Monday, November 30, 2009

Home: Tidy

Good morning! I'm ready to get started and I know that my home and heart will be so blessed from the effort I invest this week.

Today, I'll be focusing on clearing all the clutter! It is amazing to me how fast it accumulates! It seems that I work and work to clear clutter and then it appears again in no time! But, our homes are so hard to clean when there are piles and things out of place. So, this is a great place to start.

Here is my list for today (and it is a very ambitious one):

Quiet Time
Assign chores to little ladies, tie on an apron
Start load of sheets
Girls morning chores
Set mashed banana out of freezer
School time
Snack/Switch laundry
Put folded laundry away
Littles play outside, me - tidy
Garlands ready to mail (for paid orders)
Cut strips of paper for paper chains to make tomorrow
Tidy, tidy, tidy! Areas I want to work on are my dining room table, counters, Christmas decoration boxes and the top of the washer and dryer.
Make banana bread
Ladies to ballet
Dinner: Leftovers
Sewing Night at a friends' house (working on Christmas pj's)

And, just to show you how much I need to do this - I ashamedly present my clutter. Now, all of you who thought I was good at keeping house will know that this is not true!

Ok, tell me about your day! What is on your agenda? What are you fixing for dinner? I'm not planning to do the Mr. Linky this week just because it takes so much time, so let's just chat about all of this in the comments! I'll share my progress and pix tomorrow morning!

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Thank you so much to all who have ordered garlands - I have been busy cutting and creating the garlands! Kendra graciously ordered two and is offering one up as a giveaway on her blog - head on over to enter!

And, have you seen the beautiful quilts that Marie-Madeline is giving away?! I can easily envision tea parties on those quilts and would love to win one! I am excited to show you the skirts I made from their Gracie Ruffle Skirt pattern - will post that very soon!

Last, don't forget to join us tomorrow as we'll be focusing on our homes and being ladies of wisdom. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tea Wallet Winners!

Chosen by random number generator: Lisa!

The second winner - I chose, Mrs. Pear - here was her comment:

"My MIL definitely needs this!

Plus, she is coming down for Christmas to visit and is staying while our 4 year old has open heart surgery in January so that she can care for our 1 year old.

So she is definitely deserving of a treat. "
Thanks so much for participating in our giveaway - and thanks to Megan for the great tea wallets!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Ok, I know that is not a word - but it is a word I use! Here are a bunch of random things to share today:

* Carrie and I worked together on this post about helping those who are going through the loss of a loved one.

* We made these super cute pumpkins today - these are super easy and look great hanging in our dining room!

* I really like these - spotted at Holy Experience. I ordered a set and hope to start a tradition of filling them throughout the Fall with things we are giving thanks for! (Use coupon code: INTHANKS for a 25% discount, thank you Ann!)

* I'm planning to make these with the girls Thursday morning!

* Our open house idea has fallen through as all the officer's have plans - and while I'm disappointed, I'm looking forward to a day at home with my family!

* Looking forward to Thanksgiving leftovers - I've been wanting to try: (both from Taste of Home)

Turkey Focaccia Club

Cranberry Pecan Mayo:
1/2 c. mayo
1/2 c. cranberry sauce
2 Tbsp. Dijon
2 Tbsp. roasted pecans
1 Tbsp. honey

Combine in a small bowl.

1 loaf (8 oz.) focaccia bread
Thinly sliced cooked turkey
Sliced cheese
Bacon strips, cooked

Cut bread in half horizontally; spread with mayo and layer other ingredients! Cut into wedges.

Skillet Shepherd's Pie

1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. water
1 envelope taco seasoning (I use Amy's recipe)
2 c. shredded cheddar, divided
3 c. leftover mashed potatoes, warmed

In a large ovenproof skillet, cook the beef, onion and garlic over med. heat. Stir in water and taco seasoning. Stir in 1 c. cheese.

combine potatoes and remaining cheese. Spread over beef. Broil 4-6 inches from heat for 5-6 minutes or until golden brown.

* One last thing - Emily received these cute plates for one of her birthdays and Rachel is always asking for "Rachel" plates! I know these came from Home Goods - but haven't seen them there in recent months. Does anyone know where I could find some that say "Rachel" - I see places on-line where you can order personalized plates, but I'm not willing to pay $24 for one plate!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Lady Wisdom: Home

" The wise woman builds her home,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down."
~ Proverbs 14:1 ~

I read this verse the other day, and noticed the date 11-14-08 in the margin. I like to date verses when they are especially meaningful to me and this just clicked over one year from when I'd written it.

I remember that week! We were just finishing up a week of Make Your Home a Haven - some of my favorite weeks have been those weeks. And, it seems like the past couple of years, there has been a Haven week around Thanksgiving or Christmas.

