Saturday, November 30, 2013

Giving Thanks for Good Gifts

This week I am going along with our Thanksgiving book, The Thanks Giving Tree: Seeing Blessings Everywhere, and taking a moment to share things that I personally am thankful for.

  1. I'm thankful for my parents working so hard to teach us their values growing up.
  2. I am thankful for my mom taking the time to show me how to sew, even though she no longer enjoyed it, both mending and sewing new things have saved us lots of money throughout the years.
  3. I am thankful for my father teaching me how to fix things, use tools, and build things. These basic skills have been used more, and in more ways, than I could have ever imagined.
  4. I am thankful for my Grandpa showing me how to waste not want not, use it up and wear it out, and how to save wrapping paper for later use. I might not have appreciated this attitude quite as much as a kid, but seeing potential instead of waste has helped us imensely.
  5. I'm thankful for my Grandma showing me how to bake bread, crochet, and hang up clothes on the clothesline. I think of her whenever I do these tasks.
  6. I'm Thankful for my Grandma showing me to proper way to make chocolate covered butter-cream candy, play word games, and laugh my way through life. Sometimes chocolate, fun, and laughter are all you need.
  7. I'm thankful that I can help teach these skills to my own children, passing down knowledge to the next generation.
  8. I'm thankful for my husband demonstrating unwavering trust time and time again, and helping me to grow my own ability to be sure of what we hope for and certain of those things we do not see. And for his patience whenever he teaches me anything technology related.
  9. I am thankful for my children teaching me to stop, enjoy the moment, enjoy the journey, and look at the big wide world with wonder again.
  10. I'm thankful to live in an age where I can look up how to do something on the internet.
And I'm thankful for an understanding family think my humble attempts at anything is great and who eat whatever I cook (even if that time I made pizza in a wok or made Piglet out of an old sweater wasn't actually the greatest in the world).

Friday, November 29, 2013

DIY Family Times Newspaper Keepsake Gift

The day after Thanksgiving is the perfect times to start making a Family Times newspaper (that is if you haven't already) to give as as Christmas gift. The stories and perhaps antics that happened on Thanksgiving are fresh in your mind and perhaps you talked about many other events of the year yesterday as well.

My husband and I have been making Family Times newspapers for several years now. It started as a present he and his sibling gave to their parents one year, but a few years later after we married we picked the idea up again and made it as a couple. My brother now helps us write a version for my side of the family as well.

Basically we try to give little snippets of what is happening in the lives of everyone in the family that year. And we try to interject some humor as well.

Now we try to record good ideas for "news stories" throughout the year so we don't forget, but I also try to consult with siblings close to the end of the year to see if they have anything new going on with them or something we missed along the way.

We use a simple free office program (Open Office) to format it and convert it to a PDF for easy digital sharing. And so it won't explode after we get it just how we want it, as it has been known to do on occasion.

This is a gift that is basically free to make, except it does require a good deal of time. But it is so much fun to look back on all of the years editions that we have, that it makes it totally worth it. And I think our families like it at least a little bit too.

Giving Thanks When Life Seems Unfair

This week I am going along with our Thanksgiving book, The Thanks Giving Tree: Seeing Blessings Everywhere, and taking a moment to share things that I personally am thankful for.

It can be easy for me to feel like my life is extra hard sometimes, to feel like life isn't fair. Nobody ever guaranteed that life would be "fair." But in reality many things in my life are actually way more than fair, in my favor.

  1. I get to see my husband a lot, way more than many wives.
  2. I get to spend lots of time with my kids, way more than many people.
  3. We have wonderful extended family, whom we are much closer to than many other people, despite our geographical distance.
  4. We have electricity and running water that rarely go out, a much higher standard of living than many of the world's people.
  5. We have lots of nutritious food, and actually can buy lots more fruit and vegetables for much less money here.
  6. We have more technology than almost anyone in history.
  7. We have more methods of communication than almost anyone in history.
  8. We have more ways to preserve memories than almost anyone in history.
  9. We have a whole new home Above to look forward too.
  10. We have more Hope and Peace.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Giving Thanks for Enough.

This week I am going along with our Thanksgiving book, The Thanks Giving Tree: Seeing Blessings Everywhere, and taking a moment to share things that I personally am thankful for.

I actually have more than enough of all of these things, even if sometimes it feels like I don't, or that I barely have enough.

  1. Love, always enough love, sometimes I forget to show it enough.
  2. Food, we may not always eat as much cheese as we'd like, but truly we've never even come close to going hungry.
  3. Time, sometimes it feels like the day goes so fast that I didn't get anything done, but I have been given enough time for everything that I am supposed to do. Sometimes all that is, is very basic food, laundry, diapers, potty runs, and hugs, but it is still enough.
  4. Room, our apartment isn't large, but it is plenty.
  5. Warm clothes, we might not be the trendiest, and sometimes it seems like the baby explodes his diapers and the little boys dirty all of their clothes before we finished the last load of laundry, but we all have nice warm clothes.
  6. Transportation, by foot or by bike, by bus or by train, sometimes it looks different getting around here, but it works.
  7. Kitchen, perhaps our kitchen should be named the little kitchen that could, but I don't know if anyone has ever gotten more value out of a used toaster oven and two hot plates than we have.
  8. Warmth, sometimes we miss central heat, but will live in a very mild climate overall,  we have a space heater to heat up a room, lots of warm clothes and blanket,and lots of little boys to cuddle with.
  9. Technology, we don't have the best of anything technology wise, except for systems administrator, he (my husband) gets our low end gadgets to preform well above their normal capabilities.
  10. Health, we are so thankful to be so healthy most of the time, especially when many people get sick here frequently.
  11. Cleanliness, sometimes I wish the house would stay cleaner longer, but three little boys and all of us home much  of the time, the house is clean is enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks Even in Loss

This week I am going along with our Thanksgiving book, The Thanks Giving Tree: Seeing Blessings Everywhere, and taking a moment to share things that I personally am thankful for.

