Saturday, January 14, 2012

DIY Cookie Puzzles

I thought that cookie puzzles sounded like a really cute stocking stuffer, but they could also make a sweet Valentine, Easter present, party favor, or small gift for any other occasion. When we were making sugar cookies together, I cut out a few huge heart shapes. Then I simply cut these large cookies into a few pieces using a butter knife. I separated the pieces slightly and then baked the cookies as usual. Putting colored sugar on top before you bake them or frosting them after they have been baked and cooled would be cute as well. Varying the shapes and colors used could make these appropriate for any occasion. I simply wrapped these in plastic wrap, but you could package them up in cut cellophane bags, small boxes, or small cookie tins too.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Family Fridays: Finished Already?

Nate finished his second semester of Mandarin classes today. It is kind of hard to believe. The last time we lived on this side of the world time seemed to crawl by—this time it's flying. Maybe its Andrew's fault. Time has been flying every since he was born. I think I'm still in shock that he is two years old already.

We're so thankful for all own friends here and how we've been able to settle into life here easier this time. We're looking forward to a little break before Nate starts classes again. There is Chinese New Year (a.k.a Spring Festival here) starting soon. Then we'll be doing a little extra English teaching. After that one of Nate's friends that he's known since elementary school is coming to visit.

I'm thinking time won't seem to slow down anytime soon. I guess that's okay.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

DIY Oreo Truffles Pops

Kids seem to think everything is better when it comes on a stick, and sometimes this keeps both them and their food slightly cleaner. So for some pretty easy stocking stuffers, I took a few of the Oreo Truffles that I had made and made them into Oreo Truffle Pops. I simply made up a batch of Oreo Truffles and then poked a stick into the bottom. Actually, I used some of the tiny straws that sometimes come with our bags of milk here because I am cheap and have no idea where to buy lollipop sticks here. But if you happen to have a Michaels or Hobby Lobby nearby, you should be able to buy actual lollipop sticks if you want to.

You could also try inserting the stick before freezing the chocolate filling and then dipping them in chocolate. Then you can poke the stick into a piece of styrofoam to hold it upright while it drys, similar to cake pops. This would make them more round but a little more tricky to work with. My little kids don't care if their chocolate lollipop has a flat bottom or not, so I just went the easy route of inserting the stick after they had already been coated in chocolate and hardened.

Wrap in cellophane or plastic wrap, and tie with a pretty twist tie or ribbon, and you will have a beautiful stocking stuffer, Valentines treat, party favor, or small sweet gift for any other occasion.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

DIY Oreo Truffles

Oreo truffles are being seen all over blogland, so you may have already seen these before. But the reason they are such a hit is because they both incredibly easy and incredibly delicious. If you haven't tried to make these yet, you really should. They are amazing. I made these and some other chocolate candies for Christmas gifts, but they would also be perfect for Valentine's Day or any other day. Every day is sweeter with chocolate.

Homemade Oreo Truffle Recipe

  • 1 package Oreos
  • 8 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 bag of chocolate chips (to melt for dipping)
  1. Blend the Oreos in blender, or crush into very fine crumbs in a plastic bag with a rolling pin.
  2. In a mixing bowl, blend together softened cream cheese and the Oreo crumbs.
  3. Roll into quarter sized balls.
  4. Place in freezer to chill for at least 15 minutes or more; this helps them stay together better when dipping in melted chocolate.
  5. Melt chocolate in medium saucepan or a double boiler over low heat stirring occasionally until completely melted and smooth.
  6. Dip each Oreo ball in melted chocolate and place on waxed paper, tin foil, or silicone mat to harden.
  7. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
This recipe makes about 3 dozen truffles. If you want to save any for the future or to give away, you should probably hide them in the back of the freezer, or you will eat them all right away. Or maybe that is just what I had to do.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    DIY Pumpkin Butter

    Since pumpkins are still in season here (read that: really cheap and easy to get), I thought I try pumpkin butter as my first DIY project for 2012. I looked at a few different pumpkin butter recipes but ended up coming up with my own very simple recipe. I really like how it turned out though; it tastes like spreadable pumpkin pie to me. Pumpkin butter is great on muffins and toast, and I would imagine it would be fabulous on homemade bagels.

    Homemade Pumpkin Butter Recipe

    • 8 cups pumpkin puree
    • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar (or up to 3 cups depending on your personal taste, but we thought 1 1/2 cups was plenty sweet)
    • 2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp nutmeg
    • dash (about 1/8 of a teaspoon) of cloves (optional)
    • dash (about 1/8 of a teaspoon) of ginger (optional)
    1. Place all ingredients in a crock pot or large stock pot.
    2. Stir to combine.
    3. Bring to a very low boil and simmer for 30 minutes to up to 2 hours.
    4. When you can stand a wooden spoon up in the center of the pot and all of the flavors have combined nicely, remove from heat, and let cool.
    5. Store in jars (or other airtight containers) in the refrigerator, or freeze for later use.
    This recipe yielded about 7 cups of pumpkin butter for me.

      Monday, January 9, 2012

      Mandarin Mondays:像

      Because of my new goals for studying Mandarin, I've been listening to a lot more ChinesePod lessons. This past week I listened to one about the word xiàng (像) which means to resemble. While we don't hear this phrase quite as much as people asking if the boys are twins (shuāng bāo tāi, 双胞胎), we are often also told, "Your baby really looks like you." In Chinese you would say, "Nǐ de bǎobǎo hěn xiàng nǐ (你的宝宝很像你)."

      I think that Andrew's eyes (yǎn jīng, 眼睛) look like mine, but his nose (bí zǐ, 鼻子) and mouth (zuǐba, 嘴巴) more closely resemble his father (tā bàba, 爸爸).

      Do you agree?
      Nǐ tóngyì ma?

      Saturday, January 7, 2012

      Personal Goals 2012

      All this week I've been talking about things I want to be intentional about trying to do in 2012. I've shared about my Mandarin goals, DIY projects I want to try, some of my goals in my family relationships, and the last area I am going to share about today is my personal growth goals.

      In 2012 I'd like to:
      • Try some more natural face and hair cleansing products
      • Do some stomach exercises several times a week (I'm in decent shape and our lifestyle gives me quite a bit of exercise naturally, except for my stomach muscles which I really do need to work on)
      • Continue to exercise my brain by:
        • learning more Mandarin
        • reading at least l book a month
        • doing 1-2 RN CEU hours each month
        • blogging several times a week
        • My editor/husband wants me to go through a grammar course we have, so I am going to try to complete it by the end of this year. Refreshing my knowledge in grammar should help my writing, but it will also help me in teaching our boys in years to come.
      My hope in sharing these goals is mainly that I'll be more motivated to work on them throughout the year. Blogging is good for me because I tend to do a better job of recording our lives when I want to share it with others. I tend to be to lazy to journal consistently for just myself, but if He wills, I'll try to give an update here at the end of the year how these goals went.

      Friday, January 6, 2012

      Family Fridays: Family Goals 2012

      I've been talking all this week about setting goals for 2012. Here are a few things I want to be intentionally trying to do throughout my days this next year.

      In thinking about my role as His child this year:
      • I want to continue to make my own daily reading a priority
      • I want to continue to make reading to my children and as a family a priority
      • I want to increase my memorization and relearn some of the verses I have forgotten
      • I want to be more intentional about daily talking to my Father about my husband and children
      • I and my husband want to carve out more time to study the Word deeper without the kids
      In thinking about my role as a wife, mother, and homemaker (in addition to the above goals) this year:
      • I want to be more intentional about fulfilling all these roles with a joyful heart
      • I want to continue to make reading books to the boys everyday a priority
      • I and my husband want to consistently have the boys help with the small chores they are now able to assist with
      • I want to be more intentional about making sure that I take some time to just play with the boys, at least a little daily, and for longer periods with my undivided attention at least weekly

      Tuesday, January 3, 2012

      12 Food DIY Projects to Attempt for 2012

      Recently, I've talked about some of the projects that I attempted in 2011 and how I am using this first week of the new year to set some goals for 2012. One area I am obviously passionate about and want to keep challenging myself in is DIY projects, hence this blog. I also think that this is a good way to encourage creativity, try to be a life long learner, and possibly cultivate new skills. So I came up with 12 DIY projects that I really want to try in 2012. This list is all food items, but I chose a variety of different types of food. Here they are in no particular order:

      • Homemade Pop-tarts
      • Strawberry Freezer Jam
      • Pita Bread
      • Mozzarella Cheese
      • Apple Butter
      • Potato Chips
      • Pumpkin Butter
      • Cottage Cheese
      • Thousand Island Dressing
      • Teriyaki Sauce
      • Homemade Doughnuts
      • Chicken Broth From Scratch
      These are all things that I've never done before and a few I've wanted to try for quite a while. I'll be blogging about my attempts at these projects throughout the year.

      Monday, January 2, 2012

      Mandarin Mondays: 学习

      So this first week of the new year. I'm thinking a lot about what I want to do in the coming year, and what He would have me do. One of the areas I've been thinking about is my study (xué xí, 学习) of Chinese. I am perfectly okay with the fact that my husband is progressing faster along with learning Mandarin because he goes to school two hours a day, five days a week to study it. I am still continually seeing progress at understanding and speaking, so I am okay with learning a little slower because I cannot devote as much undivided attention to it at this time. However, I want to be a little more intentional and push myself a little more in this important area. I have a lot of good resources I've started to use, but I this year I want to complete some of these.

      We also want to be a little more consistent in exposing the boys to Mandarin. We're not expecting them to be fluent by a certain age or anything, but we want to make sure that they are at least getting a lot of practice in listening to this difficult tonal language, at this age where language learning is still quite natural for them.

      Since I do blog about our Mandarin learning, I'm going to share my personal goals in this area, if only for personal accountability. Perhaps someone else may want to look into these Mandarin resources as well. I've tried to be fairly specific and break my goals into bite-sized pieces since that is the only way to eat an elephant (or fish head as is more likely here) or any other difficult task. If life completely changes and these goals become completely unrealistic, I'll be okay with that too, but for right now, this seems like a very doable amount of study and a way to challenge myself in a good way.

      Week Day Goals
      Weekly Goals
      Goals for 2012
      For working with the boys I just have a couple of goals.

      Week Day Goals
      • Go through about 20 Chinese picture flashcards
      • Listen to at least 1 short ChinesePod newbie lesson
      Goal for 2012
      • Have the boys listen to all appropriate ChinesePod lessons at the newbie level
      Again, our goal is not to try to force our boys into fluency but just try to make sure they are consistently exposed so they don't develop language blocks that would make it hard for them to learn later. We may try to find other ways to increase their exposure in natural settings here as well.

      So, those are my goals for Mandarin learning in 2012. Hopefully, I will see a lot of progress this year and maybe prevent Alzheimer's later in life too.


      Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...