Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday's Craft: Spring Wreath

I has been a looooooong time since I've posted something about crafting. Mostly because I haven't done anything new in a while. So here I am and ready to post a new craft just in time for Spring!

This year I have been looking at Spring like a dieter looks at chocolate. I don't want to get excited, but I find myself indulging anyway. I wasn't exactly happy with winter this year, so I'm dreading the awful heat of summer in a few weeks. But here I am, sitting in my kitchen, writing this blog, and waiting for the 89 degree weather Spring has in store for me today, and I'm going to share with you my newest craft: a Spring Wreath.

Yup. Wreaths. They are super easy, and I almost didn't post because they really are just that easy. But I figured there's got to be someone out there who needs a quick tutorial on how to make one. So here goes:

Spring Wreath

What You'll Need:

  • 1 medium round or oval wicker wreath (they are the pre-shaped wreaths made out of sticks in the craft section of the store) 
  • Fake flowers of various spring colors 
  • "Spring" ribbon with wire
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • 2 feet of ribbon without wire
  • Scissors
  • Wire cutters (optional, but may be necessary depending on the flowers you get)

Instructions: (in pictures) 
1. Glue the ribbon to the inside of the wreath, loop around one time, and then glue the ribbon to the glued end on your wreath. Begin wrapping the ribbon around the wreath until you get all the way around (see spacing in step 3)

2. Fold over the end of the ribbon once to hide the frayed end and then glue down. 

3. Try to maneuver the ribbon around the wreath to get as equal as spacing as your ribbon and wreath with allow. 

4. Using scissors or wire cutters, snip the flowers off the stems. Make sure you leave a little stem. In the past, when I cut it too short (like the yellow flower in the picture), the flower eventually fell apart. So flower on the left: good. Flower on the right, not so good. You could also cut some of the leaves and add those if you want (I did not). 

Note a step, just a note: I put all my cut flowers in the center. I didn't want any real pattern with my flowers. I just wanted to make sure that there was either a purple or white flower in each section around the wreath. 

5. Add a little glue to the base of the flower. 
6. Begin placing the glued flowers around the wreath. You will cover some of the ribbon, but the ribbon is only working as added color. Work your way around the wreath. It helped me to also put the flowers in their place before I began gluing. That way if I didn't like the order, I could change it before I started gluing. 
7. Loop the ribbon through the wreath and tie a pretty bow on the ends. 
8. Hang the wreath. I used those little hooks the commercials talk about at Christmas (you know, the ones that can be removed and help you get your deposit back? Yeah, I use those to hang wreaths at my front door as well). 

And voila! Done! Here's what my finished product looks like: 

My ribbon was already cut from another project, so it was longer than 2 feet. This is what it looked like  hanging long. 

So I shortened the ribbon by tying a bigger bow. But I'm pretty happy with the way it looks. 

Happy Spring, everyone! May yours be pleasant and full of colorful fun! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Food: Starkist Bolder Burger...a "Meatless Monday" Meal

Every Monday, I try to make a Meatless Monday meal for my family. Not only does this help save us money from having to buy expensive meat for every day of the week, but it is healthier, gives us an opportunity to try new foods, and gives me an excuse to use the food I'm finally getting from my garden. And because I only do it once a week, my husband doesn't complain about it so much (like he did a few years ago when I gave up meat for Lent and tried to make a new vegetarian meal every night).

So when this past Monday came along, I was all ready to make black bean burgers for dinner, but I didn't have all the stuff I needed (namely black beans), and I didn't have to the time to make it to the store, but I did have tuna. Ok, I know. Tuna is a fish. Isn't that meat? I don't know. Joe and I have debated it. I have researched it. I have looked for the answer, and I get a legitimate amount of "yes" and "no" on whether fish is meat or not. My personal opinion? I think if you can keep it as a pet, name it, and have to feed and clean it, then it's meat...unless you have a pet rock, but that's a different story. :)

So anyway, I decided we would have a "kind of" Meatless Monday with Tuna Burgers. I don't not really like fish anything. I'm not a seafood (or fresh water food) kind of girl. I know! I live in Charleston, and I don't like seafood? What's wrong with me?! Sigh. My life story. :) Back to the burgers. StarKist has these little seasoned tuna packets that Joe and I love to take with us when we go backpacking. They are light, easy to eat out of, filling, and actually pretty good. On the back of one of the packets (Herb and Garlic Tuna) is a recipe for StarKist Bolder Burgers. I tried it one day, and actually really like it! This past Monday I did not have the Herb and Garlic tuna, so I had to adjust the meal just a little, but I want to share it with you.

Almost Starkist Bolder Burgers (original StarKist recipe found here)
 Makes 4 LARGE burgers or about 6 smaller burgers


  • 1 large can of StarKist Tuna (10 oz) 
  • 1 1/2  cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup non-fat ranch salad dressing (I have also used 1/2 plain yogurt too) 
  • 2 Tbsp spicy mustard
  • 1 Tbsp Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning 
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil 
  1. In a large bowl, mix tuna, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, dressing, mustard, seasoning, and egg. Go ahead, use your hands. 
  2. Form into patties. Place the rest of the bread crumbs on a plate. Coat each side of tuna patties with the crumbs. 
  3. Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat. They should cook about 3-5 minutes on each side until they are brown.  
Serve on french bread rolls. I like to have a side salad and some sort of steamed veggies to go with it. This meal makes a great lunch OR dinner. Really. It's filling. These would also be really good as mini-patties as an appetizer (oh my goodness! I just thought of that, and watch out, friends who come over for parties! I am going to do this for sure!).  If you suddenly have guests, this is also a really great meal to have ready in a bind. Most of these ingredients are found in most pantries anyway, so it's worth trying. 

