Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Simplify Your Christmas Baking with 3 Easy Recipes

So you probably already know I don't like to cook, however, baking is different. I think it is because the end result is sooo good! I love sweets! I still like to keep things simple, especially when baking in the RV as there is not as much room for ingredients nor counter space.

These are a  some of my favorite treats I make at Christmas - Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies, Peanut Butter Balls and Lemon Bread! Yes they are all extremely easy!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

I really LOVE these cookies! There are 4 great reasons to make these cookies - Green, Chocolate, Mint, and So Easy! They start out with a sugar cookie mix and just add a few ingredients to make them special.

1 (1 pound, 1.4 ounce) pouch Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 teaspoon mint extract (or to taste)
6 drops green food color
1 egg
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix sugar cookie mix, butter, extract, food color and egg in a bowl until soft dough forms. (Do not over mix as it will make the cookies hard.) Stir in chocolate chips.  Use a small spoon to drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. (I use parchment paper)  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes in a regular oven OR 350 degrees on Low Mix in a Convection Oven for 9 minutes. They will be soft but will firm us when cooled. Enjoy!

The original recipe also calls for 1 cup creme de menthe baking chips. I have never used these as I like to use what I have on hand, (and who doesn't always have chocolate chips on hand, just in case you need a chocolate hit!) but I'm sure they would add great mint flavor! I think this would also be great using Almond flavoring, red food coloring, and chocolate or cherry chips or another combination. Any other suggestions for upgrading this recipe?

Peanut Butter Balls

Another very easy recipe - only 5 ingredients - and one of my kid's favorites!

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup rice krispies
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon butter
chocolate bark - approximately 6 squares

 Combine all of the ingredients, except the chocolate bark, until smooth, creamy and it doesn't stick together. You may need to add more powdered sugar to get to the right consistency. It shouldn't stick to your fingers so that you can roll it into balls.  Roll into small balls. Melt the chocolate bark in the microwave. Dip the peanut butter balls into the chocolate until well coated. Cool on wax paper until the bark is firm. 

As an update on this recipe, on a really lazy day I have simply pressed the peanut butter mixture into a 9 x 9 pan and topped with the melted chocolate. Instant gratification for your peanut butter and chocolate fix!

Lemon Bread

This one came from my mother-in-law and my kids always ask for it - I think it reminds them of Christmas at Grandma's House! It has a rich lemon flavor and also makes 2 loaves so you can have one and share one!

1 box Lemon Cake Mix
1 3 ounce box Instant Lemon Pudding
1 cup hot tap water
1/2 cup oil
4 eggs

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with a mixer. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Then turn oven to 325 degrees and bake for another 10-15 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
I don't have any upgrades to this recipe! It is so easy to make!

You can check out my Pinterest page for other great Christmas ideas and recipes! 

God Bless you all and have a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Our First Workamping Job!

Estes Park Here We Come!

In May of 2012 our first Workamper job took us to beautiful Estes Park, Colorado! I remember driving into town and seeing the view in the picture above - I think I actually screamed out loud!  I was just giddy and couldn't believe this was actually happening! We had visited Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park before and had always thought how amazing it would be to live there. So this would be the perfect spot to start our new adventure!
That is our white pickup in the middle of the picture and the camper is behind there.

Our job in Estes Park was at Rockmount Cottages cleaning cabins, office work and maintenance. Rockmount Cottages is just one mile from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park and just two miles from the village of Estes Park. There are 20 beautiful cabins in an amazing setting with lots of trees, the Big Thompson River running through it, and an abundance of wildlife roaming around. Very peaceful! Our camper was set on a cement pad with electricity, water and sewer near by. The laundry was also near by and was free. Woohoo! (Its the little things that matter!) Our camper was parked on the edge of the cottages with an open field beside us and a great view of many mountains including Long's Peak. The first thing you notice in this area is the wildlife. The elk, bears, hummingbirds, beavers, mountain lions, birds, all were amazing to watch and experience. We woke up to amazing views every day! 

Ken and Carol were the managers at that time and they welcomed us as if we were family! They lived on the property in a home that was attached to the office. They made sure we were well trained and often served us lunch and snacks during the work day. We started about 8 a.m. and usually were done with cleaning by about 2 or 3. Some days we worked longer in the office, doing maintenance projects, or relieved Ken and Carol when they got a well deserved day off. We met other staff and friends there - Sheri, Jim, Jon, Edgar, Ray, Shirley, Holly, Jason - and they were all equally welcoming and a lot of fun to hang out with! We made some great memories! It was easy to see why so many guests return there year after year! The grounds around the cabins were always very well kept and beautiful with hanging baskets of flowers and hummingbird feeders. As you can see sometimes the elk liked the flowers a little too much!

There is so much to see in the Rocky Mountain National Park! We obtained an Annual Park Pass so that we could go in as often as possible. Since it was only a mile away there were many days we jumped in the car after work and took a drive or a short hike. 

Be sure to drive up Trail Ridge Road - the Highway to the Sky! There are wildflowers, lakes, hiking trails, elk and other wildlife like you have never seen before! It has spectacular views that take you up to 12,183 feet - well above the tree line! It is hard to describe, or even see in the photos, exactly the look and the feel of the Park. You really need to experience it for yourself!

In the summer of 2013 the Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park experienced a devastating flood which took out some of the roads and hiking trails in RMNP and Estes Park. Check their websites for information on the roads and trails that are now open.

This is at the Alluvial Fan, which is no longer there because of the 2013 flood.

The town of Estes Park is also very charming and you will find everything you need to have a great stay whether it is for workamping or a short vacation. There are great restaurants of every kind, lodging for every budget, and lots of specialty shops. Also the beautiful downtown area features a Riverwalk which follows the river all along the back of many shops. There is always some type of concert, festival or cowboy sing along going on for great entertainment! One of the main "don't miss" events in Estes is the Rocky Mountain Opry! Great music and comedy for everyone!

