Thursday, January 26, 2012

Marshmallow Crispy Treats

We have a favorite dessert in our house--these marshmallow crispy treats!

They are not ordinary either, as they have a secret ingredient in them--flaxseed. Flaxseed can be added to all sorts of recipes, but I never thought about this one. I found the recipe in Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook, Deceptively Delicious. All of the recipes have secret ingredients in them, mainly pureed vegetables. Everything we have tried has been awesome! Pureeing food hasn't been that difficult, but if you have some extra jars of baby food, they can be used as well (Little S grew out of them really fast, so I still have some jars I'm trying to use up when I can.).

So, enjoy this sweet treat this weekend with a tall glass of milk (you'll probably want to get a second one when you're done, but that's okay--they're "healthified"!).

Marshmallow Crispy Treats

Nonstick cooking spray
1 tablespoon trans-fat-free soft tub margarine spread
1 (10-ounce) package marshmallows
6 cups crisp brown rice cereal
1/4 cup flaxseed meal

Coat an 8x8-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Melt the margarine in a large pot over low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the rice cereal and flaxseed, and stir until the rice is well coated with marshmallow. Press the mixture into the baking dish and let cool before cutting into squares.

Makes 8 large squares.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A gift from God

I love the verse in Ephesians 3:20 that says that God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or think. He has done something so wonderful in an area of my life that I have been wanting to share with you.

Many of you know from reading my blog or knowing me personally that becoming a mother has been a huge desire of mine. After losing a couple of babies, I wondered if I'd ever hear a child call me Mom. make a long story short, over the holidays we found out that Little S will become a permanent member of our family. We are sooo excited about this news! When she first came, we did not know how long she would be with us as she was an emergency placement. After spending one night with us, a judge sent her back home. But later that day, was placed back with us after a social services worker noticed more things in her home that were not safe. Even in that, I know God was working on Little S's story. She was meant to be with us for good. We have fallen in love with this beautiful curly-topped girl. She was not born from my womb, but I feel like it sometimes. Our hearts are knit together as one.;)

We have so much to learn as we begin the process of adopting her, but we know that God will continue to help us through each step. Many of you have been praying, so I thank you so much for doing so.

As a way to celebrate, I got a new charm for my bracelet--her birthstone!

We will keep you posted on our adoption journey. Please continue to keep us in your prayers. Perhaps I will be able to share a picture when it is all said and done.

And by the way, she calls me "Mama."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Our advent calendars

Q and I enjoyed beginning some traditions with the girls during the holiday season. One of them was the advent calendars. Do you remember when I bought this one?

I bought it almost two years ago at our local thrift store. It was missing a couple of pieces, so I made a felt baby Jesus (I also set out to make another star, but didn't get to it...oh well...). We took turns filling up the nativity scene until the day before Christmas.

Before we had kids I knew that I wanted to do the book advent calendar. All you do is wrap books and number them. You can do 25 or however many Christmas books you have, then read one a day until Christmas.

Even though I own over twenty Christmas books (and could have borrowed a couple from the library), I decided to do ten books that do not focus on Santa, reindeer, the Grinch, etc,--but rather on the real meaning of Christmas, and a couple of fun ones (like snowmen). Our girls are very impressionable, especially the eldest who came from a home that only focused on the "pretend" things of the season. The fun books can be enjoyed much later, as I wanted to instill the real focus of Christmas during their early years.

The last book we read through has eleven chapters, so we were able to read something almost every day during the month of December. I have made a special note of that one at the bottom of my list. Here are some great options for you that mostly focus on Jesus' birthday. Hope this is a help to you if you'd like to try this.

The Crippled Lamb, by Max Lucado
Merry Christmas, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond
The Story of Christmas, by Patricia A. Pingry
The Legend of the Christmas Stocking, by Rick Osborne
Snow What Fun! When Snowmen come to life on Christmas Eve, by Cheryl Hawkinson
Jingle Bell Sleigh, by Monique Z. Stephens
Simeon and the Baby Jesus, by Evelyn Marzhausen
ABC is for Christmas, by Jane Werner Watson
The Christmas Story, by Jane Werner
The Twelve Days of Christmas, illustrated by Sheilah Beckett
The Animals' Christmas Eve, by Gale Wiersum
The Gift of the Magi, adapted from the story by O. Henry, illustrated by Robert Sauber
The Legend of the Candy Cane, by Lori Walburg
Little Miss Spider-A Christmas Wish, by David Kirk
The Christmas Star, story adapted by Moira Butterfield
The ABC's of Christmas, by Jane Belk Moncure
The Candymaker's Gift, by David and Helen Haidle
A Little House Christmas (Holiday Stories from the Little House Books), by Laura Ingalls Wilder
One Wintry Night, by Ruth Bell Graham (This was the final book we did with eleven chapters. It is my absolute favorite. It covers sin and our need for the Savior and highlights a few notable characters from the Bible before ending with the Nativity and life/death of Christ.)

A scarf for Miss C

When A and I were planning on what to make for Christmas gifts, we stumbled upon a cute scarf in the November 2011 issue of Family Fun Magazine. There was a neat section on things kids could make for their favorite people. Miss C is A's kindergarten teacher and she is awesome; she is exactly what A has needed this year. She is loving, fun and consistent. We adore her!

A helped me choose the colors of fleece--red and purple. Because she was coming down with sickness, she just didn't feel well enough to help me put this together. So, I taught her as I wove the fabric strips in and out of the scarf. Then, I added a fringe at the ends. Hopefully if we make this again for someone else, A will be able to do this project with very little help. We all thought it came out pretty cute!:)

What gifts did your children give to their teachers this year?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Glitter snowflake

During A's Christmas break, we put this incredible snowflake together:

It's the cutest decoration for the winter season. Do you know what it's made out of? Look closely--

If you guessed Q-tips, you're right! This project was found in Family Fun Magazine's December 2011 issue. After you wrap a large piece of cardboard with plastic wrap, you arrange 18 cotton swabs as shown in the picture above. We used glitter glue at each point, but they recommended using tacky glue then sprinkling glitter onto the glue (I guess it depends on how messy you want to get, right?). You let your snowflake(s) dry overnight then find a place to hang it with monofilament line. Pretty neat, huh? :)

My gift to A

Since this last fall, A has been wanting her very own scarf. I was lending her mine on those very cold days on our walk to school. Little did she know that I was working on one as a gift for Christmas (I just love surprises, don't you?:).

Many days and hours later, this pink and green beauty, done only in a garter stitch was finally completed. The fringe went on the night before Christmas, so I was relieved to have it done.

After church that morning, Q took the girls outside to take pictures of them in their special dresses while I worked on lunch. I put the scarf on and waited for A to come in the door. She immediately noticed and asked about it. I asked her if she liked it and then told her it was hers. We took a couple of pictures and her face says it all (wish I could show you but because she's in foster care, can't do it). I was unsure how many things I could make this year, but I knew I had to do this one for her. She wears her scarf proudly everywhere and she lets people know that "Mommy Q" (her nickname for me) made it just for her.

This is a memory of Christmas I will never forget.

Simply cute and whimsical

This year for Christmas, the girls were flooded with gifts from family and friends. This was our first year as parents, so it was fun to see their reactions as they opened up their gifts. As you all know, I love giving and receiving handmade gifts. They are so special and heartfelt. When A opened up the package that contained these aprons, she was ecstatic!

She's been wanting an apron to use when she cooks and bakes with me so this was awesome! The smaller apron is for Little S, but she is not too sure what to think of it right now. They came from my youngest sister, who made them with the help of our mom. She chose the best colors, which I am in awe of. Great job, Raquel!

I really like the pleats at the top of the biggest apron.

This patchwork bird applique' is sooo adorable!

There were a few places where the stitching was done in a curvy fashion. I love all of the details, time and effort they put into these. They will definitely be something I will not part with when the girls outgrow them either. They will make great heirlooms.:)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A favorite holiday pie

As I've been planning on what to write here over the next few weeks, I couldn't pass up sharing a few holiday favorites, including this pie:

It is no ordinary pie, either as it has three layers of sweetness! On the bottom is a chocolate layer, followed by a cheesecake layer in the center, then to top it all off, a pumpkin pie layer!

I found the recipe for Pumpkin-Chocolate Cheesecake Pie in Better Homes and Garden's Annual Recipe Book from 2008. You'll definitely want to try it for a holiday, birthday or other special event. Enjoy!

Pumpkin-Chocolate Cheesecake Pie

1 recipe Deep-Dish Pie Pastry (see at bottom of recipe)
12 oz. cream cheese, softened (1-1/2 8 oz. pkgs.)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate pieces
1 15-oz can pumpkin
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup half-and-half or light cream
chopped chocolate (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare and roll out Deep Dish Pie Pastry. Transfer pastry to a 9-1/2 to 10-inch deep-dish pie plate. Trim crust edge 1/2 inch beyond pie plate. Flute edge high. Line pastry with double thickness of foil. Bake 8 minutes. Remove foil; bake 6 minutes more or until golden. Cool on wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
2. In medium mixing bowl combine cream cheese, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 1 egg; beat on low speed until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture in cooled pastry shell. Sprinkle with chocolate pieces.
3. In bowl combine pumpkin, brown sugar, and pie spiece. Stir in 4 eggs. Gradually stir in half-and-half. Slowly pour pumpkin mixture on chocolate layer. To preven overbrowning, cover pie edge with foil.
4. Bake 60-65 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Remove foil. Cool on wire rack. Cover and refrigerate within 2 hours. Top with chopped chocolate. Makes 8 servings.

Deep-Dish Pie Pastry--In medium bowl stir together 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Using pastry blender or two knives, cut in 6 tablespoons shortening until pieces are pea size. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cold water over part of flour mixture; gently toss with fork. Push moistened dough to side of bowl. Repeat, using 1 tablespoon water at a time, until all flour is moistened (5 to 6 tablespoons total). Form into ball. On lightly floured surface, flatten dough. Roll pastry from center to edge to 13-inch circle.

Top with whipped cream if you'd like--yum!:)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Come and join me....

Happy new year, everyone!

Life has been busy, but this year I've got a plan to keep up with the important things in life. I love organization, but with the girls joining our family this last year, things around the house have become very disorganized. I was simply surviving as a wife, mom, and keeper of my home. This year I really want to thrive!

So....for the past couple of weeks, I've been reading, researching and trying out new things to help me be all that I can be for the Lord and my family. Here are a few things that I am beginning in this new year, that I hope will help you as well:

Personal Growth: I know that I can't do anything well without the Lord's help, so I'm striving to get to know Him better through Bible reading. A devotional book by Jason Janz called, Alone with God, should help me with this goal. I'd also like to read some books and on the top of the list are....Changed into His Image, by Jim Berg, The Ministry of Motherhood, by Sally Clarkson and Kisses from Katie, by Katie Davis.

Home Organization: I found a neat website called Home Storage Solutions 101 and I love it! Each week, you're given a new area in your home to tackle and get organized. This week's challenge has been to clear kitchen counters for more space and to keep your sink free of dirty dishes as much as possible. It's been a little bit of a challenge, but I'm already seeing improvement. I've already begun next week's challenge--kitchen cupboards! If you sign up for their emails, you will receive a weekly task for the whole year.

Menu Planning and preparation: I am still going to be using E-mealz as much as possible, but I needed to find a way to write out what I'm going to be preparing for each meal every week. If you click here, you'll find several templates to help you with meal planning. I'm currently using design #4 and I have it posted on my refrigerator for easy reference.

Mothering with Purpose: As a new mom, I'm enjoying spending time with the girls. But, I have found with not being very organized with the above mentioned things, that it hasn't left much time on teaching times and special activities with the girls. So, I'm going to be working this week with A on a craft and cooking list. There are so many things she wants to learn how to do, so we're going to make a list and aim for at least one a week. I'm also working on getting some busy boxes together for Little S. Having a better routine with this active 16-month-old will help her grow, but also keep her out of trouble. Yes, I've seen her get bored with toys, and that's when she pretends she's a tornado and all of our belongings are strewn all over the house.:)

Of course, these are just a few areas of my life; there is so much room for growth in my marriage, church ministry responsibilities, musical abilities, crafting, and community involvement. I haven't written down ideas for these other things yet, but I will in the days ahead. Each new year is like a blank canvas. It has no mistakes in it; it just has room for it to become beautiful. I know that the Lord can enable us to become more beautiful in His eyes as we strive to please Him in every area of our lives.

How about you? What new things would you like to accomplish this year?