Saturday, February 28, 2009

A trip to Camp Eden...

Last fall at our annual teacher's convention, I won a free trip to Camp Eden for one of my classes. I took my sr. high choir up there yesterday to give them some extra time to polish up their songs before our state competition next month---and to have some fun up in the mountains, too.  I asked Mr. Ed Massey to be our guest conductor for the day.  He lives in the Denver area and used to teach choir on different levels for many years.  Now, he has his own business, but still helps choirs and choir directors (a newbie like me!) from time to time.

After our hour and a half drive, we began by doing some breathing exercises and had a devotional time.  Mr. Massey talked to the students about the importance of words and how we must praise the Lord with what we say.  Following that time, we had a choir practice, girls' ensemble practice (free time for the guys), and lunch.  After lunch, we had another choir practice! A few of my students were not able to attend due to illness, but I know that the ones who were able to come benefited greatly from all the choir practices.

It was amazing for me to see some of the things that Mr. Massey was teaching the students and hearing them sing.  It was also encouraging for me to know that I was doing some of the same things at school--and here they were hearing it again from a different person.  He had me do some of the conducting and even taught me a couple new things. 

For a couple hours in the afternoon, there were some activities available for the teens to do. The first thing they did was do a hike up Judson's hill.  Here are a few of my guys smiling at the camera with the wonderful view in the background.  My husband went up with them and said it was quite windy up there.  They all had a great time together hiking and seeing God's creation.

After the hike, we all went to the activity center and played ball games, card games, or played the piano like Sarah and Brooke did.  Another thing that they were able to do all day was to write encouraging notes to one another.  Next week, we are making a poster full of pictures of the day and will put these notes on there.  It will be a neat thing for them to see and for their classmates to see as well.

Before we left, we had this group photo taken.  Next to me is one of my good friends, Shelly, who came to play the piano for us. A couple of the teen ladies help play the piano for class, but I wanted them to benefit more with what we wanted to accomplish vocally.

We had such a great time together and I'm so glad we were able to do this.  The folks at Camp Eden did a wonderful job helping put this special day together, and we were thankful for Mr. Massey who came to be an encouragement to us. Right before we left, we had a praise and testimony time.  Some of the students shared that they were excited for all they had learned and were excited about our competition in a couple weeks.  On the drive home, my heart was blessed as I continued to hear great things from the mouths of these teens.  I believe that God used this day to encourage us all to sing our best for Him and not to hide our talents.  I hope and pray that the students will be such a positive impact to the others at school.

And...we all can't wait to perform at the competition and do well with our scores!  I'll keep you all posted on how we do.:)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The amazing toilet bowl scrubber!

This might seem weird to be talking about cleaning the toilet, but I had to tell you about a way that we've been saving money this way.

You know the plastic scrubbers (with disposable sponges) that you can buy at almost any retail store? Well, they are so expensive!  After you run out of the sponges, you have to keep buying packs of refills (usually 4 in a box) and it could run you 3-4 dollars every time--yikes!  So, I came up with a way to save money, but still have the convenience of using that plastic holder so that my hands stay clean.

All you've got to do is go to the dollar store (or Wal-mart), buy a pack of sponges and cut them in half. My last package of sponges were a pack of six, so I came out with 12 mini sponges to attach to the plastic holder.  I used a pair of scissors to slice open the bottom of the sponge to insert the tip of the holder.  And that's it!  I use my own bathroom cleaner to spray the inside and outside of the toilet, wait a few minutes, then scrub away!  When you're done, throw away the sponge and rinse the plastic holder.  

So, there you have it--hope this give you an idea on how to save money and keep your toilet bowl sparking clean. :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stitched birthday card and coupons for Pa

The decorative paper on the edges of these coupons were stitched on as well--why not, right?  I also used fun stickers on these coupons. One coupon entitles him to a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies (he loved these when I was living at home), and the other for a trip to Cinnabon with me and Q to enjoy a warm cinnamon roll with a glass of milk (one of his favorite treats at the mall).  I know he'll like these, but I also know that he'll remember to redeem them as soon as we see each other again.

