Thursday, December 30, 2010

The New Year! Full Speed Ahead!!

It's that Ol resolution time again...
So, what will you resolve to do?

Eat better?
Lose Christmas pounds?

Aidan, our youngest son, last year.

Pay off debt?
Make better use of your time?
Prioritize your time?
Have daily devotions (reading the Word and praying)? 
Give your kids more hugs?
Our youngest son this summer, flying around.... in his dreams. :)
Spend even more quality time playing games or going for bike rides?

Maybe you want to finish something?
That quilt you started for so-and-so...?
That painting project?
The walls still need finished getting painted!
Keep up on housework better?

Or maybe it's about money.
You want to pay off your debts?
Resolve to not use credit cards?
Make a plan to be better off financially- even if it means giving some things up!

Our boys wishing they could jump in and get going! It might take a take a tank to blaze through some things but we'll get there!

Start really using the Dave Ramsey plan?

Go to church more often?
Be involved in your groups or church more?

Catch up with friends more often?
Stay home more?
Try some new crafty project? A new techinique?

This looks like some strange poem, or list. Wait!! It's just about everything I need to do better! haha Some things we're good with but this is probably generally what most people want to do better, right?

The first thing I'm doing is a Biggest Loser Challenge with friends. There are more than 20 of us I think. It costs $20 to join in and winner takes all! (Based on your percentage of weight lost.) If you've been waiting for a good reason to start exercising or doing ANY or your new year's resolutions, try starting a group. Our's is just for 8 weeks! That's my kind of challenge! There's an end to it! But even though there's an end to the official challenge, I can still keep off weight and do better with exercising! We eat relatively healthy I think, so it's more about being active and portions. 

I went to the Dr. a couple of weeks ago and there was a sign in the room that said, "The American Diet" and showed a picture of a cheeseburger, fries and pop. Seriously?? Is THAT the average American diet? Reheated frozen fries and a cheeseburger?  I understand eating that way several times during the summer but I really thought the average diet had a veggie, some meat, some good carbs and water or milk. Wow. I'm naive! haha I know there's times when you need something conveneient but.... OK, I'll stop ranting now. I just couldn't believe that's "average".

I can't WAIT to get my garden going again!! I've been missing it this winter!
So, has this given you any ideas? What are your resolutions? This is a great "reset" button that we can use to start fresh. I love it!

Unfortunately, my husbnad was the ONLY tacky sweater -wearing guy at our Real Life Face Book Christmas Party. He's really a much better dresser. One of his best friend's won the Best Dressed award!
Happy New Year my friends!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Indulgence!

I just finished up the only Christmas baking I'll be doing... besides the requested dinner rolls for my dad's side of the family.

These bite -sized treats are not in the least healthy. Don't be fooled by the peanuts or coconut. (Although maybe that makes up for the sugar and butter!) hahaha

The first photos are of Coconut Balls (tastes like an Almond Joy!). The last photos are of the Peanut Butter Balls

Coconut Balls
2 cups coconut
1 tsp vanilla
1/2-1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1 can Eagle Brand Sweetenend Condensed Milk
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 pound bag powdered sugar
1/2 tsp almond oil- SECRET ingredient

Chocolate Dip
2 bags chocolate chips
1/4 bar paraffin wax or 1/4 cup Crisco

Mix coconut, nuts and butter in a large bowl. (I used a Kitchen Aid because it was awfully thick!) Add vanilla, almond extract, and milk with hands (if you don't use a mixer). Then add the sugar a fwe cups at a time and mix until stiff. You can also put your hand in a Ziploc bag to avoid your hands getting all sticky.  Roll into balls using your hands or a 1 teaspooon -cookie scoop.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Lay out a sheet-pan sized piece of waxed paper.

Melt chocolate and wax (or Crisco) in a small glass bowl in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring in between each heating. (To keep from overheating your chocolate, heat minimally. My microwave heats 1 cup in a bout 1 full minute. Overheating your chocolate will result in a gritty-textured chocolate that will not be suitable for dipping. I know this from experience!) Poke ball with toothpick and dip into chocolate. Set dipped balls on wax paper and let dry. Store in refrigerator and enjoy! 

Coconut Ball mixture. This Pampered Chef Scoop works so well for
 this job!

I would scoop the right size ... 

and my son would help with perfecting the ball. 

He's a great helper!!

See? (Hands are washed, of course!)

I love these scoops!!

We ended up with 88 coconut balls! Sorry the picture is bright but I wanted to include the shot of the heavenly bites!

And here's the Peanut Butter Balls.....mmmmm Our favorite! This filling is much softer than the Coconut Ball Filling. It really needs refrigerating for it to work well.

Peanut Butter Balls

Cream together and then chill at least 30 minutes:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup chopped nuts (optional or just use crunchy peanut butter)
1 tsp vanilla

Roll into balls. Lay down waxed paper. Melt 1 pkg chocolate chips and 1/4 bar of paraffin wax in a small glass bowl in the microwave at 30-second intervals. (Stirring after each heating) Dip chilled peanut butter ball into melted chocolate, by using a toothpick. Lay on waxed paper to cool. Store in refrigerator.

This recipe made about 1/3 of what the other made. I suggest doubling this one if you like peanut butter.

