Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkin Baking - IT'S ON!

It started with a knock on the door Friday night reminding us of the block party the following day and my husband letting them know I would bring a cake for the cake walk.  Oops, forgot about that one.  So what is the easiest last minute cake to whip up?  A Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake!  As luck would have it I had frosting already made so the decorating was easy!  Here is my Ode to the Pumpkin Patch Cookie.

My contribution to the pot luck were Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.  Swoon.

To round out the weekend I made the Cinnamon Roll Pumpkin Vanilla Sheet Cake from Picky Palate for our small group.  It was made with a cake mix base.  My, my, Pumpkin Pie.  This was good!  Go look at her pictures because they are WAY better than mine.  They will tempt you to try it.  Mine is just proof that I did :)

Just to prepare myself for holiday baking I took everything off my baking shelf in the pantry to do a little inventory.  Ummmm, I need to use up some of this stuff!  At least I can whip up at least five different things with a moments notice :)  I have a baking problem....which is evident looking at every different kind of chip you can imagine!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

The question of what to have for breakfast keeps getting increasingly more difficult to answer.  I am an egg girl, so there is nothing like a couple of eggs over easy with a little melted cheese and bread, pita, tortilla, or whatever to sop up the runny yolk.  Perfection in my book.  Then  Apple Butter Yogurt enters my life and things start to get a little complicated  Sigh.  Love it.  NOW comes Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal.  I had this for breakfast and then again for an after school snack (I had to get a picture of it, of course :).    I am in breakfast heaven.

Before giving you the recipe I have to tell you that I rarely use just plain oats.  I always have some sort of mixture of things from my pantry in a jar that I use for oatmeal.  The mix I used this morning consisted of pearl barley, coconut, oats, and quick cook steel cut oats.  Sometimes I add flax seed, chia seed, or wheat germ.    If you want more of a textured oatmeal, use a mix of grains. You'll have to adjust the recipe amounts a bit so it cooks correctly.  If you don't want to bother grab your quick oats and think no more of it!

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

1/3 cup oats or mixed grains
3 tablespoons pumpkin puree (I always have some in the refrigerator in the fall, left over from a recipe or in case I need a Pumpkin Spice Latte)
2 teaspoons brown sugar (up to 1 tablespoon if you have a sweet tooth)
1/4 cup water (you will need almost 1/2 cup for mixed grains)
3 tablespoons almond milk (or regular milk)
pinch of salt
small splash of vanilla
generous dash of pumpkin pie spice
top with walnuts, pecans, dried cranberries, more milk - optional

Mix all in a microwave-safe bowl.  Always use a bigger bowl than you think you need to prevent bubbling over.  Better safe than having to clean up a microwave mess.  Microwave for 2 minutes (4 minutes for mixed grains).  Top with whatever you deem necessary!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Woman's Guide to Fasting - Book Review

Woman's Guide to Fasting, A

A Woman's Guide to Fasting by Lisa E. Nelson is an excellent resource for anyone who has the spiritual discipline of fasting on their heart or mind. It opened my eyes to what fasting is and what it is not, and the real reasons you may be called to do it.  It is all based in scripture and leads you to many verses to ponder about fasting.  Jesus is the main focus, as He should be.

Much practical advice is given for both short and long fasts.  Mrs. Nelson does not claim to give medical advice, only shares from her own experience, which are many.  She prepares you for what to expect before, during, and after a fast physically and spiritually.   She shares her own successes and failures.  Although there is much information she gives it at a personal level. 

I strongly recommend this book if you have been thinking about fasting.  I'm not sure it only has to be for women, as the principles are applicable for both men and women. 

Lisa says, "True biblical fasting is not about the external act of not eating; it is about the internal work of the heart seeking hard after God."  There is nothing more beautiful than wanting to know God and seeking Him.

Ephesians 3:14-19
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family  in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fancy Nancy Snacks

I made tiny treats for the Fancy Nancy Family Reading Night at our daughter's school.  Not the best pictures, but here is my endless display of chocolate dipped marshmallows embellished with an M&M.  Easy, right?  I dipped around 300 in less than an hour and a half. The kids (and adults) loved them.  I also made the fancy ruffled crape paper streamers and tissue paper pom poms I have been wanting to do since seeing them on Pintrest.   Lots of fancy fun!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

GREAT Christmas Gift!

