A Picnic for Who??

Hi everyone!

We are having a very snowy day here in Michigan! This is the most snow I think we’ve had all year! What I noticed first thing this morning was how many birds were flocking around my feeders. They’ve had it pretty easy so far, but I think their food was covered up this morning. I love watching the birds, and it was so pretty out, I got the idea to make my own suet feeders! Of course, I headed over to Pinterest for some recipes and ideas. I found there are LOTS of recipes, so I kind of took the basics and made my own!

Picnic BasketThis was an old picnic basket I found at Good Will. I thought the cups were colorful and would stand out in the snow.

 

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I gathered all of my ingredients. Some called for shortening and some for coconut oil, so I decided to use some of both!

 

Bowl of ingredientsSo here mixed together is 2 cups of bird seed, 1 cup of raisins, and 1 cup of plain peanuts. Just grab a bowl, use your fingers and mix it well.

 

Heating shortening

Put a pan on the burner on low. Add 1 cup of shortening, 1 cup of coconut oil and 1 cup of crunchy peanut butter. You just want to melt this, not cook.

When its all melted, stir well into seed mixture. I suggest using a ladle to put it in the cups. Now I forgot to take a picture of this, but I put sticks in so that the birds would have something to perch on. I put them in the freezer for about an hour and they were hardened up. I found some cute ribbon to use to hang them on the tree. I put a drop of hot glue under the handle so the ribbon wouldn’t slide around. And voila! I present the finished product!

Finished bird feeder

I hope you enjoyed this snow day project!

Julie

 

Low-Fat Potato Soup Recipe

These cold winter days have had me on the search for some healthy alternatives to classic “comfort food” recipes. I did a search for potato soup and found this recipe.  It was a hit with the whole family, which hardly ever happens!  It was rich, creamy and very filling!  I doubled the recipe and it was enough for two dinners for my family of four.

The first time I made it, I did not have fat-free evaporated milk, so I used whole. I was curious if it would taste the same using  fat free.  The second time I made it, I used 2%  evaporated milk, which did not affect the taste at all. It still got a thumbs up from the family.  Next time, I will go for the fat free version.  The calorie count is the same, but why not save fat grams where you can!

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Hubby chose to garnish his with soy bacon and broccoli. (I’m sure he would have preferred real ham or bacon but that was all we had on hand!)

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Low Fat Potato Soup Recipe

From: Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 1-3/4 cups diced peeled potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 can (12 ounces) fat-free evaporated milk, divided
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Directions

  • In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes, onion, celery, broth and
  • pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-18
  • minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Combine cornstarch and 1/4 cup milk until smooth; stir into potato
  • mixture. Add the remaining milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for
  • 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Stir in cheese
  • until melted. Yield: 5 servings.
Nutritional Facts: 1 cup equals 178 calories, 2 g fat (0 saturated fat), 9 mg cholesterol, 274 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate, 0 fiber, 14 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 medium-fat meat.
© Taste of Home 2014
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family!
Stay warm!
~Blessings,
Jen

10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blahs!

The cold, ice and snow seem to have a strong grip on us this year here in Michigan and in many other parts of the country!  So if the weather is getting you down, I thought I would offer a helpful list of ways to distract yourself from the frigid temperatures and stir craziness of this winter.  So grab a hot cuppa something, browse this list and hopefully you will find something that inspires you and jolts you out of the Winter Blahs!

1. Haul out those old summer vacation photos, whether they be on your computer or in a photo book, and snuggle up on the sofa for a trip down memory lane!  Just looking at those photos of warm weather fun will bring a smile to your face and is a guaranteed feel good activity! Here is photo from my album of Little one enjoying the summer    4-H Fair!

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2. Get your “reggae” on!  Tune in to some tropical music on Pandora or another on-line music station, close your eyes and dream of the summer days that will eventually come around again, or get up and DANCE to it! Here is one of my personal favorites!

3.Hop on Pinterest and do a search for Spring or Summer Fashion!  It is like window shopping, without having to leave your house or spend any money!  Here are a couple of my favorites:

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4. Bring out the board games!  A good old fashioned game of Uno, Candy Land or Dominoes will distract you from the howling winds!

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5. If the temperature permits, bundle yourself up and go for a walk.  The still, soft quietness of a winter day can give us a feeling of calm and peace. (Picture by Jules)

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6. Follow that walk with a steaming hot cup of chocolate!  Go ahead and indulge, dark chocolate has been proven to offer some health benefits!  Here is a recipe for “Healthy Hot Chocolate”

7. Try to enjoy the TIME  these winter days give us.  Time with our families, to read a book, make a home cooked meal, watch a movie, do a craft, complete a project, or to just “be”.

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8.If you’ve looked at all of the summer vacation photos, move on to home movies!  The kids will love watching themselves when they were “little”.  Maybe you could even record some new movies!

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9. Doing something for someone else in need will ALWAYS make you feel better!

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10. Finally, make a list of five things you are thankful for!  The cold, winter days won’t be able to keep you down if your mind is on the blessings in your life!

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Hope you found something on the list to brighten your day!

~Blessings,

Jen

God’s Handiwork

I want to thank you for your patience with our sparse posts over the past week.  As Jules mentioned, our Mom is in the hospital with some heart issues and we have been very busy taking care of her.  I am so thankful I was able to be with my Mom this week and help her.  In tough times, as Jules said, we have to choose gratitude and count our blessings.  Although this has been a very difficult week, I am thankful that I got to spend so much time with my Mom and my brother and sister.  I am also thankful for the patient and kind nurses, medical professionals and staff that have taken such wonderful care of my Mom.

A week ago, after having a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with my family, I woke up to this scene:

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It was absolutely breathtaking and I could not stop staring at the beauty all around me.  I was so thankful to be surrounded by family, viewing God’s handiwork and just enjoying one of his special gifts to us!  It is the moments like this which we cherish and hold in our hearts, that help us get through the more challenging days.  God’s gifts to us might not always be as obvious as this beautiful winter wonderland, but they are are there, if we take the time to look closely.

~Blessings,

Jen