Friday, November 29, 2013

2013 Thanksgiving Review

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day yesterday.  I hope yours was wonderful too!  Today we are cleaning the house, decorating for Christmas inside and out and getting family pictures taken.  Let the holiday crazy begin!  Here is a look at our Thanksgiving Day. . .
My boys made the whipped sweet potatoes--yum!

Miss A made this cute turkey veggie tray and was so proud of it.  Thought it turned out really cute!

Ben is the official turkey carver and gravy maker.  He is the best!  Our turkey was yum!

The little kids' table

and the everyone else table.  We had a great time!

And last but not least our 2013 Tree of Thanks is finally complete.  So much to be thankful for!

I am starting my Daily December posting Sunday, so be sure to come back!  Enjoy your holiday weekend!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pre-Thanksgiving joy to share

So I know today is a busy day.  No one needs a new recipe today, right?  Here is all my lists and recipes ready to go.  We are making as much stuff as we can today.  The kids have school off, so they are in charge of certain recipes and setting the table and decorating it.  They are excited.
It is going to be yummy!  

And our Tree of Thanks is looking good.  

I found these videos and wanted to share.  People in New York City share what they are thankful for.

Love, love, this one.   Giving thanks is more than a holiday.

 I so agree with what he says, "I always felt like God gave me more than I knew what to do with."  Amen

Consider your blessing and thank the Lord for them.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 25, 2013

2013 Blue Jeans Week 47

This was a great week.  Ben and I had a mini-vacation together, or maybe I should say that I had a mini-vacation and Ben had work meetings, but we were together, and that was fun.  I also got all my Christmas shopping done--yeah!!!  The kids stayed with my dad for 4 days.  Way to go Grandpa!  Thank you!  Thank you!!  He is awesome.  We got our Thankful tree started, and I started getting more stuff ready for Christmas.  Here is a look at our week. . . 
Every year we do a "Thankful" tree during Thanksgiving.  More about this in my previous post.  We draw a tree and then cut out leaves to put on it.  On the leaves we write what we are thankful for.  We add to it all month and then have our guests on Thanksgiving add to it also.  It is a fun tradition.

Basketball games this week.  This is Mr J, Miss E and two of her friends just hanging out at Miss O's game.  

Ben and I also enjoyed the basketball game :)

Before we left for 4 days I went and had lunch with Mr J.  It was their thanksgiving dinner lunch at school today.  Yum!

I have been sorting through our Christmas books because this year I am going to do a Christmas story countdown.  I am going to wrap each of these and put a number on it and put them in a basket under the Christmas tree.  Each night in December the kids will take turns opening one and then we will read it by the tree before we head to bed.  I think it will be fun.  I do have older kids, but all my kids still love picture books, so we are going to try it this year.

This is the St. Louis temple for our Church.  Ben had some work meetings in St. Louis, and my Dad very kindly offered to watch our kids so I could go along.  Ben had meetings 8-5 each day, so I had the whole day to myself in the big city.  I went to the temple, got all my Christmas shopping done, and relaxed at the hotel.  In the evenings it was so nice to be with Ben!

So what did I do in my hotel room?  Project life!  I got all caught up!  Yeah!

I finished this  Have you read this series?

Got lots and lots of shopping done!  Actually got all the Christmas shopping done for Ben and the kids.  Yeah!

And worked on a Christmas present.  It was a very nice few days!!!

Thanks for visiting!  Have a wonderful week and a blessed Thanksgiving!!!

I am linking up with The Mom Creative

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thankful #3

 I think recording our thanks and gratitude and expressing it are so important.  President Gordon B. Hinckley in his book Way to Be!  9 Ways to be happy and make something of your life lists Be Grateful as his #1 thing to be.  He says 
"There are two little words in the English language that perhaps mean more than all others.  They are "thank you."'

"The habit of saying thank you is the mark of a cultivated mind."

"Be grateful.  Count your blessings and gifts and privileges and see just how long that list is.  I imagine that each of you will have difficulties ahead of you.  None of us can avoid them.  But do not despair.  Do not give up.  Look for the sunlight in the clouds.   And be grateful for what you have."
Every November we make a "tree of thanks" to put on our wall.  We draw a tree on a big piece of paper or poster board, then we cut out leaves and write on them what we are thankful for.  

We hang it up in the kitchen and add more leaves to it each day.  On Thanksgiving we have extra leaves for our guests to write on and add to it.  Here is our tree so far.  By the end of the month it should be overflowing with leaves and thanks.

This year I also wanted to really focus my family on our blessings and being grateful.  At the beginning of the year we made these daily blessing books.  I wanted 2013 to be our year of Gratitude.  The post about them is here.  Each night we were to write 5 things in our books that we were grateful for that day--5 blessings we saw in our lives that day.

