Swirled Mint Cookies

Monday, November 30, 2009 2 Comments A+ a-

We made these a couple of years when we had our first Baking Day at our new house. They were a hit then and they were still a favorite this past weekend; courtesy of a Cookies Classics cookbook.

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
½ tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp peppermint extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
10 drops red food coloring
10 drops green food coloring
Sugar

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1 cup of sugar and the baking powder. Beat until fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla, and peppermint. Beat is as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour.

Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Stir red food coloring into one portion, green food coloring into the second portion, and leave the third portion alone. Cover each portion with foil or plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator about one hour, or until easy to handle.

Divide each color of dough into 3 or 4 equal portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a half-inch diameter rope. Place a red, a green, and a plain rope side-by-side. Twist together. Repeat with remaining portions. Chill twisted rope for 30 minutes.

Cut ropes into half-inch-thick slices. Carefully roll into balls, blending colors as little as possible. Place balls about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Using a glass dipped in sugar, gently flatten each ball to desired thickness.

Bake cookies at 375-degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are set. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.

Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Crackers

Monday, November 30, 2009 4 Comments A+ a-

Every year, as soon as we walk into Jon's grandparents' home on Christmas Day, he makes a beeline for the cupboard where he knows that Grandma has stored these delightful snacks. He was over-the-moon when I told him I was going to attempt to make them this year. In fact, I truly believe he may have fallen in love with me all over again. They are so yummy and very easy to make!

1 pkg of chocolate-flavored almond bark
1 box of Ritz crackers
1 jar of smooth peanut butter

Layer a generous helping of peanut butter on a Ritz cracker, then add another on top to create a sandwich. Repeat until all the crackers have been used.

Follow the directions to melt the chocolate-flavored almond bark. (My package said 90 seconds in the microwave, but it was really more like a minute and 25 seconds.) Mix well until the chocolate is nice and smooth.

Grab a pair of tongs and start dipping the peanut-butter-Ritz-cracker sandwiches in the chocolate, until completely covered. Then set on wax paper to harden. Allow to cool 20-25 minutes until the chocolate is hard. I promise, one of the easiest recipes ever!!



Grammie's Scrabble Mix

Monday, November 30, 2009 0 Comments A+ a-

I’ve mentioned Grammie’s chex mix on this blog twice before; you can view them here and/or here. Seriously, every time I smell this baking, I’m instantaneously taken to Christmases past. This Scrabble-mix will last anywhere from 2-4 weeks in this house. I have had to make a second batch about halfway through the Christmas season. If you like salty things, then this is the Christmas snack for you!

6 cups of Wheat Chex
6 cups of Rice Chex
6 cups of Corn Chex
6 cups of Cheerioss
6 cups of pretzel sticks
2 ½ lbs of salted mixed nuts
1 lb of butter (yes, that’s 4 sticks of butter, I never said it was good for you)
1/3 cup of Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp of garlic salt
1 tbsp of onion salt
1 tbsp of celery salt
2 tsp of minced garlic
Dash of Tobasco sauce

In saucepan, melt butter. Once melted, add Worcestershire sauce, the salts, garlic, and Tobasco sauce. In large roasting pan, mix cereals, pretzels, and nuts.

Pour liquid mixture over dry mix and stir to coat the dry mix.

Bake at 250-degrees for two hours; the 1st hour covered and the 2nd hour uncovered. Stir every 20 minutes to distribute the sauce evenly…. six times total.

Let cool for 24 hours! Enjoy!


Yummy Deliciousness!

Saturday, November 28, 2009 1 Comments A+ a-

We had a busy day in the kitchen today... all of us! It was a blast trying out new recipes and getting sick from all the taste-testing. But what a way to go!

So excited to share the recipes for the Holiday Recipe Exchange; which takes place on Monday!



Christmas Stockings

Friday, November 27, 2009 2 Comments A+ a-

Wow. I shocked even myself with this one. Even with all of the extra details, I finished Hudson’s stocking in only three weeks! I love it! Hudson loves it! And I think it turned out great!

Every morning Hudson runs up to the stocking and points out all the different sports to me. “Soccer, Mama, soccer!” he screams. “Football, Mama, football!” It’s too cute for words and definitely assures me that I picked out the right stocking for him.

I so enjoyed working on this in the evenings and down times during my day that I trekked to our local Hobby Lobby store and picked up a kit to make Reagan’s stocking.

I fear that this kit may have even more detailing that Hudson’s, but I don’t care. They are SO much fun to do! And even my husband has said he wants one too. Thank goodness they have a Fishing Santa Claus kit. But ours will have to wait until next year.

Or at least until the stockings go on sale after Christmas.

So Very Thankful

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 3 Comments A+ a-

I know it seems that I skipped over the whole Thanksgiving holiday, especially with the Christmas design and Christmas music playing in the background. But I assure you, that is very much NOT the case.

When people start talking about the holidays, for me that encompasses the whole month of November and December, from Thanksgiving through Christmas. This is truly my favorite time of year! And if I want to delve into the decorations and music earlier than most, there is only one reason for it, to let the sights and sounds flood over me as I prepare my heart for the upcoming holiday season.

Thanksgiving is not the only day I give thanks; I try to be thankful throughout the year. However, in order for me to keep this whole season in perspective, I make a conscientious effort to be thankful for the things that are important and hope that it carries me throughout the holiday season. While I do enjoy the sights and sounds of a crazy-busy mall, while I do enjoy searching the stores for the perfect gift, Thanksgiving prepares my heart for what truly matters throughout this season.

Faith.

I live in a country where I am free to worship my Lord; a country where I do not have to worry about persecution. I am able to openly express my adoration for my God, without fear of death, without fear of jail, without fear of discrimination. There are many in my faith, throughout the world, who have to live with these fears every day. I am in awe of them. I pray for their safety and then I thank God for allowing me to live here. (There are times I wonder, though, how much stronger their faith is than mine. But another post for another day.)

Friends.

Jon and I are so very blessed and rich in this area. Truth be told, I was overcome with emotion last Saturday as I thought about the families and friends in our lives. To be able to call at a moment’s notice in need of a babysitter, or a cup of sugar, or a coffee date, and have others respond to that call is to be rich indeed. We are so very thankful for the men, women, and children we get to call friends. To be able to travel this journey of life with you is an honor and we pray that we are the kind of friends to you that you are to us.

Family.

If there is one thing that my mom instilled in us from the very beginning it was the importance of family. “Friends may come and go, but your family is forever,” she say. And how very right she was! I am who I am today because of my family; Jon is the kind of man he is because of his. I am so very thankful for my parents, knowing they’d be there without a moment’s hesitation. I am thankful for my sisters, who are also my best friends. The older I get, the more I realize how unique we are to be so close, but the thought of it being any other way, is too painful to comprehend. I’m thankful for Jon’s family, for his parents, for his brothers, and extended family. They all had a hand in shaping him, in growing him, in supporting him. Thank you!

And to you, babe, and our beautiful children, I am on my knees every day in thanksgiving for you. Jon, you have been such an example of unconditional love, I’m awed every time you love me when I’m at my most unlovable. I’m overcome at your example of forgiveness. And Devyn, Hudson, and Reagan, there are no words to express how blessed I feel to be your mother. I rarely do it right and I often need forgiveness which you are quick to offer. You three make me a better person and make my life so very full! I love you!

Tomorrow we head to Jon’s grandparents’ house for a whole day of eating, visiting, and sleeping. I’ll bring along a stocking to work on, cuddle with Jon, watch Reagan toddle around, and Devyn and Hudson will race around the house, shrieking and laughing the entire time. I can’t wait!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Coffee, Anyone?

Sunday, November 22, 2009 3 Comments A+ a-

The winner will be announced shortly...but I wanted to remind you all of a few things first.
  1. The Christmas Ornament Exchange will be closing on Tuesday, November 24, in two days! Head over to Random Moms to read all the information and rules. And no, you don’t have to be a blogger to participate. Come on, you know you want to play! =)

  2. The Holiday Recipe Exchange will be taking place a week from tomorrow. Have you gone through your recipes yet? Have a “must have” recipe that you’d like to share? Don’t forget to check out What’s For Dinner on Monday on November 30 to participate. Personally I can’t wait for this coming Saturday because all the sisters (and our mom) are getting together for a whole day of baking and cooking in preparation of this event. I hope it’s a tradition that will carry on through the years!

  3. And last, but certainly not least, the winner of the $10 Starbucks gift card is…
    #12 – Paula from My Heart, My Life, My Journey! Paula, contact me at biggest_blessings (at) yahoo (dot) com with your address so I can send you the gift card.

Thanks to all who participated! I loved getting to know some of my readers and I hope to do this again in the future…


It's Friday!!

Friday, November 20, 2009 3 Comments A+ a-

I was just chatting with a nice representative from our insurance carrier, biding time until my coworker could come out and meet with her. I got the usual response when our conversation shifted to children and I told her how many children I have.

“But you’re so young!”

“Well, I am 30,” I countered.

“That’s young!”

And she’s right it is. Is it weird that I just don’t think of myself in those terms anymore? Not that I feel old, or ancient, or middle-aged. I just feel like “young” parents are in their early to mid-twenties. Not thirty. Besides, it’s hard to feel young with three children ages five and under; something about being responsible for three young lives will do that to a person.

It was a nice compliment! And gosh-darn-it! I am young!

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My mom, sisters, our friend, Laura, and I went to the midnight showing of New Moon last night. There we sat at the theater, with at least five different screens going and they were still sold out! We were surrounded by (mostly) women of all ages.

It was a good movie! My sisters and I couldn’t decide if it was so good because our expectations were so low (come on, admit it, Twilight wasn’t the greatest!) or if it really was a good movie. I’ve decided on the latter. At least this director was able to get Kristen Stewart to stop bobbling her head while she talked. Some quick thoughts on the movie:

The werewolves – A-MAZING! Seriously, I was blown away but what they can do nowadays. The wolves were so very realistic.

The Volturi – As scary as I’d imagined. And I thought Dakota Fanning did a great job as Jane. I can’t wait for the 4th movie to really see her acting chops in that role.

Vampires – My favorite is still Alice. She is so warm and endearing! Just love her!

Jacob – I will forever be Team Edward, but even in this move I started getting a little attached to him. He’s just so cute.

Favorite Quote: “Yeah, they seem great… can we go now?”

If you’ve read the books, definitely check out the movie! It was 100-times better than Twilight.

And by the way, I am definitely TOO old be going to any more midnight showings. I’ve had to work eight hours on only four hours of sleep. I haven’t done that since before I was pregnant with Devyn!

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If you’d still like to enter the Starbucks gift card giveaway, click on this post and enter by midnight tonight. I have SO enjoyed getting to know some new readers! If I haven’t stopped by your blog to say hi yet, I will this weekend!

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Now I get to finish out the work day, grab a Red Bull, and head to the bowling alley for Devyn’s official birthday party. See? I really don’t think I thought out the whole midnight movie idea, did I?

Oh, so bittersweet!

Thursday, November 19, 2009 5 Comments A+ a-


She turns five today... and despite all her excitement, my heart aches. My baby is five, and such a little girl now. So beautiful, so sensitive, so loving and kind.

Where did my baby go? When did she grow into such a beautiful little girl?

I ache because time marches on... I ache because her world is growing, a world that can, at times, be cruel, and I can no longer shelter her from it... I ache at the thought that she now skims my ribcage, when she used to fit in the crook of my arm... I ache the ache of mothers past, present, and future.

My Devyn Paige. You are such an amazing little girl; I delight in you! You are so very sweet, sensitive, kind, and loving. You make me smile, you make me laugh, and I cherish each passing moment. You, my daughter, are one of the biggest treasures I've ever received! Happy 5th Birthday, my love! May it be a year full of adventures!



Its late, but... (and a giveaway)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 30 Comments A+ a-

Yes, I realize it almost midnight.

Yes, my children have been sleeping for almost four hours now.

And yes, that is my husband sleeping soundly in bed next to me.

But there's a reason they call this a crackberry. And I'll be the first to admit I have a problem at our next support group meeting.

I've been poking around on the internet, checking out Google Reader and Site Meter and some sort of dossier-report thing. Its made me curious... and we all know what curiosity did to the cat.

I see the number of hits I get on my blog, I see the locations of the visits, I visit the websites of people who link to my blog, and I wonder. I wonder who is reading about my life; I wonder why they keep checking in; I wonder if I know them; I wonder if I've ever offended someone, or did I offer encouragement in some way.

And yes, I realize that was a lot of "I" statements. In short, I am completely narcissistic at midnight.

But all kidding aside, I really would like to know more about you. Would you be willing to come out of lurking for a chance at a gift certificate?

Now before anyone gets too excited, its really not anything big. I have a $10 gift certificate to Starbuck's for one lucky reader that responds to this post.

And I'll keep this as simple as possible. No one has to become a follower; you don't need to have a blog; you don't even need a google account. And yes, you can even post anonymously if you'd like. I'd just like to know the following:



Your name
Your location (state or region is fine)
How you found my site
How long you've been reading
Your favorite drink (coffee-related or not)


It's that easy.

I'll close comments at 11:59pm on Friday, November 20th. (Heaven knows I'll be awake, probably even on my crackberry.) And then I'll announce the winner on Monday, the 23rd.

Come now. Doesn't the thought of drinking a Peppermint-Mocha-anything or a Gingerbread Latte while Christmas shopping make you want to participate? I sure hope so...





Image Building

Friday, November 13, 2009 3 Comments A+ a-

Image seems to be the theme of the week. Everywhere I turn, I’m faced with a new revelation, a new thought regarding images and the images we try to present to the world.

This week in Beth Moore’s Daniel study, we’re learning about the falsehoods and gods we create in trying to maintain our images. I love that she gets so deep, forcing us to ask the hard questions. Is the same person we present to the world, the one we deal with in the dark of night? I try, really I do, but even I know that I fall short of this goal.

As I continued reading in that day’s study, another Beth Moore thought jumped out and convicted me. She said, and I’m paraphrasing here, even those who pride themselves on being real, can learn how to fake being real.

Hmmmm. Yes. I can see how that could be true. And I probably fit into that category as well.

I consider myself real; I try to be real as often as possible. In fact, dare I say it, I may even be prideful when I talk about being real. But have I gotten to that point where I can fake being real? It depends. Yes, I feel as though the person you read about on here is the same person you’ll meet in person. (I hope that’s the case. I pray I’m not portraying myself to be someone I’m not.) However, there are still topics and areas in my life that I won’t discuss on the blog. Finances, marital, and family (both immediate and in-law) issues, anything that has been placed off-limits by my husband and/or family, are just a few examples. In not talking about them, am I portraying my life as perfected in those areas? I hope not. We have just as many issues behind the scenes, but some boundaries can’t be crossed.

Ok, I think I got off-topic there for a moment. Back to image-building. I didn’t have to look very far to find an example of image-building in my own life.

The highly-regarded, highly-anticipated Christmas photo. The photo that says to all our family and friends, look. Look at my beautiful children, my hunky husband, and see how blessed I am. I AM blessed and my children ARE beautiful and I AM so very in-love with my hunky husband; BUT let me assure you that our lives are not so squeaky clean and together as the picture portrays us to be.

Take for instance the morning of our photo-shoot.

I may, or may not have, scolded Devyn for the umpteenth time to “sit still and let me do your hair!” I may, or may not have, told Hudson, “Tough, Kid. I know you hate that outfit, but you’re wearing it!” I may, or may not have, whispered to Jon in angry undertones that it was his fault we were running late. There may have been fighting amongst siblings, a lost bow, and dirty clothes that I forgot to wash for this big day. In short, not one of my brighter moments as Mom and Wife.

And then, when we pulled up to the park and were assembled just right, of course we put on our happy smiles and were loving and affectionate with one another. Just in time to capture the perfect, loving family that we are.

If that’s not an image-building moment, I don’t know what it is.

Don’t get me wrong; I see nothing sinful in wanting the gorgeous picture. We are all proud of our families and want to show them off during this magical time of year. I just wanted to point out a moment that was crystal-clear to me; a moment in which I caught myself giving into the pressure of creating the perfect “image”. And I want more of that clarity! I want to be more aware of those moments when I’m about to step over that line of being real, into creating an image. I want to know that while I can put my best foot forward, that when it comes to the nitty-gritty dirt in my life that I’m not afraid to open up and allow God to use whatever He needs to clean the gunk out. I don’t want to present the fa├žade of who I am, but the real thing.

Making A List...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 2 Comments A+ a-

Do you remember this post? Let see how I’m doing, shall we?

  • Create and send out birthday invitations for Devyn’s 5th birthday party. (5 years?! Already?!?) Yep, all done!
  • Host said birthday party.
  • Sew Hudson’s stocking. Still working on it, but it looks great so far!
  • Finish Christine and Courtney’s Christmas blog designs. One down, one to go.
  • Put together the details for a Holiday Recipe Exchange we’re doing on “What’s For Dinner”. Another one off the list, have you checked it out yet? We have some new recipes on there too!
  • Finish up the details for the holiday specials on Munchkin Land Designs. Just a reminder, 15% off people!
  • Celebrate Thanksgiving with Jon’s side of the family.  I have my dish all picked out and I'm ready to cook!!
  • Implement a huge project at my other job.
  • Get some family candid photos taken for Christmas cards and write our Christmas letter. With much appreciation for Sarah, here’s a sneak preview of our photo shoot. But I'm still working on the letter.
  • Send Christmas cards.
  • Decorate for the holidays.
  • Celebrate the one-year birthdays of our two precious babies, Elliana and Reagan. (I can’t believe it’s been a year already!)
  • Celebrate Christmas with my side of the family.
I’m getting there. As for the mustard-yellow kitchen, well, truth be told, its growing on me. We’ve decided to leave it alone until after the holidays and will tackle it at that point. (Unless I’ve convinced Jon to leave it alone by then.)

I have some far lengthier, meatier posts that are gnawing at me and begging to be written. Soon, I promise. Until then…



Decking The Halls

Sunday, November 08, 2009 6 Comments A+ a-

If you’re one of those people who refuse to acknowledge Christmas until after Thanksgiving, then you’re going to want to stay away from my blog for a few weeks. Because I couldn’t wait any longer!! I hope ya’ll like the new design. I do…

For whatever reason, I am just so excited for Christmas this year. Courtney and I discussed our over-the-top enthusiasm this year and wonder if we anticipate Christmas so much more this year because last year was one crisis after another. It really felt like we fast-forwarded through the Christmas holiday, without getting a chance to celebrate it. And when you have a mom get admitted to the hospital on Christmas Eve, and you’re opening presents in a hospital room, yeah, doesn’t feel like Christmas. At all.

Regardless of the reasons, I cannot wait for it and I’m starting the Christmas spirit a little early this year.

And there are a number of exciting Christmas goodies happening this year.


  1. Random Moms is hosting a Christmas ornament exchange this year. I just absolutely adore this idea! Head on over and read all about it. I’ve already got my name in the proverbial hat.


  2. What’s For Dinner is hosting a Holiday Recipe Exchange. So you can head on over there to see how it’s going to work. Start gathering your recipes, ladies, I want to hear all about your favorite Holiday treats.


  3. And last, but certainly not least, Munchkin Land Designs is offering 15% off through December 4th.
And if you don’t come around for a few weeks, I totally understand. I usually like to wait until the day after Thanksgiving too. But I feel like a little kid this year...

Does it come with diamonds?!

Friday, November 06, 2009 1 Comments A+ a-

If you’re engaged and have a $198,000 budget, then this deal is for you!!

Sam’s Club and Disney’s FairyTale Weddings is selling a “once-in-a-lifetime” wedding package for you and 50 guests! The first person to wire Disney the $198,000 is the winner of this “once-in-a-lifetime” experience, including a four-day stay in deluxe accommodations for the wedding couple.

But wait… don’t forget…

The purchaser is STILL responsible for all travel and any other associated costs not mentioned, including your wedding apparel!

I was flummoxed when a coworker brought this ad over for me to see and even a half-hour later, I’m still crying from laughing so hard! Oh my.

In a more down-to-earth post, I just had to share this with all of you.

My friend, Melissa, had some girlfriends over to her house last night for a Craft Night. I just LOVE her stuff as you can witness here and here and here.

I made this last night and love it. It now sits on the entryway table and it’s a wonderful reminder of what truly matters! (Especially when $200,000 weddings are involved…)

Upcoming Crazy and Chaos

Thursday, November 05, 2009 3 Comments A+ a-

I am tired this Thursday morning… it was a long night. Reagan hasn’t been feeling very well, congested from a runny nose/cold and therefore is suffering from overall grouchiness; Hudson was up and wanting a “dink” about 1:00am, and then Devyn woke later wanting to be tucked in again. That is why you found me gorging on Gold Fish crackers at 3:00 in the morning. I don’t know what to say… it just sounded good in that moment and the first handful just didn’t quench my craving. But I’m currently doing everything in my power to keep my eyes open. I am THAT tired.

On the other spectrum, my mind is reeling from my to-do list and again I’m forced to question God’s wisdom in deciding that we needed to add two birthdays (three if you count my niece, Elliana, which I do) during these next two months. Seriously, God?! Why?! Didn’t you think I had enough on my plate?

I digress. Back to my to-do list:

  • Create and send out birthday invitations for Devyn’s 5th birthday party. (5 years?! Already?!?)
  • Host said birthday party.
  • Sew Hudson’s stocking.
  • Finish Christine and Courtney’s Christmas blog designs.
  • Put together the details for a Holiday Recipe exchange we’re doing on “What’s For Dinner”.
  • Finish up the details for the holiday specials on Munchkin Land Designs.
  • Celebrate Thanksgiving with Jon’s side of the family.
  • Implement a huge project at my other job.
  • Get some family candid photos taken for Christmas cards and write our Christmas letter.
  • Send Christmas cards.
  • Decorate for the holidays.
  • Celebrate the one-year birthdays of our two precious babies, Elliana and Reagan. (I can’t believe it’s been a year already!)
  • Celebrate Christmas with my side of the family.

Oh, and I can’t forget repainting our kitchen.

My sister Allison graciously watched the two younger ones for me on Monday so I could spend the whole day getting color on our plain-jane walls. It was a long day, and I was exhausted from the day’s efforts. The agonizing part? What was supposed to be a gorgeous autumn-gold color is actually mustard-yellow. Seriously. It looks like crayola crayon threw up in our kitchen. And I need to change it… fast. Jon is threatening to move out. (Not really, but he does hate it.) Sigh. A whole day wasted.

Honestly, it sounds like I’m complaining but I do love being busy! I seem to be one of those people who thrive on the crazy and chaos that is coming up. I have no doubt, however, that I will need some down time too.

Bring it on! I’m ready for the upcoming holidays and so looking forward to creating new traditions with my littles.


My Heart's Prayer

Monday, November 02, 2009 4 Comments A+ a-

My favorite song from this CD. My heart's desire for all my children.

HOLD ON TO JESUS
by: Erin O’Donnell


You’re a little piece of heaven,
you’re a golden ray of light.
And I wish I could protect you,
from the worries of this life.

But if there’s one thing I could tell you,
it’s no matter what you do,
hold on to Jesus,
for He’s holding on to you.

The world will try to tell you,
that might is more than right.
That beauty’s on the outside,
and being good’s a losing fight.

But remember what I’ve told you,
because the world will make you choose.
Hold to Jesus,
He’s holding on to you.

Hold on to Jesus,
cling to his love.
Rest deep in His mercy,
whenever things get rough.

Don’t lose sight of His goodness,
and don’t ever doubt this truth.
That when you hold on to Jesus,
He’s holding on to you.

Hear me, dear Jesus,
rock this little one to sleep.
Keep her close when she’s scared,
and give her grace when she’s weak.

I know she’ll stumble,
but I know she’ll make it through.
If you hold to her just like
you said you’d do.

Hold her Jesus,
so she’ll hold on tight to you.


If you'd like to hear this beautiful song, click here; it's the second song from the bottom. The beautiful pictures are from Microsoft clip art.