Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How to Make a Sailboat

Sailboat Party #2
Since I'm on the sailboat theme this week, I figured I would just stick with that.
(See yesterday's post for my plan for sailboat cupcakes)
Today's sailboaty theme is building one!
Again, taking much inspiration from my pinterest Sailboat Board--
Building a paper boat is easy, but what really made this work was using the maps. This is a great use for old atlases (poor unused things).
Ours have a mast made out of a skewer. After making the boat, add a bit of hot glue about 2 inches from the flat end of the skewer. Stick the skewer up through the center of the bottom of the boat and pull through until the glue catches on the paper hole--Hold steady for a few seconds while the hot glue hardens.
My blue sails are doubled and I made them by cutting blue copy paper twice the size of what you see--it's easiest to cut out a straight triangle, then fold in half and cut the curved bottom. The blue sail is wrapped around the skewer and glued using a little hot glue near the skewer and elmer's stick glue over the sail.
The red sail is secured using a thin line of hot glue.
The small red flag is doubled and wrapped around the point of the skewer. Secure it to the skewer with a tiny bit of hot glue and add a little elmer's stick glue to the flag to hold it together.
The hot glue makes the boats pretty sturdy.
Our fleet of boats will serve as decoration for a sailboat baby shower I'm helping with on Saturday AND they will make perfect little party favors.
Again, stealing ideas from pinterest pins, I filled my boats with candy lifesavers and added in some peppermints to stick with the color theme.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sailboat Party #1

If you follow my pinterest boards, then you've probably noticed that I've been pinning a LOT of sailboat stuff lately. This is one of the beauties of pinterest, really. If you're interested in something, create a board for it and then everything you find on the internet is nice and organized in one place (and it can't get lost! That's a big plus for me!)
This Saturday I'm hosting a sailboat baby shower for a friend. Thus the sailboat craziness. (And no, I am not attempting the cake above; it's just one of the most wonderful sailboaty things I've found, so I thought I'd share it with you.) What I am making for the shower is cupcakes. Lots of cupcakes. I'm going to put little sails on each one--just a simple yellow cupcake with white icing with a little toothpick sail. The beauty of the whole thing is that, after searching far and wide, I finally found these cupcake cups on Amazon:

So a little white icing on top will, I hope, give the idea of a sailboat perched atop blue waters. Then the little sail will finish the whole thing off.
Now I could just buy box mixes and go with that, but I'm not crazy about eating box mixes, and what if no one comes to the party and I have to eat all 36 cupcakes myself? Sheesh! I don't want to have to down 3 boxes of yellow cake mix! (just kidding, btw) I'm pretty sure I'm going to use this (nice and healthy, ha!) Four Egg Yellow Cake Mix found on Allrecipes. I'm following some of the advice in the comments and changing out the shortening for butter:

  • Yellow Cupcakes
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place paper cupcake holders in a cupcake pan.
  2. Cream together shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Mix well. Pour batter into prepared cupcake holders.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cupcakes test done. Cool.

3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
2-5 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a large bowl, combine sugar, shortening, butter, milk and vanilla. Beat on low speed to combine, then beat on medium speed for a full five minutes. It won't look like Icing at first, but keep the mixer going for a full five minutes, and then you're done!

Hooray for sailboat parties. Expect tons of pictures next week showing off our homemade sailboat party favors, cupcakes (of course), and other party decorations!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Clean Closets

