Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A little sights from Christmas this year


I thought I'd share a few pictures with you from our Christmas decorations this year.  Since they're coming down this weekend, I'm bidding them farewell for another year.













This is the "friendship tree".  When friends give me ornaments, they go on this tree.  Hopefully they sign and date the ornaments.
(The chairs were all set out for the ornament exchange earlier this month)




Hope you enjoyed taking a last glimpse at my Christmas.  Did you post yours?  Be sure to leave me a comment so I can go and see it!


Monday, December 27, 2010

PRAYER REQUEST TUESDAY

Today is Prayer Request Tuesday


This is the day set aside for prayer for you.

If you have a prayer request, please list it in the comments below. You don't have to give any information you don't feel comfortable with (a simple "unspoken" comment is sufficient).

If you would like to pray, please pray for the comment above yours.

Also, if you would like to share a "praise" for a blessing you have received, please feel free to list those also! I'd love to hear of it so I can rejoice with you.

Hey there! Sharing my Red Velvet Bon-Bons on my other blog


Are you still recooperating from Christmas?   Got plans for New Years Eve?   I just wanted to pop in to tell you know that I've posted my Red Velvet Bon-Bons on my "other blog"  Real Women Eat.  So if you'd like to snag the recipe, go on over there and grab it.    I'll be back soon!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Spread some Christmas Charity Project

This is the last of my December Guest posts.  I hope you have all enjoyed reading posts from my friends, and maybe learned a new craft or recipe, or gained some new ideas to implement for your own family.  It is my sincere wish for your and your family to have a merry, merry Christmas.  I would like to introduce you to one last guest.  Sara is from Fresh Air Project.  This project gives kids in New York an otherwise unobtainable, experience.  Please watch the video and read on with an open heart...




This holiday season, consider giving a gift to a child in need from New York City. The Fresh Air Fund brings thousands of city kids from low-income families to the great outdoors each summer. Whether it's a two-week trip to the country to visit a volunteer host family, or a fun-filled and educational stay at one of our fund camps, our programs make for unforgettable memories – and open a world of new friendships and fresh possibilities. Summer may seem far away, but NYC children are currently participating in Fresh Air programs, from weekly tutoring sessions to job shadowings to weekend retreats at Fund camps in upstate New York! Our Career Awareness Program serves more than 300 youngsters in middle and high school. We also have new leadership programs for young women to develop their “can-do” attitudes!


No matter the season, Fresh Air children remain involved, excited and forward-thinking. We need loyal friends like you to continue serving thousands of New York City children throughout the year. Thank you!

Every year, The Fresh Air Fund gives thousands of inner-city children the priceless gift of fun – and opens the door to a lifetime of opportunities.

• Just $10 will send one child on a bus ride to his or her Friendly Town host family.


• $24 provides a child with a week of swimming lessons.


• $42 provides a day of Career Awareness classes.


• A gift of $50 can fund a camp counselor for a day.


• If you can give as much as $91, you provide a child at camp with meals for a week.

Fresh Air Fund is a not-for-profit agency and depend on tax-deductible donations from people like you to keep our vital programs flourishing.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

GUEST POST - Cindy Cullen

Christmas is just mere days away, and how many times have you moaned about eating, and eating, and .... you know.   I've been there too this year.   My guest today has some great tips to avoid...and if not avoid, then lessen the pitfalls of the season in our eating and how to survive it all.  Cindy Cullen is a Bachelors degree holder in Restaurant Management and also a formally trained chef, who created the site CulinaryArtsCollege.org to share her experience about her Bachelor's degree. As students couldn't find the right Culinary college for them while trying to pursue career in Hotel Industry, so Cindy created this site to help those students to inform them about the educational process, their degree options, some pitfalls to watch out for, and what to expect when attending a culinary arts college. As a well trained chef she is acquainted with different cooking styles and recipes of different regions. She also has the passion to write about different culinary art colleges , foodie people and food available around the world.
Please welcome Cindy, won't you?

