Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Home and Two Turkey Left-Over Recipes

This year our family is celebrating Thanksgiving with my husband's family. I am looking forward to waking up on Thanksgiving and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade then heading out to visit family. Even though I am not hosting the Thanksgiving meal I still like to put out Thanksgiving decorations, so I thought I would share some of the decorations that I put up this year. I also thought I would share two Thanksgiving leftover recipes.

This year I added some fun new wooden signs to my Thanksgiving decor, I found the signs in the Target Dollar Spot for $3.00 each, which I think is a great deal. I paired the wooden signs with candle holders I already had, as well as a few animal figures and of course my Thanksgiving Snoopy.

I used a lot of the same decor as previous years, in addition to using all of the pumpkins that I painted with metallic paint for Halloween.

On my bookcases I tucked in my little Thanksgiving figurines that I have had for awhile now.

I also had fun decorating with some of the cute fox decor that I found at Walmart earlier this fall.

Since I am not hosting Thanksgiving this year I decided to cook a turkey last week so we could still have our favorite Thanksgiving foods as well as our leftover meals. I cooked the turkey from a frozen solid state following directions I found online. I have always wanted to experiment with that and it worked out great. I was very careful to remove the plastic giblet bag as soon as the turkey thawed enough to remove it. Of course the Turkey took a lot longer to cook, but we were in no hurry. I was glad to have tried out the method, it worked great and I did not have the fuss of thawing out my turkey. I made stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, brussel sprouts, and mushrooms, and we also had canned cranberry sauce, and rolls. Everything was yummy.

I love using all the turkey meat in leftover dinner recipes. This year I made one of my favorites- Creamy Turkey Noodle Casserole.

Here is my Creamy Turkey Noodle Casserole Recipe-

1 pound Rotini pasta, 2 cups chopped cooked turkey, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 soup can of milk, rounded half cup of grated cheddar jack cheese, half a bag of frozen green peas, salt, pepper, 15 Ritz crackers, 1 rounded Tablespoon Parmesan, 1 1/2 Tablespoons of olive oil.

Cook and drain one pound rotini pasta (or any of your favorite shaped pasta)
while the pasta is cooking chop up about two cups of leftover cooked turkey into small cubes. Return drained pasta to pan, add turkey, one can cream of mushroom soup, 1 soup can of milk, half a bag of frozen green peas, and a rounded half cup of cheddar jack shredded cheese (add a bit more if you like cheese), add salt and pepper to taste. Stir until combined then transfer to a greased casserole dish. For the topping crush about 15 Ritz crackers in a small Ziploc bag, add a rounded tablespoon of grated Parmesan (just the sort in a jar), and about a tablespoon and a tablespoon and a half of olive oil, seal the Ziploc bag and shake until combined, then top the casserole with the crumble mixture. Bake the casserole at 350 F. until the casserole is heated through and the crumble topping is golden brown, about 25 minutes.

I like to serve casseroles with extra veggies and sometimes a muffin or apple bread side dish.

The next night I made a family favorite Thanksgiving leftover- Turkey and Stuffing Roll-Ups. I came up with this recipe a couple of years ago, and it is always yummy. Here is a link to my Turkey and Stuffing Roll-Up Recipe.

I have been thoroughly enjoying all of the fall weather we have been having, the cooler temperatures have finally arrived and along with it, it is seems we have quite a few more birds in our garden. Last week I was sitting at my computer and kept hearing the cutest little chirping going on in my front yard, so I thought I would take a peek. I was surprised to see all of my burberry bushes filled with the cutest little birds flying around so quickly you could hardly catch a glimpse. Upon closer inspection I realized they were bushtits. I got my camera and tried to get a couple of good pictures through the window, they were so fast it was tricky but I managed to get a couple. Bushtits are so tiny, the body is only about an inch long, the tail is about another inch as well. I just love these birds!

Apparently they were quite fond of my bushes, I couldn't tell if they were eating the berries on the shrubs or something else, but I'm glad they enjoyed them. I hope they come often. :)

Here is my Thanksgiving Home Tour, Recipe Idea, and November favorites video if you are interested in seeing clips of my home decor, as well as checking out some of my November favorites.

I hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving and has safe travels,

Thanks for stopping by!

