Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sausage Ring for New Year's Day Brunch

Hello, everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!  It was busier (and more exhausting!) than I anticipated and I'm just now feeling like I'm caught up again!  Well, sort of!

With New Year's Day just around the corner I wanted to share a delicious brunch recipe with you all!  This recipe has been a holiday staple in my family for years (starting with my grandmother making it every Christmas when I was a child).  In fact, this was a special request by my dad for our Christmas get-together this year!

Sausage Ring
2 pounds breakfast sausage
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup diced apple
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups soda cracker crumbs

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Press into a bundt pan (I line mine with plastic wrap to make it easier to remove the next morning).  Refrigerate overnight.

To bake, preheat oven to 325F.  Remove sausage ring from bundt pan (don't forget to take off the plastic wrap!) and place on a rack inside a rimmed baking sheet (water in the bottom will help with clean up).  Bake for approximately 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours.

One fun way to serve the sausage ring is to fill the center and outside edge with scrambled eggs.

Add some cinnamon rolls, fruit and Champagne Mimosas or (Bloody Mary's if you're my husband's family!) and you have a beautiful, delicious and satisfying New Year's Day Brunch!

Why I love this recipe?  It's de-li-cious!  You prep it the night before and throw it in the oven the next morning and forget about it (ideal for Christmas morning while opening packages!).  And it's kinda fancy-smancy filled with scrambled eggs.  This recipe freezes well, also.  Just thaw completely in the fridge before baking!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Kit

If you have kids then you know how important it is to get all those new Christmas toys up and running as quickly as possible on Christmas morning!

Well, my obsessive-compulsive need to be completely prepared led me to this idea our first Christmas with a little one.  A Christmas Kit!

I just used a plastic container large enough to hold everything (it may have even had a former life as a lunchmeat container).  Then I filled it with all the things I thought we might need.

Here is a list of what I came up with:

  • pocket knife (how many times have you cut your finger on the shirt box trying to break the tape?)
  • batteries (check what batteries you will need when you purchase the toy...and buy extras!)
  • screwdriver (phillips and flat head)
  • wire cutters ("Wire cutters?" you may ask.  But have you seen the way they attach toys to the packaging nowadays?  With either black box quality zip ties or twist ties that are so wound around the toy you need to be a rocket scientist to sort it all out!  And scissors just won't "cut" it!  Plus it dulls them.  Just pull out the wire cutters and give them the "what for"!!)

This is what our kit looks like:

We just have the four of us on Christmas morning and usually the only gifts are ones from each other or from my grandmother.  Consequently it's easy to keep up with who gave what.  But if you have a big Christmas shindig, a notepad and pencil for writing down who gave what (for thank you notes later) is a good idea.

Something else I do is keep all the kid's owners manuals (for their toys, not the kids themselves!) together in a separate file.  To do this I just slide them in a gallon sized zip top baggie and drop them in a hanging file in our file cabinet.  Then if you need to refer back you just grab the one with all the kid stuff!

Hopefully this helps keep the Christmas cheer going on Christmas morn for you and yours!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

BBQ Spice Rub

My youngest son is all about food!  I think he inherited this from me.  We wake up thinking about food and before we're finished eating breakfast, we're thinking about what's for lunch!  When he was only about three, he asked me if I would teach him how to make goulash when he grew up...already thinking about what he's going to eat when he goes off to college!

Well, he and I were discussing what we would eat on Christmas day and he suggested ribs.  Yummy!  My husband and I split duties when it comes to smoking meats.  I'm in charge of perfecting the "prep" and he's in charge of the smoke.

In my pursuit to find the perfect rub, this is what I ended up with.  This rub is so delicious, in fact, that I have quit using barbecue sauce all together (however, that is my next endeavor - homemade barbecue sauce)!  I found this recipe online but it's been a few years and I can't remember who it came from...sorry.

2 cups sugar
1/4 cup paprika
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

And that's it!  It really is fantastic!  So much better than anything you can buy in the store.  It will work on all kinds of meat, too.