5 Healthy Cooking Tips for the Holiday Season

It’s that time of the year again when the holidays are upon us – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year; it’s a time for merriment and revelry, but also a time that precedes the guilt and agony over the overindulgence and failure to exercise, both our bodies and our self-control. There’s an abundance of food, all of it so delicious that it seems like a sin not to give in to temptation. So it’s a dilemma of sorts when the holidays arrive – to eat or not to abstain, to agonize or to rejoice. However, there’s a way to have your cake and eat it too (pardon the cliché) – cook food that’s delicious and healthy. And if you’re looking for tips on healthy holiday cooking, you’ve come to the right place:

• Use less fat: Simply put, fat not only makes you fat, it makes you unhealthy and leads to disease as well. So switch to low-fat options or use healthier alternatives to ingredients that contain fat. Gravies can be made with vegetables like mushroom, garlic and onion instead of with turkey drippings and you could use low-fat dressing for your salads instead of resorting to creamy dressings. Use skim milk instead of whole milk for your white sauce, and make your gravies at home instead of buying them readymade.

• Reduce the salt and preservatives: It’s true that salt adds to the taste of any food and that without it, you’re just as likely to be eating tasteless cardboard. However, reduce the amount of salt you add to your food and instead, augment the taste with spices and seasonings like turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, lime, and thyme – they’re healthier and add a new flavor to your food.

• Boil and poach more, fry less: Whatever you’re serving, use healthy cooking methods that retain all the nutrition of the food and use less grease or cooking oil. Anything fried is out of your menu while grilled, boiled and poached items are acceptable. Boil veggies instead of sautéing them, and eat your mashed potatoes without butter or cream. If you’re used to adopting healthy cooking options throughout the year, following them around the holidays is no big deal.

• Choose healthy dessert options: Include more fresh fruit and homemade ice cream on the dessert menu and skip the rich, creamy cakes and pies. Use healthy sugar substitutes when you make your dessert, and make the portions small so you don’t feel guilty about indulging your sweet tooth.

• Use smaller plates: While not exactly a cooking tip, this trick helps you eat less. When your plate is full, you feel like you’ve had enough and you’re more likely to stop rather than reach for a second helping. So do yourself and your family a favor and use smaller plates to serve everyone. This way, you get to eat a little of everything and avoid the guilt of overeating or indulging too much.

Holidays are wonderful – you meet and spend time with family and friends and you have a great time; enhance the experience with wise food choices that lead to good physical and mental health.

By-line:

This guest post is contributed by Cindy Cullen, she writes on the topic of culinary art colleges . She welcomes your comments at her email id: cindycullen84@gmail.com.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Guest Post - Melanie from Melanie, Melanie, Melanie !

I am excited to introduce you to another IRL (in real life), wonderful friend. Melanie and I attend the same church and we met a few years ago. Melanie and I occasionally write devotions for ladies which are published on-line on our church's website, First Baptist Church, Brandon, FL called Encouraging Times . It wasn't until I read some of Melanie's devotions that I becamed hooked on her writing! I finally told her that if she'd write a blog, I'd totally follow her. She did, and I do!!! I just love her wit...and wisdom. Be sure to pay her a visit and check it out at Melanie, Melanie, Melanie! Melanie has two great kids (that are growing up way too fast), and has her own cleaning service too...That, and she's very active at church, and....well, you'll just have to see!
I won't hold you in suspense any longer... meet my friend, Melanie!

Welcome to December! On my one day off this month, here is my list of things to do:


Create, Print and Mail Christmas Cards

Begin (and complete!?) Christmas Shopping

Pick up craft supplies and food items for two school and two church related celebrations.

Create and Print Yearly Family Calendar

Write Blog on Simplifying Christmas.

Ironic, No?

Here is my calendar for the month:

So, “Simple Christmas”? Maybe that’s not a realistic expectation in my life right now. The funny thing is, compared to years past, I really have simplified. Thanks in large part to the blessing of a horrible economy, we have learned many important lessons on simplicity over the past couple of years. Yes, I said “blessing”. We are an easily distracted bunch around here. Money buys a lot of distractions. We could easily, given enough cash, spend endless hours “together” as a family yet never speak a word to one another, or look into each other’s eyes. So, painful as the shopping withdrawals sometimes are, yes, it’s been a blessing. We have grown so much closer, so much more real, as a family and there’s not a thing on earth I would trade that for.

So here it is December and we are still running around “willy-nilly”, how is that simpler? It’s not. Being a family is never simple, it’s always messy and busy, BUT it can be Focused. That is what we have gained. We are not doing less with our time, just better.

