12.30.2012

Sunday Recap!

Where do I even begin on this Sunday Recap? So many things happening...so here you go!

{The girls on Christmas Eve- this face is fitting for Milly- she is such an ornery girl- in the most delightful way!}

{Our little fam on Christmas eve- I dont just LOVE this picture- but it is literally the ONLY one we have of us from Christmas!}

{I am VERY proud of these little numbers- Dave's family has passed this shortbread recipe down through generations and since my Mother-in-law passed away, it is up to us to keep it going- this was my first stab! NOW...it is supposed to be passed down through the men making them- however in an effort to get them done 1) quickly 2) without a huge mess and 3) successfully...I made them THIS TIME!}

 {I snapped this- just out of bed and walking downstairs to spy Santa's loot!} 

{It was a musical instrument Christmas- flute, trumpet, bongos, saxophone, drums, guitar, recorders AND the band in a box for Milly! Our house is LOUD!}

{My mom had Pneumonia for the 5 or so days leading up to Christmas- so we were extremely blessed they got to come over for Christmas morning!}

{First performance on the stage! Ellie's godparents gave them the drums, guitar and bongos-They are WAY better than Santa at gifts!!! We are so blessed!}

{I saw this several times on Christmas (well...every day) Ellie just scoops Milly up and shows her hot to work the toys- it is adorable!}

{This is the perfect shot of Milly- totally oblivious to the gift opening- just playing with a toy we have had for several years and content doing so!}

{All is better when Daddy is home- I am going to be in FULL mourning when he goes back to 60+hours a week! When he leaves Milly just crawls around the house yelling.."DAD" we will all have to adjust!"}

{The girls got to purchase a gift for each other- love their wrapping and the heart they put into the gifts!}


{Papa stayed with us for 6 days- in town from AZ- he has early stages of Alzheimer's so we felt really blessed that he got to travel here! The girls LOVE him!}

{Of course...Santa was good to me too! (you always get exactly what you want when you go to the store, try on clothing and place it on hold under your spouses name- then tell your spouse that they have a 24 hour hold policy!! These are my Baldwin Camos- Just me and Jay Z...rockin' the Baldwin Camo!}

{I also got the Baldwin Andi- Boyfriend jeans- I LOVE them...can you tell I have been pregnant or recovering from pregnant for a long time..I needed pants in a serious way!}


Moving on from Christmas!

{I dont know if your Baby's R Us has this deal, but all of the Gerber Organic and Plum packets are 20 for $20- that is for sure the cheapest I have found them! I was at Target earlier and they have them for $1.75 each- so- hit up B.R.U if you are in the "packet phase"- this is my pantry below- we are stocked!}

{We successfully memorized our verse in Luke- now we have moved on to this one (on our garage chalk wall below) in Joshua- you are welcome to join us!}

Thats a "wrap"...HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! 2013 is going to be DELIGHTFUL!!!!!!!!

12.26.2012

A BEAUTIFUL Lesson!

I had something happen this weekend and it was a HUGE teaching moment for me. Frankly, it broke my whole heart! As I was thinking, "I wish I could undo that" I thought, well, maybe some of you can learn from my mistake!
I have never really noticed it before but I use the words "I look horrible" a lot. It is not even something I really think about- but if I have unwashed hair or no make up on, etc.. I am known to just throw that out there- "man, I look horrible". If there is a bad picture of me, I am really quick to say "I look horrible in that picture". Or if I am at the girls school with a hat on and someone says, "Jenica, you look darling in that hat" I immediately respond with "I look horrible". I think in an effort to be humble I do not receive compliments gracefully. Why is it so bad to just say "thank you"? Anyway, we were chatting this weekend and Dave told Ellie she looked pretty..and she responded "oh dad, I look horrible"- WHAT!!! I said, "Ellie please dont say that, you are beautiful always!" and she said "well, I haven't showered and I just look horrible". It just about ripped my heart out on the spot. She has heard me say that 1000 times and that has taught her that if she hasn't showered or gotten ready she "looks horrible". Let me tell you something, I am going to change my ways IMMEDIATELY! Thank God for his grace and showing me this while they are still young- I feel like I can use it as a teachable moment for her and for me.
I have always heard people give the advice- tell little girls they are smart, talented, etc.. first before stressing that they are so pretty, beautiful, etc.. (we have all read the article HERE) I always read that and think- why can't we tell them all of that? We live in a world where they will get ripped down in every way (even the most beautiful by the world's standards get ripped apart by people- have you seen celebrity magazines? It is horrible)- why cant we build our kids up in every way at home? God did make them beautiful and his handiwork is GORGEOUS! I don't mind telling them that! Of course we stress that what makes someone beautiful is Jesus shining through them- you can see it in the smile, in the sparkle in their eyes, etc.. But that they are absolutely beautiful because God knit them together perfectly AND he also gave them great talent and brains- they are fearfully and wonderfully made! So, the fact that I might have contradicted that teaching in any way with my words and actions- breaks my heart! It just further reminds me that we can "preach" all day long, but our actions and the way we live says more than a million "lessons taught". 
It is a tricky business, motherhood- instilling confidence, humility, positive self image, security...I am not perfect but Praise God..He is! I pray that if I fail at everything else- I will point them to THE ONLY ONE who will never fail them or let them down..Jesus Christ! 
Thanks for learning this lesson with me! Girlfriends..if you catch me saying I look horrible- call me out!

