Monthly Archives: December 2015

National Maple Syrup Day, Crafting, and Advent Calendar

Nat'l Maple Syrup Day ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt’s just a little over a week until Christmas. Are you taking some time off from the usual educational routine? You could get your kids involved in any baking you are already planning to do.

Today is National Maple Syrup Day. Why not let the children help you make some pancakes practicing some measuring skills. Then take a virtual field trip to see how maple syrup is made. There are links to it over on Clickschooling, where you can also find links to some printables as well as other information on maple syrup.

Do you happen to be flying somewhere over Christmas this year? Today is also Wright Brothers Day. Like Thanksgiving, it is also made official by a proclamation each year. There’s a cartoon I found but didn’t take time to watch it. It’s pretty short. If you have the book The Glorious Flight you could read it even though it is about Bleriot’s English Channel crossing in France. (Clicking on The Glorious Flight will take you to a pinterest board for things to do in connection with this book.)

crafting benefits ~ Lifeofjoy.meOf course you could just let the kids loose with some craft supplies to decorate either their own rooms or some other designated place. Crafting is a skill that is beneficial to mental health, no matter the age. Even something as simple as coloring can be helpful by relieving stress. Here’s one article I found about the benefits of crafting:

If you need some ideas about what to do with your children that is outside of the books, check out this Advent calendar online. (That is the link for today’s suggestions. You can get to the next days from here as well.) There are links to printables, recipes, crafts, games, and other such ideas. (I don’t really like how the page is set up but click through the links for some fun ideas and things to do.)

Well, I’ve got a lot to do today, so I’ll run for now.

Until next time, God bless,
Michele ºÜº

ZIA Bookmark

iamthedivacztThis week’s Diva Challenge is to “Give the Gift of Zentangle” to someone.

Last year for Christmas I got the book full of perforated white tiles, black tiles, a few cards, and a few bookmarks. I have used the white tiles and a few of the black ones but none of the bookmarks yet. So when this week’s Diva Challenge was posted, I thought of those bookmarks.

I think tangles with a lot of black in them are dramatic and make the best impression on people. So I thought Umble might fit the bill. I have not drawn umble much so, of course, I made a few mistakes but I doubt people that don’t tangle will notice.

I’m considering putting Steps on the back but it is getting late, so I’ll have to do that later if I decide to follow through with that thought. I will put some kind of tassel through the hole at the top . . . probably black or maybe a mix of black and white. ;)


It probably would have looked better if I’d have added some sparkle on some of the bands but I didn’t think of it at the time. I decided to add the bit of shading in the empty middle parts because it looked odd without it. I may go back and add some more shading on the areas that are overlapped by the upper most bands; I wasn’t sure if it needed it or not. Oh well, we’ll see.

I hope you have a good Christmas. I intend to post next week too, so stop back by and see what I’ve come up with without the Diva Challenge to steer me in any direction.

Thank you!!!

Thank you so much Annemarie and Christine for leaving me comments last week! You were an encouragement to me. :)

Thanks also to the one who clicked the like heart. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Devil’s Food Cake

Yesterday I mentioned that I was playing a game and kept seeing this chocolate cake in the game. Now, cake isn’t usually my dessert of choice but if I’m going to have cake I prefer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Devil’s food cake is my favorite.

I’ve only ever made cake from a box mix and when I did, I made either a sheet cake or a bundt cake. I’ve never made a two layer cake before but that is what I was wanting now. So, I looked through my cookbooks for a recipe and ended up with old faithful, Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.

I was thrilled to use my Kitchenaid mixer. Only problem was that this recipe called for whipping the egg whites and folding them into the rest of the batter at the end and my mixer has only one specific mixing bowl that can be used with it. I had a dilemma. Now none of the box cake mixes that I used ever had me whip the whites separately but finally decided to whip them first and put them in a different bowl until I needed them.

DFC Egg whites ~

I was nervous about these because I was supposed to whip them to soft peaks, then add 3/4 cup sugar and continue whipping to stiff peaks but I got to stiff peaks too quick. I went ahead and added the sugar but then struggled to get stiff peaks again. They did eventually arrive though. I think it looks a lot like marshmallow fluff. ;)

Next up was to cream the shortening and one cup of sugar. When it is light and fluffy, start adding the egg yolks, one at a time, with the vanilla (which I got in Belize :) ).

