Thursday, December 30, 2010

Marriage Advice from an experienced but not expert person!

So yesterday, Hubby & I celebrated our 20th anniversary. I can't believe it's been 20 years. Why I feel like I'm still 20! How did time pass so quickly? It seems just like yesterday when we said "I do!"

I feel like we've defied the odds! So many people get divorced now days. So as an experienced "Married person" (I think 20 years constitutes experienced), I thought I'd share some of the things that I've learned about marriage. My advice doesn't include those who are in abusive relationships! If you are being abused (Physically or mentally) get help! Ok, here goes!

1. Marriage is very hard WORK! It's not easy & anyone who says it is is either not married or fooling themselves. You will have ups & downs. You need to keep working to make it work. It takes compromise! No matter how hard it gets, keep working at it. You will have some bad times, but the good times make them worth it.

2. When you get married, remove the word "divorce" from your vocabulary. Don't use it when you get mad! If you threaten it, it may happen! Marriage is for life! If you don't want to be with that person for life, don't get married!

3. If you can at all help it, wait to have kids. Give yourself a few years to get to know your spouse. Marriage is hard enough when it's just the 2 of you. When you throw kids in the mix, it makes it so much harder. We spent most of first 10 years as just a couple. During that time, we got to know each other better than if it would have been the 2 of us plus kids.

4. Forgive & Forget! You are going to mess up & so is your spouse! Neither one of you is perfect. The sooner you learn to say you are sorry & to accept their apology, the easier it will be. You'll save yourself a lot of heartache. And, once you accept their apology, don't keep bringing up the incident! All that does is cause strife & anger.

5. Put your spouse's needs ahead of your own. It won't always seem fair, but if you love them unconditionally & put them first, you'll be amazed at how it will benefit you!

6. Laugh together! Have fun together! Life is so serious most of the time so be intentional about having fun. Hubby & I love to play game on the PC & Wii together. We also love watching comedies on tv! We also love having fun with the kids.

7. Spend time together WITHOUT the kids! Go on dates once a month & try to spend at least 2 nights a year together without the kids! We are fortunate to both have parents that love keeping our kids. If you don't, then trade over-night babysitting with a friend! You need that time away to strengthen your marriage. Remember marriage takes work. The best thing you can do for your kids is to have a strong, healthy marriage!

8. Be intimate with your spouse regularly! You both need it!! AND the more you do it, the more you want to do it! Invest in a good lock for your bedroom door to insure your privacy. Nothing kills the mood faster than a child wandering in on you! The kids need to know that Mommy & Daddy need some private time!

9. Never talk bad about your spouse to anyone! Talk out your problems with your spouse! Not your mom! Not your friends! If you are having problems & need a sounding board, choose a friend who will keep confidences. I have a friend who lives in another state that I can talk with & who will keep me accountable & tell me if I'm being unreasonable! (Thanks Ann!!) I can't count the number of times I've been with a group of women & the talk turns to dogging their husbands. Girls, when you talk, it gets back to your husbands! It's disrespectful & unloving!!

10. Talk to your spouse! Ladies, your Hubby can NOT read your mind! I know we think they should just know what we are feeling & what we want & need. BUT they are not God! They can't read our minds! So talk to them! Tell them what you need, what you want & what you are feeling!

11. Lower your expectations! Not only of your spouse, but of yourself and your relationship. I know so many times that I've sabotaged us because of unrealistic expectations.

I think the most important thing I can tell you to do is pray for your marriage! Pray that God will make you the spouse you need to be. Pray for your spouse. Pray over anything you are struggling with in your marriage, even sex! It will do wonders!!

After 20 years, I'm more in love with my Hubby than ever. As I look back over the years, I realize I've been selfish, unreasonable & unloving. But fortunately, my Hubby has stuck with me & we've worked it out! It's been a real give & take relationship. I'm praying God will give us 20 or even 40 more years together!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Baking

So this year I decided to do a lot of baking so that I could share plates of goodies with neighbors & friends. Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook have seen all my tweets about my baking. So I thought I'd share the recipes I used this year. All of these recipes are peanut/nut free as my daughter is severely allergic. I use Blue Bonnet Margarine everywhere it says butter or margarine. I use Meijer semi-sweet chocolate chips (Nestle's are not peanut/nut free!). If you have any questions about any of these recipes, feel free Hope you all enjoy!

