Archive | October, 2010

Our Little Reader

31 Oct

Eli loves his books almost as much as his daddy

The other day I stumbled upon Brandon and Elijah curled up in the comfy chair enjoying a board book.  How precious is this?  We have been reading to Eli since before he was born-okay actually we only read him one story while he was in the womb-it was kind of weird.  I wish I could have captured for you all Elijah yesterday.  We have this huge blue basket of board books.  Eli took each book out until he was surrounded by books.  Then he picked up each one of them individually and looked at them.  He even turned the pages on some of them!  🙂  It was just too cute.  Now if I could only teach him how to put them back in the basket.  (I’ve tried but I think he needs another month?)  Anybody know when Elijah should be able to put things back in a basket?  I’m looking forward to this day! 

Eli sure is blessed with a great Dad!

Priceless

I love watching my Dad around Elijah.  It’s hard to describe exactly how awesome it is!  The other day we were blessed to have my Dad here with us for lunch.  While I was cleaning up Eli somehow found his way in his Papaw’s lap.  🙂  The next thing I knew I found them like this. 

For more encouragement on reading to your children check out: The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.  No doubt it will inspire you to carve out more time to read to your children no matter how old they are.  (You should be able to find this book at your local library).  Rather than setting aside an hour to read to Elijah every day we read a couple of books every couple of hours.  This is a great break for me in my busy day and a great way to spend time with my little man.

When did he get so grown up?

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Apple Cranberry Muffins

28 Oct

Apple Cranberry Muffins-a wonderful fall treat!

For the last couple of weeks I have been watching for the cranberries to appear and then finally last week I found them on sale at Aldi.  I’m waiting till they hit .99 to buy a couple more bags for the freezer!  One of my favorite things to do with them is to make bread of muffins.  The following is my favorite muffin recipe.  They are pretty sweet-I would call them a desert muffin more so than a healthy muffin.  🙂  I sent some home to my family and they gobbled them up like crazy!  The following recipe makes 18 muffins.

  • 3 c. flour-you can use white flour, wheat flour or combination-I used whole wheat pastry.
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. brown sugar or Sucanat-I think this could be decreased and they would still be great!
  • 1/2 c. oil
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. apples diced-I like Gala but any will do great.
  • 1 1/2 c. cranberries-whole
  • 1 c. walnuts chopped
  • Mix all of the ingredients together and add in the apples, cranberries, and walnuts last.  Mix until everything is just combined-DO NOT OVERMIX or your muffins will be tough.  Bake at 350 in greased muffin tins or paper lined tins for 20-25 minutes.  Delicious! 

Grins and Giggles: A Weekend with Rebekah (my baby sister)

26 Oct

Bekah loved pushing Elijah on our many outings this past week

Tonight there is this strange quietness in my house because my sweet sister Bekah has went home.  We were blessed to have her visit with us for a long extended weekend and it was so much fun!  (We are hoping my other sister might be able to come visit sometime this fall too!)  I don’t know the last time I watched so many kiddie/girlie movies and got to enjoy a little girl enjoying life close up.  I don’t think I will ever forget Rebekah roller skating in her skirt in our cul-de-sac.  It was priceless.  To me Rebekah just epitomizes what a little nine year old girl should be like. 

Eli bundled up ready for another walk with Bekah. I think she enjoyed the "jogging" part of the stroller a lot more than we did. Eli had this look on his face that said it all.

On Friday night we took Bekah on a trek to the library and she loved it.  Since she lives a good 30 min+ from the library she said it  was really neat to be able to walk to the library.  We enjoyed perusing the library checking out some books and movies.  On the way back Brandon surprised us by treating us to DQ.  We are always tempted to stop by DQ on the way back from the library but this was our first time to actually do it!  What a fun treat! 

I caught Rebekah reading Elijah a book we checked out from the library-how cute is this?

After our library adventure we headed to Lexington and took a meal to a family from my church.  It was wonderful to see their little miracle baby.  We picked out some fabric @ JoAnns and were amazingly restrained at the store buying only the material to make a baby blanket for a girl in my church.

