Saturday, January 31, 2009

Men's wild game dinner

Last night, my husband attended a special event that our church holds each January--the men's wild game dinner.  It is promoted several weeks in advance to the men in our church so that they can begin inviting other men to attend. Since it's focus is on sharing the Gospel, they are encouraged to pray and seek out those who do not know the Lord.  Q said that over 100 men were in attendance, many of whom were visitors.

The men enjoyed a good time of feasting on lots of wild game--elk, deer, buffalo, geese, fish, boar...all cooked in different ways. Some choose to prepare their game in a stew or casserole--including lasagna!  After the meal, games are played.  One of the games they played this time was one where contestants had to cast a fishing line into a hula-hoop.  They also have everyone fill out an information card that is then put in for a drawing.  The grand prize is usually a shotgun.

At the end of the time together, men got to hear the Gospel, presented by a guest preacher. Q wasn't sure how many were saved, but he said that several raised their hands indicating that they had received Christ as Savior during the closing prayer.  Praise the Lord--this is what this event is all about!  

The above picture of Q was taken almost a year ago after his pheasant hunt with some men from church.  I thought it was appropriate to show this along with this post.  He looks so proud of his bird, doesn't he?  After taking the picture, he cleaned up the bird then cooked it for dinner.  He's quite the outdoorsmen--so opposite of me, but I love that about him.:)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Want s'more?

These s'mores bars are so delicious that you won't be satisfied with eating one--they are that good!  I made these for our teen bus team and they really loved them.  The recipe comes from a Taste of Home cookbook called, Fast Fixes with Mixes.  Enjoy these with some friends and some ice cold milk.

S'mores Bars

8-10 whole graham crackers
1 package fudge brownie mix (for 9" x 13" pan)
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup chopped peanuts

Arrange graham crackers in a single layer in a greased 9" x 13" baking pan.  Prepare the brownie batter according to package directions.  Spread over crackers.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Sprinkle with marshmallows, chocolate chips and peanuts.  Bake 5 minutes longer or until marshmallows are slightly puffed and golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack before cutting. Yield:  2 dozen ( or 12 very large bars:)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A dignified monster

I just finished making this little monster out of corduroy and red cotton fabric.  Isn't he cute?  I made my own pattern, then went off to work on this fun project.  I had seen a couple little monsters at a popular clothing store and used those as a starting point.  I added my own twist on this by adding button eyes and a bow-tie.  I plan to give him away to one of the new babies in our family that will be arriving in the spring.  I'm using the same fabric to make a matching t-shirt and corduroy pants set.  It will be a fun gift to give when it's all done.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chocolate chip cookie dough icecream

I finally did it--made my first batch of homemade ice cream!  Q bought me the ice cream maker bowl for my Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas.  It is so easy to use and it makes gourmet-quality ice cream.  We had some friends over last night to try this awesome stuff--I think we all had a second helping in our ice cream parlor glasses.

Here are the recipes I used to make it.  The ice cream recipe came from the Kitchen Aid instruction booklet and the cookie dough recipe came from a cupcake recipe from Taste of Home.  The cookie dough was used as a creamy filling in the middle of the cupcakes.  It doesn't use eggs in it and still tastes like the real thing.  Even though this recipe is specific to the Kitchen Aid ice cream maker, you should be able to adjust the measurements and/or directions for your ice cream maker.

Step #1:  Make the cookie dough so that it has enough time to chill in the freezer for a while so that it's ready to be mixed in the ice cream.

Cookie Dough 

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 Tablespoons sugar
2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

In a small mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars.  Beat in flour and confectioners' sugar until blended.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Roll into teaspoon size balls (I love this size because it's so good to bite into a big amount of dough in your ice cream.) and place them on a 9" x 13" pan that has been lined with wax paper.  Place in freezer while you chill and prepare the ice cream batter.

Step #2:  Make the ice cream!

French Vanilla Ice Cream (makes 2 quarts)

2 1/2 cups half-and-half
8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups whipping cream
4 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat half-and-half until very hot but not boiling, stirring often.  Remove from heat; set aside.

