Friday, February 29, 2008

Lifting My Eyes

Wow - sweet friends, you have again blessed me with your words of wisdom and encouragement. As I read through the comments yesterday, I was challenged, humbled, convicted and encouraged. Tears fell as I read through your words - thank you for sharing of yourselves with me.

At one point yesterday I was so discouraged and felt so defeated. God brought this idea to mind -

"Is what you are feeling conviction or condemnation?"

I'm still processing and sorting all of this out, but I know that I've felt some of both. God is good and He will show us the way, if it were easy - I would not rely on His strength.

Here are some initial thoughts:

Thanks to my friend, Anissa, who sent, "A Psalm for the Disrespected Mom!"
"I lift my eyes to You,
O God enthroned in Heaven.
We keep looking to the Lord our God for His mercy,
just as servants keep their eyes on their master,
as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal.
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy,
for we have had our fill of contempt.
We have had more than our fill of the scoffing of the proud
and the contempt of the arrogant."
~ Psalm 123

I was challenged by the thought that a couple of you pointed out that Emily and Rachel may not be disrespecting me. But at their tender age, I may be provoking them to wrath. Oh, how sad this makes me to even consider.

I was challenged also by Leanne to consider not raising my children to respect me but to train them to be "respectful, loving and godly!" What a beautiful reminder of our true goal, thank you!

I was encouraged by many of you that I am not the only one facing these struggles and knowing we are all in it together somehow helps!

I spent more time considering Megan's words than any other I think. She shared that when facing a similar stage in life - she realized her alone time was becoming an idol. Ouch. I was hit with the realization that I've been so concerned about what a frustration and inconvenience this situation is to ME and to what I want, that I haven't been focusing on what would be best for my children or our family as a whole. Lord, please forgive me for my selfish pride.

Rachel, thank you for the reminder, "God is using these challenges in mothering for his glory and your good, and the good of your children." Amen - I needed to hear this.

Thank you for sharing from your own trials, pointing me to Scripture and for all of the practical suggestions with some funny stories thrown in too! I'll be thanking God for each of you today and lifting my eyes beyond myself to look to Him!

On a fun note - guess who is coming to our home this afternoon? Yeah - we are so excited!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Naptime, or lack thereof...

Something has happened to nap time at our house ever since Emily and Rachel started sharing a room. We thought we were making progress when a friend suggested putting Rachel down first and then Emily down a bit later. This was working great. Until the past couple of weeks.

Rachel falls asleep within minutes of being put down for her nap. Emily stays up with me and has her own play time, quiet time and then we practice her Bible verses and I read to her before she goes down.

I fear that Emily has the same trouble I had for YEARS where I struggled to fall asleep - I would lay there and lay there and lay there some more. Oh my, it took me so long - even until I was in my 20's! So, I can empathize with her when she says she could not fall asleep. Because of this, I have allowed her to lay in her bed and look at books if she does it quietly. She will lay in her bed and look at books quietly IF Rachel stays asleep.

Sometimes Emily has admitted to waking Rachel up and sometimes I know Rachel probably wakes on her own. Either way, once she wakes up - that nap time is pretty much shot for the day. They get so wound up and no amount of me going in and settling them down or even spanking has made a difference.

I am absolutely unwilling to give up nap time or some kind of quiet time in our home. But, here is where I struggle - is it worth all of this frustration, all of this feeling disrespected by two small children, all of this effort for them to take a rest?

I'd be willing to consider Emily moving out of their room to have her quiet time on our bed let's say, but I know truthfully that it would just create a new problem. How to keep her on the bed? How to keep her quiet? On and on and on. Is it worth all of the frustration that would create?

Some of you will conclude that I am not in control of my children if I can't enforce this - but how many spankings and reprimands can one mother give that go totally unheeded? Emily knows what she is to do and she often does it, but I know if I concede on this it will be the undoing of quiet time in our home.

I struggle with feeling disrespected by an 18 month old and a 3 year old. I thought that wouldn't come until they were a lot older! But, they lay quietly in their beds JUST when they know I'm checking on them - as soon as I close the door and quickly reopen it - there they are back in disobedience. So, clearly, my words mean little to them.

