Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

For the first time in 6 years, we have plans for New Year's Eve! But that also means I won't be able to blog at the stroke of midnight to wish you all a Happy 2009, so I am doing it early. I pray that this is a wonderful, blessed year for each and every one of you.

Happy New Year all!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Post-Christmas Crash

I don't know about you, but I'm beat. Presents on Christmas Eve with the kids, about a zillion more presents on Christmas day with my family from Florida, two days of after-Christmas sale shopping, mini golf for the boys, and a Stingrays hockey game all add up to loss of sleep and slacking on household duties.

Today is the day for catching up. Catching up on laundry, housework, Etsy orders, and sleep for the kids.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The joys of boys.

Yesterday, Jonah was skateboarding in the street with his buddy Andrew. I was inside the house, but had front door open so I could see/hear them through the screen. I heard a thud, and then crying. Not just any cry, but the "I'm-hurt-so-bad-I-can't-stand-it" cry that instills fear in every mother who has ever heard it. Next thing I know Jonah's barreling through the screen door yelling "My nose hurts! My nose hurts!" through his tears. He had his hand over it, and all I saw was blood by his lip. My first thought was bloody nose. No biggie-Noah gets them if you look at him cross-eyed. I'm a bloody-nose pro. But nope...Jonah had to do things his own way and get road rash all the way down his face- from the bridge of his nose clear down to the space between his nostrils and his lip. boy's talented. Those have to be the two hardest places to cut up, yet he did it. What can I say- Jonah has inherited my grace. Poor soul.
At least we already took their Christmas pictures!

To-do List:

Here's my holiday to-do list. A lot of it will have to get done TODAY because we will be in Florida from tonight through Monday the 22nd, thanks to hockey.

Jen's Christmas To-Do List:
Cut out felt pieces for teapot & teacups DONE
Sew teapot & teacups DONE
Finish Sophia's Christmas shirt DONE
Pack for Florida DONE
Sweep before trip DONE
Finish Christmas ornaments for Mom DONE
Clean house top to bottom (Christmas Eve day) DONE
Make onesie & burpie for Etsy order DONE
Mail out Christmas cards DONE
Finish wrapping Christmas gifts DONE
Get Eggnog from Publix for Christmas Eve DONE
Dishes DONE
Laundry DONE
-Towels DONE
- clothes from trip DONE
Make truffles, church windows, and cheesecake for Christmas Dinner DONE
Bake Cinnamon Bread DONE
Try not to lose my mind NEVER GONNA HAPPEN!!

Think I'll get it all done by Thursday? Keep in mind that I'm going to have 3 full days away from my house between now & then. Pray for me, ya'll!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Handmade Christmas, part 4

The recipient of this gift is going to remain a secret for the time being...just becuase I don't know if she checks my blog on a regular basis or not!

Anyway, here's the seashell cross that I made for her. I glued shells and flat glass beads onto a wooden cross, and filled it in, grout-style, with a sand/water/glue mixture. I hope she likes it as much as I do!

