Friday, December 31, 2010

Quick Supper Recipe

I love a quick supper recipe. As a matter of fact, that's how I cook 90% of the time.
I like to keep the ingredients for this chicken recipe on hand, so that I can use it as a last minute supper. I try to keep a loaf of French bread in the freezer and cans of chicken breast in the pantry (for a shortcut, if I don't want to cook chicken). I leave out the green onion and fresh chopped tomato sometimes, if I don't have them.

Chicken Hero Sandwich

mix together:
4 c. diced, cooked chicken
1 (8 oz.) can water chestnuts
3/4 c. mayonnaise
4 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt
5-6 drops Tabasco sauce
5 green onions, including tops
1 c. chopped tomato

1 loaf French bread, split lengthwise
2 c. shredded Co-Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice bread lengthwise and place on a baking sheet.
Mix ingredients together, spread over the French bread and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake until cheese is bubbly and light brown, approximately 10 minutes.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Austin!

Today is my favorite nephew's birthday! He is a great kid who likes to hunt and watch football. We don't usually get to celebrate his birthday with him, since we have just been there for Christmas.
We wish we could party with you today, Austin! Have a great day!

Happy 11th Birthday!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

We have visitors...

We love having visitors at our house--especially these two:

My mother and Digger (who is our dog's litter mate) came to visit for a couple of days. We have had so much fun crafting and shopping for crafting supplies, looking at pictures, hanging out and relaxing (except for all the extra barking).

But who couldn't love this bunch of goodness?

Ellyn is in doggy heaven, because the two pooches follow her around everywhere:

Ryan and Meggan had fun making us fresh squeezed orange juice with the juicer from my mom's house:

We said goodbye today and made some fun memories the past couple of days!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Post-Christmas post

We had a wonderful time with our families celebrating Christmas. I didn't end up getting any pictures of the time with Byron's side of the family, but I got some fun shots of the time we spent with my side.

What greater thing is there for human souls
than to feel that they are joined for life--
to be with each other in silent upspeakable memories.
George Eliot

Christmas eve--we made a couple of pots of soup and played cards. It was a fun evening!

Some people passed on the card game and read their books instead:

Christmas morning, before the chaos--love, love, love these guys!

We drove home on Monday with beautiful hoar frost for our eyes to behold:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Carson family

Years ago, we anticipated the birth of a son. I was so excited for him to come
and can not imagine what Mary must have felt like while she waited for
the birth of Jesus--the Savior of the world!
Join us today in celebrating the most wonderful birth of all time!
Happy birthday Jesus!

We sent out this card in 1998, after Ryan was born.
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's a wrap!

I am finished wrapping gifts! I even had time to play a little with making pretty packages, which is almost as fun as crafting.  I love making them pretty, especially now that I have the right supplies.  A couple of years ago, I realized why I struggled to pull together a cute "look" on my packages and tags. My gift wrapping never measured up to my expectations, and my stamped gift tags never seemed to coordinate.
So I came up with a plan...

1. I chose a color scheme to stick with for a LONG time--red, cream/white, brown
2. I purged everything that did not fit the new color scheme by donating it to my local clothes pantry.
3. I purchased a roll of brown paper from Lowes*, some white and kraft gift bags in various sizes,  and a few rolls of gift wrap in the new color scheme.

* the brown paper from Lowes is pretty heavy and isn't as easy to work with as normal gift wrap

For birthdays, I use the same supplies, except I added a package of solid colored gift bags in a variety of colors and colored tissue paper. I coordinate yarn or ribbon and homemade gift tags to finish off the look.

Things work together much better now:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tag Fun

I tagged my kids' gifts in code this year:

I printed these cute number tags on cardstock, cut them out, and attached them to their gifts.
Maybe they won't know which gifts to shake! : )

Here is the fun, free download:

Holiday Band Concerts

All four of our kids are in band this year. We had two holiday band concerts to attend. This will be the only year to hear all four of them at band concerts, since Brandon is a senior.
I wish they had kept out their instruments for the picture, but I didn't catch them in time.
Brandon plays trumpet, Ellyn plays saxophone.

Meggan plays trumpet, Ryan plays clarinet.

Monday, December 20, 2010

What does Jesus want for Christmas?

Have you ever thought about what Jesus would want for Christmas?
Jesus wants us to be His hands and feet. He wants us to LOVE those around us--in our schools, towns, our world! During the Christmas season, I try to think of gifts my family can give to Jesus. In other words, what can we do to love someone around us.

