Thursday, February 27, 2014

Simple St. Patrick's Day Decorations

I love St. Patrick's Day, but I don't ever feel like spending more that a few bucks on decorations. Here are a few things I did in my house to make it a wee bit festive....

I grabbed some pillows I already had, and put the"lucky" colors together...

I put some extra RIBBON SHAMROCKS in a basket on an old green Shakespeare book...

Then set it on my TABLE...
(One thing I LOVE about my mismatched chairs, is that I can put any color of decor with it.)

I bought this sparkly shamrock wire at the dollar store, cut it in half, then put it around some candles.  A cake stand or plate holder works great to display anything...

These "LUCKY" blocks that I bought for $6 at Tai Pan make a statement that I like by my family pictures :).

I love this Shamrock for the door (which I bought at Tai Pan for $7)...

Someone else likes it too...

I spent about $13 on St. Patrick's Day decorations, and feel some luck of the Irish hopefully coming our way!

Best of luck to you!
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Refrigerator Bran Muffins (yummy, quick & healthy)

Yes, another breakfast solution here. I absolutely love this one! Why?

Just like the Oatmeal Pancake Mix, I make it once and it lasts forever (okay, maybe a month, but sometimes that feels like forever :).

It's totally healthy... talking whole wheat and wheat bran here! Plus, they are delicious and kid friendly... promise!

Literally, one batch of this mix stays in a big airtight container in the fridge. On the mornings you feel like fresh muffins, just pop these babies in muffin tins and stick them in the oven. Within minutes, a filling, healthy, and yummy, warm breakfast is ready.

4 cups Wheat Bran Flakes (found with the cereal)
2 cups bran buds or 'All Bran' (also found with cereal usually)
2 cups boiling water
1 quart buttermilk (4 cups)
1/ 2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup applesauce (no sugar added)
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups whole wheat flour
4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

In a large bowl (with a tight fitting lid), add the bran flakes and bran buds. Pour boiling water over bran and mix well. Stir every few minutes while mixture is coming to room temperature. Mixture will become thick and sticky.

After mixture cools, add buttermilk, melted butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well.
Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.

If the batter is covered well, it can be kept refrigerated for one month.

To bake muffins:
preheat oven to 375
Line or grease muffin tins

Fill muffins 3/4 full. Bake regular sized muffins 14-16 minutes. Small muffins 10 minutes, and tiny muffins 7-8 minutes. Or until toothpick comes out clean, or with a few crumbs.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe


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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Unanswered Prayers

Our family has been learning a lot about prayers lately. We have memorized a scripture in the King James Bible James Chapter 1 verse 5:

Our family has had many discussions about Heavenly Father answering us in his own time or his own way.  Sometimes that is one of the hardest things to understand.  I really liked this quote by Russell M. Nelson an Apostle for  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

So at a moment of discouragement and feeling like my prayers were not be answered my girls reaffirmed to me that sometimes we won't understand "unanswered" prayers until further down the road and like Garth Brooks sings...

Keep Prayin'
Jan Pin It

Monday, February 24, 2014

Oatmeal Pancake Mix... Quick and Scrumptious Breakfast for Busy Mornings

I've talked about how much my kids hate cold cereal. However, they ADORE pancakes. The problem is, I HATE starting the morning with a sink full of dishes which always seemed to happen when I made pancakes!! Therefore, I made them ONLY on Saturday nights (the day we have breakfast for dinner).

Sadly, my children would constantly ask for pancakes almost every day, and I  told them no..  I felt NO guilt doing so. Eventually though, the guilt penetrated this heart of mine... I was making the kiddos eat cold, sugary cereal, and all they wanted were pancakes. Oh the drama...

 But,  hooray for this solution...

I found this oatmeal pancake mix recipe, and didn't think much about it UNTIL I realized that it makes a ton, and lasts for months!! Plus, it's healthy... made with real oatmeal and whole wheat flour. Best of all, it's SO good. My six year old even asks for the leftover pancakes for his after school snacks... that means it's good! Promise.

I whip us a batch of this mix every 2 months or so, and keep it in a tightly covered container in the fridge. Now my kids get to eat their beloved pancakes a few times a week, and I only have 1 extra thing to wash... the pancake grill. Much better than sad, sugar cereal eating kiddos. (Ok, they still eat cereal more than their fair share of time, but I'm working on it :)!

3 1/2 cups oats (quick)
5 cups whole wheat flour (or substitute white for some or all if desired)
3 Tb sugar
3 Tb baking powder
1 Tb salt
1 Tb baking soda
1 cup canola oil

For the Mix...
Mix all ingredients except for oil in mixer with a paddle, or by hand.

Slowly add the oil while mixing.

After adding oil, grab a handful of mix in your hand, and squeeze. If it remains together, it's the right consistency. If it falls apart, it needs a bit more oil. Add a tablespoon of oil at a time, until it reaches the right consistency.

**Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for 2-3 months. Also, can be stored in an airtight container in the pantry for 1 month.

To make the pancakes:
For each cup of mix: add 1 cup of buttermilk and 1 egg.
(No buttermilk? Add 1 Tb of lemon juice to 1 cup of milk, and let sit for 5 minutes)
Stir and then pour on griddle.

Serve with syrup, fruit, cinnamon & sugar, jam, nutella, cookie butter...

**Note: You can also grind the oats before adding them to the recipe. This makes for a smoother pancake. Either way tastes great.
**Also, buttermilk freezes very well and comes in handy when making this often!