Pa, if you're reading this--happy birthday from me and Quentin.  We love you!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Children of Israel stick puppets

In our K4/K5 jr. church, we just finished the lesson series on Joshua. Most of the time, we'll have the kids color a picture to go with the story, but sometimes, I'll come up with something different for them to do.

We made stick puppets yesterday, and the kids thought they were great! I drew a picture of Joshua, then drew a family to represent the children of Israel. After making photocopies, I cut around the pictures, then gave them to the kids to color.  We only had clothespins on hand at church, so that's what we used to clip the pictures on to. (We could have used popsicle sticks, too.) We told them that they could now tell the story to their parents or siblings when they got home. I have found a couple sites that have coloring pages and activities that correspond with Bible stories if you'd like to check them out.  Look here and here for inspiration!

I have found in my years of teaching that kids love the simplest things. This project was a simple one, but one that allowed them to be creative and to think about the stories they have learned.  Give them some paper, crayon and popsicle sticks and see where their imaginations take them.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Project Jerusalem update

Just a couple days ago, we received this invitation card in the mail. It was from our church's Project Jerusalem outreach.  Since our neighborhood was the first to get door hangers, it was also the first to get these mailings. 

In the coming weeks, more neighborhoods in our city will receive door hangers then get the card in the mail.  The third and final form of contact is visitation from a church member.  I wonder who will be knocking at our door very soon?  More than likely it will be someone we know!  Q and I plan to continue going out on these Saturday outreaches to take part in something that God wants us to do--reach out to others and tell them about the Lord.  I can't wait to see how God is going to use this endeavor in our community and in our church.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Embroidery-stitched bookmark

A little while ago, I finished this bookmark for my sister-in-law, who's having a birthday in just a few days.  I included it with her birthday card and mailed it her way.

I layered two different fabrics on top of one another, back and forth until the paper bookmark was covered. Then I stitched an embroidery design or a basic stitch on each strip of fabric.  When that was completed, I glued another piece of fabric to the back side of the bookmark.  I then braided red embroidery floss and knotted the ends.  I cut a slit on the top of the book mark to put the floss through, then finished by knotting it on top.

And, there you have it--a simple and fun cloth bookmark! This didn't take too long to make either.  I'd love to try different stitches on my machine as well as different fabrics in the future. These make great little gifts for any book lover of any age.

A voice for the unborn

You just have to listen to an awesome pro-life speech that my husband sent me a link to today.  It was given by a 12-year-old girl who entered this for a speech contest despite others persuading her not to do it. Now, it's on the web for all to see and hear.  I pray that it will motivate you to be an activist in the pro-life movement--whether you pray, send letters or minister to pregnant women who are trying to make a decision, you are being a voice for the unborn! Continue to pray for our nation and its leaders with this important issue.

Now, click here to listen and be encouraged to what this young lady has to say.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dinner for Eight

Tonight, we joined a few others from our church for a Dinner for 8. Quentin and I have been to a few of these and have enjoyed them all. Our meal was hosted by three widows (all pictured on the left), which gave us nine people, instead of the usual eight.

Each person/couple is to bring a part of the meal--appetizer, salad, bread, main course, or dessert.  We always have a great selection and go home full to the max!  Our meal tonight consisted of deviled eggs, scalloped potatoes with ham, a broccoli-stuffing bake, veggies in cheese sauce, biscuits, salad and a frozen strawberry dessert.

What we all enjoy best about this activity is the time that we get know one another better. With a growing church, we sometimes miss the new folks that have been visiting the church for a while.  Dinner for 8 is something we do every few months and it's never the same, as there's always a new location and a new group of people to have fun with. After our meal, we played a few rounds of dominoes...lots of laughs with our new and old friends alike.

Perhaps this is the something your church has been wanting to do, or maybe you've not heard of this before.  In either case, consider having Dinner for 8 as part of your church ministry.  It promotes unity and encourages everyone involved.  

And, one more thing---you'll get to enjoy great food (and maybe try something new)!

