Monday, November 29, 2010

A Glimpse at our Thanksgiving Weekend

 The neighbor's barn...hanging on for dear life!
Sweet toothless grin!

 Grandma read a great Thanksgiving story!
Mac...mackin' on mommy!
 Four Generations of Girls!
 Let the Christmas cheer begin!
 Our little happy meal!
Careful deliberation with the Christmas ornaments.
 All tuckered out!
 An afternoon with Mary Poppins!
 Where is that pickle???
 Hello Santa!
 *Everyone* is in the Christmas mood now!
Yep...everyone!

Can't wait to see all of your Christmas goodies and projects!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Hymn Story Worth Sharing

Cody shared the following hymn story from the Worship Matters blog in church this morning.  I thought it was particularly meaningful as many of us do lead ordinary, simple lives as stay-at-home moms.  We're not seeking great fame, nor will we probably ever achieve monumental things (although, potty training three kids feels close to monumental).  Yet, God in His greatness, can use the faithfulness of simple, ordinary people to bring great glory to Himself and produce fruit that we could never imagine....Simple Faith in a Faithful God.



The story behind Great is Thy Faithfulness should encourage every Christian who thinks of their life as ordinary. There’s no tragic story (like “It Is Well” by Horatio Spafford) associated with this hymn. It’s just the fruit of a faithful man with a simple faith in a faithful God.

Thomas Chisholm, who sometimes described himself as “just an old shoe,”  was born in a Kentucky log cabin in 1866. He was converted when he was 27, became a pastor at 36, but had to retire one year later due to poor health. He spent the majority of the rest of his life as a life insurance agent in New Jersey. He died in 1960 at the age of 93. During his life he wrote over 1200 poems, most of which no one will ever hear.

But back in 1923, at the “beyond his prime” age of 57, Thomas Chisholm sent a few of his poems to William Runyan at the Hope Publishing Company. One of them was Great is Thy Faithfulness, based on Lamentations 3:22-23    The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Runyan was particularly moved by Great is Thy Faithfulness and sought to set it to a melody that would reflect the response of wonder and gratefulness to God’s faithfulness conveyed in the lyrics. Apparently, he succeeded.

The song quickly became a favorite at Moody Bible Institute, and later George Beverly Shea sang it at Billy Graham Crusades. Now it’s known all over the world and has been used to encourage millions of Christians to trust in a faithful God.

Pretty impressive spiritual fruit from a life insurance agent.

When Chisholm was 75, he wrote in a letter:
“My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”

The hymn has three verses and a chorus. Verse 1 speaks of God’s faithfulness revealed  in his Word, and is adapted from James 1:17: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Verse 2 tells us of God’s faithfulness revealed in creation. The seasons,the sun, moon, and stars all continue on their courses perfectly, orderly, quietly - guided by God’s faithful hand, without any help from us.

Verse 3 reminds us of God’s faithfulness revealed in our lives. He pardons all our sins, fills us with his peace, assures of his presence, gives us strength, hope, and blessings too numerous to count!

Whatever challenges, trials, or disappointments you might be facing right now, this hymn reminds us that God’s promises are true, that he never changes, that his compassions never fail, and that his faithfulness to us in Christ Jesus is more than good—it’s GREAT!

God doesn’t need incredibly gifted or wildly famous people to proclaim those truths from his Word.

Just faithful ones.

To my dearest friends who heard me nervously chatter the words "200 frosted sugar cookies" repeatedly, more times than I'd care to admit...it's over.  

The fat lady has sung (literally, the Hallelujah chorus, in my dining room!).  
The delivery was made.

Thank you for still being my friends.  

You are the best long-suffering, caring friends in the world!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thrifty Thursday!

Thrifty Tip #49:  Don't throw away those broken crayons!  Save them for a fun, rainy day craft!

I found this idea from Homemade by Jill.  She's pretty much the most creative, crafty gal I've never met!   Her tutorial and crayons are much cooler looking than mine...but we try hard here!  You'll want to check out her whole blog for more super wonderful ideas!

 1.  Have your children peel all the paper off those broken, worn out crayons.

 2.  Place container in boiling water.  (Get nervous that it's going to tip over and hold on tight with your toast tongues.)
 3.  Wait for.ev.er. while the crayons melt.
 4.  Carefully pour hot wax into a chocolate mold!  (This was the brilliant part!  These molds come in all sorts of shapes and sizes!  Perfect for any occasion!)


5.  Not pictured...when it comes to the melting the next color:  Don't get confident and shaky at the same time.  You may end of dropping the green wax all over your counter top and stove.  Then you'll need to spend the next 30 minutes working and praying it all comes off before your husband gets home.  Not that it happened to me or anything...
 6.  Let the crayons cool overnight or chill in the frig.  The kids can easily pop these out of the mold.  It's the best part!
 Coloring CARS with cars was so much fun, we had to make a few more colors.
 A rainbow of speed-racing fun!
The boys loved it when I gave them a large piece of paper and they "raced" these all over it!
Fun crayon shapes would be perfect birthday party favors!
We wrapped these up for our little friend that moved away.

What do you do with your old crayons?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A new dish to try!

I love getting emails from Real Simple with great, easy meal recipes!

We tried this recipe last week.  Everyone loved it!  I did tweak a few things to fit our family.  My changes are in green.

Rigatoni With Roasted Sausage and Broccoli

1/2 pound rigatoni (1⁄2 box)  (1 box whole wheat penne pasta)
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets (1 large head of broccoli, cut)
1 small red onion, sliced  (I just had a yellow onion on hand)
3 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
1 pound Italian sausage links, casings removed and meat broken into 1-inch pieces (I used hot Italian turkey sausage--less than 1/4 of the fat!)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I would say this is completely optional)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1 ounce)

Directions

Heat oven to 400° F. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve ¾ cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
Meanwhile, on a rimmed baking sheet, toss the broccoli and onion with the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Nestle the sausage among the vegetables.
Roast, tossing once, until the broccoli is tender and the sausage is cooked through, 18 to 20 minutes.
Toss the pasta with the broccoli and sausage mixture, butter, and ½ cup of the reserved cooking water (add more if the pasta seems dry).
Sprinkle the pasta with Parmesan before serving.
I'm not sure what the qualifications of a Weight Watcher's meal are, but this meal was very low fat, super high in fiber, protein, and tons of vitamins!  We loved it!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Special Wedding!

For the last 8 months, Cody and I have been meeting with and discipling a young couple.

A while ago, God showed them that His best plan for their lives would not be for them to live together unmarried.

So this weekend, Cody married our sweet friends!

It was a small ceremony at their apartment with just our family and their parents.

I think it was one of the most special things to see God honored by their obedience!

We love Matt and Tabetha!  (and their cool new white Christmas tree!)
God also worked it out that I would be baking sugar cookie football helmets like a crazy woman, so the extra dough was quickly rolled, cut, baked, and frosted into wedding cakes!  I love how these cookies turned out, but somehow I found myself super emotional imagining the day Cloe would have a wedding cake!  Ah...I'm a sappy sentimental sally!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A GIVEAWAY!

Looking for a new cookware set or great bar tables and stools for the den? 

Check out Family Team’s blog for a great $45 giveaway to CSN Stores!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

BONUS::THRIFTY::THURSDAY::TIP

In the past, Michaels Craft Store and I have had a love/hate relationship.

I'm not super crafty, and I'm usually not super thrilled about taking my children to stand alone specialty stores with narrow aisles and colorful tempting-to-touch merchandise.

Those things, coupled with the fact that I could invariably *never* use Michaels coupons with the items I needed to buy, made me mostly avoid the store.

However, today, I knew I needed to make the dreaded stop and buy a few special items I needed for cookie making that I couldn't seem to find anywhere else.


I'm going to have to tell you, Michaels just blew me away today!

Every employee was beyond friendly.

The big item I needed was *not* on sale and could be bought with a coupon.

And ***bonus*** there was a coupon available at the counter for 20% off my entire purchase!

Here are a few of my fun purchases...I didn't think you needed to see the blah cookie items and I can't show you the big item.  Christmas is coming and there are some very nosy people that read this blog. (ahem, Mother & Father!)

