Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Blessings and Merry Christmas!
Last night we made and decorated sugar cookies using America's Test Kitchen's recipe. It was very yummy but also very tedious! But was worth it! You know it's good when it calls for 2 sticks of butter. We doubled the recipe and ended up with enough to give some away and some to enjoy for ourselves. Chilling the dough is definitely a huge help when making sugar cookies. As far as the other secrets..they definitely helped though I did not go to the added expense of buying parchment paper. I had pretty good results with rolling the dough out on wax paper and then transferring the cut out cookies directly to baking sheets as long as the dough was nice and cool. It would have been less mess with parchment paper, but my awesome husband helped me do all the dishes! :-)

Today I'm hoping to have a chance to work on the stockings I'm making for the kids!!
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Be Inspired

- Meredeth's creativity always inspires..what a beautiful party!

- A reminder to get started planning for and making food gifts for Christmas!

- A neat snowflake craft (best for older kids..borax is toxic!)

- Handmade holiday master list!

- More handmade fun!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Today we've been busy - we delivered taco soup (so good and so easy!) to a friend who had a baby recently and then enjoyed a fun playdate with some other friends.

We've accomplished a few odd jobs as well...
cleaning the tea kettle, sanitizing cutting boards and the dish drainer. Isn't it amazing how those little things tend to never get accomplished? After spending what seemed like forever cleaning out my yucky fridge recently, I vowed to concentrate harder on housekeeping. I've been inspired reading Home Comforts : The Art and Science of Keeping Houselately. It's just one of those books I love. It has so many handy tips on everything you might need to know about keeping house but it is also encourages you to make your house a home and to love doing it.
On to the next tasks of our day...most importantly playing with baby, making yummy fajitas for dinner, and giving a piano lesson!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Squirt Bottle Fun

Need an easy entertainment option for a bored toddler?

Grab a squirt bottle, fill it, and turn them loose on the yard! It works for me!
Luke can spend over half an hour just wandering the yard squirting things. It's great fun for him and gives me a chance to work on something or just sit and read a book for a little while!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fall Party

We had a wonderful time hosting a fall party for our adult sunday school class recently. Families were invited to bring children along for a fun fall event! We were hoping for good weather and God helped out with a perfectly beautiful and sunny afternoon! One of the few we had all October! I'll share more about where I got my ideas from later, but here are some pics to start with!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fall Camping

Well between an almost 8 month old baby and a 2.5 year old toddler (who's desperately trying to give up his naps!) I'm finding it hard to find the time to blog lately! Add the fact that this Mom is ready to head to bed by 9:00 most nights and it becomes almost impossible!!

But anyway - I stole a few moments away and thought I'd share some pictures of our recent camping trip! Most of the weekend was freezing cold! We were sure happy to be able to borrow a pop up camper from our inlaws! We were toasty warm at night with that thing! My favorite part of the weekend was spending time with friends and family and also hitting the local antique shop with the gals!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Harvest Party

I'm planning on fall party for my church group! I am so excited to be hosting...
I'm finding inspiration from Monica's lovely Harvest Parties and a little from Martha herself.

Pictures to come later!

Friday, October 16, 2009


Are we crazy?
We're leaving for a camping trip today....
the only reason I can say that we aren't crazy, is that we are borrowing a pop up camper. That should get us through the forecasted snow right?!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Glimpse of an Artist

My two year old has outdone me artistically. I didn't realize it would happen quiet so soon. I thought his latest drawing was absolutely amazing. He is obsessed with cranes (boom arms as he calls them with technical precision) so that is what he loves to draw. I could not believe my eyes when he showed me this "huge boom arm!" He said it is "picking up logs." His best yet!

Sunday, October 4, 2009


This weekend I went out for a girls afternoon with my sister-in-laws, mother-in-law, and grandmother-in-law (known to all as Nina!) We went and watched Julie and Julia. Ok..I'll admit right now I don't know if I have that movie title right. Is it Julie and Julia or is it Julia and Julie? I am just not the kind of person who stays up to date with current movies! For the most part we enjoyed the movie though they could have left out a few tasteless lines and it would have been most excellent. But anyways the story is neat and relates to if you like blogging and also cooking you may like it!

