Friday, December 31, 2010

The Club No One Wanted To Join - Book Review

I have to admit that I am pretty na├»ve about the financial world. I don’t follow financial news and don’t have investments that I keep up with. When I was asked to review The Club No One Wanted To Join; Madoff Victims In Their Own Words, I was intrigued. I had heard a very little about the Madoff Ponzi scheme and this was an opportunity to expand my horizons. I am very glad I read it. Not only did it show me what the Madoff scheme was all about, it showed me how little confidence we should have in any sort of investment. The books also came at a time that was relevant in this investigation. Recently an investor’s widow gave back a huge chunk of money (great news!) and unfortunately Madoff’s son didn’t think any of this was worth it and took his own life. I cannot imagine the grief that was all caused by the deceit and greediness by Bernie Madoff.

The victims were in this situation because, like all of us, wanted to invest for retirement. It was not greediness on their part, but security. I assume that not all investors were legitimate, but the stories in this book show that the vast majority were and had their life savings stole from them with no warning. I couldn’t believe the victims were being attacked and ridiculed because they “fell for” this scheme. Judgment by outside sources is harsh and not appropriate.

My biggest eye-opening is information about the way our financial system works (or has failed to work, in this case). The SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corp.) was created by congress to protect investors. If a brokerage firm failed, the SIPC was there to pay back the investors based on their last statement. THAT IS THEIR FUNCTION. Madoff was a SIPC member in good standing but SIPC will not pay back Madoff investors. Just won’t. What happens if our bank fails? The FDIC pays customers their last statement amount. What if they wouldn’t? No good reason, just won’t. Think about that. Madoff had been investigated by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and was found to be in compliance each time. How does that happen? How far up do the failures (or overlooking) go?

I learned a lot from the stories I read. I have compassion for those that are trying to rebuild new lives and hope that in the end they will recover their investments. I cannot get past the greed from one man that has deliberately destroyed other.

Proverbs 11:4-6
Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
But righteousness delivers from death.
The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way,
But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.
The righteousness of the upright will deliver them,
But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, December 30, 2010


We heard Little Bit sneeze a few times in the back seat and before we could say anything, she did it herself. "Bless me. Bless me."

She got an MP3 player for Christmas. Got her sippy cup and her rocking headphones. She's loving it.

Mimi has a style all her own. Darling Christmas outfit, complete with sparkly shoes and mismatched Hello Kitty socks.

Yesterday, the older girls and I helped clean out the costume and prop room at the theater which they perform. We helped for several hours. This morning they begged for me to take them back today so they could help more. I love that they have a heart to serve!

In the cooking section of the paper today was an article on Gougeres, which are savory cream puffs. The writer did a great job because I am on my way out to get Gruyere so I can try them. The hook for me was that they freeze well and can be popped in the oven anytime. Anyone made these before? I'll let you know how it goes ~

The beds that my dad planted while he was here a few weeks ago are producing the first seedlings. I was scared that our hard freeze was going to wipe them out but I guess covering them did the job. In one bed everything has come up - swiss chard, radishes, mescluin, and peas. In the other bed, nothing yet. In the third bed, Little Bit and I just planted a TON of flower seeds. Can't wait to see if they will grow.

The Vikings actually WON a game last night with Joe Webb (who is this?) at quarterback. Good to see. Good to see.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Semi-Good For You Appetizer - Pull Apart Veggie Rolls

Pull Apart Veggie Croissant Rolls

2 cans croissants
4 to 8 ounces cream cheese, softened (can be low fat)
1/2 cup sour cream (can be low fat)
seasoning (I used a half a packet of ranch dressing mix)
various veggies of your choice (aren't they pretty)

Open the can of croissants but leaved them rolled up. Cut each can into 16 slices and arrange on a cookie sheet just barely touching (in whatever design you like). Bake according to the direction on the package but watch to make sure they don't overcook. Cool rolls completely. You can transfer them to a serving dish, if desired. They should all be stuck together.

Mix together cream cheese, sour cream, and seasoning until the desired consistency (spreadable). Spread on cooled croissants, covering up any holes between the rolls. Sprinkle veggies on top and serve. Rolls should easily pull apart. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for at least 3 days in a sealed container.

Do You Have a Moment?