Place egg yolks and sugar in mixer bowl.  Attach bowl and wire whip to mixer.  Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until well blended and slightly thickened.  Continuing on the same speed, very gradually add half-and-half; mix until blended.  Return half-and-half mixture to medium saucepan; cook over medium heat until small bubbles form around edge and mixture is steamy, stirring constantly.  Do not boil.  Transfer half-and-half mixture into large bowl; stir in whipping cream, vanilla, and salt. Cover and chill thoroughly, at least 8 hours.

Assemble and engage freeze bowl, dasher, and drive assembly.  Turn to STIR (speed 1).  Using a container with a spout, pour mixture into freeze bowl.  Continue on same speed for 15 to 20 minutes or until desired consistency.  Immediately transfer ice cream into serving dishes, or freeze in an airtight container.

Yield:  16 servings ( 1/2 cup per serving)

Step #3:  Mix the cookie dough into the ice cream.  You can usually add in things like chocolate chips during the last couple minutes of mixing, but since I made lots of cookie dough, I decided to mix it in after I put the ice cream into a separate air-tight plastic container.  After you mix it in, cover it well and place into the freezer to "ripen" for a few hours. This gives it time to get a little stiffer in consistency and for the flavors to mesh together.

Hope you enjoy this treat as much as we did!  There's absolutely no need to wait until summer to enjoy a frozen dessert.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Thinking of you....

Here's another card I made in the past that I thought I'd show today.  I made it for a family who had lost their son/brother unexpectedly during Christmas in 2007.  I used two rubber stamps to make this.  The first one I used was the flower stamp, dipped in a red ink pad.  I like to place a sheet of paper under cards so that I can stamp along the edges so that it looks like the pattern is continuous.  The other stamp I used was the leaves stamp and I used a green ink pad to stamp these right next to the flowers.  I used a black calligraphy pen to write "Thinking of you..."  Inside the card, I wrote my own message to the family.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The candy wars

Last night, Q and I came home after watching a couple very intense basketball games.  These games were the ending of a popular week at school called Homecoming.  You remember those days of dressing up in weird clothes and competing to have the best spirit in school, right?

This year's theme was "The Candy Wars."  The teams were Reese's (7th and 8th grades), Butterfinger (9th and 10th grades), and Snicker's (11th and 12th grades).  All week long at lunch or at pep rallies, the teams competed in some fun games to win points.  The students could also win candy bars to fill up their individual team jar if they showed great spirit. One of our school parents manages a Chick-fil-a restaurant and we were able to add on a little more competition there. Each student was given blue tickets to pass out to family and friends.  When you gave a blue ticket to the cashier at Chick-fil-a, the school earned 20% of the profits, but the student also earned points for their team.  The elementary also competed in this.  It was a neat way to fundraise and raise student body spirit.

Each day also represented a certain dress up day and the students could earn points for their team that way. Since we didn't have school on Monday, the week began with a team color day on Tuesday; formal day on Wednesday (the students got to eat at a surprise restaurant location for lunch!); paper bag day on Thursday and School colors day (navy, silver and white) on Friday.

The students had fun all week long playing games, creating team posters and coming up with the craziest costumes--especially for paper bag day! I loved the hats, ties and even a Batman mask all made out of paper bags.  We have some pretty creative students.:)

During the games last night, smoothies and Chick-fil-a meals were offered at the snack shop. Between games and half time, numbers on tickets were called out for many to earn a free little cow that had a coupon for a free meal at Chick-fil-a.  We had a great time although our team did not win.  The guys' game was very intense and close, up to the last few seconds.  There were some winners in the overall competition however, and that was the Reese's team--the seventh and eighth graders! (I love to see the younger kids win!) :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A make-shift candle holder

Yesterday, my husband sent me an e-mail from work that said, "I need a candle for my office." can I be creative when things are tight and I don't have a candle holder that fits the candles I already have? 

I began looking for things around the house that would work.  This little tin can was the best thing I could come up with.  I love old tins and I've got several of them that line up sitting on top of our kitchen cabinets.  I lined the bottom and sides with aluminum foil so that it would catch the wax drippings.  I tested it out first before I took it to my husband's office today.  It worked--and now he can smell the fragrant scent of tangerine for months to come, as I've got a few more candles like it.  When he's done using the tin, I can put it back up with the other ones in my kitchen. (Or I can find more candles and he can just keep using the old tin!)

T-shirt smocking

This is one of the options that the girls had when they came over for that t-shirt decorating activity that I last posted about.  None of them wanted to try it, but I had already smocked this shirt and wore it the night they came over.

