Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Fall Festival "Cake Walk" cakes

For the past two years, I've been able to make cakes for our school's annual Fall Festival.  It helps raise money for the senior class.  Cake walks are a lot of fun to participate in.  Everyone walks around on numbered squares taped to the floor while music is playing.  When the music stops, the moderator picks a number out of the hat and whoever has landed on that number gets to choose a cake off the table.

The cake on top says "happy harvest", spelled out with Necco wafers.  I used alphabet stamps and gel food coloring to stamp out the words.  As I let that dry, I placed more wafers all around the sides of the cake.  The second cake was made by first placing candied nuts all around the sides of the cake, then placing fake flowers on the top.  I bought disposable cake carriers at my local grocery store for about a dollar.  Hope this gives you a couple simple cake decorating ideas for you to use at the next cake walk, birthday party or get-together.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A book for the book enthusiast

My husband LOVES books!  He can spend hours at a time reading.  Because of his busy schedule he doesn't do that so much anymore, but he still finds time every day to read.  For last year's birthday, I thought I'd make a book for him to record all the books he's read.  He has a few loose sheets that he can't always find, so making this book journal was the best thing for him.  All I did was buy a blank book and used scrap booking paper to decorate it.  I did this on the front as well as the back cover.  I found paper that had the words, "dream", "imagine" and "explore" and cut those out to place on the front cover.  I titled the book, "books!"  I used rub-on transfers to spell out those words onto a tag that had a metal border around it.  I also used metal brads for a decorative touch.  There you have it--a journal for the book lover!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

On Giving Thanks

There is so much to be thankful for....but how many of us wait until Thanksgiving Day to give thanks?  We can read many chapters in Psalms and understand that giving praise and thanks needs to be a continual thing in our lives.  I love Psalm 118:1, "O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever."  I am learning that even in hard times, I need to give thanks.  With my physical condition, I can be thankful that it isn't more serious.  I think the hardest time to give thanks is when we're going through hard times.  But--we can know that God works all for our good.  Everything He does in our lives is part of His perfect plan.  We can rest in that promise.

This last Sunday in our bulletin, my pastor shared with us the first Thanksgiving Day proclamation for December 18, 1777.  This is what it says:

That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor;  and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor;  and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance;  That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole.

Isn't that awesome?  The praise is to our God, not on the material blessings of God.  It is a great perspective to have when giving thanks.

This morning, my husband and I are finishing the last few things before heading out to be with friends today.  We are really excited to have this day to reflect on the goodness of God and be with fellow believers.  For Thanksgiving, I like to read a unique story that talks about the goodness of God and providence of God.  When I taught Kindergarten, I read the book, Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas.  His life is very similar to that of Joseph in the Bible, and it's neat to see how God took him through some hard things but at the end it was all for good.  If you can't find it at your local library, look at to purchase it.  Your family will really enjoy this wonderful story.

Have a happy Thanksgiving! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Objects of Praise

Tonight our church had its annual praise service which is always held the night before Thanksgiving Day.  Each year our pastor comes up with a different way for us to share our testimonies of praise.  This year we were asked to bring an object that we could use to illustrate something we were thankful for.  Many people participated and they were all so good! Children said things like, "I brought my stuffed bear to show that God is strong like a bear is strong."  A couple of my favorites were the following:  a concealer to show that we can't hide sin and that God forgives us;  a flashlight to show that God's Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path;  a band-aid to show that God cares for us.

I brought in a CD to share that God is the Creator of music and that just by looking at nature we are moved in our hearts to sing praise to God.  Music is also orderly, just as God is orderly and orchestrates every thing in our lives.

We ended our time together by singing the Doxology.  Do you know how it goes? 

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow;  Praise Him, all creatures here below;  Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;  Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!  Amen.

Let's remember to always praise the Provider rather than the provision.  God is good all the time and I hope that you can give thanks today for all that He has done for you.  

