Monday, March 29, 2010


One of my children has been experiencing a lot of changes over the past nine months or so.  Change doesn't always come easily--for the person changing or the people around them.  Sometimes growing up is really hard.  My girls are over six years apart, so it has been a while since these books have been opened; but they are some of my favorites for dealing with changes.

Friday, March 26, 2010

March Madness

Remember these sweet girls...

Well, the Iowa State women's basketball team made it to the SWEET 16!!!

They beat Lehigh 79 - 42 in the first round, and Green Bay 60 - 56 in the second round.
Green Bay was a rough team for us... defense was tough and ISU had trouble hitting anything.  
Green Bay was ahead most of the game.  We would catch up and fall behind, over and over.

The girls fought so hard and pulled off the victory!!!
It was a victory made even sweeter, because it was such a tough game.

It is soooo fun to see your favorite team 
celebrating their sweet victory...

holding the sign that you and your daughters made!!!

Good luck this weekend girls!

ISU vs. UConn   Sunday, March 28, 11:00 am (central time) in Dayton, OH   ESPN

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Signs of Spring

Muddy shoes...this was only ONE of several pairs of muddy shoes I could have photographed:

Lazy dog laying in the sun:

Ryan's abandoned jacket:
(I'm sure he was planning to come back and get it later.  Yeah, right.)

Blooming crocus:

Does anything say hope more than a daffodil? I can't wait for them to bloom.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Slouchy Shoulder Sling Bags -- Spring Break Project

Spring break in Iowa and northern Missouri is rarely warm and sunny.  March, especially spring break week,  has become a time for me to get some sewing projects done.  It's a fun time to make things for spring and summer, while still being trapped inside due to cold and wet weather.

Ellyn wanted to make sling bags, so she found directions for an easy one online.  We bought our fabric before we left for Missouri, so we could work on the bags there.

We own a duplex in our home town of Chillicothe, MO and rent out one side of it.  The other side is our "vacation home".  It works well for us, since both sets of our parents are there, as well as my brother and his wife and two kids.  We don't have to drive all the relatives crazy by moving a family of six in with them when we're visiting.
The duplex is a great place to sew. The kitchen has a big peninsula that is perfect for cutting and ironing.

  The table is large and allows for plenty of space to spread out.

 I don't have nearly as much clutter to get in my way at the duplex; I also don't have as much work to do when we are there.

You can find the directions for the bag on the Tiny Happy blog by clicking here.

You need to buy 1 yard of fabric for the outside and 1 yard for the lining. (There was quite a bit of waste, which allowed extra for pockets.)  You could get by with 28 inches, instead of 1 yard, of 45" wide fabric, but this allows no extra length for the straps. (It would not allow it to be carried with the strap across the chest diagonally.)  We cut the straps extra long and made our final adjustments after trying them out.

They are basically reversible if you don't sew a button on the outside for a closure. I made mine (the green one) reversible and put pockets on both inside and outside.  A tie closure would work great on a reversible bag.  They were very fast, simple and we liked how they turned out--just my kind of project!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What We are Reading Right Now...

Spring break is upon us!  For me, that means I get a little extra reading done.  Here are some of the books being read by our family this spring break.  We hauled them around in our bags when we travelled to Missouri, and buried our noses in them while wearing our pj's...until noon one day. (ok, only I did that, and it was fabulous!)
Crazy Love by Francis Chan  -- Angie, Ellyn
This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly by Reinhart and Rogoff  -- Byron
Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond -- Angie
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell -- Ryan
The Young Oxford History of Britain & Ireland -- Ryan
The Kings and Queens of England by Ian Crofton (not pictured) -- Ryan

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers -- Ellyn, Angie
So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore -- Angie
The Age of Turbulence by Alan Greenspan -- Byron
Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham Jr. -- Byron, Angie

(Some family member's names are missing from this list, because some members of the family don't...           um...   well...     {whispering now}...they only read if they are forced to.)

UPDATE: I spoke too soon...when I got up this morning, Meggan was on the couch reading a stack of books.  Maybe there's still hope of her being a reader.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

More Muffins

I have three favorite muffin recipes.  The first two recipes I've shared already--pumpkin muffins and banana oatmeal muffins.

This is the remaining favorite muffin, and the one I've been making the longest.  I started making this recipe when Byron and I were first married, almost 24 years ago.  We lived in married housing at Iowa State University and baked them for breakfast every morning before heading out to class. It is really convenient, because you can leave the batter in the refrigerator for a long time. It makes a big batch, 4 dozen according to the recipe.  I usually get 3 1/2 dozen; I think I make them too large. 

I know these are not very healthy bran muffins.  I have done some adjustments to try to make them healthier, but I usually just make the recipe as I have for years.  (To make them healthier:  use 1/2 c. oil and 1/2+ c. applesauce, substitute wheat flour for half of the flour, and cut the sugar back to 2 1/2 c.)

Refrigerator Bran Muffins

1 c. Crisco or oil
3 c. sugar
4 eggs, well beaten
1 qt. buttermilk
5 c. flour
5 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
15 oz. pkg. bran cereal

1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cream oil, sugar, eggs and buttermilk.  Add dry ingredients and mix until moistened.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.  Sprinkle with topping.  Bake 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees.  Batter can be stored in refrigerator up to 6 weeks. Makes 4 dozen muffins.

Just remember to buy the buttermilk and bran flakes when you go to the grocery store.  For as many years as I've been making the muffins, these are two things I often forget to add to my list.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Inspirational Reading and Watching

Last night my neighborhood mom's Bible study group finished the book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. One of the final chapters of the book featured examples of Christian people who have lived out their lives fully surrendered to God.  Their individual stories are such an inspiration. They were all radical people who chose to love others (usually the poor) with Christ-like passion, and yet, they were everyday folks just like me. I found myself asking, "What am I going to choose to do?  How can I love the people around me?"

The discussion reminded me of some wonderful books and a movie that our family has enjoyed. These titles  encourage and inspire me to press on in my faith.  They help me to look for opportunities to serve and love others. They stir in me a desire to love others in a way that Jesus has poured out His love on me.

So I'd like to share these stories with you...

Last year I used a geography curriculum for homeschooling that included reading several books from the series Christian Heroes: Then and Now.  Finally, I was going to get some of these books read to my kids!  We studied different countries, the people groups of the individual areas, and then read books about the missionaries who served among the people on all the different continents.  (The curriculum was My Father's World Exploring Countries and Cultures, for any homeschoolers who are interested.)

This series of books has approximately 30 stories of great Christian heroes, but I have only read the ones shown in the picture below.  My favorite is the story of Nate Saint. In 1956, he was one of five young missionary men killed in South America by being speared by warriors of the tribe they were trying to reach with the message of Christ's love. One of the other missionaries was Jim Elliot, whose wife, Elisabeth Elliot has gone on the tell their story by writing the book "Through Gates of Splendor."  In 2006, the movie "End of the Spear" was released to tell the story on the big screen.

The story of Nate Saint and Jim Elliot is so powerful...
Before their encounter with members of the Waorani tribe, these men made a decision that they would not kill in order to keep from being killed themselves. They would not kill the people that they had come to share the message of Jesus with.  They knew that their own death would take them to heaven, but that the death of people who did not yet know Jesus would mean eternal suffering. 

Possibly the most amazing part of their story is that some of the wives of those missionaries, and Nate Saint's sister Rachel, went back to the Waorani tribe years after the men were killed. They taught them to turn from a life of revenge and murder and to embrace the forgiveness and love of Jesus.  Rachel Saint ended up living the rest of her life with the tribe and made them her family.  She translated the New Testament into their language and was buried in South America when she died in 1994. 
What an amazing story of how Christ can transform lives!

Can you guess which Christian Hero story I want to buy and read next?

Christian Heroes: Then and Now --  Rachel Saint: A Star in the Jungle

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ten Things That Make Me Happy

in no particular order

not including people...
who make me happier than anything else   : )

   1.   buttons
   2.   aprons
   3.   songs about sunshine
   4.   flowers
   5.   butterflies
   6.   good books
   7.   pretty dishes
   8.   my camera
   9.   music
  10.  birds and bird nests

"Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise."
James 5:13

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Smoothie a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

We have smoothies every morning for breakfast.  We have them with muffins, eggs, oatmeal, and cinnamon rolls.  Whatever we are eating for breakfast, we have a smoothie on the side.

The key to having good smoothies is having a good blender.  I love my Oster Fusion from Target.  It is the first blender I've had such a relationship with.  It is worthy of my love because it has a 6 cup glass jar, a 600 watt motor, and pre-programmed settings, which allows me to push a button and walk away--it shuts off when it's done.

These are so good and nutritious--a great way to start the day!

Fruit Smoothie
1 1/2 c. frozen blueberries (Sam's Club has big bags and the best price)
1 1/2 c. frozen strawberries (ditto)
1 c. strawberry yogurt
2 bananas
2-2 1/2 c. milk

This recipe fills my blender--approx. 6 cups.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Basketball Fun

We have a friend...

who happens to be a great basketball player,

which has made us more enthusiastic about basketball 
than we might otherwise be.

We all love Amanda... especially my daughters.

We love her whole family. They've been our friends and neighbors for more than six years.

Because of Amanda, we couldn't resist getting tickets for Iowa State University women's basketball this season.  It's her freshman year, and her years of hard work and dedication are really paying off.
We are so happy for her!

I grabbed my camera for one of the games a couple of weeks ago.  
It was a "pink out" for breast cancer awareness.  
Here's the family at the game:
It is so fun to take our kids to games at our school.

Iowa State women's basketball draws huge crowds, which is pretty unusual for women's teams.  
We watch the away games on television and can't believe how empty their auditoriums look.  
Hilton Coliseum gets really loud! It's a fun place to watch and play basketball.
They call it Hilton Magic!

Here's the ISU pep band and part of the student section:

Iowa State beat Baylor.  Here's the giant scoreboard to prove it:

Besides the fun we have had attending games,
we have enjoyed Sunday morning visitors a couple of times in February.
We got to sit down for breakfast with Annette (Amanda's mom), Amanda, Anna, and Whitney
for some post-game talk.
We talk about lots of things besides basketball...
things like ear lobe massages,
softball, and the Iowa State Fair. : )

They signed posters and sweatshirts for my girls:
Ellyn, Whitney, Amanda, Meggan, Anna

We had a short, impromptu music party after breakfast.
(Whitney, thank you for sharing your beautiful song.)

And a group hug with Meggan before they headed out:

We are really enjoying watching the Cyclone ladies this season, 
and look forward to watching these girls play for the rest of their college careers.
We are having so much fun and
 have made two new friends as well. (Hi Anna and Whitney!)

Thanks to all three of you for being great roll models for so many girls.


Dear Amanda, we are so proud of you.  
We don't love you because of basketball, 
we love basketball because of you!
We think you are a fabulous young woman.
It is so fun to make family memories with you.