Monday, February 23, 2009

Favorite Treat

Here is an unbelievably rich, delicious treat-perfect with a cup of tea. Lindt Lindor Truffles, white chocolate.

I often have one of these in the afternoon while I have a rest with a good book and tea. One will do it, and it only has about 80 calories! (Of course, regular tea does not have ANY calories!)
My favorite is the white chocolate (yellow package), but the Stracciatella ("white chocolate shell with cocoa pieces with a smooth filling"-lt. blue package) are also luscious. There are several other kinds-dark chocolate, milk chocolate, mint, etc. A bag of them makes a nice gift for around $5.

Rebekah Scott Designs Purses

Husband and I leave this week for our annual trip to the Commodity Classic. Our dear niece and nephew are keeping the girls for us. This young couple have a cute little 2-year-old son that is a delight for our girls to spend time with. It's a mutual admiration society.

Our niece has her own home business making purses. Here are some of the purses we have that she has made. I did not carry a purse until I was in my 40's. If it could not fit into my checkbook, I did not haul it. When I got a cell phone, I had to carry purses, but got them secondhand. They were usually under $5 each.

For me to actually spend money on a real purse, and enjoy it, is amazing. I love these purses. They have lots of little pockets for all your "stuff", are fully washable and totally fun to carry. You can check her bags out at

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Four Daughters

This is a favorite picture of our four girls, last summer. (ages 9, 13, 19, and 6)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Favorite Crock Pot Chili

Here is one of our new favorites this year. It makes a very thick chili. We like it with sour cream, Fritos Corn Chips, and shredded cheese. (Additional note: We used this recipe once for teacher Christmas gifts. Pack everything in a bag. Substitute dried onion flakes and put them and the chili powder in a snack sized ziplock bag, and use canned corn. Add the recipe. All the recepient has to do is add browned hamburger and cook.)

Favorite Crock Pot Chili

1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1 can (15 oz.) light red kidney beans
1 can (15 oz.) dark red kidney beans
1 can (16 oz.) tomato sauce
1 1/2 c. Taco Bell Home Originals Thick 'N' Chunky Mild Salsa (one small jar)
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 onion, chopped
1 c. frozen corn, thawed or 1 can corn, drained
(We always add chopped cabbage, and brown it with the hamb. and onions.)

Brown and drain hamburger. Add to slow cooker with remaining ingredients, stir. Cover and cook on LOW 5-6 hours or HIGH 3-4 hours. Serve with optional toppings, if desired.

Orchids, 2nd version

Here is a reprise of the orchids, after I saturated the pictures. Actually, this is more like they really look.


Look at these gorgeous orchids! My husband brought them to me with a lovely card for Valentine's day.

Great Marinade

This is the best marinade for beef, pork, and chicken. Any Italian dressing will work. I like to get mine at the Dollar Store. Marinate 15 min. to 1 hour and cook. If you are frying, add the leftover marinade to the pan while cooking. Yum.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Great Looking

This is my husband, reading quotes to the women at our church's recent Valentine's Banquet. See how blessed I am? And he's sweet, too.

Beaded Bookmarks

Each year we try to make Christmas gifts for friends and teachers. This year we designed beaded bookmarks. Daughter L. and I made most of them, and ended up making around thirty. We had a lot of fun doing them.

Wrist Socks

Since we live in a climate that has lots of snow play in the winter, we needed to find something to keep that 1 inch of skin revealed between the coat sleeve and the top of the glove from freezing. Last year we invented wrist socks. Use old socks and cut as shown, then slip on before you put your coat and gloves on=no more icy, red wrists!

Heart Cookies

These cute little "cookies" were a fun thing to make this Christmas. The girls and I made lots of them together. They are just small candy canes (we found ours at a dollar store) with melted almond bark in the centers. Arrange the candy canes on waxed paper and fill with almond bark. Be sure the tops and tips are pushed together before they cool and harden. They would also be fun for Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Men's Valentine's Banquet

Each year, the men of our church plan, cook and serve a Valentine's banquet for the ladies of the church. This is a tradition of appreciation that we ladies cherish each year. Last night we were served appetizers, spiral-cut ham, green beans, creamy scalloped potatoes, cheesecake, punch, and coffee.

Each year I make small favors for the ladies to take home. This year we had bunnies (honey bunny). I made bunnies out of Sculpey clay and also made Valentine bunny "snowflakes" (my own designs) to decorate the tables.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Family Tree

This week in art we made Valentines for the parents. I found this idea in the Feb. 08 issue of Country Home ( and adapted it. We cut out a simplified family tree, turned it over and wrote the family surname on the trunk. Mother and Father's name went on the roots, and all the children in the family's names went in the branch area. The background was made by writing out I Corinthians 13-The Love Chapter-in gold ink on a white paper, then copying it in color onto pink or purple paper. (Not too expensive at home.) After glueing the tree onto the background paper with rubber cement (rubber cement causes no wrinkles), we added heart stickers: small ones for each child and a large one at the base of the tree to represent the marriage.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Advent Meditations

Each year, our little country church does a book of Advent Meditations by our members. This is my 2008 contribution, slightly edited.

"Ungrateful "
Advent Meditation book 2008

Ever since we were married, I had wanted diamond earrings as a gift from my husband. For various reasons, I never got them. One Christmas, I had a 3-month-old baby, a post-partum body and 5 other kids. My husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Through somewhat gritted teeth, I replied ominously, “Gratitude and romance.”

Christmas morning came, with a flurry of presents being unwrapped. Husband kept asking the kids, “Are we done with the presents?” He wanted the last present opened to be the one he had gotten for me. I opened the small blue box he gave me, and there were my diamond earrings! After 20-some years, I had gotten what I wanted, and he had surprised me and made me feel loved, too. I was grateful.

Later, I found out that the little blue box was from Wal Mart. Somehow, that fact drained a lot of the romance out of the earrings for me. I tried not to tell him I cared, but I DID care, and I finally even told him so. Now he felt bad too, and there was trouble between us. And I was no longer grateful.

Within a few days, we went to a doctor’s appointment together, and met an acquaintance there. This lady had a child the same age as one of ours, and we teased her about when they were having another. “I think we know each other well enough to share this with you,” she said. Then she told us that her husband had been a recovered drug addict when they were married. For some reason, he had relapsed after their baby was born, and also drank. At their worst point, he had chased her and the baby with a loaded gun. Now they were divorced.

After the appointment, Husband and I went to the car, got in and just sat in our seats in silence. After awhile, I turned to him, and with tears running down my cheeks, I said, “I love my earrings.” And at that moment, I truly did. It no longer mattered where he had gotten them. Now I was truly grateful for what his gift represented-a thoughtful, loving, faithful, husband/friend.

Of course, it should never have mattered where he had gotten them, but it did. I was not grateful for his love and care. In my mind, it did not measure up to what I expected or needed. But when my attitude and view changed, my feelings also shifted. Sometimes it takes us awhile to learn that we can decide to be grateful or happy or loving.

So may years ago, God sent his Son in an unlikely package. It was not what we expected of a Savior, a King, a Son of God. And we were ungrateful. We did not realize the love and sacrifice He had made for us. We were even so blind that when Jesus grew up, we killed Him. And yet, He still loved us-enough to die for us.

God, Let us remember to be truly thankful and grateful during this Advent season for all the love and care you showed us through sending your Son. Amen.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Read Aloud Books

We have just finished two delightful book as read alouds in our (home) school. All three daughters and I laughed out loud throughout both books. "A Long Way From Chicago", and "A Year Down Yonder" by Richard Peck are the tales of crusty Grandma Dowdel and her two grandchilren from Chicago who visit her for a week every summer. And every year, amazing things happen in Grandma's quiet IL town. Each amazing episode finds Grandma Dowdel and the kids smack in the middle of it. There is only one thing sure when you visit Grandma's house: no one can predict what will happen next.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

All-Time Favorite Tea

This is my all-time favorite tea, Chinese Fortune (now called Chinese Oolong) by Bigelow Tea.

Silhouette portraits

This year I am teaching art to two classes in our homeschool co-op. I have about thirty 3-4th and 5-6th graders. First semester we did a unit on silhouettes. At Christmas, I made traditional silhouettes of each child in my classes as gifts. There is a great tutorial at the Simple Gifts web site under

Originally I wanted to have the students do this project themselves, with the light on the wall method, but when I experimented at home, I realized that this method made such huge silhouettes that it would be hard for parents to frame or display them if they wanted to. It worked very well to take digital pictures of each child, download them into my photo program on the computer, and print them on regular paper. I sized them at 4 x 6 for ease of framing. After printing them on paper, I trimmed roughly around each picture, paper clipped the bust to black acid free paper card stock, and cut each one out. I had some embroidery/surgical scissors around that worked very well for details. They turned out well and were great fun to do.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New Blog

My friend, Nancy, says I should start a blog. My friend, Ana, has an award winning blog that is so fun to read. I do have thoughts and pictures and projects to document, but it makes me a little nervous to "publish" for the world at large. Oh, well. How many will really be looking at it anyway?