What to do in the wilderness

A couple weeks ago, my pastor gave an excellent message that brought tears to my eyes.  I ordered a copy of the message because I wanted to listen to it again and take notes so that I would remember the important truths that he shared.

The message was called, What to do in the wilderness.  I thought I'd share his points and tell you how it has encouraged my heart.  He spoke from Luke 4, where it speaks about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness.  Sometimes we don't understand why we're in the "wilderness", but God is in control and it's all part of His plan.  With my physical condition and upcoming surgery, I've sometimes wondered why, but when I try to look at it from an eternal perspective, I know it's all for good.

Here's what my pastor shared....

1.  Recognize that you are there by His design. (Mark 1:11-12)
Don't question God.  He's preparing you for other things.  Many individuals in Bible times were taken alone in the wilderness, but it was all for good.  (ex: Moses) 

2.  Rest in Who is there with you. (John 14:16)
In the middle of the desert, we must remember who's with us.  Jesus says, "I am with you alway."  Psalm 23 tells us that the Lord is with us and that He comforts us.

3.  Realize there are times in the wilderness that only you and the Spirit can understand. (ex: Christ's 40 days of temptation)
Don't be frustrated when others don't understand.  Don't depend on even that good friend to always be there--trust in the One who loves and care about you more.

4.  Rejoice that usefulness follows wilderness. (Luke 4:13-14)
Have availability...say, "Here am I."  Don't jump out of the wilderness until God leads you.  He will bring you out in His good time.  I Peter 5:10 says, "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."

I love that final verse shared, because it speaks right to what I'm going through.  Even though I'm not going through temptation, I have struggled at times with the physical difficulties I've been having.  I know that through this, God is working in my life in so many areas and I hope to be an encouragement to women in the future who may find themselves in the same circumstances.  I want God to be glorified, even while I'm waiting in the wilderness.  God has been with me through the tears and doctor's visits.  I know that He will continue to see me through.

By the way, I'll be having surgery in about a month.  It will be soon after I take my choirs to state competition.  I'll have time to rest and recover before going back to finish the school year. I covet your prayers, even now as I wait, having some discomfort and pain. (I have written past posts under health, if you'd like to know more.)

Just another quick note...if you go to my church or are a part of our school, please keep my surgery information quiet until we share it right before the surgery.  Since some of the info. regarding my surgery is of a private nature, Q and I would like to be the ones to share it in an appropriate manner.  Thanks.:)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What I listen to while I work....

Whether I'm cleaning the house or working on a sewing project, I love to either listen to music or to radio podcasts on the internet.  My favorite place to go is Focus on the Family. You can listen to these radio shows on a variety of topics including, marriage, kids, national news, and reviews on entertainment--all from a Christian perspective.

One thing I recently signed up for on the website is "My family."  It's designed to fit the stage of life you're currently in.  So, when I open up to the Focus on the Family website, it immediately goes to my page and there I can find articles to read and podcasts to listen to, all geared to my young married status. If you are single, have young kids or teens, or retired, they can make a unique "My family" page just for you.

A favorite selection of shows that I have enjoyed for years is Adventures in Odyssey.  You can click right on to listen to the show for the day.  You can even backtrack and listen to past shows.  I'm a huge kid at heart and love the humor and simplicity of these shows.  At the end of each one, a Scripture verse is shared that goes along with the story.

A couple summers ago, Q and I were able to go to Colorado Springs, CO and see the headquarters at Focus on the Family.  We took a tour, visited Whit's End (a fun place for kids of all ages), and went home with a sample of their popular magazines. This is such a great ministry and they can use our prayers as they minister to families around the nation. Listen to their encouraging podcasts; read their Bible-based articles; and even visit their headquarters when you get the opportunity.  Your heart will be blessed as you grow in the Lord through the ministry of Focus on the Family.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How do you like the new look?

I've been working for quite a while today trying to make my blog look prettier. I hope you all like the new look!  I like the way it looks now, but beware...I may be tweaking it some more in the near future.  I love the background--it actually looks like the inside of a decorated package and these ideas for creative ministry are literally outside the box!  Have a great night.  Until next time....

Mission Project Ski Fest

My husband, along with about 20 teens and a couple youth sponsors, went up to the snowy mountains for the annual Ski Fest yesterday.  This event, held each President's Day, has changed a bit the last couple years, making it a mission project as well. Each person was given a plastic baggie with five gospel tracts.  As they went on ski lifts or sat in the lodge, they were to make conversation with someone and leave them with a tract.  Q said that the entire day went well--no injuries, lots of fun, and people were given the Gospel.

The above picture is Q with one of our youth sponsors, Mr. Wells.  I did ask Q's permission to post this picture as he doesn't look quite himself with that hat on!  He told me that he wore it all day with those sunglasses.  It is a Russian hat (don't remember the real name for it), and was given to him by his dad, who travels for A.C.E. all over the world.  Q's quite the character; I just love his sense of humor and how it draws the teens and those he comes in contact with.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sweetness on a special day

Along with the card, I gave him a little sack full of real licorice pieces.  I cut out a circle out of sparkly red felt, then cut slits all around the edges of it.  I cut out a strip of the matching rose fabric and did some weaving in and out of those slits.  When that was completed, I pulled the two ends together to gather it into a little bundle and tied it into a bow.  I used the same fabric to tie a bow around a large bar of Kit-Kat, another one of his favorite treats.

Today after church, we went to Enzio's Italian Kitchen for our final valentine celebration.  We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, especially the dessert.  It was called, "Chocolate Torte for Two." The flourless chocolate cake was shaped into a heart, then had a chocolate ganache on top of it and strawberry sauce on the bottom of it.  Strawberry slices and a little scoop of vanilla ice cream were placed on the sides of the rich and delicious!

Valentine's Day is a great day to express your love to your spouse, family and friends, but I'm always reminded of a couple things on this day:  first, I don't have to wait until Valentine's Day to show my love. Cards, flowers and chocolates are special, but it's the kind words and actions of love that we should be expressing to one another every day. Secondly, I'm reminded of God's love for us on a daily basis. He consistently gives grace, provides for our needs and loves us no matter what!  I guess the list can go on with all the things that God does for us all the time, right? Reflect on that, not just during this holiday time, but every day. Let's give love back to the One who loves us the most by spending time with Him and glorifying Him each and every day of our lives.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Senior Saint Valentine Banquet

For our banquet meal we enjoyed clam chowder, tortellini with alfredo sauce, choice of turkey or roast beef, pineapple wedges and mini cherry cheese cakes for dessert.  The teens served their senior guests their meal as well as their choice of drinks:  coffee, punch or water.  

After our meal, we enjoyed the program put on by the teens.  A brother-sister team were the m.c.'s, introducing each part of the entertaining program.  We played a "getting-to-know-you" game, watched a couple skits (in which one of them called for a few participants), listened to an ensemble sing a sacred piece, and hear my husband give a devotional.

Here's my husband after the banquet, tired and ready to head home.  He wanted to try on the bull horns and had me take this picture of him.:)  I made these for one of the skits.  I used craft paper, fiberfill and my sewing machine to make this one-of-a-kind hat.  It was a little tricky sewing it on the machine, but this is what worked (packaging tape did not work!).

We have been resting tonight because of the long and busy two days getting ready for this banquet.  But, I will say this--it was all worth it!  The teens did an awesome job and the senior saints left encouraged and blessed.  Praise the Lord!

Friday, February 13, 2009

A reversible super hero cape

Here's the close up of the spider applique that I made from black felt.  It was quite tricky to stitch this up, as the legs are thin and curvy.  I love my babylock sewing machine though--it really can do wonders and make doing things like this so easy!

I can't wait to hear how Jaden likes his new cape.  During this past Christmas, I found out that he loves anything and everything superman. If I get pictures of him wearing it, I'll add it to this post.

Hand-painted car hooks

I found unpainted wooden car hooks in the clearance bin at Michael's several months ago. When I bought them, I immediately thought of my nephew, Isaiah, who has a car theme in his room.  I painted each one in a primary color--red, blue, yellow and green.  Then, I came up with a design for each one.  I wanted each one to include a couple of the main colors, and even added the color orange to two of them.  When several coats of paint were done, I signed my initials and the year on the back of each one.  Finally, I sprayed a glossy varnish on them to make them look sharp.