Give these a shot. It only takes a few minutes to make (15 minutes TOPS), so it's a great go-to meal on those last minute days. Please check out the links below for information on Meatless Monday and other Meatless Monday meals I have tried. 
  1.  Meatless Monday
  2. Waffled Falafels
  3. Spinach and Feta-Stuffed Calzone
  4. Twice Baked Stuffed Potatoes  (this link has meat in it, but I made it a few Mondays ago with the ham, and it was still good, just add some more seasoning)
  5. Crockpot Pesto Fish (another fish recipe) 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Devotion: Being the Prodigal Son's Brother

"My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found." 

My middle child is, well, a typical middle child. He is full of energy, loud, doesn't always think things through, but is the most loving of all my children. And because of his constant need to move and laugh and in the center of all the action, he gets in trouble a lot at school. We have tried everything to encourage him to behave, and we are currently working on 4 different award/punishment projects: 

  • He gets an "apple" to go on his chore chart every day he doesn't get in trouble at school. Once he gets 5 apples, he can choose from an award list we have for chores (movie, family activity, get a dessert, get an allowance, pick 1 thing from the dollar store, etc). No matter how long it takes him, once he gets the 5, he gets an award. 
  • If he makes an entire week of school without getting in trouble, he gets to pick out a dessert at our favorite local bakery (Ever So Sweet). 
  • If he loses a BEE (what his teacher uses in his class...they are all Bees because that's the school's mascot), then he is grounded the rest of the day. 
  • And because there is a field trip coming up, and he has lost a bee almost every day for the past few weeks, if he loses 3 BEEs, he does not get to go on the field trip. It's a "3 strikes, you're out" type of deal...and it seems to be working best for him...so far. 
So last week, Jed made it the entire week without getting in trouble. Not only did he make it all week, but he earned his 5 apples. So he got to go to the bakery and he chose to pick out a movie for Friday night (kind of a tradition for us). And this is where God presented an opportunity for me to teach my son about rejoicing in other's accomplishments. 

My oldest son is normally the one to go to the movie store to pick out the Friday night movie, but since Jed earned that right, my oldest had to stay at home with me while the hubs and Jed left. As they pulled out of the driveway, my oldest tearfully stared out the window mumbling, "It's not fair. It's just not fair!" When I asked him what was wrong he told me that he didn't think it was fair that Jed got to pick out a movie, but he didn't. I told him it was Jed's reward for being good at school. "But mama!" he said said tearfully, "I'm always good at school! Why don't I ever get rewarded?!" 


All you first-borns, or "more mature" siblings can totally relate, right? Why is it that the "bad" sibling gets rewarded for something that you always do? I instantly thought of the older brother in the story of the Prodigal son (Luke 15: 11-32). After the "bad" sibling took his father's money, ditched the family business, and quickly wasted all the money, he came crawling back to daddy...only to be received openly and was given a HUGE party. The older son, who responsibly stayed with the family business, and had always done what was right, got upset. Every time I read this story, I say "I know, right?! It's not fair!" right alongside the older brother. I always got frustrated with this part of the story. Even after teaching this Parable in Sunday School, when I got to this part, I summarized it by saying, "We should just be happy for others who have suddenly realized they behavior was unacceptable." It didn't hit home God's truth until I was staring at my handsome oldest child as his eyes filled with tears. 

And this is how the conversation went: 

I reviewed the story of the Prodigal Son with him. Then I asked him, "When you first started going potty in the toilet, what did mom and dad do?" 
He answered, "You gave me prizes." 
"Yes! But do I still give you prizes?" 
"Why?" I asked. 
"Because I know how to do it now." 
"Yup. But when Abigail was learning how to go potty in the toilet, did we give her prizes, too?" 
"Yes ma'am." 
"Did we start giving you and Jed prizes again for going in the potty?" 
"No ma'am."
"And that's because you already learned to do what was right, and it became habit. It became part of your life; it was just what you did." 

Realization began to dawn. 

"And just recently, what is something you have learned to do?" 
"Ride a bike," he said. 
"Could Jed learn how to ride right now as well?"
"Yes ma'am."
"But we aren't letting him learn right now because we are making this all about you. We are letting you learn first, and are rewarding you for doing so well on the bike. And once you get it down like it's second nature, you will learn new things to get rewarded for, and you will no longer get rewarded for learning how to ride a bike." 
His face clearly showed he was starting to understand. 
"So what does that mean for Jed right now? What does mom and dad, and most importantly, God want us to learn from this?" 
"That I should be happy for Jed that he is learning how to behave at school?" 

Just like the father in the story was trying to tell his oldest son to be happy that his younger brother finally learned the right way to live, we should be happy for the little accomplishment for those around us. We need to rejoice with them; be happy when they learn a new concept that we got down a long time ago. 

This whole situation was not only a moment God gave me to help console my oldest son, but it was also a moment God gave me to understand that part of the story that I have struggled with most of my life. I must remember to love others as God loves me. I should be happy when others are getting rewarded for something that just comes natural to me. My love and support for my friends is just another way God loves others through me. I pray that in the future I reflect that love more often. 

