How to get a letter or package postmarked from the North Pole

20121117-212428.jpg

NORTH POLE, AK – Once again this year, the U.S. Postal Service is offering North Pole postmarks on holiday mail. This is such a great treat for all your special kiddos. Send your kids a letter from Santa Claus to let them know he’s been watching. Or mail them a special book for you to read on Christmas Eve as a family. I’ve included the directions as well as the address to send your mail to. And don’t forget, they must receive it by December 10th.

Merry Christmas!

To receive the North Pole postmark on your holiday cards, you should:
Purchase stamps at any post office.
Affix the stamps to envelopes of your choice.
Address the sealed envelopes, with the cards enclosed, to those on your mailing list.

Mail them in a larger envelope, box, Priority Mail or Express Mail package to:

NORTH POLE HOLIDAY CANCELLATION
POSTMASTER
4141 POSTMARK DR
ANCHORAGE AK 99530-9998

Requests must be received in Anchorage by Dec. 10 in order to ensure delivery by Christmas. The Postal Service receives hundreds of thousands of requests each year for North Pole postmarks from around the world. The service is provided at no cost. Each card or letter must have the correct amount of postage and be addressed.

Many communities around the country have local programs set up to respond to letters to Santa Claus. In North Pole Alaska, requests may be sent to – 1 Santa Claus Lane, North Pole AK 99705-9901. Check with your local post office or call 1-800-ASK-USPS.

 

 

Vegetable Lasagna Recipe

My grandmother made lasagna from scratch when we were growing up. When I was a kid, I couldn’t really appreciate the significance of that. But now that I am older and I have eaten many frozen lasagnas, I have a greater understanding of the time and effort she put into it. Because we all know that frozen lasagna doesn’t hold a candle a homemade one. I have been in search of a great lasagna recipe for my Garcia Family Cookbook. I have tried several different recipes, but I didn’t fall in love with any of them. Although my sister-in-law turned me onto the Pioneer Woman‘s recipe. It was pretty good, but I prefer ground sausage to ground beef in my Italian food. I think it has more flavor. So since I couldn’t quite find a lasagna recipe that I loved, I decided to create one of my own. And I am in love! So here it is, and you decide. I actually use my spaghetti sauce recipe as the base for my lasagna. Which is perfect, because I can turn one meal into two. And for all of you mothers out there, we all know we love to stretch out our meals as much as possible.

Mama Kerrie’s Lasagna

Ingredients:

FOR SAUCE:

  • 2 lbs Ground Italian Sausage
  • 1 sm. Onion, chopped
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28 oz.) can Diced Tomato
  • 2 (6 oz.) cans Tomato Paste
  • 1 (15 oz.) can Tomato Sauce
  • 2 cups Water
  • 3 teaspoons Dried Basil
  • 2 teaspoons Dried Parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper

FOR LASAGNA:

  • 2 1/2 cups Cottage Cheese
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 4 Teaspoons Dried Parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Mozzarella Cheese, grated
  • 1 pkg. Lasagna Noodles, cooked

For the Sauce: CLICK HERE for spaghetti sauce tutorial

In a large skillet brown Italian sausage, breaking it up into bits as you stir. Add onions and continue to cook until they have become soft. Remove from heat and drain grease from meat. Then set aside.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add garlic, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Mix well. Then add your meat mixture to the pot and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine basil, 2 teaspoons parsley, brown sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Mix well. Then add spices to your pot and combine them well.

Once sauce boils, reduce heat to low setting. Simmer sauce on low stirring frequently for 2 hours. Then remove from heat and set aside.

For Lasagna:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In a small bowl, combine cottage cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, 4 teaspoons parsley, and 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

Arrange 3 or 4 cooked lasagna noodles across the bottom of a baking pan. Using half of your cottage cheese mixture, spread over the noodles evenly. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over cottage cheese. Spread a layer of prepared meat sauce on top of cheese layer.

Repeat this process two more times, so you have a total of three layers. Next sprinkle your top meat sauce layer with more mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Bake Lasagna for 20 to 30 minutes or until top is bubbly.

Enjoy!

