Thursday, December 30, 2010

Holiday (or any day) Clean-Up

Posted by Kimberly:

I don't know about you, but I tend to feel overwhelmed after the holidays. We come home after each Christmas with our families, and we have all of this new stuff that we have to find a place for. (We have a hard enough time finding a place for all the stuff that we already have!) So, it usually ends up sitting out for several days until I get motivated to find a home for everything.

Well, yesterday was the day I got motivated! I was determined not only to get the house picked up but to also get all of the Christmas decorations and tree down. (It helped knowing that my cousin and his family are coming over for New Year's Eve.) I had read in a magazine a week or two ago about a way to get your kids involved in cleaning up the house. Now, we believe in "child labor" at our house and expect our kids to make their beds, keep their stuff picked up, help dust and vacuum, etc. However, it is often difficult to get them to do it with "enthusiasm" and a good attitude. So, yesterday, I decided to give the idea a try with a few modifications.

Here's what I did....

I typed and printed a list of chores on the computer, such as "vacuum Blake's room", "straighten the girls' closet", "pick up and straighten the front living room", "unload the dryer and fold the towels", etc. I then cut them apart, folded them up, and placed them in a bucket. Next, I assembled the troops and explained the following rules:

1. They had to draw one chore at a time.
2. They were not allowed to put it back if they didn't like it. (The only exception to this rule was if Townley, who is 6, drew a vacuuming chore.)
3. The two older ones (age 10 and 8) had to help Townley read her tasks.
4. The task had to be completed thoroughly and efficiently. (They could not drag their feet in an attempt to have to do less work.)
5. If they drew "pick up the front living room", for example, and somebody else's stuff was in there, they had to put that person's stuff up too. If they didn't know where it went, then they had to go ask them. They were responsible for picking up everybody's stuff, not just their own.
6. When the task was completed, they had to put their initial or name on it and stick it in a pile.
7. They continued to draw new tasks until the bucket was empty.
8. After all tasks had been completed, I would take all of their pieces of paper and check to see that they had done each of their jobs to the best of their ability.
9. Whoever did all of their jobs thoroughly and efficiently would be rewarded with 30 minutes of computer time or time on my phone to play games. (This was a huge motivator to them because we do not have any gaming devices, and we limit their computer time. Each person will have to figure out what motivates their own kids.) We also went for a special snack in the afternoon.

Let me just say that this will be our new way of getting things done around here. The kids worked so hard and even thought it was fun! (We played their new Taylor Swift CD the whole time. Music always seems to make cleaning more "fun".) In fact, last night when I was tucking Blake in bed, he said, "Mom, that was kind of fun today." And, this morning, Townley commented, "Mommy, I think we should do what we did yesterday." Two of the best things about this, besides that my house was finally straight, was that 1.) I didn't have to stand over them the whole time telling them what to do next and 2.) They had to do things for each other. (Poor Emily got the worst job of all.... She had to straighten Blake's closet!)

Hopefully, this idea, or your own modified version of it, will help you get things under control at your own house with your kids' help.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas!

The "3 Cherry Cokes" are taking a much-needed break, but will be back soon.

Thank you for all of your comments during the past year. We are glad so many of you enjoy our recipes. We look forward to sharing more with you in the future.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas!
Donna, Lori, and Kimberly

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Carrot Bread

Posted by Donna:

I posted the recipe for a carrot cake a few weeks ago. Two weeks ago, I decided to make carrot bread. My favorite blog, other than Lori's, of course, is

The lady that posts this is so good at decorating--- very simply and inexpensively. She uses a lot of vintage decorations as well. My whole house is full of "give me's." If I took everything out of my house that had been given to me, I wouldn't have very much left. I call my house "eclectic"--my fancy word for all my mismatches and old furniture. Be sure and check out her blog. You'll get great ideas from her. A few weeks ago, she posted her recipe for Carrot Bread. It sounded and looked so good---I just had to try it. This is her recipe, minus a couple of spices. I will tell you that it gets better the longer it sits in the refrigerator.

Carrot Bread

1 tsp. butter, melted

1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. allspice

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 cups grated carrots (It takes a 1 lb. bag to get this amount.)

