Monday, December 31, 2012

Recipe for a Happy New Year

Recipe for a Happy New Year

Take twelve whole months.
Clean them thoroughly of all bitterness,
hate, and jealousy.
Make them just as fresh and clean as possible.

Now cut each month into twenty-eight, thirty, or thirty-one different parts,
but don't make up the whole batch at once.
Prepare it one day at a time out of these ingredients.

Mix well into each day one part of faith,
one part of patience, one part of courage,
and one part of work.

Add to each day one part of hope,
faithfulness, generosity, and kindness.
Blend with one part prayer, one part meditation,
and one good deed.

Season the whole with a dash of good spirits,
a sprinkle of fun, a pinch of play,
and a cupful of good humor,
Pour all of this into a vessel of love.

Cook thouroughly over radiant joy,
garnish with a smile,
and serve with quietness, unselfishness,
and cheerfulness -
You're bound to have a happy new year.
-- Author Unknown

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14

God has blessed us with this new year.  Let's use this new year to serve Him, to glorify Him, and become more like His Son.  Happy New Year!
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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!
From my family to yours!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Snowman Snacks

You can't resist cute snowman snacks!  White bread peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut in rounds and topped with raisin eyes and mouth plus a carrot nose.
Little white donuts make cute snowmen!  Little Debbie works, but Hostess would have probably been rounder and less likely to fall apart.  Oh, yeah!  No more Hostess :(.  Little Debbie worked with mini chocolate chip eyes and an orange slice piece of candy (cut) for the nose.
And a friend also made these cute snowmen cupcakes!  They had mini chocolate chip eyes and I think orange Skittles or M&M's eyes.
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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Veggie Christmas Tree

For our elementary youth group party, I looked up photos of Christmas themed food.  I saw a vegetable Christmas tree and decided to make one to serve.  I wasn't sure the young children (Kindergarten - 5th grade) would be too excited about eating veggies, but they were!  They did have an option of Ranch dip to go along with the veggies, so some probably liked that part, too.

Almost too pretty to eat, huh?  I used broccoli, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and yellow bell peppers.
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Friday, December 14, 2012

Peanut Butter Balls

If you like chocolate and peanut butter together, you'll want to make these delicious candies.  I remember making "gobs" of them for gifts and parties for several years.

1 pound (4 sticks) butter (real butter)
3 pounds powdered sugar
4 cups peanut butter
2 - 12 ounce packages chocolate chips
1/4 pound parrafin or 2 tablespoons shortening

Melt butter.  Stir in peanut butter and powdered sugar.  Mix well.  Roll into 1-inch balls.  Melt chocolate chips and parrafin or shortening in microwave safe bowl. Be careful not to burn the chocolate.  Cook at quick intervals, stirring well between cooking times.  Dip balls in the melted chocolate using toothpicks.  Allow to harden on waxed paper.  Store in airtight container.  May be refrigerated, if desired.
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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Elf on the Shelf Ideas

It's as much fun for parents and older children to see what their "Elf on the Shelf" has been doing as it is for the younger kids who he is specifically visiting during the month of December.  If you don't have an elf in your family, consider getting one.  They're lots of fun to have around!
Our elf, Buddy, has been up to some pretty mischievous things during the night.  This time he toilet papered the candle chandelier over the dining room table.
Buddy read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" to some little friends.
 He stuffed himself inside Jacob's stocking!
 He helped himself to some hot chocolate and marshmallows.
He went for a ride in a little toy collectible car and rode around on the play-town rug.
And apparently he decided he wanted a red nose like Rudolf!  He took the "Let it Snow" block letters I have and spelled out NOSE....made himself a red duct tape nose, and hung out with the stuffed Rudolf all night long!

Wonder what he'll be doing tonight?
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Monday, December 10, 2012

2-Sided Hanging Party Decorations - Simple, Easy, and Cute!

Paper plates and tulle.  That's all you need!  Oh, and duct tape :).  Don't forget the duct tape! The idea for this decoration came to me in Hobby Lobby.  I stood there thinking that the paper plates would be simple, easy, and CHEAP, but didn't appeal to me on their own.  The tulle made it just perfect!
I don't know how to say it, but it's just inside out duct tape, I guess.....around the inside edge of the bottom back of a paper plate.  If you need extra stability, use hot glue....but it will take a LOT longer!
Make loops of tulle all around the plate, attaching the inside loop to the duct tape.  IMPORTANT STEP:  I didn't show this step, but duct tape all over the bottom part of the tulle and over the other duct tape, taping it to the inner part of the plate.  Tape another plate to the back of the first plate, and you're done with the two-sided decoration!
Attach a longer piece of tulle to one of the top loops and hang your decoration.  Think of the possibilities!  One of my sister-in-laws mentioned that a sunflower or ladybug would be cute!  
 The party plates can be your inspiration, just as they were for me!  Tulle and plates can be found in all sorts of colors and at very reasonable prices.
To finish off the decorations, I asked for empty boxes from Facebook friends.  I got a lot of them!  I wrapped the empty boxes with matching/coordinating wrapping paper, and they presents served as centerpieces on top of the colored tablecloths.
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Friday, December 7, 2012

Bacon - Date Appetizer

I wanted to share a recipe with you for a bacon-date appetizer my sister-in-law made for Thanksgiving. Instead of writing it all out, I'm taking the easy way out and just posting the link to her blog post about it.


