Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Works for me--Palmolive Oxy Dish Liquid

Okay, who would have guessed that a dish soap could put a smile on my face?!?! Well, I was at a friend's house and helped with supper dishes...and am I glad I did! She had a bottle of Palmolive Oxy Plus dish liquid and it works like a charm! I didn't really notice anything out of the ordinary until I put in my 9x13 baking dish that I'd brought cinnamon rolls in. It had some left over stains that I thought would just live with the dish--but wait...I put it in the dish water, pulled it out a few minutes later and walaaa...clean as a whistle. That is when I started raving about the dish liquid and bought my own bottle when I ran out of the other plain Palmolive. I really like shines up the pans and sink too.

Note: I'm really not a commercial for Palmolive, but thought I'd share that this stuff really works. Pop over to Shannon's Rocks in my dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday ideas.

Monday, February 26, 2007

"Go Anywhere" Purse

I finished this little purse for a friend's daughter. Her 10th birthday is approaching and I think she will enjoy this. It will nicely hold tissues, a pen and small notepad for church.

Note: the pattern instructions for the purse came from a book entitled, Kids Can Do It: Crocheting by Blakley Kinsler. I borrowed it from our local library.

I've done another project for another friend's daughter who just turned 4. I have to wait to show you pictures though because I want her momma to be surprised. :)

This evening I'm starting on a surprise for Marissa's birthday. It will be a little bit of a stretch seeing that it is a sewing project...and I don't know how to sew very well...YET!

I'm enjoying doing crafts this winter and it's helping to chase away the winter "blahs".

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Thankful for the "little" things

On Saturday, a good friend's apartment building burned down. She escaped with her life, her pj's, coat and purse; her neighbor died. Our friend has the privelege of being a child of God and thanks Him for allowing her to live. She now prays that she will follow hard after Him, serving and glorifying Him. So, she is grateful to have her life, however she has no other earthy possessions. Even though they are just "things", some of them are necessities--clothes, toothbrush, shoes, etc. A another friend of mine suggested that we give her a box of office supplies. Through a house fire, this friend lost everything when she was in high school. Some thoughtful family gave them a box of office supplies and through tears presented it to them. Since then, whenever my friend hears of a fire, she gathers a box of office supplies--stapler, tape, envelopes, paper clips, stamps, writing paper, etc. So practical and thoughtful!

Today, I had the thrill of purchasing and presenting my friend with a Rubbermaid container of office supplies, and I shared the story with her. She was so grateful and her sweet hugs were evidence of her thankfulness. My 4 year old daughter was with me and she was excited to give the box to her. On this good day, I am thanking God for the gift of friendship and for the "little" things in our lives, like paper clips and envelopes.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Soon to be ** Absent from the Body and Present with the Lord**

Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight—we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:5-8

My friend, Julie, has been battling cancer for 8 years. With her liver failing, she is near the end of her battle. We have been friends for over 15 years, meeting while in college. She has a loving husband and 3 children (daughter—almost 10, son—7 ½ and son—2). Her life is a sweet testimony of the Lord’s grace, mercy and perfect peace. She said to me today that anything good that has come out of her life is from the Lord. Depending on Him for wisdom and strength, she can say with the Psalmist,
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (73:26)
She knows that Jesus Christ is her Savior and that she will be in heaven with Him when she dies. Our peace, comfort and hope come from knowing Him.

I am grateful that Julie is my friend. We have shared our lives with each other and I know mine is richer because of her. As you think of my dear friend and her family, please keep them in your prayers.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Who is the Culprit?

Okay, I know this is the season of runny noses and colds, but who left a tissue in a pocket only to be consumed and spit back out of the washing machine--in hundreds of tiny pieces, no less?? Who, I ask, who?

While I'm on the subject of well, whatever subject I'm's another thing...
I've been cleaning. No new information there because here I shared with you about how [most] everything was going. Well, that last job was a BIG job. I knew it would be, but I plunged ahead with reckless abandon. To give a small bit of history--the girls and the boy shared a room. It worked out quite well with the girls in bunkbeds and him in a crib. Not much room to do anything else, but it worked. The 'spare room' was used for all things crafty and Marissa's school desk. I was way too embarassed to take a "before" photo, so you'll have to use your imagination on this one. The room was indeed a small disaster. It was obviously too small for a craft room as I had piles of stuff on the table. It was time for a change. The little boy needed a room of his own to aid in a good night's sleep and some individual play times. The girls needed a room of their own so they could play, listen to music, etc.

Now, as I inhaled deeply, I removed all the contents of the spare room and put them (well, it's not important where I put them). I moved the little boy's crib and clothes into his new clean room. He has a bookcase with some of his books and toys on the bottom shelf. I will post a picture of that soon--because it is now clean and organized. But, you are asking where did all the crafts go?? Inhale deeply again....into one small closet in the hallway. Have I gone mad?? A whole room of crafts into one small closet?? Oh, I'm forgetting to breathe...I purged what I could and organized what was left. To be honest, there are still some more items that have no home, but I'm working on that teensy tiny problem. What a job that was? Is anyone else as tired as I am just from reading this?

Here's my issue currently, now that I have my crafts neatly organized...I have no desire to use them because that would mean that I have to get them out of that neatly organized closet. This happens to me in the kitchen too. The kitchen is clean and I don't want to bake or cook because that would mess it up. Silly, I know, and of course, I am feeding my children, so the kitchen is getting messy again and I'll clean it up again. So, I expect, I'll be back to scrapbooking and other crafts in due time. Oh, I'll post pictures of the closet too before I dig into it again. :)

Added to post on 2.22.2007

The Baby Boy's Room

The Organized Craft closet

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Snowy History Fair Day

Marissa presented her history project today at the fair. It was very snowy which I think played a part in many not being able to attend. However, the sweet lady (and her daughter) that is teaching her to sew came, and that was a big encouragement to Marissa.

Her topic was "How Events in History Influenced Women's Fashion in the 1900's". On her display board, she found pictures from each decade through the 1900's and placed them in a random pattern all over the board. Some of the websites she used for her research and pictures:I found some little hangers with clothespin clips at a great little store in a neighboring town. She used those to hang her title...shortened to 1900's History & Fashion. She did a great job and I'm proud of her!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

History Fair Project

My oldest daughter is participating in our local homeschool history fair. Her topic is "How events in history influenced women's fashion in the 1900's". While it has been very interesting, it also has been a bit overwhelming. This week has been our last big push to get things finished up as the fair is on Saturday morning.

Writing the report...oh, what a process. I have a hard time paraphrasing (the way the author says it sounds just right!), so I don't think I've taught her very well in this area. It has been a big learning process for Marissa and myself....lots of character building in addition to academic learning. Diligence, perseverance, excellence just to name a few of the character traits that we have touched on.

That's one of the neat aspects of homeschooling though. We can take time to work on the character issues that come about in the midst of the day's activities. I've realized that homeschooling is as much about my character as it is my children's. I need to be modeling the attitudes that I want them to learn and practice. Boy, this can be a daunting task...thankfully I have my Heavenly Father and His Word as my guide and my hunny as my encourager.

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved. Helen Keller

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Homemade Bread and a Heart of Contentment

Well, we were warned...the weather is indeed frightful. I'm so thankful that we are all home together. What a treat to have my Hunny home today! I've got homemade bread in the oven to go along with the potato soup we are having for supper.

God has been working on my heart in regards to contentment and surrendering all to Him. To His children, we read this promise,
"And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19
So, I am learning to be content, during the "good" days and the not-so-good days. He is there and promises that I will have what I need to make it through another day. How comforting!

God is good.

French Honey Bread
1 1/4 c. water
1 1/2 T. olive oil
1 1/2 T. honey
1 t. salt
1 1/2 t. sugar
3 1/2 c. bread flour (I use a combination of whole wheat and unbleached bread flour)
2 1/2 t. yeast

Follow the manufacturer's instructions for your bread machine. I use the dough cycle, then put the dough into a loaf pan. I put the pan in a cold oven, setting the oven to 350 degrees F. 25 minutes later, yummy bread.
Recipe from The Bread Maachine Cookbook by Donna Rathmell German

