Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Recap



He y'all (I'm a Southerner now since I'm posting this from the heart of the South)! I know I said I wouldn't be posting this week, but I couldn't stay away. Especially since my friend, Jo-Lynne, is hosting a 2010 Recap blog party.

The idea is that we're supposed to take the first line from the first post of every month and link to that post. That way you can go back and read through the year and some of the fun we've had around here. So here are my contributions. If you'd like to see more blog recaps, head over to Musings of a Housewife.

JANUARY

"I spent a lot of time this week looking back, but today I think I'll look forward."

My first post of the year looked at all the stuff I already KNEW I'd be doing in 2010--travelling quite a bit, watching one daughter graduate from high school and start college, watching the others grow up immensely. But I had no idea about some of the fun ways God would surprise me throughout the year.

Makes me excited for 2011.

FEBRUARY

"Shhhh. We snuck (is that a word?) away for the weekend."

This was a Travel Tuesday post (remember those? I used to do them fairly frequently.) about my grown-up trip to Park City, UT with my hubby and some friends. What a great weekend that was!

MARCH

Truth-be-told, I’m tired as I write this post. I’ve had a long weekend.

Oh gee, what a terrible first line! If I were grading my own paper I'd probably say something like "How does this make me want to read any further?" Ugh.

Anyway, this post was Part 5 of my "Intentional Parenting" series--probably one of the areas of my blog from 2010 of which I am most proud. You all gave me such great feedback, for which I'm so grateful. I'm working on developing these ideas further in 2011.

APRIL

“So how was your Valentine’s Day?” my sweet friend Meghan asked me this week.

O.K., I'm trying to figure out how I posted about Valentine's Day in April, but I think it was a re-post or something. I have no idea. Just goes to show you how unprofessional I am about this blogging thing.

Anyway, this is a very funny post showing you the real ins-and-outs and intricacies of our marriage. My favorite thing about this post is its title: "You'd think that after 25 years of marriage we'd be better at it."

MAY


"Every Saturday morning from mid-April through October, our town holds a French Market."

This was an I'm-getting-excited-about-summer post that highlighted one of my favorite Saturday traditions--going to the French Market in our town. Now that it's the dead of winter, it's kind of nice to look back on this and realize that winter won't last forever . . . even though it feels like it might.

JUNE

"Twenty-five years of . . ."

Our anniversary is on June 1 (every year!), and this one was special. When we got married I couldn't even imagine how it would feel to be married to B for 25 years, but looking back, it's like the blink of an eye.

JULY

"Sometimes I follow a recipe. Sometimes."

Somewhere around mid-year I decided to incorporate regular recipes into my blog, hence "Fabulous Friday Food." I love sharing recipes and even though some people might think that's a little hokey, I have heard from more than a few of you that you kind of like my recipes too. But I'd love to know, should I keep going with this?

AUGUST

"My oldest, Kate, leaves for college today."


I'm so glad this post came up because it's one of my favorites of the entire year. Sending your first child off to college is a pretty big deal. You really do wonder if they're ready for the challenge. Here's how I knew Kate was ready.

SEPTEMBER

"I'm in a funk this week."

This was a great post to read again--all about how life's curveballs can throw me into a funk and how on earth do I get out of it? Psalm 45 has a good answer.

OCTOBER

"It's pumpkin time and I couldn't be happier."

Another recipe. This one's for pumpkin squares which are, if I may say it, yummy!

NOVEMBER

"Don't you just love that Allstate commercial that's on right now? That guy who plays Mayhem and drives all over town creating a ruckus?"


Needless to say, life in 2010 has been full. And wonderful. And tons and tons of fun. Here's just a glimpse into one weekend.

DECEMBER

"So, I really haven’t told you anything about our Thanksgiving yet."

Just a little Thanksgiving recap, but this post really made me chuckle. And judging by some of your comments, it made you chuckle too.

Thanks for laughing along with me and my "wild" life in 2010. I'm so glad you have all come along for the ride (and if you'd like to invite your friends to this little party for 2011, I'd be more than honored!). Like I said earlier, I really am excited to see what God has in store for 2011. I hope you'll stick around to see what happens.

Shelly

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Howdy, y'all! I'm in the land of the cowboys . . . and tumbleweed . . . and restaurants. Enjoying Christmas with the fam.

Just in case you hadn't noticed, I'm taking this week off from the blog, but be sure to come back next Monday when I'm sure I'll have more fun stories to share from this Wild Life.

Have a great week, everyone!

Shelly

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Top 10 Lines from "It's a Wonderful Life"



Last Saturday our family took an excursion into the big city. I had been hearing for years about the Christmas Show at the Music Box Theater in Chicago—it’s a double feature of “White Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” which was right up our alley.



