Saturday, February 27, 2010

Three stores, $17, and some fabulous finds!

I love good deals, don't you? Going to thrift stores has been a part of my life since I was a kid. My sisters and I got our "new" clothes at Saver's as we began each school year. Through the years, I've learned that with some praying and ample time searching through the racks, awesome bargains can be found. It's good to find out about those extra savings days to get an even better deal. A lot of times I will go in with a list in hand (or in mind) so that I don't buy things I don't need.

However, there are times when Q and I will go to a thrift store and we'll find something that we may not need, but is simply just for fun. This past weekend, I scoured through three stores with some money in hand. Most of the items I bought are not really needed at this time in our lives, but were simply things of educational value, for my craft stash, or for some fun!

My first stop was at a new thrift store right here in Lafayette. I went to Sister Carmen Community Center. It was there where I spent just $5 and got the best deals out of all the stores!

My first find at Sister Carmen's was this Nativity advent calendar. I've wanted one for quite some time, so I was excited to find this one for just a buck. There are three missing pieces, so I think I'll be able to make a couple stars easily, as well as a baby Jesus. The calendar is in great condition and will be a nice decoration for next Christmas.

I also found two other Christmas decorations, a children's mouse mask, clothing and some Little Golden books. Take a look at my new cute skirt for this coming spring and summer...

All adult clothing there is just ninety-nine cents! I also found a pair of knee-length shorts that were brand new that I can't wait to wear when the weather gets warmer.

I found a few children's books at both Sister Carmen's and Saver's in Boulder. For years, I've collected Little Golden books. Both Q and I have some from when we were kids that we've enjoyed sharing with the little people who come visit us. When I look for these, I look for older editions, classic stories and ones with beautiful illustrations. The ones I bought were all older Disney classics (I'm not too keen on the newer Disney ones). I also found Pat the Bunny--a great baby and toddler book I've had my eye on for a long time!

I also bought a cute jumper and this Fisher-Price music toy at Saver's. I remember playing with one of these when I was a little kid. It plays two songs while the screen changes the pictures. It was too good to pass up at $3--yeah! 

While Q and I were at Nederland, we found a tiny thrift store to go to. There we found a beautiful wooden puzzle of the United States that we both really liked. Then, I found a box that had a weaving loom kit. This has been something I've wanted for a long time, so I'm glad I bought it for just $2! It may be something I can use when kids come over or in children's ministry. I'm really excited!

We got some awesome deals for the $17 spent at all three stores. I will definitely be visiting Sister Carmen's again in the future...most likely with a list of needed items. It may be a while before I go again just for those fun items!

Have any of you had some good deals at thrift stores lately? Do you have any more tips on saving even more money at these stores? I would love to hear your ideas!:)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Some time away with my Q

When Q told me yesterday that he'd like to do something fun today, I got really excited. It's been a busy and hard week, so we both needed some time to relax and get away for a few hours. After a restful morning, we headed to Boulder and did some shopping. For lunch, we went to the Cheesecake Factory. Their food is always sooo good!

My brother-in-law, Jesse, got me hooked on these sweet corn tamale cakes. I haven't had them in a long time, so they tasted really good today. Q and I shared this as well as the main meal. He chose beef ribs that were so tender and flavorful.

The rib meal also came with fries and onion rings. We had a coupon for a free slice of cheesecake, but since we got so full with the other food, we decided to take it home to eat it. We chose their lemon-raspberry cheesecake. It was an awesome sweet ending to our date today.

After lunch, we went to the town of Lyons, where the Madhava Honey Company is located. Inside the shop, was this beehive where you could see the honey being produced. It was really fascinating. We also bought some honey to enjoy at home. 

Our last stop was in the little town of Nederland. We had fun going to some of the shops and enjoying some hot chocolate afterward.

I'm so thankful for my Q and the times we get to do this. I enjoy every moment we get to spend together. 

I love you, Q! Thanks for giving me another memorable day with you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chocolate Chess Pie

Have you ever heard of chess pie before? It's basically a sugar pie made with just a few ingredients. I first heard of it a few years ago, when it was a dessert option at a friends' gathering. Our former pastor, Pastor Redlin, loves this pie that his wife makes for him.

One day when I was looking for a way to use up some left over evaporated milk, I came across a recipe for chocolate chess pie on I made it for a funeral lunch and then again for Pastor Redlin when he was out here for Q's installation service. 

Q really loves this pie, so I made it again last night. Doesn't it look like a scrumptious fudgy brownie?

