Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Random Weekend Fun

We went to Missouri over the past weekend to celebrate the birthdays of my hubby and mom.
I took my camera and never got it out of the case. :(  Partly because I was having too much fun.
We had a soup supper and music playing party with friends.
It was great to see everyone, and the time went way too fast.

We came home Sunday afternoon and left an hour later for a roller skating party with friends. Each winter in February, I try to reserve the roller skating rink for some fun. It is nice to get some activity and fun during a time of year when its easy to be lazy and dull.

Our group was very diverse in age and ethnicity--which I loved!
In the following pictures you might spot Africans, Native Americans, someone from Spain, an African American, and a bunch of white folks from Iowa. When I look at the pictures, I see stories of redemption, adoption, second chances, and families designed by God.
My heart is full when I look at all these faces I love.

This is Janel and two of her daughters.
You can read about adoption, faith, and family life at her blog Team Sullivan.

I love the happy faces on these girls:
The mom of the two girls on the right blogs about adoption, faith, and family life at Jason & Jen's Journey.

It was a super fun weekend that was over in a flash!  
Quite different from today, which has brought a quiet snowstorm, an early dismissal from school, and cancelled evening activities.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A bit more Valentine's Day love--three days worth

I just can't bear to let Valentine's go without sharing a bit more. I stretched Valentine's Day out for three days and loved every minute of it.

Day 1, Feb. 14:
Did you have heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast?
I don't know if kids ever outgrow loving heart-shaped pancakes.
(I certainly haven't yet.)

We ended Valentine's Day with a fun, but not very healthy supper.

Delivery just for me, from my sweet Valentine...

Day 2:
Friday night, hubby and I had a fancy restaurant dinner with friends. I didn't take pictures, but we had a great time.

Day 3:
Saturday night I hosted a Valentine's progressive dinner with some other friends.
I was having way too much fun to take pictures, but I snapped a few at the end.

Our dog got a manicure and bow just for the party:
(poor thing)

These were the signs for the doors of the homes who were hosting courses of the dinner.
We had appetizers at the first house, salad at the second house, and main course and dessert at the last house.

The table, the day after. Why didn't I remember to snap a picture in all its glory!?!

Lots of relaxing conversation after the meal:

This awesome tiered dessert stand was made with thrift store treasures by my friend's mom.
The pieces were glued together with E6000 adhesive.
It was perfect for holding the beautiful desserts!

This yummy, layered mocha dessert featured each of our initials cut from brownies:

 My favorite Valentine's decorating:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

I love making and sending homemade Valentine's. It reminds me of elementary school when we gave a Valentine to everyone in class and dropped it into adorable homemade boxes.

I wish I had some pictures of the Valentine boxes from my childhood. Can you tell I love Valentine's Day?

Here are the cards I sent this year:

Hope you have a day full of love!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mounds of Craft Supplies

Thanks to Pinterest.com, I am possibly going to be buried alive by junk. I have always been a crafter with LOTS of supplies, but its getting ridiculous.  Now I can no longer throw away jelly jars, old t-shirts, holey jeans, old maps, my old curtains, newspapers, the paint chip deck from 12 years ago, oatmeal canisters, old tires, ... PLEASE, SAVE ME FROM CRAFTINESS.

Actually, craftiness is one of my favorite things. The past few years have seen me doing fewer crafts, but still accumulating supplies.  It has felt great to spend the past week cleaning my sewing room and craft/stamping area. I hauled out 5 trash bags of junk, 3 bags of fabric to donate, and a couple of boxes of ink pads and rubber stamps to donate. I found an old bridesmaid dress, my black formal from chamber choir in college, and my college senior recital formal. Treasures!

Since I cleared the stamping table last week, I enjoyed making all my Valentines and getting them in the mail earlier this week.

Next up, some sewing projects that have been waiting.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ellyn's Speech about Siblings

Ellyn found this speech written in an old notebook. She read it out loud to us today. I think I'll save it forever.

I want to post it in honor of sibling-love for this week of Valentine's Day.

written by Ellyn a few years ago:

I can honestly say that I don't know what I would do without my brothers and sister in my life. They are my best friends, entertainment, biggest cheerleaders, partners in crime, and they have shaped me into the person I am today. Although this comes somewhat naturally because we share the same blood, my siblings are people that I have had to learn to truly appreciate and embrace. My heart breaks for kids that don't have siblings, or maybe those who just haven't learned the true meaning of a brother yet. But I believe that the key to this is having a grateful and loving heart for all that siblings provide us with.

One of the biggest things that siblings provide us with is a relationship and friendship. With multiple kids in the family there is always someone to talk to whether you want them there or not! They are a wonderful source of entertainment. A younger sibling's first steps, the fighting that occurs between two brothers, the jokes that a sister cracks. What would you do without those moments and memories?!
A sibling can be your friend-for-life because the relationship is not easy to escape.

