Teish Knits

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The Icing on the (Cup)Cake

There’s certainly nothing wrong with picking up a cake at the bakery or grocery store. The year after Mom died, I just couldn’t bring myself to bake birthday cakes because I’d made one for her just a few days earlier. The kids all got grocery store cakes that year, and it was OK! Whether you want to save a bit of money, or you just like the taste of home-baked cakes better, you don’t have to be a professional baker to turn out something cute!

I actually do enjoy cake decorating. I’ve never done anything with fondant or sculpted flowers, but I do love my shaped cake pans, decorating tips, and icing bags! Even so, I don’t always have the time or energy to make an extra-special cake. What’s my fast and cute solution then? Cupcakes!

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Kids love cupcakes. They also take less baking time and significantly less decorating time than a full-blown cake. Just three easy steps and you’re done!

  1. Bake the cupcakes.

    Grab your favorite recipe or boxed cake mix. Bake them up using paper or foil cupcake liners. Not only do the liners make clean-up that much easier, they also add to the cuteness factor.

  2. Everyone’s favorite part… frosting!

    A couple of cans of icing will work fine. If you’ve never tried making your own frosting, I highly recommend you give it a try! (Here’s a great recipe for Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.) Also, consider buying the extra-large decorating tips for cupcakes. I found a set of three at Walmart for just a few dollars. It’s so much faster than icing them with a knife! Not to mention how awesome cupcakes look with big swirls of icing on them. It does tend to use up more frosting, so you may need a double batch to cover 24 cupcakes.IMG_1520[1]

  3. Top it all off.

    There are a couple of quick and easy decorating options. You can just grab some sprinkles, colored sugar, or candy and go with that. Or, you can use some cupcake picks that go with the party theme. I usually print off my own cupcake toppers, rather than buying them. Just do a search for free printable cupcake toppers and you’ll find plenty of options. I got mine at HaleGrafx. A number of sites suggest using a 2 ½ inch round paper punch to punch out the toppers. I thought $15 was a bit much to shell out for a paper punch, so my solution was to trace around a half-used roll of electrical tape and cut them out with scissors. Then just use a little tape to attach a toothpick to the back of the paper. I had my minions children help me with this part. IMG_1476[1] IMG_1521[1]Grab a number candle for the birthday child’s cupcake and you’re done!

Fun parties don’t have to be expensive or time consuming. Simple doesn’t have to mean not cute either! Figure out how much you want to do, and then let the rest go. Focus on spending some time having fun with the kids, and you’ll all have a wonderful day.

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What are your best cake or cupcake tips and tricks?

Little Guy is 3!

Dear Little Guy,

Three years ago we still had snow on the ground. I walked up and down the stairs over and over during labor. Things didn’t go quite as expected, and we went to the hospital. Thankfully, you were born just fine shortly after we arrived.

In just three short years you have grown so much! You run everywhere and climb on everything. I’d almost say that you were fearless, but occasionally you still need Mommy to hold you when something scares you. You try so hard to keep up with your older brothers, and don’t quite understand why you can’t do everything they do.

Your favorite word seems to be “no”, like most toddlers. Your laughter is infectious though! You don’t just giggle, you laugh out loud like Grammy Kathy did.

Graham crackers are your snack of choice, though any type of cracker will do. You have a tendency to stash sippy cups of water all over the place. I can never find them, but you always seem to know where they are.

You’re stubborn, but you get that from your parents. Someday, it will help you stick with something even when it’s hard.

You are absolutely in love with your siblings. They love you just as much! It warms my heart to see how much you love your other relatives too. You’ve been known to shriek someone’s name out of excitement when you see them. You enjoy frequent video chats with Auntie. You’re a little extrovert!

The days when you spent most of the time in my arms are long gone, but you still curl up on my lap with a blanket sometimes. Just last night you grabbed a book and climbed up on the couch with me while the older kids were playing. I’m glad you haven’t completely outgrown that yet!

My Little Guy… the time is speeding by. I’m afraid if I blink you’ll be all grown up. But no matter how big you get, you’ll always be my Little Guy!

Happy Birthday! (Don’t grow up too fast.)

Love,

Mom

Redeemed

“Why am I writing a post on faith and family when I’m a wreck myself?”

I slumped in my office chair and muttered that for the hundredth time. Try as I might, I couldn’t come up with anything particularly profound to say about Resurrection Day. I was debating whether that made me a terrible Christian, when I decided that maybe it just meant that I’m the kind of person who really needs Resurrection Day…

You can read the rest of my post over at the HEDUA blog!

Luke 19:10

Daybook for April 7th

 
 

Outside my window… there is still a lot of snow, but my driveway is partially muddy and I think this sunshine will melt some more snow!

I am thinking… my teen years. I’ll be doing some writing about being a homeschooled high school student this week.

I am thankful for… the fact that I am not longer a teenager. Seriously, being an adult has its own challenges, but I much prefer it.

From the learning rooms… this is our week off, and I think we can all use it! The weather has been making the kids stir-crazy. A week of fun projects and downtime will be refreshing.

From the kitchen… it was nearly noon before I was able to have my first cup of tea… this explains the eye twitch.

I am wearing… jeans and a black shirt.

I am creating… a knitted lightsaber for Little Guy’s birthday this week. And I just have to share that Munchkin sewed her first quilt this weekend!

I am going… to be waiting anxiously for my blog planner to arrive this week! I got the shipping confirmation today. I absolutely love my Well Planned Day and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in the blog planner!

I am reading… The Queen’s Handmaiden. At least, I’m going to be starting it. I finished up a couple of book reviews this week, so now it’s onto the next.

I am hoping… that it will feel a bit more like spring by the end of the month.

I am hearing… Rocketman. Probably an odd choice, but it fits in with a scene I’m working on in my head. I’m definitely someone who needs music to write.

Pondering these words… “Not my circus. Not my monkeys.” – Polish Proverb (Can I just say how much I love this quote? I need to remember it the next time I’m about to get pulled into something that I really should walk away from!)

Around the house… we set up a small tent in the living room and the kids went “camping” last night. S’more snack mix and the fireplace video on Netflix contributed to the ambience.

One of my favorite things… is red nail polish, even if it will be chipped by tomorrow.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Birthday party for little guy! There will be cupcakes!

For more daybooks, please visit The Simple Woman’s Daybook.

Birthday Parties for Busy Moms

I admit that I do love Pinterest. I like being able to pin a link to a recipe, school idea, or article that I want to refer to later. I find a lot of great ideas on Pinterest, but searching for party ideas can be rather overwhelming. Some people have put together some seriously gorgeous birthday parties!

Personally, I’m looking for ideas that are a little more quick and easy. (Not to mention budget friendly!) So I’m going to share some of my favorite tips and tricks for cute parties.

Re-think theme partyware.

I’ve gotten the coordinated plates, cups, napkins, etc. for some birthdays. But it can sure add up fast!

First, check the dollar store and other deep discount stores. We have a local surplus and salvage store that I have found some tremendous deals at. I picked up a complete set of princess partyware for less than $5. (While you’re there, pick up some cheap wrapping paper too.)

IMG_1478[1]If you really want a particular character or theme, I have a great tip for you. Pick up a package of stickers in your chosen theme and head for the solid color paper items. You can usually find them in packs of 12 for less than a dollar. Use the stickers to decorate the cups and napkins. You could also pick up a solid table cover and throw a few stickers on it as well.

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Simplify decorations.

When I was a kid, Mom had a foil “Happy Birthday” banner that she used for every birthday. When the party was done she just folded it up and tucked it in the drawer with her cake decorating supplies. I have a plastic banner that I can use indoors or out. At the end of the day, I can roll it up and put it back in the closet.

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Find a banner that you can reuse next year, add in a balloon or two and call it good. Honestly, the kids are probably more interested in the cake than the decorations!

(If you do want a few theme specific decorations, try searching online for free party printables. Hale Grafix offers some cute free printables for kids’ parties. They even have LEGO theme printables!)

What’s your best fast and frugal party tip?

Next week I’m going to do a post about everyone’s favorite part of birthday parties… the cake!

Daybook for March 31st

 
 

Outside my window… is a ton of sleet on top of the snow. Heavy stuff to shovel!

I am thinking… about ideas for blog posts. Anyone have any suggestions or requests?

I am thankful for… all of us being home during the storm yesterday. I’m always thankful when Aaron doesn’t have to be out driving in bad weather.

From the learning rooms… some of our curriculum for this fall should start showing up in the next week or so. My Well Planned Day planner is here, and my blog planner and the kids’ student planners have been ordered.

From the kitchen… I tried out a recipe for peanut butter cookies with nutella swirled through them. The kids have declared them delicious.

I am wearing… black pants, a red sox t-shirt, and blue fleece jacket.

I am creating… a knitted light saber for Little Guy’s birthday. He loves the ones I made for his siblings, so I’m confident that he’ll be happy with one of his own.

I am going… to be drinking multiple cups of tea today.

I am reading… actually, I’ve finished up a couple of books and I’ll be wrapping up the written reviews this week. So I’m deciding what book to pick up next. I have a number of interesting ones in the stack!

I am hoping… that the stuff on the roads melts and dries up quickly.

I am hearing… kiddos playing with Little Guy. Always makes me smile!

Pondering these words… “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” – Dr. Suess

Around the house… projects, cardboard boxes, books, and all sorts of signs that children live here.

One of my favorite things… curly blonde hair and blue eyes! (Because that’s what my Aaron looks like.)

A few plans for the rest of the week: Just a typical week for us. Hopefully with a few days that are nice enough for the kiddos to play outside!

For more daybooks, please visit The Simple Woman’s Daybook.

Daybook for March 24th

Outside my window… it’s sunny, so maybe some of this snow will melt? The kids and I all have a healthy dose of cabin fever at this point.

I am thinking… about writing projects. (Of course!) I’m also trying to nail down my curriculum plan for the next school year. I think I’ve just about got it sorted.

I am thankful for… fuzzy pink owl slippers.

From the learning rooms… Ancient Egypt, air pressure, and decimals are all on the slate for this week. I’ll have the chance to try out a brand new spelling curriculum soon. I’m really excited about that!

From the kitchen… sandwiches for lunch!

I am wearing… jeans and a cream sweater of Aaron’s that he hasn’t had a chance to wear for a few years!

I am creating… a sweater for me. Actually, I’m still working on I watch British TV for the sweaters! from the Rav Games challenge. The idea was to knit the whole sweater during the Olympic Games. That was probably a bit too ambitious a goal.

I am going… to be getting my new Well Planned Day in the mail soon!!! I’ll be ordering student planners for the two oldest kids again this year too. I wasn’t sure whether or not I should try out the blog planner, but after hearing from a few friends I’m pretty sure I’ll order one. The planner sale is going on through the end of March, so you can still snag the planners at a great price. (Note: All planner links are my affiliate links.)

I am reading… The End Came with a Kiss
by John Hileman. Or rather, I just finished reading it. I’ll be honest, I only read it because I’ve read all of John’s other books. I am not a fan of the “zombie” stuff that’s popular today. This book puts a spin on the genre that makes it so much more than just another “zombie book”! If you enjoy a good thriller, then this is a book worth picking up. I’ll definitely be reading the sequel!

I am hoping… that it warms up a bit. The kids love playing in the snow, but we’ve had a lot of days where it’s just too cold to be outside for long.

I am hearing… Jo Blankenburg’s album Elysium. Excellent writing music!

Pondering these words… “You can do anything, but not everything.” – Unknown

Around the house… well, snow is certainly surrounding the house.

One of my favorite things… is hot tea. I’d never survive Maine winters without lots of tea!

A few plans for the rest of the week: Just the usual, studying, writing, laundry, and keeping the cabin fever at bay.

For more daybooks, please visit The Simple Woman’s Daybook.

Balanced Challenge: Refresh

Well! We’re at the end of the Balanced Challenge, and it’s time to reflect and figure out where to go from here.

My favorite quote from today’s chapter of Balanced is this:

“A quest for balance leads to frustration and exhaustion. I never have a day when I achieve the perfect balance of work, family, God, and friends. It’s impossible. There are always interruptions. If we are working with real-life people, we cannot schedule or time as if we were simply sitting at a computer all day.”

How true that is! In the middle of writing this post, I had to leave the computer to clean up a toddler who had gotten into his older sibling’s paint. Things are always going to happen! So what am I going to do from this point on?

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I’m going to just keep at it. I’ll never get it perfect, but I don’t have to. That’s what grace is for, right?

There are three things in particular that I’m taking away from this challenge though.

Just do the next thing.

When life is crazy and I’ve got way too much to do, I’ll get more accomplished if I focus on doing the next thing. And if I use all of those extra minutes here and there, I’ll get a lot of the “next things” accomplished!

Love God and show His love to others.

Coming up with this mantra is going to help a lot. As much as I love lists, I don’t always have time to read my lists! This is simple and easy to remember. If I keep in mind that this is what I most want my life to be about, then my attitude and priorities can’t help but be affected in a positive way.

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The God of hope is writing my story.

Writing down my list of eight life themes and realizing just how much of my life has been about learning to hope in God was exactly what I needed to hear at this point. Seeing that list, and seeing what God has already done… it took my breath away. I wish I could say something incredibly profound about it, but this is one time that I can’t find the words.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Balanced challenge as much as I have! Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite post from the challenge was!

Balanced Challenge: Eight

Today’s chapter of Balanced led to some pretty deep soul searching. Tricia shared her own list of eight life themes, and challenged us to write our own.

“When you discover your life themes, you aren’t limiting yourself. Instead you’re understanding who God made you to be – and the purpose He designed for you.”

Looking back at my life and considering all the highs and lows wasn’t an easy thing to do. I struggled tremendously to come up with eight themes that I saw recurring throughout my life. I’m not completely sure who I am to begin with. How could I possibly sum up my life in eight themes? But once I got started, I was surprised by what I saw.

  1. God comforts us in grief

    I’ve been facing the heartache of losing people I loved for as long as I can remember. It always hurts. It still hurts. The thing about that hurt, is that it keeps me running back to God for comfort. And He always does.

  2. Broken people can have beautiful relationships

    There was a time when I avoided letting anyone get too close to me. I was scared, and so very broken. God has been at work on my heart for a lot of years, and He has put people in my life who love me anyway. It doesn’t matter how broken we are, God can still help us to have beautiful relationships.

  3. Letting go of one dream, because God has something better

    I was quite sure that I was headed for a career in aviation. Most likely as a missionary pilot. It was my dream, my passion. And then in a plot twist that surprised even me, I married Aaron instead. Today, I don’t fly small airplanes to remote jungle airstrips. I spend my days raising a family with Aaron (and writing too). I have never once regretted it. I had big dreams, but God had better ones!

  4. You can never be good enough… that’s where grace comes in

    I’ve always felt like I had to measure up, to be “good enough”. I never will be. And that’s the truly amazing thing about grace. Grace covers all of my “not good enough”. Grace makes it possible for me to stand before a holy God.

  5. No matter how bad it seems, there is always hope

    Depression can make everything appear pretty bleak. Anxiety can convince you that things are only going to get worse. When things seem particularly bad, I go outside and look at the stars. Because the stars are still there, exactly where they should be. God is still there. He’s still in control of the entire universe that He created. He’s not surprised by anything going on in my life. If He can keep track of all those stars, then He’s got this handled too.

  6. Past hurts and failures shape you, but they do not define you

    There are hard things in my past that certainly played a part in making me who I am today, but the bad things do not define me. Understanding that is what allows me to learn from them, and then let go of them.

  7. Some risks are worth taking

    Stepping out and taking a chance is never easy for me. Many times I do end up falling flat on my face. But there are other times… So many amazing things in my life would never have happened if I hadn’t taken that leap of faith.

  8. God chooses messy people too

    If I had to pick just one theme for my life, this would be it. Honestly, I’m a complete mess. The thing that blows my mind, is that God can take my mess and turn it into something amazing. Jesus didn’t defeat sin and death to save perfect people. He did it to save the messed-up people. “When Jesus heard this, He told them, ’Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do need one. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” – Mark 2:17 HCSB

When I thought about it, I realized that these are themes that pop up frequently in my writing. What astounded me though was this: There is so much hope in this list. Looking back over my life, God’s written hope all over the story. Right now, I needed to be reminded of that. Reminded that He is the “God of hope”. (Romans 15:13)

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

This turned into a much more personal challenge than I’d anticipated, but it turned out to be exactly what I needed.

This post is part of the Balanced challenge with Tricia Goyer—and you can join, too!