And this would make a nice gift for the Grill Master in your life, also.  Be sure to include the recipe because once it's gone, they're gonna want some more!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Jesus' Birthday Party

Yesterday was the last day of school for my kids.  Yippee!

It was also their Happy Birthday, Jesus! party.  This is such a sweet celebration.  The entire elementary school meets in Fellowship Hall.  Each class has a birthday cake, scripture is read, carols are sung and the principal tells a story about the different symbols of Christmas.  We end by singing Happy Birthday, Jesus and going off to our individual classrooms.  Truly a sight to behold

Let's start with Jesus' birthday cake.  There is significant symbolism involved in it.  We started this tradition with our boys when they were little (well, they're still little - only 6 and 8!) and it now continues at their school. First you bake a chocolate cake.  The dark cake represents our sin.  Then you frost it with white icing.  This represents the cleansing of sin through Jesus on the cross.  Then we place red M&Ms on top in the shape of a cross representing His death and resurrection.

The cake is a bit "homemade" looking.  Not all fancy, like a store bought cake.  But I labored over it non-the-less!  In fact the morning of the party, I'm driving the boys to school with the cake sitting on the armrest in the middle of the front seat.  I stop at the stoplight and one of the boys backpacks falls forward and hits the armrest.  I plainly told the boys (as calmly as I could) that heads would role if they messed up the cake!  Oops!  Sorry Jesus.  Sorta lost sight of what we're celebrating!  But it's okay...I'm back on track now!

Next, the teachers take turns reading the Christmas story from the Bible.  Luke 2:1-20, Matthew 2:1-2 and Matthew 2:9-11.

Then the principal tells a story similar to this one.

Finally we light the birthday candle and sing Happy Birthday, Jesus.

If you've never heard this song before, you're in for a real treat.  It chokes me up every time.  Now imagine Pre-K through 5th grade kids singing this in a darkened room lit only by the candles on Jesus' birthday cake!  Grab some tissues and press play.

This is such a wonderful tradition that really puts Christmas in the right perspective.

Here's wishing you and yours a blessed, Christ-centered Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Making of a Christmas Manger

For three years now, I've asked my husband to make me a manger.  I want a big one to put outside during Christmas.  I know he can do it.  Four years ago he made me a giant red sleigh.  I loved it!  But it was so big that you had to disassemble it to put it away every year and the screw holes had started to strip out.  This year he said "no red sleigh."  So where is my manger?

Well, I don't try not to nag and I know there are other projects he would rather be working on.  So this morning after I dropped the boys off at school I decided to make my own manger.  Now, I'm good at a lot of things...but apparently wood working is not one of them!

I headed out to the shed and found some scrap pieces I thought would work.  They aren't quite the size I was wanting but I figured smaller would be easier to work with (since I'm doing this by myself).  I needed slats for the sides and some pieces for the legs.
I was in the driveway cutting wood when the "bug guy" showed up to spray the house.  He was probably afraid to leave...afraid I was going to cut my leg off and no one would be here to help.

Now, how does someone build a manger?  This I do not know.  But I figure I'm a smart gal, I can figure it out!  Well, I guess I can.  Eventually.

This is what I came up with initially.
Great looking except for one thing...what do I do for legs?  Hmm.  Hadn't thought of that.  Disassemble.  Back to square one.

Now I'm thinking I need to work the legs into the top some how.  Make it all one piece.  So this is what I decided to do.
I took an old section of fence and ripped the pickets off.  Four pickets, four legs.  Then I cut the tops off.  Next I laid one on its side and lined three slats up from the top down.  I just eyeballed the space in between but would recommend measuring.  The next one my husband makes, I will measure.  I think it will help ensure that it's mostly level that way.  Then I attached another leg to the other end of the slats.  I repeated this process (be sure to pre-drill your nail holes).
Now I have two sections that I can overlap and make into an "X" shape.  Looks like a manger and it has legs!  I positioned them at a 45 degree angle and inserted two screws where they overlap (on each side).  The two screws lock it into position (just one and it would open and close too easily).  Screws allow me to disassemble the manger and store it flat for next year.  Plus all the nails I could scrounge up were too long.  Remember, I'm working with what I've already got!
It's not at all fancy but I figure it is authentic.  What is a manger, after all, but a place to hold hay?  This one will do just that.  I'll borrow some fresh straw from the chickens...baby Jesus needs a soft place to lay!