Curling up on the couch with my husband and watching the kids pull out and put up all the decorative memories from the years past instead of creating my own “designer tree” in the “formal room”.

Sitting in front of a fire reading Christmas stories with the family instead of climbing on the roof and through the bushes to string more lights.



FOCUS

A simple Christmas is not, I think, about emptying our calendar but about filling our calendar with hours of being a blessing to others and being with people who are a blessing to us.

A savior was born, and died for us. He did it so that we could have life: Eternal life in Glory with Him and abundant life here, for Him.

There you go. Simple.

Merry Christ-mas.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

GUEST POST - Donna Liljegren from Brynwood Needleworks

I am so thrilled to share my blog-friend with you! I don't remember how I met Donna from Brynwood Needleworks way back when, but I'm so glad I did. First of all, she's the sweetest bloggy friend! Second, she's uber-talented!!! You should see some of the great things she's made!!! I envy her talent, and secretly coveted everything she has made! When she'd post pics of things she was making and giving as gifts, I must admit whispering a "oh man! Wish that was me!" You have got to check out her blog!


And speaking of uber talented ...  She's sharing an adorable mug mat tutorial with us today.  Because she has given detailed pictures and lots of 'em (which I love and need!) she has provided us a link to the complete tutorial...pics and all!

I won't keep you any longer, beause I know you want to meet my friend, Donna!
Thanks so much, Jeanette, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog today. I hope your readers will enjoy creating their own mug mats!

This is a quick and easy gift to make for your friends or family. Different from the usual square or rectangle format, the White Wing Dove Mug Mat is sure to delight the recipient.
White Wing Dove Mat
© 2010 Donna Liljegren, Brynwood Needleworks

You can download the template for the “White Wing Dove” Mug Mat at http://brynwoodneedleworks.blogspot.com/p/free-bw-patternstutorials.html. Once you’re on the “Tutorials page”, go to the “Free Brynwood Pattern Downloads” section and scroll through the “Patterns”, until you see White Wing Dove Template. When you click on it, it will automatically download into your computer from Box.net. The full tutorial will also appear on the Tutorials page of my blog.

Here is the link for the entire tutorial: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26873391@N05/sets/72157625508932043/

Now, I can’t be a guest on Jeanette’s cooking blog without including a recipe for you!
I’d like to share my family’s Instant Hot Cocoa recipe. It’s not as decadent as some of the latest cocoa recipes I’ve seen lately, but you can make it sweeter simply by amending the proportions.

Merry Christmas, and God Bless Us, Everyone!

Brynwood Needleworks Instant Hot Cocoa

10 2/3 cups Powdered Milk
1 lb. box of Nestle’s Quick Mix
1 cup Powdered Sugar
8 oz. Coffee Mate (better to add more than less of the Coffee Mate)

Mix everything together in a large bowl and then store in an airtight container.
Spoon into a mug and cover with boiling water. Serve with marshmallows, if you’d like.
Perfect on cold, snowy days or nights. Enjoy!


Thanks Donna for sharing with us today! 

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Very Merry Christmas Party meme is here !!!

It's here! It's here! It's finally here!!!

The Very Merry Christmas Party has begun and you are all invited!

This is a week long party - right on through December 25th. I am going to leave the McLinky up for you to post a link to your Christmas decorations, crafts, food, parties...You name it! If it's Christmas, it fits!

All you have to do, is post the "Very Merry Christmas Party" button on your blog with a link back here, and then link up your post any time between Dec. 18th through the 25th. It's going to be so much fun seeing all the different celebrations and ideas. I, personally, will be visiting each one of you!
So, start crafting, baking, decorating, partying and blog about it! I'm looking forward to reading each and every link!!!

Important stuff: Be sure to post the button and link back here so everyone can enjoy the fun and see. Your link may be deleted if you don't have the button and link back on your blog - so please avoid the disappointment. I wouldn't want to see you disappointed.
If you need help posting the button and linking, just send me an email, or comment, and I'll try to help walk you through it.

Ready? Lets get this party started!








