Saturday, December 29, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

This is the card that we sent out:

You'll have to use your imagination, since it was a tri-fold design it doesn't display very well on a blog.

I am seriously amazed that it got finished and in the mail.
(Thank you to a family friend of my teenagers who gave a day to help me wrap gifts, clean, and finish the card before we headed back to Missouri to be with my father-in-law.  You're such a dear, Maggie, and this card would not have happened if it weren't for you.)

Hope you all had a merry Christmas with extra time spent with your loved ones!

Friday, December 28, 2012

December Goodbye

I'd like to offer a quick explanation for my absence...
my father-in-law lost his battle with cancer and passed away on Dec. 16th.
We are grateful for the time we had to say goodbye and the extra weeks beyond what the doctors predicted. We are grateful for the years together before he was diagnosed--especially that each of my kids had a chance to know him well. I don't remember either of my grandfathers, so it is so special to me that my kids have had great relationships with theirs. They will never forget the memories they have with him. We are grateful that his last days passed quietly and that he seemed comfortable.

Some of my favorite pictures from this year:

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Craftiness

I found this free Christmas printable on Pinterest from the blog My Fabuless Life.
I love it framed in my kitchen. So, print, frame.

When I first started reading Meg Duerksen's blog Whatever, I fell in love with her beautiful old home and her unique Christmas decorations.
I especially liked this idea:

I found some adorable mini flashcards to download on Etsy at The Old Design Shop
I made my own version, minus the lovely frame that Meg Duerksen used.
I may or may not have bought multiple sets of these--love them!
The whole sheet prints on 8.5x11.

I found these digital vintage flashcards at Designer Digitals a couple of years ago, and use them to decorate with as well. They are larger than the ones above. There are several different sets available.

My most recent project (also seen via Pinterest) was a ruffled tree skirt.
Here's a picture of the one I made... almost finished. (It looks fabulous under the tree!)

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Last day of November

I am glad to see this month go. Sometimes November can feel so desolate.
Not that I couldn't find reason to give thanks. There are many blessings in my life that I am so grateful for; but the honest truth is that the thought of counting my blessings this month made my mind stray to the things I am so sad about.
The things I struggle to understand and accept.
The things I am not thankful for.

I read in scripture to "give thanks in all circumstances" and I will choose to do so. (It says IN, not FOR...right?)  However, it does not come naturally to me.

Weighing heavy on my heart...
our fathers' failing health--one's mind is failing, the other's body is failing
a friend who has cancer--with three children and a wonderful husband who still need her
a friend who just lost her husband in a terrible tractor accident--how does a mother with four young daughters go on?

I am grateful for this verse that I have prayed, cried, whispered, memorized, printed, shouted, and shared:
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

The hope I have is in Christ...the promise of joy to come to those who know and put their trust in the work He did on the cross.

Pray with me, a prayer that December helps us all turn our hearts to Him.

That we can anticipate His coming and rejoice in a Savior.

That I can be a LIGHT in a dark world, and share a bit of Jesus in my words and love towards others. "That I may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Five--November news

1. A few weekends ago Brandon, Ryan and Meggan went to Missouri for youth deer season. Ryan and Meg were hunting for the first time, and Ryan killed a doe. It was fun to get to see a picture of the boys together with Ryan's first deer shortly after it was killed. (We weren't in the same state--love phone cameras and texting!)
Earlier this week, Meggan had a chance to get her deer--with Brandon again. He is earning major big brother brownie points!

2. A couple of weeks ago, we went to Ellyn's senior football banquet. She is sad to say goodbye to Ballard football. She has made so many great memories working on the sidelines as a manager and cheering from the stands with friends.

Then & Now (first game 7th grade and  last game 12th grade)
3. Ryan made honor band and recently had the performance. It was a great concert of 7th and 8th graders. He spent a lot of time preparing for the audition and learning the music. We're really proud of him for putting in the time it required. (Shame on me for not taking my camera!)

4. We have had several evenings this month to take care of our native friends while their mom worked.
This little girl just couldn't stay awake any longer...

