09 December 2016

Sugarfree Cranberry Juice

Yum
My daughter and I are a big fan of the Christmas cocktail called Poinsettia.  It is a simple cocktail of vodka, champagne, cranberry juice and some orange zest.  We made it for the first time a few years ago and it has been a semi tradition ever since.



I had a bag of leftover cranberries and rather than waste them, I made them into juice for our cocktails.  It was super simple and I know our cocktails will taste wonderful due to the fresh taste of our juice!

1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries
4 c water



Pour water into a large kettle.  Add cranberries.  Bring to a boil.  When cranberries begin to pop, continue to cook on the stovetop for 10 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes, then pour into a food processor or blender.  Blend until smooth.  Strain juice into a jar.  Store in the refrigerator.



The juice is very tart, since it is sugar free.  You will want to add 2 teaspoons of sugar per cup of juice when you are ready to use the juice.  I plan to use Stevia in mine.



For the cocktail:

1/4 c vodka
1/4 c Champagne
1/2 c cranberry juice
1 t sugar or 2 pkg Stevia
crushed ice
1 2" section of orange peel

You can do this two ways:  fill shaker with crushed ice, add ingredients, shake until cold, pour/strain into a red wine glass, top with orange peel.  Two:  add ingredients to red wine glass, add ice, stir until cold, top with orange peel.  It boils down to whether you want ice in your drink or not.

Delicious drink, not overly sweet, and very refreshing!

08 December 2016

Show Me Your Christmas Tree~St. Charles

Yum
This post is part of a series from the Missouri Women Bloggers called "Show Me Your Christmas Tree."  It is my privilege to host such wonderful bloggers from all around the state.  Enjoy your tour and Merry Christmas to all!


We come from all parts of the "Show Me State" and I am so excited to get to work with women as talented as these.  Be sure to check out their beautiful trees through the links below.

Each blog will be showing you their tree, some ornaments, and a decorating hint that might help you with your decorating.  The hint will be in italics and easy for you to find!

My hint:  Set the mood.  Even when you love it as much as I do, the tree decorating is hard work.  Find some good music, have a snack and your favorite beverage nearby.  Take a moment to dance to your favorite tune when it pops up and rest as needed.  

Nostalgia sets in as my husband and I set up our tree this year.  I miss having a little one underfoot while we try to set up the tree.  Tree decorating used to take hours, now it is just the better part of an hour to get the tree decorated from the top to the bottom.

In the past I have decorated as many as thirteen (13) trees in our home.  This year I made a special effort to concentrate the number of trees to four.  Our living tree has nearly 300 ornaments on it, but it is full of love and the memories I have made with special people in my life.  The other trees are a breast cancer tree, my daughters beach tree, and a Mizzou (Missouri) tree.  I have two ceramic trees in my house, one made by my mother in the 1970s and the other purchased at a farmer's market this summer.


I would love to share with you our Living Room Christmas tree.  I love this tree for a variety of reasons.  This is the tree that sums up our 41 years of courtship and marriage.  It tells of friends of present and past, vacations, handmade ornaments by friends and family, anniversary ornaments, ornaments that share memories with my PEO sisters, DAR daughters, my Bunco friends and a special group of ladies I met years ago, all online, through the Gooseberry Patch forums.  I love those ladies like sisters.  For years we have made ornaments for each other and I have them all!  I have ornaments that span the time I taught and all the buildings my husband and I were in as administrators.  This tree represents most of the good times we have shared together over the years.

Although this is just a small representation of the ornaments we have, it does show our span.  Take a look at these special ones on our tree.


1.  My 2016 ornament.  It looks like a marquee sign when it is lit.  So fun!
2.  This actually shows two ornaments, one from my fiesty friend Ashley and one I made my group who share ornaments every year.
3.  An ornament I made in 1977 from a kit I purchased.  I love this little Santa.  You can also see an ornament given to me from my husband when I joined P.E.O.
4.  Our Tenth Anniversary ornament purchased by my husband. You can't see it well, but there is an ornament made by one of the GLU girls.  It is a figgy pudding!
5.  One of the first ornaments we purchased together.
6.  We last went to Disney World in 2000.  We are going again in a week!
7.  This reindeer was made by my grandpa in the 80s.  I adore it.

