Friday, November 30, 2007

Advent Calendar

A couple of you asked to see my advent calendar so, with some hesitation on my part, here it is. : ) I will admit, it did not turn out as cute as I wanted, but, as I told Stephanie, it was free and easy and those can be important perks at times to a mama of three.

DSC_6299

I had actually seen a cute idea for an advent chain-thing hung across a mantle, but we really don't have a mantel per se. I thought it would be a cute idea to have socks hung for each member of the family ... and our girls don't have enough socks for me to use just theirs. (Yes, we could use some socks in our stockings this year!) : )

The end result is that I have 24 socks up there, one for each day from December 1 - 24. Because I don't trust the 4 year old - I sense that she has inquisitive fingers like someone else in this family *looks around innocently* - I'll put the day's event / scripture reading / idea, etc. in one and a time. For those that were looking for some other homespun advent calendar ideas, these are two others that I found that I contemplated doing:
  • Advent Wreath from By Sun and Candlelight - I love, love, love the simplicity of this one. I may try this one next year.
  • Advent Boxes by Ali Edwards - I really wanted to do this, but couldn't justify the cost of the boxes and supplies I would need (and the time to paint and make) this year.

I made a page in my planner/journal several weeks ago and have been making lists and lists of things that we are going to try and do this December ... if we don't do all of these, that's okay. But I have a game-plan of sorts and I do so much better with one rather than waking up and coming up with an idea right then. That just doesn't work for me. : ) And, of course, as others share of their advent ideas I'm thinking of things to borrow and maybe add for next year! Some of our activities are going to be:

  • going to our local, small town, Christmas parade
  • making a button tree
  • watching A Charlie Brown Christmas and eating popcorn
  • make applesauce ornaments
  • bake and decorate cookies
  • have a picnic dinner inside in front of the tree
  • a trip to the zoo (weather dependant)
  • candy cane ornaments
  • make pretzel hugs
  • drive around and look at Christmas lights
  • watch The Polar Express and make popcorn
  • tea party
  • go to the mall and see Santa (probably won't do pictures as I don't think my girls are brave enough, but we may go check him out) : )
  • participate in the Christmas program at church

Off to start our day ... we have a trip to Walmart in the future. (Completely out of detergent and since the laundry never stops around here, it's is a necessary trip!) : )

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Tree


The Tree
Originally uploaded by stephaniedshepherd

~ We're home from travels.
~ We put up the Christmas tree last night.
~ Today's project is creating our advent calendar to hang on the wall.
~ Hope all had a good Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

TTFN ~ Ta Ta For Now

Signing off on what is going to be a busy week ... we're are spending time with family we don't see very often this year and the laptop will be turned off for several days as of Wednesday.

I'm also contemplated a little bloggy break in December ... I'm tired and cranky and ... just tired. I'm dragging in lots of areas and have been stepping back in several different directions to try and regroup and simplify.

I'm going to be participating in Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas class again this year (my last year's album is here) and want to focus some extra attention on journalling through that in my spare time. Contemplating a photo-a-day type approach that may or may not make it to ye old blog every day, but we'll see. : )

Anyway, have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone! May you and your family experience joy and blessing as you celebrate what God has done for you!

30 Minute Thursday - 11.15



This week's challenge was to use a pre-printed embellishmet (something with a word or phrase). This is going to be the left side of a two page layout documenting Elizabeth's third month. I had these pictures sitting on my desk and rather than leaving them there to get torn-up by the other two girls, I went ahead and scrapped them, leaving space in my album on the right for the other page (once those pictures are printed).

I liked how this turned out, and even used computer journalling which is not my norm.

I Love You More Book Winners!

Congratulations to Stephanie, Nancy & Tami (email @ normalonline.com)! If you didn't win, I highly recommend this book ... I've already got it in my Amazon.com shopping cart to buy for my nephew for Christmas.

Stephanie and Tami, if you will email me your address (stephanieshepherdATgmailDOTcom), I'll get these ready to head out to you. (Nancy, I've got yours.) : )

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Felicities - 11.16

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Things that make you happy. From the mind of Nattie Rose.