The Elktones - we were able to hear Cowboy Brad sing on many occasions

It is such a blessing in our lives when our family is able to come visit a location we are working! It is always hard to be away from family for an extended period of time, but if you are lucky they will want to visit you in the great locations you are working. In Estes Park, we were very fortunate to be able to share our excitement of our workamping location with many family members.

My Mom - She has visited almost every location we have been so far!

We were in awe at God's Beautiful Creation!

There are so many great drives, hikes, and lakes to see in the area it is hard to mention them all here! At some point I will add more specific details of locations, etc. on the hikes and drives we took in this amazing setting. Feel free to COMMENT and ask questions if you like! This is a perfect place to have a workamping adventure! You need at least 6 months to experience it all and we will definitely go back there again to work someday.

And did I mention the Aspen trees in the fall?!? Ah-maz-ing!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Vintage! It may be for YOU if you want to have your own unique look and style!

~ Are you a person who wants to stand out from the trendy crowd and have your own look? Or do you want to have the latest fashion, just like everyone else?

~ Maybe YOU too are a little sentimental and love the look of the past! It makes you feel special!

~ Vintage can also connect you with your loved ones and preserve memories! 

~ It is a great way to go "green" by reusing those beautiful pieces!

~ Vintage items were quality made meant to last a long time and hold their value!

If this describes YOU, Vintage is probably a great style for you!  
It is always unique and will allow you to express your personality! Usually the definition of Vintage is that a piece is over 20 years old.  Antique jewelry is defined as being 100 years old. Other terminology related to vintage jewelry is "fine jewelry" and "costume jewelry." Fine jewelry means it was made with silver, gold, and platinum along with using fine pearls and gemstones. Costume jewelry is made of less precious metals, pearls and rhinestones. The cost in both categories can vary greatly depending on the materials used, the makers, age etc. The sky is the limit as to what type fits your taste - earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, brooches, shoe clips, sweater clips, scatter pins, hat pins, etc!

Etsy is a great place to shop for Vintage Jewelry, Clothing, and Household items, not only in my shop, Sentimental Sue, but also there are many other shops that also specialize in vintage jewelry, fashion and household. You are bound to find something for your own unique style and look. I would love to help you choose a special piece to express your flair and spirit!

Do you already have a Sentimental piece of jewelry from a family member like Grandma or Aunt Mary?!
Find a way to wear or display it proudly! Go ahead and experiment with your Vintage Jewelry! It can be worn many ways - attach it to your purse or bag, everyday wear on your jacket, or displayed prominently in your home as decor. See this great tutorial for preserving a Sentimental piece of Jewelry as Art at magnoliaandmaple.com.
See this great Tutorial for preserving a Sentimental piece of Jewelry


Another option is my line of Wine Bottle Decor that features vintage jewelry!  
If you have a piece you would like made into Wine Bottle Decor, I would love to help you with that! I can design and make it for you or contact me and I will help you through the details. It could even be a piece that is broken or in not such great shape, but has sentimental value and you don't want to get rid of it. Almost anything can be preserved and recycled into a new keepsake treasure!

Some of my personal most precious pieces of vintage jewelry came from my Mother-in-Law! She loved jewelry and whenever she and her husband went on a trip or for special occasions, he would buy her a piece of jewelry! How sweet! When she passed away all too soon from breast cancer, there was lots of great jewelry pieces to go through! It was great to hear the kids stories of speculation of where each piece may have come from! She was a great lady and will always be remembered. Sorry these are not for sale!

Do you have a piece of Sentimental Jewelry that is special to you? Why do you love to wear Vintage? 
I would love to hear from you!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Getting Started - Again!

It is obvious by the time lapse between my blog posts, I have been struggling with getting this blog off the ground! It is very difficult to take the first steps but today is the day!

I want my blog to be about all the things I LOVE!

~ Vintage everything including jewelry (See Links on the right for Sentimental Sue on Etsy and Pinterest for my real obsessions!)

~ Workamping - My husband and I are on the adventure of a lifetime traveling the US in our RV working great jobs in great places! This lifestyle has given us the freedom to live the life we choose.  I would like to share our experiences and provide helpful tips.

~ Travel - We have already been to some amazing places and would like to share with you photos and recommendations of our favorite, and those not so favorite, places.

~ Recipes - "My Man" is an amazing cook and likes to try new recipes! I am happy to oblige as his official taste tester! If it were up to me we would have yogurt, salads, ice cream, and wine every day! Sounds like a perfect diet right!

~ Faith, Family and Friends - Because they are the most important part of my life!

But how does that all fit together? How does it all make sense to someone reading my posts?

I had an Aha! Moment one day out on a hike at “The Wave" in Arizona. We were Workamping in Kanab, Utah and our "hiking mentors" made arrangements to take us on this great hike with them. This place is full of adventure, colorful rock formations, and inspiring views! It was there that I realized - all the great colors that were displayed and all of the energy I get from these hikes - were really the inspiration for my jewelry designs and my love of rocks, gems and beads! 

Yes, that is me "living on the edge!" Actually it wasn't dangerous at all, just having fun! (photo by our "hiking mentors") 

After visiting such an amazing creation as this, I can easily get inspired! I start digging through my “treasures” of vintage jewelry and beads eager to make my own creations using great colors and textures!  I will write more on the hike to The Wave later as it was truly an inspirational place to explore. It is in northern Arizona and if you ever get the chance I would highly recommend it!

So there you have it! That is what Sentimental Sue's Blog will be sharing with  you! Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about the posts.  I would love to connect with you!