Friday, November 26, 2010

My Daughter’s Seventh Birthday

We celebrated my daughter’s seventh birthday with some of her friends tonight.  She wanted to have a heart birthday party. 


We made heart garland.  My niece and daughter created several hearts for us to cut out and string together.  I used a needle and thread to link them, making two holes in each heart.  We had a great decoration for little money, and my children were able to make it!


My daughter requested a heart, Funfetti cake – red with pink lettering.  Well, I couldn’t quite get it to be red (I’ve got to work on that!), but it still turned out beautifully.  I used a dark pink/light red frosting and sprinkled red sugar on top.  Then I actually used a purple decorating gel tube to write her name on top.  She loved it!


I’m a “homemade” girl, in general, so I searched for a homemade Funfetti cake recipe.  I found one that turned out quite well.

I used a single heart pan for the cake, so I had to cook it quite a bit longer.  Once it was cool, I cut it in half so I could put a frosting layer in the middle.


My father-in-law had brought me two dozen roses earlier in the week, which was such a blessing.  Little did I know then that I would use them to decorate for the birthday party as well!

We made felt pouch purses, filled them with a lip balm and some Smarties, and used them for the girls to take home as favors.  The girls enjoyed making these.  If you would like more step-by-step instructions, leave a comment, and I can post about that another time.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Helpful Charts and Lists

I am doing a lot of evaluating in my life.  I am trying to pare down and improve!  I want a more orderly, peaceful home and life – don’t we all?!  Step by step I get there, but life is always changing.  Therefore, life always needs to be evaluated from time to time.  Tweaks need to be made.  Life needs to be simplified.  New things need to be accepted as the norm for my life.

I ran across a good, simplifying blog for homemakers and mothers.  The woman has some great downloads, so I thought I would share the link here.

Check it out!  There are things like:

  • Grocery List
  • Budgeting for Christmas Worksheet
  • Daily Docket
  • Weekly Checklist

I think I will be using some of these downloads, or at least implementing some of the ideas from them!

For the good of our homes…

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Invention #2 - Crunchy Lettuce-less Salad


The idea for this salad was formed when I needed a salad but didn’t have any lettuce!  I mixed various crunchy items and topped them with a dressing.  It was very tasty, and we loved the crunchiness!

Crunchy Lettuce-less Salad


1/2 red pepper

1 cucumber

1 carrot

1 apple (I used Empire)

~1/4 cup almonds (or another nut)

Toss all together.

Top with dressing of your choice.  I used Italian.  I think a vinaigrette, like Raspberry or Balsamic, would work well, too.  Maybe a poppy seed dressing??  The sky is the limit! 

Eat with fervor, enjoying the crunch!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Invention #1–Cheeseburger Quesadillas

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

That has been true for me this week.  I was getting low on groceries and was not able to make it to the store yet.  I needed and wanted to be creative.  I made up a couple, new ideas/recipes.  Today I will showcase the first one, and I will share the other one soon!


Cheeseburger Quesadillas

  • 10 –12 tortillas
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • garlic pepper
  • 1 to 2 T ketchup and mustard
  • cheese – sliced or shredded
  • diced tomatoes
  • diced pickles

Saute ground beef and onion with garlic pepper until beef is browned.  Drain.  Add ketchup and mustard to beef and saute for a few minutes.

Layer beef mixture with cheese, tomatoes, and pickles on half of a tortilla.  Fold the other half over the mixture.  Place in an oiled, frying pan and cook until both sides are golden – flipping in the middle of the process, of course!


*Obviously, you can customize for your eaters.  I omitted the tomatoes and pickles for my 5 year old.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Simple, Thrifty Lunch



Looking for an easy, quick, and thrifty lunch option?  Look no further!

Buttered Noodles with a

Side of Fresh Fruit or Vegetables

Cook one (~12 oz.)  package of egg noodles or similar in a large pot of salted, BOILING water until noodles are tender.

Drain noodles.  Add 1/2 stick of butter and salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve with fresh fruit or vegetables!

Not much labor or time involved, and my children love it!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Math Muffin Match

My daughter has been having a hard time learning her math facts.  I have been rattling my brain, trying to find different ways to help her.  I thought of this muffin match idea, inspired by the phonics program we have used (“Happy Phonics”). 


