Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Family Game Night

We have been spending a lot of family time this year playing board games. Over the years we have collected a large selection of family games and really enjoy a nice selection of games.

This past Easter I added a few new ones to our family games cupboard, and we have been having a lot of fun playing them.

We have plenty of classics that we enjoy, like Clue, Scattergories, Yahtzee, and so on. One classic game that we played recently was the classic game Parcheesi, this game is similar to the game called Aggravation that I grew up playing, I love the old fashioned look of the game board and the animal playing pieces, Parcheesi can take a little on the long side to play through, it can be surprisingly competitive!

One of the games I chose to give the family for Easter is called Tsuro: The Game of the Path- this game is easy to play, but requires some thinking ahead, as you place the tiles on the board to move your pieces around and don't want to take a path that falls off the board. The game board is illustrated nicely, and the playing pieces look like carved stones. We really enjoyed this game, I am looking forward to playing this one often, it is a nice quick game, fast paced and fun to play.

We all enjoy geek pop culture, and have a pretty good knowledge of the movies and video games in that genre, as well as some interest in science and technology. I thought that the game Geek Battle would be fun for our family, and it is. We have played this game now a few times, and my kids have also brought this along to play with friends. It's a trivia style game, and has plenty of questions that people with an interest in geek pop culture would know, some of the questions are pretty challenging, but there are plenty that we knew quite well. (Nothing worse than a trivia game with too many hard questions, that's no fun!) Definitely for teens and up as it would probably be too hard for younger kids. Very fun for family time!!

We enjoy game nights on the weekends, or Sunday afternoons, and usually play games after a fun an easy meal like pizza and salad. It is so fun to sit around a table, playing games, laughing, and talking as a family. Check out our favorite family games and movies on the side bar Amazon Associate Links.

What are your families favorite games to play?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Welcome Summer Hot Dog and S'more Roast

This Memorial Weekend we decided to have a fun Hot Dog and S'more Roast to welcome summer and as an end of the school year get together. Saturday we had a houseful of teens who spent the day eating good food, playing games, and listening to music, it was a blast!

Before the party we spent some time getting the house ready for company, Gary bought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers with all of my favorite colors, bright oranges, bright salmon pinks, and chartreuse greens, including some Bells of Ireland and little green mums which I love! It was a nice surprise and really helped brighten up the house. :)

I found some fun chevron pattern plates in bright spring colors and got out my jelly jars and large glass drink dispensers. I am in love with paper straws, they make them in so many patterns, I used some left over pink and white striped ones from my sister's bridal shower, as well as some yellow chevron ones I found at Target. I made pink lemonade and orange drink which looked nice and summery. :)

My son and his girlfriend invited over a bunch of their friends from school, many of whom my daughter knows as well, and they hung out all day, snacking, listening to music and playing games. I kept the chip bowls full with the classics, Cheetos mix, potato chips with onion dip, and tortilla chips with salsa con queso dip. I made my kid's favorite snacks- pizza rolls, and bacon wrapped tater tots. They played the most rousing game of Monopoly I have ever seen! It was funny! :)

Bacon wrapped tater tots are my go-to appetizer for teen parties, and they are very easy to make- cut bacon strips into three equal pieces, and wrap each piece around a slightly thawed out tater tot (not all the way thawed, just enough so you can stick a tooth pick through), secure bacon onto tot with a round tooth pick stuck through. Bake on a foil lined baking pan, with a metal cooling rack set inside of it, so the bacon and tots don't sit in bacon grease. Bake at 425 F. until bacon is cooked through and slightly crispy and tater tot is cooked. around half an hour, but time can vary based on the thickness of bacon and how hot the oven runs. Make a couple of batches because they disappear fast!

The weather was nice so we decided to have a fire and roast hot dogs for dinner, the fire was a little smokey, but it was still fun to cook outside. I always keep a large supply of roasting forks on hand, we love cooking over a fire throughout the summer. I set out all the classic hot dog toppings, and we enjoyed our first hot dogs of the summer season!

Of course you can't have a hot dog roast without s'mores!! We finished out the evening with s'mores and ice cream cones. It was a great way to welcome summer!

Meal Planning Monday Recipe Link-Up #12

We are having a very nice Memorial weekend, and I look forward to posting about our fun activities this week. It's Monday morning, and time for Meal Planning Monday Recipe Link-Up. Share your favorite recipe posts in our link up below, and check out some of the other recipes that have been shared.

This week, I will be making a family favorite casserole, Tater Tot Casserole, this yummy casserole is always enjoyed by my family.

I would also love to make one of my favorite spring pasta dishes- Asparagus and Bacon Linguine, but first I have to find a nice bunch of asparagus, the produce department hasn't had a great selection so far, I am hoping I will have better luck today, we love asparagus!