I feel as though I haven't actually lost that many things in my life. I am truly thankful for that, but also could never pretend to understand someone who was in a season of deepest loss. If that is you though, my heart goes out to you and I am thinking about you this holiday.
  1. That I haven't lost very many things.
  2. My unseen home above.
  3. Those who I will see again there.
  4. That we will never have to say goodbye there again.
  5. Loving family.
  6. Wonderful friends.
  7. Current good health.
  8. Our current home, warts and all.
  9. Provision.
  10. That I know Who is in control of everything.

DIY Pumpkin Pie Latte

It's the day before Thanksgiving and you might need a cup of coffee to get you going. Or perhaps you want a really good dessert coffee to serve tomorrow.

Either way pumpkin pie in coffee form fits the bill.

I'll show you three ways to achieve this deliciousness.

The first is to make this pumpkin ice cream and put a big scoop in a cup of good, strong, hot coffee. Once the ice cream is made it is super easy. And it keeps quite a while in the freezer.

Or you can make Pumpkin Pie Coffee Creamer, which is basically like the ice cream without eggs or cooking fuss, just stir or shake before each use. Keep it in the fridge for a few days so whenever you need a cup it's ready.

Or you can just mix up the ingredients you need cup by cup so there is no chance of waste.

Anyway you make it it is delicious, and always better topped with whipped cream.

Pumpkin Pie Coffee Creamer

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ginger (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp cloves (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (homemade works great, but if using canned make sure to use 100% pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling with the sweetener and spices already added)
Mix all ingredients in a quart jar and store in the fridge. Shake or stir before each use.

Add desired amount to a cup of hot strong coffee. Top with whipped cream if desired.

Pumpkin Pie Latte (by the mugful)

  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp white sugar
  •  1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • dash or pumpkin spice or cinnamon to taste
Add all ingredients to a cup of hot strong coffee. Top with whipped cream if desired.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Giving Thanks for Family

This week I am going along with our Thanksgiving book, The Thanks Giving Tree: Seeing Blessings Everywhere, and taking a moment to share things that I personally am thankful for.

  1. I thankful to be adopted into a heavenly family.
  2. My grandparents for caring for my parents, and for loving me in the completely special and unconditional way grandparents do, and for teaching me many things.
  3. My wonderful, loving, and devoted parents, who have cared for and taught me so much throughout my life.
  4. My brother who was the best of friends and irritants (and vice-versa hold true as well I am sure) growing up and who can still always make me laugh.
  5. My amazing husband who;
    • Has a servants heart
    • Is a strong, Valiant man of vision
    • Is especially handsome
    • Loves me, my imperfectness and all
    • Always thanks me for cooking, and says the food is the best in the world, even when I wish I could serve him something better
    • Always knows when I need a break or chocolate or both
  6. My husband's family for whole-hardheartedly welcoming and adopting me into their great and fun family.
  7. My firstborn son Aaron, for making me a mom, for challenging me to grow and learn all of the time.
  8. My second son Andrew, for saying the funniest things and making me smile, and having really deep thoughts arise at the most unexpected moments.
  9. My third son Alexander, right now the baby, with all of the baby smiles and cuteness, and trying so hard to catch up to his big brothers.
  10. Our special friends far and near who treat us like family.
Also, I don't feel thankful being far from our extended families, but it has made me appreciate them more, make sure to take the time to connect despite the distance, and for other friends and people we have met, because of living far away from our biological families.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mandarin Mondays: Typography Notebook (Chinglish Files)

How to adjust your handwriting in a paper notebook?

Giving Thanks in All things

This week I am going along with our Thanksgiving book, The Thanks Giving Tree: Seeing Blessings Everywhere, and taking a moment to share things that I personally am thankful for.

  1. Being far from many of our friends and family, makes us appreciate them more and make a greater effort to continually build our relationships.
  2. Being away from the land where we were born, makes us see benefits to living there that may be taken for granted as well as benefits to living here and learning about a new culture.
  3. Some of our favorite foods being harder to come by, leads us to appreciate them more when we do have them, and find new food we like.
  4. Having to work to communicate clearly in a difficult new language, makes us think more about what we are trying to communicate all of the time, and hopefully warding off Alzheimer's as well.
  5. Having only squatty potties, makes us grateful, we don't have to go outside, that our two older boys can flush for themselves, and is giving everyone strong thighs.
  6. No central heat, really low heating bill.
  7. Not being able to buy something we're used to being able to purchase easily, leads us make and fix more things ourselves.
  8. Things that break a lot, lots of opportunity to practice handyman skills.
  9. Seeing those with less, makes us appreciate what we have all the more.
  10. Having an unconventional life, has given us many unconventional blessings.
By the way I don't always have such a good attitude about all these and other things. I am quite human, definitely get grumpy far more than I'd like to admit, and still very much a work in progress.


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