Friday, December 28, 2012

Books Books Books 2012

This is one of my favorite posts to do all year.  I posted my 2011 Books here.  In 2012, I started out keeping really good track of all my books, but I know (looking back) that I missed some.  But, I think you'll get the idea.  I also organized them by category this year.  Here goes...

Book Club Books:
A Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (Love!)
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud by Ben Sherwood
He Came to Set the Captives Free by Rebecca Brown MD
The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (Loved!)
Passion for the Impossible by Miriam Huffman Rockness
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand (Excellent)
The Fault in our Stars by John Green
The Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers (So good!)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (my favorite book of the year!)

Other Books:
An Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
(Couldn't get past book 2 in the Twilight series...some of the worst books I have ever spent the time reading.  I know people are huge fans...eeew.  Could not stand these books.  It breaks my heart that such young girls are reading this trash.  For a 5th grade girl to learn about relationships from these books is horrific.  Sorry.  Every once in a while I have really strong opinions on things...I can hear my Sweetie now, "Every once in a while???")

Great Morning Books:
The Message Bible (new testament)
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Harnard
Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis (Love love love!!!  My girls are reading it now.)
One Thousand Gifts by Anne Voskamp
Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P Freeman

Some Non-Fiction:
Blogging for Bliss by Tara Frey
15 Minute Home and Family Organizer by Emilie Barnes
Emilie's Creative Home Organizer by Emilie Barnes
House Works by Cynthia Townley Ewer
A Life that says Welcome by Karen Ehman
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne
Growing Grateful Kids by Susie Larson
Cleaning House: ...rid her home of youth entitlement by Kay Wyma
Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese
The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond
The Farm Chicks
The Farm Chicks Christmas
The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife
Eco Beauty by Lauren Cox
Food Rules by Michael Pollen (a game changer)
The Omnivores Dilema by Michael Pollen
How to Have Style by Isaac Mizrahi
Rip to Elissa Meyrich

Homeschool Books:
Real Learning...Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss
You can Teach your Child Successfully Grades 4-8 by Ruth Beechick
Lessons at Blackberry Inn by Karen Andreola
Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola
A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola

Books I Read to the Kids:
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (so fun!)
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (so great!)
Heidi by Johanna Spyri (loved!)
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall (a great series)
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (classic!)

Last year I wrote all my books in my notebook, but this year I am going to try the spreadsheet method.  I'm not great at remembering to write all the books that I read with the kids...and I haven't added all the cookbooks and sewing books that I have checked out of the library. 

So many good little time.  My list is already getting long with the books I would like to conquer in 2013.  Les Miserables, The Harry Potter Series (Daisy's request), Lord of the Rings, The Message Bible (old testament...I've already started this)...and lots more.

Any amazing books that you think I should add to my list???
(Historical Fiction is my favorite)

Happy Reading!
Love!  Tiffany

"The room was wonderfully dark and warm.  Rough-hewn beams ran the length of the ceiling.  Antique maps and framed black and white photographs punctuated the walls.  Piles of books were everywhere - crammed into shelves, stacked on the floor or heaped atop rugged old furniture made of wood and leather.  The place felt like a secret hideaway, so safe and cozy that you'd never want to leave".  The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud by Ben Sherwood

Thursday, December 27, 2012


 I have had zero energy the last two days.  On Christmas Day, I thought, "oh, I'm just tired from all the activity...I just need a day to lay around".  But, then on the 26th when I was feeling the same sluggishness...I thought..."I am starting my day with sugar and haven't been eating my fruits and veggies".  So, this morning...I skipped the hot chocolate and the almond coffee cake.  Instead, I made a big ol' Blueberry Pineapple Banana Smoothie (with yogurt and water).  If I had spinach in the house, I would have thrown that in too.  Today I am going to start thinking about the things I am choosing to eat.  Party's over...time to get healthy again!  Fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains will be my friends.

