Saturday, December 26, 2009

A special Christmas dinner

When Q was growing up, his family always had a Christmas Eve dinner with the main course being Swedish meatballs. We planned on doing the same thing this year with a few friends from church, but then I got sick the day before. I felt awful inside and out, but we were determined to just postpone it to Christmas day. Thankfully, I was starting to feel a bit better and a few of our friends could still come.

We spent the afternoon cleaning and cooking for our special event. I pulled out the fancy tablecloth, napkins and china and set the table.

I've done this napkin decoration before. I did an accordion-fold on the napkin, slipped it through the holder, then placed a candy cane through it. 

We had Gloria, Debbie and Jim over for dinner. The conversation around the table was fun and encouraging. Q and I are really enjoying getting to know the people in our new church. Our meal consisted of Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, gravy, cornbread muffins, salad, pineapple chunks and this yummy pumpkin dessert. Check it out...

I'm glad I remembered to take a picture before I had eaten the whole piece! The dessert is called, "Pumpkin gooey butter cake." I found it in one of my Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking Magazines (Dec/Jan. 2010). The lady who submitted it said that it was a special thing for her to make during Christmas. The recipe is a healthier version of the original treat, so don't worry too much about the calories. Here's the recipe for you all to enjoy!

Makeover Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

1 pkg. (18-1/4 oz.) yellow cake mix
1 egg
1/2 cup reduced-fat butter, melted

FILLING:
1 pkg. (8 oz.) reduced-fat cream cheese
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup reduced-fat butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Additional confectioners' sugar, optional

1. In a large bowl, beat the cake mix, egg and butter on low speed until combined. Press into a 13-inch x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray.
2. In another large bowl, beat cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the butter, eggs, egg whites and vanilla; beat on low until combined. Add the confectioners' sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg; mix well. Pour over crust.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. Chill until serving. Sprinkle with additional confectioners' sugar if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

Our Christmas Day morning

Q and I had a wonderful Christmas morning--our first one in our new home. He grabbed a cup of coffee and I sat down across from him as he read the Christmas story.

We love starting our Christmas day like this. It is wonderful to reflect on why we celebrate this special day.

Sometimes when I've wrapped Q's presents, I've included a tag that gives a hint as to what is inside. The one above says, "To my Q--something for your love of history--Love, your wife" Inside the package was Focus on the Family's Radio Theatre presentation of two stories--"The Hiding Place" and "Bonhoeffer: The cost of freedom." I also got him their Classics Collection which included five stories--Les Miserables, Ben-Hur, A Christmas Carol, Silas Marner, and Billy Budd, Sailor. For this gift the tag read, "something for your love of literature." Q loves his books and now he has these neat recordings that will make them come alive.

I couldn't wait for him to open the package that read, "for your new pastor's look." Inside was this beautiful pocket watch that I hope to get engraved soon. We took turns opening packages and saved the big ones for last. He had already opened my smaller gifts to him, and I was excited opening up the ones from him. I received a few much-needed articles of clothing and some cute tennis shoes.

Then, it was time for him to open up what he really wanted this year...

I know it's kind of hard to see on the box, but it's a picture of an ice auger. He had hinted several times that he wanted one to use for ice fishing this winter. Then, I opened up his big gift to me...

I love my new fancy shoes for church. I've been needing a pair for the longest time. 

What special gifts did you enjoy giving and receiving this year?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Journey to Bethlehem

Last week, I had a wonderful meeting with a friend from college. She was in the area visiting her brother for a few days. Melissa is a missionary to Romania where she ministers to young ladies and children. After eating our lunch, she pulled out her photo album from her most recent years in Romania.

I was encouraged by all the creativity they put into their ministry opportunities. One of them is so fitting for this season; it's called, "The Journey to Bethlehem." Basically, the church rooms are set up as parts of the Nativity story. I received these pictures via e-mail a few days ago, so I hope I've put them in the right order and have described them correctly. I love this idea as it really brings the Bible story to life. I'm definitely keeping this in mind for next year. Perhaps the pastor will let me help put this together. (wink;) Some of you may not know this, but the pastor is my husband!

