Bread Machine Tip

If you don’t have a bread machine, this post may not apply to you. Although I highly suggest picking up a bread machine if you don’t already have one. You really don’t know how much you use it until you have one. Ours is used on a VERY regular basis, and we’ve had it for quite a few years. Homemade bread makes a WONDERFUL snack for kids!

For those of you that do have a bread machine, I’d like to share a tip with you. This tip has come from much trial and error (and several breads that didn’t come out unfortunately). That tip is….melt the butter.

If your bread recipe includes butter, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds BEFORE you put it in the machine. If the butter isn’t melted, often times the dough clumps and doesn’t mix the way it should. It’s also not a bad idea to have warm (not hot) water instead of cold.

Sure this might not be a major tip, but I sure wish someone would have given it to me long before I figured it out on my own!

Leftover Roast Recipe

Over the weekend I actually pulled out the crockpot and made a roast. Which is unusual for me, since I normally make them in the oven. However, this time I decided to use the crockpot on low setting and cook it over night. The result was a very juicy, easy to pull apart meat. We ate it for supper on Sunday, but of course had tons of leftovers.

Last night instead of just serving the leftovers, I decided to do something a bit different. Back when my mother owned the restaurant in town, hot beef sandwiches were one of the most popular specials. I loved them too, and there is nothing like a home cooked hot beef sandwich. I decided I’d give my own version a shot.

We didn’t have any gravy, but we did have homemade bread and mashed potatoes. I did cook a few potatoes with the roast, so the few that were left got thrown in with the fresh potatoes.

Let me tell you it was DELICIOUS! Especially since the bread was homemade and very fluffy. There was even enough bread leftover for regular sandwiches for lunch today. This will go down as one of our favorite recipes without a doubt. 😉

Valentines Gift Basket Ideas

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and you may be trying to come up with ideas for gift baskets. What’s great about gift baskets is the ability to put just about anything you want in.

If you need some ideas, you can find a few general items as well as some specific ideas on our Valentine’s Day Gift Basket Ideas page. Here’s just one specific idea from the page above:

Valentine’s Day Gift Basket
Put into large decorated cardboard heart box:
pink sugar cookies you’ve made yourself
their favorite sappy movie
wine or de-alcohol wine
scented candles
heart candies or chocolates
a coupon for a free back rub you will be giving
a romantic music CD
bubble bath
To make it extra special, you can even make your own bubble bath or other bath & body products.

Have fun!

Buying Electronics – Offline or Online?

Usually when someone asks me if I’d rather shop online or offline, I’m pretty quick to say “online”. I can look around at several stores at the same time, price compare, and find EXACTLY what I want in a whole lot less time than I can offline.  Shipping is usually not an issue to me, since most of the time you can find the best price online saving you more than it cost to ship. Plus of course with gas prices as horrible as they are, you save that cost yourself too.

This time though, I find myself rushing down to my most hated of all stores – Walmart.  Yes before I even think about buying online, I’m looking there first. Why you ask? Well, we have no TV. My kids ignored our one and only rule in the house of keeping water on the table and away from the electronics. Ironically enough, one got in trouble just a few weeks ago for this same thing when a knocked over water glass almost fried our brand new GameCube. Luckily it was safe, but the TV the other night was not so lucky.

I really shouldn’t be so anxious to get a new TV. If I waited, I could save so much money. But I’m ashamed to say we are a TV family that enjoys watching certain shows in the evening together. Last night was not such a problem because it was such a busy day and we didn’t get home until bedtime, but tonight might be a different story. Plus of course we use the GameCube as reward for my oldest, which he can’t play without a TV of course.

Now the really bad thing here is everything is switching to HDTV, making the prices of TVs three times as much as they use to be. Honestly I could care less. I spent some time chatting with the local electronic store owner, and was told since I’m on DISH it won’t matter much. Alright, so give me an “old fashion” TV because I don’t care. Unfortunately that’s easier said that done, since no one seems to sell the “regular” TVs anymore. *SIGH*.

So even though the weather is looking like it’s going to turn ugly today, I have to run to the next town and hopefully find a TV that’s not going to max out my credit card. At this point I’m really wishing we had another somewhere so I could take my time and order online. But alas, this isn’t the case.

