Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Yes... I know it's Tuesday ... but better late than never, right???

My menu is short this week, since we're headed off to my parents in North Carolina on Thursday... unless we have freezing rain, of course.

Any way, here's the line up:

Monday: Risi e Bisi (Rice and Peas) with Ham and Parmesan Cheese Soup: This is a great recipe for using up your leftover ham -- you can even substitute the ham with turkey and it would taste just as delicious! It had a great flavor, but I would add more broth to it, because it really does get thick. Also, be sure if you try this out to use LOW SODIUM broth!

Tuesday: Perciatelli with Homemade Italian Sausage and Tomato Sauce with Peas and salad -- Perciatelli is a super thick spaghetti which is HOLLOW!!! I can't wait to eat it with a hearty Italian Sausage sauce.

Wednesday: Lasagna with Beschamel Sauce and Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and cream

I got a couple fun toys for Christmas... one of the was a Ronco Set it and Forget it Rotisserie (yep! I asked for it!). We made a roast in it on Sunday, and honeybunny... it was deeelish! Yum! Moist, juicy, tender. And the clean up was a super easy snap! I highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys yummy food!

Hop on over to I'm an Organizing Junkie for hundreds of other menu plans!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

To all my family, friends, and fellow bloggers...

— On this silent night, have you missed anything while you were sleeping?
—Have you made room for the King yet?

If you haven't, take a moment to do so now, as it is the most valuable, yet free gift you will EVER be given!

Merry CHRISTmas!

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."
John 3:16-18

Saturday, December 19, 2009

We are Stupid, yet Redeemed People

And I say that with love.

And don't worry. I'm not referring to the Human race... I'm only referring to the Sunshine family, as you will soon see... but I beg you to remain patient as you weed through my story. I am, after all, a woman, and we all know women can multi-task, as you'll find evident in the following train(s) of thought.

You remember that wicked head cold I got on Sunday? Turns out it was a double ear infection and sinus infection. AGAIN. I just had one in October. I'm so lucky! Yay me! Added on top of that, Thursday was my last day at work. It was bitter sweet. And no, I did not sleep in on Friday. I was up early to take my son to his Christmas party at school. I went home for 45 minutes, went back to the school, helped the teacher, then the party was over and I bundled my son into the car to begin a busy day FULL of errands and such.

My busy day started with taking Hunter to the "$5 and Under" store, because he wanted to buy some Christmas presents with his OWN money. As I was unbuckling him from his car seat, he turned to me, all alarmed, and said: Mommy, where's my CASH? I need my CASH to pay for the presents. Ok. Who taught my son the word CASH, along with the proper meaning and how to use it in a sentence? I was very impressed. And totally hilarious!

Then I ran to K-mart because I didn't have any snow boots, and the weather man was calling for 5-8 inches of snow beginning at midnight on Friday, and not stopping until Saturday evening. Then I got lunch for us and ran to my house to pick up some gifts for an adopted family, because at this point, they had changed the forecast to 8-10 inches of snow and I wanted to make sure they got to the church safely. Then I ran to get my hair cut.

It looks so cute!

Then I ran to the church to finish painting the scenery for our children's Christmas pageant on Christmas eve. At this point, the weather forecast was upgraded to 10-12 inches of snow, and I really felt pressed to get as much done as I could on the set because I wouldn't be able to come back on Saturday. I am creative, and I can draw ... but I must admit... I am SOOOO not a scenery painter. Praise God for my sweet friend and prayer sister - Lovely Rita. She and her hubbypastorman live in the parsonage, so she came over to help. She IS a great scenery painter, and was help with painting critical details. She totally rocks the painting scene.

So at this point, it was six pm, and my sleepy four year old was starved. So I packed us up in the car and headed to Chick Fil A for some yummy nuggets and a chance for some four-year old play time. I was headed to the grocery store next, and my husband was going to go pick up my prescription, and then meet me there and pick up Hunter to take him home while I got groceries.

This is the critical turning point of the whole convoluted tale of my day.

