Tuesday, August 31, 2010

i ♥ my dad


20 reasons....
♥ he always...always...always wants to play a game...
♥ he always wants to go to the movies...♥ he knows how to build, fix, re-model anything... ♥ he will always play playdough even when no one else wants to...♥ he loves people like Jesus...♥ he knows how to eat really weird stuff...♥ he knows how to drive my mom crazy (just like me)...♥ he teaches us serious Bible stuff even though we're always goofin' around & telling dumb jokes...♥ he's always got some food...somehow...somewhere...♥ he took me fishing when i was a little girl...♥ he takes my little girl fishing...♥ he built a really cool log cabin (on boughton hill rd in victor)...♥ he's my instant dial-a-number-bible-concordance in a telephone truck...♥ he loves my husband...♥ he uses weird things to shovel his driveway...♥ he never complains...♥ he made us push our old van while he jump started it in the front seat (ok...well maybe i don't love him for that but it's a great story to have on hand)...♥ he's always thankful...♥ he makes good popcorn & scrambled eggs...(not together)...♥ he strives to be a faithful reflection of my Heavenly Father... thanks dad....i love you....happy birthday...

Monday, August 30, 2010

LOVE LOVE LOVE Crochet

I absolutely LOVE to crochet. Ironically, I learned in a round about way from J before I even knew her. My sister S was her friend before I was and she came home one day and told me that J had shown her how to crochet and then my sister S showed me. And from that day I have never stopped crocheting. So, J I have you to thank for all the wonderful things I have made :)
I seriously can't stop making things for my girls, all the patterns are just so cute, especially from ana paula.

I know your going to call me crazy but I started making things already for Christmas for my girls. These two little guys are going into their stocking with a little kids book associated with it. I was thinking the hungry little caterpillar book can go with the apple and worm, but I still have not figured out what book to go with the snail and pear. So I am totally looking for suggestions.


A close up of the worm and apple (this one is going to my 4 year old)



The apple is his little home :)

A close up of the little snail in his home (this one is for my 6 month old but she will be almost a year when Christmas arrives )

Recipe: This one's for you Bob :) Happy Birthday :)
Apple, Cherry and Walnut Salad with Maple Dressing
Dressing:
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tbs white wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup veg. oil
Salad:
One 5 oz bag mixed greens (or romaine)
2 granny smith apples
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
Verse of the day: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:12
Leia's saying of the week: while viewing the otters at the zoo "those guys are so cute...I just wanna take one home and eat him"... Now I know she's taking after grandfather!!



Friday, August 27, 2010

Destination Diamonds

Last week we took a family day trip down the thruway to Herkimer Diamond Mines. We didn't know exactly what to expect, but the idea of finding diamonds sounded intriguing. Herkimer diamonds are actually clear hexagonal quartz crystals that formed in the pores of rocks found in Herkimer County. We were armed with work gloves, safety goggles, chisels and rain coats. Once there, for about $9.00 per person you are given a 2 pound hammer and a zip lock bag for your treasures. You can sit in the mines (open air rock piles) all day and hammer open as many rocks as your arms and back will allow.

We started hammering... and hammering... and hammering... and figured out that this was really hard work. After hammering a few rocks we figured out that the rocks with holes in the outside split open a little more easily and some actually contained small diamonds!
And then Lulu made the big discovery of the day! She hammered open a rock and could see a good sized diamond inside. We all gathered around and out fell a beautiful, shimmering diamond. We were so excited!☺ It's really neat how the diamonds are clean and already faceted just hanging out in rocks waiting to be found.
It was fun even though it was raining and before we knew it the mines were closing! We brought home a few rocks that we didn't have time to break open and a small handful of diamonds. The rules of the mines are you can keep everything you find!


Lulu holding the diamond she found


Psalm 92:15 To show that the Lord is upright: he is my rock and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
Lulu's smile for the week: Cake batter ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery!☺
Lulu's frown for the week: Chipping nail polish
Nel's smile for the week: Healthy kitties at the vet!☺
Nel's frown for the week: Paying $300 to find out we have healthy kitties!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

An empty space........filled



There seems to be an empty space in my house. I have a little hallway that leads from the dining room into the bed/bath area and it has some built in cupboards attached to the wall. The whole area underneath the cupboards was empty and just a waste of space. We decided to find something to fill in the empty spot.



We found this dresser at the Salvation Army and although it didn't look like much, it had great potential. It used to be a very dark green, but we sanded it back down to the wood. We had to remove the drawers to do so.


After it was sanded, I primed and painted the piece and purchased new knobs for the drawers. I think it spruced up nicely. All for under $40.00.








It fits so perfectly under that space and I can still utilize the top of the dresser for even more added space.

