Sunday, December 19, 2010

Salt Dough Ornaments

I told you I had been blog-hopping lately and I saw these adorable and easy ornaments to make and thought it would be a great project for the kids and I plus they would be a perfect little gift for my husband's co-workers. I hand picked what kind of ornament shape so I could come up with cute sayings or stories with each one so it would be more meaningful to them as gifts. So here is what you need:

And here is the recipe:


1/2 Cup Salt

1 Cup of Flour

1/2 Cup Water

Mix all ingredients together. Roll out on floured surface and cut out shapes with cookie cutters of your choice. Make a hole in the top of your shape by pressing the end of a straw into the dough. Transfer them onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 2 hours at 275 degrees. Allow to cool completely before adding embellishments.

It said to use a type of sealer - we had Mod Podge on hand so I just applied a thin layer to each side. If using Mod Podge do not make a thick layer, it goops up and leaves a chunk of glue on ornament that will rip the paint off if you try to remove (yes I know from experience).

Here are a couple ornaments that we made:

I also got this next idea from a blog and thought it was a priceless keepsake. I had my kiddos place their hands gently on the dough and made a faint outline with a pencil. Then they removed their precious hands and I cut out their hand print shape with a knife. Now we have adorable hand print ornaments to keep for years to come!

This is my son's hand - 5 years old.

And this is my daughter's hand - 3 years old.
If making as a gift you can make the wrapping cheap and easy too: I bought a package of small plain white paper bags and simply stamped on a silver snowman and "Merry Christmas" (they have some clearance Christmas stamps on sale at Hobby Lobby right now!! So check your local store) Wrap in one sheet of tissue paper and Voila!
Hope you are having fun making many memories this Christmas Season!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A couple cool giveaways...

I found a couple giveaways that were just too cool to keep to myself and of course the added bonus is I get extra entries for sharing them on my blog!!

1. For a beautiful book of "The Night Before Christmas" by Clement C. Moore and Illustrated by Robert Ingpen can be found at Brimful Curiosities. Ends 12/15

2. A Blu-Ray Disc Player and Redbox Rentals for a YEAR over at "A Not-So Blog's Experimental Mommy, Dissecting Mommyhood one review at a time" ! ONLY 24 hour giveaway, ends 12/14 at 11:59 P.M.

Hope your Christmas season is full of Christ and joy!


Christmas = Baking and vice versa. Am I right? My kids have never done a gingerbread house (mainly because they are still very little and don't understand my desire to make it pretty and let it sit to admire before eating it, lol) However we made a ton of cutout cookies in October for Halloween and Thanksgiving and with my son studying gingerbread men in school it just seemed the right time. I didn't want to attempt to make a homemade one (shocker I know) for the fact that it's so hard to get them flat and straight and that young kids aren't patient. I wanted a simple, quick and easy to construct house that the kids could do almost all by themselves. I found a perfect one at Target for only about $10!

It was great! It constructed so easily and even came with a building tray to set the pieces in. And the icing set in 15 minutes, enough for my kiddos to handle. I let them loose with the candy pieces and only decorated one half of the roof myself - that's it! They had SO much fun and I giggled at their corky designs.
You can't tell that they're proud can you? hehe.
I take that back. I piped the icing on the Santa and Tree cookie pieces that went in front of the house. My bad. Although I was thankful for those cookie pieces - it gave my kids something to eat right away and kept my pretty house intact for admiring purposes! (At least for a little while)
I added some powdered sugar to give it that "just snowed" look. So if you're looking for a quick fun gingerbread house to create with your kiddos check out this fun kit at your local Target!
Now I had to laugh because we read a cute book my mom gave us that night at bedtime however I was reading through some of my blogs I follow and someone beat me to the punch on sharing this adorable kids book so instead of re-sharing, I'm sharing her post instead! Hop on over to Brimful Curiosities for a great gingerbread kids book to go with your creative fun! Not to mention she has an even EASIER idea for gingerbread fun with your little ones!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A sewage pipe, a turkey, and 6 kids...

