Thursday, November 27

Happy Thanksgiving...

A young mom shared an idea with me I'd like to pass along. Years ago, she received a letter from a student of hers telling her how she had impacted this girl's life. The young mom was a new teacher at the time and was moved that a student would take the time to write such a note. The student explained that it was a 'tradition' in their family to choose one person each year that made a difference in their life. Then they would write a note of gratitude to that person on Thanksgiving Day. This young mom was going to start that 'tradition' with her young 4 year old this year.

Most of you will be reading this after your Thanksgiving Day is done, but consider choosing someone who has impacted your life this year. Sometime over the weekend, send off a note of thanks to that person and let them know how they impacted your life. Tell them you are writing only ONE letter and it is to them!

If you do this with your children, the first few years they may choose daddy or grandma or grandpa to write to, but if they do this each year, they will begin to 'look' for people in their life that are making a difference. They will also become aware of how they may be impacting others!

I think I will commit to do this each year. A truly wonderful Thanksgiving Tradition.

Wednesday, November 26

Caramel Apple Bars

Here is a tasty dessert for fall days and cool nights. They are best served warm. Caution: the butter content is not low for those trying to eat healthy! I only make these if I am taking them somewhere so I don't eat the whole pan myself.

Caramel Apple Bars

2 cups flour
2 cups quick cooking rolled oats
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 cups butter, melted
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
3 TBS flour
2 cups finely chopped peeled Granny Smith apples (or whatever you have on hand)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and set aside. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and melted butter. Stir with wooden spoon and mix until crumbly.

Press half to ¾ (about 3 cups) of this mixture in prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine ice cream topping and 3 TBS flour. Mix well with wire whisk. Sprinkle apples over lightly baked crust in pan. Pour caramel mixture over apples and sprinkle with reserved crumbly mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool and cut into bars.


Tuesday, November 25

Another Thanksgiving Favorite...

Lena said to Ole "My 2 specialties are meatballs and peach pie"
Ole answered "Oh,I see- and which one is this?"


Here's a favorite recipe that even Ole would salivate over...

Barb's Best Pecan Pie

9" unbaked pie crust
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 tsp. salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 heaping cup pecan halves

Prepare pie crust. Combine filling. Mix well
Pour filling into crust. Sprinkle with pecans.
Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until center is set. (Insert toothpick)
(Cover with foil when baking if it gets too brown)
Serve with ice cream. Delish!

Please participate in our contest, share your recipes! (See yesterday's posting) If you are afraid you will WIN and don't want your picture on our blog, we will put a picture of Lena instead! So please share your joy of cooking with us all!

Monday, November 24

Recipe contest!

All of us could use new recipes....especially for the holidays. So we're having a recipe contest!

Please post one of your favorite recipes for Thanksgiving or Christmas in the comment section.

We'll test out the recipes and choose the one we like best. The winner will be recognized on the blog with her photo. AND she gets to choose a topic that we will post about for one week. ANY topic.




Can't wait to receive and try your recipes!

Contest ends Thursday December 4.

Thanksgiving recipes!

In the next few days you might be asked to bring a recipe to a relative's house, to a potluck or maybe you are hosting thanksgiving for the very first time yourself.

Whatever the case, this week Barb and I will post a few of our favorite recipes for turkey day.

Today I'm including my tried and true Green Bean Casserole. It's not the typical ingredients...much more flavorful and tastier. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Grandma’s Green Bean Casserole
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon white sugar
* 1/4 cup onion, diced
* 1 cup sour cream
* 3 (14.5 ounce) cans French style green beans, drained
* 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
* French Fried Onions (as much as you like)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth, and cook for one minute. Stir in the salt, sugar, onion, and sour cream. Add green beans, and stir to coat.
3. Transfer the mixture to a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Spread shredded cheese over the top.
4. Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is golden and cheese is bubbly.
5. Sprinkle French Fried Onions over the cheese. Bake another 5 minutes.

Note: I mix in one cup of the cheese and put one cup on top of the beans. I use a lot of the French Fried Onions!! I use 4 cans of beans instead of 3 and I often use regular beans...not french style.

Friday, November 21

Home Improvement...Use Your Money Wisely!

Hopefully, a few of the money-saving tips we shared with you this week sparked an interest to be mindful of your spending/saving habits.

Here's one of the better tips I've heard. Freeze a block of ice in your freezer. Just as it hardens, slip your credit card into the middle of it! If you have more than one card, freeze as many ice blocks as you need. Store them in your freezer for an emergency...then use cash to purchase your necessities.

I am told that freezing the cards will not damage the magnetic strips, so no excuses for not putting your Visa on 'ice' for awhile!

What a great Home Improvement exercise this could be for all of us to eliminate needless spending over the holidays.