The finished baby blanket

On Saturday we sewed the blanket and spent a lazy morning at home while Brandon was at Upward.  Then later we went exploring in Midway-went for a walk, listened to an outdoor band, and found ourselves at a playground.  Yesterday Bekah went with us to church and got to experience the Children’s Ministry at Forks first hand.  She was even so sweet as to go to a baby shower with me.  Needless to say we had quite the fun weekend!  It was kind of different for me hanging out with someone all weekend who could talk back in coherent sentences!  I wonder what Elijah is going to be like when he talks all the time??

Start Planning A Weekly Menu

25 Oct

 The Benefits of Menu Planning

Grab a cup of tea and let's start menu planning!

The Benefits of Weekly Menu Plans

For the past couple of years I have been a huge fan of menu planning.   Not only does it complement my somewhat organized nature, but I find that it saves us a bundle in groceries.  By purposefully only buying the ingredients we need I waste less money.  It also helps me to plan more creative leftovers.  I married a sweet man who hates leftovers so it is important that they do not appear too often in our week. J  Menu planning also helps my family to incorporate healthier food items into our menu.  We are less likely to have a weak moment and head out to eat if I already know what is for dinner (or if it is in the Crock-Pot).  I do enjoy cooking for the most part but not when it is five o’clock and I have no idea what is for dinner.   Although Brandon laughed at me the first time he found our menu posted to the refrigerator door last year I know that he secretly enjoys it.  He will look it over when I put it on the fridge and say Yeah we are having _____ this week!  Are you ready to try it yourself?  Grab a cup of something hot and delicious and let’s dive in to menu planning!

1)      I like to start with a piece of paper and write out all of the days of the week.  Then underneath the days I write B, L, D (breakfast, lunch, dinner).  Next I write down any special meals that we will be eating out or having company in our home for.  I also try to note when I might be taking a meal to someone as I usually just double the meal and my family enjoys the same meal that night.  Also I think about what food is in season or what meat will be on sale this week. 

2)      Next I like to tackle breakfasts for the week.  In our home we really do not eat cereal since we find it both expensive and lacking in nutrients.  Our breakfast menu varies a little but usually includes 1 nice home cooked breakfast for Brandon on Thursday mornings which would include some type of meat since Thursday is his only morning off.  I also usually alternate between making muffins or a loaf of specialty bread.  Other breakfast ideas that make our menu include: scrambled eggs, smoothies, yogurt & granola, soaked oatmeal, rice pudding, omelets, French toast, waffles, pancakes, fresh fruit, etc.  We also like to include hot tea every morning.  If you are looking to really simplify your breakfast menu I would recommend having a breakfast food on a particular day each week.  For example Mondays would be smoothies, Tuesdays soaked oatmeal, etc. 

3)      In our home lunches are the boring meals and usually consist of some combination of soup, salad, and sandwiches.  If you enjoy leftovers you could also plan on eating leftovers for lunch which is what I do when Brandon has a ministry lunch.  I like leftovers. We also enjoy a nice Sunday lunch each week which does not include a sandwich. 

4)      For dinners I like to plan them around different protein sources (chicken, beef, pork, beans, fish).  Themes would also work well.  We also include soup once a week.  It is nutritious, economical, and a great way to use up leftovers.  A vegetarian dinner also makes its way into our dinner menu once a week too. 

5)      I like to keep a list of favorite dinners so that as I am planning the menu I can just look down the list and choose one.  If you do not have a list then I would encourage you to look through your cookbooks and write down some of your favorites. 

6)      Think about how time intensive the menus that you are planning are going to be.  Right now since I am in a season of tutoring 6 hours a week for the ACT we are enjoying some Crock-Pot meals on those evenings and saving the more elaborate dinners for the weekend. 

For a great prinatable form to help make menu planning easier check out: http://organizedhome.com/printable/household-notebook/weekly-menu-planner-shopping-list

What are your favorite menu planning tips?