DFC egg yolks ~

Next up is to sift together the cake flour, baking soda, cocoa, and salt.

DFC dry ingredients ~ Lifeofjoy.meThis is added alternately with cold water. I’ve yet to get the hang of added ingredients to my Kitchenaid mixer. I spilled a bit on the counter. ;)

Next it’s time to fold the egg whites into the rest of the batter.

DFC fold together batter ~

Now I had yet another problem. I have 8″ cake pans and 10″ cake pans. This recipe is for 9″ cake pans. :D I chose to use the 10″ pans but unfortunately I forgot to reduce the baking time and it got a tad bit done . . . I prefer my cake slightly undone, which makes it very moist.

DFC baked ~

Now for the frosting: butter, powdered sugar, unsweetened chocolate (melted and cooled), vanilla, and cream.

DFC frosting ~

DFC time to frost ~

DFC done ~

Devil’s Food Cake


  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/3 cups cold water
  • Frosting Ingredients:
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
  • ~ 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled.


  1. Cream shortening and 1 cup of the sugar until light.
  2. Add vanilla and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each.
  3. Sift together dry ingredients.
  4. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternating with the cold water, beating after each addition.
  5. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and then gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form
  6. Fold egg whites into batter and blend well.
  7. Bake in 2 greased and lightly floured (I sprayed mine with Baker's Joy) 9" round cake pans, at 350º for 30-35 minutes.
  8. Frosting:
  9. Cream the butter.
  10. Slowly add about half the powdered sugar, blending well.
  11. Beat in 2 tablespoons cream, vanilla, and chocolate.
  12. Gradually blend in remaining sugar.
  13. Add enough cream to make spreading consistency.

I hope you enjoy it. Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº


Theanine ~ Lifeofjoy.meI’m fifty-one years old. I’m going through the change of life, finally . . . thankfully! Over the last several days I have been emotional. I’m not usually a very emotional person. Passionate, yes; emotional, not so much. Earlier last week I was dealing with depression. Thankfully I don’t usually have to deal with that but last week I did. One day it was bad enough that I had to confess it to Mike, who graciously did goofy things until I was laughing.

The last two days has been tough. Everyone was either making me angry or hurting me to the point I was on the verge of tears several times. They weren’t really doing anything that was different from normal, it was just me being emotional. Had I not known this I could have let it build a wedge between Mike and I, and even my kids, but today is Marriage Monday, so I stay focused on just Mike and me.

When I was realized that I was the common denominator in all the situations, I decided that I would take some l-theanine and St. John’s Wort, which are both mood supports. (SAMe is another supplement that is supposedly helpful for mood health.) These help once they get into the system but until then I had to make extra effort not to take offense at anything because my family is NOT against me. :)

My emotions have really been causing me to think the worst of comments Mike has made the last few days. He hasn’t been mean but my emotions have tried to make me become offended at him and to take some of his comments or conversations wrong. Without the knowledge that my emotions were out of wack, I would have been upset with Mike and we would have probably had some big arguments, all because my emotions were riding high.

So I guess my encouragement to you today is to be aware of your body and what you are going through so that you don’t take something the wrong way and cause harm to your marriage.

In the end, I tried to make up for my emotional state by making a homemade Devils Food Cake from scratch for dessert last night. I believe all was forgiven. ;) Truth be told, I was playing a game yesterday afternoon and one of the items I kept seeing was a Devils Food Cake and it made me want some. I mentioned it and was met with both Mike and Sean telling me what a good idea it was for me to make one. :)

Until next time, God bless,
Michele ºÜº

Christmas Movies and My Week

As anticipated, last weekend was a nice restful one. But unfortunately I did not get started on my wrapping. I have no idea why I’m procrastinating but alas, it appears that I am. It seems I’m procrastinating on a lot of things of late . . . not good. :\

Tuesday Lunch ~ Lifeofjoy.meTuesday I went into town to have lunch with Lauren, my daughter-in-love. We went looking around the dollar spot in Target, then to Chick-fil-a for lunch and then we wandered through Michael’s.

