Sunday, December 28, 2008

'Tis the Season for Giving - and Giveaways!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year to all!

Here at our house, we've celebrated a wonderful Christmas with family, cooked a ton and eaten everything in sight (and it was awesome, too!), exchanged gifts and opened them all, watched a lot of our favorite show reruns (Dad has taken to buying them all on DVD), slept in every day (oh, heaven!) and seen all our guests off. Now, for the cleanup!

Look for some upcoming posts with a few photos of the festivities. Meanwhile, as I was trying to restore order to the house, I came across some scrapbooking items that I have been meaning to give away. And since it's the season of giving, I decided to host my very first giveaway on this blog! Yay!

There's no particular order to what I'm giving away, but I'm hoping someone can give these items a good home. Seven Several years ago, hubby and I got married. Five A fewyears ago, after being introduced to scrapping by my best friend, I started scrapbooking my wedding. Five years later Recently, I finished the wedding scrapbook. Those who enjoy scrapbooking will understand that a finished scrapping project inevitably results in some "leftover" scrapping items, such as stickers, paper, etc. on the particular theme of the project. And in this case, since I certainly hope I never have a second wedding to scrap(!), I have a few items I can no longer use.

Sooooo, I am hoping someone else who enjoys scrapping can use this stuff. I have a stack of wedding-themed papers, some (almost entirely unused) wedding scrapbook "kits" or "sets," lots of stickers, rub-on transfers, die cuts, and all kinds of stuff. Obviously, some of the sticker sets have been partially used, and all items are being given away "as-is". But everything I'm giving away is in great condition and ready for use in some happy scrapper's wedding album!

So with that, I will go ahead and post this. I realize not everyone will have an immediate use for wedding scrapbooking items, so please feel free to cross-post the link for this - all entries are welcome (just note shipping restrictions)! Shipping is limited to continental US (unless the recipient wants to pay shipping to their location). Giveaway is open until January 15th! Winner will be chosen at random, and please enter only once.

I hope someone can give this stuff a good home!! Happy New Year!

Love, Dahrlin'

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

Good morning! I'll have to keep this post short as we have family visiting, and I'm sneaking in here before everyone gets up to post this (Shhhh!!) But I wanted to take a few minutes this morning and share something with you.

Our pastor told this story at our Christmas Eve service last night. I love the story and the meaning behind it, and I hope you will take just a moment sometime today to read it. I hope it will touch your heart, as it did mine. And may each of you reading this have a blessed and happy Christmas and New Year!



Saturday, December 13, 2008

Puppy Pranks, Chapter 1 (by Pixie)

Dear Friends of Mom:

Several people have asked my Mom whether I am doing well, and how things are going here at my new home. I am writing today to let you know that I'm doing great! I am staying very busy and really love it here. My new parents love me SO much and I love them too! Mom says I am such a happy, waggy girl and have so much love to share.

We have tons of fun, and I have reminded my parents what it's like to have a puppy around. I am a very busy girl and I'm always into something!

I love to wrestle with my Daddy, and I like to chew (gently) on Daddy when I play. I have beautiful, clean white teethies and I eat Nylabones for breakfast (just kidding). Mom and Dad took this pic of my teeth because they said I have a big mouth for such a little pupper! And I normally look so sweet that Mom laughs when I "smile" for her!

Meanwhile, I am taking my job as the new guardian of the house very seriously. I have successfully taken care of not one but TWO of these SuperGinormous Stuffed Animals that my Mom and Dad left in my room on days when they went to work. They were gone for several hours both times, so I took my time and really did a good job, making very sure it was "dead" and will no longer be a bother to anyone. Mom thinks I *might* have confused my bed with a giant stuffy, but I think she's crazy. I am not dumb enough to eat my own bed!! Besides, everyone knows I sleep in my crate at night, all snuggled up. What other bed could she be referring to?

I am a wonderful guardian for my family and I am constantly on patrol for anything and everything that might hurt them, including the sneaking ice machine, the roaring vacuum and the randomly-running dryer. I often sit here on the steps in the kitchen, watching over Mommy as she cooks (and also carefully watching for anything that I need to clean up from the kitchen floor).

I also help Daddy as he spends half an hour twice a day scooping leaves out of that big puddle in our backyard. Mom keeps saying she is afraid I will fall in, and that the water is really cold, but I told her not to worry. I am not a huge fan of water and I certainly don't want to jump in there!

Meanwhile, I hope all of you are having a fun weekend with your puppers. I am going to go snuggle up with my Daddy and take a nap.

Take care and enjoy the Howlidays. And for all you other doggies and kitties reading this, remember: Housebreaking is very important to humans, so break as much of the house as possible!!

Love and puppy kisses,


Friday, December 12, 2008

The Holiday Recipe Chronicles: Derby Pie

Hey Y'all!

I am guest posting over at my BFF's spot today. I've posted a new recipe to share with you for the holidays. So please check out Angie's blog and welcome her home from Disney this weekend!

Love and hugs and happy weekend!

Love, Dahrlin'

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fall Favorites - Provencal Pork Stew

One of my favorite entrees for cooler fall and winter evenings is the stew I want to share. I found it several years ago in Cooking Light, and it's an exception to my usual feeling that their recipes are a little too light for my taste. This one, with its Mediterranean flavors and healthful ingredients, is a true favorite of mine. It is on the lighter side, which is sometimes a nice break from the more hearty foods I love in fall and winter. But it still has a richness to it that is satisfying in cooler weather. And it makes a great lunch for fall and winter days too, brightening up my workday with a little mini-vacation to France for my tastebuds!

If you've never tried cooking with fennel, don't be afraid to try it. It has a texture very similar to celery (without the stringiness) and a mild, anise flavor. Cooked, it is super-yummy and brings a new dimension to the other flavors in the stew.

I like to serve this with warm, crusty rosemary sourdough bread and maybe some garlic butter green beans. Yum! Hope you will enjoy it as well!

Provencal Pork Stew
(Adapted from Cooking Light)

This makes enough for 4 - can easily be doubled

1 bulb fennel, sliced thinly
1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly
4-6 garlic cloves, minced (to your taste)
1 pound pork tenderloin - cut into bite size pieces
1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
Pitted Kalamata or Nicoise olives (to taste) - halved
White wine as needed
Chicken broth as needed
1 Tbsp Herbes de Provence (to taste)*
Chopped fresh parsley
Olive Oil

Note: I haven't given precise quantities on some ingredients above because most things are to taste or as needed. Make it the way you like it!

In a large, heavy-bottom pan, heat olive oil and saute the fennel and onion until tender. Add garlic and saute a couple minutes more; remove mixture from pan and reserve.

Meanwhile, dredge pork in a little flour, shaking off excess. Heat some more olive oil in your pan and brown the pork on all sides, sprinkling with salt and pepper to taste. When pork is browned, deglaze the pan with some white wine - make sure you get all the yummy brown bits off the bottom! - and add some chicken broth - you want about 1 cup total liquid.

Add the fennel mixture, herbes de provence, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer about 45 minutes, then add olives and adjust seasoning. Simmer uncovered until pork is tender and sauce has thickened, another 10 or 15 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with crusty garlic toast!

*If you don't have Herbes de Provence, just make a mixture of equal parts (dried) basil, marjoram, rosemary, sage, savory thyme and lavender.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I am SO excited. Over something so simple, but which makes me very happy. This is the first time I've been able to menu plan in MONTHS. Just the idea of having a plan - some idea of what's for dinner this week - gives me so much more peace than I've had recently. Being out of my routine really throws me mentally off my game, so I am very glad to get back to some of my usual tasks - things I've missed the last few months! (I may not get our Christmas cards out until February, but at least we'll be fed).

Since we are hosting large family holiday meals (Thanksgiving and Christmas) just a few weeks apart, we are going to try to use up as many frozen foods and pantry items as we can in between. We've ended up with a freezer full of odds and ends and a similar situation in the pantry - ingredients for meals, rather than meals in and of themselves, but that's what makes cooking fun. And of course since everyone's feeling the economic pinch these days, we are of course looking to save as many dollars at the store as we can this week. So this week's menu will use up a few ingredients from our fridge and pantry, such as almond butter and leftover sweet potatoes that didn't make it into the holiday casserole. We also have some hamburger buns languishing and a couple of freezer meals I want to use up (can you tell I'm thinking out loud here? LOL!) As we go I will also weed out anything that is leftover from last winter (yeah, it's that bad!).

So here's the plan:

Monday: Mexican Chicken with Almond-Chile Cream, Baked Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Butter, Buttered Broccoli

Tuesday: Baked Tilapia with Baby Lima Beans, Rosemary Olive-Oil Garlic Toast

Wednesday: Burgers, Fried Okra (or possibly Tater Tots and Wilted Spinach)

Thursday: Honey-Nut Chicken, Buttered Corn, Buttered Broccoli

Atkins Park Pork Tenderloin, Rice with Pecans, Garlic Butter Green Beans

Saturday: Friends coming over for our annual Tour of Lights (we pile into our car with Christmas music, drinks and snacks to tour our subdivision's light displays)

Sunday: Black Bean Chili, Cornbread

Happy week!

Love, Dahrlin'

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Holiday Recipe Chronicles: Spiced Nuts

So I keep promising you guys a new recipe. Today I'm here to fulfill that promise, LOL!

We made a lot of family favorites over Thanksgiving, and we make many of the same recipes for Christmas Dinner. Over the next few weeks I hope to share many of them with you here on the blog. I'd love to hear your thoughts on your own favorites as well! I always look for ways to improve what we make each year, but I try to keep the recipes basically unaltered, because there is grumbling from the ranks if I make too many changes :-)

I may not have pictures for all of the recipes initially, but I will update the posts with photos when we make these at Christmas.

So here's the first one. I'm beginning with this one for a couple of reasons - one, I have to go out shortly and get our Christmas tree, so I need to keep today's post short, LOL! But also because it's one that is so good, and so easy, I wanted to post it early (or relatively early) in the season. It makes PERFECT gifts for almost anyone (except those with allergies). So try it sometime and see how you like it! So far, we've made it with pecans and cashews, and both are great. I think you could do this with any nut you prefer.

I also owe my friend Katherine the credit for this recipe. I believe it originally came from her family. Now it's a favorite of ours as well!

Spiced Nuts
(proportions as given; to make a smaller or larger batch just adjust the seasoning mixture and the egg wash)

1 lb. pecan halves
1 egg white, beaten
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 225. Combine sugar and spices. Toss nuts with egg white to coat well. Then toss well with spice mixture. Place in a single layer in a buttered pan with 2" sides. Bake for 1 hour or so, turning every 15 minutes (make sure they bake until the coating is "dry" and nuts are glazed). Cool completely in a single layer and then store in an airtight container...if you have any leftovers :-)


Love, Dahrlin'

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Surfacing...with just a quick update!

Okay, so I SERIOUSLY did not mean to let another two weeks go by between blog posts. It's just been crazy and busy and... well, I know you all understand!

So just a brief update from here. I miss y'all!!! I really appreciate each one of you that follows this blog and keeps up with these ramblings. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Speaking of, ours was wonderful, with lots of friends and family visiting and (of course) a tremendous amount of food. I hope to have some pics up soon and - not to worry - holiday recipes coming soon!! (I really truly will post a recipe. Really! LOL! I know I keep saying that...)

Meanwhile, it's just been a crazy-busy few weeks, with going back to work after my neck injury. So far, so good. It's hanging in there in "more or less stable" condition for the moment. Right now, I'm just trying to get through the holidays, and then I will go see a chiropractor in case they can help. I just didn't want to do anything to make it worse in the meantime, as I've got all I can handle right now :-)

In other news, of course we got Miss Pixie. She is doing GREAT and is such a love. Look for more Pixie Pics coming soon, but for now I will just say I am already TOTALLY in love with this dog. She is such a sweetie - she loves to play, but mostly just wants to be with us. She snuggles under the covers with us in the mornings, snuggles with us while we watch TV, and generally follows us everywhere. We've been walking her every evening, which is great for my weight and fitness but not so great for my blogging schedule, LOL! But she is just too adorable. And we all need the energy outlet and exercise.

Also meanwhile, it's been kind of crazy at work. I think these last few weeks have been about the busiest I can remember at this job, and this week was especially crazy. I need a vacation, LOL! (Thanksgiving doesn't count - it was fun, but not a vacation!)

So on a totally random note, I am watching Dog the Bounty Hunter while I type this. Does anyone else watch this show? I just love the whole family. I am totally and completely hooked. And I am a huge fan of Leland. Haven't seen it? Check him out. Angie, you really need to put him in next week's MMEC. He's totally worthy. Promise!!

We're also trying to get into the Christmas decorating spirit. And gift buying and holiday planning and tree purchasing and... oh sheesh. I should just 'fess up now - I have done nothing in terms of Christmas preparations except listen to Christmas music this last week. I've GOT to get it in gear, as Thanksgiving came late this year. So naturally I'm more behind than ever!

I'm just realizing how totally random and rambling this post is - so I will take pity on those still reading and head on out to walk Miss Pix. But I really will be back - this week! - with a couple of recipes for you. They are family holiday favorites and I hope you'll love them as much as we do!

Love and hugs and happy rest of the week!

Love Dahrlin'
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