Wednesday, September 30, 2009

CVS - September 28

I've discovered that the deals at CVS aren't always worth my while, so I don't go every week...but I had to go this week. I had a $5/25 coupon for filling out a flu survey on their website and wanted to put it to good use. Here's what I got.

CoverGirl make-up - 1 Foundation/Powder compact - $8.49
1 Blush - $7.49
Used a BOGO (buy one get one free) coupon
Used a $1 coupon
Received 5 ECBs
Vaseline Sheer Infusion Lotion - $7.99
Used a $1.50 coupon printed online
Received 7 ECBs
Gillette Fusion Razor - $9.99
Used $4 coupon
Received 5 ECBs

Out the door.....I paid $16.32 ($11 of which was ECBs)
Received 17 ECBs back.

I was pretty happy about that.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lemon Pepper Salmon

I found this on Allrecipes awhile back and we absolutely love it. It's super easy, delicious grilled or baked, and takes just minutes to prepare. Our girls aren't big salmon fans yet, but Corban declares this his favorite food....except for McDonalds double cheeseburgers. I have a feeling he'll be picking this for his birthday dinner. I usually serve it with whole wheat couscous, but baked potatoes or potato bundles are great as well. We recently got a bottle of Garlic and Wine Seasoning from the Melting Pot restaurant....and I used it instead of the lemon was amazing. If you happen to have any of that around, give it a try for sure.


1 lb salmon (I buy frozen 1 lb bags, which have 4 pieces - Thaw first!)
2 T. butter, melted
2 T. soy sauce (low sodium is fine)
lemon pepper seasoning

In a 9 x 9" baking dish, mix melted butter and soy sauce. Add the salmon pieces and turn to coat both sides. Sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning on one side.

Grill over medium heat until done OR bake at 375° for 10-15 minutes, or until fish flakes easily.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

This has been one of Grant's favorite cheesecakes for several years now. I got the recipe from Allrecipes back in 2004 and it has been very popular with family and guests. It does have a few steps but is very worth the effort.

I listed the directions for adding the raspberry sauce as the original recipe indicated; however, it is hard to keep the sauce in the middle of the cheesecake when you pour the rest of the batter over the top of all kind of drifts to the top. Next time I may either stir a few tablespoons of sauce into half of the batter and make a double layer cheesecake, or I'll just add sauce to the top, since that's where it all ends up anyways.

To make chocolate curls, see the Pioneer Woman's instructions here.....I didn't take pictures of my process.


Raspberry Sauce
1 (12 0z) package frozen raspberries
2-1/2 T. white sugar
2 t. cornstarch
1/2 cup water

In a saucepan, combine all sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil and continue boiling 5 minutes, or until sauce is thick. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer to remove seeds. This can take awhile...strain small portions at a time and stir around in the strainer with a spoon to get all the goodness out!

1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs (I use chocolate Teddy Grahams)
3 T. white sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

In a medium bowl, mix together all crust ingredients. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

2 cups white chocolate chips
1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
Whipped cream (for serving, optional)
Chocolate curls (for serving, optional)

Preheat oven to 325°.
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt white chocolate chips with milk, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool partially.
In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Blend in vanilla and white chocolate. Pour half of batter over crust. Spoon 3 T. raspberry sauce over batter. Pour remaining cheesecake batter into pan and again spoon 3 T. raspberry sauce over the top. Swirl batter with the tip of a knife to create a marbled effect. Place pan on top of a baking sheet, in case of leaks.

Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until filling is set.

It will probably crack...this particular cheesecake always cracks on me, no matter what I do to prevent it. Maybe it has something to do with the swirling...but that's okay. It still is beautiful and when you cut it, no-one will know the difference.

Cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 hours before removing from pan. Serve with remaining raspberry sauce, whipped cream, and chocolate curls, if desired.

We had a couple of families over for dessert....Grant snapped this photo of the plates lined up waiting for hungry takers.

He insisted on taking one of me getting everything ready.

The final product. Want some???

Check out Life As Mom and her Ultimate Recipe Swap for more yummy baked goods!
Linked to Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Friday, September 25, 2009

Colonial Willliamsburg

Last Friday and Saturday we got the chance to go to Colonial Williamsburg for the first time. Twice a year they hold a couple of weeks special for Home Educators, with heavily discounted prices and special programs and events. Instead of paying $36 a day per adult, we only paid $8 each for two days....and kids under 6 were free...which meant all of ours! What a bargain!

