Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Longmont Chorale

All summer I had been waiting for the opportunity to try something new in the community--to join a chorale! I found out about the Longmont Chorale through searching the web. I started off by looking at something closer to home, but just couldn't find it. The rehearsal location in Longmont is about twenty-five minutes away and since it just requires my time once a week, I figured I could do this.

Well, last night was the first rehearsal of the season. I first visited a few months ago just to check it out and I was impressed. The Chorale is a non-audition group comprised of over 100 singers from all ages. They perform a few concerts during the year.

There is something else that caught my attention about the chorale....

The Longmont Singers!!!

Within the chorale is a smaller group comprised of about 25 singers. To get into this group you have to audition. I went to the audition after the regular rehearsal. All I had to do was sight read the Soprano 1 line for a few pages. I thought it was pretty easy. Now, it's the waiting game. As I don't know what spots are open, it's hard to tell if I'll get in this year, but I hope so. I should know within the next week and a half. (I will keep you posted, of course!) Besides singing an extra number or two at the concerts, this group also performs at nursing homes and local events. The pieces they do are more challenging, too, but I think this is right up my alley. If the Lord opens this up for me, I'll be excited to join.

I think getting involved like this is a neat way for me to meet people and be a testimony for Christ. I'd also like to keep strengthening my vocal skills as it will help me as I continue on in music ministry at our church.

Are any of you involved in a community group? I'd love to hear what you all are doing in your neighborhood.:)

Monday, August 30, 2010

God's Word is a Treasure

A few days ago, I put up a new bulletin board in the fellowship hall. I found ready-made letters at the thrift store and knew I had to use them for the next board.

I left up the border from the previous bulletin board since the treasure chest visual matched it. I found song visuals that were about the Bible and placed them on with thumb tacks.

I tacked up a New Testament on each side of the title, too.

With the title and words of the songs, this board gives a great message: the Bible is such a treasure in our lives! We should read it, meditate upon it and obey it.

I hope this board gives you a simple idea to do in children's ministry or in your school classroom.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Safe in the Arms of Jesus

When Q came home from a pastor's conference not long ago, he handed me this book. He said he had read it on his trip back home and thought I would enjoy it.

Safe in the Arms of Jesus by Robert P. Lightner (published by Kregal Publications), is a book about how God provides a home in Heaven for those who cannot believe. It talks about the death of the unborn, infants and those with disabilities who cannot understand sin and their need for a Savior. I have believed this way for a long time, but it was good for me to read someone else's view point along with knowing what passages in the Bible back this belief.

The author weaves in the Gospel throughout the book and lovingly encourages parents who have gone through miscarriages or the death of an infant. It is a great book to have to give to parents who are going through this hard time. I wish I would have had this both times I lost my babies. However, as I read through it, it still encouraged my heart greatly. I know that I can pass this book along to be a help to someone God sends my way.

I really like this paragraph the author included by J. Vernon McGee. It is in response to the question of what our children in Heaven will look like when we see them some day.

Will our children be as we last saw them? I do not know nor can I prove it from Scripture (for Scripture is silent at this point), but I believe with all my heart that God will raise the little ones as such, and the mother's arms that have ached for them will have the opportunity of holding them. The father's hand that never held the little hand will be given that privilege. I believe that the little ones will grow up in heaven in the care of their earthly parents--if they (the parents) are saved.

Are you going through a loss right now...or do you know someone who is? I highly recommend this wonderful book of truth and comfort from God's Word.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Our Garden: tomatoes, pumpkins and corn...

It's been a while since I last gave an update, so here goes....

We've been canning and freezing beans. We have been eating lots of lettuce and cucumber (and sharing a lot, because there's so much growing all the time). The zucchini is finally coming in and I don't think we'll have very many more sweet peas this year. They were good while they lasted!

As for the tomatoes, they are doing well. Even though they got a late start, we're hoping that these beauties will ripen before the weather changes.

We also have several pumpkins changing from a dark green to an awesome orange color. It won't be long now...

The corn stalks are so tall now. We'll be harvesting several ears of corn very soon. Yeah!

And speaking of corn...our friends, John and Shirley who live on the farm, gave us over 140 ears of corn today. Q and I spent several hours shucking, blanching, cutting and freezing it all up. And of course, we had to have some for dinner tonight--delish!