Here are the pictures of "The Journey to Bethlehem":

I believe this is the part where everyone is paying their taxes. At each stop, there were people who dressed the part and helped the children participate in the activity.

The angels are proclaiming to the shepherds that baby Jesus was born.

These are the shepherds on their way to see Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.

The innkeeper tells everyone that there is "no room at the inn."

Mary, Joseph and Jesus are surrounded by the animals and visited by the wise men.

Isn't this such a great idea? I love it! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, remembering why we celebrate. Jesus came to earth to die on a cross to take away our sin. We can have eternal life through Him because of this precious gift.

Merry Christmas from me and Q! 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Tree card

Do you still need to make a quick gift for someone this year? If so, this might just be the idea for you! I made this card a few days ago, but had to wait to show it to you because it was for my mom and dad. They read my blog regularly, so I didn't want to spoil the surprise.

I made this card using Christmas color fabrics and buttons. The idea is not originally mine, but from Sew Simple Magazine, volume 11. The only thing I did differently was add a star on top. I love this magazine, as there are always such creative projects, and they're simple enough for even the beginner sewer. 

Before stitching on my fabrics, I glued them on using a glue stick and let it dry for a while. Everything was done with the zig-zag stitch except for the piece of rick rack, buttons, and star (which was just glued on). I hand-sewed the buttons using white thread. I trimmed the card with pinking shears.
Inside the card, I stitched on a felt pocket for the gift card we bought for my parents. I wrote a simple greeting using a calligraphy pen. On the other side, I glued on a piece of decorative paper to hide all the stitching. That's all there is to it--easy, simple and cute!

Even if you have all your cards and gifts ready, you now have this idea to use next year. Have fun!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Music to encourage your heart this Christmas

Usually at this time of year, Q and I attend quite a few parties and programs put on by both church and school. But now that we are in a smaller church with no Christian school, we have not attended so many this season. I've had memories of last year's Christmas concert with my choirs and have really missed it. Maybe someday the Lord will allow me to have a choir again. I loved my time with the kids, encouraging them with their musical talents.

I am thankful that we had a nice program this past Sunday at church that I could be a part of and enjoy. We had singers, a poetry reader and our staff evangelist bring a short message. We also happened to have a missionary family there, so they presented their work and the father preached the main message.

One of my favorite songs to sing is "Gesu Bambino" which is translated, "Infant Jesus." I sang most of it in English, then sang one of the choruses in Italian. I hope to someday record this song for you, but in the meantime, here are the words to this classic Christmas song. I know they will encourage your heart.

Gesu Bambino
by Frederick H. Martens and Pietro A. Yon

When blossoms flowered 'mid the snows upon a winter night
Was born the Child, the Christmas Rose, the King of Love and Light.
The angels sang, the shepherds sang, the grateful earth rejoiced,
And at His blessed birth the stars their exultation voiced.

O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Again the heart with rapture glows to greet the holy night
That gave the world its Christmas Rose, its King of Love and Light,
Let every voice acclaim His name, The grateful chorus swell,
From paradise to earth He came that we with Him might dwell.

Venite adoremus, Venite adoremus, 
Venite adoremus, Dominum.

Ah....O come let us adore Him,
Ah....adore Him Christ the Lord.
O come,  O come, O come let us adore Him,
Let us adore Him...Christ the Lord.

For the past several years, members from our new church have attended a Christmas concert put on by Abbas Ministries, Inc. It's hosted by Columbine Baptist Church in Denver. Most of the program consists of members of the Abbas family. They also invite friends and children from area churches to take a part in it. Since Q had to work last night, Zann (a friend from church) and I drove down together and really had a great time at the concert.