5.  We had the last of the 4 fall birthdays--Brandon turned 20. It's a busy time of year with four birthdays within 3 weeks, but it's fun to combine celebrations. We took him to Hickory Park for the traditional bbq/ice cream family meal and bought him a tool box for his truck. We spent part of his birthday weekend doing fall clean-up in the garden, yard, and garage--so nice that he never minds helping outside with yard work.

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, I am actually looking forward to dragging out the Christmas decorations this weekend--I've been ready to start for a couple of weeks. I can finally play my Christmas music without being hassled...then again, probably not.
Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

For the Love of Bread

Are you gathering your Thanksgiving dinner recipes? Don't forget the bread!

My recipes are easier to gather since I made my Thanksgiving dinner recipe book a couple of years ago.

My two favorite bread recipes would be perfect (and easy!) for your Thanksgiving dinner.
 One is old (one of my mom's favorites) and one is new (added to my recipe book last week).

Mom's No-knead Refrigerator Rolls
*allow minimum of 2 hrs 15 min before serving

In a large bowl stir together until dissolved:
2 pkgs. dry yeast
2 c. warm water

Add and stir into yeast mixture:
1/2 c. sugar
2 t. salt
3-4 c. flour

Add and stir into flour mixture:
1 egg
1/4 c. oil

Stir in 2-3 c. more flour. Dough should be slightly sticky.

Form the rolls 2 hours before baking.
Cover with a towel and let rise till double (approx. 1 hr. 45 min.)
Bake 12 minutes at 400 degrees. Makes 48 rolls.

This dough can be made a day ahead and refrigerated until ready to use. Cover the bowl with a towel and punch down the dough when necessary.  I mix it in the bowl I want to store in the refrigerator. Take it out and shape the rolls whenever you're ready. I have used this dough for cinnamon rolls and crescent rolls, but I usually cut it into equal pieces with a pair of scissors and make rows in a cake pan with the balls of dough.


This honey wheat bread is from one of my favorite bloggers, Edie at Life in Grace. The first time I made it, I made another batch later the same day! Edie posted a video and very thorough directions for making the bread. She explains it in a way that is very easy to understand if you've never made bread before.

Honey Wheat Bread --makes 2 loaves
* allow minimum of 2.5 hrs before serving 
In Kitchen Aid mixer:
2 c. warm water
 1/3 c. oil
1/3 c. honey (make it easy--use the oil measuring cup) 
start mixer on low and add:
1 T. yeast
1 t. salt
2 c. whole wheat flour 

When the above are mixed together, start adding all purpose flour until dough pulls away from sides of bowl and does not stick to fingers when touched:
approx 5 c. all purpose flour  

Knead for 5-10 minutes (I am going to try kneading in my Kitchen Aid next time, but Edie kneads by hand). Oil the mixing bowl and put dough back in, cover and let rise 45-60 min. until double. Shape into two loaves and place in greased bread pans. (I use metal Nordic loaf pans.)
Cover and let rise another 45-60 min. until dough is at top of pans. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. This bread slices better if allowed to cool completely. It is still soft the next day when stored in plastic bags.

I am serving both breads this week. I will make the dough for the rolls the day before but shape/bake them on Thanksgiving. The honey wheat bread is perfect to bake the day before, cool and store in ziploc baggies until ready to slice and serve for the big meal!

If your family is like mine, there will be no bread left over. Enjoy these easy and delicious recipes!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mexican Delight

I grew up eating this skillet meal, and I still love eating it. My family loves it too--everyone.
The recipe orginally came from my best friend's mom from elementary school.

Mexican Delight
2 lbs. hamburger, browned and drained
1/8 t. garlic powder
2 t. cumin
2 t. chili powder
1 1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 T. sugar
2 cans tomato paste
4 cans water (tomato paste cans)
1 can tomato sauce
1 1/2 c. quick rice
Fritos corn chips
shredded cheese
shredded lettuce
sour cream

Stir all the ingredients into the browned hamburger and mix well.
 Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, until the rice is tender.
Serve over corn chips and top with sour cream, cheese, lettuce, and salsa.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ellyn's birthday--Part 2

Ellyn requested a special gift for her 18th birthday:
She asked to go sky diving!