Enjoy a slice with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on the side. You won't be disappointed. ;)

Chocolate Chess Pie

*Makes a 9-inch pie

1-1/2 cups white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I actually do 5 to make it more chocolatey!)
2 eggs
1 (5 ounce) can evaporated milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (9-inch) pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix sugar and cocoa together. Beat the eggs then add to the cocoa mixture. Beat in the milk, butter and vanilla. Pour mixture into 9-inch unbaked pie shell and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until set. Let cool before slicing.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fun with Fern and Wilbur

This past week was my last one with Kyla. I began watching her the first week of January. It was a long stretch, but it was fun doing activities with her and having a little shadow following me around. 

During the first week, I began a daily routine with her, one of them being a story time. One day I asked her to get me a couple books off the shelf that she wanted me to read to her. She came back with Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White. This was always the first one I read to my kindergarten class each year. When we were done with the book, I took them to the closest farm to pick vegetables and see the animals. I always asked them if they got to see Wilbur during our field trip.;)

I wasn't sure how Kyla's attention span would hold out, but I went ahead and gave it a try.

Little by little, we read through the book. I sometimes pulled out my Fern and Wilbur collector's toys for her to hold while I read. I asked her questions and explained things along the way. On her last day with me, we finished it, then gave a cheer. Her dad was thrilled that we had finished the book. Reading aloud to children increases their vocabulary and knowledge of so many subjects.

Keep on reading to the little ones in your life. It gives them such a head start in their life-long journey of learning.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

L is for Lost Son

This week in Kids' Bible Club our theme was "L is for Lost Son." We had an exciting time together as we learned the story and did activities to reinforce the lesson theme.

Bible time: The parable of the prodigal son is found in Luke 15:11-32. It's a wonderful story of love and forgiveness. After teaching the story, we learned the memory verse, which was the first part of Luke 15:24. It says, "For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found."

To review the verse, we played a game called, "Climb the Mountain" (another great idea from CEF). I drew a mountain on the white board, then wrote the first letter of each word beginning at the bottom of the mountain and going up. I only did part of the verse because I ran out of room. The kids practiced the verse over and over again, using the letters to help them. Once they could say it, I wrote their names inside of the flags on top of the mountain.

Craft time: The kids made a "Rejoice" pinata using a paper lunch sack, markers, stickers and fun stuff to fill it in. After they were done decorating it, they scrunched up some tissue paper and placed that inside. Then, they put in trinket toys, candy, money, and stickers to fill their pinata.

I tied a piece of red yarn so that it could be hung up easily. We didn't break it open that night. I told them to wait until someone in their family did wrong, then asked for forgiveness. When they did so, then everyone needed to forgive them and they could celebrate by breaking open the pinata.

Snack time: We ate cinnamon-sugar heart biscuits for our snack. They were delicious! Before baking them, I brushed melted butter on them and sprinkled a mix of cinnamon-sugar on top. The hearts reminded us that we need to show our love to others by forgiving them when they've done wrong to us. 

Next time...come back to hear about a man whose name begins with the letter "m." He was a great leader of the Israelites. Can you guess who he is?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Yummy Gummi Candy

Last month I saw a recipe for homemade gummi candy and I couldn't wait to try it out. I found the recipe at Skip to My Lou, a blog dedicated to all things creative! I had to first acquire candy molds which I didn't have until recently. First, I found a teddy bear one at Hobby Lobby for less than two dollars with a coupon. Then, just last night, I found this ice cube mold at the local dollar store....

I got excited, so I included Kyla in on the fun this morning. The whole time while I stirred the gelatin in the pot, she kept saying, "That smells good!" I chose raspberry flavored gelatin for our yummy treats.

This is a great view of one of the teddy bear molds, but it didn't come out as detailed on the candy. No worries because they tasted great!

Here's how to put it all together:

Homemade Gummi Candy

1 -3 ounce box of flavored gelatin
1 -1/4 ounce packages of unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup water
2 candy molds

Place the water in a small sauce pan. Sprinkle both packages of gelatin over the water. Let sit 5-10 minutes. (If you like chewier gummi candy, you can add in another packet of unflavored gelatin.)

Place saucepan over medium heat and stir until gelatin is dissolved, about 2-5 minutes. When mixture has turned to liquid and all gelatin has dissolved, remove from heat. Let cool a minute and then pour into a container that is easy to pour. (I used a ceramic creamer bowl.)

Fill molds with mixture. Allow to cool completely, about 20 minutes. They may be placed in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes if you want to speed up the process. Once cool, the backs can be lightly dusted with cornstarch if desired.