Here are a few random photos to wrap up December...
 A fabulous (10 degree) day sledding with friends at the Elm Creek Sledding Hill.  My favorite sledding hill ever.
 A basement surprise...Sweetie and I decided to put our Basement Finishing Project on hold.  We decided to put the money that we had saved for that project toward paying off our house instead.  But, in the meantime...we wanted a fun space for our kids to hang out with their friends.  So we did this fun little rec room. 
 Complete with roll-out vinyl flooring, ping pong table, couch and TV.  I bought the vintage school chalk board from my neighbor...LOVE it!  We already had the electric piano.
 Should be a fun little space for them to hang out. 
 I'm still trying to finish the Great Grandma (GG) Scrapbooks.  I selected and printed the top 12 photos of 2012 (3 prints of each photo).  Hoping to complete those today and get them mailed out!
Our relaxed and simple Christmas Morning.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to list the books I've read in 2012.  Chat soon!

Love!  Tiffany

"It seems that some people cannot love their own without hating someone else".  Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas...Love, The Millers

 Merry Christmas!!!
 Our Christmas Day is always spent at home...just the 5 of us.  We relax.  We enjoy some new items.  And, this Christmas, Sweetie and I took a nap.  Oh my goodness...I think the last couple of days (weeks?) of shopping, wrapping, cooking, baking, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, entertaining...caught up with me.
 Last night we went to the Christmas Eve (candlelight) Service at our church.  I love that service.  This is only the 3rd year that we have attended it, but now, I can't miss it.  When we came home, we let the kids open one (of their 3) presents, and then went to bed.  This morning...stockings (socks, underwear, chapstick/lip gloss, a book, dvd's, chocolate orange, mints, hair binders/headbands...).  We chose to only do 3 gifts for the kids this year.  It made me be more thoughtful about what each gift was.  It was less of a 'buy buy buy', and more of a 'what 3 things should I get for the kids'?  After already deciding that this would be the way we would go this year, I saw this on Pinterest:
Something they want
Something they need
Something to wear
Something to read
I may do that next year, although, I pretty much did it this year, but the "something to reads" ended up in their stockings.  And, really, there were two "something they wants". 
 My mom makes my brother and I her homemade Coffee Cakes every year.  We got brother usually gets Poppyseed.  I think I would like one of each next year.  Mom?
Delicious.  MJ and I had ours with egg nog.  It was nice to not have to think about "what to make for breakfast" after a busy couple of days.  Thank you mom!

I am planning on 3 more posts before the end of the year.
1.  I'm going to wrap up 2012
2.  I'm going to list all the books I read in 2012
3.  2013 New Years Resolutions

I hope you all have a simply wonderful Christmas!!!

Love!  Tiffany

"After tea, they had some music".  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Friday, December 21, 2012

Got the tree done...

 My tree sat for almost 3 weeks with nothing but lights on it.  I had this idea this year that I wanted to tie little knots of tulle (white, cream, gold) onto the lights.  But, I had zero motivation to do it.  I didn't want to sit and cut little squares of tulle and tie them on the tree.  I don't know why this project felt so overwhelming.  I needed help...I needed my mama.  So, my mom was over this week and I asked her if she could help me with my tree sometime before Christmas...she said, "well, let's just do it now!".  So, I gave her the unruly job of cutting the tulle into little squares (aren't I sweet?).  I would come and gather piles and go over and tie them to the tree.  We were done in no time and had a blast while doing it!
 That night I added the gold balls and the tree was done!  After finishing a project that has been nagging at you for so long, it is amazing how freeing it is to just get it done!  I put the last Christmas storage tub out into the garage.  The house is picked up.  Now, I just need to clean...deep clean.
BTW...I didn't get the scrapbooks done (didn't even pick up all my photos yet!) and I didn't get those bathrooms cleaned.  Today is the day!  It's not like I have been sitting around eating Christmas Bon Bon's...Sweetie and I have been putting some time and energy into a little basement surprise for the kiddies!  I'll probably share that project post-Christmas.

