December 31, 2010

Releasing the Resolution Grip

We often start the new year off with a list of goals and resolutions, that are usually lost within the busyness of life by January 27th.  Good intentions, but often unrealistic.
This year, rather than making a list of goals and plans, I decided to chose one word.  
Just one word.  
I can apply that word to so many areas of my life.  
I can remember one word so much better than a list of do's and don'ts.

Purposeful in my parenting.  Purposeful in my walk with Christ.  Purposeful in my eating habits.  Purposeful in how I spend my time.
See!  It's so much easier!

Some of the runners-up were:

I challenge you, on this Eve of a fresh new start, to put away the long list of self promises and unattainable goals.  
Release the grip of guilt that often comes with New Year's resolutions.  
The start of a new year should bring freedom, not guilt.  So choose a word that fits YOU.

Because I'm a dork, I just have to show off the snow we accumulated the day after Christmas.
This is a BIG deal 'round here.  We don't get a winter wonderland very often; and for this winter lovin' girl, I'm as happy as a polar bear!
Happy New Year dear friend!
Thanks for being a part of my 2010!

P.S.  I'd love to hear what word you might choose!

December 30, 2010

Festive and Fun

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.  
Merry and bright.
Filled with wonder. 
My boys on Christmas Eve celebrating my FIL's birthday
Our kids are still at that magical age.  Their excitement is contagious.  Their honest gratitude is beautiful.  Their wonder is a delight.  And they don't need a nap in the middle of Christmas to function.  Perfecto!

In my happy place: capturing our memories (with an ancient video camera that still uses tapes)  :)

This was a fun gift to give my girls:  Turbie Twists, hair accessories, and a fancy hairdryer.
No more borrowing my hairdryer, yay!

We usually do Christmas Eve with my in-laws, Christmas morning with just us, then my parents come over for brunch.  We head over to their house for the rest of the day and usually have an early dinner.  This year my dad (who NEVER cooks) made Christmas dinner.  We were all very impressed with his chili.  He even used a Rachel Ray recipe!

The best part of the day was a video phone conversation with my brother who is currently deployed.  It was such a sweet time for my kids (and the grown ups) to get to "see" him.  Christmas just isn't the same when a loved one is so far away.

This is what Reeses Cups for breakfast looks like:

For the first time since the 1940's our area had ...
a white Christmas!

December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a wonderful day filled 
with JOY, BEAUTY, and PEACE.

As our family celebrates the greatest
God's own son, Jesus, we hope
you have had a year filled with his 
grace and love.

December 21, 2010

Spicy Pretzels

 I love an easy recipe.  When my friend Leslie gives me a recipe I KNOW it is going to be good.  I was not disappointed with this one.  So simple and good!
1 pkg. dry ranch dressing
1 cup canola oil*
2-3 Tbs. crushed red pepper**
16 oz bag pretzels
Mix all ingredients in a gallon zip bag.  Turn to coat.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes.  Enjoy!
No baking.  No mess.  Just delish.

*Canola is a must.  Don't just use vegetable oil
**I added 2 1/2 Tbs. and it wasn't too spicy.  I could even go for 3-4 Tbs, but I have to keep it kid friendly around here. 

I'm linking up with Tasty Tuesdays

December 20, 2010

A Sweet Day

Today was our first official day of Christmas break.   
Glory, hallelujah, amen and amen.
We decided to celebrate with a little shugah...
 1. Baking little treasures doesn't have to be tedious:  make a box of brownies and pour into mini muffin tins.  While they are still hot add a piece of Reeses cup or half of an Andes peppermint.  I love easy.  And chocolate.  And peppermint.

 2. The giant tub of pretzels at Target called my name because I knew I had some white chocolate bark at home to dress them up a little.

 3. Speaking of dressing, this is how I dressed my oreos for winter.  ;)

4. Have you tried the Spicy Mochas at Caribou Coffee?  Sweet with a spicy back kick.  Delish!

5. Speaking of a kick, I discovered a new recipe with a kick this week.  Pretzels being the main ingredient.  I promise to share the recipe.  Don't you like all of my segues today?  (I totally had to spell check segue).

6. Spending time with my kiddos in the kitchen sure beats trying to figure out 6th grade math!
Hope you had a SWEET day!

December 19, 2010

Sunday Rest

Come, let us adore Him!
Infant babe, sent to save the world.

December 14, 2010

Personalized Garland

 Otherwise titled: When you have nothing better to do
I noticed a really neat garland at a local church on Saturday.  "King of Kings" and "Lord of Lords" was typed on brown craft paper.  I couldn't find craft paper on a roll, so I got a little creative.  Besides, I didn't trust my hand, so I needed to be able to trace some letters.

~ a roll of cash register/adding machine paper
~ scissors
~ sharpie pen
~a cute font

I chose Zapfino font because I thought it looked Christmasy without being too formal.  Just print out your words and then use the pen to trace the words.
It's SO easy!
 If you have neat handwriting, a steady hand, and no one to interrupt you, then you don't even have to do the tracing step.  Play around with the fonts and the words you choose. I think using your family name would be pretty, too!

