Monday, May 30, 2011


When it comes to television and movies, does "whatever" go in your household - whatever show, whatever movie, whatever the language, whatever the subject matter? 

When we turn to God's scripture for guidance in our television and movie viewing, we can apply the concept of "whatever" but it is what comes after the word "whatever" that we need to remember:
"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things" (Philippians 4:8). 
As mothers, we need to be sure that we are filtering all that is being watched in our household. I'd like to share two sources that may help you and your family enjoy more wholesome television and movies. In our home, we use TV Guardian which filters television shows and mutes out any sentences that include inappropriate language. For movies, I'd recommend ClearPlay. Chase and I haven't purchased one because we don't rent very many movies. (Since we use Pay-Per-View, our TV Guardian filters the language of the few movies we do watch.) The great thing about ClearPlay is that it not only filters language, but it also filters sexual content and violence.

Both of these resources are great but just because we remove the "bad" from a television show or movie, doesn't necessarily mean that it honorable or worthy of praise. We need to ensure that we are focusing on activities and entertainment at home that are in line with Philippians 4:8.

"...For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart." Matthew 12:34

"Let the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Vanilla Sugar

After visiting a spice shop, I fell in love with all things vanilla :) I bought vanilla paste for the first time last December. I love using it in recipes for a more intense vanilla flavor. I use it for creme brulee, pudding, homemade ice cream, icing, and so on.

Another item I was tempted to buy was vanilla sugar. It sounded divine but the high price didn't! Instead, I bought a few vanilla beans to make my own at a fraction of the cost. 

I've found that one vanilla bean goes a long way. I just open the pod and scrape out the beans and stick all of it (pod and all) in a tupperware container with 2-3 cups of granulated sugar. 

Let it sit in the airtight container for 2 weeks and you'll have vanilla sugar! Chase enjoys using it to flavor his coffee. I usually can use the same pods for a second batch. After that, I use the leftover pods in creme brulee - just boil them in the heavy cream and, for added flavor, use your new vanilla sugar as a substitute for regular sugar. I think it would also be fun to make sugar cubes (see this post) using vanilla sugar. Yum!

Monday, May 23, 2011

If Colors Could Talk...

I am by no means a talented artist or writer but last year I decided to challenge myself to write a children's book for Ellie. I like to make homemade gifts for my family that can be kept as keepsakes. Ellie is young enough that she appreciates my mediocre illustrations and basic rhymes ;-) I thought I would share my book with you all and maybe inspire you to write for your children. I had mine printed and bound in a hardback book from Walmart and Ellie enjoys reading it together. Here is an online version to view (I also embedded it at the bottom of the page). Have any of you done similar projects for your kids?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Homemade Sugar Cubes

What is a tea party without sugar cubes? When I was planning my last tea party, I found it nearly impossible to find sugar cubes. The stores around here don't carry them and to order them online was too expensive. That is when I realized I could make my own. You can find lots of recipes online but this is the easiest recipe I know:

1. In a mixing bowl combine 2 cups of sugar with 2 tablespoons of hot water.
2. Stir until well blended. The sugar should be uniformly wet and resemble wet sand (it should not be so wet that it is dissolving in the water).
3. Spoon the sugar into an ice cube mold. Make sure that it is firmly packed into the mold by pushing it down with the back of a spoon.
4. Carefully turn the mold over and tap the sugar cubes out of the mold onto a paper towel. I let mine dry overnight before touching them but they should be dry within a couple hours. 

 These sugar cubes are so easy to make at virtually no cost. If you have different ice cube tray designs like I do, you can make sugar cubes in fun shapes.

Linking up with...
It's Overflowing

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tea Time

Those of you who know me very well, know that I love tea parties! For my ninth birthday, my mom planned a Victorian tea party complete with every detail from sugar cubes to tea sandwiches and scones. From there, my love for all things tea-related blossomed.  In college, I frequented the Swan House tea room in Findlay, Ohio (one of my favorite places!). And now, thanks to a friend, I discovered another tea room here in the South.

Devonshire cream, lemon curd
& strawberry jam

Chase accompanying me
to the Swanhouse :)
Glenwood Tearoom
(4 days before Hannah Rose was born!)
I've often had friends over for tea parties at my house but now I've discovered a great ministry idea thanks to Bear Valley Bible Institute. BVBI is a preaching school that also includes a women's program with courses specifically tailored to the role of a preacher's wife.  I would absolutely love to have the opportunity to attend this program. You can view a list of the women's courses offered here

I heard about a tea ministry that was discussed in both The Art of Hospitality and Evangelistic Women classes. The woman who does this ministry, takes her tea basket to someone's home and shares tea with them. Their only responsibility is boiling a pot of water! Obviously, it wouldn't have to be tea - you could also bring coffee, pastries, lunch, etc. My preference will always be tea and scones though ;-)

I was inspired by this ministry idea to get my tea ministry "fixings" together. I found an old basket and spray painted it to use for my tea basket. For now, it is mainly used when I'm taking food to someone's house but I hope to someday have my own tea ministry :) Thank you also to my dear friend Helen who just gave me these beautiful hydrangeas! Don't they look perfect in my basket?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bible Time

One of Ellie's favorite things is our family "Bible Time." As Chase and I set goals for this year, we decided it was time to incorporate family time each day where we pray, sing and read the Bible. Ellie is old enough now that she enjoys hearing Bible stories and will ask for "Bible Time" several times a day! I love her enthusiasm. Shouldn't we all be that excited to pray to our Creator and study His Word?!
 Since she has been learning about Daniel in her Sunday Bible Class, she requests we read about Daniel and the lions all.the.time. I'm trying to expand our Bible stories and was so thankful to find this blog for teaching children. I just finished making the visuals for telling the story of Jonah. All the directions are at their website. I laminated mine so that they will last longer (sorry for the blurry picture!). They even have a song that goes with it that Ellie likes to sing. I love using different visuals for our story time and this is a great addition. Obviously as the girls grow, our "Bible Time" will transition to topics relevant to their age and spiritual growth. As for now, I'm on the lookout for more visual aids for Bible stories :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Recycled Napkin Rings

I've been trying to find uses for all my leftover paper towel and toilet paper rolls for a while now (some of you know my fascination with recycled crafts). When I thought of making napkin rings with them, I started searching online for some inspiration. I love these. The tutorial I followed to make mine is here.

I went through my scrapbooking box to find some paper that would compliment my table and decided to go with a purple print.

All I used was Mod Podge to adhese the paper to the roll and then several coats on top to give it a nice, glossy shine. Have I mentioned that I love Mod Podge?

I'd love to make more in the future with fabric or a different paper pattern. We are never short on paper towel and toilet paper rolls so supply is not a problem! Since it is such an inexpensive craft, I'm considering making some fun holiday napkin rings  too, like these.

Overall, I'm really happy with the end product and thankful that it didn't cost me anything!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?

My sweet Ellie girl is getting so big! I can't believe how fast she is growing. A few years ago I read Your Mama Don't Dance by Cindy Colley. I recommend this read to all mothers desiring to raise faithful children and you can order it here. After Chase and I discussed the topics in this book, we were convicted not only that I stay home with our children but that I homeschool them as well. I am not comfortable with putting one of the greatest blessings God has given me into the hands of the public school system and the certain immoral influences that accompany it. On that note, I am always on the lookout for educational activities that we can incorporate into our playtime. Most my ideas come from friends, websites and homeschooling moms. Since Chase speaks Spanish and I have taught high school Spanish for the last four years, we would like to incorporate that into Ellie's education as well.

One of the books Ellie likes to read is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Eric Carle. We also have the Spanish version and I made these cards with each animal from the story to help her identify the animals and colors in Spanish. I found the images online, colored them and laminated them. I decided to hole punch them and put them on a binder ring so that they don't get lost. (I apologize for my novice photography attempts here...this was as clear as I could get it!).

Monday, May 2, 2011

Quick & Easy-to-Sew Changing Pad

I wish I was better at sewing but it is just not a talent that I have. I use my sewing machine for small projects like tablecloths, table runners and minor tailoring of my wardrobe but that is the extent of my skills. So, I can honestly say this is the easiest sewing project ever! Before Ellie was born, I could not find a cute changing pad for my diaper bag anywhere. I finally got the idea to make one using vinyl tablecloth material. I was fortunate to find this pretty brown and green pattern since I didn't want it to actually look like a picnic tablecloth :) What I love about this is that you can easily wash or spray it down to disinfect the changing pad. These also make great gifts for baby showers since most everyone appreciates a homemade, unique, and functional gift!

I also found plain white to back this pretty leftover fabric. I like this one because I know the white vinyl goes face down and the side that baby lies on, never touches the dirty changing station. I used both of these with Ellie and they held up so well I'll be able use them again with baby sister. All I did was cut the fabric out for the size of changing pad I wanted and sew it together. When I was finished sewing it together, I went ahead and sewed around the border to help it lie flat and give it a more polished look....well, as "polished" as any of my sewing projects could look ;-)