Saturday, November 20, 2010

Days of Play--Blessing Tree

A while back I wrote a little diatribe opinion piece on thank you notes (click here to read it).  The purpose: help cultivate an attitude of gratitude in my children. 

I found this idea in my MomSense magazine and loved it.  I loved it so much I did it with my mom's group.

Make a Blessing/Thankful tree!

Source
You will need:
  • a tree branch
  • floral foam
  • pot/vase
  • paper cut into leaf shapes
  • yarn
  • sharpies
What to do:
  1. Cut the floral foam so it fits into your container.
  2. Put the branch in the foam.
  3. Have your children list things they are thankful for or things that are blessings.
  4. Write these on the leaf shaped paper.
  5. Hang the leaves on the branch.
In my opinion, and I could be biased, this is a delightful and inspiring Thanksgiving Table Centerpiece.  As you eat, read the blessings.  Or have an extra leaf by each place setting so guests can add their own and THEN read them.
Source   
Oh, and did I mention that for Christmas you could decorate this with lovely beads and red cardinals for a thankful, Christmas dinner centerpiece?  Snowflakes in January?  Hearts in February?  Shamrocks in March? Apparently this is a pretty versatile craft :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

12/30--My FAVE graphic T

I bought this graphic T-shirt at Target for $3.  It says "All you need is love."  True.

We are waiting to decorate that beige wall until we find the bedroom set of our dreams.  We've been waiting 8 years--FYI,

I'm pulling the shirt down so you can see the "all you need is love" part.

If you look carefully you can see my earrings.
I wear this T all the time (and that's why it is part of the 30/30).  For my relaxing Friday (FINALLY) I paired it with Favorite Boyfriend American Eagle jeans, thrifted gray cardi, zebra shoes from Target, 10 year old bangles, Fossil black belt, and my favorite dangley earrings.

{Double} Date Night In--Iron Chef

In early October I read a double date idea on The Dating Divas (click here to see the date "how tos").  The concept was to re-create an Iron Chef competition as a double date.  Now since I happen to have a friend who is a great, adventurous cook and since I like to cook myself, I thought this sounded like a great idea.

I immediately texted Sarah (of Frontier Kitchen fame) to tell her of my scheme.

She was in.

We set a day (Saturday), a theme (mini-Thanksgiving), drew "courses" (I had appetizer and drink; she had side dish and dessert), and then went home to ponder our "secret ingredient."

*If you don't know, whatever food the chef makes HAS to have the secret ingredient in it*

Truth be told, I wanted Sarah's secret ingredient to be HARD.  At first I was thinking cranberries or marshmallows but I wanted something tough.

So her secret ingredient was RED HOT CANDIES.

My secret ingredient was cinnamon (Give me a break--she's the better cook.  It was only fair).

Come Saturday, shopping was done, table was set, and Team Frontier Kitchen came to Team WITMIM?'s house and the cooking started.

Okay, the husbands didn't love the cooking part of this date idea.  They aren't very into cooking.  So basically the girls cooked and the guys visited and did helpful things like wash potatoes and get pears.  Whatever.  They liked the food.

Here's what we ended up with:

Sweet Cinnamon Apple Brie en croute
Pear, spinach, and feta crustini (similar)
Cinnamon rubbed roasted chicken
Mashed red potatoes with nutmeg and cinnamon
Chocolate cobbler with red hots and whipped cream
Apple Pie a la mode martinis

The best part of this date was that it was fun and low key (and the fab food didn't hurt much!).
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So if you have some friends you'd like to have over for dinner, why not spice it up with a double date night in Iron Chef style?

Apple Pie a la mode Martini

Okay, here's my other recipe from the Iron Chef date night in challenge that will be up tomorrow.  This drink got RAVE reviews!

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You will need (per drink):
2 oz. apple juice
2 T. apple pie filling
dash of cinnamon
1 oz. cream of coconut (not coconut milk--ask your liquor store)
1 oz heavy whipping cream
3/4 oz. spiced rum
1/2 oz. apple pucker
ice
martini shaker (a necessity so you don't have apple pie chunks in your drink).
crushed graham crackers

To Do:
Blend all of the above in a martini shaker with ice.
Top a specialty drink with graham crackers.
Pour in drink.
Garnish with apple slice or cinnamon stick.