There is a lot of empty space in our lives and nothing like God to fill the emptiness! He can take us in any condition we are in and turn us into something beautiful.







Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Are you there, God? It's me, S......

Has God ever made you a promise? I know God has made me one, and I know that when He fulfills it, I don't know how one can deny He is a loving God who wants only good things for us. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose."

God's promises aren't always instant cocoa. They're more like making gelato without an ice-cream maker. You have to keep going into the freezer and mixing it by hand. As each hour passes, the harder it is to mix, and the colder it feels to touch....
...But....
...the sweeter the reward.

Looking for a promise? His promises can come from the most unexpected places, the must unforeseeable times, and reinforced in the most unexpected ways. Last week I was feeling so impatient (feeling like my gelato was too cold and too hard to mix) and I was obsessing to myself about how I wish I could know what the answers were right that second. As soon as the thought popped into my head, over the radio I heard, "Are you impatient? Psalm 37:7 says, 'Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him'" (NIV). Uh, how about that for a total, "are you there God, it's me, Margaret" moment...He IS there! And the very least I can do is believe that He will deliver as He always has. That's why I l♥ve Him.
Matthew 28:20 "I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."

Soooo....while we're waiting patiently on our promises, I thought I'd share what I'd like to call my "While You Wait Cauliflower" recipe, which is paired so nicely with an organic beef steak (hubs and I cook one on the grill and split it 80/20), and the gelato recipe listed above for dessert :). It's adapted from my Local Flavors cookbook (pg 89) to be gluten free.

While You Wait Cauliflower
Serves 4 as a side dish

2 c. fresh cauliflower florets
3/4 c. corn starch
1/4 c. finely chopped parsley
5 T salted butter
2 T spicy brown mustard (I use Wegmans brand, it's GF)
pepper

1) Melt butter and combine with mustard in a bowl. Put corn starch in a separate bowl. Douse washed cauliflower in corn starch, and then in mustard mixture.
2) Fry battered cauliflower in a little bit of oil until golden brown. Mix in chopped parsley and sprinkle a bit of pepper over all.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

b e a u t i f u l...♥

...lately girls, (well not lately...always) i must confess i've been stuggling with my role as mom...struggling with motherhood...there's the days i feel like the rope in tug of war, and others like a yoyo bouncing from "good mom" status to "bad mom" status...i know all mom's wrestle with similar emotions, but for some reason i've been really down on myself...
it wasn't till after sharing this with my precious friend (and going through Lysa TerKerust's book "am i messing up my kids?") that i realized when i stand in the shadows and compare myself to other moms, or to the standards by which the world measures my "mom deeds" by...i will never measure up...i will never compare...
but! yes, but...when i step out and stand in the light of Calvary - the price paid for me...i am beautiful in His eyes...i am filled...i am overflowing...i am satisfied...

"my flesh & my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart,
and my portion for ever" ♥ Psalm 73.26

...Lysa says in her book..."and suddenly it occurred to me: with God, i'm never a bad mom...i might be having a bad moment...or two...or seventeen, but a few bad moments do not define me as a bad mom...God's grace is there to cover me...teach me...and even in the middle of a bad moment, interrupt me, redirect me, and change me...forgiveness is there...love is there...a second chance is there...and another one after that...you are a good mom, my friend...even if like me you've had a few bad moments...you are exactly the mom God knew your children needed...let's live in that truth today..."


"bless the Lord, o my soul, and forget not his benefits...
...who forgiveth all thine iniquities...
...who healeth all thy diseases (we're talkin spiritual here)...
...who redeemeth thy life from destruction...
...who crowneth thee with lovingkindness & tender mercies...
...who satisfieth the mouth with good things...
...the Lord is merciful & gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy...he will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever...he hath not dealt with us after our sins: not rewarded us according to our iniquities...for as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him...
...as far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions...
...for he knoweth our frame...
...the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children..."
♥ Psalm 103

...so...for right now i'm choosing, and asking, one day at a time, that my Heavenly Father would give me His loving perspective of how He sees me, resting is His lavish love...asking for forgiveness for some of my actions, and then letting them go...
...and knowing in my ♥ that i am beautiful...in His eyes...




ps.thanks Mar for pavin' the way for me :)
i guess our hearts were in the same place this week ♥

Monday, August 23, 2010

Children are God's Gift

God has blessed my life so abundantly with children; two beautiful little girls. With their big brown eyes and beautiful smiles, all I do sometimes is just look at them and see the wonder and beauty of our Lord God. It is simply amazing to me. Every day I search myself and ask myself "Am I teaching them God's way?", "Are they going to grow up to love Jesus?", "Will they be wonderful mothers and wives?", "Will they have a love for people?". I think the best advice I ever received on how to raise children was when someone told me to pray for them, pray for them everyday. Another great piece of advice I received was of course from my mom when she bought me this book called Shepherding a Child's Heart. I am only half way through it but it has been such a blessing and encouragement to me. Raising children is probably the hardest, scariest, most loving and rewarding thing I will ever do in my life. However, I will need all of the guidence, grace and patience God will grant me!
My verse of the week: Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Leia's saying of the week: After watching Snow White Leia had something to say about the evil queen. "Mom... that's a bad lady....she has no beeping in her heart."





