Friday, December 24, 2010

It Was a Labor of Love

Because Andrew Peterson says it better than I can...


It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David's town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother's hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
In the streets of David's town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My New Favorite Kitchen Tip

Now that we have a dishwasher (hallelujah!), I've run into the problem of my measuring cups tipping over during the cycle and filling with nasty dishwasher water.  Thankfully, that is now an issue of the past due to this handy little tip from Tammy's Recipes.  Here's the accompanying photo that pretty much explains it all:

Some people are geniuses, I tell ya!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thwarted! round 2

Let me start off by saying that I know this is partly my fault for procrastinating so much.  Ahem.

Saturday, I intended to mail some Christmas goodies to Chris' and my grandparents.  According to the USPS website, the local post office closed at 2.  After spending too much time looking for baby things at Target online, I boxed up the goodies and made it to the post office at 1:55 p.m.  Perfect!  I figured I'd have to stand in line for awhile, but oh well.  Ha...such naivete in my young mind.  As I walked up to the door, I noticed a long line, which again wasn't surprising given this was the last Saturday before Christmas.

Unfortunately, there was an employee near the door informing hopeful customers that they were now closed, due to the long line.  Yes, people, they closed early because they were too busy.  While some businesses are open extended hours during this time of year, our lovely USPS closed early on what was probably one of their busiest days all year.  Sigh...

Update: I mailed the goodies yesterday, which means they won't get there in time for Christmas, but that's okay, right?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas from the H's!

December 2010
Dearest loved ones,

Merry Christmas!  We hope that 2010 has been a wonderful year for you.  We opted to do a simpler e-Christmas letter this year as there’s some exciting news in January we will also be sharing.  For those of you who haven’t heard, we’re expecting a little baby!  Higbaby (as s/he has been dubbed) is due January 20th and we can’t wait to meet our little one.  So far the pregnancy has gone well and we’re praying that it continues to be smooth.
A baby on the way combined with another move--this time to California--have made for a rather busy year.  In September, Chris accepted a job as a ______ in _______, California, so in October we loaded up the U-Haul and drove down here.  We’re living in an adorable town of about ____ people called _______.  He loves his new job and is excited to be working with so many airplane enthusiasts.  We’re adjusting to life here pretty well, though some things are taking awhile to get used to (like the fact that Costco is an hour away and the library is only open 3 days a week).  We’ve also found a church and are getting to know people there,
Shortly after Christmas last year, Elizabeth got a job working with at-risk kids in an after-school program (which became all-day camps during the summer). She also co-taught preschool this fall--a job she was very sad to leave--but is excited to be a stay-at-home-mom.
Other adventures this year included Chris getting his pilot’s license, our first garden (and subsequent attempt at making homemade salsa) and celebrating our first anniversary in ______.  California is a big state, but let us know if you’re ever in the area!  (Attached are some photos of us flying together, our trip to ______ and Higbaby.)
Much love,
Chris, Elizabeth and Higbaby


Check out Elizabeth’s blog for baby updates:
mywanderingramblings.blogspot.com

(This is the edited for Internet stalkers version ;) )

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Meanderings

  • I somehow missed posting Advent hymns the last two Sundays...oops.
  • It's been raining like crazy here.  And this is coming from a girl who used to live in the Pacific Northwest!
  • As soon as our Charlie's Soap gets here, I'm going to start washing baby diapers and clothes.  Totally surreal.  That means it's almost time!
  • Chris and I got ourselves a printer for Christmas, and I am beyond excited.  I can print coupons!  (Having to pay to print them kind of defeats the purpose.)  No more going to the library and paying sales tax!  
  • I started making one of these last night.  We'll see how it turns out.
  • Today's do-list is quite long, with one overarching theme: get the house put back together.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reflecting on Mary

Christmas this year is like nothing I've ever experienced.  Sure, I've heard my whole life about Mary being with child, riding on a donkey and giving birth in a stable.  But now I'm pregnant.  As I try to imagine giving birth in a stable with "no midwives to be found on the streets of David's town" (as Andrew Peterson so aptly penned), I am filled with wonder at Mary's implicit trust in God.

Not only did she give birth in a strange town, with animals all around and no one but her husband, she was carrying the Son of God.  I'm sure Joseph was supportive--as much as he could be.  I imagine that being the earthly father of God's Son will do that to you.  However, (and this is speculation on my part), due to cultural norms, he probably had no experience with a laboring woman--that was a woman's work.  And I'm positive he hadn't read Husband Coached Childbirth.  Mary was alone.  Except for Him.  The very God who was with Mary was also the child she was carrying.

(On a lighter note, I also have a newfound respect for Joseph, because seriously, how many times did they have to make bathroom stops??  Pregnant lady + donkey ride = yikes...)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Requested Recipe: Homemade Marshmallows

Disclaimer: I take no credit for this recipe--it came from Taste of Home.


