Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm a Winner!!

This year I participated in Short Stop's Cookie Exchange and had a great time checking out everyone's cookie recipes. And I won The Gift of the Christmas Cookie by participating!! Yay!! This book is the reason that Sarah bakes for 25 days in December with her boys. Sounds exhausting, so I'm excited to read this book and learn why she wanted to create this tradition with her sons.

She's also having another giveaway at her blog starting today and ending Wednesday, December 16th at 5pm. Sarah's giving away a Cuisinart ice cream maker!! Head on over to Short Stop to enter this great giveaway!!

Short Stop's Giveaway

**Update: I did not win this giveaway, but I received my ordered book in the mail and I love it. So does my husband!! I'm even using some of the Isaiah stuff to tell the Christmas story with the point being the cross and the resurrection. It would make a great Christmas gift!!

One of my favorite bloggers, Sarah over at Short Stop, is having a few giveaways this month and I wanted to share this one with you!! She's giving away 10 copies of the Jesus Storybook Bible. (I just ordered this book last night!) So, head on over to Short Stop to share what's on top of your Christmas tree as your entry into the giveaway.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Doorposts Purchase

About a month ago I was introduced to Doorposts and I've been eying quite a few items on their website. Several days ago we delivered a meal to a family from church and they had the If-Then poster and I decided that it would be a great investment. So this morning I made my purchases and made a list of other resources that I'd like to eventually get. You can order a free catalog here and through the month of December you can receive 10% off by using the code CHRISTMAS09. Happy shopping!

My Purchases
Honor Your Father and Mother
- The 5th commandment for little ones

If-Then Poster
- laminated, black and white (16"x22")
If-Then Chart
- laminated, colored (8.5"x11")
each $6

My WishList
For Instruction in Righteousness
- A topical reference guide for biblical training
Plants Grown Up
- Projects for sons on the road to manhood
Prepare They Work
- Preparing young men for Christian marriage

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Finishing Up My "To Do's" for the Week

Yesterday we were snowed in and I set some goals for myself. I didn't get everything done, but that's the beauty of a snow's an extra day to get things done. Today is my husband's day off so I already feel like I'm ahead of the game.

Goals for Yesterday (and Today)
* workout I scooped snow for 1 hour, I think that counts as a workout
* make gingerbread houses with the family
* sew a blanket for my son's Christmas present
* sew scarves for my boys
* wrap gifts
* clean my bedroom (mostly it's picking up and putting things away, but still it's a big job)
* bake these bars
* drink some hot chai tea and watch Home Alone (yes, that can be considered a goal) even though we watched Veronica Mars instead
* read my library book, Shepherds Abiding
* housework: vacuum, sweep, mop, clean both bathrooms, dust, laundry
* put together our new stroller (arrived Tuesday while we were running errands; the box was on our front deck covered with 3 inches of snow)
* add my Pebbernodder recipe to Short Stop's cookie exchange
* finish my San Diego posts on our family blog
* cuddle with my boys
* take my youngest to his 2 year apt
* babysit for a friend

That would be my regular list for Thursday but now I'm ahead of the game!! Yay for me. Do you make a To Do list for yourself? How do you stay motivated to keep working when you just want to sit and enjoy another Chai tea and a movie? ;)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


This cookie is so yummy and it makes a great snack for you your kids. Pebbernodder, pronounced "pure-a-nuh-tha" (I am not a linguist but I gave it my best try), is a recipe for Danish Peppernuts. This recipe comes from our friend's mom who is married to a true Danish immigrant. The first time we had this cookie was in 2001 during spring break. We went down to southern Missouri to go rock climbing with some college friends and Sue made these little cookies for us to take on our trip. They were delicious and we munched on them all day. They do take a little work so I always try to make a double batch because once you start munching, it's hard to stop. ;) Oh, and don't forget, the dough has to be refrigerated overnight so plan ahead.

from: Sue Olesen

1/3 cup softened butter (I use margarine)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp pumpkin spice
2 to 2 1/2 cups flour

Cream together margarine and sugar. Add egg, milk, and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients and add to wet. Chill dough overnight.

Flour your work surface and take pieces of dough rolling them into a pencil-shape, using more flour if dough is sticky. Cut into small pieces (less than 1/2-inch).

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the tops are golden. Enjoy!

**If you use an airbake pan, they cookies won't brown as well. And they do need to be brown because these cookies are best when they're crunchy.
**I rarely prounounce pebbernodder correctly so our family has just started calling it Pua-Nua. ;)

Check out Short Stop for more great cookie recipes!!

Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful...

Current Status (8am)
Temp: 9 degrees
Wind Chill: -14 degrees
Amount of Snowfall: 12 inches
Sustained Winds: 35 mph
Wind Gusts: 49 mph
Drifts: HUGE - I haven't been out to measure but some look taller than me (5 ft 3 in)

I probably won't post any pictures of the great outdoors until the wind dies down (I really don't want to go outside today) but I will get some before our boys tear into those drifts. ;)

Goals for Today
(in no particular order, although the workout and housework should come first)
* workout
* make gingerbread houses with the family
* sew a blanket for my son's Christmas present
* sew scarves for my boys
* wrap gifts
* clean my bedroom (mostly it's picking up and putting things away, but still it's a big job)
* bake these bars
* drink some hot chai tea and watch Home Alone (yes, that can be considered a goal)
* read my library book, Shepherds Abiding
* housework: vacuum, sweep, mop, clean both bathrooms, dust, laundry
* put together our new stroller (arrived yesterday while we were running errands; the box was on our front deck covered with 3 inches of snow)

My husband is working from home today so I'm sure he'll be joining in with the fun, even the housework. ;) We'll also see if we have school today. Since the whole city is shutdown and no one else is having school, maybe we won't either, although making gingerbread houses should count. ;)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Book Review

** Guest post from my husband, Jonathan

Christianity Today Study Series: Faith and Pop Culture

This book asks questions about what it looks like for a Christian to engage culture. It covers the main topics of art, literature, sports, TV, movies and how the Christian should interpret and engage with these culturally prevalent topics. It does not necessarily paint things in black or white but tries to challenge the reader to see how each of these areas can be used to bring God glory. It recognizes the depravity that is inherent in the endeavors of people while using questions to help you think about what this looks like in your own life. This book would be great for teaching a series or for self-study. There are a variety of questions and follow-up stories that would be helpful for a variety of people. This book challenged me to be more discerning in the way I read, watch, listen and play. This book helps combine biblical truth with modern-day dilemmas.

We received a free review copy of Christianity Today and needed to post our review on our blog and on a consumer retail website. It's a great way to check out new books without any cost to you. You can click here if you are interested in becoming a book reviewer for Thomas Nelson.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Best Friends Take a Bath

This all started as an emergency rescue before bed last night. Our oldest son dropped Peanut or Squirrel (TY Beanie Babies Nuts) into the toilet during our bedtime ritual.

We (dad) left him out overnight to dry but I wasn't satisfied with the cleanliness and so this morning I washed him with some Johnson's Head-to-Toe Baby Wash and put him in the dryer (on warm) and he came out fine. (Phew!!!)

Then our youngest was enjoying his Advent chocolate after breakfast this morning and proceeded to get chocolate all over Doggy (TY Classic Roscoe). After removing most of the chocolate with a washcloth I noticed that Doggy had a urine-smell to him (yuck!!). So, I washed him in a little bath with some Johnson's and put him in the dryer. (I was very, very afraid at how this would end up.)

As I waited for Doggy to finish drying, I searched online to find out if I could buy a replacement...and I'm in trouble. All of my boys' beloved friends are RETIRED. I can't find them anywhere, except on the TY website saying they're retired. So hopefully they won't be ruined by me...or themselves because they're going to be hard to replace.

Now, I'm just hoping that Bunny or Outside (TY Classic Brambles) doesn't have an accident and he has to take a bath and venture a trip through the dryer.

**Update: Doggy made it!! And he smells great. I don't know how often I can do this without ruining our poor furry friends, but I'm glad I tried it this time. I'm just glad that TY products are well-made.

Monday's Resolution

Why wait until January 1st to start your resolutions? Why not start today?

Today I started The 30 Day Shred again. Last time I did The Shred, I lost 12 lbs and maintained until right before our trip to San Diego (3 months). Vacations can be hard like that because you want to's vacation! But it's not always a good idea. ;) So, here I am again, weighing in and starting over. Well, not completely over, but I have gained back some weight. Bummer!!