Christmas Plate Recipes

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Nestle TollHouse modified)
2 ¼ c. flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c. (2 sticks) butter - melted
¾ c. sugar
¾ c. brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
12 oz bag Meijer Semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven 375º
Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar & vanilla. Add eggs.
Gradually beat in flour, baking soda & salt. Add more flour if needed until spoon stays upright in dough. Stir in Chocolate Chips
Bake 8 ½ - 9 minutes.

Cookie Cutter Sugar Cookies (Joyce Young)
2 c. butter
3 c. powdered sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
6 c. flour
2 tsp soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

Beat butter until creamy. Add sugar & beat until fluffy. Add eggs & vanilla. Add flour, soda & cream of tartar & stir in. Batter will be stiff. Refrigerate. Roll on lightly floured surface & cut with floured cookie cutters. Bake 6 to 7 minutes at 375º. Cool and decorate as desired. To decorate with sugars only, sprinkle sugar on cookies before baking.

Buttercream Icing (Joyce Young)
½ c. shortening
½ c. butter
1 tsp vanilla
4 c. powdered sugar (1 lb.)
2 Tbsp milk

Cream butter & shortening, add vanilla. Add sugar 1 c. at a time, beating well on medium speed. Icing will appear dry. Add milk & beat at high speed until light & fluffy. Tint with food colors as desired. Keep icing covered with damp cloth when not using. store in refrigerator. To make icing spreading consistency, add 1 to 2 Tbsp extra milk.

Chocolate Peppermint Candies (Jeanne Fry on
¾ c. sweetened condensed milk
1 ½ tsp peppermint extract
4 c. confectioners’ sugar
3 c. semisweet chocolate chips
2 tsp shortening

In bowl, combine milk & extract. Stir in 3 ½ to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar to form a stiff dough.  Turn onto a surface sprinkled lightly with confectioners’ sugar. Knead in enough remaining sugar to form a dough that is very stiff & no longer sticky. Shape into 1 inch balls. Place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Flatten into 1 ½ inch circles. Let dry 1 hour.  Turn & let dry 1 hour longer. Melt chocolate chips & shortening in a double boiler or microwave-safe bowl; cool slightly. Dip patties in chocolate mixture & place on waxed paper to harden. **Note: Next time I'm going to actually roll out the dough & cut circles rather than do it in balls. I think it will be more uniform.

Prepare Creamy Christmas Peppermints (Shaheen Bilgrami from
¼ cup or 4 Tbsp cream cheese
several drops peppermint extract
1 cup powdered sugar
red food coloring

add peppermint extract to cream cheese. gradually add powdered sugar & mix until mixture forms soft dough. Break of ¼ dough & add few drops red food coloring. Mix until ball is completely red. Loosely combine the red & white doughs so that the dough has marbled effect. Sprinkle powdered sugar onto surface & roll out dough (about ¼ inch thick). cut out festive shapes using cooking cutters. Leave candies to dry on waxed paper. Refrigerate candies if not eating them right away. **Note: This took almost double the powdered sugar in order to get it stiff enough to roll out. Was very messy to work with.

Chocolate Snow Balls! (Dina Brooks from
½ cup plus 3 Tbsp (11 Tbsp total) softened butter softened butter
¼ cup fat-free evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¾ c. all purpose flour
3 Tablespoon cocoa
½ cup confectioner’s sugar plus 1 cup, separated.

Preheat oven 350º
Mix butter until creamy & fluffy. add evaporated milk & vanilla. carefully stir one at a time: flour, cocoa & sugar into butter. Shape into balls about 1” wide & place on baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes. Immediately roll in 1 cup powdered sugar. Allow to cool completely, 15 -20 minutes. sift remaining powdered sugar over snowballs.

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cookies (
1 ½ c. flour
½ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
½ c. butter softened
1 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 ½ tsp vanilla
10 oz jar maraschino cherries
1 c. (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
½ c. sweetened condensed milk

Mix flour & cocoa & set aside. In another bowl, beat butter until softened. Add sugar, salt, baking powder & baking soda. Beat until well combined. Add egg & vanilla. Beat well. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Shape dough into 1 inch balls on ungreased baking sheet. Press center of each ball with thumb.

