Jul 18, 2012

Birthday Banner

There's a birthday coming, and with it comes my incessant need to create a tradition. I know. That's the dumbest thing ever. But it's true. With every event, or holiday, or moment, I find myself losing sleep over how to either a) capture the "moment" or b) to be able to recreate it. And, lets be honest, the best, most long-standing traditions are not ones that have been conjured up in someones head, or read on someones Pinterest board. They're sudden, spur-of-the-moment, not-intended-to-be-sacred, pauses in time. (Like my family's tradition to watch the very wholesome, family movie "Christmas Vacation" on the eve of the birth of our Savior every year. Don't judge.)

Anywho, as I was perusing FB a few months ago, I saw a photo of a girlfriend's daughter on her b-day, sitting in her highchair with a subtly decorated kitchen in the background. This stuck out to me because said girlfriend was preparing for the big b-day shindig... which was to be over the upcoming weekend. And then I realized, she decorated her kitchen (nothing over-the-top) for THE birthday. The actual day this precious girl left the womb was being celebrated by her Mama, her Daddy and her little sister. Oh yes, the party was to follow, but they didn't miss The Day.


It sounds so simple. It is so simple. But I've missed it. Don't get me wrong, we have b-day morning photos, and make a huge deal out of the entire day that the b-day party is taking place, but the D-A-T-E has been overlooked. Drat.

And then came the light bulb!

As I looked back through old photos of The Girl, I realized I have a great "cake" photo of her from all 3 previous birthdays. What fun! A birthday banner!

Each year, I'm going to take that sacred "cake photo" and add it on to this simple, I'm-not-a-scrapbooker banner. And, just to kick it up a notch, a few things will be included on the backside: How we celebrated; What she asked for; and Her own signature (or an outline of her hand if she's too young to write.)

This is a great, simple way for me to catch a moment, without having to maintain a scrapbook. It will also store easily, and make for great decorations (and conversation starters?) in years to follow. To make it extra-suspenseful, I'm going to bring out each "pendant" that many days before her birthday each year. (ie. 3 days before her b-day I'll hang up her 3rd Birthday Pendant, and so on...)

Time to go and make #1 for The Boy.

Nothing spells LOVE like B-B-Q

Since about mid-May, I've had the pleasure of putting many "Pins" to use as my sister-in-law and I planned a couples BBQ wedding shower for her brother/my brother-in-law and our new (almost) sister! The trickiest part of this whole deal was finding adorable things on Pinterest and attempting to  find sneaky ways to get them to one another to read/check-out-- without the Bride seeing what we were up to!

Anyway, here's how things ended up. It was a great evening with friends and family. And, as much as I wanted to pray against rain, I took one for the farmers and told the Lord we could squeeze the tables inside if need be. However, as you all know, that was not an issue... and we continue to wait for the rain.

As our guests arrived, we had each couple fill out a hilarious Mad-libs pertaining to wedding advice for the couple. They were read aloud as the couple-of-honor opened their gifts.

Apparently a few shower guests thought these were real "sliders." They're actually a yellow cupcake cut in half, with half of a chocolate cupcake stacked inside as the "burger." A little yellow icing (mustard)... a little red icing (ketchup) and a toothpick... and voila! (Props to my friend Mrs. R who made these for The Girl's 1st b-day and coached me along as I attempted to remake her art.)

This simple/inexpensive piece of decor was not a Pinterest find thankyouverymuch! I hijacked the Bride & Groom's Facebook photos. Then, I printed them at Sam's Club. Finally, with some hemp and clothespins I had in my crafting "stash," we hung them as a backdrop.

One of the main reasons we chose to do a BBQ (besides having an awesome park-like backyard) was because of this... S'MORES BAR for dessert! We hunted around our local grocers to find out what sorts of marshmallow flavorings they offered (strawberry, toasted coconut and jumbo) and then came up with the menu (see next photo.)

Thankfully, my FIL was thinking ahead and thought to call the police department who Embrace the Pace to see how the burn ban would affect this main-piece of our party. Luckily, we got the go-ahead. Phew!

I've decided when having a buffet, either a menu or placards in front of each "dish" are helpful to guests. We went with a menu. Pre-wrapped silverware with a "dig-in" tag was a fun, whimsical touch, too.

And, to keep with our theme, we labeled mason jars and encouraged guests to write their name on their jar and keep it "in sight."