There is much to see, learn, and do there.....such a wealth of history. The problem with going there with young children is that they just don't appreciate all of that as much as we parents do and attention spans are pretty short, so we didn't get to experience all that families with older children would....but even still, we had a great time. We were blessed with perfect weather, cloudy and highs in the mid-70s, just wonderful.

Here are the highlights from our trip. I didn't take photos in all of the shops and historical buildings we went into, for the record. These are just photos of the most fun things for the kids.

At the Great Hopes Plantation, there were several hands-on activities, including sawing wood, grinding corn, dipping candles, and gardening. Lots of hard work!

The Governor's Palace entryway....truly impressive. Marble floors, guns and swords on all the walls, it was gorgeous.

In the grounds and garden behind the Governor's Palace was a maze of bushes that the kids loved running through.

Marissa in the garden.

View of the back of the Palace. The grounds were so beautiful.

This is a pretty big tree!

There are lovely carriages that you ride around town in for a fee....
we just stopped to pet the horses.

This tree was one of the favorite parts of the day for the kids.....we ended up eating our picnic lunch on it.

Corban would be in heaven if we had a tree like this in our yard.

Marissa too.

Sharing an apple in the tree.

Apple sharing and lounging.

Ironically, Corban and Marissa both said that riding the bus (free around all of Colonial Williamsburg) was the best part of the day. Seeing as it was their first time on a bus, I guess I can understand the excitement.


We started out the day at the Capitol, which was just so pretty. We debated whether or not to take the 30 min. tour and ended up so glad that we did!

Our kind tour guide made Corban "Governor" and Marissa his "Council Person" during the presentation in the courtroom....they were both delighted with their positions!

On our way to the Jail, we spotted a tree across a brook. Corban was thankfully very successful at crossing it!

This Jail is one of the oldest buildings in America - parts of it are 304 years old. Blackbeard the Pirate was actually confined here. The jailer and his family lived in the house attached to the jail! There was very little crime in those days......everyone owned guns, there were no police, and if you did something wrong, the whole town would get you!

Sign outside the Jail.

The blacksmith's shop was very interesting.

Peering out the window from the Magazine, where all the arms and ammunition used to be held. Very cool building.

The kids and I in the Magazine.

The kids and I outside the Magazine.

The Rest of Day Two.....

We had a birthday party to go to across the James River that we made our first trek to the Jamestown Ferry. It's free, which is super cool.....and just takes about 15 minutes to get from one side to the other. Annika fell asleep on the way there and missed out on most of it, but Corban and Marissa were beside themselves with excitement about their first ride on a boat. It was actually my first time on a ferry, also. We were lucky and got the best ferry, the Pocahontas, which has an upper deck for passengers to enjoy.

Watching the shoreline move away.....

Look at those happy faces!

It was pretty windy up there!
We had a great time and will certainly take advantage of the Home Educators Weeks at Williamsburg again.....and we'll definitely have to go on the ferry again. Hope I didn't bore you with all the photos. :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Flower Birthday Cakes

Marissa will be turning 4 in October and I'm starting to try to plan her birthday party (along with Corban's, who turns 6 a week before her birthday). Fall is a busy birthday season for us!

I've been asking Marissa what kind of cake she would like, and she insists that she wants another flower. She's had a flower cake for all of her birthdays so far....each a bit different, but all flowers. This one she says should be blue with a green stem. We'll see if she changes her mind in the next few weeks....but I thought in the meantime, I'd take a look at her past cakes to remind myself of how similar/different they were.

First Birthday - October 2006
Second Birthday - October 2007

Third Birthday - October 2008

Each of them was just a cake mix baked in a 10-inch springform pan which I frosted with buttercream and drew the outline of the flower I wanted on top with a toothpick before piping
on the flowers with the star tip. Easy breezy.
Hopefully this year's won't be much harder!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chocolate Syrup

When I was growing up, homemade chocolate syrup was a constant presence at family gatherings, whether they be birthday parties, Easter, Mother's Day, Christmas, or whatever. Who needs an excuse for chocolate syrup, anyways? And it nearly always topped homemade vanilla ice cream. Talk about decadent!

There are some people in my extended family who would even admit to eating spoonfuls of it straight. Not that I would ever be guilty of such a thing. Never.


1 stick of butter
1 cup sugar
3 heaping T. baking cocoa
5 oz can evaporated milk (or heavy cream)
pinch of salt
1 t. vanilla

Melt butter in a saucepan. Sift sugar and cocoa together and then add to the butter. Pour in milk and pinch of salt. Stir constantly until it boils for about 3 minutes. (It can take awhile to come to a patient!) Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Serve warm over ice cream or even biscuits, if you dare (you can call it chocolate gravy!)

Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

CVS - Take 3

I'm really just posting this stuff for my own benefit, so I can keep track of how much I'm spending/saving in one if this doesn't interest you, come back later!! :)

This week I bought:

1 Schick ST3 Sensor Razors - $6.99 - had $3 off coupon, received $4 ECBs (FREE!)
1 Crest with Scope toothpaste - $3.49 - had $.75 coupon, received $2.50 ECBs ($.24!)
2 Old Spice Deodorants - $4.50 - had $1 coupon, received 1 ECB ($1.25 each)
1 VO5 conditioner - $.77

Paid with $11 ECBs from last week, + $.72 cash.
With the new ECBs and what I have left over from last week, I still have 11 ECBs.

Looking forward to seeing what deals I can figure out for this next week! I was especially glad that this time, they had everything that was advertised, so I didn't have to get a rain check. I managed to get the last package of razors, Whew! I felt pretty successful coming out of the store.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cheeseburger Paradise Soup

This recipe came from Taste of Home (Feb/Mar 2007). It just caught my eye as I was thumbing through my recipe file and I decided to give it a shot. I don't know why I've waited so long! It is super delicious! I will definitely be making this again.

Note: When they recommend that you use gloves for cutting jalapenos, it's really not a joke. I was foolish and thought that since I was just cutting up 2 peppers and I would wash my hands immediately afterwards, it wouldn't matter. Wrong. Oh, it didn't matter for about 10 minutes. Then the pain started in a couple of fingers and just spread from there. I repeatedly washed my hands and finally resorted to looking up "cures" online....ended up spreading olive oil over my hands then rinsing with cool water. It helped somewhat, but my fingers still felt lingering burning for a couple of hours. Thank goodness I had the sense to avoid touching my eyes!


6 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cubed (peel if desired - I used about 8 smallish potatoes)
1 carrot, grated
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
2 small jalapenos, chopped and seeded
3-4 cups water (I used 4 cups to just cover my veggies)
3 T. beef bouillon granules (no msg, please!)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 t. pepper
1-1/2 - 2 lbs ground turkey (or beef)
1/2 lb. sliced fresh mushrooms (optional - I did not use)
4 cups milk, divided (use additional milk if needed)
6 T. all purpose flour
1 lb Velveeta, cubed
crumbled cooked bacon (optional - delicious addition, but not necessary)

In a soup kettle, combine the first 9 ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook meat and mushrooms in a little butter (if just doing meat, you don't need butter) over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add to soup. Stir in 3 cups milk; heat through.
In a small bowl, combine flour and remaining milk until smooth; gradually stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat; stir in cheese until melted. Garnish with bacon.

This post is linked to Raising Olive's 4 Moms Soup Link-Up

Monday, September 7, 2009

Annika's 2nd Birthday

Our youngest turned 2 on Sunday. We had a small party on Saturday....two families had been invited; one couldn't come because their daughter had an ear infection. The family that did come has twins, Reuben and Eliana, who will be 3 tomorrow, and a 21 month old son, Joha. We had a lovely time celebrating Annika and her precious life thusfar.

I discovered halfway through the party that the camera lense had a smudge on it that was messing up the pictures....Boo. So the first few of these photos have a distorted area on them....just try to ignore it.

Friend Joha, 21 months old. He really enjoyed the frosting.

This is pretty funny, Mom!

Ummmm....frosting is my favorite part.

Yeah, I got pretty messy too.....but not as bad as Joha!

Getting her first Webkinz....which delighted Corban and Marissa more than her. That's Reuben beside her.

Ack!! Getting 6 children under age 6 to even sit still is hard enough, let alone look at the camera and have a decent expression.
But we gave a valiant effort.

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