Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 in Pictures

Here is a review of the year with a picture of the boys taken each month of 2008. Enjoy!












We are SO blessed!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Reflections on 2008

It's hard to believe another year is coming to a close. They seem to go a little faster with every passing year. :) This year was in many ways, a challenging year. Here is a bit of my reflections on the 12 months of the year.

- worst flu Andrew and I have had in years (maybe ever!)
- a master bedroom facelift
- boys move out of cribs

- first weekend getaway since having kids

- our 6th anniversary
- Grandma F. unexpectedly passed away
- trip to IA to celebrate her life

- the sad loss of Grandpa F. - a mere 3 weeks after Grandma
- Andrew headed back to IA
- Calvin turned 3 with a Monster's Inc. family party
- 1 year since the passing of my Grandpa J.

- kicked and screamed our way to a new-to-us minivan
- Calvin began weekly speech therapy at Riley hospital

- I celebrated my last birthday before 30
- trip to Chicago for Kazapalooza
- serious (and scary) pain, swelling, and numbness for me
- Uncle Merle is killed in a tragic motorcycle accident

- the call came from our former agency out of the blue
- one week later we met C. and she asked us to parent the baby boy she was carrying
- 9 days in Michigan for vacation
- Patrick turned 3 with a Cars family party

- hosted two bridal showers in one day
- decided it was time to cut back my working more permanently and said a sad goodbye to a practice I'd been with for 7 years
- Baby Titus was born 2 weeks early
- on our way to meet him we received a call that we would likely not be bringing this baby home
- we tried to guard our hearts but fell in love anyway
- a difficult and extremely emotional 2 weeks later, we were amazed to come home with Titus Paul
- Calvin & Patrick started school

- adjusted to having a newborn
- adjusted to being a family of 5
- participated in and celebrated Steph & Jeremy's wedding

- celebrated 2nd adoption day for Calvin & Patrick
- Elliot & Ashley's beautiful wedding
- Andrew turned another year older
- a fun weekend with cousins

- Titus' final adoption day
- Open House Celebration for Ty
- back to work 5 hours a week
- Thanksgiving with a trip to the ER
- 5 celebrations
- enjoyed a visit with friends from highschool

- many trips to the doctor for Ty's respiratory issues
- Andrew worked many, many hours
- Titus' baptism
- annual Christmas open house
- a quiet and wonderful Christmas with our 3 boys
- celebrations with family
- unfortunate news that a nebulizer will be necessary for the remainder of the winter
- tremendous monthly costs for neb medicine for the remainder of the winter
- transmission problems with our Jeep

It's been a year. I'm thankful to be doing better physically - after talk of potential surgery on my right arm, I was quite concerned. Things started to settle down in July and a few months off work helped, too. So surgery is on hold (and hopefully won't be necessary!) until another major flare-up.

After much unexpected loss during the first part of the year, we are thankful for a better second half of the year.

Titus truly was the highlight of the year. We marvel at God's choosing him to be in our family. We certainly did not expect a new baby in 2008. His big brothers adore him and we can't imagine life without him. We are so incredibly thankful for God's sustaining grace during the difficult two weeks in KY when we wondered day to day if we would actually get to be Titus' parents. And we are thankful for his final adoption being completed making him forever ours.

In many ways, this December has been one of the most difficult months that I remember but even through the many doctor's appointments and many hours of Andrew's work, we have clearly seen God's hand. We have been so blessed and no matter the circumstances that come our way, we know God's ways our higher than our ways.

I'm ready for 2009! A few things we are looking forward to: a weekend getaway, Kazapalooza, vacation, camping, seeing Andrew more, and spending time as a family. I'm hoping to get back into couponing and saving more effectively (this was pretty difficult to keep up with especially after Aug.), to spend more time reading and in Bible study, to cultivate friendships (for myself and my kids - I feel like I haven't gotten back in the groove since Ty and I'm feeling a bit lonely), and to work on editing and publishing a couple of cookbooks (one for our extended family and perhaps a personal one - we'll see). I'm sure there are many more things like making memories with my boys and continuing to work on their books. :)

Mostly, I just feel thankful as I reflect on God's gracious goodness to us in 2008.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Different Perspective

This time of year, I read a bunch of articles and blog posts about keeping things simple. Now I'm all for not overspending or being stressed out but seriously, do you ever just decide that not everything has to be simple - that you are going to make the cookies that take 3 hours? :) Is it ever worth it to throw caution to the wind and go all out? Is there a time of the year where making memories or blessing others trump simplicity? (And I am NOT saying you can't find ways to do those things simply...I'm just submitting an argument for those who might want to be more elaborate.)

