Lisa's Homemaking Corner

Lisa's Homemaking Corner

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Peanut butter blossoms

These are another popular favorite at our home.

1/2 cup shortening (I use half butter, half shortening)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 egg
2 T milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Milk chocolate kisses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the shortening and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium speed 30 seconds.  Add the 1/2 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.  Beat till combined, scraping the sides of bowl.  Beat in egg, milk, and vanilla till combined.  Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer.  Stir in remaining flour.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Roll the balls in the 1/4 cup granulated sugar.  place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes or till edges are firm and bottoms are lightly browned.  Immediately press a chocolate kiss into each cookie's center.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.  Makes about 54 cookies.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Spumoni cookies

This is probably the recipe I get asked for the most.  These cookies are delicious, and they look nice, too!

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped pistachios or almonds
6 drops green food coloring
1-2 T cocoa powder
2 T finely chopped maraschino cherries, drained

Mix butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg.  Stir in flour and salt.   Divide dough into 3 equal parts.

Mix nuts and food coloring into one part; mix cocoa into one part; mix cherries into remaining part.

Line bottom and ends of loaf pan with aluminum foil, allowing ends of foil to extend 5 inches over each end of pan.  Press nut dough evenly and firmly into bottom of pan.

Press chocolate dough on top of nut dough.

Finally, press cherry dough on top of chocolate dough.

Cover dough with extended ends of foil.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours, but no longer than 6 weeks.

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Remove foil from dough.  Cut dough crosswise into 1/4 inch slices.

Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake cookies until set, about 10 minutes.  Immediately remove from cookie sheet.

Yummy!  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Menu

Tomorrow, I will post about some of the cookies I made over the weekend!  But real quick, I wanted to post our Christmas menu, so here it is:

Mexican meatballs
Tortilla wraps
Mexican tortilla wraps (this will be new this year, dh wanted to try them.)
Chips & dip/salsa
Deviled eggs

Main Meal:Turkey made with wild rice stuffing
Sweet potato casserole
Mashed potatoes & gravy
Cranberry sauce
Green bean casserole

Goodies :
Spritz cookies
Decorated sugar cookies
Spumoni cookies
Mexican wedding cake cookies
Peanut butter blossom cookies
Shortbread bites
Caramel brownies
Chocolate & peanut butter bars
Lemon bars
Holiday bark
Mint meringues
Peanut brittle
Popcorn balls
Pumpkin pie
Butterscotch pie
Peppermint pie
Upside down apple gingerbread

Sound like a lot?  LOL!  Believe it or not, the goodie list is actually pared down quite a bit from year's past.  My work is definitely cut out for me, but I DO have all the cookies done, and the chocolate PB bars.  Now all I have to do is candies and bars, and the pies I will do a couple days before we have everyone over.  Except for the Mexican tortilla wraps, the appetizers and main meal are almost exactly the same every year.  We don't eat pork here, so we don't do the traditional ham.  As I said before about the cookies, I will try and get some of these recipes posted.  Let me know if there's anything in particular that catches your eye, and I will get to that!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Christmas Baking

I love Christmas baking!  I have been a busy bee the last couple of days.  In the past, I have usually gotten all my cookies baked by the end of October, but since this year's been just a wee bit on the busy side, that hasn't happened.  I am on a roll, though, as I got the two "worst" cookies out of the way...sugar cookies and spritz.  Those, I think, are the most time-consuming, so I always do those first.  Yesterday and today I baked all plain sugar cookies...(I know, the first batch always comes out a little on the "done" side LOL)

...then I iced and sprinkled them.

Sorry, I had another picture of my stovetop covered with done sugar cookies, too, but somehow lost it .  I didn't get a picture of the spritz, either, but they are already in the freezer.  Must keep them safe LOL.  As a project on the TeachingMom's Advent Calendar, Vincent and I also made these cinnamon roll trees yesterday.

Here is a link to the direct recipe.  Yummy!  One of the trees has already mysteriously disappeared LOL.