At any rate it left me inspired to try my hand at something like Beef Bourguignon. It looks heavenly. Perhaps someday I will give it a shot. For now though I have homemade dulce de leche in the oven.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

Home again, Home again - jiggity jig.

We returned home last night from our wonderful vacation! We had a great time visiting family and friends! We drove from Chicago to Coloardo..whoohoo we know we are kinda crazy but it was fun and we all lived through the drive! In fact, I feel quite proud that I (sort of) taught myself to knit while we drove. It was our 3rd trek out there with kids and we've had a great time each year. Here are a few photos that capture a little bit of our time. Now we are going through post vacation syndrome...the kids are getting used to taking regular naps again (in beds instead of the van), not having constant parent and grandparent attention, and all that jazz.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Off to Coloardo!

Hey All -
We are leaving for a week and a half vacation tonight!! I'm in the midst of trying to pack (I am such a procrastinator when it comes to packing!) and managing the kids while Mark is at a work conference this weekend.

We will be spending time with family and friends in Illinois, Nebraska, and Colorado! Can't wait! I"l be back in a couple of weeks!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Be Inspired

- Look at these fun cupcakes! Actually take a look at all of these recipes!

- Time capusles in a tube - cute!

- I've been shredding zucchini in my spare time and looking for good zucchini bread recipes, here's one I want to try, thanks to Carrie.. :)

- Parent Hacks discuss getting toddlers to spit after brushing their teeth - a timely post as Luke has his very first dentist appointment tomorrow! Luke is mostly oblivious and just knows that the dentist is going to clean his teeth. I on the other hand am freaking out! Mainly because I can't believe he is old enough to go to the dentist and also because I am worried about how it all will go...

- Chicagoland super couponer Jill Cataldo has changed my shopping habits and saved me some cash!

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Look who I caught rolling herself under the coffee table?!

Aubrey is getting so big - she is already 6 months old! She is a delightful little girl - always sweet and cheerful. Underneath the rolypoly little girl is the newly acquired garage sale rug! I love how it looks in our living room and I love that I was able to get it significantly cheaper than I would have new! It's huge and makes our new living room look so much more pulled together. A new bigger rug was on our list of things to purchase so our neighbor's garage sale definitely saved us some cash!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Not much time to post here - we're headed out to Grandpa's farm this afternoon and still have much packing to do!

We'll be spending some time with family and seeing a cousin get married tomorrow!
In between packing we're hitting our neighbor's garage sale..thinking about purchasing a big rug...hmmm.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Homemade Camp Pancake Mix

When we go camping I like to make up a big batch of this pancake mix and take it along. It's great because it uses dry milk so all you need to add at the campsite is water! I can't recall where I found this recipe but thank you to whomever shared it!

8 cups flour
1.5 cups dry milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt

2 tbsp baking powder

Mix and store. Mix 1 cup of dry mix with about
1/2 cup water & cook. (serves about 8)

Monday, August 17, 2009

A MiniVan Family

Welp...we did it! Yep...I am now a mini van driving mama. Whoah!
I think it bothered my husband more than me. Though we frowned at having to spend money on a new (to us!) vehicle, we are looking at it as an investment in our family! And that, I think is a worthy cause.

This past weekend we used it to go camping for the first time and it was so great to easily pack all the kids things and have plenty of room for extra things as well instead of just the necessities. So here's to our new mini van and praying it will last us a long time and be a blessing for our family!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Our Favorite Things

In my humble opinion, a requirement for a good children's book means that both kids and parents enjoy the book! There is so much fluff out there that I'd rather spend my time and my little one's time on the really good books and ignore the fluff!

One of the great ones we've been enjoying lately is If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.
If you haven't enjoyed this one yet, it is definitely worth checking out from your library! We have a well loved copy at home!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Desperation Brownie

Several months back I read about these brownies in a mug in the Chicago Tribune. I thought it would be fun to try them, but never got around to it. Well last night I had a taste for chocolate but didn't feel like putting any real effort into baking, then I remembered the recipe and was happy to find it online!

Let me tell you this is dangerous - to be able to make yourself an individual brownie with staple ingredients in under 5 minutes?! I wonder how many you'd have to eat to gain 5 pounds?! I'm renaming them desperation brownies because I feel it is a more fitting name.