The dimensions ended up being about 2 ft x 2 ft.  Now my husband has an idea of how to build the big one I'm wanting for the front yard.  This one will just go in the flower bed for now and can be moved indoors when Manger #2 comes along!

He came home about the time I was finishing up and literally cringed at the sight of me using his power tools.  That'll teach him to put me off!

Sharing this idea at these other wonderful blogs:
Please stop by and visit them to find other amazing ideas!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ceramic Tile Dry Erase Board

Scripture memorization is a big thing in our house.  Both of my boys memorize bible verses for church on Wednesday nights and for school each week.  I needed a way to keep the assigned scripture for the week handy without having a piece of paper floating around on my kitchen counter (my kitchen now has twice as much counter space as my previous kitchen and I swear we could still fill up more!).

It needed to be easily accessible, it had to change weekly and it had to be nice looking.  Well, this is what I came up with and I really have enjoyed it.  And it was inexpensive, super simple to make and it took only minutes from start to finish.

I bought a 6x8 white ceramic tile from the hardware store (less than a dollar).  I decided I wanted to tie a ribbon at the top and chose to drill a couple holes with a masonry bit.  I just eyeballed the spacing.  You can tell I spent a lot of time making sure I got them level (my writing is as wonky as my "eyeballing"!).  It isn't noticeable once the ribbon is in.

Of course, you could skip this step and just hot glue the ribbon on but I wanted to impress my husband by asking (imagine serious tone, thoughtfully grasping chin and furrowed brow) "Do you think I should use a masonry bit to drill into this tile?"   I think he was pretty impressed!

Then I laced through some ribbon (this is just what I had on hand that would match the kitchen) and tied a bow.  I like that the ribbon softens it up a bit.  Then I cut a fleur de lis on some black vinyl with my Cricut (I love that darn machine!) and put it in the lower corner.

Next, I needed a way to display it.  I thought about hanging it but decided to keep it on the counter instead.  This way I can lay the tile flat to write on it.  I had some of these picture holder thingies (for the life of me I can't think of what these are called!) and decided this would make a great stand (and it keeps the marker handy, too!).

Now if I were going to give this as a gift, I would take the time to cover the back of the tile with some coordinating felt.  But it's just us and I'm the only one who writes on it (maybe it's a little too "femmed up" with the leopard bow and fleur de lis for the guys!).  We keep it in the kitchen on the counter and the boys and I go over their verses while they eat breakfast and I gulp sip my coffee in the morning.  It's a great way to start the day!

We use ours for scripture, but you could also use it for honey-dos, love notes to your hubby, jot down notes by the phone...lots of things,really!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Gift Ideas from I Heart Naptime and Under The Table and Dreaming

While making my rounds on my favorite blogs I've come across some really fantastic gift ideas.  My list of "Things to Copy" is long but here are a couple that I've done over the last few of days.

Thinking of all the people on my gift list this year, I decided to start with these clever "presents".  The idea came from Jamielyn at I Heart Naptime.  She made some for Fall/Thanksgiving and some for Christmas.  They are irresistibly cute!  I decided to make these for my volunteer teachers at church on Wednesday night.  I needed 10 gifts that were gender neutral, had no food allergens and were inexpensive.  These Christmas blocks were exactly what I was looking for!
I just used some old 4x4 scraps that we had leftover from a fence building project, some paint leftover from painting our shed, some vinyl I already had and some ribbon I had scraped from other projects.  As you can see, the price was right!  And I was very pleased with the results!

I loved them so much, I went out and bought another 4x4 to make some more (some for gifts, some for me!)!

To find out how to make your own, all you have to do is head over to I Heart Naptime!  But before you go, check out this other fantastic gift!