I LOVE this time of year. And while I'm glad people feel free to celebrate in different ways, I sometimes find myself feeling guilty for my enjoyment of things not so simple. I'm not looking for ways to simplify. I don't need permission to not do things - I want to do them. We put up 3 Christmas trees, make lots of cookies and candy, send out many cards and letters, welcome 50 or more people into our home for our annual open house and just generally enjoy all things Christmas. :) I don't do this to make others look or feel bad and I don't feel burdened by these things - it is a joy, it is part of my creativity. And I pray they are a blessing to others.

So while everyone is writing about simplicity, I'm writing to say - don't compare yourself and your celebration to others but rather, enjoy the holidays the way you want to. :) It's a wonderful time to reflect on family and friends and focus on the best gift of all - our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

From our Family to Yours...

Wishing you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS


Monday, December 22, 2008

Guess the Book

Loraena tagged me a couple of weeks ago for this meme - guess the book from the 5th sentence on the 56th page. I'm just now getting to it but what a fun meme!

Here are the "rules":
- Take ten books, and transcribe the 5th sentence from page 56.
- Five of the books must be fiction
- Provide five hints
- Tag six other bloggers

So here are my 10 book quotes:

1. My earliest Mother memories lie laughing blue-eyed in the grass, child herself, rolling side to side as Rachel and Leah decorated her all over with purple-clover jewelry.

2. She looks lonely and sad, don't you think?

3. You knew, you knew that was going to happen and you didn't say a word.

4. But I was thinking about a suitcase on the floor, about a face I could never quite see, about the sweet smell of cold cream.

5. And furthermore, she was single!

6. You can't save the whales by eating whales, but paradoxically, you can help save rare, domesticated foods by eating them.

7. Paul not only wanted to know Christ, he wanted to be like Him; and he pressed forward with utmost intensity toward that goal.

8. Praying daily for a different unreached-people group gets missions under the skin.

9. Much more often our difficulty lies in knowing how to apply the clearly understood parts of God's Word to everyday living.

10. In his economic study American Agriculture n the 20th century: How It Flourished and What It Cost, University of Maryland professor Bruce L. Gardner notes that the United states has lost two-thirds of its farms since 1920.

Now for the clues (I'm giving you a couple more than 5 :)):
- The first five are fiction and I've read 9 of the 10 (#8 is on my to-read list and appropriate for this time of year).
- #1 & #6 are by the same author - one fiction, one non-fiction.
- #6 & #10 are both local food related - I read both this year.
- #2 was one of my favorite books growing up - there are 8 books in the series (6 main ones). I also love the two movies made from this series - I do not like the sequel (3rd movie). #4 is also a movie - made this year.
- #3 is a strange book that was a national bestseller - Henry and Clare are the main characters.
- #5 is by the same author as Saint Maybe and features two different families whose paths cross at an airport.
- #7 & #9 are both on living the Christian life.

Now for the tagging - I'm tagging a few people that I know love to read:
Heather of Blackberry Rambles, Catherine of Catherine Wheels (she just had a baby so... :)), Stephanie of Facts, Facets, Fancies & Fairy Tales, Jeremy of The Hodge Podge Emporium, Lana of When It Don't Come Easy, Jenna of The World of Jenna
Feel no pressure but I would love to see what you are reading or what you recommend of late!

All right folks, guess away! I'll be revealing the answers sometime in the next few days. :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday Menu Plan & Family Favorites!

I've been sitting here and debating whether I should menu plan this week and decided that even if it doesn't go as planned, it still helps keep my week organized.'s this holiday week plan with several of our family favorites!!!

I marked our FAMILY FAVORITES with ** - most are annual traditions!

