Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Craft challenged

Have I mentioned that I am completely challenged when it comes to arts and crafts?  I'm just not very good at them... they rarely turn out the way I intend, envision, or wish... most of the time they go into the garbage because I'm so disappointed!  I have been a little afraid of the time when my kids get to the age where they enjoy and want crafts... well - that time has arrived!

As "luck" would have it, I was put in charge of the Christmas craft for Karen's preschool party coming up on Friday.  Nothing like trial by fire to help you grow outside of your comfort zone!!  I have been perusing Pinterest all week in the hopes of finding the "perfect" craft to bring to the classroom on Friday. 

My current plan is to bring salt-dough ornaments for the kids to decorate.  I cringe revel at the thought... the mess fun! the imprecision joy of 10 preschoolers applying paint, glitter, decorations... (you can tell I don't have much experience just letting my kids do their own thing, type A control-freak personality here... I'm working on it!) ...  

I followed the recipe from Crystal at Little Bit Funky.

Salt-Dough Ornaments
4 cups Flour
1 cup Salt
1 1/2 cup warm Water

Mixed in my kitchen-aide mixer with my paddle attachment until the water was incorporated into all of the flour/salt mixture.  Changed to the dough hook and mixed for several minutes on medium until the dough was well kneaded and soft.

On a well floured surface, rolled to 1/4in thick (it was a little thicker in some places and thinner is better - the ornaments tended to puff up with the thicker dough).  Cooked at 325 for 1 hour.

It's hard to tell, but I used two different sizes of cookie cutters.  The first cookie sheet has smaller ornaments and the second set are bigger ornaments.

I am please and surprised with how well the cooked ornaments look.  Yay!  Here is my attempt at decorating a couple of them just to show a finished product.  I don't have any fun decorating stuff like glitter or shiny paint (or any paint for that matter)... so I used Sharpie markers... guess I might have to get over my craft-ineptness and get some supplies on hand!
 With the left over dough, I made three rounds and tried hand impression ornaments for the girls.  I'm trying to decide if I'm going to decorate them more

I'm trying to decide if I'm going to let the girls decorate theirs, or decorate them more myself, or make their hands into snowmen like this craft I found on Pinterest

Besides the ornaments, I have two back-up crafts that I might change my mind and do...

Snowman Pops

Making this wall hanging with more of a Christmas background or changing it slightly to make a Christmas Ornament

Monday, December 17, 2012

Called to Pray and called to act

As I'm sure it is with everyone, the events of Friday are still with me.  I am still hugging my kids tighter, still unable to wrap my heart around 20 little ones never coming home, still praying and wishing that I could do something.  

I was reminded this morning that God, in His infinite goodness, has the ability to draw good from this tragedy.  Not good that it happened, please don't misunderstand... but good from this point forward - and it starts with me, and you.  The graces He will and can unleash as a result of our prayers would overwhelm us if we understood the magnitude.  The families he will draw together in their sorrow.  The person led to conversion of heart because it was finally reached by these horrible acts.  We cannot know what good He will bring but must trust that He will.

Called to Pray - 

A priest friend of mine was commenting how sad that the name of the killer is known - but how little the names of the victims are mentioned.  His thought - find a list of the victims and pray a prayer specifically for each and every one and their families.  A good suggestion.  I would like to take his suggestion one step further. 

Starting today through Christmas Day are nine days.  Nine days of prayer makes up a novena.  I will pray specifically for each victim with a Hail Mary asking for her intercession for the comfort and consolation of their families each day through Christmas.  A novena of prayers for the victims - it's one of the few things that I can offer.  Maybe after nine days of saying their names I will remember them.  Will you join me?

Called to Act -

Mel at The Larson Lingo laid down a challenge in her blog today - 26 Random Acts of Kindness.  She will be attempting to accomplish this by Christmas.   We can all participate - even if it is not 26 or 27 acts ... one small act done with love accomplishes more than having done none at all.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Little Bean!

My baby turned one on Saturday!  I cannot believe it has already been a year since Lauren, aka Little Bean, joined our family.  Time has gone way too fast!  I blinked and she went from newborn to toddler!

It was a busy weekend. We had planned to do Christmas shopping today, but looking at the weather realized that there was a huge storm coming in Saturday night through tonight.  So, at 2:30 on Saturday afternoon, we loaded up the kids to do our shopping. Luckily Lauren is to young to understand or care that her celebration was pushed back a day!  Her birthday dinner? Costco pizza at closing time... :)
We made up for our crazy day out with a fun day at home.  Carl's parents came over for dinner and his sister's family came over for cupcakes and ice cream.
Me and my girl!

She was pretty tickled to be sung to!

Very daintily eating her cupcake.

When you're the third, you don't get much space to open your own presents!