Photo Credit 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Curriculum: Holy Week (Easter) Activities

I'm a teacher. I plan things. And ever since I became a SAHM, I have been able to use my 10 years of experience to supplement my children's education at home. So when a big holiday comes around, it's no wonder I get into "teacher-mode" and begin planning. Last year, my first Easter not teaching, I started kind of planning a Holy Week Activity Week. At the time, I realized that what I was doing was fine, but I knew that future Easters were going to be different, more detailed, and with more specific activities.

So starting about a month ago, I started researching different activities, traditions (Christian and Jewish), and recipes. Then about two weeks ago, I sat down with a bunch of printer paper and began making my curriculum guide (or pacing guide). All you teachers out there know exactly what I'm talking about, right? That BIG OL' document that pretty much sets up an entire unit. I have printed it and put it in a nice little folder, and will be doing the same for some members of my church family, and also some close friends. I want to share the basics with all of you. The copies I am making has a printout of all the activities, recipes, and songs, but if you are making your own, I am providing a copy of the resources I used so you could also make your own notebook.

Here's a sneak peek at a few of the pages:
I turned the picture here so you wouldn't have to turn your head to read what was in the folder. :) 

Here's a copy of the Intro I put in the booklet:

This Holy Week Activity Booklet is a resource for you, your family, and your church family  to use to help children get a better understanding of why we celebrate Easter. Each day takes a step closer to Jesus’s death and resurrection through activities, lessons, and food. You do not have to do every activity in the booklet, and most of the activities can be adjusted for different ages. Please utilize the resources at the end of the booklet for more information or a deeper explanation.

The Setup

The first three pages are an overview of the lessons available. Each day has at least one set of scripture, at least one activity, but not all days have a recipe. Some days have a recipe preparation for food to be enjoyed later in the week.

After the overview pages, the booklet is then separated into each day of Holy Week. There will be a printout of worksheets, activities, recipes, etc you are welcome to use. Again, use the resources if you would like to make more copies or get more details.

NOTE: If there is more than one set of scripture on the first overview page, the activities and recipes on the following pages have the same number. For example, Wednesday has 3 different scripture options. So if you decide you want to cover The Passover and The Lord’s Supper (scripture #2), then on the activity and recipe pages, the activities to match that scripture will be #2. This gives you the option to do more than one scripture, or save a set of scripture for another year or when you feel your child is ready for that section.

So that's pretty much it. Check out the documents below for details. I would also recommend you laminate the games and activities so they will last and visit the resources. There really is a lot of stuff you can do for Holy Week that will teach your children the true meaning behind this incredible week!

May God Bless you and your family as you go through this Booklet and especially through this season. What a wonderful God we serve!

Holy Week Activities

UPDATE: I have never posted a PDF file on my page, and am still trying to figure it out. My AWESOME friend, Kristin, over at Kinder Words, helped me out. If it still doesn't work, and if you would like the Holy Week Booklet, please email me at: janasjustmakinit@gmail.com

I will be sure to get you the files. Thanks a bunch, yall!  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Review: Eva's Restaurant, Summerville, SC

Tucked in between a theatre and a cupcake store is a little restaurant that has been a part of Summerville for almost 7 decades. Stepping in the door is like stepping back in time. It's a place that so many Summerville residents have seen, but not so many have gone in. Why? Well, they run the restaurant just like it has been going since 1944. There's no fancy foods on the menu, they take cash only, and they are open for breakfast and lunch only. Until recently, the last two of those kept me from venturing further than the occasional peek inside the window.

So on a whim a few weeks ago, my husband, who was taking the day off work, my daughter, and I decided to hit the ATM and then get breakfast at Eva's. When I walked in, I immediately thought of my grandmother. Seriously. And not because there were mostly senior citizens in there, but because the atmosphere just reminded me of grandma. It was the type of place of time gone by that I wanted to expose my children to. They needed to learn there was a time where TVs aren't on the walls of a restaurant, there are no "kiddie" menus, and everyone in the restaurant talked to everyone else, including the occasional shout to the kitchen. That was when I decided I was going to become "a regular" at Eva's (pronounced 'E-Vuh's, as I found out. This is not the Eva like the Longoria on TV).

So I called my friend, Janet, and proposed a sort of breakfast club for us girls, Abigail and me with Janet and her twin girls. We decided every other Friday at 9 am, we would going to start making our appearance. This is where we truly learned how old fashioned Eva's really was.

Janet rolls in with her 18 month twins, and she and I scan the restaurant for high chairs or even a booster seat. There is one (1) high chair and two booster seats. Janet asked if the booster has a seat belt. I unintentionally ruffled some feathers when I said, "No. They're the old fashioned kind without seat belts." The waitress, a sassy 60 something year old, who knew all the other customers by name, regular order, and family history, looked at me and informed me about how "old fashioned" Eva's was. She jokingly told us two stories: 1) Someone asked for mushrooms in her eggs. She said, "Mushrooms?! Honey, we don't serve omelettes here." and 2) Someone once asked for cocktail sauce to which she replied, "Cocktail sauce?! They didn't have cocktail sauce back in 1944, why would we have it now?" So we knew our place. Order what's on the menu.

So, laughingly, we ordered eggs, pancakes, grits (the twins' first try; one liked them, the other didn't), and coffee. But there was a glitch with the coffee. They don't have decaf...well, sort of. They have Sanko packets that we were welcome to use. So, caffeinated it was. We enjoyed the rest of the meal with good conversation. The table of 8 regulars that sat at the front of the restaurant came to ooh and ahh over our girls, and I learned that most of the other local shop owners in downtown Summerville ate there on a regular basis. Who knew?