- **Egg Casserole (bacon, cheese, & spinach), **Raspberry Coffee Cake, Fruit Salad (pears, apples, and oranges)
Dinner - **Sweet 'n Tangy Pot Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Glazed Carrots, Applesauce, Salad, Sweet Potato Cornbread w/Orange Butter, Goodies (**Sugar Cookies, **Double Chocolate Fudge, **Butter Pecan Fudge and more :))

The Rest of the Week: :)
Creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup, Salad
BBQ Meatballs over Rice, Steamed Vegetables
Sweet Potato, Sausage, & Kale Soup, Bread
Teriyaki Vegetarian Stir-fry, Rice

We'll see if all this happens - I'm using up leftovers from our open house this past week in many of the recipes. Hope you have a wonderful and blessed week filled with family, friends, and celebration. Thanks to Laura for hosting every week.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Keeping Creative Kitchens: Cookie & Candy Edition

Welcome to the cookie & candy edition of Keeping Creative Kitchens!

Baking has been one of my favorite hobbies for several years. The holidays are the time I do the most (we love having everyone for our annual open house - it's my excuse to bake way more than we could possibly eat :)). I just love the smell of fresh baked cookies and the beauty of homemade candy. But the taste? The taste can't be beat.

I had wonderful plans to take pictures of my cookies and candy but alas, you'll have to settle with recipes today and the assurance that they not only taste good but they look good, too! :) I'm going to share three favorite holiday treat recipes with you.

Sugar Cookes (BEST EVER!)
We've been making this recipe for as long as I can remember!
1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tb. cream or milk
3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, cream and vanilla and mix until blended. Add dry ingredients. Divide into 3 or 4 rounds and roll out. Cut with seasonal cookie cutters. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-8 min. until barely golden. Ice with your favorite frosting and top with sprinkles. Make 5-6 dozen.

Butter Pecan Fudge
This is from Taste of Home. I first made it maybe 2 or 3 years ago and now we make it every year - it's very rich but absolutely delicious!
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped

In a large saucepan, combine the butter, sugars, cream and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla. Stir in confectioners' sugar until smooth. Fold in pecans. Spread into a buttered 8-in. square dish. Cool to room temperature. Cut into 1-in. squares. Store in the refrigerator. Makes 1-1/4 pounds.

Double Chocolate Fudge
This is my version of another recipe. It makes SO much - great for giving as gifts. I often cut the nuts in half and only add them to half the mixture so I have with and without nuts.
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup butter, divided
2 3/4 c. milk chocolate chips
4 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 jar marshmallow creme
1 can evaporated milk
4-1/2 c. sugar
2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans

Line a 13-in. x 9-in. pan with foil and butter the foil with 1 tablespoon butter; set aside. In a large heat-proof bowl, combine the chocolate chips and marshmallow creme; set aside. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the milk, sugar and remaining butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 4-1/2 minutes. Pour over chocolate mixture; stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in walnuts. Pour into prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm. Store in the refrigerator. Makes 6 pounds.

Hope you enjoy these holiday treats!

Happy Thursday, everyone! Thanks for stopping by Keeping Creative Kitchens! I'm looking forward to all your great ideas, recipes, and resources. Feel free to grab the button for your post - you don't have to know me to play along and you don't have to participate to comment or ask questions! :)

Here are just a few guidelines for participating in Keeping Creative Kitchens:
1) Leave a link to your post with Mr. Linky (I am fully aware that there will probably not be many - or any :) - participants but I think this will make participation easier!).
2) Your entry can include a new recipe (either your own creation or a new-to-you-recipe), favorite recipe, success, tablescape/centerpiece, short-cut, ingredient, tradition, book, magazine, tool or gadget, food photos, recipe website or any thing else that keeps you inspired in your kitchen.
3) Please link back here in your participating post.

Hope you have fun, meet new people, learn a few things, feel encouraged, and find inspiration as you prepare meals, care for your family, and entertain!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ladies Enjoy...Guys Beware

**I don't have many male readers that I know of but there are a few of you and you might want to skip this post. :)**

This is the time of the month
that chocolate was created for.
This is the time when no toenail
should go unpolished.
When going to the mall is enough of a workout,
thank you very much.
This is the time when, if something
is even slightly annoying,
the world should know about it.
And if you feel like crying,
there is no inappropriate time or place.
It's your period.
You have the right to make it
the best period it can possibly be.
And we're here to help.
Have a happy period. Always.