{I love this- I found it on THIS blog- "When you called me to be a Mama, You didn't ask for Perfection. But that with every breath, I'd point them to you."}



12.24.2012

Recipe Monday/Merry Christmas Eve: Baby Jesus Cupcakes

My cousin/friend Amy posted a picture of these darling baby Jesus cupcakes she made for her son's class and I just thought you needed to know about them- what a perfect "recipe monday" for Christmas Eve! Merry Christmas Eve! Thank you Amy!

Ingredients:
1 box cake mix - your choice of flavor
Cupcake liners - a must!
1 tub chocolate frosting
1 tub white frosting
Mini vanilla wafers
Chocolate graham crackers
Yellow sprinkles

Bake cupcakes and let cool. Frost the tops with chocolate frosting. Allow to sit for little bit so the frosting hardens a little on the top. Break up several graham crackers into quarters. Pour remaining chocolate frosting into a gallon-size ziplock bag and seal. Snip the bottom corner of the bag for frosting. Place two lines of frosting on either side of cupcake. Place two graham crackers lengthwise on top and angle them in to make the manger (see photo).

Now put the white frosting into a ziplock bag; seal and snip corner. At top of cupcake put white frosting creating some tips so as to make a "crown." Place mini vanilla wafer at an angle. Swirl white frosting down the center of the cupcake for the body.

Sprinkle yellow crystals on the crown and the end of the body (Jesus' toes).

This made 24 cupcakes.

Enjoy!
----------------

Amy

12.20.2012

It's Delightful: First Snow Day!

It is the first snow day of the year here- this will be the only time I sound excited about this fact and probably the only time I do a full post on snow! :) I just loved this day- the first day of snow and the first day of winter break- God orchestrated it perfectly! The only bummer was we were supposed to have our buddies over for a little: Christmas movie, Christmas cookie decorating, Christmas craft party- the roads were so bad that they couldn't come and Milly is a little sick girl- so it just didn't work! However...we did all of the above on our own. Here is our recap- such a fun day!

{This is what we woke up to- delightful as long as you don't have to drive...sorry Dave!}


{Of course, one of the best parts is the ambiance- I do love a good cozy ambiance- Christmas candle lit, Christmas music playing ALL day, Fire lit, cozy clothes on, coffee in hand all day long...perfect!}

{This started at 8am (with 40mph winds out there) can we go outside, please, can we go out...and on and on! So when Milly went down for her morning nap...we ventured out!}

{the gear...it takes forever to prepare- but we are warm as can be!}

{She has had it in her mind that she was going to tag me with a snow ball for weeks- don't think for one second I made that easy on her! :) }

{Her sister had the same idea!}

{"sledding" down the driveway!}

{The snow angels are a big deal!}




{Mama found the shovel- I am certain that if you don't ever hire anyone to do any house work- you do not need a gym- cleaning, shoveling snow, laundry, sweeping...all great work outs! I am sore from this "activity"!}

{pure joy!}


{We then came in and decorated our sugar cookies- Ellie is very thoughtful and creative with each cookie- on the other hand...}

{...Izzy likes to eat the icing and make the biggest mess possible!}

{Ellie's cookies!}

That was our day- I think we will go drive and look at Christmas lights tonight- I LOVE this time of year- I will be in mourning January 2! 

12.19.2012

Christmas Recap/Recipe

Here is a little recap of all of my Christmas info thus far..incase you missed it! 
1. Preparing Kids for Christmas
2. Gift ideas for the Techie
3. Home Gift Ideas
4. Christmas Music
5. These were my mother's day gift ideas- still good ideas Christmas
6. Even though these say Easter recipe- I will be making them for Christmas
7. Our favorite Veggie Tales Movies
8. Gifts for the Beauty Product Lover
9. Our favorite Christmas Soup
10. Candy Cane Sugar Cookies
11. The best tool for Christmas Morning
12. Christmas Movies


Since we skipped Recipe Monday- here is Dave's must have Christmas dessert- I already shared HERE- however for Christmas we use Peppermint Ice Cream! 


Buster Bar Dessert:
Topping: Mix and Boil on stove top for 8 minutes (constantly stir on the stove for the 8 minutes)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk (1- 12oz can)
- 1/2 cup margarine or butter (I use 1 stick of margarine)
- 2/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1 tsp vanilla
Allow mixture to cool *do NOT refridgerate

Crust:
- 1lb bag of Oreo's with filling- crushed (I tried double stuffed today- its all the same taste)
- 1/2 cup or 1 stick of melted margarine
*mix and press on bottom of 9x13 inch pan
CHILL

DIRECTIONS: 
- On chilled crust, put 1 layer of spanish peanuts (Dave does not like this step- so it is optional, good either way!)
- Add 1/2 gallon of your favorite ice cream **We use Peppermint for Christmas! (when you start cooking set the ice cream out of the freezer to soften- then slice and spread with a wooden spoon. *Dave likes vanilla bean ice cream and peppermint at Christmas time
- Finally, pour cooled chocolate mixture over the top and freeze until you serve.




12.17.2012

Preparing for CHRISTmas: Movies!

I thought you all might like to know about our favorite Christmas Movies (for the kids)! These movies never get old for the girls- they love them every year! Ellie (almost 6 years old) still loves watching Praise Baby Christmas! I am so grateful for that- she just sings at the top of her lungs to every sweet song! There are SO MANY Christmas movies- these are just our favorites! 


{NEW addition: Veggie Tales Merry Larry}




{Veggie Tales: The Ultimate Christmas Collection includes all of the good ones: "The VeggieTales Ultimate Christmas Collection features the entire Veggie Christmas catalog, including "The Toy that Saved Christmas," "The Star of Christmas," "Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving," "It's a Meaningful Life" and "The Little Drummer Boy!" Plus - this super duper Christmas collection also includes "Christmas Singalong Songs" DVD and a 25 Christmas Favorites CD!"}

{The Very First Noel; such a sweet movie about the wise men on their journey to meet Jesus! The voice of Andy Griffith- the girls love it!}

{Hermie and Friends: A Fruitcake Christmas - we love the Hermie movies- written by Max Lucado}

{You boy moms- look right past this..unless you have a girl on your shopping list! OF COURSE, we love Barbie Christmas Movies and Disney Princess Christmas: Barbie in a Christmas Carol, Barbie a Perfect Christmas, Barbie in the Nutcracker, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (we have not seen this one), Disney Princess: A Christmas of Enchantment}

{My husband loves this one- I am not a huge fan (they always use the word "stupid" which in the whole scheme of life isn't that horrible- I just don't love the way they talk to each other- but my husband LOVES these movies!!) Anyway- A Charlie Brown Christmas is a classic of course!}

{Elf...OH WAIT, that is my favorite :) How great is this movie? AND at the same time, how glad are we when they stop playing it on every station on TV for an entire month!}

{The girls love Santa Buddies- mainly for the cute puppies!}



Let me know what Christmas movies you like! Have I mentioned that I LOVE Christmas! 








12.15.2012

Genius!!!!

