Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Everyday Days

I feel like I don't write down many of our daily life kind of things much anymore, and I know one day I'll look back and desperately wish I had. So that's what this post is going to be!
 I die of cuteness, right?

 Look closely at that smile!
First things first, Isabelle has gone and lost her very first tooth, despite my cajoling, threatening, and/or pleading to stay my little baby girl! She was so brave! Not a single tear! In fact, she disappeared upstairs last Tuesday during the snowstorm (that cancelled school) and nonchalantly returned with tiny tooth in tow. "Here Mama, I don't want to lose it before the tooth fairy has a chance to give me my money." Nice.

Jonah scored two goals at his game yesterday, and both sets of grandparents were there to see it too! Ethan and I made a cake together (after the original brownies idea didn't pan out, hardy ha ha ha) so he could decorate it like a Nitrogen atom- is that the correct word? Atom? Particle? Element? Well I know it's an element at least! Other than that, I really can't convince myself to care too much. And Caleb thinks he might be getting to sing a solo at his next concert- he had to miss his last one because he was so sick. Major bummer because those little kid concerts are just one of my favorite things in the whole world to watch!

I've begun reading for fun again, and it's well, fun! This motherhood business is so hard on things like finding balance for needs, wants, and the other, and even determining what are wants, needs, etc. I'm still sewing up a proverbial storm. Business is just again picking up in my little shop, so if you're reading this and you've purchased something, thank you thank you thank you! If you haven't but are still reading just the same, thank you, too! It's gratifying for a wordy girl like me to feel heard sometimes. =)

I haven't yet told Isabelle we're going to visit with some good friends tomorrow, so she's bound to be giddy happy over that news! Does anyone else have as hard a time as I do trying to maintain friendships? I guess I thought once I "grew up" things would fall ever so perfectly into place, and my marriage would be perfect, my children would adore me at all times, and I would have ample time to spend with my many true friends.

Ryder and I went exploring through the woods earlier this morning, and it was a peaceful, lovely hike! Birds chirping, streams rushing, and the sun bright and warm overhead. I must have been lost in thought because we ended up on an unfamiliar trail, and then I couldn't find my back to it after I'd ventured off on a whim, ha! So we backtracked a little and finally found what I thought was the same trail. Until I could see the back end of the hospital (which seemed really, really far from where we'd started!) and realized I must have missed a marker yet again. Oh well. It was a great hike, and a good half an hour longer than anticipated, we reached the van and headed home.

Isabelle and I are going to make something to deliver to our neighbors- maybe the truffles we love so much- along with an invitation to Easter services at church. We still don't know everyone very well, but saying hello with treats seems like a good start, right?

If I'm going to finish (which means I have to start) our Mother-Daughter Easter outfits, plus ties for the guys, then I suppose I had better get to it. Wish me luck! Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Here are some pictures I was just looking at from Isabelle's first Easter at home with us- she looks so tiny!!

I still remember how giddy I was to order that little chicky hair clip from either ebay or Etsy- I had never had a reason to buy little girl accessories before! Also, note the two Easter for church and dinner with my parents, the other for church and dinner with Bill's parents. This makes me smile. I just couldn't believe that she was finally here, with me, after waiting so long to bring her home!
Waiting is always hard, but when you're waiting on something -or someone- as precious as this, it is always worth it!

Friday, March 22, 2013

No-Yeast Cheesy Herb Bread

Wow, this whole week has flown by all right! I wish I could say that we've got plans to do something Spring-y this weekend, but...the fresh 12 inches of powder we got on Tuesday has kind of thwarted that. Oh well. Soon! (I hope!)

Since it's still cold and winter-like, I thought I'd finally share this recipe. This easy, hearty herb bread is really more like a giant cheesy biscuit, and since there's no yeast involved, you can prepare it in a cinch. My guys love it with homemade chili or slow-cooker ribs!

The original recipe didn't call for Pepper Jack cheese, but it gives the bread some kick! You can certainly omit it, and the bread will still be delicious.

