Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A little longer...

We are having a ball.   Movies, games, good food.

Late nights, late mornings, late naps.

A little furniture rearranging.  Just a table or two moved to breathe new life into the room.

At night, candle lit dinners followed by movies by the Christmas lit fireplace.

We will keep up the lights until after January 1st.  Mainly because one of my favorite events of the year is falling asleep on the couch December 31st.  Ringing in the New Year wouldn't be the same for Shane if I wasn't asleep on the couch sawing up some serious logs.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Night Before Christmas

There is a painting.

The son of a lady in my BSF group painted it.

The painting depicts The Night Before Christmas.

Jesus in heaven.

Surrounded by glory.

Angels singing Holy, Holy, Holy.



What did he do the night before he came to earth?

Was it a struggle, knowing what he was sacrificing to leave heaven to come to earth?

Such a gift.

The first time he came as a humble baby.

The next time he comes it will be as King.

The first time was a quiet night.

The next time will be with a loud trumpet call.

Today we worship our King.

The gift of life.



Monday, December 19, 2011

Cooking Blues

Thank you Pinterest for helping me think about coming off INeverCookAnyRealDinnersHiatus.

I feel like if we've had one grilled cheese the last two weeks we've had a million.   I have been struggling with wanting to cook.  Granted, we've been Christmas partying which is probably why I fell off the wagon to begin with.  I've spent the morning browsing recipes trying to get some new inspiration.  It all started with wanting fun appetizers for the kids who like to keep it simple.  Can't wait to share my new finds with you all!  I'm pretty excited about this first one-

This recipe came from Fork In It BlogspotClick here to see recipe.

6 pieces frozen boneless skinless chicken
1 bottle BBQ sauce
1/4 c vinegar (i'll use less)
1 t red pepper flakes
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 to 1t garlic powder

Mix all ingredients, spread over chicken.  Cook in crockpot on low for 6 hours.

She serves it with garlic cheddar biscuits.

Yes Please.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Real Snowy House

This is my real house at night when it snowed.

More city-ish on the outside than cottage.

But, but but but on the inside-it's a whole 'nother story.  Grays, blues, yellows and greens.  Florals, stripes, plaids, toiles.  Yep, every man's paradise. 
And, if one of the cottages in the post below was going to belong to me, it would definitely be the blue one.


 I got in the car, buckled up and started on my 30 minute drive home.  It was dark and cold outside.  Something was falling in sheets from the sky.  Was it rain or snow?  I could not tell.  I kept going back and forth in my mind trying to figure it out.

Surely it was not snow.

I had not prepared for snow.  I knew nothing about a possibility of snow.  No, it had to be rain, if snow was coming, I would've known.  For 25 minutes all I could think about was one question.  What is this that is falling from the sky, unexpectedly?

When I was about 5 minutes from home the debate was settled.  Crazy as it was for me to believe, there was no more question this was snow falling.  I began to see the faintest trace starting to accumulate on the road.  It hit the windshield and melted instantly.

An unexpected snow.

For most of my journey, unbelief kept me from fully enjoying the unexpected gift.  I could see it but my unbelief kept me from really seeing it.

The last 5 minutes of my trip turned into holy ground.  I turned up the song below and worshipped.

As I near home I drive over big hill.  More like a road that has been carved out of a mountain.  One of my favorite places in our city, especially at night. For an instant when you reach the top of the hill, you see the city lights and feel like you are in a Mary Poppin's movie dancing on rooftops.  A grand flag flies in the distance lit up at night by a single spotlight.

     You see ridges of rolling hills in the distant.  Tonight there was a glow around the street lights and snow drifted through the air and words of truth filled my car.

Unbelief always keeps me from being able to see.

There was no getting back the lost 25 minutes but there was now.

And I celebrated.

When I got home we all celebrated.

Woke the boys up and went outside to play.

Stayed up way too late and laughed and I'm pretty sure accidentally woke up the neighbors.

Praying for eyes to see His fingerprints on my day.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sea Extend

I wanted to warn you that the beautification process is undergoing some changes. You may have noticed I've been using extra gentle sulfate free cleansing shampoo that's been infused with healing sea botanicals.  The emollient rich Red Sea Kelp and Algasilk is what's been preparing my hair for the thermal styling it undergoes on a daily basis whenever I need to be presentable to leave the house.  It's also why I've had exceptional humidity resistance.

Today I ran out.  Sucked that bad boy dry.  And now I'm switching to Suave.  That's right, I'm using the guest bathroom shampoo.  So I just wanted to warn you.  If you see me and don't want to be rude, but think to yourself, "Man, her hair kind of looks a little less resistant to humidity than last week...and I'm not trying to be rude, but her hair looked a lot more emollient rich last week" I will understand.

The perks of Suave are as follows:

$ .97

Smells yummy

My kids can steal it to make bubble bath and I don't care

After my Wal-Mart run I feel the freedom to get a Large Vanilla DP Happy Hour because they practically paid me to buy their shampoo

And when the product build up gets so crazy I feel like I've been shampooing with candle wax, I'll go buy another bottle of the good stuff to stop the madness.

And the circle of shampoo will once again start over.

How about you?  What's your favorite shampoo?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

God's Will For You Part II

It starts by finding contentment with where your feet have been planted today.

By asking God to give you wisdom to reveal his plans for your day/life.

Then you can ask yourself a question. 

Is there any new information/opportunity has God presented to me today?

When God places opportunity in your path that is your chance to respond.  Yesterday in my Bible Study group one lady reminded us of how God wants us to be faithful to the little He's given us before He will provide us more.

I'll share an example.  Shane and I have been praying about how to approach gift giving for Christmas this year.  We landed on a modest amount of money that we will spend on each family member.  It's not a huge amount and I'll be honest.  I've wrestled with feeling guilt over our lack of extravagance.  But the bottom line is we are giving within our means.  No credit cards. 

Giving thanks for what we have and staying within the boundary.  It is a constant dying to self and a constant act of choosing to be thankful.  We are Black Friday shoppers.  Not this year.  We knew if we looked we'd find.  Find what we thought we needed but did not really need.  I could not even look at the ads.  I glanced at one for a minute and had to look away.  I knew I'd be tempted to want what I didn't have and I was. 

We are making a choice to be strategic.  To take God up on His Word when He says it is more blessed to give than receive.  Sunday at church one of our Pastors showed a video.  It was new information for me.  Watch this.

I have known there is unclean drinking water in the world.  But it was not until I saw with my own eyes that I really understood.

It was new information.

My eyes were opened.

Things were put into perspective.

Each one of my children will receive a couple gifts at Christmas and the cost of their gifts will each equal the cost of one life changing water filter for a family for life.

New information.

New responsibility.

A new choice.

"Suppose you can be trusted with very little.  Then you can be trusted with a lot.  But suppose you are not honest with very little.  Then you will not be honest with a lot."  Luke 16:10

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Snowstorm Footage

We interrupt the regularly scheduled program to bring you footage from the "December 6 Snowstorm of Twenty Twelve"

The children were tucked into their beds with care.  Once they went to bed the snow really started falling so we got them back up.  We were up till after midnight.

It's really interesting, and you may know this, but the news was new to me.  Coats and shoes are optional when you engage in nighttime snow play.  You completely forget they are even necessary.

Here's some footage of the first snowball of the evening that landed right on my living room carpet.  Is it just me or is this snowball picture insanely ginormous?  That's what I thought.

We made 5 mugs of Hot Cocoa-we're a 3 whoop cream 2 mallow family.  After that we roasted mini-mallows over the Advent candles.  When I say Advent candles of course you know I'm referring to the tapers that will go in the Advent wreath once we get it down from the attic.  I'm fashionably late.  No, no at this point I'm tacky late.

I would sheepishly like to share that as we drank our warm drinks a little panic came over me.  It was almost midnight, the snow was falling, and we had less than 1/2 a jug of milk and no bread.   I know, I'm ashamed of myself for even entertaining the thought.

(Yes that is a Fall wreath still hanging on my door, and yes, as you can tell by the candy cane yard stake we went all out for Christmas this year)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

God's Will For You

Do you ever wander about finding God's will for your life?
Sometimes it can seem like some elusive thing just beyond your reach.  You know you have been created with certain talents, passions and interests, yet you are not certain what to do with them.

There seems to be a main theme that keeps coming across my radar lately.

It has to do with five little letters we like to call today.

Sometimes finding God's will for your life has to do with finding peace in your circumstances.  Looking into the window of today and seeing it through eyes of contentment.  Maybe a change is on the horizon and maybe it is not.  Either way there is news for you pertaining to your current situation.

There is a promise you can hang on to if you choose to.  It is a promise that you can live within the boundary of today.  You don't even have to worry about tomorrow.  The sun will set and the sun will rise and you do not have to choose to worry.

Maybe you feel you have lacked opportunity to explore new places the Lord is leading.  We'll talk more about this later this week.  For now though, finding his will for your life comes wrapped neatly and beautifully in a package called today. 

Have you asked Him to show you?  To show you what He has in mind for your life?  To reveal His plans and make them viewable with your earthly eyes?  Have you taken even 5 minutes to share with God what is on your mind?  To approach His throne of grace to receive the mercy you need in your time of need?

After you approach the throne of grace in prayer there will be something else for you to do.  Tangible instructions for you to follow.  Are you ready?

In everything, give thanks.  Whatever filters into your corner of the world today, thank Him.  Find a way.  Thank him in the waiting. 

Today will fold up quietly and before you know it you'll be curled up under your covers drifting off to sleep tonight.

The moon and the stars will hang in the sky.   The sun will rise tomorrow and there it will be-another gift for you wrapped neatly and beautifully in a package called today.

I Thes 5:16-19
Phil 4:10-13
Heb 4:16

Monday, December 5, 2011

School Closed Due To Rain

We shut school down today.   It's raining.  We just couldn't.

And we slept till 9am.  The result of being out the last two nights Christmas Party-ing it up with friends. 
We have a third night in a row Christmas party tonight.  So I have pre-game hair.  Washed.  Dried.  Not fixed.  Because I'm taking a nap today.  Pre-game nap.  I got my pre-game roast on.  I'm bringing a Chicken Pot Pie for my dish (if you click on the link, I'm going the Betty Crocker version tonight, it's the tastiest and please don't judge me for the horrible pictures).
I got to talk to my friend who lives a long way way for awhile today.  That's always fun.  The kids yell and scream while I try to carry on a conversation.  I bribe them with candy to buy me a couple more minutes.

They're having a lunch of pizza and popcorn while they listen to Alvin and the Chipmunks radio on Pandora.  Why did I let them talk me into creating that station again?  Oh yeah, I'm nuts, that's why.

You know it's Monday and that laundry is whirling away.  I almost had another Vanishing Load experience like last week, but I caught it just in the nick of time.

My Blogspot is different-is yours?  I played around with my page.  I wanted it to be easy to read.  Is the old version easier or is this?

Happy rainy Monday to you and yours.

Friday, December 2, 2011

An Unmade Bed

An unmade bed is the root of all evil. 

I don't know how the bed being unmade makes the newspaper stay on the floor by the chair, I just know it does. Why are we getting free subscriptions to the paper anyway? They hate us. Who are they anyway?

Look, more unmade beds.  It's virtually impossible for the little clothes to make it back on the hangers and I see why.  The beds are unmade and we are still getting free papers.

Something must be done to save the day.  First step of action-set the mood by lighting a candle.  Second step of action-turn on some tunes.

Third step of action-set the timer.  30 minutes should do the trick to keep me focused.  The beds must be made.  The day must be saved.  The papers must be burned.

Prepare a quick gourmet lunch if you need to buy some time with the young en's.

And for the love of Pete, go make your bed.  Order will follow.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Martha Reviews

Martha's Sky High Apple Cranberry Pie was a hit.  It was so yummy.  We went the Pate Brisee route vs. a pre-made pie crust and I think it was well worth the effort.  Over 2 sticks of butter in this simple crust-yes please.  It was buttery and wonderful.

I recommend serving it A la mode.

The next thing I made was Martha's 6 layer Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake.  Um.  It didn't turn out so spectacular.  It tasted good, but lord have mercy, it really and truly took me over 3 hours to prepare.  It was very involved.

The most fun part of this cake was making the caramel.  Did you know to make caramel you add lots of sugar to a saucepan, a little corn syrup, a little water and you just let it hang out in the pan over high heat for about 14 minutes?  You don't stir it or anything.  I was excited to see if it really worked and sure enough, it starts breaking down into an amber syrup.  After 14 minutes you remove it from the heat to add heavy cream, then keep cooking.

Until it reaches precisely 238 degrees.  Very fun.

One of my pastry chefs helpers dug into one two of the layers while I had my back turned.  I cried.  Really.  I was over 2 hours into the process and it was frustrating.  There was no time or ingredients left for a redo, so we went with it.  I'd like to say this detour in the recipe is why we aptly named my version "The Earthquake Cake", but I also had a hand in the Earthquakeness quality of the finished product.

You know that part of the recipe where it says cut off the top layer so everything will lay flat?  I just couldn't do it.  Wasted cake, are you kidding me?  Well.  Martha was right.  I should've listened.  That puppy split right down the middle.  You know what they say though, "When life hands you lemons stick candles in them."  





Monday, November 21, 2011

Cooking This Week

Last night I settled onto the couch under my blanket.  Football game on, special lighting lit (don't want to say too much in case you feel strongly about not having twinkly lights turned on before you eat the turkey), and my cookbooks in hand.  The list is made for the week and I hope you can come join us because the menu is smokin' hot.

First on the list, Martha's Sky High Cranberry Apple Pie.  5 POUNDS of apples.  That sounds like a fine start to me.  The jury's still out on if I'm going to make my own Pate Brisee or if I'm just going to let Pillsbury make my crusts.
For Thankgiving, I'm going to see if I can sweet talk my friend Tiffny into sharing her Stuffed French Toast recipe.  Man oh day is it melt in your mouth delish, and it smells amazing baking.  Yes, baked Stuffed French Toast, that's what I'm talking about.  I'm pretty sure this is our new Thanksgiving breakfast.  Hopefully I'll get to share the recipe with you later this week.  Stuffed French Toast and a parade sound like the perfect combination to me.

Rachel Ray's Broken Spaghetti and Mini Meatball Stoup will be making an appearance on our table.

And last but not least, oh, the cake that from the moment I saw it knew I'd have to tackle one day, Martha's 6 Layer Salted Caramel Cake.  Shut up, I know.

Cheers to pants with elastic waists!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Laundry Monster

This first picture has nothing to do with The Laundry Monster, but did you see the moon this weekend?  It was spectacular!
Every Monday is my day to tackle The Laundry Monster.  I rebelled against the idea of having a designated day for certain chores for a really long time.  The idea felt restrictive to me and my free spirit self.  But then I was reminded of the definition of insanity-doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Not having a system was yielding me one result-the laundry was always out of control, unmanageable and a source of frustration.
At first, having a certain day of the week (for me, Monday) to do laundry was not easy.  It did not come natural.  But, by the 3rd week of tackling the main load of laundry on Monday I began to notice some things.

For starters, Monday rolls around each and every week.  Like clockwork.  It has become routine.  I don't even have to think about it any more.  At my house, when Monday morning rolls around, I unearth the hamper, sort into piles and get the hot water and good times rolling.

My laundry is always kept manageable.  For me, Friday mornings are also a mini-laundry morning.  For you, every day may have at least a load or two in it's horizon.  Having a day or time to do the main laundry is helpful.  If you try it for a few weeks, I think you'll like the change of having the mound kept at bay.

This morning I awoke to 9 loads waiting on me after a weekend of camping.  By camping of course I mean I slept in a cabin while my boys slept in a bat cave, but whatever, potato, patotoe.  Knowing my routine allowed me to jump in with a cheerful heart and get things going.

Do you know that this last picture means?  It's our little signal that someone has already put in the fabric softener.   At our house, if you put in the fabric softener, you leave the jug on top of the washing machine so we know it's been taken care of.  I know, sheer genius, what can I say?