Monday, December 31, 2007


I've been really reflective this past week. There is something so invigorating and exciting about the chance to recommit and start anew in a bright and shiny New Year. A year with no mistakes in it yet. Full of possibility. Full of chances to grow and be better. But it also makes me reflect on the blessings of the past year. It has been a challenging 18 months for me. Having a difficult pregnancy, having a newborn, moving across the country, buying our first home...but now, all those challenges seem so much more like blessings. I know that is the way our Father in Heaven works. And I'm glad after 33 years, I'm starting to trust Him a little more to know what is best for me.

In celebration of the coming year, Megan and I altered a couple of Target notebooks to track the progress of our resolutions and to record impressions, uplifting thoughts, pictures and quotes for 2008. We had a great time making them and recording our specific goals for 2008 and how we intend to keep them.

I hope you have a safe and joyous New Year's Eve. I'll catch you in 2008!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Baked Potstickers

Another healthy, easy Pampered Chef recipe. YUMMY!

Baked Potstickers with Sweet Asian Dipping Sauce

1 can (10 ounces) chunk white chicken, drained and flaked
1 can (8 ounces) water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup grated carrot
1 tsp. peeled and finely grated fresh gingerroot
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 egg white, beaten slightly
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I used fat free)
1 clove garlic, pressed
24 square wonton wrappers

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, combine chicken, water chestnuts, green onions, carrot, ginger root, soy sauce, egg white, mayo and garlic. Mix well. To assemble potstickers, place 12 wonton wrappers onto a smooth surface. Lightly brush each side of wrapper with water. Place a heaping teaspoon of chicken mixture in center of the wrapper and fold like an envelope, or bring all four corners together and pinch. Place on baking stone and lightly spritz with oil. Repeat with remaining wontons. Bake 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Makes 24.

Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup red jalapeno jelly
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce

Place jelly in small bowl and microwave on high for 30-40 seconds or until warm. Add vinegar and soy sauce. Whisk until well blended.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sam's Teacher Gift

I had a few people ask me about what I was doing for Sam's teacher gift. I usually just give a gift card to Barnes & Noble, but about a week before Christmas, I found an even BETTER idea on a website my friend Kristi shared with me. It is an online vinyl store called Once Upon A Design. I loved these ladies' original designs. I applied the vinyl to a biscuit jar and filled it with individually wrapped biscottis. Then I tied a Starbucks gift card on with pretty ribbon. Sam made the cutest card out of his hand print (shaped like a reindeer) and we were good to go! So cute. A GREAT idea to tuck away for next year, or for the end of school.

I also made a "Santa's Cookies" plate with another of their designs. It looks adorable on red.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Happy Trails & A Perky "Do"

We have had the best week. Last Friday, we picked my parents up at the airport and we have gone just about non-stop since. We've watched movies, shopped, eaten, shopped some more, celebrated, napped and played with the children. We have laughed and laughed. Time, as always, has gone too quickly. So happy trails, Grandma and Grandpa. Thanks for the fun week...give Breea a kiss for us.

And in other news, I FINALLY bit the bullet and got my hair cut. I always have a hard time finding someone to cut my hair in a new place after we move, and I finally got desperate enough yesterday (after too many months to mention) that I went with Megan and Mom and got a perky new do. I feel like a new woman. I'm the one in black:-)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Organizing Toys

These ideas may not work for everyone, but I wanted to share what works for toy organization at our house, especially trying to incorporate the new toys that Santa brought.

I get rid of a few of the older toys that the kids don't play with much anymore, are broken, or missing parts while they are excited about all their new toys. I put them in our designated garage sale box in the storage room so if there is a melt-down because they miss that particular toy, I can get it out again for them. This has only happened once...usually they forget about them instantly.

I am a huge believer in storage bins. Not only does it keep tiny pieces together, it also gives everything a place and limits the toys that get brought out. Now mind you, they don't always get put right away...I usually don't get this organized except maybe once a week. They are kids, after all. It also makes moving a cinch because the movers just pack the bins, and I unpack them at our new home, right onto their shelf.

I also label each bin with the name of what's in it as well as a picture, if possible. That way, my daughter who can't read yet knows what goes in what bin.

For smaller toys, and favorites as well, I make fabric bags with drawstrings. I try and match the fabric to what's inside so that they stay organized that way. It also makes packing for trips or church a breeze because I can just grab the particular bags out of the basket they want, and we're on our way. I also keep a basket for Josh's baby toys as well as a catch-all basket in the basement for those in-between organizing times so it can look tidy in a snap.

Just a few ideas...maybe one or all will work for you!

For more great ideas, check out Scribbit's Winter Bazaar.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

Where to start? First, my parents and Megan are here. Our basement guest suite is complete. AND it's Christmas Eve. I can't think of anything better! These are the highlights of our day.

