  We are MOVING.  Officially, as of December 23rd, we will be residents of the St. John Valley again.  We’ll temporarily be living with my folks (a month or 2), so I won’t be turning a house into home until next spring – maybe summer,  depending how quickly we can sell this place. 

How are your lists coming along?

Have a great day!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Leaf Peeping and Apple Dumplings


We’ve finally managed to get rid of the crap/cold/flu/whatever that has been plaguing our house for the past month. 


We decided to take a drive yesterday to do some leaf peeping and bring a picnic lunch for the kids.   In the Bangor area, the leaves aren’t very colorful yet.  However, just an hour north, the leaves are beautiful.

When we got back, I decided I needed to make some apple treats.  I was going to make an apple cream cheese cake, but then saw it needed to sit overnight.  I wanted instant gratification so opted to finally make T those apple dumplings he’s been hankering for.


Old Fashioned Apple Dumplings (recipe from Straight from the Farm)

I started by getting the insides ready.

IMG_4351 4 tbs sugar

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/3 cup Craisens (optional – kept to the side)

4 medium baking apples, cored and peeled ( I had small apples so made 6 total)

Then I prepped the syrup supplies.


1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups water

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Next, I started on the crust dough.


2 cups AP flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2/3 cup chilled butter, cut into cubes

1/2 cup 2% milk

1) Preheat oven to 375.

2) Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Cut in butter until coarse crumbs form.  Pour in milk and stir to form a dough.  Add flour if too sticky.  Do not overwork.  Divide in half.  Roll one half on a lightly floured surface to 1/4” thickness.  Cut into squares.

3) Cut off top and bottom of each apple.  Rinse in cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.

4) Place 1 apple in center of each dough square.  Fill cores with Craisens and sugar mixture. Sprinkle sugar mix on apples.  Wet edges of dough and seal corners at the top of the apple.  Pinch to seal.

5) Place all dumplings in a baking dish, 1” apart.


6) Bring syrup ingredients to a boil, remove from heat and cool slightly.  Pour around dumplings and sprinkle 2 tbs sugar over top  (I used more sugar mixture from the insides on the top of the dough).  Bake for 45 minutes.  If browning too quickly, place foil on top for final 10-15 minutes.

Fresh from the oven:


We enjoyed them for dessert:


I opted for a small scoop of ice cream with more of the syrup drizzled on top:



Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cold Weather Goals - 2010

It's that time of year again. The air is turning crisper (well, not yesterday). The leaves are changing from a beautiful green to a beautiful array of reds, oranges and yellows. The birds are flying south.


I’ve been thinking a lot the past few days of what I’d like to accomplish this winter.  I liked how I had it broken down last year, even if I wasn’t as successful crossing stuff off the list as I would have liked.  It’s a new year, a new list, a new chance for success!

1) Personal

  • Lose weight.  I was at 155 at this time last year.  Thanks to the unusual heat we experienced this summer, I drank far too much beer (I like beer in hot weather!).  I’m at 160 now and “rocking a beer gut.” HA!  My ultimate goal is to get down to 135, which will bring me to a healthy BMI for my height.  Time to try again.
  • Do something for ME.  I spend every minute of my day (and much of the night sometimes) taking care of everyone and everything around me.  Girls night out.  Get a pedicure.  Go to a movie.  Anything.  (Hire a maid did briefly flit through my brain but I could never justify that with myself.)
  • Finish the blog revamp I started last spring.

2) Family

  • Bi-Weekly family outings…  again.  This is easier now that Little Man can participate.  We have actually been doing really well lately, too.  Some weeks we have multiple outings (pumpkin and apple picking all in one weekend) and others we have one great big outing (Common Ground Fair last week!) and others still, we stay home and do nothing (not very often).
  • Weekly craft projects.  I set my mental standards way too high for myself last year.  The projects don’t need to be nearly as “elaborate” as I was attempting last year.  For instance, last week we had a finger painting experience.  Let’s just say I’ll probably be finding finger paints in random places in my kitchen for months.  It was simple.  It was messy.  It was awesome. 
  • Play dates.  I am doing my children a disservice by not being out interacting with other kids their age more often.  Screw the house work.  It can wait.  Get those kids out there! 
  • I’m trying to have a mostly handmade Christmas this year.  I actually have a pretty manageable list.  The gifts feel more heartfelt to me.

3) Kitchen

  • Go through and try to insanely huge stack of recipes that have been pulled for sampling.  The baking stack is out of control.  (This is not going to help with goal #1.  At all.)

