Friday, December 31, 2010

My Never-Ending 'To Be Read' Stack

This will be updated as I finish books and get new ones. I'm also going to try and add a section at the bottom later for what I'm reading with my kids for school.


90 Minutes in Heaven
Age of Opportunity
Before You Meet Prince Charming: A Guide to Radiant Purity
Calvinism: A Southern Baptist Dialogue
Instructing a Child's Heart
Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World
The Excellent Wife
The Mission of Motherhood
The Pursuit of Holiness


Christmas Cookie Murder
The Cat Who Went Underground

What I've Read in 2010


A Cooking Class Mystery: Cooking Up Murder by Miranda Bliss
A Cooking Class Mystery: Murder on the Menu by Miranda Bliss
Aloha Reef Series: Distant Echoes by Colleen Coble
Aloha Reef Series: Black Sands by Colleen Coble
Boo by Rene Gutteridge
Boo Who by Rene Gutteridge
Colorado Crimes (3-in-1) by Lisa Harris
Coming Home to Ruby Prairie Series: A New Day at Tanglewood by Annette Smith
Coming Home to Ruby Prairie Series: A Town Called Ruby Prairie by Annette Smith
Coming Home to Ruby Prairie Series: Charlotte Leaves the Light On by Annette Smith
Fallen From Babel by T.L. Higley
Gaslight Mysteries: Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson
Gaslight Mysteries: Murder on Bank Street by Victoria Thompson
Gaslight Mysteries: Murder in Chinatown by Victoria Thompson
Gaslight Mysteries: Murder on Gramercy Park by Victoria Thompson
Gaslight Mysteries: Murder on Lenox Hill by Victoria Thompson
Gaslight Mysteries: Murder in Little Italy by Victoria Thompson
Gaslight Mysteries: Murder on Marble Row by Victoria Thompson
Gaslight Mysteries: Murder on Mulberry Bend by Victoria Thompson
Gaslight Mysteries: Murder on St. Mark's Place by Victoria Thompson
Gaslight Mysteries: Murder on Washington Square by Victoria Thompson
Life, Libby, and the Pursuit of Happiness by Hope Lyda
Lonestar Homecoming by Colleen Coble
Lonestar Sanctuary by Colleen Coble
Lonestar Secrets by Colleen Coble
Lumby on the Air by Gail Fraser
Kinsey Millhone: "G" is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton
Kinsey Millhone: "H" is for Homicide by Sue Grafton
Kinsey Millhone: "I" is for Innocent by Sue Grafton
Kinsey Millhone: "J" is for Judgment by Sue Grafton
Knitting Mysteries: A Deadly Yarn by Maggie Sefton
Knitting Mysteries: Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton
Knitting Mysteries: Needled to Death by Maggie Sefton
Mainely Mysteries (3-in-1) by Susan Page Davis and Megan Elaine Davis
Nosy in Nebraska (3-in-1) by Mary Connealy
Petra: City in Stone by T.L. Higley
Seven Wonders Series: Guardian of the Flame by T.L. Higley
Seven Wonders Series: Shadow of Colossus by T.L. Higley
Shop-Til-U-Drop Series: A Cut Above by Ginny Aiken
Shop-Til-U-Drop Series: Priced to Move by Ginny Aiken
Shop-Til-U-Drop Series: A Steal of a Deal by Ginny Aiken
Simply Christmas by Pamela Dowd, Wanda Luttrell, and Christine Lynxwiler
Stork Raving Mad by Donna Andrews

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall
The Robber's Cave by A.L.O.E. (A Lady of England, the pseudonym for Charlotte Maria Tucker)
The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner
The Shepherd of Bethlehem by A.L.O.E. (A Lady of England)
The Wanderer in Africa by A.L.O.E. (A Lady of England)
Under the Cajun Moon by Mindy Starns Clark
When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall
When the Morning Comes by Cindy Woodsmall
When the Soul Mends by Cindy Woodsmall


Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris
Have a New Kid by Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman
Of Knights and Fair Maidens by Jeff and Danielle Myers
Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges
The Consolations of Imperfection by Donald McCullough
They Thought They Were Free by Milton Mayer
Walking from East to West by Ravi Zacharias


This was ashamedly the only thing I baked over the holidays, and I don't think it can qualify under the baking category because it was so simple.

You've probably seen them out there, but in case you haven't, I want to share the simple deliciousness of this treat with you.

can't remember where I saw it first

mini pretzels, calls for twists, I used the square Snyder's
Rolos, unwrapped
pecan halves

Place the pretzels on a parchment paper or aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Place the Rolos on top.

Bake at 250 degrees for 3-5 minutes. You want the Rolos shiny, which means they are soft, but not melting and losing their shape on their own yet.