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

My husband and his family are constantly telling me how great their Grandmother’s cooking was when they were growing up. As an Italian and the Matriarch of the family, she was adept at bringing the whole family together for a meal. They all get so excited when they recount all the tasty meals she used to prepare from scratch. That’s right! Those spectacular home cooked recipes from the old country are the stuff that myths are made of (something I know nothing about). Especially since Nana Onusic cooked by feel. Meaning? A pinch of this and a snip of that. Not exactly helpful when once she’s passed away, and you want to recreate the meals she used to make. So I have been on a hunt for a spaghetti sauce recipe that is both delicious and easy to produce. This is the first one that my husband has liked. And believe me, I have tried tons! So, in honor of Nana Onusic, I have decided o start some of our own Garcia Family traditions. So if you too are looking to make some spaghetti sauce from scratch, here is a little recipe from me to you.

This recipe makes about ten servings. So you can have yummy leftovers or freeze the extra sauce for another week. Or you can use it as the sauce for a yummy lasagna for the end of the week. Believe it or not, my husband loves it so much, that I have to double this recipe, in order to have leftovers. This is one of the base recipes for my Garcia Family Cookbook. Enjoy!

Mama Kerrie’s Spaghetti Sauce

Ingredients:
2 lbs Ground Italian sausage
1 small onion (chopped)
4 garlic cloves (minced)
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
2 cups water
3 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I usually put 1/2 teaspoon)
¼ teaspoon pepper

Cooking Instructions:
-In a large skillet brown Italian sausage. It is much easier to stir without spilling. Break up sausage into bits as you stir. When sausage is about halfway cooked, add onions and continue to cook until they have become soft and sausage is cooked through. Then drain grease and set aside.

In a large pot, add garlic, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Mix them well. Add the sausage and onion mixture and mix until combined.

In a small bowl, mix basil, parsley, brown sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Add spices to the pot and mix well. Bring sauce to a boil for a few minutes, then reduce heat to low.

Simmer on low stirring frequently for at least 2 hours. Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles. Or use as it as the base for your lasagna.

Enjoy!

DIY – Ice Pack Cover tutorial

We all know that kids fall down and get hurt.  It is our defining moment as mothers when we come racing in to save the day.  We kiss the boo-boos to make them better, rub the ouchies when they hurt, we blow on the scrapes so they stop burning, and we ice the bumps so they go away.  Personally, I have always hated it when your homemade icepack begins to melt, and it gets you all wet.  So a few years ago, I made a few icepack covers that I keep in the kitchen.  Between you and me, my husband is always coming home with sports injuries.  He doesn’t realize he’s getting older 🙂  So they come in handy when he needs to ice his bumps and bruises.  I thought I would share these with all of you, because they are a fun way to dress up the healing process.

Before we get started, I was hoping that you all could share some of your favorite ways to nurse your children back to health.  I am always looking for creative ideas.  And I am sure that everyone else could use them too!

Icepack Cover Tutorial

Materials:

For a Large Square Ice Pack Cover

-2 (12″x12″) Pieces of Fabric (from your scrap pile)

-2 inexpensive wash clothes or 2 – (12″) squares of terry cloth with finished edges

-thread to match

-11″ piece of velcro

***Ice Pack fits a Gallon sized ziplock bag with ice


Small Rectangle Ice Pack Cover

-1 (12″x12″) Pieces of Fabric (from your scrap pile)

-1 inexpensive wash cloth or one 12″ square of terry cloth with finished edges

-Thread to match

-Approximately 3″ by 3/4″ scrap of hook and loop tape

***Fits a Quart sized ziplock type plastic bags

First we will begin by cutting out our fabric and terrycloth pieces into a 12 x 12″ squares.  You should have a total of two pieces each of fabric and terrycloth.  I have used some old bathroom towels in the name of upcycling.  Don’t be afraid to reuse and old towel, because it doesn’t have to look pretty.  It will be on the inside of our pouch, so no one will see it.

Separate the two sides of your velcro. Pin your pieces of to your terry cloth pieces about 3/4″ below the top edge. Each piece of terry cloth should have a piece of velcro attached to it.


Attach the velcro by using a zigzag stitch. Encase the entire piece of velcro and backstitch at both ends.

Place both pieces of your terrycloth on your work table velcro side up. Place your fabric pieces on top of the terrycloth pieces right sides together. Pin them together.

Attach the pieces together with a machine stitch using a 1/4″ seam. Leave a 3″ opening, so you can turn them right side out.

Turn each piece right side out and press flat with an iron.


Now take your two pieces and place them together, leaving the terry cloth sides facing outward. Make sure your velcro pieces match up, so that you’ll be able to close your pouch.