4 tablespoons flour

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa

Dash of salt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons water

¼ teaspoon vanilla

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large coffee mug. Add liquid ingredients and mix well.
Microwave on high approximately 1 min. Middle should not quite set up. Beware I think I overcooked mine a tiny bit at 1 min. Still tasty though!

This could be a fun baking activity for elementary age kids to master on their own!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chicago Family Time

For Mark's birthday we gave him a homemade certificate for a Wendella boat tour of Chicago! He had the option of taking the kids or having a babysitter...from the pic you can tell he chose to bring them with!

We all had a great time. Little construction enthusiasts will love the views they get of the big city under construction. You can see a lot of that from the river!
Packing a lunch saved some cash and prevented toddler crankiness as well!

As an aside...the cute baby sling Aubrey is riding in was made by my cousin!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Be Inspired

- Could Amy please come clean out my fridge?! Really smart tips for cleaning the fridge!

- I'm on a homemade kick lately - maybe homemade chocolate syrup should be next on my list?

- Warm weather splashing for baby in the high chair - very creative!

- I love this series - yes, you can make a reversible tote bag!

- A good take on kids and chores.

- Ok...I'm getting the hint, it's high time to hang up my line - 5 reasons to line dry your laundry.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Go Read This

This fabulous post by Randy Alcorn really speaks to me. I hope it inspires you as much as it did me!

Am I being a good example in being Biblically literate for the next generation? Do I know my Bible and make it a priority to spend time daily in God's word?

How can I share what I don't know?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Campin' at the Dunes

Last week we went camping at the dunes in Michigan! We had a great time despite the crazy rain storm that took place overnight. You know it's bad when you feel that your tent has actually turned into a waterbed! No joke - we were sleeping on almost an inch and a half of standing water in the morning! Water beds are overrated.
I can't believe I'm writing this, but thank goodness my husband likes expensive good quality tents from here.... after all they did keep us dry.

Note the dunes, behind the 2 beach bums.

Beautiful boy on the beach.


The 2 kid campers, note the mud everywhere.

You can not camp without marshmallows.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Simple Joys

Lately we've been enjoying the little (and easy) things that children love!

Things like bubbles, sidewalk chalk, coloring, play dough and lots of books and time learning about numbers, shapes, and letters! It's so much fun for us all when we have more time to play with little preparation.

Our days have actually needed to become a little more structured lately to avoid meltdowns. We're switching rooms and activities more frequently. We have outside time and "school time." We go upstairs and downstairs. We do "work time" where we do chores... we have potty time and movie time too!

I hope you've been remembering to take time for these little joyful moments too!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Be Inspired

- Cute chalkboard paint/picnic basket project!

- Amy took her kids to the fire station for a fun summer activity.

- What a great summer list!

- I have to say these butterfly tin punches beat out any of my old 4-H tin projects!

- The Simple Mom made a cloth diapering resource page - we do it, so can you!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


My sister-in-law is babysitting these cute little hedgehogs! They are actually pretty friendly! Luke loves to watch them, but does not like them to get too close to him. Who can blame him?! They are awfully prickly.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Diaper Tip

Have you ever put a clean diaper on your little one, only to have one of the tabs pull off the diaper? Don't despair and throw that diaper out just yet. Just put on an extra diaper right on top of the first diaper. You'll be able to use both diapers this way!
It works for me!

Friday, May 15, 2009

What's for Dinner...Take Two

Last Friday night I planned on making this yummy looking pizza dough in my bread machine. It was an attempt to use my time more productively and still enjoy our Friday night pizza.

What actually happened was - I forgot to attach the insert in the machine that actually moves the the machine made all the noises to indicate it was working, but in fact it was doing absolutely nothing! I realized this way too late but started it up anyways and just took the dough out before it was done. It turned out decently enough, but this week I aim to try it again with all the parts of the machine inserted! Wish me luck.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gift idea for a budding artist

If you're looking for a fun gift idea for a young toddler an Aquadoodle Paint & Color Mat makes toddlers (and Mom!) happy! It is a great mess free activity!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Memory Verses

I'm so proud of my little guy, Luke. He is 26.5 months and has 2 Bible verses down and is working on memorizing his third!

