Friday, May 25, 2012

Hot Dog Roundup for Memorial Day

Chances are you'll be grilling out with friends or family this weekend as part of your Memorial Day celebration. I've put together a list of our favorite specialty hot dog's not just ketchup and mustard around here!

The Avocado and White Sauce Dog, featuring thick slices of avocado and our homemade sauce

The Texas Ranger, featuring grilled onions, bacon, and BBQ sauce

The Salsa Dog, featuring mango peach salsa

BBQ and Peppers, featuring sweet banana peppers and your favorite BBQ sauce

CornDogs, featuring a that carnival treat made at home

Pretzel Dogs, this is probably our favorite right now! homemade pretzel dough wrapped around your favorite dog and baked to perfection.

What's on your menu this Memorial Day? Give one of these dogs a try or let me know your favorite fixins!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Book Club Activity: Dinner with the Beavers

Last week's Turkish Delight activity was a big hit in our house. Did you make some too? Not only did I get some great help mixing and stirring,

they had a lot of enthusiasm at the end as we prepared to put in the food coloring and flavor.

Side note: that picture looks remarkably like the first time we made Turkish Delight, except for how much my kids have grown over the past year!

Here is a look at our finished product! We made lemon again, at the request of my daughter. I really want to try almond next though.

The texture was completely spot on this time. Practice makes perfect!

Now, on to this week's preschool book club activity.

We are having dinner with the Beavers, and on the menu: pan-fried fish, potatoes with butter, milk, and a marmalade roll and tea for dessert. We'll likely round our meal out with a veggie side and some fresh baked bread.

The chapters with the Beavers take up a good portion of the middle of this story, so if you are right on schedule reading along with us, you probably have gotten to this part recently! The description of the food for this meal is rich and flavorful. As an adult it made me hungry reading it, and I know my daughter will love the chance to "act out" something from the book. I'm also looking forward to the discussion over dinner; we'll probably grab the book and look back at the pictures of this dinner and talk about the plot twists of Aslan's introduction, Edmund's betrayal, and the big question of 'what do you think will happen next?'.

I hope you'll join us for a warm and homey fish dinner this week. I'm planning to make a marmalade roll using this recipe from the Pioneer Woman. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spring gardening

I was a little later starting on my garden this year than I had hoped, but it actually has worked out well! We have a very small raised bed garden that we made a few years ago. I've tried growing a number of different things, and tomatoes have worked the best every year. Which is perfect because both of our children would eat tomatoes all day long if we let them!

We have some nice rows of spinach seedlings appearing now. I really wanted to get these in the ground earlier because they do not do well in the heat. We'll see if the weather continues to be mild!

I also had a few friendly volunteer plants this year. These tomato plants look great! There are several others that have come up on their own all over my raised bed. Today we planted our tomato seedlings from inside, so we should have a garden bed full of tomato plants this year!

This lettuce came up on its own this year and last year. A great surprise! I went out and snipped several lettuce leaves at lunch the other day

and used them for this beautiful salad! Home grown lettuce topped with peppers, mushrooms, avocado, cheese, and cold (formerly roasted) chicken. Delicious!

Are you growing anything this year?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Book Club Activity: Turkish Delight

We are having a great time reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for our Preschool Book Club. The first activity I want to do along with the book is to make Turkish Delight. Edmond's first encounter with the White Witch the Turkish Delight is early in the story, so hopefully you have already gotten to that part!

We enjoyed making our own Turkish Delight several times last year. I love this recipe because it can be done in the microwave! And while there are many steps in the process, it is full of opportunities for kids to help.

This post has the full instructions for microwave Turkish Delight. I hope you'll make some this week along with us!

We are just one week in to this first book for the Preschool Book Club, so there is still time to get started and join us if you have not had the chance yet. There are 17 chapters in the book and still 25 days until our book club discussion. We have been moving right along, some days even reading two chapters. I hope you are enjoying as much as we are!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hot Dog Challenge: Pretzel Dog

Last summer we had a lot of fun with our "hot dog challenge" - going beyond ketchup and mustard to make speciality hot dogs at home. Recently I tried a new recipe that is quite possibly our favorite way to have hot dogs now....Pretzel dogs!

These tasty hot dogs are amazing! The pretzel is fantastic and takes hot dogs to a whole new level. Seriously, these are a must try. The pretzel dough is simple to make, and a quick baking soda bath before baking gives the outside a crispy pretzel finish. The original dough calls for beer, but I've also used water and both ways tasted great.

Mix the pretzel dough and let it rise for about an hour. The dough will make 8 very large pretzel dogs. The first time I made these I thought that the pretzel was actually a little too much compared to the hot dogs, so this last time I made some pretzel bite appetizers ahead of time while we waited for the dogs. I just decreased the bake time to 10 minutes.

After the dough has risen, put a large pot of water on to boil and add baking soda. Watch it carefully! Boil overs can happen quickly with baking soda in the water. 

Divide the remaining dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a log about 12 inches long. Starting at one end of the hot dog, wrap the dough around, covering the entire hot dog. Use your fingers to pinch the dough at each end to seal it.

Once all the hot dogs are wrapped and the water is boiling, place the hot dogs into the boiling water for about 30 seconds each. They will sink initially and then float to the surface. Depending on the size of your pot, you may be able to do 2-4 at a time. Here you see how large I roll out the dough, a wrapped dog, and a boiled dog (on the right).

 Remove from the water and let sit on a wire rack or cutting board for a minute to dry. Place on a stone or baking sheet (I use our pizza stone), brush with olive oil, and top with salt if desired. 

Bake for 15 minutes at which point the pretzel dogs will be golden brown and crispy on top.

Serve with ketchup and mustard! These are even fantastic reheated in the oven for lunch the next day.

Pretzel Dogs (via Karla's Veggie Noms)

For the dough:
1/2 c. warm water
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 c. warm beer (or water)
2 1/4 tsp. yeast
2 Tablespoons oil
4 1/2 c. flour

Put water, brown sugar, salt, beer (or additional water), and yeast in the mixing bowl. Gradually add flour and oil to make a smooth dough. Remove from bowl with floured hands and form dough into a ball. Place in a greased bowl and cover with a wet towel. Let it rise in a warm place for an hour.

When the dough has risen, boil a large pot of water, adding 1/2-2/3 cup baking soda. I just eyeballed it. While the water is boiling, cut the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a rope about 12 inches long. Starting at one end of the hot dog, wrap the dough around, covering the entire hot dog. Use your fingers to pinch the dough at each end to seal it.

Once all the hot dogs are wrapped and the water is boiling, place the hot dogs into the boiling water for about 30 seconds each. They will sink initially and then float to the surface. Depending on the size of your pot, you may be able to do 2-4 at a time.

Remove from the water and let sit on a wire rack or cutting board for a minute to dry. Place on a stone or baking sheet (I use our pizza stone), brush with olive oil, and top with salt if desired. Bake for 15 minutes at which point the pretzel dogs will be golden brown and crispy on top.

Serve with ketchup and mustard! Also great heated up the next day for lunch :-)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Beautiful, delicious, local strawberries!

I took my children strawberry picking this morning at Filasky's Produce in Middletown. It's a great little local farm and we've enjoyed picking strawberries there for several years.

We were the only ones picking this morning and there were TONS of strawberries, all beautiful and ripe.  I ran into the main building to have my container weighed before we started picking and a photographer from the Delaware News Journal asked if she could photograph us picking our strawberries.

The kids had a blast posing for the camera and picking the biggest strawberries that they could find. Aren't these amazing looking? And they taste even better!

If you are local, be sure to head out to Filasky's this spring. Their hours are great (7-7 every day except Sunday 7-6) and the strawberries are just $2.15/pound. And if you are looking for a u-pick farm in your area, be sure to check PickYourOwn.Org.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Preschool Book Club

I love to read. And I'm thrilled to be at a point in my parenting where I am introducing my kids to great books. Not just silly books or cute books or book with favorite cartoon characters, but books that they will remember when they are parents themselves.

Over the last several months I've been purposefully reading chapter books to Emma, who is 3. I compiled a short list of excellent books that I wanted to read to her and we've been making our way through them. We read a chapter or two, depending on the length, before her rest/nap time each day. It's our special time to snuggle together, and she usually gets some sort of little treat to eat while I read.

We've had so much fun with this reading time that I want to share it with you! We want to start a preschool book club that "meets" online. Any child can participate, but because we will be reading chapter books, children younger than 3 might not have the attention span yet. Don't be afraid to stretch your children though! They might surprise you :-)

Every month we'll pick a book and set a date to have it read by. Prior to the book club "meeting", I will post some questions to think about, as well as possibile activities or crafts to go along with the book. The book club meeting with be starter post here on Thrifty Living with our thoughts on the book, Emma's reactions and favorite parts, and activities we did.

For this to really work though, I need you to participate! That means comments on the post with your child's favorite parts of the book, anything special you did to go along with the story, and maybe a linky where you can blog about the story on your own, then link up on the post. One of the best parts about reading a book is talking about it with others! I love seeing what parts my daughter remembers; usually they are very different than what stuck out to me.

I will go ahead and pick the first book, but I'd love to have suggestions for future books books and even voting on the next month's book. I want to keep things "twaddle free", so my preference is usually for older, classic books, although there are still plenty of new books that are wonderful as well.

What do you think? 

If you are on board today, please leave a comment on this post letting me know! Or, if you would rather use email that is fine too. You can reach me at thriftylivingde(at)gmail(dot)com. If you want to participate but are not prepared to start this month, no problem. It would still be great to hear from you!

The specifics:
The book for May is The Lion, the Witch, and the Waredrobe by C.S. Lewis. The main reason I chose this one is because I just started reading it to Emma last week. While it is a little longer than some of the other books we've read recently, she is completely enthralled in the story, even asking to read a second chapter in one sitting.

