Sunday, February 27, 2011

The after dinner mint

I've been meaning to share with you a fun thing I like to do when we have company over for a meal. I like to place a piece of candy inside the napkin ring for our guests to enjoy after they've finished eating. At Christmas time, I like to place a candy cane inside, and some times I actually do place a real mint inside, like this:

But usually, it's this--can you guess what candy it is?

If you guessed Tootsie Roll, you're right! I still call it our "after dinner mint" and I usually get a few chuckles when I tell our guests that.

You can use any kind of small wrapped candy, and I guarantee your friends and family will enjoy this sweet way to end a meal. Have fun being creative with this the next time folks are over your place for dinner. ;)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Rhubarb-banana muffins

A few days ago, I was looking through my cookbooks to find a new recipe. I had some ripe bananas that I needed to use up. I found a recipe for rhubarb-banana muffins in my Better Homes and Gardens Annual Recipes Cookbook (from 2008) and knew I had to try it out. We were not disappointed--they are delicious!

They are moist and sweet, especially with that sugar topping--yum! Enjoy.:)

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup mashed banana (3 large)
1/2 cup cooking oil
1-1/2 cups frozen chopped rhubarb, thawed and drained

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 24 muffin cups or line with paper bake cups. In bowl combine granulated sugar and softened butter. Using your fingers, combine until crumbly; set aside.
2. In large mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Make well in the center; set aside.
3. In medium mixing bowl combine eggs, brown sugar, mashed banana, and cooking oil. Add egg mixture all at once to dry mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in rhubarb.
4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each two-thirds full. Sprinkle with granulated sugar mixture. Bake about 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups; serve warm.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Valentine's Day story time

I had a great time at the Valentine's Day story time with the preschoolers this month. After singing our "Hello time" song, I pulled out a new friend out of my bag.

Meet Freddy--

He's pretty cute, huh? But, he doesn't turn into a prince when you kiss him! Oh well, at least I tried. One little girl asked if she could try, too (I didn't have her do it, but it was a nice thought though).

Then, I taught the kids a song that I sang with my Kindergartners back in the day:

Valentine, valentine,
won't you be my valentine?
Valentine, valentine,
won't you be mine?

The first book I read was called My Friend Harry, by Kim Lewis. It's about a little boy who starts school but has to leave his stuffed animal friend behind. After I read the book, I pulled out a stuffed koala who was one of my special friends when I was a girl. Then the kids shared about their friends, too.

The second book I read was called Sweet Hearts, by Jan Carr. It's about a young panda who makes lots of valentine surprises for his family.

Using these felt hearts, I read the following poem:

I have five little valentines, not one more,
I'll give one to mother, and then I'll have...
Four little valentines are all that I see
I'll give one to Dad and then I'll have...
Three little valentines all bright and new
I'll give one to Grandma and then I'll have....
Two paper valentines--this is lots of fun
I'll give one to Grandpa, and then I'll have just...
One paper valentine, and I know what to do
I'll give my last valentine to no one but

The last book I read was called A Circle is not a Valentine, by H. Werner Zimmerman. We all loved this book which also teaches the kids about shapes. It is funny and the pictures are delightful.

I passed out a candy heart to each kid, then showed them something I decorated just for them...

...this Valentine gingerbread house. I found the house at the clearance section at Wal-mart. Then, I used Valentine-colored sprinkles, frosting and hearts to decorate it. The kids really liked it a lot and so I left it there so they could enjoy it.

I pulled Freddy out again and we sang the Valentine song and the Good-bye song together. Can't wait until next month's story time...stay tuned!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Homemade oreo cookies

When I found the recipe for these here, I knew I had to try them! I made the filling pink, too--perfect for Valentine's Day!

Q and I both loved these a lot! They are scrumptious. Enjoy!:)

Homemade Oreos

makes 25-30 sandwich cookies

For the chocolate wafers:

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa (Hershey's Special Dark is highly recommended)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:

1/4 cup room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
optional-gel dye

1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375 degrees.

2. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.

4. To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy. (Optional: Blend in a tiny bit of gel dye until you reach the desired color.)

5. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blogs of cream in to the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Our Valentine's Day

Our Valentine's Day began with a special breakfast at The Egg and I. Several church folk came and enjoyed the fellowship and food. Q invited another area pastor to give a devotional. Many commented on how nice everything was and how they'd like to do something like that again.

After we left the restaurant, Q said we could make a stop at the jewelry store. I just knew what we were going to get, as it was something I had asked him about when we had the boys. I wanted a charm for my Pandora bracelet that represented the boys, whether they stayed or left. As you all know, they've been gone for over a week now, and we still miss them a lot, but I now have a pretty charm that reminds me of them...

The blue is a perfect boy color and the hearts represent how much we loved those boys. They will always be in our hearts. After our short time at the mall, we went back home. Q had to leave for work, and I had to get busy making a special treat for him!

I found a recipe for homemade oreos and knew that Valentine's Day would be the perfect day to make these delectable treats (the recipe will be coming soon, I promise!) I placed them on a big red plate with some chocolate hearts and when Q got home from work, he saw the surprise. When I came home from chorale practice, he had a few little things for me, too....

The heart bracelet, stamper, and ring were from a grab bag of stuff from work. It was really cute to get these fun things, and wouldn't you say the ring looks pretty good on my finger?;)

What a fun day! It was a great day with friends and family. I feel very blessed indeed.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

God's Love is like a circle

I put up a new bulletin board in our children's area at church recently. It's a mix of valentine cut-outs and a song that talks about God's love.

The song is called, "God's Love is like a circle" and it is sung to the tune of "Stand up, stand up for Jesus." I started teaching it today in Sunday School. It's really easy to learn.