Hannah, my very dear friend and very cool high school chick, who I went on a mission trip to Ukraine last summer, is now on her way back. She boarded the plane this morning and will be going back to the same Ukrainian orphanage that we were at in Volkovinski. I am so excited that she is going to see our kids! She is traveling alone (until she she gets taken to Music Mission Kiev and then to the orphanage, which she will be united with Hope For Orphans staff) so pray for a safe trip and for her mother (!!!), peace and faith that everything will go smoothly. Hannah and Michelle are actually moving to Ukraine this summer. After our trip, they really felt a tug on their hearts to start a half-way house for orphans that age out of the system (at the tender age of 16). Talk about being LED! Go check out their web site - Faraway Place!

Here are some of our kids!

They chose the name "Faraway Place", because God presented them with a Bible verse, Isaiah 43:5-6 "So don't be afraid: I'm with you. I'll round up all your scattered children, pull them in from east and west. I'll send orders north and south: 'Send them back. Return my sons from distant lands, my daughters from faraway places.'"

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Unto the Hills: A Daily Devotional - Book Review

Each morning I get before everyone else so that I can exercise (nice to get it out of the way) and to read my bible. I cherish this special time each day. Additionally, I often read something that we are doing in our small group or do a devotional, so when I was given the opportunity to review Unto the Hills: A Daily Devotional by Billy Graham, I was excited to see what it had to offer.

Unto the Hills was first published about 25 years ago and has been republished with some minor changes to provide greater clarity and accuracy. I have never been disappointed by anything written by Billy or Ruth Graham. This devotional, where each day contains a bible verse, reading and prayer, was not an exception.

Mature and new Christians alike will find wisdom in these pages. Billy Graham writes messages of hope and grace that always point back to Jesus. They were long enough to be substantial and short enough for you to stay on course with it each day. I highly recommend this devotional to go with your daily bible reading. If you are already in the Word daily, this is a nice addition. If you have not yet made it a habit, this devotional can help you along.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
From whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD,
Which made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, December 27, 2010

Too Good - Parmesan Orzo

A while back I was meaning to buy risotto and ended up getting orzo instead. One is a rice, the other a pasta. SOOOOO....I've been trying to clean out my pantry and decided it was time for the orzo. I did a Swagbucks search that lead me to this DELISH side dish. I could have eaten it all. My husband, who doesn't like mac and cheese or lasagna (gasp! I LOVE those cheesy noodle dishes~!) didn't like it. No worries....more for me!

The recipe that I use is from Cooking Light.

Creamy Parmesan Orzo

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup orzo
1 1/4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese (I actually used Romano and Asiago - it's what i had on hand)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (used a little more than this, LOVE fresh basil)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons pine nuts, toasted (didn't have, so didn't use)

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add orzo, and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and orzo is done (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in cheese, basil, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with the pine nuts. Serve immediately.

Yum! If you have orzo that you are wanting to use up, try it!
This post has also been linked to:
Mouthwatering Monday at Southern Fairytale
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace
Tuesday at the Table at All the Small Stuff
What's on The Menu Wednesday at Dining With Debbie
12 Days of Bloggie-mas at A Moderate Life
Recipe Swap at Prairie Story (Thursdays)
Colleen's Fall Recipe Swap at Colleen's Kitchen (Fridays)

God Gave Us So Much - Book Review

God Gave Us So Much is a collection of three books written by Lisa Tawn Bergren; illustrated by Laura J. Bryant. Our family adores the other books in the series that follows Little Cub and her family as she asks important questions on the minds of our little ones.

God Gave Us the World has Little Cub wondering why all bears aren’t just like he and his family. Mama explains even though there are many bears in the world, there are all different kinds of bears living in many different places, in many different circumstances. Because our God is a creative God, He does not want all of us to be alike. He put us in the perfect place for us, even though it might not be the right place for someone else. This would be a great story if your child had questions about why a person from a foreign culture is different.

In God Gave Us Love, Little Cub is frustrated with the otters that are scaring away the fish she’s trying to catch. Grandpa tells Little Cub about all different kinds of God’s love and the kinds of love we extend to others. This is the only one that might be a little difficult. My kids enjoyed it but couldn’t really pin down what, besides the greatness of God’s love, the rest of the story is about. It gets a little muddled.