I have been SO wanting to get on here just about every night since my last post and I'm so sorry ya'll that I have been absent during the holidays! But to say my house became a zoo would be an understatement! My holiday week started Sunday as my parents arrived that afternoon. That very night as my mom took a shower she heard some funny bubbling noises coming from the drain of the tub. A few minutes after she was through with her lovely warm shower our sewage backed up.

Yep. The FIRST of my company arrived and I have 6 more coming in two days and I have sewage backup. Isn't that a great start??! Thankfully my daddy was there and from his wisdom found the pipe and dug it up so the sewage never leaked out into our house. Again - thank you dad!! We had finally (after talking to 3 separate Roto, Rooter, Plumbing, Whatever companies) we found a place that we came over that we called because they had the christian fish logo and a verse on their advertisement! They lived up to their advertising too. It was a FABULOUS company and the guy got started right away, worked with us, was so clean and orderly about everything he did and stayed until it was done!

Now I made that seem simple but this wasn't just fixing a broken pipe...this was fixing a pipe that was a foot into the foundation of our house. Yes. He had to chip away our foundation just to remove the old pipe. All the while I'm supposed to be trying to focus on buying all the food that is supposed to stuff my kitchen to the brim with carbs and sugar for our Thanksgiving feast!

However life continued and the company arrived! It was 6 kids and 6 adults in our little house but I did have a couple tricks up my sleeve and I want to list them here for ideas for ya next year:
1. If you have little kids buy some butcher paper at a teacher's store (or something similar) and cover their table with it! It keeps them busy and quiet and AT the table while you set the food out! I even took it a step further and put black butcher paper on my wall for them to do chalk art also! It was a HUGE hit and it's SUPER CHEAP!

2. If you can see in this picture I also picked up some cheap leather crafts from Hobby Lobby for the kids to do that morning while we were busy in the kitchen. I got Indian necklaces for the boys (with real arrowheads!) and a tom thumb purses for the girls. They were all about 2 to 3 dollars a piece.

3. Plan make-ahead recipes! I try to get half of my meal done the day before so I'm not so exhausted on Thanksgiving Day that I don't enjoy it. I have made Cranberry Salsa with Pita Bread, Pear-Applesauce, and Cranberry Salad as make-ahead recipes before.
4. Keep it simple. Don't stress about having or doing everything perfect or above and beyond. the focus is on thankfulness and family - focus on spending time with those around you instead of the things around you. Here was my simplistic table this year:

To round up our holidays most of the family went for a walk while my dad and I stayed behind to clear the kitchen of dishes...only to get drenched by the rain!
And we battled my dad's wits with his favorite Trivial Pursuit! Lastly we celebrated his 60th with dinner at Papadeaux (cuz seriously NO ONE wants to cook the day after Thanksgiving!)
It was good times and fond memories made. Hope you had a special, even if chaotic, holiday as I did. See you guys soon with a VERY COOL project I'm planning for next year - all to be displayed on my blog the whole year through! Can't wait to share...

Friday, November 19, 2010

A funny thing happened on the way to the psych ward...

(Excerpt from my latest book, "Help I'm raising kids while doing ministry" by Josh Mayo)

"David Roshenhan illustrates this principle in a study he conducted with a group of psychiatric patients: Eight mentally stable people, including three psychologists and one psychiatrist, were asked to pretend to have symptoms so they could gain admission into the psychiatric wards of several hospitals for treatment. During the initial interview, they falsified only three pieces of information: their name, their occupation, and the admission of hearing voices. All other questions about their personal background were answered truthfully. All were successfully admitted.
Once diagnosed and admitted, the eight people stopped faking all symptoms, but the staff never detected their deception. They continued to relate to the eight volunteers as bona-fide psychiatric patients. Embarrassingly enough, many of the real patients could tell the difference. At times they voiced their suspicions strongly: "There's nothing wrong with you; you must be checking up on the hospital."
Rosenhan's point was clear. Once a diagnosis was made, even normal behavior was reinterpreted to match the clinical diagnosis. The people who evaluated the disturbed patients labeled them incorrectly. In the same way, prejudices regarding P.K.'s (Pastor's kids) can result in them being treated as if they are going to rebel, whether or not it is a reality. These labels can come from other pastors, teachers, leaders, and parents. Usually those closest to a P.K. know the truth, but it's hard to convince the rest of the world."