Yesterday afternoon when I went in to let them get up - Emily was sound asleep and Rachel was, well - here is one view of what I saw and this happens frequently:

I don't know what my purpose is in posting this other than to get this frustration out...I don't know if I am asking for advice or correction. I am afraid of some of the feedback I might get. But, if you truly have something to share - I'm open to hearing it. But, I'm not open to screaming matches between two little ladies all afternoon every afternoon!

I have been praying about this and will continue to pray that God will give me wisdom and understanding to know the best way to handle this for our home.

French Bread Remade

I am currently reading this book which I checked out from our local library. I have been desiring to eat healthier lately and to prepare meals which enable my family to eat healthier. But, honestly, I've been kind of overwhelmed by how much we all love foods that aren't nutritious and the list of things to try and avoid, not to mention how changing our eating habits would impact our food budget. Good grief - why is high fructose corn syrup added to wheat hamburger buns, BBQ sauce and croutons!?

I am by no means anywhere close to knowing what I'm talking about in this arena - but will share with you what I'm learning and hope you'll help to teach me as well.

My first experiment was to serve the girls (and myself) whole wheat tortillas for lunch Tuesday. I toasted them in a skillet with chicken, cheese and salsa inside. Emily devoured hers - Rachel has never liked tortillas, but ate about half. So, I consider this a success! I already love whole wheat things - so this was easy for me!

I was planning to make French Bread for dinner that night anyway, so decided to try a little experiment.

I started out with this recipe (which I half for our family) and here is what I came out with:
(note: the author of the above book suggests this 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 flour mixture ratio)

1/4 c. wheat germ
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. white unbleached flour
1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. yeast
1/2 c. very warm water
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 c. white unbleached flour

Mix all but the last 3/4 c. unbleached flour in a mixer. When blended, switch to the dough hook and add flour 1/4 c. at a time. Let dough mix until kneaded smooth.

Cover and let rise until doubled. Sprinkle cornmeal on a cookie sheet and shape dough into a loaf. Make three slits with a knife and let rise uncovered for one hour. Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes.

And, the verdict was:
Everyone ate it without comment or complaint! I would have to say that I thought there was too much wheat germ in it. I would rather add more wheat flour and less wheat germ, but that may change over time. What exactly is the benefit of wheat germ vs. whole wheat flour?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Clean Heart - Part Twelve

Does my schedule reflect a clean heart?

What would define a schedule that reflects a clean heart?

* Rightly ordered priorities
* Choosing right things for the right reasons
* Room for God - not over crowded; time for Him to cultivate a clean heart
* Considering what would make me more like God and best for my family and only after that scheduling other things in

So, does my schedule reflect a clean heart? Right now, I would say that answer could vary daily. Since a truly clean heart is one that is in fellowship with God - I would daily be focusing on and choosing the things He has for me. What those things are will vary household by household, but a woman with a clean heart will know if there are things in her schedule that she should let go.

What is in my schedule that needs to go?

What are my motives?

What are my attitudes about these things?

Do they make me more like God or allow me to share Him with others?

* Pray through commitments and add or eliminate based on what God reveals.
* Focus on my motives being pure when I agree to add or subtract something from my schedule.

Other thoughts?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hospitality Verses

Last week, I mentioned I wanted to memorize one verse about gracious hospitality as part of the Clean Heart study I'm doing.

Carolina Mama requested that I post some of the verses I was thinking about here they are!

Philemon 4-7, "I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints."
Romans 12:13, "Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality."
1 Peter 4:9, "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling."
1 Timothy 5:9-10, "No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds."
Titus 1:8, "Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined."
3 John 5-8, "Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. t was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth."

I have an idea which one I want to learn, but I'm curious which one you'd choose and why. Please share.

Making Your Home A Haven

It was an easy decision knowing which drawer to clean out for yesterday's challenge! The drawer by the phone gets so messy so fast! I took everything out and was done in only a few minutes!




We received a special report newsletter from Samaritan's Purse the other day on the impact of shoe boxes delivered this past year. Does anyone else find themselves scouring the photos to see if you can see your box in the picture? I do!

I love seeing all the pictures of the children enjoying their boxes and am amazed at how few of them would otherwise receive gifts. Helping deliver shoe boxes is something I have on my to-do-someday list.