Here's What You Need
1 1/2 Cups unbleached flour
1/4 Cup (or to taste) grated Pepper Jack cheese
1/4 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. yellow cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 Cup butter, room temp or softened
2 eggs
1/2 C 2% milk (or Half and Half for a slightly creamier texture)
3/4 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
dash garlic powder

Here's What You Do
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F; lightly grease or spray large cookie sheet/ baking pan

2. Combine flour, cheeses, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly.

3. In a different bowl, beat eggs. Add milk (or Half and Half) and spices; whisk until blended. Add liquid mixture to flour mixture and stir gently to form a ball. Turn out onto well-floured surface and lightly knead dough a dozen or so times. If it's too sticky, simply add more flour, knead a few more times.

4. Place dough onto prepared pan and pat to form another circle, about an inch thick. Score top (don't cut too deeply) into 8 even wedges with a sharp knife; sprinkle with additional Parmesan if desired.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean from center. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes; serve warm. Enjoy!

The pic below is a little wonky- sorry! It had already gotten dark out by the time we ate it!  =)

Happy Friday! We're {semi} gutting a fun!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Happy Things This Week

I spent lots of time in the kitchen this week. I don't hear anybody complaining...
(I'll share the recipe for this cheesy herb bread soon!)

After a whole week out of school, the cute one on the left is finally feeling better!
 (oh that Mater blanket lives on!)

Today my niece Darianna turns 19 years old! She came over for lunch today so we celebrated, just us girls.

 (Should the fact that Isabelle proudly exclaimed "I will win because I cheat" be of concern?)

(Darianna's favorite color is purple)

Making playdough like my Mom used to make for me- so warm and squishy!

Really needed these pretty petals to get through another wintry, snowy, windy week.

Okay, this may have caused spontaneous bursts of dancing and singing last night...
 (well we got a new toilet too, but I suppose I needn't post pictures of that

The party kept on going today too...with big plans to adios that ugly medicine cabinet!

 It's heavier than it looks! Which might be why it nearly crashed to the floor. Oops.
It was sort of suspended by the electrical cords at the top-- and some of the screws had been put in crooked and weren't coming back out!-- but I was getting closer! 
Cue more dancing and singing, visions of pretty tulip fixtures swirling in my head. 
And then...

Oh crap.

Now that's going to require a little creative thinking because I am NOT patching up another wall in this house! (The photo is slightly misleading-- that hole is ginormous!)

On a happier note, the boys are going to rip up some tiles tonight. Cannot even wait!!!!

ps- No, I didn't put that hole in the wall. Phew!

A Little Test from Bloglovin'

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Hmm. More changes in blogland. Not a huge fan. This is just a little test....

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Whoopie Pies With REAL Creme Filling

Isabelle was so excited to get off the kinder-bus at a friend's house the other day. We (the Mamas) planned to meet up at gymnastics after lunch since our girls are in the same class. On the way home from gymnastics, Isabelle announced that her friend's Mom (who is so kind and sweet!) hadn't let them watch a movie in the car. And she was pretty bummed about it. I giggled, and told her how surprised I was by this, since after all, her friend's Mom is waaaaay more fun than me.

"I know," Isabelle eagerly pipes up. No pause, no hesitation, just as matter-of-fact as you get. Ha Ha Ha

Maybe these yummy, fun treats will redeem me!

If you know me at all, then you know I'm all about finding things to celebrate as a family, such as Pi Day. Since the crust-making gene seems to have skipped over me, I thought I might surprise my crew with Whoopie Pies for 3.14 instead. It's for the best, really. So.Many.Tears. Making pies shouldn't make a girl cry, right?

I found this recipe and promptly fell in love.
I made some very slight adjustments.

For the Pies
1/4 cup Crisco
1 cup milk
1 scant cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 cup + 1 heaping Tbsp cocoa (I use a combination of regular and dark)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
dash salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together the Crisco, sugar, egg and vanilla; then add the milk alternately with the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. This cuts way down on the amount of dust, but it still gets a little dirty. Don't set the speed too fast at the beginning!

Using a cookie scoop (spoons would work but probably not come out as perfectly round), drop onto ungreased baking pan/ cookie sheet. They spread more than I thought they would so don't overcrowd the pan- I have 12 per pan. Bake for 7-8 minutes (this oven seems hotter than my old one); pies may need another minute, but keep an eye on them! Remove from oven and transfer to cookie rack immediately. Sometimes the bottoms get that "crust" when you remove them, and sometimes they stay smooth, but they all taste phenomenal. Go figure.

