Sunday, October 31, 2010

The pumpkin seed experiment

Yesterday, we cut up five more pumpkins (just three left!) and cooked the meat. I thought it would be fun to experiment with different flavors for the pumpkin seeds. After looking at some ideas online, here's what I came up with: a batch made with Lowry's seasoned salt, a second batch made with garlic powder and a third batch made with pumpkin spice and white sugar.

Each small bowl-full of seeds was mixed with a couple of tablespoons of butter before the spices were sprinkled on. They each baked for about 40 minutes at 300 degrees. (You can also bake them at 250 degrees for about an hour.) I stirred each batch every ten minutes or so during baking time.

And the results? Well, don't ever try putting just garlic powder on the seeds. This was an idea I found on the web, and I did not like it at all (I threw them away, too.). I recommend using garlic salt instead. Using Lowry's seasoned salt made them taste sooo good, but I think I put a little too much. I would definitely do this again and go easy with the salt.

Oh, and I must tell you that our favorite flavor was the pumpkin pie spice and sugar! This is such a yummy treat. I didn't measure each ingredient, but I think the ratio was one part spice to two parts sugar. You can experiment and see what you like. I just didn't want to sprinkle on the spice on it's own. The sugar gives it a nice crunch and coating....yum!!!:) Below are the seeds right after I layered on the spice and sugar mix....

The next time I do this, I am definitely doing the pumpkin spice flavored seeds again, but I also want to try something new--perhaps a salt and sweet mix, kind of like kettle corn!

Do any of you have ideas for new flavorings I can try? I'd love to hear them.:)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Autumn Blessings

The Lord has been so good to us this season--answering some prayer requests and giving us some unexpected blessings. So I thought I'd share these with all of you.

1. God took care of me while I dealt with a health issue. It was not as serious as I thought it would be.
2. I made it into the Longmont Chorale Singers group, which has allowed me to meet more people and be a witness and testimony.
3. We've been finding awesome deals at thrift stores and with coupons at other stores. The Lord has been providing for our needs and then some!
4. We received some dear meat from our friend, Tony. Do you remember reading about that story?;)
5. Q was given a couple of opportunities to preach in high school chapels. Ministering to the students was a blessing to us.
6. One of the boys in our Bible club got saved recently! :)
7. Two friends gave me a HUGE stash of craft/sewing supplies that I'm already putting to good use.
8. God answered a personal request I've had for a long time. A big burden was lifted.
9. Our background checks and references came back a couple of days ago for our adoption. It happened very quickly and we're so thankful for that. Next week, we have our first home study.
10. Conversations with friends and family regarding our adoption has been a blessing. They have offered clothing and other necessities for our future child(ren) once we know what the gender/age will be.

What has God been doing in your life? I write blessings and answers to prayer a few days a week in my journal. It's good to reflect on how God takes care of us and loves us...even to the last detail.

Our God is good all the time. Always remember that!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Our garden: trying to save the tomatoes...

For a couple of weeks, we waited to hear some news about the weather. The weather has been so nice, but with our tomatoes still growing outside, we knew that frost would kill them. You may remember that these plants were the second round, as our first set didn't make it. We've been able to use a handful tomatoes, but the majority were still green and growing.

So, Q came up with a plan. A couple of days ago, he pulled all of our tomato plants because the cold was coming! He brought them into the kitchen so that I could pull all of the tomatoes off.

I probably pulled off about one hundred or so, all in different sizes. I placed the small ones (about 30-40) in a couple of bowls to use in recipes. I have to learn how to use green tomatoes, but I'll get it.:)

Q and I spent some time last night wrapping up the larger ones (about 60 or so) in newspaper. He had read somewhere that this will cause them to turn a bit red and would stay fresh until we were ready to use them.

Q also found a couple of peppers that made it, so he brought them in, too.

But still outside are a couple of melons who will no doubt die in the days ahead. This is also the second round as the first set didn't make it either.

We made it to the end of this season with some great food. We learned a lot from the failures and successes. Can't wait until next year...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Decorative pumpkins

From the dozen or so pumpkins we harvested from our garden, Q gave me two of them for decorating. I've been decorating the front rooms with fall and Thanksgiving decorations, and these two pumpkins added so much to them.

