Tuesday, February 28, 2012

French Dip Crescents

Ever since I saw the French Dip Crescents on Pinterest last week, I've been dying to try them.  I even made a special trip to Walmart to get the ingredients.  Unfortunately (but typical), Walmart did not have one of the ingredients I needed, the Au Jus gravy mix, and then I forgot to get the horseradish.  I decided to "make do" with what I had, and we really liked the results!

French Dip Crescents Ingredients:
~8 oz. deli sliced roast beef (I used Hillshire Farms.)
sliced cheese (I used Swiss, but other recipes call for Provolone.)
one tube of 8 crescent rolls (I got the grand crescents which are 50% bigger than the regular.)
A-1 sauce

Au Jus Ingredients:
carrots (I used 4 "chips")
thyme (did not measure)
onion powder (did not measure)
butter (did not measure)
enough water to mostly fill a small pot
one tub of Knorr's homestyle stock, beef flavor


Begin the au jus about an hour before you want to serve.

1.  Put carrots, thyme, and onion powder in a small pot.  Add butter.  Melt the butter and mix with the carrots and seasonings.
2.  Add water and heat.
3.  Add Knorr's homestyle beef stock.  Mix.
4.  Heat to almost boiling.  Simmer until crescents are done.

5.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
6.  Unwrap a crescent roll at a time.  Stretch out the dough a little so that the big end looks a little more like a rectangle.
7.  Drip A-1 onto the crescent roll.
8.  Divide the roast beef into 8 roughly equal portions.  Put 1/8 onto the crescent roll.
9.  Top with cheese (I put 1/4 slice of cheese on each one. You can add more if you like.)
10.  Roll up and put on ungreased baking sheet.  Repeat for remaining crescent rolls.
11.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until the crescents are golden brown.

12.  Put au jus into as many serving dishes as you need.

My husband was out Soulwinning this morning when I made this.  He brought home hamburgers from a new burger place, not knowing that I'd prepared lunch.  I said I still wanted to try them, and he said he wanted to try them as well.  We both loved them!  Definitely a keeper recipe!

Original Sources:

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Christmas Book Bags

 As you all know, I'm a big fan of Pinterest.  I found a ton of ideas (3,737 pins so far!) including some wonderful ones to use at Christmastime.  One of my favorite ideas is wrapping up Christmas books and choosing one every day or every other day to open up and read.  I didn't get a chance to use this idea this past Christmas, but I was determined to get ready to use it for next Christmas.

I already had some Christmas fabric and rope on hand.  I had wanted to make reusable gift bags, but never got around to it.  I decided to use them for the book bags instead.  Even though I really love how Design Dazzle made her Christmas book bags using ribbon, I really didn't want to buy anything extra for this.  That is the reason I initially decided to use the rope for tying the bags.  My original design called for making a simple bag out of one long rectangle of fabric sewed right sides together and turned inside-out as well as a tube (or casing) which would be sewed onto the bag and used to house the rope.  After about five (out of 16) bags, I decided to ditch the rope.  Turning the casings inside-out was difficult and time-consuming.  I came up with an idea that was MUCH easier.  In the pictures below you will see different fabrics for different bags, but, in general, I used the same procedure for the remaining 11 bags.

Marking the fabric to be cut
1.  First, I used a yardstick and a sharpie to mark the fabric.  For the width of the bag, I used the width of the book plus 3 inches.  If the book was really thin, I sometimes used just two inches; if thick, I added an inch.  I wanted plenty of room for the seam allowance and ease in taking the book in and out of the bag.  For the length of the fabric to be used for the bag, I used the width of the book plus the length of the book plus 20 inches.  Sometimes in my haste or distraction, I added wrongly in my head and only added 10 inches.  It came out a little short on top, but not too bad.  I think that the 20 inches is actually a bit too much, so 15 would probably be better.  Alongside the length of the fabric for the bag, I marked out a rectangle that was two inches wide and the same length as the fabric for the bag.  This was for the tie.  I then used pinking shears to cut out the two pieces:  one large piece to be used for the bag and one smaller piece to be used for the tie.

Ironing the top edges of the bag
Making the tie -- Fold in half lengthwise and iron down.
Making the tie -- Fold the edges inward and iron down.
Making the tie -- Open the tie back up and make an "airplane fold" on each end.
Making the tie -- Fold the tie again and iron down the pointy ends.
 2.  After cutting, I took the pieces to the ironing board. I folded down the top and bottom parts of the fabric for the bag so that the opening of the bag would have a finished edge.  Secondly, I took the smaller piece for the tie and folded it in half lengthwise wrong sides together (right sides showing).  I then opened it up and folded the raw edges towards the middle and ironed them down.  I actually did that in two steps, folding in one side and ironing it and then folding the other side in and ironing it.  Then, I opened up the tie and did an "airplane fold" on the edges, folded it back together and ironed it.  This made a point on each end of the tie.

