Monthly Archives: November 2015

Christmastime, Activities, and Communication

My mom’s fireplace

The holidays are here!!! Yep, I love this time of year. One thing I learned years ago was to decide with my family which activities mean the most to us. Those are the ones we will pursue this season and the others we will forego.

One of the most important things I want to remember to pursue is my husband. I never want him to think that he comes second to anything; unfortunately I am not always successful. It is vital that we keep our communication lines open and clear. I must remember to keep him in the forefront of my activities because I want to ensure that the holidays are good for him too. That frequently means keeping intimacy in the forefront.

I’ll be checking in with the Dating Divas to see what they are cooking up for any new ideas. I am considering the 12 Days of Christmas again this year. It has been a while since I did this for him, so I might do it again but I don’t know yet. When I do the 12 days of Christmas, I start with Christmas day and end on epiphany which is January 6th.

It is a very special time of year. I intend to keep it special by keeping my focus on the things that are most important to me: God, Mike, and my family and I intend to keep it fun by watching my favorite Christmas movies and doing our favorite holiday traditions.

What are you special plans for the holidays?

Until next time, God bless,
Michele ºÜº

Long Awaited Mixer

It’s Here!!!! Whoo hoo!!!!

I’m soooooo excited!!!! I have wanted one for sooo long and I finally got one!

Kitchenaid ~

Several months ago, I made some money and put it away. I asked Mike what we should get with it and we didn’t know, thus decided to just keep it until we figured out what we wanted to get with it.

About two weeks ago I saw that Kitchenaid mixers were on sale at some places and once again I drooled over one. ;) Then I remembered the money we had put away. I mentioned it to Mike and we slept on it for a few days. Then I received a coupon from Kohl’s in the mail. It was one of those that you have to lift to see which of the three available discounts you can receive; mine was 30% off. So I started looking at what kind of deal I could get there.

I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at Kitchenaid mixers or not but I was confused by all the choices! I didn’t know what to look for. I read some reviews and they confused me even more. So I went to America’s Test Kitchen website to see if they had an equipment testing on mixers and what they recommended from their results.

As it turns out, Kitchenaid was the winner of their tests. Of course their $500+ machine placed number one but the close second was the Classic Plus 4.5 quart mixer. I was sooo glad to see this because I now knew what to look for.

I checked Kohl’s and they had the very model I wanted, so I did it! I made the purchase. Yes, I could have bought it in town when I ran my errands but then the coupon would’ve expired and I would have to pay more. Thankfully they did have free shipping available for orders over a certain amount . . . clearly, I met this criterion. ;)

I ordered it over a week before Thanksgiving so I hoped it would arrive in time for my Thanksgiving baking but the estimated delivery date was from Wednesday before Thanksgiving to the following Tuesday or Wednesday. I was not happy about that but prayed that it would arrive in time for my baking day. A few days later I got the shipping confirmation email with the tracking number.

Tuesday morning I decided to track the shipment just to see where it was and if I’d have any chance of having it by the next day. I had already had a visit from FedEx that morning, delivering some Christmas presents I had ordered. I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was on their truck for delivery that very morning!!!! Whoo Hoo!!! I eagerly awaited another FedEx van!

I got to use it on Wednesday to make my pumpkin pie, pumpkin bars, apple cake, and Amish  Cinnamon Bread. The pumpkin pie was no real test for this mixer, nor was the pumpkin bars. However, the apple cake is another thing. It gets pretty tough to stir with a spoon and I have to be careful I don’t burn out my hand mixer. Well, let me just say, that lovely machine made quick work of mixing together the apple cake ingredients!

Now, the Amish Cinnamon Bread is the bigger challenge because it is a double batch and a very tough to mix batter. We frequently have lumps in it when we are done. I put the starter in the bottom of the mixer bowl and proceeded to add all the other ingredients. I was concerned because that bowl was pretty full. I started it out on the first speed and it sloshed a little but quickly worked the ingredients together enough that I could increase the speed . . . OMG!!! It is a beautiful machine!!!! I LOVE it!!!

I’m looking forward to making mashed potatoes with it soon. I’m also looking forward to checking out their accessories that they have available for it. I can see some future gift list items centered around this treasured machine. I’m sooo thankful that God provided the funds to get this and the awesome deal to save me money doing so.

Until next time, God bless,
Michele ºÜº

Thanksgiving Family Fun

For those in the United States of America:

Thanksgiving ~

Today my family and I will spend the day, yes the entire day, at my parents’ home with my extended family. There will be 13 of us, I think. We range in age from 7 to 74. We will have lots of food. The guys (excluding my father) will have their xboxes and play games online. We will decorate their Christmas tree and hopefully have some time in there to play some games.