I forget where I read it, but I recently stumbled across someone talking about how most parents' expectations for their young children are set too low. I wholeheartedly agree. My little guy constantly amazes me with what he can learn so easily at this young age. I'm sure you probably feel the same about your children as well. So I'm trying to take advantage of this tender age and work on memory verses. Since I didn't memorize a lot of verses as a child, I'm learning them as I teach them!

Here's what we have so far:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord... Ephesians 6:1
In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth. Genesis 1:1

And we're working on:
Let the little children come to me... Mark 10:14

It melts my heart to him them rattle them off!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

When your apples go soft, try making some cinnamon apple muffins! Yum!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Currently Reading

My small group from church is reading this one together. Has anyone else read Shepherding a Child's Heart?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Macaroni Fun

Leftover elbow macaroni makes for a fun activity!

Cookie sheets help contain the mess though close parental supervision is recommended.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Be Inspired

- I love these quiet time bins! What a great idea!

- Ways to thrive in the kitchen with your kids.

- Egg carton flowers are too cute!

- An interesting look at the frugal home.

- A question of priorities - a must read!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Brown Paper Packages

Brown wrapping paper provides a cheap wrapping alternative, plus extra coloring time for little ones!

I love that it helps a toddler get involved in the giving as well! For the tiniest ones they can have their hand prints or foot prints traced on by a parent or older sibling as well!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Welcome Home Aubrey

We were proud to welcome a little girl, Aubrey Grace into our family on March 3rd at 4:14 a.m.! She was just about two weeks early. I was expecting her to come a little early so it was only a little surprising!
She was a lovely 8 lb. 2 oz. and made for an easy delivery. She tried to make things a little exciting by having some breathing problems develop on the day she was supposed to go home and had to stay an extra two days in the NICU. Thankfully she got better on her own and we are all home and doing well!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

She's cookin' up a storm..

If you happen to be pregnant and need a little inspiration for stocking your freezer before the birth of the baby, check out Crystal's plan for her freezer! Can I just stay at her house after the baby's born?!

As for me, I'm just beginning to think about stocking the freezer now. The question long do I have to get it stocked...a day, a week, 3 weeks?! Who knows?

Here's my current thought:
- Homemade chicken stock in the freezer for soup
- Big batch of chilli for the freezer
- Homemade waffle batter frozen plus some pre-made frozen waffles
- Frozen Pizza dough
- Frozen banana bread

Friday, February 20, 2009

Of course I've been trying to eat healthier while pregnant...though lately diet coke and chocolate have found a way of sneaking in!

The other day Luke helped me make these yummy muffins that have both a veggie and fruit hiding in them!

It had been a little while since Luke has assisted with any cooking projects thanks to our move and business.

Here's what he "helped" with.
- Stirring
- Scooping the dough (and eating some of it!)
- Cleaning up

I've stashed away an empty spice bottle in the kitchen for Luke to have when Mom is cooking so he can pretend to pour while I'm measuring ingredients!
Thanks again to Carrie for pointing me to the recipe!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Be Inspired

- An indoor treasure hunt sounds like fun to me!

- These Valentine's would be so cute for next year - made with your little one's thumbprints!

- Print out some paper dolls for your little girl!

- Some encouragement about getting organized before baby #2 arrives!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I'm excited to say we are officially moved into our new home! We ended up having a beautiful day this past Saturday to move and it all went so smoothly thanks to our family and friends!

Meanwhile I'm still trying to figure out which light switch controls what and where everything goes! When I find the camera I'll post a picture! :-)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Plumb Tired Out...

Well friends, I'm just plumb tired out tonight. I'm sitting here in a daze, checking my email after a few days of ignoring my inbox and felt like updating you. We closed on our new house on Thurs. and have been working in it since then, getting things ready to move in!

We couldn't be happier and can't wait to be settled into the new place. I might pop in a few times over the next week or two but I'll probably be pretty absent due to all this, plus being 7.5 months pregnant!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Be Inspired

- An adorable play-dough gift idea (Thanks Mommy Secrets for pointing me to this!)

- A neat Valentine's treat with leftover candy canes!

- Love love love this indoor snow day!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Delivering Meals

Today we are delivering meals for two friends who recently had babies!