God's love is like a circle, a circle big and round, For when you see a circle no ending can be found!

And so the love of Jesus goes on eternally; forever and forever I know that He loves me.

Happy Valentine's Day! Know that Jesus loves you very much and thank Him for His love today.:)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Saying "good-bye" is so hard....

Last Friday, Q and I got the news that Big Brother and Little Brother were going to be reunified with their mom. We had just a few days left to spend with them as they were going to be leaving on Monday. It was such a hard day, but the Lord helped us get through the transition. After giving their mom their things, we hugged and kissed the boys good-bye. We drove away with huge tears in our eyes.

Now, a few days later, there is such an emptiness in our hearts and I still cry off and on. We grew to love them as our own and so quickly, were taken away. But, we know that God had a plan in having them with us. It was not a mistake. We are thankful for the time we had with them, and hope and pray that they are now in a home that is safe and full of love.

Pray for us as our hearts heal and as we look ahead to the future. We don't know if we'll ever see these little guys again (that would be awesome, but right now they need to bond with their mom again) or that they'll come back (if that happened, it would mean more turmoil at home, so we just have to pray for safety and God's best in their lives). So, we pray that God will send us the children we can keep forever. He already has them picked out; we just have to keep waiting.

As we pray and wait, memories of the boys still come to my mind. I look at pictures multiple times a day. I'm trying to fill my time again like before they came, and it's been difficult. I loved being a mom--and these boys made me one! I pray that God encourages my heart daily and that one day I'll be a mom forever.

Here's a picture I had to share with you of Q and Big Brother. We went to a stock show last month and it was so much fun!

I'll leave you with some Scripture that is such an encouragement to my heart:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

Please pray for us as we continue to wait on the Lord for the children He has for us. Also pray that the Lord will give us peace and comfort as we deal with losing these little guys. We miss them so much...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Music story time

A couple of weeks ago, I did a music story time for the preschool kids at the center. I thought I'd share with you what I did with them, as it could give you ideas to do at home or with other children you work with.

After singing our "Hello Time" song, I brought out a friend who I've had for a long time. His name is Tex. Do you want to meet him?:)

He's a kooky-looking sort of fellow that the kids say looks like a monkey! Honestly, I don't know what he is, but he sure is a lot of fun for the kids.

The first book I read is called, Animal Music, by Harriet Ziefert. With simple rhyme, it shared a couple of stories about animals who played different instruments.

After that first book, we sang a song called "Farm Sounds" and it is sung to the tune of "The Wheels on the Bus." I used my farm animal puppets as we sang each verse.

The cow in the barn goes moo, moo, moo,
moo, moo, moo, moo, moo, moo,
The cow in the barn goes moo, moo, moo,
All around the farm.

The pig in the pen goes oink, oink, oink,
oink, oink, oink, oink, oink, oink,
The pig in the pen goes oink, oink, oink,
All around the farm.

The hens in the coop go cluck, cluck, cluck,
cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck,
The hens in the coop go cluck, cluck, cluck,
All around the farm.

The lambs on the hill go baa, baa, baa,
baa, baa, baa, baa, baa, baa,
The lambs on the hill go baa, baa, baa,
All around the farm.

The second book I read is called Our Marching Band, by Lloyd Moss. This story was also a poem about kids who were learning their instruments to play in a band. When I was done, I pulled out an instrument that a lot of kids learn before they begin playing a band instrument--a recorder.

I played a simple tune on it, then showed them my husband's trombone. He taught me how to put it together and play it so they could hear what it sounds like. I don't know how to play songs on it, so the sound that came out was pretty interesting!

The last book I read is called Max found Two Sticks, by Brian Pinkney. I really enjoyed this story and the beautiful illustrations. A young boy finds two sticks outside then plays them on different objects during the day. It's a great way to introduce rhythm to children.

I had the kids play their sticks (their pointer fingers) while I sang the following song:

Tap your sticks (to the tune of "row, row, row your boat")
by Jean Warren

Tap, tap, tap your sticks
tap your sticks today,
Tap them high, tap them low,
Tap them every way.

I brought along a CD with Sousa band music and had the kids pretend to play instruments as we walked in a circle a few times. We ended our time by singing the "Good-bye song" and Tex even came out to give them hugs.

Our story time was a lot of fun and we all had a great time!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Super Bowl party cake

In my first two years of teaching, the Denver Broncos made it to the Super Bowl. So, it was fitting that my class and I have a party on the Friday before the big day. The students wore their favorite team shirt, had a football game during recess and enjoyed some cake at the end of the day.

Here's a pix of my first class of third graders on our fun day:

The cake was fun and simple to make, but best of all, it tasted great! The following recipe card came in a mailing and was put out by the company that makes Cool Whip. The entire cake is covered in the sweet stuff then decorated.

Here's the recipe and directions on how you can make this football cake. It will be fun to enjoy on Super Bowl Sunday or on any other big game day! Have fun!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A big wooden spool family

A couple of months ago, I held another giveaway, offering the winner one of my favorite small gifts. Melissa chose a wooden spool family, so I had her give me descriptions of up to ten family members. Her nieces would love playing with them and she couldn't wait to get them!

Here's a picture of the entire family which includes grandparents, mom and dad, aunts, and a few children:

My favorite ones include the grandparents, complete with gray hair....

....and the baby, whose bib is made out of a piece of white rick-rack trim.

Melissa's family enjoyed receiving the dolls. She sent me a couple of pictures for me to see the dolls being played with.

I can't wait to make more of these, as I've promised a niece I'd make her a family for her dollhouse. The set of four I currently have is a hit with kids that visit our home. With just some wooden spools and balls, fabric, trim and glue, you can create a set your family will love.