Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, 
but the parent of all the others.

While today's celebrations began as a result of thankfulness to God for surviving in a new land, I would say that the heart of the matter today is about an attitude of gratitude.

Gratitude for the lot in life we've been given, for the family we have, for the food on our plates, the roof over our heads, the food in our bellies, the internets on our computer (!)....We may have it "rough" some days, but I know that I am surely blessed.

As the doxology that I loved to sing as a small child states, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow."

And that is that. Nothing good that I have is a result of much more than a God who loves me, despite my flaws and failures. Sure, hard work and chance and timing and all that. But, truly, I know that "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father...." (James 1:17).

I hope that your Thanksgiving day is full of happiness and joy, butter and carbs, laughter and hugs. I hope the same for me. And I hope that, at its heart, my Thanksgiving is full of an attitude of gratitude---for the little stuff and the big stuff. 

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More Harvest Table Decor

I thought I'd share the rest of my "tablescape" as Sandra Lee of "Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee" calls it! Total sidenote: I really dislike that show. Her food scares me. Her decorating and wardrobe are fun, but I don't think I would call what she does "cooking." I digress...again.

Here is what I ended up doing for my Thanksgiving table. The flower arrangements and votives you saw yesterday. The bowl in the center I scored at Goodwill for $3 and filled with gourds I had. Easy!

Tablecloth: Walmart. $9!

And for the kidlets?

They get this adorable little table I re-habbed for Little Miss' 1st Birthday--a $10 score at a garage sale + elbow grease, spray paint and a sander!

I like the tiny gourd under the marble cheese plate. Classic.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Harvest Table Decor

I set the Thanksgiving table a bit early this year, so that it's not a frantic rush on Thursday. I had gotten two lovely bouquets at Costco---one of brown and golden mums and another a fall medley with roses, lilies, eucalyptus, mums and berries. I set my sights on making two arrangements out of these in low, rectangular vases so they wouldn't block conversation at our table. I also added votives. The set up was lovely, but just not complete.

I remembered a stash of burlap I had purchased at Hobby Lobby over the summer. I knew instantly what I wanted to do!

To decorate and "harvest" up any vase, jar, votive or even a pillar candle, you'll need burlap, double stick tape, ribbon and scissors. I used ribbon I had on hand---1/2" brown satin. I would've preferred wider ribbon, but didn't want to run out to the store.

I planned on "shabby-ing up" the 2 rectangular vases and 8 votives.

 First, I cut two strips of burlap, about 3" wide and long enough to wrap around the vase. Using two rows of double stick tape, I attached the burlap to the vase, about 2" down from the top---which covered perfectly the surface of the water that can get scummy looking. Yeah!

Next, I measured a length of ribbon that could wrap around the burlap twice---in order to beef up my skinny ribbon. I tied the ribbon in a bow and, voila! Done!

For the votives, I took a long strip of double stick tape and pressed it onto the burlap. I used the width and length of the tape as a guide for cutting the burlap, which also helped minimize the burlap fraying and shedding.

I attached it to the top of the votive and was done! A super easy project and I am quite pleased with the results!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Delicious Apple Pie for the Birthday Boy

One birthday tradition I love is to allow the birthday boy or girl choose the meal for dinner. This year, Little Man has become quite a good little eater. He loves steak and chicken, tacos and spaghetti. I had no idea what he would choose for his birthday dinner.

He thought about it long and hard and decided that he wanted Curried Chicken Pot Pie for the meal with homemade bread and Apple Pie for his birthday dessert.

One of my favorite Apple Pie recipes is Grandma Ople's Apple Pie from Allrecipes. I don't know who Grandma Ople is, but she is one clever lady. Little Man LOVES this pie.

I started with a blend of Granny Smith and Gala apples.

Peel all the apples. I hate this part; I'm not going to sugar coat it. I would buy one of those apple peeler gadgets, but think I'd hate cleaning and assembling it more than I hate the peeling. I'm just not as good at peeling as my mom is. Bummer.
 Next, slice the apples into thin (1/4" thick) slices and core the apple at the same time.

I'm still married, btw. My rings needed to be cleaned and re-sized, so hence the ring-less fingers.
Toss the apples in a bowl and squeeze some lemon juice over them, or use the bottled lemon juice. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon on top and some freshly grated nutmeg--about 1/8 teaspoon.

Next, get your pie crust ready. I almost always use homemade since I discovered a couple good recipes, but today I just didn't have the time. I took the Pillsbury way out. Don't hate me.

Toss your apples in there and get going on the next step, which requires a stick of butter, brown and white sugars, and flour.

Get melting that butter over medium heat.

Add in your other ingredients: flour and sugars, then bring to a boil.

