Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of Year

It is the most wonderful time of the year.  And as far as I know it is the same all over the world.  I spent a Christmas on the other side of the hemisphere where it was the middle of summer and there was still the same Christmasy feeling.  The spirit of Christmas.  The spirit of Christ, the light of the world.  How grateful I am for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Born into the most humble of circumstances but King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  I love Handel's Messiah- our Christmas wouldn't be complete without (attempting) to sing the Hallelujah Chorus.

I think there is so much I have yet to learn about the story of Christ's birth.  But I have been thinking about a lesson I learned one Christmas when my oldest was a baby.  As part of a church activity for the women we watched a special program that featured the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and a portrayal of the nativity story. I have forgotten the particulars of the video but hopefully someday I will come across it again.  (If this sounds familiar to anyone please let me know.)  We were watching it in someone's theater room and when they turned out the lights it was pitch dark.  I felt like I was the only one in the room and all I could see was the story of the nativity unfolding before me.  I felt like I was right there, witnessing it first hand, with the singing angels around me.  And maybe partly because of that, it became so real, so true to me.  More than just a story that we repeat and read every year. 

I realized that Mary and Joseph were human beings like us that were given an awesome responsibility.  But life went on.  Everything didn't automatically start going perfectly even though they were bringing the Savior into the world.  They still had to deal with ordinary inconveniences like paying taxes despite the fact that they were righteous and fulfilling a very important prophecy and commandment.  A prophecy of such eternal significance.  Things didn't just work out perfectly and fall into place. 

I wondered how Mary must have felt at 10 months pregnant having to travel so far to pay taxes.  Traveling away from her family and this her first experience with pregnancy!  What horrible timing!  And then once they got there they couldn't even find a room to stay in.  How they must have worried!   Or maybe not- I'm sure they had more faith than I do.  I just think about how I feel when I am about to go into labor- the feelings of nesting and wanting everything to be prepared and clean and ready.  I am overly worried about germs and sicknesses.  And they knew who this special baby was.  Did they feel like they were already failing as parents? 

Often times when I feel like I'm being taught spiritual things I can't describe what I learn in words.  And a lot of what I learend that night I can only explain as an understanding.  I felt like I understood things that I thought I'd already known but realized I didn't really know.  Does that make any sense?  And at that time one of the biggest lessons for me was that even when we are doing what's right and what we know we should be doing, even when we are doing our very best, things don't always happen as planned or how we would like them to.  But maybe the things we think should matter so much aren't so very important.  We just keep trusting in God and keep trying our best.  And as a good friend of mine once said, "Even if everything is not okay right now, in the end we know it will be."  Thanks to that wonderful baby who's birthday is the most wonderful time of the year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Healthy Snowmen Snack

Meet a warmer, more health-conscious Frosty....

With all the junk goodies we've been eating lately I started craving something healthier. I remembered an idea from FamilyFun years ago where they made snowmen out of banana slices and pretzels. I didn't want to take the time to hunt down the whole recipe so we used what we had and created our own edible snowmen.

My boys had these for after school snacks and they kept wanting to make more!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pizza

Now this is my kind of pizza!!  

We are big chocolate paired with peanut butter fans around here and we tried a new recipe over the weekend that was a huge hit!  I got this recipe from a booklet of Christmas recipes that my mother-in-law gave me years ago.  Now you can find the recipe at  Betty  I'll include it as well...

Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy Pizza
Makes 16 servings

1 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
1 egg
1 1/4 c flour
1/4 c baking cocoa
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
Peanut Butter Pizza Sauce (see below)
1/4 c Spanish peanuts
1 bag (1.63 oz) M&Ms
1 package (1.6 oz) Reeses peanut butter cups (2 candies), cut up
1/4 c semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix brown sugar, butter and egg in medium bowl with spoon.  Stir in flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Pat dough in ungreased 12-inch pizza pan.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until edge is set.  Cool at least 30 minutes.  Make Peanut Butter Pizza Sauce.  Spread over cookie pizza.  Top with peanuts and candies.  Drizzle with melted chocolate chips.

Peanut Butter Pizza Sauce
1 bag (10 oz) peanut butter chips
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

Heat ingredients in 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rudolph Cookies

As a Cubscout leader at church I get to come up with fun ideas for about twelve 9 year-old boys.  For the Bear achievement 9f they needed to make a dessert for their family.  I couldn't picture us making a cake or something like that without envisioning a chaotic mess so I adapted an idea from Pillsbury.  And it was a fun, yummy and easy dessert.

(Side note:  Later I laughed as I told my husband the scene in the kitchen at church when we first arrived: one scout was scouring the drawers for knives, some were trying to "skateboard" on the pushable carts for serving, another couple were pushing buttons on the microwave and a few were turning on the fan and blowing things around.  This was IMMEDIATELY as we walked in the door.  These guys are busy!)

These would be fun to make with any group of kids!

All you need for ingredients are:  Oreos (or similar cookie), almond bark, cherry sours, mini-chocolate chips and pretzels.

First, melt the almond bark according to package directions. Then dip the cookies in the melted bark until completely covered in white gooey yum.  Fish them out with a spoon and set them on a plate or wax paper.  Stick on a cherry sour for a nose, mini chips for eyes and pretzels for antlers.  (You can break the pretzels if you like.)

You may need to let them harden before eating or handling. (If you can wait that long!)

Watch out reindeers!  We're mass producing Rudolphs! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Quilts

 It may not be warm enough for snuggling up under a Christmas quilt right now but that won't keep us from trying! Sometimes we turn our ceiling fan up high just so we can justify snuggling under the quilt and reading Christmas stories!
 I've made a couple of quilts throughout the years and have one that I'm ready to get started on. My first quilt is a lap-size one from a pattern I got from the magazine McCall's Quilting. I love the poinsettia fabrics in this! 

 The next one I made I love partly because it's a scrappy quilt. I used scraps from Christmas quilts and crafts I'd made throughout the years. I love that with quilts you can take a bunch of small little scraps of fabric and make something as beautiful and whole as a quilt.  I can't think of the name of the pattern- can anyone help me out, please?
With my Mom's help, I used her quilting machine to quilt poinsettias throughout, which looks especially nice on the white fabric. 

It's great for playing peek-a-boo under, too!

 And now I'm ready to get going with this gorgeous fabric! It's by Kate Spain for Moda and it's called flurry. I found it on a year or so ago in July. They were having a great sale on it.  
I have wanted to use this great pattern featured on modabakeshop by Angela from Fussy Cut.  
 I'm hoping to a get some free time at night to start working on it and hopefully I'll have pictures to share before too long!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Quilts and Pillows For My Boys

Last Christmas I made quilts and pillows  for my boys.  We had gotten them bunk beds earlier in the year and painted their room the color of their choice so I thought they needed some matching bedding.  I usually like Pottery Barn stuff so I got some ideas from this set.  I also had some really cute fabric from Joanne's with a Route 66 theme and since my boys love the Cars movies and anything related to cars, I thought I could incorporate that into their decor.  To top it all off, my Mom had an embroidery pattern for classic cars that fit right in with the fabric.  So I put it all together and got this:

I mixed in about 4 or 5 of the embroidered cars.  My boys thought they were really cool!  I got the pattern from Hobby Lobby.

Then I used the Route 66 fabric for the extra pillow.  I didn't get the second pillow done in time for Christmas so I told them I would finish the second soon.  Well...I just finished them this week.  I know, pretty pathetic.  But at least I finished them before this Christmas!  

My Mom taught me how to make pillows by covering piping with fabric and sewing it around the edges of the pillow.  It's really pretty simple and there are a million tutorials online about how to do it, like this one, so I won't go into much detail.  I also knew that I would need to wash the pillowcase every now and then so I used a pillow form and made the outside like a pillowcase with an envelope back.  The two pieces connect with velcro.

When they opened the boxes on Christmas morning they were so excited!!  It kind of surprised me.  But I love sewing for my boys when they like it so much!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Puppets

Before we had children, my husband and I were nursery leaders at church for the 18 month old children.  
We had about eight 18 month to 24 month old children.  They were adorable but it was quite a challenge to keep them happy for 2 hours and try to teach them a lesson and sing songs when most of them couldn't talk. My Mom made me these wonderful puppets to use with them at Christmastime and they are still a favorite at our house.  

 I've said it before and I'll say it again, I LOVE FELT!  
It is so easy to create with and great for things like this!  

I love the details on each one- yet they are so simple.

We use them to act out the nativity story or the boys just like to play with them around the house.  Thanks, Nana, for making these for us!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Recipes for Turkey Leftovers

Turkeys are awesome for living on a tight budget! It's one of the cheapest meats (especially if you get a free one around the holidays), it's healthy and they freeze well. Yet I don't see a whole lot of recipes out there that call for turkey. Maybe that's because you can basically substitute turkey for chicken in most recipes. Well, here are 4 of our favorites.  They are all family recipes that originally call for chicken but you can't tell the difference when you substitute turkey.

 Turkey Bundles

2-3 c leftover cooked turkey
6 T softened cream cheese
3-4 chopped green onions (including green parts)
2 T milk
3 T melted butter
2 package crescent rolls (without seams)

Combine all ingredients except crescent rolls and mix until well combined.  Open up rolls and cut into 6 squares.  Flatten out squares a bit.  Place a spoonful of turkey mixture into center of each crescent square. 

   Bring corners up to center and seal edges together to make little bundles.  Place on cookie sheet and cook at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Enjoy!

 Turkey Tetrazine

2 c cooked turkey
1 8 oz package spaghetti
1/2 c chopped onion
1/2 c chopped green pepper
1/2 c chopped celery
1/4 c melted oleo (butter)
1/2 t celery salt
2 pimentos
salt and pepper
speck of cayenne
3 t flour
2 c milk (or 1 c broth and 1 c milk)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 c sharp cheddar cheese, grated + more for sprinkling on top
1/2 c breadcrumbs

Boil noodles according to package.  Saute onions, pepper and celery in butter.  Slowly stir in flour and cook until thick.  Then add seasonings and cheese.  Stir until melted.  Add 2 c milk, pimentos, noodles, chopped turkey and soup.  Turn into shallow dish and cover with breadcrumbs and more cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 min.  This is good to freeze ahead also.  Don't top with breadcrumbs and cheese before freezing.

Turkey Stuffing Casserole 

(sorry, no picture of this one)
2 lb cooked turkey
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 small carton of sour cream
1 package stuffing mix
1 T butter
2 c water

Butter a 9X13 pan and place turkey on the bottom.  Mix soups and sour cream and pour on top of chicken.  Sprinkle stuffing mix on top of mixture.  Microwave 1 T butter and 2 c water until hot.  Pour over dressing.  Bake at 325 for 50 min to one hour.

Turkey Broccoli Casserole (a regular at our house)

1 c uncooked rice (I usually use brown rice but allow extra time for boiling)
2 c water
1 1/2 c cooked broccoli
1-1 1/2 c cooked chicken or turkey
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 t lemon juice
1/2 t curry powder
3/4 c grated cheddar cheese
1/2 c mayo

Boil rice in 2 c water.  Boil broccoli and drain.  Put broccoli in casserole dish.  Layer cooked chicken over broccoli.  Mix soup, mayo, lemon juice, curry powder, rice and 1/2 c cheese.  Pour over chicken.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and then top with breadcrumbs (or cracker crumbs).  Bake 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Winter Pajamas

The weather is getting a little more frightful (at least in some parts of the world) and my boys need some warmer PJs.  Pajamas are one of the few things I can really sew for my boys these days and I'm always on the look out for fun fabric.

This is a tradition in our family.  Grandy used to make our brothers scrappy pajamas out of her scraps- a pocket from this, a sleeve from that.  I wish I had a picture because they were so cute!  Mom makes our kids PJs for birthdays and at other times- pictures for another post- that are adorable!  When it comes to sleeping we know how to dress!

So my boys have been bugging me for a few weeks to make them some pjs- I LOVE that they want them HOMEMADE.  I had found this cute fabric on (see side button) for a steal awhile back and it's been waiting for the perfect opportunity to fulfill its potential. 
A little ironic for sleepwear, don't you think? (Men at Work?)

For my oldest I used McCalls 6227 size 10.  It seems to run a tad on the large size but then my oldest is only 9.  This was a new style for me to sew and it was a cinch!  So easy!  I'm definitely using that one again!  However it is very roomy at the top so I don't know how warm and snug it will be.  Here's "keeping it real" for you- if you look closely you'll notice that the signs are upside down!!  It must have been pretty late because I didn't notice this until I'd finished sewing the top. 

For my almost 7 year old I used Simplicity 3987 size 8 and it was on the small side.  It fits just about perfect but I thought it would be looser since I was using a size larger than he normally wears.

Sleep tight, my little men!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rolls, Cranberry Relish and Turkeys

I made our own turkey dinner this past weekend and attempted rolls again. I can count on one finger how many times I've made rolls from scratch that turned out decent. Don't know what it is about me and rolls! But I tried the recipe from Our Best Bites Cookbook that you can find here on their website, and they were heavenly lightly browned clouds of perfection!


Those Best Bites girls are my best friends in the kitchen! Everything I've made from their cookbook or website is amazing!  I think the secret (which they share in their recipe) is using whole fat milk. I didn't have any whole milk but I used 1/2 c whipping cream and 1 1/2 1% milk and look how they turned out!!

We also had my mother-in-law's cranberry relish. Growing up ours always came from a can and I have to admit, I don't think I ever even tried the stuff. My mother-in-law makes hers fresh and it's really very easy and SOOOOO GOOD!  My almost 2 year old gobbled it up and had thirds and fourths and wanted more! 

Here's the recipe: 
1 bag fresh cranberries 
1 large apple 
1 c sugar 
Combine all ingredients in your food processor and chop to the consistency of your liking. 
 That's it!  So good on those delicious rolls!!!

On another note, my kids are home from school this week and those little turkeys get up so early when there's no school! But I am thankful to have them home this week! And thankful that soccer season is over, there's no cub scouts or piano lessons and I have them all to myself on our own time! 

 I'm also thankful for my washing machine and dryer that can wash that mountain of dirty clothes we've accumulated since last Monday!

Thanksgiving Mix

About 5 years ago we visited family in Idaho for Thanksgiving. (It's so sad that it's been that long!)  My in-laws showed us a good time, as usual, and for our Family Home Evening treat my mother-in-law had us make this Thanksgiving Mix.  

As we put each ingredient in we talked about what they had to do with Thanksgiving.  It was a yummy treat and perfect for Thanksgiving!!

Thanksgiving Blessing Mix
2 c Bugles brand corn snacks (Shaped like a cornucopia or horn of plenty)
2 c mini pretzels - not sticks! (Represents arms folded in prayer)
1 c candy corn (During the winter the Pilgrims were allotted only 5 kernels of corn per day because food was so scarce.)
1 c dried fruit (Thanksgiving is the celebration of harvest.)
1 c sunflower seeds (Seeds represent the potential of a bounteous harvest for the next season.)
1 c Goldfish crackers (Represent the teaching by the Native Americans to the Pilgrims that a fish planted with seeds would help grow healthy crops.)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

O What do you do in the Summertime?

Summertime FUn!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

C is for cookie

Highway Shape Tracing

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

EMbellished T-shirt

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dinosaur Printables

Gift in a jar ideas

Free Weekly Schedule Printout

Snowflake craft & book

Monday, January 9, 2012

Super Cute Art Caddy

Friday, January 6, 2012