Wednesday, December 31, 2008
"Can you identify a single word that sums up what you want for yourself in 2009?
It can be something tangible or intangible. It could be a thought or a feeling or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you. This is not your mother's word or your spouse's word or your child's word - this is YOUR word."
So, my word for 2009 is simplify. I wish to simplify the way I think, the way I act, the way I serve, the way I work. I want to do my best, but not over complicate or overwhelm myself. As a classic Type-A personality, this may be challenging for a while. But I'm putting my word in all those places I see everyday, knowing that a little bit at a time, I can let go of the chaos and live my life more simply, and more fully.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Look what I just found. I really had no idea that Josh belonged in the Fisher-Price bin, but it's just proof that we really just consider the little guy a toy at out house. I'll be more specific next time I ask the big kids to straighten up the basement.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Tony and the kids finding their "ch'i" over our family's traditional Christmas Eve Chinese take-out dinner...
...enjoying our white chocolate Christmas bears we receive from my Grandma Cranney each year...
...setting out fudge and cookies (Sam decided that Santa wanted white chocolate macadamia nut cookies this year) for Santa and carrots for the reindeer after we read The Tale of Three Trees and the Nativity story in Luke 2...
We have received lots of counsel about simplifying our lives, our church service and our homes this past year, and we took this advice as well as the advice of Elder Oaks to heart. Since we will be seeing much of our family in January and Megs is in Utah this Christmas, it was just our family so we scaled WAY back on gifts for each other and the kids. At first, I was a little worried about how they would react, but they didn't even notice the difference. But Tony and I did. We spent more time resting, playing our new games and enjoying the kids than ever before. It also helped us keep Christ in Christmas this year.
Anna with her treasure box of new Barbie clothes....
...Sam and Tony reading about rain forests...
...and Josh demanding to wear a pair of his new socks from grandma OVER his footie pajamas. In between begging for us to unwrap a mini peanut butter cup for him, that is.
Then last night, Tony and I met up with our good friends Troy and Kristi at Mahoney state Park for dinner and a play. It was so fun to get to visit over dinner and dessert and we laughed ourselves silly at "Every Christmas Story Ever Told." It was such a fun evening.
It seems like the Christmas season went really quickly this year...so quickly that I plan on leaving the tree up until the kids go back to school. Just because.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Please enjoy your week and I'll catch everyone later with our Christmas highlights.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Who said you had to wear red and green to a Christmas party?
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
...neighbor gifts are done and waiting to be given...
...Christmas cards are arriving from dear family and friends...
...and we woke up to a beautiful blanket of snow.
It really is the most wonderful time of the year!
Monday, December 15, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Tony was in need of some gifts for the families he visits for church so Anna and I spent some time this afternoon hand-dipping pretzels in chocolate! In addition, the white ones got a dusting of red sugar sprinkles and the chocolate ones got a dusting of green sugar sprinkles, courtesy of Miss Anna. I packaged them each separately with a coordinating ribbon and placed one of each into a red felt gift bag I scored in the $1 Spot at Target. I love the way they turned out.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
From the left, I made Jeni's Graham Cracker Brittle, Winter Crunch Bark, Chocolate Macaroon Bars, and my yummy Wassail kept warm in my STUNNING new birthday crock pot. (You know you're getting "old" when you ask for, and actually get, a crock pot for your birthday.) Here are the recipes:
Winter Crunch Bark (Pampered Chef)
1 pkg. (20 oz.) vanilla or chocolate flavored almond bark
3/4 cup walnuts
3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
2 cups rice crispies
Line 9"x13" pan with wax paper, allowing extra to extend over edges of pan. Coarsely chop walnut. Place 1/2 of nuts, 1/2 of cranberries and all of rice crispies in a bowl and set aside. In another large bowl, melt almond bark in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. When smooth, stir into walnut/cranberry/rice crispies mixture and mix well. Pour into prepared 9"x13" pan and immediately sprinkle remaining walnuts and cranberries on top and press into bark mixture. Allow to stand for 30-40 minutes or until set. Using the wax paper, pull bark out of pan and break into 2 inch pieces. **You can substitute cranberries and walnuts with 3/4 cup macadamia nuts and 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted lightly in the oven.)
Chocolate Macaroon Bars (Pampered Chef **the original recipe used a pizza stone...I used my bar pan instead.)
1 pkg. fudge brownie mix (plus ingredients to make brownies)
2 egg whites
1 pkg. (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 pkg. (14 0z.) sweetened flaked coconut
1 pkg. (2.25 oz.) sliced almonds
2 Tbsp. (1 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Pour batter into bar pan. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until brownie is set. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Remove to cooling rack. In a bowl, combine egg whites, coconut, and sweetened condensed milk. Spread coconut mixture over top of brownie to within 1/4" of edges. Sprinkle with almonds. Return to oven and bake 20-25 minutes or until edges of coconut are deep golden brown. Remove to cooling rack. Place chocolate and oil in small microwaveable bowl and melt, stirring every 15 seconds. Drizzle chocolate over bars. Cut into bars.
Hot Wassail Mix
2 cups Tang
1 (3 oz.) pack presweetened lemonade koolaid
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
Mix and store in an airtight container. Use 3/4 tsp. mix with 1 cup of apple juice for an individual serving or 6 Tbsp. for each 64 ounces of apple juice.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Anna: "Mommy, do you know how a dinosaur makes a taco?"
I, of course, answered in the negative.
Anna: Well, the Tyrannosaurus takes a big taco shell, puts in a human, adds a little cheese and eats it. Easy!
I don't know about you, but I'd like mine with a side of guac.
**Holly took this picture of Anna this weekend in between family photo shoots.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Sorry for using your gift as an example, Sarah. Just act surprised when it comes!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
This is our Anna at about 2 1/2, the morning she decided to put her Dora "big girls" on all by herself. That is Joan trying to reach in to fix the twist...Tony was deployed in Baghdad and she had come up to keep us company.
Play along if you'd like and have a great Thursday!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Part of the lesson encouraged the members of our family to look for the symbols of Christmas in the world around them and remember how these things can remind us of Christ. This morning on the way to school, Sam saw a wreath and shared it's meaning.
**For more ways to help your family to have a Christ-centered Christmas, please visit Tip Junkie's Talk To Me Tuesday!
Monday, December 1, 2008
And here are the gifts we came up with this month for the ladies we visit teach. I'm a sucker for stretch gloves so I got a few pairs from the $1 bin at Target and placed them with some silver shred, a couple packets of Stephen's hot chocolate and some truffles in a big cafe mug. Wrapped them all up in cellophane and attached a little tag that I dry embossed "Cold Hands, Warm Heart" on. A little silver sparkle ink along the edges and a snowflake brad and we are ready to go for the holidays!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
We spend much of the afternoon decorating our home for Christmas. And for the first year I have relinquished control of the actual decorating of the Christmas tree. Needless to say, there is a bit of "bunching"... As I unwrapped the angels that go on our big Christmas tree, the kids came and held out their little index fingers for my to hang an ornament on. They would then pick a spot on the tree to hang it up on. Even Josh got into the action, and there was nothing cuter than seeing him come walking up to me with his little finger extended, going over to the tree, plopping down and hanging the angels on the lowest bough.
And you know, our tree has never looked more beautiful.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
And have a wonderful, safe Thanksgiving tomorrow!! Megs is up and we're starting the pies and rolls this afternoon. I also had another doctor appointment today and got better meds for my poor ear infection. So things are looking very bright, indeed!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
And in other "m" news, Lemon Annie has been spotlighting cool Christmas tree decorating ideas and one of these was using miscellaneous letters to decorate a tree. We all know how I feel about "m"s and I get a lot of them as gifts. So I dug out all my hanging "m"s and made a few more with frame ornaments with rub-on "m"s applied in the window and added some cool aqua blue ball ornaments. It turned out pretty cool! Now, I have to figure out where to hide it until after Thanksgiving so Tony won't give me a hard time...
