Saturday, December 31, 2011

We Did It!

Read the whole Bible
in one year!
This was such a fun way to do it. 

We did it together.
This bible is arranged in chronological order
according to the timeline of events.
It really helped make things fall into place. 
When you read a story and then 3 books later read the same story
you don't have to wonder if they are the same or just very similar.
The stories will appear right next to each other. 
That was very handy in the Old Testament when
reading about all the kings and their exploits.
I am convinced that if you took all the repetition
out of the Bible, it would be about a third of the size.
But there are also some very strong warnings about 
messing with, as in adding or taking away from, 
the Bible so I'm cool with the repetition. 

Mike was way better at staying on top of the daily readings. 
I had a few weeks where I had to do 
multiple days in one day to get back on track.
And I'll be honest, some of the time I wondered what
the heck I was reading about so I would bust out my
student bible for some clarification.
That counts as extra credit, right?

It also made me realize that while reading the Bible is
a great accomplishment, 
studying it, 
being guided through it,
understanding it, 
are the best ways for me to 
live my life through it. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

The Snuggie.
Dirk gave this to Shanna in 2009.
Fast forward to 2011.
Turnabout is fair play.

Well played, Shanna.

A Collection

You never know when one will develop.

Even the dogs are no longer safe.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

When To De-Christmas?

I think New Years Day is 
pretty typical
but is the first day the rest of the world goes back to work too soon?
A friend on Facebook posed the question.

I decorate the day after Thanksgiving
and I have to tell you, 
while I love all my little *vignettes* 
when I make them,

by Christmas I am getting kind of tired of all the
stuff around. 
Between that and all the activity
I'm getting ready for a little more order in my life.

So, today is the first "work" day after Christmas
and I have consolidated my decorations to the
living and dining rooms. 
I have reclaimed my family room
and kitchen. 

Now to reclaim my diet!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Santa Hats

Or how to get from here
to here
These are so cute, 
but so inedible.

They are way too sweet but I mixed them in with
the Puppy Chow I made and they looked really cute. 
Unfortunately, I did not manage to get a picture of that.

Shanna sent me the link to this.
They have you mix them with a white 
chocolate covered concoction. 
Talk about *sweet*!

Here's what I can tell you about this little project:
Val had suggested you dip the bugles
in halves but top and bottom as opposed to side
and side. It made sense till I did it. 
When you dip from the bottom all the
coating pools at the bottom. 
The Swedish Pearl Sugar was a better size than the 
white "ball" sprinkles I  bought.
This is messy and requires the down time
for the candy melt to harden between steps.
But the ooohs and ahhhs 
made it worthwhile. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Greatest Gift Of All

Is Jesus Christ. 

That being said, 
here's number two.
I remember my mom being so excited to become a 
I didn't get it back then. 

And then after my kids were teenagers
I started *borrowing* friend's kids.
Then I understood. 
I have loved loving on my friends children. 

I thank
Anna, Rylan, Libby and Ava
for my grandmother training. 
My *rentals* as I have liked to call them.

I thank my girlfriends who have
shared their grandchildren and their
grand-parenting experiences with me. 

I have less than 9 months to take off the training 
wheels and jump into the 
Grandparent pool!

Now to choose a title. 
Diva and Mrs. Luehr have been rejected. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I've Been Busy!

I've been so busy this last week and 
most of the things that have kept me
busy are Christmas related and therefor
not Blog ready. 

But what I can tell you about is this:
I had the privilege of being asked to
put together a dessert table for a 
wonderful organization. 

Mooseheart grounds in Aurora. 
They are a home for young girls who find 
themselves pregnant and in need of housing and more. 
Check out their website. 
I was so impressed with what I saw. 
Each girl has her own room and access
to information, education and counseling. 
They have formed a bond with one another 
and a support network instead of the 
isolation they would likely experience in 
another setting, on their own. 

I had so much fun putting together
this table for an open house they were hosting for 
donors and friends. 
I was excited to create but now 
I think I'm a bit more excited to know more
about an amazing organization. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Baked Bean Casserole

I have no idea where or when this dish made it's
way into my family's lives. 
All I do know is that I was a child and it's still good. 