We took this picture after we finished lunch. It was the third or fourth take and just after she took it, I realized my hair was in my face. Now when I actually see it clearly, I noticed that my hair was really messed up, but I’m not letting that keep me from sharing it anyway. It was funny because we were just about to leave and it struck me that, yet again, I hadn’t gotten a picture.

I was supposed to go through my gifts and see what I had yet to buy Wednesday and Thursday all week long. I really have no idea what my problem is . . . I just need to buckle down and do the things I need to do. ;)

I did watch a few good Christmas movies this week. Two new ones that I watched and enjoyed were 12 Gifts of Christmas and Ice Sculpture Christmas. One we added last year was Trading Christmas, which turned out to be Tiffany’s new favorite. She watched it several quite a few times last year. All of those are Christmas romantic comedies.

Some of my other favorite Christmas romantic comedies are The Christmas Card, Recipe for a Perfect Christmas, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Boyfriend for Christmas, Santa Clause 2, and Eve’s Christmas.  We also like Elf, Carol’s Christmas, and 12 Days of Christmas Eve (the last one does have one or two scenes that you will want to skip over).

When the kids were little, we didn’t do Christmas movies with Santa in them. I did let them watch the Christmas cartoon specials with Santa in them. Later when they were older and I was sure they wouldn’t get confused, then I let them watch others.

There are only a couple of the older Christmas movies I like. It’s a Wonderful Life and Desk Set are basically it. I’m not much for musicals so the old White Christmas and . . . whatever that other popular one is, are not on our viewing list.

Well, I guess I’ll run for now. I hope you have a good weekend and are creating memories as you mark things off your to-do list.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Logic Puzzles

Old Puzzle Magazine ~ Lifeofjoy.meMy niece recently found an app on her kindle fire tablet where she discovered logic puzzles. My sister was thrilled and tried not to show it, so as to keep her interested. You know how it is, your child shows interest in something and you get all excited and the more excited you are the less interest they show.

I, on the other hand, was not introduced to the joys of logic puzzles until my first year in college. Seriously! But then I was hooked. I proceeded to find and purchase a few logic puzzle magazines. I used to do the puzzles with my sister. I’ve still got some of those magazines. ;) Clearly, I don’t do them very often.

BUT . . . since she mentioned this to me, I decided to look online for easy logic puzzles to  print and logic puzzle books for kids to purchase. I also decided see what areas are helped by doing these puzzles. Of course, logical thinking has got to be one such benefit.

Well, I ran across this webpage that shared benefits of different puzzles and also shared how to do logic puzzles. Check it out.

Here are some links to some printable logic puzzles for kids (and some adults too).

Online Puzzles

  • Puzzle Baron’s (Click on Solve A Logic Puzzle at the end of the first paragraph)

While you are looking at puzzles, don’t forget the old faithful ones: word search and fill-ins or Kris-Kros and sudoku. There is a puzzle magazine that has a larger variety of puzzles in it. This is a good investment because it can introduce you and your children to a wide variety of puzzles and you never know which ones will be the favorites. ;)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Steps and Diva Challenge

I really do need to take some time over the weekends to tangle. I really enjoy it once I actually put pen to paper but actually putting down my laptop long enough to do so is the trick.

I shared my first feeble attempts at steps last week. This week I decided to include it in my diva challenge tile. I went with the simple zigzag baseline for steps. Actually, that is where the majority of my struggle comes in when doing this tangle.

iamthedivacztThis week’s diva challenge is a Use My Tangle (UMT) challenge. The UMT for the week is African Artist by Tina-Akua Hunziker. I thought drawing it largely in the background would be easiest. I’m not thrilled with the results.

DC#247 ~

I had a hard time with the diagonal lines in African Artist, knowing where to draw them on the alternating columns.

I also don’t like how muddy or dark the tile is. I prefer tiles that have stark contrasts. And while I’m being critical ;) I should have darkened it in around the edges, so it looks neater and not so messy.

On the plus side, I do like the steps here, for the most part.

Thank you!!!

Once again, I want to thank those that took the time to leave me some comment love last week. :) It was very kind of you: Anja, Annemarie, Yorkshire Tortoise, and Maggibee. Thanks also to the two that clicked on the heart icon. :)

Maggibee, I tend to be hard on myself. ;) I did see the curved version of steps but figured I should figure it out with the regular one first before trying my hand at a variation. I do like the tangle but that starting zigzag line gets me . . . the directions are to draw a random line and she draws it very random. When I try to do random, I get stumped. :D

I was in a hurry to do my tile last week and was thinking through what tangles I knew that looked like both bark and leaves, since we were to only use one tangle. Amaze can be done in a hurry because there is really no set steps to drawing it. Of course when I first tried it, I struggled with it too because it is free-flowing and I do better with well defined directions . . . thus my struggle with steps and its “random” beginning line. ;)

Well, I’m off. It’s that busy time of the year and I need to see where I stand with my shopping, just how close am I to having it all done, really.

Hope you are getting your Christmas preparations done too.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Egg Frames

Egg Frame ~ Lifeofjoy.m3
I over cooked this one slightly today. I usually like my yolk a bit runny.

Today’s recipe is one I hesitated to even try because it seemed like a lot of work for just a fried egg inside the crust of a piece of toast. I’m so glad I did try it though because it is really very good and not what I expected. Neither is it very much work.

Sean is also very glad I tried these because he really likes these. So David C., you might want to give these a try. ;)

First, lightly toast a piece of bread. Any kind of bread will do; I used Ezekiel today. Butter it lightly on each side and cut out the center. I used a biscuit cutter; Sean has used a glass before but you could use anything, even a cookie cutter. You’re looking for something the size of a circle with a 2″ diameter or so. Then turn the burner on medium-low heat, place the toast on your pan and add about a half teaspoon of butter or coconut oil or even ghee in the middle, so your egg doesn’t stick.

Egg Frame on pan with butter ~ lifeofjoy.meCrack your egg into the middle of the toast on the melted butter.

Egg Frame step 3 ~ Lifeofjoy.meYou can add a little salt and pepper if you desire. Then put a lid over it so the heat will cook the top of the egg as well as the bottom. Remove the lid and check the progress. You can lightly touch the egg to see how set the yolk is. I failed to do this today and ended up cooking my egg completely.

Egg Frame step 4 ~ Lifeofjoy.meUnfortunately the flash made the egg too bright. :(

While the egg is cooking, take the toast cut-out and a bit of Parmesan cheese and place in a blender or mini food processor.

Broken toast cut-out and parmesan ~ blurry picture because I took it without my glasses on and it focused on the blade instead of ingredients.)

Blend until all is finely chopped/nicely crumbled.

Egg Frame Topping ready ~ blurry picture . . . same reasons as previous.)

Sprinkle the topping on top of the egg frame and serve. :)

Egg Frame Ready to eat ~ Lifeofjoy.meEgg Frame ~ Lifeofjoy.m3

Egg Frames


  • Bread
  • Butter
  • Egg
  • 1½ teaspoons Parmesan Cheese


  1. Toast the bread, lightly.
  2. Butter it lightly on both sides.
  3. Remove approximately 2" diameter piece from center of toast.
  4. Place toast in pan and turn heat on medium-low.
  5. Place ½ teaspoon butter on the pan in the middle of the toast.
  6. When butter is melted, add the egg and season with salt and pepper as desired. Cover pan.
  7. Meanwhile, break-up the toast cut-out and put in mini processor with parmesan cheese. Process until toast and cheese are nicely crumbled.
  8. When egg is done as you desire, remove to plate and top with the toast and cheese crumbles.
  9. Enjoy!!!

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Differences of Opinion

Waving-white-flagSome times there is a difference of opinion between Mike and I. In general that is fine and we just agree to disagree but sometimes that cannot be done. Some times one person has to give in, like whether you are going to spend money on a particular item or not or do a specific thing or not. In these instances someone either has to be swayed by the argument of the other or one just has to give in.

How do you handle these things? I don’t handle them well all the time. Sometimes it is an easy call and not that big of a deal but other times it takes a complete bending of the will. And guess who’s will gets bent. ;) Yep, I feel it is generally my duty to give in (be submissive). Of course that does not come until it is a last resort though. ;) hee hee Disclaimer:  this does not hold true for abuse and such.

I’m not one that is afraid to argue. I don’t think an argument is a problem . . . if you fight fair. There can be no name calling or throwing up past faults or even pulling in other subjects. It is also important not to carry it too long. If you cannot come to an agreement, table the conversation, if possible, and pray about the situation, then bring it up again.

I have found that there is no good time to talk to Mike about certain subjects. There just isn’t. As you would guess, before bed is out because that would cause him not to be able to sleep. When he first gets home is out too because he needs to decompress from his job. Dinner time is not good either because, well, who wants to mess up a good dinner. Evening is bad too because he’s relaxing. In the morning before work is not good because he is getting ready for work and mentally preparing for his day. And I just don’t think it would be a good idea to call him while he is at work. ;) So you see? There is no good time to broach a subject that is a potential hot topic.

So what do I do? I feel out each potential time on an individual basis and pick the one that seems best to me at the time. :) I also try to soften it by asking him to just hear me out and then I present the situation as succinctly as possible. The important thing is to know when to table the discussion . . . that is usually the point when no new information is being discussed.

Now it is important not to be mean or rude for the rest of the day. Don’t pout or give the “silent treatment” as that isn’t fighting fair either. Giving him the cold shoulder isn’t a mature way to handle things either.

One thing I have learned to do is to mention the topic lightly when I first learn about it to break him into the topic. Don’t sit on it and wait and wait to bring it up because you don’t know how and you’re pretty sure it is a hot topic . . . giving him a longer time to let God deal with him and mull over the points I’ve brought up . . . and vice-versa.

I hope these thoughts will help you the next time you have a difference of opinion with your beloved.

Until next time, God bless,
Michele ºÜºWaving-white-flag

December Already and Cinnamon Bear

Christmas Blessing ~
My parents, me, Tracie, Kelcey, Ashlee and Macie on the HANDS ministry bus loaded with most of the presents. There are bikes down the center aisle and bags in each seat, even on the left side, they’re just more compact than the ones on the right.

Wow! What a busy week! It is a good thing I rested up last weekend – well after thanksgiving, that is. Monday I intended to get some major cleaning done but unfortunately, I got caught up working on verifying our Christmas funds and going through receipts and didn’t get very much extra cleaning done. :\  Mike and I had a good day together though, since he had the day off.

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent helping my sister prepare for the Christmas Blessing that she and her husband are doing through their ministry – H.A.N.D.S. They had some last minute shopping to do yesterday to finish up the gifts, so that we can finish bagging them all today. It’s probably going to be a long day but enjoyable because we always have fun working together. :)

Yesterday Tiffany and I ran some errands. We were gone for about four and a half hours. For dinner we had leftover turkey dinner with freshly made mashed potatoes and noodles.  It was a good meal . . . I love turkey dinner leftovers! :)

I don’t have much of anything planned this weekend but come Monday I intend to finish going through my Christmas list and seeing what I have yet to purchase. I did buy Christmas wrapping paper yesterday, so I can also start wrapping. I’d begin over the weekend but I make quite a mess when I wrap and the clutter bothers Mike, so I choose to do most of the wrapping while he is not home.

It’s hard to believe that the first week of December is already gone. It doesn’t feel like November, let alone December. It only feels like September or maybe October . . . forget that we’ve already celebrated Thanksgiving. It just isn’t feeling like Christmas time . . . I’m doing all the usual things, and at least the temperature is cooperating, but I’m still not feeling like it is December. I’ve had this problem all year long. I thought that at some point my internal clock would catch up but that hasn’t happened yet.

Cinnamon Bear ~ Lifeofjoy.meOh! One more thing before I go. For any of you that have not yet started Cinnamon Bear for the advent season, there is still time . . . well, actually the episodes are short enough that you can easily catch up.

Don’t know who or what Cinnamon Bear is? Cinnamon Bear is an old radio show with 26 episodes; it is an adventure of Paddy O’Cinnamon. Here is a synopsis if you want to know more details. On this webpage you will find all 26 of the audios. Finally, if you go to this page, go down to Now Try Download Land, you can download the original coloring book (mind you they are very childish drawings) that your kids can color while listening or later for fun.

Now, go download the audios and make some memories with your kids. :)

Until next time, God bless,
Michele ºÜº