Christmas Q & A

Found this on Heather's blog, which I follow religiously! ETA: I swear it was there!! I went back to link myself and her post disappeared. Waaah!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping Paper! Unless it's a really odd shape- then it gets bagged.
2. Real tree or Artificial? We always have artificial. The two Christmases we lived in AZ we had a real AND an artificial. Luke AFB participated in the Trees for Troops program, so both years we got a free real tree.
3. When do you put up the tree? Almost always it's the day after Thanksgiving.
4. When do you take the tree down? Usually the weekend of New Year's.
5. Do you like eggnog? Absolutely!! And Publix eggnog is the B-E-S-T! I'm so excited to be living in a state with a Publix again!
6. Favorite gift received as a child? Probably my Cabbage Patch mom made me one when I was little, which I named Rachel. I lost her on a vacation to Florida (it was a major tragedy!!) so that year for Christmas I got a new one...she had bright orange hair and her name was Tabitha Agatha. I think I still have her in a box somewhere!!
8. Easiest person to buy for? That's easy. Sophia, or my neice Gianna. I'm so excited to finally buy pink, girly things! It's funny because they're only a year and a half, but they have their obsessions already. Sophia loves anything Tinkerbell, and Gianna has a Minnie Mouse fetish. It's so fun!
9. Do You have a nativity scene? I sure do. It's a beautiful one from Partylite that my sister and hubby bought me last year.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Usually I'm a stickler for mailing, but this year we are pinching pennies, so we are mailing cards to family and emailing them to everyone else. Sorry guys!!
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A pair of Winnie the Pooh overalls when I was 20. My ex sister in law was a huge Pooh fan, and I don't know if I got the wrong gift or if my MIL assumed that every adult female loved Pooh just as much.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? I don't think I have just one favorite. I love the Grinch (both versions), White Christmas, the old, clay-mation Rudolph, Muppet Family Christmas...and theres lots more. Go here for the full list!
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I try to get stuff all through the year. But I usually crack down in October.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I do believe that I have.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Shrimp & crabmeat, Church Windows, and banket.
16. Lights on the tree? DUH!
17. Favorite Christmas song? I really love Mercy Me's version of Silent Night.
18. Travel for Christmas or stay home? We usually are stationed so far away from family that we just stay home. And this year we are close enough that family is coming to us! Yay!
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? Sure can. Can you?
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? It's always an Angel.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? We usually open one present on Christmas Eve, and then all the rest on Christmas morning. But this year my family is arriving Christmas morning, so we'll be opening our presents Christmas Eve, and then the ones from extended family on Christmas day.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? How normally courteous and caring people turn so ridiculously mean and nasty.
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? I usually do blues and snowmen. But this year is just a whole conglomoration. It's actually driving me a little loony NOT to have a theme.
24. Favorite Christmas dinner? Ham, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes & gravy. Mmmm.
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? I don't want anything material. I want my family to have a nice, relaxing day enjoying each other. It's been a crazy, hectic, headache of a year and I just want us to be able to have a day with no worries.

Your turn!! Go post on your blog, and them come back and leave me a comment so that I can go look!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Handmade Christmas, part 3

Between the two boys, there are 3 teachers to buy gifts for this year. Noah has one teacher, and Jonah has a teacher and a full time teacher's aide. I was at a loss for what to do. I baked them all bread for Thanksgiving, so I didn't want to do it again for Christmas. The other day I happened to catch a segment on The Today Show, and saw this idea by Martha Stewart. I knew right away what I was going to do for teacher gifts! I got the plain white mugs from the BX for $0.75 each, and the ceramic paint came in a sampler set at A.C. Moore for about $6. I had black transfer paper at the house already from other projects, so I just used that. I used a toothpick to make the dots, and voila- instant Christmas mug!

The boys wanted in on the craftiness, so I let them pick a color from my over-abundance of oven-bake clay, and roll it out flat. Then they used Christmas cookie cutters to make the wreaths and the tree. After we baked them up to harden, we glued rhinestones on to the front. We flipped them over and added ribbon to make them into ornaments, and the boys wrote their names and the year on the back.

All that's left to do is buy some small, flavored coffees and tie them up with plastic wrap, and send them off to school for the teachers on Friday!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mmmm Mmmm Monday: Church Windows

This is a recipe that was my Grandma Doornbos's and has been passed down from her to my mom, and now to me. It's a family favorite at Christmas time. My mom used to make them every year and on Christmas Eve we'd drive all over town and pass them (and other baked goodies) to all of her friends and coworkers. My husband and kids have taken on a love for them now as well. (They're called church windows because when you slice them up they look like stained glass.)

Church Windows

1 bag chocolate chips
1 bag mini colored marshmallows
1 stick butter/margarine
wax paper

Melt bag of chocolate chips and stick of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir mixture every few minutes to minimize chunks. Once the chocolate takes on a creamy texture, remove from heat and cool for approximately 20 -25 minutes. You don't want the chocolate to be warm/hot because it will melt the marshmallows, but you don't want it to cool too much and harden. It has to be able to be stirred.

Stir in entire bag of mini marshmallows and coat completely with chocolate.
Place a portion of the coated marshmallows on a piece of wax paper.

Roll marshmallows up in wax paper to form a log. Each batch makes 3 or 4 logs.
Refrigerate. Once the chocolate has hardened, unroll the log from the wax paper and slice. Serve to all your friends, and be sure to enjoy!

