Tuesday, November 30, 2010

TT Signs of Christmas Cheer

Blogger Buddies,
I'd like you to meet another guy in my life

Know him? He's got amazing skills with flour and fondant and is known on TLC as the Cake Boss. But he's just the sweetest boss ever and....don't you just want to squeeze those Italian cheeks?! Okay...after that comment Justin may not be so kosher with my crush anymore.

But he's also the one who has nicknamed this guy my "Hoboken Hottie" so I'm thinkin he's pretty secure in the whole thing. Plus he chuckles everytime he sees Buddy's face on the screen.
Any chance the Cake Boss would come for a visit and help with the James fam birthday cakes in 2011?
Hey,  a "cake mix, canned frosting" girl can dream.

ANYways. Did you see the fun Christmas signs from yesterday? If not, scroll down and check them out to catch the vision of the tutorial to follow. You could always turn on TLC and see if Cake Boss is on to watch while you make these signs.....of course, make sure you've got some chocolate handy because you're going to want some by the end of the show. Guaranteed.

Signs of Christmas Cheer
Supplies needed:

black frames (I used cheap ones I already had, about $3-4 at time of purchase from W-mart)
assortment of scrapbook paper (already on hand)
green felt (on hand)
sparkle snowflakes ($1 for pack of 4, Target)
red sparkle letters ($3.99 on clearance at Michael's)
scissors and hot glue gun

Step 1: pop the glass out of the picture frame trace the back of the frame on the scrapbook paper to get the exact size needed.

Step 2: Cut the paper down to the needed size to fit in the frame

Step 3: use double-sided tape to attach the paper to the back of the frame. UGH. I was so frustrated my tape-runner wouldn't run so I had to pull out the tape and attach pieces individually.

Step 4: Decide on the phrases you'd like to make signs with and see what you can do with the letters given.

My goal was to make as many phrases as I could with my package of 45 pieces. If I hadn't lost a letter "a" I'd have a sign with the word "PEACE" as well.

Creativity came into play when I had to trim some letters to make new ones:
"n" became "r"
"k" became "l"
"w" became "v" for 2 different signs
etc, etc...

Trim the felt to a triangle shape for the "Merry Christmas" sign, if desired.

Step 5: Arrange letters on the papers and then secure with double-sided tape. Hot glue is needed to attach the snowflakes to the frames.

So fun. If you make one I'd love to see a picture of it !

Tomorrow is The. Day. to. Decorate. here at the James house. Exciting stuff.
Enjoy decking out your place!

Monday, November 29, 2010


Audio of this scene:

"Uh oh. Where did the green guy go? Where did he go? I do not see him"

I'm pretty sure the two looking for Mr. Green Lego Guy are the ones to be held responsible for the MIA.
I'm pretty sure they're busted (after I snap the pic, of course)
Happy Monday, All. Well, happy for all except for the Lego Guy who shall remain in his current location in the depths of our DVD player.
I've tried my known methods of lego recovery already: mission FAILED
Hopefully Big Pappy J has some tricks up his sleeve when he arrives on the scene.

It's beginning to look a little like Christmas

Hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving and fun shopping weekend like I did...
1 amazing meal complete with my mom's veggies & white sauce
2 nights in a hotel
3 days full of family time
4 different blends of coffee available in hotel lobby
5 plus hours of shopping the deals
6 desserts to follow our Thanksgiving feast
7 kids 7 and under on the hotel adventure....
wow. and wow! (they did great)
8 times I found myself completely alone for a moment. ahhhhh
9 meals in a row with no food prep or clean-up

can I do that again?!

Now Christmas season is here. YAY!
I wait until December 1st to officially begin decorating, but I don't think it's too soon to break out these, do you?

One word: Magical.

Here's a sneak peak at tomorrow's tutorial...

Yes. I made these.
In an attempt to be extra-frugal in my decor this season, I broke out the DIY skillz and made all four of these pictures for just $5 using things I already had on hand and a little creativity with my clearance sale sparkly letters.
These make me smile and I can't wait to put them up. After December 1st, of course....

So check back in tomorrow to see the tutorial and check back in Wednesday to see which of these I'm giving away!

