Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

You have made known to me the path of life: you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. - Pslams 16:11 NIV

Image credit: Angel Guide

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Make it from Scratch

Merry Christmas Eve, Eve as my kids like to say, and welcome to this week's edition of the Make it from Scratch carnival. Here are a few last minute ideas for your Christmas celebrations and more.


As expected the sweet treats abound in this week's carnival. Feast your eyes on these holiday treats.

mom2my9 presents Super Lemon-y Sheet Cake! posted at 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven.

Our Red House presents Gran's Fruit Mince posted at Our Red House.

MC presents Oreo Snowball Truffles posted at Shibooya.

Mama Bear presents Coffee Chocolate Chip Biscotti - A Christmas Project #5 posted at I've Got a Little Space to Fill.

Liz Nast presents It is autumn and that means PUMPKIN PIE FOR DINNER! posted at Industrial Light and Morons.

Julie presents Fun and Tasty Christmas and Holiday Desserts posted at More4kids.

Joanna presents Rachel Ray's Fudge Wreath posted at One Krusty Mama.

HappyCampers presents Don't Buy Caramels Anymore...Make Your Own! posted at The Adventures Of The Williams Family.

Woman can not live by sweets alone. (Though she certainly could try this time of year.) presents Exploring Czech Food – Part VI - Famous Potato Salad (Poznavame Ceska Jidla – Cast VI - Slavny Bramborovy Salat) posted at, saying, "It is hard to find an authentic recipe for the real Czech potato salad, which is traditionally prepared during Christmas. This recipe will give you the closest taste using ingredients from abroad and will make you famous amongst Czech and other European communities."

vh presents Christmas dinner plans posted at Funny about Money.

Mary@SimplyForties presents Why Not Try A Duck? posted at SimplyForties, saying, "It's not as hard as you may think!"

Kelly from Almost Frugal presents 5 Ways to Use The Rest of That Cranberry Sauce posted at Almost Frugal Food.

Stephanie presents Canning Stew Meat posted at Stop the Ride!.


Pretty up your Christmas table, gifts, and outfit.

Joanna presents A Christmas Centerpiece, Year 2 posted at keeping feet.

Kris presents Veggie Might: Bead Me Up - DIY Holidays Part Two posted at Cheap Healthy Good, saying, "Thank you for hosting!"

Belle presents Handmade Decorative Hair Pin posted at Homesteaderbelle's Blog, saying, "This is a post about a hair pin I made with a bobby pin, seed beads, and wire. "

makingthishome presents The Greenest Wrapping Paper You Can Make (for free!) posted at Making This Home, saying, "What a fun project. Thank you, and I look forward to everyone's ideas."

RecycleCindy presents Pointed Granny Dish Cloth posted at MyRecycled Bags.


A little of this and a little of that made from scratch.

Alex presents Cat Urine Smell Remover Recipe posted at Home Life Weekly, saying, "It can be difficult to remove cat urine smell from furnishings as the cat urine odor tends to linger, well instead of buying expensive odour removers, this recipe can be used to remove the odor of other pets as well."

Anthony Delgado presents Website Promotion from Scratch posted at Need Extra Cash?.

Stephanie presents Edible Gifts: Putting it all together posted at Make It From Scratch.

Thank you for joining us this week for Make it from Scratch. Submit your posts for next week's carnival using the Blog Carnival form. The carnival will be at A Dusty Frame.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It is a gift...No it is a science lesson.

I saw this wonderful (and inexpensive) idea for a Christmas present over at Greenhab. We put several of these together using paper white kits purchased at Aldi for $4 a piece. Each kit contained four bulbs. We also bought several bags of pretty stones at the Dollar Tree. The glass containers we already had. 

We planted the bulbs about two weeks ago. Some of these we gave away before the plants really had begun to grow, but now they are growing and I can't help but see a science lesson here. When else can you grow a plant and actually see the roots? 

I brought all the kids into the kitchen for an impromptu science lesson. We talked about the plant parts and their functions. The cool thing is the learning doesn't stop there. 

