Monthly Archives: December 2014

Tiles for Christmas

I got some new artsy items for Christmas to zentangle on. I tried the first one today. I think it may be a relatively new item but it looked so interesting that I couldn’t resist asking for them for Christmas.

Christmas Present ~ LifeOfJoy.me

I thought they looked like fun. I just did a real quick tile to see how to use it. I didn’t know which tile I was getting but am happy that I ended up with a multicolor tile. It came with a wooden pencil of sorts to draw with.

Fun Chrsitmas Present ~ LifeOfJoy.me

I decided that when filling in the squares on Knightsbridge that I shouldn’t completely remove all the black. I like the streaks of black in them better than the square that had most of the black removed.

I tried tipple but really don’t like how it turned out as much on this medium as I felt I needed to keep some black in between and I don’t prefer the look. On the other hand, I like how the hollibaugh turned out. I did try to keep a tiny bit of black on each side of the line I was drawing behind to make it look a little like some shading, as I don’t know how I’d shade this medium.

I did use a regular pencil to lightly draw on my dots, border, and string. You can see a bit of it along the right hand side.

I hope you got some fun artsy gifts for Christmas too. I’d love to see what others do with this medium.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Breakfast Burrito Bake

Breakfast Burrito Bake ~ LifeOfJoy.me
Bubble Bread and Breakfast Burrito Bake

For many years, for our Christmas Eve breakfast I have made Overnight Custard French Toast. I thought all the kids liked it but found out only this December that Tiffany doesn’t really care for it. I never knew!

A couple of years ago I decided to try an overnight crockpot breakfast casserole. I did not like it because it was too dry for my liking. So last year I went back to my old faithful standby. I found out that Lauren did not care for the overnight French toast, so I decided to try something else this year.

I have made Breakfast Burrito Bake several times in the past and thought this would be a good candidate for our Christmas Eve morning breakfast. The first time I made this I made it with the suggested can of enchilada sauce but we did not care for it that way. The place I got the recipe from suggested that a cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup could be substituted. This is the way we prefer it.

Unfortunately this has not been tested as an overnight recipe and I did not want to risk messing it up, so I had to make it fresh Christmas eve morning. Of course, as an insurance that everyone would have something they liked for breakfast, we decided to have Bubble Bread or Monkey Bread as well. This too has not been tested as an overnight dish and thus needed to be made fresh that morning. Fortunately my kids are helpful. Tiffany and Lauren weren’t feeling up to par but the boys were fine, so they made the Bubble Bread. We decided to make it in muffin cups instead of a bundt pan so that it got done faster.

Unfortunately I’m still a newb at all this blogging stuff and keep failing to take pictures as we are preparing food and before we make a mess of it all. ;)

Nearly gone Breakfast Burrito Bake ~ LifeOfJoy.me

I precooked the sausage with onion powder the night before to try and speed up the process in the morning. I also shredded the cheese and had it in the refrigerator ready to go the next morning.

In the morning I simply combined the sausage and hashbrowns and then added in the beaten eggs.

I sprayed the 9×13 pan with oil spray and put down a layer of tortillas, followed by half the sausage/hashbrown mixture, and then a cup of shredded cheese. Then repeated the layers. Afterwards another layer of tortillas.

Next I combined a can of cream of chicken soup with 3/4 cup of milk. Poured it on top of the tortillas and finally the last cup of cheese.

Then bake at 350º for about 30 minutes.

Everyone loved it. :) I can only hope that as our family grows (by my other kids getting married and then grandchildren coming along) that they will love it too because this is our new Christmas Eve morning tradition.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Breakfast Burrito Bake ~ LifeOfJoy.me
Bubble Bread and Breakfast Burrito Bake

Breakfast Burrito Bake

Ingredients

  • 16 oz bag frozen hashbrowns
  • 3 eggs, beaten slightly
  • 1 onion, diced (or onion powder)
  • 1# bulk sausage (I used chicken sausage)
  • 3 cups (12 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • flour tortillas

