Archive for October, 2011

First Crock Pot Meal Success!

The fourth time was a charm!  After three failed attempts, my Crock Pot has finally produced something edible.  The difference?  I tossed the recipes and did what felt right – the method that I use when cooking on the stovetop or in the oven.

My first successful slow cooker meal was very simple.  A large bag of frozen meatballs, a large can of Swedish meatball gravy, a dash of white pepper, and a heaping scoop of confidence! 

The smell of slow-cooking ingredients filled the house for hours and I couldn’t wait to debut my newest dish.  The idea to serve it over a bed of egg noodles (cooked on the stove) was a hit! 

One of the benefits of having a slow cooker is that I’m able to cook larger quantities in one pot, which is ideal not only for cleaning purposes, but for producing leftovers.  Of course, leftovers mean less time getting dinner ready to put on the table.  We were able to enjoy yesterday’s dinner again tonight and since dinner was already done, I had a bit of free time to make my first batch of can-less biscuits.  Another bonus!

The recipes haven’t been tossed forever.  In fact, I plan to give my potato soup recipe another try tomorrow (armed with modifications) and on Sunday, I want to try a recipe for slow cooker sweet potato casserole.

For now, I am basking in the success of finally doing what countless other home-based chefs do – use a slow cooker.

What was your first slow cooker success, or disaster?

CC

Family Christmas Gifts

The cold blast that parts of the country are experiencing and the advancing months on the calendar have me thinking about the upcoming Christmas season.  Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year.  Obviously, the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ, is the true reason for the season, and I feel beyond blessed that He was sent here to save us.  The gift of Jesus is immeasurable.  Along those lines, but obviously not of the same magnitude, the joy of showering my children with gifts is immeasurable to me.

While the joy that gifting my children brings is immeasurable, the amount of money that my husband and I spend to make their dreams of dolls, video games, other assorted electronics come true is very measurable.  In fact, the amount that we spend is set in stone.  Each child gets the same budgeted amount and must live within their means.  What a novel idea! 

In a household where everyone has what they need and most of what they want, I wonder how necessary it is to continue filling our empty spaces with material things just because there’s a budget for it.  My intent is not to be a scrooge, but to turn our focus from solely tangible items to memory-making gifts with some, or all, of our gift money.  Perhaps we can begin a new family tradition that would demonstrate an immeasurable love for one another and for others.

A few ideas that I’ve thought of so far are:

  • Adopting a family and sharing our blessings with them
  • Taking a family vacation for the holidays – the gift of time
  • Purchasing season tickets for amusement parks or sporting events
  • Buying several $5 or $10 gift cards and distributing them randomly to strangers based on the Spirit’s guidance

As I sit here typing this blog, a commercial for spending Christmas in Branson, Missouri is playing on the television.  Is that a sign?  LOL!

Our household is a democracy of sorts (parents can veto just about anything though), so any ideas must be presented at a family meeting where a vote would ultimately be held.  It’s a bit late to hold that process for this year as each kid has already mentally spent their gift budgets, so any decisions would not take effect until Christmas 2012.

Have you adopted a family gift tradition in your home?  If so, what is (or has been) on the gift list?  Any comments would be greatly appreciated!

CC

Let’s Eat!

 

Guys, come eat!”  Those are the words that my family eagerly awaits to hear each evening at dinnertime.  The patter of nearly a dozen feet can be heard on every floor of the house as everyone makes their way to get cleaned up for our last meal of the day.

One of my teens is usually in, or near, the house with two friends.  Routinely, I invite them to stay for dinner.  Inevitably, both teen boys decline.  I began to wonder if my cooking abilities could have been the reason for the repeated rejection.  So, to my surprise, when I offered to have them join us for take-out, the invitation was once again declined.

How could this be?!  Teen boys…love…food! 

Question: What could be the reason teen boys would turn down an offer to eat – even if they’d already had dinner at home? 

Answer: Family habits.

Let me explain.  I later learned that neither boy’s family enjoys mealtime together.  Everyone eats at different times and not always at a table.  One friend admitted to my son that he eats dinner in front of the television every night – alone.  Why?  The table in their dining room has a glass top and has been deemed too fragile for use.  It’s just there to fill space and no one can use it.