Remember that cleaning promise I made way back when? Well, I have been cleaning, just not posting as much as I thought. So today, for your viewing enjoyment, I will give you the clean closet tour of our house. I'm not promising that all my closets look this clean at this very moment, and really I'm not promising that these pictures show clean closets--just cleanER closets. (If you'd like the real tour of my home, come on in.)
We'll start with the entry-way closet. I count it clean if there's not too much on the floor and the jackets are mostly on hangers.
The oldest's "closet" is actually just a space underneath her loft bed. Her drawers were already there, but her hanging clothes were spread around in other closets. So I took an old mop stick and hung it with ribbon and tacks to the bottom of her bed. Now her hanging clothes are where she can see them with her drawers. We also organized her drawers and put labels so that hopefully my slightly scattered eight-year-old can keep her drawers neat. P.S. She also has a desk and a book shelf under her bed--it's truly HER space.
Cleaning closet--That little white shelf had been under the oldest's bed cluttering up her space. Moving it to this closet to hold our extra bathroom supplies was a no-brainer. Everything is much more accessible and pleasing to look at for all those guests who like to stare at my cleaning closet. Incidentally, when we had our home study, I knew that our case worker was supposed to see where I kept my cleaning supplies. I kept thinking she would ask, and she never did, so I opened the closet proudly and pointed them out. I had cleaned it and I wanted to show it off!
The hallway bathroom closet. There's something about the way these shelves are so deep that makes them very hard to keep neat. Here's my best stab at it.
This is the one I have to say can only loosely be called "clean." Mine and my hubby's closet is the place for storage, ALL of our clothes, shoes, my scarves, etc. And did I mention that it is an incredibly awkward shape and has old pipes for hanging clothes? So anyway, I think that these hanger things are making the best use of hanging space, but the rest of it is just the best we can do right now. The funny thing is, I remember the previous owners of this house opening this closet to show it to us and it was a huge mess! I remember vowing to never let it get like that. Now I understand completely. They probably moved because there was a better master closet in their new house. : )
Last but not least the garage/basement. It's not really a closet, but I did work to organize and clean it, so I'm showing it off here. See the fancy duct tape? That's so the kids can return their play things in an orderly manner. Does this happen? Not really, but the tape still looks awesome, don't you think?

So there's a bit of the cleaning that's been going on around here. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Double Chocolate Flax Seed Muffins

I'm still crazy about muffins, in case you wondered. I think it's the fact that cupcakes are made in the same form--whatever it is, I can get away with a lot of things in a muffin. Healthiness and yumminess collide in a way that make both momma and kiddos very happy.
For past muffin-craziness check out these:
Applesauce Muffins
A Week of Muffins
Muffin-a-day Update
Cinnamon Yogurt Muffins
If you search "muffins" down at the bottom of Of Such is the Kingdom, you'll come up with 8 (yes, 8) pages worth of posts. There's solid proof that I'm certifiable when it comes to this snack/breakfast/anytime food!

These are the latest muffin addition to our household.
I know. They look sinfully delicious. They taste the same way, but want to know a secret? They are healthy! Craziness. Their only drawback is that they don't keep very well, but I'm working on that. I'll let you know what I figure out.

Double Chocolate Flax Seed Muffins (find the original recipe HERE)

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup milk or buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree or applesauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners.
  2. Combine flour, flax seed, oats, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and chocolate chips in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the milk, pumpkin/applesauce, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing just until combined. Spoon equal amounts of batter into muffin cups.
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Make A Blogger Happy

This is a repost from April of 2010, but it still applies just as much today:

Make a Blogger Happy Today!

Yesterday I had a great chat with a friend (at Starbuck's of course!) and one of the things we talked about was blogging. She has a great blog, and was asking me questions about mine. During the conversation, this blog began to take shape.

What are the top ten ways to make a blogger (very) happy?

#1. #2. and #3. Comment. Comment. Comment. It really does bring a smile to my face when people say something about what I am writing. I mean the writing itself is cathartic, but what I really live for is the comments.

#4. Become a follower. Call it notches on my belt or just plain old ugly pride, but I love to see that number grow. The very name "follower" is sort of magical, don't you think?

#5. Subscribe via RSS and email. And yes, I know, I don't have that RSS thing figured out yet. I know it isn't all that hard, but did I mention that I have three children?

#6. Participate in giveaways. I don't have one going on right now, but there's a great one coming up. Come back and play along! I love it and you just might win. My giveaways have been relatively small, and so there's an even greater chance for my followers to win.

#7. LINK TO ME. Perhaps if I capitalize it, it will be burned on your subconscious and you won't be able to help linking to me the next time you blog or Facebook or Tweet or whatever else people do out there these days.