Ok- on a lighter note today- I need you to know about this! I went to a "my favorite things" party on Thursday and one of the girls brought this GENIUS item that YEAAAAA...I received!!! RUN to get one before Christmas- it is so cool! I found mine at Bed Bath and Beyond for $10 (and of course used my 20% coupon) Here is the Link on Amazon

{It is called "Open It"- it literally opens any package- those strange plastic packages that are impossible, zip ties, etc.. it also has a screw driver on one end, a little "knife" on the other and a bottle opener! I am so pumped about this :)!} 

12.14.2012

A Few Thoughts on This SAD Day 12.14.12

WOW- what a day! I have gone back and forth on posting this today- seems appropriate to just be silent and pray. It also seems appropriate to share what is on my heart and possibly offer a bit of peace for those of you who need to hear it. So here it is- if this can encourage you in any way or remind you of our Heavenly Father who LOVES us and created us- then here it is! 
I am not sure what to even say about the tragedies in Connecticut other than COME LORD JESUS! I am serious- my heart is just aching and crying out to him- to return, rule and reign on this earth! There will be freedom from all heartache, all pain, all evil, all disappointment, all failure- there is freedom with God through Jesus Christ. Here are a few points on my heart (you know I love BP (bullet points)!

  • God is good. (period)
  • The happenings of today break God's heart- he hates evil. 
Proverbs 6:16-19 (NIV)
There are six things the Lord hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
        haughty eyes,
        a lying tongue,
        hands that shed innocent blood,

        a heart that devises wicked schemes,
        feet that are quick to rush into evil,

        a false witness who pours out lies
        and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

  • There is good that can come from something like this- (as horrific as it is): a) it makes us long for God- for his righteousness, His peace, His glory b) we need to wake up to the fact that we are kicking God out of everything- our schools, our government- pray over your children's school- even if they say not to- pray fervently! Kicking God out and making everything accepting to everyone never works out- just read the Bible or look in a history book. We welcome you Lord...we NEED you! c) it can make us squeeze our babies a little tighter- appreciate the time we have with them and cherish the moments. Maybe we shouldn't be as concerned with mismatched clothes and more concerned with spending time and loving our children.
  • I already wrote my thoughts down on the fact that we are desensitizing our children to violence through movies/video games/TV, etc.. HERE -we really need to take a stand against violence with the things our children watch- reality and fiction are blurring more and more Let's STAND UP- Acts 18:9b “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent."
  • THIS is a great article about discussing the events with kids
  • I will NOT live in fear- I will not fear my child going to school, a theater, the mall, on an airplane, on a boat, in a car- I cling to HIS word alone and He tells me not to be afraid.  Jeremiah 29:11 says For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Even if our earthly bodies suffer- we will live in complete restoration and peace in eternity. 
  • Finally, join me in praying for the families and the community- The prayer "break my heart for what breaks Yours" is easy on this one- our hearts are BROKEN for those people- The Lord alone can bring them peace. Pray, keep praying for them- I cannot imagine the pain, the heartache, the terror, the loss- I cannot imagine. 
Here is some scripture to cling to- memorize- have your kids memorize- write on a wall...believe and trust in HIM who has never and will never let you down!                                                      
- John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. 

Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 
- Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
- Romand 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
- Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
- Psalm 91:4-8 He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.


I just received this email from Max Lucado- AMEN!!! 

A Christmas Prayer

from Max Lucado
-
 Dear Jesus,
It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.
These killings, Lord.  These children, Lord.  Innocence violated.  Raw evil demonstrated.
The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?
Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas.  But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty.  Dark with violence.
Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.
Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.
This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.
Hopefully,
Your Children





12.10.2012

Recipe Monday: Candy Cane Sugar Cookies

I needed to share what I did all weekend- as previously mentioned I work from home for a great company called Square One Interiors. My boss likes to make homemade baked goods for her clients for Christmas- she is so creative she does custom silver paint cans and fills them with an assortment of goodies. SO... I was in charge of the sugar cookie portion of the gift- 160 of them to be exact (that is 10 batches!)! I have made sugar cookies in the past- but I have never focused on making them pretty- slice and bake works fine for me! So after I offered to make the sugar cookies I had a little moment of panic- they have to 1 )look good 2) taste good  and 3) be able to stack in the cans without the icing getting ruined. I did some SERIOUS online research- and found this post: HERE. It is exactly what I needed- step by step instructions to making the perfect shapes! 
Here are the important points from her article:
- use superfine sugar or blend the sugar in the blender first 
- mix dry ingredients first, then add butter 1T at a time in the mixer, then other ingredients
- refrigerate balls ..then roll out.. then refrigerate.. then cut.. then bake
- bake for 10 minutes only- even if they dont look done- pull them out. They were so soft and delightful! 