***The original recipe called for 1/4 tsp. cloves and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg. I don't like strong spices; so, I omitted these.

Mix all together and pour into one greased/floured loaf pan or two small greased/floured loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Let the bread cool about 15 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

After the bread has cooled completely, frost with a cream cheese icing.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature

3 T. butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla

Beat with a mixer on high until smooth.

Add 1 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar

After icing the loaves, sprinkle with crushed pecans. Store in the refrigerator.

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S'more Kits

Posted by Lori:

Each year at Christmas, many of my husband's co-workers exchange gifts.  The gifts are small, and because he works at a children's home (Tipton Home), when we make our gifts, we try to think of something the children would like.  Usually it's safe to go with something edible when talking about kids, don't you think?  We've made cookies, pumpkin bread, and muffins, but this year I wasn't sure I was going to have the time to make anything homemade. 

Most children like s'mores, so here's what we decided to do:  S'more Kits.
Each kit contained one sheet of graham cracker, broken in half, one large marshmallow, and one snack-sized Hershey.
Each kit was placed in a decorative cellophane bag.
The kits were divided into families or individuals and will be handed out some time today.  I think they'll know what to do with them, but it would be nice to make a little tag for each kit with instructions.  These can be assembled and popped into the microwave for a few seconds or made traditionally by roasting the marshmallow over a fire or over the stove top.
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Homemade Mini Canvas Magnets

Posted by Lori:

I probably should have waited to post this until AFTER I've given them as my homemade gifts for my husband's side of the family.  That would have been the best thing, but I was so excited to share them with you, I just decided to go ahead and do it!

I'm excited about them because I think that many of you will come up with all kinds of ways to use this same idea.  Maybe you have already done something like this yourself.  It would make a neat gift for anyone and can be personalized in any way.

This idea came to me while in Hobby Lobby.  I walked up and down aisles, looking for neat things that would be good for homemade gifts.  My sister had suggested decoupaging on ceramic tiles for coasters. I liked that idea, but wasn't sure I wanted it to be coasters. That's when I spotted these mini canvases.  They come in a packed of two and are about a 2.5 inch square.  The day I got them they were 30% off, which was even better.

Paint canvases in desired color using a small foam brush.  Allow to dry.
Paint Modge Podge all over canvas.
While still wet, place paper square on top. (I cut some straight edge and tore some to be ragged.  Paper should be slightly smaller than canvas.) Press paper down and smooth out any bubbles.  Allow to dry a few minutes, then gently smooth again.
After the first Modge Podge coat dries a little and the bumps are mostly smooth, paint on more Modge Podge on top of the decorative paper. 
Print out phrases, scriptures, names, initials, etc. onto vellum in desired font and print color.  Some of my vellum was thicker than others.  I also varied the colors of the vellum some.  Make sure to make this part a little big smaller than the printed paper size.
Press vellum piece on slightly wet Modge Podge or if too dry, Modge Podge the back of the vellum very lightly (or a glue stick will work - used lightly).  Stick verse on desired area. Allow to dry a few minutes.
Use desired accessories to decorate your canvas.  I chose silk flowers that are made for scrap booking and also used metal brads in decorative shapes, textures, and colors.  Decide where you want to place the flowers. Some canvases I made with the verse....some without.
 Poke a small hole through the canvas (I used an ice pick.) from front to back.  Insert brad into flowers as desired and attach to canvas, spreading apart ends of brads as able.  If the hole is really close to an edge or corner, just spread the ends to one open side.
Apply magnet or two to the back of the canvases.  I used stick on magnets and decided to use two per canvas, even though this picture doesn't show it.
 And, there you canvas magnets!  Perfect for handmade gifts at Christmas and any other time of the year.  And, the best part is that they are very inexpensive to make.  All of the items can be purchased at 30 - 50 % off at Hobby Lobby.
 What handmade Christmas gifts are you making this year?

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Cookies

Posted by Lori:

Christmas time is a time for baking homemade goodies to share with friends and enjoy during gatherings with family and friends.  Below is a listing of all of our cookie recipes we've posted since June 2009.  Maybe this will help you as you plan your menus in the next few weeks.