Plus, it’s interactive, which is also right up our alley. Asking our family to not talk during a movie—PARTICULARLY a movie named “It’s a Wonderful Life”—is like asking us to, oh, I don’t know, not breathe.

Which reminds me of the time when B took me to see “Sophie’s Choice” when we were in college. Never mind the fact that the movie was a complete downer, we were on something like our third date, so we had some catching up to do. What can I say? We chatted.

Until the guy behind us told us, about halfway through the movie, to pipe down in some not so friendly terms. Talk about embarrassing. On your third date.

I think it bound us together for life.

I guess that could be a life lesson: be careful about getting shushed with a guy. You just might end up marrying him.

But then again, I’ve also been shushed with a girl. My college roommate, Jennifer and I got shushed in church one time. Also embarrassing.

I’m seeing a pattern here. I’d better shut up about it.

ANYWAY. Back to last Saturday and seeing “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Musicbox Theater. Let me just tell you that that was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in a long time. Just walking into the theater was amazing—it’s old and grand and beautiful and dark. It really brought me back to my childhood and the old theater we had in our town where my mom would drop me off every Saturday afternoon while she ran her errands.

Even before the movie started, some carolers came out on the stage and started a singalong. And then, Santa came out and sang with us. I tell you, I felt like a kid again singing those old non-religious Christmas songs. (What do you expect? It was the city. There was nothing religious about this day at all.) It was pure childlike Christmasy fun.



Not only that, but the crowd—those who had been to the Christmas Show before—all came dressed in their Santa hats and jingle bells. I had no idea what that was all about until the movie started. Every time there was a reference to Clarence everybody jingled their jingle bells. And every time Mr. Potter came on, everybody went, “Ssssssssss.”

Oh, it was fun.

And since I’ve seen “It’s a Wonderful Life” a time or twenty, I thought this might be a good time to share with you MY top 10 favorite lines from the movie and why. These may not be the most famous lines from the movie, and they may not be your favorites, but they are some of my favorites. Believe me, it’s hard to narrow all the great ones down to just ten.

Top 10 Lines from “It’s a Wonderful Life”

1. “George Bailey, I’ll love you till the day I die.” I think this might be my favorite line in the entire movie because as young Mary Hatch whispers this sweet sentiment into George's deaf ear she knows, even at age 10, that she loves this boy. I like a woman who knows her mind.

2. “This old thing? Why, I only wear this when I don’t care how I look.” Now Violet, the flirt, flips her hair and kicks up her heel while she says this line. I wish I had about one tenth of her gumption.

3. “Could I have $17.50?” I’ve heard that when the woman in the movie says this line and George leans over the counter to give her a kiss it is completely impromptu. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I like to think it is.

4. “Wish I had a million dollars! Hot dog!” Traditions like this one in Gower’s Drug Store don’t come along that often. Plus, who doesn’t wish they had a million dollars?

5. “Mr. Martini, how about some wine?” Yep, that Mary Bailey is my kind of gal.

6. “That’s what you get for praying.” George, in his moment of desperation, prays for some help and instead gets a pop on the lip. Don’t you ever feel like saying that?

7. “George, why must you torment the children?” This line is spoken quite frequently in my house, substituting B’s name for George’s, of course.

8. “Happy family? You call this a happy family? Why’d we have to have all these kids?” Another line spoken even more frequently in our house.

9. “I’m shakin’ the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I’m gonna see the world!” That’s how I felt when I left my little farm town for college, and you know what? I have.

10. This year I noticed something that I had never noticed in the movie before (which is what makes this movie so great--you catch something new every time). There’s a sign on the wall in George’s office that says “All you can take with you is that which is given away.” I think that’s a pretty great life motto, don't you?

Now tell me, what's your favorite Christmas movie (and as an FYI, "It's a Wonderful Life" is NOT my favorite one--"Holiday Inn" is my true favorite)? What's your favorite line from it?

Shelly

Monday, December 20, 2010

Fabulous Friday Monday Food - Our Favorite Christmas Cookies EVER

Hi there! I'm just waiting for my in-laws to arrive and for the Christmas week festivities to begin.

I'm super-excited about tonight's dinner: Ina Garten's Tuscan Lemon Chicken, Butternut Squash Risotto, roasted asparagus, and Honey Whole Wheat Bread. Drooling, I am.

And for dessert? Probably a little ice cream and an assortment of cookies. What else is there at this time of year?

As I was daydreaming about tonight's dinner (I do that kind of thing a lot--honestly, if you ever got really inside my head . . . ) I remembered that I forgot something. (My family is shocked right now.)

I told you a while back that I would give you the recipe to our family's favorite Christmas cookie . . . EVER. I think I've made about four batches of these babies this season so far. And I'll probably make another before the week is out.

But first I have to tell you that I have no idea if these are really Christmas cookies at all. One of my college housemates, Bonnie, who was the most beautiful, blonde Swede I've ever known (still is, as a matter of fact!), used to make these when we lived in Fellowship House together our senior year. I fell in love with them then, and I still love them today.

Somewhere along the way, I took to adding some Christmas-colored sugar to the tops of these and, voila!, Christmas cookies.

Bonnie just called them Swedish Cookies, aka Brun Brot. Maybe in Sweden they eat these in the summer, I have no idea, but here at the Wild house, we eat them at Christmas. Every year it's the first and pretty much the only cookie my family demands that I make.

Everything else is just fluff. It's the Brun Brot they want.

Basically, these are an almond-flavored butter cookie. Delish, that's for sure, but I think it must be something about the shape that makes these cookies extra-appealing. They're just perfect for dunking into a cup of coffee or tea, kind of like biscotti but without the crack-your-teeth-on-it-and-have-to-run-to-the-dentist-on-Christmas-Eve kind of thing. These are soft and buttery and just a little bit chewy.

And SO easy to make. You must make these. Today. Because time is running out.

Here we go. First, assemble your ingredients: butter (lots), sugar, brown sugar, Karo syrup (Bonnie's original recipe called for Dark Karo, but I never have that so I just use the light stuff. It works.), almond flavoring, flour, and baking soda. Pretty basic, right?



Next, whip together the butter (make sure it's room temperature) and the sugars. Beat the heck out of them until they're really fluffy.



Then add everything else. Your dough will be kind of stiff, but that's how it's supposed to be.



Just throw it out on your counter and knead it a little bit, forming a big ball of dough.



Then divide it into four smaller balls.



Next, gently roll each ball of dough into a rope, a little shorter than the length of your cookie sheet.



Slightly pat down each rope and cover with colored sugar.



Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes until the edges are slightly browned. See how they spread out?



Now, here's the important part. Let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes, then slice them on a diagonal, making about 1 inch pieces.






Plate them up and give some to your college kid! They will disappear faster than you can say Santa Claus.



Bonnie's Swedish Cookies (Brun Brot)

3 sticks butter, room temperature
1 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 Cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Karo syrup
1 teaspoon almond flavoring
3 Cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix together butter and sugars, beating well. Add remaining ingredients and mix well (you can do this with your hands, too). Place on cookie sheet in 4 long ropes. Barely pat down; add colored sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes until the edges are barely brown. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then slice into 1 inch pieces.

Now tell me, what's YOUR favorite Christmas cookie?

Shelly

And the Winners Are . . .

Random Number Generator chose the following numbers as winners for the I Have a Bean giveaway:

4 - Becky

3 - Jodi

6 - dmswelch3

16 - Kent Weber

21 - Beverlydru

Please contact me within 24 hours at wildmom3@sbcglobal.net with your address so we can send your coffee to you. Congrats to all the winners!

And don't forget to head over the the MODsquad blog where I'm guest posting today!

Shelly

I'm Over at MODsquad today!

"One year ago I remember looking forward to 2010 and realizing that it was going to go FAST. We had already planned a couple of amazing trips for the year, plus our oldest daughter would be leaving for college in August, so we knew that with all we had going on our year would fly.

It did . . . ."


I'm posting at the MODsquad blog today. Read more about what God did with my crazy year and how I'm "paying it forward" over there.

Shelly

Friday, December 17, 2010

I Have a Bean *giveaway*

What do you get when you combine one missions trip, one struggling relative, one Weber grill, and a man with a vision? You get a coffee company called “I Have a Bean.”



I Have a Bean was started in 2007 as a brain-child of Pete Leonard and a couple of business partners. I chatted with Pete last week and got the scoop (get it?!) on his passion for people, coffee, and God. It’s one of those stories that you just gotta hear.

In 2005, Pete took a missions trip to Brazil with his church. While there, Pete visited a coffee plantation where he says he tasted the best coffee he had ever had. Always the coffee-lover, Pete decided to learn to roast his own coffee when he got home using his Weber grill as the roaster.

Around the same time, Pete had a relative who had been released from prison. As Pete described him, his relative was brilliant, a mathematician, computer programmer, and captain in the Army. But he had lost his way, gone to prison, served his time.

And when he was released, Pete’s relative could not find a job. Anywhere.

Pete continued to learn the art of roasting coffee, still using his Weber grill, and got pretty good at it. So good, in fact, that his neighbors were asking him for his coffee. And paying him for it!