I know, I know... you can see the lumps of powdered sugar. O well. They are still worth eating! LOL

We rolled out all of the balls, cooled them and then started the dipping the next day! (Today!!) Here is what I ended up using for the chocolate dip. 1/2 Dark Cocoa Candy Melts and 1/2 Dark Chocolate Chips with a small amount of Crisco. (Probably about the ratio of what the recipe says.)

Here's where I melted the 3 together.  (Can you tell I lost my helper? He was busy puting birthday Lego's together!) The chocolate should be a little lumpy after it's heated and then you just stir until it's mixed. If you overheat it... that's not good.

See? All better. These little Prep Bowls from Pampered Chef work well for this job.

Poke the toothpick into the Peanut Butter ball....

...completely covering it, and set is gently onto waxed paper.

This was my first try.  The rule in our house is that we have to eat the ugly ones first and save the others for giving away. A few were eaten tonight! haha

I tried a fork with the Peanut Butter Balls because it was getting too soft. A toothpick just works better actually.

And here they are! Topped with a single peanut!

Here's the Coconut balls... See how there's an ugly spot on the top? That was from using a toothpick. Just set a few flakes of coconut on top, or a nut for the peanut butter ones and they look much better!

Sorry... if you were here, I would have shared.

Speaking of sharing, my friend left these on my doorstep today. This is just what's left. When we arrived home we devoured them, not even knowing who made them till later. When I realized they were from my friend Jana, (a great cook!!), that made them even better!  I cut some in half so that we could taste each one. Those cheesecake ones in the back were one of my favorites!

Plus, she found some vintage potholders and left them for me too. How did she know that I would have a perfect spot for them above my sink? Thank you Jana!

Merry Christmas to all!
Happy Birthday to our son Aidan!
Thank you Lord, for sending Your Son for us!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Birthday's Can Be Fun Too!

Our son is turning 6 this week and LOVES Lego's. Check out the cake I made for him today!

  Step 1. Bake the cake. Make the frosting. Cut the excess off the edges (and the crusty parts).  

Step 2. Crumb coat the cake. refrigerate for 30 minutes and then frost.
This is the fun part! The decorating! We (the birthday boy and I) decided on a Christmas-y Lego guy theme with snow!
"It's fun being 6!"

 Han Solo is sledding down the hill, but I'm thinking he was pushed!

Sledding, snowball fights, making snow angels, decorating the tree.... it's all happening here!

Don't ya love the snow ball piles? I was trying to decide what type of border to create and I like the random-ness of the piles rather than a perfect snowball border. 

Here's a close-up for the tree decorating. Storm Troopers are great at lighting the tree--- all while the lazy guy is laying there making a snow angel!  

Sledding! Wheeeeee!

How would you like to be in a snowball fight with this guy? YOUCH! At least she got him back!

Here's on of the guys hiding from another with a little bit of ammo.

And here's the victim! Poor cop! There's just no respect these days!
Our birthday boy with his very own pizza!

I had to get him this hat! What a dapper young man!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Carne Asada Tacos for Dinner!!

Tonight's menu:

Carne Asada Tacos~ Avacado Pico de Gallo Salsa ~ Juanitas Tortilla Chips ~ Coke

Make the salsa ahead of time so it's ready when your tacos are.

Avacado Pico de Gallo Salsa
2 Avacados, cut in small chunks
3 roma tomatoes, with seeds taken out ( for less water in salsa)
2-4 cloves of fresh pressed garlic (Garlic will add SPICE so, if you have kids, about 2 cloves is good for them.)
1/2 cup finely chopped white or sweet onion
the juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp salt, or more or less to taste
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, finley chopped

Mix together and set aside, to serve on tacos or to eat with chips!

                                                                     Kristin's Carne Asada Tacos

Marinate 1 1/2 lbs thinly sliced top sirloin, flank steak or "flap" steak in the juice of 2 limes, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper or steak seasoning for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. Turn; coating meat in marinade. After the meat has soaked, cut it into very thin strips, about 1/8" thick.

Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in a pan on med heat. The steak will take very little time to cook. Just don't overcook it or it will become chewy. While the steak is cooking, warm up your corn tortillas. I doubled them up and put in a large spoonful of meat, then salsa and sprinkles of Queso Fresco. (It tastes like mozzarella but it crumbles like Feta.)

Serve with extra salsa and lime if desired, a serving of Juanitas Tortilla Chips and a Coke! Enjoy!

Juanita has a great recipe for chips! These are our favorite!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Layers of Gift Wrapping

Need a new wrapping idea? I've recently come across this idea from one of the "top wrappers"; layering and added a few of my own ideas. I included vintage gift tags and raffia.  

I love the striped paper! So festive!

The edges of the layers here are folded, to give it a more finished look.

The top layer on this one has been trimmed with pinking shears.

We're using the kids' tree for our tree this year. I just never got a real one yet and this one will do. In our house the kids' tree equals a short tree with colored lights and their own ornaments or some from when my husband and I were children.


The little mouse ornament with the chalkboard was from one of my two public school teachers, Mrs. Niemela. The rest of my education was at home with the best teacher: my mom. :)

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these vintage tags...

and the simplicity of raffia.