It has been important to me to create a strong sense of family and enjoying being with family, in my children. I have always enjoyed being with family, immediate and extended, and wanted to pass that on to my children.

Sean bought the new Animal Crossing amibo game. It is a super slow paced game but kinds of fun. He’s planning to take that with us tomorrow as well.

My desserts are all made. The apple cake, for breakfast, is ready as well. Tiffany made pumpkin donuts and I’m ready to dig in. :)

I hope you have a wonderful day and make some good memories with your family.

Until next time, God bless,
Michele ºÜº

DC#245 Holligbaugh

iamthedivacztThis week’s Diva Challenge is to use Hollibaugh. I really like hollibaugh but I didn’t want to do a monotangle. Consequently I had to find some tangle to use with it. I had seen a tile someone else did recently that had a different tangle behind hollibaugh. I liked that idea so I began thinking about what tangle I could use.

I finally decided to use Purk. Purk is another tangle I enjoy but using it behind hollibaugh proved challenging.

I started out using wide strands of hollibaugh and realized that I needed smaller strands in order to allow enough open space behind it to draw purk.

Finally I decided that there was too much white space and that I needed to blacken in the background to make it more dramatic. The problem was that if I blackened in the background up to the purk, I would no longer be able to see the outline of purk and it would look odd – like a bunch of ovals hanging out instead of a decorated oval.

DC#245 ~ Lifeofjoy.meSo, I left a little white space cushion between my outer line of each tangle and the part I was blackening in. Problem solved. :)

Thank you!!!

I just want to thank Ulrike, Kate, and Annemarie for taking the time to leave comments last week. You are so kind and encouraging.

Thanks also to the three that clicked the like heart. :)

Here in America, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Cruise Food

Dressy Night Dinner ~
This was the second formal dress dinner. Our wonderful waitress took the picture for us. (Thanks Mary Grace!)

On a Carnival cruise nearly all of the food is included in the price of the cruise. There are some exceptions but trust me when I say you can eat more than you need from what is available. In the fine dining room there is generally one menu item, clearly marked, that has an extra fee. Water, lemonade, iced tea, juice, milk, and chocolate milk are all included as well. However, if you want a soda or alcohol, you will have to pay extra for those. We generally drink distilled water at home and did just fine with the water as long as there was plenty of ice.

The Lido deck is where one can find the majority of the food. There were two buffets that had the same food on them. You could enter from either end and stop in the middle, as they had the same foods end to middle on both sides. I really cannot say all that they had because we only ate at these buffets a few times. The first day we had Guys hamburgers, well most of us did. Brian and Lauren ate that most days for lunch. There was salad, tacos, burritos-made to order, pizzas, wraps, and ice cream or frozen yogurt most of the time. Most everything was good.

In fine dining, for dinner, I ate a lot of beef and pork. :D That probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to those who recall that at home I fix mostly chicken and turkey because Mike is allergic to both beef and pork. I had prime rib, braised ribs, short ribs and filet mignon. I cannot remember what other dinner entrees I had but they were very good.

Some days I was not exceptionally hungry so I went with a lighter appetizer. One thing I have wanted to try for quite some time is a bisque. I’ve never had a chilled soup and didn’t want to give it a try at home and waste my money. So I was delighted when I saw Strawberry Bisque on the menu one night. It was easier to give it a try, firstly because I wasn’t paying for it, and secondly because I was not hungry enough for a heartier appetizer.

OMG!!! It was wonderful!!! So much so that a few nights later I got the Peach Bisque; it too was great. Lauren even tried it and liked it. It was light, slightly sweet, creamy, and cool, which was a plus considering it was hot.

I will be looking for a recipe to make these this summer. But I do have to mention that Lauren and I tried a ginger mango bisque (I think that was it) but the ginger messed up that yummy goodness. It’s okay thought because that night we had gotten a few appetizers to split. :) Cruises are wonderful for that, order as many items off the menu as you like. Sean ended up getting several desserts each night. By the last night, Wilfredo knew he was ordering nearly all the desserts and brought the one he didn’t order, just for us to try. It was quite fun. At 22 years old, Sean is still, pretty much, a bottomless pit and can down thousands of calories without many consequences.

Here is the picture I took of the wonderful strawberry bisque.
Chilled Strawberry Soup ~ Lifeofjoy.meYep, that’s right. I forgot to take a picture of it until it was all gone. But that is the only food item I did attempt to get a picture of. ;) I guess I was too busy living in the moment and enjoying the wonderful food and fellowship with my family.

It seems that Carnival Cruise Lines is rather famous for the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake. I have to say that the Hot Fudge Pudding Cake recipe is very similar to it.

I could go on and on talking about the wonderful food on the cruise but I will close for now. If you get a chance to go on a cruise, I recommend it; just keep your expectations low and you should have a marvelous time. ;)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Marriage Encouragement and A Stewardship Perspective

Marriage Encouragement ~ Lifeofjoy.meAfter visiting Lori Byerly’s blog, The Generous Wife, for years now, I finally saw that she has a facebook page. This facebook page has several encouragements a day AND you can choose to see her posts first in your newsfeed. I do this so that I don’t miss them. It took me a little while to realize that sometimes I have to click a link to see more of them because I wasn’t online recent enough. :) Anyway, by liking her facebook page I miss fewer of her posts.

Well, recently she shared this article that I thought was really good! It is entitled, Three Marriage “Mines” and How To Avoid Them. I really didn’t know what to expect from that title but I have to say that it was definitely worth the read. So, I’m going to keep this short today and ask that you go over there and read it because it is just that good.

Okay, for those of you that need a bit more of a push, it is about how you view your marriage and that when you see yourself as a steward of your marriage, like everything else in your life, you just might approach it a little differently. This article made me think and change some of my thought processes.

There is a few paragraphs introducing the article. Please persevere to the rest of article or skip down to it if you need to. I skimmed to the main article and then backed up and read it in its entirety. ;)

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and show your hubby how thankful you are for him.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Port Happenings

Our first port of call was Mahogany Bay, Roatan, Honduras. We ate a good breakfast because we were going to be off the boat for lunch and would end up eating a snack or late lunch when we got back on board.

Mahogany Bay ~

Roatan ~
That’s our boat in the background.

First we got our free charms and free earrings. Then we did some shopping. I found this lovely all wood salad bowl. I have been looking for a wood salad bowl for some time and have not be thrilled with what I found. I had been given money to buy some things on the cruise, so I was going to splurge. The price tag said $60 but I got it for $40! Whoooo hoo!!!

Bounty ~ Lifeofjoy.meIsn’t it lovely! I saw other bowls similar but they didn’t have the lovely palm tree scene on them and were ten dollars more. :) The serving bowls are quite small, especially for as large as the main bowl is but I still love it!

Shopping MB ~ Lifeofjoy.meThey weren’t thrilled with me wanting to get their picture with the map of where we were. It was very hot. Had it not been for the breeze I would have been miserable.

We finished looking around and headed to the beach. It was a beautiful walk to the beach and very enjoyable. We only spent about an hour there when Mike realized he was starting to get a little sun sensitive, so we headed back to the boat. Sure was a good thing too, because I was a bit burnt; not so much that I hurt but enough to feel it a bit.

Mahogany Bay Beach ~ Lifeofjoy.meThat’s our boat in the background. We swam all the way out to the buoys and back, played around in the water, and the kids built a sand castle. Then back to the boat and off to get ice cream. :) Then one person got something to eat and then another and before we knew it, dinner time had arrived. :D I only ate something light for dessert that night.

Our next port was Belize where I got a couple of t-shirts and I think that is where I got my pure vanilla extract. We had to be ferried to the port in Belize because the it is unsafe for the boat to dock in port, I guess it is too shallow or it’ll disturb the ecosystem or something.

Belize ferry ~ Lifeofjoy.meIn Belize it was humid, it rained some and then right away it would be sunny . . . it was odd. I felt like I was melting; I was sopping wet. We didn’t do much in Belize but shop . . . back aboard again and off to cool off with some ice cream. Thankfully I learned my lesson from the previous day and did NOT have anything else with my ice cream, so that I had room for dinner and dessert. :)

We enjoyed the clean comedy on the evenings that we didn’t watch a movie. Some comedians have a harder time keeping their acts clean and still funny than others do. I think it was Ronnie Bullard that I enjoyed the most. He stands outside the doors after the show and asks if you have a good joke that you tell it to him and if he uses it in the future, he will credit you. Pretty cool.

I’d been wanting to see Ant Man and was excited that they showed it one night on board. We also saw San Andreas (which wasn’t that great), Jurassic World (which was okay), Cinderella (which was cute), Guardians of the Galaxy (which we own but watched anyway), Avengers: Age of Ultron (which we saw in theaters and were glad to see again), and Inside Out (which was more for the younger ones). We enjoyed watching movies on deck at night, eating our popcorn, and covering up when chilled. Yes, even I covered up a night or two because of the blustery winds and with no sun to keep me warm.

We had a lot of relaxed fun on our trip. It looks like I’ll have one more week to share about the cruise because a lot happened in Cozumel. Maybe I’ll talk about the food next Tuesday, rather than take up another Friday to do so, because I know that will be a lengthy post since food is such a big part of the cruising experience.

(Click here for the post on cruise food)

Well, until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Parts of a Story

story ~ Lifeofjoy.meThis week I’m answering the request of teaching parts of a story. Last week I shared the paragraph hamburger which could be used for a story as well, in its simplest form, since each story has a Beginning, Middle, and End. Yep, those are the simplest parts of a story.

So if you want to use the hamburger again you could. Personally, I’d stay away from using it again. It is possible that using the hamburger for two different but similar things might confuse the children. I think the story taco is a better choice. Done the way the blogger suggests though will bring up other parts of a story: topic, characters, setting, and plot.

Your children may not be ready for some of those words/concepts, so you can start out with this cute printable for talking about stories.  It has the author, illustrator, characters, setting, problem, and solution. It is nicely done and free to print, just register with your email address (I think).

Here is a really cute simple printable. It has characters and settings on the lefts side and on the right one box with beginning, middle, and end and the word plot in the upper right hand corner. I really like it. Look at this pin on pinterest first and you will see what the printable looks like so you can find it easier on the webpage where it is hosted.

If you just want a printable to remind you or an older student of the five essential parts of a story, there is a simple (but wordy) printable here.

I’m not sure what age level this would be for but it is an interesting interactive for the elements of a story. Now the words used here are setting, character, sequence, exposition, conflict, climax, and resolution. I did not take time to go through this interactive because I was running low on time and it reads Cinderella and uses it to talk about the story elements. I think it would be worth viewing if you are teaching the elements of a story. Don’t underestimate children’s ability to understand bigger words but do allow them to use the simpler words until they are comfortable using the more complex ones.

Finally, if you want some different ways for your child to write about the elements of a story, check out this pinterest board. It has a LOT of different ideas. There are simpler ideas for the younger children and some for older children, as well.

I hope you find these links helpful in teaching your children about the elements of a story from simple to more advanced ideas.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

DC244 Tripoli

I’m posting this later than usual, much later than usual. Yesterday, Tracie and I did an all day Christmas shopping day. I picked her up at about 9:15am and I dropped her off at about 10:30; of course that means that I left the house at 8:50 and got home at 11:00pm. Yep, that makes for one very long day. But you aren’t here to read about that, on to the art. :)

This week’s dive challenge is to us Tripoli. Tripoli and I are not friends. I tried to follow Laura’s tip to keep the space between triangles the same and vary the triangle sizes but I didn’t do so well. I definitely need to practice this one a bit more.

The square one challenge is to use paradox, which is a favorite mine. So I decided to use it in this tile. Unfortunately it is on a black tile so I can’t share it with it.

DC #244 ~

I’m not very good at black tiles yet. I think this is only my second or third one.

Thank you!!!

Thanks to those two people that clicked the like heart on last week’s post. I appreciate it.

I need to run, so I’ll close for now.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Canned Biscuit Donuts

This recipe is one that I hadn’t used in years and have suddenly begun making them again. My family loves dessert. Generally speaking, I’d rather have more potatoes or meat or such than dessert. ;)

I started keeping cheap cans of biscuits on hand just in case we needed a quick dessert. Sad thing is that I remember when a can of these biscuits were just ten cents and now they are forty-eight cents. But I digress . . . Today’s recipe is Canned Biscuit Donuts. :)

Donuts ~

For this recipe you need a small pot, some oil, a can of biscuits, and either powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar.

Pour some oil in your small pot. You only need about an inch. I put too much in last night, but it’s no big deal, I’ll just pour it back in the bottle when it is cool. Turn the burner on medium high heat. (I use peanut oil because it seems the best to me for frying but use whatever oil you have.)

Oil for Donuts ~

Heat oil until there are bubbles formed around the handle of a wood spoon when placed in it.

Spoon Bubbling in Oil ~

Meanwhile, prepare your biscuits to be fried. :) Remove the biscuits from the tube. Use something small to remove a bit from the center, creating a hole in your donut. I use my turkey baster without the rubber bulb on it; using this I can blow the pieces out of the tube if they get stuck. ;)

Biscuits out of tube ~

Remove the center ~

Then stretch out the biscuit just a bit to enlarge the hole a little.

Stretch the tough a bit ~

Place in hot oil . . . gently, so as not to burn yourself.

Frying donuts ~

Ready to flip ~

Use a slotted spoon and gently turn it over to cook the other side.

Fry other side ~ Lifeofjoy.meRemove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain excess grease. Then coat in either powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar (1/4 cup sugar with 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon).

Powdered sugar dipping ~

coated donuts ~ Lifeofjoy.meDon’t forget to cook the ‘holes’ too! :)

I hope this recipe will help you when you are in need of a quick dessert. Just remember to keep some cheap biscuits in your refrigerator. Now I have to put another can of biscuits on my grocery list to replace this one we used last night. ;)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº