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