Sunday, December 19, 2010

Unusual Choir

Here's a video of a choir that has the most unusual instruments! You don't have to watch the whole thing, but I know you'll enjoy seeing the unique accompaniment!

Andy is coming home for a few weeks on Monday. I'm going to take a little blogging break until after Christmas, to enjoy time with him and the rest of the family.
Wishing all of you a blessed Christmas!

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace"
Isaiah 9:6

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Eating tips for the holidays ;)

My friend, Pat, had this on her blog last week. I thought it was pretty funny and I had to share it!

1. Avoid carrot sticks.

Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet
table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see
carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can and quickly.

You can't find it any
other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000
calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an
"eggnog-aholic" or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it!!!! Have one for
me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it.

That's the whole point of
gravy. Gravy does not stand-alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of
your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or
whole milk.

If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports
car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control
your eating.

The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat
other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello???

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New

You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do.
This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the
buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like
frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position
yourself near them and don't budge.

Have as many as you can before
becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of
shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies.

Apple, pumpkin and mincemeat - have a slice of each.
Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always
have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert?
Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake?

Granted, it's loaded with the
mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have
some standards.

10. One final tip:

If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party
or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread
tips: Start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cooking Thursday

I've got a good recipe for this time of year. This makes a good amount, so good be given as a gift or just brought along to those parties we all have going on! It's a caramel corn recipe and it's so easy. And there's another plus - no kernels!
For more recipes, visit Sandra at Diary of a SAHM.

Best Ever Caramel Corn

2 bags Jays Corn Puffs
2 sticks butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Pour bags of corn puffs into a turkey roaster pan.
In a deep sauce pan, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and vanilla.
Bring mix to boil over medium heat. Once it begins boiling, boil for 2 minutes. (Don't over boil)
Remove from heat and stir in baking soda; the mix will become foamy.
Slowly pour half the mix over the corn puffs and stir gently. Then pour remaining mix over corn puffs and stir to coat fully.
Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Dump entire contents onto wax paper to cool completely. Break apart and store in airtight container.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Works for me Wednesday

I tried out a new product this year when I wrapped my gifts.
It's the Scotch pop up dispenser. It has a suction cup on the bottom that really works and makes it stick to your table. The tape pops up in short strips, making it so easy to grab and apply. Wrapping presents is much easier with this!
Scotch has refill packets available too. If you haven't tried this, you need to!
For more tips, visit Kristen at We are THAT Family.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree...

My friend Kayren did a post last week with some of her favorite and treasured ornaments.
I thought I would share some of my favorites with you today.

I've noticed that many of them are hand made and I'm starting with some we've made fairly recently.
This is a neat beaded ornament done by Heather. I told here I would love a bunch of these!

Of course I have to include some of Bob's Santa ornaments.

I love each one of them!

I've made several different angels for the tree.

This cute little tree was made by Andy when he was 7. The front of it has all different stamps on it, but I love the writing on the back!

My Mom had this one personalized for us in 1996. Now that she is gone, I treasure it more!

This is another one made by Andy, using a pine cone, a milk weed, a golf tee and a wooden ball. He made this one when he was in first grade.

My sister-in-law Jan made me two of these about 20 years ago. This one is Heather and we also have one of Laura. Jan was legally blind and cross stitched these, sitting by a machine that enlarged things enough that she could see them. The fact that she put this work into them makes them special, but she passed away 2 years ago so now they are also a nice reminder of her.

This little bell was made by Laura in Sunday School when she was in Kindergarten.

This ornament is clear, so is hard to read, but it says:
First Christmas Together
It's from the year we were married.

This is our oldest ornament.
The first time I met Bob's sisters the family was staying at a cottage in the summer. His sister Karla was working on some ornaments that were going to be sold at a bazaar. I helped her make some and we laughed because we thought they were so ugly!
She got the last laugh when she bought one and gave it to me for Christmas. It's been hanging on our Christmas tree every year since!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

And the winner is...

