Saturday, December 21, 2013

Our Christmas Menu

I know that I usually share our menu for the week, but, this week it will just be our Christmas menu.
With work, more work, wrapping, shopping, visiting, Christmas Eve, Christmas and more work it is going to be a busy week to say the least.  I am really looking forward to the time with family and friends, despite the schedule!

I do an annual appetizers & desserts open house style visiting day on Christmas.  This is the 3rd or 4th year and it works out well.  We start the day with some quiet family time and we have breakfast together and open gifts.  Then, the company arrives and we visit.  If my kids can stay up late enough, I would love to finish the day with a family Christmas movie.  So far they have not made it past 6pm, haha!

This is our menu, balanced between the kid palates and the adult preferences.

For appetizers we are having:
1 - Crockpot ham made into ham sandwiches(we are making)
2 - Sausage Appetizers (we are making)
3 - Crabbie Appetizers (we are making)
4 - Fruit Salad (store bought)
5 - Meatballs and red sauce (store)
6 - Kielbasa & maple (us)
7 - Veggie tray & dip (us)
8 - Cheese & crackers (store)
9 - Toasted Ravioli (store)
10 - Buffalo Chicken Dip & veggies & scoops (store)
11 - Artichoke & Spinach Dip & scoops (store)
12 - Bagel Bites (store)
13 - Spiral Sandwiches (store)
14 - Beverages: Party Punch, coffee, water & soda with juice boxes for kids (us/store)

For desserts:
1. shortbread cookies (store)
2. Tree cakes (store)
3. Cream Puffs (store)
4. Kiss cookies (us)
5. M&M cookies (us)
6. Brownies (us)
7. Fancy Carmel popcorn (coworker)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

10 Things - New TV Shows - Fall 2013

The Originals

I gave 10 new shows a shot this fall (OK, maybe I tried more than 10 but this is about 10 Things, OK?).  Some were good, some were bad and some are on their way to being cancelled!  My opinions, in no particular order, are below:
  1. Michael J. Fox's Show - OK but I am only keeping it on my Season Pass because my hubby likes it.
  2. Sleepy Hollow - I LOVE this show!  I really like Abby & Icky.  And,  together they are pure TV magic.  They are hunting down clues and working together as a great team.
  3. The Tomorrow People - I like this show and may attempt to pick it up again some day.  But, it had to go for now as I have too many shows.
  4. The Blacklist - Still hanging in there.  But, if my DVR gets too full this is probably the next to go.
  5. Hostages - I currently have 4 or 5 episodes on my DVR.  I like it and I like that it has a finite life span.  But, somehow I haven't got around to watching this show.
  6. Dracula - I had incredibly high hopes for this show because I love me some Jonathan Rhys Meyers and some vampires.  But, so far it just isn't grabbing me.  I don't care too much about any of the characters except the butler.  I don't think that was the network's plan.  I do wish JRM luck with his sobriety.  Maybe he needs the junk to be a convincing mad man.
  7. The Witches of East End - I really like this show!  But, I just don't have enough time for it now.  I noticed that Lifetime makes episodes available online.  I may try to catch up over Winter Break.  But, as I already have a stockpile of shows to watch during winter break, this may have to wait until summer.
  8. The Goldberg's -Critics of this show mentioned that they thought people would like this show and laugh JUST because they were having fun reliving the 80's.  While I agree with this, I also think that the show is just funny!  There is a great cast and I like the writing about the family.  The Grandpa is one of my favorites.
  9. The Crazy Ones -I thought that a show with this cast would be amazing!  However, I do have a really strong aversion to 30 minute comedies that came about from investing in 30 minute comedies that were too quickly cancelled.
  10. The Originals -I watch The Vampire Diaries and decided to give this a go.  I am not a Claus fan.  I really wasn't feeling this show after the first couple of episodes .  But, I kept watching and now it is one of my favorites.  I was sucked in by the baby-hybrid story line and the vast cast.  I really like how we get to know so many other supernatural creatures in this show.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Weekly Dinner Menu - December 16, 2013

Monday -   Kielbasa, Cabbage and Onions in the Crockpot like we made HERE.

Tuesday -   Easy Pasta Dish -  Manicotti and Meatballs
Wednesday -  leftovers

Thursday -    Social Engagement so no dinner at home.

Friday - Broiled shrimp & scallops (we have a little leftover of both of these) with oven baked potatoes of some sort and a green veggie.

Saturday -   Tilapia or Cod with a sides that are TBD.
Sunday -    TBD - I am considering ending the menus on Saturday because I am still planning for today's meal (Sunday) on the day I prep the menu.  It seems to be a consistent challenge to come up with Sunday's meal so look for a shake-up next week.

Last Sunday we didn't make anything in the Crockpot but on Monday, my husband made sweet Italian sausage, peppers, onions and potatoes and they came out great.  We wanted to buy a second Crockpot.  We ended up getting the Ninja and this was our first experience using the Ninja as a slow cooker.

Sickness came to our house in a big way last week (strep x2) so the menu is completely out of sync.  Tonight we are having company so I am making the veggie spiral and the Coca Cola Chicken.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Weekly TV Update - December 11, 2013

Shannon's current TV lineup:

  1. Sleepy Hollow (Monday)
  2. 2 Broke Girls (Monday)
  3. The Blacklist (Monday)
  4. Revenge (Sunday)
  5. The Goldberg's (Monday)
  6. Revolution (Wednesday)
  7. Nashville (Wednesday)
  8. The Michael J. Fox Show (Thursday)
  9. The Vampire Diaries (Thursday)
  10. The Originals (Tuesdays)
  11. Hart of Dixie (Monday)
  12. Arrow (Wednesday)
  13. Mike & Molly (Monday)
  14. Dracula (Friday)
  15. The Carrie Diaries (Friday)
  16. Grimm (Friday)
 Other Info:

Entering the last year of the series - How I Met Your Mother (ends May/June 2014).
The Walking Dead will be back for the second half of Season 4 on February 9, 2014.
Coming soon:
The Following - Due back in January 19 & 20, 2014 - a 2 night premiere!  This has actually changed to 1/19/14 and then the second episode will air the following week (instead of the next night).  That it to make room for the Season 1 finale of Sleepy Hollow.
And finally, my comments: 
  • Bones & How I Met Your Mother and Hostages - I have decided to let these episodes pile up on my DVR.  During last year's winter hiatus I watched them all and that was a fun treat.
  • The Originals -  
  • Vampire Diaries -  
  • Nashville
  • The Goldberg's -
  • Revolution -  I didn't have a new episode.
  • Arrow
  • Michael J. Fox - I didn't get a new episode of this, either.
  • Dracula -  
  • The Carrie Diaries
  • Grimm -  What a spooky little demon kid!  Gadzooks!  It's nice that Juliette
     is able to help Nick with his crime solving now.
  • Revenge
  • 2 Broke Girls
  • The Blacklist -  
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Mike & Molly -

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Great Slipper Hunt

Flower Clog Slippers
I need a good pair of slippers!

I actually had this problem last year.  I took a Facebook survey and decided to take the plunge and buy some expensive (to me, anyway) slippers.  I think I bought them during the 50% off sale so they were $24.50.

I bought the Land's End Purple Clog Slippers.  They fit well.  They are warm & fuzzy.  I don't slip when wearing them.  The problem is that there is almost too much padding on the bottom and my feet seem to slip off of the padding onto either side of the slipper.  This is WEIRD.  I know it.  But, it makes me not love my slippers.

Here is the link if you want to see them:

Can anyone make a recommendation of some awesome slippers?  Bonus points if you recommend a brand with a deal going on now!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Oven Roasted Sausage, Potatoes and Vegetables

1 lb. Kielbasa
Mmmmmmmmm, I think that I have a new favorite!  I found a Pin for this dinner and finally made it!  It was originally Pinned by Lila's Apron here.   While the blogger is not a prolific writer, she has a great personality and some even better recipes!
Bell Pepper, Onion, Idaho Potatoes

All you need is:
  • 1 lb of sausage (I used Kielbasa because that is what we had on hand)
  • 4-5 potatoes (I used Idaho because that is what we had)
  • 1 sliced bell pepper (any color)
  • 1-2 large sliced onions
  • 1 small jar of banana peppers (I used mild)
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Creole seasoning (I used Old Bay)

Banana Peppers, Olive Oil & Seasonings
  • Preheat over to 400 degrees F
  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil
  • Use a large bowl and add diced sausage, potatoes, onions and peppers with the olive oil.  Stir to coat.  Add banana peppers and stir some more.
  • Spread mixture onto the baking sheet and spread it out to the same thickness.
  • Sprinkle salt, pepper and other seasonings.
  • Bake for 35 minutes or so until potatoes are tender.
  • The type of potatoes will really effect the cooking time and you don't want to serve this until the potatoes are done.  I cooked it for a full 40 minutes or so.
  • Use the middle rack of your oven so that the Kielbasa doesn't over cook.
  • I added some Italian Seasoning.
  • Before Cooking
  • My husband thinks that this would be great with the addition of Italian sausage and I think that he is right!
In the Bowl

After Cooking

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Advent Calendars Without Candy

This year I decided to try something new.  We usually do those el cheapo advent calendars that come filled with chocolates.  My kids are both 4 now and they really enjoy those chocolate advent calendars. But, I always see adorable, and creative homemade advent calendars on the internet and I finally decided to make some!

For those of you who are not familiar with Advent Calendars, they are a small way for kids to count down to the celebration of Christ's Birth.  You start on December 1st and finish up on December 24th or 25th depending on how generous your calendar maker was.  You have to find the day's number on the flap, pop it open and find the prize inside.  The chocolate versions have been around forever.  I received them most years when I was a kid.

We picked up 2-14 inch "tool" organizers at Home Depot.  They each could have 27 compartments each.  My husband bought them for $4.97 each.  I am planning to re-use the organizers for at least the next few years.

We are going to let the kids pick 1 treat from all 24 treats each day.  We did not worry about assigning days at this stage of development.  It would be cute to put numbers inside of each compartment and I may do that in the future.  Stickers with numbers or numbers printed from a label maker would work.

For my daughters box we put in:
Cupcake pony-tail holders: blue (from a 2 pack) DT
Pink beaded necklace (from a pack of necklace & bracelet) DT
Christmas themed erasers (from a big multipack) DT
Cupcake pony-tail holders: pink (from a 2 pack) DT
Minnie Mouse's Bunny friend (from a 3 piece play set) TRU
Pony-tail holders: pink & purple DT
Tiny decorated Dispenser (from a 3 pack) TRU
Pink beaded bracelet (from
Hello Kitty lip balm (from a multipack)
Calico Critters panda twins
Cupcake barrettes: pink
Cupcake barrettes: blue
Orange scented marker
Mini Mouse (from
Pink glow sticks
Pink nail polish
Purple nail polish
Minnie Mouse Scooter
Stickers (rolled up)
Sheriff's Badge
Doc McDtuffins wash cloth
Toy Story tissues

For my son's box we put in:
Trash can friends
Christmas erasers
Mini tape
Matchbox Jeep
Strawberry scented marker
Sully figurine
Mike wozinski figurine
Yellow fire engine Matchbox car
Bumble Bee Transformer
Toy Story tissues (under the Winnie the Pooh tissues)
2 glow sticks
2 Sheriff badges
Iron Man wash cloth
Police Matchbox car

$39 spent at Toys R Us (wait until you go to the Dollar Tree to buy the wash cloths as they are $1.49 at TRU).  $19 spent at DT.  $58 plus the $10 for the organizers may be a little over budget for some families.  If you don't buy anything at TRU and stick with just a dollar store and/or you include candy you could definitely bring the cost per box way down.  These boxes average out to $34 per 4 year old child.  (If we already had the containers, it would have been $29).

For full disclosure, it should be noted that my kids actually received 2 advent calendars for the December count down as we had already purchased Scooby Doo Chocolate Advent Calendars.  I bought them a few weeks ago because I didn't think that I would actually get my act together and prepare the homemade advent calendars.  Next year I will not buy the chocolate calendars and will DIY it again using the same boxes.

Weekly Dinner Menu - December 9, 2013

Monday -   Buffalo Mac & Cheese.  We made it before HERE.  We were hoping to make this last week but we never did.

Tuesday -   Easy Pasta Dish - Spaghetti & Meatballs. 
Wednesday -      Tilapia or Cod with a delicious Veggie Spiral like the one we made HERE.

Thursday -     Coca Cola Chicken inspired by Six Sisters HERE.  There are tons of variations of this recipe floating around the internet.  Sides will be mac&cheese and a veggie.

Friday -  leftovers
Saturday -   Shrimp, seasoned baked potatoes and a veggie.
Sunday -    Once again, I want to make something big & yummy in the Crock-pot but, I don't know what yet.  Once I decide I will post about it.  (I know that I owe an update for last week, too.  All I have so far is that it will be something with sausage in it).

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Weekly TV Update - December 4, 2013

Grimm -  A Friday Night Fav

Shannon's current TV lineup:
  1. Boardwalk Empire (Sunday)-season is over
  2. Bones (Monday)
  3. Sleepy Hollow (Monday)
  4. 2 Broke Girls (Monday)
  5. Hostages (Monday)
  6. The Blacklist (Monday)
  7. Revenge (Sunday)
  8. Homeland (Sunday)-season is over
  9. The Goldberg's (Monday)
  10. Revolution (Wednesday)
  11. Nashville (Wednesday)
  12. The Michael J. Fox Show (Thursday)
  13. The Vampire Diaries (Thursday)
  14. The Originals (Tuesdays)
  15. Hart of Dixie (Monday)
  16. The Walking Dead (Sunday)
  17. The Talking Dead (Sunday)
  18. Arrow (Wednesday)
  19. How I Met Your Mother (Monday)
  20. Mike & Molly (Monday)
  21. Dracula (Friday)
  22. The Carrie Diaries (Friday)
  23. Grimm (Friday)
  24. The Crazy Ones
  25. Sons of Anarchy (Tuesday)
  26. Drop Dead Diva (Sunday)
  27. The Witches of East End (Sunday)
  28. American Horror Story: Coven (Wednesday)
  29. Giuliana & Bill - now airing on E! (Tuesday)
  30. The Tomorrow People (Wednesday)
  31. Keeping Up With the Kardashians (Sunday)
 Other Info:

Entering the last year of the series - How I Met Your Mother (ends May/June 2014)
Coming soon:
The Following - Due back in January 19 & 20, 2014 - a 2 night premiere!
And finally, my comments:  This week is going to look strange because a ton of shows weren't on Thanksgiving week and I had a bit of a DVR pile up before.  But, since I hardly had anything on the DVR from Thanksgiving week, I am worried that I have a DVR issue.
    • Bones & How I Met Your Mother - I have decided to let these episodes pile up on my DVR.  During last year's winter hiatus I watched them all and that was a fun treat.
    • The Originals -  
    • Vampire Diaries -  
    • Nashville
    • The Goldberg's -
    • Revolution -  
    • Arrow
    • Michael J. Fox
    • Dracula -  
    • The Carrie Diaries
    • Grimm -  I am so happy that Juliette is now "in the know" on everything and she knows about "M" or Mom as well!
    • The Walking Dead - Fall Season Finale:
    • Revenge
    • 2 Broke Girls -  So funny!  I say that ever week. 
    • Hostages -  
    • The Blacklist -  
    • Hart of Dixie
    • Mike & Molly -

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

    Saving Money At The Grocery Store

    I wanted to share this article with you all today.  The article is titled How To Save On Food.   It is written by one of my favorite bloggers, Ruth from Living Well, Spending Less.  Especially since Thanksgiving has just passed, a lot of us have food on our minds.  Hopefully you were able to give something to a local food drive.  My children's preschool had a Thanksgiving basket food drive that we contributed to.

    An easy way to save money and build your own stockpile of grocery items (which leads further savings) to is to shop the sales!  This is pretty basic in terms of theories on how to save on food.  But, it is my favorite because it is easy.

    You go to the store and you buy the items that you would normally use anyway that are on sale now.  Buy enough to last until the next sale (usually about 2 months but depending on your grocery store/chain this could be different).  Take the items home and place the extras in a specified area.  If you have room in your kitchen cabinets or pantry, that is ideal.  But, if you don't just find another space.  Now, when you run out of an item, you won't have to pay full price for the replacement.  You can just go into your stockpile and replenish your item.

    Repeating this cycle with your different grocery staples will really help your grocery budget over time.  Here is my favorite segment from the article:

    Let me make it more clear with an example.  Say your family eats 2 boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios every week.  The regular price for Honey Nut Cheerios is $4.50 a box, but when you go to the store this week, you see it is on sale for only $1.99 a box–more than 50% off the regular price!   Instead of buying only 2 boxes like you normally would for your weekly shopping trip, you buy 12 boxes–enough to last your family for the next 6 weeks at less than half the price you would normally pay.


    I hope you enjoy the article and the ideas! 

    Monday, December 2, 2013

    DIY Taco Seasoning - That Was Easy!

    Put Your Kid to Work & Have Her Mix
    I have seen pins floating around Pinterest for making your own Taco seasoning.  I actually am not in

    love with the flavor that you get from the packaged Taco seasoning mixes.  So, I decided to give the whole making my own Taco Seasoning thing a try!

    I am happy to report that this was much more tasty than what I usually buy.

    I liked the info and recipe from Smashed Peas and Carrots the best.  I don't think that it is cheaper to make your own as the little packets are only about $0.75 each.  But, maybe if you already own all the spices it is cheaper?  I had to go shopping.

    All you need is:
    1/4 cup chili powder
    1 1/2 tsp onion powder
    1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1 1/2 tsp cumin
    1 1/2 oregano
    1/2 tsp paprika
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp pepper
    Mix everything together in a bowl.  One packet of store bought taco seasoning will be equal to 2 rounded Tablespoons of this mixture.

    Smashed Peas & Carrots says that:
    **You can also kick up the heat a notch by adding in 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes!!**.
    The Ingredients For Homemade Taco Seasoning
    I haven't tried this yet because I didn't want it to be too spicy because I wanted the kids to eat it, too.

    Some notes:
    • It is worth buying the big wholesale size chili powder if you plan to make this and store the extra.
    • The texture is much bumpier than I expected.
    • I used smoked paprika because that is what we had and it tasted fine and didn't taste smoked once in the food dish (chili).
    • I think it would be great to make a bunch of spices and seal them in 2 TBS sized pouches with a food sealer.  I hope to seal some and show you all what I am talking about.

    Sunday, December 1, 2013

    Weekly Dinner Menu - December 1, 2013

    Monday -    Easy Pasta: Shells with Red Sauce and Meatballs, Bread and Salad.

    Tuesday -   Tilapia with ??.  My husband will be making the side so I'm going to consult with him and then update.
    Wednesday -     We didn't end up having this last week: Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and a veggie.  I hope to post a My Husband Cooks post after this meal.
    Thursday -     Chicken, Green Bean, Potato Bake

    Friday -   Buffalo Mac & Cheese from this link when we made it before.
    Saturday -    leftovers
    Sunday -   Something warm & yummy in the Crock-pot!  I will update when I decide what it's going to be.  I started perusing some of my favorite cooking blogs and Pinterest so it's a tough decision!