I found the idea in a book called, Alternacrafts, by Jessica Vitkus. According to the book, smocking was invented by the Anglo-Saxons centuries ago.  Today, you can find little girl dresses with a smocking design on the front of the bodice.

This is a simplified way of smocking--in fact, it doesn't take too much time and you probably have all the materials on hand.  I took a plain-colored t-shirt, then turned it inside out.  I used a dress maker's pencil to mark three rows of "x's", all about 2 inches apart. It's best to mark the first x in the center of the shirt about two inches down from the collar. That gives you a great start.  Then, work your way to the left and right of that first x and mark two more on each side. You'll then have five x's in a row. The second row will only have four x's;  start that row two inches down from the first row and place them between the five x's. Your third row will have five x's and be lined up like the first row. You need to start that row two inches down from the second row.

To sew the tucks, pinch the fabric to form a vertical pleat with an X right in the middle of it. The vertical line of the pleat should cut right through the center of the X.  Sew a stitch (using thread that matches the color of your shirt) about 1/4 inch deep, perpendicular to the pleat edge. Bring the needle and thread through the pleat three or four times and then knot the thread.  Do all of the x's this way.

When your done, turn the t-shirt inside out and you've got your own smocked t-shirt to wear!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A sweet little invitation

Every year, our youth group has a week when each youth sponsor puts on an activity for their prayer group.  The first year we did this, I had the 9th and 10th grade girls.  We had a blast decorating 4-inch double-layer cakes.  We wrapped them up in cellophane, then gave them to some of our elderly women in our church.

Last year, I had the 7th and 8th grade girls and I invited them to come over to our place to decorate t-shirts.  They had different options, but the one that they all wanted to do was applique.  About a week before the activity, I stitched up these miniature t-shirts and placed a paper invitation inside.  I used different scrap fabrics to make these teeny t-shirt pockets that literally fit in the palm of your hand.  I thought it was a neat way to invite the girls over for some fun with their tees.

I enjoyed doing both activities, but I'm thinking of doing something different this year--perhaps jewelry making!  I have a friend who is great at this sort of thing that has already offered to help me do a teen girls' activity.  I'll have to work on it soon, as the early spring will be here before we know it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The King's Heart is in the hand of the Lord

While I watched President Obama take office, I had a few thoughts whirling in my head.  The first one went back to Election Day, when many Christians were disappointed at the outcome.  I can honestly say that I was disappointed like many other believers, but not completely shocked. Our nation, once founded upon godly principles, is lacking in morality and values.

My other thought went to the unheard voices of the unborn.  Many say that our new President is the most pro-choice president we've ever had.  It is hard for me to fathom that so many think that a little baby at just a few weeks gestation is not human at all.

In summary of my thoughts this morning, the Lord gave me this verse:

"The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will."  Proverbs 21:1

God knew who would be sworn into office today, as He has directed other leaders in the past. God is the author of history and there are no surprises with Him.  I've remembered that He is in control and that He can and does change hearts.  I have vowed to pray for our new President and his cabinet.  Will you join me in upholding our new leaders in prayer? 

And, speaking of the unborn, I've got a couple links for you to check out if you're interested in learning and being a part of the pro-life movement.  Bethany, at "Happy to be called Mommy" has posted a link to get a free pro-life handbook.  Check out her blog and sign up to get one.

This week is also "pro-life" week at Focus on the Family.  You can go to to listen to their broadcasts this week.  The one I've been listening to these last two days is called, "Defeating the Darkness of Abortion" (parts 1 and 2).

Keep praying for the King's heart and trust in our Almighty God.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Provoking Thought...

Last night at church, one of our missionaries came to give a testimony and preach in the service. The Rudolph's minister in Cape Town, South Africa.  They do an amazing work and have such a great testimony for our Lord!

Mr. Rudolph preached from 2 Corinthians, focusing on chapter 2, verses 15-17:

For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:  To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.  And who is sufficient for these things?  For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God:  but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ."

His main emphasis was that of building relationships with those we want to see come to Christ. He shared several stories of how he and his family do this in South Africa.  Being a "sweet savour" to those around us means sharing the love of Christ in every day life.  He gave ideas such as having people over for dinner, engaging in simple conversations about hobbies and work, and merely just being their friend.

One provoking thought that he repeated a few times was this:  How often do we pray for and seek diligently those who we want to come to Christ?  It was such a convicting thought to me because I can think of neighbors that I know that I haven't been praying for and haven't been reaching out to.  It is time for me to start praying and take action.  Perhaps I can make a baked good or hand-made gift...or I can invite them over for some hot chocolate or dinner.  I'm sure that as I seek the Lord on this, He'll help me reach out to the lost in my neighborhood.

Will you do the same?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Spaghetti Dinner and Talent Show

Last night, our school hosted its annual spaghetti dinner and talent show. Q and I had a blast spending time with friends and watching the skits and songs presented after the dinner.

The senior class heads this up to raise money for their senior trip in the spring.  They set all the tables, serve the food, put on skits and songs themselves, then clean up afterward.  Their parents also help with the event.  The meal consisted of salad, with a choice of two dressings, garlic bread, spaghetti with meatballs and cheesecake with a few toppings to choose from.

The talent part of it all varies from year to year, but this year we saw a couple skits, a clarinet duet, a couple vocal ensembles, a "i-phone orchestra", along with a few other things.  My husband and I took part of the i-phone orchestra with a few of the staff men.  They all dressed in black and white with bow-ties.  They walked in with instrument cases, but when they opened them up, they took out their i-phones.  I was the conductor, so I had them each warm up their instruments one at a time, then together.  The i-phones have a feature where you can touch the screen and choose different instruments to play.  After the warm up, I introduced the piece, counted them in, and then a recording of a orchestrated song played as the guys pretended to play.  Of course, they exaggerated their movements--my husband jumped around the stage as he played the harmonica!  It was hilarious, and I've got it recorded on video!

Perhaps your church or school is looking for a fun event or fundraiser to do in the near future. This is a great choice. Everyone pays a certain amount for the meal, then anyone can plan in advance to put on a talent of some kind. We look forward to this every year. We always go home laughing and talking about the event.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What do you do on a cold and quiet afternoon?

Drink hot chocolate, of course!:)  Yesterday, I decided to make a hot chocolate mix recipe that I found in a magazine.  It was cold outside and I was feeling tired, so I thought I could read my Bible and work on my Bible study while sipping yummy hot chocolate.  After plopping in a little handful of marshmallows, that is exactly what I did.  It is so good to rest in the Lord and enjoy being quiet, instead of constantly moving all day, isn't it?  Well, here's the recipe.  I'm sure you'll love it!

Hot Chocolate Mix

1 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 cups powdered milk
dash salt

Mix all the contents up together in a large ziplock bag.  On the bag, write this:  Use 3 tablespoons per 6 ounces of hot water.  Makes approximately 20 servings.

I liked adding mini marshmallows to mine, but you could also add a few other things to make your hot chocolate a little different each time you make it.

1.  Add a little crushed peppermint to the mix to make your own peppermint hot chocolate.  Play around with the amount to get the exact taste you want.
2.  Add a little cinnamon to make it taste like Mexican hot chocolate.
3.  Add a few chocolate chips--milk chocolate or even white chocolate for an even bigger chocolate taste.
4.  Add caramel, raspberry or chocolate syrup topped with whipped cream--a decadent delight!
5.  Add your favorite coffee creamer flavor like hazelnut or vanilla.  You'll get that added flavor, plus your hot chocolate will be creamier.
6.  Use a peppermint stick or another flavor candy stick to stir your hot chocolate instead of using a spoon.

Getting a craving for some delicious hot chocolate?  Grab your Bible or favorite book; put on a pair of warm slippers; find a cozy chair-- and enjoy a cup!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's time to get organized!

With the start of the new year, it causes me to think about things to clean, declutter--and well, just plain get organized!  Last year, I began putting together these binders together to help me be organized with articles that I had been collecting on different topics.  I'll be working on getting these in tip-top shape, as I need to establish some categories for two of my binders. I have collected recipes and craft projects for years, and I needed a way to access them. I don't currently have them divided, but I'll divide the recipe binder like my other cookbooks: appetizers, salads, soups, main dishes, drinks, desserts, etc.  I love doing so many different crafts, but need to also separate them with dividers.  My ideas are the following:  painting, needlework, cards, scrap booking, crafts for kids, sewing, etc. 