“What’s heav’n?” Little Bears asks in God Gave Us Heaven and Papa tells her in a wonderful way about the most amazing place we can ever imagine. He addresses gently when we will go to heaven, whom we might see there, and what we will enjoy when we get there. Papa rightfully tells Little Cub God sent Jesus to be our only way to heaven. What a great book this would be for young ones that have experienced the death of a loved one. The way it is explained is thoughtful, comforting, and allows for questions. I liked this story the best of the three.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
Go rate my review HERE!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Have a wonderful Christmas! From my silly family, to yours!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dad's Life - Must Watch

This video is on our daily playlist. Funny! My kids know the words.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Making A Gingerbread House

For the past few years we have made a gingerbread house for our neighbors. Usually I find one of the Halloween house kits after Halloween, ditch the orange and black decor, and use the house. No luck this year so I had to make my own. I have a gingerbread house mold from the Pampered Chef that had never been used. My first attempt was using a boxed mix and it didn't turn out hard enough for a stable house (luckily it tasted great!). Next I used the recipe that came with the mold and it turned out perfectly. Go figure. I even had enough left over dough to make gingerbread men the girls decorated (and promptly ate) for themselves. I can't wait to do this again next year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

God Gave Us Two - Book Review

We love God Gave Us Two, by Lisa Tawn Bergren, so, of course we had to get God Gave Us Two when our second daughter was on her way. This time Little Cub is afraid that with the addition of the new baby, she will be forgotten. Mama and Papa assure Little Cub that God's gift of two will be a blessing, even to Little Cub. This is a great book to get a little one ready for the arrival of a sibling. Many of the fears of a child are addressed and Little Cub is comforted. A perfect gift for a child with a new sibling on the way!Children are a gift from God; they are his reward. Psalm 127:3

Last Minute Gift?? Marshmallow Shooters!

I bet you that Lowe's or Home Depot aren't THAT crowded these last few days before Christmas. You could buy materials for these little guys and be home before you could even get a parking spot at Target.

We had a $3 limit for a child's gift exchange and didn't want to get cheap things that parents sneak in the trash the moment the child looks away (What?! Am I the ONLY parent that does that?).

These each cost less than $3 and took less than 5 minutes to make. Shooting marshmallows is super fun for girls and boys (and parents). My girls tried them out and giggled with excitement every time a marshmallow shot across the room. You place the marshmallow in the end and blow through the top. They shoot about 10 to 15 feet and it's FUNNY when you get shot on the noggin with a marshmallow.

I got the plans to make them at The Ultimate Camp Resource.

God Gave Us......You! Two! Christmas!

God Gave Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren has been one of my favorite books since our first daughter was born. It took awhile for me to be able to get through it without tears. The story is told from a mother's perspective answering questions from her curious cub. Mama bear explains to her child that she is a special gift from God given to her mama and papa. All questions point back to God's perfect plan of creating this family. My girls enjoy it as much as I do.

Of course we had to get God Gave Us Two when our second daughter was on her way. This time Little Cub is afraid that with the addition of the new baby, she will be forgotten. Mama and Papa assure Little Cub that God's gift of two will be a blessing, even to Little Cub. This is a great book to get a little one ready for the arrival of a sibling. Many of the fears of a child are addressed and Little Cub is comforted. A perfect gift for a child with a new sibling on the way!

Children are a gift from God; they are his reward. Psalm 127:3

God Gave Us Christmas addresses the question, "Is God more important than Santa?". Little Cub and Mama set out on an adventure to see how God gave us Christmas. They talk about Jesus coming to earth as a baby, the all mighty power of God, and how much He loves each one of us. Mama explains how Santa is a reminder of many good things but how Jesus is the best present of all and that GOD gave us Christmas. Our family isn't anti-Santa, so for us this is a good book that touches on a number of topics that your family can expound upon depending on the age of your child.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Last Minute Gift?? Giant Cookie!

Don't you love cookie cakes? I'm not sure why cookie cakes taste so much better than regular cookies but I think they do. I love chewy cookies and I think there's more chewy in a slice of cookie cake. If you like crunchy cookies you may not agree with me.

I made one Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip (top) and one regular Chocolate Chip (bottom). While both tasted great (I liked the PB one better because I LOVE peanut butter. Yes, I could marry it.), the peanut butter one looked a lot better. They are really easy to make and I'm giving out a few for Christmas gifts this year

(what PE coach wouldn't want a big cookie?).

I used disposable 13" pizza pans.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
Cookie Cake Recipe
(from Almost Bourdain)

6 TBS butter, softened
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, cream the butter, peanut butter, light brown sugar, and vanilla extracts on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute.

Increase the mixer speed to high and beat for 15 seconds. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the egg.

Blend on medium speed for 30 seconds.

Add the dry ingredients and combine on low speed until just a few dry streaks remain.
Add the chocolate chips and mix for a few seconds until combined.

Scrape the batter into a greased and lined 10-inch round cake tin (or a 13" disposable pizza tin if giving away - it looks like there isn't enough batter but there is - turns out perfectly).

Press the batter into a smooth and even layer in the pan. Bake until lightly golden and puffy around the edges (the center should still feel quite soft), 18 – 22 minutes (I baked mine for 15 minutes, as it was larger and flatter).

Cool for 10 minutes and then run a paring knife around the edge of the pan to release the cake. Or leave it in the disposable pan if you are giving for a gift!
The Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake recipe came from Food Network.

This post has also been linked to:

Mouthwatering Monday at Southern Fairytale

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace

Tuesday at the Table at All the Small Stuff

What's on The Menu Wednesday at Dining With Debbie

Hearth and Soul at A Moderate Life

Recipe Swap at Prairie Story (Thursdays)

Colleen's Fall Recipe Swap at Colleen's Kitchen (Fridays)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tempt My Tummy - Pecan Pie Bars

Oh man, these are tasty! I had to give them all away or I would have eaten every last one one them. I'm not big on pecan pie but because of the shortbread crust these were entirely different, even a pecan pie loving friend thought they were awesome - so they should please everyone. They keep well so feel free to make them several days ahead of time.

Pecan Pie Bars
Makes 24 bars

For the Shortbread Crust:
1 1/2 sticks cold, unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed, light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Pie Filling:
2 heaping cups of whole pecans
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed, light brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with parchment paper or foil leaving some excess hanging over the ends.

To make the crust, cut the butter into a 1/2-inch dice. Then, in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process all the ingredients for the crust together until the mixture begins to form tiny lumps and appears downey, about 30-45 seconds. Put this mixture into the prepared pan and using your hands or a big spatula, evenly press the shortbread crust into the bottom of the pan. Bake in the middle of the oven until golden, about 18-20 minutes.

While the shortbread crust is baking, prepare the filling.

To make the filling, roughly chop the pecans. It's ok to have some whole pecans and some pecan pieces. Set aside. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, honey, cream and salt. Bring to a simmer and allow to bubble, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and pecans. Pour the pecan filling into the hot shortbread crust and spread as evenly as possible. Bake in the middle of the oven until bubbling evenly all over, about 12-15 minutes.

Cool completely, lift out of the baking pan using the overhanging parchment or foil and cut into bars. At this point, you can just start eating the bars, they are very tasty plain. You can also dip them in chocolate if that is your thing.

These bars will keep, covered, for at least 5 days at room temperature (if they last that long!).

This post has also been linked to:
Mouthwatering Monday at Southern Fairytale
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace
Tuesday at the Table at All the Small Stuff
What's on The Menu Wednesday at Dining With Debbie
Hearth and Soul at A Moderate Life
Recipe Swap at Prairie Story (Thursdays)
Colleen's Fall Recipe Swap at Colleen's Kitchen (Fridays)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wikio, What?

Thanks Everyone!

I was just informed that I Blame My Mother had just entered Wikio's top blog rankings in the Food category! That's great!

Now what is Wikio again? What, you never heard of it? Me either.

Come to find out, Wikio is an information portal with a news search engine that searches press sites and blogs. Now we've all learned something today!

I went in search of my ranking and I'm proud to say I have a ranking of 321 in the Food catagory. Pioneer Woman, who is my fave, is number 7. I'm happy to be 321 thanks to all of you readers!!! (and 10,600 overall - LOL) WooHoo!

Wikio - Top Blogs - Food

Wikio - Top Blogs

Santa Funnies

Last night our neighborhood had our Christmas party where Santa arrives on a firetruck then hands out presents to all of the kids.

Little Bit was enthralled at all that was happening. The lights and the firetruck lit up her eyes and she asked a million questions about why it was on our block (she was even talking about the firetruck in her sleep last night). Santa came down from the truck and she waved furiously and called out for Santa repeatedly. It was all very cute.

Then comes her turn to sit on his lap. She was reluctant at first but right when she did, and Santa asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she told him boldly, "A PUPPY!". Our neighbor was Santa and looked at me, knowing there was no puppy in her future. He told her maybe it was best that she played with the puppy at the house next door. Nice recovery - quick thinking!

When she got down from his lap and was handed a very small gift bag, her eyes got super wide and she turned to me and asked me, "Is the puppy in THERE??!!!??".

