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Showing posts from November, 2011

Warm weather and decorations

It's one of those years when the tree is perpetually crooked and I wonder if it will fall over in the night.  Decorations which normally take the most of one day have dragged on for several.  And to top it all off, it's the 29th of November and it's raining.

But I have a feeling, deep inside me that this is going to be one of the most beautiful seasons we've ever celebrated.  And as proof of that, I was showing Hannah a picture of what little decorations are complete and she said "That doesn't even look like our house.  It looks like a movie"


I've always loved the look of a tree by a fireplace, though I know it's not safe.  We have a real fireplace downstairs, but we don't do much living down there and we would have to have a much smaller tree down there.  But this year, I decided to move our faux fireplace into the living room.  I like the look.  
I'm hopeful that I'll like the rest of the season just as much as I like this scene in …

Stromberg Swedish Rolls

This recipe was given to me by my mother-in-law, who got it from her mother-in-law, who probably had it handed down in her family too far back for me to track.  Stromberg is the my husband's grandmother's maiden name and that's the family we got them from.  We make them for Thanksgiving, but they are good enough for just about any day of the year.  I always make a half batch, because it's three of us, but I think it can be doubled just as easily from this recipe.

Ingredients

2 cakes of yeast dissolved in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water (1 oz of compressed yeast=1 cake= 2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast)
1 pint scaled milk
1 cup sugar
1 cube of butter (1/2 cup) softened
6 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
18 cardamom pods
8 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt


Preparing cardamom pods:  Place 18 pods in aluminum foil, wrap up and place in warming oven (turn it on to preheat to 350, by the time it's preheated, remove the packet).  Remove packet from oven and give it a good whack with a hammer.  …

Bound for Glory by Timothy R. Botts

Have you ever had a Bible that you really really wanted?  Okay, good to know that I'm not the only one.  The one I've always wanted is The Botts Illustrated Bible.  So you can imagine my excitement then when I discovered Bound for Glory by the same Timothy R. Botts that had done such a wonderful job illustrating the Bible.




If you hop over to Amazon you can see some of the amazing work that Botts has done.  He is a calligrapher, but that title reminds me of starchy weddings and this guy is so much more than that.  He doesn't just do amazing things with ink and paper, he has turned calligraphy into it's very own genre of art.  But then maybe it always has been and he's just reviving it one letter at a time.  I'm often reminded of the beautiful manuscripts of handwritten Bibles when I look through this book.

The subject matter is based on African American Spirituals.  The majority of the songs instantly bring up tunes to my mind and I start to hum them as I look …

How to Train Your Dragon crafty fun

From what I read on the internet, there aren't a lot of boy crafts out there.  Well, this one isn't a boy craft either, because I'm a girl and my kid is a girl, but it could be adapted for boys....

Hannah loves How to Train Your Dragon




It was one of the first chapter books we read together and then she loved being able to go see the movie after reading it!




She loves both of them.  Well, she wanted some dragons of her own.  One night she had a huge piece of paper and started drawing them out to make stuffed toys with.  I took some of the drawings, traced them with permanent marker and then traced them onto some muslin.  Hannah then colored them in.  It was a ton of work, and I hadn't even made it to the sewing and cutting and stuffing phase.  They sat for about three months.  She harassed me into getting them back out earlier this month.  They turned out cute.  Then she wanted more.  I got smart and pinned the muslin onto a piece of cardboard and let her have at it with…

Savory addition

I've been thinking about our menu for the open house and want to make sure that there is at least one or two savory options to help highlight the sweetness of the cookies.  I keep thinking about having a big plate of bacon and calling it a day, but then everybody would eat the bacon and there'd be a ton of cookies left over.  So I have to think of something tasty, but not as awesome as bacon. Here are three of our favorite dip recipes that I'm thinking about serving.

Party Dip is something that we discovered while visiting a cute shop in Cedarburg, WI.  They had a great selection of hot sauces and dips and it's also where we got our favorite Mexican cookbook.  It's super easy to make and goes great with pretzels or corn chips or just about anything you want to slather it on to.

Party Dip

Bread & Butter Texas Longhorn Jalapeno Dip Mix
8 oz block of cream cheese

Mix 1/5th of a jar, juice also, with cream cheese until smooth.

We order the dip mix from Original Jua…

Open House

We're having an open house the first Saturday of Advent, which believe it or not is happening pretty quickly.  Last year we served pies, pumpkin, cherry, berry, chocolate, lemon meringue, apple.  This year, we've decided to go with cookies.  Our guests are being invited to bring their favorite holiday cookie.  In preparation, I thought that I would share with you the three cookies that we've picked.