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Cry of My Soul

My soul is down, I am discouraged, I have an empty pit in my stomach. Throughout my entire life, I've had times like this. Sometimes it lasts a couple days, other times much, much longer. What do I do when this happens to me? Well, oftentimes I throw a pity party, I wallow in how badly I feel; it's not pretty, folks. Eventually though, the prompting of the Holy Spirit shines the light on my darkened soul. A call from a good friend, a Scripture that comforts me, a hug from my Hunny, a song on the radio, God has used all of these as a balm to my hurting heart. God created me and I believe that He has His best for me. I have to admit that dark days such as these make me cry out to Him for help, as well as they make me more sensitive to others who may go through similar times.
A good friend of mine gave me a book called, The Cry of the Soul by Dr. Dan Allender and Dr. Tremper Longman. The gripping subtitle reads: How our emotions reveal our deepest questions about God. I won't be able to do the book justice, but basically the authors want us to realize that emotions are not to be avoided or pushed down, but that God gives us our emotions to draw us closer to Him. I have a deep need for Him, but sometimes I walk through life as if I don't need Him. But depression like this, is a clear revelation that I do need Him.

From chapter 11
"Ungodly despair is a flight from desire; it is a refusal to embrace loss as a deepening of the hollowness that makes more room for God. Despair refuses to dream, to hope, and to move with courage toward what we will one day become. If flees to an illusory safe harbor where, isolated, it holds onto whatever pleasure comes from the fantasy of nonexistence. "
"Godly despair is the collapse of self-will; it is the surrender to a reality of becoming that we are powerless to consummate but in which we are granted an opportunity to play a part. Godly despair cries out for perspective but allows the hollowness of loss to move the heart to seek God. "
From Psalm 77
I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the LORD;
at night I stretched out untiring hands
and my soul refused to be comforted. v.1-2

Then I thought, "To this I will appeal;
the years of the right hand of the Most High."
I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago.
I will meditate on all Your works
and consider all Your mighty deeds. v. 10-12

Your ways, O God, are holy.
What god is so great as our God?
You are the God who performes miracles;
You display Your power among the peoples.
With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. v. 13-15
Did you catch that? "The psalmist, through his memory--and thus his experience--of who God is and what He has done, has a change of heart. He moves from depression to affirmation of the Lord." (From Cry of the Soul) Keeping a journal, writing down what God has done in my life and how He has used His Word as well as other books, my family and friends as a means of grace to walk closer with Him, helps me to remember and shines hope to get through the day. These things don't necessarily take the depression away, but they give me hope that God is in control, my life is in His hands and it makes me long for home in heaven.

I could say so much more about this, but time does not allow. I will close with this from God's Word, He says,
"I will never leave you nor forsake you" Hebrews 13:5

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Find your Wings and birthday preparations

I really like this song and I heard it on the way home from the grocery store. It reminds me that my children belong to the Lord and that I am to care for them , training them to love Him and serve Him. I trust my children to His capable hands and pray that I will continue to do my part faithfully.

Find your Wings
by Mark Harris

It's only for a moment you are mine to hold
The plans that heaven has for you
Will all too soon unfold
So many different prayers I'll pray
For all that you might do
But most of all I'll want to know
You're walking in the truth
And If I never told you
I want you to know
As I watch you grow

I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things
I'm here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings

May passion be the wind
That leads you through your days
And may conviction keep you strong
Guide you on your way
May there be many moments
That make your life so sweet
Oh, but more than memories


It's not living if you don't reach for the sky
I'll have tears as you take off
But I'll cheer as you fly

On another family note, tomorrow is my hunny's birthday! Part of our birthday traditions say that the birthday person gets to choose the evening meal and kind of cake he/she wants. Hunny has chosen homemade oven fried chicken, baked beans, mashed potatoes and salad. For his cake, he chose a Blueberry bundt cake. It is super moist and oh, so good. A good friend of mine gave me the recipe which came from a book called The Cake Doctor

Blueberry Muffin Cake
solid vegetable shortening for greasing the pan
flour for dusting the pan
1 package (18.25 oz) plain yellow or white cake mix
1 package (3.4 oz) vanilla instant pudding mix
1 c. low-fat vanilla yogurt
1/2 c. vegetable oil, such as canola, corn, safflower, soybean or sunflower
1/4 c. water
1 t. ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 c. fresh blueberries, rinsed or drained
2 t. confectioners' sugar (for dusting, optional)

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 10-in. tube pan with solid veg. shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pan aside.
2. Measure out 2 T. of the cake mix and reserve it. Place the remaining cake mix, pudding mix, yogurt, oil, water, cinnamon and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides. The batter should look thick and well blended.
3. Toss the blueberries with the reserved cake mix.
4. Pour 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Scatter the blueberries over the batter. Spread the remaining batter over the blueberries so that it covers the fruit. Place the pan in the oven.
5. Bake the cake until it is golden brown on top and just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, 45-60 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a rack, then onto another rack so that the cake is right side up. Allow it to cool completely.
6. Place the cake on a serving platter. Dust with confectioners' sugar if desired and serve.

**Allow this cake to cool completely, then store it, covered in plastic wrap, at room temp. for up to 1 week. Or freeze, wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to 6 months. Thaw the cake overnight on the counter before serving.
**I use a bundt pan and it works great.
**You can use thawed frozen berries, but omit the water in the recipe.

So, I'm off to make birthday preparations!

Everything Must GO!

Okay, not everything, but some things must. For those who know me, you know that I routinely go through the 'stuff' in our house and give away what we are not using. Although there is that unwritten rule that as soon as I give something away or throw it away--I need it! I'm not sure why that happens, but it has happened more than once, get the idea.

Regardless, I'm going through each room, closet, drawer, etc. and ridding ourselves of abundance! (Visit this link for more on celebrating abundance.)

First stop, the baby boy's linen organizer. How many baby blankets does one sweet boy need? Well, certainly not 15! So, I put at least half of them, maybe more, into a bag to give to the local crisis pregnancy center.

Stop 2, oldest daughter's "too big" clothes container. My daughter has the fun of receiving clothes from her cousins and we save them until she can wear them. Periodically we obviously need to go through them to see what fits now. We did that and were able to empty two 'under the bed' boxes. I'm enjoying this!

So, not that I'm keeping count, but I now have 3 white bags of clothes and misc. for Goodwill and one white bag for the crisis pregnancy center! These bags will be delivered today. I also toted out 2 boxes for recycle. I'm really enjoying this!

My next big job will be to tackle the room Marissa uses for her schooling and we also use for crafting. It is going to be a big job. I'm sure I'll enjoy it when it is finished, but maybe not so much in the process of decluttering.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Just writing the title makes my mouth water! These cinnamon rolls are also known as "The Clone of the Cinnabon". I originally obtained the recipe through This recipe is so yummy! I made these yesterday and took to a friend's house. My friend is pregnant with her 4th little one and is having some complications. My children and I went over to keep her company and play with her 3 young boys. The cinnamon rolls were a big hit with everyone--although the kids were too busy playing to enjoy theirs.

Here is the original recipe and at the bottom, I'll add my variations.

1 c. warm milk (110 degrees F)
2 eggs, room temp.
1/3 c. butter, melted
4 1/2 c. bread flour
1 t. salt
1/2 c. white sugar
2 1/2 t. bread machine yeast
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/8 t. salt

1 c. brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 T. ground cinnamon
1/3 c. butter, softened

1 (3 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/8 t. salt

1. Place the first set of ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle and start.
2. After the dough is done, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
3. Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 c. butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
4. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 c. butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Heather's variations and tips:
  • I changed the cream cheese to an 8 ounce package and reduced the sugar to about half of what is called for.
  • I cut the rolls into at least 16 instead of 12.
  • To have rolls first thing in the morning, I made the dough the night before, rolled, spread the cinnamon mixture, cut, placed in greased pan and put them in the fridge. Then the next morning, I set them out on the counter for 30 minutes and baked as directed.
  • The recipe link has many more hints and tips, such as the one I just read today--after the rolls are done baking and before you put the icing on them, flip them over as one big unit, so that the yummy insides stays with the rolls. Good idea.
  • There are also instructions for making the recipe without a bread machine.
  • Beware, these are SO good. I only make them once or twice a year!
Well, there it is...the b*e*s*t cinnamon roll recipe that I have found. One last note: I try to feed my family relatively healthy. This recipe is an's so good. Be sure to make it when you are having company, otherwise the temptation to overindulge would be too great! :)

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Creative Gift Giving

The Carnival of Beauty topic this week has gotten me thinking about creativity. I enjoy being creative--and my creativity takes on many different forms. For example, sometimes I'm creative in my house cleaning and organizing, in my approach to homeschooling, in the ways I show my hunny and my children that I love them, etc.

The 1949 edition of Webster's Dictionary states that creative is an adjective meaning "having the power to originate; productive". Being creative helps me express who I am deep down inside, it helps lighten the load of the "dailies" and hopefully it brings joy to those around me because it certainly helps to bring joy to my heart.

As of late, I've been considering creative gift giving for my family. I enjoy making crafts and made these mittens recently for the table. (Notice I've yet to finish mine.)

I also made this craft for a gift and am in the process of making one for us. Since it goes on the Christmas tree, I have many months before we'll need it. I found the idea and directions here.

Other creative gifts I'm thinking of especially with Valentine's Day coming up...
  • Make homemade pancakes and use cookie cutters to cut shapes. Pancake recipe at the bottom of this post.
  • A coupon book for the kids with coupons for a free bed making, "get out of chores free" day, help mom make cookies, etc.
  • Handmade Valentine cards--my own design or here for ideas
Be sure to tune in tomorrow to the Carnival of Beauty. This is my first submission to it, however I've read entries of past carnivals. Hopefully this link will get you there.

Enjoy and be creative today!

Basic Wholegrain Pancake Recipe

2 c. milk (any kind--I've used non-fat dry milk, rice, soy and regular)
1 egg
up to 1/4 c. honey, maple syrup, molasses or brown sugar
up to 1/4 c. oil (I use olive oil or canola)
2 c. flour--any combination of whole wheat, rye, soy, oat, millet or buckwheat; rolled oates, bran, wheat germ or cornmeal
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt

  1. In a large bowl, place milk, eggs, honey and oil. Mix well.
  2. Add flour and/or grains, baking powder and salt. Beat only until large lumps disappear.
  3. Cook on lightly greased skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.
  4. The extras can be cooled on wire rack, then frozen. To reheat, pop in the toaster.
  5. Makes about 16 4" pancakes.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Constant Pull of the World

Around every corner, amidst the next thought, and along my steps, there are distractions. Distractions pulling me away from my focus--my heart desire to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love my neighbor as myself. (Luke 10:27) Sometimes I get so frustrated at myself. I heard someone say, and I can say this is true of me, that the only consistent thing in my life is my inconsistency. I could go into more detail, but why do that to myself... So, instead, I am going to re-focus with Scripture and move forward!

"Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever." I John 2:15-17

Friday, February 2, 2007

I love being an aunt!

Being an aunt ranks pretty high on my list of favorite things! Between my hunny and I, we have a good number of nieces and nephews. And to make life even more grand, the Lord has allowed us to develop close relationships with a couple friends...and their children call us "aunt" and "uncle". (I'm sure you'll hear more about them on other occasions.)

Last night, the kids and I had the privilege of attending my six year old nephew's art debut. (Hunny had graduate school classes and was unable to come with us.) Tyrese has an incredible talent for drawing. What an exciting time to see his art work on the wall! He was dressed in a spiffy suit, and his mom and sister were there to cheer him on. His teachers lovingly came show their support for him, which thrilled him.

While I don't know much about the program, Art Beyond Boundaries, I did discover that they have a website. Many people commented, that my nephew has talent and his teachers are looking into getting him art lessons. Keep up the good work, Tyrese!

Johnnay, my niece, was a huge help last night with Trenton. He wanted to run among the artists. Between Johnnay, Marissa and myself we kept him (and the museum) safe. We rounded off the evening with dinner at McDonald's. Fun was had by all!

Note: My sil gave me the permission to post her children's pictures on my blog.

Cozy at home

Winter is definitely here. We are enjoying snow flurries as I write this. I love watching the snow. We have had sort of a long week with the sickies. Marissa was sick on Wednesday and Bethany is sick now (with something different). I am thankful we homeschool, and today we don't have to go out in the cold. Here are some pictures of my kids (these were taken within the last month or so)...
Marissa is almost 11, Bethany is 4 1/2 and Trenton is 18 months.

Oh! The sun is out and the sky is blue--mar*ve*lous!! Praise the Lord for He is the Creator of the world and all that is in it. Another post to come later because I can't wait to tell you all about my 6 year old nephew--a budding artist!