Friday, December 23, 2011

My Crafty Christmas {Ornaments}

We headed home to visit family this weekend for the holidays. Before we left we made some last minute Christmas gifts. These cinnamon ornaments made the house smell delicious! 
It's just 3/4 cup applesauce and one cup cinnamon. I just bought the cheap-o kind for 50 cents at the grocery store. We rolled the dough out and cut it with cookie cutters. Little holes can be carved out with toothpicks. They are so sweet looking hanging on the Christmas tree. 
Hope yall have a Merry Christmas. See you after the new year. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Crafty Christmas {Sugarplum Cafe}

Because our daughter has a summer birthday, it hasn't worked out for us to have a big party for her the past few years. The practical side of me knows that she doesn't need the mounds of presents that comes along with parties too. Instead, we made a deal with her that she can show a godly character of hospitality and host a Christmas Party.

At the Sugarplum Cafe, we attempted to make pulled taffy. It cooled way too fast and turned into yummy hard candy instead. The girls loved helping put in ingredients.

I kept the cost low by decorating with functional items on the table. The Cafe decorations (shown above) were made from just 3 pieces of poster board, some markers and dollar store cellophane using the cardboard roll for the lollipop sticks. 

We decorated gingerbread houses using an old school trick of using cartons for the base and attaching graham crackers to them. I think there was more eating than decorating, but that's the fun of it huh?!

I think this is a tradition we will keep each year. Our daughter loved hosting her friends. We feel like it gave her more of a servant's heart. Each time we talked about the party she was concerned about what her friends would like and what would make them feel special. What a different idea than entertaining where the focus is all on the entertainer or the birthday girl. I'm exhausted but it was a night of pure fun!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How did this happen?!

The other day she was just four and we were meeting for the first time.

Now she is riding her bike by herself in the cul de sac. With no training wheels!

Such a milestone in her growing up. I have to say, I'm one proud mamma!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Crafty Christmas {Wreath}

No, that's not the cover of a magazine, that's my front door! We have named him the very original name of Frosty.

Admittedly, my artistic husband did most of it. Here is how Frosty turned into Frosty...

I'm linking to Finer Things Friday

How We Do Christmas

It's no secret that everyone does Christmas different. It's one of those things that makes your family a family. Whether it be caroling, Aunt Sally's casserole or the reoccurring tacky gift that shows up each year, there are things that we look forward to that make the holidays feel like holidays to us.

My husband and I both think where we are at in life is such an exciting time because this is when we get to decide what traditions we want to start and how we want to do things as a little family. Our calendar of events changes from year to year according to where we are living and if we can afford to go "home" for the holidays, but there are little things that we do every year regardless of where we are at.

Tree: We purchased a pre lit Christmas tree when we first moved to Germany 4 years ago. It was on clearance after Christmas and it was a skinny tall tree. Each year we pull it out we write on the box where we live/what was going on during that year and the date that we put it up. It's been neat to see the past few years and what our lives have been like.

Santa/No Santa?: Since last year was the first year that we had adopted our little girl, our St.Nicholas tradition is pretty new. Our daughter came to us not believing in Santa so that was a easy hurdle to cross. We loved the way that the Germans celebrated St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6th). The children set out stockings/ shoes on the 5th and get their "santa" stuff then. We did this last year. In addition, we read books about St. Nicholas and there's even a veggie tale movie about him. It sorta gets santa out of the way so the focus can be a little more on giving to others and Christ's birth during Christmas.

Presents: We choose to do 3 gifts for our little girl. There are several reasons. 1) We don't want to start habits now that we cannot continue when Lord-willing we have more children and cannot afford more gifts 2) Our daughter gets so many gifts from friends and family that it truly is a little overwhelming
3) We tie it into the nativity account when the wise men gave Jesus 3 gifts.
These gifts are labeled as a need, a want, and a surprise.

Christmas Eve: We of course celebrate the gift of a Redeemer that was given when God sent Jesus, but we try to make that an intentional celebration each day and week of the year. We are serious about loving and worshiping the Trinity. Easter is really an even more special event to reflect on as believers. Anyways, I preface our Christmas Eve tradition with all that because it's terribly "unspiritual" of us. We watch Elf every Christmas Eve. Yep, we love it. It's so cute.

