~my thoughts about life~

Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Recipes

I know Christmas is past, but here are a few more dessert recipes that are good year round.

Grandma's York Mint Brownies
3 sticks butter, melted
3 C sugar
5 eggs
1 C cocoa
1 t salt
1 T vanilla
2 C flour
1 t baking powder
24 (1 1/2") York Peppermint Patties
Heat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13" baking dish. In a large bowl, stir together butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs, stir until blended. Stir in flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Blend well. Reserve 2 C batter; spread remaining batter in pan. Arrange patties in single layer over batter, about 1/2" apart. Spread reserved batter over patties. Bake 50-55 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Cut into squares.
Peanut Butter Blossoms
1/4 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C peanut butter
1/2 C Butter, softened
1 egg
1 1/2 C Flour
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped

Heat oven to 375. In large bowl, beat sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter, and egg on medium speed. Stir in flour, soda, and baking powder. Shape dough into 1” balls; roll in additional granulated sugar. Place 2” apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are light brown. Immediately press 1 candy in center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.
Red Velvet Cake
1 1/2 C sugar
1 C Crisco
2 eggs
1 oz. red food coloring
3 1/2 T cocoa
1 t vanilla
pinch of salt
1 t baking soda
1 T vinegar
2 1/2 C sifted cake flour
1 C buttermilk
Cream together sugar and Crisco. Add 2 eggs. Make a paste of food coloring, cocoa, vanilla, and salt. Add to first 3 ingredients. Add baking soda dissolved in vinegar. Add flour. Lastly, add buttermilk. Pour into 2 round cake pans. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or 12 minutes for cupcakes. Do not overbake.

Make a paste of 2T flour and 1 C milk. Cook until thick; cool completely. Add 2 sticks softened butter, 1 C powdered sugar, and 1t vanilla. Beat at high speed until light and fluffy. (If icing looks curdled, it may be too cold. Microwave for 5 seconds. If it looks runny, it may be too warm. Set bowl in a sink of ice water for a few minutes.)
Buttercream Frosting

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Thereafter, The Plusses and Minuses

(Originally written Monday, not posted until today due to laziness.)

We survived. The days after Christmas are always a little sad for me. It's actually over. It takes months to prepare and it's over in just a few hours. But then, I smile and think to myself It's finally over! So here is my Plus and Minus list for today.

Christmas: The Days After

+ I don't have to wrap any more presents for a long time!

- Now that the magic of Christmas is past, we are just at the beginning of the very long season of winter.

+ We still have plenty of Christmas baked goods. I made Peanut Butter Blossoms, Chocolate Crinkles, Chocolate Covered Pretzels, and Red Velvet Cupcakes. I was also able to bring home some of Grandma's Peppermint Brownies and my Aunt's Sugar Cookies. Recipes, anyone?

- I put on a little weight while I was down with my bum ankle. These delicious home-baked sweets are not going to help that situation at all!

+ Hubby was extra thoughtful this year. I am now the owner of an iPod Nano (my first iPod), a huge, adorable, red speckled stock pot, a Nikon Cool Pix camera, a lamp, and 2 pairs of pajamas that are too small.

- I figured out why Target's pajamas cost $15 and Victoria's Secret's cost $50. I requested that Hubby abstain from his annual VS purchase because they are so darn expensive. But the set he bought from Target would fit a 10-year old girl and look like they will last maybe a dozen washes. I have VS jammies that are easily six years old. Next year, I may just allow him to splurge.

+ My kids received so many neat toys that should hold their attention throughout this long, cold winter.

- My kids received so many toys that will clutter the house, break prematurely, make loud noises, and cause fighting.

+ I am thrilled to have all the boxes and bags put away and all the trash removed from the house. My house is finally to the "livable" point.

- This huge Christmas tree in the middle of my living room window is getting on my nerves.

+ My house will look so open and clean when I get all the Christmas clutter down.

- My house will look so bare and empty when I get all the Christmas decorations down.

+ The kids are still off school.

- The kids are still off school.

+ Our Christmas schedule changed this year, allowing us more time for opening and enjoying gifts and relaxing while enjoying each other's company. I cherish the memories of sitting down with my four children on Christmas morning, reading the Christmas story from Luke 2.

- Hubby is sick and went to bed at 6:00 PM tonight.

+ I know I'm due to be sick.

+/- I have about 360 days before we have to do this all again.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Typing that title automatically sent me singing the Beatles tune by the same name. Trying to find time to blog this time of year is so difficult. Yesterday was a day packed full of so much stuff. Fortunately, I started out with a clean house due to the Christmas party I hosted for my church teen group.

So I set out to finish my Christmas shopping. I ordered the majority of my gifts online this year but refused to internet buy for Hubby. He would see the receipts. So I decided to wander around Target for an hour and half with no clue what to buy. Baby Girl always insists that I drive her around in that huge semi-truck of a shopping cart. I hate it. I'm neither a good driver of a car nor a shopping cart. But this one is just plain ridiculous. I crash into things all over the store. And then five minutes into the trip, Baby Girl refuses to sit. (This pic is not her...it's the only one I could find of the Monster Cart.) During yesterday's trip, she figured out how to hide in clothing racks. I was stressed to the max and unfortunately lost my temper. I grabbed her out of the middle of a rack and forcefully put her back into the cart, all while raising my voice. This is something I never do in public. And lo and behold, there was a woman standing 5 feet from me who witnessed the whole thing. I was sure she would call security on me and my screaming toddler. She must be a mom who sympathized with me because she didn't utter a word.

So with the shopping officially done, I headed home to find a stack of four UPS boxes on my porch for the third day in a row. (God bless delivery drivers this season!) I geared up for hours of gift wrapping. I became emotional wrapping my Grandmother's Christmas present. I came to the realization that this was likely the last Christmas gift I may ever wrap for her. The dementia is overtaking her life. The evening before, she complained about my husband and kids who came to visit, referring to them as a man she'd never before laid eyes on who had a slew of kids. She said she'd be shocked if there was anything left in the basement after their visit. Surely they were filling their pockets. This broke my heart. When she was later told that the man was my husband, she didn't understand how I could have a husband...I'm only a child. It's heart wrenching.

After the children were tucked into bed, I discovered I was missing my wedding ring. I only wear one piece of jewelry and have not lost it in 14 years. I tore apart my bedroom, thinking I had removed it five minutes earlier to put lotion on my hands. Hubby tore apart the house. Finally, when I was in tears, he suggested that maybe I left it in Baby Girl's room an hour earlier when I lathered her with lotion after her bath. Not caring that she was sleeping, I barged into her room and began searching in the dark. Viola! Hubby continues to be my hero!

Then at 3:00 AM, Son #2 woke up sick. He is a champ. He never complains or whines when he's sick. He gets the job done and goes on with life. But he was bummed about missing the Christmas party at school and spoiling his year and a half of perfect attendance. Poor guy.

But here is the after pic of the day:

I consider it a success, in spite of the difficulties. I'm anxious to get caught up so I can enjoy Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year. (I don't think I coined that phrase. It may be borrowed. Pardon the plagiarism.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Must-Reads

There is nothing quite like a good book and a mug of hot tea on a peaceful, snowy evening. I get in the mood to read every Christmas season. And I have a couple books that I like to read each year. The Swaddling Cloth by Nan Pamer is the best religious Christmas novel I have ever read. Deep and well written, it tells a captivating story with a Biblical background. I can honestly say that I couldn't put it down. It graces my bookshelf year round. I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves reading and Christmas.

And when I am in the mood to read something humorous and lighthearted, I pick up John Grisham's Skipping Christmas. Not only does it make me laugh out loud, it reminds me of someone who used to be a part of my life. I have never seen the movie based on this book because I'm sure it will only disappoint me. But John Grisham never disappoints. So if you haven't read it yet, you need to get started.

Both of these books are relatively short and can be read in a couple hours or days. As soon as I get all my Christmas responsibilities finished, I can be found in my favorite reading chair with these two books and my mug of tea.

Friday, December 17, 2010

National Free Shipping Day

Today- Friday, December 17, 2o10 is National Free Shipping Day. It is the last day that most retailers will guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve. Since I have been off my feet for these past few days, I have taken great advantage of companies that offer free shipping for online shopping. I have yet to pay shipping for any online purchase I have made so far. Many websites offer free shipping for orders over $50. So I was organized and figured out how to group gifts for family and friends into orders of $50. But today, it's even better than that! 1008 different stores are documented as having free shipping on any order! 715 more stores are offering free shipping with a catch. For a list of these retailers, click here.

Also, before you hit the button to submit your order, take a quick second to Google online coupons for wherever you are shopping. Yesterday, I saved over $30 at Bath and Body Works due to a 20% off + free shipping coupon. I also had the same luck at Kohl's. Just beware of shady sites that require you to click on a link or share your email to get the code. Reputable sites show the code without any special clicking. And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it just might be.

So, online shoppers, start your engines! Shop on! But beware and make good purchasing decisions today! I'm ready to get my shop on...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

People-watching is one of my favorite activities. I love it when I have the time to just sit on a bench and observe the crowd as it passes by. As a mom of 4, I don't have much time for people-watching any more. Actually, people are probably watching me. But sometimes you observe things even when you aren't looking for them. I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good - I was overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers at the hospital yesterday. I was managing my crutches like a 12-month-old who is just learning to walk. People offered to give me their place in line, they opened car doors for me, asked if I needed help, and I even had one offer of a ride home by a kind nurse. It restores your faith in humanity.

The Bad - The day before my debilitating injury, we had an unseasonal rainstorm. It amazes me how cars will not pause to let a woman in high heels, carrying a baby and an umbrella pass. They would prefer, instead, to continue at a normal pace, not worrying about splashing mud puddles on pedestrians.

The Ugly - Alone at the mall food court, I was able to observe the mother and young son ahead of me in line. He couldn't have been older than five and was a total sweetheart. The mother only stopped texting long enough to place her order. She ignored her son and yelled at him for bothering her. When he questioned where the straws were located, she coldly answered, "Right there," without looking up. "Where?" he asked. "Right in front of your face!" she yelled. I calmly picked up a straw and handed it to him. His innocent big brown eyes looked up at me and he smiled. Precious. Then the mother demanded that he move the tray and drink along the line. She texted. He commented on how the bars on the counter were like train tracks. No response. She had no clue how sweet of a child she was blessed to have. I pray that I don't take my children for granted, yelling at them for no reason (in public, especially) because I have a lot on my mind. Sometimes I try to be thankful for the lessons I learn just by watching others make the wrong decisions. It was 4 days ago and I still think about the boy. I hope he has a good Christmas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Down for the Count

In just a split second, all your plans for the day, the week, and the month can be drastically altered. At 8:00 AM yesterday, I missed the bottom step in my home and came crashing to the floor. A doctor's appointment and X-rays at the hospital diagnosed that I had a bad ankle sprain. Here are the problems caused by this event:
  • I cannot walk on my foot and must keep it elevated and iced.
  • I am in moderate pain but hate pain medication.
  • I have 4 kids.
  • I am totally awkward with crutches.
  • My arms are totally sore from trying to learn how to use crutches.
  • Christmas is in 11 days and I am not ready.
  • My house is growing messier by the moment.
  • I have a party at my house on Monday with 20 teenage girls.
  • I am supposed to prepare a good amount of food for this party.
  • My husband is totally occupied with a busy schedule at work and I'm practically a single parent.
  • And worst of all, the homemade Christmas cookies have run out and I can't do anything about it.
  • Also, my mom and I make nutroll each Christmas and I don't see how in the world that's possible this year.
But I try to see my glass as half-full.
  • I have a legitimate reason to be completely lazy with no guilt attached.
  • My mother took off work to watch Baby Girl.
  • Homemade meals are being brought in.
  • It's too cold to go out anywhere anyway.
  • I can probably finish my Christmas shopping online.
  • I am getting caught up on my television watching.
  • I can probably wrap presents with my foot elevated.
  • I have a beautiful snowy landscape out my window to admire.
So blog posts may be few and far between. I'm not going anywhere, doing anything, or taking any pictures. I'm not baking anything or trying new recipes. To put it frankly, I'm pretty much a bore right now. So keep me in your thoughts. I hope to return soon with exciting adventures, stories, and photos to share. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Memories

When I was a little girl, my favorite part of Christmas was finding all of my ornaments and placing them on the tree. My grandmother bought each grandkid their own unique oranment each year. She marked each with our name and the date. It was such a special tradition...we couldn't wait to see our new ornament each year. So now my own tree is decorated with a mish-mosh of ornaments. None of them match but they all carry special meaning. This red and white bulb was one of my earliest ornaments. I can see that it's dated 1978 on the bottom. I was two years old.

When Hubby and I were engaged, he moved into the house we now share just before Christmas. As a surprise, I borrowed a rickety old tree from someone to put up while he was at work. We had no ornaments yet (all of mine were still on my mom's tree) so I had to improvise. I made strings of popcorn, hung candy canes, and begged 3 old ornaments off my mom. She couldn't remember where she got them and never put them on the tree. I still have the 3 red and white gingham ornaments on my tree to remember the days when we didn't have much.

In 1996, we were married. Our wedding colors were hunter green and gold and our theme was cherubs. I know...but you have to realize it was the 90s. We found these Christmas ornaments, which I fell in love with. We spray-painted them gold and included them in the centerpieces at the reception. Most of them have broken since but one remains to grace my tree each year.

When we were newly married with young kids, life was hard. Ends didn't always meet since I gave up my teaching salary to be a stay-at-home mom. We were still adjusting to sacrificing our own needs to be better spouses. Tension was high at times. A weekend at a marriage retreat was a life-changing time. Couples sat around a bonfire, sharing special moments with one another. All the husbands were asked to make a S'More for their wives. (Mine was burnt, but that's not the point.) It was romantic and revitalizing. After the retreat, Hubby and I found this S'Mores ornament at an Amish gift shop. So it now hangs on my tree to mark the change from hardships to bliss.

As life progressed from being single, honeymooners, and young parents to a having a large family, ornaments started revolving around children. My mom picked up the ornament tradition and started buying one for each of my kids every year. One year for Halloween, the 3 kids dressed up as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Cowerdly Lion. My amazing mom found these bread dough ornaments to signify that year. (The poor Lion broke.) They hang together on my tree to remind me of my sweet children (well, minus Baby Girl who wasn't born yet.)

But my all-time favorite ornament is because of a very early memory from my childhood. This little elf bell hung on our tree every year. It was my favorite. I always wanted to take it down and ring the bell. My mom wouldn't let me because it was old and fragile. It was from my great-grandmother. I remember getting upset because I thought the simple task of ringing a bell was something I could handle. So when I moved out, I stole the bell from my mom's tree. Don't worry, I informed her of the theft. I explained that it held so many memories for me and that I wanted to have it. She didn't argue. So it is the first ornament on the tree every year and has the most special spot. And no, I don't let my kids touch it. Too much meaning.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Randomness from a Mom of 4

Son #2 just explained to me the phrase being a talker.
"It means you talk a lot."
Thanks for clearing that up. I've always wondered.

My children's favorite meal is Make Your Own Night. It means Daddy is working late and you get to choose between one of the staples: Spaghetti-Os, chicken noodle soup, Ramen noodles, or chicken nuggets. Big Sis specially requested tater-totters tonight.

Hubby is in peak season at work so he's been working late every night. I feel like a single mom. He spends an hour or less with us in the evenings before he goes to bed. But the up side is that his peak bonuses will be more than enough to pay for Christmas.

I remember when Son #1 was younger, he asked what I was getting Daddy for Christmas. I knew he couldn't be trusted. So I lied and said I was getting Daddy a trash can. As soon as Hubby walked in the door from work, he proudly exclaimed, "Mommy got you a trash can for Christmas." So this year when Big Sis asked the same question, I gave the same answer. She blew it too. But the bad news is, Hubby really does want a trash can this year.

Silly me thought Baby Girl was taking a fabulously long nap today. Nope. Instead, she was styling her hair with a paste made of Vaseline and Desitin. The picture doesn't do it justice. This incident called for an immediate bath.

Baby Girl has a Little People airplane that plays a song when you push a button. Her brothers changed the ending lyrics as follows:
"High and low, high and low, up in the sky and away we go,
With a cloud over here and a cloud over there, I'm not wearing underwear."
So now every time this song plays, I sing along, using the new invented lyrics. Thanks, Boys.

While we're on the subject of incorrect song lyrics, Big Sis taught her baby sister to sing
"Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream,
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is by the stream."

And instead of Foofa from Yo Gabba Gabba being "pink and happy," my kids think she's "freakin' happy."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Cards

I was so excited about the small, orange box the guy in the brown truck delivered yesterday! My free Shutterfly Christmas cards arrived! They were everything I hoped they would be and I was very pleased with them! They now are all addressed lay waiting to be stamped. Shutterfly photo cards will be a new tradition for me! Thanks again, Shutterfly!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cookie of the Day

I jokingly refer to my new baking adventure as Cookie of the Day. It seems like there is a new cookie almost every day because of how quickly they are disappearing. But my generous nature of sharing them with the entire neighborhood is partly to blame.

Yesterday the kids had a snow day so I decided to whip up something fun and different. We made Monster Cookies. I hadn't tasted a Monster Cookie since I was probably my kids' age. When I was little, a family friend would often have us over to her home. I remember her always making Pizza Burgers and Monster Cookies. I don't remember if the cookies were really that enormous or if I was just little. But the first bite brought back memories of my long gone youth. If you've never tasted them before, hopefully you'll enjoy them.

Monster Cookies
6 eggs
2 C sugar
1 lb. brown sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
1 T vanilla
1 T light corn syrup
4 t baking powder
1 1/2 lbs. (24 oz.) peanut butter
21 oz. quick oats (about 8 C)
1 (12 oz.) bag chocolate chips
Plain M&Ms

Mix eggs, sugar, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, corn syrup, baking powder, and peanut butter with a hand mixer in the order listed. Stir in oats and chocolate chips with a sturdy spoon. Drop by ice cream scoop onto a cookie sheet and press down to form round cookies. Garnish each cookie with 6 M&Ms.

Bake 9 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Take care not to over or under bake cookies. Let cookies sit for 5 minutes before removing to cooling racks. Cookies stay moist and delicious several days.

*My Notes:
- I only had old-fashioned oats, not quick oats. They seemed to work fine.
- I baked each tray of cookies for 11 to 13 minutes. My stoneware pans took longer than my aluminum sheets.
- I made about 70 fairly large cookies. I think the recipe could be cut in half if you don't have the need to feed an army.

Snow Day

It's our first snow day of the year. The current temperature is 19 degrees. It has been snowing constantly since Sunday and it doesn't look like it will stop soon. I think today will be a day of Christmas music, cookie baking, board games, hot cocoa, and pajamas.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Well, we had a short lapse in fresh, homemade cookies due to the fact that the Chocolate Chunk Cookies didn't even make it 24 hours. My parents and brother got wind of the fact that I was attempting to have homemade cookies constantly this month. So they helped speed the process along.

This recipe has to be my family's favorite. My mom always made them around Christmastime when I was growing up. They were too special to have all year round. (Which means they were time consuming and somewhat pricey to make.) So when I make them around here, it is cause for celebration. They're not that much work, you just have to plan ahead. I'm sure I will be posting another recipe soon...these are bound to go quickly!

Chocolate Crinkles
1/2 C vegetable oil
2 C flour
4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate*
2 t baking powder
2 C sugar
1/2 t salt
2 t vanilla
4 eggs
1/2 C + powdered sugar, set aside

In large bowl, mix oil, chocolate, sugar and vanilla. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Cover; refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray aluminum foil lined cookie sheet with Pam.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls into powdered sugar; roll around to coat and shape into balls. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.

Bake 12 minutes or until almost no imprint remains when touched lightly in center. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Store tightly covered.

*I use Nestle pre-melted unsweetened chocolate that comes in a yellow box. It's much easier!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Terrible Twos

A friend and I were discussing how we need to invent a Baby Cage for our overactive toddlers. She recently blogged about how her son nearly caught the house on fire while she was showering. My first thought was What's it like to shower whenever you want? All my showers are after 9:00 PM or when a responsible adult is available to watch over my baby monkey. These last couple weeks with Monkey Girl have been especially trying.

Since we started potty training, the bathroom doors have been left open. Previously, the bathrooms were off-limit places where my sweet daughter could totally reap havoc. She has been known to climb the drawer handles of the vanity and remove everything from the medicine cabinet. She has bathed in the toilet. She has used feminine products to leave a Hansel and Gretel-type trail through the house. Just a few days ago (please stop reading here if you're easily grossed out), I found her with the toilet plunger in her mouth! (I know!) Disgusted, I scooped her up and began washing her mouth out with soap. Her enthusiastic reply was, "Mmmmm!" (She won't eat food but enjoys the taste of soap. Hmmm...)

The next day, she decided to use a magic marker like lipstick. I really wish I had snapped a picture of her turquoise blue lips before angrily cleaning them off.

And yesterday, she decided that she forgot how to use the potty. At the end of the day I counted eight or nine pair of tiny, wet panties in the laundry.

So if anyone ever wondered why I'm anxious, stressed, half nuts, gray-haired, and spastic...the answer is one adorable, brown-eyed two-year old.

But there is usually a happy ending to these stories. While she was supposed to be in her bed napping, I kept hearing footsteps, singing, and playing coming from her room. I put her back in bed umpteen times. Finally, I was at my wit's end. I stomped up the stairs, fully intent on hollering at her and disciplining her. I swung open the door and looked at her, standing in the middle of an empty floor. "Where are all your toys?" I asked, remembering how the floor was covered with them the last time I was there. She pointed to her toy basket and replied, "Battet." She cleaned her own room! Without being told! Awww....what a sweet, wonderful, angel daughter I have! Now I have to take back all those other things I said about her!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cookie Tradition & Softened Butter

I read a post that suggested a home should not be without homemade cookies in the month of December. I couldn't agree more. So I am attempting to keep freshly baked cookies on the counter through Christmas. It may be a challenge, however, because I know how quickly these cookies are likely to disappear.

Last night's cookies were good, old-fashioned chocolate chunk. My recipe is just a tweak of the Tollhouse Cookie recipe, but I'll share it anyway.

Many recipes called for softened butter. There is a great difference between softened and melted butter. The consistency of the butter can dramatically alter your finished product. If you are prepared in advance, you can leave the sticks of butter on the countertop for a couple hours. But that never happens in my house. Luckily, I learned how to soften it in the microwave without melting it. You must reduce the power on your microwave. I had never done that before so wasn't even sure how to do it. But once I figured it out, I learned that 2 sticks of butter take 40 seconds at 20% power in my microwave. Yours may vary. Too long and it's liquid. It's better to try 10 seconds at a time and keep checking it.

Now that I've got this power application down, I've started to microwave my popcorn at 90% power. It seems to help more kernals to pop without burning. So there's your cooking tip for the day! Now, on to the recipe:

Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 C flour
1 t salt
1 t baking powder
dash cinnamon
2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 C sugar
3/4 C brown sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla
2 eggs
2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks

In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, soda, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, mix butter, sugars, and vanilla by hand. Mix in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture without over mixing. Add in chocolate.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until edges are brown. Cool on the tray for a couple minutes then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Friday, December 3, 2010

So Long, Old Friend...

It's a sad day today. My very favorite mug broke. I was being careless and was trying to put it into a sink already filled with dishes. Hot tea just won't be as comforting until I can find a suitable replacement.

Happy in Marriage

Years ago, I attended a marriage retreat in an out-of-the-way, upscale Amish hotel. Our church used to host these events annually. I am typically the kind of person whose memory lasts as long as a fruit fly's lifetime. But once in a while, something makes such an impression on me that I remember it, almost verbatim, for years. The retreat I'm referencing is one of those occasions.

Tuesday, I read a blog posting from one of my favorite bloggers. He was describing the shortcomings of men, at least as seen through the eyes of (bitter) women. That post brought me back to a specific seminar at this retreat. The speaker discussed the differences between men's and women's needs. The main need in a man's life is respect. The most detrimental things to his masculinity are being disrespected and torn down. He can't function with a bruised ego. To see a man exist to his greatest potential, I, as a woman, must build up his ego.

But we women are made up of completely different ingredients. The most important thing to our existence is the need to be loved and valued. If a man cannot hold down a job to support us, mentally challenge us with though-provoking conversation, or express similar interests BUT, he loves us unconditionally, treats us like a queen, and does anything short of dying for us, we will be content. But how do you get your man to meet your emotional needs? If you build him up, honor him, and respect him, he will want to value you.

OK, feminists, settle down now! I'm not suggesting that a woman become a passive pushover who allows her man to trample her. A woman can respectfully demand respect. When your man is on the top of his manly mountain, kindly suggest to him some ways he could meet your emotional needs. If you each learn to live to fulfill the needs of the other, your marriage will be a happy one.

Did you know that it takes two positives to eliminate one negative? It's true. If you belittle or degrade your spouse, it will take two acts of kindness to equal the hurt caused by that solitary, painful act. Spend the next week keeping a mental score. But only focus on your score; don't track your spouse's score just yet. Be honest with yourself and make a note of any hurtful things you might say or do. Then track the uplifting things. When the positives surpass the negatives, you will see your spouse's score begin to change too. I've tried it...it works.