  • Sonic Route 44 Diet Cokes
  • bouncy babies
  • cold sunny days
  • a stack of Christmas cards on my desk waiting to be addressed
  • planning and dreaming
  • clearing out clutter (I can see the bottom of my closet!) : )

Link up with Friday Felicities over at Becky's!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Eeek!!


Eeek!!
Originally uploaded by stephaniedshepherd

Note to self: remember where you set down the plastic spider.

Gobble Gobble (some good stuff)


Today's the day! Karla is hosting her Gobble Gobble event and is on the lookout for some new Thanksgiving recipes to share with her family. I'll be honest ... I've never hosted Thanksgiving at my home. We are always travelling to spend time with one side of the family or another and have missed out on hosting the event or even participating in the cooking. So, what I'm sharing here are just a few items that would most definitely make my menu if I was having a home-cooked Thanksgiving celebration. : )

Apricot Salad
Every table needs a jello salad, right? And this is NOT your normal jello salad. The apricot juice gives it a totally unexpected flavor and is wonderful.

1 pkg orange jello (3 oz)
1 pkg cream cheese (3 oz)
1 small can crushed pineapple
1/2 cup chopped nuts
2 c. apricot nectar
Bring 1 c. apricot nectar to a boil, add jello, then add 2nd cup of nectar. Shred/crumble cream cheese and add along with pineapple and nuts. Chill.

We always double this recipe because it disappears. Also, where it says "shred/crumble cream cheese" ... the best way we've found to do this (after much trial and error) is to freeze your cream cheese a little bit and then grate it like you would a bar of cheese.

Puny's Squash Casserole
This is from the Mitford Cookbook and is so so so so so so yummy. In fact, I've been known to cut the recipe in 1/2 and make a smaller 8x8 pan and because my husband doesn't care for squash, I can savor all myself over several days.

3 T. unsalted butter, more for greasing the baking dish
8 medium yellow squash, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large eggs, beaten
2 T. minced fresh parsley
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 c. crushed potato chips, ritz crackers, bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly butter a 9x13 inch baking dish and set aside. Place the squash and onions in a large pot with a smal amount of water over medium heat. Bring to a summer and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes, then drain into a colander. Place in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher. Add the butter and stire until melted. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, parsley, cheese, salt, and pepper and add to the vegetable mixutre. Pour into the baking dish and bake for 20 minutes. Top with the crushed potato chips and bake an additional 10 minutes or until the potato chips are browned.

Yeast Rolls
I wish I had the blog address to give credit, but I think it's moved. This recipe was originally from Melissa and she blogged at a very sweet Victorian style blog ... drawing a total blank here. : )
Edited to add: FOUND HER!
2 cups warm water
2 packets yeast (or 4 teaspoons)
1/2 c. sugar
2 t. salt
1/4 c. melted shortening (I sometimes use olive oil)
1 egg, beaten
6 to 6-1/2 cups flour (we use just plain old white)

Dissolve yeast in water and mix in rest of ingredients. Since I knead in a mixer, the time is short for preparation. After kneading briefly together, turn out in a greased bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise for about an hour. Then form into rolls and put on greased baking/cookie sheet. Allow another 1/2 hour or so for a second rise. Then bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. This recipe (which I show doubled here, halves well) makes about 20-24 rolls.

Thanks Karla, for hosting this! I'll be by later today when I have some free time to check out everyone else's menus!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Check out this giveaway...

Lindsay at Enjoy the Journey is giving away a neat (new) Christmas e-book written by Marybeth Whalen called Recipe for Christmas Joy! I'm always on the lookout for neat ideas for my girls, especially since this is the first year that Noelle is probably going to really remember Christmas. I'm eager to check this new resource out. : )

Noelle & Elizabeth


Noelle & Elizabeth
Originally uploaded by stephaniedshepherd

Love love love this picture of them from this morning. These two are in love with each other - Elizabeth just lights up when Noelle pays attention to her.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I Love You More with Book Giveaway!

