Friday, December 31, 2010

Cheese Spread for yummy snacking

 New years eve is a big snacking time for us. We get together with a bunch of friends, play games and eat!

  This year one of the things I am planning on making (and we enjoyed last week too, on Christmas Eve) is Cheese spread on homemade flat bread. It is easy to make, tastes yummy and is a much cheaper alternative to a cheese ball or something like that.

This is how you make it....

Cheese Spread
  • 2-3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3-4 tablespoons chopped black olives.
  • one small jar of chopped pimentos.
  • enough Mayonnaise to moisten
  • a dash of spike seasoning salt (or your favorite seasoning salt)
  • a sprinkle of paprika
Mix everything together. Either serve right away or store in the fridge. It is very yummy on crackers and we like it on my homemade flat bread a lot too.

This is just another frugal alternative for all the expensive snack foods!
Check out all the other frugal ideas at Frugal Friday.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fun times at Christmas

  We had a fun and relaxing Christmas time. Ken took the day off on Christmas Eve. We had a lot of fun spending the day playing games. Ken and Jonathan wanted to play Risk and Mara and I decided to join them. Aaron and Megan opted for their own faster (Risk can be a very long game!) "Risk" game on a puzzle map.
I actually won the game of Risk for the first time ever. Ken always wins so that was quite a surprise.

Then we played "Settler's of Catan" ( a new favorite of ours) and I won that one too. A good day for winning! :-)

 That evening we went over to the home of a family from church to play broom ball. We had fun getting some good exercise in the brisk fresh air. I also spent some time inside admiring the 2 brand new babies that were there (and visiting).

  On Christmas morning we opened presents. We just exchange gifts with our immediate family and everything has to fit in a stocking- so gift opening is not an incredibly long process but we do enjoy it. (And I am again this year very happy with the way we have chosen to do things- it works well for us.)
 We "Cheated" a bit on the Lego's to make them fit. We took them out of the boxes and collapsed the boxes. They waste so much space in packaging. I had found the Lego's on sale for by one set get the other one for 1/2 price. Legos are well loved at our place and the boys were very happy with that gift.
I had fun crocheting stuff for the girls and their dolls and they seemed to really like it.
 The kids had fun watching a "Volcano" which was one of Aaron's gifts.
 I made our traditional "Vanocka Braid" bread and then we had sausage, whipped cream fruit salad and hot chocolate (stirred with a candy cane!) for breakfast.

 For lunch we headed over to my parents house. All of us but one sister and her family (who we missed!)were home this year and we had a fun time being together.

An event of the day that I found a little humorous was a brother-in-law accidentally messed up the Wi-Fi in the house. My Brother and Sister-in-Law worked hard to get it fixed. In the picture below they had things propped up in a room and working away as I think the table was being used for other things- like eating.

 It did eventually get fixed. And life could go on again. :-)
 My adorable little niece got a bath in the sink.
We had leftover potatoes from lunch and no room for them in the fridge so we made up a big batch of lefse. It was yummy.
The next day we had everybody over to our house for lunch after church.The kids had fun trying to ice skate on the snowy swamp behind our house. They had to do a lot of shoveling first. I do enjoy being able to spend time with family!

 How was your Christmas?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fixing up a skirt for Megan

As the year comes to an end (less then one week left!!) I have been thinking about things that I wanted to get done this year- my goals. There are some things that I wanted to accomplish that are still needing quite a bit of work. One of them that I have been working on some the whole year put it still needs a lot of work is my office/craft room. I had wanted to get it all organized, free of clutter and all the old projects done. Some of that has happened but it still needs a lot of work. So I decided I would devote this week to working on my office as much as possible.

 Part of working on my office is getting projects done that I had laying around in there. One of those things that was laying around in my office was this skirt that I wanted to fix up for Megan.
 It was a cute little denim skirt that someone had given us. I liked the style of it except for the length- we don't wear mini skirts around here. So I decided to fix it up.

   Megan and I looked through a bunch of our fabric last night and we finally decided on adding some pink and white check fabric to the skirt. I had thought I would add lace too but there ended up not being enough of the one I liked- so the skirt is without lace, at least for now. I do think eyelet lace would be a cute addition so I might add some later.