How have you been enjoying the fruits of your labor? It's hard work, but oh, so worth it! Happy harvesting! :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Revival meeting fellowship

On our second night of Revival meetings, we invited everyone to come over to our place for some light refreshments. We had a great time together.

We served chips and salsa, garlic cheese toast, chocolate chip cookies, four-fruit salad and chunky chocolate jam bars.

The salad and jam bars were a big hit, so I thought I would share the recipes with you. The salad is a recipe from Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking Magazine (Aug/Sept. 2010).

Four-fruit salad

4 cups fresh raspberries (or strawberries)
4 medium plums, coarsely chopped
4 medium apricots, coarsely chopped
2 medium peaches, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
2 tablespoons honey

In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Drizzle with honey and toss to coat. Refrigerate until chilled.

As for the bars....I can't believe I haven't shared these yet on my blog, as they are a favorite at our house and at get-togethers. The recipe comes from Food and Family Magazine.

Doesn't it look scrumptious?

Chunky Chocolate Jam Bars

1-1/2 cups flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats (I use old-fashioned oats, and it comes out just fine)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional)
5 squares semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1 jar (12 ounce) raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 13x9-inch baking pan with foil; grease foil lining. Mix flour, brown sugar and baking powder in large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add oats, coconut and pecans; mix well. Press half of the crumb mixture firmly onto bottom of baking pan. Sprinkle with chopped chocolate. Spoon jam over top; sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Lift from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 32 servings, 1 bar each.

We had a wonderful time with Tim and Brittany. On our last day together before the final service, we visited a couple of people from church, played a good game of putt-putt, then ate lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. They are not just fellow-laborers in ministry, but also our friends. Our church was blessed and many great decisions were made for the Lord. To God be the glory!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Welcome Basket

These last few days were very busy for Q and I, but they were also a blessing. We had Evangelist Tim Thompson and his wife, Brittany, come to our church and hold evangelistic meetings from Sunday to Tuesday.

As a special treat for them, I put together a Welcome basket for them to enjoy in their hotel room.

I found some pretty fabric in my stash and made a liner for the basket. I made a casing for the ribbon to go through on each side under the handle. We filled it with some yummy goodies including:

bottled water
roasted almond packs
raisin boxes
home made cookies
fresh fruit

They were so appreciative of this gift. I'm so glad it was a blessing to them while they were here. I would love to do this again for any missionary guest or evangelist traveling through.

Have you put together a basket like this, and if so, what other treats did you include in it? I would love to hear your ideas!:)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Love" anniversary card

My parents just celebrated their 37th anniversary, so I made them this card....

I looked through my stash of scrap booking supplies and found a few things that would work together. The "love" letters were made out of vinyl. I got it from an Uppercase Living party a friend had. All you do is put it where you want it and rub it on! I really like these paper flowers, as you can layer them for different looks. I glued on a small button on the center of each one.

Pretty cute, eh?

Using a calligraphy pen, I wrote my message. I also added another flower. The style of the card can be used for different occasions--wedding, bridal shower, or Valentine's Day.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Pops! We love you. :)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Peach Festival

Each year, Lafayette holds a peach festival. Since we were in the process of moving around this time last year, we weren't able to go. So, we decided to check it out this time around. It was only a couple of blocks away from us, so we took a leisurely walk to see it. It's amazing how much Public Avenue looks with all of the tents set up.

Hundreds of people came to enjoy the unique booths, entertainment, and of course, the peaches.

One of the first things I noticed were these boxes full of yummy peaches. Notice the price? At $40/box, we had to say good-bye. There were a few other stops along the way that also included smaller amounts, but we still passed those up.

There were booths of many varieties of art work, jewelry, clothing, and food. This one was full of farm-fresh vegetables. The one that was very different to us was called the "Instrument petting zoo." Anyone can touch, hold and play different instruments there. Q thought it was a neat idea, especially for kids who are trying to figure out what instrument they'd like to take lessons in.

On our way back towards our street, we had some goodies. Q had this pork empanada while I sipped on a delicious peach smoothie...

I had to have something with peach in it, right? They also offered peach cobbler, but this drink was perfect on a hot day.

