Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Quiz

I have had this quiz sent to me in years past... but I always think it is fun to see what every one's differences are at Christmas time... so here is

The Christmas Quiz!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? wrapping preferable with fabric ribbon!

2. Real tree or Artificial? artificial and prelit!!! What a great invention.

3. When do you put up the tree? Friday after Thanksgiving, Michael is usually at work and the kids and I get everything decorated and put the ornaments on that night as a family.

4. When do you take the tree down? Before New Years, this year it will be down Friday before New Years!

5. Do you like eggnog? LOVE IT. We have already gone through 3 gallons this season

6. Favorite gift received as a child? A Teddy Bear, that I asked for all year long.

7. Hardest person to buy for? This year it was my Mother in Law... but it is usually my dad

8. Easiest person to buy for? Jeanifer (my sister in law), it's like shopping for myself

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, but it is fisher price:)

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? What are Christmas Cards?

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I don't know if I can say....
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? I love the old animated cartoons, but I would probably have to say National Lampoons Christmas Vacation! So many One liners... hilarious!!

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? in October.

14.Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Christmas dinner (all of it) However, this year my mom is making fried chicken that I'm looking forward to!!

16. Lights on a tree? White, I love all white! On the house on the tree, everywhere

17. Favorite Christmas song? The Christmas Song, by Nat King Cole (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire) Its putting a smile on my face right now:)

18.Travel at Christmas or stay home? We just like to be with family. Santa usually comes to our house early, and then we travel on Christmas.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes, but I have to sing them.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star. Made of Cardboard and covered with aluminum foil, it is a strange Caldwell tradition that I love and completely embrace.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? We always do it before Christmas day, but we act like it is Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? No.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? We have a very country Christmas theme.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? I think I would have to say sweet potatoes with marshmallows, pecans, and brown sugar. It's like getting to eat dessert early:)

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?  For all of you you to have a very Merry Christmas!! Ahhhhh...

There you have it.... Copy this quiz and copy it onto your blog... Then leave a comment with your blog link so I can see your Quiz answers!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Menu Plan Monday w/ Sweet Treats for Christmas!

Hooray for Christmas!

Well, we are going to be  joining family quite a bit over the next couple of weeks, so menu's will be a little scarse... but heaping with treats!! I love this time of year! I would love to see some of your recipes too, so please leave a comment with your blog address and let me and everyone else in on the goods!!

Meatball sandwiches, apple slices, chips

Lasagnua, green beans, garlic toast

Wednesday: Christmas Service at BAF 6:00!!! You should join us!

Thursday- Sunday: Let the fun begin with family and friends!
Hooray for mom's cooking! My request of the season, Mom's Fried Chicken (her's is the best, Love you mom!!)

Sweet Treats great for travel!

Pecan Tasties (Pampered Chef)


  • 2 cups margarine
  • 4 (3 ounce) packages cream cheese
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the margarine and cream cheese until well blended. Beat in flour, 1 cup at a time, until the mixture forms a smooth dough. Roll into small balls, and press into the bottoms and sides of tart pans or mini muffin pans.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the pecans. Use a spoon to fill each of the crusts 2/3 full with the filling mixture.
  4. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes in the preheated oven, until shell is light brown, and the filling has puffed up. Cool, and carefully remove from pans.

Sour Cream Pound Cake
  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 (8 oz.) Sour cream
  • 1/3 c. oil
  • 1/3 c. water
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients together for 3 minutes.
  3. Bake in greased/floured Bundt pan for 45 minutes
Easy Pretzel Turtle Candy
  • 40 small mini pretzels
  • 40 chocolate covered caramel candies
  • 40 pecan halves


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Arrange the pretzels in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place one chocolate covered caramel candy on each pretzel.
  3. Bake for 4 minutes. While the candy is warm, press a pecan half onto each candy covered pretzel. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
** Can also be done with Hershey's Kisses or Huggs and press down with an M&M Candy

Crock Pot Wassil
(one of my favorites)
  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 2 cups gingerale
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 4 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup red hots candies
  1. Make a satchel with cheese cloth containing cloves and cinnamon.
  2. Pour cider, gingerale, and candy into a crockpot
  3. Cook on Low, as long as there is still wassil left... we usually continue to refill and keep it going all day Long!!  Stirring occasionally.
**This is so easy to take and make, or make ahead of time, pour into a travel jug, and just heat up a cup at a time!

Hope you all have a great week! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Easy Taco Soup

This is one super easy dinner that you can throw together in the morning... or better, put it all in your crock the night before, set it in the fridge and just set it in the cooker the next morning on low heat. At the end of the day come home to a wonderfully warm, ready to eat dinner your family will love!

Taco Soup
  • 2 lbs. Ground Beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cans  (8oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 2 cans (8 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans (8oz) pinto beans with jalapenos
  • 1 can yellow hominy (drained)
  • 1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing (dry)
  • 1 pkg. Taco Seasoning
  1. In a medium skillet, brown meat and drain.
  2. Add onion and cook until tender
  3. In a large pot  add remaining ingredients
  4. Add meat and onion mixture and bring to a simmer.
  5. Cover and Simmer for 30min. - 1 hour on stove top, stirring occasionally.
  6. OR cook all day on low heat in Crock pot.
Top with sour cream, cheese, and/or diced avocados.
Great served with Cornbread, Corn Chips, or Tortillas... and makes great leftovers!

Serves 8

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Simplicity in the Holiday!

As you all know, I am a girl of simplicity. I don't like to make a big fuss about much... but when it's worth it I put my all into it!
With the Christmas holiday knocking on the door, and shopping, parties, entertaining, projects, end of year reports.... the list goes on and on; with such a busy schedule and who has time for dinner with the family or traditions! Well, I DO and so DO YOU!! I know so many of us are so busy, but join me as I refuse to let my schedule run my family time and this season! We will make time for family dinners, soaking in precious smiles, and sharing the wonderful season of Christ's Birthday!

It just takes a little planning and some simplicity to pull it all together.  This year I challenge you to not get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season and instead slow things down and bit and enjoy it for what it is, A TIME OF REMEMBRANCE AND CELEBRATION OF OUR LORD'S BIRTH!

Here are a few tips to make this Christmas one for the books!

1. Specify the traditions that define your family.
Just because the Johnson family down the street does it and has fun doesn't mean you have to! Ask yourself the meaning behind your traditions? What does you family get out of it? Don't get caught up in having to do everything  because at that point usually nothing gets done well. Find the few that are meaningful to you and that you and yours really love and let the rest go, I promise you won't regret it!

2. Please, it is ok to say , "NO!!"
Of course it is good to help with the class parties, the block parties, the Christmas toy drives, and the food pantry. But maybe this year try to find one service that you want to dedicate your time to, and be "all in". Find a way to include your entire family and make it a two fer... I mean what's better than combining family time and service!

3. Stay organized!
Get your calendar out and plan out the days that you will spend serving and carrying out traditions. Consider when will you be out of town and what kind of meals will you be providing during the month. Make a menu for the rest of the season, and make sure to add any extra baking projects. With a schedule and a menu... grocery shopping, family nights, and the day to day business of life will go smoothly, keeping you within budget, and stress free and in the Christmas Spirit!

To get you started, here are some links to help you get organized!

OrgJunkie.com - Basic organization, Menu Planning, recipe ideas, and baking projects. Make sure to check out the download Tab for printable checklists and menu plans

Quick and Easy Dinner Recipes

Check out my Recipe Index  for quick easy meals and party dishes that everyone will love!

If you are missing a piece of Christmas, or you would like to refocus your family, I recommend reading these two books

 Redeeming the Season by Kim Wier and Pam McCune, for great ways to refocus your family on the true meaning of Christmas!

 The Power of a Positive Mom by Karol Ladd, encouragement and advice on keeping God's vision for families and motherhood... A great section on making memories and how to pick and choose your family traditions!

Wishing you all a fantastic December! and a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS filled with family, friends, fun, and most of all Christ's love!

A silent Hallelujah!

A friend of mine posted this on facebook. Don't you just love YOU TUBE! :)  Thought it was worth sharing! Hope you are all enjoying the Christmas Season!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Did I miss Menu Plan Monday?

Well the season is catching up to me!  I have started a few projects personally and as a family our schedule has just gotten a little bit busier lately... and well as I sat contemplating my "to-do" list this evening, I realized I don't have a clue what I need to get at the grocery store tomorrow, due to the fact that I have no menu plan... oh and the best thing is... I forgot it was even Monday!!

The day started out with backed up toilets, and tubs.... 1 Hour and $100.00 later the plumbers left and we have had free and clear lines since!  Thank you Lord for indoor plumbing!! Well, after that I seemed to be in survival mode for the rest of the day! A relief came when we left the house at 4:30 on our way to a Jr. High Boys BBall game,and then to a impromptu dinner with dear friends... FREE from Whataburger (12 days of Christmas was a great deal tonight). 

So after all this rambling all I have to say is here is my Menu Plan.... a little late. But Hey, now I at least have a grocery list for tomorrow!! :) 

Monday: Crusaders BBall Game
Whataburger...Free kids meals!!

Hot Pockets, Celery & PB, apple slices

Wednesday: Awana's Store Night
Stuffed Peppers and Salad

Thursday: Christmas Tradition Night

Friday: Family Movie Night

Saturday: Church, Cookies, & Santa Clause is Coming to Town!
B: Cereal
L: Tuna Melts, veggie dippers, chips
D: Chicken & Dumplings, Salad, Garlic Toast

Sunday: Caldwell Christmas Morning! :)
B: Cinnamon Rolls & Kolaches, Coffee and Egg Nog
L: Ham, Crackers, Cheese, Fruit... snacking all day, it's Christmas!!
D: Taco Soup w/ cheese, sour cream, cornbread

Well, That's it... pretty simple. But a plan none the less! :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Turkey Pocket Pies - Uses leftover feast!

Well, Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is on it's way... If your like me I have a ton of turkey left in my freezer and more to come with Christmas Day. It is my experience that leftovers are one of those things that people either love or hate and well, I love them!! I love to use leftovers to make new creations. So here is a easy fresh idea to use us the rest of that leftover feast staring that is looming in your freezer!

Turkey Pocket Pies

  • Refrigerated Pie Crust (1 for every 2 people)
  • Leftovers
    • turkey
    • dressing
    • mashed potatoes
    • cranberry sauce
    • Optional: Cheese
  1. Preheat oven according to crust package directions
  2. Carefully roll out crust and slice in half with a pizza cutter.
  3. Fill each half with your choice of leftovers, We use stuffing, Turkey, potatoes and cheese
  4. Fold the half over to make a triangle, and press firmly around the edges to seal.
  5. Transfer stuffed pocket pie to a baking sheet.
  6. With a fork prick crust 2-3 times to allow venting.
  7. Bake according to pie crust directions.
When they come out you are left with perfect individual pies for everyone in your family! These are great dipped in gravy, cranberry sauce, or just plain with chips! We love Turkey Pocket Pies and I know you will too!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Family Tradition Tuesday

One of our Caldwell Christmas Traditions!!

Santa Pics and Ornaments!!

Christmas Throwback: 2008
As I unpack our Christmas decorations I always anticipate unwrapping a certain photo album. It's not because it's beautiful or expensive... in fact it is covered in red felt and cost $3.00 at old navy. I look forward to this album for the treasures it holds inside. After just 3 weeks of dating Michael and I were at a lighted Christmas farm and took a Polaroid with the Big Man, Santa. Then the next year we did it again and again, and it just kinda stuck! It is fun to look at each year to see how our family has grown, in number and in size! And it is something the entire family looks forward to! I'm sure as the boys get older they will get tired of Santa, but maybe we can create funny themes to get them involved... we'll cross that bridge when we get there! 
Also, we all choose our ornaments for that year! I love that when Michael and I got married we both had a collection of ornaments from our childhood that were given to us, to decorate our first tree with sentiments and memories! So now with two grandmothers and a mother that insist on buying each brother an ornament they will start their tree with quite a collection!
On this special night we also drive in the car and look at Christmas Lights with Christmas music playing and singing like crazy!!
This is a pretty big night. One that we all look forward to each year!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Just so you know, I'm all about salad this week!! I think we will be eating it for B L and D! :) Hope you enjoy! Good luck with your menu plan!!

Monday: Basket Ball Game
Monkey Bread, Scrambled Eggs, and Fruit Salad

Grilled Cheese, chips, and LO fruit salad

Wednesday: Awana's
Potatoe Ham Bake, Green Beans, and Salad

Mac N Cheese, peas and carrots, and salad

Friday: Visit Santa and Christmas Ornament Shopping (Family Tradition)
AT MALL - Fun times:)

Saturday: Thirty One Party
Breakfast - Smoothies, or Cereal
Lunch - PB&J, popcorn, fruit slices
Dinner- Totinos Pizza (Boys Night)

Breakfast - Cereal
Lunch - Crockpot Carne Guisada, rice, salad, guacamole and chips
Dinner - Leftovers :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Corporate Responses to Product Complaint

Those of you who know me know I am not one to complain. When it comes to bad products, I always assuming the bad product I received was a fluke and it wasn't worth my time to sit down and tell a huge corporation how a little nobody house wife from Texas had a less then satisfactory experience with their product.  I mean what were they going to do anyways?

But one day, I had enough. I was having quite a streak of bad products, most of which I have used for years, and I wanted them to know they were at risk of losing a loyal customer.

Picture from: Lipton.com
I was not going to spend hard earned money on faulty products or products that did not deliver what they promised.  I was disgruntled! :) So I decided to start giving feed back. Here is my experience...
Product  #1: Lipton Tea
Problem: Over half of the tea bags in a box of tea busted while brewing.
I wrote a polite, but short and to the point email on their website.

The Response: Within 2 days I had a response in my inbox with an apology and permission to mail a packet to me. Of course I obliged and low and behold a week later I had 4 coupons for FREE full sized boxes of the tea. That is over $8.00 worth of products for 10 minutes of my time.

And Lipton now has a loyal customer!!

Product #2: Tide Liquid Detergent
Problem: With a change of packaging also came a change of label. The amount of oz./load had changed, yet the product stayed the same. Making the loads per bottle less but the amount of detergent purchased the same. I was getting cheated out of detergent.
This time I called the customer service number on the bottle.

The Response: After some explanation, and a very helpful CSR, named Joan. A suitable explanation was given on a formula change and a few complimentary coupons for Free detergent were mailed again for the inconvenience and confusion.

Product #3: Pet Mate (A producer for dog toys) Dura Bone
Problem: Our dog is a STRONG chewer. I spent $25.00 on a chew toy advertised extra durable for large dogs and strong chewers. Sally(our pooch) had the toy for no longer than 3 minutes before there was a hole in the toy and stuffing all over the floor. I was so frustrated!!
I promptly took a picture of the product and emailed again a polite yet to the point letter, stating my complaint about the lack of delivery in the product.

The Response: Slow, a little over 2 weeks later I received an email response, with an apology and promise to replace the toy. I again gave them my mailing information with a strong emphasis on our STRONG chewer, I was a little frustrated, b/c I had seen the durability of their toys and was not pleased. About 2 weeks later I received this...

Not only did they replace toys, they sent what I would estimate as over $40.00 worth of toys specifically for Strong chewers and a few treats to boot. It was a nice surprise and so far all but one has lasted. The pink and yellow ring was gone in about 4 minutes. Sally loves all her new toys and will remember this when buying more toys!

When it comes to products I will expect to get what I pay for. I have been very pleased  and a bit surprised with the responses from all three of these companies, and believe I am a valued customer.

 I am still not a complainer! I didn't write this to say complain so you can get free stuff, but to say you are an important voice! What you have to say and what you have experienced matters! The company can not fix what they do not know is broken. 

I know today I have focused on complaints, but I do believe positive feedback is good too! Just a note: I did follow up with each of these companies with an email about the excellent customer service I received and the satisfaction of the replacement products.

Please Share:
What do you do when faced with a faulty product or excellent product?
 What are some of your Customer Service experiences?