Press a pecan into the top of each Rolo. Place in the refrigerator to cool and set.

Try not to eat them all in one sitting.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Cranberry Salad

But it's not just for Christmas!

Christmas Cranberry Salad
from my friend, Lori

1-6 oz pkg strawberry jello
2 cups boiling water
1 large pkg frozen strawberries, thawed (I think mine was 16 oz)
1 large can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 can whole cranberry sauce

In a large bowl, dissolve jello in boiling water. When cool, add pineapple, cranberries, and strawberries. Place in refrigerator until firm. It's best made the day before.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Williamsburg Orange Cake

I always try to make a cake for Christmas since we celebrate it first as Jesus' birthday. This was the one I made this year.

Williamsburg Orange Cake
from my friend, Marsha

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 T grated orange rind or 2 T orange juice
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Combine all the ingredients except the pecans, 30 seconds on low and then 3 minutes on high. Add pecans.

Pour evenly into 3 greased and floured 8-inch cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely.

3/4 cup butter, softened
6 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 T grated orange rind
7 1/2 T orange juice

Mix in blender until it is spreading consistency. You can add little bits of orange juice if you need more liquid.

Store in refrigerator.

You must use butter in the cake. My grandma tried to make this years ago when she was still living after I had made it for her for her birthday. She used margarine. It didn't work.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

For All You Wives Out There, This Is Priceless

I saw the end of this clip on an ESPN top 100 show recently. I can't find just the end of the horse race, so watch the whole thing. I don't think you'll regret it.

We always knew, didn't we?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

From the girls in our house,

and the two boys willing to be photographed this morning,

Merry Christmas!

We had an atypical Christmas for us. It was only the second Christmas in my life that I haven't had the traditional homemade chicken pie. The other time was 1993 when the girls were in the hospital and we were staying at the local Ronald McDonald House.

After unexpectedly spending Thanksgiving Day in the hospital with Hubby this year and the kids spending it with special friends from church, I cooked our turkey on the evening of Black Friday. It was what has become known as the great turkey disaster.

I always cook my turkey in the large plastic bags and they always turn out fine. My problem is that I always want to cook them upside down. Hubby always has to tell me which way is up. Since he wasn't here, I couldn't ask.

And the year I decide to cook it opposite the way I think it should be is the year I'll have it right the first time.

Well, the meat thermometer said the turkey was done and I started cutting. Eventually I realized I'd cooked it upside down and most of the meat wasn't cooked. It was too late to remedy the situation. I also found a second bag of innards, which is my second turkey-cooking issue. I can never find them or there is a second bag I don't find.

So for Christmas we had turkey! Complete with a surprise bag of innards upon cutting it!

I can also cook a turkey right side up if I buy one with a pop-up timer.

Here are the kids with their beloved socks, which we open last.

This is our "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" cake. It's a Williamsburg Orange Cake with Williamsburg Butter Frosting. I'll share the recipe soon!

I pray that you all had a wonderful day celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ornament Tree

We always had at least one of these around our house when I was growing up. Of course back then there weren't all the glittery ball choices available in the stores today.

And just so you know, the shatter-proof balls with unusual tops will not work. You have to have ornaments with the typical round hooks at the top like vintage glass balls. If you can find shatter-proof like that, go for it.

You'll need a knitting needle that is at least one foot long and skinny enough to go through the circular hole in the top of the ornaments.

Start at the bottom and place two balls on the knitting needle across from each other, and then place the two that criss-cross. They lie better that way. Sometimes you have to finagle them to make the bottom sit well. My mom doesn't, but I did. I just had to stretch the wire the tiniest bit on the top of the criss-crossed ornaments on the bottom row for it not to wiggle.

Alternate sizes as you go up the needle. You can do a couple of rows of each size, or more depending on how many different sizes you have. When you get to the top, take one of your smallest ornaments, pull the top off and sit it on the top of your needle.

I have five different sizes on this ornament tree. Two of my other trees (that I didn't show you here) only have three sizes. That's because I just got the two smaller sizes of ornaments yesterday and dismantled this third tree and re-did it.

The largest three sizes are actually shatter-proof balls with the correct type of top. The two smaller sizes are glass balls. They all look the same. If I drop it, they won't.

I love this new addition to my Christmas decorations this year!

I'm linking up over at Skip to my Lou.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Beef and Noodles

Last week was beef week at our house. It was cold and time for some comfort food. We had Beef and Noodles, a recipe I got courtesy of my good blogging friend Betsy at My Five Men. We even found out we have in real life friends in common this last year.

