Saturday, December 31, 2011

Only 8 months late...

My goal was to clean the living room carpet before Helen was born. Well, Helen turned 8 months old yesterday and I did finally get the carpet cleaned. Got post this picture quick, before the next big spill :-)

I love the stripes in the carpet, right after you vacuum or clean the carpet.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Now I've Done It

I actually took the girls to a "real" photo studio. After all the years of saying that it's a waste of money (which it is) and saying that I can take my own "formal" pictures (which I can't, now that I have two girls to try to position, keep happy, and stop from crawling and running to me while I'm at the camera). In my defense, I did have a gift card for $25 and so I actually spent less than that out of my "splurge" money I had saved.

My two sweet girls - December 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Learning Legos

Notice Lucy's multi-tasking. Snacking & positioning Daddies.
 Lucy's just starting to learn how to put lego pieces together. Of course at first she only wanted to break apart whatever I built for her. Now if I build something she
Happy girls
arranges all the "daddies" on it. All little toy people are daddies, didn't you know? She is happy with any basic platform, which is lucky for me, since I'm more autistic the artistic when it comes to my lego structures. My mom, on the other hand, can build the most elaborate little towns, with grocery stores and houses... I'll have to get a picture of one of them sometime when Grandma makes one for the girls.
What could be more tasty than a lego?
Helen is "standing" already - even if it is only for a few seconds and while she's holding on to something. This is crazy! She's my baby.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Weekend at the Coast

We spent a lovely weekend at Ocean Shores. Our crew consisted of Ben and I, our two girls, and two of my sisters. It was very fun and relaxing. On Saturday we actually enjoyed the nicest weather I've ever seen there!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Opening Christmas Presents

Since Lucy is only 1 1/2 years old, this is the first time she was really old enough to understand and be excited about ripping open presents. Helen just watched the opening process, but she definitely got in on the action when it was time to play with the toys!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Lots of Christmas Cookies

Well we finally got the last 6 dozen cookies made to wrap up in tins
and give away. Good help always makes a job more fun.

Good old fashion chocolate chip cookies, Ben's all time favorite.
Chocolate Crinkle cookies - one of my personal favorites :-)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cleaning Tip - Keeping your microwave clean

This is a little cleaning tip for the From the Hearth - Cleaning Tips link exchange.

Don't worry, this isn't MY microwave :-)
How to Clean Your Microwave:

Of course the all time best way to have a clean microwave is to always cover everything you heat, and diligently teach and emphatically enforce this rule for everyone in your house. HOWEVER, if you do occasionally find that splattered, crusty food mess on the inside walls of your microwave, never fear. This is a little house-keeping tip I learned years ago.

#1. Fill a glass bowl about 1/2 way with water. You can add a couple of tsp of baking soda to act as a deodorizer if you want. Microwave for about 5 minutes.

#2. Leave the microwave door shut for about 5 more minutes (after the heating has stopped) to allow the steam to loosen up all that grime.

#3. VERY CAREFULLY remove the bowl of water. It will still be very hot!

#4. Use a damp rag or sponge to easily wipe off all the loosened grime.

This is much easier than all the scraping and scrubbing I used to do :-)

For more in-depth microwave cleaning tips you can visit this site.

Never a Dull Moment

Just think how boring it'd be if I had to vacuum out the van all by myself. My helpers, Lucy, Lady, and Cocoa made sure I wasn't lonely. Helen was napping so she missed out on this action, but I'm not too worried. She'll get to help me do dishes or something equally exciting!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

First Dinner Banquet

I'm finally getting a chance to blog about our Friday evening party. A group of about 40 married friends all got together for a wonderful dinner banquet. There was incredible food, (Thanks to two good friends who are incredible chefs - lobster bisque, a light mango & pomegranite salad, butternut squash pasta, beef wellington, and flourless chocolate cake), great drinks, and wonderful fellowship. Definitely a good time. Even with all the help with food, decorating, serving, etc. I'm not sure how soon we'll be up for planning another party on that scale. It's already Tuesday and I feel like I'm finally gettting back to normal life after all the energy that went into preparation and clean-up :-)

Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity....    Psalm 133:1

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Playing" Together

The girls really like each other, but Lucy better watch out when Helen catches up and is as big as Lucy is...

As you can tell, I'm enjoying my girls, little sinners that they are.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Beautiful Pacific Northwest Sunrise

The heavens declare the glory of God;
The skies proclaim the work of his hands. 
Psalm 19:1

The sunrise was so beautiful this morning we had to run out and take photos.
  I love how the Mount Rainier casts a shadow on the clouds.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Glazed Apple Bars

My mom, Cathy, wanted to contribute this recipe to the "From the Hearth" recipe share found here. She said she loves this recipe because it's simple to make, but it looks and tastes like a pastry from a fancy bakery. She found it on a post by Edie over at LifeInGrace.

1. First combine 4 C. flour, 1/2 t. salt, and 2 C. sugar.*

2. Cut in 3 sticks of butter. Use hands or mixer on low. The mixture will be crumbly.  Press about half of this crumbly mixture into a jelly roll pan. (A jelly roll pan just means a cookie sheet with sides.)

3. Peel, core and slice 4-5 Granny smith apples and layer over the shortbread mixture.

4. Combine 1/3 C. sugar and 1 t. cinnamon, sprinkle it over the apples.

5. Crumble the remaining flour/sugar/butter mixture on top of the apples.

6. Bake it at 350 degrees for 50 - 60 minutes.until it is crispy on the bottom. After it bakes, let it cool before adding glaze..

7. Make a glaze with 1 C. powdered sugar, 1 t. vanilla, 1 T. water.

   * I love this, but I thought it was a bit too sweet, so the third time I made it,  I decreased the sugar in the first step to 1+ 3/4c, and decreased the sugar in the second part of the recipe to 1/4c. And, I didn't even  put the glaze on that time.  It was still plenty sweet and delicious.

Refrigerating the leftovers was a happy discovery--the bars are wonderful chilled.

~ Cathy

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Morning Prayer

Excerpt from a "Friday Morning" prayer in the Lutheran Prayer Book.

"Bless the labors of my hands. Bless our home with Your continued presence.
... and grant that boys and girls may grow in grace and knowledge
of You and Your will ...


 I knew I had a problem, I just didn't realize there was a name for it!



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Simple Pull-apart Dinner Rolls

I'm not a gourmet cook, so I picked a basic recipe for the From-The-Hearth link share. 

These are easy to make, yummy dinner rolls. My sister Jane told me how simple they were to make and gave me the recipe. Lately I've been making a batch every week and we have them with our dinner for 2 or 3 nights in a row. They go great with pot roast, soups, or chicken - really with anything.

Simple Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls

1 cup milk, warm to help activate yeast
1 stick butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar                         
4 cups flour (white or wheat)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast

#1.  Put all ingredients together in a bread-maker and run the "dough" cycle, which will include about an hour of time for the dough to rise. You can also mix ingredients by hand and then knead dough for 20 minutes, then let it rise for 1 1/2 hrs.
#2.  Knead dough again, adding a little flour so it doesn't stick to the counter top or your hands.
#3.  Form little balls of dough, about 3/4" round. Then drop 3 balls together into each section of a standard size cupcake tin. Let rise for another 1 1/2 hrs.
#4.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes. I usually turn the oven to broil for the last minute to give the top of the rolls that nice "browned" look, but you don't have to.