Sew the edges of the fabric bag
With right sides together, sew down the sides of the bag. Then turn inside-out.
Sew down the long side of the tie, then sew the pointy edges.
Insert the book and pinch the fabric together to figure out where the tie should go.
Pin the tie to the bag and sew across.

 3.  Now the sewing begins!  First, sew the edges of the bag fabric to make a finished edge for the bag opening.  Then fold the bag with right sides together (wrong sides showing) width-wise.  Sew each side together, and turn the bag inside-out.  Then, take the tie, and sew down the long edge.  Then, sew each end where the point is.

4.  Insert the book into the bag and pinch the fabric together above the book to determine where the tie should go.  Pin the tie to the bag.  I didn't sew straight across the back.  Instead, I left about 1-1/2" of space on either side unsewn so that it would tie better.  (I almost would like to try using elastic.  Maybe in the future when we get more Christmas books.)

These small graphics were printed onto cardstock and cut out.

I sewed the tag to the inside of the bag below the tie.
 5.  Since all of the books are of different sizes, I wanted a way to be able to quickly determine which book goes in which bag.  I went to Amazon.com and found graphics of each book cover and saved them onto my computer.  I then used a word processing program (Pages for Mac) to insert the graphics into a document and sized each graphic to be about 2 inches square.  I printed it out on cardstock and cut out.  My original plan was to have these little tags laminated, but I wanted to get it done NOW and figured it would be mostly unlikely that the tags would get wet (ripped, maybe, but not wet).

Here are all of the bags that I made.

This is the first one I made with my final design.

Another one of my final design.

These are my original design with the ropes.

Even though I don't think these are as pretty as the ones in the Pinterest pin (see below), I am happy with the way that they turned out.  I'm looking forward to doing this with Gracie this year.  I think she will have a lot of fun with it.  The hard part will keeping her out of the remaining bags!

Original Source:
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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Blog Post Roundup 2/25/12 and Book Review

Here are this week's reading recommendations.

How Do You Measure Up? @ Kristy...

A Brief Perspective on Personal Ministry @ Encouraging Words

Seven Things You Should be Doing as You're Reading to Your Child @ I Can Teach My Child

Don't Use the "Shy" Word @ The Idea Room

Seven Things that God Hates, and We Should, Too @ Doorposts of Your House

Book Review

Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin

This was a great book!  The main character Caroline is a young lady from Virginia whose family owns slaves.  Through different events that occur, she becomes anti-slavery and supports the Union in the Civil War.  She even has the opportunity to spy for the Union even though her fiance Charles is a Rebel soldier.  In the story, she doubts what good is she is doing by spying because the war lasts so long.  All she wanted to do was end the war so that her slaves (whom she loves like family) could go free and so that she and Charles could be married.  One of her daddy's slaves, Eli, is a very wise man who helps her see God's point of view.

I absolutely did not want to stop reading this book.  I stayed up until about 2:30 reading it and only went to bed because I needed the sleep!  I did not necessarily learn anything new about the Civil War (except maybe for certain military details), but I really enjoyed the story.  I want to finish the series, even though I don't think Caroline will play an important role in either of the later books.  I would love to see some sort of sequel featuring Caroline and Charles.
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Paper Dolls

When I saw this idea on Toddler Approved, I knew I wanted to do this for my daughter.  I love American Girl dolls, and I love the idea of playing with paper dolls.  I can see where, over time, this can be a great basis for encouraging storytelling, pretend play, talking about what we see, etc.

I had fun making them.  I went through my American Girl catalogs (two of them) as well as my Vision Forum catalog and a Timberdoodle catalog.  I cut out the images I wanted to use.  I did a rough cut fairly close around each one.  This step took the longest.  Then I used repositional mounting spray to glue them to cardstock that I already have.  I let them dry overnight (which they never did really completely dry), and then cut around the images again.  I took them to a local teacher store (The Knowledge Tree) and had them laminated, and then cut them out for the last time.