For my other two binders, ministry and home, I've already established dividers.  I hope they are a great idea for you to organize your resources so that you've got them ready at your fingertips.

In my ministry binder, my topics include:

Women (includes Sunday School lessons/ideas)
Teens (includes lessons I've taught to my Sunday School girls)
General (poetry, missions, other Christian articles)

In my home binder, my topics include:  

Health and Safety

These are great resources for me as I continue learning how to be a better homemaker.  My husband, others, and future children, will benefit as I learn how to serve them better.  I believe God is honored when we take the time to learn how to be the woman He has designed us to be. That's why I love these binders;  they cause me to learn and enjoy being a better helpmeet, teacher, neighbor and friend.

Some homemade bread and croutons

Last night, Q and I had a couple singles over for dinner.  To go with chicken parmesan, I decided to make a salad and homemade bread. I made this classic white bread (from my Betty Crocker cookbook), then cut a few slices to make homemade croutons.  The crouton recipe comes from  She also has some other recipes that include baking mix, stuffing, sweetened condensed milk and chocolate syrup.  Making these recipes is not only fun, but also a great way to save money...and we all love doing that, right?:)

While I knead the dough by hand, I'm reminded of the Proverbs 31 woman.  Verse 17 says, "She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms."  Get out your ingredients, strengthen your arms and enjoy some hot, fresh bread and croutons.

Classic White Bread  (makes 2 loaves)

6-7 cups all-purpose or bread flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons shortening
2 packages regular or quick active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
2 1/4 cups very warm water (120-130 degrees F)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted, if desired

1.  In large bowl, stir 3 1/2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt, shortening and yeast until well mixed.  Add warm water.  Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently.  Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently.  Stir in enough remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, to make dough easy to handle.
2.  Place dough on lightly floured surface.  Knead about 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy.  Grease large bowl with shortening.  Place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides.  Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place 40-60 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.  Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
3.  Grease bottoms and sides of two 8x4-inch or 9x5-inch loaf pans with shortening or spray with cooking spray.
4.  Gently push fist into dough to deflate.  Divide dough in half.  Flatten each half with hands or rolling pin into 18x9-inch rectangle on lightly floured surface.  Roll dough up tightly, beginning at 9-inch side.  Press with thumbs to seal after each turn.  Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal.  Pinch each end of roll to seal.  Fold ends under loaf.  Place seam side down in pan.  Brush loaves lightly with butter.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place 35 to 50 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.
5.  Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven.  Heat oven to 425 degrees.
6.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.  Remove from pans to wire rack.  Brush loaves with butter;  cool.

And now for the crouton recipe...although I used fresh bread for this, you can use bread that's been in the fridge for a while, or even use hamburger or hot dog buns!  (it really works.:)

Homemade Croutons

6 slices of bread
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
sprinkling of garlic salt (to taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cube bread into desired size and toss into a bowl.  Sprinkle all of the seasonings on top of your bread cubes.  Drizzle olive oil over the cubes and then toss gently with your fingers.  When all pieces have been coated, put cubes into a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for twenty minutes.  Allow to cool.  Place in airtight container and these can be stored for up to weeks in this container.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Quick and easy snowflake coasters

I had fun this weekend doing a quick sewing project--these snowflake coasters. I made them for a friend and she loved them.  Over the holidays, I bought a copy of sew simple magazine and this project was featured in the volume 11 issue.  The coasters are made out of felt and stitched with a sewing machine.  With the project instructions, it's also suggested that you can make other coasters based upon the seasons: flowers for spring, a tropical fish for summer, pumpkins for fall, or pine trees for winter.  I can't wait to try out some different ones for a quick gift for friends and family.

I'm thinking about buying more of the sew simple magazines in the future.  It is filled with so many projects for anyone who is a beginner sewer or that just wants to do a quick and fun project.  You can go here to check out their website.  They offer lots of tips and free sewing projects.  Have fun crafting and sewing!:)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Raspberry Coconut Bars

Earlier this week, we had a special dinner for our youth sponsors.  My husband invited everyone over for a dinner of fruit salad, swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes and rolls.  He put me in charge of choosing a fancy dessert, so I checked my Taste of Home Cookbook to look for ideas.  I had noticed this recipe before, so I thought it would be good.  Some people are not too fond of coconut, but the taste and texture is pretty light and scrumptious in this recipe.  We all loved this dessert--the coconut layer reminded us of a Mounds candy bar!  Enjoy!

