Monday, December 29, 2008


For years I have wanted to make an ice candle holder and this was the year it was going to happen. I had a mammoth ice cream container (if I had to guess it was about a 3 gallon container) just begging to be used. I duct taped another container inside and filled the outer container with water and froze in my chest freezer overnight. I would have liked to put cranberries and greenery inside before filling with water but that didn't happen this time. Mr. Steady was nice enough to free the ice from it's container and placed a candle in it. It was beautiful and worth the effort. And God was so nice to drop the temperature Christmas Eve to freezing so we were able to enjoy the candle holder another day.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Recycled Crayons

Do you have hundreds of little broken and dirty crayons bits in your crayon box? I am a bit of a crayon snob and like to have fresh, new, pointy crayons for the children. Add to that the fact that I teach preschool Sunday School and I was left with a lot of yucky crayons bits. So instead of pitching them, I divided them by colors, melted them in the microwave and molded them using clear chocolate candy molds. I had to microwave mine for about 8-10 minutes for each batch. There has got to be a better way but the boy's friends each got a new Christmas-y crayon and I got rid of my stash. I saved the red, pink and white ones for Valentine's day.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Redecorating is a Pain

I am in the process of updating the look and feel of the blog, please be patient and check back on Monday.

Slow Cooker Chocolate Pudding Cake with Peppermint Sauce

I found this recipe in this year's Gooseberry Patch Christmas 10th Anniversary book. I served it on Christmas Eve and it was so delicious! I served it warm with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, and peppermint sauce. Even Mr. Steady, who typically does not like chocolate enjoyed this one. It serves 10-12.

Slow Cooker Chocolate Pudding Cake
18.25 oz package chocolate cake mix
3.8 oz package instant chocolate pudding mix
2 c. sour cream
4 eggs
1 c. water
3/4 c. oil
1/4 t. salt
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
non-stick vegetable spray
whipped cream or ice cream

Combine dry cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, eggs, water, oil and salt in a mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips. pour into a slow cooker sprayed with non-stick vegetable spray. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs. Serve topped with whipped cream or ice cream.

Peppermint Sauce
1 1/2 cups crushed peppermint candies (leave wrapper on candy and keep in bag, pound with a hammer to crush)
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow cream
Combine all ingredients and stir over medium heat until crushed candy dissolved. Keep in refrigerator until about 30 minutes before serving. Makes 2 cups. Delicious over vanilla ice cream.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Our family's traditional Christmas dessert is Three Milk Cake. I use it to illustrate to the boys that Jesus came to this earth to save us from our sins and wash us whiter than snow (the color of the cake), that Jesus is part of the trinity (three milks), and the wise men came from very far away (this cake's origins are from Latin America). It is a very unusual cake, not at all like typical cake. It is covered with whipped cream and served with a sauce of the three milks. We put birthday candles in it and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. The cake itself has a flavor like that of a cream puff and is almost like a sponge cake. Try it the next time you are serving Mexican or Latin American food for dinner.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Our Favorite Salad

This is one of those salads that when you first look at the list of ingredients you think "No way would those flavors go well together," until you taste it and wonder how you will ever eat plain ol' salad again. We recently had this with sesame sticks instead of banana chips and I think I prefer it that way.

Our Favorite Salad
1 head iceberg lettuce
1/2 head lead lettuce
2 large granny smith apples, diced
1/2 lb red seedless grapes, halved
3/4 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
1/2 c. banana chips, chopped
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. sunflower kernels

Tear lettuces into bite sized pieces. In separate bowl/bag mix walnuts, banana chips, dried cranberries, and sunflower kernels. Sprinkle over salad just before serving. Add apples, grapes and cheese. Add salad dressing to taste.

Honey Poppy Seed Dressing
1 t. dry mustard
2 t. poppy seeds
1 t. paprika
1/2 t. garlic powder
1 t. minced onion
3 T. sugar
2 T. honey
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 1/4 c. salad oil

Mix dry ingredients. Add vinegar and honey. Beat in mixer on low speed. Add oil slowly. Continue to beat on medium; increase to high.

Gooey's Broccoli Cheese Soup

UPDATED: OOPS! My fingers move faster than my brain sometimes. Kenny D just pointed out to me that I put spinach instead of broccoli. That would be fine and dandy if you wanted Spinach Cheese Soup but that wouldn't be Gooey's recipe. Try it with broccoli instead, that will work better. Yes siree.

