Thursday, December 18, 2008

Little Home on the Seattle Prairie

Just call me a pioneer. We didn't have any Christmas decorations this year, our stuff being in St. Louis and all. So, we decided to make some. I bought some felt, made some stockings, we made red and green paper chains, strung popcorn, and also made salt dough ornaments. That was really fun, since it had been years since I'd done that. Here's the recipe for anyone else who feels like being a pioneer this year.

Salt Dough Ornaments

* ½ cup salt
* 1 cup flour
* ½ cup water
* Rolling pin
* Cookie sheet
* Toothpick (I actually used a straw, it was much easier)
* Miniature cookie cutters
* Acrylic paints
* Glitter glue or glitter paint
* ribbon

How to make it:

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
2. Mix together, salt, flour, and water until dough is formed.
3. Knead the dough on a floured surface until the mixture is elastic and smooth. If dough is too sticky, sprinkle with flour, continue to do so until stickiness is gone. Do not add too much flour, this will dry out the dough and will cause it to crack before you get a chance to bake it.
4. Roll out the dough to about ¼” thick with a rolling pin that has been dusted with flour.
5. Use cookie cutters to cut out as many shapes as you want.
6. Use a toothpick (I actually used a straw and it was perfect) to make a hole toward the top of the shape. Poke the toothpick into the shape, then holding toothpick straight up and down, make a circular motion as if you were stirring something. Keep circling until the hole is the size you want.
7. Place all shapes onto an ungreased cookie sheet and place into the preheated oven.
8. Bake for 2 hours.
9. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

I didn't paint mine because, evidently, we just "can't keep buying things." Including paint.

Have fun!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Knock, knock. Who's there?

It was Gingerbread House Night at our place tonight. A thoughtful, yet fun-filled family home evening where we became confection architects while drawing thought-provoking analogies to "foundations" and the such. I was on one side of the table, working on the backside of the house. See House Picture #1. I carefully decorated the roof, added a palladian window for added interior light, the little sculpture gardens on either side of the door... Clearly, a place where some festive someone will bake treats and hum holiday tunes. And probably host a big holiday party.

On the other side of the table, though, other things were in the works. It may look like a normal, innocent, kid-and-dad constructed gingerbread house. See House Picture #2. Don't be deceived. If this had audio, you would have heard something like this:

Me: So guys, what is our family's foundation built on?

The others: The gospel. We need more frosting. Right here, by the powder attack things. When people try to get in, the powder will GET them!

Me: Right, the gospel--

The others: Okay, kids, here are the video surveillance cameras--

Me: --and Jesus Christ--please stop eating the frosting--

The others: I know, let's take out the powder attack things and put in sucky things! If they try to open the door, the sucky things will suck them in and get them. Can I have another gumball?

Me: What can we do to make our family's foundation stronger?

The others: MOTION SENSORS ON THE DOORS AND WINDOWS!! (cue maniacal laughter) YEAH! So, if they try to get in, the alarm will go off! And the sucky things will get them!! (more laughter)

Me: Okay, but what about prayer? Seriously, you're not going to have any candy left to decorate.

The others: I KNOW, I KNOW--we need some LASERS!! Right on top so they can shoot down! Yeah! They can shoot down if someone touches the FALSE DOOR KNOB!

Me: And love. We have to have love for each oth--

The others: Oh, cool, Daddy, a FALSE DOOR KNOB! What's a false door knob? We need more sucky things!

Me: Do you see that we all make up parts of our house? It's like we're each a par--

The others: The gingerbread guy is the guard! Yeah, the guard! We need more video cameras!! (cue more laughter)

Me: And I say these things--


Note to self: Nix the Jason Bourne movies before Gingerbread House Night next year... (no, not the little kids, just the big one)

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Exciting thing: We have a contract on our St. Louis home.

Bad thing: Girlie just cut her own hair. Family pics are in 1 1/2 weeks.

Funny thing: Sammy thinks his hand has actual magical powers (thanks to the gas fireplace switch and a dad with a sense of humor). And he wears his undies backwards so he can see the picture better.

Ridiculous thing: I've been sucked into the black hole of facebook, where I waste too much time and refer to myself in third person.

Amazing thing: I got the Holy Grail of Christmas cards--a picture of all three kids, in front of the tree, matching holiday jammies, ALL looking at the camera, ALL smiling. At the same time.

Happy thing: Found my camera/computer cord so I can now post more pictures. Just couldn't think of one appropriate for this post.

Fun thing: Made popcorn chains to decorate our live tree with the help of "Miss Julia" and her cat "Milky" (who, even though played by Sammy, was a pregnant mommy cat), who insisted on eating more popcorn than creating festive decorations with it.

Excited thing: Can't wait to see our friends in St. Louis.

Wondering thing: Can any of those friends pick us up from the airport next Friday night?? (really)

Skeptical thing: "They" say our van is fixed. For real this time. I'll let you know in a few hundred miles.

Clean thing: Sammy, in the bathtub. Again.

Indulgent thing: Coach sunglasses, justified only by the fact that they are prescription. J and I are still in talks.

Romantic thing: J and I have a 4 minute date every night, walking to the mailbox after the kids are down.

Kissable thing: Little Red, who is so soft and squishy, and totally a mama's boy. We call him Master Oogway now (from Kung Fu Panda--he was the old turtle with no teeth, much like our little lip-smacking one).

Lucky thing: me.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Only a Week Late

So, yes, we did indeed celebrate Thanksgiving here, too. J's brother and his family came up and we had a marvelous time.

It had me thinking, however. Amidst the only-mildly-controlled chaos that happens to be my life right now, I have a plethora of things to be grateful for. The one that stands out, however, and has stood out all year is this: kind people. I am so grateful, from the bottom of my heart, for the kindness of people all over. This year has been peppered with selfless friends who have lent a hand, an ear, a shoulder during this doozy of a year. My friends and neighbors in St. Louis (and elsewhere), I love you. I truly do. It makes me cry just thinking about you. My eyes are burning right now. I'm grateful for the kindness of strangers/new friends here in Seattle who have made this adjustment possible. People who have gone out of their way to reach out and welcome us to our new home.

So here's to all you angels out there, parading around like you're normal people or something. May the stars align over your heads and the Good Luck Gods smile down upon you. You've touched my heart with your care, your kindness and your compassion. I have fond memories and think of each of you especially during the holidays. I am thankful for YOU. God has blessed me so richly. You mean more than you could ever know.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How to Drive a Sporty Little Crossover

How to Drive a Sporty Little Crossover, in 10 Easy Steps.

1--Buy a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan, with only 5 miles on it.

2--Start driving it.

3--Have it break down.

4--Have it break down again (repeat as many times as necessary, preferably when your husband is half-way across the world).

5--Get to know the phrase "powertrain control module" so well that you appear to know what you're talking about.

6--Start asking Chrysler for a new car.

7--(And this one takes some doing) Move half-way across the country to continue the fight with Chrysler.

8--Have it break down one final time. This time you may almost swear.

9--At the dealership, look them in the eye and ask them seriously how many more times they are willing to risk your children's lives.

10--Voila! You will find yourself in the driver seat of a (rental) brand new, silver, much hipper than your minivan, Dodge Journey.