Oh, so sorry sweet girl. Maybe next year.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


“Why, that speck is as small as the head of a pin.
A person on that?…why, there never has been!"

Name that tune?


It's "Biggest Blame Fool" from Seussical the Musical in which Bigs played the part of the Baby Sour Kangaroo. It was really hard for her to have that sour attitude instead of smiling. I'm not sure why, she sure practices it a lot at home. Kidding! She is a wonderful little mama. She did a great job for her first full length production. What an amazing cast there was that she could learn from!

Humpf!” humpfed a voice.
Twas a sour Kangaroo.
And the young kangaroo in her pouch said “Humpf!” too

My scanner isn't working so I had to take a picture of these pictures - not the best. Seeing your 7 year old with diva hair and sparkly fake eyelashes? Shocking (in a good way).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

60 points for new Swagbucks members!

Search & Win

Hooray! Swagbucks just announced that they'll be giving away 30 BONUS Swagbucks (in addition to the 30 you get from signing up) for new members now through December 31st when you enter the SwagCode JoinIn2010 on the sign-up page HERE!

This makes you well on your way to free gift cards! Remember, it only takes 450 Swagbucks to earn a $5 Amazon eGift Card, and if you search daily it adds up quickly! The Amazon gift cards definitely come in handy for Christmas shopping. No worries if you don't shop Amazon, there are hundreds of different prizes you can redeem your Swagbucks for.

If you don't know how Swagbucks works, the short of it is this. Sign up, use as your search engine, every few searches you'll earn a few Swagbucks (it shows up on the screen when you have won them and how many you have won). There are a ton of other ways to earn additional Swagbucks (you can find out more on the site) but just using the search engine, you should earn enough points to get a $5 Amazon gift card each month. If you don't use Amazon, there are a TON of other prizes you can earn.

God Loves Me More Than That - Book Review

God Loves Me More Than That, a sweet, beautifully written book by Dandi Daley poses the question “how much love does God have for me?” This question is asked by an adventurous little boy and answered throughout the book. The illustrations by David Holm are captivating and detailed, capturing the heart of the story. The book will hold the attention of both boys and girls; however, I like there are many “boy” things – bumble bees, space shuttles, cowboys, footballs, semi-trucks, etc. Of course, my girls did not notice, they just enjoyed the story. The book does a fine job conveying to a child the depth of God’s eternal love as told in Ephesians 3:17-19.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

The North Pole Musical

Tonight's the night and we're feeling fine....North Pole Musical!

This is the heart of Christmas....

Our Sugar Plum Fairy!

Great job girl!

Enter my HUGE Crayola giveaway HERE!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The First Cross Country Race

Bigs and Mimi are members of their elementary school cross country team.
They both ran great races for their very first races ever!
The event was packed - several hundred runners from schools all over the district.

Yay! Runners! I can't wait to train with them when they are older :)

Enter my HUGE Crayola giveaway HERE!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Christmas Gift

My dad gave me a GREAT gift while my parents were visiting last week - a freshly weeded and planted garden! Since I was not home at all this summer, my garden was completely overgrown. Going back to work part time has given me a lot less free time and the garden wasn't even on my near future to-do list. I'm so excited that it looks so nice and that two of the three beds are planted. This is purely experimental, as we just don't know what will do OK, even though planting is supposed to be fine this time of year. We'll see! Mimi has said that she will be out there 10 minutes every day to keep up on the weeds :)

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

My daughters love mint chocolate chip ice cream so when I came across this recipe on the Betty Crocker site, I knew I had to try it. They were quick (used a mix) and very good. I'll be making these again and again for my mint loving girls.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix (I used the Krusteaze mix that is a little less volume but were only .19 at Publix last week with coupons!!)

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 tsp mint extract

7 drops green food coloring (I would make them without color from now on but when giving them as gifts, it's nice for the colored hint that they are mint)

1 egg

1 cup creme de menthe baking chips (Andes!)

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (I did not use these - they really are chippy enough without them)

Heat oven to 350. I large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, extract, food coloring, and egg until soft dough forms. This is thick dough so feel free to use your hands to get it all mixed up. Mix in chips.

Using a small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 7-10 minutes - take out when they are just getting a little brown. Don't over bake them for soft cookies! Remove from over to wire rack. Store in tightly covered container.

YUM!! YUM!! YUM!! A very festive cookie.

