11.30.2009

Giveaway - Seeds Family Music



I received this Seeds of Praise cd a couple of weeks ago in the mail and while it took a little while to adjust to the new songs we now love this cd just as much as the other two cds! I really can't rave enough about this music - catchy enough for kids and tasteful enough for adults. We really do enjoy listening to it, and the content of the songs is straight out of scripture. Love it!

Since each cd comes with two identical cds I am giving away the second cd from Seeds of Praise. Simply leave a comment letting me know you'd like to win. I will mail it to anywhere in the world, and if you have won something from me before it's ok to enter again =)

This Giveaway will end on Saturday, December 5th.

If you would like to order some of these for yourself or as Christmas gifts you can use the coupon code PJMORRIS09 to receive 20% off your order if you order through the Seeds Music Store.


11.29.2009

Christmas Ideas




A week or so ago I sat down with Paul to talk about the upcoming Christmas season. We decided on a few things that were important to us and hopefully we'll stay focused and have a memorable and peaceful holiday season. I've written them down in my Household notebook. It is nice having talked about it together and having the ideas written down.

I received December's Southern Living yesterday and it had a similar idea - pick three key words and write them down in a public place. Then when you have the opportunity to do something use those three 'ideals' to help you determine whether you should do it or not.

Our Ideal Christmas List -as it's labeled in my notebook- is:
  • peaceful
  • spent at home
  • having family and friends over
  • a lot of baking/cooking
  • creating lasting memories/traditions
As you can see it's a simple list, but it is also a very focused list for us. From that list I made a much more detailed list of activity ideas that match our Ideal list. Ideas on that list include:
  • Bake Gingerbread men
  • Read Christmas books in front of the fireplace
  • Play games in front of the fireplace
  • Put up the Christmas tree together
  • Go for a drive to look at Christmas lights
  • Eat popcorn and hot chocolate for dinner
  • Make a Christmas craft
  • Read the Christmas story
  • Make a Gingerbread house from cardboard boxes
  • Watch a movie (on the laptop) in the back of our car
  • Make 'snowmen floats' (peppermint ice cream and ginger ale)
I have set up two baskets under our Christmas tree.
The one in the top picture holds activity supplies. I thought it would be much more likely that we'll do activities if the supplies are already put together. It's obviously not holding everything we would need, however it has some fun items already, such as:
  • Nutcracker 'dolls' for when I read them that story
  • Marshmallows for the hot chocolate
  • A coloring book of the Christmas story 
  • A few different craft items



    The second basket holds all of our Christmas/winter related books - I have been scouring our local thrift store for more books to add to the collection. Most of these books have come from there. The boys favorite is a pop-up book of the angels announcing to the shepherds the birth of Jesus Christ - they love pop-up books!
    The I Spy book came from some friends and Judah is the perfect age for that book now, and it's a favorite too!





I had wanted to do a Jesse Tree this year, but I don't think we will. Instead we will just use our nativity sets to tell them the story of Christ's birth over and over again throughout the month. This morning I let them play with one of the sets - after I had told them the account of Jesus' birth, using the characters to act out the story.
While Judah was playing he said to me;
"Mommy, this wisemen is hungry. I think he wants to eat this sheep."
And then he proceeded to act out the wiseman eating the sheep.

I'd never thought of it before, but I suppose they probably did eat the sheep =)




11.27.2009

Thanksgiving Meal - Fondue



I forgot how much I love fondue - it had been exactly two years since we had made fondue - we made it Thanksgiving '07 when my parents were down visiting. This time we made it for a group of 11 and slightly tweaked the process for such a large group. Each person was given a bowl to dish the hot cheese fondue into, that way we didn't have to figure out a way to get 11 people to fit around one fondue dish!

The fondue recipe is here on my recipe blog. I doubled the recipe for our group of 11, which consisted of our two boys, three ladies and six men. There was a small amount of leftovers, so I would say doubling it for that size is about perfect!



