Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Homemaker Monday - November 29


The weather in my neck of the woods:
42 degrees but with this crazy wind it feels even less.  It's pretty cold out there.

Things that make me happy:
Warm cups of hot chocolate with a dollop of whipped cream

Book I'm reading:
Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul (very cute book)

What's on my TV today:
Probably some more Christmas movies, not sure

On the menu for dinner:
Ham, Swiss and Caramelized Onion Pizza

On my To Do List:

Put away laundry
Sweep and Mop

New Recipe I tried or want to try soon:
Homemade Dulce de Leche

In the craft basket:
Finishing up my last pockets for the Advent Calendar

Looking forward to this week:
Heading to Flagstaff this weekend to cut down our own Christmas tree

Tips and Tricks:
Make the whole Christmas decorating, a family affair.  Get the kids involved, put on some Christmas music, bake some cookies and have fun.

My favorite blog post this week:
No blog reading yet

Blog Hopping (a new discovered blog you would like to share with the readers):
Diary of a Seamstress

No words needed (favorite photo or picture, yours or others you want to share):

Lesson learned the past few days:

To not overdo it

On my mind:
Still my children, I'm stressing a lot and I'm at a crossroads, not sure which way to go with their schooling.  We decided to let them finish out this year and then switch to homeschooling but it just seems that every single day there is a new issue in their school and I'm tired and frustrated having to deal with it.  Please pray for some resolve, for some ease of mind or something for me and my family. 

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.

— Psalm 136:1 (NIV)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christmas has arrived.........

our household has been abuzz with the spirit of Christmas, for the past 3 days.


We had already done the outside decorations but as soon as Thanksgiving was behind us, the inside decorations came out and since then we've been completely immersed in everything Christmas.  From tinsel to stockings and trees and hot nightly drives to see how the other homes have decorated for the season, and in between all this, a plethora of Christmas movies.

The Search for Santa Paws, The Polar Express, The 12 dogs of Christmas, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Elf and many more to come.

Have you put your tree up?


For years we've had an artificial tree, one of those 7 feet tall with the lights already attached.  It's worked for us but this year we decided that we really want to create memories for the kids, we want to go all out and do a traditional Christmas tree.

So as I mentioned yesterday, we're heading out next weekend to cut down a real tree, but for the meantime we thought, why not put out the artificial one and throw just a few ball ornaments here and there, a plain star on the top and leave it like that until we get our other one.  Once that one comes into the home, this one will go outside as a decoration for the yard.

But just like normal Christmas lights, you put them away while still working and then pull them out the next year only to find that they don't work anymore, nothing lights up. 


We spent 2 hours taking the lights off the tree, I don't know WHO came up with this design but let me tell you, it's ridiculous.  Those lights were wrapped around each branch and then around each other and through each other and knotted together and by the third branch we were actually cutting them off.

But off they came, the tree went up and we took a quick break to watch a movie, while I stranded together some popcorn for a garland.


I want to keep this Christmas simple, with simple decorations, just like it used to be many years ago.


So here's our tree, or should I say, our temporary tree.


Of course my Christmas Village had to go up too, matter of fact is the first inside decoration to be put together. 


I love it so much and I often walk by and just stand there for a few minutes, just looking, imagining it coming to life.


Every year I add to it, one more little house, one more little tree, one more little scene.  I'm always on the lookout for the perfect piece to join the collection.


Our advent calendar is also up and ready to be filled on On November 31st. 


I'm still trying to figure out exactly what will go into this one this year, so if you have any ideas, feel free to post them in my comments, I would love to have some new ones.

So there you go, that's what we've been up to the past few days, that and my new bloggy template which I threw together rather quickly this morning.  Makes me feel like I'm in that little house, in the middle of a snow covered mountain.  Ahhhhh!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Stuffed and Thankful!


I'm utterly stuffed, content and exhausted, all wrapped into one little ball.

The preparations for Thanksgiving began two days ago, with lots of baking and prepping for the main event.


The meal in itself was wonderful, we filled our tummies and we chit chatted and laughed with our friends.

By the time the night rolled around, I was dead on my feet and managed to drag myself into a hot shower where I stood for quite a while, just letting the warm water comfort my aching feet and back.  A little bit of tv with some Dr Quinn and I fell into a deep sleep.

It felt good.