Having siblings provides a person with so many different opportunities. The only way you can have nieces or nephews is through a sibling, and the only way you can be a bridesmaid at your sister's wedding is if you have a sister! Siblings also give you lots of activities to go to and be their biggest fan. I can't even describe the moments at state track when my brother crossed the finish line, being able to say "ahh, that's my big brother!" Or going to my little sister's softball game or my younger brother's 5K race. Besides these heartfelt moments, siblings can sometimes share clothes or go in on a gift for your parents. They allow you to do and experience things that would be impossible without them!

I often like to refer to my family and siblings as "my team." Just like a team, everyone has different strengths and roles that help them to com out on top. An effective team supports one another no matter what, and without relationships like that, a good team often becomes unsuccessful. Teammates learn from each other and make each other better people. Siblings can be just like a teammate! They teach us how to solve problems and differences because we can't easily run from them. Through siblings, you learn how to share and be generous and tolerant and selfless.

Siblings know you better than almost anyone, and because of that, they are the perfect advice-givers. They see your flaws and call you out on them. When you so something well, they react and make you want to be even better! I believe that all families have the ability to work as a team, you just have to be grateful for each other.

Many of you may be thinking, "well yeah, but siblings are so annoying!" This may be true, but so are you. If you show a thankful heart to your siblings, they're bound to show one in return. There is no bond deeper than a brother, if we choose to appreciate each other.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Five--School Daze

1.  Even though I am done homeschooling, I am keeping my teaching license up to date. I have to renew my license later this year and am super excited that I am getting my last four credits out of the way in the first two months of the year. I am taking two online classes and its working out great with my slow January/February schedule. I do a lot of the class work in my pajamas in the recliner with the laptop. 

2.  I got phone calls from two of my kids' teachers this week. And it wasn't to tell me what a great job they're doing. This is not a normal occurrence and to happen twice in the same week is a little traumatizing.  Apparently my children decided homework is optional.

3.  One of the kids from #2 above decided to quit brushing his/her teeth this week. Because there isn't enough time in the morning before leaving for school.  Really?

4.   I thought my youngest child was 12, but I am feeling like I have second graders again.  
       See #2 and #3 above.

5.  Is it time for spring break yet?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Broccoli Cheese Soup

I love broccoli cheese soup, but until this winter, I have never made it from scratch. Now my family is enjoying it often, and I thought I'd share my recipe--a combination of several found online.  After all, the only way to keep warm on these cold winter days is to eat more soup. And bread.

Broccoli Cheese Soup (allow 45+ minutes)
serves 10-12

1 small onion, diced
1 stick butter
1/3 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
4 c. whole milk, heat in microwave 2 min.*
2 c. chicken broth, heat in microwave 2 min.*
1 bag froz. broccoli or 1 bunch fresh (steam in microwave while you work on the rest of the soup)
3 c. shredded co-jack cheese (any version of cheddar, etc will work)

Prepare broccoli and steam in microwave 5-8 minutes, until tender. Leave covered on the counter while you continue with the rest of the soup.

In soup pot, melt butter over medium heat, then add diced onion. Cook onion 3-4 minutes, then sprinkle flour over the top. Stir and cook 1 minute until very thick, then slowly whisk in hot milk. Stirring frequently, cook over medium heat until soup starts to thicken, about 5-8 minutes. Be very patient--this is the most important step! Be careful not to let it scorch. Add salt and pepper.
Add hot chicken broth and continue to stir until well blended and thick.
Check broccoli and stick it back in microwave if it is not fully tender.
Add cheese and stir until completely melted.
Stir in steamed broccoli. I sometimes mash with a potato masher to break up the brocolli. Add more broth or milk to thin, if necessary.
Serve immediately. With bread. :)  Don't worry, you burned a lot of calories stirring.

*I have used 6 c. skim or 2% milk and didn't use chicken broth. The richness of the soup will vary depending on the milk, but it has always been creamy and delicious!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Five

1. It has been a cold, windy, snowy, icy week in central Iowa. Our kids had a late start Monday morning and no school on Wednesday. I was surprised Thursday and Friday were on regular schedule, because the roads were still bad and it is soooo cold. My kids definitely enjoyed sleeping in a couple of mornings and watching movies instead of doing homework.

2. My open schedule and the yucky winter weather kept me at home all week--I love to be a hermit! I barely left our house, which allowed me to get a ton of stuff done. I purged some of my rubber stamping supplies, cooked a lot of yummy food, read, worked on my online class, stamped some cards (haven't done this for-ev-er, and it was great to get crafty!), and sewed a little bit.

3. My fourteen-year-old has his driver's permit and is in drivers education this semester. He needs to spend a lot of time practicing and document the time he spends driving. I have been saving errands for after school, and I have him drive me around. Sometimes I'm frightened. I should pray for the drivers ed instructor.

4. It is the LOVE MONTH. I really like Valentine's Day and am excited to make cards and put out a few love-ly decorations. Are you thinking of things to do to say "I love you" to the people you live with?

5. I am determined to tackle my sewing room in the next week. It is a disaster! Maybe I'll take before/after pictures. I am purging fabric and making space to get creative. Nothing is more paralyzing to me than clutter and disorganization. I can't wait to see it tidy and ready for a new project!

Enjoy the weekend!