Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An Evening in the City

On Sunday we met up with our friends Daniel & Maggy Klaus for an evening in the City.  There are many sites that I have never seen, and we wanted to get together.  We met the Klaus’ on the platform at Atlantic Station, then headed into Manhattan.  While we were waiting for the train, the Museum Train pulled in on the other platform.  It runs periodically.  I thought it was really cool looking!

Retro Subway Car

Retro Subway Car

The next stop was Wall Street and Federal Hall.  I didn’t really want to wait in line for a picture with the bull…what’s the big deal?  Federal Hall is where George Washington was sworn into office as the first president.

Federal Hall  Federal Hall
Elaine and Havilah :: Ben and Me

Federal Hall
Close-up of the girls in front of George Washington’s Statue

Federal Hall
“On this site in Federal Hall April 30, 1789, George Washington took the oath as the first president of the United States of America.”

Federal Hall
The New York Stock Exchange

We stopped by St. Paul’s Chapel and the 9/11 Museum briefly.  The chapel was used as a relief center for rescue workers in 2011.  They had just closed, so we didn’t get to go inside.  I haven’t been able to visit the 9/11 Memorial yet, but we’re planning a visit there soon.  Though it is free, you have to have a ticket and they were out of day passes.

9-11 Museum
The Freedom Tower.  For a while it was lit up red, white, and blue at night.

City Hall Park

We also made a stop at City Hall Park.  It’s very lovely, especially with the fountain.  We just had to take a family photo!  Click here to see our last family picture at City Hall Park {taken on July 5, 2010}.  Elaine was all about the water.  First she wanted to throw a penny in, and then she wanted to fish it out again!  I also barely caught Nolan before he made a dive!

City Hall Park

City Hall Park
Havilah & Elaine looking at the money in the pool.

City Hall Park   City Hall Park
Both of my kiddos.  I couldn’t get Nolan to look – too mesmerized by the fountain!

City Hall Park

There are a bunch of gas lights at the park – it’s very quaint.  We were going to ride the Staten Island Ferry, but decided to forego it in favor of an earlier bed time {which was still late}.  And thanks to my friend Agnes, we all enjoyed free Mocha Frappes at McDonalds before heading home!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Beyond

Want to know how Five Minute Friday got started and how to participate? All the details are here.   So, set your timer, clear your head, for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.

The prompt is:

Beyond…

Go.

Will You Marry Me - Engagement DayI like to know what is coming.  I like to have a plan.  I like to be prepared.  But many times, even my best laid plans go awry.  Sometimes this is frustrating to me.  Okay.  Most of the time.  But then I get to see the amazing hand of God working in my life – for my best, and His glory – and He always does things beyond what I could ever imagine.

When I think of beyond I think of the verse that tells us God does exceeding abundantly, above all that we could ask or think.  Recently for me, it has looked like this…

Things are tight financially.  But then God steps in and provides for our physical needs beyond what we could have dreamed.  The church brings us bags upon bags of groceries.  A check in the mail.  Always an unexpected source.  Always just enough.  Always perfect timing.  Always beyond my best plans.

I get weary of well doing.  Not all the time, but sometimes.  But then I go to church and the Pastor brings a message that speaks God’s Words to my heart.  Uplifting.  Encouraging.  Convicting.  Always just what I need, when I need it, even when I didn’t know that’s what I needed.  God working beyond my understanding.

I have two little kids.  Some days are fun and adventurous.  Some days are overwhelming and exhausting.  And just when I think I can’t go on any more…can’t wipe one more sticky finger…can’t pick up one more toy…can’t discipline one more disobedience…God is there.  Beyond my meager strength I find His arms holding me up and helping me to go on.  His grace is sufficient for me, and even beyond what I need.

Stop.

Will You Marry Me - Engagement Day

I’m so privileged to be a child of the King – to serve the God of the beyond, whose mercies surpass all my sin, whose lovingkindness is never ending, and whose faithfulness never changes.  Truly “my cup runneth over.” 
How has He gone beyond your dreams or plans recently?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Elaine’s Mei Tei

I have a Kozy Carrier that I sometimes use to take both kids on the train by myself.  It is a Mei Tei style carrier. It allows me to carry one kiddo on my front or back, so that I can carry the other kiddo in the stroller up and down the steps.  Usually I put Nolan in it, but recently Elaine has been asking to be the one to go “on Mommy’s back.”  Last time she fell asleep there while riding the train home!