"We live in a unique time in the world's history.  We are blessed with so very much.  And yet it is sometimes difficult to view the problems and permissiveness around us and not become discouraged.  I have found that, rather than dwelling on the negative, if we will take a step back and consider the blessings in our lives, including seemingly small, sometimes overlooked blessings, we can find greater happiness.
     ". . .take an inventory of our life and look specifically for the blessings, large and small, you have received."
President Thomas S. Monson

The above quotes are the inspiration for our daily blessings/gratitude journals and for 2013 to be our year of Gratitude.  It has helped me a lot so far this year to look for my blessings especially when I become discouraged.  I am so grateful for this inspired counsel and for all the blessings, large and small, that I have received.  

Consider your blessings.

We had done pretty good.  These are the state of our books mid-November.  We haven't written every single day, but a lot of days we have, and it was been wonderful for our family to consider our blessings and be grateful.  Recently my girls were telling some friends about our 'blessings books.'  They said as they go through the day and see something good they think "I need to remember that to write it down.  I am grateful for that."  I wanted to stand up and cheer. :)   We do have so much to be grateful for, and we really do need to take the time to say thank you and count our blessing and now is the perfect time to do it.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What's up Wednesday--cheater Korean Beef

My cooking is very non-geographical--if that is a term.  I don't branch out much in terms of ethnic variety.  I do American and Italian with a slight sprinkling of fried rice about once a month and homemade egg rolls once a year.  I think I need to expand more.  I have never tried anything Korean, so when I first saw this recipe here, I has very hesitant--sesame oil?  Never used it, but I actually did have some in my pantry because I bought it years ago to make another Asian type recipe that I never made.  But as I was reading through the recipe I was thinking "this looks really easy."  And I am all about easy, so I gave it a try.  Wow!  It was really easy, and my whole family loved it!!!  Score!  And I think I have made it about 2 times a month since.  It is a keeper.  We serve this over rice, and I never cook my rice "plain" so that is why this rice looks brown in the picture even though it is not brown rice--although I think this recipe would make brown rice almost palatable (sorry, not a brown rice fan).  I will also share my super easy yummy "good" rice recipe--as my 8 year old calls it.  Enjoy!  I think I am going to make this the Saturday after Thanksgiving when nobody wants leftovers, and we will have had pizza on Friday.  It will be perfect! 
Cheater Korean Beef

1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 cup brown sugar or more if you want it sweeter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tes ground ginger **original recipe calls for fresh, but I never, ever have that, so I used this and it is great
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper depending upon how spicy you want it.  I use 1/2 tes
salt and pepper
green onions sliced for top

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown the ground beef in the sesame oil.  Add the garlic towards the end of browning and cook until meat is completely done.  Drain fat if needed.

Add the brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, red pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors.  Serve over rice topped with sliced green onions.

Good Rice

1 cup rice
2 cups chicken broth or 2 cups water and 2 tes chicken bouillon
1 Tab. dehydrated onion

Place all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  When starts to boil, cover with a lid, turn down to low and simmer 20 minutes.  Turn off heat after 20 minutes and let sit with lid on a few more minutes then fluff and serve.  The bouillon is what makes it a darker color depending upon how dark your chicken bouillon is.

When I make rice I usually double or tripe this because we like rice in our family, and then I can use the extra to make that occasional fried rice :)


Monday, November 18, 2013

2013 Blue Jeans Week 46

This week . . . more basketball and busy life in general.  We are so looking forward to Thanksgiving here and the break.  It was a good week.  I have so much to be thankful for!  Here is a look at our week and blessings. . .
Love the sister missionaries from our church.  We try to have them over for dinner weekly, and this week one of them was moving on, so we had to get a picture to remember her by.  Great ladies who serve so well.  They bless our lives.  I am thankful for them.

One home game this week--one away game.  This was the home game, and Miss O did awesome!  I am slowly but surely figuring this basketball thing out.  I am thankful for a daughter that works hard, is willing to try something new, and for great coaches that encourage and teach.

If you ever wanted to find Miss E this week, you would find her with this book.  The Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan is one of our whole family's all-time favorites.  #12 The Royal Ranger just came out, and Miss E got it first.  She is almost finished with it and loving it!  I love how blue her eyes look in this picture.  I am thankful for good books and kids that love to read!

Mr J working on his homework after school today.  He is so good to get it done without being asked.  He is a hard worker!  I am thankful for hardworking kids and great teachers that inspire my kids!

Miss A had her cross country awards banquet this year.  This is her coach, who has been a coach for over 50 years.  He was my high school chemistry teacher and also my cross country coach.  He has since retired from teaching, but still coaches.  He is amazing!  Miss A had a great season, and she is ready for a break and then is excited for track in the spring.  He is also her track coach.  Again, I am very thankful for hard working kids--running cross country is not easy--and wonderful coaches!!!

Ben took the time this weekend to wash all the window screens (we have a lot of windows, this is only 1/2 of our screens) and then he washed every window in the house!  I am amazed to look out my windows now and see how clean they are!  I didn't realize how dirty they were until he cleaned them :)  I am so thankful for this amazing, super cute guy, for how hard he works to take care of us and everything he does for me--like washing all my windows!!!  Thank you so much and sure love you Ben!

So thankful for this past week!  So thankful you could visit and share it with me! 

I blog
Mondays--pictures from our week
Wednesdays--a favorite recipe
Fridays--focusing on my blessing this month and what I am thankful for

Come visit often!

I am linking up with The Mom Creative

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thankful #2

Continuing the November Friday thankful posts, this is what I am thankful for this week . . .

1.  Love
So I was working at the kids' elementary school this week, and the local florist came to the door with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and then she said, "And I have 42 balloons to bring in too."  42?!!? Seriously??!!  It was one of the teacher's 42nd anniversary, and her husband had bought the flowers, the one big pink "Happy Anniversary" balloon and then 41 other balloons.  On those 41 other balloons he had written on every single one--things like "beautiful," "gorgeous," "super wife," "special lady" "my honey"--41 different things.  I was so impressed.  It thought it was so sweet.  I am thankful for love--true love, that endures--42 years (we are coming up on 18, and I am thankful for that).  I thought that was the sweetest thing.

2.  Sister missionaries
We have had sister missionaries in our area from our Church for the last year or so, and we love them!  I cannot express what a wonderful influence they have been on my girls.  I thank the Lord often for sending sisters to our area.  One of these cute girls was leaving this week and another coming in, so we got a good-bye picture.  So thankful for these ladies that sacrifice to serve.  

3.  Good books and kids that love to read 
Miss E was so excited to get this new book.  It is a series our whole family has read and loves.  I am so thankful for good books and kids who love to read!!!  (love her eyes in this picture, too!)

4.  Kids that do their homework
This may seem like a small thing, but it really isn't.  My kids are very good at getting their homework done without being told or nagged (90% of the time :).  That is a blessing and something I am thankful for--hard working kids that do their homework!

5.  My bed and pillows
I just love my bed and my pillows.  We have our Thanksgiving pillowcases on now, and at night I just can't wait to go to bed :)  So thankful for a nice, warm, comfy bed and perfect pillows!

So much to be thankful for!!!  Count your blessing!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thanksgiving dinner 2013 preview

So today instead of a recipe, I am going to share my Thanksgiving dinner plans.  I have always hosted Thanksgiving since 2005 with the exception of last year when we drove 1,150 miles to spend it with Ben's family and my extended family and to see my Grandpa one more time before he passed.  That was a good Thanksgiving.  So glad we did that.  But this year we are back to 'normal.'  Which means, I am hosting.  We have 24 coming which is down from past years.  Thanksgiving at our house is not just family, but friends we consider as family, so it is a big party.  I always make up a menu and then people choose what they want to bring.  I do not make everything.  I don't think that is how Thanksgiving is supposed to work.  Divide and conquer--and you get much better food that way.  Not everything has been assigned yet, but I just know certain people will bring/want to make certain things, so those are filled in.  The rest I will fill in this weekend as I contact people.  So here is my menu/assignments for this year. . .

Thanksgiving 2013

Mashed Potatoes--
Fruit/Jello salad--
Fruit/Jello salad--
Vegetable(green bean casserole)--my mom
Sweet potatoes--

2 pumpkin pies/w whipped cream--
2 cream pies (banana and coconut cream)--
chocolate pie--Jen

cranberry sauce--Jen **if you have never made real cranberry sauce from fresh cranberries, you need to, it is amazing and so easy!!! I just use the recipe on the bag of cranberries every year.



Spinach dip in a bread bowl--my mom
blessing mix--Robyn
veggies and dip--
pickles, olives, deviled eggs--Robyn

Thanksgiving Story--Robyn
Old lady who swallowed a pie story--my mom


So, let me explain our Thanksgiving schedule.  We eat around 2 p.m.  People are welcome to come earlier and snack on the horderves.  At 2 we eat, clean up, and then we have story time.  My friend Robyn has a flannel board story about the first Thanksgiving that she always shares with her blessing mix.  My mom has a fun picture story that goes with the book "I know an Old Lady who Swallowed a Pie" by Alison Jackson.  It is cute.  Check it out if you haven't read it before.  Then it is football or volleyball time depending upon the weather and who is here and what mood they are in.  Usually after the football/volleyball game which occurs in our yard we have pie.  There is never enough room for pie right after dinner.  You have to wait a while for everything to settle and to get hungry again before you have pie so you can enjoy it!  After pie we watch a movie--usually a newly released Disney--I think it will be Monsters University this year.  After the movie we usually snack on whatever is left and then everyone heads home happy, full, and thankful for the day.  It is a great day, and my kids look forward to it every year--they are super good helpers to get everything ready.  They love a party as much as anyone!  So, Thanksgiving here we come!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

2013 Blue Jeans Week 45

Well we started something very new to our family this week--basketball.  We have never been basketball people or fans.  Football is my favorite, then volleyball, track and cross country, so when our 8th grader Miss O said she wanted to play basketball, we said, "Um, you sure about that?" and she was.  So, basketball parents here we are.  I have no clue what is going on.  I have to ask Ben every few seconds, "What does that mean?"   "Why did they do that?"  but I will eventually figure it out.  It is fun, and she works so hard.  So the first two basketball games were this week. . . let the season begin, and here is a look at what else we did--in addition to basketball :)
Sunday evening--Ben got a new game for his birthday--Dominion.  He finally got around to playing it with Miss E and Mr J tonight.  They all really liked it.  They taught the rest of us how to play it the next day for family night, and we all agreed it was lots of fun.  So, if you need a good game gift idea--check out Dominion--be aware it says for ages 13+, but my 8 and 11 year old love it and have no problems playing.  Also, it says it takes about 30 minutes, but it always takes us longer--like 45 minutes to an hour.

I went to the butcher today to pick up our 1/2 a beef.  It is always so nice to get this locally raised beef and fill my freezer!  It tastes so good!

Miss O's first basketball game ever!!!  Woohoo!!!  We lost, but she played well.

She even got fouled--twice--and got to shoot for 2.  Didn't make them, but that is okay--it was her first game. She works very hard, has fun, and will get better.

On Fridays this month I am posting on things I am thankful for.  Music was one of those things.  This is what it looks like behind the couch in our family room--5 instruments for 2 girls.  We have a lot of music in our house!  Pictured are 2 French horns, one mellophone, one trumpet, and one trombone.

I ordered over 100 bulbs--daffodils, tulips and purple alliums that I planted this week.  Come this spring, they are going to look great!

Mr J is so lucky that his Nana is his school librarian!  She takes him out to eat for lunch quite often.  I happen to be driving past Sonic during their lunch when they honked at me.  I pulled in to snap a quick picture of the lunch date :)

This weekend was our Veteran's Day parade.  Love that parade.   Love the flags, love our country, our freedoms, and the brave men and women who have made and keep our country free.  God bless them and their families.  Thank you!!!

Ben and I both worked a lot in the yard this weekend.  I was planting my bulbs, and Ben mowed the lawn one last time, and then put the mower away for winter.  Then he spread grass seed around to fill in spots in the yard.  It was a beautiful fall day to be outside.

Thanks for visiting!  Come often!  I blog
Mondays--pictures from our week
Wednesdays--a favorite recipe
Fridays--this month I am focusing on being thankful

Have a good one!  I am linking up with The Mom Creative

Friday, November 8, 2013


This is definitely the month to focus on gratitude.  I have so much to be thankful for.  I took my camera around today to capture some of the things I am thankful for today.

1.  Music
There is a lot of music in our house.  These 5 instruments--in my family room behind the couch--belong to 2 of my girls.  There are 2 French horns here, one trombone, one trumpet, and one mellophone.  So thankful for a wonderful band director who has my girls loving music and band.

In addition to all those instruments, all my kids take piano lessons.  I love to hear the music they play on the piano!

I was so lucky today to be at Miss O's school and was able to hear her in her Jazz band class. Oh. my!!!  They were amazing!!!  Miss O plays the keyboard in there.  I am so grateful for music in my life!

2.  Flowers 
Man, I love flowers.  These are on my front porch.  

and my rose bushes are still looking really pretty right now.  Love flowers and so thankful for the beauty and color they bring to our world.

3.  Pumpkins 
I love pumpkins and having them out this time of year--and I love eating anything with pumpkin in it!

4.  The falling leaves of autumn 
I love all the different colored leaves on the trees and how they 'litter' my lawn.  

5.  My mom 
I happen to catch her taking Mr J out to lunch at Sonic today.  What a lucky guy!  My mom is amazing and I am so extremely grateful for her and her influence in my life and that we live close to her so my kids can have her amazing influence in their lives!

So many more things, but just keeping it to 5 today.  My Friday posts are going to be Thankful posts this month.  Be grateful and have a great weekend!