If you love Christmas trees as much as I do, please go and check all of these wonderful trees our by our Missouri Women Bloggers!  Have a favorite?  Share with me in the comments.  Merry Christmas!

05 December 2016

Fireball Bites #TasteCreations

Yum
For our December food, we selected sugar since we all love our holiday sweets!  Our bloggers have some tasty treats for you using real sugar.  We know that sugar isn't as healthy as other options, so be sure you are consuming it in moderation.  Sugar is my weakness.  I always have room for a sweet!


I was inspired by Cathy at My Side of 50 for this recipe.  She tells a darling story about her grandmother on this post.  Go and check it out.

My grandmother story is slightly different.  My great grandmother, Lula Belle Wilson, liked booze and often added it to recipes, most often her delicious eggnog.  When my momma was a little girl, Lula often told her to stay out of the eggnog.  My mom decided then that HER eggnog would never have booze in it so that everyone could enjoy it.  And as far as I know, it never has had any, except what we might pour in our individual glasses!

For my recipe, I used my bourbon ball recipe and exchanged the bourbon for Fireball.  It's a simple switch out.  If you aren't into including alcohol, I can't help you with an exchange, because I haven't tried anything else!

Fireball Bites

by Our Good Life
Ingredients
  • 1 (12-oz.) package vanilla wafers, finely crushed
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup Fireball whiskey
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • Powdered sugar
Instructions
Stir together first 4 ingredients in a large bowl until well blended.
2. Stir together Fireball and corn syrup until well blended. Stir together Fireball mixture and wafer mixture. Dough should be stiff and hold its shape.  Shape into 1-inch balls; roll in powdered sugar. Let set for 10 minutes and recover with powdered sugar. Cover and chill up to 2 weeks.
Powered by Recipage

Visit these other lovely blogs for their yummy recipes.  I am sure you will find the perfect dessert for your holiday gathering!

Mom Home Guide  Festive Strawberry Pie


An Italian in my Kitchen  Simple Chocolate Sugar Cookies



and Tikkido  Browned Butter Sugar Cookies




02 December 2016

A Sentence A Day~ November

Yum
When I learned about writing a sentence a day for journaling, I knew it was something I wanted to do.  I was right, because here I am today, still doing it! This is my seventh month and I don't think I will be slowing down anytime soon. It's just one sentence a day, although, trying to summarize the day's events and emotions into one sentence is challenging.



For past editions of the A Sentence A Day journaling, check out these links: MayJuneJuly,  AugustSeptember and October.

November 1.  The day after a wonderful Halloween, yet I felt driven to take down all the Halloween decorations inside and out and get my Thanksgiving items up, front and center.

November 2.  Working with teachers who are in it for the students, makes me feel like I am in it for them and that makes us all want to work harder!

November 3.  Going to see Shakespeare with my English major husband, makes me appreciate his knowledge about the subject, especially when it is McBeth.

November 4. Unusual date night for us started with dinner at a new restaurant with great cocktails, then headed over to the Lindenwood University women's volleyball game.

November 5. One of the best days I have had in my life, as an idea I had came to fruition and benefited many people in my community in a very positive way!

November 6.  A day of rest after a big day is a gift that I should have been giving myself LONG before this.

November 7. Rainy days and Mondays...don't always get me down but today was a rather lazy day.

November 8.  I voted today, and while the crowds were historical, I felt an unease about the event, like things were going to change, and maybe not for the better.

November 9.  The day after the election, and now I realize that I am living in an America I do not know. A man was elected President with a campaign filled with race bashing, immigrant hating, and gay bashing rhetoric that makes me frightened for family and friends.  I'll be praying more now than ever.

November 10.  I love birthdays, and they are even more special when you get to celebrate a milestone with a very special friend.

November 11.  I am in the thralls of making ornaments and am having a blast being creative around my favorite holiday, Christmas!

November 12.  Our date night was to see Anthony Bordain at the Fox and wow, he is a dynamic speaker!

November 13.  Lazy, easy, peaceful, restful day.

November 14.  When I am designing lessons for my college students, I have a high that is not unlike a runner's high.

