Thursday, November 29, 2012

Apple/ Pumpkin Butter

I have a wonderful idea for a holiday gift for you!  It's easy, it's inexpensive, and it's delish!  It's apple pumpkin butter!!!!!

Here is the simplest gift you will ever make (besides those slice and bake Pillsbury cookies).

 Here are my ingredients.  The only ingredient not pictured is brown sugar.  You will pour the entire applesauce container, both cans of pumpkin, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 tsp nutmeg, and 1 Tbl cinnamon into a large pot.
 Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to medium/ low heat.  Let simmer for about 1 hour, then spoon into mason jars, and tie with a cute tag, or ribbon.
 These will stay fresh in the fridge for about 2 weeks.  They make great hostess gifts, gifts for neighbors, gifts for coworkers, gifts for teachers, or they make a scrumptious snack for you!  It is so good on bagels, toast, waffles, pancakes, or with a spoon straight out of the jar...shhhhhhh.......
Add, subtract, or adjust the amounts of the cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar to your taste.  I was able to get 8 jars of the pumpkin butter from my recipe.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 16, 2012

4 Helpful tips for Hostessing

Today I'm coming to you with a few tips to make your holidays less stressful and more joyful.
Like I mentioned in my previous post, I have about 5 to-do lists going right now. Thankfully, I marked off several items from the list this morning, so I'm feeling pretty good right now. Since Jamie and I have been married, we have hosted countless parties and get-togethers. I could tell some stories about "the good, the bad, and the ugly" pertaining to the parties we've hosted. I have not always been the planner that I am now, and I've definitely stressed myself out far too many times to count. I used to leave everything to be done on the actual day of the party: House cleaning, food prep, baking, cooking, etc.  Now that I have 2 kids, there's no way I can get by with that kind of procrastination. So, below are a few ideas and tips for planning ahead in order to make your life just a little bit easier.

Tip #1: I've learned to plan my menu in advance, making sure that it consists of several make-ahead items that can either be frozen until the day of the party/dinner, or refrigerated in an air-tight container.
Next week we will have 13 people under our roof for Thanksgiving. My Thanksgiving menu is planned, but here's the kicker....they are going to want to eat on all the other days they're here, too! What??? So, I've been prepping and planning. I have 2 lasagnas already prepared and waiting in my freezer. I'm planning to cook a dutch oven full of chili this weekend to freeze, and I have lots of sandwich fixins in my refrigerator. I have several other meals planned that will need to be cooked the day we will eat them, but it's nice to know that I can pull out the lasagnas and chili when I'm not feeling like cooking a full meal. This past week we had vegetable soup and cornbread for dinner one night. Trying to think ahead, I made a double batch of cornbread so that I could freeze half to use in my Thanksgiving dressing next week. This weekend I'm going to go ahead and make a pecan pie to freeze. Use your freezer, people! If you don't have a second freezer, I would highly recommend purchasing one. I bought mine several years ago at a garage sale for less than $100, and it is seriously one of the best purchases I've ever made.

Tip #2: Clean your house the day BEFORE company is coming or the day BEFORE you're hosting a party. If you wake up on "game day" and your house is already clean, you will be in a much better state of mind to work on the food prep and actually ENJOY hosting people in your home. If you haven't prepared in advance, and you are running around trying to clean and cook, you will be a nutcase by the time your company arrives. Trust me, I speak from experience.

Tip #3: This may sound silly, but allow time for yourself. Plan your party outfit in advance. Allow time to enjoy getting yourself ready for your party. After-all, you are the one who opted to host a party or company in your home, you should enjoy it the MOST!

Tip #4: Relax and Have fun! Like I said in my earlier post, the holiday season is not all about making yourself look like the perfect Martha Stewart. The holiday season IS about generosity towards others, making memories with your family and friends, and enjoying each tradition, whether old or new.

My wish for each of our readers is this: May you be overwhelmed with Joy and Gratitude as you celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday next week. No matter what your situation may be, I pray that your blessings be innumerable and your heart always humble.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What is your Holiday plan?

"Those who fail to plan, plan to fail". As the holidays are fast approaching, we are all busy making plans. Plans for company to arrive, plans for parties to host or attend, meal plans, etc. I have at least 5 lists going right now with all my planning. I don't want to fail as a hostess, but am I setting myself up to fail in other areas? I think that we oftentimes spread ourselves too thin during this time of year. Although we may throw a fabulous christmas party or truly be the Thanksgiving "hostess with the mostess", we fail to see the "big picture". In my life, the big picture is trying to glorify God as a wife and mother. Am I going to allow all of my planning, all of my to-do lists to get in my way as a wife and mom? Am I going to allow the stresses of having a big house to keep clean, parties to host and attend, cookies to bake, gifts to buy and wrap, keep me from my real purpose? My husband and two children are far more important than what's baking in my oven or how "Martha Stewart-like" my christmas tree looks. I want to continue to succeed as a caring and nurturing wife and mother, while trying to balance the plate I've set for myself during the next few weeks. I am pledging to step back and relax, to really enjoy the magic of the holiday season thru the eyes of my children, and to worry a little less about the dust on my coffee table and my kitchen floor that needs to be mopped.
And by the way, if you want to know the quickest way to have your kitchen smelling fabulous, all you need to do is dump cinnamon all over your counters and floor. Instant Success!