4) Turning house into home

  • Our bedroom still has not been finished, though it was on my list last year.  Throw pillows.  Bed skirt.  Accessorize.
  • Little Man's bedroom still has not finished (also on last year’s list!). Paint the bookshelf my dad built.  Make and hang pocket quilt.  Decide on accent color and attach said color to base of curtains I made him.  Continue my search for fabulous old dresser to redo for him.
  • Complete the stairwell (also from last year). T only just put up the drywall late this summer.  Accessorize.  (Monkey and I painted not long after the drywall went up.  It was….  interesting.)
  • Finish my kitchen remodel.  Paint walls.  Add end caps to base cabinets.  Coat rack project.  If I can find a cheap enough option, flooring.
  • Finish my living room remodel.  Lamp shade.  Lamp cabinet/table. More throw pillows.  Rearrange furniture (I’ve only just gotten this into my head in the past few weeks – it will require talking T into as his muscles will be necessary to move the entertainment center).
  • Finish cleaning out the basement.  Namely, get rid of anything we don’t need (like the 13 or so diaper boxes full of kids clothes).
  • If I have time when the rest of this is done, I’d like to paint the hallway. 

I will now print this out so I can literally scratch things off as I finish them. 

Do you have any goals you’d like to share?

Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


We’ve been to pick apples a couple of times now.  Our favorite place to pick is Conant’s Apple Orchard in Etna.  You really can’t go wrong.  The apples are tasty and a really good price.  (We paid $13 for a large paper grocery bag full)

IMG_4225 What happens when Mommy is left in charge of carrying the bag

Of course, we then had to do something with all of these apples!  Of course, we could eat them, but with such a big bag of apples, we were running the risk of losing them to rot.


So I got to work and made some apple sauce. (I don’t know where this recipe came from).

Apple Sauce

1 quart (4 cups) peeled and sliced apples

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp lemon juice

cinnamon (optional)

Cook about 20 minutes.  Mash (I use my immersion blender).

A double batch of this recipe yielded me 1 quart plus 1 snack of apple sauce.  (I took to making 4 batches at once to get more at a time).


Of course, we also made Apple Bread like last year.   T keeps waiting and asking for Apple Dumplings, as well.  (I’ll get to them.  We still have about 1/4 of our bag left).


I also made an apple crisp.   This recipe is from my mom’s old Betty Crocker cookbook.

Apple Crisp

4 cups apples, sliced

2/3-3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup oats

1/3 cups margarine, softened

3/4 tsp cinnamon

Grease 8x8x2 pan (I used a Pampered' Chef stoneware pie plate).  Put apples in.

Mix together rest of ingredients and sprinkle on top.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Our other favorite place for apples is Treworgy Family Orchard in Levant.  Well, they are really our favorite place in general, but they have some really good apples there. 


They also have hay rides on weekends, a corn maze, pick your own pumpkins, a gift shop, a cafe, goats for petting and so much more.   I think T and I love the place just as much as the kids do.


What have you been doing with your apples?  Anything tasty to share?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Trash to Treasure

Do you remember this loot?


I shared with you what I did with the big lamp.  I showed you what I did with the suitcase.  But you haven’t seen my favorite project of all from this haul. 

Monkey claimed the old window frame for herself.  As I was putting it in the trunk, she made sure to tell me it was going in her bedroom.

Here it is, along with the white shutters, hanging in a place of honor, above her bed:


I decided that the grandparents weren’t getting artwork after all because it looked perfect framed here with a few random photos of Monkey and Little Man.  The shutters were an after thought, but once I tested it out, Monkey insisted they go. 

The rustic look goes perfectly with the old barn board curtain “rods” I made for her bedroom last winter.


I’ve taught her well, no?

FYI – Grand total of $7 for the wall art.  I paid $5 for the window and $1 a piece for those fabulous little shutters.

I’ve linked up at get your CRAFT on with Today’s Creative Blog.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Summer Vacation is over

It’s been an interesting summer, to say the least. 

Monkey turned 3 (I ran out of black frosting – and she really was happy…  just very focused on the candles.  ha):


Little Man turned 1:


We spent 3 glorious weeks at camp (not all at once):


Great friends got married at one of the most awesome weddings we have ever been to.

Other great friends had an adorable baby girl.

Monkey started nursery school (and loves it):


And check out the great harvest!


With the good comes the bad.

We came very very close to moving back to the Fort Kent area, but things didn’t fall into place as they needed to.

My grandfather was moved into a nursing home as his Alzheimer’s has progressed. 

Life has mostly been good.  Here we are, nearing another winter.  It’s time to enjoy the wonderful fall weather and prepare for the snow. 

I’ll be back on a regular basis now.

Have a fabulous day!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sew Fun Sunday

My bestest bud is having a baby.  Her baby shower was this past weekend in Fort Kent (hence my travel, once again).

I made her a few things for Sprout.

A sling:


A changing pad:


Burp clothes:


This is a hand me down, but Sprout’s Daddy said to include it with baby shower gifts.  It’s a Daddy sling T wore with Little Man :


And I wonder why I don’t have anything new listed on etsy lately…  I’ve been sewing so many presents in the past few weeks.  (I made a few aprons, pot holders and totes, too – and I forgot to take pictures of all of them before shipping them out). 

Working on any fun projects?  I’m supposed to be making myself a dress for a wedding in August.  Right.  T has suggested I buy myself one because he sees how much time I have to sew for myself.  haha

Up next is a custom order Mommy & Me apron set.  I can’t wait to get started on them!

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