Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Crumbly Top Apple Pie --- Guest Post by Angie

Welcome back to another day of Christmas Sweets and Treats Week. My friend Angi from A Return to Simplicity is here to share with you her recipe for Crumbly Top Apple Pie.


Ever take a bite of overly syrupy apple pie, sandwiched between two soggy crusts?

I have. More times than I care to admit.

Yet, there is something so inherently comforting about a slice of warm apple pie. (Which is probably why I kept sampling different apple pies, despite the sub-standard texture and taste.)

So why not revolutionize the apple pie, and replace the top crust with a lovely crumble instead?

This solves the soggy crust issue, dries up a bit of the over-syrupy consistency, and adds an amazing sweet and salty crunch to the top of the pie!

To make the pie, you will need:
  • Unbaked Pie Crust
  • 5-7 apples (Needs to equal 6-8 cups of sliced apples
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

For the crumbly top:
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tablespoons of sucanat (completely raw, unrefined sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons butter

Roll out your pie crust, and arrange in a pie pan.


Slice your apples, and mix with the remaining pie ingredients.

Stir until the apples are coated, and pour into the un-baked pie shell.

To make the crumbly top, begin by melting the 2 Tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan.
Add the rest of the crumble ingredients to the melted butter, and stir thoroughly.

Sprinkle the crumble on top of the pie.
Resist the temptation to pick off and consume multiple apple slices covered in crumble! :)
Bake the pie at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, then at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

The crumbly top should brown and crisp up like this!  
Allow the pie to cool for 15-20 minutes before slicing.

This is crumbly top apple pie is amazing eaten when it's hot, warm, or cold.
Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or a dollop of whipped cream!

Now you can enjoy crumbly top apple pie this Christmas, and rest in the knowledge that only a minimal amount of unrefined sweeteners are included.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Funfetti Cake Batter Fudge ---- Sweets and Treats for Christmas Week

Happy Monday. We only have a little more than a week left until Christmas and I thought it is the perfect time to start sharing our sweets and treats we love to bake around the holidays. 

Sunny Simple Life

My friend Elaine from Sunny Simple Life is sharing with us today her recipe for Funfetti Cake Batter Fudge. 

I'm pretty sure this is going to be on my table sometime this week.

Enjoy the sweets.

 Here's Elaine....

If you love funfetti cakes and cupcakes, you are going to love this fudge. Festive for the holidays too with all the colored sprinkles. This fudge is a huge hit with the kids too.

Funfetti Cake Batter Fudge:

 1 box of Funfetti Cake Batter
 1 1/2 cup powered sugar
 1/2 cup butter cut into pieces
 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
 3 Tbsp. milk
 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
 Extra colored sprinkles

 Put the first five ingredients in a large microwavable bowl. Microwave for two minutes. Now stir to mix and add the white chips. Stir them in. If the batter is dry like cookie dough go ahead and add a tinch of milk. Should be like slightly wet cookie dough. Spread into an 8x8 pan lined with waxed paper or buttered foil. Press in and top with sprinkles and press them in just enough to set in batter. Refrigerate for at least three hours. Lift from the pan and cut to slices. If it doesn't want to come out of pan then set the bottom of the pan in about 1/2 inch of warm water for a few minutes and then it will come right out.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Little Less than 2 Weeks Till Christmas It's Time for Simple Saturdays Blog Hop

Join us for ideas on living a Simple Lifestyle and being Self Sufficient!

simple saturdays

Welcome to Simple Saturdays Blog Hop!

This blog hop is brought to you by a group of wonderful co-hosts committed to the Simple way of Life and learning to be Self Reliant in all they do.  Simple Saturdays Blog Hop is a way for each of us to share the various ways we are learning to be more Self Reliant in our homes and on our land. This is all about building community, learning new skills and growing more self-sufficient!
Please join us, submit YOUR Self-Reliant post (maybe even 2 or 3), browse around, visit a site or two and learn some new Simple tips or Self Reliant How'To's!

 This Blog Hop is being hosted by:


 What Can I Post?

Anything and everything related to a more Simple way of life OR Self Reliance....
This may include:
Homesteading, Prepping, Gardening, Cooking/recipes/food, Livestock of all varieties, Off-grid, Natural Living, Wellness/wholeness and Healthcare, Herbal, DIY & MYO!
 Make sure and include either a:
1. Text link such as: I participated in Simple Saturdays Blog Hop
2. Or ADD the blog hop button below (copy/paste) with a link back to the Blog Hop.

Simple Saturdays Blog Hop

 How Can I Be a Featured Blogger?

Our featured blogger is chosen each week at random by our Co-hosts...and we hope to have YOU as our next featured blogger!
If you are selected as "Featured", make sure and grab your button (just copy/paste):
simple saturdays featured button
**Please note: By linking to this Blog Hop you are giving us permission to link back to your post if you are featured. We will also include 1 photo from your post in the interest of sending visitors your way. **

Congratulations to our Featured Blogger this week:

Rachel from Grow a Good Life has a most timely and excellent post that y'all just went nuts about:
Ready to get to the hop? Add your link below.