I will be experimenting with a homemade pizza today, and something will find it way into the soup pot this week as well. What are you planning for the week?

April's Homemaking


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Garden Journal - Late May Garden

The late May garden is always a joy to me, the garden is so alive. The backyard birds are always busy at the feeders, the flowers are all starting to bloom, and the veggie garden is well underway. Here's what's going on in my garden.

There are flowers around every corner in my garden right now. The lavender is just starting to bloom, the bachelor buttons have reseeded from last year and are as pretty as ever, below is a blue bachelor button. I planted a couple of blanket flowers in hopes to lure more butterflies, and they are just about to open up, I am excited to see how they look, they are pretty even now!

The moss garden is in bloom, the Scottish and Irish moss have pretty tiny white flowers, the thrift is pretty with it's tiny pink flowers, and I got the cutest little gnome for Mother's Day that is currently residing in the moss garden as well. :)

Here is another patch of Bachelor Buttons, this time pink, such a pretty flower. This year it decided to plant itself in one of my raised veggie garden beds, and will soon have pumpkins sharing its space.

The sage is covered in pretty purple flowers, and some of the chives have opened their pink flowers as well. The striped petunias are nice and vibrant!

The birds are really enjoying the new bird feeders, and are visiting all day long. I also got this pretty new hummingbird  feeder for Mother's Day, it is a old fashioned glass jar style and I am hoping the hummingbirds find it soon, right now the hummingbirds have been enjoying the sage flowers.

The coolest thing so far this year with all the backyard birds is the number of very cute fledgling that we've seen- both the starling and sparrows have been very dutifully feeding their fledgling offspring. It is so cute to watch the babies call out for food following their parents around. Below are two fledgling starlings and one of their parents working hard to keep the babies fed. Such fun to watch!

The veggie garden is doing good, I will be putting in the squash and beans here anytime now, the kale is doing great, the blueberry bushes are covered in berries, the garlic has just started producing garlic scapes, you can read my Cooking with Garlic Scapes Post Here, I am looking forward to harvesting some garlic scapes soon. The Elephant Garlic has sent up some rather large flower buds too, I am very eager to try out the elephant garlic as well.

So that is what is going on in my late May garden, what is happening in your neck of the woods? 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Hamburger Soup

The weather has been back and forth around here lately, beautiful blue skies with temperatures in the 80's and then dark cloudy spring storms with temperatures in the 60's. That is spring in the Pacific Northwest! During one of the stormy days I decided to make a soup I have been wanting to make for awhile- a hearty Hamburger Soup! Perfect for a stormy day. :)

Hamburger Soup

1 pound hamburger browned, and cooked through, and thoroughly drained
1 carton Beef broth (32 oz.)
2 medium onions chopped
1 bunch of celery chopped
1 can of corn
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 cup of tomato sauce
2 cups frozen crinkle cut carrots
1 clove of garlic minced (or pressed through garlic press)
salt and pepper
Italian herb blend
olive oil
1 lb soup pasta like you might use for Minestrone ( I used Barilla Ditalini which is like half of a macaroni noodle, you could also use elbow macaroni) - Cooked and drained

In a saute pan saute chopped onions and celery in a little olive oil until onions are starting to be translucent and celery begins to soften. Then in a large soup pan add cooked and drained hamburger, beef broth, sauteed onions and celery, both cans of diced tomatoes, 1 cup tomato sauce, frozen carrots, and a clove of garlic minced or pressed through garlic presser (you could add two cloves if you like a bit more garlic flavor), add salt and pepper to taste as well as a tablespoon of Italian Herb blend ( I use McCormick's Gourmet Italian Seasoning, if you don't have that you could add your own mix of basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary). Add a couple cups of water to the soup as well and simmer on medium to low for a couple of hours, check often and stir, add more water if needed. After two hours, add in drained can of corn, more salt pepper and another teaspoon or two of Italian seasoning to taste. Continue cooking for another 45 minutes or so on a low simmer, cook until veggies are cooked through and softened, and broth has a nice flavor. You can cook longer if you want to on low until you are ready for dinner. Cook and drain your soup pasta, I always serve my soup pasta on the side and we add it to the bowl before ladling soup over pasta, that we we can all choose how much pasta we want, and the pasta doesn't get soggy.

Serve with corn bread and a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan, the cornbread is delicious with this hearty soup, we like to put a slice right on top of the soup! This soup was perfect for our stormy spring weeknight!

Stop by and link up your recipe post to Meal Planning Monday Recipe Link-Up.

April's Homemaking

Meal Planning Monday Recipe Link-Up #11

Last week was a busy spring week filled with multiple fun activities that I will be posting on this week. Between the garden and end of school year programs I haven't had much blogging time, so I am hoping to spend more time on the blog this week.  Now its time for Meal Planning Monday Recipe Link-Up!