I will usually be weighing in on Wednesday with the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans but I'm starting The Shred today and wanted to mark my start. Please pray that I have enough energy to get up early and enough discipline to go to bed on time! ;)

starting weight: 160.6 (yikes)

Here we go again, and hopefully I'll be to 150lbs by Christmas!! ;)

original starting weight: 166.4 - started May 20, 2009

lowest weight recorded: 154.2 - August 19, 2009

Shrink-a-Versary Challenge with the Sisterhood!

**Update: Up at 5:30a this morning. Shredding is horrible. I barely made it through Level 1. I can feel my body jiggling with every jumping jack and my heart was pounding. I almost felt nauseous. I know it will get better every day (at least it did the last go round). Here's to a full week of Shredding.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Reflections On Psalm 127

When we were in San Diego I had a lot of non-distracted time to read (and I really enjoyed that time). ;) One of the Psalms that hit me in a new way (as it did my husband) was Psalm 127.

Psalm 127

1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.

2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.

3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him.

4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one's youth.

5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

We have always loved vs 3-5. It holds such meaning for us as parents. We want our children to be strong arrows that we eventually send out into the enemy's camp. We pray that God blesses our quiver and that He gives us the strength we need when it's time for us to let them go and fight for Christ.

But the first 2 verses I thought were always talking about building a city and what that requires. But as my husband and I were looking at the entire Psalm, we thought it might be talking about parenting and building your home. It's amazing how this Psalm has changed my perspective.

1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.

No matter what we do to protect our children or how we work to raise them, it is ultimately in God's hands. And we need to hand over that control to God. He will build up our children and He will protect them. It's totally up to God no matter what we do to try and hold on. God's got this. He's got our kids. He loves them and He wants us to hand them over to His will. That doesn't mean we don't do anything, but we need to realize that God loves them more than we do, which is hard for me to grasp.

2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.

This verse took on another parent-meaning. It goes so many ways - parents worrying more than praying - for our children's health/future/character/walk with God, dad being gone all the time to work to support the family, mom trying to be all (seamstress, gardener, maid, laundress, cook, baker, shopper, chauffeur, crafty, frugal, Proverbs 31 wife and mother, secretary, entertainment director, friend, full-time job outside the home, hostess, blogger, book-reader, spiritual adviser, accountant, referee, etc) and becoming ineffective in her parenting. That last one is more me than anything else. I spend too much time trying to measure up to my own unrealistic expectations when my ultimate desire is to have my children know Jesus Christ, love and serve Him. But God grants sleep to those He loves. I don't need to be all of those things all the time. I need to be a lover of Jesus, a wife and a mother.

So, maybe this verse is about building a city. Or maybe it's about building a family and a home. This Psalm has been a great encouragement to me and it needs to go somewhere where I'll see it everyday. To remind me to refocus on who God is and that He will care for me and my children. My study Bible states it like this: "A good harvest is not the achievement of endless toil but the result of God's blessings." And I think that's such a blessing for a mother to know!

P.S. When I read this article on self-doubt as a homeschool mom over at Heart of the Matter Psalm 127 came right to my mind.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dirt Cups

I love cooking with my boys and we had a lot of fun recreating dirt with this recipe. I know there are other recipes out there for "dirt" but I like the look of this layered dessert. And my boys liked that it was called dirt. I gave the job of crushing the Oreos to my oldest son and he had a great time. Get your kids cooking in your kitchen, you'll be surprised at how excited they are to eat something they helped make (yes, even vegetables). ;)

Dirt Cups

1 box instant pudding
20 Oreos
4 gummy worms

Put the Oreos in a zip-lock bag and crush with a wooden spoon or your hands. Mix the pudding and layer with the crushed Oreos, starting with the Oreos. Put a worm on top of each cup and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Our Advent Celebration

Main Entry: Ad·vent
Pronunciation: \ˈad-ˌvent, chiefly British -vənt\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Medieval Latin adventus, from Latin, arrival, from advenire
Date: 12th century
1 : the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas and observed by some Christians as a season of prayer and fasting
2 a : the coming of Christ at the Incarnation b : second coming
3 not capitalized : a coming into being or use personal computers>
from Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary and Thesaurus

