Friday, October 30, 2009

A Quick and Easy Halloween Treat

I saw these cookies in a magazine ad and thought they cute and easy to make. They definately were!

These are from the website.

Chocolate Mummy Cookies (or skeleton hand cookies)

1 pouch Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix

2 Tbs unsweetened baking cocoa

1/3 butter or margarine, softened

1 egg

1 container Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy Vanilla Frosting

mini M & M's or jelly bean halves

Heat oven to 375. In medium bowl, stir together cookie mix and cocoa. Add butter and egg: stir until soft dough forms.

On floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with 5" gingerbread man cutter. On ungreased cookie sheet, place 1 inch apart. Gather dough scraps: reroll until all dough is used.

Bak 7-9 minutes or until cookies are just puffed and tops are dry. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely.

Spoon frosting into resealable plastic bag. cut 1/4 inch hole in 1 bottom corner. Gently squeeze bag to pipe frosting on cookies for bandages. Attach eyes. Store cookies in airtight container.

NOTE: As you can see, since I had a hand cookie cutter, I also made skelton hands. This recipe made 16 hands and 11 mummies! They will be fun to serve to friends and family tomorrow night after trick or treating!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Baxter's Blog

I have caught our cat Baxter sitting here a few times, and was actually able to catch a photo of it. Is he looking to start his own blog or maybe Facebook profile? Hmmmmm.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Winners of the Journal!

I decided to give away both of the journals that Energizer sent me. selected 2 winners and they are

RANDOM.ORG - Integer Generator:
"Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-10-27 13:47:20 UTC"

Melissa Ward

I will contact them by email and send them out right away!
Thanks for signing up. I will have another AWESOME Energizer giveaway very soon. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mondays Matter: Week 43

Taken from the book Every Monday Matters: 52 Ways To Make A Difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza
-Over 70% of schools are not able to maintain funding for the arts.
-Students with coursework in music appreciation score roughly 60 points higher in verbal and 40 points higher in math on the SAT than their non-arts peers.
-Early musical training increases brain development in language, reasoning, math, science, memory, creativity, expression, and spatial intelligence.
-Every human culture uses music to preserve and pass on its ideas and ideals.
-Music is not limited by age, gender, ethnicity, or time.
1. Listen to your favorite music and sing, dance, clap, jam on your air guitar, and enjoy it like no one is watching.
2. Go see or buy tickets for a live music performance.
3. Sign up for music lessons for yourself or your family.
4. If you already sing or play an instrument, do it today or offer to teach someone who wants to learn.
5. Donate unused instruments to a local school, church or music education center.
6. Communicate with your school-district administrators or national legislators. Write a letter of appreciate for the hard work they do and request continued funding for the arts.
As a child, my parents had me take piano lessons and I am so glad they did. I feel fortunate to have that talent and now our 2 boys are taking lessons and have picked it up quite quickly. I love to be in the kitchen making supper and hearing them practicing their piano. Our 4 yr old daughter is anxious to learn how to play as well. We are fortunate to live in a school district that has a flourishing arts program. Our school offers swing choirs, band, various choirs, jazz band, marching band, concert band, fall musical, spring play, etc. I am glad our children will have numerous options to showcase their talents and appreciation for music. Music is fun, expressive, imaginative, beautiful, energizing, relaxing, interesting, and freeing. Through music, we preserve our cultural heritage, celebrate our faith with praise and worship, remember events and experiences from the past, come together with friends and family, and express our emotions. Music is the sountrack of life.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mondays Matter: Week 42

I can't believe this is week 42 already! That means only 10 more weeks of 2009 left! YIKES! Christmas is only 9 weeks away. Enjoy the last 10 weeks and make sure you are making a difference!

Taken from the book Every Monday Matters: 52 Ways To Make A Difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza


-Stimulation by touch is absolutely necessary for physical and emotional well-being.
-Touch is used to relieve pain, depression, and anxiety; to enhance a child's development and IQ; and to nurture premature babies.
-Hugging strengthens the immune system, reduces stress, assists sleep, lowers blood pressure, and is an antidote to depression.
People need 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 for maintenance, and 12 for growth.

1. Hug the people you care about today. Hug them in the morning, hug them to say hello, hug them because they bring you happiness, hug them to say good-bye, hug them to say, "I Love You", hug them to show compassion, hug them if they are sad, hug them if they are hurting, hug them because they did something incredible, or hug them just because.
2. Hug a total stranger or someone you don't know very well...but ask first.
3. Challenge yourself and your friends to keep track of how many hugs you gave or received today.
4. Notice how you feel at the end of your day of hugging.

If everyone hugged 4 people today - the minimum amount for survival - that would add up to 1.2 billion hugs. If everyone gave 12, the total would be 3.6 billion hugs. So, take the time to give 12 hugs today. That hug might be exactly what those 12 people needed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

One of those weeks!

Do you ever have one of those days or weeks or months where you just can't keep it all straight. I feel like I am having one this week. I had a volunteer responsibility this week that I wanted to be sure I didn't forget about. I had some other things on my mind as well as dealing with this nasty cold weather we are having. Having to drag all the winter stuff out and get it farmed out to each of the kids, getting blankets and such in the van for soccer and football games, making sure everyone was warm enough, etc. So, on Monday, I realized it wasn't the 11th, but the 12th. Tonight I realized it was already the 13th. I realized that Thursday is the 15th already which means Friday is the 16th and Saturday is the 17th. Now this may not be a big deal to you, but for me it is. I like to recognize birthdays and make that person feel like I care about them enough to remember. Well, I didn't accomplish that so far this week. Sunday was my brother-in-law Ken's birthday and the whole day went by without notice. Then Monday when I thought it was the 11th, I realized I still couldn't mail a card because there was no mail and then I realized it was really the 12th, so I was already a day late and would have to wait another day to mail a card and then another day for him to receive it. So, we just called him on the speaker phone that night (one day late) and sung him Happy Birthday. Then tonight I realized it was the 13th which means it is our nephew, Adam's birthday. So, I sent him a text (he's a teenager) and promised that next time I saw him I would have something for him. So, because today is the 13th, I realized that Thursday is our nephew, Eric's birthday. Since he is a godfather to our son Bennett, we send a gift to him from Bennett. Well, he lives several hours away, which means two day travel time for the mail service, still need to get the gift, so guess what, that is going to be late as well. Our niece Megan has a birthday on Friday and I sent an email off to her mom tonight asking for gift ideas for her. Then Saturday is our nephew, Alex's birthday, so I am going to do my darndest to remember his birthday ON TIME! Whew! Anyway, I guess I have been a little off this week. A fellow blogger friend had this on her blog today and I felt it was totally appropriate for me today as well. I hope your week is moving along smoothly!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mondays Matter: Week 41

Taken from the book Every Monday Matters: 52 Ways To Make A Difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza
-Almost 7 billion paper bags and 440 billion plastic bags are used every year.
-Only 5.2 % of plastic bags and 21% of paper bags are recycled.
-The average length of time a high-density plastic bag will exist on earth is 1,000 years!
-The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags every 4 trips to the grocery store.
-San Francisco, the first city in the USA to ban the use of plastic grocery bags, eliminates the use of 100 million plastic bags/year.
1. Buy several canvas shopping bags or use duffle bags that you already own. Most trips to the store require more than one bag.
2. Purchase canvas bags made from recycled materials.
3. Keep your canvas bags in the trunk of your car - trips to the store are often spontaneous.
4. When purchasing only one or two items and you don't have a canvas bag, just carry the items out of the store without a bag.
5. If you forget your canvas bag, at least avoid double-bagging.
I LOVE using my canvas shopping bags. I think I have 8 of them that I keep in my van at all times. I also use them for things other than shopping. They are great for carrying items to a potluck, for taking items you need to a meeting, or for packing items for a trip. The bags are very sturdy and hold more items than a regular plastic bag, which means less trips back and forth from the car to the house when unloading groceries. The canvas bags are more sturdy when holding the groceries and are less likely to tip over in the car while driving. Also, the grocery store I purchased some of the bags from, replaces them for free if they start to rip. So, the next time you are in the checkout line and the clerk asks, "Paper or Plastic", proudly answer, "Canvas"!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Last 2 days of the 10-Day Give...

Day 9: As I mentioned on my first day of the 10-Day give, I give the storytime at our library. Today there was a conference to teach librarians about how to add music to storytimes. So, the local library paid for me to attend the program. The drive to the conference was 45 minutes each way, and I spent most of the drive there and home, praying for people that have been on my mind. I basically went through the people in my life and said prayers for them based on their personal struggles or whatever hit me at that moment to pray for. It was a peaceful trip each way and I enjoyed that time with Jesus. Then that night I was the receiver of giving. My brother-in-law took my husband and I and some of his adult children out to dinner at a very nice restaurant. We had such an enjoyable evening and even though I was the receiver, I made sure that he knew how much I appreciated the evening and the delicious food and drinks and even cheesecake for dessert!
Day 10: Today turned out to be a very cold day here in Iowa. In fact, we woke up to snow falling outside....on October 10th! Ugh! As much as I wanted to stay in my cozy house and snuggle on the couch, we all bundled up and went to watch our son Bennett play soccer. I know how said he would have been if I had told him that I was going to stay home. Thank goodness the game was only an hour and then we could head back to our warm house. This afternoon I had our friends kids come over to play while the parents and my husband worked on insulating their addition to their home. I knew how much our kids would enjoy and afternoon playdate and how much they would appreciate having the kids out of the way of their work. I also had made homemade potato soup for supper and our family enjoyed eating it while we watched the Hawkeye's beat Michigan that night!
So, over the course of these 10 days, there was no ground breaking gift that was given. I just tried to give a piece of myself to those who are part of my life each and every day. I wanted to end the 10-days with those whom I care about knowing how special they are to me. I hope I accomplished that.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

4 More Days of Giving........

Day 5: I really, really wanted to stay home while my daughter was in school, but I knew that I needed to go visit my hospice patient. So, I went and spent some time with her and am very glad I did. I noticed that she had declined a bit since last week and I know that my time with her is limited. I again read some of her favorite hymns to her. She and I both became teary at times and it was such a blessing to me to be able to remind her of those beautiful hymns that she loves.

Day 6: I spent the entire day doing laundry and putting it away. Rather than leaving the clothes out for the kids to have to put away after they got home, I put it all away for them. I also sent a card to someone that I care about and wanted her to know she was on my mind.

Day 7: I treated my husband to lunch with just the 2 of us, which we don't get to do very often. Then after lunch, I went to Target and got a little treat for each person in my family. I decorated our home for the fall/halloween season. The kids had been asking me to do it and I finally decided to make it a priority this afternoon. Our home is now all decked out in fall colors! Tonight I was really tired and wanted to stay home, but instead I went to our school for a meeting. I followed through with my committment which is something I really didn't want to do tonight. I am glad I did because the meeting was very informative and I realized the challenges ahead for our committee.

Day 8: Today, was my first day of working as an associate sub at school. I was working in the special ed room which I had never done before. I really focused on giving each of the kids my attention, praising them, and showing them I cared. Each of the kids have their own struggles, and I tried to just be a loving adult for them today. Then after I got home at noon, I put some supper in the crock pot and had a warm and healthy supper for my family after my husband and oldest child got home from football practice. That is something I haven't been able do lately due to our various schedules and practices. It was nice to have us all sitting around the table eating together even if it was much later than normal.

I don't think that any of these ways of giving were extraordinary, but that is my point. Each one of us can give to others every day so easily. It doesn't have to be anything grand or take a lot of effort. It can just be as simple as a smile to a stranger or holding the door open for someone. I hope that maybe these small things have inspired you to take a moment to give of yourself today. Someone will really appreciate it. Two days left to go.

Journal Giveaway!

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month.

The company know for its "Keep Going" spirit is hitting the pavement to help find the cures for breast cancer. Energizer is continuing its longtime support of Susan G. Komen for the Cure by becoming the first ever Presenting Sponsor and Official Battery of the Breast Cancer 3-Day in 2009. "We are proud to sponsor such an amazing event that truly highlights the perseverance and never-quit spirit of thousnads joining together in the fight to end breast cancer, " said Betsy Laakko, Director of Marketing for Energizer. In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Energizer has created a limited-edition Keep Going Journal, the first in a series, to benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The collectible 80-page journal, which features inspirational quotes, a calendar, and a pink ribbon bookmark, is available by mailing in three proofs of purchase from select Energizer battery packs. For every journal redeemed, Energizer will donate $1.00 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, up to $15,000 with a minimum guaranteed donation of $10,000. In addition, commemorative pink batteries will be available during the month of October at retailers nationwide. In additional to the journals, Energizer will be donating $1 to Susan G. Komen for teh Cure for every new Facebook Fan, up to $10,000. You can become a fan of the Energizer Bunny at
Breast Cancer has affected several people in my family as well as numerous women in my circle of friends. I feel passionately about getting your mammograms and completing your self exams every month. Thanks to the Susan G. Komen fund for helping many women fight breast cancer.
So, thanks to Energizer, I have been given A Keep Going journal to giveaway to one of you. The journal is pink and grey and has a magnetic flap to close it. Inside there is a 2010 calendar, lined pages for writing, and quotes throughout the pages. One of my favorites from the book is...
"May you live all the days of your life." by Jonathan Swift Then there is an attached pink ribbon bookmark to mark your pages. This is a great journal to keep for yourself or give to someone you know who is struggling with breast cancer. All you have to do is leave me a comment with an email address. The contest ends on Monday, October 26th at 11:59 PM. I will choose the winner with on Tuesday, October 27th, 2009.
Disclosure: Energizer sent me 2 journals at no cost to promote to my readers. I did not receive any payment for this promotion.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thermometer Winner!

The winner of the Temple Touch Thermometer is:

RANDOM.ORG - Integer Generator: "Here are your random numbers: 5
Timestamp: 2009-10-06 13:38:26 UTC"

Andrea is the winner and I will be contacting her by email this morning!

Thanks for entering!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mondays Matter: Week 40

Taken from the book Every Monday Matters: 52 Ways To Make A Difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza
-Over 675,000 sworn officers and nearly 295,000 civilian officers protect and serve citizens.
-Over 14 million arrests occur annually for all offenses except traffic violations.
1. Walk up and thank a law enforcement officer for keeping you and your community safe.
2. Pull your car to your right and out of the way when you hear a siren or see a police car approaching with its lights on.
3. Organize your friends, co-workers, neighborhood, or child's classroom to create and deliver a thank-you card to your local law enforcement agency, police station, or town sheriff.
4. Ask your local police department which organizations support them...and donate.
5. Support or start a Neighborhood Watch program in your community.
6. Always report crime.
Several years ago my husband and I attended a Citizen's Police Academy where we were able to go through similiar training and classes that regular officers go through. We were also able to ride along with an officer to see what goes on in the day of a police officer. I learned how difficult some of their days can be, the kind of situations they are put into, the kind of people they have to deal with and the risks that the officers face every single day. It was such an eye opener for me and I have such respect for those officers who spend their days protecting our family. Our town doesn't have a police department or even its own sheriff. We have a county sheriff's department that makes visits to our town on a regular basis. A few years ago I became concerned (along with another mom) about the after-school traffic through town. Numerous children walk home from school and the traffic leaving the high school had become quite dangerous and many were driving down a closed street (closed to keep the kids safe that were getting off busses). So, after calling the sheriff's department, they now make regular visits to sit in town after school and monitor traffic. I am deeply appreciative of their time here and have told them so on many occasions. I just don't want to see one child get hurt because of a careless driver.
Law enforcement officers make an incredible difference in your community. Every day they put their lives at risk to protect you, your neighbors and your loved ones. Thank the next officer you see for their valuable service.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

4 Days of Giving...

I said I had started the 10-Day Give and I did start it on Thursday, this is just the first chance I have had to give you an update!

Day 1: About a year ago I started giving a toddler storytime at our local library. We have it once/month and each month I pick a theme, read a couple books, have some songs/fingerplays, a craft and a snack. The last few times we have had 6 children and I just really enjoy seeing them come each month. I hope I am encouraging a love of reading in the children and giving them something fun to do as well. This month we had a birthday party theme. When I started storytime, I got a lamb puppet named "Lucy" for our Storytime pet. So we pretended it was Lucy's 1st birthday at Storytime, complete with party hats, games, favors and birthday cupcakes. I think all the kids had a great time and I look forward to giving of myself each month at storytime.

Day 2: It was Homecoming weekend at our school this weekend and Friday night was the football game. We live right across from the football field, so we decided to have a tailgate party before the game. The weather didn't cooperate very well, as it was cold and rainy. So we ended up tailgating inside and didn't even go to the game. We had 23 adults and children here and had a blast. We grilled burgers and hotdogs and shared in some wonderful fellowship all evening. I love to entertain and have people over. There were people over at our home that had never met before and I love to see new people getting to know eachother and mingling. So, on Friday night I opened my home and my refridgerator up to lots of friends and I hope a fun evening was had by all.

Day 3: Ironically today was my birthday. But, I think I can still find some ways that I gave even though I was the receiver of many others on Saturday. Saturday morning, our son had a soccer game. Again the weather was COLD and rainy and windy, but I sat outside and cheered our son on even though I really wanted to be at home under a blanket! Then once I got home I had to bake and decorate 4 cakes for a fall festival that I will write about on day four. Saturday evening, my Sister-in-law watched our children so my husband and I could go out for dinner. She is also doing the 10-Day give, so I was very appreciative of her giving of her time to take care of our children for the evening! :) While we were waiting to be seated for dinner we ran into friends at the restaurant....friends that were at our house on Friday night, acutally. So, once we were shown to our table we invited our friends over to join us for dinner. Even though Pat and I don't get a lot of time to ourselves, we had a laughter filled meal with our friends, Mike and Tina, that brought a lot of joy to our dinner.

Day 4: My parents have been the caretakers of country church as cemetary that is very dear to our family. This church has been integral to my upbringing. So, every first Sunday in October, for as far back as I can remember, I have been a part of what is called Lima Leaf Day. (Lima as in lima bean). There used to be a town called Lima that most of my mother's family was born and raised in. So, every year, we travel "back home" and work at this event. A meal is served as well as different kids games and a country store where crafts and goodies are sold. I usually work in the dining room, seating people and keeping everything clean. The last couple years I have also worked the food-line. As a child I remember running the fish pond and the ring toss games for the kids. Now my kids help out with those games! One of the big games is the Cake Walk and this was why I was making cakes on Saturday afternoon. We usually serve anywhere between 500 and 700 people at this event. Today I started working in the dining room and ended my day on the food line. I enjoy seeing people come back each and every year to help support this church and cemetary that is so important to so many people.

I am not sure what the rest of the 6 days will hold for me and whom I will be giving to, but I am enjoying looking for those opportunities where I can give of myself to someone else.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I've Started the 10-Day Give

Last year at this time I found out about a group that was trying to get people to give of themselves for 10 days in a row. So, I joined in their cause and spent 10 days giving of myself to others. What I realized is how easy it is to give of yourself and how often I was doing it. I think it comes naturally to put others needs before my own and I enjoyed completing this challenge last year.
So, stayed tuned and see how I have given of myself each of these days. I would love to hear if you have been giving as well.

From the 10-Day Give Website:

The 10 Day Give is a challenge that is designed to help us get our minds off of ourselves and start thinking about how we can help others.
The thing is, I think most people really want to make other people’s lives better, but with everything going on all around us all hours of the day, we just don’t get a chance. This is an opportunity to choose, on purpose, to give of ourselves. There really are hundreds of opportunities that we overlook each day. My goal is to just grab hold of one of them each day.
For some people that means giving money, for others time is far more precious than money, and for others it may mean their expertise in an area. But, no matter who you are, we all have something to give.
It could be taking someone out to lunch, it could be babysitting for an overworked mom, it can as simple as giving your precious time by taking your mom to the park to talk. There are no rules, no judges, and no right or wrong ways of completing the challenge.
But, I encourage you to sign up for the challenge and decide to give whatever you can – it’s only for 10 days. And who knows, maybe it will become a habit.
So, why not decide to take 10 days to give something to a different person, each day. It doesn’t matter what the gift is, how much it costs, who it is given to, or how it is given. The point is to just to give – on purpose. We hope you decide to join us. You can check out their website here:

So what can you get out of this?
1. The satisfaction of seeing a little effort on your part yield a lot of joy in the lives of others.
2. The assurance of what you sow you will reap. (2 Corinthians 9:6)

"Give away your life, you'll find life given back, but not merely given back - given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. (Luke 6:38 The Message)