Snow Day

Playing in the snow

Playing in the snow

We all got a snow day at my house today.  Fifteen inches of snow fell by 5 PM yesterday and they closed schools and many businesses in the area.  YEA for a snow day!

So MoJo and Hubby went outside yesterday and played in the snow.  MoJo thought she was hot-stuff because she was still wearing her jammies under her snow suit.  After playing in the snow they came inside for hot cocoa.

Although I love the convenience of the hot cocoa mix in a packet, I am trying to stay away from foods I cannot pronounce.  What the heck is “Dipotassium Phosphate” and why is it needed to make a hot chocolate?

Quite a few years ago, I found a home made hot cocoa mix in a magazine and have  slowly made adjustments to find something my entire family requests now.


Hot Cocoa Mix

Hot Cocoa Mix

Hot Cocoa Mix 

2 C. Dry Milk
2 C. Powdered Sugar
1 C. Unsweetened Cocoa
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg

Mix well and store in a pint size jar.
Mix about 1-2 Tablespoons with 1 Cup hot water (adjust to taste)

If you are a Dark Chocolate fan (like me) Hershey’s makes dark chocolate cocoa powder… which is awesome!

Apple- Palooza

Earlier this fall my family took a trip to the local apple orchard for a Saturday outing.  Growing up, going to the apple orchard and Cider Mill was one of my favorite day trips.  The sights and smells of apples, pies and cider… the experience screams FALL IS HERE!

MoJo with "The Perfect Pumpkin" and a lot of apples!!

MoJo with “The Perfect Pumpkin” and a lot of apples!!

MoJo had a great day picking out “the perfect pumpkin,” and having fresh apple cider and doughnuts.   My brother and his new wife had their reception at this same orchard in August, so MoJo had a lot of fun remembering what she did a couple of months ago.  One thing we did was pick apples… LOTS of apples.  A large reusable grocery bag full to bursting point with apples.

Now the fun begins… what to do with all those apples before they go bad.  We made apple pancakes, apple butter, applesauce and some awesome healthy granola bars.  Please excuse the links, but I want to make sure that I am giving props for some great recipes!

First the apple pancakes!  My mom used to make these for my brother, sister and I when we were kids.  I don’t know where she got the recipe, but they are YUMMY! (sorry, no picture)

Apple Cakes 

2 C. Apples, shredded
2 Eggs
2 C. Pancake Mix
1 C. Milk
1 tsp Cinnamon
3/4 C. Brown Sugar
1/2 C.  Oil

1) Wash apples and leave the skins on, then shred
2) Mix all the ingredients except the oil in a bowl
3) Heat an electric skillet to 325 degrees- or if you prefer, use an iron skillet (makes an awesome crunch to the outsides)
4) Fry for 2 minutes on each side
5) Drain on paper towels
6) Serve with butter & Syrup… or with applesauce

Next is the apple butter.  I have to preface, I am really picky about apple butter.  I don’t like the prepackaged stuff you can buy in the store.  To me it is like eating apple flavored gelatin.  I have tried a couple of homemade recipes, but this one is the best!  It is from “A Little Bit of This, That, and Everything.”  I mean who doesn’t think Maple Coconut Apple Butter doesn’t sound AWESOME!  I will tell you, it tastes okay on day one… on day two however it is incredible!  Follow the link to the recipe.

The apple bars we made was another Pinterest find through Healthy Happy Mama.  This one was loads of fun to make with MoJo.  We had fun squishing all the ingredients together.  Think of the fun with textures you can have with a kid when there is honey, oats, peanut butter, shredded apple and egg involved.  I am also making these this week for a presentation I am doing at work about healthy food options during the holidays.

Okay, so this leaves my new FAVORITE… homemade chunky applesauce!  I found a base recipe online, and fiddled and tweaked until I found one that my entire family is in love with.  So here is what I came up with, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do :-)

Chunky Applesauce

Chunky Applesauce

Chunky Crock-Pot Applesauce 

8-10 Apples, washed, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 C. Apple Cider
1 T. Cinnamon
1/2 T. Nutmeg

Place all ingredients in the crock-pot and turn on HIGH for about 3 hours.  You will start to smell the apply goodness and it is time to turn off the crock-pot.  Smash with a fork until you gain the desired texture.  We like a little extra chunky.  We have also found that we like this with a couple of green apples in the mix and about a tablespoon of honey.  I put it in mason jars and freeze it.  Who wouldn’t love fresh applesauce in the middle of spring??

Happy Random Smile Day!

It was a Wednesday morning in July.  The alarm went off far too early and I hit the snooze button enough times to feel like a true slacker that morning.  After getting MoJo off to summer day camp and myself to work, I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down at my desk.  I opened my email with the expectation of reading several emails that would do nothing but add to my crazy-long to-do list. *SIGH*

I opened outlook and much to my surprise, there were three emails from co-workers and friends that made my day!  These people took a moment out of their day to send me a line or two about how seeing me the day before had made them feel.  With a smile on my face, I sat back and sipped my coffee.

There and then I decided this was too good a feeling to keep all to myself.  I wrote back to all three with the subject line of “HRSD.”  Taking only a few minutes out of my day I wrote each person an email about what it is that makes each of them special, how they make me feel, and how I am a better person for having the opportunity to know them.  After that, my smiling feeling was stronger than it was at the beginning of the day!

So here is the line…
“Happy Random Smile Day is a holiday (that I just made up) that cannot be put on your calendar, since the day is random!  The only rule is, you have to pass a smile on to another person.”

The kicker of this day…  It was my husband and my 9th anniversary!

A couple of months went by, and HRSD fell to the back burner for me.  Work and life did what they always do and I forgot all about it.  I know, poor excuse!  Fast forward to September and I get an email in my inbox titled “HRSD.”  What in the world is HRSD and why is Matt emailing me with this!?!  I started reading, and laughed out loud sitting at my desk.

After this email, I made a commitment to share Happy Random Smile Day with someone at least once a week.  Sometimes I hear back from the person, sometimes I don’t.  Either way… Someone smiles!


Happy Random Smile Day

Happy Random Smile Day

Window Sill Fruit bowl

Window Sill Fruit Shelf

Thanks for the photo Mom!

At my house, the window sill over the kitchen sink holds a large number of coffee mugs.  Lewis always jokes saying that if we put one coffee mug in the dishwasher, two come out… that is where all the steam comes from.  My Mom on the other hand, has a beautiful and functional window still above her kitchen sink.

Mom always has some fresh fruits and veggies hanging out on her kitchen window sill (has for years).  It is a beautiful site to see.  Unfortunately, in the summer with the window open, we take the risk of being bombarded with food caught in the wind.

Dad had a great idea on how to make it work.  First he cut a piece of the grippy material used to line cupboards to fit the sill.  Then he cut a piece of trim board to the width of the window frame.  It is not secured into the frame, so that it can be taken out and the sill cleaned.  The result, function and beauty.


Shame on me!  It has been a full month since my last blog post.  I could use the excuse of it was the holidays and I like so many others have been busy.  But, it will be just that… an excuse.  Our little family did have a wonderful and very busy holiday season, but that is besides the point!

fall of 2008 I had just started my job and with in a meeting with a wonderful woman from the Eaton County ISD.  She told me all about how each of her children (who are now grown) have a little elf doll.  They would make little gifts for the elves and the elves would leave little gifts for the kids.  Every night these elves would give a report to Santa and then return to her home to hide in a new place…. sound familiar? Anyway, later that fall my family and I went to Bronners for a family outing.  There we found our elves that out daughter named Jingle and Bella.  Hay, she was almost 2 and really loved to sing Jingle Bells at the time.

For the first couple of years Jingle and Bella would bring small treats like fruit snacks and granola bars.  They would move around the house, but never did anything really mischievous.  This year, I discovered Pinterest… and oh the mischief those two elves have gotten into this year!


First they show off their debut hanging from a curtain rod


They painted MoJo a pretty tree to decorate with stickers


They crashed a bonfire to toast marshmallows.


On a ‘Smallow educed sugar buzz. They TP’ed the tree… and then hung themselves from the roll


Santa was not pleased with their behavior.  They wrote MoJo a thank you note for cleaning up their mess and had a day of ‘time-out’ over the TV


They ate the broken cookies and went fishing for goldfish.  Pencils and yarn make great home-made fishing poles!