Thursday, November 20

Buy or borrow?

In today's world we are bombarded by ads, commercials, and billboards that tell us what we need and when we need it. We are told to consume, consume, consume...

We don't really need everything "they" tell us we do.

And why buy when you can borrow?

Recently I've learned that I don't need to register or purchase everything that Babies-R-Us offers. I've received so much baby stuff from other people. Some has been borrowed, some has been given. This has taught me much. Why do we save stuff and hoard it in our basements and closets when we can share it with others?

There are many items that you could borrow rather than buy. Here are just a few:
Children's clothing
Dishes/serving platters (for special occasions)
Many baby items
Tools used for specific projects
Household items like large ladders

If you buy all this, not only will you spend more money, but you will also have to find a place to store it all. So next time you are tempted, ask yourself, "Buy or borrow?"

Wednesday, November 19

Save Money at the Grocery Store!

It's never easy to cut back on spending, especially at the grocery store!

My husband and I have lived on commission for most of our married life, so I have found over the years it is easier to have a system in place for sensible shopping, rather than cut corners severely when the income wasn't there. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Shop with a plan. I always try to have a list along when I shop and stick to that list! I make a weekly menu and make sure I have the items I need for the meals I will be serving. If the budget is lean, I choose recipes that are economical.

2. I found a 'planned menu' keeps variety on the table.

3. Emilie Barnes taught me to shop within a half hour. A study suggested that customers spent at least 75 cents a minute after a half-hour in the store! This is another reason to shop with a list!

4. I try to avoid rush hour and busy weekends...and try never to shop when I am hungry!

5. I buy the fruits and vegetables that are in season...lots of corn on the cob in the summer, and then I buy squash in the fall. In-season foods are tastier and cheaper.

6. I try to shop alone. Even my husband will throw in 'extras' that we don't need when I am trying to keep my spending down. Kids will slow your shopping down and will plead for everything they've seen advertised on TV!

7. I will stock up when the money comes in, and then I live 'out of the pantry' when the money is tight. Creativity and 'presentation of the food' can be fun challenge to master as you serve your family and still maintain a budget.

Join us and share your money-saving tips. Help us all be better stewards of our money.

Tuesday, November 18

Temperature tips

My home, cute as it is, was built in 1938 and it's cold!

I've been working all day on an article that's due this week and as I type my fingers are ice cold. ICE COLD.

It is 31 degrees outside and thermostat in my home is set at 69 degrees...I am unusually cold at all I've got to do something or it will be a very chilly winter in the May household.

Rather than crank up my thermostat and pay the consequences later, I did a little research on how to keep my home temperature high and my heating bills low.

According to WCCO television, the average family spends $1,000 a year to heat its home. Here are a few tips to help reduce heating costs this winter:

Check outlets on outer walls. If they are letting in cold air, plug em.

If you have an attic door(s) use weather stripping to seal the attic door.

Seal all windows (or add plastic to them like we did!).

Turn down the thermometer at night and when you are not at home. Get a prgrammable thermostat (for as little as $32). Turn your thermostat to 68 during the day and lower at night or when you are gone for extended periods of time.

Replace or clean furnace filters once a month. And be sure to schedule a furnace tune-up so it is running efficiently.

Let the sunshine blinds/drapes and let nature heat your home on sunny days. Close them when the sun goes down or on cloudy days - it keeps the warmth in.

Close off vents and rooms that are not used daily. Keep the warmth in the rooms you reside in most often.

If you live in a newer home you probably don't have to worry about attics or old windows. But if your home is big, it still takes a lot of energy to heat.

Don't we all have other things we would rather spend our money on than the heating bill? Lets be wise stewards of our resources...and reap the rewards later!

Monday, November 17

We're Back...with Money-Saving Tips!

We apologize for the interruption on this blog. A gremlin shut it down for a bit, but I think we are good to go there anyone still checking out this blog? I hope so, because Stacy and I are excited to kick-off the holiday season with money-saving tips!

It isn't fun heading into the Christmas season with a tough economy and many jobs on the line, but it's a great time to really focus on the meaning of Christmas and make that shine in your home this year.

Creativity is the key, I think. Be creative when you are thinking of giving gifts.

This year, tell your friends that you will spend time rather than money and plan an evening when you can just hang out together.

Give a photo of you or your family to grandma and grandpa rather than buy an expensive present.

Bake with your children and give away the bounty.

Use cash to purchase the rest of your gifts. If you don't have the money, don't spend it!

Focus on making memories, not debt.