Every year we give the grandparents a photobook of our year.  I wait and wait until Winkflash has their flat rate sale to do this.  The book I put together tonight was 94 pages, which initially cost $97, instead cost $24.  When ordering 3 books (one for each set of grandparents and one for us), this saves us a bunch. 

Besides, what do grandparents really need?  And what's better than looking back at the year in pictures?  My scrapbooking for the year is done.  Love it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sugarless Apple Butter Yogurt - TO DIE FOR

OK, so let me tell you that if you are not making your own yogurt you must.  Why not?  It is so incredibly easy to do in a crock pot and it's SO GOOD.   Here is my tutorial, now go do it.  (Then come back and do the apple butter).  I cannot believe how much sugar is even in the "good for you" yogurt, and let's not even talk about the ones with artificial sweetener.  Homemade yogurt is amazing and paired with this Crock Pot-No Sugar Added-Apple Butter it is TO DIE FOR.  Make your yogurt with skim milk, and the whole thing is fat free.  I make mine with 2%...I like a little fat :)

The hardest part of the apple butter is reducing down the apple cider.  For this, you put 6 cups of no sugar added apple cider in a saucepan and slow boil it until it's about 3 cups.  Can you handle that? Then chop the apples (no need to peel!), add some spices and the reduced cider and let your crock pot do all the work.


When you get this beautiful brown mess (and your house smells of cinnamon apples) you put it in the blender to puree.

That's it.  Honestly.  Get that crock pot out and make the yogurt.  The next day make the apple butter.  The next day email me and tell me how much you love it.  Just trying to make the world smile a little more, one simple recipe at a time :)


Sunday, October 16, 2011


My husband and I are away for the weekend.  He is playing in a tournament so it's almost like a weekend alone.  I have absolutely no problem with this.  I ENJOY spending some time All. By. Myself.  It's so quiet. 

Is it a bad thing to go to the Farmer's Market and only come home with cupcakes and kettle corn?  Kettle corn is the ultimate snack for a sweet/salty eater like me.The cupcake was a pumpkin pie cupcake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting from Sugar Island Cupcakes.  I have been looking for a recipe for something similar and cannot wait to try these.  Moist and fall-ish.  I'm thinking they should be my contribution to Thanksgiving.

There is a little place in Punta Gorda called Pies & Plates that has the most unique sandwiches, salads, bakery items.  I got the Mama Mia Panini, which was fresh focaccia stuffed with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and pesto, and savored every bite.  Wow.  Mark had a sandwhich as well but for his side he chose chips and dip.  Dip.  I have never heard of another place that had dip with their chips.  I hadn't thought of it before, but that is a no brainer.   I haven't eaten the Salty Dog Ooey Gooey Butter Cake yet.  I'm thinking breakfast.

I picked up some sushi from Publix for dinner - Ultimate Chili Roll with tuna and salmon.  Hmmmmm, maybe my weekends away focus too much on food :)

I watched the new TV show Last Man Standing with Tim Allen.  Funny.  So funny.  I can watch it online along with Modern Family.  Can I fit in 2 shows per week?  I'll try.

I counted Box Tops last night and this morning.  5067 Box Tops.  Hooray (but am over counting and bundling).  I really need to ask for help with this next time.  Box Tops Counting Club anyone?

I finally went through some of my cooking magazines and brought all the fall issues to browse.  I never use these.  I forget.   I have a "to-cook" file that is overflowing and my magazines are not ever in there.  I need a better system (or need to vow not to print out anymore recipes until I get through some of them).  Darn you food blogs with awesome photography (honestly, the pictures hook me).

(My husband, the English teacher, says I use too many parenthesis.) 

Is it weird that I want to go see Footloose?  One summer I watched the original about 100 times.  Those were the days - LOL.

Looking for a REALLY IN DEPTH Bible study?  I crave this sort of meaningful study and have been disappointed by far too many studies that only skim the surface.  My small group is just starting on the Luke sermon series by Pastor Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church.  This is the real thing.   It's a three year study of Luke.  What a gift and blessing it is.  Check it out.  It's free, all online, printable resources for a family group or a small group.  You can do it at your own pace.  It is well worth your time.