Is there anything exciting happening in your town? I would love to hear your stories.:)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Happy Friday!

Here's the last of my ideas from my teaching days...

It's Happy Friday, and do you know what that means?

"It means something fun and exciting is going to happen in class today!"

This is what I would tell my third grade students each Friday. They looked forward to what the day would bring. Here are some of the things that would surprise them...

extra 5-10 minutes at recess
home made goodies
pet the toads
no home work pass (always a favorite!)
toad cash (money they could spend at my store)
extra credit on an assignment
a fun game or activity at the end of the day

Since moving here last fall, we've done some neat things on our Fridays. Because it is Q's day off, we've made it a Happy Friday each week by doing something fun together. We love thrift store shopping, playing putt-putt, going to the mountains, watching a movie, or going to a coffee shop. By the way, it's where we are right now, and it's been soooo relaxing and fun!

Do you have a special day that you set aside for just you and your family? What kinds of things do you all do?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kid-published books

A favorite activity I did with my students for a few years was to make our own class book. I used a kit called Illustory, put out by a company called Creations by You. The kit comes with everything you need to make a top-quality illustrated book. It even includes the markers for kids to draw their own pictures.

Together, the students and I came up with the title and what we wanted to include in our book. Each one is about our year together. I assigned a page or two to each student. They had to tell me what they wanted to say on their page then illustrate it. In the kit, there is a way to order more copies, so I offered this to the parents so that they could have a treasured keepsake for their child.

Here are a few of my favorite pages...

This is the first day of school page. I just love kids' drawings. They're always so cute!

This one is a picture of one of the toads we had in our classroom.

This one is about the play we put on at the end of the year for the parents. It was part of the Kindergarten graduation. Can you guess what story we did? If you guessed "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" you're right!

Hope this gives you a neat idea for you to do with the children in your life. The company, Creations by You, also has other items that can be given that personalized touch. Go over there and check it out!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The stocking stuffer exchange

Okay...I know what you may be thinking...that it's not even close to Christmas and how silly it is that I'm posting a fun children's idea for the holidays, right? Well, this has to do with school, and I figured since it was one of my fave things to do with the students, you may enjoy this, too.

This idea can work with any group of children, whether it be at a club, church group, or school classroom.

I got the idea of the stocking stuffer exchange from another teacher who had great success with it. It makes Christmas parties more fun with less hassle and expense.

Here's how it works....

Days leading up to the party, I made each student a felt stocking. Two pieces of red sparkly felt was sufficient to make the main body of the stocking. I also added the white felt on top and a loop to hang them. Each piece was held together with hot glue. I had the kids write their name for me on one of the white felt pieces, then I went over their signature with black fabric paint. They turned out really cute! Near our Christmas tree, I hung all of the stockings through a long piece of ribbon and attached each side to the wall.

On the day of the party, each kid is to bring one type of stocking stuffer per person, including themselves. I encouraged small trinket toys so that they all could fit inside the hand-made stocking. They didn't have to wrap anything, either. I always placed a few pieces of candy inside as an extra surprise.

This was always so fun for the students. Plus, it was inexpensive and everyone got the same thing! I had done gift exchanges before with older students and some times feelings were hurt, or people spent more than the amount requested so it never seemed fair. This stocking stuffer exchange is a great way to keep it fun and within everyone's budgets. The Dollar store and party supply stores all carry trinkets like stickers, pencils, cars, mini erasers, yo-yo's, etc. for this activity.

So, now you've got another idea to store away for the holiday season. Hope it works out well with the kids in your life.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Belly Button Bear

It's back to school week here in Boulder County! The kids in our neighborhood either started school yesterday or today. So, I thought it would be fun to write about a few things that I did when I taught in the classroom. Whether you are a teacher or a homeschooling parent, you may get some ideas here over the next few days....

First up--check out my little bear:

His name is Belly Button (do you see his button?). We all thought he was such a cute friend to have in the Kindergarten classroom.

Every morning, Belly Button would sit on my podium as we started off the school day. He was right there when we did the Pledge of Allegiance, our patriotic song and prayer. Then, the students would sit down and I would remind them of the expected behavior for the day. Belly Button loved them as much as they loved him, but he had to take turns spending time with each student.

I told them that he would be watching them for half the morning for great work and behavior. Then, sometime after morning recess, Belly Button would whisper in my ear who he wanted to sit with. He'd plop onto the child's desk and stay there all day. However, if Belly Button was caught talking or playing around (along with the student, of course), then he'd have to come back with me.

He was a great incentive to have each day. The kids absolutely loved it! Perhaps you have a special friend your students or children could have as a treat for doing a great job with school work and behavior. Maybe, you have a unique game or item they can play with during free time. While it's essential to have consequences for disobedience, it is also necessary to praise diligence and obedience with students.

So where is Belly Button now? Well, he's here at home. He's taking a break from all those years with the kiddos, but he sure does miss them. Perhaps some day he'll be at church with the Sunday School kids, back in a classroom, or maybe with some kids at home. He is an awesome friend to have and I love having him around....

Monday, August 16, 2010

Watermelon popsicles

Q and I have been enjoying a yummy treat lately....

These watermelon popsicles have been good to have in the freezer with this August heat! The best thing about them is that they are super-healthy because they're full of natural ingredients and don't have very much sugar. I found the recipe here while searching for a way to use up tons of watermelon that we just couldn't eat all by ourselves.


Watermelon Popsicles

1-1/2 pounds seedless watermelon without rind, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup mint leaves, minced
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
pinch of salt

In a blender, puree the watermelon with the sugar until smooth. Stir in the mint, lemon zest and salt. Pour the puree in 8 popsicle molds or in 2 standard ice cube trays (insert popsicle sticks halfway through freezing) and freeze until hard, about 3 hours.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The front room curtains

It's been a couple months in the making, but I finally got the front room curtains done recently. It seemed like every time I would begin working on them again, something would come up. The last thing we installed were the hold backs for the tall skinny windows.

Here's a picture of our living area. The same sized windows are on the opposite side of the big room, where we have our dining area.

I bought the fabric for $2/yard at Wal-mart. I sewed a lining on each panel using matching broadcloth that I bought at Joann's.

Because two of the windows have two panels each, we can easily pull them open during the day then pull them shut at night. The holdbacks pull back the other two window panels to the side, because there is only one panel on each of them.

Both the rods and holdbacks came from the Better Homes and Gardens collection from Wal-mart.

This is one of the windows with just one panel. Isn't the fabric just gorgeous? I'm so glad that I found it when I did. I even have some extra fabric to use for making matching pillows or a table runner. The possibilities are endless!

Happy sewing! :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

You can still wear cute shoes

I was so encouraged to hear about a book for ministry wives from another pastor's wife, Rachel, over at A Steady Rain. I ordered the book and began reading it as soon as it arrived on my doorstep. It was a great easy read filled with loads of encouragement.

Lisa McKay's book, You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes, contains lots of Biblical principles, personal stories, and practical advice. From learning how to be yourself, have best friends in the pews, and ministering along side your husband, this book is a gem. She even addresses hard issues and how to raise your kids to love the Lord.

I especially like how she defines what a preacher's wife's role is...it's basically the same for what God requires any Christian wife and mother to be. There are sometimes pressures from others on what that lady should be--like play the piano, host the perfect luncheon, and keep her home spotless at all times--yikes! The truth is...we're like any other person. We've got talents and abilities as well as weaknesses and a sin nature.

What I appreciated most in this book is that she includes thoughts and questions at the end of each chapter that apply to any church member. She encourages any woman to read this book so that she can know how to encourage and minister to her pastor's family. There's even a short chapter specifically written for the pastor, as well as thoughts at the end of each chapter from other pastor's wives and lay people that pertain to that topic. This book covers everything you ever thought about ministry.

I love this book, and you will, too! I pray that it will be an encouragement to you in your area of ministry. By the way, Lisa has a great blog called A Preacher's Wife. Head on over there and check it out!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Canning green beans

We've had an abundance of green beans growing in our garden. So, it was time to try canning some. Q bought the Presto brand 23-quart pressure canner and cooker for us to use. Q was so excited to begin learning how to can the fruits of his labor.

We washed and prepared our beans before beginning the process. Then, we followed the directions that came with the pressure canner/cooker and set to work.