I woke up this morning feeling refreshed though the aching body is still a reminder of two days of non stop kitchen work.

So here I am, sipping on some chai tea while the rest of the household is slowly coming to life. 

The plans for today?  None.  I'm not one for Black Friday shopping, never was and never will be, I just can't muster the courage to go stand in super long lines for hours on end, in the cold weather, just to get something a few dollars cheaper.  I will gladly pay the full price or do it online.

Inside Christmas decorations are going up today, save for the Christmas tree, that is coming next weekend.

We are making a trip up to Flagstaff to cut our own tree, to play in the snow, to enjoy some hot cocoa and to fill my childrens heads with memories to last them a lifetime.  Oh there will be many pictures to record the event, you can be sure that my laptop and my camera will be making the short drive with us.

I hope you are all having a blessed lazy day and enjoying all those leftovers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Menu!

I'm elbow deep in the kitchen, with splotches of flour here and there, pumpkin pulp, a thawed out turkey and all the makings of a great meal.

It's usually just us 4 for Thanksgiving, but this year we're having a family friend of ours spend it with us, it's their last year on this base and they're not going anywhere, so we're getting together and eating and drinking and laughing.  It's what Thanksgiving is all about.

With that said, I know that at this time of the year, the day right before Thanksgiving, there is a flurry of excitement all around, the women are busy cleaning their homes and cooking up a storm for the next day's meal, it also tends to lead to panic and stress and things going wrong.

I decided a few years ago that the stress of the whole holiday is just not worth it, so Thanksgiving Day for us is all about being together, sitting down for a big meal where everyone wears comfortable clothes and does not feel guilty about having seconds or thirds OR going back a few hours later with a plate in hand and piling it all back on again.

Maybe it's easier for me to detach myself from the chaos because I love cooking, so hours spent in the kitchen are joyful for me and not unhappy.  One thing I also do is to make some of the desserts and even side dishes the day before, or assemble it all, pop in the fridge and the next morning I just have to crank up the oven and bake them one right after the other.  It really does save me a lot of extra time and gives me the chance to sit down and enjoy myself.

There's nothing worse than seeing everyone having fun while you're stuck in the kitchen trying to quickly finish up dishes.

I'm sure I'll be back tomorrow to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving but for now, I'll leave you with my menu and I'll post some of these recipes on the food blog as I make them.  Most of these, especially the desserts, will be made this afternoon.

What are YOU having for Thanksgiving and what are your plans? 

A relaxed day at home with just the family or are you traveling?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Homemaker Monday - November 22


The weather in my neck of the woods:
Had a little bit of rain yesterday but back to blue skies today.  Temps are nice and cool though so I guess that's something to be happy about.

Things that make me happy:
Hibernating with my family

Book I'm reading:
A Lady Follows by Holly Newman

What's on my TV today:
Not sure, maybe some catching up on DVR'd shows or hopefully Dr Quinn if my Netflix gets here today.

On the menu for dinner:

On my To Do List:

Fold and put away laundy
Sweep and Mop

New Recipe I tried or want to try soon:
Not a new recipe but something from back home in South africa.  Koeksisters....SO good.


In the craft basket:
A lot of things and nothing in particular

Looking forward to this week:
Thanksgiving with my family

Tips and Tricks:
With the holidays around the corner there's always a ton of food to be prepared.  We are usually alone for Thanksgiving so I don't bother with serving dishes.  Disposable foil trays and baking dishes are the best thing, you can cover with Cling Wrap and pop in the fridge and then just toss them when you're done.  Less clean up.

My favorite blog post this week:
Will have to go do some blog reading this morning, so I will come back and add one.

Blog Hopping (a new discovered blog you would like to share with the readers):
Creekside Cottage

No words needed (favorite photo or picture, yours or others you want to share):


Lesson learned the past few days:

To stop stressing about things that are out of my control.

On my mind:
My children and their school, I pray that things will change for the better, the school just seems to be doing a nose dive this year and it keeps going from bad to worse.

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Matthew 16:13-16

Sunday, November 21, 2010

To Hibernate or not????

Why does society feel that in order to have a good weekend and spend time with your family, you need to go out and spend money?  You need to go eat at a restaurant, or go to a movie, or waste gas driving  somewhere where you'll end up spending more money all in the name of a good time.

I've received quite a few emails since my post yesterday about my family hibernating this weekend.  People genuinely surprised and thankful for the idea.  I honestly don't think I'm doing anything that fascinating but I guess I am LOL

A couple also wanted to know what we did this weekend and if we enjoyed it.

The whole point of this weekend hibernation was to shut out the outside world, to not spend money on anything and to just make do with what we had.  We didn't do any work, I didn't do any unnecessary housework, we just hung out, watched movies together, read on our own, pigged out on treats and snacks, ate delicious bowls of yummy soup, some stayed up late, some went to bed early.

We relaxed, plain and simple.  No stresses, no phones ringing or cellphones beeping.....just relaxed.

Honestly, we all enjoyed it so much that I think this will become a monthly deal.  One weekend a month to ourselves, to work on the family bond and closeness, to devote to US.  I don't think it's asking for much and quite frankly, it's a lot cheaper than going out looking for things to do for fun.

So here's a brief look at today:

:::: rain.....for a minute. 

::: you may think I'm exaggerating but I'm really not.  It came down hard and it came down brief, it was a minute maybe two and then it was gone.


:::: spent some time on my laptop, catching up on blog reading, facebooking, working on menus, paying bills etc.

::::: toys thrown here and there.  I usually get so frustrated but this weekend I tried to let it go and surprisingly, I am ok and the world didn't fall apart.

::::: cuddled under a blanket with a hot cup of coffee watching Television

:::::: Aside from a movie with the family here and there, my little one spent many hours playing in his room, using his imagination

I feel recharged and ready to face another week. 

Why don't you give it a try with your family and let me know how it went.  You'll be surprised how restored your soul feels after a weekend like this.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Have you ever just taken the phone off the hook, locked the doors and hibernated for a whole weekend?

It sounds good doesn't it?  Well that's exactly what our little family is doing.

Taking a break from the outside world, from the incessant ringing of the phone and door bells and the need for attention from this one or that one.  Not that I don't like socializing but there are days that I want to take all the energy I have and give it to my family and to myself, not waste it elsewhere.

So we're hibernating.

There's books and movies, there are blankets and pillows on the couches and a snack here and there.  The blinds are closed, the candles are lit and there's been a pot of soup simmering on the stove all day long.  Butternut Squash soup, golden and creamy and filling.

Before I closed our home to the outside world though, I made a quick trip to the library for some much needed reading material, books to take us on adventures and books to educate us, books to teach and books to laugh.

3 bags later, I walked back into our home with the biggest smile on my face.  I don't think there is anything in this world, aside from my family, that could elicit such a feeling of joy from me.

So here's my list, who knows, maybe something will catch your eye and you can add it to your own reading pile.

An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott
Mine Eyes have seen by Ann Rinaldi
Amelia's War by Ann Rinaldi
A Break with Charity - A story about the Salem Witch Trials by Ann Rinaldi
A Lady Follows by Holly Newman
The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich
The Mayflower and the Pilgrim's New World by Nathaniel Philbrick
The Blue Tattoo - The Life of Olive Oatman by Margot Mifflin
Home Life in Colonial Days by Alice Morse Earle
The Foxfire Book 1 - hog dressing, log cabin building, mountain crafts and foods, planting by the signs, snake lore, hunting tales, faith healing, moonshining and other affairs of plain living by Eliot Wigginton
The Foxfire Book 2 - ghost stories, spring wild plant foods, spinning and weaving, midwifing, burial customs, corn shuckin's, wagon making and more affair of plain living by Eliot Wigginto
Frontier Women by Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith
America's Early Settlers by Shirley Jordan
Women of Colonial America by Lydia Bjornlund
Jamestown 1607 by Michael L. Cooper
Native Americans
Discoveries Native Americans

I don't even know where to start, which book to pick up first, they're all so enticing to me that I want to read every single one at the same time, but that can't be done, so I'm going to try and make a choice as hard as it may seem.

I have one last episode to watch from my Dr Quinn Netflix DVD, I just can't seem to keep these in my house for every long, the minute those little red envelopes appear in the mailbox it's a mad dash into the house to pop one into my tv.  Can't tell you how frustrating it is waiting until the new ones arrive and I know I have to wait at least until Monday or Tuesday.  Ugh!

Have a good night all, stay warm.

Scentsy Wick-less Candles Winner!

Wow it looks like a lot of you love the Scentsy candles OR candles in general.  Thank you all for entering the contest and unfortunately, I don't have a prize for each and every single one of you, but don't let that stop you from trying this amazing product.

Now for the winner, they will be receiving a bar of Holiday Scent Silver Bells from Lauren.

I used and the number that came up was:

#34 - Annabelle from Christian Momma

Congratulations Annabelle, I will be contacting you shortly to get your info. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cooking Thursday - November 18

Won't you join me and share with us one of your new recipes, or an old family favorite, you can even throw in a recipe for homemade soaps or detergents (just remember to specify).

For the guidelines, you can go here.


I'm adding this recipe over at Debbi's, she's hosting Presto Pasta Nights tomorrow.  If you want to know more about it, you can also visit Ruth who is the lady who started the Roundup. 


Ranch Macaroni and Cheese
Credit: Taste of Home


* 1 package (16 ounces) elbow macaroni
* 1 cup 2% milk
* 1/4 cup butter, cubed
* 1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
* 1 teaspoon garlic salt
* 1 teaspoon garlic pepper blend
* 1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
* 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
* 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Colby cheese
* 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
* 1/2 cup crushed saltines
* 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese


* Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, combine the milk, butter, dressing mix and seasonings; heat through. Stir in Monterey Jack and Colby cheeses until melted. Stir in sour cream.

* Drain macaroni; stir into cheese sauce with the saltines. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Yield: 8 servings.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Christmas Gift by William Bennett - Review

Every school has its legend; Ben Jackson was Maple Grove Elementary's. He has been held back five years in a row; he was exposed to nuclear radiation as a child; he was raised in the woods by bears. So went the many assessments of Ben Jackson by his sixth-grade peers. Over-sized and under-niced , Ben was the school bully. As the school year begins, new student Scott stands up to Ben, and as a result, becomes Ben s new daily target. From the annoying comments to the humiliating pranks, Ben assures a day doesn't pass without making Scott's life miserable. But in this story of forgiveness, tolerance, and unconditional love, both Scott and Ben make a remarkable transformation that will leave you with a fresh understanding of the meaning of Christmas in your life. 

My thoughts:

To say that this book touched my heart would definitely be an understatement. Yes I know that I often say that about a particularly good book but I'm not putting it lightly when I say that this book was one which will forever leave a mark on my heart, might be because it came at the perfect time when I can actually relate to some of the things in the story.  Not directly but through my daughter who is in sixth grade, the same grade that the two boys in the book are in. 

It also deals with something she's been having to endure and which I've talked about at length here on my blog.....bullying.

It's a quick read and I found myself enthralled with the story, page after page this book warmed my heart but it also taught me a lot, it made me stop to question myself, my choices and actions towards others.  It touches on the lessons of forgiveness and understanding, and the biggest for me was the reminder that doing the right thing isn't always about doing the easy thing, matter of fact, the right thing often means going out of your comfort zone and putting yourself in a vulnerable position.  But in the end, it's the relief that comes with it that matters, guilt can become such a heavy burden on your heart.

I highly recommend this book, I think it should be read by all in the family and especially teens who may be in the same grade, I'm definitely passing it on to my daughter.

Thank you to the publishers for providing me with a copy for this review.  The opinions and thoughts are solely mine.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Scentsy Wick-less Candles Giveaway!

Have you ever heard of the Scentsy Wick-less Candles? 

I'm sure many of you have and know just how wonderful they are.  Well I was contacted by Lauren McKelvey and asked if I wouldn't mind doing a giveaway on my blog in an effort to call attention to her site and also to garner some new customers or possible entrepeneurs interested in becoming consultants.

To have a look at Lauren's Scenty site, you can go here.

Lauren is graciously giving away a bar of Holiday Scent Silver Bells. 

Icy peppermint candy canes dance over warm and welcoming winter pear and crisp apple, all enveloped in a velvety blanket of caramel and vanilla sugar. 

Just perfect for the Holiday Season.

To enter for a chance to win, here is what I need you to do:

-Leave me a comment making sure you have an email address where I can contact you should you win.
-  Head over to Lauren's site and take a look around her Scented Bar section, then let me know what scent you would most like to try.
- Contest is open to US residents only

Simple as that. 

The giveway will end on Saturday the 20th at Midnight.  I will use to draw a winner.
You will have 48 hours to claim your prize or I will have to pick a different winner.  You will receive the Holiday Scent Silver Bell from Lauren.

