Saturday, December 17, 2011

24 Christmas Gifts for under $8!?

This year has been filled with many things that have literally drained my family's bank account.  From multiple surgeries that my husband has had to undergo, to growing children that eat more food than I ever imagined possible, household and car repairs, to ever-increasing medical expenses, this year was definitely one of "pinching pennies." Yet, I am deeply thankful for the financially unstable year that my family has endured.  A crazy thing to be thankful for?  It may sound that way on the surface, but thinking back over the last year, God has shown me so many new things about Himself that I definitely would not have been able to see if more money had been in my bank account.

I also love the creativity that comes from these seasons in our life.  In our house, things have been fixed, not replaced.  We've learned to grab a sweater or blanket, rather than heating the house a couple of degrees more.  My children have re-discovered things they forgot they had, like Legos, Play-Doh, Nerf guns, and model car kits.  And we're happy. :)

When thinking about Christmas gifts for our extended family, we knew giving gifts to everyone this year was going to be impossible.  But, after doing some browsing of craft web sites, I came up with a few ideas for things we could make inexpensively to give as gifts.  As a family, we decided on painted Christmas ornaments, using our fingerprints.  I already had paint that we could use and I found clear glass ornaments and frosted glass ornaments at Hobby Lobby for 50% off.  Total cost to make 24 gifts: $7.42.  God had provided us with an affordable way to give gifts!

As I dipped my daughter's little fingers in paint and then my sons', it became clear that these were not going to be just cute, they would be ADORABLE!  All five of us chose a character to create from our fingerprints and decorated each ornament.  Doug made a Santa Claus, I made a wreath, Ian made a penguin, Brodie made a snowman, and Ellery made a reindeer.  I then wrote our names and the date along the bottom and these little masterpieces are ready for gift-giving!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Favorite Christmas Cookies

Each of my boys has their favorite cookies that they love to bake or decorate with me at Christmastime.  We made Brodie's favorite cookies---Green Holly Cookies.  They probably have a fancier, official name.  My mom called them wreath cookies, as they are supposed to be shaped into little wreaths.  (This takes far too much time and effort to be worth it since they will be gobbled up quickly!  They are just as pretty and yummy as holly leaves.) 

This recipe was given to my mother by my dear preschool teacher, Miss Jean, when I was three years old.  My mom made them every year after that and my boys and I do the same.  Ellery will join in the fun some day, but this year she was much more interested in sneaking Red Hot candies to share with her Daddy, than actually helping with the cookies.


Green Holly Cookies

1 Package Marshmallows
4 Tablespoons of Butter
6 Cups of Corn Flakes
Green Food Coloring
Red Hot Candies

Melt marshmallows and butter in a large saucepan over low-medium heat.  When completely melted, add enough green food coloring to tint the mixture a deep green color.  Remove from heat and stir in the Corn Flakes.  Mix and stir until the flakes are completely covered in green goo.  

Work quickly to prevent the mixture from hardening and drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper.  Place three Red Hot Candies on each clump to resemble a holly leaf (this part is great for kids to help with and my boys' favorite step).  Allow to cool and harden slightly before enjoying. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Because Baking Bread Takes A Long Time...

I like baking bread.  My family likes eating bread.  The problem, however, is that baking bread takes a long time.  I begin my day reading God's Word, having coffee with my husband, homeschooling my children, reading emails, loading the dishwasher, wiping up muddy paw prints from my dear Golden Retriever, changing diapers, vacuuming up muffin crumbs, and sorting laundry.  By the time my brain catches up and I think about baking bread to go with our dinner, it's late afternoon and by the time I finish mixing, letting dough rise, shaping and baking, it will be bedtime before our bread is done.