This little lecture is also for my benefit to remind me what marriage is about. When I decided to start living for him, the quality of my marriage and my life improved. I'm one of the minorities: a young woman happy in marriage and in life.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I found a couple good deals today and thought I'd pass them along.

Walmart.com has the VTech KidiZoom Digital Camera for $19! (Blue only.) The regular price is $34.96. Shipping is free if you have it shipped to the store! I snatched one of these up for Big Sis for Christmas...I've been looking everywhere! Toys R Us had the Fisher Price digital camera for $23 on Black Friday but I wasn't able to get my hands on one. The VTech camera received good reviews on amazon.com.

My favorite bow boutique, brynnbella.com, is having a sale just in time for Christmas! Save 25% off your entire order until the end of December! Use the code "COOKIE" at checkout. All orders over $75 ship for free! I will be placing an order for matching hair bows for my girls' Christmas dresses!

Enjoy the deals...happy shopping!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Legend of Santa Claus

He's making a list, he's checking it twice, he's gonna find out who's naughty or nice.

Santa Claus. Does he visit your home each December 25? Do you leave out milk & cookies, place the packages under the tree after the children are asleep, or let out a few "Ho Ho Hos" while stomping out the door?

We have chosen to tell our children the truth about Santa Claus as soon as they understand the difference between real and pretend. I never believed in Santa; Hubby did. He remembers the huge blow the day he found out that Santa was not real. He felt like his parents had lied to him for years. He was so disappointed and embarrassed that he had believed for so long.

At my house, I knew that my parents were the ones who bought and wrapped all the gifts. They were placed under the tree with tags that read From Mom and Dad. We weren't threatened to behave for fear that Santa might skip over our house. My dad didn't dress up in a red suit and I never caught Mommy kissing Santa Claus. But we did still enjoy the fun of it all. We pretended that we believed in Santa. We left out milk and cookies every Christmas Eve. When the plate was empty in the morning, my brother and I exclaimed, "You ate them, Dad!" To which he replied a sarcastic "No I didn't!" We were teased that we needed to get in bed so Santa could come, even though all the gifts were already under the tree. I felt like I had the best of both worlds, all the fun without the deceit.

Therefore, Hubby and I have chosen the same route for our children. We told them the truth but still pretend like we think they believe. And I wouldn't have it any other way. What are your Christmas traditions? I promise I won't judge you if you have chosen to go the exact opposite direction!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Reason

What does Christmas mean to you? In our home, we celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus robed Himself in flesh and was born of a woman to save His people from their sins. This is not a story or a myth, it is Truth.

I am not going to tell you that it's wrong to have a 10' inflatable Santa Claus in your front yard. (It's just annoying to your neighbors.) I am not going to preach at you to tell you it's a sin to have a Christmas tree in your home or that you are raising hellion children by allowing them to open presents on Christmas Day. In our home, we have a healthy balance pertaining to Christmas.

I don't think God minds if we enjoy the celebration of the season. I don't think He has a giant dart board on a cloud in Heaven somewhere that He uses to throw darts at Santa's face. I think He accepts our celebration of Christmas, as long as we value the true meaning and remember to teach it to our children each year.

We have a beautiful lit tree in our living room. But underneath it is a Nativity scene honoring the birth of Christ. We buy an insane amount of gifts for our children each year. But we tell them about how the Wise Men brought gifts to honor the birth of the Savior. We listen to Christmas music, but make sure that we also have religious carols mixed in. We do the whole shebang, but make sure that we have true understanding of Christmas in our hearts.
I am thankful for a God who cares so much about me that He made the ultimate sacrifice for me. And I'm thankful that I still live in a country that allows me to celebrate this freely each year.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:11-14

Monday, November 29, 2010

Send FREE Christmas Memories with Shutterfly!

If you didn't get one of those fabulous Black Friday deals, such as a laptop for a penny, don't dismay! Have I got a deal for you! For a limited time, Shutterfly.com is offering 50 Christmas cards to bloggers for FREE! If you are not familiar with Shutterfly, shame on you (ha ha)! If you're a reader of my blog, you know that I have a slight obsession with this website. Their digital scrapbooks are second to none and I have a small collection of my own.

