Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Helpful Recipe Equivalents


Fruits & Veggies -
1 medium green pepper, tomato, apple, or onion = 1 c. diced
1 medium garlic clove = 1 tsp. minced
1 lb. tomatoes = 1 1/2 c. chopped
1 lb. cabbage = about 4 c. shredded
3 medium bananas = 1 c. mashed
3 oz. fresh mushrooms = 1 c. sliced
1 lb. head lettuce = 6 c. torn
9 green onions with tops = 1 c. sliced
2 large celery ribs or carrots = 1 c. sliced or diced
2 medium peaches = 1 c. sliced
1 qt. strawberries (1 lb.) = 4 c. sliced
1 medium lemon = 2-4 Tbs. juice, 1 tsp. grated peel
1 medium orange = 6-8 Tbs. juice, 2-3 Tbs. grated peel
1 Tbs. fresh herbs = 1 tsp. dried

Baking -
2 c. (4 sticks) margarine or butter = 1 lb.
1 packet of active dry yeast = 2 1/4 tsp.
1 large egg = 4 Tbs. or 1/4 c.
3 slices of bread = 1 c. crumbs
14 graham crackers = 1 c. crumbs
1 lb. flour = 3 1/2 c.
1/2 c. heavy cream = 1 c. whipped cream
4 c. powdered sugar = 1 lb.
2 c. granulated sugar = 1 lb.
2 1/4 c. packed brown sugar = 1 lb.

Carbs -
8 oz. uncooked spaghetti = 4 c. cooked
1 c. uncooked pasta = 2 2/3 c. cooked
1 c. uncooked rice = 3 c. cooked
28 saltine crackers = 1 c. crumbs

Protein -
1 lb. ground beef = 2 1/2 c. browned
8 sliced bacon = 1/2 c. crumbled
4 oz. cheese = 1 c. grated
1 lb. ham = 3 c. cubed
3-4 lb. whole chicken = 4 c. meat

Equivalent Measures:
1 Tbs. = 3 1/2 tsp = 1/2 oz.
4 Tbs. = 1/4 c.
1 c. = 1/2 pint = 8 oz.
4 c. = 1 quart
4 quarts = 1 gallon

(Now that my laptop is making regular appearances in the kitchen, I am retiring my list on the fridge. Gotta love technology!)

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Psalm 78


After the death of Joshua, the great leader of Israel, Judges 2:10 tells us, "And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that He had done for Israel." Joshua rallied the children of Israel around the words, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15), but it seems wealth and prosperity enabled them to quickly forget God and all He had done for them.

This Psalm tells the history of the children of Israel in such a wonderful way. The opening verses were what really grabbed my attention though.

Psalm 78
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
2 I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
3 things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.

5 He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
6 that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
7 so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
8 and that they should not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Let us teach our children daily and with diligence. Let us resolve TODAY that our wealth and prosperity will not allow our children to fall prey to the world. We will be faithful, we will be steadfast, we will love the Lord and His law. This kind of teaching is not the responsibility of the local church, it falls squarely on the shoulders of parents and God makes this very clear.

As we go into the new year and you are thinking about ways to improve yourself and your family, make sure daily family prayer, Bible reading, and study is a part of your resolution. Resolve that your children and grandchildren, "yet unborn", will know the Lord. "Tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done."

Does anything else in this world really matter? Does anything else have this kind of eternal consequence?

Lord, I pray that your name will ever be on my tongue. May I lift up Your name daily in praise and thanksgiving. Help me to teach my children with diligence. Help prepare their hearts to love You and to receive Your instruction. May we ever set our hope in You.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

"Because He Lives"

Sunday Hymn Post

God sent His son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal, and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives.
But greater still the calm assurance,
This child can face uncertain days because He lives.

And then one day I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain.
And then as death gives way to victory,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone!
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives!

By Bill & Gloria Gaither

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cooking, Cleaning, Crafting...

Sugar Cookies

If your life is anything like mine...

You are so busy that you really don't need to read about new recipes or cool crafts to try because you are beyond swamped with your present commitments.

To say that things are busy is an understatement.

But we're having fun cooking and crafting and cleaning around here and I hope you are too!

And I have many, many things to share starting in January.

May your days be merry and bright!