 We borrowed two tables and all the chairs from church and since what will be our formal living room has no furniture in it yet we set up that area for our meal.

 
You can kind of get an idea of what the room looks like in the above images.

 
I saw this idea online and thought it would be a cute idea for holding some of the vegetables for the fondue. There were crayons on each end of the table for people to color while they ate.



I am really bad at remembering to take pictures of people when they are visiting. I got NONE of our guests!
But I did get a close up of the broccoli. 

We had chocolate fondue for dessert, complete with strawberries, pineapple, pretzels and angel food cake - it was delicious! My friend prepared all of the dessert fondue and I will have to get the recipe from her as it is one that is worth repeating! 

Linking up with Jen's Tasty Tuesday



11.26.2009

Joy and Thanksgiving



Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you have a wonderful day.

We're getting ready to have a crowd of friends over for a fondue dinner, complete with a chocolate fondue dessert and pumpkin pie!

11.24.2009

Copy Cat Meals



Roasted vegetables became a favorite for us when we discovered that our oven jumped to over 500F within minutes of being turned on, and that while it was useless for baking (it actually set a loaf  of bread on fire once!) it was perfect for roasting vegetables. We roasted vegetables quite often in the 6 months that we were waiting for our insurance company to repair our oven. Even though we now have a beautifully working oven we still enjoy having roasted vegetables for dinner.

I got a flier from Macaroni Grill several weeks ago that had their new dishes advertised on it - one of the new dishes being Roasted Eggplant. You got a relatively small plate of Eggplant, zucchini, squash and peppers roasted and seasoned with oil and salt for $8.99. I'll admit, the dinner tempted me and I almost asked Paul if we could plan an evening to go out to Macaroni Grill - and then I realized I could easily replicate that dinner at home - and it really was a very simple dinner to recreate at home!

While one plate at Macaroni Grill would have cost $8.99 I made it at home for all of us for about $5. The only difference with mine was that I also roasted Walnuts to go with it. And I had to wash the dishes myself.

The fliers that come in the mail with colorful images of delicious meals that are suppose to tempt me now serve a whole new purpose - inspiration for dinners at home!

11.23.2009

Little Details



It is the little things that really pull a room together and we are SO close to having our dining room and living room complete - the little things are starting to unite! Paul found the perfect vent covers - look how perfectly they match the floor coloring!

He also purchased some gorgeous outlet covers - had it been up to me I most definitely would have purchased the cheapest priced outlets - but I am so glad that he is the one who went shopping for them! I think they add so much class to the room. We'll eventually make all the sockets and switches black, but that's a down the road project.



These rooms are so, so, SO close to being finished and I can't wait to show them to you! Hopefully by the end of the week I'll have pictures to share. In the mean time this is what the rooms looked like with the previous owners belongings still in it:


 








11.22.2009

Crab Quiche and Homemade Pie Crust




We like to try new foods and about a year ago I started buying imitation crab to make crab patties for us. We all enjoy crab patties, but that was about the only thing I had ever made with crab. 
Earlier this week I had a pound of crab in the fridge, as I had planned on making more crab patties, but in a moment of daring creativity I decided to look up recipes for something other than crab cakes and I discovered this amazing Crab Quiche recipe - it was a huge hit with everyone here! It was easy to whip up and you can really do so much with it, seasoning it to your own preferences. I have posted the recipe for the crab quiche and oil pie crust on my recipe blog. It will definitely be made again for dinner soon :)


11.20.2009

Camera Love











One year ago today my beloved camera arrived in the mail! While I have dumped its name (it's simply "camera" now) we have bonded well over the past 365 days - I have used it almost every.single.day. I'm not exaggerating - I could probably count on one hand the amount of days that I haven't used it. Happy anniversary camera.

And happy anniversary mom and dad!!