What are some traditions you do with your family? Are any of ours the same?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Adoption Sigh of Relief

If you have completed an adoption or helped support someone through an adoption you know just how taxing the process can be. There are many hoops to jump through and hurdles to cross. Paperwork can swallow you hole if you're not careful.

We are excited to say that we are DONE! That's right, the list has been checked and the paperwork is all submitted. It feels so freeing to take our agency checklist and check all the boxes.

We have been told we should be licensed today and could have kids any day after today; although we feel it will be the first of the year. Pray for us as we have two little boys identified already that we are praying about pursuing. Pray that the Lord will show us just the right kiddos he has for us. It's hard to say no when the agency calls with precious children that need a home. We know God is sovereign and has people waiting to love those that aren't for us.

Meanwhile, my nesting is kicking in and I feel like organizing a few closets or something.

Exciting times around our home. Hope to have some more adoption posts soon!

Menu Plan Monday

We had a yummy Thanksgiving, complete with three Thanksgiving meals. We of course missed being with our blood relatives but had a great time with our friends and their family. It's neat how most of America eats the same things on Thanksgiving no matter how far you are from "home". My bestie sent me home with lots of turkey so Sunday morning I put taco soup in the crockpot for lunch and it was great! Here's what's cooking up this week.

Monday-Spaghetti with steamed broccoli and rolls

Tuesday- Pot Roast, carrots and potatoes, fruit salad

Wednesday- Small group- Grilled chicken and veggie fajitas, others will bring sides

Thursday- Out for family night

Friday- Chicken pesto pizza using left over grilled chicken and salad

Saturday- Cajun tilapia, steamed mixed veggies and rice

Sunday- Chicken Florentine(using homemade cream of chicken soup), egg noodles and salad

Extras- Lemon Ricotta cookies (I have a whole container of ricotta in my fridge?!)
granola bars, homemade egg, Canadian bacon and cheese English muffins

Visit more menus at org junkie

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our Tree

It may not be the fanciest or the most glamorous. It might never be featured in Southern Living, but it's our tree.

 It may not be fashioned together by an interior decorator. The ornaments might not be perfectly spaced, but I had the cutest helper decorating our tree

The ornaments are not new, in fact, many are generations old. They rarely match or coordinate but they tell a story on our tree

Monday, November 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

I'm not sure if I could call last week a success in the menu planning department. We had a last minute hail and farewell and ate out with friends after church on Sunday so a few meals never got made. Our first small group dinner went well. There was plenty of food and leftovers for lunches.

Here's what's cooking this week...

Tuesday- Sliders, veggies and dip

Wednesday- Lunch- Thanksgiving with my husband's unit, bringing dressing and deviled eggs
                     Dinner- Small Group Thanksgiving- making dressing deviled eggs and green bean bundles

Thursday- Thanksgiving at my best friend's house (Mark and Melissa)- bringing fruit tray and salad

Friday- Southwest Black Bean Casserole with chips and salsa

Saturday- Eat out

Sunday- Vegetable soup with grilled cheese sandwiches

Visit Org Junkie for more menus!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

We had a delicious week last week. Our favorite meal was the Mongolian beef. I used sucanat instead of real sugar and reduced the sugar almost in half. Look at that scrumptious picture. Who needs take out?!
We really enjoyed Amy's green chili enchiladas too. I substituted Greek yogurt for the sour cream. It adds protein and reduces the fat significantly. Yesterday, we came home to the spaghetti being cooked to perfection! Cooking noodles in the crock pot worked! I cooked it on low for 3 1/2 hours instead of the 1 1/2 like it suggested due to the fact that we attend Sunday school and church.

Here's what this week looks like:

Monday- Leftovers

Tuesday- Baked Southwestern eggs rolls and taco salad

Wednesday- Lunch for the soldiers: Baked Ziti with salad, cookies
Dinner for small group at our house: Baked Ziti, veggie pasta bake, salad, yummy rolls, cola cake

Thursday- Southern Corn Chowder with leftover rolls,  spinach strawberry salad

Friday- Parmesan Tilapia, lemon parmesan angel hair pasta, asparagus

Saturday- Red beans and rice, fruit salad

Sunday- Eggs, bacon and biscuits

Extras- Favorite Granola, homemade lara bars

Go visit org junkie for more great menus!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Caramel Dip

I want to share a favorite recipe with you that a friend gave me when we lived in Kentucky. But before I do, you have to make me a promise. Please, please, pretty please don't think less of me when I share this recipe with you. It's bad for you. Like really bad for you. It's perplexing for me how something so good can be so bad for you. Here goes...
 Melt a stick of butter in a small sauce pan.

