Friday, May 29, 2009

Another May Wedding

Where does the time go? It's hard to believe that a week ago at this time, I was baking in my sister's kitchen like a crazy woman, helping prepare some of the goodies for my niece's wedding reception! (Isn't she adorable?) I'm so excited to share with you some of the marvelous items that we got to eat, see, and experience at this reception. It was amazing.

But first a little background info... My sister has a great friend named Lorraine, that moved away to Las Vegas a few years ago and started up a catering business. She has always had a knack for entertaining, so it is perfect that she is now running a successful business in which she is so talented. She was the brains behind much of what you'll see.

Now, my sisters and I are fairly simple folks---not a whole lot of fluff and frills. Not that we don't like that sort of stuff--we do! We just don't naturally think in those terms very often, (or don't have the patience sometimes to do it like that!) So, while my sister and my niece had ideas and thoughts of what they wanted, Lorraine expounded upon them, took them to the next level, and made everything just top-notch.

So, today, I'm giving you some images of the fantastic food we experienced, and letting you drool over it all during the weekend. (Wish that I could share some of the recipes with you, but unfortunately, I was sworn to secrecy by Lorraine, and later my memory was erased, so no luck! Sorry!)

Next week I'll have more on the decor and fun that we had, along with more information on Lorraine's business. Enjoy!

The evening's buffet menu:

~Grilled Teriyaki Chicken and Pineapple
~Parmesan Twice Baked Red Potatoes

~Lemon Streusel Bars
~Double Dipped Chocolate Chip Cookies (I got to make both of these, and wow--were they addictive!)

~Mini Fruit Pizzas

~Veggie Shooters with Garlic Dip

~Chocolate Trifles--Do those look incredible, or what?

~Crescent Rolls

Everything was so beautiful and delicious! Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Welcome Home" Table Runner is Now Available!

I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend! We had the opportunity to travel once again for another niece's wedding, and to spend time with extended family and friends, and it was fabulous! It was crazy too---working hard and helping prepare the last minute details for the reception, yet having a non-stop party for our whole family full of ping-pong tournaments, barbeques, take-out Chinese, and rides for the kiddies pulled by my bro in law's riding lawn mower.

Late nights and early mornings, all-day baking fests, trips to the cemetery, oh, and a wedding!....whew! I think we are all exhausted! But it was such great fun, and worth every minute.

Needless to say, my little family is now trying to recuperate, with two of the little ones sick here at home, and me facing a mountain of laundry! Uggh! So while I plan to share some amazing bits of the wedding reception and party with you all, it may have to wait for a day or two...

However, remember a few weeks ago when I shared a sneak peek of a project I was working on for You Can Quilt This? Well, it is finally finished, and the first part of it has been released. And the best news? It's all free for the taking. The project is a "Welcome Home" Table Runner, created with four different block designs---each one to be released as a Block of the Month (BOM) over the next four months. Here is this month's block:

If quilting, appliqué, or embroidery are new to you, or seem too intimidating to try, no worries. There is a section at You Can Quilt This called "Quilting 101" in which quilting vocabulary and techniques are discussed and taught in easy-to-understand terms. The talented ladies behind You Can Quilt This want you to have a positive experience with quilting! They will teach you there how to quilt your runner with your sewing machine, and how to easily add the binding to the edges. In addition, when you get to the appliqué and embroidery sections of this table runner, don't forget that there is a free eBook that will walk you through each of those embroidery stitches. And, the fact that one block design is released each month gives you plenty of time to learn about new techniques and to complete each block before the next one is available.

Everything you need to know to complete this runner is available at your fingertips. So, why not give it a try! It's so much fun, and so rewarding when you see what you are able to accomplish! Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have as you work through this pattern. I'm so happy to help, and I would love to assist you in any way I possibly can. I want you to have a great experience with this as well!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lessons Learned from Daddy's Little Helper

As we are preparing our garden spot for this year, we have decided to add rock around our garden boxes. For two nights in a row, my hubby has been shoveling truckloads of rock, and for two nights in a row, Daddy's Little Helper has been right at his side.

I find it fascinating....Mr. T (our Mr. Teenager), is too busy with a TV show, AW (our 11 year old) is too busy skateboarding, and Blondie (our 8 year old) is too busy listening to her country music cd. Granted, they've all had to help at some point in this garden-creating-process. We didn't let them all off that easily! But for the entire time my hubby was working when no one was asked to come join him, Little Missy was faithful to the end---voluntarily shoveling, raking, laughing and smiling the entire time... Just happy to be with her dad and being a part of something important. Hard work and helping someone else were the things that brought her joy in that moment.

It reminds me that there is much we can learn from our little ones.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Family Fun Night - "Four Corners"

Today I have another Family Fun Night game to share that is super easy to play, and requires no supplies, other than a large room with four corners. This was a staple in my classroom years ago when I used to teach school, and now it is a regular at our house as well. Many of you may recognize it yourselves. It's simply called "Four Corners". The object is to be the last remaining family member that does not get called out. Let me explain...

First, designate each corner of the room with a number. It's easiest to start in a main corner, and number them clockwise. Be sure every family member can remember which corner is which.

Next, choose one person to be "It". He or she sits somewhere near the center of the room with eyes closed (we make our family members put their heads down on the couch or the nearby stairs--no peeking!) That person counts to 10 while the other family members quietly sneak to any corner to stand in. Whatever corner you are standing in when "It" gets to number "10" is where you have to remain standing! When the person who is "It" finishes counting (and with eyes still closed!), he or she calls out one corner number: 1,2,3, or 4. If you are standing in that particular corner, you are out.

Counting by "It" then resumes and the rounds continue until there is one last person remaining. The last person in, wins! At that point, that person becomes the new "It", and the game starts over with everyone playing again.

Like I said, super simple to play, but lots of fun!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The 5K Update!

Well, I have to give you an update on my 5K experience. I learned that being in the 40 and older category has its benefits! I have no idea how many women in my age group ran---it could have been 3, it could have been 300 (that's the one I'm going with). But to my great amazement, I won second place! Who knew? My good friend and neighbor took the first place spot, (you rock, Susan!) and we had a fun and encouraging run after some initial, friendly trash-talking.

And my little guy? He left me in the dust as I knew he would, and he took 3rd place in his division. He was thrilled.

So, my cramming pulled through for me, and my kiddo and I had a great and memorable experience together. As he received his medal, it warmed my heart to see him achieve a goal that he had set. And then to hear him cheering so loudly for me when I received mine, was icing on the cake. We made a great team. I think I might have running fever. But then again... maybe not. We'll see how I feel next week!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cramming for a 5K!

When I was in college, my M.O. for study seemed to be "cram". Not that I didn't like studying. I actually loved college and learning, and everything about my experience. But that was just it. There was so much to do and experience, so much fun to be had, and so much to learn, that "cramming" seemed to be the only way to fit in everything I wanted to experience!

Well, now that I'm a middle-aged mom (ouch, it hurts to say it), "cramming" still seems to be the way I do things at times. Again, not that I necessarily want to put things off...there's just so much I still want to do and experience, and so much to do as a wife, mom, and person of my own, and fitting it all in sometimes requires "cramming!"

Case in point: Tonight I'm running a 5K with my 11 year old son. Each year our elementary school sponsors a fundraiser/5K to earn money for the school while promoting healthy lifestyle habits. I think it's a great event. In addition, the kids in the school get to enter a contest to help design the T-Shirt, and the winner's design is printed on the front.

In years past, I've had a toddler to worry about while the other kids were running, so I've always walked the 5K while pushing a stroller. But this year, only my 11 year old and I are signed up, and my hubby will be available to watch the younger kids.... So about 6 weeks ago, or so, I decided this year I was going to actually "run" the 5K, but didn't get serious about it until, oh, 3 weeks ago. Whoops. Now, I've run before, but you know, like 20 years ago in college when I thought "walking" was a sissy form of exercise. Hmmm...aging has taught me a thing or two about that misconception.

Anyhoo, it will be a fun experience if nothing else, and has given me a goal to shoot for. Above everything, it has been great training (er...cramming) and having a common interest with, and reason to spend time with my kiddo. He leaves me in the dust, and is pumped for the race, hoping for a repeat performance of his division win last year.

