Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

This year I decided that I really wanted to try to do more handmade items for Christmas gifts.  I always try to include something handmade but I just wanted to try to do more this year.  I began working on several gifts back in September and finally got everything done just in time for Christmas.  Since all the gifts have been opened I can post pictures now.

For my mom I made a doily.

My mom and sister both got wellness bags.

These bags included hot and cold therapy packs, eye pillows, some lavender bath salts and a foot scrubber.  I made these based on this tutorial that I found over at Sew Mama Sew.

I also sent my grandmother and my aunt Sue one of the eye pillows.

My dad got a bird house.

My mom and dad own and run the Orchard House Bed and Breakfast and the Apple Blossom Farm House so I made my dad the Apple Seed Bird House!  The bird house was store bought but I painted it.

For my nephew Silas I made a mat that he can play with his toy cars on.  I designed the mat after the town that they live in and included their house and street and the buildings and landmarks in the area.

My mother-in-law got a pair of lounge pants I made from a pattern in an Amy Butler book.  I know I took a picture of them but I can’t find it.

Richie got a waffle maker which isn’t handmade but since he doesn’t cook and I will be making all of the waffles that come out of it I think it counts!

I also handmade all of the gifts I made for the staff at the school where I teach.  Everyone got a Christmas ornament made from a recycled aluminum can lid.  I found the patterns in the Dec/Jan issue of MaryJanes Farm Magazine.

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I love Christmas!  Here are some pictures of my tree and my pets enjoying the season as well.

This year all but 5 of the ornaments on my tree are handmade.  I am also making most of the Christmas presents I am giving this year but I can’t post about those until AFTER the holiday.

My handmade yo-yo garland.

My handmade yo-yo garland.

Eggnog sleeping.

Eggnog sleeping.

Okay - eggnog pretending to sleep.



Thunder sleeping.

Thunder sleeping.

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Well Thanksgiving went off without a hitch!  I cooked a 22 pound turkey which I brined 24 hours prior to cooking.  I also made sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, green peas, corn souffle, and two pies.  Richies mom made hot rolls, mashed potatoes, and cornbread dressing (Richie wont eat stuffing).  It was all so yummy!  I didn’t even take a picture of the table this year because it looked EXACTLY like last years table!  I always hesitate to try anything new at thanksgiving.  We only get it once a year and I just have to have some of those traditional things that I don’t get any other time of the year.  I do however like to experiment with dessert.  Last year everyone enjoyed the Chocolate Chess pie so I did make that again.  For a second pie I made up a recipe and Apple and Pumpkin Spice pie. It was really good!


Apple and Pumpkin Spice Pie

I used a graham cracker crust because I am not fond of traditional pie crust with sweet pies.  You can use either.

1 9-inch pie crust
3/4 C. Sugar
2 Tbs. Flour
1/8 tsp. Salt
1 C. pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 egg
2 tsp. Vanilla
2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 C. peeled and chopped Apples (I used a variety of local apple from the farmers market)

1/3 C. flour
1/3 C. brown Sugar
1/3 C. chopped pecans (I used pralines and chopped them!)
2-3 Tbs. butter
Cinnamon to taste

Combine sugar, flour and salt in a large bowl.  Mix in pumpkin, egg, vanilla, spice and stir well.  Stir in chopped apples.  Pour mixture into a pie crust.  Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

While baking mix flour, sugar, nuts and cinnamon in a bowl.  Mix in softened (not melted) butter with a fork until mixture is well combined and crumbly.  Sprinkle over the pie and bake an additional 15 minutes. 

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

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Preparing for the Big Day!

I love Thanksgiving!  I have been getting ready for the big Day all week.  Sunday we got all our groceries.  I had to try to plan meals for yesterday, today and tomorrow that were not chicken or turkey related.  Last night was meatloaf, tonight is homemade mac and cheese and tomorrow we will be having corned beef sandwiches.

I haven’t started cooking yet but that will change tonight when I make the Turkey Brine.  I will be brining for 24 hours so it will go in its bath first thing tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow I plan to make the pies, the corn souffle, prepare the stuffing and precook the sweet potatoes.  Everything else will be finished on Thursday. 

I will be preparing a few different things this year but most of the meal will be the same.  You can check out my post from last year to see all of my recipes. 

I hope you have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving!

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After reading some recent posts on The Pioneer Woman Cooks about cooking with pumpkin, I was inspired to try this myself.  I love pumpkin pie, and pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin bread but I have always used canned pumpkin.  I have NEVER made my own pumpkin puree before.  Well it is actually really easy, just a little time consuming.

To start I purchased 3 pie pumpkins.  These are really easy to find at the grocery stores in October and November and were also available at the pumpkin patch.

I cut off the top of each pumpkin, cut them in half and scooped out the seeds. (Save the seeds for later.)

Next I cut each pumpkin half into quarters and arranged them onto baking sheets.

Roast the pumpkin for about an hour at 350 degrees.

When the pumpkin is nice and tender remove it from the oven and allow it to cool slightly.  Peel the pumpkin and throw it into the food processor and blend until smooth.  If it is too thick you can add a little water.  If it is too thin you can strain it in a cheese cloth.

I scooped mine by cupfulls into freezer bags.  Store flat in the freezer until ready to use.  Set out to thaw or run the bag under cold water for a few minutes.


When you are done you can make roasted pumpkin seeds.  These are a great fall snack.

First rinse all the seeds to remove most of the pumpkin gunk.  Lay the seeds on a baking sheet and allow them to dry over night.  Sprinkle the seeds with a little bit of olive oil and lots of salt and toss to coat.  Place the pan in a 250 degree oven until the seeds are nice and brown.  This will take several hours and you should stir the seeds around every 15 minutes or so.  I like to cook my seeds until they are really brown.  I find they are tastier and have a better crunch.

Store the cooked seeds in an airtight container.

More pumpkin recipes coming soon!

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