Here's what they looked like when they were all done...

Don't they look great? Since the ice cube tray molds are deeper then candy molds, I only filled them half way. I used a toothpick to get them out and it worked well. To give you an idea on their size, I took this picture with one of the heart candies:

The bears are slightly larger, but still a good size. After her nap, Kyla enjoyed eating some of these. She thought they were awesome! They are perfect for little fingers and kids of all ages.

Enjoy these with the kids in your life. Experiment with different flavors, too. I'm sure they will love them.:)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

For Jaden's gorilla fascination

Our nephew, Jaden, will be four years old in just a couple days. We recently received a picture of him, showing him in all his dimple-faced cuteness! 

Jaden has been having a big fascination with gorillas these days, so I thought it would be fun to make him a couple things to go with that theme for his birthday present. The first thing I did was paint a gorilla on a long-sleeved t-shirt. I looked all over the internet for clipart so that I can have something to go by. It's sometimes hard for me to just create something in my head to draw, especially when it comes to animals. I found a drawing that I liked and set to work.

I first used tailor's chalk to copy the drawing onto the t-shirt. Then using a couple permanent acrylic paints, painted over the chalk. After letting it dry, I heat-set it by turning the shirt inside out and ironing the underside of the design. I also threw it in the dryer and let it tumble for a few minutes. I like how it turned out with its simple lines.

Jaden's been known to suddenly turn into a gorilla, so I just had to make a mask to make his imaginative play even more fun.

I used pictures I found on the internet to create this simple gorilla mask. I had to cut out two pieces of the tan felt because I didn't have a piece big enough to do it all in one. The other part of the face is dark brown and the eyebrows, nostrils and mouth are black. I used tacky glue to put it all together. I cut out small slits on the sides and attached very thin elastic so it's easy to put on and take off.

Happy Birthday, Jaden! Hope you enjoy your gorilla gifts.;)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Simple gifts for the ones I love

Q and I had a great Valentine's Day yesterday. Most of our time was spent at church, so it was good to be together with our church family. In the morning service, Q and I sang a duet. We've only done this a couple times before and each time it's turned out well. For lunch, we joined some folks from church at Pinocchio's, a local Italian restaurant.

But before Q left to go study before church, I left him a card inside one of his dresser drawers. I hand-painted this card for my beloved:

Q loves to go fishing, so this card was perfect for him. Inside the card, he found...

...this sweet sentiment and some fishing lures he can use the next time he goes to the lake.

I also got a little something together for the kids at church. 

I stamped envelopes with a conversation heart stamp using two colors. I wrote "Happy Valentine's Day!" and a verse on the front. Then, I filled each one with a handful of candy hearts. Simple and sweet.

Even though Valentine's Day is over, Q has something for me in a couple weeks. He's taking me to see the musical, Mary Poppins, in Denver. It's where we had our first date and where we were engaged. I can't wait! I hope to have something else for my Q and make the date extra will probably be homemade, too!:)

How was your Valentine's Day? I'm always reminded on this day about the love of God--it is perfect and constant. We have an awesome God who loves us unconditionally. We are so blessed.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine treats for the ladies Bible study

Once a month, we have a ladies Bible study at our church. We take turns bringing in treats or sharing a lesson. I signed up to bring refreshments yesterday, and since it was just before Valentine's Day, I came up with a spread that revolved around the color red and hearts.

I bought a heart-themed bandana and placed the food on top. I brought in some heart candies, and Gloria brought some chocolate hearts to share. I mixed banana and strawberry slices in a crystal bowl for a healthy sweet treat. Also on the table was....

....this centerpiece filled with Scripture verses that talk about the heart or love. I placed some stickers on them, too.

I made this apple-blackberry cake which was a huge hit. If you'd like to try out the recipe, just click here. 

I bought some cheese and wheat crackers and placed them in these curved dishes. To make the cheese hearts, I sliced the block of cheese carefully, then cut out the hearts using two sizes of cookie cutters. 

These raspberry chocolate pastry bites were my own little concoction. A couple months back, I was looking for a way to use up some leftover pastry, and I came up with these. They are light, flaky and so delicious! All you do is cut out the pastry with the cookie cutter of your choice. Then, place a bit of raspberry jam on a cut-out, making sure you don't spread it all the way to the edge. I think each heart took about a teaspoon of jam. Then, I placed a few chocolate chips on top, then put another cut-out on top to sandwich it together. I baked them for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. You may want to keep checking them, because everyone's oven is different. You want the bottom to be a little brown, but the top to stay light but cooked all the way through. I made a powdered sugar glaze with vanilla and milk, then drizzled that on top of the hearts. If you want to add color to the glaze, just add a drop or two of food coloring. That's all there is to it! 