Cheers!

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Sweet Apple Cinnamon Brie en croute

Tomorrow I'm giving the details of an Iron Chef date.

Until then, check out this recipe that is perfect for a date night or an amazing way to WOW your Thanksgiving Day guests.

You will need:
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1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1/8 t. cinnamon
8 oz wheel/slice of brie (rind on or off--your call)
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 small diced apple
1 egg, beaten

To Make:
Defrost puff pastry for about 20 minutes. Unfold.

Lay pastry on flat surface.

Place brie in center of pastry.

Top with brown sugar, apples and cinnamon.

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Gently pull extra pastry together.

Brush with beaten egg.

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Bake at 375' for 20+ minutes until pastry is a golden brown.

Serve with crackers and apple slices.

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(Ok, I've re-sized these photos like crazy and the last one won't shrink.  Grrrr photobucket!)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

11/30--I cheated

Today was a work day so I couldn't wear jeans *sigh*

I really wanted to wear my beaded red shirt but it is pretty inappropriate work gear because of the deep V-cut.

So, I wore a camisole with built in bra. I comforted myself by saying it was underwear. I was probably cheating.

No matter, I'm sure my students would support my decision; though my husband loves the super-low cut look, not everyone is excited to see the girls.


Buttoned or not?  Always a dilemma.

Khaki, red, and black

The bead work on this shirt is amazing. 

I've had these shoes for several years.  Despite other black heels in the closet, these are my fave.

I've had these black Editor slacks from Express for six years and I still love them. I paired them with a red beaded top, my Gap linen blazer, and heels from Target.

{Holiday} Things I Love--Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Push play and listen while you read.



Matt and I were planning a winter wedding.

In fact, we were getting married the day after my last final from my first semester of grad school and the day after his last final from his first semester of law school (we really earned our honeymoon).

Our wedding plans went smoothly but we didn't have the music figured out.

And then I heard this song on the radio and knew it was EXACTLY what I was looking for (although my version has a boy's choir singing).

I walked down the aisle with dad to my groom to Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Cannon.  I still get a bit mushy when I hear it.

A few years later, for our anniversary, Matt took me to a TSO concert.  Laser shows, incredible singing and music, and a delightful story made this the best concert I've been to.  EVER.  Seriously, it was like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas meets Aerosmith meets Fourth of July Pyrotechnics with a bit of cocoa and whipped cream. 

Source

I love TSO.  I've already broken out my CD.

Speaking of CDs, Kohl's has TSO CDs on sale for $5 and the proceeds go to Kohl's Cares.  Teacher gift?  Stocking stuffer? Secret Santa?  I think so!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

10/30--My Pirate Boots

A while back I posted an outfit that once got me the compliment of "looking like a pirate."  Awesome.

Funny thing was, I wasn't even wearing my pirate boots.

I love my black slouch suede boots and today I rocked 'em with Diva skinny jeans, Gap white T-Shrit, blue thrifted tunic, black earrings from Kohl's, and a grey thrifted bracelet.

Not a single ruffle on me.  I think I should get an award for that!

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P.S. I'm a third of the way through the 30/30! YAY!

Here's a mini-recap of my last 10 days of dressing adventure!
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What I Think About--Annoying Christians {part III}

Our pastor has been doing a series called "Why Christians are Annoying."  He originally wanted to call the series "Why I Hate Christians" but decided that was too strong and out there (even for our modern church).

Can I just say I have NEVER been challenged by a series as much as I've been challenged by this one?  For the next few weeks I'll be sharing the ways in which our current series has convicted ME of being an annoying Christian.

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Part III of the Annoying Christian series tackled the concept that Christians are annoying because they don't practice what they preach.

The scripture for this sermon: came from Ezekiel 16:49 and Jeremiah 22:13-16.
  • Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony and laziness while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. Ezekiel 16:49   
  • He gave justice and help to the poor and needy and everything went well for him.  Isn’t that what it means to know me says the Lord? Jeremiah 22:16
Which of these verses best describes The Church and its body? 