Which is why I am thankful to have found the "60-Minute Dinner Rolls" recipe from Phyllis Pellman Good's book, Fix-It and Enjoy-It Cookbook.  As promised, these dinner rolls bake up quickly and easily, even when a two-year-old, dough-tasting little girl is my co-chef.  They aren't the most wonderful dinner rolls I've ever tasted, but on a Thursday night when I've had the kind of day that makes me question whether or not I'm really awake or if I'm dreaming, they will do.  My husband and 2/3 of my children like them, which is success in my opinion!  

Here is the recipe:

60-Minute Dinner Rolls (Makes 2 dozen)

2 1/2 tsp dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 cups flour

In a large mixing bowl, add yeast and sugar to warm milk.  Stir to dissolve.  Let stand 15 minutes.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Mix well.  Cover and let stand in a warm place for 15-20 minutes, or until double in size.  Form 24 rolls, each the size of an egg.  Place on greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


This hat turned out a lot cuter than I pictured in my mind!  I like how it curves in at the top perfectly and the sparkly, pink flower adds just the right amount of adorable to it. 

I have begun knitting hats just recently.  I know most people start out with knitting hats when learning to knit, but I jumped right in making stuffed animals!  I missed out on the rewarding feeling that knitting a hat brings.  I can usually complete one, start to finish within three evenings. This depends on how long it takes my husband to say something like,  "How many more rows until you can turn out the light!?".  He's not fond of my knitting-in-bed habit when it carries on after he's ready to sleep.  Before you feel too sorry for him, know that he has his own set of annoying habits. ;)

Now that the aqua-colored hat is finished, I'm ready to start a new one!  I haven't yet decided what the next one will be, but I am sure it will be just as exciting to finish.

If you'd like to purchase this hat, check out the link below:

A Yarn Called, "Cranberry-Red" Must Be Knitted Into A Christmas Sweater!

I finally finished the cranberry-red, Christmas sweater that I've been working on for what seems like forever!  I started this sweater in September and kept making smaller, easy-to-finish projects instead of working on it.  Originally, this was supposed to be for Ellery (my adorable two-year-old daughter!) but it is a bit too big for her.  And I'm afraid it will be too small by next winter, so you can find it in my Etsy Shop! Here is a link:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Tree Hunting

We got our Christmas tree on Friday, a sixty-degree day in late November, a rare treat in Michigan!  After searching and searching, we finally found "the" tree.  On our tree-hunting adventure, we ran into some dear friends.  I love how God always surrounds us with people we love.  They found the perfect tree as well--who would have thought that there would be TWO perfect trees right next to each other!?  :)

Our friends, Jay and Shannon, with their adorable boys, Brayden and Camden.

Watching Dad chop down the tree is always so interesting!

Ian, Brodie, Ellery, and I with our freshly chopped Christmas tree.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Visiting With Santa---A Thanksgiving Tradition

While we celebrate Christmas with our focus is most definitely on Christ and His birth, this has become a fun little tradition for us.  After years of waiting in line for hours to see Santa, we have made it our family tradition to visit with Santa the day before Thanksgiving.  A little backwards, I know, but it works for us.  We have done this for the past few years and there is no line at all!  Plus, Santa is more willing to chat with the kids for a while so that Momma can take lots of cute pictures.

My oldest son is thirteen this year, what he considers "way too old" to visit Santa, but he loves me and puts up with my crazy ideas for now!  My younger son is ten and is stuck in that "I don't believe in Santa, but I wish I did" phase, so he didn't mind (yes, he has a black eye in this picture--a backyard football incident).  My daughter didn't cry and even willingly went right into Santa's arms (if you have ever met my daughter, you know this is strange!).  When asked what she wanted, she replied, "presents."

I love my Santa pictures with the kids.  It's a fun way to see how much they grow each year; from babies in Santa's arms to boys too big for laps, who have to sit next to Santa in his seat.  I hope they continue to humor me for many more years as they pose with this jolly guy on the day before Thanksgiving.  Maybe their future spouses will join us some day!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I was blessed to have a real-live person teach me to knit, but a web site that helped me (and continues to help me as I continue to learn!) is  This site has some great beginner patterns and also has videos that demonstrate different knitting techniques.  