Here are a few of my favorite video clips for you to enjoy. This first one is of the kids playing bells to "Angels we have heard on high." I think this would be fun to do with kids in our church.

video

This next one is of a young lady named Emily Levin playing "Let it Snow" on her harp. This past October, Emily placed in the top three in Israel's International Harp Competition. She's an amazing harpist!

video

These last numbers were ones that the audience got to participate in. The brass ensemble played "Jingle Bells" while people rattled their keys. You'll see Zann's keys jingling in the clip.:) The last song for the evening was "Silent Night." We were accompanied by piano and harp. Someone also signed it for the hearing impaired. You'll hear my voice singing in this one, too. I just couldn't sit there while everyone around me sang.

video video

Hope you enjoyed this mini concert! Next year, I'll have to take Q with me, as I know he'll enjoy it, too. 

Monday, December 21, 2009

This year's Christmas card holder

We've collected quite a few Christmas cards from family and friends these past couple weeks. I decided to use this unique photo holder made by Umbra to hold them this year. You can go here to see my snowflake Christmas card holder that I used for a couple years. It's made using things you may already have around the house. Perhaps if our current holder gets full, I may have to go back to this. 

Start saving up your cards to make a Christmas card village like I did this year. Perhaps you already have plans to make other things with them.

How are you all displaying your cards? How do you recycle your cards? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My favorite children's books to celebrate this season

I have always loved children's books. They remind me of the many hours spent reading as a kid. Stories took me places near and far away, and I enjoyed using my imagination.

I've recently checked out some Christmas books at my local library to read for fun and share with you. I also have some favorites of my own, including a couple that belonged to my husband when he was a boy. If you don't already own some of these books, you can check them out at your library this week and enjoy them with your kids or grandkids.

First is my list of books that celebrate the real reason of Christmas:

The ABC's of Christmas, by Jane Belk Moncure, illustrated by James Seward and Denise Saupe, published by The Child's World, Inc., 1982; very simple for toddlers and preschoolers; shares the Nativity story with the letters of the alphabet.

The Candymaker's Gift, by David and Helen Haidle, published by Honor Books, Inc., 1996; a candy maker shares the meaning of the candy cane with children that come to his shop; the colors and shape signify different things about Jesus; includes ideas to host your very own candy cane party.

The Little Drummer Boy, words and music by Katherine Davis, Henry Onorati, and Harry Simeone, illustrated by Kristina Rodanas, published by Clarion Books, 2001; the classic song is illustrated beautifully in this book.

The Christmas Star, story adapted from original text by Moira Butterfield, soft sculptures by Christine Potter, published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2000; simple Nativity story illustrated with detailed soft sculptures; everyone will love this book!

The Legend of the Christmas Rose, by William H. Hooks, paintings by Richard A. Williams, published by Harper Collins Publishers, 1999; the nativity story from the point of view of the shepherds' little sister; gorgeous illustrations.

One Wintry Night, by Ruth Bell Graham, illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson, published by Baker Books, 1994; a picture book divided into chapters, starting from the creation and leading to the birth and death of Christ; this is perhaps my favorite Christmas book--the story is written well for all ages to understand and the illustrations are beautiful.

Now, here's my list of some fun books that will be enjoyed by all ages:

On Christmas Day in the Morning, traditional carol, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, published by Candlewick Press, 1999; the well-known song is illustrated with watercolor paintings.

Jingle Bell Sleigh, by Monique Z. Stephens, illustrated by Jeremy Tugeau, published by Grosset & Dunlap, a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 2002; a fun story about a family enjoying a winter day; the characters' faces are adorable.

The Twelve Days of Christmas, a Christmas Carol, traditional carol, illustrated by Mike Eagle, published by Western Publishing Company, Inc., 1983, a Little Golden Book; everyone will love the pictures that go along with the well-known Christmas song.