Instructions

  1. Brown sausage in a skillet with onion or onion powder, breaking the sausage up as it cooks.
  2. Combine hashbrowns, sausage and beaten eggs.
  3. Spray 9x13 pan with oil spray.
  4. Put down a layer of tortillas, then half the sausage mixture, then 1 cup shredded cheese.
  5. Repeat once
  6. Place another layer of tortillas on top of the cheese.
  7. Combine milk and soup and pour over the tortillas.
  8. Finish with the final cup of shredded cheese.
  9. Bake at 350º for about 30 minutes until cheese is completely melted and ingredients are headed through.
http://lifeofjoy.me/breakfast-burrito-bake/

Light Love

Light Love ~ LifeOfJoy.meI love Christmas lights! They make me happy. Over the years I have pointed out the “pretty lights” to Mike frequently, oooooing and ahhhhing over them. I have always wanted to have the outside of my house decorated for Christmas. This is something I remember mentioning to Mike in the early years of our marriage but he did not want to do it. I can only remember one time, nearly 20 years ago, when I tried to pressure him to put some lights up. I knew I could not do it on my own, so I dropped it. I have not mentioned it in years!

About three weeks ago Mike announced that he’d like to put up some lights outside. I’m sure you can imagine my shock. I merely said I liked the idea and left it at that. As Christmas got closer and closer, I began to think it might not happen. And then just eleven days before Christmas, he bought some lights. Albeit, they were not the color I preferred, but hey, they were lights. (They were amber and the only single colored strand they had left.) I was cautiously happy.

A week went by and no progress was made on any Christmas preparation front – his or mine with wrapping gifts. Then Sunday afternoon, just four days before Christmas, he and Sean went out and began to put them up. In just a few minutes, they came back in the house. I knew something must be wrong. Alas, the strand had 225 LIGHTS not 225 FEET! (As my sister Tracie pointed out when I told her, that’s a newbie mistake. :) )That makes a huge difference. But I was proud of him, as he would not be deterred.

The next day, he bought enough lights to finish the front of the house. Unfortunately they did not have any more amber ones or any other strand of a single color but again, he pushed through and bought multi-colored lights and just two days before Christmas, he, Sean, and Brian put them up. Is it done the way I would have had them done? No. But I’m glad that they are up and I didn’t have anything to do with it. It was all Mike . . . from his heart . . . not something I manipulated.

Herein is the point. I did not want to manipulate Mike into doing something that I wanted, just to have it done my way. That is not love! Love is giving of oneself. Love does NOT manipulate. Of course, I really do attribute the change in him to him praying. Spending time with God changes you.

Until next time, God bless,
Michele ºÜº

Newb Lights ~ LifeOfJoy.me
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home. :)

Post-Christmas Thoughts

Me @ Rhema Lights ~ LifeOfJoy.meChristmas is over and hard to believe. I was planning on running errands today but now I’m second-guessing that decision. I do have enough food to make it until Monday or Tuesday if I decide not to go. Of course, Mike said it is supposed to rain today and I don’t like running errands in the rain. Tiffany still is not feeling very good and would appreciate it if we didn’t go also.

It was a good Christmas! I got lots of things I from my list. I’m excited to play with some of my computer games over the next few days and use my new tiles for Zentangles! :) I look forward to using them.

Mom worked hard and made use all breakfast this morning. This is new over the last few years. I wish she wouldn’t work so hard doing it all. You see, she makes her homemade pizza for Christmas dinner. She makes roughly, a whole pizza for each person except the littlest ones, then we get to take home the leftovers. Yum yum!!!

Unfortunately this year, several of us have gotten various forms of yuckiness that is going around. It started about 10 days ago. Mom, Dad, and my sister Sondra seem to have avoided it. I’m fighting it now . . . dosing on EmergenC, echinacea, garlic, and anything else I can think of. I found some Zicam and took it but it seems to have upset my stomach a bit and that seldom happens.

Sean and Mike are off work today, so it’s going to be a lazy day if I decide not to run errands. I hate it when I am indecisive.  ;)  Tiffany got Terra Nova for Christmas and we started watching it last night; one disk down already.

