Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Prayer Closet

I feel like prayer is a real area of weakness for me. Finding a regular, quiet and concentrated time to talk to God is hard - because I get so easily distracted by things I think need to be done right at that moment. So, last summer (2005) when I was in Colorado, I was sitting in church and felt like God was inspiring me with the idea of a prayer closet. I have a big walk-in closet, and the thought was that I should clean out one part and make it a retreat where I can go and talk to God about the things nearest to my heart.

So, finally - over a year later, I am getting this set up. I share this with you for two reasons. One, because some of the crafty things I think you might enjoy also. And, two - to ask how you keep track of prayer requests and praises. Do you have a journal, an index card box, a photo album with photos of those you want to pray for? I'd really appreciate hearing what works for you as I can get so overwhelmed with all the things there are to pray for and sometimes just give up.

I am just beginning the process of figuring out what works for me - but the first thing I needed was a quiet and undistracted place. This is what I came up with:

This memo board can hold favorite quotes, verses or prayer requests. I think of it as a place that will inspire me to pray and worship God. You can find the directions to make this board here.

I needed some sort of light as there is only a big overhead light and I wanted something more peaceful and calm. I found this little battery operated lamp in the camping section of Wal-Mart. Perfect!
Then, I needed some sort of little table to keep my prayer box or journal and the lamp on. (See finished box above with lamp and box on it!) I created this out of an empty diaper box and covered it with toile fabric. You could either staple (using a heavy duty staple gun) or hot glue the fabric over the box. It fits perfectly - and I especially like reusing something that would otherwise be trash.

This sign will be kept on the memo board, but when it is on the door knob that means I am praying and do not want to be disturbed unless it is an emergency, of couse.

Then, I needed some place to sit/kneel - I thought just sitting on the floor would eventually get uncomfortable and therefore distracting. So, I made these two pillows and set one against the wall (under my shorter hanging clothes) and the other on the floor.

All of these things will make a more comfortable environment...now, I need to work on the discipline of prayer and make it a daily reality in my life.

Matthew 6:6, "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen."

Monday, October 30, 2006

Pie Contest

Our church held its annual Fall Festival last night and Emily and I entered this Pumpkin Pie in the pie contest! We won second place! Emily stirred all the ingredients together and helped put them in the crust and then helped make the topping! Way to go Emily! Here is her picture with the winning pie, the sign that lists her as the second place winner and of course, a slice for Mom and Dad when we got home! My friend, Michelle, won first - so that made it even more fun!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Vintage Frame Makeover

Remember this post? Well, I decided to makeover this frame yesterday.

Here is the before picture:

After one coat of yellow paint (left from this) and a new piece of glass (salvaged from an unused frame laying around my closet):

And, now hanging in Emily's room! This picture was painted by my Grandma's cousin, John! I think it has such a cottage-y look!

This took a total of fifteen minutes (not including paint drying time) to complete.

Easy Cheese Batter Bread

I made this the other night to go with our free crock-pot dinner and it was very tasty! Also made great toast for breakfast the next morning! This recipe is from a Pillsbury Bake-Off Cookbook.

Easy Cheese Batter Bread

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt*
1 pkg. active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp.)
4 oz. (1 cup) shredded Cheddar cheese (I used Mexican Blend)
3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. margarine or butter
3 eggs

In large bowl, combine 1 1/2 c. flour, sugar, salt and yeast; blend well. Stir in cheese. In small saucepan (or microwave) heat milk and margarine until very warm (120-130 degrees). Add warm liquid and eggs to flour mixture. Blend at low speed until moistened; beat three minutes at medium speed. By hand, stir in the remaining 1 c. flour. Cover with a plate. Let rise in warm place until light and doubled in size, 45-60 minutes.

Generously grease one loaf pan. Stir down dough to remove all air bubbles. Turn into greased pan. Cover; let rise in warm place until light and doubled in size, 20-25 minutes.

Heat oven to 350. Uncover dough. Bake 40-45 minutes or until deep golden brown (I only had to bake it for 30). Immediately remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

At high altitude: bake at 375.

* I thought the bread tasted too salty and would put less salt in next time.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

More TV Thoughts...