GUEST POST - Lindsay from Our Someday Family

Hi there Sweet Jeanette fans!  I'm Lin and I blog at Our Someday Family.  OSF started out as a place to chronicle (and sometimes virtually scream and cry about) our journey through inertility.  Now that our miracle little man (LMH for short) is here, I blogs about baby stuff, mommy stuff, work stuff, friend stuff, life stuff...random stuff!  Lately, I've been spending a lot of time blogging about how grateful I feel as I look back on our journey to now. It's a little bit homespun, a little bit of venting and a lot of love. I hope you'll come spend a bit of time with our family soon!  In the meantime, please check out my recipe for Gingered Orange Shortbread Cookies and a fun way to turn them into Christmas gifts. They're husband and coworker approved!
I love to bake, but I’m not a particularly good baker, at least not from scratch. When I was on maternity leave, I decided to try to perfect my baking skills in between naps, bottles and diaper changes. Some things turned out wonderfully, others not so much. The best example of “never to be baked again?” French Macaroons (if it came from Martha Stewart, I should have known it would never work for me!). The best example of “I’d make this again in a heartbeat?” Gingered Orange Shortbread Cookies.
It was my first attempt at shortbread, but as soon as I made them, I knew I’d be making them again and again. They're delicious and perfectly Christmas-y with a combo of ginger and orange. Then, when I found the story of “The Christmas Orange” I knew I had the perfect gift combo for my work colleagues this year!
My shortbread recipe is a conglomeration of the best things from the original Gingered Orange Shortbread and this Rosemary Chocolate Chip Shortbread from Melissa d’Arabian (also delicious, I might add). Shortbread is ridiculously easy. Even if you’ve never made a successful baked good in your life, you should try shortbread! It’s just butter, flour, sugar and whatever “mix-ins” you decide to add. Seriously, SO very easy!
Here's the cast of characters (full recipe at the end of the post):
Flour, Sugar, Butter, Vanilla, Orange Extract, Candied Ginger, Orange Peel
(Note, I left the salt out of the cast of characters! And, yes, that is Country Crock Spreadable Margarine. The Hubby grabbed that by accident at the store last week and I didn't realize until it was time to back. Serioulsy, though, these cookies are foolproof! They turned out just fine!)
 1) First, you cream the butter and sugar.
Seriously, who doesn't love a big bowl of butter and sugar?
 2) Next, add your extracts. I use vanilla and orange for this recipe.
3) Once the extracts are incorporated, add the flour, ¼ cup at a time, and the salt. Then, add your mix-ins (candied ginger and orange peel, in this case).
4) Beat until a dough ball forms. Divide the dough ball into two halves

It's done when the dough ball pulls away from the sides of the bowl like this!

5) Truth be told, I don’t even own a rolling pin. I just use my hands to roll logs the length of my cutting board. You may want to place a few sprinkles of flour on your rolling surface, but I’ve never had any trouble with the dough sticking to these cutting boards.

These are my absolute favorite cutting boards...from Ikea!
6) Wrap in foil and refrigerate shortbread logs for at least 1 hour.
7) Cut into ¼” slices. Place on baking sheet.
Nonstick foil is your friend!
 8) Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool and ENJOY!
Next I had to incorporate the Christmas Orange Story in some way.  I had originally envisioned a gift tag that had both the story and the recipe on it, but I couldn't fit the story on anything "tag" sized.  And, I'm not an Illustrator/InDesign whiz, so I ended up just creating a card in Publisher. The Christmas Orange Story and the recipe are on the inside.  Easy-Peasy! Here's the final gift:
And, as a bonus, be sure to tell your friends that they're AWESOME with Nutella, too! I've even had them crushed up on top of vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Mmmmmmmm!
However you decide to eat your Gingered Orange Shortbread, be sure you share some, too!  After all, if giving an orange at Christmas is an act of selfless love, what better way than in a cookie! 
Enjoy and Merry Christmas!
Gingered Orange Shortbread
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup candied ginger, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons orange zest
  • 2 tablespoon orange extract
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 300° F.
Cream butter. Cream together sugar and salt with the butter and then stir in the ginger pieces, orange zest, vanilla and orange extract. Mix in the flour just until the dough comes together. Form into two logs, wrap in foil and refrigerate for one hour or more until the dough is firm. Cut into 1/4″ slices and place on a foil or parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 300° F for 20-25 minutes, being careful not to let the edges burn. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet.

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