I recently came back across this ad (not sure what magazine it appeared in) that my sister sent me a few years ago and it totally made me laugh (again!) - in that sad identifying way. :) So true. So true. I wish I could take credit for writing it. :) Hope you enjoy!

You Just Need...

Some days you just need coffee and lots of it with an extra measure of sanity and patience on the side. Today is that day. :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Boys

These fun-loving guys can't get enough cars - they use their train table as a road, build roads and buildings out of their blocks, and have as many as 30 cars queued up. If you ask them what they want for Christmas, they will tell you 'cars.' :) Somehow I don't think it will always be so easy (and inexpensive) to please them. :)

This sweet guy turned 4 months yesterday...I have yet to take his 4 mo. photos - maybe tomorrow! He is overall very good natured and smiley. He has just started rolling from his stomach to his back in the past few weeks.
New pictures to come soon!

Themed Keeping Creative Kitchens #2

At the great suggestion of my friend, Heather, this week's Keeping Creative Kitchens will be the cookie and candy edition! Share your favorite recipe(s) that you love to make and eat. :) Hope you can join! We will not have KCK on Christmas or New Year's so Jan. 8 will be the next one after this week!
I really haven't fallen off the face of the earth. We are just busy, I can't get pictures off the camera yet, and I'm not feeling very inspired to blog. The past month or so has been a bit difficult (for us, for me - not compared to the circumstances of many, many people) and I think I need a blog break. I'm sure I'll be back and I do have things to blog about. In the mean time, I'll see you Thursday with a few of my favorite cookie and candy recipes!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

MPM: 12/15-12/21

It's that time of week again! This week we will be hosting our annual Christmas Open House on Friday. So the week will be busy with preparations! I'm planning by day this week:

MONDAY - Ham, Sweet Potatoes, Fruit
TUESDAY - Chicken Fingers w/Honey Sauce, Celery Sticks, Apple Slices
WEDNESDAY - Lentil Soup, Biscuits, Salad
THURSDAY - Take-out
FRIDAY - Open house (I'll be making a ton of food :) - antipasti platter, cheeseball, veggies & dip, fruit, bbq meatballs, and more plus many, many sweets)
SATURDAY - Christmas at my in-laws
SUNDAY - Open House Leftovers or Brunch

Kind of boring in the dinner department but it will work. :) Orgjunkie has many more menu plans! Have a great week!

Friday, December 12, 2008


My husband is coming home tonight and bringing pizza (yeah, I'm not making it today like I usually do :)). We are having a movie night and watching Polar Express with the kids! I can't wait - I miss that man when he has to work so much! It will be a short break for him before he goes back to working - from home or Starbucks - but it's a break. And it's family time. I love it and the boys are thrilled! The perfect way to spend a Friday night.

*The picture above was the very first picture of Titus with his Daddy on August 15 - the day Ty was born. A long day but what joy - I'll never forget his eyes tearing up as he held his son for the first time. A beautiful memory! I have the best husband and the kids have the best Dad! We are so blessed that he works hard for us and gives of himself unselfishly.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Keeping Creative Kitchens #9 - True Confession

Hi Everyone, It's been a really long couple of weeks and the end is not within sight, yet. I'm struggling with feeling completely uncreative in the kitchen (yes, I'm guilty of feeding my kids cereal and fruit for supper a couple of times lately :)). I'm in desperate need of some creative ideas. My fall back plan when overwhelmed is usually breakfast for supper - pancakes, eggs, cereal, french get the idea. Sometimes I add fun thing like ham and cheese to the eggs and sometimes it's plain over easy. The boys don't mind at all but I'm bored. It's just hard to be motivated to make a meal that requires a lot of clean up when it's just the boys and me. :) And I've caught whatever has been going around here so haven't been feeling very well - I'm thankfully feeling a little better today. So this week my menu plan is virtually out the window. I'm going to try and pull it together tomorrow. :)

So with that said, here's my small attempt at creativity in the kitchen this week... We are hosting our highschool Bible Study tonight and having a little Christmas party. I'm planning to have a hot chocolate bar. We will have 4 different flavored syrups, chocolate chips, candy canes, marshmallows, whipped cream, and a couple of kinds of sprinkles for everyone to build their own drink. I hope it will be fun. That's about as creative as I can be today. :) Maybe some of you will have some great ideas and inspiration!