2 t butter
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 c cold water, divided
2 c sugar
1 c light corn syrup (Jenn is substituting agave)
1/8 t salt

Optional toppings: melted chocolate, hot fudge, etc.

Optional garnishes: baking cocoa, confectioner's sugar, sprinkles, crushed candy canes, etc.

Line 13x9 pan with foil and grease the foil with butter; set aside.

In a large metal bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup water; set aside.  In a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and remaining water.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reaches 240 (soft ball stage).

Remove from the heat and gradually add to gelatin.  Beat on high speed until mixture is thick and the volume is doubled, about 15 minutes.  (It really does take awhile, so just be patient!)  Beat in vanilla. Spread into prepared pan.  Cover and let stand at room temperature for 6 hours or overnight.

Using foil, lift marshmallows out of pan.  With a knife or pizza cutter coated in cooking spray, cut into 1 inch squares.  Dip or drizzle marshmallows with toppings if desired.  Roll other marshmallows in the garnishes of your choice.  Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ode to the Eye Doctor

Ever since I accepted the fact that the eye doctor would be a regular part of my life (this happened around 2nd grade or so), I've looked forward to those visit.  It wasn't like the dentist, which was painful and where they blamed you for your bad teeth and the regular doctor which just isn't that fun.  (No offense to any doctors reading this.)  And when you get new glasses, you can see!  As I recently went to the eye doctor for the first time in way too long, this phenomenon has me greatly excited.

There are a few things about this lovely place, though, that are pressureful.  If you have perfect eyesight (like a certain husband of mine), this is most certainly a foreign concept to you.  During your eye exam, the doctor will show you a row of letters and ask which one looks clearer by switching back and forth between a set of lenses.  This is incredibly stressful as they sometimes look very similar and choosing the wrong one means that your lenses will be messed up for the next TWO YEARS.  Oh the pressure!

After figuring out your new prescription, the cosmetic
drama starts...picking new frames.  Dun dun dun.  I
                        photo credit
well remember the days of seeing row upon row of eyeglasses at the doctor's and wishing I could try them all on.  When it came time to choose my frames, however, the lady would reach for her plastic case of approximately 12 frames covered by our insurance and I was destined to choose from those dozen.  Last week, though, I got to pick whichever frames I want (thank you, insurance company for just giving me a frame allowance).  The problem is that to try on glasses, you must remove your old ones, which in my case means I can't see a dadgum thing.  Very difficult to see whilst you can't see, in case you wondered.  Despite no one else being with me as a fashion consultant, I do believe I managed to pick a pair of frames.

So have no fear, Mr. Eye Doctor, I will continue to visit you, hopefully more faithfully than I have in the past, because despite the pressure that accompanies trips to you, I thank you for helping me see.

Monday, December 13, 2010

25 While 25

Just like my 24 While 24, 23 While 23 and 22 While 22, here's this year's 25 While 25.  (Nothing too deep or earth-shattering--just a snapshot of my life.)

While I was 25, I...
1. Found out I was pregnant!
2. Celebrated one year with the love of my life.
3. Became a preschool teacher (I really miss those kids and coworkers).
4. Walked through the painful road of being laid off with Chris, but rejoiced when God provided two jobs back to back for him.
5. Moved to California.  Still can't believe that one.
6. Participated in NaBloPoMo.
7. Got to see our unborn baby through the miracle of ultrasounds.
8. Became a stay-at-home-mom (even though our baby isn't here quite yet).
9. Got hooked on listening to Dave Ramsey.
10. Worked with at-risk kids.
11. Took childbirth classes.
12. Had a garden.
13. Tried to make one new recipe a week.  Didn't continue, but at least I tried...
14. Felt our baby move. :)
15. Cooked Thanksgiving dinner.
16. Listed 100 reasons why I love my husband.
17. Realized that I can't make it through the day without a nap.
18. Read through the Bible chronologically.
19. Picked names for our baby.
20. Celebrated my niece's first birthday.
21. Lived in a house with a dishwasher (first time as a married woman).
22. Started making my own baking powder.
23. Got to be pregnant at the same time as my sister-in-law.
24. Saw a movie in theaters with Chris.  (Yes, that's the first and thus far only one we've seen in theaters).
25. Found a fabulous midwife and sadly had to leave her when we moved.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Baking

Put on your aprons, ladies and gents, it's time for some Christmas goodies!  Here's what's on my list this year...

Oreo Truffles
Krumkake
Homemade Marshmallows
Gingerbread
Cake Pops
Dipped Oreos

So far I've dipped some Oreos, and made the Cake Pops and Oreo Truffles.  Most of them have been dipped, but I've run out of coating.  It takes a lot!  P.S. Any advice on easily dipping truffle like things?  I seem to always waste excess chocolate and that, my friends, is a shame.

Hoping to mix up the gingerbread dough and marshmallows today!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Objective?

