Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cake Balls and Meatball Soup

I have been wanting to try these since a friend made these for her boys' birthday party, so when we needed a treat to make the oldest's birthday special at school, we dove right in. And I do mean that literally. The fun thing about cake balls is that you really get to use your hands! The oldest really enjoyed helping!
Step 1: Bake a cake mix according to directions and allow to cool. 
Step 2: Dump that cake into a large bowl and mix thoroughly with a whole container of icing.
We used a strawberry cake mix and a strawberry icing.
During this process I caught myself complaining that the little flakes in the strawberry cake mix were actually strawberry candy and had absolutely no nutritional value. Then, abashedly, I realized these cake balls are for fun and are not meant to be anywhere near healthy!!

 Step 3: Form icing and cake mix into small balls (an inch or inch and a half in diameter).
Step 4: Place cake balls in freezer for an hour or more to harden. 
Believe me, you don't want to leave this step out! I couldn't figure out why my cake balls were falling apart, so I called the friend I mentioned above. She soon set me straight, and the frozen cake balls were much easier to work with!
 Step 5: Melt chocolate chips on the stove top according to the directions on the bag. Place cake balls into chocolate and gently roll with a spoon. Scoop out of chocolate, place on wax paper or foil. Stick a lollipop stick into the top and sprinkle (if desired) with colored sprinkles.
There are tons of variations for these out there; I can imagine these as a big hit at a Christmas party!
And as for real food this week, how about a little meatball soup? (I guess I'm in to eating round items this week!) I put this together with some corn muffins last night for a great rainy day meal:
Meatball Soup
1 pound turkey
2 t Italian seasoning
1/2 cup cracker crumbs
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg
Mix ingredients for meatballs, form balls and brown on the stove.
1 gallon water
2 cans diced Italian seasoning tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
6 beef bullion cubes
8 oz. elbow pasta
3 carrots, diced
1 cup frozen corn
Bring water and next 3 ingredients to a boil. Add carrots and meatballs. After 3 minutes add elbow pasta. After 3 more minutes add frozen corn. Quickly bring back to a boil. Simmer all ingredients for another 10 to 20 minutes.
For the rest of the week we'll be having leftovers, homemade pizza, zucchini bread, green beans and baked chicken, and taco salad.
Have fun and enjoy!
Linked to Menu Plan MondayTempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesdays at the TableAnything RelatedDelicious DishesSlightly Indulgent TuesdayToot Your Horn TuesdayTuesday TwisterTwo for TuesdayTuesday Tastes, and Tasty Tuesdays over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and A Beautiful Mess

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas 2009

one of last year's trees
For your reading convenience (drum roll, please) the Christmas 2009 postings from Of Such is the Kingdom---
Christmas Crafts (these make great gifts):
Handprint Wreaths
Christmas Tree Magnets
Suggested Christmas Gifts:
rbt bags--check out these oil cloth bags, etc. made by a friend of mine!
Songs for Saplings are my family's favorite way to memorize scripture.
What my kids got last year for Christmas
What God Wants for Christmas and the Storybook Bible
Thoughts About Christmas:
Parenting at Christmas
Four Things I Love About Christmas
Baking at Christmas:
COOKIES! (5 of my favorite recipes)

I'm looking forward to sharing more Christmas love (i.e. crafts, recipes, products, and thoughts) this year!

Linked with Homemaker's Monday, Motivate Me Monday, Miscellany Monday,  Tools Are for Women Too, Makes My Monday, Home for the Holidays and MMMonday

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." Psalm 100:3-5
Link up your Happy Thanksgiving posts and link back to Of Such is the Kingdom. Thanks and may your day be full of giving thanks to Him who gives us all good things!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankfulness, Day #3

I have thanked Him for the big things and the hard things; today I think upon the little things...
chin and elbow kisses
hair diddles
pumpkin muffins
chocolate chips
white paper
blurb books
baby dolls
ice water
play grounds
hair cuts
bath time
snuggle time
little toes
toy cars
a boy who can make anything into a garage
that same boy climbing into my lap
football in the front yard
baking with the oldest
cake : )
the ability to read
the window above my kitchen sink
new clothes
notes of the oldest spread all over the house
colored pictures on our refrigerator
fall leaves
rain boots
fire places
a new iPhone
time (oh blessed time!)
fresh flowers