November 15.  A perfectly poached egg will make my day!

November 16.  My momma is in the hospital and I am all messed up inside with worry.

November 17.  The day of my birth is celebrated by my mom being dismissed from the hospital with good reports and a lovely dinner in a romantic spot with my husband.

November 18. I enjoy reading a book while sitting outside, looking up now and again to see the ducks on the lake and the play of the wind across the water.

November 19.  Dinner with friends who understand how to be kind to waitstaff is such a blessing, especially when your server is brand new to the field.

November 20.  I love the symphony, sitting back and letting the music roll over my brain, seeping in the cracks and kissing my neurons.

November 21.  I had the best belly laugh today when the 80 year old woman who was driving me decided to go down the center lane because "this looks like fun!"

November 22.  Ashley and Eric are home and the house feels alive!

November 23.  Our Thanksgiving dinner as a family is special and sweet.

November 24.  I live for this Thanksgiving of traditional foods that mean comfort, family, and love, even if they are not gourmet and fancy.

November 25.  I love it when my husband joins in with enthusiasm for decorating for Christmas along with me.

November 26.  Ashley and Eric are back after visiting his folks in Jefferson City, so we shopped and hung around Frontenac Mall for awhile before going home and just enjoying each other's company!

November 27.  I had a Christmas Cookie Exchange and with my husband's help, even though he was up late with a band gig, was a huge success!

November 28.  This was such a lovely day, then I remembered I had a presentation to do for a school that was four hours away for the next day and that changed the whole dynamic of my day since traveling four hours and logistics were having to be made.

November 29.  Major snafu on my part caused the workshop I was giving to be cancelled and I really feel bad about how I let that district down.

November 30.  Still feeling bad about my snafu this week but my Classroom Management class was so eager to learn tonight that I felt myself relaxing and enjoying their conversation.

So while November ended on a weak note, I surely loved my birthday month.  Consider doing your own A Sentence A Day journal.  It is super easy and yet challenging to summarize your day into one sentence.  Let me know if you decide to do it in the comments.  What a wonderful New Year's thing to do!


30 November 2016

Project Beautiful's #PBColorOurWorld Brown

Yum
Say hello to Project Beautiful, a group of bloggers who are fascinated by the world around them, including things such as gardening, nature, books, cooking, children, and more! This is our monthly blog round up of posts centered around a specific color.  Last month, we featured the color orange and now this month, brown!


Let's talk about brown a bit.  Brown is a composite color, meaning it is a combination of colors to make it.  There are many ways to make brown.  You can combine all the colors together, or you can use red and green in specific proportions to make brown.  Brown is the least liked color, according to some, but I love its richness and velvety smoothness.  In languages other than English, brown sounds a lot like our word for coffee.

Blooming Secrets featured these lovely brown tinted flowers.  I am in love with these irises.  Gorgeous.


Landscape Design by Lee has a lovely photo essay on beautiful browns in the garden.


Day to Day Adventures made these easy Low Carb Chimichangas with her son.  Adorable!


Sensible Gardening wrote a wonderful piece about using chocolate brown plants in the garden.  Lovely photographs!


The Freshman Cook has a wonderful recipe for her Acorn Cookies that has the prettiest shade of brown icing ever!


GardenChick has fantastic advice for all of us who are finished with our gardens for the year.  Look for how to turn a brown garden green!


Tikkido has a new Gingerbread for Beginners that is just adorable.  I bought my copy and you should get one, too.  Such a great guide for making gingerbread!


You might remember my brown posts on Homemade Cough Drops.  It was quite the hit!  


Our world is a beautiful place and our colors make it a wondrous place to behold.  Treat it with kindness, after all, it is home to all of us.



21 November 2016

Teamwork and Thanksgiving: Our Best Tips

Yum
My mother has been organizing Thanksgiving dinners since 1958.  We were talking during her recent hospitalization about her memories of Thanksgivings through the years and I got to hear many stories which lead to these best hints for a holiday filled with Teamwork and Thanksgiving.


My mom's earliest memories are with her mom's family.  Her cousins and her aunts and uncles took turns hosting the event and would come together at one of the homes. They spent the whole day with these families and playing with the cousins.  The women all brought dishes to help the hostess.  The kids sat away from the grown ups and in this family, no wine or alcohol was involved.  The best teamwork tip from this era was let people bring a dish!

