Friday, December 20, 2013

Faith-filled Friday: NEW HOUSE

Hi All,

We sign all the papers for our new house today.

"This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

I can't think of any better passage for today.

NOTE: There may be a hiatus on the blog while we unpack!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Virtual Running Date No. 35: COOKIES!

Hello Crushers!

If today was a virtual running date, I'd tell you that today's post is going to be short and sweet. There is a lot going on because it's MOVING WEEK! We close on our house on Friday, so we can go back to having our own space and Mom and Dad can kick us out of their house. As nice as it has been to be close to family for the past month, it's really time for all of us to enjoy each other a little farther away. Ha!

Anyway, here is a quick recap of the weekend in photos:
I took Steve to see "A Christmas Carol", which is his favorite Christmas story (besides the Bible).
He loved it!

Three baking/mixing stations going on at once!

All the baking supplies!

Halfway done!

A blurry shot of me with some of the cookies.

12 of 15 kinds of cookies we made! Some were still in the oven.

Mom mom used to make Christmas cookies with her mom and grandma. We have been marathon cookie baking with mom and Grandma since I can remember. You can start rolling dough into 1-inch balls at a pretty young age! Now that it's just Mom, my sister and I making them, it was kind of like Grandma and Great-Grandma were watching us from heaven and approving (or disproving - the peanut butter kisses went awry) of all the baking.

Next year, we'll have an 8-month-old baby girl who I'm sure will love to watch her mommy, grandma and auntie as they mix and roll out 1000 cookies. We might even let her have one!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Faith Filled Friday: Through the eyes of a child

Happy Friday, Crushers!

My husband loves Christmas. I don't just mean that he loves all the food and the lights and such, but this guy LOVES CHRISTMAS like he's a 6-year-old waiting in line to tell Santa what he wants in his stocking and then sings "The Little Drummer Boy" while decorating our house and planning the annual Christmas party.

He loves singing along with all the Christmas music whether it's in church or on the radio in the car. He loves seeing Christmas lights and putting them on the tree. He loves the decorations, the cookies, and sometimes, even the shopping. He loves to watch "A Christmas Carol" every Christmas Eve, and read Luke 2 Christmas morning.

Starting to get the idea?

I've always said that he loves this special time of year like a little child. I'm REALLY hoping that our kids are going to love Christmas as much as he does. He is so excited about us expecting a baby girl that he's even talked about how we're going to start our own family traditions and all that. It's so dang cute.

It's like getting to see the wonder of Christmas through the eyes of a child because sometimes, we're all just big kids. He'd probably tell you the same thing about how I act with 4th of July fireworks and my birthday (which is only 32 days away...).
"The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." Luke 2:20
There were so many people who were excited about the first Christmas. Mary and Joseph, the Magi, the Shepherds in the hills, Anna and Zachariah, Mary's cousin Elizabeth (and the baby she carried, who turned out to be John the Baptist), and many more people were excited for the birth of Jesus. I hope that everyone can be as excited about this holiday and not just the lights and cookies and presents, but that it's a reminder that Jesus came for us. He came to live and die and rise again so that someday we can all celebrate together in Heaven.

Can you imagine how excited Steve will be to celebrate Christmas in Heaven? It'll be the best thing ever.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Challenge Accepted!

Every so often, KariAnne at Thistlewood Farms takes a moment to stop and remind her readers that they are rock stars.

This is why I love KariAnne and want to meet her in person someday. Because she's a rock star too.

She reminds us all that there are some days where we don't feel like rock stars. We probably feel more like tired, old, has-been rock stars who may have partied too hard and just feel like crap. But those days are like Jenny Lawson from The Bloggess reminds us: lies. You really are a rock star. You are loved. You are cherished. You are important to someone somewhere even if it doesn't feel like it!

In KariAnne's blog post today, she asks that everyone share some joy today. The second I read that, I was all "CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!"

So, here's a little joy to make you smile today. Please feel free to keep spreading it!

1. We babysat for our nieces and nephews over the weekend. Ben, who is 6 and the big brother to two sisters and is therefore all knowing about baby girls, comes up to me and sticks his face right by my now-showing belly. He shouts, "HELLO IN THERE!" After asking if I thought that the baby could hear him, I responded, "I think she heard you and everyone in a two-house radius heard you too!"

2. This weekend is the Christmas Cookie Baking Marathon and my sister is hosting it at her house this year. Four women, 12+ cookie recipes, and the guys at home making rosettes and spritz cookies because they're good at that. When all is said and done we'll have about 500 cookies to eat and share. Sharing cookies = sharing joy!

3. My dad, the hardest person in the world to shop for, actually put together a Christmas list this year. WHOO!

4. We are 10 days away from owning our new home. Steve said he would plant me a tree or flowering bush (magnolia? crab apple?) for my very first Mother's Day this spring. Isn't that the cutest thing ever?

5. I was just asked to go snow-shoeing with a friend from work. Skiing is out this winter due to baby girl, but I could totally snow shoe! WIN!

6. Hot chocolate

7. Christmas lights

8. Indoor swimming pools at the local high school so prego ladies can stay fit.

9. People who are good listeners.

10. My family and friends.

Go make a list. You might surprise yourself at what makes your day!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Virtual Running Date No. 34: Easy Cherry Chocolate Cake

Good morning, Crushers!
I don't know about you, but we got a LOT of snow in Southeastern Wisconsin yesterday. It started at about 9 a.m. and just kept going until late last night.

Sorry, I took this picture through a screen window. Whoops!
This picture was taken at about 11 a.m. It got snowier and snowier!

If we were on a virtual running date, I would like to point out that you really need to bundle up and be careful. I've seen a ton of people just wipe out while walking. No need to break bones while running. Here is a handy link for how to layer-up while running in winter.

If we were on a virtual running date, I would confess that I did not run this weekend. Unless you count running errands, then I totally did that. I also ran around the house chasing my niece and nephew while we baby sat. I needed to bake a cake for my church's annual Advent by Candlelight program, so they were my little sous chefs while baking this snowflake cake:
Tip: After frosting your cake, cut out any shape in regular paper and lay it gently on top.
Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top with a sifter and you'll get a pretty shape!

Here is the recipe that Ben, Katie and I followed to make this easy cake.

Easy Cherry Chocolate Cake:
1 box of your favorite chocolate cake mix
3 eggs (you may need a spare egg or two on hand if you are cooking with 6-year-olds!)
1 can of cherry pie filling

Mix the cake mix, eggs and pie filling in a large bowl. (Feel free to allow the children helping you to take turns stirring the batter once you've gotten in a few stirs so that the flour part doesn't go flying.) Pour batter into greased pans - the pan size is up to you! Follow the baking time/directions on the cake box. Generally, it's 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes. Stick a toothpick or fork in the cake when the timer goes off. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Otherwise, give it a few more minutes.

Serving suggestions:
1. Use a 13x9 pan and top with Cool Whip.
2. Use two 8-inch round pans and put chocolate fudge frosting in the middle and on top (that's what I did)
3. Top the cake with fresh cherries!
4. Use whatever flavor pie filling that sounds good. I've made this with cherry and raspberry. I think you can use a vanilla cake mix too, but the chocolate tastes the best.

Enjoy and stay safe out there!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Faith-filled Friday: By memory

Good morning, Crushers!

I don't know about your childhood Christmas Eves, but from kindergarten to eighth grade, all the kids at my parochial grade school would stand in front of our families and the congregation to sing and recite a Christmas program.

You know the types of programs I'm talking about. Where the middle-school aged boys refuse to sing because their voices are changing. Where the little ones wave at their parents or tug at their clip-on ties or swing the skirts of their pretty dresses while singing "Away in the Manger". Where the 5th graders are finally feeling like the bigger kids because they've done this a many times now, and they get bigger speaking parts.

My favorite part was always the 2nd graders' recitation of Luke chapter 2 (especially when they emphasize the word "terrified" and all their little faces look astonished). Perhaps you've heard it or had to recite it yourself at one point?

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
That's Luke 2:1-14. It goes on from there with the Shepherds taking off to go see the new baby, Jesus.

I don't know why, but this passage is always my favorite part. Maybe because of the kids who recite it with such conviction? Maybe it's because it took me forever to learn how to say Quirinius? Maybe because it's the story of how all God's promises were finally coming together for all the world to see?

I think it's a combination of all of that.

As everyone gets closer to the hustle and bustle of Christmas, please remember to stop and take a moment to visit Luke 2. I think you're spirits will be rejuvenated with the reminder of what this season is truly about.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Blogger shout out: Kalie from Texas

Hello Crushers!
I'm constantly amazed by the terrific people that I get to call my friends. My good friend Kalie, which I may have mentioned a few times here and here, is currently in the Philippines working with her church group to help the people affected by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). My favorite line from following her journey on facebook is "God is moving".

There are so many answers to what God is moving. He's moving pride out of the way to give and receive help. He's moving with the Holy Spirit to open hearts to his wonderful message of salvation. He's moving the hands of volunteers and men and women who live in the Philippines to remove debris and destruction to rebuild their church and their lives. He's moving fear out of the way for people to travel, to give and to continue their lives.

God moves people.
God moves hands.
God moves hearts.

I hope you're moved to check out Kalie's journey here as she blogs about her experience.

If you're so moved, please feel free to help out the people of the Philippines still struggling with the aftermath of the typhoon through Kalie's church group or mine here

Monday, December 2, 2013

Virtual Running Date No. 33: No excuses and lots of sharing!

Good morning Crushers!

I would like to apologize for my silence in the blog-o-sphere for the past week. It's been crazy around here. I do have a recipe to share and fun news.

If this were a running date, I would tell you that baby and I did some run/walking while Steve actually ran. It was nice that he was happy to just jog on his own. We've had some snow here in Wisconsin, and that means there's some icy spots hiding. I hate ice. I do not want to slip, especially now! Unless I have ice clinking in my glass of iced tea or lemonade or keeping my cooler chilly, I do not need ice.

If we were on a running date, I could tell you that we finally sold our house! After moving the closing date three times, we were able to close on Friday after Thanksgiving. So while everyone else was out buying things, we were selling! YAY! New home in 19 days... pictures will follow I'm sure.

If this were a running date, I would tell you that I got to spend time with two of the cutest dudes this weekend. See?

Oh the cuteness! Such chubby cheeks!

If this were a running date, I would share this adorable photo of my 97-year-old grandpa helping me make butternut squash risotto (recipe from Iowa Girl Eats here). And yes, you really can make risotto by pouring in all the broth at once. Just keep stirring! It was delicious, but I would definitely add more garlic than the recipe calls for. We have garlic lovers at our house!

He's carefully measuring squash for me.
One last fun piece of news! We had people guess the baby's gender at work and at Thanksgiving. Since we've been on this football theme, my friend Sarah made these yummy cupcakes.
People placed their bets!

And the answer...
Team Pink!
We're very excited to be able to call the baby "she" or say "her" instead of "it" all the time. Healthy baby girl on the way! Can't wait to decorate the new house and the baby's room!