I'm spreading Christmas cheer
for those who check my blog here

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

The smug look
The surprised look

The "look that gets Daddy everytime
because he can't resist it" look

The side profile

The toppled over look
So thankful this year
for our new blessing in 2010
Sorry, CharBear. No pie this year.
Okay. Maybe just one bite of Daddy's...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

cake balls

For the second Saturday in a row,
I embraced Chicago and it's dining and shopping opportunities.
Here is a brief recap of
Lisa, Lynn, and Laurie and our day in Schaumberg:

Cheesecake Factory for lunch:
  • BBQ chicken pizza. Yay.
  • No cheesecake. Boo.
  • Opportunity for a Re-do? Yeah.
Woodfield Mall shopping:
  • Lush (I'm in love)
  • H & M (bargains)
  • McD's (beverage pick-me-up)
  • search for curtain material: fail
  • search for treats for the fam: success
  • ginger snap cookies in cappucino flav: consumed on the way home
  • every monumental life happening in the last 3 months
  • crafty projects cuz we're so crafty
  • all the good deals at H &M
  • a recipe for Cake Balls (well.....that's what I've been calling them)
um, Lynn.....is this what they're supposed to look like?! Well--minus the popsicle sticks you told me you put in (because I didn't have any)
Oh, and I added sprinkles.
I haven't officially tried one myself because in the process of making them I ate about an eighth of a cake's worth of batter (I think).....but the fam has given them rave reviews.

Cake Balls: 
make a cake
crumble it up in large bowl
mix with a can of frosting
roll into balls
dip in melted chocolate
sprinkle them up
{oh my}

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TT Candy Cheesecake

mmmm...I'll have some of that.
it may not be from a well-known restaurant and cost $7.95 a slice

but does it work to show some love to the hubs for playing solo dad-o two saturdays in a row? o.
(Find out below)
But if you want some cheesecake love and I mean some SERIOUS cheesecake in your life, than you just might want to take note on today's tutorial:
Let's start with the crust, shall we? 2 ingredients:
3 Tablespoons butter
18 sandwich cookies

I had some helpers count out the 18 cookies needed for the crust. I witnessed a couple of dropped cookies and then overheard the same cookie being counted as #11 and 12 and then #14 and 15....so I'm not sure I ended up with the right amount in the end. Free help without a Kindergarten education. You just never know what you're going to get.

When you're a 3 year old boy and your mom hands you a hammer to whack a bag full of cookies you become Bob the Builder for a moment in time.

Melt your butter in the microwave for 30 seconds and mix it with your crushed 18 or so cookies. Press it into two pie plates to form a crust. Bake in the oven @ 325 degrees for 10 minutes. Keep oven on for later...

Time to work on the filling for these crusts:

4 pkgs (8oz each) cream cheese-I used 2 reg and 2 neufchatel cheese
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tsp vanilla
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate (I used chocolate chips)

Melt 8 oz chocolate now (about 1 min in micro) because you need it to cool.
Mix the other 4 ingredients together until well blended. While chocolate is cooling...
Crush candy of choice to add to cheesecake. I chose chocolate mint cookies (ALDI!) and Reese's Pieces. Sprinkle evenly over crust.
So by now your chocolate has cooled and you can add it to the cream cheese mixture.
Add 4 eggs--one at a time. After well-blended, pour over two candy crusts.
Bake 45 minutes or until the center of the cheesecake is set.

While cheesecake is warm, press additional candy on top. Refrigerate about 4 hours...or forget about this step like I did and stick the cheesecake in the freezer for about an hour and a half.

I asked Justin to give me a look that says he would let me do Chicago again someday. 2 weekends in a row? How good was that cheesecake? Did I mention I also made him a meal I knew he would love--
I'm seeing the look and thinking there's a chance. What do ya think?

Monday, November 22, 2010

God's Word in our Home

with 4 small children I crave time in God's Word all by myself in a quiet house. Last night I had 30+ minutes of time reading the Bible and praying with absolutely NO interruptions of any kind.
What?! I don't even know exactly how long it lasted except it went til I was content...
And of course it included coffee with sugar&spice creamer {yum} Such a lovely moment.
And that's about me and my time with God but now I'd like to give you a glimpse into the James fam bedtime routine with our boys, because around here:

Bedtime = Bibletime

(Almost) every night we read to the boys from their Bible before bed. We've tried some other kids' Bibles in the past, but we keep coming back to this one. We've probably read through this Bible 4-5 times from cover to cover since our oldest, Jonathan, was just a toddler. As you can see, it's pretty well "loved" We really like how it makes the Bible so understandable for kids. There are questions at the end which usually lead to more questions and sometimes even deeper conversations about Jesus, and God, and the Bible, and heaven...

(they're curious...and well, it's bedtime, you know!)

One son's "delay bedtime" question of last night:
"Mom, did you pray for us to be your kids or did you just all of a sudden have us?"

(prayer, son, YES. lots and lots of prayer...)