Creative Fall Bread

24 Oct

This past year we have really been trying to eat the food that we buy.  I know this might sound silly but we save so much money by making sure that we eat all of the produce that we buy.  it’s also easier to convince Brandon to eat vegetables! 🙂  We are pretty good about menu planning but sometimes I find myself left with some odd ingredients.  Yesterday I found half a can of pumpkin left over from some pumpkin waffles and half a sweet potato.  What in the world could I do with the two of them?  Make a super yummy fall bread!  Trust me it’s really good.  Here is the recipe if you’d like to try it too. 

Mix together:

  • 4 c. flour either all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 c. sugar-you could probably decrease this if you wanted to
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. each of baking powder, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. ground cloves
  • 1/4 t. ground ginger.

Then Add in:

  • 2 c. total of: sweet potato and/or pumpkin (I was about 1/3 c short so I added 1/3 cup applesauce to make the total amount 2 c)
  • 1 c. oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 c water

Divide dough between 2 greased loaf pans filling about 2/3 of the way full.  Bake at 350 degrees 1 hour-1 hour 10 min or until done.  Let cool for 15 minutes and remove from pans.  This recipe yields 2 loaves but you could easily cut it in half.  I like to make at least 2 loaves of bread at a time.  I either freeze one, give it to a neighbor, or take it to a friend (which I did last night).  Enjoy!  This makes your house smell heavenly!

Fall Pumpkin Chip Muffins

19 Oct

My first attempt at any fall home decor. I think I'm better at baking than decorating! 🙂

Are you in the mood for something festive that just screams FALL?  For the last month or so I’ve been enjoying the beauty of fall.  Crisp walks, falling leaves, having the windows open, candles burning, snuggling up under a blanket, and getting out all of those fall recipes once again.  As far as fall food I love all things pumpkin.  One of my favorite stores Aldi now has canned pumpkin.  Yipee!  So add a can of pumpkin to your grocery list and try these Pumpkin Chip Muffins.  They are amazing.  They taste best when eaten with a friend and savored along with a cup of hot tea.  I was blessed to make some this past weekend with none other than my good friend Sarah Burton who came to visit. 

Pumpkin Chip Muffins

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 c. sugar-any kind is fine
  • 1 (15 or 16oz) can of pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 c. oil (you can replace some of the oil with applesauce if you like)
  • 3 c. Flour-tastes good with whole wheat even! 
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 c. chocolate chips

Beta together eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil.  Then add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Place in greased muffin cups and bake at 400 16-20 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes and remove.  This recipe makes 2 dozen but is easy to cut in half if you only want a dozen.

The Untapped Resource-Your Local Library

18 Oct

My local library is very nice.

When was the last time that you visited the local library?  Has it been days, weeks, months, years, have you ever been?  For me growing up the library was one of my favorite places to visit.  As a little girl it just seemed like any book that I wanted could be found at this magical place called the library.  Today I have learned that our local library might not have every single book that I would like to read, but if it doesn’t they will order it for me for FREE!  That’s right it doesn’t cost a thing!  How cool is that?  Our family has saved tons of money borrowing books instead of buying. Often times I find myself finishing a book and thinking well that was okay but I sure am glad I didn’t pay $15 for it! 

Some libraries even offer online resources or allow you to print copies for free.  When I lived in Louisville you could print 150 pages for free which saved me 15.00 a month!  Many libraries also subscribe to newspapers and various magazines (which you can check out).  While visiting a friend in TN a couple of years ago I was reminded of just how cool the library was when we spent a leisurely Saturday morning there reading magazines and talking (quietly).  Many libraries also have private rooms which can be reserved free of charge or private study rooms.  When Elijah was just a few months old and we didn’t have internet at our house these study rooms were perfect for us.  I would put Elijah in the stroller or front pack and would sit in one of the study rooms watching lectures for my classes. 