But Pete kept thinking about his relative, the former prisoner who could not get a job. Through a friend who is now his business partner, Pete was introduced to Koinonia House, a local ministry for ex-prisoners. These men, who have come to faith in Christ while in prison, are allowed to live at Koinonia House for 18 months, be discipled in their faith, and then need to find gainful employment. But Pete knew that gainful employment is hard to come by if you’ve got a prison record.

And this is where two worlds collide. Pete’s experience with and compassion for his relative and his love for coffee became a business that is also a ministry. I Have a Bean is a micro-roasting coffee company that employs former prisoners with the idea that they can gain some work experience and some solid references so that they can make their way back into the working world. It's a great concept, and it's working.

Pete has a dream to expand his micro-roasting operations all across the country, still employing former prisoners. He realizes that there are ex-inmates all over the country who are struggling to prove themselves, and Pete would love to give them the opportunity.

Let me tell you, this coffee is amazing. The concept is to keep the roasting plant small enough to ship coffee the same day it’s roasted. That’s some fresh coffee! Pete explained to me that once it’s roasted, coffee is considered fresh for only 21 days. Once it’s ground, it’s only fresh for about 4 hours. The great thing about I Have a Bean coffee is that it’s sold BEFORE it’s roasted, which means that once they have your order, they roast it and ship it on the same day.

Pretty cool, huh?



I could go on and on about I Have a Bean—the concept, the ministry, THE COFFEE!—but you can read more about it on their website. Which is also where you can order their coffee. Which you should do.

But first, you have GOT to enter today’s giveaway. Because I Have a Bean has offered not one, not two, but FIVE lucky winners a pound of coffee. FRESH coffee!

All you have to do is leave me a comment. Anything. Tell me what you're doing for Christmas. Tell me what you had for dinner. I don't care. Just leave a comment.

You can get additional entries by . . .

. . . announcing this giveaway on Facebook.

. . . Tweeting this giveaway to your pals.

. . . following me.


So there. Four chances to win one of five pounds of freshly roasted coffee from I Have a Bean (please make sure to leave me an email address or a way to contact you if you win). I'll leave the giveaway open until Sunday night. Winners will be announced on Monday.

Edited to add: I was writing this late last night and totally forgot to tell you something. Pete has graciously offered ALL of my readers a 10% discount on their purchase from I Have a Bean. Simply use this coupon code for your order: WS1-4724. I hope you'll give it a try.

Shelly

Thursday, December 16, 2010

And The Winner Is . . .

Dan McBride!!

Seriously! Random.org selected number 17, and that's Dan.

Congratulations, Dan. I'll get the earrings to you in time for Christmas!

Shelly

Halleluia!

Hi there! The Diane Jaderholm jewelry giveaway is still going on through Thursday night, so if you're looking for that, scroll down a little further and leave a comment.


Earlier this week I mentioned that I went to my daughter’s high school “Holiday Program.” That’s public school-speak for “Christmas Concert.”

Whatever you call it, it’s a celebration. A birthday party for One who seems, these days, to be nameless. We’re all walking around either trying to avoid saying it or saying it so loudly that our neighbor cringes at our advances.

Why can’t we just say what it is? It’s Christmas!

Our not-so-small public school shouted it from the rooftops last Sunday afternoon, and I, for one, am so thankful for it. It’s like a pleasant surprise every year when I get to attend this concert in the middle of all the hubbub of the season. Not only because the music is so good, but also because at the end of the concert the combined music groups perform the “Halleluia Chorus.”

There we stood—parents, siblings, grandparents, neighbors—some singing along, some merely listening as our students performed some of the greatest music ever composed. And as I stood in the crowd of believers and non-believers alike, I listened to the words again: “King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And He shall reign forever and ever. ”

I get choked up every time I sing those words, especially when I’m in a crowd like that. I mean, here we are, in a public high school gymnasium, singing praise to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. How amazing is that?

And proclaiming alongside my neighbors that “He shall reign forever and ever.” Amen and amen!

Some in the crowd have no idea what they are singing, no idea what it means. But when I hear those words I just can’t help but think of the Heavenly chorus that will never end. The chorus of men, women, children, and angels all singing to the King who will reign forever.

And it makes me tingle with anticipation of that Great and Glorious Day when He will come again, that day when we who have believed will finally be able to join in the Heavenly chorus. How much fun will that day be?

This week I’m thankful, once again, for our very large, very public high school. Because on Sunday afternoon I got to worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

. . . in a gym

. . . with my neighbors.



Shelly

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

DeDe Jaderholm Jewelry *Giveaway*


Christmastime is here, and you know what that means. It means a whole bunch of husbands who don’t know what to get their wives.