I had a great time putting this together for the ladies. They really liked the theme of it all and they enjoyed all the treats. I hope this gives you ideas for your next get-together. Almost any one of the treats can be adapted to fit any holiday or theme.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

K is for King David

Our theme this past Wednesday night at Kids' Bible Club was "K is for King David." We are now meeting in a different room, so you'll notice it in the pictures. It's smaller--but perfect for just having the two kids.

Bible Time: I taught the kids the story of how David was anointed King of Israel. He was also called a man after God's own heart. The memory verse was Proverbs 8:33 which says, "Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not." I taught the kids what the verse means in their lives today. They must listen to those who share God's Word with them so that they can be wise and make good decisions in their lives.

For the review game, I wrote out the verse one word at a time on different colors of construction paper. A few of the colors matched cards that go with the board game, Candy Land. Each time Mieka and Skylar drew a card, I would put out a matching word card. The goal was to lay out all the cards to see the entire verse, but at any time during the game they could say the verse, no matter how many cards were out. The tricky part to the game is that if they drew a red card, I would collect all of the word cards and they had to start over. After a few minutes, Skylar was able to say the verse before all the words were on the table. They really seemed to enjoy this new game.

Craft time: The idea in the lesson book suggested making a paper castle and decorating it, but I thought it would be fun to make a 3D castle using a shoe box. I cut out four towers from the top of the box with a pocket knife and stood them up. Then I cut up lots of paper to be the bricks on the castle. The kids had fun gluing on the paper on "King David's castle."

Using some red fabric and a toothpick, I made a flag for them to stick on the top of the castle. Mieka and Skylar could now enjoy playing with their castle at home. If they have people and animal toys, they can use them to tell stories of King David. 

Snack time: The kids liked making these King's Crown sandwich stacks with crackers, cheddar cheese and pepperoni. You could use any kind of meat and put an olive half on top if you'd like. The possibilities are endless for this easy snack.

Next time....the letter L is for a son who went away, then was welcomed home again. You won't want to miss this one.:)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"I love you" magnet

I'm so thankful that we were recently able to pick up my teaching stuff that has been in storage for almost three years! As I've been looking through my things, I came across this cute magnet, so perfect for Valentine's Day:

It was a project I did with my students. You can buy a set to make these at Oriental Trading Company . I decided I was just going to buy the craft foam and help the kids make these for their parents.

All you need is craft foam in these colors: white, pink, red and peach (skin color). Cut out a white heart with scallops, approximately measuring 4-1/4 inches from top to bottom. Then make a red one slightly smaller and glue that on the white heart. I had my students use regular glue for this, then I used hot glue to seal the bent fingers. Glue on a small hand and a pink heart that will fit inside the red heart. Write, "I love you!" in the pink heart. Glue on a magnet to the back.

The hand is saying, "I love you" in sign language and I think it is so cute. Perhaps you can whip up a few of these before Valentine's Day and give them to the people you love. Or you can prep all the materials and have the kids in your Sunday School Class make one. You can even have the magnet say, "I love you, God." 

Have fun getting ready for Valentine's Day.:)

Monday, February 8, 2010

The sound of music....

When we first moved into the parsonage, Q said, "Someday, I'd like a piano right there" as he pointed to a corner of the living room. That someday came very quickly, as we have welcomed this beauty into our home in recent days.

Our almost-100-year-old piano is such a blessing to us already. To make a long story short, someone called the church saying they had a piano to give away to the church. Since the church didn't need it, we asked if we could buy it for a certain amount. After we paid the movers, the church accepted a small amount for it.

Not only does it sound great, but we also love its classic look. I am thankful that I now have a real piano to practice my songs for church. It's also been wonderful to relax and play while I take a break from household chores. I can already picture friends and family joining us in song around our piano.

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Psalm 100:1-2

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Our weight loss competition: one month update

It's been a challenging month as Q and I have been working towards losing weight and feeling better. Thanks to those of you who have given tips and encouragement as we began this journey a month ago.

There are a few key things that I've done this past month to get me started. The first one is that I've pumped up my workout routine using a DVD I borrowed from the library called, "10 days to a better body" by Results fitness. There are two workout segments--one for upper body and one for lower body. Each workout has a mix of cardio and weight training. When I first started, it was hard to finish a workout, but these past couple weeks have been easier. I worked out 5-6 days a week, going back and forth between each workout.

I have started reading Gwen Shamblin's Weigh Down Diet again. I mentioned previously that this was a big help to me in the past. The principles of eating until you are satisfied and finding contentment in God (instead of food) have been good reminders to me each and every time I eat.

The last thing I've done is make better choices with eating. I haven't had too many desserts, but sometimes I will just have a couple pieces of candy or some sweetened yogurt to satisfy a craving.

So, you want to know how I've done? The picture doesn't show that I've lost 5 pounds, but it's a good reminder to me that I would like to look even better next month!

I weighed myself earlier in the week and was so excited that I went down from 164 to 159. I've been sick these past few days with the stomach bug, so I wouldn't be surprised if I've lost an extra pound or so! 

Quentin has been more careful with what he's been eating. I've been sharing some of the things that I've been learning from the book with him. He's added more walking to his weekly routine, too. Today he weighed himself and told me that he also lost 5 pounds--yahoo! I don't know about you, but it seems to me that guys have a much easier time losing weight than us women do.

Quentin has gone down from 217 pounds to 212 pounds. He's doing a great job, too. I'm super excited that we've begun well.

We'll keep you posted again next month on our weight loss competition! Who do you think is going to win?;)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Kyla's gift to Daddy

I took care of 2-year-old Kyla again this week. I was just going to be watching her for the month of January, but because her grandparents weren't back from their trip, I agreed to watch her longer. 

I've established somewhat of a routine with her, which usually involves reading time and some sort of craft. Whether it's playing with play-doh, coloring or painting, Kyla gets really involved! We heard that her Dad's birthday was coming up, so Q and I thought it would be fun to have Kyla make a gift for him. 

This is what we came up with:

Earlier in the week, I took several head shots of Kyla. I'm always mesmerized by her big blue eyes! I printed two of them--one for the frame and one for the card. Yesterday morning, I had her paint a few pictures using watercolors. I used the most colorful one as the background for the frame. To attach the picture, I used photo corners. If her parents want to take the photo out and use it elsewhere, they can do so easily. On the back of the frame, I wrote, "Happy Birthday, Daddy! Original artwork by Kyla, age 2-1/2." 

After Kyla woke up from her nap, she helped me package up Daddy's gift using leftover Christmas wrapping paper. She even chose the blue ribbon herself. She immediately recognized the card as her painting and I showed her the inside, which held the other photo.

When we were done, she held on to it for quite a while. She couldn't wait to give it to her Dad. We eventually put it on the dining room table to keep it safe and in one piece! 

This was so fun for the two of us. It reminded me of the times when my students and I would make a fun craft for their parents. It always made me smile when I saw their parents' reaction to their child's gift. It's priceless.

J is for Joseph

It's been two weeks since the kids and I have been together for Kids' Bible Club, so I was glad to finally teach this weeks' lesson. 

Bible Time: I taught the story of Joseph, found in Genesis 37-50. Since there is so much to this story, I just touched on the main points of his life. Throughout the night, I wanted them to understand that no matter what happens in our lives, that God is in control. He always knows what's best, even when circumstances don't seem that way. We learned part of Romans 8:28 which says, "All things work together for good to them that love God."

For the review game, we played "Joseph's Journey." It's in a laminated book filled with a few more games. It's called Children of the Bible Review Games by John J. and Gayle Renee Stahlman. It goes along with the Bible series of the same name by CEF press. Sticky tack is placed behind the moving pieces so that they can be moved along the game board. Mieka and Skylar's goal was to answer questions correctly so that they could make it to Egypt.

Craft time: After coloring in Joseph's coat according to the code, we worked on our main craft. The kids made their very own colorful coat!

To prep the craft, I cut a line through the front of a paper grocery sack. Then, I cut out holes for the arms and head. I set out markers, crayons and fabric for them to decorate it. Overall, this was a good activity. The only glitch was that it was difficult to put them on and take them off the way they were cut. Oh well... I'll have to revise this one some time!

Snack time: The idea in the book said to have the kids decorate cookies with colored sprinkles, but I decided to do something else. Using an idea from the book, Kinder-Krunchies by Karen S. Jenkins, we made colored toast. All you do is put a few drops of food coloring in a bit of milk, mix and paint! I put out the four main primary colors, then we mixed a couple of them together to make new colors. They really thought this was cool.:)

When they were done painting, we put the bread in the toaster, then spread some butter on it. They really enjoyed this fun and healthy snack. 

Next time...find out about a king who was a man after God's own heart!