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Entries in homemade (3)


Thanksgiving Dinner

While I might be a bit ahead of myself since the rest of next week's meal plan is anything but done, I thought I would let you steal all my awesome ideas in time to go shopping. Well... I think they are awesome at least. This menu is soy, maple, sesame, nut, and food coloring free.  As for any other allergy you would have to read the ingredients.  This seems like a ton of food for 8 adults and 3 kids, but my idea is that a) finding great sales, I shop within our normal budget and b) I am spending all day/week cooking anyway.  Might as well put on a nice spread and have plenty to fill up the freezer for later.


Our main dish:

Turkey, we have done this one in the past and I think we might do it again. I found that I can use 100% white grape juice and it still tastes great without all the fructose I find in the white cranberry juices.

 For sides we have:

  • Sweet potato mash- We use this Twice baked potato recipie and don't restuff the skins.  Also we leave out the walnuts.
  • Thankfull Rolls- any bread in this house has to be homemade and, when I saw these, I just had to try them.
  • Stuffing- We made these Cornish Hens last year and I loved the stuffing so much we are making it again. If we didn't have 11 people coming this year I would be tempted to make the hens again. I have yet to figure out what fruit bits are, but craisins are a good substitute.
  • Cranberry Sauce- We have always bought it in the can. Boring, I know, and I finally just read the ingredients, so I am giving this a try. I'll be honest: I have a can waiting just in case it doesn't work out.


  • Vegetable Platter with dip- green and red peppers, carrots, olives, and celery.  The yogurt for the dip will be greek or homemade.
  • Hot artichoke and spinach dip with homemade french bread- This is a family favorite that gets made any time we have an excuse. It's a great way to sneak more spinach into our diet. While the artichokes are tasty, you can leave them out and still have a terrific snack.  While I normally would lean toward whole wheat, some of our family tolerate white bread better.


  • Pumpkin Pie-  I always made it from a can.  I was tempted to cook a pumkin this year, but the price just didn't make it practical. The pie crust I have always had a problem making so we will be trying this recipie.
  • Pumpkin bread- this is always a hit and I try to keep a couple loaves in my freezer for unexpected visits. We replaced the raisins and nuts with craisins.
  • Homemade ice cream -mint just happens to be what my daughter has been asking for, and the kids will have a great time playing with our Ice cream ball.


  • Tea and coffee
  • Hot cider
  • juice for the little ones

If you're looking for a cake, don't forget to check out my homemade cake post for a cute turkey.

For more great Ideas check out the Foodie Friday link-up.



If It Looks Good and Tastes Good, Must be Homemade!

You can thank Penny over at A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned for motivating me to dig these pictures out of storage. :) My family has a history of homemade birthday cakes. You know something isn't going well if there's a store bought cake in the house and, well, you feel a bit jipped. My grandmother had made us all our favorite cakes from scratch for as long as I can remember.  Now, unfortunately, she is gone, but her cakes live on! We have taken the same recipes and added a twist.




For DD's 1st birthday, my sister made her this cookie monster cake along with some cupcakes to match. I believe she got the dye for the icing at a party/baking supply store. This will always be my favorite. It was made to match her sesame street peek-a-boo book that was never far from her side. DD had a cupcake to her self and, boy, was it a good thing I had stripped her down to a onesie before she got her hands into it.


I have to thank my sister once again for these princess cakes.  It's amazing what can be done with a cake topper and some imagination.  Oh, and a steady hand doesn't hurt.

My daughter is lucky to have a January birthday, which means we can come up with all sorts of themes most people can't use.  For DD's 3rd bday, nothing would do but Rudolph. Ever have that one DVD you are tempted to hide? Yup, thats right!  For us it was Rudolph.  I think I packed it away with the tree that year, but it gave me a great place to start.  We did reindeer cupcakes, reindeer paper supplies and pin the nose on the deer games along with a bunch of crafts and reindeer ornaments as favors.

I will thank my sister once again. I was scrambling trying to come up with a tinkerbell cake and she saved the day by making it a lot simpler than I was trying to. DD got a pretty cake and birthday gift all in one for this one.

For dd's kids parties I try to stick with cupcakes. The less work I have to do during the party, the more time I have to talk to socialize myself, and that's what parties are really for right? ;) So that the parents can get our time in as well.  Here you see some cute little doggies all with different color eyes.  You can tell the eyes are candy-covered chocolates, the ears are cookies, the mouth is one piece of a twizzler, and the nose is a rootbeer jelly bean.


For the family party I show off a little.  By no means am I a master icer or cake maker, but a lot of icing, toothpicks, twinkies (yes, a rare treat, but you do what you have to), candy, some crackers, patience and a bit of time, and everyone's so amazed at the creation no one notices you can't ice a cupcake evenly to save your life.


Tom the Turkey was a family effort. We made it for Thanksgiving, but it would be cute for a fall birthday also. You can see how the cake was cut and layered on the left. Pyrex bowls and loaf pans make great building blocks. My daughter happily decorated the feathers.

Winter birthdays definitely have an upside in creativity. DD's second favorite animal after dogs just happens to be penguins.  If you're like me and just don't get along well with icing, remember sprinkles are your friend. I find them in Target dollar bins and the Stop and Shop bakery area.  I would love to know if anyone has found food coloring free sprinkles! For now, I will consider it a once a year treat!

The downside of having a January Birthday tends to be a lot of snow, and last year was definitely a record year. We made the best of it by having a Valentine's Day party instead. These were just simple stencils I picked up from the craft store and some sprinkles. DD had great fun picking the designs and colors each cake would have. They had an extra suprise of some sprinkles thrown into my white cake mix to liven it up a little.

I hope I have given you some inspiration and courage to try your own cake. With a little planning, and creativity, it's so easy to make a homemade cake. Between the cost and the taste you can't go wrong. Once again, keep it simple and make use of what's on hand. Also avoid anything that costs a lot.  You can buy confectionary sugar and butter for a couple dollars instead of canned frosting that is always the wrong consitency and way more expensive.


Simple, Homemade Costumes

While talking to Penny from A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned about frugal costume ideas, we both realised I had a post of my own.  I have always had a problem with spending a ton of money for a plastic costume (normaly not the cutest either) they will wear one night and toss out. So, here are some costumes that have served us over the years.  Most joined the dress up box to be used for years after. From school plays to halloween, here are some of our creations:

Unfortunately, my DD took a dislike to the camera when she was about 2, so no cute photos of this one. She was Little Red Riding Hood with a simple red cape and basket over a dress and tights. We cut down this pattern to fit.  By making it out of felt, it was not only cheap, but it saved a lot of sewing. It is still in her dress up bin, looking great 5 years later.


I might be a bit biased, but I though she was the cutest tiger on stage. This one's totaly free hand.  Just cut a sheet of orange felt into stripes. I used spray adhesive to stick them on an oversized black shirt. The tail is my husband's sock stuffed with batting, but almost anything you have on hand can work. A couple of stitches to attach is the only sewing needed.  The ears are just a headband I glued felt diamonds around. Put it all over some black leggings and they are ready for the show.

Of course, every santa needs his elves before going on stage. A dive in the closet produced red pants and a holiday top along with some gloves. The hat is two triangles of felt sewn together and decorated with more felt and pom poms. The scarf is also made of felt, cut in a strip and and fringed at the ends.

My own Cheer Squad- A matching skort, top and leggings from Wal-mart that she wore many times in varied combinations.  Add in some pom poms that my Mom made out of tissue paper and you're ready for some action. Don't forget the sneakers and pony tail! Who needs a football game when your looking this good!

When someone says it's 50's day, you just have no choice but to spend a couple hours on this skirt. This one took a bit longer, mostly to glue the embellishment on, but the compliments where worth it. This skirt is once again made out of felt (can you tell I love felt?) using another easy to sew pattern.  Almost any white top will work.  She also wore this one with her uniform button down.  I did have to pin down the ribbon untill it dried and stitched it every foot or so to tack it down.

We are big into country music and fairs, so this costume got a ton of use.  The boots and jeans both came from walmart and the plaid shirt from kmart's boys department.  I made the bandana out of some scrap fabric, though I have seen them in both wal-mart and the dollar store. The hat was used as an easter basket which I received from my in-laws the previous year.  Add some swagger and your little partner's all cowgirled-up for some candy wrangling!  A cute variation is a ruffled jean skirt.




I apologize about the photos.  We have a habit of forgetting the camera and using our phone instead. My DD found my old communion dress and decided to be a bride.  Add her easter gloves, long sleeved white shirt and shawl for some warmth. Since in a 6 year old's world every bride must have a veil, this one was procured from michael's along with the bouquet.  My Mom had saved the tiara that DD wore in my sisters wedding and thought this was an appropriate time to pull it out.  Thanks Mom!  DD had found the white play jewelry in the prize bin at school and decided it was the finishing touch (ps: I think there are tights, white leggings, a thermal shirt all hidden from view here.  It was brutally cold!!)

Can you tell it was a bit windy? The witch would be me.  DD was determined that I dress up and join the fun.  The long flowing black skirt, and black sweater came from my work apparel.  Add in my black boots and a cheap wal-mart hat and I was set go. That is... when the wind wasn't stealing my hat!


I promised my Daughter I would keep this year's costume a surprise, so I'll have to keep you in suspence until Halloween.


When I design a costume, some of the things I keep in mind if trick-or-treating is in the plans are:

1) Keep the colors light when possible.  If not, try to add some sparkle and reflective material on the back as well as glow necklaces and flashlights. 

2) Think layers.  Here in the northeast it tends to get very cold at Halloween time. Thermals, body suits, tights, leggings and long sleve shirts along with matching gloves and sometimes even hats will help get through the night.  If you pick your colors right and leave the costume a bit big, no one will be the wiser. Capes also can be used as an alternative to coats then you just gather it around them between houses. There are years I didn't use all the layers I had laid out, but others I had wished I added more.  Also, you get far more/better treats if you walk rather than drive.  People do notice!

3) Think slippery walks covered with leaves, rocky driveways and bumpy lawns when you are deciding on shoes.  A felt cover velcroed over sneakers might be a safer and more comfortable alternative than fancy shoes.

4)What is in the closet that they can use as a base layer, or if you have to buy it, is it something they can wear for another occasion? Consignment shops and your craft store (think coupons )are also great places to find pieces.

5)Keep it simple. What trait makes the costume your trying to creat distinguishable from others? Start with that one you might not need much else. For Little Red Riding Hood it's the red cape and basket, so you can add any dress. For a bride, a white dress and veil.  The rest would be personal choice.  Big Bird would be fluffy yellow, a dalmation: its ears, tail and spots. The options are endless.

 Rember to visit A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned for more frugal ideas.