Monday, 31 December 2012

One Thing Leads To Another

Merry Christmas to me!

My new dining room hutch arrived two days before Christmas.  I finally have enough room to store my dishes.  My hubby says I have too many different sets of dishes.  I tried to explain that you can never have too many dishes, but he doesn't seem to agree.  Regardless of his opinion on my dishes, he agreed that a place to store them was good idea!

The wood tone is very similar to my Costco table and chairs that I got a few years ago.  The hutch came from a discount furniture store in Snohomish.  Hey, discount furniture stores are a step up from my normal Craigslist furniture finds!  

Once the big hutch was in place, I had to find a home from the old cabinet that used to be in our dining room.  I love this little cabinet from my hubby's side of the family.  I have grand plans to restore it, but haven't gotten around to that yet.  After taking the tree out of the living room, we started rearranging furniture and found a perfect spot for the cabinet. 

The ottoman is now the coffee table, since this room isn't a "formal" living room anymore.  The boys like to pull up a seat and play some games, eat popcorn, and drink sugary soda. The ottoman encourages play, and a place to kick your feet up.  I'm kind of liking this new arrangement.

The old coffee table is now in the family room, which is a whole other story. (Pictures to come later.)

The cabinet in the living room is the perfect place to store my fancy silver.  (Ok, I really don't have any fancy silver, but it sure looks pretty in the cabinet!)  I love going to Goodwill and finding silver platters and bowls.  You can usually find them for about $1-$3.  I buy them whenever I find them.  They are the perfect things to keep on hand for taking food to parties.  They look very pretty and they are cheaper than plastic platters from the party store.  

(Wow, when will I learn that I need to use a tripod if I don't want blurry pictures?)

The top of the cabinet is now home to my pottery collection.  I LOVE this pottery from The Weedpatch, in Country Village.  My sister in law bought a piece for me for Christmas and apparently they are not going to carry it anymore.
 (insert frowny face here)

So, you can see that one thing leads to another in my house.  It all started with a new hutch in the dining room, and ended with three rooms being totally revamped.

Happy rearranging!
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Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Christmas Tree I Never Showed You

Better late than never! Right?

Two days before Christmas, I finally fixed the bottom third of the lights on the tree.  (Our Christmas break didn't officially start until Christmas Eve this year. I think I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.)   I'm one of those people who LOVES decorating for Christmas, but also can't wait to get the mess out of my house.  We enjoyed the decorated tree for a few days, but it was undecorated and in the front yard by December 26th.


Maybe next year I'll be able to enjoy it for a little longer.

Happy Undecorating!
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Saturday, 29 December 2012

A Few Favorite Teacher Gifts

I'd like to say that I took the time to have my kids make gifts for their teachers.  The reality is, that I barely got the gift cards stuffed into envelopes and delivered on the right day.  My students and their parents, on the other hand, made some pretty cute creations for their kindergarten teacher.

First up, the melted snowman ornament.  LOVE!

These little candies were delicious.  I wish I could show you what the peanut butter meteorites look like.  They didn't make it to the end of the school day.  They were very tasty.

One of my girls described how she made soap with her mom and sisters. I've never made soap before, but it sounds like fun.

How cute are these little elf shoes?  

In addition to these cute little creations, several parents went in together on a gift, and I also received many cards, treats, and gift cards to a few of my favorite stores. Oh, and my favorite gift of all was an email I received from our assistant superintendent.  She had been sent an email from one of my parents, who just wanted to share a few things about my teaching and our classroom.  I can't tell you how much it brightened my day teaching career! I have fabulous students and parents! I feel truly blessed.

Happy Holidays! 
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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Guys Only Cookie Exchange

I popped into the school library this morning, and this is what I saw.

The men in our building decided to have a guys-only cookie exchange.  They had to bring 5 dozen cookies.


They had to do all of the baking on their own.  

I love this idea!  I'm sad to say, I didn't get to try any of the mouthwatering goodies, but I'm trying to practice a little self control when it comes to sweet treats this season.  I was very impressed with the variety as well as the quality of their cookies.  I hope this is the first year of a great tradition for these guys!

By the way, our staff had another cookie exchange over the weekend and the girls were invited to that one too.  So, please don't worry that we were feeling left out!

Happy baking!

Monday, 17 December 2012

In The Words of Mr. Rogers

A friend at work shared this quote with the teachers in my building.  I'll be thinking about it as I greet 22 kindergarten students this morning.  I'll be praying for a day with fewer tears than I've had ever the past few days, and wishing for peace in the hearts of everyone who was touched by this tragedy.
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Sunday, 16 December 2012

May Your Eternal Light Shine Upon Us All

To say this has been a really hard weekend would be a huge understatement.  We lost a good friend this week, to a heart attack, and he leaves behind his wife and two young boys.  It hit our neighborhood especially hard.  You could almost feel an entire neighborhoods' sleeplessness. There is so much worry and sadness, concern and love. I worry for my friend and her two little boys. I wonder how a person gathers the strength to go on.  My heart absolutely breaks for them.