Beef and Noodles
from my blog friend, Betsy

3 lbs beef stew meet, cut in 1" cubes
1 onion, chopped (or use some onion powder)
4 T butter
8 tsp Beef Soup Base
24 oz wide egg noodles
10 cups of water

Brown stew meat and onions in butter in a large stock pot. Cover with 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 2 1/2 hours.

Take out the meat and set aside. Add soup base and noodles. Cook until noodles are tender. Return meat to the pot with the noodles and check seasonings. Add salt and pepper if needed. Serve once the meat is reheated. It usually doesn't take long.

I've doubled Betsy's original recipe. I usually only have enough leftovers for one large serving even after having doubled it. If I served a lot of sides with it it would go farther, but we were really in the mood for some warm comfort food last week. It's been cold here!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Quick Fabric Gift Bags

I needed to 'wrap' the gifts I had for my 2nd grade Sunday school class. Regular wrapping was not going to be conducive due to shape, and I didn't have any inexpensive Christmas lunch bag type gift bags. I also did not want to buy a gift bag for nine kids, even at the dollar store. That would have been another $9, plus tissue paper as filler.

I still had some Christmas flannel scraps from the Christmas stockings, which are actually Christmas bags, which we call socks, that I made for my four kids about eight years ago. I pulled those out and cut them down to size. I had just enough for nine bags.

I folded the top over and made about a 1/4" to 1/2" hem. Then I put the right sides together and sewed up the sides. I snipped the corners, flipped the bag right side out, and I had a bag.

I used the pillowcase scraps I had from making pillowcases that fit to make the ties. I just cut strips and then tied the bags shut. No hemming, no finishing, just cutting and tying.

I was finished in under an hour, and it was so much cuter than anything I could have purchased! It kind of reminded me of a mini-Santa bag.

I'm linking up at Tip Junkie:

handmade projects

Friday, December 17, 2010


My mom sent me an email to tell me about today's Family Circus cartoon that was in the paper.

Wonder if they got the idea from one of my kids?

♪ They Were 16 Going On 17... ♫

Now they are 17!

They have been since December 3rd.

I keep hearing, "Have you done our birthday post?"

We saw the new Chronicles of Narnia movie (LOVE it) in the afternoon on the 10th and then had a sleepover. We had two decks of Dutch Blitz going so the boys could play too.

Dutch Blitz with eight people is fast and furious! I teamed up with Caboose part of the time to help him out.

We kept things small since Hubby is still recovering. We had a variety of ages over between 13 and 19. I love that about our kids and their friends. Age doesn't really matter, and they didn't have to become grown-ups to realize that. These girls all have strong Christian values and have great attitudes. They enjoy being together and playing games and not gossiping or talking about boys.

The first group of three girls went to sleep at 2:00 a.m. and the second group of three went to sleep just after 4:00 a.m. They decided they should get a little sleep.

The other night when we went out to eat, the waitress asked if we needed two kids menus. She was thinking of Caboose and Sparky. Hubby said pretty soon people are going to think they are twins! Sparky didn't think that was very funny.

By the way, they don't drive yet. We are going to enroll in driver's ed in the spring/summer when the roads aren't snowy and icy. You know, I wonder if they even do driver's ed in Michigan in the winter? Well, I just know Hubby and I do not have the constitution (especially me) to teach them to drive.

We'll warn you once they are on the road! :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

♫ ♪ Later On ♫

♪ ♫ we'll conspire... ♪ ♫

or in the case of at least one of my kids, we'll perspire.

That child, which shall remain unnamed, told me on Sunday that they (so I don't identify whether it's a he or a she) just figured out what the word was in the song. They'd always wondered, because they didn't think it was perspire, but that made sense since they were by a fire and all. So that had to be it.

We have a cat who is not conspiring or perspiring by the fire, just enjoying it as a source of heat.

This is the first winter we've used the fireplace since it had a noxious smell every other time we'd tried to turn it on. This fall, we opened all the windows and ran it for about 10-12 hours to burn off all the smell, which had something to do with the seal and I don't know what else. It worked.

So now the cat is no longer having to use the heater vents as a way to keep warm.

He seems to be totally okay with that.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2010 Christmas Tour Of Homes

This year we put up the wrong tree.

See, we have a pre-lit tree that weighs as much as an elephant. We bought it around eight years ago. We haven't used it in at least four.

When we got to Michigan, we purchased the most beautiful artificial tree. It's the same height and fullness as the heavy monster. And no, we don't do real. I'm allergic.

Hubby thought for some reason that I wanted the pre-lit tree this year. I think he forgot about the other one. I'm not sure why. I think the packing tape that hadn't been touched should have indicated that the elephant hadn't been opened for many years, but by the time he'd gotten it to the second floor, it was the one getting put up this year.

On top of that I planned to put the colored lights on and already had them out. So you know what I did?