My grandmother started hosting her own Thanksgiving when her brothers and sisters bowed out of hosting the event.  My great grandparents and my aunts and uncles and my cousins met at the house. My grandmother cooked the turkey, rolls and pies and the side dishes were brought in by her sons and daughters.  We all worked together and helped Grandma in the kitchen.  The best teamwork tip from this time is to make sure that everyone has a job to help with!  Have a sign up list or an assignment chart ready to go when people arrive.

When my grandparents died, my mom invited the whole family to our house, my aunts and uncles and their kids.  Mom cooked the turkey, someone brought rolls, and the rest brought side dishes.  One of my aunts didn't like going to different houses, so she stopped coming with her family.  Then mom started inviting people from my dad's family.  That was a great experience.  Each year we'd get our grandparents and bring them to our house.  We never knew who would be coming!  This went on for about forty years!  The best teamwork hint from this era is to let people extend invitations to others but expect an Rsvp.  We make it clear that you need to give a call and tell someone you are coming!

My mom moved to a senior housing facility last year.  Now we have our Thanksgiving in the party room of the complex.  Last year was our first year and we invited all our cousins and their families. We had it on a Saturday and the crowd was huge.  This year we are back to having in on Thanksgiving and our crowd will be smaller.  Mom makes the turkey, my sister makes rolls, I make a pie and a side dish, and then we ask the rest of our guests to bring paper goods, desserts, side dishes, games for the kids, electrical cords, decorations and whatever else we might need.  We coordinate all of this through a Facebook event page.  Our best teamwork hint is to take advantage of Facebook's event pages, which allows you to invite via email, so you can invite those without a Facebook page, too!

While our traditions may have changed over the years, there is one tradition that stays:  our gathering is full of family and friends whom are loved and cherished.  We come together to say thank you for the blessings we have received this year.  This year we will be using this printable to ask everyone to complete a page of their blessings as a family.  We will gather those and create a book that can grow year after year.  You, too can download this printable for your family as well here.


Happy Thanksgiving to all!

18 November 2016

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Yum
As much as I like my easy cooking, there are times when some things are just worth going the extra mile for.  One of these extra mile things is pumpkin puree.  You've done it, opened a can of pumpkin and seen that orange mass and scooped it out of the can for your pie.  This is what I know of pumpkin.  Pie filling and the puree that comes from a can.


 Until I met Evelyne from Nemscok Farms.  Evelyne told me the joys of roasting your own pumpkin and making your own puree.  Evelyne is no stranger to this blog.  She's my friend who sells the delicious chamomile tea that I love and recently published an eBook on knitting.  Her Nemscok Farm blog talks about all kinds of things related to homestyle living and her knitting blog, Knit's End, shared all kinds of delightful patterns and tricks about knitting.  All worth checking out!




To make your own pumpkin puree, it is really quite simple and not really a recipe as much as it is steps.

1. Preheat your oven to 350.
2. Destem your pumpkin.
3. Clean any dirt off your pumpkin.
4. Cut your pumpkin in quarters.
5. Grease a bar pan with about 2 T vegetable oil.
6. Place pumpkin quarters cut side down.
7. Roast for 15 minutes.  Check for doneness.  Pumpkin shell will be soft and will indent with slight pressure.
8. Continue to roast until you get the correct doneness.
9.  Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes.
10.  Using an ice scream scoop, scoop away seeds and strings, then scoop pulp into a separate bowl.
11. Pour pulp into a food processor.  Process until smooth.
12. Measure 1 cup into ziplock baggies and freeze.
13. Remove from freezer 1 hour before using.

That's it.  The processed pumpkin looks smooth as silk.  It will be lighter in color and not as thick.

To use, replace equal measures of canned pumpkin puree with homemade pumpkin puree.  Your pies will be lighter in color, as the puree is lighter.  So easy, and when you tell your family the pie is made from scratch, you will really mean it!


17 November 2016

10 Reflections on my 58th Birthday

Yum
It's my 58th birthday today, and I am thinking about my life and all the lessons I have learned that have helped me grow into the person I am today.