Have a great weekend!!!  We're meeting friends out at Henry's Woods today for some fun in the snow with hot cocoa and cookies.  Then,'s downtown for the Holidazzle. cousin from Ireland is in town and he's coming to spend the kids can't wait!

Love!  Tiffy

"The crisp leaves of holly, mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the light, as if so many little mirrors had been scattered there; and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the chimney, as that dull petrifaction of a hearth had never known in Scrooge's time, or Marley's, or for many and many a winter season gone."  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sewing Wednesday...Hot Little Corn Bags

 I woke up (feeling great) at 3am this morning...I thought, "oh, I'll just sleep a little more".  But, no, I couldn't fall back to sleep and my "list" started getting into my head, and I decided to get up and:

Pay Bills
Reconcile Checking Account
Order Photos for 2012

Once I publish this post, I will have accomplished my whole list for the day by 6:30am!
I have been wanting to make these little Hot Corn Bags for awhile now.  Last week, I made a couple!  I'm thinking these will make fun gifts this Christmas...and also, I'm hoping to make up a bunch for the January Craft Fair!

This week has been a lazy week for me...not because there's nothing to do, but I just haven't found the energy/motivation.  Something clicked last night at about 5pm...I started zipping around the house getting things done!  It felt great!  Maybe that's why it was easier to get up this morning...I knew the house was tidy and I could just jump right into my projects for the day.  I even laid out the ingredients/tools for our Buttermilk Waffles before I went to bed last night.  Makes getting up so much more fun.

Today, I'm hoping to pick up my photos from Walgreens, sort them, and make the GG (great grandma) pages for their scrapbooks.  Remember this post?  If I can get those scrapbook pages done (12 pages x 3) and also clean 3 bathrooms...I will feel like a hero by the days end.

Let's get organized...Christmas is coming!

XOXO Tiffany

"They walked along the road; Scrooge recognising every gate, and post, and tree; until a little market-town appeared in the distance, with its bridge, its church, and winding river".  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Monday, December 17, 2012

Food at the Miller's

 Good Morning!  I'm just getting my Monday rolling with a little Blog Time.  The kids and I will do a bit of school today (reading, piano, math, read a loud, Advent) and then I've got some errands to run.  I'm really looking forward to this week.  It's kind of nice to have a full week before Christmas.  I think I'm gonna be ready!  Well, for this post, I thought I'd share a few of the things we've eaten over the past couple of weeks.  The good, the bad, the ugly...
 We make Christmas cookies every week in December...sometimes two a week!  I let each of the kids help me with a different one.  This is MJ's favorite Christmas Cookie (if you can call it a cookie).  And there isn't much more I love than to hang out in the kitchen with my little dude.  I posted this recipe last year here...
 But, of course, it's just 3 ingredients.  Scatter some pretzels on a cookie sheet, top with a Rolo, place in a 250 degree oven for 4 minutes.  When you pull them out, press an M&M into the top.  Done!
 I had a tough time getting back into my cooking groove after our road trip.  So, one day we had a big ol' pot of Annie's Mac and Cheese, veggies and dip, and a smoothie.  That wasn't so bad.
 But then on a Sunday night...I was just not in the mood to cook, so Sweetie picked us up some Thai food.  It's just so good.
 My fortune...which of course I thought was just perfect.  Sweetie couldn't help clearing his throat after I read the "gentle nature" part of my fortune. this, I am so excited about!!!  I posted my egg roll recipe here...but I've changed it!!!  Oh my goodness...I've gone and made it vegetarian and so much healthier!  Just two little changes...
1.  instead of browning up ground turkey...boil up a cup of Bulgar (100% whole grain wheat...I buy Bob's Red Mill or a big bag at Costco) in 2 cups of water and make the rest of the recipe just the same.  Bulgar is one of those amazing foods that I discovered this last year when making my friends Vegetarian Bulgar Chili.  Bulgar cooks up and looks like ground beef!  So much healthier (and cheaper) and you never miss the meat!
 2.  Then...instead of frying them up in peanut oil...I fried them up in 1 cup of coconut oil and 1 cup of olive oil!  So much healthier and it didn't stink up the house like peanut and canola oils do.