This particular chapter was SO interesting and full of good information for parents in full time ministry! As a P.K. or just a ministry kid prejudices and labels are most definitely put on the kids and false expectations are also part of that deal. Why can't people understand that pastors and ministry leaders are human too and no one is perfect and everyone WILL make mistakes? By EXPECTING a child to act a certain way or do certain things you speak over their life -for words have the power of life and death so as a Youth Pastor and a Parent do me a favor and speak life over your ministry leader's kids. Please.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

LOVE THE PIE party entry!

(a special recipe from my BFF Jaci Laney)

1/2 C. Butter (softened, NOT melted - very important)
3/4 Sugar
1 oz. Semisweet Chocolate Square (melted)
3 TBLS Cocoa
1 Tsp Vanilla
2 Eggs
1 Pie Crust (Pillsbury frozen kind is an excellent flaky one to use)

1 C. Whipping Cream
1 Tsp. Vanilla
1/4 C. Powdered Sugar

Bake pie crust so it can be cooling. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add semi-sweet chocolate square, cocoa and vanilla until very well blended. Add 1 egg and beat on high for at least 5 minutes. Add the 2nd egg and beat another 5 minutes. Make sure your chocolate has turned a lighter color. Then pour it in baked cooled crust and refrigerate 2 hours (I sometimes freeze it to make sure it sets!). Meanwhile in another bowl beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla and powdered sugar to whipping cream. Pour over pie. Garnish with your choice - I take another semisweet baking chocolate square and shave off some onto the top.

(Because I didn't know about the awesome LOVE THE PIE party until today I didn't have time to make the pie and take pictures as I usually would so this picture is courtesy of - just click the photo for link)

10 Reasons I DO and DO NOT drink coffee...

Yes it is an oxymoron. But my life has a lot of oxymoron's so I just roll with it. So for a moment I ask you to do the same. If you are OCD and can't take reading an oxymoronic (and no it's not a real word) post then exit your screen now and go back to reading the latest Thanksgiving recipe you just found.

So I found this idea from Twitter - one of the gals I follow posted a funny sounding tweet and in the next tweet she said something about a Writer's Workshop so I checked it out in curiosity. I don't know the blog but the assignment sounded fun so I did it anyways! It's from Mama's Losin' It! blog and it's Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop. There are several prompts to pick from and I picked the one of list 10 reasons why you do/don't drink coffee. Okay so I DO occasionally drink coffee but I by no means drink it on a regular basis so I wasn't sure what to do with this and it occurred to me the reason I will drink coffee is for a few reasons but why I don't drink it regularly have other reasons so I'm combining my list to allow you to see my dilemma!

Ten Reasons Why I Do AND Don't Drink Coffee:

1. I DO drink coffee because it is a delicious warming beverage (or cooling if it's the iced version) to indulge in.

2. I DO drink coffee with lots of creamer or should I say I drink creamer with a little coffee. And it MUST be the real deal liquid creamer - milk, sugar, half and half or powdered will NOT work and I've tried.

3. I DO drink coffee because it's a great excuse to meet up with my busy working BFF!

4. I DO drink coffee because our church staff is addicted so everywhere we go we automatically pull into the Green Round Sign!

5. I DO drink coffee because it seems to just be American to do so!

6. I DO NOT drink coffee because I know many of the reasons it is bad for your body

7. I DO NOT drink coffee because I get jittery

8. I DO NOT drink coffee with my hubby because he hates it.

9. I DO NOT drink coffee in the mornings - I'm avid about starting my morning right nutritionally so Green Tea is for me when it comes to the AM!