{ A Review }



If you are like me, reviews of this book are popping up all over your blogroll! I Love You More is a touching story written from the viewpoint of both a mother and son in a unique "never-ending" style book. In the picture above, you see the "front" of the book ... all about how much more the mom loves her little son. When you get the middle of the book, you have to turn the book over to start from the other side - then you hear how much the son loves his mom!

When it arrived in the mail, my girls and I read it through twice before putting it down. They loved it, and I really enjoyed the chalk-like drawings. They added such a touch of sweetness to the story. This really is such a wonderful story. I'm going to be adding this book to several baby gifts I need to buy in the coming weeks, it's that good.

{ The Giveaway }

Now, the publisher has been kind enough to offer THREE copies for me to give away! So, here's what you need to do to be entered to win:

1. Comment on this post. : )
2. Make sure you leave me an email address or blog that I can contact you through. No email, no win.
3. Please share what you would say you love someone "more than." For example,

I love you more than the highest bird ever flew.
I love you taller than the tallest tree ever grew.
I love you higher than the highest swing ever swung.
I love you sweeter than the sweetest song ever sung.

No worries ... you don't have to rhyme. : ) But, how would you tell a little one how much you love him or her? Just a fun twist, if that's okay with you all.

I'll close comments on this post on Sunday and draw my three winners that evening ... good luck and feel free to pass it along!

{ Links for More Information }

{ COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED ON THIS POST! }

Bloggy Coolness

Gobble Gobble some good stuff


Karla is hosting the Gobble-Gobble Festival this Friday! Her question: I'm interested in what y'all are making for your Thanksgiving meal. We all know the tried-and-true recipes... But what do you do differently to make the holiday meal extra special?

Looking forward to that one and finding a few new seasonal favorites. : )


Another fun carnival over at Pure Joy that I will be checking out for good ideas! This one takes place on November 26th.



Good Monday Morning

  • We got my one of my best friends married on Saturday! (Lexie, I have a picture for you!)
  • We owe my Mom the largest Sonic gift card EVER for how much she watched my girls this weekend! She ended up babysitting for us almost all of the wedding events. After this post, I ended up taking Natalie into the Dr. and found out that she had a virus and was very contagious. Thankfully, no one else caught it, but we had to scrap all of our shared babysitting for the weekend so we didn't spread the germs love.
  • I lost 7 lbs. last week, in spite of the bridesmaids' luncheon and AMAZING reception.
  • And, oh. my. word., the place where we had the reception has this secret recipe for Almond Fruit Tea that makes you go CRAZY it is so delicious! (WaH Sheps, we are SO going there in January if possible!)
  • I have a super-neat book review / giveaway to post later today.
  • As well as menu planning for the week and trying to reclaim a little of our life here now that I think we are past the sickies and big events.
  • Life. Is. Good.

Friday, November 09, 2007

30 Minute Layout


I've been wanting to scrap this little picture of me and was prompted by this idea of Lain's. A little compare and contrast of me and Natalie. Pictures are both at 21 months, give or take a few weeks. : )

Monday, November 05, 2007

Up to My Eyeballs

Life is busy right now. I'm playing catch up from two weeks with sick girls and my errand list this week is a mile long. Add to that nights without sleep with baby feedings, holding little ones that need to sit up to sleep so they don't cough, and a Mama who's mind will not stop thinking of all that there is to do. Top that off with a wedding this weekend that I am sooooo excited about because it's one of my best friends, sprinkled with a dash of fear because I'm not at all ready for the two songs I'm sharing in her ceremony.

All that to say, it might be quiet around here this week. : )

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Fall Y'all Giveaway Winner

An the winner is ... comment #61!

Liz!

Thank you to everyone for entering!

Bloggy Book Tour - Hollywood Nobody

The hypocrisy of Hollywood never seems to affect the contradictory allure of Hollywood. Millions of Americans are addicted to the Hollywood gossip columns, blogs and tabloids that feed us a steady diet of rumors and half-truths. Noted young adult fiction author Lisa Samson tackles the shallow fluff of Hollywood and digs deeper to find out what’s true and what’s not amidst the glamour and glitz in Hollywood Nobody.

