New Year’s Eve Sleepover

My sweet girl wanted to ring in the new year with her friends so we decided to make it a sleepover. This was a last minute decision, but it turned out successfully.

She and I love to entertain and go all out for parties: birthdays, the Super Bowl, Valentine’s, Flag Day. Any reason, really, to have people over and decorate.

We attended a company luncheon at my husband’s office so we were running short on time. We stopped at Hobby Lobby, decided on a color scheme and bought just a few items: curling ribbon, plates, napkins, and two sheets of matching glitter paper.

If money were no object, I could easily go overboard for every function. Thank the Holy Spirit for keeping me in check!

My sweet girl and my hubby (her sweet daddy) helped her decorate the table and the little tree in our dining room.  I’m so glad he willingly helps with a joyful heart whenever I ask.  I need to work on that trait.  (My sweet boy was waiting for dad to take him to his first New Year’s Eve party at a friend’s house.  We have spent almost every New Year’s Eve together as a family since they were born.)

Don’t you like how my decorations match our ribbon and plates?!  I did that on purpose.  I’ve really been working on this “use what you have” decorating this Christmas since finances have been extremely limited.  I was excited to remember I had these light blue and silver ornaments.  And those chargers were a great deal at Michael’s on December 1st. They were 99 cents each! I’ve wanted chargers for years now.

On the way home, I decided to surprise my sweet girl and let her make cupcakes.  We love cupcakes and they are the perfect, easy “cake” to have at a party.  We found blue food coloring and pearlescent silver candies among our cake decorating supplies.  I made these cake toppers with my stamping supplies.  I thought the stamp reading “the best is yet to be” was perfect for friends ringing in the new year.

The last item I was determined to make was a big 2013 with the glitter paper.  After searching for number templates online, figuring out how to create and print a mirror image in Word, tracing, cutting and taping–two hours later–success!  I took several photos, but this one with natural light from this morning is my favorite.  (Plus, you can’t see the tape as easily.)

The girls had fun…ate lots of sugar, talked, laughed, watched movies, stayed up late, woke up early, got all decked out in their blinged-out jeans and went shopping.  So far…a great start to the new year!

Thank you, God, for the creative gifts you’ve given me that allow me to save my husband’s hard-earned money and create an event others enjoy.

Here’s to you in 2013!  Wishing you many blessings!!

Mel

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January 1, 2013 · 10:54 am

Encouraging My Teenagers

“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another….”  1 Thess. 5:11

The Holy Spirit prompted me to encourage my teenagers today.  I was in the midst of carrying laundry when He gave me the idea to write them notes and place them on their pillows.  My tendency is to “wait for free time” to do things like this, but then I forget and weeks later it hits me–oh yeah, I was gonna do _____ (fill in the blank).

So I threw the load in the washer, grabbed a notepad I use for my grocery list, and sat down at my dining room table.  As I got started I thought, surely there are other moms like me who mean well, but get caught up in life and forget their kids need encouragement, too.  I know this to be true because my best friend and I talk about this often, especially as we watch our teenagers grow toward adulthood.

Encouraging others is not hard for me.  I can almost immediately see something to encourage in others; it’s one of my spiritual gifts from the Lord.  I have to admit, however, it has been more challenging since my kids reached their teenage years.  The busyness of life gets in the way and, sometimes, so do the attitudes.  And I’m not just referring to theirs.

This got me thinking about why we encourage one another.  Do we only focus on actions?  Do we focus on appearance?  Or do we focus on character, gifts, talents, etc.?  It’s easy to encourage actions and appearance; we can see that more readily.  But what message are we sending our teens when we only encourage what they do or how they look?

We make it hard for them to not become focused on performance and looks to earn approval.  We forget how much more they need to be encouraged for their character and correct heart attitudes.  That was the very idea the Lord gave me:  to encourage their character and attitude.  They certainly hear enough from me about their bad attitude.  Shouldn’t I spend more time praising their good attitudes?

For example, my son has been getting up at 5:45 every morning for soccer since the second week of school.  At first, he was running with the cross country team before soccer practice.  Then he started a performance course in October.   Including all this, is his first class of the day.  Can you guess what it is?  That’s right, it’s soccer.  So, he spends 2-3 hours, five days a week, working out and practicing.  He also has been playing in a recreational soccer league since September.  Apart from the very occasional, “Man, I’m tired,” he never complains.  (It probably also helps that he has been getting leaner and building muscle like crazy, which he often likes to point out.)

I have been so proud of him lately, but I also realized it’s not really in his character to complain.  Philippians 2:14 tells us to do all things without grumbling or complaining.  He has been an example of this as he has adjusted to so many new things this school year:  going from homeschool to public high school, playing soccer for fun to playing soccer for his school and his future (can you say scholarship?), going from no homework to homework almost every night.

