Wednesday, December 31, 2008

a quilt, a cabinet and a duvet cover

I don't have a lot of time to write but I wanted to show you the finished quilt. After looking at the pictures I saw a few threads that need snipped but I figured you wouldn't mind. Here's a picture of the new and improved boy's room after our trip to IKEA yesterday. And finally here is my new duvet cover from the Pottery Barn Outlet. Everything in the store was 50% off. I'm sure you noticed the amount of red I have in my life. I just can't get enough! Have a very happy and safe New Year's Eve.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What I'm Up To...

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. I know we did. The aftermath of Christmas is always a bit flustering for me. Our house is small so we have to keep things organized or I go a little batty. I spent the last few days working on the quilt for my sister-in-law's birthday. I was able to finish it yesterday and I washed it up today. It turned out very well. This was my first big machine quilting experience and I'm pretty pleased with the result. It isn't perfect by any means but for a first go I think it is pretty good. I'll try to take some pictures of the finished product tomorrow and post them. ***Note the Rowenta iron my husband gifted me for Christmas**** In other news, I went fabric shopping. This is really the best kind of shopping. Here is some fabric for a baby quilt I have in mind. I hope I'll be able to start on it before I have to head back to work. I still think the Moda Marble fabric is my most favorite of all the fabric lines. It is so bright and cheery and colorful. More on that quilt later.
As I said at the beginning of this post, our house is small. It reminds me of a cottage in a lot of ways. We love it so much but it really can get cluttered fast. Today the boys and I went through their room. I bought them big boxes for under their beds years ago to keep all those papers and treasures they just couldn't part with. Every so often we clean out the boxes. The boxes were actually falling apart and so I wanted to figure out how to better organize their "treasures." Fortunately, they threw away most of what was in those boxes. I guess it had been quite a while since we last went through them. We gathered all the stuffed animals and organized them on a shelf in the closet (I had them pick 5 to keep on their beds). This helped the room clutter quite a bit. Then we took a trip to IKEA. Fun. Well, fun for me. The boys weren't too excited. I found a small cabinet that fit between their beds and under their window to store the "treasures" that accumulate on their dressers. Wow do I feel better. I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to organize!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


My friend, Amy, and I had a good long talk about how hard life can be and how God works in our lives and the lives of our children. There are lots of challenges there. I've been feeling that some things are just plain hard. When I follow the path God has chosen for me I sometimes feel that I just can't walk another step. That's when I know I'm relying on myself and not on Him.

In my devotional this morning I read about the prophet Nathan. "Prophets like Nathan, let God act through them to accomplish what God wants to do, and what only God can do." Now, my sons name is Nathan and I have seen in his life what only God can do. And I've had to let go of a lot of my preconceived notions about parenting to see it.

So when you think things are too hard, remember that God works in mysterious ways and that He will give us the strength. Here's a video about a son who wanted to participate in a triathlon (or iron man or one of those crazy run/swim/bike races) and how his dad made that happen for him. So when I feel like things are too hard, I just watch this video.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Quick Thinking

I feel like I've been living in a fog. Too much to do and not enough time to get it done. Christmastime is so much more difficult now that I'm working. So this morning I found myself realizing that it was the last religious education class before Christmas and I hadn't thought to get anything together for the boys' teachers. What to do??? I thought and thought for a few minutes and went to the fabric stash and then decided I'd make some Blessed Mother ornaments. I just made a little fabric sandwich and sewed around the whole thing twice, cut with my pinking shears and added a loop at the top to hang. All before 8am.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Grandma Gray's Sugar Cakes

When I was a kid my Grandma Gray (my Mom's Mom) and my Aunt Mary (my Mom's sister) had a stand at the local farmer's market. My aunt sold vegetables and my grandmother baked pies and cookies to sell. I loved going to my grandmother's house. I was the youngest grandchild and was a bit spoiled because of it. I can remember my grandma mixing up great batches of cookies using a big old white coffee mug to measure out the flour and sugar. She didn't call these sugar cookies, they were sugar cakes. My grandmother made them with a raisin in the middle. I always took the raisin out before I age them. My mother was smart enough to copy down my grandmother's recipes but had to figure out just how much fit into that large coffee mug. My grandmother's idea of a cup was NOT the same as a measuring cup. I half this recipe when I make it because I'm not going to market. you can do whatever you think best....

5 cups sugar
8 eggs
2 cups Crisco, melted
2 cups buttermilk
10 cups flour
2 heaping tsp baking soda
8 Tbsp vanilla or lemon extract

Blend sugar, eggs, and Crisco. Alternate adding buttermilk and flour/baking soda. Once batter is smooth, add extract. Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with granulated sugar. Add a raisin to the center if you like (but not if you used lemon extract). At Christmas I use colored sugar or other decorations instead of granulated sugar.

It helps to make a sample cookie to determine if you need to add more flour to the batter. These cookies should be nice and fluffy.

10 dozen.

You should note that my grandma mixed these by fancy electric mixer for her!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Butterscotch Cookies

Here is one of my all time favorite Christmas cookies. I haven't made them yet this year so I don't have a picture. I'll post the picture after I bake some so you can see just how yummy they are. The above picture was taken on Saturday morning. It is one of the reasons I'm glad my kitchen is not visible from the rest of the house!

1/2 cup margarine

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream

4 TBSP butter
2 cups 10x sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
small amount hot water

Beat margarine, brown sugar and eggs. Add next six ingredients. Beat until smooth. Drop on cookie sheets by teaspoonful. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool.

Melt butter until golden brown. Blend in sugar and vanilla. Add enough hot water until the icing is of spreading consistency. Spread on cookies immediately.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Tour of Homes

I thought I'd participate in the Christmas Tour of Homes through BooMama. Head on over to check out lots of other great "open houses". First on the list is my little Advent sign. I like to remind myself that we are in the season of Advent, not Christmas.....not yet. It helps me to slow the pace a little.Next is the kids Advent calendar. I have a lit wreath on the top of the pie crust table and the boxes under are filled with the Nativity. Ok, there is some chocolate interspersed with the angel and shephards. The kids really enjoy opening these and I love to see how they arrange all the "players". My kids really like campfires and every year Mary, Joseph and even the angel are gathered around the fire. I wonder if they are singing campfire Christmas songs???
Here it is lit up:And to keep with the Advent theme, here's a picture of our Advent wreath. We light a candle each evening (I took the picture during the 2nd week of Advent, thus two candles are lit, not three) and read a chapter from The Jesse Tree. Several years ago, while I was homeschooling the boys, I let them make ornaments for each story. We all enjoy digging through the bag and finding which ornament goes with each story. Sometimes we have a hard time figuring it out but that is part of the fun. I'm so thankful that my boys still enjoy all of these activities. Here you see the actual Jesse Tree. We cut some forsythia on St. Barbara's day to hang our ornaments and are thrilled to see some of it beginning to bloom.Next is a picture of my mantle. I had a hard time getting the shots due to failing light. We have the "fancy" Nativity up there and the stocking hung with care. I tried to get a close up shot of the Holy family but it was the Three Kings that came out the best so that's what I'm showing you. And finally, the tree. We just put it up on Saturday. The kids were so excited to decorate. Well, I've run out of time and haven't even offered you a treat. I hope you'll stop by later to pick up a recipe or two. I'll try to get them up tonight or tomorrow.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Santa Lucia Day

Today is Santa Lucia Day or the Feast of Saint Lucy. Lucy is one of those saints that we really know very little about. She lived during the time of the Romans only a few hundred years after Christ. She was martyred for her belief in Christ. She is the patron saint of blindness due to having her eyes poked out during her torture. She is often depicted holding her eyes on a plate. Grisly, I know. Boys tend to love that stuff, though, so I always throw it in. Mainly we talk about how hard it is to stand up for what you believe in and to remember Lucy, whose name means "Light". Let us be a Light for Christ.Last year I made the little Santa Lucia dolls from Alicia Paulson's blog. Mine aren't quite as nice as hers but they work. This year I added the little singing star boys. I saw this idea on Dawn's blog. They boys are made using Nathan and Nolan's favorite colors, blue (Nathan) and red (Nolan). Since I get up at the break of dawn, I decided to try to make Santa Lucia bread. Start baking at 6am, eat at 9:30am. It was a fun start to our Saturday. We are getting the tree today. I'll post pictures of our decorations on the 15th.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I SOOOOO want to do this.....

This is from Alicia Paulson's blog. Isn't it wonderful? She posts a little about how she created this little winter scene here. Maybe next year I'll get up the gumption to do something similar. I always loved the little houses and trees that we had growing up with our train set. Wonder if my parents still have it and if I can convince my dad to set it up?????

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Happy 11th

It's hard to believe that my baby is 11. This boy has brought so much fun, excitement and love into our lives. I am so proud of the young man he is turning into. Nolan is creative, jovial, fun loving, a jokester, a lover of books, a magician, theatrical and full of hugs.

Here are a few pictures that capture him pretty well. Above is a shot when he was around 2. Isn't he a lady killer? It's those eyes. This next one is from yesterday when we went out to dinner for his birthday. He really wanted that wand. Nathan is itching for one for Christmas so they can wizard duel.
Next up is his fun loving side. I beleive we have that snowball in the freezer at the moment.....
Here is the little baker. Last year he made this pie and won a baking contest. He recreated it for Thanksgiving. It is called Candy Crunch Pudding Pie. As you can see he doesn't always wear his glasses. It was a busy day with piano lessons and dinner and a visit from Nana and DadDad. Busy, but good. The boy was happy with his day.
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