Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Menu...a Southern Tradition!

Well being from North Carolina I grew up with a traditional New Years Eve meal!
Black Eye Peas, Turnip or Collard Greens and Cornbread! It just wasn't right to bring in the New Year without those 3 things on the menu! Black eye peas represent good health and the greens represent money and well you just have to have cornbread with those two things :) I cheat and make cornbread from the packages at the store, my cornbread just doesn't turn out all that good if I try to make homemade corn bread!

You can buy canned black eye peas or make your own from dried peas (which is what we do for the sake of saving a bit of money). Greens can be made many different ways as well. Below are my two recipes I use for both items...

Black Eye Peas

1 onion chopped and sauted

1 teaspoon of minced garlic

1 teaspoon of salt

2 cups of dried peas

8 cups of water

1 ham hock or fat back

After you saute the onions and garlic add peas and water, Bring to a boil and boil one minute. Turn off and let sit for 1 hour. Then cook on medium low heat for 3 hours. If the peas start to dry out, add boiling water to the pot *Cold water will make the peas crack an turn to mush.

Southern Greens

How to Wash Collard Greens

Fill clean sink 2/3 full with cold water. Immerse greens, in batches, in water; swish greens gently to remove any grit.

Makes: 12 servings, about 2/3 cup each

3 pounds fresh collard greens

12 slices Bacon, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups water

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

WASH collard greens, removing all grit. Remove and discard hard stems. Place greens together in small bunches; roll up. Cut crosswise into wide strips; set aside.

COOK bacon in large skillet on medium heat to desired crispness. Remove bacon from skillet with slotted spoon, reserving 3 tablespoons of the drippings in skillet. Set bacon aside. Add onion and garlic to drippings; cook and stir until tender.

ADD greens, water, sugar, salt and crushed red pepper to skillet. Reduce heat to low; simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour or until greens are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in bacon.

Our new little one arrived....early!

Isaac made his arrival 5wks early but he is doing very well! He was taken to St Louis Cardinal Glennon Hospital after he was born where he spent almost a week. He was able to come home on Christmas Day though and has been doing wonderful! He is now up to 7lbs which is AWESOME for a little preemie born 5wks early! We are so blessed to have him, and our other 4 children!

New Years Resolutions?

Ok so of course I want to lose weight (I just had a baby) we definitely need to save money (who doesn't lol) and more of the other "typical" New Years Resolutions.... But you wanna know what mine are?


2. Quit trying to make my house look like one from magazine pages!

3. HAVE FUN with my kids more

4. Make my home welcoming by decorating it with things we love, not whats in "style"

5. Remember to be more grateful for what I do have and not envious of what I don't have!

I think these are pretty simple resolutions, though we do plan to pay off bills, save more money and I plan to tone back up. I am not making those things a "focus" for me, they will happen when they happen :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Twas' a country Christmas Eve....

The pond was froze over & so was the branch.

The snow was piled up belly-deep to a mule.

The kids were all home on vacation from school,

And happier young folks you never did see-

Just all sprawled around a-watchin' TV.

Then suddenly, some time around 8 o'clock,

There came a surprise that gave them a shock!

The power went off, the TV went dead!

When Grandpa came in from out in the shed

With an armload of wood, the house was all dark.

"Just what I expected," they heard him remark.

"Them power line wires must be down from the snow.

Seems sorta like times on the ranch long ago."

"I'll hunt up some candles," said Mom. "With their light,

And the fireplace, I reckon we'll make out all right."

The teen-agers all seemed enveloped in gloom.

Then Grandpa came back from a trip to his room,

Uncased his old fiddle & started to play

That old Christmas song about bells on a sleigh.

Mom started to sing, & 1st thing they knew

Both Pop & the kids were all singing it, too.

They sang Christmas carols, they sang "Holy Night,"

Their eyes all a-shine in the ruddy firelight.