Add two cups of dark brown sugar to the pan and let dissolve.

Stay with me here....add one cup of corn syrup. (spray the measuring cup first)

I'm afraid to say it but you have to add sweetened condensed milk. A can of it to be exact.

Heat it over medium heat for a few minutes until it looks well mixed and smooth. Right after removing from heat, stir in a teaspoon of vanilla. 
Stir and enjoy with apples. At least you should leave the peel on the apples to get some nutrition in this dessert. 
Store leftovers in fridge. I love to stir a spoonful in my apple cider. This dip tastes so much better than the plasticky caramels that you melt.

Let's recap.
1 stick butter
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed millk
1 tsp. vanilla
Medium high heat. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Laying Down my Weapons

Stomping off, slamming doors, ugly looks, huffing and puffing. A common scene some weeks at my house. My discipline at times is meet with all the drama. There's fighting back. It's normally not the first offense nor my first correction that brings about such a struggle. I notice that it's the times where the offense was personal; messing up my newly cleaned floors, throwing my schedule off or hurting my ego in public.

I just want the behavior to change. I want the perfection that I'm guilty of expecting. The disobedience has been done, the unforgiving punishment yelled out. We've learned how to battle, throwing just the right darts. My darts can grudgingly produce a new behavior.  

But then in the quiet moments that the war is over I hear it...

{If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?}Psalm 130:2a

Have I forgotten my own vile sins?
{But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared}Psalm 130:2b

Lord, I only want her to fear you!

{For with the Lord is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption}Psalm 130:7

God, help me freely offer forgiveness.

Encouragement comes at just the right time.  Were it not for His kindness drawing me, oh the grip sin would have on me.  Were it not for His mercy, I would never have a beautiful redemption story for my own.

Oh Lord, keep me from letting my floors or my time be grounds for war;  rather lessons in repentance. I lay down my weapons and cling to your mercy.

I'm linking to Women Living Well

Menu Plan Monday

We had a great week of meals this week. Our favorite meal was our grilled chicken with Black Bean Salad and Mexican Rice. We didn't get around to Cincinnati Chili and it's probably a good thing since I will be having chili twice in one day this week. My husband starts a lunch time Bible study for soldiers so I need to make a double batch of chili for about 15. Then, we have our first small group Bible study at our house on Wednesday night that I am super excited about. That means another double batch of chili. Here's what the rest of the week looks like...
Monday- Mongolian Beef with stir fry veggies and rice

Tuesday- Egg Casserole, secret spinach smoothies, blueberry muffins

Wednesday- Chili with cornbread, cheese slices, apple slices with caramel dip

Thursday- Greek chicken pitas, sauteed green beans and greek salad

Friday- Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas with chips and salsa

Saturday- Eat out

Sunday- Crockpot Spaghetti with salad and rolls

Check out more menus at OrgJunkie

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Our Favorite Granola

My husband runs several miles each morning. Afterwards he is starving and cannot come home for breakfast since we live too far away. So each week I buy a large tub of Greek yogurt and make parfaits. The best part of a parfait is always granola. Right?! Here's a recipe that we love. After trying numerous recipes my recipe morphed into this.....
3 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup pecans
1/8 cup of coconut oil melted
1/2 cup of honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
A dash of vanilla
Sprinkle of flax seed
Mix wet ingredients and stir in dry ingredients. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, spread granola in a single layer and bake for 15 minutes @ 300 degrees. Stir and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes until done.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Get Out and ENJOY your Family

It took a long time for fall to get to where I live. The summer months were holding on for so long, cooping us up in the house or only places where there was good air conditioning. The cooler, crisp air is just begging for us to get out and enjoy it. Our family has found some activities that are budget friendly and family building.

                                                                    Photo Credit
Camping- Nothing better than the great outdoors all night long. We have recently packed up and camped overnight, cooking outside, roasting marshmallows and all.