We are right in the middle of that timing and I just have the itch to do it again! Being focused on creating a home as a wise woman brings depth to my days, helps me plan better and really the days become sweet memories and sweet times in our home.

After I read the above verse, I looked it up in The Message:

"Lady Wisdom builds a lovely home ..."

Oooh - I like that! After that, I looked up how many other times the words "Lady Wisdom" appear in Proverbs. Nine other times! I'm eager to begin studying them and seeing how to be like Lady Wisdom.

But, first on my heart is to build a lovely home. For my family, for myself, for others and for God. I'll be using the same format I did last Fall:

Cared For
Inviting & Giving

This feels like a perfect time to focus on getting things settled in our homes so we can settle our hearts and enjoy this wondrous season of celebrating Jesus' birth! Another thought on my heart is seeking quietness in December - focusing on these things early on will help bring focus and peace to my heart and home!

Won't you join me, ladies of wisdom - in creating lovely homes? We'll start Monday! In the meantime, have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Tea wallet winners will be announced tomorrow!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tea Wallets & a Giveaway!

Remember, the tea wallets my real-life friend, Megan made last year? She's at it again and has a few other cute goodies available as well!

Last year I gave the tea wallets as nursery gifts! I'm pleased to support her craftiness and thought some of you might be interested too! I think they are very reasonably priced at $7.50 each including tea and shipping!

This year, she also has cute zippy bags, crayon rolls and verse card holders. You can see all her crafty goodness here.

Meanwhile, wouldn't it be fun to have a giveaway?! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by Tuesday night (November 24th).

Two winners will be drawn and announced on Wednesday. Each winner will receive a tea wallet and Megan will even let you choose your own fabric from the tea wallets she has made up at the time! Easy and fun!

Leave a comment to enter the giveaway and head over to Megan's for ordering info!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving: A Time to be Thankful

Wow, it has been a fun week following this series! And, I feel like I get the fun part of sharing about decoration ideas and traditions! As I began to think about this, I thought a good first place to start was in preparing our hearts for thankfulness. How can I communicate that to my children? How do I instill a grateful heart, when our human nature urges us to want more or better?

One of my favorite books for young children on thankfulness is Count Your Blessings. Little Bear and his mama count through his days all the things he has to be thankful for. I decided it would be fun for my girls to make their own book counting things they are thankful for.

I am planning to do this with my girls: look around for things we are thankful for - one thing, two things, etc... all the way to ten. We will take pictures, print them out and make a little book out of them. It would also be fun to make them into coloring pages for them to decorate! Try this site using this code (PR24QCHT) to create these! (Thanks, Carrie!)

Another thing we do every November, is something my Mom started when we were growing up. I've shared about this on my blog before - but since it is a tradition, it is worth sharing again! My Mom would make a chart that had all the letters of the alphabet down one side and, during the month of November, we would write things next to that letter we were thankful for that started with that letter.

I've created a table in Word that can just be printed, cut out and taped into one long strip, and have continued this tradition every year in my home as well. Click on the pages to enlarge and print if you are interested in doing this in your home.

After we have begun creating a mindset and heart of thankfulness in ourselves, the next thought that comes to me is how can we reach out to others. During big holidays like this, there are many who are overlooked. Many who do not think this is a happy time or maybe feel like they don't have anything to be thankful for.

I remember in my late teen years and then when I was single, going to a soup kitchen to help serve Thanksgiving dinner. I have tried locating something like that where I live, but haven't been successful at finding a place seeking help.

When that happens, it forces us to be creative doesn't it? I want my children to remember reaching out to others for as long as they can remember. I don't necessarily think that they aren't old enough to start learning now.

Now, lots of you know that my husband is a police officer. And, when I asked his advice about this dilemma, he suggested that we offer to have an open house on Thanksgiving afternoon to allow the officers working that day a chance to come by and have a warm and tasty meal. I love that idea!

I can certainly remember the days when it was my husband who was having to work on holidays and I appreciate the service of these men and women to our community. We usually eat our family dinner in the evening anyway, so it works great for us to make the meals available in the afternoon. We just found out they are going to take us up on this and I'm planning to have my girls draw pictures to present to each officer as well to help include them in the opportunity.

Of course, each family will have to think of what would suit their situation, family size, age of children, etc... But, here are a few ideas to get you going:

* Check with your local police or fire stations to find out about serving those who are faithfully serving your community.
* Call Meals on Wheels and volunteer to deliver meals on Thanksgiving Day to give regular volunteers a day off with their families.
* Find a local Soup Kitchen or Salvation Army that is serving dinner and volunteer.
* Check with your local hospital, children's hospital or nursing home to find out how you could help there.
* Call a children's or women's shelter and inquire about serving.