Blessings to you and your family,

PS - Did you notice the new recipe index right under the banner? It was getting to where I couldn't find my own recipes on the blog, so I had to do something about it. It's not complete yet, but I'm working on it!

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Preschool Kids and Scissors

This post is not going to show you how to make beautiful, fabulous snowflakes. If you have older kids and you want to make fancy snowflakes, check out the simple folding instructions to make 6 pointed snowflakes here. There are some cool templates here. Or you can get really fancy and make these incredible 3D snowflakes in this tutorial here.

This post is for the Littles. The tots that are just dying to try out scissors and make something along with the rest of the gang. The ones that are just learning how to hold scissors in the first place and still need to be reminded not to hold them upside down. Their snowflakes are pretty too... just in a different way.

On learning how to use scissors in general:
  • Kids can start to learn how to cut with scissors around ages 3 or 4... generally anyway. Fine motor skills vary.
  • Using scissors is a great way to determine if the child is right or left handed if you are not sure. Cutting with scissors require both strength and coordination and one hand is almost always stronger than the other.
  • Beginning cutters need constant supervision. I shouldn't need to explain this one too much! (hehe) I recommend keeping the scissors stored in a place where they are inaccessible to Littles.
  • To teach the correct way to hold the scissors I remind kids to start with "thumbs up" and present their hand as though they are offering a hand shake, then curl the fingers around the scissors.
  • In the very beginning, it helps to hold and move the paper for the child while they concentrate on the scissors. If they are still struggling, gently giving support under their forearm seems to help them find control.

I had the opportunity to peruse a popular book for kids to use to practice using scissors and was disappointed to see that the book had the children starting out cutting long straight lines. Cutting long lines is step #2 to me. Step #1 should be starting out with lots of little snips to gain strength and coordination. Making these snowflakes will give your little on lots of practice with little snips while making something meaningful.


As you can see I've got a leftie! This child just loves to keep things challenging for Mama!

Fold a square piece of paper into quarters. (We tried the six pointed snowflake and the paper was just way too thick for Littles.) Have the child cut little snips all the way around the paper, angling them this way and that.


Next, you go through with scissors and quickly connect some of these little snips to remove chunks of the paper and make a lacier snowflake.


Help your child gently open up the paper, and...


Voila! Now make another few dozen and hang them all over the dining room!

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Monday, December 19, 2011

The Gift


Have you ever had to really stretch to do something generous and you thought that it really might be a little much, but because it was so important, you decided to do it anyway? You rationalized it saying that you could just do without something else because it was important to help someone in a meaningful way. And then as soon as you cheerfully handed over the money that you were giving, you were almost immediately handed a card from someone else that contained almost that exact same amount of money that you had just stretched to give away? And it was simply a gift!

Luke 6:38 indeed!

"Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you."

And then imagine that you received a check in the mail the next day... randomly... with no note of explanation, simply marked, "gift" and it was written out for more than 10 times that amount?

I stare in wonder, shock, and amazement. I have no words...

When we got the first gift, I laughed a little bit about our family joke where we are just passing around a $20 bill. But with this second gift, I am deeply humbled. It is something we could not repay. It is just a gift... a free gift, and a much needed gift, but thanks just doesn't seem sufficient at all. And if I am this humbled and thankful for this gift, what about His free gift?

Romans 6:23 - "but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I feel very small right now. No matter what I do, no matter how fully I dedicate my life to serving Christ, no matter how much I give and love and sacrifice and praise, I can never, ever do anything that will make me worthy of this gift, let alone pay it back.

I have understood this concept in principle for a long time, but now that I am LIVING it in a very tangible way, it is so REAL. And because of this free gift, I feel more love for Christ and my fellow man than ever before. Because of that, I WANT to fully dedicate my life to serving Christ. I want to give and sacrifice and praise and serve the Lord with gladness every waking moment of my life. And I will do it with gladness of heart as the unprofitable servant.

My faith may finally be almost the size of a mustard seed.

Lord, increase our faith!

Lord, help me to never, ever forget!

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Can you count the stars?