You and I both know I could keep going like this for many days! I am so thankful for all these little things that have been pressed down, shaken together, and piled on me!
"Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence." Psalm 27:5-7

Linked with  5 Minutes for Mom, Parenting by Dummies,Go, Graham, Go,Jolly Mom, Look What Mom Found,Two of a Kind,Daily Dose of ToniA Lot of Loves, Live and Love Out LoudHobo MamaMomspective,Slice o' HeavenRamblingsA Mom's ChoiceShibley SmilesNatural ParentsLife Down Our LaneMrs. MarineA Beautiful Mess, My Life in JengaMiss MommyGoodbye DisposablePhoto Story Friday and Mom Start.
Please feel free to link up your posts of thankfulness this week! Don't forget to mention Of Such is the Kingdom in your post! Have fun and be thankful!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thankfulness, Day #2

Two of the heroes from my childhood have something remarkable to say about thankfulness:
I thank God for my handicaps, for, through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God
Helen Keller
and maybe you remember the story around this one:
"And so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas."
Corrie ten Boom

I believe whole-heartedly that one should be thankful for all things. As Job said, how can we accept the good from our God and not the bad? After all, we who follow the Lord know that we have eternal, wonderful life to look forward to!
And yet, when the bad things come--whether it be great or just having to clean up the potty trainer's messes again--I totally forget my philosophical commitment and fly off the handle or dissolve into a weeping mess.
My prayer for today is that like Helen Keller and Corrie ten Boom, I will give thanks whatever my circumstances. What a ministry this would be of God's unshakeable joy planted firmly in my heart.
Just as with yesterday's post, please feel free to link up your thankfulness posts from this week.
I'll post the same linky every day and you can link up with it as many times as you want! Visit others' thankfulness posts to rejoice with them! And please, link back in some way to Of Such is the Kingdom. Have fun and be thankful!
Linked to Makes My Monday and Toot Your Horn Tuesday.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Week of Thankfulness

It drives my hubby nuts, but I like to save things on my computer's "desktop." So it is littered with "funny safety tips" and "dining deals master list," and many more wonderful things that I know I will use at some later date. My favorite thing on my desktop (besides the crazy pic of our family being silly at the beach) is the one titled "Read This Once A Day!" That title is mine; the real title for this wonderful blogger's post is "10 Point Manifesto for Joyful Mothering," and my mothering definitely benefits when I do read it once a day! I could write of how I can't read this manifesto without weeping, or how each and every one of the 10 points spears my heart with hope and desire, but instead, today's post is to focus on thankfulness, so I'll pick out only #4:
"Today, when stress mounts, I pray to dismount it with gratitude. My stress management plan will be intervention with verbal thanks. I can only feel one feeling at a time, and I choose to give thanks at all times. Fight feeling with feeling!"
This, my friends, is so true! I remember hearing a radio program about that funny story in the Bible of a man clearing the demons out of his house and cleaning the house only to have seven more demons move in. It's a strange story and I had never understood it before that radio program that explained that if you want to get rid of a bad things (habits, thoughts, emotions), the only way is to replace them with the good--otherwise, "7" more bad things will just move in!
So this week I'll just be talking about the things for which I'm thankful! There are so many! Here's a few to start the week off with!
1. I am so thankful for abundant life! And I'm thankful too for the fact that even with my large imagination, His thoughts are always infinitely higher than mine!
2. These four people hold the strings to my heart. I am so thankful for them!
3. I am thankful for our peaceful, beautiful home.
view from a street near our house
4. I am thankful for the beauty of the place where we live. 
5. I am so thankful for friends and neighbors and extended family. The more I grow in faith (I'm talking like growing from a toddler to a child here!) the more I realize how very important these relationships are.
And, I've never done this before, but if you're interested in being thankful with me this week, how 'bout linking up your post? I'll post the same linky every day and you can link up with it as many times as you want! Visit others' thankfulness posts to rejoice with them! And please, link back in some way to Of Such is the Kingdom. Have fun and be thankful!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Swagbucks and a Birthday