A few years ago, I realized that a lot of students who have breakfast and lunch provided at school might be without food during Christmas break (as well as spring break). We have a wonderful contact person at our school who knows the needs of many students and families in our community. I wish every town could have a gal like her. She gives us a little information on a few families who could really use some groceries, like the ages and number of kids, etc. A day or two before school lets out, we take an evening for our family to make a big grocery store run. We get a couple of shopping carts and our kids help make the decisions of what we could provide for the families. We try to make it nutritious, but also convenient and kid-friendly. (Sometimes I bake cookies before the shopping trip. We take a jug of milk and the cookies and drive around to see Christmas lights after we finish shopping.) When we get the groceries home, I box them up and drop them at the school to go to the families when school lets out for Christmas break. The families pick them up at the school or someone delivers them to their homes. Our contact lady usually delivers for us, since she already knows the families.

I love helping my kids realize ways they can help someone else. I love how our family becomes aware of our blessings and how God has provided all we need and more. The simple, mundane act of grocery shopping can become a labor of love.  These boxes of groceries become our offering--our gift to the Child. 

Dear Jesus, show me ways to love You more. Show me how I can be Your hands and feet. Thank You for coming to Earth so selflessly, knowing what Your time here would bring. Thank you for changing my life and help me show someone else Your amazing love.

Have you thought of Your gift for the Child?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Our Christmas Card

This year's greetings to friends and family were sent out this week.
This is the picture we mailed out:
(Just keeping it real with the photo strip across the top--it took two sessions with a friend taking the pictures to get a picture we could use. The dog behaved perfectly...that's all I'm going to say about behavior.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Around the House-Christmas

We've been decking the halls at my house. This is a busy time of year, but probably my favorite in spite of the busyness. I love the music, decorating, crafting homemade gifts, baking, etc. (shopping...not so much).
I like to take pictures of the house each December to remember how I "decked the halls."

my front porch:
I'm trying fresh garland for the first time. I'm very happy with the look, but not sure it will stay fresh long enough to suit me.

Just inside the front door:

We cut a real tree at a local tree farm every year:

fireplace in our bedroom:

fake tree--LOVE that it's prelit!

In the kitchen, my grandma's ceramic tree. I was always obsessed with this tree as a child. She probably told me every year of my childhood to not play with the colorful little bulbs, so they wouldn't get lost. (I still love to play with them!)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snuggle In -- snow storm!

I woke up and saw this today:

I was excited, because we have an uneventful weekend and will stay home.
 and make cinnamon rolls...
and wrap gifts...
and listen to Christmas music...
and make crafty things...

And I think we will have a white Christmas.
(I'm pretty sure I just heard jingle bells.)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

For my project night last Friday night, I tried this new recipe. We gave it a thumbs up--yummy and very easy!

one chocolate cake mix (plus the eggs, water, and oil)
refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough (already divided into 24 chunks)
cupcake liners

Mix the chocolate cake mix according to the directions on the box.
Place cupcake liners in muffin tins (makes 24 cupcakes).
Pour equal amounts of cake batter into each cupcake liner and put a chunk of cookie dough into the top of each cupcake. The dough was exposed, but disappeared as they baked.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the cake portion comes out clean.

We ate them without frosting and they tasted great. I think frosting would have made them prettier, but might have been CHOCOLATE OVERLOAD!  Yummy!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Project Night

Several years ago, my evening Bible study group decided to have a project night at the end of November. Someone had the idea to use our last meeting to work on addressing Christmas cards together before we took a long holiday break. It really forced me to get everything in order regarding the Christmas cards/picture that I was planning to send to family and friends. Having this project done early completely changed the nature of the month of December for me. Before this time, I had spent hours in December trying to get the picture taken and printed, then get the envelopes addressed and stamped, and finally get them out the door and crossed off my list. This all took so long that it made December extra busy and used time that could have been spent on other things. I spent days worrying about getting the cards done. Our project night helped me change my ways and be able enjoy the season--I vowed to never go back to my old ways!

To make sure I prioritize getting the cards out earlier, I make a note on my November calender each year to buy my postage stamps, print or order address labels, and figure out what envelopes I will be using. I update any addresses that have changed over the past year and print out my address list. I gather everything in a basket, so it is ready to go.  Even if my picture isn't taken yet, I can get a great head start on the project by having the envelopes ready. I have even asked for the envelopes that will come with my photo cards before I have the card printed, in order to start addressing them early--the store managers have been very cooperative in allowing me to take them.

Last Monday I invited friends over for a project night to be held Friday night. Setting the date really pushed me to get my photo card printed, my postage stamps purchased and my address list updated. We gathered around my table after supper last night. Some friends made homemade gift tags, another friend copied some recipes, and I got my envelopes stamped, addressed, and stuffed. We ate chocolate, listened to music, and laughed and told stories. I love having a chance to spend an evening with other moms. I highly recommend "project night"--it is a tradition I plan to continue for many years.