#8. Click on my ads. This makes me money, folks. It really does. Even if you just look around and don't buy a thing. I love to blog, but there is a certain amount of guilt for a SAHM blogger--there are ALWAYS other things I could be doing! If I can make my blog pay, even if it's only a little bit, this guilt is slightly alleviated. And really, it doesn't hurt anything for you to click on the ad and look around a bit. So please, please, try it.

#9. Leave me advice as a comment. I love to hear constructive criticism. Okay "love" is probably too strong a word. But I need it and I know that, and I'd like for you all to feel free to do it.

#10. This particular blogger hasn't added a whole lot of buttons to her blog, but I do have a button for a poetry book I've put together on blurb. You don't have to buy it (It's great and all, but I know it's expensive for such a small book.) but if you would click over and look at the preview, it would certainly make me feel loved.

So there you have it. It turned into a way to make ME the blogger feel loved, but I'm sure you could apply these principles to any blogger and they would feel loved too. Hey, leave me a comment, and I promise to spread the blogging love around!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What We've Been Up To

A Little Allison Krauss and Union Station
Some Trees for the Boys
from the
You know,
THINK that I shall never see 
A poem lovely as a tree. 
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest 
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast; 
A tree that looks at God all day,         
And lifts her leafy arms to pray; 
A tree that may in summer wear 
A nest of robins in her hair; 
Upon whose bosom snow has lain; 
Who intimately lives with rain.  
Poems are made by fools like me, 
But only God can make a tree. 

My hubby is a tree hugger.
While the boys were hiking, the girls took in a little light-weight caving.
And just so you know, this little ol' me is not so fond of enclosed spaces.
I did all right, fresh air, etc. But I was much, much happier once we came up that incredibly deep elevator shaft and I could see the blue sky again.
I'm much more elf and much less dwarf than I even knew.
And some good ol' blue sky action.
After celebrating Christ's resurrection Sunday morning, we spent some good time with my extended family, including the annual egg hunt.
Happy Easter once again.
Please continue to pray for my friends who just lost their 2yo to a tragic accident in the home. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Yummy Pins

All of the following are taken from my Recipes and Food Pinboard:
First off is a recipe I've already tried:
This one's my version of the lovely Strawberry Yogurt Cake.
Let it be known that not every cake I make is chocolate.
Mouth watering yet? These Shrimp, Sausage, Corn and Potato Kabobs look scrumptious!

Snack Necklace--brilliant idea, don't you think?
Please continue to pray for my friends who just lost their 2yo to a tragic accident in the home. Thanks.

Monday, April 9, 2012

O Death, Where is Your Sting?

How does one write about a little child dying,
a friend mourning her two-year old,
a chubby little funny face that will no longer smile at us from the playground swing?
How does one deal with the fact that we were just there listening to his daddy tell him bye--that he would see him after work?
And I'm just a friend! How in the world would one deal with this happening to one's own little child?
I don't have any answers at all.
But after sitting through an Easter sermon from a pastor who was obviously praying the same question for our friend's family, I am confident in saying that God knows.
God knows and He loves and He's strong enough that even this blow, 
this killer blow of death has no sting. 
This is not a victory for the evil one. 
There is joy and peace and love to be had in this.
I'm 34 and I've known God's grace for most of those years, but I think my 3yo is wiser.
When we sadly broke the news to our children that our youngest's little friend from Bible study had a tragic accident in his home, we expected some questions.
But our 3yo had no questions. She just lit up. With a huge smile on her face and awe in her voice she said,
 "So Atticus is with Jesus RIGHT NOW?!"
Yes, my wise youngest, yes he is. 

