Monthly Archives: October 2012

Happy Halloween!

“I was robbed!  I spent the whole night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, when I could have been out for tricks or treats.  Halloween is over, and I missed it!”

~It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

HaPpY HaLlOwEeN!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Filed under Junk Drawer, RANDO•RAMA

Rustic Corn Bread

Corn Bread.  What a delicious treat for a cold Saturday afternoon.  My husband, who loves to cook, whipped this up and let me tell ya, it was good.  What I love about this recipe is its rustic and hearty quality.  The recipe came from a cookbook called The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart.  If you like corn bread give this recipe a try.  You may also want to check out another favorite that I shared on a previous post by clicking here.

Corn Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coarse cornmeal (also packaged as “polenta”)
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 8 ounces bacon (approximately 10 slices)
  • 1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2-1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat or vegetable oil

1. The night before baking the corn bread, soak the cornmeal in the buttermilk.  Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

2. The next day, to prepare the bacon, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Lay out the bacon on 2 sheet pans.  Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp.  Using tongs or a fork, remove the pieces to a pan lined with paper towels to cool.  Drain off the fat into a can or stainless-steel bowl and save for greasing the corn bread pan.  When the bacon has cooled, crumble it into coarse pieces.

3. Lower the oven setting to 350 degrees F.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a mixing bowl.  Stir in the granulated sugar and brown sugar.  In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs.  Dissolve the honey in the melted butter and then stir the warm honey-butter mixture into the eggs.  Add this to the soaked cornmeal mixture.  Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a large spoon or whisk until all the ingredients are evenly distributed and the batter is blended and smooth.  It should be the consistency of thick pancake batter.  Stir in the corn kernels until they are evenly distributed.

4. Place 2 tablespoons of the rendered bacon fat into a 10-inch round cake pan (you can also use a 9 by 13-inch baking pan or a 12-inch square pan).  Place the pan in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the fat gets very hot.  With good pot holders or oven mitts, remove the pan, tilt it to grease all the corners and sides, and pour in the batter, spreading it from the center of the pan to the edges.  Sprinkle the crumbled bacon pieces evenly over the top, gently pressing them into the batter.

5. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the corn bread is firm and springy (the baking time will depend on the size of the pan) and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  The top will be a medium golden brown.  The internal temperature at the center of the corn bread should register at least 185 degrees F.

6. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before slicing it into squares of wedges.  Serve warm.

Bon appetit!

:) Robynn

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Filed under RANDO•RAMA, Recipes

Gift Giving

Believe it or not, this is one that I sTruggLe with.  Birthdays, surgeries, baby arrivals and house warming gifts are just some of the few events that leave me defeated due to lack of creative ideas and planning ahead for special moments.

Before I continue with my point, it might be helpful to share some of my history.    Growing up, my family didn’t CeleBraTe birthdays with gifts.  Don’t get me wrong, I have extremely fond memories of birthdays…Mom made our favorite meal, we got a custom decorated Dairy Queen ice cream cake and we ended the night watching a movie as a family.  BUT, we never had the big piles of presents…in fact, it was very rare that we associated gifts with birthdays.  I knew other kids who did that, but I never thought anything of it because I felt my birthday was special and uNiqUe the way we celebrated it.

Because I didn’t grow up getting many gifts I think that is why I have a hard time buying gifts for others.  Now that I am older, it seems more challenging because everyone around me seems so thoughtful and I find that people give gifts for almost any and every occasion!  In some ways I have learned to be better about gift giving.  I try to have a basket of goodies on hand that I can wrap up in a pinch and give to someone as the occasion arises.  Robynn gave me some great aDviCe—buy people things that they can consume (candles or a specialty food item) that way if they don’t like it they aren’t obligated to keep it around.  This was helpful because just trying to think of what to give always served as an extra road block.

More importantly, give from the HEART.  Anymore, if I don’t have time to make a trip to town I just tuck some money in a card and put a cute piece of paper around it saying “This $ is only to be spent at Dairy Queen for your Birthday”.  Even though it isn’t an official gift card, it’s the thought that counts.  In the end, isn’t that what gift giving is all about?

~Lara

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Filed under Family, Friends, RANDO•RAMA, Relationships, Traditions

Pay it Forward: It’s Your Turn!

In my recent Pay it Forward post I shared a story of a random act of kindness my sister had done on our recent Disney trip.  As we prepare to celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving, what better time to think about ways we can Pay it Forward to those around us?  Whether you help a family member with a rent payment one month or put money in a parking meter for an unknowing stranger…you are PaYiNg it FoRwArD.  We will be collecting Pay it Forward stories from our readers between now and Monday, November 19th.  These stories will be compiled into a special post for Thanksgiving to share with our readers.

Please email your stories to suedesofa@yahoo.com

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Filed under Holiday, People, RANDO•RAMA, Relationships

{Just Decide}

Why do I let inconsequential choices zap so much of my mental energy?  For the last year I have been trying to come up with a filing system for my 1st grader and preschooler’s work they bring home from school.  I’ve been walking past piles and piles of their work for the last year not knowing what to do with it.  Do I keep all of it or only the best ones?  If I only keep some of it, which ones?

I found these cute file folders at Walmart for 50 cents! They will be perfect for helping me organize my girls’ homework.

Have you ever been stuck in the realm of indecisiveness?  You have so many choices that you can’t decide on that you don’t decide at all?  I know I find myself in this predicament in other areas besides my girls’ homework.  All I need to do to free myself from this decision hanging over my head is make a choice.  Yes, sometimes there are many possible choices that would work, but after you have considered all the options sometimes you just have to decide so you can finally move beyond it and get to more important things!

Do you have something that needs to be completed?  Are you experiencing paralysis by analysis?  What are you waiting for?  Just decide!

:) Robynn

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Filed under At Home, Kid Stuff, Life, RANDO•RAMA

The Financial Lifesavor

A few years ago I did something that iMpRoVed our financial stress.  In addition to tracking our monthly expenses, I made a simple spreadsheet that estimates what our bank account will look like in six months.

Whenever I log our monthly expenses, I also update this 6-month sheet (to see an example, click 6-Month Spreadsheet).  At the top, I enter our most current bank account total.  Below, I have the pRojEcTed expenses and income for each month.  You should have a pretty good idea on how much you spend if you already keep track of your monthly expenses.  If not, now would be a good time to start!  If your income varies due to sales or farming, etc. you need to enter in a realistic number to ensure your 6-month projection is as accurate as possible and doesn’t give you false hope. 

One reason this concept comes in handy is because it anticipates yearly bills.  Propane refills are already estimated in the months of October and January, so when the time comes there is no big SuRpriSeS.  By taking into account all of your known expenses you won’t have to worry (and stress!) about moving money around to accommodate.

I especially like the 6-month forecast when I want to make larger purchases.  If you’re itching to buy new carpet, you enter in the total and instantly have a good I D E A how much it will affect your finances in the long term.  For example, you may get a bonus at work and see an immediate increase in your bank account.  You go out and spend it all (and maybe a little more), and then two months later you are panicked because you forgot your vehicle tags and taxes were due.  See how this could have been avoided?

As far as financial surprises, like if our car breaks down, I don’t estimate for that.  You will find that if you do the 6-month spreadsheet you won’t be likely to spread your bank account too thin.  Pick a number that will give you a nice CusHioN for emergencies.  As long as you stay above your goal you can avoid roller coaster financial stress and feel more confident in the purchases that you make!

~Lara

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Filed under Finances, Life

Girlfriend Therapy

Do you ever feel like everyone in your family is talking to you and asking for things, but you never get your turn to speak?  “Mom, I want Cheerios with a cup of milk please.”  “Mom, that’s not the brush I like on my hair…you’re hurting me!”  “Robyn, the kids are out of vitamins, can you call the pharmacy today to  renew the prescriptions?”  ON and ON and ON…ALL day LONG!!!  If any of this sounds familiar, I’m right there with you!

When is it OuR turn???

Now that both of my kids are in nursery school, I have 3 mornings each week when they are both in school at the same time.  I have decided to use some of this time to catch up with my GiRlFrIeNds and have some me time!  Sure there is laundry waiting and toys that need to be cleaned up, but coffee and laughter with my best friends is just the escape that this MoMmY needs once in a while!

Try it…it is the cheapest therapy around!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Filed under Friends, Getting Real, Good Life, Life, Relationships