Thursday, December 29, 2011

The 21 Rules of This House

This is a follow-up to last night's post. Renee Luker told me about this yesterday and I had to Google it and print it out to hang on my fridge when I get home tonight. LOVE IT.

The 21 Rules Of This House

By Gregg Harris

1. We obey God.
2. We love, honor and pray for one another.
3. We tell the truth.
4. We consider one another's interests ahead of our own.
5. We speak quietly and respectfully with one another.
6. We do not hurt one another with unkind words or deeds.
7. When someone needs correction, we correct him in love.
8. When someone is sorry, we forgive him.
9. When someone is sad, we comfort him.
10. When someone is happy, we rejoice with him.
11. When we have something nice to share, we share it.
12. When we have work to do, we do it without complaining.
13. We take good care of everything that God has given us.
14. We do not create unnecessary work for others.
15. When we open something, we close it.
16. When we take something out, we put it away.
17. When we turn something on, we turn it off.
18. When we make a mess, we clean it up.
19. When we do not know what to do, we ask.
20. When we go out, we act just as if we were in this house.
21. When we disobey or forget any of the 21 Rules of This House, we accept
the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Honor Thy Father and Mother

To say that I've been struggling with Curt's sassy mouth lately would be an understatement.

Pretty much as soon as he could talk, he'd contradict whatever it was I said, or have a response to even those things that shouldn't be answered. But today came the straw that broke this camel's back.

And. Things. Have. To. Change.

Not just because of the constant back talk and sassing, but because I end up giving him way too much attention. Negative attention. This has to change on both of our parts.

So this morning at work, I polled the girls (and the one guy) about this problem. They're all parents, and, in fact, I have the youngest of the collective children. They gave great advice and were supportive, but something RL said really struck home.

"Tell him," she said, "That these aren't your rules, they're GOD'S RULES."

And it clicked. Hello, Ten Commandments. Moses. Mt. Sinai, etc...

Tonight, when we got home, I sat down on the floor in the cozy room, called the boys in, opened our children's Bible and read to them from Exodus.

"Honor thy father and mother..."

God's rule. Not mine. 

Pretty hard to argue with, even for Curt.

"And when you talk back, or sass, or yell or scream at me, you're not just dishonoring me, you're dishonoring GOD."

Their eyes grew to the size of saucers.

So far tonight, no back talk.

No sass.

No screaming.

We'll see...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Adventures in Cooking - Cookie Craziness

I went a little overboard this CHRISTmas with the confections.

We made a HUGE batch of toffee to give as gifts and the boys and I baked five, yes, FIVE, different types of cookies.

We made Hershey Kiss cookies, Luke's favorite. We baked Brownie Toffee Cookies, a new recipe this year. We made the traditional Cream Cheese Cutouts that we decorated, Candy Bar Cookies and my all-time favorite, Ginger Cookies.

We gave all the Brownie Toffee Cookies away, much to my chagrin.

We I made a HUGE mess.

I We had a magnificent time!

Recipe: Toffee Brownie Cookies



  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate (chopped or chips)
  • 4 Tb unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tb. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 oz. bag toffee bits


  1. In a double boiler (or in the microwave) gently melt the chocolate and butter. Stir until all the chocolate melts.
  2. In an electric mixer, beat together the sugar and eggs until combined. Add the instant coffee and vanilla and beat again.
  3. Add the hot melted chocolate, baking powder and salt. Then slowly add the flour.
  4. Finally stir in the toffee chips, reserving 1/4 cup for the tops.
  5. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Drop the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets in 1 Tb. scoops. Leave 2 inches between the dough balls.
  7. Bake for 11-12 minutes. Once out of the oven, immediately sprinkle the tops with extra toffee chips. Cool on the baking sheets.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 12 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 30 cookies

Cream Cheese Cutouts

1 cup butter
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2-1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Almond Frosting (recipe follows)
In a large mixer bowl combine butter and cream cheese. Beat until well combined. Add sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat well.In a medium bowl stir together flour and baking powder. Add flour mixture to cream cheese mixture; beat until well mixed.
Divide dough in half. Cover and chill in the refrigerator about 1-1/2 hours or until dough is easy to handle.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with desired cookie cutters. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake in a 375°F oven for 8-10 minutes or until done. Remove to wire racks; cool.

Pipe or spread Almond Frosting onto cooled cookies. (I don't make almond frosting; we just decorate them with sprinkles and such before baking).
Almond Frosting:
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons softened butter
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
4-5 tsp. milk
food coloring (optional)
colored sugar and nuts (optional)

In a small mixer bowl beat 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons softened butter, and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract until smooth. Beat in enough milk (4 to 5 teaspoons) until of piping consistency. For spreadable icing, add a little more milk. Stir in a few drops of food coloring, if desired. Garnish with more colored sugar or nuts, if desired.Makes about 90 cookies.

Hershey Kiss Cookies

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
Hersheys Kisses, 1 for each cookie

Pre-Heat oven to 375°F.
Cream together butter, both sugars and peanut butter. Add 1 egg and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda and salt.
Form in walnut size balls. Roll in white sugar and place them on a cookie sheet.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Press Hershey Kiss into each cookie when fresh out of the oven.
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

Candy Bar Cookies



  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 Tb. cream cheese
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped chocolate candy bars, any variety
  • Powdered sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, egg yolk, and sugar until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.
  3. Sift the flour and salt together. Turn the mixer on low, then slowly add the flour to the butter mixture.
  4. Roll the dough into 1/2 oz. (1 Tb.) balls and place the the cookie sheets.
  5. Press 4-6 candy chunks into the top of each dough ball. Press to flatten.
  6. Bake 9-11 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets.
  7. Once cool, dust the cookies with powdered sugar.
Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 10 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 30 cookies

Monday, December 26, 2011

Rub A Dub Dub, Thanks for the Grub

Grandpop with my brother Jim, SIL Lesley, Jameson, Rylan and Peanut, I mean, Greycen

Raymond Stanley Timm
November 1918 (exact date of birth unknown) to December 23, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

These Are A Few of my Favorite {CHRISTmas} Things

There are so many things to love during the CHRISTmas season. Here's a few of MY favorite things.

My small tree with photo ornaments of the boys from every year:

My house, all decorated for the holidays.

Saxon ("That silly Elf!") who is visiting from the North Pole.

Letters from Santa:

The manger my dad made and the nativity set that the boys can play with.

Tyler's Holiday in the Park event. Can we say, "Snow slide?"

Visits from Santa at the TB Butler Publishing Company Christmas dinner.

Making cookies with my boys.

Having cookies in the house!

Certain Christmas ornaments:

Ones handmade by the boys

Baby Jesus in a Walnut Shell...this is a recreation of one we had growing up. I don't really know the allure, but we always fought over who got to hang it on the tree.

From my sister, Becky, last year. I don't really know what she meant by it... ;-)

The ornaments my mom gives the boys every year. This one is commemorative of our beach trips.

The year Curt was obsessed with disco balls...

Anyone who knows me need not ask.

Another from my honor of the "treasure hunts" every year at the beach.

Chimes...critical to know if any small children are rummaging around under the tree before the official Christmas morning reveal.

A small thumbprint from a now big boy.

From Luke's Thomas the Train phase.

Merry CHRISTmas to all!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

On This Day in History, December 22, 2008

Three years ago today, we arrived in Tyler. The boys and I, that is; we had to wait to move into our new house in South Tyler until the school semester ended in Southeast Texas.

But on Dec. 22, 2008, the Curt, Luke and I put the last of the boxes in the car along with the blankets we'd slept on the night before, after the moving truck had left, attended the last of the Hardin-Jefferson ISD and Trinity Day School class parties, supervised the carpet cleaner and headed north up 69 to Tyler from Sour Lake.

Curt's class party at Sour Lake Elementary

Luke's class party at  Trinity Day School

Lemme tell you something: Moving three days before Christmas is MISERABLE. The moving truck arrived in Tyler Dec. 23. I'd had the presence of mind to festoon all the boxes of CHRISTmas gifts with red and white striped packing tape, so those were quickly identified and squirreled away.

Lemme tell you something else: There's nothing like a major holiday to get me to unpack boxes post haste.

But I actually ended up with time to put together a CHRISTmas card that year. It was a CHRISTmas card/We've moved announcement. I printed our  new address atop this picture:

Still one of my favorites.

Bottom line, it was a hectic Christmas 2008, but without a doubt, Tyler is my FAVORITE PLACE I've lived in my 15 years in Texas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Three Pieces of Tape

When I was old enough to know...well, you know...I started to help my mom wrap the Christmas gifts.

We'd set up shop in my brothers' bedroom, a cozy space with sloped ceilings and dormer windows, easily accessible to the attic nooks and crannies where gifts were hidden until Christmas Eve.

With five kids, there was a lot to wrap and the time spent in the attic bedroom quickly became one of my favorite times of the year with my mother.

One of the first things she taught me was that a present -- any present -- can be wrapped with three pieces of tape.

Her mother, my Granny, taught her this as well. As a child in the Great Depression, my Granny was well-schooled in all things frugal. Family legend has it that she even used to write my dad, a notorious jokester, letters on recycled bits of paper towels and other tissues. Were they used? Legend neither confirms nor denies.

Either way, we used three pieces, and only three pieces, of tape to wrap gifts: a piece at the place where the two sides of the paper meet around the gift and a piece each on either end.

I think about the three pieces of tape, and the countless memories I shared with my mom. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I wrap a gift. Merry Christmas, Mom. I wish I was there to wrap presents with you.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thankful Thursday

It seems the past week or two has been a comedy of errors, except that it hasn't been so funny. So today is a great opportunity to stop and reflect on all the wonderful blessings in my life.

1. Although my new hours at work  have been really hard to adjust to, it means I have time in the morning to cook the boys a hot breakfast. They're on a Belgian waffle kick like nobody's business.

Or, like yesterday morning, we have time to run to one of our  favorite places.

2. The Tuesday night basketball schedule is utter chaos. HOWEVER, I get one-on-one time with Curt, making adventure videos in the nooks and crannies of the Family Life Center at church, while Luke is at practice. Then I get one-on-one time with Luke during Curt's practice. We throw the football back and forth in the family life center of another church (my spiral has gotten pretty good, if I do say so myself). And last night he decimated me in a mean game of foosball.

3. Diet Coke. Always.

4. I'm thankful our long-standing tradition of Friday night pizza and movie still stands. Last week we had a picnic on the living room floor.

5. And I'm thankful for Saxon, the elf who keeps hanging around this Christmas season. Saxon brings the boys so much joy. They can't wait to come home at night and wake up in the morning and find out what mischief Saxon has been up to.

6. I'm thankful for cheese. Large, luscious blocks of perfectly aged Parmesan, in particular.

7. My big crazy dogs make me happy. I can't help it. Even when they tear up the back yard.

8. I'm thankful for grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.

9. I'm thankful my children still believe in Santa, but mostly that they know what Christmas is REALLY all about.

10. I'm thankful for the women of my Wednesday night Bible ended last night and I'm sad. But thankful that I know I've met a group of women with whom I'll have a lifelong connection.
11. And last, but not at all least, I'm thankful for dear friends. There aren't enough words, so I'll just leave it at at that (hey, you'd think I write for a living or something!)

God Bless You During This CHRISTmas season.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The 3 G's Of a Traditional Holiday Craft

G is for GINGERBREAD house.

Some sources say that the spice ginger was introduced in Europe in the 11th-century by Middle Eastern traders and quickly incorporated into cooking, especially baking in Germany.

We've made gingerbread houses for years now...some years the boys get more into decorating the house than others. But they always look forward to doing it (cherishing the time they still want to decorate a gingerbread house with their mama!).

G is also for GUMDROPS.

When you buy the gingerbread house kits, they come with scores of hardened, disgusting, petrified candies. 

The boys like the GUMDROPS the best.

And speaking of scores of hardened, disgusting, petrified candies, who REALLY eats a gingerbread house anyway?

Not us. Those things have a shelf-life of at least 3,000 years. I know this because, while I was cleaning and rearranging things recently, I found our gingerbread house from last year.


Why on EARTH was it in a kitchen cabinet?

But here it is:

Just slightly worse for the wear from residing in a cabinet since last Christmas. (GROSS!!!!)

My point being, you never eat a gingerbread house.

So why spend HOURS painstakingly putting  your house together, piece by piece, slab of icing by slab of icing? And then HOLDING it up until the icing cemented the pieces of the house together and the gingerbread was stable enough to decorate?

No way. There are not enough hours in the Christmas season for all of that nonsense.

So when my sister in law, Lesley, told me HER secret to speedy gingerbread house preparation, I was ALL OVER IT.

Which brings me to my third G.


Hot glue, to be exact.

The fastest, strongest, most brilliant way to assemble a gingerbread house. EVER.

Since you're not going to eat it anyway, WHY NOT?

Once you decorate it, the glue will not show at all.

And your finished product will survive another year.