I tried reading books about knitting and watching different YouTube videos to learn how to knit, but none of it "clicked" with me!  The videos on this site are easy-to-follow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An Owl Hat

The idea for this cute owl hat designed itself in my head at 4:23am one morning!  I've seen similar owl hats and wanted mine to be simple and adorable at the same time.  The hat is knitted in stockinette stitch with a ribbed bottom edge.  The eyes are knitted as well, with a button "pupil" and the beak is a triangle knitted in garter stitch.  

This little hat was such fun to make!  It will fit a toddler-sized head or a small child.  It's also machine washable and dries quickly (a great thing after a day of playing in the snow!).   You can find it in my Etsy shop at: or contact me to special order one in sizes infant through adult.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Welcome To My New Blog!

Not long ago, I was sitting in yet another waiting room, re-reading magazines I'd read the last time I was there.  I was frustrated with so much of my time being consumed with waiting and feeling unproductive.  Later that day, I mentioned on Facebook that I wanted to learn how to knit so that I could use my waiting to create something.  I was overwhelmed at the number of people who offered to teach me!  Thankfully, one of my neighbors brought over some yarn and a pair of needles and patiently showed my how to knit.

God chose for me to be the wife of my husband, Doug, who has ongoing medical issues that require many surgeries, hospital stays, and doctor visits.  Doug has Crohn's Disease, which had caused just a couple of simple surgeries and mild health issues over the course of our marriage.  But in the summer of 2009, when I was six months pregnant with our third child, Doug's health changed dramatically.  A trip to the emergency room with an obstructed bowel turned into a Staph Infection, a surgical wound that took over a year to heal even with the use of a wound vacuum, and multiple other surgeries to remove scar tissue, portions of intestine and colon.  He has yet to experience complete healing and currently has a partial bowel obstruction that may or may not become fully-obstructed.  We've learned to stop questioning this and are content with living in the middle of God's will for our family.

What a journey this has been and continues to be, for not just Doug and I, but also for our three amazing, godly, beautiful, hilarious, wonderful children: Ian (13), Brodie (10) and Ellery (2).  What sometimes seems like a burden is also an indescribable blessing.  It's one thing to believe that God is the Almighty Healer; but when you're in the midst of sickness and still believe that, it takes tremendous faith.  For God to give my family that kind of faith is a miracle to me!  To know that God is using this storm to show us parts of himself that we could not see otherwise is an honor.   

We began homeschooling in the fall of 2010, an adventure that both encourages and disappoints me on a regular basis!  I love watching my kids learn and grow in ways that I would never witness if they were attending a traditional school. Seeing them wanting to find answers to big questions and listening to them tell me about the latest book they want to read is extremely rewarding.  It can also make me crazy when one of my boys can't remember what nine times six is, though they have known how to multiply for a long time or when they complain that homeschooling is way harder than public school.  I am grateful to have the opportunity to teach my children at home, especially when life gets messy.

God has also continuously provided for our family, giving us contentment without having a lot of "stuff".  I left my full-time job as a Business Office Manager to take care of my family, reducing our income by more than half.  I'm glad I didn't know at the time how long this season would last, but so far, God has not let us go without anything we need. We've definitely had to go without many things in the past few years.  Hopefully, my children will look back on this time in their childhood and remember how God's hand was on all of it.  Knowing that we serve an awesome Lord who will provide for us makes my heart filled with joy.

I am excited that all of the waiting and praying and tearful news has brought me to where I am at this moment and to this new blog about my knitting adventures.  Knitting and praying just go together, so I've been doing a lot of both!  I've recently opened an Etsy shop to sell what I've been creating.  This has given me a feeling of accomplishment and calmness in the middle of what can often feel like chaos!  Please visit my Etsy shop at:  and let me know what you think!