11.18.2009

Thoughts By the Fire





 Last night, just before it was time to get them ready for bed, Judah asked me if he could have a glass of milk. Typically we don't give them liquids so close to bedtime as they both have the ability of soaking through their diaper, pajamas and all their bedding if they are given anything too close to bedtime. As I was about to deny his request Paul spoke up and said "Why don't we give them some milk, turn out all the lights and then sit in front of the fireplace together and watch the fire?"



So we did that. I gave them their milk while Paul turned out the lights and turned on the fireplace. I grabbed a blanket and we cuddled in next to each other while watching the dancing flames. After a few moments (after his milk was gone!) Judah said "Daddy, wanna sing a Mommy song with me?"

A "Mommy song" is his newest thing - he sits at the piano and makes up love songs to me. While he does this on his own it is greatly encouraged by Paul and he likes to ask Paul to help him sing his "Mommy songs". I simply adore his songs.

With the fire glowing Paul and Judah sat down and played the piano together while Judah sang away and Wesley danced to his hearts content - and in the midst of the beauty and warmth I was overwhelmed with thankfulness and joy. I sat watching them and thanked God for the beautiful blessings He has given to me - the little lives He has entrusted to me and the kind husband that cherishes his sons.

And while I was sitting in thankful contemplation a chain of thoughts came to me.
First, was that I was thankful for how involved Paul is with the boys. He changes their diapers. He calms their fears. He wipes away their tears. He makes up silly songs with them. He dances with them. He shoots bad guys with them. Sometimes he IS the bad guy for them to shoot. He is fully immersed in their lives.



While on that thought I suddenly, and vividly, remember many moments through the boys infancy where Paul would step in to "help" when they were overtired, upset, hungry - he had very different ideas on how things should be done with the boys and by the grace of God I bit my tongue and let him be involved and carry out his own ideas. It's not that his ideas were bad ideas they were just entirely different than how I, as a mother, would do things. Even the way he played was completely different and not how I thought a baby should be played with.

I certainly had moments of messing up and telling him he was doing it wrong and that my way was right and I constantly struggled with letting him swing the boys as high as he wanted, him introducing spicier foods to them, his thoughts on discipline, etc. It sounds silly now that those were even issues to me, but they were. When we had a difference of opinion in what to do with our boys it was my natural inclination to think I was right because I was the mom.
But I am thankful that even though it was my natural inclination God was - and still is - working in my life and He helped me to keep (most!) of my thoughts to myself and lovingly and respectfully go along with Paul's thoughts on raising our boys.

My thoughts came full circle as I realized that the cherished moment we were sharing was because Paul had suggested an idea (drink milk in front of the fire) and I had happily gone along with the idea (even though it was so close to bedtime and we try to avoid drinks then). I realized, with great joy, that when Paul suggested the milk it hadn't even crossed my mind that it was a bad idea.

My purpose in sharing this is twofold - first to encourage mothers and wives to fully embrace their husbands opinions and thoughts on how things should be done in all areas of the home, but specifically with the children - even if it is totally not how you would do it. The children - and you! - will be enormously blessed with his involvement.
Secondly it is to encourage you to continually take your struggles to the Lord and ask Him for help. Your struggles may be entirely different than mine - in fact in reading this you may think me a horrible wife for sometimes thinking that Paul's ideas might not be as good as my own when it comes to the children. But regardless, God is faithful and mighty and gracious.
 

11.17.2009

$15 Credit and Review - CSN

*Due to errors in their system CSN has had to pull the promotion and are working on getting it back up. I was told it could take as long as a couple weeks, but I will keep you posted when the deal is back up!*



When Tyler from CSN contacted me to do a post for them I was a bit leery - I had never been approached before about doing a post and I did a bit of research to check the company out.
I liked everything I saw and agreed to do the post - some tips from their writing team on Buying A New Mattress.

In exchange for posting that for them they very kindly sent me a Memory Foam Topper - we have been wanting one for ages and I have been price checking them at various stores and even though mine was a gift www.csnstores.com carries the best prices I have seen to date!