These next two include Santa Claus. I'm not very big on Santa, especially when he takes the place of Christ during the Christmas season in so many homes today. But--I'm okay with it in moderation in classic stories such as these:

Santa Comes to Little House, from Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated by Renee' Graef, published by Harper Collins Publishers, 2001; this true-life story of a very special Christmas at the Ingalls' household is a great reminder to be thankful for family and simple gifts; beautiful colored illustrations.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, by Robert L. May, illustrated by David Wenzel, published by Grosset & Dunlop, 2001 (text originally copyrighted in 1939); this is the original story of Rudolph; the story teaches us that we all have a purpose in this life--great opportunity to teach about God's plan in how he made us individually with our talents and physical characteristics.

These last two books are ones that I've had for some time. I've not read them in their entirety, but hope to get to them some day!:) I really enjoy collecting older books when I get the chance. There is so much to be learned from literature found in books like these:

Christmas-Tree Sam, An Everyday Adventure Story, by Helen D. Olds, published by Julian Messner, Inc.,1952; a story about Sam at the Christmas tree farm; black and white drawings.

Christmas Tales and Christmas Verse, by Eugene Field, illustrated by Florence Storer, published by Charles Scribner's Sons, October 1912; a mix of stories and poems for the season; classic colored illustrations.

This picture is just one of several that are included in this book.

Isn't is just beautiful? I can't wait to go through these older books--they are truly treasures!

What are some of your favorite books for the season? Please share them with the rest of us.:)

Friday, December 18, 2009

The tomato experiment, part 3: the saga ends

The last time I wrote about my late-blooming tomato plant, we were getting ready to transplant it again in a bigger pot. It was leaning over a lot and I could see the roots above the soil. We had some five gallon buckets that were given to us by my friend, Golie, so we used one of them to put the plant in.

Q helped me do this by drilling holes on the bottom of the bucket for drainage. Then, he added more soil. He also found some old wire fencing behind the house to use for staking up the plant. We continued to water it and made sure it got plenty of sun.

Things were going really well for a while. On warm days, it stayed outside a lot. But when we got really cold days and snow, I had to keep it inside for several days at a time. We found a neat spot for it in the craft room. It sat on top of a counter by the window so that it would get sunshine.

But then, Q discovered a problem. It was a tiny problem, but an overwhelming one nonetheless...

Tiny white bugs started invading my plant! Q did some research on it, and found a nasty solution made from red pepper that we could spray on it, but I chose not to do it. I didn't want to mess with it anymore. I could tell by the look of it, that it was just going down hill.

I continued to water it and keep it by the sun the best I could. A couple weeks ago I really gave up on it. I started to get busier making Christmas gifts and such that I really didn't want to deal with it anymore. Oh well...

This is how my plant looked like yesterday before I took it out to the trash can:

Looks pretty pitiful, eh? It made me a little sad, especially after we tried so long to keep it alive. We really wanted to have some ripe tomatoes this winter. I guess my "green thumb" only works in the summer time! I can't wait to plant some seeds this coming spring.

So, this ends the saga of my tomato experiment. I learned a lot doing it, and it was fun while it lasted.;)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

For our Kids' Bible Club this past Wednesday night, we had a birthday party for Jesus. In this day and age when we're swarmed with other things to look at and do at this time of year, it's nice to keep the focus on why we celebrate Christmas.

I used my Nativity set from home to tell the story of Jesus coming to earth as a baby. I read from Luke 2:1-20 in my Bible. I put out the characters as they were introduced in the story. Because the wise men came later, I pulled them out last, explaining to the kids when and how they came. We sang, "Silent Night" as part of our Bible lesson, too.

The memory verse I taught the kids was Luke 2:11--"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." I found another neat review game in my stash of CEF materials. This one is called, "Letter Stand Up." To prep for this activity, you are to write the beginning letter of each word of the memory verse on construction paper. I used Scrabble tiles instead. You can use a container that fits with your theme or holiday. I used a stocking and placed all the tiles inside. I had Mieka and Sklar take turns drawing out a letter. We said the verse together, but when a word that started with that drawn letter was said, we had to stand up.