Isaiah's birthday is next week, so I've already shipped them out.  I know he'll like adding these hooks to his bedroom.  He can use them for hanging his back pack, jacket, baseball caps, or whatever else he likes.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentines for my girls

I had so much fun making these felt and vinyl keychains for my jr. high girls.  I am their leader for prayer time each Wednesday night at youth meeting.  

I cut out two pieces of pink felt, approximately 3"by 3 and 1/2".  I cut out a smaller square from one of the squares of felt for the vinyl window, about 2" by 2".  Vinyl is pretty easy to sew on if you place a piece of tissue paper underneath it while sewing it on.  After stitching the vinyl on, tear away the tissue paper.  The next thing I did was sew the two pieces together using a decorative stitch.  I love this heart stitch.  When that was completed, I glued on felt hearts and ribbon (so that they can tie these anywhere, like a school bag).  I also glued on a small piece of velcro so that the top could be closed. For the finishing touch, I wrote, "I love (heart) u" on the top of each one with fabric paint.

As a special surprise, I placed a Bible verse card in each one, along with a few candy hearts.  The girls loved them!  They can use these wallet-keychains for holding money, a picture, chapstick or just about any little thing that they want. Before making nine of these for the jr. high girls, I made up a sample one and sent it to one of my nieces who is five years old.  I'm sure she'll love it, too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A delight for the Curious George fan

The book, The Journey That Saved Curious George by Louise Borden is a keeper!  I'm so glad I bought this book which I'd been keeping on my list of "books to buy" list for a long time.  I bought it with a Barnes and Noble gift card on-line. In fact, I got it through a book distributor that sells through B & N, and only paid a fraction of what it normally sells for.

To summarize the story, the author shares the lives of Margret and H. A. Rey, the creators of Curious George. It tells some of their growing up years and is extensive on their journey out of Paris during World War II. Along with their few possessions at the time, they traveled with the manuscript of The Adventures of Fifi (later renamed, Curious George). And...well, you'll just have to read the rest of the story to find out how the Rey's and George make it at the end.  I loved all the drawings and pictures and I learned a bit of history along the way, too.

I've been a Curious George reader for a long time and I loved getting to know a bit about the authors through reading this book.  I know that you and your family will enjoy reading more about the curious little monkey who always got into trouble!

Monday, February 9, 2009

And the winner is....

My favorite thing out of my prize bag was this set of measuring spoons. They are so cute!  I love how they say smidgen, pinch and dash.:)

Okay, now for the recipe...I know you're dying to have it!  It's now an award-winning recipe. It comes from Taste of Home, and it's guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser. I love it's sweet and nutty flavor--not like the super-sweet taste of regular pecan pies.

Caramel-Pecan Cheesecake Pie

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 unbaked pastry shell (9 inches)
1-1/4 cups chopped pecans
1 cup caramel ice cream topping

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, 1 egg and vanilla until smooth. Spread into pastry shell; sprinkle with pecans. In a small bowl, whisk remaining eggs; gradually whisk in caramel topping until blended. Pour over pecans.  Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until lightly browned (loosely cover with foil after 20 minutes if pie browns too quickly). Cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight before slicing. If desired, drizzle extra caramel sauce over pie. Refrigerate leftovers.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Teen girls sunday school activity

After eating our snacks, we played a getting-to-know-you game, charades and had a time of sharing testimonies and praises at the end. There were a couple door prizes that the girls could win, too. Whoever guessed the right amount of gum balls in the jar got to keep them all! The name who was drawn from a little bowl got to keep the lavender body butter.

I thought this activity turned out so well.  We shared lots of laughs and got to know the girls a bit better.

Project Jerusalem

Our church has begun an amazing outreach program called, "Project Jerusalem."  Yesterday was our first Saturday to take part of this 3-month endeavor.  Our goal is to reach our entire city through three different contacts:  door hangers, mail-outs and visitation.  Not only do we want folks to come visit our church, but we want to be a witness to them and see many come to know the Lord as Savior.

