In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ~ Proverbs 3:6

Friday, September 30, 2011

Apple Crisp and Easy Caramel Apple Bars

Yesterday I shared this post about a trip to the apple orchard.  While the girls were doing their own apple picking, I was picking a few Jonathan apples to purchase for some yummy fall baking.  These recipes are from a Betty Crocker website, and they are great recipes to have on hand for such an occasion as apple picking.

Apple Crisp

4 medium tart cooking apples, sliced (4 cups)
¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cu all-purpose flour
½ cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Grease  9 inch pan and spread apples in pan.  In a separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients then sprinkle over apples.   Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla icecream on top.

Easy Caramel Apple Bars

1/2 cup cold butter
1 pouch oatmeal cookie mix
1 egg
1 cup finely chopped peeled apple (I used 2 cups)
¾ cup caramel topping ( I used one bag of caramel sqares instead)
¼ cup all-purpose flour (I didn’t use flour)

Cut butter into cookie mix and mix in egg.  Reserve 1 ½ cups of mixture.  Press remaining mixture into greased 9x13 inch pan.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle apples on top of mixture.  Add caramel.  Add remaining mixture.  Bake for 20-25minutes.  Cool completely before serving.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pepperoni Pinwheels

         It’s fall, and that means football.  In our house, certain food just goes with a football game.  For example, chili is a classic Sunday football meal.  Nachos of any kind are great for a weekend game.  And of course you have chicken wings and jalapeƱo poppers that are in the “classic game food” category as well.   One thing that Matt often request for a football game snack is pepperoni pinwheels.  He loves these little bite size pizza snacks, and he can easily devour a whole plate of them before half time.  I don’t mind making them for him at all, because they are a five ingredient snack that is quick and easy. 

2 cans of refrigerated crescent roll dough
1 package of pepperoni
1 bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
dried oregano
pizza sauce

Open  can of dough and cut dough in half.  Unroll both of the halves. Top the dough liberally with pepperoni.  Add cheese and sprinkle dried oregano on top of the cheese.  Roll up each half and cut each half into eight “pinwheels”.  Follow the directions on the can of dough for baking.  Each can of crescent rolls will make 16 “pinwheels” yielding  32 total.  Serve with pizza sauce for dipping.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Zucchini Bread

              Yesterday, I shared my vegetable stew recipe with you and mentioned that I made it when my mom was visiting me a few weeks ago.  Every few months, my mom comes up and visits me for a weekend.  When she was here two weeks ago, we spent Saturday afternoon doing some fall cooking.  She wanted my recipe for vegetable stew and I wanted her recipe for zucchini bread.  That morning, I took her to the farmer’s market and got all of my fresh produce for the week and any ingredients that we needed for our afternoon in the kitchen.  The zucchini, squash and corn were to die for!  After stopping by a few garage sales, we went back to my house and began our recipe swap.  First, I showed her how I make my vegetable stew, and then she shared with me her zucchini bread recipe.  Here is her recipe, and boy is it moist and delicious!  This bread also freezes really well.  I make a couple loafs at a time and keep single size servings in the freezer, so I can eat small, guilt-free portions throughout the fall season.

½ c. oil
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. nuts (optional)
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs
2 c. shredded zucchini
2 c. flour
3 tsp vanilla
2 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. cinnamon

Mix ingredients together, pour into greased bread pans and bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until done.  Yields to loaves.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We Will Never Forget

        There are certain days of my youth that I remember very well.  You know what I’m talking about, for you remember those days too.  I’m talking about the kind of days that changed the pages of our history books.  For example, I remember coming home from school as a fifth grader and having the television images of the Oklahoma City bombing be forever etched in my mind.  I was only in Jr. High when Princess Diana died, but like the rest of the world, I watched her funeral from my living room thousands of miles away.   As a freshman in high school, I vividly remember the Columbine shootings that took away my generation’s high school innocence with the enforcement of metal detectors, school cameras and security officers sharing school hallways with students.   But above all of these markers in history, I remember September 11, 2001.  I remember this day like it was yesterday.
            I was a senior in high school at the time.   When the first plane hit, I was in a first hour study hall with just a few other kids.  I remember my teacher turning on the radio to listen to the news after he was informed about the first tower being hit by an airplane.  Before second hour was over, the news had reported that the second tower had been hit as well as the Pentagon.  By lunch time, I was very aware that my country was under attack.  Being only seventeen at the time, I soon realized that this act of terror meant that America had entered a new kind of war, and that it would be my generation who would go over seas to fight this new kind of war.  When I went to my after-school job, I passed gas stations with lines that were as far as the eyes could see.  Long gone were the days of gas prices under one dollar.   When I arrived at work, there was a small T.V. at the counter that had been pulled out of the back room, and my co-worker and I watched the footage on the news for hours.  Not a soul entered the Hallmark shop that I worked in that night, so we closed the shop two hours early.   When I drove to school that morning, my mind was filled with thoughts about SAT scores, the senior play and the Friday night ball game, but when I drove home from work that night, those thoughts couldn’t be farther from my mind.   Life as I knew it ~ as every American knew it, would never be the same.  It didn’t take me long to realize that my children would never be able to experience the kind of world that I lived in before 9-11, for 9-11 would change everything. 
            It’s hard to believe that it has been ten years since that dreadful day. While it is important to remember the horrors of that day, it is also important to remember that heroes rose above the ashes that day.  Let us never forget the first responders that walked up the steps of those towers, many of them knowing that they would not make it back down.  Let us never forget the office workers who stopped to save the lives of others and lost their lives in return. Let us never forget that aboard the same aircraft as the terrorist were civilian men and women fighting in a war that they did not enlist in, for this war did not exist when they woke up that morning. 
            We can not escape the death of that tragic day, but we can also not escape the heroism that was born that day among our American citizens.  The enemy took many  things away from us  that day, but they can not take away the sacrificial acts of kindness that were shown in offices, stairwells and aircrafts that very same day.  Nor can they take away the sacrifices that were made by the soldiers that would proudly put on an American uniform in days to follow and fight for our freedom in a dessert land far away from home, or by the volunteers that would dig through the piles of rubble for the following days and months after the towers collapsed, or by the construction workers that would spend the next ten years turning the piles of ashes and debris into a beautiful memorial for all Americans to honor those who lost their lives on that day.  While the enemy took away our innocence and with it thousands of lives on that horrific day, they can not take away the American spirit that existed ten years ago and still exist today.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ruffle Ribbon Lamp

           A while back, I transformed these Goodwill lamps seen here and here into functional lamps for my home.  Around the same time, I came across this post at Big Lives and was inspired to create a similar lamp for our master bedroom. 
            I wish I had a before and after pic of my lamp, but I forgot to take pictures before and during this process.  Using an ugly $2 lamp base from a garage sale, a $1cream lamp shade from Goodwill, leftover ribbon and spray paint from previous projects and my hot glue gun, I was able to make this lamp for $3.  I spent $4 on the ribbon for a previous project and $2 on the paint, so this project would cost someone $9 at the most.
            This project was easy.  All I did was form ruffles with my ribbon while hot gluing it to the lamp shade.  I used two kinds of ribbon, forming five layers of ruffles.  Lastly, I spray painted the lamp silver.  I think it looks pretty good on my dresser.  It adds to the vintage feel of our bedroom.  What do you think?  Not too bad for $3 huh?  Gotta love repurposing someone else’s junkJ

Monday, September 5, 2011

Reflecting on My Summer

            As you all know, I am a nanny for two little girls, so I thought that I'd take a few minutes and share some of our summer fun in this post.   During the summer, I take the girls out of the house just about everyday, because their parents run a business out of the home.  For this reason, it tends to be a lot easier for everyone if I take the girls out and about to burn energy and have fun.
            One of the best things about living in the Indy area is that there is so much to do.  I try to occasionally share things on my blog that Matt and I do as a couple, but there are a ton of kid-friendly things to do in our area as well.  For starters, there are ton of great parks on the north side of Indy.  I can think of five or six nice ones within a ten minute drive from the house.  Two of my favorite parks to take the girls to are Brook School Park and Holland ParkBrook School Park has all knew equipment and the kids love it.  My absolute favorite park is Holland Park, because it is the most family-friendly park with two playgrounds, basketball courts, baseball fields, soccer fields, sand volley ball courts, walking paths, restrooms, and plenty of shade.  It's a great place to take kids for a picnic or bike ride, because there is always a breeze.  And of course, if it is too hot for a regular park, the local splash park is a great alternative to spending a hot summer day at the neighborhood pool.
            Now what would our summer be like without our local library, farmers markets, summer camps (Hamilton Sports Complex), summer fairs cream, yes lots and lots of ice cream.  We have so many great ice cream places close to our home, but one of the girl’s favorite places to get a cool treat this summer has been Orange Leaf.  I gotta tell ya that I don't mind that one bit, because it's actually the sugar free fat free chocolate frozen yogurt that the girls love.  And since Orange Leaf cost per ounce, I only give the girls a small portion of what I know they will eat. 
            When your looking to take your kids out for much more than a cool treat, Indy has really fun educational places to the kids that require a little more work on the parents part and little more from your wallet too.  Some of these places include  Conner Prairie, The Indianapolis Children's Museum, The Indianapolis Zoo and Carter Toy Museum.  These are all fantastic places to take kids, so check out the websites for more details.   I’ve lost track of how many times the girls have gone to these places this summer, and they never seem to get bored of it.  If you go to these places often, I recommend getting the yearly membership to save yourself a little bit of money.
            Of course there are those days when the kids need to burn energy, it's too hot be outside and you don’t want to break your wallet.  One of the many bounce zones in our area are perfect for days like that.  My favorite bounce zone is Monkey Joes near Castleton Square.  I think it's the most parent-friendly of all the bounce zones, but lately the girls have taken a liking to Snapperz located near Clay Terrace.  Snapperz has more than bounce houses, but they don't open till so plan your day wisely. 
            Other than bounce zones, kid-friendly arcades are a great place to take the kids when you don’t want the kids to get too hyper.  You can't go wrong with  Chuckee Cheese and you can always find coupons on the internet.  The girls also like Ben and Aris  for arcade fun and miniture golf.  Right next to Ben and Aris is Pinheads.  I personally love taking the girls to Pinheads, because they have their Play-A-Lot zone that has play centers, a huge play place and rock climbing wall that keeps the girls entertained for hours.  The best part is that Play-A-Lot only cost $2 for admission.  Pinheads also has an arcade and duckpin bowling to keep the kids  entertained. 
            On rainy days the movie theatre is a great place to take the kids. During the summer, our theatre has $1 movies playing every day at   You can't go wrong with that price.  The girls also like to get their toes painted at the local nail salon or spend their allowance at the local mall.  Castleton Square Mall is a great place to take them, because they have an indoor play area.
            So there ya have it.  This is how the girls and I have spent our summer.  We’ve had lots of fun at parks, pools, libraries, movies, bounce zones, play places, zoos and kid-friendly museums.  If you live in the Indy area and you’re looking to get out of the house with your kids, I’ve given you plenty of ideas.