Sunday, January 31, 2010

Old Photos

I found a new scrapbooking sketch blog, The Scrappiest, recently, and I decided to use a few of their sketches to scrap some old pictures this week. The first page is about our home, which is the home where Jim grew up. When Jim and I were engaged and looking for a home of our own, Jim's mom offered to sell us her house so she could move to an apartment with less maintenance. We took her up on her offer, and though we've made many changes to the house to make it "ours," it is the same little house where Jim has lived his entire life. I found an old picture of Jim as a little boy standing in front of our house. I took a picture of Drew standing in about the same spot, and I used the two photos on this layout. This next page is about Drew as a baby, during the few short months of his life when he was actually slightly chubby. My sister, Nora, took these pictures of Drew wearing some boots that she got for him.
It was fun to scrap some older photos this week!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Scrapbook Pages

It has been a while since I've shared any scrapbook pages, so I thought I would post a few recent pages.
This first page is based on a sketch from Let's Scrap. I made it using the pictures I took a few weeks ago when we got some snow.
This next page is based on a sketch from 52 Sketches, 52 Weeks (which is not posting new sketches anymore, sadly). I love these pictures of Drew helping bake Christmas cookies.
This last page is based on a Let's Scrap sketch, and I used pictures from our Thanksgiving celebrations in Michigan and in South Carolina.

I have a few other little projects I'm working on that I will try to share soon.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Blackberry Cobbler

Jim loves Blackberry Cobbler, and my mom gave me this wonderful recipe a few years ago. I made this last night for Jim's belated birthday treat. Blackberry Cobbler

1/2 cup sugar
2 T tapioca
1/4 tsp. allspice
5 cups blackberries (fresh or thawed)
2 T orange juice

1 cup flour
1/3 cup and 1 T sugar, divided
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup vanilla yogurt
1/3 cup milk
3 T melted margarine

In a large bowl, combine sugar, tapioca, and allspice. Add berries and orange juice. Toss to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes. Spoon into prepares 2 quart baking dish.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking soda, and salt. Combine yogurt, milk, and margarine. Stir in dry ingredients until smooth. Spread over berry mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with 1 T sugar. Bake 25-30 minutes longer or until golden brown. Serve warm.
I like it served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and Jim likes his in a bowl of milk. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy Birthday to Jim!

Today is Jim's birthday, and we've celebrated it as a family, with a nice, relaxing day together. Jim took today off from work, but he didn't really get to sleep in. Drew woke up at 7:15 this morning, crying and calling for me. I went ahead and got up with Drew, and Jim got up shortly after that since Drew had been so loud.
I made Apple Pie Muffins for breakfast, using a new recipe we found recently on the Tasty Kitchen website. They were very good!
Apple Pie Muffins

Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp. cinnamon

Muffin Batter:
1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups peeled, diced apples
I also added 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg that was not called for in the original recipe.

In a small bowl, toss together crumb topping ingredients until crumbly. You may need extra flour to get a good crumble. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together brown sugar and wet ingredients until smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Mix dry ingredient mixture and liquid mixture together. Fold in apples. Mix until just combined.
Spoon into greased muffin tins, filling each cup 3/4 full. Sprinkle topping over batter evenly.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and tops spring back. Makes about 2 dozen.

Drew and I went to his story time at the library late this morning, while Jim stayed home to relax and work on his message for Youth Group tomorrow evening. This afternoon, Jim did a few car maintenance things, and I made a Target run while Drew napped.
We went out for dinner at Mongolian Barbecue this evening with Jim's mom. It was fabulous! Jim had requested Blackberry Cobbler for his birthday dessert, but we ended up having dessert at dinner, so I am planning to make Jim's cobbler tomorrow instead. I'll share that recipe later this week.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Blessing to Families With New Babies

Jim and I are members of our church's Young Married Sunday School class. As you can imagine, our class members are the main group in our church who are having new babies. Our class has taken on a little project as a way of helping the families in our class welcome their new little ones and trying to be an encouragement and help during a wonderful, yet exhausting time in their lives. The ladies in our class take turns taking a meal to the families with new babies. We usually have enough ladies participate that the family will get a meal every other night for about two weeks.
This week, I had the opportunity to take a meal to a family whose new little girl was born a few days before Christmas. My usual meal to take is Chicken Enchiladas and Mexican Rice and a dessert (that usually varies).
My enchilada recipe is one that my mom found and passed along to me. These enchiladas are a regular meal at our house, and I love to make them for others too. They are easy, don't require a lot of ingredients, and can be made ahead - which makes them perfect for delivering to some one's house.
This recipe is from the Betty Crocker Do-Ahead Cookbook.