I don't know where this recipe originally came from but Kenny D's grandma "Gooey" used to make it every year for the woman's fellowship Christmas bazaar. It's not your typical cream soup, it's thin (which fools me into thinking it's healthier) but so flavorful and delicious. And it makes a boatload too, 4 quarts. I like to package it in 1 pound deli containers and I usually get at least 6-7 cona.

Gooey's Broccoli Cheese Soup
2 T. oil
6 c. water
6 bouillon cubes
3/4 c. dried minced onion
8 oz. fine egg noodles
1 t. salt
2 (10 oz) boxes, frozen chopped *broccoli*
6 c. milk
1/8 t. garlic powder
1 lb Velveeta cheese, cubed

Mix oil, water, bouillon cubes, and onion together in a large pot. Heat to boiling, stir until bouillon cubes dissolve. Gradually add noodles and salt so that the mixture continues to boil. Cook uncovered for 3 minutes. Stir in frozen broccoli and garlic powder, cook for 4 minutes. Add cheese and milk, cook slowly until cheese is melted. Do not cover when cooking or reheating.


Teacher's Gift

For the boys' teacher's Christmas presentsBroccoli Cheese Soup
Our Favorite Salad with Honey Poppyseed Dressing

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oh Beautiful Star of Bethlehem

Speaking of my front door and beautiful friend Marcella...look what she made for me! We have a metal door so Mr. Steady helped me hang it by placing a tack on the top of the door and hanging a ribbon, this particular one is a strip of burlap. The Nester suggested doing this but I would have never had the nerve to ask (especially since I thought the door was metal all the way through). Looking at her picture again makes me want to paint my door black. Isn't my star purty?

As a side note, Marcella saw my bedroom last night and made the comment that the pictures on here do not do it justice. My monitor is a little darker than most so when I edit my photos I make them pretty on my end (well, I do the best I can with what I have to work with). I have no idea what they look like on your end. Just come over and see it in real life...and have a bag of Floor Sweepings too :o)

Thanks for Stopping By

My dear, dear friend Marcella told me about a book called Sentimental Living: On the Porch by Alda Ellis. It is a beautiful book and full of great ideas, tips and recipes.

One idea that I especially loved is having a hospitality basket by the front door full of edible gifts for your guests. I immediately thought of my Floor Sweepings that I love to make around Christmas time. Since we are on a non-existent budget I had to make do with some wrappings and trimmings I had here. I filled wax bags, then folded over the top and stapled a piece of stamped card stock to the top.

Alda suggests keeping this basket (I used my grandpa's old enamel wash basin) full all year of different seasonal goodies. Right now I don't have a good place to put this. The bowl is currently sitting on the dresser. My front door opens right into my living room/stairway and I have six little hands which are as curious and think they are as hungry as the day is long. I'd like to find a little table to place by the door with maybe a mirror above it. I am going to keep my eyes open for ideas and I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

High Tea Lemon Cookies

I found this recipe complete with beautiful pictures on this website. I bookmarked it and decided I couldn't hold off making them any longer. The cookie is almost a shortbread and not quite as lemony as I would have thought but when you put the icing It's good.
Here's what you'll need (notice no eggs - add this to your repertoire of recipes when you are out of eggs and company is coming)
And here is the final result...they are everything the author promised.

The added bonus was the delicious aroma that tickled my nose when I came back home. I might just have to zest a lemon more often, if only for the aroma!

Good Trade

I made a pretty good trade, I'd say.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sugarplum Fairies

These little gals are all dressed up with somewhere to go! This is my offering for our cookie exchange tonight for our Ladies' Christmas Party. They are my favorite Christmas cookie, I remember making them with my mom when I was younger. There is a maraschino cherry hiding under that decadent fudge-like frosting.

The basic recipe can be found here. My original recipe is called Chocolate Cherry Sugarplums and has a few changes to it. Instead of adding the cherry and frosting before baking, the original has you press the cherry halves into the cookie immediately after removing from the oven, then frosting when cool, which is what I do. And none of this drizzling stuff, slather it on. Actually the frosting is so fudgy I usually just put a dollop to cover the cherry and it spreads on its own. The recipe yields almost 2 1/2 dozen but the frosting will easily frost 5 dozen so I always double the cookie recipe but you could just as easily halve the frosting recipe.

Priorities and Compromises

Last week one of my dearest friends emailed me asking for tips on prioritizing for the holidays and making the holiday special with the nuclear family. I just about fell off my chair, I don't know whether it was because she thought I had an answer to that or because I think she is one of the most together, in control, coolest people I know.

I understand her plight and don't have many answers. I am slowly learning that my childhood traditions don't have to be my children's traditions. I am trying to let go of the control I like to have over how things look and feel. Mr. Steady recently found a great quote that basically said you can't force true joy, it just comes in little pockets, small snippets and you relish it while you have it, then wait for it. You can find it everywhere you look but you can't plan for it.

What I want and what I get are usually not the same thing. So I compromise, and I won't lie to you, sometimes I do not do so willing. I have to step back and ask myself, "What result am I going for here?"

Remember my cupcake compromise?
Goal: Bring 20 cupcakes to a harvest party for second graders
What I wanted: Imperfect, homemade confections in foil cups
What I got: Store made, too perfect, obnoxiously colored cupcakes
Benefit: With the time I saved, I carved pumpkins with the boys and made memories
Goal: Send Christmas cards to loved ones
What I wanted: Homemade, cool, hip cards with a mod color scheme (please don't steal that design, I'm starting now on next year's cards).
What I got: Store-bought cards with a cute children's drawing.
Benefit: Got my cards addressed and sent before Christmas for the first year in who knows how long.

Goal: Create a gingbread house with my children.
What I wanted: Eclectic little cottage with Necco wafer or Shredded Wheat roof, a little fence made of pretzels and mounds of glittery snow
What I got: A sugar high
Benefit: The boys and I had fun and they have a gingerbread house they can be proud of and take joy in.

Maybe our expectations are too high. Maybe we're looking for perfection. I wonder if my children even know what perfection is. They would probably look at my perfect gingerbread house and their gingerbread house and still decide they liked theirs better. So this year I am purposing to let them guide me a little more. Allow my children to set the agenda. Not run the show, mind you. But I want the freedom to decline a party invitation just to stay at home with a board game and a bowl of popcorn. Maybe that's not the answer to my dear friend's question but I'm going to give it a try.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Christmas Bus

While we were away I managed to carve out some time for pleasure reading. I started and finished The Christmas Bus by Melody Carlson. It is very light and easy reading with a warm message. It was a nice break from the heavier thoughts of the day but not so fluffy that your thoughts can get carried away. What are you reading?

Friday, December 12, 2008


We're home. We've just spent four days with the sweetest couple and learned *SO* much about Jesus and just gotten to know Him better. He is such an awesome God and I just want to wake up each morning to be a blessing to my dear honey of a husband and sweet children. I discovered this week that God speaks to me through word pictures. I will pray about sharing them with you from time to time. It's amazing how we hear Him when we are truly listening to and for Him. He is AWESOME!

The boys and I made Floor Sweepings tonight. Some may call it White Christmas mix. Sorry I don't have pictures to share. Here's the recipe:
6 c. Cheerios
5 c. corn Chex
4 c. pretzel sticks
2 c. M&Ms
2 c. cocktail peanuts
1 lb white chocolate bark.
Mix all but bark together. Melt bark and pour over cereal mixture. Mix well and pour out onto wax paper to set. Break apart when set to bite sized pieces.

Planning on making cookies for our ladies' Christmas party and cookie exchange on Saturday. Looking forward to extending His grace and seeing what truths He has for me today.

I pray that your day is a blessed one - He loves you and He wants you to rest in His promises.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

No, trust me...there is NO Santa Claus

Some parents go to great lengths to convince their children Santa Claus visits them every year. They wake up in the middle of the night, ring bells, eat cookies, sprinkle fake snow around their feet, and some even dress up like the jolly old elf.

I have told my children since they were old enough to understand that Santa Claus is not real. And yet...they don't believe me.

Here are some converstations that occured last week:

The Thinker: "Mom, did you know that there really was a man named Saint Nick? He used to work in a toy shop"
Me: "Well, you're right that he was a real man but he didn't work in a toy shop. There was a poor man in his town and so one night Saint Nick left some money on his doorstep...(insert rest of story in which the boys completely tuned out)...but that's nothing like what people think Santa Claus is today"
The Thinker: "Why are you being disrepectful to Saint Nick?"

Same Day...
The Reader: "Mom, can I have this little notebook?"
Me: "Not today but maybe I can put it in your stocking"
The Reader: " MOM! I wanted it to be a surprise who puts stuff in my stocking!"

Five Minutes Later...
The Thinker: "Mom, can we put out milk and cookies for Santa again this year?"
Me (thinking we solved this problem last year): "We'll see"
The Reader: "And this time tell Daddy NOT to eat the cookies."

A Couple of Nights Later...
Me: "Now, remember, your friends at school think that Santa is real so don't ruin their Christmas by telling them he is not, that's our little secret, okay?"
The Thinker: "But Mom, he IS real!"

I give up.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Freshening Up Frugally

Scrapbook paper is a great way to freshen up the look of your house. It's cheap to begin with and it regularly goes on sale at Hobby Lobby. Remember my house number project...

and the tiny picture frame I had no picture for? Just add scrapbook paper!

I bought one of these frames then later found two more in brown that matched it. Mr. Steady spray painted them for me (do you see a pattern with Mr. Steady and the spray paint?) and now I just need to buy matching mats for them. But until then we'll enjoy them this way for the winter.

For the "J" and "Y" I found a font I liked in Publisher and flipped it the letters on the monitor so they were backwards. Then I traced them onto vellum by holding up the vellum to my monitor. Then, using transfer paper, I traced them onto the *back* of my black scrapbook paper. Then I cut them out and applied with adhesive. The "O" is just a paper snowflake cut out of plain white printer paper. These frames are 10x13 so I took reversible scrapbook paper and when I cut the 2" off the side for the 10", I applied it to the top of the other side to accommodate the extra 1" and let it overlap a bit.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More cheap, cheap artwork

Last week I showed you my Haven sign and butterfly prints. Today I'd like to show you my skeleton keys. I don't know how or when but I started picking up skeleton keys here and there. When Mr. Steady's grandma sold her house I was able to choose a few things to keep. Among the treasures were three skeleton keys.

So when brainstorming ideas for artwork and with the revelation that one of the found skeleton keys operated our bedroom door I decided to incorporate the keys. I took two thrifted picture frames that Mr. Steady spray painted for me ($0.19 each) and hot glued wool felt to the back. Then I hot glued the keys in place, except the one that fits our bedroom door. I tied a piece of pretty ribbon to the door key and attached a pin to the cardboard so the key could be hung and removed. This is probably my favorite piece in the whole room!

Monday, December 8, 2008

This is the Post Where I Expose My Ego

I am so way cooler than I thought. I found this moss topiary at Hobby Lobby (sorry for the graininess of the picture) and thought it would fit perfectly in our bedroom. It was half off so used some gift money to buy it. When I got it home Mr. Steady laughed at it. But I was undeterred because I really, really like it.

Then the other day I was browsing the Nester's blog because I only do that like five times a day and stumbled across this post, and there at the bottom of the post, on top of her newly cleaned refrigerator was MY moss rock pile topiary thing. And I said to myself "Self, the Nester has that same topiary!" So there...I am cool. And I do have good taste. Because go ahead and tell me that the Nester doesn't have good taste.

Okay, putting my ego back away now. Just had to share.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

"...and when they approached the little house they saw that it was built of bread and covered with cakes, but that the windows were of clear sugar. "We will set to work on that," said Hansel, "and have a good meal. I will eat a bit of the roof, and you Gretel, can eat some of the window, it will taste sweet." Hansel reached up above, and broke off a little of the roof to try how it tasted, and Gretel leant against the window and nibbled at the panes." Hansel and Gretel, Brothers Grimm

Cheap, cheap artwork

Most of the walls in my house are bare. That is because I'm a bit meticulous when it comes to matching artwork and I never want to pay much for it. And up until now I have been scared to do anything cool and artsy like Jill and Monica.

But desperate times call for desperate measures and I wanted beautiful things hanging on my walls in my new bedroom! So what else is there to do but shop the house just like the Nester would do!

I took a tray that I bought at a garage sale for $0.10 and asked Mr. Steady to paint it brown. Then I printed some words out on the computer, traced them with transfer paper and painted in the words.

It's not perfect and it's not exactly how I wanted it but I like the way it turned out and I love the message it sends to my honey and me.

I also remembered a decoupage book someone had given me. I dug the book out to see what I could find. I was pleased to find some butterflies that would compliment the room. Now what to do with them? I pulled out a couple of pieces of card stock and mounted paint chips on it. Then I mounted the butterflies on pop dots and added them. Paint bristles in black paint for the antennae and the first picture was done! I popped it into a thrifted picture frame I picked up for $0.69 that Mr. Steady spray painted for me and was thrilled with the results.

Next I had a larger picture frame Mr. Steady had also painted. But I didn't have a larger piece of scrapbook paper. So I took some fabric left over from the throw pillows and hot glued it to a piece of cardboard. I printed out a scripture that I liked, mounted a tiny caterpillar and a bigger butterfly and added them to the frame.

Stop back next week for more cheap, cheap artwork.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Great Customer Service

I want to highlight a company who I believe has great customer service in addition a great product. I happen to enjoy a Godiva Dark Chocolate and Raspberry bar on occasion (very rare occasion since they are about $2.50 each). I thought I would treat myself on the last day of class and picked up a bar at the bookstore.

I waited until I got home to enjoy it and I was sorely disappointed to find that it was chalky and grainy when I bit into it. I knew this was not Godiva quality chocolate so I decided to email the company. I got a rapid response and a form was emailed to me, which I filled out and emailed back.

Two weeks later a small box appeared on my doorstep and look what was in it!

I thought this looked like it might make a good Christmas present, or perhaps stocking stuffers? Thank you Godiva for your great customer service!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Did you know?

I had no idea Jewel was blogging again. I followed her like a weird crazed groupie last summer and then she abruptly shut down her blog. I hadn't thought of her much lately until I happened on another blog that mentioned her. Her family just intrigues me and her pictures are like candy for your eyes. I hope you'll visit her even if just once. Just be careful because her pretty blog can be a big distraction. Ask me how I know!

Advent Calendar

Remember the Advent Calendar Pockets I told you I was working on? Well, they are finally done! I borrowed the idea from Jenny and adapted it to fit my decor. You can find the pattern on her blog. Jenny used cute little dangles with a Pennsylvania Dutch flavor to them. I wanted to incorporate the scripture readings from our Jesse tree ornaments so I simply numbered my dangles and wrote the scripture for each day on it.

I chose to leave the pockets themselves unnumbered, mostly because I couldn't get my numbers to look right when I stitched them on. I tea stained each dangle and the string. I really like the way it turned out, there is another row of pockets on the top of my mantle, as we have a double mantle.. I thought Jenny's idea of including a peppermint bark in each pocket was rich but the boys don't care for peppermint so I put two Hershey kisses in every other pocket.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Don't Eat Your Veggies

My children love their VeggieTales nativity set. I like to put the set out as close to the beginning of December as possible so they can enjoy it. They love to move the characters all around and take the cow costume off of Jimmy and Jerry. I took this picture today to share with you.

But when I popped the memory card into the reader to upload the pictures I found these pictures

Maybe these are their vacation pictures or maybe it's the cast party. Yup, the Veggies are having a party in my bathroom. Let's just hope they didn't try the swimming pool. Ew.

Monday, December 1, 2008


That's what I am, thanks to God and this lovely group of my dear sisters. I was gifted with a pampering shower to celebrate Mr. Steady and my renewal of our marriage vows. We were given our bedding and lots of beautiful treats, including pillows, the flower wall hanging in our room, candles, trays, towels, words, pampering treats and best of all, love and prayers.

See that one there in the bright green jacket holding the pillows? She's the mastermind behind this and really quite onery. But I love her to death and thank God for her everyday - such a friend! Thank you dear heart!

Thank you each and every one for being such a dear friend and sister! You are each a blessing to me!


Click here for a slide show of details. There are a few touches here and there that are not yet finished, shelves on the wall, curtains (can't wait to show you them when they're finished!), and a slipcover waiting to be dyed.
Our weekend was absolutely wonderful. If you are ever looking for a romantic getaway, The Inn at Dresden is your place. Wonderful hospitality, exquisite accommodations (we stayed in the Dresden Suite but got to peek at most of them, I don't think you could have a bad night's stay there!) and gourmet food (try the crab cakes - to die for!). Thank you, blessed friends, for making this possible!