We're searching for a new vacuum cleaner, and in my quest, I googled "bagged vs. bagless vacuum cleaners."  The first result brought this article.  Its introduction and first sentence made me laugh.

"I will be very objective at giving you the pros and cons of both types of vacuum cleaners.

Bagged Vacuum Cleaners

In my opinion, this is the way to go."


Yes, because being objective means starting out your article with your personal opinion... 

Monday, December 06, 2010

Monday Meanderings

  • Chris and I spent a good 5+ minutes looking everywhere for his belt this morning, only to discover he was wearing it.  Personally, I thought it was hilarious.
  • I think I might be starting to nest.  Typically, the kitchen hasn't been cleaned and the laundry started by 7:15 a.m.
  • Every winter, I make 3-D snowflakes, and every year, I have to google how to fold them.  Here's how.  I made a huge red one out of 12x12 cardstock, and if you can ignore the fact that it isn't totally staying together, it looks good!
  • This video nearly made me tear up, and I never cry at YouTube videos.
  • I really like this quote from C.S. Lewis, "I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
  • Handle's Messiah (which I sadly have not seen this year) would be fabulous to own on vinyl.  

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Second Sunday in Advent {Peace}

Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.

Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art:
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child, and yet a king,
born to reign in us for ever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.

By thine own eternal Spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all-sufficient merit
raise us to thy glorious throne.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Seasonal Recommendations

As the first week of Advent draws to a close, hints of Christmas are starting to pop up in our home.  Our Advent wreath is nearly finished (surely we have last year's garland somewhere!), a few Christmas gifts are wrapped and awaiting a tree to be put under, some of my favorite music and books are making their annual appearance and last night we purchased this year's first peppermint stick ice cream.

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus is collection of readings for the Advent season.  Purchased last year (after Advent started), I wasn't able to read the whole thing before Christmas, but this year I've picked up where I left off and am enjoying the readings.  They're short enough to read during my morning quiet time, yet meaty enough to give you something to ponder.  (The same author as also put together an Easter collection I recommend called  Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross.)

Behold the Lamb of God--my favorite Christmas cd hands down, and quite possibly one of my favorite albums of all time.  Chris said that if it was available on vinyl, he'd pay $50 for it. (That's a big recommendation, people!)  On my birthday, we'll be snuggled on the couch by the light of the Christmas tree watching the live DVD of the concert, something that's becoming a tradition.  Meanwhile, the cd is getting plenty of play in our house, telling the story of Christ in beautiful and original music.

Your King Has Come is another cd full of songs that aren't necessarily original, but the arrangements of many are.  I love the Sandra McCracken and Derek Webb version of "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus."  So beautiful and haunting.

A Charlie Brown Christmas--somehow, I managed to make it college without seeing this classic.  Not quite sure how that happened, but thanks to Hulu, we watch it every year.  And every year, I love it.

What about you?  What do you recommend to read/listen/watch?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Craving Normal

Chris and I were talking the other night about how much our lives have been in a constant state of change lately.  For example, in 2007 I graduated from college, "officially" moved out of my parent's house (I lived there during school breaks, but attended college 1500+ miles away) and started a real, full time job.  This was on the cusp of a suddenly changed college major and my Dad having cancer.

2008 was a relatively steady with that same job, being involved in a wonderful church, great roommates and a busy yet fulfilling time of singleness.  September of 2008, Chris and I started dating just about a month after my Grandma passed away.  (These changes have mostly been good, but they are changes (and some stressful) nonetheless.)  

In 2009, we got engaged and three weeks later I moved.  Chris accepted a job in Y-town,we got married and I moved to Y-town as well.  (Hint: moving two days after your honeymoon is a bad idea.)

2010 seemed like it would be steadier, but once again, God had changes up His sleeve.  We found out we were pregnant, and a few months later moved to California.  

I'm tired just remembering all of that. :)  It would be nice if 2011 held a bit of normalcy (please, Lord...let us stay in one place for more than a year!), but with a baby coming, our world is guaranteed to be shaken even more.  Like I said, these are good things, but challenging at the same time.

So, what's a girl (and her husband) to do?  The same as we always have--holding hands through life's adventures, knowing that "in every change, He faithful will remain."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 30th

Today marks the last day of National Blog Posting Month.  Despite my forgetful start, I managed to post every day for the rest of the month.  And you know what?  I loved it!  At first, I was afraid the posts would feel forced or like blogging was a duty instead of something I enjoy, but to my surprise, it didn't feel like that at all.

I'll confess there were some days I used Blogger's scheduled post feature--particularly when my family was here and on Thanksgiving Day, but I actually think that's more difficult, because one must think up several coherent posts at the same time.

During last night's bout of insomnia, I had several good posts in my head. Maybe one day I'll learn to keep a blank notebook on my nightstand for just such occasions.

