Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Humpday Help - A Super Easy Meal

Being a busy mom of three boys it's hard to find quick meals they will actually eat. Here's one they love!

Stovetop Ziti
1 lb ziti pasta
1 12-oz bag broccoli florets

1 26oz jar marinara sauce
1 c ricotta cheese
4 c shredded or diced mozzarella cheese
1/3 c chopped fresh parsley (I keep some in the freezer)
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta in a large pot according to directions on the package. Add the broccoli 4 minutes before pasta is done.
2. Mix marinara sauce and about 1/2 the ricotta in a large saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat.
3. Drain pasta and broccoli; return to pot. Add sauce mixture; toss to mix and coat. Immediately add mozzarella and 1/2 the parsley and Parmesan. Stir until mozzarella melts.
4. Transfer to serving bowl; sprinkle with remaining parsley and Parmesan. Top with dollops of remaining ricotta.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cleaning Day - Get Ready for Unexpected Company

Tis the season for friends to drop in. No need to call in the pro's and don't feel that you have to clean your house on a daily basis. Here's a few simply tips to "fool" people.

Invest in the following items: Foaming bathroom cleaner, scented (lavender or lemon) floor cleaner (check your local dollar store), scented (lemon or orange) wood cleaner such as Pledge.

In the bathroom closest to where guest would be, daily spray the foaming bathroom cleaner into the sink and toilet. Wipe the sink dry and wipe the edge of the toilet bowl. Do not flush... let the remaining foam remain.

Using the scented Pledge dust the tables in the room where guest would be. Once a week is fine... but if you know of some coming and you want that just cleaned smell... Pledge the largest table in the room.

Pour a little scented cleaner with warm water in a spray bottle. With a soft damp cloth wipe TV screen, lamps and door knobs. Scented Windex can do the trick too, and this is a job you can give to a child!

A good scented candle such as from Yankee Candle Company is an added plus to any room to created a welcoming fragrance.

This little routine should not take more than 20 minutes. Don't dally... just make it smell clean!

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Last Stop of the Painted Soul Book Tour

Local Romance Writer Mary Quast Featured at Library

The author will introduce herself and talk about her book. Copies of her latest novel will be available for purchase and signing.

The original artwork she created for the cover of Painted Soul will be on display.
Win a Painted Soul Diva Gift Basket!

Painted Soul, the debut novel of Quast’s Soul Series is edgy and fresh. A contemporary romance with a twist, Painted Soul is a story that takes the reader on a wonderful ride in an artist’s life, through the streets of London, and into the shadows of the underground.

Thursday, Dec. 11
Montrose Jennings Library
241 Feher Drive
Montrose, MI
(810) 639-6388

“Quast’s emotionally charged and intensely romantic novel is so well researched and so exquisitely told. I will be looking for more of Mary’s work; that is for sure!” -Karen Mayes, contemporary romance reviewer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Real 12 Days of Christmas

People often think of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' as the days preceding the festival. Actually, Christmas is a season of the Christian Year that lasts for the twelve days beginning December 25 and lasting until January 6 - the Day of Epiphany, when the church celebrates the revelation of Christ as the Light of the world and recalls the journey of the magi.

Concerning the popular song 'the Twelve Days of Christmas,' a couple of years ago, I learned the story behind the text from an article in a church newsletter.

From 1558 until 1829 Roman Catholics in England were not allowed to practice their faith openly. During that era someone wrote 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' as a kind of secret catechism that could be sung in public without the risk of persecution. The song has two levels of interpretation: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of the church. Each element in the carol is a code word for a reality of our faith.

The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ. The pear tree is a reminder of the cross.

The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments. Two great gifts which each Christian receives.

Three French hens stand for faith, hope and love.

The four calling birds are the four Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John, which speak of Jesus.

The five gold rings recall the first five books of the Old Testament or the Torah. These books were treated by the Jews with great reverence and considered worth more than gold (Psalm 19:10).

The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation. Eggs are an almost universal symbol of new life. The laying geese God spoke the word and brought forth life.

Seven swans a-swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:6-8): prophesy, service, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership, mercy.
The eight maids a-milking are The eight Beatitudes of Jesus (Matthew 5:3-10) nourish us as milk does.

Nine ladies dancing? The nine fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23): love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments. Lords were men who had authority in people's lives. (Exodus 20:3-17).

Eleven pipers piping stand for the eleven faithful disciples.

Twelve drummers drumming symbolize the 12 points of belief in the Apostles' Creed."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New SpringWidget

Visit the Widget Gallery

Humpday Help - Cook a Crock of Spice Cider

1/2 gallon apple cider
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
1/2 c applejack or bourbon

Combine all ingredients except the applejack/bourbon in a crock pot and simmer. Add the applejack when you pour cider into mugs.

The smell will greet all guests and make your home cozy. Or just simply enjoy this beverage during a day playing in the snow!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cleanning Day - Make that list, check it twice

Now that Thanksgiving is over and the turkey is gone, the focus is turned towards preparing for Christmas. You might feel a bit pressured as you organize, clean, recycle, plan for parties, shop for gifts and clothes.

Here's a simple little holiday checklist for the first week of December that might help.

* Arrange for babysitters.
* Compile holiday tunes. Make your own mix CDs.
* Stock up on frozen meals. Great for those times when you're too busy.
* Buy toilet paper. Running out during the season is a real bummer.
* Inventory your tableware. It's hard to serve desert to 8 guests when you only have enough forks for 6. Look in toyboxes for those missing untensils.
* Create guest baskets. Arrange sample sized shampoo & lotions with small towels in a little basket. These are great for guests to use and take home!
* Bake goodies with a long shelf life or can be frozen.
* Charge digital cameras and camcorders; purchase new batteries, disks, cards, tapes early.

And do be afraid to ask for help... especially if he has lots of hunkiness!