Thursday, January 27, 2011

View From My Spot on the Couch

Most of our family has been sick this week with colds and sore throats, myself included. I'm missing my normally energetic self, but trying to remember I need rest. Just after I snapped this picture the baby stole the tissue box and started to pull the tissues out. I guess I can't be completely lazy, thanks to him!

I'll admit, I only buy tissues when I am sick.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Seasonal Goals (or, New Year's Resolutions)

I've never been a big New Year's Resolutions person. It's not that I don't think they are a good thing; it just seems that there is a whole lot of hype surrounding them. Promises are made to do this or that, and then you forget about it. It's quite possible that this is just my problem, and there are lots and lots of people out there that are disciplined with their resolutions. I do like to set goals though, but I just tend to make them more slowly, as the seasons come. For instance, last summer I was determined to do three things: grow a successful garden, can jam, and make pickles. I did them all and it felt great! As the year came to a close, I began to think about changes I'd like to make, and things I'd like to accomplish. And because I have seen growth in myself with regards to being disciplined and determined, I'm making some goals for the new year and sharing them here for all to see!

Read my Bible with better consistency and memorize scripture
I regret that I have not always been disciplined in this very important area. I find that I am able to respond to my family with more patience and love if I am prepared for battle by spending time in the Word. Many times I have found myself searching my mind for a Bible verse to help me with a situation; I hope to really work on hiding God's word in my heart.

Love more, complain less
This has become kind of a mantra of mine. I just want to put more of my energies into showing love, and less into finding something to fuss about. I think I complain to my husband more than anyone else. (Not about him mind you, honestly the man is a jewel and hardly gives me reason to complain.) I find lots of things to complain about and he's the lucky one who gets to hear the drama. I also don't want to set an example of discontentment to my children.

Cook more foods that my husband likes
My man is not a picky eater, or a complainer. He loves everything I cook, but I know there are things I'm not cooking that he likes. There have been times we've been at a pot-luck and he'll go on about something simple like deviled eggs, or broccoli casserole. I realized I wasn't really planning our menus to include some of his favorites. I made banana pudding last week, and this week he asked for potatoes au gratin.

Crochet something other than a scarf
I learned to crochet in home economics in high school. There was a boy in the class that made about ten blankets that year; mine is under my bed, unfinished, in a dusty trash bag. Hmmm..speaking of determination and discipline? Sad, I know. I started crocheting again last year, and I love it. But the only thing I made was a scarf. Those patterns are really intimidating for me, but I am determined to figure it out this year.

Learn to play Claire de lune on the piano.
I took piano on and off growing up, and then for a couple years after I was married. Then I had my oldest, and didn't go back to my lessons. I really miss playing, and I have always loved that song.

Get up early and spend time with my husband
I was always a morning person before I had kids. Most mornings now it seems I'm dragging a little. I often stay up too late, because I so cherish the quiet time after the kids have gone to bed. There's also the possibility that I'm up with a little one at night, and then I'm sleepy the next day. Going to bed earlier is going to have to be a priority if this is going to work.
This goal is a shared one with my husband. We both are really looking forward to sneaking downstairs and having coffee together before he heads off to work.

So, there you go! I'm looking forward to a new year. New adventures, changes, challenges, and growing to be experienced. What are you looking forward to?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Best Person Ever

My daughter wrote me this note one night after I had been sick all day. It says she thinks I'm the best person ever. When my children say things like that, it makes me want to really live up to it. However, we all know that those kinds of expectations are unreasonable. Our children already think we're the greatest even though we are filthy stinking sinners that mess up day after day. These little ones know how to give us grace and offer unconditional love with no strings attached. I can learn so much from this.

Grace has become a part of my daily vocabulary. It seems that it is needed in very practical ways in my life as a mother. I was talking to a dear friend on Facebook the other day about rough weeks and feeling unworthy for motherhood. Maybe we can feel unworthy because we are unworthy. I didn't do anything to deserve this wonderful job I have. A job that I always wanted no less. We all have days where we feel completely unqualified to be a mom. The reality of being unworthy should not translate into feelings of guilt or despair. If God is gracious enough to bless us with these children, then surely He will give us the grace we need to bring them up. Grace to know how to train them, to love them, to give up control to Him, and grace to let go of guilt when we mess up.

My daughter will remember that I make the best tea in the world. Above all though, I hope she remembers that I lived a life that shone of the grace of the Almighty, and that these good things in me were only because of His work in my heart.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Gifts

So I just wanted to show you some of the gifts I made for my family. Just a couple for now because I have mountains of laundry I need to fold before the baby is up. He likes to roll around in it, making it hard to fold while he's around.

Here is the house for Maggie. It turned out really well. You can really get carried away with these. I wanted to keep adding to it; maybe a rug on the inside and more flowers. Sometimes I need to reign myself in. I did go back and make her a horse to go with it. When she opened it she was expecting a horse, because her big sister's barn had one.

The little people are supposed to resemble my husband and I. I think they do; except for the ultra pale skin and the lack of glasses on my husband. That's a grandfather clock on the wall of the house behind the people. One of my favorite features.

I made this mouse pad for my husband. I wasn't sure if it was something he would like, or if it was too mushy with the declaration of my love on the front. But he really liked it and it is being put to good use in his office.

He is really proud of his new computer and wanted to make sure I got it in the picture. He's so cute.
Okay, off to tackle that laundry!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Applesauce Spice Cake with Browned Butter Frosting

Hello again. It seems I've been too busy celebrating, cleaning up from said celebrating and being sick to keep up with this space. I was just remarking on the phone to a friend the other day that my family had escaped the stomach bug that I kept hearing about. I was sick all that night.
Better now and hopefully ready to get back into the swing of things. Soon I hope to post a few pictures of the gifts I made for my family, but right now I have a favorite recipe I want to share. I spent all yesterday afternoon making desserts for our Bible study last night, and then we didn't get to go. Not disappointed that we have to eat this cake all by ourselves. I love this recipe! The original recipe says to dust with confectioners sugar, but I love it with browned butter frosting, something I discovered a couple years back. Either way this cake is delicious.

Applesauce Spice Cake (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)

You'll need:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups unsweetened applesauce

Grease and flour your pan. I use one 9-inch round cake pan for this.
Combine dry ingredients and set aside. In your mixer, beat butter and sugars until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Reduce speed to low and add applesauce. Don't be afraid at how the mixture looks; it's supposed to look curdled. Beat in your flour mixture until good and smooth.
Scrape into pan and spread evenly, then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.
I have doubled this recipe and used two round pans to make a beautiful layer cake, as you'll see in the photo at the bottom. That was my daughter's 8th birthday cake.
Now for the frosting. I'm not big on frosting, but this stuff is amazing. Really. Try it on pumpkin cookies.

Browned Butter Frosting
1/2 cup butter (I like unsalted)
4 cups confectioners sugar
4 TBS milk (maybe a little more)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Easy: cook your butter over medium heat until it starts to brown, stirring occasionally. There will be little flecks of dark brown in the bottom of your pan. I even let it get really dark this time, still delicious. Let it cool, then beat together with the rest of the ingredients. Add milk and beat until it's a good consistency for spreading.

Now, snuggle up with a hot drink and enjoy!