Well, I think I’ll keep it short and simple today! Have a great one!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

It’s Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas 2014Wow! It is hard to believe that Christmas is here already. I mean, seriously, it seems as if it should be a couple weeks away yet. But still, here it is.

The last couple of days have been great! Sean took a half day off from work on Tuesday and Brian was off as well. Brian and Lauren came out in the afternoon to help me get ready for Game Night and Christmas. I still had some gifts to wrap, baking to do, and some cleaning to get done. I mobilized the troops: got Sean cleaning/organizing, Brian baking, Tiffany resting since she wasn’t feeling well, and Lauren helping me.

It was awesome!!! I let go of the control and my kids were great! I didn’t end up making any of the desserts for Christmas day. Tiffany and Lauren helped me make the snacks for Game Night. Tiffany put the ingredients for chocolate fondue in a little crock pot and stirred every 15 minutes. Lauren put together the Queso Blanco, resisting the urge to omit all the ingredients she doesn’t like, reminding herself that she likes the cheese dip. It all turned out great . . . well, all except the baked potatoes. :D  I did not have them on high in the crock pot and so they were not done when we went to eat. Alas Brian and Sean to the rescue; Sean got the microwave out of hiding from where it was buried in the other room for such a time as this and Brian took charge of microwaving them and saved our baked potato bar dinner.

Change can be good. Don’t be afraid to change what you do and how you do it as your family grows and the dynamics change. Traditions, like a curriculum, are tools for you to use, not for you to become a slave to.

One thing I like about the Holiday Grand Plan is that it has you, along with your family, evaluate the things you typically do and decide which things you will do this year and which ones don’t make the cut.

When Brian was just 3 and Sean was 21 months, I think it was, we got them a kitchen set and a picnic table for Christmas. Our tradition had been to take all of our gifts to my parents’ home on Christmas day and open everything there. As you can imagine, that was not going to be possible that year. Consequently we had to make some kind of change.

One option was to open gifts at home first thing and then leave and go to my parents. Another was to wait until we got home to let them open the gifts we’d gotten them but we stayed until later in the evening (somewhere around 8 or 9, I think), so this was not a good option either. We could’ve let them open their gifts from us Christmas Eve night but then they still wouldn’t be able to play with them very much.

We decided to do something out of the ordinary but something that worked for us. Since Mike is self-employed, he could decide not to work on Christmas Eve. Thus, we decided to wake up Christmas Eve morning and act like it was Christmas day and we simply spend it at home. Thus the kids could open their gifts and enjoy playing with them. Then the next morning, Christmas Day, we could get up and go to my parents’ home and enjoy Christmas all over again. :) Win, win! (Quote from Letters to Juliet. :) )

Other traditions have evolved over the years and as my children are nearly all grown up, I know that some will change and new ones will begin. I’m looking forward to these changes, whatever they may be, with eagerness and excitement. But I’m also enjoying them just they way they are, as long as they serve the needs of our family.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas, God bless,

Michele  ºÜº

PS. I wish I had taken pictures but I was too busy living in the moment. ;) I hope you are living in the moment this holiday season too.

Manger

It is Christmas Eve! In our house, we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve with our immediate family and then with the extended family on Christmas Day.

I wanted to share a zentangle that would remind me of what we celebrate at this time of year. My savior, Jesus, was born, of a virgin, and lain in a manger. This tile reminds me of straw and a manger and thus, Jesus, who is the center of my life.

Christmas Manger ~ LifeOfJoy.me

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. Until next time, God bless,

 
Michele ºÜº

Cookie Tradition

Plain Sugar Cookies ~ LifeOfJoy.me
They aren’t very pretty but it will be fun.

It is wonderful to have traditions. It is fun to enjoy the familiar long standing traditions and yet it is awesome when you create a new tradition and didn’t even intend to. The latter happened to me several years ago. I decided to make sugar cookies with Tiffany about three years ago. We chose to decorate them after we baked them.

I’ll have to check with Lauren but I think it happened by chance that it was the same night she and Brian were coming out. I mixed up some powdered sugar ‘frosting’ in different colors. Then I went and dug out some new cheap kids paint brushes and invited everyone to come paint the cookies. To my surprise, everyone, including Mike, came and we had a blast painting them. We all voted to do it again the next year. Last Saturday was the third time we’ve decorated sugar cookies and all look forward to doing it again next year. :)

I just use the Sugar Cookie Recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. The first few pages are missing from my book (I wonder where I lost them.) so I’m not sure what the copyright date is but it appears to be an older one . . . my guess would be the 70’s. I like that this recipe is not as sweet as other cookies, since we are painting them with sugar ‘frosting’.

Warning: This dough needs to be refrigerated for at least an  hour !

Sugar Cookie

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 4 teaspoons milk
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Thoroughly cream shortening, sugar and vanilla.
  2. Add egg and milk; beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Sift together dry ingredients; blend into creamed mixture.
  4. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill at least one hour.
  5. On lightly floured surface, roll to 1/8 inch thickness (keep other half chilling until ready to use).
  6. Cut out desired shapes with cutters.
  7. Bake on UNgreased cookie sheet at 375º about 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Cool slightly; remove.
  9. Makes about 3 dozen.
http://lifeofjoy.me/cookie-tradition/

Over the years, I have learned that we like our cookies to be very soft so I stand guard and remove them before they get any signs of color at all.

I pour some powdered sugar in a small bowl or ramekin and add milk a teaspoon at a time until it is thin enough to use a paint brush but thick enough that it won’t all drip off the cookie or make a runny mess, which I’m not always good at doing.

Powdered Sugar Frosting "Paint" ~ LifeOf Joy.meSee that broken gingerbread man? Brian, my 23 year old son, broke his head off on purpose and started to eat him before he ever got painted. I told him I wanted to see him painted before he ate him. ;)

Decapitated Gingerbread Man ~ LifeOfJoy.me

Here are the finished cookies before being eaten. ;)

IMG_2822IMG_2824It always amazes me what they turn some of the shapes into.

Well, I’m off . . . I have a lot to accomplish today! Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Save

Priorities, Attitudes, and Communication

My awesome family ~ LifeOfJoy.me
Sean, Lauren, Mike, Brian, and Tiffany (left to right) with our hot chocolate from Kum & Go, but the pic is a bit blurry.

It is difficult to keep priorities in order any time but especially when things get pressing during this time of year. Frequently I must remind myself to make sure that I am treating Mike with love and not ignoring him. It is so easy for him to feel neglected the week of Christmas because of all the activities we pack into three days.

You see, I am a procrastinator; so although I had the majority, if not all, of the gifts I needed to purchase, by Thanksgiving, I usually don’t get them wrapped until the week of Christmas. Since we wrap stocking stuffers, it can take me quite some time to get them all wrapped.

I have to be  mindful of keeping a joyful attitude while doing all the things I must do on the final days before Christmas. However the biggest thing I have to keep in mind is not to ignore my beloved. It is important that I don’t have any kind of bad attitude as I go about doing what I need to do or he won’t want me to do them in the future. It is a tall order but worth the effort. If I can make him feel loved and cared for, things go much easier. I have a happy husband and that makes me happy too.

Communication is vital. It is hard to ensure that you are meeting your dear one’s needs, if you have never communicated about those needs. I have talked with Mike about what makes him happy, what makes him feel loved, and what he needs from me. Of course, I have shared with him also. It is important to talk about these things from time to time to ensure that you are giving what the other needs to feel loved, appreciated, and respected.

If you haven’t had that conversation in a while or if you are feeling tension in your home, take a few minutes alone and talk about what you each need. If you need him to put the children to bed so you can wrap gifts or if he would prefer to wrap the gifts . . . talk about it . . . see what you can do to help your hubby enjoy the season and ask him for what you need to keep from being frazzled. There is an answer to whatever situation you find yourself in but I admonish you to make sure you make time to spend with The Lord. On days I let things sneak into the time I have set aside to pray, read the Bible, and such are days I am more tired and struggle to get things done. He really does redeem the time. :)

Remember to keep your priorities in order and your attitude in line, as you celebrate the night our Savior was born.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

A Fun Night with My Family ~ LifeOfJoy.me
Me and Sean

Nearly Christmas!

Small portion of what I need to wrap ~ LifeOfJoy.meIt is so hard to believe that this time next week Christmas will be over!!! I’ve struggled just a bit motivating myself to do things I need to do, such as wrapping gifts. I may end up staying up late tonight so that the gifts are wrapped tomorrow.

It’s going to be another busy weekend and then the big event will be here. :) I must get some groceries today and make sure Tiffany has a nice outfit for Sunday. Saturday we will be going to see The Hobbit and then it is time to paint Christmas cookies. This is a family event that Brian and Lauren come to enjoy with us. So, I’m going to have to get the cookies made before we leave for the movie tomorrow.

Monday I spent most of my day with my feet up letting the swelling go down from all the activity over last weekend and because I lacked motivation to do much. I am sad to say that I have not yet wrapped one single item this week.

The rest of the week is a blur other than the fact that I exercised with the Wii U every day except Monday. Since I didn’t exercise Monday, I will have to exercise on Saturday. I guess I will have to get up and do that one of the first things tomorrow because it is going to be a busy and fun day but alas, little time for exercise. ;)

I made my menu yesterday and was surprised, although I don’t know why, to see Christmas was already here! For years I made Overnight Custard French Toast and yesterday Tiffany informs me that she doesn’t really care for it. 80 I was stunned. She never said anything. Two years ago I made an overnight crock pot egg casserole but I felt it was too dry. So this year I’m going to make Breakfast Burrito Bake, which is something I have fixed before and the kids liked it. Lauren hasn’t had it yet but she likes Mexican food, so I think she will like this. I hope so, anyway.

I am also planning to have Monkey Bread too but I think we will make it in muffin tins to shorten its baking time . . . and for ease of serving. Tiffany and I will be making pumpkin pies, apple crumble pie, pumpkin bars, and probably apple cake for Christmas day.

The way things are looking right now, I’m going to be wrapping gifts on Sunday afternoon. I really dislike wrapping gifts the night before they are unwrapped, it seems soooo senseless. :D

Well, I’ve got a lot to do, so I’d best get to it. Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Making it Count

ItGood Kids Christmas Book ~ LifeOfJoy.me‘s the week before Christmas. I thought I’d share a few ideas for things you might be doing over the next week or so that can count as part of your children’s education. Baking is a great activity you can do with your children that involves math, sequencing, and following directions which means you can count it as a school activity.

You can have the children write names on the gift tags for real world penmanship practice. Yes sometimes it is just easier to do it yourself but your children can really benefit from helping you.

Another great xmas book ~ LifeOfJoy.meDon’t forget to take some time and read some books together. You can even have older children read aloud to you or their siblings. There are so many good Christmas books but many fun ones too. You would not want your children to have a “steady diet” of just plain old fun books but it can still be of educational value because of the sheer reading practice, but it can also be good when you find Christmas books that can teach too – like learning about other cultures, locate the countries on a map, and discover how they celebrate Christmas, if at all. If your child finds some cultures that don’t celebrate Christmas, maybe they can become a prayer focus for a time, be it a week or month or just a day.

When my kids were young I did not want them to just focus on receiving gifts, so I had them find something to give also. Most times they made something, as they did not have much money. The kicker was to make it be something the recipient would enjoy or find useful. In other words, they couldn’t just do any old thing; there had to be thought behind it, focusing on the recipient.

Take some time to breathe and enjoy the season, making memories as you go. Don’t get so caught up in rushing around or trying to make activities “schoolish” that you wish away this special time of year and all the enjoyable memories you could make.

Make sure you focus on the real meaning of the season with the kids and remember that they are always watching your example, whatever it is . . . be it good or bad, hectic or calm. Live what you want them to become. Let them “catch you” living out what you teach them. If your actions don’t line up with your words, odds are high that they will mimic your actions rather than your words.

Be sure to pray and ask God to help you. I’m sure He will.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº