Sunday, October 30, 2011

Family Fun Making Mini Pizzas

This has been a very productive weekend! The whole family worked hard getting the house ready for Halloween, both of the kids had writing & research projects that they were working on for school, we had costumes to finish getting together, and I finally finished organizing my office and desk area which was a goal of mine to have finished this week. I couldn't have finished my office this weekend without Gary's help, it is nice having help when sorting papers!

Because the weekend was so busy, when Sunday evening came around I thought it would be fun to have a low key dinner and watch a show together as a family. So we all had fun in the kitchen making mini pizzas. I had originally purchased the ingredients for mini pizzas for a Halloween appetizer, but when I realized everything else that would be in the oven, I knew there wouldn't be any time to make the mini pizzas. Instead, the mini pizzas turned out to be a fun way to make a quick dinner.

These pizzas are super easy to make, and a fun thing for kids to help make.


Refrigerated Biscuits -basic regular variety that has 10 per pack
pizza sauce - you could also use spaghetti sauce or add some seasoning to tomato sauce
shredded cheeses like mozzarella and cheddar jack
pizza topping- Hormel sells mini pepperoni and sausage and hamburger crumbles , you could also set out olives and pineapple or whatever you like.

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray, parchment paper works the best.
Lay out 10 biscuits evenly spaced on each cookie sheet, and then press each biscuit down until it is thin like a little pizza crust- just like this.

Then add a thin layer of sauce.

Top with cheese.

Add toppings, and a little more cheese if desired.

Then bake each tray for about 7-8 minutes or until bottom is lightly browned.

Remove from oven, and serve with a salad.

I usually like to make things from scratch, and I hardly ever buy tube biscuits, but these are so fun to make, and tasty, that I am sure we will be making them again. My kids are older teens and would have no problem making these for their weekend lunch. Fun little treat!

After dinner while we were still enjoying one of our Halloween weekend movies, I got a jump start on tomorrows snacks and made a batch of Chex mix. My grandma used to make this during every Holiday season, I had never made it before, when I went to the Chex website, I was amazed to see how many Chex mix recipes they had, check out the website here, they have sweet, salty, spicy, whatever flavor you could think of, I am looking forward to trying a few more throughout the next couple of months.

I made this Chex mix with traditional seasonings, using a combination of the microwave and oven method, I melted the butter in the microwave and then mixed in the spices, see recipe here, tossed the cereal (wheat,rice and corn chex), pretzels, and goldfish with the butter seasoning mix until coated evenly ( I replaced the nuts and the garlic chips with goldfish, I couldn't find Garlic bagel chips and I can't eat tree nuts, so goldfish it is). Then I baked the mix at 250 F. for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes. The whole house smelled great, and the mix turned out yummy, now I'll just have to leave it alone until tomorrow night- wish me luck!

I am really looking forward to our Halloween evening tomorrow night. Hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tasha Tudor Giveaway Winner

Last week I hosted a giveaway for Tasha Tudor's Book Pumpkin Moonshine, and the winner is... Angela -comment #15. Congratulations Angela!

To all of you who entered, thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving such nice comments! Be sure and check back for my other giveaways coming up in November and December, as well as lots of holiday recipes and ideas I will be sharing! I love the holidays and am getting excited all ready!

Here is my Amazon affiliate link for Pumpkin Moonshine- it is a wonderful book and would make a great addition to any library!

Thanks for stopping by April's Homemaking!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloweens Past & Halloween Favor Bags

I am looking forward to Halloween Weekend. Everything is decorated, and I have been busy getting some goody bags made for our Halloween party. We have had fun during the week watching a few Halloween specials, and I look forward to watching a few more over the next few days. I thought it would be fun to post some pictures of Halloweens past, when my kids were little, and all dressed up for the fun.

This picture is of Sarah's first Halloween, and we dressed her as a little pumpkin. A baby's first Halloween is so much fun!

My son Joseph was born 15 months after Sarah, keeping with tradition, we dressed Joseph in the same Pumpkin costume, he was only just over a month old on his first Halloween. I still have our little pumpkin costume tucked away in hopes that one day I might take pictures of my Grand kids in the same costume.

This next picture was taken during my daughters first year of grade school, and well into her princess loving phase, little brother was dressed as a little dragon. So we had a princess and a little dragon who enjoyed going to their first school party.

We have always enjoyed pumpkin carving, and look forward to picking out our pumpkins and figuring out what face to carve every year, this was way back in 2001, hard to believe this was 10 years ago, my how time flies!

This was the year my daughter dressed up as a queen, and my son dressed up as a Knight, he was very excited to use his armor and sword, they both looked wonderful. I enjoy it when they choose coordinating costumes, we have had a few coordinated years that were really cute.

In the picture below Sarah had fun dressing up as Hermione from Harry potter, she looked so cute! Joseph dressed as a Pirate which has turned out to be one of his favorite things to dress as for Halloween, and since then he has had many different Pirate costumes.

Lastly, I had to include an Apple Bobbing picture, I think it's fun to have out apples to bob for on Halloween, for traditions sake. I however, am not fond of getting my face and hair drenched- Gary was a real sport and demonstrated apple bobbling for the kids- I may have to put out some apples to bob and see if any of the teenagers are game to try this year, we'll see? I love how Xena our lab is watching in the last photo, she must have been wondering what Dad was up to!

Now for Halloween Present- I have been busy today putting together our Halloween favor bags for our open house. I came up with a very simple and inexpensive way to decorate small brown paper lunch bags. I used the Halloween stamp set that I found on clearance a couple of weeks ago, and stamped bats, pumpkins, owls, and cats in black ink on the bags, the bags were filled with Halloween candy and snacks, the top is folded down, and using a hole puncher, punched two holes about 2 inches apart on the top, and tied a double bow through the top with raffia.

Here's how they turned out-

I look forward to a nice weekend watching Halloween Specials like - It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, Hocus Pocus, Halloween Town trilogy, and I have Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster on the DVR to watch also- and enjoying lots of Popcorn and hot cider!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Southwest Chicken Broccoli Casserole & Fall Challenge

I grew up eating a lot of Casseroles, and it was one of the first things I learned how to cook. I love casseroles, and just like when making soup, you can combine so many ingredients in a casserole, and use whatever you have on hand to whip up a good dollar stretching meal.

This is one of my new favorite Casseroles- Southwest Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

3 cups cubed cooked boneless/skinless chicken
1 10 oz can Rotel (southwest flavored diced tomatoes)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup milk
2 cups shredded Cheddar Jack or Mexican Blend Cheese
1 small bag of frozen broccoli-steamed with 1 Tablespoon dehydrated onions
1 package of Rotini spiral pasta - cooked and drained

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a large casserole dish combine cooked chicken and steamed broccoli with dehydrated onions (I actually cooked my chicken in a pan, then added broccoli when chicken is almost done and dehydrated onion to steam with the chicken in a little water until the broccoli and chicken were fully cooked), 1 can cream of chicken soup, rotel, and half a cup of milk, and stir. Then stir in cooked pasta and cheese, folding all of the ingredients together until the casserole is evenly mixed if you need a little more milk add another 1/4 cup until mixed. Cover pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 375 F. Or until casserole is heated through. This casserole can be a one dish meal and would also go nicely with some hot corn bread.

A nice "comfort food" dinner.

Fall Making Your Home A Haven Challenge - Week 4

I have been participating in the Fall 31 Day Making Your Home A Haven Challenge going on at Women Living Well blog, and this is week four. You can read this week's challenge here.

Part of this weeks challenge is to create special family nights. Part of being a homemaker is planning fun and special events for your family, I love this part of my homemaking, and planning special family events is something I really enjoy doing. Life can get very busy, especially with kids getting older and having so many different things going on, it is important to maintain family time. I love picking out a special family movie and fixing a special dinner or dessert to go with it, or planning a special outing like our trip this weekend to The Pioneer Cemetery that you can read about here, or our trip to The Pumpkin Patch that you can read about here.

There are so many fun things you can do with your family that cost very little money, my children love game nights, I look forward to more game nights as the fall and winter set in. I love finding beautiful places to take nature walks and bring along a nice snack or even a picnic.

Another part of this weeks challenge is to give every member of your family a back rub- the bible verse to think on is Mark 10:16.

And he (Jesus) took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:16 (NIV)

I am sure my whole family will love this part of the challenge, who doesn't love a nice back rub? When my daughter was first born, I took a class on Mommy and Me baby massage, it was so nice to learn calming techniques and a safe method of giving your baby a nice massage. This was such a nice class and baby massage was very useful for calming both my babies if they were fussy. I would encourage all new moms to find a class like this.

The challenge this week encourages mothers and homemakers to be both fun and tender.

As far as the previous weeks challenges, which can all be read here , I am still enjoying lighting my candle and praying for my family and home as I pass by and notice the flame, this is one of my favorite new things to do in my housekeeping routine.

As far as playing soft music in my home, I have a hard time playing music too often as my hubby works from home, and needs quiet to do his work during the day. Also I am very affected by music, and can get carried away into lala land by just about any beautiful music. I will turn on music and go about chores and find my self hours later with no chore done, surrounded by CDs reminiscing or with my tin whistle trying to learn a new song I heard. I am a bit too expressive in that regard, so I have to only play music when it is the appropriate time for the tone of the household. We all love music though and it is definitely part of our home.

And last weeks challenge to organize a space that needed work, my office, is still underway, I have made a lot of progress on my paper clutter, and am hoping to be finished in the next couple of days.

This challenge has been very enjoyable, it is great to have certain tasks as well as spiritual goals to help with making my home a haven. Next week will be the final task, and will take place in the kitchen with the whole family cooking a meal together- I am really looking forward to that!

P.S. There is still a little time left to enter my Tasha Tudor Giveaway which ends on Thursday, October 27th at midnight.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Country Drive & The Pioneer Cemetery

Yesterday was an enjoyable Sunday. We had a nice morning in church and afterward went for a nice drive in the surrounding countryside and payed a visit to the local Pioneer Cemetery. We enjoyed a nice lunch and family movie, then headed back to church for a pumpkin carving evening.

Every fall, I like to visit an old cemetery with the whole family. Fall is a natural time to ponder the brevity of life, as the garden is dying down, and the leaves are falling from the trees, livestock is being butchered, and the days are growing shorter and colder. Now that my children are older, we were able to have a great discussion about life and death as we walked through the pioneer cemetery.

14.Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14 (NIV)

You could see gravestones of babies who lived a very short time, of husband and wife buried side by side having lived until old age, there were graves of people who died in their teen years, or in the middle of life. The point we expressed to our kids was that people can pass away at any age. Gary pointed out that lives are lived out in the dash between the year you are born and the year you die, and that we need to make the most out of our time. We discussed the importance of being passionate about life, and seeking out the Lord's will for our lives, and then doing those things.

15.Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, 16. making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV)

Of course when surrounded by a bunch of tombstones, one cannot help but worry a bit about one's own death, it is nice to remember and be comforted by our eternal salvation, and belief in our Lord and savior Jesus.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (NIV)

From a historical standpoint the cemetery was also fascinating, many of the names on the tombstones are names of major farms, and roads around our area. Also reading some of the older names where interesting, and thinking about what life was like in the 1800s.

The grounds of the cemetery were nice to walk through, and the surrounding scenery was beautiful.

The area we live in has many fields full of Christmas trees, so pretty!

I love these red and yellow barns, they look wonderful with the sun shining through the gray clouds.

On our drive, we drove by this herd of cattle, happily grazing away.

The kids spotted this cow, and thought it looked like a Panda Bear, from the side it really did look like a Panda Cow!

The air was crisp and fresh, with a nice background smell of fall burn piles. We saw a few burn piles going.

After our drive and visit we went home for lunch and had a fun time watching a family movie. The movie is one of my favorites from when I was younger, Watcher in the Woods, I used to think this movie was so spooky as a child, and perfect for October. This movie was made by Disney in the early 80's and takes place in an British Manor and surrounding forest. I watch this movie with my family every year, and enjoy it every time. You can check it out at my Amazon affiliate link below.

During the movie I baked a batch of mini cupcakes to bring along to our Pumpkin Carving evening at church. I love mini cupcakes- easy to make enough for a crowd, and just the right size for a little treat.

We headed back to church, and had a fun evening of fellowship and pumpkin carving. All of the kids & teens were very creative, when all of the pumpkins were carved, they were lit, and looked great with the lights out.

Here are the two Sarah & Joseph made sitting on the front porch.

Very nice ending to a wonderful Sunday. Have you visited a local cemetery this autumn? What is your favorite family friendly October movie?

P.S. There is still time to enter the Tasha Tudor Giveaway, which ends Thursday October 27th at midnight.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins & Tasha Tudor Giveaway

Less than two weeks 'til Halloween, and I have finally finished decorating. I love to decorate for Halloween with slightly whimsical primitive folk decor. I love the rich oranges and antique black. This year my decor is pretty similar to last years, however, I have moved some things around a bit, and added a few new decorations. I love to have everything decorated for my annual Halloween Appetizer buffet open house- here is my post from Halloween 2010. Now for a tour of some of my decor from this year.

I always have out candy dishes with candy corn autumn mix- this candy dish sits next to my little Halloween tree and Halloween Count Ratula's.

I love tucking decorations onto my bookshelves, and I love my happy little green faced witch, she looks like something Norman Bridwell would have drawn. I was also lucky to get a Yankee Candle Boney Bunch "Bonesy" tea light holder- we all thought this little Halloween dog was cute.

I love my white pumpkin, and like it next to these decorations- I would love to grow white pumpkins sometime.

This year I moved more of my decorations to the mantle, and added a few more floral picks, I think floral picks are handy because they are easy to tuck in here and there and they are very inexpensive.

I found these painted wooden decorations at Walmart quite some time ago for only a dollar each- I haven't put them up in awhile, because I didn't want to put nail holes anywhere, but now that I found the tiny 3M Command hooks, I can hang them on my door and remove them without leaving a mark. I go through a lot of these little hooks during the holidays.

Here is my little whimsical haunted house along with my little primitive skeleton doll, I am not super big on scary skulls and things, but I thought this little guy was cute.

So that's a tour of some of my current decorations, I am hoping to add a few more things just before Halloween, I got some wonderful Martha Stewart Crow & Mice Cutouts on clearance the other day, and I am considering putting those out for our Halloween buffet.

Today, since I was in a festive mood, I decided to make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins for a yummy fall after school treat. (Had to tuck in a few of my new little mushroom and pumpkin floral picks for the picture, I was so happy when I found some with little mushrooms!)

Here's my recipe:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup chocolate chips

First combine all dry ingredients including spices and mix together until combined, then add the oil, pumpkin, milk and egg and stir until combined- batter will be slightly lumpy, then fold in 1 cup chocolate chips. Grease or spray muffin pan with non stick spray. Fill with batter 3/4 full. Bake at 350 F. for 15-18 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve warm with a little butter- these are delicious and make a wonderful afternoon snack!

Now for a special Halloween Giveaway!

I would like to share about one of my favorite Autumn Children's Books- Pumpkin Moonshine by Tasha Tudor. I have enjoyed Tasha Tudor Books and art work for many years, I loved learning about Tasha Tudor's old fashioned country living, and am inspired by her way of life.

Pumpkin Moonshine is one of her classic Children's stories- The story is about Sylvie Ann, a little girl who would like to find a big pumpkin to carve into a "Pumpkin Moonshine" or in other words a Jack-O-Lantern. She goes out to the field and finds a big pumpkin, which is so big she must roll it home, the big pumpkin rolls away from her and goes bounding through the farm, and she must chase this pumpkin all the way home. The illustrations are darling, and the story is very sweet. This story was written by Tudor for her niece who was visiting her from England, as a Christmas gift- what a memorable gift this must have made!

I would highly recommend this book for anyone who loves good, simple country living stories for their children. I would also recommend this books for adults who love the art of Tasha Tudor and fans of books like the Little House series or Avonlea.

You can read more about it at Amazon through my affiliate link below.

Now for the Giveaway!

I am keeping this giveaway simple- I am giving away one new copy of Pumpkin Moonshine by Tasha Tudor, chosen at random through from the comment list below. Pumpkin Moonshine Giveaway starts on Thursday, October 20th, 2011 and ends on Thursday, October 27th, 2011 at midnight. Winner will be announced on a blog post Friday, October 28th, 2011. To enter, read official rules below. (Sorry they are so long, I did some reading up on hosting giveaways and am complying to Federal rules on hosting giveaways)

Official Rules:

#1-No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Must be 18 years or older to enter. Giveaway open to readers with United States shipping addresses only.

#2- To enter, leave a comment below, one entry per person please. Your entry is your comment, and will be assigned a number based on the order in which it was received. By entering you agree to these official rules.

#3-Winner is chosen by a number generated at random through If your prize number matches the number chosen, and you meet giveaway requirements, you win the prize.

#4-Winner must claim prize in 7 days from the day the winner is announced or a new winner will be selected.

#5- Winner may not substitute prize for any other prize or cash, however, if the prize becomes unavailable through reasons beyond my control, April's Homemaking reserves the right to substitute with a prize of equal or greater value.

#6- April's Homemaking reserves the right to cancel, suspend or modify giveaway, if in the opinion of April's Homemaking Blog, any fraud, technical failure, or any other factor affects the integrity of this giveaway.

#7- General Release- By entering this giveaway through this website, you release April's Homemaking Blog & April :) from any liability whatsoever, and waive any and all causes of action, related to any claims, costs, injuries, losses or damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the giveaway or delivery, misdelivery or acceptance of any prize (including, without limitation, claims, costs, injuries, losses and damages related to personal injuries, death or damage to or destruction of property, rights of publicity or privacy, defamation or portrayal in a false light, whether intentional or unintentional), whether under a theory of contract, negligence, warranty or other theory.

#8- Winner is responsible for all State, Federal and local taxes associated with receipt of this prize.

Good Luck! This is a wonderful book- for both children and adults! Be sure and come back next Friday to find out who won!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bulb Planting & Fall Challenge

Today was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, and the weather was perfect for planting all of my bulbs that arrived yesterday.

I have wanted to get bulbs in our garden for quite a few years, and have only planted a handful since moving here five years ago. I decided to plant some of my favorites into my front yard. I got a nice selection of blue & blue purple flowers, I also got a bag of Rainbow mix tulips, as well as some very pretty branching tulips that are a red orange color.

I got the whole family to help with planting so it would go quickly. The boys made quick work of all of the digging- we have very clayish soil that can be very difficult to dig in, Sarah helped me get the bulbs into the ground.

We planted Grape Hyacinth and A couple of English bluebells under our tree, and we planted a big round bed of all the blue/purple flowers- English Bluebells, Mountain Lilies, Drumstick Allium, Grape Hyacinth, and "Fantasy Creation" Grape Hyacinth (which is a new one for me, and I am excited to see grow). We also put groups of the rainbow tulips and branching tulips around the front garden. I also bought one Iris- "Men In Black" Iris -which looks like it will be a very dark purple- Irises are expensive bulbs, so I figured I better just start with one, plus that way it will be extra special to watch it bloom.

Planting bulbs is a bit of an exercise in faith and patience- it requires some money up front, and a good bit of planting, and then a lot of waiting and faith that they will pop through the ground in the spring. I very much look forward to seeing what comes up this next spring under our tree and in the front garden.

For dinner I decided to serve some of the acorn squash from our garden- here is how I like to prepare it. First I slice each one in half, and clean out the seeds. Then I set each half in a baking pan, and put a pat of butter in each half.

Then a heaping tablespoon of brown sugar in each half.

Then I bake them at 375 F. for a little over an hour, until squash is fork tender.

I am always overzealous with the sugar and probably should have put in a little bit less, but they were still very tasty along with sausages, sauteed onions & sauteed mushrooms. This is a wonderful and easy way to prepare squash.

Now for Week Three of the Make your Home a Haven Challenge that I have been Participating in at Women Living Well's Blog, I would encourage you to check out week three's challenge post here.

This week our challenge in the home is to find one area that needs work organizing, and buy something nice, like a basket, to help organize it. I just finished a nice fall clean up of the Master bedroom, and got all of our Fall/Winter clothing out and put away Spring/Summer clothing. As well as got rid of old and non fitting garments. I love how clean my closet is. The rest of this week I will be working on my office- this is my problem area! I will be organizing my bill center and mail area, as well as catching up on files.

The second half of the challenge for this Week is a spiritual challenge- to work on Repentance.

The Verse that was shared is:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1John 1:9 (NIV)

This week I will be thoughtful about sins in my life, and praying and repenting about them.

Last weeks spiritual aspect of the challenge was to work on being more gentle, this is something I am still focused on working on. As I was planning my Sunday school lesson this week, one of my tasks was to create my classroom rules using verses. I chose a couple of really nice verses- this is the one I chose as my class's Memory verse that we will be working on this month.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. - Colossians 3:12 (NIV)

I loved this verse as a classroom rule, and also thought it went along well with last weeks challenge of learning to be gentle. I had the kids glue a printed out copy of this verse onto a fall colored small sheet of cardstock which we then had fun decorating with glitter- I made one too for my fridge- so our family can learn it along with my Sunday school class.

Did anyone else plant spring bulbs this fall? What is the area of your home that needs some organizing?