Star gazing- A late night lying on the trampoline all bundled up helped us recognize God's marvelously created heavens.

Geo Caching- Oh my...our new love! Using our smart phone, we found coordinates in a nearby park and spent the afternoon searching for the treasure. Our little girl was so excited to sign the log book and take a small trinket.

Charades- A friend gave us a child-friendly charade game a year ago and we love sitting on the back porch taking turns acting out things like playing a guitar, buttoning a shirt and other silly things.

Getting to know the neighborhood- We have found that neighbors have been more apt to linger and talk in this cooler weather. We've taken the opportunity to offer baked goods and ask spiritual questions while our kiddo runs and plays.

What are some budget friendly, family building activities do you and your family do?

I'm linking to Finer Things Friday

Monday, October 31, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

I'm so proud, I actually stuck to my menu plan to a "tee" this past week. We had plenty of leftovers for hot lunches with a sandwich here and there. I stayed under budget for my groceries, so things are looking up in our house! Here's hoping for another great week.

Monday- Sherry chicken and mushrooms over thin spaghetti with steamed broccoli

Tuesday- Lime marinated chicken, black bean salad, Mexican rice

Wednesday- Organic Smoked Sausage, hashbrown with chopped veggies and salad

Thursday- Family night, out to eat

 Friday- Parmasean pork chops, smashed potatoes, green beans

Saturday- Leftovers

Sunday- Cincinnatii Chili with salad and rolls

Extras- Apple Pie, granola bars, freezer smoothies

Visit Org Junkie for more great Menu Plans.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Peek into our homeschooling...

I've been wanting to post about what our homeschool days look like so I can have a record for future use and to remember and cherish these days. When we adopted our daughter, she was to start kindergarten just a few months later. I knew that I wasn't ready to let her go yet and we needed some bonding time. Homeschooling seemed like a natural fit since I taught PreK- 2nd for several years.

This year for first grade we tried a classical university model school and we loved it. I became even more convinced that we made the right decision two years ago to educate classically rather than literature based or unit based. After about a month at the school we found that Angie needed to be at home and work at her own speed. We're so thankful that things have worked out like they did. We are taking it year by year.

Here's our current curriculum:

Classical Conversations- We attend every Friday and work on memorization throughout the week. Examples of our memorization is skip counting, history pegs, science facts, Biblical timeline, *Latin, grammar and geography. Oh and art and music! :)

Bible- Christian Liberty Press Studying God's Word Book B ( This is learning the catechism and Biblical truths)

Math- Saxon 1 (We love Saxon and our daughter is flying through this! I have already ordered Saxon 2)

Phonics- Explode the Code (Loving it!)

Grammar- First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind

Narration and Copy Work- Writing with Ease Workbook 1

Reading- Christian Liberty Press Phonics readers

Science Support- Answers in Genesis, The Human Body (It follows along well with CC)

Handwriting- Memoria Press Cursive

So far we have completed The Box Car Children and Heidi for our read alouds.
Most days we focus mainly on Math, Reading, Phonics and Memorization work. The other subjects fill in the days as time allows.

*Latin is always a key element in classical education. We are in the grammar stage and children in this stage can soak up raw facts and languages like crazy. We pray God would use the learning of Latin to be a springboard for other languages later on to help the spread of the gospel and allow further study of great works in the logic stage.

By no means do I have all this figured out, but I have been BLOWN AWAY by what our little girl can learn and retain. We are excited that she is being filled with wisdom from a Christian worldview so she can rightly engage our culture as she grows up.

Mexican Chicken Soup

Yum, oh, Yum! This soup was declared the best soup I ever made last night at dinner. There were seconds served up and leftovers tucked away for lunches. My chaplain wife friend Jill gave me the recipe and I think she had tweaked it some and then I tweaked it a little too.

Mexican Chicken Soup

4 cups shredded chicken

1 carton chicken stock

15 oz. can tomato sauce

taco seasoning (I make my own)

2 cans pinto beans

2 cans black beans

1 jar medium pace picante sauce

Throw it all together and let simmer for an hour or put it in the crockpot all day long. Serve with cheese quesadillas and apple slices for a well balanced meal.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

All About My Heart for Home

Welcome to My Heart for Home!