They played some charades Mom recalled from her youth,

And Pop read a passage from God's Book of Truth.

They stayed up till midnight-and, would you believe,

The youngsters agreed 'twas a fine Christmas Eve.

Grandpa rose early, some time before dawn;

And when the kids wakened, the power was on.

"The power company sure got the line repaired quick,"

Said Grandpa - & no one suspected his trick.

Last night, for the sake of some old-fashioned fun,

He had pulled the main switch - the old Son-of-a-Gun!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Simplifying Christmas.... Day 7 Simple Gift Ideas

This has been such a fun journey and it was started by Heart of a Mommys Blog so be sure to check out her posts as well as those linked through the MeMe she is hosting!

Well I will be honest, this year as of Christmas day I will officially be 36 wks pregnant and I have not made many gifts at all! I have been on bed rest with pre-term labor since 20 weeks so that has not allowed me much time to be up and around getting supplies etc to make any gifts. So this year my gift giving will be a bit more complicated than usual :( but I am still going to do my best to be "simple" about my gifts. I really don't like the comment of "we can't afford it" because even if we offer our time there is always SOMETHING we can afford for every person/family on our list's. Even if we just make a pan of brownies or cookies I am sure they will appreciate it, I know I personally LOVE getting homemade gifts!
Here are a few simple gift giving ideas I have used or seen over the years-

1- Make up your own gift baskets. These can be so simple to make up! Grab a couple of cheap baskets throughout the year from thrift stores or yard sales and store them for closer to Christmas time. Or you could even pick up a few of the cookie tins that many thrift stores have.... I know ours has TONS of them for only 10 cent each! You could add crackers, pop corn, hot chocolate, coffee, cheese, fruits, nuts, homemade goodies etc! The list is endless as to what you can make up!

2- Do you sew? Well if so the possibilites are ENDLESS as to the awesome gifts you can make! I have found tons of FREE craft/sewing ideas online... just Google whatever you are looking for and more than likely you can find a free pattern out there somewhere online for it :)

3- Gifts in a Jar anyone... this one, for me, takes a bit of planning ahead of time. I don't like to use jars that have been used by someone else for sanitation issues so I buy new jars if I plan on doing this. Well I have found that the best time of year to buy jars is around gardening time. Here at our local farm supply place I can get 12 of them for $4.49 if I keep an eye on their sales paper they send out. This is a quick easy gift and you can always pretty up the jars! Add a piece of material to the top of the jar and tie it with some raffia or ribbon. Or you can even go all out and print out a label for your jars and add those along with a large bow, and a small kitchen utensil (often found at $1 stores!). Again Google can help us out here as there are TONS and TONS of Gift in a Jar Recipes... check out this site for Gifts from Your Kitchen I have it set as one of my homepages when IE starts on my computer :)

4- Homemade toys for kids.... these are so much fun to make, no matter what you end up making! You can again find tons and tons of free patterns and ideas online for homemade "toys" for kids! One thing that is fun, easy and 2 gifts in one are I Spy blankets! You can buy lots of different already cut quilt squares now on ebay, or even buy the material and cut them yourself. But all it takes is some 5in quilt squares and some batting (or even 2 layers of flannel for the middle) and a little sewing know how. These little lap quilts are great for long trips because parents can tell the kids things to look for and they can search right there on their own little quilt... Here is a kit a friend of mine recently bought on ebay to give you an idea of the type of fabrics that are used to make them.

Gift giving can be really simple, we don't have to spend $50 per person to make a gift be "thoughtful" or "meaningful" to the receiver.

Be sure to hop over to Heart of a Mommys blog and join the Meme and share a link to your posts!!! We would LOVE to see all of your Simplifying Christmas ideas!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Simplifying Christmas....Simple Family traditions...

Day 6 of Simplifying Christmas...following along with the meme started on Heart of a Mommy's Blog 

What are some of your simple family traditions? Now that my kids are getting older some of the things they found "So Fun" when they were little are getting a bit boring to them :( So I try to think of new and exciting things each year to keep them excited about the holidays. Some of our Christmas traditions are

Our Christmas traditions start out with the parade welcoming Santa into town. And next with the first Saturday of December when the kids get to go to the church and have Breakfast with Santa :) They serve pancakes and orange juice, the have craft tables set up and the kids get to talk to Santa.
Then the following day, the first Sunday of December we put out our table top nativity set. I have one of those cheap little round tables from the Dollar General store that I drape a red table cloth over and we set the nativity scene on that table in the corner of the dining room.

They are very simple traditions, and hopefully we will add some more to our Christmas season here...but what we do is definitely simple :)
On Christmas Eve the kids get to open one gift, and they always know that it will be PJ's :)
On Christmas Day in order to make the unwrapping of gifts take a little longer (great for families like ours who do not get each child lots of gifts) we play a game using a deck of cards. My husband shuffles the cards very well and then each child gets to draw a card. The person with the highest card gets to open a present, but the person with the lowest card can say if they get a big or little present to open :) We started this one year when we did not have many gifts and the kids LOVED it and request it every year.
We don't have many food based family traditions I guess... I do let the kids make Chrismtas cookies each year all on their own, even though they do make quite a mess lol! We have done that every year now since we have moved into our house we live in now so thats probably the only real food based tradition we do. I bake alot in the winter time as it is, and all 3 of the older kids love to make a mess in the kitchen :)
Here is a picture of them from their first year making cookies...

and let me just say my how they have grown from them until now!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Busy getting ready for the holiday...

Heart of a Mommy's Blog Be sure to check out her Simplifying Christmas Meme she is hosting! It's an AWESOME IDEA!!!!!! and We are definitely going with that in our home this year! So be sure to check back every day for new posts about Simplifying Christmas

So I have been thinking about some more simple ways to celebrate Christmas here at our home. And my main focus right now is getting a tree and getting it decorated :) I do put up a Christmas Tree every year as all 4 of the kids enjoy a tree and they are all still young. This year we are doing a Candy Land theme for Christmas!

It is so simple and so SWEET! We are getting a tree for free from an old closed down Christmas Tree farm, we just have to do some looking to find one thats the right size and full enough. It will probably resemble the Charlie Brown Christmas tree LOL but that is perfectly ok with us :)

Tonight me and my husband are going to browse some stores to see what items we can find that are needful items for the kids. Needful items are socks, under wear, PJ's, clothing etc not toys or other things that will be forgotten after 10mins of play ;) Plus it's nice for us to be able to get out for a bit, though we are taking E (my 18mth old) with us. She is stuck to her mommy like glue lately, which is just fine with me because I know one day she won't want to even hug me... just part of them growing up. And with Isaacs arrival date, Jan 23rd, getting closer and closer this may be one of the few times I am able to get out before he makes his arrival :)

Now back to my simple Christmas plans.....
I found some styrofoam balls in my craft stash along with some popsicle sticks so those will be turned into lollipop ornaments (pics coming soon!) and I also found a walmart bag full of mardi gras beads someone gave us that will be turned into Christmas tree bead garland. I picked up some bright colored candy canes to hang on the tree, for decoration as well as treats for the kids. For along the walk way I plan to make some lollipops out of styrofoam and wooden dowels, and I will be sharing that craft as well this coming Monday so be sure to keep an eye out! This Saturday is another traditonal day for our family as we go to the Breakfast with Santa at our local church. This year they are taking canned items for the food pantry and each of the kids will take in two cans of food to donate. As part of another family tradtion this coming Sunday we will be putting up the table top nativity set, we do this each year on the first Sunday of December. It is nothing fancy, just a simple nativity set, but then again the place where Jesus was born was nothing fancy either :)

Blessings to everyone and I wish you a wonderful Weekend! I will be back tomorrow with more on our Simple Christmas!