Sunday Hymn Post
  1. Can you count the stars of evening
    That are shining in the sky?
    Can you count the clouds that daily
    Over all the world go by?
    God the Lord, who doth not slumber,
    Keepeth all the boundless number;
    But He careth more for thee,
    But He careth more for thee.
  2. Can you count the birds that warble
    In the sunshine all the day?
    Can you count the little fishes
    That in sparkling waters play?
    God the Lord their number knoweth,
    For each one His care He showeth;
    Shall He not remember thee?
    Shall He not remember thee?
  3. Can you count the many children
    In their little beds at night,
    Who without a thought of sorrow
    Rise again at morning light?
    God the Lord, who dwells in heaven,
    Loving care to each has given;
    He has not forgotten thee,
    He has not forgotten thee.
by Johann Hey

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Four Kinds of Books

I had a formula for reading, and also a very definite explanation of the difference in categories of books. My formula was to read something out of three classifications of books each evening whenever possible. The first would be something from a variety of children's stories, classics, fairy stories, and so forth; then I would read something with a Christian message; and then finish with a Bible story - or, as they grew older, with the Bible itself.

It seemed to me that this served as a real preparation for sleep, and a gentle cutting off from the activity of the day, as well as opening the way for questions and conversation about serious things. Prayers together at the end meant that the children prayed first, and then I prayed - and often the child would be asleep before I stopped praying. If not, I often sang a few hymns - the same ones each night.

I tried to explain the different kinds of books like this: "There are four kinds of books. First, fairy stories, which are make-believe and couldn't happen, but which are fun to think about and pretend are true. There are a lot of happy fairy stories, with animals that talk, or people only thumb high. Secondly, there are stories which could be true, which are just made up by the person writing; stories of little boys and girls, people doing things that people really do do, but not stories about people who really did live and who really did the things that are told about. Thirdly, there are stories about people who really did live and who did really do the things that are told about. These are called 'biographies', or true life stories. There are lots of people whose lives are interesting and different from ours, and who you'd enjoy hearing about.

Fourthly, there is another book which is quite different from anything else. It is the Bible. The Bible is God speaking to man, God speaking to us, telling us true things that happened in the past, telling us things that happened before any man lived, telling us things about the future. But the Bible doesn't tell us only history and things that are going to happen, it also tells us how to know God, and how to become one of His children so that we can have eternal life. It tells us how to live, and helps us to know what to do. The Bible gives us comfort when we are sad, and strength when we are weak. Yes, the Bible is different from any other book in the whole world, and it is important to realize this - and also important to read it over and over again.

From The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer

Wise words, and a most important reminder this time of year. How are we presenting the story of Santa, Rudolph, and Frosty the Snowman? Do we make it clear that these are fairy stories? Do we make it even more clear that the story of Noah, Baby Moses in the Basket, Jonah, Daniel in the lions den, and the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are REAL? Do we make it clear to our children that the Bible is a holy message from God?

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Seeking Perspective


I've had such strong, yet conflicting feelings lately about money. Money, money, money... a necessary evil. As we undergo changes in our home, we are, of necessity, re-evaluating our financial situation. It makes my head spin. Now is the time I wish I could sit down with an older, wiser preacher's wife and just chat about these things. I feel like I could use some wisdom.

Because I think starting at the end will help me piece things together... the conclusion I am reaching is that things are not always what they seem, so I need to just keep my heart, mind, and thoughts focused here on our little home and not worry about others.

For instance, today when I was driving to the grocery store, there was a nun driving a new red jaguar in the car behind me. My immediate thought was, "What on earth is a nun doing driving a new jaguar?!?!" It was just so discombobulating, especially considering the concerns I've had lately. Then I thought... maybe things are not what they seem. I do not know her situation. Maybe she has no car, but needed to get to a doctor's appointment, so a wealthy person lent her the car to drive. Maybe the car was a gift. Maybe she stole the car and the nun's habit was her disguise. (Just kidding on that one!) The thing is, I just don't know and can't know, so I need to not worry about it.

The situation with preachers and their money is a very, very, very tricky one. I think some of you may be able to sympathize. For one, other than the military where salary is by rank, there are not many professions where your salary is widely known and publicized. As we are seeking financial support to do the Lord's work, we just sent letters all over the country publicizing our income. Eeeeep. It's also one of the few professions I know of where you essential set your own salary in many cases, though this is not without checks and balances. We put hours of work into determining our budget and we still struggle with wondering if it is too much or too little. Our household budget is available upon (reasonable) request. We endeavor to live above reproach, but it still makes me slightly uncomfortable. I don't like the feeling of being judged.