Yesterday we started our Advent calendar. It's a little house that my husband and I bought before we had kids. I knew that I wanted to count down the days to Christmas when we had littles of our own and I wanted to include some fun activities, how we can help others, how we can give to others, and how we can prepare our hearts for Jesus' birthday. Here's what we have planned:

Day 1 read Luke 1:26-38 and discuss how the angel came to Mary and told her that she would have baby Jesus; open Fisher Price Little People Nativity set and talk about all the people included in the box

Day 2 be mom's helper by washing the dishes after dinner tonight

Day 3 treat

Day 4 make popcorn and watch A Charlie Brown Christmas movie

Day 5 money to buy a hat and mittens for the Mitten Tree at church

Day 6 read Matthew 1:18-25 and discuss how an angel came to Jesus' mom and His dad; make angels out of coffee filters

Day 7 treat

Day 8 money to buy your brother a gift for his stocking

Day 9 bring a meal to a family from church

Day 10 make caramel corn and deliver to neighbors with The Perfect Gift tags

Day 11 make hot chocolate and go for a ride to look at Christmas lights

Day 12 build an ornament with dad at Lowe's workshop and deliver to someone special

Day 13 read John 1:6-9; each boy will get their own flashlight and we'll go on a scavenger hunt around our home in the dark

Day 14 treat

Day 15 make mixes (pancakes, French vanilla cocoa, Chai tea, etc)

Day 16 make dad's lunch and supper

Day 17 deliver mixes (from Day 15) to friends/babysitters

Day 18 build a snowman; if no snow make snowmen from rice krispie treats

Day 19 attend The Perfect Gift

Day 20 read Isaiah 9:2,6 and talk about how Isaiah, the prophet, told the people that there would be a Savior born; sing Christmas carols by candlelight

Day 21 treat

Day 22 pipe cleaners gift (great thing to play with on a long car ride)

Day 23 pack for our trip and talk about how Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem

Day 24 build a manger for Jesus with a shoebox and write names and attributes of Jesus on strips of yellow and orange paper (hay) to prepare a bed for Jesus

Day 25 read Luke 2:1-20; put baby Jesus in the manger and sing "Away in a Manger"

Most of the days will be a slip of paper with a hint of what the activity is for the day. But there could be a treat or a symbol of what's up for the day, or even some cash (Day 5) for little shopping trips. I hope my boys enjoy this Advent season and next year we will add the Jesse Tree devotions to our Christmas traditions.

Some other great Advent ideas:
RCA Jesse Tree - we plan on doing this with our boys next year
Baby Sock Advent Calendar
Teaching Mom's Advent Calendar - don't be overwhelmed by all the ideas on this calendar, just pick what you want to use and skip the rest - that's what I did ;)
Christ In Christmas - we bought this book when we were first married and planned on using it with our family some day but it seemed a little over the heads of our toddlers, so maybe when they're a little older

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving Menu:

Old Fashioned Roast Turkey
Honey Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Gramma's Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potatoes
7-Layer Lettuce Salad
Pumpkin Pie
Nibble Mix
Hot Apple Cider

Thanksgiving Decorations:

from Monica at The Homespun Heart
& Hostess with the Mostest Daily Blog

Thanksgiving Devotions:

Unto Thee, O God, do we give thanks.
Psalm 75:1

from My ABC Bible Verses by: Susan Hunt

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Brined Pork Shoulder

This is a recipe I searched for because I wasn't able to purchase salt pork for the Old-Fashioned Roast Turkey recipe I used for Thanksgiving this year.

If you're like me and you can't find salt pork you can brine 1 lb of pork shoulder. I got my advice from Cook's Illustrated but changed the recipe to get more salt in my pork:

Brined Pork Shoulder
my recipe

1 lb pork shoulder
1 quart cold water
1/2 cup table salt
1/4 cup sugar

Pour water into a large zip-top bag. Add salt and sugar and squish around in the bag. Add pork shoulder and brine for 1 1/2 hours in the fridge.
Drain liquid from pork shoulder and continue with your recipe.

I think this worked just fine but I'm sure that salt pork would be the best choice to use on your Old-Fashioned Turkey if you can find it.