Don’t get me wrong; he still has his moments of complaining about doing his chores or cleaning his room like most teenagers.  But he usually does it with humor and eventually gets the work done.  Humor, by the way, goes a long way toward urging our teens to do anything far more than nagging or yelling.  The same is true of our husbands, but that’s a different post.

Hebrews 3:13 tells us, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”  Remember a few paragraphs above when I wondered why we encourage one another?  Hebrews gives us the answer.  If we don’t encourage or inspire our children every day, they may become hardened or stubborn by the deception of sin.  We make it easier for them to become entangled in sin when we don’t encourage them.  Whoa!  That’s pretty heavy.  May it never be true of me.

Be encouraged that each day His mercies are new and you can begin again.

Blessings,

Mel

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How to Make Butter

A friend of mine, who is a crazy ingredient label-reader like me, recently told me she made butter.  I was immediately intrigued by this because I’ve been using real butter almost everyday for several years now. 

I used to only use it for baking (there really is no substitute).  But when I began learning more about what is in our so-called “healthy” margarine, I switched my family to real, unsalted butter completely.  I used a vegan margarine a few times that was pretty healthy, but now I only purchase butter. 

I usually keep one stick in a covered container so it’s soft for toast, etc.  It will not mold as long as you keep it at the same temperature.  Do not go between fridge and room temperature or it will mold.  It will also go bad if you don’t use it often enough.

I usually have one or two pounds of butter on hand.  So we go through it too fast to waste any.  My mother-in-law, who I truly adore, had some go bad and it smelled like strong blue cheese.  Don’t get me wrong; I like blue cheese.  Just not blue-cheese smelling butter.

This morning, I was being a bad girl playing hooky from church.  Tsk, tsk, tsk…(head shaking).  So, I thought I’d do something domestic.  My hubby got it started for me, but I finished it.

Below are the after photos.  I didn’t want to stop too long to take pictures since this was my first time.  I was unsure what would happen.  I will, however, make some more butter soon and be sure to take photos of each step.

What you will need:
•Any amount of heavy whipping cream (I use organic, but you don’t have to.)
•A blender bottle (remove the metal ball) or jar with a lid
•Sea Salt (this is optional)

Pour the cream into your bottle or jar.  Be sure the lid is on tight so there is no leaking. 

Start shaking and keep shaking.  Then shake some more.  Shake it to the left. Shake it to the right.  Come on, baby, you know what I like.…  I’m sorry, I got carried away.

Your arms will get a workout.  This might be how the Shake Weight came about. 

I checked it a few times to see how it was coming along.  It will turn into whipped cream first.  Keep shaking. 

Then it starts to look curdled.  It won’t be long now.  Keep shaking.

All of a sudden, you’ll feel and hear a difference.  Open it up.  You should see the solid part (butter) and the white liquid (buttermilk) separated. 

Pour off the buttermilk into a container.  You can save this for making pancakes or biscuits or cornbread…. 

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Use a spoon or spatula to sqeeze out as much of the remaining buttermilk as you can.  I continually worked at kneading the butter and pouring off the liquid.  This will help it last longer, though that’s just a few days or a week in our house.

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At this point, you can mix in some sea salt if you so desire.  Season it to taste, but err on the side of less is more.  If you plan on using it for baking, do not add salt.  This will make your baked goods too salty. 

Put your butter in a container with a lid.  If you want it to stay soft, store it in your pantry or cabinet. 

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Unless you have one of those cool butter dishes where you put your butter in the lid then store it in a crock filled with water.  Those things are neat.  And very French.  I like French things.

Enjoy your fresh made butter and impress your family and friends!

Note:  You can visit this blog, Food Renegade, to learn how to make butter using a blender or food processor.  I just found this blog today and already enjoy its content.  Plus, I love the name.

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{365} Chapters

In 2011, WordPress challenged bloggers to post daily or weekly. I started out thinking I could do it daily, but life got in the way and I had to switch to posting weekly. That eventually turned into once-a-week and then once in a while and then not at all.

This year, the challenge, Project 365, is to pick a topic and blog about it for an entire year.  I was intrigued and excited to have a new year to clean the slate and start over.

One of my resolutions for 2012 is to do more of what I’m passionate about doing.  Reading and writing are two of those passions.  Whether I’m reading a book or magazine or writing a blog post or journal entry, I am committing to being true to who I am and not forsaking my gifts and talents.

I have stacks and shelves of books that I am partly working through or have yet to begin reading.  Most of my books are non-fiction and don’t have me devouring them in one sitting like some of my favorite fiction.  I’ve always thought if I just read one chapter a day, I could finish many of my half-finished books.

Project 365 is the perfect motivator for that endeavor.  So, every day I will post my thoughts on one chapter from a book I’m reading.  I do not intend for these to be in order of any one particular book.  I don’t like to be boxed in that way.  And I’m just too ADD to commit to that.

I hope you enjoy reading about what I will be reading about and maybe you’ll be inspired to read more too.

Blessings,

Mel

P.S. Since there are 366 days in 2012, I will start posting tomorrow on my new blog devoted to this project: {365} Chapters.

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Project: Simplify hosted by SimpleMom

I discovered last week that one of my favorite bloggers is hosting Project: Simplify in order to help us declutter. I started working outside the home about a month ago.  While it’s been quite a transition for me, my family seems to be dealing with it just fine.  Hmm…I’m not sure what to think of that.  Anyway…though I’m getting a late start in this decluttering party, it’s never too late because it’s an on-going task in my home.

My husband and teens have been great at picking up the slack so I can rest when I get home after 6-8 hours on my feet.  (I’m back in retail at one of my favorite stores, Hobby Lobby.)  But there are minor/major projects I have in mind that my sweet hubby can’t really tackle without me, though he might like to, because I’m a bit OCD about him touching my stuff.  He’s tossed out too many things I wanted.

Tsh’s weekly project ideas seem manageable for me and my schedule. This week’s hot spot is kids’ toys and clothes.  My teens don’t have lots of toys like they used to; they have clothes, schoolwork, art & craft projects, instruments and electronics.   They could definitely use help sorting, organizing and donating their stuff.  I plan to get boxes labeled and get my family started so that when I’m at work, they can be “at work” on decluttering.

Get over to Project: Simplify to start from the beginning or you can go to this week’s Hot Spot and jump right in.

Happy Decluttering!

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Filed under Randomness

Snow Week

I have been a bad blogger. I haven’t posted anything in two weeks!

First, we were busy with birthday party activities the last weekend of January for my daughter who turned 13.  She had a sleepover with four other 12-13 year old girls.  That says it all.  No, they were a good group of girls.  Though, I wasn’t happy to be awakened at 4:30 in the morning by their laughing and talking.

Then it was back to the school week with Science and Spanish classes and school at home.  We also had Girl Scouts and went grocery shopping before the ice storm hit.

I prepared this post in the hopes of sharing our snow day that stretched into a week, but my internet service was traveling at a snail’s pace.  It took several minutes to upload a photo and then save my draft.  I gave up and decided to wait til the snow and ice went away.

I was lamenting to my husband how the weather could affect the internet.  That’s when he reminded me everyone was at home like us and probably surfing the web.  This is when I wished everyone would go back to work.  Selfish, I know.

Now I’m back and thought I’d start some pictures. My sweet boy (I’m not supposed to call him that anymore. Shh, don’t tell!) enjoys shoveling snow so that’s the first thing he did Tuesday morning.

He also made a foxhole for himself and then…what a sweet brother!…he built one for his sister.  I’m sure he was imagining lobbing snowballs at her.

My baby girl immediately went to make a snow angel and came inside covered in snow.  She wore several layers so every time she came inside she peeled off another layer.  There was water everywhere most of the day.

They built a miniature snowman on our patio table.  As you can see, several of my spoons and plastic bowls were out in the yard.

We had been iced and snowed in for three days and got more that Friday.  Me and the kids loved it!  The hubby…not so much.

He decided to attempt a trip to the gym since he hadn’t gone all week.  It was snowing hard for an hour or more.  So I feared we might not see him until it  melted.  However, being a native of Indiana, we know how to drive in snow and ice–slow and carefully, he made it home in time for lunch.

So we ventured out to eat and to get some more groceries for Super Bowl Sunday.  A usually 20 minute trip to Walmart took 30-40 minutes in this.

Yes, that is ice.  We seemed to be the rare few who were taking it easy on the roads.  More than a few people were flying by us and a couple ended up in the ditch.  We didn’t feel sorry for them.  Though I did pray they would have wisdom when driving in the snow and that they had no severe injuries.

What’s that round, glowing, white orb in the sky?  Could it be, the sun?!

The sun came out the next day though it was frigidly cold.  It all began melting Sunday, just in time for fans to get to Cowboys Stadium.

I hope you all had a fun week, whether you got to have a few snow days or not.

Blessings,

Mel


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February 10, 2011 · 6:55 pm

Happy Birthday, My Sweet Girl!

My Sweet Girl,

You are 13 today.  Wow!  Only five years from 18…how the time flies.

You’ve grown so much over the last year…

  • you’re almost as tall as me.
  • you steal borrow my clothes now, but your feet are too big to borrow my shoes.
  • you finally got those mean old tonsils and adenoids removed!

  • you help me by making dinner and are great at it…my little foodie!

  • your entrepreneurial side has become evident–you get it honestly.
  • you’ve learned a lot as a Girl Scout and have taken on leadership.

  • you are smart; don’t ever think otherwise.  You are doing great in your schoolwork this year.  Grow that Science brain!
  • you are a great friend who loves at all times.
  • you have wisdom beyond your years.

I look forward to this year…watching you grow and learn and mature.  Every year of your life has been wonderful to be a part of.  I thank God for the blessing of you!

Love and Blessings,

Mom

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