So overall review:

Food: Good. Seriously just like grandma used to make. The lunch, which I haven't tried yet, is a "meat and 3" menu for $7.95. There are other options on the menu that are less heavy and all around $5.

Atmosphere: Love it! It really reminded me of my grandma's house, and I could easily see my granddaddy meeting his friends there every morning for coffee and pancakes.

Prices: Expensive for 1944's taste, but really on the reasonable side for today's standards. You get more than you are paying for.

Service: Once you understand that the waitress is a fun, talkative lady, you are good to go. I think if you aren't expecting to have someone ask about your family and life story, you might be taken back. Otherwise, it was great!

They are only open Monday-Friday from 7am to 3 pm. It would be a great Saturday morning breakfast place, but I think that them being open M-F is part of the charm.

If you get the chance, grab some cash and come enjoy Eva's Restaurant. You won't regret it.

Photo Credit

Our Little Breakfast Club

Devotion: There Will Be a Time

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the sun." Ecclesiastes 3:1

My oldest son got up at 10 o'clock at night to come into the living room with "something important" to tell me. He was supposed to be asleep, and he was interrupting a conversation my husband and I were having. As he leaned toward me with his mouth open, I thought, "What in the world does this child need to tell me?!" With his mouth open, he awkwardly said, "Wiggle my tooth!" (which sounded more like "iggle eye oohh).  He had been working on a tooth for a few days, and I thought maybe this one was finally about to give it up. So I reached into his mouth (if you are a mom of boys, you know the sacrifice and danger I was putting myself into) to wiggle his tooth. And nothing. It barely moved. And in my finest mothering moment, I told him it wasn't moving; it hadn't moved any more than it was moving earlier, and that he needed to just keep working at it. I then sent him to bed.

About 30 minutes later, I went to his room to check on him before I went to bed. And instead of an angelically sleeping child, I found a sniffling 6 year old. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me he was upset by what I told him about his tooth. A crack in my Super Mommy Armor could be heard for miles. Instead of encouraging my son in a moment of excitement for him, I let my frustrations get a hold of me, and I hurt his feelings.

A rush of memories flooded my head of all the times I was excited about something that I wasn't quite ready for yet. I remember conversations my parents had with me about not dating until I was 16; about having my first boy/girl party after years of girly sleepovers; about meeting the man of my dreams; about my first teaching experience, and the list went on and on. Then Ecclesiastes popped in my head. All of those times, and so many more, I was excited about something that I wasn't ready for. I remember having the same sadness my son was feeling when I was told "Not yet" by my parents, my friends, my professors, my God. Those times I rushed the "due date", I found that they were right. I should have waited. The other times I waited (not always patiently), I was rewarded with incredible results.

 "Son," I said. "There is a time for everything." I then explained to him that if he forced that tooth loose too early, it could have adverse effects. God knew what he was doing by planning when each of them would come out. He just needed to keep working on the tooth and to be patient. It would come when it was ready, and he would soon be rewarded by a handsome adult tooth soon after.

See how awesome God is? Instead of dealing with me in frustration with the way that I initially handled my son, he gently reminded me that I, too, had moments where I wanted to rush things; where I wanted things to happen before they were ready. Ecclesiastes goes on to explain there is a time for healing, planting, building, laughing, crying, dancing, to be silent, and to speak. There simply is just a time for everything. If you try to rush the due date, you are only going to be more frustrated. Be patient and wiggle that tooth. Get yourself prepared for the moment when what you want actually happens. God is faithful in his promises and knows the perfect time for everything.

Photo Credit 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wednesday's Cleaning: Make Your Own Cold Remedy

I didn't have a desperate need for any cleaning products this week, but what I did need was a recipe for a cold remedy. The weather outside is beautiful. It's a cool ~65 degrees, sunny, and just pleasant. And despite the fact I have been taking my bee pollen and other vitamins regularly, and I've been drinking plenty of water, spending a few hours outside working in the garden for the past few days opened me up to catching a spring cold. I normally resort to taking a clariton, drinking hot mint tea, and sucking down some local honey like it's nobody's business the moment a cold strikes, but this one hit me in the middle of the night. My throat was instantly dry, scratchy, and just painful. I am going on vacation with my husband in the near future, and I didn't want a silly cold to keep me bundled up in the hotel room, so I began looking for some natural cold remedies to try.

I found one that I had not heard of before: tumeric milk, or Haldi milk. Now before I go and just mix a bunch of spices together and throw in my body, I did a little research on this so-called homemade cold remedy. I found some interesting things:

1. Tumeric apparently has "healing powers". One guy, Arun Shanbhag, on his blog, talked about how he remembers his mother and grandmother using tumeric for all kinds of things, including cuts. He said scientists are linking tumeric to have the same qualities as tylenol.

2. Another site, Eat This!, claims that scientists are now linking tumeric to curing or aiding in the cure of breast cancer.

3. Remedy Quarterly, an online journal, also claims Tumeric milk is a great way to cure a sore throat.

I found quite a few other sites that pretty much say the same thing, so I thought I would give it a shot. The ingredients are simple, already in my pantry, and I was ready to try anything. Here's the recipe (found, pretty much, across the board in all my research) and please read my review at the end before you try this.