Machine stitch your two pieces together. Begin at the top of the right side of the pouch and stop at the top of the left side of the pouch. Make sure you leave the top edge open. Otherwise you won’t be able to open your pouch.


Turn your pouch right side out, so your print is facing outward. This is what your pouch should look like so far.


Almost finished! Now open your pouch and topstitch along the top edge of the pouch. This will secure the top edge in place. Backstitch at the beginning and the end.


This is what your finished project should look like.You are ready to cover your icepack and ice those boo boos!

Just fill a ziplock bag with ice and place it inside your icepack cover. Seal the velcro and ice all your pain away.

Happy Icing!

Enjoy!!!

DIY – Crayon Roll tutorial

Little Tike’s Crayon Roll Tutorial

Next weekend we have a birthday party to attend.  Our friends’ daughter is turning five and we’re celebrating by going to a petting zoo.  I have been racking my brain trying to determine what we should get for her as a present.  I like to try to be unique.  Plus, it gives me an opportunity to get creative.  I know for sure that I am going to make her one of my really cute ruffled skirts, but I wanted to do something else as well.  We have gone on a few dinner dates with this special little girl, and every time her and I spend most of our night coloring.  Each time it seems like we were always limited with the colors we could use.  So I thought that I could make her a little crayon roll she can take with her all the time.

All kids love to color. And if I’m really being honest, as an adult, I still love to color too. It’s difficult to keep all of your little tike’s crayons together. Here is a great method for storing a set of crayons in a way that is mobile. Crayon rolls are cute and portable. They’re great for car rides, road trips, dinner at a restaurant, and craft time at school. Here’s a quick little tutorial on how to make your little tike a crayon roll.

A Tip for you: Go to a $.99 Store and pick up a set of crayons for 20 cents. You don’t need to spend a fortune on your crayons. Also, dig through your scrap pile and find some fun fabrics. This is a project that can help you deplete some of that excess fabric in your stash.

Material Needed:

-1 (24pack) of crayons

-1 (18½” x 5½”) rectangle of the exterior fabric

-1 (18½” x 5½”) rectangle of interfacing or flannel

-1 (18½” x 12½”) rectangle of the interior fabric

-1 Matching button

-2” piece of ribbon or elastic

-Needle

Begin by cutting all of your fabric pieces. First cut your exterior fabric piece. It should measure 18½” x 5½.” Now cut your Interior piece of fabric. The dimensions of your fabric piece should measure 18½” x 12½.” Lastly cut your piece of interfacing. The dimensions should be 18½” x 5½.”

Once you have cut all of your pieces, we will begin assembling your crayon roll. Begin with your piece of interior fabric facing right side up. Measure 5½” down from the top of the short side of your interior fabric rectangle and draw a horizontal line (from one side of the fabric to the other.

It should look like this:

Fold the fabric along this line, right sides together. Lay your fabric down with the slightly larger side should be on top with the fold at the bottom. Now, mark a horizontal line from one side to the other 3½” up from the fold.

Mark parallel vertical lines from this line to the fold about 1” apart along the rectangle Make your first line about ½” in from the outer edge.

Sew along the lines you just marked and backstitch at each end.

Your project should look like this when you’ve finished:

Now fold your fabric. Pull the top raw edge of your fabric down and match the edge with the folded edge. It should cover the lines that you have just sewn.

Time to break out your iron and ironing board. Attach the interfacing to the wrong side of your exterior fabric rectangle.

Next, line up the interior and exterior rectangles right sides together. Before you pin the pieces together, pin your small piece of elastic or ribbon to the right side of one of your pieces of fabric. Make sure the raw edges of your loop are matched up with the raw edges of the fabric. It should look like this:

Machine stitch around the edges of your crayon roll with a ¼” seam. Leave a small opening on the other short side, so you can turn your roll right side out. Make sure that you catch the edge of the elastic loop when you sew that end.

Almost finished! Turn your crayon roll right side out and press it flat with your iron.

Top stitch around the edge of your crayon roll with a ¼” seem. This will close the opening.

It should look like this when you’re done:

It’s all coming together. Time to put the finishing touches. Slide your crayons into their slots. Roll up your crayon roll to determine where you want to place your button.

With a needle and thread, sew your button onto your crayon roll.

Fasten it closed and you’re ready to go. Your little tike is going to love it.

Enjoy!