Will I keep posting each and every day?  Most likely not, but I still have some posts about a variety of topics waiting to be written.  And once our baby is here, I wouldn't want to deprive people the chance to see the world's most adorable baby, now would I? ;)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Meanderings

  • I got an e-mail the other day from a job I applied to nearly a year ago.  They wanted to phone interview me.  Right...
  • We woke up to a light dusting of snow again yesterday!  It's still here, but will probably melt today. :(
  • My sister's Christmas gift is wrapped, as is part one of each of my brother's gifts.  I meant to take pictures of everything I made this year, but forgot already.
  • For wrapping paper (so far) I used a paper grocery bag and rubber stamps.  I'm not a big fan of spending money on wrapping paper that will just get thrown away.
  • Having Chris off work since Wednesday has been amazing.  Makes Monday harder, though.
  • The turkey leftovers have commenced.  So far, Turkey Barley Soup was yesterday and Turkey Pot Pie is for tonight.
  • We still need a crib bumper, hopefully yellow.  Any ideas? I know Target has these, but I'm just not a huge fan of how they look.  

Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Sunday of Advent {Hope}


O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Refrain

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

Refrain

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

Refrain

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Refrain

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Refrain

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

Refrain

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

Refrain

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Refrain

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thwarted!

Apologies to a certain brother of mine, because if the local library system has its way, his Christmas present may never get done.  We don't own a printer, so I use the one at the library; I need to print something to finish said brother's gift.  (Also, they charge you sales tax on pages you print.  Is it just me or is that weird?)

(Know that our little library is open just three days a week--Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  This is relevant to the story.)

Tuesday morning, I intended to go to the library and print off something necessary to complete his gift.  I didn't have a computer reservation, but as I had a book to return, I thought I'd chance it anyway and see if I could find an open machine.  No such luck--when you're only open 3 days a week, you're going to be busy on those 3 days.  There were other errands on my to-do list, so I didn't have time to wait around.

Today, I decided to try again.  I also wanted to hit a consignment store for some maternity clothing, so the trip out of the house wouldn't be a complete waste.  This time, I thought that a reservation would behoove me, so I went online to do that.  Or not.  Apparently you can't reserve computers online.  Deciding to chance it anyway as there were more books due this week, I drove up to the library with high hopes, only to discover that they were closed Thursday (expected) and Saturday for Thanksgiving.  Apparently taking a full week off for a one day holiday is all the rage.

At least I got a cute maternity shirt for $3.50, even though the library continues to thwart me.  And Philip, if there's no gift from us with your name on it this year, please don't blame me.  I tried.  Really.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Day After

I fell (quickly) into a tryptophan induced sleep last night, exhausted but oh-so-thankful for the day.  It was full of friends, fun, laughter, games and good food.

We had a slight crisis about 10:30 a.m. upon realizing that the turkey (which had been in the fridge since Monday morning) was a little frozen inside.  Some googling and a cold water bath helped with that.  It meant we ate around 3:45 instead of 3:00, but thankfully, our guests didn't mind.  We passed the time playing Ticket to Ride and preparing the other food.  The other dishes turned out SO well--much to my joy and relief.  (Note to self: make more gravy and potatoes next year.  It's impossible to have too much.)

After dinner, more games followed (finishing Ticket to Ride and playing Dominoes) before diving up leftovers and bidding our farewells.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful

Here are just a few of the many things I'm thankful for in 2010...

  • His faithfulness.
  • My husband--a man who lives out his vows day in and day out.  He's also incredibly handsome, funny and going to be the best Dad ever.  It's hard to believe we celebrated our first anniversary this year.  Time flies!
  • Our baby--I love feeling his/her little (and big) kicks and squirms inside me.  8 weeks until our due date!
  • Work--after Chris getting laid off, I'm all the more thankful for how God provided a job for him.
  • The chance to be a stay at home mom--it's a luxury, and I'm thankful that Chris and I agree on making this a priority.
  • My family.  They live too far away now, but I'm thankful for airplanes and the fact that they can fly on them. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Preparing Our Hearts


Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and bless├Ęd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gift Idea: Etched Glass

While going through some old photos the other day, I realized that I never posted instructions for glass etching. I made these gifts back in May for Mother's Day and a thank you gift.  Since then, I've also made some wedding gifts using this technique.  Once they were given, I meant to post about them...and never did.  But, better late than never, right?

I got the original instructions here, but thought I'd post my step-by-step as well.


Supplies:
Contact paper
Letters (or whatever you're etching)
Foam brush
Etching cream (got mine from Craft Warehous)
Glass (I've done trifle bowls and a cookie jar)


Tape your image to the inside of your bowl.  Make sure it's straight.  Cover the outside with contact paper, making sure to leave a generous border.


With an exacto knife, carefully cut out your stencil and peel out the part you want etched.  Thankfully, this is a forgiving project so if you mess up you can just take off the contact paper and start over.  (I didn't have any issues with the knife scratching the glass.)

Cover the whole area with etching cream.  Because it's acid, I wore rubber gloves.

Let sit for 10 minutes.  Scrape off the cream and reapply.  (You can reuse it.)  Repeat.

Here's where it would be awesome to have pictures of the final product...but apparently I forgot to take them.  My apologies.

Anyway, rinse off the cream with cold water (best accomplished outside, in my opinion) as doing it in a porcelain sink will ruin it.  Remove the stencil and you're done!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Homemade Oreos

I don't know if it was a pregnancy craving or the fact that 3/4 of my friends on Facebook were raving about the snow they were currently receiving, but Friday night found me with a desperate desire to bake something.  After consulting my taste tester in residence (aka, Husband), it was decided that homemade Oreos would be the order of the evening.


These are super easy to make, minus one part--you actually have to bake them and not just eat the whole bowl of batter raw.  Rough, I know.  Recipe is from here, but I'll post it as well.



For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar (see link for details on this--I used 1 cup)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg (I only had medium and ended up using 2 eggs)

For the filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.
  2. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
  3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
  4. To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
  5. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk.
A few notes--I don't have a hand mixer so made the filling in the Kitchen Aid as well.  Because the recipe doesn't make a lot, I ended up doubling it so it'd mix up better.  (My mixer is big so it doesn't always handle small batches well.)  I froze the extra filling (or, as my mother said, "double stuffed Oreos!") and will make more once I get more cocoa powder.  Also, I wouldn't make the cookies very big as they're really sweet, but oh-so-good.

Mine weren't as crunchy as store bought, but I actually prefer them that way.  Chris tasted the dough, claimed it tasted just like the real thing and loves the finished product.  Who am I to argue with a happy husband?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Randomness

  • We woke up to snow this morning!  Our former stomping grounds in Washington have received a nice amount, and I have to admit I was a wee bit jealous.  Maybe we didn't get enough last year in Y-town, because I was really wanting some, and lo and behold, we got it!
  • Our friends Matt and Sarah had their second son the other day.  I'm now 2/2 on correctly predicting the gender of their children.  Let's hope I'm as accurate when it comes to our kids.
  • Speaking of babies, I am so convinced Higbaby is a boy.  I will be incredibly shocked (but just as thrilled) if we have a girl.  I'm having a hard time not referring to baby as "he" and when picking out quilt fabric, I had to steer away from clearly masculine choices.
  • My basis for the theory we're having a boy? Women's intuition and the fact that all but one of my dreams about baby have involved a son.  Very scientific, I assure you!
  • Soon I will be 26.  Eeeeek!
  • Chris made First Date Breadsticks last night.  Yes, I am incredibly, incredibly spoiled.  
  • Maybe someday he'll let me teach him how to make yeast bread...
  • Advent starts a week from today, which means I should procure some Advent candles soon.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Irony

Last spring, I convinced Chris to put up a clothesline in our backyard (seen above).  Our dryer worked, but I love the smell of line-dried clothes.  It's also a lot more fun and saves money.  Obviously, that doesn't work in the snow or rain, but during nice weather, it's something I enjoyed doing.  And between the wind and using fabric softener, they weren't too stiff/crunchy.

When we moved to T-town, we brought our washer and dryer with us, only to discover that alas, our house had gas hookups and our dyer is electric.  So, because the laundry mat was expensive and a hassle, we resorted to hanging our clothes in our bedroom around the top of our bed.  (It has decorative rails.)  We knew we needed a dryer as we're planning to use cloth diapers, but finding one on Craigslist took some doing (no one wanted to deliver to our town).

I hated it.  The clothes got super crunchy, were annoying to hang (I'm short) and if bedsheets were drying, it was like sleeping in a cave.  Hanging them outside wasn't an option due to space and weather.

But!  On Thursday, we got a dryer!  And Chris got it hooked up!  There's laundry drying right now!  I can wash baby clothes and they won't be stiff and scratchy!  Even if I am being a total hypocrite and enjoying the fact that I don't have to air dry my laundry any more.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Nearly Perfect Pie Crust

Brinner was on the menu last night and when I asked Chris what he was hankerin' for, he suggested quiche.  I'd never made one before, but I thought it was a great idea because it would give me the chance to try the pie crust recipe I want to use for Thanksgiving.  (You know that 'never serve guests a brand new recipe' rule?  Definitely breaking that one.)


My mom had sent me a recipe that she said was pretty much life changing. And she's about right.  It was a bit crumbly at first, but rolled out quite nicely.


Not quite sure where my mother got the recipe, but it's good.   (It's very similar to PW's Perfect Pie Crust, except that it uses butter and not Crisco.)


Pie Crust
3 c flour
1 c butter
1 t salt
1 egg, beaten
6 T water
1 t vinegar

Mix flour, salt and butter with pastry cutter. Stir egg, water and vinegar together and add to flour mixture. Mix well. Makes 2 large, 2 crust pies.


(I halved it and made this quiche for it--yummy!)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Facebooking a Pregnancy

As we all know, nothing is official until it's on Facebook, or so they like to say.  And as impersonal as it can sometimes seem, it's the quickest way to let everyone big news like engagement or pregnancy.  Certainly, there are some people who shouldn't be told via the Internet, and I always make sure to delay announcing big events until they've been told, but for the majority of people I know, the Internet is how we keep in touch.

One thing I struggled with (and still do) is how much to talk about being pregnant.  Not because I want to go into too much detail (this IS the Internet, after all), but because I want to be sensitive to other people I know.  I have friends who have either suffered miscarriages (sometimes more than one) or who want to get pregnant and can't.  For the sake of their hearts, I don't want to rub in their face the fact that we're having a baby.  I know they're excited for us (because they've told me), but at the same time, in this stage of life where seemingly everyone is having a baby, I imagine there are twinges of jealousy when they read about yet another announcement.

At the same time, I have a lot of extended family and friends who live far away.  Facebook is how we keep each other updated and share pictures.  How do I keep them in the loop while not annoying my other friends?

This isn't something that will go away by the time the baby's born (and I surely won't have it figured out by then), but I guess that's all part of blogging and participating in things like the Internet, right?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Next Thursday

We purchased a turkey last night, which means that Thanksgiving is almost here!  It's my second favorite holiday (Easter is first).  I am incredibly excited for next Thursday, though still scared to cook a turkey.  Somehow my roommates and I made one in college, but none of us knew how to carve it.  (Isn't that always the man's job?)

Here's the menu I'm planning.  Nothing fancy like some cooks, but hopefully it'll be yummy!

Thanksgiving 2010
Turkey (probably this recipe)
Mashed Potatoes (ours is similar to this recipe, minus the mayo--we use milk)
Gravy (made with turkey juice? Normally we Chris makes it with flour and milk, so we'll see)
Corn
Crescent Rolls (I'll post the recipe soon--it's my mom's and SO good)
Pumpkin Pie
Pecan Pie
Homemade Whipped Cream
Sparkling Cider

Our guests are either bringing wine or other side dishes.

The rolls will be made a few days in advance and frozen, the pies and whipped cream made the day before.

For those of you cooking the meal (particularly for the first time) what recipes are you using?  Any seasoned cooks with advice?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Next Big Thing

I don't want to live my life for The Next Big Thing.  The problem?  It's how I tend to operate.  Once we moved, there was a house to set up and a visit from my parents and sister.  Next, it's Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas and then the arrival of our baby.

The thing is, if I continue to live just being excited about whatever is new and exciting, I'm in for a pretty boring attitude where there is nothing new and exciting on the horizon.  When (not if!) my days' routine holds such items as nurse baby, change baby and wash diapers for days on end, I'm going to feel frustrated that I'm not doing more.

But--I am doing more.  I have the privilege of staying home with our precious baby, something I've wanted to do for years.  And when I'm up to my ears in spit-up and a baby who won't sleep, I'll do my best to remember that I am doing The Next Big Thing in my life, even if that means changing another diaper.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Delightfully Full Weekend

My parents and sister visited us this weekend and we had a great time.  I had to drive to The Very Big City to pick them up, but I survived!  And my Dad drove back, which was fabulous.  Of course we had to stop at In-N-Out, since this is SoCal and all.

Thursday night we just hung out, had dinner (the perfect fall meal, IMO--Italian Veggie Soup, French Bread and Apple Crisp) and played Ticket to Ride.

Friday was a stop at our favorite bakery in town and then off to see the sights!  We visited where Chris works (he had that Friday off!), had lunch there and moseyed on home for our traditional Friday night pizza and another game of Ticket to Ride.  We also stopped at the town park, which smelled SO much like autumn--love it!

Saturday was Cinnamon Bread French Toast for breakfast and fabric shopping!  My mom is making a quilt for our baby, so she and my sister and I picked fabric out while Dad and Chris went to the airport and a train store.  Then we headed out of town to this great viewpoint to try and see some trains.  While we were waiting for a train to come by (which it never did), a rancher rode up in his Jeep/4 wheeler/cart/thing-y and informed us there were some fugitives afoot in the area.  They'd gotten into a scuffle with the police early that morning and were armed and not afraid to fight.  Deciding that we didn't really want to meet these unsavory characters, we headed back to the car (which thankful they hadn't found and hot-wired) and made it safely back to town.

After that little excitement, we tried a (good!) Mediterranean place and discussed plans to head back to The Very Big City early the next day before dropping the fam off at the airport.  I also played Scrabble with my parents, and I blame the fact that I haven't played in months for my second place showing.

Sunday in The Very Big City we walked around the beach and then dropped off our lovely company before heading back for childbirth class.  (Can I just say that practicing relaxation is quite amazing?)

I didn't take any pictures since my Dad had his camera, but I'll post some when he sends them to us.

And that, my friends, was our delightful weekend. :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Recommended...

Morning and Evening
by Charles Spurgeon

Love his Gospel-centered and utterly solid writing.  I need to start re-reading this book on a daily basis.


Keep a Quiet Heart
by Elisabeth Elliot

This is a great book also for daily reading.  Her straightforward way of talking about life is wonderful.


Counting Stars
by Andrew Peterson

Best album of the year!



Saturday, November 13, 2010

Recipes We Love: Italian Veggie Soup

This plus Easy French Bread is one of Chris' top 10 meals, he says.  Originally from Taste of Home, I do believe.  Lots of ingredients, but it makes a TON and is actually fairly frugal (especially if you use half the meat).

1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1 c diced onion
1 c sliced celery
1 c sliced carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (16 oz) tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, undrained
2 c water
5 t beef bullion granules
1 T dried parsley flakes
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t sweet basil
1/4 t black pepper

Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Add:
2 c shredded cabbage (I never have this so don't add it)
1 c green beans (fresh or frozen)
1/2 c small elbow macaroni

Simmer until tender.  Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Oh NaBloPoMo

I can't think of anything that warrants a post in and of itself, so today it's bullet points!


  • I had to buy a fake wedding ring the other day, because my actual engagement and wedding ring are getting too small. :(  Hopefully my finger will shrink soon, because I miss them.
  • When our Costco size tub of laundry detergent runs out, I'm planning to try making some.  Anyone havea good recipe for a batch that's not huge?  I want to start small to see how it works first.
  • We're getting a dining room table!  Not gonna lie--eating around the coffee table is getting a bit old.  And we're hosting Thanksgiving dinner, so we figured a table is an essential.
  • Why do I always think of good blog posts ideas when I'm unable to blog (ie, at 3 am)?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Recipes We Love: First Date Breadsticks

At the end of our first date, I offered to make dinner for Chris and I (really, I just wanted to keep spending time with him).  One of the things I made was Soft Breadsticks, now renamed First Date Breadsticks.  According to Chris, "they are the glue that holds our relationship together."  Obviously...we like them!  They won't win any points for being healthy, but they're yummy.  

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • garlic powder and Parmesan cheese to taste

In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Gradually add milk and stir to form a soft dough. (I sometimes have to add more flour.)

Turn onto a floured surface, knead gently 3-4 times (I typically skip this step). Roll into a 10-in. x 5-in. x 1/2-in. rectangle; cut into 12 breadsticks. Place butter in a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan. Place breadsticks in the butter and turn to coat.  (I always add garlic powder and Parmesan cheese on top--makes it SO much better!)

Bake at 450 degrees F for 14-18 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Hint: Cutting the breadsticks with a pizza cutter is super easy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Technological Generation "Gap"?

Yesterday afternoon I was talking to my (maternal) Grandpa and was shocked to learn that he knows what Craigslist is!  Now, my grandparents (on both sides) have Internet, but I honestly didn't think they would know about dear CL.  Wrong am I.

My dad informed me that he was pretty sure his parents know about Craigslist, too.  Who knew?  I have to admit I was also impressed awhile ago when my (paternal) Grandpa told me that while my Grandma was in the hospital for physical therapy, he tried using their computer to show her pictures baby I'd e-mailed them.

Apparently my grandparents are much more tech savvy than I think.  But if they get Facebook accounts or start Twittering, I'm still going to pass out from shock.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Running Through My Head

Love having this hymn playing in my mind...


The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Refrain

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Refrain

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Refrain

Monday, November 08, 2010

Baby Pumpkin

Pardon the messy hair and slightly blurry shot...it's supposed to be a pumpkin on my belly. :)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

I Remembered!

Thanks to pregnancy brain, it's amazing I remembered to blog today.  Not that I have anything quality to say, but I'm trying to participate in NaBloPoMo.

I didn't take a nap yesterday...that was a mistake.  I was so incredibly tired at bedtime (9 pm-ish) that I barely remember my head hitting the pillow.  The sad part was, I hadn't done anything exerting a lot of energy, besides that whole growing a baby thing.  Thankfully, I took a nap today and felt a lot better, even if I am starting to get tired at 8:30 pm.

And now, my brain is shutting down and I can't think of anything worthwhile to say.  Sorry, Internet world.  But at least I remembered to blog!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Recipes We Love: SaraAnn's Apple Crisp

I got this recipe from SaraAnn, a friend from B-town/fellow church goer/former co-worker (yeah, my different spheres intersected a LOT).  It's the only apple crisp recipe I use now, and the one I made last weekend during my apple marathon.

4 c apples, peeled and sliced
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c flour
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg

Mix together and place in 9 inch buttered baking dish.

Mix together:
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c flour
1 T cinnamon
cut in 1/2 c butter
add 2/3 c oatmeal

Sprinkle on top of apples in pan and bake approximately 45 minutes at 350.

