Friday, November 30, 2012

3 in 30: Finishing up Well

This week was another good, quiet week at home.  One of my friends and I got together with our children for supper one night since both of our husbands were out of town (not together).  That was fun.  And Sarah Beth and I are heading to the Nutcracker tomorrow.  I've never been to a ballet, so this should be an experience.

Here's how I did with my monthly goals; I think I did well this month.  Hooray!
  • With the holiday season coming quickly and with cooler temperatures, I want to start baking something extra weekly.  Once again, I baked some strawberry muffins.  They are just so good, and I had the necessary ingredients so it's hard to resist making them.  You can find the recipe below.  We also made Chocolate Minty Melt Cookies; that's how I know that Christmas is coming.  Yum!  A peppermint-flavored chocolate cookie with a mint truffle kiss on top.  Delicious!
  • I also want to involve my children more in the kitchen.  Both Sarah Beth and Daniel helped bake the cookies Wednesday, and Sarah Beth helped with the bread baking yesterday, too.
  • I want to crochet some dishcloths.  I've got four (almost five) done, and here is the picture that I finally took of them.  By the way, I'm giving two of these dishcloths away in my five-year blogging anniversary giveaway.  Check it out!

How was your week?  What were you able to get accomplished?  Have you seen the Nutcracker?  Any other ballet?

Now for the recipe for Strawberry Muffins.  I found this recipe somewhere online, but I can't remember whose blog it was on.  If it was yours, let me know, and I'll give you credit.  This recipe is so easy and simple and yummy and healthy -- okay, well, not so healthy.  Take a box of strawberry cake mix and two cups of applesauce and mix them together.  Bake at 375 for 15-18 minutes.  That's it.  Easy-peasy!  The muffins are really good the first day, but if there are any left, they are very moist, i.e. grossly wet, the next day.  I don't care for them then, but my kids still love them.  Do you have a recipe for strawberry muffins?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Five Years of Blogging -- Giveaway

Five years.  I can hardly believe that I have been blogging that long.  When I started, I wasn't sure how long I would continue, but I discovered that I enjoy it more than I thought I would.  And there have been a lot of changes for our family in those five years.

This is the pony I bred for our children; unfortunately, we sold her and the farm before any of our children were old enough to ride her.  But she would have made the BEST children's pony ever!

Five years ago, I was pregnant with Daniel; we lived on a small farm with a few horses; we only had one child; and we lived in Georgia.  Then Daniel was born; we sold the farm and moved into a neighborhood; Rachel came; John got a new job in Florida; we moved down here; and Mary arrived.  Five busy years in a nutshell.

In order to celebrate five years of blogging, I thought I would have a giveaway.  How else do you celebrate in the blogosphere?  Here is what you will receive, if you win:
In order to win, all you have to do is 
  • leave a comment telling about a big life change that happened in your life within the last five years, for one entry.
  • post about this giveaway on your blog or facebook page and leave another comment saying that you did so, for another entry.
I would wish you luck, but that would assume that we don't worship a sovereign God who controls everything down to the smallest detail, including who wins this giveaway.  But you can't win, if you don't enter!

This giveaway is open until Sunday, December 9th at 8:00 when I will use to draw a winner.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Random Question: Where was Your First Date?

I had such a good response when I asked where you met your husband that I thought I would continue this series.  

John and I were friends for almost a year before he (finally!) asked me out.  One of the men in his Bible study had four tickets to a dinner theatre and was looking for another couple to go with him and his date.  One of our mutual friends encouraged John to take me, and the rest is, as they say, history.

When John arrived that night to pick me up, he brought me flowers.  He was the first, and therefore the only, man who brought me flowers.  We met up with the other couple and went to the play which frankly was disappointing.  I don't remember much about the play except that I didn't much care for it.  Afterwards, the couples split up, and John took me to the Riverwalk where we walked and talked for another hour or so.  And that was the beginning of our relationship.

