Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 in Review

2011, What a year! Here's a quick "Year in Review"

January is the month my baby boy turned 2! We had a great cowboy party with a Western Village for the kids to play in. And... ...Callie and I were able to take a quick trip to Michigan to spend some quality time with my Mam-maw and Aunt Robin. It was a fabulous trip, and super cold, too!

February took Patrick and his Mom to St. Barths to try and find us a place to live and to start preparing things for our move.

March was a month full of meetings, trying to raise the rest of our support. It was also my Elisabeth's 13th birthday! And... ....we tried to squeeze in as much extra time with our family as possible!

April was a super super busy month! Our home church, Winkler Road Baptist Church, had our sending service. It was a pretty emotional time for our family, that's for sure! Here's a picture of my sweet 3 sisters and their families singing, "Bury my Heart" at our send-off service. And... was also a month for packing, packing, and more packing!

May was a life changer month. This is the month we moved to St. Barthelemy. This was a day I thought would never come! My family came to drop us off at the airport. It was so hard to say good-bye! And... was also Callie Grace's one year birthday! Wow! Time has flown!

June brought another Josh turned 15! And... was a month of settling in and enjoying the island of St. Barths! And...

...a shipment of our stuff really helps! :o) In July Brenna Shay turned 12! Of course we had to spend the day snorkeling!

In August we had a special surprise! Marc (Patrick's brother) came for a visit and to work for his Aunt and Uncle. It was a blessing to have him around!

September was time for some new 5 kiddo pics. It sure is hard to get that perfect one! And...

It was time for school to begin! Josh is now in 10th grade, Elisabeth in 8th and Brenna in 7th.

October was a very exciting month... My parents came to visit and we had an amazing and fun-filled week! When it was time for them to leave, I had to go back to Florida with them to renew my passport and file for my Visa. At the beginning of November there was a lot of uncertainties. Elisabeth, Silas, Callie and I were still in Florida awaiting my passport and Visa. We ran into some problems with the Consolate in Chicago for the girls paperwork. Even though we were having a great time in Florida, it was a time of testing for us to be away from Patrick, Josh and Brenna for so long. We prayed for the Lord to work all things out and let us be home for Thanksgiving. He answered our prayers and we made it home 3 days before!

December...Whew! What a busy month, and we're still recovering! We went caroling and made cookies, and decorated our tree and had a fabulous Christmas! We were excited to have a total (including our family) of 11 in services on Christmas Day!

As I look back on 2011, I see how good God has been to us! I look forward to see Him work in 2012!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

ReUsable Shopping Bags

I had a great time doing some sewing before Christmas! I came up with the idea to recover/redo some shopping bags and it worked out very well! Here, they do not give you shopping bags when you go to the grocery store (I'm still having a hard time breaking down and buying bathroom size trash bags!), so we buy the reusable kind. Who wouldn't want a personalized bag for shopping? :o)
I bought the largest size bag that they have here. I cut it into three basic pieces. 2 pieces are the sides and one is the bottom. I trimmed up the sides so they had the same width as the bottom piece.

Then, I cut fabric to fit on each piece. For the sides, I put a different colored strip on the top, just to make it a little different. (As I made more, I varied this pattern up for fun!) I also cut two strips for the handles. (I won't give you the measurements on those, because for every bag I made I changed it. I couldn't decide how long and how wide I liked it!)

For the handles I ironed each piece to the middle, then folded the whole thing in half. Then, I stitched it down. For every bag, I tried a new fun stitch on my machine. I loved this part!

Then, I sewed the cut up bag to the fabric. First, I ironed down 1/2 inch on the top so to make a little neater finish and not have a raw edge. I also tried to do varied lines, almost quilting style. I also sewed on the handle. First, I tucked it under the piece that is folded over the bag....

...then, folded it back up, so to try and secure the handle down really well.

You should now have 3 basic sections. Sew a side to one side of the bottom. (right sides together)

Then, add the other side to the other side of the bottom piece.

Then, put right sides together and sew up the sides!

To make the box bottom, I folded down the center bottom of the bag until it was a point. Then, I measured and drew 2 1/2 inches from the point, sewed down the line, then cut.

Turn right side out and you're finished! I ended up making 8 in all and had a great time doing it! I am definitely not an expert at sewing. (My Mom taught me this week one of the basics, that I really should have known!)

This was one of my first bag projects! But, I'm excited about how they turned out.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Different, but Merry

So, my last post was about our "Very Merry Christmas" It truly was wonderful! But, celebrating a holiday for the first time in a new place can be a little different. Different isn't always bad, though. These were good "differents!" I thought I would share just a few. I love to bake lots and lots during the holidays. This time it was hard to find everything that I usually have so easily at hand. I couldn't find mint extract, but I posted that in my cookie post. I couldn't find chocolate chips...that's okay, candy bars work great! No cream of mushroom soup, or cream of chicken. But, I did find Cream of Asparagus. I sort of thought "yuk" when I saw it, but when we tried it, it was actually quite nice and worked well for our Christmas Casseroles. The only chocolate covered cherries were super expensive! I'm used to buying the Walmart 96 cent pack! No eggnog either :o( No candy canes (except for colored ones), No Christmas tree lots.
BUT...they do have some really cool things here for Christmas. They have lots and lots of chocolate! I mean HUGE boxes full of all kinds of Chocolate! Now that's good! The Super-Mega Yachts that they have come in are so fun to go and watch. They are soooo shiney! Downtown was all lit up and super busy with tourists. It definitely gave it a "festive air!"
The traditional desserts here are definitely different. Two of Patrick's Aunt made us the Pudding that is very well loved here around Christmas. It's a very long and tedious process. You add White Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin, raisins, and I'm not sure what else. It was good. The above picture is one way of cooking the pudding. It was inside of this Sea Grape leaf and then tied with string. The below picture is the one baked in the oven.

We also felt very french when we sampled Smoked Salmon on toast with fresh Lime. Also, it's really big around here to have Duck Liver Mousse served over little breads. I really liked that! And you know iron is good for a pregnant girl! :o)

So, even though it was different, it was really great! We felt french and very islandy! The cool thing about St. Barths is that it is soooo french European, but very Caribbean at the same time! I love the place God has called us to!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Very Merry Christmas

We had such a great Christmas and made so many fun memories! Here is a quick run-down of our day. We decided to do things a little differently this year since Christmas was on a Sunday. On Christmas Eve we opened our stockings, then revealed what our stocking gift for Jesus was last year. After that we gave our new gifts to Him and had a good time of prayer.

Christmas morning we finished our preparations for Sunday Services. There wasn't a whole lot to be done...we tried to get it done the day before.
Our services were great! We sang Christmas songs together, read the account of Jesus birth out of Luke chapter 2, then Patrick preached a great message on the importance of "receiving" Christ. Brenna also played a special on the piano and did a great job!

This picture shows the benefits of starting a church in your home :o) and of living on a tropical island!

After our services we exchanged some gifts. We are so thankful for Patrick's Grandma (Mama) who faithfully comes every Sunday!

We enjoyed a meal together of Ham, Potato Casserole, Green Beans and a Salad. For dessert Josh made a Snickerdoodle cake and Brenna made a Frosty Pumpkin Dessert.

Here's our group shot. We had four sweet ladies come. If you count our 7 that gave us 11! Yay!

After our services were finished, it was time for our family time to open gifts. It was a little strange not opening gifts first thing in the morning, but we knew it would be easier this way, this year. Josh is so funny and insisted that we really should be in our PJs!

God blessed us with so many wonderful gifts! Too many! It was a great day and we are so thankful for Jesus birth. Just think, He came to earth to die for us. He loves us so much!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cookies and Caroling

What a fun Christmas this has been! Patrick had been praying about how to reach out to as many people as possible during this time. We just had some new flyers printed up inviting everyone to our Sunday services and we thought it would be a perfect time to pass them out. So, he decided we would go Christmas Caroling American Style! It was great! We practiced and prepared two songs to sing in French. The first was "Hark the Harold Angels Sing." We worked hard at learning the harmony and I'm very excited about how it turned out. Then, we sang the ever popular French Christmas song, "Il Est Nè Le Divin Enfant." We then made up goodie bags with our brochure, a gospel tract, French John and Romans, and a Christmas potholder that Elisabeth and Brenna had made. For some bags we put in a batch of our Christmas cookies or some Banana Bread.

I posted on Facebook not too long ago asking for ideas of what to do if you can't find Mint Extract. We needed it for our peppermint pinwheels! I got some great responses like, "Candy Canes" (Only candy canes we could find were pink and I think it was cotton candy flavor), "Peppermint Patties or candies" (not available here) "Food grade Peppermint Oil" (mine that I had in the medicine cabinet wasn't food grade) So, we were sort of stuck until Josh and I found Mint Syrup! We tried it and it basically ruined our whole pinwheel concept. The flavor just wasn't strong enough and it was too much liquid for our cookie dough. So....we just improvised and made cut-out star cookies, Elves Snickerdoodles and Fudge. Gotta have the fudge, right?

We really had a great time going Caroling. Everyone was so kind! One sweet family said that they've only seen this on American Movies. Visiting here is definitely different than in the states. When you go to someone's house to sing for them, you are always invited to visit for a while and offered something to drink and eat. One place we were even fed dinner, though we were unexpected! :o) One family put some chips on a plate for us to munch on while we visited. Silas started chowing down and said rather loudly, "This is my lunch!" How embarrassing! He had been fed lunch 3 hours earlier! I'm glad this family only spoke french! Josh said when we go visiting in the states we will definitely experience some reverse culture shock! Please pray with us that we will see people come to know the Lord as a result of our Caroling Fun!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Simple One

I think the traditions that I remember the most as a child, and the ones my kiddos remember, too, are the simple ones. The let's-just-be-together ones.

A few Christmas's ago I bought a book filled with Christmas stories like "Twas the Night before Christmas" "The Nutcracker" and "The Drummer Boy." I think there are over 30 of them in there! When I bought the book we started the tradition of reading one (or several!) of the stories by the lit up tree, with lots of candle light, and homemade cocoa. It's such a sweet quiet time and I love it! We usually do this several times through the season.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

We tried this recipe from Allrecipes for Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins. They were fabulous and everybody loved them! I thought I would share! Here's the link!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Needing a Date

Don't you find that Christmas season can just be so super busy, that you don't have as much time with your sweet man? Patrick and I felt that way, so we knew it was time for a date! Remember that gorgeous spot that me and the kiddos hiked up to? I knew right away it would be a perfect romantic spot! We went to the top with two backpacks in hand. One with a blanket and fried chicken. The other with potato salad, two pepsis and chocolate cake. Perfect picnic food!

It was the perfect time to see the sunset....well, maybe the clouds did cover the sun, but it was a perfect, cheap date. And we needed time alone so much!

This is definitely something we need to do more often! I love date night. So, for a sneak peak :o) one of my goals for the new year is to make sure dates happen! They don't have to be expensive (this one was free!), they just need to be time together, just me and my man.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Special Visitor

Last week for our services we had a special person "attend" was Patrick's Mom, Denise! Patrick asked her if this once she would be able to join us via Skype for our Sunday services. Everyone was excited to see her. We are very blessed to have been called to a place that we have family here. Not all missionaries have that benefit. St. Barths is the island Denise was born on, so she has lots of family here and lots of memories. The sweet lady in the middle seat, wearing red, is Denise's Mom (Patrick's Grandmother.) She was especially excited to see her daughter and to have services together! After services we enjoyed our meal of Creamy Chicken over rice, Broccoli/Cauliflower Salad, Iced Tea and Jello Poke Cake. Denise ate with us and made herself a ham sandwich and a nice glass of coke with lots of ice. (I think Brenna and I were sort of coveting her Coke!) It was fun to have her eat with us! (For now our three faithful ladies sit around the table with Patrick, Silas, Callie and I. Josh, Elisabeth and Brenna all eat their lunch in the living room.)

Then, after lunch Denise gave everyone a tour of her home. Mama (that's what we call Patrick's Grandma) has never seen Denise's new house.

It was a great day! Praise the Lord for modern technology!