Tumeric Milk

Things You'll Need:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp crushed ginger
  • 2 black peppercorns
  • ground cinnamon
  • honey or other natural sweetener
  1. Boil the milk to a boil and add the spices. Bring down to a simmer for about 10 minutes. 
  2. Pour into a mug and add a sweetener.
  3. Drink before you go to bed. 
It's really that simple. Some recipes called for actual ginger to be crushed, others said it was fine to use the ginger powder. All said to include the pepper. Matter of fact, they said it was important to have the pepper because it helps the tumeric to release the "healing agents". 

This is what it looks like simmering. Just like any time you cook milk, it can burn easily, so keep stirring. 

My evening buddies 


  • Okay, first off, there is a reason why all the recipes called for sweetener. It is bitter. Oh man. It surprised me. At first it had the pleasant taste of chai tea. I was all excited to have a new drink, but then seconds later, it hit me with a great big, ew. 
Yeah, this was pretty much my face the entire time I drank it. 
  • Did it work? Well, I can tell you, I don't know if it's because I drank warm milk before bed, or if there is a reason you are supposed to drink this before bed, but I was seriously sleepy about 15 minutes after drinking it. And when I went to sleep, I slept hard, for about 4 hours. My dreams were crazy and vivid. I don't know if those dreams had anything to do with the drink or with the book I'm reading, but they were crazy. 
  • When I woke up this morning, my throat still hurt. Not as much, but it still hurt. I ended up making me a cup of hot mint tea, and I feel all kinds of better now. 
Now, I have a crazy amount of friends who are into doing everything natural. If you are one of those, and you have tried this recipe for a cold before, please respond to this post. Did I do it wrong? Do I need to drink it a couple of times before it works? Am I way off? 

As for me, I'm not sure I would try this again anytime soon, unless someone can make a good argument why I should. Otherwise, I'm sticking to my mint tea remedy. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tuesday's Food: Beignets and Green Eggs and Ham

So February was full of holidays, and at our house, we love to celebrate, well, anything. If it's worth celebrating, chances are we are going to have a little party for it. Two major events happened right at the end of February, that I was doing a lot of research on recipes and cooking up things I haven't quite made before. The two (that's right, I said two) recipes I am going to share today are things I have tried to make before, but not quite like this. I wanted to make sure I had these in my list for next year. So enjoy.

First up is Beignets. Almost 10 years ago, my husband and I were introduced to these yummy, doughnut-like desserts, when we honeymooned in New Orleans. We came back with boxes of the mix and made them quite often for the first two years of our marriage. But they were never quite like what we had at Cafe Du Monde. I could never get them to puff up. So this year I searched for a "made-from-scratch" recipe that I wanted to use for our "Mardi Gras"-themed dinner party. They turned out just like the delicious awesomeness of Cafe Du Monde's. So I'm going to share the recipe I found on Teresa Taylor's article "Mardi Gras Month Perfect Time for Beignets."  NOTE: I am going to pretty much copy her recipe on here, but I will add my review at the end and let you know of any changes I made to the recipe. AND prepare this the day before or begin this in the morning of the evening you are going to cook these. They will need at least 5 hours before you can begin cooking. 


What You'll Need: 

  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 7 cups all purpose flour, sifted 
  • At least 2 quarts of vegetable oil
  • Powdered sugar
  1. In a stand mixer, combine yeast, water, 1 tsp of sugar, and a pinch of salt. Let sit until foamy (about 5-10 minutes) 
  2. While it was foaming, I went ahead and combined this next group and added when ready. I don't like to just sit around and wait. Add remaining sugar and salt, eggs, milk, and evaporated milk. Mix well. Add shortening and mix well. 
  3. Add 3 cups of the flour and mix well. Slowly add the remaining flour until dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and l eave to rise double in a warm place (generally an hour) 
  4. After rising, punch dough down, remove from bowl, and place in a greased container, allowing room for dough to expand 2-3 times. Please make sure you find a big enough bowl. This will get BIG. Cover loosely and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight 
  5. When ready to use, heat fryer or deep skillet full of oil to 350 degrees. 
  6. Turn out dough onto well-floured counter or cutting board. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. Make sure it's as close to this as possible. 
  7. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 3-inch squares. Drop a few at a time into hot oil. Turn once when bottom browns and brown the other side (this really only takes a few minutes on each side) 
  8. Remove and drain on paper towels. 
  9. This is the KEY to a great beignet: Dump a bunch of powdered sugar on top of the beignet before you eat it. Seriously, at Cafe Du Monde, there's at least 2 inches of powdered sugar on top. 
This recipe was GREAT! As I said before, I have made quite a few batches in the past, but this batch, for some reason, just worked perfect! I made a whole bunch and had plenty to freeze for future parties. They tasted just like New Orleans. You MUST try this, whether it is Mardi Gras or not. :) 

My little Mardi Gras helper. She was helping me make the beignets

Here's one that didn't quite pop up, but was just as yummy. 
Sassy enjoying her own beignet 

Second recipe is Green Eggs and Ham....in the crockpot. I love that my children's school celebrates Reading Across America week and Dr. Seuss's birthday each year. They had a great time dressing up, rhyming, crafting their way to a world of wonder and joy. Go to my post on Thing 1 and Thing 2 Puppets for ideas and links to Reading Across America. So in the light of Dr. Seuss's birthday, I made my kids some green eggs and ham in the crockpot. It was ready the next morning and OH SO GOOD! 