Have a great weekend!  We're having a basketball tournament, a birthday party, and a church Christmas gathering this weekend.  Fun times!

What are you doing?  Christmas shopping?  Christmas baking?

P.S. A Facebook friend asked if other cheeses could be used.  Here's my sister-in-law's reply:
Yes, Feta is fine.  I would try it with any crumbly type cheese.  Has to be small bits to put inside the dates.
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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Buddy the Elf - First Few Days

Buddy the Elf came back a few days ago.  I forgot to take a picture the first day, but here are a few things Buddy has been up to so far.
Buddy was getting in the Christmas spirit.  He was helping decorate the garland in the kitchen with wooden candy canes.
Buddy helped our youngest child celebrate his 10th birthday.  He spelled out  "Happy Birthday Tyler" in Cherrios and blew up blue and orange balloons.

Buddy is a fun part of Christmas, even though my kids are older.  It's never too late to start a new tradition or to have fun - even with big kids.  After all, we're all kids at heart, right? :)

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Initial Wreaths for Kid's Doors

My mom told me about this idea a year or two ago:  wreaths for children's bedroom doors.  Since my children aren't little any more, I decided to do the wreaths pretty plain and simple.  That way I wouldn't hear any, "Oh, moooooommmmm!", statements, either :).  I'm not sure they like the wreaths, but they'll tolerate them for Christmas.....and because they don't want to hurt my feelings (ha ha!).
I didn't take a picture of the tracing step, but trace your wooden letters onto cute Christmas scrapbooking paper. Use Modge Podge to glue the paper on the front of the letter.  Smooth it out to prevent bubbles.
(Sorry this picture posted upside down.)
After paper is mostly dried, Modge Podge the front side.  Allow to dry and repeat.
Glue a ribbon loop to the back of the decorated letter.  Attach to the mini wreath or to the wreath hook. Add a bow, and you are done!

My kids don't know it, but I plan on keeping these wreaths for them and using them every year - even when they are grown, married, and parents.  I'm not sure what I'll do about adding their spouses names and kids' names, but I'll come up with something.  Then they'll think back to the first time that wreath hung on their door!  Memories and traditions!  Special times!

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Monday, December 3, 2012

If I Were Starting Over

So far, in child raising, I don't have many regrets.  The biggest regret I have is that I didn't quit part-time work sooner to become a stay-at-home mom, but am thankful that I only worked three days a week during those first five years of mommy-hood.  And my children stayed at my mother-in-law's house, for the most part, and enjoyed that tremendously.

Our children are 18, 16, 14, and the youngest is two days away from 10.  The time goes by very, very quickly.  Everyone tells you that, but until you've lived it, you don't really understand it.  The diaper days and car seat days and sleepless nights kind of seem to drag on and on and on.....but then it's gone.....and they're all grown up!

It's amazing the things that are available in childcare now that were not available when we were just starting out.  Amazing baby swings and high chairs!  Useful gadgets of all kinds!  But to me, the greatest and most special change for children and families now is photography.  There is an abundance of photography-inspired products and ideas to make your photographs special memories that will last a lifetime.  So sweet and so special.  We have some cute ones, too, but the ones today are just different....more personal and less "studio-ish".
So, if I were starting all over, I would make a book for every year of each child's life.  Shutterfly would be my choice.  I use them for photo prints, for vacation books, calendars, Christmas cards, and will be doing a Senior book for my daughter soon.  Very, very soon :(  (sad face).

I have written my children a letter for each birthday, and that will be special for them.  And after I began blogging (my devotional "Shine Like Stars" blog), I would write their birthday letter as a post and include pictures, so that is neat, but a book all bound together would have been extra-special.  Maybe I'll do that for my grand kids some day....unless their mom wants to do one.

If you were starting over, what would you do differently?  Anything?  Nothing?

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Mommy's Helpers Reindeer Apron

First I want to apologize for the quality picture.  It's hard to see what I'm trying to show you, but just imagine it, if you will.  

I got this idea from my sister-in-law.  She has an apron with her children's handprints/footprints making reindeer just like I do, except that it is on a white/red/green striped apron (I think!).  I chose to do a red apron several years ago, when my children were younger. It's a little dark for the project, so a lighter color of apron would be better.  I remember being in a rush and not taking time to make sure the paint was on their hands and feet really good.  I also didn't heat-set the pain after it dried, so it's faded some. 

Under each reindeer I have the child's name and age painted. My daughter's reindeer has a holly and berry on top of the reindeer head to make it more girly.

No, the quality isn't quite as good as it should be.  I should have planned ahead instead of rushing the craft.  But it's my children's handprints and footprints.  It's a special treasure and keepsake, in my opinion! It hangs in my kitchen every Christmas.
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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Joseph's Coat of Many Colors

Last night I taught the 4 and 5 year old Bible class about Joseph and his coat of many colors.  I've taught this lesson to children many times in the past and usually have used brown paper sacks to let them make their own "coats of many colors", but this time I did something different.  I raided one of my middle son's drawer to gather up plain white t-shirts for the kids.
After the lesson, I cut the t-shirts right up the middle in the front, making them easy to put on and so they would resemble a coat. Then the students made them "colorful" with washable markers.  Their shirts aren't really colorful like they could have been, but they got the idea and had fun making them.  You could start out with a colored t-shirt if you planned ahead a little better than I did!  I've also done this with tie-dyed shirts, just to let them wear, but not decorate.

Simple illustrations help the children retain the story they learn.  Having fun while learning makes it even better!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cinnamon Pretzels

I had been seeing this recipe on Pinterest for a while and finally had an opportunity to make them yesterday.  The first batch I used the big pretzel twists, but then did the small ones.  The smaller ones are better.  More of the cinnamon/sugar mixture sticks to them.  These are simple to make and would be great for homemade Christmas gifts!

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels 

1 (16 oz) bag pretzel twists 
⅔ cup vegetable oil 
½ cup sugar (I used homemade vanilla sugar.)
2 tsp cinnamon 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Pour pretzels into a roasting pan. In a medium sized bowl mix together vegetable oil, cinnamon and sugar. Pour over pretzels and stir to coat. Place in oven on top rack and bake for 30 minutes, removing twice to stir.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Creativeness

This year our Thanksgiving had several things to do that showed creativeness of family members.  My mother-in-law painted a canvas with a blue sky, green grass and a tree.  Family members did a thumbprint leaf on the tree in various colors of ink, then put their initial on their own leaf.  This was fun for all ages and will be a great keepsake for years to come!
One of my sisters-in-law found these interesting tablecloths at Walmart last year on clearance.  Both kids and adults enjoyed coloring and doing activities during our Thanksgiving dinner.
One of my daughter's creations was a Texas Rangers' Turkey!  He turned out pretty cute, didn't he?!
Another creative outlet was on my son's new cast.  He broke his arm at a basketball game last Monday night and  got this lovely hot pink cast on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day so family members began signing that evening.  I'm pretty sure the cast will be full of signatures by the time he gets home from school today.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, with lots of thankful thoughts, family, food, and fun!
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Skillet Apple Pie

Mom posted this recipe last fall, but this past Saturday, we celebrated an early, early Christmas together and she made it for the family.  She wasn't pleased with the fact that it boiled over.  It never had before.  But the boiling over didn't change the fact about how good it was. I had never eaten it before, but it was delicious!  I took a picture of it to share with you, as well.  Of course, the fact that she served Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream with it made it extra special!

Originally Posted by Donna in Sept. 2011:

If you want to feel like the Pioneer Woman, you must make this pie. This recipe is in the recent issue of Southern Living. It's such a pretty pie, and you really do feel a sense of pride when it comes out of the oven. The fact that it's baked in a cast iron skillet makes it so much fun.

Skillet Apple Pie

2 pounds Granny Smith apples---I used four of these
2 pounds Brae burn apples---four of these also
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 pie crusts, unbaked (I used my recipe that is posted on this site) You can use store bought if you choose.
1 egg white
2 T. sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel apples, and cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges. (I just cut mine up to what I thought would work.)
Toss apples with cinnamon and 3/4 cup granulated sugar.

Melt butter in a 10 inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat; add brown sugar, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. (It took the 2 minutes on my stove.) Remove from heat, and place 1 piecrust in skillet over the brown sugar mixture. Spoon apple mixture over the piecrust, and top with the remaining piecrust. Whisk egg white until foamy. Brush the top of the piecrust with egg white; sprinkle with 2 T. granulated sugar. Cut 4 or 5 slits in the top for steam to escape.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. If the pie crust starts to brown too much, place aluminum foil on top of the crust. (As well as I remember, I did use the full hour and 10 minutes in my oven and I did have to put foil on top of my crust. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before serving.

Serve with ice cream.

This fall issue of Southern Living is worth the purchase. The cake on the cover is just as good. I made it, also, a few weeks ago. There are a lot of apple recipes in this issue. Of course, you can go to their website and get some of these as well. 

I wish I had a picture to share. (*NOTE from Lori:  Now she has a picture! :) I can't wait to make it again.
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