Preachers are not known for their cushy salaries, but what about when you see a preacher with a nice home, a nice new car, new furniture, an iPhone, wearing designer clothing, etc... Does your mind rush to make a judgement? I admit it, I have been guilty. And I am ashamed. I have to remind myself, "maybe things are not as they seem". Maybe that iPhone was a gift, maybe the family saved for that new car for 5 years, maybe the new furniture was bought with a mind to dedicate it to the service of hospitality, maybe those designer clothes were given to the family and free designer clothes are cheaper than cheap clothes at Target... I just don't know, I can't know, and really, it is none of my business.

Then on the flip side... More than ever before, comes the realization that our living comes from money that has been dedicated to the Lord and His work. Hardworking families give of their means to allow us to be here doing this work. We MUST be wise stewards with these gifts.

And I must remember that we are not the only ones. I know of too many preachers that are struggling to get all of the financial support they need. Families are struggling, yet they continue working hard for the Lord. My prayer: God, bless them in their work. Help them and help us to have our need freely supplied.

I remember stories of preachers in the past... A dear man that has since passed on told the story of his time as a traveling preacher during the Great Depression. The custom was that he would preach for whatever was put in the collection plate that Sunday. One Sunday, he was paid $.35. When he and his wife got in the car that day the preacher said, "Well honey, I put in the quarter." She replied, "Honey, I put in the dime." Preachers need not take a vow of poverty and yet I know many who did just that in their dedication to the Lord and His work.

In this country, being rich or poor is entirely a state of mind. I read the story of The Rich Family in Church today and it was so timely in helping me gain perspective. We live in America (well, most of us), the richest nation on the planet. I haven't kept up with all of the Wall Street garbage, so forgive me if I say this poorly, but America's 99% are still the world's 1%! I've seen true third world poverty with my own eyes. We do not have a poverty problem in this country, we have an entitlement problem.

When I keep my eyes from wandering, when I look around at my comfortable surroundings, my beautiful gifts, my healthy, well-fed children, I am very content and I feel RICHLY blessed. God has cared for me, and he will continue to do so. I am so deeply thankful. I just need to keep these thoughts on the forefront of my mind. There are so many verses I could use here, but I'm sure you know them too. They, too, are on my heart and mind as I seek wisdom from above.

I almost didn't publish this post. As I said, talking about money is so very tricky. But I needed to sort out some thoughts and this is my forum for doing so. Advice and perspective on the matter is very much welcome. Feel free to e-mail me if you don't wish to comment publicly. churchmouseathome at gmail dot com

Thank you, kind readers. May you, too, be richly blessed!

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Reindeer Food and Other Treats

This is such a joyous time of year! It's the little things, you know?

On the tree 1

Reindeer Food

  • small twist pretzels (antlers)
  • red and green m&ms (red for rudolph's nose, green for the buttons on the elves' coats)
  • any chex cereal (Santa's sack of toys)
  • peanuts (reindeer need protein because they work hard all night long!)

Just mix in a bowl in whatever quantities you enjoy. This makes a nice Christmas morning snack along with fruit and our traditional pigs in a blanket. Serve with homemade hot cocoa!

Just for fun...

Christmas Seeds

I have never done this, but I read the idea years ago and thought it was cute... The night before Christmas, go outside with your children and "plant" unwrapped peppermints in the snow. (Or the ground if you have no snow.) After they go to bed, switch the peppermints for candy canes. Imagine their surprise the next morning! (If they want to do this every night, just remind them that it only works on Christmas Eve!)

More of our favorite holiday treats:
Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti
Cherry Eggnog Bread
Sugar Cookies
Hawaiian Snowballs

Be merry!

This post is a part of the Four Moms Holiday Cooking Linkup.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Psalm 63:1-8


O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.
4 So I will bless You as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
5 My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.

6 When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches,
7 For You have been my help,
And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me.

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If you do this in a hurry...

If you love the photo book idea and can make one for yourself in short order, Snapfish, an online photo printing company is running a GREAT deal today! Sadly, it is today only, as it expires December 7th. Enter the coupon code FRSH30 when you check out and you will get free shipping and 30% off your order.