Raspberry Coconut Bars

1- 2/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
2-2/3 cups flaked coconut
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup seedless raspberry preserves
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup vanilla or white chips

In a small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and butter.  Press into greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish.  Sprinkle with coconut; drizzle with milk.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Spread preserves over the crust.  Sprinkle with walnuts.  In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips; stir until smooth.  Drizzle over walnuts.  Repeat with vanilla chips.  (I actually swirled both chocolates on top with a toothpick to get a neat design.) Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until chocolate-vanilla drizzle is set.  Cut into bars.  Yield:  3 dozen bars.

Friday, January 9, 2009

My "too cute tote"

One of the gifts I received for Christmas this year was this adorable tote bag from my sister-in-law. I absolutely love it!  A military wife who lives right in her area has designed several bags like this and has her own business selling these too cute totes.

It's neat to see how someone has turned their craft into a business.  I love hand made gifts. This bag has lots of room inside to put all your stuff--including a few pockets all around the interior to put small things in like your cell phone, keys, etc. It's perfect for someone who loves to have everything organized and in its place.

Check out the website to see this design and her other tote bags.  You'll love every one of them--guaranteed.

Molten Chocolate Cake

Both Quentin and I had recipes that were a tradition to eat during the Christmas season.  His family focused on a Christmas Eve dinner and my family has had a Christmas Day brunch for several years now.  I decided that it would be fun to start something new for us to enjoy making and eating together as our own new family.:)  Thus, the molten cake recipe was added!  

We decided to wait until after we got back from California to celebrate our own little Christmas.  Right before we opened gifts, we read the Christmas story and enjoyed these little treats.  I did something different with them this year; instead of adding regular chocolate to it, I used a Symphony chocolate bar--still delicious, of course!

Molten Chocolate Cakes (also called lava cakes)

4 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
6 Tablespoons flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Butter 4 (3/4 cup) custard cups (ramekins).  Place on baking sheet.  Melt chocolate and butter in a bowl.  Stir with whisk until chocolate is melted.  Stir in sugar.  Whisk in eggs and egg yolks.  Stir in flour.  Divide batter between prepared custard cups.  Bake 13-14 minutes.  Let stand 1 minute.  Carefully run small knife around cakes to loosen.  Invert cakes onto dessert dishes.  Serve immediately.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fun at the Jelly Belly Factory

One of the fun things we did during our Christmas vacation in California is go to the Jelly Belly Factory.  It is located in Fairfield, CA.  I love this picture because this is the first thing you see when you walk in.  The hanging jelly beans are huge!  Can you name each flavor in the picture?
All over the factory, jelly bean mosaics like this are hung.  Many are of famous people.  I love this one of our former President Ronald Reagan.  He was known for being the "jelly bean president."  The Jelly Belly Factory even designed a special jar for his own jelly beans to be kept in his office and Air Force One.

This was a fun activity for our entire family.  We enjoyed learning about how the jelly beans were made and eating them, too!  If you'd like to know more information about this great place, you can find it here.  Have fun!

Mia's baby box

This is Mia at Christmas just a few weeks ago.  I wanted to see the box and take a picture of it, so she happily posed with it.  This box is now kept in her closet, and it is filled with all of her special baby things.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mom's Princess Jasmine outfits

A while back, my mom made a Princess Jasmine outfit for Mia. It is so beautiful! She decided to make one for her American girl doll, too. She took the doll without Mia knowing and made the outfit. She did this all without a pattern--amazing, eh? She then put the outfit on the doll, wrapped it up and placed it under the Christmas tree. When Mia opened it up, she was so excited. I just had to take this picture of her with her doll. Her smile says it all--she loved it!

Mom's playroom curtains

During our holiday vacation we stayed with my parents.  They had us stay in the guest room/playroom.  The first thing I noticed was this set of curtains that my mom made. They are so cute! She cut rectangles from scrap fabric and sewed them together using a zig-zag stitch. It doesn't show in this picture, but she made two panels like this. On the sides of it were two panels made from a fun kid print.  It's just perfect for the playroom. Mia and Jaden enjoy playing in this room when they visit. Mom did a great job and I wanted to show case one of her works of art. She has always been so crafty and I love how she passed on that trait to me and my sisters.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tiny Treasures

For Mia's birthday this past year, I gave her an American Girl Collection book called, Tiny Treasures.  In the front cover of the book I had written that the next time I saw her that we could do a project out of the book.  