10. I DO NOT drink coffee on a regular basis because I remember as a child my dad's heart starting skipping beats at one time and the doctor's told him the number one thing to do to get rid of the problem was to stop drinking coffee or at LEAST reduce the amount dramatically (he was drinking around a pot a day at the time) Ever since then I decided if he likes it there is a good chance I will and I don't want my heart to start skipping beats so I will not allow myself to drink it regularly, ever.

So there are the real reasons why I don't drink coffee and yet the reasons why I love to and do.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hidden Blessings

Around holiday time things get hectic. Stressful. And down-right nuts. Which allows things such as forgetting a backpack at home or realizing you don't have a clean bra because you haven't done laundry in...well awhile, to happen. The other day was a day just like that. Yet God gave me the grace to see through the oops'. It started like this...

We have dropped my son off at his school and my daughter and I are headed to our school (she attends and I work as a Teacher's Aide). I had realized by this point I forgot to put the bills in the mailbox this morning before leaving and had just missed calling my hubby to do it for me (and they HAD to get out THAT day) The radio was off and so the car was quiet and out of nowhere my 3 year old starts singing "Open the Eyes of My Heart" and she sings it all the way through perfectly. I was smiling away in the front thinking that sound makes every care disappear, even the mail oopsey.

Then after getting into the school I realized we had left her backpack, yes with her lunch in it, at the front door! So I frantically get someone to cover my work for 40 minutes or so and run back out to the car and proceed home totally flustered. On the way home I'm talking to God about the lovely start to my day and He reminds me - now I can mail my bills. Because I'm headed home. Okay so a smile came once again to my face and I realized even though I could have REALLY let all that chaos of the morning get to me (cuz you know when your morning begins like that the rest of the day is set...which some other things did come after) yet I chose to accept that God works around our silliness and sometimes offers us huge blessings and grace THROUGH our seemingly bad circumstances.

So this holiday season when something seems to be going wrong - look for God's grace and blessing in it because I guarantee it's there!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Starbucks in Heaven

Starbucks. For a lot of people you just say that word and it brings relaxation (and perhaps a sudden overwhelming craving). For me it means special time with my daughter. You see I love enjoying a good mocha or if I want to be good a hot Tazo Green Tea, however I'm not a daily coffee drinker by any means. Mainly because I know it's bad for me and God has told me not to drink it regularly. Pretty good reason if you ask me. And this is for me - not you so don't worry you can indulge if you must. But this year as you know 9mainly from my absence of posts) I started working a couple days a week at my daughter's Day School. We get done with our school an hour before we can line up (yes LINE UP) for car-rider line at my son's school to pick him up. So with not enough time to get home and actually get out of the car before turning back around a Starbucks right near the Day School has become our special mother-daughter time. I cherish it and I encourage you to find simple little treats for you and your kiddos for some one-on-one time. However what does this have to do with heaven?
Well lately the kids learned about going to heaven when you die if you have Jesus in your heart in Sunday School. So of course it was weeks of questions over that one. I loved some of those convos: "Mommy I want to wear a Cinderella dress for the big party in heaven" (when explaining in kids terms about the Wedding Banquet when we all get to heaven). and of course my son in sobbing tears, "But mommy I don't want to have to go to heaven, I like it here in Texas". Oh good times. And too cute and funny!
So with that in mind out of the blue the other day we are in the bathroom at Starbucks (of all places to be) getting ready to head out and my daughter says, "Mommy can we live in Starbucks when we go to heaven?" (Because yes I had explained we would have beautiful houses to live in.) Now this is not the funniest part - I then of COURSE had to tweet and Facebook this funny quote and in a response back from a dear friend of mine she wrote:
"OK, now we just need to rewrite the song.
This world is not my home, I'm just passing through.
Starbucks is waiting for me too, somewhere beyond the blue,
the angels beckon me through Heaven's Drive-thru door,
and I'll have a Venti Mocha Extra Hot No Whip in my cup forevermore!
lol, I'm likin' Gracie's thinkin'!"
P.S. here is a pic of my fave Starbucks drink - Peppermint Mocha, steamed to 120 please!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Messy Fun

Need some good messy fun with your kids? Just keep reading...

