Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Handmade Gifts and Games With the Families

Wanted to share the tin of Christmas treats I took the neighbors this year. Each house got a tin and a handmade Christmas card. Our neighborhood is going through some changes right now and we're getting more families with young children and babies on the way. One neighbor has a son the same age as Brooklyn. They are all very delightful, but I do admit it makes me feel old...

This pillowcase is one of the gifts we gave to Keith's mom. We saw the KIT at a local quilt shop and thought the fabric looked just like her. She's a very happy person, always laughing and she adores all sorts of bug fabric, including butterflies.

I worked on this and of course made an error, which meant I got to use my trusty friend Mr. Seam Ripper. Finished and so happy with the results. The funny part was when she opened it she thought we'd gotten her some butterfly fabric. Keith pointed out it was a pillowcase and she smiled and set it aside. The lightbulb came on later and she asked if I made it, then she got it back out to look over more carefully. She was stunned and amused to hear that I had used a pattern for a pillowcase and this started quite a discussion between my mother-in-law (a quilter extraordinaire), sister-in-law (who made exquisite tote bags for each of us - note to self: need to post a picture) and I about whether or not patterns are necessary when quilting or if it's better to wing it. We all were laughing quite a bit at the different way we each approached this.

This year we finally got back to playing games again. The picture above shows mother-in-law, Loni, Lynne' and sister-in-law Rhonda while we were playing Cranium. LOADS of fun and it was interesting to see what each person's "gift" was as far as charades, drawing, singing or spelling. Keith and I were talking about the games after we got home and we remember when the kids were little and we'd visit his family we'd always play games until the wee hours of the morning after the kids went to bed. Not sure when we got away from it, but after playing at Christmas I realized just how much I miss it.

We also played Cranium and Uno Attack when we were at my mom's house and again, I don't know whey we don't do it more often. It's fun to just laugh and have a good time together.

While playing Uno Attack back at Keith's folks house James took Miss B over to great grandma's organ and let her play. I swear this child will end up doing something musical or dance because she LOVES music. The minute she hears it she starts moving her shoulders to the beat and it just makes me laugh every time.

Good times.....

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.
One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. - Psalm 145:3-4

Monday, December 29, 2008

Brooklyn and Joe at Christmas

For some reason Brooklyn just loves Joe.  But Joe is not quite as fond of Brooklyn so we really have to keep an eye on him.  This Christmas Miss B seemed to be particularly fond of Joe.  We bought him a Christmas collar that had blinking red and green lights this year and she was entranced by it.

While opening gifts Brooklyn methodically took a red bow apart and used the little pieces to pet Joe while he was sleeping.

And then she used the dog as a jungle gym and slide.  He has the patience of a saint right about now.

And she loved to hug Joe.  This picture would be absolutely darling...if she had been hugging the other end!!!

I have no idea why I chose this series of pictures from our Christmas to show first.  There will be more posts coming so that I can share more family fun.  I'd really like to get all of Christmas posted before the New Year!

Good times....

Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.
- Psalm 143:10

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Welcome Tori!

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season what better way to step back and slow down than to visit a newborn at the hospital?  Lynne's best friend had her baby yesterday evening.  Of course Lynne' was there last night and tonight the two of us went up to the hospital to see the baby.

Little Tori was 18 inches long and 5 lbs 13 oz.  She is so beautiful and has big, alert eyes.

There is so much joy sitting in a rocker holding a newborn baby.  When we walked in the room the nursery nurse was in showing A how to hold the baby while feeding her.  Apparently now they hold babies more upright than they did 24 years ago - and it all made perfect sense when the nurse was explaining it.

I could have sat here all night.   :)

Good times....

Every good and perfect gift is from above. - James 1:17

Gift Card Holder

This project was made during a recent stamp club night and wonder of wonders - I'm actually getting ready to use it!!!
Only one stamp was used and the rest are die cuts, everything from Stampin' Up.  This flips open and has a pocket on the inside to hold a gift card.
I'm very pleased with how this turned out and I know the recipient will be too.  :)
We are all faced with magnificent opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. - Charles R. Swindell

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas With The Extended Family

We had such a wonderful Friday night and Saturday.  Mom, grandma, brother and sister-in-law came to town last night and we met the kids for dinner at California Pizza Kitchen.  Just love spending time with the family.