We picked out the school bag set, which included a book, folder with paper, pencil with eraser, a lunch bag, sandwich and apple.

The book bag was made out of felt and ribbon. Everything was glued together.  It is so small that it fits in the palm of your hand.  Mia made a name tag for the book bag.  She also made a book called, Giving Love.  She filled the pages with a few words and heart stickers.  She also labeled the lunch bag which was made out of brown construction paper.  The sandwich was made out of a sponge and felt.  The apple was just a round red bead with a paper stem and leaf.  The napkin was cut from a larger one.  The red folder included lined paper to write notes in.  I think our favorite part was the pencil.  It was made out of a toothpick!  We used markers to color it and snipped off a little piece of an eraser to glue on the top.  It doesn't actually write, but, it does look like the real thing--just miniaturized!

Fun with paper quilling

Jaden wanted to get involved with us, so I gave him a strip of paper and a pencil to twirl.  All in all, this is a great and fun project to do with kids. The first time I heard of it was at a teacher's convention, where an experienced art teacher told us about it.  It is a quite unique type of art and perhaps one that not a lot of people do.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Hide and Seek Pillows

This is me and Jaden playing with his pillow.  He's almost three years old and he loved it.  He sat down with me for a long time looking for all the objects.  This activity is perfect for quiet times at home or for a long car ride. My sister had the idea to take off the tag so that she could say each thing out loud in the car as her kids searched for each item.  I took one to church one day when I had to be in the toddler nursery.  These kids loved it as well--lots of fun, and educational, too!

A unique family heirloom craft

This is the completed shirt...a treasure that I know she loves.  I hope to do this for others in the family some day.  There are a couple other pictures that I really like in the scrapbook that will be fun to do.  Another idea I had is to do embroidery stitches instead of paint--what do ya think?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Captain Jaden's treasures

Here's the back of the cape.  I made it the same size as I did for Annalina's princess cape.  It's a little long on Jaden now, but he'll grow into it.  I found the graphic of the skull and crossbones online and copied it onto white felt.  I painted the eyes and features on after I stitched it onto the cape using my machine.  On the crossbones, I hand-painted Jaden's initials.  Capes are lots of fun and sooo easy to make!  I'd love to make Jaden another one--perhaps a Superman cape since he's into super heros, too.

A set of pj's and toy for little Ross

I made this pajama outfit for our nephew Ross.  I found the "Crab Patrol" fabric at Joann's.  I used the picture of the crab on the fabric to make a big one to applique onto the t-shirt.  I used red felt for his body, white felt and black paint for his eyes, and a narrow white ribbon for his mouth.  I used my sewing machine to stitch all the way around the crab.  The pajama pants were made using Simplicity pattern #5271.
I could not resist making this crab toy to go with Ross's pajamas.  I used Simplicity craft pattern #8091 to make my very first bean bag toy.  I found the pattern brand new at a thrift store a while back with the hopes of learning how to make these.  The pattern includes several other fun animals to make like a snake or lady bug.  I used fleece for his body, embroidery floss for his feelers, and plastic eyes for the outside of him.  For the inside, I stuffed his legs with fiberfill and his main body with bean bag pellets.  Most of it was sewn with my machine; after filling the body with the pellets, I had to do a ladder stitch on the underside of him.  

Last I heard, Ross was playing with his little crab, hanging him around his neck--wish I could have seen him.:)  It's so rewarding to make things that you know people will love and cherish for years to come.

Canon's tic-tac-toe tin

Here's the inside of the box, decorated with patriotic colors and stars.  I spelled, "Hi Canon" on the inside cover for him to see when he opened it for the first time.  You can see the button and flap I made on the pouch to keep all the magnet letters stored.  The pouch, buttons, score pad (just a down-sized sticky note pad) and pencil can all be stored neatly and taken where ever Canon goes.  Sounds like fun, eh?  I wonder if I can make any other games into a portable one like this...any suggestions?:) 

Saturday, January 3, 2009