Drain maraschino cherries, reserving juice. Place cherry into center of each cookie.

In small saucepan combine chocolate chips & sweetened condensed milk. Heat until chocolate is melted. Stir in 4 tsp of reserved cherry juice.  Spoon about 1 tsp of frosting over each cherry on unbaked cookie, spreading to cover cherry. (thin frosting with additional cherry juice if needed). Bake in 350º oven for 10 min or until done.

Easy Fantasy Fudge (from Jet Puffed Marshmallow Creme Jar)
¾ c (1 ½ sticks) butter
3 c sugar
⅔ c evaporated milk (5 oz can)
Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add 1 12 oz package (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Add 1 jar (7 oz) Puffed Marshmallow creme & 1 tsp vanilla

**Note: This is the old recipe from the Marshmallow creme Jar. I haven't tried the new recipe that takes baker's chocolate squares. You can double the recipe ( I had large jar of marshmallow) but it's harder to work with & stir so completely mixed.

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows (Wendy Fouse)
1 bag marshmallows (can use regular or miniature size)
1 box candy canes unwrapped & crushed (put in ziploc bag to crush)
Bark Coating Chocolate - 6 cubes

Melt 6 cubes of bark chocolate in microwave  for 1 min in glass container or measuring cup, remove, stir to break up cubes, return to microwave & do 30 seconds at a time until chocolate is completely melted & creamy. Carefully roll 1 marshmallow at a time in chocolate, coating all sides (toothpicks are great help here). Sprinkle or dip coated marshmallows in crushed candy & then place on foil or wax paper to set. **Note - I used Baker's semi-sweet baking chocolate as none of the coating chocolates were peanut/nut free.

Chewy Gingerbread Cookies (Amy Hengst from
2 ¼ c. flour
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp fresh, grated ginger (optional)
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp salt
¾ c. margarine, softened
1 c. white sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp water
¼ c. molasses
2 Tbsp. white sugar

Preheat oven to 350º. Mix Flour, dried ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves & salt in bowl. In another bowl, cream together margarine & 1 cup sugar until light & fluffy. Then beat in egg & stir in water, fresh ginger & molasses. Gradually stir in dry ingredients until creamy & well mix. Shape dough into walnut sized balls & roll in 2 Tbsp sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet & flatten slightly. Bake for 8-10 minutes. For softer cookies, take them out earlier. For crispier cookies, let them bake couple of minutes longer. Store in airtight container.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Twitter Thankfulness Project

So over the Thanksgiving week, I twittered a series of tweets that expressed things I am thankful for. So I thought I'd post them all here in my blog for those who are not on twitter. So here goes...

1. I'm thankful for good tires on our van as we travel in cold, rainy weather.
2. Thankful for music & a family that loves it. Nothing like playing RockBand together or singing in the van together
3. Thankful for my Hubby. He's great provider, hubby, dad, trainer, caretaker, computer geek & lover! He isn't perfect, but he is the best!
4. Thankful for my oldest girl. She is so smart, remembers everything, loves to talk. Anything she sets her mind to, she will accomplish!
5. Thankful for my boy. He loves outdoors & doing boy stuff! But his tender heart is something I pray he never loses! He gives best hugs!
6. Thankful for my baby girl. She's very dramatic, full of life, loving & carefree! Don't be surprised if you see her on big screen someday!
7. Very Thankful for my in-laws. They are best any girl could hope for. They've always treated me as part of family & love to take my kids!
8. Thankful for warm clothes & warm house in midst of cold weather! So blessed.
9. So thankful that God has given me ability to bake/cook wonderful desserts. I love the joy I see on the faces of those who eat my goodies!
10. Thankful for men/women who are/were willing to fight for freedom. They are true Heroes! Don't forget to thank military people u know!
11. Thankful that the ground is warm enough to melt the freezing rain we are having!
12. Thankful for time spent w/family sharing stories & enjoying each others company. So much fun.
13. Thankful for my health. Even though I have chronic problems, it could be much worse! I can get out of bed & function fairly normal!
14. Thankful Jesus came to earth to die for my sins & rose again so that I might live w/Him forever. Such Grace/Mercy that I don't deserve!!
15. Thankful for DVDs in van & DSs. Without which I'd have to listen to fighting & arguing all the way home!
16. Thankful for lifelong friends who I've known forever & don't let time/distance stand in our way! They are like siblings to me!
17. Thankful for my church family. They love, support, encourage, & pray for me & my family. You are what a church family is supposed to be!
18. Thankful for my Internet friends, many of whom I've never met! You've encouraged me, cheered me on & kept me company on sleepless nights
19. Thankful for @CSunset! Even though we've never met, you've become a bestfriend who has encouraged me & held me accountable at times! TY!
20. Thankful for my brother-in-law Neal! I love his handshakes & watching him spin anything! Can't wait till we get to Heaven & can really talk!
21. Thankful for our treasured friends @Showfam5. What started as Jeff & Jeff turned into full family friendship. Can't wait till NY eve!
22. Thankful for freedom to display a nativity on our front lawn & to celebrate Christ's birth w/o fear of government persecution!
23. Thankful for police officers & firefighters who put their lives on the line daily to protect & save us!
24. Thankful for my parents who've always loved me, supported me & shown Christ's love to me, been awesome grandparents & in-laws to hubby!
25. Thankful for my meds & TENS unit that help keep my fibromyalgia under control so I can be the wife/mom I need to be.
26. Thankful my Hubby has been home so much this month & will be home over 1/2 of next month! Loving that he can tuck kids in at night!
27. Thankful I can get out of bed this morning & cold rain has not made me too achy. Pain is there but manageable today.
28. Thankful for a day that I get to spend with my extended family!
29. Thankful for my Mamaw! She loves the Lord. She loves me! She taught me her love of crafting, sewing, quilting & other handiwork!
30. Very thankful our families understand seriousness of J's peanut/treenut allergy & keep nuts away from our celebrations to keep her safe!
31. Thankful for paved roads. Without them we probably would be staying home or be stuck somewhere on a muddy road!
32. Thankful for freedom to be able homeschool my kids & provide them an education based on Biblical world view not evolution one!
33.Thankful God has turned my inadequate attempts at parenting into good results. My kids have tender hearts, love God, are polite & loving.
34. Thankful for all my wonderful family & all the good conversation & laughs.
35. Thankful for the beautiful world God created, including rain! My God is so creative! Can't imagine how awesome Heaven will be!
36. Thankful for my Hubby. He's my soulmate, bestfriend, husband, protector, provider, encourager & lover. God provided perfect man for me!
37. I'm thankful over 1/2 of cherry delight was eaten b/c I'm only one in this house who likes it. Now maybe I won't make myself sick on it!
38. Thankful for all the years of safe travel God has blessed me with.
39. Thankful for ears that can hear the sound of my kids' laughter. That brings joy to my heart!
40. Thankful for another get-together that has passed w/o my oldest having reaction to peanuts/tree-nuts! 7 years w/o serious reaction!
41. Thankful for crazy hubby who loves his kids so much he's willing to stand in line at ToysRUs in order to stretch our Christmas budget!
42. Thankful for Facebook. Because of it, I can keep up w/friends, catch up on old friends I haven't seen in ages & share my life w/you all!
43. Thankful for indoor toilets. Can't imagine having to go out in cold & dark to go!!
44. Thankful for McDs SweetTea & my wonderful Hubby who brought me some in midst of his Black Friday shopping. I think I'm addicted to both!
45. Thankful for great Bible study books we have access to here in US to help us study God's Word!
46. Thankful for easy to fix foods like Tv dinners, pizza, pasta, cereal, etc. They've helped me feed my family when my fibromyalgia flares!
47. Thankful for video games my hubby & kids can play together! Yes, I have a house full of Geeks!!
48. Thankful for hot water for showers b/c it helps my fibromyalgia!
49. Thankful for a God who is all-knowing & all-powerful. He knows all that happens on this earth. Far beyond what we know & understand.
50. Thankful that God's Mercies are renewed daily. I don't have to be perfect, just humble & repentant.
51. Thankful for my Savior that I can run to when unthinkable things happen knowing that He knows the truth & gives peace to those involved.
52. Thankful that I serve a God who answers Prayer!!
53. Thankful for a pastor that preaches the Bible, even the difficult, convicting things.

This list is only the tip of the iceberg of all the things I'm thankful for!!