She finally arrived: Our long awaited guest. She has been highly anticipated since early June and we love the time she spends with us, the time never being long enough. Several times we thought her flight had arrived only to be disappointed with another flight delay.

Who is this wonderful and joyful guest we are so pleased to entertain and host?
Our dear friend Autumn. (And yes I mean the season, not a person - just in case anyone was lost.)

Before Autumn came the kids and I decided to make some preparations! Because we needed everything ready when she DID arrive. And what better way to start prepping for a guest than to BAKE! Woohoo! Typically sugar cookies wait until Christmas but hitting the %50 off Fall items at Hobby Lobby my eye glanced upon a package of cute Fall Cookie Cutouts and I couldn't resist. Plus - during the course of my college class most evenings consisted of homework and I figured I owed my kids some good quality (and messy) time.
So out with the ingredients:

Recruit some help...
Since I owed them I let them do it all - from step one to step...100? (Although I did crack the eggs and ice the cookies. There had to be SOME limits to these youngin's!

My kitchen paid for it. Dearly.

I think I "cut" out ONE cookie, the rest were ALL theirs...

Candy Wonderland!!! I had three bowls of icing, 7 bowls (yes SEVEN) of sprinkles, and two dozen cookies for them to do. (By the way have you noticed that we started in daylight and by this photo it is pitch dark out?!)

I love my hubby - he graciously captured all of us on film for me!

These kids had no rules with the sprinkles.

Should I have re-thought that one?

Nope. Never. Even though that first photo in this post was the "leftover" sprinkles off the cookie trays and my table. (No not including what little was left in the bowls. And NO not including the new sugar floor my kids gave me) But all totally worth it. Have you done something messy with your kids lately?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Class Auction Project

Little Tree Red Christmas 5x7 folded card
Make a statement with custom Christmas cards at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

College Hill Bed and Breakfast

An account of our late summer travels, part 1:

On our way to retrieve our kiddos from the grandparents we decided to make our last night without kids special. We would be stopping in Wichita, Kansas and so I googled the city and found numerous B & B's. This one caught my eye with the private outdoor hot tub and my husband liked it because it was SO close to the Insterstate and we wouldn't be spending forever in the dark trying to find our way there. So reservations were made for College Hill Bed and Breakfast. (Oh and we got a 10% discount for being full time clergy!! This also applies to active military I believe)

When we pulled up we found the cutest country-style house with bright blooms and bountiful foliage everywhere! I love Bed and Breakfasts because it feels like staying at a friend's house versus the "I'm just a room number" feeling you get from hotels.

Here are the owners, Jerry and Suzanne who are originally from Dodge City. They are a delightful christian couple that were incredibly inviting and hospitable. They even easily worked around our getting in late and my husband's food allergy.

Here is the dining table where we sat and had the most delicious breakfast EVER! My mouth waters just thinking about it - it was Banana Stuffed French Toast (I think is what they called it) and of course sausage, eggs OH and who could forget their homemade pecan syrup. I think the syrup, with crushed bits of pecans in it really made the meal for me! The inn keepers sat with us as we all relaxingly chatted about this and that. Oh and I was delighted to know they had REAL coffee creamer not just the powdery stuff. I think Suzanne realized my delightment because she offered me a refill in a To-Go cup knowing we had a long day of travelling ahead. Here are a couple more pictures from around the dining room:

Our bedroom was the Library Suite. It had a soft, plush king size bed, our own dining area, sitting area with HD TV and a small collection of books, and of course the private outdoor hot tub! Here are a few views of our room:

And Nick and I can't just visit a place without exploring it a little bit! So we ventured off to Downtown in HOPE of eating at a quaint Italian restaurant but arriving too late settled for the local sushi place. Hand in hand we strolled around the Downtown square and seeing an ad for a Music Festival going on that very weekend I wished we could have stayed two more days and enjoyed it!

But none-the-less we left the next morning South Dakota bound - but if we ever return to Wichita most likely we'll be back to see our new friends Jerry and Suzanne!