The girls and Josh shopping at Hobby Lobby and Target, just for fun (Christmas shopping was already done) while the boys hit the base and Cabelas, being wished a "Merry Christmas" wherever we went, and coming home with the makings of our Christmas feast.

Making and decorating cookies for Santa.

Eating our traditional take-out Chinese food for dinner...YUMMY!

Reading the Christmas Story from Luke 2, The Tale of the Three Trees, singing Christmas songs while Anna rang jingle bells, and saying family prayer before heading off to bed.

Putting our homemade cookies and eggnog out for Santa. The big guy's gotta have eggnog. And carrots all in a row for the reindeer. AND he's obviously a Nebraska fan.

By the way, Sam's note to Santa says, "Dear Santa, I know your reindeer's names. I have been good. Love, Sam." We decided it sounds a bit like a threat:-)

Perfect day. Surrounded by people I love, sunshine, shopping and snow. AND it's Christmas Eve. May we all feel the love of our Savior, this season as well as throughout the coming year. Merry Christmas everyone, from our home to yours!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Syracuse, Bits & Pieces

Yesterday, Josh and I spent the morning in Syracuse with Kristi. We had a WONDERFUL time exploring the cute shops in downtown Syracuse, and found a few treasures...a sugared spruce soy candle and this beautiful new nativity by Deb Hrabik. She designs for Demdaco (the company that makes Willow Tree) and actually lives in Syracuse. Not bad for a city of less than 1500 people!

Kristi took this picture of Josh and I... such a happy moment in a near perfect day. And speaking of the little guy, this is what I found when I went to get him up this morning. I really wish he wasn't in such a hurry to grow up.

Straight No Chaser - 12 Days


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Winter Concert

The First Grade's Winter Concert was tonight. Despite the complete lack of any actual CHRISTmas songs, I was actually pretty impressed. It was too late for Josh, so Megan and I took Sam while Tony stayed home with the little ones. I don't get much alone time with my Sam. Usually, when the division between parents is made, I get the baby and Anna, and Tony takes his "little buddy." So I waxed a little nostalgic tonight. My Sam. Can't believe that it was 7 years ago that I was anticipating the birth of this wonderful little person. He is loving. He is creative. He is tender. All the very sweetest parts of Tony and I ended up in this little guy. And, no matter how the years may change us both, he will always be my Sam.

Antique Letter Block Sentiments

Just a quick idea today...I'm sure we're all feeling the crunch of the Holiday rush. While blog-jumping this week, I came across a post by Monica at The Homespun Heart. She had a GREAT idea for decorating with the antique children's blocks that I obsessively collect. She spells out festive words with the blocks and places them around her home. I love how funky they look here in my entry with all sorts of blocks in different sizes and lettering. I have purchased most of mine at antique stores and flea markets...they are easy to find and still relatively inexpensive.

Merry Christmas!

For more great winter ideas, recipes and activities, check out Scribbit's Winter Bazaar.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

True Oatmeal and Other Yumminess

When Sam was 18 months old, we spent the summer in Alaska living with my family while Tony did his first internship at the Elmendorf AFB legal office. It was then that my dad introduced Sam to maple & brown sugar instant oatmeal. Every morning, my dad would get a little bowl of oatmeal ready for Sam when he got his breakfast so that it would be cool when Sam was ready to eat it. In fact, Sam got to love his morning oatmeal so much that "brown nummies" were often his first words in the morning. He is almost 7 now, and just about every morning of his life, he has eaten 2 packets of maple & brown sugar oatmeal. Anna usually eats it, too. Needless to say, we go through so much oatmeal at our house! Anyway, Tony decided he wanted to broaden the kids' horizons and has been making them different flavors of instant oatmeal in the mornings. It hasn't been popular. Now, each morning, the kids ask if they are getting "true oatmeal", meaning maple & brown sugar. So cute.

I love French Onion Soup, but hadn't found a recipe for it that I was in love with...until now. It's from Gooseberry Patch's Slow Cooker recipe book and is a winner!

French Onion Soup

4 cups beef broth
3 cups yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup freshly grated
Parmesan cheese
sliced French bread
additional Parmesan cheese

Pour broth into a slow cooker set on high; cover and set aside to warm. In a skillet over medium heat, cook onion slowly in butter until tender; cover and cook about 15 minutes. Add salt, sugar, flour. Stir well; add to broth in slow cooker. Cover and cook on high setting for 3 hours, or reduce heat to low setting and cook for 6 to 8 hours (preferred). At serving time, stir in cheese. toast bread under broiler; place in bottom of bowl and ladle soup over bread. Sprinkle with additional cheese. Serves 8.

We had the Buxtons over for FHE last night and had Sarah Memmott's famous Gateau a la Creme for dessert. Had to share this classic, also. Thanks, Sarah!!

Gateau a la Creme

1 yellow cake mix
1 cube butter
1 egg

Mix all ingredients until it becomes a paste. Press into bottom of greased 9" x 13" pan. Then mix:

2 eggs
1 16 oz. pkg. powdered sugar
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese

Beat eggs, add powdered sugar, mix well. Add cream cheese. Spread mixture onto yellow cake crust and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered suar immediately after removing from oven. Refrigerate until serving. Top with fresh raspberries to serve.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Children have such a way of reminding us of what's really important--I've heard lots of personal examples of this from my friends and family lately. Lucky for me, I had an experience like that in my own home today. The introspection that Christmas creates allowed me see this precious moment for more than what it first appeared to be. Several years ago, I bought a Fisher-Price Nativity set. Best Holiday purchase I have ever made. We have several Nativities in our home, but none that the children were allowed to touch. It was so important to Tony and I that our family had the chance to play with and act out the story that is so central to what be know and believe about our Savior. I keep it low enough so they don't even need to ask to play with it. This is how I found it today.

I love how the Care Bear and the jolly old man himself got in on the Adoration. Wish we could all be so quick to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Grinch & "Rate the Day" Magnets

I think I've eluded to this before, but my husband is a bit of a Grinch. Oh, he enjoys Christmas as much as the next guy, but he doesn't really get into the decorations, music, ambiance like I do. So, imagine my surprise when he came home from work yesterday and told me he felt a little like Scrooge because he didn't have any Christmas decorations in his office (besides the Christmas candies I bought him for his candy bowl...). And what, you ask, did he want me to help him make? A red nose. For his antelope mount in his office. Oh, yeah, that'll convince everyone that he's festive. Grinch.

And on a lighter note, I made up some magnets today. They are actually "Daily Dose" cards from My Mind's Eye and made to be used on scrapbook pages. I decided that they might actually be cuter as magnets. So I laminated them, rounded the corners and picked up a couple of wet erase markers. Made one for Tony's office, and one for home. Because sometimes, the guy just needs a little warning before coming through the door at the end of the day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Giveaway Winners

I want to thank all you ladies that participated in my first ever giveaways! It never ceases to amaze me that people actually visit and enjoy my blog...I am grateful for the creative outlet it gives me. Thanks for your encouragment and your kind words! They are so appreciated. Now, on to the important stuff...

The response to the second giveaway was larger than I expected, so I am going to give away TWO Card Catchers and Cinnamon Stick Angels. Sam chose the two lucky winners from a hat and they are...MICHELLE at Scribbit and CHERY! I know where you both live so I'll get those in the mail tomorrow so you can enjoy them during the Holidays or pass them along as gifts.

(Michelle...its gotta be karma for the stinkbug costume...)

Thanks again!

Graham Cracker Brittle & Thank You Cards

Holy Yumminess! This is another pass-along recipe from the fabulous Jeni Harmon...I've had it tucked away for a couple of weeks and finally made up a batch to try it out today. So easy and delish!

Graham Cracker Brittle

1 stick butter
1 stick margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Line 9" x 13" pan with graham crackers. In a saucepan, boil butter, margarine, sugar and pecans for 3 minutes. Pour over crackers and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool, break up and serve.

Every year, I try to make up a bunch of cards so that I can write out our family's "thank you"s while we watch our new movies the few days following Christmas. I took some time today to finish up the ones I created for this year. I'm oh so proud of myself that I didn't buy anything new for these...I had all the stuff on hand. The stamp is one of the Studio G stamps that are in the $1 bins at Michaels and Jo-Anns.

Displaying Cards and Keepsaking Pictures

If you are like me, one of the best parts of the Holiday season is the sending and receiving of Christmas cards. But with every move, our list gets longer and longer, and in our new home, there isn't a practical way to display the cards and photos of our friends that come with their holiday greetings. So I came up with a plan this year. I bought a medium sized hurricane jar at Target and placed it on the table in my entry. I can see all the cards in there, but they are orderly and contained.

As a scrapbooker at heart, I can't seem to throw our friends' Christmas photos away! So this year, I bought a 8 1/2" by 8 1/2" album and a set of Making Memories papers and embellishments (saved me time trying to match everything) and am placing the photos in our little scrapbook as they come in, starting with our family Christmas photo.

That way, they are displayed, and I won't be overwhelmed with photos at the end of the season! Plus, we'll be able to enjoy them throughout the kids LOVE to look at the pictures of their friends they miss in Montana!

For more great ideas, check out Scribbit's Winter Bazaar!

(Also, today is the last day to get in on my second impartial 6-year-old will be drawing the winner tonight!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ice Storm!

The weatherman was actually right this time! He has been predicting a major ice storm to blow through the Midwest late this week and last night, we got hit hard! All during the night, we could hear the rain pelting the roof and could only imagine how icy the roads were going to be covered in black ice with a feathery powdering of snow on top. Luckily, they cancelled school, Tony was told to stay home, and we got a lovely reprieve...right in the middle of the busiest time of the year...and couldn't go anywhere!

