Saturday, January 31, 2015

What I've been up to

In an interesting turn of events, I came to be the owner of a brand-new, super fancy embroidery machine last week that was given to me for FREE. I will write about how I came by this blessing in a separate post, but for now, I just wanted to share some of the projects that have been keeping me busy (in case you were wondering about my blogging absence). 

Most all of what I have been making are appliques, as opposed to just embroidery stitches. Prior to receiving this machine, I had never done either, so the learning curve was steep to say the least.  

My first project ever

 Matching shirts for the girls

A hooded towel I made as a gift for a new baby at church (modeled by Annika)

There have been a few other projects that I can't share here, because they are gifts. :) And all this in just the last week! To say it's addicting is an understatement.

Surprisingly, this is actually a wonderful hobby for a busy mom like myself, because the work is done in many little steps. Once I get the machine going on the next step, I can walk away to switch a load of laundry, do a chore, deal with the kids, etc. while the machine does the stitching, and then pop back in to move on to the next step whenever I have a minute. Perfect!

And, it's a great diversion after CPS comes knocking at your door completely unwarranted in the middle of the night after some hater presumably places an unfounded emergency call to them. (insert eye roll) Even the accompanying police officers were apologetic about disturbing us, and promptly left, not to be heard from again as of yet. Thanks to our church's notoriety, we are no strangers to the Tempe PD, and I will admit that as police officers go, ours have always been nice to us. Anyhow, we do not expect that anything will come of the current malicious attack on our family. We have received legal advice on how to proceed, and ways we can go after those making false accusations (which are actually a crime in and of themselves). I would appreciate everyone keeping us in their prayers, as our family is a constant target for hate and viciousness from a few hateful reprobates. If anything else happens, or the situation changes, I will update you all here.

For now, I'm back to my wonderful embroidery machine. So much to do, so little time!

P.S. Apologies to my Facebook friends, who have heard me talk about little else beside my new obsession this week - and now it's reached the blog, too!

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Truth About Martin Luther King Jr.

Watch this documentary and learn the well-documented truth about this man.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Recipe for Enchilada Sauce

Considering the fact that I had only once eaten Mexican food in my first 21 years of life, I like to flatter myself and think I have become quite the Tex-Mex chef since getting married and moving half-way across the world. 

This is a recipe I created by combining my favorite elements from various other recipes, when I needed some enchilada sauce and didn't have any in the house. It is all I have used in years now - I just can't go back to the store-bought kind.

It makes a large batch, but I typically freeze portions of it in quart size freezer bags, to pull out and use as necessary. 

The basic idea is that you start with a roux that is thickened with equal parts of flour and chili powder. Then, equal parts of chicken broth and tomato sauce are added for the liquid to make the sauce. Add seasonings, and presto - it's done. 

(If you don't know what the heck a roux is, just follow the instructions and pretend to know. Your sauce will be none the wiser, and will still turn out perfect.)

You don't have to use home-canned tomato sauce and homemade broth. That's just what I had in the house, but it works equally well with ready ingredients


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup mild chili powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
4 cups chicken broth/stock
4 cups tomato sauce
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp cumin

1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large, heavy pot. 

2. Add the chili powder and the flour, stir to combine. Allow this "roux" to cook for just a minute, until fragrant. 

3. Gradually stir in tomato sauce and chicken broth while whisking continuously. The sauce will start out very thick as the dry flour and chili powder absorb all moisture, but you turn the perfect consistency by the time all the fluids are stirred in.

4. Add the seasonings, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Done! Enjoy :)

Click on image, then select "Print"

By the way, the sauce tastes wonderful in THIS recipe, for which I also use my easy biscuits.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Upcoming Question and Answer Session

Do you remember my most recent Q & A Session, which was streamed live through YouTube? Well, guess what - I am doing another one! :)

To submit a question for me to answer, please leave it in the comments below. In addition, I will also be taking as many questions as I can from those submitted live during the event in the comments feed.

I hope you will be able to join us!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Snow Much Fun

Most people imagine all of Arizona as a hot desert. Which is true for some parts of it, but other parts of the state are at high elevations, and have a climate radically different from us, complete with snow in the winter, ski resorts, etc.

Here in the Phoenix area, snow is very rare, but not entirely unheard of. In fact, this is the second winter in a row that we have seen snow in parts of our valley. Even the years before that, we have had hail and frost for several years in a row. This "global warming" is sure going marvelously well in our area - ha!

When we saw snow last week on Superstition Mountain, I loaded up the kids and took them out of town a little ways to go hiking in the "snow". The temperature was a solid 47 degrees and the skies were sunny, which was still plenty cold for us. 

There was enough snow to throw some snowballs and otherwise have fun, and since I was out with all 8 kids by myself, that's about all I could handle.

We are planning on taking a trip with the whole family to Flagstaff later this month for some sledding and much, much more snow.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Our Christmas

We had a lovely Christmas around here. Last year, with all the twin complications going on, was the first year in the history of our family that I felt it was not the best Christmas ever. So this year, I was thankful to once again feel that we had the best Christmastime ever.

Not only did Boaz celebrate his First Christmas this year, but I am also keenly aware of the fact that we may only have a handful more Christmases with our oldest ones still living at home. Sniff!!! This growing up thing is happening way too fast! I am so glad that we took off the whole time from Thanksgiving week until today, even though it made for more work between extra activities to keep the kids busy, and them slacking on their usual responsibilities a bit. And being super hyper leading up to Christmas from sheer excitement!

Finally, I found we struck the perfect balance of buying the kids nice gifts, without overdoing it, spoiling them and overwhelming our limited living quarters. Also, we staggered the gift opening in a way that was less chaotic and rushed, while offering more time to enjoy the gifts individually. We will be repeating this pattern from here on out. This is what we did:

Gifts in the mail from relatives etc.: Opened upon arrival

Gifts between the children: Christmas Eve before dinner
(each child gives one gift to the person whose name they drew in November)

Gifts between the parents: Christmas Eve after kids are in bed

Gifts from parents to children and children to parents: Christmas morning, but don't wake us early! :)

The big boys got a joint gift of a Lego castle, as well as some books, one small individual gift each, and lights for their bike tires (= fun and practical). This is in addition to the gift they each got from another sibling, and what came in the mail.

The girls love playing with princess Playmobil. Becky got the castle in the picture below a couple of years ago, so this year, we bought them one other castle (it's no longer sold, but I found it on Craigslist with no figures or anything, just the empty castle), and each of the girls got a set for a different room in the castle. So now they can use these castles to fill them with various rooms, depending on what they are pretending that day. Usually, it's weddings. :)

The girls also each got a couple of individual gifts (doll stuff - they are all into that right now).

Stephen got a couple of Playmobil 123 sets, which he loves. With him being the 7th child, we already have a nice collection, but he likes the vehicles best of all so we got him the dump truck and the backhoe. Boaz, in our typical (and apparently controversial) fashion did not get any gifts on his first Christmas, besides getting to play with the wrapping paper and boxes. Because, let's face it, eating mashed potatoes, watching the lights and excitement, and tearing gift wrap are the most important aspects of this holiday for a 7-month old ;)

My husband gave me a beautiful, handmade (by an artisan, not him *wink*) wooden cutting board. I had seen it earlier in the month at one of the booths at the German Christmas market. I did not know that when he went back to feed the meter, he also stopped by the booth to buy it. Needless to say, I was blown away. It took me a few days to get over the mental barrier of cutting mundane things like onions on top of an artistic masterpiece, but the wood is holding up beautifully, and not even showing any marks from cutting.

The children gave me a Lego set for a model of Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, as well as a beautiful shawl/scarf/wrap made of bamboo and wool. Both were very thoughtful and perfect gifts that I was thrilled to receive.

My sanity was perfectly preserved on Christmas Day because I served a breakfast that took zero work on my part - frozen overnight croissants from Trader Joe's. Lunch was a honey glazed ham with all the sides, but I kept it pretty down to earth and enjoyed the day instead of just cooking.

So, yes, a great Christmas for many reasons. 

Thank you to everyone who mailed us a Christmas card, and I apologize that we did not send out any this year except for a handful to immediate family. I saw this idea on Large Families On Purpose, and just loved it:

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Friday, January 2, 2015

My dolls and their dollies

After my most popular Pinterest pin of all time has been repinned almost 800 times since I first pinned it, I finally got around to making miniature Krispy Kreme doughnuts and coffee out of polymer clay for my girls' dolls.

This original set is too small for the 18-inch dolls, so I scaled it up to make it suitable for them.

I have since also made the girls a larger version of this apple pie, and started a Pinterest board with other ideas for polymer clay foods.

Speaking of the girls and their dolls, I made all 6 of them matching nightgowns/PJs. In fact, I made myself a nightgown of the same fabric to match them all, but I'll spare you a photo of that. :)

Typical Becky... I just noticed that Annie's doll is holding the apple pie I mentioned above.

Another typical Becky ;)

Personally, I find it crucial to my sanity to have a creative outlet that I can work on in little bouts here and there every day. When it doubles as something fun, productive, or practical - so much the better!