Friday, November 30, 2012

It's the Start of Preparing for Christmas!

So Thanksgiving is over!  How was mine?  It was good, depends on how you look at it.  As you're aware my in-laws came over for dinner.  They said they enjoyed the meal and appreciated everything I did for them.  The turkey was done early (earlier than expected) and was falling off of the tasted a little dry to me, and hubby agreed, but the gravy made it taste just fine.  The potatoes were a first for me and I added a little too much salt, but they tasted quite fine.  Everything else was delicious, although I felt stressed and overwhelmed.  My mother-in-law made an apple pie and they brought a bottle of wine that they loved and is very hard to find here in New Hampshire.  This wine is one that my father-in-law wanted for my wedding to his son after we had it at my mother-in-law's parents 50th wedding anniversary in 2007 in Florida.  I didn't have any because I haven't had alcohol in over 3 years, so I figured I've gone this long without it, why drink it if I don't want to.  I didn't have any in Florida either since I was driving a rental car.  Anyways, the kids loved seeing my in-laws and it was a nice evening.

On "Black Friday", I stayed home and didn't do anything since hubby had to work and to be honest I didn't feel like going out with both my kids in tow to all the stores.  But Friday night hubby was flustered with the kids and I was on the phone with my mom and she heard him in the background and offered to come over with my sister and watch the kids for a couple of hours.  We agreed to it and while she and my sister watched the kids, we went Christmas shopping, with what little money we had to at least buy them some gifts.  While we were gone, my mom and sister cleaned the kids' closet out and got rid of a lot of things that we didn't need nor wanted.  She put all the "baby stuff" (swing, pack-n-play, etc.) in the closet and the kids toys were put throughout their room.  They also cleaned out the kids' toy box and cleaned up my kitchen, and did some dishes.  They also put the kids to bed for us.  After being out for 3 hours and going to 2 stores we bought all that we could for gifts.  We arrived home and showed my mom and sister what we purchased because I wanted to be sure that we didn't get any duplicates.  Out of everything we purchased we only got 1 item that my mom had purchased and neither one of us are returning it because the one we bought will be for here at home and the one my mom got will be kept at her house.

Now am I done shopping, yes and no.  I am done as far as I can tell, but we are taking it paycheck by paycheck to see if we have any extra money to buy some stocking stuffers for us (both hubby and me).  The kids and I have also started to make presents for family.  Which is the purpose of this post.  Next Sunday, the 2nd of December, is the First Sunday of Advent.  I asked Little Man if he was ready for Advent.  Now he's almost 3 and I know he really doesn't understand the term Advent, so I re-phrased it by asking him if he wanted to start preparing for Baby Jesus' birth.  Right after I said Baby Jesus' his eyes lit up and he told me in his own way yes.  It brings tears to my eyes when he lights up over Jesus.  At church on Sunday mornings, he loves seeing Jesus and waves at him.  I'm so grateful, but at the same time so sad because hubby isn't there sharing in this special time.  He hates going to church and makes it seem like I drag him when we attend on Christmas Eve, that's the only time he goes.  I worry that as my children grow older they will use the excuse if daddy doesn't have to go, then why should I.  I worry about it, but hope that my son and daughter will always want to go with me to church, besides they get to see my parents for extra time when they go.  

Yesterday started the homemade gifts and crafts for Christmas in our house.  We made salt dough hand prints for family members.  To make enough salt dough for 24 hand prints I used:
  1. 8 Cups of All-Purpose Flour
  2. 3 1/4 Cups of HOT Water
  3. 2 Cups of regular table Salt
I took all the ingredients and mixed them in a mixing bowl with a spoon, once most of the water was absorbed and started to form a dough, I then used my hands and continued to mix it until it was a complete ball of dough.  I noticed that after adding the extra 1/4 Cup of Water that it was a little sticky so I just added a little more flour (like an 1/8 of a Cup) to make it less sticky.  After kneading it for a few minutes, I started to roll it out in small batches and used a cereal bowl to make the circle shapes for the kids to put their hand prints in.  Then one child at a time I did their hand prints.  Little man was very cooperative, however, Precious Butterfly was more difficult and I had to re-roll many of them because she dug her fingers into the dough causing holes.  But once I got them all pressed, there was leftover dough (I needed to make a total of 22 hand prints) I was planning on making salt dough ornaments for our tree, but I ran out of time.

I put all the hand prints on Reynolds Non-Stick Foil on top of my cookie sheets.  I then pricked, using a toothpick, some little holes in them to help avoid additional bubbling, I pricked the kids' names and the year.  I left them to start drying overnight and this morning I baked them in a preheated 300 degree oven for 20 minutes.  I let them sit overnight because most of the comments I read from other people that used different salt dough recipes was that they cracked and bubbled and weren't dry after cooking in the oven.  So I figured give them a head start on drying and then bake them in the oven.  I can say that they're looking great!  They are dry and cooling right now on the stove.  Here's what they look like after coming out of the oven:
So that's what they look like after hardening overnight and cooking in the oven for 20 minutes.  There was a little bubbling here and there, but they look great.  I'm planning on painting them and putting the kids' names and the year on them.  Once they're dry, we'll be sending 2 of the sets to Florida to hubby's grandparents as gifts from the kids.  I won't go into who's getting them, just in case they read know who you are!!!
Anyways, this is just the start of activities for us and it certainly won't be the last!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

It's Official! My Thanksgiving Menu For 2012

Alright, I've decided and have my menu all set.  So here it goes:

We are going to be having:
  • Turkey ~ Roasted in the roaster that I've borrowed from my mom.  It should cook no problem and I'll probably season it since I haven't found any recipe's that I'm interested in trying
  • Stuffing ~ Stove Top Turkey Stuffing that I will cook in the oven
  • Gravy ~ Turkey gravy for everyone, but Precious Butterfly, for her I will have Pork Gravy for her to have
  • Green Bean Casserole ~ This is a staple at the holidays.
  • Frozen Steamed Green Beans ~ Mainly for Precious Butterfly, but for me too
  • Frozen Steamed Sweet Yellow Corn ~ This is for everyone
  • Mashed/Whipped Potatoes ~ Creamy yummy and from real potatoes, not the pre-packaged dried stuff, I plan on removing some for Precious Butterfly before adding the milk and problably using the pork gravy as I would use the milk in the regular potatoes.
  • Cranberry Sauce ~ No Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without it.  I prefer the jellied cranberry sauce rather than the whole cranberry sauce, so I have 2 cans of that, according to hubby he could eat 1 can alone...
  • Rolls ~ Yes traditionally I'd do the white and wheat rolls, but with Precious Butterfly's allergies, I decided on using Pillsbury Crescent Rolls...yes they are 100% safe for her and she like to eat them
  • Drinks ~ Well, we have milk, soda, and water.  However the in-laws are bring a bottle of wine, beer (father-in-law loves his beer and hubby doesn't drink it), and probably some diet soda that mother-in-law can drink.
  • Desserts ~ Well mother-in-law is making an apple pie, I'm not a fan of her apple pie since she puts raisins in it and Precious Butterfly can't have it, so I am planning on making mini hand-held apple turnovers for Precious Butterfly and anyone else that would like one.
  • Appetizers ~ Well I didn't have the stuff to make stuffed mushrooms, but I do have the stuff to make Crab Ragoons and I have a block of Cabot's Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese and Crackers to go with it if needed.  I figure that should be enough, besides there will be plenty of food.
This completes my menu for Thanksgiving!  I hope all of you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Will Our Luck Ever Change????

So Thursday morning I'm asleep in bed and hubby had left for work.  The kids were both sleeping and I heard my phone starting to vibrate.  I'm like great what happened now? 

2 weeks ago hubby got pulled over and got a ticket for littering...he threw a lit cigarette out his window and a state trooper pulled him over...the ticket was $297.60.  He was very angry and called me like 26 times that morning as I slept through his calls.  So needless to say, last Thursday he stayed home with a headache, more like a migraine.  Then this past Thursday morning at 6:30am I awoke and the first thing I said to hubby was "This better be good." as exhausted as I was.  He informed me that he was stuck on the side of the of the road and that his car, mind you our only vehicle, stalled and won't restart.  I told him to hang tight and I'd figure out what to do...

My first call was to my dad, a former mechanic who still works on our cars as needed (he has either my hubby or my sister's hubby do most of the work with his guidance), he was on his way to work and told me to get it towed.  So next I called our car insurance carrier since we have roadside assistance. and got connected with a very nice lady who arranged the whole  service.  She arranged to have the car picked up and towed to any place of my choice.  Well I didn't want to send it to a garage and have my hubby stuck at a garage since I don't have a car.  So I asked to have it towed home, the lady informed me that my policy only covers the first 15 miles anything else outside of that I am responsible for.  I agreed and requested that my hubby and the car be towed to my parent's house so that my dad could try to fix it rather than take it to a garage and have to pay an outrageous amount of money for it to be looked at and fixed.  We don't have the money nor the time available to do that because we only have one car.  So my brother-in-law looked at it with my hubby on Thursday and the decision wasn't good...they both thought the timing belt broke. 

Thursday afternoon my in-laws were leaving for the weekend to go to Maine.  I told hubby to call his parents and find out if we needed a new car if his dad would co-borrow for a loan.  His dad agreed and I tried to have him get the process started before they left since Friday hubby needed a car to go to work.  Well my father-in-law told hubby he could borrow his truck since they were taking their other vehicle to Maine.  I thought great a gas guzzler for the weekend, but his dad filled the tank and dropped it off on Thursday afternoon before they left.  So Friday morning hubby took the truck, as I call it the behemoth, to work.

Friday night, my dad confirmed what we thought was wrong...the timing belt in the engine I like to say kaput.  My dad said that 3 out of the four cylinders in the engine failed the compression test, so now it's going to cost an estimated $500 or so dollars to fix it.  I don't have that much money lying around so I said let's get a new car we have no choice.  My husband didn't believe me, but talked to his dad since we needed a car.  His dad said to go car shopping and on Monday after he gets out of work, he'd stop at the dealership and sign the papers if we found a car that we could afford.

Saturday morning we dropped the kids off at my parent's house so we could go look for cars without having to worry about feeding the kids and naps for them.  I was worried about leaving Precious Butterfly, it was my first time leaving her since she was born, but I did it and it actually wasn't that bad...anyways, we went to see a friend of mine's husband at the dealership he worked at and we looked at the cars.  The first was a 2010 Honda was nice, bigger than the Accent we have.  The gas mileage was ok, the car seats would fit no problem...but Friday night hubby saw a 2011 Honda Insight and asked about that one too.  So we test drove the Civic and then we looked at the Insight.  I love the Insight due to the gas mileage...fitting 4 adults in the car, that wouldn't work, but the 2 car seats fit fine.  So we both decided that we loved the Insight and that it was the best bang for our money.  Now rolling over the current loan on the Accent, that wasn't really an option.  We decided to just finance the Insight because if we couldn't afford both payments, at least my father-in-law's credit wouldn't be hurt and due to my father-in-law's excellent credit, they let us take the car home Saturday afternoon, with the dealer plates on it until all the papers are signed on Monday (today) afternoon.  Hubby left after he signed all of his paperwork to go and pick up the kids from my mom (I'm not allowed nor do I want to drive my father-in-law's truck)...they needed naps and wanted to go home.  I stayed to get the car.  I was a nice smooth ride home and I can say that I absolutely love it. 

Today hubby is getting out of work early and going to meet his dad at the dealership to sign the papers and make the car officially ours.  We might go too since we, the kids and I, are always stuck in the house.  Hubby and I will decide once he gets out of work if we're going or not.  I have a few errands I need to run so I need to go out anyways. 

I can say that if it weren't for my in-laws, me and hubby would be, well actually I have no idea where we'd be right hubby has said "if it weren't for the bad luck, we'd have no luck at all."  I tend to agree with him, we just can't get out of this bad luck rut.  I hope to be able to before Christmas so that we can buy the kids some presents.  Fingers crossed that everything will be ok for us. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving Part 2, I Still Have No Idea What's Going On...

So after talking with my mom, she's decided that she's staying home and not hosting that begs the question why not have her over...well I offered and she declined.  I can see how she would want to be alone with my dad after all they've hosted the holiday as far back as I can remember.  I told her that she and my dad are welcome to come for dinner, but she has declined. 

Now as for my nana, grandpa, sister, and brother-in-law, I have no idea if they will be joining us for Thanksgiving dinner.  With all that has happened with my grandpa, he's in the hospital and it is unknown if he will be home for Thanksgiving.  I have been praying for him and that he gets better, but so far he isn't improving.  I don't think my nana will be hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, but my sister is a great cook and she might do it for her.  I haven't spoken to them to see what they want to do, but I will talk to them at some point this weekend.

So I think that I will finalize my menu in a few more days...but on a positive note, I don't have to buy a roaster, my mom is going to let me borrow her roaster.  That frees up my oven for all the additional cooking I must do I just need to find the counter space for the roaster.  It's going to be tough, but I know I can handle it.  My kitchen is not that big and counter space is limited. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thanksgiving Menu (Part 1)

So since my in-laws have accepted the invite to join us for dinner my wonderful husband and I have decided what to serve.  The recipes for these items will follow as I narrow down how I'm planning on preparing the items.

We obviously will have a turkey, how big, I'm not sure yet since I'm not 100% on how many are coming to dinner.  My mom will decide at some point this week as to if she will or will not host her usual Thanksgiving meal.  Will I brine the turkey?  That's a good question, I'm not sure yet, I need to look around for inspiration and ideas.  How will I cook the turkey, I'm not sure because out of everything I have for cooking, the one of a few things that I could use, a roasting pan is not in my kitchen.  Which to buy, an electric roaster or a roasting pan that goes in the oven?  I need to talk to hubby to decide which one to get.