Friday, December 14, 2012


My heart was sick as I watched the news this afternoon.  I prattled on this morning about my "favorite" things little realizing the tragedy that had taken place.
Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered ... I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world. John 16:32-33
There are no words that express my horror or sorrow. The reality of 20 kindergartners never returning home to their parents is honestly more than my mind is willing to process. My daughter came home from preschool and all I've wanted to do today is sit and hold her.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12
The only comfort I can find is in prayer... prayer for the families that don't have little ones at home with them tonight, prayer for all those students and teachers that are traumatized by this, prayer for the family and friends of the person responsible as they try to understand, prayer for the souls of those who died today...
Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, on your part, live at peace with all.  Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:17-19
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord;
And let perpetual light shine upon them.

Buttery Sweet Chex Mix

I first had this recipe at a holiday party when I was a kid.  I don't remember who brought it but know that they shared the recipe because it has been a holiday staple for me ever since!

I didn't take any pictures of the process of making it because my brain has been a bit tired these days... but the recipe is worth sharing and easy enough!

Sweet Chex Mix
18oz box Golden Grahams
18oz box Chex (Corn, Rice, Bran, etc)
2cups Coconut Flakes
16oz Slivered Almonds
Mix together in a large bowl or cookie sheet.  I usually use my 18quart open roasting pan and spray it lightly with non-stick cooking spray before adding the ingredients.  I also usually buy a box of Corn Chex and a box of Rice Chex and use half of each.
1 1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 cups Light Karo Syrup
Boil to Soft Ball Stage (134degrees).  I use a candy thermometer because I've found that going under the 134 temp leads to soggy chex mix and going over, even by a little, leads to brittle mix.

Pour candied syrup over chex mixture and mix thoroughly.  Allow to cool and then gently break into chunks into serving bowl, holiday bags, etc.

My Favorite Things Friday

Since it 'tis the season and only twelve day left until Christmas... I thought I'd share twelve of my favorite things right now

1.  The reason for the season... Jesus!  I have several nativity sets and several statues of the Holy Family.  Here is my most recent addition that I picked at a gift exchange!
2.  The girls... ok, I know that they aren't "things" ... but how can they not be in my list!

3.  Carl... again, not a "thing" but how can he also not be in my list?! But in the interest of humor... how's this for a great picture? Taken this summer at Hoopfest...

4. My "new" jewelry. I had gotten out of the habit of wearing jewelry except my wedding ring. Last year about this time I went to a jewelry party and bought a few pieces. I've added to my collection since then. It is amazing how much better I feel, even if I'm just in jeans and a basic tee if I put on a pair of earrings... I feel like it looks like I made a bit of an effort.

5.  iPhone... love it! Email, Texting, Pictures, Music... all of it.
6.  I got Brooks Adrenaline shoes earlier this fall and have loved every run in them. They don't give me blisters on my arch like my Asics did.

7.  Sole treadmill... ok, I would take running outside over my treadmill any day of the week, but for the schedule I have right now with the three kids that just hasn't been happening and I am so THANKFUL to have this treadmill!

8.  My rosary - nothing brings as much peace as meditating on Jesus' mysteries while praying my rosary.  This is the rosary that Carl & I got while visiting Rome the year before we had Karen.

9.  Running skort - I only have one but wish I had more. I used to make fun of people when I saw them in running skirts, now I realize how comfortable it is!

10.  My new washer and dryer - we got this set for our basement. My first front loaders and I have loved them. I'm sure it will wear off, but I've been keeping up with the laundry better in the last month than I ever have!
11.  Christmas sweets... I made sweet chex mix and chocolate crackle snowflake cookies this week for my book club Christmas party. These aren't my only favorites, but they are the ones I currently have on hand... lol!! (recipes forthcoming!)
This chex mix has been the "death" of my healthy eating this week... It is so yummy I find myself snacking on it constantly!  I need to get back on my healthier eating band wagon!

12.  These books... in the last year these three books are hands down the best books I've read!
  • Fabiola - Cardinal Wiseman
  • Lay Siege to Heaven - Louis de Wohl
  •  The Family that overtook Christ - Fr. M. Raymond

A blessed Advent wish from my house to yours!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Why I've Been AWOL...

A dose of honesty... I'm struggling with my little blog.  I feel a bit adrift without a focus.  So I'm trying to figure out what I want to be saying instead of the random mish-mash that I've been doing. 

Don't get me wrong, I intend to continue to post snippets of life, but I would like them to be inter-mixed with a clearer purpose for why I spend my time here... This is necessary for me because I'm not the best at putting words to "paper"... I wish I had my sister's gift for doing this - but I don't. 

Anyway - I'm working on it, it is just slow.  Especially during this busy time of year.  I also find that a break from posting tends to lead to longer breaks from posting because I keep waiting for something "more interesting" to share when I start writing again... this is where a clearer purpose for my little space here would help.  Please bear with me - I'll get it figured out.  I promise it will be a change for the better.

In the meantime... a funny picture to share.  Christmas shopping today at Walmart - Carl and I stopped to look at some things and turned to find both of our girls making themselves comfortable on the floor watching a big screen that was playing "Brave"... they got lots of grins from passing shoppers.