79% of un-churched people believe that Christianity is more organized religion than loving God and loving people.  When the majority of people think Christianity is more organized religion than living out what Jesus said is the GREATEST commandment we have an issue!

If you haven't guessed it, the majority of non-Christians would say that the verse from Ezekiel 16:49 best describes The Church.  Yikes.

Do Christian practice what they preach?

One survey by the Barna Group showed that only 20% of Christians believe that "loving your neighbor" means actually caring for and serving "neighbors" as a main concern of faith.

(Did you get that math?  Nearly 80% of non-Christians think the Christian church is organized religion and only 20% of Christians think they should lovingly care for others.  Wonder if there's a cause/effect relationship there!?!?)

If we want the world to see us differently, we need to live our lives as missionaries.  Not just as missionaries around the word, but as missionaries around the corner.  We’re all called to be missionaries to our own city.  Our lives are in the mission field. 

Look at your life last week?  What truths of Christ did you practice?

What COULD be said if we preached what we practiced?

1.  It could be said that Christians are full of pride (Jeremiah 22:13-15a)

We live in one of the few countries of the world where we go nearly EVERY day with no physical reminder that we need God.

Unfortunately, spiritual freedom and financial abundance lead to pride.

Look what I have?  Look what I've done.  For many Christians, because of where we live, we feel like we deserve all we have--we even feel like we deserve what we *don't* have--a nicer car, a bigger house, another pair of jeans ... We drive, live in, and wear our status because we "earned" it.

For many on the outside, Christians are prideful.  We think and act that we get the love of Jesus because of something we've done.  We act like He owes us.

2.  It could be said that Christians are gluttonous 

One word can be used to describe Christians: consumers.  We consume, consume, and consume while the poor and needy beg outside our gates.

Being a Christians is easy in America.  We don't know the risks--physically, spiritually, or emotionally--that Christians elsewhere know.

Being a Christian even comes with great perks. 

We get to pick our churches because we like the music, the teaching, the life groups, the comfy chairs ... we consume, consume, consume our spirituality like it is all about us.

In our gluttony, we've forgotten that the Church does NOT exist for us.  It does exist for them. Are we living like it?

What do we contribute?  What do we share?  What do we give? Are my needs my only concern?


3.  It could be said that Christians are lazy.

What does it mean to know Christ?

The Word says that to know Christ we need to give justice and help to the poor and needy. But do you know what happens when we find someone poor and needy?  We call the church.

What if God placed that needy person in your path so that you can know Him?

We’re not called to live in poverty but we are called to care for the poor.  We’re not called to live in need but we are called to provide for the needy.

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Christians are annoying because we preach about love and grace and giving but in our actions, we tend to be selfish, prideful, gluttonous, and lazy.

How do we change this?

It is true that we can do everything but we can all do something.  


To love authentically, we can't love begrudgingly.

It is time for The Church to rise up and provide justice and care for those around us.

It is time for the people of Christ to prove the love of Christ can transcend political debates, geographical boundaries, and materialism.

It is time to put our hearts, minds, money, and feet where our theological mouths are.

What I think is that it's time to be the hands and feet.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    9/30--A Disturbing Trend

    A trend is developing--brown boots, ruffly shirt. I'm not sure how this happened but so far in the 30 for 30, I've pretty much only worn brown boots and shirts with ruffles.

    *SIGH*

    Eventually I'm pretty sure I'll stop wearing the same three pieces of clothing and actually branch out. I hope.

    Anyhow, today I wore a white button down shirt (with ruffles) from Gap, a khaki pencil skirt from Banana Republic, thrifted brown boots, thrifted brown belt, teal tights from Kohl's and bracelets from Kolh's.



    Guest Blogger

    Hip Hip Hooray!

    I'm a guest blogger today.

    Go to Good Tots

    To see all my thoughts.

    And then go outside and play!

    Tuesday's Too Clean Tip--Hardwood Floors

    I love hardwood floors. We had oak, fir, cherry and now hickory floors.  I've loved them all.