It's time to announce the winner of this old time St Nickolaus.

Thanks to all of you who entered. I truly would love to give one to all of you, but I'm afraid I would never see Bob. He would be out in his shop carving day and night!

Here are all 40 entries, folded and placed in a bowl.

Bob helped draw the name - and it's Brian and Michelle! Michelle doesn't have a blog, but left me an anonymous comment.
Congratulations Michelle - we'll get that carving to you!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cookie update and giveaway

I made the cookies I posted about yesterday and they are absolutely delicious!
I didn't follow the recipe completely. I used 1 cup plus a heaping 3/4 cup flour, I dumped 8 squares of chocolate in a bowl and melted it in the microwave without chopping it, I used imitation vanilla and they turned out great.
You should be warned that after refrigerating the dough it gets really stiff and the dough balls are quite firm. When baked, the cookies have a slightly crisp exterior and a chewy interior.
If you like chocolate and mint, you will love these cookies!

Just a reminder to sign up here for the carving giveaway, if you haven't already. The drawing will be done on Sunday night.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cooking Thursday

It's time for Cooking Thursday. The recipe I'm sharing today is one I haven't tried yet, but will be making today. It looks yummy and would be a good Christmas goodie, so I'm passing it on to you. It came from the Pioneer Woman, so I'm thinking it has to be good!
For more recipes, visit Sandra at Diary of a SAHM.

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

Yields 3 dozen cookies
  • 1 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons spooned and leveled bleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar, divide
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of peppermint extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  1. In a medium bowl, beat together well the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Melt the chocolate in the microwave on 50 percent power for 1 minute, stir, and microwave for 15 seconds more and stir; set aside.
  2. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together 2 1/2 cups of the sugar, the oil, butter and corn syrup to blend. Beat in the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla and peppermint extract. Then on low, beat in the melted chocolate. Add the flour mixture and beat in on low speed. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  3. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line bakesheet with parchment. Take out about one-quarter of the dough at a time to shape. Roll the dough into 2 inch balls. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar into one bowl and the confectioners’ sugar in another bowl. Roll each cookie dough ball lightly in granulated sugar first, then very heavily in confectioners’ sugar. (By rolling in plain sugar first, the confectioners’ sugar does not soak in so much and stays on the surface better).
  4. Arrange cookies 2 inches apart on the foil. For crisp cookies, bake 12 to 14 minutes. For a chewier cookie, bake 10-12 minutes. Bake one sheet at a time.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Works for me Wednesday

My tip for today is something I discovered a few years ago. I spent many years going out in the cold to plug and unplug the little Christmas trees I have out on my porch. Then I found the timers you can buy. I got a timer that would turn on at dusk, and it allows you to leave it on for 4,6, 8 hours or until light. I set mine to turn on at dusk and then stay on for 8 hours, and I don't have to think about it again. I also bought a timer to use for my tree inside. This one has a clock, with set times to turn on and off - much nicer than crawling under the tree to plug it in!
These timers are usually available in the same area as the lights and extension cords.
For more tips, visit Kristen at We are THAT Family.

Monday, December 6, 2010


We have had a nice long Fall, with lots of nice sunny days and no snow. However, I'm afraid Winter has made it's way to West Michigan.
This past week we had our first snow of the season and it wasn't just a little dusting. We got about 5 inches and we got more this weekend. I'm having a harder time than usual dealing with this, mainly because it's been so windy and cold.
I should be grateful though. Our neighbors, just 10-15 minutes from us had a huge snowstorm over the last 24 hours. They got from 16-20 inches! That's how things work when you live near Lake Michigan.
Aside from the cold, I do have to admit that the snow is pretty and it does add to the Christmas spirit. Here's a few pictures of our yard in the snow.

This was taken in our back yard on Saturday.

I don't plan to sit on this bench in the near future!

As I was walking around the yard, I was surprised to see this last little bloom, hanging on in the snow.

I think red berries against the snow are so pretty!

Our grasses were collecting snow on their little fronds. So pretty!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Carvings and a giveaway!

Bob's been busy doing some commissioned carvings for people, and has also done some for a craft fair. When I've posted his carvings here in the past, people have asked me to post some he is selling, so I decided this is the time. I have a selection of his carvings posted. No two are alike, and I hope you enjoy them.
Because it's the end of the year, the prices are marked down! The sale price is shown; there would be a shipping cost added.
If you are interested in purchasing them, just send me an e-mail ( and we can arrange it.
Make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom, because he is giving away one of the carvings to one of my readers!

Here are some "Light bulb heads". These ornaments are each 2 1/2 " tall and come in blue, green and red. Each face is different. They are $5 each or 3 for $12.

This Santa head comes with the display hook. I think he is kind of classy looking.

Here is a view that shows the way he is displayed better. He is 10" tall and his cost is $25.

This one is called "Skinny Santa". He is 7" tall and costs $20.

Isn't this a cheery St. Nick? His name is "Happy Santa" and he is 6 1/2" tall.

I love the way he looks with his hands in his pockets. He costs $25.

The picture of this guy doesn't do him justice. He is so cute!
His name is "Big Red".

He is nearly as wide as he is tall. He measures 5 1/4" tall by 3 3/4" wide!
His cost is $25.

How do you feel about pirates? This one has a lot of character!
He is 8 1/2" tall.

Here's a close-up so you can see his gold tooth and earring.
He costs $35.

This electrician has zapped himself! The brass nameplate says "Shocking". He is 9 1/4" tall and he costs $50.

Do you know any Firemen that would like an unique gift for Christmas? This is an old time Firefighter. You can see him looking up, probably at the top of a building, planning how he's going to fight this fire.

This shows a few details of his head and chest. He is 10".

I wanted you to see the cobblestone street he is standing on. His cost is $50.

Last, but not least is this old time St Nickolaus. He's got his knapsack thrown over his back and his staff to help him walk.
He is valued at $30 and is going to be given away to one of my readers.
All you have to do to win is leave a comment with a way for me to get in touch with you if you should win. For an extra entry, post about this giveaway on your blog and leave another comment telling me you did that.
We will draw a winner next Sunday evening and it will be announced here next Monday!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hallelujah Chorus

I've seen a few video's where unsuspecting people are out, doing their own thing, when suddenly there are people singing or dancing around them. I always enjoy them, but I think this is my favorite. It was done this November, in a food court. There is a pianist playing Jingle Bells and then, out of the blue, things change!
I especially enjoy the wide eyed kids.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cooking Thursday

It's time for a recipe! I've got one I made for the first time recently and it's so good -and easy too!
For more recipes, visit Sandra at Diary of a SAHM.

Chicken Alfredo Biscuit Casserole

1 tablespoon butter
2 cups sliced mushrooms (optional)
1/2 cup chopped onion
16 ounce jar Alfredo sauce
1/4 cup milk
2 cups shopped, cooked chicken
2 cups frozen broccoli florets or green beans, thawed
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1 can (7.5 ounce) buttermilk biscuits
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees and spray a 2 quart glass baking dish with non-stick spray.
Cook mushrooms and onions in butter, until tender.
Stir in Alfredo sauce, milk, chicken, broccoli or beans, and basil. Cook until mix is thoroughly heated and bubbly, stirring constantly. Spoon into baking dish.

Separate dough into 10 biscuits. Cut each biscuit in half crosswise. Arrange around edge of dish, overlapping slightly. Drizzle biscuits with melted butter; sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake 15-20 minutes until biscuits are golden brown.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Works for me Wednesday

A few weeks ago we had a fun "girlfriends night" at our church. We shared a few things that you can make and give as gifts.

The first one is a coffee mix. One batch fills the larger jar on the left. I'm not a coffee lover and even I really like this!

Cafe Vienna Mix

1/2 cup instant coffee
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup non-dairy creamer
3/4 cup nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons cocoa

Mix together, then use food processor or blender to smooth.
Use two teaspoons per 1 cup boiling water.

This is the project I shared. It's great for elbows and feet!

Brown Sugar Scrub

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup sunflower oil (use sunflower oil because it doesn't have the strong scent of other oils)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Mix together the 2 sugars, then stir in the oil and extract. Mix together well and scoop into sealable glass container.
You can get these containers at Hobby Lobby - they are frequently half price and mine only cost $1.50. I tied a cute ribbon around the top and put a rub on decal on the front.

Cute gifts for a great price!
For more hints, visit We are THAT Family.

Monday, November 29, 2010

50's not so bad!

Wednesday was my 50th birthday and I have to share my celebrations! Prepare for lots of pictures.
It started early with some loving gifts from friends...

things like prune juice, diapers, cold packs and more!

I had to work that day and was serenaded by the residents and given many birthday greetings.

My sister Cheri brought in a pretty bouquet of flowers.

Later that afternoon some flowers were delivered from Andy.

Our church was doing a supper that night for about 160 people. Bob and I were planning to help at it, or so I thought. He told me to be ready when he got home so we could head out as soon as he got ready.
We left, but then drove right past our church. at that point, Bob told me he wanted to surprise me and take me out for supper. He just let me go along thinking we were working, and he was successful in pulling one over on me!
We had a nice supper, and when we were done, he gave me this:

Aren't they beautiful?

Several of our friends had surprise 50th parties and I told my family "no surprise parties for me!"
Instead, they planned out a really nice family day on Saturday.

The first surprise happened on Thursday when Andy came home. It was so nice to have the whole family together for the day.

We started the day on Saturday when Laura picked Heather and I up in the morning. We then went and had a manicure. After that we did some shopping in the cute shops in Holland and had lunch.
Here are Heather and Laura at the restaurant.

We then went back to Laura and Aaron's house, where Aaron, Bob and Andy were waiting. None of them would tell me what else they had planned, so each stop was a surprise.

Our next stop was the Grand Rapids Public Museum. I hadn't been there for several years and it was fun to go through all the exhibits.

Laura and Aaron tried out this little car.

The museum looked beautiful with all the Christmas decorations up. Throughout the different exhibits there were Santa's in different costumes. Bob thought he saw a problem with Santa's list.

One of our favorite exhibits is called Gaslight Village. It's set up like an old town, lit at night. Whenever I go into it, I feel like I'm stepping back in time.

Andy looks like a natural on this bike!

Here is a view on the third floor. There is a clock from a clock tower that used to be in Grand Rapids. There is also a plane hanging behind it that is the only one left of it's kind. It's pretty to look down on the main hall, and see the exhibits and the lights.

The museum has an old carousel that they have restored and have in good working condition.
We had a great time riding it!


Aaron and Heather

Andy and me.

The museum has a special exhibit going on called bodies revealed. It was the last thing we looked at and no pictures were allowed. It's been making it's way around the country and will be here until Spring. Seeing the intricate way our bodies are formed and work, again reminded me of how amazing our Creator is!

When we left the museum, we went for supper to a place Laura and Aaron like. It's called Monelli's and if you live in the area you really have to go. (It's near the new Metro health hospital) It's an Italian restaurant, but they do serve some American foods too. It's a beautiful place and the food was fantastic! if we hadn't had enough to eat, we went to Laura and Aaron's for dessert.
Laura made me a fabulous birthday cake!

Here is the Triple layer torte she made. Even though I was full from supper, I fit some in. It tasted even better than it looked!
As you can see, I was spoiled on my birthday. The best way to celebrate is by spending it with those you love, and I was blessed by doing just that!