Wish me luck – I’m going to need it!

Two New Recipe Suggestions

These two recipes were submitted over the weekend. They both sound like really great ideas, and I can’t wait to try them!

Chicken Strips
by  Annonymous Visitor
First take boneless skinless chicken breasts into strips. Then take about 6 eggs and put some ranch dressing in with the eggs. It thinkens the batter and makes it more crispier.  Then take a zip lock bag and i put flour in it and seasoning salt and garlic salt. Have your pan on medium heat and with oil to cook. 

I absolutely LOVE the idea of putting ranch dressing in instead of milk, and plan to try that out. The rest of this idea is usually the same way I make chicken strips at home, except we use a deep fryer instead of pan. Although we have been getting away from the deep fryer a bit and seeking less greasy options.
Leftover Meat Recipe
by Alysha Romine

Take one of those Lipton flavored noodle or rice boxes. They are always on sale for $1.00. Cook it just like the directions say but add in a cut up piece of chicken, beef, or pork from the night before. Also add in any two veges you like that go with the flavor (canned come out fine) You can stir in sour cream when the meal is done to make it creamy. This is a one dish 15 minute wonder to feed the family! Examples: Lipton Butter and Herb Pasta add leftover chicken (or canned chicken) and a can of green peas (drained) and a can of carrots (drained) then stir in sour cream (1/4 cup) when it is done. Another example is Lipton Strogonoff Flavored Noodles, add in leftover beef (diced) and mushrooms and cooked onions. Again sour cream would not be amiss in this recipe. The options are endless and it is a cheap and easy meal for a harried mother or wife.

This particular leftover recipe we do quite often, but almost always with rice instead of pasta. I guess we are such pasta as a main dish fans we never thought to use it as an ingredient in a leftover dish! Great idea!

Remember if you have ideas to add anywhere on the site, you are encouraged to do so. We are ALWAYS interested in new ideas and different ways to do things. Feel free to submit your ideas!

Connecting with Your Kids

If you only have one kid, ignore this post. It doesn’t apply to you, because every day you get a chance to focus on your one and only. For those of us who have more than one kid, this can be quite a challenge.

Right now I am lucky enough to have two kids in different grade levels with different school hours. It’s not an every day thing, but usually twice a month I get each of them individually for a short time. My daughter goes to preschool from noon to three every day, where my son is in 1st grade and goes every day all day. Except for some Wednesdays where they let out 2 hours early, when the preschool goes normal hours.

I’m very grateful for these days, and go out of my way to plan special things to do alone with him. He’s the hardest to plan “alone time” with, since his sister goes where he goes most of the time. I get to spend every day alone with his sister, but he seems to always be gone.

Add the fact he’s a boy and you’ve really got problems. Boys tend to be harder to connect with the older you get. Sure dad has no problem, but mom is a different story. Seems like the older they get, the more they see us as the enemy. Unless of course we take action now to spend as much private time as possible with them.

Take offers from family and friends to keep an eye on your kids so you can spend time with just one at a time. Do things they enjoy like take them out for ice cream, to a movie, or even just to their favorite restaurant. Make them feel special as individuals by giving them your undivided attention even for just an hour, giving them a memory of “just me and mom” that didn’t include all the siblings.

We don’t live in a perfect world so it might not always be easy, but you can do it. Even if it’s just 15 minutes while the rest are asleep or taking a bath, it can mean the world to a child that has to share your attention and love on a regular basis. 😉

Coloring the Old Fashion Way

Video games, expensive crafts, wild recipes that make huge messes….do our kids really need all that much to keep them occupied?

Last night the kids and I did one of the most basic activities you can do – we colored. That’s it. No fancy markers that change color or blend, or special paper or paints. Nope, just coloring book pages and crayons (alright and a few basic markers – but they didn’t do any special “tricks”). Honestly, I haven’t sat down and actually just colored for no reason since I was a kid. Wouldn’t you know it was actually FUN!

It made me think though, how little it really does take to entertain kids. Even my 7yr old boy shut off his GameCube and colored with us. Pretty amazing, huh?

Homemade Potato Chips

This recipe comes from our potato recipe collection. Worth trying if you are wanting to make your own potato chips!