About the Story
Fifteen-year-old Scotty Fitzgerald has spent her young life on the road, traveling to movie sets with her single mom, Charley, a food designer. It’s hard enough to live on the road with Charley, the hippie mother who’s more of a kid than you are and seems to constantly be on the run. But Scotty, lonely and longing for her father, gathers together a different sort of family made up of crazy directors, and geriatric RVers.

On the set of a Great Gatsby remake in North Carolina’s Toledo Island, Scotty befriends rising star Seth Haas (aka “Seth Hottie") and failed fashion designer Joy Overstreet. She tries to avoid prima donna Karissa Bonano, who seems to represent all the hypocrisies Scotty rants about in her anonymous “Hollywood Nobody” blog. She begins to kick against Charley’s protective restraints and weigh what it might cost her to create the life she wants for herself and to gain the answers to her most important questions. But the answers turn out to be darker than she could have imagined ad threaten to sink her trust in the people dearest to her.

Who is Scottie’s father? Why is her mom so secretive? And who is this mysterious man that keeps following them? How can life possibly be so lonely in the company of so many people?

Lisa Samson is the author of twenty books, including the Christy Award–winning Songbird. She speaks at various writers’ conferences throughout the year. Lisa and her husband, Will, reside in Kentucky with their three children.

Q&A with Lisa Samson, author of Hollywood Nobody

Q. What inspired you to write Hollywood Nobody?
A. NavPress approached me at a publishing conference about writing YA fiction. They felt my writing voice would transition naturally into YA. Well, that day, I was sitting in my car in Opryland's parking lot, and the idea just gushed out. Nav loved it, and here we all are, me, Nav, Scotty Dawn and her fabulous readers.

Q. What message would you like readers to take away after reading Hollywood Nobody?
A. Be yourself and don't think the grass is always greener "over there." Chances are, somebody's looking at your yard thinking you've got it made.

Q. What does faith mean to you?
A. Faith means trusting God even when you have no idea what's going on around you, or what lies ahead. Faith means that somehow, somewhere, the bad stuff will be turned into good, even if that seems impossible.

Q. Can you describe what a "normal" family means to you? Did you grow up in a "normal" family?
A. Honestly, I don't think there is such thing as a "normal" family. We're all odd in our own way. Sure, some families look normal from the outside, but we're all weird in our "own special way." Of course, some families' abnormalities are dark and painful, and I just hope and pray that Hollywood Nobody will provide young women in those situations with a little bit of escape and encouragement.

Q. How did that help you?
A. I was always encouraged in the arts. My Dad played boogie-woogie for pocket money in college, and painted when he came home from his practice at night. My Mom worked at our church, was involved in other causes, so I became aware of my social responsibilities through her.

Q. In Hollywood Nobody, Scottie really struggles to find authentic relationships due to her nomadic lifestyle and the pervasive Hollywood influence in her life. What do you think Scotty would say to Britney Spears or Lindsey Lohan if she had the chance?
A. She'd say, "Are you kidding me?!" :-)

Q. What book is coming up next? Will Scottie find out who is chasing her?
A. The next book is called Finding Hollywood Nobody and yes, she will figure out who Biker Guy really is!

Q. What book(s) are you reading now?
A. Right now I'm reading, Growing Up Hard in Harlan County and Jesus of Nazareth.

Q. If your book were turned into a movie, who would play the main character(s)?
A. Amanda Bynes with a dark, curly wig. Adam Brody would nail Seth Haas. Charley could totally be played by Kelly Preston.

Q. Which one of your characters is most like you? Why?
A. Well, Scotty thinks a lot like I do. But I don't think any of the characters in this book resemble me. I am 43 dontchaknow. :-) Scotty, however, is an awful lot like my 17-year-old daughter Ty. I really felt like she was whispering in my ear as I wrote the book.

