Simply Sweet Home

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Week In Review

I'm happy to say that our week went fairly well. The drive got a little crazy as we were going through the rains of Faye. It was the worst weather either my husband or I remember ever driving through, and to top it off, it was dark. We were driving about 45 mph on the interstate and saw several wrecks along the way and actually stopped at one time because I couldn't see the road at all and was getting scared. I'm still glad we didn't wait until this weekend to come up. I hear that a lot of people in the gulf region of our state are headed north. There's not a mandatory evacuation, and we're not sure if Gustav will hit there or not, but either way, it's good to have all of our stuff out ahead of time. And I'm happy that my husband and I aren't sitting for hours in stand still traffic.

All in all, we had a pretty good week. I went to a job interview on Friday for a temporary position. I was very nervous about it, but it went pretty well. Not sure if I'll get the job or not because I don't have experience in the area which the position is for, but you never know.

As for the house, everything is looking good. In a lot of ways, it's going to look like a new house when their done. Once the work is done, I'll take some pictures and post them. I have a couple of "before" pictures that I'll try to post as well. They were taken with a disposable camera rather than digital, so I'm sure how good they'll look once scanned, but we shall see. Anyway the painting is almost finished, and they should begin putting in the new floors sometime this week. We'll still have to do some cosmetic work to the outside of the house and to the outbuilding. But we can do all of that after we've moved in. (and boy, am I ready to move in!)

In thinking about moving, doing home improvements, and doing a little decorating and organizing, I've already got a ton of new post ideas. And hopefully in the next few days or week, I'll get back to doing some regular posts on these very topics. It's strange how you get so used to posting that you actually miss it, when you don't get to do it. I also miss my laptop and my highspeed connection. (Right now I'm using my old computer which is on a dial up connection and is very slow!) Can't wait to get into the new place and get back in the groove!


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Planning the Move, Phase One is Complete!

The other day I got out my handy dandy notebook and made out a "to do" list of things we need to do before & during the move (see the list below). Well, phase one of the moving process is over. Thank goodness! Packing is the worst! I keep thinking of that DirecTV commercial that says, "packing, unpacking, your mind in a haze."

We had a pretty good system though. We went through and numbered each box and gave it a "room label" and of course wrote what was on the box. And as we went, we made an inventory sheet of all the items. The list included each box number, the room the box should go in, and a breif description of what's in the box. Hopefully this will make it easier when it comes time to unpack, so we'll know exactly what box holds what before we open them. And on the list we also wrote down all of our furniture, "loose items," plastic drawer sets, and plastic tubs, just so we'd be able to remember exactly what we have.

We stayed up late last night to make sure that we had everything packed up so that the movers could come in and do their thing without us getting in their way. (my husband used to move furniture, and he said people were always doing last minute packing..and arguing...when they'd get their to move...we definitely wanted to avoid that.) Now our apartment is essentially empy, with exception of the bare neccessities and a few special items that we wanted to carry ourselves. It'll probably still be a tight fit to get everything we have left in our car and truck, but we're gonna get it done.

Moving Check List:

Phase 1 -Boxing Up Our Lives - Stuff We've Already Done
-Get boxes & other supplies
-Make a list of essential items that we must have while we're in limbo & set aside
-Pack, pack, pack
-Get Truck
-Line up people to load & unload truck

Phase 2 - Leaving it All Behind - Stuff to Do Tomorrow
-Pay electric bill and cancel service.
-Cancel internet service and pay final bill.
-Drop off book donations at library.
-Load up car and truck.
-Check mail, turn in apartment keys, and sign papers to get out of lease.
-Fill out change of address forms at post office.
-Stop by husband family to say goodbye.
-Drive up to my parents' house, where we'll be staying until the new floor covering is put down in the house.

Phase 3 - Living in Limbo - Stuff to do this Week & Beyond
-Get a change of location/number for our cell phones.
-Return unused Uhaul boxes.
-Get voter registration information changed.
-Make appointment for installation of satellite & internet services at the new place.
-Get address changed for magazine subscriptions & other important mail: bank accounts, student loan accounts, cell phone account, various online accounts.
-Do a pre-move in survey of the house to decide where we'll put furniture and stuff.
-Work on anything that needs to be worked on in the new house/yard.
-Get prepared to start new jobs.
-Move in & unpack.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Coconut Cream Cake

This week I'm featuring an old family favorite. At Christmas time, my mom or my aunt always make a Coconut Cream Cake, but it's also a really good recipe for spring or summer as well (especially if you love coconut as much as my husband does).

I was looking at some blogs the other day, and I found a couple of people that said they hated cake mixes. Well, I used one to make this cake, but of course, if you prefer you can make a homemade white or yellow sheetcake cake rather than using a mix. I personally like the convenience and simplicity of the cake mix, and I love the taste of them, because...well...I grew up eating cake mix cakes. We only ate made from scratch cakes on a special for my "simply sweet" purposes, the cake mix works fine. Enjoy!

1 White or yellow Cake Mix
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoon coconut extract.
1 can cream of coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tub whipped topping
1 bag flaked coconut

Directions: Mix cake ingredients (mix, oil, water, eggs) as directed on box. Add extracts and continue to mix well. Pour into a greased 9X13 pan, and bake as directed (about 350 degrees for 32-35 minutes).

Let cake cool completely. Mix sweetened condensed milk and cream of coconut together in a bowl. Poke holes in top of cake, with fork or spoon handle. Pour mixture over entire cake. (Be sure mixture fills/goes into all holes. Spread whipped topping over cake and top with coconut. Keep cake refrigerated.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for August 18

This week I'm cleaning out my refrigerator and freezer so we won't have a bunch of food (other than dry goods) to take with us to the new house. So I'm not planning any casseroles or big recipes this week, as we tend to have more leftovers when I do that, and that would keep me from cooking up all the meat that I have left in stock. And as my schedule will be up in the air for the next couple of weeks, there will probably be no MPM post for at least a week.

If you visit my blog regularly, you also may have noticed that I did not post the recipe of the week yet. I haven't forgotten it. Actually as part of my kitchen-declutter, this weekend I made a Coconut Cream Cake, which I planned on posting for the Recipe of the Week. However, I didn't get a chance to upload the photos until today, so I plan on posting it in a day or two. Since we're moving this week I won't have time to post a recipe at the end of this week, so I decided I would just have the coconut cake as the featured recipe for both this past week and this coming week. So look for it in the next day or so. Now on with the menu....

Breakfast - Bacon & Egg Sandwiches, Waffles, cereal, fruit

Lunch - Leftovers from dinner, Chicken Sandwiches, Tuna sandwiches, Chicken Salad

Monday - Lemon Pepper Pork Chops w/ Corn & steamed veggies
Tuesday - Tacos
Wednesday - Cheesy Chicken w/ rice & broccolli
Thursday - Ham Steak w/ Great Northern Beans & corn
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Eat out
Sunday - Eat out

Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie if you'd like to see other menus.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Arranging the Move...Sooner Than We Thought

Talk about a time's only a week till our planned move, and there is a ton to do. Originally we had planned to move at the end of the month (2 weeks from today), but my stepfather called me today and informed me that the moving company that does moves for his company is going to be in the Florida area next week, and will then be going up to North Alabama in an empty truck....well, obviously that's a big waste of gas and company time, so he asked his contact at the moving company, "what if they didn't have to come back up here in an empty truck?" Long story short, because they were going to have to drive up and waste time and gas anyway, the lady agreed to move our stuff for a very good rate. For about $500 they will come get our stuff and unload it at the house. The lady also agreed to store our stuff in their warehouse for a couple of weeks, if our house is not ready to be moved into (which undoubtedly, it will not be ready).

Well, we couldn't ask for a better deal. To rent a truck and trailer it was going to cost about $360, plus the cost of gasoline. Plus, we were going to have to make 2 trips: one next week in the truck and car (so we could take 2 vehicles up and leave one there) and then a second one with our car and the moving truck. So this will definitely save us time, gas, and money, and save us from making an extra 10 hour round trip. And best of all, someone will be moving the stuff for us, and we won't have to go begging others to come help us load up the stuff. (and my husband tends to get grumpy on moving day, so maybe he'll be less stressed) So that should work out real nicely.

As for the house, I talked with my mom yesterday to find out how the renovations were going....she said it was going "slow." some of work will not be done when we get there...well, we expected that, but we'd rather get there before the work is done, so that we can actually do some of the work ourselves, and so that we can start our new jobs. I do hate that we'll be living in limbo for a week or two, while we wait for our house to be finished, but every rose has its thorn.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

200th Post - We're Movin' On Up!

Well, I’ve reached new heights on my little blog. I am now up to my 200th post. It’s a small step for blogs but a pretty big step for my little blog. Considering that I had only just started reading blogs last year, and I didn’t really put a lot of thought into my decision to start a blog, and I didn’t even know if I’d enjoy blogging or not, I’d say things have gone pretty well. I only hope that they continue to get even better in the future.

I thought for a while about what I would write for this post…Should it be just a regular everyday post? Should I do something special for it? Finally I decided that since this is a “milestone” post, it would be the perfect time for me to talk about future milestones on the blog and the milestones going on in my life.

The Blog. - First , the blog. Not only is this the 200th post, but in about 2 months, I’ll be celebrating the one year anniversary of my first post, which is very exciting for me…I can’t believe it’s been almost a year! I’m already beginning to think about how I will celebrate for the occasion, and that will, of course, include a big anniversary post. Additionally I’ve been thinking of different things I can do to revamp and make the blog better, so I’ve been coming up with some ideas to restructure, organize, and try to make it more focused and cohesive (for lack of a better word). I’m also planning to get a *new* design/template for the website. I’ve been looking at a lot of blog designs to try to get a good idea of what I’m looking for, and before the year is out, I hope to have a total makeover for the site. And I have a few ideas for some future projects that I think everyone will like.

Movin’ On Up (literally) – Next, an even greater milestone, we are getting ready to move in to our first house. Since we’ve been married, we’ve lived in an apartment and a rented house, but now we are getting ready to actually own our own home. My mother started “scouting out” good deals a couple of months ago, as we will be moving back to the area where I am from and it’s difficult for us to look around since we live 5 hours away. She found a good deal on an older home (built in the 60s/70s). I say it’s a good deal because all of the other homes in the same price range as this one were only about half the size. Anyway, the deal has been closed, and right now my mom and stepdad are overseeing some renovations being done on the house. Eventually we’d like to have something new altogether, but we needed to get something that would have low payments, since we have student loans and other debts to deal with, not to mention the cost of a “future” new baby in year or two.

So we’re very excited about moving back to the area and about having a place to call home when we get there. And we’re semi-excited about getting new jobs, but that’s a topic for another day.
So for both the blog and the home front, things are looking up!


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for August 11

Monday - Slow Cooker Roast Chicken
Tuesday - Leftovers
Wednesday - Paprika Pork chops w/ Sour Cream Gravy (original recipe uses chicken, but I'm going with chops) w/ steamed broccoli & rice
Thursday - Easy Chicken Pot Pie
Friday - Country Fried Steak w/ Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Peas, and Biscuits
Saturday - Leftover buffet
Sunday - Jambalaya
For great menu ideas and recipes, check out other posts at I'm An Organizing Junkie.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Cinnamon Rolls

It seemed fitting to end the week with a recipe for cinnamon rolls. Cinnamon rolls are one of my husband's favorite things to eat for breakfast or dessert, and I'm a pretty fan myself, so we definitely eat our fair share of these things. There must be a ton of recipes for cinnamon rolls out there, but I chose to share this one from BHG.


4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package fast-rising active dry yeast
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Cream Cheese Icing (see recipe below)

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour and yeast. In small saucepan, combine milk, water, the 1/2 cup sugar, oil, and salt. Heat; stir over medium heat till just warm (120 degree F to 130 degree F).
2. Add milk mixture and egg yolks to dry mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl often. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that's smooth and elastic (3 to 5 minutes). Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
4. Roll out dough to form a 14x12-inch rectangle. Spread with softened butter or margarine. Sprinkle with a mixture of 1/3 cup sugar and cinnamon.
5. Roll up, jelly-roll style, starting from long side. Seal seam. Slice into 12 pieces. Place in greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Cover; let rise in warm place till nearly doubled (20 minutes).
6. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly; remove from pan. Frost warm rolls with Cream Cheese Icing. Serve rolls warm or cool on a wire rack. Makes 12 rolls.
Cream Cheese Icing: In a medium mixing bowl, beat one 3-oz. package cream cheese, softened; 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened; and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in 1 tablespoon milk. Gradually add 1-1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar until icing is spreading consistency.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sweet Thursday: Breakfast Treats

And now for the sweeter side of breakfast. Here are some photos & links to some sweet breakfast pastries and treats. Enough said.

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread (or Monkey Bread)

Basically cinnamon donut holes baked together in a bundt pan, with a yummy glaze added. Yum! Very easy to make too. And I've also seen an already made version of this in the freezer section at the store for anyone who's in a big hurry.

Cream Cheese Squares

I'm a huge fan of cream cheese and recipes like this. Such a simple and plain concept, yet it's so good!

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Believe it or not, I've never really had coffee cake...then again, I don't drink coffee either. But I wouldn't mind trying it, and this one looks pretty good.

Strawberry-Banana Muffins

I love Banana muffins and Strawberry muffins, so why not combine the two. Joy of Baking has a great recipe to try.

