Saturday, December 28, 2013

Dear readers

I will post soon, I promise. 

The Santa season has ended and he won't be back til November. I actually had people asking what our hours were for Santa visits for Thursday and Friday. You know, after Christmas. I guess they thought the lines would be shorter.

Meanwhile, I'm nestled in my bed with a large mug of herbal tea and popping cough drops like candy. I ventured out today after a diagnosis of viral pneumonia and made a stop at the health store. I'm now armed with zinc, echinacea and goldenseal, plus my probiotics and garlic. The big problem with viral pneumonia is all you can do is wait it out and try to prevent secondary infections. Antibiotics are not going to help kill a virus. 

I plan to dictate orders from bed and trust the family to pack up Christmas.

Hopefully I'll be well enough for our New Year's game night. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread... Get Carton Smart

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Carton Smart for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
Pumpkin Cranberry Bread #CartonSmart

The holidays are a stressful time for pretty much everyone. Around here, our lives are even more hectic because I'm working Santa photos nearly 30 hours a week, plus substitiute teaching. Some weeks I'm working 60-70 hours!

I'm definitely looking forward to vacation.

But it's not here yet. And I still have all sorts of holiday baking to do.

One of my favorite things to bake is my Pumpkin Cranberry Bread. I usually do mini loaves. Perfect for gift giving. Normally, I make my own pumpkin puree. But this year, I just didn't have the time. I really don't like the taste of canned pumpkin. At all.

When I had the chance to Become Carton Smart this year, I jumped at the chance to take a little help from the store and swap out the pumpkin puree I normally use for  photo d1d52bb8-c150-4f19-9a7c-b8c9ab3c8df3_zpsac6b75dd.jpg

I was also sent several other products I can't wait to try, including the Pacific Foods Chicken Stock which will find it's way in to my mashed potatoes. photo 795e421d-1ec8-414e-b1b8-dde8f5f23ded_zps62983f0a.jpg

And the Pacific Foods Cranberry Sauce, which I love to spread on sandwiches.  photo 62adf36b-e1dc-4d93-98c1-aa80d97a468d_zps600d562e.jpg

There are so many great things about the foods in cartons not limited to just being better tasting than cans. It's better for the environment, too!
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When it came down to the recipe, I couldn't tell the difference between the fresh pumpkin and the Pacific Foods Pumpkin Puree! I was super impressed.

Pumpkin Cranberry  Bread

1 carton Pacific Foods Pumpkin Puree
4 eggs
1 cup cooking oil (I used coconut...make sure to melt it first!)
2/3 cup pumpkin spice soy milk
3 cups white sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 C fresh Cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 9 mini loaf pans.
In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, eggs, oil, soy milk and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients just until blended. Fold in cranberries. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake for 70-90 minutes, testing with a toothpick inserted in the center about the 70 minute mark. Cook longer if the toothpick doesn't come out clean.

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread #CartonSmart

Want to learn more about becoming Carton Smart in the kitchen? Tweet @CartonSmart and Follow #CartonSmart on Pinterest

And be sure to comment, letting me know how you are plan to replace the tins with cartons in your holiday menus and become #CartonSmart!
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Merry Christmas photo


This year, we waited far too late to take our Santa picture to actually get it on a card. With how busy I've been, I've waited too late to even look at cards.

Christmas shopping? Hahahaha Haven't even started. I imagine I'll do quite a bit of shopping Saturday night. Or Maybe even Tuesday night.

With all the craziness, there hasn't been any holiday baking. No homemade gifts... I feel like a total slacker.

I mean look how our Santa pictures turned out! And this is my JOB


The two in front didn't want to be there. They said they'd rather be studying for finals than take a photo with Santa. Danger Girl was angry because she has curls in her hair. Of course, she's always upset about her curls. I told her to blame her father. She certainly didn't get those curls from me! B and the two little girls were fine until I told them no to cinnabon.

Needless to say, they staged a mini revolt on camera.

I agreed to snap a few pics of their true feelings before making them put on their happy family faces. And, at their request, I'm only allowed to share this silly picture.

Kids are so weird.

And here's what you don't see in the picture:

Punky Brester is wearing a bright purple skirt. Little Miss' skirt is hot pink.

Punky Brewster spilled chocolate on her turtleneck, so we just turned it around. Yup. Wearing her shirt backwards!

Leelee actually put on makeup! I feel like my 15 year old daughter's idea of putting enough make up on for a picture is one for the win column. And there's some sort of anime thing going on with her pose.

My boys are wearing bow ties because bow ties are cool. The Boy's tie is pictures of the T.A.R.D.I.S. and B's is in homage to 11.

Like I said, kids are so weird.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

PF Chang's desserts for the holidays

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of P.F. Changs for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Whenever we make one of trips north to the "big city," we love to eat at restaurants we don't have in our neck of the woods. . . Places like P.F. Chang’s, where you can get amazing Chinese food.

 

While I love to cook things at home, there's just something special about going out to eat with your sweetheart during the holidays. P.F. Chang's is the perfect spot for a date night.

And what do I love best about those special date night meals? Getting amazing desserts that I can't recreate at home.

 

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Doesn't that look so amazing? Sweet Vanilla Cheese dessert wontons. I'm swooning already.

 photo 0008911f-7d1d-4c9e-90f7-5a122a4eea6b_zps1de0003f.jpg

 

And these Chocolate Raspberry dessert wontons are equally drool worthy.

 

I'm having a really hard time deciding which one to try. I may make it easy on myself and just order both!

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I know D will be ordering the Vanilla Bean Milkshake. He goes for the milkshakes every time we go out.  He's a bit predictable that way...always ordering the same thing. I like to try new things each time, which probably explains why I've eaten so many exotic foods.

 

Are you totally excited to hit P.F. Chang's this holiday season? Which new menu item are you most excited to try? Help me out with my massive indecision!

 

Meanwhile, if you want to keep up with all the new offerings Follow @pfchangs on twitter and check out the gorgeous foods and Follow P.F. Chang’s on Pinterest!

 

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday window treatment

Holiday decorating has started! I wanted to do something simple, yet fun in the grand foyer. The window treatment I had in place before just wasn't working. The colors were right but the pattern was too much for the space.

I've been playing with different options. My plan is to sew my own window treatments but finding just the right fabric is proving a challenge.

I was recently given a copy of a 1985 holiday craft book. Let me tell you, the puffy paint holiday sweatshirts were amazing. There were a few good ideas that  provided inspiration for me. . . Along with a need to cover up the plain red curtain.

The red just wasn't doing it alone, so I added a longer black fabric and used the red as a "trim."

From my big bucket of holiday bows, I grabbed these Santa bows from last year's tree and tacked them down the side.

I experimented with the bows on green and red curtains but they just blended in. My original preference was just black drapes but well... Last minute project and clearly not enough fabric. As it turns out, I do like the pop of red on the bottom. 

Adding the bows to the side is a fun and temporary way to add holiday to your windows!


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