This is just a small sample of ideas we could check into. The main thing is how we present it to our children.

One other thought on reaching out is something we do every year as well! This is another one I mentioned last year, which is the Thankful for You Breakfast tradition. Each year, I make and deliver a special Thanksgiving breakfast to someone who has been a blessing to me or our family during the previous year as a way of saying we are thankful for them. You can read more about this idea and find recipes here.

Now that we have prepared thankful hearts and actually reached out and served others, let's talk about our own table and how to make it special.

I am one of those people who likes to think of something new and different every year, something that makes the table special and beautiful. Here are the things I'm planing this year:

I started with a simple piece of burlap as a table runner! Next, add your dishes ~ napkins, silverware and glasses to make sure you have enough room for the important things!

Now, comes the fun part! Look around and find a pitcher, pot, anything that you like for the centerpiece. I tied a ribbon around mine and an old pocket watch to tie in with the idea of a "Time to be Thankful" ~ now, go outside and find some limbs: your choice! Either with leaves on or off, whatever you think looks pretty. Provide markers to have guests write things on the leaves they are thankful for!

The pumpkins have been on my porch decorating for Fall out there. After Thanksgiving, I will cook and puree them for making pies.

Create place cards! I used old spice and perfume bottles here and filled them with pumpkin pods and corn. Gather some sticks from your yard and cut out scrapbook paper - top with a photo of the guest and there you have it!

I am Thankful For cards: Having just gone through a family loss - it reminds me that often we aren't practiced at sharing with those close to us why we are thankful for them or love them. Why not take the opportunity to share while we can!?

Another fun idea would be to learn a hymn together as a family. Memorize a special passage of Scripture, study about the first Thanksgiving, there are so many things you can incorporate!

I've had fun sharing about our Thanksgiving traditions and would love to hear yours as well! Don't forget to link up your Thanksgiving ideas tomorrow at Crystal's and thanks so much for joining all of us this week for this Thanksgiving series!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Handcrafted Christmas: Ice Skates!

How about repurposing something you may have sitting around or have found at a thrift shop? I found a pair of ice skates in a local thrift shop and then was given two more pair recently! What fun!

Here's what I did with them ~

For my friend Grace (I'm mailing them today!) ~

For my home ~

This pair is for sale ~$10 (SOLD!), going to the first person who says they are interested. I'll be able to calculate shipping once I have your zip code. You can either comment or send me an e-mail if you are interested.

Cheery red ribbon has replaced the laces, sparkly green snowflakes dangle from each skate and a cute Merry Christmas tag hangs at the top! These would look great hanging on a sled on your porch, added to some fresh greens or leaning near a cozy fireplace!

What is your favorite item to repurpose into a Christmas decoration?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sarah's Choice

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to watch a movie called Sarah's Choice which was released on DVD yesterday.

Sarah's Choice is the story of Sarah Collins (Rebecca St. James) who is on the rise in her career and doing just fine without God in her life. But, all that changes when she finds out she is pregnant, not married, probably not qualified for her job promotion and unsure of what to do.

This movie follows the journey of her heart as she struggles with what will happen now, which way should she choose - should she consider an abortion? How would she ever be able to care for a child on her own? Why does her mother always disapprove? Why would God care, it doesn't seem like He has before?

I really liked the movie - it seemed to me to be a realistic picture of the struggles that could be inside an unwed mother's head and heart. And, I saw a realistic picture of the judgment some of them must feel from Believers.

I saw how those around the mother can really influence her - for good or bad. Some will just tell her what they think she wants to hear, some will pressure her into a choice to accomplish her goals, and some will be willing to speak truth. What kind of person will I be?

A powerful addition to the movie would have been the inclusion of Sarah having an ultrasound or hearing the baby's heartbeat and showing the life already inside her. While they mention the baby is alive in talk - it would have been powerful to see as well.

As with anything, not all of us will agree with every detail of the movie - but I am looking at the overall picture and possibility for impact. And, I think on both accounts - this movie has the power to encourage and challenge.

This movie strikes me as a great tool - one that will be useful to me as a mother in training my own children. It could provide a great resource to recommend to a friend or acquaintance who might be undecided in an unplanned pregnancy. And, I'm sure it will be a valuable tool for local women's centers.

I am very interested in collecting movies for our home that focus on applying God's truth in our lives. Movies that show a journey of coming to God, drawing closer to Him, crying out to Him and eventually show a change of heart are at the top of my list. This study guide would be a great addition to watching and discussing the movie.

When I see a changed life, it invites introspection on my part - what do I need to change? What things am I facing that are difficult? How can I be a witness to those around me of a changed life?