In our phonics program, the tops were not custom-made to fit the bottoms, but I made these pairs this way so my daughter could self-check her answers easily.  She really likes this!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bless Your Husband

Today I took out an old, large, bound journal with the intent of making some notes.  I am evaluating various areas of my life, trying to refine and improve some things.

I found a good list of things I had written down years ago about being a good wife.



  • Your husband is #1.  (Remember that!)
  • Do not focus on YOUR day when he comes home.                            Seek to bless him.
  • Look nice.
  • Be kind.
  • Thank him for what he does to help around the house, even if it isn’t how YOU would do it.
  • Strive to keep the flame alive:  Love him, adore him, write notes, surprise him, be sexy.

Challenge yourself to do something this week that will put a spark in your heart towards your husband.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Great Granola


This granola is very yummy and

quite simple to make.  Try it!

Crunchy Granola

original recipe found here



Prep Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 55 mins

  1. Heat oven to 275 degrees F.
  2. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Combine brown sugar and water in a saucepan.  Cook and stir on medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt.
  5. In large mixing bowl, mix oats, nuts, and brown sugar mixture.
  6. Mix thoroughly.
  7. Spread onto cookie sheets and bake 45 minutes-1 hour until golden brown.
  8. When granola has cooled completely, add fruits and coconut if you wish and store in airtight container.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Snack Stash

This is a great way to be proactive with your snacks and have individual portions on hand for when you need them – snack time at home, on-the-go days, packing lunches, etc.  My friend, Linda, gave me this idea when she told me she did this to have snacks ready for her high-schoolers to grab for making lunches. 

Just divide a large package of something, like pretzels, into snack or sandwich bags using the suggested serving amount that is written on the bag.  It saves time and money!


Some Ideas for Packing:

  • Pretzels
  • Peanut Butter Crackers
  • Trail Mix
  • Chips or Popcorn
  • Dried Fruit
  • Homemade Baked-Goods

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Refreshing Day


The past couple months have been absolutely exhausting.  As the school year started, I felt pretty good about it.  However, people would say, “How are you feeling about homeschooling with a baby in the house?”  Well, I’ve done it before, and honestly, I was thinking about next year, how it would be harder when my baby is a walking toddler – gulp!  As I got into the swing of things – homeschooling my three older children, school life with my teenaged niece (for whom we are guardians), a completely insane work schedule for my husband, soccer season, piano lessons, Baby starting to wake up every few hours for feedings, sickness in the house, etc., I began to feel like I was living on fumes… and still do! 

My niece left for a trip to the Creation Museum last Thursday.  I decided to do something fun with the rest of the crew.  We took the day off school.  My mom came over, and we went bowling.  Then we went to the cider mill to pick up some cider and doughnuts.  We were laid back the rest of the day and played some games.  It is the first time, in a LONG TIME, that I have actually felt like I had a day devoted to relaxation.  I was so thankful my mom came over.  If she had not come, I probably would have tried to do something fun with the kids, only to keep thinking about how many things I was leaving undone!


If you haven’t had a refreshing day in a while, one where you can stop thinking about all you have to do and just enjoy life, I encourage you to plan one.  It is my goal to make this happen more often and also to make Sunday a more restful day. 

Some tips that might help you keep focus off your “To Do” List:

  • Invite someone to come along or include your spouse in the action!
  • Make a basic plan for the day and also plan for at least one of the events to be out of the house.
  • Do some food prep. the day before!  Wednesday night I made granola for Thursday’s breakfast and prepped some of the items for Thursday’s dinner as well. 

Whatever you do, take a deep breath and refresh yourself!  Life is too short!  We must take some time to enjoy it!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Children Will Make Choices


When I became a mother nine years ago, I always pictured my sweet children standing beside me, walking the way I walk, doing the things I do, following God and serving Him… purely.  Over the past few years, though, I have seen things that remind me that my children will grow up and determine, ultimately, who they want to be.  That can be a very scary thing, if they choose the wrong path.  I have seen heartaches in good, solid, Christian families where children have been raised as proper as proper can be and choose to go astray.  I have seen the culture of Christian schools and churches.   Many times, they don’t appear to be different than the world.  The youth have the same entertainment, speak the same filthy language, have improper dating relationships, wear immodest clothing, etc.  It is disheartening, to say the least.

My heart’s cry goes out… I pray that God will preserve my children and present them before His throne blameless one day.  I pray that they will be able to find godly mates and that they will always cherish the Christian heritage they were blessed to have in their youth.  I pray that my prayers will make a difference in their lives!