So, this batch makes 30 egg rolls.  We make 15 the first day and 15 the next day, since they are best fresh from the frying pan.  But, on the second day, I thought...I wonder if I can do 1 cup coconut oil and 1 cup of grape seed oil???  Sure enough, you can!
 These were crispy and yummy...Sweetie didn't miss the ground turkey at all.  In fact, he didn't even know I had changed a thing!  I told him on the second day and he was all, "you're kidding?".  He loved them.  Served these up with my homemade sweet and sour sauce and a smoothie (yogurt, milk, bananas, frozen berries).

We have moved to a more Flexitarian diet.  Which is a mostly real food/plant based/non processed can eat meat in moderation (quality meat served in a small quantity).  I haven't bought meat in months...mostly because I don't want to pay the Organic Grass Fed Free Range prices.  I buy quality milk, eggs, and yogurt.  And, mostly organic fruit and veggies.  The money we have saved on meat has balanced everything out.  And, the Flexitarian diet has worked well for us because is isn't so restrictive.  We can go out to eat or eat and a friends house and enjoy some meat.  We just really don't have it at home.

We are definitely not the poster child family for the Flexitarian Diet...but it is the one that I feel most connected to after all my food research (books/dvd's) over the last year.  I'm still a fan of all things in moderation (like our Christmas Cookies).  And this...
I love homemade hot cocoa...and I have a recipe that I just love!  But, when the kids come in from a freezing cold Minnesota winter day...they want their cocoa and they want it fast.  Costco had this big can for like $14.  It is crazy yummy.  I just wish the lid came off easier.  That thing is a bear!  Sometimes I make myself some cocoa in the early morning, and that lid goes flying off clinking and clanging all over the kitchen floor.  Sheesh.

I'm off to make some Blueberry Muffins.  Have a fabulous Monday!

XOXO Tiffany

"The gentle wife of his dreams waited up for him and had hot coffee and something nice to eat ready".  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Friday, December 14, 2012

Miller Road Trip 2012...Arkansas (the finale)

My list is long today...feels a bit like Groundhogs Day.  When is that list not long?  Today, I need to start the laundry, pay bills, finish addressing Christmas cards, and work on my "pile".  I am also working on a list for the next 10 days.  I am writing each day on the left hand side of my notebook and next to it, I'm writing down all the things that I need to bring to that event.  (somebody's house (dessert/gift etc.), the wrestling match, church, small group, piano recital etc).  That way I can check the list before we leave the house and make sure that I have everything.  I'm hoping that helps me out for the next 10 days.  I think I only have 2 more gifts to buy!  A gift card and some stocking stuff.
So, this is the 5th state that we visited on this trip.  At first, I thought, "what in the world is there in Arkansas???"  Oh my...I LOVED Arkansas.  The topography of that state is gorgeous.  Mountains one minute, rolling hills and rivers the next.  Then all of the sudden, you think you're in the Grand Canyon.  A really beautiful state.  I want to go back and spend some time in (historic) Hot Springs.  There was a Craft Show while we were there, but the family vetoed it, so I didn't get to go in and peek.  Though, in their defence, it was going to be a rather long day.

We started our day in Dallas, Texas.  We were all in the mood for donuts, so we found a little place called Fantastic Donuts.  Ha!  A little hole in the wall place that sold..."fantastic" donuts.  Mediocre coffee, but great donuts.  The guy even threw in a free bag of donut balls!  Then, it was off to Crater of the Diamonds State Park.  We were going to dig for diamonds!  This place, and the beach, were in a tie for the kids favorite things to do on the trip.  Kids just want to be outside in nature.  It was a gorgeous sunny, cool fall day in Arkansas.  A great day for rock hunting!
Crater of the Diamonds State Park is the only diamond-producing site in the world that is open to the public.  We got to search on a 37 acre plowed field of an ancient volcanic crater.  You get to keep whatever rocks/gems/diamonds you find.  Almost 30,000 diamonds have been found there since 1972. 
We dug, scraped, picked...looked and looked and looked.
We found lots of little sparkly things!!!! 
Sweetie ran out to the car and grabbed our "lunch".  A cooler full of healthy snacks that, frankly, we were all getting a little sick of.  But, the kids did not want to leave this place.  So, they sat and had their lunch, and got a little more digging in.  I really enjoyed searching for cool rocks...Sweetie would have rather watched paint dry (but he put on a good show for the kids).  The kids were in heaven!
We each filled a little glass tube of our treasured rocks.  The other rocks went into a little brown bag.  Then, we took our treasures up to the rock expert.  Any diamonds???  We totally thought so...Sweetie was ready to quit his job!  Nope.  Lots of quartzite and calcite.  Lots and lots of other pretty rocks too.
Off to Hot Springs...
We drove down historic Bathhouse Row and went to their visitor center and watched a video on the bathhouses.
Lots of Hot Springs fountains around...the kids loved touching the slime.  There were some cute little shops in this town and I would love to go back and do the spa.  I was hoping they had some spa options for families...but, pretty much the kids need to be 12 to do anything cool. 
Then, we drove to Little Rock where we were spending the night.  Sweetie and I saw a sign for The Purple Cow restaurant and couldn't think of anything else.  The kids wanted Mexican again...come on, what kid doesn't want to eat at the Purple Cow???  Sweetie and I trumped them and took them to The Purple Cow...what a cute little diner!  We pounded our food and then ordered our purple ice cream.
Our server only brought 2 spoons (really???) and he was super busy, so we made good use of our forks and knives.

The next day we woke up and made our way back up to Kansas City.  We decided to stay at a water park hotel.  It was our last night on the road.  We had done and seen it all.  We were getting tired and things started bothering us.  Like that butterscotch/urine smell in the hotel room?  Ish.  I wanted my own home and my own bed.  We didn't even leave the hotel for dinner.  The kids didn't want to go anywhere (neither did I).  There were so many drunks around b/c we were right next to the Kansas City Chiefs football stadium...and, it was a Sunday...and, it was cold.  We were going to go out for BBQ...but ended up eating pizza, chicken strips, and mac and cheese down in the hotel restaurant (blech!).  I usually only like to eat breakfast at hotels (more out of convenience).
The next morning...heading back home!  It's fun to miss home.  We were all ready to get back.  Hindsight, we probably all would have rather drove from Little Rock Arkansas all the way home.  It would have been a long day in the car (13+ hours), but I think we would have been fine.  When the trip is done, it's done.

Overall, we had a blast and of course, I'm already planning our next trip.  I would either like to head out to Seattle and drive the coast down to Oregon and work our way back.  Or, I really want to hit the coast of North and South Carolina and Georgia.  Or, maybe do Kentucky and Ohio.  We'll see!  20 States down, 30 to go!

Time to get busy...

XOXO Tiffany

"...darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it".  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (I'm reading this to the kids). 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sewing Wednesday...another infinity scarf

 I've had this fabric for a long time...Zebra Organza (more volume than a chiffon).  I don't even remember where I got it...probably at SR Harris since it is still on the roll.  I've been wondering for years what to do with it...well, I decided to make another infinity scarf.  This one is for my mama for Christmas! (oh, I made myself one too)
 I cut the fabric 60" long.
 Then I folded that section in half and cut it on the fold at about 29".  So, I ended up with a 29 x 60" rectangle.
 I folded it the long way (right sides doesn't show that...whoops).
 Serged it along the edge into a tube.  Don't forget to remove the pin!  You could always just stitch it on your regular old sewing machine.
 Press the seam.  Then, with right sides together, take the two open holes (at each end) and start pinning them together as far as you can go.  Stitch or serge.  You will end up with an opening about 3" wide.
 Hand stitch that opening closed and press.
Hopefully my mom doesn't peek at my blog before Christmas!

The other two that I made, I didn't do an enclosed tube.  I cut the 29 x 60 in half the long way and ended up with approx 15 x 60" strip.  Then I just stitched the two short ends together and finished both sides of the edging by serging and folding twice and stitching.  It's a little less voluminous, but still a cute little scarf.  I think I will sell some of these at the...

CRAFT FAIR that I just signed up for!!!  2013 is the year that I can do a couple of craft fairs.  It was nice to have a break, but I can't wait to get back out there!

I'm hoping to make some of those rice/corn hot bags.  I'll keep you posted.

XOXO Tiffany

"Dear God", she prayed, "let me be something every minute of every hour of my life".  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (I really loved this book and don't know if I'll ever stop quoting it...)  

Monday, December 10, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!! + Cookies

 We finally have a white December!  It's been awhile.  We sure are loving all the snow over here at the Miller House.
 I finally finished my Cookbook!  I have been working on this project off and on for a year or so now.  I wanted all the recipes that I use and love to be printed neatly in one spot.  Mission accomplished!  I typed up all my recipes in Excel...with different tabs at the bottom to organize them by category.  Once I had that done, I printed all the pages and put them in sleeve protectors (from Costco).
 Then, I put them in a 3-Ring binder.
 Done!  All my "go to" recipes in one spot!  It makes me want to make something!  For the past few months, I have been having to run back and forth to my computer every time I want to make a recipe.  So nice to have the recipes back in my kitchen!
 Lucy and I made Cornflake Wreaths the other day.  I have been skipping the food coloring in things lately.  Did you ever know how horrible they are for you?  Read this post in 100 Days of Real Food...filled with chemicals from petroleum.  An eye opener.
 I suppose eventually I won't be using the little red hots either.  Sheesh.

Here is my recipe:
Cornflake Wreaths:
1/2 cup butter
4 cups mini marshmallows
1 tsp green food coloring (if you dare)
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups cornflakes cereal
Cinnamon red hot candies

Microwave marshmallows and butter for 2 minutes.
Stir and microwave for an additional 2 minutes.  Stir.
Add the coloring and extracts and mix quickly.  Stir in the cornflakes.
Drop by spoonfuls onto greased wax paper and decorate with 3 red hots.
 Last Sunday the girls and I made a double batch of Butter Spritz cookies.  They were hosting their Book Club.  They read Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield (You've Got Mail anyone?).  Great girls LOVED it.  As you can see...I didn't dye the dough or add colored sprinkles.  These are so good as girls didn't complain.  They just loved working the spritzer!  Here is my recipe:

Butter Spritz Cookies
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift together the flour and salt.  Cream the butter and sugar in mixer.
Add the egg yolks and extracts.  Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
Fill a cookie press and squeeze the cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 400 degrees for 6 minutes.
 Lucy had a swim meet this weekend.  She is trying to get her Champ Time in her 100 Backstroke.  Here is her Breakfast of Champions.  Peanut butter toast with bananas and hot chocolate.
 She shaved 4 seconds off of her time and only missed her Champ Time by .15 seconds!!!  That girl is going to get it next time...she wants it bad.
 Oh, that beautiful snow!  On Sunday morning, MJ had to go out and shovel a path for our little Coco.  I'm guessing we got around 14".
I took this picture this was still snowing.

My list is long...but some friends want to meet out at the Elm Creek Sledding Hill at 12:30pm today...can't pass it up.  Have a great day!

XOXO Tiffany

"The surprise was "hot chocolate" which was cocoa and condensed milk made into a paste and boiling water stirred into it".  A Tree Grown in Brooklyn by Betty Smith