Friday, August 20, 2010

Super Sisters (-in-law )

I was contemplating all the different roles we have in life. Some seem to always be in the forefront, for me, the roles of mother and wife are important everyday. But what about daughter? Sister? Friend? I realized, sadly, I am no longer a granddaughter to anyone. My mind did come across a role that I don't often spend much time thinking about and, I regret to say, I could put a lot more energy into. I am a sister-in-law to four wonderful girls, all of whom I love dearly and I should let them know more often.

I grew up with just one sister but marrying the oldest of five boys opened the door for lots more girls in my life! It was fun being the first to marry, of course now we are old and boring, but how neat to watch all the younger brothers find and marry the girls of their dreams! They are all wonderful guys and they all chose wonderful wives! All of us met our husbands in college or after, except the youngest who married her high school sweetheart. (Go Scarlett, way to snatch him up early!!) Three of us met our "perfect match" at the University of Buffalo, as did my husband's parents! Don't worry, we all graduated and have jobs so it wasn't just a campus wide husband search!

So, these four girls are all at very exciting and challenging times in their lives and I realized that I can definitely be an encouragement to them and let them know I am thinking about them and praying for their safety and success. Sis-in-law #1 is a major in the Army and she just deployed this month to Afghanistan. My brother-in-law is already over there. They both have been there before and I thank the Lord that there are people like them who are willing to serve and protect our awesome country! Sis-in-law #2 is just a few weeks away from welcoming her third child (and first son) into the world! She makes being a pregnant mom of two look easy and always has a smile! Sis-in-law #3 was just married last June and is getting ready to finish nursing school. She has had quite a year of change, she is in Washington state and her husband is in Iraq until next month. She was on her own, away from home, but she did it! She is the sweetest person ever and I can't wait to see her again. Finally, sis-in-law #4 will be official on September 18! Wedding day! The last brother to get married but we have known her for years and she is a keeper. I can't wait to see her walk down the aisle.

We were all together at Christmas and the brothers were in another room doing something only interesting to boys so the girls played a board game together. I remember looking around the circle as we laughed about something and realizing how amazing this was...here we are, five girls who would be strangers to each other except that we all married into this family. And now, on Christmas day, none of us are with our own families but that was okay with all of us! We all get along and enjoy spending time with each other! What a rare and beautiful blessing. I am so thankful for these girls and I will try to lift them up whenever I can!☺

Nel's smile for the week: Making peach jam with Lulu!☺
Nel's frown for the week: The amount of calories in McDonalds food!
Lulu's smile for the week: Finding a diamond at Herkimer Diamond Mines!☺
Lulu's frown for the week: Only 2 1/2 more weeks of summer vacation!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Project Mudroom!


So, I was finally able to get some more painting this weekend. This time it was one of the smaller rooms in the house, the front foyer/entrance-way that I have nick-named the "mudroom." It was originally white, which made it look so dull and boring. This is the first room our guests will see when they walk into our house. It should "wow" them!







We picked out a nice olive green color called "Egyptian Nile." I'm not sure how it came by that name, because when I think of the Egyptian Nile, I think of the river and the color Blue. However, the color came through very nicely.



Now I can't wait to decorate the rest of the room and get some pictures on the walls!







Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Inspiration from old friends....

Lately I've been on a pretty big cooking kick. I can't help it, our new kitchen is very inspiring!
I'm a pretty simple gal when it comes to cookbooks. I have a few trusty sidekicks that I keep close at hand. The number one cookbook all new cooks should have (in my humble opinion) is the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. The one in red plaid at the end. I can't tell you how many times I've been saved by the emergency substitution list in the back! This is a great cookbook to get you started and experimenting!

Jamie's Dinners is another favorite of mine by chef Jamie Oliver. This book is from my pre-gluten free days, but I can still substitute to get the same yummy results. The recipes' are written in more of a story format but the pictures will make you want to eat the pages!

You Won't Believe It's Gluten Free is a recent acquisition and I would equivocate it to the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook for the gluten free crowd. Lots of basic information that will get any gluten-free wannabe up and going!

As of just a few weeks ago, I was gifted the Local Flavors cookbook as well. Yet another fabulous cookbook for gluten free eaters as well since it focuses mainly on vegetables and Farmers Markets!I saved the best cookbook for last, however. When I got married, an old college suitemate of mine scrapbook-ed an entire recipe book for me! It's beautiful and so much fun to use! It's been one of my favorite gifts received for our wedding!
Above are just a few of my favorite pages from the book. I have been blessed with some amazingly talented friends!