Yes, she's my crazy, dare-devil daughter!

Byron worked out all the details and coordinated the schedule for the jump. Ellyn was required to be 18 to jump and the weather had to cooperate. We had some beautiful weather this past week (especially for the last week of October), and they were able to go the day after her birthday.  I have no desire to go sky diving, but she has a dad who likes to try new things, so he went along with her. They had a great time! Ellyn is already talking about the next time she can go, but Byron is content with the one-time experience.

Here are some pictures of the sky diving experience for your viewing pleasure:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy birthday, Ellyn

Yesterday was Ellyn's 18th birthday.
She is a senior and the school year is going very quickly.
She holds such a big place in our family--she is vibrant, opinionated, fun-loving, strong-willed, energetic, passionate, full of life. We love her so much! I am excited to see what amazing things she does after high school, but I still can't help but want this time to slooooow dooooown!

She asked for a special 18th birthday gift.  Something I would never choose for myself!
More about that gift tomorrow...

For now, these are a few of my favorite senior pictures:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ryan's birthday

Catching up ...

Ryan turned fourteen last week. He has grown a ton in the last year and has a new wardrobe to show for it. He is taller than all the girls in the family now--standing 5'5".

He is a good student and likes to learn. He made honor band (clarinet) this fall and has been learning the pieces in his favorite place to practice--the basement storage room. (Maybe it has really good acoustics???)

He isn't a picky eater anymore, because he is too hungry. My teenage boys lose their picky eating habits at age 13 when their high-speed growth overtakes their ability to consume enough calories--they begin to eat whatever I put in front of them. Anything. Anytime.

My proudest moment as Ryan's mom was when I received an email from his youth leader at church who had a conversation with one of Ryan's friend that he wanted us to know about.
Ryan's friend:
 "You know, I had been going to confirmation class in my old church for the past two years but I've learned more about knowing Jesus from Ryan in the week during xtreme connect than my old church taught me in years."

Ryan doesn't like to get his picture taken, but he finally indulged me, and I'm so glad!
We love you, Ryan! 
Ryan - age 14     October 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Kate's Pumpkin/Cream Cheese Muffins

My friend, Kate, brought delicious pumpkin muffins to share on our road trip to the flea market that I wrote about here. They tasted so good! I am going to share the recipe here, since she doesn't have a blog. If she did have a blog it would be a great one, because she does fabulous house projects, decorates beautifully, and is one of my most creative friends. I mean, really...who buys a shopping cart at a flea market to use for supplies in their craft/work room??? Yeah, Kate does. That's how she thinks. Genius idea.

So here is her recipe for pumpkin muffins. I think they are even better the 2nd day--if you have any left! This recipe makes 24 muffins.

Kate's Pumpkin/Cream Cheese Muffins
8 oz cream cheese
1 egg
3 T. sugar
Mix above ingredients and set aside.

5 T. sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. chopped pecans
3 T. melted butter
1/2 t. cinnamon
Mix above ingredients and set aside.

muffin batter:
2 c. flour
2 1/4. c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon
Mix above ingredients and set aside.

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 can pumpkin
1/3 c. oil
1/2 t. vanilla
Mix above ingredients and set aside.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the well and mix with a fork until just moistened. Evenly divide HALF the batter among 24 (sprayed) muffin cups. Place 2 t. of cream cheese filling in the center of each cup, then fill with remaining batter. Sprinkle the pecan topping over the top of each muffin and bake 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees. Cool on wire racks.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pillow Love

Last fall I started collecting ideas for pillows on Pinterest. I was determined to sew some new pillows for my couch for fall/winter, since my other pillows were a floral print. In March, I gave up on the idea and just got the flower pillows  back out.

So...fall arrived again, and so did my need for new pillows.

I wanted to make some cute ruffled pillows like this one from the Better Homes and Gardens website.