If any of you are looking to train for a 5K, there are loads of training programs out there, but one that I wished I would have followed a bit earlier is this one. It makes good sense to me, and seams easy to follow. (Sigh...) Next year.
I'll let you know how it goes---wish me luck! (And, no. lol. That isn't a photo of me running.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Wedding and Oreo Truffles

Two things this morning...First, I recently returned from a fabulous weekend spent with my family. It was such a boost for me to be around my sisters and brother--I miss living near them so much! My sister's daughter got married on Saturday, and as most weddings are, it was beautiful! The weather was lovely for the outdoor wedding and reception, and it all came off without a hitch. (In the photo above, the bishop appears to be eating a cookie or something...he's actually holding his lapel mike closer to his mouth so we can all hear him!)

The wedding colors were black, royal blue, and silver, and the dessert table was amazing...silver trays and crystal displays filled with cakes, cheesecakes, fruit, and truffles, along with a variety of huge apothecary jars filled with candies in matching wedding colors: Almond Joy, mini Peppermint Patties, mini Milky way, Jelly Bellies, blue-wrapped Kisses, M & M's, and white chocolate-covered popcorn.

There were baggies available for filling up whatever and how ever many candies you wanted, and of course plates for your choice of desserts. It was so fun! I made nearly 200 Oreo truffles for the event, and they looked festive in their individual candy cups, and were a hit with my extended family that had never tried them before!

...Which brings me to my second item this morning. If you have never visited Your Home Based Mom before, you seriously need to make a habit of it! Her blog is where I discovered the recipe for the Oreo Truffles. Every other recipe I've tried of hers is fabulous as well. She takes beautiful pictures, and I love checking in with her to see what new entertaining item or recipe she has to offer.

One thing I love about these Oreo Truffles is that they are sooo simple to make, and yet so unique. My own little family can't get enough of them, and I was slightly embarrassed as I noticed from afar (I was working in the kitchen) that my two boys each had plates stacked with about 8 of them at the reception. (Apparently we need some etiquette lessons in the near future!) So anyway, here is the recipe. I really think you are going to love them!

Oreo Truffles
1 package Oreo Cookies (Leigh Anne says the off brands work well too)
1 8 oz. package cream cheese (softened)

Directions: Remove 9 Oreos from the package and crush in a blender, white stuff and all, to a powdery consistency. Set aside.

Crush remaining Oreos, and place in mix master. Add softened cream cheese and blend together with the whisk attachment.

Using a small scoop, (I used a 1 1/4" Pampered Chef scoop) measure out a small amount, roll into a ball, and then roll in the crushed Oreo crumbs. You want them to be bite-sized. Each batch makes 35 to 45-ish truffles, depending on the size of your scoop. I also rolled some of them in granulated sugar for variety, but everyone seemed to prefer the Oreo crumbs instead.

Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight before serving (this really is important, as they don't taste as good at room temp. Not sure why!). And, I froze my batches ahead of time, and they were just perfect! Enjoy these yummy truffles and check out the other amazing recipes Leigh Anne has to offer!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Top Five Reasons I Love Stitching; Free Project and Tutorial!

The Top 5 Reasons I Love Stitching:

1. It's a relatively inexpensive hobby. Only a few dollars for a hoop, a needle, some fabric and floss, and I'm set. My husband loves that too.

2. It's portable--I can tuck it in my bag, and pull it out while waiting at the doctor's office, or on long car rides.

3. It illiminates guilt. I can sit down guilt-free, and watch my favorite shows or movies, and stitch while doing so. I'm still productive while vegging, and it's relaxing, too!

4. It's an art that I can hand down to my children, and anyone can do it (yes, anyone!).

5. When given as a gift, it truly says, "I love you." Don't you love receiving gifts that are hand-made? I sure do.

If you are new to the world of stitching, I have a free download that will teach you several basic embroidery stitches, and provide you with the free project shown here (the project is great for those experienced as well!). When you have completed stitching it, it will fit perfectly into a 5x7 frame, and will be ready to give away or keep for yourself! Be sure to holler if you have any questions I can help you with. I want you to enjoy stitching as much as I do! Good luck with your free project!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bath Salts for Mother's Day (or Any Day!)

I remembered again, as I was bustling around yesterday, that we didn't have something yet for our step-Grandma for Mother's Day! We're also spending the holiday with some of my sisters, and I wanted to take them a little something. My daughter recently went to a "Spa Party" for a friend's birthday, and came home with a few bags of yummy smelling bath salts. Somehow, however, I forgot that they were hers (just another sign that my brain is officially mush and I am getting OLD), and accidentally used them in her little sister's bath. Oh, boy, was she unhappy with me! Anyway, I had promised her we would make more, and that I would get the recipe from her friend's mom. We decided to make a big batch--some to give away, and some for the girls to keep, and now hopefully, everyone will be happy!