So delicious and so fall-ish!  (I can tell it's fall because I've been going through my cinnamon at a record pace.)  One thing I tried was making the topping in my Kitchen Aid and it worked so well!  I hate cutting in butter by hand, and was going to try using the blender, but Chris suggested the mixer.  I put on the whisk attachment and made sure the butter was in small chunks before adding it.  The man's a genius (which I already knew)!

Friday, November 05, 2010

"Schedules"

The YLCF is talkin' schedules this week, so I thought I'd chime in.  Even though I don't have a very rigid schedule right now, I do love routine and try to have some order to my days.  Last year's YLCF blog carnival found me adjusting to life as a newlywed and settling into a new city. This year, we've just settled into a new city (again!) and are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our first baby in January!  Thus, my schedule is sort of loose as I know that once baby comes it will all go out in the window and need to be re-made!

I wouldn't be able to survive without my to-do list.  Every Sunday afternoon or evening, I attempt to write down when I'm going to do certain weekly chores like cleaning, any baking that needs to get done, etc.  My lists are currently housed in my red Moleskine planner.

Cleaning typically happens near the end of the week, so the house is clean for the weekend, but this week I cleaned Monday since I spent all weekend working with apples and knew I should clean after that sticky mess!

Baking is usually a Friday event (even though it should be before cleaning, because I always make a mess) as we have pizza every Friday night and our freezer isn't big enough to house very many batches of dough.

In the past I've had scheduled days for doing laundry, but now I just look at the hamper each morning and see if it needs to get done.  This usually ends up being every other day or every three days, though I try hard to avoid doing it on weekends.

Some things are the same each day--we wake up, shower, eat breakfast, etc. and I send Chris off to work.  Devotions are done either during breakfast or after Chris leaves.  Once that's done, I start laundry if necessary and load/unload the dishwasher as needed.  Another essential is a nap. At 29 weeks pregnant, I know that I need to sleep during the day if I want to be a functioning wife once Chris is home from work.

Now that our house is getting settled, I'm looking ahead to the holidays and will soon be planning out when I'm baking and working on gift making.

So that's my "schedule."  Not very well defined, but in this season of transition, it works.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

A Most Perfect Sunday

Sunday, as we all know, was Reformation Day, a holiday I celebrate each year by watching the Reformation Polka on YouTube.  (Gems like this, my friends, is why Al Gore invented the Internet.)  We also sang A Mighty Fortress at the church we visited, which thrilled me to no end.

Obviously, the majority of the world wasn't observing this Church holiday, but rather Halloween.  Regardless of how you feel about this day, I maintain that one of the cutest sights around is ittle children dressed up in costume.  Our little town held a Trunk or Treat event Sunday night, closing off about 2 blocks of downtown for the festivities.  Chris and I went (I sewed a pumpkin onto my baby bump as Higbaby's first costume) and had a great time.  There were lots of people and many, many cute kids.  We walked over to our favorite bakery to get hot chocolate and a pumpkin cookie, walking hand in hand enjoying the fall chill along with the sights.  (If it sounds picturesque and idyllic, it was.)

When the sun had officially gone down and we were getting cold, we walked back to our car and headed home for some popcorn (our seemingly traditional Sunday night dinner) and Ticket to Ride.  (And yes, we play that game all the time.)

All in all, a most perfect time with my beloved. :)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Oh Pregnancy Brain...

So November is National Blog Posting Month and once I was reminded of it (thanks, Anna!), I thought, hey, what a great idea...I should do that.  But as I was looking at my blog last night, I realized that I missed Sunday AND Tuesday so I clearly wasn't off to a good start.  And then I remembered that I had a great idea for a post, but couldn't think of it.

While getting ready for bed, I realized that Sunday was still October; I'd only missed one day.  Maybe there was still hope!  Upon remembering that yesterday was Nov. 2nd, all I'd skipped was the first and surely there is grace for that day.  And then I remembered the post idea I had.  But I was brushing my teeth and couldn't blog then.

This is (clearly) not that post idea that I had, but hey, at least it's a post, rambling as though it may be.  I'm going to attempt to post something every day, but I will have to schedule a few in advance for when my parents and sister are here (!!!).

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Apples Apples Everywhere


Saturday morning found me at a local orchard picking up some apples.  26 pounds, to be precise.  Once I got home, my apple marathon started.  That afternoon, I made 7 quarts of applesauce (following Lindsey's method) and canned 5 of them.  I would have canned the others but ran out of time due to childbirth class.  (More on that later, but it was really good and I'm excited for it, albeit even more nervous about the reality of the whole giving birth thing.)

Sunday, I prepared two batches of apple crisp and baked one.  The extra went into the freezer for a quick dessert to pull out when there's company.

And yesterday, I made all day apple butter (they weren't kidding about the all day part--I started it at 8:30 am and it finished around 9 pm) and caramel apple sticky buns.

There's still a few apples left to be eaten raw, but I'm ready to move onto something else.  Pumpkin bars, anyone?