Make a Ruffle Pillow

Or this one from the etsy store Jilly Bean Things:

Ruffles Pillow in Mustard Yellow Linen  15"

But when I found these mustard, ruffled pillows at Target, my urge to sew was replaced by the urge for instant gratification. I threw two in my cart and brought them home. They satisfied my need for ruffles and the color was exactly what I wanted. Score!
Decorative Pillow Target Gold DECO PILLOW

The pillow I couldn't quit thinking about was this one (also from Better Homes & Gardens)

Winter Warmth Pillow

How easy-- a fleece throw with cute fringe wrapped around a bolster pillow form and tied on each end.

I didn't have any luck finding the perfect fringed, striped, throw, but I did find some striped fabric in fall colors on the clearance rack at Hobby Lobby.  I decided it was finally time to sew a fall pillow.  I went searching the blog world for a simple tutorial. 

The thing I loved about this bolster pillow tutorial on the blog DIY by Design is that it doesn't have round ends to sew, no zipper, no cording, and the cover can be removed to switch out seasonally or to launder.

My pillow took about 30 minutes.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall Craftiness--leaf banner

I enjoyed making a quick fall craft last week.
I saw the idea on Rebecca Cooper's blog Simple As That.
You can see her post HERE.

It was such a simple project and motivated me to collect some pretty leaves. (I pressed them in the phone book for a few days before doing the project.)

The paper is torn from an old dictionary. I allowed extra space to fold over the top edge and staple onto a length of twine. I used glue dots to stick the leaves to the paper.
Sorry for the blurry phone photo:

It was fun to hang the banner from my new/old shutter purchased at the flea market and a great way to  bring nature into my home.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Flea Market Fun

Last Saturday, I was invited to go with some friends to a giant flea market in What Cheer, Iowa. We drove 1 1/2 hours to get there, on a cold blustery day. I wore long-johns and my winter coat and was really glad to have that much warm clothing on. I also packed a thermos of hot chocolate.

I was pretty overwhelmed when we arrived, because there was a LOT of stuff to see. The junk went on forever! We shopped for a few hours and then took a break for lunch. By this time our group had accumulated a dresser, an antique hymnal, a set of green antique books, a wire basket and a sweatshirt!

We enjoyed a potluck lunch sitting in the truck with the heater running and then drank hot chocolate to get warmed up before heading out again.

For four more hours we walked, talked, laughed, a shopped for junk. I bought a sewing machine for $15, an antique shutter, a long narrow wooden box (planning to use it for a table centerpiece), a brown jug, and an old metal lunch box.

My friend Kate bought this adorable little shopping cart at the end of the day, and we piled all our little stuff in it for the walk back to the truck.

What a fun day with friends! The What Cheer flea market is a 3-day event each year in April and October, and I am definitely planning to go again next year.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ellyn's Homecoming 2012

My senior daughter and nine of her friends were voted onto the homecoming court.
Ellyn (center front)  homecoming court 2012
She felt so honored to have been chosen by her classmates.  The other students on the court were some of Ellyn's best friends throughout junior high and high school. I think that made her experience even more special.

They had a great time participating in all the homecoming activities for the week.
Like "twin day"...
It was a busy week, made busier by finding dresses, getting hair fixed, locating a car for the parade and making posters to hang on the car.

Some of the Missouri relatives made the drive up for the big evening of the parade and coronation.
Ellyn was feeling the love! She even got roses delivered to her at the hair salon while she was getting her "up-do". They were from the grandparents who couldn't make the trip. I think she enjoyed getting them at the salon more than if they had been dropped off at home--more girls were present to share the moment with her!
Jessie, Aunt Julie, and Gramma with Ellyn

All ten, ready for the parade...

Throwing candy and waving to all the friends and families...

Coronation was in the gym following the parade. We would have loved for Ellyn to win but were thrilled for any of the girls, since they were all friends.
The boys were also good friends--I'm glad I didn't have to vote!

Siblings :)
Jacob and Ellyn -- Homecoming 2012

Ready for the dance...

What a great memory for Ellyn's senior year!