I set them out to dry in our hallway.
I wound up with about 63 paper dolls (22 sheets of cardstock).  I know, that's a lot, but there were so many that I liked and that I thought Gracie would like.  I bought a photo storage box from Hobby Lobby which turned out to be on sale!  I wanted to get a cute one with pretty designs on it, but I didn't like any that I saw, so I got a plain white one.  I figure one day in the future, we can decorate it ourselves, or I may use a future American Girl catalog to decorate the box, cutting out images and gluing them with Modge Podge.

I gave the paper dolls to Gracie for Valentine's Day along with a cute heart sweater and I also set out a cute Valentine bucket that she got last year.  No, she didn't get any candy.  She's too little to know the difference, and she eats too much junk, anyway.  At first, she showed absolutely no interest in these paper dolls at all.  I was mildly disappointed but not really surprised.  I waited a couple of days before dumping them out on the floor (which is a good attention-getter for toddlers!).  Since then, she has shown a little bit more interest in them.

I'm glad I laminated them because they should last several years.  This project cost just over $8 for laminating and the white box.

Original Source:

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 4 of Potty Training

Tuesday was a GREAT day....until nap time. Gracie stayed dry the whole morning! I was so impressed! I put a pullup on her (I do not like the plastic covered panties.). Unfortunately, she took it off and wet the bed. I was not happy. When I hear "poopoo" over the monitor, I know I better check up on her.

Wednesday, we had an appointment and made a run to Walmart, so I put her in a pullup. I had nursery Wednesday night at church. I used a pullup then, too. She announced "pah-ee" but she had already gone. I really need to get her to announce BEFORE she goes.

Last night, after sleeping about 11 hours and being woke up, she was dry! I was so surprised and pleased. She did not want to go potty; in fact she kinda acted like she was trying to hold it in. I don't understand that. She did go, though! We had a pretty full day: doctor's appointment, ladies prayer group, and lunch with the ladies. We went to Steak 'n Shake and I had a Chipotle Burger which was SOOOO good!!

Overall, I can see where she is making progress. I'm not being too militant about the training. It's unrealistic to stay home ALL the time. I don't think it will take her much longer to be fully trained for daytime. We will probably put her in a toddler bed this summer (her bed will convert), and that should help with nighttime training.

I found the following idea for converting the Gerber training pants by adding flannel to the inside and PUL (laminate material) to the outside.  I hope I can do this, then I can not buy any more Pullups.

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Cheesy Chili Hashbrown Bake

I got this recipe from Southern Living magazine.  I think I must have torn it out of my mom's magazine, because I do not subscribe to it.


1-1/2 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
1 (15.5 oz.) can original sloppy joe sauce
1 (15-oz.) can chili with beans (I use Hormel's.)
~4 cups from a 30-ounce package of frozen country-style shredded hashbrowns
(I used potatoes O'Brien which have onions and peppers added.)
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, 7 to 10 minutes, or until meat crumbles and is no longer pink.

In the meantime, lightly grease your baking dish(es).  They recommended using 8 10-ounce ramekins, but said that you can use a 9 x 13" baking dish.  I used the 9 x 13" dish.

They did not say to drain the ground beef, but I did.  Add sloppy joe sauce and the chili to the ground beef, and heat through.

Spoon chili mixture into your baking dish(es).  Top with frozen hashbrowns.  (I only covered half with hashbrowns since my husband is currently doing Atkins.)  Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake covered at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake 10 more minutes or until browned and crisp.  Sprinkle with cheese (I used only about half of the amount they said to use.), and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

We loved this recipe!  Robert gave it a two thumbs up even with his portion not having any hashbrowns.  Gracie tried it -- but only because her daddy bribed her with "doe-noe" (soda).

I can't think of anything I would change about it (I definitely like using the potatoes O'Brien.).  This is such a simple dish that it would be easy to keep the makings on hand.

I meant to take a picture of the dish, but I forgot.  It's not so pretty now!
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sharing Valentines

My daughter and I visited the schoolchildren at our church's Christian school this past Thursday and gave them some Valentine treats.

 I found the idea for this on Pinterest (of course).  They are super easy to make.  Just combine red velvet cake mix, 2 eggs, and 1/2 cup of softened butter.  Roll into balls (messy!), and put on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.  Spread cream cheese frosting in the middle of two cookies and roll in sprinkles.  The original recipe did not say to grease the baking sheet, so I didn't.  However, I do think it would be better to since the cookies stuck and left part of the middle on the sheet.

These cookies are really good!  My husband liked it, my daughter liked it, and I liked it.  I haven't heard from the schoolchildren, but I'm sure they liked them as well.

