Saturday, April 30, 2011

When Stickers Strike

      So I had the genius idea of putting stickers into our Easter Eggs.  And, for the most part, it was genius.  Lily loved it, and it avoided having mass amounts of candy around that she thought she should eat.  However, this week we have experienced the downside.  Exhibit A - baby sister gets stickered.


I should have been taking pictures of where I have found stickers all week.  That would make a more effective statement about the stickers.  I found Ariel on my shirt sleeve at Old Navy - I have no idea how long she had been hanging out there.  I have found stickers on cabinets.  I have found them on the floor.


And the glass side table.  (Pay no attention to how incredibly dirty the table is besides the stickers.  I should clean it.  I know I should.)

Picnik collage

And then, there is our breakfast nook table.


But, I must say, stickers are quiet and removable, and I can even get Lily to pick them up on occasion.  So, the Sticker Attack of 2011 has not been that bad, and I would do it again.  It is easier than wiping up chocolate from her face, the carpet, the coffee table and anywhere else I would inevitably find candy residue, and it makes this little two-year-old deliriously happy.  Worth it.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Our House: Master Bedroom

     Even as I do a post about our house, my heart is heavy for all those in Alabama and throughout the Southeast who have lost homes or, much worse, family members.  All of this makes our little power outage a couple of weeks ago seem so minor, and my heart is just broken over the lives that will have to be completely rebuilt.  I pray that God will bring peace and swift recovery to those hurting and that he will be glorified through this situation.
      And now, I will continue with the home tour.  Next up, our master bedroom.  I remember sitting on our back deck with John trying to explain to him what I had in mind.  It involved more trim.  Always more trim.  And I wanted to hang wallpaper, which I had never done.  He was game and gave me the go ahead, though he said I had to get help hanging the wallpaper so that it would not look crazy.  And, we like the way it turned out.

Photo Courtesy of Main Street Real Estate

      First, I painted the room a light blue color - I actually wanted it to be a little more gray, but I am largely pleased with it.  One of my mom's friends helped me hang the wallpaper, which was so kind.  I learned a lot - enough that I felt confident enough to also put it into Bella's nursery.  Our bedding is from Target, and I keep thinking I may add more pillows, but this is certainly easy to make in the morning.  We wanted to keep our bedroom light and airy.  When I mentioned to John that I wanted to do mirrors above our bed, well, let's just say, he wasn't sure what I had in mind.  Though this would not have been his exact choice, he does like the way it turned out.  The big mirror is from Hobby Lobby with little craft mirrors glued to the wall, and the monogram vinyl is from this Etsy shop.  I also glued extra bling onto the wallpaper, because I really like shiny stuff.


Our bedroom looks out into the greenbelt behind our house, which is such a peaceful view.  I also added a little bling to our curtains that are from Bed, Bath and Beyond.  The metal (they are actually plastic) flowers came from Target.

Picnik collage

Across from the bed is my dresser with old windows that have the same wallpaper hung behind them.  I made the wreath above the dresser - I wanted something round amidst all of the squares.  I also keep looking for some kind of bench to go at the foot of my bed - of course I have something in my head that may never be found in reality.

Picnik collage

The wall going into our bathroom has John's dresser and framed pictures of some of our favorite trips overseas together.  I used scrapbook paper that was a floral cut-out to "stencil" a mat for each of these pictures.

Picnik collage
Picnik collage

This room is unusual and stylized to just what I had envisioned.  We like the calming atmosphere and what we hope to be casual elegance, and I love the little touches of bling that bounce light around the room.  Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Recipe Recommendations

      This week we have continued to have a house that is Project Central.  John completed the playhouse, and now, we are working on tricking out the rest of the deck.  It will have an explorer/adventure theme.  In the meantime, I have been making dinner and working on the craft room and, of course, caring for my two little friends who need a lot of time and attention.  (Note: it currently takes about 2  hours a day to feed Bella, because she is taking in a ton of baby food as well as nursing.  That is a lot of time, and I have to remind myself how thankful I really am that she is healthy and a great eater.)  And, look who can sit all by themselves now.  What a big girl.


And, I really do have a very sweet cat that will let a two-year-old lay on her.  The second picture is the look on Lily's face as she was seeing the fun stuff John put on the playhouse for her.  Priceless.

Picnik collage

      So, I decided to do a post about recipes that are not mine, but are really good.  They are all from All Recipes (one of my favorite things in life), and I will just put links here with my notes.  I always like getting new ideas for things I might not try otherwise.  So, if you have some all time favorite recipes to send my way - please do.  Here goes:

Mediterranean Puff Pastry Chicken - I made this for community group last week and was reminded of how yummy it really is.  I follow the recipe pretty much exactly, but I use canned diced tomatoes instead of sun-dried, because I like them more.  And I cut my chicken into strips to insure that it cooks all the way through easily.  People will think you are fancy if you make this, and it really is very easy.