I mixed them! White pre-lit and multi-colored LED lights all on the same tree!

It makes for lots of lights, which we all love!

Here's the view coming down the stairs from Chatty's room.

And an early morning dark view with snow falling outside.

Here's a small mosaic of some ornaments. I did an ornament post talking about some of our special ones here.

This cross-stitch stays out year-round. I stitched it on navy fabric so it would stand out. I did it before kids in the early '90s.

This is on the top of our game cabinet. I added the garland of berries to the leaf garland from the fall.

I've had this little doo-dad since Hubby and I first got married. The Santa goes to the top of the wire and jiggles down. I took the picture fast, but he got halfway down in the second picture.

My greatest treasure from this year is my new Nativity. My maternal grandma passed away in May. She and my grandpa travelled to the Holy Lands in the summer of 1976. They purchased one of these Nativities for my mom, my aunt, and themselves. Since I am the oldest grandchild, my aunt and my mom decided that I should have the first choice as to whether or not I wanted it. I can't tell you the amazement I felt at that moment, and the pleasure I feel owning this treasure. I put it up the first week of November as soon as Hubby and Buddy brought it back from Arkansas.

Those are ornament ball trees on the side, but I haven't quite gotten the hang of them like my mom yet. As soon as I get them figured out where they look a little better, I'll do a separate post on them.

I'm linking up to the Christmas Tour Of Homes at The Nester's and also at Kelly's Korner.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

There aren't too many people who can really sing this and it not be scandalous!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Jolanthe at No Ordinary Moments is hosting a linky party for us to share our favorite ornaments.

Unfortunately it's impossible to share my entire tree full of ornaments with you and the story behind each one. That's literally what it would take! There are only a handful of ornaments on our tree that don't have a special story or some significance behind them, so I chose to share a few older ornaments, picked on a whim, and the new ornaments for each family member from this year.

This little painted Santa on a glass ball is small. It might be the diameter of a nickel. I picked it up in the late '80s in a little shop in Hermann, Missouri.

This ornament was a gift before kids (I think from my cousin). We had cats that were like our kids at the time. I giggle every time I hang this ornament. Down low, of course.

This ornament was actually not originally an ornament, but you may have figured that out. Both of the boys made these turkeys at Thanksgiving with a dear man from our church in Illinois who has since passed away. When they made them, they brought them home and stuck them in the tree branches. They've been ornaments ever since, much to the boys' chagrin!

Hubby and I love National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. We don't let our kids watch it so whenever we have it on, Caboose says, "They're watching Cussy Christmas," because we've told them one of the reasons they can't watch it is for the language. So when this ornament that Hubby and I got last year came out of the box this year, Caboose and Buddy both said, "It's the Cussy Christmas ornament." The boys like to listen to the three (non-cussing) sayings, all courtesy of Cousin Eddie.

Sparky's new ornament this year, because she loves frogs.

Hubby's new ornament for the year, since he is retired from the U.S. Army.

Our new ornament for the year together, since we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this year.

Buddy's new ornament for the year. It reminds him of the squirrels that always got on our feeders in Virginia along with the birds. Plus he loves cardinals.

Chatty, our chocolate fiend's new ornament. You can also see the garland I made with the felt circles. Our tree is so big I definitely need a few, so I'm working on more circles.

Caboose's new ornament. He loves stuffed animals, stuffed birds, and this one has a 'squeeze me' feature and he chirps.

Always one of my favorites and the real reason for the season. It's only a couple of years old but it always has a prominent place in front.

Thanks for dropping by and cherishing some of our memories with me! Be sure to visit No Ordinary Moments to link up your favorite ornaments or visit some other bloggers.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's Official

We can't move.

There is too much painting happening around here!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Window Mistreatments That Aren't For Your Window

I originally showed you my doorway covering in this post when it looked like this.

We have nine foot ceilings, so I purchased 54" wide fabric at JoAnn's in the clearance area. It's tone-on-tone in a neutral beige-ish color. I picked it before I picked our wall color, and the walls are not painted in these first pictures.

I bought 6 yards and cut the piece in half so I had two 3 yard pieces. I folded the top under twice and used the clip drapery hooks. I left the edges unfinished and tried to live with it for a while.

I couldn't do it. If I'd been the Nester I would have hot-glued my fringe on the edge, but it was easier and faster for me to just sew it down the sides. I had the fringe in my stash already. I'd purchased it on clearance over the summer and thought I might use it to make tassels or something. I purchased everything JoAnn's had since it was regular $15 a yard marked down to $3. I had enough to do both sides and still had some left.

Now we can close school off after we're done for the day, and we can also shut it out from the rest of the world when we have company.

Window treatments don't have to be for windows!
Designed by Blogs by Sneaky Momma