I also made butterfly Valentines for them (see the Pinterest picture below).  Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of them.  I wanted to get a picture of Gracie handing them out, but I couldn't get a good angle on her and she was being somewhat uncooperative having one of her rare shy moments.  The original pin calls for suckers and googly eyes.  I went to Walmart the day after Valentine's Day and couldn't find ANY suckers in the Valentine area.  I was too lazy to go over to the candy aisle in the grocery department.  However, I did see some cute pencils and decided to use them instead.  I printed off 11 sheets for 22 butterflies and thought that I would get them cut out in about 20 minutes.  Boy, was I wrong!  It took about 45 minutes to cut those things out!  Granted some of that (about 5 minutes) was spent in getting Gracie up and settling her with some milk.  She wanted me to sit with her, so I took my cutting over to where she was and she climbed over me part of the time, but still, I was surprised it took so long!  I tried cutting the slits to push the pencil through, but decided to simply tape the butterfly to each pencil instead.  It was much quicker.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Crunchy Chicken Tenders

Every once in a while, I'll get a set of recipe cards in the mail from a company that wants you to join their recipe card club.  I usually pull out the sample cards of recipes that sound good and throw the rest away.  I'm not sure what company this comes from, but in teeny tiny writing it says "c. International Masters Publishers AB. Customer Service 877-627-2853  mygreatrecipes.com"  (I don't know a thing about that company; I haven't even visited that website.)


2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. onion flakes
2 tsp. dry mustard  (I forgot that I had thrown out my expired container, so I squirted prepared mustard into the mixture.)
1 cup butter cracker crumbs (about 23 round crackers)
2 Tbs. sesame seeds
14 oz. chicken tenders, patted dry (The only package I could get was 18 oz., so I increased the amounts of these ingredients by approximately 25%.)

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley  (I used dried parsley.)
3/4 tsp. seasoned salt  (I didn't have any, so I used either a cajun blend or chipotle blend, can't remember which.)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Grease a baking sheet. (I sprayed Pam.)

Combine 2/3 cup mayonnaise, the onion flakes, and dry mustard (or in my case, prepared mustard) in a shallow bowl and mix well.

Combine the cracker crumbs and sesame seeds in another shallow bowl and mix well.

Dip the chicken tenders in the mayonnaise mixture, then coat with the cracker crumb mixture.

Arrange the chicken tenders on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake, turning once halfway through baking, until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear when pierced with a knife, 12-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the dip ingredients in a small bowl.  Mix well.  Serve with the chicken tenders.

This was good.  Robert gave it two thumbs up.  Gracie would not try it.  She's soooo picky!  The only thing I didn't like about it is that it wasn't really that crunchy.  I think there may be some sort of technique error that I don't know about.  Also, the dip (for me) was too much dip.  I would cut it by at least a third.  I also would probably use onion powder instead of chopped onion because when I dipped my chicken, I never did pick up any real onion.
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Monday, February 20, 2012

Day 1 of Potty Training

Gracie's Potty Chart, Beginning of Day 1
Wow, what a day!  I stayed up late last night reading (book review will be on this Saturday's Blog Post Roundup) and did NOT want to get up this morning.  Gracie waited until about 8 AM before waking up.  I knew I had to get up so that we could get this potty thing going.

I took her to the potty first thing.  She didn't do anything but that was ok; it was more to establish a habit.  I put her in her new panties (Gerber training pants) which I think she was somewhat excited about.  We put her diaper in the diaper trash and took the whole trashbag out to the big trashcan outside and said, "Bye-Bye Diapers!"  Well, I did.  She got distracted by the neighborhood cat that was in our yard.

Not long after, she came to where I was in the kitchen, and said, "Poo-poo!" and started crying.  Sure enough, she was peeing on the floor (fortunately, we have ceramic tile).  I got her cleaned up and into new panties.  I didn't expect a "failure" so soon in the day.  Then, not even 10 minutes later, I heard another scream and cry: she had wet her panties again.  To my great surprise, she wore all nine panties throughout the course of the day, plus her "night-night panties" (Gerber training pants with plastic cover) during her nap.  I think a lot of it was my fault.  I just couldn't get the timing right on when to take her to the potty.  Most of the time she went before I was going to take her; other times, she went right after I took her.  Throughout the day, I would make a big deal of asking her, "Are your panties dry? They ARE dry!  YAY!  Your panties are dry!  You get a sticker because you kept your panties dry!"  I let her peel off a sticker and stick it on the potty chart.

I even got two of her baby dolls involved.  We put "baby" on the toy potty and she enjoyed doing that.  A couple of times (maybe three), when she wasn't paying any attention, I put water in the toy potty for her to find the next time she went potty.  I think she was rather shocked.  I made over big on the baby and got Gracie to hug and kiss her, too.  She kept checking the toy potty to see if she had gone again.  It was pretty funny.

I was trying to stay optimistic, but was a ***little*** bit discouraged at the seemingly lack of progress, not to mention going through all those panties.  I washed the first couple of wet ones in my first load of the day and about five more in the second load (I make it a point to do only one or two loads a day.  Three is unusual and only if necessary.).  I'm all set for tomorrow morning, at least.  Robert came home when it was time to take her potty again.  I let them greet each other and had Gracie show Daddy her stickers, and then I took her to go potty, and she finally went!  I shouted and cheered!  I was genuinely thrilled that she finally went.  She looked so surprised, like, "What just happened?"  About an hour and a half later, she went again.  I think she had two accidents after that.  Then in the evening when we were all sitting on the couch, she said something about going poo-poo, and then I felt it.  She had already gone and it got on my skirt (yay, more laundry).  I took her to the potty and let her have my phone to play with while we waited.  She wound up calling my mom!  While I was talking to my mom, Gracie went poo-poo in the potty!  She still acts scared when she goes, and she cries.

I gave her a bath tonight and let her play for a good long while.  Then we went to the potty again before dressing her in her nightgown.  She didn't go, but she MAY have gone in the tub.

I guess, all in all, it could've been a worse experience.  I'm encouraged that she had three successful potty events.  I hope to have more tomorrow.  I also hope to do better about taking her at the right time.

Gracie's Potty Chart, End of Day 1, 14 stickers for keeping dry!
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Let the Potty Training Begin!

Several weeks ago, I decided that Gracie and I are now ready for the next milestone:  potty training!  I wanted to use up my supply of diapers (I hate to waste good money!) and also be able to clear my schedule as much as possible so that I can be home all day long during the training time.

I will be beginning Potty Training on Monday, February 20th.  My schedule is totally free on Monday and Tuesday.  I have an early appointment on Wednesday, Wednesday night is church (I am scheduled for nursery duty -- that is a happy coincidence.), Thursday is ladies prayer group, and I have another appointment that day as well.

I already have a potty chair (see above link) that I bought last summer.  She has used it several times in the last few months.  In the last few weeks, she has said, "I wan' pa-ee" ("I want to potty."), and I've taken her to the potty.  I think she likes the novelty of sitting there and reading books more than anything because she hasn't actually gone potty.  In the last couple of weeks, when I've caught her going poop in her diaper, I've asked her, "Do you want to go poop on the potty?" and she indicated some interest.  So far, she has pooped in the potty four times!  She has also pooped in her diaper a few times, but I'm happy with the progress.  My favorite tip is to use coffee filters in the potty chair to catch the poop.  Best tip ever!  Dump the poop in the adult toilet, dispose of the coffee filter, and wipe the potty chair with a cleaning wipe.  Done.

Also several months ago, I found a toy potty chair for dolls at Target.  She enjoyed playing with it for a while.  It's been out-of-sight for a couple of months (not intentional at first).  I'm saving it for next week, so we can do some pretend with her babies.

In preparation, I also bought a potty ring to put on our big toilets.  Even though the potty chair comes with a removable ring that can be used on adult toilets, it doesn't fit our elongated toilets.  I let Gracie choose which one she wanted, and she chose Pooh Bear.  I'm glad I have it because I can take it with me if I'm going to be out and about for long periods of time (plus it'll be more sanitary for her. Public toilets are so gross!).  I keep this potty ring in the small hall bathroom.  The potty chair is in the master bathroom which has more room.

I asked for potty training tips on Facebook and got a lot of great ideas.  I was unsure as to whether or not I should use pullups at all.  I had already bought a box (that also came with a pretty much useless potty training DVD and a potty reminder watch which I don't even know where it is at the moment) several months ago.  (I'm a planner and I like to be prepared!)  Based on the great Mama tips, I decided to get the Gerber Training Pants (plain white) for daytime use and the Gerber Training Pants with waterproof cover (for girls) for nighttime and out-of-the-house use.

Once she is sufficiently trained, I will give her big girl panties (which I already have and she has already seen) for a big reward.

I also plan on using a chart and stickers for rewards for staying dry and making it to the potty.

I've read several books and articles on potty training, and the one listed below (Potty Training in Three Days by Lois Kleint) is the main method I'm using

I'm somewhat nervous about this new stage of her life, but I'm excited, too.  I do think she is ready; I just hope we can both have a successful time of it.

If I remember and have time, I will give updates on our progress.
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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Blog Post Roundup 2/18/11 and a Book Review

Here are some articles I thought y'all might like to read.  I post these just about every Saturday.

Dear Pinterest and How to Link to the Original Source @ A Simply Klassic Home (If you blog, read this.  It shows how you can easily link to the original source of a pin in your blog posts.)

How to Lure the Animals at the Zoo to Come to You @ Over the Big Moon (using iPhone 4/4S)

It's Not Too Late @ Everyday Grace

You SHALL Go to Them! @ Hidden Treasures (Comfort for those who go through miscarriage)

20 Reasons to Avoid Premarital Sex @ Encouraging Words (Your teenager needs to read this!)

It's a Suitcase Thing @ The Better Mom (great parenting tip - one I've been planning for years to use)

Book Review

Somewhere to Belong is about two late-nineteenth century girls whose lives become entwined when the younger girl Bertha moves to the Amana colony with her parents.  Johanna has lived in Amana her whole life and is a model example of such a young lady citizen living there.  Bertha, on the other hand, has more of a selfish streak and a rebellious attitude, and generally wreaks havoc where-ever she goes.  The two gradually become friends and each learns to find the place that God has for them.

This was a good book (not a great book, but very good).  Unfortunately, it did not have a clear presentation of the Gospel (I think all Christian novels should have a clear presentation of the Gospel weaved into the story somewhere or, at the very least, added in an appendix.)  I would've liked to have read more about the history of the Amana colony and more about their beliefs.  I'm not familiar with them at all.  This book does give an overall positive view of the Amana people.

I enjoyed seeing Bertha's thinking changed in the story.  I do not think that her story is over.  I halfway expected to see the next book in this series feature her again, but from reading the summary, it's about another Amana girl (who was never mentioned in this book).

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Update on Dog Owners Beware

Allie, May 2009
The office manager at our Vet called tonight to tell us that TriHeart would be partially reimbursing us for the heart worm treatment! It would be more accurate to say that the reimbursement is for the treatment but not the antibiotics or steroid meds we have been giving her, about 70% of the total bill. It will take 8-12 weeks for the vet to get their check at which time they will reimburse us.

What a blessing! God is so good!

Allie has been doing well despite being cooped up in the garage. I accidentally opened the garage door out of habit when coming home from errands. Allie willingly went back in the first two times. However the third time, Dolly (who has taught Allie how to get out and roam) was with her the third time and they immediately took off to parts unknown. Robert had to find them. Fortunately this was when he was home.
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Product Review: White Balance Lens Cap

I started this post last October intending on saving it as a draft, but instead published an incomplete post. Sorry about that!

One of the challenges of learning photography is being able to correct White Balance. For those of you that don't know anything about it, this is being able to have the colors appear "true" and not distorted by different wavelengths of light. Objects will appear to be different colors in different types of light (fluorescent, incandescent, sunshine, etc.). When the White Balance is off, you can get some crazy color casts in your photos which can be a major pain challenge to try to correct.

I did a search and found the following link which was a big help in deciding whether or not I should get a White Balance Lens Cap.

How Photojojo's White Balance Lens Cap is Saving Both My Sanity and Editing Time

Here are the links to the White Balance Lens Caps that I bought (one for each lens that I own):

58 mm

67 mm

Unfortunately, I lost the smaller White Balance Lens Cap when we went to Florida. However, I can still use the larger one over the smaller lens. One day, when I get around to it, I'll buy another one of the smaller White Balance Lens Caps.

I don't have any pictures to show you at this time to show what a difference it makes (go to the first link to view her photos), but I'm very happy with the results. It is VERY easy to set the White Balance using the caps.
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Crockpot Stew

I got this recipe from Taste of Home.  I used to have a subscription several years ago (twice at two different times).  I saved most of my magazines and have been slowly going through ripping out the ones I want to try.  Piece of advice:  If you are teaching your young child not to rip up paper, do not rip out recipes or other articles in her presence.  Gracie tells me "No no no no no!"


1 lb. beef stew meat
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) beef broth
1 can (11-1/2 oz.) V-8 juice (I used the 5.5 oz. cans of V-8.  Never noticed there was a size specification until after I made the stew.)
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium sweet onion, chopped
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. pepper

2 Tbs. cornstarch
1 Tbs. cold water
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen peas


In a 3-quart slow cooker, combine the first 12 ingredients (from beef stew meat down to pepper).  Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until meat is tender.  Discard bay leaves.

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into stew.  Add corn and peas.  Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes or until thickened.

This is really good stew.  I love anything that can just be thrown together in a crockpot.  I'm not a fan of peas (English peas), but I will eat them in soups and stews like this.
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Product Review: Kindle Fire Cover

My brothers and I got my mom a Kindle Fire for Christmas.  She has been reading on it every day and loves it!  (I'm so glad!)  She doesn't yet use it to its full potential since she doesn't have internet, but once she comes to visit, I'll be able to show her how to use the internet stuff.

My friend Lori who blogs at Frog's Lilypad made a cover for her Kindle Fire recently.  I was so impressed with it and immediately decided that my mom needed one, too!  My mom's favorite color is purple, so I picked out a fabric that I thought she would like.

Here is the final product:

Click on the photo to go to A Pocketful O' Posies Etsy Shop
I think it turned out great!  Lori put in a card saying something like, "Dear Grandma, I hope you enjoy your new Kindle cover.  Love, Gracie."

I love surprises (getting and giving), so I didn't say anything to my mom about getting a package in the mail.  I didn't have to wonder when she got it, because she called this afternoon.  "I need to speak to Gracie!"  (That's the quickest hand-off I've ever gotten!  LOL!)  She thanked Gracie profusely over the phone (I had it on speakerphone), and Gracie stared at the phone like she'd lost her mind.  She was somewhat clueless about it all.

Lori is planning on selling more Kindle covers in her Etsy Shop.  This would make a great gift for someone you love, too!
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Gracie helped me make a Valentine for her daddy.  She did a great job (for a two-year-old) holding her hand still while I traced it with a pencil.  Daddy LOVED this Valentine and said he was going to put it in his special memories cabinet.

I got the idea from this project from Pinterest (see Source Link and photo at the bottom of this post).

The colors are kinda wonky in these pictures, I guess from the not-great lighting and shadows (taken with my phone).  I used a light pink cardstock and outlined with a red Sharpie.  I used white cardstock for the accordion strip in the middle.

Original Source:
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Monday, February 13, 2012

Dog Owners Beware!

Allie - taken May 2009
Last week, I took our White German Shepherd, Allie, to the vet for her annual checkup.  I had to get her there early because I was leaving her there for the day so that she could have her checkup and get a good grooming when they could fit her in.  I like doing it that way because then I don't have to wait around with a rambunctious dog and potentially cranky toddler.  I had to get the cranky toddler up early, but she perked up when she discovered that Allie would be riding with her in the car.  She had a mini-meltdown when we had to leave her at the vet's.  "Puppy!!!"

Later that afternoon, one of the girls called from the vet's office to tell me that Allie tested positive for Heartworm.  I couldn't believe it!  She gave a brief description of heartworms.  She said that in looking at our records, they see a several month gap where it appears to them that we did not give her any heartworm preventative medications.  This is SO not true!  We have faitfully, without fail, given both of our dogs their meds every month.  Not always on the first of the month, but within a few days.  My husband administers the meds and writes on the calendar (most of the time) when he gave the medicine.  I put the heart stickers on the calendar to remind us.  In fact, that's one of the things I do when I get a brand-new calendar each year and put down all the recurring birthdays, etc.  Another thing I do is on the back of the blister packs of medicines, I write the dog's name and the month in which she should take that pill.  Dolly is a smaller dog and takes a different dosage, so it makes it easier to figure out which pill is for which dog.

In the course of our conversation, I remembered that a couple of years ago (when I was pregnant with Gracie), we bought some heartworm meds from Costco because they were cheaper.  I told the girl this.  The reason she was majoring on the gap is not so that she could lecture us, but because TriHeart will reimburse for the (very expensive) treatment if there is documentation that the client used their meds.  Heartworms can take up to six months to develop.  She tested negative for them last year.  She hasn't had any symptoms, so we think it's been very recent that she contracted them.  And because we do give her her meds every month, she probably has a very light case.

There are a couple of treatments available (maybe more, I don't know).  One, which is less expensive, involves treatments spread out over time and requires that the dog be "kept quiet" (cooped up so that she can not run or get excited) for 6 months.  That is just not feasible at all.  For one thing, we're not keeping her in the house 24/7 for six months.  My daughter would love it, but that would be added stress on us.  The second treatment, which is VERY expensive, involves two shots taken over two days while staying at the vet's and being cooper up for about a month.  Robert decided to do that one.  We have her in the garage, and our car is, once again, out on the driveway.  The first couple of weeks are the most critical; therefore, my husband may let her back into the backyard before the month is over.

Positive parts to this story:  I had Dolly tested, and she tested negative for heartworms.  The office manager at the Vet's said that there is a small chance we may still be reimbursed for the treatment.  Even a partial reimbursement would be a blessing.

In closing, my advice to you fellow dog owners:

1.  Give your dogs their heartworm preventative medicines faithfully.  Do what you have to do to remember to do this.

2.  Acquire and keep documentation of the brand of meds you buy.  That way, if your dog gets heartworms, you can hopefully get reimbursed for the treatment.
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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Blog Post Roundup 2/11/12

Here are some good posts I found to share with you.

Disney Puts Homeschooling in a Positive Light @ Valerie Write Now

Surviving Your Child's Teen Years @ Encouraging Words

....If You Faint Not @ A Home Away From Home

An open letter to first-time mamas of newborns @ Simple Mom

Sledding Hill Memories -- a Guest Post @ A Simply Klassic Home
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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Oven-Fried Fish Nuggets

I got this recipe from Taste of Home magazine.


1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/3 cup crushed cornflakes
3 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1-1/2 lbs. cod fillets, cut into 1-inch cubes (I used Tilapia since I couldn't find cod at Walmart.)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cornflakes, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.

Coat fish with butter-flavored spray, then roll in crumb mixture.

Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

This was quite good.  Both Robert and I liked it.  I don't remember if Gracie tried it, but it's something I know she would like if she would try it.
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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fun with Pipe Cleaners

Don't you just love Pinterest?  I found this toddler activity on two different pins (see Original Sources at the bottom of this post).

Gracie really enjoys playing with them.  I keep the pipecleaners in a rather large plastic bin much like in the picture of the second pin.  I also keep my collapsible colander nearby as well.  I don't use it very often, so I don't mind washing it the next time I need to use it.  Tonight was the first time she put both ends of one pipecleaner in the holes (she was copying me).

And speaking of copying.......we went to Storytime today at the Booksellers bookstore (formerly Davis-Kidd) and Mrs. Marjorie gave everyone a Valentine project in a red envelope.  Basically two foam stickers to stick on a rectangular piece of foam.  Later, after Robert came home, I gave it to her again when she was sitting at the table.  She took the envelope, licked it, and closed it.  Now, I know you're thinking "so what?" but I don't really remember licking any envelopes in front of her and certainly not recently.  It's just amazing to me what and how much kids soak up!

Original Sources:

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Blog Post Roundup 2/4/12

Homeschool Reinforcements, Rewards, and Incentives @ The Happy Housewife

Your Schedule is Also Your Example @ Encouraging Words by Cary Schmidt

The "Evil Eye"?? @ Hidden Treasures

Don't Let Comparison Steal Your Contentment @ The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking

A Fresh Start @ Like a Bubbling Brook

Blue Collar @ Smockity Frocks

Lunch? Today? @ Paul Chappell

Good News! @ Doorposts of Your House (object lesson for children)

How Do I Make My Children Get Along? @ Raising Arrows
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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge

Anybody that knows anything about me knows that I LOVE Laura Ingalls Wilder!  She is my favorite children's author and probably the number one historical figure I would want to meet.

I remember the first time I came across her book Little House on the Prairie.  At the age of seven, I was already a devoted fan of the Little House on the Prairie TV show.  My school was having a book fair in the library.  That's when a company would come and sell books and trinkets.  I remember looking around at the books with my friend Stacy Cameron.  I found a little book about a dog.  Then, when I went to go pay for my book, I saw a yellow paperback book that had a drawing of a covered wagon with two little girls peeking out the back.  My jaw nearly dropped in surprise.  I couldn't believe that there was a book about my favorite TV show!  The dog book was set aside and I bought Little House on the Prairie.  So began a lifelong love of all things Laura which spilled over into a love of pioneer life and the 1800's.  I have been to all of the midwest Laura sites and have many of the books written by and about her.  I'm looking forward to when I read the books to my daughter and take her to see some of the Laura sites as well.  Oh, and I'm still a fan of the show as well.

Barbara H. who writes for the blog Stray Thoughts is hosting this Reading Challenge for the month of February.  Laura's birthday is February 7th which makes it an appropriate time.

For this challenge, I will be reading Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, and Farmer Boy.  If time and opportunity allows, I will read more of the series.  Unfortunately, because all of my Laura stuff is packed away right now, I have to get the books from the library.  I also want to see if I can find any Little House picture books to read with my daughter (my own Baby Grace).  If I can find a copy of the cookbook, I may attempt a recipe or two. (Don't hold your breath.)

If you'd like to join in on the challenge, click the picture above and read all about it.
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