Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Some Changes

I'm a bit of a worrier.  As much as I try to take my worries to God and leave them at his feet, I find myself falling back into the worrying mode unless I make a conscious effort not to.  I worry about lots of things.  Big things like the safety of my kids and my husband and our health and lately the economy and my husband's job. I also worry about lots of little things like my adequacy as a wife and mother and my ability or failure to keep all of the balls in the air. I worry about all of the other things most moms worry about, and a few more. The truth is that I have experienced God's richest blessings and really have no reason to worry. To alleviate the worry I even try taking control of situations that really are out of my control. Maybe that's what it is. A control thing. 

A couple of years ago the company my husband works for went through some layoffs. My husband was worried and I didn't even know it. He started "acting out" his worry in ways that confused me and I finally asked him what was up. He admitted that he was worried about his job. For some reason, at that moment, God gave me faith to believe everything was going to be okay regardless of what happened with his job. Shortly after that I was doing a Beth Moore Bible study on Luke and came to chapter 12.

In verses 27-28 it says, "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!" I shared the study with my husband and I think at that moment, although probably subconsciously, we adopted that passage as our family mantra and have reminded each other of the passage on a somewhat regular basis.
  
Well, I'm sure I don't have to tell any of you about the current economic situation. And my husband's company is struggling like so many others. His job is safe today, as far as we know, although he's been told that he'll have to take a 5% pay cut starting next week. There are lots of people we know who haven't been so lucky and are facing unimaginable worry and stress (unlike me - worrying about what might be.) I've done all I can to "control" the situation - I have a good education and a resume showing nearly 13 years with a fortune 500 company. But somehow that doesn't bring me any comfort or stop me from worrying.  The truth is that it doesn't help because no matter how you slice it, no matter how much I try to control the situation, I'm really not in control. The thing I need to keep reminding myself of is that I know the One who is. And that if he clothes the lilies in such splendor, he will care for me and my family even more because I'm His child and he loves me.   

I started my blog on a whim because a couple of friends encouraged me to, but I hadn't put a lot of thought into it and pulled a name out of a hat without much thought. It just happened to be my name, and although I'm relatively happy with it as a name for me, I've never been really happy with it as a name for my blog, so today marks a change for my blog. The new name is "Consider the Lilies." I hope that it serves as a constant reminder to me and to anyone who visits here that God is really the one who is in control, and that all we need to do is trust that his heart for us is a loving one that wants only the best for us (even though it might not seem that way through our worldly eyes sometimes.) 

In addition to my blog name change, I also have one other small reminder to Consider the Lilies. I mentioned in a previous post that my loving husband gave me an iPod touch for Christmas. Well, I'm sure you can probably guess what he had engraved on it. I cried when he gave it to me. I had a hard time getting a good picture because it's so shiny and because it's late, but here's a picture of my new iPod along with some from our Christmas (including the sugar cookie decorating I promised.)  I pray that you experienced God's richest blessings this Christmas - especially the ones that didn't come wrapped in paper and ribbons - and that you got to share them with the people you love the most.  I also wish you all the happiest of new years in 2009! And don't forget to Consider the Lilies. 
The big boys each got a Nintendo DS for Christmas, so the last week has been filled with lots of this:
And this:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More craftiness and baking

I'm seeing the light at the end of the Christmas tunnel and I'm pretty sure it's not the Polar Express!  I wanted you to see the angel on the tree.  She looks much better this size and now the kids are happy. :)  
    
I've been busy with more baking and I made a cute little surprise for my stamping club gals to deliver with their orders this week.  First, the baking.  Around this time last year I began my obsession with Deb over at Smitten Kitchen.  She's my absolute favorite food blogger and these cookies? Well, just stop reading and go make some. Now. Trust me. 

First up, we have the Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Seriously. She had me at Espresso. I *LOVE* shortbread and these cookies are so so so delicious. Ok. I'm going to stop now before I even get going with the adjectives because this post is going to turn into one long "so so so so so delicious" post and I'm sure you're going to bore of it quickly. Oh, and before I go any further, ALL of these cookies are super easy. No extraordinary cooking measures required. (Ha! Measures. Get it? I crack myself up!)  

Next came the Peanut Butter Cookies. I made a minor change to these, at the request of my hubby.  He came home from work on Friday and told me someone had made peanut butter cookies with Snicker bars in them, and that he could not go on living if I didn't make them immediately. I love him, so I did. Rather than put the peanut butter chips and chocolate chips in them, per Deb's recipe, I rolled them around a mini Snickers candy bar. Oh. My. Word! They are amazing. Here are some pics of the process.  

Here's the dough.  I scooped a small ball and then flattened it out and put the mini candy bar in the middle and then worked the dough around it carefully.  
  
Here's one all nice and round. Then roll them in sugar. Because the cookie dough and candy bar are just not enough. 
  
Here's how they look going into the oven. When they come out, press them down in the center with a fork.  
  
Here's the cookie sheet with the ones in the front pressed down. You can still see the shape of the candy bar in the ones in the back. Here's my handy work up to this point.  
  
But wait! That 9x13 dish in the back of the last picture actually contains the first of my cookie creations, which are appropriately called Death by Caramel Bars. They're the only treat I made that didn't originate in the Smitten Kitchen, but I got a lot of positive feedback on them last year so I made a repeat performance.  Here's how they look after I cut them all up and dumped them randomly back into the pan. They really are pretty wicked.  
Lastly, for yesterday at least (the sugar cookie dough is in the fridge waiting to be cooked and decorated at this very moment) I finished off the evening with the World Peace Cookies. And let me tell you, if there ever was world peace in a cookie, this is it.  These are so amazing. And chocolatey. And . . . well, I promised not to gush over each one so I'll stop there. 

Here they are in their infancy. Once the dough is ready you roll it into logs and refrigerate or freeze it. Then you cut it into 1/2" slices and bake them. SO easy!
  
Here's how they look fresh out of the oven, and a close up just so you know what you're missing if you don't get up right now and go make these.  
  
I can't decide which is my favorite, the shortbread or world peace cookies, but those are definitely my top two. The only remaining task is the sugar cookies. The boys and I will take those on this afternoon and evening - maybe while we're watching our team win a bowl game and kick some Horn Frog hiney

For my stamper's club gals I made some Santa's Sweet Bags. Aren't they adorable!! I saw them on Patti Lee's blog here and couldn't resist them! Mine are a slightly different size than hers, but they were perfect for holding a cardstock sampler ring for each of my club members.  
  
I had purchased some sampler rings a while back and every time I got mine out everyone would say, "How do it get one of those!!" But the place that was selling them isn't anymore, so I made my own and put them in the santa bags as a little thank you gift for my club pals. The last must-be-done-before-Christmas project on my list was to make a few Christmas cards. I sent out the photo cards my girlfriend put together for me, but there were a few people I wanted to send handmade cards to, so last night I made 10 of these.  

I used the Country Living stamp set and stamped the large snowflake in Versamark and the sentiment in Kiwi Kiss on the same color card stock. The Designer Series Paper is Holiday Treasures and I finished them off with a bow of Riding Hood Red taffeta ribbon. They were super quick and simple and I love how they turned out.  I'll deliver some of these with the cookies later tonight. Our shopping is done. The only thing left is the wrapping. As you might have noticed from the picture of our tree, the only gifts under it are the ones the boys brought home from school, so I need to have a couple of marathon wrapping sessions tonight and tomorrow and then we're good to go.  

The very last thing on my to-do list, which will most likely wait until after Christmas is to make a new tree skirt.  I have everything I need to get started, but just don't anticipate having time to get started on it until the boys have new toys to occupy their time and interest enough for me to do a little sewing - ha! 

I'll share some pictures of our sugar cookie odyssey in the next day or two. In the mean time I hope that you all have a wonderfully blessed Christmas and that you find time to remember the real reason we celebrate Christmas - the birth of our blessed savior. God Bless You and Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Love You Much Promotion

Valentine 

A NOTE - The Designer Paper in this product bundle is already on backorder!!  As a result you will have to CALL ME to place your order.  I'd love to hear from you!!!

Beginning TOMORROW!! December 23rd and running through January 31st Stampin' Up! is running an adorable Love you Much Valentine Promotion.  During this promotion you can purchase the product bundle at 20% off.  Tomorrow is also the last day for the Free Shipping Promotion. That means for ONE DAY ONLY you can combine 3 promotions in one.  You can get the Valentine Bundle, 10% off Retiring Stamp Sets and get free shipping on orders over $70.  Below are the details of the Valentine Bundle. Then you can click here to place your order on the 23rd.  Click on the Shop Now button in the top right hand corner of my Stampin' Up! website to order through me.  Can you feel the love?

Valentines_Bundle_1208US

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Crafting and Baking

I've been on a bit of a cooking and crafting bent of late in an attempt to get ready before Christmas runs me over and then backs up and runs me over again.  Just to prove I've made progress on the previously unfinished projects from my earlier post, here's the advent calendar - ON the wall! Yes. Complete. Check.  

Here's the angel, with 6 additional rows on her skirt.  I just need to decide if I'm going to step it up a notch and add a little ruffly trim around the bottom or just tie it off. And I need to put it on the tree to make sure it's long enough.  I'll post a picture of that tomorrow.  Just to prove to you that I've followed through.  Because it's all about you.  I aim to please. 
In addition to my tying up loose ends, I've been a baking maniac.  I've begun making some of my favorite Christmas cookies from last year to share with friends and neighbors.  We also had a dinner party for our home group tonight and I whipped up an epicurean delight of a dinner which included this masterpiece to top off the evening.  

You can compare to Deb's original here.  See?  Mine looks just like hers. Right? Right?  Right. It was amazing and if you don't believe me, please stop by tomorrow and help with the leftovers because I'm currently in a sugar and chocolate and peanut butter induced coma.  In addition, she tempted me beyond my ability to resist with these, so I whipped some up earlier this week.

The frosting was so soft that I couldn't get the roses to turn out, so I used plan B.

I also saw this amazing idea on Val's blog and couldn't resist packaging these yummy cupcakes in such cute boxes for the boys' teachers. They were ADORABLE!! I almost couldn't give them away.  Those are the best kind of gifts, aren't they?  

Here are the boxes.  
Here you can see the inside. 
Here's how they look with a cupcake. 
To finish them off I tied the boxes shut with a pretty bow and added a tag.  Some of the teachers also got a Starbucks gift card on theirs.  The ones that didn't got a gift card from the class for something else (some of the other moms coordinated these gifts.)  


I loved having a special treat to give to the teachers along with their gift cards, and I also liked having a little treat to give to the teachers who got group gifts.  Just a little something to say a personal "Thanks!" to each one.  I think they really liked them.  

One more quick update on our trip from earlier this week for those of you who are interested.  Mike's surgery went well.  The procedure took about 90 minutes.  Other than one small fainting issue, he did well and they released him at about 9:30 that night.  We flew home the next day and he's done really well this week.  He took a regular Tylenol once or twice, but never needed more for the pain than that.  He even went in to work for a half day today.  The recipient received Mike's bone marrow within 48 hours of the extraction and we'll receive an update on his condition after they find out whether his body will accept the transplant and then somewhat regularly after that. There's a risk of graft vs. host disease which means the recipient's body could reject the transplant, in which case he will most likely die.  If his body accepts the transplant, the marrow will start to grow and he will have Mike's blood in his body for the rest of his life.  The whole process has been educational and at times overwhelming.  I let my guard down after Mike was out of surgery and then struggled after the fainting incident, so I was thankful for every prayer. Thanks to all of you who were lifting us up. I'm so glad that it's over and Mike and I are praying for the recipient. It may seem silly, but Mike's blood pumped through a heart that loves God and that blood will be coursing through the recipient's body. I know that God had a plan for us in leading us down this path, and whether or not we ever meet the recipient, we are praying for him and his family. I hope that God's plan involves us meeting the recipient and sharing God's love with him, but if it doesn't I know that God still used this time in our lives for good and if we don't meet the recipient on this side of Heaven, I hope we can meet him when we get there and hear about the journey God took him on.  

I have LOTS more baking to do this weekend, and lots more crafty things I'd like to get done. I'll try to keep up on posting my progress from now until Christmas. We have some family activities we'd like to get in too, and I'll also try to include a quick note or two about that. If you've read this far, thanks for sticking with me. 

Monday, December 15, 2008

Santa came a little early

Not sure if I can make this work, but I'm going to give it a try. Santa came a little early at my house this year when Mike surprised me with a shiny new iPod touch on Saturday. It was at the top of my list this year and he wanted me to be able to use it on our trip. So far it has been a great tool to have. We have kept up on email and checked the weather and flight schedules. And now I'm posting to my blog in the waiting room of the hospital! The temp. here in Denver was -19 this am. We took a nearly life ending cab ride to the hospital this morning and then walked the coldest four blocks of my life to procure my breakfast and a steamy hot mocha before we checked in. Everything went well until they were ready to take him into surgery, when someone (who is probably now unemployed) realized that they didn't have the "kit" necessary for the donation. At that point they told us they may have to cancel the procedure! We had already done 2 hours of prep work and a delay would mean another day here. Thankfully they found another kit at a hospital across town. They were able to start the procedure on time and someone is driving across town to get the kit while they harvest the marrow and then they'll use the kit to prepare the marrow for the recipient when the harvest is complete. Praise God! Mike will be in surgery for about 2 hours and I guess he should be discharged sometime after about 6 pm. So much for a night on the town! Ha! We'll lay low in our room tonight and then we're scheduled for a 2:00 flight tomorrow. We had nearly 6 in. of snow on Saturday in Boise and there are storms forecasted here tomorrow, so hopefully there aren't any delays getting home. We've made sure that everyone knows that we expect to be sceduled at the marrow donor center on Kauai next time! Well I guess that's about it for now. I'm not sure if I'll post again before we get home, but Mike is off work for 3 weeks, do hopefully I can be a little better blogger while he's home. Thanks to all of you who are praying. I'll be sure to post an update when we get home.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A few loose ends

I had so many things I wanted to accomplish this month and, as usual, December is getting away from me. Some of the things I wanted to do can slide until next month, or next November when I'm again setting lofty goals for what I think I can get done before Christmas. Some I just couldn't let go.  

This one, for example, I've been putting off for about the last 5 Christmases.  My step-mom crocheted an angel for the top of my tree several years ago but when we invested in the Kirkland Signature Christmas tree a few years back she (the angel) seemed a little small. I've left her off the tree for several years now because each year when I put the tree up I say to myself, "Self. I'm not putting her up there until I make her a little longer." And then when I take the tree down the top is still bare.  Humph.  Well, this year my kids gave me so much grief about never having an angel (or anything else for that matter) on top of the tree that I've actually hunted down the pattern (after nearly an hour on the phone with my step-mom) and I put two rows on the bottom of her skirt last night.  More to come on that one.  Although I guess it's technically still in progress, at least work has started.  Right?  
  
This was another one I was bound and determined to finish, even though I technically should have had it done before December 1st.  My girlfriend, Carrie, and I ordered the kraft jewelry boxes for this project months ago.  I convinced her to order her own box of 100 because, "We're going to make a class out of this!"  You can see Carrie's project here

Well, fast forward to Thanksgiving weekend when I was hounding my dear hubby to finish the frames and running all over town to find the last two cans of spray paint on the planet that matched what we'd already started with, because, "December 1st is Monday!!" Well, it turns out Carrie wasn't available until Tuesday, December 2nd anyway, so we got together last week and semi-assembled them.  Well, me at least.  Carrie's was mostly done when she left.  I, on the other hand, had strep throat when she left (purely coincidental to the fact that she came over and worked on this with me) and was WAY too sick to finish mine until, well, today.  

Seriously.  I was fine when she got here and so sick I wanted to cry by the time she left.  I actually called on the way to get my kids from school and made an appointment to see the doctor that night to make sure I didn't have strep.  The quick test came back negative and I was so sick from Tuesday until Thursday when they FINALLY called me to say the "long" test was positive.  I'm still a little peeved that I was sick for so many days when their darned test could have had me on the road to recovery and doped up on Amoxicillin a full three days earlier!  But I digress.  

I was so glad Carrie came over to provide moral support for me as I applied the Decor Elements decal to the board.  I'm not sure why but those little dots give me hives.  I think it's because I always forget they're there until I'm applying the thing and then panic sets in.  Carrie talked me through the whole thing and then I did the same for her.  We were both squealing when they turned out. YAY!! I absolutely LOVE the Decor Elements products, but I do have to admit they are a little anxiety inducing when it comes right down to actually applying them. I have to remind myself to breathe.  Truthfully I do still have to put the cup hook in to hold the number squares, but I'm counting it as complete as the cup hook job is clearly one for my hubby.  

The good news on putting this off a little is that my kids will be amped up on chocolate for the next few days while they catch up on eating the goodies in each little box. They'll be happy when they figure that out.  The bad news is that, while I'm on the road to recovery, everyone else in my house is sick.  The kids all have a cold and Jordan woke up this morning with croup. I'm sure my older kids both had it, but never this bad.  I was having visions of an ER visit at about 6 this morning when his little chest was sucking in with every breath. Scary. I'm still not convinced we're out of the woods with him. Say a prayer we don't spend the night in the ER tonight. 

I took him to the pediatrician this afternoon and they prescribed some steroids that are supposed to help.  I'm pretty sure when my older kids had the same thing it was a pink liquid.  They drank it in the doctor's office and were well before we got home. For some reason this doctor (we had to switch pediatricians because of our insurance) prescribed pills. He said I could crush them and give them to Jordan with some juice or applesauce. Although the logic evades me now, I didn't think I could crush the pills in a plastic cup, so I put them in a glass, crushed them, added some juice and gave it to Jordan. I walked out of the room and heard the sound of breaking glass and when I went back into the kitchen, Jordan had taken a bite out of the glass!! A bite. Out of the glass.  There were pieces of glass all over the table and a few on the floor.  I checked his mouth and it didn't appear to have any cuts and there was no glass in his mouth I could see, so I dumped the juice into a plastic cup and cleaned up the mess.  When he finished the juice, there was another large piece of glass in the bottom of the cup!! ACK! Where was this in the mothering handbook!!??!! Since his mouth wasn't cut and he wasn't crying about anything other than breaking the glass I assumed he didn't swallow any.  Although if we end up in the ER tonight because of the croup, I'll be sure to mention it. Should make for exciting times.

Well, I'd better get off my duff and go work on that angel! Mike and I leave for Denver on Sunday and his bone marrow donation procedure is Monday and we're supposed to fly home Tuesday. Denver in December. Good times.  


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