We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hope Through It All

 I Peter 1:3-9.
Verse 5 encourages me to remember to have faith. Because God has already provided a way for me to be saved from all these troubles. I just have to endure the trial first. But even in the worst of it, I am kept by the power of God.
Nothing else is as amazing as that knowledge. To know that these worries and this emotional pain will eventually cease. That no matter the intensity, it is all temporary and in the end God will work it out for good.

Peter also says in verse 7 that as a believer, my faith is counted as much more precious than gold because it will not perish like every costly earthly thing.

Verse 8 describes my relationship with Christ. I haven't met Him, but I love Him.
I love my Savior with all my heart because He continues to be faithful even when I forget to nurture my walk with Him. However, when I continually seek Him out and strive to be more like Him, He blesses beyond compare. He promises throughout the Bible that He will never forsake me and I've found that to be true.

I cannot see Him, but I believe in Him and because of that I can be joyful even when life doesn't hold much reason for it.

So in slowly reading through these verses I am realizing that even when it doesn't seem like it, there is hope. I can't trust my emotions right now. I have to hold onto God's Word and the hope it gives. My Lord has promised to bring me through every trial with a joyous heart if I choose to look at it through faith. And when all trials are over I can be sure of complete happiness in eternity with Him.

Lord, I want to be used of You, even when life is bleak. Lately, my heart feels as if it has been broken over and over again, but when I stop wallowing in the pain, I can still look up and find You there. Thank You, Father, for always being good! And for Your continued faithfulness that teaches me to be constant to You. God is holy and mighty, my Rock and my Deliverer; and He is always worthy of praise.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Woman After God's Own Heart

I'm going through a major trial. God has never been more real and I have never felt so broken. The only thing that keeps me from giving up and giving in to despair is God's grace. I hold to His Word and His promises because I feel like my life depends on it. I am choosing not to share the nature of this trial, but I needed a way to vent and this blog has always been the place I have been brutally honest about myself.

I'm going through a book that is part of the study "A Woman After God's Own Heart". I will be writing my thoughts as I complete each day's devotion.

I Peter 1:1-2
"1.Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,
2.Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you and peace, be multiplied."

Because it was written during a time when the early church was being persecuted, that passage shows me that trials will always be a part of life. Also, it promises hope through the darkest times because of my salvation.

 I see through Peter's writing that I am chosen and cherished by God and can I tell you just how much that comforts me right now? Because of this situation, I struggle with thoughts of worthlessness, but when I take the time to soak in the Bible, I see that I am far from worthless in God's eyes.

The last sentence of verse 2 encourages my heart in the middle of the tears and heart ache and doubt.  
"Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."
Because I am a daughter of God I am promised grace and peace! Those are two of the things I desperately need right now. I'm so thankful that I can pray for grace and peace. And I'm confident that because God has promised, I will receive them every time.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tutorial Tuesday: S'mores Preparation

We're planning on having Christmas Eve S'mores, and I had an idea that would allow us to cut down a bit on our larger than usual grocery bill. You know how it is, when there's a holiday dinner to be planned, ya splurge a little. I'm so happy we'll be having a 'splurgy' dinner, but I also don't mind saving a bit too ;-)

So when we went to pick up our groceries I was excited to see a flavor of Graham crackers I hadn't tried before: Cinnamon. They look the same except topped with cinnamon sugar. Yum! So we grabbed that for our S'mores and were about to pick up some chocolate bars when inspiration hit. I was having trouble finding some chocolate that hadn't been made on the same equipment as chocolate with nuts in it and then I remembered I had a bag of nut free chocolate melts at home. Y'know the kind, you melt 'em down and then pour them into molds for pretty shapes without having to temper the chocolate? Well, we came home with our Grahams and large marshmallows and today I 'tweaked' the crackers to make them ready for Christmas Eve.

Two ingredients: crackers and melts. Add melts into a bowl and microwave, following directions until chocolate is a smooth liquid.

While chocolate is melting, break graham crackers in half.
Baby Boy was very insistent on his truck helping by holding down the wax paper.

"Butter" crackers with melted chocolate and let cool.

Oh yeah, we didn't waste any :)

After they were fully cooled, here they are all bagged up and ready for some roasted marshmallows :) Ah, I love using what I have! It makes life more fun.

Wishing you lots of delicious holiday goodness!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lots To Do

Company arrives in a few days and there's so much to do!

There are several presents that have arrived in the mail that still need to be wrapped. It seems like we've been waiting forever for the last of the presents we ordered and then they all came at once. There's heaps of laundry to be done, a ton of organizing, cleaning and making things shiny and ready. Along with the last minute holiday preparations for the food and fixing dinners between now and Christmas, I feel just a little bit overwhelmed. So, I'm trying to play Flylady Bingo and get the chores done 15 minutes at a time. We'll see.

If you're a terrible procrastinator like me and have miles to go before making your home holiday ready, you can click here to like Flylady on Facebook and then click here for the instructions on how to play Bingo. It makes cleaning a little easier for me on most days.

Hope everyone's further along in their holiday preparations!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sugar Cookie Countdown Chain

I wanted to make an advent calendar for Christmas, but Hubby got me a perfectly cute one last week, so that was covered.

Then I made too many sugar cookies the other day and realized after stuffing the stockings and sharing some, we could use them to count down for another event. We have been building up the excitement for Baby Boy because his Nana is spending Christmas with us. She arrives a few days before Christmas, so I made an angel cookie chain to help Baby Boy keep track of when we get to see her.

I want to remember this and make it our advent calendar next year! It's really cute and a fun way for kids to look forward to counting down.

Here's how the chain was made:

Lay out as many cookies as days down the center of a long strip of plastic wrap.
Be sure to leave a bit of room between them so they can be tied off.
I have the cookies face down so the folds of the plastic wrap will be in the back.

Fold one side, then the other of the plastic wrap to seal the cookies in.
You can tape it shut, but the wrap clings to itself so I left it.

Using a simple knot, tie one end off. Make sure it's secure! I tied it several times and left the ends long.
Work your way up the chain, tying between each cookie.
Slide a scissors blade across the ribbon strands to curl and voila!

Make a loop at the top for hanging.
Baby Boy loved holding it while I explained what it was for.

Then we hung it with our advent calendar so we can move the snowflake marker to count down to Jesus' birthday, and snip off the daily cookie to count down to Nana's arrival.

I would love to make one of these chains for the entire month of December next year!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Visions of Sugar Cookies

Major sugar cookie craving hit the other night and I ended up making over a hundred. I know.

Then nearly sprained my wrists trying to ice them all with melted chocolate.

I finally gave up on the chocolate and realized that oddly, all the un-iced ones were angels. There are a bunch of chocolate covered angels because I happily stamped tons of them out of the dough thinking it would be cute. Y'know, the host of angels that announced Jesus' birth? Well, iced or not, they are sugary and delicious!

Some close ups of the chocolate covered ones.


So I bagged them up and stuffed our stockings with 'em, shared some with friends and still had enough to leave on the cake plate for daily munching. Baby Boy is very happy :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Village

Since we've been married, I've collected light up Christmas village items. Our collection is still small, but I still love the thrill of setting it up and turning the lights on.

It all started our first year of marriage when Hubby wistfully remarked that he would someday like to have a little Christmas village display of his own. We were browsing a huge department store at the time and they had a gorgeous, sprawling village set up at the front of their Christmas section. So that year I bought the only thing our modest budget could afford. A blanket of "snow" that our future village would sit on.

The next year my sister gave us a beautiful miniature toy shop, complete with gorgeous detail and a back lit window display of toys and cute teddy bears careening in glee down a slide attached to the shop.

The year after that I bought a pair of battery operated mini street lanterns at Goodwill and would spend long trips gazing at the little villages they had for sale, but knew I couldn't buy them that year. One day, a few weeks before Christmas, I went back to look at the villages again and the Goodwill ladies called me aside. One of them said "You shop here a lot and are always so sweet to us. You never throw a fit if we can't find what you want and always have something nice to say. We've seen you looking at the Christmas villages for a few weeks and a few of us decided we wanted to give you these. Merry Christmas, hon."
She reached behind the counter and pulled out a plastic bag with some mysterious bundles in it. The newspaper wrapping on the items couldn't disguise the fact that they clinked a little as I took the bag from her. I said, "No way...", as I unwrapped the nearest bundle. The three of them watched me smilingly, and I nearly broke into tears when I saw that I held a beautiful little country church with a light dusting of snow. It was part of a light up set. I followed the wires connecting the bundles and found that the bag held two more adorable light up buildings: a bakery and a house. They all looked so wintery and Christmas cozy and well... just perfect. After telling them I loved the gifts but couldn't accept them, and being lovingly threatened by the sweet ladies, I hugged them all and left with a full bag and an even fuller heart.

That same year, I was surprised with some Christmas money from some wonderful relatives and decided to make use of a coupon and sale going on at JoAnn's crafts. I was tickled pink to find an amazing deal on a large light up church and some people and trees to populate our village with!

So that's our Christmas village story. The buildings are mismatched and out of scale, and while we'd like to add to them, I would never get rid of any of the misfit originals. I think they're beautiful. And this year it's even more special because we get to see it through Baby Boy's eyes. The wonder and curiosity behind his gaze as he scrutinizes the little village and it's populace adds to the Christmas feeling in our little home.

In order of acquisition:
Toy shop

Country church



Bigger church. What village only has one church, right?

A few of our villagers relaxing after some toy shopping :)

And here it is in all it's shining glory.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ornament Bling on a Mirror

I was inspired by this ornament 'curtain'.
This thrifted mirror has been sitting in a corner since I bought it because I couldn't find the right place for it. I love the frame, and thought it would look great outside, but then thought better of leaving something breakable in our outdoor sitting area.

I really like it this way :)

Baby Boy nods his head when he passes it saying "Niiiiice balloons, Mama."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Snapfish 50 FREE Prints w/ FREE Shipping

Hip2Save posted another deal earlier that I just couldn't afford to miss! Check out her post here.

I ended up with 100 free prints for $2.55!

I was immediately credited for 50 prints because it was my first time signing up on Snapfish. Sweet bonus!
Once I saw that, I uploaded 50 more photos because I figured I should take advantage of the deal. 
I used the promo code HPINK50 (suggested by Hip2Save) to get my other 50 prints free as well.

Here's my order summary:

37  4x6 print(s) 3.33

63  4x5.3 trueDigital print(s) 5.67

50  Credit 4x6 print(s) -4.50

cost of prints: 4.50
HPINK50: -4.50

subtotal: 0.00
standard S&H: 5.89
MO sales tax: 0.10

total: 2.55

So if you're new to Snapfish like me, you can pay less than $5 for 100 prints, depending on tax where you live.

Or just stick with the original plan and get 50 free prints with free shipping by using Promo code HPINK50.

Cardboard Tube Flower Wreath

So I had a bunch of these. Yes, those are empty toilet paper tubes.

As one of my oldest, dearest friends asked, "Why are you using those?"
And I answered what seems to be a running theme for my frugal crafting: "Because I've already paid for it!"
I used to be the girl who saved up to buy cardboard/chipboard/construction paper from a craft store for my projects, not realizing that many of those items formed the packaging of things I normally buy.
I just hate to waste packaging. Now, if it can be recreated into something beautiful or functional, I'll use it.

Anyway, I had the tubes, but hadn't figured out what to do with them. Until looking at different wreaths people are making out of unusual materials.

Then all it took was cutting up the tubes into 1/4 inch crosswise pieces and hot gluing them together in flower shapes. Some more hot glue to attach them in a circle and soon I had a wreath. I hoped to paint it silver, but the weather hasn't allowed it. And since I don't have a garage, it's had to stay as is.

I'm itching to slap a big bow on it but am trying to enjoy the minimalism for now
It's starting to grow on me, though, and I think it will serve as a pretty frame for the Christmas cards from friends and family. We received our first two cards! Which means, I'm late in sending mine out. Ah well. Now I have a project to work on tonight :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Anyone Else Having Trouble Uploading Photos?

Blogger gives me an error message saying my storage is full. So, I've just upgraded to more Picasa storage and it will take 24 hours to register. Lovely. Toodles until then.

Salt Dough Snowmen Are Up!

View as you walk into Baby Boy's room. He's tickled silly to have them on his wall.

I'm so happy he loves them so much!

Thomas & Friends Playset $10

Thanks Hip2Save.com for another awesome deal!

Just bought this and finished up my Christmas shopping for Baby Boy!

Walmart.com has Thomas & Friends Playset Orig: $24.75 on ROLLBACK for : $10!

Choose site to store shipping for FREE shipping to your local Walmart store.

Homemade Holiday Spice Mocha

Our Christmas countdown is quickly turning into the Twelve Days of Coffee. And I'm not complaining :)

Today, I woke to find my sweet Hubby had left half a pot of coffee for me. YES! I love my coffee and appreciated the thought, but I couldn't help being a little bummed because I had been walking to the kitchen with visions of different spice combos to sprinkle into my coffee grounds that morning.
Then inspiration hit and I am now completely content as I sip on my Holiday Spice Mocha while Baby Boy watches his morning cartoons.

Here's the non-recipe:

Homemade Holiday Spice Mocha
Powdered hot chocolate
Whipped cream

-Pour a mug of freshly brewed coffee.
-Add powdered hot chocolate to taste and sugar if needed. I added a BUNCH of hot chocolate because it smelled so good!
-Sprinkle nutmeg and cinnamon to taste. Stir well.
-Top with a dollop of whipped topping and sprinkle a little nutmeg and cinnamon on that as well.

Enjoy your rich cup of homemade mocha :)

Check out my Homemade Vanilla Pumpkin Spice Coffee recipe.

Homemade Salt Dough Ornaments

Baby Boy and I made some salt dough for the first time. I'm hoping that we can continue the crafts we've done as yearly traditions, because they're so much fun and are so personal.

I wanted to try colors so I cut the dough in half and added blue to one, leaving the other the normal dough color.

A crafter's battle scars

Here are some shapes I made to test the recipe.

I've never used salt dough before, so I wasn't prepared for the porous look after baking. Didn't really care for it.

For the actual batch I decided to coat my shapes with egg wash to give them what I hoped would be a rustic, antiqued look.

Toa's huge little hand

They came out darker than I wanted, and they puffed unevenly, but still looked kind of charming.
We ended up with 6 snowmen ornaments and Baby Boy's handprint ornament, which I've been meaning to make. Just need to write the year on the back and it will be a little keepsake to bring out year after year.


Cook time: 40 min per batch at 400 degrees.

For now, you still have time to make some ornaments of your own! So here's the recipe that I found earlier this year and I wish I could remember where I got it from.

Salt Bread Dough

¼ Cup Salt

½ Cup Boiling Water

1 Cup All-Purpose Flour

¼ Teaspoon Vegetable Oil

Food Coloring (optional)
Pour boiling water in a bowl and add salt. Add remaining ingredients. Knead dough to desired consistency for crafting. If coloring dough with food coloring, work it uniformly into the dough as you knead the craft dough. Keep slat dough wrapped in plastic when not in use.

Model Dough as desired. It may be helpful to keep a bowl of water nearby while crafting to smooth dough and attach pieces.

Bake at 300 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes. Ornaments will puff a little when baked.

Completed ornaments may be painted, or brush with beaten egg and water mixture prior to baking or a darkened, shiny appearance.

A benefit of making Christmas ornaments with salt dough is that it can be colored with food coloring when it is made, and so does not have to be painted when it is finished. On the other hand, if you enjoy painting your Christmas ornaments, salt craft dough can be made plain and painted when it is dry. Salt dough is easy to work with and makes a lot of inexpensive Christmas decorations.

When crafting your Christmas ornament from salt craft dough, you may choose to cut the craft dough with cookie cutters or go for a more personal keepsake Christmas decoration. This salt dough recipe works well for baking handprint keepsakes; make handprint plaques, or with little hands, make a handprint Christmas ornament that can hang from the tree.

Now if only I could figure out where to put them. Baby Boy loves the way they look so I'd love to place them somewhere he can enjoy seeing them. Have fun decorating!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Manly Stocking Stuffer- FREE Spinner Ring

Thanks, Hip2Save for making me aware of this awesome deal!

Tanga is offering a stainless steel spinner ring for $0.00. Valued at $59.95!
Just pay $4.99 shipping for a sweet little stocking stuffer for a wonderful guy in your life :)

Start Swagging!

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