So, if someone wanted me to go and blog about it like Compassion just did - I'm volunteering.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cookie Recipe Update

I have been on a cookie-kick lately. They are just what I'm craving and since I'm still eating for two (nursing) I don't mind the extra calories!

Remember my request for cookie recipes? I've tried a couple and wanted to let you know how they have turned out:

This recipe from Smitten Kitchen was oh-so-good! The toasted and then chopped/powdered nuts were delicious!

I also had two friends submit this recipe and they were scrumptious as well! These cookies were the fluffiest and most beautiful chocolate chip cookies I've ever made! Anyone know if you can make your own instant pudding mix - after lots of internet searching it looks like all the recipes have to be cooked. But, I wondered if you could use the mix in the cookies and have it work?

I also tried M&M cookies for the first time ever and they will be a definite repeat around here! We had an abundance of M&M's from CVS sales the last month or two. I got the recipe from my friend, Amy - but here is one that looks almost identical. I did half butter and half shortening and also stirred the M&M's into the batter rather than putting them on top. This made for some very yummy cookies!

Thanks to all of you who shared your recipes - I have a host of others waiting to be tried as well!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Clean Heart - Part Eleven

Does my home reflect a clean heart?

This question invites others ~ like, what is my criteria for describing a home that reflects a clean heart? It obviously has less to do with the specific cleanliness of my home and more to do with my attitude within my home.

Is my home a haven for my family? Am I hospitable to all who come to my door? Right now - I would have to answer that my home does not completely reflect a clean heart, because I know that my heart isn't fully clean. I realize we are in a major transition, we're all sick (at the time I wrote this) and I'm operating on less sleep and limited physical energy and capability.

But, I hear an edge in my voice, a snap to my words and I know that I am not gracious about the many external interruptions in my day.

So, what can I change about this? And, how do I balance being open and hospitable with what is best for my family?

The first thing that comes to mind is that I can pray. Pray for a clean heart and an awareness to my areas of weakness. Pray for those who share my home with me that we would mutually bless each other.

The next thing I think of is to plan. I function so much better when I have a plan in place for my day. It helps me to get more accomplished, but also helps me to be more relaxed which creates a better attitude. When I have a plan, I have also put more thought into how to incorporate my children rather than feeling they are an interruption. (I like this calendar and use it to write my daily to-do list on. In addition, I have a chore plan for my daily chores which came from reading this book.)

A third thought comes to mind which is to prepare. Starting my day with the Lord is a necessity that I've been skipping too often lately. When my heart is prepared - my home operates more smoothly. There is another way I think of this word - prepare. What can I do ahead of time to make the next thing go more smoothly? I used to set up breakfast the night before - down to setting out the vitamins, our Bible storybook, the dishes, mixing up dry ingredients for muffins or anything else that could be done ahead. I'd like to re-adopt this and apply it to the rest of my day as well.

Praise. Instead of focusing on what I wish I could change, have a heart of praise. Practically, listen to uplifting music and sing praises to God' praise my children in their successes and be conscious of several things to be thankful for each day. I've been lax about my Thankful Journal, but it would be a great way to incorporate this.

All of these things take time and a willingness to think ahead, but they help cultivate a clean heart in me by cutting frustration.

Now, how do I balance hospitality with what is best for my family?

I have found that when I compromise this balance, it leads to frustration and to a trail of thinking that cultivates uncleanness through resentment of others encroaching on my time.

* Set limits. See my "Action" notes below for more on this.
* Be flexible - realize there will be exceptions.
* Seek God - be open to the Lord's leading over a rigid "rule" or "policy" ~ maybe He has a special plan for hospitality today that includes me.

It is not selfish to set these boundaries because it contributes to a more peaceful Mama which creates a home that reflects a clean heart to all who share it with her!

How does Proverbs 31 fit with this?

* Verse 12: The attitude I have in my home creates either a place of rest or a place of unrest. Consider how the condition of my heart affects those in my home.

* Verse 13, 15, 17, 18: I see an overwhelming theme that she is not lazy. I mentioned in a previous entry that a clean heart and laziness simply cannot go together.