On the menu is:
Crockpot Sloppy Joes
Scalloped Potatoes
Carrot Sticks
The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies (in my humble opinion!)

Luke and I happily spent part of the morning baking these cookies...yum, they are so good!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Double Strollers - Yes or No?

Crystal at Mom of Littles is pondering double strollers today and asking for input. This has been on my mind lately as well....

I don't plan on making any purchases before the baby is born. I think I'll wait until warmer weather arrives and see if I have the desire for one then. I'm thinking baby in a carrier and toddler on foot or in a stroller will work for awhile? Am I being overly ambitious here?! If I found a great deal on Craig's list or ebay I might change my mind but so far I don't see one calling my name.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Charades for Kids and Adults

This past weekend I had the chance to take a mini vacation with a group of families from church. We had a great time relaxing at the Galena Farmhouse!

One of the fun games we played was called Ambassadors. This is a great charades type of game perfect for adults and kids to play together!

To play:
- Form two teams and select one person who will not play, to lead the game.

- The leader needs to make a list of about 10 words that the teams will act out in the style of charades. The leader can give the words a theme. For example all the words we acted out had to do with our trip to Galena.

- Each team goes to an adjacent room, the leader sits in the middle of the two teams with the list of words they have created.

- The leader yells "Go" and one ambassador from each team runs to the leader. The leader will whisper the word they must act out to their team to them.

- Each ambassador runs back to their team and attempts to act out the word using charades. Remember no speaking or writing!

- If the ambassador tries but can't get his team to guess the word, the ambassador whispers the word to another teammate who tries again, etc. The original ambassador can not speak but can continue to help act out the word.

- When the team guesses the word, a new member races back to the leader to get the next word on the list.

- The team who gets through the list of words the fastest wins!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Favorite Kid's Bible

Do you have a copy of The Big Picture Story Bible?

If you don't, let me just tell you that, so far, it is my absolute favorite kid's Bible. This Bible doesn't contain fluff, yet it captivates a toddler with pictures and story. It's also great because it doesn't just tell bits and pieces of the Bible. It tries to capture the "big picture" of the Bible and I think it does a great job!

We read between 1-3 of the chapters after breakfast each day as part of our morning routine. Our current favorite is the story of creation! I love being able to see Luke, 23 months, start to learn the stories. He often asks to read it and doesn't want to stop! He also requests certain stories and is starting to memorize them as well. He often knows what is coming on the next page before I have turned to it. It's a great way to start the day! I definitely recommend this Bible and building a time of Bible reading into your morning routine with little ones!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Notebook Experiment

I love Amy's Notebook experiments and recently decided to try one out for myself!

Experiment: Can I create a deep dish pizza like Amy did?! If you live in Chicago land, shouldn't you be able to make a deep dish pizza? I decided to see and tried out Amy's deep dish pizza experiment originally inspired by Chocolate on My Cranium.

Results: Let me tell you, if you are a fan of Pizza Hut Pizza, you will like this pizza dough recipe! I think the butter in the pan is the secret ingredient! It was also super easy to throw together, definitely a plus for me!

Conclusion: I still usually stick to my no rise pizza dough recipe, but this new recipe will definitely be thrown into the mix on occasion! It's great for a change and makes a nice big pizza!

Be Inspired

- Time capsules would be a fun family activity.

- This cereal box puppet theater is super cute!

- I'll have to remember this coloring book.

- I love these New Year's interviews!

- Simple Mom's take on classic toys that are actually worth the money.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Look What I Got!

One of my sisters got me this fun book for Christmas! I can't wait to try out a few of the fun filled activities! The nice thing about this book is that is has activities for ages 12 months to 10 years. We should be able to get a lot of use out of this. I'll be sure to let you know what we try!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a great finish to 2008 and a wonderful start to 2009!

We brought in the New Year with a fun family night full of Boggle, Guitar Hero, and Apples to Apples!

Boggle is a great new game we have that is fun because it only requires two people! It's a great game for couples (mental note - good wedding gift!) I'd never tried Guitar Hero before but after my brother-in-law convinced me to try it, thought it was great fun. And then of course Apples to Apples is a great and hilarious game for a crowd!