My Praise Book

When I was in college, I began a journal called "the praise book."  It was just a little fat notebook that I jotted down answers to prayer.  It was so encouraging to see how God was working in every little detail of my life. These last few years, I've not kept up with the journal, but I have gone through it from time to time.  Seeing all that He has done in the past encourages me that He will continue to help in the future.  With this Thanksgiving season I've been realizing that I need to keep writing down those praises, no matter how little or big they are to me.  We are to praise God continually with our mouths, and the Bible also tells us to be thankful in all things.  When we share the praises with others, it will also encourages them to make God a part of their every day life.  It helps us all to see that without Christ, we can't do anything.  So, what are we waiting for? Let's get out that little notebook and begin writing down prayers of thanksgiving to our wonderful Creator.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Home made books on CD

For the two youngest nephews in the family we decided to make our own books on CD.  With our MacBook, we can record anything we want to, so my husband and I got busy in producing a CD that the boys would love. We found a Winnie-the-Pooh book at Wal-mart.  Then, we read the book a few times and figured out which characters we would be.  I think we were each 2-3 characters, so we had to practice a few different character voices.  My husband thought it would be neat to use a pot to clang on as the page turn signal.  We practiced reading the book out loud a couple times before we recorded it.  This is a special gift because we don't see our nephews very often and they can learn the sound of our voices by listening to this CD.  They'll eventually learn to follow along in the book, too, as they get older and learn how to read.  This is definitely an idea that any adult can do, but older kids can do these as well.  Their cousins and friends would enjoy receiving something like this.  When I did this project another time, I sang a couple kid songs that went along with the theme of the book.  A book on CD is another great gift you can give to any child that is part of your life.  

Science and Art in a box!

Two nephews and niece were with us (with their parents) last year for Christmas.  We all stayed in our small 2-bedroom condo.  It was cozy that's for sure!  For the two older kids we thought we'd make things that they could do while they were with us.  If they couldn't complete their projects, it was something they could definitely do when they went back home.  For the nephew, we made a "science in a box."  I covered a shoe box with brown kraft paper and placed bug stickers all over it.  Inside were a few science projects described on cards as well as the supplies that went with them.  I got ideas from the book, 365 Simple Science Experiments with everyday materials (by a few authors produced by Sterling Publishing Company).  For the niece, I bought a cute handbag at a dollar store and put in a few art projects.  One thing she really enjoyed was painting a piggy bank.  They really loved these gifts.  This may give you some ideas to do for the small relatives in your life.  Put together a box of things that they really like.  Get creative; they will absolutely love it!

Monday, November 24, 2008

For little boys with special hobbies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     I decorated these boxes for two nephews last Christmas. The box on the left was for the coin collector.  I lined the bottom with felt, then hand-painted his initials on the lid to personalize it.  For a special surprise, I put some coins in the box from different countries.  The box on the right was for the car enthusiast in the family.  I painted wooden letters that spelled "CARS", then hand-painted the rest of it to say, "Isaiah's cars."  A painted road went completely around the outside of the box.  This box was also lined on the bottom with felt.  My husband and I found some toy cars that he would like, including his favorite at the time, a Dodge Charger.  Perhaps you are thinking of the kids in your life that may be into these things, or perhaps into something completely different.  You can make boxes to hold all sorts of things:  art supplies, marbles, or bugs and nature items.  At craft stores, you can find boxes with handles made out of card board, wood or tin.  Let your imagination soar, and post pictures of your latest creations.  I would love to see what you come up with.

Sweet little girl boxes

I decorated these boxes for my nieces to use to store their doll clothes.  I first used some fine grain sand paper to smooth out the wood.  Then I stained the boxes a medium wood color. 
When that finished drying, I used 
a flower stamp and dipped it into pink craft paint and stamped all over the box. The leaves were a different stamp, so I dipped that into green craft paint and placed the leaves on the flowers.  I used a paint brush to paint a dark pink dot in the middle of the flowers.  I also used the paint brush to write the girls' names on the top of the boxes.  The inside of the boxes were also stained, but I also did one more thing to give it that final touch.  I bought sparkly pink felt and lined the bottom with it.  After placing the doll outfit I made for each of them inside, there was still plenty of room to put several more outfits and accessories for their dolls.  I know that the girls have a special place where they keep these boxes.  They really love having a personalized box to keep all their doll stuff in.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My very first doll outfit

Last year for Christmas, I decided to make gifts for our 8 nieces and nephews. It took a lot of time, but so well worth it.  I loved doing it, and they loved what we gave them.  In these next few posts, I'll be showcasing some of those gifts. It may give you ideas as you work on your Christmas list.  This American girl doll outfit was a bit challenging for me, a beginner sewer, but I think it turned out well at the end.  Simplicity produces several 18" doll patterns.  I was able to get some at Hobby Lobby when they had a 99 cent sale.  They usually run between 12 and 15 dollars, so I think I got a great deal on these!:)  This pattern is #3895.  There are other options to make other than what you see here.  You can make gauchos, capris, t-shirts and vest.  I love the flip-flops--they were made using craft foam, felt and ribbon.  And--no outfit is complete without a handbag, again made from felt and ribbon.  I gave this outfit to two of my nieces and they absolutely loved it.  Each set came in its own personalized wooden box (which I'll showcase at another time.)  This was a lot of fun to do and can't wait to make some more clothes for their dolls.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Music Festival