Crockpot Green Eggs and Ham

What You'll Need: 
  • Cooking spray
  • 10 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • Three medium potatoes, diced 
  • 1 package of bacon (I know it's not ham, but bacon is still pig, and it was cheaper.) 
  • Green and BLUE food coloring
  • Salt and Pepper
  • WHITE cheddar cheese, shredded 
  1. Bake bacon according to directions. Once cooked, chop into pieces. 
  2. Spray crockpot with cooking spray
  3. In a large bowl mix together eggs, milk, cut up potatoes, and bacon. Make sure it is mixed WELL and all eggs are beaten. 
  4. Add green food coloring. And then add a few drops of blue. In my experience of making green eggs (for St. Patrick's day last year), if you don't add the blue, the green is going to be more of a yellow-green. My 7th grade art teacher who told me I was no good at art would be proud of how I knew to add some blue food coloring to make it mixes with the yellow of the egg yolk to make sure my eggs are good and green. 
  5. Add a little salt and pepper. It will already be salty because of the bacon. So don't overdo it. 
  6. Bake on HIGH for 2 1/2 - 3 hours or LOW 5-6 hours. I put started mine at 11 pm to be ready at 6 am. My crockpot goes into "warm mode" once it has reached its time limit. So, if your's doesn't, you might want to get up and check on it. 
  7. When serving, add a little white cheddar cheese. You could add it before cooking, but then I wouldn't add any salt. I've done it both ways, and it's turned out fine. 
And YUM! For real, this stuff was good. Once the kids realize it's just green regular food, they will dive right in. My oldest even took some to school for lunch. :) 

Crockpot Green Eggs and Ham. Look at that color! SO GREEN! 
The boys wanted to act out Green Eggs and Ham. J said, "I will not eat..." and Jed said "Yes, I will eat!" 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Devotion: The Golden Rule

"Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:31

The Golden Rule. I was raised with it. I don't know if it is a Southern thing, or if it taught to little ones all over, but I know that the phrase "Treat others as you would like to be treated" was a common saying in my childhood. Mostly it was preached to girls who just have a hard time getting along (so much girl drama!) with other girls or when someone was faced with a bully, but really, it is so very important!

Look at how Jesus reacted to those around him. He was constantly stressing the importance of accepting the "unacceptable". He made friends with the most unlikely people because he loved them. And if you have ever been "ousted" for any reason, wouldn't you have liked someone to reach out and love you?

Just recently I was reminded of this Golden Rule in 3 different ways, and I wanted to share them with you.

1. My hubs and I are beginning a new series in the Youth Sunday School class we lead on apologetics (we are using this book if you are interested) . As we were explaining the definition of Apologetics, and how important it is to show Christ through our lives, we talked about some of the different ways to tell others about God. We explained how you could use logic, emotion, or just plain old actions.  Joe and I gave examples from our own lives of how we have tried to share the Lord with others using each of those. Suddenly I was reminded of how Christians' actions can actually deter people from the Lord. I recently came across an article that was a plea to Christian restaurant-goers. Sundays after church is the perfect time to show God's love to others. You are still in your church clothes, and the glory of the Lord's message should still be fresh in your minds, but as you enter a restaurant, do you represent the Lord in a way that would reflect Him? If you had to work Sundays, would you want people to treat you the way you have treated the servers? The hour or so you are in there can really make a difference.

2. THEN after church, after we were going over this lesson with the youth, Joe and I decided to go out to eat. We almost never go out to eat on Sundays. I normally just cook from home, but we had had a busy weekend, and Joe was nice enough to give me a break. So off to Applebee's we went. As we walked in there was a mixture of obvious "fresh-from-church" people and those who may not go to church. Joe and I make an effort to teach our children to treat the servers and hostess with respect. They are expected to use their manners, clean up their messes, learn how to tip well, and to thank the staff before we leave. Unfortunately, the table next to us had a different idea on how to treat those who worked there. There was an older woman, who, from what I could gather, was a teacher, her son, and her son's girlfriend. I felt sorry for our server as he worked hard to please that particular table. They were rude, demanding, and didn't make any effort to make things any easier on the waiter as they left their tip in a handful of coins they dug from their pockets and purses. I was mortified as I watched them laugh at another waiter, who had their food and was delivering it for their waiter, wander around looking for the right table. He walked past them 3 times trying to find the right table, and they never once said anything although they knew that was their food. I heard the woman say, "Huh. Look at him walking around with all those trays. He doesn't even know that is our food. Watch him go back to the kitchen with our food." They never said anything to the poor guy, and then they complained about a tomato on a hamburger that they could have easily taken off, but, instead, asked the entire plate be taken back to the kitchen for the tomato to be removed. Seeing that made me want to do whatever I could to make that poor guy's day just a little better, and to set a better example for our children. Just because they are serving you doesn't mean you have to treat them like servants.

3. My last example of how God reminded me about the Golden Rule was through a fictional novel I just finished reading. In She Makes It Look Easy, by Marybeth Whalen, the two main characters were women in a fancy, smancy neighborhood. One had been there a long time and had established herself as the organizational guru of the neighborhood. The other woman just moved into the neighborhood and was just trying to get her life in order. To be brief in my explanation, the situations those ladies, and some of the other ladies, end up in reminded me that no one truly knows what is going on in someone else's life. So when you exclude someone (purposely or not), say something not-so-nice about others, or when you are just plain old rude to someone else, you are not following The Golden Rule.