The process is a bit time consuming, but it is worth it at the end. We canned seven quart jars full of yummy home-grown green beans.

We had some more to do, but decided instead to freeze a lot of it. That process didn't take nearly as long. I'm glad we preserved our veggies both ways to guarantee a good supply in the months ahead.

How have you all been doing with canning and freezing this season? Do any of you have tips for us as we are learning how to can fresh produce?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My vintage apron

Before Abigail and the kids came, she mentioned to me that she and her mom had gone through some things that belonged to her grandmother. They chose things to match my red kitchen.

I was so delighted when she gave me this vintage apron. Isn't it awesome?

It is in great shape and I love the detail on it. I was amazed at all the hand-stitching done, too!

I don't know for sure how old it is, but my mother-in-law's mom passed away in 1968...so that tells you that it is more than forty years old. It's such a treasure to me. It was so thoughtful of my MIL to give this to me. I love it!

I recently found this Bistro sign with hooks at Hobby Lobby. I paid just a little over a dollar for it because it was on clearance. It is the perfect place to hang this "new" vintage apron of mine.

Have you found or received a family treasure recently? Please share your stories...:)

Monday, August 9, 2010

WOW Children's Museum

We discovered a new place in town...the WOW (world of wonder) Children's Museum. It is fabulous! We took Abigail and the kids there and they had a blast!

The museum is a wonderful place for kids to get creative and explore science. There were also lots of places to dress up like animals, pirates, ballerinas, cooks, and train conductors. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from that day....

Have you ever played horse shoes before? Annalina and Gabriel played beautiful music on these.

The boys and Uncle Q loved building at the pipe station. There was lots of pvc pipe and connectors to build anything you'd like!

I joined Ross on board the Jolly Roger. I thought he looked so cute dressed as a pirate.;)

Carson enjoyed exploring as well. Here he is peering out the window at the train station.

One of the kids' favorite spots was at the funny mirrors inside the round theater stage. We all had some good laughs there!

What fun place in your town have you visited recently? I'd love to hear your stories.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Just a little prayer

As I mentioned earlier, we had Abigail and the kids with us for a few days. They were at the end of an almost four-week road trip to visit family all over the country.

After lunch on the first day, Abigail and I decided to go to the local thrift store. Sister Carmen's is full of bargains, so we ventured out to see what we could find. She scoured the bookshelves looking for kids' books while I looked at the clothing racks.

Then, we began looking at the toys. We saw a young girl playing with a big doll house. Abigail and I looked at each other and spoke quietly about taking a look at it. The girl's mother asked her if she wanted that doll house. She said she did, so we figured this item was out of our hands for good...or so we thought!

With a full cart, I paid for our items. Abigail had gone to another part of the store, then came back with something else she wanted to buy. I walked away to the front of the store as she waited in line.

A minute later, the lady who bought the doll house came back in complaining that a couple of nails that were sticking out tore the inside of her car. She wanted to return the doll house and get her money back. Abigail and I watched this scene unfold and couldn't believe it! We were able to get the doll house for only $6 and it held some unique pieces inside that were worth far more than that.

The neatest thing about this is that both she and I were praying silently that the lady would change her mind (before she bought it of course, but it still worked out at the end). Once we got the house into our hands, we shared with each other what we had prayed that this would happen. We were hoping that my niece, Annalina, would have this treasure. I know it's a little prayer, but it was answered and for that we are grateful.

Take a look at Annalina with her new toy...she was one happy girl!:)

The house has a few minor things to fix, like the shingles on the roof, but other than that it is in great shape! I heard from one of the store's volunteers that a grandfather had donated this item because he didn't have any grand daughters who could play with it.

She and her brothers got to play with it during the time they were here. Annalina got to set up the house as she liked it with some fun pieces.

This is the dining room, complete with a tiny doily someone made.

A bedroom included two beds, one for the parents and a crib for the baby--too cute!

The bathroom holds a real porcelain bathtub. We were so glad we found this for Annalina. I told her that I'd be on the look out for more furniture I could add to it. I'll also be making some wooden spool people for her, too. It will be neat to see how this will look when it's all fixed up.

What treasure have you found recently at a thrift store or yard sale? I'd love to hear about it!