I then researched the perfect icing- it needed to a) harden b) be pretty and shiny and c) taste good...really good! 

I found this recipe from HERE, however I changed it to this: 
Shiny/Hard/Yummy Cookie Icing: 
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1T milk (and added more until it was smooth)
1T Light corn syrup (I had to add more of this too to get the right consistency and "shine")
1/4t Almond Extract
1t Vanilla Extract (and added a bit more to taste)

Here is the Cookie Recipe I used suggested from THIS BLOG:

Perfect Cut-Out Sugar Cookies (Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)
Recipe says it will yield approximately 3 dozen cookies. I doubled the recipe & got 32 cookies with my cookie cutters. The amount of cookies will definitely depend on your cookie cutter sizes!
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup superfine sugar (just whipped 1 cup sugar in the food processor until it was blended and then measured out 3/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces & softened
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Whisk the flour, sugar, & salt together in a large bowl. Beat the butter into the flour mixture, one piece at a time using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, then continue to beat until the mixture looks crumbly and slightly wet, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the cream cheese & vanilla until he dough just begins to form large clumps, about thirty seconds.
Knead the dough in the large bowl by hand a few times until it forms a large, cohesive mass. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter, divide it in half, and apt into a two four inch disks. Wrap the disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until they begin to firm up, 20 to 30 minutes.
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375. Work with one disk at a time, roll out the dough to a 1/8″ thickness between two sheets of parchment paper. Slide the rolled dough and parchment onto a baking sheet & refrigerate again until firm.
Working with one
sheet of dough at a time cut out shapes using cookie cutters and lay on two parchment-lined baking sheets, spaced about 1″ apart. Bake the cookies until light golden brown, about ten minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for two minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely, about thirty minutes. When cooled, the cookies can be decorated as desired.

Here are a few pics of my "process": 


{My sister-in-law is a great cook and she taught me to always leave the butter out to get to soft instead of microwave- this is A LOT of butter!}


{This was my first time blending the sugar- they turned out great- so I will keep doing this!}

{This was a little trick I discovered after the 4th batch :) I draped a towel over the KitchenAid..since I did dry first and then butter- it helped with the "spray" of flour.}

{I MEAN...this is the first time I have ever made Sugar cookies where I could tell what shape the cookies were supposed to be- SUCCESS! They really were delightful!}

{I spent over 9 hours in the kitchen this weekend- most of which included looking down to this- they always need a LOT of snuggle time when we are busy dont they?!? How could I resist- I am good at the one arm icing!}

{I crushed up candy canes and put them on the wet icing- those were definitely the best- YUMM!}

{As you can see I tried MANY options- red, green, red sprinkle on white icing, green sprinkle on white icing, candy cane, etc.. I finally concluded with- big stars got the candy cane and little ones got sprinkles- I am just a white icing kind of girl!}

{I ADORE the Candy Cane cookies- I cannot tell you how yummy they are..if I say so myself!}

{I had this whole little Sunday School lesson for the girls on this little broken cookie- "you know this time of year there are so many pretty, good things and we are consumed with those things and ourselves but what we need to look for are the little "broken cookies" among us- they might blend in...but if you look close enough you will see that they are broken and they need some extra love and attention...etc...." those lessons go totally lost on my girls- they usually interrupt with something like.."um mom, can I have a snack bar?" I just have to tell myself- build a foundation, build a foundation- otherwise I would go nuts! ANYWAY...} 

{Here are my pretty little guys- can you tell that I committed to stars and didn't look back?}

{I mean...I am a little prideful about the shape of my cookies- A LOT of effort went into that shape!}


{So...everyone else in the company chipped in as well and we came up with all of these goodies for people- AMAZING- My little cookies were so minimal- they did fudge, peanut brittle, hand dipped pretzels, cake pops, snickerdoodles, and more..so yummy! PS I think I gained 5lbs this weekend!}




SO...There you go- my lovely little cookies- I feel like I learned a new life skill this weekend!


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