This morning I made scrambled eggs with chopped fresh jalapenos (Yum-O!) served with picante sauce and sour cream.  I do believe it is a new favorite breakfast!  Then we all piled into cars and headed to my cousin's house for our Christmas celebration.  My grandmother started the tradition - longer ago than I can remember - that we get together the Saturday before Christmas to see all the extended family.  She knew that everybody would be with their families on Christmas and this way we could all see each other.

This year we had 6 littles under the age of 2 1/2 years old!  Oh what fun and what a joy they all were...even though none of them had much of a nap.  They all played well together and just had a grand time.  My cousin transformed one of the rooms of her home into the North Pole Playroom complete with a small ball pit and crawling tubes!  So now get ready for the pictures.....

This is my cousin's grandson Max, who is not quite 2 years old, sitting in the ball pit with Miss B.

Not a good quality photo, but these kids were moving f.a.s.t.!  And I wanted to show Miss B once again with major static hair.

Crawling through the tubes was so much fun!  I think I was a little bit surprised that Brooklyn wasn't scared by them.

At the end of the afternoon, as the sun set slowly and the major cold front blew in, both babies finally gave up and fell asleep.  B fell asleep in Loni's arms and then moved to Aunt Shell and poor little Max fell right asleep while sitting at the table eating.  Bless their hearts.

And good times....

At the heart of the cyclone tearing the sky
And flinging the clouds and the towers by,
Is a place of central calm;
So here in the roar of mortal things,
I have a place where my spirit sings,
In the hollow of God's palm.
                                     Edwin Markham

Friday, December 19, 2008

CFBA - Where Do I Go?

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Where Do I Go?
by Neta Jackson - Thomas Nelson (December 9, 2008)

As a husband/wife writing team, Dave and Neta Jackson are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together they are the authors or coauthors of over 100 books. In addition to writing several books about Christian community, the Jacksons have coauthored numerous books with expert resource people on a variety of topics from racial reconciliation to medical ethics to ministry to kids in gangs.

Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. They are now members of a multi-racial congregation in the Chicago area.

They're trying something new! Not just new for them, but something completely new in Christian fiction: “Parallel novels,” two stories taking place in the same time frame, same neighborhood, involving some of the same characters living through their own dramas and crises but interacting with and affecting one another … just the way it happens in real life.

It’s something that only a husband and wife writing team could pull off. While Neta has Where Do I Go?, her husband Dave has written Harry Bentley's Second Chance.


A story of seeking-and finding-God's will in unlikely places.

Gabrielle Fairbanks has nearly lost touch with the carefree, spirited young woman she was when she married her husband fifteen years ago. But when the couple moves to Chicago to accommodate Philip's business ambitions, Gabby finds the chance to make herself useful. It's there she meets the women of Manna House Women's Shelter; they need a Program Director-and she has a degree in social work. She's in her element, feeling God's call on her life at last, even though Philip doesn't like the changes he sees in her. But things get rough when Philip gives Gabby an ultimatum: quit her job at the shelter or risk divorce and losing custody of their sons. Gabby must take refuge, as in the song they sing at Sunday night worship: "Where do I go when there's no one else to turn to? . . . I go to the Rock I know that's able, I go to the Rock."

Romantic Times Book Reviews says, “Exquisite characters coupled with God's mercy and love emanate from each page.”

Publisher's Weekly adds, “Jackson's Yada Yada series has sold half a million copies, and this new offshoot series ... promises the same.... The book's dramatic ending ... leav[es] readers eager for the next installment in the series.”

To read the Prologue and first Chapter of Where Do I Go?, go HERE


I was so excited to see this book on the review list as I just love Neta Jackson books. Her Yada Yada series is legendary and I predict this new series will be even greater.

Gabby is the type of person that I honestly would want as a BFF. She's not afraid to kick off her shoes and dance on the shore to celebrate life. And yet she's just as willing to be introspective and open to new ideas.

She is married to a fast-paced, high-powered executive who moves her into a penthouse apartment. The people that Gabby meets and befriends are so real that I would love to sit and have a cup of coffee with them. Her husband is not nearly as approving.

I read this book so fast because I got so involved in Gabby's life and quest for answers. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series. And I plan on ordering her husband's parallel novel that has some of the same characters as this book. Definitely this is one of my favorite books of this year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Christmas Card

I just realized that I better hurry and get this and one other posted before Christmas is over and gone!
This is a card I made at a recent stamp club night.  I dearly love it and what I found most interesting is that Keith absolutely loved it as well.  He's a very good sport about looking at the things I make and he makes sincere comments on them, but this one must've really struck him.
The camera didn't pick up the glitter on the rooftop that made the snow sparkle, but it's there.  And we all know that glitter is something I like a lot!
Card recipe:  To You & Yours, Curly Label Punch Bundle; Holiday Treasures pattern paper; Red Riding Hood and Chocolate Chip cardstock - all by Stampin Up
"Rejoice in the Lord always; I will say it again - REJOICE!" - Philippians 4:4

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Operation Baking Gals - Round 5

I decided for this month's Operation Baking Gals that I really wanted a more festive looking cookie in honor of Christmas.  Luckily M&M's always have Christmas bags out this time of year and that sounded perfect.

Unfortunately I could not find my recipe anywhere.  A simple Google search brought up close to a bazillion choices, so I printed the recipe from the M&M site (surely they would know best, right?) and was ready to shop for ingredients.

And then the day of baking arrived and I couldn't find the recipe I'd printed, so a Google search again.  This time a new recipe was near the top and it was on a blog, which is always the best way to find a recipe.  I printed the recipe and then also printed the M&M site recipe to compare.  There were some subtle differences and I of course agonized over which to make.  Then it hit me that since I had no plans for the day really except for baking these cookies and I since I needed a BUNCH of cookies - I'd make a batch from each so we could compare!

Oh the house smelled delightful!  And what a happy man Keith was when I asked him if he'd mind doing a taste test to help me choose the recipe that would become "our" M&M cookie recipe.  I brought two cookies from each recipe and two glasses of milk in the living room (football, it's a way of life doncha know) and we each chewed and pondered.

In the end it was a draw as we each chose a different cookie.  And what it really came down to was what kind of cookie we each preferred.  Keith prefers a cookie with a little bit of a crunch to it and I like chewy, almost not quite done cookies.  The recipe from the M&M site had double the butter, so they spread out a little more and had more crisp.  The blog site recipe had a tad more of a cake-like consistency so I loved it.

I think I'm going to keep both of these cookies.  You really can't go wrong with either of them.

Good times...........

"An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips." - Proverbs 24:26

Monday, December 15, 2008

My First Sweater!

I have finished my first sweater and it is fit for a princess!  Of course, it doesn't really  fit our princess, but at least it's too big and not too small.
I can't even link to the pattern because I can't find it anywhere online - not even Ravelry.  The yarn is Caron Simply Soft Baby and there was a free hanging pattern with the yarn, so that's what I used.  I do have to say that the pattern is NOT one I'd try again.  The sleeves are kind of a kimono style and I think they would fit a sumo wrestler, not a 17 month old baby girl - that's how ginormous they are.  :)
But Miss B did melt my heart last night when we took it over to their house.  I put it on her, but really it was so warm yesterday and she was running a lot, so I took her sweater off as to not have her overheat.  She fussed and wanted it back on, so what's a grandma to do but oblige?  Such a little sweetie.
At least now I can say I've knit a sweater.  And I'm ready to move on to a better sweater pattern now.  With better yarn.  For a precious baby girl.
Speaking of the weather....when we were driving home last night it was 71 degrees.  Tonight Keith and I ran to the store to get more crunchies for Joe and we could hear the ice pelting the window.  Driving home, the same time as last night, it was 28 degrees.  BRRR!!!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Kit Kat Bars

Last night I made the first holiday treat of this season - Kit Kat Bars.  They turned out amazing and took almost no time at all to prepare.

I first saw the recipe on Bev's blog and immediately knew this was one I needed to try.  Be warned though - they are very, very sweet and very, very rich.  Keith isn't as much of a chocolate fanatic as I am, so he just had a small bite.  This leaves me with an entire 13x9 pan to enjoy.  ;)    just kidding...

I think this might be my new "go to" recipe to take for holiday functions.  And since it's kind of a cross between a cookie and candy it will go in with cookie boxes quite nicely.

"Man cannot live by chocolate alone, but woman sure can!"  - Unknown

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Morning Routines

Depending on the day of the week I use one of three of my daily routines. And lucky for you I’m going to share my week day routines in this post. =)

All mornings I get up and do the shower routine, then head to the kitchen for a large cup of coffee. I go to one of my two favorite spots in the house and have my Bible reading and prayer time. If you are needing a Bible reading plan I highly recommend this one as you read part of the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs each day. The readings take about 15-20 minutes a day, so definitely doable. I finish getting dressed and leave for work on the days that I am in the office.

Days that I work from home I am blessed with the extra 30 minutes that I usually spend driving. Those days I listen to my now favorite podcast, Revive Our Hearts by Nancy Leigh DeMoss .  The Revive Our Hearts podcast is produced M-F and is about 20 minutes long and she has done several different series’ lately that really touched my heart. One of them was on the Titus 2 woman and loving our husbands – just great. And the end of last week she had a few days of finding comfort and peace in today’s economy. Great reminders of looking upward during these times.

While listening I pull out my knitting and just have such a relaxing start to my day. This morning I started knitting a new hat for a homeless project and hearing the needles click and feeling the yarn slide is just magic for me. On top of that I hear Nancy Leigh DeMoss telling me that all is going to be ok. The cherry on top is my cup of coffee sitting next to me.

And the pictures of Joe and Meeko? That's because they are always in there with me. I guess they want to have a relaxing start to their day as well.

Good times…..

He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken - Psalm 62:2

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Hybrid Penguin Card

This is the chemo angel card I made last night to go with a penguin themed package I sent.  It's kind of a hybrid card because I combined computer graphics with some of my card making supplies.
I bought the penguin graphic here and was so pleased because it was exactly what I was looking for!  I just printed the graphic twice, cut out one of the penguins and popped it up on dimensional stickers.  I then took my stickles - naturally! - and dotted it on the snowflakes.  The picture didn't capture it well, but I love the sparkles of the snowflakes.
Very pleased with how this turned out and I think I might look through the other graphics on this site for future cards.
And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves, for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. - I Peter 4:8

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Fabric Gift Bags

Like so many people I've become more concerned about my footprint here on earth.  A couple of nights ago while Keith and I were at Hobby Lobby (you just have to love a man that will go to hobby shops with you) I noticed that Christmas fabric was on sale 50% off.  We bought one yard cuts of three different fabrics and decided to start making some of our gift bags.  They are reusable and still so cute.

This is the first one and the gift is now under the tree.  All I did was fold under the upper edge half an inch and iron it, then stitched it down.  With right sides together I sewed the bottom and up the side, then turned right side out and it's done.  Mom described it as similar to a giant pillowcase and that's it exactly.  Keith and I went out and did a very small amount of shopping today and the number one stop was Garden Ridge to get some ribbon.  We put the gift inside and tied the top closed with a pretty bow.

And just like that a gift is wrapped in fabric.  :)

"For it is in giving that we receive." - St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Pumpkin Cupcake

I know that December makes a person think of peppermint and other desserts, but I still want to post about a cupcake I made for Thanksgiving. James and Loni got me the book Cupcakes Galore by Gail Wagman for my birthday and I finally had a chance to use a recipe.

This little cupcake is actually called the Halloween Pumpkin Pecan Cupcake in the book and the description says that it is "pumpkin pie in a cupcake." They are so right! I didn't have high hopes for them when they came out of the oven as they looked a little funny. And instead of the Fresh Orange Juice Frosting that was used in the book I used my favorite cream cheese frosting and that was definitely the way to go.

One bite made believers out of all of us. This truly did taste like pumpkin pie rather than a pumpkin spice cake like so many do.

Absolutely fabulous cupcake that I will make again and again.

CFBA - One Perfect Day

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing One Perfect Day by Lauraine Snelling - FaithWords (October 22, 2008)


Today, Lauraine Snelling is a member of the more than Two Million Books In Print club, but when she first began, she was a mother of three teenagers with a simple dream to write “horse books for kids.”

All told, she has over 50 books published. She thinks. She’s not sure. She’d rather write them than count them. Lauraine’s work has been translated into Norwegian, Danish and German as well as produced as books on tape.

Awards have followed her dedication to “telling a good story”: the Silver Angel Award for An Untamed Land and a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart for Song of Laughter.

Helping others reach their writing dream is the reason Lauraine teaches at writer’s conferences across the country. She mentors others through book doctoring and with her humorous and playful Writing Great Fiction tape set. Lauraine also produces material on query letters and other aspects of the writing process.

Her readers clamor for more books more often and Lauraine would like to comply, if only her ever-growing flower gardens didn’t call quite so loudly over the soothing rush of the water fountains in her back yard and if the hummingbirds weren’t quite so entertaining. Lauraine and husband Wayne have two grown sons and a cockatiel named Bidley, who loves to tease their Basset Hound named Chewy.


Two mothers end up more closely connected that they could dream...and yet they are strangers to one another.

The first has two children--twins, a boy and girl, who are seniors in high school. She wants their last Christmas as a family living in the same home to be perfect, but her husband is delayed returning from a business trip abroad. And then there's an accident--a fatal one involving a drunk driver.

Meanwhile, the other mother has a daughter who needs a new heart, and so the loss of one woman becomes the miracle the other has desperately prayed for. While one mother grieves, and pulls away from her family, the other finds that even miracles aren't always easy to receive.

If you would like to read the first chapter of One Perfect Day, go HERE

From the moment I started reading this book I had a hard time putting it down - that's how good this book is.  Ms. Snelling writes this book in first person from the point of view of each of the mothers in alternating chapters.  And honestly her writing style is such that once you begin this book you will want to finish it right then.

It's also rather an emotional roller coaster throughout the book.  The one mother whose entire world has just has just been shattered by the death of a family member and her subsequent spiral into misery and despair.  The other mother whose world has just been filled with hope as an organ donor has been found for her daughter.

This book also brings with it a beautiful lesson about prayer.  Because sometimes when we pray for things we don't realize the flip side of our answered prayer.  But Jenna, the mother of the daughter that received the organ gift, constantly is thinking about and praying for the mother of the child that had to give this gift.  What a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Joyful Dancing Video

A short post this morning.  Keith and I took M-W off this week to get the house decorated for Christmas and just enjoy being together.  Unfortunately, I have been sick and I finally went to the doctor this morning and have sinusitis and bronchitis...and most importantly, amoxicillin.  I've started taking it and know I'll be better soon, but in the meantime I've been in bed most of our time off.  :(  This too shall pass, but it's not fun while a person waits it out!

And since the name of my blog is Count It All Joy and this is not much of a joyful post, I will leave you with this.  I'm way behind in my email and blog reading since I'm just so tired, but I was sent this and to me it is the epitome of joy.  Sorry for the crass title of his video, but once you get past that and watch the video I think you'll enjoy it.  And I think it shows that the world over there is hope and joy and the laughter of children and adults.

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Christmas Tree at the Galleria

On Friday the entire gang headed to the The Galleria in Dallas for the official lighting of the Christmas tree.  As you can see the tree is very large and it's sitting right in the middle of an ice skating rink.  We watched a few skaters, though the attention span of a 16 month old isn't very long.
However, the last skater was Santa Claus and he did some flips and twirls and there was quite a bit of applause throughout his program.  Miss B enjoyed the applause and delighted in clapping along with everybody else.  The absolute best moment of the entire excursion was at the end of Santa's routine.  He had something on the back of one of his skates that sent out sparklers while he skated.  Brooklyn watched it for a minute, then said WOWWW!!!!  Now, when you read the "WOW" you have to say it in a reverant whisper, draw out the W and over-emphasize your mouth into a giant "O" while saying it.  So very darling.
Of course, I did hear the "WOW" at my house this weekend as well.  She would walk into the kitchen, open the two cabinet doors that house my Tupperware, hold the doors open while she stared inside and said "WOWWW"!!!  Now what does that say about the inside of THAT cabinet, hmm????
Good times.....