Search & WinI haven't spoken about swagbucks in a while, so I wanted to put in a little plug, if I may.
Swagbucks is one of the ways that I turn my little bit of time on the computer into something useful. When you search the internet through their website or search tool bar, you are randomly rewarded with points. These points can be used to redeem tons of things, but the one I most often choose is 450 points = $5 Amazon gift card. If I search on swagbucks 2 to 3 times a day, I generally can earn one of these cards in three weeks. I'm working toward a pair of cowboy boots, hopefully (unless those Amazon dollars get spent for Christmas presents!)
If you haven't signed up for swagbucks, click on the little pic above and sign up today!
And, on a really side note:
Happy Birthday to this big-headed baby! She was born 33 years ago today.
It's been a great 33 years.

Linked with Frugal Friday at Life As Mom and The Shabby Nest. Also linked with Thrilling ThursdayFAB FridayFriday FavoritesLook at Me FridayFeature Yourself FridayFrugalicious Friday and I'm Loving ItLinked with Cheap Thrills ThursdayGet Your Craft OnIt's Stinkin' CutePhoto Story FridayShow Off Your Stuff and Strut Your Stuff.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Intimacy Conference

Our church had an incredible conference this weekend about intimacy. There was quite a bit of teasing beforehand about it being the "sex" conference and this being both a draw and a turn-off for the poor men whose wives "dragged" them into attendance. Whatever joking was done beforehand, though, I don't think anyone left there without much to ponder on relationships and intimacy. Here are the top ten things I learned this weekend:
(disclaimer--absolutely every word that I am using here is unabashedly stolen from the wonderful counselor, psychologist, and Reformed Theological Seminary professor Dr. Jim Coffield) 
1. Everyone, young or old, lives in the tension of wanting desperately to be known and on the other hand wanting desperately to be safe. Because of this, we must risk discomfort in order to gain growth. We have two choices in relationships: risk or exist.
2.  There is another tension in intimate relationships between being individual and being one. This is only perfectly shown in the trinity (Our God is perfectly three and perfectly one.) In marriage it is easy to become too similar or too separate; it is difficult to be uniquely self as well as one with your spouse.
3. Some clear building blocks for intimacy are: having mutually agreed upon common tasks; searching out new and novel experiences; being vulnerable; sharing spirituality; sharing focused time; and (for spouses) physical touch. (Incidentally Coffield pointed out that this is why teens always pair off after a missions trip. Think about it; they have experienced each one of these to a degree so they feel "in love.")
4. You cannot be intimate if: you are too concerned with image; you don't know your true self; you are too stressed; you are worried about protecting self.
5. Great relationships have high warmth (love), low conflict (not no conflict), and high pleasure/fun. God allows conflict so that we can see and understand one another. Conflict should make us curious not resentful.
6. Males and females each reflect beautiful parts of our God. The male reflects the fact that God is strong, He is present, and He is knowable. The woman reflects that God is good, beautiful, creative and mysterious.
7. At the core, intimacy is really about integrity.
8. Intimacy is not about how special or great you are! Real love is based on this: "You are completely ordinary, and I love you because of God!"
9. In every relationship we have two choices: Manipulate or Minister. This means that we can try to direct how the relationship goes, what is talked about, what is focused upon, OR we can leave that to God and follow his leading--this will almost always take us to focusing on the other person (i.e. ministering to that person).
10. Being able to self-soothe is a valuable asset in relationships. Another way to put this is that individuals are able to understand and acknowledge their own feelings as well as regulate them by taking them to God. This alleviates the need to "dump" feelings on a spouse or friend. Instead we are able to truly share feelings without making others responsible for them.
Linked to Makes My Monday,  Top Ten Tuesday, and Toot Your Horn Tuesday.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Random Acts of Culture are Amazing!