For the Creme Filling
1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup butter, very soft
1 cup white sugar
1.5 Tbsp flour
generous dash vanilla
1/2 cup 2% milk (warmed for 15 seconds in microwave)

The author of the original recipe said you'd have to beat the filling for a l-o-n-g time, and it's true! Mix the butter and shortening together for a minute or two, then add the sugar and mix some more. Add remaining ingredients, put the mixer on medium speed and go do your nails. Or walk the dog. Just does take forever for the lumps to dissipate and the filling to resemble that gorgeous, fluffy creme. No fluff-from-a-jar required!

And there you have it! Perfect, heavenly Whoopie Pies!
I filled up nearly 3 cookie sheets, so that's...what...about 36? I'd say you can count on 15-17 assembled bites of pure, glorious, sweet perfection.
  *I've also added pure vanilla bean paste to the cream filling- I dip in a butter knife and let it drip off into the mixing bowl with the other ingredients. It's really really good!

Who says I'm not fun? I even jazzed some up for St. Patrick's Day! =)

Alas, they won't last around these parts 'til St. Patty's Day.
Or Pi Day for that matter...

Thinking ahead to St. Patrick's Day, here is a photo of the rainbow fruit plate I made for Isabelle's birthday party- so pretty and cheerful! My grocery list just keeps getting longer and longer this week...

Interested in other fab recipes?
Check out these...

Sharing this post with:
All She Cooks
Crafts a la Mode 
Six Sisters' Stuff 
Sew Many Ways
At The Picket Fence

Hi there...nice to meet you!

Hello, and welcome to my blog! I'm really glad that you're here! For those of you might be new, I thought I'd write up a little introduction about how and why I started blogging, and the big adventure God is leading us to this time.
I had never heard of a blog until I traveled to Guatemala in 2007 to meet our soon-to-be daughter and met other adoptive mothers who were blogging about their adoption processes. I was intrigued, and I was also weary of the unending questions about how our own adoption was going, so I dipped my toes into the world of blogging in the spring of 2008 as a way to record our own process- that first blog was called Princesa Makes Six, and it was quite a learning experience. Well, for a non-techie like me it was!

This is my favorite picture of Isabelle and me, taken outside our second apartment in Antigua, Guatemala, where we lived for over three months (we thought it would be 2 weeks!) finalizing things. Our adoption was not easy, but it was SO worth it. 
Then, somewhere along the way, I discovered other blogs about families and was hooked! On Mother's Day in 2009, I imported my first blog- which made me quite proud, by the way- and created Our 3 Sons Plus 1...Super Cute Girly Girl, where I've written about our family life for the past three and a half years.

Let me back up just a bit more...
I married my wonderful husband, Bill, on September 6th, 1997

Before Isabelle came into our lives, I was the only girl in our happy little brood of men...
Look at those adorable faces!
We LOVE adventure!

I also discovered many new blogs about sewing, DIY-ing, cooking, and a multitude of other things I'm interested! Just wow! There are so many great ones out there! My blog focuses on my faith, my family, home improvement projects, traveling, crafts, cooking, and sewing.
Soooo, why did we sell our beloved home of over a decade...
...and move our young family into this older, not-quite-our-taste house?
We feel led to adopt again (yay!) and we are all too aware of the high costs (boo!) associated with adopting. After months of prayer and discussion, we took the leap of faith, sold our home, spent 2 1/2 months living in transition with my gracious in-laws, and then God led us to this house- just the right size, and for the right price, so that now we have a little "adoption egg" sitting in the bank when we need it.
As I've mentioned before, this move has been considerably harder than I thought it would be. But we're working hard, determined to make it feel like home, on the strictest budget we can manage.
By the way, I also tend to ramble. A lot. As evidenced by this lengthy introduction post.