I ordered the prints for my nephew's book last night using this deal and here is how it came out:

Quantity/Item Total

cost of prints: $1.89
FRSH30: -$0.57
subtotal: $1.32
shipping & handling:standard: $0.00
FRSH30: -$1.97
Tax: $0.09
Prints Order Total: $1.41

That means his book is costing me less than $4 total to make, and it didn't cost me any extra to have just a small order delivered to my door. Shipping is usually the most expensive part of ordering prints, so make use of this deal if you can.

I know you can upload pictures to Snapfish from Facebook, through Picassa (click the "order prints button"), or directly from your computer, and I'm sure there are other ways that are fast and easy.

I don't receive any compensation from Snapfish if you take advantage of this deal. Just trying to pass on some good info. because I love my readers!!!

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Homemade Gift for the Littles

I am REALLY excited about this gift! I just finished making a very special photo book for my Littles, and now I'm making one for my nephew. I came across this little board book in a Bible book store this past summer, and really loved it. It's a sweet book, and I bought it as a gift for someone. It got my wheels turning as to how I could make a personalized version using pictures of my own children and more Bible verses.

My Littles love looking through their first year scrapbooks and seeing pictures of themselves, and Little Littles is excited to point out body parts. Big Littles is old enough to start listening to explanations of what these verses mean. It is a wonderful little teaching tool in so many ways, and I'm hoping it will also be a good quiet book for church!

To make one of your own, you will need:
  • a mini photo album - mine was $2.40 at Michaels for a nice quality one. I would think you could find these at the dollar store too, though they may not have as many available pages. (Mine has 36.)
  • Some kind of paper and a sharpie - I had extra scrapbook paper around from making valentines about 6 years ago! It's about time I used it up! I liked handwriting the verses, but if you don't like your handwriting, you can print them from the computer.
  • Pictures of the kiddos. You can make these for your own kids, grand-kids, nieces, nephews, friends... You'll just need to have access to a lot of photos to do it.
I don't put pictures of my kids on this blog, so I've covered up faces or took pictures with a strategic glare on these sample pages. I hope you can still get a good idea of what can work. I tried to find pictures that depicted the verses well. I didn't take any pictures specifically for the book, but you could do that if you needed to. Any pages that are not detailed below just contain a photo corresponding with a verse or body part that God made.


Page 1 - Portrait with the caption, "God Made Me"

Page 2 - "So God created man in His image, in the image of God He created Him." Genesis 1:27
God Made Me Book 2
a Littles looking in a mirror

Page 5 - "I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:14

Page 7 - God made my eyes. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." Hebrews 12:2

Page 11 - God made my nose. "For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." 2 Corinthians 2:15

Page 15 - God made my ears. "Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days." Proverbs 19:20

Page 19 - God made my mouth. "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him." Psalms 34:8

Page 23 - God made my hands. "I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." Psalm 16:8
God Made Me Book 3

Page 27 - God made my feet. "For your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in your truth." Psalm 26:3
God Made Me Book 4

Page 29 - "Establish my footsteps in Your word." Psalm 119:133
God Made Me Book 5

Page 31 - "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might!" Ecclesiastes 9:10

Page 33 - "Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right." Proverbs 20:11
God Made Me Book 6

Page 35 - "Wondrously show Your steadfast love, O Savior... Keep me as the apple of Your eye..." Psalm 17:7-8

Page 36 - Portrait with caption, "Thank you God for making me."

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Menu for the Week

Monday: Chili Mac

Tuesday: Cajun Chicken & Dumplings

Wednesday: Refried beans, spanish rice, taco meat, avacado, cheese, homemade corn tortillas, homemade salsa, and whatever else I feel like throwing in

Thursday: Salmon Patties, baked sweet potato fries, roasted broccoli

Friday: Homemade Pizza

A Real Potluck Saturday: I'm bringing lemon garlic chicken and "brookies" (I think)

Brookies are a cross between brownies and cookies. I haven't tried the recipe yet, and it is from this cookbook that has a few other favorites, so I trust it will be good. And honestly, how could something not be good when it is a cross between a brownie and a cookie?!

