Saturday, December 19, 2015

Handy Fudge and the BEST Bark!

I can remember in third grade, my right hand hurt a-l-l the time.  My teacher made me write these awful cursvie sentences:

I will not talk, or my hand will hurt.

I had just moved to a new school, and I don't even remember being especially social that year.  My teacher was so mean.  (I even had a nickname for her I've never, ever said out loud.)  I even got paddled that year.  Yes, ME!  If you didn't turn your work in, you got paddled.  Boy, did a swift whipping on the heinie work wonders for assignment completion.  I even did turn my work in, and a little boy named Ricky erased my name, and wrote his name in the Name___________ blank.  I could even see my name through his crappy erasing job.  I kinda sense she could see it too.

Anyway, my hand hurt all year.  I guess I was making friends, so it was totally worth it, haha!  Which brings me to why I brought up my sore hand..

I've been making candy, treats, and little gifts for teachers, neighbors, and friends.  I have the best fudge recipe ( will make your hand sore!)  It always turns out perfectly..and I love a recipe that is consistent (especially if I'm giving it to someone else!).

Would you like the recipe (and a sore hand, ha!)?  Here it is:

Fantasy Fudge
   3 cups sugar
   3/4 cup butter (1 and 1/2 sticks)
   2/3 cup evaporated milk (1 small can)
   12 oz. (bag) Nestle chocolate chips or Reese's peanut butter chips
   1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow creme
   1 cup nuts-optional (pecans or walnuts in chocolate fudge is delicious!)
   1 tsp. vanilla

   Prepare 9x13 pan.  (I use butter and lightly coat the entire dish, but you can line with foil if you want.)  Then, I get all the ingredients ready.  Cut open the chocolate or peanut butter chips.  Open the marshmallow creme, peel off the paper top, and set out a big spoon for scraping the jar.  Set out the vanilla and the teaspoon.  (I even set a timer on my phone for five minutes, so it's ready to hit start when my mixture begins to boil.)
   Bring sugar, butter, and evaporated milk to a full rolling boil (this means lots of bubbles coming up, not five, haha!), stirring nonstop so it doesn't burn.  Start the timer, keep stirring, and boil for five minutes.  This is when it's making c-a-n-d-y!
Don't start your five minute timer till it looks like this.

   Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate or peanut butter chips until melted.  Stir in the marshmallow creme, nuts if you want, and the vanilla.  Pour into your prepared pan, and spread until level.

   Cool completely, and cut into squares using a plastic knife (it's a much smoother cut!).  I cut a 9x13 into ninths, wrap with wax paper, red striped baking string, and add a plastic knife to add to a box for a gift. Yum!!

And I have another NEW favorite recipe..Chocolate Cookie Bark! (and no pain, haha!)  My friend, Corinne, brought this to our latest Junque2Jewels Bunco painting party Tuesday night, and it is SOOO good!  She let me take the rest home, and I've already made MORE!  Here is one more easy recipe for you:

Chocolate Cookie Bark
   8 oz. Baker's Semi-sweet baking chocolate
   6-8 oz. Baker's Premium White baking chocolate (it calls for 6 oz, but what do you do with the
                         extra 2 oz?  ..How can you have too much chocolate?  I throw it all in!)
   2 Tbsp. peanut butter
   10 Oreo chocolate sandwich cookies
   Line a baking sheet with wax paper.  (I use clothespins on the corners since the darn paper wants to roll up!)
   In two separate dishes or pans, melt the two chocolates.  (I melted one on the stove top and one in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time..the microwave was much faster!)  Add 2T. peanut butter to the white chocolate and stir well.   
   Crumble five Oreos into each bowl of melted chocolate and mix well.  Drop spoonfuls of the chocolate mixtures onto the prepared baking sheet, alternating colors of chocolate.  Cut through the chocolate with the back of a butter knife (don't want to cut your wax paper!) to create a marble effect.

   Refrigerate at least one hour, and break into pieces.  Store in an airtight container.  (If it lasts that long.)

Here is how the little gifts turned out:
I ordered the cutest wooden monograms, and spray painted them white to add to the bow!
Yes, I was up until 3:30 this morning.  So..making them all cutesy takes time.  Or I'm super slow and can't focus with the kids awake.  ..Or I went to see Star Wars at 10:26pm, and didn't start putting the tins together till after we got home last night!!  and it was soo worth seeing Kylo Ren, love child of H__ S___ and P________ L___!!  He wasn't even scary with his mask off. (yay!)  I loved seeing the Millennium Falcon and X-wing fighters again, the re-creation of the Death Star destroyed, and meeting the new characters: Poe (the Luke-like pilot), Rey (new girl Jedi/pilot/hero), BB-8 (small orange-white droid), and Finn (rebel storm trooper)!

Make your friends some candy, and go see Star Wars, The Force Awakens! : )

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

In DC, Filled with Insulin and Just Enough Faith

I watched the sun rise on a plane today, and I've watched the sun set too.
Every day feels like a dress rehearsal, like a lesson in living (but the years keep passing!).  I've really been (intentionally) practicing faith lately.  Today at 6am (I was running late), circling the economy (code for way far) long term parking, trying not to lose my joy.  I released control, and a spot finally revealed itself.
As I boarded the first plane, there were no valet tags to hang on my bag.  The lady said there were some "below".
Come to find out, that's code for if you walk away from it to have it valet-checked, you'll have to exit the airport and pick it up at baggage claim.  And go through security again.  To make the next flight.
I did, and learned a lesson.  I went into a bathroom stall, had a cry, turned it over to God, and kept going.  An employee on the phone shooed me away when I was trying to find the baggage claim desk (your tsa-possible bomb bag doesn't just go onto a rounder, y'all).  I finally found the office, waited, and it showed up.  She just handed it to me. No ID, no ticket stub, nothing. ? Guess bombs don't come in purple suitcases.
Then at the next exchange, I only had 42 minutes to make it to the next flight.  Guess who made my plane ten minutes early?  And the next plane only 6 gates away?
Prayer works, friends.  I've only got a tiny mustard seed, but I'm flexing it.  Trying, and somehow making it smoothly.
Even spilled the coffee I had time for (from a Starbucks right next to my final gate!), and had time to wash my hands.  Again.
I'm now circling Reagan (DCA) in a holding pattern.  Pilot doesn't know why, weather is good.  But I know.  God has a little something He's working on, so we need to hold on.
I changed both kids sites last night before I left town, and filled an extra reservoir in case one of them runs out of insulin before Saturday.
I'm trusting my parents, my kids, and my very big God to watch over them all.
Thankful and blessed even in the midst of stress, 3.5 hours of sleep preparing for this exciting little getaway with my honey, tears, the purple bag I can see and not touch outside a window, a micro-layover, my little girl's friend problems, a dying phone and missing my littles already.  If this is the dress rehearsal, I'm excited and nervous for the real thing!
God, please let me be a blessing! ❤️

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Low Reservoir

Oh gosh did it rain today!  Makes for crazy numbers and a home day!

Clay had 27 units left yesterday I knew he'd get a Low Reservoir alarm at some point yesterday.  I had a reservoir filled and waiting on him when he came downstairs this morning.  And..he was o-u-t.  I love those days when I'm riding the wave and ready!  It happens 2% of the time, so it's golden. ; )

And really..who changes before you have zero units?  haha!  (umm..probably normal people..we just aren't those people.) We used to have soo much left at site change time (like 50-100 units!), but now we ride into the ten units or less zone.  (that's a meal anymore! : O ahhh!)

We have now been in our house nearly two whole big fat years.  And I finally hung drapes in my bedroom! : ) yippee!!  I have a wittle baby who likes to twist himself into them and play hide and seemed appropriate to wait.  ..Or I just didn't want to drag out the ladder and the drill and the screwdriver and the ruler and a pencil and open the rod boxes, you get the idea.

We are on this new clean-everything kick.  We are getting ready to finish our attic space over the garage for a teen/kid hangout, so we have to clear out the storage/clothes/stuffed animals/old toys.  I can't lie, it's an amazing feeling.  We are doing two tubs a day.  ('s all I can handle.)  But the freedom that comes with getting rid of stuff (that we don't need, haven't missed, and just takes up our space), is phenomenal.  We all need less stuff..and maybe someone else will really need it, ha! : )
Have a great week! (..need some stuff?) : )

Monday, November 16, 2015

JDRF Walk and #NDAM

Feeling nostalgic tonight, I just saw Love the Coopers.  Go see it.  Such a sweet (and hilarous!) movie.  I'm ready for Christmas now. <3 font="">

I never got to say an amazing THANK YOU to everyone who HELPED, DONATED, and WALKED with us for a CURE for Clay and Mary Claire in the JDRF Walk to Cure 2015!  I'm sorry that life stepped in, and it's taken much too long to express my complete and overwhelming gratitude!

It was an absolutely amazing year for our family walk team!  We met our goal.  (I went to check our total, but the site is down right now for maintenance, ha!)  We have some friends who come consistently to support us every year, and we have some new friends who join us when they can, and we are thankful for ALL of them!!  The walk itself is more fun (as is the diabetes journey) when you have someone to lean on and talk to.

What a blessing it's been-the friends we've made, the lessons learned, and the shared purpose we've been given.  It's time to be thankful for the amazingness we have plus the not-so-amazing.  It's kinda funny that National Diabetes Awareness Month (#NDAM) is November..the month of thanks.  When we'd like to have said, "No, but thanks anyway."

So, I'm thankful to have meters to check my kids instead of ketone (pee) strips, insulin in pumps instead of glass syringes, nutrition labels on food for carb counts instead of guessing, for health insurance to pay for our strips, lancets, iv prep pads, sensor and supplies, and insulin.  Oh, and we are thankful for Dr. Banting for his discovery of insulin so that my children are still alive sharing this journey with us.  

Prayers that you are so blessed!  Love you, Holly

Consider it PURE JOY, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Lego Halloween excited!

Ethan is in third grade this year, and I always like to sign up to do the fall party.  We used to just have one homeroom mom for all year, but this way we all share the responsibility!  I like to do fall, since we don't celebrate scary (and some kids don't celebrate Halloween..and I always tried to cap the amount of candy gobbled down!), and then I can do what I want! (evil laugh? nah, haha!)

I'm planning a Lego party!  It's remotely Halloween, since I put a pumpkin on the letter to parents and ordered some orange legos, ha!  Seriously, it's going to be all kinds of fun.  This is what makes me miss teaching. ; )  

When I plan a school/class party, I usually plan a snack, game or two, a craft and/or a take-home thing or goody bag.  Sometimes we do "centers" and the kids rotate every fifteen minutes so they get to do all the activities in small groups.

This year, it'll be Lego-themed, but kinda minute-to-win it.  I'm just smooshing all the things I want to do together!  I ordered chocolate cupcakes with white buttercream frosting, and I've made (orange colored) white chocolate Lego minifigures to go on top (my cousin had the molds to share with me!!).  I've also requested fruit, veggies, dip, cheese cubes, plates and napkins in my parent letter.  

I bought a big tub of Legos, ordered sets of 100 little yellow "lights", and 200 mini orange legos, four sets of lego handcuffs, etc. to separate into tiny goody bags for the kids.  Free play will be our craft I guess!!  One is Legos Don't Suck: Using a straw to suck up legos from a center plate and moving them to their own plates..child who moves the most wins a candy sucker prize!  (I have a peanut and corn I have to find a sucker with no high fructose corn syrup!  Ideas?)

The next is Lego Twin Towers: Partner up, one partner gets to SEE the design example I demonstrate, and they TELL the other partner how to replicate it. Winner pair gets Twix candy bars.

The third game is Bridge Build in Pairs: Pairing kids up with different partners and a Lego pile.  They can use one person's left hand and the other person's right hand.  Work together to build a bridge that a tiny Batman car can drive under and a minifigure can walk over.  Winners get Lego handcuffs.

The fourth game is It's a Stick Up!: Holding a tongue depressor with their teeth/lips, they stack as many legos on the stick as possible.  Highest number gets lego handcuffs!

Last game is Lego Zip Line: Working in small groups, they will build a simple contraption to hold their lego man/minifigure.  It needs to hold him AND needs an opening/loop/hook to hang on the string/zip line.  They can take it to the string to practice.  They need to think about weight, speed, and durability.  Then they race to the bottom.  Who won?  Why?  (you increase the angle to speed him up, even out the angle to slow him, and gravity pulls him down.)  Now, we start over, lowering the strings s-l-o-w-l-y (the slowest wins!).  Tension is needed to maintain travel.  If we have time, we'll take off three legos to see if it still works!  Economy of building. ; )  

They will be playing with mine and a friend's legos for the games, so they'll each get a goody bag of brand new legos to play with, keep, and take home!  I also ordered 40 minifigures (from China, oops!), so they may or may not make it in time!  I think they might be off-brand anyway since they were only $9!  or used?  They looked so nice in individual cellophane packages.  (If you get a minifig for Christmas, act surprised!)

I'm excited for the party, I think it'll be fun!  I'm even planning to dress up.  I'm thinking a big tulle Alice in Wonderland costume.  I'll have to sew it since I'm too big for kids section, and sexy Alice is totally not my style.  Why, oh why, are those my only choices?

Here's a pin I love. 
isn't she precious??
I just need some help with the what will fabric will I use?  and the design?  But I can totally find stripey stockings and a big black bow! : )  I haven't dressed up in YEARS! (unless you count that year I wore cowboy boots and a hat with pigtails.  That was almost a costume.) ;O)

What do you have planned for Halloween? : )  Have any great ideas for me? : )  or Legos you want to donate to the cause?!!  Hugs!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Thankful for soo much! : )

I've neglected poor little Blog for so long.  I get busy living and forget to document Life.  We had an amazing summer trip, and I never finished posting pictures.  I had a birthday, I'm officially forty-two, ha!  (As if I was faking it.)  And we had such a wonderful JDRF Walk this year..lots of friends who are just like family, and we've had soo much support and love!  And we just (didn't) celebrate Clay's two year Diaversary.  It's been two long years since D came to visit again.  We've grown together.
Roller Coaster CAPITAL of the world!!  (Carter is ready, obviously!)

He was going on the absolutely SCARIEST ride!  We all chickened out..especially after we learned there was a 1 3/4 hour wait!!  But this child did it!!

I have things on my mind.  Always do.  I always wanted a Titus/Timothy group to teach/learn from..and maybe I should be doing some teaching.  I'm not the youngest momma anymore, and I've lived and learned a little.  I'm not the most eloquent or perfect by any means..but a note to say I appreciate you can build bridges and soften hearts.  
American Girl in Chicago..first and LARGEST store!!

Did I mention GORGEOUS? and soo spacious for downtown Chicago square footage.

and we do love some Lego stores!

The most fascinating fountain in Chicago: Crown Fountain in Millennium Park.  The children's pictures change (1000 of their own kids) and the photos center with their mouth on the the water comes out of their mouths even as the photos morph.  Beautiful art and soo many to enjoy it.

We got to visit the Bean (aka Cloud Gate), also in Millennium Park!

and we visited the Sky Deck at sunset.  Amazing looking west.  The kids are sitting out over the city.  No..I didn't join them.  I'm a 'fraidy cat.

It was formerly the Sears Tower, now called Willis Tower.  It's an amazing visit/sight at 103 floors high.  Love that we get to take our kids to see these gifts!

One of the girls by world-renowned Spanish sculptor, Plensa.  They are different from every angle, it's almost unimaginable..except they are real.  The look changes as you look from far at an angle to straight on.

One thing I'm gonna say just for today is to send a thank you note.  It bothers my momma heart (thanks to my momma) when my kids don't get a thank you note after a birthday party/gift.  My kids have to sit and write thank you notes, and they don't understand when they don't get one.  They wonder if their friend liked the present they took to the party, especially if they birthday child didn't say thank you or that they liked it.  I think we should take the time to write one today.  For the kind words we received on Saturday, for the small thoughtful gift last week (or for the time someone took to donate to our team!).  If I've ever forgotten to send you a note, I'm sincerely sorry.  I make notes for my notes, and double back to try to remember every single person and thought.

I still get to go on field trips..even in ninth grade, thank you, JESUS!!  We had a blast out on the trails at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville!  (His teacher and I also got to thank Alice Walton in person for this amazing facility right in our own backyard.  It felt awkward to ask for a we didn't.  We are uber cool like that.)

Maybe our society is moving into expectation, but I don't expect anything from you.  (Except a thank you note, obviously.  Just kidding!)  Maybe it's my Words of Appreciation Love Language talking. : )  Prayers for a blessed week for you..and lots of things to be thankful for!  Hugs!