All of this to say that God must really have someone in  mind for me to treat better than I have. I was convicted of this triple reminder that we need to love on others. We need to really represent the Lord in a way that will glorify  him. As I assess the way I treat others, and focus on who I need to make amends with, I challenge you to do the same.

And in the light of all of this, if you have not read my post and comments "No One Talks about It!", I would ask that you, especially the ladies, check it out. I would like to start a new series where women help each other out by giving tips on what to say/do and not say/do to other women who are dealing with difficult situations. I know that there were times in my life that I had wished there was someone who would just attempt to help me deal with a situation. I know others feel the same way. So please check it out and email me your suggestions. I would really appreciate it. I hope this will help you to remember to treat each other with love and to work on The Golden Rule every day.

Photo Credit

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday's Reviews: February's NYR Progress

Oh. Ugh. That's right. I am supposed to give an update on my New Year's Resolutions. January was a good kick off. I did decently, but promised to do better in February. And I did! ...at first. Then life happened. I am actually really glad I have decided to review these every month. It helps me make each NYR a NMR (New MONTH Resolution). I assess how well I've done, I see where I have slacked off, and then make a promise to work really hard for the next month to do better.

So below is the list of my NYR (see link above for the original post). See how well, or not so well, I've done.

  1. Do a devotion EVERY DAY. I've actually done a pretty decent job with this one. Thanks to the help of my app YouVersion Bible, I have 3 devotions that get sent to my phone and email each day, on top of what I already do. Some days I do more than one, some days I get just one in. 
  2. Organize daily schedule. Eh. The last two weeks, I was ON IT!! Before that? Not so much
  3. Take a break from Facebook one full day a week. I have done this EVERY Sunday! Yay! 
  4. Walk every Wednesday and Friday. Ok, if I didn't walk, I DID do SOME exercise. So this is almost marked off. 
  5. Bake bread at least once a week. Although I did not always make the bread I set out to do each week, I did make some. 
  6. Go to New Orleans. In the plans, money is being saved! Yay! 
  7. Go down one dress size. No. And it's getting really frustrating. 
  8. Meatless Mondays. Every Monday! It has been fun introducing new ideas to the family! 
  9. Speak softer to my children. Funny. As I was typing for Meatless Monday, I stopped to yell at my kids. Ugh. Still working on this! 
  10. Be more obvious in my love for my husband. I think so. I think I've done a pretty good job at this! 
  11. Make freezer meals at the beginning of each month. STILL not yet. 
  12. Go to lunch with my mom once a month. This month's lunch date got cancelled due to a flat tire. Can't blame ME for that, can you? 
  13. Pay off a major debt. NO comment 
  14. Clean/organize the pantry room. This is almost a daily task. 
  15. Clean/organize the craft room.  I actually could make it to my Ab Roller machine, or whatever it's called 
  16. Have the youth over Well, sort of. I had a party for the youth, but only 1 could make it. So...April? 
  17. Have the college kids over. Planning something for March. 
  18. Make a new friend (not an acquaintance, but a friend) I am definitely making acquaintances more important. 
  19. Stick to chore schedule. Eh. doing okay with this. Some days we miss, so we double (or triple) the next day. 
  20. Stick to reward/consequences chart. Nope. And I'm not happy about this. 
  21. Have family worship once a week. We did it one Friday. All the rest of the Fridays have been busy for some reason. I will make it a priority this month. 
  22. Take the kids to volunteer at a homeless shelter
  23. Visit Connie Maxwell
  24. Find a new hobby. I've narrowed the possibilities down (painting or relearning sign language or French) 
  25. Have one sewing project a month. I never made it to upholstering the kitchen chairs like I wanted, but I got the stuff to make mine and Abi's Easter dresses 
  26. Promote a local business on my blog once a month. Done! See here
  27. Get a family photo done (professionally). Found a Groupon for this!! 
  28. Go to the dentist
  29. Have a date with the husband once a month. :) He is super excited about these. 
  30. Try a new, exotic food
  31. Have a successful garden I pulled, cleaned and bagged 8 quarts of collards! 
  32. Read a non-fiction book 
  33. Go to bed with a clean kitchen More days than not, this has happened! 
  34. Recycle Every Thursday. 

So as I review these each month, I hope this inspires you to review what your Resolutions where. How have you been doing? What is keeping you from meeting your goal? Each month is a new month to try again. 

Happy Friday, everyone! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

No One Talks about It! A Commentary on Women's Issues

Just recently, a friend of mine and I went on our second "Just Girls" date. We left our little ones with our husbands and grabbed a bite to eat some place local. It was a great way for us to just talk without the distractions of our kids, and yes, even our husbands. What I love about this particular friend is that she holds nothing back. There really is no subject I can't talk about with her, so when it's just the two of us, we pour out our hearts, frustrations, excitements, and concerns.

As most mothers do, our conversations turned towards our children, the ones we have the pleasure of raising, and the ones that God brought home before we had a chance to meet them. She talked, in detail, about her first pregnancy, which ended in a miscarriage. She talked about her emotions, her expectations, her disappointments, and how her husband reacted (immediately and then again a few months later). We talked about how women handle miscarriages so differently, and I told her how much we had wanted to be there for her and her husband, but wasn't sure if we were needed.