The other hostess helped with putting pens in all the centerpieces so we wouldn't have to go on a mad-hunt when game time came around.

Centerpieces were: mason jars spray-painted with stained glass paint, aluminum cans wrapped in scrapbook paper, and sitting on a round piece of scrapbook paper. All were placed on a tablecloth of "butcher-block" paper, purchased by the roll at Dollar Tree.

And there you have it. Behind me (as I was taking this photo) were yard games: corn hole, ladder ball and horseshoes.

This was so much fun to plan. It was especially fun because: 1) I live with my in-laws and don't currently have a home/yard to manage. 2) I live with my in-laws and have help with my children. and 3) I live with my in-laws and am not presently working. So, what I'm saying is, I'll likely never in my life have the time I presently do to devote to an event like this. It was fun ;)

Jul 16, 2012

Marinated Green Beans

1 1/2 lbs fresh green beans, trimmed
3/4 C white vinegar
1/4 C sugar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1. Cook beans in boiling water to cover 4 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process, drain.
2. Whisk together vinegar and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add beans and onion, tossing to coat. Cover and chill 4 hours. Serve with a slotted spoon.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Corn/Tomato/Avocado Salad

My sister-in-laws sister gave me this recipe about 8 years ago, and it has been a crowd pleaser ever since.

4 ears of corn, cooked & taken off cob (or 3 cans corn "nibblets", drained)
1 pt. cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4C red onion, chopped
4 oz. Monterrey jack cheese, cubed
1 avocado, cut into chunks

Place above ingredients in a bowl together.

In a separate bowl, combine:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1 clove garlic

Whisk or shake together until well mixed. Pour over corn mixture and stir until covered. Chill about an hour before serving. Can be made the night before.

Chocolate Eclair Cake

When Mom used to ask me what kind of b-day cake I wanted, this was my request. OH YUM!

2 (3 ounce) packages instant  vanilla pudding mix
3 cups milk
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (16 ounce) package graham crackers
1 (16 ounce) package prepared chocolate frosting

  1. In a large bowl, combine pudding mix and 3 cups milk; mix well. Fold in whipped topping and beat with mixer for 2 minutes.
  2. In a  9x13 inch baking dish, spread a layer of graham crackers on the bottom of the dish.
  3. Spread 1/2 of the pudding mixture over crackers, then top with graham crackers. Spread remaining pudding over crackers; top second pudding layer with another layer of crackers.
  4. Microwave frosting for 30 seconds. Stir carefully (It overflows easily.) Pour over top layer of crackers and spread evenly.
  5. Cover. Refrigerate overnight, or at least 12 hours before serving.

Jul 3, 2012

Journal starter

Reflect back to elementary school. You there? Okay-- did your teacher (circa 4th or 5th grade) ever give you "journal starters" to spark a creative writing exercise? The one I most easily recall went something like...  "On my summer vacation I..." We would then be encouraged to write without stopping... to let the creative words flow.

Okay. Back to present day.

This morning at my mom's I was reading a coffee table book she got from my cousin Hasso, who is raising support to go full time with Wycliffe Bible Translators. The book is called "Worship The Global Hallelujah" and it's infused with scripture, photos, quotes and ... journal starters!

This one caught my attention, and I plan to spend time pondering it: "If at the end of my life God showed me what my worship of Him looked like, here is what I'd want to see..."

I can immediately think of what I don't want to see. It's selfish. It focus on MY wants, MY emotions, MY needs. What I want to see when worshiping the Author and Creator of my life should have nothing to do with me.

In their book, Wycliffe suggest worship is:
-what we were created for.
-expressing our love to God.
-God's children gathering to proclaim His faithfulness.
-both quiet trusting and loud proclaiming of God's eternal Word.
-the flow of God's Spirit through lives of those who depend on Him.
-welcoming God to change us.
-surrendering our will to God's will.
-both a personal experience and a shared experience.
-proclaiming the victory of Christ in the midst of difficulties.
-praising God no matter where we are or who we are.
... just to name a few.

So I'll ask you again, "If at the end of my life God showed me what my worship of Him looked like, here is what I'd want to see..."

Boys and girls, you have 15 minutes to complete this task. I should hear no talking, and your pencils should keep moving the entire time. You don't have to write in complete sentences. Just jot down whatever comes to mind. You may stop writing when the bell rings.