1.  There is no such thing as fair.

Everyone gets handed things in life that aren't fair.  My brother passed away when he was three.  I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian disease in 1982, lupus in 1996, and breast cancer in 2009. This isn't a pity party.  Each of us our dealt our own hand.  It is what we do with the cards that matters.

2.  Worrying solves nothing.

Worrying is such a time waster.  There are so many things you can do in the same amount of time as worrying, and in the end, you will have a painting, a knitted blanket, or a blog post.  Worrying never solved a problem, made your bank account flush, or brought your spouse home any earlier.

3.  Cats are a little bit of heaven.

Yes, I have two dogs that I love dearly.  But when it comes to out-and-out love, my cats have always been the ones to show it the best.  Heidi, Bustopher and Tugger, I miss you.

4.  Being nice costs nothing.

I don't have to go anywhere, or buy anything to be nice.  I can wave, smile, pen a note, send an email, or make a call.  I can choose the words I say.  I can choose to say nothing. When I chose to be mean, I feel small all day long.  I'd much rather do something kind, say something kind and feel good about it.

5.  Never burn any bridges.

You never know when you might need someone's help.  As a classroom teacher I have had former students take care of me at a hospital, wait on me at a restaurant, drive me to the airport and hire me for a job.  It is important to me that people know that I value their contributions to my life and I try to tell them as much as I can.

6.  Diets suck.

Ok, so this is a new learning for me, even though I have been on diets for 40 years and have lost probably 300 pounds, I always gain it back.  I am figuring it out, although so slowly that it may not ever come to pass.  A healthy lifestyle is where its at.  I am going to have to fake it until I make it or I might not ever make it.

7.  It is what it is.

I had a big disappointment centered around my family this year. My family has never disappointed me before and I did NOT know how to handle something like this.  I moped.  I cried.  I cursed.  Did the situation change? Not one little bit.  I cannot change people, how they feel, what they believe is important or how they behave.  What is important that I love them for who they are, not for who I thought they were or wanted them to be.

8.  Good friends are where it's at.

I have good friends.  I have been so lucky in this regard.  I am not always a great friend, letting long periods of time go inbetween calls or texts. But my friends hang on, knowing how I am and loving me all the same.  I had a scary episode last year with a cancer diagnosis of one of my friends.  It was during this time that I discovered how much I loved her.  Now we tell each other often.  And we meet as much as we can, even though there is now 100 miles between us.

9.  Good neighbors are a must in life.

Our life is too short to have bad neighbors.  My husband and I found our current neighborhood four years ago and sometimes feel overwhelmed at how blessed we were.  We found a neighborhood of people who think like us (mostly), love their homes, party together, feed each other, and look out for one another.  It is such a beautiful thing. I had this growing up but didn't value it like I do now.

10.  Finding joy in everyday living makes living joyful.

I constantly have to find joy where I can.  My blog is an outlet of joy for me.  When I share recipes, or experiences or family events, or Christmas, that is me finding my joy.  I know that I can experience physical pain when I am unhappy or sad. I try to avoid such feelings as much as possible. I've learned that I have to do it for myself.  I can't ask or rely on others to provide my joy, because it is always disappointing.  I'm still learning this one.  It's hard, isn't it?

And a bonus one:  You don't always have to be right.  I think that says it all.

So as I approach my 59th year of life, my 40th high school reunion, my 40th wedding anniversary and my 8th year of being cancer-free, I want to take these lessons I have learned and get a better grade.  I am challenging myself to refine these lessons even more.  I'm looking forward to what changes might be in store.



Happy 58th birthday, Terri.  

16 November 2016

Wine and Tea Poached Eggs #TastyParTEA

Yum
A baker's dozen bloggers have come together to share different recipes that use tea during the month of November. Whether you're a fan of sweet or savory #TastyParTEA's creations will make your mouth water.

This is a creation I read about years ago in a magazine I subscribed to that was all about Tea. I loved that magazine but I believe it went out of print a few years back.  The recipe was for Wine and Tea Poached Eggs.  Doesn't that sound different???