I talked about my post-postpartum depression. I talked about how incredibly scary it was for me, how I didn't know how to handle my emotions, and how the other women in my life either didn't know how to handle my incessant crying because they didn't experience post-postpartum depression or how they fumbled their way through trying to help me. She expressed her regret in not knowing about my depression and how far it pushed me to want to have nothing to do with my newborn. She kept saying, "If only I knew, Jana. I'm so sorry  you had to go through that."

What we both came to realize is that women just do not talk about these things. It almost seems to be a secret that most women experience, but are too afraid to discuss. We women are designed to be social. We don't hesitate to talk about our children, our husbands, recipes, creative ideas, etc, but we stop short when it comes to talking about the "deep" stuff. Women are so very emotional. We are supposed to be! So why is it when it comes to miscarriages, postpartum depression, or dealing with losing a child later in life we clam up? Why aren't we talking about how we feel? Why aren't we banding together to form a support group around our female friends? Why is it we make ourselves scarce when our lady friends go through such tough issues?

That was not a rhetorical question. I mean it. Why?

I know one thing that Joe and I learned from my experiences was to be supportive to women who have just had a baby. Joe takes it upon himself (aren't I lucky?!) to talk to the husbands. He encourages them to be encouraging to their wives, even if the wives seem fine. I have heard him ask his guy friends "How is _____ doing? Emotionally? Just make sure you make yourself available for her emotionally." On my side, I have decided to make sure I check on the emotional well-being of my new-mom (whether it's the 1st or 8th child) friends. I let them know if they need to talk or cry over, well, whatever, they can. And that they are not alone.

What have you learned? What are your experiences? If you have been lucky enough to go to full-term and not experience any postpartum anything, what else have you experienced that you would hate other women to go through? What have you learned from your experiences?

I challenge you to share your experiences, whether it is here, with a friend, or a fellow sister. Women need each other. We shouldn't go through struggles alone. Never. 

Photo Credit 
And that's my two cents. :)

Crafting: Thing 1 and Thing 2....puppets?

When our kids started getting close to the age when they go to school, we decided to move to an area where the schools were good schools. And it paid off! I have the honor to work first hand with the teachers at my kids' school. We have been blessed with some incredible teachers: Mrs. H and Mr. F, Mrs. G and Mrs. M, and the very creative and very energetic Mrs. R. I am currently serving as room mom in Mrs. R's class and am so impressed with her teaching style. So when she asked me to help her with a project for her class this week, I was so excited to be a part of it!

If you didn't already know, this week is Read Across America week. The school is celebrating this week with so many activities (I'm wearing my crazy socks as I type) in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday on March 2nd. Mrs. R asked me to come in Monday morning to help the children make Thing 1 and Thing 2 (or whatever number they are in the class). Let me tell you, this was FUN! and easy. So very easy to do, and I'm going to have my kids do them at home as well and make puppets out of them to re-enact Dr. Seuss books. So here's how to make them:

Making Thing 1 and Thing 2

What You'll Need:

  • White construction paper (1 sheet per kid and/or character) *see note
  • Finger paint or washable paint in white, red, and blue
  • A sponge paint brush 
  • A black or blue permanent marker
  • A laminating sheet (enough for each character) 
  • A popsicle stick (for each character)
  • Hot glue gun and glue 
  1. On the left hand** paint the fingers blue and the palm white. With their fingers slightly apart, help the child firmly press her hand down at the top of the page. Pull the hand straight up so the handprint does not smudge. This will be the face (the palm) and the hair (the fingers). 
  2. On the right hand, paint the palm white and all the finger except the middle finger red. With the palm almost touching the already printed palm, and the fingers spread W-I-D-E, help the child firmly press her hand down on the page. Pull the hand straight up so the handprint does not smudge. This will be the body (the palm) and the arms and legs (the fingers). 
  3. At this point, assess the character. Did the palm not get completely printed? Take the sponge paint brush and fill in the blanks just a little. It should look like this: 

      4. Once dry, which should only take a few minutes, have the children draw, using the permanent marker,  the face of their character in the top white spot and decorate the shirt on the bottom white spot. Because this is for Thing 1 or Thing 2, the students wrote "Thing ____" (whatever their class # is) in the bottom white spot. 

     5. Laminate the sheets. This is as far as Mrs. R got in her class. I think she is going to post them around the room. I am suggesting you take it a step further if you are doing this at home. So...
     6. Using the hot glue gun, the adult will need to glue the popsicle stick to the back of the character. This should only take a few seconds to dry. 

These little guys turned out great! I love any kid-craft with handprints on them, so this is right up my alley! It was fun and easy to make, and I had a blast helping all the kids put these together. You could really do this with any type of character. Paint their palms like little shirts and their hair crazy colors. It doesn't have to be just Thing 1 and Thing 2 style. Be creative and let your (and your kids') juices flow!

*If you notice in the picture the hair turned out green? Although it was a fun quick mini-lesson in art for the kids while I was helping them, we were aiming for blue and not green. Hence the reason I suggest white paint. BUT if you still want to use the yellow construction paper (to make the colors POP), you may need to use an acrylic paint instead. Those don't bleed as easily, but are a little harder to wash off.

** You don't HAVE to paint the left hand and the right hand those specific ways. I just want to make sure you know one hand is for the body and one hand is for the head. Switch it up if it's easier for you! :)

More on Read Across America Week:
1. Seussville
2. Read Across America
3. Dr. Seuss Games and ideas 
4. Other ideas for Read Across America