Catching Up

I have not blogged here in a while and I thought maybe that we should catch up a little:

CJ Blog Collage

Thanks for stopping by – I plan to start all my natural posts and my Homeschooling High School posts, and recipes and household tips again soon. I am working on a new free printable “Daily Organizer” for you too, so keep in touch!

 Merit K

Secret Family Recipes~ Great Grandma Marcott’s Butter Cookies

All families have their secrets!

This is a cookie recipe that has been in our family for generations. It has become a family tradition to mix them up, roll them out, cut them into shapes, and then decorate them with frosting, for just about every occasion. My mom’s mom made them. My mom made them with my brother and me, and I make them with my kids.


Christmas Cookies!

Over the years, we have collected cookie cutters for all the seasons! My kids love to add sugar, sprinkles or just use colored frosting to decorate these tasty treats.

The rule is that once they are baked, if they break while you are taking them off the cookie tray, then you get to eat them!

Fall Cookies- “Supernatural” theme: Cass, Bobby, Sam and Dean!

Great Grandma Marcott’s Butter Cookie Recipe:

  • 1 Cup Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of pure Lemon or Almond extract
  • 1/2 Cup of organic sugar
  • 3 Cups of unbleached organic flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Aluminum Free Baking Powder
  • 1 Egg

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add egg. Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and then add to the butter, sugar and egg mixture. Add the extract.

Roll the cookie dough thin and cut out shapes with cutters. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10-13 minutes- adjust according to your oven and the thickness of your cookies. Frost with a buttercream icing and decorate!

Baking tip: these cookies are best if you roll them out very thin. They also break more easily, so you get to eat more of them if you follow our family “rule”!

Just Say “No” to Boring White Desserts!

Pure and Natural Food Colors:

I just couldn’t wait to share about this great deal from “Color Garden” natural food colors! It has always been my  “mission” to avoid foods with artificial colors. It is a challenge for our family when we are “out” somewhere or when I don’t have time to bake. I mostly purchase, and use 1462893_337777536393315_6056663079004285089_nwhole foods rather than processed goods, so buying food coloring at the store for my home baking was a huge guilt trip, until I recently discovered that there are companies making natural food dyes!

Now my fall baking, and even one of our favorite family holiday traditions, “Grandma Marcott’s Butter Cookie”,  recipe can be frosted with colors that are a lot healthier!

Right now, “Color Garden” has a special offer. Just use the code, “SPOOKY” when you purchase at their online store and you will receive 25% off your order! This code is valid until 9/30/14!

You can follow Color Garden on facebook for more special deals and ideas!

No more boring white desserts!

Check back here, because I am going to link up some other recipes: making your own organic confectioner’s sugar, a homemade frosting recipe and my great grandma’s butter cookie recipe- all coming soon!

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“Better Than a Box Mix” Brownies

No box mix

We have a secret at our house-it is our brownie recipe. OK, now the secret is out!  These brownies are easy to make and taste better than any box mix!

They are healthier too, because you can use organic cocoa, whole grain or unbleached organic flour, natural sugar or your favorite alternative sweetener and avoid all the artificial ingredients you find in that box.

A couple of ingredients you will avoid by not buying the “box” are BHT (a preservative) and “propylene glycol” which,  although it is generally recognized as safe, and is a good alternative in your anti-freeze because it is less likely to injure your dog if they drink it, is not really something I personally like seeing as an ingredient in my food.

Try our “secret” family recipe below and let us know what you think:

“Better Than a Box Mix” Brownies

1 cup sugar
½ cup butter softened (you can substitute an equal amount of oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread in greased square pan 8×8 inches.

Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes; cool. Frost if desired (we never frost ours- less sugar and still really chewy and good!) Makes around 16 brownies (2-inch squares).

You can double the recipe and use a 9X13 inch rectangular pan- it doesn’t change the baking time. Add ½-1 cup chopped walnuts if you like your brownies with nuts.