Old-Fashioned Roast Turkey

This was a great recipe for turkey. It's not complicated (and that's my favorite part) and it was really moist. It didn't require much prep time and it didn't require basting. Again, this is from Cook's Country. ;)

Old-Fashioned Roast Turkey
from: Cook's Country Magazine Oct/Nov '08
Serves 10 to 12

1 pkg cheesecloth (2-yds)
4 cups cold water
1 (12- to 14-lb) turkey (natural turkey - not self-basting)
1 lb salt pork, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
** if you can't find salt pork click here for a "how-to" brine pork shoulder

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove cheesecloth from package and fold into 18-inch square. Place cheesecloth in large bowl and cover with water. Spray V-rack and pan with butter spray. Tuck wings behind back and arrange turkey, breast-up, on V-rack set inside roasting pan. Prick skin of breast and legs of turkey all over with a fork, cover breast and legs of turkey with salt pork, top with soaked cheesecloth (pouring remaining water into roasting pan, and cover cheesecloth completely with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Roast turkey until breast meat registers 140 degrees, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove foil, cheesecloth, and salt pork and discard. Increase oven temp to 425 degrees. Continue to roast until breast meat registers 165 degrees and thigh meat registers 175 degrees, 40 to 60 minutes longer. Transfer turkey to carving board and let rest for 30 minutes.


The recipe in Cook's Country Magazine Oct/Nov '08 included a recipe for gravy. We don't really use gravy at our house so I didn't make it. But it sounds delicious and fairly simple. Just remember to keep the giblets and neck from your turkey.

Honey Spiced Cranberry Sauce

This is seriously the BEST cranberry sauce I've ever had. It was almost like eating applesauce with a little tartness at the end. Yumm-O!! It's really simple and I picked it because I had most of the ingredients (except the canned cranberry sauce) in my pantry. This would make a great condiment for a turkey sandwich and is great with stuffing, too!!

Honey Spiced Cranberry Sauce
from: Cook's Country Magazine Oct/Nov '08

1 16-oz can cranberry sauce
2 Tbs honey
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice

Pulse together in food processor until combined. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

See, I told you it was easy. ;) Cook's Country Magazine is by far my favorite cooking magazine. I enjoy reading each article and the foodie pictures are wonderful. Check out a copy and consider putting a subscription on your Christmas wish list.

Hearts at Home - Resources

The first weekend of November I attended the North Central Hearts at Home Conference. It was great! Of course there were vendors and I only wish I had more time to look through them all. I did make a few purchases and found some resources that I will be putting on my Amazon wish list.

Items I bought:
Professionalizing Motherhood by: Jill Savage
What a great book! I finished this while I was in California. It was a great read with lots of helpful advice and encouragement. I plan on doing a full book review to discuss some of the things that I really related to.

Time Out for Kidz - naughty seat
I wish I had thought of this. Very creative idea and I'm keeping one in my purse until further notice. ;)

Children and Sexual Abuse
by: Victoria L. Johnson
This little book had a lot of great information. It's sad to know that there are so many kids out there who have suffered from sexual abuse in it's many forms. It really calls you to pray for your children.

Simply Romantic Nights Kit
from Family Life
I bought this for a friend for her anniversary. We bought one for my husband's parents for our wedding gift to them. They had been enjoying it so much that we decided to buy one for ourselves and we've really had fun with it. I think this would make a great baby gift as it gets more difficult to create romantic evenings after having kids. A great resource for couples!!

My Wish List:
My Heart's At Home
by: Jill Savage

I believe this takes Professionalizing Motherhood to the next level. I found the first book so encouraging that I may be purchasing this one next.

A Life That Says Welcome
by: Karen Ehman

This book has been recommended by fellow bloggers and I've had it on my wish list for a while, but I was reintroduced to it at the conference and Karen Ehman was even "manning" the table. It was nice to visit with her and share my struggles with hospitality - I like the idea of it, but am not good at doing it.

Chosen Family Prayer Rocks Kit
This is a kit that includes a wooden bowl, tall pillar candle, and medium-size river rocks. You right names on the rocks as a reminder to pray for your family. It would be a great tradition to start together as a family.

I'm sure there are plenty more great books and other resources that I didn't get to peek at while at the conference. Next time, I'll make sure I get a little more time to shop. ;)