* Skimming the rest of the chapter, I see evidence of the things that God brought to my mind earlier: pray, plan, prepare and praise. Her life is a testimony of these qualities. Scripture mentions that she prepares food, their winter clothes are mended and ready, she sews, she helps others. These things require planning and preparation on her part in order to fit in to the smooth running of her household.

* She bears evidence of a clean heart by her priorities, her attitudes and her actions. I am inspired anew to want to be like her because she is a Biblical model of a godly woman.


* Eliminate things that contribute to an unclean heart.
~ Record a message on our answering machine that explains we do not accept calls between noon and 3pm for Quiet Time. (done)
~ Make a sign for our front door explaining Quiet Time and that we do not receive visitors during this time. (done)
~ Be committed to consistently notifying callers if we are eating and return their call after the meal instead of taking it during the meal. Because of David's work - we do have to answer the phone.

Here is the sign on our front door:

* Host Spring Clean 2008 via my blog.
~ While the cleanliness of my home does not dictate if I have a clean heart, I do think it can contribute to having a clean heart. When there is clutter and dirt everywhere - I am distracted and not completely at peace. Order in my home can cultivate a peaceful and clean heart that is more able to be focused on good things than on clutter and mess.
~ This is something I've hosted the past two years and last year, we had so much fun. Lots of wonderful friends joined the cleaning and I have a great prize all ready to go for this year. Be watching for more details on this!

* Pray about a good attitude, appropriate opportunities and wisdom to know what is best for our family when it comes to hospitality.

* Memorize one verse about gracious hospitality.

* Invite others into our home once a month.

* Set out breakfast the night before and look for other ways to carry this preparation attitude throughout my day in an effort to help things run more smoothly. (I've done the breakfast prep every night this week.)

* Participate in the Making Your Home A Haven Challenges weekly at Biblical Womanhood.

Watch those ounces!

I recently bought some cereal on sale - I purchased four boxes of the same cereal and all of the boxes were the same size.

When I got home and was looking at my receipt, I noticed that two of the boxes were 16 oz. and two were 14.5 oz. How sneaky! I paid the same price and the boxes were so identical looking that I had no thought to check and make sure they all weighed the same.

But, it only takes once to learn something like this - you can be sure I'll be watching more closely next time!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Our New Tradition

David came home from work yesterday with these lovely flowers for me, I love how they look in my orange enamelware pitcher!

We got dressed up and went out to a great local restaurant that we'd never tried before. The sun was setting and the pink glow it sent through the room was so beautiful, this photo does not do it justice, but gives you a feel for the room. I also loved that they mentioned on the menu that the chefs utilize local vegetables, seafood and poultry in support of local farmers!

We agreed that our new tradition will be trying a new place each year. This will give us the opportunity to try lots of new places and will prevent me from being disappointed when one closes.

Just because I always ask this question - I will tell you what I had for dinner: New York strip steak, mashed Yukon potatoes, carmelized onion and Mizuna salad. I saved half of my steak and had Cocoa Buttermilk Cake with ganache, whipped cream and candied peanuts. Delicious!

Quiet Time

Usually we hear people refer to this as the time they spend on their Bible reading, in prayer and generally in time alone with God. While I love this also, it has come to mean even more around our house lately.

Several of you have inquired about what it is like having three and one thing I've learned quickly is to guard nap time! Using this time to answer the phone or entertain visitors just wasn't working for me. So, this idea was born.

I recorded a message on our answering machine stating that if the call was between noon and 3pm, we were having Quiet Time and would return their call as soon as possible.

I made this sign for the front door (sorry for the glare - you can click to enlarge and read what it says):

Another thing it means is that Emily has some quiet time before she goes down for her nap. Rachel goes down right after lunch as it wasn't working for them to go down at the same time. It became party time!

I have been trying to set the timer for 10 minutes and have Emily spend that time alone looking at books quietly. After the timer goes off, I sit down with her and read two books and we review her Bible verses. We've not done this consistently yet - but have successfully done it the past two days.

Ahh - Quiet Time is definitely working for our home!

Making Your Home A Haven

You know I love this feature over on Crystal's blog! But, I wasn't able to get this project done until today. I join with Crystal in saying that I can't believe I'm posting this photo - but in an effort to be real and have the accountability of doing it, I did take before and after pictures.

