Sunday, November 30, 2008

Countdown to Christmas

I found this cute Advent Calender  at Target!
I didn't want to put candy inside so I decided to write 24 things to do before Christmas!
I placed the slips inside each countdown day, and this is what we are doing.....

24 things to do before Christmas:

1. Decorate Tree
2. Decorate Yard
3. Drink Hot Cocoa
4. Read a Christmas Book
5. Make Rice Crispy treats (my daughter has never made them!!!!)
6. Go shopping for stocking stuffers
7. Get Christmas cards ready to send out
8. Enjoy a candy cane
9. Go for a walk around neighborhood and look at decorations
10. Make Handmade cards for family
11. Make a fire and roast marshmallows
12. Drive around in PJ's and look at lights
13. Sing Christmas Carols
14. Watch a Christmas movie and eat popcorn together
15. Make cookies and deliver them to the "Joe DiMaggio House" (children's hospital)
16. Get together items to donate to the Joe DiMaggio House
17. Go buy Conner (our Dog) a treat
18. Make Christmas cookies for friends and neighbors
19. Make care package for the "adopt a family" at school
20. Help plan Christmas Breakfast
21. wrap presents
22. Make a homemade ornament for the tree
23. string cranberries and popcorn for the tree
24.?????? (I will put a little surprise in the last box for my daughter!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Best Mac and Cheese

This is a great Mac and Cheese recipe!

I actually got the recipe from a great book, Trisha Yearwoods "Georgia cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen", (this book is worth buying or a great gift idea!)

this is my version:

1 pound macaroni (I used whole wheat penne)

cheese sauce:
6 tablespoons (1/2 stick) stick butter
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

grated Parmesan cheese

preheat oven to 350
butter a 2 quart casserole dish

cook noodles
while noodles are cooking, make the cheese sauce.
Melt butter in saucepan.  Using a wire whisk, stir in flour and salt.  Keep stirring until flour mixture turns pale brown, approx. 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and mix in 1 cup of milk. Return to heat and and whisk in remaining 1 cup of milk.  continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. (Be patient!) add the cheese and stir until it melts.

Mix noodles in cheese sauce, pour into prepared pan.  top with Parmesan cheese and bake until crispy! (approx. 45 minutes)

Mini Photo Books

Here is a great inexpensive gift.  for the past couple of years, I put together my favorite photos of the past year and make a mini photo book.  They make great presents for grandparents, and I always make one for our family as well.  These are NOT the regular photo books, they are much more expensive!  These are the "mini photo books" and they are 5 x 7 photos that look great!  The cost starts at $6.99. Go to and don't forget to sign up with them, they send out discounts frequently by email!

Kids Gift Idea

This is a great  inexpensive gift....everybody loves NEW crayons and markers
(I love the smell of new crayons!)

Gift Card Idea...

This month I will be posting some random gift, decorating and simple party ideas...
With my party "budget" cut, I am on a party "hiatus" right now.....

so let's get creative together!

Here is an idea for a gift card....A Dunkin Donut gift card is great but make the presentation even better....ask for a "free" cup and put the gift card inside!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Book Exchange Party

Party Time!
We had a simple party that is a great money saving idea...a book swap!
You can do this with adults, kids or both together.
Easy to plan and a huge on
A bookmark to take home.
I will print the poem  at end of post, it was printed on regular paper and I glued it on some card stock.
This was the craft project we made.  We made bookmarks with black cord and 3 beads knotted on each end.  Easy, cheap and a fun way to keep the kids busy. I found these cute plastic dice beads at JoAnns.

Nothing fancy today, I did not have time so I bought donut holes, they were on sale buy 1 get 1 free!!!!
Of course I had to make little toppers that spell out "I heart Books"....

I made a "check in" table, said "Welcome to the Library", and used post it notes.  For every book they brought to trade, I gave them one post it page.  The way I organized the swap was for every book they brought was the amount of books they got to take home.  When they checked in, I asked them to choose one book that they liked best out of the ones they brought and had them talk about that book before we "shopped for the books" (book swap!).

We went around the room and talked about our favorite book we brought....

The Book Poem:

When Books Fall Open

When Books Fall Open
And You Fall In
A Great Adventure Will Begin.

A Princess, a Tiger,
A Flying Broom
A Magic Hat
A Pink Kangaroo.

Yes, When books Fall Open
And You Fall In,
A Great Adventure Will Begin.

A Knight and His Horse
A Trip to the Moon,
A Talking dog
A Big Red Balloon.

So Pick a Book
Crawl right In,
Then Your Journey
Shall Begin.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"Graveyard Bash" Halloween Night

This sets the scene for our "Graveyard Bash".
After Trick or Treating we had some friends over for Appetizers and Desserts...Hope you aren't scared....Come on over and "dig" in!
This was a HUGE hit!
The "open casket dip"....That is a loaf of bread propped open with wooden skewers with spinach dip inside....of course the skeleton is an added addition!

The Pretty Butterfly and Helicopter Pilot ready for "Trick and Treating"
Our House, note the fire pit, it was a nice touch!
Other noteworthy ideas, we had Halloween Music, and coolers of water, etc for some of our friends passing by!
Happy Halloween!

Preparing for Halloween Night

Halloween cupcakes...used stickers on scrapbook paper as cupcake toppers, and some cool spider rings....yummy!
Easy Halloween "Dirt Cups"

layer chocolate pudding
smashed Oreos (dirt)
Peppridge Farms Milano Cookies with Wilton black piping gel (available at Michael's)
candy pumpkins

traditional pumpkin carving  time!