Sarah's Choice is a movie I would be pleased to share with my young adult children someday. This is the kind of movie I am excited about and encouraged by. And, this is the kind of movie that I think God can really use in not only encouraging those of us who love Him, but also as a tool to draw others to Himself. I hope you will get a chance to enjoy this great movie as well! You can watch the trailer here ~

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Noel Swap!

It's swap show and tell time! I don't want to show what I sent yet, because I'm not sure if it has made its way to Nova Scotia!

Ellie was my partner and I thought it was so charming that she sent my box from a small fishing village in Nova Scotia!

Goodies included were:

* Delicious looking hot cocoa and homemade marshmallows - yum!
* NOEL sign (also a picture frame!)
* metal cookie cutters - love those!
* homemade dish cloths
* winter scene pot holders
* yummy tarts and a blueberry votive
* a Christmas skit book
* primitive ice skates magnet
* rusty jingle bell - love this!
* Angel chime

Thank you, Ellie for such a fun box of goodies! And, to all the swappers for participating in the Noel swap! You can see more swap show and tell here!

Help - vote for your favorite!

We're having our family Christmas photo taken Saturday and I'm still undecided about what to wear with my skirt! HELP!

Do you vote for white -

or black -
Or neither? Pick something else?! I need help deciding - I've tried on a bunch of combinations tonight and am having trouble deciding.


I have an order for one of the Names of Jesus Christmas garlands. While I'm at it - is anyone else interested in ordering one this year?

Garlands are $8.00 plus 0.75 shipping. I will accept orders until Friday morning at 8 a.m. Eastern Time.


Patterned papers are topped with names of Jesus and laminated.

All circles are tied to a ribbon creating a wonderful garland praising the One we celebrate at Christmas! Nine circles in all saying: Oh, come, let us adore Him; Wonderful Counselor; Mighty God; Everlasting Father; Prince of Peace; Jesus; Emmanuel; Son of the Most High; Glory to God in the highest.

Garland measures approximately 60 inches in length and has loose ends to the ribbon so you can tie to the appropriate length.

Note: paper choices and ribbon will vary

I made lots and lots of these last year, so hope all of you will enjoy pulling yours out this Christmas!


I've seen this wonderful idea linked a couple of places - and knew immediately I wanted to make one! Here's how mine turned out - I couldn't find a foam wreath, so cut out a circle from a Fed Ex box that came in my mail! Some hot glue and a recycled song book - and there you have it!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thanksgiving is coming!

You are all cordially invited to a Thanksgiving Progressive Dinner - blog style! Each day this week, a different blog will be hosting "dinner" with all kinds of ideas for your family Thanksgiving! There will be table ideas, presentation ideas, traditions and yummy recipes!

We're starting out at Crystal's today with our next stop tomorrow at Amy's! Then, Wednesday we're off to Jessica's, Erin's on Thursday and back here on Friday! Saturday we'll finish everything up back at Crystal's with a big Mr. Linky list of all kinds of Thanksgiving ideas - make sure to stop by and link up your idea as well!

All of us ladies have been working on this via e-mail for quite some time and I'm excited to see it all come together this week! One of us is hosting each day this week - so make sure to stop by each blog for all the Thanksgiving fun! Enjoy!

Black Bean Soup

Here's a concoction that was born out of using up what was in our fridge plus a little of what was in our pantry!

4 Tbsp. butter
1/3 c. onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 can chicken broth
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 c. cooked chicken, cubed
1 c. shredded cheese (I used Mexican Blend)
4 oz. sour cream (about 1/2 c.)
1 c. milk
2 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled

Melt butter in a sauce pan. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is tender. Stir in flour until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slowly whisk in chicken broth. Stir in corn, beans, chicken and cheese. Add sour cream and milk. Cook until heated through - stir in bacon crumbles and serve! We had ours with grilled cheese on homemade bread - yummy!

Serves 2 adults and 3 children for 2 meals!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mini Memo Book

While making the Gratitude Wraps - I was on the lookout for a cute notebook to slide into one of the pockets. Instead, I bought this very inexpensive memo book and made it cute myself. Here is how to pretty up a little book for your Gratitude Wraps!

Start with one mini memo book. I found mine at Wal-Mart, but you can usually get them on sale at Walgreens or somewhere comparable for 3/$1!

Use packing tape to adhere ribbon to the notebook. One piece on front and one on back. When you are finished, you'll be able to tie these to close your little book.

Lay your book out on a piece of scrapbook paper and cut to fit.

I cut mine in two pieces - but I think using one piece would work just as well. Attach paper to book covers using a glue stick.

Cut a piece of book binding tape. I'm sure you could use other kinds of tape for this - I just have a bunch of this left from the envelope books I made.

I didn't want my tape to be so white - so grabbed a marker and colored it real quick!

Press the tape onto the spine of your book.

Tie a bow!

Embellish as desired.

Slide into your wrap and give a great gift!