Monday, November 28, 2011


What is Advent?

The word Advent means "coming" or "arrival." The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God.

During this time the faithful (Christians) are admonished to prepare themselves worthily to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord's coming into the world as the incarnate God of love, thus to make their souls fitting abodes for the Redeemer coming in Holy Communion and through grace, and thereby to make themselves ready for His final coming as judge, at death and at the end of the world.

I got the above explains off line not my words.
Last year to celebrate the Advent season we used a Jesse Tree.  The boys colored paper ornaments that we hung (taped) onto the tree each day.  We then read the scripture for the day. 
Look behind Jeffrey and you will see the Jesse Tree hanging on the door. 

This year we made a paper chain with the scripture passage for each day written on each link.  The boys this year will take turns cutting off a link each day and then we will read the scripture.
The paper chain got knocked down very quickly so I decided to hang it over the backdoor blinds.  Jackson got to cut the first link last night because Jeffrey got to put the star on the Christmas tree. 

This is such a busy and stressful time of year for us all.  I am going try my best to slow down and remember and teach the boys what we are really celebrating--Jesus Christ.  I pray that you and your family will do the same.

Fall Cooking

Over the last couple of weeks we have done some baking.  Jackson had to take a small pumpkin to school for a math activity and when he brought it back home we baked it and made our own pumpkin puree.  It was very easy to do.

Pumpkin Puree
Place the pumpkin on a cookie sheet and roast in an 425 degree F oven for about 1 hour.  The bigger the pumpkin the longer the time.  Once the pumpkin is roasted let cool.  Slice the pumpkin in half and scape out the seeds.  Spoon out the pumpkin flesh into a food processor or blender.  Process till it looks like the can pumpkin you can buy.  Store in fridge for a couple of days or freeze.

With our pumpkin puree we choose to make pumpkin muffins and pumpkin pancakes.  For the muffins I used my mother-in-law's pumpkin bread recipe and found a pancake recipe online.

Pumpkin Bread
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c sugar
1 c pumpkin puree
1/2 c oil
1/4 c water
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 2/3 c flour
1 c nuts--optional
Combine eggs and sugar; mix well, add pumpkin, oil and water; blend thoroughly.  Add all dry ingredients.  Pour into greased loaf pan.  Bake in 350 degree oven for about 1 hour.  ***For mini muffins bake for ~ 10 mins. For large muffins bake ~ 20 mins.
Jeffrey and his friend helped me make the pumpkin muffins one afternoon.  We had a lot of fun and got pretty messy. 

Martha Stewart Pumpkin Pancakes
For a spiced breakfast treat, whisk 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour; 2 tablespoons sugar; 2 teaspoons baking powder; 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon, ground ginger, and salt; 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg; and a pinch of ground cloves. In a separate bowl, stir together 1 cup milk, 6 tablespoons pumpkin puree, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 1 egg; fold mixture into dry ingredients. Melt some butter in a skillet over medium heat; pour in 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side; serve with butter and syrup. Makes 8 to 10.
Jeffrey and Josh liked the pancakes a lot.  Jackson did not and I thought they were OK.    I would like to make them again because the first time I put in to much nutmeg.  Lesson learned that morning is not to try a new recipe when you are running late.

Thanksgiving Day I made the green bean casserole to take to Josh's family dinner.  I choose a healthier recipe I found in Southern Living magazine instead of the dumping can recipe I have made before.

Home-style Green Bean Casserole
makes: 8 serving
hands on time: 25 min.
total time: 55 min.
1 1/2 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed
2 T butter
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c 2% reduced-fat milk
1/2 c nonfat buttermilk
1 T Ranch dressing mix ( I made my own)
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp. butter
1 (8oz) package sliced fresh mushrooms
vegetable cooking spray
1 c French fried onions, crushed
1/2 c panko bread crumbs
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook green beans in boiling salted water to cover in a Dutch oven 4 to 6 minutes or to desired degree of doneness; drain.  Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain and pat dry.  Melt 2 T butter in Dutch oven over medium heat; whisk in flour until smooth.  Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute.  Gradually whisk in 1 1/2 c milk; cook, whisking constantly, 3 to 4 minutes or until sauce is thickened and bubbly.  Remove from heat, and whisk in buttermilk and next 4 ingredients.  Melt 1 tsp. butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat; add mushrooms, and saute 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes.  Gently toss mushrooms and green beans in buttermilk sauce.  Place n a 13x9 baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Combine french fried onions and next 2 ingredients; sprinkle over green bean mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.  Serve immediately.  ***I baked this the day before and warmed on Thanksgiving day and it was just as good as the time I served it immediately.

For our weekend with my family I baked a sweet potato pound cake from Southern Living and Cranberry muffins from 

Sweet Potato Pound Cake
makes: 10 to 12 servings
hands on time: 25 min.
total time: 2 hr. 40 min.
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c butter, softened
2 c sugar
4 large eggs
2 1/2 c cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
3 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with a heavy duty electric stand mixer until creamy.  Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears.  Add sweet potatoes, and beat well.  Stir together flour, next 3 ingredients, and if desired, cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended after each addition.  Stir in vanilla.  Spoon batter into a greased and floured 10 inch tube pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 5 minutes to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour).  ***About half way though the baking time I covered with foil to keep the outside from browning to much.

Cranberry Muffins
1/2 c butter
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c sour cream
2 c flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 c chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
2 T sugar
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.  Fold in sour cream.  Combine flour, baking powder, soda, nutmeg and salt; stir into creamed mixture just until moistened.  Fold in cranberries.  Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two thirds full.  Combine topping ingredients; sprinkle over muffins.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until muffin test done.  Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove to a wire rack.

Not sure what I will be baking and cooking for the Christmas season, but I will be sure to post the recipes. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


As, I read my Bible and a devotional book this morning I thought how perfect God's timing is.  With Thanksgiving tomorrow and many more holiday gatherings in the near future we all need to be reminded of

"And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ." Ephesians 4:32

I don't know about you, but family time can be difficult.  I am feeling stressed with having Josh and the boys home all week and then you add extended family and my patience's is low.  A tip from my devo book:  "when someone else becomes angry or upset, you'll tend to become angry and upset, too.  Resist that temptation.  Keep your cool, even when everybody else is losing theirs!  By not fanning the flames, you'll help extinguish the fire."

So, as we enjoy family and eat way to much tomorrow let show some compassion and forgiveness and be thankful that God, through Christ, has forgiven us!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thankful Jar

This year for the Thanksgiving season we made a thankful jar.  Each evening we write or draw on a piece of paper what we are thankful for and drop it in the jar.  Last year we had a thankful tree and we wrote/drew on leaves.  The year before I believe we had a turkey and wrote/drew on the feathers.  What will you do this year to teach your kiddos about thankfulness?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mission Field

This morning as I drove home after dropping off Jeffrey and our carpool friend at preschool I heard a song on the radio that reminded me of the mission trip I took to Romania in March of 2010.  I began to think about the trip and how I would love to go on more.  I was sad because it doesn't seem like another mission trip will happen for me anytime soon.  I said to myself stop thinking about what could be and just focus on today.  So I mentally make my list of things to get done today.  Then as I sat at a stop light it hit me.  I am in my mission field.  My mini van is a mission field.  Because, I drive a van and have room for many I am usually the mom to drive and there are more kids than my own with me.  And this will only increase as the boys get older and more involved in activities.  We have several rules in the van and one is no batteries allowed.  Which means no video games, movies, etc.  This forces us to talk and fight with each other.  If I am intentional I can share Jesus each and every time we are in the van--friends or no friends.  What I choose to play on the radio can make a difference as well.  I still have a desire to help those far away, but I must remember that God has given me a huge mission in raising God boys and influencing those I am around daily.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Kinds of Thoughts

Howdy my blog friends.  It has been to long I know since I have posted--sorry.  Almost daily I think of something I would like to share on my blog, but it doesn't happen and then I forget what I wanted to say.  So this post is going to be fulled with all kinds of stuff.

First this morning I actually got up when my alarm went off and it was pretty amazing what I got done when I am not rushed to get everyone out the door on time.  And then the morning got better because I had to wake Jeffrey up.  Now waking Jeffrey up doesn't always go smoothly, but this morning he was so cute.  He was laying in his footy PJ's with his bottom stuck up in the air breathing so peacefully.  So I layed next to him for a little bit and rubbed his back and he started to grin.  What a precious moment. 

My two superheros!!!

 We had a great Halloween weekend.  Jeffrey's preschool held there annual fall festival on Saturday, which the boys love and Josh likes the big soft pretzels.  On Sunday was our church's annual trunk or treat.  Josh along with other men in our church cooked 1200 hot dogs for dinner.  There were about 30 cars/trucks for the kids to treat or trick to.  And several bounce houses, a train ride, a fire engine, cotton candy, snow cones and a cookie walk.  It was great family fun!  Then on Monday the boys treat or tricked in our neighborhood for the first time.  But what they enjoyed the most was handing out the candy to those who came to our house.  It makes me smile to see their eagerness to give and make another child smile. 

Jackson lost his first tooth on Oct. 19
 This is so yummy, even Josh really liked it.
 Baked Tomatoes, Squash, and Potatoes
2 T olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 small tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 med. yellow summer squash, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 med. Yukon gold potato, sliced 1/4 inch thick (I used sweet potato and baking potato slices)
salt and pepper
1 T fresh thyme leaves (I used dried)
2 T freshly grated Parmesan
Heat oven to 375.  Heat oil over medium and cook onion until tender and lightly golden, 6 to 8 minutes.  Arrange the onion on the bottom of a 9 x 13 dish. Overlap tomato, squash and potato on top of the onion.  Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with thyme and Parmesan and drizzle with oil.  Bake covered for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake until golden, 30 minutes more.

Several months ago I posted about trying to live a more waste free life.  One way we have been doing that is composting.  Below are our three compost containers.  Two or getting pretty full and the third has lots of room.  It is pretty amazing to see how much we dump in these containers daily and they never get full because it all breaks down.  We have not actually used any of the broken down compost yet, but I look forward to it this spring
You can compost anything that was once alive.  Fruit and veggie scraps, any food really except meat products will smell bad and attract animals.  Items made of wood, cotton (like old socks or underwear just cut up really small first), grass, leaves, twigs,etc.

One last thing and then I must get some other things done.  Saturday afternoon we went by a friend's place to pick up some coolers they had left out for us.  Josh would be using them at church for the hot dogs.  When we got there they were so very dirty.  These coolers had been sitting out for much longer than just the night.  I immediately start complaining about my clean van getting dirty and having to more car seats and all that to get these two large coolers in.  Jackson is so like me and he also was upset by these events, but Jeffrey said in a very happy sweet voice, "Mommy you will only have to clean the back."  It made me stop and think that we get upset when God puts things in our lifes that are messy, but these messy things have a purpose just like the cooler had a purpose.  So today don't let the "dirty coolers" get in the way of seeing God work in your life.