Wednesday, December 29, 2010


no, not my house...(i sort of wish...would like to downsize...), but my blog.

i've worked on it for 9.5 hours in one day, and it only took that long because i was pretty clueless going in. but so far, so good.

if you haven't found the new home yet,
click here to check out the new place. it feels pretty good. so far.

see you there!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Great Christmas Cookie Freeze!

it is my pleasure to be participating in this *virtual* Christmas cookie party, hosted by my blog friend, edie! she has a blog life{in}grace that more and more refreshes and inspires me. i am thankful that our internet lives crossed, and that her inspiration is available to me via the web!

anyways, she decided to have us all *over* for Christmas cookie baking...we would share our favorite recipes, and ideally we'd all bake cookies all weekend! i jumped in with my gingerbread cookies because i seem to be somewhat inundated with gingerbread this time of year. it's a choice, and i love it.

i change gingerbread recipes as often as i change my hair style (and color), so i have to give credit where credit is due. i use the Pampered Chef gingerbread recipe when i make my houses, but i used the "Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications: food gifts" for the recipe i used for my gingerbread men this year, (i bought it in october, but here is a link to their site with fabulous ideas! better homes and gardens.

so, here is the recipe, which i have made twice and doubled each time. i feel that you need more than a few gingerbread men...more like a gingermob, so i double. (and apparently it is not politically correct to make these gender specific, as you'll note in the title.) whatever. my favorite is still the men.

gingerbread people cutouts

1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 c. molasses
1 egg
1 T. white vinegar
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
royal icing (recipe follows)

i altered this recipe both times i made gingerpeople this year because someone (pretty sure not my husband) had used all but the last bit of white flour and didn't write it on the whiteboard that we needed more. so, i used a little white flour and the rest organic whole wheat flour. they came out very yummy and much more healthy. it's all good.

1. in a mixing bowl, beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. add granulated sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves. beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. beat in molasses, egg, and vinegar until combined. beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. divide dough in half. wrap each half in plastic wrap; chill dough about 3 hours or until easy to handle.

2. preheat oven to 375. grease a cookie sheet; set aside. on a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough at a time until 1/4 in. thick. cut with 2-3 in. gingerbread people shape cookie cutters. place cutouts 1 in. apart on the prepared cookie sheet. (i had mine closer together and they were fine...)
3. bake for 7-8 min. or until edges are light brown. let stand for 1 min. on cookie sheet. transfer to a wire rack and let cool. pipe designs on cookies with tinted (only if you want tinted, the recipe instructs) royal icing. makes about 24 cookies. 

royal icing
in a mixing bowl, stir together 4 cups powdered sugar, 3 T. meringue powder, 1/2 t. cream of tartar. add 1/2 c. warm water with 1 t. vanilla. if desired, tint with food coloring. beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, then on high speed for 7-10 minutes or until very stiff. add 2-4 T. of additional water, 1 t. at a time, until icing reaches desired consistency.

i provide the royal icing recipe, however i couldn't resist the wilton sparkle decorating icing this year!

i am also using bh&g packaging idea for these when i present them to my co-workers in a couple of weeks...
that's just a cd envelope (i got 100 for about $4!), with scrapbooking paper tucked inside and ribbon glued across the front!  just wait an hour or two for the icing to poor little guy has a smushed face here, but i wanted to share and i have dinner plans in an hour! :)

happy baking! thanks, edie, for letting me share!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

haiti on my heart

if you have been following this blog here for more than a month or two, you know that haiti is near and dear to my heart, and where i spent the majority of my summer, and 100% of my vacation time for 2010 from my work...

what they are experiencing there over the past few weeks, but most especially days makes my heart hurt. literally. i can feel the pain.

since the outbreak of cholera there, (really started by the U.N. really? who knows...), to what appears to be another corrupt election, there has been unrest amongst the people.

now, there is rioting throughout the country. this is not rioting that our friends in les cayes hear about that is happening in it is right in their back front yard. they are hearing constant gunfire, some of that sounding to them like machine guns...any and everything that can be burned in the streets is doing so...imagine trying to sleep with the sounds of unrest and the stench of burning tires....