"If you could please go into more detail on how Emily "helps" you with tasks."
Ok, here is what I've tried this week:

- Laundry: put a small stool in front of the washer and as you are sorting the clothes, hand them one item at a time to your little helper and have her put them in the washer. I also let her hold the cup for the laundry soap and poured it and let her pour it into the washer. Then, when the cycle was complete - she stood at the dryer and I handed her one item at a time to put in the dryer. She loved this so much that she got up on the stool later and said, "Wash!" And, has done it several times since then.

- Cleaning the toilet: I know this is risky - I washed her hands REALLY good after she helped! I was right there to prevent tasting any cleaner or gross water or anything! She simply loved using the toilet scrub brush to swish around the water. I scrubbed it after her of course.

- Other Cleaning: Spray Windex on toilet lid, etc... and give her a rag to let her wipe it off and clean! Today when I was dusting, I offered to have her help and she was content playing by herself, so I don't know what she would do with that yet.

- Gather Trash: when I was taking the trash to the dump, I had several folded down boxes to take. She was easily able to carry those to the car and loved feeling needed and helpful!

- Floor: I spray on floor cleaner (baby shampoo and water) and she has a rag to help me scrub it off.

- Cook: This child LOVES to stir! When I made a casserole the other night, I did the hot ingredients at the stove and let her stand on a chair so she could reach the counter. She stirred the cheese, etc... and then scooped everything into the baking dish. We had carrots also and I put some water in a measuring cup and let her pour that into the pan then I put some carrots in a bowl and let her but those in the pan also. She put them in one by one!

- Set the Table: I have to carry her for this. I get out everything we need to set the table: plates, napkins, silverware and hand her one plate and explain where to put it and repeat with the other plates. Then repeat with napkins and silverware.

- Wash Dishes: I put warm sudsy water in the sink, gave her a dishrag and some pans - she really played rather than washing the dishes. But, that is really what I am after here - is entertaining her without the TV!

- Clean Up: Every evening before bed - we have clean up time and she picks up her toys, books, etc... and puts them away. This takes a lot of hands on help right now - but she is learning!

I have found that she is so eager to learn and try something new! She is just a little sponge wanting to soak everything up!

This kind of helping does not save time right now - but as my Mom reminded me, this will cultivate in her a greater desire to help and this will help me greatly in the long run!

"Can you direct me to the behavior the Focus on the Family mentioned..."

While I could not find a copy of the article on-line to link to, I will mention that the behavior mentioned was, "uncooperative, uncontrollable, jittery and generally a terror to endure."

I have not found Emily to be this extreme. I have noticed her acting very whiny, lethargic, mopey, and not eating well. I was ready to call the doctor to find out if something was wrong. But, since we have cut back on the TV - all of this has changed. She has become very pleasant, eager to please, has started eating much better again and is generally more obedient.

Rather than the constant pestering to watch a movie, she has asked once here and there. And, when I tell her no - she accepts that and moves on - a complete change from a few days ago.

I hope this helps! I certainly do not have all the answers and know that there are lots of ideas floating around out there. The key is deciding what will work for your family (or trying things until something does!) and then going with that. Every child is different and different things will work or not work.

Anyone else have any ideas to contribute?

Taming TV

Well, I have come to realize lately just how dependent I am on TV. I am not the one watching it, Emily is. But, I am the responsible adult and I am allowing this.

I was one of those who would always say my kids weren't going to watch much TV, if any. But, here we are and it hasn't happened that way. We don't have cable. We don't even have network TV, we get one channel - PBS. So, I'm not concerned about the content of what she is watching - but the amount.

There was an article in this month's issue of Focus on the Family magazine about a family who gave TV up for a week. I was afraid to read it when I saw the title of the article because I knew I would be convicted and challenged. I finally read it this past Monday - after having the magazine for a week. I was struck by some of the behavior the mom noticed in her kids and how it changed after she took away TV privileges. I have noticed some of the same behavior in Emily and do not want it to become a pattern!

I am not feeling the need to give TV up entirely. But, to cut waaaaaaaay back on what I allow Emily to watch. She is not happy about this turn of events and I must say, it has been exhausting for me. But, we are on day four now - here's a recap:

Day One: Putting off reading the article still. I read it over lunch - and decide to give it a try. David has to work until 9pm - so I am on my own the entire day. Emily gets up from her nap and I try everything I can think of to do with her - we go for a walk, play outside, stir colored water in a bowl, try to make cookies, take a bath, take David's coat and some hot chocolate to him as he was working security at a middle school football game (another story entirely), read stories, sorted files, put shredded paper in a trash bag (Emily takes it out with glee), climbed in and out of the dryer, etc... Total TV watched today: 30 minutes. While this is a great success - all I can think about is , "How in the world will I ever entertain her tomorrow?" (By the way, there were great amounts of pouting, whining, crying and asking for a "Vee?" I'll spare you all those details.)