Tomorrow, I think I will make Mexican wedding cakes.  I also need to tackle my front porch for de-cluttering.  I decided I just can't follow a weekly system for now...I am just going to start at the front of my house and work my way around.  As long as I keep up on basics which are laundry, dishes, keeping the bathroom wiped down, keeping the house picked up and swept, and making my bed every morning.  It has been about a week, and things have been kept up pretty well!  Hopefully, it keeps up as I add more baking and the occasional de-clutter project.  I do NOT want to be scrambling around the few days before Christmas trying to get everything together.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Baked Beef Stew

Here's what we're having for supper tonight!

First, set your oven to 375*F, and spray or grease your pan.  This is really a big enough recipe for a roasting pan.

Next, assemble the ingredients...

2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups water
6 T quick-cooking tapioca (I didn't have any, so I use 1/2 amount in cornstarch)
4 tsp sugar
3 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 lbs beef stew meat (already in pan)
8 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered (I just cut into chunks, quarters seem too big)
4 celery ribs cut into chunks (which I didn't have on hand, oh well...)
2 slices bread, cubed

Toss everything into the pan and stir it around really good.

Cover and bake at 375*F for 2 hours or until meat and veggies are tender.

And that's plenty of time to get those dishes done, right?


It's done!

I have finally gotten through our upstairs porch!  Now, it's not perfect, as Nick still needs to go through all the hunting/camping stuff to organize it better, but I got what I could into bins for now and you can actually walk through the room!  I put the carpet down, too, although not tacked or anything yet...needs to be flattened out anyway.

And here's all the toys, completely sorted out!  Whew...

I am so proud of Vincent, as he's been keeping them that way, too!  I still think we need to pare down, but at least everything's organized now.  And they are NOT going back into his bedroom...been there, done that!  I let him take out a small bucket of cars at a time, or 1 set of something (such as army guys or construction workers), or just plain 2 toys at a time now.  Everything gets put back in it's place before something else comes out.  This has been working out quite well over the last week.

Oh, and I filled the garage sale bag the rest of the way (left) and another whole kitchen bag full of garbage that I am on my way to haul out right now as soon as I get a nice tall glass of cold water .

Whew!!!!  Now that that's all done, I can finally get on to de-cluttering some other things...preferrably something that won't take quite so long !  Time for a break...I'll try to be back later to show you what's up for dinner!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A fairly good start

Well, I'm off to a good start so far today.  I started my 3 day steroid treatment for my symptoms yesterday.  It didn't seem to help much yesterday, but today almost all my numbness is gone.  My right leg is still a little weak and dragging, but it's much better than yesterday, and my back has no more pain!  Praise God!  I woke up this morning and the baby was still sleeping, so I got all the dry laundry in our room folded and put away and changed our bedding, and had Vincent change his.  This is one of the things I'm so glad I've been able to teach him!  Since he has a bunk bed, it saves me so much time having him do this.   I got Andrew up and changed and fed, got Vincent fed after his wake-up chores, and then ate some breakfast with my second round of pills.

My right leg started bugging me, so here I am, taking a little break before getting the dishes done.  They got piled up yesterday, so there's quite a bit, but I definitely have the energy today.  Then I need to start a load of laundry, fold and put away the load in the dryer, and then just do a good general picking up of the house.  Vincent has already started.  He is picking up the living room for me while Andrew is following him around in his walker .  I also need to get the bathroom clean and scrubbed down, too.  The rugs and towels are already in the basement waiting to be washed and the bathroom is picked up, so all I need to do is the scrubbing and the floor.  Yay!  If I have the energy later, all the main floors really need to be done, too, as the dog has been dragging in leaves from outside.  He LOVES to roll in them.  LOL.

I think once these pills kick in, I will have plenty of energy to do all this.  Dh said his mom had to be on a steroid inhaler for her asthma once, and she got the entire house clean in a day!  Same house, as we purchased this house from them when they moved to Nevada.  Don't worry, I'm not setting my goal that high! LOL.  But, if I feel good enough to keep going, I'm going to.  Dh works a double today, and my goals today are to have him walk in the door and 1) be speechless at how SPARKLY the house is, and 2) walk into a haven.  I want him to be able to just RELAX after walking in from working literally ALL day.  Especially after staying home the last day-and-a-half helping me during the worst of this latest episode.