people are dying. many of them. and if you do a google search, (at least as of 4 pm today) you will be hard pressed to find more than 1 or 2 news articles about what is happening there.

people are dying on the doorsteps of my friends. more than one. these are random acts of violence stemming from a frustration that is decades old. i can't blame them, but i can be saddened with the thought that they are only hurting themselves.

more than 2000 people have died from cholera in the past 7 weeks. more than 11,000 have dealt with the disease. it's not over yet. and, the rioting is making relief efforts for cholera ever more difficult. this disease may very well spread over the next weeks as a result.

who is being hurt by this violence? not those that the people choose to send a message it's the very people that are the weakest already. or the innocent.

if you pull someone out of the window of their car and beat them to death because you are frustrated with the election debacle, how do you know that they weren't just as frustrated as you?

my friends in haiti have had a rough life. now they are having extremely rough days. and they don't understand why God allows this. frankly, i'm having a hard time myself.

i know that He is in control. i believe it and i share it. but why the people of haiti can't get a break escapes me at this moment. i can still trust and believe, but i shake my head in lack of understanding.

when my believing friends in haiti don't understand, i can't even attempt to...

yes. haiti is on my heart, and my heart hurts. come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's a Stressful time!

I'm currently lying on my bed looking out my window at the sun and a light snowfall thinking "wow, I have so much to do this week, and I'm still putting it off". This week is exam week, the final week of the fall semester. Along with six exams and a jury to keep my music candidacy, I am in charge of checking out 36 girls a they move out of the building for a full month.

I am quite excited for the Christmas break. Normally, it's a full month of laying around and doing nothing but relaxing. But, this break will be very different. On Monday the 13th, I have my first day of jury duty. When I found that out I was quite annoyed, but maybe it will be a good experience? After that, I am hoping to babysit as much as possible. [if you need a sitter for ANYTHING at all, please let me know!] The reason I am going to be babysitting so much is because I have been given the opportunity to go on a mission trip in March. I will be traveling to the Dominican Republic with an organization called Orphanage Outreach. I will be working with orphans most likely teaching English, and leading the music. I just decided to go on the trip this past week. The trip costs $600-800 plus the cost of a plane ticket. Basically, I need to raise almost $1600 before the end of February. Therefore, I need to do as much babysitting or work as possible to raise the money!

When this opportunity was first brought to me I was excited because it I know it is going to be such a good experience. But, then I started freaking out about everything that goes along with it. Raising the money really worried me. Being at school, I don't have the opportunities to raise money if I were at home. I prayed about it a lot and had my parents also pray about it to see if this is what God wanted me to do. Another main issue with the trip is that I am going to miss an entire week of school in the Spring semester. That is a lot of class, and it is especially at a bad time because my spring choir concert is the day I get back from the Dominican. I decided to talk with my choir director because this was going to affect our group the most. At first, she was hesitant but then we talked about why I was going and how important it was to me. God bless her, she said I could go. I promised her I would have all of my music memorized before I left and she said that she hoped it would be a great experience for me. That was basically the green light from God that I should go. That was the main thing that was holding me back from signing up and putting my deposit down. So, after a long conversation with Tom late one night, I paid my deposit and am now signed up to go!

This experience I hope will bring me more clarity in what I am to do with my life. I am hoping to grow closer to God and to help others grow closer in their relationship with God. Working with little kids is a great passion of mine, and I can only hope to do everything through God and really let Him speak through me.

Now, back to this week. Even with so much going on I am trying to not let myself be stressed. Instead of stressing, at night I'll watch an episode of Bones [my new favorite obsession] or continue writing my book. [Yes, I started writing a book, we'll see how it turns out]. Being able to just lounge on my bed for an hour or so and not think about the real world really allows me to take a step back and keep my stress level down. Awesome right? I definitely recommend taking time for yourself each day. Whether it be just driving in the car for 20 minutes at a time by yourself, or praying before you go to bed. It is so key, when there are so many people around to take care of or be there for, that you are taking care of yourself. Because, how can we help people if we ourselves are not ready?

