Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

I love a simple, easy and yummy dessert. I made 50+ chocolate chip cheesecake bars on Monday, and praise the Lord, they definitely are simple and easy! And oh, are they yummy! Here you go:

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars
1 small roll (16-18 oz) refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
1 8 oz. box cream cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla (opt)

Press half of the cookie dough into a lightly greased 8x8 pan. Beat cream cheese, egg, sugar and vanilla on medium speed until well-mixed and creamy. Spread cream cheese mixture over cookie dough. Crumble remaining cookie dough over the top of the cream cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool, cut into bars, and enjoy!

Notes: 2 cups of cookie dough can be substituted for the refrigerated cookie dough. You can use the large, family size cookie dough with the same amount of cream cheese, but the cookie to cream cheese ratio will be different. I add a little bit of vanilla to give richness to the cream cheese, but if you like a strong cream cheese flavor you can leave it out.

Five ingredients in this easy dessert. It Works for Me!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A week of baking

I love to bake, and this week I am going to get a baking workout!

As I type this, in my oven is the first pan of 30-50 chocolate chip cheesecake bars that I am making for a ladies event tonight. Also up this week--chicken salad sandwiches for a baby shower on Thursday, sausage balls and cream cheese mints for a (different) ladies event on Saturday, plus planning a cookout for my hubby's 30th birthday.

I also have a couple different sewing projects that I desperately need to finish this week (especially the one for the baby shower!), so we will see if I have enough time...

Just for fun, I will try to take pictures of my baking and post them as they are completed. I might even throw in a recipe or two if anyone is interested:-)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A one-car family

We recently became a one-car family. It is a temporary situation that has a really long story to go with it, but suffice it to say that we have now had just one vehicle for a week (our second vehicle is temporarily out of commission). It will probably be six to eight weeks before we go back to two vehicles. It is an inconvenience, but not a great one. Here are some things I am learning:

1. I don't need access to a vehicle everyday. I stay at home with the kids. Having to coordinate my schedule with my husband's makes me think twice before just 'running out' to do __________. I cannot just get in the van and go, and that is a good thing!
2. I am planning my week out much better than before. I have to coordinate with my husband when he will take the van, and when we will take him to work (praise the Lord we live very close to his office). I am grouping my errands together, and cutting out many unnecessary trips.
3. I don't spend as much money if I don't have access to a vehicle everyday. I am no longer tempted to just run to Target when I am bored or the kids are driving me crazy. I LOVE my Target store, but I cannot go in there without dropping $20 or more.
4. I am having to be creative around the house. When Girl gets stir crazy, I can't just say "Let's hop in the van and go somewhere". We are reading more books, and playing with more toys and crafts than before we had one vehicle.
5. We are enjoying our yard more. Of course, this coincides with spring really starting for us and the weather being gorgeous, but nothing takes away the stir-crazies (like that word? :-) like taking a walk outside, or running around in the yard.
6. I am inviting people over more. Instead of just saying "hey, let's get together sometime," I am trying to deliberately plan to have people over. I can't always go to them, but they can come to me. I can open my home and share hospitality with my friends more than I have in the past.

Now, there are certainly downsides to this one-car thing. And we don't plan for it to be a permanent change. I do hope that we will save some money through this experience, and that I will learn lessons that I can incorporate once we have two-cars again. So for right now, today, Earth Day, having just one vehicle Works for Me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Good things in beautiful packaging

Last week, I received this gorgeous package of fabric goodies from Catherine. We agreed to a simple fat quarter swap (4 FQs), but Catherine put together a stunning package that almost 'outshone' the fabric included. I love the thought she put into wrapping the spools of thread with paper and ribbon, and bundling fabric and all up with a bright bow. Catherine is extremely creative, though--you should check out her Etsy store, Made by Maisie. I love her dolls! Thanks for an amazing treat, Catherine!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fat quarter swap should be complete:-)

After being out of town for 10 days (!!!!!), I am finally back home. And doing laundry. Lots of it. Anyway, because of my time away from home, I don't have any sewing or cooking projects to show you. But I did come home to two small packages of fabric! My first fat quarter swap just finished--the mailing deadline was the second week of April--so everyone should have mailed their fabric by now. I will take a picture of what I have received once all the pieces come in. This is so much fun--I always loved getting mail as a child, and this has increased my eagerness for the mail to run:-) If you participated in my FQ swap, I would love to see pictures of the fabric you have received, or projects you make from the fabric. Please share, and thanks for playing along!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

May you and your families have a blessed Easter as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

As one of my favorite new hymns proclaims:
And we are raised with Him,
Death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered;
And we shall reign with Him,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!

Blessings to you all today!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Out of town

I am out of town visiting my mom and siblings for a few days. Consider this a brief blogging (and creativity) break, and I will see you again soon. Have a wonderful Easter week!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cute little business card holder

I found this free pattern on Amy Butler's website and was just waiting for my business cards to come in before I made one:-) It takes just scraps of fabric, and it turned out nicely.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My small fundraising attempt

Though I am not ready for an Etsy store, on occasion I do sell the nursing covers, diaper clutches and other items that I make. A handmade gift is a special touch, and if I can help someone give a handmade gift, then all the better!

From now until April 24, anything that I sell will be a double gift--it will be a gift for someone special, AND all proceeds will go to benefit Pregnancy Support Services and the 2009 Walk for Life. I intend to cover the cost of my fabric and then all the rest will go into my "fundraising pot." I have posted a Flickr badge on my sidebar that shows several items I have already made as well as fabric swatches. Though I don't often have time to make things unless someone has ordered it (having 2 kids under 3 will do that), I hope to have some additions to my stash over the next two weeks.

If you are a new mom, or know a new mom who would be interested in a nursing cover, diaper clutch, or baby sling, please look through what I have and let me know what grabs your interest! The ministry of Pregnancy Support Services helps women and families dealing with crisis pregnancies and gives precious unborn children a chance for life. This cause is dear to my heart and I pray you will support me by buying some handmade items, spreading the word, or even giving generously yourself.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Raising money for a good cause

Do you give to ministries and charities?

Later this month I am participating in the 2009 Walk for Life to raise money and awareness for my local Pregnancy Support Services. This wonderful ministry provides support, counseling and material needs for women and families experiencing crisis pregnancies. Each person walking commits to raise a set amount, but I really want to go above and beyond that amount!

Here are some things I am doing to meet my personal goal:
*collecting all of my loose change (and spare dollars when I can) into a jar specifically for Walk for Life
*holding a yard sale with all proceeds to benefit the Walk
*emailing friends and family
*posting about it on my blog :-) and Facebook
*donating proceeds of anything I sell in the month of April to the Walk for Life fund--more coming on that soon!

In this tough economic time, charities and ministries are suffering because charitable giving is down. Though I am participating in this special event at my local favorite charity, my "regular" charitable giving is not as high as I would like. Works for Me Wednesday is in reverse this week--we pose a question that we want people to answer. So here is my question--I don't have a problem trying to raise money for a special cause (like Walk for Life), but how do I find money for regular charitable gifts? When the wallet is tight, where do you find the money to give generously? Are you giving to churches, charities, and ministries? I need ideas for how to budget for charitable giving during budget crunching times--and if you have any great ideas for raising money for the Walk for Life, I would love to hear that as well!