So, if you need a last minute, homemade gift, this one is super easy, fast, economical, and the kids love helping to make it! Here's the recipe:

2 c. Epsom salts or Dead Sea Salts (I used the Epsom)
2 tsp. Baking soda
10-12 drops essential oils in whatever flavor you'd like!
5-6 drops of food coloring (now my friend said that some places she had read said that coloring can stain your towels or tub--just be aware of that, and don't use it if it makes you nervous. I guess we're really living on the edge at our house!)

We mixed it all up, then put it all in empty jars I had in the basement. We covered the lids with fabric, then tied a ribbon on each with a little note. I might even head over to the dollar store today for some loofah sponges to go with them.

Now, if you want my little poem, you are welcome to scanner is not working, so I can either email you the pdf (let me know in a comment), or you can just copy it from here. I'll admit, it's a bit cheesy, and will never win any poetry awards, but hey...if your brain is as mushy as mine, at least you won't have to think it up yourself!

Here it is:

"Here's a little something, to brighten up your day...
It's sure to help you just relax, and float your troubles away!
You always do so much for us, you go the extra mile.
You love us and take care of us, and always have a smile.
So here's to you this special day, we think you are the best!
We love you and adore you. Now go relax and rest!"

Now, one more thing. Leigh Anne, over at Your Home Based Mom (one of my favorite blogs!) is hosting a fantastic Mother's Day Give-Away. Hurry on over there and leave a comment for a chance to win some beautiful jewelry!

Well, friends, I hope you all have a lovely weekend, and a Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Things I Learned from My Mother

Mother's Day is just around the corner. This year's date happens to be an interesting one in our household. It's another Mother's Day that finds my hubby and I both Mother-less, as both have passed away, and May 10 happens to be the 5 year mark of the passing of my hubby's mother. (We are grateful, however for a step-mother who is a sweet and lovely woman and Grandma to our kids!) Yet, it is a bitter-sweet day ahead, as we think of, and honor our mothers, yet mourn their passing, and miss them terribly.

I have read a few blogs recently that highlighted things other gals have learned from their mothers. Naturally, my thoughts drifted toward my own mother, as I began to ponder what I had gleaned from her during her lifetime. As my own life gets so busy, I find that I don't reflect on some of those things as often as I need to, and as I'd like.

So, while each of you are welcome and invited to join with me as I reflect, I am realizing that this post is mainly for my benefit, and I hope you won't be too bored with the details...(I did whittle the list from 32 to 17!) Writing these thoughts gives them validity and makes them concrete--rather than fuzzy memories floating through my mind. It also reminds me of how lucky, blessed, and loved I was to be given such a beautiful woman for a mother. (Isn't her photo lovely? It's my favorite).

I invite each of you to do the same for your mothers--especially if they are living, and can appreciate it fully! You can also visit here for more inspirational Mother Tributes.

Things I Learned from My Mother:

1. We really do become our mothers. I see the things that are important to me now as a mom, are many that were important to her--even the things she never "taught" me, but things I picked up from just being around her. A good reminder for myself that my daughters are always watching...

2. God is real, He keeps His promises, prayers are answered, and reading the scriptures brings peace.

3. To love our country. Mom taught us that our civic duty was to always vote and be involved in politics, and she was.

4. Family night and reunions are priorities.

5. Cooking, sewing, public speaking, and poise. From the time I was 9, she held 4-H classes for me and my friends every summer up until I graduated from High School. She made us give demonstrations to each other weekly on cooking and sewing topics. Then over the course of the summer, we sewed an item of clothing that was to be entered into the county fair for judging, AND had to model it (that was, at times, humiliating!). I have ripped out so many sewing seams over the years that were not up to her standards, but in the end of course, I am grateful.

6. How to lead music. I never realized what a blessing that would be. I watched her lead music all my growing up years, and now I've led for the children and women's organizations in my church, and have loved it.

7. To love Dance. She had a dance studio in her home before I was born, and gave all of us girls the love of dance. (I truly think she sort of wished we were like the Osmond's, and could sing and entertain, as she ALWAYS wanted us to sing anytime we got together, and none of us wanted to!) So we joked with her later that our music was in our feet, because whenever we sisters got together, we danced instead of sang!

8. To exercise. I remember as a tot exercising with her to Jack LaLane on the T.V. (Funny!) She always tried to get a walk in daily, and now, so do I.

9. To take care of our health. Oh, my, was she health-conscious! We rarely (maybe even never) had white bread in the house growing up. Always her homemade whole wheat. And, she often had a home remedy for what ailed us, although we were really very healthy most of the time.

10. How to do laundry and clean house. Those darn Saturday chores never went away, and my kids whine about the same thing.

11. How to plant a garden and weed it. Ughh! How I hated weeding...but who doesn't, right?

12. If a mom stays up all night, new Easter dresses magically appear the next morning!

13. Creating limericks on a long car ride can really pass the time quickly.

14. If you put your shoes under the Christmas tree, the New Year's Elf fills your shoes up with goodies on New Year's Eve.

15. You can NEVER take too many pictures of an event!

16. Lilacs really are one of life's greatest fragrances.

17. To always keep learning and improving yourself. I always saw her reading books to improve her skills, her relations, her health, and to help have a happy, functioning family.

Mom truly molded me into who I am. I miss her daily, and love her dearly. Happy Mother's Day to all of you!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Family Fun Night

Aahh, Family Fun Night...that special night of the week where families fight mercilessly, or where (hopefully) some fun is had and sibling bonds are created. We're about 50/50 on that scale!

For today, I thought I'd share a fun game that our family has loved over the years. Remember the PBS show, "Zoom?" (I loved that show as a kid) I'm pretty sure that's where we first learned this game. Our family simply calls it "The Sock Game".

To play, each person needs to be wearing a pair of pants with two back pockets, and have a pair of long socks in his or her possession. We found that Dad's suit socks (much to his dismay) work the best. Each player puts one sock in each of his back pockets, so one end is hanging out.

The goal of the game is to steal everyone else's socks out of their pockets while trying to protect your own (but you can't hold on to your own), all the while moving only on your hands and knees. (You can see in the photo that Little Missy happens to be cheating by standing up. We did cut her some slack since she was only 4 at the time!) When both of your socks have been stolen, you are out, and the last remaining player with at least one sock wins! Move the furniture and get ready for a little craziness, because it gets a little heated and lively, but it's great fun!

We're always on the hunt for a new game or activity. Do you have any family favorites? Leave me a message, or send me an email if it takes a bit to describe it, and we'll give it a try! Happy Family Night!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Fablehaven Fever

Have you caught it yet? It's alive and thriving at our house...we're talking "Fablehaven Fever" here.

Brandon Mull is a fairly new and upcoming author, and is gaining momentum in the world of children's literature. His Fablehaven series is hooking new readers right and left! My kidlets were introduced to his books a year ago, and my 5th grader, especially has caught the fever. We had the opportunity just recently to meet him for the second time, and he is just the nicest, most down-to-earth guy with a fantastic imagination! (We got to participate in a book signing in THE cutest book store I've ever been to, called "All Tucked In". I felt like I had walked into the movie set of, "You've Got Mail".) You can see in the photo, that we were in a bit of a hurry to snap the shot, and Little Missy wasn't cooperating so much, which is why her head got cut off. (My chidlers are those on the left, and our neighbor friend on the right.)

But, anyway, if you have reluctant (or avid) readers in your house, or you're just up for some fun reading for yourself (I love a good escape from reality now and then, don't you?), I highly recommend his books! Just when I can't imagine how anyone else can create a story line with magic, mythical creatures, and good vs. evil, I am surprised again.

My great friend and comrade, Kris, over at JesseKate Designs, actually blogged about Brandon Mull this week as well (I guess our great minds are thinking alike this week! lol) and she had the opportunity to attend a writer's conference with her daughter and heard him speak. She shared with us his 5 secrets for becoming an author. Click HERE to read what she had to say. It's great information for our kiddos, but applicable to us all! (Her site is darling, by the way, and chuck full of fun info. You will love it!)

So, it's a rainy day here in my neck of the woods...perfect for getting lost in a book! What books do you love in your family?

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