This season is known as the most wonderful time of the year, but also the most stressful. Try to take some time for yourself each day to keep your spirits high and to keep yourself rejuvenated. God bless.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

the days of december (okay, and a teensy bit of november...)

just a few moments to give you an idea of what's been going on around here recently...

 we had a lovely Thanksgiving in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with my mom and dad. Kati and her boyfriend Kurt made the long trek from Delaware to be with us...dinner was especially yummy, and we had a great time!
 more Thanksgiving photos....a family weekend would not be complete without a wrestling match between siblings, with dogs barking all around...

we left the U.P. early Friday morning in a snow storm to hurry home for our annual gingerbread house event! we have been doing this since the girls were very young, and we have wonderful traditions surrounding this now...lunch before as we gather our strength...much smack talk during the decorating...and a rousing game of charades at the end...
 i've also been attempting to appease my inner creative kimberly, so i've been sewing, knitting, making Christmas cards, and also this Christmas banner....
the metal nativity fireplace screen is my favorite thing that we've brought back from Haiti...and the new stockings were a great find at meijer. this year when i unpacked the stockings we've used the last 14 years, they were, well...somewhat moldy. ewwww....not sure how that happened.

i wasn't prepared to make new stockings just yet, nor did i want to shell out $200 for stockings on a these cute things were on sale for $2.99 each! i dressed them up a bit with glitter initials from walmart, which were $1 each. when you have 9 stockings and a blended family, stocking identification is crucial!

i am *loving* my advent devotions this year, although they began before advent and will carry on after we celebrate His birth, as well. if you are looking for a way to get to know Him better, you may want to pick this up:
Jesus: 90 Days With the One and Only

blessings, my friends.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


This is an evening post based on the subject of some great emails today. Wow. God is so amazing - all the time - but I think we choose to see (or receive) what He gives when we are thinking about it, or in prayer about it, or in communication with Him (actually listening instead of doing all the talking, right?)

So, because I am somewhat tired and emotionally drained from the events of today (mostly good, focusing on that), I am going to abbreviate this a bit.

Anyways, if you are my friend on facebook, you may have seen that I shared an "event" called "pay it forward" last night. It's about doing a random act of kindness for someone each day in December - so 31 of them. And, if you're not my friend on facebook, why not? But I digress...just friend me, ok?

So, I was pretty geeked about that. Then last night as I thought about how powerful that could be (the pay it forward dynamic), I got to thinking about how I spent the last month thinking about and expressing God, and to my facebook world. I realized that after a month of gratitude, random acts of kindness would just be a natural outcome, and that it was a beautiful thing.

THEN, as I was praying/driving to work (don't worry - I *mostly* pray with my eyes open when I drive), I also was thinking about how great this would be but with a startling realization that without a conscious effort, I could very possibly treat strangers very well, but forget to tell my husband how much I love him. That was quite convicting for me.

So, (a glimpse inside a crazy mind here), I sent an email out to some beloved sisters in Christ challenging myself and them to do one special thing for their husband each day during December. It could be cute, fun, cheap, an investment (money and emotional), or whatever....but just to do it and see what happens.

WOW! What a response! I can tell you that I received quite a few replies today that totally challenged me in return! What an awesome sisterhood we have here, girls!

So, please, please, please find a way to comment on this blog to encourage others. Women thank me all the time for encouraging them, and I don't say this in a boastful way but to tell you that I don't do much, but if we are all doing it for each other, we become a powerful force for good with each other. I know it's a little complicated with the free web hosting. The only thing on my Christmas list is the ability to get a domain and a new blog design that will hopefully allow for my flexibility in posting and your ease in posting comments. Do you know that in the 11 months that I have had this blog, it has been viewed over 3,500 times? WOW! That doesn't mean that everyone that viewed it found what they were looking for, but it's out there.

So, please prayerfully consider this challenge. Feel free to share this link, but if you can do it via email rather than on facebook (why aren't you my friend on there yet??? just sayin') that would be awesome because I am trying to keep a little mystery here for my husband, too.

So many thanks to those of you that replied today and your honesty. For those that need more encouragement after the attempt today, please look to God to fill you up and not an instant response from your husband. For those of you that aren't sure you can do this well, trust me when I say that what you do will be blessed and you don't have to worry about "well." (and, oh, by the way, if you haven't read Beth Moore's book on Insecurity, now is the time dear.) For those that don't feel they have anything to give, again, let God fill you up.

Please share your comments here, and anonymously if you need to do it that way. Some are looking for encouragement, others are looking for ideas,...

I love you my sisters, and I feel a revolution coming...let's make marriage important and relevant again in  our society! Let's start by cherishing our husbands for one month.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

gingerbread and other things...

can you say, "busy?" wow!...i have been incredibly busy recently, and hence the lack of posts here recently. so sorry...but it's all good stuff, so i will fill you in for a moment...
and though i've been busy, i have been especially appreciative of the beautiful morning and evening views out my back window...

(by the way, i've given up on capitalizing's how i do email and most other things, but always thought this should be a little more "proper" but no more. that's it. i'm done.)

so you know about the book discussion group, and that's been great! we have had a great time getting to know each other and learning about ourselves, our insecurities (or not) and also how to be more compassionate when others are dealing with insecurities. we will continue meeting on monday evenings until the first of the year, and it's been a blessing! i am so thankful for this group of women, willing to open up, risk, and share.

in other news, i've also been doing some crafts. they just make me happy, and i have decided that i need to do them on a more consistent basis. one of the things that i recently completed is these:

 aren't they just the best? there is a new little one expected in a month in my brother's family, and i thought that these might be a perfect "welcome to the world, but it's winter here in michigan gift" for the little one....
 yesterday and early this morning i was busy baking  a pile o'gingerbread for our annual tradition! every year since the twins were in preschool we have made gingerbread houses together using the pampered chef stone gingerbread molds! some years i haven't baked a single cookie, but come thick or thin, single parent, planning a wedding in 2 weeks, or planning to move on december 23rd, we've made these houses each year! i don't know that we've had *exactly* the same group any 2 years in a row, but most years our friends, john, barb, rachel and jacob have done them with us...usually followed up by a great game of charades. we have had other family join us, friends, cousins, a variety of boyfriends (not mine or barb's...), and it is always so much fun and a great big mess with sprinkles to be found on the floor well into the new year!

this year, (yesterday) the original mold that i have used since our very first year, broke as it slipped out of my hands when it was hot. truth be told, at the exact moment it was happening, i was more concerned about having to mix up more gingerbread than the mold itself.
but, the good news is that i had over the summer purchased an extra mold, so that was fortuitous.  since you have to bake in the mold twice to get one house, it is quite a time-rich i thought that i would speed it up by having an extra house mold. what i quickly realized is that each house only has 1 chimney, and since this mold broke down the chimney, i could still accomplish that goal. it's all good, and this mold still has many years ahead, i'm sure!

i've also recently taken up directing the Christmas (can't NOT capitalize Christmas!) choir at our church since our other wonderful director retired from that position several months ago. i figured that i could retrieve that skill from, oh, about 14 years ago and do it in the short term...we shall see.

i'm also serving on a task force for our church/school to help work through a few little difficulties around vision and mission.

oh, and the praise team.

yeah. and my job that is reaching one of it's most busy times since june...


so, last week i worked 47 hours at the office, and had something every night of the week at 7 pm. that and sharing a car with my better half...

it's all good, right? i know that...but it leaves me longing for moments of boredom, or only a moment to sit and write here.

so, in my lack of posting, know (again) that i love doing this, but life is filled to the tippy-top right now with things that i love.

so, now i sign off with a half made meatloaf for dinner, and max's hair to clean up in prep for book discussion tomorrow night...and looking longingly at the fabric on my shelf waiting to be made into more Christmas gifts...sigh...

blessings my friends! may you be *almost, but not quite* as blessed with good things to do as i am...