Just last week my husband, in a moment of complete and utter helplessness over what to get me, threw up his hands and said, “How about if we go over to DeDe’s, and you can pick out some jewelry for yourself?”

I grabbed my coat and ran for the car as quick as the Roadrunner could run from Wile E. Coyote.

(Insert picture of a cloud of dust here.)

I’ve told you about Diane Jaderholm Designs before. Dede is an amazing artist who handcrafts every piece of jewelry she sells.


My favorites are the pieces she makes with antique buttons from France. So cool. So beautiful. So classic.

Just check out these bracelets made with buttons. I have one, and every time I wear it I get a compliment on it.



But she also makes some pretty neat contemporary pieces too. You can check out many of Dede’s one-of-a-kind pieces on her website.

To really appreciate Dede’s talent, you have to attend one of her shows to see her work in person. She sells her original jewelry out of her home a few times a year, and if you live in the Wheaton area, you really should go.

If you don’t live in Wheaton, you’re really out of luck. For so many reasons. But you can still order from Dede online (although her website only shows a portion of what she actually sells). Or give her a call. She’ll make whatever you want.

Today, because Dede’s jewelry is probably one of my Top 10 Favorite gifts ever, and because B let me pick out some pretty incredible pieces that I can show you AFTER Christmas (yes, he’s still going through with the wrapping and making me wait until Christmas to open them, even though I already know what I’m getting) . . . because of all that (did you get lost in that sentence? I did!) I am giving away one pair of Dede Jaderholm earrings.

These earrings are made with sterling sliver interlocking loops with bright green and blue glass beads. So fun and spring-like. And aren’t we all needing a little hope of spring right about now?

You will love these little beauties, and you can win them if you leave me a comment. Head on over to Dede's website, take a look around at all of the beautiful pieces she makes, and come back and tell me which piece you'd like to have.

And just because I love you, I’ll give you three more chances to win (leave separate comments telling me you did this).

Tweet this giveaway to all your Twitter pals.

Mention this giveaway on Facebook.

Follow me in an RSS feed.

Good luck, and I hope you win!

Shelly

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Catching Up

Well, it's catch up day here.

As in catching up on errands that needed to be run. (Tide, anyone?)

As in catching up on cleaning things that needed to be cleaned. (Fresh sheets, kids?)

As in catching up on putting things away from the weekend. (Where DID I find that water pitcher anyway?)

As in returning all the things I borrowed from friends. (Two trips, perhaps?)

My marathon party weekend has ended, and I must say it was really fun. A long time ago I took a spiritual gifts class and discovered that I have been cursed blessed with the gift of hospitality. I do sometimes think it's both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that I get such satisfaction out of cooking for people and serving them and making them feel welcome in my home, but a curse in that I'm just so worn out after it's over.

Plus, I miss them all. I'd like them to come back . . . .after I've had a nap.

Today I'm also catching up on writing some blog posts that need to be written. I have two exciting giveaways this week that you DO NOT want to miss.

Tomorrow I'm giving away something I count in my Top 10 Favorite Gifts of all time. You'll have to check back to see what it is. It's so great that you just might want to keep this one for yourself.

And on Friday I will have a super-fun giveaway for the coffee lover in us all. I'm actually quite jealous that you guys get to win this one.

So stay tuned while I get caught up today. And come back this week for your chance to win some really great gifts.


Shelly

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gratitude Journal

Things I'm thankful for today:

11. Watching "It's a Wonderful Life" with my husband who is, in so many ways, George Bailey.

12. A high school music program that ended with the singing of the Halleluia Chorus. Amazing.

13. Kids who pitch in without asking.

14. People to walk alongside.

15. Grace poured out on me this week.

16. Our church body.

17. Poinsettias on the podium.

18. Little girls.

19. Warm coats.

20. Heat on a very cold day.



Shelly

Monday Morning Mayhem

Good Monday Morning! I'm going to be brief here because there are places to go and people to see and lots to do today.

Our weekend was . . . in a word . . . busy. But so much fun!

Friday night was party #1 with a sweet young family from church here for dinner. The best part was watching Maggie, who is just starting to babysit, have so much fun with their two-year-old daughter. I don't know what it is, but I just love watching my girls nurture other little kids. We work in the nursery once a month and it's fun to see them interact with the babies there too. So sweet!

Saturday night was Party #2--the high school youth group progressive dinner. It's a fun event where the kids get dressed up in formal wear and travel to three different homes for three courses of the meal. Then they all end up back at church for dessert and a special time together.

We, of course, had the main course, so I went with my old standby for things like this: chicken parmesan, pasta, and bread. It was so good--one of my favorite meals--and soooo easy. One happy mama here.

Sunday. Oh Sunday. You just about kicked me to the corner, but I survived. The day started out at church which was wonderful and restful and Christmas-y. We then ran home to scurry around to get ready for Party #3 which, I thought, was going to be a group of college students coming over for pizza. But then I decided to look at my phone and found a text from the night before (silly me! How could I have gone to bed before 11:30 and missed the text?!) telling me that Party #3 was going to have to be postponed until after Christmas Break. College kids had other plans.

No worries. I had plenty to do to get ready for Party #4. So I spent the afternoon polishing silver, setting tables, and baking homemade rolls. Until we had to GOT to go to Abby's concert at the high school. This year the high school gave us parents presents--they cut the concert down from three hours to one hour. Wasn't that nice of them? Actually, they split it into two concerts so we only had to go to one. The one Abby was in.

Here's the best part of their program: everyone stands while the choirs sing and the musicians accompany the Halleluia Chorus. Can you believe that? In a very large public high school?

Can I just tell you that I love our community? I do.

After the concert we rushed over to church to listen to our church choir put on their annual "Lessons and Carols" program. Amazing. It's like a professional choir and a professional orchestra singing and playing the most beautiful Christmas music of all time. I loved it.

It made me feel all Christmas-y again.

And then there was the small matter of a church meeting after the concert which pretty much crushed that Christmas-y feeling. But I think I'm recovered now.

The Christmas-y feeling is back. And just in time too, because tonight is Party #4 (or #3 if you're really keeping track). We're hosting the pastoral staff from our church with their spouses. About 30 people in all.

As Maggie put it the other day, "Wow, that's a lot of holy in one place."

So if you don't hear from me for a few days you'll understand why. Four parties in four days (almost). But you know, it's what I do. I party. And I cook. And I host.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Shelly



P.S. I was just kidding about the not hearing from me for a few days part. I'll be back later today with a Christmas Tour of Homes post. Lots of fun going on at Nester's place today.

And the GIVEAWAYS!! I've got some giveaways lined up this week that you will NOT want to miss.

So I'll be back. I hope you will too.

Friday, December 10, 2010

And the Winner Is . . .

Joy!

What an appropriately named winner for this time of year. Ha!

Except that, Joy, I think I know who you are, but I'm not sure, so please contact me right away (wildmom3@sbcglobal.net). I need your address so that I can send you your prize.

Alright, I know you're all on the edge of your seats with wonder about these quotes. You probably haven't been able to sleep all week because you're so tied up in knots over this. So here you go. . . . The answers.

1. "I . . . I . . . I want a BIG one." It's a Wonderful Life (of course!)

2. “ All I want is what I... I have coming to me. All I want is my fair share.” A Charlie Brown Christmas (said by Charlie Brown's sister, Sally)

3. "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." Elf (duh!)

4. "Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to." Miracle on 34th Street

5. “Is this toothbrush approved by the American Dental Association?” Home Alone (the first and best one)

6. “Yellow eyes. The kid had yellow eyes!” A Christmas Story

7. "Hey, we’re all misfits too. Maybe we’ll stay here for a while." Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

8. "Happy Birthday!" Frosty the Snowman

9. “Oh, Linda Mason.” Holiday Inn (my personal favorite)

10. "I don't know what to say, except it's Christmas and we're all in misery." Christmas Vacation

So tell me, what are some of your favorite Christmas movie quotes? I'd love to know.

Shelly

The Hectic and the Happy

Hi there!

I'm just wondering . . . is your life as crazy as mine right now? I mean, are you hosting three parties at your house in the next four days? And are you attending your child's Christmas concert (sorry, I guess I should call it a "Holiday Program" since our kids attend public school)? Are you shoveling snow?

And then did your college daughter call and ask if she could bring a group of friends over on Sunday night, making it four parties in four days? Not that I would EVER turn down the opportunity to have Kate's friends over here--it's what I live for, having those college kids here. I'm not kidding! I really love having them around. So that's a no-brainer. "Of course, honey. Bring the whole dorm!" (O.K., that part I'm kidding about.)

Oh, and in the middle of trying to keep your house clean and cook for these parties are you having a new furnace installed?

If you answered YES to all of these questions, then your life is indeed as hectic as mine. Fun, isn't it?!

What about Christmas shopping, you ask? Let's just say that I am very, very far behind in that arena. Santa might just want to send his elves personally to my house because the shopping just might not get done.

And cards? I've officially decided that they just aren't going to happen this year. Even though my friends at Magnet Street offered me a discount (HEY! they're still offering YOU a discount too--15% off your order using this promo code: EFFA373Z7E), I just don't think it's going to happen. I'm so bummed. But then I figured, you all know what's going on in my life anyway, so really, there's no need to send cards.

Well, I'm not going to complain about the hectic because I love it. I love the people we've invited into our home. I love being hospitable (it's one of my gifts, you see). And I love celebrating with good food. So it should be a full and fun weekend around here.

But it doesn't leave much time for blogging. Which is kind of frustrating because there is so much I could be writing about right now. It gets all muddled up in my brain and then I don't write it down because I don't have time or paper nearby and then it flies right out the window. Oh, my brain. It's like swiss cheese.

Hang around though, because a couple of posts just might happen. Like this afternoon, for instance. Check back to see who won the Starbucks gift card. There's still time to play! Just scroll down and see how many Christmas movie quotes you know.

And there just might be a Fab Friday Food coming sometime this weekend. You'll be so happy about this one. Our family's favorite Christmas cookie . . . EVER!

And then . . . next Friday . . . a super-sweet giveaway for coffee lovers. I'm really excited about this one, so be sure to hang around.

Life is definitely on the Wild Side right now. You won't want to miss a minute of it.

Shelly

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Movie Quotes--A Game and a Giveaway


Our family is constantly quoting movies--I don't think a day goes by that someone in this house doesn't quote a movie. Just the other day, for example, Kate stopped by the house for something (who knows what it was--a piece of cake, a pair of shoes, a kiss from her mama) and as she was leaving she said all spiffy like, "Catch up wit'cha later!" which, if you lived in this house, you would recognize as a quote from "She's the Man."

Oh Amanda Bynes, you crack me up. Someday I'll have to do a list of Amanda Bynes movie quotes. She's one of my favorites.

Anyway . . . suffice it to say that we're just a movie-quoting family around here. Other people don't get it, but it's kind of like a secret language that we speak. Most often-quoted movie of all time (in our family anyway)? "It's a Wonderful Life," of course! I don't have time to go into all that "It's a Wonderful Life" means to our family, but I'll try to get around to that post another day.

A day on which college girls aren't imminently arriving to bake cookies at my house--yikes!

Hey, why don't we make this a game? I'll post the quotes and, just for fun, you post the name of the movie in the comments section. And to make this game even more fun, why don't I offer a prize to the person who gets them all right? How 'bout like a $20 Starbucks gift card? (If there is more than one person who gets them all right, I'll do a random drawing to determine the winner.)

Yeah! This is going to be fun!

So here we go . . . ten Christmas Movie Quotes.

1. "I . . . I . . . I want a BIG one."

2. “ All I want is what I... I have coming to me. All I want is my fair share.”

3. "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear."

4. "Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to."

5. “Is this toothbrush approved by the American Dental Association?”

6. “Yellow eyes. The kid had yellow eyes!”

7. "Hey, we’re all misfits too. Maybe we’ll stay here for a while."

8. "Happy Birthday!"

9. “Oh, Linda Mason.”

10. "I don't know what to say, except it's Christmas and we're all in misery."

Let's see . . . I'll give you until Friday at noon to make your comments. Make sure you give me your email address so I can contact you if you win.

[Edited to remove the sentence about not cheating. Cheat away!]

Have fun!

Shelly



P.S. Tell your friends to come play too! The more the merrier!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Gratitude Journal


B and I waited seven years before we had children. Does that surprise you?

I know that seems like a long time, and sometimes it felt long for us, but God knew what He was doing. There was a little matter of grad school for both of us that we had to get out of the way. And then there was the little backpacking trip through England and Scotland that we needed to do. And so many other things to do and work to be done that we just didn’t get around to having children for a while.

But the main reason, I believe, that God had us wait to have children until just the right time can be summed up in two little words: Veggie Tales.

God obviously knew that it would take a village for me to raise my children and that village would have to include such characters as Bob, Larry, and a little asparagus named Junior.

I feel extremely sorry for anyone who had children either pre-Veggie Tales or post-Veggie Tales. If you had kids anytime after 1993 and up until the early 2000s, you probably know what I’m talking about. But if you had kids prior to the ‘90s, you probably didn’t get in on the craze that was Veggie Tales.

A moment of silence for the children of the ‘80s. For so many reasons.

Thankfully, B and I had our kids in the ‘90s and were fortunate to be able to buy into the Veggie Tales craze. And, boy, did we buy into it. I think Phil Vischer has me personally to thank for that addition he put on his house in 1998.

But I digress.

There are so many great Veggie Tales videos, and the impact they have made on my kids is huge. Apparently they have made an impact on my pastor too, because two Sundays ago he made reference to “Dave and the Giant Pickle” in his sermon. Go figure.

One of my all-time favorite Veggie Tales episodes has got to be “Madame Blueberry,” the story of the ungrateful, unhappy lady who wanted to buy all the stuff at Stuff Mart and the little girl she meets along the way who teaches her something about gratitude.

There’s a song in “Madame Blueberry” that I think of so often and it goes like this:

I thank God for this day
For the sun in the sky
For my mom and my dad
For my piece of apple pie!

For our home on the ground,
For His love that's all around
That's why I say thanks every day!

Because a thankful heart is a happy heart!
I'm glad for what I have
That's an easy way to start

For the love that He shares,
'Cause He listens to my prayers,
That's why I say thanks every day!

A thankful heart is a happy heart. I believe that. And since we just celebrated Thanksgiving I’ve been thinking about thankfulness a lot lately.

Ann Voskamp hosts a blog carnival that is focused on gratitude. She started out simply listing thing on her blog that she’s thankful for—a few every week. Her goal was to come up with 1,000 things that she was thankful for, but once she reached 1,000 she just kept going. I think she’s somewhere around 2,500 now.

I love that Ann records things from the simple (socks) to the profound (grace). I love that she jots them down on scraps of paper whenever she thinks of something to be thankful for. And I’ve been thinking that this would be a really helpful exercise for me.

And so, each Sunday (or Monday, or whenever I get around to it but hopefully once a week), I’m just going to jot a few things from the previous week for which I’m thankful. They will probably be mostly simple (I am a huge Veggie Tales fan, after all), but hopefully some will fall into the profound category.

I don’t know how long it will take to reach 1,000—hopefully not until my first grandchild is born!—but I’ll just keep listing things until I get there. I hope you’ll join me on my gratitude journey. (If you want to link up with Ann, you can do that here.)

Here are my first few:

1. A supportive husband of 25+ years.
2. Three of the most beautiful girls anywhere.
3. A warm house on a cold day.
4. My church.
5. The people in my church.
6. Our families.
7. The friends in our small group.
8. Exercise
9. Amy, who helped me clean my basement.
10. The amazing opportunities I had to share my faith last week and the report I got that one woman gave her life to Christ at one of the events. Praise God!



Shelly

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fabulous Friday Food - Molasses Cookies

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas.

My kitchen is filled with the scents of cinnamon and ginger and cloves because today I baked my first batch of Christmas cookies! (Everybody cheer!)

If my family is lucky, it won't be the last. But if my calendar keeps filling up the way it has been, this very well could be the last batch.

(December is already kicking my behind and it's only the 3rd.)

Anyway, the first batch of Christmas cookies is always very exciting for everyone around here and is usually this very cookie because everyone loves them. Even Thunder kept sniffing around the kitchen hoping for a crumb or two.

I got this recipe probably over 20 years ago from my friend, Angie, when we worked together. I've tweaked the recipe just a little to suit my tastes, but it's still Angie's recipe.

And so, without further adieu, I give you . . . Molasses Cookies.

First, cream together one stick of butter flavored Crisco with one stick of room-temperature butter.



It should be really creamy, like this:

Next add 2 cups of sugar and beat this mixture really well. Same after the eggs. I have found that my cookies turn out best when I beat the batter like crazy, making it really fluffy and light.


O.K., so . . . to speed things along here . . . add some more stuff like, well, molasses would be good, and maybe some dry ingredients, until you have cookie dough that looks something like this.


Here's when you want to call your kids to come help you. Take a tablespoon or so of dough and roll it into a ball. Then roll the ball into some white sugar.




Line 'em up! (Are you as careful as I am about lining up your cookies? Or do you just throw them anywhere on the cookie sheet?)


O.K., I don't know what happened, but I didn't get a picture of the finished product on the cookie sheet. But here's what you have to know about baking these cookies. DON'T OVERBAKE THEM!!! Please. For all that is good and right and true in this world, do not overbake these cookies. I found that if I baked two pans for 7 minutes, and then switched the pans and baked them for 2 more minutes, they came out perfect. Your oven temperature may vary, so just watch them.

What I DID take a picture of is this cute Christmas plate that I've probably had for more than 20 years. My youngest sister, Jodi, gave it to me when I was first married. Isn't that sweet? I still love it.


Anyway, pile up the molasses cookies on a pretty plate.


It won't take long for them to be devoured.



Molasses Cookies

1 Cup butter flavored Crisco
1/2 Cup room-temperature butter
2 Cups sugar
1/2 Cup molasses
2 eggs
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
4 Cups flour

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Mix Crisco and butter together until fluffy. Add sugar and beat well. Add molasses and eggs. Add dry ingredients.

3. Roll one full teaspoon of dough into balls and then roll in white sugar.

4. Place balls on cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 7-9 minutes.

5. DON'T OVERBAKE!


So tell me . . . have you baked any Christmas cookies yet? What's your favorite?

Shelly