As with most crafts, about half way through you will be cursing me {or getting high off the Sharpie odor}, but stick with it.   You will feel so crafty when it's done.

For a 9' tree, I did 4 separate strips because when it gets too long, it starts to get tangled and tears easily.  I started off using the red marker, but the black showed up a little better.  Once I finished, I realized that it would be pretty using the alternating colors.  There's always next year!

*I'm linking up with this Christmas Tree Party.  and this Show and Share day

December 12, 2010

Sunday Rest

He has made everything beautiful 
in its time.
He has also set eternity in
the hearts of men;
yet they cannot fathom
what God has done from
beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

December 10, 2010

It's Not As Scary As I Thought

 Even though I like to do crafty stuff, the thought of gingerbread houses has caused me much fear and trembling.  Sometimes I need a good kick in the pants friend to get me to try something new.

So when my friend Janet suggested we try gingerbread houses with the kids, I knew I couldn't say no.  We each bought a kit and decided the grown-ups would put the houses together and then let the kids decorate.

We bought our kit at Target for $7.99.  It even came with pre-cut holes in the bottom and sides for easy construction. When it says kit, it means the whole kit-and-kaboodle.  I sounded like my mother in that sentence.  Everything you need to make a genuine gingerbread house is in the box.
The kids thought the candy was so tempting colorful.  The boys lasted about 6 minutes, but the girls sure had fun decorating! 

The gingerbread wasn't very tasty, but it seems to be much more durable than the homemade variety.  Maybe it's more durable because I usually eat the homemade kind before it gets turned into a dwelling place for Hansel and Gretel.
My fear of failure in the construction of cookie houses is gone. Thanks, Janet!

Do you usually make a gingerbread house?  Any secrets of success? 

December 7, 2010

Why I am Smiling

1. It's my birthday week.  I love a good birthday, don't you?  I don't like the counting up thing, but it's better than the alternative.  Last Friday I was grumbling about having a December birthday because everyone is so busy with holiday bidness.

Around 8pm my doorbell rang and I answered it expecting a neighbor (since no one just "stops by" out here).   There stood the best birthday surprise I've ever had, besides the year I turned 9 and my dog had puppies on my day.  My college roommate had driven 3 hours to spend the weekend with me!  My sweet husband arranged for her to come for a surprise visit.  She just happened to be holding her famous sour cream cheesecake.

Isn't it beautiful??  She knows how to wrap a gift!  Next to it is the world's richest triple chocolate cheesecake that my husband brought home.  He's a good man. Do you notice a pattern?  Cheese and cake?

2. We spent Saturday doing a little Christmas shopping, sipping a little java, and having a whole lotta chit chat.  We had a good time watching the show in the parking lot.  You know, the I-can't-remember-where-I-parked-the-car show with an opening act of it's-december-so-don't-you-dare-take-my-parking-spot.  Crazy shoppers!

3. As we finished up our shopping it began to ..... snow!  Here.  In North Carolina.  In December.  A true miracle.
We had about an inch but it was enough for the kiddos to make an itty bitty snowman, and the grownups to don our scarves and squeal a little.

4. On a recent shopping marathon trip with my mother-in-law I realized that teaching my children good penmanship and spelling is well worth the time and effort.
Mall kiosk marketing at its best:
It read:  Just Tody alll pillow pets 19.99

5. I got an email from my brother who is currently deployed.  It's just good to hear from him and know he is okay.

6. Christmas cards have started arriving in the mail.

7. I won a giveaway last week from Room Remix.  Woot woot!  Thanks, PK!

8. It is cold enough to enjoy the fireplace each night.  Do you use your fireplace?

9. We have a very productive chicken.  An egg a day is her gift to us.  I'm hoping her sisters figure it all out soon.  Then we will have enough to share.

10. Need I say more?

What makes you happy today?

December 2, 2010

Deckin' the Halls

 One of my favorite places to decorate {for any season} is the mantle.  So many possibilities, that I like to change it up each year.  This year we did a shimmery, copper/green theme.  I found these giant ornaments on after-Christmas-clearance at Steinmart last year.  I cut the strings off and used them to add a little funky-elegance.
 I couldn't quite skip red altogether, so I added a few balls here and there, as well as in the glass/wire jar I found at Ross for dirt cheap.
 Oh, you want to know about my white fluffy wreath?  I thought you'd never ask!
 My crafty daughter and I made it out of a hay wreath and coffee filters (call me crazy).   She was the official folder and I was the official burner of fingers  gluer.  Once we were done, I gave it a little hair cut:
 It was such a fun and relatively easy craft.  Just fold the filters (not the cone filters) into fourths and start gluing.  You may want to curse me when you are about 1/2 way done, but then you will get your second wind and be oh-so-happy with the finished product.
I'm thinking about doing one with the natural colored filters for the summer.