Oh, and as far as I can tell there is no
"official" recipe.
But here are the Cliff Notes for you.

Layer a can of baked beans,
(the kind with molasses are best)
a handful of brown sugar,
a layer of ground beef that has been browned with some 
onions and mixed with some tomato paste, 
and repeat. 
Top it off with slices of bacon
and throw it in the oven till it's
hot and the bacon is cooked. 

How much is a handful of brown sugar?
How much tomato paste?
Till it looks good.
How high should the oven be?
Isn't every thing at 350?

Hey, that's the best I can do for you, 
but hey, look at it this way, 
no pesky measuring devices to wash :o)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rolo Turtles

These babies are crazy good and
crazy easy. 

You just line a baking sheet with parchment paper, 
spread out mini pretzel twists, 
top each one with a Rolo candy
and pop in a 350 oven for 3-5 minutes. 
Just till the candy gets soft. 
Press a pecan on top as soon as you
take them out of the oven and 
Wa La!

I drizzled the dark chocolate over top. 

My own little addition. 

Feel free.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Salted Caramel Sauce

Or, Christmas Gift Idea #4
It' s #29 in the Food Network Magazine's 
insert this month.
I am taking these for a mass birthday party tonight
but they are really cute hostess gifts as well.
I have never made caramel before and my candy
making experience is limited at best, but nothing
ventured, nothing gained.

Here is what I can share:

Do not "simmer" the sugar water as the instructions 
would have you do. 
After 1/2 hour of simmering
 (not the 12 minutes the instructions suggest) 
 and the mixture not getting anywhere near a dark amber, 
I Googled more instructions. 
As best I can tell, you should allow the water to boil. 
I had to make a second batch and that one 
did turn dark amber in about 12 minutes. 

Ina would have you stir the sugar water, 
these instructions tell you to swirl it. 
For some reason, I think you are not supposed to 
stir sugar water when making candy, so I did not. 

The first batch I just poured in the cold cream which 
bubbled quite impressively and proceeded to form a 
big ol' ball of goo that I eventually
turned into a sauce.

With the second batch I warmed the cream a bit but
when I poured it in it went NUTZ!
Up and over the sides of the pan, 
all over my stove. 
Now, I don't know if that was a result of the warmed cream or 
of taking the sugar water all the way up to a boil.
A bit more research and I found Alton
suggests you let the sugar water cool a bit
before adding the cream. 
That sound like good advice. 

All that aside, it's really delicious sauce. 
My friend asked what you do with it. 
I suggested
over ice cream, 
over gingerbread cake,
or by the spoonful. 

You decide.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cookie Day 2011

It's funny how traditions are born all 
on their own.
Sometimes you don't even know 
it's happening till it's firmly established.
Cookie day did it. 
And what looks to be our mandatory picture.

Looks like this mandatory picture is creeping in.

Nice that he's changing up dogs each year. 
And that the dogs now have a matching hat.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Our Christmas Stockings

And my random thoughts about them.
There are three generations of stocking makers represented here.
Big made mine (the biggest, gotta love that!), Dirk's, 
Shanna's and Michael's.
I made Mike's 
(back in the 80s when he was big into cowboy boots)
and Shawn's.
Breese made Michelle's.

I know there are many styles of Christmas stockings out there.
They are all nice and have their good qualities.
But for our family, these are the only
true Christmas stockings.

I love that Big gave us this tradition. 
I love that Breese will carry it on. 
I wonder how many generations will.
And I love that for as many generations that do carry 
it on, that's how many generations will 
hear loving stories about my Big, 
the kid's Meme. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Aggie's 3-Bean Pumpkin Chili

That's Aggie of 
She helped me out with Michael and Michelle's wedding.
She's good people.
She also got me started blogging.

Last week she posted this
and it just struck a chord with me so I gave it a try.
It's terrific.
Here's my take on it:
I used black, northern and pinto beans,
I added a sweet potato, 
I used mushroom broth,
and fire roasted tomatoes.

It's really good and hearty. 
And pretty colorful besides. 
Thanks again, Aggie!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Art of You're Welcome

Once Shanna and I were at church and the pastor at the 
time thanked Shanna for something, I don't remember what
anymore. What I do remember was his response after Shanna
had replied "no problem" or "it's OK."
He took issue with the reply. 
He felt "you're welcome" was a better sentiment.
"No problem" or "it's OK" 
seems to diminish the kind gesture by his way of thinking. 
That stuck with me. 
I do prefer a "you're welcome."
It does sound more sincere. 
I try to say you're welcome. 
It does convey that I was pleased to do whatever
it is I am being thanked for. 

Funny how some things just stick with you. 
Like the time Val Langooth's mother
called me an instigator. 
Had to go home and look that one up. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Things That Make Me Smile

Well, really many things make me smile.
But these guys do it to me every time.
I love The Art Institute.
My sister gave me a membership a few years back
so I can now go whenever I want and spend as much or little
time as I choose.
I found the members lounge this trip. 
They have free coffee and hot chocolate.
But right down the hall is the cafe
and there you can buy:
(the wine, not Honey)
Yet another reason to love The AI.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Whatcha Gonna Do With Those?

Seasons 52 turned us on to the 
Mini Dessert concept.
So Gaye got 6 To Go and I wound up with these:
Then Steve and Nancy gave me these for my birthday:
They bought them at Pier One.
They are called mini cordials.

Can I just tell you, the possibilities are endless!
These were just what I had in the house.
Granola, instant vanilla pudding, blueberries, whip cream
and some toasted coconut on top.
Here's my take on a deconstructed eclair.
Graham cracker crumbs, vanilla pudding, chocolate ganache
and more graham cracker crumbs on top.
Mmmmm, crushed up Oreos, Oreo pudding,
whip cream and a mini Oreo on top.
And finally,
Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits.
These were for Thanksgiving.
I happened to find mini gingerbread men sprinkles
for on top.

These are so much fun and everybody really gets a kick
out of them.
The one tip I have so far is, if you put
crumbs at the bottom, don't pack them in.
It's a bit hard to get them to break up while you
are eating the parfait.

Oh, and if you have other ideas, please share!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Santa Tree

I have a few Father Christmas'.
I got this bright idea about 14 years ago.
(mom and Big)
I found my 
collection had grown beyond any flat display
area my house had. 
I needed a way to display all these
guys that I could collapse and 
store away.
What I came up with is what we now refer to as
The Santa Tree.
It's just two wooden shelf supports that I hinged at the top
and then ran four 1x12s through.
Over the years I have added the greenery and lights.

However, the best addition I ever made
was getting The Daughter Unit to decorate it!
I missed you this year, Shanna :o)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Kosher Turkeys

I have one or two things to say about this.
And these observations are in no particular order.

1- What's with that big ol' tear?
2-Kosher = no internal organs = no giblets = no giblet gravy.
3 - Lots of plucking
4 - Someone butchered the butchering. 
5 - They really didn't seem any better than the 
Hokas we've always had.
6 - They were WAY expensive!

They did provide us with one chuckle.
My mom bought them and dropped them off in my refrigerator.
She didn't really take a good look, but part of the wrapping was dark
green and it kind of looked like they were black. 
When I talked to her that evening she said, 
"did you know they would be black?"
I proceeded to have heart failure, ran to the fridge
and discovered what had misled her. 
From then on we named them 
Sammy Davis Jr. 1 and 2. 


Thursday, December 1, 2011

I'm So Proud

This is my family.
Shanna had the idea for the PJ's.
She even went out and bought them.
You might think a family photo in Christmas PJ's
is a cute, relatively harmless
thing to do. 

What this picture doesn't show is that we are in
the administrative building at 
Bulter University.
It was during the reception for their new president.
We had to change in a faculty break room.
There were MANY people milling about.
We took the first set of PJ pictures outdoors.
In the cold.
I had neglected to mention to Mike that 
there would even be PJ's involved.

I have many thoughts running through my mind
looking at this picture of familial bliss.
I'm just happy to be there.
Michelle is wondering if they are going to turn on her.
Michael has waited years for this opportunity.
Mike and Michael have 
frighteningly similar facial expressions.

I'm totally living in my PJ's 
Christmas Day.