I've never used Shutterfly's personalized photo cards before, as I typically make my own. But I must admit that theirs blow mine away and will also save me so much time! I enjoy sending out a photo card of my kids every year as much as I enjoy getting Christmas photos from my friends. I keep them for years to come and flip through them from time to time. The nice thing about Shutterfly's photo cards is how many designs they have to choose from. More than likely you won't end up sending the same card that ten of your friends sent out. You will surely find something that fits your taste. I am a minimalist and will probably use a simple design like this one.

Of course there are other fine Shutterfly products like photo books, calendars, and thank you cards....all things you can personalize and make your own.

I can't wait to get started on my card! I am also currently working on photo book so I will probably spend some time working on both projects by the light of the Christmas tree. I hope you take advantage of this offer...how can you beat FREE??? For more information on this promotion, click here.

Also, thanks to Theresa at Our Life in Words for turning me on to this wonderful promotion.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I thank God for all His blessings in my life.
I am thankful for my husband and my children...without them my life would be meaningless.
I am thankful for my church, a place where I can worship freely and feel the Spirit of God each time I enter through the doors.
I am thankful for my home, a safe place to rest my head.
I am thankful for food on my table and clean water to drink.
I am thankful for the opportunity to stay home and raise my family.
I am thankful that my husband was blessed with a job he enjoys that provides for our family.
I am thankful that I never have to worry where my next meal will come from, if my heat and electricity bills will be paid, or if my car will last another day.
I am thankful that my children are healthy and smart.
I am thankful that my children are safe and have never had to endure the pain of abuse or harm.
I am thankful that I am happy. I don't have to rely on drugs, alcohol, or partying to bring me happiness.
I am thankful for nature. I enjoy God's beautiful creation, the sunshine, and the seasons.
I am thankful for this beautiful view outside my window...I could be seeing horrible conditions.
I am privileged beyond measure and I am thankful I know that.
I am glad that I am thankful 365 days a year, not just today.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Just Me - Rantin' & Ravin'

Wow, this is so crazy I just had to share it. I just received a phone call from a lab where Hubby recently had blood work. The first thing that irritated me about the phone call was the automated opening line: "Please hold for an important business call." Maybe it's just me but that totally irks me. If your company can't identify itself in the introduction or trust its callers to actually dial the phone themselves, then I don't feel required to take the call. I almost hung up but curiosity got the best of me.

The purpose of the call was to tell me that they just sent out a statement, which I haven't received yet, and to ask why I haven't paid it. Are you serious? I mean, come on! You're telling me you just sent out the statement and you're calling for payment already? I politely informed her that the bill will be paid when the statement is received and not before. She's just really lucky I wasn't PMS-ing because I would not be held responsible for the way I would have received the phone call. Either someone has too much time on their hands or the company has way too many employees with not enough work. I don't think it's good business practice to pay someone to call patients for payment before they ever receive a bill. Am I just touchy today???

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Baby Mama

A dear friend of mine was in the hospital all weekend. She recently relocated here with no family around to help. Her parents and in-laws all live out of the country. So when she was admitted, I was called upon to care for her children. After all, I have four already...what's two more? So all weekend, I was the mother of six, ages 11, 9, 6, 6, 2, and 3 months. The two 6-year-olds immediately became twins with different skin colors, dressing in matching outfits. But the most enjoyable part for me was being a Baby Mama again. I loved holding and feeding the 3-month-old so much that my uterus ached. It's out of commission though so no more biological babies will be coming my way. Thankfully, my friend was discharged last night. But I'm going through baby withdrawal. Maybe I'll roam the streets in search of a baby who needs a little love from a new Mama.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The "Beach"

For years, our family has enjoyed this sunny spot on the living room floor. We call it The Beach. On lazy Saturday afternoons in the winter, we enjoy lying on the floor to take in the sun's warmth. If you close your eyes, you can escape from the harsh Midwest cold and imagine that you're lying on the beach. All we need is a crashing waves sound machine and we'll be all set!
I noticed that The Beach was here today and I allowed myself to enjoy it for but a moment. As if he knew, Hubby called and asked what I was doing. Back to reality. That's why cell phones do not belong at the beach.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day of Rest

I'm so thankful for a day of rest!
Genesis 2:2 "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made."
Some people rest in different places:

At the beach,

At the playground,

In the backyard

With kids climbing all over,

And even while babysitting.

Wherever you may be today, enjoy your rest.