Share your favorite recipe posts, new ones or favorites from your archives. Check out some of our other posts as well as previous Meal Planning Monday's for wonderful meal planning inspiration! I will be sharing my Hamburger Soup recipe this afternoon. I would also like to share a recipe from my archives - delicious classic Pineapple Upside Down Cake, one of my favorites! 

April's Homemaking


Monday, May 12, 2014

Meal Planning Monday Recipe Link-Up #10

Time again for Meal Planning Monday Recipe Link-Up! I hope everyone had a nice Mother's Day weekend!

This week I am sharing my recipe for Sausage and Kale Hand Pies along with a nice refreshing Sparkling Limeade.

These savory pies where a wonderful meal for Mother's Day weekend, I love Kale and it went along very well with the sausage and onions.

What have you made this week? Share you recipe or meal planning posts at our Link-up. :)
April's Homemaking


    An InLinkz Link-up

Sausage and Kale Hand Pies and Sparkling Limeade

I hope everyone had a nice Mother's Day weekend. :) I had a very nice time hanging out with my family and extended family. Church was nice, we had a baby dedication and it was fun to see all the cute little babies with their parents.  On Saturday the whole family helped with chores so at the end of the day I wanted to make a fun meal. I made some delicious individual Sausage and Kale Hand Pies served with a salad and refreshing sparkling limeades. Here's how I made them.

Sausage and Kale Hand Pies

1 lb Sausage (I prefer Jimmy Dean Original Sausage)
1 medium onion diced
olive oil
2-3 medium sized cooked red potatoes (you could substitute other potato varieties)
1 large bunch of kale, cleaned, and torn into pieces removing all large stems and large veins
salt and pepper
1 double pie crust store bought or homemade

Start with a little olive oil in a large frying pan, and saute onions until they are translucent, then add the sausage and scramble until fully cooked, making sure to break it down into smaller chunks. When the sausage is nearly done add in your two to three red potatoes (fully cooked, peeled and diced) I used potatoes I had left over from another meal, I always boil extra to have on hand, you could substitute Russets or Yukon. Then add a little salt and pepper to taste. Stir around to incorporate the potatoes.

Next add the Kale to the skillet, stir it around and let the Kale steam down, I added half a cup of water at this point, to help steam down the Kale, you could put a lid on the skillet to help the Kale cook through, but be sure and stir often so the sausage doesn't burn. When the mixture is thoroughly cooked, and any extra water that you added to steam the Kale fully steamed away, remove from heat and set aside to cool down a bit.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Prepare your baking sheet with parchment paper, if you don't have any use pan spray, but I would highly suggest parchment paper, very handy stuff to have around. :)

Unroll pie crust, or in the case of a fresh made pie crust, roll out into two equal sized circles. Using a pizza wheel cut both pie crust into four quarters. When the filling has cooled down a bit (if it's too hot it will melt pie dough), lay down one of the pie quarters onto the parchment, have a cup of water nearby, and brush on a thin layer of water around the edges of the pie crust, you can just use your fingers, just enough water to help the crust seal. Scoop about a quarter of a cup of filling and put it in the center of the crust like shown below. Then lift and fold over, pressing the edges together to form a triangle.

Using a fork press down around the edges to completely seal the pie.

Prick the top with a fork a couple of time to create a vent. Complete all eight and arrange them on baking sheet.

Bake at 425 F. for about 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

These are delicious and savory, I served these with a simple green salad. You might also enjoy my Sausage, Mushroom and Potato pies .

Since it was Mother's Day weekend I wanted to make one of my favorite beverages for dinner, sparkling limeade. You will need lemon lime soda, some prepared limeade either the bottled variety ( I love Simply Limeade) or prepared from frozen condensed, and some maraschino cherries, sometimes I also have fresh slices of lime as well.

Fill glass about a third of the way with ice cubes.

Then pour in the limeade until glass is half full.

Then fill the rest of the way with lemon lime soda, and add a cherry and/or a slice of lime.

Add a straw and they are ready to serve. We love to have these all through the spring and summer, the lime is especially good with savory meals like our sausage pies or any Mexican dish.

So that was our yummy dinner, I loved the flavor of the kale with the sausage, along with the nice refreshing sparkling limeade.

Have a great week. Be sure and stop by Meal Planning Monday Recipe Link-Up for some great meal planning and recipe ideas and to share your recipe posts!

April's Homemaking

Monday, May 5, 2014

Early May Garden Update and Spring Ramblings

This past week the weather was beautiful, lots and lots of sunshine! Gary and I spent as much time as possible working on the garden. I love this time of year, and so enjoy getting back out into my garden!

The Azaleas are blooming! This variety of azalea is my favorite, and I look forward to its bloom every year, this year I found another one on sale at the garden center and decided to bring home a companion for my current azalea, it is quite tiny right now, but covered in blooms, I look forward to watching it grow. We pruned the hedges in the front garden, did a fair amount of weeding, and along with the new azalea we planted a nice bunch of petunias and snap dragons.