I turned the radio on. The weather forecast was now ONE TO TWO FEET of snow.


Come ON!

The forecast had gone from five inches to TWO FEET! In ONE DAY!

I called my husband at this point, totally freaking out because we HAD NO FOOD IN THE HOUSE.


And it was going to SNOW TWO FEET.


So I asked him to start shopping for our much needed food while Hunter and I finished dinner at Chick Fil A.

And this is where the story turns from critical ... to STUPID.

My husband called to tell me that there were NO carts left in the store, food supplies were low, and the lines were all the way down the grocery aisles. He said one woman waited an hour in line just to get to the check out.

He informed me that he would not go shopping tonight, but rather, he'd go first thing in the morning. I was stunned and argued that we NEED FOOD. He argued that he would get it IN THE MORNING.

Enter stupid: I agreed.

I was so tired, feeling so sick, and overwhelmed by my busy day that after arguing for a few minutes, I actually agreed to this game plan.



What was I thinking? But, my husband threw out the ol' TRUST card: "Trust me! It will be okay! I'll go early in the morning when no one is at the store." And I'm thinking, "yeah, including the manager and employees because they will be snowed in."

But he's always right. I decided to spin the Crazy Wheel and trust him.

And in the back of my head, I was already formulating how I was going to feed my family with those last three large cans of tuna in my pantry.

Enter Redemption: He was right.

He went to the store at 7 in the morning, with about 6 inches of unplowed snow on the ground, and foraged through the wilderness of slim pickings left by scavengering families with NO FOOD the previous night, and brought home LOTS OF FOOD for his family.

He's my hero.

He totally rocks the grocery scene.

The End.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Favorite Christmas Memory

Donnetta over at My Quiet Corner is hosting Favorite Christmas Memories this week. I totally forgot about it -- I tell you, this wicked head cold that I mentioned yesterday has me in a fog!

Her memory is quite precious, and is very similar to one of my favorite childhood Christmas memories... beside my father making such a big deal about checking for Rudolph's poop and even pretending to step in it while my sister and I sat huddled together and giggling at the top of the stairs!

Anyway, my favorite Christmas memory was when (I believe) I was in 6th grade, and my sister was in 4th grade. It may have been later, but I'm not sure.

My dad worked for AFL-CIO - he was a union representative. His union happened to go on strike before Christmas time, which meant we would have no presents. We were new Christians at the time, and while we knew the real meaning of Christmas, to two very young girls, it was still all about about presents.

My father explained that we would not have much under the tree this year because there just was no money. In fact, we would each only have an outfit that my mother sewed for each of us from fabric she had previously purchased.

Then, either Christmas eve or the day before, the union gave each union member a large box that contained items to cook a full Christmas meal, along with some gifts for the children. I remember getting little toys and this silly stuffed-animal thing that you put in your boots to keep them upright... and even though I didn't have boots, I would hang it from my closet door know. It was bright and cheerful, and I appreciated it so much. I held on to that until I got engaged and had to pack up all my things to move. I got rid of it only because it was badly torn and ragged, but it was a sentimental piece that brought back lovely memories of being a happy little girl on Christmas morning.

I honestly believe that no matter how young or old you are, God always shows his love through the generosity of others. It is a lesson I never ever forgot, and is one reason why I always like to pick an angel tree tag or other such opportunity to give to a less fortunate child at Christmas time.

Having lost my job in November, and facing so many uncertainties, we did not participate with the angel tree giving this year, and I tell you... my Christmas season has been markedly different. I feel like it is a sacrifice I should have made anyway, and I feel like I've missed out on a blessing, so I will be helping give a few gifts for children in a family our church is sponsoring.

Hopefully, those children will be touched also, and will remember their gifts for years to come as a gift from someone who loved them with the love of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Tour of Homes

Updated to add: Oops! Forgot to link back to The Nester, who is hosting this Christmas Tour of Homes! Sorry! Click on over to see hundreds and hundreds of other blogger's homes!