Now I am planning on making stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer and crab ragoons too.  I find that you may say your Precious Butterfly is allergic to dairy, how is that safe for her.  Well for her she will have either her graham crackers or some applesauce.  The crab ragoons recipe comes from a Pinterest recipe that I found, but I've changed it a little bit to suit my hubby's tastes.  More on that coming soon :)

SO...for side dishes we've chosen:
  • Green bean Casserole, a staple at my family dinners.  I make it with canned green beans, cream of mushroom soup, salt, pepper, milk, and French's Fried Onions.  I follow the instructions on the French's container.  I know this isn't safe for Precious Butterfly, but I have something else for her...see the next item!
  • Steamed frozen green beans, these are just your typical frozen green beans, however, I steam them and add Earth Balance Buttery Spread to them (that buttery spread is 100% safe for Precious Butterfly)
  • Steamed Sweet Yellow Corn, just like the frozen green beans and I add the same buttery spread.
  • Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, they are 100% safe for Precious Butterfly, she loves to eat them, and super yummy for us all!
  • Mashed Potatoes or Whipped Potatoes, whichever way you think of them, I will whip them with my hand mixer add butter and milk to make them very creamy.  Yes these are not safe for Precious Butterfly, so she won't get to enjoy them this year, maybe in a few years.
  • Cranberry Sauce, this is always present and she seems to like it when I've served it to her during our roasted chicken dinners.  I buy the canned stuffed and it's the jelly, not the one with the actual chunks of cranberries.
  • Now as for gravy, Precious Butterfly cannot have both Chicken Gravy and Turkey Gravy, they both contain milk, so we've opted for Pork Gravy.  It is very yummy with chicken, I bet it will be yummy with the turkey too!  I probably will have regular turkey gravy too for those that want it.
  • Now as for stuffing, I am making Stove Top Turkey Stuffing, it's safe for precious Butterfly since I use the Earth Balance Buttery Spread in it and I am going to make it then, toss it in a baking dish and place it in the oven to crisp it up! I don't like to stuff my turkey, it usually takes longer to cook besides I like my stuffing crunchy and so does my hubby. 
That ends the side dishes for Thanksgiving, however, this menu is not set in stone and could change if I need to.  I am planning on offering drinks of the following: soda, milk, water, juice, and wine.   What kind of wine might you ask?  I haven't decided yet.  And I'm sure my in-laws will probably bring their own stuff to drink since we don't have diet soda nor beer in our home.

I'm planning on having dinner ready for 6pm that day!  I'm hoping that all goes well, I'll be posting part 2, with recipes in the coming days and announcing my plan for Thanksgiving Day.

Friday, November 9, 2012


It's that time of year again...this month, in less than 2 weeks it will be Thanksgiving Day.  I cannot believe how fast the year has flown by.  I cannot believe that this will be the first year that I have to adjust our plans. 

Typically my in-laws go to Maine to see my father-in-law's brother and his family.  My brother-in-law stays with his girlfriend and her family.  My parents usually host a dinner, which we attend.  Things are changing this year...

Due to Precious Butterfly's food allergies, I am not taking any chances nor am I going to create a meal just for her to eat while the rest of us eat a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  It's not fair to her and not fair to me to have to worry about a completely separate meal.  Last year at this time she was only 3 months old so she was only having my breast milk.  This is going to be her first time having Thanksgiving dinner.  I don't want to ruin that for her by not allowing her to enjoy the meal with the rest of us. 

So this is what's going on for this year:
       ~My mother-in-law is working that day so they aren't going to Maine
       ~My brother-in-law is staying with his girlfriend and her family as he always does.
       ~My parents don't know what they are doing; they will either host a dinner or they are going to go to see my aunt and her kids at my aunt's boyfriend's house (typically my aunt and her kids come for Thanksgiving dinner, but no this year)
       ~My grandfather (my dad's father) is flying out to Ohio to see my dad's youngest sister and her family, they just moved out there for my uncle's job promotion, he'll be gone until December 1st. 
       ~If my parent's don't do a dinner, my Nana and Grandpa (my mom's mom and Step-dad) will host a dinner for my sister and her husband and me and my family.  Unfortunately to go to her house, we have to bring Precious Butterfly's high chair (it won't fit in our tiny car) so we can't go.

That's all I know of so far, so I've decided that to be nice, although I don't have the greatest relationship with my in-laws, to host a Thanksgiving dinner and to invite them.  This way I can control what is cooked and make dinner as safe for Precious Butterfly as I can and my in-laws can see us for Thanksgiving without having us travel to their home since we really can't.  I also told my Nana that if my parents don't host a dinner they can come to my house and have dinner with us.  That way I don't have to travel and I can ensure that all the food is as safe as possible for Precious Butterfly.

In the coming days I'll start to plan my dinner menu and I'll post about what I'll make and how to make some of the items.  I'll also be posting recipes on my allergy blog that I will be making for Precious Butterfly.