I just have to post this because it's really incredible. Can you imagine just minding your own business shopping and then having the Hallalujah chorus erupt around you? Here are the facts; read them and then believe me, you want to watch this video!
On Saturday, October 30, 2010, the Opera Company of Philadelphia brought together over 650 choristers from 28 participating organizations to perform one of the Knight Foundation's "Random Acts of Culture" at Macy's in Center City Philadelphia. Accompanied by the Wanamaker Organ - the world's largest pipe organ - the OCP Chorus and throngs of singers from the community infiltrated the store as shoppers, and burst into a pop-up rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's "Messiah" at 12 noon, to the delight of surprised shoppers. 

linked to Six Word Saturday

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Little Art

I've been following the (newly 5yo) boy and his art with this blog for some time, and I thought I'd give you a bit of an update. I have shown you an early painting, an artistic replica, and some experimentation with color. Here's a little update on what the boy is doing.
His pictures now generally tell a story, and most of the time he can't really remember the original story, but he's happy to make a new one up if you ask. He likes to experiment with facial expressions--

and he occasionally goes back to his fascination with color and crayons:
Like I've said before, I so enjoy watching the gifts that God has given my children come to light!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Heart Words

This post first appeared on Of Such is the Kingdom on November 2nd, 2009. Funny how I still need to hear these words! I could have written them today, so I thought I should repost them.

Heart Words

"Out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45b NKJV
"Whatever is in your heart determines what you say." Luke 6:45b NLT
Our pastor pointed out yesterday morning that this statement leaves us with no ability to blame our outward circumstances for our behaviour--it's all right there in our hearts.
That hit a little close to home.
Then he (had the gall) to say that this statement also means that when I yell crazily at my kids for misbehavior something is revealed, not about their behavior, but about my own heart.
Double ugh!
He could have put my name before that statement.
I find it very easy to blame and complain about my circumstances so that I don't have to look too closely at my own heart--especially in my parenting. The great news is that after convicting us with the words of Scripture, our pastor reminded us of the Word, who covers those same sins with his grace-filled blood.
So, this week my prayer is that all the faults I see in myself would lead me to see my deeper sin, which would then lead me to repent and revel in the grace of the Savior.
And it wouldn't hurt if I could yell a little less at the kids as well. : )
Linked to Makes My Monday.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Playing With Ice Cream

The boy's kindergarten (*tutorial) class uses an ice cream rewards system for reading. Each time they finish an Abeka book, they get a "scoop" for their cone. When their cone has 20 scoops, they get a token for a free ice cream at a local shop. Using this ice cream theme and the fact that the boy is now nearly mastering short vowel sounds, we came up with a very frugal ice cream matching game.
It was a hit. 
His puzzle-loving, methodical brain really loves to use new skills in this way. 
I'm working on a long vowel set of cones and this time I'm using these worksheets (there are short vowel ones there too) instead of my own drawings and handwriting. Just print, cut out the picture and the word, glue the picture on the cone/scoop and the word on the other part, and match away! 
For a spin on this game you could use word families to make multiple scoop cones. Write a common word ending on the cone (like "air") and then provide scoops with "h" and "ch" and "f" and "p" that can be stacked on top. Then read the words "hair," "chair," etc.
Here are a few other cool games if learning short and long vowels are in your homeschool agenda.
*The big kids go to a homeschool tutorial four days a week, three hours a day. The boy's kindergarten class works mainly on reading and the oldest's second grade class has handwriting, spelling, grammar, math, literature, and history. On Wednesdays we spend the day at home doing their tutorial homework and do other homeschool work.

Linked with Frugal Friday at Life As Mom and The Shabby Nest. Also linked with Thrilling ThursdayFAB FridayFriday FavoritesLook at Me FridayFeature Yourself FridayFrugalicious Friday I'm Loving It, Cheap Thrills ThursdayGet Your Craft OnIt's Stinkin' CutePhoto Story FridayShow Off Your Stuff and Strut Your Stuff.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


hubby's cool shot by the fire of me roasting marshmallows
We took our first family camping trip a few weekends ago to a nearby mountain.

