Tuesday, December 29

ugh

The pukies are upon us - Aaron has succumbed, and I have some sort of respiratory bug. Not how we planned to spend our holiday break, but I certainly am glad that there are two of us around.

I will blog again, eventually.

Tuesday, December 22

The Christmas Story

After supper, before cleanup, we had Aaron tell the story.

Despite the dirty face, it was too cute not to post.

MERRY CHRISTMAS from our family to yours!!

video

Monday, December 21

Works of God Monday


Well, it's Monday morning and I'm up before the kids sipping coffee, reading the rest of Colossians and being thankful for another day!

Yesterday, Michael and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary - it's been the best six years of our lives! I'm so grateful for a godly husband who loves and honors God, and who, by God's grace, has been a perfect match for me. For the record, I'm still totally in love with him. Smitten, actually. And I don't take for granted God's work of grace in blessing us with a happy marriage.

We've been watching God provide blessing after bonus blessing the past few weeks - $50 from an unexpected source, generous gifts from parents of some of the teens we work with - it's overwhelming to be the recipients of such love. I've been blessed with a great few months of Pampered Chef sales, and it's been great to watch God grow my business - it is obviously all of HIM!

So, what has God been showing you about Himself this week? How has He been at work in your family?

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.





Friday, December 18

woosh

and there went the week.

It's been anything but silent here. I typed up a works of God Monday post and it got eaten by my computer.

I was SO not in the mood for a computer issue, but I had to laugh at the irony of my bad mood in light of the post topic - I had some sort of stomach bug wake me up mid-sleep early Monday morning and was totally out of commission all day, sleeping while Michael stayed home from work. Tuesday I was half-better, and trying to wrap up my Pampered Chef shows for December, Wednesday I was rushing around getting ready for our youth group party and trying to feel better. Thursday was crazier than I can even say - and I was cleaning and doing projects in timer-induced 20-minute intervals. In between draining sessions of discipline.

Needless to say, I didn't make the time to blog.

And now it's Friday night. Michael just called to tell me he wasn't quite on his way home from his job, currently with a 1-hour commute. AND he's feeling pukey like I was on Monday, poor guy.

SO THANKFUL for God's grace and encouragement through His Word. I'm reading through Colossians right now - awesome.

Tuesday, December 15

Aaron Declares His Love (the Sunday School Christmas Program)

video

Aaron is quite enamored with his teacher, and the little
sweetheart in the row ahead of him. Watch out, world!

And the big exit.
video

Thursday, December 10

short on ornaments?

I forget where I first saw this idea for dried orange slices as ornaments, but I absolutely LOVE how it brightens up my tree and gives a little homespunniness (new word! yay!) to the decor. Bonus - totally harmless if eaten.

I'm all about homemade ornaments - which is good, since I'm sure I'll be getting some from my offspring in years to come. One year I was semi-in charge of the big tree at Northland and we had all the faculty/staff kids make ornaments for the tree. Certain People thought it looked tacky, but they are the types of people who color coordinate their ornaments. Weirdos. *grin* Really, it was charming. I loved it. We did popcorn garlands and everything.

I sliced these oranges thin - shy of 1/4 inch - and put them on a cookie sheet on "warm" for a couple hours, flipping them halfway through. Made the house smell delightful! Then I poked a hole and strung them with red ribbons.

I only did one orange, which yielded about 8 or 9 slices. I think I'll do one more tomorrow - my tree "needs" more homemade charm.

isn't this the case?

So, I always find the cutest, yummiest ideas when I've renewed my "say no to sugar" vows. Even during my post-Thanksgiving sugar withdrawal, I love to go drool over at Bakerella...have you seen these?? They were posted last year about this time. I just love those cute little Santa hats!

I've always been a sucker for all things miniature. I won't tell you which second grade classmate of mine and I had a ball making "mini" versions of all our classroom crafts, unbeknownst to our teacher. (all the other kids took FOR.EV.ER to finish their crafts!!) I'd sure hate to embarrass him.

So anyway, if I had enough time (uninterrupted) I would definitely try to make some of these little cute cake pops for friends and family for Christmas!! Do you have any fun homemade Christmas presents in the works this year?

We do, and when I say "we" I mean Michael. Stay tuned for the after-Christmas reveal!

Wednesday, December 9

happiest of birthdays

Well, I look sleep deprived and double chinned

because I am - and was, when the photo was taken (this Thanksgiving)

but Grandma looks beautiful, because she is.

Inside and out.

Happy 79th birthday, Grandma Pat! I love you!

Monday, December 7

Works of God Monday

God is so gracious to us! We have had so many blessings lately, and are praising the Lord for His provision for our needs and some of our wants, too. He convicts, encourages, and instructs through His Word, and I am so grateful.

What do you do when you cannot stop thinking about someone? I pray, as it is all I can do. But only God could continue to bring the same person continually to mind, right? Prayer is one of those strange & wonderful mysteries to me. Thinking about it too much makes my head hurt.