Mix well to avoid lumps. I love, love, LOVE this tiny whisk for making roux or for this recipe. It's from Pampered Chef. I highly recommend. While I think of it, preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

While the caramel syrup is coming to a boil, prepare your top crust. I couldn't just do a plain top crust. The reasons are two-fold: 1. I'm a nut-job and can't make anything "simple." 2. It's a Birthday Pie! It needs a little birthday love in the form of a number SIX!

I also couldn't stop at just a number 6. SO I cut out tiny stars out of the "6" scraps and added those, too.
I have issues, but at least I recognize it!

By now your caramel syrup topping should be at a lovely rapid boil, like so:

Let it boil for a few minutes and it will reduce a bit. It will become a nice caramel brown color and smell delicious. Be careful; it's VERY hot!

Next, carefully and slowly pour the topping over the apple pie. It works to beautifully color the top of the pie, bring amazing flavor and it also drips all inside the pie. Yum!

You'll want to use a silicone pastry brush to evenly spread the caramel-y goodness all over the top of the pie.

Wipe the edges of the pie plate (to keep it pretty) and place on a foil-covered heavy baking sheet. Bake according to recipe, and enjoy!

Isn't it lovely?

Isn't he lovely?
The pie was delicious and Little Man was thrilled with how it turned out. I was too! He ate his entire piece and was ready for seconds before I sat down to eat my piece! I guess he was a fan!

And guess how he rewarded his mama? In the best possible way:

Lucky me.

Grandma Ople's Apple Pie
adapted from Allrecipes

1 recipe of pastry for a 9" double crust pie
7-8 peeled, cored and sliced apples, I use Granny Smith and Gala or Golden Delicious
Juice of 1/2of a lemon
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4-1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 cup water
3 TB. flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare crust in 9" pie plate. Peel, core and slice apples. Toss apples with the lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium sized bowl. Add to the prepared crust and top with the 2nd crust.
Over medium heat, melt the butter. Add water, flour, and sugars. Bring to a rapid boil for several minutes, reducing. Carefully pour over the crust, ensuring it is evenly covered using a pastry brush. Place pie plate on a foil-covered baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake for 35-45 minutes longer, until apples are tender-crisp. Cool and serve!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lego Party Invitations and Envelope Tutorial

I've been kind of a deadbeat blogger lately. Lots of party preparations and birthday celebrations around here.

I blogged the other day about the party theme--LEGO. We are all about Legos here, or the boys are. Including the daddy-type boy. He's the worst of them all! So, when the idea was brought up to have a Lego party a few months ago, he was almost as excited as the Little Man himself!

I printed the invites and added the following papers to up the LEGO ante. I should have found LEGO paper, but didn't have time. I liked how these turned out.

The blue background is another piece of paper--the invite itself is only three layers--white cardstock with the printed invitation details, blue cardstock and lined scrapbook paper.

Once they were finished, I realized I didn't have envelopes. I was looking frantically at the PaperSource website when Little Man in his wise-beyond-his-years-voice said, "Why don't you make envelopes?" Duh.

So I did!

Again, I used what I had on hand---which was black checkered flag wrapping paper, though any paper could be used. I thought the checks looked like blocks...or kind of LEGO-ish.

You'll need these very complicated (not!) supplies: wrapping (or other) paper, tape, scissors and a positive attitude. Okay, you don't need the positive attitude, but it will make the project even more fun!

Start by cutting your envelope paper to size about 1 1/2 times longer than your mail and about 3 inches wider. Then place your mail (the invite) a bit less than halfway down the paper so that the mail will be fully covered by the bottom half of the envelope paper. Fold the left and right sides over the mail. Like so:

Fold the bottom half up over the mail. At the top of the envelope at the very top portion of the mail piece, notch two cuts along the top so that the mail will be easily removed upon receipt. In the photo below, I added arrows to show where to cut.

Once the notches are cut, fold over the top to make the envelope flaps.

SO easy, right?

Next, tape the envelope closed, or use an address label to close it.

Since my envelope paper was both shiny and too "busy" to write the address on directly, I used an address label.

And then I realized two things. The Sharpie was out of ink and my hands are ug-ly! Alas, the Sharpie problem I was able to resolve. I'm stuck with the hands. Oh well.
The final product looked great!
Cute, huh? Little Man came up with an awfully cute idea! I want to make all the envelopes from here on out--they are cute, cheap and so much more interesting. I will add that I used 2 stamps because I didn't know if the almost-square shape would go through the machines in the post office. All the invites arrived, though, so it was no problemo!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy Birthday, Little Man!

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass." "We're not raising grass," Dad would reply. "We're raising boys."
--- Harmon Killebrew

The business of raising boys is hard work. But I must say, Little Man makes great joy of the work of motherhood.