 I simply cut a strip of the fabric (I did have to sew two sections together as I was using up fabric scraps) the length that I wanted to add to the skirt. Then I  sewed it so it was in a loop. Then I hemmed the bottom and gathered the top. I pinned the gathered side onto the denim skirt and sewed it in place.
TA-DA! All done. It was so fast and simple and I have a little girl that is delighted with her new skirt.

 Now I am off to patch jeans. It isn't quite as exciting but I find it pretty rewarding too. I love seeing all the pants ready without holes anymore.

I am linking this up to Tea Rose Home and

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Living simply- God's way!

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands,
just as we commanded you,
so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need." 1 Thessalonians 4:11 & 12

  One of the "themes" for me this year has been simplifying. This verse reminds me of that goal in my life. This is the sort of simple life that I want!

  That is something I love about the Bible and living for God- it makes life simpler in so many ways. I don't have to make so many decisions- I just try to do what He says!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to all!

Christmas is almost over- the kids are in bed and Ken and I are relaxing but I did want to take the time to wish all of you a Merry Christmas! I hope yours was wonderful and peaceful!

   We had a fun morning at home and then spent the rest of the day at my parents with nearly all of my family (one sister and her family were missing-Wish you could have come, Martha!). Fun times of eating, visiting, game playing and lefse making. The kids and Grandpa also had fun sledding.

   So... Merry Christmas to all and to all a Goodnight!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Have a Homemade Christmas {Final Week!}

Welcome to this year's final week of Have a Handmade Christmas. We have a few things left we are working on, a few stockings that still have a tiny bit of room in them. We are looking forward to working on those projects and maybe doing a bit of baking and over all just having fun this week! We decided to take the week off from schoolwork and are trying to stay home for the most part.

This week I decided it would be fun to try a Vlog. So a couple of weeks ago after I had taught how to make centerpieces at our homeschool get-together I had Mara record this video clip to share with you. Vlogging is something new to me and I always think I look and sound a bit funny when recorded but I do think it is good to try different things every so often so here it is:

Okay, I am afraid this video is not uploading properly.... That's what sometimes happens when you try to do something new.

In case there are any other of you still busy creating and you would like to share- Please link up here!

Monday, December 20, 2010


   I think this time of year is probably when I hear the word "Peace" most often. We remember the angels saying "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased" Luke 2:14 .
and we realize the Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

  I find it a little ironic however that many times that peace is lacking at this time of year. It is so easy for us to get caught up in being busy, making sure that everything is just right. That we have done enough and do everything on our schedule. There is also that feeling that we need to buy a lot and some people go into debt at this time of year. There are more suicides at this time of year than any other. This doesn't seem very peaceful to me.

 I found it interesting to look at some of the dictionary definitions of peace: "A state of Harmony between people or groups." "Freedom from anxiety, annoyance, or other mental disturbance." "A state of tranquility or serenity." Peace is a very good thing!

Jesus does give us peace. Here are some verses where He tells us of the peace He gives to us: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." John 14:27 "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

 We don't get to chose if we live in a country that is at peace but we can allow Christ to bring peace into our lives. We can chose to live in a peaceful way. Here are some of the choices that I am striving to always make:
  • Having a right relationship with God.
  • Being at peace with those around me (no anger or bitterness).
  • Concentrating on what is really important (My relationship with God and others) and not stressing over the things that won't last for eternity (Material things).
 Are you at peace?
 I am hoping that all of us will allow Christ to bring us peace in this time of year that can sometimes be so busy!

I will leave you with this verse:
"Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you." 2 Corinthians 13:11

-I guess this post ended up being a Monday one instead of a Sunday one- I started it yesterday but it just didn't get it finished then.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Snowstorms, Swimming and Skiing

 On Saturday we headed south towards the Twin Cities. We had planned that trip for a while but then were a little uncertain if it was going to work out because there was a big snowstorm in the Cities. We delayed our departure by a few hours but then decided to go.