Recipe Source: King Arthur Flour

Happy breakfasting,
Nancy Pin It

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Baked Oatmeal

I've been on a quest to un-drudgerize breakfast for my family.  My kids don't like cereal anymore... even the sugary ones. Why? Well, this mama hates to start the day with a mess and a sink load of dishes, and cereal is the greatest option for minimal mess and dirty dishes. But, I've overdone it! Now that cereal is an unwelcome staple in our home,  I've been collecting easy and healthy breakfast ideas for a little more happiness at breakfast time... tasty, healthy, and quick clean up.

I came across this Baked Oatmeal recipe, and I LOVE it! It takes just a few minutes to throw together, and tastes way better than oatmeal cookies. Two of my kids won't touch regular oatmeal, but they gobble this down.

I've doubled the recipe when we've had guests sleep over. Everyone loved it. Next time we have guests for breakfast, I'm going to make this, and set out a bunch of toppings for an oatmeal bar.

3 cups oatmeal
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup oil
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray 8X8 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray

2. In a large bowl beat the eggs

3. Add all other ingredients

4. Cook for 20-25 minutes

Top with fruit, milk, nuts, or whatever sounds good!
Easily doubled in a 9X13 pan.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

XO, Nancy

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

REMEMBERING a loved one who has died

When my mom died, I really struggled with the grieving process.  I learned that there are five stages to the grieving process. There is no particular order or time for each stage. Sometimes we go through each stage and sometimes we skip stages and sometimes we revisit stages. We each grieve
in our own way and in our own time
so don't compare yourself to others and their grieving process.
Learn more here and here about these stages.  If you are struggling with the loss of a loved one I encourage you to look at these two websites they give great information.  Don't be afraid to seek grieving counseling if needed.

I believe in life after death and I believe that God has a plan for us.  Learn more here.  I believe that our loved ones are not far away from us and that they still love us and want us to be happy.  During my grieving process, I learned that I could still remember my mom and loved ones by making them apart of my life.  Here are some things that my family has done to REMEMBER those we love that are in heaven.

1. Decorate their grave.  

Balloons, flowers, wreaths etc. for holidays or other special days .

For my mom's birthday, I let the girls buy their favorite "Birthday" Balloon to give to Grandma.

2. Donate to a charity in their name.

Karalee, Brett's Mom and Brett
My sister has been on a weight loss journey this past year.  Check out her blog here.  She signed up for a 3K run in honor of my mom when she was in Hawaii called NAMI which stands for
National Alliance on Mental Illness.

3. Eat their favorite dinner or treat.

My mom's favorite treat was ice cream especially Starlight Mint and
on her birthday I make Chicken Cordon Blue for dinner. 

4. Do what they loved. 

My mom was famous for having fun and not following the rules. 
She was a big kid at heart and always made sure she was having fun with us girls.

5. Talk about them and share stories about them.

 My girls love to hear stories about my mom.  My sisters are great to also tell them stories when we are together.  Talking about your loved one keeps them apart of your life.  In a video we made for my mom's funeral we used the song Please Remember Me by Tim McGraw.  The line that always strikes me is "I will remember you, Will you remember me?"  I want to always be able to say Yes Mom, I remembered you.

Other Ideas:
Watch Movies about them, display their stuff around your house, look at pictures of them, talk to them as if they were here because they are.

What do you do to REMEMBER your loved one?


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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sugar Cookie Cupcakes (Oh so good...)

If I had to choose only one dessert that I could eat the rest of my life, THIS would be it. Serious. That good. Yep. Period.

The cake is an old fashioned recipe, and the frosting is a whipped, out of this world taste. I did not invent the frosting or the cake recipes, but I did adapt them and pair them with one another... One of the wisest decisions of my life.

I've made these for many birthday parties and family get-togethers. Finally, here it is written down. Hopefully for the family archives :)!

Cupcakes (Can also be baked as a cake):
4 egg whites beaten to stiff peaks
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
2  cups granulated sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups ice water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, set 24 cupcake wrappers in pans (or prepare pans otherwise)

1. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and set aside

2. In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes)

3. Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together

4. Add flour mixture and ice water to creamed butter. Alternate wet and dry until mixed in. Do not over mix!

5. Mix in almond and vanilla extracts

6. Fold in egg whites

7. Bake for 18-22 minutes (for 2 8 inch cakes, bake for 30 minutes)

10 Tb. Flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups milk
2 cups butter (I KNOW... but it's worth it!)
2 cups granulated sugar (NOT powdered sugar)

1. In a saucepan, whisk flour and milk together.

2. Then, turn on medium heat. Stir CONSTANTLY until very thick... texture resembles pudding. Make sure all the lumps are whisked out.

3. Cool completely (I put it in another bowl and stick it in the refrigerator).

4. When completely, 100 % cooled (or room temperature), add vanilla. Set aside.

5. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Make sure to beat past the grainy sugar stage.

6. Add milk/ flour mixture

7. Beat like crazy.

Try not to snitch the whole thing :).

 I love these so much. The extracts and the colors can vary. Different sprinkles make them fun for any occasion. Here's my Valentine version:

XO, Nancy
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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Breakfast from Heaven

I call this "Breakfast from Heaven" because these recipes are from the cookbooks of our loved ones who live in heaven.  My husband's Grandpa was famous for his "HOTCAKES" and my mom would make us homemade maple syrup when we had pancakes.

Papa Ballard's Hotcake Recipe

Mom's Maple Syrup Recipe

Add Primary Punch to this plate for a complete breakfast.

Happy Eating.

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