My husband and I tagged team with another married couple putting door hangers on one hundred homes.  All of the groups that went out went to areas near the church.  Q and I happen to live close to the church so when we got home, what do you think we saw?  Yup, a door hanger that said, "Come and See" with the name of our church on it.

This is an awesome idea for your church if you're trying to think of a new way to reach out to your community.  I'm so glad for the many that came out to be a part of this yesterday.  I will give updates as we continue being a part of this.  It will be so neat to meet people that get saved or become part of our church because of the prayer and efforts we put into this.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Coconut almond granola

Good morning!  This is the first time I've ever made a recipe for granola.  Q and I have enjoyed eating this for the past couple of mornings.  It is healthy, filling and such a great way to start your day. The recipe comes from Taste of Home's Cooking for 2.  

Coconut Almond Granola

3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups quick-cooking oats
3 tablespoons flaked coconut
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
3 tablespoons sliced almonds

In an ungreased 1-1/2 quart baking dish, combine the oil, honey and extract.  Stir in the oats, coconut and milk powder.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the almonds.  Cool.  Store in a covered container.  Yield:  3 cups

Other variations: 

1.  Instead of using almonds, use chopped peanuts, pecans or walnuts.
2.  Instead of using the almond extract, how about using vanilla or anise extract.
3.  Along with the coconut, add raisins, chocolate chips and/or dried fruit.
4.  Granola makes a super topping on yogurt, pudding or ice cream.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Jesus loves kids!

The Lord gave me an opportunity this week to share a story in the 1-3 grade chapel at the Christian school where I teach at part-time. Since it is February, I wanted to find a lesson that spoke on the love of God.

I looked through my file box full of visualized stories and found one entitled, "Jesus Loves Kids!"  For about ten years, I subscribed to a magazine called Evangelizing Today's Child (now called, Teach Kids!). In the magazine are tons of ideas for use in the Sunday School class, junior church, VBS and Christian school.  Each volume included a visualized story that you could laminate and put in your files.  I'm not sure how many I have, but I do have plenty.  I used so many when I taught elementary school full-time, as well as using them for other church ministries.

The lesson, "Jesus Loves Kids!" focused on a few main points:

1.  Jesus made the way for our sins to be forgiven.
2.  Jesus showed His disciples that He loves children.
3.  Jesus understands what it is like to be a child.
4.  Jesus did miracles that involved children.
5.  Jesus loves to hear children praise Him.

For each of these points, I showed the corresponding picture and shared Bible verses.  It was such an encouraging lesson to all the children.  To know that Jesus loves us when things are not going the best at home or when we sin is such an incredible promise!

The lesson included other activities and visuals to do, but I decided to do something on my own.  Throughout the story, the verse, Mark 5:14 is emphasized.  It says, "Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not; for such is the kingdom of God."  Every couple minutes during the story, I had the students recite the verse--once standing up, once in their seats and once using their quietest voices.

At the end of the lesson, we played a review game.  I made a large paper heart and wrote on it the phrase, "Jesus loves you no matter what!"  I cut it into large pieces and placed sticky tack on the back of it. There was a white board in the room and I used that to draw a heart (the same size as my paper heart) with Mark 5:14 on it. I placed the pieces below the drawn heart randomly on the white board.  I made up questions from the story and asked them to the students.  Each time a correct answer was given, that student was to place a piece of the heart in the right spot on the drawn heart.  After every couple puzzle pieces placed, we had to recite the verse.  During this game, the verse slowly disappeared as the paper heart was put back together.  The students also tried to guess what the heart would say at the end.  They really seemed to enjoy this game, and I loved making it to go along with the story.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Antique food prints

These antique food prints hang on our dining room wall.  They really tie in with my old tin can collection in my kitchen, which is the room next door.  I found these prints affordably (between 2-4 dollars each) at an antique store in town last year.  I already had a couple frames on hand, but every time I went to the thrift store, I searched for two more frames until I found the right ones to complete the collection. I took each picture and glued them to white paper, then framed them.  It was that easy!  I may find a couple more to add to the collection because they are so neat to look at.  I love old things for the unique look they give.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dulce de leche banana cream pie

