I’m Home and I Brought You Something!

a new favorite

I am home from my great trip away. Now it is time to make up for the time lost around here. Because there is so much to do, I am just going to share a video with you today. I say “just” but this video could improve the quality of your life, like it did for me. I’m behind the curve on music so this music is not new, only new to me. I hope you enjoy Joy Williams and John Paul White, better known as The Civil Wars.

The Coolest People in the World

all 20 of them

The first thing I remember to thank God for on Thanksgiving is that there is only one minute of travel involved in going to Grandma’s house. When I say Grandma, I mean my mother. She only lives around the block. Every time I get in the car to go there for a holiday, I thank God sincerely for not having to travel on the holidays. God bless all of you who get out there on the roads for your families. I would if I had to but I’m so glad I don’t have far to go. Gma’s is where the coolest people in the world gather – The Cousins.

By Thursday The Cousins will begin arriving.  We, their parents, are still plenty cool of course but this is not about us, this time. Almost all of the cousins are teenagers and young adults now and they are funny. Not funny peculiar, but straight up hilarious. On Friday they will be wiping out the leftovers and playing games or going to the movies. As with all things cool, it is hard to say what makes them so cool, but I will tell you what I love about them.

They come from different cities, different schools or homeschools, different economic

the beautiful girls. the youngest is sleeping

brackets and they did not grow up together. Only on holidays and occasional visits do they see each other. With all these reasons to be stand-offish and uptight with each other, they all just jump right in where they left off, because where they left off last year was more than likely a fun place. The big kids still play with the little kids. They don’t gripe when the ones who can barely read struggle through a few hands of Apples to Apples (the best game ever by the way). They have been known to ditch the little ones by telling them they are going to the woods where the caribou are. Caribou hunting is a tradition now.Clearly, it is too dangerous for small children.

The Boston cousins taught us the whipped cream toss – whipped cream sprayed into your

turns out, looking up "whipped cream game" is not a good idea

hand then launched by smacking said hand with the other hand from underneath in an upward motion. Sorry, I will try to find a picture for this. Trust me it is fun. I think mine ended up on the ceiling. Gotta put some english on it next time. Yep, they don’t mind the old people playing along sometimes. At least they are very good at acting like they don’t and that counts.There have been other epic food tosses, like the bread into the mouth battle that left a minefield of bread for Grandma to find later.

And these kids don’t roll their eyes and complain through picture time either. As you can see, they make the most of taking 112 pictures in what starts to feel like 112 degree heat. In sweaters. They can do this with anything; Legos, Catchphrase, fighting over pie – whatever is going on is fun because they are fun. These kids could make or break the holiday they are given and they choose to make it great.

the very cool boys

This post has no big message, no words of wisdom on how this was accomplished. I’m sure Grandma prays over the whole thing every year. Other than that, I have no idea. I only want to let them know, in the biggest forum available to me, that they are the greatest and I look forward to seeing them every year. I’m sad about the ones who can’t make it this year. I’m so thankful for the chance to see whoever gets to come. Maybe some of that cool will splash on to me. A girl can dream.

Friday Fun – Indoor/Outdoor Ideas for your Weekend

recipe link below

I have gathered up some of my favorites from Pinterest for you to try at home with your family this weekend. Some of these I have tried and some I will be trying this weekend myself. I was going to share 11 ideas for 11/11/11, but who am I kidding? Here’s 6 of the easiest. First, the ones I have done…

Marshmallow catapult– We had


fun with this one. I would do this outside if we use it again. Of course, you can launch anything with it, anything as small as a mini-marshmallow.

Cheesesteak sloppy joes – I love finding something new to do with hamburger. These were really good! I added quite a bit more steak sauce than the recipe called for which made them a little salty. It would be easy to adjust to your taste.

7 Up biscuits– This recipe is so easy and the results are impressive. I didn’t have any 7 Up on hand, so I used ginger ale. Technically , I can only recommend ginger ale biscuits, but I doubt it makes a difference. You get to cheat with Bisquick on this one and the end

like a yeast roll but no yeast

product looks and tastes like something passed down from your grandma. It only makes 9 biscuits, so you might want to double up.

I would do this outside on the porch

Coke bottle painting – I’m not sure you need a link for this one; it is pretty straight forward.You use the bottom of a 2-liter soda bottle as a stamp for painting. you can tell from the Picture that it makes big flowers. Layer different colors for a cool effect. Use a 20 oz. bottle too for added dimension.

Balloon poppers– I love crafts that use things I already have

very doable

lying around. All you need for these is balloons, a paper cup, maybe a little tape, and a marshmallow to shoot across the room. Inside or outside, this should keep the kids busy. They could shoot for distance or for accuracy to stay occupied for who knows how long. Cleaning up marshmallows can be fun too if you sell it right.

Super cape– For fighting crime, a kid needs a cape. Regardless of what Edna says on The Incredibles, capes are popular with tiny heroes everywhere. Here is a quick, no-sew tutorial for one. I know it would be easy to leave the neck as is and just pop it over your child’s head, but for safety, you really need to use the velcro tabs as shown.

                                                                     great use for an old shirt

Friday Fun – Up to the Mountain

Isn't it lovely?

I’m leaving this afternoon to go to a special place with my kids and another family. When I was 14 and 15, I spent my summers “working” at a camp for underprivileged children. We were supposed to be leading these children to God but I spent a lot of time flirting with boys and getting in trouble. This weekend I will definitely not be flirting (my husband won’t be there to flirt with) and hopefully I won’t be getting into trouble.

I hope I will be soaking in the last of the leaves in a way that restores my soul. Christians have moved away from worshiping in nature, as if nature belongs to the New Age. This keeps us from the place that God can show us Himself in intricate detail or in majestic grandeur. I’m up for both.

kit kat smores. now we're talkin'

We have heat, a kitchen and bathrooms, so we are not roughing it. One of my goals is to teach my homeschooled kids how to play kickball. I know, I know…parenting fail, but I’m working on it. I might not even write anything while I’m there. I will just see where the time, and my kids, take me. Many forces have come against me, trying to prevent this trip. I have a strong sense that we need this time so I have persisted. God has a plan and He will be there with us. What s’more, um …more could we ask for?

I think of this song often and more often as I get ready to go. This is one of my all-time favorites and if you are my Facebook friend, you have no doubt seen it before. The words, by Patty Griffin and the raw vocal by Kelly Clarkson, get me every time. Add the guitar lead by Jeff Beck and it is a performance that can’t be remade or captured again. Thanks to youtube, I can share it with you. Have a great weekend!

Friday Fun – A life-changing trick


Would it be too corny to say I found a trick that is really a treat? Anyone who knows me is tired of hearing me talk about Pinterest and I shared Halloween Costume ideas from Pinterest last week. This week I got a chance to stop pinning and start doing what I learned there.

At our dinners for eight, we have a lot of chicken. We get tired of chicken honestly. PInterest can help with recipes too and I have learned a few that have spiced up our menu. But all the choices in the world don’t take care of the chicken shredding job I always dread. chicken chopping for eight is no fun. If you wait for it to cool it toughens up and if you work while it’s hot, well, it’s too hot. All that is behind me now however, thanks to this tip.

I nearly cried, not gonna lie.

the big catch is, you need to have a big electric mixer with the paddle attachment, but for big families this is not a neglected appliance. It has paid for itself. If you have the mixer, all you need is some cooked chicken breast, still warm, and dump them in the bowl. I cooked mine from frozen by putting them in a pot with onions, celery, salt, pepper, garlic salt, and thyme. That’s it.

I put in all the chicken in, no trimming or fussing over it. Then turn on your mixer and watch the magic happen. You are left with the most perfectly shredded chicken, ready for all kinds of recipes. Maybe you have to have chopped 20 years worth of chicken to find this as exciting as I do.

I did go back through the bowl and find the connective tissues that are usually found in chicken breasts. They were easy to pick out because everything else was so perfect.I made a casserole of mine with the broth that was left in the pot. It would also make amazing soup.

like this, but better

I hope this tip makes you as happy as it makes me. I can’t wait to see what I learn this week!