Better late than never... I tell you ... I had every intention of taking pictures and posting a great post, but was SLAMMED with a wicked head cold Sunday evening. So, here are only a couple pictures... but it's fun to peek into peoples homes, isn't it?? Enjoy! I'll try to post some more as the week goes along.

First of all, we cut our tree down this year. It was the cheapest route by far. There was a snow storm in the forecast, and I was so excited to chop a tree down in the snow. Until ... we were actually ... chopping a tree down in the snow. Then, it wasn't so much fun, but rather cold. And wet. And very cold. And just plain cold. But so worth it, because Hunter had so much fun.

Hunter was having so much fun in the snow -- he was rolling in it, running and sliding in it... it was so cute. His poor little face was so red, and his jacket totally saturated. Thankfully, he had on snow pants with a bib overall, so that kept him dry on the inside!

We finally made it home and decorated our tree. Man, was that tree FAT! It didn't look that big on the lot, but I couldn't get the lights all the way around the tree because I couldn't reach! My pom-pom, cranberry and popcorn garlands barely made it from one end to the other! And yes, it did fall over. And water went splashing EVERYWHERE. Surprisingly, though... my carpet looks nice and clean in that spot.

As with every other boring year, the outside of our home was done in white lights only. I had to get a new snowman this year, because the one we had last year got decapitated somehow. If anyone can figure out how I can keep it on my stoop without it blowing over, I'd be ever so thankful. It's been a windy, WINDY season! AND... my timer is driving me insane. I can NOT get it to work properly. I am electronically challenged.

And that, for now... is ... The End.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Homemade with Love!

CAUTION: YOU'RE GONNA RUN OUT AND GET SUPPLIES TO DO THIS!!! I'm just saying... it's THAT easy and makes a wonderful gift!

This past Friday, I made a Homemade Gift with LOTS of love! It was a hostess gift idea I originally got from my sweet friend Sandy over at Reluctant Entertainer.

She and her Balcony Girls made homemade coasters for their mothers last year. I TOTALLY bookmarked this page, lost it when my computer crashed, but then went onto her newly designed blog and was able to search for it! Ahhh -- the power of the Internet.

I was so excited to make these for a Hostess Gift for our Pastorman and his wife. Every year, they host a Christmas party for the entire church, and every year, I try to take a Hostess gift that is Homemade with Love. Last year I took Apple Pie in a Jar that Sandy posted about also! The previous year, I had a painted tin bucket with a poinsettia in it. This year? Homemade Stone Coasters.

I know that natural stone can absorb liquid, and this will make a great coaster... The one thing I kept stumbling over is... if the coaster is supposed to "absorb" liquid, then would it still "absorb" if it was sprayed with a fixative? I didn't think it would absorb as well, so I did a google search for other homemade coasters, because I wanted to make sure I had the perfect materials for this project!

I found a website that hit it right on the nose: Elegant Crafts and Homemade Gifts. That's me rolled into one semi-incomplete sentence. Anyway, she also gave some tips for using the spray finish, but I went radical and did my own thing. I know... shocking, isn't it?

Also, being a naturally gullible person, I wanted to make sure they really did work, so I tested a stamped sample with an ice-cold glass of water, and to take it one step further, I dropped water directly ON the tile and watched. Not only did it absorb, but the image stayed intact. IT WORKED! IT WORKED! WOHOOO! FYI: This is true to NATURAL UNFINISHED STONE only.

I made 8 coasters (for a big family), and it only took me a total of 2 hours to complete (if that), and dry-time for the glue.

Here's what you need:

Tumbled tiles - mine are tumbled travertine from Home Depot - box of 9/$5-something
Waterproof Ink pad: Staz-On for Every Surface ink is a dye-based pad, so that's what I used.
Rubber stamps of your choice
Cork for bottom of coaster
Elmers Glue-All
Ribbon and packaging materials

Optional: Waterproof markers to embelish your project (Stampin' Up! sells some)

I decided on two stamps I already had: a flowery-vine stamp, and one that had several words that I felt described things their family has given or taught us... hope, faith, friendship, help, strength, determination, love. Those words describe my Pastorman and his wife, and their great kids perfectly.

I gently took the tiles out and sorted through them, choosing the 8 that I thought matched best and weren't chipped or scratched. I then wiped them off on all sides with a damp paper towel, followed by a dry one (they are dusty when you get them).

Next, I applied the ink to my stamp, then centered the stamp on the tile and smoothed over it, being careful not to rock the stamp at all (you'll get a mirrored/blurred/crazy effect if you rock it).

I let them dry completely (which was almost instantly), then I cut out cork to the size of the tile (just a little bit smaller on each side but enough to cover the entire tile bottom), and glued them on the back of each tile with Elmers Glue-All. Be careful not to apply too much glue, because when you smooth the cork out, it will bubble out. If it does bubble out, wipe immediately! Also, make sure you cover every outside end so it doesn't peel up.

Allow the glue on the tiles to dry completely (cork side up).

Stack your newly finished coasters in sets of 4, tie off with a pretty ribbon and package in a nice sturdy box. Christmas in a jiff, and Handmade with Love! (Thank you Sandy for the great inspiration, and thank you Elegant Crafts and Homemade Gifts for the extra tips I was looking for!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Homemade Stocking Stuffers

Oh, MY Glory. There are such creative women out there! I LOVE IT.

Power to the woman.

Ok, I'm getting a little carried away, but these crafty women just amaze me!

Here are a handful of awesome hand-crafted stocking stuffer ideas I thought you might enjoy. Get ready, set, GO! (all pictures were taken by the creators of the item and you can see more pictures on their blogs.)

This is an adorable way to jazz up a regular ol' tape measure. Lisa from A Spoonful of Sugar has come up with a great tutorial to turn a regular inexpensive tape measure into an adorable, fun, and eccentric gift idea!

And let me just say - it turned out beautifully, and I don't know about you, but personally, I'd LOVE to get one in my stocking! Words can not describe how smitten I am with it! And I know you will be too! It looks like it might need a few advanced sewing skills, but I have faith that you can do it!!! Go grab the tutorial and leave her a comment!

Here is an adorable key chain that would make an awesome homemade stocking stuffer! It looks so easy to make, the materials are inexpensive, and the time you would invest in making one is minimal. I think even a novice sewer could make one!

As soon as I'm unemployed, I might whip out a few for my nieces!

Hat's off to Creative Little Daisy for coming up with this sweet idea!

Enjoy her tutorial!!!

Thank you Martha! Yet again, Martha Stewart has a fun idea. MONSTER MITTENS!!! If I didn't love her so much, I'd hate her. Seriously. Look at these adorable monster mittens! They look so easy to make, AND she has a printable template. LOVE IT. It looks like you could whip these out in one or two hours. How fun is that?! I think I'll try to make a set of these for a Christmas Gift swap that my FOUR YEAR OLD has at school (crazy). His limit is $5.00. I think this will work out perfectly, don't you???

Can we all just say... aaaaaaawe!!!!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Emergency Announcement

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog post to bring you this emergency announcement:


It is slim, it is powerful and it has a TOUCH SMART SCREEN!!! LOVE IT.

Go NOW. Leave a comment on HER BLOG as to where you would put it if you won it.

The End.

Now go back to your regularly programmed blog post.

Thank you.

Can anyone say... BOOMAMA ROCKS!

Another Handmade Gift Idea

I saw an adorable hand-made gift idea I had to share with you. This gift is so sweet, and is made by Abby from A Feathered Nest. It elevates the regular ol' fleece blanket one step higher!

I will share a couple pictures from her blog, and the link love too, in case you don't read A Feathered Nest. She's very creative and quite crafty.

It's a good blog to nestle into.

Get it?

Never mind.

I present you with... A Feathered Nest's Blanket / Pillow / Snugglie. So cute.

Have fun with her tutorial, and while you're there, check out all her other excellent crafting ideas! (like her ADORABLE Advent Calendar and her sweet flower barrettes!)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

TodaysMama and Provo Craft are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What 5 items are on your holiday wish list this year?
- Cuisinart Bread Maker
- Electric Skillet
- Fossil Watch
- Rotiserie (set it, and forget it!!!)
- Perfume - Clinique Happy

2. What is your favorite handmade gift you have received?
- A hand-stamped necklace from Lisa Leanord Designs (for me)
- For my son: a reversible satin superhero cape with Spiderman and Superman for my son!!! Can't wait for him to open it!!

3. What handmade gift have you always wanted to tackle?
- Stained glass making - I'd love to make a stained glass cross
- A Recipe Book from Tastebook so I can pass it down to my son when he gets married.

4. What was the best Christmas gift you received as a child?
- A set of drums!

5. What items are on your kid’s wish list this year?
- Anything spiderman

6. What is your favorite holiday food?
- Christmas cookies!!! Especially Russian Tea Cakes! mmmmmm.....

7. What will you be hand-crafting for the holidays?
- Homemade gift-card holders from felt.

8. What is your favorite holiday movie?
- Oldie movies would be Holiday Inn or White Christmas
- New movie would be Last Holiday

9. Favorite holiday song?
- O Holy Night

10. Favorite holiday pastime?
- I love watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel. As many as possible!

In order to enter this contest, you need to complete this meme, tag some friends, then EMAIL: info@todaysmama.com WITH WISH LIST IN THE SUBJECT with a link to your post TO ENTER TO WIN.

You can also click on this LINK to enter your name and WISHLIST to email to someone. I got that all wrong. I though it was to tag your friends. It wasn't. OOPS! I'm not real clever. Brain dead momma!

Have fun!

Tag, you're it -- I tried to think of a couple crafty friends of mine that would enjoy all this awesome equipment!!!

Rita at Good Thoughts, Tammy at Praying for Parker, Pam at Without Fear and Beth at Life with Two Little Vikings

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Gift of the Month Club

In case you haven't noticed... this year, I did not host my "annual" Homemade with Love carnival.

I was just too busy, and that was one thing that had to go, and to be candid, last year, I about had a NERVOUS BREAKDOWN with all the "self-imposed" deadlines for homemade gifts, hand sewn stuff, and other WONDERFUL [ehem!] ideas I had.

I just wasn't going to go through that this year. I decided I would be done early enough that I could enjoy ALL of December with my family.

And, fortunately, I'm done with the very biggest thing of all ... my Christmas shopping. I've been done, in fact, since the last weekend of October. Some things I've ordered are still trickling in, but for the most part, I have everything and I'm getting ready to wrap furiously! WooHoo! WAY ahead of the game!

Momma ROCKS.


I did want to take a moment to share what I think is a FABULOUS, CHEAP-ish, FUN idea that I came up with back in 2006. I promised a fellow blogging friend of mine (who DID notice I hadn't posted Homemade With Love, bless her heart) that I'd post some favorite homemade ideas throughout the month of December.

Here's idea number one. It is a special "Gift of the Month" club. Not one of those expensive ones you find on line or in specialty shops, but one you lovingly make yourself (with or without the help of your children, depending on the receiver). And the beauty is... you don't have to pre-make all twelve months at one time! Love it.

Here are some of my favorite ideas that I posted back in 2006:

1. Homemade Sweet of the Month Club: Begin with one box of lovingly made sweets (sugar cookies, brownies, oreo bonbons, whatever), and attach a card stating that they will receive one new treat each month. You can give them caramel popcorn, candy, homemade goodies, the options are limitless! (great gift for grand parents, aunts/uncles, pastors, teachers, etc.)

2. Homemade Love Gift of the Month: A special idea for your spouse! It is affordable, unique, and loving. You can do things like a candle-lit bubble bath with rose petals, or a special candle-lit meal for two (kids go to Grandma and Grandpa's for the night), or a shoulder / foot massage, or an evening at the movies, or an evening in front of the fire place with a gourmet dessert, quiet music, and no kids ... I'm sure you can use your imagination on special things your spouse will truly enjoy (and you, too)!

3. Joke of the Month Club: This is a cute gift for a child to give mom or dad (or anyone, really). All they have to do is come up with one joke each month to share with the recipient.

4. Gift of the Month Club: If you can't come up with a themed name, just call it Gift of the Month club! You can pick twelve ideas and list them out for them, or just make it a surprise each month.

Here are some ideas from my 2006 post that you can incorporate in a generic "Gift of the Month" club:

Italian Dinner for Two (or however many you wish)
Mexican Fiesta Night for Two
Pot of Homemade Soup (Potato, Chicken & Rice, Vegetable, etc.)
Homemade Bread
One Gallon of homemade/specialty/gourmet Ice Cream
Special Dessert
Large variety of homemade cookies
Specialty Brownies
Framed picture of the grandchildren
Fresh Cut Flowers (Costco has GREAT prices on awesome flowers)
Plant of the season
Herb Garden
Gourmet Coffee
Basket of Seasonal Fruit
Basket of Homemade Jams or Butters (apple butter)
Basket of Garden Fresh Vegetables
Basket of Fresh Gourmet Muffins
Bottle of Wine
Imported Beer
A Music CD
A Move on DVD
Variety of Gourmet Nuts
Gourmet BBQ Basket
Gift Bag full of Bulbs
A basket of Fall pumpkins and gourds

This can lead to a very fun and creative Christmas celebration. The important and key thing here is to use your imagination and then FOLLOW THROUGH.

You can go to my previous post to get tips on how to implement this gift idea!

Don't you just love it???


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It's a Giveaway!

Sandy at Reluctant Entertainer is hosting a giveaway! Hip Hostess has a beautiful variety of aprons on her site, and this week, Debbie is giving away one Melon Splash Demi Style Apron at Reluctant Entertainer's blog!
To have a chance to win, all you have to do is go over to Reluctant Entertainer and answer this question on her blog (you do not have to have a blog to enter or win):

"What is home to you?"

I love that question, and now that I'm unemployed and facing a whole series of changes, it really made me stop and think.

Here's what I answered:

"Home is where my child can feel safe, loved, and know that his parents adore each other and him. It is where he can bring all his friends and hang out, have fun, eat good food, and be themselves. It is where we celebrate birthdays, holidays and make memories. Home is where we learn about God's love for us, learn about hospitality, and open our hearts and arms to others. Home isn't just four walls and a roof... it is the love that fills the structure and makes you feel welcomed, secure, and comfortable."

So... What's home to you?

To have a second chance to win, just blog about it, or tweet it or post it on Facebook and let her know!

Winner will be announced at Sandy's blog on Friday, Dec.4. Good luck!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

My Top Ten Wonderful Reasons for Being Unemployed

For your reading pleasure, here is a list I've compiled of my top 10 wonderful reasons for my being unemployed:

1. I can clean and REALLY organize my house. Especially my "truck-stop" bathroom in the master bedroom. Ick. And I can purge, purge, purge... My hubby will LOVE me.

2. I can play spiderman with my son when he gets home from school. Pshew! Pshew!

3. I can begin testing recipes and taking pictures!!! WOOO HOOO!

4. I can go back to writing my book... which has been on again, off again all year, and now can officially be ON again.

5. I can bake for Christmas without feeling rushed and uptight!

6. I can enjoy the evenings with a home cooked meal I've had time to make - usually my husband does the cooking because he gets home at 4, and I get home at 6.

7. I can relax with my boys as we snuggle and cuddle and watch Christmas movies. Boy... is my husband gonna LOVE THAT. NOT!

8. My son can sleep a whole 90 minutes longer in the mornings before going to school! That totally ROCKS.

9. I can fix a decent, healthy sit-down breakfast for my kid instead of grab-it and roll! (he actually begged me for oatmeal the other night)

10. I can sit back and see what God has in store for us! The best thing of all!!!

Sounds like a plan!