I love how my kids are at different points in their faith and understanding of God
  • Jon is very focused on sharing the love of Jesus and what that means in his second grade world. He really can't understand why anyone wouldn't love Jesus.....what's there not to love? Jesus is love and died for us so we can be with Him one day. Case closed for this 7 year old!
  • Caleb is all about heaven. In his 4 year old mind He knows Jesus is there listening to all His prayers and is convinced the house Jesus is making for him in heaven is green because that's his favorite color. Today he added that he's sure Lucky Charms are going to be in his house because (duh) that's his favorite cereal. And Jesus knows!
  • Matthias is all about praying. He wants to pray first and he wants to pray longest and he'd really like it if we'd all just give him our undivided attention as he talks to God. His main concern is that Jesus understands that he wants to see his Papa and Nana and Epa and Ema (grandparents) every. single. day. Hey, he's 3.
Do those kids look ready to sleep the night away or what?!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Anyone else need this reminder as much as I do?
Ever been excited AND anxious at the same time?
God tells us to come to Him about everything. And that excludes nothing.
And when we come we are to be thankful no matter what our "something" is.
Ever had the chance to give a worry over to God and experience His peace?
Pretty cool.
Just something to think about. Will you can join me?
That would be great!
Have a wonderful Sunday--even if yours is foggy and dreary like mine

Friday, November 19, 2010

Turkey Wishbone War is OVER

Regarding the "Turkey Wishbone War"
I LOST. How can this happen? Perhaps you all forgot the ending to your story about the turkey wishbone. Anyone want a "do-over"?

Ok People-- when you dry out the turkey wishbone and two people pull on it in opposite directions and it breaks and one side is bigger....then what?!  If you have the larger piece you throw it over your shoulder and make a wish--RIGHT?!
That is the part where the "Justin and Laurie" of this story disagree.
Justin says you just break it and see whose piece is bigger and that's the end. I say NO--how silly to end everything there. The one who has the bigger piece wins and gets to make a wish by tossing the piece of wishbone over his/her shoulder.

Well, there's a gloater in this house and it's not me.  Apparently over the years my fam has added to the turkey wishbone tradition and.......well, I lost a bet. 
But it's Thanksgiving time and I'm grateful the biggest war my hubby and I have is over a wishbone tradition.

happy thanksgiving, all! 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

God's handiwork

let me share with you a quote from a book I was reading last night "the me I want to be" by John Ortberg (surprisingly good.....I was pretty skeptical at first)

"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (paraphrase Ephesians 2:10)
You are not your handiwork; your life is not your project. Your life is God's project. God thought you up, and He knows what you were intended to be. He has many good works for you to do, but they are not the kind of "to do" lists we give spouses or employees....Your spiritual life is not limited to certain devotional activities that you engage in. It is receiving power from the Spirit of God to become the person God had in mind when He created you--His handiwork." (p 14)

I love the fact that I am God's handiwork. Sometimes I have a day where I wonder if there's any "handy" in the work of my life. But when I read the truth from God's Word, there really is no question there. You are God's handiwork, too! How cool is that?! No matter what you may be struggling with today, God's not finished with you. In fact, He's already got plans for you that you have no idea about but He does. He views your future as if it's a story already in print....and He wrote it. Now doesn't that just put an extra little spring in your step?!

Have a super day, All!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Saturday Recap

On Saturday,

Justin was rockin the homefront with these 3 crazy-fun guys

and this absolute cutie pie

(do you just want to squeeze those cheeks or what)
while I was here...in Chicago...with The Girls:
my sis-in-law, Penny, sister Holly, and my Mom (taking the pic)
We found some really great deals at the Old Navy on State Street and Holly had a 30% off coupon. Who can resist that?! Sales tax of 10.25%?! MERCY.
My mom wanted a picture of me in front of the Macy's store window because my purple coat matched the decor, and, she added, "You could put the pic on your blog." So there you have it.
Laurie and the Macy's Window 2010
Here we are at The Walnut Room where we had brunch.
So fancy, and how 'bout that tree?!
At The Walnut Room a Fairy Princess comes around and sprinkles you with fairy dust. No kidding. This Fairy Princess was for real and she was as syrupy sweet as you could possibly imagine. I'm all about bringing on the (awkward) moments such as these....
My mom took this picture of the GAP store windows. I'm not exactly sure why GAP is embracing that year but 1969 was the year my parents were married. awwwww
And here you have my mom giving some love to the clarinet player who was bringing us some great jazz music as we waited to cross the street. He totally deserved it. This posed pic is inside the department store where we were checking out perfumes that cost more than I could sell my entire fall wardrobe for. Beautiful Christmas decorations, though!
We got some special treats while we were in the big city: Frango mints, Garrett's popcorn...but we ended the day with a trip to Ghiradelli Chocolate Shop and I got this:
Salted Caramel White Chocolate Mocha

There are no words.
Except maybe WOW.

It was a full day in Chicago and I had a blast...I LOVE Chicago.
Justin had everything totally under control when I got home:
The boys were already in bed and Charity was all pj'ed up and ready to lay down... AND the house was all picked up. Amazing, right?
Well....it doesn't stop there. I'm getting another Girl's Day in Chicago (well, Schaumberg) this weekend with some friends.
How did I manage that?! I posed the question to one of my friends who also has 4 small kids: "I have no idea" was her response. haha.
But seriously.....it's because I have a great husband who even encouraged me to do both days away.
how blessed am I?! 
Hope you're enjoying great day, too!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

TT Pumpkin Cobbler

Good morning and welcome (back) to Tutorial Tuesday!
Today I bring you a sought-after recipe....probably for the pumpkin flavor and super-easyness....

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp each, nutmeg and cinnamon
1 can pumpkin
1 can evaporated milk
1 box cake mix (spice or carrot)
1 stick butter, melted
pecans, optional

Mix together sugar, spices, pumpkin, and milk. Pour into 9 x 13 pan. Combine cake mix and butter. Sprinkle on top but do NOT mix. Add pecans, if desired.
Bake @ 350 for about 50-60 minutes...until set in the middle.

***make your pumpkin cobbler how you like, but I like to make half pecan and half not. Who can argue with compromise that makes the whole family happy? It creates unity and that's a pretty biblical concept, you know!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Don't You Just Love Mondays...

What a fun weekend--trip to Chicago, a visit from friends (surprise!), restaurant meals of all kinds, and Justin's preaching.....

I want more!
Well, maybe that's all I can handle because I actually went to bed at the same time as the kids last night which NEVER HAPPENS.

So I'm wondering... if I went to bed at 8:30 last night with the kiddos then how come I didn't just pop out of bed with my kiddos this morning at 7am? UGH. I thought I'd actually be all "morning person" today after a night like last night. No such luck, people...

But alas.....enter my own little coffee bar with 6 flavors of creamer to choose from for my morning coffee. Big smile. For those of you keeping count: YES I have added one since last time I mentioned my abundance of coffee creamer selection. And for those of you currently passing judgment....NO Peppermint Mocha and Chococlate Mint Truffle are not the same thing. And YES I need both because I can't decide which I prefer-- and it changes from day to day.
Today I chose neither and went with White Chocolate Caramel, another steller flav. I needed it because this morning was Pick N' Save morning, and if you don't have this grocery store in your area you are missing out.
Shopping there is a game for frugals like myself because they offer fun rewards like free milk with 6 boxes of cereal and "Turkey Points" that add up as you shop, and there's those exhilerating "Double Coupon" days that can just make your heart soar--but enough of that because today was not even a double coupon day nor did I receive a free milk....
But I needed to get about 3 items you can't find at Aldi (my #1 fav bargain store), ended up with about 8 other items I figured I "needed" (why does that always happen?!), and one of those items got me into a little bit of trouble...
So much trouble, in fact, that I had to be rescued by fire fighters in the produce section of Pick N' Save. People, I'm not making this up. Here I am, shopping along with 3 of my children, and I decide that if I bought some tomatoes than I'd be able to serve tacos later this week and who doesn't love tacos?! Enter this beast:
Ever used one of these things? Yeah......all fun and games for the kiddos inside but as a mom trying to lug this thing around the store you can get yoursef into some real jams. Which I did on this particuar morning.
I jammed the cart into the tomato aisle and couldn't maneuver the thing out. Enter firefighters (fellow customers of Pick N'Save at the time)--who were busy talking about this souffle-thing they were going to be making in the firehouse later that week and the cat they just rescued (okay, I couldn't resist the fireman joke right there)
but ANYways they noticed my battle with the cart and offered to steer my kids to safety. Whew. Disaster avoided. My kids are no longer stuck amongst the red veggies.....or are they a fruit? Either way, I would like to give a shout out to the firemen who saved my children's lives. I'll stop with the cat jokes. After this post, okay? And do I get any mom points here for appeasing my younger boys and taking that humongous cart in the first place? thank you.

hope you're all having a super day......whatever your adventures are!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

the dad of the house.

Well, Blogger B's, as much as I love you all, don't bother checking out the Justin & Laurie Story tomorrow. No blogging for this mom.

Cause I'm taking the day to EXTRA love on my kiddos. I'm getting a day away to CHICAGO (!!!) on Saturday and I just know I'm going to miss them.

I'm sure they'll miss me some....

but the Daddy of this house who's going to keep everything together while I'm away is a fun guy.

What's making those leaves swirl around like crazy? See below:

Yeah. That's what I'm talking about. Fun. Daddy.

This is not something we could get turned in for, is it?!

Jon's amused at least!

Don't forget to check back in on Sunday, though.
I'm sure I'll have some uber inspiring words from the Scripture to share with you because my absolute fav preacher is opening God's Word and I just know it's going to be good!
Happy Thursday, All!