Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm taking a little break for the rest of the week, and wanted to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving!  I'll be working on Thanksgiving but will have Thanksgiving supper after I get done.
Hope you all have an enjoyable day!

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever."
1 Chronicles 16:34

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tip for Tuesday

Here's a tip I use when I have lots of cooking to do on a day, like days I make a bunch of freezer meals. 
To save time when you're going to have a long day in the kitchen, prepare your pasta the night before.
Just boil the pasta as usual, drain and rinse it.
When it's cool, place it in a ziploc bag and refrigerate.
The next day, when you're ready to use it, put it in a colander and rinse with hot water.  The pasta will look just like it did just after you boiled it and you can use it as you usually would.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


I've posted before about Swagbucks, but it's been awhile.  They sent me an offer to share so I thought it was time to tell you about it again.
Swagbucks is a website where you do searches (like Google), but along with the information you get, you may win Swagbucks. When you collect enough Swagbucks, you may trade them in for prizes or gift certificates. I've built up a balance of nearly $800 since January by using it. You can get most anything from Amazon; I buy a lot of Christmas gifts this way, but I'm also saving up for a nice camera.  I got my Kindle Fire and have purchased lots of household goods this way.
You can get gift certificates for lots of other stores, restaurants, paypal... if you don't want to use Amazon.

Here's what I do to get Swagbucks.

1) Install the Swagbuck toolbar on your computer. You get information from it, and a buck a day just for using it.
2) Here is what I do every morning to get 4 easy bucks.
a)Just using your computer with the toolbar gets you 1 for the toolbar.
b) on the top of the Swagbucks home page is a list of quick links. If you click the one that says answer you'll see a sub-heading that says daily poll.  Click on it and a poll will pop up.  Answer the daily question and you get another buck.
c) Next to the answer tab is one that says Discover.  Under it is a sub-heading called NOSO. Click on it, then go through it clicking "skip" and you'll get 2 bucks.
That is 4 easy bucks every day. In a month you can get 120 just by doing these things!
3) Do searches! I do a search every morning, again in the afternoon when I get home from work and another one later in the evening. You can search for anything - you never know what might win. Just a warning - if you oversearch you will receive the rules page and can't search for anywhere from 2-24 hours. I've never had that happen to me yet, but once I win I stop for awhile. When searching, if what you put in doesn't get you anything, click on images. I often get bucks that way.
4) Look at the home page. It has different offers on it.Sometimes it has videos that take only a few minutes to watch that will pay swagbucks. There are special offers that pay out swag bucks. Many of them aren't worth the hassle, but sometimes there are some easy ones that pay well.  You can also find special offers under the Discover tab.
5) The swagbuck people give out codes that give you bucks; usually between 4 and 12. These codes are given out usually daily on the weekdays and they may do one on the weekend. You can find out about these codes by installing a widget on your blog, following the Swagbucks blog or watching your swagbucks toolbar. The other thing you can do (which is my main way to find them) is to go to Facebook, and like the swagcodez page. They will then send out a message to your Facebook page when there is a code.
6) On the tab called Answer is a subheading called trusted surveys. If you qualify for a survey you can get quite a few bucks. They have also recently added a link called Swagbucks TV. If you click on it you will find all kinds of videos to watch. They are all short and you never know when you might get some bucks for watching. I find it's usually about every 3 videos that you win 5 bucks.
Another place you can watch videos is under the Discover tab, with the subheading Activities.

These are my main ways of gathering swagbucks. I do a lot in the evening if the tv is on. It really doesn't take too much time and it's worth it!

Here's one more offer to share with you. Right now the SB people are offering a bonus to people that sign on under a referral.  Anyone that signs up and earns 1500 SB's before January 1 will get a bonus of 500 swagbucks.    So - if you've been thinking about trying it, now is the time!  And, maybe next Christmas it'll be easier to buy those gifts.  :)
Go here to sign up.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


There's something about abandoned and run down buildings that appeal to me. I always wonder about the people who lived there or used the building, and I wonder what happened that caused them to be deserted and run down.  Someone sent me these pictures of abandoned buildings from all over.  I hope you find them as interesting as I did.

Desert sand fills an abandoned house in Namibia


This old church in Belgium is over 800 years old and was abandoned more than 40 years ago.


This apartment complex in Taiwan was abandoned when the construction company went bankrupt.  The buildings have sat empty for 15 years and the forest is growing up around them.


This is the City Methodist church in Gary, Indiana.  It was closed in the 1970's, but has remained because of frequent use by film crews.


This hotel in Columbia was abandoned in 1990.  There are plans now to turn it into a museum.


This abandoned mill in Italy, was built in the 900's.

This New York subway stop was closed in 1945, but has been preserved.


This was a large office building in France.  It has been abandoned for 20 years.


Chateau Miranda in Belgium was abandoned in 1991.


This is the ghost town of Bodie, CA.


This is the Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church in Detroit.  Look at those beautiful stained glass windows!


A tree grows over and abandoned temple in Cambodia.

This ghost town is in Montana

This old home in Barbados was destroyed by a fire.  It is now part of a National Park.

I would love to visit all of these!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cooking Thursday

One thing I like about the weather changing and the cooler weather is the change in the foods I cook. Our family loves soup, especially on a cold night. The recipe I'm sharing has a little twist from the normal chicken noodle soup. An added benefit is that it's made in the crock pot and it makes a big pot full.  For more recipes, visit Sandra at Diary of a SAHM.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

1 Rotisserie chicken
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 large carrots, chopped
1 1/2 cups water
32 ounce carton chicken stock
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
1 bag egg noodles

Place whole cooked chicken and any broth that's in the container with it.  Add the celery, carrots and water.  Cook on low for about 4 hours or until chicken is falling off the bone.  Remove chicken from crock pot and allow to cool.
Add chicken stock, cream of chicken soup, milk, onion, basil. thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper to ingredients in crockpot.
When chicken is cool, remove meat from the bone and shred it.  Stir in into the other ingredients in the crock pot and cook on low for another 4-5 hours.
About 45 minutes before serving, boil noodles as directed on package.  Drain and stir into soup.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Happy Girl!

This past weekend we had Alaina overnight again. When she gets here, she has a one track mind - she needs to find Oliver quickly! She's saying his name as we pull into the garage and hunting him down before her coat comes off.

Happy girl, the cat maybe not so much!

This is a toy our kids loved.  It's Discovery Toys Marble Works.  You can put all the pieces together however you want, and make a track for marbles to run down.  I kept it in a box in the basement and pulled it out for Alaina to try.  She loves it.

Isn't this a cute picture?  Bob was eating crackers and cheese and Alaina snuggled right next to him to share his snack.
Spending time with her is a reminder that the simple things in life, are often the sweetest!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Leaves and more leaves!

Although most of the trees in our area have lost their leaves, some are stubbornly holding on. Our oak leaves seem to wait every year till the snow is on the ground before they fall.  This year quite a few have already come down.

Bob's been doing a good job at keeping up with them, but we seem to get another pile every night.

 When you look at the leaves individually, instead of a big pile, you can appreciate the beauty in each one.   I'm thinking the same is true about people.  I need to remember to look for the unique characteristics of people instead of just lumping them together.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cats Stealing Dogs beds

My friend Betsy posted this on her blog recently and I had to share it with all of you. Those of us with cats can attest to how true it is!   I think you'll enjoy it.   :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cooking Thursday

I made a new recipe last week, that I saw on Facebook. Have you noticed all the people sharing recipes there lately? Anyway, since I found it there, I can't credit anyone because I don't know where it came from originally. When I saw the list of ingredients, I figured it had to be good, plus I knew Bob would like it because it has bacon in it! As a bonus, it makes one to put in the oven, and one goes in the freezer for later! For more recipes, visit Sandra at Diary of a SAHM.

Crazy Good Casserole

 4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite size chunks
6 strips of quality bacon – cooked and crumbled
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1 box (16 ounces) dried spiral pasta, cooked and drained
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix pasta, chicken, half of bacon, both cans of cream of chicken soup, 1 cup of Monterrey Jack cheese, garlic powder and salt and pepper.  Stir to mix well. Pour half into small casserole dish and half into a 7x11 foil pan. Top with crumbled bacon. Top with remaining Monterrey Jack cheese.  Place foil pan in freezer and bake other dish at 375 for about 20-25 minutes, just until cheese is melted and beginning to brown on top.  To prepare frozen dish, thaw completely and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

Tour of Historic homes

We had such fun Saturday afternoon!  The nearby villages of Lamont and Eastmanville (about 5 minutes from my house) had a tour of historic homes. The small villages of Lamont and Eastmanville are  next to each other on the Grand River.  At one time they were very busy places because of their location on the river.  Riverboats made regular stops, and there were hotels, factories and stores built.  Wealthy people built beautiful houses along the shore.  When the riverboat traffic stopped and the railroad traffic went to the north, the villages became quiet little communities.  However, some of the historic houses remain.
The Civic Association set up the tour of homes to raise money for a new community park.  There were 7 homes that participated and we saw all of them.  They asked that photos not be taken inside the homes, but I did take pictures of the exterior of each home to share with you.

The Menning home was built sometime between 1861-1863.  It was left vacant for a number of years and was quite deteriorated when the present owners purchased it in 1969.  They had major repairs to do, including lifting the foundation.  This house is beautiful on the outside, but we weren't too excited about the inside. It looked like they started fixing it up in the 70's and it was still stuck in that era.  However, the widows peak on the top was really neat to see out of.  There was a built in bench to sit and look out of the windows and you could see for miles.

This is the Stoel house.  It's not a fancy house like the last one, but a typical old farmhouse from 100 years ago.  The present owners bought it a year ago and are in the process of a complete gutting and renovation.  During the process of removing drywall, they found a hidden staircase!  The inside is looking beautiful and I have a feeling the outside will soon be a work in progress too.

This is the Katerberg home.  It was built in 1880.  The house has been completely remodeled and is beautiful inside.  There is a large dining room that has all windows on 2 sides and a beautiful view.

The man who owns this house is an artist, and this little building by the pond is his studio.

The Shrock home was built in 1838.  It was originally built on the riverbank and was used as a general store and ticket office for riverboat passage.  After the Civil War it was hauled by horses up the hill to it's present location to serve as a private residence.  The current owners have been restoring the house to reflect the time of it's construction and walking into it feels like stepping back in time.  It's filled with antiques and has the original wide planked wood floors.  Even the kitchen looks old, but we found that the old stove, was actually very modern, but disguised  to look like an antique!

This home was built in 1904 and was vacant for 6 years before the present owners bought it.  It has been completely renovated over the past 2 years.  I love the wrap around porch!

This home was built in 1851 and was originally the parsonage of the Congregational church.  It's been enlarged and beautifully renovated with much of the original woodwork remaining.

Look at the gorgeous view from this home.  The river doesn't show up in this picture but it's winding through those trees.


This is the back of the house.  You can see the addition, with the stonework that matches the original house.


This home was my favorite from the tour.  It was built in 1841 by Dr  and Mrs Timothy Eastman, who moved to  Michigan Territory from Boston.  They raised 9 children in this house and the village of Eastmanville got it's name from this family.  It's said that Abraham Lincoln slept in this home when he came down the river in 1856 campaigning for the presidency.
This home was also featured in Better Homes and Gardens in 1951.


The back of the house, showing all the windows that provide beautiful views of the river.


The view from the back yard.

Even the garage of this house is charming!

We thoroughly enjoyed this tour of homes.  It really showed the charm and interest that can be found in older homes.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sisters shopping day...

Every year my sisters and I look forward to sisters shopping day.  We choose one of the first Fridays in November and go out, armed with lists, deals and coupons to get as much Christmas shopping done as possible.  We go early so we don't have to deal with snow and slippery roads, plus it's just nice to get it done.
This past Friday was our day.  We shop all day and stay in a hotel at night.  The next morning we usually end up doing a little bit more before we head home.  I'm blessed to have 2 wonderful sisters and we always have fun when we're together.

Here's the result of a days shopping!  We were remembering what it used to be like when the kids were young and the boxes were bigger.  We would have both bed loaded up with stuff.  Now, the gifts are smaller in size, but not any cheaper...


We always get a yummy dessert to go, and enjoy it in the hotel while we rest our tired feet.  So much fun, and productive too!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Autumns Last Hurrah!

Our Fall colors are nearly done, but there are some really pretty spots out there. Here's a few I captured on camera.

Lots of green in this little spot yet.

I showed you our road last week, but had to share again because it's gotten even prettier!


I took this out of our living room window.  This beech tree is a beauty all year round, but I like this scene better than the black and white of Winter!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cooking Thursday

I tried out a new pumpkin dessert this weekend. It has a crunchy topping that is oh-so-good! I do have to warn you that the topping makes it a little difficult to eat, but my family loved it. For more recipes, visit Sandra at Diary of a SAHM.

Pumpkin Crunch

1 15 oz can Pumpkin Puree
1 10 oz can Evaporated Milk
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs (slightly beaten)
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup (2 sticks) butter melted
1 bag Heath toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9×13 baking pan lightly with baking spray
In a large bowl combine the pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs and pumpkin pie spice. Stir to combine.
Pour into prepared pan.
Sprinkle the entire box of cake mix on top, followed by the toffee bits, then pour melted butter over top.
Bake for 50 minutes, or until center is set and edges are lightly browned.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013