Homemade Potato Chips
6 or more medium lg. potatoes
Oil or fat for deep frying
Salt

Wash and peel the potatoes. Slice very thin. An old fashioned cabbage slicer can be used (careful of the fingers) – or use a sharp knife or food processor with a thin slicing blade. Put the slices at once into a bowl of cold water and let stand for at least one hour. Ice water is best, but you can set the whole bowl in the refrigerator if you wish.

Dry well by shaking them in a towel. Fry in hot oil at 390 degrees F. until a light golden brown. Don’t try frying too many at once, better to put one layer on the frying basket. Drain on paper towels or any kind of plain crumpled absorbent paper. If you haven’t any paper, use a worn dish towel. Salt lightly. These can be kept for some time if they are sealed into plastic bags or containers after they have cooled.

See more potato recipes at Idea Queen.

My Current Favorite Game

Does it seem odd I post about my favorite time waster right after a post about trying to get my house organized? Honestly though, this game doesn’t hold me back as much as you’d think it would. It’s more of a “quick break” than anything else (and trust me, I’d be taking these breaks regardless).

The best part of Plant Tycoon is the fact you have no choice but to walk away from the game for periods of time. The object of the game is to grow various plants and find new ones from cross breeding them. Thing is, it takes over 40 mins for plants to grow. That’s over 40 mins I take to get up and DO something while I wait. It’s only on my breaks that I tend to them and actually play.

The playing time is shorter than the growing time, so really this is a perfect game to have up while you are cleaning house or doing other things. Reason being you would get extremely bored just sitting there watching them grow. Now they do have random bugs to catch, although that gets boring too. In between tending to the plants, I let the kids watch and catch the bugs. My 5 year old thinks it’s pretty cool, and she’s pretty good at it too!

So if you are looking for a fun game to play, check this one out. With built in breaks away from the game, you’ll actually get something useful done while playing it!

Week Two of House Cleaning

Here we are with another week gone by. Last week I focused on the laundry room in hopes I’d get a little more organization in there. Unfortunately, I’ve fallen short.

What I did not realize in that room was how much laundry there really was to be done (I dread seeing my water bill next month, it’s not going to be pretty). I also didn’t realize what a mess of laundry I had waiting to be put away. It didn’t matter how much I put away, it all kept coming back! Which is the case with laundry I know, but trying to “catch up” made my head spin.

I’m not discouraged nor do I see this as a failure. Laundry is a time consuming task. But what I did get done is pretty amazing. See I have a tall hamper and regular sized laundry basket in there for dirty clothes. Before I started, the hamper was overflowing and the basket you couldn’t see at all. Now the basket is almost half full and the hamper is empty. Yes, I got that far.

While the clean laundry is still piled up, it’s not any worse than it was when we started. In fact, that looks slightly better. Not anywhere close to done though, although it’s good to know we can get something to wear out of the closets instead of laundry room.

So now I need to make a choice. Do I tackle the laundry room another week, or move on to something else? Now that the dirty laundry is completely caught up, it should be a whole lot easier to stay on top of it. Plus of course laundry has become more of a daily task. Although there really is a LOT of work still to be done in there.

Despite the fact it’s not finished, I am voting to move on to a different room. It really has been bothering me a bit, because our laundry room is not a “public” room if you know what I mean. Company rarely sees it, and I can easily shut a door to keep it that way (it’s actually our back porch right off the kitchen, and no one uses the back door in the winter).

So because I’m bothered by the first impression of the house, I’m moving on to the front room/dining room/living room. It’s the largest room in the house, and what you walk into coming in the front door. It’s also where I sit at the computer, where we watch TV, and where we eat. Granted it gets cleaned often because of the amount of time spent in this room by the whole family, it’s seriously cluttered. My desk is piled with papers and other junk from top to bottom, the shelf above the TV has stuff that shouldn’t be out sitting on it, the table/sewing machine by the door has junk on top of it, and other areas of the room need to be de-cluttered.

Will I be coming back to the laundry room? Absolutely! I’ve just decided it’s time to move my focus on the main room for the time being, THEN go back to the laundry room.  This room shouldn’t take me nearly as long, and I might even be able to get back to the laundry room before the end of the week. 😉