Do a fun, simple project with your kids every day during December as you count down to Christmas. By the time the 25th arrives, you will have made 25 memories and gifts will not be the focus. Need examples? With or without kids, you can...
Go caroling one night
Take several nights to decorate your home
Light candles and spend the evening remembering past Christmases
Set a pretty table every night in honor of Christ's birth
String popcorn and cranberries
Read several Christmas books out loud throughout the season
Wear red one day every week. Wear green one day every week!
Make your own wrapping paper by stamping veggies in paint and pressing on butcher paper!

Got the idea? Be creative...and only use cash when buying presents this year. Not only will you have a Merry Christmas, but also a Happy New Year...debt-free!

Wednesday, November 5

The Day After...

So how did your candidates do last night?

Did your vote put the people you wanted in office?

The verse that came to my mind this morning was 2Timothy 1:7, "For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind(KJV)."

This year in Homemakers with Hope, we are focusing on our MINDS. What we think and why we dwell on those thoughts. Results of an election of this magnitude can make us lazy if we think 'our people' won and they will take care of us from here on out, or it can make us fearful as we wonder what the future will bring.

A wise woman is a woman who isn't fearful, but has a sound mind. She knows her help comes from the Lord, 'who made the heavens and the earth'.(Ps.121)

Ps 40:4 says, Blessed is the woman who makes the LORD her trust (I inserted the feminine pronouns!)

God has given women the potential for a sound mind, but we need to evaluate what we are thinking continually.

Already this morning, the radio is a-buzz telling us what to think and how to act now that the election is over.

Check yourself as you move forward after this election. Are you a woman who is developing a sound mind?

Do you give thanks in all things?
Do you pray continually?
Do you guard your heart and mind?
Are you faithful in your responsibilities?
Do you have a servant's heart?
Do you use your time wisely?
Do you show self discipline in your words, your habits, your thinking, your emotions?

That's just for starters! This day after the election leaves me with much to do! I don't need to be told what to think and how to act after the election. I have plenty to keep my mind occupied as I strive to become a woman with a sound mind.

Tuesday, November 4

How many elections will you vote in during your lifetime?

Today my husband and I went to vote. We stood in line for 1 hour 15 minutes. While we were waiting a couple went to the front of the line - they were 94 years old. They had voted in 20 elections.


Ryan and I counted that this was our 4th election we have the privilege of voting in.

I was in awe that a couple of 94 years of age...moving quite delicately and slowly...would take the time and make it a priority to vote.

I wish I could sit down with that couple...and talk to them about what they've seen and experienced in life. About their marriage and commitment to one another. About the changes in politics, government, education, jobs. Can you imagine how different life was when they voted in their first election?

Just seeing them inspired me. Inspired me to make sure I always made it a priority to cast my ballot. Inspired me to stay committed to my spouse for the next 16 elections! Inspired me to look to the future with hope and anticipation.

Monday, November 3

Women...Did You Know?

Did you know that women have been voting for only 88 years? In 1920, women were given the right to vote in the 19th amendment.

Read It describes what some women did to obtain this freedom for us. After reading this article, you will have no excuse for not getting out to vote.

Tomorrow is our opportunity as women to cast our vote to keep America free and strong. Here are some web sites that may help you with any last minute questions you might have about where to vote, who is your candidate and what issues you need to be aware of: Click on 'give me the facts' and then type in your zipcode

What a privilege it is to vote. As a young child, I remember my dad getting up early on election day, dress for work and head to the polling place to be one of the first in line. He always spoke positively about the experience and set a good example for me.

Be mindful, moms, of the little eyes and ears that are watching you tomorrow. Talk about the privilege of voting, the freedoms that America has and the opportunity you have to cast a ballot for the people you want to run this great country.

Celebrate our rights and get out and VOTE tomorrow!

Sunday, November 2

Life as a homemaker

Yesterday marked the 30th day since Samuel's birth - the last day of the birth father's rights. So today Ryan and I feel quite confident that we can move forward with adoption plans.

Of course as we have learned, God's plans are very different than ours... but as I sit here holding my miracle I'm at peace that God is in control.

This week we'll return to Homemaking topics (like politics!). I feel like I'm lacking in the Homemaking department these days.... clothes are piling up and I'm living out of my laundry basket.

...I still haven't unpacked from Hawaii (I returned on Sept. 29!!).

...I finally cooked my first real meal today in my newly remodeled kitchen.

But I'm trying to give myself some grace. It took me eight years to become a wife and just 3 hours one Saturday to become a mom (if you don't count the previous three years of waiting).

So I'm learning a little bit at a time. And I hope you'll learn along with me. Even though today is the last posting (for now!) on the miracle of Samuel, I'm sure I'll be blogging about my new role as a mom...and asking all you moms for advice and help.

You can always check out updates of Samuel on

Who knew when I posted on Friday October 3 about hanging clothes on the line what my next month would hold?

Life as a Homemaker....always full of surprises. We're so glad you're on this journey with us.