On Saturday, my friend Dawn buried her husband.  There is nothing I can do to make things better for her, nothing I can say to ease her pain.  I did the only thing I could, which is show my love through food and hugs.  A few friends and I played "caterer" and prepared a meal for for the family.  After a cold and snowy morning at the graveside service, we greeted them with hugs and we were able to warm the family a bit through the food we had prepared.   I can't tell you how much it meant to me, to be able to help out in this way, to serve them and provide some comfort in their time of need.

Sunday was the memorial service.  I cried as I listened to Dawn speak about her love for her husband, and thought about how she is so much stronger than I am.  The audience was filled with friends, family, and an  entire neighborhood who appreciates everything this family does for the community.  There were also many children there, to support the sons who were left behind. 

On top of the sorrow we were feeling, with the loss of our friend, came the unthinkable.

A friend posted this on Facebook, and as difficult as it was to read, I found myself smiling a bit for the first time all week, at the thought of these children happy once again.

  1. Twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
    when 20 beautiful children stormed through Heaven's gate.
    Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
    They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
    They were filled with
    such joy, they didn't know what to say.
    They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
    "Where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
    "This is heaven." declared a small boy. "We're spending Christmas at God's house."
    When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
    but Jesus, their Savior, the children gathered near.
    He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
    then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
    And in that moment was joy, that only Heaven can bring.
    Those children all flew into the arms of their King
    and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
    one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
    And as if He could read all the questions she had
    He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad."
    then He looked down on earth, the world far below.
    He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe.
    Then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
    "Let My power and presence re-enter this land!"
    "May this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
    "I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"
    Then He and the children stood up without a sound.
    "Come now my children, let me show you around."
    Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran,
    all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
    And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
    "In the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."
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Tuesday, 4 December 2012

How To Get Nice Even Layers in a Cake

I can't believe I forgot to tell you about my new favorite tool, when it comes to cake baking!  I received an email a few days ago, from a friend who wanted to know if the layers in my rainbow cake were cut or just baked as really thin layers.  Well, the answer to that is BOTH!

I baked six layers, in six separate cake pans, but I also used a fun tool.  The wire on the cutting tool is adjustable and it makes perfectly even layers.  For years, I've always used a knife and trimmed the cake layers, but this is a brilliant invention!  I'm sure I'm the last person on Earth who has discovered this, but I think it's pretty cool.  After the cake is cool, you just saw off the top of the cake layer.

I don't think the kids at the party could really appreciate the perfectly even layers, but I'm sure it made the cake taste better.

Happy baking!
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Monday, 3 December 2012

Christmas Tree Day, 2012

It's just like clockwork.  Every year, on the first weekend of December, we head out to find the perfect tree.  This year it started out with a full Christmas breakfast.  We had french toast, bacon, OJ, and cocoa, all served on our special Christmas dishes.

After about 20 minutes of examining every single tree on the farm, we settled on the perfect 9 footer.

We have two trees in our house.  The fake tree sits in the family room.  It has all of the kids' ornaments. Every year they get to buy a new ornament for the tree.  Years from now, when they are ready to move out of the house, we'll pack up the ornaments they've chosen year after year, and they'll have a beautiful tree of their own.

For now, it's the favorite tree in the house. Here's one tree (the fake one).  I'll have to show you the real tree, in the living room, tomorrow.  We ran out of lights and it's only half decorated. 

For now, here's a peak.

Happy decorating!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Hot Cocoa Station

My BFF, Laura at Finding Home, (I may just be stalking her) posted her hot chocolate station last week.  While we have a hot cocoa station set up in the kitchen, mine did not look as cute as Laura's.  So, I cutesy-fied it!

Hot chocolate, marshmallows, sprinkles, and candy canes make a perfect set up.  I didn't have a cute antique tray, like my BFF, but I did have a pretty silver platter that my Mother-In-Law gave me.  The Christmas tree mugs were from my Sister-In-Law.

I don't know about your family, but my kids make hot cocoa just about every day in the winter.  I think a pretty set up, rather than the the plastic containers that these items are sold in, is much more inviting and makes hot cocoa seem like a special tradition.  (Pssst.... the mugs only hold about 6 ounces, rather than the 12 ounce cups they normally use.  Don't tell the kids!)

Do you have a hot cocoa station in your kitchen?  Send me a picture.  I'd love to see it.

Happy cocoa making!
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Thursday, 29 November 2012

Spritz Cookie Recipe

Here they are...

the first Christmas cookies of the season at our house!

Recipe for Spritz Cookies

1 cup butter (room temperature)
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt

Mix butter and powdered sugar.  Add egg yolks and vanilla.  Mix in flour and salt.
Use a cookie press to shape cookie dough on a lined baking sheet. (I use a Silpat liner.)
Bake at 400 degrees for 6 minutes.
Frost with a powdered sugar and milk glaze.
Add sprinkles.
Let the Christmas baking begin!!!

Happy baking, Friends!
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Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Picasa Collages

I think I've mentioned a time or two ten, how much I love the Picasa collage feature.  I was browsing through my file and picked a few favorites to share with you.


I absolutely love taking pictures and the collages are just the icing on the cake for me.

Happy collage making!
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