May we do all that we can to help our children make good choices.  May our prayers be potent, our example be worthy, and our love be fervent!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bear with Me

Slowly but surely, step by step, I am going to update the look of my blog.  I hope you can bear with me during the process.  Forgive me if you happen to hop on when I am trying something new and it looks gaudy.  If there’s something particular you like, let me know!

Thanks for your patience!

Chocolate Pecan Pie

This recipe is great for the Fall, especially for Thanksgiving, which is when I like to make it. 
Taken from Honey Acres’ “Cooking with Honey” recipe booklet.
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 pkg. (6 oz.) chocolate chips
1 9 inch pie shell, unbaked
3 large eggs
1 cup mild flavored honey
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 c (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled
Sprinkle nuts and chips over bottom of pie shell.  In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, honey, and vanilla.  Blend in butter and pour mixture into pie shell.  Bake at 325 degrees 50 to 60 minutes or until firm.  Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.  Makes 8 rich servings.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream – YUM!

Following is the piecrust I make and use.
Whole Wheat Piecrust
Taken from The New Laurel’s Kitchen
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or you can use my favorite ap flour made with ultragrain)
1/2 cup wheat germ (or 1/4 cup flour)
3/4 t salt
10 T butter, chilled
4 to 6 T cold water
Stir together flour, wheat germ, and salt.  Grate the cold butter on a coarse grater or cut into small pieces, tossing it with the flour as you go.  Use a pastry cutter or two knives to combine the flour and butter until it is the consistency of rolled oats.  (I actually use my hands!) Sprinkle with the water, using just enough to hold the dough together.
Using cupped fingers, form the dough quickly and gently.  As soon as it will hold together, make it into a ball.
Press the dough out into a thick disk.  Roll to size between sheets of waxed paper.  Gently press the dough into the plate so there are no air pockets.  Cut off the excess with a sharp knife, but make the rim double thick to keep it from burning.
To keep the pastry from shrinking, and to get the flakiest crust, refrigerate it for about 2 hours or overnight before filling.
To prebake, place in a preheated oven (400 degrees) for 10 to 12 minutes.  Cool and fill.  For a partly baked shell bake only until the pastry is set, about 7 minutes.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fight Discouragement!

During a rough time this week, I actually made my son tape a smile  to his face to remind him to be happy while he was doing his school work.  Yes, it could have been a lot prettier, but you get the point!


Do you feel discouraged?  I am fighting discouragement a lot these days.  I think “FIGHTING” is the key word.  It can be easy to feel down and out and not so easy to get out of it.  We have to put energy into getting out of the slump.

First of all, evaluate how the discouragement is coming.

  • What are you READING
  • What are you LISTENING TO or HEARING?
  • What are you WATCHING?
  • What are you SAYING?
  • What are you DOING (bad habits, sinful actions, etc…) that is discouraging you?

When you figure out the answers to these questions, get rid of, or at least limit, those sources.  Maybe you need to stop listening to the news or spending time with a certain person.  Maybe you need to limit the time you spend doing certain leisure activities or ax certain activities altogether.  Ask God to help you determine what is weighing you down and how you can avoid it.

THEN, pour in the positive.

  • Of course, we need to spend time with God.  We need to PRAY, SING TO HIM, READ HIS WORD, and experience HIM as often as we can.  His presence is refreshing, and He can lift us up.  We need to fix our eyes on GOD and the things above.  It can seem impossible to find necessary time with God sometimes, but fit in nuggets of time – whenever you can.
  • Get some time to yourself.  Send the kids outside.  Get a babysitter.  Wake up a tad earlier if you can.  Take some time to think and read.  Accomplish something – a project or a hobby.
  • Do something fun.  Laugh.  I was having a horrible day recently.  I took some time out to play a game with the kids, and before you know it, we were laughing.  It was therapeutic… so therapeutic that my husband thought I was doing “just fine” when I was actually falling apart.  ~smile~
  • Spend time with people who have pure hearts and who are encouraging.
  • Listen to uplifting music or sermons or better yet, SING on your own to God.  There have been times when I have literally FORCED a praise song out of my being, and it has brought healing.
  • Try one of “The Cozy Nook”’s recipes.  <wink>  There should be some new ones soon!

I wish you an ENCOURAGING week.  May God do a work in our lives!