So Elaine started asking if I could make a “tie” for Betsy {her dolly}.  I responded with a “maybe” and quickly forgot about it. At bedtime Elaine suddenly remembered, and said to me, “You never make me a Betsy tei.”  And it was the first thing out of her mouth the next morning.

I guess it’s true…the squeaky wheel gets the grease…because I got out my sewing machine and set to making Betsy a “tei.”  At every stage Elaine wanted to know what I was doing and if it was done yet.  When I tried it on her to be sure the strap lengths were correct, all she could say was, “I bery happy.  {Giggle} I bery happy, Mom.  You okay, Betsy?”  It was a frustrating process to make it, but the end result – a bery happy girl – was so worth it.

Elaine's Mei Tei for Betsy

Elaine's Mei Tei for Betsy

Elaine's Mei Tei for Betsy  Elaine's Mei Tei for Betsy

Wordless Wednesday: Ben’s 27th Birthday

Ben's 27th Birthday

Ben's 27th Birthday

Ben's 27th Birthday

Ben's 27th Birthday

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ruffled Tote

My mom stumbled upon a new blog recently and sent me several links.  I thought these tote bags were so cute!  This blog seems to specialize in tutorials on up-cycling used/too small items into something new and uber cute!

IMG_3543-670x446

I had some fabric scraps and decided to give the ruffled tote a whirl!  Here’s what I came up with!

  img_5593  img_5584
The lighting in my pictures isn’t the greatest.  But it is a purple plaid home-dec fabric, so it is nice and “stiff” for my bag.  The ruffles are a teal colored knit that I had leftover from making my own Moby Wrap.

img_5585I wanted to use this for a church tote, and possibly as my purse for outings when I need to bring my planner along.  So I added a pocket to the inside.  I made a large pocket and then stitched down the center so that it became a double pocket – perfect for my phone, keys, and a pen!

 img_5587

img_5589

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I squared off the bottom of my bag at 2 inches, so that it is wide enough for my planner and Bible when I take it to church.

img_5594

The tutorial was easy and clear.  The ruffles took me longer than I had anticipated.  I wanted to finish this in one naptime.  It took me 2 naptimes to get it completed.  I did have a couple of issues…I sewed the bag together with my pocket upside down, so I had to fix that.  But I’m happy with the finished product!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Freezer Cooking

When I was growing up my mom often did “Once a Month Cooking”.  We would spend a whole day planning & shopping, then another day cooking meals to stick in the freezer.  Then supper was easy – my mom would pull out a meal in the morning so it could thaw, and then it just had to be heated up at dinner time.  There were always meals in the freezer, and I know it saved my parents money.

I have enjoyed doing some freezer cooking in the past, but I’ve been kinda “out of it” since Nolan was born.  I did some little meals here and there, but meal planning and couponing has been on the back burner.  Recently, my kids have been playing together and self-entertaining a little bit more, and I’ve had some more time for homemaking projects, like freezer cooking.  Coupled with my reason for last week’s Thankful Thursday post, we have an abundance of food & meals that can be ready quickly!

I’m thankful for a mom who taught me how to cook & prepare meals.  I’m thankful for her example of frugality, meal planning, and freezer cooking.  And I’m thankful for more time to dedicate to this area in my own family!

Here’s what we have in the freezer:

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  • Chicken Tetrazzini (x3) – I made a double batch and split it into 3 meals.  I improvised and used peas, corn, and carrots instead of the peppers.
  • Stuffed Shells – whenever I make this meal, I split it in half.  We eat one half for supper, and freeze the other half.
  • Meat sauce for spaghetti
  • Friendship bread for breakfast
  • Baked oatmeal (x2)
  • Pinto Beans (x4) – ready to add to rice, or make into refried beans.  I freeze them into 2 cup portions, the same size as a can of beans.
  • Pizza pockets – these aren’t exactly pizza.  I didn’t add sauce.  Last time I made them with deli ham.  This time I used up some diced chicken, and some deli turkey.  The dough is easy and sweet.  My mom always made calzones and froze them without baking them.  These pockets freeze & reheat well, even if you bake them prior to freezing. 
  • Strawberries and blueberries for quick smoothies
  • Bananas ready for banana bread.
  • I also boiled up a bunch of eggs for hard-boiled eggs for breakfast.  Elaine loves eggs, and they are growing on Nolan.

I find lots of freezer recipes & ideas at Money Saving Mom.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Story

Linking up to The Gypsy Mama and Five Minute Friday today!

Want to join our favorite free writing exercise of the week? It’s easy peasy:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat on the prompt with no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

The prompt is:

Story…Camping in Pittsfield for Nolan's 1st Birthday

Go.

Every day our lives are telling a story.  The story of self, or the story of Christ. 

Just when I think I have this “Christian life” thing down pat, I find myself going back to the basics.  Learning again to depend on Christ.  Learning again to soak up His Words and make them my guide for living.  Learning again His Will for me.

Some days I really depend on Him.  I can hear Him speaking His words through me.  I can see His patience with my children.  I can feel His strength when mine is all gone.  Those days I am telling the story of Christ.  The story of becoming like Christ.  The story of sanctification.

Other days my self rears its ugly head and my day is filled with strife, wrong thinking, and selfish mothering.  I get annoyed with my children and frustrated when my plans go awry.  Those days tell the story of self, as if I were unredeemed.

I am often amazed at the things my kids pick up.  Soak in.  Learn.  I see them do something and I wonder, “Who taught you to do that?”  They learn so much, so quickly, so easily.  And they learn much from watching me.  From living with me.

And so each day I want to tell them the story of Christ.  I want them to see Him in me.  To hear Him in the words I speak, and the tone I use.  To sense His patience and grace in discipline for wrong-doing. 

Because in the end, if my words tell them the Gospel, but my life doesn’t live it, I have been telling them the wrong story.  And they will sense the hypocrisy.

Stop.

I really enjoyed the book Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney.  In it she describes how our femininity and roles as a wife and mother can adorn the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Today I am overwhelmed by God’s provision for us…yet again.  Things have been a smidge tights since Ben hasn’t worked full hours the last few weeks.  And he had to license himself as an independent contractor, which costs quite a pretty penny here in the City. 

We didn’t tell anyone.  We weren’t starving.  But we were wondering how we would pay the rent and buy necessities too.  Until yesterday.  Pastor Bickel told us he had a few dry goods and a couple of grocery gift cards for us from the church.  I was excited at “few”.  I was overwhelmed at my trunk overflowing with bags of groceries.  And many of the items were exactly what we needed.

This is what I posted on my Facebook page:

To our dear friends at Bethel...you have once again blessed us beyond measure. Once again the Lord has used you to meet some of our physical needs. Your gifts of food staples came at just the right time. And how did you know exactly what we needed? You must have heard the Lord whisper it in your ear. We love you all and are so privileged to serve the Lord alongside you. Thanks - Ben & Andrea

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then these pictures are worth a lot of meals!

Blessings from Bethel
This is what I could fit in the picture.  And Ben is uber-excited about those 6 rolls of paper towel.  It’s not something we usually buy!  You can’t even get the idea from this picture because there is so much stacked up in the back.

Blessings from Bethel
Empty bags after all the food was put away

Blessings from Bethel
My cupboard is not big enough to hold all that we were given. I have pasta sauce & chicken broth shoved in every nook & cranny I could find!

Blessings from Bethel
The overflow on my top shelf

Blessings from Bethel
The pantry - or what I could fit inside.  My kids will be spoiled with all of the mini-cereal boxes and snack packs!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

June photo a day, the end

June 27: Bathroom

June 27 Bathroom
It’s not much to speak of.  It is tiny.  Every space is filled & used – right down to the shelves in the dumb waiter.  Yes – we have a dumb waiter in our shower.  But it serves the purpose!

June 28: On the Shelf

June 28 On the Shelf
Lots of home canned deliciousness!  Kiwi jam, salsa {mild, medium, and hot}, strawberry jam, and applesauce.

June 29: Soft

Nolan's Baby Blanket
Flannel rag quilt I made for Nolan.  It is Beatrix Potter to match the “nursery”.

June 30: Friend

June 30 A Friend
Meet Mr. Bunny.  Elaine’s “best bud” – literally since day 1.  {Yes, “he” is pink.  I don’t know why he became a “Mr.” Bunny, but it stuck}.  He was a gift from a friend who visited us in the hospital.  She still sleeps with him every night.  He was lost once.  There were several hard nights while we awaited his replacement to arrive in the mail.  He doesn’t leave the house much anymore – to ensure he doesn’t get lost again.