Linking to:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Simply Sunday School - A Ruth and Naomi Harvest Bible Craft

We have been very busy around here with holiday preparations. I wanted to share a very fun harvest themed Bible craft that I did with my Sunday school class this month. I have so many Sunday School children's Bible crafts to share as part of my Simply Sunday School posts, and I am hoping to catch up a bit in December as well as into the new year. This craft is actually part of a larger series of lessons that I will be sharing when I have completed them all. I decided that instead of my usual Thanksgiving and Christmas lessons this year that I would teach the Fruits of the Spirit throughout the holiday season matching up the different Fruits of the Spirit with different aspects of the holiday season, as well as some good lessons for in between. Since it is Harvest time and Thanksgiving, I thought of the story of Ruth and Naomi, and I decided to use this story to teach the Fruit of the Spirit - Kindness. I came up with a fun craft for this lesson that I really wanted to share since it also makes a nice decoration for Thanksgiving.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 

I love the story of Ruth and Naomi which is found in the Old Testament in the book of Ruth. Ruth is Naomi's daughter in law, and after both of their husbands die, Ruth decides to stay with Naomi and go with her back to her family in Bethlehem, I felt this story was a nice example of Kindness. When Ruth and Naomi get to Bethlehem, Boaz, one of Naomi's family members also shows Ruth kindness by letting her glean in his fields and instructing his men to leave Ruth grain to glean. It is a very nice story, and the whole book of Ruth can be read in one sitting. I wanted to make a craft of Ruth holding grain. So I cut out a cone shape from orange construction paper, and using glue stick and tape turned it into a cone. I wrote the word kindness on the bottom. I also cut out two arm shapes, and used a circle punch to cut out a head shape. I had the kids tape on the arms and glue on the head using glue stick.

I found dried wheat at the craft store and cut the stem so it would be the right size, and taped two pieces in the arms, then taped the arms together. I love the way they turned out and I think they look nice as a harvest table decoration.

Our Bible verse was a simple shortened one. Be kind to one another. Ephesians 4:32 After reading the story of Ruth we talked about kindness, and I had the children give examples of acts of kindness.

For snack, keeping with the grain and harvest theme, I made my harvest snack mix with the kids, I told them how cereal is made of grain, and we added Corn Chex, Vanilla Chex, and Cinnamon Chex to a bowl, as well as candy corn, Bugles to represent a cornucopia, and raisins. I let the kids all take a turn stirring the mixture with a couple of big wooden spoons, which they really enjoyed. Then they each scooped a cup for snack time, then after snack they all made a bag of the mix to bring home and share.

I also brought in a bunch of extra dried wheat to show them a bit about what gleaning would be like, and how the wheat has little wheat berries inside and how they would have been harvested and turned into bread. I passed around the wheat and let each child pick out a wheat berry to look at. They where all fascinated with with that as well, which I thought was fun.

I think this made a fun Harvest themed Thanksgiving lesson, and the kids seemed to really enjoy the whole lesson. 

I will hopefully be sharing the rest of my Fruit of the Spirit lessons at the end of the year.

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Linking to:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fall 2015 Family Picnic at the River

Every fall I love getting outdoors and exploring all the beautiful fall scenery. I especially love going down by the river and seeing all of the trees changing color and dropping their leaves. The colors reflect in the river so beautifully. When we had a dry fall day we decided to pack a simple picnic and head down to the river to explore.

I love red plaid, and my classic red plaid thermos and lunch box, so I packed a simple classic picnic in all of our red plaid gear, along with a red plaid blanket. On the way we picked up a regular baguette, and a sour dough baguette, and we were all in the mood for coffees.

Along with our bread and coffee, I brought a wedge of Gouda, some slices of Havarti, Genoa Salami, and roast beef. I love simple meats and cheese with fresh baguette.

For dessert I brought grapes and two delicious Honey Crisp Apples to dip in Smucker's Salted Caramel. The Smucker's Caramel was wonderful and definitely a new favorite.

I also brought a thermos of hot apple cider, we all love hot apple cider, it is a family favorite. Me and Sarah also decided to wear our plaid sneakers which was fun. :)

Sarah and Joe were good sports as I tried to get some fun pictures of them throwing leaves. I think the pictures turned out cute.

I was finally able to break out a fall sweater, up until then it had been too warm for fall sweaters. I also wore my favorite stag necklace I found last year. Of course I wouldn't want to go out to the woods without my trusty Swiss Army Knife, I bought this knife for my self in high school and it has held up beautifully over the years.

My kids love exploring and climbing trees, they have since they were little. I love all the pictures I got for our scrapbook.

Gary and Joe had a fun time skipping rocks down by the river.

I took the opportunity to get as many pictures of Sarah and Joe as I could.