That story made me sad.  I can’t imagine not regularly having dinner with my family.  Sure, we have nights when one or two of us are absent from the dinner table due to a class or some kind of practice, but we still dine together nearly every evening. 

I love hearing about what’s on everyone’s mind.  I love seeing their faces.  I love the silliness that’s expressed in every prank, comment, or joke.  I love taking turns praying over our meals.  Simply put, I love the time that we spend together. 

In a household with one tween and three teens, we are well aware that our days together as a nuclear family are numbered.  Soon, our oldest will be leaving for college.  Two years later, two more will also leave for higher education.  And two years after that, we will become empty-nesters.

Time is not on our side, so for us, dinnertime is a sacred gathering where stories are shared, questions about life are asked and answered, manners are taught, jokes are played, and silly faces are made.  Families bond are tightened and memories are made at the dinner table.

Dinnertime togetherness is one of the most blessed gifts we can give to our children.  I pray that the values we’re passing along to them will be passed down by them to our grandchildren and that the tradition of family togetherness doesn’t become lost in conflicting schedules or the simple awkwardness of needing to be alone.

What’s dinnertime like in your house?  Is the dinner table a place for laughter and sharing?  Do conflicting work or activity schedules keep everyone from dining together?  Does a museum-like status of your furniture trump use of your family’s dining area?  

Share with us!

CC

October 2nd Is Name Your Car Day!

Clio.  Patsy.  Felix.  Floyd.  Reg. (short for Reginald).  No, those are the names of actors, pets, family, or friends.  They’re car names.  You read that correctly.  Cars!  Not the names that manufacturers give to their creations.  But names given to vehicles by their owners.  These personifying names were posted by members on the Facebook page “Naming Your Car and Referring to It As a Person”.   (There’s a page or group for just about anything one can imagine.)

I don’t recall ever having named one of my vehicles.  However, I do remember the name that my mom gave to her pre-minivan era, people-mover: a light blue, Ford station wagon with external wood-grain paneling (pretty image, huh?).  Her name – Betsy!  The car – not my mom.

October 2nd is Name Your Car Day!  Who knew there was a car-naming holiday?  I didn’t until an hour ago.  As I stated earlier, I don’t believe I’ve ever named one of my vehicles.  I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

Holidayinsights.com lists the following advice for those of us who need car-naming tips.

  • Don’t select wimpy names. That might give your car a personality complex and it will perform accordingly.
  • Do give a strong, aggressive name to sports cars and cars with powerful engines.
  • Sleek, sexy feline-like cars savor names that begin with “lady”.
  • Old junkers are proud just to be around. You can call them just about anything. Try “Tramp“, or “Old Yeller“, “Old Blue“.
  • Pick names to reflect your personality.
  • “Pickemup” trucks must have country names.
  • Don’t give common names (like Joe, Mike or Sue)  to luxury cars. They beam over names like Reginald, Archibald, and Crystal.

My newest vehicle is a combination of several “personalities”.  It’s a sleek, black, luxury minivan with a large engine that goes, “Vroom!”.  Following the above advice, whatever name I choose should match my personality.

Brutus is out; it’s a strong name, but there’s nothing sleek or luxurious about it.  I’m also not a guy.

Candy is very feminine, but it’s lacking the strength that defines both me and my vehicle.

Hmm, Charlotte is a strong, feminine name.  I’m channeling the character, Dr. Charlotte King, from television’s Private Practice.  That names fits for other reasons, too.  Charlotte’s medical speciality?  Sexology! 

I think I’ve found a name!  My strong, black, sexy, luxurious minivan could be aptly named Lady Charlotte.

Lady Charlotte is a few months shy of her first birthday, but when the day arrives, I’m sure she would love to receive birthday wishes.  Good thing there’s a greeting car for that!

Send a greeting card

What’s your vehicle’s name and why did you choose it?  If you’re thinking about naming a vehicle for the first time, what names would make the list of potentials?

CC