*I'm linking up with Rhoda and Layla in the Holiday Home Party*  

November 29, 2010


This past summer my husband decided it would be fun to raise chickens.  I wasn't so sure about it, but agreed as long as they were kept in a pen and their house was cute.  So surfacey, I know.  To see how he built a GORGEOUS hen house click here
Well, our girls are growing beautifully.  They love people, too.  When we get near the pen, they follow us around.  Actually 3 of the 4 do.  One of the hens is socially inept.  Too bad she doesn't belong to a hoity-toity family.  They might invest in some socialization therapy.   We'll just hope she learns from her social sisters and doesn't get labeled by the public school system.
I stepped inside the pen to get these pictures and they thought my shoestring was the best thing since, well, cracked corn.
See how beautiful Henrietta is looking these days?  She's an "Easter Egger" which means her eggs will be blue, green or pink.

Last week, one of the Red Stars gave us a special surprise:
Our first egg.  
Within the first week we collected 8 eggs and those are just from two of the four hens!  So far no easter eggs, but we are waiting expectantly!

I get a little squeamish about stuff, so I told my husband that I would have to wait until the "production line" had been in full swing for a little while before I would have the nerve to eat the eggs.  Am I being weird?

When we cooked our first two eggs this is what we found in the pan:
A message from God telling me to smile; or just a really happy egg white?

And no, I didn't change the color of the picture.  The yolks are truly that orange/yellow, apparently the telltale sign of a really fresh egg.   
I hear that fresh eggs are the BEST to bake with.  Have you ever tried fresh-from-the-farm eggs?

November 28, 2010

Sunday Rest

My goal is that they may 
be encouraged in heart 
and united in love, 
so that they may have the full riches 
of complete understanding, 
in order that they may know the 
mystery of God, namely, Christ.
Colossians 2:2 

November 27, 2010

Giveaway Winner

I'm two days behind in posting the winner of the Thanksgiving giveaway.  Why?  Well I guess we've just been having too much fun.  In just two days we: cut our Christmas tree fresh off the mountainside; played in the leaves; took several walks; eaten waaay too much of my mom's cooking; played cards into the wee hours of the night; and took an amazing hike that is not for the faint of heart.  My computer time has been min-i-mal.  And I'm okay with that ;).

So as I sit with a slice of apple cake and breathtaking view of the mountains I will gladly announce the winner.

Brandi of Shack on the Rocks is the winner!  Brandi, email me and we will make sure you get the pin of your choice.  Congrats!

November 23, 2010

Google NEXT: A tutorial

I'm doing a giveaway this week so be sure to put your name in for the drawing tomorrow night!  Click here for details!

During a recent conversation with some friends I realized that there are still plenty of people who are typing in their favorite blog addresses each day to see if there are any new posts.
 Google Reader is your new best friend.
For a quick tutorial on installing it (uber easy!!!) click here.   It keeps track of all your favorite blogs and websites and shows you when there is a new post you have not read.  Trust me, it is a HUGE time saver!

If I want to catch up on Just a Girl through Google Reader the screen looks like this:

Sometimes it is nice to catch up on my blogs in a "just the facts, ma'am" fashion.  But sometimes I like to visit the actual site.  With Google Next I get to experience her whole website while still benefitting from the shortcuts of Google Reader.  So now when I catch up on Just A Girl's blog, using Google Next, it looks like this on my screen:

It's kind of like the difference between an email and a card in the mailbox.  Both are nice, depending on what you feel like that day.  You can have Google Next and Google Reader at the same time.  They work together, so you are not seeing repeats.  Let me explain.  (Stick with me.  It's only 4 simple steps)

After you've installed google reader, it will look something like this:

1. Go to the far right of the screen near the top and you will see this:

2. Click on "Settings" (in blue at the top of the picture).  Choose "Reader Settings"

Your screen will then look like this:
3. See the tabs at the top?  Click on the one that says "Goodies"

Then your screen will look like this:

4. The screen explains it pretty simply.  Just drag that "Next" button up to your bookmarks bar and when you do, it will look like this:

See the word "Next" next to the "Google Reader" in the grey bookmarks box?  That's my "Next" button.   You're done in 4 easy steps.

Google Reader and Google Next go hand in hand.  Once I look at a blog post using G.R. it will not show up on G.N. and vice versa.  It's kind of like when you read your email.  Once you've read it, it doesn't show up in bold print anymore.
The difference between Next and Reader is very simple.  With Google Reader I see all of the blogs/websites I am following.  It gives me an overview of the blogs and lets me know which blogs and how many posts I have not yet read.
Google Next takes it the next step.  When I click on the next button on my bookmarks bar, it automatically takes me to the most recent blog and post that I have missed.  It's a little more random than google reader, but it is a fun and easy way to visit actual sites.  Give it a try.
You just might like it!  :)

If you have any questions, leave me a comment and I will try to answer in the comments so that everyone can benefit.  That's assuming I will have an answer.  Ha!