So, while I am making the eggs, I thought I would share with you my morning ritual of having a cup of this ImmuniTea with breakfast every day.  I am a breast cancer survivor and I am always looking for ways to boost my immune system and doing it naturally.  This tea is a perfect way for me to boost my immune system and start my day off right.

mug is from Charles Viancin #TastyParTEA

To make the wine and tea poached eggs, I just wanted to tell you that if you already know how to poach an egg, all that is different here is the liquid.  I am going to proceed as if you do not know how to poach an egg.  To get a quick overview, watch this short video!

video


Wine and Tea Poached Eggs

4 eggs
1 c brewed ImmuniTEA
2 c red wine (you can use white, which takes away the color)
1 T soy sauce
salt
pepper

Pour liquids in a pot and bring to a boil.  Turn to simmer.  Add 1 egg and poach for 3-5 minutes, depending on desired doneness of egg.  Remove from liquid and drain on paper towel.  Poach each egg in turn. Serve with buttered toast, or as a part of Eggs Benedict.

The eggs whites have a distinct color to them that is a delightfully rich and decadent wine flavor.  The soy deepens the richness and the tea adds a spark of sweetness to the overall dish.  It is unexpected and very pleasant.


See all the posts on our Facebook page, check out the pins on our Pinterest board, or follow the conversation on social media with hashtag #TastyParTEA.

We Are the #TastyParTEA Bloggers...
listed alphabetically by blog name



Our Blog Tour Schedule...

The Giveaway...
Our generous sponsors have contributed prizes for this event.
The giveaway will begin on November 12th and end on November 21st

and is open to US residents only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway



Our Sponsors*...
and how you can find them around the internet

Charles Viancin
on the web, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Pinterest




The Republic of Tea
on the web, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Pinterest, on Instagram

*Disclosure: Bloggers received complimentary products from sponsors for the creation of this event. This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.
Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are our own.*


14 November 2016

The Final Secret Recipe Blog Post~Milk Poached Eggs

Yum
It is with a heavy heart that I share with you that the Secret Recipe Club is coming to a close. I met some awesome food bloggers during this time and learned so much from each of them.  I wish all the participants the best of luck and hope to work together in the future.  I must say thank you to our two wonderful bloggers who kept us organized, Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla and Sarah, from Fantastical Sharing who was the curator of Secret Recipe Club.


For this final event, I was assigned Melissa from Smells Like Brownies.  Isn't that the cutest blog name?  Melissa is a stay-at-home mom, which we all know is a fantastic opportunity for her and her family.  She started her blog with the intention of finding the perfect chocolate chip cookie.  Through her experiments, she learned a life lesson: variety is the spice of life!  There are many shades of perfect and she learned to appreciate many!

I love this part of the adventure: snooping through the Recipe Index.  I always find so many things to try, and Melissa's blog was no exception.  Look at these Sweet Potato Burgers.  This Curried Butternut Soup sounds perfect for the fall.  And of course, I had to share one of the chocolate chip cookie recipes, here's the Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.

So what did I choose???

Dad's Poached Eggs.



When I read the recipe and saw the seasoned milk, it immediately made me think of my Mom's Potato Soup.  The seasoned milk in this dish is one of the highlights and made my mouth water just to think of it.  I knew I needed to try these eggs.  This recipe is copied from the blog.

Milk Poached Eggs
from my dad
serves 2
Ingredients:
2 thick slices Sunbeam White Bread
3 cups milk, as needed
salt and pepper
4 eggs
Directions:
Toast the bread and set on a plate. Butter lightly, if desired.
Meanwhile, liberally season milk and bring to a boil in a medium to large pot. When it begins to bubble up, drop in 2 eggs, 1 at a time.
Once the milk begins to boil gently for the second time, poach for 2 minutes more. Do not let the milk boil over. Use a slotted spoon to remove eggs from the milk. They will be done once they look solid on the outside.
Drop the poached eggs on top of the toast, then pour about ½ cup or less of the hot milk over the eggs.
Repeat for the second serving. (It may be ideal to scrape the burned milk from the pan before breaking in the second set of eggs.) There will be extra milk left over after both breakfasts are complete.
*Note: These eggs are best warm, so allow to sit for no more than 1–2 minutes before eating. This also means that each person might need to eat separately.