Where was your first date with your husband?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: A Household Notebook

Do you keep a household notebook, something to keep track of the myriad of activities and chores that you need to get done on a daily basis?  Have you started thinking about what you will use next year?  If not, let me encourage you to plan ahead and figure out what you need.  For several years, I could not find anything that met my needs, so I made my own in a spiral notebook.  It worked wonderfully for several reasons:  notebooks are relatively inexpensive; I could customize my planner for my needs; and it just took a little bit of work.  (Here is a little more about my homemade planner.)

Last year, however, I found the Time Keeper, and I love it.  The weekly layout is similar to what I created, but it comes in a prettier package.  And there is room for menu planning and a few other nice additions.  Honestly, it just looks nicer, and that appeals to me.

Whatever you decide to use, I encourage you to go ahead and think about it now -- before you need it.

What do you use to keep track of your family's doings?  If you don't use any kind of system, how do you remember everything?

Friday, November 23, 2012

3 in 30: Thanksgiving Week

Since Thanksgiving was this week, I had great opportunities to work on my goals.  But first, we had a nice, quiet week at home; we even had school.  My parents arrived Wednesday afternoon, and it was so nice to have them here for Thanksgiving, especially since we enjoyed this holiday all by ourselves last year.  Unfortunately, my parents had to leave this morning, but we certainly enjoyed them (and their dog!) while they were here.

How did I do with my goals?
  • With the holiday season coming quickly and with cooler temperatures, I want to start baking something extra weekly.  I baked some strawberry muffins one morning, and I tried a new pecan pie recipe for Thanksgiving.
  • I also want to involve my children more in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, I did not take advantage of the holiday to have my children help me in the kitchen.  But they did enjoy spending some time with their grandparents and their daddy while I cooked.
  • I want to crochet some dishcloths.  I've got another one completed, but I forgot to take a picture...again.  Next week, I'll be sure to post one.
How was your Thanksgiving?  Did you try a new recipe?  How did it turn out?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

3 in 30: Bittersweet

I think my children are finally getting adjusted to the time change that happened almost two weeks ago. I like to wake up early and jog on my treadmill, then read my Bible and take my shower before my children wake up.  For the past two weeks, I have just been able to get my shower before hearing the sound of their door opening.  I can't say that I've missed jogging, but I have missed the reading I do while I jog -- bittersweet.  But yesterday and today, they have slept until almost 7:00, so I think next week I'll try to get back to my morning routine.

Another bittersweet development this week is that we finished up our homeschool co-op for the year.  We're all going to  miss going to school as we have so much fun there, but it will also be nice to stay home for a while.  We start back in January, and we look forward to that.  Other than that, it was a fairly quiet week.  But Thanksgiving is next week, and that is going to be fun!

As for my goals this week, I feel like I did well.
  • With the holiday season coming quickly and with cooler temperatures, I want to start baking something extra weekly.  I've done so much baking lately that I wrote a whole post about it!  It's been fun and delicious!
  • I also want to involve my children more in the kitchen.  You can see what we did with a picture or two here.
  • I want to crochet some dishcloths.  I've got one finished and another close to being done, but I forgot to take pictures -- sorry!
How was your week?  What did you get accomplished?  Are your children adjusted yet to the time change?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Baking Days...and a Crane

As you know, one of my goals for the month has been to do some baking, and to involve my children with some of that baking.  As I told you last week, I baked some pumpkin muffins and some Fudgey Brownie Bites (yuck and yum!).  

Our homeschool co-op's teacher had her birthday last week, as well, so we made some cupcakes to celebrate.  I thought all of the children would enjoy it (who doesn't like cupcakes?), and it went well with my goal.

I took this picture of the cupcakes before I iced them because I thought they were kind of neat looking; I didn't realize the m&m's would leave color like that as the cupcakes baked up around them.