Good Luck! 

Happy Homemaker Monday - November 15


The weather in my neck of the woods:
47 degrees outside, finally able to throw on some boots and pull out some of my sweaters.  Makes me feel like I'm in it.

Things that make me happy:
Cold weather, believe it or not.

Book I'm reading:
Best of Covered Wagon Women - I am loving this book,  it is the account from 8 different women who braved the trails, in the form of letters and diaries.  I have learned a lot about what happened before, during and after these long month travels.

What's on my TV today:
Paranormal State

On the menu for dinner:
Macaroni with Bacon Sauce

On my To Do List:

Grocery shopping
Change bed linens
Sweep and Mop

New Recipe I tried or want to try soon:
Tacoritos from Taste of Home.  SO good.


In the craft basket:
My usual crochet projects but I'm starting to add some christmas gifts to the list.

Looking forward to this week:
Good week of school for my children.

Tips and Tricks:
Nothing today

My favorite blog post this week:
Haven't done my blog reading yet, will do it this morning and will come back and add a post.

Blog Hopping (a new discovered blog you would like to share with the readers):
Hospitality Lane

No words needed (favorite photo or picture, yours or others you want to share):

Lesson learned the past few days:

To try and make do with what I have and where I am.  It's no use complaining about things that can not be changed.

On my mind:
My children, my husband, my family and all my bloggy friends.

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:10

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Beauty of Growth


I'm often amazed by the way nature works.


It's so easy to completely take it for granted, to overlook the beauty of a simple growing plant, but have you ever just stopped and looked, really looked at the process and the change it goes through?  The different stages?


I never used to until we moved to this house and I found myself with a beautiful lemon tree in my back yard.  Since then I've been astounded by the changes it goes through, by the bad times and the good times cause see even the lemon tree goes through stages where it's not so pretty, where it's limbs are poorly and break off on their own.


But it also picks itself right back up and starts blooming, little green shoots here and there, beautifully scented flowers that turn into the cutest little green lemons before growing, and growing and growing some more into big juicy yellow goodness.


Truth be told, the day we have to leave this base, I think my lemon tree is the only thing I will miss.  I will have to take as many lemons as I can with me and keep the seeds for planting, maybe I'll be able to grow it in our new home, would be nice to have a reminder of my tree.  


Have you ever smelled the sweet flowers?  The scent is indescribable, I spend many an hour out there under the tree, surrounded by the scent and the pretty flowers.


Some of the leaves and branches look sickly, so I'm going to have to do some research and found out what I can do to help this poor tree out.


I think one of the reasons I love it so much is because I always have readily available lemons for my baking and cooking.  Here I am using the lemon peel to make my Greatgrandma's Rice Pudding.


I think I'm going to step back outside and revel in it's beauty for a little bit longer.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Don't Kiss Him Goodbye by Sandra Byrd - Review

Don't Kiss Him Good-Bye   London Confidential #3
ISBN:   978-1-4143-2599-6
List Price:  $6.99
Release Date:  October 2010
Page Count:  256
Trim Size:  4 3/16 x 6 7/8
Now established in her quirky British village, Savvy works hard to get an article with her own byline published in the school newspaper. When an attractive and mysterious boy asks her for help with his school work, Savvy is slowly pulled into his circle and soon finds out that the wrong set of friends—boys and girls—can influence her own behavior. Following her own advice to cut ties with a charming bad boy would mean abandoning her dearest wishes, and it just doesn't seem as wrong as it feels. Is it? Read on for surprise twists throughout the book!
London Confidential is a new series for young girls. In the series, British fashion, friendships, and guys collide as an all-American teen girl learns to love life and live out her faith. The series follows Savvy's entertaining attempts to fit in during her first year at a new school in a new country.

This was a super fast read for me, it kept me entertained, it kept the story lighthearted and sweet and still focused on being a Christian and the Lord's love.

I loved the main character Savvy, she is a 16 year old American girl trying to fit in in an English school, there's the usual falling in and out of love while dealing with her need to attend a new church and fit in, coupled with the normal goings on of a family life.

A mother who loves gardening, a younger sister who seems to be holding some sort of secret from them all and a dad she adores.

Really cute teen book.  

Thank you to the wonderful folks at Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a review copy.