I truly enjoy being part of a world-wide community of people who share their ideas, thoughts, and experiences - there is so much inspiration out there! I would be so honored if my little blog were ever to inspire or encourage anyone!
Thanks for reading, and please say hello!  =)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Beautiful Day to Spring Forward

Ahh. Today was just one of those days you soak up and hope to relive again and again. Aside from Caleb still not feeling well, it was just one of those perfect Saturdays that make you feel so, so good! We didn't even do anything out of the ordinary, but just so I'll always remember, I'm writing a list. Anyone reading this who knows me personally is chuckling right now.  =)

~a leisurely pancake breakfast with sunshine pouring through the French doors in the kitchen

~Jonah's {winning}soccer game with Mimi and Grampy, and watching Isabelle skip back and forth, giggling the most delightful little girl giggle in the whole world all the while

~boys shooting hoops with Dad in the shorts!

~Isabelle blowing bubbles out on the deck without a coat or jacket on, and laying with Ryder afterwards

~a nice, long walk by myself (also sans jacket), listening to cheerful birdsong, and thinking thinking thinking

~finally deciding on a floor for the dining room...and kitchen! Lowe's with Jonah and Bill, and ordering it

~also deciding on a system for our very small closet and picking that up (same trip), along with a new faucet, and having a coupon for it all

~choosing to stop painting the smaller bathroom a color I'm just not loving, and feeling GREAT about that because I have learned that lesson the hard way

~opening the windows both upstairs and downstairs

~more walks with the children and Bill and the dog

~actually getting the ball in the net a few times (wow! no, really, wow!)

~replacing the snowman on the front door with my favorite floral arrangement

~going to a store to browse all by myself after dinner

~finding sunglasses on sale

~and now, here I sit in a quiet house, everyone upstairs asleep while Bill and Ethan are at his soccer game- I never like to miss his games, but it feels absolutely divine to putter around here, cleaning up the kitchen, rearranging some Easter decorations, and looking through pictures all by my lonesome for a little while

Today was a beautiful day!

ps. tomorrow it will be light after 6 pm!!!!!! I cannot wait!!!!!!

Friday, March 8, 2013

2 No-Bake Party Favorites Recipes!

When you've got a big family, there's always someone's birthday party on the horizon! Here are two party-worthy recipes for delicious, easy, no-bake treats that guarantee smiles every time.

Party Favorite #1 ~ Oreo Truffles
These are often referred to as "Orea Balls," but that name doesn't do a thing for me, so we call them Oreo Truffles. If it's got a chocolate candy coating, it's a truffle! (No, it really is...I looked it up!)

1 package Oreos (we use double-stuf)
1 brick cream cheese, slightly softened (lower fat is fine but I don't recommend no-fat)
Preferred candy coating- chocolate chips, bark, bars, you name it!
You'll also need a wax paper-lined cookie sheet/ baking pan

1. Pulverize whole Oreos in food processor (or you can put them in a bag and crush them with a rolling pin); Add cream cheese to cookie crumbs, either for a few seconds in the processor or with a mixer. Mixture will be very sticky, so chill for about 30 minutes or until easier to work with. Shape into bite-sized balls, pressing with fingertips (too sticky for rolling in your palm); place on lined pan.
     **optional for added texture: shape a smaller ball, roll in mini chocolate chips or candy sprinkles, then add more dough to form finished size - I don't have pics of this step because I had to finish fast and my hands were waaaay too sticky to touch my camera, but you can see some sprinkles in the picture above**

2. Return pan to fridge to chill for 15ish minutes - this helps them hold their shape better for the coating.

3. Melt the coating - I place about 6-8 oz at a time in a glass measuring cup and melt in 30-second intervals in the microwave. Dip one ball at a time, gently rolling it in the melted coating with a fork, then lift it up and lightly tap fork against the edge of the cup, shaking off excess coating. Using a toothpick or another fork, carefully push coated ball onto lined pan; add sprinkles. Return pan to fridge again so coating will set nicely, and...devour! I actually have no idea how many this yields because they don't stick around long enough to count! Probably 30ish? This recipe halves easily, too, when you need a few for say...the party you completely forgot about that starts in an hour; and you can adjust the amount of cream cheese to your particular liking. It's a win-win!
     Remember to keep these chilled because of the cream cheese!