God is sovereign, all knowing, all powerful. The Holy Spirit prays for us when we do not have the words. We are commanded to pray. Jesus taught us to pray. There are many instances in the Bible that it seems that prayer was the means God used to change the expected course of His actions. Strange and wonderful. However it all works together, I am thankful to know God hears and answers prayer. And I'm looking with anticipation toward a time I can hear of God working in my friend's life in the circumstances that are currently surrounding. I see that God is working in the reactions and responses from the friend, and am trusting in faith that God is going to continue to work, and I keep praying toward that end.

How is God at work in your life this week? Is He bringing someone to mind for you to pray for? Encouraging you through His Word or through others? Has He provided for you this week? Share it here!

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.


Sunday, December 6

Pumpkin Muffins (dairy free, lower fat)

I stayed home from church after a rough night from the boys - coughing suddenly - who knows? Aaron seems to have no other symptoms but I think a runny nose is coming. Evan slept until 10:30am, so it's a good thing we stayed home.

So Aaron and I had some uninterrupted time together, and decided to make muffins! Pumpkin was his request, so I dug this recipe out and modified it so my dairy-allergic Evan could have some. And then after they were all baked, I remembered that he also reacts to eggs. I'm only slightly sleep deprived. So next time, I'll try something different. I'm pretty sure this recipe couldn't be modified with flaxseed substitute, which is what I typically do in my baking.

Pumpkin Muffins
2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar (scant)
1 cup mashed pumpkin
1/4 cup applesauce (or more pumpkin)
1 T vegetable oil
1 T Vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup chopped nuts if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray and lightly dust with flour, or use muffin papers lightly sprayed.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until light, fluffy and pale yellow. Beat in pumpkin, applesauce, oil, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together dry ingredients. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! Stir flour mixture into pumpkin mixture gently, stirring until just mixed. If you are adding nuts, raisins, or anything else, do that now.

Divide batter among 12 muffin pans, and bake until the top is golden and springy. I kind of neglected to watch the time. We washed up the dishes we used (Aaron's favorite part of the kitchen projects) and by that time the muffins were done. If I had to guess, I'd say 10-12 minutes. These baked up super high, which makes me smile.

I ended up topping half of the muffins with a mixture of finely chopped pecans, butter and cinnamon sugar for the rest of the family. Definitely yummy, but not dairy free and there goes the lower fat, right?

Wednesday, December 2

stretching and saving

On Thanksgiving evening, I cleaned all the meat from the turkey and, minus the skin, threw everything in my largest stockpot, along with a carrot and a few onions and several quarts of water, and simmered away while I cleaned up the kitchen and then relaxed with Michael.

Before bed, I poured everything through my stock pot's pasta insert into my very newest favorite large bowl - my 6 quart stainless steel mixing bowl from my business. (Hurrah for bonuses, right?) I then put the bowl in the fridge so that the fat would rise to the top.

Not the next morning, but a couple mornings later, I scooped out the fat and was faced with a giant bowl of turkey stock. I've made chicken stock in the past, and frozen it in a large gallon size bag, but then it's pretty much only good if you're using a LOT of stock, say, for chicken soup. But there are lots of recipes that call for 1 can of broth, so recently I've been freezing it in 2-cup(ish) quantities, and here's how I do it.

Fold a bag inside and out of a glass. I typically use a 2-cup measure-all but mine was dirty so I opted for a clean drinking glass. This bag is a quart size freezer bag. You can certainly reuse the bag when you empty out the stock, but I definitely recommend this size - or larger! The extra room allows for flatter storage in the tiniest of freezers.




Then I scooped in about 2 cups worth. You will notice the texture of this stock is a little wiggly. If that grosses you out, I'm sorry. It's really excellent for your health, and it melts when you heat it up a little bit - turns back to liquid. I used a 2-cup prep bowl but you could either eyeball it or use a measuring cup. I'm just having fun with all my Pampered Chef stuff. Bear with me.



Then, I folded the top up and removed the bag from the glass. Then, I squeezed out the air by folding the top like so, and labeled the bag while it was like that. I like to know which broth is turkey and which is chicken - sometimes I label it with the date, but I use a lot of broth in recipes and so I have not found that necessary.



After labeling, you can seal the bag and lay it flat. Then repeat and stack the bags on top of one another. I can easily fit 8-12 bags in one stack under the shelf in my above-the-fridge freezer. These can be thawed in the fridge or quickly under running water. You can also just take them out of the package frozen and put them in the pan for soup.

I haven't decided what I like best - saving money or knowing what is in my broth.

Tuesday, December 1

do you see what I see?

This weekend was tons of fun.

I got to shop with my mom, spend time with my parents, and take the boys for a little grandma & papa time while Michael did something amazing.

Can you guess what it is?

I bet you can.

Or not.

Go ahead, give it a try. What do you think I'm most excited about in these pictures?

Now, honestly, if I had my way, I'd be spending every waking minute with Michael while someone else took care of all the projects (or our kiddos - I do love a project!), but we have to be grownups and be apart sometimes. It's really hard to get anything of substance done with children underfoot.

We got a kitchen quote back this weekend, and we are

so.very.excited.

SO! VERY! EXCITED! would be more like it. I can't wait.

Trying to finish up the details before the refinancing process begins. So this means in the next few weeks, I won't be working on homemade Christmas gifts. Instead, I'll be spackling nail holes, sewing window treatments, and the big one - de-cluttering everything. That's been a long time coming.