Day Two: Well, I decide the first day is behind me - so let's try it again. I just decide that I will let her help me with everything I need to get done this morning. She puts the clothes in the washer, helps me scrub the toilet (she loved this!), puts each article of clothing in the dryer, colors, plays, reads stories, helps me cook dinner, "washes" dishes, helps me gather the trash and take it to the dump, helped empty the dishwasher, helped set the table, etc... Total TV watched today: 30 minutes. Ok, now I'm feeling better - we made it through another day!

Day Three: I had Bible Study at church this morning, so I would imagine there was a video on in the nursery at least part of the time. But, I am not going to count that since I did not have control over it specifically. She had fun playing, though came out stomping her foot at me - which seems to be the norm after being in the nursery. Maybe being around other two-year-olds doing the same thing? I don't know. After she gets up from her nap - we made brownies. I am noticing a BIG change in her attitude and in her willingness to play by herself this afternoon. She helps me set the table for supper, plays, takes a bath, and watches one thirthy minute Veggie Tales movie as a reward for her great day. She did not even *ask* for a movie this afternoon/evening. Wow. Total TV watched today: 30 minutes.

Today we are starting day four. I'm feeling good about the success, but exhausted by the work. But somehow, I am feeling like I am getting more done. I'm not sure how this is possible because I was not sitting and watching TV with her. As David said, maybe I am just feeling better about what I am doing since this TV slug is not sucking out all our energy and good attitudes!

After just three days - I am so encouraged. I am sure there will still be rough spots. But, we are heading in the right direction!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Chicken Pot Pie

Here is a great and comforting meal for your cool fall evenings! Chicken Pot Pie. This recipe makes two 9 inch pies - one for dinner and one for the freezer. It is a bit time consuming - but worth it!

Pastry for 2 double crust pies (9 inch)
2 c. diced peeledp otatoes
1 3/4 c. sliced carrots
2/3 c. chopped onion
1 c. butter or margarine
1 c. flour
1 3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. thyme
3/4 tsp. pepper
3 c. chicken broth
1 1/2 c. milk
4 c. cooked, cubed chicken
1 c. frozen corn (or substitute one can drained whole kernel corn)
1 c. frozen peas (optional)

Place potatoes and carrots in a large saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 8-10 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet, saute onion in butter until tender. Stir in flour, salt, thyme, and pepper until blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for two minutes or until thickened. Add the chicken, peas, corn, potatoes and carrots. Remove from heat. Line 2 - nine inch pie plates with bottom pastry. Fill with chicken mixture. Roll out remaining pastry to fit tops. Cut slits in tops. Place over filling, trip, seal and flute edtes. Bake one pie at 425 for 35-40 minutes. Cover and freeze remaining pie for up to three months. To use frozen pie: shield frozen pie crust edges with foil; place on a bakin sheet. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes and then reduce heat to 350. Bake an additional 70-80 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.

The one shown above is a made in a mini pie tin and I used some extra dough to cut out a leaf shape and embellish the top!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Christmas Planning

My sister made me this great notebook and printed out the schedule from Organized Christmas. This seems like it is going to be a great tool to work ahead for the season and then be able to relax and enjoy it more! This is the first week in planning and here are the duties for this week:

To Do This Week:

Make the promise! Spend 15 minutes each day this week to get organized for Christmas.

Set up your Christmas holiday planner in a notebook or three-ring binder.

If you're using a clear pocket binder, print the cover and spine pages. Insert in pockets of your clear-view binder

Add blank lined pages for any notes and records.

Make or designate a holiday planning calendar. For your Christmas holiday planner, print the Countdown plan calendar. Want more flexible calendar forms? Add monthly planning calendars as needed.

Begin at the beginning: review your family's holiday values. Print and record your findings on the holiday values page.

Gift-buying looms! Start a master gift list. Print the master gift list form and use it to record purchases and home-made gift items.