This post has also been linked to:

Mouthwatering Monday at Southern Fairytale

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace

Tuesday at the Table at All the Small Stuff

MERRY, MERRY MUNCHIES 2010 at Dining With Debbie

Recipe Swap at Prairie Story (Thursdays)

Christmas Recipe Party at Simply Sweet Home (Thursday)

Colleen's Fall Recipe Swap at Colleen's Kitchen (Fridays)

Enter my HUGE Crayola giveaway HERE!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wood Burning a Popcorn Bowl

A very, very long time ago I used a wood burning pen to make a checkerboard. It took forever. I seemed to forget about that when starting this bamboo popcorn bowl for my dad for Christmas, because again, it took forever! Can you say hand cramps? It was worth it. I like it and I hope his popcorn eating self does too :)
Do you have a wood burning pen in the back of your closet? Put it to use by personalizing something for Christmas! Works for me!
See more Works for Me Wednesday ideas at We Are THAT Family.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Matters of the Heart

Our small group has been listening to sermons from Mars Hill pastor, Mark Driscoll. Yesterday we discussed his second Sermon on Proverbs, talking about the Heart. It was a very telling sermon and I learned and reflected on many things. One of which I put into practice yesterday.

Emma was at her grandparent's house yesterday, and although she came home happy, she had a hard time being nice to her sister at bedtime. One of the items Pastor Mark touched on is how the current condition of your heart reflects in all that you do. Emma's heart was not in a peaceful place. Instead of telling her what she should and shouldn't be doing, I asked her what was going on in her heart. I would have guessed that her answer would be "I don't know", and a lot of sighing and eye rolling, as she usually isn't very cooperative when we talk about what is going on with her. She started out trying to blame it on her sister. I reminded her that nobody controls her actions but her.

She surprised me and said she was a little sad about the day's events. She went on to tell me about specifics and about her disappointments. I was blown away. I told her that even though her heart was sad, praying and talking with Jesus about it could make it better. She agreed and I left her to talk it out.

I was amazed at how much information I had gotten from one little question. Getting to the heart of the matter was what was needed. I learned a lot and I hope she did too!

What ways do you help your kids through times when they are just plain ornery and disagreeable?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Thin Crust St. Louis Style Pizza

This summer while we were at my Aunt's cabin in Northern Minnesota I copied down this recipe from one of her magazines. I find that if I write the recipe out by hand I am more likely to try it. I have SO MANY recipes on file to try. Anyway....this has been my family's favorite pizza crust yet (although I cannot tell if my husband likes it, he won't really say, but he eats it) and it's really easy to make. I cannot say if it's authentic St. Louis style, but it sure is yummy!

St. Louis Style Pizza Crust
2 cups flour
2 TBS corn starch
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup plus 2 TBS water
2 TBS olive oil
Mix together dry ingredients then add water and oil. Mix/knead until it comes together. You may have to add a tiny bit of additional water. Break the dough into 2 portions then roll THIN. The original recipe says to roll the dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper, which I did the first time I made it and works beautifully. But I just got the most wonderful pastry mat and it rolled out just fine without anything (no additional flour, no parchment). It will all depend on your surface.
Preheat pan or stone (or like we do, both) at 475 degrees. When the oven is preheated I put the crust on the pan/stone and bake for 3 or 4 minutes before topping because we like it crispy. Then I take it out, top it however, and put it back in to bake until the cheese is a little brown, 8 minutes or so.

See THIS is my new pastry mat and it is perfect! It sticks to the counter - absolutely no sliding around. Whatever I am rolling out does not stick to it. The only down side is that it has a slight criss cross pattern to it, so when I am rolling out fondant I need to use the up side to get a completely smooth surface. I love this mat.

And THIS is where I was coming from. Pretty worthless. There is just no comparison.

This post has also been linked to:
Mouthwatering Monday at Southern Fairytale
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace
Tuesday at the Table at All the Small Stuff
What's on The Menu Wednesday at Dining With Debbie
Hearth and Soul at A Moderate Life
Recipe Swap at Prairie Story (Thursdays)
Colleen's Fall Recipe Swap at Colleen's Kitchen (Fridays)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Thanksgiving Feasts

Knitting Needle Caddy - Works for Me

I found this great TUTORIAL at Multicrafty for a knitting needle caddy. I used fabrics that I already had in my big bag of fabric and everything came together lovely! I don't knit but made it for a friend that does. Hooray for another Christmas present completed :)

Works for Me! Check out more Works for Me Wednesday ideas at We are THAT family.