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies!

Oatmeal Chocolate Florentine Cookies
Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cute as a Button Cookies
Magical Peanut Butter Cookies
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Valentine Cookies (change to Christmas cookies using a different shaped cookie cutter.)
Pumpkin Cookies
Crispy No-Bake Cookies
Pecan Fingers
Peanut Butter Criss Crosses
Banana Oatmeal Cookies
Cake Mix Cookies
Peppermint Thumbprints
Chocolate Chip Doozies
Cream Wafer Sandwiches (These are my favorite, in case you want to send me some :)
Butterscotch Thins
Choco-Caramel Delights
7 Layer Magic Cookie Bars

This post is linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Tasty Tuesday.
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Popsicle Stick Reindeer Ornament

Posted by Lori:

This cute little reindeer ornament is simple to make and will be perfect for our elementary school Christmas party this Friday.  You can't tell it but the popsicle sticks have been painted a light brown color (thanks to my husband for painting over 500 of them for me!!).  You can use them plain or painted dark brown, as well.
This craft is very inexpensive, so is perfect for large groups.  It has cost less than $20.00 for all of the supplies for 150 kits.  Not bad at all!

Popsicle Stick Reindeer Ornament

3 popsicle sticks (plain or painted)
1 small red pom pom ball
2 googly eyes
Glue (I used glue dots)
Holly decoration (if desired
1 brown pipe cleaner, cut in half
1 piece of ribbon

Glue two popsicle sticks to form a "V" shape.  Glue third popsicle stick to the top of the "V" shape, coming down 1/4 to 1/2 inch.  Glue red pom pom ball on bottom of "V".  Glue eyes on each side of the "V", about half-way down the stick.  Glue holly in the center of the top popsicle stick. Wrap each half of the pipe cleaner around top ends of "V" shape and curl to make antlers.  Finish by gluing a ribbon loop or hanger onto the ornament so that it can be easily hung.
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mini Corn Dogs

Posted by Lori:

I remember making these Mini Corn Dogs sooooo many times before we had children, but now that we've been parents for 16 years and have four kiddos, I've not made them once.  I think it's because they get an occasional corn dog or hot dog at ballgames, fairs, and things like that, so I don't want our "home-cooked" meals to be that same kind of cuisine.  Although, when I think about it, a lot of the quick foods I serve from time to time are about the same equivalent in nutrition to these little snacks.  Not necessarily the best in nutrition, but certainly pleasing to the tastes of children.....and most likely many adults, too!

Mini Corn Dogs

2/3 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons oil
8 to 10 wieners
Oil for deep frying

Cut wieners into thirds.  Combine cornmeal, flour, and salt in medium bowl.  Mix well.  Stir in milk, egg, and 2 teaspoons oil.  With toothpicks, dip wieners into batter.  Deep fry in 375 degree oil until brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Keep warm in 200 degree oven until ready to serve.
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bread Pudding

Posted by Lori, via my brother-in-law, Ken.....who also happens to be a GREAT COOK!!!

Ken made this last week and said it was, in his words, "incredible".  I can't wait to try it myself!  I don't recall that I've ever made bread pudding.

Bread Pudding
Servings: 8

3 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
7 large eggs
5 large egg yolks
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 cups bread, cut into 1 inch cubes

Note: Bread can be any non-savory firm textured bread. Avoid soft supermarket bread as it makes pudding mushy and avoid rustic crusty loaves with open crumb as it doesn't absorb and yields too firm a pudding. Ken used a stale apple fritter bread that had been frozen.  Whole wheat cinnamon raisin works well, but a brioche or challah (Note from Lori:  I don't even know what those two are!!) work the best.

Prep Time: 20 mins       Total Time: 1 1/2 hrs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13x9 baking dish. Whisk milk and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile scrape vanilla bean into milk mixture and throw in pods. Heat to steaming, but not boiling. Discard vanilla pods. Whisk eggs and yolks in a large bowl, gradually add 2 cups of hot milk mixture, then pour egg mixture into the saucepan with the hot milk. Strain and whisk in cream. Spread bread cubes in prepared dish. Slowly pour custard over bread being sure to saturate all of the bread. Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 hour or until a small knife inserted in the center of the pudding comes out clean. Serve warm or chilled with whipped cream or caramel sauce.