   We had good roads for most of the way but then we came to the metro area and could tell very well that the snow had come down heavily there! (and was still lightly falling and there was wind.) We saw cars and semi trucks just everywhere, in ditches, parked in the middle of the freeway and then filling up exits (stopped) and making them impassable- though I guess the snow had already done that! We about got stuck once but thankfully made it to our destination which was Kent and Christy's home.
  Sunday morning Church was cancelled so Kent and Christy invited Anna and Travis and Family to come join us and we had church at home. We had good time singing together. Christy and I figured out how to get the communion ready. We had brought some Matzo bread along so we didn't have to bake any unleavened bread.

 Sunday afternoon we left to head to the Wisconsin Dells and as we drove it was a regular sight to see cars like this one just abandoned all over. They had gotten stuck in the snow the day before and since then the plows had just plowed around them.
 We went with Anna and kids (Travis had planned to come but ended up having to drive a train instead) to the Wisconsin Dells water park. We met up with some of Travis' family there. (Though we didn't see a lot of Travis' sister as she had unfortunately broke her ankle (and torn tendons) before we got there and she had to be in the hospital and have surgery.

   Without Travis and Trina we sometimes had some higher child to adult ratios than would have been nice but thankfully no kids disappeared and everybody survived. One time Ken and I were walking with 8 kids down the hallway and a man stopped and wondered if they were all ours. Ken laughed afterwards and figured that I would have wished that it was so.
  One of our activities was a rubber duck race. Harrison's and Megan's ducks were among the winners. Everybody got to keep their duck so that was fun.
Mara and Margaret enjoying the wave pool.

A very very worn out Megan!

We were very blessed to be able to stay in some very nice suites thanks to Travis' parents. I was even able to get all my laundry done while we were there since there are washers and dryers in the suites. We also brought our own food along. Anna, Trina and I all planned meals and then we just took turns cooking.

We left there Tuesday evening feeling pretty tired! We stayed overnight with Christy and Kent again and then headed home early Wednesday morning.

We enjoyed being home for a bit and then on Thursday after Ken got off work he and I headed over to Duluth (the kids stayed with my Mom and Dad) to celebrate our Anniversary.
Ken had planned the trip and booked a room at a quaint little place- the Willard Munger Inn and made plans to go to Spirit Mountain Ski area. So the last two days we spent skiing.

This year we decided to buy ski gear instead of renting it. We went to a used equipment sale here in town and were able to get skis for both of us and boots for me. We did end up getting new boots for Ken and poles for both of us but still over all we were able to get everything for about a 3rd of what it was worth. We are hoping over time to be able to save money by not renting.

The view from Spirit Mt was neat. Looking other directions you could see Duluth. At night you could see all the city lights which was pretty.

My big goal was to stay warm as I really struggle with that. So today I ended up looking like a masked bandit. :-) Ken thought he might be rather nervous if someone came into his shop looking like that. It didn't look quite so out of place on the slopes though. And I did stay fairly warm! Yeah!

While I had better head to bed- I am looking forward to being at home next week, doing a bit of creating and just enjoying this season!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Have a Handmade Christmas {Week 8}

 This week I didn't have time to share any details on gifts we have been creating so I thought I would quickly share some of our decorating instead. I always have fun seeing how I can decorate frugally- usually just using evergreens (free), Pine cones (free) and wire and ribbon which I have on hand and are economical anyway. We also through little odds and ends of things that we have around the house.
 I like the way the greenery, brown pine cones and red ribbons brighten up this wall. To make a swag like that about you can just lay greenery down on a flat surface with the stems going in to the middle. Wire the stems together, cover with a bow and then wire on any pine cones that you desire.
 This vertical swag is made very similarly to the horizontal one.
 I had fun tucking these little Rudolphs that the kids made up above our sliding door.
 Mara's Rudolph got glasses.
On the piano I laid an old burlap bag and then covered it with evergreen and then added pine cones and other fun stuff.

I had a bunch of fun and am enjoying the decorations!

What have you been doing?
Please link up your Christmas projects!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fix your eyes on Jesus

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us,
let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,
who for the joy set before Him endured the cross,
despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Hebrews 12:1-3

I find this so encouraging every time I read this! Think about the situation we are in- we are in the race of our lives. We have an amazing group of spectators watching (Check out Hebrews chapter 11!) and I think they are cheering us on. However in our race it sometimes is so easy to get weighted down with problems and troubles and we so easily let sin distract us and tangle us up.

   God is saying- get rid of those weights and the snares of sin. You wouldn't run in a marathon carrying rocks would you? Why do we do it in this most important of all races?

  Instead of weights we should seek to have endurance- "Never, ever give up!"

  Jesus has already run this race and made it with flying colors- He is the One that we can look to as an example. When we look to Him other things aren't going to distract us like they did before. When we grow tired we can remember what He went through for us so that we realize that we can make it too!

  So don't lose heart! Keep running!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Willaim F. Buckley by Jeremy Lott {A Review}

William F. Buckley was a voice for Conservative people. He wrote many books, hosted a televisions show (the "Firing Line") and started and was the editor for "National Review" a conservative magazine.

 Ken has subscribed to "National Review" for quite a few years and so I was a little familiar with Bill Buckley but not too much. I took this book with me when Ken and I flew out to Washington DC (for a TEA party) in September and I started it on the way back.

  I thought that I had a very fitting beginning to reading this book as the introduction talks about the the 2010 CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) and the day before I had met and shook the hand of Mike Pence who was a great speaker there. Bill Buckley was the one who got things like CPAC started.

  I also thought it was fitting that as I started reading the book on the airplane- I looked over and saw that the guy next to me (not Ken, a guy on the other side of me) was reading the "National Review".

  As far as reading the books goes- there were parts I found very interesting and I definitely learned a lot as the author took us through the political life (with just a very small smattering of details of his family life) of Bill Buckley. I would also say however that this book was a pretty easy one to lay down. At times I had to really work at it to keep my interest up. I read it aloud to Ken some of the time and we discussed it some- so that did help. My guess is that those that aren't interested in politics won't find this very interesting. We are very into politics and still I didn't always find it interesting.

  I did get a good laugh over the story about how the Buckley family (a large,rich, catholic and conservative family growing up at the same time as the Kennedys) loved to talk politics as a family and so even the children had very strong opinions. One day when one of Bill's sisters was young she got a blue ribbon at a horse show where the then president Franklin Roosevelt was in attendance. When she saw him applauding for her she turned her head away. Later her dad asked her why she had been rude to the President her response was "I thought you didn't like him!" I think I found it extra amusing because with how much was talk politics at home with our kids I could easily (but hopefully not!) see something like that happening to us.

 I also really enjoyed what was said about Bill's mother- that her life's motto was: "never, ever to complain; because, she explained, she could never repay God the favors He had done her, no matter what tribulations she might have to suffer. " He said she firmly lived by that too. I think that is so neat because what she said is so true- it is just hard to follow through with the never, ever complaining.

 I did also really think Bill Buckley hit the nail on the head when he talked about a "Formula to perpetual grievance". That is when people start asking the government for handouts, which then of course costs more money so then taxes have to be raised, but people hate paying higher taxes, and they really don't like it when they see members of other groups benefiting more from the spoils system than they are. That sort of system will never really truly work to make a happy and prosperous nation.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Busy days are here again.

 After the election was over in November we enjoyed a very relaxing month. Our summer had been so busy it was a very, very welcome change! I had thought December might continue to be filled with days at home and not much scheduled but that isn't really happening. That is all right though, we will enjoy the busy days too!

  I realized that I hadn't written a post for a while where I just told about life- I don't know how many of you are interested in those posts but I like to have them every so often just for a journal like record. So here is a bit of what we have been up too. :-)

    Last weekend Ken had a meeting at the Mall of America (For Republican activists) so we headed down to the cities. We spent the night at my sister's home and the kids and I hung out with them. On Saturday Anna and her 4 kids, Me and my 4 kids and my friend (and Ken's cousin) Christy and her husband and their youngest 4 kids decided to take in Home Depot's free building day for kids as well as a free craft day offered at Micheal's. I think we may have looked a little overwhelming to the attendant as we walked up with our crowd of children. :-)
 After building picture frames at Home Depot we checked out their drills and some other power tools. They had them all set up in a kid friendly (?) spot and so the kids thought they would be fun to try. We tried to watch everybody carefully and we did walk away unscathed but it was a little unnerving. :-)
 At the Micheal's the project was an ornament that was painted and decorated to look like Rudolph. They turned out cute and I don't think the kids got much paint on anything but the ornament and their hands so that was good!
 We had fun looking through Hand-me-down clothes and the girls decided to model them.

Ken also went car shopping while we were down there as his work vehicle has been wearing out. He was blessed to find a very nice (used) one for less than it should have cost and he is quite happy with it. We had to drive home in separate vehicles which thankfully went all right as I really struggle with staying awake on trips of that sort.

 On Monday we celebrated my 33rd birthday. I was reminded once again of how over abundantly blessed I am. My children were very excited about my birthday coming- each working to make a gift (so there were secrets and rooms I couldn't enter before the day). Ken spoiled me as usual, as did many others. So many people remembered (cards, e-mails, phone calls, facebook!) and I feel very blessed and loved.

  On Tuesday we had our Homeschool get-together. I am hoping to write more about those some other time- but it went well and everybody had a good time. It was also a very busy day!!
 We finally got our quilts for Uganda finished and mailed off. That was a fun project and I hope they are put to good use for the little orphaned children there! Mara had actually finished hers months ago- it was mine and the boys' that were needing to be finished.

  Now for the rest of the month we have a couple more trips planned- one to Wisconsin for a short vacation with my sister Anna and her family as well as a little time spent at Christy's. Ken also has a short trip planned for our 12th Anniversary. It is a secret but I have my suspicions to both the direction we are headed and the planned activity.

  We are also still working on Christmas projects and today I hope to get more decorating done but all in all through the busyness we are trying to stay rested and at peace and I am trying to remember not to stress about the things that don't matter so much. If they get done- nice, if they don't- that's okay too.

   We are enjoying getting spend more time than normal with friends and family and are feeling very blessed. I hope you are too!


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Have a Handmade Christmas {Week 8}

 This week I thought I would show you one of the presents that Aaron has made. It is a travel game set in a tin. You can use it to play Checkers, Tic Tac Toe and 5 in a Row.

To make it you need:
  • A tin that has tops and bottoms that are big enough to play a game on.
  • Flat Glass "marbles" in two colors.
  • Magnets (we used the type that we were given with advertisements on them- we cut them up)
  • Paint
  • Hot glue
To make the set Aaron cut out magnets to fit on the back of each of the "marbles" (he did 12 of each color) and glued them on. 
Then I marked the grid for Checkers and he painted the squares red and then after that dried he painted the other ones green. This was done on the inside of the lid. We had thought about painting the top of the lid but it had a cute Christmas picture and we decided to leave it alone.

 On the inside of the tin he put dots. (At first he painted dots but they weren't in very good rows and so he painted over that and then he (with some assistance at getting them in rows) used permanent marker to make more dots. To play this each person takes turns putting down their color of piece- wherever they desire on the board- trying to get 5 in a row and also trying to keep the other person blocked.
  On the bottom of the tin he painted a tic tac toe board.

 This project took a few days simply because of paint needing to dry but it is a pretty simple project. Jonathan loves to play games so this is a gift for him.

 Do you have any other ideas for games that would work with this?

What have you been making for Christmas lately?
Please link up your projects. Please link to you specific project post and please link back to here. Thank you!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Striving towards being a Titus 2 woman.

"Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior,
not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,
so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands,
to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home,
kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God
will not be dishonored." Titus 2:3-5

   Does this verse encourage and challenge you every time you read it? It does me.

I still consider myself a  young woman but I look at the admonitions to both younger and older because I figure someday I will be an older woman and I should be getting ready for that now. This verse is so gently encouraging but there are so many great reminders in it. Here is the list that I am seeing that I need to work on:
  • Act in a way that shows reverence to God.
  • Don't Gossip.
  • Teach things that are Good.
  • Encourage others to do what is right.
  • Love my husband.
  • Listen to and obey my husband. (That's what I get out of "being subject"- what do you think?)
  • Love my children.
  • Be sensible.
  • Be pure. (In what I say, think and look at.)
  • Work at home. (I shouldn't be lazy and home is where my focus should be at this season in my life.)
  • Be kind.
With God's help we can do this!!  When we do, He will be honored. I want that in my life- I'll bet you do too.


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