Yes, this is my closet. Here is the before:

And, now it looks like this:

I ended up with one bag of trash, two bags of things to donate to the thrift store, wrapped some gifts, hung up clothes and put things away where they went (imagine that). Yes, this makes my home more of a haven!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Happy Anniversary, David ~ I love you!

For our anniversary, we have always gone to the same restaurant - but just found out recently that it is now closed! So, we're starting a new tradition this year. I don't know what it is yet - but will share when I find out!

Also, you've all been so curious as to what my anniversary gift is...David always gives me something that fits with the traditional anniversary gift. Number four is flowers - and I get to pick out some new hydrangeas for our yard! We tried to get them earlier this week, but they are not available yet!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Clean Heart - Part Ten

While it has been a long time since I posted about this topic ~ I have certainly been thinking a lot about it and journaling a lot. So, I have lots more to share on this from what I'm learning/processing on this lately.

I came up with a series of questions to ask myself and to really discern areas that need cleaning. So, I will post one question at a time with what I journaled about it and any actions I hope to pursue to work on these areas.

Here's the first one:

Does my life reflect a clean heart?

Overall, if someone on the outside looking in were to answer this question for me they would probably say, "yes." But, those who are closest to me would likely agree that there are some areas that could use a good cleansing. It reminds me of the verses that describe washing the outside but the inside being filthy and also of 1 Peter 3 speaking about our inner beauty.

So, I guess this invites another question - who is it I really want to be clean for? Those around me, myself, or my Heavenly Father? Ouch. What truly are my motives?

It seems safe to say that as believers, we likely always have areas in our lives that are clean and pure. We also have areas we may struggle on and off with fairly consistently and then we likely have areas we may struggle with only once or twice in a lifetime. It is a good reminder to me that the areas I need to work on are not the same as my neighbors areas and I would be wise not to be judgmental of them since they don't know every detail about me either.

Thought: Jesus is the true example of a clean heart. So when I say, "Does my life reflect a clean heart?" I could also be asking, "Does my life reflect Jesus?"

In comparison with the worldliness around me - I could honestly say, yes - I think it does. But in comparison with who Jesus is - oh, I see so much need for growth and change. And, it is He, after all, I want and need to be clean for.

Lord, in light of the sparkling beauty of Your purity and clean heart - please cultivate a desire in me to emulate this, to allow You to cleanse me and fix my eyes on You and what You think of me rather than on others and their thoughts which hold no eternal value. Now as I consider specific areas - please shine Your light into the corners that are dusty and dirty and let it be Your hand that controls the broom needed to clean them out. Thank You - Amen.

Does your life reflect a clean heart?

It's That Time Again!

Big Beef and Juliet Tomato seeds were started over the weekend!

Monday, February 18, 2008


Well, I am officially out of posts that I had ready before Samuel was born! So, I may be a bit sporadic this week as we are now on our own with my Mom going home yesterday. And, we are in for an adjustment with three little ones age three and under!!

First, here is a picture that I included in his baby announcement:

Here is the announcement I made:

I included a card that explained what his name means and why we chose it:

Samuel means name of God or God has heard. We pray that he would be like Samuel in the Bible who knew God and listened to and obeyed His voice. David's grandfather was also named Samuel.

"And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with men." 1 Samuel 2: 26

Joseph means He will enlarge or He will add. My dad's middle name is Joseph and his dad's name was also Joseph. Our prayer is that God would enlarge and add to his ministry and opportunity to reach others for His Kingdom. Also, that he would be a faithful witness to the next generation of God's love and faithfulness in his life.
"Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness." 2 Corinthians 9:10
Look at these cute flowers we received from a coworker of David's, can you see that the milk bottles say, "bundle of joy" - so cute:

Yesterday was our first time at church all together as a family in a long time due to bed rest and sickness:

Thank you, Grammie, for coming to help and take such good care of me and my family!


So, I did finish my puzzle before Wednesday - our anniversary! Did you notice that the very middle piece was shaped like a heart?!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Our Valentine's Day

We started out our special day with chocolate pancakes! I thought they were very yummy, but the girls really liked the whipped cream the best (big surprise), eventually we drizzled a little regular syrup on their and that helped a little bit!