Begin a Christmas card list. Locate addresses, and consider making a computerized Christmas card address list for maximum time savings. Or, print a Christmas card list for your holiday organizer notebook

Print a home spruce-up worksheet and complete the holiday home spruce-up exercise. Plan and schedule any pre-holiday home improvement projects.

Will your family travel this holiday season? Make travel plans and reservations this week.

Will you host houseguests this year? Make arrangements for any overnight guests.

Make an appointment for family photo sessions for holiday giving or photo Christmas cards.

Schedule carpet cleaning now! As the holidays approach, business picks up. Call now for your choice of appointment times.

To Buy This Week:

Christmas cards or supplies for Christmas letters

Holiday stamps

There are also sections on To Read This Week and To Print This Week.

I also found a link to a Bible Study that goes along with this!

Sunday afternoon, while both little girls were napping, I put on some Christmas music and started making my cards and envelopes.

I'm enjoying the Christmas mood - but Fall is not over yet and I am still fully enjoying this season as well!

To make the notecards and envelopes, see instructions here, here, here and here.

Monday, October 23, 2006


I just loved how all these pumpkins (for the Harvest party) looked in our back yard! So, I had to document the moment in photos (since I've tried to grow some and it just hasn't worked). I loved looking through my kitchen window and seeing them sitting out in the yard, too!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Harvest Party Part One!

Today was the much-prepared for and anticipated Homespun Harvest Party! It turned out to be a beautiful and sunny (85 degrees!) morning to be out in God's great creation! I think it would be safe to say that everyone had a wonderful time and we're already talking about next year!

One thing I want to share: a mom of five called me this morning saying one of her kids was sick and she wouldn't be able to come. I was sorry, but just prayed, Lord, You know who should be here today. Maybe there is someone else who needs to come instead." Two hours later, another friend calls saying her friend's field trip was cancelled for today - could she come to the party? Sure! I asked how many kids she had - anyone want to guess? Yes, that's right - she has five! (Though only three of them came.) See how God works everything out?!

Rachel slept through the entire morning, I discovered a use for $1 croquet mallets from a flea market, and, Megan, everyone was thrilled with their candles! Thank you, for sharing of your gifts and talents!

Thank you, dear friends, for coming! I have lots of new memories with you and am thankful for you! Enjoy the photos of our morning! (Sorry, my camera battery died half way through - so I only got the first half!)

Harvest Party Part Two!

Harvest Party Part Three!

Baby Shower Ideas: Favors

I read this idea on Martha Stewart's web site and tried to come up with a less expensive option. Getting individual stamps made costs quite a bit I learned. But, I bought this ABC stamp set on ebay (notice they look like polka dots!) and just took out the letters I needed. I made eight cards for each person with their letter stamp and now they get to keep it to make more! The ribbon I found at Wal-Mart was the perfect finishing touch!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Baby Shower Ideas: Devotion

Here is the devotion we did at my sister's baby shower:


Two or more harnessed draft animals. A group of players in a game. A group organized to work together.

God’s Word says:

Exodus 17:8-13,

“The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.’

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady until sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.”

Zephaniah 3:9, “Then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder.”

Acts 1:14, “They all joined together constantly in prayer…”

Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am with them.”


Carrie needs a team to come alongside her and hold up her arms when they grow weary. Raising a child is a task that at times may feel like fighting a battle – a battle against those things that are contrary to God’s Word or choices she and Eric have made for their family. WE can be the Aaron and Hur in her life – WE can come alongside her and hold her arms up – WE can join together in prayer – WE can stand shoulder to shoulder with her in support.

Each of us is a piece of the puzzle that forms the support network around Carrie and Eric. And, each of us has been given special gifts from God. The things we contribute to others are the things God has invested in us – with the great desire and faith that we will use these things for His glory.

Pass out puzzle pieces. Write your name in a small place somewhere on each piece. Pass them around and write words or phrases describing the blessings you have experienced from knowing that person.

Put the puzzle together – look at the incredible network we have together to offer one another! Each person gets to take their pieces home to remember to pray for Carrie and Eric – and to remember the vital role you play in being a piece of their puzzle!

* Note: The stand shoulder-to-shoulder concept was one that we were challenged to embrace when I was working at Glen Eyrie and I have never forgotten that!

I made this puzzle by inserting a puzzle graphic into a word processing document. I made the graphic fill the entire page. Then I colored it in and took it to a copy shop and had it enlarged to an 11 x 17 page and copied in color. I have several copies so I don't have to do this every time I use it, as I have used this for multiple devotions through the years.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Baby Shower Ideas: Games

We played one game and used these great Bingo cards! (Notice they look fun with the polka-dots and that worked great with our theme!) Instead of just calling out the number, I had questions that went along with each one and you had to answer the question to get to mark that number. A few of the questions were: (these are hard to miss!)

~ Tell about a favorite childhood memory of Carrie (the mother-to-be)
~ Name a brand of diapers.
~ Name a sound a baby makes.
~ Name something a baby wears.
~ Sing a lullaby.
~ Name a nursery rhyme.
~ Tell about your favorite childhood memory.
~ What is something you will be praying for them?
~ Sing a song with the word baby in it.
~ Name a flavor of baby food.
~ Name a baby necessity item.
~ Name a brand of formula.
~ Name something a baby does.
~ Name a Bible story mentioning a baby.

You get the idea. We had fun with the answers and I learned a few things about other guests I had never heard before!

Have any other game ideas you want to share?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Baby Shower Ideas: Food and Decoration

Keeping with the stripes and dots theme, we used strips of fabric to be the "stripes" on the table and I punched holes out of leftover paper from the devotional project for the "dots"! This shower was a brunch, so we had fruit, applesauce oatmeal muffins, apple dip, apple spice humus, breakfast sausage casserole, and Carrie's favorite bagels!

To drink we had various juices and hot drinks available. Simple and tasty!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Baby Shower Ideas: Gift

Each day this week, we will look at a different aspect of planning a baby shower. Hope you have fun with these ideas!

My Mom and I got my sister one of these, so adorable! But, I also wanted to give her something meaningful as she starts the journey of motherhood. This is what I came up with - a devotional book that I created from a photo album and some 12x12 scrapbook paper. Cut the paper into 4x6 pieces. Print a verse and a short devotional to go with it on regular white paper. Cut out with shaped scissors and glue the verse onto the top half of the page and the devotion to the bottom half. Here are photos showing the outside of the book and the inside pages. Since she is having a boy - everything is personalized with their names and colors for boy, but this could easily be adapted for a girl as well!

Here is a sample verse and devotion from her book:

I Samuel 2:26, “And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with men.”

What more can be said of a child than that they are growing and learning in the ways of God? Isn’t this what we want for them? And, how gracious that God has filled His Word with examples of men and women who followed Him, followed His example, and have shown us practical ways that we can do the same.

Lord, You know I desire for my son to grow in Your favor. To be like You and to be known among those around Him as one who lives for You. I pray that You would show me how to teach and train him to follow Your example. And, I pray for opportunity for him to shine the light of You to others. Thank You, Lord. Amen

Friday, October 13, 2006

Favorite Photos

Here are a few favorite photos from our recent trip to St. Louis:

Emily at the zoo!

Emily and Rachel with Great-Grandma Mary

Rachel being held by Great-Great Grandma Memee. Great-Aunt Joanie on the left.

Grandpa and Emily (I LOVE this photo - so sweet!)

Grandpa and Rachel - another sweet one!

There are also a couple of darling photos here of our time with the sweet ladies of Half Pint House!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Vintage Treasures

My family knows how much I love all things vintage - especially if they have been in the family! So, here are the goodies I came home with from our recent trip to St. Louis:

These tin dishes belonged to my mom and her sisters when they were little - Emily has already had a ball playing with them. The cookie cutter is from a thrift store - but, this is our family traditional sugar cookie shape at Christmas! I am excited to now have two extras - one for Emily and one for Rachel when they are older!

My Grandma found two of these children's hot water bottles while I was there - this one was still in the Walgreens box! It says, "This little piggie went to market". I think Rachel will love it, because she gets little tummy aches and loves to lay on her tummy - the warmth should be very soothing for her!

Red and white enamelware bowl - from my sister! Old scrapbooks with unused pages, family photos, lace and doilies crocheted by my Great-Great-Grandmother Dale, and a picture frame that I have aspirations of spray painting and using in Emily's room.

My favorite family treasure is our bedroom furniture. It belonged to my Grandma's Great-Grandparents and it is believed that my Great-Great-Great-Grandfather built it!

So, tell me about your favorite family treasures!