Q. What do you want your readers to know about you?
A. I guess I hope they know I remember how awful being a teenager could be! I'm not the person who says, "This is the greatest time of your life. Just be happy." I wouldn't go back to High School if anybody paid me to do it. It's a hard gig.

Q. There are many references woven throughout Hollywood Nobody to F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Is this a favorite book for you? Why did you choose it as a backdrop for Scotty?
A. Yes, The Great Gatsby is a favorite of mine. I chose it because I was re-reading it when I started writing the book. There are a lot of parallels between the two storylines. Unrequited love, the outsider looking in, wanting what we can't have. Beyond that, I wanted Scotty to be the literary type and to encourage the readers of Hollywood Nobody to venture out into something more classic than my book!

Q. Are you a vegetarian like Scotty or her mother?
A. I've tried it a time or two. And I wish I could stick with it. But usually it's fried chicken that knocks me off course every time. (I love fried chicken!)

Q. Scottie struggles with defining faith and how it fits into her life. Can you describe your experience coming to faith?
A. I've been in church all of my life! When I was three I remember asking Him into my heart. But faith isn't just a nice little formula, it's embracing Christ and God's faithfulness, day after day after day. Honestly, each day I hope I come to Christ a little more, hoping to draw closer to Him, to be more like Him, to love Him more.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Goodness Gracious!

So ... last week I left a comment on Margaret's blog. She's a Simple Scrapbook gal who's work I love and she was giving away a few Halloween scrapbook goodies from her stash. Guess what arrived in the mail today?! My. Goodness. She was MORE than generous with her goodies, and she also sent me an email saying she was slipping in a few "girlie" things since she noticed I had one or two (or three) of them hanging around my house!

This is the pile of Halloween/Fall/beautifully orange scrapbooking goodies:

Goodies

And here is the "girl" pile!

Goodies

Thank you! Thank you! I will thoroughly enjoy these treats (and I especially love that they are calorie-free). : ) Ooooh, what to play with first...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Links Ahoy!

I've had a post simmering for a couple days now, but no time to sit and process. So, in the meantime, some links worth checking out. : )

{ Links }

~ Candy Corn Pots - of course, I'm a few days late for this idea, but it could be easily adapted for Christmas or any other holiday. She has pictures with instructions, but I was pleased with my finished product, although I have learned I cannot paint in a straight line to save my life!

DSC_6084

~ This post on peace over at Holy Experience. Worth a read. And a re-read. She speaks my heart in this one.

~ A peek all around Ali Edwards' scrapbooking space. Total eye-candy for me. Or proves I am a major scrapbooking life artist. Whatever. It makes me happy!

~ Coupon alert! Over at Money Saving Mom, check out this post on getting free pretzels at Target. She sends you to the coupons you need to print and it works. I went today armed with coupons and now have my all pretzels for making Christmas goodies, all for just the cost of sales tax. Now to just keep them sealed in the bag!

{ Photos }

~ We dedicated Elizabeth on Sunday at church ... I've been home for literally the past two weeks with sick kids and this was pretty much our one outing (other than today's free pretzel trip to Target!) It was odd to stay home other than popping in for the dedication, and then running back home with the two kids that weren't well enough for the nursery. However, it was a sweet time for us as a family. That's my Dad there doing the dedication.

Elizabeth's Dedication 10/28/07 Elizabeth's Dedication 10/28/07

~ Our recent attempt at an extended family photo. Let's just say it was BUSY with littles aged 4, 3, 20 months, and 6 months. My Dad technically "took" the picture since it was his equipment and he set up the shot, but his photo-friend that actually pushed the button got her aerobic workout jumping up and down trying to get all the kids' attention.

Our Family

{ Time Out Thursday }

And lastly, in the spirit of Time Out Thursday (click the link ... or head over to Becky's ... to find out more about this neat idea), I'm off to put my girls to bed, pour myself a iced down Diet Coke, and curl up on my chair with a new book. Travis is at music at church, and assuming everyone stays in bed, I will have an hour or so ALL ALONE. Priceless, I tell you.