These fun Christmassy things were in dollar bins.  We have an event called Homes of Lights coming soon at Willow Creek.  These are going in gift bags for my ladies! 
(Sorry about the picture...just turn your head to the right!)
These fun things will also go in gift bags for Homes of Light!
The coupon even applied to 80% off Halloween items!  Cheap! Cheap!

OUR BEST PURCHASE:  Model Biplane Kits!
 
These were only $1 as well, so we paid $ .80!!!
 The concentration level was very high.
 Painting neatly took a very.long.time.  (Yeah!)
 How to make an apron look many:  go shirtless.
 Ta-da!

So what are you waiting for?
Head to Michaels and score yourselves some great deals!
(now through Saturday, click here for a coupon)

What will you buy?

Thrifty Thursday!

Thrifty Tip #48:  Check out woot! for amazing daily deals!  Kids.woot! and shirt.woot! are more of their fun sites! 

Woot.com is an online store and community that focuses on selling cool stuff cheap.  It's one deal for one day, so you have to decide quickly and check back every day!

This is a surprise that came in the mail from Cody (via Woot!) last week:

A Breville Panini Press!
This Panini Press is $99 at Williams Sonoma but only $40 on Woot!

With Trader Joes opening just around the corner from us, we've found plenty of thrifty deals there, too.  Here are some of our favorite panini meals so far!
Pizza Pita Pockets (Mini Whole Wheat Pitas $1.49 for 14!)

 Slice pitas open in the middle.
Stuff with all your favorite pizza topping.
 Arrange in rows.  Don't worry if they are laying flat...it will happen!



Close the panini press.
Mmmm...hot, cheesy pizza pockets!

We also bought Trader Joes Artisan bread ($1.29) and enjoyed breakfast paninis!

What's your favorite kind of panini?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Blogging...

I keep thinking I'll have more time to spend blogging and reading, but then these beautiful days keep coming!  I'm not ready to give up the sunshine to stay inside quite yet!

We walked home from school with our neighbors yesterday.  
It was bittersweet to see our children enjoying each others' company so much as these neighbors will be moving in just a few short weeks.  
Why do the best neighbors always have to move?

(Cloe's classroom celebrated crazy dress day, so she'd went to school dressed pretty colorfully!)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pumpkins!

Ask not what your Pumpkin can do for you, 
ask what you can do for your pumpkin!

Oh, the elections are over?
My bad.
It seemed like the political ads would never end.
My boys were beginning to quote them.
It was exciting:
"Chuck Grassley's not just your senator, he's a farmer!"
"Mom, can we vote for Chuck Gwassley?"
 (Can you tell which ones we paid attention to?)

While many lobbied for politicians last week,
I worked for the pumpkins.
Our house smelled like fall!

 Pumpkin Gingerbread Muffins

1cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup expeller pressed canola oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin purée

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a miniature muffin pan with mini cupcake liners or spray and flour the pan using canola or olive oil cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flours, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and sugar. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, vanilla and pumpkin, then add to flour mixture and stir to combine.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes, or until done when tested with a toothpick. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then continue to cool on wire racks.

I glazed ours with a maple powdered sugar glaze.
Perfect with a cup a coffee!

Spiced Pumpkin Cake
(recipe from Real Simple) 

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for the pan
5 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (1 1⁄2 cups)
1/2 cup whole milk (I used egg nog!)
1/4 cup molasses
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium-high until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the pumpkin puree, milk, and molasses (the mixture may appear curdled). Reduce the mixer speed to low; gradually add the flour mixture and mix until just combined (do not overmix).
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
In a bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle over the cake. Let set before serving.


There you have it!
What pumpkin recipe of yours has your vote of confidence?
 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thrifty Thursday!

Thrifty Tip #47:  Check out Restaurant.com for money saving dining out gift certificates.

Date nights are important for any budding couple, but I'd have to say, date nights are ESSENTIAL for ALL married couples.  It's so important to have time together to connect and share special times...apart from the children! 
Here's a common problem for married people with children:  lack of date funding.  Restaurant.com has come to our rescue several times with awesome deals on restaurant gift certificates.  Watch their website; often $25 gift certificates will sell for $1-$5!  There are usually strings attached, so check those before buying.
Plan a date night...and have fun!

What's your favorite date night activity out on the town?