I saw pumpkins at a craft store that looks like the monogrammed one on the left. Since I did not take a picture of it there, I did my best to replicate it.

The skin of this pumpkin was so soft, that when I wrote on it with pencil, some green coloring came out. I gave it a deeper green color by tracing it with a colored pencil.

To make this monogrammed pumpkin, all I did was use black acrylic paint. Before I began working on each pumpkin, I drew out some ideas first. It's good to do this, so that you're less likely to make a mistake on the real thing.:)

I enjoyed painting on my pumpkins this year and have already thought that it would be neat to come up with some other designs in future years.

Have you made anything for your fall decorating this year? I'd love to hear what you did!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Adopted for Life

Since we've been going through the adoption process, there is a book that has been a big encouragement to me. My friend, Janelle, recommended it on her blog several months ago and I knew I had to read it. She has six kids of her own, five of whom were adopted.

The book is called Adopted for Life, by Russell D. Moore. At the beginning, Moore shares his own story of how he adopted two boys from Russia. He also shares how questions from others taught him more about the Gospel and what God has to say about this important topic.

"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Romans 8:15

He gives insights to adoptive parents on the paper work, finances and the "waiting game." The one thing that he really stresses is the importance of the church to help with adoptions. Not everyone is led to adopt, but fellow Christians can aid in prayer, support and perhaps help financially.

As you can see, this book is for everyone--not just those who are thinking about adoption or are in the process. Your heart will be blessed and encouraged as you read about what you can do in regards to this ministry that is so close to God's heart.

"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." James 1:27

Friday, October 22, 2010

Finally, an organized sewing nook!

For months, I've not liked the looks of the shelf in the craft room. And lately, it's become more disorganized and has been driving me nuts! It has not been very "workable" as a lot of my tools and notions were hidden in a couple of clear storage containers. I had to do this in our condo, as the kitchen table served as my sewing table. I could just pull out what I needed and set to work.

But now, in a bigger space, with more notions and patterns and things, I've needed to do something with all of my sewing stuff.

Here's the before picture:

And here's the after--much better, I think!

I found the collapsible crates at my local Dollar Tree. Only two of the sizes worked for this shelf. At close to three feet wide but only 7-1/2 inches deep, I was limited to the boxes I could fit on there. I'm still happy with the results! Everything has its place. In fact, my patterns which were hidden in a cupboard, are now easily accessible.

Each of the boxes holds the following: top row-- extra notions like extra elastic and maternity panels, second shelf-- thread and bobbins, ribbon, tools (tracing paper, measuring tape, pins, needles, etc.), third shelf-- zippers and quilting/sewing kits, bias tape, lace and eyelet trim, bottom shelf--fusible web/iron-on transfers and two boxes of patterns.

These canning jars add lots of color with the contents they hold. They hold rick-rack, buttons, small embellishments, scrap trim and ribbon, velcro, elastic, snaps and fasteners, and my scissors.

After organizing all of my tools and notions, I had to do something with my fabric! With all of the fabric that a couple of friends recently gave me, I had to find room in one of the built-in cupboards in that room. I moved all of the craft and knitting supplies into another cupboard, and was able to fit all of the fabric (except for the big bolts of satin) into one space!

Take a look...

I organized by color for the most part. There were a few pieces that just didn't fit into a color category, so they are stacked neatly on top of the denim, black and white pieces. The bottom area also holds some flannel and fleece. One box contains current projects (or ones I want to do) and the other one is full of scrap fabric. I'm so excited that I now can work with my stash more easily. Before, most of it was stashed into boxes--no fun!

Hope this gives you some ideas on organizing your stash of sewing supplies. If you already have organized your things, what ideas can you give that I haven't already? I'd love to hear them.:) Happy sewing!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Monkey story time

I started back up again as a story teller for the library. Each month, I'll do two story times at the local recreation center's day care. I had so much fun with the kids this week. They are a cute bunch!

This month's theme was monkeys. I found a new "hello" song to sing with the kids when I arrived.

"Hello Time" (to the tune of "Oh, Susanna")

Oh, it's time to say hello, hello
Hello and how are you?
Oh, it's time to say hello, hello
To everyone of you.

Hello friends, a big "hello" to you!
We will sing and read and laugh today,
Yes, this is what we'll do.

The first book I read was the classic, Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. A peddler rests by a tree and discovers that his caps have been taken by several monkeys. I won't tell you the end, but it is a fun one to read if you haven't done so already.

I pulled out Marvin Monkey out of my bag to greet the kids. He also helped me tell the poem, "Jonathan Bing."

Poor old Jonathan Bing
went out in his carriage to visit the King,
But everyone pointed and said, "Look at that!
Jonathan Bing has forgotten his hat!"
(He'd forgotten his hat!)

Poor old Jonathan Bing
went home and put on a new hat for the King,
But by the palace the soldier said, "Hi!
You can't see the King; you've forgotten your tie!"
(He'd forgotten his tie!)

Poor old Jonathan Bing,
He put on a beautiful tie for the King,
But when he arrived, and Archbishop said, "Ho!
You can't come to court in pajamas, you know!"

Poor old Jonathan Bing
went home and addressed a short not to the King:
"If you please will excuse me, I won't come to tea;
For home's the best place for all people like me!"

The next two books I read were Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett and Five Little Monkeys sitting in a tree, by Eileen Christelow. After that last book, I used a glove puppet with five little monkeys and a crocodile to retell the story with the kids.

One by one those monkeys disappeared as I told the poem...

Five little monkeys swinging in a tree.
Teasing Mr. Crocodile, "You can't catch me! You can't catch me!"
Along comes Mr. Crocodile, as quiet as can be and he... (the children use two hands with palms together to clap shut like a crocodile's mouth.)
SNAPPED that monkey right out of the tree!

Continue the poem, but begin the succeeding verses with four, three, two, and finally, one little monkey. The last verse is said as follows:

No more monkeys swinging in the tree,
Only Mr. Crocodile
Happy as can be!

As I ended the story time, I brought Marvin Monkey back out to give the kids a hug. I sang the same good-bye song as last year. It's sung to the tune of the "Mickey Mouse good-bye song."

Now it's time to say good-bye,
good-bye to all of you,
Have a great day; read some good books
And I'll see you real soon.

I can't wait until next month--I'll be sure to tell you about it. Hope it gives you ideas on a story time you can do with the children in your life. :)

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

For our friend, Mary

Q and I wanted to do something special for Mary for her birthday, so we invited her to come to our house for brunch. She is a sweet lady from church who we really adore. What she didn't know was that several other friends from church were going to be there to help celebrate. It was quite a surprise to her, but such a great one!

We had a wonderful time together, talking and laughing around the table. Then, Mary began opening up her cards and gifts. Not too long ago, Mary and I went to Hobby Lobby together to look around and buy craft supplies we needed. She stocked up on some painting supplies, and while she did, I thought of something I could make for her:

This palette was all hand-painted using acrylic paints. Before painting the words, I wrote them out using a pencil first. I just didn't want to mess up! After giving it some time to dry, I gave it a couple coats of clear varnish. She now has something to put in the room where she does her painting.

I enjoyed making this simple gift for our dear friend. I hope it encourages her to continue on with her painting. Happy birthday, Mary! :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

First concert

This past weekend was a very busy one for me and another 130 singers! The Longmont Chorale (the group I'm in) and the Laudamus Chorale from Fort Collins joined together for two fabulous concerts.

All the songs that were sung had a "water" theme to them. My two favorites were "Shall we gather at the river" (hymn/spiritual) and "The Seal Lullaby" by Eric Whitacre. Each chorale sang songs separately, then there were other groups who did one or two numbers each.

We heard wonderful comments from the friends we invited. It was so much fun, too! One of my friends, Leah, took the following picture for me with her amazing camera. Look at the huge choir! (Can you find me?:)

The following video is of the small group I'm in called the Chorale Singers. This is only one of our songs. I tried downloading the other one called "Ecco mormorar l'onde" by Monterverdi (a challenging Italian piece, by the way), but it didn't work. This one is of "Away from the Roll of the Sea" by Allister MacGillivray. Enjoy!

video

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Making pumpkin puree...and a new recipe!

Q and I just harvested these beauties from the garden....

Do you see a green one in the mix? I'll be doing something with that one as well as one of the orange ones (so stay tuned!). The rest will be used for all sorts of recipes. I started on a couple of them yesterday.

First, with Q's help, we cut these in half. Then, I took out all of the seeds and cleaned them up inside.

We cut the pieces into nice big chunks and placed them into two baking dishes. I poured about three cups of water in each pan before placing them in the oven. More than half way through I forgot that I had not covered the pans, so I placed aluminum foil on top and let it bake some more. They baked at 350 degrees for a little over an hour. You'll have to test it to see if the meat is soft when you prick it with a fork.

I cut the skin off and placed small chunks into my blender. I did about three batches like this and the puree came out sooo creamy (kind of looks like baby food). In the past, I've used a potato masher, but it won't be as smooth in consistency. Do it whichever way you prefer.:)

Then, I made these cookies and took them to dress rehearsal last night. I shared them with my new friends in the chorale. They all loved them! I found the recipe at 5 Dollar Dinners. They are so scrumptious....perfect for the fall season...enjoy....

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a stand mixer or mixing bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, eggs and canned pumpkin puree. once smooth, add the flour, soda, cinnamon pie spice, and salt. Stir until dough forms. Fold in the chocolate chips.
3. Spoon batter onto greased cookie sheets. Bake in the preheated oven for 9-11 minutes. Let cool on cooling rack before serving.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hope

A few weeks ago, I sat at my sewing machine and made a couple of pillowcase dresses for the first time. I actually used tea towels to make these beautifully embroidered size 3 dresses. I never thought I'd be making these with some hope in my heart.

I got so excited making something that perhaps our future daughter could wear. But, we also know that God can give us a boy, and we would be so excited with that, too! (And then of course, these dresses will be passed along...:)

Q and I can't wait to see what God is going to do in our lives through adoption--yes, that's our BIG news! We have been in the process for several months already. It took us some time to find the right agency and to get started, but we're on our way! We've already completed two days of training. We have learned so much already about foster-adoption.

As a college student, the Lord placed adoption on my heart. When I got married in my early thirties, I knew I wanted to have children right away, but God chose to have our two babies in Heaven with Him. He has given me renewed hope with adoption. There are so many children out there--children who were made beautifully by God that need parents who will love them and take care of them. We are so excited that God has us taking this journey--His ultimate BEST in our lives right now.

Please pray for us as we continue pressing forward in our training and that we would be patient as we wait for the children God has for us. Will keep you posted....

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What I've been working on lately...

Things have been pretty busy around here, that's for sure! Along with Bible club and other church ministries, chorale practice, entertaining, and every day life things, there's been something else I've been doing that's keeping me busy. My sister has started up a business that has my mom and I sewing up a storm! I'm nowhere near done, but any little chance I get, I sit at the sewing machine and press forward.

Would you like to know what it is I'm doing? Go on over to Raquel's blog called Mia's Dream Closet, and perhaps you can figure it out. (Of course, I'll show you pictures when I'm done.) She has a fun business that perhaps is new to you. I know that other ladies are doing this in different areas of the country, but if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you may be able to support my sis.

By the way....there is one other BIG thing that is going on in our lives that I just have to tell you about. It's a huge answer to prayer, too. Come back soon to find out what it is.:)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lots of treasures from special friends

Several months ago, two of our friends from our last church told me that they had some craft and sewing supplies that they didn't want any more. Well, I was finally able to see them and pick up the boxes. It was such a blessing as I had no idea how much stuff they were talking about! There are things I can use for church projects and to make gifts.

For the past few days, I've been going through it and trying to make room for it all.

These boxes are filled with wedding and Christmas crafts, artificial flowers, lace and other trim, ribbon, bias tape, iron-on decals and scrap booking supplies.

I enjoyed sorting through all of these stickers. They'll come in handy when I'm making cards.

There are lots of these flowers in many colors and sizes.

There were three boxes full of fabric! There's lots of flannel in the mix as well. I simply adore some of the vintage pieces, too.:)

These bolts of baroque satin are just wonderful. I'm not exactly sure what I'll use them for, but I have some ideas. I just love it!

I'm so thankful to them for giving me these things to use with my projects. Their investment will no doubt be a part of the ministry here, as these items will be used to bless others.

Thanks so much, Jo and Donna! I'm so appreciative of your generosity.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Pizza

We found a handful of tomatoes in our garden a few days ago. We were so glad to see them because it's been a rough season for our tomato plants. I knew what I wanted to do with them, too--make an authentic Italian pizza!

We've had this meal twice this week and we love it! With its thin crust, real mozzarella cheese, Italian herbs and garden-fresh tomatoes, this pizza is a winner.:)

You just have to try it! Here are the recipes for both the crust and the pizza. They come from The Betty Crocker Cookbook. Instead of fresh herbs, I used Italian seasoning. I also used garlic salt instead of regular salt in the pizza recipe. Feel free to use freshly grated Parmesan cheese for that finishing touch. Enjoy!

Italian-Style Pizza Dough

1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (you can use whole wheat flour for up to half of the amount)
1 teaspoon extra-virgin or regular olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar

In large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in half of the flour, the oil, salt and sugar. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead about 10 minutes or until smooth and springy. Grease large bowl with shortening. Place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover and let rise in warm place 20 minutes. Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours but no longer than 48 hours. (If dough should double in size during refrigeration, gently push fist into dough to deflate.)

Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Pizza

Italian-style pizza dough
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, well drained
2 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced (or whatever you have on hand:)
1/4 teaspoon salt (or garlic salt)
fresh cracked pepper to taste
1/4 cup thin strips fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon small capers, if desired
1 tablespoon extra-virgin or regular olive oil

1. Make Italian-style pizza dough.
2. Move oven rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Grease cookie sheet or 12-inch pizza pan with oil. Press dough into 12-inch circle on cookie sheet or pat in pizza pan, using floured fingers. Press dough from center to edge so edge is slightly thicker than center.
3. Cut cheese into 1/4-inch slices. Place cheese on dough to within 1/2 inch of edge. Arrange tomatoes on cheese. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons of the basil, the oregano and capers. Drizzle with oil.
4. Bake about 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons basil.

Pair it with a garden salad and you're good to go! It's soooo yummy......

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Handmade cards for Fall

The gals and I got together again to make four new cards. They are perfect for this new season. Take a look....

This first one is one of my faves. After stamping the image in the center, we used a blending pen to add more depth to the flowers.

I just love the tag that hangs on the bottom corner. The leaf in the center is so pretty, too.

I really like the color combination in this birthday card.

This card seemed to be everyone's favorite. Everything about it is soooo cute!

Our time together ended with a birthday cake and home made ice cream. Three of the ladies celebrate their birthdays this month. We had a great time and I look forward to the cards we'll be making next month.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Worry Dolls

The Sunday School girls had a fun time making their own worry doll. Before giving them instructions, I showed them the one I made:

I also told them about what people do with the worry dolls. There is usually six of them in a small pouch and before bed, they are taken out so that the individual can tell their worries to them. If one of them is gone by morning, then that worry will be taken care of.

I asked them if this is something that can really happen. God is the one who can take care of our problems. I read the verse, "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you" (I Peter 5:7). I told them that God cares about each one of them and knows all about them, too. One of my favorite verses about resting in the Lord is found in Psalm 4:8. I shared this verse with them, too. It says, "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety." When we pillow our heads at the end of a long (and sometimes stressful) day, we can know that God is with us.

The directions I have for making these dolls came from DMC, a company dedicated to all things embroidery. When I looked at their website, they don't have this information anymore. So, I found another blog that has really good directions so that you can make your own worry dolls and help some kids do this as well. Go here and have some fun!:)

Before the girls went home that day, they had fun "posing" their dolls....

...next to a Pepsi lip balm....

...and at the farm! Too cute...

Q joked around with the girls and asked if they could make one that looked like the "Pastor Johnson" doll. Of course, we didn't have time, so I made this one after the girls left. Q really liked the glasses! Everything was made with the embroidery floss except for the collar on his shirt (it was made with white felt). The only thing I didn't do was give him a beard. Oh well...

Have some fun making these worry dolls. They can be pretty addicting! ;)