As our family continually tries to live a more frugal lifestyle in order that we may give more generously we continually find the library to be one of our favorite places.  I’ve even turned Brandon into a huge fan with all of the free dvds available (just remember to return them on time).  Most libraries offer free activities from infant/preschool story hours to creative classes for adults.  A couple of times a month Elijah and I enjoy Toddler Tales which is so much fun.  I also check out at least 5 books for Eli so I am not reading the same books over and over.  One of our families favorite activities is actually to walk 2 miles to the library and come home with our library bag stuffed full. 

The next time your tax bill comes in the mail take a close look at it.  Whether you ever step foot in the door you pay for the local library so plan a trip to your local library!  What are your favorite things about the library?

Bless Your Husband: Learn Massage Techniques

15 Oct

Great Book!

Would you like to really bless (and surprise) your husband this upcoming weekend?  Plan to give him a massage.  Trust me he will absolutely love it.  🙂  I was introduced to massage therapy following a car accident and fell in love with it.  I decided a while back that I wanted to master the art of massage for the purpose of blessing my husband.  It’s really not that hard at all.  If you have ever had a professional massage make a list of some of the things that they did that you really enjoyed and just copy them.  If you have not then ask a friend who has to tell you all about the experience. 

Here are some tips:

  • A massage can either be given on the floor or on a bed.  (A massage table would work even better but they are still a little pricy for us.)  Place pillows or a folded towel under your husband’s head to support the neck.  Have on hand plenty of towels/sheets so that you can keep your husband covered up or he will get cold.  You might even want to place them in the dryer right before hand so they are nice and toasty.  🙂
  • Start burning one of your favorite candles before you begin the massage. 
  • Have relaxing music playing in the background-nature sounds are great.  I like to use Elijah’s Dex Baby Sound Sleeper.  You could also borrow a cd from the library or visit http://naturesoundsfor.me/ where you can customize your own blend of nature sounds. 
  • Use a thick quality massage lotion-I like cocoa butter.  You could also use massage oil but if you just have lotion (like us) it will work great. 
  • Once you are ready to begin your massage I recommend just starting on the back and then working your way down all of the extremities.  Then have your husband turn over to the other side.  Ask your husband what is preference is as you massage.
  • As you are massaging pray for your husband.  If you can’t think of what to pray for him about you could even keep a list that might include the following: faith, priorities, peace, temptation, affection, work, joy, finances, past, attitude, obedience, relationships, compassion, walk, fatherhood, being a good husband, trials, emotions, future, etc. 
  • For a great resource on becoming more proficient in massage techniques check out Nitya Lacroix’s book Learn Massage in a Weekend.   I picked this book up randomly at my local library and found it to be amazing.  It offers step by step instructions on how to massage and photographs which are very helpful.  I really enjoyed how the book had different sections telling step by step how to massage a particular area of the body rather than just saying massage the legs.  (Note: The woman in the book is wearing only a bathing suit and there are photographs of a man not wearing his shirt.) 

DIY Baby Bassinet Sheet and Mattress Makeover

12 Oct

Elijah only a couple of days old sleeping sweetly.

What can compare to the beauty of watching a newborn baby sleeping?  I remember just watching Elijah sleep when he was little (I still do) even though I should probably have used that time to catch up on sleep myself.  A young friend of mine will be having her baby in the next week or so but when I saw her mattress I thought-oh no we have to fix this! 

It's hard to see but here is a picture of the before mattress. No doubt it had seen better days.

Did you know that bassinet mattresses come in all sorts of sizes?  Unlike crib mattresses which are all the same bassinet mattresses can be any size.  Needless to say it can be quite hard to find a replacement mattress.  (It is also sometimes hard to find sheets that fit.)  I purchased a mattress that was close to the same size as the old one.

Using the old mattress as a template I traced the design onto the new mattress with a marker.

Next the somewhat scary part. Following the lines you made on the mattress cut away the excess but don't throw it away.

Remove the foam from inside the scrap piece. Then take the vinyl part and use it to cover up the side of the mattress. It lined up great for me!

You can either use a hot glue gun or some type of heavy duty glue which is what I used. I applied glue to the front and side sections first. Then I attached this piece to the mattress and then turned the mattress over and glued down the back section.

To make this look even nicer you could make a new cover for the mattress but I thought it was unnecessary.  Bassinett’s really don’t need mattress covers.  Instead I decided to make 2 bassinett sheets. 

How to Sew a Fitted Bassinet Sheet

  1. Measure the length, width, and thickness and write them down.  For this mattress the length was 30.5″ width was 14″ and thickness was 2″. 
  2. I found it helpful to actually draw a small diagram to help me visualize this (maybe it’s because I’m an ACT tutor and draw figures to explain things all the time).  Then you want to add 3″ to each side.  If you add 2″ it will not work so make sure to add 3.  So my measurements ended up being 24X 41.
  3. Cut your fabric the length of your rectangle mine was 24X41.  I used a warm flannel fabric for both sheets and did not worry about the grain lines.

My 24X41 square. Isn't this fabric darling-I hope my friend likes it!

Fold each corner in half with the right sides together. On the raw edge measure from the point 5" and mark it.

Now sew a seam across to the folded edge. Cut off the excess fabric.

Your corners should look something like this. Then finish the raw edges (I used a serger). Next apply 3/8" (or smaller) elastic using a triple zig zag stitch and you are finished!

The finished project! This was very easy to make and fast (even chasing around Eli).

My little helper. I was trying to get him to hold them but that didn't work so well for my active little guy.

Creative Ways to Spend More Time With God

5 Oct

 

“Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.”   Psalm 119:104

  • Set aside some time early in the morning to be alone with God.  I especially enjoy watching the sunrise or being near the window while I drink tea and read from the Word.  The night before make sure that all of your Bible Study supplies are in one place.  I have a Bible Study bag that includes: Study Bible, Pens, Prayer Journal, colored pencils, and a notebook.
  • Copy down a verse and carry it with you throughout the day.  If  you are a student it works great to clip it to your assignment book.  You could also use one side of an index card for the verse and the other side for your to-do list.  Then as you are crossing off items from your to-do list you can remind yourself of the verse.  This is a great way to continually be reminded of Scripture throughout the day.
  • Use the time you exercise!  I enjoy reading my Bible while on an elliptical machine/treadmill, meditating on Scripture, or going through a list of people/situations to pray for. 
  • Pray for people as you are driving or waiting somewhere.
  • Fill your home with Scripture!  I especially like having a Scripture above my kitchen sink-that way I can spend my time thinking about God instead of on how much I hate dishes. 🙂  I also love having one in my bathroom.  I use to joke in college that the cuter my hair looked the more Scripture I had memorized that day.
  • If you aren’t an early morning Bible Study kind of girl find another REGULAR time in your day to spend time with God.  I won’t lie before I had my first baby I remember feeling very unsympathetic to mothers who were in my Bible Study who would say that they just can’t get up early.  After having a newborn I totally understand the exhaustion thing.  (Sorry to all of those mothers I thought bad of.)  Right now it works best in my life to set aside the beginning of Elijah’s nap time as my Quiet Time.  (Whenever I get up early he always seems to wake up!) 
  • If you are a mom place an open Bible on your changing table.  As you go throughout your day read a quick verse as you are changing your small one and intentionally think about that verse for a few minutes as you go throughout your day.  (This idea comes from my former pastor Ryan Fullerton.) 🙂
  • Read Scripture to your children or to the children you babysit.  I would also highly recommend The Jesus Storybook. It is a children’s Bible but I think that every adult should read it as well! 
  • Invest in an audio Bible set.  I used my Christmas money last year to purchase the entire Bible on cd and it was a great investment.  Now I can spend my time cleaning or preparing dinner listening to God’s Word as it speaks to my heart. 

The important thing I think to remember is that God longs for you to spend time with Him.  What are some ways that you spend time with God?