"So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
"O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”
... thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
1 Corinthians 15:54-58

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Momma, why? and Happy Easter

"Momma, why did the soldiers crucify Jesus?" the youngest asks.
"Well...there are many reasons. They thought He was lying when He said He was God.
And God allowed Him to be killed so that He could die for our sins.
So that we wouldn't have to die."
The boy screws up his face, "But everybody dies."
"Our bodies die, buddy, but our souls go to be with Jesus."
The oldest interjects, "If Jesus hadn't died for us, we would have had to die for our sins."
"Everybody's soul lives on," I explain, "those who believe live forever with Jesus and those who don't live forever in hell."
"Is hell in the center of the earth?" The boy is full of questions tonight.
"No, hell is neither in space nor time," I answer.
I pause and breathe a prayer for understanding in their hearts.
"Now put your heads on your pillows, everybody. And you can tell Jesus all your thoughts and ask Him your questions. I love you, love you, love you. Good night."
And as I turn out the light and close the door, I realize. This is why I went to a Christian college. 
Four years of studying His word hard with some brilliant and lettered professors 
and ten years of learning since then
and I still quake when those three start stalling bedtime with their amazing questions!
May everyone have a joyful Easter time.
He is risen.
He is risen indeed.
Other Easter questions:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Seder Supper Pics

Our Seder supper went well last night.
(See yesterday's post for our seder menu and liturgy.)
Our bitter greens and our four cups of grape juice "wine"
Oh, by the way, if you're wondering why we celebrated our seder a couple of days early, it all has to do with a certain boy's baseball practice schedule. I just decided that the ability to relax and spend time with the supper and its meaning was more important than having it on the exact correct day (which should be Thursday, technically).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Seder Supper