So, we got to eat lunch with Sam, stay in our pajamas all day, watch movies, drink hot chocolate, play in the snow, spend time with daddy, and have absolutely NO GUILT!!

Stay warm out there today!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Giveaway #2

And the winner of Giveaway #1 is......LISA!! Please drop me an email at so I can make sure I have your correct address and I will get your snowman loot off to you in time to enjoy during the Holidays! Thanks everyone!

As for Giveaway #2, which starts now and goes through WEDNESDAY, I will be giving away a handmade Card Catcher and Cinnamon Stick Angel Ornament. The Card Catcher is a quilted wallhanging that holds your collection of Christmas cards in the pockets created by the tree boughs. Leave a comment to enter, and good luck!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

My BIG FAT Apology

Okay, I owe some people around me a huge apology. I must admit, I gave many of you a hard time, even teased you. Couldn't believe that you could actually be reading, nay, ENJOYING a romance about vampires. Not just vampires, but GOOD vampires. Well, Kristi gave me her copy of Twilight to read early last week and said I really should try it out. Well, I have been bitten. I haven't been able to put them down! I'm halfway through Eclipse now, and forgot how fun it can be to read for pure pleasure sake. This self-professed "book snob" has been humbled. So everyone out there that I may have mocked, I'm eating big, black CROW!

Today's the last chance to get in on Giveaway #1.

Friday, December 7, 2007

More Angels

Two more treasures from our angel ornament collection...

These are several of the many given to me by my dear, beautiful friend Sarah. I think she and her husband Bryan are some of the only reasons I made it through my first winter in Great Falls. Bryan was also a JAG at the time and Sarah and I clicked instantly. We got into all sorts of trouble together. Sarah kept me company while Tony was at JSOC, Bryan watched all the kids while Sarah and I went to the gym, and even after Tony got home, we ate dinners together, went to listen to President Bush on his stop in Great Falls together, and we grew to love them like family.

The first angel was one Sarah brought home to me after a business trip to Kansas first Serenity angel. I LOVE these angels and have given them as gifts and some stay up year round in our home. The second one, reading a book, came just this year before my birthday and is a set of three. I like this one best because it reminds me of Sarah and I and our propensity to share every book we read...she is one of the few of my friends that devours books like I do!

I love and miss you, Sarah!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Bit of Innocence Lost

It seems a little trite now to be looking over my decorated home and long Christmas "to-do" list when we were touched by real tragedy today. Although the Westroads Mall is on the other side of Omaha, we can't help but be a little shaken. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families impacted by this tragedy and hurt for them knowing that every Christmas season from here until forever will be marred by memories of December 5th. Makes us want to hold our children a little longer and a little tighter. A bit of our innocence was lost today in Omaha.

MSNBC news story

Merry Christ-MICE!

I've done these for several years kids' little friends LOVE them and I have even given them as teacher gifts. They are from Martha Stewart's Kids Magazine from Winter 2003. They don't sell MS Kids anymore (sigh) and this particular pattern isn't archived, so I am linking a copy of my pattern in Adobe (Scribbit taught me how in her post from Monday...HOORAY for Michelle!)

The pattern is already enlarged for your convenience and the dotted lines are guides for slits through which the ears and the candy cane tail go through. I used regular tacky glue for the inner ears and the pom-pom nose. You can use any color felt, but I like the traditional gray with pink ears. You can also use pom-poms for the eyes as well as for the nose, but I just used a pinhead dipped in black paint for this particular batch. They go together in a snap!

For more great ideas for the Holidays, visit Scribbit's Winter Bazaar!

There is still time to enter my first ever giveaway...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Giveaway #1

I had some really fun things left over after my craft show, so I am going to do two giveaways...this one and another one that will start next Monday. Just leave a comment between now and next Sunday night and I'll draw at random and annouce the winner next Monday morning in the post for the next giveaway. It's open to anyone!

This week, the giveaway is this snowman stitchery in an 8" by 8" handpainted barn red frame AND a handpainted snowman plug cover.

Good Luck and Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 1, 2007


There is FINALLY some progress being made on our basement!! Yesterday, they got the egress window cut from the foundation and installed. The inspector also came and signed off on all the electrical and plumbing so we are set to have drywall and flooring installed. We look forward to having that area usable and having a lovely suite for guests...hint..hint...

Since we have finished the craft show, I have been finally able to devote some time to clearing my work area in the family room. Having this space clear again after what seemed like months of chaos has given me a little shot of inspiration and I actually did a few scrapbook pages last night. This blog has been such a blessing because all my journaling is caught up and easily accessible when I want to actually work with the hard copy pictures. Sorry about the pictures instead of scanner is still not installed. Happy December...