We made it through a night all in one tent with acorns falling and wind loudly blowing, and we even slept a little. The next morning we hiked around a gorgeous lake.
My fam + water = throwing rocks!
I couldn't stop taking pics of all the beauty around us!
Camping is definitely something I love, and I'm really pumped to know that we can share this joy as a family! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

November Food

I love November! The air is chilly, the skies are blue, and the trees are still beautifully arrayed here in the south. It's a month of football, Thanksgiving, and my birthday! Who could ask for more from a month?
I have a hard time containing myself when I grocery shop on the first of the month; I always come home with enough food for several weeks instead of my intended one week's worth. So for November, I'll give you a rough run-down of the food we'll have for the next two weeks.
Monday Nov. 1 Roasts were bogo today, so I purchased two lovely ones for our month of food. The first is in the crock pot right now with a can of Italian seasoned chopped tomatoes, a 1/2 cup of red wine, and 3 beef bullion cubes. We'll have our roast with gravy, rice, salad and a winter vegetable mix.
Tuesday Nov. 2 Hubby and I are going out with the hubby's office for dinner. Kids will eat rollups and cold veggies and fruit with the babysitter.
Wednesday Nov. 3 Sneaking in a no meat meal with these black beans and rice tortillas. Shhh! Don't tell the hubby! We'll have guacamole and chips and a salad with these.
Thursday Nov. 4 Bread making day! I'll use the leftover beef from Monday to make a beef stew and we'll eat it with our homemade bread and a salad.
Friday Nov. 5 Easy cheesy pizza with pepperonis and a salad.
Saturday Nov. 6 Can I serve Italian two nights in a row? Why not? I'll be out most of the day and tired when I come home, so I'll be serving this frozen lasagna with frozen broccoli and a salad.
Sunday Nov. 7 We eat with the small group! Yeah!
Monday Nov. 8 Chicken and dumplings is something I always forget about until the weather gets chilly. (Hurray for fall!) We'll be having a big pot of this:
3 cups AP flour, 1/4 t baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons shortening, 1 cup of iced broth, 1 whole chicken cut up, 6 cubes chicken bullion, onion, celery,  salt and pepper to taste. 
Boil chicken for 1 1/2 hours with 6 bullion cubes. Scoop out one cup of broth and put in freezer. Cut chicken off bones and discard bones. Place chicken back in broth. Let sit while 1 cup of broth almost freezes. Sift flour, soda, and salt. Cut in shortening. Stir in nearly frozen broth. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut into 2 inch squares. Bring chicken and broth to simmering. Add chopped onion and celery. Add dough squares. Boil for 2 minutes. Simmer for 15-30 minutes. Enjoy!
Tuesday Nov. 9 Sandwiches to finish off last week's homemade bread.
Wednesday Nov. 10 Stir fried rice with some chicken that I held back from the whole one I boiled for the dumplings on Monday. I usually cook the rice, fry it with 2-3 T olive oil, add scrambled egg, chicken, and frozen peas. I season the whole thing with 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce. I have some frozen endamame, so I may use that in it or on the side instead of the peas.
Thursday Nov. 11 I think it's time for a big pot of easy chili! I'll probably shred some carrot in it and serve it with chips as a one-dish wonder.
Friday Nov. 12 More Italian--tonight it's easy spaghetti with ground turkey.
Saturday Nov. 13 Leftovers
Oh and at some point in the next two weeks, I'd like to make these homemade crackers.
So there's a couple of weeks worth of Of Such is the Kingdom cooking. I hope you have a happy November!
Linked with Menu Plan MondayMeatless Monday, and Hearth and Soul.
Linked to Tempt My Tummy TuesdayTuesdays at the TableAnything RelatedDelicious DishesSlightly Indulgent TuesdayToot Your Horn TuesdayTuesday TwisterTwo for TuesdayTuesday Tastes, and Tasty Tuesdays over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and A Beautiful Mess