Note: you can add raisins, currents, dried cranberries, sour cherries or any other dried fruit you like. (Ken did not because the bread he used had fruit in it. Note from Lori:  I won't use raisins, because it's a sin! (Just my devotional post about raisins and the Nazarite vow here.)


1 stick of butter
1 egg
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 cup of water
1/8 teaspoon rum extract

Combine all ingredients In a sauce pan and heat until sugar dissolves and almost boils. Drizzle over each serving.

And finally, Ken says, "YUM!"  That's it, folks!
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Decorated Clothespin Magnets

Posted by Donna:

Back in the summer, one of my magazines showed a fun way to decorate clothespins and use them for refrigerator magnets. I put a lot of "bling" on these just for fun.


Assorted material

All-purpose Elmer's glue

Modge podge

Triple Thick by Deco Art (Hobby Lobby)

Peel and stick stones


First, cut the material to fit both sides of the clothespins. Glue the material on both sides with Elmer's glue. After the material has dried, put a layer of Modge Podge on top. Once that has dried, put on several layers of the Triple Thick---let each coat dry before covering with the next one. The Triple Thick needs to set for 24 hours before adding the stones. Add a magnet on the back of each one. (The pictures really don't show the stones very well; so, you have to use your imagination as to what they look like.)

This would be a great craft for kids to do--especially with the use of all the "bling." These also make really cute and inexpensive gifts or stocking stuffers.
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Snowball Ornaments

Posted by Lori:

This is another craft "recipe" for you.  It seems that during this time of year, we try more new crafts than new recipes, but it's fun to try new things, whatever it may be.

These snowball ornaments were my homemade gift for my husband's side of the family last year. 

Snowball Ornaments

Glass or plastic ornaments (clear or frosted)
Snow Tex Paint
Assorted ribbons

Paint ornaments with a thick coat of Snow Tex Paint.  Make it thicker in some areas, thinner in others.  Sprinkle with irredescant glitter while wet, if desired.  Hang ornament on a hook and allow it to dry.  Cut pieces of assorted ribbons, tying them through the top of the ornament.  Make one ribbon the loop for hanging the ornament.
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Pillowcases

Posted by Donna:

In the last two months, I've made 21 pillowcases. Fourteen of these have been for Christmas. I decided to make one for each of our grandchildren to use as stocking stuffers. I also made some for a few of our church members that are in one of our Assisted Living Centers.

They're quick to make and lots of fun to coordinate the material for each one. I used different patterns for each grandchild. I'm only showing four of them.

A few weeks ago, my aunt had me make pillowcases for her four grandchildren. She wanted the patterns to be about what each child really liked; so, they were patterns of sports, race cars, dogs, and butterflies with pink polka dots. Finding all of these different prints took some doing; but, after searching and searching all the bolts of material, I finally found some really cute prints.

Pillowcases are a very inexpensive gift for anyone. Several months back, I made an OU case for my uncle and a rooster case for a very good friend who collects roosters. They loved them.

I also made several for graduation gifts---which by the way, I'm doing again for all the graduation gifts this year.
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Little Smokies Wraps

Posted by Lori:

This is one of our favorite recipes.  As I was looking through our appetizer recipes on here, I couldn't believe I hadn't ever posted this two-ingredient, easy treat!  Because I usually am making a LOT of whatever snack I'm making, I'm not sure what the right proportions should be so I'm guessing a little.

Little Smokies Wraps
1 package Little Smokies (we like all beef)
2 tubes of crescent rolls

Preheat oven to crescent roll package directions.  Place paper towel into medium bowl and pour Little Smokies into bowl.  The paper towel will help drain the juices.  Unroll crescent rolls, but instead of tearing apart each perforation to make individual rolls as indication on the package, press two triangle rolls together making a rectangle shaped piece of dough.  Cut rectangle into thirds length-wise as well as cross-wise.  You will have 9 pieces of dough per rectangle.  Form dough around the middle section of each of the Little Smokies, keeping ends open.  Bake until golden brown (I think about 15 minutes).
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