Happy Thursday, everyone! Thanks for stopping by Keeping Creative Kitchens! I'm looking forward to all your great ideas, recipes, and resources. Feel free to grab the button for your post - you don't have to know me to play along and you don't have to participate to comment or ask questions! :)

Here are just a few guidelines for participating in Keeping Creative Kitchens:
1) Leave a link to your post with Mr. Linky (I am fully aware that there will probably not be many - or any :) - participants but I think this will make participation easier!).
2) Your entry can include a new recipe (either your own creation or a new-to-you-recipe), favorite recipe, success, tablescape/centerpiece, short-cut, ingredient, tradition, book, magazine, tool or gadget, food photos, recipe website or any thing else that keeps you inspired in your kitchen.
3) Please link back here in your participating post.

Hope you have fun, meet new people, learn a few things, feel encouraged, and find inspiration as you prepare meals, care for your family, and entertain!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Good News

Titus got a good report at the doctor this morning. It was actually his 4 month appointment plus re-check of his lungs. He weighed in officially at 14 lbs. 7 oz. and is 24 1/4 in. long. His lungs sound MUCH better - we are so thankful. The doctor was pleased with his progress! After making a turn for the worse on Thursday/Friday, I felt he started to improve on Saturday; it was good to have it confirmed.

We won't be taking him out this week until Sunday. He will be baptized on Sunday and then we will have brunch. I think we won't pass him around to be held by everyone. And I'm carrying hand sanitizer everywhere. :) So don't be offended if we don't let you hold him or ask you to wash your hands first. We have to protect him and we are just trying to minimize exposure opportunities - we have plenty just between the five of us. He will continue using the nebulizer for the next few weeks and hopefully just continue to improve!

So that's the report here. I'm feeling a bit housebound but that's okay. It's for a good cause. :) I'm slowly getting Christmas decorations up and enjoying letting the creative juices flow! I'll try to get some Thanksgiving & tree trimming pictures up soon - I've got to start online photo storage - we are pretty much out of memory and can't upload anymore. Any suggestions?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Two Words

This is a guest post written by my sweet husband - he sent it to me after I related our morning activities. :) Yep, not a healthy house, yet. :) Hopefully we're on the mend.

My Day
So Far

Clingy baby
Unhappy boy
Delicious breakfast
Fasting boy
Unhappy boy
Frustrated momma
Explosion (in) toilet
Horrible smell
Happy boy
Clogged toilet
Unhappy momma
Toilet overflows (almost)
Momma cries (almost)
Toilet flushes
Everyone’s relieved
(no pun)
Momma calls
Daddy’s inspired
Momma equals
Wonder woman

Sunday, December 07, 2008

This Week in Food :)

My menu plan is going to be very simple this week for a simple reason - my husband will only be home for dinner a couple of nights. And while I do cook for the kids (most of the time :)), I make it easy and we eat leftovers. You can guess which meals will be for when Andrew is home. :)

- Pizza, Apples, Carrots

- Mac 'n Cheese, Steamed Veggies, Applesauce

- Sweet n' Tangy Pot Roast, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Sauteed Zuchini, Spinach Salad (w/oranges, red onion, almonds & homemade vinaigrette)

- Eggs, Toast, Tangerines

- Pasta, Garlic Bread, Salad

- Egg Casserole (bacon, swiss, & spinach and sausage & cheddar), Hashbrown Casserole, muffins, coffee cake, fruit salad, juice, coffee, tea, & hot chocolate (this will be the brunch for a little more than 20 people on Sunday after Titus' baptism)

That's it. Easy, easy. The roast goes in the crockpot and the mac 'n cheese may or may not be from a box :). I am hoping to do some baking and candy making this week - butter pecan fudge, peanut clusters, and maybe some chocolate fudge and some kind of cookies - we'll see how the week goes. This week I made chex mix, muddy buddies, and sugar cookies.

Check out for more menu plans! Have a great week!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Thanks & Time with Calvin

Praise God - Ty seems to be a little better today. Still a little wheezing and some coughing but he just sounds a little better, not well, but better. I'm relieved - I think it's going to take awhile for him to be completely over this (and yes, it is likely RSV or a related virus - that's what I suspected and unfortunately the doctor confirmed on Thurs.). Thank you for continuing to pray!

Calvin and I had some time out together today and it was delightful. I cherish the individual times I get with my boys! He talked my ear off, recited his favorite book (Brown Bear, Brown Bear), helped pick some Christmas presents, ordered his own lunch (chocolate milk & pancakes with two whip creams :)), and just generally made me smile. He has such a big heart and is such a sweet, affectionate child. He is working so hard on his speech and it's wonderful to hear him using sentences and trying to speak clearly. He has a long way to go but every week, his therapist tells me that he is working very hard during their sessions.

Calvin is a child that has overcome so many obstacles - malnutrition, cleft lip & palate, developmental delays, and speech delays - some we are still working on but he is a tenacious kid with an unquenchable spirit. He is a fighter and a clown and his smiles, laugh, hugs, and kisses make my day. One of my favorite things is that he ALWAYS refers to our house as 'our home' or 'my home'. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy hearing him talk about it. I'm so thankful and so blessed that God gave Him to us for our oldest son. He is a unique individual (like each of our sons!) with wonderful character traits, lots of personality, and tremendous potential. What fun we had today! Next time it will be Patrick's turn - I can't wait!

Friday, December 05, 2008


Ty is just not getting better. I've been to the doctor twice this week already and we are headed back this afternoon for a steriod treatment. Please pray that he will improve. We are staying in (as we have most all of this week) and won't take him out at all this weekend except for medical things. It's tough watching him feel awful and hear him not breathing well. I feel so bad. I wish it were me instead of him.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Keeping Creative Kitchens #8

One of my very favorite ways to entertain is to serve brunch. It's delicious, easy, and beautiful! I have a standby egg casserole recipe that can be made ahead and tailored to any event - more on that below. Brunch is also great because you can easily buy donuts, bagels, croissants, or muffins to accompany it or you can make any kind of coffee cake or other bread items. I usually choose a couple of different breads and serve a fruit salad or platter as well as a vegetable dish. Depending on the season, I like asparagus & tomato salad or something like a hashbrown casserole or spinach casserole. Beverages are also simple - hot drinks (coffee, tea, and maybe hot chocolate) and cold drinks (1-2 juices and water).

A simple centerpiece of fresh cut flowers and/or candles dress up the table. And you can serve your brunch fare on china or any other pretty dishes - they don't have to match. I was given some beautiful glass plates with an area for the glass cup to sit. They are perfect for hosting brunch bridal showers. Pretty napkins or tea cups are other ways to add a little extra touch. The picture below is of a brunch shower my sisters and I threw for our sister-in-law this summer - 2 kinds of egg casserole, 2 coffeecakes, fruit salad, asparagus & tomato salad, and drinks. I made the juice into a punch by just adding some ginger ale.

Here are a few of my favorite brunch recipes:
Tomato & Asparagus Salad - great for summer brunches!
1 bunch asparagus, blanched and cut in 1/2 in. pieces
2 c. tomatoes, cut into bite size pieces (cherry, yellow, roma - whatever you have)

2 oz. olive oil
1 oz. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine asparagus & tomatoes in bowl. Mix dressing ingredients together and pour over vegetables. Gently toss and allow to marinate 1-2 hours before serving.
Serves 4-6

Egg Casserole - this is a very versatile casserole and I have yet to meet someone who doesn't like this. It's so easy that I often make two variations if we are having several people.
6 eggs
1 lb. sausage, bacon, OR ham
3 c. milk
8 oz. cheese
1 1/3 c. crushed crackers
1 tsp. mustard
pepper & salt*

Combine all ingredients. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes - 1 hour until golden brown.
*May not need salt if using a salty meat.
**May be made night before and refrigerated.
Variations: You can add spinach, mushrooms, onion, asparagus, peppers or whatever vegetables you like. One of my favorites is bacon, swiss, and spinach.

2 Cheese Spinach Casserole - this is easy and delicious
1 c. flour
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/2 sm. onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tb. parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 c. monterey jack or cheddar cheese
1 - 10 oz. pkg. frozen spinach chopped, squeezed and dried

Saute butter, onion, and garlic. Combine all ingredients and transfer to a greased 8x8 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 min. uncovered.

I have many favorite muffin, bread, and coffee cake recipes, too. You can find a few of them on my recipe blog.

So next time you are planning a weekend event, think brunch. Nearly everyone loves breakfast and it's a simple way to share creative, beautiful food with little stress. And don't be afraid to take some help from the store with bagels and flavored cream cheese or whatever fits with your menu! Happy Brunching!


Happy Thursday, everyone! Thanks for stopping by Keeping Creative Kitchens! I'm looking forward to all your great ideas, recipes, and resources. Feel free to grab the button for your post - you don't have to know me to play along and you don't have to participate to comment or ask questions! :)

Here are just a few guidelines for participating in Keeping Creative Kitchens:
1) Leave a link to your post with Mr. Linky (I am fully aware that there will probably not be many - or any :) - participants but I think this will make participation easier!).
2) Your entry can include a new recipe (either your own creation or a new-to-you-recipe), favorite recipe, success, tablescape/centerpiece, short-cut, ingredient, tradition, book, magazine, tool or gadget, food photos, recipe website or any thing else that keeps you inspired in your kitchen.
3) Please link back here in your participating post.

Hope you have fun, meet new people, learn a few things, feel encouraged, and find inspiration as you prepare meals, care for your family, and entertain!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Note for Tomorrow

Just a quick note to say that Keeping Creative Kitchens will be back tomorrow. I'm off for the day - home but unplugged. :) I want to enjoy my kiddos, make memories, and get some housework and baking done without distraction! Now off to feed the baby and big kids!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Celebrating the Season

I'm always looking for some fun ways to celebrate Christmas. And so I thought I would share a few things we do and maybe some of you will share some of your traditions.

- Tree trimming party - we have a family party and decorate the tree, sing carols, and eat yummy food. :)
- New ornament - every year, the boys get a new ornament to put on the tree and it's added to their collection.
- Daily Advent Devotions - we have a felt tree with felt ornaments that the boys take turns putting on after we read a significant scripture.
- Christmas books - I wrap up a book for each day of December leading up to Christmas. One of them chooses the package for the day and then we read the book together.
- New PJ's - the kids are allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve - it's new pajamas to wear to bed. I love picking them out!
- Baking & decorating cookies - the boys think this is great!
- Hosting our annual Christmas Open House - we all enjoy celebrating with friends and it's a great excuse to make a lot of food. :)

So those are a few fun things we try to do. We also enjoy choosing a few ministries/organizations to support as a family - we hope the boys will understand this more in a few years. And this year, the boys will choose some gifts to give others. Do you have any fun ideas or annual traditions?

Monday, December 01, 2008

One of These Days...

...we'll all be healthy. :) I headed back to the doctor with Ty - he started wheezing and sounding much worse Saturday night. I could hear it in his lungs with my stethoscope. This morning I called the doctor and got an appointment - we don't mess around with respiratory illness once we hear wheezing etc. Anyway, they think it's probably viral especially since he doesn't have a fever but we'll keep an eye on him.

In the mean time, he has a chance to be introduced to the nebulizer :) - every 4 hours while he is awake. It will help and I'm glad that I took him in. I'm also really glad that we already have a nebulizer from Calvin's respiratory issues a couple of years ago. I filled the Rx for the baby dose and we are settled at home. No more gatherings for awhile - he attended 5 different events and was held by countless people who love him. Which, while fun and enjoyable, was probably too much for such a little guy. Oh well, live and learn and we were happy to see everyone! :) We'll take it easy this week and recover.

Andrew won't be home much due to work so it will just be the boys and me. Time to get caught up on laundry and dishes and start preparing for our annual holiday open house. The open house will be Friday, Dec. 19, 6-9p. at our place. We would love to have you so feel free to stop in!