I got a bunch of really great pictures of us all, I think outdoor photos are always my favorite.

The water level of the river was the lowest that we had ever seen it. In this old post from 2012 you can see how high the river was on the water level ruler. It was so low on the day we went we could walk all the way around the cement bridge support, and it looked like with a pair of wading boots you could easily walk right across the river in quite a few places. It was fun to explore parts of the river bed that we don't normally get to see. A few days later our fall rain arrived and there were flood warnings for some of the houses by this park. Crazy how a few days of heavy rain can make that much difference!

The kids and Gary had fun playing hide and seek, they are all so good at hiding that it always ends up making me a bit nervous, one of these days I will have to find a clever hiding spot! :)

I love all of the interesting trees at this park, there are so many different growth shapes and root shapes, it always fascinates me, and all the interesting trees are perfect for more photos! :)

The kids took some pictures of Gary and me as well.

I love this brother and sister picture of Sarah and Joe down one the river bank.

The water was so beautiful, I loved the autumn leaves reflecting on the water.

Overall a wonderful day, and a perfect family picnic!

Since I have been having fun lately playing around with video I also made a short video of our outing. 

I hope everyone is enjoying the fall! 

Thanks for stopping by! 

Linking to:

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween Appetizer Buffet and Mini Graveyard Dessert Cups

We had a great time this past weekend celebrating Halloween. I always have so much fun decorating for Halloween and watching classic Halloween specials all October. Then, when Halloween arrives, it has been our tradition for years now to host a Halloween open house appetizer buffet. I serve classic appetizers and play family friendly Halloween shows, friends and family can drop by in between trick or treating and have some snacks and goodies. Here are a few pictures from our Halloween appetizer buffet this year, as well as links to the recipes I use.

I always start Halloween day with getting my Mulled Cider going in the crock pot.

I simple peel the center section of the apple peel away, like shown above, then stud the apple with whole cloves. I also add a sachet of mulling spices (you can find them in the spice or tea aisle or online) the tea bag style sachet has orange peel, cinnamon, and other spices that help to flavor the apple cider. I use a basic bottled apple cider from the grocery store as the base. The apple cider is best after about four hours in the crock pot, then I leave it on low for the rest of the evening and set out whipped cream and caramel for the topping. The hot mulled cider always hits the spot after getting cold while out trick or treating, and it makes the house smell wonderful!

Every year I pick a selection of hot appetizers, this year I chose crescent wrapped li'l smokeys, mushroom pinwheels, classic sweet and sour meatballs (this year I used regular meatballs, some years I use Turkey meatballs, they both work great), and our favorite bacon wrapped tater tots. Click the links for the recipes, you can find more appetizer recipes in the recipe index on my side bar.

I also like to set out cold appetizers and other snacks that don't have to be baked and can be pre-made. I made a ham and onion cracker spread which I serve with Ritz Crackers, I also decided to set out some thick cut radishes for this dip as well, and the spread is delicious with the radishes. I will definitely be serving this spread with radishes from now on! :) I also made the classic pickle and cream cheese ham roll ups which are always tasty and easy to make. I set out some fun bone shaped cheese puffs and Halloween shaped tortilla chips with queso blanco dip which I purchased pre-made in a jar.

Of course a Halloween party would not be complete without a nice selection of sweets. We had a huge bin of candy to pass out, and on the table I set out the many different Halloween snacks that were available this Halloween season. There were Halloween Oreos, and pumpkin spice Oreos, Halloween Chips Ahoy, a nice selection of different Halloween Peeps, Popcorn Balls, and little tiny bags of mini cheese puffs for extra treats to take home. Out of all of the packaged Halloween treats this year I was so impressed with the Caramel Apple Peeps, I wasn't sure how it would taste but it looked fun and I love caramel, well I was surprised! The caramel was delicious, the apple flavoring was yummy and not overwhelming, and it even had a little hint of saltiness to balance out the sweet, I sure hope they make them again next year, the caramel apple peeps are definitely a new favorite of mine! :)

Of course the packaged treats are fun, but I always like to make a special dessert as well. When the kids were little I made a fun pudding graveyard dessert, they really enjoyed it and were hoping I would make it again this year. I figured it would be hard to serve a crowd, so instead of the style that is made in a 9 X 13 pan I made them in individual cups. Also instead of using cookies as the gravestones I used the new Gravestone peeps as decorations. Here is the simple recipe.

