Saturday, December 13, 2014

Rest

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."                                        
~Matthew 11:28-30

Rest. It's what I'm longing for these days. Somehow I buried myself beneath too many projects and deadlines and too much busyness these past few months. Life has just been speeding by, leaving me breathless and wondering how I might slow down and simplify things.

I want to leave behind the late nights, the overflowing inbox, and the constant demands on my time and thoughts by the outside world. Yes, it's time for me to step away from this computer and focus all of my energy on my home and family and local friends. 

I want to simplify, clean everything, organize everything, bake bread, make hot chocolate, and play outside with my kids.

And I need to sew. See this lovely flannel? It's the fabric I bought on sale last year for the Christmas pajamas. No, they're not Christmas-themed this year, and they're not even going to be totally matching. The boys get the little camping bears and dogs, and the girls get the flowers. I just love the cheerfulness of this fabric! It makes me happy just looking at it. :)
I'm hoping to spend some focused time the next couple of weeks making memories with these people that I love the most:
(By the way, did you know you can't fit 7 people in a standard photo booth? At my insistence we tried it a couple of weekends ago, and it didn't work! Nevertheless, these hilarious photos bring a smile to my face.)

If I don't make it back here before then, I hope you have a happy, peaceful, and blessed Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2014

I Wonder As I Wander

Here's a new song my girls just learned (and the last one I'll be uploading!). They still haven't completely perfected it (they're just learning it by themselves), so there may be a few mistakes, but I just love it! And sorry about the shaky camera...we were trying to figure out how to take a video with a different camera than the one we usually use. :)

video

I Wonder As I Wander

I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on'ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

When Mary birthed Jesus 'twas in a cow's stall
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all
But high from God's heaven, a star's light did fall
And the promise of ages it then did recall.

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing
A star in the sky or a bird on the wing
Or all of God's angels in heaven to sing
He surely could have it, 'cause He was the King.

I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on'ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Super Easy No-Bake Gingerbread Houses

When our children were very little, I started a tradition of making gingerbread houses. Now, every year, it's not even a question of if we will make them, they just start asking me when we're going to make them!
I'll apologetically admit that these are made of nothing but junk, but they're so fun! A few times we used more natural candies (without food coloring), but those do get expensive and they're not as bright and cheery. This year we just used the cheapest ingredients we could get, and we limited the candy a bit more than usual. 

Here are the ingredients:
  • Graham Crackers (you'll need 7 squares for each house)
  • 1 batch of icing (see below for recipe)
  • Quart size zipper freezer bags (I recommend not getting the cheapest brand, as they'll rip! Discount grocery stores are a good source for these bags.)
  • Packing tape (for sealing the bags)
  • Candy for decorating
  • Round piece of cardboard for a base (I've used cardboard squares covered with freezer paper, I've cut my own circles out of cardboard boxes and then wrapped those with freezer paper, or you can use cake circles, shown below. A package of 10 has enough for 2 years of gingerbread houses for our family.)
Royal Icing Recipe:
  • 3 egg whites or meringue powder (I use meringue powder)
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
Icing Recipe for 5 Houses (this is the recipe I've been using the past few years to make 5 houses. It just barely makes enough!)
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon of meringue powder 
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3 pounds powdered sugar
Directions for Making Icing:
  1. Beat the egg whites (or meringue powder + water) with an electric mixer at high speed. 
  2. Add cream of tartar and beat until mixture is somewhat stiff. 
  3. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating after each addition. Beat on high until it's very stiff. You want the peaks of icing to be able to stand up straight. 
Almost every year when making this recipe, we burn out our mixer! This year was no exception. Last year my sweet husband ran to the Dollar Store and bought a cheap one for a few bucks (the only one he could find in town), and we ruined it this time around! I think if you take it slowly and let your mixer rest during the process, there's less chance of this happening. But my children are always so eager to get it made! Also, it seems like we never had this happen until I started making a larger batch.
Steps for Making Gingerbread Houses:

1. After you get your icing mixed up, take a zippered freezer bag and cut the tip off the bottom corner of the bag. Fill it half-full with icing, and then squeeze the air out, zip up the bag, and reinforce the top of the bag with the packing tape. This keeps it from busting open from the pressure of little hands squeezing the icing out!

2. Take one of your cardboard bases, and arrange four graham cracker squares with their corners touching. Use a sharpie to trace the bottom edge of each cracker.
I had a little helper helping me!
He even helped me cut some of the graham crackers. At least he's trying! :)
3. You'll need 6 whole squares and then one of the squares you'll cut in half for the roof. I find it works really well to use a serrated knife and use a gentle "sawing" motion to cut it without breaking it.
4. Squeeze some icing out onto the traced square, and set two crackers on the icing to create walls. Then fill all of the corners (inside and out) with icing, to help them stand up. The icing is like glue, and it dries very fast, so I always have to help the younger kids with this part. Do the same thing with the other walls, just making sure to get everything glued together with the icing.

I didn't get a picture of this step, but once you have your box (the house) built, then squeeze some icing on top of two crackers and set a triangle-shaped cracker on top of these two opposing walls. Make sure to glue it down well with a thick line of icing. Then ice the tops of both triangles and set the remaining two squares on top of them, to make a roof.
5. Set out all your candy! (I had the older girls put the candy in bowls and containers on the table while I finished cutting out and preparing all the graham crackers.)
6. Time to decorate! This is the best part. I love seeing the creativity they use to decorate their houses.
This year we made a "snowy" gingerbread house village, using a string of white lights and fiberfil stuffing.
View all of our past gingerbread house posts below!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Homemaking Encouragement {And a Sale!}

Do you ever feel like you weren't adequately prepared for keeping your home in a creative and efficient manner? Or maybe you've been doing this homemaking thing for years, and you just need some encouragement. 

A couple of years ago I came across the Homemaking 101 DVD by Family Vision Films. I remember that I watched it for the first time while I was lying in bed, recovering from an illness. And it was so encouraging to me! I really love Jennifer's sweet and gentle way of communicating. 

Even though much of the information wasn't new to me, since I've been a keeper at home for over 15 years now, I loved watching this, and I love that my daughters can watch it and be encouraged, too! Also, Jennifer shares some cleaning tips and recipes that have been a help to me. Even experienced homemakers can benefit from this DVD!


"Homemaking 101 will show young wives and mothers with small children how to efficiently and joyfully manage their homes, offer heavy doses of encouragement and give vision for being a keeper at home...This film will be a delight to the Christian wife who desires nothing more than to be a joyful keeper at home, all for the glory of God!"

This DVD Covers:
  • Cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Budgeting
  • Bill paying
  • Child training
  • Scheduling
  • Blessing your husband
  • Organizing
  • and so much more!


Homemaking 201 is the second film in the Homemaking Skills DVD series, and it's just as wonderful as the first one!

This DVD covers:
  • Ministering to your family
  • Household maintenance
  • Homemade products
  • Preparing for guests
  • Organization
  • Chores and projects for children
  • Cleaning outside your home
  • Adjusting any apron for a perfect fit
  • An unfocused day vs. a focused day
  • Easy dinner recipe
  • Creating a homemaking binder
  • Home decorating
  • and more!
The Homemaking 201 DVD is just about to be released (any day now)! I received an advance copy for review purposes, and I love it!

Right now, both Homemaking 101 and 201 are on sale for only $12.95! That's a great savings, so now is a great time to get your copies of these. They make great gifts for new moms, brides, and any homemaker! Go here to get yours!


If you're reading this in an email, you may need to click through to the blog to watch the trailer video. I received a free advance copy of this DVD for review purposes, but that in no way affected my review. This post contains my affiliate links. Thanks so much for your support!

Sharing With: Raising Homemakers

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Yes, They're All Ours (All Five of Them)!


I've mentioned before how I don't consider our little family of seven to be a large family. I guess it's because most of my close friends have a lot more children than we do (some have more than twice as many!). And also because I really expected and hoped to have more than just five. But sometimes things don't turn out the way we planned. Our five children are incredible blessings, and I'm so thankful for each one of them!

Even though I consider our family to be on the smaller side of "large," I still receive my share of "Are they all yours?" questions, which are usually asked incredulously. 

A couple of weekends ago, we were at an event where there were lots of people. A lady stopped us and asked if we would take a picture of her by a light display, so with a smile we said we would, if she would take one of us, too! She happily agreed, and I took a photo for her.

When it was her turn to take our picture, she looked around and said, "Are these all your children?!?" I was surprised that she viewed us as a large family, so I said, "Yes, they're all ours, but there's only five of them, so it's not that many!" She looked at me and said, "Honey, you don't look old enough to even have this many children--what, did you start when you were like, four or something?"

I laughed, and thanked her for the huge compliment. I felt complimented that she had said I didn't "look old enough," and my kids felt like it was a compliment that someone actually thought we had a large family, since they're always wishing our family was larger, like some of their friends' families.

I'm so thankful for the blessing of my five children, and I'm thankful that they're all ours--all five of them! :)

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward."

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Favorite Book Resource

Recently, I won $20 worth of free Usborne books. Can I just tell you that it was sooooo difficult to limit myself to just $20?? I wanted to get so many things for my youngest, especially. Usborne books have long been a favorite at our house, but I just discovered some amazing resources for preschool/kindergarten age children!

Our youngest is five, and he doesn't really enjoy writing. I can tell it's challenging for him. So, when I saw these adorable wipe-clean books from Usborne, I thought they looked just like what he needed to help him along. For some reason he thinks it's more fun to use a wipe-off book with a marker than to write with pencil and paper. And, they're reusable! I think these books are a great investment!
I love the mazes book. It's so bright and colorful, with cheerful illustrations! (One page did have some little ghost-looking things on it, but you could just cover those up with a sticker or something. I've done that before!)
I also like the wipe-clean alphabet book. It's a great way to practice writing.
We played this little "First Words Donkey" game tonight, and it was simple and fun. I love the sweet farm-related illustrations.
I bought these two books at the beginning of the school year, and they've been a huge hit with all of the kids! 
And here are a few items from my wishlist:
Right now I'm having an online Usborne books party! You can view the party here. These would make great Christmas gifts for your children, grandchildren, or friends' children!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Spreading Christmas Cheer {With a Video}

The Christmas season is in full swing at our house, and our children have welcomed the return of greenery and lights and Christmas music. Today I'm sharing a video I took of my two oldest daughters singing "What Child is This." They are not professional musicians (and have never had any sort of music lessons at all), but I love listening to them sing in their own simple style. (If you're reading in an email, you'll need to click through to the blog to see the video.)

video


What Child Is This

What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own him.
The King of kings salvation brings, 
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby
Joy, joy for Christ is born, 
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,