Friday, January 31, 2014

You Had me at Jel-lo!

Ah the often overlooked, underappreciated dessert we know as Jello. Kids love Jello. Jello is fun, low in calories, versatile, and has endless possibilities. Here are some basic rules for Jello.
1. When adding fruit or other ingredients, cut the water a little to ensure a good gel.
2. Make sure water is boiling so the Jello dissolves completely.

Here are a few Jello recipes to put in a champagne flute or wine glass and surprise your little Valentines with.

Strawberry Surprise
Make a large box of Jello according to instructions. Chill Jello in a mixing bowl. When firm, put Jello into a mixer with a whisk attachment and add 1/3 tub of Cool Whip. Whisk these together until well mixed. POur the parfait mix into fancy glasses and top with a little poof of Cool Whip and a few pink and red sprinkles. Return to fridge for about 1/2 an hour. Your little Valentines will be thrilled when they see their fancy dessert!
Cherry Orange Fantasy
Make a large box of Cherry Jello cutting down 1/4 cup water. When Jello is dissolved, 
add 2 scoops orange sherbet and stir to melt.Pour into a fancy glass.  Refrigerate four hours. 
Top with Cool Whip and Red Sprinkles. Mmmmmm

Strawberry Banana Jubilee
Make a large box of Strawberry Jello according to instructions. Add sliced fresh strawberries and bananas. 
Pour into a 9x9 baking dish and chill until firm. 
Mix a box of Vanilla Pudding according to directions. When set, add one cup Cool Whip to give it some fluff. 
Spread pudding mix over the firm jello and return to fridge to set. 
You can top with cookie crumbs, sprinkles, or sliced strawberries. 
Cut into squares to serve.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Great Valentine Books For Kids

I am sort of a book goober. I like books. I love books. Real books. Paper and binding and little water stains from where I read in the bathtub and a coffee spill books. I love love love children's books. Having been a teacher a long time now, I have some favorites I thought I'd share. These are books to be read over and over and treasured and talked about. Enjoy!

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble  by William Steig
Every family should own this book about a family of donkeys who's only son dissappears. Little do they know he has encountered a magic pebble which he accidentally used to turn into a rock. What follows is a feast for the eyes and the heart.

The Jolly Postman  By Allan Ahlberg    Available on Amazon
This is the cutest book about a post man that delivers mail to all sorts of characters. It has actual envelopes on the pages where kids can open and pull out the mail for that character.

The Kissing Hand  By Audrey Penn
This is a great story about a mama raccoon and her baby who she sends off to school with a kiss on his hand for comfort. Darling!!

**More to come later in the week. 

Valentine Fun !

I think Valentine's Day can be as much or more fun for kids as adults. Keep them busy this Valentine season with a few of these ideas:

Message in a bottle:  Have you child draw a picture or write a note to someone they love. (grandparents love this)  Roll it up and place it in an empty, dry, water bottle with the label removed. You can add paper hearts, or curling ribbon, or a tiny bit of glitter to the inside of the bottle too. Replace the top and tape it in place. Place a large white label, or tape a piece of white paper with the address of the recipient on it onto the bottle. You can actually take this to the Post Office and send for around $1.50. How fun!

Valentine Pancakes and Sprinkles:  Want to enjoy a real Valentine Breakfast? Pour pancakes into heart shapes. (they don't have to be perfect, kids don't care!) Instead of syrup, put a squirt of Whipped Cream, and strawberries, or pink sprinkles. Serve with strawberry milk. If you really want to go all out, Place strips of bacon wound into heart shapes on a baking sheet and bake until crisp. Leave a little love note under each plate.

Do The Top Five:  This is good for every day use by the way, but especially appropriate for Valentine's Day. Have your child hold up five fingers. Explain you are dong the "Top Five" These are the top five reasons I love you today. Have the child fold down each finger one by one as you tell them, softly with lots of eye contact: "I love you because you...."  (suggestions: are funny, kind to your baby sister, really good at soccer, a great helper, a good tooth brusher, etc.) Be creative and specific. I like to use number five to say they are my gift from God.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Welcome to Quirky Blessings!

