I won a wonderful prize from the ABC Toys and Crafts Design Team Blog. I'm so excited. It's a Martha Stewart Punch Around the Page Set - the 3 Dot Scallop edge design. It has edge punches that correspond to matching corner punches. They enable you to punch a continuous border around a page. This comes at such a perfect time because I am gearing up to make Christmas Cards. This set is definitely going to be put to good use. Thank you ABC Toys and Crafts Design Team!


Button Your Books!

Mama Jenn: Kiddos Create Challenge: BUTTONS

I've decided to join in on Mama Jenn's Kiddos Create Weekly Challenge. The idea is to have your kids make something creative out of the theme item for the week. You can also make something with your kids or for your kids. The item this week is ... buttons! After much thought, we decided to make button bookmarks.

First, we cut out rectangles from a box made of thin cardboard. Cereal boxes are the perfect thickness.

The kids then cut tiny pieces of tissue paper of all colors. They used glue to cover the cardboard strips. They then chose several buttons to glue to the top of their strips. Let them dry and voila ... button bookmarks!
The kids had a blast making them and they encourage reading! Thanks for the inspiration Mama Jenn!

Born Again Apple Pie!

I come from a long line of pie makers. Everyone in the family makes pies and I love making pies. I make them so often without following a recipe that it always catches me off guard when someone asks me to teach them how to make a pie. How to make a pie? What do you mean? I don't understand the question... That's the translation of the look that is usually on my face!

Yesterday we had a special guest visiting for dinner and at the last minute I decided to bake an apple pie. I quickly made and rolled out some dough, sliced up some apples, seasoned everything, put it together and threw it in the oven just before our guest arrived. After a lovely dinner I brought out a beautiful sparkling pie (I sprinkle sugar on the crust before baking - hence the sparkles). Imagine my shock, disbelief and horror, when I, the mistress of pies, cut into her perfect pie only to reveal apples floating in brown water! In my haste, I had forgotten to put in a thickener -which is almost always needed for a fruit pie. I usually use cornstarch, but sometimes use tapioca or even flour. Well this pie had none of the above! I was beyond embarrassed - though our guest and my family happily ate the apple soup. The apples were quite tasty and the crust was delicious. I was still very upset.

Sooo... after our guest left and the kids were in bed, I tried a little experiment. The pie was about half gone, but the pie plate was still filled with brown cinnamon flavored water. I stirred some cornstarch into the liquid I could see and just kind of hoped it would work it's way into the part under the crust. I put the pie back into the oven at 350 for 20 minutes or so.


When I took the pie out it had thickened beautifully. It was smooth as can be and oh so tasty! While I saved this pie - or at least half of it, I have definitely learned my lesson - no rushing while making pies anymore.


Chicken in Creamy Tomatillo Sauce

Here is a recipe I created! I was searching online for a recipe using tomatillos, but did not have the complete list of ingredients called for in any of the recipes. So....I made up my own! It turned out fabulous and I will be definitely using it again. Hope you enjoy it!

4 Tomatillos - quartered

1/2 yellow onion - chopped

3 cloves garlic - chopped

1 banana pepper - chopped

1 t fresh basil - chopped

1 t fresh scallion - chopped

1 10.75 oz can cream of mushroom soup

1 T olive oil

1/2 onion sliced

2 chicken breasts

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano

cooked brown rice

1. Blend first six ingredients in food processor.

2. Put mixture in small saucepan and simmer 10 minutes.

3. Add can cream of mushroom soup. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently

4. Cut bone from chicken breast, slice into thin fillets.

5. Brown chicken with onion slices in olive oil on both sides.

6. Add can diced tomatoes to chicken and onions. Simmer 3 minutes.

7. Pour chicken, onions and tomatoes into 9 X 13 casserole dish.

8. Pour tomatillo sauce on top.

9. Bake in oven for 45 minutes.

10. Serve over brown rice.

What Will $200 Buy You?

Who couldn't use $200? Well, here is a chance to win a $200 gift card to Best Buy. Stephanie from a Year of Slow Cooking reviewed a Samsung fridge and got it for FREE. Yes, absolutely hers to keep. Now, if you go to her review site and comment on what appliance would change your life, you can have a chance to win a $200 gift card. You have until November 15 to enter!

Totally Together Reviews: Samsung Stainless Steel French Door Refrigerator Review and $200 Best Buy Gift Card Give-Away


This should be easy... I love tea!

A friend who is a public school teacher received this information from the school nurse. I know there are a ton of tips and advice on how to avoid catching the H1N1 virus, but a couple of these are some I had not heard before. So at the risk of posting something you may already know, I thought I'd share what she sent...

"In a global epidemic of this nature, it's almost impossible to avoid coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions. Contact with H1N1 is not so much of a problem as proliferation is. While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps, not fully highlighted in most official communications, can be practiced:
1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).
2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face unless you want to eat or bathe.
3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine or Hydrogen Peroxide if you don't trust salt).
*H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation.
Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.
4. Similar to 3 above, *clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water, or hydrogen peroxide.
*Not everybody may be comfortable using a Neti Pot to clean nasal cavities, but *blowing the nose softly once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.*
5. *Boost your natural immunity with foods rich in Vitamin C.:
: Red peppers, Papayas, Green peppers, Broccoli, Strawberries, Brussel Sprouts, Citrus fruits (oranges, grape fruit, etc.), Kiwi Fruit, Tomato Soup, Kellogg's Product 19 cereal, General Mill's Whole Grain Total cereal, Cantaloupe, Mangos, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Cranberries
(make up some homemade cranberry sauce with a bag of fresh cranberries, a little brown sugar, orange juice and grated orange rind yum!)
*If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.
6. *Drink warm liquids (tea, coffee, etc). *Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. Proliferating viruses are washed from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm."

Focusing on trying to prevent the proliferation of the H1N1 virus makes sense because it is almost impossible to prevent germs from entering the mouth and nose. Those germs and viruses can either lay dormant for awhile or multiply and strengthen.
Since the mouth and nose are the main entrance into our body, it is important to practice daily steps of keeping these openings clean and strong. You can be healthy and feel fine without realizing that various germs/viruses, such as H1N1, can be present in the body via the nose and mouth without realizing. It is all about prevention rather than acting when you feel sick.