It's that time of year again--the annual pie baking contest at our church is this coming Sunday and I can't wait!  I have just chosen what pie I'll be doing this year, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share with you this delicious pie that I made for last year's contest.  I didn't win a prize, but many told me that they enjoyed eating their little slice of this pie.  If you love the combination of banana and caramel, this treat is for you.

dulce de leche banana cream pie

2 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 9-inch pie crust (store-bought or homemade)
3 medium bananas
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sour cream

1.  Heat condensed milk in unopened cans in a pot of boiling water for 4 hours.  Cool completely before opening.  The milk turns into dulce de leche when it has cooled.
2.  While cans of condensed milk are cooling, bake crust according to directions.  Cool on a wire rack.
3.  Slice 2 bananas.  Spread half of dulce de leche in crust; top with sliced bananas.  Spread remaining dulce de leche over bananas.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
4.  Just before serving, combine heavy cream and sour cream in a bowl.  Whip, using a mixer on high speed, until soft peaks form.  Spread over pie.  Slice remaining banana and use to garnish pie.  If you have any caramel sauce on hand, drizzle over the pie as well.

Absolute yumminess--enjoy!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

An awesome thrift store find!

I will describe each page of the book so that you can get a glimpse of this treasure I now have in my hands.  I was unable to download all the pictures, but hope that these few will give you an idea on this great hand-made book.

Cover:  My Quiet Book (with appliqued duck on front)

Inside cover:  "We will have so much fun together my quiet book and I, I will look at it and not disturb the folks who are close by.  Property of--"

Page 1:  Pet me, I'm soft  (little furry bear to touch)

Page 2:  Stop! Wait! Go! (red, yellow and green street lights that come on and off with velcro)

Page 3:  Button my shirt !  (picture shown above)

Page 4:  Try me on!  (mitten)

Page 5:  Tie my shoe (with real laces)

Page 7:  Bow Wow!  Come play with me.  (little dog is attached to a leash and come out of its dog house to play.)

Pages 8 and 9:  Count the wheels on the train.

Page 10:  What time is it?  (The hands really move!)

Page 11:  Put the apples in the basket.  (The apples are attached to the tree with snaps.)

Page 12:  Peek inside!  (It's a teepee and you can open the flaps to see an Indian boy.)

Page 13:  Put me in my cage.  (Place the furry rabbit in a cage pocket.  He's attached with a snap.)

Page 14:  Braid my hair (little girl with yarn hair that can be braided)

Page 15:  Zip the bag!  (sleeping bag with zipper)

Page 16:  Surprise!  There was nothing inside his mouth, so I thought I could make a banana or cookie out of felt.

Isn't this great?  I can't wait to make my own "quiet book."  It's so much fun!

Monday, February 2, 2009

His mercies are new every morning

The Lord has reminded of the verses in the Bible that say, 

"It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning:  great is thy faithfulness."  Lamentations 3:22-23

Every day when I wake up and open the curtains, I'm reminded that today is a brand new day that I can serve God with. Each day is a gift and we must use it to the fullest.  God's mercies toward us are new each day. He is faithful to forgive our sins, show compassion and continues to love us with His everlasting love. Sometimes I get discouraged with sin and failures and think that God can't use me. But I know this isn't true. God continually shows us His grace and mercy, and uses us just as we are.

Isn't that a wonderful promise?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Two new hide and seek pillows

This little star is for Ethan.  I used fabric paint to decorate both of them. Each has their initials on their pillow, as well as a tag indicating what objects they need to find inside....lots of fun!

Super cute dishwasher magnets

Oh, the "dirty" magnet--wish I didn't have to use this one and that everything would stay clean! I thought that these can also be made with an assortment of scrapbooking materials.  Instead of using fabric, decorative paper can be the background, and ribbons, decorative buttons and rub-on letters could be used.  I also thought these would make awesome stocking stuffers or be part of a kitchen basket filled with towels and accessories to give to someone that's moving into a new home.