    When it comes to wood floors, they can last forever if they are treated nicely.

    So if you have hardwood, here are some tips to care for them.
    1. Don't wear high heels on hard wood floors.  Ever.
    2. Buy floor mats that are specifically for hardwood floors. They should be well vented and shaken out regularly.  Run-of-the-mill rubber backed floor mats are bad for hardwood floors.
    3. Remove liquid spills ASAP.  Liquid is enemy #1 for hardwood flooring.
    4. Dust and dirt are enemy #2.  They act like sandpaper and scratch and damage hardwood (which is why you need to shake out rugs regularly).
    5. Use soft bristled brooms or terry cloth dust mops.
    6. Never drag furniture across hardwood floors.
    7. The sun can damage your hardwood floors. Watch what time of day floors are exposed to the sun.
    And now for the cleaning part.
    Source

    Cleaning hardwood can be tricky.  There are soaps, like Murphy's Soap Oil, that *seem* appealing but can actually be bad for your floor.  Oil based soaps actually make floors less shiny.

    So what to do, what to do?

    In a bucket of warm water, add a small amount of white vinegar.  Mops with a soft fabric mop head.  Go back over to soak up excess water.

    Don't want to use vinegar?  Do the same process with Windex.

    For shine, make a mixture (1:1) of vegetable oil and white vinegar.  Rub in with a soft rag and buff like you are polishing a car.  Your wood will shine (but it will also be slick so be careful).

    These directions are for sealed floors.  If you have unsealed floors, water from a mop will damage your hardwood.  You'll need to use linseed oil and a rag to clean those floors (though I STRONGLY suggest you get them sealed!).

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    8/30--Knotty

    I found this gold belt new with tags at Goodwill for $1. The only problem was that it was size 2X.  I figured Matt would be able to trim it for me and add a few holes so I could make it work but between working long hours, being a dad, and finishing the basement, he hasn't had time.

    Yesterday at Gap (we were there for Matt!) I saw that the new "thing" is to knot skinny belts.  Problem solved.  Welcome, gold belt!





    Brown Cardigan--The Limited
    Gray ruffle shirt--Old Navy
    American Eagle Boyfriend 77 Jeans
    Brown ballet flats--Gap
    Gold belt--thrift store
    Gold earrings--Kohl's


    M.E. just wanted a photo of her twirling.  That's a whole lot cuter than my knotted belt, is it not?

    7/30--Comfort Sweater

    Everyone has a comfort food.

    I have a comfort sweater.

    I bought this sweater from Gap in the Fall of 2006 and it has been a winter time lovey ever since.

    It goes with skirts and slacks and jeans and shorts ... I love it. 

    Here my comfort sweater is paired with Old Navy Diva skinny jeans, thrift books, gold necklace and big honkin' gold earrings.



    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    6/30 Fringe Factor

    Confession:  I pretty much wore a white and hot pink striped bikini all day on Saturday because I was at an indoor water park.  Yes there are photos of me in said bikini.  No I will not post them; I like you all too much :) 

    My sister and I did get dressed to go shopping at 10 pm (yes, we are the reason Kohl's is open until midnight) and here's what I wore. 

    White long sleeved T, American Eagle Favorite Boyfriend jeans, clogs, fringe scarf

    My sister gave me this scarf.  I heart it.  It's one of those "that's so you" scarfs.  Everyone says so.

    What's Cookin'--11/15-11/21

    We are in the process of finishing our basement. Which means eating routines have become very abnormal.  Which means we've eaten out and on the fly more often then normal. Which means a lot of my meals haven't gotten eaten.  Which means most of these meals are repeats from a few weeks ago when we didn't eat them.

    Monday--Honey pepper pork loin with harvest stuffing
    Tuesday--Lemon glazed chicken and rice
    Wednesday--Chipotle black bean and asparagus enchiladas
    Thursday--pepper steak and loaded potatoes
    Friday--manicotti and salad
    Saturday--garlic chicken and mashed potatoes
    Sunday--Stir fry