To celebrate the last day of our homeschool co-op, which is today, we baked cookies.  I wanted to try a new chocolate chip recipe because I had heard that using shortening instead of butter makes chewy cookies instead of crunchy.  This recipe was okay...which means I won't keep it or try it again, and it's not worth sharing with you.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures, but you can imagine what it looked like by looking at the first picture -- my three children lined up on one side of the peninsula in our kitchen.  That set-up works great, and I wish I had thought of it sooner.

On a completely different note, we checked out Cranes by David and Penny Glover last week at the library.  When we finished reading it, we discovered the blueprints to make our own crane.  How fun!  But this was definitely in John's area of expertise, so I let him do this with our children.

Sarah Beth and Daniel have had so much fun playing with this crane; the only problem is that it is a little fragile, so we can't let Mary and Rachel play with it.  I will be looking for more books in this series because they are fun to read, and I hope there are more plans for more machines in them.

Have you done any baking lately?  How did it go?  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mary is Eleven Months Old!

It's hard to believe that Mary will be one year old next month.  This year has flown by, and it seems like yesterday that Mary was born.

Mary's first taste of chocolate.  Apparently, someone dropped a chocolate chip on the floor, and Mary snatched it up.  

I love this expression on her face!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: Sneak by Evan Angler

I reviewed Swipe by Evan Angler this summer, so when I saw the sequel Sneak offered by BookSneeze, I had to get a copy to review it, too.  Swipe continues the story of Logan in a futuristic America when the world is moving to a Global Union.  Most people are "Marked," and these people get all the advantages that come with being able to buy and sell.  There are a few who are not "Marked," and these people are looked down on and belittled, and they live a hard existence, as you imagine since they cannot buy things.  In this book, Logan starts the search for his sister Lily who disappeared when she went to get her Mark.  He thought she was dead but has discovered that she is still alive.

This book picks up where the first one left off.  And it is a good young adult novel, but there are things in it that are not realistic...but fitting for young adults, such as people being more generous than they would be in such hard circumstances.  Things are a little too good; people are a little too nice.  However, it is good to read about the teamwork and caring that Logan and his friends have for each other.  And Christian themes and ideas that were lacking in the first novel are starting to surface.  I enjoyed that aspect the most.

This book is a good, clean read about a possible bad future for our world, but it is fitting for young adults.  It definitely is an eye opener.  However, I think adults might find it a little unrealistic.

I want to thank BookSneeze for my (kindle) copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Finished Object Friday - Soap

I haven't posted a picture of my homemade soap since I made the first batch, so I thought I would post another one.  As you can see, I bought some cute soap molds so I wouldn't have to use an old orange juice carton.  I'm not sure why the soap has this brownish color, but the two scents I bought from this company have done that while the two I bought from a different company left my soap nice and white.  Needless to say, I won't be buying scents from the first company again.  

With this batch, I also tried a new recipe.  But I don't think I'll like it.  I haven't used it yet because it still needs another week or two to cure, but it's pretty soft.  I can leave an indentation with my finger, and that means that it will probably dissolve pretty quickly when I use it.  But we'll see.

What have you been working on lately?

This post is linked at Fresh from the Chari Tree.

3 in 30: A Productive Week

Oh, boy!  This has been a long week!  Monday and Tuesday were relatively normal, and then Wednesday Rachel had a follow up appointment for her JDM.  Since her doctor is an hour away, that trip took all afternoon.  But the children did well; it was the first time that Sarah Beth and Daniel had gone.  As a treat, on the way home, we stopped and got some ice cream.  Mary started running a low-grade fever Wednesday before the trip, but she was pretty much okay for the trip.  Mary was still running the low-grade fever Thursday, but I thought it was just a cold because she seemed to feel fine, so we went to co-op.  But when we got home, she just wanted me to hold her.  And her fever kept going up.  She refused to eat her afternoon snack, so I was worried that she might have an ear infection.  John came home a little early to keep the oldest three while I took Mary to the doctor.  It turns out that I was right -- she basically has a cold; thankfully, there was no ear infection and no flu.  Surprisingly, she slept all night last night, but she woke up feeling kind of puny and still running a low fever.  So I declared today a "sick day."  Mary is napping fitfully right now, and I turned a video on for my other children.  Nope, Mary just woke up and is sitting on my lap while I finish this post.

I feel like I've hardly been home since Wednesday morning!  But I was able to get some things done before the doctor's appointments and sickness.
  • With the holiday season coming quickly and with cooler temperatures, I want to start baking something extra weekly.  We were out of my usual bedtime snack of ice cream Monday , so I whipped up some Fudgey Brown Bites from Ann Byrn's Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Doctor which were absolutely delicious.  While the oven was on, I made some pumpkin "Better-for-You Muffins," and they tasted like they were better for you.  We ate them one morning and threw out the rest.  Yuck!  The best and most fun part of my baking this week was the cupcakes. 
  • I also want to involve my children more in the kitchen.  My older three children helped out with the cupcakes; they were especially good at putting the m&m's in them.  The recipe called for three in each cupcake, but Rachel can't count yet.  So some of the cupcakes had a few more, and we couldn't allow that, could we?  So we added a few more to the rest.  What can it hurt to have a couple extra m&m's?  Yum!  This recipe was also from the same cupcake book.  
  • I want to crochet some dishcloths.  I've almost gotten the first one done.
How was your week?  What were you able to accomplish?  Did you have any sickness at your house?

This post is linked here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Don't Forget to Vote

I'm sure that all of my readers remember that today is the day to vote, and I want to encourage each and every one of you to go to the polls and vote, that is, if you know for whom and for what to vote.  If you have no idea, and especially if you don't care, please stay home.  Better yet, educate yourself before you head out so that you can make informed choices.

Voting is a big responsibility, and we should treat it seriously.  We should vote our morals and our beliefs.  If we think abortion is murder, we should not vote for someone who thinks it's okay.  As John Quincy Adams said, "Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost."

Or, as my father says, "Sometimes you have to hold you nose when you cast your ballot."

Whatever else, if you vote to please God and to honor Him, you can't go wrong.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.  Did you know that?  I didn't, either, until Friday when I read about it in the latest issue of World.  Here's another day that caught me unawares.

I'm not exactly sure how to "celebrate" this day, but I plan to think about it for next year.  Of course, lots of prayer should happen.  And definitely we should be aware that people are being persecuted, tortured, and killed just because they love our Lord Jesus.

How easy it is to forget the suffering of our fellow Christians as we enjoy our religious liberty here in the United States.  Let's try to remember.

For more information about the persecuted church, you can check out Voice of the Martyrs.

Friday, November 2, 2012

3 in 30: Finishing One Month and Starting Another

Since half of this week was part of October, and half was November, I thought I would work on my goals for both months this week.  Boy, that sounds impressive, doesn't it?  I don't mean it that way.  Honestly, I was just hoping for another half a week to work on my October goals to see if I could get just a little more done, and it was time to start the November ones.

Here are/were my October goals:
  • I enjoyed writing letters so much last month that I want to continue it this month -- one a week.  Specifically, I want to use these notes as an encouragement to the people I pray regularly for.  Since I didn't get my letter written last week, I hoped to get two done this week, and I did...kind of.  I got one written but not in the mail.  I sent an email for the other one, and I just hope that the right person gets the message.  I guess it doesn't really matter since the main thing is that I'm praying for this person.
  • I want to get school started at 9:00.  I'm bad about doing "just one more thing" before sitting down with our schoolwork.  Starting a load of laundry, doing the breakfast dishes, making the bed -- things that don't take long.  You know how it is.  And pretty soon, the time adds up, and we start school later than I want to...which pushes everything back for the morning.  We started school at 9:15 on Monday and 9:05 on Tuesday.  (We didn't have school yesterday because I had to take Rachel for blood work.  And Thursday is our co-op day.)  We started school today at 9:20 which isn't great.
  • Everywhere I look in my house, I see something that needs to be sorted or gone through.  I've had this goal of sorting before, but I want to have it again.  Honestly, if I don't put it down here for you to keep me accountable, I won't do it.  I seem to have so many things that are in the wrong place or would be better in a different place.  With winter finally here in Florida (at least for this week), I've had to go through some of my clothes and my children's clothes in order for us to be dressed warmly.  Specifically, I went through Mary's clothes, her hand-me-downs from Sarah Beth and Rachel, and I put away her summer clothes.  I have to admit that I had a lot of fun going through her "new" clothes, remembering Rachel and Sarah Beth wearing them.
I think I finished out my month fairly well.  I'm pleased anyway, and I plan to continue striving for a 9:00 start time for school and frequent, if not every week, letters.

Here are my November goals:
  • With the holiday season coming quickly and with cooler temperatures (and with my waistline where I would like it!), I want to start baking something extra weekly.  Doesn't this sound like a yummy goal?  I planned to make pumpkin muffins this week, but it just didn't happen.  Does that mean that I need (or get!) to bake two things next week?
  • I also want to involve my children more in the kitchen.  Sarah Beth has been begging me to let her help me prepare supper, and I usually put her off.  Since she's just six, she's not ready to brown ground beef or take things out of the oven, but surely there are other things she can help with.  And considering my first goal, it would be great to get my children involved, as well.  Of course, baking with one child is easy, two is harder but do-able, but three is tough!  Sarah Beth did help me with supper Saturday night, and she enjoyed it immensely!
  • I want to crochet some dishcloths.  I have another project I need to finish first, and then I will get started on these.
Whew!  It looks like I got a pretty good start on this month's goals, too!  

As an aside, I'm so glad that Halloween is over because it means the end of Autumn Mix candy corn.  I can walk by a bag of Hershey's kisses without being tempted, and I can keep myself to one Dove chocolate a day, but I cannot resist candy corn, especially the pumpkins.  If they're at the grocery store, I have to buy them, and if I buy them, I have to eat them.  Thankfully, they're only around for one month a year, and that month is now over!

How was your week?  What did you do?  How do you feel about candy corn?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

October Review of New Years Goals

October was a good, fun month here at our house.  The weather finally cooled off so that we're no longer wearing shorts...this week anyway.  We took a couple of fun field trips and had some great visits with family.  Rachel is doing great with her JDM, and we're tapering her off her prednisone.

Anyway, here is how I did with my New Year's Goals:
  • School.  School is going great for us.  I enjoy so much watching Sarah Beth and Daniel learn, especially since I'm the one teaching them.  Reading is really clicking with Sarah Beth, and it's fun seeing her pick out words that she recognizes from street signs, magazines, whatever.  Math is her favorite subject, and it's amazing how quickly she picks up new concepts.  
  • Reading.  Here is the list of books that I've read so far this year.  I only have a couple left in my "to read" list, but time is running out!
  • Losing weight.  This goal is accomplished!  Whoohoo!
  • Run a 5K.  I ran this race last month.  Hooray!  I'm still jogging three or four times a week on my treadmill.  It's not that I enjoy it so much, but I do like the fact that I do it.  Besides, I know that it's good for me.  And I get to read while I do it!!
  • Hospitality.  We did not have anyone over just for supper last month, but we did have a couple of wonderful visits from family.  I think that counts toward my goal, don't you?  My parents came for a few days, as did Uncle Ray.  We had such a good time during these visits!  And it looks like my mother-in-law is coming this month, too!  When it rains, it pours, as they say, but in a good way.
  • Work.  It's hard to find a job.  I didn't think it would be this hard.  *Sigh*  But I do enjoy being home all the time instead of just most of it.
How are you doing with your goals for the year?  Have you started thinking about your goals for next year?