Handmade Christmas, part 2

Now that Christmas is next week (aaaack!), I'll be posting lots in my Handmade Christmas series. I'm finally finishing the 68546813 projects that I so geniusly decided to take on, thinking I'd save myself some dough this year. I still have TONS to do, but here's one that's done!

This is the kids gift to their great-grandma, whom they call Nana. I bought a $3 double frame from Walmart, printed out the pictures of the kids, and decided it needed something more. I had these iron-on rhinestone letters in my craft room, becuase I'd used some on onesies before. I thought that I'd be able to put glue on the the flat backs, let it set, and then just peel the clear cellophane off. No such luck. When I went to pull off the sticky cellophane, the rhinestones came off too. So I had to glue each and every stinkin' rhinestone on, one at a time! Oy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Soldiers' Night Before Christmas

We found this book at our BX when we were stationed in Arizona. This great adaptation of the old classic is by Trish Holland and Christine Ford. It's one of my kids' favorite Christmas books, because it helps them to realize that even people who are deployed still have Christmas. While they're daddy isn't deployed this year, he has missed more than one Christmas with our family. Anyway, I just wanted to share this, as almost anything relating to the military is close to my heart.

The Soldiers' Night Before Christmas
'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the base
Only sentries were stirring-they guarded the place.
At the foot of each bunk sat a helmet and boot
For the Santa of Soldiers to fill up with loot.

The soldiers were sleeping and snoring away
As they dreamed of "back home" on a good Christmas Day.
One snoozed with his rifle-he seemed so content.
I slept with the letters my family had sent.
When outside the tent there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my rack to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Poked out my head, and yelled, "What was that crash?"

When what to my thrill and relief should appear,
But one of our Blackhawks to give the all clear.
More rattles and rumbles! I heard a deep whine!
Then up drove eight Humvees, a jeep close behind...
Each vehicle painted a bright Christmas green,
With more lights and gold tinsel than I'd ever seen.
The convoy commander leaped down and he paused.
I knew then and there is was Sergeant McClaus!
More rapid than rockets, his drivers they came
When he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
"Now, Cohen! Mendoza! Woslowski! McCord!
Now, Li! Watts! Donetti! And Specialist Ford!
Go fill up my sea bags with gifts large and small!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away, all!"

In the blink of an eye, to their trucks the troops darted.
The engines did flutter, they sputtered, then started.
The armored moved out-it was "Duty or bust."
McClause disappeared in all of the dust!

As I drew in my head and was turning around,
Through the tent flap the sergeant came in with a bound.
He was dressed all in camo and looked quite a sight
With a Santa hat added for this special night.
His eyes-sharp as laser! He stood six feet six.
His nose was quite crooked, his jaw hard as bricks!
A stub of cigar he held clamped in his teeth.
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.

A young driver walked in with a seabag in tow.
McClaus took the bag, told the driver to go.
Then the sarge went to work. And his mission today?
Bring Christmas from home to the troops far away.

Tasy gifts from old friends in the helmets he laid.
There were candies, and cookies, and cakes, all homemade.
Many parents sent phone cards so soldiers could hear
Treasure voices and laughter of those they held dear.
Loving husbands and wives had mailed photos galore
Of weddings and birthdays and first steps and more.
And for each soldiers' boot, like a warm, happy hug,
There was art from the children at home sweet and snug.

As he finished the job-did I see a twinkle?
Was that a small smile or instead just a wrinkle?
To the top of he brow he raised up his hand
And gave a salute that made me feel grand.
I gasped in surprise when, his face al aglow,
He gave a huge grin and a big "Ho!Ho!Ho!"
"Ho! Ho! Ho!" from the barracks and then from the base
"Ho! Ho! Ho!" as the convoy sped up into space.

As the camp radar lost hom, I heard this faint call:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Shameless Plug...

Time for a little self promotion. Some of you have looked at my Etsy shop before, and others have even purchased from it (THANKS A MILLION!!). I have decided to do a Christmas giveaway on my shop blog, so that I can generate a little more traffic over to my shop. Anyway, go take a peek and leave a comment so that you can have a chance to win some Jen's Craft Corner goodies!! And be sure to tell all your friends about it, too :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Happy December!