Plus, he took me out to the mall yesterday.  I had wanted to get out of the house, and figured it would do me good to walk, as long as I didn't have to go up any stairs, and it was wet and cold outside, so we went to the mall.  We went to the Yankee candle store, and he let me stock up on some Christmas tarts .  All the more motivation to get this house clean and turn it back into the sancuary it's supposed to be for the Lord and my family .

Well, I'm off to check my email, and then it's back to work!  I will try and check in later with my progress.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Test Results

I got a call from a nurse at the neurologist's office today with the test results we have been waiting for...they have come back positive, so I most likely have MS.  I have been having another flare-up of symptoms as well, so I'm not sure if I'll be on the computer very much this week, considering the last time I couldn't even type for a few days.  Tomorrow, my doctor's nurse will call and set me up with a nurse practitioner to get the medication going.  I will have to give myself injections 3 times per week.  This will not take care of the symptoms, but it will slow down/stop progression of the disease.  I will need to take a pill at the time of injection, or else I will get flu symptoms as well.  If I still need medication for the MS symptoms (aka, if they're bad enough), they will give me some sort of steroid medication for that.  Hopefully after this, the injections will slow down things enough that I won't get symptoms that often.  Of course, it may take awhile to get the right type and dose of medication in the first place, but I know it will work out.

I find comfort in knowing that God is in control, and I know He will take care of me.  I may be slowed down by the symptoms when they rear their ugly head, but this disease will NOT control me.  I still plan on living as close to normal as I possibly can.  I will take care of my home, my family, and I will keep my kids home with me where they belong.  I have been so blessed that the Lord has put me in a wonderful place with excellent doctors.

Speaking of which, I just got a call back in the middle of my typing, as the nurse had talked to another neurologist (mine is out this week) and has already prescribed oral meds for my symptoms.  Dh will pick them up later (I am to start them in the morning, as some people have trouble sleeping if taken too late in the day).  Fun, huh?  Dh said when his mom had to be on these meds (can't remember what for), it made her really hyper, so maybe by the end of the day tomorrow, I'll have an after picture of the room I should be working on .  LOL.

Anyways,  I hope and pray that all I do, and all my family does, with this, is glorifying to the Lord.  I am in His hands, and that is my greatest comfort.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hope from the doctor

Well, I had my follow-up appointment with the neurologist today to discuss all the testing I had last week.  There is hope .  My MRI on the spine showed no legions there, so that is a good thing.  The fluid from the lumbar puncture did show some inflammation, though, so we are waiting for one more test result to come in...I can't remember what it is.  She said for about 99% of people with MS, this test comes out positive, but it also comes out positive for about 10% of people with a viral/bacterial disorder that mimics MS as well.  She said the legions found on my brain are not in typical locations as with people with MS, so that's encouraging as well.  She said only one of the legions was showing symptoms, and to diagnose MS, there has to be more than 2.    Also, one of my blood tests came back with mild infammation, which would NOT happen with MS, but with a viral/bacterial disorder.  This disorder will give me symptoms every time I get a viral or bacterial infection, but is not progressively damaging like MS, so we are praying this is what I have instead.

The doctor told me if this test result we are waiting for comes back negative, we will just leave it alone .  If it comes back positive, they will start treating me as if I had MS for three months, and then get another MRI done to see if there are any new legions and another lumbar puncture to check the fluid again.  Even though it will not be 100% positive I would have MS, this treatment (injections) would not be harmful for such a short period of time.  And after 3 months, if it turns out I do have MS, we will have gotten started very early, which is good, and we can just continue treatment.  If it turns out it's not MS, well then we will discontinue treatment and discuss where we go from there, if necessary, and get on with life as normal.  Either way, praise God that He has placed me in such good hands; a doctor that I have already heard lots of praise about from those that work with her, one that will not get pushed around and who has gotten these tests pushed through so quickly so we can find out what's going on and get this thing nipped, and one who is straight to the point and makes sure we understand everything that is going on .

Even though it's still not a definite answer, this news has given me hope and will make this Thanksgiving a little more joyful.  This whole situation makes this Thanksgiving more meaningful, as it has really given me much to be thankful for in my life.  The Lord has blessed me in so many ways!

I hope you all have a wonderful and joyous Thanksgiving!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Slow, but sure progress

Okay, I don't have any after shots of our catch-all room yet, but I'm making progress.  I forgot to take a complete before shot, but here's what things looked like half-hour after I started...