The Passover Meal is called the "Seder." As I'm sure you know, our Lord Jesus celebrated the Passover on the night before he died. When we celebrate communion, we are remembering this Passover meal.
Last year, I wrote a Seder supper outline for our family. It worked well. This year, I share it with you.
Here's what you'll need:
Baked Lamb (or some other kind of meat)
Matzah Bread (a piece for everyone and 3 pieces on a plate)
4 cups of grape juice for each member of the family
Some sort of green lettuce
Small cup of salt water for each member of the family
Small cup of sweet dressing (we're using honey mustard this year) for each member of the family
Boiled Egg (we use deviled eggs)
Daddy: (prayer) In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
All: Amen
Momma: Bahruk Attah Adon Eloheynu. Blessed are you Lord God. Our Creator and Savior.
You light up our lives and set us free. (light candles) Jesus, light of the world, bless our family and free us from all our fears.
All: Amen.
Daddy: The Seder supper is celebrated by Jews to remember what God did for them in delivering them from slavery to the Egyptians. For Christians, it points to what Christ did for us on the cross.
Take the first cup. This cup is for God freeing the Israelites and it is for Christ freeing us from our sins. This first cup is called the Cup of Sanctification.
Momma: I am the Lord, and I will free you from the yoke of the Egyptians. [Exodus 6:6] “And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” 1 Peter 2:24
The Boy: What is sanctification?
The Oldest: Sanctification is God making us holy in heart and behavior.
Daddy: Everyone, drink the first cup.
(Everyone drinks the first cup of juice.)
All: (singing) Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
Momma: Now we will eat the salad greens.
The Oldest: Why do we have these salad greens?
Momma: The greens are dipped into salt water so that we can remember the tears of the Israelites while they were slaves in Egypt. 
(Everyone takes one piece of lettuce and dips it into the salt water and eats it)
Momma: We dip them tonight in the sweet sauce to remember that sweetness came when God saved them out of Egypt. God also turns our tears of repentance to sweetness when he gives us the righteousness of Jesus.
(Everyone takes one piece of lettuce and dips it into the sweet dressing and eats it)
 Daddy: We will now eat some matzah bread.
The Boy: Why do we eat this bread at this meal?
Daddy: At the first Passover God’s people left Egypt so quickly they had no time to let their bread rise, so their bread was flat. Our everyday regular bread is made with yeast, which, in this meal, is a symbol of sin.
The Oldest: For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life."
Daddy: I will now break the middle matzah that stands for Jesus.
Momma: But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; 
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
Daddy: This broken matzah will be wrapped and hidden. After dinner, the children will hunt to “resurrect” (to find) the matzah.
(Daddy goes in another room to hide the broken middle matzah. He returns quickly.)
(Everyone eats at least a bite of the matzah on their plates.)
The Boy: Why is this meal special?
Daddy: During this meal we remember that God’s people were slaves in Egypt. Remember the story?
The Oldest: God’s people cried out and hoped that God would rescue them as He promised to do. And God heard their cry and remembered the covenant He had made with Abraham. God sent Moses to deliver the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt.
Momma: And yet when Moses asked Pharaoh to free the Israelites, he refused and increased their labor. So God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh and the land of Egypt so they might know that the Lord is God, and let the people go.
Daddy: While I read the plagues, you will take a drop of juice out of the second cup and put it on your napkin with your finger. This symbolizes God’s judgment on sin.
Blood. Frogs. Lice. Swarms. Cattle Disease. Boils. Hail. Locusts. Darkness. Death of the First Born.
(As Daddy says each plague, everyone dips their finger into their second cup and drips a drip of juice onto their napkin.)
Momma: Pharaoh refused to let the people go until the last plague, the death of the firstborn of all of Egypt, convinced him to release the people.
Daddy: By following God’s instructions and putting the blood of a lamb on the door posts of the houses, the Israelites were spared this plague as death passed over their houses. This was a sign to point to Jesus, the final lamb of sacrifice who died for our sins.
The Boy: "John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" [John 1:29]
Momma: The egg is a symbol of the lamb sacrifice. It is also a symbol of mourning and sadness because the Jewish people no longer have a temple to offer sacrifices. They really don’t need a temple now, do they?
The Oldest: No temple is needed anymore because Jesus was the final sacrifice. Jesus is our Passover lamb.
The Boy: Jesus is our Passover lamb.
The Youngest: Jesus is our Passover lamb.
(Everyone eats at least a bite of their boiled egg.)
Daddy: Even as the Israelites were leaving, Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his army after them. Trapped between Pharaoh’s army and the Sea, the Israelites had nowhere to go. But God told Moses to lift his staff over the sea, and God parted the waters. They were able to pass through the midst of the sea. When the Egyptians tried to follow, the waters closed back over them. When the Israelites saw that they were free, Moses’ sister Miriam led them in rejoicing and praising God.
All: (singing) Through many dangers, toils and snares 
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.
Daddy: Tonight we eat what is bitter to remind us that it was very bitter and hard while God’s people were slaves in Egypt.
(Everyone eats one piece of lettuce plain.)
Momma: Tonight we eat the charoset to remind us of the mortar that God’s people made when they worked for the Egyptians.
The Boy: How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103)
(Everyone eats at least a bite of the sweet charoset.)
Daddy: I am the Lord; I will deliver you from slavery [Exodus 6:6]. We praise you O Lord our God, who has freed your people. Drink the second cup. This is the Cup of Deliverance.
(Everyone drinks the second cup of juice.)
Momma: Here is our meat that we eat just as God’s people ate the lamb on the night before they were delivered from slavery.
Daddy: We will now drink the Cup of Redemption. 
(Everyone drinks the third cup.)
The Oldest: What is redemption?
Daddy: Redemption is God saving us from sin.
The Boy: Who will be saved from sin?
Momma: Those who repent of sin, believe in Christ, and lead holy lives.
(Everyone eats their meal. Including the meat.)
Daddy: Our Seder is now complete, just as our redemption is complete. We rejoice with thanksgiving, and yet are humbled by God’s love! Everyone hold up your fourth cup: The Cup of Thanksgiving and Hope
(Everyone holds up the fourth cup)
Daddy: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has adopted us as your children, and allowed us to call you Father. Drink the fourth cup.
(Everyone drinks the fourth cup)
All: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Momma: I am the Lord; I will take you as my people and I will be your God [Exodus 6:7].
Daddy: Yet the story of God’s redemption is not ended. Christ died on the cross for our sins to justify us. He sent the Holy Spirit to make us holy in heart and conduct. And we will be completely made new when Christ comes again. (prayer)
All: Amen! The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be as long as life endures.
Daddy: He is risen!
All: He is risen indeed!
(Daddy blows out the candles.)
Children go and hunt the afikhomen.
Much help from: