Simply Sweet Home

Recipes, Decor, Crafts, Product Reviews, Giveaways and more.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for December 1 and More Awards

Breakfasts - Ham & Eggs, Cereal, Biscuits

Lunches - Turkey Sandwiches, Baked Ham Sandwiches, leftovers

Dinners -
Monday - Beef Stroganoff, pinto beans
Tuesday - Turkey & Dressing, green beans, corn
Wednesday - Baby Back Ribs, leftover pintos
Thursday - Turkey stuffed potatoes
Friday - going out to eat for my belated birthday dinner
Saturday - chicken fingers & fries
Sunday - Leftover buffet

Visit I'm An Organizing Junkie to see other great menus.


Also, I'm happy to announce that I got 2 more awards. Dell from Cooking and the City has given me the Perfect Blend of Friendship award and the Butterfly Award. Thanks Dell! It was very nice of you to think of me!

I'm passing these awards on to
My Recipes

Swati's Sugarcraft

Sugarcraft by Soni

Rosie Bakes a Peace of Cake

Tip Junkie


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Friday, November 28, 2008

New Christmas Poll & Call for Submissions

I've just a posted a new Christmas poll. You'll find it near the top of your screen, in the left hand side bar. Being in choirs for many years, I've always loved Christmas music, so the poll question is, What is your favorite Christmas song?

Also, I'd like to take this opportunity to ask for submissions/contributions for the Christmas festival. Each week I'd like to have a post that features ideas from other blogs & websites. My posts will contain links to the featured idea/post, as well as a description of what the links is, and possibly a photo from the post if applicable, with your permission, of course.

I hope some of you will decide to participate. This will make things more fun. We'll be able to have a variety of good content, and by getting featured here, you can get more visitors to your blog/website. And if you're already posting Christmas ideas anyway, you may as well take 2 minutes to send me your link.

I'll be looking around the internet & blogosphere for ideas to feature, but I would much rather feature ideas from people that read my blog and people that actually volunteer to be featured.

Here are the rules and parameters to follow, if you'd like to be featured.

1. Write a post on any idea you have for Christmas. (if you don't celebrate Christmas, but celebrate some other holiday instead, you can also send me a link to those ideas.)

  • It can be a recipe...dessert, appetizer, casserole, candy...anything goes.
  • It could also be a Christmas craft or decoration or scrapbook/card project.
  • The recipe/craft/decoration doesn't have to be something you've made yourself, though that would be nice. I'll accept it as long as it's something that I think other visitors to my blog would like.
  • Any other Christmas tips and ideas are acceptable as well.
  • I'll also accept ideas that may not be yours, such as a blog post or website that you've found and enjoyed. Just let me know if the link is not yours so that I can get proper permission, if needed.
  • If you have any personal Christmas stories, favorite memories, or a wish list you've posted, you can send those in as well.

2. If you'd like to be featured in my Christmas festival, email me at Type "Christmas Festival" in the subject box. In your email, include your first name, your website name, a quick description of your idea, and a link to your idea/tip, etc. (This will help me to sort through submisions, and ensure that I link to the proper post/idea.)

3. I'll be accepting submissions through December 21. Here's a tentative schedule of events:

  • Dec 1-6 I'll be featuring Decorations/Crafts/Cards/etc.
  • Dec 7-13 I'll be featuring recipes.
  • December 14-20 I'll be featuring simple ideas/tips, misc ideas (could be more recipes/crafts/decor, if need be)
  • December 21-25 I'll be featuring a Christmas meme and stories/wish lists.

4. If you miss the deadlines for the first 2 weeks, you can still send in your idea, and I'll post it during the week of the 14th or the 21st. I want to give everyone a chance to share his/her idea.

As you can see, Decorations/Crafts are up first, so if you have anything you'd like featured, send me your link over the next few days, otherwise, it won't be used until the week of the 14th. (and sorry I didn't post up this call for submissions till now.) If you have any recipes or anything else that you've posted and would like me to feature, you can go ahead and send those in as well. Throughout the month I'll post up reminders so that everybody can get their submissions in.

Hope to hear from you all! Have a great weekend!



Saving Money This Christmas

In a time of economic uncertainty, everyone is looking for ways to save. In this post you'll find a link to another article I wrote last year, which explains various ways that you can save money on Christmas gifts this year.

Here are just few key things to remember:
  • Create a shopping list & budget ahead of time and stick to your budget!
  • Pay with cash. This will help ensure that you stick to a budget, and you won't have to worry about paying off those credit cards next year.
  • Use gift cards & shopping cards to buy your gifts.
  • Save money by making gifts yourself. Make your own crafts, jewelry, or Christmas candy and cookies.
  • Buy throughout the year when items are sale rather than splurging on everything at one time.
To read the entire, detailed article, follow the link below:
Tips to Avoid Spending Too Much This Holiday Season

Also, while I'm posting about saving money, here are few more points, which are not in the article, but are important to remember this holiday season.
  • Remember that it's not the quantity of gifts or the amount of money spent that counts, but the thought behind the gift.
  • Sometimes good things do come in small packages.
  • Sometimes less is more.
  • No amount of money you can spend will ever replace or mean as much as the time that you spend with family and friends.
  • And don't forget the reason for the season.


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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday: Making Your List & Checking It Twice

Christmas can very stressful to a lot of people, especially the Christmas shopping part. One thing you can do to alleviate the stress and save time is to make yourself a detailed list for your shopping, budgeting, and planning purposes. Here are some suggestions & tips that work for me.

Making a List - Before begining your Christmas shopping, make a list of all your gift recipients. I like to organize them in to groups: Parents, nieces/nephews, brothers/sisters, coworkers, gift exchange, etc. This will ensure that you don't leave anyone out and it can save you from going out at the last second to buy another gift. (The strategy is also helpful when making Christmas card lists.)

Beside each name, I write in a dollar amount that I plan to spend on each person. This helps me to maintain a budget and make sure that I don't spend significantly more on one parent/sibling/kid than I do the others. (If I didn't do this I'd be forced to either leave one person shortchanged, or else go out and buy another gift for someone, both of which I'd rather not do.) Also, beside each name, I write down gift ideas for that person, so that when I go out shopping I'll know right where to go, which saves a lot of time. Once I've purchased a gift for someone, I mark them off the list.

Saving Your List - If you worry about accidentally giving the same gift year after year to the same person or if you like to base your Christmas budget on the one from the year before, you may want to save your list for next year. File it away or enter it on the computer.

I recommend putting your list on a spreadsheet. And after you've bought your gifts, you can easily enter in everything that you bought. Perhaps you bought Sue a pair of earrings rather than the sweater you had planned on. You can save this information on the sheet. Then next year at this time, all you have to do is pull up the spreadsheet. You'll already have all your names and dollar amounts listed, which can easily be altered without making an entire new list and you'll have a list of everything you bought the year before, which will keep you from duplicating gifts. This is a great time saver too!


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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My First Award

My Recipes has given me this Lemonade Award. This is the first award that I have received for this blog, and I really appreciate it. Isn't it cute?

In keeping with the tradition and spirit of the award, I am passing this award on to some other great blogs. So here they are:

Rosie Bakes a 'Peace' of Cake - Rosie bakes beautiful cakes and desserts. And I can tell that a lot of love goes in to each recipe.

Secrets of a Southern Kitchen - Charlene posts on my favorite kinds of recipes--the simple ones! I just came across her blog the other day, but I already love it!

Cooking and the City - From Melbourne, Australia, Dell creates a whole host of delicious looking foods.

Living Well On Less - A blog written by a newlywed about saving money. I can relate!

Frugal Finds from Your Frugal Friend - Another money saving blog. Carol posts up links to coupons, freebies, and other frugal tips.

The Recipe Girl - Another great recipe blog. She also posts up pictures of the process for making the recipes. Everything looks delicious!

Sugarcraft by Soni - Anamika makes beautiful cakes for all occasions. She's a true artist!

Passionate about Baking - Bakelicious - Home Baked Delicious Cake - Another great cake blog. I only just found this one, but I loved what a saw. Lovely work!

Southern Dining Diva - Great blog with a variety of recipes, and written by a fellow Alabama girl.

Ling's Passion - More beautiful cakes and other delicious looking recipes!

Here are the rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post.

2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!

3. Link to your nominees within your post.

4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.



Planning & Organizing for Black Friday and other Shopping Trips

For the first of week of our little festival, I'll be focused on planning & preparation. We begin with Christmas shopping. As you all know, Black Friday is this week. There's a big debate over the merits of Black Friday. It is really worth the trip? Can you really save that much? I'd say the answer is yes and no.

I think there was definitely a time when Black Friday was a little more worth your while. Somehow I think the further commercialization of Christmas, the availability of more & more items to choose from, and the fact that the Christmas shopping season has been expanding to where it no longer starts on Black Friday, but instead starts in October, has deminished the appeal and the excitement of Black Friday.

But you can find good deals on Black Friday. If you do your research, get there early, and are willing to stand in line for that door buster deal, you can definitely save money. Unfortunately some of the great deals you see in the paper are for items of which they only have a limited quantity. Other items you find in the sales aren't actually on sale at all; someone just paid to have that item advertised. And some items that are "on sale" you will find, aren't really much cheaper than they would be on any given day.

However, you can find deals. People find them every year. For example, we picked up a vacuum last year, and few years ago I got a great deal on a printer. There are definitely some great deals to be had, you just have to know where to look, and you have to have a plan.

I wrote an article last year on making the most of your Black Friday trip. I published this article on Helium, and it has been ranked number one in the category for the past year. It was even featured on the front page of their website a year ago. The article focuses on strategies that you can use to plan and organize your shopping trip. It lays out a step-by-step process and explains how to look at and sort through the mountain of Black Friday advertisements, how to organize your shopping list and trip, and it also gives you some tips on prioritizing your trip and maneuvering through the chaos at your local stores.

And even if you don't plan on going shopping for Black Friday, the article is worth checking out because the process and strategies can be applied for any shopping day. And since they'll be having Christmas sales throughout the month of December, it should come in handy. Here's the link to the article:

Next up, I'll have an article on tips to avoid overspending this holiday season, tips for making your shopping list, and other ideas for Christmas planning.


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Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Simply Sweet Home Christmas Festival

Hello everyone! As mentioned in a previous post, this week I'm launching the Simply Sweet Home Christmas Festival. For the next few weeks, I'll be featuring nothing but Christmas posts (with the exception of MPM). I've got plans to feature crafts, decor, gift ideas, recipes, and more! And I also have a few ideas floating around in my head that will make the Christmas Festival more interactive. This has always been my favorite time of year, but sometimes with all the hustle and bustle, we barely get a chance to enjoy it, so that's why I'm doing this. So sit back, relax, and get ready for some interesting, fun-filled content that will get you in the spirit of the season.

To kick the festival off, I've created a collection of buttons here. Keep in mind, I'm not a graphic designer! (as if I had to tell you that!) However, these aren't too shabby! I've placed the codes here for you, if you'd like to put them on your site for a little Christmas decoration, and of course, they link back to my site, so that all your friends can come and join in on all the fun as well. (Note: This is my first time to try putting text boxes on the blog. All the codes should be correct, but just in case something is wrong, please leave me a comment on the post or send an email to Thanks.)

Also, here's a year-round button that I made.


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Menu Plan Monday for November 24

I've got a busy (but hopefully good) week coming up. My husband's off work for the entire week, but unfortunately we've got a lot of business and errands to tend to. No rest for the weary! And then of course there's Thanksgiving, followed by a weekend of taking down fall decorations and putting up Christmas stuff, and a whole host of football games to watch.

Also, this week I am kicking off the Simply Sweet Home Christmas Festival! For the next month, I'll be featuring a ton of ideas for Christmas, including decorating, crafts, gift wrap organizing, gift ideas, and of course, plenty of Simply Sweet Home recipes! It'll be very fun, so I hope you'll all come back and join me! To learn more about this & to pick up a free Christmas button for your blog, go to Simply Sweet Home Christmas Festival.

Now onto our lovely menu for this week...

Breakfasts - Bacon Ham & Cheese biscuits, waffles, cereal, fruit, hot cocoa

Lunches - tuna sandwiches, ham sandwiches, leftovers

Dinners -

Monday - Cheeseburger Macaroni, corn

Tuesday - Porkchops, green beans, biscuits

Wednesday- Chicken Noodle Soup

Thursday - Thanksgiving Dinner!

Friday - leftovers

Saturday - Take out Pizza or Buffalo Chicken Fingers for the Iron Bowl!

Sunday - Shepherds Pie

See what's cooking on other blogs at



Friday, November 21, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Egg Custard Pie

I made something a little different for this week's featured recipe. This week was my dad's birthday, and for the occasion I decided to make my first attempt at an Egg Custard Pie. I remember my grandmother making these for my dad when I was still a kid. He loved them, but I don't recall him ever getting the recipe for it or attempting to make it himself, which is kind of odd because my dad's always trying new recipes. Anyway, my dad feels that he has basically everything he needs, and he'd much rather recieve a gift that someone made for him as opposed to something that's been bought, so for his birthday, I wanted to try this recipe.

I have to admit, I was a little clueless here. Not only had I never made this, but I've never even tasted one before! So I had nothing to compare it to, other than the memory of what my grandmother's pie looked like! And there were only about half a dozen different recipes to choose from in my books! So basically I went in to this, knowing that at the very least my dad would be happy that I even made the attempt and he'd be pleased that I paid attention and remembered that he liked this pie.

Well, that idea turned out to be a major understatement. When I showed up with the pie, my dad was thrilled! He said that he didn't think he'd had one since the last time my grandmother made one before she got sick, which was about 15 years ago! He was very surprised and happy, and upon tasting it, he said it was just as good as the one's grandma used to make. (yay!) I actually can't remember the last time I saw him react to a gift like that, so it was very touching, and made me very happy as well!


1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup self-rising flour
2 cups milk
1 Tbsp. vanilla

Instructions: Spray pie pan with cooking spray or use melted butter. Mix sugar and flour together; then add eggs, milk, and vanilla. Mix well. Add melted butter last. Stir well and pour into deep dish pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until nicely browned.

Tips & Warnings:

-The batter is very thin and will almost spill over the side of the pie pan if you're not careful; yet there isn't really enough batter to separate it into 2 pies either. Use a large/deep dish pie pan if you have one. Also, if using a regular sized pie pan I recommend placing the pie pan on a large baking sheet so that when you place it in the oven, any spills will go on the the baking sheet rather than all over your oven.

-Also, for my pie, I chose not to use a crust, because my grandmother didn't use one; however, some of the recipes that I looked at did call for a frozen pie crust to be used.

-To spice it up a bit, other recipes call for 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. You could also use allspice or cinnamon.

-I also baked my pie a little longer than the directions called for, about 40-45 minutes, but I think my oven just cooks a little slow.

These pictures didn't turn out to be the greatest in the world, but the pie does look good in person. And it was very easy to make, so if someone in your family likes custard, this recipe could be ideal for Thanksgiving or Christmas!


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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday: Ultimate Fudge Truffles, An Easy Treat for The Holidays

The Thanksgiving/Christmas season will soon be upon us, which means millions of people will be flocking to the massive store displays of baking ingredients and returning home to their kitchens to create an array of cakes, cookies, and confections. Yum!

I love this time of year, and I love baking. But I sometimes dread making Christmas candy. I, of course, love the end result and enjoy eating the fruits of my labor. But I think my candy making process sometimes looks a lot like Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory.

That's why I love recipes like the one I posted last week for my recipe of the week. The unbaked caramel cookies were quick and easy to make, and the process didn't totally destroy my clean kitchen. Here's another easy treat that you can make for for this holiday season:

Betty Crocker's Ultimate Fudge Truffles are a great treat that you can make in minutes. These are perfect to carry to a Thanksgiving or Christmas party or to stuff in your Christmas candy gift baskets. You only need a couple of ingredients to go along with the kit, and the process is simple.

Simply mix the ingredients, heat in the microwave, spread out the batter, and let it set for a few minutes. Then cut the batter and form into balls. You can then roll them in the topping of choice. The kit comes with cocoa to roll the truffles in, but I chose, instead, to leave some plain while dipping others in powdered sugar or sprinkles. You could also use chopped nuts or give them a drizzle of caramel or fudge. The kit even comes with little wrapper/cups to put the truffles in.

This and other dessert kits are great if you don't have time to look up a bunch of recipes and shop for a bunch of ingredients, or if you're just not a skilled baker. It can also save you a lot of money because you're not having to puchase an entire cart full of ingredients.

I totally recommend this kit to all you chocolate lovers out there and to anyone who, like me, loves to eat candy and treats and is looking for something easy & quick to make.

Post Update: I should mention that these truffles remind me more of fudge brownies than of the little truffles you get in the store with the chocolate shell. If you want a chocolate shell on them, I guess it would be easy enough to melt a couple of squares of bakers chocolate and dip them. But again, I love them as is, and my husband liked them too. (And he's not even a choc-o-holic!)

For other great ideas, visit Rocks in My Dryer.


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Monday, November 10, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for November 10

It's been kind of a long day around here, so I'll be brief. Due to changes in plans, I've moved one of my meals from last week to this week, so if you notice a repeat that is the reason for it. My husband also put in a special request for poulet. This recipe has become an instant favorite of ours. We've totally fallen in love with it, and I think it's going to be *regular* recipe in our house, so as long as I do MPM posts you are sure to see it again. Hope you all have an excellent week!

Breakfasts - cereal, cinnamon-sugar biscuits, oatmeal

Lunches - tuna sandwiches, grilled cheese, chicken noodle soup, leftovers from dinner

Monday - Lemon Pepper Pork Chops w/ Creamy Chicken Flavored Rice
Tuesday - Chili Chicken Pasta Topper
Wednesday - hamburgers & fries
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Chicken Poulet
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - Chili

Come join the fun of MPM at I'm an Organizing Junkie.



Saturday, November 8, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Unbaked Caramel Cookie Bars

Here's a recipe that's kind of fall-ish. This comes from my grandmother's old cookbook. The original recipe doesn't include sugar, but as my grandmother wrote it into the recipe, that's how I made it too. And after trying it with the sugar, I can't imagine how it could be any better without it.

It kind of reminds me of Harry Potter using the "Half Blood Prince's" instructions that are written in the margin, rather than the textbook instructions, and getting a much better result. (except I'm not a wizard, and I'm making cookies rather than potions, and well...nevermind)

Anyway, this is a great recipe if you're looking for something rich, sweet, and gooey. It's extremely easy to make and a great treat that you can make at the last minute, so it's perfect for a holiday party or just a quick snack at home.

Unbaked Caramel Cookie Bars

3/4 cup margarine
1 small can evaporated milk
2 cups sugar
1 4 oz package of instant butterscotch pudding
3 1/2 cups quick cooking oats

Bring margarine and milk to a rolling boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add pudding mix, sugar, and oats. Mix together thoroughly. Cool about 10 minutes. Then press into an 11X7 or 9X13in pan, or use a teaspoon and drop cookies onto wax paper. Chill in the refrigerator or freezer.


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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Best of Simply Sweet Home

Now that the site has been around for a year, I can now do "flash back" or "best of" posts. This is great! It's fun to revisit my old posts, and it also gives me a chance to highlight these posts for new readers to take a look at for the first time.

I'm going to try to do this about once a month, and each month I'll pick about 4 to 10 links to post up. And of course, I'll try to pick the most relevant, interesting, and popular posts to highlight.

As with any other post I would write, if you try the links any of them are wrong, I ask you to email me ( or or leave me a comment to let me know, so that I can correct the problems. Thanks!

Easy Pecan Pie
Marshmallow Pilgrim Hat Cookies

Making Your Battle Plan for a Clean Home
The Importance of Cleaning Up Fall Leaves
Top 5 Things to Clean Before Your Holiday Party

12 Tips & Shortcuts for Your Holiday Party
An Inviting Thanksgiving Craft

Saving Money
Use Your Windows to Help You Save Money

Hope you're all having a good week!



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Help the Troops this Election Day

On this election day, I’ve chosen to write a post about a non-partisan cause that anyone and everyone can get behind. With all the campaign rhetoric and the talk of the “economic crisis” we seem to have forgotten that our soldiers have been fighting for our freedom overseas, and since Veteran’s Day is coming up, as well as the holiday season, I think it’s a perfect time to highlight some charitable organizations that help our men and women overseas.

So for today’s post I’d like to tell you about the 2008 Thanksgiving Thank You Project. This is a project to help our wounded veterans. All you have to do is visit the website and put your name & other information in the form to send a Thank You/Get Well card to a wounded Veteran. You also have the option of writing a personal message to the veteran. This only takes a minute or two of your time, and it will give the card a much more personal sentiment. You also have an option of giving a donation to the wounded veterans, but this is not required. Please take a moment to go here and send a card to our wounded troops. It's the least we can do for our wounded vets.

I also encourage you to take a look at Operation Homefront. This organization does a lot to help military members and their families. They provide assistance in emergencies and they provide financial assistance, furniture & appliances, baby items, car donations/repairs, and other items and services for those in need. Their organization also has adopt-a-family opportunities & programs to send holiday gift baskets to military families. You can also visit Ecarepackage, which is a part of Operation Homefront. At this website you can learn about how you can sponsor a military member or family.

Also, check out The Wounded Warrior Project, which works to raise awareness of the needs of severely wounded vets and works to provide aid and services to these vets.
Hope you're all having a good election day, and I hope you all consider giving to one of these great charities this holiday season. Thanks!

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for November 3

It's hard to believe it's November already. The months and years just keep going by faster and faster. It doesn't even seem possible that Thanksgiving is only 3 1/2 weeks away, which means Christmas is just around the corner. Whew! If only we could just stop time for a little while so that I could catch up!

Well, I hope you all had a fun Halloween. Ours was pretty uneventful (in a good way). We only had around 20 trick or treaters. I wish we could have seen more kids in costume. But at least we have a steady supply of candy bars leftover. (Disposing of them will be a tough job, but I'm sure we can handle it.)

But unfortunately we can't just sit around eating candy and junk all the time. so without further ado, here is this week's menu:

Breakfasts - oatmeal, cereal, biscuits & gravy

Lunches - ham/turkey sandwiches, tuna sandwiches, dinner leftovers

Monday - Lasagna
Tuesday - Beef stew
Wednesday - Beef stew
Thursday - Roast Beef & gravy, mashed potatoes, black eyed peas
Friday - Chili Chicken Pasta Topper (new recipe)
Saturday - eat out
Sunday - leftover night