Hannah has chosen Scotch Short Bread.  We have a pan that we normally make them in and she likes the one with the peacock on it.  It is one of Joel's favorite cookies to make as a child, too.

Scotch Short Bread

1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt

Mix ingredients.  Roll out and cut into cookies or press dough into 8x8 pan.  Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit on a non greased cookie sheet for 20-25 minutes.

May be decorated using springler cookie presses.


Joel has decided on Russian Teacakes.  We got this recipe from someone …

Pure Decorative Value

So, I saw a cute wire birdcage at a resale shop the other day and have been thinking about it since then.  Christmas is coming up and I broached the subject with my husband today about getting it and having it in our home as decoration.  His response was less than enthusiastic.
I realize that he likes to visualize things, so I pulled up some photos of ones that I've seen before and thought that would help.  I think it may have hindered, because the word he came out with was "tacky."  To which I asked him to replace with the word whimsical.
As I sit here and drink my coffee, I started thinking about all the decorations in our home and to be honest, I can't think of a single thing in our house that serves the sole purpose of being decorative.  Which is exactly what a big wire birdcage is, pure decoration.  The majority of our decorations are functional or multipurpose.  We  don't even have a coffee table, because let's be honest, who puts coffee on them any mo…

Having cleaned

There is a certain sound that I don't hear very often, but I truly love it.  It is the sound of my daughter playing in her newly cleaned room.  It's a quiet sort of sound, one that could be easily missed.  One of the best parts of it is that she seems to enjoy the sound and feel of it as well.  She never spends as much time in her room as when it's freshly cleaned and rearranged.
The other day, I had to help her with that.  We're getting new windows soon and her bed, as well as our bed was in front of the window, which was not going to work.  Not to mention the fact that you had to follow a path to make it to her bed in one piece.  It's always so frustrating for me to go in there at that point.
I think that is mainly due to the fact that at this point I know regardless of how much time and energy I put into organizing her room, she will have it destroyed in a blink of an eye.  But I did it any way this past week.  I organized all her stuff, put things away.  All t…

Softly and Tenderly by Sara Evans and Rachel Hauck

Softly and Tenderlyis the second book in the Songbird Novels. The main character Jade Benson is experiencing a world that is crumbling in around her on all sides. Her mother is dying of cancer, she and her husband are unable to get pregnant, her attempt to expand a successful business is coming to a messy end, she finds out that the in-laws she thought were pillars of the faith have been living a lie, not to mention that she has discovered that her husband has a child with his ex-fiancé, who just died in a plane accident. Life is pretty crazy for Jade. It’s no wonder that she begins to struggle with panic attacks and wanting to run away from it all.

The book is an adventure in turmoil and God’s grace in the midst of life. There was not huge “AHA!” moment, which has come to be expected in most current fiction. Instead there were lots of small moments that helped move Jade from where she was drowning to in the circumstances of her life, to place where she could see beyond herself …

Waiting for Dawn by Susan May Warren

The Team Hope Series starts with the book Flee The Night.  Waiting for Dawn is a prequel to that book.  This novella was a pleasant read and good introduction to the series, which I had not read before.  As soon as I finished the Waiting for Dawn, I went right out and got Flee the Night.  The main characters, Lacey, Jim and John are in something of a love triangle.  Even though Lacey and John have been dating since their high school days, Lacey and Jim have held a flame for one another the entire time.  In this story, Lacey and John go on a mission to rescue Jim.  It’s a little unrealistic, the idea of a civilian going into a war zone to rescue a green beret, but it works.  The love triangle comes to head with Jim being left in the dark.  Waiting for Dawn is a great introduction to the Team Hope Series and provides information about Lacey and Jim that adds definite depth to Flee the Night.  If you’re a fan of Susan May Warren and haven’t started reading the Team Hope Series, this …

Whiner

Oh man, one of my worst features is that if I hang out with habitual whiners, I too begin to whine!  It's a really bad habit.  I think that it's a form of hypochondria, but with attitudes instead of diseases.  It's a little harder to pick up the happy bits, but the whiny, I feel blue bits are definitely easy to latch on to and think that's the way that I feel.  I don't particularly like this habit, and I don't notice it much until I get around a group of negative people.  I think this habit was in part a precipitating event for my struggle with depression in my early 30's.

I'm thinking that this fall, without the excuse of Lyme disease or full blown depression that I'm going to need to do something about my desire to be whiny and sleep all the time, having 3 hour quiet times that include me snoring myself awake is just not going to cut it this year.  Not that it was ever a pleasant part of my day, but I am a determined against it this year!

So, wha…