Check in often for :
*Family Fun Ideas
*Recipes and Cooking Techniques
*Faith Talk
*Thoughts on Life
*Crafty Creations
*Great Deals            
*Good Books                     
*Soul Challenges

"That they may know you alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth." 
Psalm 83;18

Quite Quoteable!

You will notice I use lots of quotes in my posts. I love them. I think quoting songs and movies and books and even teachers I have had, and  preachers I admire gives your discussion an extra spark. I even have some "quotes" of my own that are well known only to my family and close friends. We won't go there now. I thinking quoting someone or something ( if not done purely to be some inside joke or snobbish "I know everything" attitude) is to give it a little honor, to show you were paying attention. I like that idea. I listen to others and pick up on their little sayings and fave phrases. It's fun.

I had a big birthday last year. I got several books, two of which where quotes and phrases and life lessons from The Peanuts and Dr. Suess. I guess someone has been paying attention to me, too. Thank you. I feel very honored and loved. Some entire books even read like quotes upon quotes. Anna Quindlen's Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is a book my friend sent to me. "Rings True" said the post it note attached. Boy, she wasn't kidding. A book of quotes and thoughts by Fred Rogers, (that's right, you know him as Mr. Rogers!) is a beautiful reminder of what being a parent is all about. Then there is Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Get yourself a really pretty copy to leave on a coffee table, and a beat up copy to read and reread and reread and reread. You get the idea. She talks about nothing much and everything all at the same time. It's one to treasure.

So see if you agree with me. There are few things worse than throwing out a quote in conversation and nobody gets it. Wait... even worse is if they look at you like...Huh? I don't know whether to be embarrassed for them or me, or angry I am hanging with people who are not groovy with the quotes.For heaven's sake, don't explain it, that makes it even worse! It is right up there with talking away to your friend, or husband at a store and when you look up he/she is long gone making you look like you were talking to yourself. How lame. Have you ever tripped and almost fallen in the mall or a parking lot and caught yourself at the very last moment? You quickly swing around to see if anyone saw you and suddenly this uncontrollable giggling starts because you find yourself pretty funny. I once went to the movies with friends and left the theater to use the Ladies' room. Returning to the theater, I slipped (for what seemed like forever, arms flailing, feet grabbing desperately for traction) and eventually caught myself before I fell. I was so embarrassed and immediately got that case of silly laughing thinking about how I must have looked. When I reentered the theater, I took my seat next to my friends in the middle of a sad drama. Every 30 seconds I would start to crack up for no reason. I knew it was wrong. I knew it was disrespectful to every viewer who wiped their eyes as the mother withered of cancer. I hate cancer too. I loved this movie. I thought it was beautifully acted and wonderfully written and the truth is... that made my slip even funnier. Knowing my behavior was so inappropriate was suddenly freakin' hilarious. Oh well. Here's a quote from that movie.

"It's so much easier to be happy, my love. It's so much easier to choose to love the things you have...and you have a lot, instead of always yearning for what you're missing or what you imagine you are missing. It's so much more peaceful."  Kate Gulden, One True Thing

I like to use a form of that quote on my teenage daughter. Powerful. I have watched this movie maybe 20 times or more over the years and I still can' t believe I had the audacity to giggle in the theater.*

Simply Mad for British T.V. and Movies

Well, if you are wondering what in the "Sam Hill" I am talking about...( by the way, my friend Julie had a neighbor named Sam Hill and I always had this overwhelming urge to say really loudly.. "What in the Sam Hill?" Yah, like he never heard that before. Oh, I digress.) There is more to life than Downton Abbey. Don't get me wrong, I watch Downton Abbey. Loved last season. The first episode of this season was sort of all over the place. The second episode much better. But darlings, there is more where that came from.

 Upstairs we have a Roku player attached to our TV. It is a little box the size of a deck of cards approximately that is hooked into your HDMI cable. It has its own remote and is really fun. You can use it to stream everything from Netflix to Amazon prime and Hulu, to games and all sorts of other cooking and news and religious stations.You can use its little remote to play Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy and Angry Birds. We play Wheel of Fortune as a family and fight and crack up and then tell the winner he or she was lucky.

The Roku also streams (you have to pay for it... but shoot, it's a LOT less than a movie out) a channel called Acorn TV. It is all British broadcasting. (Why is it called Acorn? I don't know. Do the Brits like acorns? Is the president of the station a squirrel lover? I'm at a loss.) Acorn TV offers mysteries which are subtle and dark and not at all like our American cop shows. It offers miniseries, and comedies and dramas. It's cool. You can also stream through an X Box or through your computer.

Amazon Instant Video also offers British programming. One of my personal favorites is The Forsyte Saga which was a novel generally thought of as we think of romantic fiction today. I found it much deeper than that and the performances were amazing. If you enjoy British film and TV, check it out. PBS is our go-to here in the states for British TV and miniseries. I just can't get into Mr. Selfridege. Maybe it's Jeremy Piven. I like him. I just can't see him as a proper-
type gentleman in any way. I LOVED The Bletchley Circle. It was a 4 or 5 part Who Dunnit with a group of brilliant women who used to work for the government during the war cracking codes. After living as civilians for some time, they reunite to attempt to solve a mystery together using their penchant for breaking codes and finding patterns. It takes place in the 50's which I loved too.

I know what you're thinking. Dude! You sure watch a lot of TV! Well, I want to assure you that I am honestly watching less television than I did when we just flipped through channels in the evening and many times watched either whatever garbage was on, or I would zone out a little on House Hunters and Property Brothers one episode after another. No offense to those individuals that are truly excited about the pink tiled bathroom with a 30 year old toilet and want that "open concept" feeling. Oooops, snarky. I find I am watching what really interests me. I am choosing a time to sit down and really enjoy the program, or I stream it to my computer and watch while I am cooking or doing bills... whatever. It is certainly less brain dissolving than most of what's out there. A lot of it too is derived from literature, which I can appreciate since I was a English/Writing major.

Maybe you are a TV snob and don't watch TV or only watch the news or the weather channel or something like that. If so.. move on to the next article. Otherwise, Downton fans, I will keep you properly posted (posted! that's a good one) on the developments regarding British cinema. Cheers!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

It's Sooooo Me

This photo makes me smile. It's The vintage apron, the turquoise, the cross. Well, everything but the measuring tape. I don't enjoy measuring all that much. A little Boho, a little Retro, a lot of  funky fun. Now if I only still had a waist like that! 
 Rita Wilson was on a talk show where  she said we should all have a little description of our style. That's how we stay authentic through every changing trend. Four words to describe your style.

  I quickly thought about my close friends and tried to describe them. I wondered how they would describe themselves. I wondered too whose description would be more accurate? Now there's a thought.
 Anna Quindlen says getting older makes you ask yourself, "Who am I, REALLY?" and "What do I REALLY believe?" It is thrilling to think I am getting to a place in life when I might be able to answer...frightening too of course. Let's see,

** Boho,Retro,Comfy, Romantic**

I'll have to ask my girlfriends and let you know. 
In the mean time... share your FAB FOUR !

"I'll Have What She's Having!"

" That stain on my notebook remains all that's left
   of the memories of late nights and coffee in bed..." SQUEEZE

Have you tried The Pioneer Woman's trick for great coffee?
Make a good strong cup of coffee, and stir in a spoonful of sweetened, condensed milk. Heaven.

Or make a whole pot, mix in the sweetened, condensed milk, and when it cools some, put it in a pitcher and into the fridge. When you have a moment to yourself, need a break, or sit down to read this blog, pour this mixture over ice in a tall pretty glass. Heaven on ice.


Too Cute!

                        What?? A pink kitchen? I want to paint my stainless steel fridge soooo bad right now!

A Great Way to Pray

*My bible study group is doing a 33 day contemplation and prayer challenge. We are using a program called Reflections on the Daystar Cable Channel. It is wonderful: just images of nature, beautiful music, and bible verses that appear and fade from the screen. It runs about 28 minutes, so we are calling it the 28! I find it is really helping me shut out distractions. I have even watched it on You Tube on my Ipad in the bathtub! That was nothing short of awesome. Also,,, my kids know how seriously I am taking this and have been pretty great about leaving me alone. Hey! I know what you're thinking... your kids are older, what's the big deal? Listen, my kids bug me the minute I want some quiet time as much or more than when they were toddlers. Give this quick video a look, or check out Reflections on TV. Let me know what you think!