Party Favorite #2 ~ Golden Cake Batter Truffles

1 box yellow cake mix (you'll use 1 cup, which leaves leftover mix for future truffles!)
1/2 cup softened butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp+ vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup dry cake mix
dash salt
4 Tbsp+ milk
1-2 Tbsp sprinkles or other tiny candies
You'll also need a wax paper-lined cookie sheet/ baking pan

1. Mix butter and sugar until creamy; add vanilla. Next, add flour, dry cake mix, salt and blend well; add milk (you may need more to reach correct consistency). Stir in candies or sprinkles by hand. Shape batter into balls- these roll nicely in your palms- and place on wax paper-lined pan; if batter is too sticky, chill it for several minutes and try again. When finished shaping balls, return pan to fridge for 15-30 minutes to firm up.

2. Melt bark or candy coating according to directions or in the microwave, as I do (see above). Follow the same method for dipping and coating. **PLEASE NOTE - candy bark sets much faster than melted chocolate, so add sprinkles immediately after coating!** Makes about 30 truffles. They are fantastic, however...I think they have a slightly tin taste, so they are a close second to the Oreo Truffles, which none of us can muster up enough willpower to resist.

This recipe was slightly adapted from this one over at Chef in Training. I think I'll try Confetti cake mix next time...or Devil's Food with dark chocolate coating...or use colored candy wafers for coating...

I made these treats for our older middle son's birthday earlier this week to share with classmates, and for his special-requested Death By Chocolate Birthday Party.

Have a wonderful weekend! I've had a sick little guy on my hands this week, and I'm hoping he makes a turn for the better soon!

linking up with  Six Sisters' Stuff, Sew Many Ways
Alderberry Hill, All She Cooks 
Crafts a la Mode

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Jonah's Death By Chocolate Party

This year, Jonah's birthday party was a low-key but lots-of-fun family celebration. I had to laugh when, with a twinkle in his hazel eyes, he told me he wanted a cake so chocolatey he'd die. Of course he immediately assured me he was kidding about the dying part, he just wanted to make sure I got the message about the chocolate part.  ;o)

Message received, loud and clear. A boy after my own heart. Jonah has definitely inherited his Mama's sweet tooth- while Ethan would nibble on his Easter bunny or other treat, I'd turn my back for a split second and whole entire ears (or very large pieces) would be gone! Bill and I would just lose it laughing- Jonah could devour those sweets SO fast! Of course there was the inevitable chocolate river dribble down the chin, but that adorable cherub face could handle a little, um, chocolate slime.

And now...12 years old! We know God has BIG plans for this smart, funny & talented boy!

On the morning of his birthday (Tuesday), Ethan had an ortho appointment, Jonah had a big Egypt project to turn in, and I had some treats for his class, so things started out a bit hectic. It was also kind of a big deal to go to school on his birthday since it usually falls on the week of Winter Break.

As tradition goes, we make lollipops for friends at school, but this year Jonah didn't want me to make them. Gasp! I think he was afraid of me embarrassing him. What nonsense, right? I don't need lollipops to embarrass a kid! Cake Bites did the trick. =)

I'll write a post with the two recipes tomorrow. And I have no idea why there is only one half of the Oreo Truffle. No idea at all, er-hmm.

Okay, so technically, this shot was taken after the party- see the candle hole?- but in my defense that was the only time I had natural light and it was so pretty I wanted a "real" photo of it. It got dark early and started to snow again Tuesday afternoon.

 I would've turned it around, but there is nothing there! It was yummy!

Some photos of party central...

Jonah really loves bright, bold colors, and sports. He also chose to eat out for his birthday dinner, so I saved where I could. Dollar store plates, napkins and balloons to the rescue.

 The one above is the mirror's reflection- I thought it looked so neat!

Leftover pieces of crepe paper make a great colorful backdrop for the table.

Isabelle had gone to a friend's house so I had a few uninterrupted hours to decorate and bake, and I felt so happy making things festive for Jonah. I know he was a little disappointed not to have a "friend party" this year, but we'll have a big bash for his 13th. Ugh. I don't even want to think about that!

Let's think about chocolate instead...

One last look at the birthday cake, an explosion of chocolate, berries and fresh cream- yum!

I hope Jonah felt adored and celebrated on his special day! Thank you Mimi & Grampy and Grandma & Grandpa!

I'll have that recipe soon, and I'm still stocking up my little Etsy shop, so if you know of anyone looking for some pretty handmade clothes...wink wink  ;)

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful day!

If you'd like, you can read about Jonah's 11th birthday party.
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