2 cups cooked chicken or turkey
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup cottage cheese
6 tortillas
8 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 cup salsa (I use medium)
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
Grease a 9x13 pan. Mix turkey, 1 cup cheddar cheese, and cottage cheese. Spoon into tortillas. Roll up and place seam side down in the pan. Combine tomato sauce, salsa, and spices. Pour over enchiladas. Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Uncover and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer.
Can refrigerate unbaked for 48 hours or freeze for 2 months.

After refrigeration:
Bake 30 minutes.
Add cheese.
Bake 15 minutes longer.

From freezer:
Bake for 45 minutes.
Add cheese.
Bake 15-20 minutes longer.

I usually send these enchiladas to the families in disposable foil containers with lids, and I include the "After Refrigeration" baking instructions. I usually put the extra 1/2 cup of cheese in a sandwich bag, so the families will have everything they need. I like to send these unbaked so the families will be able to use the meal whenever they are ready.

My Mexican rice recipe is another recipe from my mom. I have made a few changes, so I am posting it as I make it. Her version is on her blog.

Jan's Rice
1-2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup rice
2 cups water (or chicken broth)
2 cubes of chicken bouillon (You will not need these if you use broth.)
1/3 cup medium salsa
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic, and cook for about a minute. Add rice a stir around for a few minutes. Add broth/water, bouillon cubes, and salsa. Stir until the liquids boil, and then reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes.
I usually just put this rice into a gallon-sized Ziplock bag to take to the families. I don't want the families to have to worry about washing and returning my dishes, so I try to use disposable containers.

I also like to bring a little gift along with the meal. I like to make flannel baby blankets, and I always make these for each baby. I usually use 1 and 1/3 yards of flannel for each blanket. I press the edges under 1/4 inch and then another 1/4 inch, and then I machine hem the blanket. Once the blanket is machine hemmed, I like to use a blanket stitch around the edges, using pearl cotton. My mom and I made several of these for Drew when he was little, and I loved them! They are bigger than most receiving blankets and are perfect for swaddling (which I did with Drew for months and months since he was so little).
Another gift I have been making lately is cute diaper burp cloths. My sister made me a bunch of these when Drew was a baby, and I got another set from a friend. I loved the absorbency of the diaper burp cloths, and I loved that they were cute! I just take a leftover strip of flannel (about 5 inches tall and about an inch or two longer than the width of the diaper), press it under about 1/2 an inch on all sides, and pin it on the diaper. I machine stitch it to the diaper, and then I add trim. This one has a strip of twill tape trim and a ribbon bow and flower button (sewed on VERY tightly). I used Fray Check on the ends of the bow. I've also used rickrack to decorate another diaper burp cloth. A little cost-saving tip (from my mom) for these burp cloths is to buy the car washing diapers from Target instead of the baby diapers. They are cheaper and are still very soft and 100% cotton.
I hope some of these ideas will be helpful!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Snowball Fight

We got about five inches of snow last Thursday night. Jim was teaching for elementary chapel last Friday morning, and he decided to just take the day off from work. After he got home from school and plowed the driveway, we all went out to our backyard to play in the snow. Drew loves snowballs, and as soon as we got outside, Jim started up a snowball fight. Drew was a little hesitant to walk through the deeper snow at first.
Jim had to form his own snowballs and Drew's snowballs.
Drew's mittens were caked with snow!
Trying to make a snow angel.

Drew loved playing in the snow!
Jim got Drew right in the face with a snowball!

We had a great time out in the snow!
Drew can't wait to go out and play in the snow again!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Peppermint Bark Chocolate Cookies

I had a baking day the day before before Christmas Eve, and on that day, I had a long list of items I planned to bake. I was going to make three batches of cinnamon rolls, some white chocolate-dipped Oreos, a batch of dinner rolls, some peppermint bark, and a batch of these Peppermint Bark Chocolate Cookies.
Things were going smoothly. The Oreos were dipped, the peppermint bark was made, a batch of cinnamon rolls were done, another batch was rising, and the third batch was mixing in the bread machine. As the morning went along, I kept thinking that I smelled gas coming from my oven. The smell, and my headache, kept getting worse and worse, and I decided to play it safe and call the gas company.
By the time the man from the gas company arrived, much of the smell had dissipated. I had turned off the oven and opened a kitchen window. The man tested my stove and said that there was definitely something wrong. He thought it might be a delayed ignition, and told me that he would shut off the gas line to the oven and that I should call a repairman.
Jim was able to find a repairman, but he wasn't available until the following morning. I had two batches of cinnamon rolls rising in my fridge, and I was supposed to bring a dessert for Jim's family Christmas the next afternoon. I wasn't sure what to do. I ended up calling two of the friends that were recipients of some of the cinnamon rolls and asking if they minded baking their own rolls. They both graciously told me that would be just fine, and they both offered the use of their ovens. Our friend, Beth, lives a couple blocks away, and since she and her family were planning to be out that evening, I decided to take her up on her offer and go over to bake the third batch of cinnamon rolls and the cookies for the family Christmas.
The cinnamon rolls got pretty big because they had risen in the fridge all afternoon, and the cookies tasted good, but I thought that they were kind of flat. I had never made the cookies before, and I decided I wanted to try them again after our oven was repaired.
I made the cookies again this week, and this time, I added about half a cup of extra flour and half a teaspoon of peppermint extract. They were a little less flat this time, and they tasted very good, but they still weren't just like the cookies in the original recipe.
As I baked the cookies, I used this new beater (a Christmas gift from my parents) on my Kitchen Aid mixer. I really like this beater! It scrapes the sides of the bowl as it mixes, and it keeps dry ingredients from collecting at the bottom and not getting fully mixed.
By the way, our oven is fixed! The gas man was correct about the delayed ignition, and the repairman was able to fix our oven on Christmas Eve morning fairly quickly and easily. We are thankful for our working oven and for safety on our baking day!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bowling With a Two Year-Old

We decided to go bumper bowling the last evening my family was here, and our friends the Johns, Weirich, and Scally families joined us. Drew had never been bowling before, and though we assumed he would like it, we were interested to see how it would go. Jim worked with Drew to show him what to do. We were able to use a six pound ball, but it was still pretty heavy for Drew. Drew's bowling method was to carry the ball over to the lane and just throw it toward the ground.
He would then excitedly watch it SLOWLY roll all the way down the lane to the pins.
After a finger pinch, Drew let Jim get the ball for him each time.
After a while, Drew started using a little ramp, which made things go a little more quickly.
Drew and Joseph with their bowling balls. These two loved bowling, and they ended up taking their turns and most of ours. Drew would cry when it was someone else's turn to bowl!
By the end, Drew was tired, but he really loved bowling!

It was a fun evening, and Drew can't wait to do it again!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Very Thomas Christmas

We had a very nice Christmas at our house this year. Our first celebration was at Jim's sister, Sharon's house with all of that side of the family on Christmas Eve. We had lunch together and then opened gifts. Drew got lots of fun things - a Doodle Pro, a Craftsman tool bench, some Thomas trains, and a Thomas movie.
On Christmas Day, Jim's mom came to our house for lunch and another gift exchange. Drew got a bunch more Thomas stuff - including Thomas underwear,
a Cranky the Crane,
and a bunch of trains and tracks. He was so excited!
My parents, sister, brother, and sister-in-law came the night of the 26th, and we had a third gift exchange that evening. My sister, Nora, gave Drew a Thomas pillow that he has been asking for for months (every time we go to Target).
Jim and I gave Drew a roundhouse to store some of his trains and to go with his tracks.
Drew also received another train, a Thomas movie, and a Thomas sticker book from my brother, Mark, and my sister-in-law, Katie, that night. This year's gifts centered around Thomas - Drew's main obsession! He did lots of other non-Thomas things too, but Thomas is his true love right now.
Drew was so spoiled this year, and he really loved opening his gifts. He liked passing out gifts to others, but a lot of the time, he thought that he should get to open those gifts too! We had a very good Christmas this year, and it was fun to get to spend time with so many people that we love. My family was here for four days, and it was great to have them here.