Monthly Archives: December 2015

Christmas Eve Fun

One of the gifts I got for Christmas was 100 dice and 77 Ways to Play Tenzi card deck. I had seen someone mention this game somewhere and thought it looked interesting but one set of Tenzi dice (40 dice) would not be enough for the 6 of us to play, so I found enough for 10 of us to play. :)

I wasn’t sure exactly how much fun it would be because I had never played it or seen it played before but since I had some extra space on my wish list, I put it on there.

I took it to my sister Tracie’s house Christmas Eve afternoon. After a while of chatting and seeing what the kids got for Christmas, I pulled out my dice and proceeded to show Tracie what I got. I cannot remember who played the first few rounds with me but I think it was Tracie and her two girls. We were having so much fun, it drew in the rest of the group, little by little. We had a blast! Only bad thing was that I only had enough dice for 10 to play and we were a group of 11. Tracie played for a bit and then she tagged Lauren in, which was great because had she not done that, I wouldn’t have these pictures to share. Thanks Tra!

Tenzi 1 ~ Lifeofjoy.meTenzi 2 ~ Lifeofjoy.meTenzi 3 ~ Lifeofjoy.meTenzi 4 ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Tenzi 5 ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt was fun to play Tenzi with its original rules but after a few rounds,  pulled out the 77 ways to play and then things got really crazy! It was loads of fun. After we played a few of the 77, we started making up our own.

If you haven’t played Tenzi, you should give it a try. You need 10 dice per person playing. Everyone rolls their dice at the same time. Then each person plays independently, looking at their dice to find the number they rolled the most of . . . generally that is the one that a player wants to choose to go for because the object of the game is to get all of your dice showing the same number by rolling all the dice not showing that number on top. First one with all 10 dice with the same number says “Tenzi” and is the winner. :) Very simple.

I think it was my niece Ashlee that said, it’s family game night! There was much laughter and fun to be had by all!

If you haven’t played it before, give it a try. If you want to try it before buying the official game, you could just get a couple of packages of dice from the Dollar Tree. It is really better when each player has 10 dice that are alike but for trial purposes you can use any dice, just keep enough space between players so you don’t get your dice confused with each others dice.

I’m taking mine to my parents’ house this evening.  Maybe you have time to run out and get some for yourself.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Calendar Pieces from the Past

I’m a bit stuffy today and was doing other things, forgetting all about tangling. Then it got to be too late to do a tile and do it any justice. So I decided to look back through my calendar to see what I had that I haven’t shared before.

Do you know about Carole Ohl’s tangle*a*day calendar? I got one for Christmas 2013 and really wanted to do a tangle in it daily but I failed. I tried again for Christmas 2014 and did even worse than the year before. Now I guess I will just use them, cross out the printed day of the week, and write in the current day . . . maybe. ;)

Well, anyway, I pulled this out from nearly a year ago. These are, admittedly, not my best work but I like how they flow together.

calendar ~ Lifeofjoy.meWow, trying to name all of these tangles now is proving to be difficult. I know that the one filling the number one is ‘Nzepple and I think Ennies is the one below it in the corner. Thanks to my 2014 Tangle Guide from tanglepatterns.com, I think I have identified most of the other tangles. Fife in the upper left corner and Flukes in bottom left corner, with W2 in the middle. I cannot tell you what I did on the number 2 space.

Here they are separated.

~ Lifeofjoy.meimg126b

Here is the last one I want to share today. I like this one even though it isn’t very dramatic.

~ Lifeofjoy.meThese two tangles come from the Tangle Library app. Annee is the large one and Sabi is the squares. I do think I’ve gotten better since I’ve done these.

Well, I’ll run for now. I hope you have a great New Year!

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin Bars ~ Lifeofjoy.meI got this recipe eighteen years ago. A friend made it and it was so delicious. She made it moister than the recipe calls for, by baking is a shorter time. It was so moist that it nearly tasted like pumpkin pie and yet wasn’t.

When I made these last year I took the step by step pictures but forgot to take a picture of the finished bars. Then this Thanksgiving, I forgot to take the final pictures AGAIN!

Well! Mike was just getting him a piece of dessert, so I asked him to take a picture. (Of course what you don’t know is that he had just made me a cup of tea . . . literally, just made it. :D ) But being the wonderful loving man he is, he took it for me. Now, because he was so nice to do this, I cannot possibly complain about the pictures he took. (I’ll just get up and take another one. ;) )

Here’s the best of the five shots he took.

Pumpkin Bars ~ Lifeofjoy.meI did crop the picture though. ;)

So, anyway, here are the directions.

Beat together eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin until light and fluffy.

Pumpkin Bars Step 1 ~ Lifeofjoy.me
Ooops! Didn’t get a picture of those wet ingredients before beating.

Stir together dry ingredients and then combine the wet and dry ingredients thoroughly.

Adding Dry Ingredients ~ Lifeofjoy.mePumpkin Bars Step 3 ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Pumpkin Bars Ingredients combined ~ lifeofjoy.me

Spread batter into UNgreased 15x10x1 pan.

Put pumpkin bar batter into pan ~ Lifeofjoy.meSpread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake @ 350º for 15-30 minutes.

I know that is a long bake time range. The original recipe said 25-30 minutes. I usually check baked goods 5 minutes early; these bars are usually done in about 20 minutes. My family and I like our bars MOIST, so I take them out when there are a few crumbs on the toothpick I use to check for doneness. If the center sinks as it cools, you are going to have some good and moist bars. :)

Baked Pumpkin Bars ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Allow it to cool and then frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

I have no pictures of the frosting in progress. Oh well! Please use your imagination. ;)

Cream together softened butter and softened cream cheese. Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Combine thoroughly and spread evenly on cooled bars.

Pumpkin Bars ready to eat ~ Lifeofjoy.meSadly, I overcooked these slightly . . . the ones I did for Thanksgiving were much better, moister. Mmm Mmmm!

Pumpkin Bars

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 (15-16 ounce) can PUMPKIN
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Beat together eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin.
  2. Stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients thoroughly.
  4. Spread batter in UNgreased 15x10x1 pan.
  5. Bake at 350º for 15-30 minutes
  6. Cool completely.
  7. Frosting:
  8. Cream butter and cream cheese.
  9. Stir in vanilla.
  10. Add powdered sugar, a little at a time, blending well until mixture is smooth.
  11. Spread evenly on cooled pumpkin bars.
http://lifeofjoy.me/pumpkin-bars/

Year-Long Christmas Gift

Last week I promised to share what I did for Mike for Christmas, so here it is. :)

This took all year long for me prepare and will last us all year too. This gift is kind of a selfish gift though because it is for him to use on us. :)

Xmas Gift ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Each month I bought (or saved the money to buy) one gift card for us to use for a monthly date night dinner out.

I picked some places we already go to on occasion and some I’d like to go to and then even one that I’ve never tried before.

I put in two for Red Lobster where we like to go on double date night with Brian and Lauren. They introduced us the inexpensive way to eat there. (I just spent about 15 minutes or more looking for a post where I shared about this and cannot find it, so I guess I’ll be sharing that sometime this year.)

I also purchased two for Cheddars because that is a favorite restaurant of mine. I really enjoyed the one time we went to Red Robin, so I included it. The Outback has always been a favorite for us, so it was an easy choice. I’ve only eaten at Olive Garden once before and although it wasn’t my favorite, I believe this gift card is also usable at Red Lobster and a couple of other places, so it was also included.

The one new one I included is to Cold Stone ice creamery. We can either just go there for dessert one night or we can go to Subway first and then get the  ice cream after.

I included iHop and Cracker Barrel which both can be used all day, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I think I prefer lunch/dinner at both places though. I also included money for Golden Corral because I didn’t see a gift certificate out where I buy them. I did look at their website online and found that I could have ordered one and received an extra $5 bonus card but I would have had to pay shipping and I wasn’t into all that. I could have gone by their place and picked one up, I guess, but that section of town is a zoo most of the time. Last year I took Mike there for a date morning breakfast and we enjoyed their breakfast buffet, especially since it was switching over to lunch while we were eating. :)

The last one was money for Texas Roadhouse, which I have not eaten at in ages. We could also choose to use that one at any other restaurant. My sister and her husband, Tracie and Mike, were just telling us how good Longhorn Steakhouse is now that they have new management, so that is a possibility as well.

Now, you may wonder what Mike thought of this gift. He LOVED it! He was impressed with how much I spend, of my own money (allowance) on this gift. It was a win!

So, now you have a whole year to plan your own date night gift for your hubby for next Christmas. It could be gift cards, like I have here, or some different stay at home date nights, all prepped and ready to go, like those available on The Dating Divas and other sites. You could just surf through their site and select different ‘dates’ you and your hubby would like and print out what you need, place it in binder ready for use. (They also have a set you can purchase I believe.) Here is a link to a post I did last year about where to find some great date night ideas online: Connect With Your Spouse.

Well, I’ve rambled on a bit, so I’ll close for now.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Merry Christmas!

Xmas ~ Lifeofjoy.me

We have had a wonderful couple of days! Of course, Wednesday started with LOTS of work. I belong to the Christmas Gift Wrapping Procrastination Club and as a member still had quite a few gifts to wrap. I had no other time to do it and thus had to do it then. I then proceeded to do my baking and preparing for our Christmas Eve eve game night.

We had a baked potato bar for dinner with tortilla chips and queso. I had sautéd  mushrooms and onions, meat gravy, butter, sour cream, and shredded cheese for the potatoes. We had carrots, celery, and broccoli with ranch party dip and most of it was eaten.  shock emoticon ~ Lifeofjoy.me Then we had more desserts than necessary: chocolate fruit cake, muddy buddies, Oreo cookies and cream cookies.

It was a VERY fun evening. After eating we got out Sequence and crammed thirteen people around our smallish kitchen table but a bigger table would only have served to spread us all out rather than aid the game any. I have learned that the small ‘cards’ on the gameboard are too small for some of the older eyes in the group and am considering the purchase of two decks of cards to make my own gameboard. I will need to consider the best material for the gameboard. I could go cheap and use cardboard or presentation type foam board but I’d like it to be a bit more compact than that would allow, so I will continue to ponder this.

Heads Up! ~ Lifeofjoy.meNext we played Heads Up. Sean got this game in a gift exchange at work. We decided to play boys against the girls. In this group that meant five adult men against four adult women plus a teen and two younger gals. We gals beat the guys twice. :)

It was a lot of fun. It got most everyone involved.

Game night ~ Lifeofjoy.me
Heads Up! Guys turn.
Game Night ~ Lifeofjoy.me
Heads Up! Gals Turn.

They aren’t the best pictures but at least someone caught a few moments of the games. Here’s one more of the gals.

Game Night 3 ~ Lifeofjoy.me
Yes, this is the gals giving me clues as to what word is on the headband on my head. :)

After this, we played two games of Scattergories. When we were on the cruise we played team scattergories, so we decided to have everyone team up with someone else. I teamed up with one of the younger ones each game. Brian and Sean added the other younger one to their team, since we had an odd number of people. After the last round, everyone packed up to head home, except Brian and Lauren who spend the night so they are here first thing Christmas Eve morning. Tracie thought it was 10:15 and was stunned when I informed her that it was 11:15. HAHAHA That put some pep in her step, considering they live 30 minutes away. :D It was a very successful and very fun night.

After everyone left, I gladly filled my dishwasher (I’ll tell you about the dishwasher next week, maybe) and ran it overnight. I then browned the turkey sausage for the Breakfast Burrito Bake, to make fixing breakfast go a bit quicker in the morning. Brian, Lauren, and Sean all stayed up a bit longer to play a game of Legendary while the rest of use finally got in bed by about midnight.

I did set the alarm for 6:00 so that I could get up and get myself made presentable and then start on the breakfast. Brian and Sean make the Bubble Bread, while I put together the Breakfast Burrito Bake. Then off to remember the reason we celebrate and open presents.

I’ll work on getting a slideshow of pictures up here before the end of next week in the next few days.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Christmas Eve Traditions

Christmas Eve ~ Lifeofjoy.meI’ve heard of some lovely traditions for Christmas Eve. Some have a tradition of going to a Christmas Eve service. Personally, I’m glad my church doesn’t have one because I’d probably feel the need to participate and then I’d be very very busy, instead of just very busy. ;)

Then I’ve heard of those that give their children new pajamas every year for Christmas Eve. I wish I’d have heard about this one when my children were young. Then I heard about some that take this one up a notch and include a new movie and make it a fun movie night with popcorn and candy, while wearing the new pajamas.

Just this past week I heard about another WONDERFUL Christmas Eve tradition from Iceland. It is called Jólabókaflód which means Christmas Book Flood, or so I’ve read. In this particular tradition, each person is given a new book on Christmas Eve and then take the evening/night to read it. It sounds delightful.

Growing up we always celebrated Christmas on Christmas day. I always thought that those people that opened gifts on  Christmas Eve were cheating and wondered what they did then on Christmas day. Then I got married and four years later, had our first son, closely followed by our second son just 21 months later. Nothing really changed except now we were lugging all our gifts to everyone, including the boys, to my parents’ home. This was fine until Sean’s second Christmas when we got the boys some large toys, meaning they were too big to transport. We had a dilemma. Prior to this year we would go to my parents’ home on Christmas Eve, after visiting Mike’s family, and spend the night.

It seemed silly to come back home Christmas Eve in order to get up early and let the kids open their gifts, only to whisk them away to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Our solution was to wake up on Christmas Eve and give the boys their gifts, as if it were Christmas day, thus allowing them most of the day to play with their toys. We then played out the days as we would have normally done, going to Mike’s dad’s and then to my parents’ home. This stuck! To this day, we still wake up on Christmas Eve as if it were Christmas and open our gifts. Brian and Lauren now spend the night on Christmas Eve eve. :D

Christmas Eve eve party ~ lifeofjoy.meSeveral years ago I read about another fun Christmas Eve tradition. This family makes a big pot of chili, invites friends over, and plays games together. It’s a fun game night. Well, this sounded so fun that I mentioned it to the family and we decided to do it but our Christmas Eve party would have to be the day before Christmas Eve since we open gifts on Christmas Eve. So, we have a game night on Christmas Eve eve! :D

The first year we made chili. The problem with chili is that I am part of a very picky family and it is hard to make a version that everyone likes. The second year I made Chicken Tortilla Soup. Oh! That was delicious but when left in the crockpot, the cheese curdled and it was not as good. :( Last year I decided to do a baked potato bar. This went over pretty well BUT it was not without a learning curve. Baked potatoes take about 4 hours to bake in a crockpot . . . just saying. ;)

So, in light of all of this, if I wanted to add the Christmas Book Flood idea to our holiday traditions, I’d have to do it on Christmas Eve eve eve. HAHAHAHA Hmmm, maybe I should just be really radical and make it a day after Thanksgiving tradition. :D Well I’m sure I can find a time to dedicate to reading a new book.

I hope you have some wonderful Christmas traditions to make memories with your family.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

ZIA Bookmark part 2

Although there is no Diva Challenge this week, I am adding to the bookmark I made and shared last week. I decided that something needed to be done to the white back of the bookmark. I went with Steps. You may remember that I played with steps a few weeks ago. Lauren saw it and said she liked it, so I thought I’d used that tangle on the back.

Well, when I finished I knew I didn’t want to add anything more but it needed something else. So, I blackened the background. Of course, first I put an aura around the steps. Then I proceeded to color in the background. I ran into another problem. The microns I’ve been using have been used for a long time. I store them on their side in a bin and that seems to have extended their life. But as I colored in the background I started feeling like I was running out of ink. It got sketchier and scratchier as I filled it in. I switched from 08 to another 08 I had, then to an 05 and even an 03. I finally had to pull out the 08 from the new set I’ve had sitting around, waiting to be used. ;) By the time I finally finished the background, even that 08 was feeling a bit scratchy. Ugh! If I am going to do much blackening, I’m going to have to get some other kind of pen/marker.

When I finished it all, Mike said it needed something else, that there was too much black. So I put one henna drum on the biggest blackened area. I think it works.

Backside ZIA Bookmark ~ Lifeofjoy.meI didn’t get it scanned in straight and tried to rectify it in another program but it doesn’t look like I cropped it close enough nor got it completely straightened either. Oh well, I think you can get the idea of what it looks like.

As a reminder, here is the other side.

DC#248 ~ Lifeofjoy.meWell, that’s it for today. I want to thank Jean and Lily for taking the time to comment last week. Thanks also to those two that clicked the heart icon.

Until next time, God bless, and Merry Christmas,

 Michele ºÜº

Tacos

taco ~ lifeofjoy.meHow do you make tacos? I can remember way back when I was about 11-12 years old and my grandma showed my mom how to make tacos. Now, I must let you know that my grandma was Amish, so everything she cooked was fried or gravied or fried and gravied.

Back to my story, Grandma showed Mom to fry the tortillas in oil. So making tacos can be quite an ordeal, if it is for a large group because they have so many choices: Hard or soft, corn or flour tortilla. I didn’t even know there were ‘U-shaped’ hard corn tortillas for tacos until I had been married for a few years. :D

So here are the directions for how we make tacos.

Brown the ground meat. Of course we use ground turkey. I don’t drain the meat though because the juices mostly evaporate or something. I then add one package of taco seasoning, which I purchase from Aldi. One day I may actually put together a homemade version but I haven’t yet. I also fill the empty taco seasoning envelope 2/3 -3/4 of the way full with water; pour it in with the meat and seasoning and mix completely.

In the meantime, shred a block of cheese, dice some onion and tomato, and cut some lettuce very finely. Sometimes I heat up some refried beans and/or cut up an avocado.

Put a little oil of some kind in the bottom of a pan; I use a flat fajita griddle. When the oil is hot, place the tortilla in the hot oil for about 30 seconds or so, until it bubbles a bit and then flip. When it is slightly golden, remove to a plate with paper towels to absorb the grease. Continue with each tortilla.

FRying Tortillas ~ Lifeofjoy.meFrying 2nd side of tortilla ~ lifeofjoy.me

I just put all the ingredients out on the table and let everyone build their own on their plate.

I almost forgot to take a picture of the finished product, so I caught Mike before he took his last two bites. ;) Sorry ’bout that folks.

taco ~ lifeofjoy.me

 
Until next time, God bless,
Michele ºÜº

New Year’s Resolutions: Marriage Version

New Year Resolution ~ Lifeofjoy.meI know I’m a week early but I’m looking forward to sharing a special gift I am giving Mike for Christmas but I have to share it next week, just in case he decides to read my blog before then and ruin the surprise. So I’m going to jump ahead a week and talk about New Year’s resolutions today.

I really don’t do resolutions but I’m more thinking about some areas to focus on where our marriage is concerned. I want him to know how much I love and appreciate him. I saw where Money Saving Mom had made a goal to write her husband a love note every week last year. Now, I’m bad at expressing my feelings and not great with following through on things so I’m not going to make that unattainable goal, but I will endeavor to write him one note each month. Now to give myself the best chances of success, I’m going to set a date for me to give him this letter. I would go with our anniversary date but we like to do date night on that date, so I think I’ll go with the fourteenth instead (the date of Valentine’s day).

I am only going to make one more resolution where Mike is concerned because this one is a big one. One of the things that bothers Mike the most is the tone of my voice when I’m upset. Thus, I am going to endeavor to work on this. If I can change the tone my voice automatically goes to in stressed situations, it will work in my favor. :) It is bad enough to have a tough conversation and/or situation that needs to be discussed but throw in a voice that works against you and it is a losing battle for all the wrong reasons.

People change their natural responses all the time for one reason or another. You have to change your habits to better yourself, so changing a habit to better my marriage is definitely worth the effort.

Think about something that would bless your hubby and make a resolution to do it in the new year.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Rain, Cookies, and Lights

We’ve had a bit of rain over the past several months. The ground is pretty saturated. So when it rained again last weekend, it got quite puddley around here. We headed to church Sunday morning, going the long way so as not to hit any high water and guess what? There was high water covering the road. So we went around another way . . . guess what? It was flooded too.

So we turned around and went back home. This wouldn’t normally be a big deal but this Sunday was my nieces’ first piano recital and we were all going to meet up and eat dinner out together beforehand. I did not want to miss any of it but I was forced to because of the high water.

Tiffany and I had planned to finish up our Christmas shopping Monday but with the high water on Sunday, we decided we’d just wait until Wednesday to go.

Tuesday was fun because Brian and Lauren came out for dinner and Christmas cookie decorating night. Like last year, I did not get the cookies made ahead of time. (Note to self, make cookies the day before cookie decorating night!)

Most people decorate the cookies Christmasy, not our gang! See for yourself.

Tray 1 ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Tray 2 ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Tray 3 ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Here’s a close up of Brian’s crazy cookies . . .

Didn't wait, took a bite ~ Lifeofjoy.meHe took a bit of the big gingerbread man before he even decorated it. :D

Here’s a close-up of Sean’s cookie, which others would think is an ornament, was turned into big fish and little fish bait.

Fish and Bait from ornament cookie ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Brian turned his candy cookie into a drummer or nutcracker. Mike turned a mitten into a green fish. Tiffany made a bell into bee. Lauren’s and mine tended to stay normal.

Mike likes to go for the stained glass or tie died look on his. It doesn’t really matter though. What is important is that we all have fun and are making memories together.

Wednesday came bright and early. Tiffany and I finally got ourselves together and left by about 10:30. We shopped the west side of town. Of course, I had unrealistic hopes that we could actually finish up the shopping hitting all the stores I wanted to get to in one day. At least we hit all the stores on the west side of town. Today we will hit the ones on the east side of town. My shopping WILL be done today whether it is done or not.

We didn’t pre-order Star Wars tickets, so I guess we won’t be going until next week sometime. Brian and Sean are going with some friends on Saturday.  I’m jealous but okay with it. I’ll see it when I see it. :)

Mike has said he did not want to go see the lights at Rhema because they are probably the same as last year. He did say we could drive around some neighborhoods and see the lights though. We’ll see.

Well, I should run for now. Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº