Cyber Monday

The kids broke the iPad. The IPAD. Now I will need to sell my arm to buy another one. OR cyber Monday to the rescue! Here is this year’s best deal I’ve seen and I wanted to share it with you.

Amazon Kindle Fire 8 for KIDS. If the kids bash it into a tree again… they will replace it when broken with no questions asked. It comes with a kid proof protector case and is equipped with parental filters. It takes pictures and is purposes as an entertainment device. It is waaaay cheaper to replace than my phone!

Family Christmas gift? Absolutely. It’s Cyber Monday, go get one! They come in blue, pink and yellow. So excited about this!

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Thanksgiving Bliss

Four days of bliss. Never have I had such an enjoyable holiday weekend. This year’s Thanksgiving was four days of laid back family time and beautiful weather. We rode our bikes. Went Black Friday shopping. Painted bird houses. Ate two Thanksgiving dinners. Stayed up late baking pies and painting toes. Stained the porch. Slept in. Visited extended family. Watched Baby Einstein’s Baby Santa 20 times. And oh yes, ate lots and lots of pie.

In years past, we were too far from home to go somewhere so I would be busy all day cleaning and preparing every food item. By the end of the day I’d be exhausted and left staring at a huge clean up mess. For me, subconsciously, Thanksgiving was characterized by work.

But this was the year we moved back to my home town and we got to go to Thanksgiving. (Where Esther discovered the quintessential “grumpy cat” kitten and begged me to adopt it.) This year we were not hosting so my kitchen/cleaning time was minimal and I loved every extra minute with my family. I’m realizing only now how I craved this.

Obviously there are expectations for Thanksgiving. Like Turkey. And the fact that said turkey needs gravy. Pumpkin pie is another staple. Cranberry sauce. Delicious.

Yet – not worth stealing my joy. Had I realized this two years or more ago, I would have made a Turkey and a pie and ordered the rest from the grocery store. These years are so precious. Let’s not waste this gift of fleeting family time for the sake of expectations. Enjoy it. Embrace these years that go by like a blur. Cherish the snuggles and time with your family. We need downtime. That’s what holidays are for.


Pray for them

These last several months I have been seeking out God’s love and how it applies to our lives. How we express God’s love toward others, especially when it is a difficult person to love. I have seen that even in our sin, God is faithful. His love is steadfast. His promises are true. He is gracious and compassionate. Slow to anger and abounding in love.

Father, “Let your steadfast love come to [Name], O LORD, your salvation according to your promise; then shall [Name] have an answer for him who taunts [him/her], for [he/she] trust[s] in your Word.” In the name of Jesus I pray, amen. – Psalm 119:41-42

Prayers taken from the daily prayer on the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Maple Pecan Baked Brie

When it comes to Christmas recipes I largely pull from the wisdom of my other kitchen colleagues. Here is a favorite of mine that is always just so good during Christmas.

  • 1 Large Sheet of Puff Pastry
  • 1 8 oz Wheel of Brie (with rind)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tbs Water
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Spice
  • 2 Tbs Butter
  • pinch of Salt
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Shave the rind off the top of the brie so the pastry sticks to the cheese once it is baked. Roll out the thawed puff pastry on a lightly dusted surface until it is about a 10 inch square.

Prepare the maple sauce by combining pumpkin, maple syrup, spice, butter and salt in a saucepan and simmering until thickened (about 8 minutes).

Whisk egg and water until smooth. Place the brie wheel into the center of pastry and brush pastry edges with egg. Pour a third of the prepared maple sauce over the brie and sprinkle a pinch of the pecans on top. Pull edges of pastry up over the brie and pinch together until it sticks. Brush pastry sides with egg.

Set the brie pastry in a parchment lined baking dish with sides. Bake for 10 minutes. Top pastry with remaining chopped pecans and pour the rest of the maple sauce over the pastry. Bake for another 10 minutes until the pastry crust is golden brown. Serve hot with crackers and sliced apples.

Note: Don’t cover baked brie when it is hot or the puff pastry will become soggy.

What Happened Now?

Micah has taken his four year old status seriously and began to be more physical with… well everything. The other day he came down stairs after his nap with a black encrusted nose. I looked at him asking if he’d had a bloody nose. He said yes he “squished” it. I said, “I’m pretty sure you didn’t do that napping. How did it happen?” After much coaxing, he eventually told me he was hanging off the bed – upside down – when he fell on his face into the carpet. Not impressed, I’m sure my eyebrow was raised while I listened to his nap time escapades.

The next night as we were herding them up the stairs for bedtime, Micah zips past us chasing the cat. Next thing I knew he came back crying with an already swollen eye. Man the cat got the better of him! For the second time in as many days I said, “How did that happen?” He proceeded to tell me that the cat escaped his grasp as it made a desperate dive for under the bed.  Confused as to how this related to his black eye, I asked again. Basically it boils down to the fact that the cat fit under the bed but Micah’s face didn’t. He crashed strait into the frame. If he keeps this up he’s going to have to steer clear of all beds since they are apparently hazardous things for little boys.

On another note, Thanksgiving is tomorrow! I for one am very thankful we are all healthy and still in one piece. This year is almost over – it has been difficult in some ways and wonderful in others. Such is life. I wonder, would we appreciate the goodness of life if we never experienced the difficulties that come with it?


Pray for them

Father, “Let your steadfast love come to [Name], O LORD, your salvation according to your promise; then shall [Name] have an answer for him who taunts [him/her], for [he/she] trust[s] in your Word.” In the name of Jesus I pray, amen. –Psalm 119:41-42

Prayers taken from the daily prayer on the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Ginger Cookies

  • 3/4 cup lard
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

Mix shortening, sugar, molasses and eggs until fluffy. Sift together flour, soda, salt and spices. Add to molasses mixture. Form small balls, roll in granulated sugar. Place 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. For gingersnaps bake 10-12 minutes. You can thank Betty Crocker for this one.

Ladybug Ladybug

Ladybug Ladybug…please leave my home. Wait, not how you learned it? Let me explain.

For those of you who aren’t plagued with these bugs, this time of year doesn’t have the same quality to it. Every year for us, thousands of them descend upon the house. They aren’t the “Ladybug Ladybug Fly Away Home” kind either. These are yellow, they stink really bad and they bite. Thus, I affectionately refer to them as Ninja Ladybugs. There’s hundreds of them. They hang out in doorways and windows. Crawl on ceiling and lamps.

Ruthie thinks they are delicious. She snacks on them as fast as she can catch them. Then she stands just out of my reach and gives me a wicked smile while I can smell her ladybug breath from across the space. Once I catch her I have her spit out the smelly ladybug pieces and scrape them off her tongue. While I’m occupied putting them into the trash she’s busy finding and snacking on the next one. Which is not a difficult thing to do. Usually she is chewing her next one before I turn back around. We did this little routine five or six times the other day. The Ninjas met their match in Ruth.

So let me just say, BRING ON WINTER and all things delicious, like pumpkin pie and fresh venison. I’m hopeful that by Christmas ladybug snacks will be gone.


pray for them 

Lord, teach (Name) how to live each breath by the Holy Spirit. May (he/she) be among “those who belong to Christ Jesus [and] have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” For “if [Name lives] by the Spirit, let [him/her] also keep in step with the Spirit.” In your name I pray, amen. –Galatians 5:24-25

Prayers taken from the daily prayer on the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Balsamic Glaze

I am not sure where my mom found this delicious sauce, but Oh. My. Gosh. I wanted to drink it. We ladled it over a pork tenderloin. (I bet it would be divine over salmon too.)  It has since been in my recipe book as a staple. I am passing it to you.

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1-2 tbs cornstarch

Mix b. sugar, vinegar, water & soy sauce. Bring to simmer. Combine cornstarch with small amount of water and add to simmering mixture until desired thickness.

Smile Hard

Last week I challenged myself to Project Smile where I try to smile at my kids each time I see them. Um… Friends, smiling is hard!! Usually because when I hear my name called – before I even turn around – someone is tattling on someone else. There is nothing that makes me want to smile about that.

Nevertheless, I am trying. I have smiled at my kids more this week than the last and you know what? As difficult and fake as it feels sometimes, I noticed my kids responding to me better. They are quicker to obey and more willing to confide. Also, I noticed myself laughing more. Enjoying small moments more. Definitely worth the effort.

This whole Project Smile thing is not nearly as easy as I thought it would be, but I do believe it is totally worth it. It is changing the atmosphere in my home as well as in my own heart.


pray for them

Let us all pray for wisdom as the holidays approach. Wisdom in decisions, family matters and friendships.

Lord, let (Name) be blessed when (he/she) “finds wisdom, and [becomes] the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.” In your name I pray, amen. –Proverbs 3:13-14

Prayers taken from the daily prayer on the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Classic Cranberry Sauce

What is Thanksgiving without Cranberry sauce? But this year, let’s not slice it.  Here is such a simple, basic recipe I make every year. So good.

  • 12 oz Whole Cranberries
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Orange Juice
  • Orange Peel Curls

In a sauce pan heat sugar and juice until sugar dissolves. Add cranberries and stir until they begin to pop. I wouldn’t let it boil, you may scorch it. Once they begin popping stir and smash berries then pour into your serving bowl. Garnish with the orange peels. The sauce will thicken as it cools but you can serve it warm or cold, both are delicious.

Serve it for Christmas too! Throw a dash of Cloves in there and its Christmas in a bowl.

Recipe taken from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/9111/cranberry-sauce/?internalSource=hub%20recipe&referringContentType=search%20results&clickId=cardslot%202

Beauty Beyond Decoration

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching and there are so many magazines and blogs about how to make your table beautiful. I absolutely love a beautiful dining experience. Yet, what value does a beautiful table have if the relationships of those around it are broken and the conversation stilted? There is no time like the present to mend broken relationships. Thanksgiving is a time when we humble ourselves, reflect and thank God for our blessings. Family, friends – new and old. Sitting around a beautiful table though and seeing a hostile face is something else all together.

Every family has its issues. As parents, we need to model conflict resolution for our children especially when it comes to family. In twenty years, it may be them in our shoes — broken and stilted. Show them how to reach out and be a peacemaker. Family problems have a tendency to be cyclical unless we change the pattern. We all need forgiveness, therefore we all need to walk in forgiveness. This season, I urge you to reach out and make the first effort.

There is still time to make a phone call before Thanksgiving. If we are truly going to create an atmosphere of beauty, sometimes we need to go deeper than a table setting.


Pray for them

It seems the definition of wisdom changes with every new ideology promoted within our society. Proverbs 8 says that before God created the world, he brought forth wisdom. Wisdom witnessed the creative power of God establishing the earth and by this wisdom alone that we can unlock and discern truth. Let’s pray for the wisdom of God to lead us instead of the ever-changing whims of the culture around us.

Father, according to James 3, I ask for your heavenly wisdom and understanding to be upon (Name) all the days of (his/her) life.  “By [his/her] good conduct let [him/her] show [his/her] works in the meekness of humility.” I ask specifically for the “wisdom from above [which] is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness [to be] sown in peace by [(Name), who makes] peace.” In the name of Jesus, I ask these things, Amen. — James 3:13, 17-18

Prayers taken from the daily prayer on the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Painter’s Cake Recipe

  • 1 Cake Mix
  • 1 Homemade White Frosting Recipe (or two cans)
  • 1 Box Assorted Color Fondant (Ready to roll)
  • 1 Paint Brush

Divide and bake cake in 9″ and 6″ round pans. Let cool completely on a rack. Layer cake and spread frosting between the layers. Add the white frosting until covered, refrigerating between each new layer until completely covered.

Roll out the different fondant colors and use a cookie cutter shape to create paint splotches.

You can create a paint brush out of fondant, however for the sake of time I used a new one we had on hand. Gabe loves to paint so for him, it was special.

Not As Planned

Happy Monday Morning!

Saturday we celebrated Micah and Gabriel turning 4. I had the perfect day planned for them. We would take them to Chick-Fil-A for lunch. See the Veteran’s Day parade. Go to RideMakerz where they would build their own cars. Take naps and then have a party where they got to see the cakes I had made especially for them from things they love the most. The whole day was pretty much awful. It culminated in a humiliating halt to the birthday party right before we brought the cakes out. Anyone been there? Anyone??

First they had their last soccer game which they refused to play in because it was too cold. Then, we went to Walmart where Micah saw a toy he wanted for his birthday and when we didn’t get it for him (because we already had something planned) he resorted to his all-time worst tantrum we had ever seen. It ended with breathing exercises in the parking lot…

We took them to a shop called RideMakerz where they built their own cars. This was the place where they had a blast and that’s what gave this birthday good memories.

Then came time for the birthday party. Cakes were made (Yes! I made the Mack cake and a Painter’s Cake for Gabe), decorations hung and family gathered. Before we even brought out the cakes, the boys had already hit 3 people and pinched someone else. By the time the last offense took place we were forced to stop everything and have a parenting moment in the garage.

Painter’s Cake

Mack Cake

Awful. Party. If I were honest, I didn’t even want to light the candles. Which, self destructed the moment I did anyway. I had this idyllic party in my head and my beautiful vision was crashing and burning all around me. The pizza had broke in half in the oven and was streaming cheese all down the racks. The coffee ran all over the counter while the boys were in their own world of sleep-deprived, four-year-old madness.

But you know, kids are kids and I’m realizing the moments I need mine to be extra good, they don’t always cooperate. As one mishap after another piled on, my desire to keep celebrating these turbo-charged, misbehaving boys declined rapidly. But, I knew if we stopped the party it would deeply wound their hearts. Gone was my idyllic party, but we don’t celebrate them because they always have perfect behavior. We celebrate them because we love them.

Though I had to pull my own emotions together in order to regain a semblance of party atmosphere, I’m glad I did. They are good kids and even on their bad days we love them.


Pray for them

 

Let’s pray for our loved ones to be rooted and established in truth.

Father, bring (Name) into maturity in Christ, “so that [he/she] may no longer be [a child], tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, [and] by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, [may(Name)] grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” In the name of Jesus, amen. — Ephesians 4:14-15

Prayers taken from the daily prayer on the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Mack Birthday Cake

Mack Cake

  • 1 Cake Mix
  • 2 cans Frosting (or 1 homemade recipe)
  • 24oz Red Fondant (ready to roll)
  • 2oz Grey Fondant (ready to roll)
  • 2 oz Yellow Fondant (ready to roll)
  • 2 oz White Fondant (ready to roll)
  • 6-10 Chocolate Covered Cookies

Pick a cake you want and bake it on a large cookie sheet. (Reduce the baking time.) I opted for a delicious Texas Sheet Cake Recipe.

Cut 5 long sections to identical size, 2 smaller sections the same size, and 3 short sections that will be the same size. Stack long sections with frosting (not icing) in between so that each upper layer lays flat. I made a simple peanut butter frosting for mine.

Stack the second section with a layer of frosting, and add two of the short pieces on top.

Cut out a piece of red cardboard for Mack’s hat bill. Set it on top so that the front of the hat does not extend over his nose. Layer the last short piece on top of the hat.

Roll out red fondant and drape and smooth over the body of Mack. Do the same for his face.

I procrastinated and got mine at Michaels but these large Fondant boxes are half the price on Amazon.

Roll out the other colors and cut to fit the different areas based on your design. Lightly brush water onto the back of the fondant piece to adhere it to the red fondant.

Use your choice of chocolate covered cookies for wheels.