Monday, November 24, 2008
As for the rest of the weekend? Challenging to say the least. I ended up going to the doctor on Friday and got some antibiotics for an ear infection that seems to not want to die! Here it is Monday and I still have so much pressure in my ear that I can barely hear. Yuck. I was crazy enough to try and run the Turkey Trot anyway, even though I felt like crud, and my performance showed it. I ran it in my regular training time, but didn't reach my goal. But there's a race next month, so I'll have another chance soon to show the track who's boss.
And in other news, I went to the Friday night showing of Twilight with a bunch of girlfriends. We had a wonderful time, but I'd only give the movie a solid C+. I probably would have been generous and given it a B- except for having to endure all the teenage girl squeals every time Edward came on the screen. Ack. Were we ever like that??
I think not.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Love these! How do you find time for all your projects? Thanks for the giveaway and all the fun posts.
November 20, 2008 11:59 AM
Tony and I are off to run in a Turkey Trot this morning...wish us luck!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
American Tin Star
Country Style Home There are several pages of stars on this site, including smaller ones.
I had a request for a tutorial on how to cover barn stars with paper. So here we go! If you click on the photos, they will pop-up bigger. If something isn't clear, just leave me a comment and I'll do my best to answer it.
1. Make a template of one of the sides of your star's legs. The more carefully you do this step, the easier your star will be.
2. From assorted paper, cut 10 of your templates. But make sure you do five of each direction for a total of ten. This is the hardest part...I always lay my paper out so I get the right order and the right direction out of each paper piece.
3. Next, apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to the star with a foam brush (I used matte on this project) and place a piece of the paper on the star. It is more important that the edge along the creases of the star match...we can trim the overhang a little later. The thinner you apply the Mod Podge, the quicker you need to work and the less bubbles you'll have to work out. Press the paper nice and flat. Then apply another layer of Mod Podge on top of the paper you just placed on your star. Continue on all sides of the star. Allow to dry.
4. Cut the extra paper off along all the outside edges of your star and apply another coat of Mod Podge focusing on the new edges you just created, and allow to dry.
5. When the star is dry, lightly sand along all the outside edges to make them nice and smooth and to take off any extra paper you couldn't get close enough to trim with scissors. Don't worry if the paper turns white along the edge you sanded...we'll be fixing that in the next step.
6. Using a sponge and some ink of your choice (I used Distress Ink in Brushed Corduroy) apply ink to ALL edges of the star, even in crease and anywhere two different papers meet. This will help camouflage any little mess-ups and give the star a little character. When you are happy with the way your star looks, apply one last coat of Mod Podge to seal everything.
7. When your star is dry, add some tulle or ribbon to hang and you have a paper-covered barn star!!
Can you believe that this is my 300th post?? So to celebrate, I'm having a little giveaway. Leave a comment on this post between now and Saturday morning and my non-partial 5-year-old will pick a name out of a hat to win a set of three mini-barn stars to hang on your Christmas tree or to give as gifts. And if you want to press your luck, my sister April is having a giveaway on her blog. Good luck!!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
And remember our Halloween stars? Well, we have all gone a little star crazy around here. This past weekend, I found a killer deal on a big barn star at Gordmans and covered it in Rusty Pickle paper. I love the way it looks against my red front door.
Stay tuned...I have some others projects in the works that I will be sharing soon!
Monday, November 17, 2008
On our morning carpool to take Sam and Miss Ashley to school today, we were excited to ask Ashley all about her trip to visit her daddy this past weekend, who is working at a rural hospital for the next few weeks. They left during the school day so Ashley missed the last half of the Kindergarten on Friday. She told us all about the fun things they did and how she was actually going to miss school today, too, but her mom drove back last night so that she could go today, and not miss art.
Me: Ashley, that was so nice of your mommy!
Ashley: Yeah, I really like school. (LONG PAUSE). Almost more than I like my parents.
I'm sure Liz will be glad to know it.
Have a good Monday!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
8 Favorite TV Shows:
1. Law & Order
2. The Office
3. Grey's Anatomy
4. Law & Order: SVU
5. The Amazing Race
6. Survivor (I'm a die-hard)
7. The Biggest Loser
8. Dancing with the Stars
8 Favorite Restaurants
1. Simon & Seaforts
2. PF Changs
3. Cafe Rio
4. Red Lobster
6. Panera Bread
8 things I did Yesterday:
2. Swam with Anna's preschool class
3. Worked on Christmas presents
4. Stayed awake until Tony flew home from Louisiana
5. Did 3 loads of laundry
6. Finally finished The Three Musketeers
7. Watched all my shows I missed on Thursday night while I ran
8. Bought Sam new boots for his first deer hunting trip
8 Things I look forward to:
1. Thanksgiving stuffing
2. The first snowfall
3. Starting a new book tonight
4. A new week
5. My kids wakey-uppey faces in the morning
6. Time to work on my DC scrapbook
7. Wearing my new Steve Madden shoes to church on Sunday
8. Sam's baptism
8 things I love about fall
1. Go Big Red
2. Flannel sheets
4. Hot chocolate
5. Changing leaves
7. Blankets and movies in the basement
8. My birthday
8 things on my wish list
1. Happy kids
2. An extra 5 hours in a day
3. A week in Hawaii
4. A double-sized crock-pot. Seriously.
5. Two more hands
6. That my kids would grow up slower
7. A spring form pan
8. World peace
Have a good Sunday everyone!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
It turned out lovely...not perfect...but lovely. I can't wait to meet my new little niece. We love you guys!
Monday, November 10, 2008
Here are the quotes we used:
"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude."--Cynthia Ozick
"Our ordinary mind always tries to persuade us that we are nothing but acorns and that our greatest happiness will be to become bigger, fatter, shinier acorns. Our faith gives us knowledge of something better: that we can become oak trees.'
Sunday, November 9, 2008
This was the first time I have seen the WWII Memorial. A fitting reminder of "The Greatest Generation."
As I approached the Vietnam Wall, I saw two men, pacing back and forth across the sidewalk that leads to the Memorial. Heads down. Obviously working through their minds and hearts, trying to decide whether to take that step. I can only imagine the pain of these men, visitng a place dedicated to such misery and loss. This is the only picture of me I have from the trip...reflected in the wall.
Then the Lincoln Memorial. They were setting up a huge placard out in front of the Lincoln Memorial Wednesday for visitors to write messages to President-elect Obama near the spot where MLK delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech. Amazing.
Without a doubt, my favorite Memorial was the Korean War Memorial. It wasn't quite completed when I was in DC last, and it is even more powerful completed. On the ground, carved into the sidewalk, are these words: "Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met."
This is the WWI Rotunda.
I have just one complaint about this day...can they make it ANY harder to get to the FDR and Jefferson Memorials? After two false starts and a close call with a blue sedan, I finally made my way to the FDR Memorial. I must admit, I didn't know very much about FDR. Now I know that he was in his wheelchair for his entire 4 terms as President. I know his beloved dog was named Fala. And I know that this man was a crusader for liberty, democracy, peace and equal rights. I could have spent all day there reading the quotes of this great man carved into the walls of the Memorial.
And, ah, the elusive Jefferson Memorial. I finally got a good shot of it outside the FDR Memorial along the Tidal Basin. I never made it all the way over (the biggest regret of the trip), but I had to save something for the next visit. And now I know how to get there without getting squashed by DC traffic.
And just as a final note about my last day in DC. Yes, I was the ONLY nerdy adult who bought a Kids' Club Memorial Passport to stamp all the sites I visited along the way. And I even earned my nifty pin at the end. So there.