On this very day, six years ago, Little Man entered the world, my arms, my heart and our life. He was born in the wee hours of the morning after a long night of labor. I chose to do water birth, mostly because I'm completely needle-phobic and was too afraid of an epidural. Long story short, I loved water birth and Little Man certainly seemed to reap the benefits of the natural delivery in the water.

The moment he was born and was placed in my arms, he didn't cry. He did not yell. He opened his eyes and looked all around with the most inquisitive and searching expression. His eyes, as they were that early November morning, are bright and beautiful and blue, like his Daddy's.

This day, I celebrate that Little Man (or "The Boy" as we called him, before his baby brother arrived!). I celebrate his search for wisdom, I celebrate his pure heart, I celebrate his love for God and family. I celebrate the gift he is in my life. I thank God that He, in His infinite wisdom, entrusted us with Little Man. What a blessing, an extraordinary gift!

Happy Birthday, Little Man! I love you like crazy.

PS More SOON on the birthday preparations, including the rest of the invite, decos and a Lego pinata! Fun, fun, fun! AND my other project I spoke about. phew. I'm behind!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Blessed beyond Measure

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Blessed beyond measure.
 That's a way I often explain my circumstances. I don't think that it is a guarantee in this life that you find your soulmate. That you love what you do (laundry notwithstanding!). That you love your parents and have a great relationship with your sibling and his wife. That you get to be a mama to three beautiful healthy babies. That you love your friends and your church and your country.

 Simply experiencing one of those things would be enough for more than a lifetime of gratitude. And yet I have all of them.
Blessed beyond measure.
That's me.

In this season of Thanksgiving, I encourage you to spend a moment daily to put pencil to paper or fingers to keyboard to take stock of what God has blessed you with in your life, whether it be your house, your health, your honey, your haircolor. Taking inventory of all of these "haves" in my life makes it impossible to remember that there are any  "have nots." 

How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.
Psalm 31:19

Thursday, November 12, 2009


"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever."
Psalm 107:1

I am thankful for so many things, but foremost is the love from God that has taught me how to love others, how to receive love, and how to live in this world. I don't think I could do my job as Mostly Mom, wife to that cutie Irishman and my friends and other family members if I didn't have God's perfect love in my heart. There are so many days that, as my Beth Moore "Esther" study says, it's tough being a woman! Thank heaven that God knows every little struggle, every little flaw, every little mountain I'm climbing. And thank the Lord that He loves my hubby and my kidlets even more than I can fathom. That kind of love is staggering and hard to imagine---I mean, I'm a fierce mama bear when it comes to loving my man and my babies. But more love than that?

"Greater love hath no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends"
John 15:13

His friends, his enemies, their children and their children's children. Amazing. Staggering. Truly incomprehensible. I am so blessed to have healthy children, a husband I adore (and who I'm pretty certain loves me like crazy #2, too), and a wonderful family. But most of all, I am blessed to be a child of a Creator who loves me more than I can ever fathom or ever deserve.

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Favorite Little Bookworm

On Facebook a few months back, a college friend commented that Irish hubby and I were raising nerds after Little Man, upon seeing the snow on the ground in early October, said, "We're on Hoth." As in, the frozen planet that Luke and Co. travel to in Star Wars.

I have to say that I'm kind of proud to be raising nerds. Nerds that like cool music and have great senses of humor. Nerds that love Jesus, their mom and books. In that order!

To bear witness to the nerd-dom we are creating in our little Irish Norwegian family, I present exhibit A.

It's a normal Tuesday afternoon at our house. I pick up Littlest Man at preschool with Little Miss Pink in tow. We head to the prep academy that Little Man attends to pick him up from half day kindergarten. We get there early, so Littlest Man and Little Miss Pink look at books (and I do, too) in the car.

Little Man and his classmates file out of the building, waiting to get escorted to their awaiting minivans. Little Man's adorable teacher (who reminds us all of Giselle from "Enchanted") holds his hand and walks him to the car. Normally, she says hello and goodbye and is on her way to deposit another kindergartner in his or her vehicle.

Not today. Today, she looks at me with a rather serious face and says she had to have a chat with Little Man. Uh-oh. You have to know that Little Man, like his mother, is incredibly obedient and rule conscious when it comes to other people (at home, not so much always!) and school, church, etc. I remember the very few times I got in trouble in elementary school. Vividly. I digress.

My stomach dropped when she said those words because, as I said, I'm a rule follower, too! She proceeded to tell me that, upon arrival at school, Little Man and a classmate stopped at the book fair that was being held in the school atrium. They did not continue onto class, though. They stopped for many minutes. Little Man was reading and reading, until another adult stopped him to ask, "Where are you supposed to be, boys?" His teacher told me that Little Man was actually late for class because of his little Book Fair visit. She let me know she'd talked to him about this behavior and he understood he couldn't do it again.

So, Little Man's first run in with the law at school was as a result of his inability to hold back the urge to check out all the new books. Like an escapee from Fat Camp at the candy store. My Little Man.

We had a chat about it that night at bedtime. Little Man told me that when the adult "caught" him, he felt like his heart was just racing. We talked about being obedient and making good choices. Then he said, "My heart is beating a lot again." I asked him why. He said, "I wonder how am I going to walk by all of those books without stopping again tomorrow?"


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fun with Fungi

I'm working on a little project. It involves mushrooms, spray paint, and organization.

Actually, organization would probably more fun with mushrooms.

Just kidding. A label maker is all I need for good times in the organizational department.

Here's a peek at my project.

 More soon!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Slacker Me...

I know I said I'd post details about finishing up Little Man's birthday party invitations...and I will!
I have been brainstorming ideas for decos, the cake, the games. We will definitely have some Lego fun come 11.20!

In the mean time, I wanted to share this SO SUPER FUN blog I found a few weeks back. It is called Shanty2Chic and is written by two sisters that have a penchant for spray paint, gorilla glue, Ralph Lauren glaze and making everything they touch turn chic for very little $!

Please check it out. Don't get mad at me that you lose at least 30 minutes looking at all of their cute projects, like these rustic chalkboards, or this cake stand, or this headboard project.

This blog makes me want to run out and by some Ralph Lauren glaze and get to work on ANYTHING! It's actually supposed to be warm here today, so I hope to get a few projects done, including the revamp of a vintage metal bread box (kinda like this, but cuter!). I plan to spray paint it and use it to catch the MOUNTAINS of paperwork that come home from school with the Little Men.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dear Santa and/or Birthday Fairy....

I really, really think I've been a good girl this year.

I only dyed a few loads of whites pink in 2009 and I hear that real men like to wear pink boxers and real Little Men like the background of their GI Joe undies to have a whisper of pink to underscore the manliness.

I didn't accrue any late fees at the library.

I worked out more than 10 times this year and finally lost all that pesky baby weight.

I didn't get any speeding tickets or moving violations of any kind.

I'm sure there are loads of other reasons I could detail that would further illustrate my good behavior in 2009.

So, pretty please, can I have this sewing machine?

I can't decide if it's a want or a need. But I'd really LIKE to have it. I have big plans for crafting and sewing all kinds of projects on it, but it's hard to bring said plans to fruition without that pretty girl.

With warmest regards and my cutest smile,
Mostly Mom

P.S. If you know my favorite Irish hubby, could you print this post off and mail it to him?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lego of your's Birthday Time!

That was the cheesy header I had to refrain from using on Little Man's 6th Birthday invitations. He has been all about the Legos ever since my fave-o-fave hubby dug his old Legos out of storage for the boys. We have about 3.2 million of them (perhaps a wee bit of exaggeration) and I don't know who loves them more, the Irish hubby or his handsome Little Men. But, since my hubby already had his big 30th birthday bash in February, Little Man chose the Lego theme for his birthday first (and a 31 year old doesn't usually have toy or action hero themed birthday parties anyhow...!)!

I'm ruminating on lots of fun ideas for the Lego party, particularly in the cake, decorating, and food arenas. I'm counting on my hubby to come up with loads of clever games, though I think we must build a Lego pinata because it would be pretty easy for sure.

Here is what I came up with for the invites...more on the exact details of the other papers soon.

I was hoping to find cute Lego papers, but since I really procrastinated on these (shh, don't tell Little Man!), I didn't have time to order any online. I am thrilled with how they came out and excited to show you the rest tomorrow, including the homemade envelopes! 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

On Turkey

Yesterday I mentioned that I haven't always loved the month of November. Now I adore it, mostly due to this fella:
Little Man and his November birthday made me really come around about the eleventh month of the year. (PS His eyes are even more blue now, but he doesn't drool. Except when he's sleeping sometimes.) He was quite a cutie, no? He still is. See evidence below.

I also haven't always LOVED Thanksgiving. We celebrate Thanksgiving with dear, dear friends. In fact, one of my best friend's and her family. We kind of adopted each other when we were celebrating away from families over 10 years ago. Now, we're all grown up and having our own kiddos, but we still celebrate together, alternating locations every year.

Our Thanksgiving meal has gone to very traditional---plain (and maybe dry!) turkey, simple sides, and pumpkin pie. Over the last several years, though, we've gone foodie! And I LOVE it.

This is the turkey we have made when my mom has hosted for the past 2 times:

image courtesy of martha

It is a Cranberry Glazed Turkey with Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing. It is to.die.for. SOOOO very, very delicious.

So, since Little Man came around, I've been a huge November fan. And since I discovered this turkey, I may just be November's biggest fan. Think about adding this beauty to your Thanksgiving menu. You won't regret it!