Yesterday I accompanied my sr. high choir to an all-day event called Festival.  Several schools from our association of Christian schools get together each year and put on a musical concert.  They bring in guest conductors, one for choir and the other for band.  Before the day, choir directors introduced the songs to the students so that they would be somewhat familiar with them.  All day they had rehearsals to get ready for the evening's concert.  They were so exhausted, but the concert went really well.  Parents and visitors who attended were blessed indeed.   It is such an amazing sound to hear a few hundred teens singing praise to God!  

If your child's school doesn't already do something like this, it may be worth the effort to talk to the school administrator or teacher to see if one can be started.  If the school you're involved with isn't already part of an association, perhaps area schools could be contacted and a representative from each school could meet to organize this annual event.  One of the schools would have to host the event, and things like fees would have to be discussed.  College professors make great conductor choices.  They are the ones who help choose the song selections.  Then, all the schools purchase their own copies for the students to use. 

The students are definitely stretched with their musical knowledge and performance skills.  It is such a fun and educational day for them.  As a new director, I'm learning a lot from the guest conductors as well.  

Let me know if you're interested in something like this.  I'd be glad to give you more tips on how to start a Music Festival in your area.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Know Sweat!"

Recently, we had a teen ministry activity called, "know sweat." Sounds a little different, eh? This is something we do each year to help the senior saints in our church.  We head out to each home and rake and bag leaves. It is a hard job gathering up leaves so that these sweet people can see their lawns and backyards again.  This time around we had about a dozen guys and girls helping to get the jobs done.  The kids had fun jumping in the leaves from time to time and getting to know the widows in our church.  It was such a blessing to do this!  Prior to the activity, my husband shared the Scripture passage which says, 

"Honour widows that are widows indeed."  I Timothy 5:3

Perhaps this is an activity that the teens, singles, or any group in your church could do.  I know it's a blessing for those who are helped, but it's also a way for us to learn to reach out and serve one another.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Here's what I did with my pumpkin....

One night I came home and saw a pumpkin sitting on our dining room table.  It was a surprise from my husband.  He said that he wanted me to do something with it.  I did some research and found a website that shows how to clean, cook and puree pumpkin meat.  You can find help here to do the same:  It's suggested that you use a small pie pumpkin, but I went ahead and used the large pumpkin we had.  From my pumpkin, I got 8 cups of pureed pumpkin meat.  I decided to put 2 cups in each bag and freeze them so that they would be ready to go when I was ready to use them.  I left one bag out and decided to make praline pumpkin pie.  It turned out so delicious!  Here's the recipe:

Praline Pumpkin Pie
(8-9" pie pan)

prepared graham cracker crust

For the praline:

1/2 c. chopped pecans/nuts
6 Tbsp. margarine
1/3 c. brown sugar

For the filling:

1 c. milk
1 large box instant vanilla pudding
1 lb. canned pumpkin or 2 c. homemade pureed pumpkin, drained
1 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
8 oz. whipped topping (divided)

Boil praline ingredients for 30 seconds and spread on crust.  Blend milk with pudding mix for a minute.  Stir in pumpkin and spice until blended.  Gently stir in just over 1/2 of the whipped topping.  Spread over praline.  Refrigerate until set.  Garnish with remaining topping and nuts or spice.

My husband and I enjoyed a slice of pie with a cup of hot cocoa--delicious!  Here are some other ways to enjoy the process of making this pie and using the rest of your pumpkin.

1.  Include kids in the process of cooking the pumpkin meat.  Some are not ready to handle knives, but they can definitely peel off the skin and press the start button on the blender.
2.  Have the kids try the pumpkin puree before and after it is sweetened.  Ask them which way they like it better.  (most likely the sweetened version:)
3.  Have family members clean and cook the pumpkin seeds.  You can add garlic salt for a salty version or use a cinnamon-sugar mixture to satisfy that sweet tooth.
4.  Consider saving some seeds to plant so you can grow your own pumpkins.
5.  Pumpkin puree can be used for other things besides pie:  breads, cakes, cookies and even in main dishes.  It's healthy for you, so think creatively into how you can incorporate pumpkin into your diet.  I used pumpkin in a chili this fall and it was sooo good!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Peace of God