I made these to decorate our table with Valentine M&M's and red candles:

Then, we had some friends over to play and colored Valentine pictures. Lunch was heart-shaped sandwiches and decorating sugar cookies!

While the little ladies napped, my Mom and I watched You've Got Mail! When they woke up, we had a tea party ready for them. We served Little Debbie heart cakes and water for "tea":

Then, we finished off our heart-day with a heart shaped pizza! I trimmed the pepperoni into heart shapes for a garnish on the top! After dinner, we decorated more sugar cookies!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine Round-Up

Ah - so this is what I get for letting my hubby know how to get into my blog to post this! Just kidding, it's fine - yes, he has a great sense of humor as you've all figured out by now. So, onto my post for today...

If you're looking for a list of all Valentine ideas I've shared in the past and recently, I thought I'd combine them into one post to find them quickly.

Homemade Valentines 2006
Homemade Valentines 2007
Valentine Breakfast (and cute frosted brownies!)
Bless Your Husband Valentine
Heart Garland
Flower Lollipop Valentine
Be Mine "Wheel"
Valentine Picnic
Valentine Hearts
More Valentine Fun
Chocolate Heart Pancakes
Valentine Wreath
Valentine Tree
Bottle Valentine
Valentine Napkin Rings
Love and Marriage Tea

While we are still talking Valentine's Day - I got an e-mail from Matthew Mead regarding the Valentine Tree:

Thanks for working hard to make this project... it is beautiful and I really admire your finished product. Happy Valentine's Day... Best, Matthew Mead

Isn't that exciting!?!

Thanks to all who have inquired about baby Samuel - we are doing well, still getting into a new routine and enjoying the time while my Mom is here. I'll look forward to catching up more next week. I've just been posting things I already had ready!

Happy Valentine's Day, friends!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Monica's Valentine Day Surprise

*Interloper Happy Husband here...

I am pretty sure that Monica will forgive me for hijacking her blog for this. After all I did something crafty for her! [I'm sorry. It's my fault. Will you forgive me? I love you!]

Well, this is my gift to Monica this year. If she can post a picture of it completed by next Wednesday she can have her wedding anniversary gift.

And I believe this is where she usually tells you how she did it. (Sorry, I am new at this and did not do step by step photos like she does so well...)

On a recent trip out of town I hit Monica's most favorite store in the universe...HOBBY LOBBY! I got her some fancy stationary that was on sale, but unbeknown to her I got a little extra and hid it away. Muhahahaha! [<---maniacal laughter befitting an Evil Genius for a Better Tomorrow]

I used spray adhesive to secure it to the some matting board cut to fit (thanks to Grandma for the help! Otherwise it would have turned out to be quite an irregular "square").

I had originally planned on doing a very nifty squiggly jig-saw pattern, but QUICKLY realized that it is MOST difficult to cut curvy lines with a cheapo exacto knife. I had to settle for irregular straight cuts. Which probably is for the best anyways knowing how "exact" I am with measuring and cutting.

And here ya'll see the finished pieces all ready to be put together!

A little hint Babe...Hrrrm. On second thought, ask me if you get really stuck :)

Chocolate Heart Pancakes

I made these the other day and froze them - we'll be enjoying them for breakfast tomorrow morning! The recipe came from here, but I added more flour as these were so runny that the batter ran out of the heart shaped mold.

1 1/4 c. flour
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. milk
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

Whisk all ingredients together and cook in a hot skillet.

I'm planning to serve ours with melted raspberry preserves, whipped cream and extra mini chips! Yummy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bottle Valentine

Here is another idea featured in the February Country Home magazine. Use an empty bottle and cork to create a "message in a bottle" valentine! I put paper hearts in first (punched out with a heart shape hole punch) and then wrote my note on a piece of parchment looking paper. I rolled it up and tied it with a bow. I left one end of the bow really long to draw it out through the top so the note isn't too hard to get out. Put a cork in and tie a tag on the outside! This will be David's surprise Valentine at work this year!

Monday, February 11, 2008

More Valentine Fun!

I have just a few more Valentine ideas to share early this week! Pulling from what we did last year still, I made sugar cookies and cut out enough for each of the kids to have their own tray to decorate! They each got to take some home as well!