Sunday Spaghetti: Pasta Fagioli

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Praise to the Lord

Sunday Hymn Post

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee;
Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

Original in German by Joachim Neander

Psalm 89:5 - "Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD,
your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!"

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Frugal Cookie Recipe

It's Potluck Saturday!

My Grandma had these cookies around every time we went to her house. They are a little bit cakey, and I've never had anything quite like them elsewhere. I was making these recently and realized that they are pretty frugal as far as cookies go. The more expensive ingredients, such as eggs and butter only require amounts found in cookie doughs that make half the volume. Now these are not the most amazing cookies in the world, but they are nostalgic for me, and they are fun to make. They store really well, and even taste best a day old in my opinion. Enjoy!

Grandma’s Sugar Jumbles
5 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks softened butter
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. buttermilk**
Mix the wet & dry ingredients separately, then together. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least two hours. Drop by the spoonful onto a cookie sheet. Sprinkle some cinnamon & sugar on top. Bake for 15 min. at 375*
Makes 6 dozen

** I use either powdered buttermilk or regular whole milk with a splash of lemon juice in it. To make a dairy free version, I use unsweetened rice milk with a splash of lemon juice.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

25 Days With Littles

I love to do a fun little something with the Littles each day in December as a countdown until Christmas. I keep it simple... VERY simple, even going so far as to make every Sunday a simple Hershey Kiss as a treat. Many of the days, I plan to just read a book together (which we do many times a day anyway). We all have fun doing it, and it motivates me to take the time to do special things with them.

(Our countdown calendar... steeply discounted because some of the knobs are missing... need to do something to fix them, but we enjoy it anyway!)

Here is our line up for this year:
1 - bake bread
2 - read "Up on the Housetop"
3 - begin our sticker chart countdown (just a little behind... oops!)
4 - make hot cocoa
5 - deliver cards and gifts to the neighbors
6 - make sugar jumbles
7 - make paper snowflakes
8 - write a letter to Santa
9 - make a winter scene with Lincoln Logs
10 - read "Counting Christmas"
11 - get a chocolate kiss
12 - read "White Snow, Bright Snow"
13 - make cut out cookies
14 - make stamped cards for the relatives
15 - make "stained glass trees"
16 - read "The Polar Express"
17 - Daddy Appreciation Day
18 - get a chocolate kiss
19 - make cinnamon/applesauce ornaments
20 - read "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"
21 - read "Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree"
(My favorite Christmas book!)
22 - make cookies for Santa (biscotti)
23 - make reindeer treats (essentially, fancy chex mix)
24 - make pigs in a blanket (We are celebrating as a family on this day so we can focus on our worship to God on Sunday.)

Other ideas:
- Make gingerbread or cherry eggnog bread
- Fill up the birdfeeders
- Make snowmen pancakes
- Gingerbread houses
- Decorate upside-down ice cream cones as trees
- Make beaded candy canes on pipe cleaners
- Make recycled card ornaments

*** Note - I finally became an Amazon affiliate. The links on the books are affiliate links, so if you order something from Amazon through my links (even if it is not what I link here), I get a few pennies... I think... This is my first attempt, so we'll see what comes of it. THANKS!!!

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Trimming the Tree

During my childhood, I remember always having birds at the top of our Christmas tree. I've been feeling a bit wistful for those birds this year and wanted to re-create that a bit for our little family. Preacher Man gifted me half an hour child free at Michaels so I could satisfy my creative monsters as my friend April loves to say.

I fell in love with the glittery cardinals.

Tweet Tweet

They are flashier than what I typically buy, but it is Christmas, after all, and once on the tree, they are a perfect fit!

Here's what I did:

Tree Topper Materials

I bought:
  • 2 glittery cardinals
  • a package of cinnamon pinecones - some are painted gold and there are some pretty glittery red berries in the pack too
  • a small grapevine wreath for the foundation
  • a little pick with gold berries
  • a length of berry garland
  • I also used some hot glue and some heavier gauge beading wire that I had on hand. Green floral wire would be better, but I didn't have any, and the silver works just fine.
Wrapping the wreath

1. Wrap the berry garland around the grapevine wreath, tucking in the ends so they don't show.

Wiring It In

2. Preacher Man suggested that I wrap the garland with the wire because the branches of the garland were sticking out too much. I just tucked the ends of the wire deep into the wreath, and gently wrapped around the little branches to reign them in.

Ready to Hot Glue

3. Decorate!! I stuck the gold berry pick deep into the wreath, attached my little cardinals, and glued on the pinecones and glittery berries. Place things on the wreath strategically to cover bare spots and wire ends. Be sure to leave the middle of the wreath open so there is room for the top point of the tree to poke through.


On the tree 1

I think they are just too sweet! The Littles love them too!

On the tree 2

This year's tree, all decked out. Last year, I got creative to make a babyproof Christmas tree, and I loved so many of the things I did, that I'm bringing them back again this year. These paper ball ornaments are absolute favorites! The Littles love hanging the pretty copper and silver cookie cutters on the tree as ornaments, and I still think the lace looks lovely as a garland.

I'm saving cards to make some of these ornaments this year, and I hope to bundle up the Littles to hunt for some acorns so I can make these lovelies to mix with my cinnamon pinecones.

What holiday crafts are you undertaking this year?

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sweet Treats

Our family's favorite treat for a winter's evening is homemade popcorn and hot cocoa. I'll be honest, it's easier to convince myself to bundle everyone up in their snowsuits to play outside if there is the promise of warming up with hot cocoa after we come back in. It is also traditional holiday tree trimming fare.

Got Dairy Free Cocoa?

Church Mouse's Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

Here's a recipe for a yummy and thrifty hot cocoa mix. You can make this in bulk to use with your family or to give away as a gift in a quart size mason jar with a ribbon on it.
  • 8 c. powdered dry milk
  • scant 3/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
Add 1/3 c. mix to 1 c. hot water and enjoy!

If you don't want to bother with making up a mix ahead of time, the easiest and best homemade cocoa is just 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a mug. Add about 1 c. hot milk or for a dairy free version, hot soy/rice/coconut milk. (I prefer the coconut. I would advise using less sugar with the pre-sweetened milks.) Add a dash of cinnamon if it suits your fancy. Easy to remember, easy to make!
(Thanks to my friend, Stacey, for the suggestion!)

Now for the POPCORN!

Have you been making your popcorn in the microwave all these years? There is a better way!!! It is substantially cheaper to buy your popcorn in bulk and pop it on the stove. You really don't need to buy a fancy popcorn popper. We have tried several and while they do work well, they are usually very annoying to clean and they burn out after a few years of heavy use. We now use our big stock pot, the very same one that we use to make soup, iced tea, and any number of things. I'm happy to get rid of a bulky kitchen gadget in favor of using something as multipurpose as a good stock pot. Plus, the stockpot washes out so easily! Reducing dirty dishes is always a win in my book!

Popping Corn on the Stove, Step By Step:

1. Put a couple of tablespoons of oil in your pot and add two popcorn kernels. Use enough oil to cover the entire bottom of the pot. (We usually make a big batch in our stock pot, but you can make a small batch using a smaller saucepan just as well.) Turn your burner to medium-high heat.

Popcorn 1

2. When one of the popcorn kernels pops, add enough popcorn to cover the bottom of your pot, plus just a little bit more. Cover with a lid.

Popcorn 2

3. Shake the pot to evenly coat the kernels - just slide it back and forth on the stove a bit.

Popcorn 3

4. When the kernels start popping, continue shaking the pot to mix the kernels and to keep the popped pieces from burning. Vent out some of the steam by slightly lifting the lid if needed.

Popcorn 4

5. When the popping stops, pour the popped corn into a large bowl. Put the pot back on the stove and add your butter to the pot to melt it. Drizzle the melted butter on top of your popped corn and add seasonings to taste.

Popcorn 5

You can adjust this to your tastes, but these ratios are a good rule of thumb:
1 Tbs. oil + 1/3 c. popcorn kernels + 1 Tbs. butter

You can use any kind of oil, but our favorite is Nutiva coconut oil. Amazon runs amazing deals from time to time, and it is our top choice for healthy cooking oils.

Our favorite seasonings:
I definitely recommend popcorn salt. It is ground super fine so it sticks to the kernels.

** Note - I am not a Penzey's affiliate and I do not receive any compensation for my recommendation. I just love their spices so much that I wish everyone could enjoy them as we do.

What is your favorite popcorn flavor?

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