My second list of people to gift were my boys' teachers.  I could go all feminine here!  Something I would love to have.  We'll, I totally found the answer from Stephanie Lynn at Under The Table and Dreaming!  Her Pumpkin Spice Sugar Scrub is exactly what I was looking for!  The Pumpkin Spice fragrance is good for the winter time and she also has recipes for a couple of other fragrances!
 I decided to dress my jars up with some homemade "cinnamon men" (instead of gingerbread men) made with some cinnamon dough.  There are a ton of recipes on the web for this.

All you have to do is visit Under The Table and Dreaming to get the recipe!  Stephanie Lynn also offers printable labels to go with her amazing scrub!  How sweet is that?  Be sure to keep some for yourself (I sure did)!

(Now, if your one of the boys' teachers, please act surprised when you get this!)

Be sure to check out both of these wonderful women's blogs.  They are loaded with great ideas!  Then you will see why my list of "Things to Copy" gets longer every time I log onto the internet!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Pictures As Gifts

Here are some of my favorite pictures we've taken of the kids over the years at Christmas time.  Some of these were framed and given as gifts to grandparents.  Always a popular gift in our family!

This is my first born's first Christmas.  We didn't have cable and were broke but we did have a digital camera!  I spent my days dressing him up and taking pictures...all day.  I have it sitting out year round and he's 8 years old now!

This is the first picture Christmas card we sent out.  It took us about thirty tries to get this one picture but it was so worth it.  The looks on their faces tell you exactly what their personalities are!  This one sets out year 'round, too!
(the scribbled note reads "For Santa")

These are ones they took during Sunday School at church and sent home with the kids.  I love my little Joseph!  This was such a great idea that I implemented it in my AWANA Cubbies "Noel Night!"
 The parents love it!  Every girl gets to be Mary and every boy gets to be Joseph.  I have a sweet friend who is a photographer and she volunteers to bring her gear up and takes the most amazing photos of the kids.  Thanks, Mitzi!

And finally.  I have a December birthday and this sweet picture is what my boys gave me last year.  The black nose was Little Bit's idea.  My husband said he came out of the bathroom with a marker looking like this!

Hopefully you can use some of these ideas with your own kiddos or maybe nieces and nephews (take it from a parent...we would love to get cute pics of our kids for a Christmas gift!)

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Crafts To Do With Your Kids

Christmas break is coming for the kiddos and you know what that means!  "Mom, I'm bored!"

Well, fret no more, mom friends!  Here are some crafts that the kids will enjoy making and you will cherish for years to come.  These would be appropriate for preschoolers on up.  The supplies are easy to find, too.

This first one requires construction (or colored) paper, google eyes and a red pompom.
(Sorry this picture isn't so great.  I moved it all over the house but the glass reflects everything!  This is as good as it gets!)
Trace your child's foot on brown paper and each hand on black paper.  Cut out and assemble into the shape of a reindeer.  Next attach google eyes and a red pompom for the nose.  Your done!  I pasted this one on another piece of colored paper and mounted it in a shadow box frame.  I hang it every Christmas!

Here's a cute Christmas ornament!  You'll need a candy cane, a star, some moss, cotton, a wooden bead and a paper clip for hanging.

Turn the candy cane upside down and glue on some moss then some cotton.  Draw a face on the wooden bead and glue to the cotton.  Finally glue the star on top (you can embellish with glitter if you have some) and attach an opened paper clip for hanging.

Finally, here is a sweet nativity.  You'll need three small flower pots, three wooden beads, a small amount of moss (or shredded paper), small scraps of fabric and craft paint.

Paint all three flower pots (we used a navy, a brick red and a gold color).  Draw faces on the three beads.  Next hot glue Mary and Joseph's heads to the bottom of two of the pots and glue small scraps of fabric to their heads.  Take the third flower pot and put some moss in the bottom then glue the head to the inside of the pot.  This is your baby Jesus.

We made a set of these for all the grandparents and great-grandparents in our family.  They loved them!

I hope these ideas inspire you and help you keep your sanity during the extended break!

I shared these ideas at Tatertots and Jello!
And Funky Junk Interiors!
And A Little Lovely!
And Be Different...Act Normal!
And Under The Table and Dreaming!
And Blissful and Domestic