Blue Cheese Burgers - I was just talking about this with Kristin today.  It is a great summer recipe that is easy, especially if you love blue cheese.  And we ♥ blue cheese at my house.  I think it would work well with any kind of cheese that you love really.

Breakfast Wellington - I made this last night, because breakfast for dinner sounded good.  It says you can substitute cream cheese for the cheddar cheese, but I opted to put them both in.  (again, I ♥ cheese.)  When I do this one again, I will chop the broccoli into smaller pieces, because John does not like to eat the stems.  I also read the reviews and baked the bottom crust for about 7 minutes before I put the filling onto it so that it would not be soggy.  I think this could be made very pretty, which I did not have time for last night but may attempt in the future.

Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce - One of my all-time favorite sides to made.  So easy and tasty and even healthful.  Delish.

Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli - Clearly, I need to dress up vegetables for me to want to eat them.  But, this is another stand-by in my house.

      I hope these are some fun ideas of tried and true recipes that may work for you.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Our House, otherwise known as, Project Central

      Because we have been home the last few weeks, we have gotten to tackle some of the projects around our house.  This weekend they were in full swing.  John is tricking out our bottom deck to be a kid's play area - one of the many reasons that I love him.  He has been so excited about it, which is so fun for me to see.  First, he put down commercial grade rubber flooring, since it is all concrete down there.  He and Lily installed the tiles together.

Picnik collage

She really did legitimately help, because she figured out how to put the pegs that connect the tiles into the holes to prep them for John.  To say this warmed our hearts is an understatement.  These little footprints also warmed our hearts.


That was a couple of weekends ago - this weekend it was time to build the playhouse/tower/slide thing.  We ordered a really basic set from Wal-Mart and are customizing it to meet our needs on the deck.

Picnik collage

Anyone who has done this knows that there is a lot of assembly involved.  Fortunately, John viewed it as one big puzzle that he was really excited about solving.  So much so that I had to gently pry him away from the project to eat.  (not exaggerating.  ♥ him.)

Picnik collage

By last night, the playhouse was largely assembled and looking really cute.  We spent some time brainstorming what we wanted the rest of the deck to be like, which we had to both pry ourselves away from so we could go to bed and not be zombieoids the rest of the week.

Today, the girls took extra long naps - way to go, friends, and I was working on these things for my craft room.  And using a jig-saw, which makes me feel kind of like some kind of DIY diva extraordinaire.

Picnik collage

More updates to come!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Weekend: He Has Risen Indeed!

      Well, Easter weekend is coming to a close.  And what a glorious holiday it is - to celebrate the reason that we live - that Jesus has risen.  What a blessing.  Happy Easter from the Spensts!


This year, I decided to try dying eggs with Lily for the first time.  This was a wild success - I think she may be getting some of my craftiness, because she has amazing ability to sit and spend focused time on stuff like this.  Oh the fun we have ahead of us!

Picnik collage
Picnik collage
You must taste test the outside of eggs to make sure they are ready for the dye-bath.
Sneaky Bella trying to get in on the action.
Picnik collage
Picnik collage
Seriously, it was one of those moments as a mother that I looked back and thought, "Wow, that went better than even my wildest dreams could have conjured up.  Thanks, Lily and Bella."  And we know how rare those are.

      We have had a great weekend as a family with no horrendous power outage at the restaurant hanging over us and just getting to enjoy being together.  Though it is hard on weekends like this to not live near to any family.  We went to Easter service last night, and then taught Sunday School (i.e. crowd control) this morning.  The girls were dressed, and when I tried to get a cute picture of them both looking at the camera, this is what I ended up with.

Picnik collage

Once we got home (after Lily melted down at Easter brunch at a restaurant - being two is so very difficult), it was time to put more stickers onto the Easter eggs, and Bella continued to soak in her first Easter ever.

Picnik collage
Picnik collage

And after nap time, it was egg-hunting time.  I hid the eggs.  I did about 60 eggs - I have a tendency to go overboard, and I did resist the urge to open the other bag that I had bought.  Lily loved it.  This was another one of those moments that went exactly as I imagined it could have.  So fun.

Picnik collage

Bella looked on from the stroller and got subsequently covered in the stickers that filled most of the eggs.


Lord willing, I am looking forward to many more Easters with these precious girlies.


We also spent a lot of time this weekend working on a tower/slide for our bottom deck.  And by "we",  I mean mostly John - though I should get the assist.  I will share pictures soon - it is so fun!  I hope you all had a blessed Easter.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Giving Our Children Perspective

      Happy Good Friday and Easter weekend!  What a privilege it is to have a Savior who died for us to set us free.  I hope that we are living in that freedom in new ways all the time.  This weekend we are looking forward to dying eggs, hunting for them and eating, but most importantly, to celebrating the greatest sacrifice that has ever been made.  I'm excited!
      Something that John and I have talked a lot about is the fact that we want to offer a greater perspective on the world to our children.  Until now, it has been something that is more in our hearts and minds, but the older Lily gets, the more she understands.  So this week, we decided to start sponsoring a child.  I had this idea years ago - I wanted to sponsor a child with the same birthday as each of my own children to give them an even more personal connection.  We are sponsoring through World Vision, and I found it very simple to search for a girl that was born on the same exact day as Lily.  We introduced Lily to the picture of Rashmi from Sri Lanka last night and told her that it was her new friend.
      I realized very quickly that this project makes it more real for me as well.  Since becoming a mother, I have been even more overwhelmed with the state of poverty that so many children and families live in.  I realized that little Rashmi's parents are probably younger than us and are trying to provide for her and often feel like they can't.  When I look around at all that we have been given, it is overwhelming to say the very least.  We have far more than we could ever need or want, and I do not have to worry about whether or not I will be able to feed my children.  We have access to excellent medical care and education.  I will never understand the "whys" of how God chooses to bless people and in what ways, but I want our family to be closer to God's heart for the poor.  This is one small way we can do that.
      I look forward to Lily's birthday this next year, knowing that we will be celebrating Rashmi's as well.  I hope that this will give us one more vehicle to teach our girls about the wide world that we live in and the great God who loves each of us so much, no matter where we live or what we have.
      I'll finish on a lighter note with pictures of Bella and her love affair with a spoon.  Sweet girl.
Picnik collage

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chocolate Bag O' Fun

      Well, the day finally came for me to retry making the Chocolate Sack from SO.  We were having Community Group at our house on Tuesday night, and since I knew I was going to make a dessert, I thought it would be a great opportunity to have another go at it.  When I mentioned this plan to John, he laughed all over again at the fact that I try things when we are going to have people over, knowing it may fail.  However, this time was no failure.  And, now, I can tell you how to make your own!

I am calling it the Chocolate Bag O' Fun.  (And, for the record, I didn't take many pictures of this process, so you may have to use your imagination a bit and read the details, but I promise - it is not very hard or even very time-consuming.  You can do it. (I am noting here that I have been saying this a lot to my little two-year-old friend, because she has started saying, "I can't!" to anything she doesn't want to do, so we are very much working on our "can-do" attitude.))


Here's what you need to recreate the Chocolate Bag O' Fun


Baker's Chocolate
A paper sack
Vanilla Ice Cream
Marshmallow Fluff
Raspberry Sauce (I used a seedless raspberry preserve that I heated up a bit)
Sliced Almonds
Graham Crackers
Whipped Cream
    for extra fun, you can put a chocolate covered strawberry on top, which I forgot to do

      So, I tried to make this back in February (which you can read about here), and one night, as I was getting into bed rather late, I got a Facebook message on my phone about the failed Chocolate Sack.  My friend ended the message with this idea, and I quote, "painting the inside of the paper bag, then after freezing it you just tear the paper off so the chocolate is in tact.  This was so important I needed to share it at midnight. :)" Thanks, Kristin!  (Her blog is called Kristin Eats, so I knew I could trust her.)  And it worked!

      I cut the paper sack in half so that it was only about 5 inches tall.  Then, I melted my Baker squares and painted the inside of the bags.  I froze it, and then I painted another layer of chocolate over the first.


Then, I put it back into the freezer.  


After it had hardened up, I tore the paper bag off of it, and it came off quite easily.  


Then, I put them back into the freezer until it was time to eat them.  When it was time to serve them, everyone was here, so I did not thoroughly document this part of the process.  However, it is pretty simple.  Basically, just fill it with all kinds of fun yumminess.  I copied what they do at SO, so mine had, in this order, ice cream, graham crackers crumbled up, slivered almonds, marshmallow fluff, raspberry sauce and whipped cream.  It was delicious - at least, that is what my kind friends and husband all said.  You could put all kinds of other stuff in it that would pair well with chocolate (I think anything pairs well with chocolate - I even dip chips in it sometimes. . .)  

In other news, here's Lily: a Girl and her Toys.  Last night, John and I were watching a recorded episode of Storage Wars, which we have been a little addicted to this week.  I actually commented to John, "I bet this is one of those moments when Lily is busy and we are not even realizing it."  When I walked out onto our porch, this is what I found. 

Picnik collage