I dont know about you, but I have mixed emotions about December this year. On one hand, I can't believe that it's already here, and that this year has gone by so quickly. On the other, I'm relieved and excited for this year to be over. It's been a tough one for me, and I'm praying with all of my might that 2009 will be better.

To me, December brings hope, promise, and usually brings out the best in people. Not always though. But overall, December is a happy, joyous month in our house. Time for decorations, Christmas cookies, seasonal music, and classic movies.

To kick of this wonderful month, I decided to make a list of my favorite Christmas movies. What are some of yours?

Saturday, November 29, 2008


The boys got to celebrate Christmas early with their Mimi & Papa (hubby's parents) this year because of scheduling conflicts for the month of December (we've got hockey tournaments and they're going on a cruise. JEALOUS!!). They were given a Wii. And so begins my quest to beat the pants of my hubby in the bowling game on Wii Sports.

I have played so much in the few days we've had it that my shoulder and upper arm are sore from the constant bowling-like movement. I even found myself playing 10 frames by myself this morning when I got up with Sophia at 7:45 and everyone else was still sleeping.

They say the first step to recovery is acknowledging that you have a problem. So, my friends, I stand up and say to you, "I'm Jen, and I'm a Wii-aholic."

New Additions

Meet the newest members of our household. Spike (the little silvery white fish) and George (the orange goldfish).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mmmm Mmmm Monday: Meatball & Veggie Stew

This recipe is from my trusy Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook. It's deeee-licious!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook: 6-8 hours

1 16-18 oz pkg of frozen cooked meatballs
1/2 of a 16 oz pkg of frozen mixed veggies (my favorite is the one with broccoli, baby corn cobs & red potatoes)
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with onion & garlic, or stewed tomatoes; undrained
1 12 oz jar mushroom gravy
1/3 cup water
1.5 teaspoons dried basil, crushed

In a 3.5-4 qt crockpot place frozen meatballs and frozen mixed veggies. In a bowl, stir together tomatoes, gravy, water & basil; pour over meatballs and veggies.

Cover & cook on low heat for 6-8 hours (or on high heat for 3-4 hours).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Who needs blocks...

...when you've got perfectly good cans?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Christmas Photo Shoot

Today we took the kids to the Dorchester Historic Site and the Battery in downtown Charleston to take some Christmas pictures. It was cold so we didn't get to do as much as I'd hoped, but the ones we did get were great!

Handmade Christmas part 1

Since money's tight this year, I have decided to make the majority of the gifts for our family. I have been working on things for Sophia, my neice Gianna, my sisters, and my mother-in-law. And I roped the boys into being crafty this year too. A couple of weeks ago we went shopping at Michaels (by far one of my favorite places!) and bought some ceramic ornaments. The boys each picked out three to paint for their grandparents and their nana. Much to the boys' delight, today was they day they got to don their paintshirts and pull out their paintbrushes and get to work. Noah was not happy I took this becuase he was still in his pj's.

Note the concentration!

The finished products. Their grandparents and nana are going to love them!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bank of America STILL sucks.

Remember a couple of months ago when this happened to me?

Well, guess what. It's happening again. Only now it's the hubby's card. We emailed yesterday to inform the bank that his card expires the end of the month and we still have not recieved his card. We got a response back today that went like this:

"Dear SSgt S,
We apologized for the inconvenience, Our records indicate that your debit card ending in **** was mail to the following address SURPRISE AZ . We have send another card Fed ex at no charge to you to the address on file CHARLESTON AFB SC on November 20, 2008, please let us know when you receive this card and what is the PIN you would like, once you receive this card your current card will be cancel.

Bank of America Military banking customer service"

SERIOUSLY? They sent it to Arizona, yet again, even though they say in the email that the address on file is in Charleston?! Come on you morons, get your act together!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An answer to prayer?

Money has been really tight for us ever since we PCSed from Arizona in February. Bobby was working a part time job helping out Webster College on the base at Luke, and he was also umpiring softball, which in Arizona is a year-round sport. When we moved, that extra income went out the window. My Etsy sales have not been so hot recently, but that wasn't really a steady source of income for us anyway. We have been praying for months about what we can do, and everything we try turns up short. We've had Bobby's truck up for sale for almost 6 months now, but with the shaky economy, we are having trouble selling. I was starting to feel hopeless.

But yesterday while Bobby was at PT in the gym on base, he was chatting with another SSgt who was working out next to him, and they were talking about their kids and such. She mentioned that she was a single mom of two, and that she was really unhappy with their current daycare. She had to drive them 45 minutes to the center, then 45 minutes back to the base, and then do the same drive again after work. She was paying quite a bit of money for them to be in that daycare, on top of all the gas she was using getting back & forth. Bobby mentioned that I'd done babysitting at a few of our previous bases, and that he'd talk to me and get back with her.

He propositioned me last night with the idea of babysitting again. I was hesitant because I love having the freedom of being able to go run errands or go shopping during the day while the boys are in school and most people are at work (I hate crowds). But then I realized that maybe this was our answer. God always provides, and sometimes it comes in the least likely or inconvenient forms, but we have to trust that it will work out. We can't be picky and say "No, God, I don't think that's good enough. What else you got?" So I am willing to take one for the team, so to speak, and try to help out my family in our struggle. The extra income will be such a relief on our minds and bank account.

We are still in the discussion phase at this point, but the more I think about it, the more I think it is the right thing to do. Please pray that we will recognize God's direction in this!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mmmm Mmmm Monday: Herb Crusted Pork Roast

3lbs boneless pork loin roast
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp. thyme leaves
1 Tbsp. rosemary (chopped)
1 Tbsp. parsley (chopped)
2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350*. In a bowl, combine all the herbs, salt & pepper. Remove silver skin from roast. Lightly brush pork roast with mustard on all sides. Press herbs on roast, and place in a roasting pan. Roast pork about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until meat thermometer reaches 150% in the thickest part of the raost. Wait 15 minutes before slicing meat.

Pipin' hot cup of chocolatey deliciousness.

When it's 30-some degrees outside, there's no better way to start the day.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I love the beach.

Yes, it's November. But who says you can't enjoy the beach in the fall?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mmmm Mmmm Monday: Salsa Chicken & Rice

Prep Time: 20 Minutes Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Stand Time: 5 Minutes Makes 4 servings

2 cups cooked white or brown rice, kept warm
1 tablespoon vegtable oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into strips
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, sliced
1 cup bottled chunky salsa
1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded Medican-blend cheese
Sour cream (optional)
Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Heat oil in large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, onion, and bell pepper; cook, stirring occasinally, for 10-12 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.

Stir in salsa; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; sprinkle with cheese. Cover; let stand for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serve over rice. Garnish with sour cream and cilantro if desired.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

So busy!

I have been so busy this week. I've been working on Etsy orders, cleaning the house, chasing kids all over the place, cleaning the house, doing endless loads of laundry, cleaning the house, going to hockey games, and oh- did I mention cleaning the house? I've also dealt with Sophia falling out of her highchair and smacking her face on the tile, and Jonah breaking his fall with his forehead while ice skating at the hockey rink today. Good thing we're not taking Christmas pictures for a couple more weeks!

The hubby has the next two days off work, so hopefully I'll either A) get some help around here, or B) get a chance to get stuff done while he's occupying the kids. I'll take either one, really. I'm not picky.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Jonah-isms v.4: The poor tree never had a chance.

We went to Raleigh, NC over the weekend for hockey. In between games, the kids got bored, so we took them outside the rink to play for a little bit. The boys found some trees with lots of pretty leaves on them, and decided to make their own fun. Here's Jonah's step-by-step instructions for breaking a limb off a tree.

Step 1. Climb out onto desired limb.Step 2. Hang from limb.
Step 3. Get help from your older brother.
Step 4. Parade around the parking lot, waving your freshly broken tree limb in triumph.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I love making the kids costumes for Halloween. Nothing beats homemade if you ask me.
Noah & Jonah both wanted to be Yoda this year. Jonah really got into character ;)
And Sophia was Tinkerbell.
They had so much fun trick-or-treating. We went with a group of friends and the boys had a blast. Noah was absolutely fearless this year...a HUGE feat for him! Sophia was a little hesitant after the first house she walked up to had a man with a scary skeleton mask. After that, she refused to walk up to the door, and would only go if Daddy pulled her up to the door in the wagon.
Hope you all had a great time!