Monday, December 29, 2008

Year End Book Review

I've kept track of how many books I've read each year for the last 4 years now. I went from 43 in 2005 to 57 in 2006 to 67 in 2007 to this past year's whopping 29. I don't know if adding a person to our family had something to do with it or maybe that it took me about 5 months to read one of the books. I thought I'd compile a list of the top ten of the year, so I went down my list and marked ones that stood out to me with the intention of going back and narrowing down my big top ten. I shouldn't be surprised to find that I had only marked 9 because throughout the year I kept having a sense that I just couldn't find a good book. So here are my top 9 reads of 2008.

  • The Breastfeeding Cafe by Barbara L. Behrmann~ The old saying goes that sex, religion, and politics are subjects that are off limits. Breastfeeding should be added to that list. With my very first newborn whenever asked if I was nursing or bottlefeeding I felt like asking, "Who wants to know?" It seemed there were few who didn't fall into one of two groups: the lactivists and the bottle feeders who have all been scorned by the lactivists. In all the hub bub surrounding how I fed my baby, this book was an encouragement filled with stories of many moms in their nursing ups and downs. Of course there is a strong lactivist bent (I believe there was a reference to formula as "crap in a can"), but it served as additional humor to me along with the anecdotal struggles in the moms' stories.
  • What is a Family? by Edith Schaeffer~ Edith Schaeffer is a personal favorite of mine so I eat up anything she writes. The title is pretty self explanatory. This is a good companion book to another one of hers, The Hidden Art of Homemaking.
  • A Light Affliction by Maureen Hay Read~I don't miss a day of writing in my journal, so the format of this book resonates well with me (it's mostly her journal entries). I also found it very interesting because the author was my high school English teacher. She journals through a time of sickness when I was her student. I remember her taking a long leave of absence and knew she was very sick, but had no idea the horrors she was going through. The rest of the book, covering a span of about 10 years, is encouraging and challenging as she faces the trials and struggles of everyday life.
  • Mistaken Identity by Newell Cerak, Whitney Cerak, Susie Van Ryn, Colleen Cerak, and Don Van Ryn~ It's one of those books where you feel like you're invading someone's privacy, a People magazine cover story, but they wrote the book and it's an amazing story. God sure does work in mysterious ways.
  • The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems by Tracy Hogg~ No, not everything did come naturally as a new mother. I had my intincts about some things and stuck to them and I had situations where I wasn't exactly sure what to do. This book helped give some direction and steady ground on those issues I was a little unsure of.
  • To Own a Dragon by Donald Miller~ It's about growing up without a dad. I grew up with a dad, but just wanted to read it because Donald Miller wrote it. As expected he didn't disappoint. You'll just enjoy chewing on his thoughts.
  • Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp~ This is one I want to own and keep as a reference for all time. Probably one to read once a year. I mean, sheperding your child's heart; what a responsibility and privilege! Wow, I have a high calling.
  • To Train Up a Child by Michael Pearl~ A good companion book to Tripp's above. This one is more about training your children in the first year(s); training vs. discipline which is covered more in Shepherding a Child's Heart.
  • Hundred Dollar Holiday by Bill McKibben~Highly recommended to anyone who is sick and tired of the rat race of the holiday season and is seeking something simpler. Our family is celebrating the 12 days of Christmas this year as a result of this quick little read because it's not all about the big day of presents. Don't worry, it's point is not to abolish gifts altogether, but to get you to think about the kind of traditions you want in your family for this time of year.
So there you have it; the 9 books I read this year that I truly enjoyed. What was your favorite read of 2008?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Egg Nog Tea Cookies

If you love egg nog and all 440 calories per cup, you'll love these cookies.

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Precious China

For the first time today, I shall post a video. I recently had to rearrange some things in my kitchen because of the antics of my son. We decided to capture his mischief and let him go at it since the plan to revamp was in place. We don't have a formal dining room in our house, so no hutch to put my china in. I rarely use it, but love it none the less, and had it stored in the corner cupboards; out of the way I thought. Enjoy.
video

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Stocking Stuffers


This year my hubby and I decided to make origami coupons for each other's stocking stuffers. It's something we could make together yet not know what the other is writing. If you're not familiar with giving coupons as gifts, you write on a piece of paper something like "Free back rub" or "I'll do the dishes for a day", etc. The recipient then turns in the coupon when he/she wants it redeemed. We decided on origami because it fills up the stocking more than a coupon book. There's nothing like a full stocking and spending $0 to get it that way.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A New After Picture

As you can see from this previous "after" picture, there's something missing to the left of the refrigerator; shelves! Well, no shelves no more! My hubby's handy juices were flowing and he put up the shelves that I've been longing for.