Ok, on to the real reason for this post!I love looking at and receiving food magazines in the mail! Flipping through them, drooling on the pages, earmarking my favorites to come back to, and storing them all in my cupboards!

Whoa, what?!

Yea... when I went to clean out my kitchen cupboards before we sledgehammered them off the walls, I couldn't believe the stacks of cooking/baking magazines I had accumulated. In some of them there was only one page earmarked! In addition, I know I had spent hours scouring them before for that ONE recipe I knew I loved but couldn't remember which magazine it was in! Thankfully Nel saved the day on that one and I was able to retrieve it!

So, instead of storing a huge pile of magazines for a couple of months while we demo'd the kitchen, I painstakingly went through each magazine and cut out the pages of recipes I had loved, put them in a basket, and forgot about them......

Until two weeks ago.

You see, that's where my other old friend comes in! On vacation, ♥J was reminded of me in the scrapbook aisle when she saw a big sticker with her nickname for me on it, "free spirit."

And that's how my "free spirit cookbook" was born! Thanks to two dear old friends- one provided the idea (and a great example!), the other the motivation and supplies to get kickin'!I created a separate scrapbook recipe book just for recipes that I find in magazines. This way I can keep them all organized, sorted, and pretty!Don't let yourself get stuck in a rut! If you're like me, every square inch of space is precious! Don't let it get eaten away by all that "STUFF." Instead of sighing every time you open your cupboard door to find a recipe, keep it simple. Focus on your favorite cookbooks, and if you find you're not using one, have a cookbook swap party with friends! Don't be afraid to doodle in your cookbooks either! I like to use a 5-star rating system in my cookbooks since I'm constantly experimenting. If a recipe is amazing- 5 stars! Just ok is three, and never make again gets a big X! I always write the different substitutions I try (especially helpful when substituting the gluten) or note side dishes that go well, etc. You'll be amazed at how much fun cooking can be when everything is "decently and in order!" You can actually start to have fun with your food!

Now if I can just get my herbs to be a little more hearty for pickin'!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

everyone ♥-ed the hubby's ribs...

...so yesterday we had friends over for a backyard-BBQ...
except it was extremely hot/muggy/rainy here in the good-old-wonderful-weather-all-the-time-flower-city...so it ended up being an inside-the-air-conditioned-house-BBQ :)....anyhow, my honey was in charge of the "meat" part of the meal (the most important part of a BBQ) and believe me, if anyone knows "meat"...it's him...'cause when it comes to food he's an old fashioned "meat & potatoes" kinda guy ♥ and as "simple" as he is...that's how i like him...


...so the ribs he made, from this new cookbook i bought him from Wegs, were declared "the bestest ribs ever"...the guys said they beat dinosaur and i said they tasted like pfchang's (my fav restaurant fyi)...which must've meant they were pretty good!!! even more impressing was the wood board the ribs were served on, rubbed down with a board dressing* (see below) that scored an A+ in the presentation department...so i realized the Lord has truly blessed us...our home is always busting at the seams full of loved friends & family and always lots of food...and i'm so thankful for the fellowship that comes with...as far as the ribs go...they were so delicious, they earned him this "me & my peeps" grill daddy sticker on the mailbox...love ya babe...

*board dressing creates extra flavor on your cutting board: combine 6 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, sea or kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste...rub thoroughly on wood cutting board...serve away...

(ps. a post of the grill daddy building a grill patio
in the backyard might be in the near future...stay tuned...)

...and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman,
and brought her unto the man...and Ad
am said, this is now bone of my bones,
and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called W
oman,
because she was taken out of Man....Genesis 2: 22 & 23
....no pun intended...

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Real Birthday Cake

Well, here she is folks! The Real Birthday Cake for my little girls 4th birthday. I only spent all night decorating it, but was very proud of the result in the end. I simply followed the directions in my previous post on my practice cake, I followed the same directions. I know my little girl liked it too, maybe a little more that the seven sisters did! This time, I put a real barbie inside. I had to rubber band her feet to her knees so that she would fit, because lets be honest, barbie is a little taller than the average gal! My daughter was so pleased that she actually got to keep the barbie after we ate the cake. I even wrapped her outfit in a little box for a little present.


The full view of the sleeping beauty cake
Favorite verse of the week: Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Ps. 51:10
Favorite saying from Little L: (While daddy was trying to teach her chemistry. Daddy: "Leia, do you know what hydrogen is, it's like air only lighter. Leia: "Oh Daddy, I know how to 'hide your chin', watch this".




:)

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