Before going any further I want to be very, very clear that just because this item was given to me CSN did not "buy" the rights to a good review from me - these opinions are true to myself and my own thoughts about the product and company.

Back to the Memory Foam Topper... I love it. Paul loves it. We are sleeping 100% better now that we have it. Now, we do have a fairly bad mattress, but the Memory Foam topper has given me the best sleep I have had in ages, from the first night I slept on it. If you aren't getting the best nights sleep I would highly recommend you get a Memory Foam Topper for your own bed - I really love getting in bed now as it is so comfortable!
Here is the Memory Foam Topper that we received: Jeffco Fibres Memory Foam Topper .

Now a bit about shopping at CSN.
One of my biggest concerns when shopping for deals online is what will the shipping and handling cost me - so many times a "great deal" isn't such a great deal because of the shipping prices. With CSN a lot of their items include free shipping - and my favorite feature is you can see which items offer free shipping when you are looking at the gallery of images as opposed to having to click each item you are interested in! Saves time and money.

While CSN does not cover shipping expenses should you need to return an item (and, in fact, if you had free shipping on the item sent to you they will deduct that from your return too) they do have a satisfaction guarantee and they give you 30 days to return the item in its original packaging in the same condition you received the item. Make sure you have researched the item you are planning on buying and know that it is exactly what you want before purchasing and then it won't be an issue that you have to pay return shipping costs!

Each item description includes a spot for people to leave a review of the specific item. From the items I looked at very few of them actually had a review, but it is a nice feature and one that, if people used, would be helpful. However it is very easy to search for product reviews by typing the full item name and "review" into your search bar so the lack of reviews available on the site isn't a very big deal.

CSN carries an enormous selection of items - from luggage to baby toys to pet supplies. They also work hard to make their prices the lowest on the web and encourage you to contact them if you find a place that carries an item cheaper.

Now for the exciting part!
CSN has extended a free $15 credit to their online store for any item of your choosing - you can get an item that is on your Christmas gift list, a serving dish that you need for your holiday meal, some new towels for your overnights guests or simply a special treat for yourself. There is no minimum purchase required and this is valid for Canadian residents too!


To get the credit CLICK HERE and fill out a simple form and start shopping! Remember to come back and share what item you picked out - I would love to know!
Happy shopping



11.16.2009

What to do with Halloween Clearance Candy










Remember what was once the Cookie Jar? I was inspired by an  idea a friend had for it - how cute would this be as a teachers gift, filled with candies, pencils and other little gifts for the teacher to keep on her desk to give out as prizes to her students? It may be too late to find Halloween candy on sale now, but I got all of the candy in the jar for $1.50 - none of it is labeled as Halloween candy.
So for $13.00 you would have a fabulous teachers gift - and it would be much, much cheaper if you made the chalkboard jar yourself!
Inspired by Brittany's comment I tried using chalkboard paint on some smaller glass containers and it totally works! (Walmart sells identical glass jars to the ones from Pier1 - minus the chalkboard paint- for about half the price.)




This picture turned out with a horrible glare, but this is five gallon bags of mini chocolate bars - all bought from the Halloween clearance cart. It's about 10lbs of chocolate and I paid about $1/lb for it. We try to keep frozen cookie dough in our freezer at all times for when we have friends over and these chocolate bars will work amazingly in cookies once we cut them up small.

11.15.2009

11.14.2009

Ornament Swap



If you live in the US and are interested in participating in an ornament swap with your kids check out THE CRAFTY CROW for details on how to sign up and be a part of this!  I am so excited about this!
If you aren't interested in participating, or can't because you live in another country, check out her website anyway, she has an incredible assortment of craft ideas - it's one of the blogs I check daily!

11.13.2009

Judah Funnies - another collection volume 2



Judah: "Mommy, can I pee on the wall?" 
Me: "Absolutely not." 
Judah: "Can I pee at the moon?"  
Me: "I would love to see how that goes for you."

 So far he hasn't attempted it, but I'm sure it's coming!! And when he does, I'll have to remember that I told him he could! :)

For weeks now Judah has been asking me various questions about what God has made.
Did God make the sky? Did God make Wezzy? Did God make airplanes?
Yesterday morning I served him banana muffins, which he had helped me make several weeks ago (they’d been stored in the freezer.)
He held up the muffin and said “Did I make this?”
I told him yes, he had.
He said matter of factly “Oh. I am God!”



It amazes me how kids connect things in their minds! He caught me so off guard with that comment that I missed the perfect teaching moment to share with him that we are made in God's image.

11.12.2009

Makeover


I am finally redoing my blog - it'll slowly be transforming over the next few days - please be patient with anything weird looking! Thanks

11.11.2009

King of the Castle


A few weeks ago I found this wooden castle set in an old box at a yard sale. I almost passed it by, but I decided to ask the old lady how much she wanted for it and when she said $3 I put the box aside to think about it while I finished browsing her stuff.

I, obviously, ended up buying it and when I got home I did was has become my customary after yard sales activity - I googled it. I was thrilled to find the KinderKram castle set selling for the sale price of $259!! Woohoo! What a deal! All of the pieces were included in the box, but two pieces do need to be fixed.

Equally as exciting were three wooden train cars I picked up for $1 total. When I googled them on a whim, not really expecting them to be worth much, I found they were worth $75!

How do parents justify spending $75 on a wooden train and then letting their toddler play with it?!

I have put those, along with other yard sale treasures, away for the boys for Christmas. In one morning I got $375 worth of toys for $4. Once I get my act together I will post pictures and prices of all their Christmas gifts - the greater majority of their gifts are from yard sale steals!

11.10.2009

All About Soup

In the last few months we have become huge fans of soup - maybe it is because we were without an oven for so long, but even now, with an oven, we love soup and have it almost weekly.

Big Lots sells Cugino's soup mix for $3 - that makes about a half gallon of soup. They also sell the larger bags, enough to make a gallon of soup, for $5.
These soups are so easy to make and are delicious on their own, but with a little extras tossed in they turn into spectacular.

Our last batch of soup was Broccoli - Paul seasoned and sauteed corn and um. Maybe onion? I'm not sure what all he does. I just enjoy eating it. Anyways, he added the seasoned corn to the soup and it was incredible.

Another thing we love doing with our soup is serving it in bread bowls. We haven't attempted to make our own yet, but we will soon. By "we" I mean Paul.

Panera Bread sells their bread bowls for under $2 - I believe it is $1.79. When we have company over and are serving soup we generally buy these bread bowls. I think they are a super cute way to eat soup.
For those with children: we have never bought the boys their own bread bowls. There is more than enough bread for them to eat ours, and they generally eat soup from a mug with a straw.


Our favorite of Cugino's soups is the Creamy Cheddar Asparagus - it is just amazing and with chunks of cheese added to it it is one of my favorite meals!

I recently bought Cugino's French Onion Soup mix and it was such a delightful fall evening meal - with toasted bread and melted cheese on top it was delicious. I have never had French Onion soup up until two weeks ago when we made this, and it was so much better than I'd ever imagined!

I managed to devote an entire post to the different soups we love and how we garnish them. Can you tell I love soup?!


What Happens When a Boy Loses His Ball...

11.09.2009

Chalkboard Cookie Jar

I found this jar at Pier1 this past week and just love it! It is on sale for $10.50 until the end of the month - they have other sizes and styles of the chalkboard glass containers too. I used it to hold some yummy chocolate chip cookies and played around with a couple different labels for it.




It is a great size to hold cookies, but would work for so many different things. It would be cute with chocolate covered pretzel rods. Or to hold an assortment of teas and hot chocolates.

Each container comes with two pieces of white chalk, which I loved as I don't have anything other than chunky pieces of chalk at the house!

I like this so much I would love to own more, but am wondering if I could make this myself? Does anyone know if chalkboard paint can go straight on glass?
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