We are keeping one of these for ourselves and in a few weeks should see the flowers. Then after the flowers fade we can talk about how the bulb stores up energy. At the end of the summer we will allow our bulb to go dormant for 5-6 weeks and then start the process over; the complete cycle. How cool is that? Kellen is less than impressed, but I think the other kids will enjoy it. 

You just never know what may turn into an educational opportunity. These were intended only for Christmas presents. They have become a pretty science lesson also. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

A new Christmas Tradition?

This week the kids and I were talking about Christmas Day, and the subject turned to what we should have for our Christmas dinner.  After cooking a traditional meal for Thanksgiving, and enjoying other similar meals with our church and 4-H group in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are ready for a little something different. But what?

I thought it might be fun to let the kids help choose the dishes. They were all for this idea, and quickly started offering suggestions. Their suggestion all sounded delicious, but let's just say they were a little heavy on the main dishes and desserts. So we decided to write down some food categories on small pieces of paper. We threw the papers into a hat and everyone drew out a category to choose a dish from. We started with the youngest.

Vivian drew "dessert" out of the hat. Her choice; cookies.

Nolan drew "appetizer." After explaining to him what that meant and giving a dozen or so examples, he finally settled on shrimp.

Lydia picked out "side dish." It only took her a second to decide on mashed potatoes. 

Kellen got the other "side dish." His choice; pepper jam with cream cheese and crackers. I felt this really was an appetizer, but could not convince him, so a side dish it will be. 

Tim drew the coveted "main dish" category. We will be having grilled chicken breasts wrapped in bacon. Unless of course a deer is taken, then it will be bacon wrapped fillets. 

That left me with the beverage choice. It will be sparkling fruit juice for the kids and wine for the parents.  I may try to make egg-less eggnog also. 

It may not be the most nutritionally balanced meal, but it will be delicious. We had a lot of fun coming up with our menu. I think this may be a new tradition in the Appleton household. 

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Warm and Cozy

Almost fourteen years ago, Tim and I embarked on this wonderful adventure called marriage. There have been good times and rough times, and so many memories made. The adventures started from day one of our marriage. 

We were married Tim's freshman year of college, during his Christmas break. Pressed for time and money, we decided to rent a cabin from a family friend for our honeymoon. 

The cabin was located nearby, in a remote area of Central Ohio. Being in the middle of nowhere, in a cabin during a cold Ohio winter may not appeal to some, but to two young, wildly in love outdoor enthusiasts, the romantic appeal was tremendous. Not to mention the price was right. 

We packed our hiking boots, our favorite foods, a huge bottle of wine, a few games, and headed off to the woods. When we arrived we cranked up the heat, started a fire, and went to setting up the kitchen in our first "home" as a married couple. 

While unpacking and getting organized, we were blissfully unaware of the fact that the cabin really was not warming up. We prepared and consumed a meal, and sat down to play cards at the table. Though we were thoroughly enjoying ourselves, as the sun set, we began to notice that our toes were awfully cold. As were our noses, and was that my breath I just saw?

A check of the thermostat revealed that it was not just our imagination, the cabin was cold. The furnace was running, but the vents were blowing cold air. We called the owner of the cabin, Dan. 

Dan was a retired small town preacher. He reminded me of a backwoods Santa. He had a gray beard, balding head and the round belly to go with it. Most likely you'd find him in jeans with suspenders, a button up plaid shirt, and hiking boots. He was kind, and not easily riled up. 

He explained that the gas for the furnace came from a well on the property, and that sometimes it just didn't have enough pressure to keep the furnace going. He tried to walk us through a fix that sometimes worked. It didn't work for us, and he said he'd be there in the morning. 

Thinking of that situation now, I know I'd be hopping mad if that happened to us today. I can assure you that now, if the electric goes out and we are left with only the fireplace for heat, I do not in the least find it romantic, but fourteen years ago it only added to the ambiance. 

The bedrooms were on the opposite side of the cabin from the fireplace, and freezing cold. We pulled one of the mattresses out into the living room, and laid it on the floor in front of the fireplace. We made the bed with every blanket we could find. We snuggled in under the blankets, and had no trouble staying warm. 

Late the next morning Dan came, tinkered with the furnace, and got it running. The rest of the week the entire cabin stayed warm and cozy. The mattress, however, stayed right where it was for the duration of our romantic winter honeymoon in the woods.  

In our fourteen years I wish I could say that we have embraced every challenge with such enthusiasm and idealism. There have been times I’ve been down right frustrated and angry at situations we’ve faced, but I can say we have faced those challenges hand in hand. From the other side of the challenges, we can appreciate them for the growing experiences that they have been. After all isn’t facing challenges together and learning from them what this adventure called marriage is all about? 

This post has been entered in the Scribbit Write Away Contest. December's theme is Keeping Warm. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Trying to out smart me again....

I'm feeling the pressure to get things wrapped up for Christmas. That combined with a virtually empty refrigerator and cupboards pushed me to do something I normally would not consider - an all day shopping spree - with four kids. 

Yes, I normally take the kids with me to get groceries. Then we are talking about half the day and two, maybe three stores. Yesterday we left at 10 and did not return until after 5, making a quick stop at the library, hitting seven different stores, stopping only for lunch with Tim. It was craziness I tell you! 

In the midst of all this Vivian (2) devised another way to try and out smart  her momma. Vivian loves to push the cart. She thinks she should be able to push the cart solo. I don't mind letting her help, but c'mon she is two. She can't see to drive the cart, even if she could actually handle the thing.  It is a pretty regular battle, especially in stores that have the smaller carts like CVS or the Dollar Tree. 

Yesterday in the Dollar Tree, she was insisting on pushing the cart. I told her she could, but then I went to the front of the cart to help steer it. Oh the drama! You'd think I'd taken her favorite toy away. She finally settled down, and decided if she couldn't push the cart herself she wanted nothing to do with it. 

She was content to walk beside the cart, and after awhile she started playing a game. She was pretending to be the momma. The kids play house a lot and take turns being the parents, so this was nothing out of the ordinary. But then she turns to me, grabbing the cart,  with mischief in her eyes, and says, "You Vivian. Me mommy. Me push the cart."

This Little Piggy

The piggies aren't so little anymore...Christmas ham anyone?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Why so quiet?

Since I haven't posted in over a week you might think it is quiet around here. Is it ever quiet around here?! Nope there is always something going on. 

Thanksgiving was good.  Aunt Hazel, Terry, Jeff, Gail, Uncle Steve, Ashley, Miles and Amy all joined us. Thursday was nice and a few of us got up super early to go shopping. It was mass craziness, but really I don't mind. It is a different kind of mass craziness than what I usually shop with. (Meaning shopping with four kids!) I found a few things, and marked a few people off my list. I still have a way to go. 

Monday it was back to the normal schedule; school and band. We had co-op on Tuesday, and went to a friends on Wednesday for a bit. Tim was off Friday which always messes me up. I like when he is off, but then it seems like a weekend, but it isn't. Then he goes to work on Saturday and it doesn't seem like a Saturday, but more like a Monday. And well, I'm rambling. . . .

Today we got a space ready in the barn for the sheep and moved them there. Maggie looks to be getting pretty close to lambing. It may be a few weeks, but with this super cold we are having, I'd rather be safe than sorry. We put Mini with her, but apparently Maggie still isn't happy and was crying and tried to get out when Papaw was up there. We don't have the ram. He was loaned out to service the ewes of a friend of a friend. He agreed to keep him over the winter, and that is fine by me. It is so nice not fighting that big bully every feeding time. Not to mention we don't have to worry about him fighting with the other animals now either. 

We were supposed to have a church dinner, but it got cancelled because of the weather. Yes, it is that bad here. It was in the teens last night, and never got very warm today. It snowed a good deal of the day. Tim drove home at about 10 MPH. He said the roads are all iced over. They were predicting a cold winter. So far they are right. 

Tim decided to go out and hunt since we weren't going anywhere tonight. Now, I have to figure out what is for dinner. Feels like a clean up leftovers night to me. Then maybe a family movie night and bed. Hope you are keeping warm where you are!