I find that one day of peace and quiet is enough to refresh me.  We are now on day two and I cannot wait to get home to the blissful chaos that is likely to ensue.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Read this post about a Random Acts of Kindness birthday celebration.   This is exactly why I am so excited to be getting out of debt.  I can't wait to be able to do this ALL OF THE TIME!!!!!  I hope it inspires you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Paper Pumpkins

I got the idea for these from Creations by Kara where she has a tutorial on them.  I didn't have orange spray paint so I used a paint brush and acrylic paint which worked well.  Cute fall decor or hostess gift!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Box Tops Marketplace

As a parent you are busier than ever now that school is in full swing.  Along with a new schedule, homework, extra curricular activities, and projects have all been added to the calendar. Now that everything is running smoothly, did you realize Halloween is coming up quickly?  There are costumes to plan, treats to purchase, decorations to hang, and teacher gifts to make.  It’s fun to do it all, but, with no extra time, things can get a little stressful.  Shopping at the Box Tops Marketplace can help out.  Did you know you can earn eBox Tops while shopping online at over 100 of your favorite stores? It's easy to do and fits into whatever time you have available. 

I shopped at several different stores and it was remarkably easy. At Wal-Mart I found all different shapes and sizes of canning jars and candy to make teacher gifts.  I also selected several books from their wide selection, as I have been known to trade books for the Halloween candy the first few days after trick-or-treating.  I used the in-store pick up option because the canning jars are heavy and I could choose to have everything shipped to the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market close to my home.  Costume planning at our house revolves around using existing outfits in the dress up clothes bin.  The girls get much more excited about purchasing accessories they can use all year, instead of new costumes they might wear once.  They found some accessories such as bracelets, socks, and leggings at Kohl’s to go with their outfits.  To shop, log into the Box Tops for Education site, go to the Marketplace, find your favorite retailer, and the rest is completed at that retailer's site just like regular on-line shopping.  Some stores even have the option of in-store pick up to save on shipping costs.  Even better, after verification, the eBox Tops are added to the Box Tops account of the school of your choice.  

eBoxTops Website Badge, used to promote online shopping and earning eBoxTops for your school.

The variety of merchandise offered at the retailers is vast.  I often hear from parents they don't buy items with Box Tops or, if they do, they have a hard time remembering to clip the Box Tops (let alone send them in).  With eBox Tops you can buy any item the store offers and there is no clipping, they are automatically added to your school’s account.  With a few extra clicks you are on your way to helping the school of your choice earn even more money for the projects it needs.  By making the Box Tops marketplace page your home shopping page you will remember this useful resource next time you shop online.

Disclosure: Box Tops for Education provided me with gift cards for the opportunity to shop the Marketplace and give my honest opinion of the service.

Check out our traveling Box Tops trophy!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Runner's Devotional Review

I had the chance to review The Runner’s Devotional: Inspiration and Motivation for Life’s Journey…On and Off the Road, by Dave Veerman and Dana Niesluchowski.  The book is a weekly devotional that starts with a short story with bible verse tie-in about a running topic, a story about a runner and her/his race (biblical tie-in) and result (how the topic and the runner relates biblically).  There is then another story about a different runner.  The Think It Through section presents some questions and On Running is strictly running advice.  Lines for journaling and a running log end each week's devotion.  There is a schedule that suggests how to divide up the sections for a reading each day of the week.   Training plans for 5K, 10K, half and full marathons are included.

The stories are inspirational, advice is solid and would be enjoyed by runners of all abilities.  If you are a runner looking for a light devotional and running log, this is a nice tool.

Disclaimer: Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Sewing a Tube Necklace

I intended to make this necklace I found on Pinterest....

Pinned Image

 but didn't have enough fabric.  Don't you love the gray and yellow??  Here is my SIMPLE tube necklace......

Sew a tube (long rectangle, fold wrong sides together and sew down the long side), twist a little bit, and sew the ends together.  SIMPLE.

Friday, October 7, 2011

YoYo Painting and Fall Bulletin Board

When I first started my blog I featured Yo-Yo painting.  Cut off a leg of a nylon, fill the bottom with dried beans, tie it off, stick it in paint and bounce it off the paper in a yo-yo motion.  The girls loved it and just recently asked to do it again.  In the picture above they are making a friend a very large birthday card.

On a side note, the Yo-Yo painter is much easier to clean than I expected.  Just rinse and you are ready for the next time.

I then took this method of painting to class and they LOVED it and asked to do it again the very next day.  I took a piece of bulletin board paper big enough that everyone in class could stand around the perimeter.  One person yo-yo painted for a little while and passed it to the next person.  Each different round we used a different color and each person filled in the space right in front of them.  I then incorporated the paper into my fall bulletin board as the fall leaves.

See the dotty texture?  It worked perfectly and the kids are still asking to do this kind of painting again.    What are your fall bulletin board ideas?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fall Recipes Archives

I can't wait to start making some of my fall favorites.  Here is a list of some I've made in previous years.


Pumpkin Crumb Cake
Pumpkin Spice Scones (my favorite)
Pumpkin Spice Latte
Pumpkin Waffles
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (a very close second)
Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Seeds


Gingerbread Apple Crisp (favorite apple recipe)
Raw Apple Pie Fruit and Nut bar 
Creamy Apple Cranberry Crisp
Easy Apple Turnovers

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How to Make an Oreo Cake

The birthday boy requested an Oreo soccer cake and this is what I came up with.
It's not much of a tutorial because it's so easy :)

The Oreos are all anchored with buttercream. 

I didn't mind if the buttercream was sloppy for this one because it was a soccer field and I was going to have grass coming out of all the seems anyways.  If you wanted a cleaner edge presentation, don't use as much buttercream.  Simply a dab on the bottom of each will hold it in place. 

Spread the top with a layer of buttercream.  I wanted to be able to see the Oreo layer so I didn't go all the way to the edge.

I added the soccer field lines as well as "grass" to the sides using the Wilton grass tip.

The players were purchased from a cake supply store.

The Oreos were slightly softened by the buttercream so we could cut into it like a slice of cake.  The presentation made for a very pretty slice of cake! 

Penzeys Love

Bumper sticker from Penzeys.  Love that place!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ford and General Mills = BONUS #boxtops !

Ford, General Mills Come Together to Help America’s Schools, partner in Box Tops for Education® program

You all know I love Box Tops.  I do.  Send me yours and I'll be forever grateful :) Ford is now partnering with General Mills for a Box Tops promotion.

Starting Oct. 3, participants can earn and collect Box Tops for their local school in three new ways.  They can request a brochure from the official Ford/BTFE program website at; watch product videos on the program website; or purchase a Ford vehicle at dealerships during October and November. 

·         Ford is the first automotive company to partner with General Mills’ Box Tops for Education® program

·         Ford estimates it will provide more than $1 million dollars to schools during the two-month program through box top redemptions

·         America’s schools have earned more than $400 million through Box Tops for Education® since the General Mills program started in 1996; Ford has donated more than $100 million to education in the same time frame.

       I am on the Box Tops for Education site everyday entering to win bonus Box Tops because our school could really use the money.  Schools WILL win big money. Why not ours (or yours)?   During the two-month “Ford Drives Box Tops” Sweepstakes, Ford will provide sweepstakes winners with eBoxTops, which will be automatically credited to the school of their choice. Five 10,000 Box Top prizes worth $1,000 and one 200,000 Box Tops prize worth $20,000 will be given to the BTFE-eligible school of the winner’s choice at the end of the Sweepstakes. Schools can use the money in any way they choose.

As schools struggle to find funding, local communities are turning to corporate programs such Box Tops for Education and Ford’s Drive One 4 UR School program to fill budget gaps.  Supporting education has been a key tenant of Ford since the company’s inception. Through its history, Ford has created a variety of programs dedicated to improving schools in communities across America, donating more than $100 million to education in just the past 15 years.

The Drive One 4 UR School program was developed as a fun, engaging way to help high schools raise money to support their sports and extracurricular activities. Ford and Lincoln Dealerships partner with local high schools to conduct test-drive fund raising events. For every valid test-drive completed, Ford Motor Company will donate $20 to the participating high school, up to $6,000.  Since the program’s inception in 2007, more than $7 million in funds have been donated to high schools nationwide.
The high school in which my husband teaches and coaches had a Drive One 4 UR School event last year bringing in much needed funds for the athletic department.  Both the Ford and General Mills education initiatives are bringing real dollars to our school when they need it the most.   Help your local school by joining with them.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

#boxtops Traveling Trophy

As Box Tops Coordinator I often have a hard time coming up with incentives for Box Tops collection.  We have done pizza parties, gift bags, parent gift cards, etc.  I also got several good ideas at National Box Tops University.  I don't think that prizes are necessary but they sure are fun and foster a little constructive competition. 

Here is my new idea, the traveling Box Tops Cookie Jar Trophy.  The class with the highest collection total for a certain period of time (I may start to do it monthly) will win the trophy, along with it's cookie contents.  The class will keep the trophy in their classroom until the next winner is awarded.  It's simple.  I like to bake cookies. And hopefully the kids will get into it.