First crush up an entire package of regular Oreos, I imagine you could use a food processor if you have one, I don't, so I put the Oreos into a large Ziploc freezer bag, then I used a meat mallet to crunch them up until they were in nice small pieces, and the frosting filling was well incorporated into the crumbled cookies. The Ziploc bag stared to break after a bit so before cookie crumbs went everywhere I put the Ziploc bag into another Ziploc bag to double bag it, and that did the trick.    Mix two regular sized boxes of instant chocolate pudding with 3 cups of milk until well mixed, then let that stand for five minutes. Then fold in one regular sized tub of thawed Cool Whip into the pudding, and half of the crumbled up Oreos. Spoon into short clear plastic drink cups, then top with a rounded 1/8 cup of cookie crumble, pat down the crumble cookie topping and spread it out so it covers the pudding mix, then top with a Gravestone Peep and a pumpkin candy. This recipe will make about ten cups, I doubled the recipe and made twenty cups so I would have plenty to serve. They turned out really yummy, and they looked fun! :)

I made a short video of our Halloween Open House and Appetizer Buffet so you can get a better look at how things were set up.

I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween. I always feel like Halloween kicks off the Holiday season, yesterday I was shopping after church and Christmas things were being set up at all of the stores, such and exciting time of year! Today I will be busy removing all of my Halloween decorations, boxing them up carefully for next year, and putting out my Thanksgiving decorations. :)

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Linking to:
Inspire Me Tuesday
Show and Share
Clever Chicks Blog Hop
Artful Homemaking Link-Up

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Metallic Painted Pumpkins Project

I had a wonderful time this evening decorating a selection of mini pumpkins with a variety of metallic paints. This project was fun and simple and I love the way my pumpkins turned out.

Last year I had a lot of fun decorating a bunch of mini pumpkins with twine, washi tape, and glitter which you can read about by in my post from last year. I love the way they turned out, and it was probably the most fun I had ever had decorating pumpkins. Decorating pumpkins without carving them can be a nice alternative.

So this year I decided I would have fun again decorating a selection of mini pumpkins, but instead of washi tape, glitter, and twine, I decided to do a metallic paint theme. I am loving mixing different metallic colors in my decor this year, so I thought it would be fun to buy a selection of metallic paint and paint my mini pumpkins with different designs. 

I found a nice selection of Martha Stewart Metallic paint at the craft store, there were so many different colors. I was really hoping to find a rose gold, which I couldn't find, but I did find a rose chrome color that I really liked. I found multiple shades of copper, gold, chrome, silver, and more. Craft paint like this is fairly inexpensive, and they are useful for multiple projects, so it is nice to add new colors to my paint box. I also picked up some inexpensive brushes just in case painting pumpkins was hard on the brush. I also got a couple circle sponge applicators so I could make polka dots easily. I found a nice selection of mini orange pumpkins at the pumpkin patch, and all the little white ones I used were from my own garden. 

I always like to use a paper plate or some other disposable tray to hold my paint, which makes cleaning up easier.

I painted all of the pumpkin's stems in coordinating paints, I painted one pumpkin with a stripe design, some I painted the top half, others I painted the bottom half. I painted two pumpkins with polka dots using my sponge applicator, which was a very easy method. I also did blended paint designs with a couple of the pumpkins. I set them out to dry on wax paper. The one that I painted the bottom half of I balanced upside down in a little cup so the bottom would dry. This project took around an hour, and I am leaving them out to dry over night.

Here is how they all turned out, each one is different, and I love the way all of the pumpkins look together, as well as on display with my metallic centerpiece on my table for Halloween. I also intend to use these little pumpkins in my Thanksgiving decor, I think they will look nice on my Thanksgiving table and sideboard.

This was a really fun and easy project, and I really love the look. I have a feeling I will enjoy using my new metallic paints for upcoming holiday projects as well! :)

Tonight after my pumpkin project, I made our traditional Halloween Layered Nachos with a sour cream spider web topping. This year I found really fun Halloween shaped tortilla chips, which definitely added a nice Halloween touch. We all spent the evening together watching Halloween shows. 

I am really looking forward to Halloween tomorrow. I will be serving a bunch of yummy appetizers and passing out lots of candy to all the trick or treaters, as well as spending time with my family. I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween!

Thanks for stopping by, and Happy Halloween! :)

Linking to:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fall Family Days - Halloweentown, Pumpkin Patch, Halloween S'mores

October is such a fun time for family outings, we have had a fun past couple of weekends doing different seasonal activities, I thought I would share what we've been up to.