Friday, December 12, 2014

How to Have a Frugal and Fabulous Christmas Day 5

I hope you are enjoying the week with all the practical how to advice from 5 entirely different families showing you so many ways you can have a Frugal and Fabulous Christmas.

This year my husband and I decided to completely simplify Christmas. We have been working on changing our thought process for the last couple of years. It's not how much you give monetarily but how much you give of yourself that truly makes it a special holiday.

Tree and Decorations

We have an artificial tree we use every year. Our allergies are set off by the real ones so it's just not possible to have one in our home.  I've only bought one container of ornaments in the last 2 years right after our house burned down.  Now every year I choose to buy one ornament that has some sort of special meaning for us. One great project I have this year is making salt dough ornaments for the tree and then we can sit and paint them and hang them with ribbon. 

There is also a ton of pine cones laying around out here in the country that we love to spread over newspaper and take some spray glitter and make sparkle. A few ribbons or even some twine or fishing line and voila cute ornaments that didn't break the bank.

Another option is to set the oven on a low temperature and put a few pinecones on a baking sheet and set in the oven for 10 minutes after shaking them in a large paper grocery bag with a few drops of Cinnamon essential oil. Nothing makes the house smell like Christmas then cinnamon. Yummy.

I also use lots of greenery everywhere and recycle my bows from year to year.  


If you like you could go out and spend a fortune on gifts, charge them to your credit card, and spend the next several years of your life paying them off or you could make up your mind that it isn't worth it.

Perhaps you could go to the Dollar Tree where Christmas cards are in packs of 18 and sold for a $1 and get out a pretty pen sit down and write to all of the wonderful people in your life exactly why it is you adore them and are thankful for them.

If you want to save a fortune and feel like the richest person in the world make the time to sit down and do this. 

Post stamps are 49 cents and 49 cents a person is a lot cheaper than going broke. For those friends and family members that are close just drop it off, when you drive by on errands or visits, in their mailbox.

I do buy some gifts for the many foster kids we have had in our home and frequently they are things I have purchased on sale or clearance throughout the year. 

If you are going to have a surprise little one never fail to stock up on the Kohl's $5 stuffed animals and books. I use my Kohl's cash to buy them. 

Thrift shops are a great way to buy toys and other gifts for people. Frequently the items just need cleaned and some minor repairs. 

You want to make an 8 year old happy, go to a thrift shop and buy up all the balls you can. Each ball might run you 50 cents or $1 each. Stuff them in a trash bag and tie it up with curling ribbon and watch their eyes almost explode thinking about all the possible ways they can use them. Essentially, you are killing 2 birds with one stone. You get to send them outside to blow off some energy and making them happy at the same time.


For those you absolutely have to buy for consider making them something homemade. I bake lots of different cookies and put them on plates and wrap them in cellophane and tie with curling ribbon for those I absolutely adore.

You could also make homemade salsa or tamales or gift them with handmade jellies and jams. 

For your Christmas feasts just think of it as a regular meal and splurge on the desserts. 


Practically every major city and even smaller cities now light up  a park for Christmas.

For us the next major city over has a wonderful lighting festival every year. We take all the munchkins and our friends and family and both walk and drive through. They ask for donations at the end so we always put in a few dollars. 

You could also have a cookie decorating party and a salt dough ornament decorating party for those you love.

We also have it on the Hallmark channel non stop. Free movies non-stop for over 30 days. Mugs of hot cocoa with mini marshmallows and curling up under the covers is a wonderful way to spend a few hours.

Perhaps the most important thing we all need to remember about Christmas is that it's about the birth of Jesus. We are starting a new tradition this year of baking Jesus a birthday cake and singing him Happy Birthday. 

It's not about spending a fortune it's about being grateful for what you have and for loving on all of the wonderful people in your life that both drive you crazy and make you smile.

A simple thank-you in a pretty card is sometimes all that is needed to make someone smile and feel truly blessed for the holidays.

To read more on this series go here  here here and here.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How to Have a Frugal and Fabulous Christmas Day4

Welcome to day 4 of our Frugal and Fabulous Christmas series. My friend Tiffany at FindingtheStory.com has a wonderful story and some great tips for you to have a great holiday.

A Frugal Holiday, A Valuable Holiday

After a large move over the summer, buying a home, having two
households worth of expenses while my husband finishes his
contract with the military… having a frugal Holiday is the approach we are taking. We try to be frugal at other times and have a budget for each month, but the holidays tend to bring out the spending in many.

This year we are determined to really stick to it! With a smaller
budget than we have had in other years, it is definitely going to be
essential we are aware of where out funds are going.