Lemon Bars

I absolutely love these. I never thought of them as breakfast food until I started seeing them served in coffee shops. At work I had them for breakfast a few times, and it really hit the spot.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Few Good Breakfast Recipes

Breakfast foods are some of my favorite things to eat, but if you eat it day after day before getting ready for school or work, it can get old, especially if you make the same dishes over and over again. I looked around for some breakfast recipes that were a little different and unique to share with you. Here are a few photos and links of some that I found.

I've tasted a few different recipes for Breakfast Casserole, but none of them had waffles in them. And since bacon tastes so good with pancakes and waffles, why not add a few other ingredients and just mix it all up.

Breakfast Tacos

Like a breakfast burrito, except all the toppings are a pancake. Personally I think I would like a little bacon and hashbrowns on mine.

Breakfast Pizza

At they have several different recipes for Breakfast Pizza. The link should take you to their list of recipes.

Breakfast in a Cup

I thought this Paula Deen recipe looked very interesting. It's definitely a great method of putting together and presenting your old breakfast favorites in a very unique way.

Sausage Breakfast Cups

This one looks like a fancy gourmet recipe, but it's actually made with refrigerated biscuits and is very easy to make.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for August 4

Good day! For this week's menu I've included a recipe & pictures of my Mexican Chicken Casserole. I thought that I had posted this recipe before, but when I did a search on all my old posts, I found that I had merely listed it on a MPM post and never actually posted the recipe, so here it is.

Also, for anyone who's interested, I'm planning on posting some "breakfast" recipes this week in honor of the back to school season. I remember when I was a kid, in the summer I would eat mostly cereal for breakfast, or sometimes we just had lunch instead of breakfast, so whenever school was back in session it was back to the breakfast-making grind for my parents. And sometimes it just seems like there's such a limited selection for breakfast foods, so I thought it would be fun to look around for some different kinds of breakfast recipes to share. So you can check back for those in a few days.

In the mean time, here are this weeks menu selections. Happy Monday!

Monday - One Dish Chicken & Rice Bake w/ steamed veggies
Tuesday - Cheeseburger Macaroni w/ corn & rolls
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Mexican Chicken Casserole (recipe below)
Friday - Sub sandwiches
Saturday - Pizza
Sunday - Leftovers

Mexican Chicken Casserole:
2 cans chicken breast, drained or 3-4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked & chopped/shredded
1 reg bag tortilla chips
1 1/4 cup chicken broth or water (I use the broth drained off of the canned chicken)
2 cups greated cheddar cheese
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 - 1 1/2 cups of salsa (I never put an exact amount)

Spray 9X13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Mix together all ingredients except chips. Layer bottom of casserole dish with crushed chips. Then place part of the chicken mixture on top of the chips. Continue to layer chips and chicken mixture, ending with chips on top. Then sprinkle some additional cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Tip: I usually place a pile of chips on a plate and then place the casserole on top of the chips. Additionally I get out additional salsa, shredded lettuce, extra cheese, and sour cream to go on top. You could also use peppers, onions, diced tomatoes, or any other topping with this recipe.

Also, the original recipe (that I played around with to come up with this one) included jalepeno peppers and rotel tomatoes with the chicken mixture instead of salsa.

(Casserole before cooking)

(casserole after cooking)

For more information on MPM, visit I'm An Organizing Junkie.

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Friday, August 1, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Cinnamon Muffins

Here's something a little sweet for breakfast: Cinnamon Muffins (from BHG). Whether your a parent or a kid, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But sometimes, due to lack of time, resources, or out of the force of habit, we end up having the same breakfast foods over and over. I don't know about everyone else, but for me, even the the greatest hot breakfast in the world could get old if I had to eat it every day.

The great thing about muffins is that they come in a variety of flavors, and if you're making them for just one or two people, an entire batch can last for two or three days. It's also great because you can make them the night before, and then grab a couple on your way out if you're in a hurry.

These Cinnamon Muffins are sure to please, and I think we can all agree that it's a step up from cinnamon toast (though I love a slice of that in the morning as well).

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin cups; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl stir together flour, the 1/2 cup sugar, the baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. In a small bowl beat egg with a fork; stir in milk and the 1/3 cup melted butter. Add egg mixture to flour mixture all at once. Stir just until moistened (batter will be lumpy).

3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.

4. Meanwhile, combine the 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Cool muffins in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups. Dip muffins into the 1/4 cup melted butter, then into sugar-cinnamon mixture. Serve warm. Makes 12 muffins.

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