They had a Tea Party with Merida, LaLa Loopsy and a fairy


They played castles and dragons with the Liquid Web Hero.


They had a ROCK CONCERT!


Made friends with our Angel Tree Topper


Then had to repel down the tree


It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s SUPER ELVES!
I’ll admit, this would have been so much better had a made little capes too!


Elf Jousting…


What elf can resist a snowball fight!  The snowballs are yarn pom-pom that I made with a fork.  Super cool!

2012-elf-angles   I am really glad I saved this one for last.  What a MESS!  I got all the flour off the table, but it took the vacuum and a quick tumble in the dryer (no heat) to get all the flour off Jingle and Bella.

I hope you enjoy Jingle and Bella’s 2012 adventures, and have a wonderful start to 2013!

White Elephant

Short post today :-)

I have a very large family!  There is a White Elephant Exchange at two of our family’s holiday parties.  Personally I am torn on how I feel about White Elephant.  Some people put a lot of work and thought into getting something cool to put in… while others just pick items out of the pile of ‘future garage sale items.’  Personally I am a cross between the two.  I will go to Goodwill and find something I can make into something cool!

One of the other family holiday parties does what we call the “Dollar Grab Bag.”  This is where everyone goes out and buys five $1 gifts to put into the bag.  Then we all pass the bag around and pick out one gift at a time until the bag is empty.  This is a hoot! We get all sorts of things in the bag, from gag gifts (Chocolate reindeer poop), food, calendars… really anything you can find at the dollar store.

Back to White Elephant.  By the time the family holiday parties come around there are a bunch of gifts under the tree without tags.  How am I to remember what each one is?  So, I created White elephant tags to hang from the bags.  You are welcome to print them out and use them on your gifts.

Happy Holidays!

Happy Thanksgiving 2012

My Hodge Podge Life has been up for one month as of tomorrow.  I have always enjoyed writing, it is a part of what makes me… me.  When i decided to start this, my husband asked me who I was writing this for.  The answer truly is, ‘for me.’  This is my way of expressing myself, after all isn’t that why most people blog?  Then it came time to actually post something.  There is all this anxiety and fear that comes with a first post.  ”What if no one reads my posts?  What if I get a bunch of negative comments?”  I have to say, I am very grateful for all of you!  I just learned how to check how many hits MHPL has received… and the numbers are astonishing (over 120 since the launch)!  I do write this blog to express myself.  However, it is a great feeling to know that others are reading and enjoying the site too! Thank you all!  

Okay, enough of the mushy stuff.  I hope all of you had an excellent Thanksgiving today.  My family and I went to my parent’s house to celebrate.  We had an excellent time and lots of yummy food.

The great thing about my family, is that they not only get my strange sense of humor… but they partake in it :-)  Lots of joking about past mess ups and reminiscing about anything and everything.  This got me thinking, I should tell about Thanksgiving Sandwich!

When my mom was a kid, her youngest brother (Uncle Jeff) started the tradition. He would gather a little bit of everything served on Thanksgiving and put it on a dinner roll.  When I was a kid, Mom taught us how to make Thanksgiving Sandwich, and now it is a tradition.  Thanksgiving is not complete until we have one of these!  So today, four generations are sitting around one table (okay, so it was two set end-to-end), passing dish after dish of wonderful food.  Little by little we stack mashed potatoes, dressing, turkey, cranberry relish, pistachio whip, green bean casserole  and whatever else you may find on the table and smush it onto a dinner roll.  Then lean over your plate, because it will drip out of the sides.

Now, with ten people sitting around the table you would think that I would have one picture of this insane yummy-ness… NOPE!  I thought about it on my last bite… figures.

Thank you again everyone!!

(UPDATE)  A great big THANK YOU to my sister’s partner who made Thanksgiving Sandwich last night and tool a picture for me!  Behold… Thanksgiving Sandwich, brought to you by Kik!Thanksgiving sandwich

Pocket Purse

My husband is rough on his clothes.  He was a truck driver for years, and when he moved onto his second career there were a lot of stained blue-jeans at our house.  I am big on the idea of ‘why throw away what you can use.’  Maybe that is why we have so much junk in my house… but that is another story for another time!

I cut the legs of the jeans into strips to make into a rag rug. It is coming along well, and I am hoping to finish it soon, but this is the story of what I have done with the pants pockets.

My daughter loves little purses. With a little imagination and a few materials, I made several super cute purses!

Leopard Print

Leopard Print Pocket Purse


Here is what you will need:

1 Back Pocket
Wide Ribbon (Enough for the strap and to go across the top twice)
Fabric Paint
Sewing Machine

Step 1-  Cut out the pocket leaving enough denim at the top of the pocket to reach the top of the ribbon.  I also keep about a 1/3″ of fabric around the edge of the pocket to fray.

Step 2- Measure the ribbon for the strap.  I just take the spool and measure it on my child to see where the pocket with sit when it is done.


Step 3- Measure one piece of ribbon to fit the width of the top of the pocket.  The second piece of ribbon should be long enough to cover the width of the top of the pocket and wrap around to cover the width of the ribbon for the strap.  i.e. if your ribbon is 1″ wide, the second piece should be approximately 2″ longer than the first.

**Do not forget to singe the ends of your ribbon to prevent fraying**

Step 4- Using strait pins, attach the ribbon binding to the pocket.  I arranged shorter piece on the back first.  Then placed the end of the straps.  Then the longer piece on the front.  The longer piece wraps around the side and onto the back.  Secure with strait pins

Step 5- Time to sew!  I use a small straight stitch to secure the ribbon on the top and bottom.  Then reinforce the strap by sewing a square and “X” where the strap is connected under the ribbon.

Step 6- Decorate the pocket.  This one I used a Leopard print I found on YouTube   Pick something that will go with the ribbon you chose.

Step 7- Fray the rest of the Denim and enjoy!!


Maybe I should mention that I have very little sewing knowledge.  I am sure that someone who has more experience than I do could make this more elaborate… maybe even easier than I have.

Either way, MoJo and I have had fun making these and giving them as gifts.  We hope that you enjoy them too!

Caramel Apples

When I was a child, my Grandma and Grandpa used to make caramel apples for me, my brother, my sister and my two cousins.  Caramel has always been one of my favorite flavors (I mean, what’s not to love?), but there is something about a caramel apple that makes me think of my grandma and fall and dressing up to go trick-or-treating with my family.

This year I decided to continue the tradition and make the sweet treats for my daughter, my god-daughter and nephews.  Since I am continuing/starting a tradition here, why not include MoJo.  I should mention that I have never made these before, so it was an adventure.

Before starting I talked with both Mom and Grandpa.  Why reinvent the wheel… right?   Mom said, “You MUST use Kraft caramel,” and Grandpa told me to, “add a splash of milk.”  AWESOME… how much is a splash again?  GOOGLE to the rescue!  Everything I found called for a double boiler or the microwave.  Sorry, but in my world, the microwave is for reheating food when I am too lazy to actually cook something… or for heating taco shells so they don’t crack.  Why use a double boiler, when we have an electric fondue pot! So after some searching, here is the recipe that I Hodge-Podged together.

Caramel Apples
2 bags KRAFT caramel
2 TBS Milk
6 Apples
6 craft sticks
Sprinkles or Walnuts (Optional)

  • Turn on the fondue pot- I used a setting between “Keep Warm” and 250
  • Unwrap all caramels and place in the fondue pot
  • Add milk
  • Stir to keep the caramel from burning
  • Push sticks into apples
  • When the caramel is smooth coat apples
  • Roll the caramel apples in sprinkles or nuts (if desired)

Now that I am done (almost), here is what I learned :-)

1) Always use a non-stick pot to heat your caramel.  When it cools you can just pick the caramel out of the pot.

2) Never trust a 5-year-old to unwrap candy without sampling (already knew this one… but it’s good to have reminders)

3) Put the apples on a non-stick cookie sheet and in the refrigerator to set.  If you use wax paper the paper sticks and you have to get creative to get it off the apples.  Here is where I am stuck right now… literally!

Happy Fall!