If you are looking for a great copy to read to your child, I highly recommend the edition illustrated by Pauline Baynes. It is filled with lots of beautiful color illustrations which really help to bring the story to life.

The first meeting will be June 7th. Normally I will host the book club meeting at the end of each month, but because this book is a little longer and we are already a few days into May, I wanted to add some extra time. I hope this gives you enough time to read this great children's classic. If you read 6 pages every day, you'll finish in time!

I am so excited about this book club and I can't wait to hear what your children think about this first book!

Friday, May 4, 2012


It was a long week here in Delaware...I'm finally on the mend from a nasty cold, though still losing my voice by the end of each day. We're still nebulizing (I think I just made up that word!) my son 3 times a day, but he's much improved. And the weather has been dreary all week, which has just made things feel a little off.

But I've found that it is usually on these harder weeks that I am able to whittle things down to what is most important and be thankful for the things that I'm quick to overlook when life is easy. So here's a list, in no particular order, of a few things I'm thankful for.

I'm thankful I learned how to roast chicken. Talk about an easy and delicious meal. My husband wanted to order pizza yesterday with our free coupon and I turned him down (turned down free pizza) for this chicken. Love it, love it, love it. 

I'm thankful for Goodwill and new shorts from The Limited for $3.50. I always seem to find some great shorts around this time of year.

I'm thankful we finished up our foyer project last week. It was a ton of work but I love it and its making little things like getting our of the house so much easier.

I'm thankful for the Acme kids card. Good for a free bag of apples or a banana for each kid each trip. I love how smooth check out is now that they are so excited to have their bag of apples. Thank you, Acme!

I'm thankful for our public library. I requested about 15 children's books the other day and nearly all are ready for me to go pick up this afternoon. We just love the sweet librarians and a trip to the library is one of the fastest ways I know to turn my kids grumpy day around. And there's nothing I like better than the smell and the feel and the anticipation of cracking open a new book.

I'm thankful for tomato seedlings. My kids are so excited about our tomato plants and they want to check them literally every hour. It's been a blast seeing my children learn about plants and gardening each year.

I'm thankful for my memory. I recently memorized a verse in 1 Thessalonians that says "He who called you is faithful; he will surely do it." And when I'm up to my elbows in chicken juice and kiddos are going nuts because they want to see Daddy and I know I have laundry to fold and a poopy diaper to empty...I can grab those words floating through my brain...He is faithful, he will do it.

I'm thankful for milestones. My 3-year-old had a lightbulb phonics moment this week. She's learned to match letters with the sounds they make. I love the excitement in her eyes and how she laughs when I tell her she got it right.

I'm thankful for pizza. Friday is pizza night around here and I couldn't be happier to have dinner already planned each Friday night. And this family loves pizza :-)

I'm thankful for Star Wars day. Yeah, I'm a total Star Wars nerd and every year May 4th just makes me smile! May the fourth be with you, always.

What little thing are you thankful for this week?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

April Goals Update

This past month flew by for me. I'm happy to report some good progress on my goals for this year, but I'm also starting to get that burned out, disorganized feeling. I'm going to have some time to plan over the weekend and I'm really looking forward to that. Here's the down and dirty report on my goals from April.

Read 48 books. I'm right on goal with 16 books read through April! I slowed things down a bit this month after last month's reading frenzy, only reading Swiss Courier, Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball, and listening to The Two Towers. I also three books aloud to Emma, The Boxcar Children, and the first two Magic Tree House books.  I have plans for a fun read aloud project that I hope you'll join with me...more details coming soon!

Memorize 52 Scripture verses. My husband and I are working on these together using the Fighter Verses app. I am 3 behind where I wanted to be right now, and I also haven't done a lot of review, so some of the early verses are not very solid anymore.

Work toward becoming foster parents. This is the biggest change from the last month. We originally thought we would go right to an adoption, but are now planning to become foster parents and would still be open to adoption. We have the earliest paperwork and now are ready to take our first steps...exciting!

Organize and Declutter. Yay for lots of progress here! We finished our foyer project (though that baseboard still need to be nailed down) and absolutely love it. I also worked on decluttering a number of different things and did some large seasonal cleaning. We still need to put the garage back in order from this project so the car can have its home back!

Record highlights from each week. I had fallen quite behind on this last month and now am almost completely caught up! I still need to record write down some of what we did last week. Its great even just 4 months into the year to be able to look back and remember some of the fun little things that we did, things I would have likely forgotten if they were not written down. I'm seeing first hand that it's not all about the big milestones. The little things make life interesting. :-)

Here's a look back at my previous goal posts. Are you keeping track of monthly goals? I've really enjoyed this routine and I think that it is helping me to stay on purpose and see the big picture, even while I'm wading through the day to day details.

March goal update

February goal update
January goal update
Original goal post
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