After this, they colored on the "tablecloth" and got it all decorated for dinner! (I guess I forgot to take an "after" photo!) I also had some coloring pages printed out for the kids to make pictures for their Mom!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Recipe Exchange

Carrie is hosting a recipe exchange - I have a request up for the ideal chocolate chip cookie! Please leave a link to your favorite recipe in the comments here (or type out the recipe if you're willing!) and make sure to visit Carrie's blog to share recipes with others! Thanks!

Valentine Hearts

I don't get these out every year because they do get tangled up sometimes, but I love how they look dangling over the table from the chandelier.

I made these several years ago and they have held up quite well! I was inspired by this article which includes all the directions for making your own!

I did used to hang them in the window so the light could shine through, but they look just as neat hanging in other places!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Valentine Tree

I'm not sure if any of you saw this idea in the February Country Home, but I thought it was so cute, I immediately knew I wanted to try and make one. I continue to be a big fan of Matthew Mead's ideas and style and this project was just another example!

I will say that this project required more improvising than lots of crafts I've tried and there were many comments on the above link saying similar things. My biggest problem was that we don't have a color printer, so I just wasn't satisfied with the download quality. So, I will share with you what I did to sort of re-create the same project.

Supplies I used:
Unfinished wood 10 inch oval plaque
Pale yellow paint
Brown crayon
Steel wool
Cutting board
X-Acto Knife
Brown marker
1 piece of ivory cardstock
Mod-Podge glue
Staple Gun
Red Felt

First, I painted the plaque a pale yellow (simply because I already had this paint and didn't want to purchase the off-white he suggested). It looked too new to me, so I wanted to age it somehow. I had lots of ideas, but the one I settled on was to rub it all over with a brown crayon (paper peeled off). After rubbing with crayon, rub with steel wool to desired "distressed" look. Here's how mine looked after this step:

Next, I needed some way to get script as the background. I didn't have any script scrapbook paper, no color printer and no access to a store that would have the appropriate paper. So, I decided to handwrite it myself. I wrote 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a over and over until I filled the entire plaque with a skinny brown marker. Note: I realized after I had finished this that my marker was washable, so I had to use a polyurethane spray over top to keep it from smearing. Here is how it looked after all this:

After this, I cut out the pattern, found here, using an x-acto knife. I used off-white card stock to make the tree. Then, I used Mod Podge to attach the tree to the plaque. After this dried, I cut out red felt hearts and glued them on by brushing Mod Podge onto the back. I haven't had good success with glue drying nicely on felt, but this worked great. Note on downloading the pattern: if you save the image to your computer and then open in Word, you can resize it to fit the plaque you have. I could not find a 14" plaque, so mine is 10".

When this was finished, I used a staple gun to attach a ribbon to the back and made a bow to hang the finished product from. I added a button over the nail to hide the head and here is the final outcome:

I like this so much, I may just leave it up past Valentine's Day! I've thought of several ways a tree can be paralleled to love in our lives. It grows, it reminds me of the tree that Jesus died on for our sins, it has seasons, etc...

What thoughts come to mind for you?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Valentine Wreath

While I was lying around on the couch, I had this idea come to mind and my Mom helped by bringing the heart form and ribbon! I had it finished not too long after she unpacked it from her suitcase!

Supplies Needed:
1 - styrofoam heart shaped wreath form
2 inch strips of desired fabric
small straight pins

Start by pinning the fabric behind the point of the top of the heart.

Pull fabric underneath to one side of the point.

Pull firmly across as in an L-shape.

Bring up on the other side of the point and continue wrapping around wreath. Repeat this when you get to the point at the bottom - though, you'll want to wrap around the point first and then do the L-shape wrap.

When each strip of fabric is finished, simply pin to the form. If it finishes on the front, pin the next piece over it onto the back and cover the pins.

Fold over a small "hem" on a piece of ribbon and pin at an angle on one side of the top of the heart. Repeat on the other side making sure they are as even as possible.

Knot two pieces together to hang at desired length.

Start a bow by folding one loop.

Fold next loop to the other side. Repeat for desired number of loops.

Lay on top of knot and use ends to attach bow to the knot.

Hang and enjoy!