So what exactly am I doing to make have a frugal Holiday Season, but make it fabulous? DIY-ing it! I am making as many things as possible. Much of the supplies were found around the yard, at local parks, in the kitchen,and the recycling bin. Some of the other pieces we are adding to our found supplies, I am doing my best to find on sale (like fabric,yarn, spray paint, etc.), using coupons at the hobby/ craft stores, or purchasing from discount stores (think Dollar store) and thrift shops!

Now before you start to get too worried let me explain a little on
what I am actually doing for some of my DIY projects. We love to
have a cozy, rustic, cottage/lodge feel, which fits the style of our
home. The décor projects we chose are specifically to accomplish
this look and feel. Oh, and just so you know, most of our stuff is
across the country in a storage unit waiting to be shipped out to
our home, but right now we have zero holiday decorations, other
than the faux tree my dad gave us.

DIY Décor:

• I have done a ripped fabric garland made from left over fabric
from a previous sewing project, plus I got the fabric on sale
50% off! The twine I bought I was able to use a 40% off
coupon since it wasn’t on sale at the craft store and the
coupon was good for a regular price item. My youngest
(almost 5 years old) loved getting to help by ripping the
fabric pieces, and learning how to tie them into knots on the
string. He was so proud of himself he exclaimed “Mommy!
Now I know how to tie my shoes!” We finished the garland by
tying pinecones (hot glued to twine) 

• Another project we did was to make some salt dough ornaments
and paint them, which make fantastic keepsakes for when the
kids get older.

• Natural ornaments. We have taken pinecones and turned them
into a basic ornament for the tree, and gathered twigs to
bundle and decorate with faux berries (the berries are from a
previous craft project) and are able to turn them into a quaint
primitive ornament.

• I also have glass bottles that I recycled, and spray painted white
and red. White and red goes well for many holidays (think
patriotic) so I will leave some as is so they can be used for
more than just Christmas. Some of the bottles I have little
messages on them that serve as reminders of what this
holiday season represents.

• Reusing an old window (from my 1937 home that is no longer
needed) to decorate my fireplace mantle with greenery and
pinecones… I have a slight obsession with pinecones. You
will find them everywhere in my home.

DIY Gifts:

• We have made some handprint art for gifts because grandparents
(especially) really enjoy getting things made by the hands of
the grandkids. This also serves as a keepsake, and will be fun
to look back on in the future.

• Hand knit and crocheted items. Since I knit and crochet, I am
making several items as gifts for family members. Some of
those items include, scarves, mittens, hats, hand warmers,
boot cuffs, etc. We live in North Dakota, so these are some
serious essentials… you can never have too many.

• Baked goods with a healthy twist. I have stayed away from baked 
goods because there is never a shortage of them during the
holidays. BUT, I want to do some that don’t have such high
sugar content, and use ingredients to boost nutritional value.
Such as popcorn balls made with honey, instead of sugar,
then adding in dried fruit bits and chopped nuts. I am going
to do them more bite size so you don’t have the massive
popcorn ball that you never know what to do with once you
start, but can’t finish in one sitting. In turn that will reduce
the amount of wasted food.

Let me stress here, that I am trying to find as much as I can to do
with my kids, and involving them in the whole process. This is
fantastic learning as part of our Homeschool curriculum, and they
love seeing their creations displayed in the house.

For items that we are purchasing instead of doing it ourselves, I am
trying to stick to the concept of “adding value”. What does that
mean exactly? It means I’m asking myself, if I’m spending money
on (item) what value does it add to our lives (or the life of intended

• Is it something that they really need/essential? Items like
clothes, winter wear, household items (for adults of course).

• Is something they will be able to use for a long time to come?
This won’t always apply for kids since they grow out of most
things over time. Items like books,

• Will the recipient gain a new skill? Our kids want some ice skates
and hockey gear, which I think is something that adds value. I
also plan on getting them other skill building items such as
wood whittling/carving stuff, and archery items.

• Will the item be of quality? I am a strong believer in investing in
some quality items. Especially when it comes to skill building.
When working with the tendency for continuing use seems
more prominent. For example, I didn’t put much thought into
color crayons, until we started using higher quality items.

There really is a big difference in the final product of what  
you are making whenever you use a quality product to create.
Even though we are purchasing some things, doesn't mean we
have to go with new. We have found some fantastic stuff that is
practically brand new at thrift shops around here. Like... the child
ice skates that fit my 5 year old but were at least half the price of
most stores, but they are brand new! Zero wear. If I don't have to
pay full price on something, I most definitely will not.

My biggest take away from this holiday season, though, is not just
purchasing random items to stick under the tree for the sake of
having items in place! I’m not going to lie and say it isn’t tough to
restrain myself, or my husband, sometimes… but it will be worth it
in the long run. It is hard to stay on budget sometimes, especially
when the budget doesn’t stretch as far as we would like, but when
it comes down to it all… making memories is far more important
than the amount of money or gifts we get… or give out.

Not everyone will get a tangible gift from us, even though we
would LOVE to be able to, it’s just not what is doable for us. We
can spend time with our friends and family, though, and let them
know they are loved.
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