Zane seems to like the addition as well.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Calling All Bread Makers

If you live near me and would like an Amish friendship bread starter, I'll be ready to divide and distribute on Tuesday. If you're really interested and miss this time around I will always keep a portion for myself, so maybe you can catch me on the next round. Or the next.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Dear Santa

As some of you may know, every year around Christmas time Oprah Winfrey hosts a special episode of her show where she gives away her favorite things to every member of the studio audience; Oprah's favorite things. If I were to do such a thing for my readers this is what I would give to you all. Two differences between Oprah's favorite things and Bethany's favorite things: 1. Oprah actually gives things away, I would just really like to give them away. 2. Oprah gives away things that she personally owns and loves, whereas the one qualifier for this list of things I'd love to give you all is that they're all things I want! So enjoy perusing this list of prizes you would get if I were rich and if you're looking for gift ideas for a certain thirtysomething, crafty girl....

Monday, December 1, 2008

Crock Pot Macaroni

Here's a recipe for the easiest, best tasting macaroni and cheese ever! Well, that could be disputed but I sure like it.

3 Tbs. butter, chunked
2 cups uncooked macaroni
2 cups shredded sharp cheese
24 oz. small curd cottage cheese
2 cups boiling water

Place butter chunks in bottom of crockpot. Add next 3 ingredients and pour boiling water over all. Do Not stir. Cover. Cook for approx. 2 hrs. Stir just before ready to serve. Can be baked in 350 degree oven for 1 hr. (I sprinkle macaroni with salt). Enjoy!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Christmas Is Coming

Christmas is coming and I'm getting ready! This year I'm making everyone's gifts and to make it simple I'm making the same thing for everyone, personalizing each gift. I can't share with you now what I'm making because some of you will be the recipients of these gifts! So for now, just take a look at my desk as I'm in the midst and know that this elf is a busy beaver.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

If You Like Color...

I found these great instructions for crocheting a blanket full of hexagons. I suppose if that much color is too shocking for you, you could use the same 4 colors for each hexagon. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Autumn

Fall is my favorite season! I could go on and on about why I think it's the best, but today I have a list from a friend of some of her favorite things about fall. Thanks, Emily!

  • making caramel apples
  • pecan pies from the neighbors
  • the Iron Kettle pumpkin farm with the kids
  • corn mazes
  • leaf piles with little boys
  • my gingerbread scented candle
  • and of course apple picking!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Birthdays are still my favorite, though 31 is not quite as exciting as 30. My hubby did great this year, he watched Zane so I could work on the yard uninterrupted (that's what I wanted) while he installed these under cabinet lights above the stove.
Before
AfterWe ordered in Chinese, also what I wanted, and he bought me these snazzy slippers.
And best of all he watched Zane while I took a 3 day road trip to Pittsburgh to visit my longest friend and her new baby.




Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Freezer Jam


I love feeling like I'm domestic and there's nothing more fun than being domestic with a friend. Today, I went to my friend, Anca's house, and we made grape freezer jam. It 's so easy. A single batch can be made in ten minutes. Just follow the recipe that comes in a box of this and you've got it!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mask Night


If you have a good health food store near you, you might find this amazing facial mask that actually makes your face pulsate. It's a powder that you can mix with either water or apple cider vinegar. It's definitely one of my favorite masks.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Nursery and the Office/Guest Room

Here it is, folks, the final before and after pics of the house.

The nursery with orange shag carpet with pink flecks. I actually loved it and planned on making area rugs out of it, but it was just too old and nasty.

If you look closely you can see the shape of every frame the previous owner hung on these walls.

After. A great surprise to find gorgeous hardwood floors under the shag.

If you ever come to visit us, this is where you'll stay!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Master Bedroom

Before. Oh darn it, I cut off the cat border.

After.

This dresser was given to my grandmother when she got married.

Her initials and the year she got married are on the front.

Zane in the womb, rocks from the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada, and a doily my Great Aunt Lydi made.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Living Room

Before. No, the fireplace is not real, but the heart border is.

After.






Monday, October 20, 2008

In Defense of Art

In the beginning of October our church hosted an art show and Saturday night they hosted a "coffee house" with live music and the art from the art show was displayed for all to enjoy. On Sunday an art pastor from Austin, Texas, spoke during the service and if you are at all passionate about any form of art I highly recommend listening to it. Even if you just "merely" enjoy art, which you have to admit if you're breathing you probably do, I recommend listening to it. It encouraged me and reminded me that God is not only interested in that which is practical, useful, and purposeful, but that He enjoys and wants me to enjoy those things that have no function other than to bring joy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

Blankets

Tis the season for curling up in a nice cozy blanket, especially if you have a frugal, energy saving husband. My favorite kind are of the homemade variety especially blankets made by someone special. Here are my favorite.


My mom had me pick out all the fabric for this one. It took her 2 years to get to it, but then she completed it from start to finish in one week (the week before Christmas). Go Mom.

This is one my mom knitted when she was a teenager. She thinks it's the only thing she's ever knitted. Pretty impressive.

This one Jake's grandmother (Nana) made for Zane as shown below.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Toys

Today, I'll just leave you with a link to a list of some great staple toys for the kiddos.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Seventies

Oh the inspiration of the seventies. Here are some more house pictures I promised, but you'll have to come back for the after pictures. While you wait in anticipation, think about what you would do with such a kitchen as this and post a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts. The after pictures are coming I assure you.




Friday, October 10, 2008

A Carrot Addiction?

Generally, when I crave something it's along the lines of say chocolate, pastry, a big cheeseburger... but lately I've been craving and eating carrot casserole like it's nobody's business. Here's the recipe and a picture of the dish after day 3 of eating the leftovers.

Carrot Casserole

4 cups carrots sliced (a 2 lb. bag is 4,3/4 cup)
1 cup mayo
3 Tbs horseradish (my hubby prefers mustard here)
melted butter
ritz or saltine crackers

Cook carrots, mix with mayo and horseradish, put in greased casserole dish and top with crackers mixed with melted butter. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Yum.


This was originally introduced to me as part of a meal delivered to me after I had Zane. Thanks, Mary, it's a keeper.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Evidence

I'm a pretty neat person. There's a place for everything and everything is in its place in my house. At least for the most part, but I would not give up for anything the little signs that there is someone in the house who can't even say the word, "neat".






Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Work In Progress

A few of my friends that don't live near me have been wondering what my house looks like, how I decorate, what styles I like, etc. All the before and after pictures would be too much for one post so I'll give a little taste here and there of what my humble abode is like. Plus, I don't have all the "after" pictures taken at the moment. So I'll start with the curb side view to which there will not be an after picture for who knows how long because.... well, that would be a whole other post entitled Excuses.



We have cut off a lot of the lower branches on the two pine trees in front so you can actually see the house now. There's a big back yard and a lot of work to do so maybe I'll still be doing this blog when I have an after picture and you can see it.

Now here is an actual before...



And after of the bathroom. It's tiny so this is the best way I could get a view of most of the room.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sour Cream Spice Cake


Yum. I made this yesterday and am enjoying the fruits of my labor right now. It's a Betty Crocker recipe but I'll share it the way I did it. I omitted some non-essentials. Also, I halfed the recipe and baked it in a loaf pan because I only had a half cup of sour cream. Enjoy.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1,1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1,1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs

1. Heat oven to 350. Grease 13x9x2 pan with shortening.
2. Beat all ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan.
3. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's a Hard Knock Life



I use this title for my post because I've been listening to this lately. And when your hubby has had a long hard day on his feet, the items pictured above can make it not such a hard knock day. A wash cloth, towel, some liquid soap, foot creme, a candle, a bucket (not pictured) and a willing spirit (also not pictured) is all it takes to get out all the tension in his feet. Plus, chances are if he's been working hard on his feet all day, you'll enjoy the smell a lot better if you do this for him. See, everybody wins!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Librarian Perks

As I was talking to my brother-in-law about the perks of working at a clothing store, he kind of laughed at my feeble attempts at saying that free books and getting paid slightly above minimum wage to be surrounded by books, books, and more books could actually be justified as perks. Mainly because it's only a slight step up from what anybody using the library can take advantage of. Well, to add to my list of perks, I do not get charged with late fees, I can check out more than the 20 items allowed to "regular" patrons, and I can order more than 4 books at a time from other libraries in our system. What a life!


As it stands I have 47 items checked out which includes exercise dvds, a few episodes of the second season of The Office, board books for Zane, books on fig trees that my husband is studying, Anna Karenina, and these four beauties-








Also, I can suggest books for purchase and I'm in love with the Discover America State by State series from this publisher. Check it out.