Vegan friends- If you change out the butter for oil and leave out the eggs (substitute arrowroot or other vegan egg substitute) they will still taste good, but of course, your texture will be different.

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Homeschool Curriculum – Free

Homeschool Curriculum Free – You Pay Only the Shipping!


A new group has been set up by my friend Deana,  of The Frugal Homeschooling Mom, and some other ladies. They have a group on Facebook, as well as a website, Homeschool Curriculum Free for Shipping.

This group is set up to allow people to donate their used curriculum to other homeschooling families who can use the items. Donors list their items on the Facebook “wall” and other home educators can search for items they need and pay just the cost of shipping!

If you are on Facebook, you will want to join them here: Homeschool Curriculum Free for Shipping .

The website has a lot of great information about how donations work and you can read about how many have already been blessed by this fairly new community which is based on the “pay it forward” philosophy!

This group provides such a great opportunity for Homeschoolers to support one another while cleaning off their shelves at the beginning of a new school year !

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Important: August Sales Tax Holiday Repealed

I noticed recently that our state legislatures managed to find time to repeal this law that allowed hardworking parents and students a 4.75 % sales tax break for one weekend every year -just as students are preparing to return to school.

I am disgusted that they wasted no time in changing this law that helped families in our state. They hurried to protect their tax money, while so many other issues are just left on the table or ignored.

This tax holiday was only on educational items, basic technology, and clothing necessities – not on luxury items, so those most affected will be parents and students who truly valued saving that small amount, including the 6% of NC families that are out of work completely.

Workers in North Carolina already earn an average salary that ranks toward the bottom half of our nation. In fact, their wages are, on average, 8.8 percent lower than the national average of $45,230 per year.

All this while we continue to see large state and local tax breaks for corporations. You can go here to see the number of tax incentives available to businesses in our state.

I am aware of very few state tax breaks or incentives that are available to individual workers and their families and now there is one less!

Current Events Commentary

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Effective July 1, 2014, N.C. Gen Stat. § 105-164.13C, which provides a sales and use tax
holiday for the first weekend in August, is repealed per Session Law 2013-316. The
following items of tangible personal property if sold between 12:01 A.M. on the first Friday of August and 11:59 P.M. the following Sunday are no longer exempt from sales and use tax under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 105-164.13C…

Tofu Italian Meatballs


Tofu is a great source of protein, calcium and iron.  It picks up the flavors of the foods you cook it with, so you can use a firm tofu in a stir fry or a creamy tofu in a dessert recipe and both taste great. This recipe calls for a firm tofu.

By the way, this recipe was my grandmother’s -yes, I am proud to be third generation “crunchy”!

As you can see, I still have her original recipe card which was typed up on a manual typewriter way back in the 70’s (when else!). I have modified it just a bit- I lowered the salt content and added oregano, because I like mine flavorful and then I get to use the herbs I grow and dry:

Tofu Italian “Meatballs”

12 oz. tofu (Medium to Firm)

1/4 Cup finely ground walnuts

1/2 onion minced

1/4 – 1/3 Cup bread crumbs

1 egg slightly beaten

3 Tablespoons minced parsley (you can use dried or fresh)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon oregano

Mix the above ingredients well, and shape the mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls. Fry in a healthy oil until they are cooked and well browned. Place in a pan and cover them with pasta sauce. Cook “meatballs” on low heat for at least 30 minutes. For best flavor allow them to simmer in sauce for at least 4-6 hours.

The “meatballs” sometimes crumble, but this is a very tasty recipe and good for the crock pot. Just mix them up, brown them and leave them in the crock-pot with the sauce. You can easily double or even triple the recipe for larger families.

You can modify the recipe easily to make “meatballs” in a sweet/sour sauce to serve with rice and veggies by changing the spices you use. Add a little curry to make an Indian dish or skip the herbs and simmer them in a barbecue sauce.

Vegan Friends: I have not tried to make this without the eggs- you might try adding a little arrowroot starch to use as a binder instead of the eggs. Let me know how you do with this if you get a chance!