"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:7

For the past few months, I've been dealing with a personal health issue that at times has been discouraging.  One of the biggest challenges for me is to try to keep on going despite not always feeling one hundred percent.  God's Word tells me that I can do all through Him, and right now going through this, I don't want Satan to get a hold of it to the point where I don't do anything at all.  There may be a time in the future that I'll share my condition because I think it may be a help to some to know that they are not alone.  I believe it is a blessing from God when you can be encouraged by others who have gone through the same thing.  Thankfully, there is treatment for what I'm going through.  It may be surgery, but I won't know until I see another doctor next week.  I've really had to grab onto the thought of having peace in God, rather than in doctors.  I am thankful that God has given us doctors, but ultimately, I need to let the peace of God rule in my heart. Without it, I'd be a mess.  I was feeling very nervous at first, but God is continuing to give me peace and assurance that everything will be all right.  Being at peace means being at rest.  I can be thankful to know that God is in control and knows what is best in my life right now.

So, what about you?  Are you going through a hard time with something this very minute? 
Let God's peace rule in your heart and mind continually.

Here's a creative plan of action:  

1.  Sing to God in praise to get your outlook on Him, rather than on your circumstances.  Listen to music that will get your thinking in the right perspective.
2.  Meditate on verses about the goodness and peace of God.
3.  Post Scripture verses anywhere you will be constantly reminded that God is good--on your fridge, bathroom mirror, etc.  This is something I've done recently and it's been a huge help.

I hope this encourages you to have God's peace no matter what you're going through.  Remember that God is good--all the time.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Real-life Pacman

I loved the video game, "Pacman" when I was a young girl, and honestly, it is still the only video game I can really play!  So when my husband told me what he and a sibling used to do, I laughed and thought it was a neat idea to share with all of you.  They came up with a way to play "real-life pacman."  He said that they used to put food (like cereal) around the house.  The house became a maze-like field for pacman action!  For the big points, they would set up little piles of food amongst the other bits of food.  They would go around the house and gobble it up right off the floor!  

I thought this was such a cute idea, but some of you might be afraid of the germs lurking on your floors!  You can use napkins or little dixie cups to hold the food.  Instead of cereal, you can use crackers or gummy fruit snacks.  You could even use wrapped chocolate candies as the "super" food; parents can be the ones chasing the little pacmans, but if they have the "super" food they can't get caught!  Those special candies can even be saved until the end of the game and be used as points.  The pacman with the most points wins!  The possibilities are endless for this game.  Get creative and have fun!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"One Day Sunday"

We had an awesome morning service today at our church.  For several weeks our church members have been inviting people for this service. We were given invitations to use as we invited neighbors, co-workers, and family members. "One Day Sunday" is designed for people who say, "One day I'll come visit your church" and/or who don't know Christ personally as Savior. What a great idea this was!  I'm not sure what the total count was on visitors, but I did see and meet some this morning during the fellowship time.  After some time of getting to know folks and eating doughnuts, we had our main service.  We had lots of music as well as an evangelistic preaching time.  If your church has never done this, this is a wonderful opportunity to encourage those who are looking for a church as well as for those who need Christ.  Our communities are full of folks like this.  We can be the ones to reach out to them.  Hope this encourages you all and perhaps gives you an idea to pass on to your pastor.  I'm glad we did this and can't wait to see the good things that come out of this in the future. 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Yahoo! I saved money today!

Do any of you get reward cards from department stores?  I recently received one from Kohl's (one of my favorite places to shop!) and today was the last day to use it. I have found great clearance deals in there before, so I thought I'd check it out again to use this $10 reward card.  I came home with three items that originally totaled $64.00 for only $2.56!!! I enjoy going in with a list in mind, whether it's for a family member, birthday gift, or just something for fun.  I love using these cards when I get them, but honestly am not sure how I get on their list.  I asked a friend of mine from church if she also received things like this in the mail and she said that she does.  There may be a mystery as to how we get these great gift cards, but all in all it is such a blessing from God.  He knows our needs before we even ask Him, and it's wonderful to see how He supplies things for us.

Welcome to my blog!

Hi everyone!  I'm so glad you've come to check out my blog.  I love being creative, saving money and thinking "outside the box"!  I have come to enjoy reading others' creative blogs and thought that I could do this too, so here I am.  I am a born-again Christian, stay-at-home wife to a wonderful husband and an avid baker and creative crafter.  I hope I can inspire many to live their lives to the fullest in pleasing the Lord, their families and communities.  I'll share insights on what God is teaching me, tips on lots of fun stuff, and will post pictures of my latest crafts.  Enjoy!