I am a happily married wife and first time momma to our little girl we adopted two years ago. We are in the process of adopting a sibling set and we're waiting on the exact ones God has for us. ( We received two phone calls about children just yesterday, so it won't be long now! :) ) My husband is an Army Chaplain and we LOVE the ministry God has called us to. He has recently taught Dave Ramsey at work and it opened our eyes to an area of sanctification that we have never thought about before with our finances.

Some weekly writings on my blog are healthful menu plans with links each monday, updates on what we do during our homeschool week, thoughts on being an Army wife, and what the Lord is teaching us through our next adoption.

I recently came back from a sabbatical of blogging so there's not a more perfect time to stop by and visit. Hope you enjoy!

Go visit Courtney over at Women Living Well and see some more blogs! Some of these ladies are right where God has called me to be and I think you will find them encouraging.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

We are finally getting into cooler weather around here and I L-O-V-E it! Cold weather means soups, pies and comfort food. Here's our menu for this week...

Monday- (company over) Lasagna, Amazing rolls, steamed broccoli and salad

Tuesday- Chicken Tortilla Soup (recipe coming this week), cheese quesadillas

Wednesday- Baked Chicken, roasted veggies, spinach salad with strawberries and walnuts

Thursday- Eat out family night or leftovers

Friday- Teriyaki grilled chicken, rice and stir fry veggies

Saturday- Hamburgers with veggies and dip

Sunday- leftovers

Extras: Pancake and sausage muffins, Pumpkin rolls for taking to neighbors and inviting them to church

Head on over to Org Junkie to see more tasty menus!
Photo Credit

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Artwork and Christmas Ideas

My little girl loves art. She is really quite talented, but then again, we are gushing first time parents.

Most recently, I picked up this book at the library and our daughter has been hard at work creating all kinds of little thumbprint animals. Here are some of her latest...

I mean, how cute are those?! ( I hope you can see them. I have a love hate relationship with my smart phone.) Wouldn't they make perfect Christmas gifts? I was thinking of making personalized note cards with little thumbprint people to represent family members. I might even send some out as our Christmas cards.

I hope to find some more frugal Christmas gift ideas. I will be sure to post them when I do. Do you have any?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My daughter received fish and a fish tank from her grandparents for her birthday. {Sigh}

These little fish have died and been replaced a plethora of times. Just last week my husband made the what seems like weekly run to the pet store to replenish our tank. I was exhausted from a busy week and adored the fact that I didn't have to go and carry that bag full of water, feeling the little creatures dart to and fro against my hand.

It seems that one detail was missed in the fish buying transaction and we somehow had a coed swim party going on in the tank. Of course, we didn't discover this until an hour after my husband left for a week long business trip.

My daughter witnessed a live fish birth and shortly after she witnessed it's fate in the large tank. This prompted crying and begging for me to save the other babies. I, of course, spent the rest of the night as a mid wife to one very pregnant fish.

Oh the things we do for our kids. I sure hope she remembers this when she's sixteen.
 (It's hard to photograph those little things! Excuse the iphone quality.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

I love posting my menus on the blog. It's a great way to look back when I need some new ideas and gives me creativity on my "blah" weeks. We have a relatively busy week but I am going to try really hard to stay on our schedule in order to come in under my grocery budget. I have my eye on a large buy in the next few months and want to have some extra cash saved up.

Monday- (Company Over) Cajun Chicken Pasta with rolls, salad and apple pie and ice cream

Tuesday- (Chaplain's Wive's Coffee, I'm hosting) Pasta Fagioli Soup with salad

Wednesday- Tilapia with rice and asparagus, fruit salad

Thursday- (Adoption meeting) Sandwiches, chips and freezer smoothies

Friday- (Camping!) Grilled Fajitas, smores

Saturday- Eat out

Sunday- Beef Daube (see photo) over egg noodles, salad

Go over to Org Junkie to see some more yummy menus!

Friday, October 14, 2011

It's been a year?!

I truly cannot believe that it has been a year since I took a break from blogging. A year? Really?! Doesn't it seem like just a few weeks ago.

One year means my baby is a year older.

One year means another deployment behind us.

One year means I am no longer a first year homeschooling mom.

One year means my once small puppy is now a large dog.

One year means it's time for another adoption...

I hope you will join me in seeing what the next year holds for our family. I'm excited to share what's on my heart, in my kitchen and on my mind.