After the game, I sang "The Little Drummer Boy" to them, using a children's book of the same title (illustrations by Kristina Rodanas). They loved the beautiful pictures and hearing the story in song. I explained to them afterward how fiction was woven into a real life story. I asked them what they would have given to Baby Jesus if they were there. If you have a chance to swing by the library before Christmas, check out this book. Your kids will really enjoy it.

Then, I gave them their gifts--the Christmas Star ornaments I made. They gave me a gift, too, along with a card. It was a Precious Moments bell ornament that now hangs on my little tree.

I combined our craft and snack time together by having them decorate 4-inch chocolate cakes. After spreading frosting on them, they got to put cinnamon candies, sprinkles and crushed peppermint candies on their cakes. I also decorated one myself, and used my decorator tool on it to show them how they could use it. They really enjoyed putting on star flowers with green frosting to add extra embellishment on their tiny cakes. 

They came out so cute, so I had to show them to you. Here's Skylar's cake....

We put candles on them so that we could sing, "Happy Birthday" to Jesus, then blow them out. Here's Mieka's cake...

Did you see faces in each of their cakes? After blowing out the candles, I cut out small pieces for them to enjoy for our snack. We wrapped up the rest so that they could take it home.

We loved our time celebrating Jesus' birthday. What have you done (or are going to do) this year to keep the real meaning of Christmas alive? I would love to hear your stories.:)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Star ornament

Almost every year during my Kindergarten teaching days, I made my students these felt star ornaments. I wanted to give them something handmade so that they could remember their kindergarten year. I still have a couple ornaments that teachers made for me and it's been a great memory for me.

Even though I'm not in the classroom anymore, I am able to do some of these same things in church ministries. I'm loving my time with Mieka and Skylar on Wednesday nights. God has been so good to give this ministry to me and to them, too. 

Tonight, we had our Christmas celebration, so I wanted to make them each a star ornament as my present to them.

This is the one I gave to Mieka. I placed low loft batting between the front and back pieces of sparkly felt before stitching it closed. The mouth was made using fabric paint. The googly eyes and felt hair bow were glued on using a hot glue gun. The sparkly pipe cleaner was added last, using glue as well.

Skylar's star looks almost the same except that he has on a bow tie. Both ornaments are approximately three inches in length. In past years, I've used a red ribbon for the girls' ornaments and a green ribbon for the boys' ornaments. I have sometimes added a border of glitter all around the edges of the star. I'm sure there can be more variations of this same design.

On the back side, I like to write the child's name using fabric paint. They always love finding their name. It gives such a personalized touch. In the classroom, I'd hang the ornaments up on the last day of school before Christmas vacation. Then, I'd help each student find his or her star on the tree.

Don't they look so cute hanging on the tree? Mieka and Skylar really liked this simple gift--and so will the kids in your life!

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Biography of God: an update

When I first wrote about my devotional called, My Biography of God, someone asked if I could give an update after I had been going through it for a while. So, here are some things I've been learning and what I've enjoyed so much about this book.

I just finished my 15th week today. Throughout these weeks I've learned some great attributes of God--His love, sovereignty, faithfulness, power, mercy, righteousness, and truth. Week 12 was a challenge as I had to write down what I need to change in my life according to what I already learned in the previous weeks. Then, I had to write down a plan to make that change....very thought provoking! This past week allowed me to fill in more blanks in my "Names of God" section.

When I first started this book, I thought that some aspects were very simple, but now that I've been at it for about four months now, it's been challenging and encouraging in several ways:

I love the fact that I read and focus on the same passage for a week. It's never the same each day with what God shows me and with what the book asks me to write down.

I love the fact that I'm memorizing Scripture each week and reviewing the previous ones constantly.

I love writing down praises more consistently now. It's great to look at them every few days because it reminds me that God is working in my life, as well in the lives of others around me.

I love writing down prayer requests, praying for them and seeing God work. I had once kept a prayer request/praise journal, but haven't done it in a long time until now. When someone shares a burden with me, I write it down right away and let them know that I'm praying for them. There's a place to write the date and a place to put a check mark when it's answered.

If you are still interested in purchasing My Biography of God, you can go here, then click on "store" to find it. I hope that what I shared was encouraging to you. It's so important to spend time in God's Word. It's also nice to have a guide to help you with a specific study. One of the verses I've memorized summarizes my goal as I learn about God--

"That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God." Colossians 1:10

Such an encouraging verse, eh? This is what our purpose as Christians should be--to glorify God in all we do and to learn more about Him.

I can't wait to tell you more about how God is working in my life through this devotional. Perhaps I'll share more in a few months. I pray that you all are spending time with the Lord and enjoying every minute of it!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Yes!

Something exciting happened at church today! The official vote for Q being the next pastor at First Baptist Church took place during this morning's service. I'm happy to announce that the yes votes came out to be nearly 100%!! Q will officially be the pastor beginning on January 15, 2010. We are very happy for this positive outcome. God is good!

Before the voting took place, Q was able to share with the congregation his views on ministry, his pastoral role, my role as wife, as well as things he's looking forward to in the future. He also preached one of his favorite messages during the main service time. It was a very encouraging morning to all who were there.

We went out to lunch with some friends from church. Then, Q thought it would be fun for us to celebrate at The Cheesecake Factory. The desserts there are so good and it's very hard to decide what to get. Q got a huge piece of tiramisu covered with dollops of whipped cream!

Take a look....


I enjoyed this huge slice of layered cheesecake. The chocolate part was the best, of course!


Thanks for your continued prayers during this transition time in our lives. To God be the glory for what He has done--and for what He'll continue to do in our lives here at First Baptist Church in Lafayette, Colorado.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Church Christmas Party

Last night, Q and I attended our first Christmas party at First Baptist Church. We enjoyed the night with new friends--singing carols, eating good food, and playing games.

After our meal, Q gave a short devotional that set the tone for the evening. Then, he and a couple other men dressed up as the wise men and led us all in the singing of, "We Three Kings." 

The tables were lined with festive wrapping paper. Centerpieces like this were placed on the tables. This gold one happened to be near us, but there were others which were white plants or brightly decorated green trees. These ended up being door prizes at the end of our time together. 

One of the games we played was a candy jar guessing game. There were actually two things we had to guess with this game. The first was to guess how many pieces of candy there were, and the second was to guess the hidden object inside the jar. The object inside was another jar filled with candy, so it was hard to figure out the total number! There ended up being over 200 pieces of candy.

To start off our gift exchange, we were each given a numbered wooden ball. Q and I had high numbers, so by the time it was our turn, there weren't a lot of gifts left on the table. But--we could look around and choose someone else's gift if we wanted to. We both ended up getting something from the table. Q's gift was a gold-sequin pine cone ornament, and I received a couple Christmas hand towels, candle and cute snowflake ornament.

Before my number was up, Q kept telling me to take this popcorn tin from Ann. I just couldn't. She had already taken it from someone else, and I didn't want to take it from her. I told her later to hold onto that tin real tight, because Q wanted it so badly! He was okay with not getting it because I think what he really wanted to do was tease Ann!:)

We are looking forward to many more fun events like this one in our new church. How have your Christmas programs and parties been going? Let's not forget the real reason we celebrate--Jesus is the reason for the season! 

Friday, December 11, 2009

Meringue Candy Canes

I've been wanting to make these candy canes for a couple years now, and the church's Christmas party tonight gave me a good reason to try them out! 

Doesn't it just look delightful?

These meringue cookies are another great recipe from Taste of Home. It came from one of their publications called, Light and Tasty (now called Healthy Cooking). Although there's no fat in these, there is real sugar--perfect for any "sweet tooth!"

Meringue Candy Canes

3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
red paste food coloring

In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high until stiff peaks form and sugar is dissolved, about 6 minutes. Beat in peppermint extract.

Cut a small hole in the corner of a pastry bag; insert star tip #21. On the inside of the bag, brush three evenly spaced 1/4-inch strips of red food coloring from the tip to three-fourths of the way to the top of the bag. Carefully fill bag with meringue.

Pipe 3-inch candy canes onto parchment-lined baking sheets (wax paper). Bake at 225 degrees for 25 minutes; rotate baking sheets to a different oven rack. Bake 25 minutes longer or until firm to the touch. Turn oven off; leave cookies in oven with door ajar for at least 1 hour or until cool. Yield: 4 dozen

What I did differently: I used my decorator's tool (a cylinder-shape that you fill with frosting and put decorator tips at the end of it). Although it's not the same as a pastry bag, it still worked fine. The tip I used was slightly larger than the #21 one, too. I used a paintbrush to paint the food coloring (I used the gel type) inside the cylinder, then piped in the meringue inside the tube using a plastic storage bag. I also used a baking stone as one of my baking sheets--don't do this! I didn't line it with wax paper because I thought it would be okay, but a few of my candy canes broke. I also made my candy canes a little longer than three inches, so it made fewer than four dozen.

Here's my plateful of meringue candy canes for tonight! Hope everyone likes them. I tasted some of the broken pieces and they were so good. They literally melt in your mouth! Enjoy these with your family and friends---then bring some to your next Christmas gathering.

Christmas Star coasters

Tonight is our Christmas Party at church, so I've been working on a couple things to get ready for it. One part of the evening will include a gift exchange. There is an awesome coffee shop in our neighborhood that Q and I have gone to several times since moving here. We bought two gift certificates from Cannon Mine Coffee to be included in the exchange. But--I wanted to find a neat way to package them up in. So I thought, and thought some more....

Then I finally got it--why not coasters for two...goes along with the coffee theme, eh?

I made two of these....

...then two of these for the recipients!

Each Christmas star coaster measures approximately 3-3/4 inches on all sides. These were fun, quick and so simple to make. I hope those who receive them will like them. It's been very cold here these days, so a visit to the coffee shop with a spouse or friend will be fun. And--the coasters can be used at home while enjoying a cup of coffee or hot chocolate during these cold, winter nights.

I folded up the gift certificates and taped them to the top of each set of coasters. Then, I tied each stack with colorful ribbon. Easy as pie!

What have you all done for a gift exchange? I would love to hear your answers.:)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

G is for Goliath and David

Last night at our Kids' Bible Club, our theme was "G is for Goliath and David." It's the familiar story of how David used a stone and a slingshot to kill Goliath, the Philistine. God helped David conquer his foe!

Bible Time: After singing a couple songs including, "Only a boy named David," I told the story using the flannel graph set. We did a neat worksheet activity where we had to measure the pictures of David and Goliath using different objects.

We used a ruler, crayon, button and paperclip as our measurement guides. Goliath seemed to be about double the amount to that of David!

Our memory verse was part of I Samuel 17:45 which says, "Thou comest to me with a sword...but I come to thee in the name of the Lord." The game we played is another one from Child Evangelism Fellowship. It's called, "Fold the Page." I wrote the verse on a large sheet of construction paper. Then, after we practiced the verse a few times, I folded up a corner one at a time until there was nothing left to be seen!

Craft time: For our craft, we made "David's pouch of stones." At home, I made felt stones by putting a bit of fiberfill in each one and stitching around them with my sewing machine. I also cut out a piece of yarn and a 12x 12 inch piece of fabric for both Mieka and Skylar. On each stone they wrote a word to spell out the phrase, "The battle is the Lord's."

The kids put their stones on the fabric and tied it up with the yarn. I told them that they could share the story of David and Goliath with friends using their special pouch.

Snack time: I made a GIANT chocolate chip cookie to enjoy together. It went along with our Goliath theme. When we started our time together, I found out that it was Mieka's birthday. So, I found some candles in the kitchen and placed them on the "cookie cake." Unfortunately, I could not find any matches for her to blow out. We sang the birthday song to her and she pretended to blow out the candles. Lots of fun!!!

Come back next week for another exciting time at Kids' Bible Club!