Waaaaay too many toys, I know!  And there are tons more in the basement, but that will be for another day.  .  Anyways, I worked on it for about an hour today, and here's where I am so far...

Doesn't seem like much for the time I have spent, but most of it was sorting.  My 5 year old son has sooooo many sets of things that have little pieces that are dispersed EVERYwhere.  The bag on the left is things for a garage sale next spring, and the other bag is garbage, which has already been hauled out to the garbage bin.  Here's what the room's looking like so far...

Everything in this picture is sorted and organized, except for the big blue bin in front, which I need to finish going through.  I put all his little "sets" into ziplocks and put them into the sorting bins.  The blue crate to the right of the sorting bins is for all his Hot Wheels, and the bag on top is bath toys, which I will find a place for later.  When I took the above picture, here's what's behind me...

The pink bin has already been sorted, just waiting to get the rest of the room done.  The rest of the stuff is mostly camping stuff and dh's hunting stuff that needs to be organized.  The big white thing toward the right is carpeting that I think dh wants to put down in the room when it's clean.  It's mostly big stuff left after the toys are done, so it should go pretty fast once the toys are done.  The toys will eventually be culled down and moved downstairs to our front porch, which will be used as our homeschool room as well.  In spring, we will have a garage sale and get rid of the love seat and few other pieces that are in the front porch right now, and we will have more room to put this stuff.  Dh's hunting and camping stuff will be sorted into a few bins and be kept in this room, and we can also turn it into a guest room when needed, as we have one of those double high air beds that can be inflated quickly, along with sheets and such that fit it.

Anyways, that's the de-cluttering process so far.  Hopefully I can get more done later today.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The kitchen's coming along!

Well, this is looking much better!  First, I cleaned out the fridge...

It still looks a little crowded, but I had to make room for my pan of homemade gumdrops to set.  These are very easy to make, by the way, and you can find the recipe over at Ronda's blog.  I love her blog, she is very inspirational and has lots of wonderful recipes and crafts.

Anyways, here's my cleaned off table...

And then when Nick came home, he fixed the cabinet shelf and...

I was able to clear off my counter and put things back in the cabinet!  It is so wonderful to open the cupboard doors and see it all organized, and to see I actually have SPACE!  LOL.  There was only 4 things I didn't keep, but somehow before I organized it, you couldn't fit another thing in there.

Today's project will be our upstairs "porch" which is a room we don't use, except as a catch all for all the stuff we don't know where to put, and for Vincent's toys.  I really need to go through the toys and cull A LOT.  His stash is going to go down significantly, as he has WAY too many.    I will post a report and pictures later.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A tough diagnosis, and a simpler life

Well, I am in the process of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  While this is tough to swallow, I will NOT let it get the best of me!  It has been a rough week of testing, including an MRI, bloodwork, and a lumbar puncture, but it is over and hopefully we will have a definitive answer at my neurologist appointment next week.

The good news is, this has really made both Nick and myself take a good look at how we're living.  We have both agreed that we need to MAJORLY de-clutter our home and simplify our lives.  This is great!  I have always wanted to do an overhaul, and have done some de-cluttering here and there, but Nick has always been leary of getting rid of stuff, so I never did anything major.  He is in the process of clearing out a nice big area in our basement to put things for our garage sale next spring, so we are already off to a good start.

I did try and start on the kitchen today, but that was brought to a screeching halt when the shelf broke in the cabinet I was de-cluttering.

The support on the left side broke and it fell down.  Hey, I was trying to take stuff OUT!  LOL.  Ugh, looks like I need to scrub it down, anyways...I guess all things happen for a reason!  I had Vincent take all the food out and I tried to group it so that I can just stick it all in right when Nick comes home and fixes the shelf.

Oh, and my kitchen table's a mess too...

These are some of the things I found that either I'm going to use today, or move to the fridge.  Why haven't they been moved there, you ask?  WELL, the fridge needs to be cleaned as well...

Okay, and the dishes need to be done...

Ds (5) loves to balance things precariously when putting them into the sink.  Anyways, what am I doing on the computer???  Now that I've thoroughly embarrased myself, I better go make it so that I can post nice pictures too!

More updates soon...