The bird feeders were in a sad state, and needed to be replaced, the goldfinches and sparrows that frequent the back garden are very happy with the new feeders! I had three feeders that needed replacing for our little backyard habitat , I went to one store in town and bought a very pretty one but the prices were high and I was only able to purchase one with the budget I had given myself, we had to replace a hose as well so we were in another store and I decided to check bird feeders and the prices were much better, I found all three of these cute lime green feeders for only $3 more than the one other one I had purchased, so I bought those three and returned the other one. My bird feeders were an early mother's day present, I always ask for new garden goodies for mothers day, we didn't want the birds to have to wait for new feeders so I got my gift a bit early. :)

My veggie garden got a good amount of much needed weeding done, I also amended the garden beds with steer manure to refresh them a bit before planting. I planted a bunch of different varieties of peppers, bell peppers in different colors, jalapenos, Anaheim chili, and one fun sounding pepper- a gypsy pepper, which I am excited to try!  The rest of the beds are all cleared out and ready to go when the weather gets a bit warmer, one bed has a row of self seeded bachelor buttons that will look nice blooming along the squash later in the season.

I refreshed the soil in some of my containers as well, the extra garlic I tucked in a few of the pots are doing good, the potato bags are growing nicely, I also planted some basil, extra chives because we all enjoy them on potatoes, and a dill plant.

One of the garlic beds is doing really well, the elephant garlic is huge, I am really looking forward to tasting it! The leeks that I planted last year are getting closer and closer to the right size, my they take a while to grow! I am looking forward to harvesting them when they are ready! My other garlic bed did not fair as well, I'm not sure why since the same size bed with the same soil right next to it did fine, but that's okay, a few are still growing, and in the empty spots I planted two varieties of kale and a few kohlrabi plants, hopefully the garlic will help keep the cabbage moths away!

Our little pine tree has the most beautiful color of green new growth on the tips of its branches, the blueberry bushes are covered in blossoms and little berries, and Sarah and I planted a couple of stone planters with some pretty flowers! The garden is looking pretty, we still have a fair amount of weeding to do in some of the garden beds as well as a bit more pruning. Sadly my beautiful rose bush, which was already in full bloom last year at this time is not doing so well, I pruned it way back in hopes it will send out some new vines but in the case that it doesn't I planted a pink peace rose next to it, because I really look forward to roses in the garden, in the meantime I will have to stop by the Portland rose garden to see some pretty rose blooms! I am looking forward to another summer of gardening!

I also thought I would share a few of my new favorite things this spring. I am loving the cola in glass bottles that my grocery store has started carrying more of, they bring back such fun memories of my youth. I have one vivid "pop" memory- I was in middle school and was babysitting for a neighbor, she knew I loved bottles of pop so she always made sure she had some in the fridge for me as part of my babysitting perks :) I had just tucked in the children and was settling in for an evening of watching music videos, 'casue that is what tweens did back in the 80's :) I cracked open my Pepsi and then Bruce Springsteen's Dancing in the Dark video came on- it was one of my favorites and I danced and drank my pop- probably one of the most refreshing drinks of pop ever- isn't it funny how certain memories just stick in your head? Anyway, I can't help but think of that when I crack open a glass bottle of pop, cola always tastes better in glass! :)  

Onto some of my other fun spring favorites- my new Chevron phone case, now my phone doesn't have to float around my giant purse, I just love it! I don't know what it is about the chevron pattern but it is cute. :) I also added a new Elsa Beskow book to my collection- The Flowers' Festival - the illustrations are wonderful, which is why I love Elsa Beskow books, her illustrating is beautiful. I thought this book would be great for gardening season- it is about a Midsummer party, a little girl is not allowed to attend the grown up party, but is instructed by her grandma to celebrate with the flowers- then of course the flowers come alive and tell all sorts of interesting stories- most of the story is cute, but there are some odd parts that a modern parent would probably want to edit out when telling the story to a child like a naughty weed child being drug off for a "thrashing" by old Mrs. Nettle-Yikes! The book was written originally in 1914 so there are some odd bits like that, but otherwise the story and illustrations are well worth it, I love vintage children's literature!

We also celebrated Star Wars Day yesterday- "May the 4th" be with you! I found the kids matching Star Wars shirts which they enjoyed, they had a great time celebrating with their youth group and had a Star Wars marathon at their youth leader's house. We have awesome youth group leaders, and I am so happy my kids get to hang out with such a great group of people!

So that's my spring garden update and ramblings, how is your spring going? What have you got going on in the garden?

Also be sure and stop by Meal Planning Monday Recipe Link-Up and share your recipe posts! :)

April's Homemaking