Last month I read an article about the Disney movie Halloweentown. Halloweentown is a movie that my kids grew up watching and has always been a favorite of ours. Well, it turns out, that it was filmed in St. Helens, Oregon, and St. Helens decorates the town square just like Halloweentown for October every year. You can take pictures at the historic City Hall building as well as with a similar looking Halloweentown pumpkin. So we decided to take a little road trip to the town of St. Helens.

The drive is about an hour an a half from where we live, about half an hour north of Portland. I love seeing some of Portland's bridges. The weather was perfect for a drive.

When we arrived we were all excited to see the Halloweentown pumpkin as well as the historic city hall building. Although the pumpkin in the movie was bigger, it really was very similar looking and was really cool to see. We had just watched the movie the night before so it would be fresh in our minds, and it was so cool to see the location.

We all had fun taking pictures.

They had a cute picture station for the bus stop to Halloweentown as well.

We all took turns taking pictures on the steps of the city hall building.

The town of St. Helens Oregon was a cool small town, we walked around a it and checked out some of the old historic buildings. I can see why the town was chosen for the filming location, the City Hall building was definitely a perfect looking iconic City Hall building, perfect for filming.

Our trip to St. Helens was very memorable, and it will be even more fun to watch Halloweentown every Halloween season! The drive home was nice, we stopped off at Dairy Queen on the way home, for lunch and some ice cream. All around it was a great day. If you live nearby, it is definitely a fun day trip for October.

Here is a short little video I made of our outing to St. Helens, Oregon all decorated as Halloweentown.

Last week we also had fun with an impromptu fire pit night. We love fire pit evenings, sitting around a little fire, making s'mores and chatting. Since the weather was so dry this past summer we were unable to light a backyard fire, so it was especially nice to finally be able to have a little cookout. I made a batch of grilled onions for our bratwurst. I love grilled onions, sauerkraut, mayo, grainy mustard, relish and Ketchup on my brats. The fire was so relaxing to sit around, the sky was clear and the stars were beautiful.

After dinner, I brought out fixin's for s'mores, but instead of regular marshmallows I found jumbo pumpkin shaped orange colored marshmallows, which was extra fun.

S'mores are always yummy, and I loved these pumpkin marshmallows.

To keep going with all of the October fun, last weekend we made a trip to the pumpkin patch at Fir Point Farms. We had a fun time going on a hay ride around the farm, we got to see their bees hard at work. Then we picked out a bunch of different pumpkins for all of our different projects, with all of us hunting for different pumpkins for all of our various ideas, we ended up with quite a large collection! There were quite a few varieties to choose from which was really fun.

I got a great picture of Sarah and Joe on this old tractor, I think it is a wonderful brother and sister picture! :)

My son and his girlfriend Lorene also got a bunch of cute pictures together.

Just like last year we decided to go through the corn maze, it was a little more tricky this year, and definitely a fun challenge.

Also like last year I took fun, creepy "Children of the Corn" style pictures of the kids.

Then I had a little fun with some spooky editing. :) You can check out our 2014 Fir Point Farms trip here to see last year's pictures.

Here is another nice brother and sister photo I took in the corn maze.

There are also a bunch of farm animals to pet and feed at the farm. This year I made sure to bring plenty of quarters to put in the animal food coin machines. We fed goats and mini horses, you can feed some of the other animals as well. The mini horses were my favorite to feed, they were so sweet. Sarah really enjoyed the goats.

There was a really fun feeding contraption set up for the goats, you could put the food in a little cup on a pulley and pull the food to the top of a tree house that the goats could access by climbing up ramps.

There are so many neat things to see, it has a nice country feel, I loved this log cabin building.

One of my favorite things about Fir Point Farm is their delicious apple cider donuts. We got some to eat fresh and hot, as well as some to bring home. The fresh pressed hot cider was also delicious.

The day was very enjoyable, I would definitely recommend Fir Point Farms for any one who lives locally, it has a  really a great family atmosphere and is perfect for an October outing.

Fall is definitely my favorite time of year, the weather is so nice, not too cold or too hot, and I always love our fall family outings. I am looking forward to the rest of the season!

Thanks for stopping by!

Linking to:
Halloween Spooktacular Linky Party
Frugal Mommas Friday Link Up
Flaunt it Fridays
Freedom Fridays
Feathered Nest Fridays
Craft Frenzy Friday 
Simple and Sweet Fridays
No Rules Weekend Blog Party
Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop